21 July 2014
Update from the Heartland
14.7.14 – 20.7.14
“It is Messi, not Messier.”
Indeed, many of you caught my literary faux pas. To all, I offer my most humble apologies for misspelling the family name of Lionel Andrés “Leo” Messi – the forward for Spanish fútbol club FC Barcelona and the captain of the Argentina national team. Thank you all for your diligence and constructive criticism. I try to get it right, but clearly do not always succeed. Again, my apologies!
We can always count on a flare up on the Israeli-Palestinian situation. To my knowledge, this latest rendition of the perpetual conflict began with the brutal, tortuous murder of three Israeli teenage boys – one with a U.S. passport. The boys disappeared on 12.June; they were found dead north of Hebron on 30.June. The following Wednesday (2.July) a Palestinian boy walking home from morning prayers in the pre-dawn hours was abducted and murdered. Shortly thereafter, Hamas militants in Gaza began lobbing a variety of homemade, Russian and Iranian rockets into Israel. Despite valiant efforts by Egyptian diplomats to broker a ceasefire and negotiations, Israeli Defense Force ground units entered northern Gaza [17.July], going after Hamas rocket launchers and border infiltration tunnels. Apparently, Hamas wants the people they are supposed to support and protect to be the victim; they want the Israelis to strike and they want as many women and children bloodied and killed to further their malicious purposes. Now the question is how long will this violence last?
Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 disappeared from air traffic control radar while enroute from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, on an established airway in cruise flight at FL330 – above the briefed 32,000-foot ceiling over the conflict zone in Eastern Ukraine. The time and date were: 16:20 [B], Thursday, 17.July.2014. The wreckage and debris appears to be spread over a very long area near the village of Torez, Donetsk Region, Ukraine – roughly 30 miles from the border with Russia. The size of the debris field is indicative of an in-flight break-up. Given other uncorroborated information, there is very little doubt the commercial aircraft was shot down by a sophisticated Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM). The rebels in the area have reportedly recovered the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), and both boxes were reportedly sent to Moscow. Also, a Buk Mk-1 [NATO: SA-11] SAM launcher with 1 or 2 missiles missing was photographed being transported by flatbed truck to Russia. I strongly suspect we will never see those items again. Whether it was a mistake by ill-trained operators or a calculated intentional act, the fact remains 298 innocents lives were sacrificed at the altar of Putin’s ego. MH17 was certainly not the first commercial aircraft to be shot down by military weapons. Past major events:
-- 1.September.1983 – Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (B747-2B5B) shot down by Soviet Su-15 fighters just past Sakhalin Island after overflying Kamchatka without clearance, enroute from (New York) Anchorage to Seoul,
-- 3.July.1988 - Iran Air Flight 655 (A300B2-200) shot down by USS Vincennes (CG-49) enroute from Bandar Abbas to Dubai,
-- 4.October.2001 – Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 (Tu-154M) shot down by SAM fired from Crimean Peninsula, while aircraft was in cruise flight at FL360, enroute from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk.
Unfortunately, they will not be the last. Now, we add another incident.
Those who claim the Russian-backed separatists or the Russians themselves had no motive to shoot down a commercial aircraft are apparently blind to reality. Putin has been carving up the sovereign nation of Ukraine ever since the pro-Western rebellion ousted the Kremlin’s lackey Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych [23.February.2014]. There is also no doubt the Putin regime instigated the separatist movement in Eastern Ukraine as its surrogate to accomplish the carving with some modicum of plausible deniability. Let us not be fooled by Putin propaganda. Sure, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin may be a hapless victim of the nationalistic, glory-days forces he unleashed but he remains the leader, just as Josef Stalin was in his day. Putin must keep sufficient mystery and uncertainty in any potential investigation to maintain that deniability. I also suspect that if we were allowed to fully interrogate these so-called separatists we would find a substantial portion are FSB, MVD, GRU, Spetsnaz and other Russian special operators. Putin’s plausible deniability is eroding rapidly.
Ironically, on the evening of 17.July, CNN broadcast its Special Report titled: Witnessed: The Crash of TWA Flight 800 – the 18th anniversary of what remains one of the most controversial in-flight explosions of a commercial airliner on a revenue mission. There was nothing new in the report, just a different perspective of the same information. The report offered an animation of the government’s hypothesis, but did not even mention the other hypotheses, including ours. There was never a debate or even question about what happened once the combustible fuel-air vapor in the Center Wing Tank (CWT) ignited; well, we must exclude that bogus CIA animation intended to create a reasonable doubt with the witnesses. The whole debate hangs upon what ignited the CWT vapors? We cannot prove our hypothesis. The U.S. Government (USG) has not proven their hypothesis. We need the USG’s classified information to either prove one hypothesis or another, or disprove all other hypotheses (Occam’s Razor). Regrettably, we may not see what the USG has concealed until 2046; I will be 98 years old. I have to stay physically and mentally healthy to appreciate the information when we see it, to either apologize for getting it wrong, or close our hypothesis as a proven cause.
One of several authors to write on TWA 800, Jack Cashill, wrote an opinion piece and offered a proposal:
“Why Congress Must Reopen the TWA 800 Investigation”
by Jack Cashill
Published: July 7, 2014
While I agree and support Cashill’s proposal, I cannot imagine the NTSB reopening this case without the government’s classified material in the public domain. Yet, altering evidence tags and removing or withholding evidence are by themselves criminal acts. In this instance, the agency normally tasked with investigating federal felonious conduct is the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Unfortunately, the FBI itself appears to be involved in committing the crime(s). So, who will (can) investigate the FBI’s conduct? As Cashill proposes, without a special prosecutor, only the Congress has that authority.
A related topic at times like these:
“U.S. needs a discussion on when, not whether, to use force”
by Robert Kagan
Published: July 15 
This is a perpetual question . . . whether a schoolyard bully or a rabid dictator. When is it time?
News from the economic front:
-- Citigroup announced a deal with the USG to settle allegations it sold deficient mortgages that contributed to the financial crisis and led to the Great Recession. The US$7B deal includes US$4.5B in cash and US$2.5B in consumer mortgage relief. The cash portion consists of a US$4B civil monetary payment to the Justice Department and US$500M in compensatory payments to the associated state attorneys general and the FDIC. Citigroup will also take a charge of about US$3.8B pretax in 2Q2014, which of course We, the People, pay for at the end of the day.
-- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testified before the Senate Banking Committee that she expected to maintain low interest rates, noting the U.S. economic recovery is “not yet complete” and the unemployment rate remains too high.
-- The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) rose 7.5% from a year earlier in 2Q2014, up from 7.4% growth in 1Q2014. The growth in the world's second-largest economy has apparently stabilized after a slowdown earlier this year.
Comments and contributions from Update no.656:
Comment to the Blog:
“In reference to the under-age refugees from Central America, you make a statement that they come here for , ‘. . . a better life. Most of the rest of the world could have the same objective.’ While that holds true for Central America, it no longer applies to the ‘developed’ world, including for example Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. Like it or not, we have fallen behind many nations in many social and economic measures of well-being, and most of the global population knows that.
“The sentence, ‘The challenge for us is sorting out the genuine threatened and oppressed from those who are looking for the angle’ brings us back to duality. What makes you believe that either the children or their parents are one thing or another? The foundation of duality is this kind of over-simplification. I would be astounded of most of these people did not find strong motivation in both of those factors.
“I agree in remarkable detail with your statement on the Town of Greece v. Galloway Supreme Court decision bearing on prayer at government functions. However, you refer to ‘bad men’ in the clergy; I tend to see them as thoughtless and/or misguided but not ‘bad’ at some deep level. I imagine most of them do some good for their congregations and many for the larger community as well. They just fail to understand the issues of non-Christians and the Christians who disagree with them. The fact that I am myself clergy probably bears on my opinion. Other than that phrase, we are in striking agreement.
“In reference to Justice Thomas, he is noted for keeping silence almost all the time in the proceedings of the Supreme Court. This opinion demonstrates the reason for that. He simply does not have the intellect required of the legal profession. His reference to conditions preceding the Constitution, in this instance, refers to things the Framers specifically sought to change. Therefore, the existence of those state-established religions does not support his position. The fact that he also fails to understand the purpose of the Bill of Rights reinforces the fact that he is incapable of performing the role in which he finds himself. He should continue in silence if he will not resign and has not been removed thus far.
“Mother Nature continues to show her displeasure. While the West bakes and burns, the Great Lakes and Midwest continue to have increased rain and occasional violent storms. This aggravates the economic doldrums as well as causing unhappiness and health issues.”
My response to the Blog:
Re: U.S.A. hope. I do not have quite such a diminished view of our economic hope or potential.
Re: “What makes you believe that either the children or their parents are one thing or another?” It is simply a reflection that we must define a threshold of immigration worthiness – yes or no. If that establishes a duality in the context of our previous discussions, then so be it. To me, it is simply a decision mechanism. Threatened and oppressed . . . again, a threshold must be established for proper decision-making. No country, including this Grand Republic, can afford open borders – accept all comers.
Re: bad men among clergy. Parochialism, supremacy and exclusivity among some clerics put them in that negative category, in my humble opinion. One more observation, I suspect if the Christian majority continues to press its numerical advantage, they will find increased resistance, despite the Supremes’ tendency. Even Stalin & Hitler had good achievements, but those good things cannot mitigate the profound negative impact on human history.
Re: Thomas. I am not a fan of Associate Justice Thomas. I very rarely find affinity with his reasoning. Yet, I am not so hard on him either. He is apparently a product of the Bob Bork school of strict constructionist originalism. Even if so, I still disagree with him, for the reason you cite. If one sees the Constitution as a definition of federal authority only, then I suppose it is understandable how he reaches his reasoning. To me, there is a very specific, real, substantive reason the Framers began the preamble with “We, the People.” Thomas apparently fails to appreciate that subtlety.
Re: Mother Nature. Has anyone considered that our view of Mother Nature’s wrath may be a product of vastly enhanced, instant communications? Weather at any locale has cycled and been subjected to happenstance.
“Some of the better evidence around national well-being comes from immigration trends. The poor and less-educated from Latin America, particularly Mexico, had almost quit coming here by the bottom of the recession, and they will probably never resume the levels of the early 2000s. The dominant source of immigration now is Asia, and many of the Asians are wealthier and better educated than Americans (source:
The wealthier and better educated do not come here for the kind of life improvement we have been discussing. (We might want to think about what attracts them.) Clearly, those children from Central America are an anomaly in this. Most likely they are indeed fleeing violence at home.
“As far as the Christian clergy, the exclusivity is built as deeply into their religion as it is into Judaism and Islam. Indeed, I believe it is the source of most of the strife among the various factions of those religions. The supremacy is part and parcel of that. Parochialism is simply an artifact of humanity. You and I have seen the difficulty of getting people to see beyond the ends of their noses. This is aggravated because many of their clergy and officials have become aware of their lessening influence. The Gallup folks have confirmed this by long-term study conducted since the 1950s
In 1957, 82% of the people said religion “can solve all or most of today's problems.” Only 7% saw religion as outdated. By the 2010s, only 57% agreed with that statement, and 30% saw religion as “old fashioned and out of date.” Religion as a whole has lost much of its influence. That numerical advantage you mentioned still exists but has been in decline for over fifty years. Incidentally, if you refer only to Christian clergy, please say so. Keep in mind that you have a regular reader (me) who is clergy in a non-Abrahamic religion.
“I do not see the climate change issue as a product of enhanced communication. Communication increases our awareness of this, but the phenomenon itself is verified by reams of statistics gathered since the 1880s and by sound, replicated scientific studies. At some point, belief must give way to evidence.”
. . . my response to round two:
Re: immigration. People have come to this country for centuries for many reasons, mostly known only to the individuals. The process of naturalization has been established by law since 1790 [PL 1-II-003; 1 Stat. 103] – the 3rd law passed by the first constitutional Congress. The first federal law on immigration was not enacted until 1875 [PL 43-II-141; 18 Stat. 477]. Congress did not create a “land-border patrol” until 1924 [PL 68-I-153; 43 Stat. 205, 240], more to support Prohibition than immigration control, but it was the beginning of border control for immigration. Transportation alone to reach this country was well beyond the means of most folks until the advent of affordable air travel and other mass transportation forms. I am a little suspicious of Casselman’s facts and presentation, but let us set those suspicions aside. For the sake of discussion, we shall assume his essay is precisely correct. To the point, I do not agree with the implications of his conclusion. At least since the Immigration Act of 1924 (AKA Johnson–Reed Act) [PL 68-139; 43 Stat. 153], the United States has had laws to regulate immigration and naturalization. The issue is not nationality, skin pigmentation, racial features, religion, well none of the social factors. It is regulation of access and entry to this Grand Republic. Those who cross our borders by any means, for any reason, must follow the rules to legally enter this country. Bottom line: the Central American children did not apply for refugee status; they crossed the border illegally.
Re: religion. Agreed! Parochialism and exclusivity have been built into the revealed religions, which in turn has been the root cause of considerable destruction, death and mayhem throughout recorded history. The numbers and trends cited in your link seem reasonable to me. Christian clergy on the whole have tempered their parochialism of late, although certainly not expunged it from their rhetoric and homilies. Dampening pressure on Christianity has been presented since the beginning of the Renaissance. My references to clergy in the context of this particular topic is predominately focused on Islamic clergy, although not exclusively, since they have had 600 years less dampening than Christians or Jews. We still see significant parochialism even within Judaism, despite the fact they have had far longer to temper their exclusivity. So, let us say in this context, my comments to clergy are aimed solely at clergy of the revealed religions, i.e., Abrahamic religions.
Re: climate change. As we have discussed, we continued to debate the accuracy and significance of climate change. My comment was simply to point to the reality that we know more about climate (weather) today than ever before. Tornados have occurred longer than humans have walked the earth. Today, we know instantly when and where they occur, and have near instant, vivid images of the destruction they wrought; the same with hurricanes (of any name), earthquakes, forest fires, or any other natural calamity. Weather varies every single moment of every single day . . . has been and will continue to do so. Let us be careful not to ascribe too much significance to local, transitory, weather phenomena. As I have said before, weather will continue to cycle, short term and long term.
“The only thing here I want to dispute is this one sentence with respect to immigration. ‘The issue is not nationality, skin pigmentation, racial features, religion, well none of the social factors.’ How do you support that statement? I see those as major, if undisclosed, policy factors.”
. . . my response to round three:
Re: social factors. I think you may be confusing the conduct of flawed human beings with the ideals at the root of this Grand Republic. Our history is replete with examples of prejudice, persecution, discrimination, segregation and other malicious conduct despite the ideals espoused by the Founders and Framers. Yet, that does not alter the ideals that remain our objective interaction with our fellow citizens. That is how I support my statement.
“Exactly. This particular discussion began when you stated the ideal as if it were the reality.”
. . . my response to round four:
My oh my, we are splitting hairs today. What matters are actions! I will argue the actions deserve the perspective of the ideals held by the individuals whose actions we seek to understand.
“I didn't realize we were discussing ideals. I concern myself with actual results. Ideals, to me, are strictly a way to choose a direction for policy and action. If the action does not carry us in the direction of the ideals, we must change the action. I'm still waiting on that to happen in immigration policy and law.”
. . . my response to round five:
Re: ideals. Agreed. Ideals give us the foundation and objective for us on our journey through the life we have. The problem with actions is performance of flawed human beings, in many cases who are incapable or unwilling to seek the ideals. All of recorded history offers a boundless plethora of examples of actions of those flawed human beings willing to oppress and subjugate other human beings for their self-aggrandizement, e.g., royal prerogative so common prior to the founding of this Grand Republic. Even in our comparatively brief history we have had the slave trade, the subjugation of Chinese immigrants, Prohibition, coverture, and the confinement of American citizens solely because of their heritage (racial ancestry), et al ad infinitum ad nauseum. None of those things are consistent with the ideals of this Grand Republic. Yet, through all of our sordid history, the ideals have remained our guiding light on our journey.
A different contribution:
“Ja, die Mannschaft hat ausgeseichnet gespeilen!! Excellent playing. The German defense was excellent as well, esp against Brazil. I think Messi was playing injured, he didn’t seem that sharp during the knockout round.”
Jawohl, mein oberst! Messi injured, perhaps; he sure quickly got up a head of steam when he needed to, so he couldn’t have been injured that badly. This World Cup did not serve his reputation well.
“I commented earlier that we live in ‘dangerous times’. I rather wish I hadn’t said that as since then we have seen the escalation of the conflict in Gaza to which I can see little hope for conclusion unless the Israelis and the world are happy for Israel to ‘rule’ Gaza as a governing power. We need, as always, too look at these situations from both viewpoints, however, if I was living in the land adjacent to Gaza I would get sore if a daily barrage of homemade rocketry persistently came into my backyard and would therefore very much wish to respond in kind.
“What of the Gaza view? Israel has its enemies, the Arabic states of the middle east are full of members who wish to see Israel deleted. With their functionaries gathered on the border unwilling to listen to the democratic principle then conflict is inevitable I fear. But why? Why cannot the masters of this world come together and force a long lasting solution to this endlessly recurring situation?
“And now we hear of the shooting down of a Malaysian Airliner with all involved shrugging shoulders. denying responsibility. We would have gone to war over such and incident not many years ago. How can this be resolved with the lies and counter lies we witness coming from The Kremlin.
“Let’s, as a world, sort these problems out. You know when the Romans ruled, when the British Empire dominated, such disturbances would have been crushed and forgotten. Is that the only way that we humans can live in harmony with one another and our beautiful planet.”
Re: dangerous times. Indeed! Prophetic, it seems to me. Hamas was looking for an excuse to start shooting. Situation in Gaza has never been good. With Hamas elected by the people of Gaza, it simply compounds the problems. I have often thought they patterned their structure on the IRA, i.e., political & military wings intermixed, hard to separate. News just reported this morning, Hamas used a donkey for a suicide bombing; somehow that seems even more inhumane than using children – the donkey has no sense of right or wrong. I share your frustration. I do not envy the Israeli position. I still believe Hamas is simply an unfortunate surrogate for the Islamic Republic of Iran. BTW, their rockets are predominately supplied by the IRI and those are military grade weapons.
Re: Israel. Most of the Arab states have reconciled with Israel. They may not like it, but they have accepted Israel as a regional state. Heck, even the majority of Palestinians have accepted Israel. It is groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, who are more driven by power than helping their people, that need to keep hostilities stirred up. I look on the Palestinian situation quite akin to addiction – obsessive, compulsive, consumptive behavior. Like addiction, there is nothing anyone can do for the Palestinians (like addicts) until they decide for themselves they must change their behavior. I want the Palestinian people to have their own sovereign state and live in peace with their neighbors, so that everyone can prosper. Yet, I am resigned to the reality that things will not change until the Palestinian people reject the violence of Hamas & Hezbollah, accept Israel as their neighbor, and seek to live in peace. Like the addict, they are still seduced by the siren’s song of Hamas.
Re: MH17. There is no doubt in my little pea-brain that Russians pulled the trigger on that Buk SAM. The Buk Mk 1 & subsequent SAM systems are NOT simple rifles where they put a round in the chamber, cock the hammer and pull the trigger. It is a sophisticated missile system. Russia has been the root instigator of the situation in Crimea & Eastern Ukraine since the get-go, and they are in it up to their eyeballs. Russians have been and remain experts at false flag and subversive activities; they are also experts at subterfuge.
Re: Pax Romana & Pax Britannia. Spot on! We just don’t have the stomach to be the world’s policeman. The inverse of enforced peace will inevitably be acquiescence to those who seek power by stirring up local ethnic parochialism. If we head down that path, can we handle a thousand, a million little local nations? Like Rodney King so eloquently said, “Ca . . . ca . . . can’t we all just get along?”
Round two with a shift:
“Lots of press about assisted dying here at the moment with a member of the Lords attempting to submit a private members bill. I know it’s a subject that you expressed eloquently when your mother was ill. Oddly, I think, but am obviously wrong, most of the resistant feelings to this is coming from those disabled, not at all what I would have expected.”
. . . my response to round two:
Re: assisted dying. Yes, I remain an unwavering, out-spoken advocate, and will do so for anyone willing to listen. I’m not sure of the significance of a “private members bill”? Do you recall who the sponsoring member of Lords is, so I can keep an eye out as well? Yes, the experience with my Mom’s passing made me a committed believer. Resistance to Death with Dignity laws (DwD) is largely out of emotion and ignorance. The disabled may fear DwD due to their perception of abuse, e.g., Nazi Heredity Law [14.7.1933]. The established laws I have studied (Oregon & Washington states) have significant safeguards, not least of which is ONLY the individual can activate or execute DwD procedures; the law specifically prohibits any delegation or collateral authorization. We have a long common history, born largely in our Judeo-Christian faith, of prohibition of suicide, and rightly so for a host of reasons. However, DwD should be excluded from those existing prohibition laws in the name of compassion and sympathy for the day that will come to all of us eventually. A long, slow, lingering death is not an attractive path and it is not God’s will; no one deserves that punishment in their end of days. DwD is absolutely, solely, and completely a personal, private, individual choice, and must never be expanded beyond that point. Thus, if one’s religious beliefs reject such options, then no one could “force” activation; but, it is wrong to deny DwD to those who might wish to use such a procedure because we are offended by the notion. Please keep me posted as you are able.
I hope you feel better soon. Have as good a weekend as you are able. Take care and enjoy.
Subject: RE: Butt Report
From: "Peter Gipson"
Date: Sat, July 19, 2014 11:10 am
“Lord Falconer. Non ministerial. That’s the rules.”
. . . my response to round three:
Thx mate. I’ve downloaded Lord Falconer’s Bill to my Death with Dignity folder. I hope it progresses steadily through the parliamentary process. I’ll keep an eye on it. As is so often the case, the Motherland is leading those of us in the colonies.
My very best wishes to all. Take care of yourselves and each other.