27 October 2014
Update from the Heartland
20.10.14 – 26.10.14
The follow-up news items:
-- The ISIL [652, 665-67] PR folks thought they got one up on the Allies when they claimed to have captured some of the airdropped supplies intended for the Kurdish fighters in Kobani, Syria. Too bad they did not do their homework. One of the ammunition boxes they displayed to illustrate their claim showed a half box of hand grenades. There were several problems with their claim. Pineapple grenades are World War II era weapons; they have not been produced or used for 70 years. I have never seen loose grenades, especially in an air dropped box – far too easy to snag a safety pin. If one grenade detonated, the whole box would go up; if the box exploded, the whole load would be destroyed as well as the aircraft, if the event occurred prior to the drop. OK, ISIL fighters might have captured a pallet or two, but certainly not what they claimed in their video clip. Nice try, but no cigar!
-- OK, the Keystone Cops nonsense in the early handling of the Ebola situation [669-70] appears to be under control, finally. Now, we need to get past this Ebola hysteria. The risk to our confidence in the health care system seems far greater than the actual disease risk.
News from the economic front:
-- The PRC’s National Bureau of Statistics reported the country’s GDP rose 7.3% in 3Q2104, compared to a year earlier, down from 7.5% growth in 2Q2014. The PRC’s economy grew in 3Q at the slowest pace in the last five years, suggesting that the government's targeted easing measures to boost economic growth have not yielded the expected results.
Comments and contributions from Update no.670:
Comment to the Blog:
“I agree in detail with your analysis of the Ebola situation, although I will note that you do not describe or discuss the photograph to which you refer. The only addition I can make is to speculate that perhaps the noise from the Ebola reporting obscures some news story we might need to hear.
“The point of the story about a nurse in biohazard gear going to the nursing station and handling records there is not about the risk to the nurse in the gear but the threat to her co-workers and anyone else in the area. We can indeed assume that the gear is cleaned once removed, but such actions expose people during its use. Of course, removing the gear safely carries its own risks if not done correctly. In this, hubris kills.
“Your linked report of Putin suppressing differing voices in Russia is old news. Such use of power to build power goes back as far as history and continues worldwide. Take for example the efforts to eliminate the Occupy movement or the destruction of homeless people's property and communities. Much suppression uses more violent measures than injunctions.”
My response to the Blog:
Re: Ebola. I did not go into detail about the photograph, as I assumed it was widely broadcast on national and regional media. The photograph to which I referred showed one of the nurses in a biohazard suit with the skin of her neck exposed – hardly proper coverage. We do not know, but I strongly suspect, the infection of the nurses occurred by cross-contamination in the manner you suggest, i.e., touching other common objects without disinfecting of the suit exterior. Whatever the means, most likely poor bio-hazard containment procedure execution. Hubris kills, indeed! As I noted, a virus does not give a hoot about human flaws.
Re: suppression. Old news, indeed! Putin has a long reputation for such dictatorial action. A few questions for debate: does a protest movement have a right to impose upon public safety or public welfare? Does freedom of assembly and speech allow for protesters to occupy public buildings, block public roadways, bring down the electricity grid, or bring down a bridge? Also, “homeless people’s property and community,” I’m not sure I understand. Does LE need a warrant to search a cardboard box or shopping cart? How do we define property?
“Perhaps you need to study our country in the same critical spirit you study others. I suppose we could debate the legalities of Occupy and others if we were lawyers, but ultimately the U.S. will come out looking fairly similar to governments you describe as undemocratic.
“The point you missed with the homeless is that the events in question are in no way part of an investigation but deliberate, pseudo-legal destruction of the objects homeless people need to maintain an absolutely minimal way of living. You may be able to claim that this is legal, but the morality at work there repels those of us who value humanity.”
. . . my response to round two:
Re: Occupy. No! There are limits to public protest. We can debate where that threshold may be. Freedom of Speech and Assembly are NOT unbounded. That said, you apparently feel the government’s interactions with the Occupy Movement are akin to Putin’s suppression of Memorial of Russia. You are going to have to help me understand what you see as the connection.
Re: homeless. You did not answer my questions. We can have a hellava discussion about the morality of homelessness, which will inevitably return us to definitions, limits and such. As we have discussed before, this question is also inextricably linked to mental health and the treatment of it. Also, I am struggling with the “objects homeless people need to maintain an absolute minimal way of living.” Is a discarded cardboard box or a stolen shopping cart one of those objects? So much is tied up in this dilemma.
“I did not state or imply a connection between the Occupy movement and Memorial of Russia (and a variety of others), but a comparison, which is a different statement. Putin seeks an injunction against Memorial, and may escalate if he gets that foothold. The government here escalated against Occupy, and that the government of New York City (at least) broke laws is a matter of record. Occupy has since evolved into something less easy to use tear gas and clubs to combat. So will Memorial, if Putin gets his injunction.
“You might need to study the homeless further, because your statement on that reveals deep ignorance. Many of the homeless work, and most have incomes of some sort. The rate of mental illness is less than you seem to imply. Those who work or receive other income tend to buy sleeping bags, bicycles, cooking equipment, and the various tools of living outdoors. Your implication that their property is stolen is unwarranted in the cases of most items. That many of them re-use discarded items is to their credit, given the huge amount of waste in this country. In so doing, they restore value to those items. So yes, discarded boxes can be valuable items if they are the only place people have to sleep, but they are not by any means the only property destroyed in those events. Most of those items belonged to people who bought them and could ill afford to lose them. (Please don't suggest shelters. Around here, they have no beds open and are much more dangerous than living in the open.)”
. . . my response to round three:
Re: oppression. I concede; ‘comparison’ is a better word choice than ‘connection’ in this instance. Your portrayal of the New York City interaction with the Occupy movement is woefully biased. As I said previously, protest is not justification to violate laws implemented for public safety and welfare. There is no ‘comparison’ between the respective governments’ interaction with Occupy and Memorial movements.
Re: homeless. I appreciate and laud your defense of homeless citizens. Every citizen, regardless of wealth or property ownership, has a right to privacy, dignity and respect. Yet, like protestors above, homelessness does not justify the violation of law, or imposition upon common (public) or private property. OK, so you do not like shelters . . . how about allocated space? I have offered potential solutions (some not particularly attractive but potential nonetheless). So, another query: what is your proposed solution
“Why is there ‘no comparison’ between the U.S. response to resistance and the Russian response to resistance? At this moment, the Russian response to this specific issue is less drastic, although we can expect escalation there.
“My primary objection to your initial comments about the homeless was its tone of contempt prior to investigation (prejudice, by the definition I use for that word).
“I am unsure what you mean by ‘allocated space.’ It reads like the solution Salt Lake City is trying, which is simply providing small apartments for the homeless. Salt Lake is acting on economics; this costs far less than jailing the people involved and providing necessary services through emergency rooms. So far, it seems to be working. I feels certain difficulties will arise, but they will probably be less work to resolve than the conditions in shelters. While providing decent cheap housing is a thoroughly rational approach, I feel certain the change of attitude toward the homeless people has been difficult for many of those in charge in Salt Lake City. Indeed, the difficulty in most social issues comes from conflicting attitudes, not from practical considerations.
“You give a ready defense of obeying the law when it suits you. That is very common in political discussion. In situations such as prostitution, drug laws, and same-sex marriage you seem a lot less certain. Anyhow, a given law is not sacrosanct, and many are unclear or even conflicting. We have seen laws overturned readily when money and/or pressure are applied. Same-sex marriage laws change almost daily. In the past, less-welcome (for you and me) changes such as de-regulation of Wall Street occurred with little resistance. Tax code changes without even a sentence on the evening news. Next week, who knows?”
. . . my response to round four:
You are free to make whatever comparisons you wish. To me, there is no comparison . . . apples & oranges. The U.S. response to Occupy was based on public safety and order. Russia’s response to Memorial is political and suppression of dissent.
Re: homeless. I hold no contempt for the homeless, only empathy and pity. I also belief they hold no special rights or privileges. They have no right to impose upon the public domain. If a homeless citizen needs and seeks public assistance, I am in favor of providing assistance with conditions. I am not interested in freebees, give-aways or condition-less assistance.
Re: “allocated space.” My notional proposal is quite like my proposal regarding decriminalization/legalization/regulation of psychotropic substance consumption . . . a graduated level of public response to ensure the necessary assistance can be provided. Public housing projects have not performed well from my perspective, simply because there was no order or discipline for some with access. I am not in favor of repeating those mistakes. The “no snitch,” anti-police mentality of some residents does not help, only helps the criminal elements among them, and inevitably results in a deterioration to anarchy. If citizens do not care about their communities, then the communities cannot care for them. For those who disrespect others, the constraints on their freedom must be increased until they are no longer a threat to public safety and good order & discipline. So, I would support a small, private space for homeless citizens, but that means that individual must respect and maintain his space. If he doesn’t, then he moves to a more restricted, monitored space; and, if he does conduct himself property, he keeps moving down the service/constraint system until he conforms or reaches the Black Hole. A keen mental health process must be intertwined with the “allocated space.” Some may not be able to conform due to their mental health situation; mental health intervention & treatment must be intermixed with space allocation. If homeless citizens expect to have public support without public constraint, it is unreasonable and I cannot support such unilateral action; it was not worked in the past, it will not work in the future.
Re: obeying the law. A given law is not sacrosanct. Flawed men create laws, and those men occasionally get things wrong. Even our vaunted Constitution gets it wrong, e.g., Article 4, Section 2, Clause 3. Eventually, we correct those wrongs. Likewise, I believe we will eventually correct the wrongs of the Controlled Substances Act, and all the other moralistic, intrusive, moral-projection laws that violate our fundamental right to privacy. The difference for me is laws that regulate the public domain versus intrude upon the privacy and private choices of citizens. Wall Street banking and tax code are proper, public domain regulation areas.
My very best wishes to all. Take care of yourselves and each other.