25 August 2014

Update no.662

Update from the Heartland
18.8.14 – 24.8.14
To all,

A classmate, friend and fellow Marine sent along the following information for readers of the Update:
“That's a link to a great review of the book I'm helping publicize.  Bob and I have been friends for more than 25 years and I have been a member of the chorus urging him to write his memoir.  He finally did and it's terrific.  Check it out.”
Semper Fi,
{The review:
Book review: ‘Blue-Eyed Boy: A Memoir,’ by Robert Timberg
by Matt Gallagher
Washington Post
Published: August 15 [2014]}
Based on his recommendation alone, I downloaded and started Timberg’s “Blue-Eyed Boy.”  I will offer my review once I have completed my reading.  I read Timberg’s “The Nightingale's Song” [1995], which I read shortly after it was released.  Upon completion, I wrote, “If you ever wondered about the chain of events that surrounded the Iran-Contra Scandal and the cast of characters involved in the affair, this is the book to read. Timberg, as a Class of '64 graduate, writes with insight and balance about five Naval Academy graduates, who bracket his time and are interwoven in this episode.”  Timberg is a former Marine, who was seriously wounded during combat operations in Vietnam, and he is an accomplished journalist and author.  I suspect Timberg will bring the same quality writing, incisive insight and unique perspective to his latest work – a more personal and intimate view of his contributions to this Grand Republic.  I will definitely let you know, if my perception is correct or not. 

On 22.August.2009, as a consequence of a traffic stop, David Leon Riley was arrested upon discovery of loaded firearms in his car.  The officers took Riley's smart phone, and searched through his messages, contacts, videos, and photographs.  Based in part on the data stored on Riley's phone, the officers charged him with an unrelated shooting that had taken place several weeks prior to his arrest.  Riley claimed the search of his smart phone contents violated his 4th Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.  The Supreme Court unanimously agreed with Riley and drew a sharp line with respect to digital media and law enforcement’s authority to conduct warrantless searches incident to arrest – Riley v. California [573 U.S. ___ (2014); nos. 13–132 & 13–212].  Chief Justice Roberts delivered the Court’s unanimous opinion.  “Privacy comes at a cost.  Our holding, of course, is not that the information on a cell phone is immune from search; it is instead that a warrant is generally required before such a search, even when a cell phone is seized incident to arrest.”  The Court’s case law provides for exceptions to the  4th Amendment’s protections, permitting warrantless searches incident to arrest in two specific areas: protection of law enforcement and preservation of evidence.  The contents of a digital phone serve neither purpose, according to the unanimous Court.  They succinctly stated that if law enforcement is convinced evidence germane to an arrest is contained in a person’s cellphone, get a warrant!
            The capabilities and capacity of digital telephones, including current “smart” phones, and with the advent of “cloud computing” and other file sharing services, the reach of an individual smart phone is monumentally greater than anything in human history.  The prospect of even greater reach demands limits on the government’s intrusion upon our fundamental right to privacy.  The Supremes have drawn a clear line with their Riley ruling – no controversy in this decision.

News from the economic front:
-- The Justice Department announced a US$16.65B deal with Bank of America to settle the government's accusations that the bank and its acquired components – Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial – sold flawed mortgage securities in the run-up to the financial crisis.  The settlement requires the bank to pay US$9.65B in cash to several states and other government agencies, and to provide US$7B of assistance for struggling mortgage consumers through direct actions such as modifying mortgages for borrowers who are upside-down with their home mortgages, or donating money to housing counseling agencies.  The agreement is reportedly the largest settlement ever reached between the United States and a single company.  Further, former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo and presumably other bank managers are reportedly still facing criminal charges for their contributions to the 2008 mortgage meltdown that led to the Great Recession.
-- At the Fed-sponsored conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen carefully avoided breaking any new ground on monetary policy, and she highlighted the uncertainty about the capacity in the U.S. labor market to create jobs before inflation begins to increase.  The implicit message seemed to be that the Fed may raise interest rates earlier than previously forecast to avoid inflation.
-- The European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has signaled his growing concern about high unemployment and low inflation in the eurozone, and his willingness to support member countries having more flexibility relative to the ECB’s strict rules on government deficits.
-- In a progressing sign of the times, the Wall Street Journal reported that Burger King is in talks to buy Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain Tim Hortons, with the intent of moving the headquarters of the combined, US$18B market value, restaurant company to Canada to avoid U.S. taxes – a scheme called tax inversion.  The takeover would create the third-largest quick-service restaurant provider in the world.

Comments and contributions from Update no.661:
Comment to the Blog:
“I disagree that investigations will prove exactly how Mike Brown's death came about. See your own discussion of Flight 800 for how disputes remain after investigation. Endlessly pursuing details typically causes the investigators to ignore social background and people's attitudes. Disputes based in those factors keep controversies going indefinitely, as in the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations.
“The Abramski case attempts to clarify murky lawmaking. I will note that at least two of the categories as given, addicts and the domestically violent, consist mostly of the undetected. The only real point I see in this case is that law enforcement officers tend to disregard law as applied to them. This is common knowledge (or a social background issue, if you prefer) among poor people, especially among minorities. That, my friend, is what powers the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. We assume that ordinary police officers act on their own attitudes, including racism, and give lip service to actual law. Law enforcement compounds the problem by taking the usual all-out suppression approach.”
My response to the Blog:
            Re: Brown death.  How about this . . . why don’t we wait to read the various investigation reports before we judge the results?  Facts are vital in all investigations.  Let’s see the facts, first.
            Re: Abramski.  OK, I’ll bite.  How did LE disregard the law in the Abramski case?  I think the Court majority stated the facts quite clearly.  Abramski answered Question 11a “YES” when he knew he was buying the pistol for his uncle.  The law does not make exceptions for gifts.
 . . . follow-up comment:
“Your belief in investigations and their reports would be more credible if you did not write books about Flight 800. My point refers to the fact that most poor people do not believe in police officers being well motivated or following their own rules unless they know the officer personally and have seen that trait, which is not an especially common experience among the poor.
“If I recall correctly, Abramski is a law enforcement officer or former officer who was not interested in following the law as written.”
 . . . my follow-up response:
            Re: investigations.  Point taken.  We would not have had the motivation to write the book if there were not more than a few gaps in the official NTSB investigation and public statements.  As we suggested, the USG may have had several reasons to short stop the investigation and deflect public attention.  Until we see the whole picture, we will not know.  In the current case (Brown), there are apparently three independent investigations, so it is less likely anyone can cover-up the facts.
            Re: Abramski.  So, Bruce Abramski is all of law enforcement?  It is important to note, Abramski was terminated for cause, two years previous to the firearm purchase, thus his identification was technically no longer valid.  He was not involved with law enforcement when he purchased that pistol.

Another contribution:
“Good stuff.  I am skeptical of the NTSB report [regarding TWA Flight 800], especially in light of the observations of military aircrew in the area.
[The article:
“Mystery of TWA Flight 800 Persists, 15 Years Later”
by Roger Aronoff
Published: July 22, 2011]
“And a reprise of the theory that a Standard missile from NORMANDY- off Wallops Island, VA- was the cause. And accident.”
My reply:
            The friendly fire hypothesis has persisted for quite some time.  As we analyze in our book, a Standard missile is a powerful, very capable, weapon system.  The physical evidence of a Standard missile (in any variant) impact would be pervasive, substantial, irrefutable and impossible to cover-up – massive penetrations, high energy impacts, explosive residue, et cetera.  There is no physical evidence of such an impact.  A number of the hypotheses can be eliminated by the paucity of any physical evidence – the SM-2 impact is in that category.  On point, there is a vast difference between an SM-2 impact damage and an FIM-92 (SA-13) impact damage; an SM-2 could easily destroy an B747 at 13,700 ft., while an FIM-92 would be close to its limits and would be expected to take on an engine, not such a large aircraft, e.g., the DHL A300 hit by SA-13 on climb out from Baghdad at 8,000 feet [22.11.2003]. 

My very best wishes to all.  Take care of yourselves and each other.
Cap                        :-)