• ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, October 16

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ North Korean Cyber Threats: A Growing Problem

    New York Times has a major article

    What’s different about these hacks by a state actor? They are mostly about financial extortion.

    The country’s primitive infrastructure is far less vulnerable to cyberretaliation, and North Korean hackers operate outside the country, anyway. Sanctions offer no useful response, since a raft of sanctions are already imposed. And Mr. Kim’s advisers are betting that no one will respond to a cyberattack with a military attack, for fear of a catastrophic escalation between North and South Korea. –New York Times

    Comment: Since all of North Korea’s internet connections run through China and they house their “outside the country” hackers there currently, why does Beijing permit it? And why don’t we hold Beijing accountable? If they are in Tehran, then hold them accountable.

    Comment #2: Some of North Korea’s actions are about security but this one is about money. For decades, the regime has used kidnapping, forgery, hacking, and all the other Tony Soprano techniques to get it. A side-benefit for them is that they acquire skills that could later be used for security-related attacks or defense.

    Leading journalist in Malta who reported on government corruption killed by car bomb (Politico Europe)

    Caruana Galizia, 53, had spent the last year publishing stories about allegations of corruption involving Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his closest allies. The story first came to light in the Panama Papers scandal — a leak in April 2016 of more than 11 million documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.

    She subsequently published stories alleging that Muscat’s wife, Michelle, received $1 million from the daughter of Azerbaijan’s president through a company set up by the same law  –Politico Europe

    Comment: When you  kill journalists very publicly in Europe, you are taking a huge political risk. That means the dangers from the corruption story must be very, very damaging.

    Claude Rains award for being “shocked, shocked” to hear these allegation of corruption goes to Malta’s Prime Minister.

     Clinton Foundation decides to keep Harvey Weinstein’s donations (Washington Times)

    Comment: These two are made for each other.

    Neither one could find truth, integrity, or honesty if they were stapled to their butts.

    Too Centrist? Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) gets a primary challenge from the left (Los Angeles Times)

    The challenger is Kevin de León, head of the state Senate. His campaign will focus on progressive issues and attack Feinstein as “soft on Trump.”

    Comment: More on ZipDialog as the polling begins to emerge.

    Bowe Bergdahl finally pleads guilty in connection with his disappearance in Afghanistan (Washington Post)

    He pleads to charges of desertion and “misbehavior before the enemy.” Key facts:

    • He went AWOL after carefully planning the disappearance
    • He was held captive by Taliban for 5 years
    • Bergdahl was returned after Pres. Obama released five senior Taliban captives from Guantanamo in a controversial prisoner swap
    • Obama announced the deal in the Rose Garden, next to Bergdahl’s parents (who have consistently defended their son’s actions)
    • Obama’s National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, went on Sunday talk shows after the release to say, falsely, that Bergdahl had served with “honor and distinction.”
    • Thousands of US soldiers hunted for Bergdahl after his disappearance and some were killed in the effort.

    Comment: Who has to break the news to Susan Rice?

     

     

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, October 13

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Very good economic news, twice over

    Overall, a very strong report across multiple economic sectors, despite the hurricanes.

    The retail sales report is closely watched because it provides an early read on consumer activity each month. Consumer spending accounts for about 70% of the economy.

    U.S. economic growth likely slowed in the July-September quarter as the hurricanes shut down thousands of businesses, people were forced to miss work, and power was cut to millions of homes. Analysts forecast that the economy expanded at a 2% annual pace in the third quarter, down from a 3% gain in the April-June quarter.

    Yet the economy is expected to rebound in the final three months of the year as rebuilding and repair work accelerates. –USA Today

    Comment: Very good news, indeed. To keep it going, especially as interest rates rise and the job market gets tighter, the administration needs to keep reducing regulations and get a tax cut through Congress.

    Trump refuses to certify the Iran Nuclear Deal, saying it is not in America’s best interests

    He made a strong speech, which included an itemized list of Iran’s lethal attacks on Americans and its sponsorship of terror throughout the Middle East.

    The hardest immediate blow to Iran was Trump’s decision to label Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist entity. That’s important because the Revolutionary Guard is the regime’s enforcer and controls a huge chuck of the country’s economy.

    Next up: Congress has to determine whether to impose sanctions on Iran.

    If it does, then the US effectively withdraws from the multilateral “Joint Agreement.” But who knows what Congress will do, especially with Trump’s latest personal foe, Bob Corker, as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee?

    As expected, the other signatories to the agreement didn’t like Trump’s decision.

    No improvement in the horrific California wildfires. Death toll above 30 and expected to rise (Los Angeles Times)

    15 fires have burned over 200k acres so far.

    Trump hits Obamacare with a double whammy, ending subsidies to private insurers and urging competition across state lines

    Without subsidies, the insurers will likely stop providing policies to lower-middle-class consumers. The poorest are not affected because they are on Medicaid. The better off are not affected if they have employer healthcare plans.

    Whether insurers can operate across state lines will depend on whether state regulators allow it. Right now, they don’t.

    Conservatives are furious at Mitch McConnell and establishment Republicans for the very slow pace at which Trump appointees are approved (Daily Signal)

    Comment: The pace is extremely slow. Trump has been slow to put forward nominees in some areas. The Democrats have opposed everything, tooth and nail. And the Republicans have refused to change any rules to speed things along, giving free rein to the Democrats’ delaying tactics. Since many establishment Republicans oppose Trump, the delays may be just fine with them.

    But rank-and-file Republicans and many donors are not happy. They especially want to see judicial nominees moved along expeditiously.

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, October 12

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ With Obamacare failing and no repeal-and-replace, Trump starts “workarounds”

    First on the agenda: allowing insurers to compete across state lines and allowing employees (and employers) to form voluntary groups to buy insurance

    Here’s one story on it. Executive orders and regulations from HHS will help, but laws will be needed, too.

     Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, unhappy with disaster relief, accuses Trump of “genocide” (Washington Times)

    Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz is on the far left and sent the message via text to Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL, himself of Puerto Rican heritage). She asked Gutierrez to publicize the message.

    She and Mr. Trump have been feuding for weeks, with the president saying the federal government is fully invested, and saying the hurdles to recovery are on the island itself.

    Earlier Thursday Mr. Trump, in a Twitter post, warned that federal help couldn’t go on indefinitely. –Washington Times

    Comment: This may build political support for the Mayor in San Juan, but it won’t in Washington.

    ◆ Trump Threatens to abandon Puerto Rico recovery effort (headline in Washington Post)

    Declaring the U.S. territory’s electrical grid and infrastructure to have been a “disaster before hurricanes,” Trump wrote Thursday that it will be up to Congress how much federal money to appropriate to the island for its recovery efforts and that relief workers will not stay “forever.” –Washington Post

    Comment: Improvements to infrastructure, as opposed to immediate relief, should be a question for standard lawmaking, not Presidential fiat (for or against).

     The damage of opioid addition isn’t limited to rural areas. It’s a major problem in cities, as this article about the Bronx explains (New York Times)

    Here [in New York City], the reports about the epidemic and its ravages have mostly centered on Staten Island, where the rate of deaths per person is the highest of the five boroughs. But perhaps nowhere in the city has the trajectory of opioid addiction been as complex as in the Bronx, where overdose deaths were declining until a new surge began at the turn of the decade, and where more residents are lost to overdoses than anywhere else in the city. On Bronx streets, the epidemic’s devastation is next door, down the street, all around. –New York Times

    Sharyl Attkisson, a first-rate investigative reporter, says “Weinstein allegations are not the first stories ‘spiked’ by media” (The Hill)

    She explains in detail how spinners, ideologues, and legal threats kill stories.

    Comment: Attkison, you may recall, was fired by CBS for her tenacious investigation of stories that network wanted to kill.

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, October 11

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ The devastation–human and material–keeps growing from California wildfires

     

    Stand and Deliver: Goodell send letter telling NFL players he wants them to stand during anthem(ESPN)

    No specifics on how the league plans to ensure it or act toward players who do not stand.

    Comment #1: ESPN broke into their political coverage to cover this sports story.

    Comment #2 re Trump vs NFL kneelers: ZipDialog predicted

    (a) the league would cave after seeing the fans’ and advertisers’ reactions,
    (b) Trump was politically smart to make this an issue; most people respect the flag, and ALL his base does; and
    (c) when Trump won on this issue, he wouldn’t be shy about saying so.

     Horny Harvey and Hollywood Hypocrisy

    Harvey Weinstein’s Behavior Was ‘Worst Kept Secret in Hollywood,” says actor (Fox News)

    Comment: Now that he has been destroyed, the powerful people and institutions will finally speak.

    I completely understand why the weak and vulnerable kept quiet; they are victims. But the powerful and well-entrenched who knew about this have no such excuses.

     The next phases of the Weinstein story, as I see it

    Comment: Here are some obvious angles. The question is whether the media wants to investigate, given that they are directly implicated, along with their powerful friends:

    • Democrats who were close to him will have to defend themselves and offer stories about their ignorance (some true, some false)
      • Many are now saying they are “shocked, shocked” to find out this about Mr. Weinstein. Gimme a break.
      • Why did Hillary, Barack, and all the others wait five days after the NYT broke the story before commenting?
      • Why did all the late-night comedians (except John Oliver) maintain radio silence, as Saturday Night Live did? They will jump on Weinstein’s figurative corpse now, but where were they after the story broke?
    • The media will be all over the Weinstein story but they will downplay or ignore the media’s complicity or the Democrats role in it (just as the conservative media will harp on it)
      • The NYT, the most MSM of MSM outlets, deserves lots of credit for breaking the story. But they need to explain why they didn’t dig further a decade ago, when they first had the story. Lots of women were harmed in the intervening years.
    • What about the media outlets, like the NYT and NBC, that had the story and didn’t run it?  What about the gossip sites like TMZ? Why didn’t they investigate this well-known rumor?
    • What about the others sexual harassment and exploitation in Hollywood? Will the media investigate or wait for Gloria Allred? There have been rumors for years about pedophilia, but no real reporting.

    Henry Kissinger meets with Trump. What’s that about?

    Comment: Kissinger  has made one of the most sensible and serious proposals about working with China to resolve the North Korean crisis. He is also the most trusted intermediary to broker a deal between Beijing and Washington and to carry back-channel messages between the two. (Kissinger’s proposal was contained in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, subscription)

    My guess: Trump listened to Kissinger, said “great, if Xi is willing to do it. But if he won’t or it doesn’t work, tell him the US will act unilaterally in a wide variety of ways that the Chinese won’t like.”

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    Hat Tip to

    ◆ Randy Helm for pointing out that the NYT deserves credit for breaking the story

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, October 10

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Massive Wildfires across Northern California. Blazes in Sonoma’s wine country have not been contained(New York Times)

    At least 10 dead so far, 1500 buildings destroyed.

    Comment: There are other fires in Southern California. Together, they challenge the state’s ability to respond.

     Tennessee’s centrist Republican Senator, Bob Corker, doubles down on his accusations against Trump

    The New York Times broke the news and did an in-depth interview with Corker, whose attacks on Trump are as personal as DJT’s angry tweets at Corker. The Times’ latest article is here.

    Comment: Corker’s attacks are important for three reasons

    • First, according to NYT reporters, Corker’s criticisms are merely the public voice of what most Senate Republicans say. Steve Bannon has said the same thing: establishment Republicans hate Trump and want to sink his agenda.
    • Second, since the Democrats oppose every Trump legislative initiative, he only chance to pass legislation is to hold together a narrow Republican majority. Now, Corker and McCain seem determined to oppose Trump. Add Rand Paul, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski to that grouping and you fall well short of 50 votes. (And most legislation will require 60.)
    • Third, Corker, as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is privy to the highest-levels of US intel and diplomacy. He has recently said that Trump could be leading the US into World War III.

    The husband-and-wife team indicted in the Democratic Congressional IT scandal have now turned on each other (Daily Caller)

    The indicted husband-and-wife team of former IT aides to Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz sat directly across from each other at the defendants’ table in federal court Friday in Washington, D.C., but refused to look at each other.

    Even as they are co-defendants in a U.S. case, Imran Awan’s own wife, Hina Alvi, has become the latest person to accuse him of fraud, filing papers against him in Pakistani court, according to Pakistani news channel ARY.

    Awan, his wife and two brothers — all previously on the payroll of House Democrats — became subjects of a Capitol Police investigation last year after investigators concluded they were submitting falsified invoices for equipment and had transferred “massive” data off a House server. After he was banned from the House network, Awan left a laptop with the username RepDWS in a Capitol Hill phone booth.

    Although The Washington Post has reported that investigators found that Awan and his relatives made unauthorized access to a congressional server 5,400 times, Wasserman Schultz has said concern about the matter was the stuff of the “right-wing media circus fringe.” –Daily Caller

    Comment: Whenever the defendants turn on each other, the prosecution benefits.

    What do we need to know?

    • Were the Democrats’ confidential information shared with outsiders, including foreign actors?
    • Why did Debbie Wasserman Schultz stick by her accused aide for so long? Did he have anything on her?
    • How deep and wide does this scandal go?

    Comment #2: Mainstream media has shown zero interest in this massive scandal.

    Today’s “WTF” story

    Comment: No matter how fearsome your school’s mascot, I’m betting that “Radioactive Wild Boars” is scarier.

    The University of Arkansas should really consider upgrading their Razorback symbol.

     

     

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Columbus Day, Monday, October 9

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

     

    Deal on “Dreamers”? Only with other tough provisions on immigration, says White House (New York Times)

    Before agreeing to provide legal status for 800,000 young immigrants brought here illegally as children, Mr. Trump will insist on the construction of a wall across the southern border, the hiring of 10,000 immigration agents, tougher laws for those seeking asylum and denial of federal grants to “sanctuary cities,” officials said. –NYT

    Comment: Time for Democrats to do some polling.

    Saturday Night Live: Great spoof of OJ Simpson on a post-prison date, but radio silence about Harvey Weinstein (Fox News)

    Lorne Michaels offered a lame, non-explanation.

    Comment: My hunch is that they will have plenty next week, now that they know Harvey is not protected by their media friends.

    Another interesting–and disturbing–story is how many publications knew about the harassment and never printed it.

    Some brave Russian journalists are risking their lives to investigate the Russian “troll farm” involved in the US election (Washington Post)

    It’s the same troll farm that Mueller and the US Congress are investigating.

    Comment: Right now, it’s a human-interest story. Let’s hope the Kremlin doesn’t make it a former-human interest story.

    Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones says players who don’t stand will be benched for that game (New York Post)

    Jones also defended VP Mike Pence’s decision to leave the Indianapolis Colts’ game after some SF 49er players knelt for the national anthem.

    Here’s the Dallas Morning News report on Jones’ decision.

    Ireland is issuing a new stamp

    Comment: Be the first on your block to collect all the heroes in Ireland’s new “Honoring Murderers” Series.

    The Red Brigades are the most collectible.

     

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, October 8

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    Good News/Bad news on the Hurricane front: Nate missed highly-populated New Orleans, smacked the Mississippi Gulf Coast near Biloxi

    Comment: NOLA and surrounding areas are below sea levelso they need levees and pumping stations in the best of times. The pumps have not always been working properly but most of them seem to be okay this time around. Thank goodness.

    Here’s the report from the local NOLA paper:

    The people at FEMA must be thinking, “Texas. . . Florida . . . Puerto Rico . . . and now Mississippi.

    This is the Book of Job.”

    Pres. Trump calls Chuck Schumer and asks the Democrat to broker a healthcare deal (Washington Post)

    Frustrated by Republican inaction on health care, President Trump tweeted Saturday that he had reached out to the Senate Democratic leader in hopes of brokering a deal for a “great HealthCare Bill.”

    Trump said that he had called Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday to ask whether Democrats would work with him on health care — and Trump indicated that he had not been entirely rebuffed. –Washington Post

    Comment: What does a move like this tell us about Trump?

    1. He’s frustrated with Mitch McConnell, John McCain, and a “do nothing” Senate.
    2. He is transactional, not relational or ideological, on many issues. Healthcare is one.
      • When he’s against Trump, he’s “Crying Chuck.” Not this time, but just wait.
    3. He’s a deal maker who knows that you often need to keep pressure on both your allies and adversaries.
      • The pressure on the Republicans comes from this outreach to Schumer.
      • The pressure on the Democrats is that Trump is letting Obamacare meltdown.

    Violent Antifa thugs plan to deface Columbus statues on Columbus Day (PJ Media)

    Comment: Dean Vernon Wormer has a word for them:

     

    VP Pence leaves Indianapolis Colts game before it starts after SF 49ers take a knee during the national anthem (Indianapolis Star)

    Comment: I have said from the beginning that Trump picked a winning fight here.

    • First, most voters agree with him.
    • Second, all his base agrees with him.
    • Third, he attacked the NFL at a time it was on the ropes. He can take credit for the decline, some attributable to other issues (such as fans being troubled by player brain injuries).
    • Finally, protests like this cannot last forever. As they slowly ebb (because players think they’ve made their point or because their endorsements dry up), Trump can say “I won.”

    In any case, it’s smart politics for Trump to wrap himself in the flag while others symbolically stomp on it.

     

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, October 6

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    Leaks that Pres. Trump plans to “decertify” the Iran nuclear deal

    That action doesn’t kill the multilateral deal, but it does begin a process that could.

    When Trump makes his formal decision about Iran’s behavior, as he is required to do periodically by law, the Congress will then have to decide whether to reimpose sanctions.

    Comment: The issue is complicated because (1) the agreement is multilateral and most other signatories want to stay in, (2) Obama front-loaded nearly all the benefits for Iran, among the most incompetent negotiating moves ever, and (3) the agreement does not limit Iran’s deadly, malevolent action in other areas, including missile tests (another major shortcoming).

    Obama, Susan Rice, and John Kerry thought that Iran’s financial windfall would make them a more responsible actor.

    That magical thinking is best captured by a Yiddish phrase:

    More nasty weather headed our wayTropical Storm Nate could cause flooding in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (NOLA.com)

    It is expected to hit late Saturday night.

    Comment: The Mississippi Gulf Coast has no protection, but New Orleans has wetlands to the south, which ought to afford some protection. Unfortunately, those wetlands–and the protection they afford–have shrunk dramatically over the past few decades, thanks to canals cut for pipelines and ships. The water moving through those cuts has changed the local ecology and harmed the wetlands.

    Harvey Weinstein, film mogul and, according to interviews in the NYT, perpetrator of serial sexual harassment against actresses and employees

    The New York Times broke the story as an exclusive, with vivid details and on-the-record accusations (link here).

    Now, all the other news outlets are on the case.

    BuzzFeed reports that Weinstein, a major player in national Democratic politics, is relying on key Clinton and Obama aides to cope with the fallout. (link here)

    Normally, Gloria Allred appears as a plaintiff’s lawyer in the harassment cases, beginning with a huge press conference.

    But that doesn’t happen when the allegations are against a major Democrat. Actually, Gloria’s daughter, Lisa Bloom, is involved–working for Weinstein and, she says, trying to educate him that “times have changed.”

    Allred offered a half-hearted comment, saying she “would have declined” because she never represents people accused of harassment, only alleged victims. She offered no criticism of Mr. Weinstein.

    Comment: Expect gloating and finger pointing from Republicans, who are happy to gain a moment’s relief from their own scandal, an anti-abortion Congressman who is resigning after texts surfaced, urging his mistress to terminate her pregnancy.

     After Las Vegas, Republicans open to banning “bump stocks” used to convert semi-automatic rifles into fully-automatic ones (New York Times)

    The NRA seems open to some regulation, as well.

    Comment: Because passing a law would take time, many are urging the ATF to change its regulatory interpretation. That’s passing the buck–and evading what should be a Congressional and Presidential responsibility. We’ve gotten so used to passing everything by Presidential decree or bureaucratic regulations, even Republican congressmen want to avoid the normal, constitutional process for changing our laws.

    Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly (D) is facing a tough reelection in a Republican-leaning state. Now, he gotten more bad news: a non-partisan report rates him the least effective Democrat in the Senate (Indianapolis Star)

    Even when Democrats were in the majority, he accomplished almost nothing, they say.

    Comment: His prospective Republicans opponents were shocked, shock, and appalled. “Indiana needs….”

     Nobel Prizes

    • Literature: Kuzuo Ishiguro, author of “Remains of the Day”
    • Chemistry: 3 scientists who improved images of molecules
    • Physics: 3 scientists who detected gravitational waves, confirming a prediction of Einstein’s
    • Medicine: 3 scientists who discovered the genes regulating the body’s biological clock

    One of the winners in Medicine, Jeffrey Hall (emeritus, Brandeis) said that he collaborated with a Brandeis colleague, Michael Roshbash, because they shared common interests in “sports, rock and roll, beautiful substances and stuff.” He quit science ten years ago, he said at the time, because his grant funding ran out, the grant-review process was corrupt and biased, and he was fed up with academia. (story here)

    Comment: Looks like he was proven right about the bias.

    The Peace Prize will be given Friday. If they can find an innocent child or a do-gooder organization, fine. Otherwise, they should remember that they gave one to Arafat. They might want to think about what’s happening in Myanmar, either, since the country is headed by another Peace Prize winner and is now driving Rohingya Muslims out of the country.

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, October 5

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ We continue to learn more about Las Vegas shooting but still don’t know motive

    Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the shooter also hit aviation fuel tanks. Two bullets hit the tanks at the nearby airport, one penetrating the tank. No fire.

    The gunman also rented rooms overlooking other outdoor music festivals, including one in Chicago, but did not occupy those rooms.

    Comment: If he fired only twice at the fuel tanks, then they were not a major target. Still, the fact that one bullet penetrated the tanks and could have caused a conflagration is deeply disturbing.

    We don’t know if the fact that the gunman did not attack the other venues he scouted indicates only his methodical preparation or something about his motivation to attack one kind of concert-goer and not another. For example, one concert had rap-music stars so an attack would have immediately focused on racist motives. Perhaps he did not want such speculation. In any event, we simply don’t know the answers yet and may never know them.

    Las Vegas sheriff says the killer led a ‘secret life’ before attack and had “some help at some point” in pulling off Sunday’s massacre (Fox News)

    Mia Bloom, a prominent scholar working on terrorism, makes two important points. First, the girlfriend’s cooperation indicates she was never part of the conspiracy; in cases where the girlfriends did know, they refused to cooperate. Second, she sees no evidence of ISIS involvement at this point, only wannabe credit.

    Comment: I know Prof. Bloom and take her judgments very seriously.

     “Bump stocks” 

    Bump stocks are off-the-shelf kits to convert semi-automatic weapons, which can be purchased legally, into fully-automatic weapons, which cannot.

    Here is the New York Times useful description:

    Twelve of the rifles the gunman in the Las Vegas mass shooting had in his 32nd-floor hotel room were each modified with a “bump stock,” an attachment that enables a semiautomatic rifle to fire faster.

    The device replaces a rifle’s standard stock, which is the part held against the shoulder. It frees the weapon to slide back and forth rapidly, harnessing the energy from the kickback shooters feel when the weapon fires. The stock “bumps” back and forth between the shooter’s shoulder and trigger finger. –NYT

    Analysis:

    • Illegal: A machine-gun (fully-automatic)
    • Legal: Semi-Automatic
    • Legal: Bump stock to convert semi- into machine-gun
    • Hence, you can legally (and easily) create a weapon that is illegal to purchase

    Why are bump-stocks legal? Because the ATF rules that bump stocks were legal under current law. The ruling came during the Obama Administration so it was not the result of White House pressure.

    Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) is leading a Congressional effort to make sales of bump-stocks illegal. His effort has bipartisan support–even pro-gun Congressmen say they are willing to have a discussion. We don’t yet know the depth of that support. (Washington Post article here.)

    Breaking news: NRA supports “regulations” on bump stocks (Washington Times)

    Unclear if they intend to support a complete ban.

    Comment: One of the most depressing things I have heard in this whole shocking affair was Kinzinger saying that the ATF should simply change its ruling because that would be faster than passing a law.

    Speed in changing this rule is very important–and may be decisive in this case.

    Still, it was depressing to hear an elected US official saying that a bureaucracy, not Congress, should act on what should be enacted by law.

    San Juan mayor, in a fight with Trump, dons ‘nasty’ shirt for TV interview (Fox News)

     

    Comment: And she picked a really tough interviewer, as you can see.

    Carmen Yulin Cruz has decided her political future is better by “going big” in her fight with Trump. It will build support for her on the island, at least initially, and divert attention from her own inept performance.

    Anybody–anybody at all–think Trump will quietly ignore this?

     

     

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, October 4

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    Pres. Trump heads to Las Vegas. If he’s wise, he’s stick to one role, that of “head of state.” This should be a journey of grief and remembrance, not politics.

    At times, the President is asked to speak for all his countrymen, to express our grief. Pres. Reagan set the standard with his speech after the Challenger Disaster. Actually, he did it twice, once from the Oval Office that night (the speech where he said the astronauts had waved goodbye to us this morning and “slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God”) and then several days later, with a sad, powerful elegy at their memorial service (below).

    For a wonderful memory of that speech, here’s Peggy Noonan talking about it–and being asked by Reagan to write it. (Washington Post)

    Comment: Of course, there was nothing controversial about that event, as there is after each mass shooting.

    Each shooting raises important political issues, always about guns and sometimes about mental health, racism, and other issues.

    But, for the sake of the country, put aside the controversies for one more day, Mr. President.

    And do the same, Mr. Schumer, Ms. Clinton, and Ms. Pelosi.

    Then return to the fray.

    We know the Las Vegas killer planned meticulously, but we still don’t know his motive (Washington Post)

    Comment: The absence of a clearly-stated motive raises questions. The most important is whether there is anything to ISIS’ repeated statements that it was behind the shooting. Most experts discount that claim, but they also note it is unusual for ISIS to repeat its claims, as it has in this case.

    Today in hypocrisy:  Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), popular with pro-life movement, urged abortion in affair, texts suggest (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

    The congressman has been lauded by the Family Research Council, for his stance on abortion, as well as for family values, generally. He also has been endorsed by LifePAC, which opposes abortion rights, and is a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus, an affiliation that is often cited by his office. –Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The FCC is considering Net Neutrality Again and asked for comments. They got plenty . . . from robots (Vice/Motherboard)

    The Trump administration and its embattled FCC commissioner are on a mission to roll back the pro-net neutrality rules approved during the Obama years, despite the fact that most Americans support those safeguards.

    But there is a large number of entities that do not: telecom companies, their lobbyists, and hordes of bots.

    Of all the more than 22 million comments submitted to the FCC website and through the agency’s API found that only 3,863,929 comments were “unique,” according to a new analysis by Gravwell, a data analytics company. The rest? A bunch of copy-pasted comments, most of them likely by automated astroturfing bots, almost all of them—curiously—against net neutrality.

    That means 80% Of all “Net Neutrality” comments were sent by bots, all on one side.

     Today in Islamist terror: France passes a tough, new counter-terrorism law

    • Anti-terror law described here at BBC. One feature: easier to search homes and jail individuals without judge’s approval
    • Terrorists tried and failed to detonate gasoline bombs in a wealthy Paris neighborhood; they were captured. According to The Telegraph:

    Judicial sources said the explosive device included two gas canisters inside the building in the affluent 16th arrondissement of western Paris and two outside, some of them doused with petrol and wired to connect to a mobile phone. It appears there were several unsuccessful attempts to detonate the canisters.

    The five arrested over the Paris bomb, men in their thirties, are known to authorities and one is on an intelligence services list of “radicalised” people, which includes the names of potential Islamist militants. –Telegraph

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    Hat Tip to

    Michael Lipson for the net-neutrality bots story