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 Thursday, September 21

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

◆ Puerto Rico: direct hit by Cat 4 hurricane. Massive damage, whole Island without power

An overview of the impact (New York Times)  

The NYT is providing live updates here.

Mexico’s massive 7.1 earthquake. Death total already 245, likely to rise  (Washington Post)

The saddest stories are coming from K-12 schools, where parents await the fate of children. A lot of interest is focused on one hope story of a child trapped alive.

 As the Democratic party shifts left and makes Bernie Sanders’ single-payer healthcare a vital issue, centrist Dems face 2018 problems (Fox News)

If Democrats in purple or red states go with single-payer, they will pay the price in the general election.

If they reject it, though, they could face a primary opponent from the left (mirroring the Tea Party attacks on centrist Republicans).

Comment: There is one piece of good news for Democrats, however. Their general election opponents are Republicans, who have a woeful record on Capitol Hill this session.

Big Deal: Chinese banks reportedly cut ties to North Korea (Fox News)

This is huge since China is the conduit for all North Korea’s international trade.

The bad news is that South Korea is providing a small “humanitarian” gift to North Korea at the same time.

Comment: Good as humanitarian aid sounds, it always gives leverage to dictatorships, which use the money for themselves and their favorites.

I assume that North Korea will turn to Russia and Iran for financing, but they would face financial peril themselves if they provide it.

Trump praises China’s new sanctions against North Korea and ratchets up US sanctions (CNN)

Comment: The US measures show it has not run out of “non-kinetic” options.

China’s measures show both that it is frustrated with North Korea’s reckless, autonomous actions and that it fears what the US might do.

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ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, September 20

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

Pres. Trump’s speech to the UN was blunt and aimed squarely at North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela 

It combined two main elements:

  1. A traditional Republican assertion of US military strength and global engagements
  2. Trump’s own nationalist, anti-globalist agenda, praising “strong sovereign nations” (not international institutions) as the basis of global order

The blunt language attracted a lot of attention. Conservatives (including many who don’t support Trump) were positive. Liberals cringed, longing for Obama’s soft tone, soft policies, and strategic patient.

He called the nuclear deal with Iran “an embarrassment” and “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the US has ever entered into.”  He spoke of Iran’s aggressive support of terror and expansion in the Middle East. He specifically spoke about the threat from “Radical Islamic Terror,” words his predecessor never used (and that Trump himself has used less often in recent months).

He said nothing about “democracy promotion,” a centerpiece of George W. Bush’s foreign policy.

His comment on Venezuela was equally blunt, saying they had turned a rich country into an impoverished failure and done so not because it misapplied socialist policies but because it applied them exactly as they were intended.

Without using the term “axis of evil,” his speech clearly echoed those themes from Pres. Bush’s War on Terror.

As CNN put it, “No American President has ever spoken to the world like this,” calling terrorists and some nations “evil.”

The best comment about the speech came from

 

Rich Lowery in the National Review Online:

As someone said on Twitter, never before has been there so much murmuring of “holy sh**” in so many different languages.

 Two natural disasters: 

  1. Cat 5 Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico with 175 mph winds, the second major hurricane within a month
  2. Mexico suffers a 7.1 magnitude quake.

Numerous casualties and fatalities from both, unfortunately.

Comment: The best way to keep up with news about each is with your favorite breaking-news site online. The cable channels will show you the gritty aftermath but take hours to give you the hard news you can get in a few minutes reading.

Republicans on the hill embrace big tax cuts, even if they increase the deficit (New York Times)

Senate Republicans, abandoning a key fiscal doctrine, agreed on Tuesday to move forward on a budget that would add to the federal deficit in order to pave the way for a $1.5 trillion tax cut over the next 10 years.

The Republican lawmakers, under mounting pressure to score a legislative win on taxes, say a tax cut of this magnitude will stimulate economic growth enough to offset any deficit impact.

Yet critics say a deficit-financed tax cut is at odds with longstanding Republican calls for fiscal discipline, including that tax cuts not add to the ballooning federal deficit.

Comment: Tax bills must originate in the House, which is dribbling out some information but not the key details. Those should come in the next week or so.

Former Chicago cop, wanted for shaking down drug dealers, has been arrested in Detroit after 15 years on the run (Chicago Tribune)

He and his gang of corrupt officers were tripped up in 2001 when they tried one ripoff while the dealer happened to be on the phone with his girlfriend. She mistakenly thought another drug dealer was the robber and called the cops. Honest cops showed up, saw what was happening, and that was the beginning of the end.

Turkey increasingly uses its thuggish, dictatorial tactics in Western democracies. It did it again this week

They did it in May, 2017, when Turkish security officers assaulted peaceful demonstrators in Washington, DC. (New York Times report here.)

This week, they tried to stop a speaker at a conference in Philadelphia. The event was hosted by the Middle East Forum (MEF) for the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, known as NATO-PA.

NATO PA organizers asked that MEF remove a speaker, Emre Çelik, from the program in response to a demand issued by the office of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. MEF removed the speaker from the program, but invited him to address the gathering anyway.

When Çelik rose to speak, the Turkish delegation grew visibly agitated and acted quickly to shut down the event. –Middle East Forum

Daniel Pipes, who heads the Middle East Forum, spoke plainly about the incident, which was captured on video:

President Erdoğan’s attempt to stifle free speech at a Middle East Forum event today was despicable. We did not accept it. –Daniel Pipes

The MEF report on the incident is here.

Paul Manafort wants investigations of leaks, which may have come from Special Counsel Mueller’s office, which is trying to rachet up the pressure on Manafort (Reuters)

“If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged,” [Manafort’s spokesman said].

“The U.S. Department of Justice’s Inspector General should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous administration’s effort to surveil a political opponent,” he said.

The special counsel’s office and the FBI both declined to comment on Maloni’s statement. They also did not comment on CNN’s original report about surveillance of Manafort. –Reuters

Comment: There are several disturbing aspects of this story, all requiring serious investigation. Manafort’s role is obviously one. So is the apparent release of secret information, the presence of a government wiretap on the manager of a political campaign, the possibility President Trump was picked up on the surveillance, and the statements by several Obama administration intelligence officials that they knew of no such surveillance. It is unclear if those officials made false statements under oath.

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ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, September 14

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

Dreamer Deal Possible: Chuck, Nancy and Donald agree to work on deal to avoid deportations (Washington Post)

The border wall is not included.

Democratic leaders announced late Wednesday that they agreed with President Trump to pursue a legislative deal that would protect hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation and enact border security measures that don’t include building a physical wall. –Washington Post

Republican leaders are on the outside, looking in.

And some of Trump’s base is furious.

In a sign of the potential trouble for the president, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an immigration hard-liner and early Trump supporter, wrote that if reports of a potential immigration deal are accurate, the president’s “base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.” –Washington Post

Post-Irma tragedy: Eight patients died in south Florida nursing home without power during sweltering heat (Orlando Sun-Sentinel)

Police have launched an investigation.

Comment: One larger policy issue: Why doesn’t Florida require nursing homes to have generators?

The Sun-Sentinel reports that 150 nursing homes (out of 700 in the state) are still without power.

North Korea threats to reduce US to “ashes and darkness” and “sink Japan” (Reuters)

Regional tensions have risen markedly since the reclusive North conducted its sixth, and by far its most powerful, nuclear test on Sept. 3.

The 15-member Security Council voted unanimously on a U.S.-drafted resolution and a new round of sanctions on Monday in response, banning North Korea’s textile exports that are the second largest only to coal and mineral, and capping fuel supplies.

The North reacted to the latest action by the Security Council, which had the backing of veto-holding China and Russia, by reiterating threats to destroy the United States, Japan and South Korea. –Reuters

Comment: Meanwhile, there are reports North Korea is preparing another nuclear test.

US News and World Report College Rankings

Familiar names, great schools. They compete hard against each other and are not just tops in the US, they are tops in the world (along with Oxford and Cambridge)

Two Comments: First, students can get a great education at many schools. The important thing is to find one that “fits.” Fit depends on your needs, your interests, and your personality, as well as the school’s strengths and weaknesses and the niches it provides for students.

Second, I don’t see how you can say Harvard ranks above or below, say, Stanford or Chicago. I think you can say that some schools rank in the very top-tier and others are a half-step back. Even that depends on whether you are interested in biology or French literature.

You knew it was coming: CEO of Equifax called to testify before Congress (The Hill)

Prediction: Kabuki Theater. The CEO will be contrite, the Congressmen angry.

The CEO will say his company takes this very seriously, is really working on these problems, and will help those affected.

The Representatives will posture for the cameras, expressing the public’s genuine anger.

Meanwhile, this extraordinary piece of news about Equifax’s internal security:

 

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduces bill to make it easier to conduct medical marijuana research (The Verge)

The Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017 would streamline the process for approving research and increase the national marijuana quota for medical and scientific research. Marijuana has been shown to have potential health benefits such as treating seizures and managing pain. –The Verge

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Hat Tip to

◆ Mike Lipson for the Equifax BBC story

ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, September 13

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

◆ Bad as Hurricane Irma was, it could have been even worse

Homeowners’ preparations and evacuations meant relatively few deaths.

As for the physical damage, it is huge but still smaller than feared. One way to see that is to look at insurance company stocks.

Today, they are UP. Chicago Tribune headline: Stocks jump as relieved investors buy banks, insurers, tech

Small insurers, especially ones that do a lot of business in Florida, climbed. … Larger insurers also rallied. … Travel-related companies rose as investors felt their businesses won’t take such a big hit.  –Associated Press via Chicago Tribune

The most immediate problem now: restoring electric power to millions of homes.

 Apple makes a big noise with its rollout. $1k for new phones. Market is unimpressed (Wall Street Journal, subscription)

Comment: Students at elite universities will use the new phones to send selfies at demonstrations against inequality.

 Study: Over 90% of MSM reports on Trump are negative, same as previous studies (Washington Times)

Comment: To be fair, they do actually hate him.

 Trump’s travel bans finally made it to the Supreme Court, which affirmed the President (Washington Times)

The ruling, which stays a decision from the 9th Circuit, keeps some 24,000 refugees from entering the US, at least temporarily.=

Good economic news: Middle-class incomes in US for 2016 were highest in history (in real terms)  (Washington Post)

These figures from the Census Bureau cover the final year of Pres. Obama’s tenure.

Median household income rose to $59,039 in 2016, a 3.2 percent increase from the previous year and the second consecutive year of healthy gains, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. The nation’s poverty rate fell to 12.7 percent, returning nearly to what it was in 2007 before a financial crisis and deep recession walloped workers in ways that were still felt years later. –Washington Post

Seattle Mayor, Ed Murray, resigns after fifth person comes forward accusing him of child-sex abuse (Seattle Times)

The latest accuser: Murray’s cousin. He had been a teenager, like the others.

The computer scandal engulfing House Democrats continues to widen. Latest news: the IT contractor used a secret server, tried to hide it, and then falsified what was on it (Daily Caller)

Imran Awan, the Pakistani IT aide who worked closely with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, also used Dropbox to back up data, which is illegal for Congressional data.

Awan had access to all emails and office computer files of 45 members of Congress who are listed below. Fear among members that Awan could release embarrassing information if they cooperated with prosecutors could explain why the Democrats have refused to acknowledge the cybersecurity breach publicly or criticize the suspects. –Daily Caller

Comment: This scandal receives almost no coverage. That’s a scandal, too.

 

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Nuclear Power Plants have been retrofitted to cope with hurricanes and other natural disasters

Guest Author: John Cooper

Cooper is a cooling-tower thermal and hydraulic design engineer, with experience designing nuclear plant Ultimate Heat Sink cooling towers, used to cool reactors during shutdown.

[Editor’s note: ZipDialog is delighted to include this post. The opinions are those of the guest author. Readers are invited to respond, both here and on social media. At ZipDialog, we take dialog seriously.]

 Coping with Disasters such as Hurricanes is a Standard Design Feature for Nuclear Power Plants

Ultimate Heat Sink (UHS) tower designs–the kind I often work with–include heavy duty-steel missile grating that protects the cooling system from damage that could be caused by projectiles from tornadoes.

That hardening is a standard feature, one that has been upgraded significantly in recent years.

Since Fukushima, all nuclear plants in the US have been retrofitted with equipment and water storage reservoirs that ensure adequate cooling water and power in the event of a natural disaster.

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Texas Reactor Worked Well during Hurricane Harvey

The nuclear power plant in southern Texas (South Texas Project) continued to operate when Harvey went over the site.

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US Nuclear Regulation Commission is Prepared for Florida

 The NRC made clear it is prepared for the Hurricane Irma

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has dispatched additional inspectors to the Turkey Point nuclear plant south of Miami and the St. Lucie nuclear plant on the east coast of Florida in advance of Hurricane Irma. The NRC expects to activate its regional incident response center in Atlanta, Ga., on Saturday as the agency prepares for the effects of the hurricane on those nuclear plants and other NRC-licensed facilities near the path of the storm. –official statement (link here)

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Lessons from Earlier Hurricanes

 In 1992, a category 5 hurricane passed directly over a Florida nuclear plant without a disaster.

Ars Technica reports that the Turkey Point plant near Miami

didn’t become a major environmental disaster [during Hurricane Andrew in 1992] due to redundancy built in the reactor system that continuously provided electricity to cool the reactors in the aftermath of the storm.

That redundancy was hardened in 2001 after the September 11 attacks and then again in 2011 after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

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The opinions in this post are those of the guest author. He and ZipDialog welcome your response.

John Cooper is an expert on cooling tower systems for nuclear power plants and a Florida resident.

ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, Sept. 10

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

Everyone is awaiting the damage from Hurricane Irma as it moves up the Florida coast. 

The advance preparation seems well handled, especially because the eye of the hurricane drifted further west than initial forecasts.

Now we wait to see

1. The scale of the devastation and the breadth of storm
2. The help given in the immediate aftermath, and
3. The long-term recovery effort

Comment: Both short-term and long-term relief will have to be done in the presence of similar damage in Texas from Harvey.

Since we all criticize the government when things go badly, we need to praise them when things go well, as they have (so far) in these two storm-response efforts.

Half-right: NYT headline is “Bound to No Party, Trump Upends 150 Years of Two-Party Rule

The reference is to Pres. Trump’s three-month deal with “Chuck and Nancy” (Schumer and Pelosi) to extend the US debt ceiling and provide relief funds for Hurricane Harvey. Republican lawmakers wanted a longer extension and are furious.

Comment: The headline is partly right when it says Trump is “bound to no party.” He is not bound to the R’s ideologically. But he is bound to them practically since the D’s don’t agree with him on most big issues, aside from infrastructure spending and trade protection.

Hillary, surprisingly, says she didn’t expect to lose. Ya think? Says the loss left her “gobsmacked” (Fox News)

Comment: The inauthenticity of that word–gobsmacked???–hints atone reason she lost.

Does anybody really think that would have been her genuine feeling? 

 Immigration: Harvard Law prof. Noah Feldman: “Trump’s Right: Immigration is Congress’s Mess” (Bloomberg)

Liberals should keep in mind an important constitutional principle: Immigration is supposed to be the province of Congress, not the executive. The belief that the president has ultimate immigration power can lead to terrible results — like Trump’s travel ban against six majority-Muslim countries, also powered by the mistaken idea that immigration policy should be set by executive order.

The Framers of the Constitution thought about immigration, and wanted Congress in charge. Article I, Section 8, which enumerates Congress’s authorities, confers the power “to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.” –Noah Feldman

Comment: Feldman is absolutely right. Trump’s threat to act if Congress does not is as lawless as Obama’s DACA action, which Obama himself had said would be unconstitutional before he did it anyway.

It is depressing to see people on all sides of the political spectrum so determined to get policy outcomes they desire that they ignore well-established constitutional safeguards.

Those safeguards are there for good reasons.

Media bias: National survey of senior cities shows a stunning 99.2% “believe the media wants President Trump to fail.” (Washington Examiner)

Comment: The media is reaping what it has sown–and sown for decades.

The only difference today is that, thanks to the WWW, there are sites to call them out on it.

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ZipDialog Roundup for Saturday, September 9

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

Irma Exodus: 1.4 million ordered to leave homes, largest mandatory evacuation in US history (Daily Mail)

The winds are ferocious and the width of the storm is enormous, producing floods and wind damage across a huge swath, no matter where the eye hits.

The Florida Keys are particularly vulnerable. But they are hardly alone.

 When idiots blather….I seldom pay attention

So, you won’t see “news” about Jennifer Lawrence’s views on what causes hurricanes or Rep. Maxine Waters views on anything.

Stephen Colbert’s decision to give a Nazi salute to Pres. Trump on the Late Show (Daily Beast) is worth mentioning, though, because it shows how low our public discourse has sunk.

But you didn’t need additional proof of that.

 Human interest: 16-year old turns in high-school math assignment…which has an elegant new theorem and proof (From the Grapevine)

Tamar Barabi, an Israeli who loves dancing and paying popular music, came up with the “Three Radii Theorem”:

If three or more equal lines leave a single point and reach the boundary of a circle, the point is the center of the circle and the lines are its radii.” Believe it or not, that’s the simple explanation. To compose the actual theorem, Barabi had to write up three proofs, a series of conclusions and some sample exercises.–From the Grapevine

 

New York Times prints long essay on how awful the affluent are (New York Times)

The screed says it is aimed at the 1% but actually refers to New Yorkers whose incomes could not buy a modest two-bedroom in Manhattan.

Comment: It turns out that some of the really wealthy have nannies.

The op-ed stops just short of urging the guillotine.

NY Mayor Bill de Blasio says a big problem for him is “the way the legal system favors private property” (New York Mag)

Comment: Fortunately, if you donate to him, he can help.

More serious comment: There are two deeper points here

  1. The normalizing of socialist ideology in the American mainstream.
  2. The limits on government’s endless expansion posed by private property rights and related rights of voluntary contacting. That’s why FDR had to attack them to enact the New Deal, beginning a long-term trend. The banner is now carried by de Blasio, Bernie, and Eliz. Warren.

Lawsuit over 9/11 attacks moving forward against Saudi Arabian government. Plaintiffs claim they have evidence some attackers were part of a Saudi-government controlled network, which also funded a dry-run of the attack (New York Post)

This lawsuit can proceed because of an act of Congress. Normally, such suits against foreign governments would be prohibited.

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Hat Tip to

Cheryl Brownstein for the story about the 16-year old math student

◆ Tom Elia for story about rich New Yorkers

The generosity–and love–of strangers for each other as the hurricane approaches

You may have heard about this story or seen it.

Believe me, it is worth a minute’s time to see it–or see it again.

The site is a Lowe’s store in Orlando this week, overrun with shoppers grabbing last-minute items before the hurricane.

A line of people were there to buy the last electric generators.

The next person in line when the supply of generators ran out–with no new ones likely to arrive–began crying, fearing for an elderly parent who needed the generator to keep his oxygen machine working. She had driven 30 miles to the store as soon as she heard they had a shipment of generators.

Her tears were captured on a cell phone, but, more important, they were heard by a stranger, Ramon Santiago, who had just put the last generator on his cart.

He walked over to the crying woman and quietly handed her his generator.  Here’s the one-minute video of the event as it unfolded.

To make the ending even happier, here’s what happened the next day.

The Orlando TV reporter who saw the episode and broadcast it, was there to welcome Ramon to Lowe’s the next day and surprise him with a gift.

The two episodes show the rich vein of human kindness around us, a vein that comes to surface in times of trouble.

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ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, September 8

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

◆ We are enduring the hardest test of our lifetime for national-disaster response efforts.

Huge Hurricanes Back-to-Back and a Third Looming

The number of elderly in South Florida only compounds the potential tragedy.

Comment: So far, I have been impressed by 

  • The high quality of weather forecasts, often 4-5 days out
  • The learning by federal, state, and local authorities after Katrina
  • The much-greater competence of authorities in Texas than in Louisiana, in Houston than in NOLA, and in FEMA today than under Bush. (Granted, being more competent than NOLA officials is a very low bar.)
  • The exceptional contributions by volunteers in Texas. Here’s hoping for the same in Florida.
  • The absence of looting and other predation after Harvey. (Again, a welcome improvement over Katrina.)

Here’s hoping the worst weather forecasts don’t come true for Florida, the response is as effective as in Texas, and that the long-term recovery effort lets people rebuild their lives.

The hack of Equifax computers records is the most massive to date

It exposes sensitive personal data on 44% of the US population.

To compound the injury, several executives seem to have sold the company’s stock before the hack was publicly disclosed.

ZipDialog has a separate post on the mess (link here)

 Rules for dealing with  alleged sexual assault on campus to be rewritten by Department of Education 

The New York Times gets the basic story right (link here):

Saying that the Obama administration’s approach to policing campus sexual assault had “failed too many students,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said on Thursday that her administration would rewrite the rules in an effort to protect both the victims of sexual assault and the accused.

Ms. DeVos did not say what changes she had in mind. But in a strongly worded speech, she made clear she believed that in an effort to protect victims, the previous administration had gone too far and forced colleges to adopt procedures that sometimes deprived accused students of their rights. –New York Times

Comment: The problem is their headline: “Betsy DeVos Says She Will Rewrite Rules on Campus Sex Assault”

She plans to rewrite the rules on allegations of campus sex assault.

The key word is “allegation.” That word is missing from the NYT headline.

The victims deserve thorough, fair investigations, with appropriately harsh penalties for sexual harassment and coercion when those have been proven. At the same time, the accused deserve through, fair investigations and a chance to present their side. The whole point of due process is to sort through the allegations.

◆ FIRE, the leading supporter of free speech on campus, uses this headline:

Education Department says it will finally confront its role in campus due process crisis (FIRE, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education)

◆ Competition in Artificial Intelligence: IBM invests $240 million in AI Research Lab with MIT (Forbes)

Forbes reports IBM is struggling in the area, competing against Google, Microsoft, and Facebook.

The lab will focus on areas like training AI algorithms that don’t require extensive supervision and exhaustive manual labeling of data. Right now, many deep learning systems require people to go through and label each piece of data — like, say, that’s a car in the image.

In hardware, the lab hopes to move beyond what’s popular in AI today — namely, graphics processors usually made by Nvidia — and start experimenting with processors that don’t rely on traditional chip designs, such as quantum computing, an area IBM has already been pursuing. –Forbes

Comment: This is another example of how US leadership in basic research in the physical and biological sciences pays off for the larger US economy. A glance at Kendall Square (next to MIT) and Silicon Valley’s close connection to Stanford reinforce this critical point.

While the Humanities sink into political advocacy, second-rate ideology, and irrelevance to most serious students, the sciences and empirical social sciences continue to advance.

The Debbie Wasserman Schultz scandal continues to unfold (Daily Caller)

The scandal centers on IT professional, Imran Awan, who (with family members) handled computers and software for lots of Democratic House members, led by DWS.

Awan was arrested trying to flee to his native Pakistan with significant cash. Federal prosecutors have brought some charges against him and expect to bring more.

Awan’s wife has already fled to Pakistan.

Because the family handled sensitive computer work for many Congressmen, they had access to all their computer files.

Most D’s fired them after the initial investigations turned up serious problems. DWS did not and actually pushed hard against investigators. We still don’t know why.

It is unclear whether sensitive information was stolen and perhaps sent to overseas entities, used for blackmail, etc.

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