Friday, December 09, 2016

Surprise! Most children in SF are driven to school

S.F. Examiner

The survey found 56.5 percent of students in kindergarten through fifth grade are driven by a parent or caregiver to school. About 14 percent take public transit, like Muni and BART; 8 percent carpool with other families; 7.8 percent walk; 7.6 percent take another bus (like a yellow school bus); and only 0.1 percent take taxis, Lyft or Uber.

But what about City Hall's---and the Bicycle Coalition's---irresponsible attempt to get the city's children to ride bikes to school? Fortunately, that campaign has failed to convince city parents to let their kids ride bikes to school. It's not mentioned in the text of the story, but the graphic above tells us that only 0.7% of the city's children ride bikes to school.

Part of the problem is how schools are assigned in San Francisco:

[Supervisor]Breed lambasted the current SFUSD school assignment model, which gives priority to pick a school to families living in neighborhoods with the lowest test scores rather than families that live in the same neighborhoods as a school. The average commute distance between home and school would be curtailed by at least a mile under a neighborhood-based assignment system, according to an SFUSD analysis on K-5 school assignments presented to the Board of Education last week.

Typical that Examiner writer Rodriguez, relying on the SFMTA, provides an incomplete account of how many people in SF commute by car:

Perhaps most significantly, the study found more than half of parents surveyed drive their kids to school most days — a far cry from the commute of adults, who drive less...Those numbers show kids are far more car-reliant than adults who travel on their own — where San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency data shows 25 percent of commuters take transit, 23 percent walk, 27 percent drive alone and 21 percent carpool. When including the number of students picked up from some form of after-school program, the number of students being driven by family or a caregiver jumped to 70 percent.

According to the US Census, 44% of city commuters get to work by car, truck, or van, not exactly "a far cry" from the 56% of children who are driven to school.

The Census figures on commuting by bike are revealing: in 2009 3.2% of city commuters rode bikes to work. In 2015 that was 5.2%, a gain of a mere 2% in six years.

This shows that City Hall's redesign of city streets in anticipation of the great bike revolution is a great mistake, since the last count showed that in fact fewer people are riding bikes to work in San Francisco.

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Michael Lewis on his new book


Trump can't stop the energy revolution

National Resource Defense Council

...NRDC just released its Fourth Annual Energy Report: Accelerating Into A Clean Energy Future. The report explains the transition to clean energy is well underway, driven by a combination of market forces, state and federal policies, technological advancements, and strong public support in red and blue states alike. Renewable energy has made dramatic progress across the country in recent years. In the span of just five years, solar generation in Nevada increased more than seven-fold, and North Carolina has seen its solar generation increase five-fold in the past two years alone. Iowa and Texas, which were already leaders in wind power back in 2010, have both nearly doubled their wind generation over the past five years, and both states are expected to continue their shift to a clean energy future over the next several years...

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Thursday, December 08, 2016

A first-hand account of the attack on Pearl Harbor

Sailors stand amid the wrecked planes.
Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

My uncle, John McCallum Anderson, wrote to a family member on December 30, 1941, from Wahiawa, Hawaii:

No doubt you've heard that we had quite a bit of excitement here on December 7th, and I'm sure that Gram Lyser had given you the news fairly complete as to all of us. All the same, perhaps you'd like to hear about the crazy way we behaved that morning. At first I was going to write you in detail but wasn't sure that it would be passed by the censor, but now that it has all been published in the papers by permission of the authorities, I feel that my story has a lot less information and is therefor quite safe.

As Barbara has possibly told you, our house in Wahiawa is situated on a hill where we have a commanding view of the nearby airfield and Army Post. We are perhaps two and one-half miles distant in a straight line from the airfield and have seen so many planes flying around at all times that we don't pay a great deal of attention to them, unless it happens to be a particularly large flight or something like that.

On this particular Sunday morning, [wife]Eleanor and I were laying half awake trying to convince ourselves that it was time to get up when we heard the noise of planes. From the sound we knew that there were many of them, and I remarked to her that the Army boys "sure are getting a workout this morning." We didn't bother to look out the window until we heard a big boom that made us sit up and take notice. In the direction of the airfield there was rising a cloud of black smoke into which planes were diving and there were continued explosions and still more smoke.

We speculated on the cause of the this unusual activity, and I suggested that it was practice with live bombs, but Eleanor was sure it was sabotage. It was such a big show that we decided that we should get closer and see what was going on. We dressed hurriedly and sketchily (as we most certainly know how), and the four of us piled into the car. Tippy, [daughter]Charlotte's pup, was the fourth. About a mile from the house, on the way down California Avenue, a plane with guns blazing dived down across the road immediately over our car. 

There was one other car on that stretch of road, and it was only about twenty yards ahead of us. The other car stopped at once, so we sailed past it discussing the antics of the plane. I told Eleanor that it must have been firing blanks. When we thought of it later, we knew that it must have been shooting at us for some reason (or no reason). Since we didn't hear or feel any bullets, this incident didn't faze us at all, and we kept on going.

I decided that right in the Army post would be the best place to see things, so we started to go in, but were stopped at the gate by the guard. He didn't offer any explanation, and, as he was very busy, we didn't ask for any. We went back to the main highway than, and, turning towards Honolulu, drove slowly past the airfield. When we came to a spot where we had an unobstructed view, we parked and looked things over. We could see one hangar on fire and some burning planes out on the field. By this time there were no planes in the air. After parking for perhaps four or five minutes, we heard sounds of firing from the direction of Pearl Harbor, so took off in that direction to satisfy our curiosity.

We still hadn't spoken to anyone and still held to our first theories as to the cause of it all. On reaching a good view spot on the Kamehamea Highway, about four miles from Pearl Harbor, we parked at the roadside and took it all in. Clouds of black smoke were rising from some of the ships and we could see the flashes from the ships' guns. Planes were diving all around with shells bursting about them. By this time I realized that my idea of practice bombing was all wet and thought Eleanor's idea of sabotage more possible.

It was a good show, but we were beginning to feel the pangs of hunger and decided to head for home and breakfast via the grocery store. When we reached the store, we found everybody very excited, and the told us that the radio had announced that was an attack by the Japanese. I believe that the announcer's actual words were "This is no simulated attack but the real McCoy." It seems hard to believe, but this was the first time that we really knew that all was not well.

Just about then we decided unanimously that we should be at home, but before we could get our purchases assembled, the second attack began. Planes were zooming all over the place it seemed, and we could hear things whizzing by outside. Bullets and bomb fragments, I guess. This time there was a reception committee on hand and the Japs must have decided that it was a little too warm for them, because they didn't stay very long. While we were standing in the doorway of the store we saw a Jap plane crash about 200 yards from us and burst into flames. We heard later that that it was shot down and that it had set fire to two Jap houses when it crashed. Thing quieted down pretty soon, and we headed for home to turn on the radio to get wise to everything.

When we reached home and began to think how close we had been to all the action, we really got scared and also realized what crazy nuts we were. Next time we'll stay at home.

During the rest of that week I was excused from my regular work in town and helped out in Wahiawa with the Civilian Defense organization. There was no school, of course, and Eleanor busied herself with Red Cross duties. She had already completed her course and was qualified as a Nurse's Aide. Everything is much quieter now, and life is almost back to normal, except for the night life. We have blackout every night and have already got accustomed to it. Our house is completely blacked out except for one room, so we don't have to go to bed at sunfall as we did the first few nights.

We had a very nice Christmas in town with the family and finished up by staying both Wednesday and Thursday nights with them. The kids had a grand time.

My very best Aloha to all of you, and remember that although our letter writing is practically non-existent, we think of you a lot and often.


My cousin Charlotte's account. She was ten years old at the time:

As I awoke on this Sunday morning, I could tell from the murmurs coming from my parents' bedroom that something different was happening. I went in there to see them sitting up in bed looking out the windows toward the Waianae Mountains and Kolekole Pass. In the distance was huge column of smoke and there were little silver things circling around the smoke and diving into it. My dad said that the army had been having maneuvers that weekend and it looked like something was on fire, perhaps in the gulch behind Wheeler Field. He said, "Let's go see what's happening." So off we drove down the hill from our house on Karsten Drive, Wahiawa, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii. It was December 7, 1941.

My mother was in the front seat with my father while my dog Tippy and I were in the back. We got to Wheeler Air Field where the Army was in the process of constructing a series of outdoor hangars, simply three dirt walls to form a "U." At this time there was only piles of dirt so we stopped between two piles and looked at Wheeler. To our right the hangars were on fire, and straight ahead on the ground were lines of airplanes also on fire. Above that was the column of smoke and there were planes circling and diving down. We were horrified! 

My dad thought that someone had a horrible mistake and instead of bombing the gulch behind the airfield, had missed and hit the real field. While we were watching and listening, we heard booming sounds coming from the direction of Honolulu so we continued down the road through Kipapa Gulch and up to where we could look over Ewa and Pearl Harbor. There were huge columns of smoke billowing up from Pearl and lots of silver things in the air. I remember dad's saying that perhaps someone mistakenly hit one or more of the oil tanks that lined the Honolulu side of the harbor.

At that point mother reminded dad that we're having company around noon (a Navy commander!) so we had better get right to the store and back home. Returning to Wahiawa we stopped at our usual Japanese grocery store, there to be told that the island was being bombed and attacked by the Japanese. Just as that was sinking in, we heard the noise of a plane out in the street. Everyone rushed out and saw a plane headed our way (north to south, or from right to left facing the street). 

We heard something zing past so we all automatically ran back into the store and dropped down on the floor behind the shelves. We heard the whine and zing of bullets (just like the movies!) as the plane came low and strafed (a word that later came into my vocabulary) the street. I was in time to see the plane start to bank right toward Wheeler Field and then nose dive down and crash. I will never forget that and the sight of the big red suns painted on the wings. Subsequently we learned that a guard at the water reservation---one person who had both a gun and ammunition---got a lucky shot and hit the pilot as he was flying low.

US Air Force photo

After seeing and experiencing all that and after hearing a radio message at the store (our first radio contact) to remain at home, we decided to return to the house!

When we got home, we turned on our radio and heard, "This is the real McCoy. The Japanese are attacking Oahu. Stay at home!" We were also instructed to boil our drinking water and not show any lights at night. Dad spent the rest of the day blacking out (another new phrase!) the essential room---the bathroom! The only other vivid memory of that day was when I had to go to bed. I spent a long time looking out the window wondering if the Japs were coming back and if I would ever wake up if I allowed myself to go to sleep.

The Japs did not come back, but nobody knew from moment to moment if they would or would not attack again. Schools were closed, and people were asked to stay at home until further notice. We heard that the Army was going to take over Leilehua School since was separated from Wheeler Field by only a wire fence, so mom went to get her records and as much athletic equipment as she could salvage. While she was doing that, I picked up used 50 caliber machine gun parts and made myself an 8-inch machine gun belt. I also picked up two bullets in my classroom.

Dad was asked to patrol the neighborhood, which was rather scary, as we lived near an Army reservation. The soldiers had guns, but Dad didn't. Klaxon air raid sirens were installed in a relay system from Wahiawa proper, and another of Dad's duties eventually was to crank the klaxon when he heard the one below.

Schools were closed until further notice, so we more or less stayed home. We spent many evenings with our bachelor neighbor who would buy food and ask Mother to cook for us all. We would eat early in his large, glassed-in garage and then go inside his NOT blacked-out living room to listen to the short wave radio broadcasts of Tokyo Rose. I remember one of the first broadcasts said that the Pacific Fleet was at the bottom of the ocean. We had been by Pearl Harbor by then and knew for a fact that was not true despite the tremendous loss of life and extensive damage.

Christmas of 1941 there were very few Christmas trees, and those available were too expensive, so Dad bored holes in a wooden dowel and stuck ironwood branches into it. Mom said it was the most symmetrical she's ever had!

Early in 1942, we were all registered, fingerprinted, given shots, and issued gas masks. When school was to start again in February, Leilehua classes were farmed out all over the area in private homes and in huts in the pineapple fields. It was decided that I would go into Honolulu to stay with my grandparents during the week and to to Punahou School. The U.S. Engineers had taken over the Punahou campus, so my 5th grade class was at Manoa Elementary, and the 6th grade was at the Teachers' College on the University of Hawaii campus. Both were in walking distance, of course, as gas, tires, and liquor were rationed (another new word!). However, shortages and high prices effectively rationed many other items.

We had many air raid scares, but nothing ever came of them. My uncle dug an air raid shelter in his backyard, and there was a large shelter behind my grandparents' house to be shared by three families. Dad refused to dig one. He said air raids were usually at night, and he's rather stay in his comfortable bed than go into a dirt shelter with spiders, centipedes, and scorpions.

One kind of funny thing that happened early in 1942 was that the volcano on the Big Island erupted. No one was allowed to show a light after dark under penalty of a stiff fine, but someone neglected to tell Pele! One could read a newspaper outside from the glow from the volcano!

Another amusing incident I remember was seeing an ammunition truck going through Wahiawa one day with a soldier sitting on top singing "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire"!

Since we lived "in the country," Mom and Dad decided it would be a good idea if I learned to operate our car. I was only 10, but I was five feet tall and had no problem reaching the pedals. After that I'm sure we had the cleanest car on the island, as I offered to wash it so I could back it out! We had a long driveway, so I'd back the car all the way to the road and then bring it forward to wash. Afterward, I'd back it all the way out and then drive it forward into the carport!

Besides the blackout every night, having to be careful of gasoline, and having to carry gas masks everywhere, other overt signs of war were gun emplacements on the hills and barbed wire at Waikiki. The latter seemed quite ridiculous, even to us youngsters, since we knew there was no break in the reef offshore, and no one with any sense would try to cross the reef.

In February 1942, school began again, and, besides being in odd locations, wasn't much different. We had to carry our gas masks, and instead of fire drills, we had air raid drills when we would have to go into bomb shelters for a length of time. In 6th grade we had Victory Gardens where we grew carrots, radishes, onions, and lettuce under the tutilage of our Japanese gardener!

Almost half the population of Oahu was Japanese, but they were not treated the way they were on the West Coast. Officials removed certain ones whom they had targeted as "enemies," but the rest carried on in their usual or even war effort jobs. We continued to work to work and be friendly with the Japanese we had always known. We school children had the Japanese separated into two separate races: our country was fighting the "dirty Japs," but we were friends of Japanese!

At the end of 1942, Dad was offered a promotion if we moved to the San Francisco area. We had a lot of arrangements to make. Tippy, our Springer Spaniel, had to travel on a special animal convoy that was only available every six months. We had to estimate the closest one to our departure, which was not exactly booked to the day! Tippy had to have a special dog house and three week's rations! She left sometime in April and arrangements were made for her to be housed with a vet in San Francisco.

We sold the house and since Dad worked for the government, the Army came to pack us. Mother and Dad moved in with my uncle and aunt, and we were on 24-hour call to leave. One day in May when I got home from school, Mom and Dad said, "That was your last day of school. We leave tomorrow." I couldn't even call my friends to say goodbye.

Mom and Dad had taken our luggage to the pier, and we were to appear the next morning to leave. This was about the 15th or 16th of May, 1943. We got to the dock and got our cabin assignment. Dad was classified as an Army officer so we were lucky. We had a stateroom---a two-bunk room with a third bunk shoved in so no one could sit up in bed. But we had our own room with a wash basin. One drawback was that the ship was the former German ship, Orinocco, taken over in the Canal Zone, refitted as an Army transport and renamed the "U.S.A.T. Pueblo." However, everything was still written in German---the water faucets, showers, restrooms, etc. It was very interesting! We had to carry our life preservers every time we left the cabin. However, we were fortunate to meet a couple of the ship's engineers who played pinochle with us and who got us nice kapok ones. They made sitting on the bare deck a bit more comfortable.

We were in a convoy of four or five ships, plus two destroyer escorts. The usual 4 1/2 day trip took 9 days, zig-zagging every 15 to 20 minutes! The ships had target practice the first day out and later we had a sub scare. Then one  day a shell-shocked victim jumped overboard. We had a lot of casualties aboard as well as civilians.The ship could not stop---too dangerous---but we did circle back, a feat that took the better part of an hour at our speed. One of the destroyers came back at full speed, but all was in vain.

I'll never forget the cheers as we steamed under the Golden Gate Bridge. It gave everyone goose bumps. We landed at Fort Mason on May 25, 1943, and went to the Hotel Californian. I remember looking out at San Francisco's "dim out" from our hotel room and remarking how wonderful it was to see lights again!

(Charlotte Anderson retired in 1989 after teaching at Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa for 31 years. A native of Hawaii, she was a U.C. Berkeley graduate. She was a member of the Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society and the California Teachers' Association.)

See also The Town That Forgot About Its Japanese Internment Camp.


Waiting for the Big One

The Salesforce Tower, currently under construction, rises above San Francisco's skyline on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. The perspective is from the rooftop of Rowan, a condo building several miles away on the edge of the Mission District. Photo: Noah Berger, Special To The Chronicle
Photo: Noah Berger for the Chronicle

A letter to the editor in today's Chronicle:

High-rise worry

Regarding “New towers give skyline and city global character” (Dec. 7): Chronicle columnist John King might marvel that upcoming high-rises like the Salesforce Tower are making San Francisco a “21st century global city,” but many longtime city residents, myself included, think it simply rebrands the “City by the Bay” as “Manhattan West.” 

And have city planners forgotten that in the early 20th century, San Francisco was decimated by an earthquake? The odds on another catastrophic quake occurring here are increasing with each passing year. Constructing taller buildings and growing the city’s population will only increase the casualties and damage when the next big one occurs.

Dylan Seeger
San Francisco

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High-speed rail: Creating traffic "paralysis" on the Peninsula

Paul Jones, a mechanical and industrial engineer who was an Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and who was the principal engineer in charge of the high-speed rail design study for the high-speed train from Madrid to Barcelona, Spain, has analyzed the traffic impacts that can be expected if the High-Speed Rail Authority (partnering with Caltrain) actually constructs its proposed "Blended System" project on the Peninsula.

What is Mr. Jones' bottom line conclusion? The following quotation is from the abstract of his November 7, 2016 report, "Potential Traffic Paralysis Throughout the Peninsula: Blended Caltrain/High Speed Rail Impact on Street Traffic":

It would be fair to describe the result as a "paralysis" of traffic on the Peninsula. The only acceptable solution is to provide full grade separations at all 40 of Caltrain's grade crossings either prior to or concurrently with the introduction of Blended System service.

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Monday, December 05, 2016

Stephanopoulos asks Pence about voter fraud lie

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Sunday, December 04, 2016

New Secretary of Education is a crackpot

by Benjamin Wermund

The billionaire philanthropist whom Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Education Department once compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wants to "advance God's Kingdom."

Trump’s pick, Betsy DeVos, a national leader of the school choice movement, has pursued that work in large part by spending millions to promote the use of taxpayer dollars on private and religious schools.

Her comments came during a 2001 meeting of “The Gathering,” an annual conference of some of the country’s wealthiest Christians. DeVos and her husband, Dick, were interviewed a year after voters rejected a Michigan ballot initiative to change the state’s constitution to allow public money to be spent on private and religious schools, which the DeVoses had backed.

In the interview, an audio recording, which was obtained by POLITICO, the couple is candid about how their Christian faith drives their efforts to reform American education.

School choice, they say, leads to “greater Kingdom gain.” The two also lament that public schools have “displaced” the Church as the center of communities, and they cite school choice as a way to reverse that troubling trend...

Betsy DeVos also described her efforts, using the biblical term “Shephelah,” an area where battles — including between David and Goliath — were fought in the Old Testament.

“Our desire is to be in that Shephelah, and to confront the culture in which we all live today in ways that will continue to help advance God’s Kingdom, but not to stay in our own faith territory,” she said...

The audio of the 2001 interview was given to POLITICO by Bruce Wilson, who works for the LGBT rights nonprofit Truth Wins Out and has researched the "Gathering" conferences. The Devos family has a long history of supporting anti-gay causes — including donating hundreds of thousands to "Focus on the Family," a conservative Christian organization that supports so-called conversion therapy aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation...

Thanks to Patheos.

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Saturday, December 03, 2016

"Multiple": Another single word cliche

Image result for single word cliches

It's everywhere. In written journalism and used by talking heads on TV. "Multiple" when plain old "many" is called for. 

In the print version of the NY Times a few days ago: Great Barrier Reef Facing Multiple Threats, Report Says. (The online version of the story did better: Great Barrier Reef Threatened by Climate Change, Chemicals and Sediment).

Besides, there's really only one threat to the reef: human activity.

The  single word cliche is a variant of the Elegant Variation rule about using the same word twice in a sentence. Writers making this error apparently want to tart up their prose with a word different than the obvious---and usually shorter---choice.

See also this, this, and this.


Friday, December 02, 2016

Toy train system sponsors a toy drive!

Tour The Inside of a SMART Train and
Join SMART's Holiday Express Toy Drive 

Come tour the inside of our SMART Holiday Express Train, and join us in sharing the spirit of the season.
On Saturday, December 10, bring an unwrapped toy or gift card to our Cotati, Petaluma or Novato San Marin stations during the times listed below.
Come check out the inside of the SMART train, and help make the holidays special for children in need. Donations will be distributed to Toys For Tots and other non-profit organizations serving children in need in Sonoma and Marin counties.
Saturday, December 10
Cotati Station:
980 East Cotati Avenue
9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. 

Petaluma Downtown Station:
220 Lakeville Street
 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Novato San Marin Station:
7700 Redwood Boulevard
1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

For more information, please contact us at: or (707) 794-3077

Rob's comment:

Image result for toy trains

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Trump voters are morons

There's no such thing as facts anymore

Morons who voted for Republicans now worry they will take away their health care—as promised

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dumb rail projects crowd out good transit investment

SMART claims that it was paid for by the 1/4 cent sales tax and has only cost $429 million. So I decided to dig and understand if this was the real story.

Remember as you read this SMART clearly states they do not help solve congestion, they position themselves as an "alternative" or "option." (Source: KQED Forum on the Road, June 2016, 16 minute mark.)

SMART promised never to divert funding away from other transportation projects. They purported to be self-sufficient on its 1/4 cent sales tax, for which it claimed in Measure Q to be able to deliver a line from Cloverdale to Larkspur and a multi-use path. Neither of these are being delivered and the excuses continue to pile up. But what about the funding? Has SMART adhered to its promise not to divert?

Here's a list of the SMART's funding to date---this funding is in addition to those generated by the Measure Q sales tax...

As predicted, the SMART train is cannibalizing regional transportation funding that would be better spent and more desperately needed elsewhere. Rather than fighting global warming it is not only increasing greenhouse gas emissions, but it is diverting funding away from projects that would genuinely have helped with that fight.

One might say, "It had better have very high ridership if it costs this much" but ridership estimates rather than being a pivotal consideration have been a secondary consideration. The SMART Board is all at sea when it comes to working out what fares might attract reasonable ridership---finally landing on higher fares sure to make SMART's ridership even lower...

Rob's comment:

The comments to the above article are a must-read.

The same cannibalization charge can be made against the state's high-speed rail project:

In addition to the[$2.5 billion] stimulus grant, the California project is receiving about $500 million a year from state greenhouse gas fees and an additional $1 billion federal grant approved in 2010. But it faces an estimated $43.5-billion shortfall to complete the San Francisco to Anaheim system by 2029...

It never was likely that the federal government was going to provide the money required to build this system. It's particularly unlikely now that the Republicans control the government. That's a lot of money already wasted on a system that's unlikely to ever get built that could have been used to repair roads all over the state, including in San Francisco and in Marin.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

President Obama, release the JFK documents

From JFK Facts.

[The following is an open letter from 22 JFK authors and investigators addressed to the White House General Counsel. The letter calls for full enforcement of JFK Records Act in October 2017.]

November 18, 2016

The Hon. W. Neil Eggleston
Counsel to the President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20502

Dear Mr. Eggleston,

October 26, 2017 will mark the 25th anniversary of the JFK Records Act, one of the most successful full disclosure measures in the annals of open government law. We write to ask your support for effective enforcement of the Act now and under the next administration.

The JFK Assassination Records Act was approved unanimously by Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on October 26, 1992. The Act resulted in the declassification of some 4 million pages of records related to the assassination of President Kennedy. The Act also serves as a model for other open government measures that have made public key chapters in the nation’s history without compromising legitimate secrets. As President Obama said in August, “we have a responsibility to confront the past with honesty and transparency.”

The JFK Records Collection is now the single most-requested body of records at National Archives II in College Park, Maryland. Scholars, journalists, historians, and students have found these records invaluable for writing the history of the Cold War, Kennedy’s presidency, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Warren Commission, Vietnam, and Watergate.

The final test of the law will come on October 26, 2017. That’s when all of the redacted documents in the collection, as well as nearly 3,600 JFK records still withheld in full, are scheduled to be declassified in their entirety. The staff of the National Archives is now preparing for the online release of all material before the statutory deadline, an ambitious goal that we hope will be fulfilled.

One provision of the Act gives federal agencies the right to request continued postponement of JFK records after 2017, if release would result in “identifiable harm” that outweighs the public interest. As authors, historians and investigators, we believe withholding any portion of any JFK records would result in identifiable harm to the public interest. After 53 years, continuing JFK secrecy would provoke unnecessary suspicion and flout Congress’s clear preference for full disclosure within 25 years of 1992. And it would deny the American people access to portions of our history.

We ask you, as White House Counsel, to affirm and uphold the spirit and language of the JFK Records Act, and to instruct all U.S. government agencies to fully release all assassination-related records on or before October 26, 2017.


Robert Blakey, general counsel, House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA)
Russ Baker, author
Rex Bradford, President, Mary Ferrell Foundation
Deb Conway, Publisher, JFK Lancer
Dan Hardway, HSCA investigator
Dan Ellsberg, author
Doug Horne, Assassination Records Review Board analyst
Brian Latell, Former CIA Cuba analyst
Jim Lesar, attorney
Ed Lopez, HSCA investigator
Joan Mellen, author
Jefferson Morley, author
John Newman, author
Gerald Posner, author
Dick Russell, author
Larry Sabato, author
Peter Dale Scott, author
Phil Shenon, author
Oliver Stone, director
Anthony Summers, author
Robbyn Swan, author
David Talbot, author
Howard Willens, asst. counsel Warren Commission

Thanks to Alternet.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

US media and Jihad

A news alert from the Washington Post:

"Abdul Razak Ali Artan, an Ohio State student, drove a speeding car into a crowd outside a classroom building Monday morning officials said, then got out and slashed at people with a large knife, sending 11 people to the hospital in what authorities said was a planned assault. 

Officials said they had no information on a possible motive and said that campus video cameras showed Artan was alone in the car."

As soon as I saw this guy's name, I knew what his motive was: individual Jihad

Google "stabbing jihad" and you quickly get a list of other recent examples.

I loathe Donald Trump and everything he stands for, except that he at least pretended to take Islamic fascism seriously, which surely got him some votes. Banning all Muslims from entering the US is dumb and probably unconstitutional, but acknowledging that we have an Islam problem is at least a start at understanding the issue.

Local liberals have a problem understanding this issue.

President Obama and Hillary both carefully avoided mentioning Islam after such attacks, apparently for diplomatic reasons and not wanting to offend Muslim majority countries. (See The speech on Islam that Hillary needs to give and Liberals failing to talk honestly about Islam.)

Islam has an extremist problem, and Islam's problem is also our problem. If Muslim countries don't like our leaders saying that, too fucking bad.

Unlike some of Trump's associates, I don't think Islamist extremism by individuals like this is an "existential" threat to our country's existence. 

But it is now and in the future a threat from people like the Ohio State student, who see it as their divine duty to kill unbelievers wherever and however they can. These fanatics can't destroy the US, but they can do a lot of damage and kill of lot of people. The battle will go on for the rest of our lives, since there is no obvious or easy solution to individual jihad.

We should be grateful that this fanatic didn't have an automatic weapon.

Islamic State claims it "soldier" carried out Ohio State attack

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Elizabeth DeVos: Anti-gay activist is Secretary of Education

Getty Images

...During the campaign, Candidate Trump endorsed a vastly expanded “charter school” system and pledged to divert $20 billion in federal funds away from public schools. It would end up financing Southern segregation academies, religious schools, and private and for-profit ventures. To do this Trump was going to tie federal dollars to individual children, so wherever they went, the dollars would follow.

Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education could hardly be worse. Right-wing billionaire Elizabeth “Betsy” DeVos has spent decades and millions of dollars in campaigns to privatize, defund, and destroy public education in her home state of Michigan and in the United States...

DeVos is a product of Christian education and she and her family members are involved across-the-board in right-wing activities including anti-gay marriage efforts and covert for-profit military operations. DeVos never worked in public education in any capacity and her children all attended Christian academies...

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Preying on motorists: The city's take

Since the MTA is no longer issuing its annual Transportation Fact Sheet, we have to look through its Proposed Operating Budget for 2016 to find out how much the anti-car city makes directly from preying on motorists. 

Pages 15-19 provide an idea of where the agency gets its money. To get a total for what is directly extracted from motorists, I included parking tickets, parking meters, red light tickets, the boot program, neighborhood parking permits, towing fees, bridge tolls, the gas tax, and the many city-owned parking lots/garages.

Note that the city makes twice as much on parking tickets as it does from parking meters.

This is an under-estimate, since I don't know what a lot of the line items are that should be added to the total. The Transportation Fact Sheet used to do that for the public.

The total: $216 million, which is more than 20% of the MTA's billion dollar budget.

The MTA has 6,263 employees, which is where most of the money goes (budget, page 20).

Later: The city's Treasurer agrees with me: San Francisco has become a predatory government

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Bird of the Day: black oystercatcher

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Trump's financial threat to San Francisco

The Trump administration threatens to punish sanctuary cities by cutting the money they get from the federal government.

The Chronicle has reported this amount as around $1 billion. 

From this Examiner story, we learn that it's more than $1 billion:

Citing the Controller’s Office, Supervisor Aaron Peskin said that San Francisco directly receives $478 million a year from the federal government and another $915 million annually from the state — much of which is federal money. That does not include federal funds for major transportation projects like the Central Subway from Market Street to Chinatown, Peskin said.

When you look at this from the Controller's office, you see where Peskin got the $478 million and where the city apparently gets more than $500 million from the state in "pass-through" money. When I asked about the Chronicle's $1 billion number, the Controller's office replied:

The Chronicle story likely includes federal revenues passed through the state (e.g. TANF, food stamps, etc.); whereas the numbers provided previously are strictly federal revenues sent directly to the City. We are in the process of breaking out these pass-throughs and can provide you with this information when it is available if you desire.

With a budget of $9 billion, a billion dollar cut would be a major financial crisis for the city.

The Feds are paying most of the cost of the Central Subway project and the $26 million Masonic Avenue bike project.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The alt-right and neo-racism

From Kevin Drum:

The David Duke version of racism may be repugnant, but for that very reason it's fairly easy to fight. There are just too many people who are put off by it.

The Steve Bannon version is far more effective. Partly this is because, yes, critics will overreach and discredit themselves. Partly it's because his more subtle attacks on "political correctness" don't put off as many people. Partly it's because he assures people they can have racist attitudes without actually being racists. And partly it's because his sub rosa approach is just plain harder to expose...

Rob's comment:
Yes. The worst of Trump's supporters hate political correctness because it means they can't call black people "niggers" and gay people "queers" anymore. But bigots like Bannon instead brandish the Confederate flag as a symbol of "cultural heritage" and endorse voter suppression to make it harder for black people to vote.

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