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rpannier's Journal
rpannier's Journal
July 1, 2020

Quotes from President Harry Truman for this age

- Not all readers become leaders. But all leaders must be readers.
(Now you know why trump can't lead)

-My own sympathy has always been with the little fellow, the man without advantages.

- Good name and honor are worth more than all the gold and jewels ever mined.

- I don’t believe that because peace is difficult that war is inevitable.

- We can well afford to pay the price of peace. Our only alternative is to pay the terrible cost of war.

- I never sit on a fence. I am either on one side or another.

- Criticism is something [a president] gets every day, just like breakfast.

- Whenever you have an efficient government you have a dictatorship.

- If we wish to inspire the peoples of the world whose freedom is in jeopardy, if we wish to restore hope to those who have already lost their civil liberties, if we wish to fulfill the promise that is ours, we must correct the remaining imperfections in our practice of democracy. We know the way. We need only the will.

- I have had some bitter disappointments as president, but the one that has troubled me the most, in a personal way, has been the failure to defeat organized opposition to a national compulsory health insurance program.

= It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

June 30, 2020

The 3 Weeks That Changed Everything

Coping with a pandemic is one of the most complex challenges a society can face. To minimize death and damage, leaders and citizens must orchestrate a huge array of different resources and tools. Scientists must explore the most advanced frontiers of research while citizens attend to the least glamorous tasks of personal hygiene. Physical supplies matter—test kits, protective gear—but so do intangibles, such as “flattening the curve” and public trust in official statements. The response must be global, because the virus can spread anywhere, but an effective response also depends heavily on national policies, plus implementation at the state and community level. Businesses must work with governments, and epidemiologists with economists and educators. Saving lives demands minute-by-minute attention from health-care workers and emergency crews, but it also depends on advance preparation for threats that might not reveal themselves for many years. I have heard military and intelligence officials describe some threats as requiring a “whole of nation” response, rather than being manageable with any one element of “hard” or “soft” power or even a “whole of government” approach. Saving lives during a pandemic is a challenge of this nature and magnitude.

It is a challenge that the United States did not meet. During the past two months, I have had lengthy conversations with some 30 scientists, health experts, and past and current government officials—all of them people with firsthand knowledge of what our response to the coronavirus pandemic should have been, could have been, and actually was. The government officials had served or are still serving in the uniformed military, on the White House staff, or in other executive departments, and in various intelligence agencies. Some spoke on condition of anonymity, given their official roles. As I continued these conversations, the people I talked with had noticeably different moods. First, in March and April, they were astonished and puzzled about what had happened. Eventually, in May and June, they were enraged. “The president kept a cruise ship from landing in California, because he didn’t want ‘his numbers’ to go up,” a former senior government official told me. He was referring to Donald Trump’s comment, in early March, that he didn’t want infected passengers on the cruise ship Grand Princess to come ashore, because “I like the numbers being where they are.” Trump didn’t try to write this comment off as a “joke,” his go-to defense when his remarks cause outrage, including his June 20 comment in Tulsa that he’d told medical officials to “slow the testing down, please” in order to keep the reported-case level low. But the evidence shows that he has been deadly earnest about denying the threat of COVID-19, and delaying action against it.


But the most important event was the H5N1 “bird flu” outbreak, in 2005. It originated in Asia and was mainly confined there, as the SARS outbreak had been two years earlier. Bush-administration officials viewed H5N1 as an extremely close call. “We were deeply and genuinely concerned about the potential for human-to-human transmission of the bird flu,” John R. Allen, now president of the Brookings Institution, told me. Allen is a retired four-star Marine Corps general who during the Bush administration was an early participant in the contingency planning efforts to assess the lessons of the H5N1 threat. “We realized that if it had spread worldwide, the numbers would have been enormous. So the national-security system was pulled right into the process of improving our awareness mechanisms, and developing a national pandemic strategy.”


The system the government set up was designed to warn not about improbable “black swan” events but rather about what are sometimes called “gray rhinos.” These are the large, obvious dangers that will sooner or later emerge but whose exact timing is unknown. Did the warning system work this time, providing advance notice of the coronavirus outbreak? According to everyone I spoke with, it certainly did. A fascinating unclassified timeline compiled by the Congressional Research Service offers a day-by-day and then hour-by-hour chronology of who knew what, and when, about developments in central China. By at least late December, signs were beginning to show something seriously amiss—despite foot-dragging, lies, and apparent cover-up on the Chinese side. A different kind of Chinese government might have done a different job, calling for help from the rest of the world and increasing the chances that the coronavirus remained a regional rather than global threat. But other U.S. leaders had dealt with foreign cover-ups, including by China in the early stages of the SARS outbreak in 2002. Washington knew enough, soon enough, in this case to act while there still was time.


June 29, 2020

Five Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

1. Kosovo's President To Address War Crimes Charges In Speech To Nation

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci plans to address the nation on June 29 about the war-crimes charges filed against him, including crimes against humanity, stemming from Kosovo’s war of independence in 1998-99.

A special prosecutor's office in The Hague on June 24 announced the indictment alleging Thaci and another senior Kosovar politician, Kadri Veseli, are among those "criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders" and other wrongdoing involving "hundreds of known victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities and including political opponents."

Thaci commanded guerrilla forces under the banner of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) during the conflict.

A pretrial judge at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague has until October to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for a trial based on the 10-count indictment, according to the statement from the Special Prosecutor's Office.


2. Russian Metallurgical Giant Admits Waste 'Violations' At Arctic Plant

A Russian metallurgical giant has admitted one of its plants pumped wastewater into the fragile Arctic environment and that it has suspended the responsible employees.

Citing a "flagrant violation of operating rules," Norilsk Nickel said on June 28 that the employees were responsible for dumping wastewater from a dangerously full reservoir into the tundra.

The company said employees of the Talnakh enrichment plant near the industrial city of Norilsk had pumped out "purified water" and that there is no threat of waste leakage.


The incident occurred near the industrial city of Norilsk, one month after a massive fuel leak at a plant in the area owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, the world's leading nickel and palladium producer.


3. Summer of the cannibal rats! Hungry, aggressive, highly fertile – and coming to our homes

With restaurants closed and less food discarded on UK streets, rats have had to find new places to feed. Luckily for them, people are eating more in their houses, flats and gardens …

Lockdown has been hard for rodents whose fortunes are tied to those of humans. When restaurants closed, and city streets and back alleys emptied of people and their waste, rats lost a plentiful supply of food. So they followed us home, foraging and breeding in our gardens, drains and household voids. They became more brazen and aggressive. And, when that wasn’t enough, they began to eat each other.

Cannibal rats are among the grimmest consequences of the upending of urban life. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned of “unusual or aggressive” behaviour in rats, including the eating of rat pups.

This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that cannibalism is common among mammals in extremis. “Mothers will eat their young in the hope of one day being able to reproduce again,” says Steve Belmain, a professor of ecology at the Natural Resources Institute in Kent, and the UK’s leading rat academic. “If there’s not enough food to take care of herself, she won’t kill herself looking after them.”


4. Russian Election Commission: Turnout Passes 28 Percent On Third Day Of Constitutional-Amendments Vote

Russia's Central Election Commission (CEC) says overall turnout was nearly 28.5 percent on the third day of a weeklong vote for constitutional amendments that could pave the way for an extension of President Vladimir Putin’s rule by 12 years.

Almost 31 million people have cast ballots, including remote online voting, CEC chairwoman Ella Pamfilova said on June 28. Pamfilova also said that the CEC has received 113 complaints of irregularities.

Some 110.5 million people are eligible to cast ballots in the nationwide vote, which ends on July 1.

The sweeping constitutional reforms has sparked sharp criticism from opposition members and human rights groups who see them as an attempt at a power grab by President Vladimir Putin.


5. Armenian Parliament Adopts Contentious Amendments That Would Shake Up Constitutional Court

The Armenian parliament has adopted proposed changes to the constitution that would lead to the removal of Constitutional Court judges, potentially opening the door for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian to exert more influence over the South Caucasian nation.

A total of 89 members of the National Assembly -- all affiliated with the ruling My Step bloc -- backed the draft constitutional amendments in the first and second readings on June 22.

The votes were boycotted by the two opposition parties represented in the 132-seat legislature -- the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and the Bright Armenia Party (LHK).

The draft changes, unveiled last week by the My Step bloc of Pashinian, would lead to the immediate dismissal of three of the nine Constitutional Court members.

June 28, 2020

3 Countries in Europe Vote

Poland - First round of elections are today. Pres Andrzej Duda and the Mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski are the only two who really count in this race. Neither are expected to clear 50%, so a run-off is likely. This race is really too close to call according to Euronews

2. Russian constitutional referendum. Staring Sunday and ending July 1, Russians will vote on Constitutional Reform. Among the issues that Russians will be voting on:
- The Russian Constitution should take precedence over international law
- Persons who hold "important positions for ensuring the country's security" (President, Ministers, judges, heads of regions) should not have foreign citizenship or a residence permit in other countries, either at the time of their work in office or, in the case of the President, at any time before
- A presidential candidate must live in Russia for at least 25 years (currently 10 years)
- Granting the Constitutional Court the ability to check the constitutionality of laws adopted by the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation at the request of the President before they are signed by the President
-Defining marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman

and the most important
-remove the "in a row" clause from the article regulating the maximum number of presidential terms, discounting previous presidential terms before the amendment enters into force

3. France.
The second round of voting begins June 28.

June 28, 2020

Clever cat wins police plaudits in Japan for leading to rescue of man stuck in canal

A cat in the city of Toyama has been honored by local police for helping lead to the rescue of an elderly man who had fallen into an irrigation channel.

On June 16, a 77-year-old woman taking a walk around 7:30 p.m. found Koko, a female cat who belongs to a neighbor, staring into the canal and acting strangely. When she followed the cat's gaze, she discovered a man lying on his back in a 60-centimeter-wide and 40-cm-deep canal. The water was about 15 cm deep.


The Toyama Minami Police Station honored the five neighbors with certificates of commendation on Saturday, while Koko was presented with cat food for her effort.

Holding Koko in her arms, Nitta said, "I want to tell her well done, as (her discovery of the man) led to his rescue."


June 25, 2020

Venezuela, Myanmar, North Korea, Rwanda, Cuba

These are five of the countries that are on the EU approval list when the EU borders open again
The U.S. is not
Heckuva job there trumpie


June 24, 2020

NY Dem Primary House District-1 is shaping up to be a long night

According to the NY Board of Elections, 369 of 473 Districts have reported
Perry Gershom leads Nancy S Goroff by about 300 votes and leads Bridget M Fleming by about 700
Could be an interesting evening and morning


June 23, 2020

Daughter of country singer Hank Williams Jr. dies at 27 in a car crash

The daughter of country music star Hank Williams Jr. has died in a car crash. Katherine Williams-Dunning was 27.

Williams-Dunning was driving a 2007 Chevy Tahoe while towing a boat Saturday night in Henry County, Tennessee, when it crashed, according to Wesley Moster, a spokesman for the state's Department of Safety & Homeland Security. Her husband, Tyler Dunning, 29, was in the passenger seat.

The SUV, which was traveling south, crossed the dividing median of the highway and began a "rollover sequence," Moster told CNN in an email. It crossed the northbound lanes and finally came to a stop on the east shoulder of the roadway.

The couple married back in October 2015 and had two children, 5-year-old son Beau and 2-year-old daughter Audrey, according to Entertainment Tonight.


Sad for the family.
She was the second youngest child of Hank Williams Jr and had two young children
Hopefully, her husband survives.
That's going to be really hard on the children

June 23, 2020

Police Researcher: Officers Have Similar Biases Regardless Of Race

One common recommendation for reducing police brutality against people of color is to have police departments mirror a given area's racial makeup.


Rashawn Ray, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, studies race and policing. He says that diversity helps but that "officers, regardless of their race or gender, have similar implicit biases, particularly about Black people." Ray says it's not enough to have Black cops in a Black neighborhood if they don't know the area.


That's exactly right. So the optics look good, but we can't make the assumption that simply because a person is Black that they're going to know about the neighborhood. Part of the fundamental problem when it comes to policing that I've noticed is that when police officers interact with a white person, there is a pause, a slight pause, a slight benefit of the doubt. The reason why that exists is because subconsciously, implicitly, when they interact with that person, they see their neighbor, a parent at their kids' school, and when they interact with a Black person, they are less likely to have what we call in sociology those "social scripts" that allow them to view people in those multitude of ways.

And if we're going to change this, one big recommendation I have: Police officers need housing assistance that mandates that they live in the metropolitan area where they are policing. Because community policing isn't about getting out, playing basketball with a kid in uniform. Community policing oftentimes is what you do when you're not on duty. The way that you're investing in a neighborhood.


June 23, 2020

Dallas Stars worker fired over racist Nextdoor post comparing Chinese people to squirrels

The Dallas Stars fired an employee after he made a racist post on the social media platform Nextdoor that compared Chinese people to squirrels and seemed to encourage violence.

A screenshot of the post was shared on social media, where many called for the Stars to take action against Alex Kleuser, who made the post.


In the post, Kleuser commented on a thread, apparently discussing ways to keep squirrels away. Using DIY squirrel repellents like moth balls and cayenne pepper don’t “solve the problem,” Kleuser wrote — they just make the squirrels someone else’s problem.

“When you shoot a squirrel, it stops that one and also stops it from breeding to create more squirrels year after year. These squirrels are like the Chinese, they just keep coming,” he wrote. “It’s not enough for one or two people to be shooting them, we all need to do our part to make a difference."


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