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cali's Journal
cali's Journal
August 18, 2016

At the Trump Hannity lovefest, er, Townhall, Trump says he'd deport U.S. citizens

Donald Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he would force even U.S. citizens found to have extremist views to leave the country as president.

Hannity asked Trump what he would do about individuals like Seddique Mateen, the Afghanistan-born father of the man who killed dozens in an Orlando nightclub in June and has criticized the U.S.

“What do we do when we find somebody that has extreme views?” Hannity asked in a town hall that was taped Tuesday but aired Wednesday so that it wouldn’t interfere with the live broadcast of Trump’s speech in Milwaukee. “Do we throw them the hell out?

“I'd throw him out,” Trump said of Mateen, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen. “If you look at him, I'd throw him out.”

Trump did not clarify where those identified as “extreme” would be sent, but said “racial profiling” was necessary to root out people who might pose a threat to national security.

August 18, 2016

More about that testimonial letter re Trump's health and Dr. Harold Bornstein

I’m A Doctor. Here’s What I Find Most Concerning About Trump’s Medical Letter


Dr. Bornstein is affiliated with Lennox Hill, but he is not part of their Division of Gastroenterology. There also isn’t a Department of Medicine there is a Division of General Internal Medicine and Dr. Bornstein isn’t a member of that either. Having admitting privileges and being a division member are not the same thing. Many hospitals allow doctors to have admitting privileges and not be department or division members. And what’s with this made up “Section”?


What are “astonishingly excellent” laboratory test results? I’m a doctor, and I don’t know. Is it astonishing that a 70-year-old man has normal results? All his results are exactly average which is good — but wait, I thought his tests are all positive?

And while we’re at it, doctors just don’t say “laboratory test results” that sounds like something on a soap opera.

5. Doctors don’t say “test score” — we just give the results.

The conventional way to reference PSA would be PSA 0.81 ng/ml (normal < 4 ng/ml). A test score is something that happens at the DMV.

6. How did Dr. Bornstein test Donald Trump’s strength and stamina?

Did he have him bench press in the office? Do a treadmill test? Doctor’s just don’t typically write vague, quasi-medical things in letters. I’ve also never heard of a stamina test.

An internist might test muscle strength as part of a physical exam, but the results are graded 0-5, and 5 is not secret code for extraordinary. It’s code for normal.


It’s a terrible letter.

Did Dr. Bornstein write it? If so he should be embarrassed. It’s medically illiterate. If he doesn’t know his website doesn’t work or if that he’s not in the Division of Gastroenterology, that’s an issue.

Did Trump write it? He’ll never tell. It certainly reads like a letter written by someone with close to no knowledge of Dr. Bornstein’s practice or medicine.

All I can say is, typos and weird links and mentions of non-existent sections of gastroenterology and nonsensical medical information aside, the letter provides essentially no medical information.


August 18, 2016

Unpacking the ISDS: Why the ISDS actually is a threat to us here

I initially posted this in May, 2015

The first in a series I'll post: I try not to make these posts too long as I suspect that long posts are too often not read in detail.

First let me stipulate that the US has never lost an ISDS case. 17 have been brought. The US has prevailed in 13. 4 are pending. The TPP will significantly increase the volume of cases because many more corporations will have the right to bring ISDS cases.

Let's begin with a brief history:

The first ISDS was included in a trade agreement between Pakistan and Germany in 1959 to protect investors from unfair government actions and a court system that couldn't be trusted to rule equitably. The U.S. has about 50 trade agreements with ISDS provisions.

The most common claim echoed here at DU is about how the ISDS is nothing to get upset about because the U.S. has never lost an ISDS case- as mentioned above

A nation's laws cannot be changed by ISDS: True. An ISDS tribunal cannot alter the laws of a nation. But they can order restitution- and these can be large. That in turn can and does place pressure on countries, states and municipalities to not pass laws that they fear will result in being challenged by an investor. Such rewards also place pressure on a government to repeal laws. The former has already happened. One example is that several countries have put off plain packaging for cigarettes due to the WTO ISDS cases Philip Morris brought against Australia and Uruguay:

In 2011, Australia passed a tobacco-control law to discourage smoking. It required cigarettes to be sold in plain packages with prominent warnings, with brand information relegated to the bottom of the box. Touted as “one of the most momentous public health measures in Australia’s history” by the country’s health minister, the law was meant to deter a habit that will ultimately kill 1.8 million current Australian smokers, according to a recent study. After the country’s highest court upheld the constitutionality of the anti-smoking law, tobacco giant Philip Morris claimed that it violated the company’s corporate rights and launched a suit using a little-known provision called investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). The case is pending, as is a similar case against Uruguay. A similar tobacco-control measure in New Zealand is on hold pending the outcome of these cases.

How can this happen? In each case, Philip Morris is empowered to sue because of investment treaties. Many treaties and trade agreements enshrine the rights of corporations to claim that a country’s right to regulate public health interferes with profits and to sue states to protect them. And the cases, heard in special tribunals, often protect corporate profits at the expense of the health and welfare of citizens.

What’s happening in these cases should serve as a cautionary tale for Americans, as President Barack Obama’s administration pushes through the final stages of negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The signature trade deal would open the United States to more suits just like these. Although the deal is being sold as a trade equalizer that would benefit U.S. citizens and companies, it could instead make it more difficult and more costly for the United States to protect its own people.


August 18, 2016

The national security case against TPP

The Republican and Democratic conventions showcased an extraordinarily rare point of bipartisan consensus: stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Yet, in the dog days of summer, Americans have received a rude awakening that the unpopular 12-nation trade deal is still on the table. This past Friday, President Obama put Congress on notice that a vote on TPP is coming in the lame duck period after the election.

While the President recently conceded that TPP critics are “coming from a sincere concern about the position of workers and wages in this country,” he's also been hammering home a familiar and often-unchallenged fallback case for trade agreements: that TPP is essential for foreign policy and national security priorities.

As a retired Brigadier General and 30-year veteran of the U.S. Army, I’ve long considered arguments for trade deals as national security strategies, including arguments for the TPP specifically as a “way to keep the peace in the Pacific” and counter China as it “flexes its economic and military muscle.” While I respect President Obama and the pact’s military backers, I believe these arguments miss a crucial point: By facilitating the further offshoring of America’s manufacturing base, the trade pact would actually undermine America’s military readiness and global economic standing. TPP would hurt our national security interests more than it would help.

In 2013, the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board put forward a remarkable report describing one of the most significant but little-recognized threats to US security: deindustrialization. The report argued that the loss of domestic U.S. manufacturing facilities has not only reduced U.S. living standards but also compromised U.S. technology leadership “by enabling new players to learn a technology and then gain the capability to improve on it.” The report explained that the offshoring of U.S. manufacturing presents a particularly dangerous threat to U.S. military readiness through the “compromise of the supply chain for key weapons systems components.”



August 18, 2016

This is why I have to keep cheese out of my house. Or why I should

I'm a potential addict. I love cheese, particularly soft stinky cheeses. Last week, in a moment of weakness, I purchased a quarter pound of Moses Sleeper and the same amounts of Oma and Willoughby.

I ate nearly all of it, and most of a baguette and a bunch of grapes in one sitting.

Why oh why, do I have to live down the road from the best artisan cheese makers in the country, who age and cellar other great cheeses?

OMA is an American original, made by Sebastian von Trapp on his family's dairy farm in Waitsfield, Vermont. An approachable washed-rind, tomme-style cheese, Oma is made from the unpasteurized, organic milk of the von Trapp's primarily Jersey breed cows.

SENSORY NOTES - Oma balances pungent and sweet flavors with aromas of roasted nuts, cured meat and cultured butter. The paste is soft, almost pudding-like, but never runny. The thin, orange rind, often overlaid with white flora, is an earthy foil to the richness of the paste.

PAIRING AND SERVICE - The indulgent mouthfeel, tender rind, and balanced character make Oma a perfect addition to a cheese board. Enjoy as-is, paired with Belgian-style dubbel ale, Grüner Veltliner (Austrian, white wine) or serve with buttery crackers and fig jam or dried fruit.

MOSES SLEEPER is a Jasper Hill Creamery original, inspired by classic, French Brie. This cheese’s historic namesake, Moses Sleeper, and his compatriot, Constant Bliss, were Revolutionary War scouts killed while defending a blockhouse along the Northeast Kingdom’s legendary Bayley Hazen Military Road.

SENSORY NOTES - Moses is an approachable and nuanced brie-style cheese. Beneath its thin, bloomy rind lies a gooey, milky core showing a complex array of flavors at peak ripeness: cauliflower, crème fraîche, and toasted nuts. A bright, clean finish with a hint of white mushroom aroma follows the rich flavors of the paste.

WILLOUGHBY is an original creation of Marisa Mauro’s Ploughgate Creamery, a Cellars collaborator that ceased production of the cheese after a creamery fire in 2011. With Marisa’s blessing we resurrect this pudgy little washed-rind and have continued to develop the recipe at Jasper Hill Creamery.

SENSORY NOTES - This succulent and buttery washed-rind cheese has aromas of peat, roasted beef and onions – a strong and complex front for the subtle milky, herbal, ripe-peach flavors within. Willoughby has a thin, tender, rosy-orange rind, which adds earthy dimension to the texture and flavors of the gooey interior.


August 18, 2016

An ugly racial incident in Vermont- and the state reacts with fury

Vermont has all of two PoC in its House of Representatives. That's bad enough, but this is just disgusting:

From a local selectman to the Speaker of the House in Vermont, officials are denouncing a local man's tweet directed at state Rep. Kiah Morris as "racist" and "pure hate in plain sight."

Max Misch of Bennington posted on Twitter last week a cartoon caricature of a black person, with the caption, "S---, I be representin dem white m---f--- of Bennington, gnome sayin?" The Banner dashed certain of Misch's words for publication.

The tweet was in response to the news that Morris, who is black, had won the Democratic primary in her bid for re-election as a local state representative. The message was tweeted at Morris.

Morris posted a screenshot of the image to her Facebook page on Tuesday and wrote, "Haven't been on my Twitter in a few days, thought I would share this." As of Wednesday afternoon, her post has been shared 27 times and has more than 85 comments, universally in support of Morris.

It drew the attention of several political figures who roundly castigated Misch. They posted their comments in replies to Morris' Facebook post.

"He's not just ignorant, he is a racist pig," said state Rep. Rae Fields of Bennington, who also recently won her primary for re-election.

"This, Kiah, is the lowest of the low ... pure hate in plain sight," said Bennington Selectman Michael Keane. "It is time to make this matter extremely public and subject the person(s) doing this to you, Kiah, to chastisement. The only way to pull out the roots of ugliness and racism are to acknowledge and identify them. You can't heal a sickness with a band-aid."

"This is abhorrent," said Speaker of the Vermont House Shap Smith. Smith was recently defeated in the Democratic primary race for lieutenant governor. "Thankfully, the majority of the people in your district know how incredible you are."



August 18, 2016

Fortune: Why Donald Trump's New Braintrust May Explode

To reverse his fading fortunes, Donald Trump is placing two new power players in his campaign’s top positions. His choices, however, are likely to result in what students get from mistakenly mixing an acid with a base in chemistry class: an explosion. That’s the view of political operatives interviewed by Fortune, none of whom wished to be quoted on the record.

On August 16, the campaign announced that Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News, will become its CEO, a newly-created position and will “bolster the business-like approach of Mr. Trump’s campaign,” according a press release from the campaign.

Bannon will oversee “campaign staff and operations,” the release states. Kellyanne Conway, a veteran Republican strategist, is the new campaign manager. Paul Manafort, whose reputation has suffered following the discovery of secret ledgers from the deposed, pro-Kremlin Ukrainian regime listing him as the recipient of millions of dollars in cash, remains as “chairman and chief strategist.”

However, it’s clear that Manafort is being demoted—despite protests from the Trump campaign and Manafort himself, who said: “It is imperative we continue to expand our team with top-tier talent. Steve and Kellyanne are respected professionals who believe in Mr. Trump and his message and will undoubtedly help take the campaign to new levels of success.”

So who’s setting the overarching strategy? According the release, Bannon won’t just run administration, but will be responsible for “strategic oversight of major campaign initiatives.” Conway will “work on messaging and travel frequently with Mr. Trump.” In most campaigns, the campaign manager—Conway’s role—makes the personnel decisions, chooses the ads, and hones the messaging. But Conway is apparently sharing all three areas of responsibility with Bannon. This arrangement is like putting two CEOs in charge of company, a solution that almost never works, even if it’s not a flailing company.

Much more:


August 18, 2016

Why is President Obama pushing the TPP with every ounce of political muscle he possesses?

The other day, someone asked me if I thought his motives were "malicious". I said I didn't. But I do think I know what the basis for his determination to enact it is. In a word: CHINA.

It's about limiting China's influence in the region every bit as much as it's about anything else (actually the majority of the TPP isn't about trade or tariffs).

It's about keeping China's growing influence checked and in abeyance as long as possible. In the long run, that's hard to see happening. China has a swiftly growing economy and a swelling middle class. It's part of the region that we wish to hitch firmly to our wagon, so its influence is, in large part, a simple matter of geography.

China's ongoing and ramped up attempt to control and dominate the South China Sea is an example of what many see as a threat not just to nations in the region but to U.S. influence. I believe President Obama has said as much, though of course, in trying to sell the TPP to the American people, he is focusing on its presumed benefits to American workers and corporations.

China already has a trading pact with several nations in the region- ASEAN. It does not include such nations as Japan or Australia or New Zealand.

The U.S. and other nations want to diminish ASEAN via the TPP.



The South China Sea is an extremely significant body of water in a geopolitical sense. It is the second most used sea lane in the world, while in terms of world annual merchant fleet tonnage, over 50% passes through the Strait of Malacca, the Sunda Strait, and the Lombok Strait. Over 1.6 million m³ (10 million barrels) of crude oil a day are shipped through the Strait of Malacca, where there are regular reports of piracy, but much less frequently than before the mid-20th century.

The region has proven oil reserves of around 1.2 km³ (7.7 billion barrels), with an estimate of 4.5 km³ (28 billion barrels) in total. Natural gas reserves are estimated to total around 7,500 km³ (266 trillion cubic feet). A 2013 report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration raised the total estimated oil reserves to 11 billion barrels. In 2014 China began to drill for oil in waters disputed with Vietnam.

According to studies made by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippines, this body of water holds one third of the entire world's marine biodiversity, thereby making it a very important area for the ecosystem. However the fish stocks in the area are depleted, and countries are using fishing bans as a means of asserting their sovereignty claims.

Main article: Territorial disputes in the South China Sea

Several countries have made competing territorial claims over the South China Sea. Such disputes have been regarded as Asia's most potentially dangerous point of conflict. Both People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC, commonly known as Taiwan) claim almost the entire body as their own, demarcating their claims within what is known as the nine-dotted line, which claims overlap with virtually every other country in the region. Competing claims include:

Indonesia, China, and Taiwan over waters NE of the Natuna Islands

The Philippines, China, and Taiwan over Scarborough Shoal.

Vietnam, China, and Taiwan over waters west of the Spratly Islands. Some or all of the islands themselves are also disputed between

Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

The Paracel Islands are disputed between the PRC/ROC and Vietnam.

Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam over areas in the Gulf of Thailand.

Singapore and Malaysia along the Strait of Johore and the Strait of Singapore.

China and Vietnam have both been vigorous in prosecuting their claims. China (various governments) and South Vietnam each controlled part of the Paracel Islands before 1974. A brief conflict in 1974 resulted in 18 soldiers being killed, and China has controlled the whole of Paracel since then. The Spratly Islands have been the site of a naval clash, in which over seventy Vietnamese sailors were killed just south of Chigua Reef in March 1988. Disputing claimants regularly report clashes between naval vessels.

ASEAN in general, and Malaysia in particular, has been keen to ensure that the territorial disputes within the South China Sea do not escalate into armed conflict. As such, Joint Development Authorities have been set up in areas of overlapping claims to jointly develop the area and dividing the profits equally without settling the issue of sovereignty over the area. This is true, particularly in the Gulf of Thailand. Generally, China has preferred to resolve competing claims bi-laterally, while some ASEAN countries prefer multi-lateral talks, believing that they are disadvantaged in bi-lateral negotiations with the much larger China and that because many countries claim the same territory only multilateral talks could effectively resolve the competing claims.

The overlapping claims over Pedra Branca or Pulau Batu Putih including neighboring Middle Rocks by both Singapore and Malaysia were settled in 2008 by the International Court of Justice, awarding Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh to Singapore and Middle Rocks to Malaysia.



The US Air Force just made a huge show in the South China Sea with 3 nuclear-capable bombers

On Wednesday, the US Air Force made history by flying all three operational bombers, the B-52, the B-1, and the B-2 over Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, before conducting drills in the South China Sea and Northeast Asia.

The unique opportunity to fly these three long range bombers together came when the advanced B-1s and B-2s arrived in the theater to relieve the B-52s that were stationed there as part of operation Continuous Bomber Presence.

Essentially, it is the goal of US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) to constantly station nuclear-capable bombers in the Pacific in a visible effort to deter aggression in the region. But lately, the US has stepped up the presence, pulling out all three big bombers, while China has been acting increasingly aggressively towards their neighbors in the South China Sea.

China, for their part, has attempted to establish a "no sail zone," intruded into Japan's territorial waters, and flew bomber patrols of their own over the disputed islands and shoals since the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague ruled against their claims to the South China Sea. Now it would seem the US is answering.



August 18, 2016

That's it. Fuck you Julian Assange.

I can't post the link because it's from a wingnut site, but evidently over the past weekend, WikiLeaks sent out a tweet- and at this point WikiLeaks IS Assange, to its millions of followers with a link to the YouTube "documentary" of 'Clinton Cash'.

Despicable. He's openly trying to interfere with the Presidential elections using scurrilous right wing shit.

Once upon a time ago, WikiLeaks had the potential to be a valuable tool against government malfeasance. Now it is what it purports to fight- corrupt.

So fuck you very much, Mr. Assange.

August 18, 2016

Dear Brazil, you going to detain the British athlete who just reported being robbed, too?

I can think of no reason why Lochte and the other two swimmers who claimed to have been robbed after a night out drinking, should report a false story to the authorities. Inconsistencies in their stories about the time and other details do not mean they lied about the incident itself. Conger and Bentz who were with Lochte, were taken off a plane and questioned for hours at an unknown location.
They all admit to being intoxicated.

On Tuesday, this happened:

The Guardian reported that the victim had been held up at gunpoint while enjoying a night on the town in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

A spokesman for the British Olympic team confirmed an "incident of theft", adding: "All members of our delegation, including the individual concerned, are accounted for, and are safe and well."



The nub of this incident seems to be the accusation that the American swimmers made: that they had been robbed at gunpoint by men representing themselves as police officers. But this isn't the only incident in which an Olympic athlete has made such a charge:


Shortly before the Olympics, Jason Lee, a jujitsu champion from New Zealand, said that he had been briefly kidnapped by police officers and forced to withdraw about $800 from his bank account.



I just can't imagine why they'd make up such a story. Maybe they were intoxicated on illegal drugs, maybe they were just drunk, but it seems that the inconsistences in their story don't make a compelling case for their having made the whole thing up.

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Gender: Female
Hometown: born is LA, grew up there and in New Canaan CT
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