Saturday, December 31, 2016

"Hidden Figures" Shows Importance of The 1964 Civil Rights Act

African-American NASA workers compute orbital elements for John Glenn's mission in new movie, 'Hidden Figures'

Problem of the type the women would have had to know how to compute

Orbital geometry the women would have had to help compute.

As the superb film "Hidden Figures" has opened, it's provided an eye opening vista on the critical role of African -Americans in the NASA Manned Space Program. The movie basically highlights a little known facet that a team of African-American women - trained in high level 'rocket science' math- actually did the computations that put astronaut  John Glenn into successful orbit in February, 1962.  The women  (Katherine G. Johnson, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan) were referred to as "human computers" within NASA.

An exaggeration? Check out the above sample problem and the geometry of a basic artificial satellite orbit (which is what Glenn's craft was) then see for yourself. The irony of it is that despite the skills applied by these talented black women they were treated as second class citizens in the America of 1962. Unable to eat at the same lunch counters as their co-workers, unable to even work in the same room with them or use the same transport (buses)  or use the same rest rooms they to endure not only the sexism of the era but the Jim Crow segregation laws.  Among the other insults, they had to submit a special legal petition to be allowed to attend university math classes at a segregated high school.

Incredibly, some today evidently still have problems with the law (1964 Civil Rights Act) that would have ensured a measure of dignity and respect for these high level NASA workers. According to one distorted meme spread about the law:

" The Civil Rights Act of 1964 should have been two pages long and said specifically that the government can’t keep blacks from voting or turn firehouses onto black women and children, as well as other actions that happened prior to the law. However, the law was ambiguous and opened the doors for it to be used in ways that we were warned against. "

Seriously?   In fact the law (under Title I) did require that voting rules and procedures be applied equally to all races. (See below)  As for  accepting a 2-page mimeograph that the law had to be used solely to prevent fire hose or dog attacks on defenseless people?   Helloooooo! NO one, especially authorities, should  be doing that anyway!  It shouldn't take any law beyond the Bill of Rights in the Constitution to stop it. (But it did require such). It's like saying the only justifiable law limiting the behavior of parents is one to the effect that they should not be able to lock their kids in closets, and beat or starve them to death! That's bare foolishness!

A law defined for civil rights is useless unless it specifically defines those rights and preferably in terms of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution, or earlier civil rights acts (such as one from 1875). Thus, all the 1964 Civil Rights law did is extend to African Americans the exact same rights already allowed to whites, mainly in the Jim Crow South. In the case of the African-American women working for NASA, that meant not  (at a minimum) segregating them from their white workers - working on the same damned project.

As for the 1964  Civil Rights Act being "ambiguous" that is pure, unadulterated  horse manure and codswallop. The law was never ambiguous from the time JFK conceived it  (LIFE December 19, 1960, p. 31, 'Kennedy's objectives' ). It was always intended to repeal the Jim Crow laws, abominations that declared - for example that the team African -American women working for NASA had to go to the back of the bus, and couldn't be served with their white coworkers at lunch counters.The key provisions are laid out below and not are in any way ambiguous.

Title I

Barred unequal application of voter registration requirements.. It did not eliminate literacy tests, which were one of the main methods used to exclude Black voters, other racial minorities, and poor Whites in the South, nor did it address economic retaliation, police repression, or physical violence against nonwhite voters. While the Act did require that voting rules and procedures be applied equally to all races, it did not abolish the concept of voter "qualification", that is to say, it accepted the idea that citizens do not have an automatic right to vote but rather might have to meet some standard beyond citizenship.It was the Voting Rights Act, enacted one year later in 1965, that directly addressed and eliminated most voting qualifications beyond citizenship.

Title II

Outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce; exempted private clubs without defining the term "private".

(The last aspect we will get to in a bit)

Title III

Prohibited state and municipal governments from denying access to public facilities on grounds of race, color, religion or national origin.

Title IV

Encouraged the desegregation of public schools and authorized the U.S. Attorney General to file suits to enforce said act..

Title V

Expanded the Civil Rights Commission established by the earlier Civil Rights Act of 1957 with additional powers, rules and procedures.

Title VI

Prevents discrimination by government agencies that receive federal funds. If an agency is found in violation of Title VI, that agency may lose its federal funding.

Under the General provision of the Act we see: This title declares it to be the policy of the United States that discrimination on the ground of race, color, or national origin shall not occur in connection with programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance and authorizes and directs the appropriate Federal departments and agencies to take action to carry out this policy.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but it makes it clear what the extent of the law's objectives were and tied them to federal assistance. This is why Churches or hospitals receiving such assistance cannot willy nilly engage in segregation practices. A trenchant moment in the film occurs when one of the NASA women informs her boss (played by Kevin Costner): "There are no colored bathrooms in this building or any building outside the west campus - which is half a mile away. Did you know that? I have to walk to Timbuktu just to relieve myself'.

The Act recognized  such outrages were unacceptable. It recognized that refusing positive civil rights, like being able to order food at PUBLIC lunch counters, or attend schools of their choice meant a hollow law, actually devoid of rights.  In this sense, the "right' to not be fire hosed or beaten with truncheons or shot is only the most minimal of negative rights, but not true rights - since those actions ought not be inflicted on a fellow innocent human anyway! How hard is this stuff to grasp?

But this sort of demeaning and regressive thought is typical for too many currently under the influence of fake news in Trumpland.  Others, the Steve Bannon types -  offended that their white privilege is now being challenged- want to trash any and all earlier laws that protect minorities. What is white privilege ? It's often not encoded in any formalism or legal language. It's  the ability to walk down a suburban street or drive and know in your little white heart of hearts you won't be stopped by cops, tased or given a good old fashion boot kicking- or be shot in the back. THAT is what  the most fundamental translation of white privilege is about. The conscious or unconscious sense of entitlement that little white you is basically immune to the slings and arrows that may dog others of darker complexion, oh....who also don't get called "black apes" by little white likes of you.

Another wayward and misplaced interpretation of the Civil Rights Act is one circulating on some blogs:

"The law has outlawed freedom of association, private business operating as it sees fit and any number of private clubs."

In fact the law has done no such thing. IF one establishes a truly PRIVATE club  then he is  indeed entitled to associate with whomever he desires - KKK, Neo-Nazis, proto- Confederates, and exclude those with whom he doesn't.. A "private business' is more problematical. Such as what? No businesses I know are truly private because they operate with licenses in the public domain.  A "private" business, would - by definition - have to limit its very potential for profit and sales by excluding populations. In more than one sense, a "private business" is an oxymoron. This is probably why the 1964 Act left open the definition, it would have been a fool's errand to do otherwise.

Hence, all genuine businesses are subject to laws of commerce which mandate trade in the public domain. The 1964 civil rights act merely formalizes the already existing trade laws which ought to be followed anyway. Our Trumpy brethren don't seem to know that, however.  The type of blabber here about "associations" reminds me  of former Loyola University prof Walter Block's absurd arguments made several years ago in a NY Times piece:

"Woolworth's had lunchroom counters and no blacks were allowed. Did they have a right to do that? Yes, they did! No one is compelled to associate with people against their will."

But consider the consequences if this bat shit crazy meme was extended willy-nilly so that anyone could apply it. Pharmacies could refuse serving people they regarded as 'misfits'  - say denying birth control pills to young, single women or not even permitting blacks to cross the doorway.

Owners of football teams could decide that they want no Jews, blacks, or gays entering their stadiums and they might put that into place. Private hospitals -operating as businesses - might decide that they want no blacks, Jews or gays on their premises either. Restaurants would feel free to bar anyone they think is marginal, including those who look like 'thugs' - or  whoever doesn't fit flitty criteria like hair length, or quality of dress.

In other words, you'd invite a society bordering on chaos, and don't think for a moment that  the millions of excluded folk would just sit there and take it! It is no wonder that Block describes himself as an "anarcho-capitalist".   

Block, like our Trumpy anti-Civil Rights brethren, argues:

"If it is morally wrong to force someone to work for you against their will, how is it any less wrong to force someone else to trade with another against their will? ."

Which is total nonsense and shows the abject ignorance at work in terms of grasping the nature of commercial laws.  That is, the restaurateur or trader is afforded certain privileges (via  licensing) to trade or provide services (such as food) in the public domain. Hence, the so called "freedom" is limited for business owners to do whatever they want. Their commercial warp and woof can't include refusal of service unless there are extenuating circumstances, i.e. the customers enter drunk and disorderly. The public trader doesn't have the latitude or luxury to refuse service on the basis of race, religion, skin color or sexual orientation. Sorry!

But there is an out! If positive civil rights objectors really want to impose their own subjective limitations on business associations they can devise their own private businesses. Good luck in earning any kind of sustainable profit with just a tiny subset of consumers!

See also:

Friday, December 30, 2016

New Research Shows How Different Greenhouse Gases Adversely Affect Crops

One of the tropes circulated by climate deniers has been that "Excess carbon dioxide is good for plants and especially crops". In other words, CO2 even at exceptionally high levels, is not really a pollutant, but something to help us attain better crop yields. While climate scientists and environmentalists have tried to correct this, i.e showing that excess CO2 actually propels "super weeds" which kill crops and that necessitates ever stronger weedicides like agents as: 2, 4- D, dicamba and paraquat, the effects have been nominal. (See also:The Wall Street Journal  June 4, 2010, p A16, 'Superweeds Trigger New Arms Race')

The deniers, for their argument, probably invoked the (summary) chemical equation most of us learned in high school biology for photosynthesis:

6 CO2 +   6 H20 + light energy  ->  C6 H12 O6  + 6 O2

Thus, the carbon dioxide (6 molecules) combined with six of oxygen and adding in radiant energy (sunlight) gives glucose plus oxygen. What could be wrong? Well, a lot it there is too much carbon dioxide.

But this example, illustrates the recurring problem of exactly how any greenhouse gas affects crop yields. Now thanks to new work by Drew T. Shindell, e.g.

We are finally getting some useful answers. While it's been known that carbon dioxide is the largest driver of climate change, Shindell found that other anthropogenic emissions cause more damage to actual crop yields.  Among the culprits named in the past: methane, halocarbons (used in refrigeration and air conditioning),  and black carbon (from biomass and fossil fuel burning)

In his paper published in Earth's Future, Shindell sought to create a more complete picture of human-caused emissions.  He did this by assembling data from his previous studies as well as the IPCC's fourth and fifth assessment reports and crop yield data from previous work.  Shindell then created a model to determine the effect that individual greenhouse gases have on global temperatures, precipitation, carbon dioxide and ozone - all of which affect crop success.

Shindell's model revealed that in the short term (i.e. 1st decade after release of emissions), the greatest damage to crops per ton comes from black carbon and halocarbons. Methane emissions come next, given that the gas (CH4) increases surface ozone which causes harmful chlorosis, i.e. a yellowing of leaves.

Shindell found the effects of CO2 are more complicated, For example, as the amount in the atmosphere increases, crop yields initially do as well. But as the CO2 emissions continue to contribute to climate warming the overall impact becomes negative with any benefits originally accruing basically being outweighed by deleterious effects after only 10 years.

Overall, Shindell's model indicates that up to 93 percent of crop losses through the rest of the century will be caused from non-carbon dioxide emissions with methane the most damaging. (Let us also bear in mind the most massive methane outgassing, as from melting permafrost in the Arctic, is triggered by much higher warming from carbon dioxide)

The most intriguing aspect of Shindell's paper is in where it shows how mitigation procedures can increase crop yields. For reduced CO2 alone, for example, crop yields would go up 3 percent. If methane is suitably reduced (which also means CO2 and warming is reduced) we can expect a 16 percent increase in crop yields.

On the other hand, under a high emissions scenario for all greenhouse gases (likely under Trump) there will be nearly 25 percent crop losses by the end of the century. Given the world's population is expected to balloon to 11 billion or more, we are looking at extreme hunger, starvation. This will be in the most densely populated regions such as Africa.

Without a doubt, Shindell's work provides a solid basis for decisions by policy makers. The question now is whether they will even read his work, and then act on it.

With Obama Sanctions on Russkies Should New U.S. Elections Now Be Called?

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Many citizens want this little troll dumped before Jan. 20th and either new elections called, or Hillary installed as official President - because of the claimed Russian manipulation of the 2016 elections.

It isn't easy being an obnoxious, entitled little twitter troll drooling at the mouth to fuck the country up as "president" but who is then presented evidence of foreign influence in the recent election. An influence which, arguably, catapulted his lot to power. As noted in a previous post, the deliberate hacking in key battleground states could genuinely overturn the "apple cart" of a free election.

As I noted in my December 28th post, despite the isist4ence of state election officials that their processes are fair and rigorous,

Expert Dan S. Wallach and his colleagues believe a crafty team of pros could strike surgically, focusing on select counties in a few battleground states where “a small nudge might be decisive."

As a battleground state with paperless voting machines, Pennsylvania would be a perfect candidate. In affidavits for the recount. Computer scientist J. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan laid out how attackers could conduct a successful hack (ibid.):

—Probe election offices well in advance to determine how to break into computers.

—After identifying battleground states, infect voting machines in targeted counties with malware that would shift a small percentage of the vote to a desired candidate.

—After silently altering electronic tallies, erase digital tracks to leave no trace.

Let's concede that this bears serious scrutiny as the Russkie plan called "Grizzly Steppe" was exposed.. Let us also allow, at least as a strong possibility, that Obama and the intelligence services knew at least one of these methods took place at some level, hence the sanctions which include:

- Steps against two FRS spy agencies

- Similar steps against 4 specific GRU intel officials, and two suspected hackers.

- Ejection of 35 Russian intel operatives from their U.S. enclaves, e.g. in D C  and Frisco.

- Shutting down of two Russian compounds., one in MY the other in MD

- Release of evidence of Russian cyber activity including the network addresses of the actual computers used by the Russians to launch the cyber backs

Let us also agree that such serious steps, including proposed covert sanctions, would not be taken unless the Prez and his intelligence community (all 17 agencies) had very solid evidence indeed. They wouldn't just go out on a lark and initiate these sanctions. Not by a long shot.

This brings up the further question of what to do about the sullied recent election, if true. While Obama and his cohort are careful not to claim the Russian influence actually handed Trump the election, at the same time it is logically impossible to assert there was NO tilt at all. If I load 2 dice by 0.01g as opposed to 0.02 g and they land snake eyes 8 of 10 times, am I not responsible for the unbalanced outcome? What about 80 of 100 times?

What we are getting into is a lot of technical "weeds" and the objective differences between "tilting" an election, "rigging" it and "handing" it to one's opponent. I will argue here that it doesn't matter which as long as we are talking of some kind of stochastic tactic, which the culprits knew to be so, but who were satisfied the outcome would be to their distinct benefit, i.e. having Trump elected.

Thus, the letter appearing in the Denver Post three weeks ago from a person I will call "Ms. X" who wrote that if it is shown how Russians could have hacked the election and people, names are called out, then new elections must be called, or Hillary installed as the rightful president by acclamation and default.

As I read the letter out to Janice, we both had a good laugh, because for one thing, new elections would hardly be called now and the recent one held Nov. 8th will not be "nullified".  To say it was "one for the ages" would be understatement. Further, electoral laws state clearly when general elections are held, and with all the tumult of the recent one and harsh attacks there is little chance of holding a do-over. Let me rephrase that: there is about as much chance of that happening as aliens from the third planet of Tau Ceti landing on the DC Mall on the 20th of January and kidnaping Donald Trump. Maybe to make a gourmet dinner out of him back home. at least it would spare us his asinine tweets.  I would also add - and J. agrees - there is the same chance that Hillary will be named President by default. Perhaps she should be, but it ain't gonna happen..(We'd likely have a new Civil War with the Trumpsters on our hands.)

Meanwhile, as expected, Trump tweeted that "It is time to move on to bigger and better things". Hmmmm, like prosecuting or impeaching him for corruption as a result of his business entanglements  - including in the Philippines, Argentina, Taiwan and China? More on this in a future post!

Most interesting, the GOP congress led by Sens. McCain and  Lindsey Graham now plan to go full bore in an investigation - presumably bipartisan- to get to the bottom of it all next year. It should be interest, especially to see how far they will venture in opposition to the Donald's (aka Twitter Troll's) wishes.  Some have said (in the GOP) Obama "didn't go far enough" - but again, Obama is playing 4 dimensional chess and they are stuck in 3 dimensions, or maybe two.  By leaving space for harsher punishments Obama is leaving it to the Republicans in congress to put their money where their big mouths are. He is leaving it to them to show they really do want stronger sanctions, and are not merely performing a political PR stunt.

Before closing, I should note that not everyone, including on the Left, is convinced that there is enough material or direct evidence to justify the sanctions Obama has taken. Or to inculpate the Russians as the culprits. I leave it to readers to see the "other side" in the link below from Robert Parry:

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Earth "Over Shoot Day" By 2030 - What Will We DO To Avoid It?

Graph showing absolute 'two planet' overshoot by 2030. This assumes 'business as usual' which will be the case certainly in "Trump world".

As we approach a new year it is useful to think about the planet's limited resources, our stewardship of them and the potential for overshoot. Even moderate UN scenarios suggest that if current population and consumption trends continue, then by the 2030s we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us. Of course, we only have one, and that is now badly polluted, including with coral reefs dying throughout the world's oceans,

Too many of our citizens fail to appreciate that every energy conversion process has as an accompaniment entropy, or disorder. In most cases this appears as waste heat, as well as pollutants. For example, a car engine produces carbon monoxide as well as carbon dioxide and waste heat generated via the internal combustion engine.  The 2nd law of thermodynamics or entropy law  states that the expelled gas constituents cannot ever be combined again to produce the original fuel. In other words, resource consumption here is a one way process. Resource extraction, such as oil shale fracking also has many adverse effects on the terrestrial environment, apart from the CO2 released when the stuff is burned (e.g. as kerogen)

Turning resources into waste faster than waste can be converted into resources puts us in global ecological overshoot, depleting the very resources on which human life and biodiversity depend.
Every year Global Footprint Network raises awareness about global ecological overshoot with our Earth Overshoot Day campaign. Earth Overshoot Day is the day on the calendar when humanity has used up the resources that it takes the planet the full year to regenerate. Just like the hands of the  'doomsday clock'  approaching 'midnight' for nuclear cataclysm, Earth Overshoot Day  has moved earlier and earlier each year across metaphorical calendar months. By way of comparison, it has already shifted from early October in 2000 to August n 2015 and will arrive by early July next year - but many predict by early May under a Trump administration's excesses. This is nothing to cheer about but instead something to fear because it shows our time is running out..

The inevitable result will be dying coral reefs,  collapsing fisheries, faster melting polar caps and glaciers, diminishing forest cover, depletion of fresh water systems, and increasing ocean acidification as well as sea level rise.  Overshoot also contributes to resource conflicts and wars, mass migrations, famine, disease and other human tragedies—and tends to have a disproportionate impact on the poor, who cannot buy their way out of the problem by getting resources from somewhere else.

When famed science and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov arrived in Barbados in February, 1976, the entire island was in an uproar The reason was eager anticipation of his public lecture at the venerable Queen's Park Theater.

Isaac Asimov makes a crucial point concerning overpopulation at his Queen's Park Lecture in Barbados, in February, 1976.

Asimov's general theme was 'The Moon and What It means To Us' but - as usual- his lecture did veer off into other important areas, especially the increase in human population, and its dire effects on the welfare of everyone.

A metaphor that Asimov used to make his point then has since become known as "the bathroom metaphor" and it works to get people to understand the debilitating, disastrous effects of too many people, and particularly overshoot of limited available resources.. As Asimov noted, if two people live in an apartment, and it comes with two bathrooms, they have a comfortable life. Either one can use the bathroom anytime he or she wants, and can remain in there as long as they desire, even reading while doing business.

One can say, that for the purpose of "Bathroom freedom" - 2 is the carrying capacity for a two -person apartment. Now, let there be twenty people occupying the same apartment, and what happens? Bathroom freedom evaporates. Visits now must be regulated by the clock, and no one may stay in for too long. Indeed, a timetable likely has to be set up for each person's bathroom use. (Don't laugh too hard at the improbability of this example, since we now know of numerous cases where immigrants have been found crammed into such conditions - but usually in a house)

The point is, that the liberating use of the bathroom which applied for two persons, no longer applies with twenty, and probably evaporated by the time there were five or six occupants of the apartment. By the latter numbers, say at two or three times the normal occupancy - one attains "overshoot" for the apartment. In a similar way overpopulation of a finite planet with limited resources and space  degrades the quality of living, and cheapens it for all.

Is Asimov's example a tad too extreme or is there a real world, historical example to support it? In fact, there is, and it can be traced to Easter Island. The Easter Islanders went from a maximum 20,000-odd population ca. 1600 AD to barely 1,000 when the first Europeans landed in 1720. (Massive civil war broke out ~ 1680) The newcomers had found that the natives had descended into war and cannibalism. In the case of the E. Islanders, they expended all their wood, forest stores – and were reduced to living in caves by the time the Europeans arrived.

What happened? The Islanders grew too comfortable with their existing resources, and began to consume them at a rate beyond their replacement leading to overshoot. This had a critical impact because of the fact: a) Easter Island was so remote - closest other island is Pitcairn, 1240 miles west, and b) the trees that formed the base of the resource supply were limited in extent.

Because of the trees, the Islanders could build adequate shelters, plus construct boats able to navigate many miles offshore to catch large dolphin (fish, not mammals) and eat heartily. But they became too sated too soon. Their ability to provide a bounty of food early drove their birth numbers higher. From a base population of ~ 3500, they grew to 5500, then 7800, then 10,000, then 15,000. In all likelihood they were already on the verge of overshoot by 5500.

As their numbers increased on the tiny island, the demand for lumber did as well. Massive deforestation was now the rule, as they cut down trees to try to keep pace with the exploding population. Before long, new seedlings planted could not reach the maturity needed to build the sturdy fishing boats to go miles offshore and catch dolphin. The populace was now reduced to scavenge for small mollusks near the tidal basin, and to hunt whatever birds there were (the birds were hunted to extinction).

As people, then animals, soon descended to eating the seeds of the trees, collapse set in. By the time the Europeans arrived there were no more wood shelters, and the people had retreated into caves and had been eating each other for decades. Such are the horrific fruits of overshoot, when people become desperate.

Like Easter Island before its overshoot, the Earth has provided humans all that's  needed to live and thrive. But also like Easter Island and its then inhabitants, we are approaching the critical limits beyond which it will be impossible to survive - far less thrive. So what will it take for humanity to live within the means of one planet? Individuals and institutions worldwide must begin to recognize ecological limits. We must begin to make ecological limits central to our decision-making and use human ingenuity to find new ways to live, within the Earth’s bounds.

This means investing in technology and infrastructure that will allow us to operate in a resource-constrained world. It means taking individual action, and creating the public demand for businesses and policy makers to participate.

Using tools like the Ecological Footprint to manage our ecological assets is essential for humanity’s survival and success. Knowing how much nature we have, how much we use, and who uses what is the first step, and will allow us to track our progress as we work toward our goal of sustainable, one-planet living.

Regrettably, such objectives will now be vastly harder to achieve under a Trump administration which has appointed a horde of climate deniers who don't give a damn about planetary stewardship. Further, they deny global warming reality in favor of a business model that is totally unsustainable in a world beset by the runaway greenhouse effect.

See also:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Jill Stein's Recount Efforts Were Doomed From the Get Go Thanks To Paperless Machines

Image result for photos of antiquated electronic voting machines in PhillyJill Stein by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Image showing primitive electronic voting machines in Pennsylvania. Jill Stein - defeated by the machines before she could start a recount

It turns out, as many of us suspected, that Green Party candidate Jill Stein's recount efforts were doomed from the start. This may have had much to do with the dubious quality of the voting machines in Pennsylvania  one of 3 states she targeted for recounts. Recall Stein’s bid to recount votes in Pennsylvania was shot down by a federal judge on Dec. 12. The argument was that she'd produced no evidence of hacking - which suspicion she cited as a basis for recount.

The judge wrote in his opinion:

"Suspicion of a ‘hacked’ Pennsylvania election borders on the irrational"

But  this statement is predicated on the assumption of  some rigorous and consistent standard of tabulation accuracy, which we know doesn't exist with these paperless electronic machines. For any who gullibly believe these antiquated machines are as good as paper ballots, I invite you to take a gander at the machine below showing vote switching (from 2012) in action, e.g. at:

 So it turns out that in retrospect the judge was right for the wrong reasons, i.e. there was no way to cross check the electronic counts using paper records - so it was therefore "irrational" to try. Thus,  in the case of Pennsylvania, any absence of evidence of hacking may have been part and parcel of the age and type of machines used. Thus, the use of antiquated electronic voting machines (see graphic) ensured there'd be almost no chance of detecting potential fraud or error in the vote — there was basically nothing to recount, i.e. independent of the electronic tally.

If Pennsylvania was the only state featuring such relic means of counting votes it would be bad enough. But according to a piece in The Denver Post yesterday (p. 13A, 'Vulnerable Votes - Rigging Disruption') this isn't so. Pennsylvania is one of 11 states where the majority of voters use antiquated machines that store votes electronically, without printed ballots or other paper-based backups that could be used to double-check the balloting. Hence, there’s almost no way to know if they’ve accurately recorded individual votes — or if anyone tampered with the count.

Should we just naively assume machines like these work properly and the votes are accurate. Absolutely not! That sort of cavalier, laissez faire attitude is more the modus operandi of Banana Republics. People's eyes may glaze over at the subject of voting technology (or lack of it) but this is important. If the validity of our elections is undermined by the machines we use to tabulate votes, then we are all living in a fool's paradise.  How so? 

Daniel Lopresti, chairman of the Lehigh University computer-science department, puts it in this perspective (quoted in the Post piece):

"What you’re hoping for is some evidence that was left, some degree of clumsiness or carelessness, a belief by the individual that we won’t dig quite that deep"   But "an infected machine could do anything you can imagine" according to analyst Dan Wallach, "It could flip votes from one candidate to another. It could delete votes. It could cast write-in votes for Mickey Mouse for president.”  See one of the antics in its repertoire in the preceding link.

The brute fact is that more than 80 percent of Pennsylvanians who voted Nov. 8 cast their ballots on such machines, according to VotePA, a nonprofit seeking their replacement. A Stein recount would, in the words of VotePA’s Marybeth Kuznik, a veteran election judge, essentially have amounted to this: “You go to the computer and you say, ‘OK, computer, you counted this a week-and-a-half ago. Were you right the first time?'”

Is this any way to determine the next leader of the free world? Putatively the most powerful leadership position on the planet with the capacity to obliterate all human life under specific conditions?  I would hope enough sane, rational people are left to answer a resounding, 'NO!'

Moreover, as reported in the same article, these paperless digital voting machines, used by roughly 1 in 5 U.S. voters last month, present some of the most glaring security dangers. For example,  like many electronic voting machines, they are vulnerable to hacking. But other machines typically leave a paper trail that could be manually checked. The paperless digital machines open the door to potential election rigging that might not ever be detected.  In other words, in the wrong hands, they can lead to the election of a tyrant or other manner of demagogue.

This is why as far back as April  Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman  warned of a covert effort in Repub states to steal this year's election, see   The Flip & Strip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows and Electronic Election Theft ( /,

What’s more, the prevalence of such zombie machines  magnifies other risks in the election system, such as the possibility that hackers might compromise the computers that tally votes, by making failures or attacks harder to catch.  Quoting Barbara Simons, a former IBM researcher and co-author of “Broken Ballots" (ibid.):

If I were going to hack this election, I would go for the paperless machines because they are so hard to check. In fact, we have a history of the unlearned lessons of flawed U.S. voting technology."

Why don't we learn the lessons? Are we too damned dumb. too complacent or too inept? Or maybe we are quite satisfied with just the veneer of democracy as comic George Carlin once put it (but in a much more colorful format via a comparison of four yearly episodes of "jerking off").

The  Post article noted that the U.S. voting system is "a loosely regulated, locally managed patchwork of more than 3,000 jurisdictions overseen by the states, employing more than two dozen types of machinery from 15 manufacturers."  This hodge podge of methodologies, not to mention superimposed voter ID regulations, is an invitation to the disenfranchisement of millions.

Meanwhile, election officials across the nation insist  they take great care to secure their machines from tampering. They claim they are locked away when not in use and sealed to prevent tampering.
They also maintain that all that makes national elections very difficult to steal without getting caught.

But difficult is not impossible.  Expert Dan S. Wallach and his colleagues believe a crafty team of pros could strike surgically, focusing on select counties in a few battleground states where “a small nudge might be decisive."

As a battleground state with paperless voting machines, Pennsylvania would be a perfect candidate. In affidavits for the recount. Computer scientist J. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan laid out how attackers could conduct a successful hack (ibid.):

—Probe election offices well in advance to determine how to break into computers.

—After identifying battleground states, infect voting machines in targeted counties with malware that would shift a small percentage of the vote to a desired candidate.

—After silently altering electronic tallies, erase digital tracks to leave no trace.

Also pointing out that just because the machines aren’t on the internet doesn’t mean they can’t be hacked. Election workers could be duped or bribed into installing malware that sat dormant until Election Day. Locks could be picked to gain access to the machines, seals compromised with razor blades and acetone. Studies by Halderman, Wallach and others proved years ago that it’s possible to infect voting machines in an entire precinct via the compact flash cards used to load electronic ballots.

Jill Stein's Green Party lawyers seeking the Pennsylvania recount called the state’s election system “a national disgrace” in a federal lawsuit, noting that many states outlaw paperless voting.   The most outrageous aspect of the whole thing is it could all boil down to a lack of money, or rather willingness to ensure the nation's voting systems are on a par with those - say in Germany.

According to Edgardo Cortes, the  PA state elections commissioner( ibid.):

The federal money is not there and in most instances state money is not being made available, either.  So the entire cost is falling to local governments.”

Any person who doesn't believe this to be disgraceful has no right referring to himself as a citizen. Because a citizen, above all, attends to the machinery of government and is committed to its integrity. He doesn't belittle it or dismiss it when it's convenient, say when his party or candidate wins.

On an objective and rational level, just as Congress earlier delivered a death blow to punch cards, it should also outlaw paperless touchscreen voting machines and pay for their replacement. This according to Andrew Appel, a Princeton University computer scientist quoted in the Post article.

Bottom line: Until we collectively get our act together we can't be sure of any election outcome, and the very act of "certification" becomes a lame joke.

See also

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Problem of Predicting Polarity Reversals of the Earth's Geomagnetic FIeld

Earth's magnetosphere (right) provides protection from solar eruptions, radiation. But during most of a field reversal that protection disappears.

In previous posts I noted that reversals of Earth's dipole field are critical, given the magnetosphere provides protection from incoming solar radiation - especially in the wake of major solar eruptions such as CMEs (coronal mass ejections).  Typically, the magnetosphere will diminish during a geomagnetic field reversal and even B(E)-> 0, in particular because such reversals include an interval wherein no magnetic field exists. This zero field condition may last from 100 to 1000 years, perhaps more. In such a case, the magnetic field -which normally acts as a protective barrier to the flux of energized particles known as the solar wind- ceases to do that. This means that in the event of major solar flares, the particle flux might attain levels that can be lethal to some life forms.

The problem posed by the solar wind's (or flare) energetic particles is to expose many life forms to much higher radiation levels. To give an indication of the magnitude, when a medium intensity (not even terribly large) solar wind normally "blows" along the magnetosphere boundary an effective MHD (magneto-hydrodynamic) generator is produced. All such "generators" are defined by virtue of the free electrons and protons in the solar wind cutting across the Earth's resident magnetic field.

With an induced voltage of this generator up to 150 kV (150,000 V) a total power of more than 1 million megawatts is produced. That is 1 million joules of energy per second. Entering the Earth's atmosphere unabated such energy flux would pose major issues for any organisms, including humans.

It would therefore seem to be a matter of importance to be able to forecast when the next field reversal will occur. The problem is that the only extant evidence for such reversals is preserved in the geologic record but for which major uncertainties are inherent. Specifically, many field reversals in the past have occurred faster than the measured age resolution of the rocks that record them. If then I only know the age of rocks in a particular strata of the paleomagnetic record to +  10ky (ky = thousands of years)  but a given reversal transpires in 2 ky, then that event can be missed in the record.

To fix ideas, the last reversal occurred some 779,000 years ago but the critical behavior of the transitional field  remains difficult to nail down because of the varying paleomagnetic  record. Given these uncertainties it shouldn't surprise anyone that we still can't predict when the next magnetic field reversal will occur.

Now a new paper by Jean-Pierre Valet and Alexandre Fournier, see e.g.

Supplies answers to many of the questions and issues surrounding field reversals and why they are so difficult to pin down. The authors, who published their work in Reviews of Geophysics (see preceding link) reviewed the major features of reversals and then evaluated the compatibility of these findings with recent numerical modeling results.

The authors found the major source of uncertainty arises from the rapidity of the reversals, as indicated with the example I gave above, i.e. in relation to the age of the rock layer. In addition, the pair found the observed decrease in transitional field intensity can reduce the fidelity of the magnetic record especially for sedimentary rocks. In other words, we can't trust the magnetic record to deliver an accurate picture of what's happening.

As to the inability for forecast reversals in the futures, the authors argue isn't yet advanced sufficiently to determine whether the field strength (B[E]) measured during the past 800 years is an indication of whether the next reversal is imminent.  It could also be merely a signal that falls within the range of long term variability.

One of the reasons that forecasting remains a challenge is due to the limited understanding of the processes that generate the Earth's magnetic field.  The processes are estimated to occur on the scale of several decades to a century or at least an order of magnitude shorter than the time interval over which a typical reversal occurs.

Valet and Fournier argue that future progress in understanding Earth's field reversals depends on a number of further investigations including incorporation of new, more sensitive magnetometers, say capable of scanning magnetization at submillimeter scales. They also recommend including estimates of cosmogenic radionuclide production which might confirm the existence and strength of oscillation prior to reversals.

I'd also suggest looking more closely at the Sun's own magnetic reversals, which occur every 22 years on a full dipole reversal cycle (11 years on a half cycle).  These solar reversals might shed light on our own, and perhaps there is some plasma relationship between the two.

Hopefully, humans will figure out how to do forecasts of reversals before the next major CME arrives.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Trump The Tweeting Twit Gets His Comeuppance

Let us admit as a rational proposition, that no leader - or leader -elect- ought to be propounding nuclear policy via a cartoon language medium. I refer to Trump's nuclear policy tweet last week:

"We need to strengthen and expand nuclear capacity until the world comes to its sense regarding nukes."

What the hell is he yapping about? Expand nuclear capacity? Is he nuts, ignorant or just stupid? As a number of strategic analysts have pointed out, including staff from The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the U.S. already has just under 5,000 nuclear warheads in its active arsenal and more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads. This is more than enough to turn the world to ash about six times over.

Meanwhile the clueless media, especially on TV, kept showing the tweet on large HD screens in bold relief, as they scratched their heads, openly wondering what the hell he meant. No surprise here. As I pointed out earlier (Nov. 23rd  post) Twitter is essentially a cartoon language medium by which I mean its 140 character limit basically excludes any complex thought.  Or, I might add, any basis for explication or interpretation of what one is communicating.  One is basically reduced to the equivalent of a series of language cartoons.  This also harkens back to the medium used  constituting the basis of the message, as Marshall McLuhan first pointed out in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man

Thus, no surprise as the Trump tweet left its point of origin, the Trump team itself was scurrying to impose some semblance of meaning on the word jumble expelled.  In fact, as a Denver Post release noted, the "Trump team offered only slightly more explanation of the comment later in the day when communications director Jason Miller said Trump was 'referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation and the critical need to prevent it'"

Well, if that is what he meant, why didn't he say it, errr.....tweet it? Well, because the medium is so truncated and terse it doesn't allow for such expansion. Ok, let me take that back. One can, of course, do multiple tweets. But given each such blurtation is really a cartoon mini-medium itself  (complete with Trump's cartoon visage attached) there is still the danger the entire message can be misconstrued because it is not given as a coherent whole. That is, as a complete formal statement from what we expect to be grown ups wearing big boy pants, not Pampers.

And given that Russia, according to the same strategic sources, "has 400 more nuclear warheads than the U.S. does", one might assume that Trump - via his tweet - really meant overtaking the Russians.  Or, it could have meant  tearing up the new START Treaty which limits strategic weapons to 1,550 each by February, 2018. At least these would be the possible interpretations IF one could also assume Trump knew that the Russkies had a 400 nuke advantage and also knew what the START Treaty is. But since he doesn't even read his daily briefs, that's unlikely.

Trump's lack of impulse control over his Twitter account also showed itself in other manifestations over the past few days.  The latest incident occurred on Friday when the Obama administration abstained from a United Nations Security Council vote that condemned Israel for Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and allowed the resolution to pass. The alternative would have been to issue a veto to kill it right there.

Now the interesting part: a day earlier, Trump via Twitter had publicly demanded that Obama veto the measure, even intervening with Egypt at the request of Israel to pressure the administration to shelve the effort. Understand here above all else, this is a guy who has absolutely no real power or leverage as yet. He hasn't been sworn in, and as numerous rational observers have pointed out, there can be only one President at a time. It is also somewhat hilarious to witness a character with the temperament of a colicky three year old sending tweets ordering a sitting President to obey him. I mean, are you shitting me?

Trump wrote on Twitter after the vote: "As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20.” 

Maybe, Maybe not. But until that date (and actually beyond it) Trump needs to seal away and dispose of his Twitter account. The reason is very simple and ought to require little explanation: Presidents (as well as President -elects) - if one is going to insist on ""respect" - mandate via optics a certain level of decorum. This simply can't be achieved by tweets, unless one is willing to be viewed as an unreconstructed adolescent. So, like it or not, Trump- if he wishes to be taken seriously by those beyond his cartoon tweet and re-tweet community - will have to put on his big boy pants and put the Twitter away. Better yet, give his phone to Melania for safe keeping.

What has been immensely gratifying  was to finally see the Obama White House basically deliver a nice middle finger salute following Trump's original demand for UN veto tweet. Even if the WH and Trump camp haven't yet broken into open warfare, it was a gesture that warmed the cockles of every true liberal's heart.. Much of the blame of course must be on the twittering twit himself  who continues to demonstrate zero control of his impulses - a worrisome sign for a guy who will soon control the nuclear codes.

Of course, some academic dingbats - like Douglas G. Brinkley, a professor of history and a presidential historian at Rice University in Houston, have totally misinterpreted what's going on. Brinkley has insisted "Trump is neutering the Obama administration". But seriously, you can't "neuter" a sitting President using a device more apropos of horny adolescents eager to meet up with hot chicks. It just doesn't compute or work, unless these electronic burps are taken seriously, which no one in his right mind should - including Brinkley. The only one Trump is really neutering is himself, intellectually and by way of perception, because a serious "neuterer" would use the vehicle of a press conference, not a Twitter account.

Brinkley also hit the wrong note when he was quoted (by the NY Times) as saying:

"They’ve avoided personally attacking each other, but behind the scenes, they’re working to undermine each other, and I don’t know how the American people benefit from that.”

Uh, no, they can't, Brinkley. But for God's sakes put the situation in the proper framework as opposed to a "tail wags the dog" context.   It reminds me of another pretend historian - Robert Dallek - who once blurted about JFK (at least a tweet might be understandable): 'Why do we admire a president who did so little?'   Basically forgetting how Kennedy, by standing up to the Joint Chiefs during the peak of the October, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis - prevented a nuclear exchange that would have left most of the world in ashes.

In this case of Brinkley's misfire, it is Trump working to undermine Obama, by interjecting himself into serious policy issues and matters when he has no standing to do so, none. Being "President -Elect" doesn't count.  So the true matter is that the American people are definitely not benefiting from Trump/s constant impulsive expulsions- especially on nuclear matters. Why this should be so difficult for a historian to grasp is beyond me, but hey- maybe they're no longer required to take logic courses en route to their advanced degrees.

If one isn't distracted by Trump's tweets, as no rational person (especially a historian) should be, then it makes eminent sense for Obama to conduct policy as he sees fit - without having to explain himself to a smarmy ass "backseat driver" with the impulses of a 3-year old. Thus,  on Tuesday Obama's administration  announced a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling along wide areas of the Arctic and the Eastern Seaboard, invoking an obscure provision of a 1953 law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. The administration  was also correct to claim that Trump had no power to reverse it. Technically he doesn't, but don't be surprised if the Trump Brigade and GOP accomplices find a whole raft of ways to overturn existing laws and precedents.

It is sad that a presidential transition has come to this: A petty, infantile narcissist with the emotional IQ of a sullen three year old, dispatching random tweets on a current administration's policy - each one  taken as holy writ by the media and even historians. If this is to be the template for the next four years, we are all in a deep sack of shit and probably can't rely on any public institutions to retain sanity. But never mind, I will expose nonsense, hijinks and inimical agendas, plans whenever I see them.

See also:

Friday, December 23, 2016

Hospitals, Insurers and Actuaries Warn GOP of Economic Calamity By Repealing Obamacare

Health care industry groups and lobbyists -  firm capitalists-  are now warning the Trump Brigade and  GOP to tread very cautiously in terms of trying to repeal Obamacare. This has now seen 6.4 million people signed up before this year's deadline despite the Trump threat to chuck it. But as Chris Hayes' guest put it last night, it would be most unwise to leave some 20 million without health care - then just itching to get revenge at the next election.

Incredibly, many of the Trump voters - namely in Kentucky- never believed Trump's words that he'd dismantle their health insurance, but now they are taking them seriously. What they took to be mere beer talk and rhetoric is now turning out to be too real, as his new HHS pick (Tom Price (R, GA) has vowed to moved expeditiously on tearing the ACA down.

Meanwhile, as recently reported  in The Denver Post ('Health Care Industry Groups Warn of Consequences for Nixing ACA') we are alerted that "hospitals, insurers, actuaries and health networks are telling the incoming Republican administration and Congress that it's not a good idea to repeal the 2010 health care law without clear plans to address the  consequences".

What are they worried about? Well, the sudden dislocation of 20 million people who had finally signed onto insurance plans and were making payments. In other words, a not insignificant part of the economy. While the hysteric Right branded Obama as a "socialist" for creating the plan, it was in reality a takeoff on Mitt Romney's "Romneycare" in MA, as well as an earlier GOP invention from the mid-1990s. While the GOOPrs hate the ACA, Obama's genius was in tying the plan to for profit insurance companies which will not take a slowing of their profits kindly.

Of course, the traditional Left hated the ACA for the very reason that for- profit insurance companies were a major part of it. But hey, maybe Obama was playing 4- dimensional chess all along and we just didn't see it. Didn't see how the inclusion of the insurance industry would make it much more difficult to get rid of by a future demagogue, say like Trump.

To  fix ideas, the Post article notes that "hospitals say a stand alone repeal would cost them billions, compromising their ability to serve local communities".

Not to be outdone, "insurers say congress must be careful not to create even more uncertainty and instability."  while "actuaries worry that the mere promise of an eventual replacement won't be enough to sustain the individual health insurance market"

In other words, the Repukes are playing at unraveling the entire individual health insurance marketplace in their yen to remove Obama's centerpiece legacy.

Meanwhile, "the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network reminded lawmakers that lives are at stake". The network is concerned that "protection for people with pre-existing conditions might be undermined or lost".  This recognizes that before the ACA it was common for insurers to deny coverage to anyone with cancer. Even now, under a supplemental Medicare program, I am not permitted to change to another supplemental once  having been diagnosed with cancer -- and facing further treatment. But unlike those on Obamacare, my  further choice is taken away, not the coverage.

At the same time, while 'pukes insist they are determined to still repeal Obamacare, they are also "mindful of the political risks".   The Post noted:

"The basic plan under GOP consideration involves repealing the health law next year but delaying the effective date to allow congress time to pass a replacement"

But can that work? Not really, not at any practical level. Any such replacement legislation on the same scale would require billions in government financing and extensive regulations - which most repukes hate.

Hate it though they may, their hands may be tied. That's because the two main hospital lobbies - the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals-- have released dovetailing studies that their members will suffer more than $200 billion in potential losses if the health care law is repealed without restoring funding cuts that were used to finance coverage expansion.

In other words, the GOP and Trumpsters are in a real hammerlock. You can't just dismiss $200b in losses to one market sector and not create stock market instability. You can't just take away the coverage of 20 million people and not expect political blowback.

But perhaps the most sobering assessment is from the American Academy of Actuaries. Why so? Because unlike the insurers and hospitals they have no financial stake in the issue. Hence, their position is as close to an objective and independent one that you can get. The organization said that delaying the effective date of a repeal while developing a replacement would trigger a crisis for the individual health care market.  This is where millions who don't have job-based coverage (including many unemployed Trump voters) can buy policies. This includes more than 10 million with current access to

By any reckoning it isn't clear the GOP won't overplay its hand and claim more political capital (based on Trump's electoral win) than they actually earned. We are reminded here that Hillary won the actual vote by nearly 2.9 million. By "actual vote" I mean the vote that 99 percent of nations use to determine a leader.  By this standard the GOOPrs don't have any kind of a mandate to do whatever the hell they want. If they do overreach, they are sure to learn the political costs very quickly.

Yep, it will be an interesting new year indeed.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Hard Fact: All Necessary JFK Files HAVE Been Released To Expose Conspiracy

As is standard for the Neoliberal media, much hoopla is being made over the prospective  release of all documents to do with the Kennedy assassination, by October 25, 2017. For example, we are informed, by Josh Sanburn (TIME, 'JFK Assassination Secrets Scheduled for 2017 Release', Dec. 26, ) that "the last remaining documents pertaining to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are being processed, scanned and readied for release".


"For those who believe the clues to who killed JFK are hidden somewhere deep inside the government files, this may be the last chance to find the missing pieces".

Totally missing the point. That is, that  most of the missing pieces have already been found - at least by those willing to dig and not be misdirected by propaganda. Sadly, it is clear most of those who write such articles are guided more by propaganda than the facts of the case. But this may be because like so many others who have arrogantly taken the case on (e.g. Michael Shermer, Tom Hanks, Scott Aaronson, Timothy Naftali et al) they are woefully uninformed and only content to skirt the details - preferring the outside superficialities of the events and aftermath. Which is easy to grasp, because scanning the sundry files takes work, and no one is going to do it for you.

The very emphasis on 'who killed JFK' is ludicrous because the "mechanics" - as we call them, are long since dead and in any case were mere tools for the execution of the plan. In terms of import chasing them down - or trying to - is more a fool's errand, because it is the de facto planners- architects  who bear much more scrutiny and in fact, can more easily be identified. (For example, William Harvey, who authorized the mutation of the original Staff D plan, with JFK the prime target). . But to read pieces like Sanburn's you'd never know that.

The more serious researcher is not distracted by trying to learn'"WHO" fired the kill shot, but rather addressing the key question (leading to a negative conclusion): Who didn't?   And it is clear to anyone who's invested in the physics of the events, including the actual rifle tests, that Lee Oswald didn't fire any lethal head shot.   The actual rifle - if indeed legit at all - was so fragile it couldn't be permitted to come in contact with serious handling, or likely even testing the bolt action. If it couldn't then it also meant it couldn't be used to perform any replicative tests.  To learn more, go to:

Beyond the fact the actual rifle was useless, one encounters the fact that the Warrenites had to alter the shot trajectory from the rear in order to make their fiction work. Most of this alteration was thanks to WC member Gerald Ford (the guy who also couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time). We have the actual 'smoking gun' for Ford's alterations in files released less than 20 years ago, e.g.

The report of the change also appeared in the NY Times:

To understand exactly why Ford had to go to this trouble, study this original WC diagram for the wound placements and subsequent alteration:

As noted before, moving the wound to the back of the neck as opposed to it being parallel to the third thoracic vertebra e.g. of the back, the WC believed it could get  people - many otherwise intelligent - to buy into the single bullet baloney  and dismiss the original improbable track.

The upper inclined blue arrow shows the trajectory of the bullet that the Warren Commission first believed would be needed in order to account for BOTH the JFK back wound AND the neck wound - then entering Connally to make his wounds.

The problem was that with the upward angle trajectory the shooter would've had to have been firing literally  from street level,   which would have eliminated a TSBD shooter (alleged to be Oswald). At this juncture, Gerald Ford realized for the SBT to work the Commission's drawing had to reset the placement higher - changing it to the light yellow trajectory through the base of the neck, and a downward angle..

The initial draft of the report(conforming to the blue upward trajectory)  had  stated:

"A bullet had entered his back at a point slightly above the shoulder to the right of the spine." 

Ford altered it to read:

"A bullet had entered the back of his neck slightly to the right of the spine."

Clearly, Ford wanted the document to conform with the single bullet myth  (requiring now the yellow shot arrow) and would stoop to altering a document on record to attain the goal.  The problem for Ford and the Warrenites is one of basic anatomy. The original autopsy sheet, including the placement and description of the back wound, was signed and verified by Admiral George Gregory Burkley, personal physician to the president who directed the autopsy at Bethesda. He verified the back wound placement on November 24th .

That death certificate revealed the back wound to be, in the Admiral's own words, at the president's "third thoracic vertebra.”  The neck has seven CERVICAL vertebrae, and this observed and verified wound was described as three THORACIC vertebrae lower than the neck itself.

The final report then read: "A bullet had entered the base of the back of his neck slightly to the right of his spine." Ford insisted this was “a small change, …intended to clarify meaning, not alter history”. But alter history is exactly what it did! For by altering the original autopsy report, Ford and his cohorts succeeded in conferring a measure of validity on Specter’s single bullet theory. This is despite the fact that analysis of the resulting trajectory doesn’t even conform to basic laws of Newtonian dynamics!

All of this was "out there" with the existing files that anyone with even a basic math or science education could have learned (even the Aussie WC groupie Timmy Brennan), so one could say the "facts were hiding in plain sight". And most have been for the past 25 years.

To get a further handle on this and the physics that eliminates Oswald as the assassin, note the diagram below:

The noticeable backward motion of JFK's head in the Zapruder film is attributed to the reaction of a forward spray outwards - in what has been called the 'jet effect". (Similar to the well known rocket effect, where fuel leaves the exhaust under pressure and the rocket moves in the opposite direction).

The problem, of course, is that this doesn't comport with Jackie's motion backwards over the limo trunk, i.e. in the rear direction- as shown in the lower left graphic.

Her motion attests to the fact (from Newtonian mechanics, transfer of linear momentum) that the kill shot was fired from the front, in order to hurl a piece of skull (occipital bone fragment later recovered) to the rear. Jackie's own secret testimony affirmed she was attempting to retrieve a piece of Jack's skull.  Further substantiating this is Bethesda Naval Hospital lab tech Paul O'Connor's sketch of JFK's head at the autopsy, e.g.

The massive rear cavitation end path shows just how much of the skull had to be reconstructed using mortician's plaster to give the illusion of an intact back of head.  Floyd Riebe, the medical photographic technician who took photographs of the body at Bethesda, also noted the President had a "big gaping hole in the back of the head" .

He further indicated it displayed more damage than could possibly be done by a military jacketed bullet. The bullet was more likely the explosive or frangible type.  Parkland surgeon Charles Crenshaw also validated the rear of the head being blown out and readers interested can obtain his excellent book, 'JFK - Conspiracy of Silence' .  This link to a .pdf version of Dr. Crenshaw's superb book can be found below:

Dr. Crenshaw later was shown (and related this in his book, page 10) one of the Warren autopsy photos and asked by Gary Shaw of the Sixth Floor Museum whether it matched what he observed when attending to JFK.  Dr. Crenshaw was incredulous, immediately spotting the fake and ascertaining  that the head had been "manipulated", clearly showing a conspiracy at work.  Below is shown the fake at left, and actual autopsy photo at right. Again, note the rear massive damage discloses the kill shot came from the front, not the rear and the Texas Book Depository where Oswald was claimed to be.

Any actual rear head wound would have been obliterated by the frontal shot's cavitation path backward. In effect, anyone subscribing to such a rear head shot is more than likely misdirected  by the bogus mortician's plaster reconstruction which was used to sell the TSBD shooter location.

Again, ALL of this could have been learned by anyone with the skill and will to do so, without succumbing to media distractions,  Warrenite  groupie naysaying or the rants of known disinformationists, like John McAdams.

The whole point is that taken together these salient physical facts show Oswald could not have been the killer, hence the negative conclusion: Lee Harvey Oswald was not the assassin.

This leads us back to Sanburn's article in which he notes the time for final release of remaining files is October 26, 2017 when we will finally behold "3,000 never before seen documents and 34,000 previously redacted files".  Do I expect to find some "smoking gun"? Nope, because we already have the indirect "gun" in hand, from the material presented above (based on already released files, photos, letters etc.), that Oswald didn't do it!

Despite this, Sanburn plays the role of media dupe, writing:

"Many of the files trace back to the House Select Committee on Assassinations from the 1970s and promise to be less about second shooters and grassy knolls and more about what the government - particularly the CIA - might have known about assassin Lee Harvey Oswald"

Again, repeating the "Oswald dunnit" canard despite all the evidence presented showing that Sanburn is either too lazy ( dig it up himself)  or too dumb and uneducated to process. As for the HSCA investigation, I already described in detail how it was literally compromised from the start, e.g.

 After Richard Sprague was replaced (he had intended to go full bore) and  after CIA "Information and Privacy Coordinator"  Jim Lawderman wrote ( on July 27, 1977)  the terms of the CIA’s control of Blakey’s investigation. (Mellen, J., ‘Farewell to Justice’, p. 345).  One of the terms cited was (ibid.):

Certain areas relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy should be entirely disregarded based upon our contention they are without merit or corroboration
Of course, those "areas" included additional shooters and shots from the grassy knoll. As I noted in the previous link:

"The HSCA’s own acoustic tests showed it (kill shot) originated on the grassy knoll (also corroborated by the Parkland surgeon’s own testimony and the actual autopsy photos.)  Thus, the weird attempt of the HSCA to "square the circle" - finding for conspiracy while retaining the original Warren Commission location for the head shot's origin"

I believe then, as I do now, the HSCA contorted itself in order to try to satisfy Lawderman's  demands. And yet, incredibly, despite all that - the final HSCA conclusion was for a conspiracy (96 % probability)   As to what the CIA knew about Oswald or how they used him, we already have ample evidence of their framing thanks to the diligent work of Peter Dale Scott. We thereby learned the extent to which Mexico City station chief David Atlee Phillips employed  fake cables to paint Oswald as the guy in the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City. See e.g.


This despite the fact he was nowhere around and besides,  the image (right) taken by the CIA was not of Oswald at all, e.g.

Thus, Sanburn's claim that the CIA station in Mexico City is where "Oswald showed up weeks before Kennedy's death" is pure hogwash. A myth.  Oswald never went to Mexico City, period, and this is one of the litmus tests to distinguish a serious JFK researcher from a pretender.  The photo at right above, taken by actual cameras mounted outside the Mexico City station (and appearing originally in John Newman's 'Oswald and the CIA') show incontrovertibly that the person who showed up was an impostor. A heavy set guy bearing no resemblance to Lee.

But what I would like to finally see are all the CIA files associated with  key spook George Joannides. He was a second  key link to the framing of Lee Oswald in conjunction with Atlee Phillips. (But as I already noted,  the absence of  the Joannides' files doesn't mean the CIA didn't frame Oswald. It merely means we don't have the full picture of Joannides' additional role in doing so via the Cuban Student Directorate, or DRE..)

In mid-1963, one of the main responsibilities of Joannides was the handling of the DRE (Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil ) whose members were all at forefront of the fight to eliminate Fidel Castro. A once-secret memo with portion noting the use of the DRE originally came under control and oversight of Gen. Edward Lansdale and described how the DRE operatives were to be deployed in Miami and New Orleans. (Not long after, Oswald was filmed on Canal Street in New Orleans in an altercation with Bringuier.)

Here’s what we do know: According to declassified CIA records corroborated by interviews, Joannides served as chief of the CIA's anti-Castro psychological warfare operation in Miami in 1963. The operation was run out of the largest CIA station outside of Langley, called JM/WAVE. More than 300 CIA agents directed over 3,000 Cuban agents and subagents, out of a front corporation called 'Zenith Technical Enterprises, Inc.' near (the then)  Crandon Park.  (My family used to often visit Crandon Park, especially its popular zoo.)   More than 50 other dummy fronts and organizations were also used for the employment of the anti-Castro (exile) Cubans, such as Carlos Bringuier.

Bringuier himself was also likely a member of the DRE, given it was one of the biggest and most active CIA-backed groups in Miami. In mid-1963, one of the main responsibilities of Joannides was the handling of the DRE whose members were all at forefront of the fight to eliminate Fidel Castro, first via Operation Mongoose, later through the CIA’s own covert assassination program, ZR Rifle.  But their use in mid -1963 was to assist in painting Oswald as a fellow-traveler and communist sympathizer. In fact, the evidence from Oswald's CIA files suggests he was trying to infiltrate the group.

According to a CIA memo found at the JFK Library, Joannides was giving $25,000 a month (about $147,000 in today's dollars) to the DRE at the time when the group's New Orleans delegation decided to collect intelligence on and publish propaganda about Oswald.

The bottom line is that most of the salient information and key files have already been released and have been sitting under people's noses for two decades or more. The fact is additional files, with the exception of the Joannides CIA ones, will add very little to our insights.  This is something to keep in mind as more and more media mouthpieces start exaggerating the importance of remaining files as we near the release date.

What amazed me the most in Sanburn's piece is a quote he attributed to long time researcher Jefferson Morley:

"Sometimes I think we are going to win. Sometimes I think it's a fool's errand. But we're going to find out."

In fact, we've already won, but most - like Morley  - fail to see it, for one reason or other. Maybe they are looking for an actual signed letter (accompanied by group photo) of all the assassins.  As I showed in this post, the available material ALREADY exculpates Lee Oswald as the assassin of JFK. "Winning" then, means refusing to be a player in the endless disinfo games set up by the WC hacks and their associates - whether in the corporate media, Google groups, or other venues.

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