Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fast and Furious Tied to Paris Massacre?

One of the Paris terrorist's guns has been traced back to a gun shop in Phoenix. Suspicious actions by DOJ and ATF make it seem like they have something to hide. Could it be a "Fast and Furious" gun that walked overseas? More good work from Judicial Watch.

More Bodies From Eric Holder? Phoenix Gun Tied To Paris Terror Attacks
Judicial Watch has confirmed that one of the AK-pattern rifles used in the November 2015 Islamic terror attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded 368 came from Phoenix, home of Eric Holder’s weapon smuggling plot known as Operation Fast and Furious.
One of the guns used in the November 13, 2015 Paris terrorist attacks came from Phoenix, Arizona where the Obama administration allowed criminals to buy thousands of weapons illegally in a deadly and futile “gun-walking” operation known as “Fast and Furious.”
A Report of Investigation (ROI) filed by a case agent in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) tracked the gun used in the Paris attacks to a Phoenix gun owner who sold it illegally, “off book,” Judicial Watch’s law enforcement sources confirm. Federal agents tracing the firearm also found the Phoenix gun owner to be in possession of an unregistered fully automatic weapon, according to law enforcement officials with firsthand knowledge of the investigation.
The investigative follow up of the Paris weapon consisted of tracking a paper trail using a 4473 form, which documents a gun’s ownership history by, among other things, using serial numbers. The Phoenix gun owner that the weapon was traced back to was found to have at least two federal firearms violations—for selling one weapon illegally and possessing an unregistered automatic—but no enforcement or prosecutorial action was taken against the individual. Instead, ATF leaders went out of their way to keep the information under the radar and ensure that the gun owner’s identity was “kept quiet,” according to law enforcement sources involved with the case. “Agents were told, in the process of taking the fully auto, not to anger the seller to prevent him from going public,” a veteran law enforcement official told Judicial Watch.
Reading between the lines, it would be reasonable to conclude that the most likely reason that the ATF would cover up federal gun felonies was that the individual involved had damaging information regarding Operation Fast and Furious, a gun smuggling plot of the Obama administration that attempted to inflate the number of American firearms recovered in Mexican drug cartel shootouts in order to build a case for banning the sale of semi-automatic rifles, certain semi-automatic pistols, and .50 BMG rifles in the United States.
One would hope that the ATF and DOJ would own up to a mistake like that, but that would be a complete overestimation of the honesty of bureaucrats.

Poplar Island Rebuild Project Progresses

The nation’s first island reclamation project using dredged materials — the Paul S. Sarbanes Ecosystem Restoration Project at Poplar Island — is in the middle of its second phase, with at least one more phase approved through 2044.
. . .
Work on the last remaining remnants of Poplar Island, which is located south of Kent Island and and northwest of Tilghman Island, started in 1998. It is an effort to reclaim the island that had shrunk from its 1847-surveyed footprint of 1,140 acres to between 3 and 5 acres due to erosion — wind, waves and currents that slowly reduced the island’s size until it virtually disappeared.
. . .
Since 2001, Poplar Island has been getting dredged material from the Port of Baltimore shipping channel to build habitat on the island. Homeister said more than 30 million cubic yards of dredged material have been placed on Poplar Island to date, but the whole site can manage about 68 million cubic yards.

Poplar Island from the water

The island’s first and second phases comprise two types of habitat — intertidal wetlands on the east side of the island and uplands on the west, where erosion typically has been the worst, Homeister said. Each area has different cells, which are smaller, more manageable areas designated for work.

“We tell people that we’re kind of building the island like an ice cube tray,” Homeister said. “We’re filling up one ice cube at a time going all the way around.”

Cells in the wetland habitat were teeming with wildlife on Tuesday. Thousands of native and migratory birds inhabit and nest on manmade and natural grounds in each wetland cell that are designed specifically to attract a certain kind of bird. Meanwhile, fish have populated the waters in the wetlands, having swam in from the Bay through channels dug out as entryways into the wetlands, which can rise and fall with the natural tide.
 I've fished around Poplar Island a few times in the last couple of years. It still looks a little industrial, with rip rap shorelines, and large docking areas, but it's obvious that the interior of it is covered with marsh vegetation, although stands of trees mark the remains of the old islands. It's a reasonable use for the dredge spoil, although it will be many years before it is anything resembling natural.

After they finish Poplar Island, the plans are to continue on down the Bay to James, and Barren Islands, although I don't expect to see that any time soon.

About the Convenience of that Email Server

Not the biggest day in news out of, but one which may turn out to be a turning point. In her deposition to Judicial Watch, Huma Abedin Testifies: Hillary's Determination to Use a Subpoena-Proof Invisible Email System Interfered With Her Ability to Do Her Job
Remember, everyone: the official reason Hillary says she set up her own server was for "convenience."
Top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin testified Tuesday that the private email server Clinton chose to use for both personal and government communications may have hindered the former secretary of state's ability to do her job.
Citing an instance in which Clinton missed a call from a foreign minister because aides did not receive her emails on the matter, Abedin testified that the private email arrangement might have interfered with Clinton's ability to carry out her duties.
"So she wasn't able to do her job, do what she needed to do," Abedin said of the incident.
The former deputy chief of staff to Clinton was deposed Tuesday by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch in its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit over Abedin's personnel records....
Although Clinton claimed in March 2015 and many times since to have used private email in order to consolidate her communications on a single device, Abedin confirmed reports that Clinton had used multiple devices to access her emails.
"It was not her practice to do so, but when her system on her BlackBerry went down, there was a period where I know she did use her email on her iPad for maybe a week or two, if I remember correctly," she said.
We always knew the "convenience" excuse was a lie. She had multiple devices anyway. It was always about avoiding FOIA.

THE FBI INVESTIGATION OF HILLARY: IS THE FIX IN? Bill meets privately with Loretta Lynch at an airport in Phoenix, Arizona. What did they talk about?
Lynch said the private meeting on the tarmac did not involve these topics. “Our conversation was a great deal about grandchildren, it was primarily social about our travels and he mentioned golf he played in Phoenix,” said Lynch Tuesday afternoon while speaking at the Phoenix Police Department.
As Ace notes:
Yoga routines, she claims -- she swears they talked "a great deal" about personal stuff, like about grandchildren.
"Our conversation was a great deal about grandchildren, it was primarily social about our travels and he mentioned golf he played in Phoenix," said Lynch Tuesday afternoon while speaking at the Phoenix Police Department.
Note that Hillary claimed the emails she deleted involved her granddaughter.
This seems to be the go-to lie this bunch favors-- "The American Rubes like Families, so we'll claim all our corrupt communications have to do with babies and puppies!!!"
Speaking in Mogadishu, Hillary Calls Confiscating Your Guns a "Civil Rights" Issue Of course it's a civil rights issue. She's the one on the side of taking away civil rights.

From Wombat-socho's "In The Mailbox: 06.29.16"Former Navy SEAL – Hillary Killed My Friends In Benghazi

A great cornucopia at  Larwyn's Linx 6/29/16, Why Hillary Is Stalling Her FBI InterviewThe Crazy People Have Taken Charge of the Democratic PartyIt took me six days to fact-check a Hillary speech--it was that badHillary Clinton’s Callous Response To Official Benghazi ReportTrump is going to winTrump and Clinton issue 2 very different statements on Istanbul terror attacksViolent Hillary Supporters Prepare For Cleveland And The Republican ConventionDems Mistakenly Reveal Absurd Amount of Money Clinton Friend Got For ‘Consulting’GOP Benghazi report charges Obama-Clinton did nothing to save livesBenghazi Report: Obama Skipped Intel Briefing the Day After, Went to Vegas FundraiserHere’s a Damning Part of Benghazi Report That We All Should Be Talking AboutBenghazi report claims military failed to act after terrorist attack beganNew Hacked Emails Said to Show How Hard Clinton Staffers Work to Keep Press AwaySecret Service Agent Said 'Good Morning' To Hillary, Check Out Her Nasty Response and from Larwyn's Linx 6/30/16Gross impropriety: AG Lynch meets secretly with Bill ClintonDems circle wagons of lies around Hillary after Benghazi reportShocker: Clinton Super PAC Took Illegal $200K Donation#NeverTrump prefers a president with a top aide with ties to terrorLoretta Lynch Privately Meets With Bill Clinton Aboard Personal PlaneJudge Expands Investigation into Hillary Clinton’s Dealings with Foundation DonorsThe Clinton Foundation is a 'conspiracy' that Hillary and Bill use as a 'piggy bank'Five Key Takeaways From Huma Abedin’s Deposition Testimony,

Battleground ad spending in June: Team Hillary $26 million, Team Trump 0

More untold horrifying tales of Hillary’s time in the White House More suspicions about Vince Fosters suicide:
Vince Foster even made an appointment with a psychiatrist shortly before he died, but he killed himself before that meeting.

A suicide note was found — but not until six days after he died. And it was suspiciously located in his briefcase, torn to pieces with one piece missing. The briefcase was supposedly searched right after his death and — again presumably — no suicide note was discovered.

The contents of the note were never released and Lisa refused to discuss the matter with an investigator. There were rumors that it wasn’t even a suicide note — that it was just the ramblings of a disgruntled White House insider written well before he took his life.
A bit like the Rose Law firm billing records, which mysteriously reappeared after several years.  

Never Has Business Seemed So Compelling

I didn't understand a word that she said, but I still watched it five times.

Wombat-socho brings the "Rule 5 Sunday: Independence Day Weekend Edition"  to life at The Other McCain.

I'll Settle for $5,000

As I reported a few weeks ago, after ignoring it's increasingly anxious hints, Microsoft updated my computer to Windows 10 one night without my having agreed to it ahead of time. Annoying, but at least I was considering it. But now I hear Woman Sues Microsoft for Windows 10 Upgrade
Do you know how to protect your computer against Microsoft's stealth upgrade process to Windows 10? I'll get to that in greater detail shortly, but one California woman didn't, but her frustration turned into a $10,000 payday:
Teri Goldstein of Sausalito, California, said a few days after Microsoft released Windows 10 publicly in July 2015, the computer at her travel agency business tried to download it without her consent. The update failed and her computer "slowed to a crawl," crashing at times and becoming "unusable for days at a time."
"I had never heard of Windows 10," Goldstein said. "Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to update."
Goldstein attempted to reach Microsoft's customer support department to fix the problem, but that apparently didn't work, so she decided to take Microsoft to court. She sought compensation for lost wages and to cover the cost of a new computer.
As it would happen, Goldstein won the case, earning a $10,000 judgement, after Microsoft decided not to appeal. A Microsoft representative said the company didn't want to take the legal battle any further to "avoid the expense of further litigation," according to The Times.
Microsoft denied any wrongdoing.
Microsoft was so, so wrong -- and that's why they settled the suit so quickly. Personally, I don't have any strong feelings about Windows 10 one way or the other. I switched to Mac ten years ago after Redmond pushed back a WinXP upgrade once again, and Apple finally switched to Intel chips. And I reserve the right to switch platforms yet again (Hello, Linux!) if and when Apple ever loses its way. But I am so, so against anyone taking over my computer for their purposes.
My own experiences with Windows 10. It still boots faster, and settles down quicker than the old Windows 7. I've gotten used to the largely cosmetic changes that it made in the way files are stored. Actually, it would be more accurate to say how it presents how files are stored; they're all still where they used to be but Windows Exploder seems to show them in different ways, possibly more useful ways.  It would also be nice to kill the lock screen on a computer no one else uses, and I miss my butterfly screensaver, both problems I could probably solve with a little research and some guts. But my big complaint so far is a memory problem with a program called runtime broker.
Runtime Broker is a Windows process in Task Manager that helps manage permissions on your PC for apps from Windows Store. It should only use a few megabytes of memory, but in some cases, a faulty app might cause Runtime Broker to use up to a gigabyte of RAM or more.

If your RAM use is high and your PC is running slowly, an app may be the cause of the problem. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open Task Manager and then, on the Processes tab, check to see how much memory Runtime Broker is using. If it’s using more than 15% of your memory, you probably have an issue with an app on your PC. To stop Runtime Broker from using so much memory, select Runtime Broker in the list, select End task to close Runtime Broker, and then restart your computer.
Occasionally, once or twice a week or so, something sets it off, and it sends my drive whirring while slowing down the computer. At some point it usually breaks in and suggests closing runtime broker, but once I locked the computer beyond recovery, and literally had to pull the plug.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Chesapeake Bay Today

A quick report. Pretty awesome weather for July, temperatures in the high 70s with low humidity (after last night's thunderstorms), a modest north wind, and plenty of white, puffy clouds.
Skye found plenty of admirers, which always makes it a good day for her.

"Why did we stop?"

Do you see it?
A Chain Pickerel hanging out at the back of the harbor where I found the Snakehead a while back. A member of the pike family that tolerates a fair amount of salinity, and is widely found in Chesapeake tributaries. I've caught a few over the years, just as incidental catches. I've also seen a few in the harbor before.

The Usual Crowd Still Fighting Fracking in Maryland

The debate over “fracking” has begun anew in Maryland.
State regulators recently announced they were beginning to draft new regulations for extracting natural gas using hydraulic fracturing, which they plan to release this summer. That triggered an outcry, signaling a likely showdown early next year over whether to lift Maryland’s moratorium on the controversial drilling process or impose a permanent ban.

Ben Grumbles, secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, told the crowd at a public meeting Monday night in Baltimore that his staff is “striving for reasonable and balanced approaches” to regulating natural gas extraction. But the overwhelming reaction from the crowd of more than 120 people present at MDE headquarters was not to bother — they don’t believe fracking can be done safely, and they don’t want it in the state, period.
. . .
Grumbles explained that MDE intends to stick largely with drilling rules proposed last year by former Gov. Martin O’Malley. O’Malley had touted his plan, produced after a five-year hold on fracking to study the issue, as the most stringent in the nation and a “gold standard” for ensuring it could be done safely.

But state lawmakers responded by imposing a moratorium on any drilling until October 2017, to give them a chance to review any regulations before they could take effect.

The MDE secretary said his staff is weighing making the previously proposed rules stricter in a couple instances, while easing several others. The goal, as a PowerPoint presentation put it, would be “protection of public health, safety and natural resources and allow for responsible development of the State’s natural gas resources.”
Of course, EPA, no friend of fracking has all but entirely cleared fracking of the most often cited excuse for banning it, pollution of drinking water aquifers. As with any industrial process, there are environmental concerns that need to be addressed with a reasonable look at costs versus effects, but these people aren't interested in the actual environment, only feeling better about about themselves.

Pent Up News from

I can't put it off any longer. After taking Monday off for a dearth of material, and Tuesday off to go fishing, the build up of material is overwhelming. First off, new developments in the email scandal:

More previously unreleased Clinton emails emerge  Shocker: Judicial Watch Unveils Even More Clinton Work-Related Emails Which She, Get This, DeletedThe pattern seems to be that she deleted emails about her illegal email system.
And she's claiming those are "personal."

Indeed. Crime is a personal kind of thing.
. . .
Meanwhile, Citizens United is also accusing the State Department of delaying the release of emails involving "Diane Reynolds," which is actually Chelsea Clinton's nom de cybercrime.
Even Chris Cillizza, a Clinton shitll at the Washington Post:  Hillary Clinton’s email story continues to get harder and harder to believe. I'm sure he'll manage by next week. CBS struggled to bury the story: CBS's Face the Nation Notes Embarrassing News on Clinton Email Investigation
. . . CBS buried the development at the end of its roundtable segment, as host John Dickerson hurriedly raised the issue, referring to it as "not good." Dickerson: "Susan, we have just about 20 seconds left. There was news on the email front with Hillary Clinton. Didn't turn over an email that showed there were problems with her server. That's not good."
Judge Nap: Leaks Could Trigger 'Saturday Night Massacre' in Hillary Email Probe. Well, they should, if the administration blocks the prosecution of this deliberate intelligence risk.
On "Mornings With Maria," Judge Napolitano explained that the email was from top Clinton aide Huma Abedin to the then-secretary of state and her inner circle, saying that they had been hacked and they were temporarily disabling State Department security features to accommodate Clinton’s private server.
JVW at Patterico's is having trouble Keeping Up with Hillary’s Lies.

Yesterday was the day Huma Abedin was supposed to be deposed by Judicial Watch about Hillary's email.  No news from that so far that I've seen, so maybe she took the fifth 125 or so times. Today should be undersecretary for management at the State Department Patrick Kennedy's day in the chair.

In Benghazi news, Democrats claimed victory in that the House Republican's investigating Benghazi found no new evidence of Hillary's criminality in their report. That's a fairly low bar. They did reveal however, that the administrations first response was not to attempt a rescue, but to figure out who to blame for inciting the violence (as we all know, they settled on a US film maker), that the Marine team being prepared for the rescue mission got in and out of uniform 4 times before ultimately ultimately being waved off, that one of Hillary's aides, Cheryl Mills was involved in  selecting staff for the State Dept's Accountability Review Board, and that the reason for the Benghazi consulate and the weak security there was to give Hillary a political accomplishment for the 2016 election.

In their response, apparently as functionally computer illiterate as Hillary, House Democrats mistakenly release transcript confirming big payout to Clinton friend Sidney Blumenthal.
The Democrats on the House Benghazi committee released their final conclusions from the inquiry into attacks on Americans in that Libyan city in 2012, and in the report they say, once again, that the investigation is a politically motivated sham aimed at damaging the reputation of Hillary Clinton.

But the report, which the Democrats published as a preemptive strike before the Republican majority releases findings likely to charge ineptitude and deception by the former secretary of State, also revealed, apparently unintentionally, details about the eye-popping amount of money a close Clinton friend and advisor made in a contract with a pro-Clinton nonprofit.
. . .
But the redaction marks are easily erased by anyone able to use a computer’s cut-and-paste function.
They also named Donald Trump, who had absolutely nothing to do with Benghazi, 23 times. Way to stick to the subject at hand, guys and gals.

Mother of Benghazi victim slams Hillary: ‘I’m not the liar — you are!’ while Benghazi survivor fights radical Islam, counters Obama’s ‘lies’ on terrorist threat,
Former Army Ranger Kris “Tanto” Paronto has started a nonprofit called Leading From the Front, which he hopes will translate into a national movement to drive home the real threat Islamic extremists pose to America.

“Radical Islam is at war with America, and we are slowly losing,” Mr. Paronto said. “From Benghazi to Orlando, we are seeing the deadly consequences of President Obama and Secretary [Hillary] Clinton’s ‘leading from behind’ and their willful blindness towards the threat of radical Islam.”
A double crop from Wombat-socho's "In the Mailbox". From 06.27.16 Ben Shapiro Reminds Hillary What SCOTUS Ruling Really Means, and from 06.28.16Hillary, Obama, And BenghaziBest Spin NYT Can Give Is “No New Evidence Of Wrongdoing By Hillary Clinton”, Benghazi Survivor Lays Out Hillary Lies, Final Benghazi Report Shows White House And Hillary Lied, Our Boys Died – PR Was Priority and Crooked Hillary CC’d Muslim Brotherhood Lie

On the Clinton Corruption Watch, Pro-Hillary super-PAC scored $200K in donations from federal contractor and Clinton Foundation's Accounting Firm Prosecuted by SEC
And that’s not all. BKD, the small accounting firm Bill Clinton selected and kept for years to do his foundation’s books, was also prosecuted by the FDIC, according to Richard Pollock of the Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group.

The SEC and FDIC prosecutions were “for ‘unprofessional conduct’ and ‘gross negligence,’ according to federal court documents. And the Public Company Oversight Accounting Board (PCOAB), the nation’s top federal oversight agency for American accounting firms, reported that BKD violated auditor independence rules over the years, which its inspectors reported as ‘significant deficiencies,’” according to Pollock.

The foundation switched to PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 2013 and restated its tax filings for 2010 through 2014. Pollock quotes Wall Street whistle blower Charles Ortel saying the restatements suggest there was a “a long pattern of gross negligence and willful malfeasance on the part of the trustees” who kept BKD for more than a decade.
In Hillary's Veepstakes, Hillary’s top Veep (Tim Kaine) pick just undermined one of her most compelling arguments for the White House, and Elizabeth Warren just cemented her status as the media favorite for Hillary Clinton’s VP. But that was then, and this is now:  O'Malley confronted with his past criticism of Clinton

Miscellaneous links;

Trump details '50 facts' attacking Clinton. That's all?

Things that make you go Hmmm? Hillary, Huma make ‘surprise’ visit to NYC Gay Pride parade 

Clinton makes bid for Silicon Valley Vote: Clinton wants high-speed Internet in every U.S. home by 2020

Dogs: So Nice We Tamed Them Twice

From Science, where I still have a subscription: Genomic and archaeological evidence suggest a dual origin of domestic dogs


The geographic and temporal origins of dogs remain controversial. We generated genetic sequences from 59 ancient dogs and a complete (28x) genome of a late Neolithic dog (dated to ~4800 calendar years before the present) from Ireland. Our analyses revealed a deep split separating modern East Asian and Western Eurasian dogs. Surprisingly, the date of this divergence (~14,000 to 6400 years ago) occurs commensurate with, or several millennia after, the first appearance of dogs in Europe and East Asia.

Additional analyses of ancient and modern mitochondrial DNA revealed a sharp discontinuity in haplotype frequencies in Europe. Combined, these results suggest that dogs may have been domesticated independently in Eastern and Western Eurasia from distinct wolf populations. East Eurasian dogs were then possibly transported to Europe with people, where they partially replaced European Paleolithic dogs.
The article in the magazine has some interesting graphics showing the geographic distribution of the extent of mixing of the two lines of dogs, and a dendrogram showing where a number of breeds fall on the mixing line.

Linked at the patriotically themed "Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup" and links. Wombat-socho brings the "Rule 5 Sunday: Independence Day Weekend Edition" to life at The Other McCain.

The People are Revolting

I’M SENSING A THEME HERE: President of the EU Parliament Slams Britain For “Violating the Rules:” “It Is Not The EU Philosophy That The Crowd Can Decide Its Fate.”

Meanwhile, back at the Post, “The EU’s biggest threat is the will of its people.”

Good news, citizens of Europe: The Washington Post openly loathes you almost as much as it hates evangelical Christian Americans!


(Newsweek’s infamous “We Are All Socialists Now” headline in early February of 2009 ran when the magazine was still controlled by the Post, before being offloaded for $1.00. The late Sidney Harman definitely overpaid.)
Meanwhile, in Brussels:

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Skynet, Are You In There?

A.I. Downs Expert Human Fighter Pilot in Dogfight Simulation
A pilot A.I. developed by a doctoral graduate from the University of Cincinnati has shown that it can not only beat other A.I.s, but also a professional fighter pilot with decades of experience. In a series of flight combat simulations, the A.I. successfully evaded retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Gene "Geno" Lee, and shot him down every time. In a statement, Lee called it "the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible A.I. I've seen to date."

And "Geno" is no slouch. He's a former Air Force Battle Manager and adversary tactics instructor. He's controlled or flown in thousands of air-to-air intercepts as mission commander or pilot. In short, the guy knows what he's doing. Plus he's been fighting A.I. opponents in flight simulators for decades.

But he says this one is different. "I was surprised at how aware and reactive it was. It seemed to be aware of my intentions and reacting instantly to my changes in flight and my missile deployment. It knew how to defeat the shot I was taking. It moved instantly between defensive and offensive actions as needed."

The A.I., dubbed ALPHA, was developed by Psibernetix, a company founded by University of Cincinnati doctoral graduate Nick Ernest, in collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory. According to the developers, ALPHA was specifically designed for research purposes in simulated air-combat missions.

The secret to ALPHA's superhuman flying skills is a decision-making system called a genetic fuzzy tree, a subtype of fuzzy logic algorithms. The system approaches complex problems much like a human would, says Ernest, breaking the larger task into smaller subtasks, which include high-level tactics, firing, evasion, and defensiveness. By considering only the most relevant variables, it can make complex decisions with extreme speed. As a result, the A.I. can calculate the best maneuvers in a complex, dynamic environment, over 250 times faster than its human opponent can blink.

I'm Back. . .

. . . from fishing. Too tired to wade through Hillary garbage, so I'll put up some pictures from today. It was a warm, humid, mostly overcast day on the water with Walleye Pete and Bob. We started with top water fishing at a familiar structure at daylight; in fact a little before daylight. It was the best fishing of the day, we caught 23 stripers there before the bite died and we went on up north to the Bay Bridge and well beyond.

A new lighthouse for my collection, the Baltimore Harbor light. Nice septic system, huh? Fishing up here was slow. We did get a few at various spots (not this one), and went as far north as I've ever been out of Deale.w
A view of the Francis Scott Key Bridge through the haze:
The Francis Scott Key Bridge, also known as the Outer Harbor Bridge or simply the Key Bridge, is a Steel Arch-Shaped Continuous Through Truss Bridge spanning the Patapsco River in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. The main span of 1,200 feet (366 m) is the third longest span of any continuous truss in the world. It is also the longest bridge in the Baltimore area.
The bridge was opened in March 1977 and is named for the author of the Star Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key. The bridge is the outermost of three toll crossings of Baltimore’s Harbor. Upon completion, the bridge structure and its approaches became the final links in Interstate 695 (the Baltimore Beltway). Despite the I-695 signage, the bridge is officially considered part of Maryland Route 695.

Another interesting structure that held no fish. In the end, we ended up catching a total of 39 fish, for an estimated weight of about 150 lbs. At about $4/lb, it won't be a bad day on the water for Pete, but he did put 100 miles on the boat by the time we beat our way all the way back to Deale against the wind around 3 PM.

Gone Fishin'

But not like this:

See you later.

Wombat-socho brings the "Rule 5 Sunday: Independence Day Weekend Edition" and to life at The Other McCain.

Maryland Striped Bass Poachers Get Life

Lifetime bans on fishing for rockfish in Maryland: Maryland watermen banned for life following rockfish poaching convictions
Two Eastern Shore watermen convicted last year of a large poaching scheme have received lifetime bans from striped bass fishery by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Michael D. Hayden Jr. and William J. Lednum, both of Tilghman Island, pleaded guilty to running an operation between 2007 and 2011 that involved taking tens of thousands of pounds of striped bass, also called rockfish, in illegal, anchored nets off Kent Island in the Chesapeake Bay before the season had officially opened.

The take was so large that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources had to temporarily shut down the fishery.

The men also have been suspended from all commercial fishing activity for the next year, followed by a four-year probationary period. The fish allocated to their permits will be distributed to other fishers.
We've been following this story since the news of the illegal netting first broke, before they knew who had committed it, but now it looks like the story has just about finished. That's a pretty tough sentence, since I suspect that their economic prospects beyond fishing are fairly bleak. It was a remarkably egregious violation, though, and it should serve as an example.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Beach Report 8/27/16

First, a couple of photos from yesterday. While we were walking down to beach, this small float plane came by, and did a touch and go just a few tens of yards off the beach. There was another plane close by, that I think may have been taking photos.
Although it doesn't have enough rod holders, I want one.
Today wouldn't have been a good day for it. The wind was gusting to 20 out of the south when Skye and I arrived. It was hot and sweaty walking down to the beach, but the breeze made it tolerable.
Although you can't see too much chop on the north side of the jetty.
 Skye and I did a little wading to cool off.
 No cooling off here.
 The Osprey was out hunting.
The first of four kayakers trying to beat their way upwind to get back. They gave up and decided to tow their boats backs in the shallows.

The first Wineberries of the season are starting to ripen.

Supes Overturn McDonnell Bribery Conviction

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday unanimously reversed former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's 11 corruption convictions.

The high court vacated the unanimous finding of the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had rejected McDonnell's arguments and upheld the guilty verdicts.

"There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that," Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., wrote in delivering the opinion for the court. "But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns.

"It is instead with the broader legal implications of the governments' boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute. A more limited interpretation of the term 'official act' leaves ample room for prosecuting corruption, while comporting with the text of the statute and the precedent of this court."

Roberts concluded: "The judgment of the Court of Appeals is vacated and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."
I must say I'm shocked that the four liberal justices were convinced. But as Instapundit shouts:  OF COURSE, THE REAL MISSION WAS TO PUT THE STATE IN THE HANDS OF A HILLARY CRONY BEFORE THE 2016 ELECTION, SO OVERALL THE PROSECUTION WAS STILL A SUCCESS.

Does this mean Hillary is off the hook for the boundless collection of bribery and influence peddling under the guise of giving speeches?

An Obamacare Schadenfreude Update

The almost invariably sensible Megan McArdle catches Obamacare Premiums Going Up. Again. Now What?
. . . In health insurance markets, this phenomenon is known as the adverse-selection death spiral. Basically, every time the price of insurance goes up, many of the people in the insurance pool who use the least health care decide that it makes more sense to go without the insurance and bear the risk themselves, and they drop their coverage. That means you’re left with the more expensive patients to cover, which means the average cost goes up, which means prices have to go up … and, well, you get the idea. The price the market eventually finds may be so high that very few people want to buy the insurance.

Now, there are factors weighing against this, most notably the mandate and the subsidies. So far, the mandate seems to have had very little effect on people's propensity to buy insurance. I’ve been careful to say in the past that that might change, because the mandate penalties were phased in over a few years and are only now at full strength. However, next year will pretty much tell us whether the mandate is going to work. If we don’t see a substantial increase in the number of people buying insurance for 2017, then it will be safe to say that the mandate was too weak, and that we are not going to get the hoped-for surge of young, healthy people into the Obamacare exchanges. Which, in turn, will be bad news for prices.
In the past, Megan has doubted the death spiral, but it seems she might be softening her optimism.

And another one bites the dust: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota announces exit from Obamacare exchange

And just as I'm resigning myself to using it: Obama is gutting Medicare. Watch him push grandma off the cliff:
The president’s Medicare reforms make it harder for seniors to get joint replacements. His new payment rules shortchange doctors, discouraging them from accepting Medicare in the first place. New ER rules clobber seniors with bills for “observation care.” Under ObamaCare, hospitals get bonuses for spending less per senior, despite having higher death rates and infection rates.
The House unveils its Obamacare replacement plan—and have you heard about it?. Not if you read the Washington Post, the New York Times or watch the networks. All you hear is how many times they tried to repeal Obamacare. Megan McArdle again: Republicans Have a Shot at Replacing Obamacare
So if the Republicans want to get rid of Obamacare, they have to actually come up with something that can semi-plausibly be presented as a replacement. Over the last few years, they’ve settled on a bunch of pieces that make up the cornerstone of their approach:
  1. Limiting the tax subsidy for employer-sponsored health insurance;
  2. Selling health insurance across state lines;
  3. Tort reform;
  4. Tax-advantaged health savings accounts;
  5. Flat (though age-rated) refundable tax credits for purchasing health insurance;
  6. Allowing insurers more flexibility to charge different prices by age group;
  7. Getting rid of the mandates (individual and employer), community rating, and guaranteed issue, as well as a lot of the regulatory mandates for benefit levels;
  8. Guaranteeing renewal and portability -- which is to say, if you had insurance, and you get sick, you can still buy insurance at normal rates, not rates that are risk-rated for your illness;
  9. High-risk pools for people who didn’t have insurance when they got sick, but now want to buy it;
  10. Block granting Medicaid for states who want it.
These things form the core of the new Republican plan released Wednesday. Though “new” is kind of a strong word; most of this stuff has been around for a while.
. . .
Would the Republican plan work? Define “work.” If this plan passed, could it operate roughly as described? Probably, yes. I would have some worries about adverse selection with the mandate gone -- but given that being able to obtain cheap coverage in the future relies on obtaining it now, not that many worries. Of course, the numbers are not very specific, so we don’t know how much it would cost. . .
Obama Administration Forces California Churches to Pay for Abortions. For Democrats, it "abortion ├╝ber alles."
Churches in California are officially subject to an onerous state regulation that requires them to pay for abortions, thanks to a ruling by the Obama administration.

The troubling situation began in 2014 when the California Department of Managed Health Care reclassified abortion as a “basic health service” under the Affordable Care Act and ordered all insurance plans in the state to begin covering surgical abortions immediately. Even churches are not exempt from funding abortions.

The churches filed a lawsuit against the regulation last October, and it has been moving through the courts.

They also asked the Obama administration to uphold the Weldon Amendment — federal law that protects conscience rights. But, today, the HHS Office of Civil Rights released the results of its investigation into the California abortion mandate, stating it found no violation and is closing its investigation of the complaints without further action.

OCR’s decision is based on a flawed reading of the Weldon amendment. They argue that the Weldon amendment only protects health insurance plans, and not the purchasers of such plans, and state that the insurance companies have not complained.
It's not that I mind abortion, it's that I mind being forced to pay.

East Coast Looks to 'Prius' Tax

A group of East Coast states wants to help overhaul the way America pays for its decaying roads, and it’s starting with Monopoly money.

Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Hampshire are proposing pilots to figure out how they might charge motorists a fee for the miles they travel — rather than taxing their gas, as state and federal officials do today.

The I-95 Corridor Coalition, which represents transportation officials from 16 states and the District of Columbia, applied for a federal grant last month to test the idea.

Officials would stitch together the policies and technologies needed to count the miles driven by 50 recruits from each of the four states, including state legislators, transportation officials or other willing guinea pigs. They would send out “faux invoices” monthly. And they would collect the data that legislatures — and the driving public — would require to decide if the change makes sense.

Although California plans to launch a pilot in July, also with fake invoices, and Oregon has had success with a volunteer program collecting actual cash, the concept is not particularly well known — or well loved across the country.
. . .
“Reliance on the gas tax as a major contributor to funding transportation is no longer a viable option,” Cohan said.

The federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon has not been raised since 1993, and many states have not indexed their own gas taxes to inflation, so those key funding sources have fallen far behind the nation’s needs.
What's missing from the article is the role that high mileage vehicles have played in the declining gas tax revenues. The number of Priuses and other high mileage cars on the roads in our area is amazing. Probably 30% or more.
Privacy remains a key issue, including how the government can track miles traveled without raising fears of snooping on where people are going.

Backers say that they are sensitive to such concerns, particularly after Edward Snowden’s revelations about data collection by the National Security Agency left many spooked about government overreach. At the same time, people readily allow their movements to be charted and their personal details to be broadcast via smartphone apps.
Despite assurance, we all know that the old adage about death and taxes doesn't apply to taxes. Taxes are forever, and if the mileage tax goes into effect, the gas tax won't be taken away (although it might be renamed as an "oil depletion carbon tax" or something like that.

Top Gun Star Get CCW Permit

Top Gun actress Kelly McGillis says she was attacked by a stranger in her North Carolina home last week, so she got a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

McGillis, 58, posted a long message on Facebook on June 17 explaining what happened when she returned to her Hendersonville, N.C., home (after a theological lecture about loving others) to find a light on and her front door unlocked.
Oh oh.
She says she was confronted by a screaming woman who accused her of stalking her and attacked her when she ran outside to call 911. She and the woman fought; the woman grabbed her cellphone and threw it on the ground.

"I got worried that there may be someone else in the house with her. We have quite a few guns and lots of ammo and that's when I started to panic," McGillis wrote. "Thinking that if they have one of them I could be shot. I ran out the front door and called 911."

Local TV reports and People reported the Henderson County sheriff's office arrested and charged a 38-year-old woman, Laurence Marie Dorn, with second-degree burglary, misdemeanor larceny, misdemeanor stalking, assault and battery and interfering with emergency communication. She is being held in the Henderson County Jail under a $60,000 bond. There was no phone listing for her.

McGillis writes that she was left scratched and bruised but is otherwise OK. She says she got a concealed-carry gun permit to protect herself after the incident.

"They rushed me through the conceal and carry course so I am armed and ready," she posted Thursday. "The Henderson County Sheriff's department has been absolutely the greatest. Here's my first target practice. I only missed five from the center out of thirty rounds. All hit the target."
Would they rush a non-celebrity in a similar way? Maybe, in North Carolina.
Later, she also posted a long essay on the reasons, including being the victim of other crimes, that she got a concealed-carry permit despite advice not to.

"For those of you on my feed that are telling me that getting a cc permit is not the best choice for me to make, well let me fill you in on a few things that have lead me to this decision. Which by the way, I have struggled over for a long long time. Not being pro gun fanatic. When I was 12 I was gang raped by three men."

The National Rifle Association cheered her on its Facebook page.

"Not willing to be a victim again, actress Kelly McGillis has decided to exercise her Second Amendment rights, and protect herself by getting a concealed carry permit," it said.
There's nothing like a real confrontation with someone to make you value your own self preservation.

Wombat-socho brings the "Rule 5 Sunday: Independence Day Weekend Edition" to life at The Other McCain.

British Butcher Goes Back To Pounds After Brexit

A law enforced by the EU in 1995 meant that all measuring devices used in trade or retail should display measurements in metric quantities.

But Darren Gratton said that a lot of his customers who voted Brexit wanted their meat sold in the older imperial method of pounds and ounces.

The butcher from Barnstaple, Devon, said: “The next step is to speak to North Devon Council and if they say we can go back to pounds and ounces then we will do.

“All the customers wanted it back in pounds.
Being a scientist, and a person generally satisfied with 10% accuracy, I'm pretty comfortable with either the English or metric  system. And yet, I understand the irritation of the English forced to use an unfamiliar system.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

USGS Lab Closed for Data Fraud

USGS finds data fraud, closes chemistry lab
Alleged misconduct and data manipulation at a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) laboratory may have affected thousands of environmental quality measurements processed between 2008 and 2014, according to the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

As many as 24 research projects, representing some $108 million in funding for the laboratory, may have been impacted, OIG said earlier this month. “At least seven reports have been delayed, and to date, one report has been retracted.”

The misconduct, which was discovered by USGS management in 2014, involves analyses performed using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry by the Inorganic Section of the USGS Energy Geochemistry Laboratory in Lakewood, Colo.

“Some data were manipulated both to correct for calibration failures and to improve results of standard reference materials and unknowns” and raw data were not retained, USGS says.
Having run an ICPMS lab, I understand the temptation well. While ICPMS is insanely sensitive (it literally counts atoms) , it is very susceptible to  matrix effects, and it can be difficult to get the "right" results for standard reference materials using standards from  clean matrices. However, it is always fraudulent to "adjust" the data based on SRM recoveries. You just don't do that.
Although USGS notified affected lab customers, some collaborators, and relevant journals about the misconduct investigation, OIG faulted the agency for taking too long to issue a public notification.

USGS permanently closed the lab on March 1 and issued a public notification on the lab’s website last month ahead of the OIG report. The lab routinely processed samples as a service for USGS scientists and scientists from other organizations.
It's going to be a nightmare to sort out what's good from what's bad. Georgia may know some of the people affected.

Sunday Morning Hillarity at

A bit of a strange assortment.

You don't say: Top IT official: Disabling security for Clinton server laid out 'welcome mat' for hackers
"You're putting not just the Clinton server at risk but the entire Department of State emails at risk," said Bob Gourley, former chief technology officer (CTO) for the DIA. "When you turn off your defensive mechanisms and you're connected to the Internet, you're almost laying out the welcome mat for anyone to intrude and attack and steal your secrets."

He was referring to revelations from new court-released documents in a lawsuit by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch. They show the State Department temporarily turned off security features in 2010 so that emails from then-Secretary of State Clinton's personal server would stop going to the department's spam folders.
But it was OK if it allowed Hillary to use the device of her choice and evade FOIA, right?

Clinton spokesman’s revealing response to missing email. It suggests that Hillary et al deleted emails in her possession between the time the State Dept. first started nosing around about her missing emails and when they issued a formal request.
The obvious question here is why Clinton did not turn over this “key message” in the batch of 30,000 emails she eventually handed over to the State Department. We may have gotten a hint at the answer to that question in the response Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon gave to the AP[emphasis added]:
Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said she provided “all potentially work-related emails” that were still in her possession when she received the 2014 request from the State Department.
“Secretary Clinton had some emails with Huma that Huma did not have, and Huma had some emails with Secretary Clinton that Secretary Clinton did not have,” Fallon said.
First of all, notice that even Brian Fallon isn’t trying to claim this email was personal. This email clearly should have been turned over.

Second, this business about Huma having some emails that Hillary didn’t is utter nonsense. It’s no good to claim now that Huma filled in the missing gaps. The question is why were there gaps to be filled at all? Clinton was required to maintain these records and to turn them over.

The bit I’ve highlighted above seems to offer part of the answer. It’s not a direct quote from Brian Fallon but clearly the AP believes it is conveying the sense of his comments. The suggestion is that Clinton only turned over emails that were “still in her possession” when the request was received from the State Department.

About that request, you may recall that the Clinton camp has offered some shifty explanations about how that happened. For one, she claimed it was a routine bookkeeping request. That wasn’t true and as the Washington Post reported, the request was, ” prompted entirely by the discovery that Clinton had exclusively used a private e-mail system.”

In addition, it turns out State had been negotiating with Clinton’s attorneys over the documents for five months before the formal request was ever sent.
When Clinton or her spokespeople talk, look for the lie. It's always there. Hillary’s server wasn’t the only thing that could be scrubbed with a clothClinton Held Secret Meetings With Billionaire Foundation Donors and Scrubbed Official Records of Them

Crooked Hillary CC'ed Muslim Brotherhood Benghazi Lie
The ‘smoking gun’ email that reveals who instructed Susan Rice to blame the Benghazi attack on a video also exposes a recipient named Mehdi K. Alhassani. Alhassani was the leader of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), a Muslim Brotherhood front group and attended the sister mosque of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC) mosque attended by the Boston Marathon bombers. It is a mystery how Alhassani slipped through the cracks to become a Special Assistant to the Office of the Chief of Staff, National Security Council Staff, and Executive Office of the President. It is unknown why a few hours before the Benghazi attack, Alhassani met in the White House with Samir Mayekar, a George Soros ‘fellow’ for an unscheduled visit.
But, she doesn't always lie: Forced to Correct Embarrassing ‘Clinton Cash’ Error They tried to make it look like Hillary had no power to stop the sale of uranium to Russia:

From recent Hillary convert* Scott Adams' blog: Why Gun Control Can’t Be Solved in the USA
On average, Democrats (that’s my team*) use guns for shooting the innocent. We call that crime.

On average, Republicans use guns for sporting purposes and self-defense.

If you don’t believe me, you can check the statistics on the Internet that don’t exist. At least I couldn’t find any that looked credible.

But we do know that race and poverty are correlated. And we know that poverty and crime are correlated. And we know that race and political affiliation are correlated. Therefore, my team (Clinton) is more likely to use guns to shoot innocent people, whereas the other team (Trump) is more likely to use guns for sporting and defense.
If you define "innocent" as a fellow drug dealer.
That’s a gross generalization. Obviously. Your town might be totally different.

So it seems to me that gun control can’t be solved because Democrats are using guns to kill each other – and want it to stop – whereas Republicans are using guns to defend against Democrats. Psychologically, those are different risk profiles. And you can’t reconcile those interests, except on the margins. For example, both sides might agree that rocket launchers are a step too far. But Democrats are unlikely to talk Republicans out of gun ownership because it comes off as “Put down your gun so I can shoot you.”
And "put down your gun, and listen to your betters" in government.
*I endorsed Clinton for president for my personal safety. I write about Trump’s powers of persuasion and it is not safe to live in California if people think you support Trump in any way. Also, I’m rich, so I don’t want anything to change in this country. The rest of you might have a different risk profile.

A Wild Swedish Girl

Wombat-socho brings the "Rule 5 Sunday: Independence Day Weekend Edition" to life at The Other McCain.

Judge Swats Down Interior Anti-Fracking Regs

An attempt by the Obama administration to impose harsh regulations on fracking operations on public land has been thrown out by a Wyoming court, on the grounds that the Interior Department exceeded the bounds of its Congressional authority.
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday night struck down an Obama administration regulation on the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and gas on public lands, a blow to President Obama’s muscular stand on the extraction of fossil fuels on government lands.
The rule, released by the Interior Department in March of last year and scheduled to take effect this Friday, was designed to increase the safety of fracking. It would have required companies to comply with federal safety standards in the construction of fracking wells, and to disclose the use of some chemicals in the fracking process.
Judge Scott W. Skavdahl of Federal District Court in Wyoming ruled that the Interior Department lacked the authority from Congress to issue the regulation, and also noted that fracking was already subject to other regulations under state and federal law. . .
Naturally the Obama administration plans to appeal. I guess President Obama is still attempting to fulfill his promise to make energy prices skyrocket, regardless of the impact on jobs or the economic well being of ordinary Americans.
Unfortunately, if courts slap down half of all executive power grabs, the power and reach of the Federal government still continues to grow, if at only half the rate the President would prefer.