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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Jack's Africa: Obama Visits Robben Island During South Africa Tri...

Jack's Africa: Obama Visits Robben Island During South Africa Tri...: Obama Visits Robben Island During South Africa Trip

Jack's Africa: President Obama Signs A Book For Nelson Mandela

Jack's Africa: President Obama Signs A Book For Nelson Mandela: I saw a beautiful picture this morning. It was a photo of President Obama sitting in Nelson Mandela's private office at the Nelson Mand...

Obama To Announce New Power Initiative For Africa

Obama To Announce New Power Initiative For Africa

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Novel "The Story Teller"-A GREAT READ!!!!

I am reading an incredible novel now called The Story Teller. It is set in a small town in New Hampshire today. A Jewish woman working at a bakery befriends a German man over 90 years old. He seems to be kindly. He is a popular man in the small town. As she gets to know the man better, he confesses who he really is. He admits that he was a former SS officer ho was involved in the killing of many Jewish people during the Holocaust. We come face to face with a monster and our definitions of evil. The book is so good that I cannot put it down. This is a great read for everyone.

Jack's Africa: Obamas To Meet Mandela Family, Not Visit Hospital

Jack's Africa: Obamas To Meet Mandela Family, Not Visit Hospital: Obamas To Meet Mandela Family, Not Visit Hospital

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Wonderful Lady Leaves Us Much Too Soon

Elena and I both pay close attention to the obituary section of the newspapers. It is not morbid fascination. Rather it is the fact that many of the people listed in this section had truly fascinating lives. Some lived very long lives and some were taken from us much too soon. Yesterday I read about the sad death of Dolores Ann Johnson-Street. I estimate that she was 58 years old at the time of her death. Dolores graduated from Oceans High School in 1973. She was class valedictorian. She then went to C Berkeley and graduated. She spent twenty years as an officer in the US Air Force. She married only once. She had two wonderful sons who both graduated from the US Air Force Academy and are now training to be pilots in the U.S. Air Force. Delores was one of those wonderful people who do everything right in life. Sadly she was diagnosed with leukemia. While she was under going chemotherapy, she died of a stroke. Life can be taken from us at any time. We should treasure each day we have on earth.

Our Dear Friend Chris Ranken Get Appointed Chairman Of The San Mateo County Planning Commission

I was reading the Pacifica Tribune. I was surprised to see a dear friend's picture and a big article right on the front page. Usually such articles are bad news. This article was wonderful news. Our dear friend of nine years, Chris Ranken, has just been appointed chairman of the San Mateo County Planning Commission. Chris is always a gentleman and a very modest man. I was amazed at all of his accomplishments in life including three master's degrees. Chris congratulations and I'm glad that talent has been recognized and rewarded.

Kimberly McCarthy Executed: Texas Carries Out 500th Execution

Kimberly McCarthy Executed: Texas Carries Out 500th Execution

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Jack's South America: Argentina Falls From Its Throne as King of Beef - ...

Jack's South America: Argentina Falls From Its Throne as King of Beef - ...: Argentina Falls From Its Throne as King of Beef - NYTimes.com

San Jose Lawyer Robs Clients Of Over $260,000!

In 2010 I hired a lawyer named Daniel Halpern to represent me in a bankruptcy matter concerning a rental unit that I owned in San Jose. Things never worked right. He was a nice man and a good friend. But my case was a complex business bankruptcy matter that his fir was not qualified to handled. I had to replace him with a great lawyer named Kathy Moran. Yesterday I was reading the morning newspaper. I got the shock news that Daniel Halpern had been sentenced to 4 years and 4 months in the California State Prison for stealing $860,000 from a divorce client. I also got the shock news that he was collecting court fees from clients, getting fee waivers and pocketing the money. I felt sad for his victims. I felt sad for him. According to the newspaper he had a substance abuse problem. I will bet most of the missing money went to drug dealers.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Before You Retire To A Foreign Country Please Do Careful Research

Ecuador is on a charm offensive right now. They send out videos of happy and content US citizens who have retired to a small city in Ecuador.  We are told that medical care is very cheap and the cost of living is low. The local population is happy with their new gringo neighbors.

Please contrast this with an ordeal that I went through Friday night and Saturday morning. A dear friend of ours moved to Ecuador. She quickly discovered that there was a huge problems with kidnappings in Ecuador. She demanded that I remove all images of she and her children from You Tube and blogs. I calmly pointed out to her that anti-kidnapping experts never advice the clients they are hired to protect to remove all images from the web. I gave her a detailed report from Startfor on how to defend yourself against kidnapping. After all of this she kept hysterically demanding that I remove all of her images from the web. It took me some hours but I complied with her request.

I then did a lot of research on Ecuador and the results were not nice. In recent years eleven US citizens have vanished on the border between Colombia and Ecuador. At the same time there have been some 573 reported "Express Kidnappings" in the country.(I suspect that many more such kidnappings were never reported to the authorities) In this scenario one is kidnapped and forced to go to banks and draw all of the money out of their accounts. After all money is collected, the kidnap victim is generally released unharmed. I read reports of retirees being cheated by local lawyers and real estate agents when they went to buy a home or an apartment in that country.

The moral of this story is that it is vital to do some very serious and involved research before you seriously consider retiring to a foreign country. Google is a good place to start. Also carefully read US Embassy reports on any country that you are seriously considering for retirement.

World has 10 years of shale oil, reports US - FT.com

World has 10 years of shale oil, reports US - FT.com

OS X Mavericks Unveiled At Apple's WWDC

OS X Mavericks Unveiled At Apple's WWDC

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Cash Home Sales, Flipping, Offer More Signs of Housing Bubble; Housing Insanity Stage 2

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Cash Home Sales, Flipping, Offer More Signs of Housing Bubble; Housing Insanity Stage 2

Chapala Mexican Restaurant Is No More

Yesterday I made the sad discovery that a part of my life for the last 14 years is gone for good.

Yesterday afternoon I took a nostalgia drive. I drove by the building at 1155 Terr Nova Boulevard in Mountain View, California. In 1999 I began my 8 year career at Telewave, Inc. there. When I looked into the area where my office once was I got especially sad.

I then drove down Shoreline Boulevard to a strip mall near the office. At least once a week I would go to eat lunch at Chapala Mexican Restaurant. It was inexpensive and the food was decent. The staff was really friendly and nice. I would order the number six plate and a diet coke.

I made the sad discovery that Chapala Mexican Restaurant no longer exists. It was bought out by another restaurant company. It is now a Dickey's Bar B Que.

A part of my life is gone forever.

Here is some information on Chapala Mexican Restaurant as follows:

Chapala Mexican Restaurant

570 N Shoreline BlvdSte FMountain ViewCA 94043-3106
650-965-8019
Menu
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Ranked #79 of 216 restaurants in Mountain View
Price range: $20 - $25
Cuisines: Mexican
Most recent review
- Sep 9, 2012
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7 reviews from our community

85% Recommend
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Mountain View, California
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
 14 restaurant reviews
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 starsReviewed September 9, 2012
The food is excellent - salads are fresh, soup is made from scratch. They are very accommodating if you have questions about the menu, or want something a little different from the menu. It's family owned. The prices are very reasonable. This restaurant is on the west side of 101, close to Shoreline Amphitheatre and is a great place to...More 
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A TripAdvisor reviewer on Facebook
4 of 5 starsReviewed August 6, 2008
Good food. Nice waitstaff too.
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A TripAdvisor reviewer on Facebook
4 of 5 starsReviewed August 6, 2008
Decent food.
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A TripAdvisor reviewer on Facebook
5 of 5 starsReviewed July 30, 2008
AWESOMELY fresh! The sushi here has gotten better and better over the years; don't let the strip mall fool you!
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A TripAdvisor reviewer on Facebook
3 of 5 starsReviewed June 16, 2008
Good food. Decent service.
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A TripAdvisor reviewer on Facebook
5 of 5 starsReviewed June 3, 2008
BEST sushi in Mountain View, hands down! We could practically live of the stuff))
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A TripAdvisor reviewer on Facebook
5 of 5 starsReviewed January 28, 2008
Amazing food
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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Revealed: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Americans daily | World news | The Guardian

Revealed: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Americans daily | World news | The Guardian

We Lost Robert Kennedy 45 Years Ago Today

My dear friends in September of 1996, I got thrown out of a room that I was renting. My wages were so low that I could not afford rent. I had to go and sleep on the streets for two nights. I found myself in a park in downtown San Jose. What caught my attention was a statue of Robert F. Kennedy. I slept next to the statue for two nights. It gave me great comfort in those awful and cold moments.

A Great Man Remembers D-Day

Geopolitical Journey: Thoughts on Omaha Beach

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Stratfor
By George Friedman
I have always dreamed of standing on Omaha Beach on a rainy and cold morning at low tide, standing by the edge of the water and looking inward. Until recently, I never had. No matter how many times I had visited Francebefore, I always needed to be somewhere else, or was too busy to really imagine. I could never devote my mind to the water and the beach and the memories that, for me, were history but for those who took part in the D-Day landing were the pivot of their lives. Imagining a battle long gone is an act of will and imperfect in the best of circumstances, in spite of the fact that I have read voraciously on this battle. It is an act of will to force yourself to believe, to know, that something extraordinary happened here. The morning I visited Omaha Beach, a man was racing a horse drawing a sulky up and down on the sand, as if to challenge my intentions. 
The invasion took place at dawn on June 6, 1944. A North Atlantic storm had hammered the beaches the day before June 6 and would resume a few days later. On the day the forces came ashore, there was a break in the wind and rain. But it was still cold, wet and terrifying. The invasion took place at low tide. The Germans had placed obstacles that, at high tide, would be submerged and tear out the bottoms of landing craft. They were revealed at low tide. But that meant that the men who landed would have go across a vast, flat expanse of sand to a sea wall that is no longer there. I tried to imagine what it was like to force yourself to walk across the beach with heavy packs and machine gun fire raking the beach. I think I would have frozen. Death was random that morning, and no amount of skill or courage would prevent it. A man placed his soul in the hands of his God and moved forward. On a peaceful day when the only movement was a horse, sulky and rider, it still took me about five minutes to go from the water's edge to the place where the sea wall had been in June 1944. I tried to feel what the soldiers must have felt. In some battles, there is a degree of wit and skill that gives you the illusion that you might have control over your fate. There could be no such illusion at Omaha Beach. Some lived, some died, and virtue had little to do with it.

The Significance of Omaha Beach

I focus on Omaha Beach not because the British at beaches codenamed Sword and Gold, the Canadians at Juno or the Americans at Utah were less brave than the men at Omaha, but because the defeat of Nazi Germany was sealed that day on Omaha Beach. The plan of the invasion was to land the British and Canadian forces to the east, as far as the town of Ouistreham. The Americans landed at Utah, at the base of the Cotentin Peninsula, and at Omaha. It was a 50-mile front. There was no chance of creating a continuous front that day, but the expectation was that the landing forces on the five beaches, plus the airborne troops behind enemy lines, would link up and create a foothold that could withstand German counterattacks.
An enormous number of things went wrong that day. Landing craft could not make it into the beach, and men drowned when they left the craft under fire and could not swim with their equipment. The landing craft came in at the wrong place. The naval gunfire and air forces could not destroy the German positions. The airborne assault was chaotic as troops were scattered all over the region. The amphibious tanks had trouble being amphibious.
I reflect that had the modern media been there, they would have declared the landing a failure and demanded that Eisenhower be investigated. Even after the landings proved a success, I can imagine op-ed pieces and television commentators, as well as senators and congressmen, asking how Eisenhower could not know that naval gunfire could not clear the defenses. All the planning in the world is of little value when chance, the enemy and miscalculation intervene. Those who have not fought wars demand precision from commanders that they themselves are incapable of in their own, much simpler lives. One hundred and sixty thousand troops landed within 24 hours on a 50-mile front. That it was chaos was inevitable. That it achieved the mission changed history.
It was not clear that Omaha could be held. The German troops deemed inferior by Allied intelligence fought with courage and tenacity. I loathe Nazi Germany with a personal hatred. I am at a loss as to how to evaluate a man who fights with gallantry for a cause I loathe. I am not speaking of the cause, but of the man. At Omaha they fought so well that it seemed that most of the men crossing the vast beach would die and those who made it to the sea wall would lose the spirit for the next step.
If the Omaha Beach invasion had failed, a gap would have been left between the British and Canadians to the east and Utah on the peninsula. Bernard Law Montgomery, commanding the British troops, had said he would take Caen the first day. He failed to do so. That meant that there was no anchor for the British position, and that German armor could have contained and reduced them, attacking them from Omaha Beach and all other directions. The artificial harbors -- the Mulberries, as they were codenamed -- were supposed to be at the town of Arromanches and at Omaha. Without Omaha, there would have been only one Mulberry for landing the follow-on equipment and supplies.
If Omaha had failed, I think Eisenhower would have had to withdraw. If that had happened -- and perhaps he could have drawn some solution from the looming defeat -- then the invasion would have failed and no other invasion would have been possible until nearly a year later. A landing could not take place in autumn or winter. That meant the Soviets would have faced the Germans, now secure in the west, for another year. They had already lost perhaps 20 million and no matter how great their rage, they would be facing perhaps years of slaughter. The farther west they went, the shorter the German line, as the European Peninsula narrows. The Soviet Union could have been forced to make a separate peace as Lenin had in March 1918. How much more could the Soviets take, regardless of the blood debt they owed Germany, is a question worth asking -- the concentration of still-capable German forces on a shorter and shorter front might have proved unbearable. It is one thing to ask for sacrifice with an end in sight. But how much can you ask from your people when all there is for them is war and death, and there is no end?
It is not unthinkable, then, that the Nazi regime might have survived should the Normandy landings have failed. Germany's domination of the European Peninsula might have continued. These are not far-fetched thoughts. If Germany's domination had continued I certainly would not be here. The Hungarian Jews, including my family, were being rounded up and sent to camps that June. My mother was taken away with four sisters. Two were alive when liberated in April 1945. My mother would not have survived another year. 
My own existence is a trivial matter except to my children and me. But multiply it by millions -- not only of Jews, but of all those under German domination -- and the landing on the Calvados coast of Normandy was as desperate for those who waited as for those who landed. It was on Omaha Beach that the battle turned, and with it, history. 
It was not the generals and staff members who turned the tide on Omaha. It was captains and sergeants who made the difference. Part of it was that they had nothing to lose. If they stayed there, they would die. But it takes enormous courage not to be paralyzed anyway. It was training, but you cannot train a man whose soul rebels to do his duty. Yes, they are your buddies, but there are many armies in which all of the buddies decide they've had enough. There was something else -- a primordial belief, either pride or a love for their own, if not as complex as patriotism -- that caused them to go on. There were other armies in World War II in which the men didn't. At Omaha, the men fought and won. This is a key puzzle that historians will not be able to answer -- why they fought as they died. Why they redeemed Europe from itself.

The Ambiguity of Power

This was considered the good war. The U.S. forces were welcomed as liberators, their sacrifice is honored on French soil in a cemetery on top of the bluffs that reminds us of what we lost. French children tour the cemetery in hushed tones. It is a sacred place and a place that binds us together. There has not been another war as clean and proper since then, and I think there will not be one again. Power, as I have said, leads to ambiguity. This was true in World War II as well. The Soviets believed the United States and Britain deliberately refused to invade before 1944 because they wanted Soviet blood to break the Wehrmacht first. They have never really forgiven us for that. The Americans say that we were simply not ready to go until 1944. It is an interesting argument. It is the beginning of the ambiguity of power. Roosevelt clearly preferred Soviet deaths to American. He was the American president, after all, and the United States wasn't ready. But what constitutes readiness -- when we can do it with the least cost, or when it is most needed?
The Americans emerged from the war with enormous power. The use of power is never clear-cut, and it wasn't clear-cut in World War II. During D-Day, news from the battlefield was censored, and censors read and edited letters home. The goal was to keep secret things secret. But of course, it was never clear what needed to be secret and what was convenient as a secret, and the ambiguity started there and haunts us today. The greatest secret of the war had to be protected. The British had penetrated the German code (and the Americans the Japanese code). This was the most valuable thing -- that we had the ability to read the enemy's thoughts. Out of these things -- censorship, eavesdropping and code breaking -- emerged the mature National Security Agency and what is called the national security state. Some overstate its significance. They claim that it is suppressing free speech and creating a totalitarian state. Perhaps, but then those who have made this charge must explain how they are able to make this charge. Surely a totalitarian state would not let them reveal the truth.
All of this is for another day, but it was born in World War II and came to bear in a very wide beach on a cold and wet day in June 1944. It is not about the evil or goodness of men, but a discussion about the nature and logic of power. Who knows what the results of an uncensored war would have been as the massive mistakes became evident? What would have happened if the Germans had discovered that their codes were broken? Where would millions be if the Allies had not been ruthless in enforcing a lie, that Patton would invade at the Pas de Calais? Truth is the first casualty of war, as they say. But when is a powerful nation not at war or near it? As I said, these are thoughts that arise on Omaha, but they are not thoughts for Omaha. Some things must be left as the trophies the Greeks erected after a victory -- simple and unambiguous.
I was able to go there and vicariously contemplate what I doubt I would have had the courage to do -- cross that beach under fire, and then return to the attack at the sea wall. I marvel at the men who did. I will not say with certainty that they saved Western civilization from moral monsters, but if there were ever men on whom history turned, then it was the men of the 1st and 29th Divisions, and the men of the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions who assaulted Point du Hoc.
I stood on Point du Hoc, a cliff at the western end of Omaha Beach, and it captured the complexity of the battle. The men of the Second Rangers climbed ropes and ladders to the top of the cliff to destroy German guns. The guns weren't there. Intelligence had failed. I can only imagine their rage, but I am in awe of what they did next. They moved inland to find other guns to destroy, and spent days surrounded by Germans, fighting them off, until they linked up with the troops from Omaha. 
Point du Hoc was an intelligence failure that cost lives, but was redeemed by the will and courage of the Rangers. When we think of the inevitability of geopolitics, the power of American industry against a declining Germany, the superb command and control of the Americans that had planned every bit of Omaha, it is at Point du Hoc where this all becomes ambiguous. The planning was wrong. It was a handful of men who turned defeat into victory. Was it Greek geography or King Leonidas' 300 who made history? I come away from Omaha thinking that life is far more complex than a theory.


Read more: Geopolitical Journey: Thoughts on Omaha Beach | Stratfor 

Jack's South America: Miguel Torello in a cemetary in Recoletta, Buenos ...

Jack's South America: Miguel Torello in a cemetary in Recoletta, Buenos ...: Miguel Torello in a cemetary in Recoletta, Buenos Aires | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Joao Santos Has A Special Day!

Joao Santos is 44 years old today. He's an amazing man. He started life in one of Brasil's awful slums that are locally known as favelas. He used to go to the airport in Goiania and watch the planes taking off and landing. He dreamed of being able to fly away and see the world. His dreams came true. He first went to Sao Paulo and learned English. He caught the attention of some American missionaries. They recognized his talent and good character. He soon found himself in San Jose, California studying at San Jose City College. He married his sweetheart Djenane. They began their life in Silicon Valley. Joao got his BA degree at Golden Gate University. Djenane earned her BA at San Jose State University. Joao went on to get an MBA at San Jose State University. He and Djenane moved back to Goiania, Brasil. They bought an apartment and started their life in their hometown. Later a beautiful child named Bianca came into their lives. Joao you have come a long way and overcome a lot of obstacles. This is your special day!! Please enjoy it and be proud of yourself for what you have accomplished in life.

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Sweden Housing Crash Coming Up; Average Swede to Repay Mortgage in 140 Years; Swedish Central Bank Ponders New Rules

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Sweden Housing Crash Coming Up; Average Swede to Repay Mortgage in 140 Years; Swedish Central Bank Ponders New Rules