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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Pacifica's Birthday # 60 Video2

Pacifica's 60-Year Birthday Party Begins

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Leviathan Rises-Sea Monster Still Lurking Deep In The Ocean

Leviathan Rises

While researching ways to minimize unwanted catches in commercial fishing, Portuguese scientists unearthed something sinister: a real-life sea monster dubbed a “living fossil.”
The five-foot prehistoric shark, aptly named the frilled shark due to its set of 300 frilled, razor-sharp teeth, was captured last week by a trawler off the coast of Portugal, the BBC reported.
According to scientists, the shark is one of the few pre-historic creatures to still roam the earth. Its 80-million-year-old lineage has survived by living at ocean depths of 2,300 feet, where the lack of light and crushing pressure make for conditions uninhabitable for most living things.
The creature is presumed to roam the deep of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, where it preys on fish, squid and even other sharks. Any other information about the creature is a mystery to scientists due to its rarity, the Independent reported.
Sailor’s stories of sea serpents from the deep may have been influenced by this shark, which is recognizable by its eel-like body and serpentine movements.
It might not be the only creature in our midst: More than 90 percent of the Earth’s deep waters remain uncharted, possibly hiding other sea monsters, such as the recently discovered toothed snake-eel.
Divers be warned.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

In Memoriam: Jeffrey T. Richelson, 1949-2017 | National Security Archive

In Memoriam: Jeffrey T. Richelson, 1949-2017 | National Security Archive

Humana Moves Doctors TO Value-Based PayAnd Medicare Costs Fall

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2017/11/14/as-humana-moves-doctors-to-value-based-pay-medicare-costs-fall/#6193c60d7596

Interpol: A Tool Of Political Repression

INTERPOL

The Long Arm of the Law

The International Criminal Police Organization, better known as Interpol, extends the long arm of the law around the globe. But a few recent cases have revealed how dictators might use the organization to lengthen their reach, too.
Late last month, Greek police arrested Mirzorahim Kuzov, a Tajik dissident, as he was flying through Athens to attend a conference on human rights in Warsaw. Interpol had issued a so-called “red notice” to detain him at the request of Tajik authorities, Al Jazeera reported.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has accused Kuzov of supporting a 2015 coup and fomenting extremism as a member of a banned Islamic political party.
Kuzov denies the accusations. To escape prison, he has been in hiding outside of Tajikistan for years.
Is Kuzov a criminal? Nobody knows. But one thing is for sure: Rahmon is a tyrant who has built his oppressive regime on a foundation of human rights violations. Serving a warrant in his name is almost certainly not good police work.
The question arises: how should Interpol define a criminal?
The Index of Censorship recently noted that European countries have detained at least six journalists from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkey due to red notices. Those journalists quite possibly ran afoul of their country’s laws. But those laws are also almost certainly unfair, say researchers.
“The use of the Interpol system to target journalists is a serious breach of media freedom,” said Hannah Machlin, project manager for Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom, in a statement. “Interpol’s own constitution bars it from interventions that are political in nature.”
Of course, Interpol gets things right, too.
Recently, for the fifth time, the agency rejected Moscow’s requests to put a red notice on William Browder, a US-born British financier whom Russian authorities have described as a national security threat, the Moscow Times reported.
Banned from Russia in 2005 after amassing a fortune in the country, Browder kicked a hornet’s nest when he raised alarms over the situation of his colleague, Sergei Magnitsky, who perished in Russian police custody in 2009.
Magnitsky was a whistleblower who exposed corruption, and the US imposed sanctions on Russians allegedly linked to his death. Russia retaliated by halting American adoptions of Russian children.
Most recently, however, Moscow tried to get around Interpol by issuing a “diffusion,” reported Quartz. That’s an arrest request that Interpol does not vet. The move caused the United States immigration system last month to temporarily block Browder’s entrance into the country.
Things will get murkier, some predict.
Every country in the world except North Korea belongs to Interpol. Now Palestine could become a member soon. One can be sure the Palestinians have debatable views on who is and is not a criminal.

Friday, November 10, 2017

An Afternoon With Space Guru Yuri Milner

Yuri Milner is a billionaire from Russia. I was honored to be in a meeting with him yesterday. I heard him talk about life on other celestial bodies. He has a phenomenal knowledge of space as an astronomer or astrophysicist does. He also talked about allegations that he had improperly received investments from the Russian government. He gave a frank and honest defense. He pointed out that the investments were received in 2009 when the US and Russia still had good relations. He pointed out that Hillary Clinton blessed the deal and got Americans to invest in Russia at the same time. He pointed out that he returned the money to Russian investors in 2014 when relations soured. (His clients bought when share prices were low and made a big profit when share prices went up.) I believe him. Yuri is intelligent, charming, and really bright.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

In Praise Of Camera West And Leica Cameras

I had a huge problem with the card in my camera. I took it to Camera West in Walnut Creek. They found massive photos and videos on the card.(Somehow things were not deleting when uploaded to the computer despite delete commands being given.) They sold me a card reader that fixed it.
I am the exception in the photography sphere. I have a Leica camera from Germany. It's a great optical instrument. Unknown to most people, in World War II Leica transferred all Jewish employees to countries far from Nazi Germany. They saved as many people as Oskar Shindler did. A company with a social conscience is very important to me.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A US Invasion Of North Korea?

     I read this earlier this morning. A full-scale Iraq-type invasion is impossible as China would see it as a threat and send troops to counter it. What is possible is special operations units targeting nuclear sites. There could be no advanced warnings or evacuations as Kim Jong Un would know what was in the works. It will have to be a surprise attack. While the special ops people are doing their work, you would have to have overwhelming and unrelenting strikes by cruise missiles and aircraft.

   In "the fog of war" it would have to be made clear both to Kim Jong Un and the Chinese that this is not "a decapitation strike" to remove Kim Jong Un from power. Rather it is limited to removing his advanced military capabilities, especially nuclear weapons.

   The big question here is how Kin Jong Un and his colleagues in power would react to such an attack. If they panicked or misunderstood it, then we will have a full-scale nuclear exchange on the Korean peninsula with a minimum of 1,000,000 casualties. Poison gas, artillery shells, and rockets will be flying everywhere. Japan could get hit. American bases could get hit. China could even get hit, if things get out of control.


    I have warned everyone that Kim Jong Un is not just another paranoid dictator trying to secure his regime. His family has stayed in power over 70 years and absorbed bombings with more explosives dropped on North Korea than in World War II by the US (1950-1953). Kim Jong Un by bluff and guile wants to take over the whole Korean peninsula as his grandfather could not. MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT THIS!!!

San Francisco Deltas Could Soon Win , Then Disappear

SF Deltas could soon win soccer championship, then disappear

November 4, 2017
Few San Franciscans know the city may soon have another championship to celebrate. The San Francisco Deltas, a first-year pro soccer team, have put together a strong season to make the playoffs. On Nov. 12, they could be crowned champions.
And then the team could fold.
The Deltas, a team of unknown players, have banded together under head coach Marc Dos Santos to make the North American Soccer League playoffs. The league is considered the second professional division of soccer in the U.S., below Major League Soccer.
“It’s a testament to the group and their character,” said San Francisco Deltas CEO Brian Andres Helmick. “This is history in the making, and it’s been really special to be able to watch it happen since inception.”
Although the team has succeeded on the field, has struggled off it. San Francisco joined the NASL as a “soccer startup,” a term coined by Helmick as he hoped to bridge the best of the Silicon Valley tech mentality with an expansion sports team.
Despite the ambitions, the Deltas found it hard to make a name for themselves in the Bay Area sports scene. The Deltas averaged just under 2,600 fans per game at Kezar Stadium and reportedly lost several million dollars.
Midway through the season, Helmick explained the Deltas’ struggles to fans and players. In July, he wrote a blog post challenging fans to help fix the team’s issues with attendance and possibly attract more outside investment.
He blamed a combination of factors for the team’s problems, including the plethora of entertainment options in San Francisco. On social media, most complaints about the Deltas consisted of cold weather, the location of Kezar stadium, parking and ticket prices. Tickets for most home games ranged from $19 to $124 for VIP seats.
“The answer is complicated as there are many reasons,” said Tommy Hodul, a reporter for the Midfield Press who has covered the team all season. “But a simple answer, in my opinion, is that they never formed a true connection to the city and did not create new soccer fans.”
Even the future of the league is in doubt. NASL had its Division 2 status revoked by the United States Soccer Federation in August. The league filed a lawsuit in federal court fighting the decision and asked for a preliminary injunction to keep their sanctioning for next season.
On Saturday, Judge Margo Brodie of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York denied the injunctive relief.
“We are very disappointed with the Court’s decision in denying our motion for a preliminary injunction,” said NASL Interim Commissioner Rishi Sehgal. “In light of the extreme harm this decision poses to the NASL and our teams, players, coaches and fans, we will immediately begin reviewing all of our legal options including the process for appealing today’s ruling.”
The Deltas have not guaranteed that they will return next season.
Despite all the off-field issues, the team has been able to keep its focus on the pitch. Since Helmick’s blog post, the Deltas lost only two of their final 16 regular-season games.
“Our mentality is: What can we do?” explained Deltas team captain Nana Attakora. “One thing here is we’ve known for a while now. We were told straightforward and knew what to expect. Any off-the-field issues, as a player, you try not to focus on.”
Dos Santos fashioned a team with no stars. He has relied on every player on the roster to play a significant role.
“In our locker room there are no egos,” Dos Santos explained. “Nobody thinks that they’re bigger than the team. Everyone works in the same way, the same mentality, and I think that’s very important.”
“That type of culture is easy to talk about but really hard to execute, and we’ve seen the proof on the field,” added Helmick.
Of the Deltas’ 20 field players, 12 have scored a goal. Leading the pack is forward Tommy Heinemann with nine.
“This group has gone through a lot on the field and off the field,” Heinemann said. “It’s not easy to overcome the things that we’ve gone through this year. It’s brought us closer together for sure, but it’s also given us a drive to win.”
The midfield trio of Kyle Bekker, Michael Stephens and Brazilian import Dagoberto have often set up the scoring. The defensive midfield has been captained by Tyler Gibson after Spaniard Cristian Portilla tore his ACL midseason. The Deltas defense also has been solid all year, conceding only 35 goals in 32 games. Reiner Ferreira, who started 31 of 32 games, was named to the NASL team of the month for October. Starting goalkeeper Romuald Peiser was nominated for NASL player of the year.
While San Francisco has ground out its fair share of results, it has also developed a knack for the dramatic. Seven times this season the Deltas scored a goal in the last 20 minutes to get a win or a draw. Their most sensational comeback was against the New York Cosmos on the road in September. Down a man and two goals, Devon Sandoval scored twice in the last 10 minutes to draw the defending champions.
For the season, San Francisco was only defeated once on the road and never lost a game it led after the 70th minute.
A second-place finish in the NASL standings ensured the Deltas a home playoff match at Kezar Stadium on Sunday against North Carolina FC. The game starts at 5 p.m.
If they win, the Deltas will play for the championship against first-place Miami FC or the Cosmos, who have won four of the past five NASL championships. If Miami wins, it will host the championship on Nov. 12. If both New York and San Francisco win, the Deltas would host the championship at Kezar.
After achieving the primary goal to make the playoffs, Dos Santos has adjusted the focus to winning the championship. “We do it a lot for us as a group, and we do it a lot for the few fans that actually embrace this team every day and are at every game,” said Dos Santos. “We need to do it for them also.”
The supporters’ group for the team, known as the Delta Force, recently released a song entitled “We are the Deltas” on YouTube, chronicling their game-day experience and support for the players.
“As a player and a member of this team, to have faithful supporters in good times is easy but to have faithful supporters in bad times is very tough,” Heinemann noted. “We’ve had supporters that have been faithful in bad times, and that means the world to us as players.”
And the team remains focused on the one result they can control.
“You have a sense of the work that you’ve done as a team,” said Dos Santos. “The only thing that matters in the semifinal is to win the championship. Not reaching the final, not being in a semifinal. You have to go with everything to win the championship.”

Douglas Zimmerman is SFGate’s soccer beat writer.

NASL semifinals
2 p.m.: New York Cosmos
at Miami FC BeIN Sports
5 p.m.: North Carolina
at S.F. Deltas BeIN Sports
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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Why Corruption Is Not A Victimless Crime

Corruption can add 40% to infrastructure costs - expert

Nov 02 2017 18:16 
Carin Smith
Somerset West – Transparency in public procurements is not only about stopping corruption, but also about creating a safe environment for companies to bid on infrastructure projects, according to Chris Heathcote, CEO of the Global Infrastructure Hub.
Heathcote was taking part in the First African Roundtable on Infrastructure Governance in Somerset West this week, where he said that corruption was "like a cancer" on the economies of some countries.
Rooting out corruption was linked to better infrastructure, he said.  “This is the only way African governments will get the private sector to come in and invest [in] infrastructure, because these projects are often just too huge to fund just from raising taxes,” he told Fin24.
“It is estimated that corruption can add up to 30% or 40% to initial project estimates. If a country has all this waste due to corruption it might end up never having the economic growth an infrastructure project can bring and instead just battle to get out of its debt," he said. 
"Then infrastructure is not a solution but part of the problem.”
Heathcote emphasised that infrastructure is vital to citizens of a country being able to enjoy their basic human rights like access to transport and electricity. 
“We see infrastructure not merely as the building of a road, for instance, but as lifting people out of poverty and increasing and opening up abilities for people to create jobs and wealth,” he said. 
“Due to huge amounts invested in infrastructure, China has, most impressively, lifted 205 million people out of poverty. This should be basic to Africa as well. Africa should not lose out on the growth available to emerging markets (EMs).” 
An expensive business 
The problem with infrastructure, said Heathcote, is that it is incredibly expensive. The shortfall of infrastructure investment in Africa is estimated at nearly $100bn (approximately R1.4trn) per year.
This, in turn, means lower growth, fewer jobs and fewer opportunities he said.  
A study by the International Monetary Fund has estimated that for each 1% of a country’s gross domestic product invested in infrastructure, it can add 1.5% to 2.5% to its GDP, said Heathcote. 
“It is, therefore, very important for governments to plan well, select the right infrastructure, talk to citizens about what you plan to build and why, because ultimately they are the ones paying for it. Also procure and maintain efficiently,” said Heathcote.
“One of benefits of public private partnerships is that the bid process is very transparent and that helps drive corruption from being a main line activity.  Society needs to drive corruption out by putting pressure on politicians. International bodies cannot drive it out.”
He called on governments to be more open about the infrastructure process, to plan better and to engage with the private sector in order to create a market the latter is looking for.
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Friday, November 3, 2017

Argentines On High School Reunion Bore The Brunt Of New York Attack

Photo
The Argentine flag at half-mast at the high school in Rosario, Argentina, where five victims of the New York attack on Tuesday graduated 30 years ago. CreditEitan Abramovich/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
ROSARIO, Argentina — Their big trip to New York had been decades in the making.
Thirty years ago, when they were all still high school students in this industrial city in Argentina, 10 young men promised to celebrate their reunion somewhere in style.
“In 30 years, we have to go on a trip,” said Cristian Ciancia, a fellow graduate, recalling the pledge.
The friends eventually settled on New York, but the cost was too high. So Ariel Erlij — one of five Argentines killed in the terrorist attack on Tuesday in Lower Manhattan — did not think twice before helping to pay for flights, friends said.
“When any friend, any acquaintance, needed anything, he never hesitated to offer a hand,” said Mr. Ciancia, who was not on the trip.
Finally, the 30-year promise was coming true — until the unimaginable happened.
A motorist mowed down cyclists and pedestrians on a bike path along the Hudson River on Tuesday afternoon, killing eight people, including half of the group from Argentina.
Continue reading the main story
“We don’t understand how there can be so much evil in the world,” said Alejandro Luca, a close friend and business partner of Mr. Erlij.
The Argentine friends had been inseparable in high school and had remained close over the years, even as two of them moved to the United States.
Last Saturday, eight of them set off to the United States from Rosario, which is northwest of Buenos Aires. Before boarding a flight, they looked giddy as they posed for a photograph wearing matching white T-shirts imprinted with “LIBRE,” or free, in large black letters.
The T-shirts were Mr. Erlij’s idea, borne out of a joke made in a group chat on WhatsApp about what it would be like for this gaggle of friends, now in their late 40s, to be inseparable again, for a few days, without their wives.
The other trip participants who died were: Hernán Ferrucchi, Alejandro Pagnucco, Hernán Mendoza and Diego Angelini, all architects, according to the Argentine newspaper Clarín. The survivors were Martín Marro, who lives in Massachusetts; Guillermo Banchini, who lives in New York; Iván Brajkovic; Juan Pablo Trevisan; and Ariel Benvenuto.
Mr. Pagnucco’s son, Ornee Pagnucco, said in a brief interview conducted over social media that the reunion participants had “shared videos and photos with a lot of emotion.”
His father was “a great man and the best father in the world,” Ornee Pagnucco said. “I’m in a very ugly moment of my life.”
Photo
From left, Hernán Ferrucchi, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, Iván Brajckovic, Juan Pablo Trevisan, Hernán Mendoza, Diego Angelini and Ariel Benvenuto gathered for a photo on Saturday at the airport in Rosario, Argentina, before leaving for New York. CreditTrevisan Family, via Associated Press
Officials at the three-story school, which has marble staircases and high ceilings, were devastated. Bibiana Vignaduzzo, a regent and physics teacher, shared memories of the men, who had taken her technical mechanics class in 1986.
“All 10 of them were great friends back then,” Ms. Vignaduzzo, 58, said in an interview. “If there’s something I remember about them it is that they were all big jokers. It wasn’t meanspirited, but they were always joking around with each other and their classmates.”
Alicia Oliva, a deputy director at the school, said groups of friends who graduate from the Politécnico in Rosario often remain close.
“This group wasn’t an exception,” Ms. Oliva said. “Lots of our students form bonds that last a lifetime and they still see each other, go on vacation together.”
On Tuesday, the school day began with a minute of silence at 7:30 a.m. “Everyone was very respectful,” Ms. Oliva said. “I told the students it was an opportunity to reflect on the importance of community and tolerance.”
That message resonated for Agustín Riccardi, 18, the student council president.
“There is a lot of consternation because when I stopped and thought about it, I would love to go on a trip with my classmates 30 years from now and for a reunion like that to end this way is just devastating,” he said. “Even if we don’t know the victims, we know they’re fathers, uncles, cousins of people we know. This is a small community.”
Mr. Erlij, the trip’s organizer, was a successful steel entrepreneur and real estate investor. Even as the father of three amassed considerable wealth, friends said, he remained simple in his manners and tact.
“He had a big heart,” said Mr. Luca, the friend and business partner. “There’s no one who’s not mourning him here.”
City officials on Wednesday declared three days of mourning. A candlelight vigil was held after sunset outside the school. Residents of Rosario, a riverside city of about 1 million people, described feeling an overbearing sense of loss.
“I couldn’t stop crying last night and I wasn’t alone,” said Nelida Riqué de Jordán, 84, as she drank a coffee downtown. “Rosario is mourning. These were our Rosario brothers.”
Jorge Casals, 59, a systems engineer, said the horror of the news dominated conversations at work and seemingly everywhere in Rosario on a hot spring day.
“I heard lots of people ask, where is it safe to travel now?” he said. “A friend told me this had convinced him not to go to the World Cup in Russia.”
Ana Luz Pailer, 20, an architecture student, said the attack made her feel vulnerable.
“Something like this really makes you think about how fragile life can be,” she said. “It really does feel like it could have happened to any one of us.”
Continue reading the main story