Jon Cazares

Jon Cazares

General Motors (GM) and French tire manufacturer Michelin announced a partnership for a new airless wheel called the Tweel. Actually, tire manufacturers have been working on airless wheels for decades but apparently, no one has really knocked it out of the park yet. And to be clear, the Tweel already exists but it’s mainly in use for forklifts and lawn mowers and low speed engines. But first of all, what exactly is a Tweel? According to wikipedia:

“The Tweel … an airless tire …  Its significant advantage over pneumatic tires is that the Tweel does not use a bladder full of compressed air, and therefore cannot burst, leak pressure, or become flat. Instead, the Tweels hub is connected to the rim via flexible polyurethane spokes which fulfil the shock-absorbing role provided by the compressed air in a traditional tire.”

Enter the new partnership between GM and Michelin who have partnered under the brand name Uptis. From the join GM/Michelin press release in Montreal:

“Uptis demonstrates that Michelin’s vision for a future of sustainable mobility is clearly an achievable dream. Through work with strategic partners like GM, who share our ambitions for transforming mobility, we can seize the future today. General Motors is excited about the possibilities that Uptis presents, and we are thrilled to collaborate with Michelin on this breakthrough technology. Uptis is an ideal fit for propelling the automotive industry into the future and a great example of how our customers benefit when we collaborate and innovate with our supplier partners.”

Okay. Sounds great. Also, the Tweel tread lasts longer and is replaceable which means much less waste. And I’ve had a tire blow up from hitting a pothole, and, probably just like you - had some tires punctured by nails and whatnot. Buying new tires sucks. So, when can I have one of these new fancy airless tires?

Alas … not until, maybe, 2024. Which sucks because I hate waiting. The other problem is that no one seems to know exactly how much they’ll … well … you know - cost. I mean, I’m one hundred percent on board for the airless tire revolution! But if the Tweels are, say - one thousand dollars each, then I might just have to stick with my trusty old air filled tires. Even if that makes me one of the uncool kids.

But whatever, I’m used to that by now.

Just bring me my airless tire at an affordable cost. That’s not so much to ask. Is it?

Last year the Obamas penned a huge deal over at Netflix to produce “...a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features." We’ve just recently found out the six programs they’re producing:

American Factory,  a documentary about life in Ohio after a Chinese billionaire opened a factory and hired 2000 local workers.

Bloom, a post WWII drama.

Crip Camp, documentary about disability rights.

Listen to Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents, a kids show about food and stories from all over the world.

And three untitled projects: one about Frederick Douglass based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by David W. Blight, An adaptation of a NYT series, called “Overlooked” and a series based on the book The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy - a look at the transition to Donald Trump’s presidency through the lens of federal bureaucrats.

All set to be released on Netflix soon.

And now, the Obamas enter the podcasting business with the multiyear deal between their Higher Ground Productions and Spotify. Of course, you’ll have to be a premium (paid) member of Spotify in order to listen to any of the Obama produced material but, that’s probably to be expected. With something like 100 million paid subscribers, Spotify is certainly the place to go when producing high end podcasts.

From statements by the Obamas about the Spotify deal:

President Obama, “We’ve always believed in the value of entertaining, thought-provoking conversation. It helps us build connections with each other and open ourselves up to new ideas. We’re excited about Higher Ground Audio because podcasts offer an extraordinary opportunity to foster productive dialogue, make people smile and make people think, and, hopefully, bring us all a little closer together.”

Michelle Obama, “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to amplify voices that are too often ignored or silenced altogether, and through Spotify, we can share those stories with the world. Our hope is that through compelling, inspirational storytelling, Higher Ground Audio will not only produce engaging podcasts, but help people connect emotionally and open up their minds — and their hearts.”

As of today, Spotify has not yet released details on specific projects the Obamas will produce, but did state the programming will be “a diverse slate of original podcasts."

Which, to be honest - could mean, literally - anything. =)

The 92 annual Scripps National Spelling Bee wrapped up Memorial Day weekend. In the previous 92 spelling bees, there have been eight six winners and six two-way ties. This year was something else. After a Thursday evening round that went 5 ½ hours Bee organizers began to feel that there would be a large number of competitors at the top, which led pronouncer Jacques Bailly telling them, "We do have plenty of words remaining on our list. But we will soon run out of words that will possibly challenge you, the most phenomenal collection of super-spellers in the history of this competition."

 

He was  not wrong. After another three rounds the eight kids at the top never missed a beat and went 24-24. Often times the parents of the competitors seemed rattled and seriously stressed out but for the most part the kids handled the pressure well.

 

For the first time ever, it was an eight way tie. Normally, the spelling bee champion wins $50 thousand dollars and the trophy. In the past, when there were two way ties, the money was split. This year, instead of splitting the prize money eight ways, bee organizers decided that each of the kids would receive $50 thousand and each will take home a trophy of their own.

 

As usual at the National Spelling Bee, the kids were largely supporting each other with high fives and hugs when their competitors friends got words correct. Sportsmanship at its very best, it’s actually really lovely to watch. The video linked to the front page is the very final round where they were told, if you get this final word correct - you’ll tie for the top spot as Bee Champion. Their were eight competitors left. All eight of them got their word correct.

 

One by the one the kids, in this order and the word they had to spell.

 

Rishik Gandhasri, 13, of San Jose, Calif.: auslaut.

Erin Howard, 14, of Huntsville, Ala.: erysipelas.

Saketh Sundar, 13, of Clarksville, Md.: bougainvillea.

Shruthika Padhy, 13, of Cherry Hill, N.J.: aiguillette.

Sohum Sukhatankar, 13, of Dallas: pendeloque.

Abhijay Kodali, 12, of Flower Mound, Tex.: palama.

Christopher Serrao, 13, of Whitehouse Station, N.J.: cernuous

Rohan Raja, 13, of Irving, Tex: odylic.

 

I don’t get to watch the National Spelling Bee every year but ever since the fantastic 2002 Academy Award nominated documentary Spellbound hit the theaters, I would certainly say the Bee is always on my radar. You should check the documentary out. I believe you can watch it free on YouTube.

 

And to the 2019 winners, all eight of you - well done!

Robert Mueller made his first (and probably only) public statement about his special investigation into the Russian interference of the 16’ election. He reiterated that his report does not exonerate President Trump but also, and very clearly says, charging the President with a crime was not an option due to the constitutional restriction against charging an active President.

His full statement:  

Two years ago, the Acting Attorney General asked me to serve as Special Counsel, and he created the Special Counsel's Office.

The appointment order directed the office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This included investigating any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.

I have not spoken publicly during our investigation. I am speaking today because our investigation is complete. The Attorney General has made the report on our investigation largely public. And we are formally closing the Special Counsel's Office. As well, I am resigning from the Department of Justice and returning to private life.

I'll make a few remarks about the results of our work. But beyond these few remarks, it is important that the office's written work speak for itself.

Let me begin where the appointment order begins: and that is interference in the 2016 presidential election.

As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system.

The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information, and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization WikiLeaks. The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.

And at the same time, as the grand jury alleged in a separate indictment, a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to interfere in the election.

These indictments contain allegations. And we are not commenting on the guilt or innocence of any specific defendant. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.

The indictments allege, and the other activities in our report describe, efforts to interfere in our political system. They needed to be investigated and understood. That is among the reasons why the Department of Justice established our office.

That is also a reason we investigated efforts to obstruct the investigation. The matters we investigated were of paramount importance. It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government's effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.

Let me say a word about the report. The report has two parts addressing the two main issues we were asked to investigate.

The first volume of the report details numerous efforts emanating from Russia to influence the election. This volume includes a discussion of the Trump campaign's response to this activity, as well as our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.

And in the second volume, the report describes the results and analysis of our obstruction of justice investigation involving the President.

The order appointing me Special Counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation. We conducted that investigation and we kept the office of the Acting Attorney General apprised of the progress of our work.

As set forth in our report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.

We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime. The introduction to volume two of our report explains that decision.

It explains that under long-standing Department policy, a President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view—that too is prohibited.

The Special Counsel's Office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that Department policy. Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.

The Department's written opinion explaining the policy against charging a President makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. Those points are summarized in our report. And I will describe two of them:

First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting President because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents are available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could now be charged.

And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.

And beyond Department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of an actual charge.

So that was the Justice Department policy and those were the principles under which we operated. From them we concluded that we would not reach a determination -- one way or the other -- about whether the President committed a crime. That is the office's final position and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the President.

We conducted an independent criminal investigation and reported the results to the Attorney General—as required by Department regulations.

The Attorney General then concluded that it was appropriate to provide our report to Congress and the American people.

At one point in time I requested that certain portions of the report be released. The Attorney General preferred to make the entire report public all at once. We appreciate that the Attorney General made the report largely public. I do not question the Attorney General's good faith in that decision.

I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak about this matter. I am making that decision myself—no one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter.

There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself.

The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.

In addition, access to our underlying work product is being decided in a process that does not involve our office.

So beyond what I have said here today and what is contained in our written work, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress.

It is for that reason that I will not take questions here today.

Before I step away, I want to thank the attorneys, the FBI agents, the analysts, and the professional staff who helped us conduct this investigation in a fair and independent manner. These individuals, who spent nearly two years with the Special Counsel's Office, were of the highest integrity.

I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments—that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election.

That allegation deserves the attention of every American.

Thank you.

Ah, internet. How I love you, and hate you at the same time. You have done so much right and so much wrong. And this Chipotle disaster is another case of wrong. Let’s set the scene: A few months ago at a Chipotle in St. Paul, MN, five young, black men in their early twenties come into the restaurant and order food. The manager, a twenty three year old woman named Dominique Moran, tells the five black men, “...you gotta pay (up front) because you never have any money when you come in here, boys.” Well, the boys were recording the interaction and, in the following two minute video (linked on the front), you see the boys claim they are being profiled and ask white customers “do you have to pay up front before you get your food?”

This is a fair question. If Moran is only asking black men to pay up front, but not asking white customers the same thing - she’s probably doing something wrong.

Right?  

Well, the boys left the restaurant and posted their various videos to social medial. At least one video went viral, one shot by Masud Ali, 21 (again, the one linked to the front page). There was an immediate and huge backlash against Moran with many rage comments calling her the “racist white manager,” and at targeting Chipotle itself for being racist and for racial profiling black men. Within 24 hours Chipotle issued an apology, stating: “This is not how we treat our customers and as a result, the manager has been terminated and the restaurant is being retrained to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

Masud Ali, the young man who shot the viral video, hit back on Twitter calling out Chipotle for firing the manager on duty (Moran) but not her “side kick,” saying to them, “Just because you retrain someone doesn’t make them less racist.” Masud, clearly, was trying to get a second employee fired. For being racist. Well, get back to that in a second.

Anyway, as you can imagine - Moran was publicly shamed, lost her job, received thousands of hate messages and her picture & name became synonymous for hate. SJW (social justice warriors) everywhere patted themselves on the back for rooting out another racist.

Now, keep in mind this general story is nothing new. We see weekly videos of white people calling the cops on black folks for literally just eating their dinner, or walking down the street, or playing with their kids on the playground. This is textbook racial profiling and it happens. Basically, what the white folks are saying is “I see a black person - he/she must be doing something illegal!” Or how about the Starbucks incident(s) last year in Philly and L.A. Or, how about this video where a black man is picking up trash on his own property and a white cop doesn’t believe he lives there and pulls his gun on him. So, sadly, the story of “white person racially profiles person of color,” happens. Like, a lot. And it’s a huge problem.

But in this specific instance, well - let’s get back to Moran. Very quickly after her firing, for being a “white racist profiler,” a few internet sleuths saw holes in the official story. First of all, Moran isn’t white. And it’s painfully obvious to anyone watching the video that she’s of some kind of Latino heritage. Not that her racial background is a huge deal, but still. Second, it took internet sleuths all of like, ten minutes to jump onto the social media page of Masud Ali and see post after post from him, bragging on social media how he and his buddies love to dine and dash and have been doing it for years.

Um. Uh-oh. So, what you’re saying is that after the barest minimum of investigation it was super, super easy to figure out that Masud was a lying, serial “dine and dasher” and that Moran was actually protecting her employer from theft. But instead of doing the barest minimum of investigation into the event, Chipotle bent to the will of online hysteria and fired their employee for … protecting the store and doing the right thing.

*sigh*

It’s too bad because this kind of disengenous idiocy pushed by Ali and his A-hole buddy's  - do actual harm to legitimate cases of racial profiling. Not that Ali cared about that. I mean, he might care about it now that he was outed for being a douchebag, but had he not been caught, do you really think Ali would have ever felt a moment of regret for getting an innocent woman fired?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say - he would not have cared at all. Not one bit.

Well, it’s all come full circle now. The internet sleuths pushed evidence back towards Chipotle. Chipotle publicly apologized to Dominique Moran for getting it wrong and offered her job back but … I haven’t been able to find out if she took the job or not. To be honest, I hope she didn’t. I hope she moves on to better things.

The largest cave in the world is Hang Son Doong (translated from Vietnamese: Mountain river cave.) Son Doong cave is located in Quang Binh province, Vietnam. Even though the province is off the coast of the East Vietnamese Sea, the Son Doong cave is located almost as far west in the province as one can get, which means it’s much closer to central Vietnam than it is to the actual sea.

The cave was first discovered in 1991 when a local explorer named Ho Khanh accidentally stumbled across it but, upon his return home, was no able to pinpoint exactly where the cave entrance had been. It took him almost 20 years to find it again but by then, and just about at the same time - the cave had been discovered by British cavers in 2009.

The cave itself, according to experts, is approximately 3.5 million years old - created by “... river water eroding away the limestone underneath the mountain where the limestone was weak - then having the ceiling collapse creating huge skylights. At over 5 km long, with sections reaching up to 200m tall and 150m wide, Hang Son Doong is large enough to house an entire New York City block, complete with 40 story skyscrapers. With a total measured volume of 38.5 million cubic meters, this comfortably surpasses Deer Cave in Malaysia, which was considered to be the previous record holder. Stalagmites up to 80m high have also been surveyed, the tallest ever encountered.”

And just last month, British divers (the same divers who aided in the rescue effort of the trapped soccer team in Thailand) uncovered something about Son Doong that had gone previously unnoticed - an underwater tunnel. This tunnel, it seems, connects Son Doong to another huge cave called, Hang Thung, adding an additional 1.6 million cubic meters in volume to Son Dong’s already colossal 38.5 million cubic meters.

More about the expedition can be found here at the official website for the British explorers. (Editor’s note: The movie on their website is the same five minute movie linked on our front page but you should check out the page anyway, for the photos!)

Weird, but cool. The reigning champion Korean baseball team, the SK Wyverns, unleashed an augmented reality (AR) image of their team name on audiences for opening day of Korean Baseball.

Fans began the performance by mass pressing the “cheer” button on the App and then the AR wyvern flew through the stadium and caused a bit of AR havoc. Audiences could watch the wyvern on the huge LED baseball screen or through their smartphone app.  

The AR wyvern event was masterminded by SK Telecom, a South Korean wireless telecommunications operator; which is part of the SK Group, one of the country's largest of South Korea’s family-owned business conglomerates.

An SK source said, "Media content service has grown more important recently, and we've come up with a service for baseball games," adding, "SK Telecom thus planned this event to provide a unique experience to spectators using AR and VR technologies."

Beginning this year, SK will bring their AR shows out of just South Korea and tour to larger audiences as well as big stadium events and concert halls in other parts of the world.

“Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?” - Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  

“Mueller? Mueller? Mueller?” Just when I thought Robert Mueller had earned his day off. Anyway, a few weeks ago when his report was released, I almost thought we wouldn’t hear from Mueller again. But now Congress wants unredacted report and wants Mueller to testify because Mueller sent a letter claiming that Barr misrepresented his report. President Trump said, “It should be up to the AG if Mueller testifies,” but then AG Barr said to Congress, “I don’t care if Mueller testifies, ” but then Barr didn’t show up for his second day of testimony, and now Congress wants to hold AG Barr in contempt. But then, the President changed his mind saying Mueller shouldn’t testify. So, now, of course, Mueller will testify before Congress. But then … President Trump invoked Executive Privilege to prevent Congress from seeing the unredacted Mueller report, which will probably delay Mueller's testifying.

How naïve of me to assume this was over and done.

Anyway, I tried to read the entire Mueller report. But I’m only one guy, and it clocks in at 450 pages, and I have other work to get done. I got through about a third of it and mostly skimmed the rest, stopping to fully read a page or two that seemed important or to focus on some of the redacted bits to see if I could figure out what it was redacted (usually - no). Now, I know that “skimming” is not an exact science, but I suspect I’ve read much more of the full report than the vast majority of folks. And so, I tackle the following issues with a reasonable amount of knowledge.

A couple things I noticed. It’s very clear that Mueller found large amounts of evidence outlining Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. Like, a jaw dropping amount of evidence! The other thing I noticed is that there is also, a jaw dropping amount of evidence - linking Trump staffers, advisors and family members to meetings and information swaps with the Russians.

BUT, as clearly stated in the opening statement summarizing the report, Mueller says, “... the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” And the reason Mueller states this is because there was no long term agreement between the Russians and the Trump campaign. That’s it. There was no “long term” agreement. Not, “The Russians and the Trump campaign never met up.” Because the report says they did. Only that there was no, “long term agreement,” to fit the legal definition of collusion.  

Did the Russians sabotage the election in favor of Trump? The report says “yes.” Did the Trump Campaign meet with the Russians to get said stolen information? The report says “yes.” It’s just that there was no “long term coordination,” for it to be legally considered collusion. The Russians, realizing that a Trump White House would be much more sympathetic to their cause, committed cyber terrorism against the US, then stole a bunch of documents from the DNC,  then gave the stolen information to the Trump Campaign in hopes to help Trump win, and then went on to commit huge amounts of additional interference from outright misinformation campaigns on social media to fraud. The Mueller report literally says there is huge amounts of evidence supporting all those claims, it’s just that there was no long term agreement between the two parties for it to legally constitute collusion.

Wow. That, um - forgive me for saying this but … that does NOT sound like “total exoneration.”  

The next thing I noticed is that - not much of the report is redacted. The redacted parts come sometimes in giant black chunks, and sometimes in lots of little snippets. All in all, I would say, of the 450 pages there are about 20 total redacted pages. And certainly not in a row, they are scattered all over. Of course, our two political parties see those 20 pages in a completely different light.

Republicans, “We see the majority of the report and we understand the spirit of what is being said, and so no one has to read the redacted twenty pages - because it won’t change anything. Also, the report clearly says “No collusion. Total exoneration,” so any additional investigation is a waste of time.”

Democrats, “We see the majority of the report and we understand the spirit of what is being said but too much information can be hidden behind twenty redacted pages that might shed more light into an investigation that clearly states Russia sabotaged the 16’ Presidential Election. Also, the report does not say, “total exoneration,” in fact it says the opposite of “no exoneration,” so we would like more information.”   

Hrmmmm. Well, they can’t both be right! You know? One side is clearly in the wrong here. Alas, we all know the day and age we live in. Our side is always right. No common ground attempted. The other side is always wrong. Ad nauseam.

Republicans like to think they are one hundred percent altruistic, perfectly just and always correct, while simultaneously believing that Democrats are devil worshiping, lying, “libtards,” who are one hundred percent wrong, one hundred percent of the time.

Democrats like to think they are one hundred percent altruistic, perfectly just and always correct, while simultaneously believing that Republicans are faux-Christian, lying, “deplorables,” who are one hundred percent wrong, one hundred percent of the time.

*long sigh*

Common sense and reason appears to have gone the way of the dodo.

Well, allow me to apply some common sense and reason to this new Mueller … happening. Let Congress read the unredacted report and allow Mueller to testify, because there is no reasonable explanation for blocking Congress from the full report. Members of Congress have security clearance on all matters of national security up to and including investigations that look into - if a hostile foreign power sabotaged a Presidential Election - which the report universally found Russia to have done! That sounds like National Security to me. Which Congress has clearance for. Therefor, common sense and reason suggest Congress should receive the full report.

And now Trump is invoking Executive Privilege to prevent Congress from receiving the full report. Which, if you are not exactly familiar with Executive Privilege, from Wikipedia:  

Executive privilege is the power of the President of the United States and other members of the executive branch of the United States Government to resist certain subpoenas and other interventions by the legislative and judicial branches of government in pursuit of information or personnel relating to the executive.”  

Fair enough. That is the right of the President (and members of the executive branch) and it’s an important protection. In fact, many modern day Presidents have invoked Executive Privilege, some have done it much more than once, including - Nixon (a few times), Reagan, Bush, Clinton (several times), Bush Jr. (several times), Obama and now Trump.

Of course, it should also be noted that Congress can breach EP but must sue in federal court. It’s happened before, and in two notable cases, Nixon and Clinton, the President lost. Nixon invoked EP to avoid Watergate, Clinton invoked EP to avoid the Lewinsky scandal. Congress sued and won in court. The rest, as they say - is history.

So, this is really nothing new. The cover ups. The investigation. The lying. The testifying. The “I don’t recalls.” The invoking of Executive Privilege. The lawsuit. So people should really stop their fake outrage because we’ve seen this happen over and over.

These new shenanigans are nothing new but will add to the cost of the investigation and the amount of time we have to hear about it. Apparently, the overall cost of the Mueller investigation, so far, is a bit more than $16 million. Maybe that sounds like a lot to you, maybe it doesn’t. For context, the 9/11 Commission was funded with a $15 million budget. I’m sure you folks remember the 9/11 Commission. If not, it was an investigation into how and why the largest terrorist attack on the US occurred, and what can be done to prevent future attacks. Which, is the exact definition of “a matter of National Security.” (I just scanned over the 9/11 report and did not notice a single redacted item, which, I know, is NOT exactly the same thing we have going on today with Mueller report, but was still something I thought was interesting).

Now we have a new report, that is literally looking into a matter of National Security, investigating if a hostile foreign power sabotaged the 16’ Presidential Election. One would think, when applying common sense and reason to this dilemma - the Mueller Report is an important investigation into the National Security of the country.

And if you feel annoyed that the Mueller report cost more than the 9/11 Commission, allow me to remind you that the Clinton Impeachment cost taxpayers more than both investigations combined. To break it down:

Clinton Impeachment - “Did the President lie to Congress while under oath, about weather or not he cheated on his wife?” Cost to taxpayers: $70 million dollars (adjusted for inflation that’s $105 million today).

9/11 Commission: “An investigation into the largest terrorist attack on US soil and, as a matter of National Security, a report on how we can be better equipped to thwart future terrorist attacks.” Cost to taxpayers: $15 million dollars (adjusted for inflation that’s $22.5 million, today)

Mueller Report: “As a matter of National Security, an investigation into if a hostile foreign power sabotaged the 16’ Presidential Election?” Cost to taxpayers: $16 million dollars (but could go up).

If you honestly can’t see which of the above is not like the others, well - then you can’t. But common sense and reason should tell you that two of them are matters of National Security, and one of them is total BS that wasted a lot of taxpayer money.

Republicans used to be the security party, the military party. Even President Obama had a Republican Secretary of Defense. Speaking of Obama, we all know the truth of this next statement, if a two year Special Prosecutor investigation uncovered Russian interference in 2012’s Obama vs. Romney election that involved stolen information from the RNC in a way that handed Obama the win - Republican heads would have exploded from rage induced aneurysms!

I bet then, with that ridiculous Russian/Obama scenario, Republicans would have been very interested in security and in preserving election integrity.

Now … meh, not so much.

Last month in the United Kingdom, more than 5,000 people stood in line in the rain - for hours, to see if they were a potential stem cell match for a young boy battling cancer. You see, back in December 2018, 5 year old Oscar Saxelby-Lee had been diagnosed with “acute lymphoblastic leukaemia” when the family took him to Birmingham Children’s Hospital over Christmas. Oscar was just feeling, “unwell.” The family was certainly not expecting to hear that Oscar had leukemia.   

But he did. And it was a particularly rare and aggressive kind of cancer, too. Only a few hundred people, in the UK (where all of this took place) per year are afflicted.  Oscar underwent four weeks of successful chemotherapy but then the doctors said he would need a stem cell transplant within a few months. 

Oscar's community and school reached out via social media and told the UK about Oscar and his cause. Tens of thousands of people reached out to help including the aforementioned 5,000 that stood in the rain. Usually in these circumstances, a family member would donate stem cells but neither of the parents were a close match. Thankfully, three people, out of several thousand - were found to be a perfect match for Oscar. 

From the Hand in Hand for Oscar Facebook page: 

"We have the best news to share! Oscar has a match!!!! Absolutely thrilled to announce Oscar has finally got a stem cell match, not just one but three and will be undergoing transplant very soon!! What an emotional rollercoaster it's literally been a journey of heartache and dread continuously, but...WOW!!!  What a feeling of relief and positivity to help Oscar kick cancer's butt!! It's been so so traumatic but we are over the moon with being given a chance to tackle the next step in treatment. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts to all of you out there who have registered, supported and continued to spread the word for our beautiful boy and those in need of wonderous bone marrow cells. We could never have done this without you all!!”

Before the transplant could happen, Oscar needed four days of radiotherapy, which he received, and last week - Oscar was found to be free of leukaemia blast cells. The stem cell transplant is the only thing left. 

I’ll update more on Oscar as soon as I hear.

Earlier this week, news erupted about the Boy Scout’s “Perversion Files.” The Perversion Files (which the Scouts call, “ineligible volunteer files,”) detail as many as 12,000 boys that, while participating in scout programs - were sexually abused by Scout leaders.

Now, portions of the Perversion Files have leaked before, so the general information is nothing new. What has recently come forward is that the number of abused boys and abusers is much, much higher than previously reported.

The way I understand it is that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) hired someone to do a five year internal investigation and that investigation concluded the number leaders who sexually assaulted boys in the program is not the 3,000 as had been previously reported, but is actually closer to 8000.

Let that sink in for a moment. That’s eight thousand men - volunteer leaders in the BSA, that have been accused of molesting more than 12,000 boys. So the “Ineligible Volunteer Files” is a detailed list of all the men who have “had their registration with the Boy Scouts revoked - because of reasonable allegations of child sex abuse.”

This all came to light when attorney Jeff Anderson released sworn testimony from Janet Warren, a psychiatry professor at the University of Virginia. Warren had been hired by the Boy Scouts to conduct the above mentioned study of the sex abuse files. Warren found that the evidence in the files was actually much worse than what the BSA imagined. She found the number of abused boys and abusers was thousands more than initially thought. Warren also made it clear that she found no evidence of a cover up by the BSA to hide this information and that she will present a more detailed report sometime during the summer.  

Unlike the Catholic church, who just shuffles abusers around to new parishes and/or different cities - at least the Boy Scouts fired the abuser and didn’t allow them to work with youth ever again. I mean, it’s not much, but at least it’s that.

With something like two and a half million children participating in the Boy Scouts, if there are thousands of victims who come forward (and hundreds and hundreds of them are coming forward - some as young as 15, and one as old as 75) - this could be a financial disaster the BSA. As a non profit organization, they would not be able to financially handle thousands of lawsuits and would probably declare bankruptcy, which would shield them from lawsuits but allow them to continue operations.

Michael Surbaugh, the Chief Executive of the Boy Scouts said this at a lengthy press conference:

"I want to reiterate our steadfast support for victims of abuse. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children …  We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in scouting. We believe victims, and we pay for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward. At no time have we ever knowingly allowed a perpetrator to work with youth, and we mandate that all leaders, volunteers and staff members nationwide immediately report any abuse allegations to law enforcement. Throughout our history, we have enacted strong youth protection policies to prevent future abuse, including mandatory youth protection trainings and a formal leader-selection process that includes criminal background checks. Since the 1920's, we have maintained a Volunteer Screening Database to prevent individuals accused of abuse or inappropriate conduct from joining or re-entering our programs, a practice recommended in 2007 by the Centers for Disease Control for all youth-serving organizations."

Okay. Well, I do believe him. I doubt BSA leadership “knowingly allowed” predators to work with youth.  Again, the Perversion Files clearly state that abusers were fired after “reasonable evidence.” Which suggests that the BSA knew about the allegations, believed the victim and fired the alleged abuser. But, and here’s the sticky point - didn’t contact authorities. Which might have been a problem.   

Interestingly enough, I just read that the Boy Scouts filed suit against several of their insurers for “refusing to cover its sex abuse legal liabilities.” But, like insurance companies everywhere, said insurance agents found a way not to pay a cent of coverage for the BSA by claiming, “the Boy Scouts neglected to take meaningful precautionary action.”

Hrmmm. Okay. Maybe. The Boy Scouts claim they have a screening process and a “protection system” in place. Which makes sense. Clearly, their process doesn’t work as well as they thought, but it certainly suggests they are “taking meaningful precautionary action,” so I don’t know what the F those insurance companies are talking about.  I even found a part of their screening process / protection system listed in a CNN story:

  • Youth protection training is mandatory for all registered leaders.
  • … a youth is never alone with an adult leader during scouting activities and that no youth is permitted to sleep in a ten with other adults other than the parent or guardian.
  • ...prohibited one-on-one texts and social media communication between adult and youth members.  

Sounds like meaningful precautionary action to me. Anyway, - the courts will work all that out. Until then, more and more victims continue to come forward.

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