Pompeo says China incident is ‘entirely consistent’ with Cuba ‘sonic attacks’ – CNN

Sonic attacks on American diplomats continue, this time in China.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that an incident involving a US government employee stationed in China who reported “abnormal sensations of sound and pressure” suggesting a mild brain injury has medical indications that are “very similar” and “entirely consistent” to those experienced by American diplomats posted in Havana.

US officials have issued a health alert in China following the incident. Additionally, the US State Department is looking into whether the incident is similar to what happened in Cuba in 2016 and 2017, a US diplomatic official told CNN, which the US government characterized as a “sonic attack.” That incident led to a reduction in staffing at the US Embassy in Havana.

Source: Pompeo says China incident is ‘entirely consistent’ with Cuba ‘sonic attacks’ – CNN

It’s Time For A New Maritime Strategy – U.S. Naval Institute Blog

In the current environment, the U.S. military is stretched too thin and lacks the strategic purpose and resources to effectively employ this strategy. There is no guiding principle for the employment of naval force and yet the Navy continues to be used as an active tool of diplomacy in an era without strategic priorities. As globalization continues to take hold but the U.S. begins to focus inward, the role of the Navy must be better defined. In April of 1991, as the U.S. faced a period of unchallenged superiority with the demise of the Soviet Union, then CNO Admiral Frank Kelso made the following statement in Proceedings:

We must shift the objective of our “National Security Strategy” from containing the Soviet Union to maintaining global stability. Our evolving strategy must focus on regional contingencies in trouble spots wherever our national interests are involved.

Source: U.S. Naval Institute Blog

Four Bad Habits to Avoid at City Council Meetings – CitiesSpeak

This is a great lesson on how some common parliamentary procedures are frequently misused.

There are a number of “urban myths” about Robert’s Rules of Order that can get in the way of democratic process for your council. If your municipality, county council, or special district avoids these bad habits, congratulations! If these errors happen at your meetings, however, you might want to bring them to the attention of your colleagues to straighten them out – in a pleasant way, of course.

Source: Four Bad Habits to Avoid at City Council Meetings – CitiesSpeak

Taking Children from Their Parents Is a Form of State Terror | The New Yorker

A few hours after Putin took his fourth oath of office, in Moscow, Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed a law-enforcement conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. He pledged to separate families that are detained crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you,” Sessions said. The Attorney General did not appear to be unveiling a new policy so much as amplifying a practice that has been adopted by the Trump Administration, which has been separating parents who are in immigration detention from their children. The Times reported in December that the federal government was considering a policy of separating families in order to discourage asylum seekers from entering. By that time, nonprofit groups were already raising the alarm about the practice, which they said had affected a number of families. In March, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the hundreds of families that had been separated when they entered the country with the intention of seeking asylum.

The practice, and Sessions’s speech, are explicitly intended as messages to parents who may consider seeking asylum in the United States. The American government has unleashed terror on immigrants, and in doing so has naturally reached for the most effective tools.

Source: Taking Children from Their Parents Is a Form of State Terror | The New Yorker

Political frustrations

I have been wondering more and more about my obsession with politics. Like many obsessions, it borders on unhealthy. Often its frustrating, particularly to watch progress get thwarted come the next election.

I was feeling this way about the recent Democratic primary for the Wake County Commissioners. I’ve felt the incumbents on the ballot, Sig Hutchinson, John Burns, Erv Portman, and Matt Calabria, have done a fine job guiding the county but several fellow Democrats had a differing opinion. Portman and Burns were sent home Tuesday in favor of former school board member Susan Evans and newcomer Vickie Adamson. Hutchinson and Calabria retained their seats.
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With Oliver North, NRA’s descent into crackpottery continues | The Kansas City Star

I met Oliver North several times when he shopped in the Northern Virginia hardware store where I worked in high school. He was a neighbor and, though I didn’t know her, his daughter was in my high school class. When the Iran-Contra hearings took place my instinct was to cheer on my neighbor until I came to realize that lying to Congress – the People’s branch of government – really wasn’t anything to be celebrated.

Once North was convicted of felonies and his reputation was in tatters he crawled his way back into being a conservative pundit. I’d say both he and the NRA are getting what they deserve.

The National Rifle Association, which proclaims its devotion to the Second Amendment and the rest of the Constitution, announced that Retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North will be its next president. How perfect.

The New York Daily News reports: “North’s nomination will likely draw rebuke, considering his involvement in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal, in which senior Reagan administration officials covertly sold weapons to the arms-embargoed Iranian regime, and used the proceeds to fund the right-wing Contras guerillas in Nicaragua. The scandal left a dark stain on Ronald Reagan’s administration, although congressional committees found no evidence to suggest that the President himself was aware of the shadowy deals.”

North was convicted on three felony counts for his part in the scandal that rocked the Reagan administration (including misleading Congress and ordering that documents be destroyed), though he successfully had his conviction overturned on the grounds that his congressional testimony, obtained under a grant of immunity, may have tainted the jury. So, naturally, he now will lead a group that touts its devotion to law and order and the Constitution.

Source: With Oliver North, NRA’s descent into crackpottery continues | The Kansas City Star

The Shady Cases of Michael Cohen’s Personal Injury Practice – Rolling Stone

Lock this guy up and throw away the key.

A few years before he started working for Donald Trump, and long before he gave legal advice to people like Fox News personality Sean Hannity, Michael D. Cohen had a different kind of clientele. Cohen roamed the courthouses of New York City, filing lawsuits on behalf of people with little means who were seeking compensation for the injuries they suffered in car collisions. Many personal-injury lawyers make their living this way, but there was something striking about Cohen’s cases: Some of the crashes at issue didn’t appear to be accidents at all.

A Rolling Stone investigation found that Cohen represented numerous clients who were involved in deliberate, planned car crashes as part of an attempt to cheat insurance companies. Furthermore, investigations by insurers showed that several of Cohen’s clients were affiliated with insurance fraud rings that repeatedly staged “accidents.” And at least one person Cohen represented was indicted on criminal charges of insurance fraud while the lawsuit he had filed on her behalf was pending. Cohen also did legal work for a medical clinic whose principal was a doctor later convicted of insurance fraud for filing phony medical claims on purported “accident” victims. Taken together, a picture emerges that the personal attorney to the president of the United States was connected to a shadowy underworld of New York insurance fraud, a pervasive problem dominated by Russian organized crime that was costing the state’s drivers an estimated $1 billion a year.

Source: The Shady Cases of Michael Cohen’s Personal Injury Practice – Rolling Stone