Posted by: coastcontact | April 22, 2015

Genocide

Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious or national group.

Just yesterday a former SS sergeant, Oskar Groening, described in chilling detail Wednesday how cattle cars full of Jews were brought to the Auschwitz death camp, the people stripped of their belongings and then most led directly into gas chambers. Groening is being tried on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder, related to a period between May and July 1944 when around 425,000 Jews from Hungary were brought to the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex in Nazi-occupied Poland and most immediately gassed to death.  The Holocaust was the largest killing of any group in the world.  This man should be put to death in a gas chamber.

The Hamidian massacres also referred to as the Armenian Massacres of 1894–1896 occurred in the Ottoman Empire. The genocide began on April 24, 1915, when Ottoman authorities arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. Thereafter, the Ottoman military uprooted Armenians from their homes and forced them to march for hundreds of miles, without food and water, to the desert of what is now Syria. Massacres ignored age and gender, with rape and other acts of sexual abuse being commonplace. The majority of Armenian diaspora communities were founded as a result of these events. Mass killings continued under the Republic of Turkey during the Turkish–Armenian War phase of Turkish War of Independence.

Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies the word genocide is an accurate term for the mass killings of Armenians that began under Ottoman rule in 1915. It has in recent years been faced with repeated calls to recognize them as genocide. To date, twenty-three countries have officially recognized the mass killings as genocide,[19] a view which is shared by most genocide scholars and historians.

President Barack Obama promised he would declare the killing of Armenians a genocide in 2008. His refusal to do so now is another blunder that continues to make the United States appear weak. Turkey has not been a friend of the United States. The loss of their cooperation with America in the Middle East has already occurred. America gains nothing by refusing to define a crime against humanity.

Posted by: coastcontact | April 21, 2015

Now Hear This

This article was scanned from Bloomberg BusinessWeek.  As I have a significant birth defect hearing loss in one ear this article is consequential to me.

Bloomberg Businessweek March 1 – March 15, 2015

NowHearThis

Advances in circuitry and Bluetooth have made hearing-aid alternatives cheaper and more powerful

But “a lot of people will continue to pay for traditional hearing aids”

One night in June 2010, New York composer Richard Einhorn went to bed in a motel feeling stuffy and woke up almost completely deaf. At the time, Einhorn, who wrote the oratorio Voices of Light, had limited ways to deal with his nightmare condition, known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss. He visited an audiologist and bought a hearing aid for $3,000. (His insurance plan, like most, didn’t cover it.) Unhappy with the expense and the limits of the earpiece’s technology, which struggled to adapt to different noise levels, Einhorn began searching for alternative gadgets that could restore more of his hearing for less money.

Today, he has a backpack full of them. To supplement his old-school hearing aid, he favors a $350 iPhone linked earpiece made by Sound World Solutions, a hearing hardware maker in Park Ridge, Ill., for whom he’s begun to consult. With the Sound World device on, he can amplify phone calls and streaming music as well as his sur-roundings. A third, $500 earpiece was custom-made by Ultimate Ears in Irvine, Calif., to help him detect a wider range of musical tones while composing. For restaurants and theaters, he has a $45 directional microphone that pairs with a $5 app to isolate desired voices. And for especially cacophonous places, he has spare $700 microphones, made by Etymotic Research in Elk Grove Village, Ill., that he can strap to companions.

Einhorn credits the audio patchwork with saving his career and his life. “It’s incredible,” he says over lunch in a busy restaurant, as he toggles the proper setting on his phone.

The Bluetooth-connected earpieces aren’t classified as hearing aids by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They’re called personal sound amplification products, or PSAPs. Basic versions of such devices have existed for more than a decade in lonely RadioShack aisles and a handful of other places. But in the past 18 months, advances in circuitry and low-energy Bluetooth transmission have helped developers radically improve the designs to make high-quality, long-lasting alternatives to hearing aids while keeping prices at a fraction of the industry standard.

hearing-aid alternatives

Whatever regulators or insurers call them, PSAP manufacturers are angling to expand the $6 billion global market for hearing technology. Largely due to the cost, 75 percent of the 34 million Americans with hearing loss don’t use aids, says David Kirkwood, the editor of industry blog Hearing Health & Technology Matters. ‘A lot of people will continue to pay for traditional hearing aids,” he says. “But there are now inexpensive, easy-to-get alternatives.”

Part of the reason PSAPs are cheap is that they’re unregulated. Hearing-aid fittings and audiological calibrations account for much of the cost of aids from the big six makers-Siemens, Sonova, Starkey Hearing Technologies, William Demant, GN ReSound, and Widex. A midlevel pair that retails for $4,400 costs about $440 to manufacture, according to AARP. Research and development spending is also a factor: Unlike the free Bluetooth standard used by upstarts such as Sound World, old-school hearing aids run on proprietary signal processing and transmission technology. Siemens, Sonova, and Widex declined to comment; GN ReSound, Starkey, and William Demant didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Still, being kept out of doctors’ offices has been a huge problem for PSAP makers, says Venkat Rajan, who tracks medical devices for researcher Frost & Sullivan. While the size of the market can be difficult to gauge given the lack of regulation, anecdotal evidence suggests sales have been soft, he says. It doesn’t help that, according to industry journal the Hearing Review, the average American buying a hearing aid is 71 years old. “Trying to find that customer base has been difficult,” Rajan says.

The marketing of hearing aids, classified as medical devices by the FDA since 1977 is strictly regulated in the U.S. According to agency guidelines that predate the latest generation of equipment, PSAP makers aren’t allowed to market their products as medical devices. Instead, they’re supposed to be used recreationally by people who can already hear comfortably. The FDA, which wouldn’t say whether it plans to change its rules, occasionally issues warnings to companies it believes to be violating them, so PSAP ads tend to include at least one verbal somersault. An ad for Etymotic describes its latest product, the Bean, thusly: “Not a hearing aid but has many advantages.”

The $300 Bean is the brainchild of Mead Killion, the co-founder of Etymotic. He invented the analog hi-fi amplification technology behind the device back in 1988, but says it’s only since 2013 that circuitry has become cheap enough for the product to be worth manufacturing en masse. His company uses the same technology in adaptive earplugs designed for orchestra musicians or infantry troops to keep music or conversation audible while dampening loud noises. A decade ago, Killion failed to persuade the FDA that early PSAPs should be sold over the counter. He’s lobbying for a contract with the Department of Defense.

Normally, I hear fine, but I conducted a hands-on experiment shortly before an interview with Killion. It became clear that having professional help putting these things in is a good idea. Initially, one Bean in each ear made it easy to hear faraway gossip in a noisy Whole Foods. Then I pushed them too far, and suddenly could hear nothing at all. Killion said the problem was waxy buildup in my narrow ear canals, so the next step was a $150 cerumenectomy-that is, getting a doctor to scrape out gobs of wax and clear the blockage.

The era of internet diagnosis hasn’t eliminated the need for medical professionals, says Erin Miller, president of the American Academy of Audiology. “This is our biggest problem with the PSAPs in general,” she says. “We want to make sure someone has looked in the patient’s ear.” All the more reason, PSAP makers argue, to put their products in medical offices next to those from Starkey and ReSound. For now, the companies’ sales will be limited to true believers like Einhorn, the composer. “You have to remember that I’m a maniac,” he says. “I will do anything to hear as best as possible in any situation” –David Gauvey Herbert

___________________________

The bottom line New audio technology manufacturers are trying to break into the $6 billion hearing-aid market.

Posted by: coastcontact | April 18, 2015

Say NO to New Free Trade Agreements

Are you all asleep?  Haven’t you noticed that all of your clothes are not made in America?  When did you see any item that was made in America? I have found a few but they are rare and have had only the smallest effect on our country.  Think Cutco Knives and American Apparel.   Call for technical help and you speak to someone in India or the Philippines.  Southern California Edison is reportedly bringing in Indian workers to be trained here, then return to their home country to take the jobs of those who did the training.  Honda and Whirlpool are just two of the many manufacturers who have built factories in Mexico that will save those companies millions of dollars in labor costs.  The average worker pay in a Mexican auto assembly plant is $5.64 per hour versus $27.78 per hour in the United States.  All of this is today, before a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is put into place.  Where are the jobs that NAFTA was forecast to bring to America?

The jobs did come to America.  They just aren’t the jobs we had hoped for.  It’s called Logistics. That’s a fancy word for distribution and warehouse jobs.  Those are the jobs of truck drivers, unloading and loading trucks, putting away and pulling products using hand carts, fork lifts, and other warehouse equipment.  Those mostly poor paying jobs are going to the poorly educated including illegal aliens.

Democrats talk a good line but they need the contributions that big business supplies.  Hillary Clinton, as of this date, refuses to take a position on the TPP.  For reasons that are a mystery to me many people believe the Democratic Party is concerned about the shrinking American Middle Class.  There is no evidence that either political party cares one iota.  They do care about money for their next campaign.  Everyone needs to put pressure on their representative (congressman) to stop sending jobs out of the country.

Posted by: coastcontact | April 12, 2015

Hillary Clinton is NOT the Best Choice for President

Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_crop[1]THE MESSAGE – “Middle-class economics a focus of Clinton’s bid,” by AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace: “Boosting economic security for the middle class and expanding opportunities for working families, key issues that her campaign says will be heralded by a results-oriented ‘tenacious fighter.’ … If Clinton’s strategy sounds familiar, it might be because … Obama framed the choice for voters in 2012 as between Democrats focused on the middle class and Republicans wanting to protect the wealthy and return to policies that led to the Great Recession.”

I am an un-loyal Democrat. I re-registered as an Independent in about the year 2000. That was before Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for governor of California (2003). To my Democratic friends I was disloyal.  I voted to remove the Democratic governor, Gray Davis, and install Schwarzenegger. I believe there was one other time I voted for a Republican.

Hillary Clinton is not the best choice for the Democratic Party. She represents positions and behavior that are not in keeping with my views.

My arguments with her are as follows:

  • Voted for the invasion of Iraq. That country has been in chaos ever since.
  • Convinced President Obama that the disposal of Muammar Gaddafi as leader of Libya was the right thing to do. That country has been in chaos ever since.
  • Refuses to provide an explanation of her role in the Benghazi attack. The remark, “What difference does it make?” does not reveal what she knew and when she knew it.
  • Kept all of her e-mail on a separate private e-mail server. She has deleted at least 30,000 messages without any outside review.

Add to that she was intimately involved in her husband’s presidency. That was a presidency that took specific actions that were not in the best interest of the American people.

  • NAFTA was the free trade agreement that was supposed to bring more jobs to the United States. It has not worked out that way. Whirlpool and Technicolor both moved their manufacturing facilities to Mexico. Honda built a new assembly plant in Mexico for sales of their cars in the United States. Mexican agriculture now exports their products to the United States. Every one of those Mexican industries has reduced the number of American jobs. The seeds of NAFTA were planted during the George H. W. Bush administration.
  • It was President Bill Clinton who signed the repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act. Two provisions of that 1933 law restricted affiliations between commercial banks and securities firms. The consequence was greater growth of American banks and ultimately the Great Recession of 2008.
  • China-PNTR Enacted in October 2000. This Act was a crucial step to complete a major trade goal of the Clinton-Gore Administration, opening China’s markets to American manufactured goods, farm products and services by allowing China to become part of the WTO, forcing it to slash import barriers against American goods and services. The act also opened China’s ability to become a prime exporter of their manufactured goods to the United States without tariff barriers.

Has any of the laws she and her husband supported benefited middle class Americans? The answer is obvious. Yes the Republicans do support business over working Americans with arguments that don’t hold water. The problem for Hillary Clinton is that her ideas are no better than those of GOP candidates. Simply saying she wants all children to have the same opportunities as her new granddaughter, Charlotte, does not make it so. She is linked to the wealthy and Wall Street. Her willingness to take America into war is unacceptable.

Posted by: coastcontact | April 9, 2015

Elected to Office but Unaware and Really Don’t Care

Inside the beltway: Is your representative aware of happenings in the world?

As reported in the Los Angeles Times

A bipartisan group of senators is seeking a federal investigation into alleged abuses in a popular visa program that has been linked to layoffs of U.S. workers in favor of cheaper foreign labor, the Los Angeles Times has learned.

“We are concerned about recent information that has come to light regarding the abuse of the H-1B visa program by Southern California Edison (SCE) and other employers to replace large numbers of American workers,” wrote Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip, and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who led the bipartisan group.

All of these senators are in league because they all know they must show concern for their constituents. This is a case of crocodile tears for those who are have lost their job or about to experience the same fate as Edison employees. Our free enterprise system says employers have every right to lower all their costs no matter who is impacted. Bank and technology companies are two of the most obvious adopters of the programs to cut labor costs. The shock is that it has taken this long for our senators to become aware of the outsourcing of American jobs. Maybe it’s not such a shock. After all some senators deny having ever used e-mail.

One must ask, where have these senators been? Haven’t they had at least one situation when they needed telephone help from a company and been transferred to a help line in India or the Philippines? Wait perhaps it is accurate to say they have been unaware. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday March 8 said has never, ever sent an email.

As reported in the New York Times

Nor does Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York. “Maybe once every four months, I do one email,” he said, with evident relish. “I like to communicate by talking directly to people. I find it’s an important part of humanity to understand not just the words that are said, but how they’re said, the tone they’re said in, the speed they’re said with.”

Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist and longtime former Hill staff member, recalled that one of his bosses, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, could not use his BlackBerry “if his life depended on it.”

Luddite: One who fears technology (or new technology, as they seem pleased with how things currently are…why can’t everything just be the same?)

Posted by: coastcontact | April 4, 2015

Ethical Behavior

This is all about politicians. The issue revolves around the words “Everything I have done is within the law.” Former President Bill Clinton asked for a definition of the word “is.” Going back in time former president Richard Nixon said that by definition everything he did was within the law simply because he was president. Clinton was impeached but not found guilty. Nixon didn’t wait to be impeached and simply resigned.

Most recently the questions surrounding Benghazi have continued to haunt Hillary Rodham Clinton. Her refusal to explain what she knew and when she knew it pertaining to the attack on the U.S. consular facility there, continues to be a source of doubt that will only grow more pronounced if she announces her candidacy for president. Why can’t she simply explain her knowledge of the facts? Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server only adds to questions about her honesty.

Robert “Bob” Menendez is the senior United States Senator from New Jersey. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The Justice Department is preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against the senator. Menendez told reporters last Friday night he has “always conducted myself appropriately and in accordance with the law.”

Events in Ferguson, Missouri have resulted in a federal report alleging racially biased policing but the mayor, James Knowles III said that the resignations or firings of six city officials implicated in the scandal have given the troubled city the clean slate it needs to begin the reforming itself. Some in the community have demanded a recall election. He refuses to resign.

Relatives on campaign payrolls? Now, a bill recently introduced by US Representative Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, would prohibit members of Congress from hiring family members through their campaign committees or political action committees and set strict disclosure requirements, as well as other reforms. My guess is that even if passed into law our representatives will find a way to evade such a regulation and claim they are “within the law.”

Will this evasion of the law and a lack of ethical behavior end any time soon? Anyone reading this will not see a change in their life time.

Posted by: coastcontact | April 2, 2015

Remarkable Similarities 2015 to 1938

September 30, 1938
The British Prime Minister has been hailed as bringing “peace to Europe” after signing a non-aggression pact with Germany.

PM Neville Chamberlain arrived back in the UK today, holding an agreement signed by Adolf Hitler which stated the German leader’s desire never to go to war with Britain again.

The two men met at the Munich conference between Britain, Germany, Italy and France yesterday, convened to decide the future of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland.

Winston Churchill, who declared, “You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war.”

April 2, 2015
Pres­id­ent Obama said Thursday that a ma­jor break­through in the in­ter­na­tion­al talks con­cern­ing Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram will bring about a deal that will make the world safer.

Iran is known to have about 19,000 IR-1 centrifuges, often referred to as first-generation machines because they are less sophisticated than newer models. They are installed at two uranium-enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow. Under the tentative deal, Iran has agreed to reduce by about two-thirds its installed centrifuges to 6,104, with 5,060 of these enriching uranium for 10 years.

Last summer, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the country ultimately needed the enrichment capacity of 190,000 first-generation centrifuges to fuel a domestic nuclear-power industry.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long demanded that Iran’s enrichment facilities be entirely dismantled, although last month, he signaled for the first time that he could accept Tehran being allowed a very limited enrichment capacity.

Iran is not to be allowed to deploy newer centrifuges that can enrich uranium more quickly.

For those of you too young to remember: Fifty-two American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days (November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981) by Iran. The story was replicated in the movie Argo.

Chants of “Death to America” are a recent fact. In 2013, a new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, was sworn into office. While more soft-spoken than his predecessor – and widely described as a “moderate” – Rouhani has nonetheless referred to “the Zionist regime” as an enemy nation and pledged to find a way to achieve Khomeini’s long-term goal of ensuring that Israel ceases to exist.

Posted by: coastcontact | March 30, 2015

Iran Doubts

Can the United States and its partners rely on Iran to keep its word on not developing a nuclear weapon?  This summary in the latest edition of The Week magazine should be enough to doubt that Iran is an honest player.

Doubts over Iran Part One

Doubts over Iran Part Two

Posted by: coastcontact | March 23, 2015

American Madness – Right Wing Style

Following is PBS listing of the top 10 positions of Senator Ted Cruz who announced his candidacy for president today.

The Budget and debt: Mandate a balanced budget.

Cruz supports a Constitutional amendment mandating that Congress pass a balanced budget. He argues that this is the best way to cut down deficits and the debt.

Corporations: Slash corporate tax rates to 15 percent. End some programs like the Export-Import bank and federal subsidies for renewable fuels.

Common Core: End it.

Immigration: Block any current effort that lets undocumented immigrants legally remain in the U.S.

The Internet: Do not tax access to the Internet and block “net neutrality.”

Obamacare: Repeal it.

Social Issues: States should be allowed to define “marriage” and set strict abortion limits.

Taxes and the IRS: Move toward a flat tax and abolish the IRS.

Iran: Increase and toughen sanctions. End current nuclear talks until Congress approves the outlines of a deal.

Islamic State: Don’t send U.S. ground troops, yet.

Meanwhile there is an initiative proposal being circulated for signature in California that calls for the state to secede from the United States.  it will take just 365,880 signatures for an initiative to be placed on the ballet in 2016.

Posted by: coastcontact | March 20, 2015

An American Education

Common Core standards were created during the George W. Bush administration. It was, in my opinion, the wisest decision made during his presidency. We now have a list of expectations for every grade level throughout the United States. Those that denounce the setting of standards are supporting mediocrity in our schools.

On December 3, 2013, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced yet again that American students were doing terribly when tested, in comparison to students in sixty-one other countries and a few cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong. Duncan presided over the release of the latest international assessment of student performance in reading, science, and mathematics (called the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA), and Shanghai led the nations of the world in all three categories. Of the 61 nations the United States came in as “average” or 31st place.

I know that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people have written about America’s educational system. Here is my take.

The average American family faces a daunting task sending their children to college. Those children in poorer families where neither parent has a college education has a very poor chance of going to college and if they do, they have no support to reach completion. The problem isn’t just student ability there is a challenge of cost. Rather than provide everyone with an opportunity to obtain a college education we refuse to tax ourselves sufficiently to offer even a free community college education.

The cost of state run universities is high with a cost reaching $3,300 at the University of Oregon per semester to the University of California Los Angeles $6,800 per semester. Obviously private universities cost significantly more.

Is it any wonder that we have a poorly educated society? Those that want the education, whose families lack the money, will simple obtain student loans that will take decades to repay.

Where does this leave America?  The U.S.A. is the giant that no longer wants to make the sacrifices to lead the world.  The consequences will become apparent in the next few decades.

Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 268 other followers