Posted by: coastcontact | May 28, 2015

North Korea’s lessons for an Iran Deal

If you think the Iran nuclear deal is a breakthrough, said Max Boot, in, consider how the same approach worked with North Korea. The 1994 Agreed Framework was supposed to prevent Pyongyang from developing nukes. But North Korea cheated, developed a uranium enrichment program on the sly, and tested its first bomb in 2006.

“Today it is a full-fledged nuclear power.” Last week, Chinese experts warned that Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal is more advanced than previously feared, with an estimated 20 warheads and another 20 on the way over the next year. U.S. defense officials believe North Korea can now feasibly mount a nuclear bomb on an intercontinental ballistic missile, with enough range to hit California. “It’s not too hard to imagine, a decade from now, reading similar reports” about Iran. And whereas North Korea is “a declining, bankrupt” regime whose leadership only wants to stay in power, Iran is an “expansionist state” with oil wealth, hostility toward Israel, and a goal of exporting its Shiite Islamic revolution throughout the region. The U.S. was duped by a untrustworthy dictatorship before. Why repeat that mistake?

Posted by: coastcontact | May 28, 2015

Sports and Money

Underinflated footballs, drugs, bribery and kickbacks. It’s all part of the sports world.

From World Cup venue picks to draws, international soccer has been surrounded by rumors of alleged kickbacks. Whispers around world soccer and kickbacks now scream from headlines. The media has told us what we already suspected. Finally the U.S. Justice department has filed charges against at least nine top ranking officials and they say this is just the beginning.

Consider the annual Tour de France. Lance Edward Armstrong is the American former professional who previously held seven consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005, but was stripped of his titles in 2012 after a protracted doping scandal. Most of us did not care. Maybe we do care. After all Armstrong’s interviews with Oprah Winfrey drew a considerable number of viewers.

Like most high-profile team sports, football and Baseball suffers from recreational drug use. Why do they do it?

The National Football League announced that ESPN had operating income of $1.6 billion in 2013. NBC, CBS, and Fox News all have their own sports channels. ABC owns ESPN.

Football players are likely to be impacted for the rest of their lives from brain injuries. The do make millions of dollars while they are playing.

A football team moving to Los Angeles is all about the best financial deal the club owners can make. Now a bigger and better stadium translates into a move. St. Louis, Oakland, and San Diego are all working on their teams to stay by offering financial incentives and new stadiums.

The most expensive part of pay television is the sport channel fees paid by the providers to the various professional leagues.

What is all of this about? MONEY!

We pay for it but we don’t care. The people who run all of those professional sports teams, college teams and all the other sport events that are broadcast on television are earning millions of dollars. We love the excitement and they love the money.

Posted by: coastcontact | May 24, 2015

Providing the Fighting Forces in the Middle East

Memorial Day is meant to honor those who sacrificed life, limb, body, mind, and soul in the wars that the United States has waged. It is the right thing to do.

Many older Americans remember WWII and to a lesser extent the Korean War as evidence that if the United States brings a military response to a situation the war will be won by America. We are the nation with the most advanced military hardware and we have soldiers that are second to none is the supporting evidence to confirm these beliefs. When it came to Vietnam we saw our views shattered.

The reason is obvious to me. The wars we won were almost unanimously supported by the people we helped. They fought along with us to obtain victory.

Vietnam was different. We fought but many of the South Vietnamese did not support our vision. That opinion is shared by many who were there. Bill Plante, who was a CBS correspondent in Vietnam had this to say this morning on Face the Nation. From the transcript, I marked in bold the words that caught my attention.

BILL PLANTE, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: When I first went there, Bob, in 1964, there were American advisers. We knew that they were helping out and sometimes actually fighting, but we basically bought the notion that they were there to help South Vietnamese.

And by the time I came back a second time in 1967, it was pretty apparent that the Americans were doing all the fighting and the South Vietnamese not doing much.

And the other thing was that what we were seeing in the field didn`t match what the government of the United States was saying both in Saigon and in Washington. Lyndon Johnson was fighting a limited war and they had to sell it to the American public as such, but you could just go on any battlefield or out in the country and see that the facts didn`t match the story.

So, we got what they called the credibility gap. Our — and Morley Safer used to wear a badge that said “I was ambushed at Credibility Gap.”

That brings us to ISIS and the war in Syria and Iraq. Reports appearing on the news just this past day tell and show the Iraqi army that was not outnumbered but were shown driving their vehicles with all their solders away from the battle for control of the city of Ramadi.

So President Obama wants the people of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other Arab states to put their armies on the ground to do the fighting. This would not be fighting for a day or a week but for an extended time, perhaps years. After all it’s their nations that are at risk.

John McCain, Lindsay Graham, John Bolton, and others would have the United States permanently stationed in the Middle East to protect nations that as of now do not want to commit their own citizens to a fight with ISIS. Until they do, why should the United States?

Posted by: coastcontact | May 21, 2015

Cities Grow or Die

Updated May 22, 2015 because of data reported in the Los Angeles Daily News.

Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Baltimore are examples of large cities that are dying.  They all have one common issue. A lack of jobs.  Cities that are thriving are growing and they all have one common reason.  New jobs.  Los Angeles grew in population by 136,243 people since the last census says the U.S. Census Bureau.  That is a growth of just the city and does not include surrounding towns such as Long Beach which have all seen similar or greater population increases.

I live near the very end of the northwest part of Los Angeles. The nearby boulevard ends about 2 miles west of my home. Despite that fact the traffic is busy all of the time. It is obviously crowded during rush hours. Simply put, we have run out of space. The land beyond the end of the city has been set aside as protected land to preserve open space with the idea of establishing a wildlife park to protect both animals and native habitat.

The question is how do we provide housing for the growing population? The answer is more apartments and condominiums. With that conclusion in mind the city has decided to permit that kind of construction. Cities do not remain static. They either grow or shrink. The growth is into the suburbs, more high rise buildings, or a combination. Spread of the Los Angeles area is a fact and is probably known throughout the world. The travel times has become nightmares for some people driving as long as two hours to get to work. Finally the city has become wiser and now has started permitting the dreaded high rise housing. Many in our city are continuing to fight this kind of construction.

Thus we have arrived at a time when many new proposals are being submitted to neighborhood councils and the city council for approval. In my area:

  •  Two part with phase 1 for the construction of a 7-story, 193,000 sqft building to house 170 apartments including 13 live-work units and 5,700 sqft restaurant. There will also be parking for 258 cars and 196 bikes.  The 2nd phase is for the construction of 166,000 sqft commercial office building with 10,000 sqft for restaurant and retail space. There will also be parking for 490 cars and 254 bikes. The office buildings being replaced are modern two story structures.
  •  A 707 unit apartment complex that was the home of Panavision manufacturing consisting of a one story building and parking lot.
  •  A 300 unit apartment complex most likely replacing one or two story office buildings.
  •  A 4,000 multifamily unit development on the former Rocketdyne facility that is expected take 10 years to complete. That project is in the design phase and has not been released for public scrutiny. The information released to date says that the buildings will vary in height from 6 to 18 stories high.
  • The former Catalina Yachts manufacturing site will be converted into 600 units.

That is a total of 5,777 housing units which more than likely means an additional 11,000 people and their cars added to already congested boulevards. To make the additional housing more palatable new nearby shopping centers and business offices will provide jobs.

Westfield Village #3

You don’t like it? Some alternative places to live are Fresno, California and Medford, Oregon. Those are two nice communities that are not faced with large growth but do offer a pleasant climate and many of the benefits of larger cities. 

Posted by: coastcontact | May 16, 2015

The Benefit of Adobe Photoshop Elements

Despite what others may say, this program is not easily used beyond crop and changing brightness/contrast of a photo.  Thanks to a class at my local community college I have learned enough to make significant changes to a photo and now can understand the book I bought that was supposed to be the answer to “how to.”  The class is a Photoshop hands on experience not a Photoshop Elements class.  However everything that was taught is in Photoshop Elements.  With a little effort I have found most of the tools.

Artist Chris Burden was the creator of this amalgamation of Los Angeles city street lights.  The lights really do turn on every night.  Mr. Burden collected and restored dozens of city street lamps at his Topanga Canyon studio. Eventually they became his installation at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).

My photo was taken in the afternoon when shadows really darkened the entire display.  The first photo below is the original.  The second is my efforts using Photoshop Elements.  I outlined and lightened just the lights and then lightened the entire photo a little more.  The squiggly line along the outside base show the boundary of the outlined area.  The red line was not there at the far left side in the original photo (probably a step safety marker).


P1000613 edited

Posted by: coastcontact | May 15, 2015

When Murderers Deserve the Death Penalty

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death. It took six years to execute Timothy McVeigh after he was found guilty of killing 168 people, including 19 children at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

Massachusetts isn’t OK with the death penalty (under state law no one has been executed since 1947), but Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s outrageous crime may have changed the minds of many Massachusetts citizens. Which brings up the question under what circumstances is the death penalty justified? Is it multiple killings or the savagery of the killings or is that the killer shows no remorse or what else?

At the end of the day there are reasons for determining that someone has committed a crime that is so heinous that there can be no other penalty than death. Massachusians will have to make that decision just as the citizens of every state must reach a decision.

The Total Number of Death Row Inmates as of January 1, 2015: 3,019California, 743, Oklahoma, 49, Kansas, 10. Florida, 403, Mississippi, 48, etc.

What right do these killers have to live?  The killing of even one person is justification for the death penalty with limited appeals for those found guilty.

Posted by: coastcontact | May 13, 2015

Presidential Contradiction

President Barack Obama continues to be a mystery to me. Both in domestic and foreign affairs he speaks words and take actions that contradict.  His actions are really alarming.

He raised the troop levels in Afghanistan saying that the United States was there and we were responsible for the outcome.  Then he decided to withdraw all of our troops.

“Assad must go” were Obama’s words.  Use of chemical weapons was declared a red line but no troops were sent to Syria.  Instead Russia provided the president with a way out of the dilemma of his own making.

Ukraine has been part of the Russian empire for over 100 years.  My grandparents left Russia in about the year 1900.  Actually they left Ukraine. Watch “Fiddler on the Roof.”  The fear of the Jews was of the Czar of Russia.  Today the United States is contemplating aid to Ukraine to fight Russia.  Or are we contemplating aid?

The president has been a leading spokesman in the battle to reduce carbon emissions.

He does not want to approve the XL Pipeline.  He set aside additional areas of Alaska where oil exploration will be prohibited.  Now he has approved the building of an oil exploration derrick in the Bearing Sea to be built and maintained by Shell Oil.

Obama has said he is concerned about the shrinking middle class but still he wants to implement a free trade agreement that will enable more jobs to be outsourced to countries that have low paid labor that will benefit business with higher net income.

Perhaps it’s the stress of the job as president that has caused Barack Obama to pursue so many contradictory decisions.  Then again there might be some conflicts of interest.  No matter what the cause his decision making is making other nations uncomfortable and causing Democrats and the entire American population to wonder about the decision making process.

Posted by: davidbancroft | May 7, 2015

Killing the Iran deal could backfire

If Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu succeeds in getting Congress to kill President Obama’s deal with Iran, “it may be a Pyrrhic victory, said Ben-Dror Yemini in Yedioth Ahronoth (a national daily newspaper published in Tel Aviv, Israel). Of course the agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear programs in exchange for lifting of sanctions is terrible. The draft deal is full of loopholes and will lend legitimacy to the Islamic Republic’s repressive and dangerous theocracy. Most Arab countries are against the deal and privately support Netanyahu’s position rather than Obama’s. But America is still our most important ally and an even more open rift with the Obama administration could hurt. “Humiliating the president of the United States could evoke anti-Semitic blast waves” by seeming to give evidence to those who argue that rich Jews manipulate world events.

Even in the U.S., there is “an anti-Zionist coalition radical left and radical right” that would ramp up its anti-Semitic propaganda to frightening heights.” Instead of publicly defeating Obama by lobbying Congress, Netanyahu do far better to persuade the president to “climb down,” perhaps by pointing out that Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khomeini is already backtracking from the deal as framed. Netanyahu needs to remember that while “Obama is wrong, he isn’t an enemy.”

Posted by: coastcontact | April 29, 2015

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for President of the United States

Bernie Sanders

A self-avowed socialist and long serving Independent, Senator Bernie Sanders seems to hold views that coincide with mine on so many issues.

Among his proposals, Sanders calls for free college tuition, a $1-trillion program to rebuild the nation’s roads and bridges, government-run healthcare, higher taxes on the wealthy and publicly funded elections to reduce the influence of the country’s rich donors. He would break up the nation’s big financial institutions, and he opposes trade agreements, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that President Obama is pushing, which Sanders says have punished workers by shipping jobs overseas.

We are living in a global society and that changes everything for the United States. Wages in Indonesia are as low as 50 cents an hour. Wages in China and the Philippines are about $2.50 an hour. Mexican wages are about $5.50 an hour. Those people aren’t stupid. They just earn less than Americans. We need to make our country the “go to” place for products and ideas that the world wants. To accomplish that goal we must provide a better educated society with the infrastructure to compete.

Social issue solutions, even if they can be found, will not make America more successful in the 21st century.

Posted by: coastcontact | April 22, 2015


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.

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