Thursday, January 09, 2014

The summer 'down under' is proving brutal.

Updated Wed 8 Jan 2014, 5:30pm AEDT

The Bureau of Meteorology (click here) hopes a new heatwave forecast service will help people better plan for the impacts of extreme heat events.
The heatwave forecast will map areas across Australia that are expected to have unusually hot conditions over a period of four days.
It will define three grades of heatwave, with severe and extreme heatwave posing the most serious risk to people and infrastructure.
Assistant director of the Bureau's weather services Alasdair Hainsworth says the pilot service will compliment current forecasts and help reduce the human and economic impact of heatwaves.
“The heatwave service provides a measure of the build-up of ‘excess’ heat and will provide a more advanced indicator than temperature alone in anticipating the impact of heat stress,” he says.
“The pilot service uses a heatwave intensity index that assesses the build up of heat over a period of time, taking into account the long-term climate of a location and the maximum and minimum temperatures leading up to a heatwave event."

CANBERRA, Australia January 9, 2014 (AP)
By ROD McGUIRK Associated Press

Bats are dropping from trees, (click here) kangaroos are collapsing in the Outback and gardens are turning brown. While North America freezes under record polar temperatures, the southern hemisphere is experiencing the opposite extreme as heat records are being set in Australia after the hottest year ever.
Weather forecasters in Australia said some parts of the sparsely populated Pilbara region along the rugged northwest coast were approaching 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) on Thursday. The record high of 50.7 degrees Celsius (123.3 F) was set in 1960 in Oodnadatta, South Australia state.
Outback resident Gian Tate, 60, spends much of the day soaking in a small wading pool at her home near Emu Creek in the Pilbara region, a remote area off the electric grid. The thermometer outside her home registered 50 degrees Celsius (122 F) on Wednesday, she said. Tate and her husband rely on two electric fans to cope with the oven-like heat and rarely turn on the small air conditioner in their bedroom because of the high cost of fuel to run their generator.
"We've just got to live with it; there's nothing you can do," she said.
Brazil is also sizzling, with the heat index reaching 49 degrees Celsius (120 F). Zookeepers in Rio de Janeiro were giving animals ice pops to beat the heat....

Simba the lion licks frozen meat at the city zoo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. It’s so hot, animals at the Rio de Janeiro zoo won temporary relief Wednesday with popsicles made from tropical fruits, chunks of meat and frozen yogurt. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo) (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

I'd be careful of the venom. I'm hearing a lot of it. Professionalism is far more dignified. I think there is work to be done.

A Deputing Chief of Staff is responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the bureaucracy, as well as such other duties as the Chief of Staff assigns to him or her.

There can be significant speculation to the motives of the Christie staff especially if there were judicial nominee offended. But, that is speculation. It would be better for all involved, especially Democrats, if facts and not speculation was levied. I think venom will estrange voters.

Facts bite harder than fiction. For all the speculation if there are no facts it will only prove the lack of bipartisan spirit in the New Jersey legislature. Currently, in DC, the Republicans are carrying the burden of venom and people don't like it.

A Chief of Staff and a Deputy Chief of Staff are very powerful people. They act autonomously to facilitate the smooth operation of government. Smooth operation of government and solving problems is what people have and will elect to office. 

If the Christie staff was more and more frustrated about nominations to the court they could have come up with a strategy to defeat Democrats to effect a different percentage in the next election. It makes sense, but, unless there are facts it is best to address the legislative calender and continue the smooth operation of government. Legislators may have relevant facts that can be submitted to the investigation and if that is the case, then they should submit it. But, I would not make a public spectacle of the initiatives to resolve 'the truth' of this political disaster.

Pulling apart Governor Christie's press conference isn't going to do anything. I realize the Right Wing media does that all the time, but, does the legitimate media actually want to follow that example? I think not.

The family of the 91 year old woman that died has stated they believe it was of natural causes. I suppose the doctors can speak better to that reality than the family, but, the chance is the MDs would say the same thing. There is also a death certificate.

There is a federal investigation engaged today and that makes me more comfortable because it dissolves the idea of partisan opportunities. Basically, a disinterested party. I would think everyone would welcome that interest by the federal authorities.

It is a serious incident and no one wants to sweep it under the rug, but, there is a very real chance Governor Christi didn't know. 

I think this episode of what is obviously vengeful has put a spotlight on the intense politics in a Republican Governor's office in New Jersey. It is my guess most of his initiatives are difficult to pass through the legislature. It is somewhat the opposite of what President Obama is experiencing in DC.

I think the situation needs vigilance, but, not venom. People will value the truth and embrace the resolve to the New Jersey legislature and any federal interest and findings of both. 

I also find it disappointing the New Jersey Legislature would not allow at least one of the Christi nominees to go forward. Bipartisanship has it's benefits in the real world and the NJ Democratic Committee needs to reflect on that. He is an elected Governor. The Democrats need to reflect on the possibly they are alienating their electorate and seek to conduct their business in the legislature and allow the investigations to go forward. If nothing else there will be a White Paper written on it. The incident won't disappear and the findings will be valued. I just would like to see the Democrats to be valued at the end of all this as well. They are good people and sincerely concerned for the New Jersey citizens. I'd would like them to remain in positions to maintain that reality.

I'll be darn, it is getting warmer. No ice age, huh?

January 3, 2014
1415 GMT
Current Temperatures

January 9, 2014
1945 GMT
Current Temperatures

The change in temperature in the Midwest over the past 24 hours is really significant and not at all what one would call normal seasonal temperature changes.

January 9, 2014
2007 GMT
Temperature Change in the Past 24 hours

The snow cover across the USA is greater than before the Polar Vortex migrated to the lower latitudes. That snow at lower altitudes will melt as the temperatures increase.

The snow melt will be better this year so long as the reservoirs catch it as it happens. They need to be sure the flood gates are closed, if there is no current flooding.

January 9, 2014
1300 GMT
Current Snowcover

There WERE protocols for traffic studies. Did the Christie administration wander into territory without following protocol. Maybe?


As of 11:34am, (click here) there's Construction on the George Washington Bridge eastbound between New Jersey Side/Lower Level in Fort Lee and New York Side/Lower Level in Manhattan. Right lane closed until further notice.

From a 2003 document entitled: Portway Extensions Concept Development Study Final Report

Traffic data were requested and received from the New York State Thruway Authority, New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA), MTA Bridges and Tunnels (MTA), and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and the CPIP consortium. The comprehensiveness and format of the data provided varied according to the availability from the various authorities. Data were compiled for the following locations:...

Page 2

...·  Route 21 between US 1&9 & Broad Street, Newark (NJDOT)
·  New Jersey Turnpike between Interchange 14 & 14A (NJTA)
·  New Jersey Turnpike between Interchange 14 & 15E (NJTA)
·  New Jersey Turnpike between Interchange 15E & JE (NJTA)
·  New Jersey Turnpike between Interchange JW & 15W (NJTA)
·  Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (MTA)
·  Goethals Bridge (The Port Authority of NY & NJ)
·  George Washington Bridge (The Port Authority of NY & NJ)
·  Holland Tunnel (The Port Authority of NY & NJ)
·  Lincoln Tunnel (The Port Authority of NY & NJ)
·  Outerbridge Crossing (The Port Authority of NY & NJ)
·  Pulaski Street at Port Jersey Boulevard (Jersey City)...

This is an old picture, but, an illustration that is valid just the same (click here).

Figure 15-1: Inductive Loop Detector System (Reference 12)

Usually traffic studies involve the placement of 'pressure strips' across a road.

Is there reason to proceed with an investigation. Sure. A government is laws. New Jersey is a very well established state with solid statutes. There are reasons for them and the fiasco that occurred in Fort Lee is a prime example. Lives were effected.

Did the people in the Christie Administration act maliciously? I don't think so and I would say so if I thought that. But, the fact of the matter is there should be a paper trail to a traffic study. If the administration decided they needed to conduct this emergently, then there is still this. (click here)

I take Governor Christie at his word. Why? Because his history dictates actions as a US Attorney acting against this exact type of corruption. Someone like Chris Christie doesn't change colors over night. He would break hearts if he changed that much after so many people believed he was a decent man. I am not saying all those hurt by such a change in character would agree with his policies, but, a person true to his values is hard to find. There is plenty of room for disagreement with his policies and politics, but, where this falls into the category of a violation of trust is if his public face was truly false. I have a difficult time believing he is that deceptive. He has to know that many State Governors have gone on to be President and the importance of morality, ethics and character is very important. I simply don't believe he would be this irreverent to the Public Trust. 

Regardless, of the integrity of the truth of the Governor, there were huge mistakes made and there were effects on people's lives. There needs to be a conclusion to this incident and a call for any others that might resemble this violation of the Public Trust in the state. Many reasons exist for exploring this including budget cuts and any personnel reduction. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation. Procedures are important for very real reasons.

Governor Christie is correct. He should not be involved in the investigation because of conflict of interest.

Larry Klayman is becoming a nuisance to the US Justice Department.

Mr. Klayman is a conservative lawyer who founded "Judicial Watch." He is not a minor player. He carries brevity. He can shake loose the elements of law most don't recognize as relevant.

Larry Klayman, (click here) founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, is known for his strong public interest advocacy in furtherance of ethics in government and individual freedoms and liberties. During his tenure at Judicial Watch, he obtained a court ruling that Bill Clinton committed a crime, the first lawyer ever to have done so against an American president. Larry became so famous for fighting corruption in the government and the legal profession that the NBC hit drama series "West Wing" created a character after him: Harry Klaypool of Freedom Watch. His character was played by actor John Diehl....

Published time: January 09, 2014 13:36

Lawyers from the Justice Department (click here)
have urged a judge to halt a lawsuit against the NSA’s spy programs. This comes after the judge’s previous ruling that the NSA’s collection of metadata was likely unconstitutional and "almost Orwellian" in nature.

On Wednesday, government lawyers appealed to US District Court Judge Richard Leon to put court proceedings on hold for two lawsuits against the NSA filed by conservative legal activist, Larry Klayman.
Klayman has challenged the legality of the NSA’s programs that collect and store the metadata of American citizens on a massive scale.
The lawyers argued that if the lawsuits were allowed to go further, they would lead to the disclosure of classified information which would represent a “significant risk” to national security.
“Plaintiffs have made clear their intentions to seek discovery of this kind of still-classified information, concerning targets and subjects, participating providers, and other operational details of the challenged NSA intelligence programs,” said the motion.
In this way, the lawyers want the lawsuits suspended until the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit hears an appeal of Judge Leon’s December-16 ruling that the NSA’s gathering of massive amounts of metadata probably went against the constitution. The US Department of Defense appealed the ruling on January 3....

In all honesty, I don't think the particulars of this NSA program will be realized for another 20 years when some information starts to become declassified. The best position of US Justice at this point is to examine the records available to them and decide if any can be declassified so the public understands better the use of the program. If US Justice can't or won't speak intelligently to the public so they can resolve their anxiety over the program, then it is a matter of vigilance to prevent citizen detentions without representation for the next 20 years. Keep it in the public eye. The lawsuits may fail.

The outcome of the lawsuits will depend on the 'comfort' the Judge has with the material of the program and the actions of US Intelligence in it's role in National Security. I think in order to WIN in these lawsuits it will be a Judge with FISA experience and known to err on the side of Civil Liberties. I am not sure who that might be right now, but, that is the best hope for a fair hearing.

Judge Leon is an interesting guy, BUT, I am not convinced he is as comfortable with the 'unknown' so much as the known. FISA is about the unknown. Judge Leon, while an interesting Judge, his experience is mostly based in sifting through known information. Iran-Contra and Gitmo detainees. But, he has to be given a legal statue that assails the 'unknown' activity of US intelligence. I don't know if there is anything sufficient to bring the US Justice Department and the NSA to a stop in this program. Whatever decision he makes almost seems to me would be nullified by any subsequent request to FISA. 

There is this:

Sep. 26, 2013 7:00 am
After President Richard Nixon (click here) left office in 1974, a bipartisan congressional investigation discovered many of his constitutional excesses. Foremost among them was the use of FBI and CIA agents to spy on Americans in violation of federal law and the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution....

Calling up the ghost of Nixon. In other words, is the program conducted by the NSA a RETURN to Nixon's abuses? That would put the actions of the NSA in direct violation of the USA Constitution. It would then require an amendment to the Constitution in order to allow the government this level of invasive surveillance in regard to Civil Liberties. 

In that, is a moral and ethical aspect that is problematic and has to be answered by the legal profession. By returning to a lower level of surveillance as dictated by the US Constitution, in fact, is the legal maneuvers putting national security at risk in a NEW AGE of danger. The legal profession has to answer that. They are vulnerable citizens, too. But, if that is the fact, then there is a new precedent that defines Civil Liberties that even the legal profession won't assail.

It is problematic because allowing such precedent determines the future even after this 'so called' danger resolves. I don't think we have a choice but to insist these programs are rolled back to the limits of FISA, otherwise, free speech becomes oppressed. Americans will have to assume some responsibility for their own safety in these issues. 

A lot is at stake and the profession has to see their way to exacting facts and clear opinions to define their own position in regard to surveillance. See, up to now, the government is considered correct and necessary in their actions. The government is considered innocent because there aren't American detainees piling up in prisons. The real problem is THE POTENTIAL to that in the wrong hands. So a presiding judge would have to see the potential and validate it as too dire a possibility to hamper Justice from defending the NSA to this extent.