Monday, September 24, 2018

Harvest Moon Tonight!

Photos and a video regarding tonight's Harvest Moon...

 Harvest Moon video recording by Leon Redbone

The Allegations Against Brett Kavanaugh

Brett Michael Kavanaugh was born 12 February 1965 in Washington, DC.  He is a conservative Republican and is currently undergoing confirmation hearings to become a life-time member of the Supreme Court.  He is an attorney and jurist who serves as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
   ****  The following article was written by Li Zhou, and can be found, on-line, at ****
"What We Know - And Still Don't - About the Sexual Misconduct Allegations Against Brett Kavanaugh     
   There Are Now Possibly Three Allegations of Sexual Misconduct.

  Two women have now accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, and attorney Michael Avenatti says that a third has "credible information" as well.
  Christine Blasey Ford, a Palo Alto University professor who's accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assaulting her in high school, and Deborah Ramirez,a former classmate of Kavanaugh's at Yale who's also accused him of sexual misconduct, both want an FBI investigation.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called Sunday night for all confirmation proceedings to halt until an investigation can be conducted.
  A big reason for this push?  The FBI might not be able to weigh in on the credibility of their allegations, but the agency can conduct a fact-finding review that could help shed more light on the alleged incidents, Democrats say.  By doing an in-depth probe - something that would include interviews with witnesses - the FBI could provide a better assessment of the evidence surrounding the allegations.  It's the kind of assessment that especially vital in this case, which has become overrun with misinformation and contradictory accounts, argues Vox's Anna North.
  Absent an official investigation, what we have are Ford, Ramirez and Kavanaugh's own statements, secondhand impressions from other witnesses, and a lot of haphazard character testimony.  Here's what we know so far about what Ford, Ramirez, and Kavanaugh have said, as well as the context that's come out about their respective backgrounds.
     What we know about Christine Blasey Ford's story:
 1.  Christine Blasey Ford first detailed her allegations in a letter shared with Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Sen. Feinstein earlier this summer.  At the time, she requested anonymity.
 2.  Ford publicly came forward in a Washington Post story last Sunday; she accused Kavanaugh of forcing himself on her while the two were at a party in high school.  She says he pinned her down on a bed, attempted to remove her clothing, and covered her mouth when she tried to scream.  Kavanaugh has unequivocally denied these allegations.
 3.  Ford says she did not talk about the allegations with anyone until 2012, during a couples therapy session with her husband. She provided the Post with notes from the therapy sessions in 2012 and 2013 when she described an attempted rape that she experienced while she was in high school.
 4.  In these notes Kavanaugh is not named, but Ford describes an attack by students from an elite boy's school.  These students are now "highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington," she said.
 5.  Ford also took a polygraph test, which indicated the veracity of her claims. (It's worth noting that the reliability of polygraph tests have been heavily scrutinized in recent years.)
 6.  Ford's husband confirms that she mentioned the attack in their 2012 therapy sessions.  He said he recalled her mentioning Kavanaugh by last name.
 7.  A friend of Ford's has said he's witnessed the lasting trauma the attack has had on her life. Jim Gensheimer told the Los Angeles Times that Ford discussed her struggle to come forward with him in early July.
 8.  He added that Ford was averse to purchasing a master bedroom that does not have a second exit. "Obviously, something happened that traumatized her so much that she's afraid of being trapped," he said.
 9.  Ford admits that there are key details about the incident that she does not remember.
 10.  She believes the incident took place when she was 15, in the early 1980s - but she's not clear on the exact ownership and location of the house.  She also says that everyone at the party had at least one beer, but notes that Kavanaugh and a classmate named Mark Judge had been drinking more heavily.
       What we know about Deborah Ramirez's story:
 1.  Deborah Ramirez was a classmate of Kavanaugh's at Yale.  She told the New Yorker's Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer she was attending a dorm room party as a freshman when Kavanaugh "exposed himself ... thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away."
 2.  Ramirez said she was wary of coming forward because she had been drinking at the time of the incident and admits there are holes in her memory.
 3.  She emphasizes, however, that she is certain of the aspects of the allegation that she has detailed.
 4.  "I remember a penis being in front of my face," she told the New Yorker. "I knew that's not what I wanted, even in that state of mind."  She also has a vivid memory of another student yelling, "Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie's face."
 5.  One unnamed classmate of Ramirez and Kavanaugh said he had heard about it secondhand and was 100 percent certain that Kavanaugh was the person who was mentioned.  Richard Oh, a second classmate, said he had also heard of the incident secondhand but could not confirm the identities of those involved.
     What we know about the account publicized by Stormy Daniels's attorney Michael Avenatti:
 1.  Michael Avenatti, an attorney who's recently risen to fame for his representation of Stormy Daniels - a porn actress who alleges that she had an affair with Trump - tweeted on Sunday evening that he was representing a woman who had credible information about Kavanaugh and Judge.
 2.  "My client is not Deborah Ramirez," he added.
 3.  The Senate Judiciary Committee quickly reached out to Avenatti for more details about the information he was referencing and he outlined additional allegations of sexual misconduct about Kavanaugh and Judge.
 4.  Avenatti says that he's "aware of significant evidence of multiple house parties" that took place in the DC area in the 1980s, where he alleges Judge and Kavanaugh targeted women with alcohol and drugs and enabled multiple men to gang rape them.
 5.  In Sunday's New Yorker story detailing Ramirez's allegations, Elizabeth Rasor, a woman who had dated Judge for three years, said she wanted to come forward to rebut claims that Judge has made about the culture of Georgetown Prep.
 6.  She said that Judge had previously confided in her about "an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman."
       What we know about Brett Kavanaugh's version of events:
 1.  Kavanaugh has denied both Ford and Ramirez's allegations completely.  "This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes - to her or to anyone," Kavanaugh said in a statement relayed by the White House, which responded to Ford's allegations. "Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday."
 2.  Judge, Kavanaugh's classmate who Ford has also implicated in the high school incident, has said he has "no recollection" of it. Ford claims that Judge and Kavanaugh were "stumbling drunk" when they pushed her into a bedroom at the party in question.
 3.  She also says that Judge was in the room while Kavanaugh forced himself on her and intermittently offered his encouragement during the encounter.
 4.  "Brett Kavanaugh and I were friends in high school but I do not recall the paryt described in Dr. Ford's letter.  More to the point, I never saw Brett act in the manner that Dr. Ford describes," Judge has said.
 5.  Patrick J. Smyth, another individual who Ford named as being at the party, has denied attending as well.  Both Smyth and Judge have signaled that they are not interested in providing further testimony.
 6.  A fourth person who Ford is believed to have said was at the party, a woman named Leland Keyser, said she does not recall attending the event, according to a New York Times report.
 7.  Keyser informed the Senate Judiciary Committee that she "does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and that she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford."
 8.  Regarding Ramirez's allegations, Kavanaugh released the following statement: "This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name - and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building - against these last-minute allegations."
 9.  Two male Yale classmates whom Ramirez has also allegedly implicated in the incident denied involvement or said they had no recollection of the party.  "I don't think Brett would flash himself to Debbie, or anyone, for that matter," one of the male classmates said.
 10.  Six classmates of both Ramirez and Kavanaugh from Yale have written a letter offering their support for Kavanaugh: "We can say with confidence that if the incident Debbie alleges ever occurred, we would have seen or heard about it - and we did not.  The behavior she describes would be completely out of character for Brett."
       What we know about Georgetown Prep culture and Kavanaugh's time at Yale:
 1.  Kavanaugh, Judge, and Smyth were all students at Georgetown Prep, an elite all-boys private high school in Bethesda, Maryland.
 2.  Former students of Georgetown Prep have described a pervasive culture of heavy underaged drinking.  In his senior-year yearbook entry, Kavanaugh referenced drinking many times, according to the Post.  In those mentions, he said that he was a member of the "Beach Week Ralph Club" and "Keg City Club."
 3.  Judge, who is now a writer and filmmaker, went on to pen a memoir about his personal struggles with alcoholism titled Wasted: Tales of a Gen-X Drunk. In the book, he describes the party culture at his high school, which he renamed "Loyola Prep."
 4.  In Judge's book, there's a character named Bart O'Kavanaugh - who purportedly drinks too much and passes out after attending a party.
 5.  In 2015 remarks, Kavanaugh made passing reference to his time in high school while speaking at Catholic University's Columbus School of Law.
 6.  "Fortunately, we had a good saying that we've held firm to this day, as the dean was reminding me before the talk, which is, 'What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep,' " he quipped as part of his talk.  "That's been a good thing for all of us, I think."
 7.  The New Yorker also pointed out that during the Supreme Court nominee's time at Yale, "Kavanaugh was also a member of an all-male secret society, Truth and Courage, which was popularly known by the nickname 'Tit and Clit.' " He was also a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, which was known at the time for its "wild and, in the view of some critics, misogynistic parties," according to student accounts given to the New Yorker.
     What we've heard about Kavanaugh, Ford, and Ramirez's characters:
 1.  Friends and classmates of both Kavanaugh and Ford, respectively, have put forth an outpouring of support for their respective characters."
 2.  Sixty-five women who said they knew Kavanaugh in high school have signed a letter emphasizing their perceptions of his integrity and decency.
 3.  More than 1,000 women who attended Ford's high school, Holton-Arms, have also signed an open letter expressing their support for her and noting that they believe her.
.......   Nine more points are made.....

We shall see.....

Friday, September 21, 2018

Bits and Pieces

In the last two weeks, Boulder City schools have been placed on lockdown status 6 times because of black bears prowling the area seeking food before hibernating.  This morning and afternoon, two schools were on lockdown because of an adult mountain lion that kept eluding wildlife officers.  This is considered normal in Boulder, as we are in their territory, and the city has multiple greenway paths to facilitate wildlife in their natural movements.

When I moved into the apartment in July of 2015, and Beatrice moved in a month later, we asked the management if we could hang bird feeders in the young ash tree that is growing at the corner of our building.  Bea has great close-up views from her bedroom window, and I have good views from mine, and we can easily observe from our balcony as well.  (The cats watch, too.) We started with a single feeder, and now usually have 3 hanging in the tree.  There is also a hummingbird nectar feeder at the edge of our balcony. 
   We have been graced with awakening to the song of many types of birds since we moved in and began feeding them.  Besides the birds we feed, there are also many swallows with nests nearby, and they are frequently seen swooping through our parking lot, consuming insects, or sitting on signs and observing movements.  We have seen five types of sparrows, two kinds of finches, wrens, chickadees, crows, grackles, ravens, starlings, blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, ducks, and hawks in the trees and bushes near the feeders.  There are also herons flying over, thanks to the creeks (that's why we see ducks), and geese.  We also put out nuts and fruit for the squirrels and larger birds.
   However, 12 days ago everything ceased.  We used to have about 40 small birds flitting around, eating and singing as soon as it was light.  I saw two sparrows today for the first time in 12 days.  We have had one or two jays each morning, come and take a few nuts, call a thank you, and leave.  In the past week, there have only been two squirrels - one is a female and one is a small male with a broken tail.  No other birds.  No other squirrels - and we used to have 8 to 12 here at a single time.  Even the raccoons no longer visit at night.  The hawks are no longer in their nest behind the creek.
  Since we're on one of the greenways, with several multi-use paths converging at the back of our property, I have contacted the city of Boulder and the Greenways and Open Space offices about our sudden and total lack of bird and wildlife activity.  I am still waiting for them to return my contact, which is supposed to be within 5 working days.  I contacted them Monday morning; it's Friday night.

Still giggling over Stormy Daniels' description of the President - "Yeti pubes" and a genital part that looks like the character Toad from the Mario Kart computer game.....

I am incensed by Senator Grassley of the Republican Party and the Senate Judicial Committee's response to the alleged crime of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  They want to get that judge appointed to the Supreme Court without an FBI inquiry into his alleged attempted rape of a co-ed.  They refuse to allow the accuser to have witnesses.  They want a "he says; she says" hearing that they can gloss over.  That man is a walking, talking lie-spewing machine.  If he - somehow - makes it to the seat of the Supreme Court - he needs to be impeached and tried immediately!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Florence Photos - And Elsewhere

Hurricane Florence from the ISS

Jim Cantore on the Weather Channel

Flooding in Fayatteville, NC

Trees down, causing injuries and deaths

Rescues in New Bern, NC

Neuse River flooding at Seven Springs, NC

Sunset last night on Chincoteague Island at the Ropewalk

Boulder, Colorado's Fall Fest -
90 ° weather  Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Hurricane Florence Statistics and Facts

As of 11 am (MDT), Tropical Storm Florence is located at 33.6° N, 79.6° W, or 40 miles west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Florence is currently moving to the west at 2 miles per hour, with winds at 45 miles per hour.  As she moves inland, 40 inches of rain are expected to fall within her path.
   Florence's diameter is 400 miles - she is larger than the country of Paraguay, smaller than Iraq, and about 4 times the size of the state of Ohio.
   River flooding is expected to hit at 17 feet above normal.
   About 2 million people live inside the current evacuation zones.
   About 5.5 million people live in areas that will be affected by Florence.
   Projected damage costs from Florence will probably exceed $30 billion.
   Insurance is hoped to cover $15 to $20 billion of those estimated damages.
   $10 million was recently diverted from FEMA funds to pay for ICE detention centers and deportation efforts against asylum seekers and their children by the current White House administration.
   1,000 commercial airline flights have been canceled, and quite a few more are expecting to be canceled due to the storm.
   Since 1950, four hurricanes of category 3 strength have made landfall on the Atlantic coast between Norfolk, Virginia and Savannah, Georgia.
   The deaths of five people have been confirmed due to Florence.  The storm's powerful winds were the cause of the confirmed deaths. In Wilmington, a tree was blown into a home; a woman and her infant child were killed, while the husband (and father) was transported to the hospital with injuries. The third death occurred in Pender County when a woman suffered a fatal heart attack and first responders could not reach her location due to storm debris in and on the roads.  Two deaths were confirmed in Kinston in Lenoir County, also, according to the County Emergency Services Director, Roger Dail.  A 78-year-old man was electrocuted while trying to connect extension cords outside in the storm.  A 77-year-old man's body was found by his family at 8 am on Friday; he had gone outside to check on his hunting dogs, and apparently was blown down by the wind.
  Additionally a fatality was reported at West Brunswick High School in Shallotte, North Carolina.  The school is being used as an evacuation shelter, and the cause of death and/or it's relationship to Florence is unknown.  A teenager was reported seriously injured when a tree limb fell on both him and his father in Laurinburg, NC on Friday.

    Friday night, the Carteret County Humane Society said floodwaters were entering the kennel area and its roof was collapsing.  The shelter was seeking help to evacuate 123 dogs and cats, according to shelter manager Cassandra Tupaj.  At 7:15 am (EDT) Friday, Florence made landfall at Wrightsville Beach with 90 mph winds, heavy surf, and torrential rain that triggered flooding and knocked down trees and power lines.  Tom Ballance, a New Bern resident and restaurant owner who rode out several previous hurricanes, says he desperately wishes he would've evacuated as he watched the waves crash on the Neuse River right outside his home.  "I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the Earth, " Ballance told the Associated Press.
   Some 100 people were still awaiting rescue this morning in New Bern, but nearly 400 had already been rescued, according to a local official.  New Bern, which has a population of about 30,000, saw significant storm surge flooding after the Neuse River overflowed its banks and swept through the town.
   Officials in Harnett County issued a mandatory evacuation for areas along the Lower Little River.  Authorities went door-to-door this morning, telling residents to get out ahead of the river's expected rise, which could crest at 17 feet above flood stageIt wasn't immediately clear how many residents this evacuation order impacted.
   In Wilmington, Interstate 40 was closed in both directions today because the road was impassable.  Police urged residents to stay away from areas under mandatory evacuations.
   Across the state, more than 800,000 homes and businesses were without power, North Carolina Emergency Management said.

At home, on Chincoteague and Assateague Islands in Virginia and Maryland, it's 76 degrees with a 40% chance of rain.  Rip tides are occurring off the coast, and a coastal flood watch is in effect.

In Boulder, Colorado it's 84 degrees, with 18% humidity; bright and sunny with no cloud cover.  We're under a Red Flag warning for wildfire conditions.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Miscellaneous Photos

Night camera tripped above Boulder

Bears need a lot of calories before hibernation

Do I smell honey on your porch?

Calm before Florence

"Just print more money!"

Early fall in Colorado

Fall cottage contentment

This And That..... Miscellany

With the edges of Hurricane Florence beginning to whip up the waters of South Carolina, my thoughts are with the folks who will be on the front lines when the areas re-open.  Right now, South Carolina is taking the first hits, while the winds will soon impact North Carolina, Georgia, the southern parts of Virginia around the Chesapeake Bay, and possibly all the way down to Daytona beach in Florida.  Florence is a huge storm, and even though she's only a Category 2  at this time, she will probably cause trillions of dollars of damage.
   I was worried about my beloved islands of Chincoteague and Assateague on the Eastern Shore of Virginia (and Maryland) - but it looks like they'll just receive the effects of a really nasty and long-lasting nor'easter.  The folks along the coast lines of the Carolinas, however, are in for a beating from the winds, and a drowning from rains and storm surge.  I feel for those who had to leave their homes, but that is one of the downsides of coastal living.  (Having been in Florida for 38 years, I know what I'm talking/writing about.)

    Last year, Hurricane Maria crashed through the US Territory of Puerto Rico.  Immediately after the storm, the number of dead caused by Maria was listed at 64.  As time has passed, and people have been questioned about health care and the aftermath of Maria, it turned out that the number of deaths related to Maria came to a total of 2,975.  This included those who died from heat prostration, from dehydration, from starvation, from filthy and impure drinking water, from not receiving medical care, etc.  -  And one of the latest finds was 20,000 pallets full of bottled water that have been lost for over a year - laying under tarpaulins where they were deposited, and sitting there while people died.
  Yesterday, as Hurricane Florence approached the United States, the current President denied this had happened.  He tweeted, "3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000."
  The President is refuting studies done by the US government and US universities.

Here in Boulder, a resident can tell that it's fall.  The leaves are changing colors early this year; a lot of juvenile mountain lions are on the move, leaving mom and siblings, and staking out their own territories; and our local population of black bears are raiding garbage cans and cars that have food left inside them.  I live in what is considered "downtown" North Boulder - it's on US 36, the main road from Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park.  A couple of weeks ago, a young (but adult) mountain lion was tranquilized and moved to RMNP from beneath the deck of a house 1/8 mile from US 36, and a couple of blocks from our apartment.  Earlier this week, a friend called to say she had seen a black bear opening trash cans 10 blocks from my apartment, and 6 blocks from her house.  The bears need to consume 15,000 to 20,000 calories per day to hibernate successfully.  And two elementary schools were placed on lock-down due to  the presence of a mother bear and three cubs in there vicinity for a full school day.

Two days ago, Bob Woodward's new book, Fear, was released for sale.  In it, Woodward details a conversation between former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and the 45th President.  They were discussing rising interest rates, the deficit, and the national debt, to which the President offered an interesting solution: "We should just go borrow a lot of money, hold it, and then sell it to make money," the book quotes the President.  Cohn told Woodward that he was "astounded" at the President's "lack of basic understanding" about how the government works, and what borrowing would mean.  When Cohn told the President that wouldn't work, the President came up with an alternative resolution - "Just run the presses," the President told him.  "Print money."  Gary Cohn again tried to explain the basics of debt, inflation, the stock market, and the debt ceiling worked, but the President just kept saying that he should print more money.  Woodward wrote "it was clear that" the President "did not understand the way the US government debt cycle balance sheet worked."
   But this really isn't news.  In May 2016, when the President was running for office, he told CNN's Chris Cuomo, "People said I want to go and buy debt and default on debt, and I mean, these people are crazy. This is the United States government.  First of all, you never have to default because you print the money, I hate to tell you, OK?" 
   Yes, it has been announced that the US will have a $21 trillion national debt at then end of this fiscal year, and not 2020, as previously believed.  But the President believes we can just borrow our way out of debt and then just print more money when he needs it....
   And, with Hurricane Florence about to strike the shore, and with all those other lovely hurricanes lined up behind her, I can't wait to see what this man, who stated, "I, alone, can help you," will do.  Not much, I think.

    It seems that there might be a hold-up in Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court bid...  He has been, apparently, accused of unwanted sexual advances....  The FBI has been asked to investigate, and the voting on his SCOTUS seat has been postponed for a week.

   And it was also announced by ABC News that it appears that Paul Manafort has reached a plea deal with prosecutors in his second trial -  this one for 7 felony accounts including lobbying for a foreign country, not being registered as an agent for a foreign country and tampering with witnesses.  ABC stated that it is believed that the plea deal will be announced tomorrow in the Washington DC court.  At this time it is unknown whether he is just pleading guilty to the charges, or if he will assist Robert Mueller's Special Investigation to keep from spending so much time in jail.  (He is 69 years old.)

Monday, September 10, 2018

Boulder's 1,000 Year Flood Event (With Photos)

My brother-in-law will have his 75th birthday in 5 days.  Five years ago, knowing the family would throw a huge party for his 70th (if he were here), he and my sister left for Washington state for a private celebration without electronics or news alerts.  I stayed at their house while they were gone.  Fourmile Canyon Creek runs at the edge of their property, and the Silver Lake Irrigation Ditch runs through the back yard, and then alongside the creek.  Jim has always been fascinated with water flow in the area, and had stated for years that he'd like to be able to observe a flood event.  He missed it.
  The first week of September 2013 was very warm, with temperatures in the 90s (F) and two high record breaking days.  A cold front was due, and a little rain.  The rain began to fall on 9 September, and the high temperatures dropped by 30 degrees.  In a period of eight days, Boulder, itself, recorded 17.24 inches of rain - almost our yearly average...  the irrigation ditches flooded, streams and creeks flooded.  It was  an amazing event.  I went back to my apartment after the second day of rain, unplugged everything, and placed everything else on counters and tables.  I took my two cats to my sister and brother-in-laws house, which had two stories.
   I went out and about wearing my brother-in-law's fish waders, and helped people in the neighborhood move and adjust their belongings.  There is a slight rise in my brother-in-law's yard and that's what saved his house.  The floodwaters rose in the edges of the yard, but stopped 15 to 20 feet away from the walls and foundations.  They were lucky - especially in the act they had no basement.
  Boulder was hit hard by the flooding 8 people lost their lives; 1,102 people were air-lifted from their homes and/or vehicles, and another 707 were evacuated by boat and road combinations - and that doesn't count pets who were evacuated, too.   All in all, more than 150 miles of county roads were destroyed, and over 1,000 homes were destroyed or damaged.  Reconstruction is continuing today, with the last cost estimate at $3 billion-plus.
  My sister and brother-in-law finally caught a glimpse of the news of the Boulder flooding during the last day of the rain - and it was a YouTube film that the neighbor who lives two doors down had shot, showing the entire street was washed away in front of his home.  I suddenly received a panicked call from Washington state.  I was able to convince them that their property was fine, if water-logged around the edges.  The other neighbors - not so good.  So far, most of their neighborhood has recovered and returned almost to normal - but when it rains and the winds howl, folks look askance at the sky....

My sister and brother-in-law live on Topaz Drive...

 This is a photo of Boulder Canyon


A home in Jamestown, after the water receded

 Topaz Drive, where the road washed away - 50 feet from
my sister and brother-in-law's home