Thursday, September 29, 2022

Harry Dunn Case Finally Has a Criminal Court Hearing, But Defendant Stays Out of the Jurisdiction

It was all of six minutes long and entirely administrative, with the only result being that the American defendant was ordered to appear at another court on October 27 where she will be charged. Exactly with what remains to be determined. The prosecutors want to charge her with dangerous driving - which carries a 14 year maximum - and the defendant's side wants to plead guilty to a lesser charge of careless driving.

Of course, the basic reality is that the defendant is agreeing to participate in this trial purely out of concern for the overall diplomatic relationship between our two countries, I assume. The UK High Court has already affirmed that she had immunity to the criminal jurisdiction of the UK, and that is an ironclad defense against even so much as having to give testimony, much less to ever returning to the UK.   

Far and away the best reporting on today's hearing was in this Daily Mail UK article. With all that dialog it seems like a practically verbatim transcript. 
Her lawyers indicated she would plead guilty to the lesser charge of death by careless driving, which carries the maximum of five years imprisonment, the court heard.

Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf by the US government following the collision outside RAF Croughton, and was able to leave the UK 19 days after the incident.

Wearing a blue suit jacket and a spotted scarf, she appeared next to her lawyer Amy Jeffress via video-link from the United States for the six-minute hearing.

Harry's parents Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, alongside Harry's twin brother Niall, arrived wearing either a green tie or a green scarf in memory of the teenager.

Sacoolas looked straight ahead throughout the hearing.

Asked to confirm her name she said: 'Hi, I'm Anne Elizabeth Sacoolas.'

She went on to confirm her date of birth as August 28, 1977.

Her barrister, Ben Cooper, KC, said: 'I just wish to confirm for the record there is no indication of plea in relation to the charge of death by dangerous driving.

'There will in due course be a guilty plea to the charge of death by careless driving.'

Prosecutors will have to decide whether that plea is acceptable to them or not, the court heard.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson, KC, said: 'She is charged with causing death by dangerous driving which is an indictable only offence and we therefore invite her case to be sent to the Crown Court.'

The offence of causing death by dangerous driving carries the maximum of 14 years.

Sending the case to the Old Bailey, chief magistrate Paul Goldspring told the defendant: 'I hope you followed most of that.

'The first thing I have to do is send your case to the crown court.

'I'm going to grant you unconditional bail in this case - that means there are no restrictions from the court on you.'

The chief magistrate told Sacoolas she would be required to appear in person at the Old Bailey.

He said: 'That may change because there will be a joint application to allow you to attend by video-link as you have today.

'Do you understand?'

Sacoolas replied: 'Yes.'

The Dunn family told the PA news agency they would not be commenting on the case until the conclusion of criminal proceedings.

Sacoolas, whose address was not provided to the court as the chief magistrate was content with her lawyer's address being provided instead, was granted unconditional bail to appear at the Old Bailey on October 27.
Note that the defendant has local British representation, and from a "formidable defence advocate" no less.
A "formidable defence advocate" who "is tireless in representing defendants." He is particularly experienced at handling US extradition requests and also highly capable of conducting extradition cases relating to complex human rights issues." One of the best senior juniors in extradition. He completely immerses himself in the case." "His dedication to the cause is impressive. He is very well known for high-profile American cases, which he does very well due to his extensive experience." - Chambers and Partners 2019
That phrase he's “one of the best senior juniors” has a little Monty Python-ish feel, doesn't it? Well, senior / junior or what have you, the Barrister will get even more well known for handling high-profile American cases after this one.

Lastly, there are the parents and family of the victim. They have shown an impressive message discipline the last several months, avoiding public events and media opportunities. They didn't even show up for the lame motorcycle protest at U.S. Embassy London on the third anniversary of their son's death. Their horrendous advisor has done all the media work lately, and that has amounted to little more than a few re-tweets. 

I can only read between the lines, but it seems that the family's demands for maximum criminal punishment have tied the hands of the Crown Prosecution Service until now, just as they seem to have screwed the pooch by rejecting an initial settlement offer and driving their first set of U.S. lawyers away in the civil suit that was finally settled one year ago this month. 

Now that the defendant has offered a guilty plea to the lesser offense of careless driving probably followed by some court-ordered community service in the USA, will the prosecutors allow the family's demand for emotional satisfaction to override their judgment as to what's achievable when you have a defendant who has diplomatic immunity and doesn't actually have to play along with any Crown court?

I give it only 50-50 odds that the CPS will accept that offer. 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

POTUS In London: You Die, We Fly

He and his retinue, almost alone among heads of state attending the funeral, will not queue up to ride in electric buses for the ceremony. No, POTUS will have his customary G-ride which will be surrounded by seemingly dozens of the most heavily armored support vehicles on earth, and none of them green. 

On a totally unrelated matter, isn't that British term "queue" rather poetic? The first letter says it all, and is followed by four more letters that wait silently in line.  

Friday, September 16, 2022

I've Seen 4 and I've Seen 8 (percent inflation), I've Seen Sunny Days and Higher Market Rates


I didn't know until today that old song is about suicide, heroin addiction, and a mental hospital. It's true. Here's an old NPR story about it, Fire and Rain:
Taylor wrote "Fire and Rain" in 1968. The song has three verses. One is about a friend who committed suicide, another is about Taylor's addiction to heroin, the third refers to a mental hospital and a band Taylor started called The Flying Machine.
Those are weirdly appropriate references if Taylor wants to be the troubadore for Biden's upbeat publicity event about consumer price inflation, which is currently eating away at the value of all your money at an annual rate of over eight percent. It's insane to deny that reality, but our government is addicted to spending, and we'll need to put the economy in treatment for a long time before it begins to recover. 

Biden, by the way, keeps declaring victory over inflation even as objective reality (and the NYT) tells us the Consumer Price Index has hit new highs and the stock market new lows.

Inflation was bad in 1968, too, at over 4 percent, but not half as bad as it is today, when we are seeing the largest increase in forty years (9.1 percent for the year that ended in June, 2022). 

Call me crazy, but when I watch the new-ish White House spokesperson, Karine Jean-Pierre (pronounced Cringe John P Air, I think), dismiss the realities of the latest inflation report, I have never missed Marie Harf more. 

Marie, if you're out there, please take a job at the White House and save these people from themselves.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

HRC Had Exactly 193 More Than Zero Emails That Were Classified

"The fact is that I had zero emails that were classified." 

Oh, really? The FBI and the DOJ Inspector General have shown otherwise. So did the IGs at DOS and the Intelligence Community as long ago as 2014. In fairness, there was some back-and-forth over details at first – such as whether the emails were classifiable at the time they were drafted or only became classifiable later – and there was quibbling, such as Senator Feinstein’s excuse that Hillary didn’t send any of the classified emails that she received on her personal server, but all that dust had settled by 2018 when the DOJ Inspector General issued a 500-page report that is the last word on the matter of Hillary’s emails. 

Specifically, that last word was: “193 individual emails that were classified from the CONFIDENTIAL to TOP SECRET levels at the time the emails were drafted on UNCLASSIFIED systems and sent to or from Clinton’s personal server … Seven of the 81 email chains contained information associated with a Special Access Program (“SAP”).” 

The OIG report even quotes former FBI official Peter Strzok, whose utter hated of Trump is beyond question, as noting that the FBI’s belated discovery of emails which had classification markings on them disproves Hillary’s flat denial that she had ever received material that was marked classified. 

Here’s the key passage from that DOJ report, on pages 74 and 75: 

None of the emails, including those that were found to contain classified information, included a header or footer with classification markings. As we discuss further in Chapter Seven, this absence of clear classification markings played a significant role in the decision by the Midyear prosecutors to recommend to Attorney General Lynch in July 2016 that the investigation should be closed without prosecution. According to the LHM [the FBI’s closing Letterhead Memorandum (LHM) summarizing the Clinton email server investigation], the FBI, with the assistance of other USIC [U.S. Intelligence Community] agencies, identified “81 email chains containing approximately 193 individual emails that were classified from the CONFIDENTIAL to TOP SECRET levels at the time the emails were drafted on UNCLASSIFIED systems and sent to or from Clinton’s personal server.” In other words, the USIC agencies determined that these 81 email chains, although not marked classified, contained information classified at the time the emails were sent and should have been so marked. Twelve of the 81 classified email chains were not among the 30,490 that Clinton’s lawyers had produced to the State Department, and these were all classified at the Secret or Confidential levels. Seven of the 81 email chains contained information associated with a Special Access Program (“SAP”), which witnesses told us is considered particularly sensitive. The emails containing Top Secret and SAP information were included in the 30,490 provided to the State Department. 

In June 2016, near the end of the investigation, investigators found three email chains, consisting of eight individual emails, that “contained at least one paragraph marked ‘(C),’ a marking ostensibly indicating the presence of information classified at the CONFIDENTIAL level.” According to a June 13, 2016 text message exchange between Strzok and Page, the emails containing the “(C)” portion markings were part of the 30,490 that Clinton’s attorneys had provided to the State Department in 2014 but the FBI did not notice them until June 2016 after the IC IG discovered them. By that point in time, as discussed in Chapter Six below, Comey had been drafting his statement announcing the closing of the investigation. Strzok wrote to Page that “DoJ was Very Concerned about this .... Because they’re worried, holy cow, if the fbi missed this, what else was missed?” Strzok further wrote, “No one noticed. And while minor, it cuts against ‘I never send or received anything marked classified.’” According to the prosecutors, Mills, Abedin, and Jake Sullivan were each parties to at least one email in the chains with the (C) markings. However, none of them were ever asked about the emails, because the FBI had not discovered the markings before their interviews and did not seek to reinterview them.

Oh yes, the little "(C)" marking. Bill Clinton, in a rare wingman role, once tried to explain that away.

Here's a link to the report, "A Review of Various Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election" dated June 2018.

So she did have emails on her private server that were classified, all the way up to the TS and SAP levels. That is a fact, and by now it's old news. 

How does Hillary expect to get away with denying that reality today, you might wonder? Well, the same way she has always gotten away with it in the past. Deny, deny, deny, and wait for your embarrassed voters and supporters to drop the subject. 

There must be a reason why hardly anyone names their daughter Hillary anymore. See this WaPo story for a chart that shows the popularity of the name taking a drastic nosedive in 1992. That was the same year Bill Clinton first ran for President and the American public were introduced to the Lady Macbeth of Little Rock. The Ozark Evita. 

Possibly the name suffers from the moral exhaustion that comes from ignoring Hillary’s endless lies and prevarications. Don’t take my word for it; even her supporters can only shake their heads sadly when her lies run up against an IG report, as they have done before.


How does she keep getting away with it? I suppose, like Bill Clinton, her superpower is the ability to make other people lower their standards. 

It’s never really politically convenient to hold either of them to account, so Official Washington and its news media establishment will only shake their heads yet again and move on.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Battling Chinese Encroachment Into Our Arctic Interests

The Department is looking for a Chief of Mission who can handle cold temps and long, dark, winters. 

Establishing an Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region
The Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region will advance U.S. policy in the Arctic, engage with counterparts in Arctic and non-Arctic nations as well as Indigenous groups, and work closely with domestic stakeholders, including state, local, and Tribal governments, businesses, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, other federal government agencies and Congress. The United States remains committed to constructive cooperation in the Arctic, foremost through the Arctic Council, and the Ambassador-at-Large will work in close partnership with the U.S. Senior Arctic Official, the federal Arctic science community, and the Arctic Executive Steering Committee. 
We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with the Congress to swiftly confirm the Ambassador-at-Large, once a nomination is sent to the Senate.
For once, wealthy Donor-Ambassadors will not elbow their way to the front of the line. 

I'd get in line for that job myself, since I've always wanted to go to the artic. I already have a good down jacket, and I think that my old magnetic compass will work above the artic circle.

At a minimum I could TDY-it to that new mission. If they need a frozen Fortress Embassy there I'll be right on it.

On Third Anniversary, Harry Dunn Supporters Continue to Search For Unspecified Justice

The GB News story was typical of UK media this weekend, that is, lots of calls for "justice" but no details about what that would mean, exactly. 

Oddly, the family did not show up in any news media interview or public event. Their spokesman was reduced to retweeting news articles on the anniversary observance and inviting supporters to light cyber candles. 

The only concrete action was taken by a small group of bikers - hardly more than a dozen, judging from photos - who parked their bikes in a pedestrian garden in the vicinity of U.S. Embassy London and ran their engines and horns for one minute.

So, take that, Uncle Sam! (Assuming, of course, that whoever was present in the embassy on a Saturday morning could hear anything through the blast-resistant windows of the building.) Know that those protestors promise to be back for another minute next year, and every year, and be properly chastised.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

If You Can't Get Hungover in Moscow, Where Can You?

See the purported video from Embassy Moscow: here

Okay, he doesn't look like he would be in shape to drive. But give him a break, it was 5:18 in the AM!

Sunday, August 7, 2022

24 Years Ago Today

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Wrongful or Rightful, Don't Roll the Dice if You Can't Pay the Price

If you've been following the case of Marc Fogel, the U.S. citizen teacher at Moscow's Anglo-American School who has been sentenced to 14 years after he was caught bringing a small quantity of cannabis into Russia, then you've probably seen the story in the WaPo today which quoted his wife and family. That story had the first fairly solid details about his connection with U.S. Embassy Moscow that I've seen so far. 

Here are a few key quotes:
In suburban Pittsburgh, Jane Fogel has been watching the Griner case spool out and wondered whether her husband has been forgotten. Griner’s wife, Cherelle, received a call from the president. The Fogels have been stalled at the mid-functionary level of the U.S. State Department.
Don’t underestimate mid-level functionaries, I say. That’s where the real work of government gets done. 
He’d packed 14 vape cartridges of medical marijuana into his suitcase, stuffing some in his shoes, and placed some cannabis buds in a contact lens case, his wife said. Jane said she had no idea he’d done it. But why take such a risk? “It’s pretty simple,” his son Ethan said of his father’s plan to bring medical marijuana into Russia. “He thought he could get away with it.
Oh? Very simply, I thought I could get away with it, your Honor is not something you should ever say in court. Nor will it get you much sympathy from the American public, I don't imagine. I’m beginning to understand the reason for that long sentence. 

Now, here's the part I found most interesting, because it cleared up some of the confusion in earlier news stories about Fogel's purported diplomatic immunity.
In previous years, they’d received visas sponsored by the U.S. Embassy that labeled them “technical employees,” a term of art that allowed them to work in Russia at the invitation of the embassy and afforded them certain diplomatic protections, even though they were not employed by the U.S. government. The embassy was involved because the school had been chartered by the American, British and Canadian embassies but overseen by a separate school board. The change in the Fogels’ visa status took place in 2021 when the school transitioned to being a nonprofit institution.
“Technical employees” who enjoy “certain diplomatic protections” sounds an awful lot like Administrative and Technical staff status. I've worked with a number of international schools that enroll USG dependents, but never before have I come across one that had an official connection to an embassy. From what I've learned about the history of AAS Moscow, I expect that some sort of quasi official status may have been necessary in order to get U.S. citizen teachers to work in Moscow during the years of Cold War and post-Cold War harassment. 

Getting back to today's WaPo story, the family is making a public pitch to persuade State and the White House to define Fogle as being wrongfully detained, and therefore to include him in the possible prisoner swap that might be in the works for two others prisoners who are so defined. 

The criteria for wrongful detention status are in the Robert Levinson Act, and, frankly, I don't see how they apply to Fogel's situation. There are some large differences between the circumstances of his arrest and that of Brittney Griner. 

Fogel was not a visitor to Russia, having lived and worked there for ten years, if news reports are correct. He can't credibly claim to be naïve about the place. 

Until recently he'd had some kind of connection to the U.S. embassy and reportedly even some level of diplomatic immunity as a result, and that seems to have caused extra Russian interest in him. According to a TASS report, "Mark Fogel was a teacher of an Anglo-American school, and previously served as a US embassy employee in Moscow. Prior to May 2021, he and his spouse enjoyed diplomatic immunity. According to one investigation version, he could have used it to establish a drug smuggling channel for distribution among the students of the school." 

Fogel had concealed his weed and cannabis oil in his luggage, packing them in a contact lens case wrapped in plastic and stuffed inside a sneaker. Unlike Griner, he couldn't use the ooops!-I-forgot-I-left-those-there defense. 

Fogel stated he has a medical need for marijuana, but his credibility suffers due to the very small amount he had in his luggage - ironically - given his claim to need the drug for pain management. He had less than half an ounce, and no way to resupply himself in Russia, where they do not do medical marijuana. Half an ounce seems more recreational than medicinal. 

Those suspicious Russians might have thought Fogel had another stash at home which his wife disposed of after he was arrested. According to a TASS report, "It was determined that his spouse, who was released, managed to get rid of the evidence that was present in the apartment ... Surveillance camera footage shows the woman carrying a bundle outside and throwing it into a dumpster. Later, the woman retrieved it, put it into a plastic bag, and carried it outside of the residence complex.” 

For whatever reason, the Russians were so interested in Fogel's case that they took eleven months between his arrest and conviction. Very unlike Gainer, who was arrested February 17 and put on trial in early July. 

Fogel's situation was raised at the State press briefing of July 26, and the Spokesman's phrasing about "the totality of the circumstances" does not give me the sense that State is very eager to define Fogel as being wrongfully detained.
QUESTION: And then the term “wrongfully detained” has not been applied to the case of Mark Fogel, so can you just explain why that’s the case, given there are some similarities to the crime he committed and the crime that Brittney Griner committed?
MR PRICE: Well, each case is unique. And in determining whether detention is wrongful, determining if the detention is wrongful, we look at the totality of the circumstances. And those circumstances are then weighed against a series of criteria and factors. The Bob Levinson legislation that was passed some years ago, and in fact was just codified in key ways into the EO, defined some of those considerations that we look at.
Yeah, I think Mr. Price might just as well have channeled Sammy Davis Jr. on that response.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

"It is Understood" (by whom is unclear) the UK May Resubmit Extradition Request in Harry Dunn Case Next Month

A couple UK news outlets today are running this odd not-quite-a-news story that promises, but fails to deliver, anything actually new about the Harry Dunn case. 
The confusion starts with the headline. The Dunn family will seek extradition of the American driver "if the criminal case fails?" How's that again? An extradition is necessary to prosecute a criminal case; if the criminal case fails to materialize, then what would be the point of an extradition request? 

Things get even more vague as the story go on.
"Dunn family supporters will call for her extradition if plans for a criminal trial by video link in the UK have not been agreed by the third anniversary of Harry’s death on August 27 2019."
-- snip --
If there is still no agreement by the third anniversary, everyone is primed to resubmit the extradition request,” said a political source. “This cannot go on indefinitely. We cannot do the inquest until the conclusion of the criminal case.”
There are no real sources in the story, just insinuations. Let's see: we have "a political source" saying that "everyone" wants to submit a new extradition request. Only the UK Home Office can do that, but no one in this story speaks for them. Anyway, they already requested extradition and were refused, so how likely is it that they will step on that same rake again? 

"It is understood," the article says, that the Crown Prosecution Service has done such-and-such. But then, no one is quoting the CPS saying anything at all. 

"A government source" is said to refer to the CPS' last public statement on the case, which followed its embarrassing back-down from a court appearance that it had scheduled and then had to vacate, but that's as close as it gets. 

The only one this article quotes by name is the activist lawyer Mark Stephens, who has no apparent connection of any kind to the case, but nevertheless purports to tell us the inside story of what the U.S. and UK authorities are negotiating. Who told him? Maybe it came to him in a dream, since I don't think the authorities in either the U.S. or the UK are on secrets-spilling terms with him. 

The third anniversary of the fatal road traffic accident is no doubt going to be a difficult time for the Dunn family. By talking up more false hopes, their advisors and well-wishers are again showing their instinct for making things worse. 


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Living the Attache Life in Bike-Friendly Moscow

Purportedly, this was a U.S. military attache in Moscow (source). 

If so, then I can only quote Zed from Men in Black: "Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training."

Friday, June 17, 2022

UK Home Office Signs Off On Assange Extradition (Next Appeal Pending in 14 Days)


Yes, that's our Julian Assange update theme, in honor of the whitest-skinned person to ever come from Australia. 

He's in the news today because the UK Home Office has affirmed the U.S. extradition order that was upheld by the UK High Court in December. 

Assange has spent the last three years fighting extradition from Belmarsh Prison, where the UK authorities put him due to his habit of skipping bail. Before that he spent seven years in the embassy of Ecuador hiding from Swendish authorities who wanted to investgate him on complaints of rape and sexual assault. Now, he has 14 days to appeal the Home Office decision, which of course he will. Depending on how that goes, he'll next appeal to a European human rights court. 

How much longer can he possibly delay his delivery to American justice? Almost indefinitely, I think. At least, he seems in no hurry to leave his life behind the walls, having spent the last ten of his fifty years in what is basically self-imposed confinement. 

Assange is an Australian citizen, improbable as that might seem given his extreme pallor, and he seems to have a supporter in his Foreign Office. As CNN reports:
On Friday, Australia's Foreign Office issued a statement noting the UK decision to extradite Assange, who is an Australian citizen, adding: "We will continue to convey our expectations that Mr Assange is entitled to due process, humane and fair treatment, access to proper medical care, and access to his legal team."
Of course, he can get all that stuff in a U.S. prison. And due process? Assange has gotten exremely undue process, if you ask me. I mean, he's spent ten years fighting a reckoning in a U.S. court that would likely result in a sentence of far less than that. Besides which, he would be able to do that time in an Australian prison thanks to a bilateral agreement.

What the hell, Assange? Would you rather spend the next ten years in Belmarsh than face the music in a U.S. court and get it over with?

Thursday, June 2, 2022

White House Press Secretary Can't Help CBS News


C'mon, man! I wish the White House press office would stop the malarkey. 

The new Assistant to the President and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told CBS News' Ed OKeefe that she just plain didn't know what he meant when he asked her about President Biden's fanciful claim that he had been appointed to the Naval Academy in 1965. 

She "did not hear that part of the speech ... I need to read it myself, and just go back and see what you're talking about exactly. I can't speak to it right now." 

That anecdote of Biden's was the very first thing he said in his remarks to the graduating class at Annapolis, as you can read for yourself in the transcript put out by Jean-Pierre's very own press office on May 29th. 

I only hope that, somewhere, Marie Harf is warming up to take over the press office. Biden needs some competent help there as he heads into the mid-term elections.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Once Upon a Time, Joe Biden Was the President

Our POTUS is what may kindly be described as a serial fabulist. He always has been - if not worse (here) - but it seems that today his speeches are increasingly strewn with self-delusion. 

What else can we call it when he tells the Naval Academy graduating class that he received an appointment to Annapolis himself once upon a time when, in fact and beyond any argument, he did not?

Misremembering? Age-appropriate memory loss? Confusion and disorientation? Maybe vascular dementia, especially given that he had two brain aneurysms back in 1988.  

Right now, half of America and nearly all of its pundit class isn't calling his verbal symptoms anything at all, they're ignoring them. Maybe that benign neglect can go on for the next two-plus years.

If it can't, then maybe we'll have a first-ever constitutional issue around the removal of a President who is incapable of performing his duties.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

State-Affiliated Media is Not to be Trusted, Says Twitter


Miss Dismal would be proud. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

When Constabulary Duty's to be Done, a Dis-Info Cop's Lot is Not a Happy One

Forgive the Gilbert and Sullivan, but that line fits the sad occasion better than anything from Disney. It seems that our Mary Poppins of Disinformation has resigned. 

It's being reported on social media - so, remember, until DHS confirms it, it could just be mis-info or even dis-info sent out by malign foreign actors - that she has been feeling put upon and under-appreciated, and even mocked for all her adorable TikTok-ing. 

So she's out the door just three weeks after being appointed. 

And it's not just Director Poppins that's been made redundant. According to the WaPo today, the whole Disinformation Governance Board has been suspended. 

Will DHS now give up on the Disinformation Governance Board as a bad idea? More likely they'll keep it on pause until the mid-term elections are over. Then, depending upon which party controls Congress and the appropriations process thereafter, the DGB will either be abolished or renamed and run by someone much more discreet and lower profile than Nina Jankowicz.

Washington's Worst Authoritarian Architecture, Still an Affront to the Federal Triangle

My God, but what an ugly-ass building that is (this one)!

I'll repeat myself and say again that there is more architectural merit in one of the Justice Department's Art Deco doors than there is in the FBI's entire pile of brutalist concrete. 

And to think it was the federal government's most expensive ever new office building project when it was built in the '70s. Ugly, dysfunctional, insecure, and the most expensive! That's quite the accomplishment.

The G charged us taxpayers $128 million for that fiasco. Oh? What's that? You suppose the Pentagon must have cost more? No, that one cost only 83 million back in the busy and patriotic year of 1943.

They don't make government office buildings like they used to. Whichever way the current year's political battle over the disposition of that ruin turns out, they'll never build them like that again. 

Monday, May 9, 2022

State Notes the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea

Just a thought, but I'd like to see State commemorate more key battles of WWII. For example, think what they could say about Midway, which was THE turning point of the war in the Pacific. 

Before that one, the Empire of Japan had won every battle it fought, plus one draw (at the Coral Sea). After Midway the Empire of Japan lost each battle it fought until it was forced to surrender. 

Would it be completely out of the question to frame Midway as the key battle that ended the militaristic Empire and made possible the present democratic and more-or-less pacifistic Japan?? 

I'm about halfway serious.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Joe Biden is Underwater in Delaware Opinion Polls

Oh, it's bad alright. Considering Delaware kept reelecting him for, what, 50 years (?), it must hurt to be underwater in Delaware polling today. 

Not at all auspicious for Joe and the other Democrats as we creep ever closer to the midterm elections. 

Friday, May 6, 2022

Congratulations to Patrick Kennedy

I miss our former Permanent Undersecretary for Management, who, though he was certainly a micro-manager, was never less than proficient. The same goes for the team he gathered around him. 

He had his detractors. One of his critics complained that you could never get the better of him or his team in a dispute on matters of management because they were always more knowledgable and better prepared than their opponents. Well, if that's the worst you can say of him, then I'm on Team Kennedy. 

The last time I saw him he was already retired but was helping out the ladies at the annual book sale of the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide, which I thought was very nice of him. 

Haley Jumps the Gun on 2024 Republican Nomination

[Update: It seems the above tweet has been deleted since this morning. A screen shot is below] 

The issue is an old one, as is Haley's political alignment with Israeli (see the Jerusalem Post's story from last year: Does Nikki Haley's road to the White House start in Jerusalem?), but her outrage over that reopened Palestinian Mission in Jerusalem was premature at best.

The Biden administration is merely trying to open a Jerusalem-based mission to the Palestinians, and it's not trying very hard. The idea is a non-starter anyway, because a host nation - Israel - must approve any diplomatic premise designated within its territory, and they will not approve that one. 

The administration fakes trying to open such a diplomatic mission, and Haley fakes some outrage in return. Both sides get the political bump they want. What's the harm? 

In the immortal words of George Constanza, "it's not a lie if you believe it." 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Boom in the Cannon Room

Roll Call's headline gets it right regarding the latest display of poor weapons-handling by the U.S. Capitol Police. It happened in the CANNON House Office Building. 

Fortunately, the careless officer was only mishandling a Glock, so the potential damage was limited to what could be done with a .40 caliber round. 

Yesterday's negligent discharge of a handgun inside a break room was not the first time the Capitol Police have been exposed as, ah, not very well-trained when it comes to firearms. 

That's not to detract from the superb performance of some individual USCP officers, and in particular these two who stopped a mass killing by a crazed Bernie Sanders supporter who was armed with a serious military rifle. I mean, the officer who ran out onto that Alexandria ball field to confront the shooter while holding only a subcompact Glock had balls in both hands. 
At least this time a Capitol Police officer didn't leave a Glock in the men's room, as they have done on an embarrassing number of occasions.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Karaoke Night at the Ministry of Truth

Aw, how can you not like our Mary Poppins of Disinformation? C'mon, it's like ABBA, you like it but you don't want to admit you do. 

But her lyrics are seriously disturbing, though. Especially the part about "information laundering."  

According to DHS Secretary Mayorkas's testimony to Congress this week, his Disinformation Governance Board will absolutely, positively, not infringe on the 1st Amendment rights of U.S. citizens.   
“So what [the DGB] does is it works to ensure that the way in which we address threats, the connectivity between threats and acts of violence, are addressed without infringing on free speech, protecting civil rights and civil liberties, the right of privacy.”
Well, I notice that his self-described Mary Poppins of Disinformation has a rather broader view of her field. 

Information-laundering is really quite ferocious, 
It’s when a huckster takes some lies and makes them sound precocious, 
by saying them in Congress or a mainstream outlet
so disinformation’s origins are slightly less atrocious

Correct me if I'm wrong - or rather, misinformed - but isn't Miss Dismal scolding persons in Congress and mainstream media outlets for engaging in free speech? Because it sounds like that's what she's saying. 

Now that Mary Poppins is in an official position to do something about those lie-launderers in Congress and the press, what will she do? 

I suppose, with typical Mary Poppins magic, she could go ahead and let them speak but then prevent anyone from hearing them. You know, outsource it to the private sector to do an end run around the 1st Amendment. Take that, lie launderers!

Whatever she does, I just hope it's musical. 

An earful of TikTok makes the censorship go down, 
the censorship go down, the censorship go down,
just an ear full of TikTok makes the censorship go down,
in a most insidious way

We don't write the algos that's for Twitter to do, 
for Google to do, for Facebook to do, 
we don't write the algos that's for those guys to do,
in a private sector way


Saturday, April 30, 2022

Miss Dismal Now Has a Name, and a Voice

The Biden administration rolled out its Disinformation Governance Board this week, in an announcement by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas while addressing Congress on Wednesday. 

The DGB seems to not have any legal powers of its own, but will be part of the Biden administration’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, so I suppose that federal grants will be the DGB’s weapon of choice against mis-dis-and-mal information. 

Best of all, Miss Dismal now has a face, and a voice. She is Nina Jankowicz, age 33, Executive Director of the DGB and someone with a fabulous musical legacy on social media.* 

I have many questions, and none of them were answered by Secretary Mayorkas. Like, how will the DGB spot mis-dis-and-mal information and then fish it out of the endless stream of news and opinion? Does it have some kind of Dipstick of Truth for measuring the depth and trustworthiness of foreign discourse? Can social media ever be truly Sanitized For Your Protection? And, by what means will the DGB examine a statement by you, me, or anyone else and determine its bona fides? 

Well, he didn't say, so that’s where you just have to have blind faith in the power of government to know what’s best for you. 

In related news this week, the United States – which, remember, invented the Internet – launched the Declaration for the Future of the Internet.** 

According to the White House Spokesperson:
On the international front — what we’re talking about today — we have seen a trend of rising digital authoritarianism, where some states have been acting to repress freedom of expression, to censor independent news sources, to interfere with elections, promote disinformation around the world, and deny their citizens other human rights.
I’m glad my own government doesn’t repress free expression, censor news sources, or do any of that digital authoritarianism stuff. No, it just works with tech companies to do that stuff on its behalf, which is different. To quote the White House spokesperson, they are "flagging problematic posts for Facebook" and "helping to get trusted content out there," and what could be wrong with that? *** 

I mean, unless you're the kind of American who harbors untrusted information. If that's the case, then Miss Dismal and the DGB will set you straight.     

And when my government interferes with elections it does so only for the purpose of promoting Democracy.**** As is well known, Democracy can’t defend itself forever from voters who harbor “unacceptable views,” to quote our neighbor to the North, ‘Jackboots’ Justin Trudeau.***** 

In fact, my government has a long and proud history of forcing democracy upon recalcitrant foreign nations, even if we need to use military force to make them achieve their Democratic Destiny. ****** 

Nothing can possibly go wrong with this Disinformation Governance Board. At least, not unless someone such as Ron DeSantis wins the election in 2024, because he’s just the sort who would use the info-policing powers of DHS for, frankly, partisan purposes.

* Certified True Fact ™ here (among many other performances, which you may google for yourself) 

** Certified True Fact ™ here 

*** Certified True Fact ™ here 

**** Certified True Fact ™ here

***** Certified True Fact ™ here 

****** Certified True Fact ™ here 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Mark Twain, a Notorious Radical From Way Back

Good luck finding that novel in your local high school library or curriculum (here's why), and never mind what you may have once been taught about moral inversion characters in American literature. 

Hemingway once said "all modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called [Redacted, until I clear the rest of that sentence with Miss Dismal]," but then he is also under suspicion today, to say the least. 

As for Mark Twain, or whatever his real name may be, he was exactly the kind of irreverent and unpatriotic scoundrel that DHS would have policed right out of our marketplace of ideas. Read him on the Spanish-American War or the American Indian, for instance, or just see this

Our contemporary mis, dis, and mal information is actually kind of tame by comparison. 

Mike Tyson Takes an Intellectual Turn

Stranger things have happened. Thomas Sowell has been the economic-political gateway drug for David Mamet (here, in which Sowell is "our greatest contemporary philosopher") among many others, so why not for Mike Tyson?

Friday, April 15, 2022

Secret Service: "Stand Your Ground" Against Family Dogs (But Place Hands in Your Pockets)

A FOIA request has turned up 36 pages of Secret Service emails concerning bites inflicted on agents by First Family dogs. It turns out there were quite a few more than had been admitted by the White House Spokesperson.
At the current rate an Agent or Officer has been bitten every day this week (3/1-3/8) causing damage to attire or bruising/punctures to the skin.
I can see where that would be a problem for the White House detail. Some of the bites were serious enough to require treatment by a White House doctor.

Plus, I learned a new euphemism from those emails - "dropping code," something which dogs are known to do. 

On a serious note, don't doubt for a moment that Secret Service agents are fully prepared to defend themselves against canine attackers. Since tasers and pepper spray are out of the question in that delicate situation, here are the protective tactics they employ:
Panicking or running with [sic] only embolden animals so stand your ground and protect your hands/fingers by placing them in your pockets or behind your back.
Well, what to do with the First Family's aggressive German Sheppards? 

If they asked me, I'd deputize them as Secret Service K9 auxiliaries and make a virtue out of all that doggy energy. Problem solved, and you're welcome. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Shanghai MSGs on "Low Rations"

That headline has a kind of '55 Days at Peking' feel to it, but the low rations in this case are the result of Shanghai's city lockdown and zero-tolerance policy for movement outdoors, which has created food shortages. 

The MSGs have been reduced to MREs, which Reuters refers to as "vacuum-sealed rations."
The Marines only had vacuum-sealed rations left, the employee said in the message, seen by Reuters and verified by two people.
I'm sure the MSGs will improvise, overcome, adapt. (Question: was that ever a Marine slogan before it was said in Heartbreak Ridge? I think not, but let it go.) 

Living on MREs is unpleasant, no argument. OTOH, I'm old enough to have eaten C-Rats - combat rations, or technically the Meal, Combat, Individual - the old school field ration that the MREs replaced. Those came in cans, not vacuum sealed packs and, unlike MREs, nothing in them was dehydrated. 

In fact, one meal in every case of C-Rats contained the big prize, the golden ticket, a can of fruit salad in actual syrup. For all of their far greater nutritional value, MREs were never so good as a can of real fruit salad consumed in your bivouac position.

Pistols, Patches, and Pelican Cases = All It Takes To Cosplay as a Cop

The latest Secret Service scandal rolls on, along with conspiracy theories fueled by the Pakistan national identity card and the two passports with Iranian visas and entry/exit stamps that were found in the several apartments occupied by those two curious characters. 

But here's my favorite part of Washington's fake DHS agents scandal, the freebies those two got just for pretending to be cops:
A former representative of Crossing DC who worked at the building since the start of Taherzadeh's lease confirmed that none of the units were being paid for at any time. When asked why they were not paying rent on the units, the individual responded with one word: 'Government'.
Government?! Has that ever worked for you? I know it hasn't worked for me, but then, I admit I've never tried asking my mortgage holder if I could skip making payments because "Government."

Read the criminal complaint here and take note of the remarkably thin window dressing that was all it took to convince at least five Secret Service agents plus local Metro Police officers that those two wild and crazy guys were actually federal law enforcement officers. They carried the correct pistols for Secret Service agents, first a SIG 229 and then a Glock 19, even exchanging insider tidbits about the Glock transition course which the real Secret Service agents - AKA dupes - were taking. Sprinkle around a few shoulder patches and pose for a photo in front of a closet shelf stacked with Pelican gun cases and, why, anyone would be fooled. I mean, they would, wouldn't they?

Maybe it was giving the credulous cops free use of apartments and vehicles that overcame any doubts they may have secretly harbored. Anyway, the scam worked fine until it encountered a Postal Inspector, i.e., a law enforcement officer from one of the humbler and less romanticized federal agencies, who saw through the costumes.   

As an aside, I am kind of pleased to learn that DC city cops never questioned either the open or concealed carry of pistols by those two fraudulent feds. Despite all the gun bans in DC, it seems you may walk around armed so long as you add a little police paraphernalia to your daily wear. Hey, I have gun belts and other pieces of equipment with which to accessorize my office garb, why haven't I ever tried just adding a pistol and a couple magazines? It seems that might work.

As yet a further aside, I recall reading in G. Gordon Liddy's autobiography that when he first came to Washington as a political appointee in the Treasury Department he phonied-up a badge and credentials for himself as an excuse to - illegally - carry a pistol. Since Treasury was known to have lots of obscure law enforcement functions, he reasoned, he would be able to brazen it out should a local cop ever question his gun. Today, it's DHS that is know to have myriad obscure law enforcement functions, so its the clear choice for today's fraudsters.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

In Today's News, Phony DHS Cops Dupe Real Secret Service Agents

The Secret Service has had its fair share of scandals, and more, but a new one is shaping up today that might be particularly damning because it is the rare one that involves professional misjudgment rather than personal misbehavior.

According to the Daily Mail:
[Arian] Taherzadeh and [Haider] Ali are accused of posing as members of a fake Department of Homeland Security taskforce investigating gang violence and the January 6 Capitol riots. The pair, whose nationalities have not been revealed, are said to have driven around in an official-looking SUV equipped with flashing lights.

They are said to have successfully ingratiated themselves with Secret Service agents, who they supplied with rent-free luxury apartments, high-end electronics and policing equipment. Four members of the agency - including the first lady's bodyguard - have been placed on leave, with their identities not revealed.

In one instance, Taherzadeh allegedly offered a member of First Lady Jill Biden's security detail with a $2,000 assault rifle. He and Ali also reportedly supplied a USSS agent with a penthouse apartment valued at more than $40,000 a year.

It is unclear what they had hoped to gain from the ruse, and prosecutors say the investigation is ongoing, even as four members of the Secret Service - including the one from the first lady's security detail - have been placed on leave.
According to the WaPo (here) this genius scheme to do who-knows-what was foiled when the phony DHS agents voluntarily assisted a Postal Inspector who was investigating an assault on a mailman which they, eagled-eyed and on high alert as always for signs of terrorist activity, claimed to have witnessed.
The [Postal] inspector learned the men were in contact with several members of the Secret Service and had provided gifts to them or their families and use of the SUV, the affidavit states. The document did not explain how the inspector learned about the gifts.

The inspector informed [the real] DHS, which then informed the FBI.
Wow. Assuming the details being reported are true and even close to complete, there ought to be a lot of egg on a lot of federal law enforcement faces today.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Back to the Future With Legations and Diplomatic Agents - Yes!


Would a legation offer an alternative in future situations — North Korea, Taliban Afghanistan come to mind — where the U.S. would want to establish more than an “interests section” housed within a foreign embassy, but less than full embassy status with an ambassador?
Now, that (this, in the current Foreign Service Journal) is an exceptionally good idea. 

While some of my betters are currently sweating out a proposal for how the Department might establish smaller and more responsive diplomatic missions in odd places around the globe and do so much, much, faster than would be possible with an Inman-ish Fortress Embassy, the co-authors of FSJ's Time to Bring Back Legations Headed by Diplomatic Agents? have the answer. Legations!

Please read the whole article at the link above. 


p.s. - Don't dismiss the possibility of opening a post in North Korea. There was a time, right after the reunification of Germany when former East German embassies around the world were up for grabs (and USAID got a couple in Africa), that a team from DS and OBO surveyed Pyongyang's vacated DDR embassy for our potential use as a diplomatic post. That could happen again. 

Trump Files Civil Suit Against Hillary and a Couple Dozen Others

Filed today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Trump v. Hillary Clinton et al, asking for damages with a RICO kicker. 

All those defendants "orchestrated a malicious conspiracy to disseminate patently false and injurious information about Donald J. Trump and his campaign, all in the hopes of destroying his life, his political career and rigging the 2016 Presidential Election in favor of Hillary Clinton" for starters.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Twitter Likened to 1920s Paris

To freely quote Lenin, an ideology that cannot defend itself is worth nothing.

Refusing to Read the Hunter Biden Laptop Story Until Miss Dismal Approves

I'm aware of the New York Times story, of course. But as a responsible citizen I refuse to read it until I know it has been cleared by the trained information cops of Homeland Security. 

Has that information, or narrative as we are instructed to say these days, been sanitized for my protection, like those paper bands on motel toilets used to say? Because it sounds extremely interesting, but then, I remember how just a year or so ago the White House spokesperson roundly debunked and denounced that story as the work of Putin when it was first reported in the New York Post. 

I have to agree this seems just the sort of situation that might be brimming with mis, dis, and even mal information - Miss Dismal! - and therefore not at all something for common citizens, like me, to mess with. 

Hey DHS, c'mon man!©, stop the malarky and tell me whether or not it's safe to read that story.

Investigating Sensitive Matters (Too Sensitive for Rules)

Let me get this straight. The FBI's own internal auditors found out that FBI agents routinely violate the rules when conducting investigations of 'sensitive' matters? Actually, yes. 

Put on your shocked face and then read the internal 2019 audit report here.
FBI agents violated their own rules at least 747 times in 18 months while conducting investigations involving politicians, candidates, religious groups, the news media and others, according to a 2019 FBI audit obtained by The Washington Times.
This rock was turned over report was disclosed in the course of a lawsuit, naturally.

Chronic Appropriations Rider Lights Up DC Weed Advocates

The Hill reported recently on the latest dissapointment to DC wastoids.
A GOP-backed ban on weed sales in Washington, D.C., was preserved in a sprawling government funding bill passed by Congress on Thursday, despite opposition from advocates who say the provision overrides the will of the District’s residents years after they voted to legalize marijuana.

- snip -

While District residents are allowed to grow and consume their own cannabis, they cannot buy or sell it under the Harris rider. Marijuana businesses use a loophole in the law to “gift” weed to customers while bundling it with another product or service, creating a gray market that D.C. cannot tax or regulate.

With that 'gift' loophole, the law doesn't really hinder any DC resident from toking up in the privacy of his own home. 

Weed continues to be illegal for the federal government, however, which I believe accounts for much of the reluctance we see from millenials to seeking, or even accepting offer of, government employment. "I think the private sector is a better fit for me" = my roommates can smoke and it's practically legal, so why should I undergo random drug testing?

Read it here.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Miss Dismal Says Unapproved Information Is Dangerous, Read Her Comic Book To Learn More

It was a bright cold day in February and the clocks were striking thirteen when Homeland Security's latest Summary of the Terrorism Threat to the United States popped up on my telescreen.

(Forget I said that. I should cut out the 1984 references for fear that DHS will suspect me of thoughtcrime.)

So the latest threat to America's homeland comes from MDM, or Mis-Dis-and-Mal Information, and it will take trained info-cops from Homeland Security to police the marketplace of ideas for anything that might mislead, harm, or manipulate you and me.

I say, first of all, Mis-Dis-Mal needs an acronym you can pronounce, something like "Miss Dismal." Second, it needs a good judicial review because, hard as it may be to believe, there are some people who would not want federal agents and their contractors policing our public and private media for signs of MDM.

What would Thomas Jefferson say about this initiative? Or about Homeland Security itself, I wonder? But before I get on a watchlist for wondering about that, I'll stay on the safe side and let the trained info-cops of DHS explain:
Misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation make up what CISA [Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency] defines as “information activities”. When this type of content is released by foreign actors, it can be referred to as foreign influence. Definitions for each are below.
  • Misinformation is false, but not created or shared with the intention of causing harm.
  • Disinformation is deliberately created to mislead, harm, or manipulate a person, social group, organization, or country.
  • Malinformation is based on fact, but used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate.
What should our corps of trained professional info-cops do about the threat posed by Miss Dismal? Naturally, it should deploy comic books – yes, comic books – to counter the influence spread by any malign 'threat actor.'
Foreign and domestic threat actors use MDM campaigns to cause chaos, confusion, and division. These malign actors are seeking to interfere with and undermine our democratic institutions and national cohesiveness. The resources provided at the bottom of this page provide examples and more information about MDM activities.

First in the series, Real Fake demonstrates how threat actors capitalize on political and social issues (especially around election cycles) to stealthily plant doubt in the minds of targeted audiences and steer their opinion.

Readers follow protagonists Rachel and Andre as they discover that a command center in Russia is using a network of troll farms to spread false narratives about elections to American voters. With the elections coming up, Rachel and Andre follow the trail of synthetic media and stop the cyber assailants from causing chaos, confusion, and division.
They're calling this comic book "Real Fake?” Really? I wonder who it was in DHS who greenlighted that term because it makes me recall the “fake but accurate” excuse that Dan Rather came up with after he was fired from CBS News for using forged documents to – come to think of it – influence an election.

Rathergate was big news once, but that was back in 2004, when most of today’s DHS employees were in grade school. See the CBS News' final word on it here: CBS Ousts Four For Bush Guard Story.

This is where things get funny, because Rathergate had a simply hilarious aspect in that Rather and his producers exposed George W. Bush’s purported misdeeds by producing four old Texas Air National Guard memos. The perfect smoking gun, right?

But, as some TV viewers noticed the very night the story was broadcast, those memos, which were dated in 1972 and ‘73, had been typed in Microsoft Word with default settings. They had proportionally spaced font, and even superscripts (as in Rathergate), things that did not become available to office workers until Steve Jobs invented the MacIntosh computer

Although Rather still keeps on defending himself all these many years later, game over, man. Those documents weren’t fake but accurate, they were just plain fake.

I don’t think DHS intended for Americans to associate their Mis-Dis-and-Mal-fighting comic books with that failed attempt to influence the 2004 election. Although, I would be totally open to a comic book series based on Rathergate.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Another Panel Reports on Anomalous Health Incidents (AHI)

The mysterious matter of anomolous health incidents - AKA Havana Syndrome - threatens to turn into an interagency pissing contest here in the National Capital Area, as shown by the public release of two competing reports by different groups of government-employed experts.

See the State Department's response to the AHI problem here. State and SecState Blinken clearly regard the syndrome as something real, serious, and possibly attributable to a foreign adversary.

Not so at the CIA, which issued a somewhat dismissive interim report whose interim conclusions a senior CIA official summarized for CBS News as "We assess that the majority of reports of [anomalous health incidents] can be reasonably explained by medical conditions or environmental and technical factors, including previously undiagnosed illnesses," meaning that they are not attributable to a foreign adversary.

Two days ago the latest report by a panel of experts was released in a redacted version, and it came down more of the State side of the matter while not contradicting the CIA side. The New York Times, which remains a good newspaper on occasion, covered this battle of the government experts here, Panel Says Some Havana Syndrome Cases May Stem From Radio Energy:
The panel, which included both government scientists and outside experts, did not try to determine who was responsible for the incidents, and officials said the conclusions did not contradict interim findings by the C.I.A. that unexplained incidents were not the result of a sustained global campaign by Russia or another adversary.

But there are tensions between the panel’s work and the C.I.A.’s conclusions. The panel’s findings could bolster the arguments of victims and lawmakers who believe a hostile foreign nation could have caused at least some of the injuries associated with Havana syndrome, perhaps by using a listening device.
You can read that panel's report in a redacted version here.

Here's a recap of the findings:
  • The signs and symptoms of AHIs are genuine and compelling. 
  • A subset of AHIs cannot be easily explained by known environmental or medical conditions and could be due to external stimuli. 
  • Pulsed electromagnetic energy, particularly in the radiofrequency range, plausibly explains the core characteristics, although information gaps exist. 
  • Ultrasound also plausibly explains the core characteristics, but only in close-access scenarios and with information gaps. 
  • Psychosocial factors alone cannot account for the core characteristics, although they may cause some other incidents or contribute to long-term symptoms. 
  • Ionizing radiation, chemical and biological agents, infrasound, audible sound, ultrasound propagated over large distances, and bulk heating from electromagnetic energy are all implausible explanations for the core characteristics in the absence of other synergistic stimuli.
The panel concluded with this sympathetic statement:
The panel was moved by the experiences of individuals affected by AHIs. They deserve the best possible care, as well as appreciation for their sacrifices. Panelists were also greatly impressed with the many members of the IC and broader US Government with whom they engaged. The panel feels fortunate to have supported their work.
Much more to come on this matter, sadly. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Harry Dunn Case Update: A Check Finally Gets Cashed

The suit against the American driver was settled in September when the Dunn family accepted the insurance company's offer. However, at that point the family's former law firm - Cohen, Milstein - filed a lien on any settlement money while they petitioned the court for 30 percent of that boodle in accordance with their contract to represent the family. As you may recall, Cohen Milstein had withdrawn from the case due to unresolvable differences with its clients before a second firm got the case to settlement.

That dispute still goes on, but last Friday the judge in the case issued an interim order requiring distribution of settlement funds not in dispute, meaning that some of the insurance money will finally flow to the Dunn family and, of course, some of that money will stick to their current set of American lawyers.

The amount of the settlement remains confidential, however, UK Twitter gossip says the amount that is not in dispute is seventy percent of the total. That would make perfect sense, since Cohen Milstein is claiming thirty percent, according to a rare unsealed motion filed with the court.

Will Cohen Milstein get that much? Depends on the judge. He might give them all of that, or some of that, or none of that.

So let's see ... thirty percent for them, and another thirty for the firm that replaced Cohen Milstein, leaves, uh, forty percent for the three Dunn family plaintiffs to share.

The family and its horrendous spokesman / advisor are keeping silent on the money as of now. After all, they're still raising donations from the public (to the tune of $213,000 so far) and might not want to do any victory laps yet.

But watch this space for whatever clues we might gather from the family's future spending. Was the settlement Land Rover kind of money, or second-hand subcompact kind of money?

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Harry Dunn Update: Family Takes One Step Back From Civil Settlement Money, Criminal Hearing Cancelled

It wouldn't be another week gone by if I didn't have a post about the Harry Dunn case, would it? Well, here's what we know as of today.

The U.S. Court in Alexandria issued a denial of the plaintiff's request for prejudgement interest, and heard dueling motions on other matters.

My take, which is based on unreliable and unsourced UK Twitter gossip, is that the Dunn family is likely to lose its battle to exclude their first set of American lawyers from the insurance settlement boodle. As the firm of Cohen Milstein had already stated in an unsealed motion, their work achieved an initial settlement offer and that offer is proof of the monetary value CM brought to the plaintiffs, notwithstanding that the plaintiffs rejected that offer. So they'd like thirty percent of that amount, please.

As for the criminal case against the American driver that the Crown Prosecution Service has been impotently threatening, it hit a snag when the would-be defendant declined to go along. The CPS announced on Friday that the court hearing they'd had scheduled for next week has been cancelled. 

The BBC's Home Affairs correspondent reported:
A hearing was scheduled for Westminster Magistrates' Court on 18 January, but the CPS said this had been "vacated".

A spokesman for the CPS said: "This is to enable ongoing discussions between the CPS and Anne Sacoolas's legal representatives to continue."

Last month, Mrs Sacoolas's lawyers denied she would attend a court appearance via video link and said no such agreement had been made.

The CPS announcement was immediately spun by the Dunn family spokesman as a "postponement" of the hearing, a term that was repeated across the UK news media. Of course if it actually were a postponement, then there would be a new date for a hearing, whereas the CPS said the hearing date had been "vacated." As in, there is now no date set for a hearing on that matter.

More to come. Much more.