Thursday, 14 March 2019

This University 'Chatter' From the Past Couple of Days

Back in my 2010 to 2013 period, while working at the Pentagon, I worked around with a guy who had two teenage sons, and lived in Maryland.  The oldest won was approaching this summer vacation period between the ninth and tenth grades, and had these great personal plans for the summer.

Somewhere around six weeks prior to the end of the ninth grade, the mother came into the picture with this long drawn-out schedule and 'goals'.  The intent?  By her plan, in order to get him into a prestigious college (an ivey league Cornell or Vanderbilt for example)....he needed to have a rich and fulfilling 'resume'.

This couldn't be done in the last year....he needed things to score points upon he transitioned into the tenth grade.

As I remember the five goals:

1.  A class in fencing (the kid knew nothing about the sport, and had zero interest).
2.  Some youth environmental week, with a group planting trees, and clearing streams of garbage.
3.  One afternoon a week in a art-appreciation group.
4.  Spending several days with some church-theme group helping senior citizens.
5.  Being an active participant in a neighborhood watch group (he had to walk the neighborhood at night with an adult).

In simple terms, the kid was fairly bitter.  He'd been forced to participate in a French class via the internet, and was supposed to begin French in the tenth-grade.

The problem was....the kid had no real drive to go off to this premium university.  I asked this guy about the cost factor, and apparently most of this was going to be covered via the wife's family (the grandparents), which this had to be in the $200,000 range for the kid.  Appreciation?  Even this guy questioned where this was going, and if the kid could be convinced to go and do all this extra pump up his application in three years to the ivy league school deal.

So I look at how this bribe business worked with the colleges and how the parents paid off the right people, to get their kids (who might have been marginally acceptable to the standards) into the 'right school'.  In some cases, the parents even knew the kid couldn't get the right SAT scores, and they arranged for special people to take the test.  The added weight here is that there might be 10,000 adults who arranged bribes across the nation, to get their kids into various schools.

The ending?  It's hard to say where this will really end.  School sued?  Parents brought into court and sent off to 6-to-8 months of prison.  Kids tossed out of college for fraud?

The FTO Story

In the late 1990s, as part of the Clinton agenda, a list was drawn up by the State Department of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).  Basically, at least how the Clinton folks wrote this up were to be a target and they'd bring up your name, your organization....then aim at the money-making part of the operation, bring global power (including economic) against you.

Right now today, there's around 60 organizations on the list, which you can view

Now, just because you get your name on the list.....doesn't mean that this is the bitter end.

The Abu Sayyaf Group, for example, has been on the list since 1997.  They still in some form, exist today.  The Real Irish Republican Army has been on the list since 2001, and to some degree....still exist today.

Once you get on the list, the CIA folks then start efforts to infiltrate, or buy info on your organization....with attempts to make it more difficult on them.

The Obama folks decided at some put various ISIS groups on the list, then bombed them via drones.  Effective or was meant to send a message.  If you rose to the top three to ten players of the group, your name got on a list, and your odds of dying went remarkably up.

So, we come to the Trump idea....put the Mexican and Latin American drug cartels on this list.  The State Department?  They are simply reviewing the idea, because.....lets be drug cartel has ever been on the list before.

Lets say they go to the list, and you end up with twelve cartels noted.  The list would then (I assume) include groups in Peru, Mexico, El Salvador, Columbia, and Venezuela.  They would list the top ten guys in each organization, their headquarters, and how they operate.

Then Trump would approach each country and let them know....he'll drone-kill each guy, unless that country takes down the cartel. one is going to dare arrest cartel chiefs. 

So around six months into this program, you start to hit cartel chiefs.  You have the US military then identifying routes of traffic.....flying drones over 'hub-centers'....gathering intelligence, and then hitting them.  Cocaine prices escalate (maybe 50-percent in one single week) in the US.  Distribution gangs in Baltimore and NY start to report shortages of cocaine.  Users are now getting antsy, and committing bigger crimes to afford the escalating prices.

At some point, an entire network of the cartel is taken down.  That drug distribution network in the US is then forced to react, and find new production cycles. 

The CIA would eventually get smart about where the money is, and start to find ways of siphoning off the money from banks.  The cartels would react, and kill bank officials....thinking they were behind the business.

Targeted US border guys?  US military starting to be targeted?  US governors being targeted?  All of this would lead to escalations.  The only way to really get ahead in this to kill more of them....before they can rebuild or redevelop their strategy.  Once you achieved killing off an entire cartel, you'd have to emphasize that it doesn't end. 

But here's the odd factor in this game.  All of these distribution gangs carrying and marketing the drugs in the US?  You could charge them up real quick.....aiding and abetting a FTO.  Suddenly, a big player with the Baltimore El Salvadoran gangs....would be grabbed and sent for massive federal charges....fifty years in a max-security prison.  You'd go after his number two. In a matter of one single would have sent twenty of these guys up for helping an FTO situation.  You could even go and start construction on a new prison anticipation of hundreds to be convicted in the next five years.

Something that Bush or Obama might have done?  No, never in a thousand years. 

What If They Left

Over the weekend, a short story came out over Edelman Intelligence, a survey organization.

Basically.....they went out over California and asked the question.....would you like to leave the state?

It's a surprising number.....around 53 percent of folks said yes.....with the cost of living leading the reasons.

In the group of early 20s to late's closer to 63 percent who are thinking about leaving.

The Bay area?  It's like three people out of four.....are thinking about leaving.

What if people were to leave?  Well, that gets to an interesting point.  I could understand a guy reaching fifty-five, and just saying 'enough', and making the plan to retire in five years and put the property up for sale.  But what happens if you had 300,000 people in one single year from central California, who made this decision? 

Who would buy their property (figuring their house was worth $1-million in 2018)?  Would a large dump on property bring property values down?  Would this million-dollar house from 2018 still be worth that value (I seriously doubt it)? 

So that house might sit empty for a while, during a stage where 'Joe' and his wife moved to Arizona, and figure home prices will revert in two years.

If 'Joe' isn't around to spend money in the neighborhood....does the cash flow slow down?  No sales tax collected?  Lesser sales revenue? 

Impact upon group-think?  Yes.  There are 39.5-million residents of the state, and the potential of this exodus is significant. 

The Three Issues with Beto O'Rourke

Yesterday O'Rourke came out and announced his candidacy for President.  While he has youth.....reminds people of RFK....and is full of 'vigor'....I would suggest that he has three basic problems to overcome.

First, inside of Texas....probably 95-percent of the state's residents know the guy.  With the other 49 states, I would suggest that maybe one person out of ten might recognize his picture, and note that he ran for 'something' in Texas, and lost.  Beyond that, he's more or less unknown.  Course, in 2007, Obama was a unknown in 49 states, and overcame that.

Second, if you were at least leaning toward Trump.....putting your policy positions up on the wall, O'Rourke's positions don't match up with a single one of those.  So from the pro-Trump crowd, the Trump-lite voters, and the middle-ground people.....virtually no gain from them.

Third, if you lined up O'Rourke and Schultz (the independent runner)....on positions, there's a 95-percent match-up.  As long as Schultz is in the race, it hurts O'Rourke in the end, if he is the candidate.

A Bernie-Beto-Biden-Warren race?  Yes.  You can forget about Harris at this point, along with Booker.  Who would Hillary favor?  That might be the key question to ask.

Liveable City Story

There's a foundation which makes up a survey, and then notes the 'most liveable cities' in the world.  Various issues are given a rating to reach this group.

The chief winners?  1. Vienna 2. Zurich 3. Vancouver 4. Munich 5.Auckland 6. Duesseldorf, Germany 7. Frankfurt 8. Copenhagen 9. Geneva 10. Basel, Switzerland 11. Sydney 12. Amsterdam 13. Berlin 14. Bern, Switzerland 15. Wellington, New Zealand 16. Toronto 17. Melbourne, Australia 18. Luxembourg 19. Ottawa 20. Hamburg.

So you look at the list and quickly note....NONE of them are US cities.  In fact, it's amusing here....but the top US city was San Francisco (at 34).

I looked over these twenty cities mentioned.  It's funny, but I've actually been to 14 of the 20. 

In my mind, there are three key features to those fourteen cities that I've been to: (1) limited crime (I won't say zero, but cops make a serious effort to ensure public safety), (2) massive public transportation, and (3) a lot of public money put into landscaping.

How Frankfurt got on the list?  Frankfurt spent an entire decade renovating a key part of town (the 'old town' area), and it's become this magnet for tourists and intellectuals.  Toss in the riverfront, the subway system, low crime numbers, and the city is 'liveable'.