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Friday, July 31, 2015

The Iran "Deal"

My co-host on Midrats posts two videos that are well worth watching here. "A deliberate attempt to circumvent the Constitution ..." certainly caught my ear.

The one featuring Sen. Cotton and the remarkably arrogant Secretary of State - well, a jackass will be a jackass. And Kerry always will be a jackass.

Friday Fun Film: "Flat Hatting"(1946)

The adventure of flying can be taken too far. Here's a short cartoon so advising:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Disaster Economics: Risk Taking and Risk Aversion

We've all heard the pleas from people who have lost everything in a disaster. Most of these cries come from those who went into the disaster unprepared, uninsured and, often, very poor. I mean, when was the last news report you saw about some family whose expensive but insured beach house was washed away and who had to pay a deductible in order to rebuild? No, as the late Houston "consumer reported" Marvin Zindler used to say, "It's hell to be poor!"

Well, it's with a little nod to "the poor" that I refer you to these lessons from the Foundation for Teaching Economics on the Economics of Disasters :
This set of lessons looks at a variety of natural disasters – from the Black Death of the Middle Ages to Hurricane Katrina in our too-recent memory, to fears of avian flu pandemics that haunt the future – through the lens of economic analysis. The contexts were chosen to facilitate the teaching of economic reasoning principles not only in economics courses, but also in history and the other social studies disciplines. Each lesson addresses a question that reflects people’s compassionate reaction to news of disaster and develops one or two key tools of economic analysis in answering that question. Case studies of past disasters provide real-world illustrations.
While all the lessons are good starting points for thinking upon such matters, Lesson 3: When Disaster Strikes, What Can Government Do? is particularly interesting:
Costs of government policies sometimes exceed benefits. This may occur because of incentives facing voters, government officials, and government employees, because of actions by special interest groups that can impose costs on the general public, or because social goals other than economic efficiency are being pursued.
1. The challenge for government in disaster response and relief is determining when it should take a “hands-on” role and become actively involved, and when the goal of recovery is best-served by stepping back in favor of other institutions better suited to the task.

- The rule of rational choice directs decision-makers to choose the alternative with the greatest excess of benefits over costs. This rule applies not only to private decision-makers but also to government decision-makers: Governments should undertake those activities for which the expected benefits outweigh the expected costs.
Government ineptitude during natural disasters may be good fodder for comedians and radio talk-show hosts, but the pertinent lesson is more about the need to adjust our expectations than the need for “better” government. Throughout the 20th century, we demanded that government take on more and more responsibility for citizens’ well-being with relatively little consideration of whether or not political institutions are inherently capable of meeting the lengthening list of expectations. The tendency to think that big problems – like natural catastrophes – can best be dealt with by big institutions, like government, is understandable. Persisting in that belief in the face of continuing evidence to the contrary is not. If we expect governments to perform functions for which they do not have the necessary knowledge, incentives, and mechanisms, we not only invite disappointment, but risk undermining their ability to perform the vital tasks for which they were created: restoring civil order, maintaining the rule of law, and providing those few public goods necessary for other economic and social institutions to operate.
If you download the "EOD Lesson 3 Outline" from the page, you'll find a nice discussion of the concept of "Other People's Money" in the disaster context in one of the Appendix 1:
All such programs put some people in a position to decide what is good for other people. The effect is to instill in the one group a feeling of almost God-like power; in the other, a feeling of childlike dependence. The capacity of the beneficiaries for independence, for making their own decision, atrophies through disuse. In addition to the waste of money, in addition to the failure to achieve the intended objectives, the end result is to rot the moral fabric that holds a decent society together.
One of the questions we all should be asking is, "Does government intervention make people less risk averse or more?"

For example, we all know that there are government programs that decrease the insurance costs of people who build big beach house on barrier islands. Would these houses get built if the owners had to bear the true cost of paying for their own insurance - if that insurance were even available? North Carolina, for example, has the Coastal Property Insurance Pool:
The Coastal Property Insurance Pool offers commercial, homeowner and dwelling windstorm coverage and homeowner coverage to any person having an insurable interest in property located in the 18 eligible coastal counties of North Carolina. The Coastal Property Insurance Pool also offers commercial fire and dwelling fire in a more limited area defined as the beach area (comprised of North Carolina south and east of the inland waterway, including the area known as the Outer Banks).

The Coastal Property Insurance Pool is defined by the North Carolina General Statutes as the "Market of Last Resort"; therefore, it is highly recommended that property owners attempt to obtain insurance in the standard market. Your Insurance Agent may assist you in placing coverage either in the standard market or in the Coastal Property Insurance Pool.
Before this CPIP plan, there was a potentially huge state liability (see here), which was addressed in part. See here. The new plan still leaves inland property owners subsidizing beach front property insurance - but to a much lesser extent:
Before the new law, North Carolina's plan required property insurers to help play claims in the event that the plan's coffers couldn't cover the costs of a huge storm. But there was no mechanism to allow insurers to pass the costs to customers. The unlimited liability drove one major insurer out in 2008, and officials feared others would follow.

Now, if the plan's coffers are emptied by a big storm, the plan would first call on the insurance industry to contribute as much as $1 billion. If that still isn't enough, policyholders from across the state would face surcharges on their property-coverage bills of as much as 10%.
As you might gather, not everyone is happy with this level of unknown risk. On the other hand, tourism, especially people renting beach houses for vacations on the coast is a big part of the NC economy - which is why the law encourages beach house building. It might seem fair, however, to add a tax to each beach rentals that would go into a fund helping to cover disaster costs before tagging the other homeowners in the state.

If you are poor and have little? Does that make you more likely to take on more risk to protect what you have? Is there an explanation in this question for people who refuse to evacuate from the potential impact area of a hurricane so that they can defend their few possessions from pre or post storm looters? One paper discusses this briefly here at p 5:
As to the impact of natural disasters on risk attitudes, Cameron and Shah (2012) conduct incentivized risk game experiments in Indonesia and find that people who recently lived though natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes exhibit higher risk aversion than living in otherwise like villages. They also interestingly show that the impact persists for many years, particularly if the disaster was severe. However, part of the documented effect is driven by income losses.
The Cameron and Shah paper can be found here. An interesting effect on Katrina evacuees shows that initially they may be more willing to take risks. See abstract of Risk loving after the storm: A Bayesian-Network study of Hurricane Katrina evacuees:
We investigate risk preferences of a sample of hurricane Katrina evacuees shortly after they were evacuated and transported to Houston, and another sample from the same population taken a year later. We also consider a third sample of resident Houstonians with demographics similar to the Katrina evacuees. Conventional statistical methods fail to explain a strong risk-loving bias in the first Katrina-evacuees sample. We utilize Bayesian Networks to investigate all relevant conditional distributions for gamble choices, demographic variables, and responses to psychometric questionnaires. We uncover surprising results: Contrary to prior experimental evidence, we find that women in our sample were significantly more risk loving in the first Katrina sample and only mildly more risk averse in the other two samples. We find that gamble choices are best predicted by positive-emotion variables. We therefore explain the risk-loving choices of the first Katrina-evacuees sample by the detected primacy of negative-emotion variables in that sample and explain the latter by traumatic and heightened-stress experiences shortly after the hurricane.
Of course, part of the problem lies in defining what "risk aversion" is.

Can sheltering in place in the face of storm representing x% chance of harm actually be more risk averse than leaving knowing that there is much higher possibility that all your possessions will be stolen in your absence? What is the impact of having insurance in such a case? Do those insured find it easier to evacuate?

My hypothesis is that it that these "risk taking" decisions are highly economic in nature and that if governments are wondering why there is resistance in some areas to "mandatory" evacuations, much more thinking and research needs to be done along these lines.

I think Maslow's hierarchy of needs" comes into play - a disaster drops us all into the lower levels dealing with physiological needs and those safety needs:
Safety and Security needs include:

- Personal security
- Financial security
- Health and well-being
- Safety net against accidents/illness and their adverse impacts
There's a reason why Red Cross shelters offer security, lots of snacks and food, health providers and people on watch throughout the night.

But that "financial security" part? Not so much.

I remember, after one tornado,  meeting a woman whose rented house had a tree fallen right down its middle, rendering it unfit for human occupancy. She was staying, however, because she had just bought a big screen television which she knew would disappear if she removed to a shelter. Given her evident poverty level, that television represented a substantial financial asset to her - one she was unwilling to put at risk.


In making up your disaster plan, it is important you know what you might assume greater risks to avoid losing and figure out a way to deal with that ahead of time.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Final Chapter of NYTimes "The Outlaw Sea" - "A Renegade Trawler, Hunted for 10,000 Miles by Vigilantes"

Ian Urbina finishes up his four part series on "The Outlaw Sea" with A Renegade Trawler, Hunted for 10,000 Miles by Vigilantes:
For 110 days and across two seas and three oceans, crews stalked a fugitive fishing ship considered the world’s most notorious poacher.
The "vigilantes" are the Sea Shepherd society and two of its vessels. Reminds me of Oscar Wildes' quote about fox hunters:
"Fox hunting is the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible."
In this case, one trawler was pursued. You could probably do a whole series on illegal Chinese fishing ships. See this BBC report, China illegally fishing off W Africa - Greenpeace:
More than 70 Chinese vessels have been found fishing illegally off the coast of West Africa, Greenpeace says.

Using information gathered from 2000 to 2014, Greenpeace said Chinese companies had fished in prohibited grounds or under-declared their catches.

Boats either turned off their identification systems or transmitted false location data, it added.

One company's fishing capacity off the coast of Guinea Bissau is said to have exceeded its authorised limit by 61%.
See also here:
Chinese vessels operating in foreign waters caught, on average, 4.6 million tons of fish annually between 2000 and 2011, cumulatively worth $12 billion, the report estimates. That includes an estimated 3.1 million tons of fish caught off African coasts, 80 percent of which was unreported.

“China’s massive distant-water fishing fleet is problematic for a few reasons, the most prominent being that a significant portion of its catch is illegal, unreported, or unregulated,” the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Katie Lebling wrote in a Nov. 11 research brief. That means it’s impossible to ensure sustainable fishing practices.
The report by Ms. Lebling is here:
Also worth reading The Status of Fisheries in China: How deep will we have to dive to find the truth?
Poor oversight by the Chinese government and lack of significant outside pressure to change are the main drivers of current practices, which are far from sustainable and have significant side effects for some of the world’s poorest countries.
If these vigilantes start taking on the Chinese fishing fleets, it might get interesting.

Monday, July 27, 2015

‘Sea Slaves’: Forced Labor for Cheap Fish - The New York Times

The third installment in Ian Urbina's excellent NY Times series "The Outlaw Ocean" is up at ‘Sea Slaves’: Forced Labor for Cheap Fish:
Men who have fled servitude on fishing boats recount beatings and worse as nets are cast for the catch that will become pet food and livestock feed.
This series was previously mentioned here.

Some time ago I put up a post on the "sea slave" issue in Fishing Boat Slavery.

Well, yeah - "China’s New Islands Are Clearly Military, U.S. Pacific Chief Says "

Kevin Baron of DefenseOne reports "China’s New Islands Are Clearly Military, U.S. Pacific Chief Says" :
“I believe those facilities are clearly military in nature,” Harris said at the Aspen Security Forum, an annual gathering in Colorado of dozens of top U.S. national security leaders, convened by the Aspen Institute.

In his notably undiplomatic remarks, Harris called on China to show meaningful diplomacy to resolve the territorial disputes. But the four-star admiral also appeared resigned to seeing further construction and eventual deployment of military aircraft and ships.
Fiery Cross Reef sits smack in the middle of South China Sea sea lanes

“They are building ports that are deep enough to host warships and they’re building a 10,000-foot runway at Fiery Cross Reef,” Harris said, referring to one of China’s construction activities in the Spratly Islands that Japan has protested. “A 10,000-foot runaway is large enough to take a B-52, almost large enough for the Space Shuttle, and 3,000 feet longer than you need to take off a 747. So, there’s no small airplane that requires a runway of that length. They’re building rebutted aircraft hangers at some of the facilities there that are clearly designed, in my view, to host tactical fighter aircraft.”
Development on Fiery Cross Reef
I think the Admiral probably said "revetted" and not "rebutted" but that's a minor note. The major note is that -
The top U.S. military officer in the Pacific sternly warned China on Friday to immediately cease its “aggressive coercive island building” in the South China Sea, which he argued was intended clearly for China’s military use as forward operating bases in combat against their regional neighbors.
UPDATE: These maps from an older post might be helpful in visualizing sea lanes a/k/a sea lines of commerce:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

China Checking

An interesting article from The Economist especially since the U.S. Pacific Command tweeted about it - Small reefs, big problems: Asian coastguards are in the front line of the struggle to check China
China’s neighbours are unnerved by its rapid increase in defence spending, in particular its pursuit of a blue-water navy. They note a Chinese president, Xi Jinping, who is not shy about flexing Chinese muscle. He likes to talk of China’s “peaceful rise” and of a “new type of great-power relationship”—one that appears to leave little space for small countries.

In both Beijing and Washington, strategists have long liked to grapple with whether America and China are destined to fall into a “Thucydides trap”. In the original, the Spartans’ fear of the growing might of Athens made war inevitable. The modern parallel states that an existing power (America) is bound to clash with a rising one (China). In Japan the point is made differently: at sea modern China is behaving with the paranoid aggression of imperial Japan on land before the second world war. “They are making the same mistakes that we did,” says a Japanese official.

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: The Shadow "The Man Who Murdered Time"

About the Shadow here.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Fun Film: "Friendship Begins at Home" (1949)

Yep, it's summer and the world is a mess. So, what better than a film about the problems of being a teenager in the post-World War II era?

Of course, for those of you for whom history has ended:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

That "JV" Team? Well, "FBI chief calls ISIS bigger threat to U.S. than al Qaeda"

CBS News has a video: FBI chief calls ISIS bigger threat to U.S. than al Qaeda
FBI Director James Comey credits social media with helping ISIS grow and influence others. He said Twitter accounts associated with the group have more than 21,000 English-language followers around the world.
FoxNews has Army chief Odierno, in exit interview, says US could have ‘prevented’ ISIS rise:
The Army’s top officer told Fox News Tuesday it’s “frustrating” to watch the gains he helped achieve in Iraq disintegrate at the hands of the Islamic State, saying in an exit interview that the chaos now unfolding “might have been prevented” had the U.S. stayed more engaged.
“It's frustrating to watch it,” Odierno said. “I go back to the work we did in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 and we got it to a place that was really good. Violence was low, the economy was growing, politics looked like it was heading in the right direction.”
Odierno said the fall of large parts of Iraq was not inevitable, reiterating concerns about the pace of the U.S. troop withdrawal there.

“If we had stayed a little more engaged, I think maybe it might have been prevented,” he said. “I've always believed the United States played the role of honest broker between all the groups and when we pulled ourselves out, we lost that role.”

In 2009, while still the top commander in Iraq, Odierno recommended keeping 30,000-35,000 U.S. troops after the end of 2011, when the U.S. was scheduled to pull out. The recommendation was not followed.
Hmmm. Someone made the decision to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq despite the advice of military commanders. Now, let's see, who was it?

Oh, yes - President Obama took credit in 2012 for withdrawing all troops from Iraq. Today he said something different.. Yep, trying to do the memory wipe. Obama adjusts Iraq narrative, now blames Bush for troop withdrawal: U.S. military airstrikes against Islamic State prompt revisionist history:
The president who spent years touting the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq suddenly has had to distance himself from that action.

At the White House on Saturday morning — less than 48 hours after authorizing airstrikes against Islamist militants and humanitarian air drops to save the lives of trapped Iraqi civilians — President Obama blamed his predecessor, George W. Bush, for the absence of American troops in Iraq and rejected the assertion that he could have left a small peacekeeping force in the war-torn nation.
"Could have?"

But didn't.

Now US citizens are looking at protecting themselves and others from the "JV."

Well, there's a nice retirement package for an ex-president, so he's got that going for him.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Emergency Waste Disposal

One disaster can quickly escalate in to many more if some basic sanitation needs are not taken care of - especially dealing with human waste. This is a very good thing to think about and plan for in advance.

A good starting point is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's Sanitation Solutions in Emergency Response Settings
- In response to disasters and emergencies, prevention of indiscriminate open defecation and containing waste is critical to reduce disease transmission.
- While planning for long-term waste management, immediate sanitation solutions are often needed to minimize public health impact during emergencies, and should include sanitation facilities, hand washing facilities with soap and water, operation and maintenance regimes, operator training, and community education. ***
While the CDC is mostly concerned with large scale solutions, the fundamental principles identified are important down to the individual level - it is vital to stay healthy and that includes keeping your bio-waste away from drinking water, food and habitation.

If you are building your own emergency kit, there are a number of alternatives:
  1.  Include a dedicated shovel with which to dig latrines or "cat holes" to bury your scat.
  2.  Buy a "bucket toilet" kit (Amazon has one for $36) that includes a "toilet seat," and bags to line the bucket.
  3. As noted here,  "Your first line of defense for emergency sanitation will still be the toilet in your own home—for a little while at least." - that "little while" being the time it dawns on you how much water is involved in flushing a toilet, most of it good potable water.
  4. One interesting product is the $30 "GottGo Toilet" from Global Sanitation Solutions

Of course, burning collected waste is another option - one used in extreme situations. There may or may not be health effects from using this method, see here.

If the plan is for a "privy" or "outhouse" special consideration must be given to safe placement so clean water supplies are not contaminated. See here,here and here.

Planning for disaster includes trying to estimate duration of the problem. Planning for 3 days without power and water is different than planning for a disaster that throws us all back into a pre-electric era as in an EMP event. As usual, it is probably a good idea to have some quick bucket or other limited use toilet available with the plans on hand to expand into a privy if necessary.

CSIS South China Sea Conference

Given the importance of the events happening in and around the South China Sea, it is good to see that you can view or listen to the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Fifth Annual CSIS South China Sea Conference because they have kindly put up multimedia coverage on their website which is at the link above.

The site also includes links to publications from the conference.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sea Piracy and Similar Stuff

Captured pirates respond to a survey "warships are a primary deterrent" to their going back to their previous field of work, reports DefenceWeb:
*** International naval presence was frequently reported as a concern or as making a significant contribution to deterring pirates. The same was true for armed guards aboard vessels, although to a lesser degree than the presence of warships. ****
Not too shocking - while private guards warn would-be pirates off with warning shots, warships tend to arrest them and arrange to have them thrown into jail. Also not too surprising, these incarcerated pirates took up piracy because they were poor and had few prospects ashore and they don't like being in prison. The flaws in the UN survey are discussed in the article.

Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide says Welcome to the New Piracy Capital by which they mean Southeast Asia:
According to a recent report from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and International Maritime Bureau (IMB), since the start of 2015, Southeast Asia has accounted for 55 per cent of the world’s 54 piracy and armed robbery incidents. According to these statistics, Southeast Asia has regained the reputation as the region in the world most afflicted by piracy.
Seems to be mostly based on the the first quarter of 2105 statistics and news releases like this One coastal tanker hijacked every two weeks in SE Asia , which is a variation of piracy in that most of those hijacked ships have all or part of their cargo pumped off into a "pirate" vessel and then the hijacked ship is released. Call it "cargo piracy."

Whatever you call it, here's a map extracted from the IMB's Live Piracy Map which shows (as of 21 July 15) how busy the area has been:

Since the Somali pirates have gone to ground, the area off the Somali coast and in the Northern Indian Ocean has been very, very quiet. There has also been a slowdown in West African activity, as seen (as of 21 July 15) by this extracted map:

The IMB and the folks at its Piracy Reporting Center who keep track of this stuff do a great job, and deserve much credit for helping to prompt counter-piracy activity around the world in recent years.

The U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence also does a nice job of keeping track of piracy and other threats to shipping here. Their Worldwide Threats to Shipping report is very extensive, as evidenced by these recent entries from West Africa:
1. (U) TOGO: On 14 July, near position 06:07 N -001:16 E, Lome Anchorage, the deck watch of an anchored container ship noticed a wooden boat with five individuals and no lights circling the vessel with the intention of climbing on board. Alarm was raised, crew was mustered and all exterior lights turned on. Seeing crew alertness
the occupants of the boat aborted their approach and moved away. No weapons were sighted. Togo Navy informed. (MTISC-GOG)
2. (U) NIGERIA: On 9 July, seven gunmen in two speedboats opened fire on the passenger vessel MV TARI while conveying passengers from Port Harcourt in Rivers State to Okpoama community in Bayelsa State. One person was killed in the attack and two persons, including the vessel’s master, were kidnapped. (

Monday, July 20, 2015

Interesting Series at the NY Times Reporting on the Unregulated (Often Deadly) Aspects of Part of Life at Sea

The first two articles by Ian Urbina covering some of the less pleasant aspects of life at sea are up at the NYTimes as a series on "The Outlaw Sea."
1.  Stowaways and Crimes Aboard a Scofflaw Ship
Few places on Earth are as free from legal oversight as the high seas. One ship has been among the most persistent offenders.
and 2. Murder at Sea: Captured on Video, but Killers Go Free:
A video shows at least four unarmed men being gunned down in the water. Despite dozens of witnesses, the killings went unreported and remain a mystery
Ships belong to and are legally controlled by their flag states. This may mean there is no control at all as a practical matter.  Often, in the absence of a civilizing force,  Hobbes was right with this:
Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.
(Hobbes, LEVIATHAN, Chap 13)
I guess in theory there could be some sort of policing done at sea, but like many theoretical things, the realities are that people are being killed, enslaved and otherwise maltreated at sea and the sovereign rights of nations rule.

If there is good news, the numbers of bad actors is really pretty small in the great scheme of things. The bad news is that by recruiting crews from dirt poor areas of the world that many of the crewmen so recruited are cowed into submission in order to keep what little money they earn.

I look forward to the next installments.

Man on the Moon

July 20, 1969. A nation - a world - glued to televisions as science fiction became science reality:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: "The Kraken Wakes"

Five part series, each segment about a half hour.

Melting ice caps, global climate change, population reduction - it's all here. Oh, and an alien invasion.

At the end of each segment it should roll right into the next one, but if it doesn't, you can go here to pick up the episodes.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Fun Film: "Navy Wings of Gold" (1964)

Today our younger son will put on his "Navy Wings of Gold" - joining his older brother in that fraternity.

Very happy for him - and for his fellow "wingees."

In honor of the occasion:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Isis in the Sinai claims Egypt's vessel 'rocket attack and destruction'

ISIS in the Sinai claims to have takena missile shot at an Egyptian "frigate" and destroyed the ship, as reported by the International Business Times in Isis in the Sinai claims Egypt's vessel 'rocket attack and destruction'

The Islamic State (Isis)'s offshoot in Egypt – the Sinai Province – claims it launched a rocket and destroyed an Egyptian Navy frigate in the Mediterranean sea. The IS affiliate released pictures of what it said was a guided anti-tank rocket attack on the vessel off the coast of northern Sinai, in Rafah, an area bordering Israel and the Gaza strip. The Egyptian military said it exchanged fire with militants off the coast and the boat caught fire, but there were no casualties as result of the incident. It did not mention that the boat was destroyed.
An official IS statement boasted online that the naval attack was the first of its kind and the start of maritme operations in the Mediterranean.
The vessel was tasked with patrolling Egyptian territorial waters and has been used to move army and police personnel to Egypt. According to terror expert Charles Lister, IS probably used an anti-tank guided missile for the attack similar to the ones used in the Sinai.

If true, the price of inshore patrolling in certain parts of the world has increased.

Seems about time to really go after these "JV" players.

You might recall about 9 years ago when an Israeli naval vessel was hit by a missile fired by Hezbollah, that time with Iranian support.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Storm Death Numbers

Our friends at the National Weather Service keep track of storm-related deaths. Kind of interesting, and by no means representative of the damage done by storms and floods and the like. See here:

Even better, they maintain a breakdown of annual storm impact by year which you can find by clicking on the left hand column of the above link.

Here's 2014 by the numbers:

As you can see, Washington was the deadliest state for weather deaths in 2014. A big chunk of those (43) were related to the massive mudslide near the town of Oso. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina caused Louisiana to record 820 deaths, Mississippi 187.

There is also a 74-Year List of Severe Weather Fatalities:

Total deaths over 74 years: 16,530.

To put that number in some sort of perspective, in 2013 32,719 people died in traffic crashes.

It is difficult to say how many of these deaths could have been prevented, but it would be safe to say many of them shouldn't have happened.

That's what preparing for disasters is all about - reducing risk of death and injury.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Iran Deal: Sanctions Lifted with Threat of More Sanctions

So there is an Iran nuke deal
Iran and world powers capped a decade-long dispute by reaching a historic deal early Tuesday for Tehran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.

The Islamic republic has been negotiating with the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China for years, with diplomats most recently extending numerous deadlines in hopes of arriving at a workable and comprehensive plan.

President Barack Obama said the deal with Tehran ensures that "every pathway to a nuclear weapon" had been cut off.

"We have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region," he said in an early-morning statement which — in a rare move — was carried on Iranian television.

Well, assume it's true. What's the downside to Iran if it cheats?
Obama said that if Iran violates the terms of the agreement, sanctions will be snapped back into place.

The deal is "not built on trust," he explained. "It is built on verification."
Oh my, more sanctions! I wonder if a strongly worded letter will accompany them?

And the sanctions?
The agreement includes the provision of a "snap back" mechanism that could lead to the reinstatement of sanctions within 65 days if Iran violates the terms of the deal, according to officials.
65 days is "snap back?"

Wow. No threat of immediate laying waste the countryside around Iran's nuke facilities and turning deserts into sheets of glass?

Alleged actual terms here.

Key phrase:
Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.
Personally I would have made a violation of that provision an act of war and opened up all kinds of possibilities.

But that's just me.

The President issues his own threat about this deal, Obama threatens to veto any attempt to block Iranian nuclear deal. I guess that's a "red line" then, isn't it?

Must be a good deal, then.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Box 13 with Alan Ladd

Box 13:
"Adventure wanted -- will go anywhere, do anything -- Box 13."

The premise of the program was that Dan Holiday was an author who wrote mystery novels. To get ideas for his novels he placed an advertisement in a newspaper saying "Adventure wanted, will go anywhere, do anything, Box 13." The ads always brought fun adventures of all kinds: from racketeer's victim to psychotic killer looking for fun. Most of the episodes were based on Dan Holiday replying to a letter he received at Box 13.S

Friday, July 10, 2015

On Midrats 12 July 15- Episode 288: "The Between the Ears Challenge"

Please join us on 12 July 2015 at 5pm (EDT, U.S.) for Midrats Episode 288: "The Between the Ears Challenge":
Are the growing feelings of crisis, confusion and strategic drift in the national security arena not so much the result of external challenges, but the result of poor thinking and intellectual habits on our part?

Using his article in The National Interest, “The Real Problem with the American Military” as a starting point, our guest for the full hour will be Dakota Wood, Senior Research Fellow on Defense Programs at The Heritage Foundation.

Dakota L. Wood, LtCol USMC (Ret.), Senior Research Fellow for Defense Programs at The Heritage Foundation.

Dakota served two decades in the U.S. Marine Corps. Following retirement, Mr. Wood served as a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Most recently, Mr. Wood served as the Strategist for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Special Operations Command.

Mr. Wood holds a Bachelor of Science in Oceanography from the U.S. Naval Academy; a Master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the College of Naval Command and Staff, U.S. Naval War College.
Join the show live if you can or pick it up later by clicking here. You will also be able to find the show later at our iTunes page here.

Friday Fun Film: Blue Angels 40 Years Ago "Wingtip to Canopy" (1975)

Navy Recruiting tool, the Blue Angels soar in their A-4 Skyhawks:

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Russia - #1 with a bullet

I seem to remember certain people yukking it up back in the last presidential election because of this:

Well, the prospective Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs today says Russia is top U.S. national security threat:
Russia presents the greatest threat to U.S. national security and its behavior is "nothing short of alarming," Marine General Joseph Dunford told lawmakers on Thursday as they weighed his nomination to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dunford also added his voice to those Pentagon officials who have supported providing lethal arms to Ukraine to help it defend itself from Russia-backed separatists, a step that President Barack Obama has so far resisted.

"My assessment today, Senator, is that Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security," said Dunford, the Marine Corps commandant, who is expected to swiftly win Senate confirmation to become the top U.S. military officer.

Relations between Moscow and the West have plunged to a post-Cold War low since Russia's intervention in Ukraine upended assumptions about the security of NATO's eastern flank.

"If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I'd have to point to Russia. And if you look at their behavior, it's nothing short of alarming," he said.
Give Putin some foam #1 finger thingies.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Disaster Communications - Portable Public Address Systems

Firefighter trumpet
Suppose a disaster strikes your business or your neighborhood. You have the need to get people moving out of buildings. Getting the word out is complicated by background noise and distance.

In the past, when human lung power was the driver, it was well known that an unaided shouting human voice could reach perhaps 100 yards. Perhaps greater range was obtained by cupping one's hands around the mouth to "focus" the sound. From cupped hands it was a short step to creating "speaking cones" or megaphones to enhance the human voice. Firefighter leaders
used "speaking trumpets" to make themselves heard. Even today a common feature of a firefighter logo carries the image of one of these trumpets on it.

At loud noisy venues, like a college football game, large megaphones were used by cheerleaders to get the crowd involved. Some coaches used them at

As the world has gotten more high tech, we've moved from shouting to using electronics to amplify our voices. Most emergency plans now call for the use of a "public address system" as an aid in moving from the chaos of an emergency to some sort of order. Emergency planning should include having equipment in place to communicate with workers, customers and neighbors that something is amiss or a threat is looming. See here.

Having equipment that is not dependent on normal electric sources is vital. For offices in a tall building, floor wardens might be issued battery powered bullhorns. There are many of these available. Some are more elaborate than others, as seen in the following demonstrations (I am not endorsing the products in the videos - just thought they made some good points):

With modern tech, there are developments of "wifi" driven public address systems, as set out here:
The WiFi Bullhorn is designed to assist emergency workers in the event of a disaster situation by offering a rapidly configurable wireless public address system for disaster sites. The current configuration plays either pre recorded or custom recorded messages and utilizes 802.11b networks for communication. Units can be position anywhere wireless coverage exists to help manage crowds or to recall first responders from dangerous areas.
See also here:
Whenever a crisis requires a large evacuation, effective communication is vital to the success of any response operation. All too often, emergency situations create obstacles to communication – power may be cut off, access routes may be blocked, isolated response teams may be operating with inaccurate information, or teams may have difficulty getting instructions to large groups of frightened civilians. The potential negative consequences for local governments, schools, businesses, sports arenas, and other public areas are obvious and overwhelming. ***
In establishing disaster preparedness plans, emergency personnel in all settings should have equipment on hand to guarantee that, whatever obstacles arise, communication lines will remain available. Such equipment needs to meet a number of criteria, including:
• Portability—the communication unit must go wherever the response teams go, with a minimum of weight and space.
• Power –the unit must operate with battery back-up for long time periods without the need for outside power.
• Versatility—one-to-one communication between team leaders must be available, as well as the capacity to address larger groups of responders and civilians.
• Cost Effectiveness—the unit must be affordable enough to be available to all sizes and types of response organizations, including in-house safety teams and local public safety officials.
All this is true for your home or workplace, too. Having even a low-cost battery powered bullhorn or its kin may save lives and help organize recovery.

For example, imagine a severe wind storm that has dropped trees onto streets in you neighborhood, rendering it impassable for emergency vehicles. With a bullhorn, you could direct people to walk to a safe spot - like nearby school or park, to which they can bring water, food, medical kits and slightly injured people for treatment. You could ask people in houses who need help or who are unable to walk to put out a sign of some sort so help can be directed to them.

The important thing is that communications is key - to quelling panic and to organizing a response. Portable public address systems can be an valuable addition to the disaster prep tool box.

Monday, July 06, 2015

There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch: Greek Edition

TANSTAAFL strikes Greece.

As Prime Minister Thatcher once said:
. . . Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them.

Or, as well stated here:
The Greeks held their breath and jumped off the precipice. The Greek debt crisis, and the outcome of a No vote in the referendum, is a perfect example of politics trumping economics.
Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland masked their debts to keep the illusion of solvency until the 2008 economic crisis eventually exposed their economic juggling. Greece was the first to collapse in 2009, and the first failure of the euro zone experiment. Five years of remorseless austerity has done little for the Greek economy. The only growth has been the debt.
Greece has the GNP of the U.S. state of Connecticut with 3.5x the population. See here, here and here.

Some nice analysis at Forbes The Future Of The Greek Economy:
The view that “monetary sovereignty” independence could be used wisely does not take into account that the type of government that has driven Greece to the edge of the cliff is not the type of government that would enact the reforms Greece needs to grow, including better tax collection, better infrastructure and a better business climate.
As the economic health of Greece deteriorates, the need for new loans and harsher austerity measures increases. Greece cannot count on other nations to pay its debt through debt forgiveness. In 2012, other countries provided loans on attractive terms with below-market interest rates, extended maturities, deferral of interest payments, and rebates on interest. This is why the present value of Greece’s debt is actually a fraction of its face value.
So, does Putin of Russia think he sees a crack in the NATO alliance caused by the Greek need for money? See this Barron's article More Than Economics at Stake in Greek Crisis Unlike Argentina or Thailand, Greece is a key NATO member. Opening for Putin?:
One alternative is for Russia’s Vladimir Putin to toss Greece a lifeline. That could potentially extend his sphere of influence and push back against Europe as effectively as his incursion into Crimea. This, of course, is all speculation.

But Tsipras flew to Russia as recently in mid-June to confer with Putin. The Greek prime minister also has been an outspoken critic of the EU’s sanctions against Russia over the de facto annexation of eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Russian economy and the ruble have rebounded despite the sanctions since the price of crude oil, the nation’s crucial export, has stabilized around $60 a barrel. As a reflection, the Market Vectors Russia exchange-traded fund (ticker: RSX ) is up 44% from its lows earlier this year. Putin would seem far from debilitated on the economic front.

Even though a Russian gambit is a long-shot outcome of the Greek crisis, the inherent problems of the euro remain.
Nice warm-water ports you have there, Athens.

Wait, you mean a Russian bailout would come with a price? TANSTAAFL, what's that?

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Vicksburg and Gettysburg

Two great victories in the Civil War were concluded in early July 1863. The long siege of Vicksburg, July 4 Mississippi was resolved :
Soldiers and civilians alike endured the privations of siege warfare for 47 days before the surrender of Pemberton’s forces on July 4, 1863. With the Mississippi River now firmly in Union hands, the Confederacy's fate was all but sealed.
Hancock at Pickett's Charge. Painting by Thure de Thulstrup, 1887. (LOC)
Of course, by July 3, 1863, the Union armies squeaked out a victory over secessionist invaders at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Confederate army never ventured north again, and Grant was brought in from the western front to take on Lee in attempting to break through to Richmond.

Vicksburg cut the Confederacy in two and greatly hindered the Confederates' logistics. Gettysburg ruined Confederate hopes for some sort of negotiated peace.

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: "You Are There: Declaration of Independence"

How it began . . .

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
So it began . . .

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Men and Boys: "Sounds Dangerous"

Found myself amused by this PJ Media Parenting post by Tricia Lott Williford,  Finally! Boys Explained: If It’s Fun, Let’s Make It Dangerous:
Little boys fascinate me. I mean really, truly fascinate me. They are fearless. Anything seems possible, and anything is worth trying. They are born with an implicit understanding that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission. If it’s fun, let’s make it dangerous. Loud is good and big is better. And if you can turn something small and meaningless into something big and loud and powerful? Well, that is really the ultimate victory.
Well, of course.

Ms. Williford must have missed this great bit from the movie The Right Stuff where Alan Shepard is being asked if he is interested in becoming an astronaut:

So, it's not just little boys, you see.

As Ms. Williford's son gets old enough, I suggest Boy Scouts. Knives and fire are sometimes involved, which makes it even funner.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Federal Housing Policy "Making America Look Like America" - in a demographic way

The residents of Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota should see some changes if the federal government effort on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing gets really serious.

Based on census data the percentage of Black or African American persons in the U.S. as a whole is about 13%. However, in Wyoming it is only 1.7%, in Montana .6%, and in North Dakota 1.8%.

Clearly these states, among others, are not doing their fair share in
improving integrated living patterns and overcoming historic patterns of segregation; reducing racial and ethnic concentrations of poverty; reducing disparities by race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability in access to community assets such as education, transit access, and employment, as well as exposure to environmental health hazards and other stressors that harm a person’s quality of life; and responding to disproportionate housing needs by protected class.

Other states, like Mississippi, successfully have attracted larger shares of African American or Black population (Mississippi leads at 37%) than other states, which gives states like Mississippi a huge advantage in establishing integrated living patterns, etc - at least as far as one part of a protected class goes. I mean, poor Montana doesn't have enough protected class representatives to do any of the things suggested by HUD in the above-quoted paragraph.

Obviously, what is needed for every state with a Black/African American population above 13% to encourage out-migration to states that fall below that number. According to the chart found here, and state below that 13% need to encourage immigration.

Percentage of population self-reported as African-American by state in 2010:    less than 2 %    2–5 %    5–10 %    10–15 %    15–20 %    20–25 %    25–30 %    30–35 %    35–40 %

By my reading of the chart, only 16 states are above 13% in this population group and 34 are below. So those states that need to get busy are:
Rank Black/AfAm pop %of total pop
17 Ohio 1,407,681 12.04%
18 Texas 2,979,598 11.91%
19 Missouri 704,043 11.49%
20 Pennsylvania 1,377,689 10.79%
21 Connecticut 362,296 10.34%
22 Indiana 591,397 9.07%
23 Nevada 218,626 8.10%
24 Oklahoma 277,644 7.96%
25 Kentucky 337,520 7.71%
26 Massachusetts 434,398 7.02%
27 California 2,299,072 6.67%
28 Rhode Island 60,189 6.36%
29 Kansas 167,864 6.15%
30 Wisconsin 359,148 6.07%
31 Minnesota 274,412 4.57%
32 Nebraska 82,885 4.50%
33 Colorado 201,737 4.28%
34 Alaska 23,263 4.27%
35 Arizona 259,008 4.16%
36 Washington 240,042 3.74%
37 West Virginia 63,124 3.58%
38 Hawaii 21,424 3.08%
39 New Mexico 42,550 2.97%
40 Iowa 89,148 2.68%
41 Oregon 69,206 2.01%
42 Wyoming 4,748 1.29%
43 Utah 29,287 1.27%
44 New Hampshire 15,035 1.22%
45 South Dakota 10,207 1.14%
46 North Dakota 7,960 1.08%
47 Maine 15,707 1.03%
48 Idaho 9,810 0.95%
49 Vermont 6,277 0.87%
50 Montana 4,027 0.67%

States needing to encourage out-migration for "furthering fair housing" purposes:
1 Mississippi 1,074,200 37.30%
2 Louisiana 1,452,396 31.98%
3 Georgia 3,150,435 31.4%
4 Maryland 1,700,298 29.44%
5 South Carolina 1,290,684 28.48%
6 Alabama 1,251,311 26.38%
7 North Carolina 2,048,628 21.60%
8 Delaware 191,814 20.95%
9 Virginia 1,551,399 19.91%
10 Tennessee 1,055,689 16.78%
11 Florida 2,999,862 15.91%
12 Arkansas 449,895 15.76%
13 New York 3,073,800 15.18%
14 Illinois 1,866,414 14.88%
15 New Jersey 1,204,826 14.46%
16 Michigan 1,400,362 14.24%

Won't it be better when we're all equal? It could be just like  the way universities work admission numbers to make sure all students benefit from exposure to peoples of different races, creeds, etc.

In case you are wondering, I am not trying to single a group out except as already done by the U.S. Census Bureau because I figure HUD is doing exactly the same thing.

It is clear that we will need to move Hispanic/Latino populations around too, so that each state has its 17% that represents that groups percentage of U.S. total population. New Mexico, Arizona, Florida, and California are clearly states that need to encourage out-migration of Hispanic/Latinos and Maine, Kentucky, Ohio, and New Hampshire to pick up their recruiting efforts. See here.

We also have work to do with Asians, since they are over-represented in California, the Northeast and major urban areas.

While the statistics for LGBT are mostly estimates, it appears (see here) that Washington, DC needs to move some LGBT persons out so as to provide more opportunities for the rest of the country to get even (DC at 10%, almost everywhere else is about 4%).

Demographically speaking, of course.

Of course, there is always the problem of clearly identifying who is what. Does my grandchild, who is half Filipino and half Caucasian, count as Asian or as White (non-Hispanic)? Can a person self-identify? Are we back to the "one drop of blood" standard? It's all so confusing.

Who decides? What happens if people refuse to immigrate/emigrate to/from the appropriate state? Can or will HUD force migrations? Will they punish Wyoming if it fails to meet some quota set in Washington, D.C. to attract more Asians? Will they punish Mississippi if it fails to lower its African-American/Black population percentage? Is federal funding for New Hampshire in danger? Will they learn lessons from the Chinese Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution or the Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge? You know, pursuing goals that view citizens merely as numbers and not as individual human beings.

I mean, this stuff from the HUD sounds ominous:
Local governments and States that receive Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA), as well as public housing agencies (PHAs) are required to affirmatively further the purposes of the Fair Housing Act. To better facilitate this obligation, as well as address issues raised by the Government Accountability Office, HUD proposes an improved structure and process whereby HUD would provide these program participants with guidance, data, and an assessment template from which they would complete an assessment of fair housing (the AFH). This assessment would then linkvto Consolidated Plans, PHA Plans, and Capital Fund Plans, meaningfully informing resulting investments and related policies to affirmatively further fair housing.
Wait, you think some people might object to being forced to move to Wyoming to meet a HUD goal? Huh.

UPDATE: Of course, right after I posted this, it occurred to me that I had left out the discussion of how encouraging the movement of "white (non-Hispanic)" persons from states with low protected class representation could also achieve the goals of making the numbers work, too. So, for example, encouraging white New Hampshire residents to move to Mississippi would both raise the % of protected class groups in NH and lower the % of protected class groups in Mississippi.

See, it's really easy. I should go into government planning.