01/15/18

Hawaii False Alarm vs. U.S. Interceptors and Don’t Travel Warnings

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

WASHINGTON — The final ground-based interceptor for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system — designed to protect the homeland from intercontinental ballistic missiles threats from North Korea and Iran — is now in place at Fort Greely, Alaska, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency has confirmed.

“MDA and Boeing emplaced the 44th interceptor in its silo at the Missile Defense Complex at Ft. Greely on Thursday, Nov. 2,” the agency said in a statement sent to Defense News.

The agency planned to have all 44 required interceptors in the ground and ready to respond to threats by the end of 2017. The Pentagon and the MDA have indicated in recent months a serious move to build up beyond 44 interceptors. In September, the Pentagon proposed reprogramming $136 million in fiscal 2017 to start raising the number of ground-based interceptors from 44 to 64 in a new Missile Field 4 at Fort Greely. The boost was part of a $416 million reprogramming request targeting missile defense needs. And the White House submitted a supplemental budget request for FY18 on Nov. 6 that asked for further funding to increase the number of ground-based interceptors by 20 and to build an additional missile field at the Alaska base.

While the left is quick to blame President Trump on the matter of a nuclear North Korea, including Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and those in Hollywood, Kim Jung-Un has been collaborating and testing nuclear weapons and missiles long before Trump entered the White House. They omit the fact that in the last 8 years, Obama did nothing….NOTHING.

Americans can travel to North Korea, if they wish — but it may just be a death wish, the U.S. State Department cautioned.

The State Department last week issued a stark warning to people setting out for the Hermit Kingdom, cautioning that anyone heading to the dangerous dictatorship should prepare for the possibility of not returning.

“The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in North Korea as it does not have diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea,” the State Department published Wednesday on its website.

Those who wish to travel to North Korea must be approved for a special validation, which are handed out on “very limited circumstances.” U.S. travelers given the approval to experience Kim Jong Un’s regime should then prepare for the worst — including drafting a will and making funeral and property arrangements with family and friends.“Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney; discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.,” according to the recommendations.  More here.

“On December 28, there was a large number of personnel (~100 to 120) observed in seven different formations whose purpose is unknown in the Southern Support Area,” it adds.

“It is rare to observe personnel in this area,” the report says.

The report concludes that such activities “underscore North Korea’s continued efforts to maintain the Punggye-ri site’s potential for future nuclear testing.”

News of apparent active nuclear test site comes just days after North Korean officials met with South Korean officials for the first time in more than two years. More here.

Meanwhile there is the matter of the false alarm in Hawaii….

Hawaii Gov. David Ige claimed Saturday that alert was the result of an official simply “[pressing] the wrong button” during an employee shift change, but broader questions remain. Why didn’t I get the notification here in San Diego, well within the range of intercontinental ballistic missiles that North Korea has tested in recent months? And assuming you weren’t lucky enough to be on a beach in Hawaii when the alert went out, why didn’t the average U.S. citizen receive one where they live?

To understand today’s scare, it’s important to understand how our national emergency alert system functions. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) is the systematic approach laid out by the federal government for departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to prevent, respond to, recover from, and mitigate any and all kinds of incidents, no matter the size or scope. NIMS dictates that the initial authority for disaster response resides at the county level, so that’s where most Mass Notification Systems that participate in the Emergency Alert System network reside.

The Emergency Alert System network is layered between federal, state, county, and local authorities through a system called the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) and controlled through the IPAWS Program Management Office at FEMA. The IPAWS PMO encourages partners to regularly test public alert and warning systems; in fact, the IPAWS Modernization Act of 2015, ratified in April 2016, requires IPAWS PMO to test the system not less than once every three years.

All systems compatible with IPAWS use the Common Alerting Protocol, an international standard, to send public alerts and warnings between systems and jurisdictions. State and local agencies, like Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), have their own systems, produced by a variety of manufacturers, to alert the public when a natural or manmade disaster is occurring or imminent. These mass notification systems use a variety of mediums to communicate danger to wide (or very narrow) swaths of people: they’re capable of desktop alerts, text messaging, reverse 9-1-1, email, Wireless Emergency Alerts, announcement or siren over a loudspeaker, and more. All systems in use on bases, municipalities, and other agencies are IPAWS compatible but not all can send information two-way; most of the bases operate in a receive-only manner.

Related: Ballistic Missile False Alarm That Sparked Panic In Hawaii Caused By Wrong Button, Officials Say »

These systems, the modern version of the CONELRAD (Control of Electromagnetic Radiation) method of emergency broadcasting established in 1951 at the outset of the Cold War, are powerfully effective in their ubiquity and power. Mass notification systems happen to be excellent tools for public awareness, and required testing can take any form. On many military bases, for example, the systems are tested each morning and night by using loudspeakers to play colors. Pretty smart, eh?

The specific kind of alert that Hawaiians received while they slept in or ate breakfast this morning was a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA). WEAs use a different technology than voice calls or text messages and can only be used in three situations: 1. Alerts issued by the President; 2: Alerts involving imminent threats to safety or life; or 3: Amber Alerts. Participating carriers may block all but Presidential alerts.

The good news about WEAs are that they are location specific: even if you happened to be a tourist visiting Hawaii this morning, you would’ve received the alert (so long as your carrier participates). Carriers who do not participate are required to notify consumers, but the major carriers have all opted in. But the big problem, obviously, is that they’re more subject to human error than their military counterparts.

Now, civilian agencies probably don’t have the capability to detect ballistic missile launches, so in a real-life incident that message would have to come from the military, likely U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) headquartered right there in Hawaii. PACOM would notify their base Emergency Operations Center (EOC) who would pass it up to the Regional EOC. Of note, the bases usually don’t have control of the WEA tech and can notify only those registered in their systems (but can receive all IPAWS notifications). Because of that, the base or regional EOC would have to notify Hawaii EMA for transmission. That didn’t happen today because there wasn’t a ballistic missile inbound.

The governor of Hawaii claims that during a shift change, an operator simply hit the wrong button. Well, it doesn’t exactly work that way. These alerts are not actuated by physically pushed buttons because the number of buttons that would require, for all of the different types of alerts, would be unwieldy. An operator would either type in the desired alert (or select from canned messages), select which communications mediums they’d like to use and the populations they’d like to alert, and then hit “send” and then again confirm that they really want to send that message. The canned messages might be available as electronically selectable on a computer screen (like a Windows button) but a “confirm” dialogue would still be required.

Time will tell what really happened, but as a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) who helped set up the Mass Notification System for a major military base, I know that what likely occurred was a serious breach in procedure at Hawaii EMA. The authority who issued today’s alert and then took 40 minutes to send a retraction on WEA. PACOM immediately released a message saying that there was no threat, so why didn’t Hawaii EMA immediately send a retraction via WEA? There are serious implications associated with false alerts. What happens when an alert about a tsunami, wildfire, or active shooter are real and people ignore them?

Maybe we were hacked, as some have alleged, but probably not. No matter what happened, someone must be held accountable for this egregious breach of professionalism — and that person is almost definitely sitting at HI-EMA. Let’s hope that this scare motivates agencies across the nation to take a look at their own procedures. And let’s hope Gov. Ige holds his team accountable. Hat tip.

01/15/18

MAGA – Make American (high schools) Great Again! Part II of III

By: Thomas Wigand | New Zeal

PART I of: MAGA – Make American (high schools) Great Again!

CURRICULUM

As discussed in Part I, Progressive “educators” have hijacked our education system, one of the critical “institutions” in their Gramsci-inspired “long march through the institutions.”  The following curriculum, along with the rest of the proposals in this series, is intended to provide a roadmap for taking back our educational system – re-Americanizing it as we de-Progressivise it.  To be sure, some of the proposed curriculum that follows has previously been proposed by others – the “three R’s” being an obvious example – but much is new and unique, and game changing in ways that will beneficially resonate well beyond education itself (as will be discussed in Part III of this series).

As would be expected, what used to be called “the three R’s” — readin’ writin’ and ‘rithmetic” – will be first and foremost (plus science, of course). Literacy in those areas is the foundation not just for a lifetime of learning, but for workplace success. To achieve this, we need not reinvent the wheel – dusting off the archives and modeling based upon how these subjects were taught before the 1960’s would provide a sound starting point. Then, benchmark “best in class” levels of academic achievement. For that benchmarking, we could utilize, e.g., the OECD  measures of worldwide achievement and, for each subject, target the current world leader in that subject area as our bogey. That, in turn, would provide the threshold for what would constitute an A- grade in our schools (since the bogey equates to the average achievement in the highest performing country, we should reserve A’s and A+’s for our students who beat that average).

The OECD PISA average scores for 2015 (the most recent available). The purple bars represent “average” while the red bars represent the USA. The United States of America is below average in math; barely above average in reading and science.

It’s not like the US’s mediocre results are because our K-12 system is starved for cash; other than the outlier of Luxembourg we lead the world in per pupil spending (we’re in red).

But the “three R’s” are just the beginning. We need HISTORY (with a civics component); ECONOMICS; and PERSONAL FINANCE. (We won’t here devote space to the personal finance element, other than to note that imparting a working knowledge of budgeting; compound interest vs. compound investment returns; and “gross” vs. “net” can be life-changing for those about to enter the workforce, and who have decades remaining for saving and investment. If they play their cards right, they won’t really need Social Security or Medicare.)

HISTORY: The history component would gravitate around American history, accurately presented as a culmination of the world history that is its ancestor and so preceded it, particularly Western Civilization (which might be received more enthusiastically than one would first expect). This preceding history will be presented as the building blocks for our Founding Fathers considerable knowledge of history, and their learning from others’ mistakes while designing our own form of government, culminating in the crafting our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

George Washington “taking a knee” in prayerful reverence. Would it not be beneficial for our young people to learn about this, instead of just being exposed to the spectacle of NFL useful idiots “taking a knee” to dishonor our country?

In other words, our history curriculum will emulate our Founding Fathers’ own acquisition of knowledge of the (preceding) world, of human nature – and, not the least, of our Judeo-Christian heritage, which is inseparable from our founding – then their distilling the wisdom gained to design our (divinely inspired) nation. None of this is to imply the omission or whitewashing of the darker elements of our nation’s history – such as the long delay in eliminating slavery (albeit in historical terms it occurred within a short period of time). But instead to present them in proper context – as examples of the consequences when we don’t adhere to our founding principles – and also placed into context compared to the even darker sides of history that have occurred throughout human history.

Instruction in those darker sides must include instruction (comparative courses) on the counter-founding political philosophy that arose during the 18th century (Robespierre and the French Revolution) and 19th century (Marxism). A political philosophy that, since its inception, has endeavored to replace our divine founding specifically, and displace Judeo-Christian Western Civilization overall – that would be Collectivism and its component subsets – Marxism / Communism; Socialism; Fascism and Progressivism. Collectivism’s utopian theory vs. its actual historical results would be elemental in our curriculum. For example, mandatory reading on this subject should include Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago” (I read it over one summer during my college years, during the Jimmy Carter malaise era, and it hammered-home for me how lucky I am to have been born an American). Other instruction regarding Collectivism’s history of tyranny and mass murder – Soviet gulags; National Socialist (Nazi) concentration camps; Communist killing fields and cultural revolutions – will do much to place the “evils” of the United States of America into proper historical context. Indeed, this education would go along way toward making, amongst the young, the currently ubiquitous t-shirts of “Che” quite passé.

ECONOMICS: Which brings us to economics, as that subject also (allegedly) provides the theoretical underpinnings of Marxism. Age-appropriate curricula in (practical) economics holds the promise of providing young students with some exposure to how the real world works – human nature (e.g., people operating from perceived self-interest); business operations and how they succeed and fail in free-market economies – and so by extension why, over the long run, Collectivism never works in the real world.

This writer proposes that we use the following model for the economic curricula – a model also suitable for the other subjects within our curriculum: first, bypass the educational establishment and employ “our” experts to develop the curriculum content. In the case of economics, possibilities would include engaging luminaries such as Dr. Thomas Sowell and Dr. Walter Williams, and organizations such as FEE (Foundation for Economic Education) and the Mises Institute. The end product will be far superior than the current “pedagogy” developed by corporate textbook oligarchs in service of “professional educators” (that are actually Leftist ideologues promoting a Collectivist agenda disguised as educational content).

Last but not least – as advocated by Mike Rowe – a reinvigoration of vocational education for those who have the aptitude and inclination. This would provide a meaningful foundation to springboard into the workforce those who, whether by inclination or preference (or both), are inclined to make an honest living performing the non-glamorous but indisputably essential tasks performed by tradespersons and manufacturing workers.

Which brings us to how to build the transmission mechanism of this curriculum into the curious young minds that are the future of our country.

TRANSMISSION of the CURRICULUM

Essential for our means of transmission is the long sought, but still elusive voucher system in which the money follows the child. For you see, with such vouchers “private” schools would become economically viable and, being independent of the Progressive-designed and controlled “public” K-12 system, could utilize our new curriculum from day one. Such schools would be free to engage genuinely qualified teachers (including those untainted by those indoctrination factories that spew forth “college of education” graduates); they would also be free of the educrat bureaucracy and teacher-union propensity to institutionalize mediocrity.

Further, a voucher system such as this could allow home school parents to pool their voucher money to, e.g., rent a nearby facility as their “school” (and daycare center?) and share instructional and supervisory duties amongst themselves – kind of a home-schooling co-op.

To help ensure quality and reduce costs, the curriculum described above could (should!) include taped / streamed classroom sessions and lectures by luminaries such as the aforementioned Drs. Sowell and Williams. This would help ensure the quality of presentation and the integrity of the content (no local teacher censoring or bypassing the content). Additionally we would, of course, have written materials, reading assignments, and (at least in part) uniform testing (which could be offered as standardized tests given over the Internet, and graded in whole or part by computer, which would lower costs while providing uniform results against which parents can benchmark their own children’s progress).

This entire curriculum could be “open source” in the sense of being offered at no charge, or nominal cost, and to any parent, or groups of parents, or private school that wishes to utilize it – enabling all to harness a world-leading curriculum at negligible expense (and thus affordable). Think the Khan Academy on steroids.

The personnel for the local K-12 schools would be / could be local teachers (or teaching assistants) in private schools; qualified volunteers (such as subject matter expert senior citizens); home-schooling parents (or a consortium of home schooling parents banding together).

Currently the K-12 system is a near monopoly controlled by bureaucrats and teachers that almost to a person are graduates of the far-Left (i.e., Progressive) indoctrination centers known as “teacher colleges,” unionized in teachers unions run by far-left (i.e., Progressive) apparatchiks, polluting our young persons’ minds with “politically correct” curricula (enabled by collaborator textbook publishers) – all intended to mold them into future useful idiot believers in the far-Left Progressive cause. This author would argue that it, like Collectivism itself, is at root Satanically inspired … intended to undermine our divinely-inspired nation from within. But even if one is not prepared to go there, the OECD results included above confirm that the current Progressive hegemony over our K-12 must be broken-up, lest we remain mired in expensive mediocrity. The foregoing proposals are intended to suggest some means for doing so; but also provide the catalyst for something even broader – something both revolutionary and utterly game-changing for our entire country.

Next in Part III, the game changing impacts that could be the result …

Mr. Wigand is the author of Communiqués From the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracywhich is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.  Comments or questions for Mr. Wigand may be sent to: [email protected] — he will make every effort to personally respond to every email.

01/15/18

Tagging/Tracking Phone App?

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

Some of the new cell phone Apps have me blown away; my being from an older generation where we put coins into a payphone to let our parents know we were on the way home and might be a few minutes late.  Take for instance the camera functions that let you take a snapshot of someone.  When you look at the image in your gallery the GPS program has automatically identified and marked the image as per the location where that photograph was taken via a GPS satellite synchronized with Google Maps.

No, I’m not making this up; it’s already a part of our everyday lives.  Now take that another step forward, maybe three or four days from now…

You take a picture and your fancy cell phone not only captures the image but latches onto the digital signature of the other person’s cell phone and combines this information so that the next time you view the photograph it gives you an update on where the holder of that cell phone is located in real time.  Sounds a little far fetched, doesn’t it?

I love the creativity presented by J.K. Rowling and the talented folks who’ve transformed her books into Harry Potter movies; the earlier ones being my favorites compared to the dark and ominous later movies.  Take for instance The Prisoner of Azkaban with the Marauder’s Footstep Map showing the real time location of anyone at Hogwarts Castle; Roaming the halls at night with only his magic wand and this magical map exposed lots of secrets, some of which are quite interesting if you’re a true Potterfan.

How interesting would it be if your cell phone camera could mimic the Marauder’s Map, showing the location of anyone you’d taken a picture of?

“Hey, ya’ll, Fred’s at the Texas Burger down in Madisonville.  Let’s drive on over and surprise him”.   Or perhaps, “I didn’t see John at church today.  Never mind”, pointing to a thumbnail image of him on Goggle Maps up in Dallas, “…he’s visiting his sister this weekend”.  The opportunities would be endless.

Could such an App be used as a tool for police to catch criminals, “Suspect is westbound on Main, just went behind the drug store and appears to be hiding in the alley”.  Then again… would it be another violation of privacy the NSA uses to compile information on citizens in their supposed quest to keep track of terrorist activity?  All they’d need is a snapshot taken with this new fangled technology…

My trip to the near future was a bit unsettling; maybe we should go back to using old fashioned film cameras…lucky for me I still have my old Kodak Brownie, somewhere.