Throwback Thursday image issue solved

Thanks to all of you who notified me that the photo in my Throwback Thursday post was not loading.

It took a while for me to solve that issue.

When I was first notified of the problem, I saw that my link to the picture was being modified, and it was the modified link that was not loading.

I had visions of being hacked, and having all visitors getting infected by some unknown bit of malware.

But the folks at the outside security service I use to defend my site, Sucuri.com, explained the problem.

They pointed to Jetpack, a WordPress utility that provides several services, including one that is supposed to speed up loading of pictures. It was that part of Jetpack that wasn’t working and led to the error messages users were getting.

Their advice was simple. Disable that part of Jetpack. As soon as I disabled it, the problem disappeared. They provided a link to a partial explanation.

So that’s the bad news and good news. The problem caused lots of aggravation on Thursday, both to those of you trying to look at the photo and to me trying to figure it out. But it wasn’t an infection that will affect you.

Anyway, please go back and check out the photo! You’ll enjoy it.

Throwback Thursday: Bedroom secrets 1998

In January 1998, we rescued two kittens that had been thrown from a moving car along Kahekili Highway near Kaneohe. We immediately turned around and headed for our vet’s office, in what was then called the Temple Valley Shopping Center. The kittens, both females, had been well cared for before being dumped out of the car, and we quickly named them Kili (for the Kahekili Highway) and Wally (for a set of Wallace silverware that we had been going to bid on at an auction that morning in Honolulu. Instead of the silverware, we arrived back home in Kaaawa with something (somethings?) much more valuable.

These kittens quickly became big parts of our lives.

This photo was taken later that year. I’m guessing it was probably mid-summer. I managed a selfie while Ms. Wally was helping me during an afternoon nap. As you can see, we were color coordinated.

They grew up to be mighty fine cats and lived long lives. We were all very lucky.

Ms. Wally

Honolulu Ethics Commission finds no conflicts in legal campaign support from special interests

Back in September 2015, I examined assertions being made by Kioni Dudley that ethics laws required Honolulu City Council members who received significant contributions from development interests, or who benefited from the independent activities of Super Pacs supporting the development of Hoopili, to recuse themselves from decisions regarding the development, which Dudley has strongly opposed. He suggested that the votes could be voided as a result of their failure to recuse themselves.

At the time, I described his view as an interesting theory, but one that was not supported by a clear reading of the law. Essentially, the city ethics provisions explicitly allows council members to solicit and accept legal campaign contributions. And as to the independent activities of Super Pacs, candidates could not be required to disclose those because, by definition, any such expenditures are independent of the candidates.

Yesterday the Honolulu Ethics Commission issued two opinions which generally agreed with my assessment of the two issues raised.

Advisory Opinion 2017-1 found that independent expenditures by Super Pacs do not create a conflict of interest for council members who benefit from their activities because “they are made without the coordination of a candidate or a candidate’s campaign and are therefore too attenuated.”

The opinion quotes from a federal court decision in the case of Yamada v. Kuramoto.

Although the government might still limit contributions made directly to candidates or parties, “the need for contribution limitations to combat corruption or the appearance thereof tends to decrease as the link between the candidate and the regulated entity becomes more attenuated.” If the organization receiving contributions truly engages in only independent expenditures, the link is not only attenuated—it is broken. An anti-corruption or appearance of corruption rationale is nonexistent.

Advisory Opinion 2017-2 addresses the issue whether a candidate who receives 40% or more of their campaign contributions from a special interest group has a conflict of interest as a result of those contributions.

The commission found that the matter is beyond their jurisdiction “because campaign contributions, regardless of amount, are specifically excluded from said section.” That’s the same thing I pointed out back in my 2015 post.

Furthermore, the opinion properly notes that the Campaign Spending Commission has “primary and exclusive jurisdiction over campaign issues,” and so the campaign laws preempt the kinds of issues Dudley has raised.

Fraudulent link between vaccines and autism continues to damage public health

There was a good article in the Washington Post today looking at the continuing public debate over use of vaccines to combat childhood diseases (“Trump energizes the anti-vaccine movement in Texas“).

The Post is no longer holding back in its news reporting on such issues.

For example:

President Trump’s embrace of discredited theories linking vaccines to autism has energized the anti-vaccine movement. Once fringe, the movement is becoming more popular, raising doubts about basic childhood health care among politically and geographically diverse groups.

Public health experts warn that this growing movement is threatening one of the most successful medical innovations of modern times. Globally, vaccines prevent the deaths of about 2.5 million children every year, but deadly diseases such as measles and whooping cough still circulate in populations where enough people are unvaccinated.

Later in the article, the Post states directly: “The modern anti-vaccine movement is based on a fraud.” A study published almost 20 years ago purported to show a link between childhood vaccines and autism. The data was later found to be falsified, and the study was retracted.”

And there’s an important link to a report in thebjm discussing how the research that originally claimed a link between childhood vaccines and autism was rigged when the researchers were paid to come up with data to support a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers. It was later shown the data were manipulated and rigged in order to show a relationship that didn’t actually exist.

See also:

“British Doctor Faked Data Linking Vaccines to Autism, and Aimed to Profit From It”, Popular Science, January 2011.

The research linking autism to vaccines is even more bogus than you think,” Vox.com, January 2017