Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2020

The motor company gets beat down by critics for lack of technology advancements and then they’re pummeled on social media by customers every time they sway off from tradition.

In this category, the rock and hard place are A) the need for change and B) the danger of following the buzz.  And, in an increasingly social media driven world it is easy, and tempting, to mistake the buzz and savvy social pundits for a real business opportunity.

Simultaneously, the Wall Street view of Harley-Davidson’s move into electric motorcycles being an enduring trend will likely come up dry.  Then the industry analysts believe the U.S. motorcycle market is in terminal decline and are not influenced by a “fun appliance” and the More Roads to Harley-Davidson plan.

But, for many riding enthusiasts, the motor company has introduced so many changes over the last few years its difficult to know where to start.  I’m not talking paint colors, rather engineering developments, i.e. water-cooled engines, Reflex Linked Brakes with ABS,  Reflex Defensive Rider System (RDRS), subscription-based cellular connectivity, advanced electronics with Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition (microphone/headphone fitted to the rider’s helmet), text to speech technology, sophisticated GPS navigation system, wind tunnel designs to reduce head buffeting, LED lights, revised manufacturing processes, 131 cubic inch Screamin’ Eagle® Crate Motor and the first great-looking electric motorcycle (LiveWire) along with a large number of smaller updates.

The list goes on and on….

Other than the fact that the motorcycles are not inexpensive and in several instances most everyone would consider as very expensive, there’s not much else really to grumble about.

Yet, Harley-Davidson stated yesterday in the Q4 2019 and year-end financial report that its motorcycle sales slipped again!  Despite multiple new models, electrification, expanded overseas operations and Brand strategies to resuscitate demand.

The 4th quarter 2019 net income was $13.5 million on consolidated revenue of $1.07 billion versus net income of $0.5 million on consolidated revenue of $1.15 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018.  That brought full-year 2019 revenue to $5.36 billion, compared with $5.72 billion in 2018.  For 2019, earnings were $2.68 a share, compared with $3.19 in 2018. Adjusted earnings for 2019 were $3.36 a share, down from $3.78.  Harley-Davidson sold 7% fewer units in Q4’19 than a year earlier. The U.S. dealers which account for half of worldwide Harley sales, saw their retail sales fall 3%.

CEO Matt Levatich tried to curb the narrative numbers skid (12th consecutive quarter of U.S. retail sales decline!) in the company’s announcement, saying, “Our performance in Q4 and the full year was in line with our expectations and indicative of increased business stability.”

I am reminded that in matters of business, it’s often the case that the most vehement of corporate assertions are at 180 degrees to inconvenient facts.

The freedom of the open road is all very well, but remaining in the marketplace and growing is key. The motor company should avoid “stooping to compete” with the rest of motorcycling (i.e. chasing buzz).  Harley is iconic because, instead of treating motorcycles as a commodity, it recognizes them as a basis for a lifestyle and a shared set of attitudes

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson

UPDATE: January 30, 2020 — added: 12th consecutive quarter of U.S. sales decline.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

52 Years Later—USS Pueblo

USS Pueblo (AGER-2)

Today marks the 52nd anniversary of an extraordinary event.

The USS Pueblo (AGER-2) was captured by North Korean forces on January 23, 1968 and forcibly taken to Wanson Harbor.  The ship was on a surveillance mission in international waters off the country’s coast.

The ship seizure was without question the largest compromise of information concerning the cryptologic community collection, processing, and reporting operations and techniques in U.S. cryptologic history.

Speaking of surveillance, the USS Pueblo was equipped with the latest and most sophisticated signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection equipment available in the U.S. inventory, with a capability to intercept and record North Korean voice and other communications particularly in the ultra high frequency (UHF) and very high frequency (VHF) spectrums. It had the standard WLR-1 electronic intelligence intercept receiver used throughout the naval fleet and had positions set aside to intercept Soviet telemetry.  When captured, the ship had more than 500 documents or pieces of equipment, including 58 technical SIGINT instructions, 37 technical manuals, 33 communications intelligence (COMINT) technical reports and 126 collection requirements. The USS Pueblo had copies of about 8,000 messages containing SIGINT data transmitted over the fleet operational intelligence broadcast. The broadcasts carried large amounts of information on Southeast Asia and China and thus collectively revealed the effectiveness of the U.S. collection efforts. The USS Pueblo also used four cryptographic systems, associated keying materials, maintenance manuals, operating instructions, and the general communications-security publications necessary to support a cryptographic operation.

The cryptomachines and manuals the North Koreans seized from the USS Pueblo were soon passed to the Soviets.  These were identical to those heavily used by U.S. Naval commands worldwide.

The Soviet acquisition or windfall of U.S. cryptographic equipment from the USS Pueblo, as well as the acquisition of U.S. keying material for the same machines from John Walker (more on this topic in a later post) beginning in late December 1967 and later from Jerry Whitworth, gave the Soviets all they needed to read selected U.S. strategic and tactical encrypted communications.

Un-Classified NSA Cryptologic Assessment

The ship attack and seizure was a major propaganda coup for North Korea.

The USS Pueblo 83 officers and enlisted men along with two civilian oceanographers — whose presence was intended to reinforce the ship’s cover story —  were held (beaten daily, humiliated, and starved) for 11 months!  Petty Officer Duane Hodges, 21, of Creswell, Oregon, died during the seizure, when North Korea first attacked the USS Pueblo. Mr. Hodges was  presented with the Silver Star Medal (Posthumously).

The spy ship tragedy briefly hit the news cycle a couple years ago, but at the time it seemed the incident was largely lost on the public.  Why?

You may recall, that in 1968, the USS Pueblo attack was overshadowed by Vietnam and all the other drama in that chaotic year.  There were assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. The riots that shook Washington, Chicago, Baltimore and other U.S. cities. Campus protests. Civil rights protests. Vietnam War protests. The Tet Offensive. The My Lai massacre. The rise of Richard Nixon and the retreat of Lyndon Johnson. There was the Black Power movement, “The White Album,” Andy Warhol, “Hair,” and Apollo 8.  It was an extraordinary year and the USS Pueblo fell through the cracks of the public consciousness because of everything else.

Sailor Belongings On Display At North Korea Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum

Initially newspapers ran profiles of the brave sailors captured by the evil North Korean Communists and the USS Pueblo was the main focus of national attention.  But, 7-days later, January 30, 1968, the Tet offensive exploded and the American public returned focus to Vietnam. Soon after, Walter Cronkite called for a Vietnam exit, a national debate flared up about the military’s request for more troops, and Johnson announced that largely because of Vietnam, he would not run for re-election. In the haze of Vietnam-related tumult, the USS Pueblo faded.

The U.S. military did take sweeping steps—many unpublicized—to prepare for a war with North Korea, but climatically they relented with a publicly repudiated written apology that freed the crew in December 1968.  After 335 days in captivity, and a written admission by the U.S. that the USS Pueblo had been spying, as well as an assurance the U.S. would not spy in the future — the men were sent to the Demilitarized Zone border with South Korea, and ordered to walk one-by-one across the “Bridge of No Return.”  Many of the men were crippled, malnourished and almost blind from the hideous torture they received.  After the last man had crossed the bridge, the U.S. verbally retracted all its admissions, apologies and assurances.

USS Pueblo Moored At Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum

I need not detail the aftermath, but the crew fought for years to have their reputations restored and it wasn’t until 1989 that the U.S. government finally recognized the crew’s sacrifice, and granted them Prisoner of War medals.  The story of the crew suffering and what happened has largely gone under-reported. Hopefully this blog post illuminates the rallying cry to “Remember the Pueblo.”

Currently, the USS Pueblo remains a commissioned naval ship and property of the U.S. Navy held captive.  It is moored in the Potong River at Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital.  It is being held as a trophy of war—a “tourist” attraction and propaganda piece for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) regime as part of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum.

In 2008, a U.S. Senate resolution declared the USS Pueblo as the first U.S. Navy ship to be “hijacked” by a foreign military in more than 150 years and proclaimed to show the world its resolve by getting the USS Pueblo back by whatever means.

A lawsuit in 2008 was brought by three members of the USS Pueblo crew, William Thomas Massie, Dunnie Richard Tuck and Donald Raymond McClarren, and Rose Bucher, wife of the Pueblo’s late commander, Lloyd Bucher.  The court awarded the three surviving crew members $16.75 million each, and Bucher’s estate $12.5 million for the abuse suffered during capture and the “physical and mental harm that (they) likely will continue to endure throughout the rest of their lives.”

In February 2018, a new lawsuit was filed in a federal court under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which allows victims to sue state sponsors of terrorism for torture, hostage-taking, personal injury or death.  More than 100 crew members and relatives of the USS Pueblo joined the lawsuit.  North Korea has never responded, but plaintiffs could recover damages for relief under a $1.1 billion dollar fund established by the Justice for United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act, which can be awarded to people who have “secured final judgments in a United States district court against a state sponsor of terrorism.”

In 2019, Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (CO.) announced a new resolution calling on the North Korean government to return the USS Pueblo back to the United States.  The resolution also directs the clerk of the House of Representatives to transmit copies of the resolution to the president, secretary of defense and secretary of state.  It states the U.S. Navy “would welcome” its return as “a sign of good faith from the North Korean people to the American people.”

To the service members who served on the USS Pueblo, I thank you for your sacrifices and service!

The end of the Korean War and the subsequent Armistice Agreement of 1953 has not resolved any of the issues that divide North and South Korea.  It is unlikely that Kim Jong Un’s regime will ever end their incendiary rhetoric, or send the USS Pueblo home or respond to any terrorism litigation.

More information can be found at the below links.

Crew Experiences and Psychology: HERE
USS Pueblo Naval History: HERE
Un-Classified NSA Cryptologic Assessment: HERE
Un-Classified CIA Assessment: HERE
LBJ Chronology Of Seizure Actions: HERE
USS Pueblo Website: HERE
The Pueblo Incident — U.S. Navy Film (28 minutes): HERE

Photos courtesy of: U.S. Navy; Korea Konsult AB; NSA Archives and Washington Post newspaper archives

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

It’s a reference to a song written by Bob Dylan and released as the title track of his 1964 album of the same name (video). Dylan wrote the song as a deliberate attempt to create an anthem of change for the time. Interestingly, the song addresses no specific issue and prescribes no concrete action, but simply observes a world in upheaval.

“Changes” is a relevant topic as the Oregon Legislature passed hundreds of bills last year during the short summer session.

I won’t bore you with the “Sustainable Shopping Initiative” and the HB 2509 upheaval, but what follows are some changes in 2020 that motorcycle enthusiasts might be interested in knowing more about:

HB 2017 — Vehicle registration fees are a-changin!  In 2020, some vehicle fees in Oregon will be based on miles per gallon (MPG) as part of “Keep Oregon Moving,” a major transportation funding program. If you have an electric vehicle or a car that gets more than 40 miles per gallon, you’ll have two options. You can pay the full fee up front to register or renew your tags, or you can pay a lower fee and a monthly per-mile charge for miles driven in Oregon if you join OReGO. The net-net is, drivers with more fuel-efficient vehicles end up paying more in registration fees. I’ve reached out to DMV for a statement on specific changes related to electric motorcycles and will update this post with any information. SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM. Oregon is one of a handful of states aggressively pursuing new registration fees (read more tax $$) for electric vehicles, in a preemptive move to capitalize on the shift to electric that is leading to lower gas taxes.

HB 57 — Were you recently pulled over and did the law enforcement officer fail to notice your change of address sticker on the back of your drivers license… which led to an even long(er) traffic stop? Good news!  HB 57 ends change-of-address stickers because Oregon DMV will no longer require stickers on drivers’ licenses, permits or ID cards when people change their addresses. It was estimated that ending the sticker program will save $550,000 a year in printing and postage costs. Those savings will go into the State Highway Fund to “support local and state roads.” Oregon law still requires driver license, permit and ID card holders to update the DMV with a change of address within 30 days of moving.

HB 2015 — Oregon becomes one-of-thirteen other states providing driver licenses for undocumented immigrants. Proponents of extending driver’s licenses to immigrants argue that licensing undocumented residents will lead to fewer hit-and-runs, more trust between immigrants and police, and increased revenue for DMV. Opponents assert that granting licenses to undocumented residents reduces the incentive to follow immigration laws and would lead to increased voter fraud, ID fraud, bank fraud and easier for terrorists/criminals to obtain fraudulent documents.

Whether or not you get twisted up around an ideological axle on this topic is your choice, but Oregon’s HB 2015 — the Equal Access to Roads Act — signed in July 2019, now allows undocumented immigrants to obtain their driver’s licenses, though they still aren’t eligible to vote. While undocumented immigrants don’t have to prove citizenship, they will still be required to pass a driving test, pay a fee, and prove they’re current Oregon residents. House Bill 2015 removes the requirement for individuals to provide proof of legal presence when applying for a driver license or ID card. However, after January 1, 2021, individuals applying for a standard driver license or ID card must still provide proof of full legal name and identity, date of birth, Oregon residency, and a Social Security number. If an individual has not been assigned a Social Security number, they must sign and submit a written statement with their application. The law was passed in 2019 and is only applicable for a standard Oregon driver license or ID card. Important to note is that standard driver license or ID card is not Real ID compliant. All other requirements such as proof of name, identity, date of birth and Oregon residency stay the same.

You might be asking why was this law signed in 2019 if it doesn’t go into full effect until 2021? According to the DMV talking points — they are implementing a number of changes in 2020, including a new computer system and the introduction of Real ID compliant cards in July 2020. Waiting until January 2021 allows DMV to update the technology to accommodate the undocumented immigrants law change. Oregon and 13 other states and Washington, D.C. currently issue driver licenses to individuals who do not provide proof of lawful status.

SB 998 — Oregon passes a version of the “Idaho Stop” law.  SB 998 now allows bicyclists to yield at stop signs rather than come to a full and complete stop before proceeding through an intersection. If you ride a motorcycle in the city of Portland, you’ve likely observed that bicyclists rarely come to a complete stop at stop signs. In 2020, bicyclists now have the option of yielding—rather than coming to a complete stop—at both stop signs and flashing red lights. Red lights still require a full and complete stop, and bicyclists must still yield to pedestrians and right-of-way traffic, and maintain a safe speed.

SB 792 — Do you like spending time at the salvage yard looking for motorcycle projects? Maybe you plan to start “Bill’s Cycle Heap” business this summer? A vehicle dismantler is anyone who takes apart motor vehicles. This often includes recovering, rebuilding, reselling or recycling parts from worn out or damaged vehicles. SB 792 modifies laws related to vehicle dismantler certificates and the plates and registration transfer from totaled vehicles. Notices submitted to the DMV stating that a vehicle has been totaled will allow the transferring of plates and registration from that vehicle to another. The transfer can’t take place if a salvage title was previously issued.

HB 2017 — The thrill of paying more $$ for fuel!  HB 2017 means Oregon’s current gas tax will jump up by 2 cents, the second of four increases approved in 2017. The Oregon Department of Transportation will use some of the additional funds (estimated at $60 million) to improve state roadways, and the remainder will go to Oregon cities and counties.

HB 3452 — U.S. Highway 26 across Oregon is officially designated a POW/MIA Memorial Highway now.  HB 3452 was sponsored by Central Oregon lawmakers.

A list of bills passed by the Oregon House in the 2019 session is: HERE

UPDATE: January 9, 2020 — Per Customer Assistance (Chelsi) at Oregon Department of Transportation (DMV) —  “All motorcycle fees (electric or otherwise) are the same. They are not based on the same MPG scale as passenger vehicles. Thank you for using our online services.”

Photos courtesy the State of Oregon and Creative Commons.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: