Lynn Squance

Dec 212017
 

It rained a few nights ago but stopped early the following morning.  By noon, it was -1 C (30F) and snowing.  It snowed for the rest of the afternoon and early evening.  Looking at the parking lot outside, there is plenty of ice under the snow.  Yesterday was clear and cold, and definitely very icy.  I made it to physio  but my student cancelled our session.  The rest of the week is busy too, including Sunday evening when I will have Christmas dinner with friends.  I am responsible for multigrain dinner rolls and fresh pomegranates.

Short Takes

The Nation — As 2017 winds down, signature gatherers across Florida are on a last push to qualify the Voting Rights Restoration Initiative for the 2018 ballot, an initiative that, if it passes, would restore voting rights to well over a million Floridians.

The campaign needs just over 766,000 certified signatures to qualify the initiative for the ballot. Since many signatures in any such drive are ultimately disqualified, campaigners are aiming for 1.1 million signatures statewide that they can take to the division of elections in Tallahassee, the state capital, for review and certification by the February 1 deadline. To do this, they have to submit all of their signatures to the counties by the end of this year, so that the counties can in turn forward them to Tallahassee.

So far, organizers believe they have close to 1 million signatures. In the next 10 days, they will be making their final push.

A few days ago, I published a piece, Voting Rights for Felons — A Contrast Between Two Countries, about restoring the voting rights of felons and ex-felons.  In Florida, felons’ voting rights were restored in 2007 provided they had served their time.  But then, in 2011, Republican Governor Rick Scott reversed those reforms and felons were permanently stripped of their voting rights.  Let us hope that this ballot initiative does not meet with foul play from Republican Governor Rick Scott or others.  This is democracy in action.

TPM — Republican Roy Moore and hasn’t conceded his 20,000-vote loss to Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama’s Senate race, and provisional ballots and military votes totals announced Wednesday aren’t enough for Moore to close the deficit.

Jones beat Moore on Dec. 12 to become the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Alabama in a quarter-century. Moore was beset by allegations of sexual misconduct involving teenage girls decades ago.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill announced Wednesday that a total of 366 military ballots were returned from overseas and 4,967 provisional ballots were cast. Even if all of those votes went to Moore, that is well short of the 20,000-vote deficit that Moore would need to close the gap. It also would not be enough to trigger an automatic recount.

It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person.  To my knowledge, Moore still hasn’t conceded defeat and is now on a tear, according to Raw Story, blaming Muslims and Marxists.  In a FB post, Moore “… attacks Democrats for registering minorities to vote and warns Republicans that these minorities could end up toppling their rule.”  I wonder how long it will be before Moore concedes. 

Roy, go home and don’t bug us again. 

The Hill — A group of House Republicans has been quietly investigating the Justice Department and the FBI for weeks over concerns the agencies improperly handled the unverified contents of a dossier alleging ties between President Trump and Russia.

Politico reported Wednesday that the group, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), has been quietly working without the knowledge of the committee’s Democrats alongside the House investigation to examine what they see as corruption in the nation’s highest law enforcement body.

In a related Hill story, “Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Oh.) said late Saturday that he received an assurance from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) that subpoenas would be issued for various senior FBI and Justice Department officials amid increased GOP allegations of anti-Trump bias in the bureau.”   These Republicans should make better use of their time and do the People’s business, not Trump’s.  Devin Nunes is the last person who should be doing this investigation.  Plus, not including Democrats on the investigation is unconscionable, yet so Republican.  Further proof that Republicans need to go the way of the Whigs . . . or the dodo bird! 

My Universe

A beautiful and determined Bengal cat decided that she wanted to get away from all the noise downstairs and skillfully carried her matching bed up the stairs and around the curve despite the fact it was at least twice her size.

 
Share
Dec 202017
 

Within the past few days, JD mentioned Ady Barkan, a father, a husband, a son who has been stricken with ALS but is not taking things quietly.  Ady Barkan is an activist who was arrested on his birthday very recently for taking on the Republican party’s tax scam legislation.  Did I say ‘legislation’?  That is too legitimate sounding, too dignified for this piece of crap bill.  Thanks JD for the tip.

Disabled Activist Ady Barkan: ‘Republicans Don’t Have The Heart To Look Me In The Eye’

Ady Barkan is a fierce activist fighting for democracy, health care, and his own life. He suffers from ALS and will need a ventilator shortly to keep him alive and breathing while his 18-month old son grows up. Barkan is also the campaign director for Fed Up and Campaign for Democracy, and has been fighting in…

/

 

Posted from Crooks and Liars

 

So, what are YOU going to do?

As Ady says, it may not be today, but the People have the moral high ground now and must continue to fight for the political high ground in 2018.  In the end, it is the People who will win!

To honour Ady’s request, that website is:

www.stopgoptaxscam.com

Share
Dec 182017
 

It has been sometime since I last posted an Open Thread.  I have wanted to but just could not wrangle enough time to get it done before the issues became old news.  I have been working at this and a second piece all day, kept company by my 3 cats.  I did not even do my feature, “My Universe”, in the interests of my time.  Now I will post this to Care2 and start on TomCat’s offerings.

Short Takes

Washington Post — Shortly after Democrat Doug Jones wrested back one of ­Alabama’s solidly Republican U.S. Senate seats for the first time in more than two decades, President Trump offered an optimistic and forward-looking assessment on Twitter, congratulating Jones on his “hard fought victory.”

But by Wednesday morning, as Trump watched the unflattering portrait of the loss unfold on television, the president grew piqued at the notion that he, somehow, was responsible.

“I won Alabama, and I would have won Alabama again,” Trump said, according to a senior administration official. …

The president himself spread the blame. He faulted his former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, for selling him what one outside adviser described as “a bill of goods” in urging him to support Roy Moore, and he faulted Moore himself for being an abysmal candidate.

In the lead-up to Tuesday night, he had also groused about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), saying he had been too aggressive in trying to push out Moore.  …

A senior administration official, however, argued that Trump often acts as his own senior strategist and the White House doesn’t necessarily need an official political cranium.

There is the biggest problem — Trump does not listen to advice and consider it thoughtfully — Trump only listens to himself.  The next big problem, he gets lousy advice, whether he takes it from himself or from an adviser.

Open Media — Bell is desperate to censor Canada’s Internet. First they tried through NAFTA.1 Now they’re at it again through the CRTC.

Their radical proposal for website blocking with no court oversight would result in sweeping Internet censorship and put Canada’s robust Net Neutrality rules at risk.2

Shaw has come out in support of the proposal.3 But Telus and Rogers are still on the fence.4 If we can get them to come out against this proposal we can split Big Telecom on the issue, and significantly weaken Bell’s position.

Tell Telus and Rogers to oppose Bell’s censorship plan and stand up for Net Neutrality.

Canada, like the US, is fighting against telecoms which are threatening net neutrality.  Click HERE to bring up the letter to Telus and Rogers, 2 of the big 4 telecoms in Canada who have not yet expressed support for Bell’s position.  If you can help us with your signature, that is great!  Thanks

Newsweek  — The 25th Amendment to the Constitution may define the conditions for suspending a president’s authority, but it does not constrain the reasoning behind it.

As written, the amendment states that if a president “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office,” the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet can suspend him. Historically, such an inability was attributable to illness or medical problems, but, in light of President Donald Trump, I offer we expand our interpretation: Medicine aside, it is clear Trump is unfit to serve, and lawmakers must invoke the 25th Amendment against him.

Fears of physical disability were certainly foremost in bringing about the amendment. Going back to at least the 1890s, when President Grover Cleveland had surgery to remove a cancerous growth on his jaw, the country had been in jeopardy of being governed by a chief executive who had lost his physical capacity to lead the nation. In 1919-1920, when a stroke immobilized Woodrow Wilson, and his wife largely ran the executive branch, Americans worried about finding a way to overcome temporary or permanent presidential incapacity.

Franklin Roosevelt’s tenure in the White House added to the sense of urgency about replacing a disabled president. By 1944, it was clear to people around Roosevelt that his health was in decline and that he might not live out a fourth term, which proved to be the case.

Ten years later, in the midst of the Cold War, when Dwight Eisenhower served in the Oval Office and suffered a heart attack that temporarily sidelined him, the need to do something about presidential health became more compelling, or so it seemed to the country’s governing authorities. With Lyndon Johnson in the White House, and questions swirling about his rationality in response to the stalemated war in Vietnam, political leaders from both parties saw the wisdom of passing the 25th Amendment.

Years later, in 1981, after Ronald Reagan had been shot and temporarily incapacitated, and then in 1998, when I revealed John F. Kennedy’s hidden medical problems that surely would have barred him from the presidency in 1961, people were all the more convinced that we could no longer turn a blind eye to a presidential candidate’s or a sitting president’s ability to conduct the affairs of state.

In all this, however, nothing was explicitly said about questions of personal temperament to acquit one’s presidential duties. There were glimmerings of this concern not only with LBJ but even more so with Richard Nixon during the Watergate crisis in 1973-74. Rumors about Nixon’s excessive drinking, as the crisis engulfed him, raised fears that the country was in jeopardy of dangerous presidential actions. The country had to wait until Nixon’s taped conversations reached the public 30 years later before it understood the extent to which Nixon’s irrationality had put the nation in peril. In a drunken stupor, he had slept through an unauthorized decision by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and White House chief of staff Al Haig to raise the country’s defense condition (or DEFCON) in response to a Soviet threat to interfere in the Yom Kippur War between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

The rise of Trump to the presidency now brings the question of presidential competence back into focus. Trump’s stumbling performance in his first 11 months represents a new low in the history of the modern presidency. It cannot be chalked up to medical disability, at least not at this juncture, but Trump is vulnerable under the amendment anyway.

We have all said it here at Politics Plus — Trump is unfit to be POTUS.  In my opinion, mental illness is a medical disability, and clearly, Trump has mental health issues that should lead to his ousting under the 25th amendment.  I am not a psychiatrist nor a psychologist, so my opinion does not count. 

NBC News — Matthew Petersen, the judicial nominee who was widely ridiculed last week after a video went viral of him struggling to answer basic legal questions at his Senate confirmation hearing, withdrew from consideration on Monday.

Petersen, a member of the Federal Election Commission, said in his resignation letter to President Donald Trump that it “become clear to me over the last few days that my nomination has become a distraction — and that is not fair to you or your Administration.”

Trump nominated Petersen or a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, which carries a lifetime tenure.

The brightest thing this oaf has done is to withdraw his name from consideration.  One thing that annoys me however is that his announcement is made as a “so I am not a distraction to the work of the administration” rather than the truth . . . “I am not qualified to hold such a position.”  He really looked like an incompetent fool in the interview.

Common Dreams — A United Nations independent expert presented a searing indictment of the wealth gap in the United States, saying that “contrasts between private wealth and public squalor abound” and that the Republican tax plan “is essentially a bid to make the U.S. the world champion of extreme inequality.”

The recent statement by Philip Alston, U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, follows his two-week visit to Alabama, California, Georgia, Puerto Rico, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.. Based on the fact-finding mission, he said, “The American Dream is rapidly becoming the American Illusion as the U.S. … now has the lowest rate of social mobility of any of the rich countries.”  …

He added: “at the end of the day, particularly in a rich country like the USA, the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power. With political will, it could readily be eliminated.”

Doing so requires “democratic decision-making, full employment policies, social protection for the vulnerable, a fair and effective justice system, gender and racial equality, and respect for human dignity, responsible fiscal policies, and environmental justice.” “Currently,” Alston said, “the United States falls far short on each of these issues.”

So much for American exceptionalism.  Trump campaigned on “Make America Great Again”, but what he and Republicans are doing is stealing the country’s future and its hard fought for reputation built over the decades.  For many of us on the outside looking in, it has been apparent what is happening, and I dare say, we all have our thoughts on this.  For myself, it all comes down to power and greed, power and greed that is systemic in many institutions.

 

Posted to Care2 http://www.care2.com/news/member/775377582/4080848  (open in new window)

Share
Dec 182017
 

Voting Rights in the US are a patchwork of federal and state laws, and nothing more clearly demonstrates this than the laws surrounding the voting rights of felons and ex-felons.  Unfortunately, people of colour are disproportionately affected.

Alabama Democrat Doug Jones was elected to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday by a mere 21,000 votes. That margin would have been much larger if Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, a strident partisan Republican, would have taken steps to inform his state’s voters than thousands of ex-felons were eligible to vote under a 2017 state law. But Merrill didn’t do that,

6. I’m here to talk about Alabama’s outrageous locking out of people with convictions (disproportionately people of color) from the electoral franchise.

7. Hundreds of thousands of people in Alabama either couldn’t vote yesterday in the #ALSEN election or thought they couldn’t vote bc of AL SOS’s failure to communicate the law.

8. Here’s a long but important timeline. In 1901, #alabama created a criminal disenfranchisement law designed to disenfranchise blacks. They said as much right in the record.

9. They chose to disenfranchise ppl with crimes “involving moral turpitude” b/c that standard was mushy enough to let their friends vote while disenfranchising blacks for violations of the “black code” crimes they made up.

10. In 1985, the Supreme Court struck down the moral turpitude phrase as racially discriminatory because duh. But in 1996, the #AL legislature put the “moral turpitude” standard BACK INTO THE LAW.

11. From 1996 to 2017, there was absolutely NO standard for what convictions were disqualifying. There was no set list of crimes that “involved moral turpitude” and individual registrars county to county decided who got to vote. Many treated ALL felonies as disqualifying.

12. Remember how the standard was chosen in the first place because it could be applied to hurt minorities? (And by the way, Alabama is one of only 12 states that still permanently disenfranchises anyone after their convictions are complete and their time is served.)

13. Americans of all political stripes overwhelmingly support letting people vote after they have completed their sentences (although apparently #RoyMoore does not.)

I encourage everyone to read the article which is a series of tweets by Danielle Lang, an attorney with the Campaign Legal Centre in Washington DC and longer than the 8 points I have highlighted.
This from a Mother Jones article in May 2017:
Fifteen percent of black residents in the state have been kept away from the polls because of their criminal records, according to the Campaign Legal Center, which filed a lawsuit last year arguing the state’s moral turpitude rule was discriminatory. “Felony disenfranchisement laws have the undeniable effect of diminishing the political power of minority communities,said Danielle Lang, an attorney for the center. Indeed, at the time of the state’s constitutional convention, the president of the convention said the rule was intended to “establish white supremacy” in the state. (emphasis added) …

More than 7 percent of the adult African American population couldn’t vote, compared with 1.8 percent of other Americans.

Alabama is one of 12 states that permanently disenfranchises some or all people who have ever been convicted of felonies.

From Wikipedia:

Other than Maine and Vermont, all U.S. states prohibit felons from voting while they are in prison.[41] In Puerto Rico, felons in prison are allowed to vote in elections.

Practices in the United States are in contrast to some European nations, such as Norway. Some nations[42] allow prisoners to vote. Prisoners have been allowed to vote in Canada since 2002.[43]

The United States has a higher proportion of its population in prison than any other Western nation,[44] and more than Russia or China.[45] The dramatic rise in the rate of incarceration in the United States, a 500% increase from the 1970s to the 1990s,[46] has vastly increased the number of people disenfranchised because of the felon provisions. (emphasis added)

According to the Sentencing Project, as of 2010 an estimated 5.9 million Americans are denied the right to vote because of a felony conviction, a number equivalent to 2.5% of the U.S. voting-age population and a sharp increase from the 1.2 million people affected by felony disenfranchisement in 1976.[46] Given the prison populations, the effects have been most disadvantageous for minority and poor communities.[47]

Since Wikipedia mentions Canada, and I am Canadian, I wanted to see just where Canada stands, although I do know that Canadian felons have the right to vote, even when they are incarcerated.  This from The Canadian Encyclopedia:

In challenges to the Canada Elections Act between 1986 and 2002, prison inmates in Manitoba and Ontario met with mixed success in their various Charter challenges to the statutory denial of their right to vote. The question was eventually resolved in the prisoners’ favour in a 5 to 4 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (Sauvé v. Canada, 2002). As a consequence, all restrictions on prisoners’ voting rights at both the federal and provincial levels were struck down.

Sauvé v Canada refers to the case of Richard Sauvé, a former member of the Satan’s Choice Motorcycle Club incarcerated for life for 1st degree murder.  For those who argue that felons and ex-felons should not be able to vote, some felons get involved in trying to help others in many ways.  Sauvé is one such case in Canada.  Certainly TomCat can shed light on this aspect with his prison volunteer work in Oregon which he has done for years.  He personally knows some felons that are making a difference.  Why should they be denied the right to vote?

This from the Canadian Human Rights Council on the Sauvé challenge:

Some argued that taking away a prisoner’s right to vote was a reasonable violation of the charter given that they were irresponsible, uninformed, and simply undeserving.

Both the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada disagreed.

First, they found that the right to vote can’t be limited to just a “decent and responsible citizenry.” Governments had used this restriction to discriminate against citizens on the basis of colour, race, and gender in the past.

Second, the courts ruled that prisoners could not be banned from voting under the pretext that they were isolated from society. With access to cable television and newspapers, prisoners could still stay on top of developments and make informed decisions.

Third, denying the right to vote is a blanket punishment. As such, s.51(e) of the Canada Elections Act was not a “proportional response”; therefore, section 1 of the charter would not allow it to discriminate against prisoners.

Do those arguments sound familiar?  They do to me and I agree with the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.

What’s more, in Canada, the reconviction rate for all the releases in the first year was 44% with the reconviction rate for violence considerably lower (14%). The non-violent reconviction rate was 30% accounting for the majority of reconvictions.  In the UK, the recidivism rate is 50% while it is over 60% in the US.  Investing in rehabilitation including voting rights could help reduce recidivism which can only be good.

Canada does not have a spotless record on voting rights historically, but it has made great strides and continues to look at the impact of all decisions on charter rights closely. 

The US needs to address the inequity in voting rights, not just for felons but for all people that are disenfranchised, nationally.  When Trump  goes to prison for his nefarious actions, do you think he will lose his voting rights?  If others do, then he should also given that his crimes are analogous to treason.

For two countries so close, we are definitely two very different nations.

Posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/775377582/4080845

Share
Nov 112017
 

“At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ends. At 5 a.m. that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.” — History.com

In Canada, Remembrance Day was originally know as Armistice Day but it was changed as the “war to end all wars” was not the last.  . . .  WWII, the Korean conflict (there was actually no declaration of war — North Korea invaded South Korea and then on 25 June 1950, the United Nations Security Council unanimously condemned the North’s invasion of the South, with United Nations Security Council Resolution 82 and the UN then provided support to South Korea in their civil war with the North), Afghanistan, peacekeeping in Cyprus, Rwanda, the Balkans, and other places.  The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) has said that Remembrance Day is now a day of “remembrance for the men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict, and peace.”
 
We ask our soldiers to do the most horrendous thing — kill another human being — but not just once, but over and over again.  Yet when they return home, there isn’t enough support, whether it be medical, financial especially in this economy, or moral support in dealing with all the trauma and then trying to fit in a civilian life where rules are not always so clear cut.
 
Whether a veteran returns in a body bag, or walks off that troop carrier seemingly whole, we OWE all veterans a debt of gratitude and support.

I originally posted this in 2015.

flanders fields

Wild poppies grow on the verge of a Flanders field near Passchendaele as dawn breaks on the centenary of the Great War.  Getty

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, Canadian physician

flanders fields

The setting sun creates long shadows at Sanctuary Wood Military Cemetery in Ypres.  Getty

flanders fields

The morning sun falls on the fortified Advanced Dressing Station, near Essex Farm Cemetery in Ypres, where Canadian doctor Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae treated the wounded and is believed to have composed his famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ after burying his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, on 3 May 1915.  Getty

ypres trench

A preserved WWI trench system is pictured in Sanctuary Wood in Ypres. Getty

ypres bomb craters

Bomb craters scar the woodland floor in the preserved Sanctuary Wood.  Getty

ypres

A surviving tree, damaged in the Great War, is covered in tributes.  Getty

Ypres was the centre of five battles between German and Allied forces from 1914 to 1918. The deadliest of these was the Third Battle of Ypres or the Battle of Passchendaele, between July and November 1917.
Casualty numbers are disputed, but it is thought that around 325,000 Allied and 260,000 German troops lost their lives.

1917 ypres

5 January 1917: Soldiers march past the ruins of St Martins Church and Cloth Hall in Ypres.  Getty

1917 ypres

5 October 1917: Australian troops march towards the front line to relieve their comrades, who had won Broodseinde Ridge the previous day, during the Battle of Passchendaele.  Getty

1917 ypres

11 November 1917: Soldiers pose for a photo near the ramparts at Ypres the day after British, Canadian, ANZAC, and French forces finally recaptured the Passchendaele Ridge east of Ypres. Getty

1918 Ypres

19 April 1918: Soldiers lie dead in the mud on a battlefield during the Lys Offensive, also known as the Fourth Battle of Ypres.  Getty

 

With respect for those who fought & died in Two World Wars

For all the victims, and for the victims of all wars past & present

Remembering the human cost of war, not the financial or political cost of warfare.

 Remembering every animal not given a choice, each one a tragic victim

 of wars past and present

Lest we forget

 

 

A big thank you to Wendy Kelly, Coventry, UK, a Care2 member who sent me most of the pictures and captions

 

Share
Sep 122017
 

Today is truly a pot pourri of topics and for once there is no mention of Donald J Trump except in my comments.  I tried to find interesting stuff, mostly science, to help us think and dream more.

Short Takes

Newsweek — The “cradle of humanity” has long been thought to lie in Africa, with most researchers suggesting that Ethiopia was where the human lineage originated. The earliest known body fossils that are accepted as hominins (members of the human lineage) by most researchers are Sahelanthropus tchadensis from Chad (about seven million years old), Orrorin tugenensis from Kenya (about six million years old) and Ardipithecus kadabba from Ethiopia (about 5.8-5.2 million years old).

The oldest known footprints, however, were found at Laetoli in Tanzania and come from the next geological time interval, the Pliocene. These are some 3.66 million years old and even more human-like than those of Trachilos. The second oldest tracks are those at Ileret made by Homo erectus (1.5 million years old), and are little different from the tracks that we ourselves might make today.

If—and for many it is a big if—the tracks of Trachilos were indeed made by an early human ancestor, then the biogeographical range of our early ancestors would increase to encompass the eastern Mediterranean. Crete was not an island at this time but attached to the Greek mainland, and the environment of the Mediterranean region was very different from now.

The discovery comes just months after another study reported the discovery of seven million-year-old Greek and Bulgarian fossil teeth from a hominin ape dubbed “El Graeco.” This is the oldest fossil of a human-like ape, which has led some to suggest that humans started to evolve in Europe hundreds of thousands of years before they started to evolve in Africa. But many scientists have remained sceptical about this claim—as are we. The presence of Miocene hominids in Europe and Africa simply shows that both continents are possible “homelands” for the group. In theory, El Graeco could be responsible for the Trachilos footprints but without any limb or foot bones it is impossible to tell.

Won’t this set Republicans an right wing evangelicals back on their heels!  I can hear the arguments about the earth only being 6,000 years old etc.  While the origins of the species is still open to debate, these new possibilities certainly help to broaden our understanding of our roots.

CBC — Researchers studying fish from the Niagara River have found that human antidepressants and remnants of these drugs are building up in the fishes’ brains.

The concentration of human drugs was discovered by scientists from University at Buffalo, Buffalo State and two Thai universities, Ramkhamhaeng University and Khon Kaen University.

Active ingredients and metabolized remnants of Zoloft, Celexa, Prozac and Sarafem — drugs that have seen a sharp spike in prescriptions in North America — were found in 10 fish species.

Diana Aga, professor of chemistry at University at Buffalo, says these drugs are found in human urine and are not stripped out by wastewater treatment.

“These drugs could affect fish behaviour. We didn’t look at behaviour in our study, but other research teams have shown that antidepressants can affect the feeding behaviour of fish or their survival instincts. Some fish won’t acknowledge the presence of predators as much.”

The Niagara River, which carries water from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, is already under stress, with reports this summer of untreated wastewater released into the river.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, found levels of antidepressants in fish brains that were several times higher than levels in the river itself, indicating that the chemicals are accumulating over time.

“It is a threat to biodiversity, and we should be very concerned,” Aga said in a release from the university.

Arghhh!  We need to catch up  our systems to protect the environment from our inventions.  I am not saying anti-depressants are bad and that we should ban them . . . I have to use them or go “stark raving mad”.  But we need to address their effects on the environment and other life, and then make a concerted effort to remove them from the waste water etc before they hurt the environment.

The Telegraph — Astronomers hunting for signs of intelligent alien life in the universe have recorded 15 mysterious radio signals coming from a dwarf galaxy three billion light years away.

The team is part of the Breakthrough Listen project, set up by Professor Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, to discover whether we’re alone in the universe.

Although the latest fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are unlikely to have come from an alien civilisation, the researchers say it proves their equipment is working well, and ready to pick up signs of life if they exist.

FRBs are radio signals from somewhere in deep space that last for just milliseconds.  The new bursts came from an unknown source, dubbed ‘FRB 121102’, which was discovered in 2012.

At first scientists thought the signals were the fallout from a catastrophic event in space, like a supernova, but then they repeated again in 2015 and 2016 suggesting the whatever object produced them was still there.

In the new experiment, scientists from University of California, Berkeley, scanned the same galaxy at a higher frequency than which had been used to see the original bursts, and found 15 more.

Explanations for the signals range from rotating neutron stars with extremely magnetic fields, to energy sources used by extraterrestrial civilisations to power spacecraft. Whatever they are they left their galaxy when our Solar System was just two billion years old, and life was just getting going on Earth.

A readout of the signal showing a 300 microsecond pulse spikeCredit: UC Berkeley

Dr Vishal Gajjar at UC Berkeley Research Centre said: “We really have no idea about where they come from. We currently know 30 to exist in the universe and only one is known to repeat which means we can look at it again and again. We looked at this one at a higher frequency.

“If some form of life would like to produce a signal that is detectable to another civilisation this could be a way to do it, but I don’t think they are coming from intelligent civilisations.

“There are more theories than the number of sources. We have opened more questions than answers. As we do more study we find more weird things.”

Researchers originally thought the bursts could be the remnants of a giant supernova Credit: Chris Heapy

Breakthrough Listen is a $100 million global astronomical initiative launched in 2015 by Hawking and Milner which has teams around the world using their telescopes to look for evidence of life.

I remember being very interested in space travel when John Glenn first launched.  Of course that was the beginning of space exploration as we know it.  But I am convinced there is more in space that we just don’t know about . . . yet.  If indeed these radio signals are coming from another planet with “intelligent” life (based on our planetary definition), I am sure that Trump will deny it all unless he can find away to fleece someone of their cash to build a “Trump Tower” there.  Just what the universe needs . . . another Trump Tower.  

CBC — Hundreds of people in Alberta and B.C. took to social media to report seeing a giant fireball illuminate the night sky late Monday, and the RCMP told media it received dozens of calls about what seemed to be the same event.

Posting to Twitter from locations as far apart as Calgary and Hornby Island, B.C., the amazed stargazers described seeing a flaming object turn the sky an eerie green before fading into a dark orange as it approached the horizon.
CBC News received multiple emails describing the flash that took place at around 10:14 pm PT. Some described a loud bang that shook homes and high rise buildings.

Kevin Skrepnek, chief fire information officer for B.C., tweeted that he was on a patio in Nelson when “the entire sky lit up.

“Huge boom about 1m later,” he wrote.

/

CBC videos do not embed well. Click on the black box at centre bottom then go to the lower right and click for full screen.  You will get the full size video.

Skrepnek later said he initially thought it was a power surge.

“Then, to the east, I saw a reddish fireball streak and break up,” he said in a brief statement posted on Twitter.
“Nothing happened afterward, then within 60 seconds there was a massive sound (like a long, rolling thunderclap) for about five seconds.”

Skrepnek added that the wildfire smoke still sitting over large swaths of Alberta and B.C. likely intensified the flash of light.

WOW!!!  More science to wonder at!

NY Times — They were members of an uncontacted tribe gathering eggs along the river in a remote part of the Amazon. Then, it appears, they had the bad luck of running into gold miners.

Now, federal prosecutors in Brazil have opened an investigation into the reported massacre of about 10 members of the tribe, the latest evidence that threats to endangered indigenous groups are on the rise in the country.

The Brazilian agency on indigenous affairs, Funai, said it had lodged a complaint with the prosecutor’s office in the state of Amazonas after the gold miners went to a bar in a near the border with Colombia, and bragged about the killings. They brandished a hand-carved paddle that they said had come from the tribe, the agency said.

“It was crude bar talk,” said Leila Silvia Burger Sotto-Maior, Funai’s coordinator for uncontacted and recently contacted tribes. “They even bragged about cutting up the bodies and throwing them in the river.”

The miners, she said, claimed that “they had to kill them or be killed.”

It hurts me to know that these indigenous persons were killed, and for what?  Greed!  The yellow metal in the ground that is seemingly so important to the outside world, but has little value to these people.  With the settlement of the Americas by Europeans over the centuries, and I am one, we have decimated the indigenous peoples with disease, genocide and our avarice for the yellow metal and other resources.  When do we stop?  Someone told me that European settlers improved the lives of indigenous peoples by bringing new ways and inventions.  I don’t believe it.  We have forced our culture on them and visited upon indigenous peoples diseases that they did not known and which destroyed their numbers.

Huffington Post — NDP leadership contender Jagmeet Singh has opened up about what was going through his mind when a heckler spewed ugly remarks at him during a campaign event this week.

On Wednesday, a woman interrupted Singh’s event in Brampton, Ont. to accuse him of backing Shariah, a system of laws based on Islam, and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. The Ontario MPP is Sikh.

Video recordings of Singh deftly defusing the situation by urging his supporters to respond with “love and courage” — and telling the woman he loved and welcomed her — have since gone viral in Canada and the United States.

Video courtesy of TheStar.com

But some have wondered why Singh didn’t tell the woman that he is Sikh, not Muslim. The MPP addressed that issue directly in a statement released Saturday night.

“Many people have commented that I could have just said I’m not Muslim. In fact, many have clarified that I’m actually Sikh,” he said. “While I’m proud of who I am, I purposely didn’t go down that road because it suggests their hate would be ok if I was Muslim. We all know it’s not.

“I didn’t answer the question because my response to Islamophobia has never been ‘I’m not Muslim.’ It has always been and will be that ‘hate is wrong.'”

IMO, Jagmeet Singh handled the heckler beautifully.  All she saw was a brown skinned, bearded man wearing a turban and assumed he was a Muslim when in fact he is a Sikh.  There is a very large Indo-Canadian community in Brampton, Ont so it is hard for me to fathom this woman’s lack of knowledge.  There is no place for hate!

 

 

My Universe — This is soooooooooooooo true in my household only worse.  I have 3 cats!

 

Share