Lynn Squance

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.

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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!

 

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Sep 112017
 

As sorrowful as this day was in 2011, and as sorrowful as the memories still are, I want to share with you a story about a small Canadian town, population 11,688 (2016), who rose to the occasion in 2011 with little notice.  I say ‘who’ in referencing the town because this is about the people of Gander, Newfoundland and their response to the tragedy unfolding in New York 16 years ago.

From USA Today — They still don’t know what all the fuss is about.

Sixteen years ago, this small Canadian town on an island in the North Atlantic Ocean took in nearly 6,700 people – almost doubling its population – when the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York and Washington forced 38 planes to land here.

Their simple hospitality to the unexpected house guests drew worldwide accolades and even inspired a Broadway musical.

“Everyone looks at us and says that’s an amazing thing that you did, and the bottom line is I don’t think it was an amazing thing, I think it was the right thing you do,” says Diane Davis, 53, a now-retired teacher who helped 750 people housed at the town’s elementary school.

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In a world today seemingly fraught with division, terrorism and hate, they’d do it all over again. Kindness is woven into the very fabric of their nature — they don’t know any other way to live.

“What we consider the most simple thing in life is to help people,” says Mayor Claude Elliott, who retires this month after serving as the town’s leader for 21 years. “You’re not supposed to look at people’s color, their religion, their sexual orientation — you look at them as people.”

An aerial view of the town of Gander. (Photo: Jasper Colt, USA Today)

Read the rest of the story.  Now you might wonder what can a little Canadian town seemingly on the edge of nowhere do?  First you should know that Newfoundland is one place where hospitality reigns.  Although Newfoundlanders have been the butt of a number of jokes over the years, they are a very warm and giving people.  Gander, as small as it is, has an international airport because of its proximity to Europe.  Wikipedia explains:

Gander was chosen for the construction of an airport in 1935 because of its location close to the northeast tip of the North American continent. In 1936, construction of the base began, and the town started to develop. On January 11, 1938, Captain Douglas Fraser made the first landing at “Newfoundland Airport”, now known as Gander International Airport, or “CYQX”, in a single-engine biplane, Fox Moth VO-ADE.

During the Second World War, as many as 10,000 Canadian, British and American military personnel resided in Gander. The area became a strategic post for the Royal Air ForceAir Ferry Command, with approximately 20,000 American- and Canadian-built fighters and bombers stopping at Gander en route to Europe.

I am a proud Canadian, and even prouder to know that Newfoundland joined Canada on 31 March 1949 becoming Canada’s 10th province bringing their caring and generosity with them.  Newfoundland’s name was official changed to Newfoundland and Labrador by constitutional amendment in December 2001.  Wikipedia gives some background to the name.

The name “Newfoundland” is a translation of the PortugueseTerra Nova, that is also reflected in the French name for the Province’s island part (Terre-Neuve). The influence of early Portuguese exploration is also reflected in the name of Labrador, which derives from the surname of the Portuguese navigatorJoão Fernandes Lavrador.[9]

Labrador’s name in the Inuttitut language (spoken in Nunatsiavut) is Nunatsuak, meaning “the big land” (a common English nickname for Labrador). Newfoundland’s Inuttitut name is Ikkarumikluak meaning “place of many shoals”.

A big Thank You to the people of Gander!!!

 

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Aug 292017
 

When I read this article from AlterNet, my mind immediately went back to Iraq.  With Trump saying “We are not nation-building again.  …”, what I heard was one nation, the US, justifying the rape and pillaging of another, Afghanistan. 

From AlterNet

The upsurge of the Taliban has nothing to do with the presence of ISIS in Afghanistan. It does, however, have a great deal to do with the entry of al-Qaeda fighters of various stripes from Pakistan into its ranks. But even al-Qaeda is not central to the Taliban’s surge.

That surge can only be explained by the slow desiccation of the Afghan government in Kabul. Despite billions of dollars of aid, Afghanistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world (31%) and half of Afghanistan’s children are stunted with a third of the population suffering from food insecurity.

The collapse of humane aspirations for the Afghan people certainly fuels the insurgency and the violence, making it harder to build state and social institutions to tackle these key problems, which once more fuels the war. This cycle of chaos could only be ended if regional powers agreed to freeze their interventions in Afghanistan and if the Afghan state would be able to robustly build up the infrastructure to feed and educate its citizens.

Trump’s comment that he is against ‘nation-building’ shows how little he understands war, for the only antidote to this endless American war in Afghanistan is for the people to reconcile around a believable mandate for human development rather than violence and corruption. No such agenda is on the table.

Late in July, before Trump made his recent announcement, one of Afghanistan’s most hardened leaders, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, held a press conference in his home in Kabul. Hekmatyar, who was a key CIA and Pakistani ally in the 1970s and ’80s, said that ‘neither the Afghan government nor foreign troops can win the war. This war has no winner.’ This is remarkable coming from Hekmatyar, who was known as the ‘Butcher of Kabul’ for his role in the siege of that city after the Soviet troops left Afghanistan (more Afghans died in that civil war than in the mujahedeen’s war against the communist government and their Soviet ally). He has called for negotiations between the Kabul government and the Taliban.

U.S. General Nicholson painted the Taliban as ‘a criminal organization, more interested in profits from drugs, kidnapping, murder for hire,’ but nonetheless called upon them to join a peace process. It is clear that whatever the U.S. thinks of the Taliban, they have positioned themselves to be a major political force in Afghanistan in the near future. This is why Nicholson and Trump have begun to distinguish between the Taliban (which should be in a peace process) and ISIS/al-Qaeda (which have to be destroyed). That al-Qaeda is now a key ally of the Taliban should sully this simplistic thinking. But it has not.

Negotiations seem far off in Afghanistan. The Taliban is well positioned to increase its bargaining power as its legions expand across the country. Surrendered Taliban leader Zangal Pacha (Amir Khan) recently left the fight in Nangarhar province with six fighters. He said that a foreign intelligence service—most likely that of Pakistan—has been egging the Taliban onwards to take more territory. Attacks on tribal elders and public welfare projects are being urged, largely to squeeze Kabul’s hold on the provinces and to strengthen the Taliban’s claim to being the natural rulers of Afghanistan. Pakistan has long wanted a friendly government in Kabul and it has seen the Taliban as its instrument. Whether the U.S. will once more turn a blind eye to al-Qaeda’s role in the Taliban is to be seen. History does repeat itself, particularly when it comes to geopolitical hypocrisy.

Rachel covered it in two segments.  In the first, she explains what she thinks Trump means and who is tasked with investigating the opportunity and bringing it to fruition.

In the second, she speaks with the former Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan about Trump’s initiative.

When I first read this article, my thoughts went back to Iraq and the 2003 invasion by the US and the UK and allies, Australia and Poland.  Wikipedia describes the rationale for the invasion as follows:

“According to U.S. President George W. Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, the coalition mission was “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.””

However, in the years since, it has been generally acknowledged that oil was the goal.  Some of the first heavy fighting was around Basra in the south east by Kuwait and the Persian Gulf, an area rich in oil.  In his 2003 book, General Wesley Clark described talking to a senior military officer:

“As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.”” 

So when I hear Trump saying that the US is not into nation building, and saying that it will mine the mineral resources, particularly lanthanum, to pay for the war, it is déjà vu!

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Aug 292017
 

TC is off recovering from yesterday’s successful cataract surgery and should be back tomorrow so you are stuck with this “Crazy Canuck” for today.  BTW, “The Crazy Canucks was a group of World Cup alpine ski racers from Canada who rose to prominence in the 1970s and ’80s. … reputation for fast and seemingly reckless skiing in the downhill event.”  Well I don’t ski but with the heat, I wish I did so that I could find a nice little patch of alpine in which to cool off.  It has been a very hot day in Metro Vancouver with temperatures at 33 C (91 F) in my area away from the water.  Certainly my furbabes are feeling the heat of the past few days and will be happy with cooler temperatures and rain later in the week.  And before I forget, a big shout out to Wendy for looking after our Puddy Tat so well.  Thanks Wendy!!

Short Takes

The Last Word — Bill Moyers: Instead Of A ‘Soul,’ Donald Trump Has An ‘Open Sore’

Moyers commented that the Confederacy lost the Civil War, yet statues were still erected to honour losing generals like Robert E Lee.  Where else do the losers become idolised?  The Civil War and its generals, both Union and Confederate, are part of US history.  The statues do not belong in parks as Trump proclaimed, but they do belong in museums.

Business Insider — Just 10 days before Hurricane Harvey descended upon Texas on Friday, wreaking havoc and submerging hundreds of miles of land under water, President Donald Trump signed an executive order revoking a set of regulations that would have made federally-funded infrastructure less vulnerable to flooding.

The Obama-era rules, which had not yet gone into effect, would have required the federal government to take into account the risk of flooding and sea-level rise as a result of climate change when constructing new infrastructure and rebuilding after disasters.

Experts are predicting Harvey — the most powerful storm to hit the US since 2004 — will cost Texas between $30 billion and $100 billion in damage.

And in the coming days, Congress will be called upon to send billions of federal dollars to help with the state’s recovery and rebuilding efforts.

But because of Trump’s rollback of Obama’s Federal Flood Risk Management Standards, experts across the political spectrum say much of the federal money sent to Texas will likely be wasted on construction that will be insufficiently protected from the next storm.

Have a look at the video from the Washington Post  which shows some of the flooding in Texas.  This madman, Trump, obsessed with undoing anything involving Barack Obama, made the US less safe when he “signed an executive order revoking a set of regulations that would have made federally-funded infrastructure less vulnerable to flooding.”  Not only that, this pResident who represents the Republican party, a party of supposed fiscal conservatives, is setting up the nation for higher costs down the road. (no pun intended) 

Politico — Coastal state Republicans are bucking members of their own party and teaming up with Democrats as lawmakers struggle to salvage an agreement to keep the National Flood Insurance Program alive.

Dozens of Republicans from New York to Mississippi have fought proposals by the House Financial Services Committee that they say would make flood insurance unaffordable. A member of the House leadership, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, is among those uneasy with the panel’s plans. And in the Senate, Republicans are joining with Democrats to find a deal before the program lapses at the end of next month.  …

At issue is the future of a government backstop that protects millions of Americans from the financial risks of flooding, but at a steep cost: The program has racked up almost $25 billion in debt. Its survival is a concern that is being grimly highlighted this weekend as the remnants of Hurricane Harvey inundate Texas.

Factions of lawmakers are at odds over how to boost the insurance program’s bottom line. A key source of tension is to what extent homeowners should pay higher rates to put the service on stronger financial footing.
The political tug-of-war is spilling into the open as lawmakers spend time at home during the congressional recess. In Louisiana, where policyholders have received more than $19 billion in payments from the program since 1978, members of the state’s delegation are conveying the message that they’re unified and fighting to rescue it.  …

“It’s not just Louisiana,” he [Sen John Kennedy, R-LA]  said. “If you get 20 inches of rain in three days, you’re going to flood. I don’t care if you’re on Pikes Peak. You’re going to flood, and that can happen in any state, in any community, at any time, and I think most of the senators are starting to understand that.”

Click through for the rest of this article which is very appropriate now that Texas is feeling the full fury of Hurricane Harvey.  When I think back over the years to Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, Super Storm Sandy, and now Hurricane Harvey, there is no doubt that the NFIP is needed.  And as climate change raises its ugly head more and more, it is important that communities, states and the federal government make additional regulations and act to protect people.

Haaretz — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two cases, Israel Police confirmed on Thursday when it requested a gag order on the ongoing talks to recruit a state witness. The gag order was granted and is effective until September 17.

A response on behalf of the prime minister stated on Thursday: “We completely reject the unfounded claims made against the prime minister. The campaign to change the government is underway, but it is destined to fail, for a simple reason: there won’t be anything because there was nothing.”

UPDATE: Former Netanyhau aide Ari Harow reaches deal to become state’s witness.  This investigation, which is about 6 months old, is certainly not over but it spells aggravation for Bibi.  It will be interesting to see if it colours Israel’s relationship with the US. 

My Universe — Kitty yoga!

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Aug 252017
 

Another day, another dollar . . . or in the case of Canada, another 80 cents!  We were to have rain yesterday and last night but it passed over my area.  The US gulf coast won’t be so lucky as hurricane Harvey looks like it will bring storm surges and flooding to parts of Texas and other gulf states.  Please be safe all of you in those areas!  And tomorrow, my little girl will turn 9 years old so we will be having a celebration of fresh roasted chicken breast which is a real favourite with the furbabes!

Short Takes

CBC — It’s taken more than 150 years to erect a monument honouring the 40,000 Canadians who fought in the American Civil War, and Rob McLachlan is hoping next month’s unveiling near Cornwall, Ont., won’t be delayed by the controversies swirling around memorials to the Confederacy south of the border.

The founder of the Grays and Blues of Montreal, a Civil War re-enactment group, doesn’t think the Sept. 16 unveiling will be controversial. After all, some 90 per cent of Canadians who fought in the Civil War served with Abraham Lincoln’s Union forces.

“It’s not propagating Robert E. Lee or the Confederacy or what have you,” McLachlan told CBC News.

“It’s propagating the fact Canadians were involved, and the majority were in the North. It just recognizes that historical fact.”

Of those estimated 40,000 Canadians who fought south of the border, around 4,000 Canadians fought for the Southern Confederacy.

Prior to the recent deadly clash between far right protesters and anti-racist activists in Charlottesville, Va., over a   Canada has a statue dedicated to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, the only media paying attention to their monument on the grounds of the Lost Villages Museum in Long Sault, Ont., was the Cornwall newspaper.

I had no idea that Canadians had fought in the American Civil War, mostly for the Union side.  The terminus of the underground railway, spiriting slaves and others from the South, also was in eastern Canada.  During the American Revolution, the United Empire Loyalists fled the US and headed up to Canada.  Canada has a very long association with the US, including the War of 1812 when the British (Canada) beat the Americans.

Huffington Post — A science envoy for the Department of State sent a resignation letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday with a not-so-subtle secret message: “IMPEACH.”

Daniel Kammen, a professor of energy at the University of California, Berkeley, told Trump in a letter dated Wednesday that his decision to quit his State Department post is “in response to your attacks on core values of the United States.” As one example, he cited Trump’s reaction to the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, calling the response “consistent with a broader pattern of behavior that enables sexism and racism.”

But it’s Kammen’s acrostic — the first letter of each paragraph spelling out a word — that sends a blunter message to Trump: IMPEACH.

A number of higher profile people have or are in the process of leaving various positions in the US federal government in protest over Trump policies.  This letter is from Prof Daniel Kammen and the first letter of each paragraph spells out “IMPEACH”.  There is a similar acrostic in a resignation letter from the Arts and Humanities Advisory Council which spells out “Resist”.  You can see that letter at the link.  And in true Drumpf style, after the entire committee resigned, Drumpf dissolved the committee which had already ceased to exist.  Drumpf always seems to want the last word.  The last word I want Drumpf to utter is “I quit!”

Robert Reich — If you voted for Donald Trump, I get it. Maybe you feel you’ve been so badly shafted by the system that you didn’t want to go back to politics as usual, and Trump seemed like he’d topple that corrupt system.

You voted to change our country’s power base – to get rid of crony capitalism and give our government back to the people who are working, paying taxes, and spending more just to survive. Lots of Americans agree with you.

But now, the president is turning his back on that idea and the many changes he promised.

He did not drain the swamp. After telling voters how he would take control away from special interests, he has surrounded himself with the very Wall Street players he decried. Now, those who gamed politicians for tax loopholes and laws that reward the rich don’t even have to sneak around with backroom deals.

An excellent piece that even a Drumpf supporter should be able to understand.

CBC — Rain lashed down at a solemn ceremony in Ottawa today to mark the 75th anniversary of one of Canada’s bloodiest battles of the Second World War.

Shielding himself with an umbrella, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid tribute to those who fought and died with “grit and valour” in the Dieppe raid and to the parents, siblings, spouses and children who were left heartbroken.

Of the 5,000 Canadians who landed at Dieppe on Aug. 19, 1942, 907 were killed, 586 wounded and almost 2,000 were taken prisoner.

Trudeau said at that time, boys were forced to quickly become men — men of “tremendous bravery and fortitude, dedicated to country.”

“We often learn more about ourselves in our losses than our victories. We grow, we persevere, we learn hard truths,” Trudeau said. “The Dieppe raid was a devastating engagement for Canadian troops, and their loved ones back home. But, ultimately, our soldiers learned lessons that would help secure their victory two years later on the beaches of Normandy.

“For those lessons, we look back on the Dieppe raid with unshakable pride.”  …

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If you click on the “full screen” icon in the lower right corner of the video after you have started it, you will get the full picture.  CBC videos seem to split when they are embedded. 

“As we stand here 75 years later with this duty and this act of remembrance, it is all too fitting. Today and every day, we recommit ourselves to the pursuit of peace and justice for all. Today and all days, we remember.”

The battle at Dieppe is often overlooked, being outshone by D Day in June 1944.  In truth, Dieppe was a precursor to D Day, a failed attempt to free Europe from Nazi control, and from which much was learned.  Thank you for your service hardly seems adequate for those who were killed, wounded or captured.

My Universe —  I know, I know!  It’s a dawg!  The dawg’s name is Rudy and he just loves going to school!

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And now for cat lovers . . . my kind of people!

 

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Aug 202017
 

Today has been one of those days.  I did something I have never done before — I slept in until 1450 hours!  My furbabes did not even wake me up even though they were hungry!  Within 40 minutes, I showered, dressed, fed the babes and was half way to the bakery to pick up some bread before going to my favourite eatery to say goodbye to one of the hostesses who was leaving.  She is a wonderful young lady who will be finishing high school this coming year (Bye Andy) and says she will be checking into the blog.  Fortunately our temperatures have moderated here in Metro Vancouver so it has been quite pleasant this past week.  Nights have been quite cool so I think that autumn is truly on the way.

Short Takes

The Independent Iceland is close to becoming the first country where no-one gives birth to a child with Down’s syndrome.

Pre-natal tests were introduced in the early 2000s, and the vast majority who receive a positive test have terminated their pregnancy.

While the tests are optional, all expectant mothers are informed about their availability, and up to 85 per cent choose to take it.

It’s called the Combination Test, and uses ultrasound and blood tests – as well as factoring in the mother’s age.
This determines whether the foetus will have a chromosome abnormality, the most common of which results in Down’s syndrome.

The law in Iceland allows for abortion after 16 weeks if the foetus has a deformity, and Down’s syndrome is included in this category.

There is another video at the beginning of the article which I would recommend watching only after reading the article and watching the above video.  It is from Faux Noise (need I say more?) and is an interview with Tony Perkins (now I know I need not say more!).  To be clear, Iceland does not have a cure for downs syndrome, a genetic condition.  What they do have is a different way of looking at abortion than in the US.  As the Icelandic counsellor said: 

“We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication… preventing suffering for the child and for the family. And I think that is more right than seeing it as a murder — that’s so black and white.”

“Life isn’t black and white. Life is grey.”

Personally, I am closer to the Icelandic view than the American view.  I believe it is up to each woman to decide what is right for her, and make that decision in consultation with her partner and her doctor. 

CBC — Around 4,000 people showed up at Vancouver City Hall to protest against a far-right rally on Saturday afternoon.

Tensions rose briefly as protesters from opposing sides began yelling at each other, but Vancouver police quickly escorted several far-right demonstrators away from the crowd. One protester was in handcuffs.  …

                                   Thousands showed up to protest an anti-Islam rally planned for Saturday afternoon at Vancouver City Hall. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Plans for the far-right demonstration began circulating on social media earlier in the week, not long after a deadly white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Va.

According to a Facebook page for the event, the rally is protesting Islam and the Canadian government’s immigration policies. The page is no longer live, but the demonstration was expected to begin around 2 p.m. PT.

By 3 p.m., a handful of far-right protesters appeared to have gathered. They held confederate flags and the “alt-right” symbols for Pepe and Kekistan. One wore a shirt in support of U.S. President Donald Trump.  …

Rowe-Codner said the coalition saw some pushback about the rally earlier in the week, and not just from the far-right.
“A lot of people [who lean left and central] are saying, maybe if you ignore this situation they’ll go away … But there are a lot of people and communities out there that face white supremacy and who can’t ignore it,” she said.

Ignoring the problem is the same as silence.  Silence is consent and THAT is just plain unacceptable!  I was very happy to see the numbers in attendance.  I had wanted to go but had another commitment.  Quite clearly, Charlottesville is having its effects felt far and wide.  It encourages me to see more people coming out in support of diversity than those showing up in support of a closed society.

AlterNet —  Felix Sater, one of Donald Trump’s shadiest former business partners, is reportedly preparing for prison time — and he says the president will be joining him behind bars.

Sources told The Spectator‘s Paul Wood that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s deep dive into Trump’s business practices may be yielding results.

Trump recently made remarks that could point to a money laundering scheme, Wood reported.

Sater, who has a long history of legal troubles and cooperating with law enforcement, was one of the major players responsible to for selling Trump’s condos to the Russians.

And according to Wood’s sources, Sater may have already flipped and given prosecutors the evidence they need to make a case against Trump.

For several weeks there have been rumours that Sater is ready to rat again, agreeing to help Mueller. ‘He has told family and friends he knows he and POTUS are going to prison,’ someone talking to Mueller’s investigators informed me.

Sater hinted in an interview earlier this month that he may cooperating with both Mueller’s investigation and congressional probes of Trump.

Read through to get an idea of a possible timeline.  If Sater’s timeline is correct, there could be a change in the leadership in the US before too long.  Of course, due process must playout.

CBC — Thousands of people took to the streets of Boston on Saturday to protest hate speech a week after a woman was killed at a Virginia white-supremacist demonstration, and their shouts drowned out the “Free Speech” rally that sparked the counter-protest.

Organizers of the rally had invited several far-right speakers, who were confined to a small pen that police set up in the historic Boston Common park to keep the two sides separate.

Police estimate that as many as 40,000 people packed into the streets around Boston Common.  …

On Saturday, Trump on Twitter praised the Boston protesters.
“I want to applaud the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one!” Trump tweeted.

Boston was peaceful this weekend as a “free speech” rally mostly fizzled from poor planning, and a larger, louder counter protest in support of diversity.  Charlottesville this was not, thankfully!  However Trump’s response was in direct contrast to his response to the Charlottesville riot.  Where he talked in support of white nationalists in Charlottesville, he applauded those that spoke out against bigotry and hate in Boston.  He is at odds with himself but I am inclined to believe that his response to Charlottesville is his true nature.

CBC — Meike Muzzi is not dressed for travel.

Hospital bracelets in all three primary colours encircle her wrinkled right forearm, a gold bangle on the left.

But she says she’s ready for today’s trip — the promise of an escape from the Toronto palliative care ward in which she’s spent the past five weeks waiting to die.

David Parker is there to fulfil that promise with the help of his virtual reality goggles.

“What you’ve brought me so far has been beautiful,” Muzzi says, settling the soft black material of the goggles into the creases around her eyes.

The pair has already travelled together through the plains of Africa. And Muzzi reminds her guest that she would have liked to linger longer with the elephants.

Parker already knows this.

He listens to her stories, interviewing Muzzi and all the patients he visits at Bridgepoint Health in Riverdale, so he can store the information away and use it to help them revisit the moments of particular meaning in their lives.

Parker’s idea to offer virtual reality therapy began at Christmas.

The IT consultant received the headset as a gift. He first used them to take his wife’s grandmother to Venice, gliding through the canals on a gondola. Then he realized he could offer the same experience to those in hospice or having long-term hospital stays.

That idea has bloomed into both a pilot project at Bridgepoint and a passion project for Parker. Right now he donates his time and the equipment, but says that — even though he runs a creative agency — he can see this becoming his life’s work.

One of the things that I learned while I looked after my mother was that quality of life is most important.  Quantity means nothing if there is no quality.  And what makes quality often depends on the person and their situation.  For my mother, it was sitting quietly as I brush her hair for hours.  For Muzzi, it is travelling and seeing things that gave her joy.  Click through for the rest of the story and watch the short video of what Muzzi was viewing.  Unfortunately, I could not embed the video properly so that you could see it all.

My Universe

 

 

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