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.

 
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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)

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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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