Jul 272016
 

It is still hot and muggy! Today was up to 30 C and humidity over 70%.  At physio, I bike for a minimum of 20 minutes which really gets a sweat up with temperatures as high as they have been.  By the time I arrived home, I was ready for a cold shower.  The furbabes have basically abandonned me and are sleeping downstairs for much of the night.  Suppopsedly, temperatures are to go down through this long weekend, but I'll believe it when I feel it.  BTW TC, this Canadian long weekend was called a civic holiday across the country, but now, here in BC it is known as BC Day . . . just incase you are trying to add this to your calendar!

Short Takes

MSN.com — The U.N. weather agency says it suspects a 54-degree Celsius (129.2 Fahrenheit) temperature recorded in Kuwait has set a record for the eastern hemisphere.

A Kuwaiti man takes a shower to cool off 

YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images A Kuwaiti man takes a shower to cool off

The World Meteorological Organization said Tuesday it is setting up a committee to look into whether the temperature recorded Thursday in Mitrabah, Kuwait, was a new high for the hemisphere and in Asia. WMO's Omar Baddour says it's "likely" to be an eastern hemisphere record.

Now that is beyond hot!  Would the climate change and global warming deniers, who in the US are predominently Republicans, still deny global warming?  Perhaps we should send them to Mitrabah, Kuwait without the benefit of air conditioning and then ask them if their stance has changed after a week of this heat.  I wouldn't be surprised if the cool looking water of this man's shower were actually warm water.

Alternet — Chris Ladd is a Texan in exile. After growing up in Beaumont and working for more than a decade in Houston, he moved to suburban Chicago, where he is a Republican precinct committeeman.

He has a day job that he loves in the software industry. In his free time he has written for David Frum’s blog, the Washington Times Communities, the Houston Chronicle, and the Huffington Post.

Back in Texas he interned at the Legislature, worked on numerous state and local Republican campaigns, and volunteered for a statewide PAC. Chris graduated from Beaumont’s Central High, earned a degree from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas (the Harvard of Williamson County) and received his JD from the University of Houston.

He recently posted the following:

Chairman Cuzzone:

We come together in political parties to magnify our influence. An organized representative institution can give weight to our will in ways we could not accomplish on our own. Working with others gives us power, but at the cost of constant, calculated compromise. No two people will agree on everything. There is no moral purity in politics.  …

With three decades invested in the Republican Party, there is a powerful temptation to shrug and soldier on. Despite the bold rhetoric, we all know Trump will lose. Why throw away a great personal investment over one bad nominee? Trump is not merely a poor candidate, but an indictment of our character. Preserving a party is not a morally defensible goal if that party has lost its legitimacy.

Read Chris Ladd's entire letter HEREIt is very interesting and makes good points that don't show up in the Alternet article.  Not only is it an indictment of Donald Trump, but also of the Republican Party.  How many more Republicans will follow their conscience and step away from what the party has become?

CBC — Some of Canada's banks must stress test their ability to withstand a 50 per cent drop in housing prices in Metro Vancouver area and a 40 per cent drop in the Greater Toronto Area, the country's banking regulator says.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions also said Tuesday that the banks must all test for a 30 per cent downturn in valuations for all other areas of the country.

The OSFI said the test doesn't apply to the Big Six banks and HSBC. An OSFI spokesperson said the regulator and the Bank of Canada work together to conduct "regular macro" stress tests on the Big Six banks, which also do their own internal testing.

One of the major differences between the US and Canada is the strength of banking regulation.  IMO, Canada has a more robust regulatory regime.  It isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, however it did help avert a big crisis such as the US housing meltdown that occurred a few years ago.  But, housing prices in the two biggest markets, Metro Vancouver and Greater Toronto Area , have exploded over the past few years, such that ordinary people are almost unable to purchase a home. From CKNW.com:

"The benchmark price for a detached home in April in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley hit just over $1.4 million — which is a 30.1% increase over 2015.

The MLS Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $844,800, a 25.3% increase compared to April 2015."

Because of this wild market, OSFI has mandated stress tests for all deposit and lending institutions.  Basically, what happens to the viability and stability of these institutions if there is a 30% or 50% market correction?  The stress tests are to help gage the affect of these anticipated corrections.  This whole issue is more than "just about housing prices".

There are also other factors in the mix for the "hot" housing market.  In British Columbia, the provincial government has finally taken action now that it has realised this a hot topic and there is an election next year.  Their 15% property purchase surcharge on foreign buyers is their attempt to address the problem.  However, this misses those who are resident in Canada already but hold very large deposits off shore.  Those people bring the cash in for the purchase, but the buyer is deemed a resident so not subject to the new tax.  Also, there are purchasers who are buying and then reselling before the first sale completes, at greatly inflated prices.  Some of this was being orchestrated by realtors.  Because the real estate boards were self governing, this aspect likewise exploded.  The boards in BC are now regulated by the government hoping to eliminate this activity.  Where it had been fairly easy to get a real estate license, no longer.  The provincial government is late to the party, but OSFI, a federal agency is trying to protect the overall health of the banking sector.

As a matter of disclosure, I was a senior lending manager in Metro Vancouver primarily involved in mortgage financing with several of the big 6 banks and HSBC.  When Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp (CMHC), a federal crown corporation created in 1946, introduced lower down payment criteria years ago, I was aghast because I could see problems.  Now that threshold has been restored.  If you want to see what CMHC does, go to CMHC (I set the link to English — all federal government websites are in French and English).  I hope I have not bored everyone with my commentary but as a 40+ year banker, 65% of it spent in mortgage financing, I become a little passionate.  Likewise, I believe in everybody having a reasonable chance to own their own home, which is why CMHC was originally created.

Politico — The nominee of the Republican Party — the party that takes credit for winning the Cold War — on Wednesday appeared to align himself with Russia over his Democratic opponent, in remarks that suggested to many he was urging Moscow to interfere in a U.S. election.

That break with longstanding bipartisan policy toward dealing with Russia, or any foreign nation, for that matter, succeeded in getting him the lion’s share of the media spotlight as Wednesday evening programming kicked off for rival Hillary Clinton’s Democratic National Convention. But it was a leap few fellow Republicans were ready to make — with some in the party suggesting it smacked of “treason.”

The backlash began immediately after Trump’s extended riff on Russia at a Wednesday morning press conference, in which he called for Russia to “find” and release 30,000 emails deleted from Clinton’s private email server. Trump went on to promise a better relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin if elected president, saying he’d “look at” easing sanctions and recognizing Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula—something at odds with current U.S. policy–but most of the focus came back to the emails.  …

“It’s bad enough he doesn’t understand the gravity of what he said, but that he’s giving encouragement to a hostile foreign power is unconscionable,” Nichols said. “I don’t think he’s joking. He doubled down on it. Once off the cuff, it’s a joke. Twice, it’s policy.”

How long are Republicans going to wait to whittle Drumpf down to size?  I hope his "dyed in the wool" supporters pay attention to this issue.  Drumpf has taken things way to far such that it is a national security problem.  Wouldn't it be great if he was charged with treason,  I have read a number of other pieces on this matter and on Drumpf's connections.  One article (I think Daily Kos) mentioned that American banks won't touch Drumpf and that he went to some Russian oligarchs for financing.  True or not?  But the specter of such and his failure to make his taxes public are only fueling the fire which with any luck will turn into a conflagration that will consume the Republican Party and send it into the dustbin of history.

My Universe — This is my favourite video.  Meet Kevin Richardson, lion whisperer, with one of his wild lionesses.  You can see more at http://www.lionwhisperer.co.za/

 

 

 

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Jul 072016
 

I have a bit of time before my brother and his wife and friends arrive for a very short visit and then a cruise up the Alaska coast.  They fly in today and I will take my brother and SIL to see my mother who they have not seen in almost 3 years tomorrow.  And speaking of mum, I had her out to the specialist for another botox treatment.  I left my house at 10:30 and did not return until 17:00 so I was very tired.  For me, it is more an emotional tired.  On Saturday, which is my brother's 39th wedding anniversary, all 5 of us (not mum) will travel up the Sea-to-Sky Highway to the Britannia Mine Museum for a tour.  The mine buildings were used a lot in movie and television filming over the years, a second life so to speak, but have now been restored to being a museum.  If you want to see a bit more, check out THIS.  Thanks for your rain Napster!  We have had quite a bit the past few days which has helped with the Burns Bog fire (see below) but has made kids house bound and a bit crazy.  As luck would have it, my physio therapist told me that my walking is much better, almost normal.  I told him to be ready on Monday after my museum visit as I'll likely be very sore.  

Short Takes

1130news.com — Eliza Olson, president of the Burns Bog Conservation Society, is expecting impacts to the wildlife living in one of North America’s largest peat bogs. “I hope most of the birds have fledged and left their nests. If they haven’t, they’re going to be burned. The deer and mammals can move,” she says.

As for the fire retardant being dropped by water bombers, Olson says “one of the ironies is some of the stuff they use actually encourages vegetation to grow.”

“In a peat bog, you want things to grow slowly. Any nutrients added to the bog encourages invasive plants because a bog is naturally nutrient-poor and acidic,” she explains.

The fire has also caused “legacy carbon” stored deep within the ground and peat for more than a thousand years to burn and release into the atmosphere, according to McMaster University earth sciences professor Mike Waddington.

“We see over 200 tons of carbon per hectare is lost in a fire of these sizes,” he says.

Olson said a bog can store carbon 10 times more efficiently than a tropical rainforest and will also release methane if disturbed.

This from Wikipedia about Burns Bog

The major characteristics of Burns Bog is that it is wet, acidic, and peat-forming.[4] It is a wetland ecosystem with a diverse array of plant, animal, and insect species. A major component of Burns Bog is sphagnum moss, which is able to hold about 30 times its weight in water. Sphagnum moss can grow under wet and acidic conditions and it is the major building block of peat in Burns Bog.

Breakdown of organic matter in the bog progresses slowly due to low oxygen content and high acidity of the water.[4]

Burns Bog plays a major role in climate regulation. It helps to maintain the health of nearby creeks, which are critical salmon-bearing sites. The peat in the bog does this by cooling and filtering rainwater that comes in. This water then leeches into these salmon-bearing creeks. Burns Bog is also a major carbon sink. Since organic matter decomposes at a very slow rate in the bog, carbon stays in the bog. High acidity and the waterlogged conditions of peatlands such as Burns Bog prevent complete decomposition of fixed carbon.[4] This prevents the carbon from escaping into the atmosphere.  …

Dry peat can catch and spread fire rapidly. Thus, fires in Burns Bog can burn underground for months in methane-rich peat. Large fires occurred in Burns Bog in 1977, twice in 1990, 1994, 1996, 2005, 2007, and 2016.  …

Another fire broke out on September 11, 2005 in Burns Bog. The fire broke out near the south eastern edge of the bog. Smoke and ash covered the entire Lower Mainland and spread all the way to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. The fire expanded to 200 hectares (490 acres) hectares after three days. Large-scale fighting methods were used to combat the blaze. This included firebreaks being bulldozed and dikes to raise the water level in the hopes of extinguishing any of the fire burning underground. BC Fire Service's Air Tanker Centre dispatched a fleet of air tankers to assist in putting out the blaze. This included four Firecats, two Convair 580s and the Martin Mars water bombers, which are the world's largest air tankers. Eight days after the fire first set blaze, Delta municipality announced that the fire was in "mop-up" stages.

Although this is a local Greater Vancouver story, the effects of bog fires has global ramifications for the environment.  As humans drain bogs to get at the peat or make them ultimately more "useful",  ancient carbon and methane are released into the atmosphere which contributes to global warming.  Even though Burns Bog is on the other side of Metro Vancouver from where I live (about 40 – 50 km away) and the prevailing wind was south-east, I could still see and smell the smoke in the north-east.  Last night, the city of Delta announced that the Burns Bog fire was contained but it is still not out.  The rain and cooler temperatures have helped.

Media Matters — New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that the sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit filed by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes could give 21st Century Fox executives, Lachlan and James Murdoch (sons of Rupert Murdoch)  a way to oust Ailes.

Sherman quotes executives who believe 21st Century Fox’s hiring of outside counsel to investigate the allegations made against Ailes indicate “a coup” inside the network and that “this could be curtains for Ailes.” Sherman reports that “there are signs that the 76 year-old’s luck may have finally expired”:  …

Executives I spoke with over the past 24 hours said the hiring of an outside lawyer is also an indication that Murdoch’s sons may be capitalizing on the Carlson scandal to achieve a long-held goal: forcing Ailes out. “It’s a coup,” one person close to the company told me. If the investigation into Ailes’s management confirms Carlson’s account, or turns up additional episodes of harassment with other Fox women, it stands to reason the Murdoch children would have the leverage they need to push Ailes aside and install a less-right-wing chief. “This could be curtains for Ailes,” another person close to the company said. Indeed, several months after NBC hired an outside counsel in 1995 to investigate Ailes’s alleged anti-Semitic slur, he left NBC.

Well, isn't this just the cat's pajamas!  Why didn't arlson do this long ago instead of putting up with it?  I suspect she would say she was worried about her career.  Here is a petition from Ultra Violet which reads in part:

But Ailes, a serial sexual harasser who has offered promotions for sex and requires female news anchors to display their legs, has yet to face any consequences.

If Fox News does not suspend Ailes, they're sending a message that sexual harassment and the abuse of women is OK in their workplace. All people, regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum, deserve to work in a safe and harassment free workplace and Carlson needs our support.

Public pressure, starting with your signature, will push the network to get rid of Ailes–sending a powerful message that sexism anywhere won't be tolerated.

I was amused by the speculation that this might give the Murdoch's the "leverage they need to push Ailes aside and install a less-right-wing chief."  That might mean (heavy on the 'might') a lot of firings at the network.  I guess we wait and see.  There is also an excellent Alternet piece on this story which TC has covered in his Open ThreadThat piece is more about Carlson and the length of time it has taken her to take action.

CBC — Bassel Mcleash's long journey from Syria to Toronto and finally to Sunday's Pride parade was anything but smooth.

It was a road filled with war, hatred and hardship, which is why the chance to participate in his first Pride parade was so special.  

"To be honest, I'm totally speechless," he said as he moved towards the start of the parade. "The excitement and the emotion that's happening, it's overwhelming. It's too much to handle."

Moments later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stepped in front of the large group of politicians and supporters that Mcleash had joined. At most, Mcleash had hoped to capture a glimpse of Canada's celebrity prime minister.

Standing 5-foot-1, it was easy for the 29-year-old Syrian refugee to work his way to the front of the group and next to the leader of his new country — a spot he didn't surrender for the entire parade route.

bassel6

Bassel McLeash with the broad smile and the big Canada/Pride flag walking next to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"Not in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought about having a day like this, marching next to the prime minister or marching in a Pride," he said.

Read more in the article about Bassel McLeash's journey out of Syria and the additional challenges he has faced as a member of the LGBTQ global community.  Rainbow Railroad is a Canadian organisation helping LGBTQ refugees from around the world.  Read more about Rainbow Railroad at the link provided.  I am repeating the words of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on 01/07/2016: "This is who we are.  This is what we believe in.  This is Canada!"

Think Progress — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is in a bit of hot water.

The trouble started in June, when the Associated Press reported that Bondi “personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump” in 2013 — right around the time she was deciding whether or not to investigate alleged fraud at Trump University. Trump University, of course, is the controversial for-profit school owned by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

It was only four days after Bondi announced she might join an investigation into Trump University when a Trump family foundation gave $25,000 to a political group supporting Bondi’s re-election. After that money came in, Bondi said she would not pursue a lawsuit against Trump University. Two years later — one day before Florida’s crucial primary election — Bondi endorsed Trump for president.

Bondi has so far denied impropriety, calling the AP’s story “false and misleading.” But the situation is not going away, and calls to investigate Bondi over the donation are piling up.

Oh my!  As Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth "Double, double toil and trouble;  Fire burn, and caldron bubble."  I wonder when Republicans are going to take Trump's firey, bubbling caldron — his business acumen, his lying, his xenophobia etc — seriously.  It is already bubbling over and threatening to infect US politics so deeply that the Republican Party is at risk of death.  IMO, as Republicans stand today, no great loss at all.

My Universe

There is something about watching kittens play infront of mirrors that makes one giggle and yes, feel good!

 

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Jun 302016
 

On 29 June 2016 the Three Amigos, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, and US President Barak Obama, met in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada's capital city, to discuss a whole laundry list of items.  Pena Nieto and Trudeau met earlier and agreed on at least two matters important to the two nations: 1) the lifting of visa requirements for Mexicans travelling to Canada which the Harper government instiituted out of fear of a flood of refugees; and 2) the reintroduction of Canadian beef to Mexico after Mexico banned Canadian beef because of the occurrence of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.  After the Summit, Obama spoke before a joint meeting of the House of Commons and the Canadian Senate.

The arrival at Parliament Hill.  You can see in the background one of the towers encased in scaffolding.  As in the US, Conservatives have let some infrastructure deteriorate, even the Prime Minister's residence.

CBC — What did the Three Amigos discuss?

The talks hadn't even started between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto when statements began circulating about what they'd agree on.

Climate change

Obama was barely off the plane when the White House announced a joint environmental action plan. (Canada's release soon followed.)

As CBC News reported earlier this week, the three countries want 50 per cent of their electricity to come from clean power generation by 2025. The plan includes support for cross-border transmission lines, including infrastructure for renewable energy.

There's also a plan to tackle short-lived pollutants, including cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector between 40 and 45 per cent by 2025, reducing black carbon (soot) emissions and finding alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). 

There were a number of things up for discussiion including climate change, trilateral trade, border issues, economic competitiveness, human rights, and security.  Click through for a report on the other five.  Now, if the three countries could only produce an equitable plan that benefits each.  The protectionism is getting a little much, and with the possibility of a Drumpf White House, things will get even worse.  At the end of a Q&A, Obama went on a "rant" about populism and Drumpf.

CBC — "If you'll allow me, I want to say one last thing because it has been a running thread in a bunch questions … this whole issue of populism," Obama said. 

The president then suggested someone take a minute to look up the meaning of the term populism — to represent the interests of the common people — that is often used to describe Trump's campaign style.

Obama said he got into politics to help people, to make sure the poor had the same chances to succeed as the wealthy, that working moms had trustworthy child care, that the tax system was fair and that children were getting a "decent education." 

"Now, I suppose that makes me a populist," Obama said.

"Somebody else who has never shown any regard for workers, has never fought on behalf of social justice issues or making sure that poor kids are getting a decent shot in life, or have health care — in fact, have worked against economic opportunity for workers and ordinary people — they don't suddenly become a populist because they say something controversial in order to win votes. That's not the measure of populism, that's nativism, or xenophobia, or worse. Or, it's just cynicism."

Drumpf's style?  I'll take substance over style any day!  Drumpf is only out for himself first, then other wealthy 1%ers.  It was good to hear Obama comment on Drumpf.

After The Three Amigos Summit, Pena Nieto left and Obama stayed in Ottawa to address a joint session of Parliament.  I think the last American president to address Parliament was Bill Clinton.  What follows is Obama's address in its entirety.

From the CBC — U.S. President Barack Obama handed the torch of progressive politics to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Wednesday in a warm, rousing speech to Parliament, in which he also bluntly urged Canada to spend more on defence to meet its international obligations.

He praised the extraordinary alliance and deep friendship between Canada and the United States.

"We see ourselves in each other and our lives are richer for it," Obama said.

"The enduring partnership between Canada and the United States is as strong as it has ever been and we are more closely aligned than ever before."

I was particularly amused by Obama's comment about why Ottawa was chosen as the capital — its distance from the American border.  During the War of 1812, the Americans sacked York (now Toronto).  The British returned the favour by crossing the border and burning down the White House.

CBC — The American president's speech to the House of Commons will inevitably be described as historic, because Canadians still really love Barack Obama. We think he might secretly be Canadian. …

… Obama managed to pack in tolerance, diversity, multi-culti, climate change, the duty of hard power to keep peace while punishing evil, the imperative of fighting inequality and discrimination and bigotry and nativism, our collective moral obligation to fight the outrage of poverty abroad, the need to make decisions based on fact and evidence, a rousing call to eliminate diseases and produce the first AIDS-free generation and a plea to recognize that some values are universal, and that we should set aside timidity and unabashedly fight for pluralism, equality and tolerance. …

It's hard to imagine any other world leader singling out the Trudeau government's effort at reconciliation with indigenous people, even using the uniquely Canadian term "First Nations."

And it was good to hear an American president effectively concede Canada was right all those years ago to engage Cuba, rather than try to isolate and destroy it, and even understand the Canadian fear of American tourists, with all their money and, well, Americanism, flooding back onto Varadero's beaches.

Let's face it, speeches are just words.  To have meaning, there must be truth and sincerity behind them.  For the most part I agree with Obama.  Nobody, no country is perfect.  But if we strive to move forward with justice for each other and for the planet, we will accomplish much.

 

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Jun 302016
 

Well it has been a busy day  . . . mostly spent slaving over a hot keyboard with this and two other articles,  I haven't even done TC's Open Thread yet.  I did manage to get out to pick up my new cell phone so I'll have to spend some time getting accustomed to it.  Tomorrow is Canada Day and I am staying low.  It may rain anyway, but I have a few urgent matters requiring my attention.  Lucia will be out with her kids so no teaching tomorrow.  A nice rest.

Short Takes

Think Progress — In a blunt letter to Congress, 31 leading scientific societies reaffirmed the reality that humans are causing climate change and only we can stop it. “To reduce the risk of the most severe impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be substantially reduced,” they write.  …

But as long as the media still gives presidential candidates (and pretty much every other major politician) a free pass on this most preventable of existential threats to America, scientists will have to keep “reminding” policymakers of the broad scientific understanding about human-caused climate change.

“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research concludes that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver,” explain the 31 scientific groups. “This conclusion is based on multiple independent lines of evidence and the vast body of peer-reviewed science.'”

I guess the old adage "give until it hurts" applies here.  Certainly the Republican dominated (for now!) Congress is not going to back down from their denial state.  That would mean ignoring their ever fattening wallets.  Of course, if they and theirs don't have a world in which to make more money and spend it, who cares, right?  They are such a bunch of myopic lame-brains!

CBC — The Federal Court of Appeal has overturned approval of Enbridge's controversial Northern Gateway project after finding Ottawa failed to properly consult the First Nations affected by the pipeline.

"We find that Canada offered only a brief, hurried and inadequate opportunity … to exchange and discuss information and to dialogue," the ruling says. …

The Federal Court of Appeal has overturned approval of Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline project because Ottawa failed to consult adequately with First Nations.

Constitutional requirement to consult

The majority ruling was signed by two of the three judges on the Appeal Court panel. Judge Michael Ryer wrote a dissenting opinion.

Pipeline opponents have called the decision "landmark."

"At every turn you're going, you are seeing nails in the coffin of the Enbridge project," said Peter Lantin, president of the council of the Haida Nation, one of the parties that appealed.

"I don't think there's enough room for another nail in the coffin."

It was former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his harlots that rushed that decision through in 2014 ignoring the consultative process.  Not surprising really!  He ignored a lot of First Nations issues and emergencies such as Attawapiskat.  PM Trudeau commented that he does not want to see a pipeline through the Great Bear Rainforest of the BC central and northern coast, nor oil tankers, massive tankers, plying the coastal waters of the Pacific.  I hope this will be the end but the pro-pipeline group is likely to try to take this to the Supreme Court of Canada.  May they fail miserably!

Daily Beast — The battle to become Britain’s next prime minister has descended into a blood-spattered Shakespearean epic within 24 hours of the nominations being opened. Betrayal, intrigue, and backstabbing gripped the Conservative Party at the end of the most dramatic week in the history of British politics.

Boris Johnson, who was the favorite to win the contest earlier Thursday, was forced to pull out of the race when his own campaign manager betrayed him in spectacular fashion.

Johnson is widely thought to have campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union in last week’s referendum as part of a cunning plot to seize the leadership of the Conservative Party from his old school friend David Cameron.  …

In a statement that shocked Westminster on Thursday, he announced he would quit his role as Johnson’s campaign manager and put himself forward for the party leadership.

“I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead,” Gove said. …

“I have never seen anything like it. He’s ripped the Tory party apart, he has created the greatest constitutional crisis in peacetime in my life. He’s knocked billions off the value of the savings of the British people. He’s like a general who marches his army to the sound of the guns, and the moment he sees the battleground he abandons it,” said Lord Heseltine, the former Conservative deputy prime minister and Thatcher-era Cabinet member.

It is not just markets and currencies that have taken a hit from the Brexit vote.  British politics, post Brexit, are starting to look a lot like American politics with backroom deals and skullduggery!  Pip! Pip! Old chaps.  Let's be civil!

My Universe

Run Forrest, run!

Run Forest! Run!

Let’s stay that way.

Some kids can sleep in any position!  Life is tiring when you're so cute!

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Jun 122016
 

I’m running way late today because Julie was here.  I’m a very pampered puddy tat.  We finalized the details for my surgeries next week.  We did a whole gamut of housekeeping tasks, including the dreaded task.  Killer Dawg helped.

0612KillerDawgDreaded

I fed her lunch, a plate of Tony Roma’s Baby Back Ribs. The down-side is that Killer Dawg has hidden three rib bones in my apartment, and I have no idea where they are.  We also took a pic of Killer Dawg in his official duds, in compliance with a European request for it.

0612KillerDawgOfficial

The parade was cold and it rained on and off.  I took a few pics, but as the bands passed us, none were playing and almost none of the girls were baton tossing, pompom shaking, or flag waving.  Everyone was just walking past, so about mid-way through, I gave up and had lunch.  I still have to resize the pictures and plan to post them tomorrow.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:51 (average 4:51).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos (classic 2/2015): The U.S. Geological Survey has backed-up what scientists have been suggesting for years–that deep injection of wastewater is the primary cause of the dramatic rise in detected earthquakes:

Keep it in the ground!!

Also from Daily Kos (classic 3/2015): DW-NOMINATE is a method for analyzing data on preferences, such as voting data, developed by political scientists Keith T. Poole and Howard Rosenthal. Unlike the scoring done by interest groups, DW-NOMINATE doesn’t rely on subjective determinations of what constitutes a liberal vote or a conservative vote–it sorts members of a population according to how similar each member’s choices are to those of other members of the population. Two senators who vote the same way 90 percent of the time will be much closer to each other than two senators who only vote the same way 10 percent of the time. Poole and Rosenthal have used this method to discover some interesting statistics and trends going back to the First Congress in 1787-89.

Using House and Senate roll call votes as inputs, DW-NOMINATE has been used to chart every member of every Congress in a two-dimensional space. The primary dimension corresponds strongly to conventional notions of the liberal-conservative axis in modern politics, while the significance of the secondary axis tends to change over time (traditionally it tended to highlight the distance between Dixiecrats and the rest of the Democratic party; today it’s kind of a more nebulous indicator of social and cultural differences and is, in my opinion, not particularly interesting). The point is that we can sort the members of a particular Congress by their scores on the primary dimension to easily rank them from most liberal to most conservative based entirely on their own voting data.

And when we do this for the period in which Hillary Clinton was in the Senate, here’s what we get:

As it turns out, with a first-dimension score of -0.391 based upon her entire service in Congress, Hillary Clinton was the 11th most liberal member of the Senate in each of the 107th, 108th, 109th, and 110th Congresses. That places her slightly to the left of Pat Leahy (-0.386), Barbara Mikulski (-0.385) and Dick Durbin (-0.385); clearly to the left of Joe Biden (-0.331) and Harry Reid (-0.289)

0612hillary

This surprised me, but I can’t argue with authentic voting stats. I was not surprised that Bernie is number one!

From LA Times: A heavily armed gunman who had reportedly pledged allegiance to Islamic State stormed into a packed gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday, and began rapidly firing into the crowd, killing at least 50 people and wounding 53 in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

The gunman was killed by a SWAT team after taking hostages at Pulse, a popular gay club, investigators said at an early morning news conference. He has been preliminarily identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Fla., a U.S. law enforcement official said.

Mateen called 911 moments before the attack, pledging allegiance to the Islamic state, a federal law enforcement official said, confirming earlier reports. Federal investigators said they also were looking into reports that he recited prayers to Allah during the attack. The investigators stressed that they have just begun digging into his background and don’t want to jump to conclusions about any links to Islamic State.

 

May their loved ones be comforted. Barack, Bernie and Hillary all tried to comfort their suffering and condemned the pseudo-Muslim from the Daesh. Rump Dump Trump wants congratulations. Some other Republicans are even condemning the victims.

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0612Cartoon

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Jun 112016
 

I was hoping to sleep-in, but Grand Floral Parade goers started staking out their spots and blowing their air horns at about 5:00 AM.  I’d guess that the parade will get here between 11:00 AM and 12:00 N.  Julie and I rescheduled shower day to tomorrow, so I’m a stinky puddy tat!!  I’ll scoot down and take a few pictures, if it isn’t raining.  Rain is bad for my chair.

My first surgery is a week from Monday.  The radioactive plaque they will be inserting behind my right eye is about the size of an old pop bottle cap.

0611melanoma_plaque

Mine will have a notch in one side to fit around the optic nerve.  The second surgery, a week from Friday, will be to remove it.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:49 (average 4:58).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Politico has an excellent piece of reporting from within the Sanders campaign on their future efforts. A great read and very encouraging for those of us who are anticipating unity within the party. It appears that staff within the Sanders group are already starting to shift their focus toward assisting Clinton in the general.

Sanders’ tech team is already expressing interest in working on Clinton’s behalf to drum up enthusiasm among young voters — a critical demographic for Democrats that Sanders dominated and Clinton struggled with during the primaries.

“Getting a bunch of kids stoked on the process is very important to ensure a Trump presidency is not possible,” said Arun Chaudhary, the Sanders videographer who joined the senator’s team at the White House on Thursday to take pictures surrounding his meeting with Obama.

As I said, the problem is not and never was Bernie. It’s the bots, who say they support him, but act at cross-purposes to what he is doing.

From Think Progress: Texas, so fond of seeing the environmental regulators in court that it has sued the Environmental Protection Agency dozens of times, wants to take the EPA to court for a brand new reason.

The Texas Railroad Commission recommended that the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, file another lawsuit targeting new EPA regulations seeking to limit methane emissions. Texas would be the first state to do so.

I don’t know why the Railroad Commission is doing this, when the Texas Republican Party is the biggest source of methane in the Southwest US.

From Alternet: A potentially massive fine levied against three telemarketing companies could finally force others in the industry to comply with federal rules—and stop nuisance calls.

Local news station KSL.com reports that the three companies—Feature Films for Families, Corporations for Character and Family Films of Utah—made more than 117 million illegal calls to consumers who had signed up with the “Do Not Call” registry. If the court assigns the regular fine amount for all of the 117 million illegal calls, the firms could end up paying over $1 trillion.

It goes without saying that the companies would not be able to afford such high fines and would be financially ground into dust by such a verdict, although the companies are still waiting for the judge’s decision on whether the full fines will be enforced. Eric Allen, an attorney for the law firm that is representing the companies, said a $1 trillion fine could have a chilling effect on other telemarketers.

Frankly, I hope the judge puts them out of business. Companies with such a Republican lack of respect don’t deserve to operate, and it would put other telemarketers on notice to respect the Do Not Call list, OR ELSE!! Enough don’t that it’s a rare day that I don’t get at least one scam robocall, usually for timeshare scams or loans

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Jun 042016
 

It saddens me to report that there was an oil spill and fire in a train carrying super-volatile Bakken Crude  adjacent to the Columbia River, and that it is now in the river itself.  Officials say it has been contained, but what they call contained never means eliminated, so it will be in the river, poisoning the ecosystem for decades.

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A Union Pacific train carrying volatile Bakken crude oil derailed in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge Friday afternoon, sparking a large blaze and prompting evacuations and road closures around the nearby town of Mosier. No deaths or injuries were reported.

KATU TV reported that as many as four rail cars ended up engulfed in flames. A Union Pacific spokesman said oil leaked from at least one car, though according to an Oregon Department of Transportation statement released last night, “no oil or fire suppression water has reached Rock Creek, the Columbia River, or its tributaries.” ODOT officials added that Union Pacific crews had placed booms across Rock Creek and the mouth of the Columbia River as a preemptive step.

The derailment generated a large fire, and plumes of smoke filled the sky. Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, observed the blaze. In a statement sent to ThinkProgress, he characterized the incident as “a terrible situation.”

From <Think Progress>

Governor Kate Brown held a press conference last night

I checked to see if they had kept it out of the river.

0604oil-train-recovery

A light oil sheen was spotted in the Columbia River near the site of Friday's oil train derailment near the Oregon town of Mosier, raising concerns about the fiery wreck's environmental impacts during peak spring chinook migration.

Environmental officials said the oil has been contained and they are investigating the source.

Crews overnight put out the blaze in the tanker cars, and Interstate 84 was re-opened to traffic. But about 100 people remained under evacuation from 74 homes…

From <The Oregonian>

Here's an interactive map, that you can use to explore the area around the spill.

In summery, this just sickens me.  Portland has an ordinance banning oil trains within the city limits.  Every city and every state needs to adopts\ such ordinances, until the only economical thing to do with crude oil is to leave it in the ground.

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Jun 022016
 

I'm rushing to to finish as much as I can before my CAT scan,  I'll say hi to the cat for you.

I'm back.  The cat made me drink a quart of cat pee called contrasting agent and then injected more.  YUCK!  I have my pre-surgery physical tomorrow morning sp expect no more than a late Personal Update.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today's took me 3:25 (average 5:47).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: A federal judge ordered the release of hundreds of documents related to the fraud case against Donald Trump for his now defunct (like most of Trump’s businesses) Trump University. The so-called “university” was a series of real estate seminars that promised to teach people insider secrets of the real estate business. The documents reveal high pressure sales tactics that were designed to play on people’s emotions and carefully convince people to part with their money, often encouraging them to take on huge amounts of debt to finance their “education.” The manual instructed Trump University sales staff to find out personal information and then use that to close the deal and separate already desperate people from what money they had, even if that meant taking on credit card debt…

 

Everything about Rump Dump, like his CONiversity, is also a lie.

From NY Times: A wave of prominent Republicans have announced their intention to skip the party’s national convention in Cleveland this summer, the latest sign that Donald J. Trump, who last week secured the delegates needed to clinch the Republican presidential nomination, continues to struggle in his effort to unite the party behind his candidacy.

The list of those who have sent regrets includes governors and United States senators — almost all facing tough re-election fights this year — and lifelong party devotees who have attended every convention for decades. Some are renouncing their seats like conscientious objectors.

“I could not in good conscience attend a coronation and celebration of Donald Trump,” wrote one Indiana delegate, Josh Claybourn, in a blog post resigning his position.

The coolness toward Mr. Trump amounts to a remarkable rebuke. A broad range of party leaders are openly rejecting the man who will be their nominee. And the July 18-21 convention, usually a moment of public catharsis for political parties after contentious primaries, is shaping up to be another reminder of the disarray and disunity that is still rocking the Republican Party after a bitter 17-way fight for the nomination.

Extinction is the only proper fate of the Republican Party.

From Alternet: The City of Portland has created and implemented strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for more than 20 years. In the early 1990s, it became the first city in the United States to adopt a comprehensive carbon dioxide reduction strategy. In 2001, Multnomah County (the most populous of Oregon’s 36 counties) and the City of Portland (which is the seat of Multnomah County and Oregon’s largest city) passed their joint Local Action Plan on Global Warming.

In 2009, Multnomah County and Portland adopted an updated climate action plan (CAP) with expanded categories for actions and more-rigorous reduction targets. The plan identifies 93 action steps in 8 categories to reach its emissions reduction goals, ranging from curbside pickup of residential food scraps to expanding the city’s streetcar and light rail system.

Thanks to strong government leadership, science-informed policy making has long been practiced in Portland. To avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change, the city set its latest emissions reduction target by referring to current science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Portland adopted an 80 percent emissions reduction target by 2050, with an interim goal of 40 percent by 2030. In line with IPCC recommendations, 1990 was set as the baseline year for the reduction target.

Oregon leads the way!

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0602Cartoon

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May 042016
 

Last night I watched the poli6tical festivities.  George is mad at me.  When Rump Dump spoke, I couldn’t help myself.  Poor George!!  Julie left a few minutes ago, so I’m a primped puddy tat.  Today is a grocery delivery day and I’ll have a big order to put away.  Later”  The groceries are stowed and I’m pooped!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:07 (average 5:51).  To do it, click here. How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Real Clear Politics: The latest delegate count:

State

Date

Delegates

Clinton

Sanders

Delegate

Allocation

Open/

Closed

(2,382 Needed to Win)

4763

2202

1400

Delegates Won

4051

1682

1361

 

 

Superdelegates

(712)

520

39

 

 

District of Columbia

June 14

20 (25)

 

 

Primary

Closed

California

June 7

475 (71)

 

 

Primary

Semi-closed

Montana

June 7

21 (6)

 

 

Primary

Open

New Jersey

June 7

126 (16)

 

 

Primary

Closed

North Dakota

June 7

18 (5)

 

 

Primary

Open

New Mexico

June 7

34 (9)

 

 

Primary

Closed

South Dakota

June 7

20 (5)

 

 

Primary

Semi-open

Puerto Rico

June 5

60 (7)

 

 

Primary

Open

Virgin Islands

June 4

7 (5)

 

 

Caucus

Closed

Oregon

May 17

61 (13)

 

 

Primary

Closed

Kentucky

May 17

55 (5)

 

 

Primary

Closed

West Virginia

May 10

29 (8)

 

 

Primary

Semi-closed

Guam

May 7

7 (5)

 

 

Caucus

Closed

Indiana

May 3

83 (9)

37

43

Primary

Open

Rhode Island

April 26

24 (9)

11

13

Primary

Semi-closed

Pennsylvania

April 26

189 (21)

105

83

Primary

Closed

Delaware

April 26

21 (10)

12

9

Primary

Closed

Connecticut

April 26

55 (15)

28

27

Primary

Closed

Maryland

April 26

95 (23)

61

33

Primary

Closed

New York

April 19

247 (44)

139

108

Primary

Closed

Wyoming

April 9

14 (4)

7

7

Caucus

Closed

Wisconsin

April 5

86 (10)

38

48

Primary

Open

Washington

March 26

101 (17)

9

25

Caucus

Open

Hawaii

March 26

25 (9)

8

17

Caucus

Semi-closed

Alaska

March 26

16 (4)

3

13

Caucus

Closed

Utah

March 22

33 (4)

6

27

Caucus

Semi-open

Idaho

March 22

23 (4)

5

18

Caucus

Open

Arizona

March 22

75 (10)

42

33

Primary

Closed

Ohio

March 15

143 (16)

81

62

Primary

Semi-open

North Carolina

March 15

107 (14)

59

45

Primary

Semi-closed

Missouri

March 15

71 (13)

36

35

Primary

Open

Illinois

March 15

156 (26)

79

77

Primary

Open

Florida

March 15

214 (32)

141

73

Primary

Closed

Northern Marianas

March 12

6 (5)

4

2

N/A

N/A

Michigan

March 8

130 (17)

63

67

Primary

Open

Mississippi

March 8

36 (5)

32

4

Primary

Open

Maine

March 6

25 (5)

9

16

Caucus

Closed

Kansas

March 5

33 (4)

10

23

Caucus

Closed

Nebraska

March 5

25 (5)

10

15

Caucus

Closed

Louisiana

March 5

51 (8)

37

14

Primary

Closed

Virginia

March 1

95 (15)

62

33

Primary

Open

Vermont

March 1

16 (10)

0

16

Primary

Open

Texas

March 1

222 (30)

147

75

Primary

Open

Tennessee

March 1

67 (9)

44

23

Primary

Open

Oklahoma

March 1

38 (4)

17

21

Primary

Semi-closed

Minnesota

March 1

77 (16)

31

46

Caucus

Open

Massachusetts

March 1

91 (25)

46

45

Primary

Semi-closed

Georgia

March 1

102 (14)

73

29

Primary

Open

Democrats Abroad

March 1-8

13 (4)

4

9

Primary

Closed

Colorado

March 1

66 (13)

25

41

Caucus

Closed

Arkansas

March 1

32 (5)

22

10

Primary

Open

American Samoa

March 1

6 (4)

4

2

Caucus

Closed

Alabama

March 1

53 (7)

44

9

Primary

Open

South Carolina

February 27

53 (6)

39

14

Primary

Open

Nevada

February 20

35 (8)

20

15

Caucus

Closed

New Hampshire

February 9

24 (8)

9

15

Primary

Semi-closed

Iowa

February 1

44 (8)

23

21

Caucus

Semi-open

Bernie scored an impressive win in Indiana, but he cut Hillary’s lead bu only six delegates. He needs 982 more to win. Hillary needs 180 more to win. Vote blue, no matter who!!!

From NY Times: The entire community of Fort McMurray, the heart of Alberta’s oil sands region, was ordered to evacuate on Tuesday night as a fast-spreading wildfire advanced on the city and cut off its only highway link to the south.

The fire destroyed a number of homes in one neighborhood and some trailers in a trailer park, said Robin Smith, a spokesman for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes Fort McMurray. According to television news reports, commercial buildings downtown were also ablaze.

There were no reports of injuries by early evening.

A video showed flames and smoke rising hundreds of feet into the sky, prompting the largest fire evacuation in Alberta’s history, The Edmonton Journal reported. The fire was expected to get worse on Wednesday, when winds were forecast to switch direction and increase in speed.

I found a video report:

Prayers are going out for the residents of Fort McMurray, I don’t think the oil sands have caught fire yet and hate to think of the toxic threat to Canadians, if that happens.

From Alternet: Following Donald Trump’s primary win in Indiana last night, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren blasted the Republican frontrunner on social media for building “his campaign on racism, sexism and xenophobia,” vowing to ensure “Trump’s toxic stew of hatred and insecurity never reaches the White House.”

Here’s the message she posted on Facebook:

Elizabeth Warren
14 hours ago
Donald Trump is now the leader of the Republican Party. It’s real – he is one step away from the White House. Here’s what else is real:
Trump has built his campaign on racism, sexism, and xenophobia. There’s more enthusiasm for him among leaders of the KKK than leaders of the political party he now controls.
He incites supporters to violence, praises Putin, and, according to a columnist who recently interviewed him, is "cool with being called an authoritarian" and doesn’t min…
See More

Democrat Warren has largely stayed on the sidelines of the nominating process for her own party this election cycle, but the progressive politician consistently slams Republican candidates for their positions on big banks, and labor laws and women’s rights.

Go Lizzie!! Rump Dump Trump deserves every bit of that!

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Apr 272016
 

So it has been almost 2 weeks since I last published an article, not because I did not want to, but because I have been very, very busy with all sorts of activities.  Something had to give and it was publishing.  Last Sunday during a church service, five of us were commissioned and anointed into the ministry of pastoral care having finished our training and police background checks.  Of course I have been teaching and attending physio.  Last Friday, I looked after Lucia's two youngest while Lucia took some "me time".  I was totally wasted by the afternoon when Lucia returned.  What's more, I managed to escape a nuclear diaper!  I'll do the same next week so Lucia can be with Loliyo at a dance competition.  There are also routine things like doctor's and dentist's appointments, and the most important, snuggles with the fur babies.  I still have to do the taxes but since neither of us owe any, it isn't a big worry.

Short Takes

The Nation — Global warming is, in the end, not about the noisy political battles here on the planet’s surface. It actually happens in constant, silent interactions in the atmosphere, where the molecular structure of certain gases traps heat that would otherwise radiate back out to space. If you get the chemistry wrong, it doesn’t matter how many landmark climate agreements you sign or how many speeches you give. And it appears the United States may have gotten the chemistry wrong. Really wrong.  

In February, Harvard researchers published an explosive paper in Geophysical Research Letters. Using satellite data and ground observations, they concluded that the nation as a whole is leaking methane in massive quantities. Between 2002 and 2014, the data showed that US methane emissions increased by more than 30 percent, accounting for 30 to 60 percent of an enormous spike in methane in the entire planet’s atmosphere.  

These leaks are big enough to wipe out a large share of the gains from the Obama administration’s work on climate change—all those closed coal mines and fuel-efficient cars. In fact, it’s even possible that America’s contribution to global warming increased during the Obama years. The methane story is utterly at odds with what we’ve been telling ourselves, not to mention what we’ve been telling the rest of the planet. It undercuts the promises we made at the climate talks in Paris. It’s a disaster—and one that seems set to spread.

The Obama administration, to its credit, seems to be waking up to the problem. Over the winter, the EPA began to revise its methane calculations, and in early March, the United States reached an agreement with Canada to begin the arduous task of stanching some of the leaks from all that new gas infrastructure. But none of this gets to the core problem, which is the rapid spread of fracking. Carbon dioxide is driving the great warming of the planet, but CO2 isn’t doing it alone. It’s time to take methane seriously.

MSNBCI found this interesting segment of The Rachel Maddow Show that showcases some of the Republican bigotry, racism and total lack of sensitivity to history.

Politico — Republicans over the past seven years have come to view Barack Obama not just as an ideological enemy but as a “dictator”—an accusation hurled most recently by both Chris Christie and Glenn Beck—a president who has unconstitutionally abused his executive power with an array of unilateral actions.

But Republicans are hardly passive victims of an overweening executive; they are, in fact, paying for their own unilateral surrender of power. The GOP-dominated Congress has sought to weaken and undermine Obama and instead has achieved the opposite. Unable to pass significant legislation after the Affordable Care Act, the Obama White House filled the vacuum by creative use of executive authority, setting a potentially risky precedent for the future balance between the branches but spurred, ironically, by the very opponents who were trying to contain him.

Is this where we get to say to Republicans "You reap what you sow!"?  Personally, I do not see Obama as a dictator, but rather a man trapped by the incompetence and beligerence of political foes . . . foes willing to ruin the country in order to stick to their idiotological principles.

My Universe — 20 Reasons You Need A Cat In Your Life

You may view cats as evil creatures, and you may not be entirely wrong with that assumption. Still, you may not realize that owning a cat actually has a variety of benefits for you and your health. These are just a few reasons why you should open your home to a cat.

BTW, people don't own cats.  Dogs have owners.  Cats have staff!

3. They Do Not Need Baths

Giving cats a bath is not a fun experience. Fortunately, unlike dogs, cats really do not need baths. They are huge neat freaks that frequently groom themselves, making bathing unnecessary. This also goes back to the whole “low maintenance thing”. If you do dare to bath a cat, be sure to wear complete padding because this can get pretty messy though the results are pretty hilarious.

7. They Make Fantastic Alarm Clocks

When cats want their breakfast, they want it now. They do not care if you are sleeping, they will wake you up. In fact, they do not even need to have breakfast for an excuse to wake you up. They will wake you up for whatever reason they have decided to wake you up and you will have to deal with that.

11. They Will Keep You Grounded

All of those jokes about how cats think humans are their slaves? These are completely accurate. Cats believe that you are merely there to serve them and their needs. This will help put you in your place whenever you feel that you are better than you are.

Click through for the other 17 reasons you need at least one cat in your life.

 

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