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 252016
 

Almost every week, Republicans join a competition to see who can say the most outlandish things, and in the process, they push the envelope on just how awful InsaniTEA can become.  I trust that you will believe it, when I tell you that last week was no exception.  There is no doubt that the RNC has brought out the crazies!

Alternet — Thursday was a night of troubled sleep throughout the land. In his long-awaited keynote speech, Republican nominee Donald Trump managed not just to confirm all of our worst fears about him, but to amplify them, make them 10 times darker and bigger, make them huuuuuuge! He got the fear job done. Better than anyone in the entire history of the country has gotten it done!

Let us just review what an amazing accomplishment this was. Rudy Giuliani kicked things off, commanding everyone to be much more terrified about crime, ISIS immigration and Black Lives Matter. Chris Christie roused the crowds with chants of “lock her up,” and “guilty as charged!” Ted Cruz delivered his same lizard-like stump speech, the one everyone assumed they’d be spared after he dropped out of the race. The accumulating horror was enhanced by the realization that the slick-backed Trump sons have themselves acquired a taste for politics and now feel qualified to bash teachers and environmental regulations, celebrate gun culture and espouse other tired conservative talking points.

Trump_Face_Facial-ExpressionS

Thanks to Nameless for providing the picture.

But Trump took the crown! He patted his Ivanka on the butt, and then surpassed them all in 75 minutes of continuous bellowing horribleness. The moon was nearly full. A smoldering heat dome would come to blanket much of the country. Darkness descended. And the next day, the mainstream media sunnily gave him credit for his shout-out to the LGBTQ community.

2. Rep. Steve King doesn’t even bother to disguise his racism.

It’s very possible that Iowa rep Steve King has zero concept of white supremacy. It is simply the water in which this fish swims in. So perhaps it should not have been too much of a surprise this week when the rabid anti-immigrationist, tea partying congressman just came out and said during a live appearance on MSNBC that white people have basically been superior to all others throughout history and invented everything worthwhile.

His comments came about after host Chris Hayes asked a question about the racial makeup of the GOP.

Charles Pierce of Esquire was there and said: “If you’re really optimistic, you can say this was the last time that old white people would command the Republican Party’s attention, its platform, its public face.”

That did not sit well with King. “This whole ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie,” he said, all buddy buddy. “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about? Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

Co-panelists were stunned. Hayes asked for clarification. Did he mean what it sounded like he just said?

He did.

We know this because, one, he said it really clearly, and two, he doubled down on his assertion of the superiority of the white European “subgroup” the next day. The man who tried to block Harriet Tubman from being on the $20 bill recently was 100 percent on-message for his party, as you'll see if you read on.

Republicans are so good at the fear game.  This go around, Drumpf and others have whipped up a frenzie of fear which is unfortunate because they are turning neighbour against neighbour.  Back in November 2015, according to Crooks and Liars, Trump said

“The real greatest resource is all of you, because you have all those eyes and you see what’s happening,” he told listeners in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“People move into a house a block down the road, you know who’s going in,” Trump continued. "You can see and you report them to the local police.

“You’re pretty smart, right?” he asked his audience. "We know if there’s something going on, report them. Most likely you’ll be wrong, but that’s OK.

And of course, Steve "Cantaloupe Calves" King of Iowa is doing his best to increase fear and racism.  This is the second of five appalling right wing moments this past week.  Click through for the others.

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Jul 252016
 

It was very hot and muggy today — 30 C (86 F) — so I tried to stay quiet in some air conditioning for as long as possible, then home to the heat.  It is 23:00 hours and the temperature is still 22 C (72 F) with high humidity.  This week will be busy as I have physio, pastoral care calls to make, teaching and 2 medical appointments.  I hope it doesn't stay hot and humid this week.  Later — My wi-fi connection shut down before I could finish and post last night so this is 10 hours late in getting up.

Short Takes

Politicususa — Donald Trump is facing a new complaint that his use of the Trump Organization to do his campaign work is a violation of federal law.

The Democratic Coalition Against Trump announced their FEC complaint against the GOP nominee in a statement:

This morning the Democratic Coalition Against Trump filed a federal campaign complaint against Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign with the Federal Elections Commission. The complaint alleges five violations including illegally accepting direct corporate contributions, accepting services from a volunteer that were actually compensated, use of the Trump corporate name or trademark to facilitate campaign contributions, illegal use of corporate facilities by a campaign volunteer, and knowingly allowing volunteers to exceed the transportation expense limit.

The question is, will the FEC recognise this as the violation it is, or will it be bullied by Trump?  If I recall correctly, the Fartfuhrer of Fitzwalkerstan, Scott Walker, faced similar charges.

CBC — It is difficult to imagine that a democratic system has ever existed without some amount of exaggeration, cynicism and frivolity. For that matter, politics should not exclusively be the domain of serious wonkery. Some amount of theatre is natural and useful. Generous amounts of humanity are welcome. Anger and conflict are inevitable.

But ideally a nation's politics would not be predominantly cynical and frivolous, would not be defined by its worst aspects. What excesses of rhetoric or action did occur would be corrected for. And, over time, the system would improve, not fall into disrepair or despair.

An untrusted or unserious system is perhaps ripe for revolt or abuse.  …

Trump is destroying the generally accepted norms of American politics, and expanding the parameters of what a politician could get away with saying in a way that will have lasting impact on the United States. That suggests our democracies are more fragile than we might otherwise appreciate.

Some say that Canada and the US are the same, few differences at all.  I see the two countries as being quite different with some commonalities.  In the article, my former Member of Parliament, James Moore, Conservative, was "asked about Trump's relevance to Canadian conservatives and offered two other observations. First, that Trump isn't a conservative. Second, that the Conservative Party learned in 2015 that conservatism needs to be matched with optimism."  Looking south, I certainly do not see the optimism of which Moore speaks.  What I see is more doom and gloom, outright fear, coming from Republicans.

Alternet — The GOP’s new big dog blew the whistle Thursday night for nearly an hour and a half and it was loud and shrill enough to reach the ears of every angry, resentful, disaffected white American. The tone was divisive, dark, dystopian and grim. Here was the alpha dog of the von Trump family, baying at a blood-red moon that the hills are alive with the sounds of menace. According to Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, this land is rapidly becoming as bleak and dangerous as one of those twisted, vicious kingdoms in Game of Thrones, a place filled with violent crime and despair, a smoldering ruin overrun with foreigners out to take our jobs and terrorists bent on destroying our villages. It’s mourning in America. And only he can save us. This has been his message all year: I alone can fix it. Remember his tweet on Easter morning? “Another radical Islamic attack, this time in Pakistan, targeting Christian women & children. At least 67 dead,400 injured. I alone can solve."  …

But as Washington Post fact checkers Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee noted: “The dark portrait of America that Donald J. Trump sketched… is a compendium of doomsday stats that fall apart upon close scrutiny. Numbers are taken out of context, data is manipulated, and sometimes the facts are wrong. “When facts are inconveniently positive — such as rising incomes and an unemployment rate under 5 percent — Trump simply declines to mention them.

Here is a video from the Washington Post fact checking Trump's Thursday evening convenmtion speech.  Click HERE to view video.  Unfortunately, I could not imbed it.  Elizabeth Warren commented to Stephen Colbert that she didn't think Democrats were taking Trump seriously enough and that he is a dangerous individual, especially when he is so divisive and hateful.  I was amused by some of his early words in his acceptance speech at the RNC: (full transcript from syracuse.com incase you want to scan it without having to listen to his voice)

"It is finally time for a straightforward assessment of the state of our nation. I will present the facts plainly and honestly. We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore.

So if you want to hear the corporate spin, the carefully-crafted lies, and the media myths—the Democrats are holding their convention next week. But here, at our convention, there will be no lies. We will honor the American people with the truth, and nothing else."

When did Drumpf become acquainted with any truth?

VOTE BLUE ALL THE WAY DOWN THE LINE!

being all in for hillaryAll in with Hillary!

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cat8Hi! How ya doin'!

52f180dc-7b40-4fb4-8928-2449da34548dCat trap working!

 

 

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Jul 242016
 

I’m writing early and did my research yesterday evening, because this is one of Wendy’s long mornings, and I expect her shortly.  (Now she’s gone and I’m freshened.  Tomorrow, please expect no more than a Personal Update, as I have an appointment with my Prosthetist.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:58 (average 5:14).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Alternet: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) told Stephen Colbert on "The Late Show" last night that she thinks America is very much underestimating Donald Trump.

"[Trump] is one dangerous man and we need to take him really seriously," Warren told Colbert.

Elizabeth Warren is a Democratic superdelegate and is speaking on behalf of Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention Monday.

 

As always, Liz Warren is spot-on.

From Think Progress: The NBA announced Thursday that it will no longer hold its All-Star Game in Charlotte next year because North Carolina state lawmakers refused to backtrack on HB2, the anti-transgender law passed earlier this year. Though the event would have had a $100 million impact on the city, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) simply doesn’t care if that’s what it takes to keep HB2 on the books.

The Fascist Republican Theocracy of McCrorystan is revolting, and hopefully its people will revolt.

From Raw Story: While panels on HBO’s Real Time can become contentious, Fridays night’s discussion about voting rights went completely out of control as a former GOP lawmaker went to war with columnist Ana Marie Cox and actress/activist America Ferrera.

 

When Bill doesn’t have time to be funny, you KNOW to pay attention!

Cartoon:

0724Cartoon

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Jul 222016
 

This week has been fairly slow and I am enjoying that because I know it won't always be that way.  It has been rather humid and promised thunderstorms did not materialise — well the thunder could be heard but no rain.  Today was 31 C (88 F) with significant humidity.  Friday afternoon and the weekend are supposed to be hot — Arrggghhhh!!!!!  My laptop internet connection died on Tuesday.  I had to call Telus support who were able yesterday afternoon to get me up and running again.  Turned out that the powerbar into which my modem is plugged went TU.  I moved the power source and voilà, Houston we had lift off.  Now to buy a new powerbar and switch over my desktop which was also on the same failed powerbar.  Wouldn't it be nice to plug ourselves into a powerbar to increase energy!  I had a great "girls lunch out" date today and of course we got to talking about Drumpf.  No surprise, none of my white, elderly lady friends like Drumpf!  I guess we're just so social democratic!  I have teaching tomorrow with Lucia, but my other student is busy settling in since moving into a new house, so no teaching.  During the day, her husband, my physiotherapist, is busy working so settling in is slow. 

Short Takes

CBC — He's been called a kiss-up and a Mexican Uncle Tom, and he has felt anger from many within the Hispanic community, but Marco Gutierrez, a member of Latinos for Trump, forges ahead with full-fledged support for the Republican presidential nominee.

In many ways, he's no different from supporters here at the Republican National Convention who admire Trump's business credentials, who see him as a natural leader and who believe that he will, as the campaign slogan boasts: "Make America Great Again." …

Marco Gutierrez, a member of Latinos for Trump, says his internet-based group has 20,000 members.

C.J. Jordan, deputy director of political and community affairs for the Republican National Convention, said people need to understand that what is said during the heat of political battle does not necessarily represent one's views.

"… people need to understand that what is said during the heat of political battle does not necessarily represent one's views."???  Then what does it represent?  A political campaign is an opportunity to get to know a candidate, to get to the issues, to set a direction for the future if the candidate is elected.  IMO, clearly the people in this article are delusional, bought and paid for by the Trump campaign and the Republican Party.  They don't see the degree of racism and bigotry in the Republican platform.  Now THAT is scary!

Montréal Gazette — Everywhere he went, the prime minister solemnly remembered Ukraine’s past. He laid a wreath at the memorial complex recalling the many millions of victims of the genocidal Great Famine of 1932-33 in Soviet Ukraine, the Holodomor. He recalled the millions of Ukrainians who fought and died for their country during the Second World War, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And he paid his respects to the victims of the Nazis at Babyn Yar.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his son, Xavier pay their respects to the victims of the 1932-1933 great famine at the Holodomor famine memorial in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 11, 2016 ANATOLII STEPANOV / AFP/Getty Images

Fittingly, Trudeau also directed attention to today’s Ukraine.

his first state visit to Ukraine, would not be his last. What I realized at that very moment was that Trudeau gets it, that he knows Ukrainians are today fighting and dying for the very same values that Canadians have always defended.

Countries formerly within the Soviet sphere are feeling the pressure of growing Russian aggression.  Of course, Ukraine is especially wary since they have already dealt with Russian aggression in Crimea . . . and it is not over yet.  Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, on his first state visit to Ukraine, explained to his son Xavier what happened in 1932-33 in Ukraine — the Great Famine.  It is another example of genocide from the 20th century . . . "man's inhumanity towards man."  This genocide is referred to as Holodomor. 

Holodomor "…was a man-made famine in the Ukraine in 1932 and 1933 that killed an estimated 2.5–7.5 million Ukrainians, … Since 2006, the Holodomor has been recognized by the independent Ukraine and 14 other countries as a genocide of the Ukrainian people carried out by the Soviet Union. …but believe it was a long-term plan of Joseph Stalin, an attempt to eliminate the Ukrainian independence movement. … arguing that actions such as rejection of outside aid, confiscation of all household foodstuffs, and restriction of population movement confer intent, defining the famine as genocide; the loss of life has been compared to the Holocaust."

Will humanity ever learn?

Foreign Policy — Seldom does the global public have an opportunity to observe an endangered species in its natural habitat, but this week, wildlife enthusiasts received a rare glimpse into the poignant final days of the American Republican elephant.

Classified as "critically endangered" by international authorities, Elaphantidae republicanus, though native to the United States, has struggled for decades to adapt to its rapidly evolving biome.  The enormous pachyderm — once a noble animal that roamed the length and breadth of the nation, as common in America's cities as in it's rural areas — has, in recent years, seen its numbers dwindle and its habitat contract.

Georgetown University law professor, Rosa Brooks, has written this "as a naturalist's guide to the endangered American Republican elephant".  Although humourous, it certainly has the ring of truth.  If you are unable to read the entire article unless you "sign in", you can sign up and read 5 free articles per month — no cost.

Alternet — The Republican Party platform is a wish list for what Republicans in Congress and Donald Trump would like to impose on America. What’s surprising is that it goes further to the right than what’s even been heard on the campaign trail from Trump as he has promised to build a wall along the Mexican border and embrace the religious right’s long-held tenets opposing abortion, LGBT rights and more.

The GOP 2016 platform would make Christianity the official American religion, English the official American language, replace sex education with abstinence-only advice for teenagers, privatize almost all areas of federal services, cut taxes and regulations for the rich and titans of industry, and impose a belligerent foreign policy and military build-up.

Here are 50 excerpts from the 2016 GOP platform.

9. Appoint anti-choice Supreme Court justices: "Only  a  Republican  president  will  appoint  judges  who  respect  the  rule  of  law  expressed within the Constitution and Declaration of  Independence,  including  the  inalienable  right  to life and the laws of nature and nature’s God, as did the late Justice Antonin Scalia."

10. Appoint anti-LGBT and anti-Obamacare justices: "Only such appointments will enable courts to begin to reverse the  long  line  of  activist  decisions  —  including  Roe, Obergefell, and the Obamacare cases — that have  usurped  Congress’s  and  states’  lawmaking  authority."

11. Legalize anti-LGBT discrimination: "We endorse the First Amendment Defense Act, Republican legislation in the House and Senate which  will  bar  government  discrimination  against  individuals and businesses for acting on the belief that  marriage  is  the  union  of  one  man  and  one  woman."

12. Make Christianity a national religion: "We  support  the  public  display  of  the  Ten  Commandments as a reflection of our history and our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage and further affirm the rights of religious students to engage in voluntary prayer at public school events and to have equal access to school facilities."

13. Loosen campaign finance loopholes and dark money: "Freedom of speech includes the right to devote resources  to  whatever  cause  or  candidate  one  supports. We oppose any restrictions or conditions that would discourage citizens from participating in the  public  square  or  limit  their  ability  to  promote  their ideas, such as requiring private organizations to publicly disclose their donors to the government."

14. Loosen gun controls nationwide: "We  support  firearm  reciprocity  legislation  to  recognize  the  right  of  law-abiding  Americans to carry firearms to protect themselves and  their  families  in  all  50  states.  We  support  constitutional  carry  statutes  and  salute  the  states  that  have  passed  them.  We  oppose  ill-conceived  laws  that  would  restrict  magazine  capacity  or  ban  the  sale  of  the  most  popular  and  common  modern rifle."

15. Pass an anti-choice constitutional amendment: "We  assert  the  sanctity  of  human  life  and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a  human  life  amendment  to  the  Constitution  and  legislation  to  make  clear  that  the  Fourteenth  Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth."

These are just 7 of the 50 Republican platform planks.  Read through the remaining 43.  I don't think there is anything that we have not heard of or discussed in some form previously.  IMO, these provisions make a mockery of the very foundations of the US and the documents that Americans hold dear — the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  Republicans would control every aspect of life.  Can you say Fascism?  This is not what the Founders fought for.

1.Fascism

a. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, a capitalist economy subject to stringent governmental controls, violent suppression of the opposition, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.  Any right-wing nationalist ideology or movement with an authoritarian and hierarchical structure that is fundamentally opposed to democracy and liberalism

b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.
2. Oppressive, dictatorial control.
 
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Jul 162016
 

A lot has happened in the world since my last post a week ago and much of it saddens me — Nice, Turkey, racial anger in the US.  But there are also things that inspire hope — kids getting excited about a day trip to a mine, purring kitties, a young woman succeeding at learning to walk again after a traumatic brain injury.  My brother, his wife and their friends dock tomorrow here in Vancouver and then immediately fly home.  I am sure that they enjoyed their trip and will be sorry when the ship docks.  So far in July, temperatures have been about 3 C (5.5 F) below normal, which for me is great — no super hot days and nights — and we've had needed rain.  I had someone approach me at physio about doing some more ESL teaching.  I'll have to make sure I don't take on too much.

Short Takes

Huffington Post — It's so hot that the door to The Depanneur restaurant is propped open for air circulation. The smell of frying onions and then stewed chicken wafts outside into the steamy Toronto afternoon.

It's hard not to stop and peer at what's going on inside the crowded open kitchen in the back.

About a dozen women — some wearing headscarves, others in jeans — are busy cooking a three-course meal. But none are staff; they're Syrian refugees who have been in their new home of Canada for just three months.

"I like the smell of cooking," said Majda Mafalani. "It feels great to be cooking again. I feel that I was born again."

So far removed from their homeland torn apart by civil war, this natural and simple act of cooking has given them back a semblance of community and identity, and an unexpected foray into entrepreneurship.

newcomer kitchen syrian

Senater said: "She said to me, 'I like coming here because I am learning new recipes and learning more about being Syrian' and I said 'I like having you guys here because I learn more about being Canadian."

From refugees to entrepreneurs with some support from the local community.  Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to support refugees.  And that support leads to a stronger community, one filled with a great multitude of peoples.

Raw Story — A Kentucky county judge refused to officiate a couple’s wedding after they requested he respect their lack of religious beliefs, the Friendly Atheist reported.

Trigg County Judge/Executive Hollis Alexander confirmed that he turned away Mandy Heath and her fiancee when Heath went to file the necessary paperwork at the local courthouse on the day before their wedding.

Move over Kim Davis — you have company!  I guess it shouldn't surprise me that a judge, charged with upholding the constitution, doesn't understand it.  I'm going to go out on a limb, but Alexander must be a Republican.

Daily Kos — [Ten-year-old Carter Beckhard-Suozzi of New York] was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma in May 2015. He underwent five months of grueling chemotherapy and surgeries before being told by doctors he had beaten the cancer, according to his mom, Jane Beckhard-Suozzi.

While Carter was in the hospital, he was visited by officials from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Months later, out of the blue, he told his mom what he wanted his wish to be.

Screen_Shot_2016-07-15_at_4.37.13_PM.png

“He said, ‘Mom, I figured it out. I want to meet President Jimmy Carter,’” Beckhard-Suozzi recalled. “When I asked why, he said, ‘We have three things in common. We have the same name. We both have survived cancer and we both love helping people.’

A moment of hope in a bleak week!  I just loved this so I had to share it.  Can't you just feel that awesome hug!  There is also a petition to sign thanking Jimmy Carter.

Washington Post — Mike Pence was a young lawyer on the rise, challenging a longtime Democratic congressman in a Republican-leaning Indiana district.

And then, scandal.

Campaign finance records from the 1990 effort showed that Pence, then 31, had been using political donations to pay the mortgage on his house, his personal credit card bill, groceries, golf tournament fees and car payments for his wife.

The spending had not been illegal at the time. But it stunned voters — and undermined Pence’s strategy to portray the incumbent, Rep. Philip R. Sharp, as tainted by donations from special-interest political action committees.

“It was a brazen act of hypocrisy,”…

Pence_drug_Ad_1988_composite21468605731.wdp

Pence was unapologetic at the time, telling reporters that he had taken a 30 percent pay cut to run for office and needed the money. “I’m not embarrassed that I need to make a living,” he said.

Finally, we have another extreme right wing politician to expose on a national level for all to see.  Trump = disaster.  Pence = disaster.  Trump + Pence = a disaster of monumental proportions whose destruction supercedes that of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

VOTE BLUE ALL DOWN THE LINE!!!

The New Yorker — Over the past couple of months, Donald Trump hasn’t done much right, but in picking Mike Pence, the staunchly conservative governor of Indiana, as his running mate, he probably made a wise choice. History suggests that Vice-Presidential candidates don’t make much, if any, difference to the outcome of Presidential elections, but here are some reasons why, from Trump’s perspective, Pence was the best bet: …

3. He’s a Midwesterner. Further to my previous point, Trump’s only realistic, or semi-realistic, chance of getting to two hundred and seventy electoral votes is to storm through the Midwest and the Rust Belt, racking up huge majorities of white votes. To this end, his ideal choice would have been John Kasich, the popular governor of Ohio, but Kasich didn’t want the job. Nor did Rob Portman, the Ohio senator who served in the Bush Administration, or Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin. And no one in Michigan or Pennsylvania was particularly suitable, either. That left Pence, who runs the most staunchly Republican state in the region. Although his ardent social conservatism may turn off some people in the suburbs of Detroit and Cincinnati, he can claim to be a Midwesterner through and through.

This is the third of seven reasons it made sense for Drumpf to pick Pence as his VP running mate.  Now it is up to voters to permanently retire these two Republican misfits who have absolutely no concern for the average American.

UltraViolet —

Gov. Mike Pence: 5 things you should know

Pence has been a big mistake for Indiana, and will be an even bigger mistake for the nation.

My Universe —

cat and rubiks cubeAfter the mental stimulation of Rubik's Cube . . .

cat traps workingafter the physical stimulation of escaping cat traps . . .

5733a.giftime for a satisfying Lona nap!!!

 
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Jul 162016
 
furies

I have a few news items today which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

I doubt if anyone can have forgotten quite so quickly, but Alton Sterling was killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, LA, on July 6, 2016.  On July 8, roughly 500 people came to downtown Baton Rouge to peacefully protest this killing.  They met at a Methodist church near the corner of France and East, where they were met by about 100 officers dressed in riot gear.  (Parenthetically, there is a meme going around to the effect that if you want to know who is rioting, maybe you should look at the ones who came dressed for it.) 

In order to protect the protesters from being arrested just for being in the street, a homeowner invited them to come into her yard to continue the protest, which seems to have consisted primarily of chants of "No justice, no peace!"   After 90 minutes, the officers charged the crowd.  This caused protestors to scatter.  Many ran down a side street.  Of those who did, perhaps 100 were arrested for "obstruction of a highway."  (In other words, for "just being in the street.")

The homeowner told CBS News she was “stunned” by police behavior.

“I kept telling them: ‘This is my property, please do not do that, I live here,’” she said.  “They just looked at me and ignored the things I was saying.”

“I’m very upset,” she told CBS News. “I’m stunned at the behavior of police officers that utilized, from what I understand, the ability to take someone that I guess they targeted that was actually on the street, to bombard my yard and bombard my house.”

Throughout the confrontation, police threatened to arrest all journalists without credentials.  The Daily Beast and other media were forced into a 10-foot wide zone.  They threatened to arrest any who put a foot into the street.  The following day, at least three journalists were arrested, including a credentialed news director with WAFB.

I think the Daily Beast headline summarizes it pretty well:  "Baton Rouge Cops Throw Protestors Into Street, Arrest Them for Being There."  That's a good catch, that Catch-22.  I think this qualifies for your interest, Tisiphone.

Meanwhile – well, no not actually meanwhile; this happened last month, in Canada, at an Urban Planet store, where a young woman – aged 18 – was working.  For some reason, she ate some seasoned nuts, which turned out to include capsicum (pepper) in the seasoning mix.  She almost immediately went into anaphylactic shock.  Her supervisor refused to assist her, but a co-worket got her assistance.  She nearly died – anaphylactic shock does that to a person.

Now, if I were a retail store owner, or manager, an incident like this would lead me to read up on anaphylactic shock, in which case I would learn that an Epi-pen is the emergency treatment of choice, and that it's not ALL that difficult to keep one on the premises and train staff how to use it.  If I were foolish enough to consider my employees expendable, it would still occur to me that a customer might one day have this happen, and that it could lead to a huge lawsuit which could financially cripple me.  So I would take steps to acquire an Epi-pen.

That was not the reaction Danielle encountered.  Instead, she was fired.  BY TEXT MESSAGE.  The message read, "Hi it's (name withheld) I gave your shifts away this week and unfortunately I won't be scheduling you any longer.  We will mail your last paystub to you.  Take care, wish you all the best."  The co-worker who drove her to the clinic was also fired by – text message.

Now, we could talk all day and all night how Danielle should have read the ingredients (assuming she even saw the package), but the fact is, allergic people considerably more mature than she and who have had allergies longer than she's been alive have had similar things happen.  It's an easy mistake to make.  And besides, a person with allergies can go into anaphylactic shock at any time, including upon contact with a known allergen which has never before caused a severe reaction at all.  But let's say it's all her fault.  Still, NOBODY deserves to be fired by text message.  Am I out of line to call ths story a Grudge Report?  Megaera, Urban planet is a chain.  I think maybe the top management needs to be educated on this.

Moving right along, over to Georgia, where Jen Hayden asks the question, "How quickly can police ruin an innocent man's life?" and proceeds to show a video which goes from, "What's your name, man?" to "All right, tase him" in 38 SECONDS.

Summary of the video:

24-year-old Patrick Mumford was sitting in his own car in February, 2016 when he was confronted by three Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Officers, who were serving a warrant for another man, Michael Clay.

The lead officer confronts Patrick but does not believe Patrick when he truthfully identifies himself to the officer, twice. Patrick rightfully asks the officers what is the matter and to see the arrest warrant they say they are serving.warrant

Fearful and confused, Patrick retreats into the passenger seat of his car. Within 38 seconds of his initial introduction to the officers, the lead officer is ordering Patrick to be tased for non-compliance.

It takes a violent use of force for officers to realize what we already know: they have the wrong guy.

Rather than apologize, the officers rationalize and justify their actions to horrified neighbors and even Patrick's parents. These rationalizations include the repeated false statement that the officers asked Patrick for his ID.

Patrick is arrested for obstruction. As a non-violent drug offender serving in a first-offender probation program, a pending probation violation could cost him his job, his college education, and seven years in prison: all for sitting in his own car, minding his own business, and telling the truth.

Now you may be wanting to point out that Mr. Mumford is already on probation, so he is not perhaps technically innocent.  However, if you do, I will respond by reminding you that what he is on probation for is a non-violent drug offense, which is exactly the type of offense for which the "War on Drugs" was designed to get black people off the streets by locking them up.  You have just had the word "offense" drummed into your head for so long you have completely forgotten it was a "crime" made up out of whole cloth.  I hope his probation officer will support him.  Truthfully, some will and some won't.

In any case I hope we can agree he doesn't look any more like Michael Clay than Leonardo diCaprio looks like Johnny Depp.  And, Alecto. this has just been going on too long, foever and ever, world without end.  And it needs to stop.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/3999054

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Jul 122016
 

The past few days have been busy with my brother and SIL, and their friends, in town for a few days before boarding a cruise ship for Alaska.  We had a chance to spend Friday afternoon with my mother and then go out for a great dinner.  Even my 3 furbabes got in on the action eating prime rib leftovers which they very much enjoyed!  Although the weather was supposed to be rainy, we lucked out with clear skies at all the right times.  I certainly was tired and sore from a lot of walking, but it wasn't as bad as I had feared.  I wanted to take them to the Britannia Mine Museum but an auto accident on the highway brought that activity to a screaming halt, and the plan B was Stanley Park.  I have several meetings, a haircut and a teaching session with Lucia during the rest of the week.

Short Takes

Alternet — Blame abounds in the wake of the brutal slaying of five police officers in downtown Dallas. But while most people place the responsibility for this tragedy squarely in the hands of the man who shot the police officers (who were by all accounts monitoring and protecting protestors), some on the right believe other people are to blame.

Here's a roundup of some of those (besides the gunman himself) who are being blamed for the Dallas shooting.

2. President Barack Obama

As expected, the annals of Twitter were immediately inundated with charges that “Barack is smiling his smug little smile.” Unfortunately, the notion that President Obama bears any responsibility for the Dallas shooting was hardly limited to the fringes of the internet.

“3 Dallas Cops killed, 7 wounded,” former Illinois GOP congressman-slash-ostentatious-right-wing-radio-host Joe Walsh wrote on Twitter. “This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black loves matter punks. Real America is coming after you.”

Walsh has since deleted the tweet, but he continued posting video of the chaos in Dallas throughout the night. 

“10 Cops shot. You did this Obama. You did this liberals. You did this #BLM. Time to defend our Cops. Wake up,” Walsh posted.

He later added that Obama “stoked the flame” and “defends Islam.” Eric Trump, son of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, reportedly retweeted a post by Walsh accusing Black Lives Matter of calling for the death of police officers.

Walsh later clarified he “wasn’t calling for violence, against Obama or anyone.”

William Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, also blamed Obama, taking issue with the president’s completely accurate statement that “when people are armed with powerful weapons, unfortunately it makes it more deadly and more tragic, and in the days ahead we are going to have to consider those realities as well.”

"The Obama administration is the Neville Chamberlain of this war,” Johnson told Fox News. “I think their continued appeasement at the federal level with the Department of Justice, their appeasement of violent criminals, their refusal to condemn movements like Black Lives Matter, actively calling for the death of police officers, that type of thing, all the while blaming police for the problems in this country has led directly to the climate that has made Dallas possible.”

Other GOP groups took issue with a statement Obama gave Thursday addressing the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police. “To be concerned about these issues is not to be against law enforcement,” Obama said. ”When people say black lives matter, it doesn’t mean blue lives don’t matter.”

“Obama lectures nation on racial disparities hours before assassination of Dallas police officers,” the conservative group GOPUSA said in an email.

“It was bound to happen,” the email reads. “It was a Daily Beasttime bomb. Every time Barack Obama speaks on race, things get worse.”

For his part, Obama spoke out forcefully against the Dallas shootings Friday morning.

"I believe I speak for every single American when I say we are horrified over these events, and we stand united with the people and the police department in Dallas,” Obama said, calling the assault a "vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.”

"We will learn more, undoubtedly, about their twisted motivations, but let’s be clear: There is no possible justification for these types of attacks," Obama said. "Anyone involved in the senseless murders will be held fully accountable. Justice will be done.”

This is the second of 4 absurb right wing reactions to the killing of 5 Dallas police officers.  Click through for the other three.  As is usually the case, this is totally insaniTEA!

Daily Beast — Donald Trump is all about branding, and here’s a striking irony: while his political brand is built on Muslim-bashing, Hispanic-bashing, and, not least, China-bashing, his hotel brand appears to be thriving here in Asia.

Last October, well after Trump’s xenophobic and sinophobic presidential campaign got under way, Trump’s man in China, Eric Danziger, told Chinese state-run media that the Trump Hotel Collection is actively seeking expansion opportunities in Asian metropolises, including Chinese cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen.  …

A former Chinese public servant who acquired a green card through the EB-5 program told The Daily Beast that he never expected a profitable return on his $500,000 investment. This is common, as many projects funded via EB-5 become inactive or are poorly managed. For Trump, who has had four businesses file for bankruptcy, the program is perfect. 

 

 

In fact, during the application process, details of the investor’s previous employment were never called into question—how did a low-level official accumulate half a million dollars to burn, with plenty to spare? The former public servant never had to provide an answer.

 

 

Congressional overseers and the Department of Homeland Security have pointed out the vetting process for EB-5 is lacking, and could be a portal for dirty money and those who possess it to enter America.

So, let’s be clear: Trump-branded procriminal enterprisejects have ignored concerns raised by government overseers and might be actively creating channels for money laundering.

Is this the kind of POTUS that Americans want . . . one that indulges in criminal enterprise for his own profit?  So if elected president, what will come first . . . the country or his profit?  I still really like Huffington Post's disclosure on Trump articles:

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.

Dear Huff Post, I think you need to add some more descriptors for Drumpf like 'criminal' and 'narcissist'.

Think Progress — G.T., who escaped from Eritrea due to political and economic turmoil, works as a steward at a Washington, D.C.-area Hilton hotel. He cleans and washes dishes among other tasks, makes $14.85 an hour, and saves up a portion of his paycheck because he aspires to go to college one day. His life is far different from when he left Eritrea to escape a lifetime of forced military conscription.

Now, G.T. earns a steady paycheck and has become a success story of a controversial refugee resettlement process in the United States that some politicians want to restrict on fears that terrorists could come into the country through this manner.  …

Last year, U.S. politicians began tearing into the refugee resettlement process, claiming that terrorists could potentially come into the country disguised as refugees because the country lacks a rigorous refugee application process. As testimony to their fears, as many as 31 state governors rejected refugee resettlement in their states after the terrorist attacks in Paris, France. Roughly 800,000 people have been resettled in the country since 9/11, but not one refugee has been arrested on terrorism charges.

In spite of these vicious claims against refugees, G.T.’s successful integration into U.S. society stands out as an example of the reciprocal, beneficial relationship that refugees and local communities can have on one another. Some local politicians see refugee resettlement as a way to revitalize their cities and to harness talent and skills for entry-level jobs that many native-born Americans may not necessarily want to do.

So what is the Republican line . . . shiftless, lazy, uneducated, thieves, and terrorists?  All refugees are not alike but the vast majority are honest, hard working people who want nothing more than safety and the opportunity to properly provide for their families.  Properly supported, refugees will add to the community making it a more vibrant place to be.

My Universe — OK, equal time for all the dawg lovers out there!

 

 

 

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Jul 092016
 

Please pardon my brevity.  I’m just all the way tired out.  I heard from Julie yesterday.  She hit the road here in Portland on late Tuesday morning and drove all the way across the country to WV in just three days.  I can only surmise that she must have let Killer Dawg drive.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:19 (average 4:22).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Raw Story: Michael Strickland, the right-wing agitator and Trump supporter seen in this video brandishing a gun at a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally, has been charged with two class A felonies after being arrested and initially released Friday morning on his own recognizance without bail.

At his arraignment today at the Multnomah County Courthouse in downtown Portland Strickland was hit with two felony counts of “unlawful use of a weapon,” as well as misdemeanor charges of menacing and disorderly conduct.

The hearing took place on the same block where Strickland pulled a Glock 27, swept the gun at the crowd while yelling “Get the hell back!” He subsequently outfitted the gun with a large capacity magazine.

At the scene, Strickland said he was only armed in self-defense. But the Multnomah County District Attorney revealed in court that Strickland had six magazines of ammunition on him… [emphasis added]

 

Sadly, there are even Republicans like this Trump Humper here in Portland. I think that releasing him OR was a very stupid move by authorities. Kudos to the peaceful protestors who kept the situation from escalating, while waiting for police to intervene.

From Politico: Sen. Bernie Sanders has claimed victory in the fight for $15.

The Democrats’ platform committee late Friday approved an amendment that formalizes the party’s commitment to a $15 minimum wage, with indexing for inflation.

The language of the position reads: “We should raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over time and index it, give all Americans the ability to join a union regardless of where they work, and create new ways for workers to have power in the economy so every worker can earn at least $15 an hour.”

Thank you Bernie for helping to change the Democratic Party the ONLY way it can be changed: one issue at a time from within.

From Alternet: The mainstream media in the U.S. and abroad badly botched the reporting of the Dallas police shooting that killed five officers Thursday, egged on by speculation by police sources that a team of snipers was bent on avenging the killing of two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana by white cops the day before.

Even after the Dallas Morning News changed its headline Friday afternoon to read, “Dallas sniper was loner, Army vet with stash of arms, bomb parts at home,” the article’s second paragraph said, “Four Dallas police officers and a DART officer were shot and killed in a coordinated sniper attack that followed a Thursday night protest."

The incorrect sniper meme was repeated internationally, such as this headline from the British Mirror, “Dallas police shooting: ‘Black Power group’ claims responsibility for police killings and warns of more assassinations to come.”

Yesterday, I repeated the false report that there were a team of snipers working together. I was wrong not to assume that Dallas Police Chief Brown was playing fast and loose with the facts, as I should have expected from a Republican appointee. Apologies!! When I’m wrong, I say so.

Cartoon:

0709Cartoon

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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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