Does the ‘U.S.’ question the worth of the U.N. because Donald Trump says something stupid? Donald Trump is not my spokesperson. What Trump says does not equate with what America thinks.

Pope Francis spoke to children dressed as Magi during a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Sunday.
Pope Francis spoke to children dressed as Magi during a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Sunday. Tiziana Fabitiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

Antonio Guterres took the reins of the United Nations on New Year’s Day, making it clear that his top priority will be preventing crises and promoting peace, Edith M. Lederer of The Associated Press reports.

“As Guterres begins his five-year term facing conflicts from Syria and Yemen to South Sudan and Libya and global crises from terrorism to climate change, U.S. support for the United Nations remains a question mark.”

This is something that enrages me more than anything else. When The AP equates what Donald Trump says with what America thinks!!! No, the U.S. does NOT think the U.N. is a place where people get together and talk. Continue reading “Does the ‘U.S.’ question the worth of the U.N. because Donald Trump says something stupid? Donald Trump is not my spokesperson. What Trump says does not equate with what America thinks.”

Here’s an option for American refugees fleeing a Trump presidency | WaPo

[Looks beautiful to me and is not at all out of the question]

A website put up by a Canadian radio host from the maritime province of Nova Scotia invites Americans worried about life under a President Donald Trump to relocate north.

The tongue-in-cheek stunt, put together by local DJ Rob Calabrese, opens with the following guidance urging Americans to move to Cape Breton Island, in the northeast of the province:

Hi Americans! Donald Trump may become the President of your country! If that happens, and you decide to get the hell out of there, might I suggest moving to Cape Breton Island!

Don’t wait until Donald Trump is elected president to find somewhere else to live! Start now, that way, on election day, you just hop on a bus to start your new life in Cape Breton, where women can get abortions, Muslim people can roam freely, and the only “walls” are holding up the roofs of our extremely affordable houses.

Source: Here’s an option for American refugees fleeing a Trump presidency – The Washington Post

Who is on President Obama’s Shortlist to Replace Antonin Scalia? | Democracy Now!

Nearly 30 years ago, Antonin Scalia was approved by the Senate in a unanimous vote. Analysts are projecting a much tougher road for the next nominee. We look at four potential nominees: California Attorney General Kamala Harris, D.C. Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan, Ninth Circuit Judge Paul Watford and Eighth Circuit Judge Jane Kelly.

Source: Who is on President Obama’s Shortlist to Replace Antonin Scalia? | Democracy Now!

A 94-year-old former Nazi guard stands accused of helping to murder 170,000 people — still hope that more war criminals will be brought to justice

ed:This shows there is still hope that many more war criminals, from Africa, Latin America, China, the U.S., will one day be brought to justice and, perhaps people in this world will change their ways and not order others to go out and kill people.

Trials of former Nazi concentration camp guards in Germany have become rare in recent decades: As more and more of the perpetrators have died, prosecutors find it increasingly hard to charge those responsible for the horrendous crimes.

The current trial of 94-year-old Reinhold Hanning, a former SS guard at Auschwitz, may be one of the last of its kind. Hanning is accused of participating in mass shootings and selecting inmates for the executions. The trial started Thursday.

Source: A 94-year-old former Nazi guard stands accused of helping to murder 170,000 people – The Washington Post

Tesla to unveil its $35,000 ‘Model 3’ on March 31 | engadget

Tesla has long promised a $35,000 electric car is on the way, and in today’s earnings release (PDF) it announced that we’ll get to see the Model 3 on March 31st, ahead of it going on sale in “late 2017.” That’s in addition to the currently shipping Model S sedan (shown above) and Model X SUV, and the company recently confirmed it still expects to hit that $35k price target before applying electric vehicle incentives. Also, its battery building gigafactory — key to achieving that mass market price for the Model 3 — is up and running in Nevada, with Powerwall units produced there already in use by customers.

Source: Tesla will unveil its $35,000 Model 3 on March 31st

Bits from today’s Washington Post feed

Donald Trump mocked at German Carnival: “Make fascism great again”

This (remarkable — of course it’s remarkable, you have it in your news feed) chart shows how U.S. defense spending dwarfs the rest of the world

This Indian soldier survived five miraculous days trapped beneath a 25-foot avalanche

Chinese mall becomes ‘prison’ for bears, belugas, wolves

And, from Harper’s Weekly Review, Phoenix City Council members voted to ban prayer at meetings rather than allow a representative of the Satanic Temple to perform the opening invocation. “It leaves a bad taste,” said a lawyer for the Temple, “in the Satanist’s mouth.” 

New York: Radiation Spikes 65,000% at Indian Point Nuclear Plant After Leak | Democracy Now!

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced “alarming levels” of radiation after water contaminated with radioactive tritium leaked from the Indian Point nuclear power plant. At one monitoring well, the radiation had spiked 65,000 percent.

The plant’s owner, Entergy Corporation, has said the groundwater contamination at the plant does not pose a threat to the public.

[editor’s note] REALLY?!? NO THREAT TO THE PUBLIC. I THINK WE SHOULD GET THE OWNERS OF ENTERGY DOWN THERE TO THE PLANT TO DRINK SOME OF THE WATER AND HANG OUT, MAYBE HAVE A SLEEPOVER FOR A WEEK OR SO AND SEE HOW MANY OF THEM ARE DIAGNOSED AND DIE OF CANCER BEFORE THEY DIE OF NATURAL CAUSES.

Environmentalists have long called for the closure of Indian Point, citing aging infrastructure and a history of operational issues.

BUT LET’S NOT LISTEN TO THEM BECAUSE THEY’RE ENVIRONMENTALISTS! THEY PROBABLY HAVE NO PROOF, SCIENTIFIC OR OTHERWISE, THAT RADIOACTIVE CONTAMINATION IS BAD FOR HUMAN HEALTH OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT.

Source: New York: Radiation Spikes 65,000% at Indian Point Nuclear Plant After Leak | Democracy Now!

I discovered Clowns Without Borders when I was looking online for evidence of laughter in South Sudan

I heard in a news story today on the radio, probably, NPR, that there are 15,000 people living in tents in South Sudan and 1,500 children have been abducted as child soldiers and many have died from starvation and disease. I couldn’t help but ask myself, is there any hope here? Is there any hope in the story of the 1-year-old boy whose name translates into “wholeness,” because, as his mother states, ‘while they’re fighting out there, we’re whole family in here.’

clowns-without-bordersThen I found this ::: Clowns Without Borders was founded in Barcelona in July 1993. The idea began when Tortell Poltrona, a professional clown in Spain, was invited to perform in a refugee camp in Croatia. This performance unexpectedly attracted audiences of more than 700 children, proving to Poltrona that there is a great need for clowns and entertainment in crisis situations.  He founded Clowns Without Borders to offer humor as a means of psychological support to communities that have suffered trauma. Read the UNHCR interview with Tortell Poltrona.

You might think that clowns are scary or silly, but check out Clowns Sans Frontiers’ Code of Ethics:

Code of Ethics

The objective of this code is to provide a series of written guidelines of ethics for all clowns and artists who collaborate with Clowns Without Borders.

  • The clown or collaborating artist will hold as fundamental objectives to better the situation of children who live in crisis situations of whatever type (conflict, natural disaster, social inequalities, etc.) in whatever part of the world.
  • The main beneficiaries of CWB projects are children living in situations of crisis and the clown or collaborating artist will make no distinction between them for reasons of race, age, religion, culture, social situation or any other categorization when offering his/her work.
  • For clowns and collaborating artists participating in CWB projects, volunteerism is the general rule.
  • In respect to the clown/artist’s public image, he/she will not use the participation in humanitarian activities as a means to promote their professional career, separating clearly at all times such activities and not using his humanitarian work for publicity purposes or to promote his/her professional career.
  • The clown or collaborating artist will not use their humanitarian activities to impart personal ‘points of view’ to the destination populations of the projects and will limit themselves to sharing their artistic activities. The artist will not attempt to “educate” the population, refraining from any “evangelical” activities.
  • The clown or collaborating artist, when choosing the contents of his/her performances and workshops, will consider the sensibilities of the destination population, taking into account their culture as well as the delicate situation in which they are living.
  • The clown or collaborating artist when working with CWB projects sees and shares difficult situations. Their work does not end when they return home. They should testify in the measure possible all situations of injustice that they have witnessed.
  • When participating in a project, during our performances and in our contact with the public, we remain clowns and artists, and this is the sole method with which we express and experience the validity of our actions.
  • We remain vigilant and attentive that the name, logo, and identity of Clowns Without Borders will not be will not be used as a vehicle for remuneration.
  • In the matter of seeking financial support, we remain attentive to the ethical values and the respect of human rights of our sponsors and partners.

Learn more about this amazing group here: About Us ⋆ Clowns Without Borders

Maya Angelou Stamp Quote Actually Came From Connecticut Children’s Book Author Joan Walsh Anglund

A picture of part of one of the new Maya Angelou stamp sheets that were issues Tuesday, April 7, 2015. (photo: cjzurcher)
A picture of part of one of the new Maya Angelou stamp sheets that were issues Tuesday, April 7, 2015. (photo: cjzurcher)

The news that the U.S. Postal Service was honoring Maya Angelou, poet, author and civil rights advocate, with her own forever stamp was welcomed by her fans. Angelou, who died last year, was a cultural icon and mother figure to a generation of writers.

Jabari Asim, associate professor of writing, literature and publishing at Emerson College in Boston, was excited. Until he read the quote on the Angelou stamp:

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

Funny thing, he had always thought the quote came from Joan Walsh Anglund, the prolific children’s book author from Connecticut.

via Maya Angelou Stamp Quote Actually Came From Connecticut Children’s Book Author – Hartford Courant.

Carbon monoxide ‘blamed’ after father and his 7 children die in their sleep | The Washington Post

Ed: First of all, can you really blame the carbon monoxide for deaths? 

Left to right, Tykira Todd, 12, Tybria Todd, 6, Tyania Todd, 9, Tybree Todd, 10 and in front, Zycheim Todd, 7 and two other older siblings and father, Rodney Todd were found dead from asphysiated in their home in Princess Anne, Md. (Photo courtesy Sarah Hardy)

Just six weeks before his death, he implored his friends to cherish the time they have: “life is never promise[d] no matter how you look at it.”

via Carbon monoxide blamed after father and his 7 children die in their sleep – The Washington Post.

Background on What to Expect at the North American Summit

by Laura Carlsen

BorderExplorer/Flickr
BorderExplorer/Flickr

The North America Leaders’ Summit will convene this year on February 19 in Toluca, Mexico. The summits happen when the three heads of state decide to meet and began in 2005 with the formation of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, an outgrowth of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Since then, the summits have been mainly a PR effort to reframe or promote the tri-national relationship, often marked by popular protests. There were no summits held in 2010, 2011 or 2013, while the 2012 Washington DC Summit declaration mentioned the predictable efforts at standardizing regulations and efficient borders, more exclusive intellectual property rules and energy integration, among other issues discussed. Continue reading “Background on What to Expect at the North American Summit”

Harper Lee sues agent over To Kill a Mockingbird copyright

Author of best-selling book alleges Samuel Pinkus took advantage of her failing hearing and eyesight to transfer rights

Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, has sued her literary agent for allegedly duping her into assigning him the copyright on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

In the lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan, Lee says Samuel Pinkus, the son-in-law of Lee’s long-time agent, Eugene Winick, took advantage of her failing hearing and eyesight to transfer the rights on the book, which has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and became an Oscar-winning film.

For more on this story, visit: Harper Lee sues agent over To Kill a Mockingbird copyright | Books | guardian.co.uk.

‘They stole our dreams’: blogger reveals cost of reporting Mexico’s drug wars | The Guardian

The revelation she was female would surprise many, said Lucy. “It’s a strong blow to Mexican machismo and the idea women are weaker, more delicate. There is an expectation for women to always look pretty. But we’re much more than that.”

She tried to relax, she said, with music, coffee and cigarettes. She missed having a normal life. “My only boyfriend is the blog. A whole phase of my life – boyfriends, going to parties, hanging out with friends – I’ve missed it. Getting married, having babies – there’s not been time to think of any of that.”

Lucy hoped the book, which focuses on 2010 and 2011, will stand as a historical record. In addition to stomach-turning photographs, it includes a glossary of terms such as encintado – the binding of a victim with duct tape – and encobijado – wrapping a murdered person in a blanket or sheet. It will initially be on sale only in the US but the publisher, Feral House, hopes Mexican booksellers will stock it.

Lucy said she had recently take a paying job but would continue the blog.

“My plans for the future? To live. That’s my hope for the short, medium and long term.”

For more on this story, visit: ‘They stole our dreams’: blogger reveals cost of reporting Mexico’s drug wars | World news | The Guardian.

America Under the Gun: Clear link found between high levels of gun violence and weak state gun laws | Center for American Progress

Despite this complex web of factors that influence the rate of gun violence, this report finds a clear link between high levels of gun violence and weak state gun laws. Across the key indicators of gun violence that we analyzed, the 10 states with the weakest gun laws collectively have an aggregate level of gun violence that is more than twice as high—104 percent higher, in fact—than the 10 states with the strongest gun laws.

  • Download the report:
    PDF
  • Read it in your browser:
    Scribd

The data analyzed in this report relate to the following 10 indicators of gun violence:

Overall firearm deaths in 2010

Overall firearm deaths from 2001 through 2010

Firearm homicides in 2010

Firearm suicides in 2010

Firearm homicides among women from 2001 through 2010

Firearm deaths among children ages 0 to 17, from 2001 through 2010

Law-enforcement agents feloniously killed with a firearm from 2002 through 2011

Aggravated assaults with a firearm in 2011

Crime-gun export rates in 2009

Percentage of crime guns with a short “time to crime” in 2009

For more on this story, visit: America Under the Gun | Center for American Progress.

University of Arizona App Warns Drivers of Dust Storm Danger

Springtime is near, and with it the start of dust storm season in the southwestern United States.
Arizona experiences some of the worst dust storms in the country during the spring and summer months, leading to poor visibility and potentially dangerous driving conditions on the state’s highways.
To help protect drivers from dust-related dangers on the road, the University of Arizona has created a mobile application for iPhones that provides dust storm alerts and safety tips.
Available for free download on iTunes, the app uses a person’s geographical location anywhere in the country to determine if there is danger of a dust storm, or any other type of storm, in the area. The warnings come directly from the WeatherBug service.
An Android version of the app is expected to be released later this month or next month.
In addition to storm alerts, the app provides a list of specific tips for what to do when a dust storm hits, such as:
  • Do not drive into or through a dust storm.
  • Do not stop in a travel lane or in the emergency lane.
  • Look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway.
  • Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers.

The app also offers a place to list emergency phone numbers or insurance policy numbers drivers may want to have readily available in a storm, as well as a list of things people should keep in their cars as part of a Dust Storm Survival Kit. Some of those items include water, snacks or energy bars, a basic first aid kit, flashlight, dust mask and a whistle or pocket siren to signal for help.

The Dust Storm app was the brainchild of Kirk Astroth, UA assistant dean of Cooperative Extension and director of the Arizona 4-H Youth Development program in the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Developed by University Information Technology Services’ web/mobile services team, with support from Student Affairs Marketing, it is among a group of mobile apps designed and developed by members of the University community as part of the UA’s Mobile Matters initiative. The forthcoming Android version of Dust Storm is being developed with additional support from the University’s SBS Technical Services group and UA computer science senior David Celaya.

Astroth said he got the idea for the app after seeing something similar in North Dakota that provided tips for staying safe in a blizzard.

“Dust storms are so common in Arizona, and so many people are killed on the road because they don’t know what to do,” Astroth said. “We wanted to help.”

According to a report by the Arizona Department of Transportation, 193 crashes in 2011 occurred in weather conditions that included blowing sand, soil or dirt, resulting in two deaths and 140 people injured.

Astroth hopes those numbers will go down with education, noting that many people simply don’t know the proper action to take in a dust storm, especially out-of-state visitors who might not be accustomed to those types of events.

One of the most common mistakes, he noted, is simply attempting to drive through the storm, even when blinded by a curtain of dirt.

While dust is a fact of life in the desert Southwest, Arizona’s ongoing drought makes for even stronger dust storm conditions, said Mike Crimmins, UA Cooperative Extension specialist and associate professor of soil, water and environmental science.

With little moisture or vegetation to hold dust in place, high winds can quickly lead to blowing dust, said Crimmins, who was not involved in the development of the Dust Storm app.

There are two dust storm seasons in Arizona, Crimmins said. During the spring season, which typically starts in March, large-scale weather systems with lots of wind can kick up enough dust to close major highways including I-10 and I-40. Those storms may last for the better part of a day, with 20-30 mph sustained winds and gusts up to 50 mph.

A second round of dust storms typically appears during the summer monsoon season, when thunderstorm conditions create shorter-lasting, but more intense, dust storms known as haboobs, which can see winds gusting up to 100 mph, Crimmins said.

Officials statewide are working to address the dangers of dust.

During a recent dust storm workshop in Casa Grande, Ariz., organized by the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Phoenix and Tucson offices of the National Weather Service, officials said they have gotten more aggressive about monitoring dust storms and shutting down the state’s highways when visibility is poor.

Astroth hopes the Dust Storm app can also be part of the solution. He encourages drivers to check the app before they get on the road so they can avoid dangerous weather conditions in the first place.

“This seemed like an easy and good thing to do,” he said. “It’s free, and it could save people’s lives.”

This years $1 million TED prize winner: Suguta Mitra. His wish: School in the Cloud.

“My wish is to help design the future of learning by supporting children all over the world to tap into their innate sense of wonder and work together. Help me build the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can embark on intellectual adventures by engaging and connecting with information and mentoring online. I also invite you, wherever you are, to create your own miniature child-driven learning environments and share your discoveries.”

For more on this story, visit: Sugata Mitra.

Writing the Ship | Daily Nutmeg

Earlier this month, Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney caught a big blunder in the new film biography of Abraham Lincoln. One scene shows states voting to ratify the amendment abolishing slavery, with Courtney’s 19th century Connecticut congressional counterparts heard voting against the 13th amendment when in fact all four of Connecticut’s congressmen at the time voted in favor of it.

The error seems especially odd to Connecticut audiences, since the director of Lincoln, Steven Spielberg, also directed the only major film made about the Amistad.

Writing the Ship | Daily Nutmeg.

The American People Need Real Spending Cuts

President Obama and other so-called progressives insist that the American people are not overly dependent on government. They also predict dire consequences if the automatic budget “cuts” known as sequestration take place March 1.

Both claims cannot be true. If modest across-the-board “cuts” — mainly cuts in the rate of growth — in military and domestic spending pose a threat to the American people and the U.S. economy, then the country is alarmingly dependent on government.

Federal spending has grown dramatically since the 1970s, with the biggest increases coming during Republican administrations. Spending today is hundreds of billions greater than in 2008 and much higher as a percentage of the economy. True, it is lower now than in 2009, but that year, a combination of George W. Bush and Obama “stimulus” spending, set a record.

The sequester consists of $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts in non-entitlement spending growth over ten years. To put that in perspective, Reason editor Nick Gillespie writes, “Remember that we’re talking about $1.2 trillion dollars taken out of a projected $44 trillion or so in spending. What kind of budget discipline is that?”

As that March 1 sequester approaches, the Obama administration warns of severe consequences for national security and economic security.

For more on this story, visit: The American People Need Real Spending Cuts The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Financing the Global Sharing Economy – STWR – Share The World’s Resources

A report by Share The World’s Resources demonstrates how governments could mobilize over $2.8 trillion each year to bolster the global sharing economy and prevent life-threatening deprivation, reverse austerity measures and mitigate the human impacts of climate change.

Humanity is facing a global emergency. Extreme poverty and climate-related disasters are taking the lives of over 40,000 people every single day and severely affecting many millions of others. At the same time, dramatic cutbacks in public spending on social welfare and essential services are making it increasingly difficult for many families to meet their basic needs, even in the richest nations.

For more on this story, visit: Financing the Global Sharing Economy – STWR – Share The World’s Resources.

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