Monday, June 19, 2017

Why Travel to Places Americans Are Hated? Heed the "Warmbier Warning"

The sad, inexplicable case of young comatose Warmbier, newly
returned to his Ohio home, underscores a timely warning--do not
travel to sworn enemy countries, via tour group or solo.
Especially do not visit Iran or North Korea, places that hold
hatreds indeed implacable for us...proven by treatment of our
errant young people foolish enough to cross those borders.

The Young Pioneers were not knowledgeable enough to travel
to North Korea, a destination requiring a great deal of  finesse
and sophistication the YP were utterly incapable of, not fully
cautious and respectful; witness the harsh handling of Mr.
Warmbier for pulling down a propaganda poster, a serious
crime in the DPRK--who knew? These "pioneers" showed
hubris and ignorance, and the now dead boy is the result.

For those requiring adventure, there are ~200 nations on
Earth to select from--so be wise, choose to visit those nations
which welcome us; much can be learned from such intelligent
choices. Americans visiting Iran or North Korea will learn
or accomplish very little, authorities there will make certain
of that.

We had the "Iran Warning" case some months back. We
now have the "Warmbier Warning"--let's heed it.

The Doldrums of June When our World's Out of Tune

"The time is out of joint", Shakespeare (he without peer) wrote
in his immortal play, Hamlet, Act One. Odd, how little has
changed in 400 years; the times are more "disjoint" than ever
before. With all America's pressing problems, precious little
effort is being expended in resolving them. All the efforts
appear to be in claims and counter claims, accusations and
denials.

Meanwhile, Flint, MI still hasn't fixed its water supply,
although the water there is "said" to be cleaner. Policemen
accused of murdering suspects without cause have been
released all across the country, although Chicago is hanging
on to Laquan McDonald's killer, a sullen suspect best removed
from the Chicago Police force and jailed for life. Internationally,
North Korea mounts ever more alarming missile tests while our
big boats patrol ominously nearby, tensions mounting, a ripe
scenario for some horrible mistake...

The only positive note is Mr. Trump's noising about
repairing and improving the nations's infrastructure, which
indeed desperately must be upgraded to avoid accidents
like the fatal Minneapolis bridge collapse a few years back.
If he and Congress are really serious here, they do deserve
praise; let's encourage them!

Right now, however,  our foreign relationships are in tatters,
Medicare and Medicaid are threatened, education funds to
be stripped of 18 billions, on and on. Where are the adults
presumably in charge?

Yes, the times they are disjoint and out of tune. Surely
shouldn't  we have matured in the 400 years since
Shakespeare made his trenchant human commentaries?

Would were it so.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Agent Orange, The Celebrity Apprentice in the White House, and His Scorched Earth European Visit

The Donald, AKA Agent Orange, has given legitimacy to this
terrific nickname, evinced by his behavior in Europe and
elsewhere during his first presidential overseas outing, tussling
with NATO, Merkel and others during that leg of his trip.
Here are some of the more egregious high (or low) lights,
well worth repeating:

(1) Harping on the NATO nations who haven't ponied up
sufficient kale for combined military operations, admonishing
them during international press conferences. Yes, some should
contribute more, but this was not the time, place or manner
in which to address the thorny issue. He has even threatened
to withhold  defense of those nations not paying their fair
share...a precedent breaker if there ever was one.

(2) Withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Accords on Climate
Change, when the entire world has joined them, save Nicaragua
and Syria--Nicaragua abstained because the terms were not
stringent enough, not because it wishes to ignore Global
Warming. --Great! We have now officially scraped the
bottom of the international barrel, aligning ourselves
with SYRIA, for Pete's sake. How low can we go??

(3) Leaking  Israel in a backhanded denial which only
served to confirm that ally as the source of the sensitive
info Trump discussed with Russian Foreign Minister
Lavrov in a recent meeting...all while standing next to
Israel's Netanyahu.

Obviously, President Agent Orange won no new
(or old) friends for the USA on his first foray away
from home. Scorched earth diplomacy has historically
proven disastrous for any power pursuing it, a lesson
the Donald better grasp quickly.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

My Devoted Friend Has Left Me: Gary the Cat

Gary died on May 20th at the ripe old age of 21, about
100 in human years. I wish that realization helped, hasn't
yet. He had a distinct personality, played hide and seek
with me; we raced up and down the stairs at one place
where we lived; he twitched his ear five times after I'd
give him five kisses.

I'll always feel guilty about the times I was impatient
with him, yet he seemed to forgive me, joining me at
night in my bed. He tried to communicate with me, but
as I speak very little "Cat", I didn't always understand.
Did he understand when I would tell him I loved him?
Hoping so keeps me going; this place seems so empty
now. There will never be another like him; I will miss
him and love him 'til I die...

Goodbye, my best friend. May your spirit be content
and at peace, wherever you are over the Rainbow
Bridge.

Illinois State Senator Daniel Biss Only Qualified Current Candidate for Governor

Ixnay, away with Kennedy, Pritzker, and Rauner, the
Three Moneyed Musketeers, not what our state needs
to navigate us all out of the deep morass of ineptitude, of
ego, of  greed. Why aren't these men satisfied with the
wealth and position they already possess? Messrs. K
and P have never served in elective office, so that does
disqualify them in my eyes. Gov. "Rich" Rauner isn't up to
snuff, hasn't ameliorated our entrenched problems.

The alderman from Chicago, Ameya Pawar, boasts
scant legislative experience, so he also seems too big
for his britches. I prefer someone who has a record
in Springfield to scrutinize and reflect on. There is only
one extant candidate who qualifies: Il Sen. Dan Biss.

Senator Biss, out of Evanston, is a reasonable, bipartisan-
oriented legislator. He encourages those with opposing
views to first find a few areas of agreement so as to meet
in the middle, eventually approaching consensus, passing
laws benefiting the whole state. Biss has served in the
state capital for five years; before 2012, he was a math
professor at the University of Chicago. So: smart,
experienced, effortful, balanced, not beholden to the rich
--what's not to like and support? The other four really
should stay in the lanes they now occupy (except for
Rauner, of course!).

Let's hear it for Dan the man, our next governor!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Westinghouse Will Not Continue With Nuclear Projects--Great News!

The best news I've heard all week involves Toshiba-owned
Westinghouse, which has declared bankruptcy after years of
error and criminal accounting asset overstating woes. The firm
looks to be backing out of the southern U.S. nuclear projects
in Georgia and South Carolina, both of which are mired in
huge cost overruns and completion delays.

The new nukes, however, aren't exactly dead yet, as Southern
Co. and Scana Corporation are in embattled negotiations with
Westinghouse over the uncompleted nuclear reactors. Suggested
solutions range anywhere from converting the nuclear technology
to gas,  to abandoning  the projects entirely. Westinghouse
wanted out of their agreements with Southern and Scana via their
bankruptcy filing; some decisions are expected early in June.

This world needs more nuclear reactors about as much as we
need more wars; anything that delays or ends more nuclear
construction should be hailed as very good news for the
planet, excepting those interests profiting from said technology.

Sadly, small contractors and employees may well be hurt in
the ongoing kerfuffle, but they are defending themselves
through legal means...

Here's hoping THEY get good news!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Re: Comey: Obama, Trump and a Missed Opportunity

Timing is important, never more so when controversial
decisions are taken at the national level. Trump once
again appears tone deaf, with respect to his firing of FBI
Director James Comey at the height of investigations into
allegations of  the Trump Campaign's colluding with the
Russians. The Don's timing seems suspicious indeed.

President Obama missed an opportunity in October 2016,
when Director Comey publicly shared his decision to reopen
the Clinton personal email case. I would have fired Mr.
Comey right there and then, because of his public,
ill-timed announcement, against all previous protocols
at the FBI. Comey himself had implied he realized his
reopening the Clinton investigation might affect the
election; but subsequently, no charges were filed.

Both presidents, by not acting and acting too tardily,
missed an opportunity and showed poor judgement...

As Mr. Trump recently remarked, the job of U.S.
president isn't as easy as it looks.