Greta Thunberg — Simply Amazing

I have written before about the young Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, and in fact she was one of my ‘good people’ one Wednesday last December.  Sometimes an activist will start like gangbusters, and then after a few months you hear nothing more about them, but not so Ms. Thunberg.  I see her name in the news at least once a week, and she has been inspirational to many young climate-conscious groups around the world.

Today, she is back in the news, and in a big way! A couple of big ways, actually.

Greta-Thunberg

Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg and The 1975’s Matty Healy pose for a photo. (Photo: Jordan Hughes)

The first is that she is featured on the first track of the forthcoming album of British pop-rock band The 1975.  In the track, Greta delivers a speech about the global climate emergency, against an instrumental background by the band.  Now, I have never heard of The 1975, but I give them two thumbs up for this effort, as well as the fact that all proceeds from the track will be going to the climate action group Extinction Rebellion.

The full text of Greta’s speech on the track is at the end of this post.

In an interview with The Guardian, Greta said …

“I’m grateful to get the opportunity to get my message out to a broad new audience in a new way. I think it’s great that The 1975 is so strongly engaged in the climate crisis. We quickly need to get people in all branches of society to get involved. And this collaboration I think is something new.”


The second thing is that Greta has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize this year.  She was nominated by Freddy Andre Oevstegaard, a parliamentary representative in Norway …

“We have nominated Greta because the climate threat may be one of the most important causes of war and conflict.”

greta-2.pngThe Norwegian Nobel Committee will announce its latest laureates in October, and those selected will receive their prizes in December.  I do so want to see her win it!


And the third thing that has put Greta in the news this week is that she will be coming to the U.S. next month to attend a United Nations summit meeting on global warming in New York!  Now, you may remember from my previous post about Greta that she does not fly on airplanes because of the CO2 emissions, so you may be wondering how she plans to get here.

“Good news! I’ll be joining the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York. I’ve been offered a ride on the 60ft racing boat Malizia II.”

Malizia-2

Malizia II

Malizia II, is outfitted with solar panels and underwater turbines to generate electricity. That should make the entire trip possible without burning any fossil fuels.

Boris Herrmann, who will skipper the boat, said the voyage would not be the luxury cruise that a high-tech yacht might conjure in the popular imagination. The Malizia II is built for speed, not comfort. It has no kitchen, refrigeration system, air-conditioning or showers.

Think about this one for a minute, folks.  This young woman is so committed to saving our planet that she is willing to spend two weeks on a small boat, eating mostly freeze-dried and vacuum-packed meals, in order to do her part to save the environment.  Greta is sixteen years old … most kids her age are attached at the hip to their cell phones, ipods, laptops, and wouldn’t dream of missing a shower or a hot meal, let alone spend two weeks in a small boat on choppy seas!

Greta will be accompanied on the trip by a filmmaker; her father, Svante; and Pierre Casiraghi, the head of the Malizia II racing team who is also the grandson of Prince Rainier III of Monaco and the American actress Grace Kelly.

Greta is, with her parents’ approval, taking the year off from school to campaign against climate change, also plans to attend the annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talks in December in Santiago, Chile.

I was impressed by this young woman when I first wrote about her eight months ago, but today … the only word I have is “WOW!!!”  She puts us all to shame, and particularly those who would “deny” climate science in order to justify their own greed.


I would like to end with a quote that was sent to me tonight by a very special friend:

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” – Helen Keller

Ms. Thunberg is doing something that she can do … let’s all try to do just one thing more that we can do to help heal and protect our home, planet Earth.


Full text of Greta’s speech on The 1975 track:

We are right now in the beginning of a climate and ecological crisis.

And we need to call it what it is. An emergency.

We must acknowledge that we do not have the situation under control and that we don’t have all the solutions yet. Unless those solutions mean that we simply stop doing certain things.

We admit that we are losing this battle.

We have to acknowledge that the older generations have failed. All political movements in their present form have failed.

But homo sapiens have not yet failed.

Yes, we are failing, but there is still time to turn everything around. We can still fix this. We still have everything in our own hands.

But unless we recognise the overall failures of our current systems, we most probably don’t stand a chance.

We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people. And now is not the time for speaking politely or focusing on what we can or cannot say. Now is the time to speak clearly.

Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that homo sapiens have ever faced. The main solution, however, is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases.

And either we do that, or we don’t.

You say that nothing in life is black or white.

But that is a lie. A very dangerous lie.

Either we prevent a 1.5 degree of warming, or we don’t.

Either we avoid setting off that irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, or we don’t.

Either we choose to go on as a civilization or we don’t.

That is as black or white as it gets.

Because there are no grey areas when it comes to survival.

Now we all have a choice.

We can create transformational action that will safeguard the living conditions for future generations.

Or we can continue with our business as usual and fail.

That is up to you and me.

And yes, we need a system change rather than individual change. But you cannot have one without the other.

If you look through history, all the big changes in society have been started by people at the grassroots level. People like you and me.

So, I ask you to please wake up and make the changes required possible. To do your best is no longer good enough. We must all do the seemingly impossible.

Today, we use about 100 million barrels of oil every single day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground.

So, we can no longer save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed.

Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.

So, everyone out there, it is now time for civil disobedience. It is time to rebel.

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Saturday Something … er, Surprise — Birds ‘N Critters!

Good morning, friends, and happy weekend!!!  I bet you’re all tired from this past week … I know I am, and I don’t have a job to go to every day!  I realized last night that it’s been a while since I’ve done a Saturday Surprise that focuses exclusively on unique animals.  Those are always so much fun, and we learn something, too.  One of these days, though, I will likely run out of unique animals … perhaps then I’ll have to replay the old ones.  But for today, I was able to find some new ones for us to enjoy.

But before the unique animals … I found a cute feature over on Bored Panda of some birds being ornery that I thought you would get a kick out of …


I’ve seen woodpeckers damage a tree before, but never like this!woodpecker.jpgPoor tree!  That had to hurt.  Apparently this guy didn’t much care for being in a cage …bird-cage

Ever hear of an Australian Firehawk?  Apparently they are quite the firestarters.  Sometimes working alone, other times in groups, they spread wildfires intentionally via single-occasion or repeated transport of burning sticks in talons or beaks. After successfully spreading the fire, the “firehawks” are able to pick out fleeing prey or munch on the charred remains of those critters who didn’t make it out in time.Australian-firehawks

I don’t know the story behind this one, but those choppers don’t belong to that pigeon, and somebody is in a panic looking for their teeth right about now …pigeon-dentures

This next one brings to mind a funny story.  Years ago, when I worked for a mid-size publishing company, one year a family of geese settled in the grassy area next to our parking lot.  After their eggs hatched, they became very protective and would, at first, attack anybody who came near.  We all learned not to park our cars in that section of the lot.  As time went by, though, they got even more aggressive, and one day, our receptionist got a call from a visitor saying he was parked out front, but there was a goose that wouldn’t let him get out of his car!  Another time, one of the geese attacked a new maintenance man, and he resigned after only a few days on the job … said he didn’t take the job to fight off killer birds!  Eventually, the geese flew south for the winter and peace was restored.goose

Uh-oh …uh-oh

I think this bird might just have bitten off more than he can chew …bird-cat

Ouch!ouch

This hawk is about to learn a lesson about stealing beehives …hawk-beehive

Where to park your peacock …peacock

I sense a fight about to happen and feathers are gonna fly!cat-bird

He just wanted a little bite of the ice cream …gull-ice-cream


And now for just a few of those unique critters that we don’t see around every day.

This guy is a Pink Fairy Armadillo, also known as the Pichiciego, and is the smallest species of armadillo known.  This unique animal resides in the dry grasslands and sandy plains of central Argentina. This sandy environment works well for the pink fairy armadillo since they are excellent diggers. In fact, they have the ability to completely bury themselves in a matter of seconds if threatened.pink-fairy-armadillo


Meet the Dumbo Octopus, so named because of the two large fins on either side that look somewhat like elephant ears.  Dumbo octopuses live at extreme depths in oceans around the world—up to 13,000 feet below the surface—and are the deepest-living octopuses known. They feed on snails, worms, and other creatures they hoover up from the ocean floor.  Don’t you just love the way he’s sticking his little tongue out?dumbo-octopus


Isn’t this Sunda Colugo just adorable?  He’s closely related to flying lemurs, and are found in Southeast Asia and are endemic to Indochina and Sundaland, spending their entire lives in tropical rainforests.  Sunda flying lemurs have bold patches of color that look similar to lichen on a tree, which aid in camouflage. While Sunda flying lemurs cannot fly, a membrane of skin called a patagium allows them to glide.Sunda-Colugo-1

Sunda-Colugo-2


This is a Sally Lightfoot Crab, aka grapsus grapsus.  We don’t typically think of crabs as being beautiful, but Sally certainly is colourful!  The origin of the sally lightfoot crab’s name is still debated. Some people say that the sally lightfoot crab was named after a Caribbean dancer.  The sally lightfoot crab can run very fast, leap, jump, and seemingly fly to avoid predators.Sally-1Sally-2


This guy looks like something from a science-fiction movie, don’t you think?  He is a Marine Iguana, is found only in the Galapagos Islands and actually forages for food underwater which is unique for any kind of iguana. The Marine Iguana can actually dive in the water up to depths of 9m and can be found in practically all of the rocky shores of the islands. Various colours of the iguana exist – some are bright green and orange, while others have a beautiful red undertone.marine-iguana


And finally, because I thought the Pink Fairy Armadillo was so cute, I found this video about them, and other armadillos!

Now go have yourselves a great weekend!

‘Toons To Jump-Start The Weekend!

Whew … what a week, eh?  Take heart, my friends, for it’s Friday and hopefully we’ll have a two-day break from any major screw-ups by you-know-who.  I think he usually spends the weekends golfing and pigging out at one of his golf resorts … on  our dime, of course.  What better way to head into the weekend than with a few ‘toons, mostly at ol’ what’s-his-name’s expense?


Of course the biggest news item of the week was Trump’s idea that he could just pick up the phone, contact Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, and purchase Greenland.  Never mind that Congress had not authorized such a purchase, never mind that Greenland is an autonomous nation … he had a wild hair and acted, foolishly, on it.  Well, at least the cartoon artists had some fun with it.

COLORgreenland-2Nick Anderson cartoongreenland-4greenland-5Bruce Plante Cartoon: Trump and Greenlandgreenland-7


The saddest, most maddening news was that Trump has decided to strip the Endangered Species Act, placing profit ahead of life, ahead of the earth.  All living things are part of earth’s ecosystem and when we lose one species, it disturbs the balance.  Sadly, the only ‘balance’ that Trump and his cronies are concerned about is the one in their investment portfolio.  

animalsanimals-1animals-2animals-4animals-5

sad


Economists have been warning for a while now that there are signs of a pending slowdown … or worse.  Still, da man in da Oval lives in his own little world, listens to nobody, and says he trusts his ‘gut’ more than all the experts.  Sure is enough of his gut, isn’t there.  Anyway … for two weeks now, certain indicators of a potential recession have caused some market fluctuations.  Trump has an economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, who doesn’t even have a degree in economics … he, apparently, listens to Trump’s ‘gut’, too.  Trump has been bouncing off walls … first he’s going to cut payroll taxes, then he’s not.  He’s demanding that the Federal Reserve lower interest rates even more (really bad move, folks), and when Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicated that a huge cut was unlikely, Trump called him “the enemy”, said he didn’t know whether our real enemy was China or Powell.  And as if that weren’t enough, so far he has blamed both the democrats and the media for trying to crash his economy just to make him look bad.  As if he needed help with that … 

economyeconomy-2economy-3economy-4


As we all knew he would, he reversed course on backing any new gun legislation, such as expanded background checks or red flag laws … {yawn} … it was only a matter of time.  We the People are far less important that his buddies over at the NRA …

gunsguns-2


I particularly liked this one …

Trump-tweets


And lastly, I just couldn’t resist a poke at the ginormous ego that is part and parcel of Donald Trump.  He was giving a press conference, when suddenly he stopped, looked up at the sky, and declared, “I am the chosen one”.  Please, somebody, shut this man up!!!  First, I have to ask … the chosen WHAT???  And chosen by whom?  Vladimir Putin? 

chosen-onechosen-one-2


Have a great weekend, my friends!

♫ Blowin’ In The Wind ♫

This morning’s post was my reflection about the divisiveness in this nation, about how far apart those on the political right and left are, and whether there is any hope for a meeting in the middle, or whether we are bent on the destruction of the nation.  When you spend as much time as I do reading, observing, researching, and thinking about these things, you don’t just flip a switch and bring your head back to a happy place.  The darkness remains even long after the post has been scheduled and put to bed.  Tonight’s song is a reflection of what I see happening, what I think and feel.

This song was written by Bob Dylan who claims that he wrote it in about 10 minutes one afternoon. He put words to the melody of an old slave song called “No More Auction Block,” which he might have learned from Carter family records. In the evening, Dylan took the song to the nightclub Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village, where he was due to play a set. Before playing it, he announced, “This here ain’t no protest song or anything like that, ’cause I don’t write no protest songs.” During this first performance, Dylan couldn’t read some of his own handwriting and made up some of the lyrics as he went along.

The Dylan version of this song was never a hit – it was a cover by Peter, Paul & Mary that made #2 in the US in February 1963, introducing many people to the music of Bob Dylan, who was an obscure folk singer at the time.

“There ain’t too much I can say about this song except that the answer is blowing in the wind. It ain’t in no book or movie or TV show or discussion group. Man, it’s in the wind — and it’s blowing in the wind. Too many of these hip people are telling me where the answer is but oh I won’t believe that. I still say it’s in the wind and just like a restless piece of paper it’s got to come down some … But the only trouble is that no one picks up the answer when it comes down so not too many people get to see and know … and then it flies away. I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong. I’m only 21 years old and I know that there’s been too many … You people over 21, you’re older and smarter.”

One line, the one in bold typeface, says so much about our troubles today.

As I like both the Bob Dylan and the Peter, Paul and Mary versions, I present you with both for your listening pleasure.

Blowin’ in the Wind
Bob Dylan

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, ‘n’ how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Yes, ‘n’ how many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, ‘n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, ‘n’ how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Yes, ‘n’ how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Songwriters: Bob Dylan
Blowin’ in the Wind lyrics © Audiam, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

United We Stand … Divided We ???

Sean Spicer … remember him?  The first to claim that Trump’s less-than-stellar inauguration had drawn bigger crowds than Obama’s in 2009, he soon tired of being forced to tell so many lies on behalf of Trump that he resigned his position as White House Press Secretary and returned to private life.  So, what’s he doing now, you ask?  Why, he’s Dancing with the Stars, of course!DWTSThat’s right, folks, Sean is going to be paid between $125,000 and $295,000, depending on how long he remains on the show … as compared to the $180,000 per annum he earned as Trump’s mouthpiece.  Now, the show’s host, Tom Bergeron, is not at all pleased with Sean’s gig, and put out the following statement:Bergeron-statementNew York television critic James Poniewozik also sees it as a bad … really bad idea …

“To treat Spicer, and his reason for notoriety, as a harmless joke is to whitewash the harm of what he did, which was to say things so absurdly false that he invited his political side to join him in denying their own eyeballs, to encourage people to believe that facts don’t matter if they hurt your team.”

But Sean sees it differently.  He claims his appearance(s) on DWTS will “bring the country together” …

Sean Spicer Visits "Extra"

“My overall hope is that at the end of this season that Tom looks at this and says, bringing people together of very diverse backgrounds, whether it’s in politics or other areas, and allowing them to show America how we can engage in a really respectful and civil way, is actually a way to help bring the country together as opposed to bring it apart.”

Which brings me to my topic of the day: the divisiveness in this nation.

In any nation at any time, there will be conflicts, issues that divide the pro-business right and the pro-humanitarian left.  It has always been so, and that isn’t going to change, probably ever.  Most often, this is a healthy thing, leads to the best possible solution, a meeting of the minds.  But, today that divisiveness, which I have often enough referred to as ‘the great divide’, is at the highest level since the end of the Civil War in 1865.  Having a highly controversial political figure on an entertainment show is not going to change that.  And make no mistake, Sean Spicer is still lying for Donald Trump, as a senior advisor and spokesman for a pro-Trump super Political Action Committee (PAC) called America First.great-divideToday, there is no middle ground … the right has gone to the extreme right, and the left has moved further left than ever before.  There is no room for moderates, no tolerance for bipartisan lawmaking, and very little civil discourse taking place.  You’re either with us, or you’re ‘agin us’. Social media is a large part of the culprit here … sites like Facebook and Twitter could be venues for respectful, meaningful dialog, searching for answers to better understand ‘the other side’, but instead people have turned these sites into a venue for spewing hate and ugly reactions.

While I fully support the 1st Amendment right to free speech, there are times that unfettered freedom of speech does far more harm than good.  Conservatives and liberals, right and left, will never completely see eye-to-eye, will always be ideologically divided, but the state of affairs we see today cannot endure.

On June 16, 1858, President Abraham Lincoln gave an address after accepting the Illinois Republican Party’s nomination as that state’s US senator.  An excerpt from that speech is apt today …

“A house divided against itself, cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.”

The situation was different then, the ideology different, but in some ways not so different after all.  Then, as now, there were some who believed that people with darker skin had less value.  That, certainly, is one of our issues today, but others are more complex.  Today, we fight over whether there is more value in large corporations having nearly-unlimited profit margins, or in protecting our environment and rescuing all life on earth.  Today, we fight over whether it is the role of government to assist those who cannot, whether temporarily or permanently, meet their own financial needs, or whether those people should simply be left to die.

Today, we fight over whether health care is a right for everyone, or a privilege for only the few.  Today, we fight over whether or not every Tom, Dick and Harry should have access to guns that were meant for one purpose only:  to kill.  Today, we fight over whether LGBTQ people are to be afforded the same civil rights as the rest of society, or whether they should be looked down on and treated as ‘sub-human’.  And today, despite the mandate for a separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution, we fight over whether one specific religion has the right to impose their beliefs, their will, on all in this secular nation.

The above are only a few of the issues dividing this nation, but they are highly-charged, emotional issues, and they are leading us down a path that can only end in disaster.  Shortly after Lincoln’s speech, we ended up in a Civil War.  In that war, there was a line of demarcation – there can be none this time, for on any given street in this country, you will find people on both ends of the spectrum.  In the Civil War, the north wore blue and the south wore grey … in this war, everybody looks essentially the same.  The civil war divided families, brother fought brother.  This ‘war’ has already divided families, destroyed decades-long friendships, and led to bloodshed.

Sadly, the people who we have elected to govern this nation, are only widening the divide.  It is in their power to bring the two sides together, to ‘reach across the aisle’ and set an example for the people of this nation.  It is their responsibility and duty to do just that, but they have chosen to shirk those duties, to help widen the gap, to breed even more hatred and division across the nation.  Unless things at the top change drastically, this is not going to end well, my friends.  Sean Spicer is not an ambassador for good will, but rather is as much a part of the dividing wedge as any.  Watching him tap dance and likely end up on his arse is not the cure for what ails this nation.

I offer no solutions, for if I were that smart, I would be sitting in the Oval Office, or have an office on Capitol Hill.  I only know that we must do something soon, else the United States will be torn asunder, and likely end up in tatters.  All I ask is that you … think about it.

The Boiling Frog

Most of the blogs I read on a semi-regular basis are political or historical in nature, but there are a handful that I try to catch once a week or so for their humour or feel-good value. Recently, our friends Ellen and Benjamin introduced me to a new one, Nuggets of Gold. Nuggets is usually humorous and/or uplifting. The blogger, Joy of Roses, is a very lovable lady, and about once a week I pop in there for a smile or two and a hug. Yesterday, however, she took on a more serious tone, just for the day, and wrote this post which I think puts into words something that most of us feel at a gut level but have tried to avoid voicing, rather like the elephant in the room. So, allow me to introduce you to Joy of Roses, and please think about her words … I hope they are not prophetic, but they are certainly reflective of our situation today. Thank you, Joy of Roses, for this well-written and thoughtful post and for your permission to share it.

Nuggets of Gold

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When I was in school and first studied about Hitler I remember feeling sickened by what I learned. It was mind boggling to me how a Country could let someone so evil take over power and do all the horrible things that he did!

What I grew to realize was that he wasn’t outright evil all at once. It was a growing thing. He didn’t call for the extermination of the Jews right away. He started slowly taking their rights away, and then encouraging people not to buy from them and so on. He persuaded people to believe that he was doing the right thing for the Country, that he would make Germany great again. He was disgruntled about how Germany was.

There are articles that say that his stare could be mesmerizing and intimidating and he would use that when making speeches and making eye contact with others. It…

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The Twilight Zone Presidency

A day late to the party, I was reading Jeff’s post over at On the Fence Voters, and he was doing a wrap-up of yesterday’s news … you know, Trump referring to himself as the “chosen one”, picking a fight with Denmark, gloating over conspiracy-theorist Wayne Allen Root’s nauseating praise of Trump … and suddenly my jaw dropped. I try to stay on top of the news, but I had missed this one. There’s a new media outlet in town, folks, and this, as Jeff says, will leave you feeling like we truly are living in the Twilight Zone. Take a look at what he has found out about Epoch Times … but first, take a few aspirins and perhaps have an antacid handy, for you may feel ill by the time you get to the end. Thank you, Jeff, for this enlightenment …

On The Fence Voters

I was too young to remember the original television series The Twilight Zone, which ran on CBS from 1959-1964. But I do remember watching those same shows, which ran in syndication for several years in the late 60s and 70s. Yes, I’m dating myself here. So for those who have no recollection of the series, the host, Rod Serling, would appear at the beginning and introduce each show with a short monologue explaining what we were about to see.

The show was unique for its time and entered into strange and often highly imaginative themes that bordered on the bizarre and extreme. After the last few days of President Trump’s continued hijacking of all available oxygen in the media world, I found myself remembering the legendary series and thinking that we have indeed entered The Twilight Zone. Even a guy with the innovative imagination of Rod Serling would have had…

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Two Mini-Rants …

As best I can figure, the only thing Donald Trump did yesterday was stir the pot on Twitter.  He surely must have blisters on his thumbs by now.  Does he ever actually work?  He was on his very worst behaviour today.  Early on, I began comparing his presidency to a train headed at full-speed toward a big cliff.  Today, that cliff seems to be looming just over the horizon.  I don’t know how one ‘man’ can get so many things so wrong in the course of a 24-hour period! train-cliff


trump babyThe child got his tender little feelings hurt when he asked a dumb question and was put in his place by the adult in the room.  The baby is now pouting and hurling objects at the adult in the room.  Typical?  Sure, in a household with a two-year-old child, but not in the Oval Office.

When Trump floated the idea of buying Greenland, even his own staff was confused.  One doesn’t, after all, just get up one morning and decide to buy another, autonomous country.  But, he persisted, and eventually the word got out and was published by the Wall Street Journal.  And then, inevitably, Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen got wind of it, and replied to the press …

“Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic. I persistently hope that this is not something that is seriously meant. Thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over. Let’s leave it there. Jokes aside, we will of course love to have an even closer strategic relationship with the United States.”

Trump got a bee up his {ahem} and decided, based on PM Frederiksen’s response, to cancel a trip that was planned for September 2nd – 3rd, the invitation to visit having been issued by Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II.

PM Frederiksen was wise when she said, “Let’s leave it there”, however Trump is not used to being told “No” and handled the incident so poorly that it is likely to create ill-will between the two nations.

Headlines in Denmark read …

  • “The U.S. and Denmark’s relationship has never been this ice-cold. It will have wide-ranging consequences.”
  • “Trump sends Denmark and the U.S.’s relationship to the freezing point.”

Way to go, Donnie … you just drove a wedge between us and yet another ally. How many is that now?  I’ve lost track.


Wayne Allen Root … the name rings a bell … let me check my archives … AHA!  There it is … I knew he sounded familiar, and no big surprise that he was awarded Idiot of the Week in May, 2017.  You notice how the idiots keep popping back up?  A bit of background …

root-bookRoot is a conspiracy theorist and was on the hate bandwagon when Barack Obama was our President.  He claimed that Obama lied about attending Columbia University, then turned around and said that Obama did, in fact, attend, but that he did so as a foreign exchange student.  He claimed that Obama “cut his afro” in order to infiltrate the political class and become a “Manchurian candidate” meant to take down America from within.  He claimed to have diagnosed Obama as an “arrogant, egomaniacal sociopath” who is either “mentally ill” or committing treason and must be removed from office “before he kills us all” with Ebola-ridden terrorists.

Well, you can read the rest of the idiocy that won him the award, for today there is more!  Mr. Root hosts some ‘call-in’ show on Newsmax TV, and yesterday, his idiocy kicked into full gear, and he said the following on his show …

root-5“I happen to be Jewish by birth and 75% of all Jews vote Democrat, and they don’t like Trump. This is the greatest president for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world. Not just in America, Trump is the best president for Israel in the history of the world. And the Jewish people love him like he is the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God.

In America, American Jews don’t like him. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore. It makes no sense. But that’s okay. He keeps doing what he’s doing. He’s good for all of us. Good for Jews, good for blacks, good for gays.

He is good for everyone in America who wants a job.”

What. A. Fool.  Trump, predictably, ate it up and tweeted Root’s words on Twitter.  But that wasn’t even enough for Trump.  Noooooo … he had to go on and make the most inflammatory comment that has everyone, Jew and non-Jew (except, of course, his blind followers) up in arms.

“If you vote for a Democrat, you’re being disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel.”

Ladies and gentlemen … the United States of America has at the head of its government a madman.  He lacks every single qualification that is needed to lead the nation:  intelligence, common sense, compassion, humanitarianism, integrity, honesty, the ability to compromise when necessary, the ability to speak properly, the ability to remain calm under pressure, and the list goes on.

I hereby invite any republican to respectfully tell me what, exactly, they see of value in Donald Trump.  Please be specific … don’t say “he tells it like it is”, “he’s making America great again”, or “he’s one of us”.  Those don’t tell me a thing.  Give me specifics, positive things you believe he has done.  The door is open … feel free to walk through it …


And now, I shall go take a handful of aspirin 💊, pour a glass of sherry 🍷, and seek solace in a bit of music ♫ before going to bed.  Goodnight all.

It’s Not About Abortion – It’s About Life

Yesterday, Planned Parenthood announced that it would withdraw from the federal family planning program known as Title X.  The Title X Family Planning program was enacted in 1970 as Title X of the Public Health Service Act. Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. The Title X program is designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies, and information to all who want and need them. By law, priority is given to persons from low-income families.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), under Trump’s hand-picked Alex Azar, attached a new condition on receiving Title X funding – that the recipients, such as Planned Parenthood, can no longer make abortion referrals.  This, my friends, is nothing more than the federal government attempting to inflict the beliefs of the Christian evangelical community, a vocal minority of the population, on everyone in the nation.  It is an attempt to make religious beliefs into public policy.  It is a huge step away from being the secular nation that we started out to be, that we need to be.

But let’s be clear … while the intent may be to deprive a woman of the right to have an abortion, this is not about abortion.  This is not about whether a woman has a right to decide what is right for her, in some cases having an abortion.  This is about whether a woman has a right to live or not.  Planned Parenthood is not just about helping a woman get an abortion, and in fact that is a very small percentage of what they do.

planned-parenthood-servicesAs you can see, money spent on providing abortions is a mere 3% of their total, AND … NO FEDERAL MONIES are spent on abortion.  Now, look at some of the other things they do …

  • STD and HIV testing and treatment
  • Birth control
  • Screening for reproductive cancers (like breast, cervical, testicular, and prostate cancers)
  • Pap tests and well woman exams
  • Vaccines
  • PrEP and PEP (medicines to help prevent HIV)
  • Pregnancy services and prenatal care
  • Transgender health services, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Vasectomy and other sterilization services
  • Condoms

Planned Parenthood saves lives.  In many rural areas, they are the only provider of the above services that may save a woman’s life.  Or a man’s, for you may note they also do screening for testicular and prostate cancers.  They provide prenatal care … the anti-abortion group might do well to consider that they are robbing that fetus they care so much about of such things as the vitamins to ensure they are healthy, and regular screenings to detect any potential problems that might be avoided with timely treatment.

Evangelicals have been calling for the government to ‘de-fund’ Planned Parenthood for decades, but instead of de-funding it, the government set a criteria that they could no longer make abortion referrals.  Planned Parenthood said, in essence, “Okay, keep your money then … for there are times that a woman’s life and health depend on abortion.”

There’s a certain irony here, too, that a large portion of what Planned Parenthood does involves birth control and family planning education, both of which significantly lower the need for abortions, and yet those who claim to be “pro-life” are depriving women of those services as well.

I do not applaud Planned Parenthood’s decision, but I do support it … it was the right thing for them to do.  However, I do not support the government’s imposition of the criteria, I do not support the evangelicals who coerced the government into setting the criteria.  Those evangelicals call themselves “pro-life”, but they are not.  They are not considering the lives of the thousands of women who rely on Planned Parenthood for birth control, annual checkups, family planning services, and much more.

There will be backlash over this.  I do not know what the end result will be, but somehow, we must continue to fund Planned Parenthood.  They do not provide abortions with Title X funds, but only with private funding.  They provide a tremendous service to women, they save lives of both babies and mothers, and they are an integral part of women’s healthcare, especially among lower income women.

I came across a short video on Scottie’s Toybox that I think explains the issue quite well … please take a minute or two … well, actually 7 minutes, but it is well worth the time spent.

Are we going to be held hostage in other areas by the evangelicals?  Are we going to let them dictate, for example, that there must be mandatory religious classes in schools?  Are we going to let them tell us that it is okay for employers to discriminate against LGBT people?  The United States is, appropriately, a secular nation, not as some would believe, a Christian nation.  Twenty-five percent, fully one-fourth of this nation are non-Christians.  We are Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, atheists and agnostics.  We have a voice, too.  We pay taxes, too.  We contribute our skills and ideas as much as any.  And 50.52% of this nation are women.  We pay taxes and have a voice, too.

Abortion is not the root of all evil.  Often a woman has an abortion because she is unable to provide for her child.  The world is already over-populated and the last thing we need are more hungry mouths to feed.  Those same people who call for an end to all abortions, also fight against their tax dollars going to help feed and shelter those children once they are born.  Pro-life???  I don’t think so … just anti-women.  If you ever doubted that it’s still a man’s world, doubt no more.mans world

Good People Doing Good Things … Best Buddies and More

My first ‘good people’ of the day came to my attention thanks to my youngest reader, Benjamin, who emailed me with … “Namaste, Miss Jill! It’s me, Benjamin! We, Gem and me, found a good people for you! Gem read it to me and I told her, that’s a good people thingy for Miss Jill. Bye!”  Well, he was right, this is perfect for my “good people thingy” … thank you, Benjamin!  Don’t you just love it when a 5-year-old is already taking notice of the good people in this world?


Michell Girard is a hero, at least to one person, Chris Barrington.  Ms. Girard was Chris’ teacher many, many years ago, and she must have been an exceptional teacher, for when Chris was found wandering alone on a highway outside of Gatesville, Texas one day back in June, hers was the only name he could think of to give the Sheriff’s deputies.  You see, Chris is autistic and severely developmentally delayed, and functions at the level of a six-year-old child.

Chris had been living with his father, but his father was in the late stages of leukemia and was not able to get out of bed to care for Chris, so Chris struck out on his own.  When the deputies found him, he had been walking around for two days, and other than his father’s name, the only other one he could come up with was his teacher from way back when, Michell Girard.

When the Sheriff’s office contacted Ms. Girard, she asked …

“What happens if I don’t take him? Will he get in a group home?”

When told that no, he would be institutionalized, she responded …

“Not on my watch, he’s not!”

You’ve gotta love that lady!  And that is how Chris Barrington came to live with a woman he hadn’t seen in years.  Chris’ father died a short time later, on August 1st, and Ms. Girard has applied for permanent guardianship.

There are a lot of things in life that most of us take for granted but that Chris had never known … simple things like … a birthday party!  Says Ms. Girard …

“He’s never had a birthday present, a birthday party, he’s never had Christmas, Thanksgiving, nothing. So, this year is going to be full of firsts.”

But he had a party this year!birthday-cakeAnd that’s not all … he took his first boat ride!  Ms. Girard posted on Facebook to see if any of her friends knew of somebody with a boat who would be willing to take him for a ride … just around Lake Waco.  Enter Jimmy Bennett, owner of JMB Fishing …

“You know, there are so many things that kids want to do. They want to go to Disney. I have one that wants to go to Hawaii on a shark fishing trip. Chris is happy to come out on Lake Waco and ride around on a boat. That’s all he wants to do.”

Check out the video …

Ms. Girard definitely qualifies in my book as a ‘good people’ … and from the looks of it, Chris Barrington is embarking on a fun new chapter in his life!


As I was digging for more information about Michell Girard and Chris Barrington, I came across another story that led me to an organization …Lisa-RuthMeet best buddies Lisa Buchanan and Ruth Godding.  The two met 20 years ago, through an organization called Best Buddies International, a non-profit that is working to end “social, physical and economic isolation” among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

When they met, Lisa Buchanan was president of the Best Buddies chapter at Marymount University in Virginia.  Per Lisa …

“We hit it off right away. We started talking on the phone. We just did all the on-campus things through college, like Halloweenfest and Christmas parties. Then when I graduated I wasn’t technically in Best Buddies anymore, but I still kept in touch with Ruth.”

The two have spent many good times together.  Lisa is now a schoolteacher and the mother of 13-year-old twins, of whom Ruth says …

“They were very cute babies! I was very surprised they were twins. Wow! There were two babies! I wasn’t expecting that one.”

Godding-Buchanon.jpgBest Buddies International highlighted Ruth and Lisa’s story of enduring friendship this month. According to the organization’s founder, Anthony Shriver …

“Ruth and Lisa’s 20-year friendship is really what Best Buddies is all about. It’s truly a testament to the power of friendship and inclusion. Genuine one-to-one friendships like this change lives, and it’s why we’ve spent the last 30 years working to connect people who may not normally be friends and changing the way people think about individuals with special abilities — everyone should have a best buddy.”

Best Buddies’ Mission Statement:

Best Buddies International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

The IDD community that Best Buddies serves includes, but is not limited to, people with Down syndrome, autism, Fragile X, Williams syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and other undiagnosed disabilities.

Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Our programs empower the special abilities of people with IDD by helping them form meaningful friendships with their peers, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve public speaking, self-advocacy and communication skills, and feel valued by society.

our-visionAnd they have had a global impact …

Best-Buddies-2Best-Buddies-3Best-Buddies-4

Take a look at their website  … I think you’ll agree that this organization also qualifies as a ‘good people’ and deserves a two thumbs-up!


Once again, good people just dropped into my lap and I didn’t have to look far.  Underneath all the noise and detritus in the news these days, there are these people, real people, making a difference in the lives of others.  Kind of restores a bit of faith in the world, doesn’t it?

Too Little, Too Late, But Still …

There have been some positive signs that perhaps this nation as a whole is sick and tired of the white supremacists and their rhetoric, sick and tired of seeing white people with notions of superiority thinking they have more ‘natural rights’ than others.  It’s far too little, too late, but still … it’s a start.


And it only took five years …

In 2014, New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo choked an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, to death.  It was not the first, nor would it be the last case of a white cop killing an unarmed black man, but it was the case that brought the #BlackLivesMatter movement to the forefront of the public eye.  In almost every one of these cases, the police officers have gotten off scot-free, even kept their jobs.  On Monday, a New York City Commissioner James P. O’Neill made a decision that will, hopefully, set a new precedent, by firing Officer Pantaleo, and stripping him of his pension benefits.

Garner’s crime five years ago was that he was allegedly selling cigarettes outside a convenience store.  For this, he paid with his life.  It is my opinion that Officer Panteleo should have been tried and convicted.  The department had a rule against using the chokehold he used on Mr. Garner, and Garner said, “I can’t breathe”, but still Panteleo didn’t release his hold.  Blatant cruelty.  And yet, despite Mr. Garner’s death having been ruled a homicide, Panteleo was never charged.

As I said, this is a case of too little, too late.  Pateleo should be in prison, but instead he is in his lawyer’s office trying to force the NYPD to reinstate him, his benefits, and pay him back pay for time lost.  And, it took James O’Neill five years to decide to fire him.  When they say the “wheels of justice” turn slowly, they aren’t kidding!  Still, it is a small step in the right direction.


A slippery slope …

The 1st Amendment right to free speech is a slippery slope and has been the cause of much disagreement throughout time.  At what point does free speech cross the line and become punishable?  At what point should speech be silenced?  Some would answer “never”, but most reasonable people agree that there must be limits, but rarely agree to the terms of said ‘limits’.  In this age of social media, the question becomes even more relevant, for there are those who believe that hate speech is protected under the 1st Amendment, and spew their hate all over Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for all the world to see.

Last week, social media outlets Facebook and Instagram suspended the accounts of James Orien Allsup, and Twitter had already suspended his account in late 2017.  James Orien Allsup is a white supremacist who marched with the other white supremacists at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 and whose hate speech can still be seen on YouTube.  There will be some, no doubt, who will cry “Foul!” at the move by Facebook and Instagram, but frankly, I support the move.

I am a staunch advocate for freedom of speech and freedom of the press.  However, in my book there is a line.  When you publicly threaten or incite violence, then you have shirked the responsibility that accompanies those rights.  I say the same about media outlets such as Fox and Breitbart that engage in conspiracy theories that have already led to violence and loss of life.  I applaud Facebook and Instagram, and would urge YouTube to remove this man from their platform as well.


The New York Times is doing an excellent series titled The 1619 Project:

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

I will be including some of their works in future posts, but I urge you to check it out for yourselves.  Racism, white supremacy, white nationalism … whatever name you give it … is ugly, and in this country, it is increasing at what I consider to be an alarming rate.  We need to tackle this subject, to take off the window dressing and show it for what it is … arrogant hate.  A friend sent me a meme recently that I think should be made into a poster and mailed to every member of any of the 1,000+ hate groups around the country! racism-for-dummies.jpg