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.

paragraph divider 2

What Makes A Nation Great — Part I

This started out to be a simple post, but by last night I was already at 1,868 words and realized that it would need to be broken into two, or possibly even three parts.  I hope you’ll bear with the ramblings of my mind, as I attempt to define what, in my view, makes a nation ‘great’, and where the U.S. stands in that assessment.


For more than five years now, we have been bombarded with Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, “make America great again”.  I have argued that the U.S. was never ‘great’.  It was once a decent country, certainly one whose citizens enjoyed more rights and freedoms than those of many other countries, but ‘great’ in my mind is something akin to perfect, and the United States has never been anywhere close to perfect.  Nor, for that matter, have most other countries.  A number of readers have argued that the U.S. aka ‘America’, is truly great, if a little bit rusty around the edges these days.  I think that ‘rust’ has eaten into the inner workings.

All of which begs the question: What does it mean to be ‘great’?  Merriam Webster provides 11 separate definitions for the word, but for our purposes, I think we can narrow the field to just a couple:

  • Notably large in size
  • Predominant
  • Markedly superior in character or quality

Well, I can’t argue with the first one.  With a land mass of 3.797 million square miles and more than 330 million people, it is ‘notably large in size’, in fact the 4th largest country on the planet, and the 3rd most populous.  But that doesn’t make us ‘great’ … only big.

Predominant — having superior strength, influence, or authority?  Granted, the U.S. has had notable influence in the western world until recently, but that word ‘superior’ bothers me.  We had that influence mainly because of our bloated military and our willingness to help our allies, to be a key player in the global community.  But that was a few years ago, and today we have shunned any responsibility to our global partners.  We are no longer trusted by any nation, and deservedly so.

And the third one is simply arrogant and disgusting.  Superior … no.  We have as many flaws as any nation on earth, more than some.  The U.S. may well have a superiority complex, but we are not superior.

So, what makes a nation great?  If you Google that question, you will be rewarded with 3.42 billion results in only 0.53 seconds!  Obviously I am not the first to ponder the question!  I read through a few of the top ten results, many cite a successful capitalistic economy, others the contentedness of the populace, but the one I found most nearly matched my own views was on a website called 20SomethingFinance  , written by one G.E. Miller.  He provides a list of criteria that I am almost completely in agreement with:

  1. a truly democratic vote – every vote is equal, and representation is fair and just. Voting is encouraged (not suppressed), accessible, quick, and easy – the higher the participation, the better.
  2. an election system where political contributions are publicly funded or capped at levels accessible to all incomes and corporate and private dark money influence is kept out.
  3. separation of powers – a system of checks and balances.
  4. an independent and free press.
  5. significant and continued investment in shared infrastructure.
  6. a fair and just legal, court, and prison system.
  7. equal access to data and information (ideally via strong local libraries and a speedy broadband connection).
  8. diversity in backgrounds and opinions.
  9. broad and equal guaranteed human and civil rights, liberties, and freedoms (speech, religion, voting, assembly, press, etc.).
  10. an investment in people through an affordable education and works skill that leads to opportunity for economic/financial success for all.
  11. kindness/care for its citizens and for the citizens of other countries.
  12. a desire to fill the role as a shining light of good for other countries.
  13. broad consumer rights and protections.
  14. harsh punishment for government and corporate corruption and corporate anti-trust.
  15. strict protections for the water that we drink, air that we breathe, and land that we walk on.
  16. an emphasis on data, science, truth, and transparency in the government decision-making process.
  17. strong employee rights that put an emphasis on health, safety, the right to form a union, equal opportunity, equal pay for equal work, and family/life balance.
  18. affordable health care for all as a right, not a privilege reserved for only the wealthy.
  19. economic justice and a muted level of economic inequality.

On paper, the U.S. meets most every one of these criteria, but the reality is something quite different altogether.  In fact, reading through the list for the third time, I can honestly say that the only bullet points we still come close to fulfilling are #4, #7, and #8.  We do still have a free press, though they are constantly intimidated and demeaned by our ‘leaders’ in government.  We do have broad access to information, both through libraries, bookstores, newspapers, and other media avenues.  And we for damn sure have diversity of backgrounds and opinions, though some count more than others.  Every other item on that list has been diminished in the past decade, especially the past three years.

So, let me tell you my vision of a ‘great’ country.  I view a great country rather like I view a great family, for what is a nation but a larger family?  In my vision, the perfect nation recognizes and acknowledges its role as part of the larger global community, understands it has a responsibility to help other struggling nations, and does not see every situation in terms of “what’s in it for me?”  In a truly great family unit, while individualism may be encouraged, the ‘greater good’ is paramount.  The ideal family is part of the greater community and helps neighbors when needed.  They are also part of the nation and pay taxes, use their voices to get things that help people done.  And ultimately, we are all part of the global community, like it or not.  In this, the 21st century, what you or I do affects people all around the globe. 


Stay tuned tomorrow for Part II …

The Week’s Best Cartoons 7/11

I’m currently working on a two, possibly three-part series that isn’t quite ready for market yet, so meanwhile, I thought you might enjoy last week’s political cartoons. As always, TokyoSand has found some of the very best ones for us! Thank you, TS!

Political⚡Charge

ByBill Bramhall, New York Daily News

Every week, I enjoy searching for editorial cartoons responding to the news and sharing them with you on Saturdays. This week, there are some recurring themes plus some new ones.

Do let me know which ones resonate the most with you in the comments!

Trump Orders Schools to Re-Open

ByMike Thompson, Detroit Free Press

ByMatt Davies, Newsday

ByClay Jones

ByRob Rogers

Supreme Court Decisions

ByAdam Zyglis, The Buffalo News

ByKevin Siers, Charlotte Observ

COVID

ByRick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

ByBill Bramhall, New York Daily News

ByRick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

ByNick Anderson

ByKevin Necessary

ByMatt Davies, Newsday

ByAndy Marlette, Pensacola News Journal

Election 2020

ByMike Thompson, Detroit Free Press

ByBill Bramhall, New York Daily News

By

View original post 78 more words

♫ O-o-h Child ♫

Tonight’s song goes back 50 years … a half century … wow, how time flies!

The Five Stairsteps were formed in Chicago in 1965 and comprised of Burke family members Clarence Jr., James, Aloha, Kenneth and Dennis. They got their name when “Momma Stairsteps” (as Betty Burke was affectionately called) noticed that her kids looked like stair steps when stood next to each other according to age.

O-o-h Child charted at #8 in the U.S. and #3 in Canada, but it became the Stairsteps’ signature song and has inspired more than twenty covers since its release.  It has also been featured in television series, movies and advertisements, and was ranked #402 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Apologies for the poor video quality.

O-o-h Child
Five Stairsteps

Ooh child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh child
Things’ll get brighter

Ooh child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh child
Things’ll get brighter

Some day, yeah
We’ll put it together and we’ll get it undone
Some day
When your head is much lighter

Some day, yeah
We’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter

Ooh child
Things are gonna be easier
Ooh child
Things’ll be brighter

Ooh child
Things are gonna be easier
Ooh child
Things’ll be brighter

Some day, yeah
We’ll put it together and we’ll get it undone
Some day
When your head is much lighter

Some day, yeah
We’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter

Some day, some day, some day, some day yeah
We’ll put it together and we’ll get it undone
Some day
When your head is much lighter

Some day, yeah
We’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter

Ooh child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh child
Things’ll get brighter

Ooh child
Things are gonna get easier
Ooh child
Things’ll get brighter

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Stan Vincent
O-o-h Child lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

A Jolly & Joyful Monday!

Good Monday morning, friends!  Come in out of the cold heat!  So, how was your weekend?  In most parts of the U.S., it’s been putrid hot with little rain, and in most parts of the UK it’s been rainy and chilly.  If only we could blend the two, then we’d all have perfect weather!  Well, it’s the start of a new week, so let’s get this show on the road and start the week with some fun things, shall we?  But first, Joyful is back in the kitchen today, whipping up a few treats, so grab a snack and the beverage of your choice! (Sorry, guys … only one plate of bacon … you’ll have to share this week!  Larry … I’m watching you!  You too, David!)

bacon               food-devilled eggs

food-cakes


Every now and then, I like to take a look at the ‘Amazing Fact Generator’ on the Mental Floss website, so let’s start with a few fun facts:

  • The annual number of worldwide shark bites is 10 times less than the number of people bitten by other people in New York. Seriously???  I’ve lived in New York and never once been bitten by either a shark or another person!
  • Ironically, the only member of ZZ Top without a beard has the last name Beard.
  • The 1967 Outer Space Treaty forbids any nation from trying to own the Moon. I’m biting my tongue here …
  • Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone in 1876, suggested answering calls with “ahoy.” A wanna-be pirate, perhaps?
  • The Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships are held in Finland. A recent winner said he prepared for the event by “mainly drinking.” Who knew?

See, now you’ve learned some new things!  Jolly Monday can be educational, as well as fun!


Define “emergency” please …

I’ve written before about people calling the emergency number (911 in the US, 999 in the UK) for things that … well, just weren’t real emergencies.  Here’s another one …

The West Yorkshire Police Contact Management Center said a call came in recently to the 999 emergency number to report their new appliance had been delivered to the wrong address!  Now what thinking person calls the police for this?  Why not call the store, or the delivery service?  And just what did they suppose the police could do?  I can picture it now … a bobby is putting the handcuffs on a man he just caught robbing a woman in a convenience store when the call comes through …

“Officer Holmes … do you read?  Drop everything and get to 11420 Sycamore Street … we have a missing freezer case!”

My favourite, though, was the one I wrote about back in April, of the  person, again in the UK, who called 999 to report her neighbor was snoring too loudly!


Now here’s a new one that I bet is a first! 

Wynn Hall, a farmer in Exeter, Nebraska, started the process of draining a pond on his property, which is used for pumping waters off his fields.  When he checked on it the following morning, he noticed a rather large object stuck in the mud.  He assumed it to be a some sort household appliance.

“I thought who would throw a refrigerator or a stove and put it in the pond, in fact, the deepest part of the pond in fact…why would that be down there? I took a picture and zoomed in on it and thought, ‘That looks like an ATM!'”

And indeed, it was.  The farmer said he doesn’t know how long the ATM was in his pond, since he didn’t drain it last year, but it didn’t appear to have been in the water for more than a few weeks. Hall contacted the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office, which sent a team to haul the ATM away. He said deputies told him an ATM had recently been stolen in the area.


Are you in the mood for some ‘toons?

toon-8toon-9toon-10toon-11toon-12toon-13toon-14toon-15toon-16toon-17


Now, I’ve got two animal videos for you today, ‘cause one is super-short, but this ticklish chicken is guaranteed to make you laugh!


And here are some of the most adorable polar bear cubs you’ll ever see!


Well, folks, I’ve really enjoyed spending time with you this morning, but sadly … my laundry awaits, as do your daily duties, so I leave you with one last thought … share those smiles, spread them around for others to enjoy.  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa ‘n Jolly ‘n Joyful!

jollyJollys girlfriend JoyfulMonday-basket-smiles

Fodder For Da Snarky

One good thing about not being able to go out these days is I have lots more time on weekends to peruse the news, stay on top of things, and feed my snarky side.  This weekend there is much fodder for that snarky side …


Well, no surprise that Trump commuted Roger Stone’s three-year sentence.  The only surprise was that he commuted the sentence rather than issuing a full pardon, but apparently that was at Stone’s request, so he can return to the courts and continue trying to plead his innocence.  Make no mistake, Roger Stone is not innocent … he is a criminal, has been engaged in criminal activities most of his adult life, and the only thing he’s innocent of is being a decent human being.  Roger Stone is guilty of breaking the law in order to help get Donald Trump elected.  He has the blood of this nation on his hands, and it is my belief that he will once again be complicit in working to alter the election of 2020. Roger-StoneStone was to have reported to prison on Tuesday, after being denied a delay.  He claimed he has health conditions that put him at risk for contracting the coronavirus and possibly dying.  At the risk of sounding like a cruel person, to this I say, “Oh well … one less festering sore on the body of humanity.”

Stone stands a seven-times convicted felon, a record that will remain with him for the rest of his life.  He should be spending the rest of his life in prison, but instead he will no doubt be back to his dirty tricks by next week.   In fact, he told NBC News he plans to celebrate his freedom by writing a book about his experience, possibly filing a complaint against federal prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, and helping “exonerate” his felonious friend, former national security adviser Michael Flynn.  Birds of a feather …


blm-bannerOn main street in the small town of Clifton, Virginia, there is a banner that reads, “Welcome to Clifton where Black Lives Matter”.  Most people are supportive of the sign, applaud its message.  But this woman took umbrage …

ginny-thomas

She said, in an email …

“BLM is a bit of a dangerous Trojan Horse and they are catching well-meaning people into dangerous posturing that can invite mob rule and property looting. Let’s not be tricked into joining cause with radical extremists seeking to foment a cultural revolution because they hate America.”

Do you recognize the woman?  Her name is Ginny Thomas, and she is the wife of Clarence Thomas, the only African-American on the U.S. Supreme Court.

ginny-clarenceOh, the irony!


It seems that our own “leader”, and I use the term very loosely, isn’t the only one who is clueless on how to address the coronavirus pandemic and keep the people in their countries safe.  Boris Johnson, aka BoJo, has come up with a novel idea for combatting the virus … put everyone on a diet!

According to The Guardian

Downing Street is planning what has been billed as a “war against obesity”.  As well as longer-term proposals to reduce the incidence of obesity, government officials are having urgent discussions about how to persuade people to lose weight in the next few months, before an anticipated resurgence in coronavirus cases in the autumn.

The UK has experienced the highest death rate from coronavirus in Europe, and one potential factor may be high rates of obesity and associated lifestyle-linked conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, which are strongly associated with worse Covid-19 outcomes.

There is logic to people getting into shape, becoming healthier and therefore better able to survive a case of the virus.  However, a few things should be noted.  First, weight loss doesn’t happen overnight, or even over a summer.  Second, exercise is every bit as integral to a healthy lifestyle as better eating habits.  And thirdly, this doesn’t do a thing to address stopping the spread of the virus, only perhaps its intensity.

Ah well, at least BoJo isn’t suggesting that citizens of the UK ingest bleach!


In a comment to my piece about the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, I noted that there was a video with a number of clips showing Trump’s personal financial involvement with the Saudi’s both before and during his presidency.  One reader asked me to share that video, which is well worth the 4 minutes it takes to view …

♫ After The Love Has Gone ♫

Tonight, after a few hours relaxing and playing a game with the girls, I was feeling fairly mellow and the first song that came to my mind was September, by Earth, Wind & Fire.  I saw that I had played it in August 2018, almost two years ago … time for a redux … but oops … I reduxed it already and just this past February, as a matter of fact.  Sigh … but wait!  I haven’t played this one yet!

Released in 1979, this hit #2 in the U.S. and #4 in the UK.  This was written by David Foster, Jay Graydon and Bill Champlin.  Says Graydon …

“David Foster produced an album for Jaye P. Morgan in 1976. It’s a great record. It’s available in Japan, and never did anything here, really. Then he was at Motown playing some songs with Jaye to try to get a deal over there.

He was in the middle of playing a song and he forgot the chorus, and he ad-libbed the chorus to ‘After The Love Has Gone.’ He comes over to my house, and we went into my little dinky studio. He sits down at the piano, and he says, ‘Listen to this chorus.’ He plays it, and I said, ‘Hey, here’s an idea for a verse.’ And I went, ‘da da dom, A major 7, da-D-minor-6, da da A major 7, bom ba da da da F-sharp minor.’ And he just immediately continued on with that, and we had the whole song written in about half an hour/45 minutes.

We called Champlin: ‘Bill, get over here, we need a lyric.’ David was producing Champlin at the time. David recorded it with Champlin, maybe three different versions. He got one that he really liked, though. But then David was also writing with Maurice White for Earth, Wind & Fire for the I Am album. He played the song for Maurice, and Maurice loved it. David called me and says, ‘Hey, man, Earth, Wind & Fire wants to record it, but I don’t want to tell Champlin that it’s gonna have to get pulled off his record. Will you do it?’ I said, ‘I sure will.’ (laughs) I called Bill and I said, ‘Bill, here’s the story.’ And he says, ‘I’m not an idiot, man.’ (laughing) I said, ‘I’m glad you say you’re not an idiot. Because they say this thing’s gonna be a single for sure. And this could be big.’ Needless to say, that song still generates good money. It’s unbelievable.”

The song won two Grammy Awards. Earth, Wind & Fire took the trophy for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance by a Group, an award they won four times in their career.  The track also won for Best Rhythm & Blues Song, which is bestowed on the writers. It was the first win for David Foster, who would go on to win a total of 16 Grammys. In 1993, he was named Billboard’s Top Singles Producer and Top R&B Producer, while receiving the largest number of Grammy nominations and winning Producer of the Year for Whitney Houston’s soundtrack to The Bodyguard. He also co-wrote the #1 single St. Elmo’s Fire with John Parr.

After the Love Has Gone
Earth, Wind & Fire

For a while, to love was all we could do
We were young and we knew, and our eyes were alive
Deep inside we knew our love was true
For a while we paid no mind to the past
We knew love would last
Every night somethin’ right
Would invite us to begin the dance
Somethin’ happened along the way
What used to be happy was sad
Somethin’ happened along the way
And yesterday was all we had

Oh, after the love has gone
How could you lead me one
And not let me stay around?
Oh, after the love has gone
What used to be right is wrong
Can love that’s lost be found?
For a while to love each other
With all we would ever need
Love was strong for so long
Never knew that what was wrong
Baby, wasn’t right
We tried to find what we had
Til sadness was all we shared
We were scared this affair
Would lead our love into
Somethin’ happened along the way
Yesterday was all we had
Somethin’ happened along the way
What used to be happy is sad
Somethin’ happened along the way
What used to be was all we had

Oh, after the love has gone
How could you lead me on
And not let me stay around?
Oh, oh, after the love has gone
What used to be right is wrong
Can love that’s lost be found?

Oh, oh, after the love has gone
What used to be right is wrong
Can love that’s lost be found
Oh, oh, after the love has gone

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: David Foster / Jay Graydon / William B. Champlin
After the Love Has Gone lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG Rights Management

A Man Of Honour & Integrity Speaks

I have wondered lately about Robert Mueller.  I understood why he was keeping a low profile … to an extent.  His work was done, he did it well, and while I wish he had done more, I also realize that he was prohibited from doing so by the abominable U.S. District Attorney, William Barr.  However, I was surprised that with all Trump’s recent blathering about the Mueller investigation having been a ‘witch hunt’, after the Department of Justice dropping the charges against Michael Flynn, and now Trump commuting Roger Stone’s sentence, Robert Mueller remained silent.  Trump and his henchmen have used every trick in their books to attempt to override the indictments the Mueller team made, and to attempt to convince the public that the Mueller investigation was a sham, naught but an attempt to bring Trump down.  I thought surely it must eat at Mueller, surely he must be itching to speak out, to defend his work, if not his own integrity.  Well, the Roger Stone episode was, apparently, the straw that broke the camel’s back, and Robert Mueller has spoken.  His words are far more important and more intelligent than any you’ll hear from Stone, Flynn, Barr, or Trump.  Mr. Mueller has something that none of them has:  honour and integrity.


Robert Mueller: Roger Stone Remains a Convicted Felon, and Rightly So

By Robert S. Mueller III

JULY 11, 2020

Robert-Mueller

The work of the special counsel’s office — its report, indictments, guilty pleas and convictions — should speak for itself. But I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office. The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.

Russia’s actions were a threat to America’s democracy. It was critical that they be investigated and understood. By late 2016, the FBI had evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to the Democratic candidate. And the FBI knew that the Russians had done just that: Beginning in July 2016, WikiLeaks released emails stolen by Russian military intelligence officers from the Clinton campaign. Other online personas using false names — fronts for Russian military intelligence — also released Clinton campaign emails.

Following FBI Director James B. Comey’s termination in May 2017, the acting attorney general named me as special counsel and directed the special counsel’s office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The order specified lines of investigation for us to pursue, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. One of our cases involved Stone, an official on the campaign until mid-2015 and a supporter of the campaign throughout 2016. Stone became a central figure in our investigation for two key reasons: He communicated in 2016 with individuals known to us to be Russian intelligence officers, and he claimed advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ release of emails stolen by those Russian intelligence officers.

We now have a detailed picture of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The special counsel’s office identified two principal operations directed at our election: hacking and dumping Clinton campaign emails, and an online social media campaign to disparage the Democratic candidate. We also identified numerous links between the Russian government and Trump campaign personnel — Stone among them. We did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its activities. The investigation did, however, establish that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome. It also established that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.

Uncovering and tracing Russian outreach and interference activities was a complex task. The investigation to understand these activities took two years and substantial effort. Based on our work, eight individuals pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial, and more than two dozen Russian individuals and entities, including senior Russian intelligence officers, were charged with federal crimes.

Congress also investigated and sought information from Stone. A jury later determined he lied repeatedly to members of Congress. He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases. He in fact updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about WikiLeaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him to stonewall Congress.

The jury ultimately convicted Stone of obstruction of a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness. Because his sentence has been commuted, he will not go to prison. But his conviction stands.

Russian efforts to interfere in our political system, and the essential question of whether those efforts involved the Trump campaign, required investigation. In that investigation, it was critical for us (and, before us, the FBI) to obtain full and accurate information. Likewise, it was critical for Congress to obtain accurate information from its witnesses. When a subject lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s efforts to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable. It may ultimately impede those efforts.

We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law. The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.

On Complicity …

I receive a weekly newsletter titled “Opinionated” … a weekly summation of opinions by writers both well-known and obscure.  One of the leading contributors to the newsletter is Bill Press, a long-time political commentator and author of several books.  Last week’s column was along the lines of one I’ve been considering for several weeks: the complicity of the republicans in the U.S. Senate in the  atrocities our nation is facing today.  While I might disagree with Mr. Press’ opening sentence, for I no longer see this nation as anywhere near ‘great’, I fully agree with the rest of his commentary …


Fifty-three Republican cowards: Hold them responsible

bill-pressGreat country that we are, there are still shameful moments in our history. Among them: 1857, the Dred Scott case, when the Supreme Court upheld the institution of slavery; 1942, FDR’s Executive Order, which forced the relocation and incarceration of Japanese-Americans; 1950-54, the failure of President Eisenhower and other leading Republicans to repudiate the ugly red-baiting by Sen. Joseph McCarthy. And the list goes on.

As bad as they are, however, we’ve experienced perhaps the most shameful moment of all: February 2020, when 53 cowardly Republican senators refused to hold Donald Trump responsible and toss him out of the White House. In so doing, they not only ignored overwhelming evidence – all of which has subsequently been confirmed – that Trump tried to bribe the president of Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 presidential election and, on multiple occasions, abused the powers of his office to obstruct justice, they also degraded the image of the United States by ratifying Trump’s criminal, ugly, racist, boorish behavior as acceptable conduct for the highest officer of the land.

Fifty-one Republican senators voted not to call any witnesses in the Senate trial. Fifty-two Republicans, all except Mitt Romney, voted to acquit him of abuse of power. Fifty-three, including Romney, voted to acquit him of obstruction of Congress. In the end, all 53 Republican senators put their party above country. And we’ve been paying the price ever since. Just consider the disasters we’ve suffered over the last six months.

For his incompetent handling of the coronavirus pandemic, his disastrous and premature attempts to force reopening of the economy, his insensitive response to the Black Lives Matter movement, and his shocking failure to act on reports that Russia was paying bounties to members of the Taliban for killing American soldiers – Yes, blame Donald Trump. But blame especially those 53 Republican senators who voted to keep him in office.

On the coronavirus. After first denying or minimizing the risk and refusing to set an example by wearing a mask, Trump suddenly declared the virus over, stopped talking about it, and urged states to reopen bars and restaurants. The result: more COVID-19 cases in more states than ever before, with 200,000 projected to die of the disease by October 1. Blame Trump, yes. But also blame the enablers who kept him in office.

After the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, when millions of Americans across the country took to the streets to protest repeated examples of systemic racism in police departments, Trump called protesters terrorists, ordered the use of tear gas and armed troops to clear streets around the White House for a photo op, and denounced Black Lives Matter as a “symbol of hate.” Blame Trump, yes. But also blame the enablers who kept him in office.

And, in the most unbelievable display of lack of presidential leadership, when intelligence agencies warned the White House that Russia was offering bounties to Taliban militants to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, Donald Trump – who’s never discovered anything yet about Vladimir Putin he doesn’t admire – did absolutely nothing. Repeat: Russia reportedly pays members of the Taliban to kill American soldiers and Donald Trump orders no investigation, takes no action, and instead, calls it a “hoax.” Again, blame Trump. But also blame the enablers who kept him in office.

Trump’s response to each of these crises proves that he’s unfit to be president of the United States. But remember: Trump wouldn’t still be there, these disasters might not have happened, or might not have been so severe, America could have been spared – if only those 53 senators had done the right thing.

Unfortunately, we can’t boot all 53 Republican senators out of office at the same time. But 20 Republican senators are up for re-election this year (see cookpolitical.com for full list) and must be held responsible. No matter what other good things they may have done in the Senate, for their vote to acquit Donald Trump, for that one vote alone, every one of them – every one of them – should lose their seat. And no one deserves to lose more than Susan Collins.

“I believe that the president has learned from this case,” she told CBS News in trying to justify her vote. What nonsense. As we’ve seen over the last six months, the only lesson Donald Trump learned from not being convicted in the Senate is that as long as there are cowardly Republican senators like Susan Collins, he can say and do anything with impunity. But, hopefully, not after November 3.

♫ I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song ♫

Jim Croce is one of my favourite musical artists, but for some reason when I’m wracking my brain for a song to post here late at night, he rarely comes to mind.  Tonight, however, he did pop into my mind.

Jim Croce was just starting to become successful when he died at the age of 30. Jim, the pilot, and other members of his group, were killed when the plane crashed into a pecan tree at the end of the runway in Natchitoches, Louisiana in 1973.  This song, as well as another of my favourites, Photographs and Memories, were released after his death.

Croce’s wife Ingrid has an autobiographical cookbook, Thyme In A Bottle, in which she writes interesting anecdotes about Jim. Here’s what she wrote about the backstory for this song:

“One weekend, after being on the road for many months, Jim got a chance to come home to relax with his family. We settled in to enjoy our time alone together. Though Jim was expecting company the next day, avoiding confrontation he never told me that we were to be joined by an entire film crew! The next morning, 15 people from Acorn Productions descended upon our house to record a promotional film of Jim Croce at Home on the Farm. I prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner for the whole film crew and after the group left, I questioned Jim about our finances. After a year and a half of his working so very hard on the road, we were barely making ends meet, but Jim wouldn’t talk about it. He hated questions as much as he hated confrontation, especially about money. He stormed out of our bedroom and went down to the kitchen table to brood. The next morning he woke me gently by singing his new song. ‘Every time I tried to tell you the words just came out wrong. So I’ll have to say I love you, in a song.'”

Several artists have covered this song, but none come even close to the originator, Jim Croce.

I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song
Jim Croce

Well, I know it’s kind of late
I hope I didn’t wake you
But what I’ve got to say can’t wait
I know you’d understand
‘Cause every time I tried to tell you
The words just came out wrong
So I’ll have to say “I love you” in a song

Yeah, I know it’s kind of strange
Every time I’m near you
I just run out of things to say
I know you’d understand
‘Cause every time I tried to tell you
The words just came out wrong
So I’ll have to say “I love you” in a song

‘Cause every time the time was right
All the words just came out wrong
So I’ll have to say “I love you” (I love you) in a song

Yeah, I know it’s kind of late (it’s kind of late)
I hope I didn’t wake you
But there’s something that I just got to say
(I know you’d understand)
I know you’d understand
‘Cause every time I tried to tell you
The words just came out wrong
So I’ll have to say “I love you” in a song

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: James Croce
I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song lyrics © BMG Rights Management

Saturday Surprise — Short, Fun Critter Tales

I almost skipped Saturday Surprise this week, for I had another political post ready to go for this morning and really couldn’t seem to get in the mood for anything light-hearted and fun.  And then, something crossed my radar that led to something else, and before long I realized there was something not quite right with my face … the corners of my mouth were turned up instead of down … I was actually smiling!  And thus came the idea for Saturday Surprise that had eluded me earlier in the evening.  So, get ready to smile at these very short, but fun critter tales …


Big cats are kitties too

ArwenJill Hicks was driving home from work when she saw what she thought was a cat run towards the road. Worried that it was alone, she scooped up the little “kitten” and took her home.  After making “Arwen” a cozy bed, she posted a picture on Facebook, asking if anyone would adopt the “bobtail kitten.” It didn’t take long before her neighbor helped her realize that it wasn’t just a kitten with a bobtail, it was actually a bobcat. “Thank the lord for her because I sure was about to put that baby in the sink and give it a bath and put it in bed with me!” Hicks joked on Facebook. Hicks took the soon-to-be-much-bigger kitty to a wildlife rescue who cared for her until she could be released into the wild.


And speaking of big cats …

mr-bMeet Mr. B.  Mr. B. is a big cat, but not a bobcat, leopard, panther, tiger or other wild cat, he’s just a big cat.  My best guess, knowing a bit about felines, is that he is a Maine Coon cat.

“OMG, big boi Mr. B is a CHONK. He’s a chonk of a chonk. He redefines the term. Can you guess how much he weighs? More importantly, can you give him a home?”

When the Morris Animal Refuge posted the above message, alongside a picture of said Mr. B., they were unprepared for how viral the big boy would go. So many people were touched by the massive cat and wanted more information about adopting him that he crashed the shelter’s website. “Mr. B. apologizes for crashing our website. We have our team working to get it back up as we speak. Unfortunately, they’re all cats, so it may take a little while,” they wrote. Happily, he’s since found his forever home.


A deer who is a real dear

It almost sounds like the opening to a fairytale: A lonely old woman who lives in a secluded cabin in the woods is visited every day by a magnificent stag who rewards her for her unselfish deeds. But this is 100 percent real life!deer-1Mette Kvam, 81, of Norway, had recently suffered the loss of her husband and was trying to adjust to living alone when one day she noticed a deer at her window. She fed him a piece of bread and immediately a friendship was born. “Flippen” now comes to visit her daily. She makes sure to always keep his favorite bread on hand and he keeps her company. She says he has saved her from loneliness and she loves nothing more than to feed and visit with him.


And speaking of animal buddies …

Buzz-1Tough, tattooed, and burly, Mark Cardenaz is probably the last person you’d describe as “Dr. Doolittle” but that’s exactly how friends describe the ex SWAT officer. So, no one was surprised when he took in an injured hummingbird he found on his back porch, nursing “Buzz” back to health with Pedialyte and sugar for six weeks. But that’s not where the story ends. After he released Buzz back into the wild he thought he’d never see his little buddy again but every year the bird flies from South America back to Cardenaz’s home in Georgia and lands in his hand. This year, Cardenaz worried something had happened when Buzz didn’t show up at his usual time but several weeks later, there he was, flitting around his head and begging for pets.


Seeing-eye cat?

After Terfel, an eight-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever in North Wales, U.K., developed cataracts in 2012, he began to bump into walls and furniture. Soon enough, the once-energetic dog was spending most of his time in his dog bed, unable to find his way around.

TerfelOn a whim, Terfel’s owner Judy Godfrey-Brown let a stray cat, whom she named Pwditat (pronounced Puddy-tat), into her home. The feline made a beeline for the blind dog and began using its paws and head to herd Terfel into the garden. Now the unlikely friends sleep together, and Pwditat helps Terfel find his way everywhere.


An inseparable bond

toldoA sprig of acacia, paper towels, and a plastic cup are just a few of the gifts that Toldo, a devoted gray-and-white cat, has placed on his former owner Iozzelli Renzo’s grave in Montagnana, Italy, every day since the man died. Renzo adopted Toldo from a shelter when the cat was three months old, and the two formed an inseparable bond. After Renzo passed away, Toldo followed the coffin to the cemetery, and now “stands guard” at the grave for hours at a time, says Renzo’s family.


Now to wrap up with a cute animal video about a baby squirrel who adopted a human family …


I hope that at least one of these stories, all of which, except the video, came from Readers Digest, by the way, has brought a smile to your face this morning.  And now, as I bid you adieu, I wish you a fun and happy weekend!