Use that filter before you speak

Blogger-friend Keith has written a most excellent post that needs to introduction from me. Thank you Keith … you hit the nail on the head with this one!


In my efforts not to curse, the above title is a euphemism for what I would prefer to say. My message is to those who have decided to bypass any filters and say the most inflammatory things.

Two public figures – Johnny Depp and Kathy Griffin – decided that they should make suggestions about the demise of the President. And, a Democrat official was appropriately fired for making a statement about how he was glad Representative Scaliae was shot because of his role in passing unfavorable legislation.

There is no call for these comments or actions. I fully understand the President has incited, promoted and condoned violence against others. He has failed to call out violence against minority groups, but has a quick comment for when a Muslim may be the perpetrator. This is not right, either.

So, let me be frank. One set of actions does not condone the…

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It’s Not The Rhetoric, It’s The Guns – Bill Press, 16 June 2017

I almost never do this, copy an article in its entirety, but this one stands out and I think deserves to be heard.  Bill Press is a political analyst/commentator, author, and talk show host.  He is among my favourites because, though liberal leaning, he is always fair and respectful.  The column you are about to read was actually deleted by Opinionated, a weekly op-ed aggregator to which I subscribe.  My curiosity was piqued when I saw that this column had been deleted last Sunday morning, so I went in search of the column to find out why it was the victim of censorship.  After reading the column, I am still not certain why, but I believe these words should be shared.  


Bill Press

It’s not the rhetoric, it’s the guns – Bill Press, 16 June 2017

No words can adequately describe the tragedy we experienced this week when a lone gunman opened fire on a group of congressmen doing nothing more than playing baseball — getting in one last practice in Alexandria, Virginia, before this year’s version of the last occasion left in Washington where members of both parties actually have a good time together: the annual Congressional Baseball Game.

Within minutes, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA.) was down and one staffer and one former staffer were wounded, as were two brave Capitol Police officers who rushed the shooter and returned fire. Without a doubt, had those two officers not been present, the ballfield would have turned into a slaughterhouse.

In the wake of the shooting, there were those who seized the moment to unite the country in the right mix of outrage and sorrow, led by Speaker Paul Ryan, who told House Members: “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.” One image of that day he’ll never forget, said Ryan: “And that is a photo I saw of our Democratic colleagues gathered in prayer this morning after hearing the news.”

Sadly, there were also dunderheads who seized the moment to divide the country by scoring political points, led by former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who called the shooting “part of a pattern” and told Fox News: “You’ve had an increasing intensity of hostility on the left.” While Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) rushed to blame Democrats: “I can only hope that the Democrats do tone down the rhetoric.”

Turning an attempted assassination into cheap partisan sniping is not only disgusting, it’s dead wrong. Just because the gunman happened to be a Bernie Sanders supporter who hated Republicans doesn’t mean he represents all Democrats, any more than a mass murderer who happens to be a Christian represents Jesus Christ.

Moreover, while it’s true there’s too much hate-filled language in today’s politics and everybody needs to tone down the rhetoric, the most inflammatory language is not coming from the left. It’s from the right. And nobody’s guiltier of it than Donald Trump, who has called James Comey a “nut job,” Barack Obama a “sick man,” Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman,” and journalists “the enemy of the American people.”

Or consider this tweet from Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) campaign, just one year ago, on June 23, 2016, quoting Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano: “Why do we have a Second Amendment? It’s not to shoot deer. It’s to shoot at the government when it becomes tyrannical.” One can only hope the good Senator had second thoughts about that kind of incendiary rhetoric when he himself was one of those shot at on the Alexandria ballfield.

More importantly, the whole discussion about political rhetoric misses the point. It doesn’t matter whether the gunman was a Democrat, Republican, independent, socialist, communist, or Green Party member. The point is: He had no business being able to buy, own, and tote around an assault rifle and an automatic pistol.

Where’s the outrage about gun violence? In 2016, according to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 384 mass shootings — defined as four or more killed or wounded by gunfire — in the United States. More than one a day! So far in 2017, there have been 154. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, between 2001 and 2013, 406,496 people died by firearms on U.S. soil. An average 31 Americans are murdered by guns every day.

What happened in Alexandria, in fact, wasn’t the only shooting on June 14. Three people were also gunned down at a UPS facility in San Francisco. Six people were killed and 37 wounded by gunfire on the streets of Chicago last weekend. And, as shocking as it was to see a U.S. congressman struck by gunfire, let’s not forget this: the life of every one of those victims in San Francisco and Chicago is worth every bit as much as the life of any Member of Congress.

What will it take for Congress to act? What will it take before Congress stops protecting the gun manufacturers and starts protecting the American people?

Even though they failed to act after Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Charleston, or Orlando, you might think they’d consider some common-sense gun safety measures after one of their own is struck.

Think again. Six years ago, Congress did nothing after Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot. They’ll do nothing this year after Congressman Steve Scalise was shot. The NRA still rules the U.S. Congress. Shame!

Mini-Mini-Mini Vacation Is Done … Filosofa Returns!

Well, friends, I have returned from my ‘mini-vacation’, which turned out to be even ‘mini-er’ than I planned.  You will get a kick out of this story …

I will always believe it was the red car.  When you rent a car, usually it’s grey or black, but this time they gave me a bloomin’ RED car.  Not just any red, but a red so bright that it hurt your eyes to look at it.  I do not care for red cars.  Now I am convinced that they are jinxed.

cruze-2I got a bit of a late start – 9:00 instead of 8:00 – but okay, I would still be there well before dark, probably by 6:30.  The rain was torrential, and being visually challenged anyway, it made for some very tense driving, but I was happy that I was going to see H and have a fun weekend.  It was also windy, and there was a considerable amount of debris on the highway.  One such piece of debris turned out to be a long piece of some sort of metal and by the time I saw it, I could not avoid it as there were cars on either side of mine, so I ran over it at 65 miles per hour.  Everything seemed fine until about 20 minutes later when a light flashed on the dashboard telling me that my tire pressure was low, and I knew immediately what had happened.



I got off at the next exit, a small town with only one service station attached to a convenience store/deli.  I parked and went inside, hoping they could direct me to a tire store, but no such luck … the nearest one was some 20 miles, and I knew my tire would not make it that far.  So, I called Roadside Assistance.  A snippet of that conversation:

He: Was this flat tire a result of vandalism?

Me:  No

He:  Was it the result of an accident?

Me:  No (thinking that if I had an accident, the flat tire would be the least of my worries)

He:  When did you first notice the flat tire?

Me:  About 20 minutes ago

He:  Can you give me the exact time?

Me:  Probably not, as I did not look at the clock … and why does it matter?

He:  I’m just trying to pin down the problem, ma’am

Me: The problem is that the left front tire has no air in it.

He: What is the mileage on the car?

Me: 6,625

He: So why do you think the tire is flat?

Me: Because the car is sitting on the rim, and because the dashboard monitor told me so.

He: But what do you think happened to it?

Me: Possibly it was damaged when I ran over some debris in the roadway, but I do not understand why any of this matters.  I am stranded in this rental car and I am hoping to get to Pennsylvania sometime this week!

The conversation went on for another 3-4 minutes and ended with him telling me that somebody would be there with a new tire in about an hour.  An hour came … and went.  After 75 minutes, I received a text message telling me that the service tech would be there in another hour.  Sigh.  But he did not actually bring a replacement tire … he merely put on the temporary tire that was in the trunk and warned me not to drive more than 50 miles or so before replacing it with a full-size tire.

flat tire

So, I set off in search of a tire store in the nearest large town.  I decided to stop at Wal-Mart, a store that I typically avoid at all costs, and ask where the nearest tire store was.  Turns out that Wal-Mart actually deals in tires and if I would just drive around back they would have me back on my way in no time.  “No time” turned out to be another two hours, and by now it was 5:00 and still pouring rain.  At best, it would take me until midnight to get to H’s house, whereas I was only 2 hours from home.  So, H & I agreed that, since I cannot see to drive after dark, it made more sense for me to just go back home and we will reschedule for next month.

But the story isn’t quite done yet. Turns out the car rental company will not re-imburse me the $80 for the tire, because … one has to purchase additional ‘roadside assistance’ for them to cover things like that.  Who knew?

And then … I almost broke my thumb.  See, it was still pouring rain and my eyes were about shot by this time, so after I drove for an hour, I pulled off at a rest area to give my eyes a break and have a smoke.  Since it was pouring rain, I put the window down only when I needed to flick my ashes outside, then immediately put the window back up.  Well, I got in too big of a hurry to get that window back up, and my thumb was still outside when the electric window reached the top.  Be advised … electric windows do not stop for metatarsals. The thumb is bruised, but not broken, by the way.


And so sums up my journey … 2 days preparing, 2 hours packing, 10 hours on the road, and … well, I am thankful to be home safe and sound, so I am not complaining or fretting.  In fact, I had rather a good chuckle over the whole thing … after a few tears, that is.  We are hoping for a more successful trip in four weeks.  Meanwhile, I will be back in the saddle after I unpack my suitcase and rest for a bit.

Back On The Campaign Trail …

Donald Trump is once again out on the campaign trail … on our dime and time.  This time the venue was Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where the local paper, the Gazette, placed an ‘Open Letter’ to Trump on its front page.  A few highlights:

The last time you visited us, you were a candidate for the presidency. Now, you’re the commander in chief. And you’ll no doubt be happy to know interviews by Gazette reporters show some of the local voters who supported you are still in your corner, even after your rocky start. [emphasis added]

It’s always a big deal when a president comes to town. But we couldn’t help but notice the main event of your trip today is a campaign rally. Mr. President, the campaign is over. You won. Now is not the time to rally. Now is the time to sell your policies, listen to Americans with a stake in those efforts and govern. Iowans have questions and concerns about your plans. They can’t be heard over the cheers of a rally.

And although we understand addressing climate change is not among your priorities, we will point out that the more frequent heavy rains it spawns have brought major flooding to this city twice in eight years. Preparing for the worst is a priority here, not a hoax.

We understand your strong desire to save America’s coal industry. But here in Iowa, we’re already generating a large percentage of our power through alternative energy sources. We’re a state that benefits from economic opportunities sparked by producing energy from the wind, the sun and the crops we grow.

More than 70,000 Iowans face losing health insurance obtained through the Affordable Care Act as uncertainty, indecision and partisan politics roil the health care system. You promised a “terrific” Obamacare replacement, but we haven’t seen anything resembling a terrific plan.

As Iowa struggles to afford its state investments in public schools, human services, the justice system and many other services used by Iowans every day, your proposed budget would make the situation worse.

But we think it’s critical you understand the real world implications of these and many other policies your administration is proposing.

We concede it’s not as much fun as hearing the cheers and chants of folks convinced you’re making America great again. But it’s what presidents do.

I have never been in Cedar Rapids, have never read the Gazette, but the editor(s) who wrote this letter have my respect.  Trump was put in his place without rancor, and I know from experience how hard that is to do!  Hats off to the Editorial Board at the Gazette.  If you would like to read the letter in its entirety, here is a link.

Apparently, as this is his fifth such ‘rally’ in as many months, he intends to turn the presidency into a four-year-long campaign rally.  I vote we impeach him now and put an end to this waste of taxpayer money … money that could be better spent on environmental issues, education and health care.

But let us look at just a bit of his ‘rally-rhetoric’ …

In reference to Tuesday’s special election in Georgia: “All we do is win, win, win. We won last night. The truth is, people love us … they haven’t figured it out yet.”

In reference to the ongoing, multiple Russian investigations: “They have phony witch hunts going against me.”

In reference to wind-harnessed energy: “I don’t want to just hope the wind blows to light up your house and your factory as the birds fall to the ground.”

When he mentioned Hillary Clinton, the crowd lustily chanted, “Lock her up,” as if the election had not taken place. When are these people going to get over their obsession with Obama and Hillary???

He told the crowds he has made “amazing progress” in his first five months. HUH?

Trump said he will soon introduce legislation that would bar immigrants to the United States from being on welfare for their first five years in the country.  It should be noted that under a 1996 welfare law signed by President Bill Clinton, legal immigrants must live in the United States for a minimum of five years to become eligible for social aid programs.

Trump also told the crowd that he is contemplating putting solar panels on the wall that he has pledged to build on the U.S.-Mexico border. “The higher it goes, the more valuable it is, Pretty good imagination, right? . . . We could make it really look beautiful, too.”

But the part of his speech I find most offensive is the defense of his uber-wealthy cabinet officers.  This topic will ultimately get a post of its own, but briefly, he stated, “Somebody said why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy? No it’s true. And Wilbur’s [commerce secretary Wilbur Ross] a very rich person in charge of commerce. I said: ‘Because that’s the kind of thinking we want.’”  Trump’s cabinet is the first ever cabinet comprised of multiple billionaires. Because “that’s the kind of thinking” he wants.  That single statement tells us all we need to know about how Trump views We The People.  Our thinking, our needs, are irrelevant to him unless we have ten digits in our net worth column.

To clarify his point, he spoke of his economic adviser Gary Cohn, saying, “[Gary] had to give up a lot to take these jobs,” and that Cohn in particular, a former president of Goldman Sachs, “went from massive pay days to peanuts”.  It is true that Cohn’s salary at Goldman Sachs was in the 9-figure range, however to say that his government pay is peanuts, when he receives more than twice what the average American family earns, is a slap in the face to us all!  And Donald Trump is too stupid to realize it, and what’s worse is he doesn’t care.

Trump’s handlers have had their hands full trying to keep him off Twitter, and they have reportedly encouraged him to get out of Washington, in light of his falling poll numbers, the fallout over his ill-advised firing of James Comey, and the ongoing Russian investigations into Trump, his family and staff.  I understand their view and their frustration, but it is an abomination for him to be spending our money campaigning for an election in 4 years where his name will NOT even appear on the ticket.  Especially at this time, when we are being told that we have so little value that Congress and Trump will be signing our death warrants with their “health care” bills.


These two seem happy to have been hoodwinked, don’t they?  Fools.

Break Time For Filosofa!!!

Dear readers …

I will be taking a 4-day break beginning Friday morning and returning with a post at some point on Tuesday.  I have a couple of posts scheduled during that time, but otherwise will be “off the grid”, as I spend a relaxing weekend with my friend H.  For my U.S. friends … PLEASE keep the Idiot-in-Chief from doing anything too terrible during my absence!  I shall miss you all, but I really, really need a break, and promise to return well-rested (well, maybe not rested, since this weekend will entail some 18 hours of driving time) and ready to start pounding the keys again!  I had hoped to have time to do a Jolly Monday post, but with house chores, and preparing for this trip, I did not, so I will re-post an older one.  My apologies, and I shall make it up to you … I promise! Keep safe and have a lovely weekend.  Hugs and love from Filosofa!

Dear Resistance: It Is Time To Man The Phones, Call The US Senators About The AHCA Bill

Senator Mitch McConnell, who criticized Democrats for working on ACA (Obamacare) behind closed doors, has been working for several weeks on a bill to “repeal and replace” ACA … behind closed doors. A bit of hypocrisy? The bill is designed to repeal ACA, which has a solid foundation but needs some additional work. But the kicker is the ‘replace’ part … the replacement would rob many of the health insurance they currently have. Mitch and his goons are determined to try to ram the bill through prior to the July 4th break with little or no discussion, and likely without an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The bill does NOTHING to serve We The People, but is instead geared toward the wealth. Blogger and friend Gronda is, as always, on top of this and I am sharing her post because she provides valuable information regarding how We The People can … and MUST … make our voices heard by our elected senators. Please take a few minutes today, not only to read this excellent information, but to reach out to your senators and let them know how you feel about their underhanded tactics and about this abominable “health care” bill. Thank you Gronda for your hard work and the information you provide us all!

Gronda Morin

Image result for photos of 4th july celebrations in washington dcD-Day for the passage of the republican (AHCA) healthcare bill by the US Senate, is set for just before July 4, 2017. This is not a bill that this country wants for its birthday celebration gift. Talk about, “bah-humbug!

By now, most of us, as part of the resistance have heard that for almost two months, 13 republican senators (no women or Black members welcomed) have been working on a SECRET health care bill, based mostly on the AHCA Bill passed by the US House of Representatives and which only 17% of the public favored. Even their fellow republican senate colleagues would have you believe that they are also in the dark about the contents of this bill.

Image result for photos of the 13 senators working on ahcaLed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the 13 architects/ senators  of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) — also known as Trumpcare —have yet to release a text of its work…

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What Are They Up To Today ?????

candlesThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is, lest you think otherwise, alive and well.  And they are on top of the really, really important things!  But beware!!!  They are coming for your candles!  The agency that once issued memos about carbon pollution from power plants and the threat that they posed to public health, is now warning that burning candles and incense can irritate the lungs of asthma sufferers.  Oh yes, and beware, too, of those summer bonfires, as the wood smoke can trigger asthma attacks.  Isn’t it wonderful that an agency with an $8 billion budget is spending our money to warn us about the dangers of candles and wood smoke?

As one who has had asthma since birth, I can assure you that candles burning in my home are not a problem.  My two biggest problems are the air outdoors when it is warm and humid, and flowers.  Ohhhh … I better watch what I say there, or perhaps the EPA will come dig up all my flowers!!!

Just days after the announcement about candles and incense, the EPA also announced that it would seek a two-year delay in the implementation of a rule requiring oil and gas companies to detect and repair leaks of methane and other air pollutants from oil and gas wells. In announcing the delay, the EPA acknowledged that it could have a disproportionate impact on the health of children, but argued that delay was worthwhile because it would save the oil and gas industry roughly $173 million.

Liz Purchia, a former EPA communications official under the Obama administration:

“They are just distracting from the larger issues by focusing on the really small ones. I’d love to see the last time they talked about carbon pollution from power plants and the threat that they posed to public health. It’s pretty unbelievable. They are using smoke and mirrors to make it appear like they are trying to protect public health, and meanwhile they are doing everything that they can do rollback regulations and work with the fossil fuel industry to bend to their will. They are showing a willful blindness towards the health of the American public.”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has not, as of yet, taken any legal action against incense or scented candle manufacturers.

In other EPA news …

The Environmental Protection Agency has given notice to dozens of scientists that they will not be renewed in their roles in advising the agency. Members of the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) whose terms end in August will not see them renewed, according to an email sent to members this week. They may re-apply, but were given a June 30 deadline to do so. The BOSC functions as an advisory board for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, and helps the office make sure that it is using sufficiently rigorous science in its research and development programs.

Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists:

“The Board of Scientific Counselors was formed to make sure the EPA does the best possible scientific work with limited taxpayer dollars. This independent advice is needed now more than ever. By sacking dozens of scientific counselors, Pruitt is showing that he doesn’t value scientific input and the benefits it offers the public.”

Is anybody surprised by that?

In May, when Pruitt announced the terminations of nine scientists, his spokesman, J. P. Freire, said he would consider replacing the academic scientists with representatives from industries whose pollution the agency is supposed to regulate, such as the chemical, oil and gas industries. “The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community.”  Putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop?

And in other climate news …

At an Energy and Natural Resources Committee budget hearing earlier this week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke came under fire from Senator Al Franken over his inane comments that “the vanishing glaciers at Glacier National Park have undergone a “consistent melt” since the end of the last ice age”.  Franken informed Zinke that “scientists who work for you” have found the melting has “dramatically accelerated” in recent decades.

Franken: “Can you tell me how much warming government scientists predict for the end of the century under a business-as-usual scenario?”

Zinke: “The Paris accord, in the president and my judgement, it wasn’t about climate change, it was about a bad deal.”


Franken interrupted to ask Zinke to answer the question.

Zinke: “I don’t think the government scientists can predict with certainty. There isn’t a model that existed it can predict today’s weather given all the data. If everyone adhered to the Paris climate accord, that change would be roughly 0.2°, which is insignificant.”

Franken: “No, no, no!  I just want you to answer the question that I asked you. That’s all I want you to do.”

And so it continued, as nauseam. Keep in mind that Mr. Zinke is the head of the Department of Interior, a position that pays in the $100,000 per year range, yet intellectually I would pit almost any 8th grader against him in a debate.

Meanwhile, out in the real world …

The Southwest is experiencing its worst heat wave in decades. Excessive heat warnings have been in effect from Arizona to California and will be for the remainder of the week. On Monday, temperatures in Phoenix hit 118 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, which announced the record-tying heat.

heatIt was so hot that dozens of flights have been canceled this week at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

My vote is for sending Trump, Pruitt and Zinke to Phoenix, make them stand on the airport tarmac for about three hours in their suits and ties, then ask if they still believe climate change is a ‘hoax’.

Toes Are Hard To Come By!

Dawson City is a Yukon town of less than 2,000 people that, until recently, was best known for being a base during the 19th-century Klondike Gold Rush. In the Downtown Hotel resides a pub, the Sourdough Saloon!

toe-3Now, you might not think a saloon in a small town of 2,000 people would be a big deal, but they have a claim to fame that has put Dawson City back on the map, so to speak.  They serve a drink called the “Sourtoe Cocktail”, a shot of whiskey with a toe submerged in it.  Yes, folks, I said a TOE.  A real toe … a human toe.  The drink is served only between 9:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m., and it involves a challenge.  The drinker is to down the whiskey until the mummified toe actually touches his (or her) lips.  If he does this successfully, he/she is awarded a certificate and becomes a member of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club. I’m not sure what the membership benefits are, or if one must renew their membership annually.

The roots of the tradition are said to date back to the 1920s, when a rumrunner lost a toe to frostbite on his way to the Alaskan border and preserved it in a jar of alcohol. Captain Dick Stevenson found the preserved toe in the 1970s and took it to the Downtown Hotel to dare people into drinking shots with it. The bar’s slogan is: “You can drink it fast, you drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe!”


But, last Saturday night, someone stole the toe!!!  A customer came in and ordered the cocktail after the 11:00 cut-off time.  Normally he would not have been served, but there was a new staff member, and she served him the drink.  According to bartender Terry Lee, the man who took the toe was from Quebec, had a French accent, and had earlier bragged about his plans to steal the mummified appendage. The thief also reportedly left behind a certificate earned for drinking the cocktail, which features his name.

toe-4The stolen toe was not the original that was donated by Captain Stevenson, but was the newest addition to their collection, donated by a man who had had to have his toe surgically removed. After curing it for six months in salt, the staff had only begun adding it to drinks last weekend.  “This was our new toe, and it was a really good one,” said hotel manager Geri Coulbourne.

At least eight other toes have gone missing over the years, some stolen while others have been swallowed. The original toe belonging to the rum runner was accidentally swallowed by a miner after seven years at the hotel, giving rise to another tradition: the hotel’s constant search for toes!

“Got frostbite?” reads an advertisement on its website, which goes on to promise that those who donate toes will be “immortalised in the Sourtoe Hall of Fame”. The hotel said it had received 10 donated toes – big toes are preferred – over the years, including a few that were left to the establishment through wills.

Mr. Lee said, “We are furious! Toes are very hard to come by. And stunts like this adversely affect the whole community, not just the Downtown Hotel. We fortunately have a couple back-up toes but we really need this one back.”

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are investigating:  Those with information about the missing toe are encouraged to contact Dawson City RCMP at 1-867-993-2677. Since they have his name, it shouldn’t be too hard to find him.  A reward is being offered.


Good People Doing Good Things – For Mother Earth

Sooner or later, we will have to recognise that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans. – Evo Morales

This week in my search for good people I found several examples of people spending their time doing good things for the environment, so I decided to follow that theme, in honour of World Environment Day, which was earlier this month on June 5th.  While some may greedily take from the Earth without a thought of giving back, there are many who are dedicated to helping clean up and protect our environment.  Let us look at just a few of those people.


In Mumbai India, a lawyer by the name of Afroz Shah brought together over 2,000 volunteers to clean up a 2-mile stretch of Versova Beach.  The group collectively picked up over 160 tons of trash from the beach, but they didn’t stop there!  They also planted 500 coconut trees!

The group was comprised of local students, local business people, and members of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). This in itself is impressive, but what I find most admirable about Mr. Shah is that his commitment is long-term … for the past 87 weekends he has spent his time organizing community clean-ups on the beach.


Afroz Shah

In the words of one local fisherman, “Before this movement, we were helpless when we saw garbage affecting the marine life, but nothing was done about it. However, after the clean-up drive, we can see the difference. We have realized that if the entire fishing community of Versova comes together, there will be no plastic in sight.”

My hat is off to Mr. Shah for his tremendous and inspirational efforts!  See … there are even good lawyers in the world!

rokkeKjell Inge Røkke (please do NOT ask Filosofa how to pronounce this name!) started his career as a fisherman at the age of 18, with neither a high school nor college education.  His rise in business is a story in itself, but will have to wait for another day, for today’s topic is what he is doing for the environment.  Røkke is considered to be one of the ten wealthiest people in Norway, with a net worth equal to $2.6 billion USD.

On 16 May 2017 Røkke announced that he is funding the purchase of a giant research vessel. The ship is built in cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) in Norway. The Research Expedition Vessel (REV) is a 600-foot vessel that will maneuver the ocean’s waters sucking up plastic waste. Capable of accumulating and recycling up to 5 tons of plastic per day, the REV will also double as a mobile laboratory for scientists to monitor and observe the ocean’s ecosystems.

Once completed, the ship will accommodate 60 scientists who will ‘monitor and observe the ocean’s ecosystems’.  The scientists on board will have some of the most hi-tech research equipment available to them in order to properly observe the seas. Røkke hopes that the team will be able to utilize these facilities to discover new ways in assisting and nourishing the ocean’s struggling ecosystems.

“I am a fisherman, and curious by nature. Resources in the oceans and on the seabed have provided significant value for society – and also for my family and myself. For this, I am very grateful. However, the oceans are also under greater pressure than ever before from overfishing, coastal pollution, habitat destruction, climate change and ocean acidification, and one of the most pressing challenges of all, plasticization of the ocean. The need for knowledge and solutions is pressing.”

Røkke told Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper that he wanted “to give back to society what I’ve earned” and described the cost of the ship as costing “the lion’s share of his fortune”.

vetpawThink about this pairing:  veterans coming home, feeling displaced, often suffering from PTSD or other physical/emotional injuries … and … species of wildlife endangered by poachers with little or no conscience, willing to kill an animal as a trophy or for profit.  How do those two connect, you ask.  The answer is Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW).

According to their website, VETPAW “provides meaningful employment to post-9/11 veterans, utilizing their expertise to train and support Africa’s anti-poaching rangers to prevent the extermination of keystone African wildlife, and the disastrous economic and environmental impact it would have.”

rhino.jpgFounded by former marine Ryan Tate and his wife Jeanne, the group of US military veterans he has assembled work in a remote private reserve in the far north of South Africa.  African park rangers are often shot by the poachers who are intent on killing animals for their ivory tusks or horns. With the training and assistance provided by the VETPAW soldiers, conservationists can work to defend the massive mammals, while knowing someone has their own back.


Ryan Tate

The program has resulted in a 11% drop in the number of rhinos killed during the first half of 2016.  Rhino horns are made of keratin, the same substance as fingernails, yet a kilo is worth up to $65,000. South Africa is home to 80% of the world’s wild rhinos.  The poachers are often criminal gangs, armed to the teeth, well-funded and part of transnational syndicates who will stop at nothing.

VETPAW is serving two important functions by helping preserve the wild rhino and other endangered animals, but also giving returning vets a purpose in life, a focus.  And there is another benefit from this program … local farmers and communities say they are safer now, as the poachers frequently posed a threat to them.

There is no single cause that is more important than protecting our planet, our oceans, forests, and wildlife.  We cannot all go protect wildlife in South Africa, or purchase a billion-dollar boat to clean up the oceans, but isn’t it good to know that there are people out there doing just that?  And we can do small things that make a difference.


196 Democratic Lawmakers Of US Congress Are Suing President over Foreign Emoluments Clause

The Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution is the topic of the day. It is intended to ensure “that our nation’s leaders would not be corrupted by foreign influence or put their own financial interests over the national interest.” By now, it should be clear to all that Trump will always put his own interests, financial and otherwise, over the national interest. 196 Democrats in Congress have filed a lawsuit claiming that Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause. This lawsuit is right and proper, though I suspect it will die a quick death in light of the plutocracy of the day. Fellow-blogger Gronda has, as always, summarized and explained the issue for us in her latest post. Please take a few minutes to read this excellent post, for this is important information! Thank you, Gronda, for both the post and for allowing me to share!

Gronda Morin

Image result for photos of 196democrats suing president

Democrats of the US Congress have decided to act to force the republican President Donald Trump to comply with the US Constitution with regards to its “Emolument’s Clause.”

There are House republicans who argue that this clause has never been enforced against a sitting US president or the members of the US Congress. The obvious retort to this assertion is that previous presidents have fully complied with the intent of this clause. And the US Congress representatives are bound by the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act to prevent it from acting counter to the emoluments clause.”

Image result for photos of us congress buildingThe Heritage Guide to the US Constitution states the following:

“The Framers intended the Emoluments Clause to protect the republican character of American political institutions. “One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption.” The Federalist No. 22 (Alexander Hamilton). The…

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