A Call To … Write? Opine? Enlighten?

I frequently like to feature guest posts from my readers on a given topic.  Here in the U.S., we have had so much chaos in our lives these last few months that it sucks all the energy out of the room, and leaves us with little energy to look past our own troubles.  But, the UK is facing a possible “no-deal” Brexit which could be devastating for them, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been throwing his weight and his rhetoric around, making things even worse.  And our neighbors to the north have also had their share of troubles in the form of a couple of scandals surrounding their Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that has cast a shadow on his chances for re-election next month.

I would love to have some of my UK and Canadian friends contribute a guest post helping us here in the U.S. better understand your situation, and also giving us your perspective, as opposed to just what we read in the news.  Any takers?  If you’re interested, shoot me an email, or leave a comment here.

Thanks guys!

Where Is The Logic?????

toddler ironingThose of you who have a toddler in the house, let me ask you a question:  Do you allow your toddler to iron the laundry?  No, of course you don’t for he/she would likely get the creases crooked in the pants, and then what would you look like in that next business meeting?  Do you allow your toddler to load the dishes into the dishwasher?  Why no, silly, for half would be turned the wrong way and never get clean!  And would you allow your toddler to cook your supper?  Heh heh heh … only if you like your food to come on a stick!  There are good reasons that you don’t have your little one iron, clean, or cook, and the main one of those reasons is that he has no idea what he is doing when it comes to those things.  Well, guess what?  The ‘man’ sitting on his oversized patootie in the Oval Office is no better than your toddler in that he has no clue what he is doing.trump big butt-2I can tell you what he is doing … he is destroying.  He is on a course to destroy the environment, society, and most recently, the economy.  Yes, that economy that he has wrongfully taken credit for, that economy that he inherited  from the previous administration, that economy that has been, all things considered, pretty darned good.  But, not satisfied with that, he has now begun a trade war, not with our enemies … oh no, to our enemies he is most generous … but he is determined to go to war with our friends!!!

From The Washington Post, 31 May 2018

“President Trump campaigned on going hard after China for ripping off the United States on trade. Yet a year and a half into his presidency, Trump has put more tariffs on longtime U.S. allies than he has on China, his supposed “bad guy” on trade. The Trump administration announced new tariffs Thursday on the European Union, Canada and Mexico.”

tariffs-2Trump has been playing some game that only he understands, threatening the tariffs, then promising exemptions, then threatening again.  But alas, yesterday he decided the tariffs would go into effect at midnight last night.  If any of you republicans think this is a cheer-worthy move, think again.  This was a foolish, foolish move for two major reasons.

First, Canada, Mexico and the European Union (EU) are our allies, our friends, the countries we count on to help in times of trouble, just as we expect to help them when needed.  Friends do not treat friends this way, and the backlash is justified and expected.

The Mexican government said it would target U.S. exports of pork bellies, apples, cranberries, grapes, certain cheeses and various types of steel. Canada said it would slap dollar-for-dollar tariffs on a range of U.S. products, including whiskey and orange juice. And the European Union indicated it would levy taxes on about $7 billion worth of U.S. exports, including bourbon, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and jeans.

Reactions from our allies:

French President Emmanuel Macron called Mr Trump to tell him the tariffs were “illegal”. Mr Trump told Mr Macron there was a need for the US to “rebalance trade” with the EU.

UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the 25% levy on steel was “patently absurd”, adding: “It would be a great pity if we ended up in a tit-for-tat trade dispute with our closest allies.”

Gareth Stace, head of trade body UK Steel, said the tariffs were “no way to treat your friend” and called on the government to safeguard the industry’s 31,000 jobs.

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, said the US move was “totally unacceptable” and rejected the claim that his country posed a national security threat to America.

The White House received a significant amount of domestic flak, too. Both the steel industry and steelworkers’ unions decried the tariffs. Other manufacturers were no less concerned: One study suggests that the tariffs could kill up to 40,000 jobs in the automobile industry alone.  One of Trump’s own, republican Senator Ben Sasse said …

“This is dumb. Europe, Canada, and Mexico are not China, and you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents. We’ve been down this road before — blanket protectionism is a big part of why America had a Great Depression. ‘Make America Great Again’ shouldn’t mean ‘Make America 1929 Again.’”

And Financial Times journalist Ed Luce had this to say …

“Launching a simultaneous trade war against America’s allies and adversaries conforms to no known international rules of logic. It will raise domestic prices, cut U.S. jobs and reduce America’s global influence.”

Even chief bootlicker Paul Ryan was not happy, saying the move “targets America’s allies when we should be working with them to address the unfair trading practices of countries like China”.

tariffs-3The second reason this is a fool’s errand, of course, is that it is a move almost certain to create economic instability both in the U.S. and across the globe.  Remember that extra $5 – $6 dollars the ‘tax cut’ bill gained you on your paycheck?  You will soon be spending all of that and more just to buy the same amount of food and other goods that you bought a year ago.  Prices will rise, and when some cannot afford the higher prices, buying will slow, and when buying slows, manufacturers will cut jobs.  That, of course, is an over-simplified explanation, but you get the idea.

Trump’s stance against globalism is ridiculous, for today’s world is a global world.  Nations must engage in global trade in order to bolster their economies, and in global cooperation in order to ensure their security.  It is no longer the world it was pre-WWII, but Donald Trump has no knowledge, no experience, and no willingness to listen to the experts, so he does not understand international relations or economics any better than your three-year-old understands how to iron the clothes.  The difference is that your toddler will someday learn … Donald Trump will not.

Olde England, carrying on

Most often these days my posts tend to be dark and depressing. I think it is time we all have a breath of fresh air!!! My dear friend Mary, writing as memoirsofahusk, has written one of the most uplifting posts I have read in a long time. Mary lives in the UK, and as we all know, they have had their share of troubles lately. She was in need of some time spent in nature to re-gain her perspective, and she shared the experience with her readers in both beautifully crafted words and gorgeous pictures (she is both a writer and a photographer). Please do yourself a favour and spend a few minutes reading Mary’s beautiful post … I promise you will smile and feel a bit of peace. Many thanks to Mary for permission to share this with my readers!

MEMOIRS OF A HUSK

It wasn’t a dawn chorus, it was a cacophony. And it went on, and on, and on.

Barney

The lambs joined in.

Then the donkey.

Then we heard the clippety-clop.

Clutching my camera, I leaned through the tiny window, in the thick stone wall, of the old farmhouse that’s now an inn. An unusual inn…

‘Good morning,’ I called.

‘Good morning to you,’ replied the passing stranger, ‘how are you?’

‘Fine,’ I replied, ‘how are you?’

’I’m very fine,’ he responded with the biggest, sunniest smile you’ve ever seen, ‘I’m on holiday.’

A flat cap on his head, greying moustache on his upper lip. A spring in his step and a twinkle in his eyes, the gypsy was walking beside a horse pulling an old-fashioned, brightly-decorated gypsy caravan. Looking barely big enough for a man his size.

But I doubt he lives in it year round. For this is a…

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Two Blows Against Freedom of Press/Speech Today

We are all familiar with this image

connection-timed-out-2Technically, what it means is that a server is taking too long to reply to a data request made from another device, typically your computer, cell phone or tablet. The reasons can vary from the wrong IP address being typed in to a hardware problem to a problem with WiFi services.  Typically, if the IP address is valid, it is a temporary problem easily solved by clicking the refresh button or resetting a router.  But today, Turkish people throughout the country are seeing this message and it is not going to be a simple fix.  For today, the Turkish government, i.e. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has blocked Wikipedia from Turkish internet users.

“After technical analysis and legal consideration … an administrative measure has been taken for this website,” the BTK telecoms authority said in a statement on its website. It cited a law that allows it to block access to individual web pages or entire sites for the ‘protection of public order, national security or the wellbeing of the public’.  We are talking about Wikipedia, folks, not a subversive website, not a porn site … an educational, informational site.  Such is the state of freedom of speech and freedom of press in Turkey today.

Meanwhile, across the pond here in our own backyard, there is this:

epa-website.png

“EPA wipes its climate change site day before march on Washington. Visitors to the website on Saturday found it was ‘undergoing changes’ to reflect the agency’s ‘new direction’, as thousands protest climate inaction.”

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s main climate change website is “undergoing changes” to better reflect “the agency’s new direction” under Donald Trump. The announcement, made late Friday evening, left empty what was previously the “official government site” providing “comprehensive information on the issue of climate change and global warming”.

“As EPA renews its commitment to human health and clean air, land and water, our website needs to reflect the views of the leadership of the agency.  We want to eliminate confusion, by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law.” – JP Freire, an associate administrator for public affairs

Previously, the website housed data on greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters and reports on the effects of climate change and its impact on human health.

While I could go on for thousands of words about my outrage over the EPA and it’s anything-but-protecting-the-environment approach, this post it about freedom of speech and press, so I shall save the EPA commentary for another post.

Yesterday, in the wake of the European Press Prize awards, Peter Preston of The Guardian, wrote a very short piece:

“A final word on the European Press Prize as, awards delivered, a new season begins. The winners were all terrific. Congratulations to your Serbian investigators, young Romanian reporters, digital wizards from Bellingcat. Congratulations to three sensational writers from Stern and Spiegel. (Gosh! the Germans still invest mightily in good journalism). And more than a tip of the cap to Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times (and Guardian and Observer) for his scintillating takes on Brexit.

But one thing that sets these awards apart for me is a sense of danger – for Yavuz Baydar and his Turkish colleagues as democracy closes down, of a Warsaw government running amok and of Hungary’s Orbán defying the whole European idea. The dangers the Serbian winners raised as many marched in Belgrade, fighting for press freedoms lost.

Who can be complacent about Europe, its struggles, its future? When journalists meet, they hear a knocking at the gates.”

Even in the UK, freedom of the press is not what it once was.  There are new laws permitting generalized surveillance, as well as a proposal for a new espionage act that could criminalize journalists and whistleblowers as spies.  Both the UK and the U.S. dropped two points in the past year on the Reporters Without Borders (RWB) World Press Freedom Index in the past year. Even so, I do not see Prime Minister Theresa May approaching dictatorship, as I do in the cases of Erdoğan and Trump.

Earlier this month, Turkey held a vote on a referendum that consolidated significantly more power under Erdoğan.  At the time, Donald Trump called President Erdoğan to offer congratulations. Today, Trump himself is talking about consolidating his own power. In an interview with Fox News that aired Friday night, Trump dismissed the “archaic” rules of the House and Senate — using that word four times — and suggested they needed to be streamlined “for the good of the country.”  A few excerpts:

“We don’t have a lot of closers in politics, and I understand why: It’s a very rough system. It’s an archaic system.”

“You look at the rules of the Senate, even the rules of the House — but the rules of the Senate and some of the things you have to go through — it’s really a bad thing for the country, in my opinion. They’re archaic rules. And maybe at some point we’re going to have to take those rules on, because, for the good of the nation, things are going to have to be different.”

“You can’t go through a process like this. It’s not fair. It forces you to make bad decisions. I mean, you’re really forced into doing things that you would normally not do except for these archaic rules.”

“I think, you know, the filibuster concept is not a good concept to start off with.”

Trump is frustrated with the pace of legislation after 100 days, and his answer is that he wants to change the rules … the very rules that were designed to safeguard against any one individual in government amassing too much power and shifting the foundation of a democracy into one of an autocracy. And it all starts with stifling the voices of the press and of the people.  Today, Trump effectively stifled the voice of what is arguably one of the most important agencies in the federal government, the EPA.  Today Erdoğan stifled the voice of knowledge in his country.  What is the future for these two nations under these authoritarian leaders?  Think about it.

Zero Credibility

The title of this post by my fellow-blogger and friend, Keith, says it all. Zero Credibility. Credibility, like trust and respect, must be earned. Our current president has earned none of these, and the cost is likely to be our standing among our allies. Please take a moment to read and think about Keith’s post … it sums our current standing in the international community quite accurately. Thank you Keith, for your very good, concise summary and for permission to re-blog!

musingsofanoldfart

If you were a foreign leader, let me ask you a simple question. Would you trust the current President of the United States? Unfortunately, the answer is an obvious no. The sad part is the leaders have less trust in America.

With the continuation of his lying and insufficient knowledge of the issues, he has offended several leaders in so little time. His mistakes are unforced, so he has brought them on himself.

His worst mistake which weighs him down as investigations continue are his continuing insistence that his predecessor had his offices wire tapped. He greatly complicated this false accusation by indicting the British in the wire tapping. He damaged a relationship with our best ally, so that he would not be caught in a lie. So, his solution was to lie again.

Adding to these lies are the Russian conspiracy investigation, the incompetently handled travel bans and various…

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An Open Letter to the Disunited UK.

We here in the U.S. have been obsessed and overwhelmed with election 2016, arguably the most vile and divisive election in our history. Being so wrapped up in our own problems has kept many of us from seeing the issues facing our friends on the other side of the globe. Interestingly, it turns out that their problems closely mirror our own. I refer to the UK and the Brexit vote of June 23, 2016. Brexit was, for the UK, what election 2016 is for the US, and more than four months after the vote, the conflict is still dividing the citizens of the nation. There are a number of similarities between Brexit and our election, and if we look at what is happening now, perhaps we can learn a lesson to be applied in the post-election coming months. Yesterday, I made a new blogger-friend, David Prosser of barsetshirediaries. David lives in the UK and published a very thoughtful post regarding the post-Brexit atmosphere in the UK and has kindly given me permission to share his post. Please take a minute to read David’s post, as I believe it important for us to understand the damages that such divisive politics can bring. Thank you, David, for such a thoughtful post!

barsetshirediaries

I’m depressed. There, the cat’s out of the bag. But depression isn’t the feeling of self pity many people will claim it is, and not something you can pull yourself together from as some will tell you to do. The days of the father in a working class home telling you to get on with it are far in the past as these days those fathers have tasted it too.

Why am I depressed? Well I’m suddenly having to re-evaluate so much I thought I knew about my country and the people in it. Some are people I thought I knew, and others are those I thought I could trust.  When Brexit came about David Cameron left his post as Prime Minister because he had been a staunch Bremain supporter. The competition started for a replacement and I wasn’t too worried when a Bremain supporter won as she promised the…

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A More Civilized Way To Do Things

Why can’t we do things the way the Brits do?  Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Friday, 23 June that he would resign as Prime Minister, after the UK voted by a narrow margin to leave the European Union (EU).  Monday, 11 July, a mere 18 days later, Cameron announced that he will step down in two days’ time and that Theresa May will become Britain’s next Prime Minister.  Think about that.  18 days to decide on the next leader.  Here in the U.S., we have been working on it for the better part of two years, and very intensely so for the past 13 months, with another four months to go until the actual election!

cameron-may“I’m delighted that Theresa May will be the next prime minister. She is strong, she is competent, she is more than able to provide the leadership that our country is going to need in the years ahead, and she will have my full support,” Cameron said.  Such politeness, so much dignity.  On Wednesday, Cameron will hand the keys to 10 Downing Street to Ms. May.  I imagine she will be busy packing for these next two days!

leadsomWhat I find even more amazing, particularly in light of the venomous campaign that has been going on forever here in the U.S., is that Ms. May’s chief opponent, Andrea Leadsom, graciously stepped down from her candidacy, saying the country could not afford a drawn-out political contest and needed to launch quickly into the complicated bargaining with the European Union over the split.  Can you picture either Hillary Clinton or Donnie Trump stepping down voluntarily and, again, graciously, for the good of the nation?  Just the thought of it makes me laugh.

It is also interesting to note that in the environment of modern-day populism that triggered Brexit, the vote to resign from the EU, Ms. May voted to remain in the EU, while Ms. Leadsom supported leaving.  Nonetheless, Ms. May stated in no uncertain terms that she will now do everything in her power to ensure a smooth and timely transition from the EU.  Can you picture Donnie Trump saying that he will do everything in his power to help provide a smooth path for immigrants to become citizens?  Hardly.

politePerhaps Ms. Leadsom would have stood a better chance had she not stated that the reason she is more qualified than Ms. May is because she has children, while Ms. May does not.  That is not necessarily the most important qualification for such a high-level position, and it doomed her campaign almost from the start.  She later apologized for the remark and then resigned her campaign.  Why can’t Americans be that polite?

The other two potential candidates, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, both spoke in support of Ms. May, and Gove said that she should be allowed to take office as soon as possible.  Why cannot we have such expedient and peaceful transitions of power here in the U.S.  Oh yeah … it’s that “We The People” thing.  In Britain, the office of Prime Minister is not established by the Constitution, but rather is appointed by the Queen, based on the candidate considered most likely to gain a vote of confidence from the House of Commons.  While I am a great supporter of the U.S. Constitution, in recent years there are some portions that I have come to question.  This election year, in particular, has given me doubt that a general election by the population is the most effective method for selecting a president.  Britain’s method seems more civilized, more effective, and in the long run leaves the country with far less turmoil.

Of course I am not advocating for a change in the way we elect our president, because as I said, I support and believe in our foundation of government.  However, I am advocating for bringing more civility into the process.  It is no wonder that most Europeans consider the Brits to be significantly more civilized than us “damn Yankees”!  They are!  Aside from the whole election process, they do not encourage, nor even allow every man, woman and child to own guns.  Guns are tightly regulated, and as a result, they have one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world!

How can we make our election process more civilized?  We The People must stand against the violence, the name-calling, the dirty politics that define the process.  We must call on our candidates to speak only of ideologies and policies, not personal affronts against other candidates.  We The People must act like civilized beings before we can expect our political candidates to do so.  We must learn to speak softly and to walk away from those candidates who act more like hyenas than humans.  And perhaps most important of all, we must send a message to the media that we do not want to hear playground rhetoric, but are only interested in serious political discourse.  We must learn to turn off CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and the “big three”.  When they lose viewers, their ratings drop, and when their ratings drop, they lose advertisers, and when they lose advertisers, they go broke.  When the media realize that viewers will not tolerate the venom and will turn off their sets, they will stop covering events where candidates cannot act like civilized human beings.  And when they do that, the politicians will not be heard and presumably they will eventually get the message.

Is all of that nothing more than a pipe dream, a fairy tale?  Sadly, probably so.  As a nation, we staunchly defend our rights to be crass, our rights to kill people, our rights to be racist, bigoted and just plain stupid.  There are those of us who try to get our point across without violence, without spewing garbage, using instead our intellect.  We live in this nation too.  We pay taxes, work hard to try to make it a good place to live, to raise children, we vote, and we try to be good citizens.  But unfortunately, we appear to be outnumbered.  Think about it.

Little Hitler … er, Donnie … Bans Yet Another Publication

The Guardian is a British national daily newspaper founded in 1821.  It is the 5th most widely read newspaper in the world.  It is a well-respected publication and one of my main “go-to” sources for international news, along with Der Spiegel and The Daily Mail.  Frankly, I find coverage of even U.S. news to be more reliable from European publications than US publications.  Last week The Guardian joined BuzzFeed, Politico, The Washington Post, Univision, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, The Des Moines (Iowa) Register and others in being ‘persona non grata’ at Trump press conferences, rallies and other events.  More and more, it is apparent that the only journalists Trump wants covering his events are those that are sympathetic to him.  Note that Fox News still holds press credentials.

Apparently the censorship of The Guardian came about as a result of Trump being asked an ‘uncomfortable’ question by Defence and Security Correspondent, Ewen MacAskill.  Trump responded to MacAskill by calling him a “nasty, nasty guy.”  And then, the next day, Guardian reporters were denied entrance to Trump’s golf resort in Aberdeen, Scotland, on Saturday morning, where Trump was on the second day of a two-day UK visit.

This only reiterates what I have said time and time again … Trump has the very thin skin of a classic narcissist and absolutely cannot tolerate to be criticized or put in a position of actually having to answer a policy question.  It was a terrible violation of freedom of the press when Trump banned The Washington Post from his events.  But when he goes after a news media outlet that is not based in the U.S., is not a U.S. company, then I find his behaviour deplorable, as I’m sure the Europeans must.  What an embarrassment he is to this nation!  Never before has a candidate for the highest office in the land shown such blatant disregard for democratic values!  NEVER!  Hillary Clinton has not banned a single journalist or media outlet from her events.  Barack Obama never once banned reporters, even though he was often heckled more than most.

My question is this:  If he is allowed to get away with censorship of this caliber while he is just an ordinary citizen running for office, what would he attempt if he were actually elected president?  I may not like Fox News, but I acknowledge their right to ‘report’ the news as they see it.  Little Donnie may not like the Washington Post, but it is not his right to stifle or attempt to control them.  This, people, is what is meant by “Freedom of the Press”!

Fortunately, Little Donnie has zero control … ZERO ability to control or restrict press access at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this month!  I am hoping that the organizations he has barred from previous events show up en masse and report as they see fit.  I believe they will.

Donald Trump was a guest in the UK, specifically in Scotland.  A guest.  A good guest brings a gift, minds his manners and certainly does not throw Uncle Ed out of Uncle Ed’s own home!  That, folks, is precisely what Donnie tried to do.  He banned a well-respected newspaper of the UK from an event at which he was a guest!  If you are not embarrassed, if you are not humiliated by this, then take a right at the next corner and follow the rest of the lemmings off the cliff.  Please.

A Grotesque Embarrassment To Us All

Donald Trump embarrassed not only himself yesterday, but also our entire nation.  To our Scottish friends, I would like to humbly apologize for this man, his vulgarity, his utter stupidity and his very existence.  (Though his mother was actually born in Scotland … just saying).  What now, you ask?  Well ….

U.S. property mogul Trump poses next to bagpipers during a media event on the sand dunes of the Menie estate in Scotland

Donald Trump flew to Scotland to promote a golf course his company purchased on the country’s southwestern coast.  His timing was incredibly horrible, and his agenda included no meetings with government or political leaders, but was strictly for his business concerns.  “Traditionally, nominees travel overseas during this period to brush up their foreign policy depth and visit 10 Downing Street and Israel — for politics back here,” said Scott W. Reed, senior political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Everyone knows this is the wrong thing for the nominee to be doing now, and it is amazing this can’t be stopped.”

Though he has said publicly that he is relying more on his children to run the Trump Organization, he remains closely tied to it and does not like to be away from it for long.  Um … I wonder, in the unlikely event that he was to become president, when he might find time to actually run the United States?

trump-plane.jpgThe trip, which included his family, carries a six-figure price tag, including his Secret Service entourage, for which We The People will be forced to pay at an estimated rate of $38,000 per day.  Then, of course, there was the cost of the Trump jet, which would have been around $100,000.  Add in meals, which I am fairly certain were upscale events, and Mr. Trump’s already broke campaign coffers are likely to hold very little by the time he returns stateside, assuming that the costs are being charged to his campaign fund.  I will be eagerly awaiting his June campaign finance report!

And all that for what?  For him to embarrass us.  Yep, he opened his mouth and it came out Stupid.  No surprise there.  Here is his Twitter message:

Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!

5:21 AM – 24 Jun 2016

The problem with this is that Scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, not to leave!  Trump did not even know this!  Some of the replies to his message:

You are a fucking moron.

Scotland voted IN you moron

Scotland voted Remain, you weapons-grade plum.

Once again, Trump shows that he is a greedy, self-centered, ignorant, tone-deaf moron

Trump’s excitement about Brexit & the accompanying market crash make more sense if you recall how much he made off American misery in 2008.

No games! tweeted the goof who flew his Secret Service protection 3,000 miles to watch him talk about GOLF.

flagNow, the Scottish people did not seem too thrilled to have a visit from Trump.  One actually raised a Mexican flag high in the air in view of his golf course, saying it was a ‘sign of solidarity for the Mexican people.”  As Trump arrived at the ninth hole of his new Scotland golf course for a press conference, he was interrupted by a protester, who was swiftly removed as Trump shouted at him to “Go get a job and a haircut”.  Perhaps Donnie forgot he was a visitor to another country?  He certainly forgot the rules of etiquette for being a guest.  One Scottish resident identified only as Jill said “Och, he’s a maniac! Horrible man. I would hate to think that anyone would really feel like that about other people, but listen to what comes out of his mouth, about Mexicans, Muslims, women …”

The people of the UK have been stressing, understandably, over the Brexit vote and it was no doubt the main thing on their minds.  Scotland voted to stay in the EU, but the overall UK vote was to leave, so no doubt the Scottish people were not happy and were in no mood for the shenanigans of the braying ass. So, other than his stupid twitter message, what did Donnie have to say about Brexit (you will remember that a couple of weeks ago he didn’t even know what Brexit was)?  Very little, as it turns out.  He quickly twisted his speech to … well … himself and his golf course, of course.  “As you know I own Doonbeg in Ireland, a phenomenal hotel. One of the most beautiful hotels. One of the most highly rated hotels in all of Europe and it’s got a golf course on this large almost 500-acre parcel of land, on the Atlantic Ocean, and does great. I own Turnberry. I own Aberdeen.”  I just want to cover my head and hide in shame.

Despite his Scottish ancestry, Donald Trump made a huge fool of himself on his visit to Scotland.  The really sad part is that it appears he is blissfully unaware of how utterly stupid he looked, and what an embarrassment he was to the nation he was hoping to represent.  I would not blame Scotland one bit if they banned him from ever entering the country again!  Hey!  Perhaps they should build a wall and …. make Trump Enterprises pay for it!

New Weapon of Terrorism: Biscuits ‘n Salt???

Terrorism seems to have acquired a new weapon:  salt and biscuits!  Yes, you heard me … armed with nothing more than salt and biscuits in a faux explosive belt, a man identified only as JB managed to trigger a major security alert, shut down a major shopping mall, and cause an emergency meeting among key government ministers in Brussels.  JB claimed that he had been abducted, wired with the ‘suicide belt’, and dropped off at the City2 complex where he would be remotely detonated.  Not many details have been released as of this writing, but it seems likely that this was a hoax, as the man is previously known to police and considered to be somewhat unhinged.  Police did find the car he claimed he was transported in, and are now questioning another person in connection with the event.

Since the above story caught my eye, but it wasn’t enough for a full blog post, I decided to see what other ‘snippets from around the globe’ might be out there.  Sometimes it’s kind of fun just to go with a few short blurbs rather than the more in-depth standard fare.

elephant theme picThey are shooting elephants from helicopters!  But it’s all good.  I recently wrote about the horrors of poachers killing elephants to obtain the ivory from their tusks.  Well good news … some 500 elephants will be relocated to a safe sanctuary in Malawi’s Nkhotakota wildlife reserve.  Eventually the elephants will help increase the elephant population in other parts of Africa where poaching has depleted the species.  Now … how do you think you get 500 elephants from point A to point B?  Well, turns out that you cannot just ask them to form a line and go peacefully. The first step is to shoot them with tranquilizer darts … from a helicopter!  Next, the elephant is hoisted by crane into a crate (can you imagine the size of that crate???), then loaded onto a truck for the 185-mile journey.  The relocation is being done by African Parks, a non-profit group based in Johannesburg, and is expected to be completed sometime next year.  Great work!!!

duckieA rubber-duckie race run amok was raided by police!  A charitable organization in the UK, Midland Freewheelers Blood Bikes, provides free deliveries of blood and medical supplies to hospitals.  They rely solely on donations, so they periodically hold events, such as the rubber-duck race they sponsored in a Cotswolds village last Sunday.  Apparently it was great fun, with over 100 ducks in the water, children gleefully chasing them as they made their way downriver.  Until … the police showed up!  This particular village has been voted one of the most beautiful in Britain, but apparently the residents, while appreciative of beauty, also do not like the sound of people having fun, as they called police saying it was disruptive.  Police broke up the ‘boisterous’ event and there remains doubt whether the group will be able to hold the duck race in that location next year.  My question:  who was there to greet and congratulate the poor duckies at the end of the race?  Sigh.  Do people have nothing better to complain about?

lightning2Indians demand government make treaty with Mother Nature!  It is unclear just what they are asking the government to do, but in a two-day period, at least 93 people died in lightning storms in India, and the farmers are tired of risking their lives.  Lal Babu Usvaha, a farmer from Kanti Butiya village near the city of Muzaffarpur in Bihar, said: “Work is work. We can’t stop because of the weather. We have to keep working in the fields. But we feel scared when we see so many clouds, so much electricity in the sky.  We need help, but what will the government do? What has the government ever done for farmers?”  This is a perilous situation, certainly, and not to be made light of, however I still do not think the government can really do a whole lot to make the lightening go away!