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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunny Sunday Thoughts

And again it is Sunday, a sunny day on Campobello. The mugginess of the past days is gone, the wind direction has changed from south to north, making sitting outside pleasant. So here I am, on our delightful porch, reminiscing and pondering. I have just consumed 2 big mugs of coffee and ditto portions of icecream.
Yesterday, I was just about leaving our driveway when I saw Bruce and his dog coming up the street. I waited for him to come up to the vehicle. Bruce lives in Maine and has a house on the island. We have never hung out together, but met in various places around the island. His house is just up the street and it’s for sale.
As he was standing beside the van, our conversation quickly turned to the current events on the political stage in the U.S.  I know that Bruce is disgusted with the Trump administration, so we rehashed what had happened and why there still seems to be a a third of the American people supporting an insane president. Bruce said the folks he had spoken to always brought up that the alternative would have been Hillary and that so many people hate Hillary’s guts. I don’t doubt that Hillary was the wrong choice for the Dems and that her personal bagage was too heavy to lead to victory, even though she in fact got 3 million more votes than “the Donald”. But it should have been more and her support should have been in more states.

But I think history will run its course. At the end of the day, the overall damage will be huge and it will take many years and maybe several presidents and governments to get the political stage repaired again. Both parties will have to change. The GOP must quit their ultra conservative ways and turn towards modern times, and the Dems must relinquish their “eliterian” thinking and actions increasing their appeal towards the lower income population. Meanwhile, the toll to pay will be remarkable, but every country has lived through problematic times. The U.S. has relinquished its role in world leadership and China is ready to take over. It is the analogy to the Roman Empire, and it puzzles me that the same historic mistakes  are being done over and over and over again, without any sign of learning from the past. The mistakes being that a ruling class is guilty of extortion thus creating inequality. It is human nature to revolt against their rulers after decades of being taken advantage of.

Yet, sitting on our porch, I am satisfied that so many Americans have come to me expressing their horrors and disgust with what is going on in their country. It gives me hope that the majority of Americans have the power to change the direction of their social-political fate. America has always been a beacon of freedom in a world of dictatorships. The bi-elections of 2018 will show whether the will to correct the political course is gonna be strong enough.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Why, Just Why Would God Bless This….?

It’s not so long ago that someone commenting on this blog “excused” the election of Trump as the president of the U.S. by saying that it was God’s will. Besides of the fact that God does not interfere in elections, we can today be pretty confident that God would most certainly have a really bad time today, IF he had interfered in the election of Trump. Instead, we are learning that the Russians have interfered in the election and I just can’t imagine that God wanted that to happen. After all, the Russians have lived as Atheists and had banned all churches during the time of the soviet rule.

But read here what a New Yorker has to say about Trump”:

America in Crisis

July 21, 2017

|

Nat Levine

I've been to Russia 25 times, I've worked for Trump's partners Alex Schnaider and Sam Kislin. I've met Trump 6 times at his charity events and have known him for 30 years. He lost the primaries in New York by 30% percentage points where we know his cons best, he's absolutely clueless.

He fails at everything he does and then he quits with many bankruptcies and frauds. Personally, I would not let him manage a shoe shine stand. Who borrows money at 18% borrowing junk bonds and expects to make a profit ??? Only a thief and an imbecile.

Putting people of color in the back of the casinos and screwing his contractors and employees was the last straw for me. If you don't think that this administration is the most corrupt in the History of U.S. politics, you are a special kind of Stupid. Remember, crocodiles have no friends and they will all go down!!!!!

Russiagate will make Watergate seem like a tea party. Remember, Trump ran as a ruse and not a serious candidate initially as his closet was filled with skeletons. He truly is a Narcissist, a Sociopath and a Pathological liar. The time to Impeach is now. Put pressure on your representatives!!!!! The TRUMPTANIC is sinking and the Rats all want a deal. Things are pretty bad when your lawyers need lawyers​.

The thing I'm most familiar with is the money laundering by taking dirty Russian blood money and buying Trump properties as Trump knew all along. Not only will no contractor do any business with him as he doesn't pay his bills, he also stiffs his attorneys and no bank in the Western hemisphere will loan him even one dollar.

He also stiffs hotels, bankrupts families​ and tips poorly at restaurants. He is the lowest form of human life. He's even charging the Republican party 3 times the actual rent and stealing from his cancer charities. Think about that as pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered. That's only Russia, what about his shady partners in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and many more countries. We need to see those taxes or him to resign.

He has accomplished absolutely nothing during his time in office and his approval rating will continue to fall. Putting a well known scam artist in the oval office was unfathomable to us New Yorkers who know him well. If a candidate loses his own state by 30% percentage points, why would anyone vote for such a con artist filled with empty promises and more baggage than United Airlines.

Not only does Bob Mueller have access to Donald Trump Jr.'s incriminating emails, he also has intercepted text messages from Paul Manafort's daughters implicating their Father for taking $10 million USD in blood money where Russians are always winding up dead whenever he's there. I'm not saying I know how this will unfold, but with bank accounts being subpoenaed plus all texts, emails and taxes, more than 70-80 FISA warrants went out.

Trump can be impeached on Amendment 25 which is the Emoluments clause, but with Mueller hiring special prosecutors to go after Trump personally, it's going to be a shit storm of epic proportions. Keep in mind that Putin is worth $85 Billion Dollars and has a piece of everything of value in Russia and nothing goes on without his approval or you wind up dead. Trump owes the Russian owned Blackstone group an awful lot of money and if he can't deliver by lifting the sanctions, it's not going to be a pretty picture for he and his evil spawn.

We have an illegitimate President who was proven to collude with the Russians to steal the election and in my opinion, the blatant skullduggery and complicity should nullify the election making Hillary Clinton our legitimate President. The lies will end up doing them all in like Flynn but the widespread cover up will bring the whole house of cards down as Mueller is gathering enough data for an airtight case that will tie them all together. It's not if they are going down, it's only a matter of when. Trump's own family will eventually lead to his demise.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

100 Years Ago: The Halifax Explosion

A Newly Discovered Diary Tells the Harrowing Story of the Deadly Halifax Explosion

On the eve of the disaster’s centennial, a sailor’s 1917 journal details a rare eyewitness account of the massive harbor blast.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Halifax aftermath        The aftermath of the explosion. (Library and Archives Canada)

By Marc Wortman

We turn out of our hammocks at 6.30am and lash up and stow in the usual way,” a Royal Navy sailor named Frank Baker wrote in his diary on December 6, 1917. “We fall in on the upper deck at 7am and disperse to cleaning stations, busying ourselves scrubbing decks etc. until 8am when we ‘cease fire’ for breakfast.” Baker was pulling wartime duty as a ship inspector in the harbor of Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the lookout for spies, contraband and saboteurs.

But there were no ships to be inspected that day, so after breakfast he and his crewmates aboard HMCS Acadia went back to their cleaning stations. “We...had just drawn soap and powder and the necessary utensils for cleaning paint work,” he wrote, “when the most awful explosion I ever heard or want to hear again occurred.”

What Frank Baker heard was the biggest explosion of the pre-atomic age, a catastrophe of almost biblical proportions. The 918 words he wrote for December 6 make up the only eyewitness account known to be written on the day of what is now called the Halifax Explosion. After World War I, his diary sat unread for decades. Now, it has been included in an exhibit on the explosion’s centennial at the Dartmouth Heritage Museum, across the harbor from Halifax. It is published here for the first time.

“The first thud shook the ship from stem to stern and the second one seemed to spin us all around, landing some [crew members] under the gun carriage and others flying in all directions all over the deck,” Baker wrote. Sailors 150 miles out to sea heard the blast. On land, people felt the jolt 300 miles away. The shock wave demolished almost everything within a half-mile. “Our first impression was that we were being attacked by submarines, and we all rushed for the upper deck, where we saw a veritable mountain of smoke of a yellowish hue and huge pieces of iron were flying all around us.”

Unseen by Baker, two ships had collided in the Narrows, a strait linking a wide basin with the harbor proper, which opens into the Atlantic to the southeast. An outbound Belgian relief ship, the Imo, had strayed off course. An inbound French freighter, the Mont-Blanc, couldn’t get out of its way. The Imo speared the Mont-Blanc at an angle near its bow. The freighter carried 2,925 tons of high explosives, including 246 tons of benzol, a highly flammable motor fuel, in drums lashed to its deck. Some of the drums toppled and ruptured. Spilled benzol caught fire. The Mont-Blanc’s crew, unable to contain the flames, abandoned ship.

The ghost vessel burned and drifted for about 15 minutes, coming to rest against a pier along the Halifax shore. Thousands of people on their way to work, already working at harborside jobs, or at home in Halifax and Dartmouth, stopped in their tracks to watch.

Then the Mont-Blanc blew.

“A shower of shrapnel passed over the Forecastle, shattering the glass in the engine room and chart room to smithereens, which came crashing down into the alleyways,” Baker wrote. “...The fires all burst out on to the floor of the stokehold [the engine room’s coal storage] and it was a marvel that the stokers were not burned to death, but all of them escaped injury as did all the other of the ship’s company.

“A tug was alongside us at the time and part of her side was torn completely out and three of the crew were injured, one of them getting a piece of flesh weighing nearly 2 pounds torn off his leg. A hail of shrapnel descended about 20 yards from the ship, this came with such force that had it struck us we should certainly have all been lost.”

The Mont-Blanc had disintegrated, showering iron fragments and black tar across Halifax; the shaft of its anchor, weighing 1,140 pounds, spiked into the earth more than two miles away. The explosion tore a hole in the harbor bottom, unleashing a tidal wave that tossed ships as if they were bathtub toys and washed away a Mi’kmaq fishing settlement that had been at the northwestern end of the basin for centuries. A volcanic plume of gray smoke, sparkling fragments and flame rose miles into the sky before billowing outward.

“This was the last of the explosion, the whole of which had taken place inside of five minutes,...” Baker wrote. “Then came a lull of a few minutes and when the smoke had cleared sufficiently, we saw clearly what had happened....One ship had been hurled wholesale for a distance of about 400 yards, dashing it close to the shore, a total wreck with dead bodies battered and smashed lying all around in disorder.

“Fires broke out on ships all around and hundreds of small crafts had been blown to hell and the sea presented an awful scene of debris and wreckage. Our doctor attended to the wounded men on the tug as quickly as possible and we laid them on stretchers in a motor boat and took them to hospital. The scene ashore was even worse.

“The N.W. part of Halifax was in total ruins and fires were springing up all over the city. Part of the railway was completely demolished and everywhere were dead and dying among the ruins. When we arrived at the hospital, the windows were all blown out and the wards were two feet deep in water owing to all the pipes having burst. We had to return to our ship as quickly as possible, as we are Guard Ship and responsible for the safety of the other vessels in harbour.”

Halifax explosion 001Halifax Explosion 002Halifax Explosion 003

Back on the Acadia, Baker beheld a desolate scene: “What a few hours before had been beautiful vessels, were now terrible wrecks, their crews all dead and bodies, arms, etc. were floating around in the water.” That afternoon the Acadia’s crew was called upon to quell a mutiny aboard the Eole, a French ship running relief for the Belgians. After doing so, they returned to their ship. “We quickly got hurried tea and proceeded ashore,” Baker wrote. “Here the scene was absolutely indescribable.

“The town was literally ablaze, the dry dock and dockyard buildings completely demolished and everywhere wounded and dead. The theatres and suitable buildings were all turned into hospitals or shelters for the accommodation of the homeless. Naval and Military pickets were patrolling the streets endeavouring to keep order. Poor little kiddies homeless, their parents having perished, were crying piteously and anxious relatives were inquiring for their dear ones.”

Virtually no family was untouched. By then, most of the nearly 2,000 known fatalities from the blast had occurred—though many bodies were unidentifiable. Some 9,000 were injured, many of them children—wounded in the face and eyes as they gazed out windows at the burning Mont-Blanc. Some 6,000 people were left homeless, and many thousands had to bed down in badly damaged houses. The coming morning would bring a blizzard and deep cold.

Ashore, “we visited the part where the fires were at their worst, and it is beyond me to describe the absolute terror of the situation,” Baker wrote. “For miles around nothing but a flaming inferno, charred bodies being dragged from the debris and those poor devils who were left still lingering were piled into motor wagons and conveyed to one of the improvised hospitals. We returned to our ship at 11pm sick at heart with the appalling misery with which the city abounded. The glare from the fires lighting the harbour up like day, on the other side of the bay, the little town of Dartmouth was also in flames on sea and land nothing but misery, death and destruction....I cannot help but marvel that we escaped.”

But Baker survived, and he served until March 1919. Then he settled in Kettering, about 80 miles north of London, with his diary, October 9, 1917, to January 14, 1918. In 1924, he married Jessie Liddington, from the nearby village of Pytchley; they had four sons. Eventually, he became head of a chain of butcher shops and meat-supply facilities. After retiring, in 1973, he moved to Australia, where two of his sons and many of his grandchildren were living. Two years later, he learned he had cancer.

At that point, he passed the diary and some photographs from his time aboard the Acadia to his son “without any explanation,” the son, Rex, told me. After his father died, in 1977, “I put them away and forgot about them for over 30 years.”

Only after Rex retired—he’s 72 now, and living in Busselton, a seaside town south of Perth—did he pull the diary from the bureau drawer where he’d stowed it. Once he read it, he suspected that it might have historical significance, so in January 2016 he contacted Bonnie Elliott, director of the Dartmouth Heritage Museum. When she read it, she says, “I fell off a log. I knew this diary was really important.”

Rex Baker carried the diary himself to Canada. While there, he boarded the Acadia, which is now a floating museum in Halifax Harbor, for the first time. Elliott met him as he stepped off the ship. “There were tears in his eyes,” she recalls.

Baker says his father “spoke to no one in the family about that experience at all.” After reading the diary, though, he says that as he walked about the Acadia, “I felt almost a presence. Like he was standing behind me.”

                  ------------------------------------------------------------------

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

He Lost His Life By Saving A Whale

Man killed trying to rescue whale in Gulf of St. Lawrence

The Campobello Island community is mourning Joe Howlett, the man who was killed Monday while trying to rescue a whale in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“There’s only 850 people here on Campobello Island now and Joe was a very lively character, he had a great sense of humour. Everybody knew Joe Howlett and everybody respected Joe Howlett,” said Stephen Smart, mayor of Campobello Island, which is located in southwestern New Brunswick near the U.S. border.

“It’s a big blow.”

Fisheries and Oceans Canada confirmed there was a fatal incident on July 10 involving an individual aboard one of its vessels.

“The department is deeply saddened by this incident and sends its thoughts and condolences to the individual’s family,” spokesperson Krista Petersen wrote in an email.

‘He was a very brave man’

Smart said Howlett, a father and husband, had been working to rescue a whale at the time he died.

“He did it for years, he was good at it and had a lot of successes. I’m sure for him, I sure it was just another day at work … he was a very brave man, a very good man and was doing something he believed in,” said Smart.

“If there’s any silver lining, he was helping, right? It’s a very, very steep price to pay.”

CBC News contacted the Canadian Whale Institute, a marine life conservation group that had worked with Howlett in the past, on Monday night. 

Howlett was in the boat when the suddenly liberated whale did something that led to the 59-year-old's death, although the details were not yet clear.

"The whale apparently swam away free from the gear," Jerry Conway, an adviser with the Campobello Whale Rescue Team, said Tuesday.

"The whale responded in a way that ultimately killed Joe."

Typically, a vessel will back off immediately after a rescue because whales do respond in seconds to being set free, Conway said.

Conway said it can take hours to disentangle some of the whales. While they are entangled they can't move very much, which makes it easy to work with them.

Rescuers are faced with all kinds of dangers, he said, including getting entangled in rope themselves, being dragged over the side of the boat, or being tipped into the water if a whale throws itself around and upsets the boat.

But Howlett, who co-founded the Campobello rescue team in 2002, felt a responsibility to save whales and was always thrilled when he could disentangle one from ropes.

"Once he finished the cut, and the rope fell away, you couldn't find a man more excited and happy than Joe for having  accomplished this, and seeing the whale swim away free," said Conway, a friend for 18 years.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4007100/brave-fisherman-killed-by-the-same-70-tonne-whale-he-had-rescued-just-moments-earlier/

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/fisherman-killed-rescuing-whale_us_596651e7e4b09b587d642cb1

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/11/canada-fisherman-killed-by-whale-after-rescuing-it

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/us-suspends-efforts-free-tangled-whales-death-48611077

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/07/13/us/politics/ap-us-tangled-whales.html

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/n-b-island-mourns-loss-of-fisherman-who-freed-dozens-of-entangled-whales-1.3497691

http://www.lessentiel.lu/de/panorama/story/29228163

http://www.bento.de/today/kanadischer-fischermann-rettet-dutzende-wale-nun-wurde-er-von-einem-getoetet-1504112/

British Columbia Is Burning

With the summer came thunderstorms and bone-dry weather conditions to British Columbia. Aggressive wildfires have burned more than 236 square kilometres of B.C. so far this year. Of the more than 550 fires the province has seen since April, nearly half were ignited in the last two weeks.

Fire ecologist Robert Gray says moisture in March in April combined with warmer temperatures to create more vegetation.

In the B.C. Interior, that means mostly shrubs and long grasses that quickly dry into kindling. And then there are all the dead pine trees ravaged by years of pine beetle infestation.

"Now we have the kind of fuel that makes fires grow very, very fast and very, very big," Gray said.

'Nothing really we can offer'

Warmer temperatures in the past two weeks alone were enough to dry the grassland out.

And then came the dry lightning and winds. An estimated 14,000 residents have already been evacuated.

BC burning

Over 10,000 residents of Williams Lake and its surrounding areas are under an evacuation alert late Monday with fires burning up large chunks of B.C.

It is the largest city currently facing such a threat after weeks of hot weather, followed by strong wind and lightning ignited the bone-dry forest of B.C.'s Interior on Friday, leading to a weekend of wildfires, road closures, evacuations and a provincial state of emergency.