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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Native American Woman May Have Made It to Europe 500 Years Before Columbus Was Born

Five hundred years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, a Native American woman may have voyaged to Europe with Vikings, according to a provocative new DNA study.

The first Native American to arrive in Europe may have been a woman brought to Iceland by the Vikings more than 1,000 years ago, a study by Spanish and Icelandic researchers suggests. .
The findings boost widely-accepted theories, based on Icelandic medieval texts and a reputed Viking settlement in Newfoundland in Canada, that the Vikings reached the American continent several centuries before Christopher Columbus traveled to the "New World.".
Spain's CSIC scientific research institute said genetic analysis of around 80 people from a total of four families in Iceland showed they possess a type of DNA normally only found in Native Americans or East Asians. .
"It was thought at first that (the DNA) came from recently established Asian families in Iceland," CSIC researcher Carles Lalueza-Fox was quoted as saying in a statement by the institute. "But when family genealogy was studied, it was discovered that the four families were descended from ancestors who lived between 1710 and 1740 from the same region of southern Iceland." .
The lineage found, named C1e, is also mitochondrial, which means that the genes were introduced into Iceland by a woman. .
"As the island was virtually isolated from the 10th century, the most likely hypothesis is that these genes corresponded to an Amerindian woman who was brought from America by the Vikings around the year 1000," said Lalueza-Fox.


The researchers used data from the Rejkjavik-based genomics company deCODE Genetics. .
He said the research team hopes to find more instances of the same Native American DNA in Iceland's population, starting in the same region in the south of the country near the massive Vatnajokull glacier. .
The report, by scientists from the CSIC and the University of Iceland, was also published in the latest edition of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

The journal said 75 to 80 percent of contemporary Icelanders can trace their lineage to Scandinavia and the rest to Scotland and Ireland.

But the C1e lineage is "one of a handful that was involved in the settlement of the Americas around 14,000 years ago. .
"Contrary to an initial assumption that this lineage was a recent arrival (in Iceland), preliminary genealogical analyses revealed that the C1 lineage was present in the Icelandic mitochondrial DNA pool at least 300 years ago" said the journal. "This raised the intriguing possibility that the Icelandic C1 lineage could be traced to Viking voyages to the Americas that commenced in the 10th century.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Told Ya So: Big Words - Big Lies

Carrier workers facing layoffs feel betrayed by Trump

INDIANAPOLIS -- A promise made before Christmas is fizzling before the Fourth of July.

In December, then-President-elect Trump told hundreds of workers at the Carrier manufacturing plant that he had worked out a deal to save their jobs.

But it's not working out that way. A steady downpour today did little to wash away the fact that the jobs of 600 union employees are going south.

"They're going to Monterrey, Mexico," said Robert James, president of the local union.

Reynolds said he felt betrayed, since Mr. Trump told workers during his December visit to the plant that 1,100 jobs would be saved.

Trump touts Carrier jobs deal in fiery victory rally


Trump touts Carrier jobs deal in fiery victory rally

"And by the way, that number is going to go up very substantially as they expand this area, this plant," Mr. Trump said. "So the 1,100 is going to be a minimum number."

Blasting companies for moving American jobs abroad was a feature of the Trump campaign, and saving the Carrier jobs was touted as a sign of Mr. Trump's bargaining prowess.

"You're going to have a good Christmas," he said at the plant.

But the truth is that 400 of the 1,100 jobs Mr. Trump mentioned were white-collar positions that were never going away.

Only 700 union jobs were saved. Six hundred others will be lost, and Carrier is not paying a price. The company actually received a $7 million incentive package from Indiana to keep the plant open with a reduced work force.

"That is what he said was not going to happen," James said. "That's what he told all of us."

"And a lot of these people voted for Mr. Trump" with the understanding that he would save their jobs, James added.

Duane Oreskovic voted for the president, and is among those losing their jobs.

"I liked this job. This was a job that I actually wanted to retire from," Oreskovic said. "It's not going to happen any more."

At the White House Friday, press secretary Sean Spicer said the job cuts here were long-planned and nothing new.

The first round of layoffs will take effect next month, and the second in December -- three days before Christmas.

Friday, June 23, 2017

CALIFORNIA Has It’s Own “Travel Ban” ……Against Other US States


California adds 4 states to travel ban for laws it says discriminate against LGBTQ community

CNN)California has issued a ban on state-funded and state-sponsored travel to four more states that it says have laws discriminating against LGBTQ people.

The travel ban was first put into effect January 1 when state measure AB 1887 became law. The law says California is "a leader in protecting civil rights and preventing discrimination" and should not support or finance "discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people."

The travel ban list also includes states that California believes don't protect religious freedoms and states that it says use religious freedom as a basis of discrimination.

"Our country has made great strides in dismantling prejudicial laws that have deprived too many of our fellow Americans of their precious rights. Sadly, that is not the case in all parts of our nation, even in the 21st century," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement Thursday.

Why the ban?

Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee were the original states banned by AB 1887, but Becerra added Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas on Thursday, citing what he called new discriminatory legislation enacted against the LGBTQ community in those states.

Alabama, North Dakota, and Texas all recently passed legislation that could prevent LGBT parents from adopting or fostering children and Kentucky passed a religious freedom bill that would allow students to exclude LGBTQ classmates from campus groups.

lt gov dan patrick texas lawmakers bathroom bill sot_00002530

Texas official: Women want to be protected

"While the California DOJ works to protect the rights of all our people, discriminatory laws in any part of our country send all of us several steps back," Becerra said. "That's why when California said we would not tolerate discrimination against LGBTQ members of our community, we meant it."

The law bans state-funded or state-sponsored travel by employees of state agencies and departments as well as members of boards, authorities, and commissions.

Support for the list

The ACLU of Northern California and Rick Zbur with Equality California applauded the state's decision to widen the ban.

"These discriminatory laws in Texas, North Carolina, North Dakota, and other states are completely out of step with the values that make California the vibrant economic powerhouse that it is," Zbur said. "It is imperative that California continue to denounce those actions publicly and financially."

There are exceptions to the ban, however. For example, if travel is required to maintain grant funding or licensure, or for auditing and revenue collection purposes.

And of course, anyone can travel to any of the states on the list in a personal capacity.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Playing Peekabo

I did, I did not, I did, I did not…… 

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump finally, grudgingly, had no choice but to come clean.

His admission, on Twitter Thursday that he did not secretly record his conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey -- after earlier raising the possibility that he did -- capped a six-week charade that damaged his presidency and cast doubt on his personal credibility.

It was a surreal new twist to a presidency that has often already stretched the limits of credulity, and has challenged conventions on the decorum and gravity expected in the behavior of the person who holds the office itself.

    Trump: I did not make recordings of Comey

    Trump: I did not make recordings of Comey

    After weeks of speculation, the President delivered a mea culpa, a step that he had little choice to make, in a somewhat resentful manner, in keeping with his reluctance to ever publicly admit error.

    "With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, “I have no idea ... whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings," Trump wrote in a pair of tweets.


    Never ever has there been a more self-destructive President in the United States. Now, of course everybody knows that also all of his other phantastic and creative “inventions” are just that ……phantasy.

    Sunday, June 18, 2017

    It’s All Toast Now

    Semi full of hamburger buns is toast after fire!

    Motorists on the Trans-Canada Highway near Falcon Lake, Manitoba smelled burnt toast Saturday afternoon, but everyone was OK.

    Buns to toast

    However, the smell wasn’t originating from some restaurant or roadside eatery, but  a semi, carrying a load of hamburger buns destined for Costco, had caught fire due to an issue with the brakes.

    Good thing is that nobody was hurt in the accident.

    RCMP were called to the scene, nine kilometres west of the popular Whiteshell beach, at 3:20 p.m.

    The story reminded med of an accident many years ago when a truck loaded with salmon had crashed into the forest. The accident happened during the winter on an icy road in Norway, and we happened to drive along the place where fish were strewn all along the ditch.

    And only a few weeks ago a truck driver tried to swerve out of the way for a deer crossing the road when he lost control over his rig and crashed with a full load of lobster.According to witnesses parts of the area were”carpeted” with lobster. I bet a lot of that lobster disappeared in the kitchens of private homes in the neighbourhood.

    Saturday, June 17, 2017

    His Negotiations Led To The Fall Of The Wall

    A big man has left this world. He always made his counterparts look small, and that quite literally.
    Helmut Kohl, Ex-Chancellor of Germany was a tall figure in life and tall in politics.

                                        Helmut Kohl died June 16 2017

    Kohl's 16-year tenure was the longest of any German Chancellor since Otto von Bismarck. He oversaw the end of the Cold War and is widely regarded as the mastermind of German reunification, leading to the fall of the wall. Together with French President Fran├žois Mitterrand, Kohl is considered to be the architect of the Maastricht Treaty, which established the European Union (EU) and the euro currency.

    Following the breach of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the East German Communist regime in 1989, Kohl's handling of the East German issue would become the turning point of his chancellorship. Kohl, like most West Germans, was initially caught unaware when the East-German Socialist Unity Party (SED) was toppled in late 1989. Well aware of his constitutional mandate to seek German unity, he immediately moved to make it a reality. Taking advantage of the historic political changes occurring in East Germany, Kohl presented a ten-point plan for "Overcoming of the division of Germany and Europe" without consulting his coalition partner, the FDP, or the Western Allies. In February 1990, he visited the Soviet Union seeking a guarantee from Mikhail Gorbachev that the USSR would allow German reunification to proceed. One month later, the Party of Democratic Socialism – the renamed SED – was roundly defeated by a grand coalition headed by the East German counterpart of Kohl's CDU, which ran on a platform of speedy reunification.

    On 18 May 1990, Kohl signed an economic and social union treaty with East Germany.  By then East Germany was in a state of utter collapse.


    Helmut Kohl was a politician who favored an open Europe, a Europe with no borders where people could move freely and seek work where ever they liked. Today we know that his idea has met a few difficulties, mostly rooted in huge economic differences between the countries of the European Union. Recent developments in the Middle East and ongoing unrest and starvation in Africa have caused that millions of people are migrating to the most economically favorable areas of Europe. Europe will still have to face the challenge of an unprecedented pressure on immigration and It will finally lead to a change in European culture. But walls and fences are not the answer. The answer is peace and prosperity in the countries of origin, a goal which will be very hard to reach and may take many future generations. It will also teach us patience and will require leaders with the vision to aim for a peaceful co-existence in a multi-cultural society.

    Friday, June 16, 2017

    When Franklin Delano Roosevelt Served Hot Dogs to a King

    A king had never visited a president at home before, but by all accounts they got along fine

    By Kat Eschner
    It was a watershed moment in British-American statesmanship.

    FDR King George

    King George and Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King ride in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's car as the president drives them away from church on June 11, 1939.

    A sitting British ruler visited an American president—Franklin Delano Roosevelt—on his home turf. The four-day excursion “featured all the staples of a royal visit: a sight-seeing tour of Washington, a formal State Dinner and a big bash at the British Embassy,” writes Jason English for Mental Floss. But there were more casual moments, too: like the picnic where the king had his first-ever hot dog.

    George visited with Queen Elizabeth (better remembered today as “the Queen Mum”). On June 11, 1939, the royal pair joined FDR and others at his Hyde Park “cottage” (read: mansion) in New York for a less-formal picnic. The menu, as quoted by English, included “Hot Dogs (if weather permits).” Thankfully, the weather held.

    “KING TRIES HOT DOG AND ASKS FOR MORE” was the headline The New York Times ran with the next day. According to reporter Felix Belair Jr., the King enjoyed his two hot dogs with beer, and away from prying eyes: although members of the party had cameras, “no reporters were present and regular photographers were barred.”

    “In the formal language of diplomacy, perhaps, the presentation of a hot dog may say: ‘On behalf of the United States of America, may we offer you this tubular delight of meat, meat byproducts, curing agents and spices?’” writes Dan Barry for the Times. “But what it really says is: ‘How ya doin’? Wanna beer?’”

    The sitting president likely expressed himself in slightly less colloquial terms. But the picnic was an opportunity to meet Americans with their hair down—or at least more casually styled. “It would be difficult to imagine a more representative cross-section of American democracy than was to be found among the relatives, friends and neighbors of the Roosevelts who received invitations to the picnic,” Belair wrote. The royals also met the Roosevelts’ staff, including one employee who brought nine of his ten children.

    But the British pair needed some etiquette advice to navigate this new social setting, Barry writes. While the hot dogs were served on a silver tray, he writes, “the royal guests nevertheless joined everyone else in eating off paper plates.” According to one story, the queen supposedly asked Roosevelt how one ate a hotdog. “Very simple. Push it into your mouth and keep pushing it until it is all gone,” he is said to have told her. She elected to use a knife and fork instead of taking this folksy advice.

    FDR even drove the party up to the cottage in “his own specially equipped automobile,” Belair reported, and after lunch the king and the president went swimming together for the second time. Previously, they’d shared the pool that the paralyzed Roosevelt had installed at the White House to help him get exercise.  

    But the visit wasn’t all charming picnics. According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, the trip was a diversion from the royals' Canadian tour undertaken in the shadow of World War II, which broke out in Europe just months later. King George’s notes from the visit reveal that Canada’s Prime Minister Mackenzie King briefly joined the leaders at Hyde Park to talk strategy.

    In his 1938 invitation to the king, Roosevelt also suggested he visit the 1939 World's Fair in New York, and wrote that Hyde Park might be a good place for a visit, as it's "on the direct route between New York City and Canada." "It occurs to me that a Canadian trip would be crowded with formalities and that you both might like three or four days of very simple country life at Hyde Park," he wrote. With war on the way, though, even that diversion had to include some business.

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

    Welcome Pensionist!

    I still cannot believe it, but today it happened. I am officially a pensionist. At least if we go by most countries standards. In Norway I would have a grace period of another 2 years, but I am not in Norway, and Canada is paying me a pension from next month.
    1-DSC_0364                             Chocolate Cake made by Bea
    So does anything change? Are my days gonna be any different than yesterday?  Not likely.

    But thinking back to my days of childhood, … grandfather was living in the same house. It was US who lived in HIS house. I was 10 years old and my grandpa was 65 years old. I always thought he was VERY old. My dad was just 37 and mom had just turned 35.
    I shamefully remember that I, at age 24, once called a young beautiful lady  “……are you THAT old?” ….when she was just 36.

    Oh my…

    I was just 43 when I bought a car and asked the salesman who the previous owner had been.
    Looking at me he said: It also was an elderly gentleman. I must have given him a look, cause he apologized to me.

    So, I guess age is relative to our point of view. My dad is 92 this year and to him I am just a spring chicken.

    Maybe that’s the way we should look at ourselves……and eat the cake.

    Tuesday, June 13, 2017

    Doomed to Repeat: Debunking the Conservative Story about the Financial Crisis and Dodd-Frank

    Are conservatives suffering from memory loss? House Republicans passed the Choice Act on Thursday, a sweeping deregulation of the financial sector based off a false narrative about the Dodd-Frank Act and the 2007-2008 financial crisis. In his powerful New York Times op-ed, Roosevelt Fellow Mike Konczal debunks these conservative Dodd-Frank myths.

    In response to the 2007-08 Financial Crisis that cost the United States more than $20 trillion, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act on July 21, 2010 with the aim of overhauling the dysfunctional regulatory regime. In the years since, the wide-reaching reforms mandated by Dodd-Frank have provided key protections to consumers and stability to the banking system. Thanks to such reforms, banks and the US capital markets have emerged from the Financial Crisis more resilient than before and regulators are now better equipped to respond to future crises and regulatory challenges.

    Yet, according to conservative narrative, there is simply no need for financial reform. The Trump Administration and conservatives in Congress have actively pursued ways to unravel Dodd-Frank based on an account of the Financial Crisis that differs drastically from the conventional wisdom. The conservative worldview is shaped by a series of arguments generated by conservative think tanks, media, political action groups, and industry lobbyists. This paper provides a broad outline of their arguments and how they differ from what has actually happened.

    Read more here.

    Sunday, June 11, 2017

    Thank You Donald For Making It All So Clear!

    At least since the bestseller "World Power USA - An Obituary" by Emmanuel Todd, we know that America is in decline. Only - we just did not want to believe it..

    For most, the US was the nursery of freedom, the Main Street sign of liberal democracy.

    Today we know better. The strive for ownership over the oil resources has led to the Iraq wars. The second war against this Third World country could be justified only with the most daring lies about chemical weapons against the world.

    As a result, the entire Middle East was thrown into absolute chaos.

    From the peace keeper to creator of unrest.

    America has long since mutated from the international force for order and peace(WWII) into a creator of unrest in the world.

    After the World Trade Center attacks, the US moved from injured and sympathetic America, to become a narcissistic, unpredictable and aggressive America that today gives the impression of absolute irresponsibility.

    If we still had the impression that President Bush jr. at least was still guided by his advisors, today, the most powerful man in the world acts completely detached by utilizing Twitter.

    But why should we thank Him?

    Because Donald Trump, the narcissistic psychopath, today also eviscerates the last doubt that the imperial power of the United States desperately struggles for its position in the world.

    Let us hope that America's isolated position will ensure that the nation's move into a position of lesser importance will be largely calm, and that the country will find its place among equals, without  a major shift in world politics.

    North Korea or USA - who is more dangerous?

    The development of shale oil deposits in the interior makes the Middle East increasingly uninteresting for the USA. Imperious threats against weak opponents are actually obsolete, if it wouldn’t be for the old doctrine of Carl von Clausewitz: "Do you have internal political problems - create an external enemy".

    The American struggle for oil and fear of loss of political significance in the United States has pushed the Middle East into chaos and given Europe its results - the great refugee crisis; But also the Islamic terror.

    Although Europe owes this crisis to the US, America is not interested in solving the refugee crisis, but Donald Trump uses ISIS as the much needed external enemy. His irresponsibility does not surface through diplomatical phrases, but openly as "America First" - everything else does not matter.

    Thanks Donald: We owe this to you. Hopefully, you will last four years. Because it is to be feared that after a successful resignation or impeachment procedure everything would go on as before and this episode would be classified as a political slip. But that is not so. Only the results of a catastropic 4 years of Trumpism can make America wake up again of a bad dream and correct its course.

    America must join the equal rights league of the free world if it does not want to lose its influence even more.

    And it is time for European politicians to understand this and to stand up to America accordingly. The analysis of Emmanuel Todd has shown that democracies are weakening where they were strong and grow stronger where they were weak.

    From democracy to oligarchy

    The further development of a formerly strong democracy has already been described by Aristotle 2500 years ago; It is the oligarchy that follows the (strong) democracy. A process that can be seen nicely in the USA.

    Democracy first strengthened through a general and broad education of the population, happening during the years 1950 to 1965 in the USA. It was the American universalism making America loved and admired almost everywhere in the whole world.

    The further developed differentiation of the level of education resulted in an "overclass", which was no longer willing to submit to the democratic rules of the game, because it considers itself to be something better.

    Experts are appalled. The oligarchization tendency is emerging. The European dream is to learn from the mistakes of the USA, especially since the sociology of Europe, with the exception of England, shows that the individualism is not as strongly developed.

    Europe versus the USA

    Europe must ultimately emancipate itself from the paternalism of the USA. 321 million Americans are facing 743 million Europeans with a much more efficient industry, a better functioning health care system and relatively stable old-age provision, as well as a much more modern and intact infrastructure. The US trade deficit against almost every country on earth shows only one thing: the USA are dependent on the rest of the world and not vice versa. The US lives and consumes at the expense of the rest of the world. As a trade deficit simply means that a society imports more than it exports, consumes more than produces. It is the same problem that Greece has, just on a very different scale. Thus, the next financial and economic crisis is pre-programmed.

    "Thanks Donald", that you are making this American problem so clear to us all. Now, despite its own identity crisis, Europe must show the strength it owes to its position in the world. Now Europe must go its own way. Not blindly following the American model and entering the so-called neo-liberal path to the oligarchy but creating a social and free liberal Europe. How is it so apt to say: "The smart one learns from its own faults - the wise one from the faults of the others."

    Can we be wise? It remains exciting.

    Wednesday, June 7, 2017

    Canada Denounces US Leadership

    Canada’s Foreign Policy Minister Chrystia Freeland is charting a major new course for the country – says Canada will need to step up its leadership role around the world in response to Trump’s failed policies. It says it can’t count on the United States anymore.

    Canadian flag

    “The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership, puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course,” she said.

    “For Canada, that course must be the renewal, indeed the strengthening, of the postwar multilateral order. We will follow this path, with open hands and open hearts extended to our American friends, seeking to make common cause as we have so often in the past.”

    She went on to praise the U.S. for its role in the past but says voters in the last election have cast doubt on America’s ability to lead due to the person they put in the White House.

    Freeland said there was “deep disappointment” with Trump’s policies on trade and climate change specifically.

    Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is expected to release more details on what they plan to do next – but that the major change was that Canada is starting to realize they can’t count on the United States to provide them protection anymore.

    “To rely solely on the U.S. security umbrella would make us a client state. And although we have an incredibly good relationship with our American friends and neighbours, such a dependence would not be in Canada’s interest,” she said.

    Tuesday, June 6, 2017

    The Coalminer’s Daughter isn’t Coming Back

    When there aren’t really any positives to report about…

    The White House Exaggerated the Growth of Coal Jobs by About 5,000 Percent

    Donald Trump’s EPA head is touting bad statistics in defense of a foolish policy.

    Jim Urquhart / Reuters

    On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, claimed that the U.S. has created 50,000 jobs in the coal sector since the fourth quarter of 2016. The statistic carries an important message for the White House. Trump has brought extraordinary attention to the decline of coal jobs, for which he’s blamed Obama-imposed regulations. Coal’s immediate bounce-back would represent a major early win for a president who has made promises to revive the economy of the 1950s, when mining was more dominant.

    But Pruitt’s statistic wasn’t just flagrantly incorrect. It’s being used to support a nonsensical argument that the United States should orient its global policy based on a sector employing 0.03 percent of the economy, as there are fewer coal mining workers than there are people employed at Carl's Jr. franchises or Disney World.

    Quite simply, the coal sector has added about 1,000 jobs since October 2016—not 50,000. Coal could not have added 50,000 jobs in the last eight months, since that is essentially the size of the entire coal industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pruitt’s statistic would otherwise imply that entire coal mining industry started in October. (Perhaps he meant 50,000 total mining jobs, but the vast majority of those positions have nothing to do with coal jobs; indeed, natural gas-mining workers might even be replacing them.)

    Is Pruitt at least directionally correct that coal mining has sprung back to life under Trump? That’s a hard case to make. Coal-mining jobs grew by 1,000 in the five months between July and November 2016, when Trump was elected. Coal mining jobs grew by 1,000 in the five months between January and May 2017, when Trump was president. Not much acceleration there.

    Trump has blamed Barack Obama for the steep decline in coal jobs in his first seven years in office. This is part of a longer trend. The number of people employed in coal mining fell from 178,000 in 1986 to 86,000 when Obama became president, and then declined rapidly in the last eight years. Why?

    While the Trump administration focuses on Obama’s environmental regulations, Charles D. Kolstad, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, says a confluence of factors dating back to the 1970s are the better place to look. First, railroad deregulation in the 1970s made it cheaper for coal mined west of the Mississippi—which has been more productive for decades—to be shipped across the country. Since then, western coal output has grown by 200 percent, as more labor-intensive mining east of the Mississippi has declined. Second, new fracking technology and the natural-gas revolution shifted fossil-fuel production away from coal, as solar and wind technologies expanded. Natural gas's share of U.S. electricity has tripled since the late 1980s, growing by almost the exact share that coal has lost. In short, coal’s long decline has several structural causes, and it’s unlikely that environmental policies will dramatically improve the prospects of the industry. “We’re just simply never going to go back to the 1950s and the 1960s in terms of coal-mining jobs,” Ben Bernanke, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, recently told Vox.

    But there is a broader point here. The Trump administration has held up coal miners and the steel industry as favored classes, worthy beneficiaries of the administration’s “America First” approach to governance. "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," Trump said in a speech defending his decision to pull out of the Paris Accords. But it’s strange to build a national economic policy—much less a global diplomatic policy—around an economic sector that employs just 50,000 people, far less than the number of jobs in the solar industry. In fact, Pittsburgh itself stands as evidence that coal and steel are no longer central to the economy: The city has dramatically changed its industrial mix since the 1970s and its largest employers today include the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Carnegie Mellon University.

    When discussing coal jobs, Pruitt didn’t just demonstrate a disturbing carelessness with the truth. What’s worse, these bogus statistics are being used to support a backward policy, in which Trump is retreating from the United States’ global leadership position on climate change to save a handful of jobs in a small, structurally declining industry—when really, the future of economic growth is actually a lot like Pittsburgh’s—in technology, health care, and education.

    Sunday, June 4, 2017

    I’m Sooo Ready For Summer

    The month of May has been a real bummer and no summer. Lots of rain and cold wind blowing across the island hasn’t been too inviting.

    Starting on June, the forecasted temperatures are showing some inclination for warming up a tad. Cherry blossom went over so fast I hardly saw them before they fell victim to inclement weather. I guess some apple trees are stillig showing blossoms, but it will be over soon as well.

    What comes afterwards, we used to call summer and after the longest time the lilacs are finally in bloom.  I love lilacs for their big blooms and strong fragrance. Our purple lilac on the front house corner has made up for the long wait with extra many blooms this year, but the white lilac is also beautiful.

    1-DSC_0350 1-DSC_0353

    1-DSC_0352 1-DSC_0351

    The better weather has made for a long number of projects I have been doing for our neighbours and in our own yard.

    Repairing a deck down at the harbour has been a nice thing to spend time on and now I have started to install steel roofing on our garage.    


    And the shop I built a few years ago, is finally getting fully shingled1-DSC_0355

    So much to do!


    The firewood shed is nearing completion as well.  The “siding” on the shed is set up with open slats so the wind can get in drying the firewood.

    And like migrating birds summer visitors have been pouring on to the island as well.Very good for business.


    I am really ready for summer.

    Friday, June 2, 2017

    Never Before….

    Never before has a United States President been so far off reality.
    Never before has a United States President been laughed at all over the world, and that without being funny.
    Never before has a United States President been  ignorant  of 75% of the U.S. population.
    Never before has a sitting U.S. President condemned the entire established press corps and called them fake news.

    Trump has now gone too far. His decision to leave the Paris climate agreement has angered the CEOs of many major American companies.
    1-Fullscreen capture 622017 81425 PM1-Fullscreen capture 622017 75054 PM"Donald Trump is such a pariah figure that companies want zero association with his brand," one CEO said. "He's championing dirty air and polluted water. He's anti-science. Why would a Fortune 500 CEO want to be associated with that?"

    Why would ANYBODY want to be associated with Trump?  Well, I guess we know the reason. Trump is still using the language of the non-college population. He is still broadcasting his simple man-on-the-street solutions, which are largely beyond existing reality. By doing that he is showing to all that he is not fit to be President and the leader of the free world. And he is certainly not fit to be Commander in Chief of the American forces. And may be worst of it all: He is not learning of his catastrophic mistakes.

    It's not just Trump's latest decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement -- a pact that 194 other nations have signed. That was only the latest in a continuing stream of decisions by Trump and his top deputies to turn aside the nation's place as a beacon of progress, stability, and global stewardship.

    By moving America out of the Paris deal – btw. a process that could take years, an intriguing prospect considering the investigations dogging the Trump administration -- Trump is tapping the brakes on what had been America's surging leadership in clean energy innovation. He's doing it under the pretext of saving American jobs. But the argument does not stand up to scrutiny, and evidence is all around. Consider, for one example, the technological and manufacturing leaps of companies such as Tesla, the electric car maker, now the country's most valuable car manufacturer.

    Trump has left reality a long time ago, but it is now that America is seeing the hard-core results of his insane ideas.

    Will there be any hope the American people will speak up during the bi-elections in 2018?  It will be up to the Democrats to show strength and save the country from utter destruction.

    Monday, May 29, 2017

    Mission Failed. Trump’s G7 “Success”

    A returning Trump is boasting about how successful the G7 summit and the Nato meetings have been. “A fantastic trip” –,,,,,maybe for his personal well-being. He wants to impress his supporters and deflect from all his home-grown internal problems. But his lies are quickly uncovered by the sounds from Europe. Angela Merkel has reminded her European partners not to rely on the U.S.
    National security issues have to be solved without the United States. Trump has made America obsolete as a partner and stripped the U.S. off of its role as a world leader. And with that Putin has already won the competition. Not only has Trump lived up to his reputation for being a bully, but he also made the USA look bad on the international stage. The USA cannot be trusted anymore, said Angela Merkel.

    After the unsuccessful G7 summit with demonstrative blockade attitude by US President Donald Trump, Angela Merkel called on Europe to reflect on its own forces. The German Chancellor's sentence triggered a mediaquake in the USA.

    "We Europeans really have to take our fate into our own hands. The times when we could completely rely on others are a little over."

    Trump has destroyed bridges to Europe

    Many political observers and commentators would see Merkel's statement, "the end of a post-war era," where the US was "the dominant force in the region."

    "At the same time, it is also a devastating retrospective of Donald Trump's visit to Europe," says Michael Birnbaum, leader of the Washington Post office in Brussels, Belgium. Merkel's quotation suggests that Trump has "destroyed more bridges than he built up in three days."

    Sunday, May 28, 2017

    New Novel By Campobello Author Bernard J. Bourque

    Living on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada, Louis Pembroke is a scrawny and diffident twenty-three-year-old who believes that he is the reincarnation of Louis Howe, the diminutive, chain-smoking political advisor who became FDR’s secretary (chief of staff). Growing up, Louis Pembroke is psycologically and physically abused by his mother and, after her death, by an old aunt. At the Campobello Roosevelt International Park where he mows lawns, Louis has a chance encounter with eighty-five-year-old Richard Chresterton, an Englishman born in India who is rebuilding the Tyn-Y-Coed, a luxurious hotel that once existed during the glory days of Campobello’s resort era. Louis is given a job at the new establishment and develops a close connection with the owner. Accompanying Mr. Chresterton on a trip to India as his aide, Louis meets Aradhya in the slums of Dharavi. The complicated love they share and the trials they face lead to a process of renewal for Louis who must meet other challenges when he returns to Campobello.
    Mr. LouisMr.Louis is a story of adversity, love, death and rebirth.

    $13.95 available at Amazon or by contacting the author at

    The book has ISBN 978-0-9959301-0-0

    Friday, May 26, 2017

    Only Embarrassing For U.S.
    1-Fullscreen capture 5262017 32627 PM   Trump shoving Montenegro’s Prime Minister

    The above video would be enough to describe what kind of person Trump is. Under the big Nato meet in Brussels this American egomaniac shoves the Prime Minister of Montenegro aside to place himself in the foreground, looking arrogant, WITHOUT EVEN THINKING OF AN APOLOGY for his rudeness.
    Yet every European leader has been laughing in digust at the American President, who still does not understand how Nato works and is not even able to speak one coherent sentence without having a script in front of him. Hell, he can’t even follow a script without falling into his plump language. That, however, did not keep Trump from berating Nato members about not using enough money for their defense. And even if that might be a fact, the way he brought this up was incredibly impolite and blunt.

    America’a reputation is in the pits for as long as this maniac is in the Oval Office.

    Thursday, May 25, 2017

    Twinkle Twinkle Little Star….

    Scientists Finally Figured Out Why Earth Twinkles From Space
    Ever since satellites began to peer at Earth from deep space, they’ve spotted a glimmering mystery: glistening, star-like sparkles. But Earth’s a planet, not a star—so why does it twinkle to far-off observers? That question vexed scientists, including famed astronomer Carl Sagan, for years—but now, reports The New York Times’ Nicholas St. Fleur, a team of NASA researchers finally figured out why.


    DISCOVR captured a glint over South America. Scientists now think that horizontal ice crystals in the troposphere account for the phenomenon, which can be viewed from deep space. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

    In a new study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers explain the secret behind Earth’s seeming sparkle from space: ice.

    Deep Space Climate Observatory (DISCOVR), a satellite designed to alert scientists of mass coronal ejections from the sun, hangs out in space about a million miles from Earth. It’s spotted the strange glints from our home planet since it began making observations in 2015.

    The glints were first recorded in a 1993 paper from Carl Sagan and his colleagues, who were examining images taken of Earth by the Galileo spacecraft as it headed toward Jupiter. At the time, the scientists noted that the flashes seemed to happen over water.

    When DISCOVR launched, writes St. Fleur, the public began to ask Alexander Marshak, the paper’s author, about the glints. He discovered Sagan’s paper, but realized that the flashes in the Galileo photographs weren't limited to bodies of water. Intrigued, he worked with a team to study a year’s worth of data from DISCOVR to find the flashes’ origins.

    The team looked at over 800 flashes on images taken by DISCOVR, taking latitude, angles, and oxygen absorption in Earth’s troposphere into consideration. They narrowed down their source to sunlight, then discovered that they matched up with the locations of cirrus clouds. These wispy clouds are made up of ice crystals that form in the upper troposphere. And the team thinks that horizontal ice particles inside the clouds reflect light from the Sun that can be spotted even from deep space.

    That means that the twinkle is pretty different from the one that humans spot on stars. Those twinkles occur because of atmospheric turbulence on Earth that refracts starlight, creating the illusion of a shifting shape.

    Earth’s distinctive glint, on the other hand, is due to its water—and the technique could one day be used to spot other water-rich planets. In a press release, Marshak says that he’s working to figure out how common the horizontal particles really are in a bid to use them to find out even more about how Earth interacts with its own far-away star.

    Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    Here’s How FDR Explained Making Electricity Public

    “My friends, my policy is as radical as the Constitution of the United States,” he said

    When electric power first started becoming available in the 1890s, people bought it from small private companies that sprang up around the country.

    Hydro Dam

    In the beginning, eager to get in on a good thing, writes the University of Oregon, many people started power companies. In the absence of regulation, things were chaotic: individual cities could have up to 30 power companies operating within that one city. “During this time,” writes the university, “some politicians called for a publicly run network in order to bring some order to the electric utility industry. But the business community successfully lobbied against government control.”

    The initial chaos abated as larger companies bought up smaller power companies in the first decades of the twentieth century, the university writes. “By 1930, ten large holding companies, which were headed by multi-millionaires like John D. Rockefeller Jr., J.P. Morgan Jr. and Samuel Insull owned 75 per cent of the electric industry.”

    The grid was so big and complicated, the university writes, that state regulation was impossible. But things were coming to a head: “Despite massive advertising campaigns by the private power industry condemning public ownership as ‘socialistic,’ public opinion had begun to shift toward a negative view of the big holding companies.”

    A series of federal investigations revealed that the power companies were overcharging customers and paying little tax, while engaging in financial fraud. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, campaigning for president in 1932, said he had the solution to this growing problem:

    To the people of the country I have but one answer on this subject. Judge me by the enemies I have made. Judge me by the selfish purposes of these utility leaders who have talked of radicalism while they were selling watered stock to the people and using our schools to deceive the coming generation. My friends, my policy is as radical as the Constitution of the United States. I promise you this: Never shall the Federal Government part with its sovereignty or with its control of its power resources while I'm President of the United States.

    Roosevelt was envisoning another way, writes Andrew Glass for Politico. He asked Congress to create “a corporation clothed with the power of government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise.” Congress responded with the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation's first publicly owned power company. Roosevelt signed the bill creating the TVA on this day in 1933.

    Of course, the TVA was more than a power company. It was created during the Depression, Glass writes, and the Tennessee Valley was in a bad way. The TVA would need to address more than electricity: it was created to provide flood control, assist with agricultural and economic development, maintain forested lands, and more.

    When Roosevelt signed the act that created the TVA, “Malaria remained rampant in some 30 percent of the population,” Glass writes. “Household incomes averaged $640 a year. Much of the land had been farmed too hard for too long, which eroded and depleted the soil."

    But the TVA brought new life to the region. “TVA-generated electricity attracted industries, which in turn created jobs,” he writes. “Light and modern appliances made life easier and farms more productive.” The TVA also worked with farmers to develop fertilizers and improve their land as well as the natural environment.

    The TVA remains the largest national public power company, Glass writes, serving nearly 8.5 million customers.

    Campobello Island, FDR’s summer residence did not receive electric power until 1948, but the Passamaquoddy Bay was the focus for one of the first hydro-electric power projects in the country. It was one of FDR’s friends, an American engineer by the name of Dexter Cooper, who embraced the idea of building a system of dams to capture the high tides of the Bay of Fundy, for so, during low tide, to release the water through turbines back into the ocean. As the project was launched during the depression era of the thirties, it did not receive funding and remained a project. An earthen dam, built as a pilot project, can still be seen connecting Dudley Island with Treat Island, however, the tide is slowly eating away at the dam.

    Thursday, May 18, 2017

    So What’s Happening?

    We enjoyed a peaceful Norwegian National Day with lots of sunshine and temps in the 70s. Attending a meeting in Eastport, ME in the morning I was back for finishing up my repair work at the Head Harbour Lightstation. Great day to hang out there. Some early visitors walking by, asking questions, but very quiet day.

    Perusing the news of the day after supper, I was wondering whether 62mill. American deplorable voters are soon to realize what idiot of a president they have elected. The turmoil in Washington and the White House seems far greater than under Watergate, especially when considering the short time Trump has been in office. I guess it takes a special kind of stupidity and naivety to assume that a politically unexperienced multibillionaire would be able to run the country.

    I also noticed that the cheers of the Trump crowds have fallen silent for some time, indicating that the deplorables are starting to look for cover, 

    America’s international reputation was in the pits when Bush turned the country over to Obama. But thanks to President Obama’s knowledge and sensible rule, America gained back its reputation. Now, after barely 120 days of Trump, the world is watching in disgust and disbelief as America is reeling from one scandal and misstep after the other.  Is the American Trump supporter realizing that he has been “trumped”? Is he anywhere near an understanding of that America has been made small again? The speeches of the Trump rallies may still be echoing in their ears, but reality shows that the words raining down on the cheering crowds were hollow, meaningless and without merit in reality.

    The angry American who voted for Trump is still angry and the flame of hope he still might have, is getting smaller and smaller, soon to die. The men and women behind it being the victims of their own actions. How could they believe that a billionaire would use his time and energy to help the poor on the streets?  If Trump should indeed survive the ongoing crisis, the cuts and bruises he is about to inflict on America will be sores which will take a long time to heal.

    With that said, I fully understand why so many Americans are so angry, They have been had for so many decades of exploitation made possible by their government, they have been listening to  the promises of big business that the crumbs finally left over on the table got moldy.

    Over decades the American voter has been told that big business will take care of his income by providing work for all.
    In their greedy exploitation of the American worker American industry leaders have “missed the boat”, have forgotten to adjust in time, and instead been looking for cheap solutions by moving production of their dated products out of the country.
    Government followed suit by making sure that education in public schools has been neglected. Keeping education levels low is a sure fire way of helping republicans and the rich. The way Trump came to power is illustrating that very nicely.  Countries with a high level of education, like f.ex. the Scandinavian countries, don’t have the same political problem today. 
    America will reach a point of no return in 2018.  To stop the dismantling of democratic values and the spread of corruption, the Democrats need to gain majority in the house and the senate. If that fails, the path forward will lead through hell.

    Wednesday, May 17, 2017

    Why Norway Is Celebrating May 17

    May 17 004

    May 17 is Norway's national day. The day is celebrated because Norway got its own constitution on 17 May 1814. The day is also called the constitution day.
    Norway's constitution was unanimously approved by the National Assembly on Eidsvoll on May 16, 1814. The day after, May 17, the constitution was dated and signed by the prime minister. On the same day, Prince Christian Frederik was elected Norwegian king.
    May 17 is a public holiday day and an official flag day. National Day is marked more in Norway than is usual in many other countries.  Many songs, like the National Anthem “Yes, we love this country” (Ja, vi elsker dette landet) are specially linked to May 17th.

    For Norwegian anthem click the link.


    The day is celebrated with people carrying flags and joining in local parades. Every village and town sets up its own parade. Other than parades in North America, it’s not a commercial show, but rather displays marching bands and kids coming along waving their flags. many people are dressed in traditional dresses.

    May 17 002May 17 003May 17 is a day for families to gather and have a good time. It is also common for villages and towns to elect a speaker for the day. These speeches are about freedom, equality and peace.  May 17 in Norway marks the end of winter, yet northern communities often experience snow showers during the parade.

    may 17-01

    Above: The gathering at the Royal Palace

    Below: The Royal Family greeting the people

    May 17 005

    For foreigners, the biggest attraction is the celebration of May 17 in Oslo, where thousands of people transform the streets into a sea of red, white and blue.

    Monday, May 15, 2017

    Let Me Show You How It’s Done, Mr. President. Signed, ‘Tricky Dick’


    (Richard Nixon writes to Donald Trump from the afterlife.)

    Dear Mr. President,

    I’ve been observing the turmoil in your young administration, and with each passing day I feel we have more in common. According to the internet — the wi-fi is surprisingly good down here — some people are even calling you “Orange Nixon.”

    That’s not a compliment to either of us.

    I’d like to offer some guidance that might save you from wrecking your presidency, the way I wrecked mine.

    Last week you abruptly fired James Comey, the FBI director, which is something even I didn’t try during the Watergate scandal. The highest-ranking official I ever canned was the special prosecutor — some geeky Harvard law professor — and still it blew up big-time in my face.

    The Democrats, and even many Republicans, accused me of trying to stop the investigation of the Watergate burglary and cover-up. That’s exactly what I was doing, of course, the same way you’re trying to stop the investigation of your Russia connections.

    Hey, I don’t blame you. I know what it’s like to be hiding something sketchy when your enemies are closing in like jackals.

    Mr. President, nobody disputes your authority to replace Comey. But take it from someone who’s been there, the way you handled this was a slop show.

    Comey found out not from you, but from a TV bulletin during a meeting with FBI employees in California. And the dismissal letter you sent was an amateur hack job. Even a cold jerk like me wouldn’t have signed it.

    You publicly demeaned a career law-enforcement official, and these people stick together. Even agents who weren’t Comey fans feel as if the FBI itself has been insulted.

    Like you, Mr. President, I used to think: I’m the boss, and I’ll do whatever the hell I want.

    And, like you, I’d often lay it off on somebody else. My two wingmen, Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, loved playing the bad guys.

    But this is one harsh lesson I learned from Watergate: It’s really stupid for a sitting president to piss off the FBI.

    Profoundly, indefensibly, self-destructively stupid.

    Because here’s the thing about FBI agents, Mr. President: They know lots of stuff about you.

    And the stuff they don’t know, they can find out. That’s what they’re trained to do, and they’re good at it.

    And all this stuff? It goes into files. And those files get copied, classified, recopied, and sent to this department or that department. The FBI is big, with lots of places to store secrets.

    I remember sitting in the Oval Office thinking, “No problem. I’ll just order my attorney general to put an end to this Watergate nonsense right now.”

    Me, foolishly imagining that all the shady stuff they had on me and my staff could be collected and shredded — or deleted as easily as the expletives in the transcripts of my White House tapes.

    Wow, was I wrong.

    My attorney general resigned in protest. Then the deputy attorney general resigned in protest. Ten months later, I resigned in disgrace.

    Perhaps your attorney general will obediently do whatever you tell him. But, Mr. President, don’t make the mistake of thinking little Jeff Sessions can clean up this Russia mess for you.

    He may get his mitts on a few juicy files, but he won’t be the only one who’s got them.

    Like you, I was tormented by leaks to the media. Drove me nuts!

    The most famous Watergate leaker was called Deep Throat. He fed damaging information about me to a pair of pain-in-the-ass reporters named Woodward and Bernstein.

    They refused to reveal their source’s identity, but a few years ago it came to light. Deep Throat was Mark Felt, associate director of the FBI.

    Yes, sir, that FBI. The one you just pissed off.

    Felt was upset by the political meddling of my administration, and I suppose he felt some corny patriotic duty to help expose the lies, crimes and cover-up.

    You might think there’s no comparison to your situation, Mr. President. But looking up from where I sit, I see striking similarities.

    Plenty of people at the FBI care too much about this country to go along with another White House cover-up. All it takes is one Mark Felt to blow up a deceitful presidency.

    So my humble advice is to put an experienced, well-respected person in charge of the FBI. Then stand back, let the agency do its job, and take your lumps.Nixon

    Otherwise you might someday end up down here in the heat with me, comparing snarky nicknames. Personally, I think Tricky Dick is catchier than Orange Nixon.

    Yours truly

    Richard Nixon


    Saturday, May 13, 2017

    The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump by Zembla and

    The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump by Zembla and

    A video that needs to be watched, if you have any concerns re. Donald J. Trump being the U.S. President

    Rumpelstiltskin (Pun Intended)

    A fairytale of the Brothers Grimm

    There was once a miller, who was poor, but he had a beautiful daughter. Now it came to pass that he came to speak with the king, and to give himself a respect, he said to him, "I have a daughter who can spin straw to gold." The king said to the miller, "That is an art which I am pleased with, if your daughter is as skilled as you say, so bring her to my castle tomorrow, and I will put her to the test."
    When the girl was brought to him, he led her into a chamber full of straw, gave her wheel and reel, and said, "Now go to work, and if you do not go through this straw till this morning and turn it  into gold, you must die. " Then he closed the chamber, and she remained alone. There she was, the poor Miller’s daughter, afraid of dying and she understood nothing about how to spin straw to gold, and her anxiety grew so that she began to weep. Suddenly the door opened, and a little man came in, and said, "Good evening, maiden miller, why do you cry so much?"
    "Oh," answered the girl, "I am to spin straw to gold, and I do not understand how to accomplish that."

    The little man said, "What do you give me if I spin it for you?" "My necklace," said the girl. The male took the necklace, sat before the wheel, and whirled, whirled, whirled, pulled three times until the spool was full. Then he stuck another in it, and whirled, whirled, whirled, thrice pulled and the second was full: and so on, until the morning, and all the straw was spun, and all the coils were full of gold.
    At sunrise came the king, and when he saw the gold, he was astonished, and rejoiced, but his heart was only more greedy. He brought the girl into another even bigger chamber full of straw, and ordered her to spin it all in one night if she wanted to stay alive. The girl did not know how to help herself and wept again, but then the door opened, and the same little man appeared, and said, "What will you give me when I spin the straw to gold?"
    "My ring from the finger," answered the girl. The little man took the ring, began to purr again with the wheel, and by the morning all the straw had turned into shining gold. The king was delighted at the sight, but wanted yet more gold; he had the girl led into a still larger chamber full of straw, and said: "You must spin more straw into gold tonight, and if you succeed you will be my wife. " "It is only a miller’s daughter," he thought, "But I cannot find a richer woman in the whole world." When the girl was alone, the little man came again for the third time, saying, "What will you give me if I spin the straw again?" "I have nothing more to give," answered the weeping girl.

    "So promise me, if you get to be queen, you will give me your first child."

    "Who knows how this is going," thought the girl, and knew how to help herself in here great distress; So she promised the little man what he wanted, and the man spun the straw to gold again. And when the king came in the morning, and found all that he had wished, he made out a grand wedding with her, and the miller’s daughter became the queen.
    After more than a year she gave birth to a beautiful child, and did not even think of the little man who had helped her three times; when he suddenly entered her room and said, "Now give me what you promised." The queen was frightened, and offered to the male all the riches of the kingdom, if she
    could just keep the child, but the male said, "No, I rather have something living than all the treasures of the world." Then the queen began to lament and weep so that the little man felt a pity on her. "I will give you three days," said he, "if you know my name by then,  you shall keep your child."
    Now the Queen remembered all the names she had ever heard, and sent a messenger across the country, who was to inquire far and wide what else there would be for names. When the male came the next day, she began with Kaspar, Melchior, Balzer, and said all the names she knew to her, but the man said, "This is not my name." On the second day, she asked the local people how they were called, and said to the little man the most unusual and strange names. "Is your name perhaps, Ribs, or Mutton, or Schnapps?" But it always answered: "This is not my name”.

    On the third day, the messenger came back and said, "I have not been able to find any new names, but as I came to a high mountain turning a corner, where Fox and Hare say good night, I saw a small house, And a fire was burning in front of the house, and a ridiculous little man was jumping around the fire, hopping on one leg and shouting,
    "Today I bake,
    Tomorrow I sow,
    I get the child of the Queen;
    Oh, how good that no one knows,
    that I am Rumpelstiltskin! "

    "You can imagine how the Queen was glad when she heard the name, and in the evening the little man came in, and asked," Well, Queen, do you know my name? " She asked, "Are you called Kunz?" - "No." "Are you called Heinz?" - "No." "Is your name Rumpelstiltskin?"

    "The devil has told you this, the devil has told you," cried the little man, stomping so hard with his right foot that he drove half his body into the ground, then grabbed the left foot with both hands in his anger and tore himself apart.

    Friday, May 12, 2017

    Slow-Motion Coup d'Etat


    The abrupt dismissal of FBI Director James Comey late Tuesday is the latest move in President Donald Trump's coup d'etat against the rule of law and constitutional democracy in the United States. When we hear the phrase "coup d'etat," we generally think of a sudden, decisive overthrow of an existing government. While such an effort is not beyond Trump, his ongoing effort is an example of what journalist Ole Dammegard has called a coup d'etat in "slow motion."

    Trump's coup unfolds gradually, through an intermittent series of attacks on the basic values of the rule of law, the most important of which is that no person, no matter how powerful, is above the law. In this conception, power is always accountable to law.

    Trump's aggressive moves come unpredictably, interrupting seemingly reassuring periods of normal politics and policy debates. He pushes against the norms and boundaries of our constitutional system, then seems to retreat or desist, only to push and probe again to find its weak points and vulnerabilities.

    In his criticisms of "so-called" judges, in his efforts to call into question the legitimacy of judicial rulings which block his dubious executive actions, in his dismissals of Preet Bharara, former U.S. attorney in Manhattan; Sally Yates, former acting attorney general; and now Comey, Trump has shown that he will tolerate no threats to his power and no efforts that might uncover its illegitimacy. And despite the premature reassurances of some commentators about the resilience of our constitutional system in the face of Trump's authoritarian tendencies, the slow-motion coup continues.

    There are, I think, three basic elements of the unfolding coup d'etat:

    First, the assault on language and meaning. Trump thinks he can say anything and then insist that his words do not mean what they clearly say. His language should be taken "seriously not literally," in the words of journalist Salena Zito.

    As such, Trump could sign off on the Justice Department letter recommending that Comey be fired – a letter that flatly contradicted what Trump has said throughout the fall of 2016. The letter criticized Comey for disclosing the discovery of additional Hillary Clinton emails, 11 days out from the election and called it "a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do."

    But Trump praised Comey for doing exactly that back in October. "It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they're trying to protect her from criminal prosecution," he said on October 31. "You know that. It took a lot of guts." He added, "I was not his fan, but I'll tell you what: What he did, he brought back his reputation. He brought it back."

    This is just the latest example of Trump's "words don't mean what they say" attitude toward language. Yet the rule of law depends precisely on the belief that words do mean what they say. In a constitutional democracy, public officials are bound by the words of the constitution, statutes and regulations. If we lose faith in the power of language to convey meaning, we lose faith in law itself.

    Second, the assault on, but also the crafty use of, the media to change the public narrative. Much has been made of the president's claim that the media is the "enemy of the people." Less has been made of Trump's cagey use of the media. Firing Comey yesterday all but obliterated the attention given to Sally Yates's damaging testimony before Congress about the Russian connections of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The slow-motion coup unfolds as Trump both tries to intimidate the press and also prey on its vulnerabilities, its eagerness for the latest, attention-grabbing outrage.

    And third, Trump values loyalty much more than legality. Bharara, Yates and Comey all ran afoul of that maxim. Each showed themselves to have a fierce devotion to the rule of law and to the ideals of independence and impartiality on which it depends.

    It is now time to stand up to the unfolding coup. But the real work of doing so falls not to Trump's opponents, but to his allies, to Republicans in Congress. They must insist that words have meanings that can and must be taken seriously by looking beyond the flimsy pretext offered for the firing of Comey. They must not be distracted from the task of following up on Yates' testimony this week on Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Most of all, by doing both of those things, they will show that even in Trump's America, legality is still much more important than loyalty.

    Austin Sarat

    Austin Sarat is associate dean of the faculty and William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence & Political Science at Amherst College. At Amherst he teaches courses on American law and politics including a course called Secrets and Lies. He is the author or editor of more than 90 books. His most recent book is entitled "Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America’s Death Penalty."