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Monday, January 30, 2017
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Friday, January 27, 2017
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
NPS employees have a message for the Trump Administration.
Yosemite National Park. Credit: Diliff
Trump is in power, and one of his first acts has been to gag government agencies. After the National Park Service bruised his ego by retweeting a New York Times tweet showing Trump's inauguration numbers to be lower than President Obama's 2009 crowd, they were ordered to stop all tweets, including scheduled ones.
He then muzzled the EPA, not only prohibiting it from using social media, but also ordering it to remove a critical page on climate change from its website and put a freeze on awarding grants and contracts critical to our nation's environmental health. (In case you're in any doubt as to what a Trump presidency means for climate change and the environment, just consider that one of his first official acts after being sworn in was to announce he'd be eliminating The Climate Action Plan- legislation critical to combating anthropogenic global warming.)
The USDA went silent for several days, and an email ordering them to cease "news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content" until further notice. As of this writing, they have not tweeted since January 18th. The USDA's Agricultural Research Service account has only tweeted once.
Other agencies have gone silent or become considerably quieter. It's eerily quiet on formerly chatty government social media accounts.
But the NPS refuses to be silenced. While their main official Twitter account has fallen into line, tweeting an apology for their inauguration retweets and sticking to innocuous fluff since, the Badlands National Park official account defiantly started tweeting about climate change:
You can see screenshots of the rogue tweets at the above link.
Not long after Badlands was brought into line, anonymous employees of the NPS went rogue. They created the AltUSNatlParkService account and, after retweeting a particularly provocative image from the Badlands account along with some climate change data, announced their intent in no uncertain terms:
Screenshot of AltUSNatParkService tweets. Credit: Dana Hunter
These federal employees speaking out now understand that science is not subordinate to politics, that truth is essential, and transparency vital to a functioning democracy. They are risking their careers to ensure the public is kept informed. They're exercising their free speech rights to ensure we know the truth.
I have never been prouder of our National Park Service than I am now.
Please follow them on Twitter. Retweet their climate change data. Support their efforts. Get the word out. And support your National Parks by donating and volunteering. Tell your elected officials to support the NPS. Take a moment to thank NPS employees during your visits. They have never needed us more than now.
We will not be silenced.
The U.S. has been demoted from a full democracy to a flawed democracy for the first time, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
Every year, the firm's Democracy Index provides a snapshot of global democracy by scoring countries on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Nations are then classified under four types of governments: full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime and authoritarian regime.
America's score fell to 7.98 last year from 8.05 in 2015, below the 8.00 threshold for a full democracy, the EIU announced in a report on Wednesday. That put the world's largest economy on the same footing as Italy, a country known for its fractious politics.
A flawed democracy is a country with free elections but weighed down by weak governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation, according to the EIU. Other flawed democracies in 2016 included Japan, France, Singapore, South Korea and India, the report said.
However, Washington can't point fingers at President Donald Trump for the nation's downgrade.
"The U.S. has been teetering on the brink of becoming a flawed democracy for several years, and even if there had been no presidential election in 2016, its score would have slipped below 8.00," the report explained. Instead, dwindling trust in government, elected representatives and political parties is to blame.
"Trust in political institutions is an essential component of well-functioning democracies. Yet surveys by Pew, Gallup and other polling agencies have confirmed that public confidence in government has slumped to historic lows in the U.S. This has had a corrosive effect on the quality of democracy," the report found
As other developed countries experience a similar trust deficit, contemporary democracy is undergoing a crisis, the EIU said.
The increasing role played by non-elected technocrats, increased voter abstention and curbs on civil liberties are among the main symptoms of this global malaise, the EIU said, noting that almost half of the 167 countries covered by its index registered a decline in overall scores between 2006 and 2016..
Countries that scored between 4 to 5.9 on the index were classified as hybrid regimes, i.e. nations whose elections possess several irregularities. Examples on the EIU's list included Turkey, Thailand, Myanmar and Morocco.
Norway topped the EIU's list of full democracies last year, followed by Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand and Denmark; Canada and Ireland tied for sixth place. The U.K., which also experienced a volatile 2016 with its Brexit referendum, was ranked 16th amid a rise in popular engagement and membership of political parties.
Meanwhile, North Korea, Syria, Chad and the Central African Republic were among the EIU's authoritarian regimes.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
|When I grew up I was read the fairy tale of Rumpelstilzchen, which is a furious little troll who is dancing wildly around his fireplace whenever he doesn’t get his will and things go by the wayside. |
These days it looks like we have gotten an American version of it. They call him Trumpelstilsken and the troll has invaded the White House. Trumpelstilsken has been living there only a few days but he is already furious with everyone around him, especially his press secretary, whose lies haven’t been strong enough to convince the international community of his
“alternate facts” as Kellyanne Conway tried to put it. Now, why is Trumpelstilsken so mad at everyone? Well, he wants to be loved by his people and is now discovering that they are way too critical of his behaviour. When Trumpelstilsken ran across the country and met the cheering mob which actually got him into the White House, he loved and enjoyed every moment of it. Their affection for him was sooo great that he was looking forward to every new day. But those days are gone. Instead, world-wide protests erupted against him being in the White House, and on top of that he has all these other nasty little trolls around him who refuse to listen to him.
Here is what the Washington Post is writing about Trumpelstilsken:
The first days inside Trump’s White House: Fury, tumult and a reboot
President Trump had just returned to the White House on Saturday from his final inauguration event, a tranquil interfaith prayer service, when the flashes of anger began to build.
Trump turned on the television to see a jarring juxtaposition — massive demonstrations around the globe protesting his day-old presidency and footage of the sparser crowd at his inauguration, with large patches of white empty space on the Mall.
As his press secretary, Sean Spicer, was still unpacking boxes in his spacious new West Wing office, Trump grew increasingly and visibly enraged.
Pundits were dissing his turnout. The National Park Service had retweeted a photo unfavorably comparing the size of his inauguration crowd with the one that attended Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony in 2009. A journalist had misreported that Trump had removed the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office. And celebrities at the protests were denouncing the new commander in chief — Madonna even referenced “blowing up the White House.”
Trump’s advisers suggested that he could push back in a simple tweet. Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a Trump confidant and the chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, offered to deliver a statement addressing the crowd size.
White House press secretary's inauguration claims, annotated
During a briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer accused members of the press on Saturday of “deliberately false” inaugural coverage. (Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)
But Trump was adamant, aides said. Over the objections of his aides and advisers — who urged him to focus on policy and the broader goals of his presidency — the new president issued a decree: He wanted a fiery public response, and he wanted it to come from his press secretary.
Spicer’s resulting statement — delivered in an extended shout and brimming with falsehoods — underscores the extent to which the turbulence and competing factions that were a hallmark of Trump’s campaign have been transported to the White House.
The broader power struggles within the Trump operation have touched everything from the new administration’s communications shop to the expansive role of the president’s son-in-law to the formation of Trump’s political organization. At the center, as always, is Trump himself, whose ascent to the White House seems to have only heightened his acute sensitivity to criticism.
This account of Trump’s tumultuous first days in office comes from interviews with nearly a dozen senior White House officials and other Trump advisers and confidants, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations and moments.
By most standards, Spicer’s statement Saturday did not go well. He appeared tired and nervous in an ill-fitting gray pinstripe suit. He publicly gave faulty facts and figures — which he said were provided to him by the Presidential Inaugural Committee — that prompted a new round of media scrutiny.
Many critics thought Spicer went too far and compromised his integrity. But in Trump’s mind, Spicer’s attack on the news media was not forceful enough. The president was also bothered that the spokesman read, at times haltingly, from a printed statement.
Trump has been resentful, even furious, at what he views as the media’s failure to reflect the magnitude of his achievements, and he feels demoralized that the public’s perception of his presidency so far does not necessarily align with his own sense of accomplishment.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
|By now, the fact that Trump is a pathological liar is widely known. But it appears that he is directing his staff to follow practice. After the inauguration, his press secretary came with the following incredulous statement:|
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period — both in person and around the globe,” Spicer said. “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”
Trump’s press secretary lashes out at media, calls crowd coverage ‘shameful’ Spokesman Sean Spicer used his first media briefing to angrily berate the press, accusing reporters of deliberately seeking to minimize the “enormous” crowd at the swearing-in. He took no questions.
Everybody who has seen the crowds at Obama’s inauguration knows that only a fraction of those numbers showed up at Trump’s inauguration. When press secretary Spicer mentions the world-wide crowds, he must have gotten them mixed up with the protest marches happening around the world. What an idiot.
And btw. here is the comparing picture:
2009 crowd 2017 crowd
To call media reporting shameful and wrong is plainly a lie and distortion of reality. This signals the style the American public will receive their twisted news from the new government. Below 2 more images with time taken.
Saturday, January 21, 2017
|Never before in history has there erupted world-wide protests against a newly elected U.S. President. Today, we are seeing public protests and anti-Trump demonstrations all over the world. Whether we look to Europe, Australia or even Africa, people are on the streets to demonstrate against the rise of racism, and discrimination against women and minorities. |
Trump’s inauguration address was a declaration of war specked with insults against U.S. Presidents of the last 30 years. But his insults didn’t stop there. He insulted all Washington residents as well. The International Community is reacting with disbelief and utter rejection of Trump and his horror-cabinet selection. January 20-2017 will mark the day when the clock got turned back 100 years.
(CNN)Hundreds of thousands of people in the United States and around the world are joining marches Saturday to raise awareness of women's rights and other civil rights they fear could be under threat under Donald Trump's presidency.
The key focus of the day is the Women's March on Washington, which organizers say could attract a quarter of a million participants.
But there are also more than 600 "sister marches" planned around the United States, with some of the biggest expected in Boston, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
And women and men in cities around the world -- including Sydney, Berlin, London, Paris and Cape Town, South Africa -- are also marching in solidarity and in opposition to the values they think Trump represents.
'Girl Power vs. Trump Tower'
Australia was the scene of the first major international march, with thousands joining an anti-Trump protest in downtown Sydney.
Thousands of protesters turn out Saturday in downtown Sydney.
Organizers said up to 5,000 people attended the protest at Martin Place; police estimated the number was closer to 3,000.
Chants from the crowd included "women united will never be defeated" and "when women's rights are under attack, what do we do, stand up, fight back." Some carried banners with messages such as "Girl Power vs. Trump Tower" and "Dump the Trump."
A small group holds a pro-Trump rally Saturday in Australia's largest city.
A separate group of about 30 Trump supporters also held a rally in Sydney. The police restrained some of them, blocking them from entering the same area as the anti-Trump protest group.
Protest organizers in New Zealand's capital, Wellington, said about 700 people turned out there for a women's march. Marches were also held in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin.
Protesters also joined together to march in Nairobi, Kenya -- the African nation that was the home country of former President Barack Obama's father.
Big crowds turned out Saturday in dozens of cities across Europe, with marchers including men, women and children.
Protesters who gathered outside one of Rome's most famous structures, the Pantheon, on Saturday morning carried signs such as "Yes we must" and "Women's rights are human rights."
Demonstrators also took to the streets of Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and other cities in Germany.
Katy Rea, who was at the march in Berlin, told CNN: "There are around 1,000 people. Lots of families, children. Very friendly atmosphere. Some police are present, but it's tame and relaxed."
Marches were also planned in cities up and down the United Kingdom, from London to Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester, Belfast and Edinburgh.
In London, thousands were expected to join a 2-mile march starting outside the US Embassy and ending with a rally in the city's historic Trafalgar Square.
Marcher Victoria Dawson told CNN the atmosphere was "positive, inclusive, electric."
Women's rights weren't the only issue on the agenda, with placards also bearing slogans to do with Brexit, nuclear weapons, workers' rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan -- who before the US presidential election told CNN that Trump's views of Islam were "ignorant" -- posted a tweet encouraging Londoners to join the march and "show how much we value the rights every woman should have."
In Paris, demonstrators gathered near the iconic Eiffel Tower before marching through the streets waving flags and banners.
Other French cities including Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux were also holding events.
Protesters march in Marseille, France, in solidarity with women in Washington and around the world.
On Friday night, a crowd of predominantly female protesters gathered in Brussels, Belgium, to denounce sexism and protest against Trump.
'Sea of pink' planned
The Women's March on Washington, which was to begin at 10 a.m. ET near Capitol Hill, comes on the heels of a slew of protests there on Inauguration Day.
You'll see these 'pussyhats' at the march 01:33
The march, which began with a modest Facebook call in the aftermath of the November election, has grown into what could be one of the larger political demonstrations ever seen in the US capital.
Many of those taking part are concerned about Trump's agenda, his past remarks that appeared to demean women and allegations against him of sexual misconduct -- which he has denied.
Thousands of people have also been busy making cat-eared knit hats to wear at the march, with the aim of creating a "sea of pink" on the National Mall.
Organizers of the so-called Pussyhat Project said they have received tens of thousands of handmade hats to distribute to marchers, with submissions flooding in from all 50 states and as far away as France and New Zealand.
Elizabeth England posted footage on Twitter showing scores of protesters, many in pink hats, gathered close to the Baltimore Penn Station on their way to the march. She told CNN: "Everyone is friendly and excited and hoping the trains start running more!"
Friday, January 20, 2017
The following interview was given to the German magazine “Der Spiegel”.
Dr. Bruce Blair, born in 1947, is a security expert and expert on nuclear weapons at the University of Princeton. In the 1970s, Blair controlled the procedure for the possible shooting of nuclear weapons for the US Army. His job was to run the way from the President's prescription to the launch of the rockets virtually, and to ensure that all the trials went smoothly. Since his work for the US Army, Blair has been among the leading nuclear policy critics in the US. In the election campaign he appeared in a video of Hillary Clinton and warned earnestly against the election of Donald Trump.
The nuclear expert Bruce Blair expresses himself in the interview about Trumps Nuclear-omnipotence:
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Blair, Donald Trump will be sworn in on Friday, just like all the new presidents, he will receive the high-level briefing on the nuclear codes. What do we know about this briefing?
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What is in the suitcase?
Blair: The suitcase contains documents on America's secret nuclear weapons sites. Also in it is the Black Book with fixed targets for attack and various war options, from which a President can choose in an emergency. In addition to the suitcase, the new commander-in-chief is usually also given his personal nuclear codes. And someone who is well acquainted with it, explains to him how he uses it. The codes are extremely important. If he wants to command the use of nuclear weapons, he must first identify himself against the Pentagon. That is what they are meant for.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: On the morning of the inauguration, does the new president go through the details of an atomic war?
Blair: Usually not very intense. Shortly before inauguration, most of the agenda is likely to be very complex. A truly detailed explanation of the different options is already done during the transition phase. In the nuclear briefing it is more a rough description of the possibilities. Jimmy Carter, for example, was annoyed with the fact that the brochures in the suitcase were way too long. He has therefore commissioned a one-page version that resembles a comic. Option one, option two, option three. So in that way. This version is still there to my knowledge.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: In the election campaign, you have emphasized the great fear that Donald Trump is going to the White House. Have you been slightly less worried since his election victory?
Blair: No. Trumps fingers on the nuclear case makes me afraid. I have no confidence in Trump’s judgment on war and peace. He is impulsive. He is aggressive, poorly- or misinformed. He knows virtually nothing about nuclear weapons or international relations. He's a hot-head. He does not think. He does not want to learn. And most importantly, he has shown that he divides the world into winners and losers. Quite honestly, I'm afraid. I am afraid some time Trump makes a bad decision about nuclear weapons.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: But let's be honest: a push of a button and already the nuclear weapons fly towards enemy targets - how much of this concept is science fiction?
Blair: Not much, that's the problem. There is a clearly regulated procedure in the nuclear arsenal. It has been designed to react quickly and efficiently in case of doubt. It is incredible: the president has a decision-making power that can end civilization. Perfectly without hurdles.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: How do you have to imagine that?
Blair: There is, for example, the emergency scenario of the telephone call in the middle of the night, when a president is informed by his security adviser of an impending attack on the US. He then has a maximum of six minutes to decide how to react. The protocol stipulates that the President must confer with his closest advisors, as well as the senior official of the command center in the Pentagon, the so-called "war room".
If the President orders the operation, the Pentagon official, who informs the nuclear weapons sites about the decision, must first clarify the question whether the President is really concerned. The codes are used here. According to what is known, this goes according to the usual "challenge response" procedure used in military circles. The Pentagon official reads a part of the string, the president must supply the appropriate equivalent. Then it's going to happen.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: A nightly call has not happened very often.
Blair: There is a second scenario: a longer confrontation with a state or an enemy, which does not have to be decidedly hectic and the president possibly has days or weeks. This may be different variants. But the point is: When a decision is made, everything goes very quickly. And the attack targets in the nuclear case are fixed.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Where are the targets?
Blair: Many details are secret. But, on the whole, it is known that 900 targets are stored in Russia, of which 100 are in Moscow. 500 are available in China, 60 in North Korea, 50 in Iran. The president can decide what he wants to attack. A goal, or simply all targets at the same time. There is no one who can prevent his decision. No one who can veto. By the way, not even the minister of defense, as some believe. If the president is OK, everything goes. The command center sends a short start command, which arrives at the respective rocket locations practically at the same time. Then the weapons are launched within a minute. That was my job for years.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Hopefully only in theory.
Blair: Yes, of course. We have, of course, only practiced the emergency in the nuclear weapons site where I have been working. Every day. Hundreds of times. Always use the same procedure: Command. Start instructions from the Pentagon. We open the safe. We get our sealed codes out and compare them with those codes that were sent to us. If these match, we start the atomic rocket on the simulator. Everything within a minute. This is the standard.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: How many American nuclear missiles are currently deployed?
Blair: There are currently 430 atomic rockets under ground, which are always ready. In addition, some submarines with some 300 rockets are still floating in the Pacific and the Atlantic. From the command to the launch, it would take a bit longer - around 15 minutes.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Does each of these missiles have a target?
Blair: No, each rocket has many different targets in its computer. But part of the one-minute procedure is to set the rocket to the right attack option. Depending on the option, the missile will then fly to an appropriate destination. There are three different types of targets: the rockets could be used to destroy enemy nuclear weapons, destroy buildings of the political leadership of a country or the arms industry. This must be imagined as a menu option. The goal, the country, is going.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: After all, a Hiroshima scenario, with hundreds of thousands of people dying, can not simply be ordered by the President.
Blair: Not directly. But, of course, the sensitive buildings are often in densely populated areas. In cities. And it is also conceivable that the president selects a variant that is not preset. His personal variant, so to speak. Only a long-term plan is needed, which can not be imagined without intensive discussion at the highest political level.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Trump has expressed criticism on nuclear weapons many times, many years ago even said that he would like to see an international agreement on disarmament. Can it be that he surprises us all?
Blair: I do not believe it. We almost never know whether he means things seriously. Why should this be different in questions of nuclear weapons? His whole political understanding can have devastating consequences in this field. He holds nothing of diplomacy. He likes to escalate situations. Of course, I also hope that he makes his promise true and negotiates well in all fields. Completing a very big deal, which also includes disarmament, missile defense. But I believe that his temperament is completely unsuitable for the sensitive question of nuclear weapons.
PIEGEL ONLINE: It is said that he office of the president makes humble, it changes a politician.
Blair: Yes, and we have seen that in history. Ronald Reagan, after taking office, instructed his military to set up in such a way that it would be ready to fight in an atomic war at any time, and win the war. At some point he saw that this was an absurd basic assumption and the Soviet Union took this very seriously. Too serious for his taste. Reagan then changed his policy. The problem with Trump is: If there was a rival, he would want to win it.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are the nuclear codes always in the nuclear case? Or can every President decide for himself where he keeps them?
Blair: There are presidents who keep the codes in the suitcase. I also believe that this is the safest option. The suitcase is always guarded by a military officer who accompanies the president around the clock. Nothing can be lost. But every president has the opportunity to wear it on his own body. This can be a risk. Former General Hugh Shelton has revealed in his memoirs that Bill Clinton had carried the codes in his wallet, where the credit cards were. When the codes were exchanged after a few months, as usual, they were gone. Under Carter, the codes landed in the laundry of the White House because he had forgotten them in his suit. And when Ronald Reagan was shot, he took off the jacket that contained the codes. They then landed in a plastic bag, of which nobody really knew who it belonged to. There are crazy stories.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
|It’s the day BEFORE and the world is waiting. Some are excited, some are not, some are sad, some are laughing at it all.|
Yesterday I watched President Obama’s last press conference. In his usual reflected way he answered questions of the press. Questions, many of the American Citizens want answers to. Like a soothing father speaks to his family when they are afraid he said “We will be OK”.
But will we?
Will persecution and rounding up of special groups in society happen? Will long-standing trade agreements be abolished? Will 30 million Americans loose their healthcare? Will America be involved in a new war?
Will women’s rights be cut down?
Questions, so many questions…..
Nobody knows the answers yet.
But the Borowitz Report has a take on what’s going on.
Afterwards you may laugh….if you understand it.
MOVING VANS ARRIVE AT WHITE HOUSE TO REMOVE ALL TRACES OF COMPETENCE, DIGNITY
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Moving vans arrived at the White House on Wednesday to remove all traces of competence and dignity.
Working around the clock, movers started clearing out the optimism and progress that had accumulated during the past eight years.
“Once we’ve packed up that stuff, we’ll start moving out the wisdom and maturity,” one of the movers said. “The guy who’s moving in wants all of that gone.”
After the movers complete their work, a cleaning crew will come in and scrub the White House of every last speck of compassion.
The movers are working under a strict deadline, since the White House needs to be totally stripped of decency by nine o’clock on Friday morning, the mover said.
“The new guy wants the place to be completely empty, ” he said. “He has a lot of crap.”
Andy Borowitz is a New York Times best-selling author and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He writes the Borowitz Report for newyorker.com
Saturday, January 14, 2017
|When the sun shines on a Saturday I can’t sitt inside and watch it. And eve though the mercury showed pretty low temps today (-16C) I dressed appropriately and ventured out to the pile of wood I had produced yesterday. I was planning another “round stack”. So I went about it and even though it took a bit longer than the video below is showing, I got it all done within 2 1/2hrs. This way of stacking firewood has the advantage that the stack is self-supporting and stabile against the ever blowing winds. And since the wind can penetrate the stack the wood gets the best conditions for seasoning. Besides of all that, it is more fun to make these round stacks and they can easily be covered with tarps. Short video below.|
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
|A while back I read a novel about a U.S. President who was a Russian mole. Never in my wildest fantasies could I imagine that something similar would happen one day. We are now about to witness it, unless he’d be stopped in his tracks.|
The full INTEL report: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3259984-Trump-Intelligence-Allegations.html
The two most sensitive parts of it below.
Congratulations America. You chose a pervert for president.