What President Trump blurted out; what Little Donald really meant

October 19, 2017

Bill Watterson's Calvin, on the impossibility of getting homework to do itself. Copyright Bill Watterson.

Bill Watterson’s Calvin, on the impossibility of getting homework to do itself. Copyright Bill Watterson. As Ms. Ashenhurst describes it: “SCH 4U is a university preparation course. As such some independent work is required for success.”

Do you ever get the feeling that President Donald Trump is speaking a foreign language? Or that he’s speaking what he thinks might sound like a foreign language, to cover for his not having done his homework?

Looking back now, we can see whatever it was he said about talking to families of fallen soldiers, he probably needed someone to translate it to himself.

Canadian reporter Daniel Dale explained on Twitter:

Here’s the translation into English, from Craig Battle:

Glad we got that settled.

Now Trump has, reluctantly, called the families of the fallen soldiers. Somehow, inexplicably, Trump managed to make things worse, to embarrass the entire nation. We couldn’t know that, then.

Bill Watterson's Calvin figures out that obfuscation sometimes buys you a few minutes before the authorities and voters catch on to your game. Copyright Bill Watterson.

Bill Watterson’s Calvin figures out that obfuscation sometimes buys you a few minutes before the authorities and voters catch on to your game. Copyright Bill Watterson.

It’s graveyard humor. It seems to me Trump often leaves us fearful, and looking at great tragedy, with no coping mechanism apart from trying to find humor in what he’s done.

Which suggests, to me, it’s time for Trump to go away on his own. He’s damaging the nation.

What do you think?

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Americans want EPA’s environmental protections; Verge film tells why

October 19, 2017

Verge caption:  A woman holds a jar of undrinkable water from her well in Ohio in 1973. She filed a damage suit against the Hanna Coal Company, which owned the land around her house. Photo by Erik Calonius / US National Archives. From EPA's Documerica project.

Verge caption: A woman holds a jar of undrinkable water from her well in Ohio in 1973. She filed a damage suit against the Hanna Coal Company, which owned the land around her house. Photo by Erik Calonius / US National Archives. From EPA’s Documerica project.

Short film from The Verge:

It’s good to be reminded of the burning Cuyahoga River, from time to time. As a great example of EPA’s successes, the the Cuyahoga has not caught fire for many years.


BSA opens Cub Scouting to girls, the few details known

October 12, 2017

This will provoke a lot of unnecessary contretemps.

Before we discuss, can we hear out the BSA? Here’s the press release announcing Boy Scouts of America will open Cub Scouting to girls, with plans to open opportunities for older girls in 2018.

BSA’s Venture program for youth 14-21 celebrates 20 years of coed Scouting in 2018.

The press release:

The BSA Expands Programs to Welcome Girls from Cub Scouts to Highest Rank of Eagle Scout

October 11, 2017

Research reinforces interest expressed by families and girls nationwide as organization looks to offer programs that meet the needs of today’s families

A Scouting family outdoors.Irving, Texas – October 11, 2017 – Today, the Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously approved to welcome girls into its iconic Cub Scout program and to deliver a Scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout. The historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls, the organization evaluated the results of numerous research efforts, gaining input from current members and leaders, as well as parents and girls who’ve never been involved in Scouting – to understand how to offer families an important additional choice in meeting the character development needs of all their children.

“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The values of Scouting – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example – are important for both young men and women,” said Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive. “We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children. We strive to bring what our organization does best – developing character and leadership for young people – to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders.”

Families today are busier and more diverse than ever. Most are dual-earners and there are more single-parent households than ever before [1], making convenient programs that serve the whole family more appealing. Additionally, many groups currently underserved by Scouting, including the Hispanic and Asian communities, prefer to participate in activities as a family. Recent surveys [2] of parents not involved with Scouting showed high interest in getting their daughters signed up for programs like Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, with 90 percent expressing interest in a program like Cub Scouts and 87 percent expressing interest in a program like Boy Scouts.  Education experts also evaluated the curriculum and content and confirmed relevancy of the program for young women.

“The BSA’s record of producing leaders with high character and integrity is amazing” said Randall Stephenson, BSA’s national board chairman. “I’ve seen nothing that develops leadership skills and discipline like this organization.  It is time to make these outstanding leadership development programs available to girls.”

Starting in the 2018 program year, families can choose to sign up their sons and daughters for Cub Scouts. Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack.  Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls. Using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts program, the organization will also deliver a program for older girls, which will be announced in 2018 and projected to be available in 2019, that will enable them to earn the Eagle Scout rank. This unique approach allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families.

This decision expands the programs that the Boy Scouts of America offers for both boys and girls. Although known for its iconic programs for boys, the BSA has offered co-ed programs since 1971 through Exploring and the Venturing program, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2018. The STEM Scout pilot program is also available for both boys and girls.

For more information about the expanded opportunities for family Scouting, please visit the family Scouting page.

About the Boy Scouts of America

The Boy Scouts of America provides the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training, which helps young people be “Prepared. For Life.®” The Scouting organization is composed of nearly 2.3 million youth members between the ages of 7 and 21 and approximately 960,000 volunteers in local councils throughout the United States and its territories. For more information on the Boy Scouts of America, please visit www.scouting.org.

[1] PEW Research Center survey conducted Sept. 15 – Oct. 13, 2015 among 1,807 U.S. parents with children younger than 18.

[2] BSA surveys included two external surveys and four internal surveys conducted from April to September 2017. Surveys were conducted online.

What do you think? Comments are open.

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This is why Putin wanted to get Clinton; what he hoped Trump would stop

October 6, 2017

Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer for Bill Browder, whose murder in 2007 invited economic sanctions against Russia, and especially Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his money-moving colleagues. Those sanctions angered Putin so much, he worked to swing the 2016 presidential election against Hillary Clinton.

Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer for Bill Browder, whose murder in 2007 invited economic sanctions against Russia, and especially Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his money-moving colleagues. Those sanctions angered Putin so much, he worked to swing the 2016 presidential election against Hillary Clinton.

Campaign for human rights in Russia rolled through Canada yesterday.

Canada’s parliament passed a bill authorizing trade and other sanctions against Russia, partly over Russia’s actions in killing human rights acitivists in Russia.

U.S. businessman Bill Browder was the client of Sergei Magnitsky. Browder works tirelessly to see that Magnitsky’s murder is not forgotten. Browder, with a huge assist from Hillary Clinton’s State Department, put sanctions on money transactions for Vladimir Putin, suspected of being the person who ordered Magnitsky’s murder. Those sanctions worked, and crippled Putin’s ability to move and launder money, and the ability of his ally oligarchs in Russia. Stopping Clinton, and getting those sanctions lifted, is the chief reason Putin interfered in the U.S. presidential election in 2016 (and it explains all the meetings Trump campaign officials and administration officials have had with Russian officials and lobbyists and minions).

Contrary to complaints from President Donald Trump, there is a lot of dirt around Russian dealings and sanctions under the U.S. Magnitsky Act.

Yesterday, Canada agreed to support the memory of Sergei Magnitsky, and justice.

Watch those spaces.

Here’s a Twitter Moment with news of the new Canadian law.

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Nobel prizes grow in U.S. public schools

October 4, 2017

I’m an advocate of public schools. I graduated from public schools, I attended two state universities, Universities of Utah and Arizona, graduating from one. My law degree came from a private institution, George Washington University’s National Law Center. I’ve taught at public and private schools.

Public schools are better, on the whole. Public schools form a pillar of U.S. national life that we should protect, and build on, I find.

That’s not a popular view among elected officials, who generally seem hell bent on privatizing every aspect of education. We would do that at our peril, I believe.

We can argue statistics, we can argue funding and philosophy — believe me, I’ve been through it all as a student, student leader, parent, U.S. Senate staffer (to the committee that deals with education, no less), teacher and college instructor. I find fair analysis favors the public schools over private schools in almost ever circumstance.

Though I admit, it’s nice to have private schools available to meet needs of some students who cannot be fit into education any other way. Those students are few in any locality, I find.

There is one area where the quality of U.S. public schools shines like the Sun: Nobel prizes. In the 100+ years Nobels have been around, students out of U.S. public schools have been awarded a lot of those prizes. Public school alumni make up the single largest bloc of Nobel winners in most years, and perhaps for the entire period of Nobels.

I think someone should track those statistics. Most years, I’m the only one interested, and in many years I’m too deeply involved in other work to do this little hobby.

2017 seems to be off to a great start, spotlighting U.S. public school education.

Comes this Tweet from J. N. Pearce, editor of the Salt Lake Tribune:

Followed by a Tweet from a Utah teacher, Tami Pyfer, noting that Kip Thorne is not the only Utah public school kid to win recently:

Two categories of prizes have been announced already in 2017, Medicine and Physiology, and Physics.

In both categories, the prizes went to three Americans. In Medicine or Physiology, for their work on circadian rhythms, the prize went to
Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young.

Physics Nobel winners Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne. 2017 Physics Laureates. Ill: N. Elmehed. © Nobel Media 2017

Physics Nobel winners Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne. 2017 Physics Laureates. Ill: N. Elmehed. © Nobel Media 2017

In Physics, for work on gravity waves, the prize went to Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne.

Thorne, we already know, was born in Logan, Utah, and graduated from Logan High School. Rainer Weiss was born in Berlin, so it is unlikely he attended U.S. public schools — but I haven’t found a definitive answer to that question. All three of the Physiology or Medicine winners were born in the U.S. Michael Young was born in Miami, but attended high school in Dallas. Oddly, Dallas media haven’t picked up on that yet. Dallas has some good private schools, and some of the nation’s best public schools.

(That article from the Logan Herald-Journal notes Logan High School also graduate Lars Peter Hansen, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, in 2013.)

Nobels in Chemistry will be announced Wednesday, October 4; Literature will be announced Thursday, October 5 (this category award often goes to non-Americans); Peace will be announced Friday, October 6 (another category where U.S. kids win rarely); and the Nobel Memorial prize for Economics will be announced next Monday, October 9.

Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young. Ill. Niklas Elmehed. © Nobel Media 2017.

Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young. Ill. Niklas Elmehed. © Nobel Media 2017.

If you know where any of these winners attended primary and secondary education, would you let us know in comments? Let’s track to see if my hypothesis holds water in 2017. My hypothesis is that the biggest bloc of Nobel winners will be products of U.S. public schools.

As I post this, the Chemistry prize announcement is just a half-hour away. Good night!

A video about the work of Kip Thorne, from CalTech:

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October 2017 dates to fly Old Glory

October 1, 2017

The American flag blows in the wind as the moon rises over Joint Base Charleston – Air Base, S.C. Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs Office Photo by Senior Airman Dennis Sloan, October 2, 2012, Read more: dvidshub.net/r/zsbl6g

The American flag blows in the wind as the moon rises over Joint Base Charleston – Air Base, S.C. Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs Office Photo by Senior Airman Dennis Sloan, October 2, 2012, Read more: dvidshub.net/r/zsbl6g, and https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flickr_-_DVIDSHUB_-_American_flag_lit_by_a_full_moon_(Image_2_of_5)_Read_more,_http-www.dvidshub.net-image-675376-american-flag-lit-full-moon.UGyISa5jcdU%5Eixzz28GOdWQR5.jpg

October is not a big month for dates to fly the U.S. flag.  Only one state joined the union in October, and only two other dates received Congress’s designation for flag-flying.

Here are October’s three flag-flying days, in chronological order:

  • Columbus Day, October 8 —  tradition puts Columbus Day on October 12, but in law it is designated as the second Monday in October (to make a three-day weekend for workers who get a holiday); in 2017, October 8 is the second Monday of the month.
  • Navy Day, October 27
  • Nevada Statehood Day, October 31; Nevada joined the union during the Civil War, in 1864, the 36th state.

Federal law also designates October 9 as Leif Erickson Day, a concession to Scandanavian-descended Americans who argue Erickson beat Columbus to the Americas by a few hundred years. Congress’s recognition does not include an urging to fly the flag, though the President may issue such a proclamation.

The photograph by Senior Airman Dennis Sloan, above, may suggest a suitably spooky theme for flying Old Glory on Halloween. While you are free to fly your flag on any day, Halloween, a religious or holy day for Christians, Celts and perhaps a few others, is not designated by Congress as a day to fly the flag. If you fly it at night, it must be lighted, as is the flag in the photograph.

Other notable stuff:

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Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

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Map showing decline in DDT use, 2000 to 2014

September 22, 2017

Animation prepared by: UN Environment Chemicals and Health Branch 2016, with the latest information available and may not reflect the current status.

DDT use declining toward oblivion: UNEP caption – Source: DDT Expert Group. Report of the Effectiveness Evaluation on DDT Pursuant to the Article 16 of the Stockholm Convention Animation prepared by: UN Environment Chemicals and Health Branch 2016, with the latest information available and may not reflect the current status.

More than 180 nations signed the Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty (POPs), often called the Stockholm Convention. The treaty pledges nations to voluntarily work to rid the planet of dangerous and toxic organic chemicals.

DDT is named in negotiation documents as one of the Dirty Dozen most toxic pollutants; however, because there was no alternative that performed exactly like DDT, the nations made a special addendum to the treaty to allow any nation to use DDT to fight disease vectors (insects that carry disease). The World Health Organization tracks use of DDT.

In 2001, 43 nations said they thought DDT would be useful. But by 2015, 33 of those nations gave up DDT, due to insects developing resistance and immunity.

India, the sole remaining nation where manufacture of DDT occurs, plans to stop all DDT production by 2020. India discovered that more DDT makes the insect pests more resistant faster, instead of beating disease carriers.

This map from the UN Environmental Program shows declining use of DDT, 2000 to 2014.

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