Saturday, December 31, 2016

Is Lying Bad for Us?

Recently, "fake" news has been discovered hiding among our social media posts.

The problem has become so apparent that even members of the mainline media are writing about how terrible it is that we all have become victims of "fake" social media postings. Editors are working day and night to come up with a solution for determining "real" from "fake" news.

Not to diminish the problem, we actually have a tradition of deception or "fake" news which has been around since humans were invented. Only the medium has changed today.

From our earliest days mankind has used deception to misdirect truth. Instead of acknowledging responsibility we often claim innocence, ignorance or accuse another of being guilty.

Among the most historical examples of deception is the Biblical story of Cain and Able (Genesis 4:9-4:16). Cain killed his brother Able when he grew jealous of him.

“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?’”

As the story goes, for the murder of his brother and his attempted deception, God ended Cain’s way of making a living as a “tiller of the ground”, gave him the “mark”, so that no other man would kill him and then banished him to eternal wandering, “east of Eden”. Things didn’t work out so well for Cain.

Sadly, since Cain’s time and right up until now, mankind has most often chosen deception rather than truth when confronted with facing responsibility for a heinous crime, a harmful act against another human, taking unfair advantage of another person or even telling a lie in order to gain some advantage over others.

Further, when you think about it, we often hear, the “Am I my brother’s keeper?” deception offered, especially when the perpetrator has already committed an act against his brother.

It may not be an outright act of murder, but you will hear the same defense, or some derivative of it, offered as an excuse for taking advantage of less fortunate people (fill in the blank here with anyone “different”, i.e. different religion, race, ethnicity, political belief, being poor, level of education, etc.).

Or, as a defense for providing terrible service; selling inferior products; ending “safety net” programs for the helpless; foreclosing on homes for nonpayment of taxes or late mortgage payments; turning the water off for nonpayment — all the while exempting favored people (usually wealthy) from paying taxes or high interest rates and/or providing a multitude of avenues to avoid shut off of public services or foreclosure for default.

To this very day the "deception list" grows, trailing off to infinity.

After all this time, one thing is certain. If you hear the question asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” You know deception is close at hand.

But, no matter, the answer is still, YES.

Please go here for "The Biggest Deception".

Is Lying Bad for Us?
“Perhaps the most powerful moral argument for honesty has to do with what the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre called ‘bad faith.’ Liars deceive others, but in a sense, liars also deceive themselves. When we lie we tend to distort our own view of reality, and the more often we lie, the more habitual this distortion becomes. Over time, the habit of lying divorces us further and further from reality, so we see less and less clearly the choices before us and what is at stake in them. Eventually, we may find ourselves unable to see what we are really doing and how it is affecting others and ourselves. We end up leading inauthentic and irresponsible lives.”
Is Lying Bad for Us?, The Atlantic, Richard Gunderman, MD, PhD, Feb 2013.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Which USA Will We Become in 2017?

No one knows what will happen in the days ahead.

So, I decided to try to reach for the stars and describe the USA I’d like to see.
Our nation will become a land based upon empathy with each of us making compassionate, life-affirming choices at every opportunity each day.

We will adopt a New Bottom Line, which Rabbi Michael Lerner defined this way:
 “A New Bottom Line is one that judges the success of our social institutions, government, and corporations based not on the Old Bottom Line of whether they maximize money and power, but instead assessing them on the extent that they maximize love and caring, kindness and generosity, empathy and compassion, social and economic justice, peace and nonviolence, and environmental sustainability, as well as encourage us to transcend a narrow utilitarian approach to nature and other human beings.”

As for the choices, Stephan A. Schwartz, in his groundbreaking book, 8 Laws of Change, explains, that first we must be aware that we make choices each day. For instance, when we go the grocery store, we choose to buy one product over several others. If we become aware of the nature of the company that produced the product we are buying, we can make a conscious choice to buy the product produced by a compassionate, life-affirming company. That, he makes clear, is a world-transforming choice which is ours to make each and every time we make a decision to buy.

Perhaps making those compassionate, life-affirming choices will help us get to that New Bottom Line.

8 Laws of Change | Stephan A Schwartz | TEDxVail

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Nanomedicine Makes Cancer Battle Personal

"Nanomedicine," that's a term you may consider remembering.

It's likely you'll be hearing about life-changing breakthroughs because of nanomedicine in the days ahead, especially if University of Michigan researchers stay on track using nanodiscs to deliver a customized therapeutic vaccine for the treatment of colon and melanoma cancer tumors.

Here's the story...
For more Breakthroughs visit:

"'We are basically educating the immune system with these nanodiscs so that immune cells can attack cancer cells in a personalized manner,' said James Moon, the John Gideon Searle assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences and biomedical engineering."

"Personalized immunotherapy is a fast-growing field of research in the fight against cancer."

"The therapeutic cancer vaccine employs nanodiscs loaded with tumor neoantigens, which are unique mutations found in tumor cells. By generating T-cells that recognize these specific neoantigens, the technology targets cancer mutations and fights to eliminate cancer cells and prevent tumor growth."*

Photo published in: Nanodiscs target tumors in potential cancer vaccine, Michael Irving, New Atlas, 28 Dec 2016.

*Nanodiscs deliver personalized cancer therapy to immune system, Laura Bailey, University of Michigan, 27 Dec 2016.

ANN ARBOR—Researchers at the University of Michigan have had initial success in mice using nanodiscs to deliver a customized therapeutic vaccine for the treatment of colon and melanoma cancer tumors.

"We are basically educating the immune system with these nanodiscs so that immune cells can attack cancer cells in a personalized manner," said James Moon, the John Gideon Searle assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences and biomedical engineering.

Personalized immunotherapy is a fast-growing field of research in the fight against cancer.

The therapeutic cancer vaccine employs nanodiscs loaded with tumor neoantigens, which are unique mutations found in tumor cells. By generating T-cells that recognize these specific neoantigens, the technology targets cancer mutations and fights to eliminate cancer cells and prevent tumor growth.

Unlike preventive vaccinations, therapeutic cancer vaccines of this type are meant to kill established cancer cells.

"The idea is that these vaccine nanodiscs will trigger the immune system to fight the existing cancer cells in a personalized manner," Moon said.

The nanodisc technology was tested in mice with established melanoma and colon cancer tumors. After the vaccination, twenty-seven percent of T-cells in the blood of the mice in the study targeted the tumors.

When combined with immune checkpoint inhibitors, an existing technology that amplifies T-cell tumor-fighting responses, the nanodisc technology killed tumors within 10 days of treatment in the majority of the mice. After waiting 70 days, researchers then injected the same mice with the same tumor cells, and the tumors were rejected by the immune system and did not grow.

"This suggests the immune system 'remembered' the cancer cells for long-term immunity," said Rui Kuai, U-M doctoral student in pharmaceutical sciences and lead author of the study.

"The holy grail in cancer immunotherapy is to eradicate tumors and prevent future recurrence without systemic toxicity, and our studies have produced very promising results in mice," Moon said.

The technology is made of extremely small, synthetic high density lipoproteins measuring roughly 10 nanometers. By comparison, a human hair is 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers wide.

"It's a powerful vaccine technology that efficiently delivers vaccine components to the right cells in the right tissues. Better delivery translates to better T-cell responses and better efficacy," said study co-senior author Anna Schwendeman, U-M assistant professor of pharmacy.

The next step is to test the nanodisc technology in a larger group of larger animals, Moon said.

EVOQ Therapeutics, a new U-M spinoff biotech company, has been founded to translate these results to the clinic. Lukasz Ochyl, a doctoral student in pharmaceutical sciences, is also a co-author.

The study, "Designer vaccine nanodiscs for personalized cancer immunotherapy,"  was published in the journal Nature Materials.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

One Hundred Word Summary of 2016

By Gail Albin                  

Life has been good to me this year
There is little that I dread or fear

I turn on television worldwide news
I see sadness that none would choose

I am happy all my family and five grandkids
Are on the right track and not hitting skids

I keep busy with projects and crafts
My condo is cozy warm with no drafts

I belong to two favorite clubs for writing
That beats having enemies and fighting

Wishes go out your way for a Christmas blessing
I wish 2017 goes well for you with no stressing        

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Looking Around My Anxieties

Since the November election I have felt like a dust storm of anxieties has been hovering all about me.

Then, the time arrived to write a review of our past year, and that’s when I thought of Pig-Pen, the famous Peanuts character, who carries on despite the cloud of debris hanging about him. No matter where he goes the cloud goes with him. Still, he goes on.

I decided to seek out some of the good things that have happened over the past 12 months – and just ignore that cloud of anxieties surrounding me – mostly summed up as the incoming Trump administration, and carry on just like my hero, Pig-Pen.

By looking around the cloud I discovered that a whole lot of great things happened in 2016.

Just to boost your spirits, and mine too, here are 99 of them from

The 99 best things that happened in 2016, from Ebola’s eradication in West Africa to saving the manatees

Our media feeds are echo chambers. And those echo chambers don’t just reflect our political beliefs: they reflect our feelings about human progress. Bad news can be a bubble too, so here’s some good stuff that also happened in 2016.

Some of the biggest conservation successes in generation
1. British Columbia protected 85% of one of the world’s largest temperate rainforests, home to the wonderfully named ‘Spirit Bear.’ Reuters
2. In February, Peru and Bolivia signed a $500 million deal to preserve Lake Titicaca. HNGN
3. In March, the US government abandoned its plan for oil and gas drilling in Atlantic waters, reversing its decision from a year ago. Guardian
4. After nearly 13 years of difficult negotiations, Malaysia established a 1 million hectare marine park that pioneers a mixed-use approach to marine conservation. Guardian
5. In 2016, more than 20 countries pledged more than $5.3 billion for ocean conservation and created 40 new marine sanctuaries covering an area of 3.4 million square km. Reuters
6. That included a new record holder for the world’s biggest marine reserve, off the coast of Antarctica. National Geographic
7. New research showed that acid pollution in the atmosphere is now almost back to the level that it was before it started with industrialisation in the 1930s. Science Bulletin
8. In 2012, the US and Mexico embarked on an unprecedented binational project to revive the Colorado River. By 2016, the results had astonished everyone. Audubon
9. In November, the Obama administration followed up its March announcements by banning offshore exploration and drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic until 2022. Politico

Huge strides forward for global health
10. The World Health Organisation released a report showing that, since the year 2000, global malaria deaths have declined by 60%. WHO
11. In 2016, some of the world’s biggest diseases, like colon cancer, dementia, and heart disease, started declining in wealthy countries. New York Times
12. A new study from the world’s leading health journal reported that the number of women dying from pregnancy and childbirth has almost halved since 1990. Guardian
13. Fresh evidence showed that public smoking bans have improved health in 21 nations. Wiley Blackwell
14. Uruguay won a major case against Philip Morris in a World Bank ruling, setting a precedent for other small countries that want to deter tobacco use. CS Monitor
15. Malawi achieved a 67% reduction in the number of children acquiring HIV, the biggest success story across all sub-Saharan nations. Since 2006, they’ve saved 260,000 lives. Al Jazeera
16. Child mortality rates came down by 12% in Russia. Article

Please go here for the rest of 99.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Much More Than a Red Honker

Looking for some positive news this morning I came upon two articles having to do with my favorite Christmas character, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Gene Autry was one of the cowboy heroes of my childhood and I remember listening to his rendition of Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer until I wore out the recording playing it on my brother’s tiny record player. I never knew until now how or why the song came into being.

The Rudolph story brought tears to my eyes as I read it.

You see, each year about this time I seem to require a major booster injection of faith and hope. This story did the trick and helped me once again see the good part of people out there in the vast desensitized cultural wasteland of America.

So here’s the story. In 1938 Bob May’s wife was dying of cancer. He wanted his daughter to know that he loved her, so each night to help her drift off to sleep he told her stories about a special reindeer that helped Santa. He was broke, couldn’t afford to buy her Christmas presents, so he made her a picture book.

Bob’s wife died before Christmas. Still, he reluctantly decided to attend his company Christmas party where his colleagues encouraged him to read aloud his reindeer story, to everyone’s delight. Montgomery Ward, his company, ended up buying the rights to his story, eventually giving away 6 million copies to shoppers. Later the president of Montgomery Ward gave the rights back to May and Bob’s Rudolph story made millions of dollars for him. Bob’s brother-in-law helped him line up a famous singing cowboy named Gene Autry to make Bob’s Rudolph story into the musical legend we all know and love today. (Go here to checkout more of the story.)

And the other story?

Well, it seems that there is more to reindeer than red honkers.
It’s all about Rudolph’s antlers

“Through advanced computer modeling and x-ray techniques”, scientists at Queen Mary University of London, “observed the antler structure on a nanoscale level. They say this revealed the mechanisms responsible for their durability, an intermittently arranged set of fibers that seem to have evolved to take a hit, partnered with a breakable, shock-absorbing substance made up of non-collagenous proteins and minerals in between.” (Please see sources below.)

Deer antlers are unusually tough and stiff. This new understanding of them, “could also shed new light on the structural modeling of bone” and further, 3D printing may be “used to create damage-resistant composite materials.”

Gene Autry, Rudolph The Red-Nose Reindeer, 1949

Researchers rack up "tough" secrets from deer antlers, Nick Lavars, New Atlas, 21 Dec 2016.
The research was published in the journal ACS Biomaterials.
Queen Mary University of London

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Joe & Jane Lunch Bucket Take It on the Chin

A day or two ago I discovered an article about the ALECK (The American Legislative Exchange Council) people and their effort to end living wages and a few benefits across the nation. They have previously been successful in 20 states, now joined by Ohio, upping the number to 21. These are the states that have passed ALECK-authored legislation forbidding local governments from adopting progressive living wage standards and paid sick leave benefits.

I won’t even go into how other “wealthy, western” nations have long ago ensured living wages and working conditions for their people. It is sadly enough to say that the USA is way behind because Republican controlled legislatures’ have totally swallowed ALECK’s “other universe” B.S. line that workers need to be paid the barest of wages so that businesses will locate or stay in their state.

Our people, that’s YOU and me, the 99.9% Joe and Jane lunch buckets, have been and are seriously takin’ it on the chin each hour of each day because of our “conservative” state legislatures’ “misguided” or perhaps, genuine disdain for helping the working class “others” of our nation (meaning US) control and enjoy even an itty-bitty-bit of reward (a.k.a. profit) brought about by our own labor productivity improvements.

You know, whether it is white or blue collar receiving a living wage and benefits in exchange for honest, productive labor is not a new idea.

Today, even $15/hr is barely enough to pay for life’s essentials, like housing, food, safety, gas and electricity, let alone a college education. Even the toughest of old birds, Mr. Henry Ford, knew he had to pay his workers enough so that they could purchase the cars they built so that he could enjoy even more profit as more and more people bought his cars.

For us, it is likely that ALECK will continue efforts to repress living wages throughout the nation under the Trump administration. So, we can expect that more Republican controlled state legislatures will pass laws forbidding local governments to remedy slave-labor wages by passing local ordinances enforcing living wage minimums in their jurisdictions.

Combine ALECK’s successes with Mr. Trump’s failed promises to "drain the swamp of Washington insiders" and "Make America Great Again" for "average American Trump supporters", i.e. "white" Americans, hard times will be gettin’ even harder for all of us - no matter our skin color or our heritage.

Bruce Springsteen - We Take Care of Our Own

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Are We the Generation that Lost America?

Early this morning I woke in an alternative universe where Mr. Trump was scheduled to be sworn in as President of the United States and the U.S. Congress, the Supreme Court and 50% of state governors and legislatures were controlled by the “R” people.

That sent shivers down my back… no more “democracy”… no more “checks and balances”.

Worse, according to my nightmare, President-elect Trump, although a self-professed, business-world-winner, was installing a whole bunch of people with little-to-no government experience; named people who have announced their determination to dissolve the department they are appointed to head; and was determined to appoint people whose apparent qualification is being a billionaire or multi-millionaire.

That sent shivers down my back, too… no more government of and for the people… no more “safety net”… actually, no government at all.

Worse yet, Mr. Trump had not separated from his business interests and seemed to be leveraging his soon-to-be presidential credentials in order to add more gold to his extensive collection at every opportunity.

That one sent shivers down my back, as well… an American President no different than a ruthlessly corrupt Middle Eastern dictator.

Even worse yet, Mr. Trump asked for and received help to win the presidency from our sometimes archenemy, Mr. Putin; and, Mr. Trump reportedly planned to maintain his private security cadre rather than rely on the Secret Service for protection. 

That sent a gigantic shiver down my back as I recalled that two of Mr. Hitler’s private security details operated outside of the law: the SA (Sturmabteilung or Storm Detachment) a.k.a. the Brownshirts and the Reichssicherheitsdienst (Reich Security Service; RSD). 

The thought, way too frightening, that our President could sell out our nation for some Russian hotel properties or golf courses, well, that one woke me as my mind flooded with thoughts about coming perils. Still, I held onto the hope that I was just watching an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Then, I remembered that the much of the nightmare is real.

How will we meet the challenges to come? 
Will we, the Boomers, become known as the generation that lost America?
We will see, won’t we? We will see which type of symbol Mr. Trump's hat becomes.

The Twilight Zone

Monday, December 19, 2016

Move Over Superman

Funny the things found deep in a hole somewhere, like buried treasure, the kind those pirates secreted on some Caribbean island, or the gold those nasty train robbers of the Ole’ West buried in a cave on sacred Native American Indian land.

While this time the buried treasure was really uncovered deep within a cave out west, it turns out that it’s molecular in size. Still, it may end up being much more valuable than heaping piles of those fabled gems and golden coins.

Research teams from the University of Akron and McMaster University recovered several species of bacteria from more than 1,000 feet underground in Lechuguilla Cave, New Mexico. It is speculated that the bacteria are believed to have remained isolated from the outside world for more than four million years 

In the Dec 2016 issue of Nature Communications*, they reported their groundbreaking research of one bacterium, dubbed, Paenibacillus sp. LC231, showing, “the bacterium is resistant to 18 different antibiotics, and uses identical methods of defense as similar species found in soils. This suggests that the evolutionary pressure to conserve these resistance genes has existed for millions of years – not just since antibiotics were first used to treat disease.”

“Among the different ways that the bacteria could be resistant antibiotics, the scientists identified five novel pathways that were of potential clinical concern. Finding these new pathways is particularly valuable, as it gives researchers time to develop new drugs to combat this type of resistance, potentially decades before it will become a problem for doctors and their patients.”

“'We identified some unique mechanisms of resistance that haven’t even emerged in bacteria that make us sick, which is exciting because this means we have time to come up with potential mechanisms of resistance,' stated Dr. Hazel Barton, professor and director of Integrative Bioscience at The University of Akron.”**

Where there is resistance among bacteria in the environment, there must also be natural antibiotics that other micro-organisms have created. And, that means there is a range of antibiotics that exist somewhere in the environment yet to be discovered. 

You're outahere Superman!! These bugs are really going to same mankind!

From the 1950s TV series, The Adventures of Superman
Faster than a speeding bullet.
More powerful than a locomotive.
Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound.
Look Up in the Sky... it"s a bird... it's a plane... it's Superman!
Yes, it's Superman!
Strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.
Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers... bend steel in his bare hands. 
And, who disguised as Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice and the American Way.  

Stamp Day For Superman

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Facts & Integrity Ruled

Dorothy Fuldheim, path blazing journalist and humanitarian.
While I never had the opportunity of working with or even meeting Dorothy Fuldheim she was a major influence in my life and sparked my interest in the “news”.

Like my maternal grandmother, Ms. Fuldheim had her own version of chutzpah, grounded in fact and delivered with crystal clarity. No matter the topic, she voiced her opinion, usually winning over any and all opposition by forcefully declaring it.
Mr. Tom Field

Dorothy Fuldheim , the First Lady of Television News, was the first female commentator for the ABC Radio network, the first woman in the U.S. to anchor a TV news broadcast and host her own show, as well, on channel 5, WEWS, Cleveland. She was 54 years old when she joined TV 5 in 1947... two years before I was born.

I learned most about her by not only watching her programs but most vividly through another of her fans, Mr. Tom Field, longtime news anchor at TV 5. Toward the end of his career, I had the honor of working with Tom and earning his friendship. The facts and integrity ruled TV news back then.... Mr. Tom Field and Ms. Dorothy Fuldheim made certain it was so.

Dorothy Fuldheim 83rd birthday special pt 1

Dorothy Fuldheim 83rd birthday special pt 2

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Fired from Every Job, Save Two

Ernie Anderson, as Cleveland's Ghoulardi, and later, the voice of ABC and The Love Boat.
Thinkin' 'bout my youth... this guy... Ernie Anderson... Ghoulardi... influenced my interest in broadcasting... and automotive, too. He also showed me how to take a hit, keep on goin' and make it back even better.

Turn Blue: The Short Life of Ghoulardi

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Remembering to Look Forward

We were lucky. But we never gave it a thought back then. After all, we were just kids. "Luck" was all about finding a marble someone previously lost on the way to school or maybe a dime or, even better, a quarter. For a quarter, I could see a "monster" movie on Saturday afternoons at the neighborhood theater. For a dime I could buy a really big (by today's miserly standards) Clark Bar. No, we were lucky because we lived in a free society and our parents made sure our future would be better than theirs. I hope we'll remember to look forward for our children and grandchildren, too.

Forbidden Planet, 1956 (Trailer) 

Friday, December 2, 2016

How Louis XVI Will Save America Again

Travel with me in Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine to visit with Louis XVI, King of France, as he gives Ben Franklin a really cool snuffbox. At the time, Ben was our ambassador to France and everybody really liked him. They called him Dr. Franklin because he was smart, witty, fun, a bon vivant and a famous scientist.

Still, that cool snuffbox caused a kerfuffle back home with the Congress people debating whether or not it was O.K. for our person in France to accept it. Did it amount to “corruption and foreign influence”? That was a big question back then.

Because of that snuffbox, in 1786, Congress got around to adding what’s called the Emoluments Clause to the Constitution (Article I, Section 9) which “bars any ‘person holding any office of profit or trust under’ the United States from accepting any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Price, or foreign state’ ‘without the consent of the Congress.’ The word ‘emolument’ comes from the Latin emolumentum, meaning profit or gain.”*

Translation: all this emolument stuff means that Mr. Trump must “clean up his act” by somehow separating himself from his web of foreign entanglements, i.e. business interests, or be in violation of the Constitution and thereby subject to impeachment.

So, no more fillin’ up your hotel rooms with foreign dignitaries, Mr. President-Elect. It looks like you really must deal yourself out of your mega-winner businesses or lose the really big prize.

Once again, we owe the people of France and Louis XVI a major Thank You for savin’ our bacon!

* Why Trump Would Almost Certainly Be Violating the Constitution If He Continues to Own His Businesses, Richard Tofel, ProPublica, 2 Dec 2016.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Vets at Standing Rock 4 Dec 2016

Today's post is about much more than a statement about our failed political system. It is about our way of life... a life worth living. Those of us who have served in the military took an oath of honor to defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We worked together to achieve our missions and learned that our personal survival was in the hands of our brothers and sisters. Today, just as our ancestors answered their call to defend their freedoms in their time, we are answering our call (4 Dec 2016) to stand with our brothers sisters at Standing Rock to help them defend their freedoms... our freedoms. We are all partners in this life. First, we agree to help each other. - RB* (Please see Here & Now interview of former Marine, Dakota Blue Serna, below.)

November 28, 2016

Water Protector Legal Collective Files Suit for Excessive Force against Peaceful Protesters

Tasha Moro, NLG Communications Director: Email address | 212-679-5100, ext. 15

CANNON BALL, ND --Today, the Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC-formerly Red Owl), an initiative of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), filed suit in US District Court against Morton County, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirschmeier, and other law enforcement agencies for using excessive force against peaceful Water Protectors on the night of November 20, 2016.

The class action suit, filed on behalf of persons who were injured on the night of November 20 and early morning of November 21, seeks an immediate injunction preventing the Morton County Sheriff's Department and other law enforcement from using impact munitions such as rubber bullets and lead-filled "beanbags," water cannons and hoses, explosive teargas grenades and other chemical agents against protesters.

Beginning on the evening of November 20, officers from the Morton County Sheriff's Department and assisting agencies confronted peaceful Water Protectors at a bridge near the Standing Rock protest camp and within the boundaries of Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires, or Great Sioux Nation) treaty lands. Without giving any warnings or opportunity to disperse, officers fired on them with highly dangerous munitions, chemical agents, a water cannon and hoses in freezing weather. More than 200 Water Protectors were injured.

"The Morton County Sheriff's office not only violates the constitutional rights of peaceful protesters, but their actions highlight the long history of abuse against Indigenous peoples," said Brandy Toelupe, WPLC lawyer. "From the beginning, governments have used their latest technologies to take land and resources from Native nations and oppress Indigenous peoples. Sheriff Kirchmeier's actions make it clear that nothing has changed," she added.

The complaint describes the excessive force with which the nine class representatives were met while peacefully protesting. Five are Native, including two members of the Lakota Nation. Vanessa Dundon of the Navajo Nation was hit in the eye with a tear gas canister that was shot by police directly at the crowd of Water Protectors. Jade Kalikolehuaokakalani Wool had two grenades blow up near her head, knocking her down, burning her face and sending shrapnel into it, and causing her to be hospitalized. Crystal Wilson was shot with a water cannon, tear gassed and shot with a munition. David Demo was filming police when, without warning, they shot him with a water cannon and then in the hand with a munition. He was hospitalized with broken bones and was told he would need reconstructive surgery.

Gary Dullknife III saw a Water Protector knocked to the ground by a water cannon. As police sprayed her on the ground, he tried to move her away. He was shot in the chest, stomach and leg by impact munitions. Mariah Marie Bruce was peacefully protesting when police sprayed her with water cannons. She was then hit in the genitals with a grenade, and was hospitalized. Frank Finan was taking pictures when he was shot in the abdomen and knocked to the ground by a rubber bullet. Israel Hoagland--Lynn tried to help two people who had been shot with water cannons and rubber bullets and was shot in the back of his head by an impact munition. He lost consciousness, was hospitalized, and needed 17 staples for a head wound. Noah Michael Treanor, while praying, was shot by the water hoses or cannon. Once on the ground, he was shot in the head by an impact munition. Bleeding badly, he was hospitalized.

"The civil rights violations that night were deliberate and punitive," said Rachel Lederman, WPLC lawyer. "The Morton County Sheriff's Department's illegal use of force against the Water Protectors has been escalating. It is only a matter of luck that no one has been killed. This must stop."

Those concerned are urged to call local and federal agencies below to demand (1) immediate end to construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, (2) the immediate cessation and a full investigation into law enforcement abuses, (3) dropping felony charges against water protectors from the October 27 police raid, and (4) permitting the Water Protectors to stay at their current encampment until the DAPL's application to drill under Lake Oahe and the Missouri River is permanently denied.

White House: 202-456-1414 or sign the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's White House petition
White House Situation Room, 202-456-9431
North Dakota Governor's Office: 701-328-2200
Morton County Sheriff's Office: 701-667-3330
Morton County State's Attorney's Office: 701-667-3330
Army Corps of Engineers-Bismarck 701-255-0015

The Water Protector Legal Collective is the National Lawyers Guild legal support team for those engaged in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. It maintains a 24/7 presence on-site at the Oceti Sakowin camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

"This weekend, a group of veterans are heading to the site to act as "human shields" for the protesters. Thousands have registered to go. Here & Now's Robin Young speaks with one of those vets, Dakota Blue Serna (@dakotabusmc), a former Marine."

* 2,000 Vets to Head to Standing Rock as North Dakota Cuts Off Emergency Services to Camps, Democracy Now!, 29 Nov 2016.

** National Lawyers Guild Files First Standing Rock Class Action Suit!,
Stephen Fox, OpEdNews, 30 Nov 2016.

*** Native Gallery MIX of JLuJan – Native American Photographer, American Indian Photography, Tribal Ceremony Images, Photographs of American Indians

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Twitter Meister

King of the Tweeters
The Great Communicator
The Great Manipulator
Given’ ‘em just a taste, or
just doin’ what comes naturally with the tool at hand, Twitter.

Whichever it is, Mr. Trump has mastered Twitter. At his fingers, Twitter has become The Medium for reaching his supporters; making ‘em believe he’s doin’ somethin’ huge; keeping the mainstream media in the palm of his hand; minimizing and controlling available information; and, eliminating substantive reporting.

It reminds me of mortar or artillery harassing fire to keep the enemy pinned down and guessing what’s goin’ on, anxiously occupied for the comin’ attack, if there is one.

That is to say, we are all waiting for the next itty-bit of info that the Meister tosses our way in order to cipher out which way is up.

And, of course there are potential downsides to all this Twitterin', right? Dr. Justin Wolfers, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, University of Michigan, points one out in his Tweet:
As a Michigander, I’ll admit to more than a little distrust when viewin’ Mr. Trump’s tweets claiming a great victory over savin’ 1,000 jobs, since the number of disappeared manufacturing jobs ranges to nearly 5 million over the past 20 years. And, to complicate matters, over the past 25 years, exports have quadrupled and uncompensated productivity has actually skyrocketed with a lot less people workin’. Further, claiming a great victory, without revealing the terms to do so, is not only misleading it is an abysmally microscopic first step compared to losin’ millions.*

*The Carrier Deal Is Great — But Trump Hasn’t Saved Manufacturing Yet, Issie Lapowsky,, 30 Nov 2016.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ah... about Draining That Swamp...

Given the team self-professed, federal-government-dismantlers which Mr. Trump is appointing to his cabinet, we can expect an unrecognizable USA to emerge in short order as these Republican nihilists murder what little humanity exists in our government. It won’t take them long because they are literally drooling like a pack of starving hyenas ready to rip apart and “privatize” our meager consumer protections and miserly human services.

But, the real question is: How long before the flyover-state Trump supporters realize that they have been duped into believing he will make their America great again?*

After all, we already know he wasted no time making his America greater. Right from the get-go he has been monetizing the power of the presidency into his bank account.**

Interesting isn’t it? Mr. Trump seems determined to drain the “swamp”, just like he promised on the campaign trail. But, no one thought to ask him the follow-up question, “Where will you put all those nasty swamp monsters?” 

Now, we know. He’s appointing them to his cabinet and other top level federal jobs.

* Already a Big Gap Between Trump’s Promises to the Middle Class and his Policies, Josh Bivens,, 28 Nov 2016.

** Democrats Ask Oversight Committee To Investigate Trump’s Potential Conflicts Of Interest, Matt Fuller, Huffington Post, 28 Nov 2016.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Election: Wake Up. Listen to the Stories.

by Gary R. Baker, Senior Lecturer, English Composition, University of Akron

Around nine o’clock on the evening of November 8, a friend from college days at Kent State University called me to say that the election results were not going well. He was offering a gentle warning. As we talked, Trump built up his lead in the Electoral College, and the US map grew red and then redder. I told my friend that support for Hillary Clinton in the West – in Colorado – but especially California plus Oregon and Washington – would save the day. Before election day, I had assumed that Clinton would win in a very close vote. I was worried that Trump might win the popular vote with Clinton winning the Electoral College – thus giving Trump “evidence” that the system was rigged against him.

I stayed up much too late that night. I even took my radio to bed with me to continue to listen to the results. Trump’s victory in the Electoral College left me stunned – a bit punch drunk – and on the edge of nausea for several days. I have been trying to figure out what happened and why. What does this election mean? What do we do now?

Donald Trump (with Rudy Giuliani) visited the University of Akron during the Fall Semester. He spoke at the JAR (the arena named for the late Ohio Governor, James A. Rhodes). That day excitement was building. University police were evident – standing next to their cars in the area around the JAR. Just west of the arena, TV trucks with satellite dishes stood ready to beam the rally to the world.

Many tables and small “Trump Stores” were being set up on campus and on the sidewalks bordering the campus. Plenty of wares were laid out – buttons, bumper stickers, baseball caps. The messages on the merchandise were not filtered. One button with Hillary Clinton’s face said, “Life’s a Bitch, So Why Vote for One?”

People planning to attend the rally were walking on campus. They were happy and excited – looking forward to the rally. They looked like working people. They looked like people from smaller towns. They didn’t appear to be students or members of the faculty. Their numbers grew. The line formed near the entrance. The line started to stretch.

Later that afternoon, I watched the rally inside the JAR via a video feed from my laptop in my apartment. It was scheduled to begin at 7 PM. Around 6:10, Rudy Giuliani was warming up the crowd. His energy level hit a peak. His adrenaline was pumping. Every seat and every space was taken. “We planned to start at 7. But the arena is full. It’s packed. The line to get in is not getting any shorter. It keeps growing. So we’ve decided to start. Why wait?” And he proceeded to introduce Donald Trump.

Under spotlights, Trump walked into the arena from a side door to loud, on-going applause. During some of his rallies, Trump had happily encouraged security people or police to throw out protestors – not this time. No protestors appeared in the arena. He went smoothly through his speech. At the end of his speech, he walked down a long line of bleachers. People leaned forward and reached out to shake his hand or to ask him to autograph a T-shirt or Make American Great Again baseball cap. Women came up to him. One woman with her teenaged daughter. Black men. Younger and middle aged white men. He slowly made his way to the side door he had entered earlier. He had many conversations with people along the way.

Look at the faces of the people. To understand what’s going on, we need to look not so much at Trump but at the people. Their faces showed enthusiasm and affection and a willingness to hope. Their faces showed a confidence in Trump that he was someone who heard their stories and felt their concerns on a gut level. To understand what’s going on, we need to listen not so much to Trump’s words but to the stories the people are speaking about their own lives.

Trump carried Ohio. No doubt about it. Clinton carried the urban areas; however, Trump cut into her lead in those traditionally Democratic areas. He swept non-urban counties. Most of the state map ended up “red”.

Trump won a majority in the Electoral College. But Clinton won the national popular vote by around 2,000,000 – the second time in sixteen years that the outcome of the Electoral College vote did not square with the national popular vote.

What Now?

To understand what’s going on, we need to look not so much at Trump but at the people. Their faces showed enthusiasm and affection and a willingness to hope. Their faces showed a confidence in Trump that he was someone who heard their stories and felt their concerns on a gut level. To understand what’s going on, we need to listen not so much to Trump’s words but to the stories the people are speaking about their own lives.

Trump carried Ohio. No doubt about it. Clinton carried the urban areas; however, Trump cut into her lead in those traditionally Democratic areas. He swept non-urban counties. Most of the state map ended up “red”.

Trump won a majority in the Electoral College. But Clinton won the national popular vote by around 2,000,000 – the second time in sixteen years that the outcome of the Electoral College vote did not square with the national popular vote.

We have to hear each other. We have to hear the stories. We have to hear the stories about each other’s lives and the work we do.

The Democratic Party must become the party of working people again – working people of all races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and geographic locations. As working people, we have overlapping and shared identities.

We must work for fairness and justice in our elections. If we keep the Electoral College, we need to reform it. Perhaps we should follow a form of proportional representation within each state to assign electoral votes – rather than the tradition of winner-take-all. We must work for fairness in the drawing of Congressional and state legislative districts. Let’s put an end to gerrymandering. Some states have taken action already and have established non-partisan or independent commissions. California is one of those states. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission has been operating for several years. Take a look at

To make democracy work, we must vote in elections. But between elections we must be like Argus, as James Madison explained. We have to watch the individuals elected and appointed. We have to watch each branch of the government. We must stay awake and aware.

But – so important – we must watch out for each other – especially the most vulnerable, the most exposed to political and economic winds, the people with the least amount of power and the least amount of money in their own hands.    

References and Photo Credits
1. Entertainment Fort Smith
2. Election Results, Ohio, The New York Times
3. Mother Kindness, DownriverUSA
4. Everyday Hero is Next to You , DownriverUSA

Saturday, November 26, 2016

One Executive Worth his Salt

In case you haven’t noticed, some “executives” achieve their “C” suite positions because they are or border upon psychopathic personalities. They treat their employees like trash and their fellow executives like stepping stones.

Sergio Marchionne, however is a human being and an outstanding leader, as well. So, in my book, he is one executive worth his salt.

Mr. Marchionne has repeatedly proven his unequalled management skills over and over these past years as Chief Executive Officer of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.; Chairman and CEO of FCA US LLC.; Chairman of CNH Industrial N.V.; and Chairman and CEO of Ferrari N.V.

When Mr. Machionne speaks I know he speaks with the authority of a corporate combat veteran of untold global-spanning battles.

I lived through Depression.2. I can attest to the fact that for many Michiganders and automotive industry people throughout the world that past “recession” was much deeper and longer lasting than most people can appreciate.

So, when Mr. Machionne says that Mr. Trump is a "game changer", well, I know hard times may be just around the corner.*

I hate the thought of Depression.3, because I fear most of the 99.9% will not sit still and wait to be tossed out of their homes again while the .01% continue to enjoy the "Rich and Famous Life Style" touted by our President-elect.

* Marchionne: Trump is a 'game changer' for auto industry
“President-elect Donald Trump’s critical stance toward free trade could affect Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s business in North America, according to the Italian automaker’s chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne.”

“Trump’s election ‘certainly is a game changer, mainly because I think that there are a number of conditions in the U.S. which are not yet spelled out,’ Marchionne told Bloomberg Television at an Alfa Romeo plant in Cassino, Italy. Statements Trump has made about trade are ‘a big issue’ because of the North American Free Trade Agreement’s impact on Fiat’s operations in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.”

Please go here for the whole story:

Friday, November 25, 2016

Super Charged Battery

While the United States seems headed into a period of neo-Dark Ages, some bright lights are still shining. For how long we do not know since the new administration appears ready to dismantle every governmental program of value, including education. Still, it is not looking good for technological progress, to say nothing about the welfare of us, the “Joe and Jane lunch buckets”, the common un-billionaires, the 99.9%.

So, reading Steve Dent’s report at, about the University of Central Florida’s achievement is like mainlining a brain-boosting IV. Here’s the story:

New battery tech lasts for days, charges in seconds

Scientists from the University of Central Florida (UCF) have created a supercapacitor battery prototype that works like new even after being recharged 30,000 times. The research could yield high-capacity, ultra-fast-charging batteries that last over 20 times longer than a conventional lithium-ion cell. "You could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn't need to charge it again for over a week," says UCF postdoctoral associate Nitin Choudhary.

Supercapacitors can be charged quickly because they store electricity statically on the surface of a material, rather than using chemical reactions like batteries. That requires "two-dimensional" material sheets with large surface areas that can hold lots of electrons. However, much of the research, including that by EV-maker Henrik Fisker and UCLA, uses graphene as the two-dimensional material.

Yeonwoong "Eric" Jung from UCF says it's a challenge to integrate graphene with other materials used in supercapacitors, though. That's why his team wrapped 2D metal materials (TMDs) just a few atoms thick around highly-conductive 1D nanowires, letting electrons pass quickly from the core to the shell. That yielded a fast charging material with high energy and power density that's relatively simple to produce. "We developed a simple chemical synthesis approach so we can very nicely integrate the existing materials with the two-dimensional materials," Jung says.

The research is in early days and not ready for commercialization, but it looks promising. ""For small electronic devices, our materials are surpassing the conventional ones worldwide in terms of energy density, power density and cyclic stability," Choudhary said.

Jung calls the research "proof-of-concept," and the team is now trying to patent its new process. While it could go nowhere like many other battery developments, it's worth looking at new supercapacitor research closely. If commercialized, it could allow for longer-range EVs that can be charged in minutes rather than hours, long-lasting (non-explosive) smartphones that can be charged in seconds and grid or home energy storage solutions that drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Read more about grapheme and other breakthroughs here:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Willow Run's Mobility Future

The other day, a few miles from my location in Downriver Michigan, a few politicians gathered for a photo opportunity. They performed the time-honored, “throw-a-shovelful-of-dirt-toward-the-camera” groundbreaking ceremony at Willow Run Airport, Ypsilanti Township, MI, close to the location of the former, massive Willow Run assembly plant. During WWII more than 8,700 B-24 bombers were built there.*

The new facility, which the dignitaries celebrated, is expected to be in operation by December, 2017, for the American Center for Mobility (ACM). ACM is a non-profit testing and product development facility for future mobility, designed to enable safe validation of connected and automated vehicle technology, and accelerate the development of voluntary standards.

Back in the 1940s thousands of Metro Detroiter workers, many of them women of “Rosie the Riveter” fame, came to Willow Run to work on those airplanes. Over the next few years, the facility itself grew in stature to represent in many ways the best of the “golden generation”. The women proved their value and resourcefulness in a multitude of ways and the B-24 played a huge role during the war.

After the war, General Motors Co. repurposed Willow Run as a powertrain plant.

A few years ago, you will recall, GM fell into hard times and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court created RACER Trust to dispose of properties and facilities owned by the former General Motors Corp. Willow Run became one of the “disposed” facilities, and most of the massive structure was demolished. The remaining portion was sold to the Yankee Air Museum.

ACM has great plans for the new facilities it is building on the legendary property, Explained John Maddox, president and CEO of ACM, “We envision the American Center for Mobility as a global hub for connected and automated vehicle technologies supported by Michigan’s high concentration of automotive expertise. We are excited to be partnering with the state of Michigan to establish a fully-capable, real-world testing and innovation center that will be instrumental in putting self-driving cars on America’s roads.”

“Self-driving cars” aka “autonomous cars” or “driverless cars”… Now, this is the technology that will put us one up over the Jetsons. You remember them, the 2060 family. While their vehicle could fly, it still left the steering to George, the head of the Jetson clan.

Our future car? Well, it will steer itself while we try to “relax”.

Go here for an episode of the Jetsons:
The Jetsons S01E04 - The Space Car

*Go here for more about the ACM groundbreaking.
Willow Run could change how world moves again, Daniel Howes , The Detroit News, 22 Nov 2016.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

35 Cents & a Box of Sugar

It took a lot of effort back then, but I really wanted that exploding battleship toy. It looked like a lot of fun and sending my 35 cents to Battle Creek, Michigan was like taking part in history. I mean, Battle Creek? What a great name! What happened there, anyway?

"I don’t know", I thought, "but just send these boat things to me. I had to have that battleship and submarine!"

Well, one day they came and it was great fun.

The cereal? I guess it was O.K.

Little did I, nor did anyone, know then that sugar would end up making us all sugar addicts some 57 years later and that sugar, in one form or another, would be an ingredient in nearly everything we eat.

The result is that we are not only obese, we are literally the “walking dead”, subject to the eight chronic metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance) diseases: heart disease, lipid (blood) problems, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cancer (especially breast and colon), polycystic ovarian syndrome, and dementia. Please go here for the story:

How did we get into this predicament?

Obviously, most humans have a major sweet tooth. We love sweets. So, in order to sell more product, the process foods industry simply added heaping loads of sugar to everything they made. Back in the 50s and 60s, no one understood the horrible consequences of mega–sugar-overloaded foods.

Today we know.

That’s why this AP headline caught my attention: ‘Independent experts’ paid by Kellogg.

It seems that Kellogg set up a “Breakfast Council” consisting of “independent experts” to help the company with its “nutritional” program. The problem is that Kellogg never directly released the information that their “experts” were paid experts.

For me that rings a warning bell.

Like the tobacco industry, the sugar industry adopted and implemented a long-time “disinformation” program, using paid, “independent experts” to discredit years of research which clearly showed the negative health impact of smoking and consuming too much sugar. Both industries disavowed the fact that experts supporting them were paid by the industries to do so and that the research they proffered was tainted.

Combined, their highly effective PR and advertising disinformation programs have directly led to the lung cancer and metabolic syndrome disease epidemics we have endured over the past 60 or so years. The cost to humanity in misery and death has been horrendous. The cost in healthcare dollars ranges into the trillions of dollars.

I hope Kellogg will quickly implement an effort to inform the public about their paid nutritional expert program. The consuming public needs to know that Kellogg’s has their best health interests in mind.

That Akron, OH, kid... who sent his hard-earned 35 cents to Battle Creek, MI... would greatly appreciate it.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Blind Trust? Or Dumb Trust?

News Flash
Doonesbury,Say What?
21 Nov 2016*

"It's not a blind trust if you and your siblings are still running the company."
-- George Stephanopoulos to Donald Trump, Jr. on "Good Morning, America" in September

"We're not going to be involved in government. We wouldn't be involved in government."
-- Donald Trump, Jr.

"You're running the company, and he's president, so any foreign..."
-- Stephanopoulos

"But he's not making any decisions as it relates to the company."
-- Trump, Jr.

"But it's not a blind trust if it's being run by his children."
-- Stephanopoulos

"It is, because he'll have nothing to do with it, George."
-- Trump, Jr.

"He's still going to know what the businesses are, and where they are...
-- Stephanopoulos

"No he won't. We're not going to discuss those things. It doesn't mattter. Trust me."
-- Trump, Jr

And, they say he's the intelligent one... RB

Go to Doonesbury for more Say What? Stuff.

Go here for the complete frog and the scorpion story.