Friday, March 29, 2019

Inspiration

John Sato, 95, with helpers at the march against racism in Auckland last Sunday.
FIONA GOODALL/GETTY IMAGES
Inspiration comes in many ways. Take John Sato, a 95-year-old veteran, for instance.

Mr. Sato explained that after the Christchurch shootings he, "...stayed awake quite a lot of the night, and I didn't sleep too well ever since. I thought it was so sad. You can feel the suffering of other people."

He decided he needed to attend the "Love Aotearoa, Hate Racism rally (that) took place at Aotea Square in Auckland on Sunday afternoon in response to the Christchurch shootings," even though it required four bus transfers to get there.

Sato continued, "I think it is such a tragedy, and yet it has the other side. It has brought people together. It doesn't matter what their race, or anything. People, they suddenly realise, we're all one. We care for each other."

That is why Mr. Sato is such a positive inspiration.

Please listen to this RNZ Morning Report, by Guyon Espiner and Susie Ferguson.


Please go here for the whole story.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Our Insanity Costs... a Lot

Pallets of cash unloaded on to the tarmac at Baghdad International Airport.Source: CNBC Sources
We are a totally insane people. We allow our politicians to waste our tax money instead of using our billions to mitigate the challenges we face at home. Here are just a few recent examples:


Those challenges at home? Here is how Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) described them:

AOC Tears Into Republicans Painting Green New Deal as “Elitist”



Please go here for the whole story.

Oh, one thing more. How do you pay for the morally right things we should be doing... that is, the sane things we should be doing? Here’s how:

Ocasio-Cortez Makes Cuomo Look Dumb For 'How Do You Pay' Question



Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Drive-By Gun Woman


What does a drive-by gunman and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have in common?

The creepy ability to hurt the defenseless.

Since living in the Metro Detroit area, I’ve noticed a strange fact: when a “tough guy” gun wielder drives by and discharges a fuselage of death into a home... he next-to-never manages to hit an adult. Usually, an innocent child is killed or wounded. And, the gunman gets his medal of bravery by taking a baby’s life with no fear of return fire.

Likewise, I find the DeVos deep budget cuts to Special Olympics like a drive-by shooting. She gets away with claiming budget-cutting bravery by hurting innocent Special Olympic participants while giving millions of dollars to wealthy charter schools… without worrying about taking return fire.

It’s easy peasy for a wealthy, entitled person to hurt defenseless humans… those who need all the help they can get… while securing more bucks for the wealthy.


Easy peasy.

James Taylor - Sweet Baby James - 1970


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Mr. Mueller’s Other Shoe

Ah… hold on thar… just a darn ol' minute!

All this celebrating by the Trumpists and wailing, rendering of cloths, etc., by the rest of us is just an itty-bitty bit early. Don’t you think?

I mean the only guy who says he’s read the Mueller Report, Mr. Wm. Barr, says it’s great news for his boss, Mr. Trump. But no one else has so much as held a copy of the report.

All we have is his word as the new Attorney General of the Trump Administration. The last time he did something similar is when he helped Mr. George H.W. Bush and his administration get away the Iran-Contra scandal. Further, this is the guy who claimed, it’s “…legally impossible for a sitting president to obstruct justice, and even if they did, he cannot be prosecuted for it while in office”.

Obviously, we will clearly benefit when someone other than Mr. Barr reads Mr. Mueller’s Report.

After that, there’s a lot more to come for Mr. Trump and for the rest of us to endure. For starters,  Mr. William Rivers Pitt, Truthout.org, lists the following:

  • Roger Stone is set for trial in November;
  • The Southern District of New York investigation into Trump’s payments of hush money via Michael Cohen is ongoing;
  • Multiple state and federal officials are investigating the shenanigans that went into the collection of a record $107 million by Trump’s inaugural committee;
  • The New York Department of Financial Services is investigating whether Trump illegally inflated his net worth to insurance companies per Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony;
  • The New York attorney general is investigating Trump’s questionable dealings with Deutsche Bank;
  • The Trump Foundation is under investigation for what that attorney general has called a “shocking pattern of illegality”;
  • The New York State tax department is investigating Trump’s decades-long tax schemes;
  • Federal and state investigators are looking into Trump’s hiring of undocumented workers;
  • … and on top of all this are the ongoing investigations by the House Intelligence Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Oversight Committee, the Financial Services Committee, the Ways and Means Committee, and the Foreign Affairs Committee. 

I think I'll wait a while... just to take a gander at Mr. Mueller's old shoe.

Yogi Berra: The man behind 'It ain't over till it's over' - BBC News


Monday, March 25, 2019

Waiting

Waiting for the other Mueller shoe to drop. (Please for give me, Berkeley.)
Art credit: Berkeley Breathed, Bloom County.

Friday, March 22, 2019

World's Heroes

Often, I have given up hope for us, for humanity, overcome with sorrow that the powers that be have accumulated all the "power" on earth – money, governments – everything.

For all of history, "They" have sacrificed countless people to put more hordes of gold in their castles, serfs in dungeons, soldiers in their graves.

Then, something astounding happens, like hundreds of New Zealanders gathering to create a human chain around local mosques so the Muslim community inside can pray in peace.

God be with you New Zealand. You are the World's Heroes.

Bette Midler - Wind Beneath My Wings - (Beaches) - 1988


#downriverusa #rondbaker>

Truth in Trouble

Robert Preston, Meredith Willson's, Ya Got Trouble (in River City), The Music Man

The trouble with telling lies about oneself and others is that after a while of “truth miss-telling” one tends to lose connection with reality and unable to remember which statements are true and which are lies. Sadly, miss-tellers often tend to believe their own lies and make decisions based upon them.

While outright lying seems to be in fashion today, the person telling the tall tales is of critical importance. No problem if just the average guy is full of BS. But, if it’s the person in charge of everything, The President, well, that’s when “Trouble in River City”(please see below) becomes a seriously real problem.

This time I’m not referring to the King of "Alternative Facts" and misdirection, Mr. Trump. No, this time I’m remembering another King of Lies… George W. Bush.

You may recall that 16 years ago, on 20 March 2003, President George W. Bush launched our war on Iraq. He told us a whole bunch of lies to win our support for unleashing the U.S. brand of death and destruction on the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The cost of those lies? Here's a partial accounting... posted last year…


“First, the economic costs: According to estimates by the Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the war on terror has cost Americans a staggering $5.6 trillion since 2001, when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan.”

“$5.6 trillion. This figure includes not just the Pentagon’s war fund, but also future obligations such as social services for an ever-growing number of post-9/11 veterans.”

“It’s hard for most of us to even begin to grasp such an enormous number.”

“It means Americans spend $32 million per hour, according to a counter by the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.”

“Put another way: Since 2001, every American taxpayer has spent almost $24,000 on the wars — equal to the average down payment on a house, a new Honda Accord, or a year at a public university.”

“As stupefying as those numbers are, the budgetary costs pale in comparison with the human toll.”

“As of 2015, when the Costs of War project made its latest tallies, up to 165,000 Iraqi civilians had died as a direct consequence of U.S. war, plus around 8,000 U.S. soldiers and military contractors in Iraq.”

“Those numbers have only continued to rise. Up to 6,000 civilians were killed by U.S.-led strikes in Iraq and Syria in 2017 –– more civilians than in any previous year, according to the watchdog group AirWars.”

“In addition to those direct deaths, at least four times as many people in Iraq have died from the side effects of war, such as malnutrition, environmental degradation, and deteriorated infrastructure.”

“Since the 2003 invasion, for instance, Iraqi health care has plummeted — with hospitals and clinics bombed, supplies of medicine and electricity jeopardized, and thousands of physicians and healthcare workers fleeing the country.”

“Meanwhile, the war continues to spread, no longer limited to Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria, as many Americans think. Indeed, the U.S. military is escalating a shadowy network of anti-terror operations all across the world — in at least 76 nations, or 40 percent of countries on the planet.”

Truth has been in trouble for a long, long time. The problem is, a whole lot of people have paid the ultimate price for the "alternative fact" lies.

Costs of War: the Human Toll of the Post-9/11 Wars




 Robert Preston - "Ya Got Trouble" (In River City) - The Music Man - 1962



#downriverusa #rondbaker

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Consider Your Egg


Are we what we eat?

Yes, we are what we eat. And more, too. Like, what we think.

So, what do your think about the eggs you eat?

Not much?

Perhaps you should give them a second thought.

Here’s why:

Are Eggs Bad for Your Heart Health? Maybe, Nicholas Bakalar, The New York Times, 15 March 2019.

"A new analysis found that for each additional 300 milligrams a day of cholesterol in the diet — and the more eggs you ate — the greater the risk for cardiovascular disease."

"Some nutrition experts say eggs are good for you, even though they are high in cholesterol. Others are sure they are bad. A large new study may help resolve at least some of the confusion."

"The new analysis looked at data from six large prospective studies involving almost 30,000 participants, with an average follow-up of more than 17 years. It found that for each additional 300 milligrams a day of cholesterol in the diet, there was a 17 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease and an 18 percent increased risk of premature death from any cause."

"Eggs alone — a large egg has about 185 milligrams of cholesterol, all of it contained in the yolk — had the same more-is-worse effect. Each additional half-egg a day was associated with a 6 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease and an 8 percent increased risk of early death."

"The study findings are observational and cannot establish cause and effect. But no matter how heart-healthy the rest of a person’s diet, the more eggs consumed, the greater the risk for cardiovascular events, coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure and premature death. The same was true for dietary cholesterol, independent of other dietary characteristics: The more cholesterol in your diet, the higher the risk for disease. The findings were published in JAMA."

-more-

Egg (song) CG5 - 2019



#downriverusa #rondbaker

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

DIY... Regenerated Body Parts



Just think... you'll never need the Wizard of Oz because you'll soon be able to regeneration your own body parts!

No doubt Big Pharma will figure out a way to charge you. Still, it'll be in there... a new brain, a heart, etc. All in your Walgreen's bottle.

Seriously, Harvard researchers may have found the DNA "switch" that controls whole-body regeneration.

Here's the story...

Study uncovers genes that control process of whole-body regeneration, Peter Reuell, The Harvard Gazette, 14 Mar 2019.

"When it comes to regeneration, some animals are capable of amazing feats. If you cut off a salamander’s leg, it will grow back. When threatened, some geckos drop their tails to distract their predator, only to regrow them later."

"Other animals take the process even further. Planarian worms, jellyfish, and sea anemones can actually regenerate their bodies after being cut in half."

"Led by Assistant Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Mansi Srivastava, a team of researchers is shedding new light on how animals pull off the feat, along the way uncovering a number of DNA switches that appear to control genes for whole-body regeneration. The study is described in a March 15 paper in Science."

-more-

If I Only Had a Brain - The Wizard of Oz -1939


#downriverusa #rondbaker

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

BS Games People Play



The other day I was flipping through a few AM radio stations just to hear their current format. I didn’t expect to hear something new because, as I hear it, nothing seems to have changed much since the 1950's, when AM was the only choice on the radio.

Well, that’s not exactly true. Because today, unfortunately, Rush Limbaugh can be heard, loud and clear, via one of the classic stations in Metro Detroit.

I’m not a Rush fan.

Before I switched back to FM, I caught these few seconds of his “rant”. Limbaugh blasted something like… the New Zealand murderer, “is actually a leftist trying to smear his political enemies… the shooter says he’s not a conservative, not a Christian and that he identifies as an eco-fascist, which would make him a supporter of the Green New Deal. He adds that he disagrees with Trump on politics.”

“Rush”, I thought, “you are clearly insane.”

“But I’m sure you’re raking in the big bucks spewing your brand of crap.”

“I wonder”, I thought further, “how much longer will people listen to you play your brand of BS game.”


#downriverusa #rondbaker

Joe South - Games People Play - 1968


Monday, March 18, 2019

Seeing Again

Sesame Street - Four Blind Mice -1969
Wouldn't it be great if sight could be restored?

Blind people could see again. That would be great.

Well, perhaps that will be true. Soon.

Here's the story...

With single gene insertion, blind mice regain sight, University of California- Berkeley, medicalxpress.com, 15 March 2019.

"It was surprisingly simple. University of California, Berkeley, scientists inserted a gene for a green-light receptor into the eyes of blind mice and, a month later, they were navigating around obstacles as easily as mice with no vision problems. They were able to see motion, brightness changes over a thousandfold range and fine detail on an iPad sufficient to distinguish letters."

"The researchers say that, within as little as three years, the gene therapy—delivered via an inactivated virus—could be tried in humans who've lost sight because of retinal degeneration, ideally giving them enough vision to move around and potentially restoring their ability to read or watch video."

"You would inject this virus into a person's eye and, a couple months later, they'd be seeing something," said Ehud Isacoff, a UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology and director of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. "With neurodegenerative diseases of the retina, often all people try to do is halt or slow further degeneration. But something that restores an image in a few months—it is an amazing thing to think about."

About 170 million people worldwide live with age-related macular degeneration, which strikes one in 10 people over the age of 55, while 1.7 million people worldwide have the most common form of inherited blindness, retinitis pigmentosa, which typically leaves people blind by the age of 40.

-more-

Sesame Street - Four Blind Mice -1969



Friday, March 15, 2019

King Pickpocket

One thing is certain, Mr. Trump is more adept than most politicos at distracting attention.

For instance, while he is suggesting that his followers might decide to use violence against the rest of us unless he gets his way, his minions are out dismantling our government, and handing out publicly owned lands and natural resources to his corporate buddies.

Wow. He is the King of Pickpockets. We really do need to watch where those little hands are going... all the time.

You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two (from: "Oliver!" - 1968)







Thursday, March 14, 2019

Knowing Earlier Makes Big Difference

A newly published study adds weight to the growing body of evidence suggesting cognitive decline can be tracked through changes in the eye. (Credit: Wavebreakmedia/Depositphotos)

A Duke University research study... "published in the journal Ophthalmology Retina, has reported that statistically significant differences can be identified in the retinas of patients with Alzheimer's disease. The finding paves the way for a future where the disease could be diagnosed from a simple eye scan before major symptoms appear."

The study was reported in a New Atlas article,  Alzheimer's eye test could catch the disease before symptoms appear, written by Rich Haridy and posted 11 March 2019.

"...the results were satisfyingly clear, with the Alzheimer's subjects displaying significantly reduced macular vessel density and perfusion density in comparison to both the healthy control and the MCI subjects. This suggests that not only could the OCTA imaging serve as an easy diagnostic test that can detect Alzheimer's disease, but further work to better home in on the how different stages of retinal degeneration correlate with neurodegeneration may lead to a quick eye test that identifies patients at the very earliest stages of cognitive decline, before the symptoms become clinically evident."

"Ultimately, the goal would be to use this technology to detect Alzheimer's early, before symptoms of memory loss are evident, and be able to monitor these changes over time in participants of clinical trials studying new Alzheimer's treatments," says Fekrat."

"This kind of eye scan, tracking thinning in the retina, is also being investigated as an early detection tool to catch patients with Parkinson's disease before major symptoms present. The research is still in its nascent stages, and more work is needed before it can be widely rolled out, but the implications are exciting. A quick, non-invasive eye examination that can be routinely rolled out to identify those at risk of neurodegeneration before it takes hold would allow a huge range of preventative treatments to be deployed."

Here's the whole story...

The Tenors - I Remember You - 2015


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Our Lives Have Value


Reading Mr. Trump's budget reminded me that we have a choice.

We can choose to accept the same-old-same-old... more spending for the Republican Defense Industry Global Corporations and much less for what matters most for us, such as Environmental Protection, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Transportation, Education, Medicare, Social Security, and diplomacy.

Or, we can make our government work for us by, "not taking it anymore".

Why? Because our lives have value. Government must begin to spend our money to help us.

Let's make change happen for us rather than continuing to accept the same-old-same-old again.

I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore! Speech from Network - 1976


lbtve
Published on Aug 17, 2013
"I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression."

"Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it."

"We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be."

"We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.'"

"Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street."

"All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!' 

So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!' I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!'

Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Local Gov Accountability on State Level


One of the many blessing we enjoy in the United States is perhaps the one most unacknowledged. That is that for the most part, our local governments work.

By that I mean local governments effectively and efficiently operate for the benefit of their citizens.

Certainly, for me that is true because I am lucky to live in a Michigan township, Grosse Ile, with honest, dedicated, capable, flexible and forward thinking elected leaders and public servants.

From my years of experience working with cities, counties and regional governments in Michigan and Ohio, I can also extend my praise to a host of other communities, too.

By the way, on the local government level, for the most part, my experience tells me that party affiliation makes no difference. When the rubber meets the road, what really matters is what is in the hearts of the leaders – are they dedicated to working for the community’s best interests or are they more interested in leveraging their position of public trust for personal advancement and/or pocketbook.

Another and equally important measure of leadership is the ability to face tough issues head on and create a grounded, sustainable solution and then go to us - the people, face-to-face - answer our questions with facts and convince us that the plan is a wise solution for all of us.

The local government leaders I've had the honor of working with usually confront and solve local issues, while state and federal leaders are usually not accountable to the same standard… perhaps we no longer expect equally high standards from them or they’re using a totally different playbook.

Anyway, for us in Michigan, the gods of government may be ready to grant us a reprieve since our recently elected Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, is now facing one of her first tests of leadership with her plan to fix our “damn roads”.

Her plan calls for a $.45 tax increase per gallon of gas in order to raise the revenue needed to maintain and repair our roads.

After years of "kick-the-can-down-the-road state house and senate leadership", it appears that we now have a leader who is willing to solve our roads challenge by facing the fact that it costs money to do the job right.

So, maybe our roads will finally be repaired and maintained under some rational plan.

It’s obvious that each of us will pay the price of fixing our roads - either in vehicle repairs, loss of home property value, lost sales/profits - or at the pump.

My choice is at the pump.

I hope Gov. Whitmer does a good job convincing us with the facts that her plan is best for all of us.

Bruce Springsteen - We Take Care of Our Own - 2012 


Friday, March 1, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC)... Stateswoman in Action

Photo credit: Screen capture from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
questions Michael Cohen (C-SPAN) See video clip below.
It's been so long. A few of us have forgotten, but most of us are too young to have seen what it looks like when an Representative actually does his/her job for the people of his/her district and for the people of the United States.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) recently gave us a clear example of an American stateswoman in action.

Here's the story...

At the End of a Long, Tedious Cohen Hearing, AOC Was Sharp and Crisp, Ed Kilgore, nymag.com, 27 Feb 2019.

"Until today, I had been skeptical about the hype over new congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She is, after all, a backbencher from a safe Democratic district in a heavily Democratic state. She won an impressive upset primary victory last year, but is still south of 30 years old and belongs to the small if interesting tribe of self-identified democratic socialists (to which I do not happen to belong). Maybe I don’t spend enough time on social media to understand her mastery of latter-day communications. But I figured she had become a self-perpetuating legend probably resented by her colleagues who spent years toiling for a tiny fraction of the attention she’s attracted."

"But at the end of a long, tedious day in the House Oversight Committee marked by clumsy questioning of Michael Cohen by Democrats, and shrieking hostility to the witness from Trump-loving Republicans, AOC (as she is universally known in the political universe — you know, like FDR and JFK) put in perhaps the single most impressive appearance of the hearing."

"She was crisp, succinct, and very focused on raising some previously undiscussed potential criminal liability issues for Trump that Cohen’s testimony suggested (e.g, insurance fraud), including several where the hot-button issue of Trump’s missing tax returns might be germane. I wasn’t the only viewer who was impressed; so was the fact-checker from the Washington Post, another person unlikely to be excessively biased toward AOC:"

Please go here for the rest of the story.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questions Michael Cohen (C-SPAN)