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Open Thread……………………………May, 2017

This might just be a great year for irises.  I admit to a particular love of the iris.  It’s low maintenance, unlike the rose.  Individual iris rhizomes are expensive.  Not all make it once planted in the fall.  They just don’t plant right.  But if an iris “takes” you are truly rewarded in the spring

Daffodils are long gone. Violet have pretty much had it.  My one healthy azalea looks pretty good.  The other two are circling the drain.  The Kousa dogwood is getting ready to spring to glory.  A few Jobes’ tree spikes seem to make an old tree young again.

Lest we forget–Memorial Day 2017

Guest contribution by our very own poet laureate, Captain George S. Harris:

 

LEST WE FORGET-MEMORIAL DAY 2017

It is just a few days past the day our own Civil War ended on May 9,1865-151 years ago.  On that day, two great armies and two great leaders met at Appomattox, Virginia to begin the process of bringing our nation back together again. They were there to salve the wounds that four years of war had inflicted on its participants.  Some 640,000 men, 2% of our population, were lost; the worst war we have ever been engaged in.  A war that saw fathers against sons and brothers against brothers in a fight to the death.  It was the hope of these two great leaders, General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee, that at last we would once again seek the path to the “perfect union” our founders sought some seventy-eight years earlier during several muggy weeks in the spring and fall of 1787 in Phildelphia.

Some who read this may remember when Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day.  It is a day set aside to decorate the graves of those military folks who lost their lives in service to our Nation.  “Decoration Day or, if you prefer, Memorial Day, began shortly after our Civil War. There are several claims as to just when it began but decorating the graves of warriors has been around for many decades or perhaps centuries.

More than a million Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice and almost all of them in two wars-our own Civil War and World War II.  While we are now engaged in the longest war we have ever known, there are fewer deaths but many more have sustained what are often euphemistically referred to as “life alternating injuries”.  These injuries run from simple wounds to multiple limb loss, paralysis, traumatic brain injury and what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  This latter disorder has had many names in the past but it ultimately means the terrible impact war has on the minds and souls of our military personnel.

No one goes to war who doesn’t come back changed.  It is not always easily recognized but for me and others who read these words, we know because we live with it every day of our lives.  This is not some made up psycho-babble, it is a real, palpable thing.  Most of us continue to live and work and carry out normal lives but others do not even to the point of destroying themselves by suicide.

We have to ask ourselves, “Will the day ever come when we will no longer have any new graves to decorate on Memorial Day?  When will we have peace?” In a speech at American University on June 10, 1963, only a few months before his death by assassination, President John F. Kennedy said this about peace.

“I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children–not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women–not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.”

This Memorial Day, more than 1,000 soldiers will place flags at more than 300,000 graves in the annual “Flags In” ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.  Lest we forget, this is the price of freedom for our great Nation.

 

God bless all those who have gone before and God bless the Untied States of America on this Memorial Day.

“Hymn to the Fallen” by John Williams featured.

More than a name on a wall

“Lord my boy was special and he meant so much to me…”
Those words are probably in the heart of every parent who has lost a child to the ravages of war.

This song is special to me because it was co-written by my classmate and friend, John Rimel.    (Jimmy Fortune was the other co-writer,)   The song also reminds me of a  special Veterans Day I spent with someone’s mother from the midwest who had come to D. C.  to visit the wall.  She had come  to find the name of her only son who died in the Vietnam on his 19th birthday.  The woman had never been to the Wall before and I doubt if she ever went back.  I felt honored to have spoken with her for about a half hour that day.

My generation is etched all over that wall.  There are over 50,000 names on that Wall.  I can’t help but feel that our country wasted the lives of those young men.  It’s probably time for us to start paying more attention to the Vietnam veterans.   They are starting to die off– some due to old age, some to disease, and some because of war inflicted ailments that are killing off those men in greater numbers than should be happening.  I have two friends who have lost their husbands because of exposure to agent orange.  How long were we told that agent orange was harmless?

This Memorial Day I would like highlight the memory of Charlie Milton, another classmate, who died in Vietnam at age 19.  You know, that’s just too damn young to die.

Again the motor cycles will roar and Rolling Thunder will make its way into town to note that some of those POWs never came home.  No one knows what became of them.  Rolling Thunder also pays tribute to the dead.  My generation is loud.  Rolling Thunder is no exception.

I find it difficult to go to the Wall.  If I am in a memorial kind of mood, I always choose the World War II memorial.  It makes sense to me.  Vietnam doesn’t.  It’s also a beautiful memorial.  It’s grand.  It’s shining and it took far too long to be built.  Soon we won’t see any veterans of that war.   They are fading away.  My own father would be 100 this September if he was still alive.  He served in WWII.

If you have a friend or love one killed in combat, please feel free to pay tribute to them here.

 

The “Shover in Charge” pushes past the PM of Montenegro

Trump once again proves what a rude, ugly person he is as he shoves past the Prime Minister of Montenegro, just so he can be in the front center position.  He even poses once he has secured the position.

Something is just wrong with a person who behaves in this manner.  It appears his only concern is himself and his own ego.

I would love to have heard the verbal exchange, although I am sure it was cringe-worthy.

Comments from around the world.

School board chairman takes Superintendent Walts to court

Princewilliamtimes.com:

Prince William County School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers is taking Superintendent Steven Walts to court in an effort to gain access to his predecessors’ emails.

Sawyers (At Large) filed a “petition for writ of mandamus” in Prince William County Circuit Court against Walts Tuesday. The petition asks a judge to order Walts to provide the petitioner – Sawyers — “immediate access to school board communications whether from previous boards or the current board.”

Sawyers shared the petition with the Times Tuesday and said he decided to file it because he’s convinced emails sent and received by school board members belong to duly elected members of those offices, and that Walts has no right to withhold them.

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Montana candidate Greg Gianforte assaults and body slams reporter

Washingtonpost.com:

A Fox News reporter provided a vivid eyewitness account late Wednesday of an attack on a reporter by Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte that led to him being cited for assault by the county sheriff and to lose his endorsements from two Montana newspapers ahead of the special election set for Thursday.

Both papers, the Missoulian and the Billings Gazette, issued scathing denunciations of Gianforte.

The alleged assault took place at Gianforte’s headquarters in Bozeman, where Fox’s Alicia Acuna and her crew were preparing a story to air on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

As the crew was setting up, Gianforte was approached by the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs, who put a voice recorder “to Gianforte’s face and began asking if he had a response to the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act,” the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act, she wrote.

“Gianforte,” Acuna wrote, “told him he would get back to him later. Jacobs persisted with his question. Gianforte told him to talk to his press guy, Shane Scanlon.

“At that point,” she wrote, “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.”

Acuna and her crew “watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’”

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Draconian budget proposals aimed at the poor

 

Washingtonpost.com:

President Trump’s proposal to cut federal spending by more than $3.6 trillion over the next decade — including deep reductions for programs that help the poor — faced harsh criticism in Congress on Tuesday, where even many Republicans said the White House had gone too far.

While some fiscally conservative lawmakers, particularly in the House, found a lot to praise in Trump’s plan to balance the budget within 10 years, most Republicans flatly rejected the White House proposal. The divide sets up a clash between House conservatives and a growing number of Senate Republicans who would rather work with Democrats on a spending deal than entertain Trump’s deep cuts.

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Turkish president’s security guards go thug on protesters

NYtimes.com:

WASHINGTON — Supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, including his government security forces and several armed individuals, violently charged a group of protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence here on Tuesday night in what the police characterized as “a brutal attack.”

Eleven people were injured, including a police officer, and nine were taken to a hospital, the Metropolitan Police chief, Peter Newsham, said at a news conference on Wednesday. Two Secret Service agents were also assaulted in the melee, according to a federal law enforcement official.

The State Department condemned the attack as an assault on free speech and warned Turkey that the action would not be tolerated. “We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms,” said Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman.

A group of Republican lawmakers went a step further, calling the episode an “affront to the United States” and calling for Turkey to apologize.

Photos and videos posted on social media by witnesses showed a chaotic scene of flying fists, feet and police batons — all in the middle of rush hour traffic along stately Embassy Row. The video showed two men bleeding from the head and men in dark suits punching and kicking protesters, some lying on the ground.

 

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McCarthy speaks what no one else has the guts to say

Washingtonpost.com:

A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

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When does Trump go?

Trump has lied so much to the American people that I have lost track.  It is time for the Republicans to do the right thing and being impeachment proceedings.

Perhaps Mitch McConnell will step down since he clearly has a conflict of interest, since his wife is part of Trump’s cabinet.

There seems to be no honesty, no integrity, and no accountability.  I am very worried about the nation.

What is it they say about “birds of a feather?”

Dailyprogress.com:

The Charlottesville man who made headlines with his attempts to oust a city councilor will perform 50 hours of community service after being convicted of misdemeanor assault.

Blogger Jason Kessler was in Charlottesville General District court on Monday for a sentencing hearing after having pleaded guilty in April to misdemeanor assault.

The charge stemmed from a January incident on the Downtown Mall, where Kessler was hawking his petition to have Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy removed from office over allegations that he misused his office. James Justin Taylor, of Crozet, has told reporters that when he approached Kessler and insulted the petition, Kessler responded by punching him in the face.

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Starbucks Store Manager Earns a Degree after 25-year Delay

news.Starbucks.com:

By Steve Stolder / Starbucks Newsroom

Every summer for 15 years, Raymond Smith has delivered what he calls “The Professor’s Perspective” to incoming Indiana University Bloomington students and their parents. He estimates 12,000 people have heard him give his talk about the perils of freshman year and the challenges that confront those who don’t make it through the fraught first months on campus.

The 64-year-old professor of literary studies draws on academic research, telling the hundreds who attend each lecture about a crucial time-to-degree variable – the less time you take, the more likely you are to graduate. And he reads “A Letter to Laura,” an unsent note he’d composed in the early 1990s, shortly after he came to Indiana. Addressed to his niece, the letter offers reminiscences from his own undergrad days, as well as four or five tested tips for surviving what he calls “the hottest of the flaming hoops that students jump through.”

“About once every other year, some parent in the question-and-answer period will ask, ‘What ever happened to Laura?’” Smith recalled. “And I’ll say, ‘Well, she really wasn’t in a position to take my advice.’”

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Kentucky Judge refuses to hear adoption cases involving gay parents

Washingtonpost.com:

Two years after a Kentucky county clerk stirred national attention for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a family court judge in the same state announced he will no longer hear adoption cases involving gay parents, calling his stance on the issue “a matter of conscience.”

Judge W. Mitchell Nance, who sits in Barren and Metcalfe counties in Kentucky, issued an order Thursday saying he believes that allowing a “practicing homosexual” to adopt would “under no circumstance” promote the best interest of the child, he wrote in the order obtained by The Washington Post.

The judge disqualified himself from any adoption cases involving gay couples, citing judicial ethics codes requiring that judges recuse themselves whenever they have a “personal bias or prejudice” concerning a case. Nance’s “conscientious objection” to the concept of gay parents adopting children constitutes such a bias, he argued.

The announcement garnered support from some conservative groups, while also spurring intense criticism from some lawyers and judicial ethics experts who viewed the blanket statement as discriminatory, and a sign that Nance is not fit to fulfill his duties as a judge. Kentucky state law permits gay couples to adopt children, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that all states must allow same-sex marriage.

Judge Nance is free to believe what he wants.  However, he has to do his job according to the laws of both Kentucky and the United States of America.  If he cannot, then he needs to step down.  You can’t cherry-pick the law.   The problem with just recusing himself is that other people have to pick up the slack.

What other biases does he have that might preclude fairness on the bench?  Do his colleagues agree to trade off cases so everyone has the same work load?  Is this a new equal pay for equal work question?

Interesting things to follow regarding this case.

 

Altering facts to fit your reality

This page is being updated.

Thank you for your interest in this topic. We are currently updating our website to reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt. If you’re looking for an archived version of this page, you can find it on the January 19 snapshot.

(the above is from the EPA website)

Washingtonpost.com:

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday evening that its website would be “undergoing changes” to better represent the new direction the agency is taking, triggering the removal of several agency websites containing detailed climate data and scientific information.

One of the websites that appeared to be gone had been cited to challenge statements made by the EPA’s new administrator, Scott Pruitt. Another provided detailed information on the previous administration’s Clean Power Plan, including fact sheets about greenhouse gas emissions on the state and local levels and how different demographic groups were affected by such emissions.

The changes came less than 24 hours before thousands of protesters were set to march in Washington and around the country in support of political action to push back against the Trump administration’s rollbacks of former president Barack Obama’s climate policies.

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