Saturday, November 30, 2019

It Can Be Done

I was surprised that the concept of the New Green Deal has been around for over a decade. Far more ambitious than the Green Shift once proposed by Stephan Dion, it is very much doable, but of course the usual suspects (captured governments, the fossil-fuel industry, etc.) fight it all the way.

Although the following short documentary by The Guardian is directed toward U.K. action, the ideas in it are applicable worldwide.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Looking Toward Liberation


I have regular telephone conversations with my friend Dave, who lives in Winnipeg. Like me, he has a very jaundiced view of those elected to 'serve' us, and part of our routine is to compare and bemoan the atrocities committed by our respective provincial governments. While things are bad under the 'leadership' of Brian Pallister, I always maintain that our suffering under the Ford government is more acute and embarrassing. Ontario's shame in electing a bully and blowhard ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of life today is one we must collectively bear, at least until the next election.

The latest cause for cringing comes from our Energy Minister, Greg Rickford, who recently had a very peculiar justification for the cancellation of almost 800 green energy project in the province, a cancellation that could ultimately cost the taxpayer well in excess of $231 million (with some suggesting it could top $1 billion).
Ontario Energy Minister Greg Rickford is taking heat for quoting from an online magazine — which denies the scientific consensus on climate change — to justify scrapping more than 750 renewable energy projects at a cost to taxpayers of $231 million.

For the second day in a row, Rickford referred Tuesday to an article in the U.S.-based Climate Change Dispatch headlined “Germany pulls plug on wind energy as industry suffers severe crisis,” as the NDP raised concerns about the Ontario government’s cancellation of wind turbine and solar projects.
Rickford claimed the periodical is one of his favourities, and that as a well-educated person, it is incumbent upon him to always look at both sides of an issue, an assertion that drew derision from the Opposition:
Opposition parties jumped on Rickford for relying on the magazine, whose website says it “does not believe in consensus science” and describes “global warming alarmists” as “those who believe man is wholly or largely responsible for any fluctuation in the planet’s overall surface temperature.”

“It’s shocking,” said New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath, slamming the Ford government for cancelling the Liberal cap-and-trade program aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, firing the independent environmental commissioner and scrapping programs to promote electric vehicles.

“Everything they’re doing is falling in line with people who would be denying climate change.”
Happily, outrage is not confined to the legislature, as the following letter to the editor make abundantly clear:
Ontario’s minister of energy, Greg Rickford, characterizes himself as a “well-studied man” and a lawyer, yet he quotes from a fringe climate change denier website. Perhaps Rickford is not as well studied as he purports to be.

Neither is he employing logic, a mode of thinking which is to be expected of a lawyer. While it is commendable to hear both sides of any issue, sometimes, when there is overwhelming scientific proof, as is the case with the anthropogenic climate change position, the “other side” does not stand up to scrutiny at all. Climate change is not a matter of opinion any more than the fact that gravity is keeping us from flying off into space is an opinion. Perhaps the minister would seriously entertain arguments from flat-earthers, anti-vaxers and Creationists as well, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding? Science is evidence based, not opinion based. Facts are facts. No amount of posturing or proselytizing can change that. To paraphrase astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson, it’s your prerogative to think what you like about the world around you, but that doesn’t change the facts. Climate change is cited as the single most urgent issue facing our planet.

While Minister Rickford claims he is not a climate change denier, his behaviour says just the opposite. To have a minister of energy who rolls back green energy initiatives, tries to stop the federal carbon levy and quotes from fringe websites is just beyond the pale and highly irresponsible.

Pandering to his voter base, rather than pursuing positive action to reduce greenhouse gases, does all of us a huge disservice. We should all expect better from our elected officials.

Jonathan O’Mara, Whitby
I, and I am sure countless others, look forward to the day we will be liberated from this rambling, ridiculous and retrograde regime. It cannot come quickly enough.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Rudy Guiliani And Associates

I do not have a subscription to The Wall Street Journal, but the following from that paper makes for very interesting viewing, and leaves no doubt about the lies Donald Trump regularly tells with such facility. It also suggests that the noose may be tightening around crazy Uncle Rudy's neck.
Subpoenas issued to people with ties to President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and his associates indicate a broad federal investigation into possible money laundering, obstruction of justice and campaign-finance violations, and suggest that prosecutors are looking closely at the work of Mr. Giuliani himself, according to people familiar with the matter.
And Raw Story adds the following:
“Subpoenas described to The Wall Street Journal listed more than a half dozen potential charges under consideration,” the WSJ writes, before detailing the charges of “obstruction of justice, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the United States, making false statements to the federal government, serving as an agent of a foreign government without registering with the Justice Department, donating funds from foreign nationals, making contributions in the name of another person or allowing someone else to use one’s name to make a contribution, along with mail fraud and wire fraud.”


Sunday, November 24, 2019

Where Lies The Truth?

Chip Franklin thinks he knows:


Saturday, November 23, 2019

Our Reach Clearly Exceeds Our Grasp



It is to state the obvious that our love of convenience, our addiction to a throwaway lifestyle, is very destructive, not only to us and our immediate environment, but also to distant seas and their inhabitants.

Amy Smart writes:
A pioneering study of seven belugas in Canada’s remote Arctic waters has found microplastics in the innards of every single whale.

Researchers from Ocean Wise worked with hunters from the Inuvialuit community of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., to collect samples from whales they harvested between 2017 and 2018.

They found an average of nearly 10 microplastics, or particles less than five millimetres in size, in the gastrointestinal tracts of each beluga.

Lead author Rhiannon Moore says she wasn’t expecting to see so many microplastics so far north.

“It actually surprised me at first. I thought, this is a far-north top predator in the Arctic in a fairly remote place,” Moore says in an interview.

It demonstrated just how far microplastics can travel and how they’ve penetrated even the most remote environments, she says.
It is believed that the plastics find their way into the whales' systems through their prey, which are riddled with them.

And lest we just think that's too bad for the whales, those microplastics are increasingly found in the very water we drink. Earth Day Network has posted some disturbing facts, including the following:
Microplastics in different forms are present in almost all water systems in the world, be they streams, rivers, lakes, or oceans.

According to a study conducted by Orb Media on plastics and tap water, 83% of tested water samples from major metropolitan areas around the world were contaminated with plastic fibers.

Plastic fibers were also found in bottled water produced by 11 of the world’s largest brands purchased from 19 locations in 9 countries. 93% of bottled water showed some sign of microplastic contamination, including polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

Each year, about 1 million tons of tiny plastic fibers are released into wastewater.
Modern technology has brought us many wonders. It has also unleashed countless horrors, plastic pollution certainly not being the least of them.

Ingesting material with a petrochemical composition is never a good idea, and the price we are paying is becoming increasingly apparent. Clearly, our reach is continuing, at an ever-increasing pace, to exceed our grasp of the consequences.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Putting Things Into Perspective

You can always count on Chip Franklin to deliver:

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

This Is Us

Humanity has achieved much since evolution gifted us with self-reflective intelligence. Our technological accomplishments envelop us daily, for both good and ill. Stories of courage, compassion and self-sacrifice abound. That we have the potential for greatness has never really been in doubt.

But unalloyed goodness is not something we can make claim to. The following report concerns the mining of mica, a mineral that has a multitude of uses, which you can read about here. It is safe to say that we would be hard-pressed to do without it. However, do we care about the conditions under which it is often mined? That is a question only you can answer after watching this:

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Oh, Those Republican Enablers

Given the absurdity of the world these days, my passion for writing about it has waned. Fortunately, Chip Franklin provides ample material to fill the void that my blog is becoming:

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Quid Pro Quo: More From Chip Franklin

There's nothing I need to write here:

Friday, November 15, 2019

Trump's Twitter Tantrum

Historian Alan Lichtman rails about the obvious corruption surrounding the entire Ukrainian extortion effort by Trump, and is stunned by his live tweeting while former Ambassador Yavanovitch was testifying at his impeachment hearing. But will Teflon Don suffer any real consequences for either his witness intimidation or his extortion?

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

And Now, A Word From Chip Franklin

Love this guy.

Monday, November 11, 2019

This Is Powerful

And very difficult to watch:



Sunday, November 10, 2019

For The Stupid, This Is Just Another Attack On Their Idol

For the rest of us, the following is not only a summation of Trump's duplicity over his efforts to extort the Ukrainians for personal political advantage, but also an indictment of his spineless defenders and the willingness of his slavish devotees to entirely suspend disbelief:

Saturday, November 9, 2019

My Gorge Rises - Part 2



Earlier in the week, I posted about Paula White, the evangelical minister who has risen to become Donald Trump's chief fluffer spiritual adviser. Yet it is interesting, though hardly surprising, to glean some facts about this insane lady's past, a past that is as sordid as one might expect about someone so intent on exalting both herself and the United States' current unhinged Commander-in-Chief.

Andrea Jefferson writes tellingly about this poseur:
She’s frequently introduced and identified as “Dr. Paula White” despite not having a college or seminary degree of any kind. No degrees…not even an undergraduate degree from college.
What could have been an inspiring story about someone pulling herself out of a very bad background proves less than inspiring, the more one reads about White:
According to Orlando Weekly, “Her mother was an alcoholic and her father committed suicide. Living for a time in a trailer, she was the victim of childhood physical and sexual abuse. As a teen, she says, she was promiscuous, became a single mother and, as a young adult, was bulimic. Years later, she was addicted to prescription medication; her teenage son was addicted to crack, and an adult stepdaughter died of brain cancer. If, through the love and power of Christ, White tells her followers, she has been able to break through these “generational curses,” so can they.”
The rub comes in how she has achieved her success, on the backs of her largely low-to-middle-income adherents:
Newsweek reported that White asked congregants to donate as much as a month’s salary to her. “Every time we give, something supernatural happens,” a third reporter saw White tell worshippers who she had asked to donate as much as “a tenth of your gross income.” She once apparently wrote in a fundraising email that donating to her church “will get God’s attention.”
I'm not sure about God, but Pastor Paula has certainly benefited from that mantra:
White reportedly owns “several Mercedes”; a Bentley was once photographed in her garage; she and her husband once owned a private jet; she lived in a $2.2 million Tampa mansion. And yet her first church—Without Walls—went bankrupt in 2014 after defaulting on a reported $29 million in loans.
Her journey to this mountain of material prosperity, which, in addition to the mansion includes two homes in Trump properties in New York City, has not been, as they say, without controversy:
Shortly after being saved at the age of 18, Paula Furr left her first husband and ran off with Randy White, her Maryland church’s pastor, who was at the time married with three young children – a fact she does not include in her redemption testimony.

At the height of their popularity, Paula and Randy White reported generating $40 million a year from her broadcast ministry and their Without Walls International Church in Tampa. The racially diverse congregation, in two locations, claimed a membership of 28,000, with the co-pastors taking together between $600,000 and $1.5 million a year in compensation.

White was also once the subject of a sensational tabloid exposĂ© in the National Enquirer that linked her with fellow (and separated but still married) televangelist Benny Hinn in a romantic tryst in a five-star Rome hotel. Hinn, another prosperity gospel proponent, was registered in the presidential suite under the biblically suggestive name “David Solomon.” White denied the affair, but Hinn later acknowledged an “inappropriate relationship.”


How White wormed her way into the White House is a story with no real surprises, and one you can read about in the link provided at the top of this post.

As for me, my gorge has risen to a dangerous level, so I shall conclude this post and leave you to draw your own conclusions about the religious right, their cognitive abilities, and which master they truly serve.


Friday, November 8, 2019

"The Right Side Of History"

That's how New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern describes her government's landmark climate legislation, which commits the country to zero carbon emissions by 2050. The bill passed 119 to one:
Climate change minister James Shaw said the bill, which commits New Zealand to keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees, provided a framework for the island country of nearly 5 million to adapt too, and prepare for the climate emergency.

“We’ve led the world before in nuclear disarmament and in votes for women, now we are leading again.” Shaw said.

“Climate change is the defining long-term issue of our generation that successive governments have failed to address. Today we take a significant step forward in our plan to reduce New Zealand’s emissions.”

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern told MPs New Zealand was on the “right side of history”. She said: “I absolutely believe and continue to stand by the statement that climate change is the biggest challenge of our time.



What a shame that bipartisan co-operation has become the exception rather than the rule. Clearly, the world needs more New Zealand.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

If You Want Another Reason To Be Pessimistic ....

This is unspeakably depressing.
Most Americans — 65 per cent, according to PRRI — may now find Trump's behaviour undignified and damaging to the presidency, but not white evangelicals. They are, in fact, the only religious group in the survey to disagree.

There are only two reasonable explanations for this. Trump is the white evangelicals' version of V.I. Lenin's useful idiot, a character who is helping achieve their apocalyptic fever dreams, but who will perish along with the rest of us as the faithful perch in the clouds. Or the white evangelical version of Christianity is a darker, uglier thing than the smiles and the welcoming hugs and the blessings would have you believe.

White evangelicals, for example, are in general keenly alert to Trump's white nationalist, nativist leanings. When he orders families separated at the southern border, most white evangelicals are right there with him.

When he proposes removing protections from transgender people, surely among the most vulnerable of us, they're A-OK.

When he invites children visiting the White House to help build his border wall with their own personalized bricks, his loyal white evangelicals are right there with him.

The 17 women who have publicly accused him of sexual misconduct are just shrugged off as leftist harlots. The senior officials who have spoken out against his abuses of power or investigated him are just the infidel Deep State.
Still not sufficiently despondent? Then watch the following:

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

A Sophisticated Scam That Almost Ensnared Me



I think we are all familiar with the garden-variety scams that are endemic on today's Internet. Sometimes it is a Nigerian prince or princess offering to send us millions to safeguard; other times it is an alert from Canada Revenue Agency that we will be arrested immediately for taxes owing unless we purchase and send iTune cards, or, conversely, we are in for a big windfall due to a recalculation of our tax return; my personal favourite, however, is notification that my PayPal account has been frozen due to irregularities that require a wealth of personal information to unlock.

Happily, most of us have sufficient wherewithal to smell the fraud immediately.

But the scammers are getting more sophisticated.

Recently, I was on the receiving end of one that, initially, I thought was legitimate for a very good reason. It contained an exchange my cousin and I had had about the recent election results, and it appeared to be from his email account. It was, as you will see, a strange request from his wife, who sometimes uses his email address.

I have stripped out any identifying information and changed the name of my cousin and his wife, but here is how it went, with additional commentary from me at specific points:

Hi Lorne, I have to agree with you regarding the outcome, and was also disappointed with the Greens đŸ„Ź showing. I guess baby steps are to be expected. I do think that as we get more young people involved and interested in politics and their futures, that those numbers will go up. Looking forward to Friday as well to discuss more. Cheers, Rob

Sent from my iPhone


As you can see, the previously-mentioned exchange is part of the email, but it was followed by this:

I am sorry for bothering you with this mail, I need to get an Google Play gift cards for my Niece, Its her birthday but i can't do this now because I'm currently traveling and i tried purchasing online but unfortunately no luck with that.Can you get it from any store around you? I'll pay back as soon as i am back. Kindly let me know if you can handle this.

Await your soonest response.

Best regards

Grace


Intrigued, and with no suspicions at this point, I responded:

Hi Grace,

I got your email; what is the favour you are asking?

Lorne


I am sorry for bothering you with this mail, I need to get an Google Play gift cards for my Niece, Its her birthday but i can't do this now because I'm currently traveling and i tried purchasing online but unfortunately no luck with that.Can you get it from any store around you? I'll pay back as soon as i am back. Kindly let me know if you can handle this.

Await your soonest response.

Best regards

Grace


Well, my suspicions were immediately aroused for two reasons: one, Grace has no nieces, although I did entertain the possibility that she was speaking figuratively about someone in her family that she feels like an aunt towards. The second suspicious assertion was that she couldn't get the cards online. A quick internet check showed that such cards are easily obtainable online. Still, I was not entirely certain this was bogus, so I sent the following reply:

No problem, Grace. I will look at a grocery store nearby that I think stacks them. What denomination do you want?

To which she replied:

Thank you very much. Total amount needed is $200 ($100 denomination) from any store around you and I need you to scratch the back of the card to reveal the pin, then take a snap shot of the back

showing the pin and have them sent to me.


Once again thanks and God bless.


At this point I was almost certain this was a scam (it was unlikely she was travelling, since we were having lunch with them in two days), so I called my cousin to advise him that I thought his email had been hacked. However, I decided to string the scammer along for a while to waste his/her time. I started by not replying to the above email,. After a short time, I got this:

We're (sic) you able to purchase the card yet?

I received that message a second time within a couple of hours, at which point I wrote the following:

Would you like me to pick up a birthday card for her when I go to the store to get the Google Cards?

The response was a tad curt:

Just pick up the Google Cards, i need you to scratch the back of the card to reveal the pin, then take a snap shot of the back showing the pin and have them sent to me on here

Once again thanks and God bless.


Having more fun than I have had for a while, I decided to sound like a doddering old fool:

I don't have a Smartphone to take the pictures, So I have to go to the store to buy film for my camera.

Lorne


That netted this response:

Good morning,

I need you to scratch the back of the card to reveal the pin and write it out

Await your soonest response


Finally, I wrote what I knew would terminate this blossoming online relationship:

I am a little concerned about Internet security when it comes to sending sensitive information. May I call you with the numbers?

The scammer knew there was nothing more to do, and so sent me this:

Never mind keep the card for your [non-existent] grandchild.

The game was over, but I learned never to be too complacent about being able to detect Internet fraud. What bothers me now is that I have subsequently sent two messages to my cousin using his email address, and he has received neither. In the event that my email was compromised, I changed my password, but beyond that, I am at a loss. If anyone has any suggestions or insights, I'd be happy to receive them.










Tuesday, November 5, 2019

My Gorge Rises

May your constitution prove stronger than mine. If God is ever in the mood for smiting someone, I've got the perfect candidate:

Monday, November 4, 2019