Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Trump’s Tale of Two Cities

Unlike Charles Dickens, Donald Trump does not need centuries to change his narrative, only several hours and a jet flight across the border.
But then in the Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities, poverty and wealth are changed by battles in the streets of Paris and London.
Trump switched Mexico City for Phoenix, and showed no sign that he cares one whit for the poor. Why should he? He never worked in a factory as a children.
It doesn’t take a huge imagination to see a guillotine falling on Trump’s neck.
Indeed, he once again showed he has no regard for the truth, claiming he had avoided discussing who would pay for the wall he would build to separate the U.S. from Mexico.
Usually, Trump can count on shooting someone in the street and not losing any popularity, and not get much criticism in the media either.
Many in the media were not willing this time to allow Trump to get away with the lie when the Mexican president stated strongly that he had ruled out paying for the wall in their brief meeting.
Trump said, “Who pays for the wall? We didn't discuss," Trump had said when asked by a reporter during a news conference following their meeting in Mexico City. "We did discuss the wall. We didn't discuss payment of the wall. That'll be for a later date,” CNN reported.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said in a Tweet, “At the beginning of the conversation with Donald Trump I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall.”
Trump replied: “Mexico will pay for the wall, believe me — 100 percent — they don’t know it yet, but they will pay for the wall,” Mr. Trump said. “They’re great people, and great leaders, but they will pay for the wall,” according to the New York Times.
He said he might even deport one American, his opponent Hillary Clinton, along with millions of illegal workers.
Trump lacks the eloquence of Dickens.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Centuries from now Trump will be lucky to be an asterisk.

Elephants to Big to Disappear Without Being Noticed

It is so much easier to observe the disappearance of creatures than in the past for at least two reasons.

The first, of course, is technology. Even the dwindling of the population of the smallest creature can be detected.

Secondly, the species now disappearing include huge animals like the african elephant, both the bush's that weight ranges to 13,000 pounds and the forest that grows to almost half that size.

The main reason for this environmental crime is poaching for their coveted ivory. World-wide efforts to outlaw its sale are not working with the lure of money in desperately poor African nations.

The Guardian calls them “our living dinosaurs….”

It quoted scientists saying, "They are our living dinosaurs, the romance of a bygone era, and if we can't conserve the African elephants, I'm fearful to think about the fate of rest of Africa's wildlife,” say Mike Chase and Larry Patterson.

Chase is the founder of Elephants without Borders and Patterson is with the Department of Animal Science at Cornell.

Chase adds: "I don't think anybody in the world has seen the number of dead elephants that I've seen over the last two years," he says. 

Chase organized the first Africa-wide census of elephants.

“Before the GEC, total elephant numbers were largely guesswork. But over the past two years, 90 scientists and 286 crew have taken to the air above 18 African countries, flying the equivalent of the distance to the moon -- and a quarter of the way back -- in almost 10,000 hours.”

A continent that once is believed to have been home to 20 million elephants now has only 1.3 million.

Making matters worse for smaller elephants is “their slow reproduction rate.

Unlike the bigger, more abundant savannah elephants – which start breeding from the age of 12 – female forest elephants begin breeding only at 23. They then only give birth only once every five to six years,” reports New Scientist. The socalled African Forest Elephant could be gone in 10 years.

“In 2013 the estimated remaining population was 100,000,” says study co-author Peter Wrege at the Elephant Listening Project, part of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Ithaca, New York. “But poaching rates suggest that 12,000 to 15,000 forest elephants are being killed every year. At this rate, forest elephants will be essentially extinct in one decade – by 2023. This should worry everybody.”

The forest elephant has its own built-in birth control and will reproduce more slowly as it fears it is threatened.

More difficult to determine is what effect the decline of the elephant population with have on flora and fauna affected by their presence on the landscape.

Poaching has also affected the male population of Indian elephants, which totals only about 20,000 and exists in several Asian countries.

Twenty Years Later JonBenet Case Reviewed

The entertainment media has already begun a review of the murder of 6-year-old beauty queen. 
JonBenet Ramsey, four months before the 20th anniversary of her death in Boulder, Colo., in December of 1996.
Perhaps the best place for a review would be Rotten Tomatoes.
“There are four separate TV projects about the JonBenét Ramsey case airing this fall, from CBS, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, and A&E. The first of these to premiere will be A&E's two-hour documentary, The Killing of JonBenét: The Truth Uncovered, on Sept. 5,” Cosmopolitan reports.
Viewers have already seen a trailer of an interview with JonBenet’s three-year-older brother, Burke, who has himself been a suspect in the case.
It entices viewers to view a three-part interview with Dr. Phil. Phil McGraw, who was educated as a psychologist, became a TV personality on the Oprah Winfrey Show and now has a large following.
His show is an odd place for Burke to give his first interview because of Dr. Phil’s in-your-face style.
It seems likely those who believe JonBenet’s death was no mystery, and that she was killed by her mother, won’t find much time devoted to that theory.
E! Online reports that “nothing will be off-limits during the interview, which will explore the public scrutiny of Burke and his parents.”
Again, magazines are unlikely to sell if they suggest the interview is aimed at defending the family members, mother, father or brother.
There was much bad publicity because of how much time was spent by the former beauty queen mother to turn her daughter into a replicant.
Patsy Ramsey died in 2006 of cancer. The detective in the case, who has moved to Australia after being sued by the family, has said her death means the case is solved.
The family published its own book but was unable to block the publication of an account of the case by detective Steve Thomas: JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation
Those who believe Patsy was responsible tend to believe father John Bennett Ramsey covered up her actions.
In the trailer for the Burke Ramsey interview the sibling says:
"I remember my mom searching my room that night saying, 'Where's my baby? Where's my baby?'" Burke Ramsey tells Dr. Phil in a new preview clip from the three-part interview, which will air on Sept. 12, 13, and 14.
"I know people think I did it, that my parents did it," he continues, asked by Dr. Phil about those lingering suspicions. "I know that we were suspects … I want to honor her memory by doing this interview. I don't want anyone to forget.”
Anyone who has pushed the theory that the Rasmseys were involved in the death of their daughter, even close friends, have faced threats from the family’s lawyers, according to ShadowGov.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Media and the 2016 Campaign

The media may have given up its role as a major player in presidential campaigns, and that could also mean less coverage of local, city, state and federal government.
The event that most will blame for whatever follows is the decision to give so much free time to Donald Trump, though some change should have been expected. The Republican not only was allowed to talk for hours, usually without questioning, but the news shows that followed spent much of their time discussing what Trump had to say.
Trump clearly believes any news is good news. Only time will tell if that can win a national presidential election. Even if he loses, there is no guarantee the media will be able to return to its major role in choosing our governments.
If Hillary Clinton wins, it will be after what many call a “front porch” campaign. Critics are attacking her for refusing to hold a single traditional news conference. Polls suggest this tactic is working.
Presidential news conferences have been declining in general since after World War 2.
There are fewer journalists assigned strictly to politics as the print media, like news conferences, also is in decline, leaving fewer to press for traditional news conferences.
Much of what voters get to see is panel discussions of political journalists, often joined by “surrogates,” people chosen by candidates to promote their campaigns.
It shouldn’t be assumed that either candidate’s approach will automatically work. The Internet has made it possible for people to inform themselves. Whether they will is another question that has not been answered.
Age often determines where people get their news. Social media is popular with millennials, but newsmakers are reaching out to all age groups. TV remains a major source, but many Americans get their news from a variety of sources.
Political parties will continue to be involved in determining who gets selected to run for elected offices but party loyalties will likely to have to adjust to the evolving mood of electorates influenced by how their performances are judged.
Outsiders like Trump will find it more difficult in future campaigns to get so much free coverage but they will no longer be novelties.

Both Trump and Bernie Sanders, who gave Clinton a surprisingly tough fight, focused on rallies that sometimes drew thousands but were not coupled with traditional ground games.
This year’s race is not over yet but is edging towards predictability with Clinton leading in the polls and possessing a much stronger traditional get-out-the-vote ground game. Their hopes for down-ticket gains are growing.
MSNBC’s popular Morning Joe’s Joe Scarborough, who earlier had given Trump considerable free coverage, wrote:
“Friday started as it usually does: an early wake up call, an interview with the next president of the United States and a hateful personal attack from Donald Trump. Such is life during these dog days of August in a nasty presidential campaign not even near its ugly end.
“These days, a rudely out-of-bounds Trump attack surprises Mika and me about as much as a puppy relieving himself on a living room rug. “We’ve figured out by now that it does no good to lose your cool with the puppy or Donald Trump, since neither have and control over their bladder or mouth.
As Aristotle famously said, “It is what it is.”

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Where Does Trump Find All These Creeps?

Sometimes it seems a campaign day doesn’t end without discoveries of flaws in top staff hired by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
And not only are the people picked controversial, Trump also seems to be waiting to near the end of the race to fill important jobs.
Trump had fired his field director in April.
TV show journalist Rachel Maddow compared Trump’s decision to not name a new field director until this week to meeting “your spouse for the first time on the curb” outside your wedding.
Maddow also was stunned that Trump picked the only person fired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for the New Jersey “Bridgegate Scandal.” Christie, who already works for Trump though he remains governor, was accused getting revenge against a mayor who had refused to support by creating a false construction zone on one of America’s busiest bridges.
“The Fort Lee lane closure scandal, also known as the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, or Bridgegate, is a U.S. political scandal in which a staff member and political appointees of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) colluded to create traffic jams in Fort Lee, New Jersey, by closing lanes at the main toll plaza for the upper level of the George Washington Bridge,” according to Wikipedia.
“The incident was investigated from a few possible motives. The prevailing theory was that the lane closures were retribution against Fort Lee's Mayor Mark Sokolich (D) for failing to endorse Christie in the 2013 gubernatorial election. That motive was alleged by federal prosecutors in May 2015, in charges against Bridget Anne Kelly, former Deputy Chief of Staff for Christie, and Bill Baroni and David Wildstein, both of whom had been Christie-appointed officials at the Port Authority. Wildstein pleaded guilty. The indictment charged that the three conspired to commit fraud by illegally exploiting Port Authority resources for political ends. Investigators had also examined other possible motives,” Wikipedia said.
Trump this week named Bill Stepien as field director of his get out the vote campaign. The York Times said Stepien was fired for his role in “Bridgegate.” The scandal ended Christie’s presidential campaign, but he latched on with Trump.
Last week Trump’s former campaign director, Paul Manafort, was replaced when he was accused of having ties with the Kremlin.
Clinton campaign director Robby Mook had accused Trump himself of refusing todisclose deep financial ties that potentially reach into the Kremlin, which could influence his foreign policy decisions. None of this is being disclosed.”
Maddow, who has begun her Trump “personnel scandal of the day” on her MSNBC show, said the hiring of Stepien was “not even remotely the scandal of the day.
Media outlets were reporting scandals involving Stephen Bannon, the former editor of the rightwing “Breitbart” website.
“Barely a week into the job, Donald Trump’s new campaign CEO is already facing harsh scrutiny over a 20-year-old domestic-violence charge and an allegation of voter-registration fraud.
“On Thursday night, the New York Post and other outlets reported that Stephen Bannon was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, battery, and dissuading a witness in 1996, after an altercation with his then-wife in Santa Monica, California.” the Atlantic reported.
“Early Friday morning, Guardian US added its own bombshell: Bannon and another ex-wife are registered to vote at a vacant house in Florida, a key swing state. That registration could be a violation of election laws, representing voter fraud,” the Atlantic added.
Within hours he had been accused of anti-Semitism.
Newtekworldnews reported in detail about Trump’s ties with Brexit leader Nigel Farage, now one of the most unliked personalties in Britain because he helped lead the campaign to get out of the European Union.
“Farage joined Donald Trump on stage in the USA this week.
“Mr Farage was touted as something of a hero to the American people; the man who enabled we British people to take back our country but “that is bunkum.
“There were candidates from all political parties representing the Brexit and the BRemain camp.
“But the BRexit camp used huge lies, whoppers in fact, to win over voters.
“And there were plenty of people who voted leave for many reasons and needed no political persuasion.
“The UK is currently in a sort of no man's land. “It is still an EU member but with a majority of people voting to leave the EU the proverbial has hit the fan and continues to do so.
“The value of the pound is in freefall. The country waits and waits and the future looks vague at best.
The Guardian reported: “What a thrill to see new life breathed into the buddy demagogue movie in Jackson, Mississippi, on Wednesday night. You only had to look at Nigel Farage’s little face to see how thrilled he was at the chance to play the Danny Glover to Donald Trump’s Mel Gibson. As for Trump, he was all over Nigel’s cheap suit like a cheap suit.”
For those who want a deeper, inside look at Trump himself and his friends, read “The Making of Trump.” It details his ties and friendships with mobsters and politicians.