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Exile on Peachtree Street - Christmas Puzzle by Kenneth Weene

Exile on Peachtree Street - Christmas Puzzle by Kenneth Weene | Upsetment | Scoop.it

A short story of Christmas, puzzles, and noir.

Kenneth Weene's insight:

Hope you enjoy this piece of my noir.

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Palestinians may be on verge of charting new political path

Palestinians may be on verge of charting new political path | Upsetment | Scoop.it
It appears that President Mahmoud Abbas wants to convene the Palestinian National Council, after a hiatus of more than 20 years, which would allow the Palestinian movement to move toward a change in leadership.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
It would be a great change if the Palestinians could find one voice in dealing not only with Israel but with the entire world. Sadly, the divisions in the Arab world seem to pull this small and suffering population apart. As an American of Jewish background, I am rooting for the Palestinians to succeed in creating a state that can take care of its people and work together with other countries toward a better and more peaceful world. 
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Who was responsible for the violence in Charlottesville? Here's what witnesses say

Who was responsible for the violence in Charlottesville? Here's what witnesses say | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Here are several first-hand accounts of the violent events in Charlottesville, Va., collected from journalists, protesters and far-right ralliers who have published their accounts.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I have said before that I abhor violence and that means on either side. That's why I share this story from the L.A. Times in which we get a sense of what actually happened in Charlottesville. While I agree with the counter protesters, it would appear that both groups came prepared for a fight. Perhaps the protesters more so since they came with military tactics already practiced and with equipment. On the other hand, the armed members of the counter group remained in a different park more ready to step in if needed than participating. Clearly, the driver of the car that killed and maimed was the exception in a confrontation that thankfully otherwise ended with little bloodshed. 

As I read these reports, two things are clear. Rhetoric and name-calling helped to heat up the situation and seem to be an integral part of the division that is wounding our country. The second is that the police in Charlottesville didn't do their job very well. For one thing, they left an entire side of the park in question open. Market Street became in effect the place where the fire could begin. Why that street was left open and unattended only the person in charge of the cops can tell us. It was a dreadful mistake. 

Of course, in the end it is the counter protesters who got what they wanted out of the situation. If only because of the crazed act of that driver and the resulting mayhem, cities and other governments across the country have been motivated to remove monuments before new confrontations occur. Last night, for example, Baltimore removed four monuments. 

Now, I think there are far too many Confederate monuments in this country, many in places where they are really historically irrelevant. As I've made clear before, I don't want to obliterate history, only to limit monuments to what is meaningful for remembering and I want to add some that have been neglected. My big issue: Where are the monuments in the South that remember the slaves and the share croppers? How can a community in which Lee, for example, never set foot justify a monument to him and not have one to those people of color who suffered there? 

Finally, a word about Mr. Trump. I have a sense that he and I are more in agreement on this subject than I would have expected. The problem is that he is so bloody inarticulate and so given to expressing himself in the words of a "tweet" that he has failed to articulate the larger issue,  which is that division and violence are not the way for a democracy to solve its issues. Of course, he is also playing to a base that includes many bigots and racists; but he is right that not all those who were protesting were necessarily hate-filled and let's be fair, not all the counter protesters were put in heart. 

It was about 8 years ago that Mr. Obama made a horrible mistake, one which I honestly thought would cost him re-election and which I think was one of the reasons that Hillary was starting from a much weaker position than she realized. It was the way he handled the confrontation between the police officer(s) and the Black Harvard Law School professor. Mr. Obama failed to clarify what the real issue was, namely the right of the professor's privacy versus the offers' reasonable cause to investigate. It was never actually about race at all. However, Mr. Obama allowed the press to define the narrative and we all know that conflict leads will intelligent discussion gets relegated to the opinion pages. 

Mr. Trump is sadly dealing with a similar if even more contentious issue. Once again the press is making this about race more than about how we as a society deal with our history. From my perspective, we are still fighting the Civil War (War Between the States; War of Norther Aggression) and still hiding from the realities of post-Reconstruction segregation. 

We need to have a national dialog about race. We need it now and we need it to move us towards a unified view of ourselves. As long as any group feels threatened and abused, the pain will go on. Sadly, both political parties have their reasons for keeping the anger flowing. Which is one of the reasons I again call for a new party. I may be a Broody New Englander but I can still find hope. 
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Demonstrators Pull Down Confederate Monument In Durham

Demonstrators Pull Down Confederate Monument In Durham | Upsetment | Scoop.it
"No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!" the protesters chanted as they tore down the statue.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I know that many will find my response to this event puzzling; I find it so myself. First, I support the removal of the monuments that glorify the confederacy and its soldiers, especially its leaders. As a Broody New Englander I was brought up to believe the cause of the South was wrong, that the union was not divisible, that the economic realities would not have been changed by succession, and most importantly that slavery was and continues to be inherently evil and wrong. 

However, I also know that the men who fought for succession did so believing they were right. I know that the families who lost loved ones and who had the maimed return to them did so not because they wished their communities to do wrong but to keep their faith in the world as they understood it. While I would happily tear down monuments to the generals, with the caveat that they perhaps one statue remain celebrating their military skills, perhaps each one in his own home town or maybe on a preserved battlefield. Similarly, I would allow towns such as Durham to preserve one monument to the soldiers. I might not want it so tall or so decorated as this one that was toppled, but I do not want to deny history. When we deny people the right to remember, we offend our very belief in democracy. 

During the post-reconstruction years, supporters of racism and bigotry and some people who were devoted to the cause of the South and truly believed in its right to secede erected not those few perhaps worthy monuments but as many as they could. Some in states where there was no reason, indeed places that were far removed from that war between brothers. This was a rewriting of history, which is as unacceptable to be as trying to make believe that nobody on the Southern side deserved honor. 

As we look to countries like South Africa or Northern Ireland, we see that reunification and peace are reached not by rejecting history nor by vilifying it but by remembering, forgiving, and working to more forward. After all these years, can America not find its way forward? 

While we're on the subject, I know that recently there has been conflict between Russia and Poland over statues of Stalin. I would take the same stance there. Take down all but one statue, but leave that where the Poles choose to remember both Stalin's role in the liberation of Poland from Germany, his selling Poland out to Germany before that, and of course his decision to dominate that country after the war. In other words, let us remember history and its makers, but that doesn't mean glorifying that which we know to be evil. 

So, what about the North? There we find few monuments except those remembering the soldiers from each community. 

There are, however, some statues missing. The ones that have never been erected in the South, the ones to the men and women brought to America from Africa, brought in chains and enslaved. Just as they have never been given the full-measure of economic opportunity they have never been given the full-measure of historical recognition. Isn't it time to recognize those who have suffered?
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Jordanian king’s Ramallah visit more than morale booster

Jordanian king’s Ramallah visit more than morale booster | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Jordanian King Abdullah's two-hour visit to Ramallah was meant to send a number of signals to multiple parties.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
To put it more clearly, King Abdullah needs to push the two state solution while it is still possible. If Palestine doesn't find its way to an effective government, Jordan will be forever burdened by both its security responsibilities for places like the Al-Aqsa Mosque and its de facto role as mediator between Israel and the Palestinian people. The problem is that he and the Palestinians have failed to establish a solid leader for that second state. An old man with failing health and limited following, Abbas is hardly the leader that a fledgling state would need nor is he a person that the Israelis will respect and with whom they would negotiate. I wonder if the good Jordanian king can find somebody with whom he could actually team up, a new voice for the Palestinians. 
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White supremacists carry torches and chant Nazi slogans at rally in Virginia

White supremacists carry torches and chant Nazi slogans at rally in Virginia | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Hundreds of white supremacists carrying burning torches and chanting Nazi-era slogans rallied in Virginia on Friday night before violently clashing with counter-protesters.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
I know there are far more decent Americans than assholes. Still, there are the haters and they are despicable. I know many of the White supremacists are terrified that they will fall into the chasm of irrelevancy and impotence. However, their way out of that fear and depression is not to rage against other groups but to work towards their own self-improvement, for example through real and useful education. The first part of that education, if it is to really make a difference, is social science including realistic history so  that will help them to understand the tensions of today's society and to understand how the issues of race and income need to be addressed.
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Hard Lessons in Living Off the Grid

Hard Lessons in Living Off the Grid | Upsetment | Scoop.it
A family tried to build its own sustainable paradise in Hawaii. Then Tesla’s batteries came to town.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Many of us have dreamed of living off the grid. Take Putnam Williams, my main character in Broody New Englander, wasn't that what he wanted. What he learned and one of the things I hope my readers learn is that we are interconnected. One of the most basic connections in the modern world is electricity. Relying on solar power may actually make it even more sensible to remain on the grid than to try to live off it. Read this article and find out why. Meanwhile, I will iterate something I've said many times: In the end it will all be about the batteries. Who is going to find the best way to quickly store sufficient energy for us to give up fossil fuels?" 

To read more of Putnam's story, visit http://www.kennethweene.com/excerpt---broody ;
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PLANE ACCIDENTALLY EMPTIES TOILET TANK OVER CRUISE SHIP, 23 INJURED – NativeAmericanApache

PLANE ACCIDENTALLY EMPTIES TOILET TANK OVER CRUISE SHIP, 23 INJURED – NativeAmericanApache | Upsetment | Scoop.it
"Holy Shit!" Beyond that, what is there to say?
Kenneth Weene's insight:
"Holy Shit!" Beyond that, what is there to say?  

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Poland opens another front with Brussels over primeval forest

Poland opens another front with Brussels over primeval forest | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Warsaw could face financial penalties if it defies a ban on logging.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
One of the most disturbing things to me is that some greedy people would use environmental problems such as bark beetles to cover their own attacks on nature. We should be protecting the few remaining primeval forests and be working to fight plagues such as these beetles not cutting down rare trees so we can sell off their wood for short-term gain. On the other hand, should the EU have so much centralized power in its bureaucracy as to overrule the sovereign governments of its member nations? If that continues, will the union fall apart? 

Clearly, the differences in economic development among the nations of Europe make it difficult for Brussels to have the necessary moral sway. That timber must look like money in the bank to Poles, who are desperate to get it in hand. 

What do you think should be done? And, who can afford to do it? 
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Scientists Fear Trump Will Dismiss Blunt Climate Report

Scientists Fear Trump Will Dismiss Blunt Climate Report | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The report directly contradicts Trump administration claims about global warming and concludes that temperatures have risen rapidly since 1980.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
This looks to be a pretty good evaluation of the situation. It doesn't blame all bad weather or all warming on human activity, but it surely makes a strong case that we have to mend our ways. Meanwhile did you know that the glaciers of Peru have dropped to 10% of their normal for centuries mass? What happens when much of the world runs out of water coming down from the mountains? The Himalayas are in bad shape, too. It isn't just the Arctic and Antartica that are melting. As an old geezer, I know that I'm no longer the frog in the proverbial pot; but I worry for those who are younger. What's your take? But, before you give it, might I suggest you read this article. 
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Termination or Extermination for Penobscot Indian Nation? - Indian Country Media Network

Termination or Extermination for Penobscot Indian Nation? - Indian Country Media Network | Upsetment | Scoop.it
A federal appeals court ruling severing the Penobscot Indian Nation from the waters of the Penobscot River “is reminiscent of federal termination policy.”
Kenneth Weene's insight:
This Broody New Englander has to weigh in here. The beauty of Maine and the purity of its air and water have long been compromised by the state's desperate need of business. Just as in other parts of the US, it falls to the Native Americans to stand for nature and protection of the land and water against the greed of the system. That the fish of the Penobscot are no longer safe to eat is a travesty not only against the Indians but against all of us who love Maine. For the courts to severe the tribe from the body of water in which it lives is to make believe that humanity has no rights in the face of economics. Is that what we as a country have come to? If so, exactly how different are we from the soullessness of North Korea and the brutality of the Congo under Belgium? Yeah, we give people food stamps so they can survive, but what about dignity and worth? 

When I call for a third party that emphasizes human rights, this is an example of exactly what I mean. 

By the way, if you haven't read Broody New Englander, get yourself to Amazon and order a copy. https://www.amazon.com/Broody-New-Englander-Kenneth-Weene/dp/1502759284/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 
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Joint Taliban-ISIS Attack Kills Dozens, Afghan Officials Say

Joint Taliban-ISIS Attack Kills Dozens, Afghan Officials Say | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Officials said as many as 50 people died when the Taliban and a commander claiming ties to the Islamic State overran an area in the north. A Taliban spokesman denied any cooperation with ISIS.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
As ISIS, which is now called IS because it has expanded geographically even as it shrinks militarily, expands its presence in Afghanistan, the one place where it has a boots on the ground ally that might win, namely the Taliban, it may well fall on Iran, which is also a natural ally of the Taliban, to keep that from happening. 

Confused? Remember that Iran is Shia and IS and the Taliban militantly Sunni. On the other hand, Iran wants the US out of its neighbor and doesn't want the mineral wealth that may lie under Afghanistan ending up in either American or Chinese hands. Tehran also doesn't want a strong IS presence anywhere, but especially not on her border. 

In the end, no matter what the US does, the Taliban is going to win in Afghanistan. Why? Because they are a religious-nationalist movement with a base of fanatics who are willing to die. Better to have their views moderated by Iran, even though its policies are Islamic theocratic, than the extreme and crazy views of IS. Of course, for years, I've been saying that the real issue is creating a Pashtun state. Yes, it will have some mineral wealth and yes it will now end up religiously extreme, but at least its leaders might then not see us as the worst of demons. As is, we are just fighting a stupid war because we don't know how the world works anymore. 
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'China has conquered Kenya': Inside Beijing's new strategy to win African hearts and minds

'China has conquered Kenya': Inside Beijing's new strategy to win African hearts and minds | Upsetment | Scoop.it

Beijing has invested billions in “soft power” campaigns aimed at convincing the world that China is a cultural and political success story. NowC it's backing it with digital infrastructure in Africa

Kenneth Weene's insight:
The British learned that rail roads were a key to empire. Both the Brits and the Americans relied on radio to build a sense of connection. Now, with The Voice of America basically starved and the BBC losing traction to a growing television orientation in Africa, China is offering the most modern television service possible. And, with China building the major railroad that will connect much of the central area of that continent with a reliable port city on The Indian Ocean, we may see a drifting away of Africa towards Beijing even as the "Dark Continent's" vast resources are being unearthed and as its people develop modern economies with real consumers. 

Yes, China is definitely working to build its role in Africa. One of the major effects of this television is greater awareness of Chinese language. In a part of the world where Swahili, English, and Arabic compete to become the lingua franca, just getting people to know a little Chinese becomes a powerful tool in bringing a new orientation to African trade. 

So, where is the US and its allies in this battle for the growing African consciousness? Well, we're selling guns and supplying planes. Not so much of that economic or social development stuff. Long gone is the vision of JFK that created the Peace Corps. Long gone is the economic assistance for development that gave us Food For Peace. Now, we have become the purveyors of war while the Chinese are offering their version of economic development. That model is a combination of state and private initiative, but the private has little to do with most of the people on the ground and the government has little to do with respect for the countries'' great beauty or national pride. This is Chinese colonialism at its best and the long goal of the entire Silk Road approach. 

What to do? First and foremost we need a task force including both state and private investment with clear goals and access to the best economic planners and geologists and with anthropologists to assist in the thinking. In other words, we need to follow the Chinese model but with a little better quality. Then we need to be willing to invest for the very long term and not worry about creating debt to us any more than we worried about creating debt when we gave away huge tracts of land to create rail roads in the west. 

While we're at it, we had best look to South America in the same way. 

So who are our natural allies in countering Chinese economic growth? Sure India, but that country is limited. Sure, Europe, but they are mired in the Balkans and Greece and many European countries aren't trusted in Africa and South America and for good reasons. So, let me suggest two allies: Russia and Iran. Can anybody besides me see that American foreign policy has to do a 180 degree pivot? 
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Another sheriff’s deputy commits suicide. His boss wants people to talk about it this time.

Another sheriff’s deputy commits suicide. His boss wants people to talk about it this time. | Upsetment | Scoop.it
"You have to admit that there’s a problem before you can address it,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
People do commit suicide and the rate among cops isn't higher than the rest of the population, in fact a tad lower. Still, the numbers are rising and they are an interesting population to consider. What would I do to reduce the likelihood of officers taking their own lives? Besides regular screening for depression, which we should have for our society in general, I would try to keep them more connected to the larger community. The more people are isolated and find themselves only using their "own kind" as a reference group, the less realistic their appraisals of life become. We are not just social animals but societal animals. That lack of perspective on the larger community affects not just cops but all manner of professionals. What do you do to keep your life open to the world? 
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Canada united, America divided on NAFTA as negotiations begin

Canada united, America divided on NAFTA as negotiations begin | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Polls show Canadians have few partisan divisions when it comes to free trade with the United States, but polarized politics south of the border could be a big complication.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
What is the real problem with NAFTA? For one thing, it probably hasn't helped US economic growth as much as it's helped Canadian and Mexican growth. In small part that's because from the get-go the US provided a better market for what those two countries want to sell than they provided for American exports. However, the real problem in America is how the advantages of the trade deal have been distributed. While jobs have gone south, particularly typically-union, manufacturing jobs, the new opportunities that have opened here have been more in finance, tech, and other fields for which working class Americans weren't ready, jobs that often require major educational investment and experience. On the up side for the average American has been a stabilizing of some prices compared to what would otherwise have happened. Those lower wages in Mexico, for example, do get reflected in our markets. However, while the individual can look at the size of their paycheck, they really can't evaluate the cost of living. Also, often those lower prices have been accompanied by shopping in what can best be described as less pleasant places. (OK, I admit it; I detest going into a Walmart.) 

One of the biggest problems is that the economic growth that NAFTA has provided—and yes there has been some because of the larger market and the use of the relative advantages of the three countries, for example my allowing more Canadian soft wood into the states NAFTA has encouraged house building. (Yes, which means American loggers are unhappy, but overall it's good for the economy.)—that economic growth has not been shared for the good of all. In Canada with its strong social safety net, single payer healthcare system, excellent educational programs, and low military expenditure, people are better off from the growth. In Mexico, where desperation has been the rule, any improvement is felt everywhere simply because there is a flow of money. However, in the US, the growth has gone to increase the wealth of the few and to encourage the ever more spending on the military-industrial-espionage complex. The average family in Cleveland, Omaha, or Des Moines isn't seeing anything. 

It is time for national policy here to be redirected towards making our society more equitable if we want to have agreement on economic policies such as trade. Of course, I don't know that either party actually wants agreement on anything, not when their ongoing battle allows them both to prosper. Hey, yesterday I only received three requests for money from the Democrats. I keep saying take my name off your lists, but I don't know there's an end to those lists. LOL. Maybe I should write back and ask them to send me money instead. 
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Why Tensions Are Rising Between Vietnam and China

Why Tensions Are Rising Between Vietnam and China | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Vietnam now appears to be an outlier in its vociferous opposition to China’s push for control over the South China Sea.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
To what degree is China determined to turn the  South China Sea into their own national lake? To what degree are the other countries of the region determined to keep that from happening? Ultimately, what role is the United States destined to play as China moves toward preeminence in the world. Are we the fading empire destined to fail at trying to rein in the new kingdom or can a detente exist that will avoid war? One thing that could hardly imagine fifty years ago is that the United States and Vietnam would be building an alliance. 

It all goes to show that push and pull of international affairs is based on quicksand. 
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Right-wing rally goes ahead in Seattle — despite violence in Virginia

Right-wing rally goes ahead in Seattle — despite violence in Virginia | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The organizer said he would urge his supporters to remain non-violent during the "Freedom Rally" and planned counter-protest at Westlake Park.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Clearly the police of Seattle were better prepared than those in Charlottesville. Also, clearly, if the microphones are opened to everyone, there will be an interesting blend of speeches at any public event. I do think that the organizer of the "Freedom Rally," who is from the pro-Trump group Patriot Prayer, said something worth citing. He said  that he was against white supremacy and wanted everyone to have his or her chance at the microphone. If that is the real goal of a rally no matter who organized it, I would not support a counter-protest. Would you? 
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CEO Quits White House Council Over Trump's Charlottesville Response — And Gets Attacked By Trump

CEO Quits White House Council Over Trump's Charlottesville Response — And Gets Attacked By Trump | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Instead of denouncing neo-Nazis, Trump denounces a CEO criticizing him for not personally denouncing neo-Nazis.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
When Mr. Frazier of Merck resigned, Mr. Trump tweeted this clearly barbed comment: Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council,he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!

So, the question I would like the POTUS to answer is, "Was Mr. Merck a ripoff artist when you brought him onboard with fulsome praise or are you sucking lemons because he's called you on your failure to stand against bigotry and hate.?" 

Meanwhile, I am wondering if anyone has established who started the violence in Charlottesville. Arg least they do know who ran a car into a group of pedestrians, a clearly planned act of domestic terrorism. I wonder of in all his tweets, Mr. T. is going to say something about violence using automobiles.

I don't know that Hillary Clinton would have been able to stem the rising tide of hate and violence in this country, but I'm damn sure that Mr. Trump isn't going to tweet us out of danger. For years I have warned that the battle would come, that the efforts to suppress social and racial justice would eventually bring the battle to the streets. Now, the only question is whether those who have always used race as the dividing factor will be able to continue to do that to keep the forces of change fractioned. Part of me hopes that they will succeed as I really don't want to see barricades and blood. Part of me hopes that they fail because I would love to see a new American birth of freedom and equality before I die. 

So, what will it be a battle or the whine of those who suffer. OR, perhaps, just perhaps, we can join together to work towards a new party that will move America forward. Yep, I still hope we can find it within ourselves to create that new party, one committed to social justice, reasonable economic growth, concern for the environment, and support of people in other lands in their quests for a better life but without trying to impose our military might. 

You caught me out: I'm an idealist, which I'm sure will make many people laugh at me. That brings up the last goal of any new party that I would want: A commitment to helping the people of America to laugh. For in laughter there is hope. 
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Plan to institute military oath against suicide could backfire, some experts say

Plan to institute military oath against suicide could backfire, some experts say | Upsetment | Scoop.it
A congressman who served in Afghanistan is championing an idea to request departing servicemembers sign an oath not to harm themselves, as a method to deter veteran suicides. But some suicide prevention experts contend the plan is likely to do the opposite.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Some ideas are just plain bad and some are worse than that. This one is really shit dumb. Soldiers who become depressed, especially if that is a symptom of PTSD, are ashamed of that depression. Getting them to share their suicidal thoughts should be a real priority, one that uses the best therapeutic practices. Such a pledge wouldn't get a depressed soldier to feel more open but rather more ashamed. Maybe, what the military needs to do is recognize that the approximately 10% of all soldiers who end up with PTSD and related symptoms need to be encouraged to know that they are heroes and respected and that we—all of us—are there for them. For one thing, we could start improving the VA and its psych services. We could cut back on the VA and military's use of pain meds that foster depression. We could have leadership talk about their own emotional struggles. We could actually give incentives to those who look for help instead of often reclassifying them in negative ways. 

By the way, you might enjoy this sound version of one of the chapters from Tales From the Dew Drop Inne. It's called In the Army. https://soundcloud.com/kenneth-weene/in-the-army ;

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Eggs containing fipronil found in 15 EU countries and Hong Kong - BBC News

Eggs containing fipronil found in 15 EU countries and Hong Kong - BBC News | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Fifteen EU countries as well as Hong Kong and Switzerland are said to have received tainted eggs.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Obviously, it's good to know that these contaminated eggs have been taken off the market and that the EU and hopefully the Dutch and other governments are taking action. And, no, none of the eggs were shipped to the states that we know of. So why bother to share this story? Because it's important to remind everyone why we as individual consumers need government. When even upstanding Dutch farmers will ignore the safety of their customers in order to cut costs and make more profit, don't we need proper government agencies to oversee? It is too easy to dismiss government as getting in the way of business and as making it too difficult to make money, but we as consumers need government to protect us, our environment, and to take good scientific looks at products, processes and the like. 
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Ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio: I'd take a pardon from President Trump

Ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio: I'd take a pardon from President Trump | Upsetment | Scoop.it
But he concedes he's not aware of whether his political ally has been briefed on his legal woes.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Hopefully, they'll get Joe into jail—and probably out again—so fast that Mr. Trump has no chance to pardon him. However, my guess is that 45 will decide to issue that pardon and by doing so make it clear that he has as little regard for the courts and due process as Arpaio. Meanwhile, I, along with many citizens of Maricopa County are happy to see a new sheriff in town. 
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President Trump Boasted He's Made Our Nuclear Weapons Stronger. Here Are the Facts

President Trump Boasted He's Made Our Nuclear Weapons Stronger. Here Are the Facts | Upsetment | Scoop.it
President Trump boasted on Wednesday that he had made U.S. nuclear weapons more powerful, but experts said the claim is spurious.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
"So let it be written, so let it be done!" Okay Yul Brenner said it in the movie "The Ten Commandments," but Trump actually seems to think the phrase refers to anything he says. Obviously, having ordered a review of America's nuclear weapons immediately translated into somehow updating them. SERIOUSLY?! Fortunately, Mr. Obama had started a major upgrade during his administration, one which is still going on. However, even if they were bigly perfect, using nuclear weapons is not a responsible choice or a reasonable threat. We have two children arguing here. To be honest, I think Kim has the bigger family, which should have been a take-away from the Korean Conflict of the 1950s. 

Meanwhile, the best way to approach North Korea is probably by trying to find some good business deals to offer them, better than what they are getting selling their weapons and hacking skills. 
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Xtreme Eating 2017 | Center for Science in the Public Interest

Xtreme Eating 2017 | Center for Science in the Public Interest | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Welcome to the 2017 Xtreme Eating Awards—where we "honor" dishes at major restaurant chains that are designed to add a notch to your belt and a blow to your heart.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
The law was supposed to go into effect in May, but the Trump administration has not only delayed it but decided to rework it. Why? Because we all know that the profits of companies are more important than the information that might be given to consumers. In this case, the law would have required chains with over 20 outlets—not local restaurants or small businesses—to post nutritional information about their menu items. So, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is helping to draw attention to the worst of those meals. More importantly, they are drawing attention to the larger issue, the right of consumers to be informed. 

Now, who led the effort to keep this information from you and me? DOMINO'S! Which is why the CSPI awarded that questionable company the first Xtreme Putting Profits Before Public Health Award. May I strongly suggest that you join me in refusing to buy or eat Domino's pizza. Better yet, besides forgoing their food, let them know why you've written them off. Call your local Domino's and say: "If you don't want me to know what's in my food, why should I trust you to eat your product. Your company's profits are not more important than my health." Enough of us call and write, and I bet they might even give a thought to what they've done. Not that we'll get a big change, but who knows. 

By the way, want to know about really bad eating? Check out my book Tales From the Dew Drop Inne. Boy, do those characters eat junk. Hey, a good book should be realistic, right? 
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Anti-Trump Independents Are Starting to Organize

Anti-Trump Independents Are Starting to Organize | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Is this the humble beginnings of a third party?
Kenneth Weene's insight:
While I am delighted to see a growth and cooperation among independent candidates, this is hardly the beginning of a party. Political parties have to be for something that matters to the people to come into being. In American history what a new party has to find is a new constitutional issue. For the Whigs it was expansion and using the federal government as a source of funding for canals and railroads. For the Jackson Democrats it was banking and the stopping of national banks. For the Republicans it was slavery. For the Progressives, that short-lived but at least somewhat successful party, it was actually prohibition. For the TEA Party, which almost made it into existence, it was income taxes. 

On the other hand the Socialist Party, which actually was around for years and had some good candidates, never got off the ground because there has never been a strong movement to take away the property of others, except those slaves; which is one reason that Reconstruction was such a failure. And, the Bull Moose Party—yeah, I do love those moose—couldn't'd do anything except shoot down Taft and make Wilson president. See where I'm going here?

So, what is the issue of today? Donald Trump? Don't let's be ridiculous. Concentration of wealth? How do we spin that into a national, constitutional issue? Citizens United? Well, that at least is constitutional but it's bit arcane for the average American to get energized. 

How about redefining basic human rights? First, there is how are votes counted. Does everybody have the right to an equal vote? Much as I support the electoral college–remember, I'm from the small state region of New England—I oppose gerrymandering, which is sadly a New England creation. Then we have healthcare. Is that a right? Single payer anyone? Then we have the right to an education. With all the loans that have made so many miserable and the fake colleges, like the Trump University deal, people are expecting more opportunities for education to appear. Speaking of which, what about home schooling, does that lead to a greater belief in the right to an education since many of those kids go on to college and are suddenly hit with bills, bills, bills? Then there is the right to religion. As more people identify as spiritual but not members of a religion, do they want to move away from the religion-supporting past and insist on the houses of god being taxed and otherwise governed in the same manner as other eleemosynary institutions? Finally, there is the right to information as opposed to the right to free press. Do we expect that information be provided that is honest and transparent? 

So viva independent movements, but show me the real third party with the real third-party-worth agenda before I'll get excited. 
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Massive California Wildfire Near Yosemite Sparked By Gunfire, Officials Say

Massive California Wildfire Near Yosemite Sparked By Gunfire, Officials Say | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The blaze burned more than 80,000 acres of land and destroyed 63 homes.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
There is northing stupider than using guns irresponsibly. Of course, the fools who were responsible for this horrible fire won't come forward and admit their stupidity, but we know they're out there. 

For years, by the way, I have suggested we consider erecting lightening rods in the areas where lightening-caused fires are common. Of course, we also need to clear brush.

Did you know that before the Europeans came, the Native Americans took great care of the forests of this continent? Of course, we "superior" people have done such a great job...NOT! Could we ask ourselves how to do it better? Can we ask the Native America population to help? 

Anyway, let's hope this fire is soon under control and that the culprits are brought to justice. 
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Flame retardants linked to lower child IQ

Flame retardants linked to lower child IQ | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Increased exposure among pregnant women to a class of flame-retardant chemicals found in older furniture and other everyday consumer products is linked to lower IQs in their children, UCSF researchers found in a study that is certain to further ignite the debate over the chemicals.

Examining data from nearly 3,000 mother-child pairs from previous studies done around the world, the authors concluded that every tenfold increase in women's exposure during pregnancy to chemicals known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, was associated with a 3.7-point decrease in their children's IQ.

[...] differences can necessitate increased services and support for children and heap personal and economic burdens onto families, said lead author Juleen Lam, an associate research scientist at UCSF's Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment.

Researchers also found a statistical link between PBDEs and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but cautioned that more studies are necessary to better understand the relationship.

While previous research on the chemicals has found similar health risks, the UCSF study provides the most comprehensive analysis of international data and the most definitive results, said co-author Tracey Woodruff, a professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences.

A chemical industry representative, while noting that PBDEs have been banned for years, said Thursday that fire safety is important, and that consumers don't have to choose between it and their personal health.

"Flame retardants provide consumers with a critical layer of fire protection, and they help save lives," said Bryan Goodman, a spokesman for the American Chemistry Council.

PBDEs and other flame-retardant chemicals are found in couches, computers, consumer plastics, mattresses, insulation and car parts, among other products.

The women in the study who had higher levels of PBDE exposure would have likely ingested the chemicals through food, dust or hand-to-mouth contact in their homes or other locations they frequented, researchers said.

In California, legislators approved new fire standards in 2013 that allowed manufacturers to use nonchemical safety measures, but they stopped short of banning all flame retardants.

"We have people who seek us out from all over the country because very few people sell or specialize in this," said Rowena Finegan, owner of Pine Street Interiors in Sausalito, which sells health-conscious furniture and other household items, including nontoxic glue.

[...] it can be financially difficult for many families to buy their way out of chemical exposure, said Avery Lindeman, deputy director of the Green Science Policy Institute in Berkeley.

Advocates for firefighters have linked flame retardants to what they call an epidemic of cancer cases in the city's station houses.

Blood tests of 12 city firefighters in 2014 showed that all had high levels of dioxins, which are released when compounds in flame retardants catch fire.

Prevent young children from touching and mouthing items with fire-retardant chemicals, including cell phones and remote controls.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Which is more important, to protect lives from fire or to protect the brains of children? Obviously, the answer is both, but we don't always live in the ideal world. I know that were my wife pregnant, I would want to protect the fetus's future capacity to learn and to contribute. We would just redouble other protections against fire. While I am not a right to life person, I do believe that every fetus who is brought to term deserves the best shot at a great life they can receive. We need to be mindful of teratogenic dangers and try to eliminate them. 
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