Saturday, October 31, 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

Delayed Adulthood ... It Takes Much longer to Grow up Now

Two women sitting on a bench in Alexandria, Egypt

Young people all over the world are struggling to save enough money to move out of their parents' homes, get married and raise families. No longer children, but not yet regarded as adults, they are stuck in a period of "waithood".
"When you get married in Egypt or other places in the region, your house is perfect, it's as good as it's ever going to be," says Diane Singerman. "You have spices in the kitchen, you have glasses, you have furniture, you have a car if you're wealthy - and everything is set up for you."
In the 1990s, Singerman, an American political scientist, was researching family politics and networks in Cairo, when she found that many of the people she was studying were burdened with a common almost insurmountable problem: how to pay for marriage.
The costs go beyond simply paying for a big wedding. In order to qualify as worthy husbands, Singerman says, Egyptian grooms and their families need to save up for dower money or jewellery to give the bride. They also need to find a place to live and fill it with the many trappings of married life.
She found that when all of that was accounted for, the cost of marriage averaged 20,194 Egyptian pounds ($6,000 in 1999). That was equivalent to two-and-a-half times the total annual expenditure of an average Egyptian family.
Once you factor in the very high levels of youth unemployment, marriage becomes a nearly impossible goal. Singerman found that on average poorer male workers and their fathers had to save all their earnings for more than seven years to make it happen.
"This huge financial problem just kind of popped out and it was very central to lots of other issues as well," she says.
There is, for a start, the psychological impact on young people. Since pre-marital sex remains taboo, it is a lonely decade for many of these would-be grooms and brides.
But the real significance of delayed marriage goes beyond financial and romantic factors. "In Egypt young people live with their families until they get married, and frankly they are not considered adults until they get married, especially for women," says Singerman.
But since they definitely aren't children either, she coined a new term to describe the long period of limbo that preceded marriage - "waithood".

A generic picture of an Egyptian wedding

They have applied the term "waithood" to groups or men and women around the world, though plenty of less flattering terms are in common use too.
"Bamboccioni" (big dummy boys) - describes Italian men in their 20s and 30s who still live with their parents, much like the "yo-yo generation" of young people in the UK that move back home after university. In West Africa, "youthmen" are young men who haven't yet attained adulthood in society's eyes. Meanwhile, "freeters" in Japan and "slackers" in the US describe a legion of young people unable or unwilling to get a "proper" job.
While officialdom everywhere chooses an age - 18, perhaps, or 21 - to label someone an adult, cultures have their own ways of judging whether someone is mature - and different countries place the emphasis on different life stages.
Financial security is key to all of the above. High rates of youth unemployment are the result of the sheer number of young people, the economic crisis that began in 2008, and, some academics argue, the restructuring of economies in the developing world.

                 Workless generation

Workers under 24 s
  • South Africa 53%eeking jobs (%)                   
    • Greece 58%
    • Spain 57%
    • Egypt 39%
    • Italy 39%
    • UK 20%

    Having carried out research in Mozambique, South Africa, Senegal and Tunisia, anthropologist Alcinda Honwana argues that most young people in Africa are stuck in waithood. But she dislikes the aura of passivity that goes with the term.
    "What I realized is that although waithood was very debilitating for young people, it is also a phase of extreme creativity," she says, "because life goes on and young people find ways to cope with it."
    She cites young people's willingness to find work in the informal economy, to migrate, and to affiliate themselves to revolutionary or radical causes as responses to a situation that has been imposed on them by failed economic policies and corrupt governments.
    Many of the activists that took part in the 2011 string of protests that came to be known as the Arab Spring were young, educated but socially excluded, with plenty of spare time on their hands. The past decade has seen a rise in the number of protests in which young people feature prominently, from Mozambique to Greece, to the UK.

    Demonstrators march through Athens during an anti-austerity rally , July 10 2015

    Singerman believes that migration, so much in the news at the moment, is in large part about accumulating money for marriage. She suggests that the difficulty of getting married may be a factor in the growth of the so-called Islamic State. As part of a package designed to entice young men to fight for the group in Iraq and Syria they are promised wives. The systematic rape of women and girls in the conflict has also been well-reported.
    "They're using very ancient understandings of war and women as booty of war, basically, to be distributed to one's soldiers," says Singerman. "In a sense they're attracting men because they're able to offer them wives, or women. Or so they say."
    But there are some socially progressive consequences of waithood as well. "We see that there are more and more young women remaining at school, finishing their degrees and also becoming more and more independent and not relying on marriage."

    Young friends on a night bus

    "Economics is important, but culture plays a crucial role too," says Steven Mintz, a historian at the University of Texas at Austin. "In the past, people aspired to be older. The dominant culture was an adult culture, which was associated with sophistication, worldliness and experience. Today, that has been inverted. Youth culture is the ideal - most people aspire to be younger, not older, and it is youth culture that is seen as more thrilling than anything that adulthood has to offer.
    "No-one says 'Life begins at 40' any more, at least not without irony."

    A chart showing rising age of marriage in Europe

    Named in honor of Mr Harper

    Rename the Largest Tar Sands Toxic Effluent Reservoir

    Rename the Largest Tar Sands Toxic Effluent Reservoir "The Stephen J. Harper Tailings Dam"
    The Mildred Lake Settling Basin is one of the largest dam structures in the world, designed to hold up to 350 million cubic meters of unbelievably toxic waste from the Syncrude tar sands extraction process, and visible from space. It represents not only its scarcely-contained poisons, but an unconscionable waste and contamination of our precious water.
     Hopefully, the Trudeau government will soon reverse and correct many of the egregious offenses committed by the Harper government; this tailings dam is truly world-class and its contents built to last. Why rename a mere airport after our former prime minister, [A petition has been launched to rename Calgary airport ... Stephen J. Harper International ] . An airport only lasts a few decades.  However, the tar sands' poisonous legacy will last hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of years. So (re)naming it after one of its greatest boosters is fitting. Stephen Harper didn't invent the tar sands, but as one of its biggest fans this is an honour he truly deserves! He will be assured a place in the history books of the future.

    Something to Tug the Heart Strings

    Members of the Ambles Trust for Elephants rescue a baby elephant from a pond and witness the mother's relief and joy

    Ambles Trust for Elephants is a research and conservation project based in Nairobi, Kenya that focuses on the preservation of the African elephant. Using studies conducted around social organization, behavior, genetics and cognition (just to name a few), it has served as an advocate for elephants around the world.

    Thursday, October 29, 2015

    Holiday Magic's photo.

    China Finally Changes 'Their One Child Per Couple Policy'

    • Amnesty International says China's new "one couple, two children" policy is not enough
    • The policy" is "a proactive response to the issue of an aging population," state news says
    • China instituted a policy of one child per couple to control population growth in the 1970s
     China will allow two children for every couple, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Thursday, a move that would effectively dismantle the remnants of the country's one-child policy that had been eased in recent years.
    "To promote a balanced growth of population, China will continue to uphold the basic national policy of population control and improve its strategy on population development," Xinhua reported, citing a communique issued by the ruling Communist Party. "China will fully implement the policy of 'one couple, two children' in a proactive response to the issue of an aging population."
    Xinhua said the proposal needs to be approved by China's top legislature before it can be enacted.
    China, now a nation of more than 1.3 billion people, instituted a policy of one child per couple to control population growth in the 1970s.
    When its propaganda didn't work, local officials resorted to abortions, heavy fines and forced sterilization.
    The decision to end the restriction followed a four-day strategy meeting of senior Communist Party officials at a Beijing hotel, CNN's David McKenzie said.
    He has said the move was foreshadowed by a change in the propaganda: While old advertisements depicted parents doting on one child, he said, a recent commercial showed a boy begrudgingly sharing a toy with his younger sister.

    'Not enough'

    Human rights group Amnesty International issued a statement warning that the change in policy was "not enough."
    "Couples that have two children could still be subjected to coercive and intrusive forms of contraception, and even forced abortions -- which amount to torture," China researcher William Nee said.
    "The state has no business regulating how many children people have," he said.
    China began relaxing the controversial 'one child per couple' policy in January 2014, allowing couples to have a second baby if the mother or father was an only child.

    pkg mckenzie china one child crisis_00013609

    The move was hailed as a major liberalization of the three-decades-old restriction, but new figures released in January 2015 suggested that fewer people than expected were taking the plunge and expanding their family.
    Nationwide, nearly 1 million couples eligible under the new rules had applied to have a second child, state media reported at the time. Health officials had said that the policy would lead to as many as 2 million new births when the policy change was first announced, and it was estimated that 11 million couples were eligible.
    Two kids? Thanks but no, say some Chinese

    Aging population

    China's government has said the country could become home to the most elderly population on the planet in just 15 years, with more than 400 million people over the age of 60.

    Researchers say the graying population will burden health care and social services, and the world's second-largest economy will struggle to maintain its growth.
    "China has already begun to feel an unfolding crisis in terms of its population change," Wang Feng, a professor at Fudan University and a leading demographic expert on China, told McKenzie earlier this year.
    "History will look back to see the one-child policy as one of the most glaring policy mistakes that China has made in its modern history."
    Wang said the one-child policy was ineffective and unnecessary, since China's fertility rates were already slowing by the 1980s.
    They are now  finding there will not be enough young adults to take on the huge burden of work required to support the economy of such an enormous country. There is also a shortage of females in the population, due to the fact that female babies have been systematically murdered for generations because a son is considered far more valuable in every way.

    Ask Maxy

    Dear Maxy ,
    About four years ago , after 17 years of marriage (no children) , working full time , having a part-time job cleaning job , doing 90 percent of the housework and doing 80percent of the housework , I asked my husband whether I could quit my part-time job .
    I was 42 and in good shape but having painful back problems from the type of work I did . My husband had a good job , and with a little bit of corner cutting , we didn't need the money from my part-time job . He agreed , but after a while , he began to seem distant and started talking constantly about a girl at work --- how amazing she was because she worked full time and went to school while caring for her two children . 
    After months of this , I thought a second job part-time job might make him treat me with more respect . Then my mother broke her arm and my father needed treatment for prostate cancer . So I helped them , along with working along with full time and a part-time job and doing the housework and yard-work . It didn't help . My husband hung out with that "amazing" girl . He also spent a lot of time with a guy that convinced him I was a freeloader .
    After a horrible vacation where he bought earrings for Ms. Amazing and presents for her sons . I found emails between them . He admitter he was in love with her but said nothing had happened . He eventually moved out and filed for a divorce , but when he heard that I had moved to Hawaii , he tried to woo me back . After six months of promises that he had changed , I returned home . 
    I recently found a text from this same girl , asking when he'll be working with her again so they can go to lunch . I left the house . He says the girl has a boyfriend and I'm overreacting . Am I ?
    Hawaii Bound 
    Dear Hawaii ,
    You are in an abusive relationship. That doesn't mean your husband is beating you. He is verbally and emotionally abusing you. He does not love or respect you any more, if he ever did. Unless you wish to live miserably,
      just as you are, until you have worked yourself to death, get away from him. You have to leave to give yourself a chance at happiness and see that there are people in the world who are not controlling, selfish and passive aggressive. Your husband is all of those.
    The fact that he said he loved another woman is more than enough reason to leave.  It proves he has no respect for you because he was flaunting it in order to punish you for displeasing him, when you quit your part-time job. Please don't believe that any of this is your fault and that things will get better if you only do all things he has told you will make him happy. You will never be able to please him no matter what, or how much you do. He has made you feel responsible for his happiness and you are not.
     When you left him, he realized his income had diminished, significantly, and he was used to having that money. And there was nobody to cook, clean, do his laundry and mow the lawn etc. All of a sudden he had to do these things for himself. And that, my dear, is the reason he would have told you anything in the world to get you back. He has no intention of giving up his girl on the side. Or if he does, another one will come along.
    You did the right thing once by leaving. Your instincts were correct. The only mistake you made is going back. 
    If you would feel comfortable discussing this with a professional, relationship councilor to get your thoughts in order and move forward, you should do so.  Do it on your own. Your family physician can probably put you in touch with someone experienced in abusive marital situations. 
    Take care of yourself,

    Dear Maxy , 
    My co-workers and I have decided to be healthier and bring a potluck style lunch for everyone on Wednesdays as opposed to eating fast food . Most of these lunches have been great and they allow us to see what our co-workers eat at home . One of my co-workers brings hongeo , a fermented skate fish dish from Korea . This dish is on lists of the smelliest foods in the world --- I did my research ! No one ever eats it and it creates a general revulsion around the entire event , which used to be very pleasant . My co-worker does not seem to care that her contribution turns off everyone to the idea of eating . It seems to give her a pass to eat all the other food while not worrying if hers will be gone . Drawing rules around this event would single her out , but this stench is impossible to be around . Should I just send out a potluck email with some guidelines ?
    Hating Hongeo 
    Dear Hating Hongeo ,
    Why not start  by speaking  directly  to your co-worker ? Talk to her privately, thank her for her participation in the potluck. Then explain to her that the dish she has been bringing has not been a group  favorite . Explain  that you have observed  that people are not eating  it  and  that the dish's pungent smell  overtakes the rest of the food .
    If that does not work, you may send  a group email  about the potluck, asking participants to vary what they bring so that  the group can try other food choices .  Also suggest that they take note of what the popular favorites are with the group, so they can repeat them. You will end up with a menu with something for everyone.

    Dear Maxy ,
    At a dinner party I attended last weekend , the group had an honest conversation about money . There was 10 people sitting around the table lamenting about not being able to afford something .Then debts , loans , earnings and savings worked their way into the conversation . I was very surprised . 
    I had grown up in a town where talking about money was considered extremely rude and a major faux pas . I stayed quiet for the conversation except for when I was asked what I was saving up for , I simply answered , "a nice vacation."
    I feel as though excusing myself in a dramatic and I would like a polite or funny response for when I'm asked about my financial situation . Any tips ?
    Mum about money , Biloxi , Mississippi 
    Dear Mum About Money ,
    While the conversation may be uncomfortable and you don't have to take part, I suggest  that you make use of the knowledge, listen closely and learn . It's true that most people don't talk about  money at a dinner party but it is an important topic in everyone's life.  You may pick up some useful tips. This particular group of people will always discuss these matters. Until  you  find  your comfort  zone , you can honestly say , when asked , that  you are listening and learning .


    Dear Maxy ,
    My wife and I are in our mid-70s and have no children . However , we have had pets , mostly cats , for all our 50 years together . 
    About 13 years ago , we bought an 8-week-old female Boston terrier puppy . A few months later a friend called us about a female Boston terrier that he could not keep and offered it to us . We took it on a trail basis and since it got along well with our dog (and our two cats ), we ended up keeping it . 
    We loved them both like they were our children . They rarely barked , got along great with adult and child visitors and loved being in the car . They were the best pets we ever had . We loved them . Both dogs were under the regular care of a vet . About a month ago , Spunky died in her sleep . It was devastating to lose her . Then , two weeks later , Petunia died . We are truly heartbroken .
    I want to get another puppy or young dog as soon as possible . However , the problem my wife . She misses these dogs as mush as I do , but she feels we are too old to get another dog . What do you think we should do ? 
    Grieving for Our Pets
    Dear Grieving ,
    My  condolences  on the loss  of  your beloved  animals . Multiple  studies  have shown that seniors  greatly  benefit  from having pets  to love and care for . It is also good for older people health wise. Pets relieve stress, lower blood pressure, keep you walking and moving. But  do keep in mind  that puppies  are  generally more work than older  dogs . Your  wife  may  not  feel up  to the task . Please discuss  it with  her  and consider  the possibility  of adopting  an older  dog . You would also be rescuing a very grateful friend.  The dog would be less energetic and likely house broken.
    You may  also want to take into account the likelihood
    of your someday  moving into a senior  facility  that does not  allow animals . Some seniors  handle  this  by having a friend  or  relative agree  to take  the animals  when they can no longer care for them .
    Share the love,


    Wednesday, October 28, 2015

    Jordan's Spectacular Photography

    My granddaughter hiked along the Bruce Trail, in our part of the world, with family and friends and she captured some beautiful images of a Canadian Autumn. She has an eye for composition like a true artist.

    Walking the Bruce Trail

    Our lovely granddaughter


    The Harpers looking for cheap digs
    Will share with pets

    Tuesday, October 27, 2015

    South Carolina Officer Placed on Leave After Violent Altercation With Student

    The video above has caused a public outcry after a South Carolina school resource officer identified as Richland County Sheriff’s Department Senior Deputy Ben Fields is shown tossing a female high school student to the floor and dragging her from a classroom after she refused to get up and leave with him. Fields has been placed on paid administrative leave.

    Fields was reportedly called in because the student would not get off her cellphone or leave the class as instructed. The 15-second video shows Fields asking the student “Are You Coming With Me or am I Going to Make You? Come on. I’m going to get you up.” What follows is the scuffle where the student ends up on the floor and being pulled by Fields. Fields is heard saying “I’ll put you in jail next.”
    The site 'Heavy' has reported that Fields is already the subject of a lawsuit alleging violations of the civil rights of a student at Spring Valley High School. The student, Ashton James Reese, was expelled in 2013 from the high school for “unlawful assembly of gang activity and assault and battery” and was also accused of participating in a “gang related” fight in a Walmart parking lot near the school. In the lawsuit, he [Fields] is accused of “recklessly targeting African-American students with allegations of gang membership and criminal gang activity.”
    The Columbia mayor has denounced Fields and said “We cannot and will not accept this kind of behavior from any law enforcement officer and I firmly believe that we need an independent investigation to get to the bottom of this incident and see that justice is done.”
    Given that this was all about cellphone use, is there any justification for this level of force in your view?

    Michma says:
    Wouldn’t get off her cell phone during class? Wouldn’t leave the class? Wouldn’t leave with the police officer? Do you really think she’d be sweet talked into compliance? Or should it have been a gentle fight with the officer while also clinging to her desk. Or should they just allow disruptive kids to make the rules?The physical confrontation looked brutal, but it isn’t clear to me that a half measure would have been effective, nor would letting her have her way be good for her or anyone else in the classroom.Perhaps the real problem is that there are a lot of disturbed children in schools who could really benefit from a therapeutic school, but the money isn’t allocated and it can be legally challenging to force kids into these programs.
     Darren Smith says:My opinion is that the amount and level of force was not reasonable given the circumstances, that is the classroom situation, no criminal activity on behalf of the student, and the fact that I could not see any evidence of force used against the deputy.  I think it is likely the deputy will be found to have violated department policy but not likely to be criminally prosecuted.I did find it almost comical how the mayor jumped all over this situation and then called for an Independent Investigation to make sure justice is served. Seems he is convinced only one outcome will meet his satisfaction. But he is a mayor so I don’t see how this matters when the sheriff is actually the person in charge.

    Sunday, October 25, 2015

    Iceburg that sank the Titanic...Photo sold at auction

    Photo of Iceberg that Sank Titanic for Sale: Is It Real?
    Photo Of 'Iceberg That Sank Titanic' Is Sold

    A "remarkable" photograph of the iceberg which sank the Titanic has sold at auction for £21,000 ( about $32,000.00 ).
    And a Spillers and Bakers "Pilot" biscuit which was on board a lifeboat was bought for £15,000 ( approx. $23,000 )
    The grainy iceberg picture was taken on the morning of 15 April, 1912, several hours after the historic collision that happened just before midnight.
    Auctioneers said the original image was captured by the chief steward of the steamer Prinz Adalbert which passed the iceberg.
    There was, reportedly, red paint on one side of the iceberg, suggesting it was scraped by a ship. The Titanic sank just over two hours after the collision with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.

    Meanwhile, a cup presented by Titanic survivor Margaret Brown to Sir Arthur Rostron, the captain of rescue ship Carpathia, has sold for £130,000 ( almost $200,000 ) at the same auction organized by Henry Aldridge & Son in Wiltshire.
    Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge told Sky News: "The prices reflect the eternal interest in the Titanic story and the iconic nature of the objects concerned."
    The cup was the third most expensive Titanic-related artefact ever sold after a violin went for £1m ( roughly $1,500,000 ) in 2013 and a 32ft-long plan of the ship from the British Titanic inquiry was sold for $337,000 in 2011. The cup had been expected to go for around $100,00.
    The American socialite Margaret Brown, who later famously became known as the "unsinkable Molly Brown", survived the sinking which happened during its maiden voyage to New York from Southampton. Ms Brown presented the sterling silver cup to Sir Arthur Henry Rostron in a ceremony in New York the following month.
    He and his crew rescued 705 Titanic survivors. Brown was on one of the last lifeboats
     to reach his ship.

    Molly Brown presents a trophy cup to Capt. Arthur Henry Rostron for his service in the rescue of Titanic passengers.

    The last survivor of the sinking of the Titanic died aged 97, in 2009. Millvina Dean was nine weeks old when the liner sank after hitting an iceberg in the early hours of
    April 15/1912, on its maiden voyage from Southampton.

    Millvina Dean with her mother

    The disaster resulted in the deaths of 1,517 people in the north Atlantic, largely due to a lack of lifeboats.
    Miss Dean, who remembered nothing of the fateful journey had been travelling with her family in third class to America, where they hoped to start a new life and open a tobacconist's shop in Kansas City.
    Miss Dean's mother, Georgetta, and two-year-old brother, Bert, also survived, but her father, Bertram, was among those who perished when the vessel sank.
    The family returned to Southampton, where Miss Dean went on to spend most of her life. Despite having no memories of the disaster, she always said it had shaped her life, because she should have grown up in the US instead of returning to the UK.
    She was fond of saying: "If it hadn't been for the ship going down, I'd be an American."
    In 1985 the site of the wreck was discovered and, in her 70s, she found herself unexpectedly in demand on both sides of the Atlantic.
    "I think sometimes they look on me as if I am the Titanic!" she said after a visit to a Titanic convention in America. "Honestly, some of them are quite weird about it."
    She was unimpressed when divers started to explore the wreck, located 3,000m below the surface of the Atlantic, saying: "I don't believe in people going to see it. I think it's morbid. I think it's horrible."
    She refused to watch James Cameron's epic film of the disaster, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, fearing it would be too upsetting.
     But in the last years of her life, she struggled to survive financially and Actors Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio contributed towards her care costs, along with the film's director James Cameron, by donating to the Millvina Fund which was set up by her friends.

     -882ft by 92ft, 46,328 tonnes - largest vessel afloat at time
     -2,223 passengers and crew left Southampton on 10 April 1912
     -Struck iceberg, sank in two hrs 40 mins at 0220 GMT on 15 April
     -1,517 killed, 706 survived
     -Total lifeboat capacity: 1,178 but ship could carry up to 3,547
     -Survival rates by ticket class - first: 60%, second: 44%, third: 25%, crew: 24%

    Original Photos From Titanic disaster

    Titanic survivors on the Carpathia

    Survivor:  Harold Bride
    Survivors aboard the Carpathia

    Why has the tragedy of the Titanic been kept alive?
    Since 1912, there have been, by actual count, 650 books published about the disaster - an awful lot of print spilled over a single shipwreck. There have been several movies, even one by the Germans in 1943, meant to show the incompetence and greed of the British. Still, we can't get enough.
    Is it because it was touted to be unsinkable ? And yet the design was so flawed it literally doubled  the danger of sinking and loss of life.  Is it because the supreme arrogance of the designers and builders resulted in far too few lifeboats being supplied ?
    It was a microcosm of society then. Different demographics all within a few hundred feet of each other, and in a time of emergency, these societal differences were used to determine who was better and more worthy of saving than the other. The few lifeboats were used to save the wealthy, powerful or those who enjoyed some sort of celebrity.
    The tragedy points to the  frailties of human nature that are still present in our society today.  Is that part of the fascination ?
    The male passengers voluntarily went down with the ship and the musicians kept playing music as the water crept over the decks. There was heroism, self sacrifice and drama aplenty.
    The survivors all had horrific stories to tell at a time when the press was becoming a strong and influential voice in the world.  They exploited and somehow romanticized the tragedy.
    But surely there is more to it.
    The Lusitania sank in 1915, hit by a German torpedo and 1900 passengers perished. It is an all but forgotten disaster.
    There is a certain kind of magic associated with the Titanic that I just can't get a handle on but I am a victim of it myself.

    Thousands cross Croatia-Slovenia border in darkness


    23rd of October 2015
    Dramatic night-time pictures have emerged of thousands of migrants crossing Croatia's border to Slovenia.
    They were shot from a Slovenian police helicopter using a thermal camera and released to show how migrants are being helped to cross the border illegally.
    Slovenia will only allow 2,500 migrants to cross its borders daily - half the number neighbour Croatia has asked for.
    Interior Ministry Secretary of State Bostjan Sefic said Slovenia could not accept Croatia's request to take 5,000, because Austria's daily limit is 1,500.
    Most migrants - many from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq - are crossing Croatia and Slovenia to reach western Europe. The limitation on numbers has led to a build-up of migrants and refugees on Croatia's border with Serbia.
    Slovenia may be no more than a transit country for people who want to make their way to Germany, Sweden and Norway. But the authorities there have no desire to be overwhelmed - or worse still, lumbered with tens of thousands of refugees if countries further along the line close their borders.

    Map showing routes being used by migrants trying to reach Austria and Germany - 19 October 2015

    24th of October 2015
    Slovenia is set to deploy its army to manage migrants crossing its border.
    Slovenia says the numbers entering from Croatia over the last three days have overwhelmed its ability to cope.
    The country's parliament is expected to approve changes later on Tuesday to enable the army to help police guard the border.
    Police in Slovenia say a total of 18,469 migrants have arrived in the country since Friday, with 5,092 crossing the border on Tuesday alone.
    Slovenia had previously said it would take in only 2,500 migrants a day. The migrants are trying to reach EU countries further north.
    A two-thirds parliamentary majority is required to change the law on using the army. The changes would be in force for three months.
    Slovenia has called on European Union member states to help with the influx of migrants who have entered the country over the past few days.
    Prime Minister Miro Cerar said the current numbers were beyond anything the small country could cope with.
    "It is wrong to foster the illusion that it is possible for a small nation of two million people to stop, solve and rectify a situation where even much bigger EU member states have failed," he said on TV.
    Slovenia is the latest country to struggle with the flow of refugees and migrants moving north through the Balkans.

    Buses carrying migrants and refugees who crossed the Croatian-Slovenian border wait to be dispatched near the town of Oresje, Slovenia, on 19 October 2015.
    There are fears of more bottlenecks, such as this one on the Croatia-Slovenia border earlier

    Aid agencies have been warning of dire conditions as bottlenecks develop at border crossings in the Balkans.
    Hundreds of thousands of migrants, many from Syria, Africa and Afghanistan, have been making their way from Turkey to the Balkans in recent months, in a bid to reach Germany, Sweden and other EU states.
    Germany's policy of welcoming Syrian migrants continues to cause political divisions.
    The right-wing German-Turkish writer Akif Pirincci said, "An alternative solution would be "concentration camps", which are unfortunately currently out of operation".
    The protests come amid fears the group is becoming more radical in response to Germany's decision to take in hundreds of thousands of refugees this year.
    These people are desperately seeking asylum from an intolerable life under an intolerable government and a country that is in a state of war, not of their making. They risk their lives and the lives of their families to cross the sea in tiny over-crowed boats; sometimes with very tragic results.

    Friday, October 23, 2015

    Large Hadron Collider ‘Could Be About To Find A Parallel Universe’

    Large Hadron Collider (LHC)
    Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

    The Large Hadron Collider is now firing at its highest-ever energy level - and scientists hope we could find a parallel universe.

    It won’t be a parallel universe as seen in science fiction - but our understanding of physics is about to take a very big jolt indeed.

    One of the many mind-scrambling ideas on the table is that the Big Bang never happened, and the universe has always existed.

    Scarily, scientists are combing through results from June in the hope of finding evidence of mini black holes produced inside the collider.

    ‘Just as many parallel sheets of paper, which are two dimensional objects (breadth and length) can exist in a third dimension (height), parallel universes can also exist in higher dimensions’ Cern employee Mir Faizal from the University of Waterloo said.

    ‘We predict that gravity can leak into extra dimensions, and if it does, then miniature black holes can be produced at the LHC.’

    ‘Normally, when people think of the multiverse, they think of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, where every possibility is actualized.

    ‘This cannot be tested and so it is philosophy and not science. This is not what we mean by parallel universes. What we mean is real universes in extra dimensions.’



    Update....Patricia Just Made Landfall

    Manzanillo as Hurricane Patricia strikes
    Raw video
    Hurricane Patricia -- the strongest hurricane ever recorded -- weakened slightly Friday as it barreled  into Mexico's Pacific coast, with sustained winds decreasing to 190 mph and gusts to 235 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its latest advisory.

    Catastrophic Landfall Expected in Mexico Friday; Patricia Becomes Strongest Hurricane Ever Recorded

    A potentially catastrophic landfall is expected Friday evening as a very powerful and dangerous Hurricane Patricia moves towards Mexico's Pacific coast. Hurricane Patricia became the most powerful tropical cyclone ever measured in the Western Hemisphere on Friday morning as its maximum sustained winds reached an unprecedented 200 mph (320 kph).
    The hurricane is forecast to make landfall in the Mexican state of Jalisco Friday evening as a catastrophic
    Category 5 hurricane capable of causing widespread destruction. Residents and authorities in Mexico are rushing to prepare for what will likely be the strongest hurricane to ever make landfall on that country's Pacific coastline.
    At 1 p.m. CDT, the eye of Hurricane Patricia was about 85 miles (135 kilometers) southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, and was moving north at 10 mph (16 kph).
    In addition to its unprecedented 200-mph (320-kph) sustained winds, Hurricane Patricia now holds the record for lowest pressure in any hurricane on record. With a minimum central pressure of 880 millibars (25.99 inches of mercury) at the 4 a.m. CDT advisory, Patricia broke the record of 882 millibars set by Wilma almost exactly 10 years ago. At the 1 p.m. CDT advisory the minimum central pressure was lowered to 879 millibars (25.96 inches of mercury).

    Hurricane Patricia became the strongest Pacific hurricane on record shortly after midnight CDT early Friday. Air Force Hurricane Hunters had flown through the eye of Patricia and reported a sea-level pressure of 894 millibars as measured by a dropsonde inside the eye itself. 

    Sustained Wind Forecast

    This map shows areas with at least a 50 percent chance of experiencing sustained winds of at least 39 mph (orange), 58 mph (red) or 74 mph (purple) within the next five days.
    Patricia is forecast to remain a Category 5 hurricane at landfall, making it capable of causing catastrophic wind damage.

    The good news is that Category 5 winds are occurring over a very small area near the center, about 15 miles across. Otherwise, hurricane force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 175 miles. Exceptionally Dangerous Situation in Mexico

    The eye of Patricia is expected to move onshore either late Friday afternoon or Friday evening in the Mexican state of Jalisco, which includes the popular coastal resort city of Puerto Vallarta as well as the inland metropolis of Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city.

    The adjoining states of Colima and Nayarit will also feel the effects of Hurricane Patricia, which in addition to catastrophic winds will also bring a formidable flood threat. Depending on the exact track of Patricia's eye, the resort city of Manzanillo may experience destructive winds, and is very likely to see flooding rainfall, dangerous storm surge and large, battering ocean waves breaking onshore.

    A hurricane warning includes the Pacific coast of Mexico from San Blas to Punta San Telmo.....This warning includes the major coastal resort cities of Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo....A hurricane watch is in effect east of Punta San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas....,.as well as north of San Blas to El Roblito.
    A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected in the warning area within 48 hours. A watch means hurricane conditions are possible in the watch area.
    Tropical storm conditions are possible early Friday in the warning areas, and hurricane force winds are expected to reach the warning area Friday afternoon or evening.

    Only one Category 5 hurricane has ever been known to make landfall on Mexico's Pacific coast. That hurricane followed a path similar to that of Hurricane Patricia and struck near Puerto Vallarta in late October 1959, causing some 1,800 deaths.

    Forecast Track

    The red swath indicates the area through which the center of Hurricane Patricia is most likely to travel. Dangerous impacts may occur even outside the red area.

    Patricia is expected to dump 8 to 12 inches (200 to 300 millimeters) of rain over the Mexican states of Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero. Life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides are possible. Localized amounts as high as 20 inches (500 millimeters) are possible.

    Rainfall Forecast

    A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding near and to the right of where the center of Patricia makes landfall. In addition, Mexico's national water commission, CONAGUA, warned Thursday that waves of up to 12 meters (39 feet) may crash onto beaches near the landfall point.

    Once this system moves inland, mid-level moisture and energy from it may get pulled into the south-central U.S. This may add more fuel to a heavy rain and flooding threat in Texas and nearby states this weekend.

    Tropical cyclone strength comparisons are typically based on minimum central pressure. At 892 millibars, Patricia shattered the Eastern Pacific basin's previous record of 902 millibars set by Hurricane Linda in 1997.
    While a number of typhoons in the western North Pacific have been stronger, Patricia is by far the strongest hurricane in any basin where the term "hurricane" applies to tropical cyclones – namely, the central and eastern North Pacific basins and the North Atlantic basin, which includes the North Atlantic Ocean itself plus the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

    Some 400,000 people live in vulnerable areas, according to Mexico's National Disaster Fund.The hurricane, which will bring torrential rain, could trigger flash floods and mudslides, the US centre said. It also warned of potential flooding from the sea and destructive waves.
    The hurricane's winds are strong enough "to get a plane in the air and keep it flying".According to forecasters, Patricia will make landfall in the western state of Jalisco, home to the resort town of Puerto Vallarta, which could lie directly in its path.

    Police patrols in the resort urged people to leave the shorefront for safer areas at least three blocks inland, while loudspeakers ordered hotel residents to evacuate.
    Few people were seen going to official shelters, designed to accommodate 259,000 people, though there were queues at the local bus station.
    The town's airport, along with two others in the path of the storm, were closed.
    Shop owners in Manzanillo, a major port in neighbouring Colima state, have been boarding up windows. Residents have also stocked up on food and other supplies.

    Some rural areas are prone to landslides and flooding. The government has warned that ash from the nearby Colima volcano, which has become increasingly active this year, could combine with heavy rainfall to trigger huge mudflows.
    Mexico has to deal with tropical storms arriving from both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans at this time of year.

    Some of the most powerful storms in recent years

    *October 1979: Typhoon Tip - largest and most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded with wind speeds of 305km/h (190mph), killed 99 people in its path across the Pacific, mostly in Japan
    *August 1980: Hurricane Allen - strongest Atlantic hurricane by wind speed, with sustained winds of 305km/h, caused nearly 300 deaths in Haiti and severe damage in the US state of Texas
    *April 1991: Bangladesh cyclone known as 02B - at least 138,000 died and up to 10 million made homeless after a 6m storm surge
    *October 1991: Odisha or Paradip cyclone - the strongest ever recorded in the northern Indian Ocean, killed about 10,000 people, mostly in India
    *August 2005: Hurricane Katrina - killed at least 1,836 people after striking US states of Louisiana and Mississippi and was the costliest storm in history, causing $81.2bn in damage (with wind speeds of 280km/h)
    *October 2005: Hurricane Wilma - most intense tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin with wind speeds of 295km/h, killing 87 people on its path through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico
    *November 2013: Typhoon Haiyan - the strongest storm recorded at landfall, with one-minute sustained wind speeds of 315km/h, it devastated parts of the Philippines, killing at least 6,300 people

    Thursday, October 22, 2015

    Ask Maxy

    Dear Maxy ,
    I met you through my uncle , he knew my problem and one day he told me he wanted me to tell you about my problem , my mother , his sister , said a dog could not help me.  For nearly two weeks , my uncle told me to write . I did and Maxy you changed my life for the better . School started and this girl I wanted to meet , she is tall , about 5 feet 8 1/2 inches tall and I am only 5 feet 5 inches , so you can see the problem . 
    I went to my uncle and asked him what to do , he asked did I remember what Maxy's advice to me was , I carry a clipping of it in my wallet . My uncle said , take the bull by the horns and go for it . I did and she smiled and I was hooked . We talk , and I asked her to the movies the same day , she said with pleasure . We go lots of places together holding hands , met her family which all are taller than I am , they are very nice . 
    There was a dance at the school last week , my girl and I did the Cha-Cha , the kids cleared the floor to watch us . It felt really good . Thank you Maxy for telling me I may be short but I stand tall among men . 
    Too Small
    Dear 'Too Small,'
    You just needed  a nudge in the right direction  to gain the confidence  you needed  to  stand  tall among  your peers . 
    Height is not the answer, it's all about how you feel about yourself . You decided to  ask this  young lady out  and she accepted . She likes you for yourself, whether you are short or tall.  What's inside  you and  what  you do  with it decides your stature. I was very happy to hear from you. Your letters are always welcome. You are a winner

    Dear Maxy ,
    I have been living with my husband for 12 years . He will be 50 in a few months and our daughter is only 11 . The problem is, my husband is ill and his doctor is predicting that he may be wheelchair bound and possibly completely paralyzed between now and early next year . I am afraid I may not be able to care for him when that time comes .
    Since he is not a senior citizen, what places might accommodate him if he needs round-the-clock care ? Are there places like nursing homes and assisted living centers for someone who is only middle aged and wheelchair bound ? 
    No Name USA
    Dear No Name,
    Absolutely . Most nursing homes  and assisted-living facilities that take senior  citizens  also take anyone who is disabled regardless of age . The only issue would be the cost . Does  your husband qualify for Medicaid ?You can find out at 
    ( ) . You didn't specify  your husband's illness , but there may  be a support group  for people with his disability .

    Dear Maxy ,
    I am preparing to move out of my parents place and be independent . I graduated from college a little less than two years ago and I know my dream job is in New York City . I have some money saved up from other jobs , but I am not sure what all of the steps are to getting my own place . My mom does not think I am ready to move out , but I know in order to get my career started , I need to be in the city that never sleeps . I have found a couple of apartments on line , but I know have a real  estate agent gets pricey . I will definitely have job interviews scheduled for myself once I get to New York City , but I just need to find a way to be there affordably first . How do I start this move out of the nest ? 
    Breaking Free and Budgeting , Jackson , Mississippi 
    Dear Breaking Free and Budgeting ,
    Getting into the practice of saving and economy is essential . It's also important  to do your research . While you may not  find your dream job, it is smart  to line up a way to earn money before you move to such an expensive city . Apartments are hugely expensive in New York, even tiny studio apartments. And they are scarce. The cost of living, in general, is also higher in a large metropolis. You need to make sure you have enough start-up money to last a while.
    See if you can line up a few interviews and visit the city for a couple of days before committing yourself to it for good .
    You also need to get online to real estate websites serving the NY area and look at available rentals. Also, go to all the NYC newspaper websites and see what the classified ads offer to rent.
     Most people who move to New York City start by  having roommates to share expenses . You can find roommate opportunities  via the Internet on sites  such as ( craigslist. org ) and others. Be clear  about  your expectations  of a roommate  and  how much  you can afford when you list yourself . With strategic planning and careful research you can create a stable foundation for your new life .

    Dear Maxy ,I believe that television is destroying my family life . Whenever my children and husband and I get home, we seem to automatically retreat into different rooms to watch whatever is is our favorite TV show . When I attempt to corral everybody into the same room, it works for a quick meal but then we invariably end up in our corners, so to speak . I want us to talk as a family and do other interactive things . I almost feel it's too late, though because we have been doing this for so long . How can I coax us out of our corners and into each others lives in real time? Competing With The Idiot Box 
    Dear Competing With The Idiot Box ,
    I think we all can relate to this problem. It so easy to fall into that rut and so hard to climb out of it.
    If you feel strongly about this, talk to your husband about it . Ask him  if he will partner with you on limiting  TV time  in your  home . Come up with  a plan which includes TV time and a set time that the TV is turned off for an hour or two, no matter what . 
     The best time to schedule talk time is during meals and right after . Introduce a topic that will spark family interest ( maybe some exciting current event ) or ask them questions about what they did that day.  Another way to engage their interest is consulting them about family decisions and asking their opinions. Listening and being interested in what kids say is the best way to keep them talking.
     After dinner, depending on the kids' age, play a game of cards or whatever game they enjoy.  You can pushback or record favorite shows to watch during their private time.
    Explain  that everyone is participating . This will not  work as well if  you don't have  full agreement, and that needs to start with the parents.

    Dear Maxy ,
    I have recently been introduced to a funny and quirky guy . I enjoy spending time in his company --except for one habit of his : Whenever he does something feminine, he jokes he feels his "rights being taken away," like a woman's . Sometime he switches up the punch line and says that he feels himself "turning into a second-class citizen." Walter is gay , so he feels he can make these jokes because neither of us are "straight white men." I never consider making any sort of joke about how I feel gay and I feel myself gay , and I feel myself losing my rights .
    Walter seems like a great friend if you overlook this comedic hiccup , and I don't want to have to shut down the mood when this happens . I haven't laughed at this joke and I need it to stop . Is it time for a quip back ? 
    Over The Line

    Dear Over The Line ,
    I think your friend is not totally at ease with his sexuality. As a teen, when you discover your sexual identity, you know how hard it is to talk to anyone about it. You feel ashamed, insecure and lonely. With some people these feelings carry over into adulthood and they find it easier and more comfortable to make jokes about it, even though they may be inappropriate ones.
    If this friend means something to you, then be a friend to him. For sure, tell him how you feel. But equally make it clear that you're absolutely willing to listen. Encourage him to express himself to you in a more appropriate way.
    I think he needs some approval and support. You sound like a well adjusted, centered person. You can give him that.
    Accepting and liking yourself is empowering. We all need that. Helping him with his insecurity can lead you both to a richer place.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2015

    Assad and Putin...Good Buddies...And letting us know it

    In this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, shakes hand with Syrian President Bashar Assad as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, looks on in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. President Bashar Assad was in Moscow, in his first known trip abroad since the war broke out in Syria in 2011, to meet his strongest ally Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The two leaders stressed that the military operations in Syria_ in which Moscow is the latest and most powerful addition_ must lead to a political process. (Alexei Druzhinin, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

    Bashar Assad's surprise meeting with Vladimir Putin could signal that Russia ultimately seeks a political settlement after weeks of heavy airstrikes in Syria. But the terms of such an arrangement are uncertain, and questions remain about whether Moscow will seek the departure of its longtime ally or try for a power-sharing agreement.
    In a further sign that a diplomatic push might be underway to end the four-year crisis, Russia announced Wednesday that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had agreed to meet Friday in Vienna with their counterparts from Saudi Arabia and Turkey — both firm Assad critics.
    The Syrian president's visit to Moscow, his first known trip abroad since war broke out in 2011, was announced on Wednesday, the morning after it happened, and raised intense speculation about the two leaders' motives — and a strong response from Washington.
    "We view the red-carpet welcome for Assad, who has used chemical weapons against his own people, at odds with the stated goal by the Russians for a political transition in Syria," said White House spokesman Eric Schultz.
    If nothing else, it underscored how emboldened the embattled Syrian leader has become in the wake of the Russian airstrikes that began on Sept. 30 and Iran's deployment of hundreds of ground forces to fight alongside Syrian government troops. So now Assad has clout, with powerful allies behind him and he has finally come out of hiding.

    Russia says it is targeting militants, especially those of the extremist Islamic State group. But critics, including the U.S., say Moscow's military intervention props up Assad and is likely to fan the violence. The oblique references Wednesday by both leaders to their meeting did little to shed light on their ultimate strategy.
    In a statement, Putin said that along with fighting militants, Moscow believes that "a long-term settlement can only be achieved as part of a political process with the participation of all political forces, ethnic and religious groups."
    In separate comments posted on the Syrian presidency's official Facebook page, Assad said the Russian military operation in Syria had helped to halt the spread of terrorism and that a political solution could only come after that threat was addressed.
    "Terrorism which we see spreading today could have been more widespread and more harmful if it weren't for your decisions and steps," Assad told Putin in the remarks carried by Arab media. The threat of terrorism, he said, "obstructs" any political solution to the crisis.
    Yet how long Russia is willing to continue its expensive and politically volatile airstrikes is open to question.
    "Putin is not going to fight there forever," said analyst Dmitry Trenin of the Moscow Carnegie Center.
    The Russian leader "needs a quick result after which he can announce a Russian military success," said Trenin.

    Others, however, said that in welcoming Assad, Putin was signalling that Russia would be uncompromising about Assad staying in power.
    "It's a serious statement meaning that Russia will continue to support Assad to the bitter end," said Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent Russian military analyst. "There will be no political settlement in the sense that the West sees it. The opposition must surrender and stop fighting Assad and join him, and that is going to be the political solution."

    Commentators on Syrian TV hailed the visit as an endorsement of Assad's legitimacy, reinforcing the notion that he must be part of a future political solution to the crisis.
    Television footage showed Putin and Russia's foreign and defence ministers meeting with Assad, with the two leaders exchanging warm handshakes and smiles.
    Assad said Russia's intervention was in line with international law and praised it as an effort to rid Syria and the region of terrorism.
    Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment on any specific outcome of the talks. Asked if Assad's departure from power was under consideration, he said it was too early to discuss political solutions while the fight against terrorism continued.

    Since June, Russia has played with the idea of a political transition that would envisage setting up some sort of interim government, and has discussed the issue with the U.S., Saudi Arabia, the Syrian opposition and others.
    Moscow's diplomatic efforts have brought no visible results so far, though Putin has insisted that a political solution for Syria remains his top goal despite Russia's military action.

    "For Putin, it's important now to act not only as a military victor but as a political peacekeeper as well," Trenin said. "Putin is perfectly aware of the fact that Assad is going to have to hand over power or divide it. The Syria that existed before 2011 cannot be restored."

    Others, however, said that in welcoming Assad, Putin was signalling that Russia would be uncompromising about Assad staying in power.
    "It's a serious statement meaning that Russia will continue to support Assad to the bitter end," said Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent Russian military analyst. "There will be no political settlement in the sense that the West sees it. The opposition must surrender and stop fighting Assad and join him, and that is going to be the political solution.

    Putin recently met with Saudi officials, staunch critics of Assad and supporters of the rebels fighting against him. After Tuesday's meeting with Assad, he called the Saudi king to brief him about the talks before the foreign ministers' meeting in Vienna on Friday.
    Moscow also has sought to alleviate the concerns of Turkey, a major economic partner and the second-biggest importer of Russian natural gas, which has been critical of Russia's intervention in Syria. Ankara also supports the rebels fighting Assad.
    Answering questions about Assad's visit to Moscow, Turkey's prime minister took a jab at the Syrian leader, reiterating his country's position that Assad shouldn't have a role in Syria's future. Efforts to find a solution to the Syrian crisis should focus "not on a transition with Assad, but on formulas for Assad's departure."

    World opinion, for the most part, is on Turkey's side. But how is the world going to stop bully boy Putin ? Who has the courage to challenge him? He has sensed a softening in the west, a reluctance to  further engage in warfare. And being an opportunist, he seized the moment to send his armed forces into the fray, just as he did in Ukraine and as he is presently engaged in doing in Canada's Arctic regions. Maybe we need to show a little more backbone.