Saturday, December 31, 2016

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right

Vermont Utilities hacked by Russia

Electricity substation, undated image

An electrical company in the US state of Vermont says it has found malware code  used by Russian hackers on one of its company laptops.
The Burlington Electric Department said it had taken "immediate action to isolate" the computer, which was not connected to the electrical grid. The government alerted them to the "Grizzly Steppe" code on Thursday.
The same day, the US expelled 35 Russian diplomats over alleged Russian interference in November's election. Moscow has denied any involvement in the hacking of the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
On Friday, US President-elect Donald Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for not expelling American diplomats in a tit-for-tat response.
The Burlington company said it was "working with federal officials to trace this malware and prevent any other attempts to infiltrate utility systems".
It has also briefed state officials and vowed to fully support the investigation.
The statement followed a Washington Post report, citing  that Russian hackers had penetrated the electrical facility, underlining the vulnerability of America's national grid.
According to the news website, US authorities were unclear why Russian hackers might have targeted the grid.
"The incursion may have been designed to disrupt the utility's operations or as a test to see whether they could penetrate a portion of the grid," it added. A fishing expedition just to see if they could shut down power in the USA.

'Systemic, relentless, predatory'

Politicians in Vermont, including the Democrat Governor, Peter Shumlin, are calling for a full investigation into the incident.
"Vermonters and all Americans should be both alarmed and outraged that one of the world's leading thugs, [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality-of-life, economy, health, and safety," he said in a statement.
Democratic congressman Peter Welch said the discovery showed "how rampant Russian hacking is".
"It's systemic, relentless, predatory," he added.
US officials believe Russia was behind the hacking of Ukraine's electrical grid in December 2015, which plunged parts of the country into darkness and left about 225,000 people without power.
Experts said it was the first known power outage caused by a cyber attack.  And it was a precursor  to future and perhaps more destructive cyber attacks. Now we have something else to worry about.

Trump praises Putin for not retaliating

Russia's foreign ministry had formally proposed expelling US diplomats

US President-elect Donald Trump has praised Vladimir Putin after the Russian president ruled out a tit-for-tat response to the expulsion of diplomats in  the upset over hacking.
Mr Trump tweeted: "Great move on delay (by V. Putin) - I always knew he was very smart!"
Mr Putin had earlier said Russia would not stoop to "irresponsible diplomacy".
Washington expelled 35 diplomats over hacking related to the US election. Moscow denies any involvement. Mr Trump emphasized his statement on the dispute by pinning his tweet to the top of his account.
It was unclear exactly what he was referring to with the term "delay".
He has previously dismissed the hacking claims as "ridiculous" and said that Americans should "get on with our lives" when asked about the possibility of sanctions.  However, speaking before Mr Putin's decision, Mr Trump did say he would meet US intelligence chiefs next week to be "updated on the facts of this situation".

His senior aide Kellyanne Conway said on Thursday: "Even those who are sympathetic to President Obama on most issues are saying that part of the reason he did this today was to quote 'box in' President-elect Trump.
"That would be very unfortunate if politics were the motivating factor here. We can't help but think that's often true."
The contrast between the words of the president and those of the president-elect could not be more stark. Siding with a foreign adversary instead of the sitting president is a dramatic departure from normal diplomatic practice during this transition phase.
And Donald Trump may find himself alone in his admiration. President Obama has broad bipartisan support for his actions and a full hearing to discuss the hacking allegations has been scheduled in Congress next week.

Under the US action:
Thirty-five diplomats from Russia's Washington embassy and its consulate in San Francisco were given 72 hours to leave the US with their families
Two properties said to have been used by Russian intelligence services in New York and Maryland were closed
Sanctions were announced against nine entities and individuals including two Russian intelligence agencies, the GRU and the FSB. Companies or individuals with assets in the US had them frozen until further notice.
Barack Obama, who will be replaced by Donald Trump on the 20th of January, had vowed action against Russia amid US accusations that it directed cyber-attacks on the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Emails stolen from her campaign manager and from the servers of the Democratic National Committee - some containing potentially embarrassing information for some Democrats - were released during the election campaign.

The US expelled diplomats from  San Francisco and from Washington

In a statement on the Kremlin website (in Russian), Mr Putin said: "We won't be expelling anyone.
"We won't be banning their families and children from the places where they usually spend the New Year holidays. Furthermore, I invite all children of American diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas Tree in the Kremlin."
The Russian president wished Barack Obama and his family a happy New Year, as well as Mr Trump and "the whole American people".

Mr Putin's comments rebuffed his foreign ministry which had reportedly suggested expelling 31 US diplomats from Moscow and four from St Petersburg.
The ministry also suggested banning US diplomats from their dachas (holiday homes) in Serebryany Bor near Moscow and a warehouse on Moscow's Dorozhnaya Street.

There has been no response yet to Mr Putin's decision from the Obama administration.
However, Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, described the Russian hacking as an "act of war".
"And so we have to make sure that there is a price to pay, so that we can perhaps persuade the Russians to stop these kind of attacks on the very fundamentals of democracy."
He said a lot more needed to be done in response to the hacking, with many sanctions possible.
All of the  people I have asked for an opinion responded that some sort of response to Russia was necessary to show that America was offended and a firm stance needed to be taken. Otherwise they would be opening the door to further invasion of privacy and meddling.
It is feared that Mr Trump will find a way to remove all sanctions and restore the embassies etc. That will nullify any statement, principle or point of honor Mr Obama was trying to uphold and make clear to Putin.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Russia vows response to diplomat expulsion from US

        Russian diplomats in the US must leave by Sunday

Russia has promised to respond to the expulsion of 35 of its diplomats from Washington, amid a bitter dispute over alleged Russian interference in the recent US presidential election.A spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said the Kremlin's reaction would cause the US "significant discomfort".
However, he hinted that Russia may wait until Donald Trump, who has played down the hacking claims, becomes president.
Russia has denied any involvement and called the US sanctions "ungrounded".
On Thursday, the US state department declared the 35 Russian diplomats from the Washington embassy and the consulate in San Francisco "persona non grata", and gave them and their families 72 hours to leave the US.

President Barack Obama had vowed action against Russia amid US accusations that it directed cyber-attacks against the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Reacting to the announcement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "Undoubtedly, commensurate reaction based on the principle of reciprocity will cause significant discomfort to the American side in the same areas."
But he added that Russia would not act "in haste" and alluded to the upcoming change at the helm of the US.
"These decisions were taken by President Obama, but Trump will become the head of state in three weeks' time," Mr Peskov said. "Of course, this factor will certainly be taken into account one way or another."

'A decade-long campaign'

Separately, the Russian embassy to the UK tweeted a visual gag calling the Obama presidency a lame duck.

Russian Embassy tweets: President Obama expels 35 đŸ‡·ussian diplomats in Cold War deja vu. As everybody, incl american people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless Adm.

President-elect Trump has dismissed the hacking claims as "ridiculous" and said Americans should "get on with our lives" when asked about the possibility of sanctions before the announcement.
Emails stolen from Hillary Clinton's campaign manager and from the servers of the Democratic National Committee - some containing embarrassing information for Democrats - were released during the election campaign through the Wikileaks website.
US intelligence agencies, including the FBI and CIA, have concluded that the aim of the hack was to cause damage to Mrs Clinton and the Democrats and favour Mr Trump. The plan worked better than expected. Apparently people are influenced by events of the moment rather than a lifetime of service to one's country or the shady, dubious past of one who served only himself.

How close are we to nuclear or biological war??

Nuclear Tension Story

Nuclear Tension Story

The idea of an emerging global conflict is not a new concept at all. Since the first nuclear bomb dropped at the close of WWII, the world has been on pins and needles waiting for the day that those weapons bring about our end.

As Moscow, Beijing, and Washington D.C. prepare for what could very well be the war to end all wars, we must examine what led us to this point in the first place and what a nuclear war would mean for all of humanity. Since the end of the Cold War, tensions have never been higher between the United States and Russia. Accusations are flying back and forth. At the same time, the Pentagon has been waging a subtle war in Syria, which could have led U.S. forces into conflict with the Russian troops in place to assist Syrian President Assad.
Experts around the world are asking themselves, are we finally headed for another world war after decades of relative peace? Can any nation, now that the world has been slowly globalizing over the course of the 21st century, really afford to risk using their nuclear arsenals, knowing full well that they would wipe out the world?
Unlike conventional warfare, which only affects the military units embroiled in the conflict and often the surrounding landscape and population, An all out nuclear war can cause devastation on a much greater scale; wiping out entire cities, even entire countries in mere moments and leaving a scorched, irradiated earth in its wake. There would be an automatic retaliation and the enemy countries on the other side of the world would be obliterated too. The rest of the world would be destroyed by fallout and the inevitable nuclear winter.

Nuclear Tension Story
Nuclear winter
Any conflict that involved a nuclear exchange would undoubtedly have incredibly long-term effects on humankind and our environment. The fallout would likely lead to a nuclear winter that could last for centuries after the initial attack. Portions of the earth, primarily where the first bombs hit, would be rendered completely uninhabitable. The question many experts are asking right now is very simply, what could cause such a thing to occur?
War is a sad but an unavoidable fact of life for most of humanity. Human beings have been fighting one another for centuries for various reasons. We’ve fought over control of land and resources. We’ve fought over our differences in race and religion. We’ve struggled to end oppression and gain control.

Nuclear Tension Story

In these troubled times, one of the most common reasons for war stems from a conflict of ideologies that has been brewing since the middle ages. Islamic terrorism and the growing threat of organizations like ISIS are pushing the world’s nations to fight back against the countries that have given rise to these terroristic factions. But even as world powers work in tandem to combat these individuals, they also seek to wrest control of resources in these terror-laden region.
Resources like crude oil are invaluable in the modern age. Cars, boats, ships, planes, other forms of transportation and industry are all powered by this fossil substance. Manufacturers also require oil for use in plastics and fuel oils are used for heating and electricity. Unfortunately, this commodity only exists in certain parts of the world, and its existence seems to make war, for control of these places an unavoidable consequence.

Nuclear Tension Story

As world powers continue to intervene in the oil-rich parts of the world, it seems that the people of those lands continue to struggle with the invasion of Western influence. Many of the individuals that engage in acts of terrorism feel justified in their actions, arguing that it is all in defense of their world, their traditions, religion and their way of life. These desperate individuals are not above using nuclear weapons themselves. That is an ever present danger.

Nuclear Tension Story

The collapse of the Soviet Union has given rise to the possibility that nuclear weapons, formerly used by the Soviet State, have become available on the black market for purchase by terrorist organizations like ISIS. Though most of these weapons of mass destruction have been accounted for since the 1990’s, there is a very real possibility that these “Dirty bombs”, devices designed to disperse radioactive materials over large areas, are still out there. And probably, Mr Putin is building even more destructive weapons. He has said, frequently, that he is building up his nuclear arsenal.

Nuclear war has only occurred in one combat situation towards the end of World War II. The United States, under the leadership of President Harry S. Truman, decided that the only way to win the war with Japan was to use their most powerful weapon. The use of these bombs would ensure the complete defeat of their enemy but would also change the state of modern warfare forever…
Only two nuclear weapons have ever been used in the course of war, and the United States used both. The first, code-named “Little Boy,” was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Monday, August 6, 1945, at 8:15 am. The bomb killed an estimated 70,000 people initially and brought the death total to between 90,000 and 166,000 by the end of the year due to injury and radiation-related deaths.
The second bomb was dropped three days later, on August 9, on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. This bomb, code-named, “Fat Man”, exploded within 53 seconds of its release and killed 35,000 people in its initial drop. It was the second and last use of a nuclear weapon in combat. Because of their success and the amount of devastation, they caused, the threat of nuclear weapons persisted, and for a good reason.

Nuclear Tension Story

The two bombings resulted in the deaths of approximately 120,000 people, and experts calculate that witth the sheer number of nuclear weapon stockpiles, a nuclear war could lead to billions of casualties. The resultant explosions in the main cities would take out the majority of the population, while rural areas would remain but be subject to further decades of deaths by radiation. How then do we prepare for such a terrifying scenario?
During the Cold War, Americans were constantly on the watch for the inevitable retaliation of its enemies. School children were expected to take cover under their desks in air raid drills. Homeowners were encouraged to dig reinforced bomb shelters and stock them with several months worth of canned goods in the event of a nuclear attack on American soil.

Nuclear Tension Story

The United States currently has an expected warning time of about a half an hour for land-based missiles. Many other countries maintain plans that ensure the continuity of government operations following a nuclear attack as well. Most nuclear submarines are even given detailed instructions of what actions they should take if a nuclear strike destroys the government. Though the result of a nuclear attack, for any nation, would be catastrophic. Government would probably be useless, even obsolete under the circumstances.

Nuclear Tension Story

A nuclear exchange between today’s world powers would include millions of deaths for city-dwelling populations within a relatively short amount of time. Many experts truly believe that with today’s advancements and dependence on technology a full-scale nuclear war would bring the world to its knees, eventually bringing about the extinction of the entire human race.
Nations around the world have taken steps to safeguard their populations against this grim eventuality. Metro stations in Pyongyang, North Korea, were specifically constructed 360 ft below ground so that they could serve as fallout shelters in the event of a nuclear war. Private citizens have also begun preparing for these scenarios as well and have built elaborate and costly underground bunkers just in case. Yet, the threat of nuclear war is not as frightening as the idea of biological weapons.

Nuclear Tension Story

The use of biological warfare is also something that humanity will have to deal with if the situation does not improve. Biotechnology in the 21st century has given way to viruses that are capable of eliminating entire populations. Thankfully, most governments understand the unpredictable mutable nature of viruses and would therefore not risk using such a weapon for fear of it spreading beyond their control, or into their own borders. However science is working over-time to create the perfect biological weapon that could be contained and controlled.

As a species, maybe we should be striving for an end to the threat of nuclear or biological warfare, not preparing for it as an eventuality. As tensions in the Middle East, parts of Europe, Russia, China, Korea and the US continue to rise, it is more important than ever for humanity’s leaders to keep a cool head and to understand that any conflict using today’s weapons will mean the end of life as we know it for everyone. If everyone dies, nobody wins.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Putin Signs Measure Revoking Religious Freedom: ‘Most Restrictive in Post-Soviet History’

Russian President Vladimir Putin puts a candle in a hospital church while visiting the Dima Rogachev Children's Haematology Center in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 1, 2016. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation this week that severely restricts freedom of religion by prohibiting any religious speech or evangelization outside of places of worship.

“This new situation resembles the Soviet Union in 1929. At that time confession of faith was permitted only in church,” said Dr. Hannu Haukka, president of Great Commission Media Ministries, reports National Religious Broadcasters (NRB). “Practically speaking, we are back in the same situation. These anti-terrorist laws are some of the most restrictive laws in post-Soviet history.”
The new law, which goes into effect July 20, is actually an amendment to a package of laws against terrorism and extremism approved by the Russian Parliament’s upper chamber. As a result of the legislation, faith sharing in homes, in the media, online, or any place other than a government recognized church is prohibited.
The measure is expected to especially affect evangelical groups and Jehovah’s Witnesses who often share faith in homes rather than traditional churches.
In a column at the Daily Signal, U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) wrote the new law is “an affront to free people everywhere.”
“We need to begin telling the truth about an increasingly aggressive actor in global affairs,” he said. “This Russian law would be an affront to free people everywhere—at home and abroad—who believe that rights of conscience—the rights to free speech and to freedom of religion—are pre-political.”
Religious freedom attorneys and human rights groups are already preparing an appeal to Russia’s Constitutional Court, reports Forum 18. The legislation drew widespread protests and religious leaders are uncertain how they can fulfill the law’s obligations.
“Today is indeed a black day on the calendar,” lawyer Vladimir Ryakhovsky of the Slavic Centre for Law and Justice posted on his Facebook page. “Hope was that Vladimir Putin would not in the end sign this law. A law which openly contradicts the gospel command ‘go and make disciples’ and, in addition, violates the constitutional rights of citizens.”
Mikhail Fedotov, chairman of the Presidential Council on Civil Society Development and Human Rights, protested the new amendments directly to Putin, asserting that they “create unjustified and excessive restrictions on the freedom of conscience of believers of all religions, and encroach upon the fundamental constitutional principle of non-interference by the state in the internal arrangements of religious associations.”
Financial penalties for violating the law are reportedly up to 50,000 roubles for individuals and up to one million roubles for organizations.
“We are distressed by the law and see it as repressive for believers in our country, because the law contradicts the Bible,” said a spokeswoman for the Council of Churches – Baptists. “We must assume there will be repression and persecution.”
“The United States government and all other nations that profess a commitment to religious freedom should urge Russia to repeal this unjust law, NRB President Dr. Jerry A. Johnson said. “Let’s pray this new iron curtain of Christian persecution in Russia will be lifted quickly and without harm to our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
I always had a gut feeling that Putin was a deep down, ill willed, evil guy who never intended to do any good in this world except for himself;  and that we would be hearing much more from him. He is remorseless, oppressive and trying to reinstate all the misery which totally disheartened and defeated his own people in the Soviet/Communist era. He must have become addicted to that feeling of total power over his people when he ran the KGB. I see bad and violent times heading this way for our poor old planet.

Trump voter's freak-out at Michaels employees goes viral

Racist Trump supporter ranting at Michaels
© Screengrab via The Beautiful Wild Magazine / YouTube Racist Trump supporter ranting at Michaels

’Tis the season for good food, good family—and totally freaking the hell out.
Case in point: This self-described Donald Trump voter, who berated employees at a Chicago arts and crafts store after she was allegedly asked to pay $1 for a reusable bag.
The Nov. 23 incident was captured by Jessie Grady at a Michaels craft store in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Grady told Patch that the unidentified woman, who is white, began screaming at two African-American employees because she felt she was being discriminated against because, the woman said, they were trying to “force me” into buying a non-disposable shopping bag.
The woman also accused one of the employees of saying something under her breath regarding Trump, although it is unclear from the video who brought up the president-elect first.
“And I voted for Trump, so there,” the woman says at the start of the video, which began after the woman started her rant. “You want to kick me out because of that? And look who won.”

After several minutes of yelling at Michaels employees, the woman confronted Grady, who is also white, for filming her and accused her 2-year-old daughter of stealing. 
“I don’t know what you think you’re videoing, lady,” the woman says. “I was just discriminated against by two black women, and you being a white woman, and you’re literally thinking that’s OK. You standing there with your baby thinking that’s OK.”
Grady, who continued to film the woman, defended the employees and repeatedly questioned the woman over her statements and her complaints.
Following the incident, Grady launched a GoFundMe campaign for one of the employees, whom she says sustained the brunt of the woman’s rant. The campaign has so far raised more than $2,500, well above the original goal of $400.
In an update on the campaign page, Grady added more details about the incident.
“There is so much you don’t see in this video. At least ten customers stood next to the manager and waited for the police,” Grady wrote. “That is what shocked the manager and myself the most, that people actually spoke up. You had to be there to see how the people were united.”
Another perfectly sane Trump voter, who definitely chose the right man.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas classics by original artists

0:00 It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas -- Johnny Mathis
2:15 Sleigh Ride -- Amy Grant
5:45 A Holly Jolly Christmas -- Burl Ives
8:00 Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! -- Dean Martin
9:56 It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year -- Andy Williams
12:29 The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
15:41 White Christmas -- Bing Crosby
18:48 The First Noel -- All Saints Ensemble
21:24 O Little Town Of Bethlehem -- Bruce Mitchell Choir
23:40 I Saw Three Ships -- Norwich Cathedral Choir
25:47 Home For The Holidays -- Perry Como
28:40 Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer -- Gene Autry
31:50 I Wish You A Merry Christmas -- Bing Crosby
33:45 Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) -- Trans-Siberian Orchestra
37:07 I'll Be Home For Christmas -- The Carpenters
40:59 It Came Upon A Midnight Clear -- Anne Murray
43:44 Carol of the Birds -- Mannheim Steamroller
45:50 Winter Wonderland -- The Carpenters
51:20 Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree -- Brenda Lee
53:26 Away In A Manger -- Kathleen Battle
55:20 Feliz Navidad -- Jose' Feliciano
58:24 Joy To The World -- Jim Nabors
1:00:44 Do You Hear What I Hear? -- Johnny Mathis
1:04:05 Charlie Brown Christmas Music - Vince Guaraldi
1:06:25 Linus - The Meaning of Christmas
1:08:21 The Chipmunk Song -- The Chipmunks
1:10:41 Good King Wenceslas -- The Roger Wagner Chorale
1:13:45 Deck The Halls -- Mitch Miller and The Gang
1:15:32 Carol of the Bells - Traditional (sorry but CD didn't have artist name)
1:16:58 We Wish You A Merry Christmas - Andre' Kostelanetz
1:19:04 Here Come's Santa Claus -- Elvis Presley
1:21:01 Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (TV Show Version)-- Burl Ives
1:22:24 Frosty The Snowman -- Jimmy Durante
1:24:58 The Little Drummer Boy -- Ray Conniff
1:28:20 Jingle Bells -- The Barclay Christmas Orchestra
1:30:06 A Marshmallow World -- Dean Martin
1:32:49 Jingle Bell Rock -- Bobby Helms
1:34:59 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing -- Julie Andrews
1:38:32 O Holy Night -- Andy Williams
1:41:55 Silver Bells -- Elvis Presley
1:44:27 Merry Christmas Darling -- The Carpenters
1:47:32 Angels We Have Heard On High -- Chanticleer
1:49:56 Sussex Carol -- Westminster Concert Bell Choir
1:51:44 We Three Kings -- Dan Gibson's Solitudes Chrismas
1:54:42 Pat A Pan -- Mannheim Steamroller
1:59:48 Hallelujah Chorus -- Huddersfield Chorale Society
2:04:28 The Nutcracker/Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy -- Arthur Fiedler
2:05:59 Lo How A Rose E'er Blooming -- New York Choral Artists
2:08:31 I Wonder as I Wander -- Joel Cohen Boston Camerata
2:11:47 O Come All Ye Faithful -- Al Martino
2:14:16 O Tannenbaum -- Rita Ford's Music
2:16:02 Blue Christmas -- Elvis Presley
2:18:12 Adestes Fideles -- Bing Crosby
2:21:24 The First Noel/What Child is This -- Francesca Battistelli
2:25:35 Twelve Days Of Christmas -- Philadelphia Brass Ensemble
2:29:31 Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song) -- Amy Grant
2:34:36 God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen -- Kim Hill and Phil Keaggy
2:38:34 What A Wonderful World (Christmas Album Version) -- Russ Taff
2:41:05 We Wish You A Merry Christmas - Home Alone Soundtrack
2:45:16 It Came Upon A Midnight Clear -- All Saints Ensemble
2:47:38 Joy To The World -- Joel Cohen; Boston Camerata
2:49:50 Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
2:52:54 Grown Up Christmas List -- Amy Grant (This song has been muted by the artist record label. Sorry)
2:57:55 Christmas Message from Elvis -- Silent Night
3:00:18 Auld Lang Syne - Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians


Prince Charles warns rising intolerance risks repeat of past horrors

Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales: Prince Charles pleaded for the UK to have a welcoming attitude to people fleeing persecution.
Prince Charles pleaded for the UK to have a welcoming attitude to people fleeing persecution.

The Prince of Wales has warned that the rise of populist extremism and intolerance towards other faiths risks repeating the “horrors” of the Holocaust.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s religious Thought for the Day slot, the prince delivered an outspoken attack against religious hatred and pleaded for a welcoming attitude to those fleeing persecution.
He said: “We are now seeing the rise of many populist groups across the world that are increasingly aggressive to those who adhere to a minority faith. All of this has deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days of the 1930s.
“My parents’ generation fought and died in a battle against intolerance, monstrous extremism and inhuman attempts to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe.”
The prince did not mention any politicians by name, but his address will be seen by some as a veiled reference to the election of Donald Trump in the US, the rise of the far right in Europe, and increasingly hostile attitudes to refugees in the UK.

“That nearly 70 years later we should still be seeing such evil persecution is to me beyond all belief,” he said.
“We owe it to those who suffered and died so horribly not to repeat the horrors of the past.”
Prince Charles said religious hatred was on the increase, leading to a rise in refugees fleeing persecution.
“According to the United Nations, 5.8 million more people abandoned their homes in 2015 than the year before, bringing the annual total to a staggering 65.3 million. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom,” he said.
“The suffering doesn’t end when they arrive seeking refuge in a foreign land.”
The prince urged listeners this Christmas to remember “how the story of the Nativity unfolds with the fleeing of the holy family to escape violent persecution”.
He added: “We might also remember that when the prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina, he did so because he too was seeking the freedom for himself and his followers to worship.”
The prince recalled meeting a Jesuit priest from Syria. “He told me of mass kidnappings in parts of Syria and Iraq, and how he feared that Christians would be driven en masse out of lands described in the Bible,” he said.
“He thought it quite possible there would be no Christians in Iraq within five years.”
He continued: “The scale of religious persecution around the world is not widely appreciated. Nor is it limited to Christians in the troubled regions of the Middle East.”
He then cited a recent report that found an increase in attacks on minority faiths.
The Labour MEP Claude Moraes, chair of the European parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, welcomed the prince’s intervention.
He said it was “obvious” which politicians the prince was referring to, “but for protocol reasons he can’t say”.
Moraes told the Guardian: “It was a good intervention I think when the right and rightwing UK newspapers dominate the anti-refugee, intolerance, and anti-EU protectionist narrative.”
The prince was invited to speak as part of BBC Radio 4’s religious programming. It was the third time the heir to the throne had given the address. He first broadcast in the Thought for the Day slot on the anniversary of VE Day in 1995, and did so again in January 2000 to mark the new millennium.
He pre-recorded his message on Monday at his official London home, Clarence House, before it was announced that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh had delayed plans to travel to Norfolk for Christmas, because of illness.
The prince did not mention the health of his parents, But it has been reported that the Queen and the Duke have heavy colds.

And as if to prove what the Prince says is the absolute truth ISIL has just produced a hit list for churches all over the US:
The Islamic State is urging its followers to attack U.S. churches and has published names and addresses of thousands of prospective targets, according to a report in the news website Vocativ.
Messages posted in Arabic to the group’s “Secrets of Jihadis” social media site called "for bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year." The post, under the name Abu Marya al-Iraqi, said the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, hopes to tap lone wolf attackers to “turn the Christian New Year into a bloody horror movie,” Vocativ reports.
The series of messages appeared on Telegram, a messaging app that allows users to send encrypted messages to one another. The group also uses social media to provide instructions on constructing and igniting explosives.
The information on U.S. churches was based on information already available online and includes a public directory of churches across all 50 states, Vocativ said.
Another post urged followers to attack churches, hotels, crowded coffee shops, streets, markets and public places and provided some examples in the U.S. Canada, France and the Netherlands. Happy Holidays.

Even Donald trump did not see this coming

Aired Dec 15th  ..... still like it

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Death toll rises in Russia bath lotion poisoning

A bottle of hawthorn bath essence, confiscated during an operation checking all private stores selling alcohol in Irkutsk, Russia (19 December 2016)
The labels of the contaminated lotion said the product contained ethyl alcohol rather than deadly methanol

The number of people in Russia who have died as a result of drinking bath oil has risen from 49 to at least 58, local media has reported.
Most of the 37 other people who became ill are still being treated, with some in a serious condition.
The highly toxic hawthorn-scented liquid was consumed as if it were safe alcohol, according to Russia's Investigative Committee.
But it contained poisonous methanol, which can also cause blindness.

A policeman in Irkutsk checking a private store is not selling alcohol hawthorn bath essence
Police in Irkutsk have been checking private stores to ensure they are not selling poisonous lotions
A boxed package of hawthorn bath essence confiscated during an operation checking all private stores selling alcohol in Irkutsk (19 December 2016)
This boxed package of hawthorn bath essence was confiscated during an operation checking all private stores selling alcohol in Irkutsk

The Siberian Times said the mass poisoning in Irkutsk "is now the worst such case in modern Russian history".  Fifty eight people are now dead.
Health minister Oleg Yaroshenko said that almost half of those still being treated are not expected to live and others were in critical condition.
"They came to doctors too late.... Only a miracle can save them," he was quoted by The Siberian Times as saying.
The paper said that a doctor and a kindergarten teacher are among the victims and that many of those who died were discovered in their in homes because they did not have sufficient time to call an ambulance.  Most of the victims are reported to be aged between 35 and 50.
One 33-year-old survivor said that he only drank a small amount of the lotion but still woke up blind the following morning. Household products are seen by some as a cheap alternative to alcohol across the former Soviet Union.
Bottles with the lotion normally carry warnings stating they are not to be consumed, but correspondents say that the labels in this case said that the product contained ethyl alcohol rather than deadly methanol.
Analysts say up to 12 million Russians drink cheap surrogate alcohol, including perfume, after shave, anti-freeze and window cleaner. Two years of Western economic sanctions have made the situation worse.
Police earlier uncovered an illicit workshop where the lotion was being made, and arrested its owners.
Vladimir Putin is said to be the richest man in the world. He has been stealing from Russia for many years. And from several sources, I have ascertained that he is in possession of approximately 200 billion dollars....200 billion ! And yet his people are so poor they are drinking anti-freeze and household products for a teaspoon of ethyl alcohol. I don't think it can be entirely blamed on sanctions. Mr Putin doesn't seem to regard human lives as very significant ... not even Russian lives.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Reality Check with Bill Burr ....Very adult content ....lots of cuss words

Zsa Zsa - Passed away at 99

Iconic actress Zsa Zsa Gabor has died after suffering a heart attack, aged 99, her husband has confirmed.On the point of tears, Frederic von Anhalt told the AFP news agency his wife had passed away at home, surrounded by her friends and family.
"Everybody was there. She didn't die alone," he said.
Born in Hungary, she emigrated to the United States during World War Two and made her Hollywood debut in 1952. She was married nine times.
She appeared in more than 70 films, but was more famous for her celebrity lifestyle.
She first married at the age of 20 and for the last (and longest) time when she was nearly 70 to Frederic.
By her own reckoning she was only married eight-and-a-half times - she said she didn't really count a Spanish duke in 1982.
Born Sari Gabor in Budapest on 6 February 1917, the future starlet was immediately nicknamed Zsa Zsa by her family.
Though she had initially wanted to be a vet, her mother had other ideas - and her beauty soon saw show business beckon.

Portrait of Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor wearing a stole and carrying a bouquet of flowers, 1950s.
A 1950s portrait of the actress wearing a stole shows both her beauty and the lavish tastes for which she was famous

This file photo from January 1954 shows US actress Zsa Zsa Gabor (C) and her sisters Eva (L) and Magda, playing piano for new year day.
Gabor pictured in 1954, playing the piano with her sisters Eva (left) and Magda

Gabor was crowned Miss Hungary in 1936, but was later disqualified for lying about her age to enter the pageant.
Her credits include a long list of roles in such hit films as Moulin Rouge (1952), Lili (1953) and Queen of Outer Space (1958). More recently, she featured in the Nightmare on Elm Street series and in the Naked Gun spoofs.
In her heyday, Gabor embodied Hollywood's platinum blonde ideal and was famous for wearing lame gowns.
Her only child was Constance Francesca Hilton, her daughter with hotel magnate Conrad Hilton, who was born in 1947.
Gabor was arguably among the first women to be "famous for being famous" - a quality often attributed to her famous great-granddaughter by marriage, Paris Hilton.
She was affectionately mocked for her strong Hungarian accent, in which she called everybody "darling" - or "dahlink" as she pronounced it.
"I call everyone 'dahlink' because I can't remember their names," the socialite once said.
Her mother had reportedly told her: "You don't have to marry every man you sleep with."
Gabor said she did it because she "never stopped being a Catholic at heart".

This file photo taken on September 11, 1989 shows US actress Zsa Zsa Gabor and her husband Frederick von Anhalt.
1989 with her last husband Frederic von Anhalt

In her 1993 autobiography "One Lifetime is Not Enough", she claimed to have lost her virginity to Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, when she was 15.
The tell-all account also referred to romances with screen legends Sean Connery and Frank Sinatra, quite apart from her roster of husbands. She claimed to have turned down John F. Kennedy and Elvis Presley.
Though she spent her life delivering others' lines, Gabor could turn a memorable phrase herself.
Pondering her good relations with her many ex-husbands, she said: "I never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back."
She also commented: "I am a marvellous housekeeper: Every time I leave a man I keep his house."

This file photo taken on July 12, 1989 shows US actress Zsa Zsa Gabor exiting the Beverly Hills Municipal Court on July 12, 1989 where she appeared in order to answer charges of battery against a police officer.
Gabor was plagued by ill-health in her later years, and was left wheelchair-bound after a 2002 car accident in Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.
She survived strokes in 2005 and 2007, and was left heavily dependent on her husband.
In 2011, she suffered an infection that saw her right leg amputated above the knee to save her life.
Figures from the entertainment world paid tribute to Gabor as news of her death emerged.
Talk show host Larry King said: "There will only be one Zsa Zsa Gabor. And I liked her a lot. Rest In Peace, my dear."
Actress Barbara Eden, who starred in I Dream of Jeannie, tweeted: "Rest in peace Zsa Zsa Gabor. She and her sisters were lovely ladies who were always fun and delightful to be around."
Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie called the socialite "fabulous" and "unmistakable".

A picture of a tweet by actress Gwendoline Christie

British director Michael Winner, who worked with Gabor on the 1976 film Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood, said her greatest role was playing herself.
Speaking before his death in 2013, he remarked: "She played Zsa Zsa Gabor the actress in real life.
"I thought she had great wit and charm. She was a perfectly reasonable actress. Not a great actress - but she was perfect in those early comedies.
"She played a glamorous Hungarian. She wouldn't have been able to play Juliet, or be in Hamlet, but was perfect for those films.
"Her private life is the equal to those characters in soap operas today - but they do not hold a candle to her. Compared to Zsa Zsa Gabor they are just empty shells."
She was one of the old school, Hollywood legends we all loved and laughed with. She was a saucy lady with wit and a tongue in cheek attitude toward life. And she led an enviably glamorous lifestyle and enjoyed every moment.
Farewell my dear. Sleep with the angels.
With love and sadness, Witchy and Genie

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Washington Post certainly has a point of view

Obama warns Russia on hacking: ‘We can do stuff to you’

President Obama speaks during a news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, D.C

President Obama warned Russia on Friday not to wage cyber  warfare against the United States, saying, “We can do stuff to you” as he defended his handling of Moscow’s alleged hacking of Democrats’ emails to influence the 2016 election.
“Our goal continues to be to send a clear message to Russia or others not to do this to us, because we can do stuff to you,” Obama told reporters at his final press conference of 2016.
His comments came shortly after it was disclosed that the FBI agrees with the CIA’s conclusions that Russia targeted Democrats with the aim of helping President-elect Donald Trump win on Nov. 8.
Obama promised that any U.S. retaliation against Russia would come “in a thoughtful, methodical way” that might be hidden from the U.S. public.
“Some of it we do publicly, some of it we will do in a way that they know but not everybody will,” he said. “The message will be directly received by the Russians and not publicized.”
Obama defended his response to Moscow’s alleged intrusion, saying, “We handled it the way it should have been handled.”
The question remains ..... Did Russia get the message or is this the beginning of a new kind of cyber, cold war??
It could become a tit for tat battle that escalates to something frightening. Mr Putin wants to be a major world power, equal to or bigger than the United States. He wants to prove his might and he will use any means without conscience. Don't forget he was in the KBG. They were a sneaky and remorseless organization. Putin seems to want to turn the clock back to Russia's ( and his) heyday in the Cold War. And if he thinks he has Trump under his thumb, be afraid. Be very afraid.
 I have always thought Putin was a bad guy and a threat. And never forget, he has a sleeping giant in his back yard. China has been pretty quiet until now. But Mr Trump opened a Pandora's box there too when he spoke directly to Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen in a break from the US' "one China" policy, triggering protest from Beijing.
This is a very sensitive subject with the Chinese. Trump's action was tantamount to recognizing Ing-wen as the leader of an independent country.
China responded by increasing military force in the South China Sea. They can also do major damage to the American economy ... discarding trade deals, lowering their dollar, pulling out billions in investments in America. No one wants to upset China.
 They could defeat any country who threatened them by sheer numbers. They have the biggest population of any country in the world ... about one billion 400 million people.
They have co-operated  with the US, so far, in disapproving of North Korea's nuclear aspirations and also Iran's. But that could change too.
They could also pull out of the Paris Climate Change agreement and they are the worst polluters on the planet.
The thing we don't want to see is China and Russia teaming up as a joint power. Then we are all screwed.  But Mr Trump could bring that about with his ham-handed, 'bull in a china shop' diplomatic skills/ or lack thereof. Someone stop that run away train.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ceasefire in Aleppo... Rebels defeated


Image result for latest images from Aleppo

Proud, victorious army ...I wonder what they are proud of

Military action has ended in eastern Aleppo, Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, has said.He said Syrian government troops had re-established control over the last areas of the city held by rebels. He said an arrangement had been made for rebel fighters to leave. The rebels confirmed the deal, but said civilians would also be allowed to leave.
The latest developments could bring to an end more than four years of vicious fighting in which thousands have died. Reporters on the ground said there had been no bombardments or fighting in recent hours.
The rebels had been squeezed into ever smaller areas of the city in recent months in a major government offensive backed by Russian air power.
Word of the deal came as the UN reported summary killings by pro-government forces. It said it had reliable evidence that in four areas 82 civilians were killed, adding that many more may have died.
The UN and the US said the Syrian government and its allies Russia and Iran were accountable for any atrocities committed in the city.
Naturally, Russia said the allegations were untrue.
With this victory, Russia will probably crush all remaining rebel strongholds very quickly and expediently with no regard for civilians, as has been their method so far. And that will probably be the end of the war in Syria .... for good or evil.
 Russia has taken advantage of the election and transition period in the USA, while the government's focus was elsewhere and capitalized on Trump's promised future withdrawal from Syria. Taking Trump at his word, Putin moved massive military forces into Syria and pressed it's advantage to it's ultimate conclusion.
You see Mr Trump, a few careless words in the wrong ear can change the destiny of countries, can destroy all hope of freedom and can cost, at the very least, 82 lives.

Bear-bogganing in first heavy snow Toronto Zoo

Our Dogs love the snow too

Monday, December 12, 2016

US Intelligence concludes Russia hacked and undermined election to sway votes

U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help President-elect Donald Trump win the White House, and not just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.
U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that as the 2016 presidential campaign progressed, Russian government officials devoted increasing attention to assisting Trump's effort to win the election, the U.S. official familiar with the finding told Reuters on Friday night, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The president-elect's transition office released a statement that exaggerated his margin of victory and attacked the U.S. intelligence community that Trump will soon command, but did not address or question the analysts' conclusions. Apparently, the CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies are all lying. And yet, in a statement last week, Trump said he had the utmost respect for these agencies. Does it ever concern you that he talks out of both sides of his mouth??
"These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction," the transition office said. "The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It's now time to move on and 'Make America Great Again.'"
Democrats and some Republicans in Congress are calling for a full investigation into Russia's election year activities.
"Protecting the integrity of our elections is hindered when President-elect Trump and his transition team minimize or dismiss the intelligence assessments themselves," Representative Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said in a statement issued on Saturday.
Citing U.S. officials briefed on the matter, the Washington Post reported on Friday that intelligence agencies had identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including the chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, to WikiLeaks.
U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered intelligence agencies to review cyber attacks and foreign intervention into the 2016 election and deliver a report before he leaves office on Jan. 20, the White House said on Friday.
Obama's homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, told reporters the report's results would be shared with lawmakers and others.
"The president has directed the intelligence community to conduct a full review of what happened during the 2016 election process ... and to capture lessons learned from that and to report to a range of stakeholders, to include the Congress," she said during an event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
As summer turned to fall, Russian hackers turned almost all their attention to the Democrats. Virtually all the emails they released publicly were potentially damaging to Clinton and the Democrats, not Republicans, the official told Reuters.
"That was a major clue to their intent," the official said. "If all they wanted to do was discredit our political system, why publicize the failings of just one party, especially when you have a target like Trump?"
A second official familiar with the report said the intelligence analysts' conclusion about Russia's motives does not mean the intelligence community believes that Moscow's efforts altered or significantly affected the outcome of the election.
Russian officials have denied all accusations of interference in the U.S. election.
A Central Intelligence Agency spokeswoman said the agency had no comment on the matter.
The hacked emails passed to WikiLeaks were a regular source of embarrassment to the Clinton campaign during the race for the presidency.
U.S. intelligence analysts have assessed "with high confidence" that at some point in the extended presidential campaign Russian President Vladimir Putin's government had decided to try to bolster Trump's chances of winning.
The Russians appear to have concluded that Trump had a shot at winning and that he would be much friendlier to Russia than Clinton would be, especially on issues such as maintaining economic sanctions and imposing additional ones, the official said.
Moscow is launching a similar effort to influence the next German election, following an escalating campaign to promote far-right and nationalist political parties and individuals in Europe that began more than a decade ago, the official said.
In both cases, said the official, Putin's campaigns in both Europe and the United States are intended to disrupt and discredit the Western concept of democracy by promoting extremist candidates, parties, and political figures.
In October, the U.S. government publicly accused Russia of a campaign of cyber attacks against Democratic Party organizations ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election. Obama has said he warned Putin about consequences for the attacks.
"I don't believe they interfered," Trump told Time magazine about Russia in an interview published this week. "That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say, 'Oh, Russia interfered.'"
If it's true, then it is true Mr Trump and you do not belong in a position of  extreme
power and public trust.

Trump's response to Russian hacking

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Monday, December 05, 2016

The gun violence ad that’s leaving everyone gob smacked

A still image from "Evan," ad by BBDO New York for Sandy Hook Promise.

An ad released by relatives of those lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting uses story and misdirection to make an all-too-real point: You can stop gun violence, if you know what to look for.
The spot, titled “Evan,” engrosses viewers over a one-minute-and-40-second love story with a chilling twist. Since releasing on YouTube Friday, it’s garnered 2.5 million views and countless floored reactions:
Using selective framing and focus, the ad shows the subtle signals that potential shooters often reveal and casts viewers as those close to them who can easily miss such red flags. A sentimental folk song sets the tone for a budding romance that unfolds with expert pacing. Then it all comes to shattering halt.
The ad, made by BBDO New York, comes from the Sandy Hook Promise, a nonpartisan nonprofit launched by families who lost loved ones at the attack in Newtown, Conn. four years ago this month.
The ad promotes “Know The Signs,” a campaign raising awareness about the warning signs that can precede gun violence. According to Sandy Hook Promise, 80% of school shooters told someone of their plans to commit violence before taking action. Too often, no one intervenes.