Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Trump's budget plan 'dead on arrival' according to several Republicans

Republicans are lining up against President Donald Trump's proposed budget cuts to the State Department, hours before his address to Congress.
Mr Trump's 2018 budget blueprint reportedly includes a 37% spending cut for the State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID).
He will set out to convince Congress of his proposal in his first address to a joint session on Tuesday night.

But Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said his plan is "dead on arrival".
"It's not going to happen. It would be a disaster. If you take soft power off the table then you're never going to win the war," Senator Graham said.
Soft power is an American term that refers to diplomatic tools such as foreign aid and humanitarian relief.
"What's most disturbing about the cut to the State Department's budget is it shows a lack of understanding of what it takes to win the war," Senator Graham continued.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also said Mr Trump's reported deep cuts to the State Department would "probably not" pass Congress.
The Republican-controlled Congress must approve any federal spending.

Fight for soft power

To the White House, foreign aid might seem like an easy target for cuts, but those who protect the country think otherwise.
In their letter to lawmakers more than 120 former military officers quoted the Defence Secretary James Mattis from his days as a field commander: "If you don't fully fund the State Department then I need to buy more ammunition." They argued that strengthening diplomacy and development were critical to preventing conflict. International assistance in the State Department budget does more than respond to humanitarian needs, it also supports policy goals.

For example, it supplements the military fight against the so-called Islamic State through programs to disrupt the group's financing and recruitment, and to stabilize communities where ISIS has been driven out.  There's money to address the underlying causes of migration from Central America, and to strengthen allies such as Afghanistan and Ukraine.

The former Secretary of State John Kerry was known to make a strong case for increasing the department's financing, (which at $50bn makes up just 1% of the entire budget).  The new Secretary Rex Tillerson will have to fight simply to keep what he has, or the State Department will be marginalized in an administration focused on the military.
The president released a budget proposal on Monday calling for a $54bn boost to military spending. This would be paid for, according to the plan, by gutting other programs including foreign aid and the environmental agency. The White House also plans to reduce spending for the State Department and USAID, say US media reports, which together received an estimated $50.1bn during the current fiscal year, or a little more than 1% of the total federal budget.

More than 120 retired generals have signed a letter urging Congress not to cut funding for diplomacy and foreign aid.
The letter said: "As you and your colleagues address the federal budget for Fiscal Year 2018, we write as retired three and four star flag and general officers from all branches of the armed services to share our strong conviction that elevating and strengthening diplomacy and development alongside defense are critical to keeping America safe."
Development assistance would probably be hardest hit while staff reductions would see fewer security contractors at diplomatic missions abroad, the AP reported, citing officials familiar with the proposal.
The Office of Management and Budget has not yet said where overall reductions would occur. The Republican pushback over Mr Trump's reported plan comes as the president is set to deliver his first major speech to Congress since taking office.

Which Trump will show up?

An address to Congress is a different kind of presidential speech. Will the American public see a different Donald Trump? If history is any guide, that seems unlikely. Every time there has been talk of a pivot or shift of focus for candidate Trump, or president-elect Trump, or President Trump, the end result has been the same Donald Trump as always - blustering and belligerent, unvarnished and unapologetic.

Mr Trump would be well-served to take a different tack tonight, however. While he's spent his first month in office in a blizzard of activity, issuing executive orders and squelching controversies, there's been little progress with his agenda in Congress.
Top-line items like tax cuts and healthcare reform will be heavy legislative lifts with a balky conservative caucus in the House and a narrow Republican majority in the Senate, requiring presidential leadership of a kind not yet demonstrated by Mr Trump.
Recent opinion polls have shown the president's standing with the public improving after a dismal first few weeks, but any progress can quickly evaporate if his "man of action" bravado runs headfirst into congressional obstinacy.
Tuesday night's speech is the president's first major opportunity to avoid that outcome. He is expected to set out in greater detail his plans to cut spending and boost the economy as well as offer an "optimistic vision" about the "renewal of the American spirit", a senior White House official said.  At least one Democrat has said he would refuse to shake Mr Trump's hand before the speech, bucking a longstanding bipartisan tradition in presidential first addresses to Congress.
Representative Eliot Engel, a top New York Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he would not shake Mr Trump's hand as he enters the chamber, citing the president's attacks on media and refusal to work with Congress.
It will be the first time Mr Engel has not sought a center aisle seat to shake the president's hand in his 29 years serving in the House.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star

This illustration shows the possible surface of TRAPPIST-1f, one of the newly discovered planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system.
This illustration shows the possible surface of TRAPPIST-1f, one of the newly discovered planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system. Scientists using the Spitzer Space Telescope and ground-based telescopes have discovered that there are seven Earth-size planets in the system.

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultra-cool dwarf, has seven Earth-size planets orbiting it.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”

At about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from Earth, the system of planets is relatively close to us, in the constellation Aquarius. Because they are located outside of our solar system, these planets are scientifically known as exoplanets.

This exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1, named for The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile. In May 2016, researchers using TRAPPIST announced they had discovered three planets in the system. Assisted by several ground-based telescopes, including the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, Spitzer confirmed the existence of two of these planets and discovered five additional ones, increasing the number of known planets in the system to seven. The new results were published Wednesday in the journal Nature, and announced at a news briefing at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Using Spitzer data, the team precisely measured the sizes of the seven planets and developed first estimates of the masses of six of them, allowing their density to be estimated.

Based on their densities, all of the TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky. Further observations will not only help determine whether they are rich in water, but also possibly reveal whether any could have liquid water on their surfaces. The mass of the seventh and farthest exoplanet has not yet been estimated – scientists believe it could be an icy, "snowball-like" world, but further observations are needed.

"The seven wonders of TRAPPIST-1 are the first Earth-size planets that have been found orbiting this kind of star," said Michael Gillon, lead author of the paper and the principal investigator of the TRAPPIST exoplanet survey at the University of Liege, Belgium. "It is also the best target yet for studying the atmospheres of potentially habitable, Earth-size worlds."

In contrast to our sun, the TRAPPIST-1 star – classified as an ultra-cool dwarf – is so cool that liquid water could survive on planets orbiting very close to it, closer than is possible on planets in our solar system. All seven of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits are closer to their host star than Mercury is to our sun. The planets also are very close to each other. If a person was standing on one of the planet’s surface, they could gaze up and potentially see geological features or clouds of neighboring worlds, which would sometimes appear larger than the moon in Earth's sky.

The planets may also be tidally locked to their star, which means the same side of the planet is always facing the star, therefore each side is either perpetual day or night. This could mean they have weather patterns totally unlike those on Earth, such as strong winds blowing from the day side to the night side, and extreme temperature changes.

Spitzer, an infrared telescope that trails Earth as it orbits the sun, was well-suited for studying TRAPPIST-1 because the star glows brightest in infrared light, whose wavelengths are longer than the eye can see. In the fall of 2016, Spitzer observed TRAPPIST-1 nearly continuously for 500 hours. Spitzer is uniquely positioned in its orbit to observe enough crossing – transits – of the planets in front of the host star to reveal the complex architecture of the system. Engineers optimized Spitzer’s ability to observe transiting planets during Spitzer’s “warm mission,” which began after the spacecraft’s coolant ran out as planned after the first five years of operations.

"This is the most exciting result I have seen in the 14 years of Spitzer operations," said Sean Carey, manager of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California. "Spitzer will follow up in the fall to further refine our understanding of these planets so that the James Webb Space Telescope can follow up. More observations of the system are sure to reveal more secrets.”

Following up on the Spitzer discovery, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has initiated the screening of four of the planets, including the three inside the habitable zone. These observations aim at assessing the presence of puffy, hydrogen-dominated atmospheres, typical for gaseous worlds like Neptune, around these planets.

This poster imagines what a trip to TRAPPIST-1e might be like.

This poster imagines what a trip to TRAPPIST-1e might be like

In May 2016, the Hubble team observed the two innermost planets, and found no evidence for such puffy atmospheres. This strengthened the case that the planets closest to the star are rocky in nature.

"The TRAPPIST-1 system provides one of the best opportunities in the next decade to study the atmospheres around Earth-size planets," said Nikole Lewis, co-leader of the Hubble study and astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope also is studying the TRAPPIST-1 system, making measurements of the star's minuscule changes in brightness due to transiting planets. Operating as the K2 mission, the spacecraft's observations will allow astronomers to refine the properties of the known planets, as well as search for additional planets in the system.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ancient Aliens ??

Here is a photo of what looks like an astronaut on a pillar at Salamanca Cathedral Church, Spain. The church took nearly two centuries to build (1600s-1800s), but why then would they have carved such a figure into stone? What else could it possibly represent? An alien? Yikes!

Perched on a façade over the northern entrance of a 300-year-old cathedral in Salamanca, Spain, is a carved figure remarkably reminiscent of a modern astronaut. Construction of the cathedral was started in 1513 and completed in 1733.
Instantly, the mind questions what the eyes see. Theories of ancient aliens, time travel, or perhaps the sculptor had the supernormal power of foresight. And, although the world today still holds many mysteries, the mystery of the Salamanca Cathedral Astronaut has a much more down-to-earth explanation.
Salamanca, Spain, is home to two cathedrals. The “Old Cathedral,” simply known as “Catedral Vieja,” which was constructed in about the mid-12th century. As such, it may be one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe.
The other cathedral, known as the “Catedral Nueva” or “New Cathedral,” which is no longer new by today’s standards but was new when it was first called such.

It’s on the New Cathedral’s entrance that the astronaut appears, running laterally, parallel to the entrance. He sits perched on a stalk complete with boots, helmet, and what appears to be a breathing apparatus on his chest with tubes stretching to a pack on the rear of his suit. He is grasping with his right hand what appears to be a vine acting as a harness of sorts running across his waist. His left hand is grasping a nearby leaf for support. His face reflects a rather bewildered expression.
But, how could this be? Astronauts didn’t exist when the cathedral was constructed. It would appear that the carving is actually part of restoration that was done to the cathedral in 1992. At that time, the “Puerta de Ramos” (this is the name of the New Cathedral’s entrance) had seen significant damage over the past few centuries. The addition was purportedly added by stonemason Miguel Romero and possibly overseen by Jerónimo García de Quiñones, according to Ancient Code: Deciphering History Together. Following tradition, restoration on cathedrals often includes something from modern times, in this case, the restorers chose the figure of an astronaut.
But look at this:

View of a lintel at the ancient Egyptian temple to Osiris at Abydos, Egypt.
Tell me if you see a helicopter, motorboat and spaceship. Can you explain it?

Alien looking Egyptian artifact. The lower arrow points to a spaceship shooting deadly rays at a man
See video below for further explanation

Mayan artifacts look like space ships, flying saucers

Found at a dig in Mexico
Think we've been visited before???

Monday, February 20, 2017

Canadian military aircraft are once again over the skies of Syria

PERSIAN GULF — Canadian military aircraft are once again over the skies of Syria, doing necessary reconnaissance, identifying targets in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant months after the Liberals pulled fighter jets from the mission.
It has been one year since Canadian CF-18 fighter jets flew their last mission over Syria after the Liberals withdrew the planes in favor of a mission to train local Syrian forces and help rebuild areas affected by fighting. But responding to what the Canadian military saw as a need for more armed forces back-up, the Trudeau government is sending reinforcements back into the country.
While the revamped mission against ISIL includes a mandate to operate over Syria, military officials have been reluctant to confirm the scope of the new mission.
Canadian surveillance planes have flown hundreds of sorties to identify potential targets for coalition airstrikes, the majority of which have been in Iraq.
On Sunday, a senior Canadian commander revealed that the aircraft have also quietly flown dozens of times over Syria in recent months.
"We have done good  work in Syria," Brig.-Gen. Shane Brennan, commander of Canada's Joint Task Force-Iraq, told reporters during a media tour of the mission, though he added: "There's lots of work to do in Iraq. We are looking at all of the areas."
Brennan spoke at an airfield, the location of which the military didn't want revealed for security reasons, where reporters were given an exclusive tour of one the surveillance planes.
The CP140 Aurora was originally designed during the Cold War to detect Soviet submarines, but the design has since been upgraded to provide enhanced photos and other imagery of ground targets as well.

Canadian military intelligence officers at the base carefully review the images for targets, as well as schools, hospitals, mosques and other structures considered too sensitive to hit. When officers identify a target, they pass the information to coalition forces for additional verification before a strike mission is assigned.
The increased Canadian military activity over Syria, which Brennan described as between 20 and 30 missions in the past couple of months, is one indication that the war against ISIL is shifting into a new phase.

As Brennan heaped praise on the work of Canadian and Iraqi troops, Iraqi forces were launching their long-awaited assault on western Mosul.
The battle, which comes about a month after Iraqi forces declared the eastern part of the city free of ISIL, has been billed as a defining moment in eventually freeing Iraq from the extremist group's grip.
While the fight for the city's western half is expected to be much harder than what came before, Brennan was adamant that victory was a certainty
"There is a battle that is ongoing and will be won," Brennan said. "It's an inevitable event."

Less certain is what role Canadian troops will play when the current mandate, which also includes a military hospital, special forces troops and a helicopter detachment in northern Iraq, expires in March.
Military commanders are drawing up options based on a number of factors, including the expectation that ISIL will become a traditional insurgency in Iraq, which would require more police and counter-terrorism forces.
Canadian Brig.-Gen. David Anderson, who is leading an international team of military advisers in Iraq's defence ministry, said his group recently submitted a two-year plan focused on exactly that.

There are also concerns that the group will try to spread outside Iraq and Syria, which is why Canada is helping to strengthen border security in Jordan and Lebanon.
The military will present three options for the government to choose from in the coming weeks in deciding the future of the mission.

Yet one big wild card is what direction the U.S. military will go after President Donald Trump blasted the slow progress of the fight against ISIL and ordered a 30-day review to consider new options.
U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis is expected to visit Iraq in the next week or so before presenting his recommendations later this month.
Exactly what Mattis will recommend, both in Iraq and Syria, is wide open for speculation.
Brennan said the results could have a big impact on what Canada decides to do given the need to ensure a unified and co-ordinated international effort in the fight against ISIL.
"It does depend what happens," Brennan said. "We are waiting as well. I think the question is: What else needs to be done, or could be done?"

Trump puppets defend his media paranoia - Look out first ammendment

[Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.]

Definition of 'Freedom of the Press' : The right to circulate opinions in print without censorship by the government. Americans enjoy freedom of the press under the First Amendment to the constitution.

While most Trump clones are dancing to his tune and a couple are balancing on the fence, one or two are politely disagreeing with his paranoid attacks on the press.
Don't be surprised if he tries to legislate some kind of state control over the media like his beloved Putin.
Donald Trump's defense secretary has distanced himself from the president's war on media, calling journalists a constituency of the democratic process.
James Mattis' comments came after his commander-in-chief declared the fifth estate the "enemy of the American people" and vowed to "expose them for what they are".
"The press, as far as I'm concerned, are a constituency that we deal with," Mr Mattis said. "And I don't have any issues with the press, myself."

Mr Trump often mocked the "dishonest" media in his presidential campaign.  But since taking office, this denigration has morphed from crowd pleasing rhetoric into a strategy seemingly intended to discredit journalists reporting unflattering revelations of dysfunction and divisions in his White House.
Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff warned yesterday that Trump's comments, which often come in the form of missives fired on Twitter, should be taken "seriously". He described political reporting on Mr Trump's first month -  the most drama-riven of perhaps any presidency - as a "feeding frenzy" of "bogus" stories.
Mr Priebus attacked as "total garbage" the media coverage of allegations that the Trump campaign may have colluded with Moscow's alleged interference in the US election, despite this also being the subject in of a senate intelligence committee investigation.
He said journalists should report that Mr Trump "has accomplished more in the first 30 days in this presidency than people can remember in a long time", ( more what? ) a claim that, when  these first weeks are compared to those of Barack Obama's, his predecessor, does not stand up to scrutiny. ( keep dancing Mr Priebus)
On CBS' 'Face the Nation' Mr Preibus dogged focus on the dishonesty of the press, prompted anchor John Dickerson to say: "So in every answer, you've turned it back to the media. So I guess the question is: Is the strategy now to answer any question by just turning it back on the media and using a fight with the media as a way to try to control the storyline?" ( keep in step Mr Priebus)
The president has taken  to collectively dismissing major US television networks and newspapers as the "fake news media", describing them as "lying", "corrupt" and "failing", the "enemy" and the "opposition".
Donald J. Trump    

FAKE NEWS media, which makes up stories and "sources," is far more effective than the discredited Democrats - but they are fading fast!
Donald J. Trump    

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

These attacks have drawn scathing criticism from US politicians,  a few, even within Republican ranks. Lindsey Graham, a prominent conservative senator from South Carolina said on CBS that a free press and independent judiciary "is worth fighting and dying for".
He said he believed US media had become a little "hysterical" in its reporting of Mr Trump, but that: "The enemies of the democracy at the end of the day are not the press. It's Russia. It's Iran and radical Islam."
His comments came a day after John McCain, the veteran Republican senator from Arizona, echoed the warnings being made by Democrats in congress that Mr Trump's is taking a strong man approach to the Oval office.
"If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press," he said. "And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started."

Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who ran against Mr Trump for the Republican nomination in the election, but who has since been careful not to criticize the president answered a question about whether Mr Trump was damaging America's image abroad by saying "a country's more than one person". But there is only one out there on center stage in the world's spotlight and he is the standard by which America is judged.

Separately, reports emerged that Mr Trump plans to issue an executive order enacting a new version of his controversial immigration and travel ban on Tuesday. A draft seen by the Wall Street Journal, shows that the administration would try to keep the temporary travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries. Green-cards will be exempted.
A state department official suggested that the controversial policy would be dropped, but two White House officials denied the claims. Most people believe Mr Trump will bring it to pass somehow.

Utah Republican argues against equal pay for women: It’s ‘bad for families’ and society

Snow rests on the sign on the Utah state Capitol on the opening day of the 2017 session in Salt Lake City, Jan. 23.

In a letter criticizing a bill that addresses pay gap in the workforce, a Utah Republican said that men have traditionally earned more than women and, citing “simple economics,” argued that things should stay that way.
James Green’s letter to the editor, published in two local publications earlier this week, immediately prompted such outrage that within two days, Green had written an apology and resigned from his post as vice chair of the Wasatch County Republican Party.
Green said in his letter, published Wednesday by the Park Record and the Wasatch Wave, that men make more than women because they’re “the primary breadwinners” of their families, and paying women equally would somehow ruin the makeup of a traditional family where “the Mother” remains at home raising children.
“If businesses are forced to pay women the same as male earnings, that means they will have to reduce the pay for the men they employ, simple economics,” Green wrote. “If that happens, then men will have an even more difficult time earning enough to support their families, which will mean more Mothers will be forced to leave the home (where they may prefer to be) to join the workforce to make up the difference.”
In a letter criticizing a bill that addresses pay gap in the workforce, a Utah Republican said that men have traditionally earned more than women and, citing “simple economics,” argued that things should stay that way.
James Green’s letter to the editor, published in two local publications earlier this week, immediately prompted such outrage that within two days, Green had written an apology and resigned from his post as vice chair of the Wasatch County Republican Party.

Green said in his letter, published Wednesday by the Park Record and the Wasatch Wave, that men make more than women because they’re “the primary breadwinners” of their families, and paying women equally would somehow ruin the makeup of a traditional family where “the Mother” remains at home raising children.
“If businesses are forced to pay women the same as male earnings, that means they will have to reduce the pay for the men they employ, simple economics,” Green wrote. “If that happens, then men will have an even more difficult time earning enough to support their families, which will mean more Mothers will be forced to leave the home (where they may prefer to be) to join the workforce to make up the difference.”
And having more women in the workforce would create competition for jobs, “even men’s jobs,” Green wrote. That will, in turn, lower the pay for all jobs and force “more and more Mothers” into the workforce, he argued.
That’s “bad for families and thus for all of society,” Green wrote. “It’s a vicious cycle that only gets worse the more equality of pay is forced upon us. It’s a situation of well-meaning intentions, but negative unintended consequences.”

Green’s comments were directed at Senate Bill 210, which would make changes to laws related to employee pay in the state. The bill, authored by state Sen. Jacob Anderegg, a fellow Utah Republican, would commission a study on whether there’s a pay gap between male and female workers in the state. It would require certain employers to adopt a uniform criteria that will be used to determine whether someone should get a raise based on performance, and would create a pay index that states the average pay range for each occupation based on years of experience.
SB 210 was introduced on Monday.

Shortly after its publication, Green’s letter was met with a sharp response.
State Rep. Tim Quinn, a Republican who represents Utah’s 54th district, which includes Wasatch County, denounced the comments and distanced himself from Green. Wasatch County, with a population of a little more than 29,000, is located about 100 miles outside of Salt Lake City.
“I am shocked and appalled to learn how James Green feels about equal pay for women. I don’t know where this belief came from,” Quinn said in a statement, according to Fox affiliate KSTU. “I do not subscribe publicly or privately to the words or the spirit behind these words, thoughts or ideas. Of course, the Wasatch County Republican Party and I are for equal pay and rights for all people.”
The Utah Women’s Coalition, which supports SB 210, took to social media with its criticism of Green’s comments.
“Are we really having this conversation in 2017?” asked a Facebook post sharing a local story about Green.

The coalition’s Stephanie Pitcher told Fox affiliate KSTU that the bluntness of Green’s remarks were “very disappointing” and contradicts the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as anti-discrimination provisions in state law.
“He was very straightforward and blunt about his thoughts on women in the workforce and that was really surprising, but the first thing I noticed was a very open recognition that there is a pay disparity between men and women,” Pitcher told KSTU of Green.
Green did not return a call from The Washington Post on Saturday. But he told KSTU that he has been in “hot water” since his letter was published.
“You wouldn’t believe the hateful, vile comments and messages I’ve received," adding that he decided to resign from his position as vice chair of the Wasatch County GOP because he “didn’t want to hurt the party,” which he said was getting blamed for his comments.

Green then wrote a second letter saying his comments are not representative of the Wasatch County GOP or the Republican Party in general and apologizing to those who have been offended.
“I want to clarify that the main focus of my letter was to express that I don’t feel the government should be dictating to private establishments what they must do in regard to employment, hiring, or wages,” Green wrote. “There was no offense intended toward Women, whatsoever. And yet some took it that way. To those who were offended, I profusely apologize. I sincerely did not mean to do that.”
He also said he values women’s contributions in the workforce, and that he was only pointing out the “historical reasons for pay disparity.”
“While I worked my fingers to the bone (with numerous extra side jobs) so my Wife could say in the home and raise our two Sons, who are now both Physician/Surgeons (plus one also has a Law Degree), I realize not everyone is so fortunate,” Green wrote.
A spokeswoman for the Utah GOP said on Friday afternoon that Green had resigned. Efforts to reach the Utah GOP on Saturday were unsuccessful.

Women in Utah make 71 cents for every dollar paid to men for the same occupation, according to the National Women’s Law Center. That’s lower than the national average, which is 80 cents for every dollar paid to men.
Black and Latina women in the state make 56 cents and 47 cents for every dollar paid to white men, respectively, according to the center. Both numbers are below the national averages: 63 cents for black women and 54 cents for Latina women.
Politicians have repeatedly pointed out that women make less than men. But as The Post’s Glenn Kessler pointed out last year, the specific number on the pay difference is an overused “factoid” that has become a major talking point for Democrats but fails to capture some of the nuances in the workforce.
Although few experts dispute the existence of a pay gap, that number does not take into account differences in life choices between men and women — such as women tending to leave the workforce when they have children, Kessler wrote.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Woolly mammoth on the verge of resurrection, scientists say

Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), a model of an extinct Ice Age mammoth. Scientists are aiming to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo.

The woolly mammoth vanished from the Earth 4,000 years ago, but now scientists say they are on the brink of resurrecting the ancient beast in a revised form, through an ambitious feat of genetic engineering.
Speaking ahead of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston this week, the scientist leading the “de-extinction” effort said the Harvard team is just two years away from creating a hybrid embryo, in which mammoth traits would be programmed into an Asian elephant.
“Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo,” said Prof George Church. “Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits. We’re not there yet, but it could happen in a couple of years.”
The creature, sometimes referred to as a “mammophant”, would be partly elephant, but with features such as small ears, subcutaneous fat, long shaggy hair and cold-adapted blood. The mammoth genes for these traits are spliced into the elephant DNA using the powerful gene-editing tool, Crispr.

Until now, the team have stopped at the cell stage, but are now moving towards creating embryos – although, they said that it would be many years before any serious attempt at producing a living creature.
“We’re working on ways to evaluate the impact of all these edits and basically trying to establish embryogenesis in the lab,” said Church.

Since starting the project in 2015 the researchers have increased the number of “edits” where mammoth DNA has been spliced into the elephant genome from 15 to 45.
“We already know about ones to do with small ears, sub-cutaneous fat, hair and blood, but there are others that seem to be positively selected,” he said.
The eminent geneticist also outlined plans to grow the hybrid animal within an artificial womb rather than recruit a female elephant as a surrogate mother.

The woolly mammoth roamed across Europe, Asia, Africa and North America during the last Ice Age and vanished some 4,000 years ago, probably due to a combination of climate change and hunting by humans. Their closest living relative is the Asian, not the African, elephant.

“De-extincting” the mammoth has become a realistic prospect because of revolutionary gene editing techniques that allow the precise selection and insertion of DNA from specimens frozen over millennia in Siberian ice. Church helped develop the most widely used technique, known as Crispr/Cas9, that has transformed genetic engineering since it was first demonstrated in 2012.

Derived from a defence system bacteria use to fend off viruses, it allows the “cut and paste” manipulation of strands of DNA with a precision not seen before.
Gene editing and its ethical implications is one of the key topics under discussion at the Boston conference.

Church, a guest speaker at the meeting, said the mammoth project had two goals: securing an alternative future for the endangered Asian elephant and helping to combat global warming.
Woolly mammoths could help prevent tundra permafrost from melting and releasing huge amounts of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.
“They keep the tundra from thawing by punching through snow and allowing cold air to come in,” said Church. “In the summer they knock down trees and help the grass grow.”

A simulated ecosystem study has indicated that mammoths in Siberia could cause local temperatures to drop by up to 20C.
The scientists intend to engineer elephant skin cells to produce the embryo, or multiple embryos, using cloning techniques. Nuclei from the reprogrammed cells would be placed into elephant egg cells whose own genetic material has been removed. The eggs would then be artificially stimulated to develop into embryos.

Referring to the artificial womb, Church said: “We hope to do the entire procedure ex-vivo (outside a living body). It would be unreasonable to put female reproduction at risk in an endangered species.
“We’re testing the growth of mice ex-vivo. There are experiments in the literature from the 1980s but there hasn’t been much interest for a while.
“Today we’ve got a whole new set of technology and we’re taking a fresh look at it.”

Church predicts that age-reversal will become a reality within 10 years as a result of the new developments in genetic engineering. Just imagine that.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Blame social media, video games for behavior problems in school, educators say

Growing up in the social media age is doing more harm than good, according to a school counsellor on the northeast Avalon. Boyd Perry said having access to a limitless world of information can be beneficial to learning, but many young kids are not equipped to handle the flood of information they are getting through their screens.
"Young people have more access and more information. We automatically think that's a good thing," said Perry.
"They aren't yet ready … to develop a critical way of analyzing the information they are getting."

During CBC's education forum, Inside the Classroom, featuring 30 educators from across the province, several teachers and counsellors raised issues about social media, video games, and their impact on student behaviors.
"A lot of the problems we have in school are because of social media," said Joe Santos, a high school teacher on the northeast Avalon.
"There's very few students now in schools that don't have some kind of device they can communicate with."

Students are speaking behind each other's backs and sometimes making sinister plans in total silence — out of earshot from intervening teachers.
Santos said some of the issues they've encountered range from settling scores with violence, to making drug deals, all arranged quietly through the use of cell phones in school.

Technology raised concerns with other teachers as well, who spoke of students coming to class zonked after long nights of video gaming.
"They're too tired to learn," said Kimberly Fifield, an elementary school teacher on the northeast Avalon.
"They could fall asleep in class, they could become agitated, they're more irritable. They're just unable to focus on what you're trying to teach them in the run of a day."

According to Santos, attendance rates go down after the release of a highly anticipated video game, as his students stay up all night to finish the game. The long hours spent playing video games, sometimes graphic and violent, can have an impact over time, said Angela Wilmott, a school counsellor in central Newfoundland.
"If you're role playing war games for hours every day, it has an impact in how your brain is working and how you're dealing with stress and anxiety," she said.

While there is some scientific debate over the impact of video game addiction, several studies have linked playing for excessive hours with issues like depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorder. Whether gaming is causing the disorders, or is simply an outlet for kids with those disorders, is unproven.

Video games could also be partially responsible for the language kids are using, Wilmott said. Kids play interactive games like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto, where their online teammates and opponents could be adults. Wilmott said she worries about the kids being exposed to vulgar language through those interactions.
"That's becoming much more common," she said. 
"To see that now in primary, elementary… Where are those kids going to be in Grade 11?"

It's a question Perry also ponders, as he sees students at his school being consumed by technology.
"We see that shift [to the social media age] and think they are so much more exposed to things, but they are not ready to handle the sorts of things they are exposed to," he said.
 I think many parents are in agreement that the information and technology over-load our kids are subject to has as many negative as positive influences. It may confuse them and skew children's judgement when they don't have the time necessary to process and absorb information at their own pace.  Most of the video games are too mature or violent and take children too far away from reality while they play. I think they can confuse or mingle the real world with the cyber world. I also feel we are stealing some of their childhood by not letting them just be kids for the brief time they are allotted. By flooding their minds with adult information are we not stealing the wonder and magic of being a child and the wonder of self discovery???

Trudeau makes a trade deal with Europe

Trudeau arrives in Europe to hail trade pact as countermeasure to isolationism

STRASBOURG, France — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Strasbourg, France, hours ahead of what was billed as an historic, confidence-building speech to European lawmakers. Trudeau landed in the eastern French city that borders Germany in the early morning hours Thursday — a day after Canada and the European Union approved a free trade deal.
Politicians in Canada and Europe are hailing Wednesday's approval of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement by the European Parliament as a win for the values of openness in the face of anti-trade movements, including the Donald Trump administration.
The Strasbourg legislature approved trade deal by a margin of 408-254, with 33 abstentions. The vote clears a major hurdle for the deal that saw its first round of bargaining almost eight years ago and has had to overcome mounting anti-trade populism in Europe.
Trudeau hammered home his anti-isolationist and anti-protectionist message in his address Thursday to the European Parliament, a first for a Canadian leader, and to top business leaders a day later in Germany.
"I think it's an illustration that when you put forward a progressive trade deal that recognizes the responsibility of governments to create jobs, create inclusive growth, not just for a few, but for everyone, we can move forward on globalization," Trudeau said.
International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, who was in Strasbourg ahead of the vote, said, "this is the right deal at the right time. Good for workers, consumers and a new standard for trade."
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom took direct aim at anti-globalization forces in remarks to Parliament, in what appeared to be a thinly veiled rebuttal to Trump's protectionist and anti-immigration policies.
"With Canada we share the democratic values of tolerance and openness. We co-operate in tackling common challenges such as migration, sustainable development, climate change and terrorism," Malmstrom said.
CETA, as well as its companion strategic partnership agreement, would strengthen not only Canada-EU economic relations but our "geopolitical alliance ... making that partnership deeper and more powerful, reaffirming our fundamental values, political principles, and using them to shape globalization."
The deal will help each side "serve its citizens" in the 21st century, Malmstrom added.

The Conference Board of Canada called the agreement good for both sides, since economic history demonstrates that greater free movement of goods, services and people is a catalyst for economic growth.
"Amid worries of U.S. protectionism, the opportunities CETA creates provide a shining example that international trade is not a zero-sum game," said Craig Alexander, the board's chief economist.
"Canada is in a unique position to show that trade is good for people and I think we're going to make that case across the world."
Politicians need to do more to sell the merits of free trade to an increasingly skeptical public, but the deal will also sell itself once it is fully ratified, he added.
"When people see in practice what it means for them, I would think that over time people will see the benefits."
Critics of the deal "may be philosophically driven, just being against any trade," Champagne noted.
Wednesday's vote should close the drawn-out approval process across the 28 member states, where some governments and legislatures had tried to modify or scupper the deal. The Netherlands could still block it if it demands an advisory national referendum on the deal.
CETA is designed to unite the markets of Canada with Europe. The vote comes as populist parties in Europe and Trump in the U.S. have been looking increasingly inwards, thwarting a trade deal with Pacific countries and floating the idea of tariffs on imports.
David Martin, a European parliamentarian for Scotland, called CETA a "watershed moment" that has had to overcome many obstacles.
"Together with our Canadian allies we are standing firm against growing global protectionism, championing open trade in a time when others are losing faith," he said in a statement.
At a time we should be globalizing trade, creating a network that would support global economy and stabilize markets, many countries are becoming more isolationist. The problem may be fear of making that leap of faith, suspicion about the integrity of other countries and fear of being at the bad end of a worse trade bargain. It seems to be an era of building walls instead of bridges. The Canada - EU trade deal is a small step toward changing that attitude. But walls of suspicion and distrust are hard to break down. And the US is setting the example.

"Hey, Hostile Aliens who Wish to Destroy Us, Just Follow our Radio Waves "

Infatuation at first sight ...She isn't the first.

 He does have soulful, big blue eyes with a sexy twinkle.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined forces with First Daughter Ivanka Trump to do battle on behalf of women in business. The 2 met at the White House to promote women in business and speak to a round table of female business executives with the purpose of creating a women's work force. Trudeau is a staunch feminist.

The First Daughter listened intently as Trudeau held the floor in the Cabinet Room. She also gave her own input, enthusiastically contributing to the round table discussion.
" I`m honored to be here and really looking forward to hearing from each of you who serve as tremendous role models for me and so many other business leaders across both of our countries and can lend some tremendously valuable perspective as we think about the unique challenges that entrepreneurs, women in the workforce, female small business owners are confronted with each and every day, and as we think how we can level the playing field.

The task force will be known as The United States Canada Council for the Advancement of Women Business Leaders-Female Entrepreneurs. White House aides said it was an interest shared by both the Canadian and US administrations. The cause is close to Ivanka`s heart, serving as the inspiration for her first book Women Who Work. It is also a common theme among advertising campaigns for her clothes and accessories lines. The president said later, at a joint presser that he and Trudeau know that the `full power of women can be better than anyone else'.

Others have fallen for his charm

Nothing sweeter than a good bromance

And don't forget the duchess
She's always had a little crush on Justin
Andrew Chin's photo of (L-R) Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge's arrival at the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. on September 25, 2016 in Vancouver, B.C.
He isn't orange but you can't have everything

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Could this whole Flynn thing been avoided??

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. 

As this story unfolds, Mr Flynn and the rest of the Trump team may want to look back and see whether this whole mess was preventable.
Forget, for now, the puzzler that Mr Flynn, who once served as director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, was seemingly unaware or unconcerned that phone conversations by the Russian ambassador to the US might be under government surveillance. Could he have just come out and admitted that he did, in fact, talk with Mr Kislyak about sanctions as part of a wide-ranging discussion of US policy priorities under soon-to-be-President Trump?

Vice-President Mike Pence (left) had publicly insisted Michael Flynn did not discuss sanctions with the Russians                

Perhaps. There certainly would have been political fallout. Democrats would have cried bloody murder, given their sensitivity to the outcome of the Clinton-Trump campaign. They would have accused Mr Flynn of undermining Mr Obama's efforts to punish Russia for its alleged meddling and, in all likelihood, questioned whether the move constituted a violation of the Logan Act.
In addition, there would have been further calls for a full investigation into Mr Trump's relations with Russia's Vladimir Putin and allegations of pre-election communications between the Republican's senior campaign officials and the Russian government.
What seemingly undid Mr Flynn, however, was that Mr Pence and other Republicans had framed their defense of the general based on his insistence that sanctions definitely were not discussed. Mr Flynn embarrassed the vice-president, who wields enormous influence in the administration.
A united White House may have been able to ride out this storm. As soon as it fractured, Mr Flynn was finished.

Who will be the next national security adviser?

Mr Flynn was one of the Mr Trump's most trusted advisers on national security, since the early days of the presidential campaign, and he will be difficult to replace.
The president has alienated much of the conservative foreign policy establishment and appears unwilling, at least so far, to consider enlisting the aid of experienced hands who actively worked against him during the campaign.
Following Mr Flynn's resignation, the White House announced that Keith Kellogg, who was serving as chief of staff of the National Security Council, would take over as acting national security advisor.

Keith Kellogg is taking over for Michael Flynn on a temporary basis.

Since retiring as a general from the Army in 2003, Mr Kellogg had worked for a variety of defense contractors and advised Mr Trump on foreign policy matters during the presidential campaign.
Although Mr Kellogg will have the advantage of incumbency while the formal search is conducted, another high-profile name has already been floated for the job - former CIA Director David Petraeus.
Once considered a rising star in the Republican Party after his success organizing the 2007 US military troop "surge" in Iraq, he was forced to resign from the CIA in disgrace and charged with sharing top secret documents with a civilian reporter with whom he was having an extra-marital affair. He eventually pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information
That, it seems, has not been a career-killing event, however - even though Mr Petraeus would have to get approval from his parole officer before taking a job in Washington.
Robert Harward, a former deputy commander of US Central Command, is reportedly also under consideration.
Whomever Mr Trump selects for national security adviser will be thrust into a key role in the administration's foreign policy team under less than ideal circumstances. The job requires the ability to co-ordinate multiple intelligence and security agencies with competing interests and priorities. The NSA has to be a diplomat and a facilitator, making sure the president is kept abreast of all relevant national security developments and his policy directives are effectively implemented.
It's not a job for the faint of heart even in the best of times.

How does Sally Yates feel right now?

In late January Ms Yates, an Obama administration holdover who was serving as acting attorney general, advised the Trump administration of problems surrounding Mr Flynn's role as national security adviser.
On 30 January Ms Yates announced that she would not enforce Mr Trump's executive order barring entry to the US for individuals from seven predominantly Muslim nations, warning that she considered the action of questionable legality. She was fired by Mr Trump later that day.
Now the president's immigration order has been indefinitely suspended by multiple courts, which have said it may violate constitutional rights. And Mr Flynn is gone.
We already know the answer to this particular question, actually. Ms Yates probably feels pretty vindicated.

Monday, February 13, 2017

I knew your Dad

US President Donald Trump (L) greets Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau upon arrival outside of the West Wing of the White House on February 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump settled into a White House meeting on Monday by looking across a large mahogany table to Justin Trudeau to say nice things about the prime minister’s father.
The remarks were prompted by a gift Trudeau gave the president that morning: a black and white photo of Trump delivering a speech in honor of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1981.

A photo gift Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented President Donald Trump on Monday.
 A photo gift Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented President Donald Trump on Monday. 
It was presented in a silver frame adorned with maple leaves. The president was touched by the gift. Trump opened a roundtable meeting on women in the workforce by saying how honored he was to be with Trudeau, "whose father I knew and respected greatly."
The photo, taken at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City, shows Trump speaking at podium during a dinner honoring Trudeau Sr. with the Family of Man Gold Medallion award.  At the time, Trump served as chairman of the awards dinner hosted by the international interfaith organization.
“He gave me a picture of myself and his father,” Trump said, referring to Trudeau. “And what a great picture. I will keep that in a respectful place.”

Here’s the original photo:
Donald Trump speaks at the podium during an awards ceremony honouring Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
 Council of Churches of the City of New York -  Donald Trump speaks at the podium during an awards ceremony honoring Pierre Elliott Trudeau. 
The gift signals a sentimental strategy by the prime minister’s office in forging a relationship with the new Trump administration. Trudeau was guest of honor at a White House state dinner last year hosted by Barack Obama last year. He sealed his “bromance” with the former president when he gave Obama a signed copy of the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” script.
The prime minister has been facing increasing pressure at home to stand up to Trump in light of the U.S. leader’s previous comments about women and recent backlash over his controversial travel ban targeting those from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Last week, in lead-up to his Washington trip, Trudeau stressed the commonalities the two leaders share with regards to job creation and security for the middle class. In areas of policy where they disagree, the prime minister said he would be respectful of Trump by treading those areas carefully.