Slippery Slope Saturday


A Democratic senator is calling for an investigation into whether Donald Trump Jr. lied when he told the Senate Judiciary Committee that aside from Russia, he knew of no other foreign government or foreign nationals who offered to assist the Trump campaign in 2016. In a letter sent Thursday to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)—the committee chairman—Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) called for an open hearing in which Trump Jr. could be asked to explain his past statements.

Last weekend, the New York Times reported that in August 2016, Trump Jr. and Trump aide Stephen Miller met in Trump Tower with an Israeli social media expert named Joel Zamel; Erik Prince, a prominent Republican security contractor; and George Nader, an emissary for two princes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Times reported that the meeting was “convened primarily to offer help to the Trump team” and that it helped forge “relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months—past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office, according to several people with knowledge of their encounters.” It’s illegal for foreigners to assist US electoral campaigns.


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FRiDaY FunNIes


The Diplomat


 Freedom Sticks – Mark Fiore

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Liar Party Thursday


Jacksonville FL Deluded Masses

I’ve been to TEA Party events and many other Right Wing events. While these events always left me baffled, there was some modicum of reality to those past events. Trump has bred a new kind of politicians and followers. And what I saw was dangerous – an alternate reality. There is one silver lining, however.

The Candidate Forum between two Republican Primary candidates proves an important point; the Right Wing lives in an alternate state of reality. The candidates adopted the biggest Trump flaw: lying. Because they have the trust of the community and a corresponding media and Right Wing think-tank support, they can mislead a large section of society.

I want to be clear. These people are not evil people. A well-designed system convinced some who were predisposed to the programming.


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Yacht Hotel Wednesday


The Iraqi dictator never boarded the 82-meter (270-foot) “Basrah Breeze” built for him in 1981 – and its amenities will now be enjoyed by the pilots who guide shipping in and out of the port of Basra, the main southern city.

In common with other treasures left by Saddam, toppled in 2003 during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and hanged three years later for crimes against humanity, the governments that succeeded him have been struggling to find a use for the ship.

Since Iraq got it back in 2010 following a court battle and a three-decade odyssey abroad, it has been mostly moored in Basra.


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Tidbit Tuesday


Humans account for little next to plants, worms, and bugs.

Humankind is revealed as simultaneously insignificant and utterly dominant in the grand scheme of life on Earth by a groundbreaking new assessment of all life on the planet.

The world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, according to the study. Yet since the dawn of civilisation, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants, while livestock kept by humans abounds.

The new work is the first comprehensive estimate of the weight of every class of living creature and overturns some long-held assumptions. Bacteria are indeed a major life form – 13% of everything – but plants overshadow everything, representing 82% of all living matter. All other creatures, from insects to fungi, to fish and animals, make up just 5% of the world’s biomass.


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Role Reversal Monday


Israel has once again conducted a premeditated, full-scale massacre in broad daylight, in front of the cameras of the world. Once again, it took place in Gaza.

On May 14, Israeli snipers and other forces gunned down more than 60 Palestinians, and wounded thousands of others, including civilians, journalists, and paramedics. “You try nonlethal means and they don’t work,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “So you’re left with bad choices. It’s a bad deal. You know, you try and you go for below the knee, and sometimes it doesn’t work, and unfortunately these things are avoidable.”

It appears that the only way not to be killed, according to Netanyahu, is to meekly accept imprisonment inside the prison of Gaza. Among those killed by Israeli forces was an 8-month-old infant. Her name was Laila al-Ghandour. They also killed at least seven other children and a man in a wheelchair, and that man had lost his legs after they had to be amputated following an earlier Israeli attack.

Israel has made it clear that it believes that it has the right to systematically murder Palestinians for the crime of continuing to exist. There is no defense for what Israel has done. None. On Tuesday, I spoke to Yousef Mema, a young Palestinian nursing student in Gaza. Yousef is not a member of Hamas. He’s a Palestinian civilian studying to become a nurse. I spoke to him soon after he left the Shifa hospital in Gaza. That is where many of the dead and wounded from Monday’s mass killings were brought.


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Spritely Sunday

TEXAS-SIZED SPRITES: Technically, summer hasn’t started yet in the USA, but summer thunderstorms are already rumbling across the Great Plains, bringing with them strange forms of upper atmospheric lightning. “Sprite season is definitely picking up here in Texas,” reports Kevin Palivec, who operates an array of night-sky cameras in the town of Hawley. This week he has photographed a flurry of lightning-like forms including this Gigantic Jet shooting up from a thunderstorm in Oklahoma:

Click to view the full-length video

“The line of storms in Oklahoma was perfectly positioned for me to record these jets leaping over the cloudtops about 300 miles away,” says Palivec. “I used a Watec 902h Ultimate black and white camera in a pan tilt weatherproof housing on a 20 foot tower.”

Gigantic jets are like sprites on steroids. They are rare and far more powerful than their smaller red cousins. “I’ve been monitoring the skies here in Texas for 6 years. To date, I’ve only caught 5 gigantic jets–two of which have been studied in research papers. It is always exciting to see them.”

One night later, on May 15th, “another line of storms moved through producing sprites to my north and south!” says Palivec.

Some researchers think that sprites and gigantic jets may be linked to cosmic rays: Subatomic particles from deep space strike the top of Earth’s atmosphere, producing secondary electrons that trigger the upward bolts. If this is true, then sprites could multiply in the years ahead as cosmic rays intensify due to the decline of the solar cycle.

Although sprites have been seen for at least a century, most scientists did not believe they existed until after 1989 when sprites were photographed by cameras onboard the space shuttle. Now “sprite chasers” like Palivec routinely photograph sprites from their own homes. Give it a try!


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