Sunday, January 31, 2016

The NY Times gets it right once again in endorsing Hillary Clinton

Well, Katalusis friends, considering Hillary Clinton's widespread sexist treatment by the media during the 2008 Democratic primary, it's a pleasure to read that once again, the NY Times has chosen to endorse her.  The Times editorial begins with this blurb:

Voters have the chance
to choose one of the most
broadly and deeply
qualified presidential
candidates in modern history.

For the past painful year, the Republican presidential contenders have been bombarding Americans with empty propaganda slogans and competing, bizarrely, to present themselves as the least experienced person for the most important elected job in the world. Democratic primary voters, on the other hand, after a substantive debate over real issues, have the chance to nominate one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.

Hillary Clinton would be the first woman nominated by a major party. She served as a senator from a major state (New York) and as secretary of state — not to mention her experience on the national stage as first lady with her brilliant and flawed husband, President Bill Clinton. The Times editorial board has endorsed her three times for federal office — twice for Senate and once in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary — and is doing so again with confidence and enthusiasm.

Mrs. Clinton’s main opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described Democratic Socialist, has proved to be more formidable than most people, including Mrs. Clinton, anticipated. He has brought income inequality and the lingering pain of the middle class to center stage and pushed Mrs. Clinton a bit more to the left than she might have gone on economic issues. Mr. Sanders has also surfaced important foreign policy questions, including the need for greater restraint in the use of military force.

In the end, though, Mr. Sanders does not have the breadth of experience or policy ideas that Mrs. Clinton offers. His boldest proposals — to break up the banks and to start all over on health care reform with a Medicare-for-all system — have earned him support among alienated middle-class voters and young people. But his plans for achieving them aren’t realistic, while Mrs. Clinton has very good, and achievable, proposals in both areas.

Read More:

Friday, January 29, 2016

Whoa! Wildlife killing contests in Minnesota?

Hi Katalusis friends, I'm a Minnesotan who supports wildlife, and this petition from Change.Org that just hit my inbox blows my mind. Please read and sign Scott's petition.

Petitioning Tom Landwehr, Bob Meier, Mark Dayton

Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests in Minnesota

Petition by Scott Slocum
White Bear Lake, Minnesota

If killing defenseless animals for prizes sounds like fun to you, be sure not to miss Minnesota’s upcoming “Save the Birds” Coyote Hunting Tournament. Cash prizes are awarded for the most coyotes killed, and the largest and smallest killed as well. There aren't many rules, and there's no limit.
Wildlife-killing contests are currently allowed as a form of "charitable gambling" in Minnesota. Many have looked the other way, not wanting to interfere with the seemingly-popular fishing contests and "big buck" deer hunting contests, but it's harder to look away as the bloody carcasses of coyotes accumulate. Coyotes in Minnesota are classified as “unprotected wild animals,” so they're hunted and trapped year-round, with few regulations, no limits, and often no sense. Although the targeted removal of coyotes can be necessary when they cause problems on farms, these coyote-killing competitions aren't any part of that.
These tournaments are disastrous to wildlife, and glorify killing for the sake of killing. Please join me in calling on the Minnesota DNR to ban this bloodsport and prohibit wildlife-killing contests statewide.
Organizers of these events often claim that they are helping to control predator populations, but studies have shown the opposite effect: increased predator reproduction followed by increased attacks on livestock.
Many of these tournaments encourage “junior” participants, saying that it's an opportunity to teach the ethics of sportsmanship to young hunters. But there’s nothing ethical about it. The piles of carcasses at the “finish lines” of these events show that this is not hunting, but thrill-killing on a staggering scale.
These contests are ineffective at best, savage at worst. In areas where predator control is needed, professionally developed “best management practices” are more effective, and more humane.
Other states are heeding the call to ban these contests--last year, California outlawed events that award prizes for killing wildlife. In addition, they've been banned on federal land in Idaho, legal action has halted gambling on them in Oregon, and legislation has been introduced to outlaw them in New Mexico, Nevada, and New York.
Let’s call on the Minnesota DNR to join the movement toward ethical wildlife management, and ban wildlife-killing contests statewide.
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Palin and Trump resentment voters

During a phone call last night, an old friend and I puzzled over the scary phenomenon of the growing number of Trump supporters who buy into their idol’s bigotry toward anyone different from them, e.g., Syrian refugees, immigrants from Mexico, etc. My friend and I wondered about the source of their vehement hatred of “the other.” Today, I came across a possible answer in an item in Politico by Nick Gass.

"With his call to deport illegal immigrants, especially because Mexico sends us its 'bad ones,' his proposal to bar Muslims from entering the country, his emphasis on the threats to lawful gun ownership and his promise to protect American goods and workers from China, Mr. Trump is riding the wave of anxiety that Ms. Palin first gave voice to as Senator John McCain’s running mate," Wallace wrote. "Mr. Trump has now usurped and vastly expanded upon Ms. Palin’s constituency, but the connection between the two movements is undeniable."

“Palin, Wallace continued, ‘owned the resentment voters’ in her party, a torch that has seemingly been passed to Trump.

And that’s the answer my friend and I were puzzling over – Palin and Trump supporters are the “resentment voters.” It figures, doesn’t it? But the next question is how to connect with those who feel disenfranchised and lead them toward more positive solutions to their life challenges.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Add caption
Help Save the American Bison
Bison have been culled from Yellowstone National Park for 16 years. Don't let it happen again this year—help put healthy bison back on their historic North American lands instead.

Elephant tusks
Hong Kong Steps Up for Elephants
In a landmark move for elephants, the government of Hong Kong is actively exploring phasing out domestic ivory trade.

2 boys in boat
Changing Climate in Mozambique
On a small and sparse sandbar off the coast of northern Mozambique, fishers have noticed that the seas—and the weather—are different than they were several decades ago.

Yangtze finless porpoise
Preventing Extinction for the Finless Porpoise
The finless porpoise is one of China's most iconic mammals, renowned for its mischievous smile and intelligence. But there are only around 1,000 left in the wild.


Close-up photo
In each issue of WWF E-NEWS, our "Caught on Camera" feature shows a closeup view of a fascinating animal. Can you tell what this is?


Video of rafting in Greenland
Exploring East Greenland
Watch this stunning footage, which captures imposing icebergs, mountains, and more from our new Greenland trip to Natural Habitat Adventures' remote base camp.


Black-tailed prairie dog
Black-tailed Prairie Dog
Members of the squirrel family, prairie dogs live in large underground communities called towns. Many other animals, including burrowing owls, toads, and even rattlesnakes, take shelter in prairie dog burrows. Check out these 8 surprising facts about this species.

Letter A icon
Cynomys ludovicianus
Prairie dogs are about 14 to 17 inches long and weigh 1 to 3 pounds
Info icon
Interesting info
The prairie dog's vocabulary is quite advanced. Prairie dogs can alert one another, for example, that there's not just a human approaching their burrows, but a tall human wearing the color blue.

Your donation will support WWF's worldwide conservation efforts.


Gannets flying around Bass Rock
Which of the following statements is true about the northern gannet, a large seabird?

Photos: Bison © Thomas Szajner; Elephant tusks © WWF/Folke Wulf; Two boys in boat © WWF-US/James Morgan; Yangtze finless porpoise © Xiaodong Sun/WWF-UK; Caught on Camera close-up © IPEV/CNRS/NIPR; Rafters in Greenland © JJ Huckin; Black-tailed prairie dogs © WWF-US/Steve Morello; Gannets near Bass Rock © Zolt├ín Gergely Nagy
© 2016  World Wildlife Fund  |  1250 24th Street NW  |  Washington, DC 20037-11930

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"Republican operatives have a strange crush on Bernie Sanders"

Bernie Sanders, AP photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Photo courtesy of The Blaze.

So do Republicans have a better fix than the Democrats on which candidate would be harder for them to defeat in the 2016 general election? It's possible. Maybe that's why the Republicans are giving "unsolicited" support to Bernie Sanders to help him defeat Hillary in the Democratic primary. Take a look at this piece by  Steve Benen at Rachel Maddow's blog:

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was asked last week which Democratic presidential candidate he’d prefer to face in a general election. The RNC chief said Bernie Sanders is probably the tougher candidate.
It’s obviously difficult to take Priebus’ assessment at face value – even if he has a firm opinion, the Republican has no incentive to tell the truth – and his comments are all the more curious given what his party has been up to lately.
During Sunday’s Democratic debate, for example, reporters received emails from the candidates’ campaigns and their allies, but in a remarkable twist, the Republican National Committee also issued statements – two during the event, two after – defending Sanders against criticisms from Hillary Clinton and endorsing Sanders’ arguments.
Bloomberg Politics’ Sahil Kapur reported that Republican operatives have “a strange crush on Bernie Sanders,” and it goes beyond the RNC’s pro-Sanders rapid-response during Sunday night’s debates.

Monday, January 11, 2016

What to do about Islamophobia

Hi Katalusis friends,

I've sat through far too many arguments between secularists and those who follow the teachings of a particular religion, and the accusations of one group toward the other sometimes get ugly. For example, a secularist might label his or her adversaries as irrational or worse.  In response, a religious fundamentalist might warn the secularist that it can get mighty hot where he or she is headed. At this point in my life, I mostly get bored with that kind of talk.

I'm better off, I've concluded, to spend my time reading material such as the Charter for Compassion's newsletter, which hit my inbox today with a comprehensive guide to Islamophobia. The pdf version of the guide is 90 pages long, so I've only had time thus far to scan pages of immediate interest. Thanks to Karen Armstrong's input, those pages include intelligent, well-informed discussions of the differences between secularism and religion.

The initial email message is from Marilyn Turkovich, Director of the Charter for Compassion International:

Dear Friends,
A Happy New Year!  It just doesn't seem proper without stating those words and realizing beneath the surface that the majority of us are hoping for a year that will be filled with peace.  In a 1992 lecture, writer Susan Sontag asserted that “a writer is someone who pays attention to the world…[someone who is] a professional observer.” Let us assume that we are all writers and it is our task not only to observe the world but work, even in the smallest ways, on behalf of humanity in 2016. In today’s newsletter there is information about wishing for a new approach to the year, observances on what is happening within our communities regarding the rise of Islamophobia, and suggestions for taking our observances and acting with hope and determination to put our positive marks on each new day.  As always, we’d like to hear what you are doing and what our compassionate cities and communities are working on.  Let us know how you are paying attention to the world.
With much gratitude to each of you for your work.

And here's a specific word or two from the Charter for Compassion on Islamophobia that offers a link to the online version of the Guide:

Islamophobia Guide
At the end of 2015 the Charter set out to assemble a Guide Book on Islamophobia. The Guide Book will be updated again by mid-January and added to monthly. In this document you'll find a variety of resources—some are opportunities to reflect, others are more prescriptive. We recommend you browse the full document so you get a sense of what's available—contextual framing from Karen Armstrong, guidance for Muslims by Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, an overview of Islamophobia from Barbara Kaufmann, and links to resources by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and others—many geared toward educators. Finally, you'll find a reflective article by Cambridge Muslim College dean, Abdal Hakim Murad and a list of resources for your further study.  You can access the Guide on the Charter’s website and a PDF link is available at the end of the Introduction section of the Guide

We will be announcing our efforts to create similar guidebooks in the next few months.  Please let us know where you think we should be putting our efforts and if you are willing to help prepare additional documents.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The courage to brave 6.6 degree temps on a gray January day

The gazebo in our side yard. V. Bergman.
What else can you write about besides the weather on a gray January day in Minnesota? In yesterday's post, I assured my fellow Minnesotans that spring would come once again, right? So I checked the weather this morning at Weather Underground and noting the 6.6 degree temp in St. Paul, I no longer felt so sure that even here in Minnesota April showers bring May flowers:

My plans for today included an outing at my favorite library that features an indoor park and a nice coffee shop. A nearby fireplace takes the chill off after the walk from the parking lot and the skylight affords a lovely sense of spaciousness to the visitor sipping coffee and paging through an inviting novel.

Now if only I can brave the 6.6 degree temp. Well, I do have that long winter coat...

Friday, January 8, 2016

Have faith, Minnesotans: spring will come once again!

Spring in St. Paul, MN (V. Bergman).
Winter in St. Paul, MN (V. Bergman).
A couple of days ago I posted An Ode to Winter here at Katalusis. Later on, as I browsed through my online photo files, I was reminded that even in Minnesota spring eventually shows up: leaves appear on trees, and grass turns green.

Summer may seem just a moment in time up here in the northland, but gardens do mature and in the fall, ears of corn ripen in the fields of local farmers. 

We celebrate Labor Day just before that orange school bus appears around the corner to pick up students reluctantly concluding their all too brief hiatus from the classroom.

But for now, we eagerly anticipate the groundhog's promise on February 2nd that if the critter sees its shadow, spring is just around the corner. Even the most cynical among us, tend to ignore the groundhog's disclaimer: "Hey, I'm a furry rodent not a weather forecaster."
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

An ode to winter

Christmas lights are put away, and the sounds of New Year's revelry have faded as Minnesotans gaze out windows at white lawns and trees bent from the weight of snow.  Once again I recognize that the bleakest months of the season are yet ahead of us: the rest of January, and all of February, and March. Only with reluctance does winter relinquish its grip to springtime breezes sometime in April, and I've seen it snow in Minnesota even then or later.

Fresh flowers seized upon during grocery shopping at the local supermarket brighten my home and long walks down climate-controlled, carpeted hallways in my apartment building keep me somewhat fit. Visiting with neighbors I encounter during my walks counts as social interaction as do phone calls to much loved friends hundreds of miles away. Having family and friends over for dinner on occasion provides much needed energy boosts. Repartee with Facebook friends also gives me a lift.

And at the moment, I'm preparing my submission to the VA creative writing contest - I'm entering a short, short story. It's about the folly of a senior citizen climbing a stepladder to replace a chirping battery in a smoke detector. Chirping smoke detector batteries can drive you nuts. In the meantime, I'll enjoy anticipating the results from my entry.

In the midst of all my whining about Minnesota winters, I remind myself that my apartment is warm and cozy, and I have a safe car to drive to obtain food and other necessities. When conditions are too bad, I can order groceries online to be delivered within a few hours.

Plus, there's nothing quite like getting into comfy nightclothes on a cold winter evening and curling up in a favorite chair with a good book while sipping a cup of chamomile tea.