Proudly serving North America and the International Community since 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Volume 5, No. 47
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, AMERICA
Well, hi again from the shores of the Salish Sea. This Thursday, November 22, America celebrates its own annual harvest fest, Thanksgiving. This year, it comes in the wake of perhaps most of the most controversial national elections in the last one hundred years and certainly during a time when a good portion of those who live on that country’s AtlanticCoast are recovering from two epic catastrophic meteorological events. It could well be asked, then, what do Americans have to be thankful for this year.
I am thankful that I live in a nation which can determine the course of an ineffectual national administration by exercising the ballot rather than the bullet. As justifiably disgusted and frustrated as Americans are with the inability of both the Congress and the Executive Branch to enact national health care, facilitate economic recovery and determine the status of immigrants to the great melting pot who arrived here under less than sanctioned circumstances, it is surprising to me that citizens of the United States have not engaged in violent revolution. Historically, constituencies of other nations have done so and with far less justification or provocation.
I am grateful that I am a member of a world community which is realizing that the Industrial Revolution and the standard of material comfort it made possible for a fraction of the global population has, in fact, poisoned the planet and is taking dramatic, albeit hesitant and sometimes reluctant, measures to prevent its own extinction.
I am thankful that I am a member of a species which, for all its ambivalent ethical, moral and humanistic nature, is capable of as much compassion as it is holocaustic bestiality and that it seems to be moving in the former direction and away from the later. The Age of Reason has survived. Each day sees scientific breakthroughs which are not only prolonging human life but improving the quality of it. The arts are flourishing. Nature is returning to places it was eradicated in the name of skyscrapers which could never come close to the majesty of the mountains they sometimes mimic.
Perhaps most of all, I am grateful that Benjamin Franklin’s desire to make the turkey, rather then the eagle, America’s national emblem was not one of that great Philadelphian’s realized dreams for I would rather be inspired by the latter than the former and feast once a year on the former, rather than the latter.
Happy Thanksgiving, America.
IN OTHER NEWS
Sometimes, it is not the message that is most important, but the timing of it. We are aware that thousands of those victimized by Hurricane Sandy are still struggling to recover. It is, therefore, with some reluctance that we offer this advice about rebuilding, in the hopes that the inappropriate construction priorities which contributed to the massive devastation are not repeated.
In what appears to be a haunting echo of the sex abuse scandals which have rocked the Catholic Church in Ireland, the United States and other nations, Australia’s prime minister has ordered a federal investigation into allegations of sex abuse in state and religious institutions and community groups.
In what environmental experts are calling the largest punitive settlement in US history, British Petroleum agreed to pay $4.5 billion in an out of court settlement for its liability in the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. Three former employees are also under federal prosecution; two for felony manslaughter in the death of 11 employees on the rig itself and one for obstruction of justice. For more on this one, please go here.
CLIMATE CHANGE/HURRICANE SANDY SHORTS
I first fell in love with streetcars in San Francisco, when they looked like the ones on those old Rice A Roni – A San Francisco Treat commercials. Well, Toronto’s just acquired some new ones and these look more like the fastest trains in the world. Yep, check them out here. (Editor’s Note: Our thanks to RetroCalgary for the Rice A Roni link)
Congratulations, Vancouver, for making Outside Online’s list of Best Bicycle Cities in North America. Seattle, your sister city in the States, also made it. For more and the whole list, please go here.
We knew Canada Post could, on occasion, take a bit more time than usual to deliver a letter. But 70 years?
New housing for America’s veterans is not only cheaper but “greener”. Check out five new projects currently underway.
In an attempt to bring a total end to gender discrimination, Sweden is trying something really innovative. They’re eliminating the appropriate pronouns from the language.
Even if you’re financially challenged, in America’s WashingtonState, you can still visit the state parks, if you’re willing to work one day to pay for your admission. Yep, for more on this one, please go here.
The United States armed forces just doesn’t seem to be able to stay out of the scandal sheets these days. In the way of the resignation of General David Petraeus for disgracing his uniform and his country by cheating on his wife with his biographer, another top general apparently can’t keep his libido out of his emails.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the US Air Force training center in Texas is under investigation for allegedly widespread sexual exploitation of young women and men seeking to serve their country in this branch of the service. If your stomach can handle it, for more, yep, go here.
In what is probably the most brutal American war crime since the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, the US Army is seeking the death penalty for a soldier accused of slaughtering 16 civilians in Afghanistan.
FROM YOU GUYS
In honor of all the men and woman who have fought and continue to fight to protect our freedom, I salute you for an article well written. My father was a man who believed in those very same principles, and yet never found cause to speak much about it; only to say it was an honor to serve his country. I agree with you that peace must be celebrated and our youth needs to understand that war is not the norm. Violence saturates our media with video games glorifying the concept of war as being entertaining. Education should begin to focus more on peace and understanding and in time our nations may learn to heal and grow. Great article!
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, NATURE AND EXPLORATION
It looks like scientists have now perfected an invisibility cloak. Yep, for more on this one, please go here.
As the incandescent light bulb continues its slide into antiquity, some new and innovative replacements are hitting the market.
It is beginning to look like China and the US might be in a robot space race. Yep, for more, please go here.
Editor’s Note: Mars Rover Curiosity has been busier than the Energizer Battery bunny so to keep up with the little dude, we’ve creating this special shorts section. Go, Curiosity.
“‘Tis the season to be jolly,” as the lyrics of a popular Christmas song go. It’s also, as we all know, one of the most stressful times of the year. Check out these diet tips for headache relief, eh?
In our ongoing campaign to keep you guys on the Hit Parade until we’re rich and famous, check out yet another set of reasons, including cancer prevention, to exercise.
Are you left or right brain dominant? Take this test to find out.
Even as education costs in America continue to increase, quality knowledge acquisition is still within reach of most, thanks to such innovative online programs as this one being offered by a 10-college consortium which includes such respected institutions as Duke University and the University of North Carolina.
In another major leap for women as top executives of international corporations, Julie Larson-Green has been chosen to replace retiring Steve Sinofsky as president of Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Live operation. For more on this, yep, go here.
If you think Americans work hard without taking enough vacation time, you might just want to check this out.
ON THE CANCER FRONTRESOURCES AND RELATED LINKS: Cancer: What You Need to Know American Cancer Society Canadian Cancer Society
Climate change activist Bill McKibben has done the math and if we keep polluting the planet at the rate we’re doing it now, we won’t be here by 2028. For a full discussion and to learn what each of us can do to forestall this self-inflicted Armageddon, please go here.
BEST OF THIS WEEK’S NET MEDIA
All photos used in Seattle Scenes, unless otherwise noted, were taken by the editor. For a visual tour of the Northstar Gallery, please go here.
After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Seattle replaced its open air reservoirs with four underground. Four years ago, it was discovered they were leaking. City officials say they’ve taken care of that problem and the reservoirs are working find. But because Seattle is prone to a certain natural disaster it has in common with San Francisco, they’re being examined to see if they can withstand earthquakes. Yep, for more, check it out here.
Seattle has sometimes been referred to as a collection of neighborhoods in search of a city. Therein, however, many of us feel, is both its charm and the key to its sustainability. Crosscut’s Knute Berger takes a closer look at both ideas and what we who live here can do to fine-tune our own growth.
OUR FAVORITE SEATTLE LINKS
Komo 4 News (ABC)
King 5 News (NBC)
ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL
Here’s another, “if cute will kill ya, don’t go here,” video featuring a baboon in an Israeli zoo who adopts a kitten. Yep, please go here and don’t say we didn’t warn you.
The planet’s fauna ~ and particularly birds ~ have a much better ability to survive natural disasters than their allegedly more evolved human counterparts. Why is this? New York Times science writer Nancy Angier offers some insights.
What is it that grows to about 4.5 inches/11.43 centimeters, has 325 pair of legs, an incredibly complex anatomy and lives in a very small area in America’s Northern California? Hint: If you were camping out, you would not want to wake up and find it in your sleeping bag with you.
SHORTSLiving With Wildlife BBC’s wildlife finder National Geographic Daily News – Animals
YOU GUYS THINK I MAKE THIS STUFF UP
The Northstar Journal is one hundred percent supported by readers like you. If you enjoyed this edition and would like to contribute ~ however modestly ~ to the next, please go here and with our thanks. Rusty
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