Proudly serving North America and the International Community since 2007

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Vol. 6, No. 52

Northstar Media Services

Rusty Miller – Editor

Seattle, Washington



Hi again from the shores of the Salish Sea.  Well, this Wednesday, a third of the people on the planet celebrate the birth of one of the most mystical and widely published human beings in history.  What do we really know about him, though, and what can be reasonably inferred?

By all accounts, he was a gentle individual but not a weak one.  Large and strong for his size, we know that he was a good carpenter and very likely, an outstanding student, particularly of the Torah.  Jesus was born a Jew and would have received a good education in this regard.

We know that he had tremendous charisma and a voice that carried well in the natural amphitheatres in which he spoke.  From what we know of his sermons, he was an astute observer of the human condition.  He sought less the triumph of good over evil as the demystification of it.  He made people realize that sin is a personal choice, not the work of the Dark One or the Divine One having a bad hair day.

In humanizing the Divine and in making Heaven a place to which all could reasonably aspire, he coincidentally robbed not only his own religion but others as well of the power they held over their believers.

People who do that ~ regardless of their motives ~ usually do not die of old age.  I’ve never understood this pantheon of martyrs.  When I look at the way some of these people died, I’m going, like, “Well, if it takes being a lion’s lunch to be a Christian, I think maybe I’m better off worshipping the lion.”

We know, as well, that while he lived, he was the subject of a lot of gossip that has since petrified into religious lore.  So we can tell by the amount of press that he got that he was considered a celebrity ~ if not a legend ~ in his own time.  Again, not a plus factor on the longevity scale.

Was he the son of the Divine?  According to the Scriptures, are all human beings not “children of God?”  And is not the Divine one portrayed as male and called “Father?” 

Was this carpenter with the good voice any greater a child of God than your own children?  And wasn’t that ~ after all ~ the point of it all? 

Happy Birthday, Brother Jesus.


This is good news.  NPR Gets $17 Million in Grants to Expand Coverage and Develop Digital Platform

This is what can happen when neighbours get organized.  Water & oil: How natives & neighbors of the Sacred Headwaters battled drillers and won

This needs a much closer look.  Not just bad for bees: Neonic pesticides could damage babies’ brains


AFGHANISTAN 6 U.S. Soldiers Killed in Copter Crash in Afghanistan

A Local Peace Accord Is Reached in Afghanistan. Then the Arguing Starts.

BANGLADESH After Bangladesh Factory Collapse, Bleak Struggle for Survivors
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC Illuminating a Central African Crisis, Photo by Photo
CHILE Chile’s Bachelet Returns To Office In Landslide Victory
CHINA China Focusing Graft Inquiry on Ex-Official

China’s Art Market Powerhouse Complicates Reform Efforts

Running Boom Hits China

The New Face of Chinese Propaganda

EUROPEAN UNION European Union Suspends Trade Talks With Ukraine

European Agency Warns of Risk to Humans in Pesticides Tied to Bee Deaths

Europe Tries Again to Address Weak Banks

FRANCE Revelations That Ikea Spied on Its Employees Stir Outrage in France
GERMANY As Merkel Embarks on Third Term, Critics Urge Her to Be Daring

Freed Abruptly by Putin, Khodorkovsky Arrives in Germany

IRAQ A Top Iraqi Official’s Advice to Karzai? Take America’s Deal
IRELAND Irish Try to Eradicate Ghosts of a Housing Crash
LIBYA Libya Militias Fleeing Cities, Leaving Chaos
NORTH KOREA North Korean Leader’s Aunt Appears Unscathed
RUSSIA Putin Says He Will Pardon Khodorkovsky, Jailed Oil Tycoon

Russia Offers Ukraine a Financial Lifeline

Greenpeace 30, Pussy Riot get Russian amnesty

Putin, Secure in Power, Says He May Free Jailed Rival

With Punishments or Pardons, Putin Shows He Is in Control

SOUTH SUDAN South Sudan Steps Closer to Unraveling

Attack on U.S. Aircraft Foils Evacuation in South Sudan

Political Strife in South Sudan Sets Off Ethnic Violence

SWEDEN Video: Europe’s Start-Up Superstar
THAILAND In Thailand, Rallying Cry Is Against Too Much Democracy
TUNISIA Tunisia’s Reawakening
TURKEY Graft Inquiry Intensifies Turkish Political Rivalry

Turkish Premier Blames Foreign Envoys for Turmoil

UGANDA Ugandan Lawmakers Pass Measure Imposing Harsh Penalties on Gays
UNITED KINGDOM Britain to Join Ranks of Nations Using Plastic Currency
UNITED NATIONS U.N. Seeks Record Sum for Humanitarian Aid in 2014
UNITED STATES Fed to Start Unwinding Its Stimulus Next Month

Uninsured Skeptical of Health Care Law in Poll

Some Colorado Sheriffs Refuse to Enforce Laws on Gun Control

Senate Asks C.I.A. to Share Its Report on Interrogations

Ex-Microsoft Executive to Take Over Health Site Repairs

Obama Commutes Sentences for 8 in Crack Cocaine Cases

Federal Judge Rules That Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal in Utah

Philly, Atlantic City set records at 67 degrees; 70 expected Sunday


1959 message in a bottle a clue to glacier melt

This Guy Turned a 2,000-Page Report on Climate Change into 19 Stunning Haikus


Obama Panel Recommends New Limits on N.S.A. Spying

Federal Judge Rules Against N.S.A. Phone Data Program

Snowden Offers to Help Brazil With N.S.A. Inquiry

Score One for the Legal Thorn in Government’s Side


Syria Activists Say Dozens Killed in Aleppo Air Assault

Slide Show: For Syrian Refugees, Obstacles to School Are Many

For Peace in Syria, Will Assad Have to Stay?


Ukrainians Gear Up for Holidays as Protests Continue

Video: A Rally for the Ukrainian Government

Russia Offers Ukraine a Financial Lifeline


Young Tunisians Are Being Recruited to Jihad

State Dept. Warns of New Terrorist Group Posing Threat to U.S. Interests in Africa

Yemen Deaths Test Claims of New Drone Policy

N.S.A. Spied on Allies, Aid Groups and Businesses


Am I the only one who thinks this is more than a little lame?  Canada Post CEO defends delivery cuts, says seniors will get more exercise

I once said that the day Rob Ford apologised for anything, my bacon would be flying into the kitchen on its own.  Looks like I better build a landing pad.  Reporter drops lawsuit after Rob Ford apologizes, retracts comments

Only in Canada and in American movies directed by Frank Capra does something like this happen.  Scruffy Vancouver panhandler’s random acts of kindness

She’s Canadian.  He’s American.  Here’s what we look like from a puma’s perspective.

She’s Canadian. He’s American. Here’s what we look like from a puma’s perspective.

Felina:     Samuel, I do so hate to awaken you but it would seem the arrival of our visitor is imminent.

Sam:        (yawn) Not a problem, Sweetheart.  I was only sleeping.

Felina:     Something you do so admirably, mate of my three lives.

Sam:        It’s a gift.

Felina:     Quite so.  “The weather outside is frightful…”

Sam:        “But in our own little cave, it’s so delightful…”

Felina:     “And since we have no place else to go…”

Sam:        “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”  However, we digress.

Felina:     We are the Rob and Laura Petrie of digression.  And the Bonnie and Clyde of the smooth segue, which is to say…

Sam:        So we’ve got hay out for the caribou.  Cool.

Felina:     That was easy.  If the beaver was not our national creature, the reindeer would most certainly hold that honour.

Sam:        Kind of like the turkey in my country.  And in some ways…

Felina:     Samuel, please, oh sun and moon of my life, not tonight.  Besides, I need your advice.

Sam:        Gotcha and go for it.

Felina:     What, exactly, does one serve a magical human being capable of manipulating time and space so that he and his flying reindeer can deliver presents ranging from a diamond ring to a political election to an estimated six billion people on the planet?

Sam:        You took a deep breath behind that one, didn’t you?

Felina:     I did indeed.

Sam:       St. Nicholas is Greek.  So he probably likes gyros and ouzo from one of those skin bags

Felina:     Those skin bags that are made from the bladder of a goat.

Sam:        Those ones, yep.

Felina:     Of which we have several on hand, of course. 

Sam:        We might have to improvise a little.

Felina:     We might have to improvise a lot.  I did not see any of this…this ouzo in the pantry either.  And I am certainly not romping down the mountain looking for a delicatessen open on Christmas Eve.  What do American humans feed this jolly rotund flying philanthropist?

Sam:        Cookies and milk, if memory serves.

Felina:     Sugar and the juice of a cow.  And if all of them serve him this, the carbohydrates alone would account for his incredible hyperactivity. 

Sam:        That would be as good an explanation as any I’ve heard, Lass.  So I’m guessing if we put a Canadian spin on this, pancakes and maple syrup.  And snow water to wash it down.

Felina:     You know us only too well, my love.

Sam:        But not too much water.  I don’t think his sleigh has like, you know…

Felina:     A ‘loo less sleigh?  I will certainly take that under advisement.

Sam:        And maybe could we like, you know, class it up a little and tell him they’re crepes?

Felina:     Excuse me?

Sam:        Never mind.  Probably not one of my better ideas.

Felina:     No, by all means, continue.  I just wanted to make sure I heard this correctly.  You are suggesting we lie to a man who keeps more detailed records on human behaviour than J. Edgar Hoover and the NSA combined?  Please tell me that you are not proposing that we try to scam Santa Claus.

Sam:        Well, when you look at it that way…

Felina:     There is no other way to look at it, Dear.  “He knows if you have been bad or good.”

Sam:        “So be good for goodness sake.”

Felina:     Quite so, my darling mountain lion.

Sam:        So on that note then, Felina?

Felina:     On that note, Gentle Readers, from those of us here at Cougars Corner and the Northstar Journal, may you and yours enjoy the best the season has to offer.  And until next week, may the Creator keep you safe in the palm of Her paw.


For those of us who love the outdoors even (especially) in winter, this is definite “must read”.  5 Things a Family Did Right to Survive While Being Stranded in Sub-Zero Temperatures

South Portland, Maine has imposed a six-month moratorium on the shipping of tar sands oil through its port.  There is a good chance this ban could become permanent.

For anyone interested in successful urban planning ~ by the street, the neighborhood or the community ~ will definitely enjoy this.  A before-and-after guide to safe streets


NFL Gives $30 Million to Study Traumatic Brain Injuries

After This Indian Nun Witnessed a Woman’s Murder, She Saved Thousands More from Domestic Violence

Tiny House Village to Shelter Homeless in Austin, Texas


This does not surprise us but it certainly must stop.  Study: Dolphins Suffer After Oil Spill

See above.  Tackling a Racial Gap in Breast Cancer Survival

We could not agree with this more.  There’s More to Renisha McBride’s Shooting Than Racism: It’s About Our Culture of Gun Violence


Is this electric wheel made in Washington state destined to be a global person carrier?  It’s beginning to look like, “yep, probably.”

As a student of industrial history, I found this extremely interesting.  No-Frills Car With Soviet Lineage Is Hottest in Europe

Biofuels Created From Algae in Minutes is the kind of headline I love to see.  But algae too is a resource, albeit an easily renewable one.  I hope we manage it better than we have some others in the past.


Buffett Buys $1 Billion in Wind Power

Whale Hides Under Boat, Tourists Totally Unaware

Seeking the Why of Giving


Video: App Smart: Tracking Data Usage

Best maps of 2013

By Sci-Fi Standards, Newest Robots May Disappoint


Astronauts Begin Series Of Urgent Spacewalks

LOOK: Crater On Mercury Named After Beatle

LOOK: 27 Most Mind-Blowing Space Photos Of 2013


Okay, gang.  Where in the World? Five Geography Games to Test Your World Knowledge

And for others so addicted, here is a 10-question daily trivia we have emailed to us.


Ozone Layer Will Take Five More Decades To Fully Recover

If You Build It, They Will Ride—Even In Car Crazy LA

Wind Energy And Wildlife: A Delicate Balance

Revitalizing Our Forests

Buffett Buys $1 Billion in Wind Power


Here are ten diseases which are spreading because of climate change.

We cannot all be Olympic athletes.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t eat like some of them.

The benefits of drinking red wine have been known almost since the dawn of history.  For an update on responsible imbibing, please go here.


Blood Pressure Guidelines Can Be Loosened, Panel Says

How a Cup of Nettle Tea Taught Me How To Live Well and Remember the Past

Spike in Harm to Liver Is Tied to Dietary Aids


Sometimes, the battle against cancer is also won by being inspired by others who are making war on it.  I contend this is such a case.  Janet D. Rowley, Who Discovered That Cancer Can Be Genetic, Dies at 88


Video: Holiday Feast: Ham  (For Those Whose Religions Permit)

Video: Lorna Sass’s Pressure-Cooker Lamb Meatballs

Video: Spanish Tortilla With Tomato Salad

Pushing Poor People To The Suburbs Is Bad For The Environment

How To Kill Your Car: From Dragon Wagon To Bike Paradise

Michael Pollan Says Gardening Makes You A Better Writer

Why Other Countries Teach Better

Italy’s “Slow Food” Pioneer: How My Love For Food Ripened Into A Life’s Work

The Movement To Live More Simply Is Older Than You Think

Interactive Graphic: How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk


Video: This Week’s Movies: Dec. 20, 2013

Pets In The Snow

New Photos And Video Of Oregon Zoo’s Baby Otter


AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL — AI has been at the front of every human rights issue and concern since its founding in 1961 by a British attorney.  Without this organization, thousands would still be imprisoned and international justice would yet be a dream.

BACK COUNTRY GALLERY:  BEST NATURE PHOTOS ON THE NET — This nature photographer’s work is the single best I’ve seen outside National Geographic.

BLACK SEA AGRO: AGRICULTURE IN THE BLACK SEA REGION — This region feeds most of the former Soviet Union.  How they tackle issues of concern to their own agrarians deserves to be read by every farmer on the planet.

CREAM MAGAZINE & MILLENNIUM ART GALLERY — We have a relationship with the two Canadian men in Vancouver who own and manage this gallery that goes back over 30 years.   They were the first to publish our mountain lions, Felina and Sam.  Their literary magazine features talent from all over the world and their virtual gallery is a cozy rainy afternoon virtual excursion.

GRITTV WITH LAURA FLAUNDERS is about personal and community empowerment in an environmentally sane world.

HELP END WORLD HUNGER & POVERTY | HEIFER INTERNATIONAL® | HEIFER.ORG — This was recommended to us by a staffer who loves cows and admires the splendid work this particular organization is doing.

NO CAMELS – WEEKLY ISRAELI INNOVATION NEWS is like a blend of Popular Mechanics, Scientific American and the science pages of the New York Times and the Huffington Post.  I totally geek out when I read these folks.

OUTSIDE MAGAZINE — This is the comprehensive weekly for the rugged and socially responsible nature sports set, which marginally includes me.  The National Geographic is still the standard here so if NG is a ten, OM is an eight.

THE SEADOC SOCIETY: PEOPLE & SCIENCE HEALING THE SEA  — Affiliated with the University of California – Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, these folks are headquartered on a small forested island in the north part of Washington state’s Puget Sound.  They are actively involved in research, education and legislation to protect the marine environment.  Their monthly newsletter is an animal lover’s delight.

SIERRA CLUB — Historically, the Sierra Club has been in the vanguard of the Conservation Movement.  They are very reflective of the mountains for whom they are named.

WORLD WILDLIFE FUND — I like the spirit with which these folks pursue the task of protecting life on this planet.  They’re engaging, interactive and educational without being preachy.  They’ve learned early on the power of a good visual and a restrained narrative.  Reading their newsletter is like talking to a naturalist.

WRITING FOR PEACE  — This is an ambitious project which I think has an inestimable value to those learning about war. These weekly blogs are written by those who have experienced that particular horror.  Because I’ve seen some of the more horrific things they write about, I don’t go there often.  Anyone who still believes that war is better than peace should.


Winter in Western Washington arrived a little on the wimpy side.  Nonetheless, food still had to be put out for the squirrels (unsalted sunflower seeds in the shell).  Yep, that’s me, “Rusty of the North(star)”

Winter in Western Washington arrived a little on the wimpy side. Nonetheless, food still had to be put out for the squirrels (unsalted sunflower seeds in the shell). Yep, that’s me, “Rusty of the North(star)”


Despite the inconvenience to commuters from Olympia to Blaine and from Long Beach to Issaquah, the first storm of the winter was a disappointment to the ski tourism industry.  Having observed that, it would not surprise me if the next time Seattle gets the white stuff, I might very well be posting this from an igloo.


I make fun of Seattle because that’s part of what I do.  But if I didn’t love it here, I would not write a word.  So I come neither to praise the Emerald City nor to bury it.  But Bertha (the Biggest Boring Machine in the World) is still at the end of the 60 foot tunnel she dug and her inability to extricate herself is making national headlines, much to my personal embarrassment.  

What’s blocking Bertha won’t be known until 2014
Bertha’s problems compared to Brightwater Treatment Plant
Work on wells around ‘Bertha’ will go into next week






It is an America gone mad from the addiction to war and desperate for resources beyond her own borders.  A military dictatorship controls the country and life is grim. The Republic is fighting for its very survival and for decades, especially with Latin America.

 This is the world of the United States Coast Guard cutter Testament, a cybernetic patrol boat, and her six-person crew.  Her mission, and those of her sister craft, is simple

Quench the rebellion and stop the flow of Americans seeking refuge in Canada. Kill when expedient.  Deliver the survivors to the Bellingham Re-Education Center. 

A simple operational order and one which has served America well. 

Until Testament.

For a preview:  Go Here

For the kindle book: ($3.99) at amazon.com



Business Correspondence



Copy Writing


Feature Magazine Articles

Ghost Writing




Online Research





Song Lyrics

Special Projects


Travel Copy





If you want to make sure your cat or dog has a good holiday, check out this list of human food we should NOT be sharing with our pets.

My wife, GRHS, used to call these dudes “bugs that crawl around on the bottom of the ocean”.  She was from Boston and her seafood bib had a hamburger and fries on it.  Massive Lobster Caught In Southern California

Well, in over 50 years of studying all creatures great and small, I still felt this was weird.  Video: ScienceTake: The Physics of Ants


New high-tech maps detail wildlife habitat in West

And Today, In Alligator News

Setting the Table for a Regal Butterfly Comeback, With Milkweed


The Great Backyard Bird Count’s monthly newsletter is a lark.  The GBBC is a coalition which includes Bird Studies Canada and the Audubon Society.  They’ve got a beautiful poster you can download and print or use as wallpaper.  Their photos are ~ as always ~ outstanding and their articles this time range from finches to snowy owls.  Yep, this is a five star Northstar recommendation.

Living With Wildlife
BBC’s wildlife finder
National Geographic Daily News – Animals


We sure hope this works for them.  Shamans Recruited To Make Snow For Socchi Winter Olympics

Framed RustyA FINAL WORD

The Northstar Journal is entirely reader-supported.  If you enjoyed this edition and would like to help out with the next, please go here.  If you’re reading this on our blogsite and would like the graphically enhanced edition delivered to you by email, please so inform us at minstrel312@aol.com  Until next week, then, take care and Godspeed.  Rusty


About minstrel312

MERRITT SCOTT MILLER Bio Wrath of the Testament Author and Northstar Journal editor Merritt Scott (Rusty) Miller is a former newspaper reporter who has published extensively in the Pacific Northwest and several times nationally. A U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, he began his career in the alternative media of the mid-Seventies. His own Sacramento-based monthly ~ Rapline ~ drew praise from Sacramento BEE metro columnist Herb Michelson in a column published that that newspaper; and from Berkeley Film Quarterly editor and author of the bestsellers Ecotopia and Ecotopia Emerging, Ernest Callenbach. A Northern California native with roots in British Columbia, Mr. Miller has written for several Northwest community newspapers, United Press International, the daily Portland Oregonian and for such Seattle publications as the Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Press and the University Herald. As an investigative reporter for the McMinnville, Oregon News-Register ~ and in conjunction with CBS News in New York, Washington, DC and Flagstaff, Arizona ~ Mr. Miller localized a story of alleged Contra gun-running by an international air freight company headquartered in that Willamette Valley community. During the 1987 Angel Complex Fire in southern Oregon, Mr. Miller worked as the lead dispatcher for the U.S. Forest Service and covered the disaster for National Public Radio and as a special writer for the Portland, Oregonian. His 1988 series on child abuse for a rural weekly earned him praise from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. In his career as a journalist, Mr. Miller has interviewed a Nobel peace laureate; an internationally renowned abstract artist; a popular folksinger and various Pacific Northwest elected officials, include a state treasurer and governor. An accomplished travel book writer, Mr. Miller has penned demographic and feature copy for the “Best Choices” series on Eastern Washington, British Columbia, Virginia, South Carolina and Atlanta. As either a contract or staff publicist, he has served a host of clients including the Olympia Music Festival, Umpqua Valley Community Hospital, the City of Canyonville, the Tiller Ranger District, The English School, the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners, Yamhill County Assessor Kim Worrell and Workers of Oregon Development. His freelance publications include: United Press International, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Portland Oregonian, Forest World, American Trucking, Trucks, Oregon Adventures, Oregon Education, Old Oregon, The Entertainer, the Seattle Press, the San Juan Island Sounder, Northwest Passage, Northwest Connection, Seattle Source, Seattle Forum, the University of Colorado’s Writers Forum, Clouds, The long Beach Literary Journal and the Pacific Media Group. He has worked since the age of 13 and has been a hop harvester, professional musician, civil servant, forester, convenience market clerk, lumber mill worker, temporary word processor, technical writer and editor. He has also led a social services research and development team and has six years of radio and telephone communications experience. His interests include astronomy, aviation, camping, Canada, communications, conversation, cooking, dancing, economic development, education, environmentalism, exploration, film/DVDs, fine dining, government, green technology, health. History, human rights, International community, Internet media, law, literature, marine engineering & design, medicine, music, nature, networking, outdoors, pets, photography, romance, science, sexuality, technology, travel, water, wildlife His honors and awards include: Letter of Appreciation - Amnesty International; US Senator Patti Murray Letter of Appreciation for The Northstar Journal Blog; Editors Choice, International Library of Poetry; Congressman Edward Murray Letter of Appreciation; Congressman Frank Chopp Letter of Appreciation; Hersch Best Read on the Net Award for The Northstar Journal; President Bill Clinton Letter of Appreciation; Workers Of Oregon Development Certificate of Appreciation; City of Canyonville Police Department Certificate of Appreciation; City of Canyonville Mayor’s Office Certificate of Appreciation; California Supreme Court Justice Rose Bird Letter of Appreciation; Northwest Magazine Editorial Board Letter of Appreciation for Rain; Editorial Award, Society of Professional Journalists; Sacramento Bee Metro Column; Honor Roll: California State University Long Beach; Deans List: Long Beach City; Mr. Miller currently resides in Seattle, Washington, where he continues to edit and publish The Northstar Journal. He is working on two novels concurrently and a sequel to Wrath of the Testament.
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