A weekly ezine of news, commentary, health, humor and general interest  The Magazine With Heart

A weekly ezine of news, commentary, health, humor and general interest
The Magazine With Heart

News & Commentary, From Olya ~ Ukraine Train Stories, Good Examples, Bad Examples, From Santa ~ Gifts For Our Readers, Northstar Interactive, Our World & Beyond, Northstar Mailbox – US Senator Patti Murray On US Refugee Resettlement Program, The Green Agenda, Health & Lifestyle, Northstar Comics, Thought Of The Week, Best Of The Net, All Creatures Great & Small, Northstar Endorses, You Guys Think We Make This Stuff Up, About Us

Pacem, Libertatem, Justitiam

100% Reader Supported.  Donations Accepted Here.

December 20, 2015  Vol. 9 No. 15  429th Consecutive

Rusty Miller – Editor

Olya Bereza – European Associate Editor

Dennis Steussy – American Associate Editor

This edition is dedicated to the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs and in particular to Ms. Christina Magdaleno



Hi again from the shores of the Salish Sea.  At a time of such religious controversy, it might seem terribly inappropriate to wish those of you who are not Christians a Merry Christmas.

In the House that Northstar built, Christmas belongs as much to every human being on this planet as the man whose birthday this holiday celebrates.  We also happen to feel that way about Mohammed, Buddha and the principles of all the other faiths this teeming planet has to offer.

I like Jesus but I am not awed by him.  I believe all that the New Testament says about him.  I imagine him as a tall, sunbronzed man with carpenter’s hands and a real softspoken way about him.  I’m betting that people learned as much from the expressions on his face and the timbre of his voice as they did from his sermons themselves.

I think that Jesus was also a very working class kind of guy and it’s not that much of a stretch ~ as sacrilegious as this may seem ~ imagining having a pint and a game of darts with him after working on a house together.  I also imagine Jesus was a pretty good poker player, loved to dance and probably had a real cool singing voice.

I apologize if that takes some of the shine off the icon but I don’t think that any messiah was sent down here to lead us.  They were sent down here to teach us how to lead ourselves.  All of us are as much the children of God as our prophets and with all due respect, when we pray standing up, we’re that much closer to touching the face of the Divine One.

Merry Christmas, then, gang.  Oh, and by the way, St. Nicholas swung by early and left some cool links for you guys.  Scroll down to FROM SANTA.  And just a reminder.  The Northstar Journal is supported entirely by its readers.  This keeps us free to provide what you want, rather than what an advertiser might.  That $5.00 or $10.00 you contribute every year makes that possible.  If you’d like to do that now, please go here.  Thank you.

Take care, stay well and have a great week, gang



This Muslim American Woman Isn’t Afraid Of Donald Trump or Terrorism

This is good news close to home.  PNW can power itself for the next 20 years with energy efficiency

This, on the other hand, is not so good.  In Victoria, pollution ruins First Nation’s traditional shellfish harvest



Japanese Women Lose Surname Law Case

Bombs at Bangladeshi Mosques Wound Naval Personnel, Police Say

Nepal Avalanche Carried Half the Force of an Atomic Bomb


China Summons US Envoy Over Taiwan Arms

19 Coal Miners Trapped in Northeast China Are Presumed Dead

China Protests Sale of U.S. Arms to Taiwan


Granted Bail, Heirs To Indian Political Dynasty Pledge To Fight Corruption Case

India, Choking On Pollution, Restricts Vehicle Use In New Delhi

Indian Schools Are Failing Their Students


Droughts, Failed Harvests Tied To El Nino Devastate Africa

Video: What Happened In South Sudan?

These Girls Founded A Savings And Loan Club In Kenya’s Biggest Urban Slum


Qatari Hunters Kidnapped In Iraq

Iran Struggles With Long-Term Drought

Grandson Of Modern Iran’s Founder Seeks To Join Council That Picks Supreme Leader

U.S. Delivers Art To Iran That Had Been Impounded Since 1979


Putin Signs Law Allowing Russia To Overturn International Court Rulings

Putin Pours Fresh Scorn On Turkey

Vladimir Putin Dares Turkey To Test Russia’s Air Defences In Syria

Russian Jet’s Black Box ‘Damaged’

Donald Trump ‘Honoured’ By Vladimir Putin’s Compliments

FSB Raids Turkish Bank Branches In Russia

Weak Ruble Boosts Tourism To Russia

Russia’s Central Bank Declares Shortage of Banned Food Items


France Fines 20 Delivery Firms €672m

Kiev Court Bans Ukraine’s Communist Party

EU To Investigate VW Emissions Scandal

Eurozone Growth ‘Slows’ In December

Ukraine Halts Russia Debt Repayments

‘Pathway’ Found For EU Deal – Cameron


Mother Teresa Miracle Recognised


Britain Considers Deflating Power Of House Of Lords

British Teeth Aren’t So Bad, Study Says

Echoes Of The Past As David Cameron Enters Talks On Britain’s Future In European Union

Britain Offers Licenses For Shale-Rock Exploration


Canada Faces Tough Realities To Reach Paris Climate Change Target

Ottawa Sticks To Housing Plan Amid Record Debt Levels

Mccallum Optimistic Canada Can Resettle 10,000 Refugees By Year-End

N Korea Gives Canadian Life In Prison

Earthquake Confirmed As Largest Caused By Fracking In B.C.

Top Court Supports Judge On Tough Drunk-Driving Sentence

Canadian Dollar On Cusp Of Its Worst Year Ever


Bowe Bergdahl To Face Court-Martial On Desertion Charges

First Trial In Freddie Gray Case Goes To The Jury

U.S. Federal Reserve Hikes Rates As Crisis Policy Ends

Neighbor Of San Bernardino Attackers Faces Terrorism Charges

Chicago Pays Millions But Punishes Few In Killings By Police

Congress Says No To Genetically Engineered Salmon Until There’s A Plan To Label It

New Energy Efficiency Standards For Air Conditioning And Heating Biggest In US History

Deaths From Heroin Overdoses Surged In 2014


U.S. and Cuba at Odds Over Exodus of the Island’s Doctors

Brazil’s Finance Minister Replaced

Argentina Set to Devalue Its Currency

Year After Cuba-U.S. Thaw, Obama Says Change Will Take Time 

Mexico: U.S. Penalizes Newspaper Executive

International Court Sides With Costa Rica in Dispute With Nicaragua


Australia Orders Nurofen Off Shelves

Video: Roofs Ripped Off In Sydney Tornado



Confronting Climate Change Might Mean Rethinking The City

This Is What Happens When The Arctic Warms Twice As Fast As The Rest Of The Planet

Climate Change Causing Fish Stocks To Decline Worldwide

Are Women The Key To Solving Climate Change?

Greenland Has Lost A Staggering Amount Of Ice — And It’s Only Getting Worse

El Nino’s Extreme Effects: Corals Around This Island Aren’t Just Bleaching — They’re Dying


‘No Proof Of Terrorism’ In Sinai Crash

Man ‘Shouts IS’ In French School Attack

Paris Attacks Suspect Held In France

Video: Who’s Doing What In Anti-Is Coalition?

IS Assault Repulsed In Northern Iraq


Video: Three Images That Defined Migrant Crisis

Global Displaced To Hit Record Total

Norway Offers Migrants A Lesson In How To Treat Women


US-Russia Try To Narrow Syria Divisions

Video: Syria’s Future As Arab Spring Marked



Hello Mishka:

December 25th is very important astrologically because that is when the days begin to grow longer again.  For three days, Mercury and Orion’s belt stars make a visible line that points down to the same place of sun rising. This is recognized as a possible source of the tale about three magi who followed the Star.  Then sun gradually shifts south, signalling the start of its way to spring.

My family, being Orthodox Christian, has Christmas on January 7th.  But from this astronomical perspective, I appreciate the 25th of December too. I like celebrating two Christmases and two New Years, the Western and the Orthodox. It also reminds me that we all are more alike than different.

Our year of 2015 was an interesting and dramatic one, one which makes you appreciate simple things and joys like a sunny morning smile, peaceful city streets, people who enjoy communication with each other.  As I have mentioned before, I often travel and when I do, I prefer ordinary economy class trains. So many tales one can hear during long choo- choo hours, the sound the best lullaby for me at night.

Last week I met on a train a wonderful woman from West Ukraine who shared with me her admiration of Russian language and culture. I shared my inspiration of Western Ukraine and Ukrainian language too. We agreed that as long as people continue to build cultural bridges with each other, there is still a hope. A soldier in next car was complaining about lack of water, only 1.5 liter (1.5 quart) to drink a day and no opportunity to wash for weeks. He about went off about the cereals they receive to eat. Volunteers help a lot but they can’t replace the shortage of those responsible for their logistical support.

Thousands are the stories that flow from people on long train rides.  Their opinions, impressions, emotions, dreams hopes, prayers and reflections are all a part of Ukraine for perhaps more than any other nation, Ukraine is her people and their stories.  And the truth of Ukraine is they all are right in their vision or perception as every story is a part of their own story, and every part of their story influences our common heritage.

As I have also mentioned before, I was truly inspired and touched by a beautiful romance told me once on an evening train showing that sometimes ~ even under the harshest circumstances of a swiftly changing world, passion, love and courage find the way for two people.   I am hoping next year, with my cousin Mishka’s help, to complete a novel based on this true life love story and the belief that every cloud does, indeed, have a silver lining.

So wishing to all readers and my fellow staff of the Northstar Journal a silver lining.

And for you, Mishka, hoping St. Nicolas  be nice this year as you deserve a few presents.  Big smile and warm hug.

Olya Bereza – European Associate EditorOlya

Ed. Note:  Olya, St. Nicholas visited me big time the day God sent this kind of dopey looking little baby with hair the colour of Russian wheat, eyes as blue as the Dnieper and a smile as vast as the steppes themselves to live among us.  She grew up real nicely and I thank God every morning and every night for that.  Merry Christmas, Cousin Mine.  Rusty


Good for these folks.  VIDEO: First Saudi Women Politicians Elected

This makes me very proud.  Canada’s refugee program draws praise around the world

There’s a special place Up Yonder reserved for this man.  Video: The Man Who Rescues Trafficked Children


This absolutely should not be happening.  Young Muslim Americans Are Feeling The Strain Of Suspicion

This should never have been necessary but good for him!  The Father Of A Fallen Muslim American War Hero Puts Trump In His Place

Some of these actually work.  9 Comebacks for Dealing with Rude People

santa and sleigh jpg


These are YouTube links.  All are g-rated and meant to be watched alone or with family and friends.  You can also take the ones you don’t like and re-gift or copy the ones y0u do and pass them along.  So take some time to relax over a cup of hot cocoa and good company.  Enjoy, then, from our house to yours, the best the season has to offer from Olya, Dennis, Amy Sarah and a couple of other anonymous hooligans who bring you the Northstar Journal.  Here’s a song each, then, for the 12 Days of Christmas.  Rusty Miller

  1. Because All Men Are Brothers – Peter, Paul & Mary
  2. Bless the Beasts and the Children – Film Theme Song by The Carpenters
  3. Colors of the Wind – From Soundtrack of the Film Pocahantas
  4. Dick Van Dyke and The Dustbowl Revival
  5. Dueling Banjos – Kermit the Frog & Steve Martin
  6. Encouragement – Foundation For A Better Life
  7. Glenn Miller Medley – Andre Rieu
  8. I’ll Never Find Another You – The Seekers
  9. Katyusha – Varvara
  10. One World – Celtic Woman
  11. William Tell Overture – Glen Campbell
  12. A World of Our Own – The Seekers


This is fascinating.  Scientists Say That 6,000 Years Ago, Humans Dramatically Changed How Nature Works

Good for these guys!  For The First Time Ever, A British Astronaut Has Arrived At The International Space Station

I love this.  Why Moon Colonies Will Live Underground


Was This The Center Of Civilization?

The Italian Town With An Ancient Secret

New XPRIZE Competition Offers $7 Million For The Best Ocean-Exploring Robots


Video: Cosmonaut Padalka: ‘Reaching Orbit Is Intense’

Asteroid To Pass Earth On Christmas Eve

Three Astronauts Safely Return To Earth After Months In Space

The Place Where Galaxies Are Colliding

What Would The Flag Of Mars Look Like?

Explore Astronaut Tim Peake’s New Home

Saturn’s Moons Cuddle Up For A Family Photo

Many Exoplanets May Hide Water In Their Thick Clouds

How A NAZI Scientist Led Us Into Space


Pluto, Poop And The Perils Of Gene Editing: This Year’s Best Science Stories

8 Amazing Muslim Women Who Would Be Banned From Trump’s America (and Other News to Chew On)


Drone Registration Rules Are Announced By F.A.A.

Researchers Create A Computer Program That Learns The Way Humans Do

This Huge Deal Is The Latest Evidence That The Battery Revolution Has Arrived


The Earth Observatory’s mission is to share with the public the images, stories, and discoveries about climate and the environment that emerge from NASA research, including its satellite missions, in-the-field research, and climate models.


To Our Associate Editor Denny Steussy From US Senator Patti Murray On The US Refugee Settlement Program

Dear Mr. Steussy:

Thank you for contacting me concerning your thoughts on the U.S. refugee resettlement program and humanitarian assistance for refugees. As you know, our world is experiencing a crisis of women, children, and families forced to flee their homes to escape conflict, violence, or persecution. I appreciate hearing from you on this critical subject.

The United Nations estimates there are nearly 60 million refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced persons which is more than any time since World War II. These are people fleeing not only war torn Syria, but nearly every region of the world. They are fleeing the worst forms of persecution based on who they are or what they believe, including religious discrimination, violence against women, and violence against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Responding to and ending this international humanitarian crisis will require all nations of the world working together. The United States has a moral, legal, and national security responsibility to assist those who flee conflict, violence, or persecution in their home countries and cannot return.

Further, the United States has been and must continue to be a compassionate member of the international community, accepting a specified number of refugees who cannot return to their country of origin and providing them the opportunity to pursue the American dream. Washington state has long been a welcoming community for refugees, with our state continually ranking as one of the top 10 resettlement states in the country. From Seattle to Spokane, Vancouver to Bellingham, refugees are placed in every corner of our state, every year. Upon first arriving to Washington, people and organizations throughout our state offer recently arrived refugees a safe and welcoming community. I am proud of our state’s long history of helping those fleeing conflict and persecution from throughout the world.

We currently have a robust vetting process in place for refugees coming to the United States, but I will continue to work with my colleagues here in Congress and with the President to make sure we continue to take steps to keep our country safe. That is why I have written to the Administration urging them to continue to carefully screen refugee applicants for all national security and terrorism concerns while also urging them to devote sufficient resources and staff to ensure that this critical process does not hinder resettlement for refugees who pose no threat to our public safety or national security, many of whom are living in difficult, at times life-threatening, situations.

The bottom line is Washington state has a proud tradition of welcoming refugees and immigrants from throughout the world, and I believe that we can keep our country safe without slamming the door shut on the mothers, children, and families who have turned to the United States for help in escaping violent extremism and persecution.

Once again, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this important issue. If you would like to know more about my work in the Senate, please sign up for my updates at


Patty Murray
United States Senator


West Coast Mayors: Our Cities Will Lead Charge Against Climate Change

Washington State Says: ‘Give Salmon A Break’

First In The Nation, Seattle Lets Uber Drivers Unionize

Big Oil, Make Way For Big Solar

The Budget Bill Will Unleash Wind And Solar. Here’s What That Means For The Climate

Watch Greenhouse Gases Cover Earth In NASA Time-Lapse Video

Obama Just Released The Biggest Energy Efficiency Rule In U.S. History


Deaths From Heroin Overdoses Surged In 2014

Global Cancer Hotspots: Burden Of Disease Is Shifting To Developing World

Study: Up To 90 Percent Of Cancers Not ‘Bad Luck,’ But Due To Lifestyle Choices, Environment

Class Differences In Child-Rearing Are On The Rise

Standing With Malala: Meet The Teenagers Who Survived The Taliban And Kept Going To School


We’ve collected what we consider the most wholesome, family-oriented and genuinely humorous comic strips we could find on the Net.  They include:  Adam@Home, Calvin & Hobbes, Emmylou, For Better or For Worse, Foxtrot Classics, Garfield, Get Fuzzy, and Peanuts.  Either click the banner or this link.


Heart rock

A most cool radio show with a great, insightful website . . .

On Being with Krista Tippett — The Big Questions of Meaning

To subscribe and experience Thoughts in their original, please contact Amy at


Video: Tim Peake And Soyuz Rocket Blast Off

WATCH: Largest Glacier Breakup Ever Recorded on Film

Imagine Seeing One of These in the Ocean — This Thing is Crazy!


testament cover


A super power no longer, a resource hungry and repressive America faces a Latin American armada rampaging its west coast and a strong, silent and powerful Canada manning the North Wall.  The fires of rebellion burn in the Pacific Northwest and it is into this crucible and forge that the cybernetic patrol boat Testament and her crew of three men and three women are thrust.  Individuals of duty and conscience both, when they join the other side, all Hell breaks loose.  A rollicking adventure for anyone who loves the sea, a good yarn and characters which spring to life even as Testament herself leaps the waves.  Now available in both paperback and Kindle at

THE BACK COUNTRY GALLERY’S new free monthly nature wallpaper is available here.  Lens jockey Steve Perry also has a newsletter offering a great deal of cool stuff for wildlife photographers, amateur and professional, alike. 


Whatever your editing, writing, tutoring or consulting needs, chances are I can handle them.  Negotiable rates, flexible payment plan, Paypal and from your email to me and back.  Simple, friendly, professional.  I also accept barter and trade.  International clients encouraged.  If you need it done quickly, simply and for a price tailored to your budget, shoot me a brief project description at  I’ll get back to you one way or another within 24 hours. For a list of specific services provided, please go to  My name is Merritt Scott Miller and my friends and clients call me “Rusty”.  I look forward to hearing from you.


This is weird.  Imagine Seeing One of These in the Ocean — This Thing is Crazy!
I absolutely love this and I am guessing you will too.  Adorable! The Lion Whisperer Gets a Full Cuddle Treatment

Here is another chance to die of cute.  I almost did.  This Lion Loses His Brother — Their Reunion is Priceless!


How Do Bison Survive Winter?

2015 Was A Big Year For Animals Riding Animals

Pets On A Plane: How To Travel Well With Animals


The Cornell Lab of Ornithology December newsletter is now online.


Amnesty International



GritTV With Laura Flaunders

Help End World Hunger & Poverty | Heifer International® | Heifer.Org

Mother Nature Network

National Wildlife Federation

No Camels – Weekly Israeli Innovation News

Ocean Conservancy

Outside Magazine

SeaDoc Society: People & Science Healing The Sea

Showcase Magazine:  Today’s Media For Artful Living

Sierra Club

Sightline Institute

The Sun Magazine

Wildlife Extra magazine

World Wildlife Fund

Writing For Peace

YES magazine


Scientists Find A 200 Year Old Giant Salamander Just Chilling

The Animal That Lives For 10,000 Years

The Mysterious Trees That Walk


The Northstar Journal is an international news, commentary and general interest weekly Internet magazine reaching readers in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Oceana.  We also have a website linked to both Facebook and Linked-In.  While we occasionally accept classified advertising, we are otherwise entirely reader-supported. If you enjoyed this edition and would like to contribute to the next, please go here. For more information and to receive us in your email, contact us at



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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