Today is my friend’s Birthday

She is Brilliant and Beautiful and always offers me good advice. I just hope that she know how much I appreciate her! IMG_3947

My hope is that the WORLD knows that she makes it a better place. If you see her- give her a hug!

Some people come into our lives and barely leave a trace, others leave a string of footprints etched in our minds, letting us know they are with us every step we take.

You, my friend, have been stamping all over my brain since the day we met.

Over the passed few years we have been able to work together and attend a few social engagements. I am so happy that you are part of my family!  You weren’t just a friend, you became a sister to me and Steph, an Aunt to our kids.

We are out to change our part of the world. Because together we were stronger, braver and damn right invincible!


Tony and Steph

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Call It What It Is: Climate Cover-Up, Not Climate Denial | The Huffington Post

Today’s remarks by EPA administrator Scott Pruitt that human activity is not “a primary contributor to the global warming that we see” should effectively bring an end to the term formerly known as “climate denial.”

Dear media: Call it what it is—a climate cover-up.

As our nation’s top official sworn into office to ensure, “national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information,” Pruitt’s statement on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” raises some troubling questions on his ability to carry out his agency’s mandate—or even provide a forthright characterization of his agency’s scientific work.

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact,” Pruitt said on CNBC, “so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”

Tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact of human activity on the climate?

Not so, according to Pruitt’s own EPA and its website on climate change: Humans are largely responsible for recent climate change.

Source: Call It What It Is: Climate Cover-Up, Not Climate Denial | The Huffington Post

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15 classic metal albums whose titles are less dark than the Washington Post’s new motto

The Washington Post unveiled a cheery new motto this week: “Democracy dies in darkness.” The phrase now appears beneath the newspaper’s name on its website and Snapchat Discover page, although it has yet to make its way into the print edition.

If it sounds like a catchphrase more befitting a doomsday prophet than a daily newspaper, that doesn’t seem to be the intent. While its precise origins are unclear, it’s a favorite saying of Bob Woodward, the famous Post reporter and editor, who has deployed it in speeches and interviews since at least 2007 as an earnest criticism of government secrecy. The Post’s owner, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, repurposed it as a rallying cry in a 2016 interview about why he bought the paper:

I think a lot of us believe this: that democracy dies in darkness, that certain institutions have a very important role in making sure that there is light. And I think the Washington Post has a seat, an important seat, to do that, because we happen to be located here in the capital city of the United States of America.

In Bezos’ mind, then, the motto is really about “making sure there is light.” Still, it’s hard to shake the sense that we’re reading dispatches from the end times with those three D-words looming atop the paper’s home page. The grim action verb, the present tense, the dunh-dunh-dunh alliteration, the foreboding final word: Cormac McCarthy, take notes!

Far be it for us at Slate to chide fellow journalists for apocalyptic responses to our present political predicament. That said, we can imagine that the backlash and mockery might give the Post’s executives pause as they ponder putting the motto on their subscribers’ doorsteps every morning, and we’re here to help. Should Washington’s paper of record decide at some point that it wants to strike a slightly gentler tone, here are 15 classic metal album titles that might fit the bill.

Source: 15 classic metal albums whose titles are less dark than the Washington Post’s new motto

Welcome to Hell, Venom (1981)

Screaming for Vengeance, Judas Priest (1982)

Reign in Blood, Slayer (1986)

The Erosion of Sanity, Gorguts (1993)

Altars of Madness, Morbid Angel (1989)

Vulgar Display of Power, Pantera (1992)

Seasons in the Abyss, Slayer (1990

Slowly We Rot, Obituary (1989)

Bonded by Blood, Exodus (1984)

Storm of the Light’s Bane, Dissection (1995)

Operation: Mindcrime, Queensryche (1988)

The Downward Spiral, Nine Inch Nails (1994)

All Hope Is Gone, Slipknot (2008)

Kill ’Em All, Metallica (1983)

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Really New Hampshire?

New Hampshire residents no longer need any kind of license to carry a concealed handgun after the state repealed a nearly century-old law that allowed police to deny concealed carry licenses to people they believed could pose a risk to others.

New Hampshire already permitted open carry, but local law enforcement long had discretion to deny individuals a license to carry a concealed weapon. The system, in place for 94 years, let police prevent people who they knew had a violent history from getting license.
On Wednesday, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed a law that simply allows residents to carry a concealed weapon without a license. Similar legislation had been twice vetoed by former Gov. Maggie Hassan (D).
“SB12 ensures New Hampshire citizens are guaranteed the fundamental right to carry a firearm in defense of themselves and their families, as prescribed by Article 2a of our state constitution,” Sununu said in a statement. “This common sense legislation aligns our concealed carry laws with that of our neighboring states of Vermont and Maine and states across the country. This is about safety. This is about making sure that the laws on our books are keeping people safe while remaining true to the Live Free or Die spirit that makes New Hampshire the great state that it is. This is a commitment I made to the people of New Hampshire and I am proud today to fulfill that commitment, signing SB12 into law.”
Law enforcement groups across the Granite State had spoken out against the measure. Pat Sullivan, executive director of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, told The Huffington Post last month that the law already in place once allowed him to deny a concealed carry license to a man who came to his station in a tinfoil hat. Under the new law, that man won’t need to get a license to carry a concealed weapon.
“There are many people that carry concealed weapons that are doing good, that aren’t doing bad things. However, there is an element that we deal with as law enforcement, in terms of a regular basis, that are no good,” Sullivan said. “They are committing crimes, violent crimes, and we don’t know whether or not they do or do not have a weapon on them. With the permits, you at least have an idea as to whether or not they have a legal weapon on them. You encounter someone roadside, you don’t know what you have. It kind of just gives that little bit of added security and safety.”
Deidre Reynolds, a volunteer with the New Hampshire chapter of the gun safety group Moms Demand Action, said the measure would make the state less safe.
“Shame on you, Governor Sununu. By signing SB 12 into law, you have made Granite Staters less safe. You and the state lawmakers who rushed this through are compromising public safety standards and making it easier for dangerous people to carry hidden, loaded weapons in public. In doing so, you have put politics over public safety, kowtowing to the extreme agenda of the national gun lobby,” she said in a statement. “Local law enforcement agencies now no longer have the ability to deny permits to potentially dangerous people.”
New Hampshire becomes the 12th state where it’s legal to carry a concealed weapon without a license. Similar legislation to roll back licensing requirements is pending in Texas, Kentucky, Utah and North Dakota. 

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Trump Will End, Not With A Bang But With Him Whimpering

The United States has officially elected the most sensitive man in the country to serve as president. Not sensitive to the needs of others, the way a president ought to be, but sensitive to anything said about him that isn’t the equivalent of a fireworks display and a 21-gun salute. We initially suspected that he was going to handle criticism poorly, and he showed no lack of evidence when it came to his temperament, but his inability to maintain any sort of composure is showing that this job is going to crush him spiritually and intellectually.

A quick search of the his name with the words ‘angry’, ‘upset’, or ‘cranky’ shows what’s happened in the past week alone. Donald Trump is ‘upset’ that Sean Spicer was played by Melissa McCarthy, because he ‘doesn’t like his people to look weak’, according to a source close to him. The implications of saying someone is weak because of gender are certainly lost on him, but the gist of this is that he was upset by a late-night weekend comedy show that he insists is ‘failing’ anyway. What else raised Trump’s dander? He’s apparently ‘upset and angry’ over the Australian refugee deal. He became angry with the New York Times, his nemesis and constant foil, over several things: one being a report that suggested he wasn’t entirely briefed over giving Bannon a spot on the National Security Council, and the other suggesting his staff doesn’t know how to turn on the lights in The White House. Let us remember that this has been all occurred in the past week alone.

His inauguration day, and the following weekend, was marked largely by his complaints over demonstrations against him, negative Twitter messages, and the fact that his inauguration was not as popular as Obama’s in 2009. In a terrifying turn of events, we became aware of his team’s concept of ‘alternative facts’, and saw that this was going to become his way of dealing with any negative press. This can’t last forever; people are beginning to catch on and see that he isn’t handling this whole president thing very well. Further reporting that he’s cranky from lack of sleep, demands to watch television at all times of the day, and was more excited about choosing window treatments than being briefed on current situations seems to point to a lack of ability to perform his duties. This man, who once said that Hillary Clinton ‘doesn’t have the stamina’ to be president, must be haunted by the fact that he’s failing in this regard.

With this in mind, there’s been talk about invoking the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, Section 4, which states that the president may be removed if he is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office’. As one might suspect, there’s a fair amount of people that need to agree to this before he’s able to be removed, and this is why it’s unlikely to be successful. While Donald Trump has not been popular, and while he has his share of foes on both sides of the aisle, this extreme measure would need to be marked by true inability to perform duties and cannot ride on reports of him being cranky. Fortunately for us, this isn’t going to be necessary.

We do not need to invoke this amendment because Donald Trump is going to resign. This is a man whose primary concern is being popular and hearing people clap for him, a man who continues to make speeches about national holidays focus on how much better his ratings were when he was hosting The Apprentice. He’s striving to prove to people that he’s popular and he’s liked, but eventually he will be ground down and try to find a way out when this proves fruitless. He’s going to try and tell us that we did this, that we broke a powerful, successful man through our cruel torment. He’s going to make it seem as if Alec Baldwin’s impersonation of him is in violation of Geneva Conventions, and that CNN’s coverage of him was patently false and he was unable to make anyone see the light. He’s going to try and make us feel bad for him, but we won’t. Donald Trump is not going to be impeached through a lengthy trial marked by heroic statements from lawmakers of both parties, nor is he going to be undone by his financial ties that he has yet to disclose. Donald Trump is going to resign, and he’s going to try and let us know it’s because of how much the people and ‘fake news’ hurt his feelings.

Source: Trump Will End, Not With A Bang But With Him Whimpering | The Huffington Post

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Why President Trump’s Border Wall Is An Example Of Bad Leadership

Is it smart to invest in a wall to solve a problem that doesn’t exist – and would not address potential problems?

Source: Why President Trump’s Border Wall Is An Example Of Bad Leadership

“Get the assumptions wrong and nothing else matters” – Peter F. Drucker

President Donald Trump made it very clear last week that his administration intends to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. And he intends to make Mexico pay for it. He is so adamant he is willing to risk U.S./Mexican relations, canceling a meeting with the Mexican president.

Unfortunately, this tempest is all because of a really bad idea. The wall is a bad idea because the assumptions behind this project are entirely false. Like far too many executives, President Trump is building a plan based on bad assumptions rather than obtaining the facts – even if they belie his assumptions – and developing a good solution. Making decisions, and investing, on bad assumptions is simply bad leadership.

The stated claim is Mexico is sending illegal immigrants across the border in droves. These illegal immigrants are Mexican ne’er do wells who are coming to America to live off government subsidies and/or commit criminal activity. The others are coming to steal higher paying jobs from American workers. America will create a huge decrease in the number of illegal aliens by building this wall and keeping Mexicans in Mexico, and there will be a big jump in American employment.

Unfortunately, almost everything in that line of logic is untrue. And thus the purported conclusion will not happen.

1. Although it cannot be proven, analysts believe the majority (possibly vast majority) of illegal immigrants enter America by air. There are two kinds of illegal immigration. President Trump’s rhetoric focuses on “entries without inspection.” But most illegal immigrants actually arrive in America with a visa – and then simply don’t leave. These are called “overstays.” They come from Mexico, India, Canada, Europe, Asia, South America, Africa – all over the world. If you want to identify and reduce illegal immigration, you need to focus on identifying likely overstays and making sure they return. The wall does not address this.

2. Not everyone who speaks Spanish is Mexican. Without a doubt, the vast, vast majority of people who illegally immigrate across the Mexican border are from Central America. They leave harsh conditions in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and other politically unstable nations. They traverse a difficult Mexican landscape – perhaps more than half of them unaccompanied minors – in an effort to find a place to live. In 2014 Mexico captured and deported 150,000 Central Americans, an increase of 44% from the previous year, and they represented 97% of Mexico’s deportations. Human migratory movement is not a Mexican problem, it is a Central American problem.

3. More non-Mexicans than Mexicans were apprehended at the U.S. border – and the the number of Mexicans has been declining. From 1.6 million in 2000, by 2014 the number dwindled to 229,000 (a decline of 85%). If you want to stop illegal border immigrants into the U.S., the best (and least costly) policy would be to cooperate with Mexico to capture these immigrants as they flee Central America and find a solution for either housing them in Mexico or returning them to their country of origin. It is ridiculous to expect Mexico to pay for a wall when it is not Mexico’s citizens creating the purported illegal immigration problem on the border.

4. In 2015 over 43,000 Cubans illegally immigrated to the U.S. – about 20% as many as from Mexico. The cost of a wall is rather dramatically high given the weighted number of illegal immigrants from other countries.

5. The number of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. is actually declining. There are more Mexicans returning to live in Mexico than are illegally entering the U.S. Between 2009 and 2014 over 1 million illegal Mexican immigrants willingly returned to Mexico where working conditions had improved and they could be with family. In other words, there were more American jobs created by Mexicans returning to Mexico than “stolen” by new illegal immigrants entering the country. If the administration would like to stop illegal immigration the best way is to help Mexico create more high-paying jobs (say with a trade deal like NAFTA) so they don’t come to America, and those in America simply choose to go to Mexico.

6. Illegal immigrants are not “stealing” more jobs every year. Since 2006, the number of illegal immigrants working in the U.S. has stabilized at about 8 million. All the new job growth over the last decade has gone to legitimate American workers or legal immigrants working with proper papers. Illegal immigration is not the reason some Americans do not have jobs, and blaming illegal immigrants is a ruse for people who simply don’t want to work – or refuse to upgrade their skills to make themselves employable.

7. Illegal immigrants in the U.S. is not a rising group – in fact most illegal immigrants have been in the U.S. for over 10 years. In 2014, over 66% of all illegal immigrants had been in the U.S. for 10 years or more. Only 14% have been in the U.S. for 5 years or less. We don’t have a problem needing to stop new illegal immigrants (the ostensible reason for a wall). Rather, we have a need to reform immigration so all these long-term immigrants already in the workforce can be normalized and make sure they pay the necessary taxes.

8. The states where illegal immigration is growing are not on the Mexican border. The states with rising illegal immigration are Washington, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Massachusetts and Louisiana. Texas, New Mexico and Arizona have seen no significant, measurable increase in illegal immigrants. And California, Nevada, Illinois, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina have seen their illegal immigrant population decline. A border wall does not address the growth of illegal immigrants, as to the extent illegal immigrants are working in the U.S. they are clearly not in the border states.

Good leaders get all the facts. They sift through the facts to determine problems, and develop solutions which address the problem.

Bad leaders jump to conclusions. They base their actions on outdated assumptions. They invest in the wrong places because they think they know everything, rather than making sure they know the situation as it really exists.

America’s “flood of illegal immigrants” problem is wildly overblown. Most illegal immigrants are people from advanced countries, often with an education, who overstay their visa limits. But few Americans seem to think they are a problem.

Most border crossing illegal immigrants today are minors from Central America simply trying to stay alive. They aren’t Mexican criminals, stealing jobs, or creating a crime spree. They are mostly starving.

President Trump has “whipped up” a lot of popular anxiety with his claims about illegal Mexican immigrants and the need to build a border wall. Interestingly, the state with the longest Mexican border is Texas – and of its 38 congressional members (36 in Congress, 2 in the Senate and 25 Republican) not one (not one) supports building the wall. The district with the longest border (800 miles) is represented by Republican Will Hurd, who said “building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border.”

Good leaders do not make decisions on bad assumptions. Good leaders don’t rely on “alternative facts.” Good leaders carefully study, dig deeply to find facts, analyze those facts to determine if there is a problem – and then understand that problem deeply. Only after all that do they invest resources on plans that address problems most effectively for the greatest return.

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A War on Facts is a War on Democracy 

Found this is I believe it was originally in Scientific America. 

There is a new incumbent in the White House, a new Congress has been sworn in, and scientists around the country are nervous as hell.

We’re nervous because there seems to be a seismic shift going on in Washington, D.C., and its relationship with facts, scientific reality and objective truth has never been more strained.

Already, in the opening days of his administration, Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, willfully ignored clear, empirical evidence about the size of the inauguration crowds, and bristled at the suggestion experts said they were smaller than in years past. He seemed almost paranoid and insinuated that a media conspiracy — rather than simple arithmetic — was trying to embarrass his boss. And the Trump administration continues to claim, without any evidence, that widespread voter fraud cost Trump the popular vote, even though this has been thoroughly debunked by numerous, bipartisan sources — including his own lawyers.

Even more bizarrely, Kellyanne Conway, a senior advisor to Trump, has offered up the notion that “alternative facts,” rather than actual truth, were in play now. I don’t know what “alternative facts” are, but I think my parent’s generation would have called them “falsehoods” or even “lies.”

But it’s not just absence of facts that’s troubling, it is the apparent effort to derail science and the pursuit of facts themselves.

Already, we have learned that multiple agencies, including the USDA and the EPA, have ordered their scientists to stop speaking to the public about their research. The CDC suddenly cancelled a long-planned, international conference on the health impacts of climate change. And when the Badlands National Park started using its Twitter account to discuss the issue of climate change — as any nature center, park or science museum might do — the tweets were immediately deleted. Most disturbingly, the EPA has immediately suspended all of their grants and contracts, and ordered the review of all scientific work by political appointees, including efforts to collect data, conduct research and share information with the broader public — a public, we should remember, that paid for the work in the first place.
And it’s only been a week since Trump took office.

A disturbing pattern seems to be emerging. Facts, and the pursuit of facts, don’t seem to matter to this White House. Or, worse yet, they matter a lot and are being suppressed.

“Fact checking” the Trump campaign was always a surreal exercise, but we all knew that he came from the world of entertainment, and that shoot-from-the-hip, I-say-what-I-think style was part of his charm, part of his brand. People fed up with regular politicians loved his brash style. It was refreshing to many.

But now that Trump is in power, this is no longer about ratings and entertaining television. It’s about ensuring the fundamental legitimacy and credibility of the world’s most powerful office. If we can’t trust the “facts” being discussed in the White House, what can we trust?
Ultimately, a healthy democracy depends on science. The pursuit of truth, having an informed citizenry, and the free and open exchange of ideas are all cornerstones of our democracy. That’s one thing that always made America truly great: The fact that, when all is said and done, evidence and the truth would always win the day in America. Without that, we join the league of ordinary nations.
And even if you aren’t worried about factual evidence, the veracity of our leaders or the independence of science from political interference, I would urge you to look a little farther down the slippery slope. If facts don’t matter to the White House, especially when they’re inconvenient, what’s next? Laws?
Let me be clear: This isn’t a partisan thing. Scientists aren’t — and shouldn’t be — worried about which political party is in power. It rarely mattered: There has always been a long tradition of bipartisan support for science and a fact-based world view. In fact, the Union of Concerned Scientists has ranked both Republican and Democratic presidents as being exceptional supporters of science, ranging from Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.
Wise leaders of both parties have always recognized the value of independent science to our democracy.
But there’s something different about this administration. Something troubling. And scientists need to stand up and call it out. While we generally avoid political conversations, scientists should always stand up for facts, objectivity and the independence of science itself. Not doing so would be almost unethical.

So, to Trump, I would say this:

If this is all just a series of missteps, caused by over-zealous mid-level managers during a confusing presidential transition, so be it. Say so. Fix it. Get out on the public stage and affirm your commitment to facts, to truth and to the independent pursuit of science without political interference. The vast majority of your fellow Americans would applaud you for this. It would be brave. It would be wise. And it would show some class.

But if this is actually part of your governing philosophy, I would give you a warning on behalf of my fellow scientists: Do not mess with us. Do not try to bury the truth. Do not interfere with the free and open pursuit of science. You do so at your peril.

Americans don’t look kindly on bullies, people who try to suppress the truth or people who try to intimidate scientists and the press. In the long run, this always backfires. The dustbin of history is full of people who have tried, and failed. You will too.

The next time you visit the CIA headquarters, I hope you will take a moment to notice their unofficial motto, etched in the walls of the lobby. It says, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John VIII-XXXII.)

It does. And scientists like me, and Americans of all backgrounds, will always fight for it.

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