Climate deal signed

In New York today 175 nations signed the Paris climate accord reached last December.

That is far more than had done so on a single day for any previous global agreement — but it still is also only a step toward the accord becoming international law.

For that to happen, at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions have to formally “join” or approve it within their national governments, some by executive action, others through legislative action. That process alone could take into 2017, though U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry suggested late Friday that the goal could be within reach this year. The United States plans to join the agreement this year, by executive action.

One more reason why it’s so important for the Democrats to win the Presidential election this fall and to flip the Senate and as many House seats as possible. A Republican win would probably mean a reversal of the actions this Administration takes to meet its obligations, since that party refuses to acknowledge that climate change is even occurring.

Flint’s water pipes are just fine

So said 47 Senate Republicans when they voted today against providing federal aid for children affected by the lead in those pipes. They claim they want to help Flint but they cannot agree on a funding mechanism. Meanwhile, the pipes are still corroding thanks to the junk that was in the Flint River water.

Even if they find a way to pay for it, Senator Mike Lee of Utah still has a hold on the main $220M relief bill for the city. Why? He claims that Michigan should spend its rainy-day fund down to fix the problem. Apparently he can’t distinguish between a loan and a grant. The bill specifies that the money will have to be paid back to the Feds. The city and state would rather borrow at today’s extraordinarily low interest rates than spend its emergency funds.

That right there is the same attitude that has kept conservative politicians from embarking on infrastructure programs for the entire country. Money’s cheaper than it’s been in years, but deficits!

Stupid people.

Who was Harriet Tubman?

For starters, here’s a 2:47 minute mini-biography of her:

She was born in Maryland in 1820 and escaped from slavery in 1849 with two of her brothers. For reasons I can’t imagine, her brothers returned to the plantation from which they’d run. She accompanied them back there and then

made use of the network known as the Underground Railroad to travel nearly 90 miles to Philadelphia. She crossed into the free state of Pennsylvania with a feeling of relief and awe, and recalled later: “When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.”

[snip]

Over time, she was able to guide her parents, several siblings and about 60 others to freedom.

[snip]

Harriet Tubman remained active during the Civil War. Working for the Union Army as a cook and nurse, Tubman quickly became an armed scout and spy. The first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the Combahee River Raid, which liberated more than 700 slaves in South Carolina.

She died in 1913 of pneumonia, on land she owned in Auburn, NY. She was buried in the town with full military honors in recognition of her wartime service.

Old photo cards reveal surprises

For example, here’s a picture of my sister and me in the kitchen, Thanksgiving 2006.

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My Aunt Marie passed away in December; there was a memorial for her held this past weekend in Phoenix. I was unable to attend, but one of my cousins is a pro photographer and he took a lot of pictures. He put them in Dropbox for me but I wanted to download them to a card for printing. I started hunting cards and found a 16MB one with about 35 pictures from 2005-2006. This one came from that.

Avian visitors

Last May I looked out my kitchen window and I saw this green bird perched on our bird feeder. That was very unusual, so much so that I doubted I’d ever see that again.

Wrong, pigeon-breath!

He or another of his kind appeared again. More than that, if you look at the top right, the head of another like him is visible as he’s flying toward the feeder. If I’d known I might have been able to wait a millisecond longer and I could have caught him in full flight.

The picture’s a little fuzzy because I was taking it through glass and I might have shaken the camera a little, too.

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Then parakeet number two landed and settled down for some breakfast as well.

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Looking at the necks of these birds I think last year’s conclusion that they are Rose-ringed parakeets is correct. They’re not indigenous to Hawai’i — no parrots or parakeets are. But there’s apparently a stable population here, probably a result of introduced pets that have been either released or escaped. They were pictured in a 2013 Honolulu Magazine article about birds which can be seen in urban Honolulu, and that bird resembles the ones in my photos very much.

Just stop it, willya?

I would really be interested in learning just how many of the people bitching about a former First Lady and Secretary of State’s speaking fees after she left those positions would turn down offers from industry groups to do the same. I include Senator Sanders and a bucketload of journalists.

Reagan collected $2M for two speeches to a Japanese communications conglomerate. GWB has made at least $15M speaking to private groups just through 2011 (Daily Beast, May 2011). Sure, Bill Clinton made a bunch of money making speeches after he left office, but so have most Presidents since Jerry Ford. Donald Trump, HRC’s probable opponent in the fall, was paid $1.5M for speeches to the Learning Annex’s real estate expos in 2006 and 2007.

Why pay such large sums of money to hear someone speak? Company meetings, industry conventions and educational seminars can be ho-hum affairs. Few things can inject a jolt of excitement–or draw a paying crowd–quite like a famous speaker or someone with a compelling story to tell.

[snip]

“Someone who’s truly brilliant” as a speaker will always do well with an audience, Berg [SVP and head of the lecture department at the William Morris Agency in New York] says. But, she adds, “by and large, it’s really about being in the room with someone that they really want to be with.”

Well, that lets out most of the journalists. I can’t think of a one I’d like to be in the same room with at this point of the campaign.

Wildfire!

You know how some songs get played and played and played until you’re fed up with them?

This song was one of them.

Now, forty years later, it’s not so bad.

NBA News

I am not much of a pro basketball fan at any time of the year, not even during the playoffs. Nonetheless, tonight there were two compelling stories from the league. First, could the Golden State Warriors defeat the Memphis Grizzlies to get their 73rd win of the season in 82 games to pass the previous record of 72 set by the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls of 1995-1996? Yes they could. They did it with their star Stephen Curry making 402 3-point shots in a single season, blowing right past the previous record of 286 set just last year by, you guessed it, Curry.

That was one of the big stories. The second story was this: tonight Los Angeles Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant was to play the final game of his 20-year career. He’s been missing most of the last two seasons, sidelined by injuries each year. This year he’s been physically healthy but not very good, and the Lakers have been just as bad as he has. Bryant made only 35.4% of his shots this year, far below his career average of 44.7%. The Lakers finished last in the Western Conference, winning only 17 games and losing 65. Tonight, though, it was as if the Lakers and Bryant reverted to their form of five or six years ago. Bryant scored 60 points (!) in his last game and led the Lakers to a 101-96 upset over the Utah Jazz.

The Commissioner of the league was probably so happy he turned backflips.