Monday, August 29, 2016

ATO Victims Education

From UNIAN:
"Cabinet resolves to provide free higher education to children of ATO victims"

The Cabinet of Ministers has ruled that the children of dead members of the Anti-Terrorist Operation shall be admitted to higher educational institutions.The order to provide education was declared in the decree of July 22, 2016 No. 529 was published in the official portal. "To ensure that the children whose parents (one parent) died while participating in the Anti-Terrorist Operation defending the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, or died as a result of injury, concussion or injury received in the Donbas conflict zone, are enrolled in higher education institutions on state order and places within its scope the training of specialists, scientific and pedagogical and skilled workers, on retraining of personnel in 2016, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers by the decree of July 6, 2016 No. 408 (Official Bulletin of Ukraine, 2016, No. 54, Article 1898)," the document says. It is noted that government employees who are engaged in management of higher education institutions are obliged to enroll these children in such institutions.

^ I know many militaries around the world that give free higher education to the children of soldiers wounded or killed while serving. It is a nice way to help the family ease the pain of the disability or death and a way for any country to show their pride in those that protect them. ^

http://www.unian.info/politics/1491811-cabinet-resolves-to-provide-free-higher-education-to-children-of-ato-victims.html

Gene Wilder

From Yahoo:
"Gene Wilder Dead AT 83"



Gene Wilder, the star of such comedy classics as “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles,” has died. He was 83. Wilder’s nephew said Monday that the actor and writer died late Sunday in Stamford, Connecticut from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. The frizzy-haired actor was a master at playing panicked characters caught up in schemes that only a madman such as Mel Brooks could devise, whether reviving a monster in “Young Frankenstein” or bilking Broadway in “The Producers.” But he also knew how to keep it cool as the boozy sheriff in “Blazing Saddles” and as the charming candy man in the children’s favorite “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.”


^  The Oompa Loompas (and the rest of us) lost a friend today. Gene Wilder: 1933-2016. ^


https://www.yahoo.com/movies/gene-wilder-star-willy-wonka-mel-brooks-comedies-191900161.html

Friday, August 26, 2016

EU Army

From the BBC:
"Czechs and Hungarians call for EU army amid security worries"



The leaders of the Czech Republic and Hungary say a "joint European army" is needed to bolster security in the EU. They were speaking ahead of talks in Warsaw with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They dislike her welcome for Muslim migrants from outside the EU. Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban said "we must give priority to security, so let's start setting up a joint European army". The UK government has strongly opposed any such moves outside Nato's scope. The Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak leaders are coordinating their foreign policy as the "Visegrad Group".  Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said building a joint European army would not be easy, but he called for discussion to start on it. The EU has joint defence capabilities in the form of 1,500-strong battle groups, but they have not been tested in combat yet. Last year European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called for a European army to give the EU muscle in confronting threats from Russia or elsewhere.  Slovakia will host an informal EU summit on 16 September to consider the EU's future without the UK.  No UK minister will attend, as the Conservative government is preparing the ground for Brexit, in line with the 23 June vote to leave the 28-nation bloc.Germany wants the Visegrad countries to help house refugees from conflict zones, especially Syria, Iraq and Eritrea, but they oppose an EU quota system.  Germany took in more than a million non-EU migrants last year - a record influx.  Hungary and Slovakia are suing the European Commission at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), calling its quota scheme for distributing refugees illegal. Hungary will hold a referendum on 2 October aimed at showing majority opposition to quotas.  Mr Orban announced plans on Friday to build a second razor-wire fence, taller and stronger than the first, along Hungary's southern border with Serbia.  The second fence would be to keep out any future wave of migrants arriving from the Balkans.



^ I don't really see the EU getting its act together and agreeing to an EU Military. Also, Germany and other countries have had taken in large numbers of refugees and immigrants over the years are now facing violence, crime and terrorist attacks from those same people they once helped. That's something that can't be ignored. It is all well and good to want to help people in need and another to do so art the risk of your own citizens' lives. ^


http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37196802

Forced Separation

From the BBC:
"Canadian couple forced to live apart after 62 years"



An elderly Canadian couple who have been married for 62 years have been forced to live in separate care homes. A photo of Wolfram Gottschalk, 83, and his wife, Anita, 81, went viral after their granddaughter shared their story. Ashley Baryik, 29 said her grandparents have been separated because there is no room for both of them at the same home in Surrey, British Columbia. Mr Gottschalk, who has been diagnosed with lymphoma, is on a waiting list to move into the same home as his wife. In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Ms Baryik posted a touching image of her "Omi and Opi" wiping away tears as they held hands, adding that it was "the saddest photo I have ever taken." The image has been shared more than 6,000 times online.   Ms Baryik explained that her grandparents were separated in January when Mr Gottschalk went to hospital for congestive heart failure.  While waiting to be placed in nursing home, his wife, Anita, also applied for senior assisted living with the aim of joining her husband.  Mrs Gottschalk was placed in a home first while her husband was moved to a transitional facility, where he continues to wait for an open bed at his wife's home. "It's heartbreaking for my grandmother, she wants to bring her husband home every night," Ms Baryik told the BBC.  The couple, who have lived apart for eight months, cry every time they are able to see each other, she added.  "It's been emotionally draining for both of them." Ms Baryik said she appealed for help on Facebook after Mr Gottschalk was diagnosed with lymphoma earlier this week, bringing a new sense of urgency to reunite the couple.   The family blamed the couple's separation on "backlogs and delays by our health care system". Ms Baryik said the family's pleas to Fraser Health had not been answered over the last eight months, but a spokeswoman contacted them on Thursday to say that finding her grandfather a bed was their number one priority.  The outpouring of support, Ms Baryik said, has been overwhelming, but the family refuses to take donations in order to keep the focus on Canada's senior care system.  "Taking money defeats the purpose for fighting for families who can't afford privatised beds," she said.  "We want everyone's focus to be on fixing the system rather than raising money and putting a band-aid on the issue."


^ This is just plain wrong. It shows the true nature of Canada's "great" health care system and those that run it. ^


http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-37198168

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Italian Quake

From the BBC:
"Italy earthquake: Search for survivors as death toll tops 160"




Thousands of rescuers have searched through the night for survivors following Wednesday's earthquake in a mountainous area of central Italy. Many people are still believed to be buried under rubble and more than 4,300 rescuers are using heavy lifting equipment and bare hands to find them. More than 160 people have died and at least 368 were injured, officials said. Many of the victims were children, the health minister said, and there were warnings the toll could rise further.  Among the victims was an 18-month-old toddler, Marisol Piermarini, whose mother Martina Turco survived the deadly 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila and moved away from there after the experience, Italian news agency Ansa reported. Ms Turco was being treated in hospital after being pulled from the rubble in the village of Arquata del Tronto, Ansa said. Late on Wednesday there were cheers in the village of Pescara del Tronto when a young girl was pulled alive from the rubble after being trapped for 17 hours. Almost all the houses there had collapsed, the mayor said.  The 6.2-magnitude quake hit at 03:36 (01:36 GMT) on Wednesday 100km (65 miles) north-east of Rome. Hardest hit were the small towns and villages in the mountainous area where the regions of Umbria, Lazio and Le Marche meet.
People there are spending the night outside or in tents provided by the emergency services.  At least 86 of the victims were in the historic town of Amatrice and in nearby Accumoli. The mayor of Amatrice said three-quarters of the town had been destroyed and no building was safe for habitation. Many of those affected were on holiday in the region. Some were in Amatrice for a festival to celebrate a famous local speciality - amatriciana bacon and tomato sauce.  Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said it had recorded more than 200 aftershocks by 15:00 (13:00 GMT) on Wednesday. The country is no stranger to earthquakes: the 2009 L'Aquila tremor killed more than 300 people and in May 2012 two tremors nine days apart killed more than 20 people in the northern Emilia Romagna region.


^ Unlike other natural disasters (where you can prepare and have some warning) you don't usually have any warning for an earthquake.  I have been in several minor earthquakes, but luckily I live in a region that doesn't get many. Hopefully, the EU and countries around the world will help Italy to both find the victims and help the survivors rebuild. ^

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37181933

25 Years!

From UNIAN:
"Ukraine celebrating 25th anniversary of independence"



A military parade in the center of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, is the main event organized to celebrate Independence Day. Residents of the regional centers can watch a military parade on Khreshchatyk Street on large screens installed in the main squares of their cities. In addition, all regions of Ukraine will simultaneously perform the national anthem today. Earlier today, state leaders congratulated Ukraine and its citizens on the holiday. "Ukraine is 25! This is just the beginning!" Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko wrote on Twitter.


^ Despite all the issues, the annexation of the Crimea by Russia and the on-going war in the Donbass. The Ukrainians have every reason to be proud of their independent country. ^

http://www.unian.info/society/1484841-ukraine-celebrating-25th-anniversary-of-independence.html

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lonely Lessons

From the MT:
"Lonely Moscow Pensioners to Offer Foreigners Russian Lessons"

Lonely Moscow pensioners are eager to help foreigners boost their Russian skills with online conversation groups. Starting in September, “The LinguaLink of Generations” project hopes to unite Russian language learners with elderly Muscovites in conversation over Skype. The project aims to reach elderly people in the city who may otherwise be isolated, as well as giving foreigners an insight into Russian culture. “Our pensioners have lead long and interesting lives,” project co-founder Svetlana Pavshintseva told the m24.ru news website. “They can really share their wisdom. We hope to have more than 30 pairs by the end of the year.” Volunteers will meet with older participants to set up video calling, while foreigners who wish to take part can sign up on the project's website.


^ I think this is a good way to both help the elderly in Russia not feel so lonely and for foreigners who want to practice their Russian. I am a little concerned though anyone over 70 (regardless of their nationality) tends to have difficulties with using the computer. I know I have to answer computer-related questions from my Grandmother and Great-Aunt. ^


https://themoscowtimes.com/news/foreigners-needed-to-reach-lonely-moscow-pensioners-55064

Minsk Carries Russia

From the MT:
"Belarus to Carry Russian Flag at Paralympic Opening Ceremony"

The Belarussian Paralympic team are set to carry Russia's flag at the opening ceremony of the upcoming Paralympic Games. “As the head of the Belarussian Paralympic Committee, I cannot be silent either here or in Brazil,” Oleg Shepel said, the Sputnik Belarus news outlet reported Tuesday. “I have even asked that we carry the Russian flag alongside Belarus' at the opening ceremony in Rio. I am sure that in half a year or so, the Russian Paralympic Committee will be receiving an apology.” The move is to show solidarity with Russia's disabled athletes, who were banned from taking part in this year's Games by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The IPC made the announcement on Aug. 7 after damning reports surfaced of widespread, state-sponsored doping within Russian sport. Their decision was later upheld by The Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) on Tuesday following an appeal. The IPC decision has caused widespread controversy both in Russia and abroad, with top Russian officials calling the ban “cruel and inhumane.”  The International Olympic Committee faced similar calls to ban the Russian squad, but ultimately gave the decision on individual athletes' eligibility to their respective sporting federations. Russia came fourth in this year's Olympic medal table, despite almost all of their track-and-field athletes being barred from taking part. The Paralympic Games are due to begin in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro on Sept. 7.


^ No country should be allowed to carry the flag of another country or have the other country's national anthem played for them. This is clearly a ploy made from Moscow on Minsk. They couldn't over-turn the ruling from the Paralympic Committee like they did with the IOC and so are resorting to other tactics as they often tend to. I feel sorry for the Russian athletes that weren't involved in their government's doping scandal. I have seen firsthand how the disabled are treated and discriminated against in Russia and every time athletes are shown in a positive light in Russian media it helps off-set some of the hostility they face in everyday life. I do believe the team should be banned for what happened (they should have been banned in the Olympics as well) but I also think any athlete who gets an independent test for doping and passes with no problems should be allowed and encouraged to compete on their own. ^


https://themoscowtimes.com/news/belarus-to-carry-russian-flag-at-paralympic-opening-ceremony-55079

Required Encouragement

From the DW:
"Report: Germany to require citizens to stockpile supplies in case of catastrophe"

 A civil defense plan to be debated by the cabinet would require citizens to stockpile supplies in case of a catastrophe. The plan says people should prepare for an unlikely event that "could threaten our existence." For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the German government plans to encourage its citizens to prepare for a catastrophe or an armed attack by stockpiling food, water and other supplies, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" reported on Sunday. Citing the government's "Concept for Civil Defense" paper to be discussed by the cabinet on Wednesday, the government will require people to stock 10 days' worth of food and five days' worth of drinking water.  The civil defense strategy would require citizens to have a sufficient supply of food, water, energy, money and medicine to wait out a period until the state would be able to initiate a response to a catastrophe or attack. A spokesperson from the interior ministry declined to comment on the contents of the paper until a Wednesday press conference. The 69-page report said an armed attack on Germany was unlikely. However, as a precaution people should "prepare appropriately for a development that could threaten our existence and cannot be categorically ruled out in the future," FAS quoted the report as saying. The civil defense strategy was originally commissioned by a parliamentary committee in 2012, but its release comes amid a raft of new security measures in the country.


^ I keep hearing two different things (in this article as well as on other media sites.) They say the German Government will "require" and then later on use the word "encourage.") Those have two different meanings. Hopefully, when the report is made official it will have a more precise tone. ^


http://www.dw.com/en/report-germany-to-require-citizens-to-stockpile-supplies-in-case-of-catastrophe/a-19491176

Black Ribbon Day!



Today is Black Ribbon Day (The Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism/Communism and Nazism) in the EU, Georgia, Canada and the US.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Eclipse Countdown

From USA Today:
"The 'Great American Eclipse' is a year from today"



Got eclipse fever? You're going to need to wait a bit. The biggest and best solar eclipse in American history arrives a year from today, and plans for celebrations, parties and festivities are already well underway. Organizers of the Oregon SolarFest are calling it "a rare, mind-blowing cosmic experience," while Nashville promises visitors "a once-in-a-lifetime celestial event." On Aug. 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible from coast to coast, according to NASA. It will be the first total eclipse visible only in the USA since the country was founded in 1776. It will also be the first total solar eclipse to sweep across the entire country in 99 years, NASA says. And not since 1970 has there been an opportunity to see a total solar eclipse in such easily accessible and widespread areas of the nation. Atotal solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets in the way of the sun, turning day to an eerie twilight. Barring pesky clouds, more Americans should be able to see this one than ever before as it passes through 12 states. The eclipse will start on the West Coast in Oregon and trace a 67-mile wide path east across the country, finally exiting the East Coast in South Carolina. At any given location, the total eclipse will last for around 2 or 3 minutes. It will pass directly over cities such as Salem, Ore., Idaho Falls, Lincoln, Neb., Kansas City, Nashville, and Columbia and Charleston, S.C. Places within a one- or two-hour drive of the eclipse include Portland, Ore., Boise, Cheyenne, Rapid City, Omaha, Neb., Topeka, St. Louis, Louisville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Atlanta and Charlotte.  An estimated 12 million people live within the path of totality, according to Space.com. The number of people within just one day's drive of the totality zone is around 200 million. Outside the narrow shadow track, a partial eclipse will be visible from all of North America, parts of South America, western Europe and Africa, according to eclipse expert Fred Espenak. Nashville, the largest city directly in the eclipse path, is gearing up with special programs and activities. The city's convention and visitors bureau launched a slick website devoted to the eclipse, which they're calling the "Music City Solar Eclipse." The SolarFest in Oregon is a four-day event, even though the total eclipse will be less than three minutes. In Idaho Falls, the local astronomical society has fielded calls from Scotland, Germany and Japan about ideal eclipse viewing locations and lodging in the area, according to the Post Register newspaper. And in Columbia, S.C., the city is expecting and preparing for visitors to come to the region due to its unique location in the path and "to celebrate and witness the spectacle of totality," said Merritt McNeely of the South Carolina State Museum. Many smaller towns across the eclipse's path are also planning celebrations. Folks who miss this eclipse won't have to wait too long for the next one: A total solar eclipse will be visible across portions of the southern and eastern U.S. on April 8, 2024.



^ I don't live in the direct path of the eclipse, but that's ok. While it sounds cool to see I'm not holding my breath waiting a year for it to come. ^


http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/sciencefair/2016/08/21/total-solar-eclipse-august-2017/88514886/

Easing Flights

From the Las Vegas Review Journal:
"Wave goodbye to most limits on US-Mexico flights"

 Most restrictions on flights between the U.S. and Mexico will lift on Sunday, a change expected to bring more options and possibly lower prices for travelers. American, Delta and Southwest have already announced that they will offer new flights across the border later this year. United is watching the demand for flights and will respond accordingly, a spokesman said. The United States and Mexico agreed in December to open their aviation markets to each other’s carriers. Rules that had generally limited two or three airlines from each country to a particular route will go away. Airlines on both sides of the border will be able to fly whatever routes they want as often as they want and set their own prices, said Thomas Engle, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for transportation. The agreement between the U.S. and Mexico does not relax limits on takeoffs and landings at Mexico City’s busy main international airport. So the first new flights from U.S. carriers will focus on resort towns in Mexico. Delta Air Lines Inc. announced Friday that on Dec. 17 it will start daily nonstop flights between New York’s Kennedy airport and Cancun and between Los Angeles and Los Cabos. It will run Saturday flights between Kansas City and Cancun. Southwest Airlines Co. announced that on Dec. 4 it will start flying daily from Los Angeles to Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta. Southwest plans to fly from Oakland, California, to Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta starting in February if it gets approval from the Mexican government. American Airlines Group Inc. will begin flying between Miami and Merida on the Yucatan peninsula on Nov. 4 and from Los Angeles to Cancun and Puerto Vallarta on Dec. 15, a spokesman said. The agreement also covers cargo airlines. It will let U.S. cargo carriers fly from airports in Mexico to other countries without stopping in the United States.


^ I've been to Mexico and didn't care for it and don't think I will ever go back there, but lots of other people seem to like it so hopefully these new relaxations will be good for them. ^


http://www.reviewjournal.com/business/aviation/wave-goodbye-most-limits-us-mexico-flights

US Count

I put the medal count for all the countries in a previous post, but wanted a separate one for the United States. Again, the Closing Ceremonies are tonight so things may change just slightly, but the fact is that Team USA did the best (despite the stupid actions of a few athletes outside the Olympics - at least our Government didn't force us to use illegal substances that will forever tarnish our reputation.  The US got 118 total medals (that's 52 more total medals than the second best country.) Out of that 118 the US got 43 gold medals (that's 16 more gold medals than the second best country.) Makes you wonder why any other countries or teams wasted their time and money to show up. Just like everything else in the world leave it to the US to show you how it's done. Hopefully, we can continue this winning streak in the Paralympics which start September 18th.

Medal Count

From Wikipedia:
"2016 Summer Olympics Medal Count"


2016 Summer Olympics medal table
 Rank NOCGoldSilverBronzeTotal
1 United States (USA)433737117
2 Great Britain (GBR)27221766
3 China (CHN)26182468
4 Russia (RUS)18171853
5 Germany (GER)17101441
6 Japan (JPN)1282141
7 France (FRA)9171440
8 South Korea (KOR)93921
9 Australia (AUS)8111029
10 Italy (ITA)811726
11 Netherlands (NED)86418
12 Hungary (HUN)83415
13 Spain (ESP)74516
14 Brazil (BRA)*66618
15 Kenya (KEN)66113
16 Jamaica (JAM)63211
17 Croatia (CRO)5319
18 Cuba (CUB)52411
19 New Zealand (NZL)49518
20 Canada (CAN)431522
21 Kazakhstan (KAZ)35715
22 Colombia (COL)3238
23 Switzerland (SUI)3227
24 Iran (IRI)3148
25 Greece (GRE)3126
26 Argentina (ARG)3104
27 Sweden (SWE)26311
28 South Africa (RSA)26210
29 Ukraine (UKR)25411
30 Poland (POL)23611
31 North Korea (PRK)2327
 Serbia (SRB)2327
33 Uzbekistan (UZB)2259
34 Belgium (BEL)2226
 Thailand (THA)2226
36 Slovakia (SVK)2204
37 Georgia (GEO)2147
38 Denmark (DEN)16714
39 Azerbaijan (AZE)141015
40 Belarus (BLR)1449
41 Turkey (TUR)1348
42 Armenia (ARM)1304
43 Czech Republic (CZE)12710
44 Ethiopia (ETH)1258
45 Slovenia (SLO)1214
46 Indonesia (INA)1203
47 Romania (ROU)1124
48 Bahrain (BRN)1102
 Vietnam (VIE)1102
50 Chinese Taipei (TPE)1023
51 Bahamas (BAH)1012
 Ivory Coast (CIV)1012
 Independent Olympic Athletes (IOA)1012
54 Fiji (FIJ)1001
 Jordan (JOR)1001
 Kosovo (KOS)1001
 Puerto Rico (PUR)1001
 Singapore (SIN)1001
 Tajikistan (TJK)1001
60 Malaysia (MAS)0415
61 Mexico (MEX)0325
62 Algeria (ALG)0202
 Ireland (IRL)0202
64 Lithuania (LTU)0134
65 Bulgaria (BUL)0123
66 India (IND)0112
 Mongolia (MGL)0112
 Venezuela (VEN)0112
69 Burundi (BDI)0101
 Grenada (GRN)0101
 Niger (NIG)0101
 Philippines (PHI)0101
 Qatar (QAT)0101
74 Norway (NOR)0044
75 Egypt (EGY)0033
 Tunisia (TUN)0033
77 Israel (ISR)0022
78 Austria (AUT)0011
 Dominican Republic (DOM)0011
 Estonia (EST)0011
 Finland (FIN)0011
 Morocco (MAR)0011
 Nigeria (NGR)0011
 Portugal (POR)0011
 Trinidad and Tobago (TTO)0011
 United Arab Emirates (UAE)0011
Total (86 NOCs)298298345941






^ The Closing Ceremonies are today so the totals may change just a little until then, but this shows the general count. Of course the US did the best. ^


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Summer_Olympics_medal_table