Friday, March 31, 2017

UN Out

From the DW:
"UN suspends missions to Gaza after Hamas shuts border"

The United Nations is to trim its work in the Palestinian territory after Hamas partially closed Gaza's Erez foot crossing. A search of Gaza continues after the mysterious murder of a senior Hamas military figure. A regional UN source said on Friday the organization was frustrated about the impact of last weekend's border closure between Gaza and Israel on aid work and its attempts to negotiate the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process (UNSCO) will not send staff to Gaza until further notice, the source told the news agency Agence France-Presse. The border restrictions also affect UNSCO's envoy Nickolay Mladenov. The Islamic militant group Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, shut the crossing after blaming the Jewish state for the assassination of a senior military figure near his home last Friday. Israel has not commented on the killing. Officials said restrictions at Erez, which is the only pedestrian land border between Israel and Gaza, would remain in place until further notice. Movement in and out of Gaza is already tightly restricted by Israel and Egypt, who have maintained a blockade on the coastal territory since Hamas took power a decade ago. Although the crossing was partially reopened a day later, men between 18 and 45 are still prevented from leaving the enclave, as a manhunt for Faqha's killer continues. Half a dozen international aid workers were also stopped at the border, which led more than 100 NGOs and rights groups to demand the crossing urgently be reopened. Around two thirds of Gaza's residents rely on aid to survive, according to UN figures. Despite Israel's own blockade, it does grant hundreds of permits for medical, educational, business and other reasons per week. The World Health Organization said on Thursday that 79 patients have missed medical appointments, meaning they will have to reapply for hard-to-get travel permits from Israel. One resident, Abu Aassi, said that he ended up missing an appointment that had taken him three weeks to wangle. "I totally understand the situation, but there also has to be a solution to the situation," he appealed to Hamas. Other Gaza residents have complained after some 3,000 fishermen were banned from going to sea, leaving local shops without supplies. "The fish market is almost empty, and this is because of the closure of the sea," said Zakareya Bakker, a 45-year-old fisherman. The leader of a local business association says he was in contact with authorities to try to improve daily life while the blockade remains in place.

^ I don't understand why the UN is so shocked that Hamas would do this. Hamas is an internationally-recognized terrorist group that has governed the Gaza Strip for years. The UN shouldn't even be in the Gaza Strip as long as Hamas is ruling things. Being there is the same as helping the  terrorists. The Palestinians of the Gaza Strip voted Hamas in knowing they were electing terrorists and so they get what they voted for. The UN should focus its attention on the Palestinians in the West Bank instead. They didn't elect Hamas and so aren't officially supporting internationally-recognized terrorists. ^

No Spring

^I  got this from a friend. It seemed fitting with the current snow storm. ^

Expanding Sensory

From Disability Scoop:
"Chuck E. Cheese’s Expands Sensory-Friendly Offerings"

Citing “overwhelming” interest, Chuck E. Cheese’s says that it will expand its efforts to be more accessible to kids with autism and other disabilities nationwide. The children’s entertainment center will offer “Sensory Sensitive Sundays” at its 355 locations across the country beginning in April. For the once-a-month events, Chuck E. Cheese’s welcomes kids with autism and other sensory issues two hours before opening to the general public. During these times, the lights are dimmed, music is turned down or muted and appearances by characters are more limited.  “Our tagline is where a kid can be a kid, and we want to ensure we extend this ideal to kids who otherwise may not be able to enjoy Chuck E. Cheese’s due to the sensory overload,” said Ami Anderson, senior director of advertising and media at CEC Entertainment, the restaurant chain’s parent company. Chuck E. Cheese’s first conducted a pilot of Sensory Sensitive Sundays in Attleboro, Mass. before rolling out the program at 54 locations in the Northeast earlier this year. Sensory Sensitive Sundays will be held on the first Sunday of each month beginning April 2.

^ Glad to see this is catching-on. ^


The latest session of TAR just aired and so far it seems like a good one. There are no pre-set teams. Instead everyone is a stranger and had to complete a challenge to decide the order in which they picked their partner. A previous season has a "first date" part where teams didn't know each other, but they didn't randomly pick their teams. They went to Panama City, Panama and had to find the Panama Canal and it seemed no one in the capital knew the Panama Canal (called Canal de Panam√° in Spanish) which was pretty funny. As for the teams. I think Seth and Olive will go very far if not win the Race. He's a police officer and she's a firewoman and they seem to have both strength and intelligence. I also like Matt and Redmond. He (Matt) is a pro-snowboarder and Redmond was a soldier and now motivational speaker. They both just seem to have what it takes and hopefully that will work for them. The butcher/autioneer  team and the rock climber/student team don't seem to have what it will take to win the Race and are a little annoying (maybe that will change as the show porgresses - maybe not.) The first team eliminated (the model and trainer) didn't seem to really want to be in the Race or at least not to win, but have a fun time. I have been watching TAR from the beginning and even after all these years the show still manages to be good and entertaining.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


From the BBC:
"US beefs up muscle in Somalia fight"

President Donald Trump has given the US military greater authority to attack militants in Somalia.
The US provides military support to Somalia in its fight against al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda affiliate, which is waging an armed insurgency in the country. The head of US forces in Africa had asked for more flexibility and faster responses. A Pentagon spokesman said the White House had approved its request for "additional precision fired". This effectively means US special forces will be able to call in air strikes more quickly and accompany partner troops in more advanced positions, US media report.  "The additional support provided by this authority will help deny al-Shabab safe havens from which it could attack US citizens or US interests in the region," said Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis.

^ This only makes sense. Wherever the US Military is sent to fight or advise it should be allowed to protect itself no matter what. ^

Tired Snow

^ This is the 7th Friday in a row where we have/will receive at least 1 foot of snow.  It's Friday - I'm not in love. ^

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Article 50

From the BBC:
"'No turning back' on Brexit as Article 50 triggered"

Britain's departure from the EU is "an historic moment from which there can be no turning back", Theresa May has said. She was speaking after Britain's EU ambassador formally triggered the two year exit process by handing a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk.  A sombre-looking Mr Tusk said it was not a "happy day" for him or the EU. The European Parliament warned security cooperation was not on the table as it fired its opening salvo in what are expected to be tough negotiations.   In her letter to Mr Tusk triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, Mrs May said failure to reach a trade deal within the two-year time limit could "weaken" cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism. But Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's chief Brexit negotiator, said he would not accept any attempt to "bargain" between trade and security, adding: "I think the security of our citizens is far too important to start a trade off from one for the other." Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said the UK could end intelligence-sharing with Europol, the EU policing agency, if there was no agreement. But in an interview with the BBC's Andrew Neil, on BBC One, Mrs May said on security that she "would like to be able to maintain the degree of co-operation on these matters that we have currently". Downing Street insisted Mrs May's comments were not intended as a threat to EU negotiators, saying it was a "simple fact" the existing arrangements would lapse if Britain left the EU without a deal. But opposition MPs accused her of jeopardising public safety by attempting to use security co-operation as a "bargaining chip" in the forthcoming negotiations.  Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty gives both sides two years to reach agreement so, unless the UK and the 27 remaining EU member states agree to extend the deadline for talks, the UK will leave on 29 March 2019, a Friday. At a press conference in Brussels, Donald Tusk held up Mrs May's letter, saying: "We already miss you." In a brief statement, he said it was not "a happy day" for him or for the EU and promised to begin arrangements for the UK's "orderly withdrawal". He said the EU's aim in negotiations was "damage limitation" and to "minimise costs" for EU citizens, businesses and member states. In a statement in the Commons, Mrs May said: "Today the government acts on the democratic will of the British people and it acts too on the clear and convincing position of this House."  She added: "The Article 50 process is now under way and in accordance with the wishes of the British people the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. "This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back." She said Britain would now make its own decisions and its own laws and "take control of the things that matter most to us - we are going to take this opportunity to build a stronger, fairer Britain, a country that our children and grandchildren are proud to call home".  She told MPs that this marks "the moment for the country to come together". Mrs May said it was a "moment of celebration for some, disappointment for others" and promised to "represent every person in the whole United Kingdom" during the negotiations - including EU nationals, whose status after Brexit has yet to be settled.  She said that while the UK would remain the "best friend and neighbour" to its EU partners, it would also look beyond the borders of Europe, saying the country can "look forward with optimism and hope and to believe in the enduring power of the British spirit".
"I choose to believe in Britain and that our best days lie ahead." A six-page letter from Mrs May triggering Article 50 was handed to European Council President Donald Tusk by the UK's ambassador to the EU Sir Tim Barrow.

Up for discussion

  • Trade: The UK will withdraw from the single market and seek a new customs arrangement and a free trade agreement with the EU
  • Expats: The government wants to secure an agreement with European countries "at the earliest opportunity" on the rights of EU nationals in the UK and Britons living in Europe
  • Brexit bill: The UK government has promised to honour its obligations as it leaves, but has brushed off claims these could run to £50bn
  • Northern Ireland border: Aiming for "as seamless and frictionless a border as possible between Northern Ireland and Ireland"
  • Sovereignty: Britain will leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice but seek to set up separate resolution mechanisms for things like trade disputes
  • Security: The UK government has said it wants to continue to cooperate on security and intelligence-sharing
  • Transitional deal: An interim arrangement may be needed before the final arrangements come into force
^ It has begun. ^

Joke Snow

This is a sick April Fool's joke. March: in like a lion, out like a lion.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Rescued Dogs

From the BBC:
"Condemned' South Korean dogs find sanctuary in the US"

Dozens of dogs that were due to be slaughtered for human consumption have been rescued from South Korea and taken to New York where they will be adopted as pets, animal rights activists say. The 46 underfed dogs were found in a farm north of Seoul where they awaited death in dirty and dark cages, the Humane Society International said. The dogs will be placed in emergency shelters before being adopted.  Eating dog meat is commonplace in parts of east Asia.  In South Korea it is a culinary tradition, particularly at the height of summer when three days are designated as special festivals and dishes of dog are served, usually in a highly spiced stew. Western campaigners who consider the animals to be household pets have in recent years tried to disrupt the trade by staging mass rescues.   Activists say the farm from where the latest batch of animals was rescued was in the city of Goyang and was "like a dungeon". "There was very little light and little to no ventilation so the stench of ammonia would bring tears to your eyes when you walked through,'' Humane Society International (HSI) spokeswoman Kelly O'Meara said.  HSI on its website says that it reached an agreement with the husband-and-wife dog farmers to permanently close the farm and fly all of the animals to the US on a chartered flight. The charity says it's necessary to take the animals abroad because there is little to no demand for them in South Korea as pets. The signs are that dog consumption in South Korea is beginning to drop. Seoul once had 1,500 restaurants serving dog, but that figure fell to about 700 by 2015.  But there are still an estimated 17,000 dog farms in South Korea, where it is thought about two million dogs are eaten every year.

^ I will never understand how anyone can eat "man's best friend." I'm glad that these 46 underfed dogs were rescued and only hope that all the others in South Korea and the rest of eastern Asia can either be saved or laws put into place to stop their consumption by humans. My mom once told me a story of when she was living in Seoul, South Korea (where my dad was stationed.) They lived in a regular Korean apartment (there wasn't much for American servicemembers and their families at the time) and had a Korean maid. My mom kept hearing little noises coming from the maid's bag and when she finally asked the maid about the noise the maid took out a small dog. My mom was scared that the maid had brought her "lunch" (after hearing Koreans ate dogs) but the maid was bringing her small dog to work so that it wouldn't be eaten while she was away. That is the kind of person that truly loves dogs and we need a lot more of them. ^

Sarcasm Detector

2nd Scottish Call

From the BBC:
"Scottish Parliament backs referendum call"

Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second referendum on independence for Scotland has been formally backed by the Scottish Parliament. MSPs voted by 69 to 59 in favour of seeking permission for a referendum before the UK leaves the EU. Ms Sturgeon says the move is needed to allow Scotland to decide what path to follow in the wake of the Brexit vote.  But the UK government has already said it will block a referendum until after the Brexit process has been completed.  Prime Minister Theresa May, who met Ms Sturgeon for talks in Glasgow on Monday, has repeatedly insisted that "now is not the time" for a referendum. Her Scottish secretary, David Mundell, has said that the timescale could include "the Brexit process, the journey of leaving and people being able to understand what the UK's new relationship with the EU is, so they can make an informed choice if there was ever to be another referendum  But Ms Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, said her mandate for another vote was now "beyond question", and warned it would be "democratically indefensible and utterly unsustainable" to attempt to stand in the way. She told a debate ahead of the Holyrood vote that she was not seeking confrontation with the UK government, and only wanted "sensible discussions".   Ms Sturgeon said: "My argument is simply this: when the nature of the change that is made inevitable by Brexit becomes clear, that change should not be imposed upon us, we should have the right to decide the nature of that change. "The people of Scotland should have the right to choose between Brexit - possibly a very hard Brexit - or becoming an independent country, able to chart our own course and create a true partnership of equals across these islands." She added: "I hope the UK government will respect the will of this parliament. If it does so, I will enter discussion in good faith and with a willingness to compromise.  "However, if it chooses not to do so I will return to the parliament following the Easter recess to set out the steps that the Scottish government will take to progress the will of parliament."  The two-day debate in the Scottish Parliament started last week but was suspended as news of the terror attack at Westminster emerged. MSPs were asked to mandate the Scottish government to take forward discussions with the UK government on the details of a section 30 order, which is needed to make a referendum legally binding.  Ms Sturgeon's minority SNP government was backed by the pro-independence Scottish Greens in the vote, with the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems opposed.  The first minister is now expected to make the formal request for a section 30 later this week - after Mrs May formally starts the Brexit process on Wednesday by triggering Article 50.  Scottish voters rejected independence by 55% to 45% in a referendum in 2014, but Ms Sturgeon believes the UK voting to leave the EU is a material change in circumstances which means people should again be asked the question.

^ This does seem like the right time for a 2nd independence vote. I wouldn't say the same if the majority of Scottish residents had not voted to remain within the EU, but they did and since the majority of English and Welsh residents voted to leave the EU the UK is leaving the EU. Putting off the independence vote until after the Brexit is a bad idea because it doesn't take into account the needs and wants of the Scots and only makes a "united"front with the EU in name only and not in reality. The Brexit vote has thrown Scotland, Northern Ireland, London and Gibraltar further away from a "united" kingdom and that's sad, but to simply disregard what the majority of their residents is wrong. The UK needs to fix itself internally before it can "stand-up" for itself against the EU and get the best Brexit deal it can. ^

Legal CDN Pot

From the BBC:
"Canada to legalise marijuana 'by 2018'"

Recreational marijuana use could be legal in Canada by 1 July 2018 under coming legislation, according to reports.  The federal government will table legislation to legalise marijuana by April, public broadcaster CBC is reporting.  Sources told the CBC that members of the governing Liberal party were recently briefed on the timeline.  The party has long promised they would have legislation ready by spring.  The CBC said the new regulations would broadly follow recommendations released in December by a federally-appointed pot task force. Those recommendations included proposals that Canada should permit the sale of recreational marijuana to people over age 18 and tax pot products based on potency.   The task force also recommended adults be allowed to grow up to four plants and possess 30 grams of dried cannabis.  According to the CBC, the federal government will oversee the supply of the drug and continue to license producers, while the provinces would determine its means of distribution and sale.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's promise to legalise recreational marijuana has fuelled investment and speculation in the cannabis sector. Cultivators like Aphria, OrganiGram Holdings, and Canopy Growth, currently Canada's largest medical marijuana producer, have become stock market darlings. Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001 and is grown by 40 federally licensed producers.  Canadians, especially the young, are among the world's biggest users of marijuana.  Ottawa says legal pot under a new strict regulation regime will make it easier to keep it away from young people, to pull profits from organised crime, to reduce the burden on police and the justice system, and to improve public health. If the law is passed, Canada will be the largest developed country to end recreational marijuana prohibition.

^ I have said it before and will continue to say it: I don't think it's a good idea to make recreational pot legal. I have been to states where recreational pot is legal and you can see a difference (not in a good way.) Marijuana should only be legal for medical purposes and not only legal, but easy and cheap to get for those with the proper prescription. ^

Canada Visa-Free

From Wikipedia:
"Visa requirements for Canadian citizens"

Visa requirements for Canadian citizens
  Visa not required
  Visa on arrival
  Limited visa on arrival
  Electronic authorization or online payment required / eVisa
  Visa required prior to arrival

^ Canadians can travel to every European country visa-free except for Turkey (online visa needed) and Russia (limited visa on arrival.) Canadians can travel visa-free in North America (for those that consider the Caribbean part of South America.) ^

US Visa-Free

From Wikipedia:
"Visa requirements for United States citizens"


Countries and territories with visa-free or visa-on-arrival entries for holders of regular United States passports
  U.S. states and insular areas are domestic
  Visa free access
  Visa issued upon arrival or visa-free entry upon arrival with payment of reciprocity fee
  Electronic authorization or online payment required / eVisa
  Visa required prior to arrival

^  I've been asked so here's a summary map. As you can see Americans have visa-free access to every European country except for Turkey (online visa needed) and Russia (limited visa on arrival.) Americans also have visa-free travel to all of North America (for those that consider the Caribbean part of South America.) ^

Stand Law

From Wikipedia:
"Stand-your-ground law"

A stand-your-ground law (sometimes called "line in the sand" or "no duty to retreat" law) is a justification in a criminal case, whereby defendants can "stand their ground" and use force without retreating, in order to protect and defend themselves or others against threats or perceived threats. An example is where there is no duty to retreat from any place where they have a lawful right to be, and that they may use any level of force if they reasonably believe the threat rises to the level of being an imminent and immediate threat of serious bodily harm or death. One case describes "the 'stand your ground' law... a person has a right to expect absolute safety in a place they have a right to be, and may use deadly force to repel an unlawful intruder." Justification using stand-your-ground laws may be limited in that the justification cannot be used in some cases where defendant was engaged in other illegal conduct at the time, when "[the defendant] was engaged in illegal activities and not entitled to benefit from provisions of the 'stand your ground' law". This castle doctrine gives immunity from liability to individuals (ie., there is no duty to retreat) when an intruder enters their home. Of these, twenty-two jurisdictions have also extended the immunity to other locations, some extending it to anywhere where a person may legally be.Other restrictions may still exist, however. For example, a person carrying a firearm or other weapon in public (whether concealed or openly) must do so in a legal manner.

In The US:

Stand your ground law by US jurisdiction
  Stand-your-ground law
  Stand-your-ground in practice
  Stand-your-ground from within one's vehicle
  Castle doctrine only; duty to retreat in public
  Duty to retreat

The states that have legislatively adopted stand-your-ground laws are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana,  Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina (Stand Your Ground law (N.C.G.S. 14 51.3)), North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania,[ South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin.
The states that have adopted stand-your-ground in practice, either through case law/precedent, jury instructions or by other means, are California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia,[ and Washington.

In England and Wales:

The common law jurisdiction of England and Wales has a stand-your-ground law rooted in the common law defence of using reasonable force in self-defence. At English common law there is no duty to retreat before a person may use reasonable force against an attacker, nor need a person wait to be attacked before using such force. n both cases force used must be reasonable in the circumstances as the person perceived them to be, unless the person is attacked in their own home, whereupon force will only be regarded as unreasonable if it was "grossly disproportionate.

In Germany:

German law allows self-defense against an unlawful attack. If there is no other possibility for defense, it is generally allowed to use even deadly force without a duty to retreat. However, there must not be an extreme inadequacy ("extremes Missverhältnis") between the defended right and the chosen way of defense. In particular, in case of the use of firearms there must be given a warning shot when defending solely a material asset. Nevertheless, because of the low circulation of firearms in Germany the impact of this law is not all that strong.

^ Stand Your Ground Laws are there to protect your family and your property. I don't understand the laws that say you have to retreat. If you are in danger of being hurt then you should be legally allowed to defend yourself with any means. ^

Standing Ground

From the BBC:
"Three teenage burglars shot dead in US"

Three teenagers who broke into a home in Oklahoma were killed by the homeowner's son firing an assault-style AR-15, say police. "They were dressed in black, all had masks on, and all had gloves on," Deputy Nick Mahoney told reporters. The intruders - who police say were armed with brass knuckles and a knife - were shot by a 23-year-old man in an act of "self-defence", officers said. The son may not face charges due to so-called stand your ground laws. "This may be a case of 'stand-your-ground,' however, it's still too early to say for sure, and we're still looking into all aspects of this," Mr Mahoney told local media. He was referring to the laws in some states that say a citizen can legally use lethal force if they feel that their life in is imminent danger. Two of the teenagers died inside the home and one ran outside before dying in the driveway.  The teenagers broke through a sliding glass door in the back of the house before encountering the homeowner's adult son, who was armed with an AR-15 assault-style rifle, police say. The man, who authorities say also lives at the address with his father, opened fire on the teens after they had a "short exchange of words". Authorities say they have no reason to believe the home residents knew the teens. Two of the teens are under 17 years old and one is between 18 and 19.  A fourth person has been arrested and is facing murder and burglary charges.  Elizabeth Marie Rodriguez, 21, turned herself in at the Broken Arrow police station and has admitted to serving as a getaway driver. Nearby residents tell local media that there have been a string of burglaries in the area, but police have made no link.

^ I know we are supposed to feel sorry for the 3 teenagers, but I don't. If you break into someone's house then the people who live there have every right to protect themselves and their property in any way they can. ^

German Historical Pride

From the DW:
"Are Germans proud of their history?"

At the Haus der Geschichte museum in Bonn, a young Iraqi learns about German history, in particular the years of the Nazi dictatorship. Hayder al-Maliki found that Germans can be ambivalent about their country's past.  The horror hits you right at the start. I've only just entered the Haus der Geschichte in Bonn, Germany's museum of national history, when I am confronted with grim scenes from the Second World War - as well as its historical ramifications, the traces it has left in the collective memory of German society. One thing above all quickly becomes clear to me: Why Germans are not nearly as proud of their country as I'd thought. On the contrary - they don't want to be proud, especially not of the 1930s and '40s: the Hitler years. As soon as I enter the first room, I see the red swastika flags of the Nazi regime. I sense the power these flags must have possessed, and imagine the soldiers stumbling into the catastrophe of World War Two. Some war scenes are playing on video, while other pictures display the centers of political and military power in the Third Reich. Papers, telegrams and medals of honor document the bureaucratic and symbolic order that underpinned the Nazi state. The exhibition includes soldiers' headgear, like the beret worn by members of the Luftwaffe. There are also some Wehrmacht tanks, which give a strong impression of the power of the weapons being used at the time. I am astonished that military equipment like this was being deployed as early as World War Two.  In one of the rooms, I stand looking at an old soldier's uniform, next to an elderly man who is also engrossed in the exhibit. "Excuse me," I ask him, "is this your first visit to the museum?" "No, it's my third," he says. What makes him keep coming back here? "My father died in the Second World War," he replies. "And when I look at these uniforms, I remember the last time I saw him before he died." "Are you proud of Germany?" I ask him. "No!" he answers firmly. "Least of all the Nazi period. Hitler's rule cost the lives of millions of people from a great many countries. But I am proud of German history since 1945." I'm surprised. His attitude is completely different to what many people in the Arab world would expect it to be. Many people there believe that Germans are proud of Hitler. How wrong they are! Soon afterwards, I visit the museum for a second time. This time I head for the rooms devoted to the post-war period. Instead of the swastika, I'm now looking at the black-red-and-gold flag of the Federal Republic. The political leadership has been replaced, and people seem happy with their country. They're especially happy with their new currency, the deutschmark. It's brought Germany back into the fold of international commerce, reviving the economy. The museum has dedicated a whole room to the period of the so-called "economic miracle."  After that, another big exhibition room documents the start of another era: the fall of the Wall and the process of reunification from 1989 onwards. Again, I ask some of the visitors whether they're proud of German history. Here, in this room, people answer differently. "We're only proud of German history before and after the Nazi period," they tell me. It seems some Germans do identify with the period before and after the 12 years of Hitler - but not with the period between 1933 and 1945.  From one room to the next, I follow the course of recent German history. This exhibition makes me realize how differentiated Germans' feelings are about their country and history. It's as if I'm reading a breathtaking novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The book opens with the war on the first page, then the white flag of capitulation flutters before the reader's eyes, before going on to a new, exciting chapter: the Cold War - the face-off between West and East, capitalism and communism. "Are you proud of German history?" The question makes some Germans reticent, others embarrassed. Some answer with an emphatic "No," while others are more hesitant. Their faces reflect the complexity of the question. Some reject national pride entirely, others only with regard to certain periods in German history.  I wander around the museum, trying to find one visitor prepared to answer my question with an unqualified affirmative: "Yes! I am proud of German history." I don't find a single one. My visits to the museum have helped me to understand something. Unlike many Arabs, Germans are not at all proud of their country's military history. In trying to understand why this is, I think of what colleagues in DW's Arabic Service have told me about German schools. Children are taught in the spirit of tolerance and acceptance of others. The teachers teach them the value of peace, and respect for other people. I start to realize that this is why Germany was accepted back into the community of nations relatively soon after the horrors of the Nazi era. History requires us to engage with it, to analyze and address it.

^ I wouldn't expect Germans to be proud of their whole history. As a Canadian I'm not proud of the anti-French discrimination or how the Aboriginals were treated in Canada. As an American I'm not proud of slavery or the anti-Civil Rights Movement in the South (there are people my grandparents and parents age that used water hoses and lynched innocent Blacks as recently as the 1950s and 1960s.) There are many Germans alive today who lived during some of the most interesting, although, difficult times in German history: the economic collapse after World War 1, Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, the division of Germany into a democratic West and a Communist dictatorship East and then a reunited Germany. Some Germans were both Nazis and Communists (especially those that found themselves in eastern Germany after 1945.) It must be very hard to know that your grandparents or even your parents could have helped lead innocent men, women and children into the gas chamber or shot innocent people trying to escape over a Wall to their freedom. Germans (as with every nationality) should not be proud of everything in their country's past, but they should be required to learn about everything - the good and the bad (as we all should.) I am curious if the writer of this article, an Iraqi, is proud of Iraq's history under Saddam (the gassing of innocent men, women and children.) He lived under a dictatorship the same way many Germans did and crimes were committed that no one should be proud of. ^

26% Ban

From the MT:
"Number of Russians Who Believe Food Ban Is Harmful Rising – Poll"

Twenty-six percent of Russians believe the 2014 ban on food imports from Western countries that had imposed sanctions on Russia did more harm than good, a poll by the state-run pollster VTsIOM showed Friday. The number has grown significantly since 2014, when only 9 percent of respondents expressed that opinion.  The number of Russians who approve of the ban remains high – 72 percent, according to the study. However, over the years it has decreased: in 2014, 84 percent of Russians approved of the ban.   Public opinion on the important ban is largely influenced by hostility toward Western sanctions, says VTsIOM sociologist Mikhail Mamonov. The sanctions make the ban look like a fair response in the public's eyes. The poll was conducted between March 2 and March 3 among 1,200 respondents. the poll's margin of error does not exceed 3.5 percent.

^ Interesting. ^

Yemen: 2 Years On

From the BBC:
"Yemenis protest on war's second anniversary"

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Yemen's capital on Sunday to call for an end to war in the country.  The demonstration was organised by Houthi rebels, who occupy the city and much of Yemen's north.  The rallies in Sanaa came on the second anniversary of the Saudi-led military intervention against the Houthi rebel movement. More than 7,600 people have been killed in the conflict since it began in March 2015. Millions of citizens have been displaced and the country has also been pushed to the brink of famine.The war is being waged between forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and those allied to the Houthis.   The Houthis support the country's former authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ceded power to Mr Hadi in 2012 after a 2011 uprising. Mr Saleh made a rare appearance at Sunday's rally and addressed the crowds.  The throngs converged in Sabeen Square, where they waved the country's flag and chanted that they would "resist to the end". "I participated in the protests against the aggression [by the Saudi-led coalition]. Maybe our voice will be heard by the world over to stop the war,'' one protester, Ahmed Mohsen, told The Associated Press news agency.  The conflict has its roots in the failed political transition after Mr Saleh handed power to Mr Hadi. Houthis opposed to Mr Hadi took over the capital, Sanaa, forcing him to flee to the southern port city of Aden. Alarmed by the rise of a group they believed to be backed militarily by regional Shia power Iran, Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states began an air campaign aimed at restoring Mr Hadi's government.  However, after two years of fighting, no side appears close to a decisive military victory. Various rounds of UN-mediated peace talks to end Yemen's conflict have failed.

^ Most of the world has no idea that there is a war in Yemen much less that it has been going on for 2 years now. ^

Double Russian

From the BBC:
"Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Report No Evil"

Russia witnessed mass anti-corruption protests on Sunday, but you’d never know it, if you only followed the state media.  If you were anywhere near central Moscow this Sunday, you likely witnessed something impressive and significant. All of downtown was on lockdown, with thousands of law enforcement officers in full riot gear. The streets and city squares were packed with people sporadically chanting and being dragged away to police vans. Tens of thousands of people across Russia, inspired by an investigation into Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s alleged corruption, were protesting across the country. In Moscow alone, a thousand people were arrested.
It was a remarkable day of civic struggle and headline news, but not if you were tuned exclusively to Russia’s state-run media.

Many noticed that Russia’s nationwide protests on Sunday — rallies that took place in urban centers, like Moscow, and in areas considered Putin’s traditional stronghold, like the Dagestani capital Makhachkala — were conspicuously absent from state television and even newswires.  This silence contrasts starkly with how the Russian media reported on even larger demonstrations in late 2011 and 2012, when protests caught the Kremlin off guard and reportedly infuriated Vladimir Putin and his inner circle, who had completely failed to anticipate and preempt the movement. The coverage of those protests was either neutral and professional, like the work by state news agency RIA Novosti (later disbanded and integrated into the more loyalist Rossiya Segodnya), or slanted and critical of the opposition, like reports on the state-run TV channels.  Say what you will about the coverage back then, but it was there.

The same couldn't be said about Russia’s mainstream news outlets this Sunday. At the height of the Moscow protest, when police started dragging people away by the hundred, the top story on RIA’s new website read: “Freedom-Loving Cow in U.S. Escapes Cops in a Dramatic Chase.”   Even Russia’s Sunday TV shows — hosted by the nation’s most popular pundits — failed to mention the protests. There was even silence from Dmitry Kiselyov, whose flagship program, “News of the Week,” is often edited on the fly, to add new content before the show is done airing in all Russia’s 11 time zones.
In fact, Kiselyov did say on air that “corruption is rampant and people are demoralized,” but he was talking about Ukraine, which Russian television typically covers in far greater detail than any domestic matter. Much of Russia’s Web-based media didn’t fare much better on Sunday. Later in the day, when the protests became too large to ignore, RIA Novosti’s website begrudgingly acknowledged the simple fact that mass demonstrations were underway (“Opposition Activists Arrested At Illegal Demonstration”), burying the news at the bottom of its home page (top news: “Two Russian Football Fans Beaten in Belgrade”), without once mentioning the reason for the demonstrations.
More disturbing was the behavior of Yandex-Novosti, the country’s largest national news aggregator. Yandex, a private company, has long been under pressure from Russian authorities looking for ways to suppress unwanted coverage and promote pro-Kremlin stories. It’s no secret that the Russian authorities are able to manipulate Yandex’s news feed, without resorting to outright censorship. The mayor’s office of Moscow, for example, is known to have registered dozens of obscure, almost identical, media outlets — all to bombard Yandex with small stories about city projects, just to keep the news (and the mayor’s agenda) trending on Yandex.Novosti. In a press release this Monday, trying to clear its name, Yandex said it aggregates the news automatically, using algorithms, and the company vaguely accused the government of trying to manipulate its system. 
Today, there are also more straightforward ways to shape Yandex. Novosti. Government ministries and other state agencies recently gained the right to register as news outlets, meaning the government can pump stories openly and directly into Yandex’s aggregator.

This quirk led to what was probably the strangest Yandex.Novosti blip on Sunday, when dozens of “media” websites with names like “Dagestan’s Ministry of Sports” started churning out breaking news with the headline “Makhachkala Refuses to Join Anti-Corruption Protests.” This appears to have been a clumsy attempt to suppress reports about the demonstrations that did indeed take place in Dagestan’s capital on Sunday. Ironically, these phony headlines were some of the only coverage in which Russia’s state media explicitly mentioned the reason for the demonstrations at all. Other outlets, such as the news agencies RIA and TASS, carefully tiptoed around the corruption allegations against Prime Minister Medvedev, even when quoting state officials. The official comments that did appear in news reports were predictable: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the West of “double standards” in policing, while State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin resorted to some familiar whataboutism, pointing out that police brutality against protesters is rampant in the West.
Again, nobody in the state media would say what the demonstrations were actually about.  As Russian television’s two biggest networks, Channel One and Rossiya, continued to ignore the elephant in the room (instead airing bulletins about heavy snowfall in Moscow, trouble in Ukraine, and a fatal avalanche in Japan), Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said rather unconvincingly that the Kremlin doesn’t set editorial policy for Russian national television.“They show what they consider to be important and significant," Peskov told reporters.On Monday, Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader whose investigation into Dmitry Medvedev fueled the nationwide protests, went to trial for disturbing the peace and resisting a police officer. A judge fined him 20,000 rubles (about $350) and sentenced him to 15 days in jail. During the hearing, Navalny confronted a state TV camera crew in the courtroom. “Why didn’t you cover the protests yesterday?” he asked. “We’re small people,” they responded with refreshing honesty. The answer’s meaning was clear: decisions about what to cover are above their pay grade.

^ The Russians are used to having to read between the lines (even when an event isn't reported.) It amazes me how well-informed the Soviets were considering they lived in a tightly-controlled dictatorship for 74 years and all that before computers and the Internet. The average Soviet citizen learned the official version of events and then the unofficial version of events and was able too create what really happened. Those traits don't seem to have disappeared 25 years since the USSR collapsed. It is always good for people to get their facts from different sources so you can get the whole story. I personally keep-up with US and world news in English (from the US, Canada, Russia and other European countries) as well as reading the news in French and Russian. I then take the bits and pieces from the different sides and decide what actually happened. I usually then chose an easy to understand article (in English) to post here. ^

Monday, March 27, 2017

US Haribo

From Yahoo:
"German gummy bear maker Haribo plans to produce candy in U.S."

German candymaker Haribo, famous for its fruit-flavored gummy bears, plans to build its first production facility in the United States and start making confectionery there from 2020. Family-owned Haribo, which employs 7,000 people worldwide at 16 sites in ten countries, said on Thursday it has decided to acquire property in Wisconsin for the factory. Haribo, a model of Germany's successful "Mittelstand" firms which make up the backbone of Europe's largest economy, was founded in 1920. It gave Germany one of its most famous advertising slogans, promising to make kids and adults happy. Expansion in the U.S. pits the Bonn-based company against North America's top candymakers, including Mars Chocolate, Mondelez International and Hershey Foods Corp. "Haribo of America is the fastest-growing candymaker in the U.S.," Hans Guido Riegel, Haribo's managing partner said in an emailed statement. "That is why the step to start with local production from 2020 is important to us," Riegel said, adding the firm has been looking for a U.S. manufacturing site for several years.

^ I  am a self-confessed Haribo snob and think that European-made Haribo tastes much better than the Haribo you get in the US. I buy my Haribo online either from Europe or that has been imported from Europe. ^

Taxing Amazon

From MSN:
"Tax-Free No More: Amazon To Begin Collecting Sales Tax Nationwide On April 1"

If you’ve been enjoying sales tax-free purchases online, get ready for a major change. Amazon will begin collecting sales taxes from all states with a sales tax as of April 1, 2017. That’s no April Fool’s Day joke: it’s for real. After years of fighting the imposition of sales tax on a state by state basis – from court battles to corporate exemptions – Amazon has been pursuing a different tack of late. The online retail giant has been adding – not fighting – states to its list of jurisdictions subject to sales tax.
The list is about to get a little longer. Next month, Amazon will begin collecting sales tax in Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, and New Mexico. Those four states are the last to be added to the list, rounding out a complete list of 45 states where Amazon will now collect sales tax. That means that as of next month, Amazon will be collecting sales tax nationwide. And no, I didn’t skip the geography class: I know there are 50 states. Amazon won’t collect sales tax in Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. Those states do not have a state sales tax. Collecting sales tax on online purchases has been a controversial subject for years. Companies which make sales over the internet are still subject to the same sales tax collection requirements as so-called “brick and mortar” stores. Generally, the test is whether the company has a physical presence in that state: if a company has a physical presence in a state, they are required to collect and remit sales taxes. The test is the result of 25-year-old Supreme Court ruling in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota. In that case, the Court ruled that only those companies with a physical presence inside a state can be required to collect sales tax, “continuing value of a bright-line rule in this area.” The key, of course, is that the definition of physical presence can change even as technology changes. Retailers don’t love the rule because it’s more work for them. Figuring sales tax in multiple states and localities can be complicated and expensive. So, for years, online retailers like Amazon have largely railed against an expansion of sales tax to the internet while brick and mortar stores have argued for expanding the tax, claiming it would level the retail playing field.  That said, even if a company doesn’t charge you sales tax, consumers don’t get a pass on taxes. States that impose a sales tax typically also impose a use tax. If your state has a use tax and you are not charged a sales tax, you are supposed to self-report and pay the tax. About half of all states offer a line on their income tax returns now for this purpose; otherwise, there are separate tax forms for your completion. As you can imagine, between the complexity and the insanity of this rule, most consumers ignore the use tax. In fact, a 2015 poll conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) found that 62% of registered voters were not aware that use taxes were payable (downloads as a pdf). Most of those polled felt that the best way to collect sales tax was at the point the sale is made – and not by asking consumers to self-report and pay. So what’s changed? The laws haven’t changed drastically (though, some states, like Colorado, are passing new rules to require retailers to report more information about sales). That said, online retailers who are either seeing the writing on the wall or are weary of fighting against the inevitable, have been quietly shifting operations to collect sales tax in most states. Amazon is one of the largest retailers to do so.
A request for comment from Amazon about the change was not immediately returned. Founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, Amazon is headquartered in Seattle, Washington. The retail giant reported revenues of $107.01 billion in 2016. The company was ranked at #237 in Forbes’ Global 2000 and #12 on Forbes’ list of the Most Valuable Brands.

^ I don't see why someone living in a state and buying something online from another state has to pay sales tax (either from their home state or from the state they are buying the item from) especially if their is no physical store in that state. ^

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Stronger Special Ed

From Yahoo:
"Rights of learning-disabled students bolstered by high court"

A unanimous Supreme Court has bolstered the rights of millions of learning-disabled students in a ruling that requires public schools to offer special education programs that meet higher standards. The court struck down a lower standard endorsed by President Donald Trump's nominee to the high court. Chief Justice John Roberts said that it is not enough for school districts to get by with minimal instruction for special needs children. The school programs must be designed to let students make progress in light of their disabilities. The Wednesday ruling quickly led to tough questions at the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said the high court had just tossed out a standard that Gorsuch himself had used in a similar case that lowered the bar for educational achievement. In its ruling, the Supreme Court sided with parents of an autistic teen in Colorado who said their public school did not do enough to help their son make progress. They sought reimbursement for the cost of sending him to private school. The case helps clarify the scope of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a federal law that requires a "free and appropriate public education" for disabled students. Lower courts said even programs with minimal benefits can satisfy the law. Roberts said the law requires an educational program "reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child's circumstances." He did not elaborate on what that progress should look like, saying it depends on the "unique circumstances" of each child. He added that there should also be deference to school officials. "When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing merely more than de minimis progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all," Roberts said. "For children with disabilities, receiving instruction that aims so low would be tantamount to sitting idly awaiting the time when they were old enough to drop out." At Gorsuch's hearing, Durbin said the nominee had gone beyond the standards of his own appeals court by adding the word "merely" in his 2008 opinion approving the "de minimis" — or minimum — standard for special needs education. Durbin suggested that Gorsuch had lowered the bar even more.
Gorsuch, handed a copy of the ruling during a break on the third day of his hearings, noted that his panel reached its decision unanimously based on a 10-year-old precedent. Durbin also said Gorsuch had ruled against disabled students in eight out of 10 cases dealing with the IDEA. "To suggest I have some animus against children, senator, would be a mistake," Gorsuch said. Later, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., pressed Gorsuch again, saying he added the word "merely" to the standard "to make it even more narrow." Gorsuch responded: "I disagree." Disability advocacy groups argued that schools must offer more than the bare minimum of services to children with special needs. The ruling does not go as far as the parents wanted. They had argued that educational programs for disabled students should meet goals "substantially equal" to those for children without disabilities. Roberts rejected that standard, saying it was "entirely unworkable." The court's decision to require a more demanding test for progress has major implications for about 6.4 million disabled students who want to advance in school and rely on special programs to make that happen. School officials had cautioned that imposing higher standards could be too costly for some cash-strapped districts. They warned that it could also lead parents to make unrealistic demands. The case involved a boy known only as Endrew F. who attended public school outside Denver from kindergarten through fourth grades. He was given specialized instruction to deal with his learning and behavioral issues. But Endrew's parents decided to send him to private school in 2010 after complaining about his lack of progress. They asked the school district to reimburse them for his tuition — about $70,000 a year — on the basis that public school officials weren't doing enough to meet their son's needs. The Colorado Department of Education denied their claim, saying the school district had met the minimum standards required under the law. The federal appeals court in Denver upheld that decision, ruling that the school district satisfied its duty to offer more than a "de minimis" effort.  Disability advocacy groups cheered the ruling, saying it raises the expectations for learning-disabled students. "It is now clear that schools must provide students with disabilities the supports they need to help them achieve meaningful and substantive educational goals," said Ira Burnim, legal director at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. Francisco Negron, general counsel of the National School Boards Association, said the court had issued a "measured" decision "that isn't really upsetting the apple cart." He said it would lead to schools more carefully tracking the progress of special needs students. But he praised the court for saying it would defer to the judgment of educational officials.

^ This is a great ruling. It will start forcing school districts around the country to do what is right (most have to be told what is right with a law rather than Common Sense and Decency.) It's not "enough" to simply allow disabled children into special education, but to prepare them for the real world - as a school is supposed to do for EVERY child. Now there are no more loop-holes that school districts can try to keep disabled students from getting the education and training they deserve. It's sad that we have to have these kinds of decisions and clarifications, but I am glad they were made so no school district to "hide" their special education students anymore. ^

Russian Behavior

From the MT:
"Russia's Foreign Ministry Is Telling Citizens How to Behave Abroad, and It's Everything"

The Russian Foreign Ministry has published a list of recommendations for citizens traveling the world. “General Elements of Behavior” offers a compendium of travel dos and don’ts, ranging from “It’s desirable in any country to show friendliness to the local population and be considerate of their way of life” to “Observe the rules of hygiene when visiting swimming pools and saunas.” There are also some unexpected pieces of advice, like, “In countries with sizeable black populations, refrain from using the words ‘negro’ and ‘nigger,’ as well as their derivatives.” Also, when speaking to people in foreign countries, “observe a minimum distance of 50 to 60 centimeters [1.6 to 2 feet].” Things get more interesting when Russia’s Foreign Ministry starts offering recommendations for how to behave in specific countries. The Moscow Times translates the government’s advice for Canada, France, Great Britain, Israel, and Kenya. American readers, you’ll be disappointed to learn that the U.S. isn’t singled out.


“Canada, where same-sex marriage was long ago legalized and there is a serious ‘obsession’ with gender equality,  isn’t the best place for retelling ‘obscene male’ anecdotes and jokes about ‘the non-traditionals.’ In addition to public censure, in major metropolitan areas with compact ‘queer’ neighborhoods (in particular, Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal), you risk penalties in the form of a fine or even felony charges for ‘hate crimes.’ “It’s better to refrain from demonstrating emotions when dealing with members of the opposite sex, in order to avoid allegations of attempted sexual harassment (on university campuses, the institution of the ‘public moral police’ is widespread). “An important feature that distinguishes Canadians from Americans that you must bear in mind when communicating is their ‘sense of self-awareness and difference’ from Americans. “Though foreigners sometimes find it difficult to distinguish one from the other, Canadian citizens can become very offended, if you compare their country to the United States.”


“It’s necessary to avoid any behavior toward women that might be regarded as an act of ‘sexism.’ It’s also desirable not to react to representatives of the LGBT community, and not to address them with any offensive words or gestures. “In a cafe or restaurant, one addresses the waiter not as ‘garcon,’ but ‘monsieur,’ and the waitress as ‘madam.’ Russian citizens who do not speak French are strongly recommended to ask for a menu in Russian or English. Attempts to pronounce the names of meals in French without knowledge of the rules of the French language can lead to conflicts. “In France, it’s customary to greet one another in public places: public transportation drivers, store clerks, concierges, and hotel staff. “It is not advisable to demonstrate disrespect for the French language, trying to ‘get a point across’ to French people in Russian, and then getting angry that they don’t understand you.”

Great Britain

“The British are characterized by the following traits of nonverbal communication:– raising the eyebrows (this is perceived as an expression of skepticism);– rotating your finger around your temple (this gesture means ‘decide for yourself,’ which isn’t what it means in other countries);– raising the middle and index fingers, with the palm of the hand towards the recipient is a sign of approval, in the style of the ‘V for Victory’ sign, but faced the other way can be a serious insult to other people;– the middle and index finger folded together and raised in the air (this gesture means ‘Just you wait. I’ll get you!’); and– the extremely rude ‘middle finger’ gesture (a raised middle finger implies an obscene refusal to a request).”


“In general, the tolerance threshold for spoken obscenities in Israel is low. Here, you’ll often hear distorted Russian obscenities originally popular among Jewish immigrants to Palestine in the early 20th century. But foreigners are advised to avoid Yiddish colloquialisms (‘putz,’ “schmuck’) and similar Arabic expressions (‘kus ummak,’ ‘sharmuta’), It’s inadmissible to use the word ‘zhid’ [kike] when addressing any Jew, even if he doesn’t understand Russian. “Visitors to this country should bear in mind Israelites’ extreme sensitivity to virtually any criticism of the state of Israel itself, as well as criticism of any aspects of life in Israel.”


“Comparing a Kenyan to a monkey can cause the very strongest reaction, as can rudely questioning a Kenyan’s mental abilities (knocking yourself on the head, as a gesture during conversation, is considered an insult). If you poke a Kenyan with your finger during conversation, it can also instigate aggression from him.”

You can read all the country-specific recommendations (in Russian) on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

Just think 25 years ago this wasn't an issue for Russians since no one was allowed to leave and travel within their own country was highly restricted. The full Russian version is even funnier (ie. don't go to Israel and make anti-Semitic remarks.) They don't mention going to the US though, This feels more like those warning labels that companies have to place on products because idiots did something dumb with it. This is what happens when you don't have AFN "commercials" telling you not to walk down a German street with full cowboy garb on calling every German a Nazi with a thick Southern accent and then taking out your pistols, shooting them in the air and shouting like Yosemite Sam. ^

London Victims

From the BBC:
"London attack: The victims"

Three people were killed, along with the assailant, in Wednesday's attack in Westminster, close to the Houses of Parliament. About 40 people from 11 different countries were injured, of whom 29 needed hospital treatment and seven remain in a critical condition. Details have not been given of all the victims.


PC Keith Palmer

PC Keith Palmer, 48, was stabbed as he tried to stop the attacker in a courtyard outside the Houses of Parliament. He was an unarmed member of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Squad who had served for 15 years. "Keith will be remembered as a wonderful dad and husband," his family said in a statement.  "A loving son, brother and uncle. A long-time supporter of Charlton FC. Dedicated to his job and proud to be a police officer, brave and courageous. A friend to everyone who knew him.
"He will be deeply missed. We love him so much. His friends and family are shocked and devastated by his loss." PC Palmer, who had a five-year-old daughter, joined the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command in April last year after serving in the Territorial Support Group (TSG) based in Catford but working across London. He had previously been based in Bromley borough between 2002 and 2009. "Keith was a genuinely nice person; nobody had a bad word to say about him. When I heard what had happened I knew it would be him because that's just the sort of guy he was, to step straight in when others might step back," said PC James Aitkenhead, who worked alongside Keith in the TSG. Conservative MP and former colleague James Cleverly tweeted: "A lovely man, a friend. I'm heartbroken." Mr Cleverly said the two had served together in the Royal Artillery before PC Palmer joined the police. In an emotional tribute in the Commons, he later described him as a "strong, professional public servant". Also addressing MPs, Prime Minister Theresa May said PC Palmer "was every inch a hero and his actions will never be forgotten". A minute's silence was held in Parliament and in front of the New Scotland Yard police headquarters at 09:33 GMT - chosen because 933 was the shoulder number on PC Palmer's uniform.

Aysha Frade

Aysha Frade, who worked at DLD College London, close to Westminster Bridge, also died in the attack. She was a British national whose mother was Spanish, the Spanish foreign ministry said. Ms Frade lived in London with her two young daughters and husband, according to Spanish media reports. Her father was of Cypriot origin, while her mother was from the Galician town of Betanzos, where her two sisters run an English school, the Voz de Galicia reports. The principal of the independent sixth form college said she worked in the administration team and described her as "a highly regarded and loved" member of staff. "She will be deeply missed by all of us," Rachel Borland added.  A former neighbour, Patricia Scotland, who lives in the Ladbroke Grove area of London, said the family had lived close by for 40 years before moving away two years ago. She described Ms Frade as a "lovely mother, a lovely wife". "She was just a lovely person, with two lovely, lovely girls," she said. "You couldn't ask for better neighbours". A teacher at DLD College, Courtney Love, said she was a "great staff member" who was a "helpful, supportive, kind" and "a lovely, lovely person". Betanzos councillor Andres Hermida said the community in Spain was in "enormous pain" and shrouded in an "atmosphere of sadness". "Aysha spent her summers here and had many friends here since her childhood, so we are all very affected," he said.

Kurt Cochran

Kurt Cochran from the US state of Utah was in London as part of a holiday in Europe to celebrate 25 years of marriage to his wife Melissa, who was seriously hurt in the attack. In a statement, Mrs Cochran's family said they were "heartbroken" by the news of Mr Cochran's death. "Kurt was a good man and a loving husband to our sister and daughter, Melissa," they said. They said Melissa had received serious injuries in the attack and was being treated in hospital. The couple had been scheduled to return to the US on Thursday. "We express our gratitude to the emergency and medical personnel who have cared for them and ask for your prayers on behalf of Melissa and our family. Kurt will be greatly missed," they added. US President Donald Trump paid tribute to Mr Cochran on Twitter, saying: "A great American, Kurt Cochran, was killed in the London terror attack. My prayers and condolences are with his family and friends."


Romanian couple

Andreea Cristea suffered multiple injuries in the attack, and has undergone complex surgery, while her boyfriend Andrei Burnaz sustained a broken foot, according to the Romanian ambassador to the UK. The Romanian couple were on a trip to London to celebrate Mr Burnaz's birthday and are planning to marry, Dan Mihalache told the Romanian news agency Agerpress. The ambassador said Ms Cristea was suffering problems with her lungs and had a blood clot removed from her brain overnight. The Romanian embassy in London has also confirmed that she was the woman seen falling into the River Thames as the attacker drove across Westminster Bridge. British police had said a seriously injured woman was rescued from the water.

French schoolchildren

Three French schoolchildren on a school trip to London were among those injured as pedestrians were struck by a car on Westminster Bridge. They are from the St Joseph's School in Concarneau, Brittany. The parents of the injured students were flown to London on Wednesday evening by the French government. The mother of one of them told local newspaper La Telegramme that her son was in intensive care with fractures to the legs, a head wound and a localised haematoma behind the lung. She said he did not remember what had happened, the newspaper reported. The mother of one of the group who escaped unhurt told the Associated Press her daughter "was next to her school friends who were ran over by the car. She saw the car driving past near her and saw the terrorist getting out of the car."  The woman, who gave her name only as Martine, said: "She is very shocked by what she saw. She was really scared for her friends." More than 90 students from the school were on the trip to London. Those who are uninjured are due to return home on Thursday.

British students

Four students from from Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, Lancashire were among those injured in the Westminster attack. Owen Lambert and Travis Frain were struck when a car drove along the pavement on Westminster Bridge at the outset of the attack. They were part of a group of 13 students on a visit, with a lecturer, to the Houses of Parliament. Mr Lambert, 18, from Morecambe, is understood to have required stitches to a head wound, while Mr Frain, from Darwen, suffered a wrist injury. Two other students needed treatment for lesser injuries.

Other victims

Three police officers, two of whom are in a serious condition, were also injured as they returned from an event marking their bravery in service, the Metropolitan Police said. Four South Korean tourists, in their 50s and 60s were hurt in a rush of people trying to flee the attack, South Korea's Foreign Ministry said. Also among the injured were 12 British citizens, two Greeks, one German, one Pole, one Irish citizen, one Chinese person, one Italian and one American, Mrs May told MPs.

^ By remembering the victims (those dead and injured) of this and all terrorist attacks we help make sure what the terrorist(s) did was in vain. ^