Saturday, January 11, 2020

Another Memo to Conservative American Evangelicals

"The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader (President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine) to harass and discredit one of the president's political opponents (Joe Biden).  This is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.  

The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration.  He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals (Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and others).  He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud.  His Twitter feed alone - with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders - is a perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused."

- Mark Galli
"Trump should be removed from office," Christianity Today editorial, December 19, 2019



MEMO TO AMERICAN EVANGELICALS:

Note: This is my second memo to American evangelicals.  I wrote my original memo on September 21, 2018  https://www.joanne16.com/2018/09/memo-to-american-conservative.html

American evangelicals:

Your support was critical to Donald Trump's electoral college victory in 2016.  You are a prime reason why he sits in the Oval Office today.  Donald Trump chose Mike Pence as his vice-presidential running mate in order to attract your votes.  He is depending on your votes in order to win re-election in 2020

I have some questions for you and I trust you will reflect carefully as you answer them privately.  As you well know, the main tenets of Christianity are to love God and to love your neighbour as yourself.  Christ clearly set out those two commandments.  So, I ask you honestly to consider whether Donald Trump has lived up to those commandments in his words and deeds.  No one is perfect, but surely the president of the United States cannot be allowed to behave in a profoundly immoral manner.  His tweets are full of name-calling, insults and bullying.  He belittles anyone who disagrees with him.

Here are some points to consider:

* Prior to the 2016 election, released The Washington Post released a 2005 video in which Donald Trump bragged about molesting women in a conversation with Billy Bush.  Many people were surprised that this video did not immediately put an end to Trump's candidacy for president of the United States.  20 of 30 years ago, he would have had to end his presidential campaign due to that video.

* Donald Trump has called Mexicans "rapists and criminals" and treated them with utter contempt.  Is that an example of loving your neighbour?  Trump has separated innocent Central American migrant children from their parents and placed them in detention camps.  That is unconscionable. It is monstrous and barbaric.  Jesus said, "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not: for such is the kingdom of heaven"  He did not say only some children.  He meant all children.



Children in detention camp

* Trump has removed environmental protections.  He  encourages the use of fossil fuels and he took the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord.  In the Book of Genesis, God grants humans stewardship over the earth.  "Then the Lord God took the man into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it." Genesis 2:15.

Trump ignores science.  He won't do anything about the climate crisis.  The climate crisis is a moral crisis and it threatens the very survival of our planet.  We are running out of time and the world cannot afford another four years of Donald Trump.

* Donald Trump is not the "chosen one" as some of his followers profess him to be.  God did not grant him the right to be president of the United States.  He is not some kind of king or messiah.  Is he invoking the ancient "divine right of kings," by which kings were chosen by God to rule?  Does he consider himself some kind of messiah? (The thought is sickening).  Yet, Trump behaves like a cult leader and his supporters practically worship him.  They are afraid to cross him.  The First Commandment says "Thou shall no other gods but me."

* Trump has no respect for the Constitution of the United States.  He acts like a dictator.  He wants all power to be vested in the Executive branch of government.  He doesn't like to be reminded that Legislative branch (Congress) is a co-equal branch of government.

* Trump brags that the American economy has never been as good under his administration.  Well that may be, if you are a billionaire or well off enough to invest in the stock market.  The Trump economy does nothing for lower income Americans.  It does nothing for those trapped in low paying jobs.  It does nothing for those who do not have health insurance.  It only increases the widening gap between haves and have nots.  That is not social justice.  That is not Christianity at work, since Christ was a champion of the poor and the marginalized.  Christ did not demonize the poor.  He said, "Blessed are the Poor."

Anyone who claims to be a Christian cannot in good conscious support Donald Trump.  Trump must be held accountable for his behaviour because nobody is above the law.


- Joanne

Thursday, January 9, 2020

How to become an eco-friendly driver

Here is an infographic with valuable tips on how to become an eco-friendly driver.  The statistics have been taken from American sources and American "gallons" and "miles" are used rather than "litres" and  kilometres."  Yet the information is still relevant to those living outside the United States as they can easily do the conversions.  More and more people are becoming concerned about the environment.  Here are ways you can make a difference.

- Joanne

Take steps to be more eco-friendly on the road to improve the environment and your wallet. Remember: driving safely is one great way to go green and get you a better car insurance rate. It’s never too late to adopt sustainable practices in your driving habits, vehicle maintenance, and daily commute.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

My 2020 Wish List



Last year I posted my personal wish list for 2019.  I promised to let you know which of my wishes came true and to write another wish list for 2020.  Here's how my 2019 wish list turned out:

* I wished that 2019 would be a bad year for dictatorships and authoritarian leaders around the world, especially Russia's Vladimir Putin.

In fact, it was a rather good year for right-wing male leaders.

Boris Johnson/s Conservatives won a majority in the December 12, 2019 British election, but the honeymoon will soon be over,  The Conservative victory will not put an end to the Brexit agony, as many UK voters surmised.  Getting a deal done will not be so easy and it will not happen as quickly as Boris would like it to.  I'm afraid that there will be tough times ahead for Britain, economically and politically.  Brexit will open up a can of worms with Scotland and Northern Ireland.  Also, the British economy will decline due to Brexit and Johnson will not protect the National Health Service (NHS).

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu is still hanging on to the leadership of his Likud party, although he has been indicted on charges of breach of trust, bribery and fraud.  As a result of the charges, he is legally required to relinquish all his ministry posts, with the exception of the post of prime minister.  On March 2, 2020, Israeli's will be going to the polls for the third election in one year.

Vladimir Putin continues to rule Russia with an iron hand as does Kim Jong-un in North Korea.  Putin holds the puppet strings that control Donald Trump and the United States of America/

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is in power and he is anything but environmentally friendly.  He thumbs his nose at wildfires in the Amazon.  He bullies and harms indigenous people who are trying to protect the rainforest, known as "the earth's lungs."

The bright spot for democracy is Hong Kong.  It is valued by the people there and they are trying to preserve it.

* I hoped that 2019 would mark the final year of the presidency of Donald Trump.  I wished that he would resign or that he would be impeached and convicted - the sooner, the better.  I said that every day he remains in office causes damage to the United States and to the rest of the world.  I stated that my nightmare would be that Trump would be able to run again in 2020.

Well, 2019 did not mark the final year of the Trump presidency.  He remains in office and he fully intends to be the Republican candidate for president in 2020.  The good news is that he has been impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives and he is awaiting a trial in the Senate.  It is highly unlikely that he will be convicted by the Republican-controlled Senate, but he will be held accountable for his crimes and misdemeanours.  He is not happy about being the third president in American history to be impeached.  He knows that that dubious distinction will be forever attached to his name.

Anything could happen between now and the November election.  There may be a few surprises.

* I wished that the United Kingdom would remain in the European Union.  

Alas, now that Boris Johnson has a majority government, there is little chance that the UK will remain in the European Union.

* I wished that the Toronto Maple Leafs would win the Stanley Cup, their first victory since May 2, 1967.  My dream scenario:  Mitch Marner would score  the winning goal with about 50 seconds left in the third period of the seventh game.  

That didn't happen.  The Leafs were eliminated by the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs.  They got off to a rocky start this season and fired coach Mike Babcock.  The team is playing much better under new coach Sheldon Keefe.

Although the Maple Leafs didn't get past the first round of the playoffs, The Toronto Raptors brought joy to the city when they won the 2019 NBA championship.

* I hoped that 2019 would be a good year for those who are concerned about the environment.and that some significant progress will be made in the fight against climate change.  

Greta Thunberg, the teen environmental activist from Sweden, led an inspiring campaign to save the planet for future generations.  She stood up to world leaders and told them in no uncertain terms that they are not doing nearly enough to fight climate change.  Unfortunately, populist right-wing politicians and their followers are preventing necessary measures from being taken.  More people, however, are concerned.  There were many climate change protests in 2019, but the protesters, especially young adults, have to show up and vote for candidates who take a strong stand in support of environmental protection.

Here in Canada, the Conservatives lost the October 21, 2019 federal election partly because they did not have a credible plan for environment.  It hurt them enormously in the highly populated City of Toronto, where the environment mattered to voters.  The Conservatives lost all 25 of Toronto's parliamentary seats.  They are in the process of choosing a new leader who will have to seriously address the climate crisis if the party is to return to power.

* I wished for a really major breakthrough in preventing, curing or controlling one or more of the world's most harmful diseases such as Alzheimer's, cancer, Parkinson's etc.

The good news is that several major medical breakthroughs occurred in 2019.  They will benefit those with everything from peanut allergies to prostate cancer.  Biogen, a biotech company, announced in October that it is seeking FDA approval for a new drug called Aducanumab, which is reported to be the first drug to reduce cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer's Disease..


* I  wished for fewer wars and more civility in the world in 2019.  

Unfortunately, I didn't see any improvement there.  I still remain hopeful that the pendulum will swing and that some of the more populist right-wing leaders will be defeated in elections.





Here is my 2020 wish list:

* I fervently hope that Donald Trump resigns from office in 2020 or loses the November election.  He is becoming more and more unstable.  Every day he remains in office, he poses a very real danger to the United States and the world.  It would also be nice if the Republicans lost control of the Senate, so that Mitch McConnell could no longer be the "Grim Reaper."

* I also hope that Benjamin Netanyahu will finally be ousted from power by Israeli voters.

* I will lower my expectations for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2020.  I hope they will go deeper into the playoffs.  If they somehow win the Stanley Cup, I will be thrilled, but I am not counting on it.  f the Leafs fall short, it would be great to see a Canadian-based team win Lord Stanley's Mug.  That hasn't happened since 1993.  It's due.

I hope the Toronto Raptors can repeat their NBA championship victory, but it won't be easy.

I don't have high expectations for the Toronto Blue Jays, but I hope they have a much better record than last year.  I think they will.

* I once again wish for more civility in the world.  It may not happen until Donald Trump leaves the White House.  This is not to say that Trump is the only cause of all the incivility and gracelessness.  However, he is undoubtedly one of the leading causes of the lack of civility in the United States and around the globe.  As president of the world's most powerful country, he has a great deal of influence.

*  I also wish for less war and terrorism.

* I hope that the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan are successful and that Canadian athletes perform well and honourably.

On January 1, 2021, I will write another wish list and I will let you know if any of my wishes came true.


- Joanne

Monday, December 23, 2019

From Mistletoe to Yule: Fun with Christmas words



CHRISTMAS WORDS   

"MISTLETOE is any of several several species of semi-parasitics plant often associated with Christmas" (Ecyclopaedia Brtannica).  It is leathery leaved and grows on such trees as apples and oaks.  In the winter, it bears white gummy berries.  Birds are immune to toxic mistletoe berries and serve as agents to disseminate the seeds.  Misletoe can be poisonous if ingested by humans.  It can cause drowsiness, blurred vision and vomiting.



The word "mistletoe" is derived from the Old English misteltān, from mistel ‘mistletoe’ (of Germanic origin, related to Dutch mistel and Middle High German Mistel ) + Old English tān ‘twig’.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, mistletoe was once thought to have magic powers and medicinal properties.  A tradition later developed in England and after in the United States of kissing under the mistletoe.  This custom was once believed to lead to wedlock.







NOEL means Christmasfrom French Noël (“Christmas season”), may come from the Old French nael, may be derived in turn from Latin natalis, meaning "birth"  It operates in two modes: lower-case (noel) and upper-case (Noel)  The first means "a Christmas carol," while the second smeans "Christmas."  Merry Christmas in French translates to "joyeux Noël "  Santa Clause is known as "Pere Noël" (Father Christmas).



Did you know there are places named Noel?  Noel, Missouri is a city in the United States.  It is located in McDonald County, Missouri, along the Elk River.  Noel, Nova Scotia is a community in Canada,  An Acadian named Noël Doiron settled in the community with his family around 1710 and lived there for forty years.  Thus, the English surveyors who first mapped the village, named it after him.



YULE is an old-fashioned word for Christmas.  It is derived from an ancient 12-day German lunar festival corresponding to the winter solstice.  After Christianity spread through Northern Europe, yule became associated with the Feast of the Nativity. Today in English, "Yule" refers to "Christmas," while Yuletide refers to Christmastime or the Christmas season. Christmas Day itself is not called 'Yuletide."








CHRISTMAS PUNS




* The Christmas alphabet has noel.

* But wait - there's myrrh.

* Yule be sorry.

* I have the final sleigh.

* Rebel without a Claus.



- Joanne