Posted by: coastcontact | August 14, 2018

What is the Robert Mueller Investigation?

For those of you outside the United States the question is what is going on in the USA?

The original Robert Mueller investigation, motivated by the firing of FBI director James Comey,  was at the direction of Mr Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general appointing Mr Mueller to look into:

  • The Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the election
  • Any links or co-ordination between Russia and Trump campaign-linked individuals
  • Any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation

That last point gives him quite a broad authority to also determine if the president himself has committed any wrongdoing.

The president’s words and behavior towards Russia and Vladimir Putin since taking office have only heightened the suspicion that his election was tainted and he has committed treasonous acts. The Helsinki summit between Trump and Putin only exacerbates that suspicion.

Donald Trump’s extraordinary performance in Helsinki alongside Russian leader Vladimir Putin may have crossed a red line with his fellow Republicans.

Former Republican Representative David Jolly said Congress was at “an inflection point.”

“This will be one of those moments the long lens of history remembers,” Jolly, who represented a Florida district from 2014 to 2017, said in an interview. “We’ve never had reason to question a president’s patriotism. We question their competence, their judgment, their self-interest, their partisan motivations. Even with Richard Nixon we never had questions of patriotism like we are seeing today.”

Jolly said that for the first time he believes impeachment of Trump — or removal under the 25th Amendment by declaring him unfit — should be on the table. But, he said, “The fates of Republicans on the Hill are too tied to the president. I’m not optimistic that they will be independent.”

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Posted by: coastcontact | August 9, 2018

The Best Things to do in Fargo, North Dakota

Lilit Marcus, CNN • Updated 9th August 2018

Fargo, ND (CNN) — If you live outside of the United States (or, possibly, in it) and have heard of the small city of Fargo, odds are good that it’s from the Coen Brothers movie than won Frances McDormand her first Oscar.

But adventurers willing to explore the largest city in North Dakota will find an underappreciated art scene, incredible craft beer and cider and friendly locals in this off-the-beaten-path destination.

Here are the best things to do in Fargo when you travel there — woodchipper not included:

A cool, crisp morning in Fargo pairs beautifully with a bagel from BernBaum’s.

The tiny downtown deli is a mix of Scandinavian and Jewish traditions — it may sound weird until you realize how much both cultures appreciate smoked fish.
A bagel and lox plate is a solid bet, but if you’re feeling adventurous — or dreaming of Tel Aviv — ask for za’atar, labneh and other Middle Eastern flourishes.

If you prefer sweet to savory, head to Sandy’s Donuts for your standard cream-filled bismarks along with edgier offerings like “dirt and worms” (that would be crushed Oreos and gummy worms).

Down the block is uber-fashionable coffee shop Young Blood, where baristas swap out vinyl records between making lattes. You won’t need Shazam to tell you what song is on — employees will display the record cover above the register for reference.

At dinner time, head to the HoDo Lounge (inside the Hotel Donaldson, which we’ll get to later) for tastes of fresh food from the Red River Valley region. Highlights include shrimp and grits (who knew they could be so good so far north?), seared tuna steak and the obligatory bison burger.

BernBaum’s, 115 Roberts St N, Fargo, ND 58102, (701) 306-4131
Sandy’s Donuts, 300 Broadway North, Fargo, ND 58102, (701) 478-1155
Young Blood, 623 2nd Ave N, Fargo, ND 58102, (218) 770-4728

Like many other Midwestern cities, Fargo has a thriving beer scene.

If you’re in downtown Fargo, several excellent breweries are in walking distance, most notably Fargo Brewing and Drekker — the former is known for pale ales and shandys while the latter is faux-Scandinavian (the name, as a sign in the tasting room explains, is a made-up word intended to sound Nordic) with hearty IPAs.

If you were planning to check a bag, Fargo Brewing sells its best beers — including, sigh, a Wood Chipper IPA — in cans ready to be packed up.

Downtown is also home to Wild Terra, North Dakota’s first cider bar.

The menu helpfully breaks down the major types of cider (“cider beer does not exist”) as well as meads and honey wines, and vegetarians having a tough time in the area will appreciate the plant-centric bar snack menu.

If you feel like a drive, it’s a ten-minute trip over the Red River to Fargo’s sister city of Moorhead, Minnesota.

There, Junkyard Brewery is beloved by locals who appreciate their daring brews like hoppy peach sour and guava milkshake (no, really, it’s better than it deserves to be).

Fargo Brewing Company, 610 University Dr N Fargo, ND 58102, (701) 478-BEER
Drekker Brewing Co, 630 1st Ave N #6, Fargo, ND 58102 (701) 540-6808
Wild Terra Cider and Brewing, 6 12th St N, Fargo, ND 58102, (701) 639-6273
Junkyard Brewing, 1416 1st Ave N, Moorhead, MN 56560, (701) 936-5545

If Fargo has a main drag, it’s Broadway, where in just a few minutes you can pass by a boatload of independently owned shops. The treasure of them all is Zandbroz (the second syllable is pronounced “bros,” like “cool story, bros”) Variety.

“Variety” is accurate — the shop sells new and used books, candles, perfume, greeting cards, stationery, herbal tea, pottery, jewelry and more, all with a hearty helping of North Dakota pride.

Although the eclectic mix could be overwhelming, it works because every item feels hand-chosen.

Just down the block is Unglued, where local makers sell their crafts — as the store helpfully explains, “it’s like Etsy in real life.”

Next door is Stabo Scandinavian Imports, a place for North Dakotans — many of whom have Scandinavian heritage — to go full hygge with knitwear, chocolates, baking supplies and more.

But the centerpiece of Broadway is the Fargo Theatre, a National Register of Historic Places-listed Art Deco cinema and theater whose neon sign is the most recognizable image in town.

Even if you’re not going to see a performance, you can usually get a staff member to let you poke around inside the building.

Zandbroz Variety, 420 Broadway N, Fargo, ND 58102, (701) 239-4729
Unglued, 408 Broadway N, Fargo, ND 58102, (701) 205-1597
Stabo Scandinavian Imports, 406 Broadway N, Fargo, ND 58102, (701) 282-0421
Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway N, Fargo, ND 58102, (701) 239-8385

Fargo’s small downtown is packed with bookstores, record shops, music venues and other ways to experience art and culture.

The Plains Art Museum, which is free to visit, has a small but lovingly curated collection focusing on local work, including by local Native American tribes like the Lakota and Sioux (ND is the Sioux State, after all).

The highlight? A piece by renowned pop artist James Rosenquist, who was born in nearby Grand Forks, and created a North Dakota-themed mural as a special commission.

While Fargo’s hotel scene is still slow to catch up, the city is lucky to have a bona fide gem downtown — the 17-room all-suite Hotel Donaldson, aka HoDo.
Each room is decorated with work by a different artist, so look online and request which room you’d like based on your medium of choice — blown glass, charcoals and paintings are among the offerings.

If you want to be surprised, ask for room nine, which is one of the few to rotate out — students who win art scholarships get to display their pieces here.

Meanwhile, the best room for romance is number 17, which has an in-ground bathtub filled dramatically by a pipe from the ceiling.

Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave N, Fargo, ND 58102, (701) 551-6100
Hotel Donaldson, 101 Broadway N, Fargo, ND 58102, (701) 478-1000

Posted by: coastcontact | August 8, 2018

700K Foreign Nationals Overstayed Visas to the U.S. in 2017

More than 700,000 foreign nationals who were supposed to leave the U.S. in recent months overstayed their visas, the Department of Homeland Security said in a report released Tuesday.

Overall, an estimated 40 percent of the roughly 11 million people in the country illegally stayed past their visas.

Overstays have exceeded those entering illegally every year since 2007, and there have been half a million more overstays than illegal entries since 2007.

We have visited Canada every other year for the past decade.  Canadian immigration always asks our purpose for entering but there are no arm bands or tracking device given to us.  They really do not know where we are.  It is the same way in the United States.

A study by the Center for Migration Studies divides the 2014 illegal population into two groups: those who enter with a valid temporary visa, but subsequently “overstay” and establish residence in the U.S. without authorization and those who “enter without inspection” (EWI) through the southern border without proper immigration documents.

Research published in June by the Cato Institute found both legal and illegal immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans. This data totally contradicts Donald Trump.  His language is enthusiastically endorsed by his followers. 

Is a border wall really a solution to illegal immigration?

Posted by: coastcontact | August 4, 2018

ID is Needed to Buy Groceries

Campaigning for voter ID laws Donald Trump pointed out at a rally, “You know, if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card, you need ID,” Trump continued. “You go out and you want to buy anything, you need ID and you need your picture.”

“From coast to coast, food-seeking scofflaws were turned away from supermarkets, convenience stores and fruit markets as they tried to circumvent the nation’s long-standing grocery I.D. laws,” wrote comedian Andy Borowitz in a satirical article for the New Yorker.

As Borowitz imagines it (in an actual fake news story) a supermarket cashier quipped: “It’s always, ‘Oh, I left my food I.D. in my other pants,’ or some B.S. like that. Believe me, I’ve heard it all.”

In the real world Donald Trump also says there is no global warming.  The EU is America’s foe and Russia is not trying to interfere with America’s elections.

Who is laughing now?

Posted by: coastcontact | July 31, 2018

Parkinson’s disease

Alan Alda reveals he has Parkinson’s disease. ‘It hasn’t stopped my life at all.’ Alda is 82. Alda’s most famous role was on the television program MASH.

Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye ” Pierce in MASH

Michael J. Fox, the actor, found himself with Parkinson’s at 29 years old.  He is now 57. Despite the disease he has led an active life. He is the father of four children. Fox is most famous for his roles as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movies.

 

The following is copied verbatim from the Mayo Clinic website.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms start gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Tremors are common, but the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.

In the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, your face may show little or no expression. Your arms may not swing when you walk. Your speech may become soft or slurred. Parkinson’s disease symptoms worsen as your condition progresses over time.

Although Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured, medications might significantly improve your symptoms. Occasionally, your doctor may suggest surgery to regulate certain regions of your brain and improve your symptoms.

  • Tremor. A tremor, or shaking, usually begins in a limb, often your hand or fingers. You may a rub your thumb and forefinger back-and-forth, known as a pill-rolling tremor. Your hand may tremor when it’s at rest.
  • Slowed movement (bradykinesia). Over time, Parkinson’s disease may slow your movement, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming. Your steps may become shorter when you walk. It may be difficult to get out of a chair. You may drag your feet as you try to walk.
  • Rigid muscles. Muscle stiffness may occur in any part of your body. The stiff muscles can be painful and limit your range of motion.
  • Impaired posture and balance. Your posture may become stooped, or you may have balance problems as a result of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Loss of automatic movements. You may have a decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging your arms when you walk.
  • Speech changes. You may speak softly, quickly, slur or hesitate before talking. Your speech may be more of a monotone rather than with the usual inflections.
  • Writing changes. It may become hard to write, and your writing may appear small.

 

Posted by: coastcontact | July 26, 2018

Weird and Creepy Cults Still Active Today

I was surprised to see Bloomberg Businessweek feature an article about a cult that is active and growing today in America.  The article by Ellen Huet details a group calling itself OneTaste. The group is pushing its sexuality wellness education toward the mainstream. Some former members say it pushed them into sexual servitude and five-figure debts.  The privately held company had revenue $6.5 Million USD in 2014. It appears to have locations in at least eight cities in the United States.

I suggest you read the OneTaste article in Businessweek.  It is a window into a culture that is thriving in America.

There are many other cults in the United States. A web site titled GRUNG lists a whole host of creepy cults. Branch Davidian and Jonestown are two of the most memorable cults of the past.

After reading the article in Businessweek I concluded we are all searching for some kind of pleasure and peace in a world that many of us do not like.

Posted by: coastcontact | July 25, 2018

Heat Storms in Los Angeles are the New Normal

You should stay indoors due to record-breaking heat in Southern California, officials warned today.  

While other parts of the world experience tornadoes, heavy rain, hurricanes, and snow storms, Los Angeles is facing another kind of storm that has been coined as “Heat Storms.”

Weather reporters on television in this city are constantly reminding viewers that Southern California has a Mediterranean climate that provides the coastal area with moderate temperatures throughout the year.

Unfortunately the climate has changed continuously over at least the past 30 years or more. Snails and slugs were prevalent in my garden in the early 80s but disappeared entirely by 1990.

This month we have already experienced eight days of 90 degree plus temperatures including a 108 and 104 degree temps. Unfortunately it has been even hotter in the inland valleys of the city. Temperatures have exceeded 100 degrees seven times in the San Fernando Valley this month.   One day in the Valley the temp reached 117 degrees. The forecast is for at least another four more days of this current heat storm.

The consequence of the very hot temperatures has been the death of at least one postal worker among others.

A USC study of weather patterns for Southern California confirms my suspicions. The study is titled HISTORICAL TEMPERATURE TRENDS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA

Departure from average for mean temperature, minimum temperature, and maximum temperature for the South Coast Region in the State of California. The bold line is 11-year running mean and the thin line is the departure from the mean for a region between Point Conception and the Mexico border. Source: Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/monitor/cal-mon/index.html)

Departure from average for mean temperature, minimum temperature, and maximum temperature for the South Coast Region in the State of California. The bold line is 11-year running mean and the thin line is the departure from the mean for a region between Point Conception and the Mexico border. Source: Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/monitor/cal-mon/index.html)

The super hot days starting July 5 of this year were called a Heat Storm by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. 29,350 customers out of LADWP’s 1.5 million total customers lost power during that storm according to the DWP.

A Los Angeles Times article dated July 12, 2018 confirms my observations.

The record-breaking heat that baked Southern California and prompted mass power outages last weekend was just a taste of what is to come. Summers in SoCal have already been getting hotter over the last century. Climate change is expected to produce more frequent and more blistering heat waves in the coming years that will put unprecedented stress on the electrical grid and challenge utilities to keep the power on.

Los Angeles, apparently, isn’t ready for the new normal. The demand for electricity Friday, Saturday and Sunday overwhelmed the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s aged system, prompting power outages that affected more than 80,000 customers. The unluckiest people went 48 hours without electricity; they and many others had to evacuate their homes in search of air conditioning elsewhere.

The solar panel industry will be booming as we all receive our summer bills.

Posted by: coastcontact | July 22, 2018

Vieste on the Adriatic coast of Italy


If Italy’s boot-shaped landmass has a spur, that spur is Vieste. The cliffside village juts out into the pristine waters of the Adriatic, with numerous hidden beaches and grottos along the town’s coastline. Vieste may seem as if it’s frozen in some romantic past. That’s due in part to the fact that this seaside village, with the wind-and-water eroded cliffs, is within the boundaries of Gargano National Park. Efforts to preserve the park’s natural beauty have greatly influenced policies intended to protect the town of Vieste as well.

Posted by: coastcontact | July 21, 2018

Why I love quirky and wonderful Canter’s Deli

When we visited Toronto Canada last year we went to Caplansky’s Jewish Deli and I mentioned Canter’s.  Caplansky’s does not even come close to Canter’s. The person behind the counter knew all about Canter’s as well as Langer’s.  So Canter’s is at least known around North America.  It might be world famous.

Los Angeles Times By Evan Kleiman

Jul 19, 2018

In this age of highly curated artisanal food and free-range Scandinavian design, it’s easy to pick apart an institution like Canter’s. But I’ve been eating there since forever and I love it.

Canter’s provides the same level of comfort as lying around on the couch in your pj’s. It feels like home — if home is the dynamic L.A. life set in a slice of well- loved vintage.

A colleague from Northern California recently asked me if Canter’s makes its own gefilte fish, and I burst out laughing. That’s not the point of Canter’s. It’s for when you want a wide swath of deli menu items but you want to put on zero airs. You can practically show up in your night clothes and no one blinks. For me, that lack of pretense is exactly the point. I know what I’m going to get — and what I’m not going to get.

The deli’s appeal is its consistency and its embrace of all who come. Every day, a parade of people of all ages and type walks through the front doors. Goths, punks, hipsters, grandchildren in quantity, Supreme heads, hippies, middle-aged writers still waiting for their first break, seniors eking out a day’s meal on Social Security.

 Then there are my faves to watch: kids in their early 20s, accompanied by their bewildered visiting parents. For a moment, I see the place through their eyes, the freewheeling mix of the clientele that makes Canter’s what it is. It delights me that I live in a town where there is still a place for strange.

Oh, the waitresses and waiters are the best, beloved to the “regulahs” — as some call us. When my mom had her needlepoint store, Petit Point Junction on Robertson Boulevard, she would start everyday at Canter’s. Jeannie, who worked there for more than 50 years, would greet her with a “Hi, hon.” “How ya doing, babe?” my mom would respond. This went on for more than 20 years.

 When the ceiling collapsed after a severe rainstorm, Jeannie was on the sidewalk making sure no one got hurt walking through construction debris. When the new ceiling turned out to be a fake stained glass evocation of fall in New England, it added yet another layer of weirdness to an already quirky place.

 Everyone is greeted like they are family and handed a menu that requires two hands and considerable focus to wade through. But we regulahs know what we want before we hit the door, and what a comfort that is.

Weekday lunch, it’s a tuna melt with fries. Monday early dinner, a bowl of barley bean soup. Leisurely breakfast, the lox and bagel plate. Sure, it’s not the double-smoked lox at Wexler’s, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s Canter’s. It’s more than what’s on the plate.

Kleiman ran Angeli Caffe for 27 years. She’s the longtime host of KCRW-FM’s “Good Food” and a member of the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.

Posted by: coastcontact | July 16, 2018

Donald Trump’s Disgraceful Summit Press Conference

I can understand Democrats criticising Donald Trump but these are some of the comments made by Republicans after the Trump Putin press conference in Helsinki Finland.  I have selected just a few of the reported comments made by Republican members of congress.

I would say his words of praise of Vladimir Putin and Russia are treasonous.  Congressional Republicans will have to decide whether Donald Trump should be impeached.  I would support that decision. 

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who has consistently criticized the President, said Trump’s comments were “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

 

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said the President “made us look like a pushover” and that Putin was probably eating caviar on the plane home.

 

Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, “This is bizarre and flat-out wrong. The United States is not to blame. America wants a good relationship with the Russian people but Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet-style aggression. When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs.”

 

Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, “I am confident former CIA Director and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, DNI Dan Coats, Ambassador Nikki Haley, FBI Director Chris Wray, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others will be able to communicate to the President it is possible to conclude Russia interfered with our election in 2016 without delegitimizing his electoral success.”

 

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican who has been constant critic, called the President’s performance “shameful.” “I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful,” tweeted Flake, who is not running for re-election.

 

John Brennan, Former CIA Director (2013-17) Tweet, “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”

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