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It's always foolish to put your faith in Donald Trump. He's incapable of thinking strategically about anything besides advancing his own material interests.So it makes perfect sense to presume that Trump's apparent decision to permit Turkey to conduct military operations against (until now) American-backed Kurdish forces near the Turkish border in Syria has nothing to do with geopolitical strategy or any process of foreign policymaking beyond his personal and business relationship with Turkey's quasi-authoritarian president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.But that doesn't mean that the bipartisan freak-out against Trump's policy shift is founded in a coherent strategic vision. It isn't. Instead it grows out of a combination of inertia, hubris, pusillanimity, and moralism -- all of them traits that have been on the ascent since the end of the Cold War, and especially since the September 11 attacks.The one positive thing to come out of Trump's flailing foreign policy is that it has exposed the incapacity of the country's leading thinkers in international affairs to offer a compelling reason to resist the president's mischief-making and revert to the status quo. That doesn't give us much to work with now. But it just might set America up for an eventual reckoning with our foolishness and mistakes over the past few decades.The most common response to Trump's announced change of course in Syria has been a cry of lament for the fate of Kurds, who may well find themselves the target of Turkish attacks. How can we abandon allies who fought by our side against the Islamic State and allow them to be crushed by a dictator like Erdogan?There's just one problem -- or rather, several. For one thing, the Kurds aren't our allies. Allies are defined by mutuality: We promise to defend a given state if attacked, that state promises to defend us if we are attacked. The Kurds, a stateless ethnic group found in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, has zero capacity to come to America's defense. They are American clients: We have provided them with aid and protection in return for help in fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Precisely how long should the United States be obligated to provide that protection in a dangerous part of the world 6,000 miles from our borders? None of Trump's critics in and out of Congress will tell us. Instead, they'd rather posture earnestly and avoid having to answer.If the U.S. has an ally in the region, it is … Turkey, a member of NATO, an explicit defense alliance. Do those denouncing Erdogan favor ejecting Turkey from NATO, thereby revoking the country's status as an American ally? Maybe that makes sense. But deciding whether it does would require engaging in clear-sighted strategic thinking about NATO, its purpose, and American interests in the Middle East, which is something no one wants to do. They'd rather keep Turkey in NATO -- because no one ever leaves NATO, and because keeping Turkey in the organization helps to antagonize Vladimir Putin -- and then bash the government in Ankara when it's convenient to do so.When critics of Trump's policy shift want to sound harder-nosed, they move beyond Turkey and the Kurds and talk instead about how irresponsible it would be to give up the fight against ISIS: If we don't stay in Syria, terrorists will grow powerful again, threatening the U.S. homeland like they did on 9/11!The first thing to be asked in response to those making such claims is whether they think it's possible for the U.S. to win any war anywhere in the world. Because if the battle against ISIS, which began in earnest five years ago, is measured against the goals enunciated at the start -- the elimination of ISIS's territorial caliphate -- it has been a smashing success. We won. The caliphate is gone. Yet now the goalposts have been shifted. Now "victory" has been redefined to mean … I'm not really sure. Sometimes it sounds like the goal is to make sure ISIS or a successor Islamist organization doesn't arise. At other times it appears to mean something even more amorphous, like the complete elimination of any person who might aspire to revive the caliphate at some time in the future.But is that a sensible foreign policy goal? Keeping an American military footprint in the desert of Syria and Iraq in order to exert control over what happens there for fear that it may possibly cause eventual harm to the United States, a continent and an ocean away? Even assuming this makes sense, for how long should it continue? Five more years? Ten? Twenty? More? And what metrics should we use to evaluate whether it's really benefiting the country, or is working, or has worked?No one wants to say because no one has an answer that makes sense. It's enough, they think, to speak gravely and vaguely about dire threats and keep us doing the same thing -- always expanding American commitments abroad, never pulling them back, and never even prioritizing among them. Anywhere.The U.S. is committed, all at once, to defending Europe, including serving as a check on Russia's ambitions in Eastern Europe, and to defending Israel. It also wants to micromanage regional rivalries across the Middle East in perpetuity. And keep a lid on terrorist activity across North Africa. And win an 18-year-old game of Whack-a-Mole against the Taliban in Afghanistan. And contain North Korea. And stand toe to toe with a rising China. And determine the outcome of a political transition in Venezuela.That's a lot for any country to handle intelligently or wisely -- because having such control-freak ambitions in the world isn't intelligent or wise in the first place. That doesn't mean that Donald Trump's acting out in defiance of Washington's foreign policy consensus makes sense. But it does mean that those who oppose the president need to do more than run screaming back into the arms of that consensus without reflection on its many unacknowledged problems and confusions.Want more essential commentary and analysis like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for The Week's "Today's best articles" newsletter here.
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Donald Trump's allies have turned on the president after he took the decision to green-light an offensive by Turkish on its Kurdish allies in Syria. President Trump apparently made the decision without consultation from his own advisers or intelligence services, who warned that it could prove to be one of the most reckless decisions of his presidency. Mr Trump appeared focused on making good on his political pledges to bring home American troops from “ridiculous endless wars”, even at the risk of sending a troubling signal to American allies abroad. Key Republican leaders in Congress appeared taken aback by the move, which they called a “betrayal” that could stain the US’s name. "I want to make sure we keep our word for those who fight with us and help us," Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader, said, adding that, "If you make a commitment and somebody is fighting with you. America should keep their word." Mr Trump defended his decision in a series of breathless tweets, writing: “I was elected on getting out of these ridiculous endless wars, where our great Military functions as a policing operation to the benefit of people who don’t even like the USA (sic).” Senator Lindsey Graham, a top Republican ally of Mr Trump, said Congress could impose economic sanctions on Turkey and threaten its Nato membership if Ankara invaded Syria. A female fighter of the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) flashes the victory gesture while celebrating near the Omar oil field in the eastern Syrian Deir Ezzor province on March 23, 2019, after announcing the total elimination of the Islamic State (IS) group's last bastion in eastern Syria. Credit: AFP Mr Graham also said that Mr Trump's moves were a "disaster in the making" that would empower Isil in Syria. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of Mr Trump's key allies, added his voice of dissent, saying: "A precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime." The warning was echoed by the US’s partners on the ground, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which claimed yesterday their ability to contain thousands of prisoners in their detention had become severely compromised. "We were doing our best to provide the best kind of security... but with the Turkish invasion we are forced to pull out some of our troops from the prisons and from the camps to the border to protect our people," Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the Kurdish-led SDF said. "The Islamic State will benefit from the security vacuum that will follow, and will strengthen and regroup itself," he said, adding that it would undo years of work defeating the jihadists. The SDF has been holding some 10,000 male Isil suspects, including an estimated 10 Britons, in prisons across north-eastern Syria, many of which fall inside Turkey’s proposed 18-mile deep, 300-mile-long buffer zone. This does not include the more than 70,000 women and children held in detention camps would could also be at risk. The White House statement announcing the news was released shortly after a phone call between Mr Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday night. Foreign prisoners in Syria detained by the SDF in Baghuz during the battle for Isil's last stronghold Credit: CBS Mr Erdogan had reportedly assured the US president that Ankara would take over the detention of Isil militants captured by the SDF. He said in a brief statement to press on Monday that he thought the numbers of Isil prisoners had been exaggerated but Turkey was ready to “remove them swiftly”, without elaborating. Mr Trump has repeatedly asked countries working with the US-led coalition against Isil to repatriate their citizens, even threatening on numerous occasions to release them. However, the UK, France, Germany, and other allies have so far refused. “The United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost to the United States taxpayer,” a White House statement released on Sunday said. “Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years in the wake of the defeat of the territorial “Caliphate” by the United States.” On Monday night, US Central Command, however, issued a statement saying that the US does not support Turkey invading Kurdish territory. "The Department of Defense made clear to Turkey - as did the President - that we do not endorse a Turkish operation in Northern Syria. The US Armed Forces will not support, or be involved in any such operation," said Jonathan Hoffman, Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. Turkey - Syria map Coalition sources said the chance of a smooth handover from Kurdish to Turkish control was “virtually impossible”, leaving the prospect of prisoners breaking free in the chaos. Western diplomats told the Telegraph they too were surprised by Mr Trump’s statement, saying they had not been told in advance. They said European governments were rethinking their strategy on suspects being held in Syria. Mr Trump’s decision to pull back from Syria was criticised by Brett McGurk, the former special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat Isil who quit in December over differences of opinion with the president on post-Isil US strategy. "Donald Trump is not a Commander-in-Chief. He makes impulsive decisions with no knowledge or deliberation," Mr McGurk tweeted. "He sends military personnel into harm’s way with no backing. He blusters and then leaves our allies exposed when adversaries call his bluff or he confronts a hard phone call." The US had for months been working with Turkey to try to create a “safe zone” along its border with northern Syria between the Turkish military and Kurdish forces which Ankara sees as terrorists. At a glance | The four Kurdistans Turkey has repeatedly criticised its slow implementation and threatened a unilateral assault, but until now the US had refused to stand aside. "The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades," Mr Trump said in a series of irate tweets. "Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out." Analysts said on Monday that the US's Kurdish had been left feeling abandoned. “For some time there is a belief in Washington that President Trump and the conventional US are two separate things. Perception is that he makes decisions without consulting his own government, advisers. Kurds and people on the ground they have been surprised by the decision," Mutlu Civiroglu, Washington-based Kurdish Affairs analyst, told the Telegraph. "Kurds are worried, disappointed. They put a lot of trust in the US, which is the only reason they went ahead with the security mechanism put forward by the US and they expect America to stand with them.”
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Telekinetic girl Hina drops into the home of vase-collecting yakuza Nitta, who she then coerces into letting her stick around by threatening to destroy his entire collection.
| Cache ||President Donald Trump on Monday launched a harsh attack on NATO ally Turkey, threatening to destroy its economy if Ankara takes a planned military strike in Syria too far, even though the U.S. leader himself has opened the door for a Turkish incursion.|
| Cache ||Hugo Lloris not expected to return to action until 2020 after dislocating his elbow in Tottenham’s Premier League clash against Brighton.|
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The 25-year-old Red Wings winger Anthony Mantha has spent the past few seasons threatening to become a truly great goalscorer, and on Sunday night against the Stars, he announced himself with a spectacular performance befitting his high expectations. Mantha has been a solid 20-goal guy for the Wings over the past…
| Cache ||The Swedes may have a reputation for making safe decisions, but Volvo is threatening to upend that with news that it plans to split off its combustion engine production as it refocuses on electrification. The automaker has announced plans with parent company Geely to merge their respective ICE (internal combustion engine) operations into a single, → |
| Cache ||A Bryan man has admitted to threatening a woman with a knife after prosecutors say she accidentally backed her truck into the path of his bicycle. According to the Brazos County district attorney’s office, the plea agreement sentences 33 year old Michael Golatt to 15 years for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Prosecutors say […]|
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So, I visited Montreal Simon to read his latest post
, which was a condemnation of the Scheer Conservatives and their fans who are bringing USA-Repugnican style hatred and violent rhetoric up here. It started off well with a picture of some sub-literate right-wing moron holding up this ridiculous (and frightening) hand-made sign:
I've said on numerous occasions that stupid people must have the same right to vote as non-stupid people. But there needs to be gatekeepers to prevent the rise of stupid ideas and rage-fueled political movements from having any prominence greater than the level of three city blocks. Alas, for reasons of selfish cynicism our media and corporate elites see fit to pander to these cretins and stir them up. As well (whose kidding who?) from their own behaviour and the words that flow from their mouths, pens, pencils, keyboards, many among our elites aren't all that intelligent either.
Montreal Simon goes from trashing right-wing assholes calling for Trudeau to be "hung" (or run over by a truck) for taxing them, for verbally acknowledging global warming, for admitting Syrian refugees, for marching in PRIDE parades, and etc., ... where was I? .... Oh yeah, ... Simon goes from condemning those assholes to conflating them with progressives who yell at him for buying the TMX pipeline (so as to bail-out the Bay Street parasites who invested in that bitumen project) and praises Trudeau for asking his supporters (booing the guy) for tolerance as he lets his security drag the man away.
Immediately afterwards Simon mentions a guy who threw an egg at Trudeau during a climate march in Montreal, but it's unclear from the Global News video what that guy's agenda was. Personally, I've never gotten too incensed about ordinary people throwing pies (or, now, eggs) in the faces of politicians.
"What if that pie/egg had been a gun or a bomb or a knife?!?"
Yeah. But you're missing the important point that it wasn't a gun or a bomb or a knife. It was a cream-pie/egg. You could just as well shriek that the hand of someone extended for a handshake could have been a gun. But it wasn't. The person sticking their hand out to a passing politician just wants a handshake. Just as the person with the pie wants to make a statement and not kill anybody.
Simon then starts his spiel about how Justin Trudeau is the most activist politician fighting climate change EVAH!!!! because of his carbon tax and his investments in renewable energy industries. But, if Simon were honest (or not honestly ignorant) he would know that this is mere tinkering and that it is all cancelled-out by his continuing to develop the Tar Sands. Which is par for the course for a liberal politician. They're the masters n' mistresses of using empty words to gull their deluded followers. They "feel your pain." They "want to see all people rise to their full potential." They "don't want to see anyone left behind." They say the things we want to hear in order to get elected and continue to say those things as they enact policies that contradict their flowery words.
The end result of political cowardice and deliberate deceit by politicians like Justin Trudeau is going to be the extinction of most of the earth's life-forms. It will AT LEAST mean the deaths of tens of millions of people. Given this, it was justified for that protester to yell at Trudeau for his sickening devotion to the TMX pipeline. And it is the height of stupidity to conflate environmentalists with legitimate grievances with Islamophobic, racist, right-wing homophobic shit-heads threatening all their adversaries with murder. (Notice how that protester at the Liberal rally stayed right where he was and didn't make a step towards Trudeau.)
And, of course, the first "commentor" was Simon's in-all-but-name co-blogger "Jackie Blue." I haven't (and won't) read her entire densely-packed, extended comment. But she basically says that leftist "shit-disturbers" are as big a threat (to "rational centrists") as right-wingers. Now, given the evidence from Simon's own post, anyone not an idiot can see that isn't true. She then goes on to whine about the progressives who didn't vote for mass-murderess, corrupt scumbag Hillary Clinton. Because "Jackie Blue" continues with the bullshit story that she's a US-American and she continues with the bullshit belief that Hillary Clinton wasn't a murdering scumbag.
Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq War you stupid fuck! She voted for a war based on obvious stupid lies. The war she voted for has KILLED ONE MILLION IRAQIS and maimed and traumatized millions more. And that's only one of her colossal "mistakes" that she made while servicing the oligarchy and becoming a multi-millionaire herself. And it was Hillary's own sense of entitlement that led her to rig the Democratic primary to defeat Bernie Sanders and thereby bring on the presidency of Donald Trump. Hillary gave us Trump you imbecile!
As a species, we have to do the hard work of overthrowing his rotten, inhuman, ecocidal system. And the longer that (mostly decent-minded) people like Montreal Simon pledge hysterical allegiance to hucksters like Liberals, the longer (and perhaps TOO LATE) will it take to start that job in earnest.
(I'll end by saying that I probably won't be voting. My riding is a contest between the Libs and the Cons. And, from reading this article
, I'm pretty much deflated about my choices anyway.)
| Cache ||Wild Waves Theme Park Parking Lot Shooting, Federal Way, WA Leaves Teen Injured. (King5.com) Could the shooting at a Federal Way theme park parking lot have been prevented and are justice and compensation available to the victim? Read Our Legal Take below to find out what legal options are available. Local News Gunfire rang out at a Federal Way, Washington theme park parking lot Friday night, October 4, 2019, leaving one teen injured. As reported by King5.com, the shooting happened “in the parking lot of Wild Waves Theme & Water Park in Federal Way Friday night.” According to the report, “[t]he victim was treated by medics at the scene before taken to Harborview Medical Center with life-threatening injuries…he was in stable condition Saturday morning.” TheNewsTribune.com is reporting, “[t]he 17-year-old victim was shot just before 11 p.m. after he was reportedly involved in an altercation with a group of people.” At…|
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BEIRUT (AP) — Syria's Kurds accused the U.S. of turning its back on its allies and risking gains made in the fight against the Islamic State group as American troops began pulling back on Monday from positions in northeastern Syria ahead of an expected Turkish assault.
U.S. President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to stand aside — announced by the White House late Sunday — infuriated Kurds, who stand to lose the autonomy they gained in the course of Syria's civil war.
The Kurdish force pledged to fight back, raising the potential for an eruption of new warfare in Syria. "We will not hesitate for a moment in defending our people" against Turkish troops, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said in a statement, adding that it has lost 11,000 fighters in the war against IS in Syria.
As many as 300,000 people could immediately be driven from their homes in northeast Syria if Turkey launches its offensive, the International Rescue Committee warned Monday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened for months to launch the military operation across the border. He views the Syria Kurdish forces as terrorists and a threat to his country as Ankara has struggled with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.
Ankara has been demanding a "safe zone" stretching the length of northern Syria along Turkey's southern border to be patrolled by Turkish troops and their allied Syrian forces. That would put a significant portion of Syria's Kurdish population under effective Turkish control.
Erdogan on Monday said American troops have started pulling back following his conversation with Trump the night before. He did not elaborate on the planned Turkish incursion but said Turkey was determined to halt what it perceives as threats from the Syrian Kurdish fighters.
The SDF issued a sharp condemnation of the American move. "The American forces did not abide by their commitments and withdrew their forces along the border with Turkey," it said.
A U.S. official confirmed that American troops were already moving out of the security zone area, which includes the Syrian towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad. That official was not authorized to speak for the record and was granted anonymity to comment.
A video posted by a Kurdish news agency showed a convoy of American armored vehicles apparently heading away from the border area of Tal Abyad.
America's rivals, including Iran, Russia and the Syrian government, stand to gain from a U.S. troop withdrawal from the oil-rich region in the north. Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted: "US is an irrelevant occupier in Syria — futile to seek its permission or rely on it for security."
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow realizes Turkey's need to ensure its security, but noted that "it's necessary to respect Syria's territorial and political integrity." Peskov wouldn't comment on whether the U.S. withdrawal could push the Kurds to seek a dialogue with Damascus.
Russia and Iran have helped Syrian President Bashar Assad reclaim control over most of the country following a devastating eight-year civil war.
Abdulkarim Omar, a senior official in the Kurdish self-rule administration, said they had been expecting the U.S. decision to withdraw and have made preparations for it. He didn't elaborate. But he warned that securing facilities holding IS militants would be jeopardized if an offensive begins because forces would be deployed there.
"We have been flexible even in dealing with Russia, which may play a role in the political resolution. We were flexible even in regards to Damascus," he said. "But what happened today is illogical."
The Kurdish-led SDF has been the main U.S.-backed force in Syria in the fight against IS. In March, the SDF captured the last sliver of land held by the extremists, marking the end of the so-called caliphate that was declared by IS's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014.
The U.S. and Turkey had been working on a compromise "security mechanism" for the border region that the Kurds had hoped would avert any Turkish offensive. Since August, joint U.S and Turkish aerial and ground patrols had started in a 125-kilometer (78-mile) zone. The SDF had cooperated, removing fortifications from the areas and withdrawing with heavy weapons.
But vital details of the mechanism were still being worked out, and Ankara had repeatedly expressed its impatience, threatening an attack.
Mustafa Bali, the SDF spokesman, tweeted that his group had not been not expecting the U.S. to protect northeastern Syria. "But people here are owed an explanation regarding the security mechanism deal and destruction of fortifications," he said.
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HEART attacks are considered serious medical emergencies and can prove fatal for anyone who suffers one. But the condition can be prevented by making some smart diet choices. Here are six foods proven to stave off a heart attack.
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BEST supplements for cholesterol: High cholesterol is a precursor to life-threatening complications. A growing body of evidence suggests including certain supplements in one’s diet can help to keep cholesterol in check.
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The vaping epidemic is like a PSA come to life. A recent outbreak of vaping-related deaths and illnesses has affected people from across 46 states. More than 800 people fell ill, and at least 17 people died from vaping. In Illinois and Wisconsin, 87% of the people who got sick said they used THC, and 71% of people also said they used products that contained nicotine. Symptoms of the illness included coughing, chest pains, shortness of breath, nausea, and fatigue. We finally might now why.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic believe toxic chemical fumes, not the actual chemicals in the vape liquid, might be the culprit. "It seems to be some kind of direct chemical injury, similar to what one might see with exposures to toxic chemical fumes, poisonous gases and toxic agents," Dr. Brandon Larsen, a surgical pathologist at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, said in release.
Initially, researchers thought lung damage was caused by accumulation of vape oils. However, when they looked at samples of lung tissues from 17 people who had vaped, they couldn't find evidence of lipoid pneumonia, a rare form of pneumonia caused by inhaling oils. Two of the patients studied had died from vaping, and 70% of the patients studied had used marijuana or cannabis oils. "Based on what we have seen in our study, we suspect that most cases involve chemical contaminants, toxic byproducts or other noxious agents within vape liquids," Larsen said. Scientists have confirmed what common sense should have already told us – inhaling toxic chemicals is bad for you.
This is the first formal study of lung tissue from people who have fallen ill after vaping. Vaping is still a relatively new alternative to smoking. The first commercially successful e-cigarette was developed in 2003, and they were introduced into the U.S. in 2006. We're still learning about the consequences of vaping.
Just because researchers have narrowed down what might be causing the illnesses doesn't mean we're out of the water just yet. Researchers still have to discover what chemicals are causing the illnesses and deaths. For now, the American Lung Association warns against vaping as it can cause irreversible lung damage, and Dr. Larson concurs. "Everyone should recognize that vaping is not without potential risks, including life-threatening risks, and I think our research supports that," he said.
The FDA is considering banning non-tobacco vape liquids altogether, and Michigan has already banned sales of e-cigarettes. San Francisco and Boulder, Colorado have similar bans as well.
This recent epidemic is a reminder that no form of smoking, electronic or otherwise, is truly safe. If you're trying to kick the habit, it might just be better to cut the habit altogether, rather than replace it with alternative forms of smoking.
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Official statement from Harwich Fire Department...
Official statement from Harwich Fire Department...
Main Image Credit:
Photo from scene where a vehicle had fallen into a construction trench Monday morning. (HFD photo)
From the Harwich Fire Department:
The Harwich Fire Department responded to a report of a car into a construction trench on Depot Street this morning. The incident required the activation of the County Technical Rescue Team. 2 individuals were transported with non-life threatening injuries.
A one vehicle accident occurred at the intersection of Depot St and Denise Lane in the North Harwich section of town. A vehicle fell into a construction trench for a gas line project. No other vehicles were involved, and the project was for the installation of new gas main, so there was no danger of a natural gas leak.
The Barnstable County Regional Technical Rescue Team was requested by Chief Clarke while he was responding to the scene, and upon his arrival he determined that the team would in fact be required to help safely remove the occupants. The team, made up of firefighters from throughout Barnstable County, arrived on scene and worked with the tow company to stabilize the vehicle and remove the two occupants.
Once the occupants were removed they were evaluated by Harwich Fire personnel and transported to Cape Cod Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The team then assisted the tow company with removal of the vehicle from the trench.
The accident is under investigation by the Harwich Police Department.
(See Harwich Fire Department photos below)
| Cache ||According to the Kansas City police department, Four people were killed and five others were injured during a shooting early Sunday morning at a bar. Five people also were wounded but suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to local hospitals. A call came in around 1:27 a.m. about a shooting in the area around 10th […]|
| Cache ||Here is part of Professor Dawkins' "Diary" in this week's Spectator magazine:|
I hate the very idea of a referendum. Referendums are capable of naming a ship ‘Boaty McBoatface’. We are a parliamentary democracy. We vote for representatives who have the time (and salary) to examine complicated economic and political issues thoroughly and give an informed vote. Nevertheless, having got into this mess through David Cameron’s cowardly folly, the only way out is another referendum. If Leave wins again, we should accept it with good grace and make the best of it. But it’s hard to imagine that Leave could possibly win again, now that we know — as we did not in 2016 — what Leave really means. A connoisseur, too, of religious faith, I detect it in the fanatical zeal of Brexiteers: those for whom the 2016 vote has become unchangeable holy writ; those who are prepared to force Brexit through at any price, even if the price is the obvious and undeniable disaster of no deal. Boris Johnson’s bullying, threatening bluster, when he should be apologising if not resigning, may betoken cynical ambition, but the ill-mannered cheering-on by his barmy supporters surely stems from blind faith.
The kitten of his argument is eaten alive with polemical fleas. Washing these off, we see that he says referendums sometimes give answers that those in charge don't like, which is true, but trite; and that we should have a second referendum because Leavers didn't know what they were voting for the first time, which is not trite and not true.
If anything, during the pre-vote campaign the Leave-inclined public had an unduly bleak picture of economic consequences painted for them by the PM, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Governor of the Bank of England, CBI and all the other panjandrums riding Tom Pearce's grey mare towards Widecombe Fair and their downfall.
One could also argue that Remain-inclined voters were insufficiently informed of the likely consequences of staying in the EU: the military buildup, the legal seizure of control over UK Armed Forces, the aspiration to Empire, the dangerous fiscal imbalances in the Eurozone, the growing regional inequalities that are feeding social unrest, the threat to the UK's Welfare State of unlimited Schengen "free movement of people." Professor Dawkins may find it hard to imagine Leave winning again, but his view is coloured by the knowitall Oxford milieu in which he lives, and which prevents him from understanding - perhaps he has never even met them - the "fanatical", "barmy" and "blind" majority of his fellow subjects.
You may also care to de-flea his preceding paragraph, which is equally tendentious and oratorical:
I would normally not mention Brexit in a diary such as this. But the humiliation of our sick-joke Prime Minister has dominated the week and cannot be avoided. I expected a good verdict from the Supreme Court, but its unanimity and decisiveness had me whooping and thumping the table with joy. It really deserved a standing ovation and I sensed one rising up from decent people all over the country. Whether you voted Leave or Remain, you are surely revolted by the unashamed manipulation of the Queen for partisan political ends. Ends, moreover, that have no sensible connection to ‘the will of the people’. For when ‘the people’ expressed their will in 2016, ‘Leave’ most certainly did not mean ‘Leave with no deal’. It meant, as we were repeatedly assured, an orderly and amicable separation.
One reason he will have been given this space to air his views is that he has just brought out another theological tome, "Outgrowing God." The review in Private Eye magazine (issue 1506, p.36) is unsympathetic and identifies, I think correctly, a weakness in him: an inablity to appreciate alternative points of view. He seems to be the sort of person who "knows what he knows" and that is not a quality to make the best sort of university teacher, I should have thought.
But then the professorship he held from 1995 to 2008 was not for scientific research and teaching per se - though he is a highly distinguished
geneticist evolutionary biologist (corrected - please see Bruce Charlton's comment below). The chair of "Public Understanding of Science" was created specifically for him by the billionaire Microsoft applications developer Charles Simonyi, who will not have been unaware of Dawkins' views on religion. Dawkins was given a position that required him to communicate with the public; though under the circumstances, one wonders what is the gist of the messages Simonyi wished him to convey.
In any case, such is the Professor's "fanatical zeal" that he is in danger of undermining his own credibility. Philosopher and Christian Peter Williams says "far from being a disinterested advocate of truth, Dawkins spends his time preaching the gospel of atheism using a raft of fallacious arguments dressed up in an obscuring cloak of science" and gives examples of Dawkins' logical weaknesses here:
Returning to "Outgrowing God": the Private Eye reviewer says
... Worse still is the book's lack of empathy. There is no acknowledgement, let alone understanding, of the fact that, for some young people, science and reason may not offer the same degree of emotional comfort provided by the notion of God and, what's more, this does not necessarily make these individuals wankers. [...] There remains a coldness at the heart of Dawkins' writing that is as self-defeating as it is wearing.
I am sure that when discussing matters within his scientific field Dawkins makes perfect sense. But he may be blind to science's - and his own - limitations.
The philosopher AJ Ayer used to maintain that meaningful statements were only about what could be proved, a position from which he resiled later on. I suggest that one of the unprovable ones is Leibniz's question; "Why is there something rather than nothing?"
It seems to me that any scientific attempt to explain the origin of the Universe can only refer to things we observe in the Universe itself - time, space, matter, energy - and so the explanation will be circular. If the universe had a beginning, we cannot know how it started, even theoretically (references to a multiverse merely raise the question of how that started.) Alternatively, if there was no start, the brute fact of the Universe's existence is equally enigmatic.
I accept that by itself this conundrum goes nowhere near justifying all the tenets of religious dogmas; but I think Professor Dawkins should temper his assertions with a little humility and empathic understanding. He lays about him insensitively, like someone playing Blind-Man's-Buff.
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While the European family seems to be having its internal spats – populist sparks within threatening to light the powder keg – the marshals and deputies, for the most part, are attempting to contain the British contagion. Britain is still scheduled to leave on October 31 without a deal with the European Union. The divorce papers remain unimplemented, and the[Read More...]
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Hello again everybody! Welcome back to our Eldritch Legacy!
If you don't know what I'm on about, the Prologue and Chapter 1 are here: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2283361/eldritch-adventures...
Last time, Shub-Niggurath broke through and destroyed Earth-6, including its prisoner Great Old One, Manam'qua. All investigators but Father Mateo and Carolyn Fern were killed, with Carolyn becoming the arbiter of the last bastion of humanity and Mateo being imprisoned in a strange court in the Dreamlands belonging to the King of Dusk. But the repercussions of this disaster are not isolated to Earth-6...
Note: Once again, I am a bit protective of this story and will likely reuse many elements in my professional work, so if you want to borrow or base something off this material, please ask first! I'll most likely say yes.
And as always, I hope you enjoy!
Chapter 2: Something Stirs in the Deep Places
In Earth-1, the original version of the planet, a young musician named Jim Culver senses the massive death toll in Earth-6 and is troubled. He is not aware of the Dreamlands or of the other Earths, and as such cannot find factual support for the suffering he feels. Uniquely able to communicate with the dead, a practice facilitated by his beautiful music, he searches for understanding. Meanwhile, massive storms begin to rage across the planet, wrecking ships and disrupting trade routes. Aquatic humanoids calling themselves Deep Ones begin to assault shore-dwelling humans. Jim has a number of disturbing encounters with monstrous corpses, giving him recurring nightmares.
Jim’s search brings him in touch with a number of similarly-concerned individuals, people with some understanding of occult matters and the nature of the dangers threatening their world. They are: Ursula, an explorer and archeologist who suffered a traumatic experience in the Pyramids of Egypt and has been a tortured amnesiac ever since; Gloria, a failed author who discovered a massive cult conspiracy while searching for inspiration; and Bob, a well-to-do salesman who has lost an incredible amount of business due to the storms and attacks and who funds the groups’ research.
The team determines that the disturbances are being caused by an array of current events, each designed to cause damage to the stability of reality. Ursula departs for the Arctic Circle, which she scours via airplane until she locates an emplacement of alien machines that have mysteriously been reactivated and are punching holes throughout reality. Though she deactivates and destroys it, the damage is done, and many portals have been opened across all six Earths and the Dreamlands. Gloria traces another source of disturbance to the ocean near Australia, where she finds entire swaths of the ocean overlaid with the Dreamlands. She meets the crew of the White Ship, learning about the Dreamlands and the existence of other Earths. She convinces the crew them not to tear open any Gates and to remain on Earth-1 until reality has been stabilized.
Jim and Bob rally military and police forces across the globe, pushing back the Deep Ones and protecting coastal cities. Bob comes to retrieve Ursula from the Arctic Circle and is bonded to by an ancient Hyperborean spirit, who grants him extensive magical powers. Unfortunately, none of this is enough. Gloria and Ursula map the disturbances and locate a focal point, a seemingly empty spot in the Southern Pacific Ocean. The team travels there and discover an island not recorded on any map and entirely covered with a half-submerged city.
After exploring the island, which appears to operate on different laws of physics and principles of perspective and geometry than the rest of the world, the team realizes it has been converted into a massive prison for twisted monstrosities. Gloria identifies the city as R’lyeh, former capital city of the Great Old One Cthulhu on earth. Now it is a prison for him and his children, the Star Spawn…but he appears to be sensitive to the disturbances in reality, and waking up. Ursula discovers a weapon capable of slaying Star Spawn, the Sword of Y’ha-Talla, and bonds to the weapon. The team attempts to reinforce the wards around R’lyeh, but the excess magical energy opens a Gate above the city, and several Star Spawn tear free of their cells and magical sleep and fly through it.
Ursula, having developed something of a savior complex after repeatedly protecting her teammates from monsters, follows the Star Spawn through the portal and into Sydney, Australia. There she fights in the Battle of Sydney, singlehandedly slaying many cultists and monsters but nearly going insane in the process. Severely injured, she leaves the ruins of Sydney behind and flees through the only avenue available to her: back through the portal to R’lyeh.
In her absence, Jim, Gloria, Bob, and Jim and Bob’s dead friends have assembled a map of the world’s leylines. They believe that reinforcing them with magical rituals will counteract the crumbling structures of reality and re-seal the locks of R’lyeh. Bob has agreed to teleport to one major confluence and perform the rites there, while Jim and Gloria head to the former location of Atlantis to do the same. As they are prepared to board a boat and flee R’lyeh, Ursula returns through the portal.
Jim immediately takes the broken Ursula under his wing and nurses her body and mind back to health as Gloria handles the necessary magic. As they are preparing to complete the seal, a Star Spawn attacks the boat. The sick Ursula severs its arm and drives it off with the Sword. She finally recovers from her amnesia and remembers a harrowing chase through an ancient underground tomb, pursued by a dark figure whispering terrible prophecies. Her injuries and trauma combined are too much for her, and she dies in Jim’s arms.
As Gloria and Bob are concurrently finishing their rituals, the Star Spawn returns. Jim attempts to dissuade it from killing them, and it offers him a deal, essentially for his soul. Furious over Ursula’s death, he refuses and wields her sword against it, and the creature is so surprised that it buys his allies enough time to finish the rites. The creature and its brethren are sent back to R’lyeh and Cthulhu’s stirrings cease, bringing and end to the storms and twisted nightmares plaguing the populace.
The team begins to investigate the fragments of other worlds they witnessed and the information they received from the crew of the White Ship, trying to understand what caused the stirrings of Cthulhu and the near-miss apocalypse.
Well! That went quite a bit better than last time. What do you think of our new heroes? Why are multiple Great Old Ones stirring simultaneously? What exactly happened to Ursula under the Pyramids? Only time will tell...
Jim (Earth-I), assisting Gloria and Bob
Gloria (Earth-I), leading an investigation into other worlds
Bob (Earth-I), bonded with the ghost of a Hyperborean sorcerer
Mateo (Earth-VI), lost in the Dreamlands
Carolyn (Earth-VI), Grand Arbiter of the Australian Bastion
Changes to Planetary Status
Earth-I: City of R'lyeh re-sealed. Great Old One prisoner, Cthulhu, returned to sleep with his children. Human society largely unaware or dismissive of the supernatural.
Earth-VI: Overrun by the Thousand Young. Great Old One prisoner, Manam'qua, destroyed. Human survivors located in the Australian Bastion, the only safe continent remaining.
Ursula (Earth-I), slain protecting her allies from a Star Spawn
Preston (Earth-VI), betrayed by a pact and slain by the Thousand Young
Hank (Earth-VI), slain fighting Nug
Kate (Earth-VI), murdered by Nug
Jacqueline (Earth-VI), crushed by a Flying Polyp
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