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Here’s what the stricken cruise ship the Costa Concordia, looks like now from space. Could you imagine what it looked like to its stranded and panicked passengers from its wildly tilting decks the night it crashed earlier this year?

When the cruise ship, Costa Concordia, twice the size of the Titanic with 4200 innocent passengers aboard, hit the rocks off the coast of Italy earlier this year, the incompetence and cowardice of its captain and many of its crew became manifest, as 32 died and thousands suffered terror and injury in the early hours of what was supposed to be a luxurious cruise of a state-of-the-art ship.

Except — the captain was more interested in his girlfriend and in showing off, than is captaining his ship, and a cruise line that thought a casual dinner and a good night’s sleep would be more useful than a safety drill, or a well-crained and disciplined crew. This captain should get the electric chair and this cruise line, which clearly had lousy standards for training and safety and is seeking legal protection to limit its liability, should be put out of business and forgo its assets, at the very least.

The compelling, blow by blow story of the sinking of the Costa Concordia can be read in the May, 2012, edition of Vanity Fair magazine, “Another Night to Remember,” by Jonas Fredwall Karlsson.

People interested in cruising should demand to know the safety records of not only the cruise lines and ships they will sail upon but the experience and records of the senior crew of those ships. They should demand evidence of the safety training of the crews, from captain to steward, and they should demand thorough safety drills as they leave port, not hours or a day later.

And citizens should demand of their legislators better laws of the sea regarding passenger ship safety, and also better liability protection in event of problems at sea, ranging from sexual predation to disasters of every kind. As Presidential candidates and Senators and Congressmen to take positions and seek action on behalf of the cruising public, who already pay a lot to set to sea, but shouldn’t have to pay with their physical and economic safety at risk

and this morning the rabbits and squirrels are again running about the long-parched lawn in front of my window at Applewood, and the birds are poking their beaks into the newly softened ground. There is a softness in the air that we’ve not felt much of lately, and the light, too, is soft and not glaring, as it filters through the green of the trees. The cats, too, are lively, and playing about the house. Gala, our feral, has come in twice this morning, and she frolicked down the hall with Cider, her perennial foe. There are some easy chores to do, and it proffers to be a nice day, all in all. 

But then again, I’m not running for President of the United States. Potential candidates might want to consider such things BEFORE throwing their hat into the proverbial public ring.

Yes, the Daily Show is off the air on DirecTV because Viacom wants a Billion dollars to renew. I just went to Viacom.com and sent them this email. If you care about justice and the American Way, and want back your Daily Show, suggest you and your friends let Viacom know whee you stand:

“Settle with DirecTV and bring back the Daily Show. Creating an audience for a great show, the only real critical, honest and funny news show on TV, was a wonderful thing. Taking it away from loyal viewers like us is unforgivable. Please fix this ASAP. I’m a retired VP of Communications for a Dow Jones Industrial, and I’ll devote my efforts to influencing the reputation of Viacom in accordance with your actions in this regard until you fix this mess. Thank you for understanding. Americans don’t like your extortion of DirecTV, or anyone else for that matter”

That’s right, DirecTV and Comedy Central have broken off negotiations over renewing their 7 year-old contract, over money, and so viewers of the Daily Show, the funniest, best and just about only candid and honest political TV news show on the air, will no longer get the program if they subscribe to DirecTV, like we do in Wisconsin.

If you, or someone you know and like, subscribes to DirecTV, or has any mercy on those who do, go online NOW to DirecTV and Comedy Central and tell them to grow up and settle their differences, or we’ll just have to sit out this election!

As evident climate change rages — the US saw the highest temps ever in the 12 months ending in June — the world goes on with its little wars, petty politics and fixation on Hollywood scandals. As our forests burn, our lawns crinkle in the merciless sun, our crops wither and storms rage through the countryside, the news media babbles on about the symptoms, but almost no-one locks in on the issues and the decisions that are needed for climate management and mitigation.

As the US moves toward our Presidential election, the talk is all about jobs and the size of government, and not about energy policy and transportation and the things that will effect us all, for eternity. As the future of mankind goes at risk, we cut out the manned space program. Heads in sand.

Doth the world fiddle while the climate changes? Isn’t it time for a new politics, and for building hope for a new world? Following from the EPA:

Climate change affects everyone

Our lives are connected to the climate. Human societies have adapted to the relatively stable climate we have enjoyed since the last ice age which ended several thousand years ago. A warming climate will bring changes that can affect our water supplies, agriculture, power and transportation systems, the natural environment, and even our own health and safety.

Some changes to the climate are unavoidable. Carbon dioxide can stay in the atmosphere for nearly a century, so Earth will continue to warm in the coming decades. The warmer it gets, the greater the risk for more severe changes to the climate and Earth’s system. Although it’s difficult to predict the exact impacts of climate change, what’s clear is that the climate we are accustomed to is no longer a reliable guide for what to expect in the future.

We can reduce the risks we will face from climate change. By making choices that reduce greenhouse gas pollution, and preparing for the changes that are already underway, we can reduce risks from climate change. Our decisions today will shape the world our children and grandchildren will live in.

but Independence Day is the commemoration of the adoption of the Declartion of Independence, on July 4th, 1776, by the Continental Congress.

Tonight on the network news, I listened to esteemed broadcaster Brian Williams refer to “July 4th” and the fireworks and the food, and never mention Independence Day, or its meaning in history and in the present day.

Christmas is on December 25th every year, but its meaning, whether religious or secular,  is in its name, not the date.

Independence Day is about where we came from and what our forefathers did, and wouldn’t it be nice, and meaningful, to discuss among ourselves and our children how we are part of that process? That little word, “independence,” is a cornerstone of what makes America and Americans what and who we are. A discussion of how “independence” and “interdependence” relate to us in our contemporary American and global culture might be a productive way to spend “the Fourth of July.” Just saying…

Happy Independence Day!

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