Paper cutting tradition and spring blossoms


Click to go to article and more examplesPhoto/China News Service

A Chinese mom and her daughter drew several girls with graceful postures on paper and then cut out the dresses from their depictions. They held the papers in front of blossoms in a park in Beijing on April 3, turning the spring blossoms into pretty dresses.

Love for an educator is more powerful than the ignorant can understand

Dawson Tamatea had been a teacher at New Zealand’s Palmerston North High Boys School for nearly 30 years when he passed away suddenly of natural causes at the age of 55…The boys’ performance is a version of a “haka:” a traditional dance of the New Zealand aboriginals, called Maori. Originally performed to intimidate enemies, the haka is a powerful symbol in New Zealand culture and a fitting tribute to Mr. Tamatea’s impact.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Climate change reducing habitable land in the Navajo Nation


Click to enlargeFour Corners Hikes

A third of the Navajo Nation is now covered with sand dunes — the result of climate change…Roads, corrals, entire homes have been buried in sand, creating what President Obama calls “climate change refugees.”

Thirty-foot-tall sand dunes the color of flower pots flank the road to the now dry Tolani Lake on the Navajo Nation.

At one time, streams flooded the road. Today it’s sand. The community has frequently bulldoze the dunes, but they creep back as much as 40 feet a year.

“It’s a losing battle, unfortunately,” said Margaret Hiza Redsteer, a research scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey. “They have to plow the road quite frequently to keep the road open so they can get in and out to their house.”…

Hiza Redsteer said the Navajo are not simply victims of something happening hundreds of miles away. Many Navajos work at the largest coal-fired power plant in the West, on the reservation itself. The EPA said such power plants are responsible for almost 30 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to climate change.

When you add up sand, heat, water scarcity and dust storms you can see from space, you start to hear terms like “uninhabitable.” That’s the word Carletta Chief used to describe parts of the Navajo Nation. She’s a member of the tribe and an assistant professor at the University of Arizona…

For the Navajo, the land where you are born is sacred. And generations ago the federal government allotted each family a parcel, a permanent homeland.

“And even to move from one community to the next is nearly impossible because your ancestral land is where your family has lived for many, many years,” Carletta Chief said.

Navajo ties to nature are beyond the experience of most Anglos. When the spirit voices of your ancestors call to you in high desert winds, it’s tough and frustrating to try to grow crops with no water where those same ancestors survived for centuries.

American Presbyterians vote to recognize same-sex marriage

The largest presbyterian group in the US has voted to recognize same-sex marriage, the latest sweeping move by the church to acknowledge it as Christian.

Presbyterian Church USA voted on Tuesday to amend its constitution to extend marriage rights from “a man and a woman” to “two people, traditionally a man and a woman”.

A majority of the church’s 171 governing bodies ruled in favor of the change, which will affect the church’s more than 1.7 million members, including those strongly opposed to marriage equality.

Individual pastors who oppose same-sex marriages can still opt out of performing same-sex marriage ceremonies or allowing them to be held in their church.

The group’s general assembly approved the constitutional amendment in 2014, but the “two people” measure needed to be ratified before the constitution could officially be changed. On Tuesday night, 87 had voted in favor, and 41 had voted against…

In recent years, the church has adopted more inclusive policies: in 2011, it undid an anti-same-sex marriage amendment by allowing LGBT pastors in the church, and last year ministers began performing same-sex marriages in states where it is legal…

Paul Detterman, national director of the Fellowship Community, a conservative group that opposes the decision, told the New York Times he expects the decision to drive practitioners out of the church. He said, however, that the vote might also compel people to stay in order to defend their stance…

The Covenant Network of Presbyterians, which pushes for LGBT inclusion in the church, praised the amendment. “We rejoice that all couples can now see those relationships solemnized before God and the Christian community in marriage, at the discretion of ministers and sessions,” the group said in a statement.

I like the libertarian sense of the amendment. It allows those church members whose brain and heart are trapped in the Dark Ages to remain there. Of their own free will.

A traditional hero – and a hero’s welcome

House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers was lauded by members of Parliament Wednesday for his reported role in stopping an assailant who killed a Canadian Forces member in Ottawa.

Vickers, 58, a native of Miramichi, N.B., was reportedly in the House of Commons when a gunman entered sometime after 9:52 a.m…Two sources told The Canadian Press that Vickers shot the assailant inside the Hall of Honour, the main entrance to the Centre Block beneath the Peace Tower…

Vickers became the sergeant-at-arms in the House of Commons eight years ago after a varied career in security that included protecting foreign dignitaries and members of the Royal Family.

He spent 29 years with the RCMP and rose to the rank of chief superintendent, often serving as the face of the national police force in New Brunswick. Before his appointment as sergeant-of-arms, Vickers was director of security operations for the House of Commons.

A copper’s copper. He doesn’t need to celebrate doing his job. He just goes ahead and does it.

Why the CPC’s third plenary session is important – Insight article

132546956_31n
President Xi Jinping in the center of local officials and activists in Tayuanzhuang Village

Observers believe that an upcoming meeting of the Communist Party of China in November will follow Party tradition and be a springboard for major national reform.

In a meeting last Tuesday, the Political Bureau of CPC Central Committee decided that the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee will be held in November in Beijing to discuss major issues concerning comprehensive reform.

The meeting comes as China faces major economic and social challenges. It will, to some extent, determine the direction of reform of the new leadership.

On Tuesday, the 25-member Political Bureau emphasized the importance of reform and how it concerns the overall work of the Party and the government.

“There is no way for China to reverse or even stop the process,” it said, adding that reform and opening up have “only a progressive tense, no perfect tense…”

The meeting proposed innovation in theory, system, science, technology and culture with wholescale reform across the board.

“Besides the economic sector, the Third Plenary Session will promote administrative reform, ” Chi Fulin, director of the China Institute for Reform and Development, added…

The CPC has a tradition of proposing key changes in third plenary sessions since 1978 when the third plenary session of the 11th CPC Central Committee decided to implement reform and opening up, ending decades of seclusion.

The third plenum of the 14th CPC Central Committee in 1993 endorsed the socialist market economy, paving the way for China’s economic takeoff in the subsequent two decades.

The political economy of China is still hindered by a tradition of corruption rooted in centuries. No matter the economic structure, societies free of Protestant moralizing often need a few decades of an ethics injection. Fortunately, part of being a self-perfecting species is that laws and regulations can not only be passed – they can be enforced.

Yes, that’s a two-way street. We’ve witnessed enough of that in the United States. Between so-called conservatives lifting regulations and oversight from mortgage bankers to cutting taxes for the wealthiest, lobbyists and Congress in concert reintroduced a level of corruption to American governance not seen in decades. That, too, can be turned around.

I expect Chinese politicians to get into reform a lot faster than we shall here in the States. They are not a nation as divided politically as we are. Their officials could deal better with the hindrance of tradition than the gutless wonders in Congress. And, honestly, I think they are more strongly motivated by the pressures of growing their economy than the class of corporate lawyers and pimps our government attracts, nowadays.

I could be wrong, of course. Not for the first time. 🙂

The British Beard and Moustache Championships


Click for more photos

The gathering celebrated a cornucopia of the most extravagant facial hair from across the UK and around the world – and their fans.

An event I must support – being someone who almost didn’t appear in his high school yearbook until I relented and trimmed my sideburns.

Fortunately, that sort of stupidity has diminished in the job market in this land – over time. I have not been absent a beard since 1979.