Friday Reads: The Year of Aging Faster than your Dog

Howdy Sky Dancers!

Welcome to that point in history where Americans age more rapidly than their Presidents usually do!  Yes, a 2015 study concluded that Presidents and Prime Ministers age faster and die sooner.  This year, however, my experience is that we’re the ones aging faster.  I’m also pretty certain if any of his policies actually pass we’ll all die a lot  sooner too.

Leading a country comes with extraordinary privileges but also, apparently, a price: new research suggests that political leaders age faster than normal and that the stress of the job may shave almost three years off their life expectancy.

Doctors analysed how long presidents and prime ministers in 17 countries – including Britain, Canada, France, Germany and the US – survived after leaving office, compared to the losing candidates. They also observed the number of years that heads of state lived versus what was expected for someone of the same age and gender.

After considering the fates of 279 heads of state and 261 runners-up, they concluded former leaders lived for almost three fewer years than expected. The study was published online on Monday in the medical journal, The BMJ.

So, enjoy the pictures of some of the Presidents that did themselves in leading us instead of the other way around!

Speaking of leading, the feisty Cajun leader that saved many of my neighbors’ lives after the failure of the levees is criticizing the Harvey response.  General Russell Honore argues that the state and federal government are leaving citizens in danger.  Using a rag tag bunch of citizens supported by inadequate government forces is an equation for death and destruction.  “Hurricane Katrina commander shames the military for its ‘amateur hour’ response to Harvey and says the ‘big dogs’ should have been called in from the start to save residents ‘who are hanging by a thread’.”

In a blistering interview, Russell L. Honore described the military’s treatment of the catastrophe as ‘amateur hour’ and said those at the top needed to take control of recovery missions rather than leave them in the hands of overstretched local authorities.

There are only 73 helicopters in Texas carrying out search and rescue missions over huge portions of the state.

100 high water vehicles are out searching for survivors, 8 para-rescue teams have been mobilized along with three C130 propeller planes and hundreds of boats.  On Wednesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott asked for another 10,000 Texas National Guard troops to be deployed, bringing the total to 24,000.

It is an increase the original contributions. Since Harvey made landfall on Friday, it has set the pace for military deployment.

Gradually over the weekend and at the beginning of the week, more resources were deployed by the military and civil agencies. One official at the Department of Defense told that the same growth was mirrored by other agencies including FEMA and Border Patrol.

Katrina Military Cmdr. criticizes federal response to #Harvey: “We have a lot of citizens hanging on by a thread”

— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) August 30, 2017

‘The level of support has been evolving and increasing across the board,’ the unnamed official said.

But Honore, who is credited with saving thousands of lives in New Orleans, said this was a fundamental flaw and that more help should have been sent when the first warning signs came.

‘The American people have put too much confidence in us. We have been too successful overseas to come out in amateur hour and incrementally deploy the force.

‘Something is seriously wrong with our control and command. There comes a point in time with the mission that it is too big for the state national guard and they need to get the hell over it and bring in the big dogs when you’ve got a big mission.

‘In Katrina we had 40,000 national guard, 240 helicopters in the first 4 days. They just got 100 helicopters in Texas,’ he told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Wednesday.

Honore is in Texas helping with rescue efforts. He has been warning the government to ‘scale up’ its response to the disaster – which has so far wiped out 48,000 homes – for days.

Needless to say, fly by Donnie thinks it’s all just totally duckie.  You can see the numbers to date at this link at the Weather Channel.  You may also check out Irma which is barreling its way west.  It is expected to be at least a category 4 and they’re not sure where it’s going to wind up yet.   The majority of models are taking it into the Gulf and/or up the Atlantic coast of the US. This is the next one and it’s likely US territories and the US itself will be hammered some time next week.

The most interesting thing to read this morning is the interaction between our nation’s friends and neighbors and donations to help Harvey survivors.  I always have to remind people how all nations came to the rescue of New Orleans after Katrina/Rita/levee failures.  My favorite example is the huge box of household goods that each FEMA Trailer recipient got from the people of Saudi Arabia.   But, this disaster seems to be going a bit differently in the day of “America First” and reactionary rather than mainstream Republicans like the Bushies.  The only country’s aid that was offered and refused back then was that of a group of Cuban Doctors coming with medical aid.

A lot of the world is not rushing to help the US. Oddly enough, both Venezuela and Mexico–two countries treated harshly and badly by Kremlin Caligula–are offering up help.  So is Canada, but it seems Texas turned Quebec down.  I’ve got some links here that how far we’ve fallen in terms of treating other nation’s like friends and equals since the White Supremacist in the office started destroying our reputation around the world and how it’s contributing to a reluctance to help us. I love Mexico and Mexicans.  There is no way my city could’ve cleaned up and rebuilt without them.  Plus, we have Taco Trucks and Tex Mex restaurants now.  We really weren’t known for that back in the day.

First up,a Politico  lede states ” World in no rush to offer Trump help post-Harvey. After Katrina, countries around the globe offered to help the U.S. After Harvey, only a few — Mexico and troubled Venezuela among them — have volunteered aid.”

As soon as Hurricane Harvey hit, Mexico — a country described by President Donald Trump as a source of rapists and drugs — stepped up to offer boats, food and other aid to the United States.

Another offer of help came from Venezuela, a country in severe political and economic crisis that has been repeatedly sanctioned by the Trump administration. It said it could give $5 million in aid.

The European Union has proudly noted that it is sharing its satellite mapping with U.S. emergency responders dealing the Harvey’s devastation. This despite Trump’s chastisement of European countries he views as overly dependent on the U.S. military.

Then there’s tiny Taiwan, which has reportedly offered $800,000 in aid — a number likely calculated to annoy China as much as to curry favor with Trump.

But compared with past crises, the list of foreign governments lining up to help the United States this time is relatively short for now. And the few countries that have raised their hand may get more out of it — politically, at least — than the U.S.

The relative dearth of global goodwill, some analysts say, may stem from anger at Trump over his “America First” approach to the world, which has irked even staunch U.S. allies.

The Miami Herald has the analysis.

Natural disasters know no political boundaries. And that’s why international humanitarian relief flows so quickly, and in such great and humbling quantities, when hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis strike.

But today, with Houston suffering as Mother Nature’s latest victim, will the world’s giving nations step-up and step-in to help American relief efforts?

Or are things in an America First world different?

Questioning the world’s appetite to help Trump’s America at this moment is a serious question.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans tragedy that followed, the world was tripping over itself to help George W. Bush and Louisiana. The relief efforts ranged from offers of Afghan cash to deployment of Thai doctors and nurses. The Spanish sent crude oil, electric generators and food rations and Swedes airlifted over an emergency mobile phone network. The outpouring of help was overwhelming.

The downside was the United States was unable to accept and distribute the aid offered by 151 countries. Only $40 million of the $850 million offered in Katrina relief was used, $400 million worth of oil aid sat untouched. It turns out that while America was once pretty good at handing out aid around the world, a Heritage Foundation report made clear the USA is woefully unprepared and unable to accept help from others.

In contrast, the response to Harvey is near deafening silence. Maybe a distracted State Department experiencing attrition is unable to process foreign offers and aid. But it might also be that Trump actively alienates American friends and allies, boasts he is cutting USAID, and makes clear that America First translates into an aid policy of every nation for itself.

If they are so disinclined to help us right now in our time of need, imagine what they will do if we need their military help anywhere.  There’s more on this development out there in the media.  This is the result of the cult of American-style ChristoFascism creeping into our Government that has more to do with being greedy than following the beatitudes or any other teaching attributed to the biblical jesus. “Texas Secretary of State Turns Down Hurricane Harvey Aid From Canada and Asks for Prayers Instead: Report”  Seriously?  

As reports continue to roll in estimating the damage that Hurricane Harvey has caused to parts of Texas, the news that Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos reportedly turned down help from our friends in Canada is beyond troubling.

According to Pathos, Quebec Minister of International Relations Christine St-Pierre called Pablos to offer blankets, beds, pillows, hygienic products and electricians, which were also given to the U.S. during Hurricane Katrina, and this dumbass turned down help that the people of Texas actually need and instead asked only for prayers.


“It was a conversation about how devastating the situation is and we want to express our support to the people of Texas,” the minister told CBC News, according to Pathos. “.… Pablos declined the aid, asking only for ‘prayers from the people of Quebec.’ He was very touched by the fact we called him.”

Canada is shipping aid to those directly impacted by the storm and the resultant flooding.  “Canada to help U.S. by shipping supplies to Harvey victims. Canadian government sending baby bottles, formula, cribs and other supplies to help the displaced“.

Canada has received an official request from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency for pediatric hygiene kits along with pediatric pillows, towels and other linens in response to needs arising from Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath.

The request came after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the offer to U.S. President Donald Trump during a telephone call Thursday.

“President Trump thanked Prime Minister Trudeau and the people of Canada for their offer of assistance and underscored the close ties between our two nations,” said a White House statement released after the phone call.

I’ll just wait here while we all sigh and wax adoringly on Justin Trudeau.

Enough time?

Meanwhile, the scapegoats of Trump’s racism showed themselves to be better than the US President.  From WAPO: Flooding trapped workers at a Mexican bakery for two days. They spent it baking for Harvey victims.

As Hurricane Harvey approached Texas last week, the bakers at El Bolillo Bakery in Houston worked overtime, knowing people would be eager to stock up on food.

By Saturday evening, the Mexican bakery’s Wayside location, on the southeast side of the city, had sold out of just about every piece of bread it had.

“We were trying to open up late and trying to make enough bread for everybody. We knew we get absolutely slammed busy during these days,” Brian Alvarado, the manager of the bakery, told The Washington Post. “We didn’t think it was going to rain for that long and that badly.

Mexico was first with its aid offer.

Despite poor relations between the U.S. and Mexico, Texas’ neighbor to the south is offering vehicles, food, medicine and water. The State Department thanked Mexico for its “very generous” offer.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Wednesday the state is accepting Mexico’s offer to help with recovery efforts from historic flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

“We had a list of aid and assistance that they have offered to provide that we are accepting,” Abbott told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

The assistance will start arriving in Texas within days, Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, the consul general in Austin, told the Dallas Morning News. “Mexico looks forward to doing its share,” he added.

The assistance includes vehicles, boats and food, part of a long list of items included in a diplomatic note the Mexican government delivered on Tuesday, the governor’s press office told Univision.

Mexican officials say they are also prepared to offer troops, medicine, portable showers and water. It was unclear if Mexican troops would accompany the relief aid, as occured during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Mexico’s military has specialized civil protection units that could be mobilized, according to experts.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson thanked Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso after a meeting at the State Department in Washington, saying “It was very generous of Mexico to offer their help at a very, very challenging time for our citizens back in Texas.”

Venezuela even stepped up despite the sanctions imposed on them by the Trump Regime of Racism and Xenophobia.

The United States and Venezuela are not on good terms.

Since President Trump took office, he’s sanctioned the country four times (and threatened military action too), taking Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to task for his increasingly autocratic tendencies.

But that bad blood didn’t stop Venezuela from offering $5 million in aid to the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

As Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza explained on state television, the money would come from Citgo Petroleum, the government-run oil company with a refinery in Corpus Christi, Tex. Arreaza said the aid will be directed to local mayors and be aimed at the construction of homes and shelters around Houston. “We express our solidarity with the Americans affected by the hurricane,” he said, according to Reuters. “When an American fills his tank at a Citgo gas station, he’ll be contributing to the rebuilding of the affected communities.”

So, last night, it was apparent that no one is holding their breath and thinking, Gee the Orange Toddler is writing a check for $1 million dollars out of his own pocket to help with recovery and rebuilding.  Most of us think he’ll either regift donations to his foundations or conveniently forget the pledge.  He also hopes we’ll forget it too.

President Donald Trump, a billionaire who while campaigning bragged that he was “really rich,” announced Thursday that he would donate $1 million to relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey slammed Texas and Louisiana this week. But according to Tony Schwartz, the man who ghostwrote Trump’s 1987 book The Art of the Deal, that’s not going to happen.

Schwartz tweeted Friday morning that there was “no way” Trump would send storm victims $1 million of his own money.

“He only promises to give,” Schwartz wrote. “Never actually does.”

Skepticism around Trump’s intended donation has been mounting ever since White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders revealed the president planned to “join in the efforts that a lot of the people that we’ve seen across this country do” in the wake of the deadly storm. Details are scarce—Sanders couldn’t provide reporters with information on when Trump would donate the money, who he would donate it to or where it was coming from, according to the New York Times.

Later that day, first son Eric Trump tweeted that he bet CNN and the mainstream media wouldn’t cover his dad’s “incredible generosity.” His post came three hours after the network published a story about it, according to The Hill.

This isn’t the first time the president’s charitable giving, or lack thereof, has made headlines.

He’ll probably hold a fundraiser at one of his properties, pocket the profits from that, and regift the access money at best.

Meanwhile, the death toll from Harvey is rising. At least 46 deaths are now expected to have resulted from the storm. 

Flooding along the Texas-Louisiana border remains severe.  Several towns are still in immediate crisis. These towns are part of the energy coast.  This is hampering the shipment of gas. Gas prices around the country are increasing and the availability of gas is iffy in some places because of road and pipe closures. It took six weeks for gas production and shipment to return to normal after Katrina/Rita.

Anyway, keep an eye on the Atlantic.

Don’t be a Donald … here are some places to actually give help instead of lip service. 

Have a good weekend!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?