Senate committee passes bipartisan bill to stop Trump withdrawing from Nato

Andrew Johnson, here we come

3500.jpg?width=1200&height=630&quality=8

Senate foreign relations committee voted unanimously for bill which will now await a slot to go to the Senate

Legislation to stop Donald Trump from withdrawing the US from Nato has been approved for a Senate vote, amid uncertainty over the president’s intentions towards the alliance.

The Senate foreign relations committee on Wednesday voted unanimously for the bipartisan bill which will now await a slot to go to the Senate. Senator Tim Kaine, the draft legislation’s lead Democratic sponsor, said it was a response to fears that the Trump administration is actively considering withdrawal.

Continue reading…

Vachel Lindsay Home in Springfield, Illinois

By various accounts, Vachel Lindsay is considered the founder of modern singing poetry, a mystic, and a prophet. Lindsay referred to himself simply as a “rhymer-designer.” From 1906 to 1912 he walked the country, preaching his “Gospel of Beauty” and developing a unique performance-style of poetry which he referred to as “the Higher Vaudeville.” 

He was born Nicholas Vachel Lindsay on November 10, 1879, in his family’s home at 603 South 5th Street in Springfield, Illinois. Lindsay was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a doctor, but after several years of study he convinced his parents that the medical profession wasn’t right for him. He moved to Chicago, then New York, to study art.

The graceful swooping lines of his handwriting often inspired his illustrations, which touch on topics such as worker rights, racial equality, and mysticism. In 1915, he wrote the first book of film criticism, titled The Art Of The Moving Picture, which was inspired in part by ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Lindsay pushed to bring poetry out of the classroom and into the streets, and many artists say cite Lindsay among their inspirations, including Allen Ginsberg, Jeff Goldblum, Patti Smith, Langston Hughes, and Jack Kerouac. 

Vachel said, “everything begins and ends for me at 603,” which became true when he died in the house in 1931, directly above the room in which he was born. It has been said that the house is now haunted. All we can say about that is what Vachel himself said in his poem, “The Dream Of All Springfield Writers”: “I’ll haunt this town, though gone the maids and men, / The darling few, my friends and loves today. / My ghost returns bearing a great sword-pen.”

Lancaster Is Considering Restrictions On Feeding The Homeless In Public Spaces

Hide them from view and they aren’t a problem? Even more cruel. Feed the hungry, comfort the sick or imprisoned, love your neighbor, clothe the naked. Too hard to figure out?

5df18da3c92b3500089d4cbd-eight.jpgFile: Volunteer Katrina Onyekwelu prepares dinner for those staying at the Grace Resource Center’s Lancaster Community Homeless Shelter in May 2016. Grace Resources has taken a neutral stance on a controversial ordinance proposed in Lancaster that would restrict how food is distributed in public spaces. (Maya Sugarman/KPCC)

Battle lines are being drawn in the city of Lancaster over where and how homeless people can receive a meal. The High Desert city is considering an ordinance that would effectively ban feeding homeless people in most public spaces.

“Individuals and organizations conduct food distribution events on sidewalks and other public property,” city officials wrote in the council agenda announcing Ordinance No. 1071. “While their intentions are admirable, these events often obstruct the free flow of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, and result in garbage and trash left on the public property after the distribution, creating hazards to public health and a visual blight.”

As currently drafted, the ordinance would prohibit food distribution from public sidewalks, streets and parking lots and allow individuals and groups to feed people in public parks, but only if they acquire both a park rental permit and a health permit from Los Angeles County. The proposed law would not impact food distribution on private property, like churches or homeless services sites.

City officials, including Mayor R. Rex Parris, framed the ordinance as necessary to address public health concerns.

“When people defecate on the street, when they defecate in doorways and especially when they do that in the parks and the children play in that, it is unacceptable,” Parris said at the crowded city council meeting Tuesday evening.

The meeting quickly turned contentious, with Parris verbally sparring with members of the public who spoke out against the proposed ordinance.

“The way the homeless situation is being managed in Southern California is just a crisis waiting to happen,” Mayor Parris told attendees during the meeting. Some in the crowd stirred in protest as the mayor raised his voice and continued:

“Let me tell you what a crisis is. A crisis is when children are dying as a result of disease.”

5df18da9c92b3500089d4cbf-eight.jpgLancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, seen here in a 2013 file photo, verbally sparred with members of the public who spoke out against the proposed ordinance on Tuesday night. (Reed Saxon/AP)

The outcry from the crowd was intense, and in response the mayor called a recess. When the meeting resumed, Parris reiterated his view that the ordinance was drafted to keep the public safe.

“I am not going to have an epidemic in this city if I could fix it first,” he said, adding that if the ordinance were to become law, “not one person is going to go unfed that wouldn’t have been unfed anyway.”

Parris then opened the public comment period, saying that he hoped those speaking “will have a solution rather than just a complaint.”

When Regina Thomas got to the mic, she opened by saying she didn’t have a solution, but she did have a strong opinion about the city telling her where she could and could not help people in need.

“Everybody can’t go to this park or to this church to eat, because some people can’t move,” Thomas said, describing how she spent Thanksgiving Day driving around in the snow, passing out dozens of meals to homeless people.

“I’m not gonna stop doing it today. Not next week, not next year,” she said. “So lock me up today.”

Local pastor David Cowan argued his faith called him to help those in need where they were — not based on where city officials want them to be.

“I gotta go where the need is, and the need might be up under a bridge, the need might be in a brook, the need may be anywhere,” he said to applause from the crowd. “We gotta go feed them where they are… don’t penalize my people for going to feed people.”

Not all local organizations shared that sentiment. Jeremy Johnson, director of operations for

Resources, said he and the team at the service center were taking a neutral stance to the ordinance.

Johnson said he and his team recognize the great need to help the homeless in the Antelope Valley, adding that they are on track to provide roughly 35,000 hot meals and 20,000 bags of groceries this year. At the same time, he said he understands the city’s responsibility to maintain clean and orderly public spaces.

“I don’t believe that people are going to starve to death if this ordinance is implemented,” he told LAist. “I also believe that many of the homeless clients that we serve are pretty resourceful and will find places to eat, should those outreaches be banned.”

Lancaster city council members tabled the vote on the ordinance for a later date. City officials did not respond to a request for comment before publishing time.

This is not the first time Lancaster and its mayor have drawn criticism for how they’ve handled homelessness in the city.

In 2014, at Parris’ direction, Lancaster tried to shut down the local Metrolink station. Parris alleged the city of Los Angeles was putting homeless people on trains and exporting them to the Antelope Valley. KQED looked into those claims, but never found any evidence. Lancaster officials cited a survey they did at the train station but never provided any documents to support their claims.

And in an interview with the Antelope Valley Press this June, Parris doubled down on remarks he made to ABC7, calling homeless people “criminals and thugs” and advising residents to carry concealed firearms for protection.

TIME’s person of the year: @GretaThunberg “We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow,” she says. #TIMEPOY http://bit.ly/2YActyq pic.twitter.com/0fMGDwqOmQ

TIME’s person of the year: @GretaThunberg

“We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow,” she says.

#TIMEPOY http://bit.ly/2YActyq  pic.twitter.com/0fMGDwqOmQ

ELgeGUNWsAAg1Nl.jpg

Endless Fields of Unharvested Corn, As Seen From Space

Recently, a heavy snow carpeted the fields that stipple eastern North Dakota. Afterwards, satellite images captured wispy clouds and shadows above swaths of white. Images of agricultural communities near the squiggly Goose River, such as Hillsboro and Mayville, also revealed something else: a slew of little brown squares among the white ones, which made the landscape look like a patchwork of pixels. The flecks of brown turn out to be vast expanses of corn that never made it out of the field, and that will now spend the winter under a blanket of snow.

Despite the tidy beauty of the image, which was taken on the Landsat 7 satellite and published by the NASA Earth Observatory, this was a frustrating year for North Dakota’s corn farmers. Over the past five years, the state’s farmers have harvested an average of 85 percent of their corn by the middle of November, says Chris Hawthorn, a statistician in the crops branch of the National Agricultural Statistics Service. But this year, 57 percent of North Dakota’s corn was still in the fields in early-December, according to a Department of Agriculture report. That’s 1.88 million acres of corn lingering in limbo, according to the agriculture news site AgWeb.

article-image

Generally, by this time of year, satellite images of the open prairie would reveal either bare soil or “a sea of white,” says Daryl Ritchison, director of the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network, a project run out of the School of Natural Resource Sciences at North Dakota State University. Now, because the corn is still standing in rows, stalk to stalk, the plants squeeze out the view of the snow from the air, writes Kathryn Hansen, a science communicator at the Earth Observatory. NASA’s photographs were taken from roughly 438 miles above the Earth’s surface.

Local farmers faced a double whammy of misfortune in 2019. “Corn was planted late due to a cold spring, so the crop started off behind,” says Joel Ransom, an extension agronomist at North Dakota State University. Then, a cold October and wet November slowed the drying process. Farmers usually harvest field corn when it has lost roughly half its moisture, and it’s typically turned into animal feed, ethanol, or corn syrup. “To do anything with the corn, it has to be dry,” says Ritchison—otherwise, “it’s just a bunch of mush,” and may get moldy. Farmers can nudge the drying process along themselves, with propane and other tools, but it’s costly. Ideally, Ransom says, “we depend on nature.”

article-image

Still, corn generally fares pretty well under its chilly comforter. The crop soars several feet above the surface of the soil, so it can hold up okay if heavy snow and biting winds don’t splinter the stalks. Then again, roaming animals might chow down. Some kernels will split, Hawthorn says, and others might mildew.

Assuming that the winter doesn’t loosen its grip, farmers will simply have to wait. “There’s nothing farmers can do except leave the corn in the field,” Hawthorn adds. In the meantime, we can enjoy this high-tech view from high above.