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Fur, Fins and Feathers: Christmas shopping for your pets

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 11, 2017 in Rat News
Closed

Has your cat, dog or favorite guinea pig compiled its holiday wish list?

Whether it’s a winter sweater that’ll keep your dog snug and warm, a catnip toy that will bring your feline friend hours of pleasure, or a toy that will have your feathered friend swinging on a perch for hours, every treasured pet should be remembered during this special season with a little gift or two.

According to a recent petMD poll, 86 percent of readers said they would be buying a present for their pet for the holidays.

At Animal Instincts in Fall River, store owner Bob Schenck and his staff are pulling out all the stops to ensure that Jolly Old St. Nick will be delivering lots of nice gifts for every deserving special critter on your shopping list.

For folks searching for a special holiday gift for a young child, Schenck recommends a guinea pig, a rabbit or a bearded dragon.

“These are all good starter pets,” he advises. Schenck recommends that before purchasing a pet for a child, a potential owner should spend some time at the store with the staff to learn about various types of animals and whether the critter is a good and appropriate choice for a family pet.

Schenck said that that chew toys make ideal pets for guinea pigs, chinchillas, pet rats, hamsters and gerbils.

He adds that these small creatures also enjoy spending time in a “hide,” a wooden or plastic functional hideaway.

Leigh Motta, a store employee, notes that one of the most popular holiday items for bird and parrot lovers is a treat stick.

“Treat sticks relieve boredom and keep birds entertained,” Motta said, adding that another gift that birds always enjoy is a holiday stocking filled with toys.

Store employee Ashley Furtado says that a fun and delicious treat for canines is a gift basket filled with dog toys and snacks or a platter of edible canine cookies decorated in colorful seasonable themes.

Not wanting to exclude the fish swimming in the family tank, Furtado suggests adding a few ornamental plants to enhance the beauty of the aquarium.

For dog owners who want their canine companion to enjoy a few hours of relaxation and fun, Tiverton entrepreneur Russ Smith loads up his van and heads to the great outdoors to spend a three-hour long outdoor trek in the country to enjoy some fresh air, exercise and what the canines do best – to romp, play and have a lot of fun!

Smith charges owners $25 per session or $40 for two dogs in the same household.

Smith says the idea for the hiking group was started by his dog, a golden retriever named Sienna, a loveable canine that loves to hike along woodland trails and play with other canines.

“I call her our ‘den mother,’” Smith says. “She shares me with all the other dogs.”

For more information about the canine hikes, email: russsmith@gmail.com.

When you drop off a bag of dog or cat food, a few rolls of paper towels or some treats at your local animal shelter, please don’t forget to remember the dedicated shelter staff and volunteers who tirelessly help our animals and make the world a better place.

A tray of cookies, some homemade candy or a pizza will bring their faces and will show their appreciation for the good work that they do every day of the year.

 

Article source: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/news/20171210/fur-fins-and-feathers-christmas-shopping-for-your-pets

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Fur, Fins and Feathers: Christmas shopping for your pets – News …

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 10, 2017 in Rat News
Closed

Has your cat, dog or favorite guinea pig compiled its holiday wish list?

Whether it’s a winter sweater that’ll keep your dog snug and warm, a catnip toy that will bring your feline friend hours of pleasure, or a toy that will have your feathered friend swinging on a perch for hours, every treasured pet should be remembered during this special season with a little gift or two.

According to a recent petMD poll, 86 percent of readers said they would be buying a present for their pet for the holidays.

At Animal Instincts in Fall River, store owner Bob Schenck and his staff are pulling out all the stops to ensure that Jolly Old St. Nick will be delivering lots of nice gifts for every deserving special critter on your shopping list.

For folks searching for a special holiday gift for a young child, Schenck recommends a guinea pig, a rabbit or a bearded dragon.

“These are all good starter pets,” he advises. Schenck recommends that before purchasing a pet for a child, a potential owner should spend some time at the store with the staff to learn about various types of animals and whether the critter is a good and appropriate choice for a family pet.

Schenck said that that chew toys make ideal pets for guinea pigs, chinchillas, pet rats, hamsters and gerbils.

He adds that these small creatures also enjoy spending time in a “hide,” a wooden or plastic functional hideaway.

Leigh Motta, a store employee, notes that one of the most popular holiday items for bird and parrot lovers is a treat stick.

“Treat sticks relieve boredom and keep birds entertained,” Motta said, adding that another gift that birds always enjoy is a holiday stocking filled with toys.

Store employee Ashley Furtado says that a fun and delicious treat for canines is a gift basket filled with dog toys and snacks or a platter of edible canine cookies decorated in colorful seasonable themes.

Not wanting to exclude the fish swimming in the family tank, Furtado suggests adding a few ornamental plants to enhance the beauty of the aquarium.

For dog owners who want their canine companion to enjoy a few hours of relaxation and fun, Tiverton entrepreneur Russ Smith loads up his van and heads to the great outdoors to spend a three-hour long outdoor trek in the country to enjoy some fresh air, exercise and what the canines do best – to romp, play and have a lot of fun!

Smith charges owners $25 per session or $40 for two dogs in the same household.

Smith says the idea for the hiking group was started by his dog, a golden retriever named Sienna, a loveable canine that loves to hike along woodland trails and play with other canines.

“I call her our ‘den mother,’” Smith says. “She shares me with all the other dogs.”

For more information about the canine hikes, email: russsmith@gmail.com.

When you drop off a bag of dog or cat food, a few rolls of paper towels or some treats at your local animal shelter, please don’t forget to remember the dedicated shelter staff and volunteers who tirelessly help our animals and make the world a better place.

A tray of cookies, some homemade candy or a pizza will bring their faces and will show their appreciation for the good work that they do every day of the year.

 

Article source: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/news/20171210/fur-fins-and-feathers-christmas-shopping-for-your-pets

Tags: , , , , ,

Rats sniffing out landmines speed up process of a mine-free world

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 9, 2017 in Rat News
Closed

More than 20 years after the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines came into effect, 29 previously mined countries have been declared mine-free, and yet millions of the lethal devices remain in more than 50 nations.

Many are made almost entirely of plastic to escape detection by machines that search for metals. But talented rodents are increasingly finding the mines anyway.

Because they sniff explosives, rather than detecting metal, African pouched rats aren’t distracted by coins, nails, and other debris. They also don’t need to go slow for fear of setting off undetected mines.

Rats work fast, following a rope grid, and are cheap. They’re not only good at sniffing out mines, they’re also light, unlike humans, and don’t set mines off.

“Essentially we work about 40 times faster than a human with a metal detector,” says Charlie Richter, who oversees their work.

Picture a former battlefield, he said, where there would be lots of scrap metal in the ground. Detectors are constantly giving off false alarms, Richter said.

“Every time there’s an alarm they have to stop everything, dig carefully around that area, and if they don’t find a mine they continue,” he said. “With a rat, they ignore all the scrap metal, so there are far fewer occasions when they have to stop and do that.”

A student’s idea

As a young Belgian graduate student, Bart Weetjens remembers watching a documentary about landmines at the time the Ottawa Treaty was being negotiated, and thinking of his own pet rats.

He had already trained them to find hidden objects in exchange for treats, and it occurred to him that they might be able to do something similar with landmines. With a group of friends he approached the Belgian government for a grant to develop his idea. That was 20 years ago this month.

rat on leash

Although human handlers keep a safe distance from the rats, they are generally too light to set off an anti-personnel mine. (APOPO)

The organization that Weetjens formed to promote his idea, APOPO (the Dutch acronym for Anti-Personnel Landmines Detection Product Development), has demined in seven countries, including Mozambique, which was declared cleared in 2015 after the removal of about 170,000 mines. 

Without the rats, Mozambique would still be working towards that goal, says Richter.

From nuts to high explosives

Mines not only kill and maim, but also deny rural people the ability to use arable land, making it difficult for them to produce food.

“Having one landmine in a soccer field-sized area scares the local community and keeps that field as unproductive as having 50 landmines,” said Richter, who works with APOPO.

That’s the kind of situation where the rats excel. In densely packed minefields like the ones in the Korean demilitarized zone, their comparative advantage is weaker, said Richter.

‘Like any business, we need to specialize in what we’re good at. And for us, it’s the rats.’
– Charlie Richter

“Most minefields aren’t like that, most are maybe one or two mines in an area the size of a soccer field,” he said.

African giant pouched rats, also known as Gambian pouched rats, use their keen sense of smell to rediscover caches of nuts and other foods they bury for a rainy day. It takes about nine months to train them to sniff out TNT instead.

Once trained, their relatively long lifespan means they generally have careers of about five years.

Not everyone in the demining business initially warmed to the rats, which can grow up to 90 centimetres long, says Richter.

“There was general skepticism for a long time. This business is kind of conservative, because if you make a mistake people get blown up. But if you’re too conservative, the mines stay in the ground for longer, and that also means more people die,” he said.

Now that big demining NGOs have seen the rats’ work in Mozambique, they are coming around to rodent solutions, said Richter.

pole rat

Rats mostly follow a rope grid laid out over a minefield. The pole technique pictured here is also used. (APOPO)

APOPO would like to stop being a full-service deminer, he said, and focus on its niche of training rodents in order to spread their use through the world’s biggest demining organizations.

“Like any business, we need to specialize in what we’re good at. And for us, it’s the rats.”

Sniffing out pathogens

Richter said they’ve also revealed a talent for detecting tuberculosis, a disease that lingers in many of the same poor and underdeveloped corners of the world that are still blighted by landmines.

The rat’s keen sense of smell can detect the disease on a human patient, or in a mucus sample in a petri dish.

Where a lab worker might need 20 minutes to analyze a sample under a microscope, a rat needs only about 12 seconds. (Any positives detected by the rat are confirmed by a human tester).

APOPO rats have screened nearly half a million sputum samples and over 90,000 human patients.

Because they are less likely to miss a case than human testers, APOPO estimates the rats have caught 12,000 diagnoses that might otherwise have been missed.

New rodent frontiers

Even as they gnaw their way through their existing tasks, the rat handlers are looking for new challenges, and they believe they’ve found them.

Rat TB

A rat is presented with human sputum samples to test for tuberculosis. It’s faster and often more accurate than a human lab technician. (APOPO)

The rats are now going to work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, using their noses to detect smugglers trying to move endangered animals and hardwoods around the world. The focus is on finding one of the most trafficked of all animals — the pangolin, an endangered mammal poached for their scales and meat.

The next challenge for the rats will be to learn how to find people in collapsed buildings.

Equipped with GPS and a camera, the small rodents can penetrate far deeper into rubble than a rescue dog. Ritcher is hoping to train them to pinpoint survivors. 

“We need to find out if the rats are reliable enough to go down, find someone and come back. There’s been very little work done with off-leash detection. I  mean you can imagine if there’s a kitchen in the rubble and a whole bunch of cheese … you can see how that might be a distraction.”

PANGOLINS

Rats are being used to find one of the most trafficked of all animals — the pangolin. Eight species of pangolin, or scaly anteaters, live in Asia and Africa and are targeted for their scales and meat. (Reuters)

Article source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/rats-ottawa-treaty-landines-1.4425538

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Will President Trump Last Another Year?

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 9, 2017 in Rat News
Closed

Will President Trump Last Another Year?

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Some political experts doubted that Donald J. Trump would tough it out this long. This, after all, was a very strange man, possibly afflicted by obsessive-compulsive disorder to the point that he even floated the idea of staying in New York.   

He moved to Washington. But Trump’s dangerous old compulsions remain: Twitter diarrhea. Impulsiveness. Recklessness. He insults adversaries whose cooperation he needs. He’s allergic to compromise. Will these character defects destroy him politically in 2018?   

The odds of Trump remaining president by the end of next year, I said recently, were significantly less than 50 percent. I still think that’s true. But as noted above, we have a tendency to underestimate this highly inestimable man. The will-Trump-survive question is an equation with many variables.   

One thing is clear: “The Resistance,” as the left-center political forces aligned against Trump and the Republicans grandiosely call themselves, is a null force. If Trump is forced out of office, it won’t have much to do with these Hillary Clinton supporters. The Resistance’s street activism peaked out with the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. They are, in Trumpspeak, Losers.   

Russiagate, the allegation that Putin’s government “hacked the election” for Trump, still hasn’t risen above the level of a 9/11 Truther conspiracy theory.   

But Russiagate led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller’s sweeping powers and authority to pursue any wrongdoing he finds regardless of whether or not it’s related to Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election has already led to the downfall and flipping of ex-Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn.   

Mueller’s pet rats may never turn up a smoking-gun connection between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. But they likely know where Trump’s bodies are buried. In addition to obstruction of justice — to which Trump de facto pled guilty in one of his insipid tweets — charges related to sleazy business dealings are a strong possibility. Was/is Trump in deep with Russian oligarchs and corrupt government officials? Perhaps not — but he’s an amoral real estate developer who follows money wherever it leads, including authoritarian regimes where transparency is nonexistent.   

Behind every great fortune, Balzac wrote, there is a crime. Trump’s cash hoard probably results from many more than a single illegal act.   

Impeachment or resignation? Having researched Trump for my 2016 biography, Trump is more likely to give away his fortune to charity than slink away in a Nixonian resignation. His ego is too big; he’s too pugnacious. He’d rather get dragged out kicking and screaming — unless it’s part of a deal with Mueller or other feds to avoid prosecution.   

So impeachment it would need to be.   

But no political party in control of both houses of Congress has ever impeached a sitting president of its own party. And there’s another powerful countervailing force protecting Trump from impeachment: Republicans’ self-preservation instinct.  

GOP lawmakers suffered devastating losses in the 1974 midterm election following Nixon’s near-impeachment/resignation. Democrats did OK in 1998, after Bill Clinton was impeached — but that was an outlier impacted by the biggest boom economy ever.  

In the long term, the Republican Party would probably be better off without Trump. But Congressmen and Senators live in the here and now. Here and now, or more precisely in 2018, Republicans know that many of them would lose their jobs following a Trump impeachment.   

Despite those considerations, I think that, in the end, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans are more likely to calculate that pulling the impeachment trigger is worth the likely losses in the fall.   

Reason No. 1 is personal: Paul Ryan’s presidential ambitions. As I speculated in February, I believe Ryan wants to be president in 2020. As Speaker of the House, he’s the one person who can launch impeachment proceedings. I can easily imagine the following quid pro quo: Ryan gets rid of Trump, Pence agrees not to run in 2020, Ryan runs with Pence’s endorsement.   

Reason No. 2 is meta: to save the Republican Party as Ryan and McConnell know it. Here’s what I said in February: “Becoming the party of impeachment at a time when impeachment is popular transforms crisis into opportunity, allowing Republicans to cleanse their Trump-era sins (trying to repeal the increasingly well-received Obamacare, paying for the Great Wall of Mexico with deficit spending, etc.) and seize the moral high ground in one swoop. Vice President Mike Pence takes the helm, steadies the ship, promotes their right-wing agenda with more grace than his former boss, and Ryan and his buddies prepare for 2020.”   

If anything, the GOP is in bigger trouble now.   

Trump’s approval ratings hover between 35 percent and 40percent. More worrisome for him and the Republicans, his support is shaky while those who hate him are firmly entrenched in their beliefs.  

Approval of the Republican Party has hit 29 percent, the lowest ever recorded.  

After failing to repeal Obamacare, the Republicans finally scored their first legislative victory last week when the Senate passed a sweeping series of tax cuts — but it’s wildly unpopular.   

GOP elders were already fretting that Trump was ruining the GOP brand following the alt-right riots in Charlottesville. What they’re about to realize (if they haven’t already) is that the president has also undermined one of the party’s strongest longstanding arguments: “The government should be run like a great American company,” as Jared Kushner said in March. “Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.”  

Voters have watched Trump’s staff churn through one resignation and shakeup after another, the president diss his own sitting cabinet members, with no sign of his campaign’s stated goals being talked about, much less executed. The Trump Administration has been characterized by communication breakdowns, chaos, mismanagement and waste — and has little to show for its efforts.   

This is the current face of the Republican Party: corrupt, stupid and inept. Ryan and McConnell know they must disassociate the GOP from Trump.   

They have to destroy their party in order to save it.   

Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall) is co-author, with Harmon Leon, of “Meet the Deplorables: Infiltrating Trump America,” an inside look at the American far right, out December 12th. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.

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and commentaries are available for free to the general public.
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that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections,
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Article source: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/political_commentary/commentary_by_ted_rall/will_president_trump_last_another_year

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Will President Trump Last Another Year?

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 9, 2017 in Rat News
Closed

Will President Trump Last Another Year?

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Some political experts doubted that Donald J. Trump would tough it out this long. This, after all, was a very strange man, possibly afflicted by obsessive-compulsive disorder to the point that he even floated the idea of staying in New York.   

He moved to Washington. But Trump’s dangerous old compulsions remain: Twitter diarrhea. Impulsiveness. Recklessness. He insults adversaries whose cooperation he needs. He’s allergic to compromise. Will these character defects destroy him politically in 2018?   

The odds of Trump remaining president by the end of next year, I said recently, were significantly less than 50 percent. I still think that’s true. But as noted above, we have a tendency to underestimate this highly inestimable man. The will-Trump-survive question is an equation with many variables.   

One thing is clear: “The Resistance,” as the left-center political forces aligned against Trump and the Republicans grandiosely call themselves, is a null force. If Trump is forced out of office, it won’t have much to do with these Hillary Clinton supporters. The Resistance’s street activism peaked out with the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. They are, in Trumpspeak, Losers.   

Russiagate, the allegation that Putin’s government “hacked the election” for Trump, still hasn’t risen above the level of a 9/11 Truther conspiracy theory.   

But Russiagate led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller’s sweeping powers and authority to pursue any wrongdoing he finds regardless of whether or not it’s related to Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election has already led to the downfall and flipping of ex-Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn.   

Mueller’s pet rats may never turn up a smoking-gun connection between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. But they likely know where Trump’s bodies are buried. In addition to obstruction of justice — to which Trump de facto pled guilty in one of his insipid tweets — charges related to sleazy business dealings are a strong possibility. Was/is Trump in deep with Russian oligarchs and corrupt government officials? Perhaps not — but he’s an amoral real estate developer who follows money wherever it leads, including authoritarian regimes where transparency is nonexistent.   

Behind every great fortune, Balzac wrote, there is a crime. Trump’s cash hoard probably results from many more than a single illegal act.   

Impeachment or resignation? Having researched Trump for my 2016 biography, Trump is more likely to give away his fortune to charity than slink away in a Nixonian resignation. His ego is too big; he’s too pugnacious. He’d rather get dragged out kicking and screaming — unless it’s part of a deal with Mueller or other feds to avoid prosecution.   

So impeachment it would need to be.   

But no political party in control of both houses of Congress has ever impeached a sitting president of its own party. And there’s another powerful countervailing force protecting Trump from impeachment: Republicans’ self-preservation instinct.  

GOP lawmakers suffered devastating losses in the 1974 midterm election following Nixon’s near-impeachment/resignation. Democrats did OK in 1998, after Bill Clinton was impeached — but that was an outlier impacted by the biggest boom economy ever.  

In the long term, the Republican Party would probably be better off without Trump. But Congressmen and Senators live in the here and now. Here and now, or more precisely in 2018, Republicans know that many of them would lose their jobs following a Trump impeachment.   

Despite those considerations, I think that, in the end, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans are more likely to calculate that pulling the impeachment trigger is worth the likely losses in the fall.   

Reason No. 1 is personal: Paul Ryan’s presidential ambitions. As I speculated in February, I believe Ryan wants to be president in 2020. As Speaker of the House, he’s the one person who can launch impeachment proceedings. I can easily imagine the following quid pro quo: Ryan gets rid of Trump, Pence agrees not to run in 2020, Ryan runs with Pence’s endorsement.   

Reason No. 2 is meta: to save the Republican Party as Ryan and McConnell know it. Here’s what I said in February: “Becoming the party of impeachment at a time when impeachment is popular transforms crisis into opportunity, allowing Republicans to cleanse their Trump-era sins (trying to repeal the increasingly well-received Obamacare, paying for the Great Wall of Mexico with deficit spending, etc.) and seize the moral high ground in one swoop. Vice President Mike Pence takes the helm, steadies the ship, promotes their right-wing agenda with more grace than his former boss, and Ryan and his buddies prepare for 2020.”   

If anything, the GOP is in bigger trouble now.   

Trump’s approval ratings hover between 35 percent and 40percent. More worrisome for him and the Republicans, his support is shaky while those who hate him are firmly entrenched in their beliefs.  

Approval of the Republican Party has hit 29 percent, the lowest ever recorded.  

After failing to repeal Obamacare, the Republicans finally scored their first legislative victory last week when the Senate passed a sweeping series of tax cuts — but it’s wildly unpopular.   

GOP elders were already fretting that Trump was ruining the GOP brand following the alt-right riots in Charlottesville. What they’re about to realize (if they haven’t already) is that the president has also undermined one of the party’s strongest longstanding arguments: “The government should be run like a great American company,” as Jared Kushner said in March. “Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.”  

Voters have watched Trump’s staff churn through one resignation and shakeup after another, the president diss his own sitting cabinet members, with no sign of his campaign’s stated goals being talked about, much less executed. The Trump Administration has been characterized by communication breakdowns, chaos, mismanagement and waste — and has little to show for its efforts.   

This is the current face of the Republican Party: corrupt, stupid and inept. Ryan and McConnell know they must disassociate the GOP from Trump.   

They have to destroy their party in order to save it.   

Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall) is co-author, with Harmon Leon, of “Meet the Deplorables: Infiltrating Trump America,” an inside look at the American far right, out December 12th. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.

COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

See Other Political Commentaries.

See Other Commentaries by Ted Rall.

Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports. Comments about this content should be directed to the author or syndicate.


Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection,
publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events
in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence,
we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions,
sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics
provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day.
If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a
daily update newsletter and various media outlets
across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll
and commentaries are available for free to the general public.
Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year
that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections,
consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers,
Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs
and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.

Article source: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/political_commentary/commentary_by_ted_rall/will_president_trump_last_another_year

Tags: , , , , ,

Will President Trump Last Another Year?

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 9, 2017 in Rat News
Closed

Will President Trump Last Another Year?

Sign up for free daily updates

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Some political experts doubted that Donald J. Trump would tough it out this long. This, after all, was a very strange man, possibly afflicted by obsessive-compulsive disorder to the point that he even floated the idea of staying in New York.   

He moved to Washington. But Trump’s dangerous old compulsions remain: Twitter diarrhea. Impulsiveness. Recklessness. He insults adversaries whose cooperation he needs. He’s allergic to compromise. Will these character defects destroy him politically in 2018?   

The odds of Trump remaining president by the end of next year, I said recently, were significantly less than 50 percent. I still think that’s true. But as noted above, we have a tendency to underestimate this highly inestimable man. The will-Trump-survive question is an equation with many variables.   

One thing is clear: “The Resistance,” as the left-center political forces aligned against Trump and the Republicans grandiosely call themselves, is a null force. If Trump is forced out of office, it won’t have much to do with these Hillary Clinton supporters. The Resistance’s street activism peaked out with the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. They are, in Trumpspeak, Losers.   

Russiagate, the allegation that Putin’s government “hacked the election” for Trump, still hasn’t risen above the level of a 9/11 Truther conspiracy theory.   

But Russiagate led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller’s sweeping powers and authority to pursue any wrongdoing he finds regardless of whether or not it’s related to Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election has already led to the downfall and flipping of ex-Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn.   

Mueller’s pet rats may never turn up a smoking-gun connection between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. But they likely know where Trump’s bodies are buried. In addition to obstruction of justice — to which Trump de facto pled guilty in one of his insipid tweets — charges related to sleazy business dealings are a strong possibility. Was/is Trump in deep with Russian oligarchs and corrupt government officials? Perhaps not — but he’s an amoral real estate developer who follows money wherever it leads, including authoritarian regimes where transparency is nonexistent.   

Behind every great fortune, Balzac wrote, there is a crime. Trump’s cash hoard probably results from many more than a single illegal act.   

Impeachment or resignation? Having researched Trump for my 2016 biography, Trump is more likely to give away his fortune to charity than slink away in a Nixonian resignation. His ego is too big; he’s too pugnacious. He’d rather get dragged out kicking and screaming — unless it’s part of a deal with Mueller or other feds to avoid prosecution.   

So impeachment it would need to be.   

But no political party in control of both houses of Congress has ever impeached a sitting president of its own party. And there’s another powerful countervailing force protecting Trump from impeachment: Republicans’ self-preservation instinct.  

GOP lawmakers suffered devastating losses in the 1974 midterm election following Nixon’s near-impeachment/resignation. Democrats did OK in 1998, after Bill Clinton was impeached — but that was an outlier impacted by the biggest boom economy ever.  

In the long term, the Republican Party would probably be better off without Trump. But Congressmen and Senators live in the here and now. Here and now, or more precisely in 2018, Republicans know that many of them would lose their jobs following a Trump impeachment.   

Despite those considerations, I think that, in the end, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans are more likely to calculate that pulling the impeachment trigger is worth the likely losses in the fall.   

Reason No. 1 is personal: Paul Ryan’s presidential ambitions. As I speculated in February, I believe Ryan wants to be president in 2020. As Speaker of the House, he’s the one person who can launch impeachment proceedings. I can easily imagine the following quid pro quo: Ryan gets rid of Trump, Pence agrees not to run in 2020, Ryan runs with Pence’s endorsement.   

Reason No. 2 is meta: to save the Republican Party as Ryan and McConnell know it. Here’s what I said in February: “Becoming the party of impeachment at a time when impeachment is popular transforms crisis into opportunity, allowing Republicans to cleanse their Trump-era sins (trying to repeal the increasingly well-received Obamacare, paying for the Great Wall of Mexico with deficit spending, etc.) and seize the moral high ground in one swoop. Vice President Mike Pence takes the helm, steadies the ship, promotes their right-wing agenda with more grace than his former boss, and Ryan and his buddies prepare for 2020.”   

If anything, the GOP is in bigger trouble now.   

Trump’s approval ratings hover between 35 percent and 40percent. More worrisome for him and the Republicans, his support is shaky while those who hate him are firmly entrenched in their beliefs.  

Approval of the Republican Party has hit 29 percent, the lowest ever recorded.  

After failing to repeal Obamacare, the Republicans finally scored their first legislative victory last week when the Senate passed a sweeping series of tax cuts — but it’s wildly unpopular.   

GOP elders were already fretting that Trump was ruining the GOP brand following the alt-right riots in Charlottesville. What they’re about to realize (if they haven’t already) is that the president has also undermined one of the party’s strongest longstanding arguments: “The government should be run like a great American company,” as Jared Kushner said in March. “Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.”  

Voters have watched Trump’s staff churn through one resignation and shakeup after another, the president diss his own sitting cabinet members, with no sign of his campaign’s stated goals being talked about, much less executed. The Trump Administration has been characterized by communication breakdowns, chaos, mismanagement and waste — and has little to show for its efforts.   

This is the current face of the Republican Party: corrupt, stupid and inept. Ryan and McConnell know they must disassociate the GOP from Trump.   

They have to destroy their party in order to save it.   

Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall) is co-author, with Harmon Leon, of “Meet the Deplorables: Infiltrating Trump America,” an inside look at the American far right, out December 12th. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.

COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

See Other Political Commentaries.

See Other Commentaries by Ted Rall.

Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports. Comments about this content should be directed to the author or syndicate.


Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection,
publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events
in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence,
we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions,
sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics
provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day.
If it’s in the news, it’s in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a
daily update newsletter and various media outlets
across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll
and commentaries are available for free to the general public.
Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year
that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections,
consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers,
Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs
and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.

Article source: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/political_commentary/commentary_by_ted_rall/will_president_trump_last_another_year

Tags: , , , , ,

Seoul Virus Hits Illinois Pet Rats

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 8, 2017 in Rat News
Closed

State Public Health officials are warning people who own or breed rats to watch out for the Seoul virus. Six people in Illinois and two in Wisconsin have been found to have the virus, caught from rats that were traced to two rat-breeding operations in Illinois. 

Rats don’t get sick from the Seoul virus, but they can spread it to people who sometimes show flu-like symptoms and in the worst cases, kidney failure and more rarely, death.

Beth Chan is a rat breeder in Champaign, who hasn’t been affected by the Seoul virus. She won’t be breeding her rats again until next fall, but when the time comes, she wants to test for the virus, if she can.

“I’m hoping that they’ll add it to the tests that I can do, just so I can add that to something that I can screen for. And it’s something that I even am considering just testing myself for, like seeing if I can go to my doctor and be tested for that myself.”

The Seoul virus can spread from rat to human, but not from person to person. The two Illinois ratteries where the Seoul virus was confirmed have stopped selling rats voluntarily.

Article source: http://peoriapublicradio.org/post/seoul-virus-hits-illinois-pet-rats

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Rats sniffing out landmines speed up process of a mine-free world …

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 3, 2017 in Rat News
Closed

More than 20 years after the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines came into effect, 29 previously mined countries have been declared mine-free, and yet millions of the lethal devices remain in more than 50 nations.

Many are made almost entirely of plastic to escape detection by machines that search for metals. But talented rodents are increasingly finding the mines anyway.

Because they sniff explosives, rather than detecting metal, African pouched rats aren’t distracted by coins, nails, and other debris. They also don’t need to go slow for fear of setting off undetected mines.

Rats work fast, following a rope grid, and are cheap. They’re not only good at sniffing out mines, they’re also light, unlike humans, and don’t set mines off.

“Essentially we work about 40 times faster than a human with a metal detector,” says Charlie Richter, who oversees their work.

Picture a former battlefield, he said, where there would be lots of scrap metal in the ground. Detectors are constantly giving off false alarms, Richter said.

“Every time there’s an alarm they have to stop everything, dig carefully around that area, and if they don’t find a mine they continue,” he said. “With a rat, they ignore all the scrap metal, so there are far fewer occasions when they have to stop and do that.”

A student’s idea

As a young Belgian graduate student, Bart Weetjens remembers watching a documentary about landmines at the time the Ottawa Treaty was being negotiated, and thinking of his own pet rats.

He had already trained them to find hidden objects in exchange for treats, and it occurred to him that they might be able to do something similar with landmines. With a group of friends he approached the Belgian government for a grant to develop his idea. That was 20 years ago this month.

rat on leash

Although human handlers keep a safe distance from the rats, they are generally too light to set off an anti-personnel mine. (APOPO)

The organization that Weetjens formed to promote his idea, APOPO (the Dutch acronym for Anti-Personnel Landmines Detection Product Development), has demined in seven countries, including Mozambique, which was declared cleared in 2015 after the removal of about 170,000 mines. 

Without the rats, Mozambique would still be working towards that goal, says Richter.

From nuts to high explosives

Mines not only kill and maim, but also deny rural people the ability to use arable land, making it difficult for them to produce food.

“Having one landmine in a soccer field-sized area scares the local community and keeps that field as unproductive as having 50 landmines,” said Richter, who works with APOPO.

That’s the kind of situation where the rats excel. In densely packed minefields like the ones in the Korean demilitarized zone, their comparative advantage is weaker, said Richter.

‘Like any business, we need to specialize in what we’re good at. And for us, it’s the rats.’
– Charlie Richter

“Most minefields aren’t like that, most are maybe one or two mines in an area the size of a soccer field,” he said.

African giant pouched rats, also known as Gambian pouched rats, use their keen sense of smell to rediscover caches of nuts and other foods they bury for a rainy day. It takes about nine months to train them to sniff out TNT instead.

Once trained, their relatively long lifespan means they generally have careers of about five years.

Not everyone in the demining business initially warmed to the rats, which can grow up to 90 centimetres long, says Richter.

“There was general skepticism for a long time. This business is kind of conservative, because if you make a mistake people get blown up. But if you’re too conservative, the mines stay in the ground for longer, and that also means more people die,” she said.

Now that big demining NGOs have seen the rats’ work in Mozambique, they are coming around to rodent solutions, said Richter.

pole rat

Rats mostly follow a rope grid laid out over a minefield. The pole technique pictured here is also used. (APOPO)

APOPO would like to stop being a full-service deminer, he said, and focus on its niche of training rodents in order to spread their use through the world’s biggest demining organizations.

“Like any business, we need to specialize in what we’re good at. And for us, it’s the rats.”

Sniffing out pathogens

Richter said they’ve also revealed a talent for detecting tuberculosis, a disease that lingers in many of the same poor and underdeveloped corners of the world that are still blighted by landmines.

The rat’s keen sense of smell can detect the disease on a human patient, or in a mucus sample in a petri dish.

Where a lab worker might need 20 minutes to analyze a sample under a microscope, a rat needs only about 12 seconds. (Any positives detected by the rat are confirmed by a human tester).

APOPO rats have screened nearly half a million sputum samples and over 90,000 human patients.

Because they are less likely to miss a case than human testers, APOPO estimates the rats have caught 12,000 diagnoses that might otherwise have been missed.

New rodent frontiers

Even as they gnaw their way through their existing tasks, the rat handlers are looking for new challenges, and they believe they’ve found them.

Rat TB

A rat is presented with human sputum samples to test for tuberculosis. It’s faster and often more accurate than a human lab technician. (APOPO)

The rats are now going to work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, using their noses to detect smugglers trying to move endangered animals and hardwoods around the world. The focus is on finding one of the most trafficked of all animals — the pangolin, an endangered mammal poached for their scales and meat.

The next challenge for the rats will be to learn how to find people in collapsed buildings.

Equipped with GPS and a camera, the small rodents can penetrate far deeper into rubble than a rescue dog. Ritcher is hoping to train them to pinpoint survivors. 

“We need to find out if the rats are reliable enough to go down, find someone and come back. There’s been very little work done with off-leash detection. I  mean you can imagine if there’s a kitchen in the rubble and a whole bunch of cheese … you can see how that might be a distraction.”

PANGOLINS

Rats are being used to find one of the most trafficked of all animals — the pangolin. Eight species of pangolin, or scaly anteaters, live in Asia and Africa and are targeted for their scales and meat. (Reuters)

Article source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/rats-ottawa-treaty-landines-1.4425538

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Marvel & Netflix’s The Punisher Recaps by Penny – Episode 10; Virtue Of The Vicious

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 29, 2017 in Rat News
Closed

We open with Louise for some reason killing some random guy by shooting him through his apartment door peephole. He then shoots the lock off the door and enters. He steps over the poor schlub’s body, presumably planning to make this his new base of operations. I guess he figures the cops will be looking for any known associates so they won’t find him at some random stranger’s house? Anyway, he spots the dead guy’s pet budgies, and proceeds to prove what a clueless idiot manchild he is by cracking a window and opening their cage to set them free, not understanding why they make ZERO attempt to flee.

You see the two ways this proves Louise doesn’t really understand how the world works in his violent delusional crusade is twofold. First, he clearly doesn’t understand why the birds won’t fly out the window even wen he puts their cage right up to it. They’re domesticated birds. They’re not stupid. They have a human who loves them and feeds them and keeps them safe from predators. I have two pet rats who can and often do easily squeeze between the bars of their cage, but they NEVER try to escape. They just sit on top of the cage to get my attention when they want cuddles. My babies know where the food comes from. They have no reason to WANT to escape. And secondly, Louise doesn’t seem to understand that if the birds DID flee, they’d be doomed. They’re small domesticated birds with no fear of humans and no survival skills. They’d be doomed if they left. Domesticated animals are not equipped to survive in the wild and usually get killed very quickly after release. We go to the opening credits with Louise looking utterly confused by this reality.

Billy is being questioned by a particularly smug and presumptuous NYPD cop at what is clearly a crime scene given the blood splattered all over the walls. Apparently Louise’s victim WASN’T some random guy but was one of Billy’s PMC employees assigned to the senator’s protection detail. The cop is grilling Billy about having almost hired Louise but Billy points out that he DIDN’T hire him and wrote him up as unfit during his evaluation. He points to the blood on the wall as proof he was correct. Apparently Louise made a run for the Senator offscreen, (Man I HATE Noodle Incidents), and killed 4 of Billy’s guys before being chased off. The cop arrogantly presumes being an American cop is even REMOTELY the same thing as serving in active combat in the military and Billy is understandably annoyed by this. He says arrest me or we’re done and gets up to leave. The cop asks him about Frank before he goes, because apparently despite having Curtis as a witness this idiot thinks Louise and Frank are in cahoots somehow and believes Frank was involved in this new shooting, which is clearly wrong, because as Billy pointed out, the senator is still alive, and we ALL know if killing him was FRANK’S mission the man would be stone cold DEAD.

We flash to 6 hours earlier and Billy and the Senator are discussing security arrangements for a press conference he wants to give that Billy is against because it leaves him exposed. Frank calls him to warn him Louise is coming for the Senator. Frank says set a trap for Louise and he’ll deal with it. Billy realizes Frank is on-site and worries. Frank warns him to just keep his guys out of Frank’s way. After Frank hangs up though, Billy smiles and clearly thinks he’s going to swing this to his asdvantage somehow, and then greets Karen at the elevator, as she’s arrived to interview the Senator.

We’re going to be skipping back and forth between right now and 6 hours ago for awhile it seems, as we’re back in the current timeframe with the douchey cop interviewing the Senator, who’s in mild shock and just slightly rambling about reassessing his life and what matters as he apparently had to pick up a gun himself during whatever just happened despite having never touched one til today, plus he’s feeling the stinging guilt of knowing men died protecting him. He asks the douchey cop if he’s ever been shot at and how it felt. He seems very close to going into full on shock and just starting to ramble.

Back to 6 hours ago, Karen and the Senator are starting their interview when the wall beside them explodes. All hell breaks loose as Louise tosses a smoke grenade, likely tear gas, into the room, then comes in shooting. The Senator hides behind a couch and in the heat of the moment survival instinct kicks in. He grabs a gun of one of Billy’s now dead PMC guys and fires a couple shots in Louise’s direction, giving him enough of a window to get out of the room. Frank arrives just in time for Louise to grab Karen and hold her at gunpoint.

Back to Now and it’s Karen’s turn to be interviewed by douchey cop. He’s hellbent on his theory that Frank is Louise’s partner and Karen is getting frustrated to all fuck by his refusal to listen or see the reality of the situation. Back to earlier we see Karen meeting Billy at the elevator again from her perspective. He chuckles at the irony of an anti-gun senator being interviewed by a reporter with a conceal-carry permit as he asks for her gun. She in turn points out the irony of that same senator being protected by a PMC. Meanwhile, Louise arrives at the hotel in the Anvil Security uniform he stole from the guy he killed, and makes his way upstairs after just barely dodging getting spotted by Billy himself in the lobby. And we see on his brief detour that for some reason Dinah is here too, sitting in the coffee lounge looking as if she’s waiting for something. Louise kills one of Billy’s guys in the stairwell and continues on. Karen and the Senator debate the differences between rhetoric and reality and it’s painfully clear how naive the Senator really is about guns. Back to Louise in the hallway, he kills another of Billy’s guys and then starts fiddling with the elevator, presumably to keep security from using it to get to him quickly. We catch up to the point in the interview where the bomb goes off and now we see it from Karen’s side.

To no one’s surprise, the Senator’s recollection of events is complete bullshit. He never TOUCHED a gun, he was on the floor begging for his life while Karen was trying to save his life and talk Louise down. Frank arrives just in time to knock Louise’s aim ff and prevent him shooting Karen or the Senator. Karen tries to lead the Senator out of the room but like a coward he shoves her straight into Louise’s arms and gets the fuck out of Dodge. Louise shows Frank he’s wired with a bomb vest and shows him a dead man switch in his hand as he holds Karen hostage. Frank follows them to the elevator trying to talk Louise into letting Karen go. Some of Billy’s men show up but hold their fire because of the dead man switch. Louise escapes in the elevator with Karen and Frank swears he’ll track him down. Soon as Louise is gone the PMC guys open fire on Frank and Frank is forced to use one of their own dead guys as a human shield as he escapes. And I’m not 100% sure but I think one of the PMC guys was Billy himself, nor dressed in full riot gear so Frank wouldn’t recognize him.

Now; Dinah’s turn to be interviewed by douchey cop, and she too tells him point blank he’s an idiot to believe Frank was in on this mess because if he was EVERYONE would be dead/ Douchey cop tries to pull a skeevy intimidation ploy on Dinah by pointing out he heard she was on Administrative leave until today and he wonders smugly why that might be, assuming it was a reprimand. She tells him it was bereavement leave because her partner was killed and died right in front of her. Douchecop looks sheepish and clearly realizes he done fucked up, and his remaining questions are a lot less douchey and much more “I’m an ass and I’m sorry” subdued.

Earlier; Dinah arrives back at Homeland for her first day back, getting sympathetic looks from her staff and staring at Sam’s now barren desk as she passes. She goes into her office to talk to her boss, who grills her about what the hell is going on, and why she filed false plans. She closes the door and immediately shows him the bug, says “Show’s over” to it and rips it out. With Rawlins’ bug disabled she fills her boss in on everything, from Rawlins’ illegal activities and his connection to Kandahar to knowing for weeks Frank was alive to how everyone higher up than them did everything they could to bury her Kandahar investigation. He finally realizes she’s been on the right track all this time and returns her badge, telling her she’ll need it to see this through, clearly still a bit freaked about the bug. He also gives her the reports on the blac ops squad that showed up at her trap, and she realizes every single one of them used to work for Billy. The gears start a-creakin’ and she leaves for the hotel.

We again see the scene of Louise slipping past Dinah in the lobby lounge to get out of Billy’s line of sight. Billy greets Dinah and welcomes her back to being an active agent. He asks why she’s here and she shows him the files on his black ops team. She plays it cool but the look in her eye at his initial reaction before HE regains his composure tells it all. He downplays their association with Avil, saying they worked for him months ago, and probably 20 other PMCs over the years, as the business has high employee turnover. These kinds of guys go where the money is. He plays like he hasn’t seen them in years and even offers to ask around about who the one who escaped might be. She asks him if thinks he could kill Frank and if Frank’s a terrorist, and he says he will if he has to. Dinah pulls away when he tries to kiss her goodbye before he has to get back to his client, and he realizes she suspects him. Before they can get into it any deeper though the hotel’s fire alarms go off and Billy realizes some of his men aren’t answering their comms. He leaves to check it out and Dinah starts to leave the hotel with everyone else evacuating the building because of the alarm, but thinks better of it and turns around.

Cut to about 20 minutes later and Frank is running down the stairs as Dinah is running up them. She spots him a couple flights up and exists the stairwell onto that floor and hides there until he catches up to her, then re-enters the stairwell and tells him to freeze. Frank stops and tells her he was NOT here working with Louise. She says she believes him but she needs him to stand up in court and testify against Rawlins and tell the world about Cerberus. She says they want the same things. Frank realizes she’s been talking to Micro and walks right up to her and puts his forehead against the muzzle f her gun. He tells her either shoot him or he’s walking away. He turns and does exactly that and gets shot in the back from above. Billy is there, and it was him shooting. Dinah holds her gun at HIM now, ordering him to drop his gun or be charged for obstruction. He tries to claim he’s protecting her from Frank but she points out Frank was walking away gun down and Billy is aiming at her now. Billy drops all pretense kind of abruptly. I guess he figures she didn;’t buy his shit about his “former” employees. He tells her this all ends with Frank dead and that she should walk away. He grins and says the only crime in war is losing, and Frank and Dinah simultaneously realize beyond any lingering doubt that Billy is in on it. Dinah and Billy are about to shoot each other when a bunch of cops burst into the stairwell and arrest them both. They try to arrest Frank too but he coldcocks two of them, grabs a firehose, and uses it to rappel down the stairwell.

Back in the now, douchecop wants to know WHY Dinah and Billy were holding guns on each other. She says it was a difference of opinion. He points out both their guns were fired. She says hers was a warning shot, Billy’s was trying to kill her prisoner. He saus well Frank just killed a bunch of his men can you blame him? She calls him on his bullshit posturing, pointing out there is ZERO way he could have ANY ballistic evidence of that at this point. She saus he knows Frank isn’t part of this and he needs to stop towing the company line. She goes to leave. He smugly says he hasn’t given her permission to leave yet. She deflates that bloated ego by simply saying she’s eaving anyway and does exactly that. In the hallways she intercepts a cop taking Karen to talk to Douchecop, and flashes her badge to get a minute alone with her first. She reminds Karen of their prior conversation about trust, and says Karen didn’t tell her Frank was alive that day. Karen counters that Dinah is guilty of that exact same lack of trust, and it confirms they both knew the other knew about Frank. Dinah asks Karen to try to help her get Frank safely because powerful people want him dead and sghe’s his best hope. They admit he’s saved both their lives and Karen agrees to trust her a bit more.

Back to hours ago, Louise exits the elevator with Karen in the basement, holds off a pair of cops with the bomb vest, and gets to the kitchen. He rambles incoherently and yells at Karen for not understanding his goals and being part of the problem and not the solution. That’s when Frank stumbles in, bleeding and wobbly from, at my best count, at least 5 bullet wounds. He tries to talk Louise down by telling him about how his actions will only punish his dad, how his dad will suffer with hatemail and graffiti and social ostracization for years to come because of what Louis is done. Louise continues to babble and Frank realizes he can’t save him, so he tries to get Louis to let Karen go and blow himself and Fran up. When that fails he goes back to trying to talk Louise down, but this time he’s codetalking, and his REAL message is to Karen. As he talks at Louise he slyly lets Karen know which wire to pull on the deadman switch and to get her hand into her bag and onto her gun, (which I thought Billy had confiscated), and gives her subtle headshakes to let her know when her hand is on the right wire. When it is she pulls the wire and shoots Louis in the foot. Frank pushes Louis into the walk-in freezer, and Louis rearms the vest and blows himself up in tears. She and Frank come to after a few minutes and Karen realizes there are likely a shit-ton of cops outside the kitchen ready to shoot. She lets Frabk hold her “hostage” until they get past the cops into the elevator, when Frank gives her back her gun and escapes.

Finally we end back in the now, with Douchecop questioning Karen about letting Frank take her hostage. He knows she helped him escape, and says he should arrest her. She counters if he’s a terrorist then she’s just a victim, hinting at the MASSIVE bad press that would get the NYPD. Douchecop FINALLY relents and smiles and admits yes, he knows Frank saved lives today and isn’t the bad guy. He asks if she knows where Frank is. She replies she doesn’t know but counters with a question of her own; would Frank EVER be the kind of guy who’d risk getting caught in a building he doesn’t know how to get out of? Cue Frank ziplining from the hotel to an adjacent building.

End of episode.

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Article source: http://insidepulse.com/2017/11/27/marvel-virtue-of-the-vicious/

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Dan Deacon on Music From Rats’ Brains, His Wild Aerosmith Mashup

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 28, 2017 in Rat News
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“Everywhere I go in the world, people are like, ‘Ohhhh, whoa, Baltimore. The Wire,'” Dan Deacon tells Rolling Stone from his house in Charm City. “I can’t imagine meeting someone from New York and being like, ‘Oh, New York? Friends. Seinfield. Preeeetty cool. How do you like it there?'” The 36-year-old electronic musician takes Baltimore’s reputation to heart, because while David Simon made the city a place people came to fear, Deacon made it a place people came to party.

Ever since Deacon’s 2007 breakout LP Spiderman of the Rings, his wild, late-night raves in decrepit Baltimore lofts have become the stuff of underground legend. Deacon plays right on the floor, standing over a thicket of cables, a laptop illuminating his owlish glasses. Atmospheric as a Rothko, insane as Looney Tunes, his music is an improbably danceable cacophony of synths, MIDI samples and more strung together by slivers of pop and noise. These days, in addition to his regular haunts, he brings his inventive compositions to esteemed venues like Carnegie Hall and the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center. Plus a few unlikely ones, like Miley Cyrus’ Dead Petz Tour. 

Deacon’s career has mirrored the eccentric turns of his music. This year, he created his first film score, for an indie documentary called Rat Film that’s a cerebral portrait of Baltimore’s socioeconomic problems told through its history of rat infestations. “I knew this film was going to be covering institutional racism and rampant, rampant – basically designed – poverty, but it wasn’t going to be sensationalized,” Deacon says. “That got me excited.” 

Though his creative stature continues to rise, Deacon remains deeply passionate about his home city, where he’s resided for 13 years. The first bit of money he ever made, he says, from Spiderman, went into renovating a derelict building near the center of the city to create a DIY space for artists to live and work. Last year, police evicted and closed the Bell Foundry after a city-wide crackdown of such spaces following the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland that killed 36 people. Deacon was then invited to join Baltimore’s new special task force for such spaces, like the one he founded.

One of the first pieces of yours I heard was this feedback-laden collage of Aerosmith’s Permanent Vacation from around 2002. So, why that album?
[Laughs] Aerosmith was my first favorite band. What I loved was, you hear “Dream On” and then you hear another song and it’s like, “Who is this new singer?” And Permanent Vacation really embodies that. This is going back 15 years. I was listening to Stockhausen, John Cage, heady noise music like Prurient. And then I’d go back and listen to Aerosmith’s “Rag Doll.”

I was thinking about how insane it was – the pageantry, the fanfare of their shows, the scarves. Then I thought, “What if there were hundreds of Aerosmiths – playing all of Aerosmith’s music?” I understand “permanent vacation” is a prison reference, but I loved the concept of all Aerosmith, all the time, forever. So I layered the guitars and staggered their references – like putting all the middle points in the same spot.

A lot of people wouldn’t even admit to owning that CD.
Most people didn’t get down with Aerosmith the same way I did. My parents listened to classic rock, but not them. So Aerosmith became mine in a way.

Have you ever been to an Aerosmith concert?
They was my first concert! I was in junior high and it was the Jones Beach Amphitheater. Collective Soul opened. My dad got the tickets for my birthday. I remember we rushed down to get there because we thought our tickets were for the other night [laughs]. I can’t really relate to my youth mindset and I don’t know why I made that track. But I still love the way that it ends on that vamping vocal harmonica jam. Where they end is where they’re no longer present in the piece.

You seem to be drawn to creating unreal textures from ordinary sources, like with Rat Film, where you used the sounds of rats in the score. Where did you get that idea?
I had a teacher in college, Joel Thome, who did a piece where he put different bugs on an overhead projector. As the bugs swooped around, the performers would change what they were playing based on the coordinates of [his or her] assigned bug. That always resonated with me. I kept thinking, “What do rats do?” I have three theremins. When you put them close enough to each other, they interact on their own. So we decided to make this triangle enclosure out of my theremins for the rats.

Where did you get the rats?
My friend who lived down the street had two pet rats. They were the stars. As the rat moved from one theremin to the next, one would get higher in pitch and the other would get lower in pitch and the third would have this really odd wavering sound. We converted most of that voltage to MIDI – this arcane language I love that I pray to God they update (it’s been in version 1.0 since the Seventies). I came up with the piano sections, but the rhythmic content is devised by rats. And if you hear a pop, those pops are a rat’s hippocampus being triggered.

How did you get sound out of a rat’s brain?
[Rat Film director] Theo Anthony gave me a long recording of rat brain impulses from using electrodes and different stimuli to track rats’ behaviors, dreams and responses. The recording was converted to sound, slowed way down, like 1,000 percent. Then, I slowed it down an additional 1,000 percent to get less of a purr and more of the tickitoo tickitoo rhythms. Some of the haunting, airy sounds are a combination of the two.

What’s your opinion of rats in general?
They’re chill little creatures. I’m sure if one were in my house right now, I’d be like, “That is a huge animal and it doesn’t have logic and it’s hungry!” But right now, I’m staring at a bunch of bees inside my house. I’ve had bees for the past four years now and I love them [laughs]. I don’t want to disturb them. They’re like my little pets. I don’t know. Both my parents were exterminators.

I don’t have a problem with a company being large. But one acting like it’s the only thing here? It’s a wealth duel that the people are going to lose.

Did you ever go on any jobs with them as a kid?
Yeah, it was a small, two-person company they ran together called Deacon’s Professional Pest Management. They ran it out of the house. One of them was always on the phone talking to a customer saying things like, “A mouse can fit through any hole, even the size of a dime, the rat a quarter” [laughs]. My dad really cherished life and saw the absurd nature of life through his job. I remember going on jobs with him where he’d catch a squirrel or a raccoon – which, I believe, the state forces you to kill – and we would just go to the state parks and let them loose. It didn’t make any sense to kill this animal that hadn’t really done anything wrong. I often think about how we’re probably more a giant inconvenience for the rats than vice versa. The rats were probably like [mimics a rat voice], “This was a pretty chill, swampy marsh before someone brought all these rocks here and dried it out. What the hell is this?”

Rat Film uses the city’s rat infestation to touch on a number of the city’s deep-seated issues, from urban-planning failures to systemic racism. Are the rats symbolic of poverty in Baltimore?
I think Theo is trying to depict the opposite. I don’t think he is ever trying to use the rat as a metaphor for poverty or people. It’s easy to make that correlation because of the way history has trained us to. [Authorities] have done that for a very deliberate reason. It’s to dehumanize people.

That really comes across when present-day Baltimore is shown in warped Google Earth images. What did you want the score to reflect in those sections?
I wanted something that leaves you hanging, that never resolves. I thought about how there are so many details in Google Earth, but they’re all corrupted or odd and it’s moving at such an unnatural rate, so I thought a synthetic instrument like brass would work. Like, there’s no way those horns sound like real horns, just as there’s no way someone could see Google Earth and be like, “What a beautiful photograph. What camera did you take it with?”

The only actual song in the doc is Ed Schrader’s anthem “Rats,” which really hits home when you have a rodent problem.
[Laughs] Back then Ed lived with my girlfriend at the time in the Copycat [apartment building] and I lived in the unit across the hall. Ed would come in and drive me fucking crazy [laughs]. Anyway, I remember the first time he played [“Rats”] he used just a CD rack with contact mics. It had this really wild sound, because of all these different sheets of metal. He was just banging on them with scissors – like one half of a scissor in each hand. I remember thinking about those lyrics and he was like, “Yeah, I was just laying here on the floor and saw five rats going in and out of my kitchen and realized they’re probably crawling all over me when I’m sleeping.” And I was like, “Huh, I guess me too.”

After the Ghost Ship fire, Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh tapped you to serve on a new task force aimed at making DIY arts spaces safer. What’s been your experience so far?
On paper, [the task force] could have been amazing. I think it was a well-intentioned idea. But there was a lot more politics involved than concern [for safety] … if the city or fire department wants you out, you’re out. At one time, I thought I had a mind for politics. I tried to make the meetings as public as possible, and then eventually stopped getting emails about when they were.

I also don’t think DIY spaces are a topic for the press or for the boardroom. People who have never walked into a DIY space are now talking about the need to preserve them? What do they think they are trying to preserve?

What do you make of Under Armour’s multibillion-dollar real estate investment in downtown Baltimore that was announced this year?
Ever seen RoboCop? It’s like that scene where the seemingly well-meaning corporation wants to build a new city. Personally, I’m horrified of a “new Baltimore” and the insane compound city [Under Armour] is going to build. If it’s a success, then Baltimore will become like Portland and most of my friends won’t be able to afford to live here.

We’ve put all our chips in Under Armour – the largest sum of money the city has ever given to any project. But there’s still no infrastructure for it here; it’s all still post-industrial, so we’d need all new roads, street lights – those sort of things. That’s the part that shows the city’s true colors. I understand wanting to bring in new industry, new jobs – but the amount of attention this project gets in comparison to existing issues … I don’t have a problem with a company being large. But one company acting like it’s the only thing here? It’s a wealth duel that the people are going to lose.

Article source: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/dan-deacon-on-rat-film-score-wild-aerosmith-mashup-w509235

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