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17 October 2017: Not a normal day.

Okay, sit down for this one.

According to a story in The New Yorker, sources close to Donald Trump recall him saying that, when it comes to homosexuality, Mike Pence “wants to hang them all!”

Hang them all?

This is not normal.

This is the language used by a sitting “president” about a man, the vice president, who is a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

No words do justice to how truly horrifying this is.

16 October 2017: Not a normal day.

Hurricane Ophelia is inching closer to making land fall…

in Ireland

This is not normal.

An animated satellite loop of Hurricane Ophelia on October 12, 2017.

Said Dr. John Sweeney of Maynooth University: “I think it’s unheard of for a hurricane to form this far east in the Atlantic and then take an almost south-to-north track which takes it directly across Ireland”.

You said it, professor.

Hurricane Ophelia has attained Category 3 strength farther east than any storm in history. Experts cite unusual warming in the northern Atlantic Ocean as the driving force behind the storm.

imrs.php.jpegMeanwhile, Scott Pruitt presses on with the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, and Australia debates building another coal mine.

Welcome to Monday, the 16th of October, 2017.

You can find me on Twitter at @DecisionLab

13 October 2017: A frightening day for Puerto Rico

“President” Donald Trump, pouting because he didn’t get the love he hoped for from his paper towel jump shots, is threatening to withdraw federal support for the relief effort in Puerto Rico.

Said Trump in a tweet, “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”

The basis for his claim? Puerto Rico’s financial troubles, which—by the way—are of the federal government’s own making.

This is not normal.  Indeed, it is sickening.

I’ll take it further: I’d venture that if Puerto Rico were an island of American nazis and white suprematists, Trump himself would be there leading the relief effort.

He is truly a fragile and hollow man.

Today is Friday the 13th: A scary October day for the 3.4 million (with an m) American citizens who call Puerto Rico home.

12 October 2017: Not a normal day.

According to the website of his employers, William Wehrum “is well known for his thorough grasp of environmental issues, gleaned from his training as an environmental engineer and prior work in the EPA.”

Yet, he can’t or won’t answer even the most basic questions about the scientific basis for one of the most pressing risks facing human beings today.

This, folks, is not normal.

But, it is all too familiar.

It’s Thursday, October 12, 2017.

I am on Twitter at @DecisionLab.

Regarding academic freedom…

This just in from the Canadian Association of University Teachers

An investigation into the relationship between the University of Calgary (U of C) and oil and gas pipeline giant Enbridge has concluded that the school’s president, Elizabeth Cannon, was in a conflict-of interest due to a co-existing and “highly-remunerated” role as an Enbridge board member.

The report, prepared by a committee appointed by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), also notes a “deeply worrying culture of silencing and reprisal” at the University, and finds that the actions of President Elizabeth Cannon and other senior administrators both damaged the U of C’s academic reputation, and compromised the academic freedom of faculty member Joe Arvai.

The investigation reviewed events occurring while and after the U of C secured sponsorship from Enbridge to establish the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability (ECCS) at the university’s Haskayne School of Business.  Dr. Arvai was named director of the institute, then left the position a week after he announced opposition on scientific grounds to the Northern Gateway pipeline.

“Academic staff have the right to engage in robust debate without fear of intimidation or reprisal,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “The U of C not only failed to protect and promote academic freedom in this case, but succumbed to pressure by Enbridge to compromise the autonomy of the work being conducted within the ECCS.”

The report found that “the accumulation of the President’s dual role and appearance of a conflict of interest, her failure to recuse herself publicly, and the Board’s evident approval or acquiescence in this conflict and non-recusal amount to a significant failure of leadership that very likely has harmed the U of C’s reputation for academic independence and objectivity.”

According to the authors, Enbridge was allowed to name the Centre, design its public launch and determine academic priorities, all the while skewing the sponsorship in its own favour to “subordinate the university’s responsibilities as an academic body to the priorities of prospective donors in the oil and gas industry.”

“The Enbridge sponsorship reveals how easily a university can make itself dependent on corporate money” that creates “inherent pressures to compromise academic objectivity where it came into conflict with donor priorities,” the authors state.

The eight recommendations in the report include a review of the governance structure and processes at the U of C in order to make them more transparent and clearly linked to the principles of academic freedom and collegial governance. As well, the report suggests that all senior university officials be barred from paid service on outside corporate boards; that relationships with external entities be reviewed and made to comply with CAUT recommendations on university-corporate collaborations; and that processes of collegial governance and shared decision-making involving the U of C leadership and faculty, students and staff should be reviewed and strengthened along with the overall accountability of senior administrators.

10 October 2017: Not a normal day.

The Environmental Protection Agency is spending almost $25,000 of taxpayers money to build a soundproof phone booth for Administrator Scott Pruitt.  No previous EPA administrators had such a setup.

Why would Pruitt want such a phone booth?

According to an article at Vox.com, Pruitt thinks of himself as a wartime general in hostile, occupied territory, with only a few loyal staff. (Sort of like Kim Jong Un, I guess.)

Bolstering this view is Pruitt’s penchant for taking flights home on military aircraft, and his around-the-clock security force of 18 armed men. Pruitt’s security detail costs twice as much as his his predecessors’ did, and has not been justified by any risk assessment warranting its deployment.

This line from the Vox article sums Pruitt up neatly:  In many ways, Pruitt is a more concentrated and effective version of Trump: just as tribal, just as paranoid, but with a genial manner, a smiling face, and enough focus to avoid pointless controversies.

This is not normal.

It’s Tuesday, October the tenth, 2017.

You can find me on Twitter at @DecisionLab.

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