The Daily Visionary: Friday, December 21, 2018

Dean Martin’s ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ hits Top 10 in digital sales for the first time


Attempts to banish Dean Martin’s classic Christmas song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” have spectacularly backfired, as the song reached the top 10 digital sales chart for the first time ever, despite recent controversy over whether the lyrics promote sexual harassment.


Online streams of Martin’s version have also surged by 35 percent to 11.1 million in the past week. According to Billboard, sales of Dean Martin’s versions of song were up 70 percent to 11,000 downloads in the week ending December 13th, while versions by Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel, as well as Brett Eldredge and Meghan Trainor, have both reached the holiday 100 with a sharp increase in sales.


First written in 1944 for the romantic comedy film Neptune’s Daughter, Martin’s lyrics and the video involves a man asking a woman to spend the night with him by arguing that it is too cold for her to go outside and walk home. The song’s newfound success comes after the widely reported controversy where various local radio stations denounced and attempted to censor the song, citing claims it promotes forms of data rape and sexual harassment.


Several celebrities, including William Shatner, Dennis Quaid, and Martin’s daughter Deana have all come out in defense of the song, with the latter pledging to continue performing it every Christmas season.


Many people have pledged to play the song in protest of the excesses of political correctness. Joe Fredele, Director of Programming for Kentucky’s WLKY station, which played the song for two hours to annoy critics, said, “I’m not sure why it’s controversial. We’ve played this song for years, you know, this song is older than WAKY is. It’s almost 70 years old.


‘Alta-exit': Economist thinks Alberta could separate from Canada


Jack Mintz, a President's Fellow at the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy, wrote in the Financial Post Wednesday that an "Albexit could be the next big shock." His column was published one day after the federal government pledged more than CAD $1.6 billion in loans to support Alberta's ailing energy sector, a move most in the industry say is ineffective.


For the third time in three weeks, thousands of Calgarians and Albertans have protested, demanding better support for the struggling oil and gas sector, blaming all levels of government for policies that have directly led to the economic depression the province has been experiencing since 2015. Of the province known for its independent, pioneering, and entrepreneurial attitudes, Mr. Mintz said Alberta could go the way of the British with Brexit; “If it's really put to the wall, I think it could end up being an independent country,” he said.


Mr. Mintz calls ‘Alta-exit’ the province’s "nuclear option" and separating from Canada would enable Alberta to develop its own trading relations. Despite being landlocked, the United States (U.S.) remains the province’s largest customer for oil. “They have their own shale oil. They have their own resources. Why would they need to help Alberta get its oil to market? Right now, there's a lot of heavy oil that's in demand. In fact, markets are quite tight for heavy oil. So, actually, there would be a real desire to have oil from Alberta. And, in fact, right now the one major competitor is Venezuela, and we know what's happening to that country.


With increased taxation and more onerous regulations introduced by the provincial and federal governments in recent years, foreign investment has deserted Alberta because investors have determined it to be too risky and volatile a jurisdiction to reliably do business.


Mr. Mintz continued: “When you're a country you have more control over things, and so you can also bargain differently as well. Don't forget British Colombia, for example, has pipelines going from B.C. gas fields through Alberta going to the rest of North America. B.C. might be willing to make a deal under very different circumstances.


American Veteran raises over USD $4 million in 3 days for the border wall with Mexico


In thirty-six hours, funding expires for agencies responsible for federal law enforcement activities, airport security screenings, space exploration and farm programs. President Donald Trump raised the chances of a government shutdown Saturday when he told Republican congressional leaders he will not sign a government funding bill for the border wall with Mexico because it fails to include enough funding for border security. Lawmakers are also wrapping up work ahead of the Christmas break, during which time President Trump is expected to enjoy a two-week vacation in Florida.


With Congress unlikely to fund the USD $5 billion, Brian Kolfage, a triple amputee veteran and Purple Heart recipient has raised more than $4 million within the last three days toward his $1 billion goal on a Go Fund Me campaign to pay for the wall on the United States (U.S.) border with Mexico. He said, “If the 63 million people who voted for Trump each pledge $80, we can build the wall. That equates to roughly 5 Billion Dollars, even if we get half, that’s half the wall. We can do this.”


Mr. Kolfage wrote the following on his Go Fund Me page: 

Like a majority of those American citizens who voted to elect President Donald J Trump, we voted for him to Make America Great Again. President Trump’s main campaign promise was to BUILD THE WALL. And as he’s followed through on just about every promise so far, this wall project needs to be completed still.


“As a veteran who has given so much, 3 limbs, I feel deeply invested to this nation to ensure future generations have everything we have today. Too many Americans have been murdered by illegal aliens and too many illegals are taking advantage of the United States taxpayers with no means of ever contributing to our society.


“I have grandparents who immigrated to America legally, they did it the correct way and it’s time we uphold our laws, and get this wall BUILT! It’s up to Americans to help out and pitch in to get this project rolling.


“If the 63 million people who voted for Trump each pledge $80, we can build the wall. That equates to roughly 5 Billion Dollars, even if we get half, that’s half the wall. We can do this.


“We have contacted the Trump Administration to secure a point of contact where all funds will go upon completion. When [we] get this information secured we will update. We have many very high-level contacts already helping.

Is not easy to give money to the federal government that is dedicated for a specific purpose, therefore House Representative Steven Palazzo introduced legislation earlier this week that would direct the Treasury Department to issue government savings bonds that could be used to fund the wall. Mr. Palazzo, also Vice-Chairman of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, introduced the Border Bonds for America Act of 2018 on Monday. The Bill “allows American citizens the opportunity to purchase revenue bonds to help finance the construction of a southern border wall,” the press release announcing the legislation said.


This bill is a safe investment into the infrastructure and security of our country,” Mr. Palazzo said, adding that there is a precedent for Americans paying to ensure the nation’s security. “During World War II, 85 million Americans purchased $185 billion in war bonds and financially supported our troops while they were defending our country,” Mr. Palazzo said, “This legislation would allow for the patriots of today’s era to help support American security in the same way as previous generations.” This Bill, if it becomes law, would also establish the ‘Border Bonds Trust Fund’ in the U.S. Treasury.


Congressional Democrats have refused to add more border security to the Bill, describing the President’s demands as a “Trump tantrum” that will not sway them. In response, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the following in a statement to reporters, “We protect nations all over the world, but Democrats are unwilling to protect our nation. We urgently need funding for border security and that includes a wall.”


President Trump tweeted, “When I begrudgingly signed the Omnibus Bill, I was promised the Wall and Border Security by leadership. Would be done by end of year (NOW). It didn’t happen! We foolishly fight for Border Security for other countries – but not for our beloved U.S.A. Not good!”


U.S. likely to end air war against Islamic State in Syria


In a reversal of a long-standing pillar of American foreign policy in the Middle East, the United States (U.S.) will pull its troops out of Syria and likely end its air campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS). The U.S. told the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council remains committed to the “permanent destruction” of Islamic State in Syria and would keep pushing for the withdrawal of Iranian-backed forces in the country.


 President Donald Trump tweeted he is fulfilling a promise from his 2016 presidential campaign to leave Syria, saying the U.S. is doing the work of other countries with little in return and it was “time for others to finally fight.” A senior U.S. official last week said the group was down to its last one percent of the territory it once held. It has no remaining territory in Iraq, although militants have resumed insurgent attacks since the group’s defeat there last year.


Russian President Vladimir Putin said he largely agreed with President Trump that ISIS had been defeated in Syria but added there was a risk it could recover. He questioned what the announcement would mean in practical terms, saying there was no sign yet of a withdrawal of U.S. forces, whose presence in Syria Moscow says is illegitimate.


Roughly 2,000 U.S. troops are in Syria, many of them special forces. They have been helping to combat Islamic State but were also seen as a possible bulwark against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has retaken much of the country from his foes in the civil war, with military help from Iran and Russia.


The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have been fighting Islamic State with American support for three years, said the withdrawal of troops would grant the militants breathing space to regroup at a critical stage in the conflict and leave Syrians stuck between “the claws of hostile parties” fighting for territory in the seven-year-old war. They said the battle against Islamic State had reached a decisive phase that required more support, not a precipitate U.S. withdrawal.


The SDF are in the final stages of a campaign to recapture areas seized by the militants. They face the threat of a military incursion by Turkey, which considers the Kurdish YPG fighters who spearhead the force to be a terrorist group, and Syrian forces committed to restoring Assad’s control over the whole country.  Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said Kurdish militants east of the Euphrates in Syria “will be buried in their ditches when the time comes,” according to the state-owned Anadolu news agency. Turkey has intervened to sweep YPG and ISIS fighters from parts of northern Syria that lie west of the Euphrates over the past two years. It has not gone east of the river, partly to avoid direct confrontation with U.S. forces.


NASA scientists believe Saturn’s rings could disappear sooner than expected


Saturn’s icy rings are among the most iconic features in the solar system, but they are raining so much water onto the planet that in 300 million years they could rain themselves nearly out of existence, leaving Saturn ringless. “What we’re seeing is something on the order of about a ton and a half per second,” said James O’Donoghue of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, who reported the conclusions this week in the academic journal Icarus. “The rings of Saturn haven’t been around forever. And they’re going to disappear someday,” he continued.


Mr. O’Donoghue and his colleagues suggest the rings could wither away in the near future, on the relative scale of solar system time. Scientists have long debated the age and expected life span of the rings and last year some published findings suggesting they are not ancient relics from the birth of the solar system, which occurred 4.5 billion years ago. Instead, they were fastened onto Saturn within the last few hundred million years, during the time of the dinosaurs.


Saturn’s rings appear to be young. Maybe we’re just in that interesting, lucky period where we get to see Saturn’s rings to the level that we see them,” said Linda Spilker, project scientist for the Cassini mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


Earlier this year, the team took a close look at measurements of a charged molecule found in the upper reaches of Saturn’s yellowish atmosphere, using the Keck II Telescope in Hawaii in 2011. The molecule, H3+, is made up of three hydrogen atoms (minus an electron). It is created in abundance when minuscule, charged particles escape Saturn’s C-ring, spiral into the planet along magnetic field lines and collide with atmospheric atoms in what is called ring rain. After measuring the amount of H3+ in Saturn’s upper atmosphere, Mr. O’Donoghue and his team concluded as much as 4,400 pounds of water are falling onto Saturn each second.

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