Susan Estrich - Happy, healthy & safe

The holidays are never easy for anyone except the Hallmark family, but this year seemed especially disquieting: Donald Trump acts like he's still playing bully in some schoolyard somewhere; fingers of blame point in all directions in both parties; and it's a dangerous world that is impossible to ignore. My son made me watch a documentary produced by Vice News about the Islamic State; terrifying doesn't begin to describe it. And Trump only needs one intelligence briefing a week. While 9-year-olds waving swords at a training camp where they've gone to learn to divide America in half.

"Security" was my mantra in my more active days in politics. That's what people want, I would argue to my liberal friends; that's what government exists to provide. Social security isn't just a good name; it's the lifeboat aging Americans cling to. Personal security used to be about crime and disorder; we used to just fight about racism and police abuse (as if we've solved that); now we have terrorism and counterterrorism tactics to add to the list. Do you feel more secure with Donald Trump coming in as president? Who feels secure, anyway? What about economic security? I don't know anyone who thinks government can provide it, but the empty malls in my neighborhood suggest that either online shopping has won the war (even if virtually every item I ordered was late) or that whatever the pollsters may say, things are not so golden even here in the Golden State.

"Happy New Year," we say to each other. "Healthy," I usually put that first: "A healthy and happy New Year." And safe, I'll add now. My friend told me it comes from an ancient Hawaiian prayer: "Be happy. Be healthy. Be safe. And thank you." Not necessarily in that order, it has become my mantra for life in the 21st century. We look to government to help us be healthy and safe. Which is to say, we look to ourselves.

"Government" used to be the bogeyman in the liberal-conservative debate because it was the symbol of capital-D Democrat excess: tax and spend, supposedly wasteful policies and lazy bureaucrats who, over the years, turned out not to account for nearly as much waste and abuse as would-be presidents would claim to be able to cut.

But "government" today, to the new generation, has taken on an even more sinister connotation, and for less of a reason. Government has become the overreaching Big Brother, the enemy in its fight against the real enemy. There is something very scary about the willingness of young people to share their most intimate information with mammoth companies who will use it to invade their privacy and sell them things they don't want, but recoil at the idea that the information might be provided to the government — to them, whoever they are — in order to protect us from planes falling from the sky or bombs exploding in nightclubs.

Are we really more worried about the State Department than ISIS? Not me. Not under any American president.

Can it really be that 2016 was the year that the specter of the Russians' hacking into our electoral system and trying to influence the results has actually became a punchline? Really — Vladimir Putin jokes about the 2016 election? Is there any version of reality in which they are actually funny?

I did not mean to leave my children such a scary world. I fell in love with politics not only because I wanted to "help people" — the old-fashioned romantic goal — but also because I believed in the power of people to come together and coexist under the rule of law, because I believed in human rights, because I wanted the United States to be a force for good in the world. You have to be almost my age to remember that romantic notion. So, out with the old.

But what's next? Will these be the good old days that someday we will look back on longingly? Be healthy. Be happy. Be safe. And thank you.

(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

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Lakes Region Hiking — Hike smart – stay safe

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Search and rescue members at the recovery site of Kate Matrosova. (Photo courtesy of Mike Cherim- Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue)

By Gordon DuBois

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 couple of weeks ago, on one of the coldest days of the year, Fran Maineri and I drove to Randolph, New Hampshire, to climb South Black Crescent Mountain. We planned the trip well in advance of this cold snap and we weren’t going to be deterred by below zero temperatures and gusty winds. We were prepared for severe weather and have climbed to summits in similar conditions. We wore several layers of clothing, plus we had extra socks, shirts, hats, gloves and mitts stored in our packs, along with sleeping bag, bivy sack, hand warmers, balaclava, face mask and other gear necessary for winter hiking.

When we arrived at the trail head located at the end of Randolph Hill Road, we began our trek on the Cook Path. The temperature was hovering around -10 Fahrenheit and the wind was whipping the freshly fallen snow into our faces as we strapped on our snow shoes. Ensured that we had all our gear, we set off on the trail. At the terminus of the Cook Path, the trail veered right into the deep recesses of Ice Gulch. We knew we didn’t want to descend into this deep crevice carved out millennium ago. Fran took out his GPS to set our track to the summit. However, low and behold, the GPS was frozen. It wasn’t functional. The extremely cold temperatures made the electronic device worthless, the batteries were dead. We had depended on his GPS many times before to set our track, but not today. This meant using the “tried and true method” of off-trail, back-country hiking: map and compass, which we always carry. With the map of the Crescent Range in hand we set our course and headed up the mountain. If we didn’t have a map or compass we would have had to turn around and abort the mission or continue on with the distinct possibility of losing our way and having to spend the night in sub-zero temperatures. As we progressed through the forest of mixed hardwoods and conifers, we found the hiking fairly easy except for the stands of hobble bush that continually impeded our trek. We reached the north ridge of the mountain and after scrambling through thick stands of spruce, laden with a foot of snow, we found the summit canister.

By this time of the day the temperature had “warmed” to around zero, but the wind was howling at the summit and we wanted to get off the mountain ASAP, returning the way we came. We reset our compass bearing and returned to the Cook Path and eventually the parking lot where the truck was waiting. We reached our goal because we hiked safe and smart: extra clothing and gear for extreme winter weather, map and compass, an itinerary left with my wife and some common sense.

There are many people who don’t hike smart or safe and are just plain foolish. Some even lose their lives because of poor planning, and bad decision making. I regularly read the Accident Reports in Appalachia, a mountaineering journal published by the AMC. These reports always have something to teach me about hiking safely. Below are a few accident reports from Appalachia, as well as some of my personal encounters with people who foolhardily take to the mountains.

One of the most publicized accidents occurred in February, 2015, when Kate Matrosova, an experienced mountain climber, died on the side of Mount Adams in extremely harsh conditions. Earlier in the day, Matrosova set out to traverse the Northern Presidential Range, hiking from Mount Madison to Mount Washington. A storm was expected to hit the mountains later in the day and she was confident she could get down and off the mountains before it hit. She was wrong. Coming off Mount Madison she was hit by the storm with blistering winds of over 80 mph and temperatures around -30 Fahrenheit. Instead of returning to the base of the mountain and safety she continued on, fighting the hurricane-force winds and the wind chill of minus 100. Her decision to continue to Mount Adams cost her life. She was found the following day, when the winds died, lying face-down in the snow.

In October 2015, Fran and I were bushwhacking to the summit of NW Twin, a 4,000-foot summit just off the Twin Way Trail. At the summit we noticed a helicopter circling overhead, and we knew that NH Fish and Game was looking for a lost hiker. The next day, on our return to Lincoln Woods, where our car was parked, we met two groups of Fish and Game officers and National Forest personnel on a search and rescue mission for lost hiker, Clairemarie, who had been missing for several days. When we reached Lincoln Woods we were told by a Fish and Game officer that search was called off and was now a recovery mission. The lost hiker was found in the Gale River. She apparently died while trying to cross the river that was swollen by several days of rain. She had also not left an accurate itinerary of her hike and searchers were not sure where to look for her.

Less tragic examples of not hiking safe or smart:

Two years ago in the late fall I was hiking with some friends, returning from a summit of Owl’s Head Mountain in the Pemigewasset Wilderness. It was late in the afternoon when we noticed a young man walking toward us. We thought it strange that he was hiking into the wilderness at this time of day. Darkness would be on us soon. We also noticed he wore only a t shirt and a thin jacket. He obviously had no intention of staying overnight as he had no backpack. He then asked us where the parking lot was. We told him, “It’s in the opposite direction you’re headed.” “Oh,” he said, “I guess I’m lost.” We found out he was on a day hike, but had become disoriented. He had no map, compass, little clothing, food or water. He was totally unprepared for even a day hike, let alone an overnight stay in late November when temperatures dip to well below freezing at night. He followed us out to his car and thanked us for his rescue. He could have very well ended the hike in similar fashion to the hikers mentioned above.

On Feb. 16, 2016, a 31-year-old hiker, Mark, began a hike at the AMC’s Cardigan Lodge in Alexandria, intending to summit Mount Cardigan and return via Firescrew Mountain. On his descent he fell and injured his leg. He couldn’t walk and called 911 for help. If you are familiar with Mount Cardigan, you know that much of the mountain’s summit is above tree line. Temperatures that evening were falling through the 20s with winds reaching 30 mph; no night to be spending on the mountain. When the rescue team reached him, they found Mark had no extra clothing or gear. Without the rescue, he would have been in serious trouble.

Another example of a hike gone bad involves a 25-year-old hiker, Andy, who hiked to the summit of Mount Washington and was planning to take the Cog Railway off the mountain. When he reached the summit he learned the Cog wasn’t running that day. He was advised to hike the Nelson Crag Trail to Pinkham Notch. He then began to follow some other hikers off the mountain, but lost sight of them. Dusk was approaching and he consulted his map he bought earlier in the day. He then decided to take the Huntington Ravine Trail, which showed a more direct route. Without knowing the difficulty in descending this trail he pushed forward. This trail is one of the most challenging trails in the White Mountains and the sign at the trail head says so. When Andy got part way down Huntington Ravine, which is very steep in sections, he could go no further. His legs began to cramp and he resorted to calling 911 for a rescue. When rescuers arrived, they rescued him with a rope and led him down the auto road to safety below.

And finally, on June 2015, a pair of hikers, Jon and Isabelle, were found after losing their way on Mount Washington. NH Fish and Game reported they “had taken a picture (with their cell phone) of a map of the area and trying to use it to navigate along with the GPS in his phone.” They were attempting to hike off the mountain via the Boot Spur trail, but ended up on the Davis path near Mount Isolation. They lost reception with their cell phone, but were eventually rescued by AMC Lake of the Clouds personnel who hiked through the night, meeting up with them at 5:30 a.m. In a statement issued by NH F&G, “Hikers should not rely on electronic devices in the back country. Batteries fail and there is no replacing a map and compass if you know how to use them.” This statement certainly rings true, based on our bushwhack to South Black Crescent Mountain.

Mountains offer us beautiful vistas, inspiration and an opportunity to refresh the spirit. They are also dangerous and hostile places if we are not prepared for what can be thrown at us by the mountains and mother nature. All accidents I have described could have been avoided with careful planning, preparation and having the knowledge to hike safely in the back country. Whether it be ignoring weather forecasts, poor planning, not having proper clothing or gear for the hike, depending on a GPS or cell phone for navigation, not having a map or compass, not using common sense or just plain ignorance, the mountains can turn that enjoyable mountain hike into a day of terror or even death. I would hope that readers heed the lessons learned from others who have made errors and will be properly equipped and prepared so they don’t end up having to be rescued by NH Fish and Game. As notable climber Ed Viesturs said, “Getting to the top is optional, getting down is mandatory.”

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Fran and Reuben breaking trail to S. Black Crescent

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Harrop – Bear envy: Why can't humans hibernate?

It's "lights out" for bears in North America. They're fat. They're happy. Wake them when the weather gets better.

Humans struggling for a respectable eight hours of sleep may look upon the genus Ursus with envy and ask, "Why can't we pass out for a few dark months?"

Black bears sleep so soundly that mamas can give birth without even waking up. The cubs manage to find a nipple and stay attached until spring flashes the green light and the family resumes activity.

Hibernation is essential to some animals' survival. It slows down their breathing and heart rate and sends body temperature lower — all useful in months when food is scarce. And it keeps the animals hidden from predators at a time when they might be out and about scavenging for food.

Bears apparently sleep longer (up to seven months) in places like Arizona than they do in New York. That's because the northern bears have extended access to nuts and berries.

Bears hibernate in their dens, but several years ago, a 500-pound black bear chose a basement in Hopatcong, New Jersey. In preparation, he had brought twigs and leaves downstairs. The bear was discovered by a very surprised cable guy.

Many other animals hibernate. Bats hibernate in caves (or your attic). Hedgehogs prefer their nests.

Dormice go underground, with some hibernating as long as 11.4 months, nearly a whole year. In Europe, it's a question of the beeches' ability to provide seeds. Dormice need these seeds to reproduce. So when they are in short supply, the animals skip reproduction and survive by staying hidden.

Some hibernation occurs in warm weather. Large white butterflies in Spain "sleep" all summer to avoid the wasps that would destroy their eggs.

Back to the primary question: Why don't humans hibernate?

First off, humans evolved in tropical Africa, where year-round food supply was abundant and temperatures never approached freezing. Human hearts stop at a body temperature of 82 degrees, Thomas Ruf of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, explained to the BBC. Bear hearts evolved to continue beating at a body temperature of 34 degrees.

Humans don't have to hide from predators, because we're the predators. And we don't need firearms to kill a bear. We can do it with a car alarm. Waking up from hibernation requires an enormous amount of energy, so a bear roused too early by a car alarm might lack the reserves to survive the rest of the winter.

Humans are primates, and some primates — certain lemurs and lorises — already hibernate. That leaves hope that one day, humans can be engineered to hibernate.

This would be especially helpful for space travel. Hibernating astronauts would not need a lot of supplies to stay alive, explains Rob Henning, a University of Groningen (in the Netherlands) anesthesiologist working with NASA.

Also, hibernators don't experience massive loss of muscle or bone during their torpor. Astronauts in space currently have to exercise a tedious six hours a day just to maintain body strength.

A serious drawback to hibernation is memory loss. After emerging from hibernation, squirrels that had previously mastered a maze at the Vienna veterinary school knew not where to turn.

"It might be that we can put astronauts into hibernation," Ruf says, "but when they wake up, they might not know who they are or what to do."

Science is working on it.

In the meantime, humans living in harsh climates will continue applying their ingenuity to getting through winter while staying conscious. Those choosing the easy way out may do not as the bears do but as the birds do and fly south.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

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Pat Buchanan - Cold War II is preventable

In retaliation for the hacking of John Podesta and the DNC, Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and ordered closure of their country houses on Long Island and Maryland's Eastern shore.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that 35 U.S. diplomats would be expelled. But Vladimir Putin stepped in, declined to retaliate at all, and invited the U.S. diplomats in Moscow and their children to the Christmas and New Year's party at the Kremlin.

"A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger," reads Proverbs 15:1. "Great move," tweeted President-elect Trump, "I always knew he was very smart!"

Among our Russophobes, one can almost hear the gnashing of teeth.

Clearly, Putin believes the Trump presidency offers Russia the prospect of a better relationship with the United States. He appears to want this, and most Americans seem to want the same. After all, Hillary Clinton, who accused Trump of being "Putin's puppet," lost.

Is then a Cold War II between Russia and the U.S. avoidable?

That question raises several others. Who is more responsible for both great powers having reached this level of animosity and acrimony, 25 years after Ronald Reagan walked arm-in-arm with Mikhail Gorbachev through Red Square? And what are the causes of the emerging Cold War II?

Comes the retort: Putin has put nuclear-capable missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave between Poland and Lithuania. True, but who began this escalation? George W. Bush was the one who trashed Richard Nixon's ABM Treaty and Obama put anti-missile missiles in Poland. After invading Iraq, George W. Bush moved NATO into the Baltic States in violation of a commitment given to Gorbachev by his father to not move NATO into Eastern Europe if the Red Army withdrew.

Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, says John McCain. Russia did, after Georgia invaded its breakaway province of South Ossetia and killed Russian peacekeepers. Putin threw the Georgians out, occupied part of Georgia, and then withdrew.

Russia, it is said, has supported Syria's Bashar Assad, bombed U.S.-backed rebels and participated in the Aleppo slaughter. But who started this horrific civil war in Syria? Was it not our Gulf allies, Turkey, and ourselves by backing an insurgency against a regime that had been Russia's ally for decades and hosts Russia's only naval base in the Mediterranean?

Did we not exercise the same right of assisting a beleaguered ally when we sent 500,000 troops to aid South Vietnam against a Viet Cong insurgency supported by Hanoi, Beijing and Moscow? That's what allies do.

The unanswered question: Why did we support the overthrow of Assad when the likely successor regime would have been Islamist and murderously hostile toward Syria's Christians?

Russia, we are told, committed aggression against Ukraine by invading Crimea. But Russia did not invade Crimea. To secure their Black Sea naval base, Russia executed a bloodless coup, but only after the U.S. backed the overthrow of the pro-Russian elected government in Kiev.

Crimea had belonged to Moscow from the time of Catherine the Great in the 18th century, and the Russia-Ukraine relationship dates back to before the Crusades. When did this become a vital interest of the USA?

As for Putin's backing of secessionists in Donetsk and Luhansk, he is standing by kinfolk left behind when his country broke apart. Russians live in many of the 14 former Soviet republics that are now independent nations. Has Putin no right to be concerned about his lost countrymen?

Unlike America's elites, Putin is an ethnonationalist in a time when tribalism is shoving aside transnationalism as the force of the future.

Russia, it is said, is supporting right-wing and anti-EU parties. But has not our National Endowment for Democracy backed regime change in the Balkans as well as in former Soviet republics?

We appear to be denouncing Putin for what we did first. Moreover, the populist, nationalist, anti-EU and secessionist parties in Europe have arisen on their own and are advancing through free elections.

Sovereignty, independence, a restoration of national identity, all appear to be more important to these parties than what they regard as an excessively supervised existence in the soft-dictatorship of the EU.

In the Cold War between communism and capitalism, the single-party dictatorship and the free society, we prevailed. But in the new struggle we are in, the ethnonational state seems ascendant over the multicultural, multiethnic, multiracial, multilingual "universal nation" whose avatar is Barack Obama.

Putin does not seek to destroy or conquer us or Europe. He wants Russia, and her interests, and her rights as a great power to be respected. He is not mucking around in our front yard; we are in his.

The worst mistake President Trump could make would be to let the Russophobes grab the wheel and steer us into another Cold War that could be as costly as the first, and might not end as peacefully.

Reagan's outstretched hand to Gorbachev worked. Trump has nothing to lose by extending his to Vladimir Putin, and much perhaps to win.

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

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Bob Meade - For shame...

Our president received a Nobel Peace Prize before he had done anything to earn or deserve it. Since that time, he has elected to “lead from behind.” That oxymoronic inaction has repeatedly created a vacuum which has drawn terrorism into its void. ISIS, the team he derided as “JVs” has grown and spread throughout the Middle East and beyond. Please take a few minutes to click on this link to a New York Times article, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/06/17/world/middleeast/map-isis-attacks-around-the-world.html?_r=0. While somewhat dated, it nevertheless provides an insight into what happens when a world leader steps back and lets the criminals wreak havoc.
While we have the greatest and most powerful military the world has ever known, in many ways it has been handcuffed. Senior leaders have not been listened to and hundreds have either resigned or been pushed out the door because they didn’t agree with presidential decisions, such as preventing our soldiers from firing at the enemy until the enemy first shot at them. Soldiers were to be given a medal for not shooting at the enemy. And then, in May of 2014, the president handed over five high-level Al Qaeda prisoners as ransom for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been charged with desertion.
We now have the news that our president did not have our United Nations ambassador exercise a veto over a resolution in the Security Council, which is intended to arbitrarily penalize our ally Israel and benefit the Palestinians. A very strong case can be made that the United Nations is a strongly anti-Semitic organization. In its history, 226 resolutions condemning Israel have been brought before the organization’s Security Council. In the past, the United States has exercised its veto to prevent the anti-Israel forces from imposing their wishes on the Jewish State. On Dec. 23, 2016, the United States abandoned its longstanding position of supporting Israel and chose not exercise a veto of resolution 2334. The resolution requires Israel to vacate its settlements in what is called the Palestinian territory and give up its rights to its most holy sites in Jerusalem.
There are a few things we need to understand. First and foremost is that World War I was at a stalemate. Russia, England and France were allied against the German Empire and neither side could win. Russia made signs that they were going to switch sides and ally themselves with the Germans. If that happened, the German-Russian alliance would have conquered Europe and be on their way to conquering the world. In a somewhat desperate move, England’s Lord Arthur Balfour sought the aid of Baron Rothschild, asking him to seek the aid of Russian Jews, to get Russia’s leaders to stay with the alliance until the United States could get its armies into Europe. In exchange, Lord Balfour promised to assist the Jews In getting a homeland back in what was called the Ottoman Empire’s Palestinian “territory.” The Russian Jews were successful and the United States was able to get their troops to Europe. Their presence turned the tide and the German empire was defeated.
The Turkish Ottoman Empire had allied itself with Germany and, when Germany was defeated, some of the countries that made up the empire were put under the “protectorate” of England or France. France took charge of Mesopotamia (Iraq) and England controlled the territory that was called Palestine. Palestine was not a country and there were no native “Palestinians.” The territory was comprised of Jews and a variety of Arabs who essentially had no native land.
When the United Nations was formed at the end of World War II, U.N. “Resolution 181” divided England’s Palestinian Protectorate into three sections, with each section’s size in proportion to its inhabitants. The first section was the largest and was called Transjordan (now Jordan), the territory across the Jordan River. The next two smaller territories were divided into Israel and Palestine, based on the remaining numbers of Arab and Jewish populations. The Jews immediately accepted the territory assignment and the conditions of Resolution 181.
To this day, the Palestinian Arabs have never agreed to or signed the resolution. Technically, the Arab population has never accepted the territory it now assumes as its own, nor has it accepted any of the other conditions of the Resolution. Neither the Palestinians, nor any other predominantly Muslim state, has ever agreed that the Israelis have a right to live in peace in their own state.
Every attempt to reach an agreement with the Palestinian Arabs has failed, but not because the Jews haven’t been willing negotiators. During the Clinton administration’s Arab-Israeli peace talks, Israel basically agreed to everything Arafat had asked for . . . and he rejected their generosity and walked away.
Now, our president, who has shown a dictatorial proclivity when it comes to dealing with Congress, has shown the same trait when refusing to veto Resolution 2334. In doing so, he put our country into the U.N. group of anti-Semite countries.
It is time to withdraw from the U.N. and let that organization fend for itself. We are less than 5 percent of the world’s population but pay over 22 percent of the U.N.’s budget.
We are no longer feared by tyrants or terrorists, and we can no longer be trusted by our allies or friends. That only invites more terror and turmoil from around the world. For shame!
We must restore our good name.
(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident. He may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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