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When the End Becomes the Beginning

When the End Becomes the Beginning

My head was pounding as loudly as my heart. I didn’t want to open my eyes and see my husband carrying Finn, our seven year old Golden Retriever, out to the open back hatch of our veterinarian’s Subaru. I couldn’t bear the thought of Finn leaving us.

When I finally opened my eyes. I looked at Finn’s lifeless face. He wasn’t in there anymore. I could feel his soul all around me, but it wasn’t in his body. He was everywhere but nowhere. Nothing about that moment was tangible except my grief and my longing for his deep, warm eyes to look at me lovingly just one more time.

When the vet drove off with Finn’s body bundled up tightly in the back, I somehow made it into the house. I don’t remember climbing the four steps of our front porch or closing the door behind me. I only remember waking up on the couch some time later. My eyes wet and heavy.

I’m convinced that grief is something God devised to help us mark our human experience. And to make it even more interesting, he juxtaposed it with bliss. Think about it. Don’t most of us define our days, our months, our years by the sorrow that hollows us out and the joy that fill us up? Deaths, illness, and breakups occur, their weight teetering the see saw of life, only offset by births, remissions, and falling in love. The grief becomes joy. The heavy becomes light. The end becomes the beginning.

I wasn’t ready for joy, light, or a beginning after Finn died. I wanted to wallow in my grief. So I cried and journaled and asked my husband over and over again why Finn had to die at such a young age. I protested the Universe’s supposed bigger purpose for Finn. And every night on the sofa, I covered my miserable, aching body with the old, unwashed blanket that Finn laid on for the last weeks of his life and drank wine.

A couple of months after Finn died, I was walking into the nail salon when I got a call from the breeder who gave us Finn.

After exchanging pleasantries, the breeder said, “I just wanted to share some good news, I know it’s been tough after losing Finn,” she said, her tone compassionate yet upbeat.

I stood in the shade of the salon’s awning in silence. For a brief second I fantasized that she was calling to tell me Finn was there with her and I could come and pick him up. (Crazy, I know. But grief can do strange things to the mind.)

“I have a puppy here that would be perfect for you,” her jolly tone inflated my false hopes of Finn’s return.

The salon door opened and a woman hobbled out carefully as to not smudge her fresh pedicure. Her shimmering, aqua blue toenails snapped me back into reality – Finn was gone.

The few moments of silence were a cushion for me, but for the breeder on the other end of the line, the silence became awkward.

“Hello? Are you still there?” Her concern nudging me to reply graciously.

“Yes. So you have a puppy available? Is it a boy?” I asked, that old, familiar lump of grief creeping back up my throat.

“Yes! A boy. He’s smart and curious and he’s a cuddler.” She enthused, “And, he’s as cute as anything. I wondered if you might be ready for another one?”

I closed my eyes and remembered the first time we met Finn. We went to the airport and picked him up after his flight from Ohio. He popped out of the black sherpa bag and wrapped his arms around my neck. I could still remember his smell.

A sudden rush of joy sent tears rolling down my pink flushed cheeks.

“Yes, I’m ready,” I whispered, feeling Finn smiling down on me proud that I finally let it go. In that gifted moment of purposeful joy, outside of a nail salon, my grief evaporated in the heated swell of my happy heart.

A few weeks later, my husband and I once again met the breeder at the airport. As she got off the tram, I saw the same black sherpa bag she had used for Finn hanging from her shoulder. And just as she approached us, a curious furry face popped out from the unzipped top.

I reached inside and pulled the puppy to my neck.

“Hello, Irwin. It’s nice to meet you.” I closed my eyes and inhaled. He had his own smell, different from Finn, but equally as precious.

The breeder spent the afternoon at our house and after some sustenance and a solid hug farewell, my husband drove her back to the airport. Holding Irwin, I walked into the living room and picked up Finn’s old blanket. I pulled it up to my nose and inhaled deeply. It still smelled faintly like him. I smiled at Irwin and laid the blanket back down on the couch. I wouldn’t be using it to envelope myself in grief anymore.

What I had once perceived to be the end was actually the beginning. The beginning of a new chapter, a bigger heart, and a greater awareness that both grief and joy have a purpose. They are where God’s pendulum swings every so often so that all the stuff in the middle, which we call life, doesn’t feel blah and meaningless.

I sat down on the back porch with Irwin and took a selfie of us. The sunlight filtered down omnipresent over my right shoulder. And in that moment of joy, Finn was there with me once again………………!

Why Donald Trump thinks Germans are bad, very bad

Why Donald Trump thinks Germans are bad, very bad

According to a report in German publication Der Spiegel……..

US President Donald Trump has charged Germans for cornering business and jobs in the US. While blasting Germans, Trump said, “The Germans are bad, very bad. See the millions of cars they are selling to the US. Terrible. We will stop this.” Donald Trump has been a vocal critic of trade imbalance between Germany and America that is largely tilted in German favor.

In January.

He had targeted German car-makers BMW and Mercedes-Benz comparing their high sale volume in America with low sale volume of Chevrolet in Germany and had threatened to impose 35 per cent import tariff on BMW on its cars imported from its Mexican plant. But, it is not only about German car-makers. In fact, data from the Wall Street Journal shows that apart from General Motors, with a market share of 17.1 per cent in April 2017 and Ford with market share of 15.1 per cent, the two largest automakers in the US, most other automakers in the top ten are foreign companies. i.e., Japanese Toyota has a market share of 13.5 per cent, German Chrysler has a market share of 12.4 per followed by Nissan’s 9.9 per cent, Honda’s 9.2 per cent and Hyundai’s 4.2 per cent.

In response to Trump’s criticism, German vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, Angela Merkel’s deputy, quipped that the US automakers needed to come up with better cars. He termed products of American automakers “worse, weaker and more expensive”, an Associated Press report said.

According to a Reuters report, the US has a trade deficit of $65 billion with Germany, its third largest negative trade balance. The top slot goes to China with which the US has a trade deficit of $349 billion. Japan accounts for $69 billion deficit, coming in at the second spot. And going by Trump’s assessment of Germans in context of running trade deficit, China and Japan should be even bigger headaches for the US economy then.

In fact, according to a Financial Times report, Trump signed an executive order days before Chinese Xi Jinping’s US visit in April 2017 authorizing a study to look into the $500 billion annual trade deficit of the US. The study has a mandate of 90 days to analyze the issue country country-by-country and product-by-product, the report said. Also, Trump tweeted before the meeting that ” it will be a very difficult one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits and job losses”

After Trump-Jinking Summit, the Trump Administration hailed it as a historic meeting with a breakthrough trade deal that would cut the US trade deficit with China as Beijing agreed to open its market for certain US companies and product categories. But experts are not satisfied.

According to a Forbes report, “the deal might actually increase America’s bulging trade deficit with China”. To support its point of view the Forbes analysis further says, “China over the last decade has been progressively closing off its market, and this trend is now proceeding faster than ever under current supremo Xi Jinping”.

Trump would often talk about “unfair economic ties” with Japan. He blames Japan of currency manipulation and unfair trade practices and went on to the extent to say Japan a “drag on the US economy’. He made the comment days before his White House inauguration on January 20 that drew sharp criticism from Japan.

Trade deficit was one of the central campaign themes of Donald Trump. He, in fact, has blamed trade deficit for slowing down the US economy. When the GDP data came out in April, he tweeted his displeasure, “The U.S. recorded its slowest economic growth in five years (2016). GDP up only 1.6%. Trade deficits hurt the economy very badly”.

Syria’s Civil War — and the War That Didn’t Happen

Syria’s Civil War & War That Didn’t Happen

On the morning of Aug. 21…

Reports emerged from a Damascus suburb of a satin gas attack, a grim event in a civil war that had already cost the lives of 100,000 people and spurred the largest refugee crisis in a generation. Chilling videos of women and children, some twitching, others lifeless, brought out the strongest reactions yet from an international community that has sat on the sidelines for much of the country’s grinding two-year-long civil war.

Ten days later, after releasing to the public an intelligence report determining that Syrian President Bashar Assad fired the weapons and killed at least 1,429 people, President Barack Obama announced that he was going to ask Congress for authorization to strike Syrian chemical weapons installations. While Assad and his allies dismissed these allegations, the rebels seeking his overthrow appeared poised for a major breakthrough.

And then it never happened. US public opinion was dead set against another intervention in the Middle East. Russia, one of Assad’s closest backers, managed to convince Damascus to cede its chemical weapons stockpile to a UN Security Council mandate. The Assad regime has reportedly been cooperating with UN inspectors as it goes about now eradicating its stockpile.

All the while, the civil war rages, hollowing out cities and scattering communities. The rebels — a loose coalition of militias at the best of times — have grown more fragmented, with rival Islamist and secular-leaning factions even clashing with each other. Peace talks set for Geneva early next year could not come sooner, but few are optimist of what they will achieve……..!

Mario Balotelli: OGC Nice star isn’t trouble, he’s a ‘good guy,’ says club president Jean-Pierre Rivère

Mario Balotelli: OGC Nice star isn’t trouble, he’s a ‘good guy,’ says club president Jean-Pierre Rivère


Mario Balotelli’s OGC Nice contract ends in June, but in a recent cryptic Instagram post, The Italian striker suggested he might be interested in extending his stay on the French Riviera.

“Thank you. People for all those emotions of this year.” Posted Balotelli. “I hope we can be together again … future will tell.”
That post is a testament to the rehabilitation of his career over the last year in the south of France and also the Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivère’s decision to take a punt on the Italian striker.
Rivère says the Italian striker’s troublesome reputation is a far cry from the “good guy” he has witnessed up close over the last year in the south of France.
“Mario Balotelli has a reputation which I believe is not in tune with who he really is,” Rivère told CNN Sport.
“He perfectly integrated to the club. The Balotelli escapades, which everyone expected, especially the journalists, never happened here,” added Rivère.
Balotelli was once one of Europe’s most sought after young strikers, plying his trade at Inter Milan, AC Milan, Manchester City and Liverpool.
But his propensity for hi-jinx coupled with high profile spats with a number of his former managers led many to conclude his off-field behavior was a headache they could do without.
“Super Mario” famously set fire to his house the night before City played cross-town rivals Manchester United in 2011 after setting off fireworks in the bathroom. There were also reports he threw a dart at a City youth-team player in the same year.
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera after the 2014 World Cup, meanwhile, former Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said Balotelli lived in a dimension that was “far from reality.”
Now 26, Balotelli left Liverpool to join Nice on a free transfer in August last year after being frozen out of the Anfield club’s pre-season tour by manager Jurgen Klopp.
Fifteen league goals in 23 league games as Nice finished third in Ligue 1 to reach next season’s Champions League qualifiers suggest it’s a move that has worked well for both parties –

Hilarious moments

Rivère says Balotelli’s more wholesome off-field antics have brought some welcome levity to the club.
He recalls “funny videos” made by the Italian international as well as “hilarious” moments, one of which occurred at the airport on the way back from a successful recent away victory.
“Mario was happy (as) all teammates were and he passed through the detector sliding on his knees, just like he was celebrating a goal,” Rivère says. “Now, that is Mario Balotelli, and honestly, this is quite refreshing.”

Rivère says Balotelli signed for Nice after a lengthy conversation with him at his house last year convinced each party the move was right.
“I spent about four to five hours with him. Rightly or wrongly, I thought he was a potential player for OGC Nice, he wouldn’t disrupt the team, and he would help us a lot on the pitch,” Rivère explains.
“I had a good feeling with the guy. Maybe we have been lucky, I can’t tell.”

Career revival

Turning around the careers of experienced big name players, whose form and careers have dipped, has become a key strategy for Nice in recent years.
Nice has achieved its third-placed finish ahead of more monied teams such as Europa League semi-finalists Lyon and Marseille.
“We proved it with Hatem Ben Arfa and Mario Balotelli — superstars signing with us, who might be in trouble in other clubs, because a football player’s life can be tough sometimes, and who rediscover comfort and enjoyment here, which will promote their hatching or revival,” Rivère says.
“But unfortunately. I think that we are not the only club in France and in the world that is able to do that. Far from it. However, this has become a kind of trademark of OGC Nice.”

US Army “Lost track of $1bn worth of arms”

US Army “Lost track of $1bn worth of arms”

Amnesty International urges the US and other countries to stop arms transfers that could fuel atrocities.

The US army has failed to monitor over $1bn worth of arms and other military equipment transfers to Kuwait and Iraq, Amnesty International says in a report citing a 2016 US government audit.

The now-declassified document by the US Department of Defence (DoD) audit, was obtained by the rights group following Freedom of Information requests.

The audit reveals that the DoD “did not have accurate, up-to-date records on the quantity and location” of a vast amount of equipment on hand in Kuwait and Iraq.

Some records were incomplete, while duplicated spreadsheets, handwritten receipts and the lack of a central database increased the risk for human-error while entering data.

“This audit provides a worrying insight into the US army’s flawed – and potentially dangerous – system for controlling millions of dollars’ worth of arms transfers to a hugely volatile region,” says Patrick Wilcken, Amnesty International’s Arms Control and Human Rights researcher, in the report.

The rights group says in the report that its own research has “consistently documented” lax controls and record-keeping within the Iraqi chain of command, which had resulted in arms winding up in the hands of armed groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

“After all this time and all these warnings, the same problems keep occurring,” Wilcken said.

‘Irresponsible transfers’

The military transfers were part of the Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF). A program that appropriated $1.6bn to provide assistance to military and other security services associated with the government of Iraq, including Kurdish and tribal security forces.

The transfers included small arms and heavy weapons, machine guns, mortar rounds and assault rifles.

“This effort is focused on critical ground forces needed to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL [also known as ISIS] in Iraq, secure its national borders and prevent ISIL from developing safe havens,” the DoD said in a report justifying ITEF.

“If support is not provided American interests in the region would be undermined.”

In response to the audit, the US army has pledged to implement corrective actions.

“This occurred during the Obama administration as well, and groups such as Amnesty International repeatedly called on irresponsible arms transfers to be tackled, as the weapons were not only falling into the hands of groups like ISIL but also pro-Tehran Shia jihadists fighting for the Iraqi government,” Tallha Abdulrazaq, a security researcher at the University of Exeter, told Al Jazeera via email.

“While ISIL certainly needs to be fought, if this is achieved by hurling arms at groups that are just as extreme as the militant group, how does that resolve the situation?”

Amnesty International has urged the US to comply with laws and treaties to stop arms transfers or diversion of arms that could fuel atrocities.

“This should be an urgent wake-up call for the US, and all countries supplying arms to urgently shore up checks and controls,” Wilcken said.

Fox seeks dismissal of Andrea Tantaros suit as ‘Hannity’ loses advertiser

Fox seeks dismissal of Andrea Tantaros suit as ‘Hannity’ loses advertiser

On the same day, Fox News asked a federal court to toss out a suit brought by former host Andrea Tantaros, the network has lost what is thought to be its first advertiser on Sean Hannity’s show.

Fox News charged that a suit filed April 24 by attorney Judd Burstein on behalf of Tantaros against the network contained allegations that “are not just false, they are outrageously and flagrantly so,” the company said in a motion filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Tantaros alleges Fox News used electronic surveillance to “emotionally torture” her,  and that it hacked her computer for emails and used Twitter to cyber stalk her, all after she filed a sexual harassment suit in August 2016. That came one month after another former Fox News host, Gretchen Carlson, sued former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. She claimed he opted not to renew her contract after she refused to sleep with him.

Ailes, who died last week at the age of 77, had denied the allegations and left the company two weeks after Carlson filed her suit with a $40 million severance package. In September 2016, 21st Century Fox settled the case, agreeing to pay Carlson $20 million.

Since then, Fox has endured the departure and dismissal of many key employees — and growing legal challenges. Those challenges include the April 19 dismissal of star host Bill O’Reilly after reports of harassment allegations against him and a growing advertiser boycott.

One of the supporters of that boycott, liberal activist group Media Matters on Tuesday posted a list of companies that advertise on Hannity’s show, which airs at 10 p.m. ET on Fox News. The Fox News Channel star has done stories about the case of Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich, who police say they think was murdered in 2016 in a random robbery attempt in Washington.

Hannity has said he doesn’t believe Rich was killed as part of a robbery attempt. But Fox News on Tuesday removed from its website a speculative story about Rich suggesting a connection to Wikileaks and its leaks of DNC emails during last year’s political campaign, saying it “was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting.”

Hannity on Wednesday tweeted “Mediamatters is hoping advertisers will give into the pressure and they will silence freedom of speech” and, on the Rich story, “Not giving up at all. I’m working harder than ever to get to the truth the family wants and deserves. Stay tuned.”

But also Wednesday….., an advertiser on the Hannity show, released a statement saying it had suspended its advertising on the show……!

“The fact that we advertise on a particular program doesn’t mean that we agree or disagree, or support or oppose the content.” the statement said. “We don’t have the ability to influence content at the time we make our advertising purchase. In this case, we’ve been watching closely and have recently made the decision to pull our advertising from Hannity.”

In its court filing Wednesday, Fox News says that Tantaros’ allegations in her suit “read like the plot of a television drama … But pleadings in federal court are not supposed to be works of fiction; they must be grounded in fact.”

Fox News charges the Tantaros case does not include evidence of any computer surveillance viruses “linked to Fox News” or other proof of “its delusional hacking conspiracy.” Tweets cited in Tantaros’ complaint include “the friendly outpourings of a real person who considers himself a fan of Tantaros” and no others that “imply access to any of Tantaros’ private information.”

Burstein made “this sensational allegation … solely to generate negative headlines for, and inflict maximum damage on, Fox News,” the network charges.

The attorney’s “true intention,” Fox News charges, was “to pressure Fox News to accede to Tantaros’ extortionate settlement demands.”

In addition to monetary award to cover legal fees, Fox News asks the court to dismiss the April 24 suit, refer Burstein to disciplinary authorities, and prevent Tantaros from filing additional claims against the network outside of arbitration.

A judge in February sent to arbitration Tantaros’ initial harassment suit against Fox News, Ailes and other executives, in which she alleged the news network “operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.”

“About that initial suit, Fox said that Tantaros had been suspended for breaching her contract by publishing a book without company approval and that she never complained about Ailes in an internal probe of her claims.”

In a statement, Burstein said Fox’s filing amounts to “The smoking gun” for Tantaros’ own suit “And are attempting to bully Ms. Tantaros by filing a frivolous sanctions motion.”

HCL Tech announces Rs.3,500cr share buyback @ 17 % premium

Country’s fourth largest software services firm HCL Technologies today said it will buy back shares at Rs. 1,000 apiece, a 17 percent premium over current trading price.

The company is proposing an offer for buyback of equity shares for cash at a price of Rs 1,000 per equity shares on a proportionate basis through tender offer process, HCL Technologies said in a regulatory filing.

Tata Power’s renewable energy capacity crosses 2,000 Mw mark

Tata Power’s renewable energy capacity crosses 2,000 Mw mark

Tata Power …..

On Tuesday said that its renewable business registered a healthy profit. While surpassing the 2,000 MW operating capacity mark with about 500 MW under construction.

In keeping with its commitment to generate 30 per cent to 40 per cent power by 2025 through renewable sources of energy, the company added 1,350 MW of renewable capacity during the year, Tata Power said in a statement.
“We are happy to announce that Tata Power has registered a strong growth in renewables, which is one of our key focus areas through our recent acquisition of solar assets. The renewable energy business made a healthy contribution to PAT this year and we continue to be the largest renewable player in the country……..!” Tata Power CEO and MD Anil Sardana said.

The company aims to pursue a well charted growth strategy by demonstrating a high level of commitment towards cleaner sources of generation thus increasing the share of non-fossil fuel based generation output to 30-40 per cent by 2025, he said.

Tata Power’s non-fossil fuel based green generation portfolio (comprising of hydro, waste gas, solar & wind) crossed the 3,000-mark to stand at 3,141 MW.

During 2016-17, Tata Power’s renewable arm Tata Power Renewable Energy Limited completed the acquisition of WREPL, which had 1,140 MW of renewable power projects.

On the international front, Tata Power’s South African joint venture company, Cennergi, started commercial operations of both its wind farms totalling 230 MW, making its India’s truly international power company.

The company will continue to work towards ensuring its renewable business that remains the largest renewable in the country……..!