Feb 082016
 

Right wing nut jobs never cease to amaze me with the things they say and do.  And this past week is no exception.  Next week will likely be the same.  Of course the number of absurdities reported is limited do to space constraints.

Marco Rubio 1

Fox Newsian has not heard of any anti-Muslim hate crimes, therefore they don’t happen.

To no one's surprise, the intrepid reporters at Fox News did not like the fact that President Obama visited a mosque any more than Marco Rubio did. On Tuesday, “The Five” hosts wondered why in the world the president found that necessary. Co-host Juan Williams mentioned the fact that hate crimes against Muslims have been on the rise since the Paris and San Bernardino attacks. Really? Eric Bolling and Kimberly Guilfoyle responded. It’s kind of amazing how much you can not know just by refusing to know it.

The conversation went like this:

Guilfoyle: I think that Christians are being driven out of the Middle East in droves, being raped and tortured, murdered. Religious Christian sites and churches not being allowed to be rebuilt. What is the president doing to stand for them? Instead every time he gives one of these speeches we hear a little excerpt from the book of Obama of how Christians should be living their life and that Muslim is a religion of peace. Show me the evidence.

Williams: The challenge at the moment has to do with the spike in attacks, hate crimes against Muslims in the United States. And don't forget you've had Donald Trump say we should ban….

Bolling: Are there a lot of hate crimes against Muslims in the United States? Because I haven't heard of any.

Guilfoyle: Where are the numbers for that?

Well, the numbers are to hard to find, of course. We could suggest Guilfoyle and Bolling check out this Washington Post article about a five-fold increase in attacks on Muslims since 9/11.

They won’t, but you can.

"Muslim is a religion"?  Oh really?  And I thought Muslims were people and Islam was a religion.  Silly me (said dripping with sarcasm)!  These obviously ignorant Faux Noise "newsians" could also reference the Huff Post which is tracking hate crimes against Muslims during 2016.  Additionally, I thought Obama was the POTUS for every American, which of course includes Muslim Americans.  Divisive my ass!  So tell me, is it wilful ignorance or are they just that stupid?

This is the third of 5 right wing absurdities this week.  Click through for the other four.

 

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Feb 082016
 

Well, it seems that after a 2 day rest, my DVD player works again.  I had tried quite a few DVDs and all were "bad disc".  Right now, only one of those discs is not coöperating.  Go figure.  I arrived home earlier than normal as they put mum to bed at 18:30, right after dinner.  She was out cold before the aid left the room, but I went and sat by her bed for about an hour anyway.  She looks so at peace, relaxed, and thankfully in no pain when she is sleeping.

Short Takes

Alternet — In 2015, Young released his 36th studio album, The Monsanto Years, a concept-based criticism of multinational agrochemical and biotechnology giant Monsanto, the world’s biggest seed company. A collaboration with Willie Nelson's sons Lukas and Micah, the album also condemns other industrial agriculture giants like Syngenta, Dow, Dupont and Bayer — corporations that, like Monsanto, have garnered control of global seed production.

By creating patents for genetically engineered seed, these firms have taken away farmers’ right to save their own seeds.

“Monsanto wants to sell the farmers the seeds and they want to license the seeds,” said Bob McFarland of the California State Grange. “So the farmers can only use those seeds for one cycle, then they have to go back to Monsanto and buy the seeds again.”

Click through for the complete article.  Following are 2 petitions for your signatures.  Of course there are many, many more out there.

Help STOP GMO's from being produced    U.S. GMO Foods Petition

Common Dreams — 

Warren’s timing, judgment and courage are all now being challenged.  It’s not enough to be independent, articulate, and passionate from the bully pulpit.  Achieving leadership’s full capacity inevitably involves taking a stand that is by nature risky, but all the more necessary because one’s deepest convictions will not allow any other course of action.  One feels compelled within to seize the moment.  Whatever the risks of taking a stand, the risks of letting the moment pass are greater.  However, unconventional the action required is, that action remains the most obviously impactful.

sanders-warren

If destiny offers someone like Warren the opportunity to swing the tide of the nation toward a more honest and just governance and they hesitate, well then ultimately they weren’t the leader we hoped for.  Warren has had this opportunity served up to her by Bernie Sanders in the most admirable way.  There is no room for her to pretend the moment of decision is not upon her.

Click through for this opinion piece.  I agree that Bernie and Elizabeth Warren are a good fit.  I also think that she should take a stand on just who she supports.  However, I didn't think that decisions about VP candidates were made until after the nominees were chosen.

Mother Jones — At a campaign stop in Henniker, New Hampshire, last week, Ted Cruz was asked what he'd do as president to combat climate change. Cruz's answer—an eight-minute rant that you can watch below—was essentially that he would do nothing. Because global warming isn't happening. It's "the perfect pseudoscientific theory" to justify liberal politicians' quest to expand "government power over the American citizenry," he said.

Like Cruz, the two GOP front-runners in the state—Donald Trump and Marco Rubioreject mainstream climate science. Trump has repeatedly called global warming a "hoax," and Rubio has said, "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it." John Kasich, who's been rising in the New Hampshire polls in recent weeks, has made a number of contradictory comments about climate change.

Barf Bag Alert!!!      Barf Bag Alert!!!      Barf Bag Alert!!!      Barf Bag Alert!!!      Barf Bag Alert!!!    

Listen to Cruz's rant.  I had to laugh when he tried to make the point that liberals changed the wording from global warming to climate change when they realised that the globe isn't warming.  As head of the senate science committee he called scientists to testify about climate change and the anthropogenic effects.  What he doesn't say is that he cherry-picked the scientists so that he got what he wanted.  Republicans are such idiots when it comes to climate change.

Alternet myths are built on half-truths, white lies and downright fabrications. So it is with the American presidency. Presidents lie, even our most admired ones. Some of them were really good at it, like Franklin Roosevelt. Others, like shifty-eyed Richard Nixon, were just pathological.

richard m nixon

When we got a president who promised never to lie to us, as Jimmy Carter did in 1976, many thought he was not particularly effective and voters tossed him out on his ear in 1980, for a master Machiavellian prince named Ronald Reagan. Republicans pounced on President Obama when, pushing the Affordable Healthcare Act, he promised Americans that if we wanted to keep our current health insurance, we could. That turned out to be not completely true, and surely Obama knew it even as the words were coming out of his lips. Still, for President Obama, the end—a broader, fairer healthcare system—justified the means. His signature accomplishment in office, Obamacare, might not have passed had he been totally forthright.

Click through to see who the biggest liars were.  It has always bugged me that one of my family names is Nixon.  In the past I'd always add "no relationship to Tricky Dicky".

My Universe — 

5271c5b42ac8a0ae3edfbaf06fd7989a

Pillow talk in the animal kingdomPillow talk!

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Feb 082016
 

In politics it is said, that when not fueled by hope there is a vacuum for fear to fill. Since artists turn to the muses, Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia, Ourania and Calliope we are exploring what they can offer us for inspiration to have the hope fueling politics.forgotten-muses-1226788

"Hope is the last thing ever lost."     
-Italian Proverb

"Hope" is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all….”

-Emily Dickinson, c.1861

“Once you choose hope, anything's possible.”
-Christopher Reeve

Let us first turn to Calliope who might view this as her justice:
Slam dunk: Cop responds to kids 'disturbing the peace' by joining their game. (text and brief video)
http://www.upworthy.com/slam-dunk-cop-responds-to-kids-disturbing-the-peace-by-joining-their-game?c=upw1

Gives me a bit of hope, how about you (this was in FL)?

justice scales

 

Would Clio claim this as historic?
Lego's new minifigure may be tiny, but its impact will be huge.
http://www.upworthy.com/legos-new-minifigure-may-be-tiny-but-its-impact-will-be-huge?c=upw1

And another company doing something right:
For parents of kids with special needs, Target's newest shopping cart is a game-changer.
http://www.upworthy.com/for-parents-of-kids-with-special-needs-targets-newest-shopping-cart-is-a-game-changer

Are these good examples of how to spread hope for better inclusion?

Erato (love) would claim this one:
Hugs Cafe serves up jobs for adults with special needs | Humanity FTW (video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PL_W1Mq2lh4460rq1722xN9SvNybst52Cb&v=xspIHgrL-vY

Isn't this how it is supposed to be?

 

Calliope (multiple justices) would surely claim this one:
Her dad thought her clean energy idea was just a 'kid's project.' He was wrong. (video and text)
http://www.upworthy.com/her-dad-thought-her-clean-energy-idea-was-just-a-kids-project-he-was-wrong?c=upw1

Does it inspire hope in the next generation?

And then to Thalia (comedy video clip that horrifies Terpsichore)
Trump Around – Donald Trump Sings! (And it's not pretty)
http://therealnews.com/t2/component/hwdvideoshare/viewvideo/80264

I want humor, but maybe not so much this reminder type, how about you?

 

And some Terpsichore would find delightful  (fairly short videos to make up for the earlier offense and enable recovery feel free to select types you feel an affinity with):
Traditional Irish Dancers (video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXb7pEEcWq0&list=RDvK8MD8KP7Sg&index=3

Incredibly Talented Dancers on Ukraine's Got Talent (video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fArCts0dUw

2014 Euro Youth Latin | The Final Reel | DanceSport Total (video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMk5k8FCasc

World Dance Sport Games 2013 – Boogie-Woogie Final (video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nvhL2sbZlM

Thiên Thủ Quan Âm (Thousand Hand Guan Yin) (Thai–video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vs-H7xLnrs

2012 US Open Swing Dance Championships – Classic Division Champions (video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0htEqpnKUE

Each an artistic triumph in its own way, does that inspire?

 

Which muse(s) might claim this final gem (video)?

http://www.nathab.com/alaska-northern-adventures/alaska-grizzly-adventure/?link=pic&utm_campaign=wwf_travelenews&utm_medium=email&utm_source=wwf_travel_email&utm_content=1602t-ed#lightbox

Thank you dear reader for joining me on this journey of discovery and quest for hope

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Feb 072016
 

Last night I dealt with the Republican debate in the only intelligent way possible.  I didn’t watch.  Furthermore, George threatened me that, if I filled him with puke again, like I did last time, he would refuse to interface with Stumpy.  I don’t need to have watched to know that the Derby was made of of lies, hate and affronts to human decency from one end to the other.  Here’s the Gray Lady’s analysis, followed by some interesting video.

0207Debate

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was hammered as callow, ambitious and lacking in accomplishment during the Republican presidential debate here on Saturday night, as Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey led an all-out assault to try to halt Mr. Rubio’s growing momentum ahead of the critical New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.

Mr. Rubio, facing the fiercest attacks yet of the Republican race after his strong third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, looked rattled at times and faltered as he pushed back with scripted lines about President Obama that Mr. Christie mocked mercilessly. While the Republicans clashed on issues like abortion and torture, the concerted effort to take down Mr. Rubio dominated the debate.

“You have not been involved in a consequential decision where you had to be held accountable — you just simply haven’t,” Mr. Christie told Mr. Rubio early in the debate. Charging Mr. Rubio with taking credit for policies but then skipping Senate votes on them, he said, “That’s not leadership. That’s truancy.”

The scorn aimed at Mr. Rubio, a 44-year-old first-term senator, came as voters in New Hampshire and nationwide are still taking the measure of him, though he is well positioned to surge nationally if he has a strong showing in the primary here. Still, a Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll last week indicated there was still fluidity in the New Hampshire electorate: 33 percent of Republican primary voters here said they might change their minds before Tuesday…

Inserted from <NY Times>

After Iowa, I’m not surprised to see a pig pile on Border Booter, the Latino that hates Latinos.  He must be flat as a pancake, after PIGnocchio piled-on!

Now you may be wondering how I could have come up with the interesting video I promised at the outset.  Since I’m too kind to assault you with a Clown Car Destruction Derby VIII video. I have a clip for you on an unrelated subject that IS interesting!

Go Bernie!

Now isn’t it time that the Clown Car was destroyed?

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Feb 072016
 

Today is the highest Holy Day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb, so on a scale of one to ten I plan to be bad… very bad!!  Pizza order!!  Yum!!  Tomorrow I have a podiatry appointment, so I’ll be posting an Open Thread, at most.  Go Broncos!!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:35 (average 6:51).  To do it, click here,  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos (classic 6/2014): Multi-millionaire Nick Hanauer is no dummy. He sees the writing on the wall.

I’d strongly suggest you read this entire piece titled "The pitchforks are coming . . . for us Plutocrats"

And what do I see in our future now?

I see pitchforks.

At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.

But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.

And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.

Today this piece is even more relevant than it was then. Click through to read it in its entirety.

From NY Times: An opportunity to pass the most significant federal criminal justice reform in a generation may be slipping away — despite the tireless efforts of many top Republicans and Democrats in Congress, as well as a rare exhortation from President Obama during last month’s State of the Union address.

The bill, known as the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, is the product of years of negotiation over how best to roll back the imprisonment spree of the past four decades, a period in which the federal prison population grew from just under 25,000 to more than 195,000.

Among other features, the act would reduce absurdly long mandatory minimum sentences for many nonviolent drug crimes, give judges more control over the terms of punishment and provide inmates with more opportunities to get out early by participating in rehabilitation programs….

…So what’s the problem? There are two, in fact — and both are serious threats to the bill’s chances of passage.

First, some congressional Republicans now say they will approve the bill only if it includes an across-the-board change in federal law that would make corporations and their executives harder to prosecute for environmental or financial crimes by imposing a new intent, or “mens rea,” standard on these crimes…

…It is already very difficult to prosecute corporate wrongdoers. A report released late last month by Senator Elizabeth Warren documented 20 cases from 2015 alone in which corporations or their executives broke the law but got off with little or no punishment, even when people died as a result of the violations. Speaking from the Senate floor on Wednesday, Ms. Warren called the push for the new intent provision “shameful because we’re already way too easy on corporate lawbreakers.”

The other obstacle to the reform bill’s passage is old-fashioned scaremongering about the release of “violent criminals” into the streets. This is simply not true: Most of the provisions are focused on low-level, nonviolent drug offenders, who make up nearly half of all federal inmates.

Senator Ted Cruz is leading this attack on the new bill. Yet just last year he called mandatory minimum drug sentences “unfair and ineffective,” and he sponsored reforms that would have reduced those sentences even more than the current bill does. Running for president on a hard-right platform has, apparently, changed his mind.

The sentencing reform legislation is not perfect, but it represents remarkable progress in what is often a harsh, oversimplified debate about crime and punishment in America. It should not be weakened, either by narrowing its reach or by sneaking in an unrelated mens rea provision.

The problem with this bill is that it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough but between Koch sucking members of Congress and TRUS "Uranus Inspector" Ted, we probably lose even this pitifully small step forward.

From Alternet: Bernie Sanders’ much-anticipated cameo on Saturday Night Live along-side host Larry David did not disappoint.

This is not the video included with the article. That has been taken down. I hope this one fares better.

Which Bernie is Bernier?

Cartoon:

0207Cartoon

After the game!

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Feb 072016
 

06 February 2016

Today, 06/02/2016, is the Interbational Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.  A 27/11/2012 press release by Amnesty International UK said: 

The adoption yesterday of a resolution against female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee is a major boost to civil society organisations fighting for an end to the abusive practice, Amnesty International has said.
 
This is the first time the Assembly’s Third Committee, which addresses social, humanitarian and human rights issues, has adopted a resolution on FGM – the cutting of a girl’s genitalia clitoris often without anaesthetic in conditions that risk potentially fatal infection.

The resolution is expected to be endorsed by the UN’s General Assembly in December.  Although not legally binding, UN General Assembly resolutions carry considerable moral and political weight.

FGM is common in 28 countries in Africa as well as in Yemen, Iraq, Malaysia, Indonesia and in certain ethnic groups in South America. However it is an issue of worldwide concern, said Amnesty, with Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls in diaspora communities also at risk of being subjected to FGM.

Then on 27/12/2012, 

A resolution against female genital mutilation (FGM) has been endorsed by the UN general assembly in a move hailed by Amnesty International. Today’s result was a first for the UN’s general assembly. …

“The UN resolution places FGM in a human rights framework and calls for a holistic approach, stressing as it does the importance of empowerment of Women's rights's, promotion and protection of sexual and reproductive health, and breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence.”

From Wikipedia — FGM "…is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. Typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade, with or without anaesthesia, FGM is concentrated in 27 African countries, Yemen and Iraqi Kurdistan, and found elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East, and among diaspora  communities around the world."

FGM_prevalence_UNICEF_2015.svgBy Johnuniq – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37848398

In addition, there are growing numbers in Indonesia.  Here is an article from 2014 specifically dealing with FGM in Indonesia.

The Guardian — It's hot, noisy and chaotic, and almost everyone is smiling.

Twelve-year-old Suminah is not. She looks like she wants to punch somebody. Under her white hijab, which she has yanked down over her brow like a hoodie, her eyes have the livid, bewildered expression of a child who has been wronged by people she trusted. She sits on a plastic chair, swatting away her mother's efforts to placate her with a party cup of milk and a biscuit. Suminah is in severe pain. An hour earlier, her genitals were mutilated with scissors as she lay on a school desk.

During the morning, 248 Indonesian girls undergo the same ordeal. Suminah is the oldest, the youngest is just five months. It is April 2006 and the occasion is a mass ceremony to perform sunat perempuan or "female circumcision" that has been held annually since 1958 by the Bandung-based Yayasan Assalaam, an Islamic foundation that runs a mosque and several schools. The foundation holds the event in the lunar month of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, and pays parents 80,000 rupiah (£6) and a bag of food for each daughter they bring to be cut.  

female circumcision

Suminah will be 18 now; a grown woman. She could well be married, or at least betrothed. Soon enough she will probably have her own kids. I hope she's forgotten her pain, but held on to her rage.

The how and why of female genital cutting varies around the globe.  

The 'how' :

Female genital mutilation is classified into four major types:

  • Type 1 – Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).
  • Type 2 – Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (the labia are “the lips” that surround the vagina).
  • Type 3 – Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.
  • Type 4 – Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

As  shown on the map above, FGM is wide spread across west Africa to north-central and north-east Africa.  It is here that the type of FGM varies.  The following April 2015 article goes into the "why", the culture of cutting.

The Atlantic — She [Bettina Shell-Duncan, an anthropology professor at the University of Washington] also challenges some common misconceptions around FGC, like the belief that it is forced on women by men. In fact, elderly women often do the most to perpetuate the custom. I thought African girls were held down and butchered against their will, but some of them voluntarily and joyfully partake in the ritual. I thought communities would surely abandon the practice once they learned of its negative health consequences. And yet, in Shell-Duncan's experience, most people who practice FGC recognize its costs—they just think the benefits outweigh them.  

Shell-Duncan: The girl was 16. Which was young by their standards. Mostly they’re 18, 19, 20, around that.

Women were going to a dispensary the day before and they were getting antibiotics and an anti-tetanus injection. They would get a clean disposable razor. Before they had a traditional knife that was used, but they stopped using that, and now every bride has her own clean razor.

Khazan: And you watched this unfold?

Shell-Duncan: Well, they invited me. They said, “There’s a wedding going on, do you want to go?” And I was like, “Alright.” They took me to this blended-branch hut. They brought in the bride, and they brought in the circumciser, a woman, and a couple of other women followed. And I just sat on the edge in this tiny hut, and watched what was going on. It all happened pretty quickly. They had one woman working, and other women held each leg. The circumciser came in and lifted this cloth that the woman had been wearing draped around her. The circumciser kneeled, and did basically this.

[Flicks her wrist twice.]

And it was done. They poured some water with herbs boiled in it over her body. They moved her up to this little loft.

After a little time everybody looked to see if the cut was okay, and after that, they started brewing some tea. One woman went outside and announced the circumcision was successful. People started roasting lamb, meat. A little while later, warriors came over to the hut and started singing and dancing praises to the bride and the groom. This went on for hours. There was this complete celebration. I was completely perplexed. I sat there just sort of, you know, “Did anyone just see what I just saw?”

Khazan: Was the girl like, “No, don’t do this to me!” or was she like, “This is happening.”?

Shell-Duncan: No, no, she was proud. She sat there stoic and looked up at a focal point. She didn’t flinch, and that’s apparently a really important part of showing your maturity: Can you withstand the pain? It shows that you have the maturity to face the hardship that is coming as a woman.  

Shell-Duncan: There's no question this is a global-health issue. In the U.S., adult women are capable of giving consent for surgical procedures. But what would it take to get a woman in an African country to the same position of being able to give consent? Social pressures [in the nations that practice FGC] are so strong that no woman could ever opt out. Everybody would come down on her. That’s the problem. Why can we give consent and they can’t?

Click through this excellent article for more about the 'why'.  For the western world, FGM is anathema to our way of life.  But as people move about the globe, many of their cultural practices follow.  In the west however, FGM is done in secret because it is against the law and the law is enforced.  In some African countries, FGM is against the law but the laws are not enforced as vigorously, or at all.

In another article, a former excisor now activist against FGM, tells her story of being an excisor for 30 years.

Huffington Post — As my mother was an excisor, it was inevitable I would become one, too. I started as an assistant to my mother-in-law, helping whenever she excised girls. When my mother-in-law died, a few years after my own mother had passed away, many women from my community were insistent I take over.

Even though I'd only ever observed excision, I felt I had enough knowledge needed to perform excision. After much hesitation, I started accepting regular requests from the community as the "work" is profitable. Practitioners are economically stable. They earn their own wage and they carry a lot of social prestige.  

Several years ago, Plan International and its partner organization ERAD came to our village to raise awareness about the risks of FGM and the associated gynecological problems. Villagers were shown photos and videos. Psychosocial support was also provided for women and they were able to understand more about the issues they faced.

The link between female genital cutting and cases of keloid, dysmenorrhea and urinary incontinence became clear. Five years ago, I decided not to practice excision any more. Soon after, my village decided to ban FGM.

Here is an article on the Care2 site posted by Evelyn, a fairly well known human rights activist on Care2: The Fight Against FGM.
Also, here are two petitions against FGM:

Help Stop Female Genital Mutilation – Urge Congress to Pass the International Violence Against Women 

Stop FGM in Indonesia 

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Feb 072016
 

It has been a busy day today mostly doing research for two posts.  I managed a few small errands and came home to relax only to find my DVD player bit the dust.  It is one of those "turn it off, it's fine, turn it on, it's broken" kind of deals. I wonder if Mr Negotiator (Trump) could get me a good deal for a new one?  Tomorrow afternoon, I will be going to see my mother so there may not be a Squatch's Open Thread.

Short Takes

BuzzFeedhat-tip Monka B, Care2 — So, it seems some non-Americans have a few questions about what’s going on in American politics today.

1. First things first: In an American accent, “Iowa caucus” is pronounced “Iowa cock-us” which is also kind of how it feels.

First things first: In an American accent, "Iowa caucus" is pronounced "Iowa cock-us" which is also kind of how it feels.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

“Cock us today at 6:30pm.”

2. Iowa is the first state to vote in the seemingly endless process of the two parties in the US choosing their candidates for president, which at this stage feels like it’s been happening for about 57 years.

Iowa is the first state to vote in the seemingly endless process of the two parties in the US choosing their candidates for president, which at this stage feels like it's been happening for about 57 years.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

If the nomination process is like an army on a long, grim death march through a never-ending winter, this is the bit where they start eating the horses.

Click through for the rest of this hilarious take on the Iowa Caucuses as explained for the Brits.

University of British Columbia — Gustafsen Lake or Ts’Peten, a region close to 100 Mile House in British Columbia, in Secwepemec (Shuswap) territory, was the location of a stand-off in 1995 between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and sundancers and their helpers (Sundancers) conducting religious ceremony that lasted more than thirty days. Gustafsen Lake has been called the “largest paramilitary operation in Canadian history."

The Gustafsen Lake Stand-off stemmed from the longstanding conflict over Aboriginal land occupied by non-Aboriginal settlers without having first signed treaties. People who came to Gustafsen Lake for the Sundance chose to stay in defense of the land as events unfolded during the ceremonial period. They said the land is unceded and unsurrendered to the Crown. The RCMP and government representatives attempted to remove the Sundancers, or “Ts'Peten Defenders,” as tensions escalated between the Sundancers, a local rancher, government agents, and Aboriginal leaders who disagreed with the Sundancers' tactics and legal and religious views.

The siege at Gustafsen Lake has become a controversial event in Canadian history due to government militarization, RCMP smear campaigns, and successful efforts to spread misinformation about the Sundancers. The media were strategically excluded from all but official RCMP accounts of events, resulting in highly skewed reporting. Supporters of the “Ts’Peten Defenders” view the stand-off at Gustafsen Lake as symbolic of the continued efforts of the state to forcibly and violently assimilate Indigenous peoples. Gustafsen Lake is largely underrepresented in mainstream recollections of British Columbian and Canadian histories.

Gustafsen Lake occurred as another militarized stand-off was underway at Ipperwash/Aazhoodena.

Image from "Showdown at Gustafsen Lake," First Nations Drum. Reprinted in Smoke Signals from the Heart (2004) and used with permission from Totem Pole Books.

The Conflict

Starting in 1989 as part of a multi-year period cycle of ceremonial commitment, Sundancers would assemble every summer at a specific site near Gustafsen Lake, or Ts’Peten, to conduct the Sundance. The site was in ancestral Secwepemc territories and was prepared and respected as sacred by the Sundancers under the guidance of the designated Faithkeeper and camp spiritual leader Percy Rosette. The site was encompassed by grazing rights held by a non-Aboriginal American rancher, Lyle James, who used the land as cow pasture. James and the Sundancers had reached an agreement that the Sundancers would assemble at the Sundance arbour area every summer for the Sundance cycle period, provided they would not erect any permanent ceremonial structures.

In 1995, however, tensions escalated between the rancher and the Sundancers. The Sundancers had erected a fence to keep James’s cattle from defecating within the Sundance ceremonial arbour site, and James was not happy. James requested that the camp occupants leave, to which they explained they were unable to do until the Sundance was complete.  The Sundancers claimed that to breach or interrupt a multi-year Sundance commitment is a very serious matter. The Sundancers recall one night when cowboys on horseback rode through the camp and aggressively insulted and harassed them. Two RCMP officers, Native people chosen in keeping with the sensitive nature of the ceremony and prepared site, were then stationed at the Sundance to observe and keep the peace. The RCMP held the position that the conflict was of a personal nature between James and the Sundancers, and therefore they would observe, and not become directly involved. Approximately twenty to thirty of the Sundancers, which included non-dancing participants, stayed on: men, women and children. The Sundance itself went ahead without incident.

The conflict between James and the Sundancers raised larger questions about the land and outstanding Aboriginal title; The Sundancers declared the land unceded and unsurrendered, particularly as to the nature of the interest in the land that James had obtained from the Crown.  As time went on, the RCMP observers suggested that the Sundancers should vacate the site to avoid any further conflict with James. The Sundancers responded that they would not leave until their rights to the land were recognized, some saying they were prepared to die if necessary to protect the land. The Sundancers were concerned about the need to continue to use the site for their religious and spiritual purposes so as to complete the commitment period and Sundance cycle.

Click through for the rest.  Although this happened over twenty years ago, the issues raised have not been dealt with by the Canadian federal government.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as part of his platform, wants to bring about new relationships and respect with and for Aboriginal peoples.  As such, the Ts'Peten Defence Committee has started a petition on Change.org calling for a National Inquiry into the Ts’Peten/Gustafsen Lake Standoff 1995.  I hope you'll sign the petition with me.

For those on Care2, I have also posted this petition at Gustafsen Lake Standoff Petition.

Salon — Donald Trump gave an interview this week all of his potential supporters should watch. In his own words, Trump lays bare the very reasons why he would be such a disastrous choice for president.  

The topic turns to President Obama’s recent nuclear agreement with Iran.  Trump unwittingly displays for all to see that he simply does not understand the most basic elements of the agreement.

Trump proclaims his familiar boast that he is the best deal-maker ever and the best negotiator ever, and that the Obama administration completely botched the negotiation with Iran.  And then Trump graced us with an inside account of how he, as a master deal-maker, would have negotiated the agreement with Iran and obtained a much better outcome for America.

Primarily, Trump would have spared America from having to pay $150 billion to Iran.  

Unfortunately, however, there is one little problem with Trump’s entire analysis. And this problem is that the $150 billion was, in fact, readily available. The reason it was readily available is because all of this money actually belonged to Iran, not to America.  This was Iran’s own money.  This was Iranian money that America had seized and frozen. 

Following is an interview of Trump by CNN's Anderson Cooper where Trump demonstrates his lack of knowlege of the Iran Nuclear Deal.  You would think that a potential presidential candidate would be a little more knowlegable. Even I know that those were Iranian funds!

 

My Universe

I forgets nothing. I wait patiently. - Cat

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Feb 062016
 

As I have said before, Bill Maker is so funny that I forgive his evangelical atheism, because he’s right on virtually everything else.  Here he interviews Gloria Steinem.

0206MaherSteinem

In a wide ranging — and alternately serious and funny — interview with HBO host Bill Maher, feminist icon Gloria Steinem addressed the myth that a woman can “have it all,” saying that is impossible for both men and women.

Steinem is promoting her new book, “My Life on the Road,” saying that it where she has spent most of her time.

“The road used to be a male province for no good reason. It should be everybody’s place, ” she explained. “But also the road was thought to be more dangerous. But, statistically speaking, home is the most dangerous place for a woman,” she added, alluding to domestic violence…

Inserted from <Raw Story>

I have to disagree with one thing.  One of my functions with SDS in New York Coty in the 1960s was to liaise with other organizations, which is how I came to know several famous people.  In that role, I met Gloria on a couple of occasions, and contrary to what she now says, she has mellowed with age and now seems quite likeable.

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Feb 062016
 

Yesterday I was completely exhausted.  This morning I did research, and felt so tired afterwards that I snaffled-up one of the naps Lona left and went back to bed for three hours.  Then I cooked pork chops, cornbread stuffing, and mixed veggies for four meals and froze three.  Then I made and ate a chicken sandwich and a mandarin for lunch.  Tomorrow is the highest holy day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb.  My Broncos are meeting the Panthers.  Even though the Panthers are fellow felines, may the Orb bless my Broncos with its divine light.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:28 (average 4:26).  Birdie for the hungry kitty?  To do it, click here. How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Because nothing says “I care about you” more than making it a little more affordable to drink unsafe water, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has presented a plan to provide $30 million in water bill discounts and retroactive credits for Flint citizens. Huffington Post reports:

Snyder, a Republican, will make the case for the $30 million plan when he presents his budget next week for the coming fiscal year. Pending the state legislature’s approval, his proposal would lower residents’ bills by about 30 percent until water is safe to drink, and credit their past bills going back to April 2014. Former residents would also be eligible for refunds.

“I agree with Flint residents, that they should not have to pay for water they cannot drink,” Snyder said in a statement.

[…]

Flint’s average monthly water and sewer bill was $140 in 2014, much higher than neighboring cities, according to the Flint Journal. Under Snyder’s proposal, a family paying $140 would get about a $40 credit.

Sturmbannführer Snyder is such a compassionate soul… NOT He’s a typical greedy Republican, who wants to charge poor people $100+ per month for poison for their children!

From The New Yorker: Scandal rocked Bernie Sanders’s Presidential campaign on Friday as the candidate was forced to admit that he received free checking from several big banks.

In a press conference in Manchester, New Hampshire, a chastened Sanders acknowledged that, over the past two decades, he received free checking from Bank of America, Citibank, and JPMorgan Chase in exchange for maintaining a five-hundred-dollar minimum balance.

“I should have acknowledged my relationship with these banks earlier,” a subdued Sanders told reporters. “For that, I am sorry.”

The Clinton campaign immediately seized on the revelation, with one senior Clinton aide alleging that Sanders’s cozy relationship with the banks “effectively strips him of the label ‘progressive.’ ”

Dang Andy!! Free Checking?!!? How could Bernie do such a thing?11? Surprised smile Winking smile

From Think Progress: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has been offering increasingly tough talk on immigration as he steadily gains on Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in New Hampshire ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation primary on February 9.

As Trump has won over angry crowds across the state with speeches linking immigration to crime and terrorism, Rubio has begun to mimic his hard-line stance.

“The first thing we must do is make sure ISIS never gets into the United States using our immigration system,” he told a crowd in Laconia on Wednesday. He added that, if elected, he would hire 20,000 new Border Patrol agents, finish 700 miles of fences and walls along the U.S./Mexico border, and strip federal funding from “sanctuary cities” like Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Rubio also blasted the current system for legal immigration based on family reunification, saying that “maybe that worked okay in the 1950s,” but he would institute a system based solely on work skills.

You can count on the Latino hating Latino, Border Booter, to embody Republican bigotry.

Cartoon:

0206Cartoon

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Feb 062016
 

Well here it is . . . Friday!  I was out most of the day teaching English to Lucia.  Jonathan got 100% on his math homework and he has quite a bit to do for Tuesday.  I am very proud of him!  I also helped him with a socials assignment, specifically his English writing skills.  All the kids need help that way and take special language arts classes because English is their 2nd language even though most of them were born in Canada.  Monday is a provincial statutory holiday so the kids will be home.  I agreed to help Jonathan again on Monday.  Loliyo, Jonathan's 9 year old sister, needs some help with math and English too so we are devising a programme for her.  There's no rest for the wicked, but yes Lona, I am trying to watch my time.

Short Takes

Huffington Post — Islamophobia is real.  And it's not going anywhere.

Islamophobia

After last year's terror attacks in Paris and mass shooting in San Bernardino, California — and amidst a surge in anti-Muslim rhetoric from U.S. politicians — reports about Muslims in America facing violence, harassment, intimidation and bigotry have become omnipresent. Many Muslims say Islamophobia is worse now than it's ever been — even worse than it was after 9/11.

Islamophobia in the US is rampant, and IMO, unjustifiably so.  Many people go on about Sharia law and how they think it is taking over US law, but they are quite satisfied to live with Biblical law, or at least their version of it, and subject all people, including non Christians, to it.  Isn't that a double standard?  It is to me.  The 1st amendment to the constitution guarantees freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.  Leave religion in the home and the place of worship.  Huff Post has committed to documenting instances of Islamophobia during 2016.  Click through to read the incidences of Islamophobia for January 2016.

Alternet — You know that “TrusTed” logo?   The one with TRUS and TED merged, yet separated via different colors?  

Turns out that when you Google “TRUS”, the logo at once becomes hilarious and hilariously appropriate . . . 

Click through for the reason Cruz's logo is so damned funny and appropriate.  Sorry TC, I know we agreed on restraint, but I couldn't help myself!  I was busting a gut laughing so wanted to share.

Truthout — Across America, corporate interests are taking aim at local government.

With Congress gridlocked and a majority of state legislatures controlled by right-wing interests, cities have become laboratories of democracy for progressive policies like a higher minimum wage, LGBTQ protections, or parental leave.

A demonstrator displays a flag decrying corporate spending in American political elections in front of the Waukesha Convention Center on July, 13, 2015, in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Photo via Shutterstock)

In response, corporate interests and groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have increasingly been turning to state "preemption" measures – some of them unprecedentedly aggressive – to override an array of progressive policy gains at the city or county level.

"2015 saw more efforts to undermine local control on more issues than any year in history," said Mark Pertschuk, director of the watchdog group Preemption Watch.

So which is it . . . government of the people, by the people and for the people OR government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations?  With 2010's Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, it would seem the latter.  It certainly bears out that for there to be progressive reforms, the American people must start by changing local politics and moving up.  Changing local, state and federal representation can be done concurrently, but it still takes time to get all the ducks lined up.

My Universe — 

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TGIF 5

fun1_zpsc5947875Happy Friday . . . and an even happier weekend!

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Feb 052016
 
furies

I have a few items this week which seem to me to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with it. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

I have left out the water in Flint, MI, because that made such a stir that I expect you are already on to those people.  I have left out the seditious militants because I am confident you are on to them and indeed have already got some action from a grand jury (good going there).  I have also left out the "pharma bro" who seems to be digging his own grave.  Although any or all of these could possibly resurface in the future, they seem for now to be getting handled.

I do want to draw attention to what happened to Melissa Harris-Perry in Iowa.  A journalist with a news-opinion show on MSNBC, a professor of political science at Wake Forest, and an author, she was there, with students, to experience the caucuses.  She was sitting in the hotel lobby, eyes glued to the TV, when suddenly this guy was standing next to her.

When he started he speaking it was like he was picking up in the middle of sentence, finishing a conversation we had begun earlier, but I couldn’t remember ever meeting him.

“…So what is it that you teach?”

“I am a professor of political science.”

“My wife is a professor of communications.”

“Does she teach here in Iowa?”

“What I want to know is how you got credentialed to be on MSNBC.”

I am not sure if it is how he spat the word credentialed, or if it is how he took another half step toward me, or if it is how he didn’t respond to my question, but the hairs on my arm stood on end. I ignored it. Told myself everything was ok.

“Well. It is not exactly a credential…” I began.

“But why you? Why would they pick you?”

Now I know something is wrong. Now his voice is angry. Now a few other people have stopped talking and started staring. Now he is so close I can feel his breath. Before I can answer his unanswerable question of why they picked me, he begins to tell me why he has picked me.

“I just want you to know why I am doing this.”

Oh – there is a this. He is going to do a this. To me. And he is going to tell me why.

She jumped up and put a table between him and her.  Her friend jumped and put herself between them.  They raised their voices, starting to make a fuss.  The man ran out, jumped in a car, and drove off.  They spoke with hotel security, who listened politely, "but this is the Iowa caucus, and I am not a candidate, so they go back to their evening. And we go back to ours." 

This sounds like grudging to me.  Particularly “But why you? Why would they pick you?”  Perhaps, Megaera, you can find this – person – for counseling.  And, if you have time, stop off at Breitbart, who loudly dismissed and mocked her story (Republican not linked).  Thanks much.

Then, Tisiphone, I suspect you will be interested in the management of Tyson Foods in Arkansas.  Tyson comes in for a lot of flack over the way it treats chickens inhumanely, and the way it overfeeds them antibiotics, but this isn't about the chickens.  This is about the workers.

According to an email from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee,

A stunning 91% of surveyed poultry workers reported having no earned sick leave, and almost two-thirds reported working while sick. More than half of these workers said they experienced discrimination, a very troubling statistic for a workforce made up mostly of first- and second-generation immigrants, as well as minority workers from the United States.

 Women, in particular, cited gender discrimination in the way bathroom breaks are withheld by male supervisors. Some have even urinated on themselves because they were not granted breaks when needed.

Well, OK, maybe it is about the chickens too.  That last sentence can't have improved anyone's appetite, even for non-Vegans.  But I primarily was thinking of the vengeful destruction of the human spirit when you make people pee themselves to keep their jobs.  I suspect a lot of these women are mothers, incidentally.  Giving birth can be rough on the sphincters.

The stockholders' meeting was yesterday, and a Twitter/Facebook Thunderclap was planned.  Not being on either, I don't know how it went, but, I hope well.

Finally, Alecto, I don't even know whether there is anything you can really do about the uncea$ing issues of privatization, prisons, and immigrants; although if anyone can, it's you.  ITPI ("In the Public Interest") exists to study and bring to light the specific ills of privatization, which always ends up costing taxpayers more money for less service, while lining the pockets of people rich enough to own an empire to provide the private "service."  Immigration is no exception.  And whenever pri$on is a part of a cycle, and exists to make money, the stakeholders develop a vested interest in keeping people in them to make more and more money.  But, as this graphic shows, there are a lot more people making money from prisons than just prisons.  This contributes more and more to make the cycle never-ending – unceasing.

I think it speaks for itself.  If you need to see it larger to read it you can easily click through.  It does try to distinguish between civil offenders, who are offenders by just being here, and criminal offenders, who have actually committed a crime.  In practice, I don't know.

Alecto, Megaera, Tisiphone, and I will be back next time.  Whenever that is.  Meantime, we wish everyone perfect blood pressure.

 

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Feb 052016
 

Last night I watched one of the best debates I have ever seen.  It was hard fought from beginning to end. If you missed the debate last night, I have the complete video and transcript for you  I think Hillary was the winner on foreign policy, but Bernie was the winner on domestic policy and the economy.  This is how much.

0205Debate

Hillary Clinton appeared frustrated.

Dozens of prominent economists and academic experts have endorsed her plans to regulate the financial sector. Her policies would “try to prevent the problems of the future,” she explained in Thursday’s debate, in addition to reining in “the excesses of Wall Street.”

So why do so many voters not believe it?

Throughout the debate, Mrs. Clinton found herself cornered by Senator Bernie Sanders and the moderators about her ties to Wall Street, the political contributions that have bolstered her campaign account, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars in paid speaking fees she received from Goldman Sachs and other financial firms in the months after she left the State Department.

Mrs. Clinton tried again and again to explain that her plans for Wall Street would be tougher and go further than Mr. Sanders’s proposals by also regulating the shadow banking industry, the insurance companies and other wrongdoers.

“I have a broader view,” Mrs. Clinton said, contrasting her plan to that of Mr. Sanders, whose anti-Wall Street message has turned him from a long-shot candidate to a serious contender for the Democratic nomination… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

While the Gray Lady was clearly attempting to plug their choice, Hillary, even they could not cover up the fact that the audience wasn’t buying part of what she had to say.  On one occasion, they even booed here for attacking Bernie.

If you missed the debate, here’s the complete video,

If you prefer, here is the full transcript.

In my opinion, the biggest difference was that, while hammering on his points, Bernie remained gracious, while Hillary let her frustration get the better of her.

What say you?

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