Oct 032015

It has been a busy day!  I did two hours of physiotherapy followed by 3 hours of teaching ESL.  Once I arrived home, it was straight to the computer to get the 02/10/15 articles posted to Care2 and links distributed. I took advantage of one of Lona's cat naps . . . soooooooo relaxing! and then had a late dinner.  As a result, this is today's only article.  Tomorrow won't be so busy outside the house, but I need to do laundry before I start scaring the neighbourhood!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:31 (average 4:24). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Upworthy — Female genital mutilation, also known as FGM or FGC (female genital cutting), is performed in several African countries and parts of the Middle East, and less frequently in Malaysia, Indonesia, India, and Pakistan. It also occurs in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Europe — despite being illegal in many places.

FGM is barbaric, inhuman and a violation of human rights and dignity. Please sign this petition to end FGM.

Read the rest of the article and see how five young men react to this proceedure.

Rachel Maddow — h/t Jim PhillipsA look at Kevin McCarthy, poised to be the new Speaker of the House when Congressional Republicans vote next week.

As things sit now, the Speaker, 2nd in succession to the White House behind the Vice President should something happen to the President, is elected by only 247 members of the House of Representatives.  Scary! Does Kevin McCarthy represent the level of competence that the Republicans, or more specifically the Teabaggers, bring to the Congress? Even scarier!!  If so, then God help the US.

NY Times — Ever since it became public that Pope Francis met in Washington with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples, the questions have been swirling: Why did he meet with her, and was it meant as a political statement?

As it turns out, the Vatican said on Friday, the pope did not mean to endorse Ms. Davis’s views. It also said he gave her no more than a typical brief greeting, despite what her lawyer described.

Instead, the Vatican said that Francis gave only one “real audience”: to someone later identified as one of his former students, Yayo Grassi, a gay man in Washington who says he brought his partner of 19 years to the Vatican’s embassy in Washington for a reunion. They even shot video.

This is a portion of a Faithful America e-mail that Joanne brought to my attention:

After days of speculation, the truth has finally come out: Pope Francis did not hold a private meeting to express his support for Kim Davis's efforts to block gay marriage licenses.

According to an official Vatican statement, Kim Davis was among "several dozen persons" attending a reception at the Vatican embassy, "the pope did not enter into the details of the situation," and "his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support."

Moreover, it seems that the pope did not request Kim Davis be invited.

According to press reports, one man was likely responsible for Davis's invitation: Carlo Maria Vigano, a conservative church official who was appointed by Pope Benedict as Vatican ambassador to the United States (formally called the "apostolic nuncio").

Having created an opportunity for right-wing evangelicals to dishonestly hijack the message of the pope's visit to the United States, Vigano must now resign.

If you are interested in the Faithful America petition, you can find it HERE. 

I believe that Kim Davis is being used as a political bullet within the Vatican in a dispute between the very conservative factions and the more liberal Pope Francis.  I have no sympathy for her whatsoever.  Davis has a job to do . . . act in accordance with the laws of the land . . . and if she cannot do that for any reason, she should resign.

Mother Jones — While speaking to reporters during a campaign stop in Greenville, South Carolina, on Friday, Jeb Bush weighed in on the latest school shooting to take place in the United States, this time in Oregon, just a day before.

You can read a transcript of his comment HERE.  Mr Compassionate speaks out . . . what a farce!

My Universe — 


Give these boys a remote control and they will be attending services

at the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb!

Oct 022015

From my perspective, it seems that the rights of the few (NRA etc) out weigh the rights of the many, the people of the US.  There are too many shootings, and for what?

There have been only 274 days this year. The shootings are captured in this calendar, drawn from the the Mass Shooting Tracker. The tracker draws some criticism because its definition is broader than the FBI's definition, which requires three or more people to be killed by gunfire. But the broader definition is nonetheless a useful one, because it captures many high-profile instances of violence — like the Lafayette theater shootings — that don't meet the FBI's criteria.

… And of course, there's the broader universe of nearly 10,000 people killed and 20,000 wounded in nearly 40,000 gun violence incidents so far this year.

Read more at the Washington Post

When it comes to gun massacres, the United States is tragically exceptional: There are more public mass shootings in the United States than in any other country in the world, according to a new study.

The 90 U.S. mass shootings are nearly a third of the 292 such attacks globally for that period. While the U.S. has 5% of the world's population, it had 31% of all public mass shootings.

What's behind all these mass slayings in the United States?

  • The copycat phenomenon
  • Is desire for fame a factor?

Read more at CNN

And that brings me to the latest tragedy at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg,Oregon this morning.

Photo published for 13 reported dead at community college school shooting near RoseburgAt the last update this evening, there are 10 dead and 7 wounded.  Little is known about the shooter but more will unfold in the coming days.

It’s hard to know what’s sicker. The latest rampage and mass murder of innocents by a gun-wielding killer, or the knee-jerk reactions by Republican presidential candidates tweeting their sympathies after spending their political lives opposing gun control?

Ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who supports vigilante “Stand Your Ground” laws and carrying concealed weapons, tweeted, “Praying for Umpqua Community College, the victims, and families impacted by this senseless tragedy.”

Read more comments from Republican presidential candidates in Alternet.

And these tweets from politicians who would rather tweet platitudes than address the issues by tightening gun regulations.


Speaker John Boehner ✔@SpeakerBoehner

Prayers for the victims, families, students, & faculty at Umpqua Community College, & the community of Roseburg, Oregon.

11:47 AM – 1 Oct 2015

Pat Roberts ✔@SenPatRoberts

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and all those affected by this terrible tragedy at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

11:55 AM – 1 Oct 2015

Chris Murphy ✔@ChrisMurphyCT

This is on us. Silence from Congress has become quiet endorsement of those whose minds unhinge and veer toward mass violence.

12:49 PM – 1 Oct 2015

Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat from Conneticut has the correct idea. Read further comments at The Huffington Post 

Listen to part of Mr Obama's speech at The Huffington Post where he says:

"We are collectively answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction," 

Please keep the victims and their families, and the people of Roseburg, Oregon in your thoughts and/or prayers.  There is an online book of condolences where you can leave words of sympathy and support.   

Oct 022015

It has been a fairly relaxing day, although most of it has been spent at the computer working on Friday's and Saturday's articles.  That means tonnes of reading and other research.  Tomorrow I have physio, closely followed by teaching ESL so time is short.  Thanks to Lona for the supply of cat naps to which I avail myself from time to time.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:24 (average 5:23). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Upworthy — h/t JL — Cats. We love them, but do they love us? We may never know. But there's one thing we know … cats hate patriarchy.

If you've ever tried to make a cat live up to your expectations of cat behavior, you probably already know this. They despise ALL systems of unequal power and expectations. Cats are over patriarchy.

Of course cats are so over patriarchy!  Check it out.  They are fully into catriarchy!

The New Yorker — After the stunning ISIS blitz in June, 2014, that captured tremendous territory in Syria and Iraq, Washington employed a so-called “Iraq First” strategy. The U.S.-led coalition committed to using air power to contain ISIS in Syria but gave preference to restoring Iraqi sovereignty. Priorities are now shifting, as Syria’s war spreads across continents. The United States would like to replicate the success of the Iran nuclear deal to press for coöperation among China, Russia, Iran, and the European powers, while also enlisting Turkey and the Arab countries that are heavily invested in Syria’s future. At the U.N., on Wednesday, Kerry warned Russia against striking targets beyond ISIS or Al Qaeda’s local affiliate. But, Kerry told the Security Council, “The United States supports any genuine effort to fight ISIL and Al Qaeda affiliated groups, especially Al Nusra.” If Russia has a “genuine commitment” to defeat ISIS, he said, “we welcome that effort” and will work to “deconflict” the respective American and Russian air campaigns in Syria. The bigger question is whether Iran’s interest in coöperation was maxed out with the nuclear deal—or whether old enemies could become unlikely partners in determining Syria’s future.

As said in The Nation "Similarly, each of Kissinger’s Middle East initiatives has been disastrous in the long run. Just think about them from the vantage point of 2015: … emboldening Pakistan’s intelligence service, nurturing Islamic fundamentalism, playing Iran and the Kurds off against Iraq, and then Iraq and Iran off against the Kurds, and committing Washington to defending Israel’s occupation of Arab lands."

Will Iran coöperate on Syria?  It is hard to say.  Russia is backing Assad and bombing Syrian rebel forces which also include ISIS fighters.  As well, Russia has supplied weapons and materiel to Iran. But the US has nurtured Islamic fundamentalism which it now wants to defeat.  It seems that the various countries are doing what is right for them while ignoring the people of Syria.

Huffington Post — Ray Halbritter, representative of the Oneida Indian Nation and an occasional Huffington Post blogger, says that instead, Snyder and other supporters of these names and mascots are denying Native Americans a simple request to be seen as equals in the eyes of their non-Native peers.

"They're so desensitized, they think Indian people are not real people; our children and our concerns are not real to them," Halbritter told HuffPost last year. "They don't think [the debate] is even real, they don't even think it's even worth bringing up or talking about. We're not human beings, we're not even part of humanity. And that's the problem. They think of us as just something to entertain them, or mascots — relics out of a museum."

Jeb: “But again, I don’t think politicians ought to be having any say about that, to be honest with you. I don’t find it offensive. Native American tribes generally don’t find it offensive.”

Ah, rich white privilege at it's finest with a rich white male Republican at the helm!  Bush is reprehensible (I wanted to use some other nouns and adjectives but thought better of it since this is TC's blog) as is Snyder.  I wonder where Jeb obtained his information about what Native American tribes find offensive, or not?

My Universe — I could not resist sharing this video with you.  I don't know if it's just flip-flops that engenders this reaction or more.  My cats like to use my shoes for sleeping on when they're not on the bed.  Enjoy!

Oct 022015


I call this Update #6.5 because it is in some ways an update, but in another way it is momentous news deserving of it's own post!


I spoke with TC!



OK, so it's not Cinco de Mayo today!

But my feelings, well it is a day to celebrate!

And this is the only picture that has TC all dressed up to party!

I called the hospital yesterday afternoon to speak with Tom but he was sleeping.  Incase you don't know, cats sleep a lot!  So I spoke briefly with Lynn, Tom's nurse. She suggested I call back which I did about 2 hours later. She was able to hold the phone for him to listen but he is still unable to talk . . . just yet.

I told him four things:

  • we all LOVE him and miss him bunches and bunches!  
  • we are keeping up the blog and it was doing well.
  • then, knowing the nature of tom cats, I told him to quit chasing the nurses down the halls!
  • there were a ton of people praying and thinking of him, wishing him a speedy recovery, and that I had cards from all sorts of people for him when he is able.

I have to admit that I repeated #1 several times.  Funny thing though, I heard a noise which sounded like a "kiss" so that tells me he heard me and was cheered. I reckon he had a big smile on his face.  I sure had a big smile on my face!

So keep up the good thoughts and prayers!  He knows you love him!




Oct 022015

The four of us who have been working both in front of and behind the scenes (Lynn [aka “Squatch”], JLA, Joanne D, and myself, SoINeedAName) are now glad to provide some good news out of Oregon, rather than the disheartening news of yet another mass shooting massacre.

I’ll begin with our routine Disclaimer: We share your desire for as much information on TC as possible.  But we will continue to respect his privacy, and recognize the hospital has an ethical and legal obligation as directed by HIPAA guidelines to also protect his privacy. 

I had the good fortune to speak with the Nurse Case Manager overseeing his care at the hospital TC is currently staying.  Last time I spoke with the nurse taking care of TC it was their feeling then that he most likely would be able to be transferred to a less intense facility in about two weeks.

But TC has made such progress that they now hope to transfer him in the next 2-5 days!

The next step-up facility is specifically designed to provide multiple therapy modalities that he will require on a longer term basis, but still relatively close to home.

This is most assuredly the direction we were all hoping for – so some good news to brighten an otherwise depressing news day.

We still need to gird ourselves for the bumps in the road that are typical in complicated medical cases.  And keep those cards and letters coming, addressed as follows …

c/o Lynn Squance,
436 Lehman Place, 
Port Moody, BC
V3H 3Z6

For US residents: Please note: International Postage required!


For other International residents: please check locally for stamp rates

For Canadian residents: please use “oversize” letter rates if applicable (applies to many but not all cards):https://www.canadapost.ca/cpotools/apps/far/business/farLetter?execution=e5s1


Oct 012015

I have been a student of history for many years, so when I came across this article in The Nation, I wanted to share it with you.  I remember many of the events and details enumerated, but the author puts them in context and shows the progression to today's US foreign policy in the Middle East.

We’re still paying the price of Henry Kissinger’s “grand strategies.”

The only person Henry Kissinger flattered more than President Richard Nixon was Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the shah of Iran. In the early 1970s, the shah, sitting atop an enormous reserve of increasingly expensive oil and a key figure in Nixon and Kissinger’s move into the Middle East, wanted to be dealt with as a serious person. He expected his country to be treated with the same respect Washington showed other key Cold War allies like West Germany and Great Britain. As Nixon’s national security adviser and, after 1973, secretary of state, Kissinger’s job was to pump up the shah, to make him feel like he truly was the “king of kings.”


Less well known is the way in which Kissinger’s policies toward Iran and Saudi Arabia accelerated the radicalization in the region, how step by catastrophic step he laid the groundwork for the region’s spiraling crises of the present moment.    

What the shah wanted most of all were weapons of every variety—and American military trainers, and a navy, and an air force. It was Kissinger who overrode State Department and Pentagon objections and gave the shah what no other country had: the ability to buy anything he wanted from US weapons makers.

“We are looking for a navy,” the shah told Kissinger in 1973, “we have a large shopping list.” And so Kissinger let him buy a navy.

By 1976, Kissinger’s last full year in office, Iran had become the largest purchaser of American weaponry and housed the largest contingent of US military advisers anywhere on the planet. By 1977, the historian Ervand Abrahamian notes, “the shah had the largest navy in the Persian Gulf, the largest air force in Western Asia, and the fifth-largest army in the whole world.” That meant, just to begin a list, thousands of modern tanks, hundreds of helicopters, F-4 and F-5 fighter jets, dozens of hovercraft, long-range artillery pieces, and Maverick missiles. The next year, the shah bought another $12 billion worth of equipment.

After Kissinger left office, the special relationship he had worked so hard to establish blew up with the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the flight of the shah, the coming to power of Ayatollah Khomeini, and the taking of the US Embassy in Tehran (and its occupants as hostages) by student protesters.

Read the rest of this very interesting, albeit long article.  It certainly casts a brighter light on US foreign policy in the Middle East.

Oct 012015

Today was not as busy as yesterday, but thanks Lona for the cat nap.  I availed myself late this afternoon.  Too bad because it was a wonderfully sunny day and not hot.  Very pleasant!  One thing that I have noticed is that while the trees are turning colours and losing their leaves, some shrubs are actually showing new growth like in the spring.  The drought took its toll, but more growth is starting as a result of the rain.  Thank you all for your birthday wishes for my mother.  I did indeed pass them on to her.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:47 (average 5:51). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Fantasy Football — I can't provide the excellent report that TomCat does, but a simple copy/paste works to give everybody an idea where things stand.

I see Vivian you have fixed your "bye issue" for now.  Any more questions just send me a message.

Rank Team W-L-T Pct Stk Waiver For Against


3-0-0 1.000 W3 5 353.58 250.06

Progressive UnderdogsProgressive Underdogs

2-1-0 .667 L1 4 306.14 243.64

Size 9 StompersSize 9 Stompers

2-1-0 .667 W2 9 246.72 238.50

TomCat Teabag TrashersTomCat Teabag Trashers

2-1-0 .667 W2 3 329.20 319.64

Monster MashersMonster Mashers

2-1-0 .667 W1 10 262.64 229.14


1-2-0 .333 L2 2 274.96 329.86

Lefty HillbilliesLefty Hillbillies

1-2-0 .333 L1 8 230.94 226.46

Playing without a helmetPlaying without a helmet

1-2-0 .333 L2 1 305.14 400.34

BALCO BombersBALCO Bombers

1-2-0 .333 W1 7 252.02 265.30

Purple DemonPurple Demon

0-3-0 .000 L3 6 251.38 309.78

* Rank change shown is from week 2 – 3

Short Takes

Daily Kos — h/t Pat B — The hypocrisy ran rampant during the congressional hearing on Planned Parenthood funding. The disrespect shown to Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards bordered on misogyny.

Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chair Jason Chaffetz should be ashamed of the entire hearing. The congressman's attacks on Cecile Richard illustrated that, in fact, his party's war on women is real. It is not made up.

Please make a point to see the video at Daily Kos with Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings offering a fierce and cogent response to the attack on Cecile Richards during the Planned Parenthood "hearing". Here is Rachel Maddow with Cecile Richards.

Alternet — John Boehner was awful, or as Paul Krugman writes in Monday's column, "a terrible, very bad, no good speaker of the House. Under his leadership, Republicans pursued an unprecedented strategy of scorched-earth obstructionism, which did immense damage to the economy and undermined America’s credibility around the world."

The trouble is, Boehner was merely a symptom of a far worse strain in the Republican party that, with his exit, will be unleashed on us with even fuller fury.

And Bill Maher commented on Boehner's resignation in a monologue.

The New Yorker — Just hours after NASA revealed the discovery of water on the surface of Mars, a spokesman for Koch Industries said that the company would spend billions to become the red planet’s first major industrial polluter.

“At Koch Industries, we are well aware that our practice of spewing over six million pounds of toxins a year into Earth’s water is not sustainable,” said the billionaire Koch brothers’ corporate spokesman, Harland Dorrinson. “That’s why this discovery of water on Mars is so exciting.”

Is Andy channeling future events that will come to pass, or sitting in on a Koch wet dream?

My Universe — I am feeling a little hen pecked!  My kids are sitting on the floor around me but reaching up to the keyboard on occasion!