Nov 272015

Yesterday my friends were under the weather and could not come, But after PT worked ne with my prosthetic leg, I went down to the café by myself.  The open face turkey sandwich was good, but the raspberry cheesecake had flavor to die for.  I watched football for most of the day, but Pam is really kicking my kitty-butt at fantasy football.  Because this  is such a slow news day, this is my only article.

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: …The shopping surge also means that many retail workers have to leave their loved ones and work on the day after (and sometimes the night of) Thanksgiving.

So if you only get one day-after-Thanksgiving every year, it’s silly to waste it at a crowded store with hundreds of other people who are willing to throw elbows to get a new Blu-ray player.

Instead, here are seven ways to spend Black Friday that are (at least in my mind) a whole lot better than shopping.

1. Take a trip to a state park.

I’m pretty sure that parks offer much better views than the inside of a Walmart. So load up your Thanksgiving leftovers into a picnic basket, find the closest park, and get some fresh air. If you live in Minnesota, you can even take advantage of free admission to all of the state’s parks this Nov. 27.

I do not shop on Black Friday.  I shared one. Click through for the other six.

From NY Times: Clasping hands with youngsters in red Communist Youth League scarves, contestants from more than 110 nations descended on the southern Chinese island of Hainan this week for the 65th annual Miss World contest.

But one contestant was absent from the opening ceremony: Miss Canada, otherwise known as Anastasia Lin, a 25-year-old actress and classically trained pianist who has been denied a Chinese visa to attend the monthlong pageant, apparently because of her outspoken advocacy for human rights and religious freedom in China.

After waiting in vain for weeks, Ms. Lin packed up her Canadian-designed eveningwear on Wednesday and quietly boarded a Hong Kong-bound flight with the hope she might obtain an on-demand visa at the border and perhaps slip unnoticed into mainland China.

It was not to be.

The Chinese authorities, tipped off to her arrival, barred her from flying onward to Hainan.


Kudos to Anastasia. We all should boycott Miss World.

From The Hill: The Obama administration is warning states that they cannot refuse to accept refugees fleeing war-torn Syria, saying that noncompliant states may be subject to penalties.

The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) said in a letter to state agencies on Wednesday that they cannot withhold services to refugees based on their country of origin or religion.

“Accordingly, states may not categorically deny ORR-funded benefits and services to Syrian refugees,” the letter said. “Any state with such a policy would not be in compliance with the State Plan requirements, applicable statutes, and their own assurances, and could be subject to enforcement action, including suspension and termination.”

The letter cited the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination on the basis of race or country or origin.

“Thus, it is not permissible to deny federally funded benefits such as Medicaid or TANF to refugees who otherwise meet the eligibility requirements.”

After their big holiday dinners, you can rest assured that hundreds of Republican politicians and pundits will have huge loads in their pants over this one!



Nov 272015

Picketers playing ball outside closed mill during steel srike.  (Photo by Francis Miller//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Politico — The reason critics like Sheila Bair, Elizabeth Warren, Neil Barofsky, Simon Johnson, Paul Krugman and others (left, right and center) won the day—at least the intellectual debate and the war over public perceptions—was not that they were better communicators. It was that they had a more convincing message: There were alternative ways of rescuing the economy that were fairer and that would have resulted in a stronger economy. Instead, our politics and economics are now locked into a vicious circle: Economic inequality leads to political inequality, and this political inequality then leads to rewriting the rules to increase the level of economic inequality even further, and so on. The result? Ever greater disillusionment with our democracy.

Matters may well get worse. Recent research has uncovered a variety of other vicious cycles. Poverty traps mean those in the bottom remain there. The fortunes of a child of poor parents who does well in school are far bleaker than those of a child of rich parents who does much more poorly in school. About a quarter of U.S. college freshmen from the bottom income half finish college by age 24, compared with 90 percent of the upper quartile. And with wages of those who have only a high school diploma at 62 percent of the typical college grad’s earnings—compared with 81 percent in 1965—the prospects are they will be poorer than their parents.

Taken from Wikipedia, Joseph E Stiglitz is "…an American economist and a professor atColumbia University. He is a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and the John Bates Clark Medal (1979). He is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and is a former member and chairman of the (US president's) Council of Economic Advisers.  He is known for his critical view of the management of globalizationlaissez-faire economists (whom he calls "free market fundamentalists"), and some international institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.  

Based on academic citations, Stiglitz is the 4th most influential economist in the world today, and in 2011 he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Stiglitz's work focuses on income distribution, asset risk management, corporate governance, and international trade. He is the author of several books, the latest being The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them (2015)."

From Alternet, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now interviews Joseph Stiglitz.

AMY GOODMAN: Welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about these candidates [Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders] and what they’re saying and what they actually do, what they support.

JOSEPH STIGLITZ: Well, I think we’re in a new moment in America, because I think we’ve had a third of a century of a—you might call, an experiment, a grand experiment, where, beginning with Reagan, we said, "Let’s lower the tax rates on the top. Let’s rip away the regulations. We’re going to free up the American economy. We’re going to incentivize it. The result will be the economy will grow so much—yes, the top will get a larger share, but everybody is going to get a bigger piece, and so everybody is going to be better off." Well, we’ve had a third of a century of this experiment, and it has failed. It has failed miserably. The fact is, the bottom 90 percent have seen their incomes stagnate. Median income today is as low as it was a quarter-century ago. Talking about the minimum wage, minimum wage is the level, adjusted for inflation, it was 45, 50 years ago. You know, if an economy can’t deliver for most of its citizens, it’s a failed economy. What’s so striking is, we’ve had technological change, we’ve had globalization—all the things that were supposed the economy perform better—and in fact it’s performed worse.

Click through to read the rest of these two articles.  In the second, Stiglitz says "…I think the point is the American people have figured out that this model hasn’t worked, you know, the model that began a third of a century ago. So, they’re angry, and they want a change."  If Stiglitz's point is true, then what are the American people going to do to effect the necessary change?  It is, to my mind, imperative that the American people lead with their vote, shake up the establishment.

I also posted The Pitchforks Are Coming … For Us Plutocrats on 31/10/2015 in which Nick Hanauer, billionaire, echoes Stiglitz.

What is the definition of insaniTEA?  Voting the same way time after time yet expecting a different and better economic outcome.



Nov 272015

Today is busy for me.  I'll be off teaching before too long and won't be back til late afternoon.  At least it will be sunny for those out doing Christmas shopping.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:20 (average 5:30). To do it, click here. How did you do? 

Short Takes

CBC — A Muslim group in Peterborough, Ont., will kneel and pray today at a local synagogue, where they will be welcomed after their own mosque was damaged in an arson attack earlier this month that police are investigating as a hate crime.

"As Canadians we have to stick together," said Larry Gillman, president of the  Beth Israel Synagogue, in an interview on  CBC's Metro Morning today. "It's not about religion, it's not about race. Canadians do this."

Click through for the rest.  In a post Paris tragedy, the Masjid al-Salaam mosque in Peterborough, Ont was burned.  But the Beth Israel synagogue extended a hand in friendship and now, both Muslims and Jews are using the same space for worship.  Kenzu Abdella of the Masjid al-Salaam mosque said "At the end of the day, it's a house of God."  Amen!

Alternet — And he said quite clearly that he believes,

“we’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule… And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago…”

Does that add up to fascism? Yeah, pretty much. In his book, “Rush, Newspeak and Fascism” David Neiwert explained that the dictionary definition of the word often leaves out the most important characteristics of the philosophy, which are “its claims to represent the “true character” of the respective national identities among which it arises; and its mythic core of national rebirth — not to mention its corporatist component, its anti-liberalism, its glorification of violence and its contempt for weakness.” If that’s not Donald Trump I don’t know what is.

Facism is like a contagious disease . . . it keeps on infecting.  It's not new, but the current crop of Republicans and Tea Partiers sure seem into ensuring its survival.  Dump Trump.

The Nation — China Labor Watch’s (CLW) report on China’s toy industry is a seasonal reminder of how American families’ appetite for cheap toys is fed by not-so-fun factory jobs, in which workers struggle to sustain their own families on pennies an hour. The advocacy group reports:

In workshops that are hazardous to their health, millions of workers toil under cruel management, 11 hours a day, six days per week. Over the course of a year, a toy worker may only be able to see her parents and children one time.

In low-wage factories that bring Star Wars andFrozen toys to big-box shelves, field researchers reported observing up to 80-hour workweeks, widespread wage theft, and apparent violations of both corporate ethical sourcing codes and Chinese labor law—including age-discriminatory hiring, nonpayment of mandatory social insurance, and inadequate safety training. For example, at two suppliers, Winson and Jetta, employers reportedly “diverted” overtime hours to discount weekend work. As a result, CLW claims, “employing up to 11,000 workers, the two companies may be cheating workers out of $1 to 2 million a year.”

Click through fore more.  How willing are consumers willing to finance the oppression of workers in other countries?  If these were American workers, would consumers still finance the oppression?  Given what happens with Walmart employees and with the media, the conditions would be more noticeable.  But overseas, out of sight, out of mind.

My Universe TGIF!!!  Getting ready for the weekend!


Nov 262015

I have been out for a good part of the day and am back now.  A wonderful sunny day.  I hope my American friends are enjoying a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:33 (average 5:29). To do it, click here. How did you do? 

Short Takes

The Nation — After 9/11, French President Jacques Chirac rejected the “war on terror” proposed by George W. Bush, urging the United States to treat terrorism as a form of criminality. His refusal to go along with Bush adviser Karl Rove’s Orwellian use of language is perhaps the only thing that Chirac
 will be remembered for, but in some ways it’s legacy enough. In contrast, after the November terrorist attacks on Paris, President François Hollande, a Socialist, made the grave error of announcing that France is now at war. Actual states should not grant such legitimacy to small bands of violent criminals, and the deployment of the language and techniques of war is the best way to lose a campaign against them.  

The language of war elevates terrorists to the very status to which they aspire: that of legitimate combatants. The fevered hothouses of extremism, whether in Belgian slums or Saudi Wahhabi mosques, generate a narrative that serves as the pretext for violent action. A country like France is depicted as engaging in monstrous acts, killing defenseless children and women from the air. Gullible teenagers are challenged by a jihadi recruiter with the need to do something to halt the atrocities. They are groomed as heroes, as soldiers saving their people. War is, after all, the one social context in which heinous actions are permitted.

Jacques Chirac has a point.  Daesh is nothing more than a criminal syndicate, so why are the US, the French and their allies giving Daesh legitimacy by calling it a 'state' and declaring war?  Continue reading.

Truthout — Instead of following the White House tradition and "pardoning" a turkey destined for a holiday dinner table, Obama should extend that courtesy to some of the thousands of human beings caged up in America's federal prisons.

Leonard Peltier should be one of them.

Peltier was a Native American activist on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the 1970s. On June 26, 1975, two FBI agents went to Pine Ridge to look for a young man named Jimmy Eagle, who was wanted for robbery. Soon after they spotted his car, a shootout ensued.

Presidents have been pardoning turkeys yearly . . . it's a longstanding tradition.  So why can't POTUS pardon Leonard Pelltier?  Despite new evidence, Pelltier still sits in Florida, incarcerated for murders he did not commit.  Click through for the remainder.

CBC — Canada has so far issued 928 permanent resident visas to Syrian refugees — but there is still no timeline for when they could start arriving.

Immigration Minister John McCallum blames red tape overseas for the delays.

"Not all of them yet have exit visas from Lebanon, and we are working really, really hard to expedite that so they can get those exit visas as soon as possible," McCallum said an interview with Chris Hall, host of CBC Radio's The House.

Canada is contributing an additional $100 million to help the UN care for refugees in their camps, it was announced Thursday in Ottawa.

McCallum also said the first group of new refugees will be flown to Canada on a military plane — although the date for that flight has yet to be set because of the lack of exit visas.

Click through for the rest of the story.  It has started.  The Metro Vancouver South Asian community is lining up its ducks — 1 year free tuition at the Khalsa school for Syrian refugee children with the availability of Islamic teaching as well; clothing; household items; and many more things. Teachers in the provincial school districts are taking courses to assist with integration and how to recognise and deal with potential mental health issues.  Here is another piece about a Syrian refugee family told Canada is next destination.  The trauma that the refugee families endure, the choices they have to make.  This is huge and we must ensure that we are prepared.

The Daily Beast — Long before Syrians fled ISIS and Jews fled the Nazis and Irish fled the famine, the Puritans fled persecution to become the original refugees to alight on our shores.

In gratitude for having found refuge and for the assistance they received from the Native Americans after landing at Plymouth Rock, the Puritans we call Pilgrims held what we know as the first Thanksgiving.

Just a thought on Thanksgiving from a modern refugee.  Click through.

My Universe h/t John Gray, Care2

I'm not buying one of these!  It does not pick up the cat hair, it just moves it about!

Nov 262015

Yesterday my first baby steps were most unsteady, and I would have nosedived without help.  It was too late for the shower.  I did most of my research last night, because I want to finish early.  I have a couple friends coming, and we’ll eat in the café on the first floor of the hospital.  Rush mode engaged.

Short Takes:

From FAIR: CNN host Michael Smerconish (Huffington Post, 11/23/15) brought onto his November 21 show former CIA officer Michael Scheuer, who said that if the US is going to go after ISIS, it should

take out every piece of infrastructure—hospitals, universities, irrigation systems—that make it impossible [sic] for the Islamic State to raise money, to provide electricity, sanitation, potable water. Do exactly what we did to the Germans.

Asked by the CNN host whether the US public would tolerate the “so-called innocent civilian death count,” Scheuer replied:

They should. What’s the difference? They’re not Americans.

Here is the peak of Republican love.  Kill a Muslim for Republican Supply-side Jesus (the polar opposite of the real Jesus).

From Daily Kos: Chalk up another win for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and in fact, another win for the American consumer. In this case, it’s members of the military who have new protections from predatory lenders. The CFPB worked with the Pentagon to develop new rules for how the military discretionary allotment system works. Military personnel can designate a portion of their paycheck to be paid automatically to financial institutions or to people, and previously had no legal protections if they used those automatic payments for personal property—vehicles, appliances and consumer electronics. That’s where unscrupulous companies could exploit them.

The new rules shut down that loophole, and will only allow the automatic payments for “the purpose of savings, insurance premiums, mortgage or rent payments, support for dependents, or investments.” That’s one of the final loopholes closed by the CFBP—the agency that Republicans want to gut—for military personnel who have been big targets for consumer fraud. With all these protections, the CFPB has recovered over $98 million for thousands of service members. You know, the troops Republicans supposedly have so much respect and feeling for.

As of the agency’s third birthday back in July, it had recovered more than $4.6 billion—yes billion for consumers harmed by illegal practices by financial institutions.

No wonder Republicans have never stopped trying to hobble the CFPB!!

From Media Matters: Fox News host Megyn Kelly denounced the scene of a young African American protester standing in front of a police officer during a peaceful protest in Chicago following the announcement that police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with the first-degree murder of an African American teen.

Protests erupted in Chicago following the release of a video showing the shooting death of 17 year old Laquan McDonald. Fox News covered the peaceful protest noting the silent protest of one young black man looking at a police officer. Fox’s Megyn Kelly interrupted her show to comment on the protester, arguing that the protestor was not “appropriate,” because the police officer “hasn’t done anything wrong.” From the November 24 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File:

Barf Bag Alert!!


Actually, I’m shocked that others on her show were able to counter Megyn Kelly’s racism, without having their microphones cut off.



Nov 262015

That’s Turkey talk for HAPPY  THANKSGIVING!

(Sure, Snoopy – that’s a given.  But I had NO idea Woodstock was a carnivore!)


I’ve so many things to be thankful for, but certainly one at the top of the list is getting to know and enjoy the many dear friends at this site.

My Mom & aunt made it down safely from Illinois yesterday, and said the traffic wasn’t too bad.  We’ll be getting together w/ about 15-20 of the relatives (depends on how many of the college kids bring their “significant others”) for the turkey dinner at noon.

I have a great roasted root vegetable recipe that’s a favorite, but given the carpal tunnel surgery that’s out!  So I’m bringing broccoli (frozen from Costco) that’s sautéed with raisins and toasted pecans.  (Think I can handle that much one-handed.)  It’s a recipe from PBS’s “America’s Test Kitchen” cookbook, and I’ve never had a bad dish from them … so far.

We’ll get together with the remainder of the relatives (who celebrate Thanksgiving w/ others) on Friday morning – but just for coffee.  They’ll go out for lunch, but it’s too much for my Mom w/ her walker, so she and I will enjoy some split pea soup from the freezer.

Looking forward to enjoying Turkey Day w/ my Mom and the relatives.  Hope yours is a safe and enjoyable one, too!

(PS – I’ll be thankful when the sutures come out in another eight days!)

Nov 252015


People of Faith Declare VICTORY in Effort to Pass Ban on CIA Torture

" Earlier today, President Obama signed into law the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA included a provision authored by Senator McCain and Senator Feinstein that makes permanent the ban on CIA torture."


If you want to refresh your memory a tad on this issue which has been alive for many years:


Obama signs defense bill, finalizing military retirement overhaul

Also addresses paid patriotism with sports teams, personal firearms on bases and gender neutral occupational standards.



Obama signs bill making Gitmo closure tougher


You decide, did he get the best he could from this Congress?  Did we make some progress?

And finally, will federal agencies like DOJ finally get to read the Senate Report?

Nov 252015

While Jon's rapier wit here was wielded quite awhile ago, it makes points still of concern and appropo to today's reporting besides still making us laugh…so I bring it to you to help set the tone for giving thanks (if you are in the US and celebrating this week).



Nov 252015

Because we’re about to start a long holiday weekend, I’ll leave you with something entertaining.

1125HairballI’d be laughing a little harder if all this fascist was doing was giving comedians like Stephen Colbert some food for fodder. That said I am grateful the comedic relief when what passes for supposedly “straight news” looks more and more like something out of The Onion, due to one of our political parties having lost their damned minds.

As we already discussed here, Donald Trump screwed the pooch once again, and just made up stuff about seeing thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the attacks on 9-11, and then changed his story but justified it by saying that he has “the world’s best memory.”

Colbert had a field day with that one, along with Trump pretending that he has the ability to see into the future, as he did when he claimed that he predicted that Osama bin Laden was going to be causing some trouble for the United States. As Colbert noted, who could have seen that coming?…

Inserted from <Crooks and Liars>


If Hairball had the world’s greatest memory, he’d know where he saw the video. I can do this too {Spooky Music}.

I predict that, next December, Hairball will NOT be president!!

Nov 252015

I’m getting as much done early as I can, because I expect a very busy day.  Sometime this afternoon my interim prosthetic leg will arrive.  I will use it for about six months, shrink out of it, and have a new cup made.  Today I will take my first baby steps on two feet.  I also expect visits from PT and OT.  OT plans to help me use the shower.  I’ll just have to suffer through that.  Winking smile

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2014 there was a huge increase in sexually transmitted diseases in the United States.

The CDC estimates that nearly 20 million new STD infections happen each year in the U.S., with the majority affecting 15 to 24-year-olds.

Reports of gonorrhea and syphilis also increased in 2014. There was a 2.8% increase in chlamydia since 2013, and reports of syphilis, which has three stages, increased for the most infectious stages of the disease by 15.1%.

One of the reasons for this rise in STDs is the war being waged on public health in this country over the last couple of decades.

The increase in STDs is in many ways a result of cuts in funding to public health clinics, Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, told NBC.

“Most recently, there have been significant erosions of state and local STD control programs,” Bolan said. “Most people don’t recognize that the direct clinical care of individuals with sexually transmitted diseases is supported by state and local funds and federal funds.”

This leads to men and women not getting tested and treated early, before further infections occur. As the CDC report notes, it’s not particularly economic to cut our public health and then have to pay it out on the other end.

This is a direct result of the Republican sequester.  Thanks, Republicans!

From The New YorkerIn an announcement on Monday morning, Pfizer, the big drug company, whose headquarters are on East 42nd Street, in Manhattan, said that it is merging with one of its competitors, Allergan PLC. Ian Read, a Scottish-born accountant who is Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive, said that the proposed deal, which is valued at a hundred and sixty billion dollars, would “create a leading global pharmaceutical company with the strength to research, discover and deliver more medicines and therapies to more people around the world.”

On Wall Street and in the world of big pharma, that statement will raise chuckles. It is widely acknowledged that the primary impetus for the deal is a financial one. In merging with Allergan, which is based in Dublin, Pfizer intends to move its corporate residency to Ireland, where the corporate tax rate is just 12.5 per cent, compared to thirty-five per cent for a company of its size in the United States. Over the next few years, the merger could save Pfizer billions of dollars in taxes and deprive the U.S. Treasury of the same amount.

Tax-driven deals of this nature are known as “inversions,” and they are becoming increasingly common. Burger King, Liberty Global, and Medtronic are among the U.S. corporations to have carried out mergers that moved their headquarters abroad. Last year, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said that inversions were “wrong,” and that he would try and restrict them. Only last week, the Treasury Department issued some new administrative guidelines in this area. Without actual legislation, though, there isn’t very much the Obama Administration can do to prevent these exercises in corporate tax-dodging, and Republicans on Capitol Hill have displayed little eagerness to coöperate in a crackdown.

It’s simple. If a company wants to do business in our marketplace, they should have to pay taxes here. To make this happen we must flush the Republican Party.

From NY Times: For more than a year, a rare coalition of liberal groups and libertarian-minded conservatives has joined the Obama administration in pushing for the most significant liberalization of America’s criminal justice laws since the beginning of the drug war. That effort has had perhaps no ally more important than Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by a pair of brothers who are well-known conservative billionaires.

Now, as Congress works to turn those goals into legislation, that joint effort is facing its most significant test — over a House bill that Koch Industries says would make the criminal justice system fairer, but that the Justice Department says would make it significantly harder to prosecute corporate polluters, producers of tainted food and other white-collar criminals.

The tension among the unlikely allies emerged over the last week as the House Judiciary Committee, with bipartisan support, approved a package of bills intended to simplify the criminal code and reduce unnecessarily severe sentences.

This makes it crystal clear that Republicans really don’t give a damn about sentencing reform. They’re just using it to mask protecting big corporate criminals from responsibility for their crimes.