Everyday Erinyes #66

 Posted by at 2:15 pm  Politics
Mar 182017

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  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."

One of the detainees released from Guantánamo by President Obama before leaving office was Abdul Zahir.  It's not clear how long he was held after the government conceded that he was not the man they had intended to arrest, another Abdul (not Zahir) who shared a nickname ("Abdul Bari") with him.  This is as if white supremacist terrorists had bombed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), not on account of public lands, but because they were under the impression that it was Black Lives Matter (BLM).

I don't want to go into everything that Zahir suffered while in Guantánamo, though it would make a column by itself – possibly two.  Rather, I want to emphasize, with the author of the linked column, that release after fourteen years of being unlawfully detained (and tortured) may be a step in the right direction – but it does not by any means constitute justice.

Moving on could be difficult for Zahir. Many former Guantánamo and CIA black site detainees continue to face mental health problems even after being released, such as depression and post-traumatic stress. That makes it difficult for them to readjust into normal society. This means true justice for Guantánamo detainees entails more than just releasing them to another country. It also must include redress for the torture inflicted upon them and the physical, mental and emotional problems resulting from that abuse.

However, true justice does not currently seem within reach for current and former Guantánamo detainees. There arecurrently 41 detainees in Guantánamo, including 26 held in indefinite detention — people whom the government does not have enough untainted evidence to prosecute but claims are too dangerous to release.

I think that the details of Abdul Zahir's suffering (though I didn't share them), as well as the sufferings of those still detained (though I don't have those details) make this a case for you, Tisiphone.  I should note also that the photo here shows protestors, NOT actual current or former detainees.

Next, I'd like to share a story from California (but which I'm sure has its counterparts all over the US and likely the world). 

In what is commonly called “pay-to-stay” or “private jail,” a constellation of small city jails — at least 26 of them in Los Angeles and Orange counties — open their doors to defendants who can afford the option. But what started out as an antidote to overcrowding has evolved into a two-tiered justice system that allows people convicted of serious crimes to buy their way into safer and more comfortable jail stays.

An analysis by the Marshall Project and the Los Angeles Times of the more than 3,500 people who served time in Southern California’s pay-to-stay programs from 2011 through 2015 found more than 160 participants who had been convicted of serious crimes including assault, robbery, domestic violence, battery, sexual assault, sexual abuse of children and possession of child pornography.

California law allows someone convicted of a misdemeanor to serve his/her time in the county jail of the county in which convicted, with judicial discretion.  But judges are allowing the privilege to felons, and extending it past county lines, neither of which is an option specified in the law.  Perhaps what shocked me most in this story, though, is that there are cities with jails which actually ADVERTISE their services on their websites"The Pay to Stay Program assists persons interested in serving their commitments over a series of weekends, who need a program that permits them to attend work daily or who are simply searching for a less intimidating environment.  Options such as these provide the opportunity to preserve career standing, maintain family support obligations and the ability to serve a commitment in safety and with dignity."

Some people are saying, like John Eum, a detective with the LAPD, that "The whole criminal justice system is becoming more and more about: How much money do you have? Can you afford better attorneys? Can you afford to pay for a nicer place to stay?”  Others, like be, believe that this has always been the system, but it is certainly coming more and more out into the open.  Alecto, is there anything you can do?

With 65 prior Erinyes columns under my belt, plus one special edition, you may wonder just what it would take to render me speechless.  Well, wonder no more.  It is not a huge atrocity with blood and guts and explosions.  It it just so darned petty that I can't find words for it.

A ban on crayons. That’s what it came to at the visitors’ center at the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas, one of three immigration detention centers that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) currently uses to house mothers and children who’ve been stopped seeking asylum in the United States. Six volunteer lawyers who work with detained families wrote a letter to ICE explaining why they liked to bring crayons when they met with clients: “Having children color and draw provides a distraction for children while their mothers relate incidents of trauma, violence and abuse. Other children sit outside the interview rooms and draw at the tables, so they are not forced to listen to their mothers’ harrowing narratives nor witness their mothers’ fragile emotional states during these interviews.” But ICE determined some of the children were doing “damage” to tables and walls in the visitors’ center while coloring. The crayon ban was just another blow to children already essentially being housed as prisoners by the federal government. The latest memos from the Department of Homeland Security outlining plans for enforcing the executive orders on immigration issued by President Donald Trump mean the numbers of children and mothers being detained this way (in America) will only swell.

A. ban. on. crayons.

My. God.

Megaera, could this possibly be the definition of "grudging"?

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4042940

Jan 052016

I said yesterday that today would be busy, and it was.  I arrived home finally about 18:30 and sat down to relax . . . that was that for about 2 hours.  Tomorrow should be more relaxed.  Certainly was nice to come home to 3 purring furbabies.

Short Takes

Alternet — America has succumbed to a vicious cycle in which great wealth translates into political power, which generates even more wealth, and even more power.  

The progressive era welled up in the last decade of the nineteenth century because millions of Americans saw that wealth and power at the top were undermining American democracy and stacking the economic deck. Millions of Americans overcame their cynicism and began to mobilize.  …

 it is up to the rest of us to continue to organize and mobilize. Real reform will require many years of hard work from millions of us.

"Real reform will require many years of hard work from millions of us."  This is the bottom line!  Getting out the vote.  Unrelentingly pushing for change.  We are still in an age of instant gratification.  But we have to realise that change does not happen over night.  Change takes time, persistence and dedication.

Mother Jones — Between the shooting deaths of three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood, the Supreme Court's decision to hear its first abortion-related case in nine years, and the more than 50 new abortion restriction laws enacted by state governments, abortion access was one of the most important issues of 2015. With presidential politics and ongoing legal challenges in the states, abortion rights will continue to be under fire in 2016.

"Last year's big events, like the Planned Parenthood videos and the Supreme Court case, have actually ginned up even more interest in restricting abortion," Elizabeth Nash, a senior state issues associate at the Guttmacher Institute, tells Mother Jones. "If it was possible, they've actually added more energy to decreasing abortion access."

Republicans say they want small government, but they insist on making more repressive laws that affect women. And family values?  They have no idea what true family values are!

Huffington Post — California lawmakers can ask for voters' opinions on campaign-spending laws after the California Supreme Court on Monday upheld the Legislature's power to use advisory ballot measures.

In a 6-1 decision, the Golden State's high court ruled lawmakers have the power to place a nonbinding measure on statewide ballots asking voters if Congress should be spurred to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling on unlimited independent campaign donations.

This sounds promising , another tool in the End Citizens United tool box, at least in California.  Will similar measures catch on in other states?  Certainly not in Republican states.  Citizens United should have never come to be.

My Universe


The natural order!


Nov 292015

Although in one sense not a lot happened yesterday, with December looming, my calendar is quickly filling up.  My Open Threads may be fewer this week (the first time since I began) as I will be attempting to do the monthly reports for October and November under the master's guidance of course.  Just know I won't be far away.  And now, I am off to church.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:59 (average 4:07). To do it, click here. How did you do? 

Short Takes

Foreign Policy — Donald Trump could not do more to aid the terrorists of the Islamic State were he to put on a suicide vest and detonate himself in the lobby of one of his apartment buildings. His demagoguery and hate-mongering in suggesting that we create a national database of Muslims — or promoting the sick fantasy that on 9/11 crowds of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the destruction of the Twin Towers — is precisely the kind of reaction on which the extremists were counting to compound the impact of their depravity. It stokes the fears of Americans and alienates Islamic audiences worldwide. And having the leading candidate of one of America’s two principal political parties promoting such ideas suggests that they are not his alone but representative of the view of a great cross-section of the American people.

God help us if they do. Trump’s words are the most vile and ignorant sort of pandering. They test the bounds of free speech because they are, in fact, a kind of hate speech designed to turn one portion of the populace against another. They are also profoundly un-American, ignoring the values of openness and tolerance that are fundamental foundations of our national greatness.

Nonetheless, Trump’s actions are even more unsettling because they are symptomatic of a broader, deeper, and much more profound problem. Terrorism has, since 9/11, mushroomed into a greater global threat than it has ever been before — and it has been a problem in one form or another since the dawn of history. But as bad as terrorism is, our reactions to it have triggered a kind of worsening risk spiral that has made the world a much more dangerous place. Not only are we playing into the terrorists’ hands, and thus giving them needed momentum, the countries of the world are reacting in such an uncoordinated and even conflicting fashion that new geopolitical fissures are emerging that are far more worrisome than any strike or campaign extremists could orchestrate.

Click through for the rest of this longer piece.  I think the author is correct in that the world needs to come together in unity of purpose and leadership.  As the expression goes, "too many chefs and not enough cooks" are spoiling the broth.  Of course, this is easier said than done.  National leaders in general tend to be myopic and unilateral.

CBC — If you're going to sponsor one family of Syrian refugees, why not sponsor 50? That's the logic behind Jim Estill's decision. The Guelph, Ont. businessman, and CEO of appliance company Danby, plans to help bring 50 families to the Guelph area and he's personally footing the bill of over $1 million. 

Jim Estill, CEO of Danby appliance company, is sponsoring 50 families of Syrian refugees, and is footing the $1 million-plus price tag personally.

Q and A with Jim Estill

​Why are you going to do this?

In short, it's the right thing to do. You see what's going on, it's a crisis and we're Canadian. We should do the right thing.

Click through for the rest of the Q and A.  Here is a new Syrian refugee story from Guelph, Ontario.  Some may be tired of reading these stories, but they are likely people embarrassed by the generosity of others.

Raw Story — On a day when the skies were ashen from the smoke of distant wildfires, Chase Hurley kept his eyes trained on the slower-moving disaster at ground level: collapsing levees, buckling irrigation canals, water rising up over bridges and sloshing over roads.

This is the hidden disaster of California’s drought. So much water has been pumped out of the ground that vast areas of the Central Valley are sinking, destroying millions of dollars in infrastructure in the gradual collapse.

Four years of drought – and the last two years of record-smashing heat – have put water in extremely short supply.

Such climate-charged scenarios form the backdrop to the United Nations negotiations starting in Paris on 30 November, which are seeking to agree on collective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

And still there are those that continue to deny that global warming and human caused climate change exist.  As water from aquifers is used up, other areas will also show the effects of climate change.

My Universe Reminiscent of this past week's full moon.


Oct 142015

Today has been a long day.  I was tired so slept in longer than normal.  I had physiotherapy for 2 hours and then I had to drive through rush hour traffic to get to a meeting of the Family Council of the care centre where my mother resides.  Since I was chairing the meeting, I could not duck out in favour of sleep.  I didn't get home until almost 10 pm and had to have some supper and feed the babes.  Today's 'My Universe' is so me!  As a result, this is today's only article.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:58 (average 4:50). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

Huffington Post — There's no way a candidate can beat Stephen Harper in his own riding — or can he?

NDP candidate Matt Masters Burgener poses that question in what's already being called the "smartest ad" of this election campaign.

As some may know, Canada is in the midst of a federal election.  Election Day is Monday 19/10/2015, and 4 days of early voting ended last night. There were more than 3.6 million early voters, of which I was one.  That is a 71% increase over early voting in the 2011 election.  For many Canadians, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has to go to the political unemployment line along with his "Harlots" (caucus), which may account for the high voter turnout in the advanced polls.  The video above is one of the ads that his constituency New Democratic Party (NDP) rival has produced.  Watch the video very carefully, all the way through.  It is very clever.  A link to another ad is in the Huffington Post article.

Huffington Post — Despite global wealth decreasing by $12.4 trillion over the past year, mainly due to currency fluctuations, the global distribution of wealth has become even more unequal.

Today the top one per cent "account for half of all assets in the world," according to Credit Suisse's 2015 Global Wealth Report.

global wealth report 2015

Check out the rest of the data at Huffington Post.  The rich get richer, and the poor . . . well they get poorer and seem to sink into insignificance as far as the wealthy are concerned.  There will be a revolution . . . 

Think Progress — From the heavily-edited videos that made Planned Parenthood staff look like insensitive fetal tissue profiteers to presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s erroneous ad campaign, the past months have unveiled the general misinformation and coercion behind many anti-abortion groups. Now, one state has taken the leap to combat these types of harmful anti-abortion propaganda at the source: inside anti-abortion organizations disguised as health clinics. But not without a fight.            

On Friday, California became the first state to pass a law regulating the nearly 170 anti-abortion clinics in the state. Barely 48 hours later, two clinics had already sued California Attorney General Kamala Harris, deeming the new law unconstitutional.

California leads the way in providing protections to women from the predatory practices of the Crisis Pregnancy Centres.  It seems these centres feel it is their first amendment right to free speech that is being denied.  They think they should have the right to lie, misinform and deceive women.  California, thanks for doing right!  If this one small step is bugging the right, look out when it comes to bigger issues.  Read the rest of the article at Think Progress.

Alternet — Giant Wall Street banks continue to threaten the wellbeing of millions of Americans, but what to do?

Bernie Sanders says break them up and resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act that once separated investment from commercial banking.

Hillary Clinton says charge them a bit more and oversee them more carefully.

Most Republicans say don’t worry.

In my opinion, Bernie is right . . . Glass-Steagall must be reintroduced for the protection of consumers.  The big banks are addicted to making big money by risking large sums.  But did consumers sign on to have their savings used in such away?  Did those consumers who are highly risk adverse have any say?  Under Hillary's plan, yes the banks would pay higher fees, but those fees would be a business expense and therefore deductible from income before taxes.  And the risky behaviour is still present.  Have a look at the entire article at Alternet.

My Universe — h/t Christeen A (Care2) — This is so me today! . . . or perhaps Exhaustipated!

Sep 242015

Thank you Lona for the supply of cat naps that arrived yesterday, although I not sure that Canada Post quite knew what to do with them.  I indulged myself late this afternoon and it was refreshing after spending 2 hours at physiotherapy.  My therapist was happy with my progress such that we are going to switch from 3 days per week down to two.  Oh heavenly days!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:51 (average 4:38).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?  For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

Upworthy — In April 2013, Diana Kim spotted her father for the first time in decades.

He was living on the street, disheveled and unkempt, and didn't have a clue who she was. 

Kim grew up in Hawaii, which is trying to curb unrelenting increases in homelessness — including a 24% increase in chronic homelessness just last year. Kim's turbulent family life left her battling what she considers "transitional homelessness" as a teen. Kim, who chose not to talk about her relationship with her mother, had slept in parks, lived out of a car, and relied on the kindness of friends to put a roof over her head some nights.

In large part because of her personal experiences, Kim began using photography to bring more visibility to homelessness back in 2003. "When you grow up at an early age and you experience struggle, that shapes the way you see the world."

Read the rest of this story of transformation.

Huffington Post — Six-time NBA champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sat down with HuffPost Live on Monday and blasted Ben Carson's anti-Muslim comments, in which the 2016 GOP candidate questioned both Islamic values and the ability of Muslims to lead the United States in an interview with "Meet The Press."

Abdul-Jabbar, who converted to Islam when he was 24, explained why we shouldn't condemn the entire religion for the actions of  a few:

Watch a short video and read the rest of the short article.  It seems that almost daily, we see people vilified for something they have not done.  I hear the rhetoric "Muslims are terrorists" and other such claims from uneducated or bigoted minds.  It is time to truly think about this and change our ways to that of inclusion, not exclusion.

Mother Jones — Even as the Federal Election Commission remains paralyzed when it comes to addressing the rising tide of dark money flowing into elections, California regulators took another step last week to crack down on secretive money in state elections. And for that, we have the Koch brothers to thank.

Politically active nonprofits have become a preferred way for deep-pocketed donors to influence elections without revealing their identities. As nonprofits, these groups are under no obligation to disclose where their money comes from. But as the amount of dark money entering elections has soared, federal regulators have largely taken a pass on adding new disclosure requirements. California regulators, on the other hand, have gone straight at the issue, and in the wake of a 2012 scandal involving several groups from the network of political organizations run by the Koch brothers, they have aggressively fought to keep dark money groups out of state elections.

On Thursday, state regulators added another layer of security, closing a loophole that might have allowed out-of-state groups and donors to secretly buy influence in California elections. If there was any wiggle room for dark money groups to operate in California, it's likely gone now.

Read the rest of this important article.  Now, if only the same could be done in every state and federally, perhaps Lincoln's statement — "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." — could come true.   Add to that the defeat of Citizens United and the US might have a chance of reclaiming representative democracy.

My Universe — 

Horse WiseWords01