Aug 262016
 
nwed

Actually, I'll mention two days you probably didn't know about – with a tip of the hat to Lona the Napster.

First – August 26 was designated by Congress as Women's Equality Day by Congress in 1971 at the behest of Bella Abzug (remember her?)  The date was chosen because it was the day in 1920 that Congress certified the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote (and incidentally to hold public office).

Second – August 26 is also National Dog Day.  National Dog Day was founded in 2004 by Animal Advocate Colleen Paige, who chose August 26 because it was the date that her family adopted her first dog "Sheltie" when she was ten.  Colleen is also the founder of National Puppy Day, National Mutt Day, National Cat Day, and other national days to bring attention to, and encourage adoption of, animals.  I hadn't planned to include this, but when I learned that more Americans are aware of National Dog Day than are aware of Women's Equality Day,  I thought I had better mention it, before someone else did, and get it out of the way.

Back to Women's Equality Day, which is what the column is really about, it was, as I said, created in 1971, by a joint resolution of Congress:

Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971
Designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex; and

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the certification of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and

WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.

The responsibility for keeping it going seems to have (appropriately) fallen to/been adopted by the National Women's History Project, a non-profit educational organization, which, among other achievements, got March designated as National Women's History month.  They produce and provide resources for educators, speakers for groups, guides for historic site tours, and – well, you name it.  They offer an on-line trifold brochure in color about the Day and detailed instructions on how to print it.

Mrs. Abzug spearheaded the Day as a celebration of women getting the right to vote, but it has become more general in focus, and, while you may notice the brochure has a voting quiz, they also pick a different theme each year to highlight, connected to women's history in general rather than just voting.  This year the theme is "Working To Form A More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Servide and Government."  A very appropriate theme for 2016.  Last year, Time magazine developed and published the graphic on the right for National Women's Day, which is, alas, still pretty accurate.

But I also want to mention two other organizations who work every day to make it easier for women to vote.

We probably know each major party has a GOTV effort in place this very important year.  But the American Association of University Women, along with their other projects, is providing non-partisan GOTV skill training free through webinars, specifically aimed at registering women in the milliennial generation, through their "It's My Vote: I Will Be Heard" initiative.  This program also includes providing voter guides, and goes beyond that to training participants how to create their own voter guides if none are available which are specific to their area.  Yes, they have "University" in their name, but they are far from an elitist group.  They are envisioning holding these drives on campuses, but that's because they are timing this set of webinars with back-to-school.  I can't imagine them being upset if someone wanted to hold a drive in, say, a mall, nor if someone signed up a male or two while registering women.

Then of course, probably the grandmamma of all organizations which pair women and votes – it was founded, by Carrie Chapman Catt, six months before the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified – is the League of Women Voters.

The League began as a "mighty political experiment" designed to help 20 million women carry out their new responsibilities as voters. It encouraged them to use their new power to participate in shaping public policy. From the beginning, the League has been an activist, grassroots organization whose leaders believed that citizens should play a critical role in advocacy. It was then, and is now, a nonpartisan organization. League founders believed that maintaining a nonpartisan stance would protect the fledgling organization from becoming mired in the party politics of the day. However, League members were encouraged to be political themselves, by educating citizens about, and lobbying for, government and social reform legislation.

To this day the League concentrates on educating voters on issues rather than on candidates.  It is committed to being grassroots and non-partisan.  And it does register voters.  Last spring, League volunteers registered nearly 15,000 high school and community college students throough 350 registration drives.  They are looking to repeat or expand on this on National Voter Registration Day, which will be Tuesday, September 27.

However, the league does not stop at educating and registering.  It does get involved in fighting on issues.  Money in politics and defending the environment are the biggest, but there are some others as well.  You might be surprised how many others.  Click thrugh to the site and scroll down for a look.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4007182

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Win a Progressive Senate

 Posted by at 1:22 pm  Politics
Aug 072016
 

The left is split between a majority that makes defeating Trump their priority, and a small, but vocal minority that makes defeating Clinton their priority, in the mistaken belief that a third party candidate can win.  Although I am a pragmatist, rather than an idealist, I agree with my more idealistic friends on almost every issue.  Here’s an excerpt from an editorial that points out an area where we can work together.

0807LizJeff

…The frightening, violent bigotry Trump has conjured could swallow a lot of people before it consumes itself. Even if he loses, angry Trumpistas would still roam freely, with access to automatic weapons and heavy machinery.

I’m more excited about protesting President Clinton La Segunda than being governed by her. Under George W. Bush, were there any national progressive policy victories? The mass movements of the Bush years sought to stop bad things like the Iraq War and the Sensenbrenner immigration bill. Mass movements of the Barack Obama years — Occupy, Black Lives Matter, climate change, dreamers — had the luxury to advocate systemic change and did indeed win some policy. That’s not lesser, it’s not evil at all.

First-term Obama and Clinton El Primero enthusiastically marginalized progressives. They wanted to be pushed to the right but not the left. Progressives fell for it and demobilized. Let’s not do that this time.

I’m not loyal to Democrats, but I’d be a lot more impressed by the Green Party if they had anything at all to show for the last 16 years — the last time we had the exact same conversation.

Berners who want to keep pushing Bernie Sanders’ agenda can focus on down-ticket races, especially the Senate. The Senate has the sole power to confirm appointments and approve treaties. This would be enough to, for example, stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership, ratify a major climate change treaty, showcase progressive policies in cabinet confirmation hearings and confirm judges. Sanders Democrats and progressive independents could successfully elect and hold senators to these goals, if we got our act together, which we probably won’t.

The Democrats need to net at least four extra seats to flip the Senate, which is more attainable than 30 seats to win Congress. Republicans have 24 Senate seats up, and Democrats only 10. States with competitive Senate races are also swing states for the presidential races, so using Trump to drag Republican senators down is a twofer.

The closest Senate races are in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The only current Democratic seat that looks vulnerable is the race to replace the retiring boringest [sic] Senator from Nevada: Harry Reid. On the upside, there’s the chance to topple John McCain and Marco Rubio, which would be so fun. Five of the Democratic candidates invited Bernie to campaign with them because they, for example, share his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership… [emphasis added]

From <San Francisco Chronicle>

Every election, I find myself repeating myself.  We need to be building the movement the day after the election, but it seems that every year, most progressives return to working on favorite issues and expend no effort on movement building.  Can you imagine where we might be, if Bernie had started to organize in May of 2013 instead of May of 2015? 

For now, the next President will be Clinton or Trump.  That won’t change.  But at least we can agree to elect as  many down ballot progressives as we can, and when we are better organized, the White House will not be out of reach.

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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 9:24 am  Politics
Jul 302016
 
furies

I have two items today which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them. 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 was afraid I wouldn't have a primary link for this section, because I worked from an email.  But, bless them, Roots Action has links to many months of emails on their site, so I do.  The subject line of this email was "Irony-free zone: Congress 'appreciates' whistleblowers."

It seems the U. S. Senate has approved a resolution to designate July 30, 2016, as "Whistleblower Appreciation Day."  July 30 – hey, wait!  That's today!  Well, come on, let's appreciate us some whistleblowers!

Unfortunately, Jeffrey Sterling is not available; he is still in a Federal Prison.  But Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou are out now, so let's appreciate them.  Did you know John was the only CIA agent to go to prison over the CIA's torture program?  Fact.  Because he didn't take part in it.  He blew the whistle on it.  Two years in prison.  I don't know as much about Tom's story, except that his revelations were about mass surveillance; I just know his personal finances also were wrecked through vindictive prosecutions.  Now here are some quotes from John and some from Tom:

Senator Chuck Grassley said … "These brave citizens should not be penalized, they should be praised."  Somebody should tell the Justice Department.  Legitimate whistleblowers are charged under the Espionage Act, a draconian law meant to punish traitors and spies, not truth tellers…. The goal is not just to punish. It’s to ruin, professionally, personally, and financially.  Still we went into this with our eyes open. It might sound crazy, but we would blow the whistle again. We don't need the Senate's "appreciation." What we need is for the Justice Department to respect the laws already on the books, to support whistleblowers exposing waste, fraud, abuse, and illegality.  Over to you, Tom.

Congress has yet to invite John or myself in front of Congress to testify before any committee regarding our whistleblowing on torture and mass surveillance, respectively. We both came forward at great risk and to this day are the only two people* who have paid a very high price for exposing government wrongdoing and criminal conduct regarding these two state-sponsored programs….  We upheld our oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic (including our own government), faithfully serving our country in the line of duty at the CIA and the NSA — even when our agencies didn’t and wouldn’t.

(*He must have said this before Jeffrey went to prison, because they both took part in a demonstration with Jeffrey's wife Holly to ask for Jeffrey's pardon.)

Here's a link to the group which pushes for this appreciation day – on a year-by-year basis, knowing, I am sure, what an irony it is, but hoping to eventually come to a time and place where it can mean something.  Maybe you ladies can put on your Eumenides hats and try to attain some justice for John, Tom, Jeffrey, and all the others.

But here is a situation where you can simply go after some killers.  You may (or may not) have been reading about deaths in hospitals resulting from the use of tainted medical scopes (specifically endoscopes).  Well.  Those scopes all came from a device manufacturer called Olympus Corp., based in Japan.

In 2012, two dozen infections linked to the use of these scopes were reported in hospitals in France and The Netherlands.  As early as June 2012, an investigator hired by a Netherlands hospital and Olympus concluded that the scope's design could allow blood and tissue to become trapped in it and spread bacteria across patients.  The recommendation was to conduct a world wide investigation and if a similar problem turned up to recall all the scopes.  Seven months later, when the company alerted its European customers to potential problems, they knew about at least three outbreaks, affecting an estimated 46 patients.  The third one was in Pittsburgh, PA.  But the company issued no alerts in the United States.

Since the internet never forgets, we know that this email exchange occurred:

Should [we] also be communicating to our users the information that [Olympus Europe] is communicating to their European users?” Laura Storms, vice president of regulatory and clinical affairs in Center Valley, Pa., asked in an email to Tokyo headquarters on Jan. 31, 2013.

No, that’s not necessary, said Susumu Nishina, the company’s chief manager for market quality administration in Tokyo in a Feb. 6, 2013, reply.

It is “not need[ed] to communicate to all the users actively,” Nishina wrote, because a company assessment of the risk to patients found it to be “acceptable.”  However, he added that Storms should respond to questions from a customer.

I'm not sure what "risk is acceptable" to Nishina.  Patients and familes in the US would appear not to find the risk acceptable, judging from the crop of lawsuits which have spring up.  As well as the Federal prosecutors who are investigating.  Over the three years – 2013 to 2016 – there have been outbreaks of infection in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Denver, just to name a few.  35 people have died from these infections.  Others have remained hospitlized for up to a year trying to get over them. 

The Times has a link to all the emails.  Sorry, I haven't read them all.  Just from what is in the article, it appears to me that Storms tried (maybe not for the right reasons, but she tried), but that Nishina is a murderer.  Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone, you are good at sorting these things out, and I am sure you will manage.  Way back in the day, I mentioned Fudō Myōō, who is described as an ancient Japanese sword-brandishing angry wisdom king.  Perhaps he would be upset with these actions too.  There are also creatures, such as tengu (wise bird-like demons – you may have heard of them in D&D or Guild Wars, but they are originally from very, very, very old Japan), he could send as reinforcements.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross-posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4001959

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Jun 172016
 

It’s almost time for me to leave for my blood test.  There probably won’t be time to post this before I return this afternoon.

I’m back.  I’m done.  I’m so tired I hear Lona calling from my pillow,.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:02 (average 5:11).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Media Matters: Fox’s Geraldo Rivera Shames Orlando Victims For Not Fighting Back

Barf Bag Alert!!

 

Isn’t it just like the Republican Reichsministry of Propaganda, Faux Noise, to blame the victims?

From Daily Kos: Though the outcomes of the legislative votes are far from sure, the filibuster begun by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy has succeeded in bringing Republicans to the table for a pair of votes.

Senate Democrats ended a nearly 15-hour filibuster early Thursday after Republican Party leaders reportedly agreed to allow votes on two proposed gun control measures.

The votes will supposedly include a proposal to provide universal background checks, and another to prevent those on the no-fly list from obtaining weapons. The second bill apparently addresses the no-fly list, not the much larger terrorist watch list. These are both positions that have wide, bipartisan support in the public, but which Republicans have either blocked from a vote or voted down in the past.

As wonderful as this sounds, Senate Republicans caved in, while secure in the knowledge that House Republicans will never allow either bill to come to the floor.

From NY Times: A member of Parliament was gunned down outside a library in northern England as she was wrapping up a meeting with constituents on Thursday afternoon, a rare act of gun violence in a nation that strictly regulates firearms.

The lawmaker, Jo Cox, 41, who was considered a rising star in the opposition Labour Party and a passionate advocate for victims of the civil war in Syria, was shot in Birstall, a town about six miles southwest of the city of Leeds. A 77-year-old man was slightly injured in the attack.

A 52-year-old man was arrested in Ms. Cox’s killing, and the police said they were not looking for any other suspects. No motive has been established, officials said.

The suspect was identified in the British news media as Thomas Mair.

On Thursday night, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported on its website that Mr. Mair was a “dedicated supporter” of the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi organization in the United States. The center, which tracks hate groups, said Mr. Mair bought a manual from the alliance in 1999 that included instructions on how to build a pistol. It based its reporting on invoices it said it had obtained, copies of which were published on its website…

Please offer Prayers and condolences to the family and loved ones of Jo Cox, who may well be the first UK victim of terrorism by a Republican-supporting fascist.

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0617Cartoon

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May 022016
 

Yesterday and today have been unseasonably warm and quite humid with highs in the 80°s.  That has interfered with my sleep, as I still have not gotten used to the loud A/C next to my head.  In addition to that,. I missed a nap yesterday, collecting the data for today’s Monthly Report.  After doing my research this morning, I felt so tired that I uncorked a Lona-nap, so I’m running late today.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:38 (average 4:39).  To do it click here,  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From NY TimesIt is an old congressional ritual: loading up vital spending bills that are meant to keep the government running with dangerous amendments aimed at satisfying ideological causes and benefiting special interests.

The Republicans have become adept at this practice in recent years, and this year is no different. Legislative riders attached to appropriations bills would undermine the Iran nuclear deal, weaken highway safety and reduce the Food and Drug Administration’s authority over tobacco products.

These measures would be unlikely to succeed as stand-alone bills, either because they could not get enough votes on their own or because President Obama would veto them. So better to sneak them in without even holding hearings to make a case on their behalf.

Thankfully, Democratic lawmakers and public interest groups are calling attention to these stealth attacks. In the Senate, Democrats managed on Wednesday to block a vote on a water and energy spending bill after Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, tried to attach a provision that would have dealt a severe blow to the Iran nuclear deal. Mr. Cotton’s measure would have blocked the administration from purchasing heavy water used in Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran has to get rid of the water to comply with the deal. By denying Iran an American market, Mr. Cotton and other Republicans hoped to undermine the deal, which they hate.

Click through for more. One big irony here is that by trying to block Iran’s sale of heavy water to the US, Republicans are actually helping to enable the development of an Iranian nuke.

From Think Progress: Teachers across Detroit called in sick to work on Monday — a “sick-out” protest that ultimately shut down all but three public schools in the city because there weren’t enough teachers in class.

The coordinated protest, which was organized by the Detroit Federation of Teachers, came soon after the school district’s emergency manager, Judge Steven Rhodes, announced that there won’t be enough money to pay teachers after June 30.

“Detroit teachers deserve to be paid fairly for their work like every other working person… But Detroit Public Schools has just informed us that it cannot guarantee to pay these dedicated men and women for their work. This isn’t right. It isn’t fair,” the president of the teachers union, Ivy Bailey, told the Detroit News.

In January, in an effort to bring attention to the condition of Detroit schools, teachers used the same “sick-out” tactic to shut down many schools. They posted photos to social media of inedible food, dead rodents, and cracks in the floors, among other problems. After the sick-outs, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan (D) called for inspections of all of the schools and found evidence of many of the same problems teachers cited.

Detroit Public Schools is in major financial distress, and lawmakers and educators have been concerned the school system will go bankrupt. After being sued by the teachers union and dealing with weeks of sick-outs, DPS filed a lawsuit against the state last month, claiming that the state violated the civil rights of students through its emergency manager law.

How many more examples do we need before American voters know that the mix of greed and incompetence Republicans bring to public office invariably spells tragic deprivation for those they govern.

From Liberals Unite: Wayne Simmons, a frequent Fox News “CIA expert,” pleaded guilty on Friday after being indicted last October by a federal grand jury on charges lied about his service with the CIA.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia issued a press release announcing the plea:

Simmons, 62, of Annapolis, Maryland, a former Fox News commentator who has falsely claimed he spent 27 years working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), pleaded guilty today to major fraud against the government, wire fraud, and a firearms offense.

“Wayne Simmons is a convicted felon with no military or intelligence experience,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Simmons admitted he attempted to con his way into a position where he would have been called on to give real intelligence advice in a war zone.  His fraud cost the government money, could have put American lives at risk, and was an insult to the real men and women of the intelligence community who provide tireless service to this country.  This case is a prime example of this office’s ongoing commitment to vigorously prosecute government fraud and threats to national security.”

“Mr. Simmons lied about his criminal history and CIA employment in order to fraudulently obtain government contracts, and separately, defrauded a victim through a phony real estate investment deal,” said Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  “With these criminal actions, Mr. Simmons abused the trust of others, both in and outside of government, for his own personal financial gain.  I commend the work of the talented FBI personnel and prosecutors who vigorously pursued this case and brought about today’s guilty plea.”

Nevertheless Simmons still met the standards needed for employment by the Republican Reichsministry of Propaganda, Faux Noise, and for them to present him to their sheeple as an expert.

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Apr 012016
 

I talked to Lu last night.  She says she will be here today by Noon.  Grrr!  I’m swamped.  I spent the morning collecting the data for tomorrow’s Monthly Report.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:55 (average 4:30).  To do it click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: They're in their own little world over in the House Freedom Caucus. They've pretty effectively killed any actual budget coming out of the Congress this year, and now are arguing to kill the lame duck session, even though they haven't worked out all the details of how. If they put their plan into effect, they might just get their government shutdown fight. Before the election.

When the House returns from a two-week recess on April 12, a small group of members are gearing up to stop GOP leadership in both chambers, if they have their way, from holding a legislative session after the November election.

It's not that the members are lazy, though doing away with the postelection session would mean the House would be in session just 17 days for the rest of the year after July 15—and zero past Sept. 30. […]

This surprises me. Given the current Republican meltdown, I think the Republican Party will be in a much stronger position in the lame duck session than they will, after the new Congress takes office. I would think they would want to do as much damage to America as possible during the lame duck session.

From NY Times: San Francisco police officers sent dozens of racist and homophobic text messages in the past several months, even as another group of officers was being investigated by prosecutors for having traded similar messages, the city’s district attorney said Thursday.

The disclosure of the new round of text messages, which includes derogatory references to blacks, Asians, lesbians, gays and transgender people, comes as the Police Department is under federal investigation after complaints that some officers routinely behave in a racially biased manner.

Along with dozens of other police departments around the nation, the San Francisco police — who work in one of the nation’s most culturally diverse cities — have come under scrutiny during the past year.

Officers have been accused of using unnecessary deadly force and brutality, and of focusing enforcement efforts on black neighborhoods while ignoring similar infractions elsewhere. Police critics, including many among the city’s dwindling black population, have held protests and called for the resignation of the police chief, Gregory P. Suhr.

On Thursday, George Gascón, the city’s district attorney, said that the text messages were a worrying sign that the department had a problem with racism and homophobia that was more ingrained than investigators had anticipated.

Every officer who sent of forwarded one or more of these text messages must be terminated in such as a way as to end their law enforcement careers. The only way to get rid of racism and bigotry in our nation’s police departments is to get rid of the racists and bigots.

From Media Matters: Now they tell us the Republican Party is to blame? That the Obama years haven't been gummed up by Both Sides Are To Blame obstruction?

The truth is, anyone with clear vision recognized a long time ago that the GOP has transformed itself since 2009 into an increasingly radical political party, one built on complete and total obstruction. It's a party designed to make governing difficult, if not impossible, and one that plotted seven years ago to shred decades of Beltway protocol and oppose every inch of Obama's two terms. ("If he was for it, we had to be against it," former Republican Ohio Sen. George Voinovich once explained.)

And for some of us, it didn't take Donald Trump's careening campaign to confirm the destructive state of the GOP. But if it's the Trump circus that finally opens some pundits' eyes, so be it.

Recently, Dan Balz, the senior political writer for the Washington Post, seemed to do just that while surveying the unfolding GOP wreckage as the party splinters over Trump's rise. Balz specifically noted that four years ago political scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein examined the breakdown in American politics and zeroed in their blame squarely on Republicans.

"They were ahead of others in describing the underlying causes of polarization as asymmetrical, with the Republican Party — in particular its most hard-line faction — as deserving of far more of the blame for the breakdown in governing," Balz acknowledged.

If I had a nickel for every time I've said that since 2008, I could retire to my own string of mansions. . I wish the Washington Post would get another reporter like that. They really need a pair of Balz.

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Apr 012016
 

I don't know about where you live, but here in Metro Vancouver, BC it was sunny with nary a cloud in the sky and temperatures around 22 C (72 F) today as well as yesterday.  Many of the fruit blossoms are finished, but there are still many magnolia trees (Magnolia liliiflora) in full regalia but they too will be finished before long.Yesterday I was teaching English and French, and tomorrow I will be working with my first student.  My two adult students are at such different places in the command of the language.  My young French student gets very excited when she knows I am coming over and it is cute to behold.  Today is the last class in my Pastoral Care programme and we will be commissioned on 24/04/2016.  Next Thursday I start another study group called Immersion.  It is geared to we flaming liberal Christians and will be taught by our Pastor Dave along with the woman who was leading the Pastoral Care programme.  So lots going on!  So who said retirement was for relaxing?  Retirement is for doing what you enjoy but seldom had the time to do!

Short Takes

Huffington Post — On Oct. 21, Jessica Grubb flipped open her laptop and watched a live stream of her father telling President Barack Obama about her addiction to heroin.

Obama was in Charleston, West Virginia, Jessica’s hometown, to discuss the opioid epidemic. When the local newspaper solicited questions for the president from its readers, Grubb’s parents asked their daughter if they could tell her story.

“Absolutely,” Grubb said, hoping it might help somebody else in need.

If she’d been in Charleston, Grubb would have tried to attend the president’s visit herself. But she was in Michigan, where she’d moved for a residential drug rehab program.  …

GrubbJessica Grubb  1986 – 03 March 2016

Jessica Grubb “had a twofold reaction” to her story being shared with Obama, David Grubb recalled. “The one part was, ‘Wow, the president’s talking about me.’ The second reaction was, ‘Wow, the president’s talking about me. It was bittersweet.”

Hearing about a life lost so young; about parents fighting so hard for their daughter, and ultimately all daughters and sons, yet losing the battle . . . it leaves me hollow.  David Grubb is correct . . . something has to be done.  He lists some things that are being done, but more is needed.  Drug addiction is a health issue that needs to be addressed everywhere.  In Squatch’s Open Thread 29/12/2015, I presented an article about how Portugal had decriminalised drugs and began treating drug addiction as a healthcare issue rather than a punitive issue.  I then followed it up with a piece in Squatch’s Open Thread 30/12/2015.

From the internet — 

Need anything more be said?  I have never enjoyed his genre of writing, but on these  words I agree.

Daily Kos — When I watched the Chris Matthews interview with Trump on MSNBC tonight, I’d already seen the video exchange where Trump said that women who had gotten an illegal abortion should be punished.  But when I watched the entire discussion, Trump made an even more shocking, and I think, more newsworthy statement that no one even bothered to mention. 

The blogger has a point.  Here is the Chris Matthews interview with Drumpf.

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

Sometime later, Drumpf tried to clarify his position but only succeeded in making himself a pathetic figure in my opinion.  From The Guardian:

“If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb. My position has not changed – like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions,” the statement said.

Raw Story — Senator Orrin Hatch took to the New York Times op-ed page to try to make the case for the Senate refusing to take up President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

It didn’t go well.  …

If Hatch and his fellow Republicans want to vote against Judge Garland, they have every right to do so. But they should stop being cowards. They should make a substantive argument against him. vote against him, and accept the political consequences of that vote. They should stop pretending that this reckless path they have chosen is anything but a desperate attempt to hold onto a Supreme Court majority.

Amen!

My Universe — h/t Carol B, Ted W at Care2

Which one of these is not like the others?

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Dec 232015
 

The eyes are good today and no longer subject to the drops used in the eye exam, so I am good for another year!  It has rained most of the day, and it is particularly hard right now . . . I can hear it on the roof.  I sure hope Santa has swim trunks because he is likely to need them!  My post may be very brief tomorrow as I have Christmas dinner with friends and I am incharge of the roast yams in honey.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:02 (average 5:25). To do it, click here. How did you do?

Short Takes

Huffington Post — When government officials came to collect children from Jean Marie River for residential school, residents of the remote village in the Northwest Territories said they'd keep their kids at home, thanks very much. 

In what may have been unique among Canadian First Nations, they decided to build their own school. And now, as Canadians grapple with the legacy of residential schools, Jean Marie River is trying to commemorate the fact it doesn't have to.  

Shingle Point Residential School & Home For Boys, Mackenzie District, N.W.T. in 1930

The Alert Bay Mission School in British Columbia in 1885

The school only taught the first six grades, but that was enough to ground kids before they went to Fort Simpson.

"It gave us a good, solid base as compared to people that went to residential schools that didn't have a nurturing mother, that didn't have a model of how to become a caring mother," Gladys Norwegian said.

"I think it helped me to become comfortable with who I am. I didn't really need to explain to anybody what being an aboriginal person means. I was comfortable in my skin."

For the people of Jean Marie River, saying no to the residential school system made for a stronger community, confident and proud.  I will make no apologies for strongly disliking former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative harlots.  Only with a new government lead by Justin Trudeau has there been a commitment to Canadian Aboriginal peoples, a commitment to work in partnership and respect.  Here is Trudeau's commitment, a renewal of the relationship between the government and Aboriginal peoples.  

Politico — But there is a far bigger problem with Cruz: Donald Trump is not the most self-absorbed Republican running for president—Cruz is. Whether you like Trump or not (and I don’t), at least Trump makes no effort to hide his narcissism. In that sense, Trump is oddly genuine.

Cruz, on the other hand, takes great pains to be whatever he thinks you want him to be. And the troubling thing is he’s really good at it.

I sure am glad that this Republican is all yours!  And if this conservative's view is not completely convincing of Cruz's narcissism, have a look at a Cruz campaign rally that turned into a prayer revival.

Global News — An Idaho lunch lady has been fired after she gave a hungry student a free meal.

Dalene Bowden, a former server at Irving Middle School in Pocatello, Idaho, was terminated from her position on Dec. 15 for “theft” when she gave a 12-year-old student free lunch because the young girl couldn’t afford the meal.

“I handed her the food and said ‘here we’ll take care of it in a minute,’” told Bowden to KPVI News.

How Republican of the school district and the supervisor.

Politico — As Iran prepares to announce it has dismantled its nuclear program and thus should have its sanctions lifted on what will be known as “Implementation Day,” probably in January, sniping is growing on all sides. Opponents of the nuclear deal in Congress are urging President Barack Obama not to go easy on Iran for its recent ballistic missile tests and other non-nuclear activities just to try to save the agreement. Iranian officials, meanwhile, are pointing to recent changes in U.S. visa laws as a potential violation of the deal, saying the new rules will damage Iran's economy by penalizing legitimate business travelers and innocent Iranian dual nationals.

If Implementation Day comes and goes without a problem, it will bolster Obama's theory that diplomacy is worth trying even with a longstanding U.S. nemesis. If it is delayed significantly or scuttled completely, it will damage a major piece of the president's foreign policy legacy.  

As part of the nuclear deal, the U.S. committed to refrain from policies that are “specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.” But Iranian officials view the new visa laws as damaging to their economy because they could scare off investors. Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif has called the new restrictions "absurd." Some European officials also have warned that the changes could violate the nuclear deal.  

But Iranian leaders haven't been mollified. Some suggested Monday that lobbying by Israel — a staunch foe of Iran and the nuclear deal — prompted the new visa rules. Many Iranians aren't buying that their country isn't being singled out, asking why Congress targeted Iran but not Saudi Arabia or Pakistan in a law ostensibly aimed at stopping terrorism.

It would seem that the Republican dominated Congress is just itching to go to war with Iran.  Personally, I think Iran has a point about the US targetting Iran.  The halls of power are too often filled with political intrigue to which we are never made privy.

My Universe

cat-5“I like to refer to it as aging gracefully, but whatever.”

cat-7

"Did you just fart?"

Via Giphy

“You’re getting sleepy. Very sleepy….”

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A Tale of Two Veterans

 Posted by at 8:16 am  Politics
Nov 212015
 
Vets

This is a story of two very different veterans, both of whom have something to contribute to the discussion about who gets in, and who stays in, the US.  Both served in combat. Both served in Iraq. One is a USMC Reservist who has twice in eight years of service been called to active duty for "surges." The other is a 21-year career Army soldier.

Let's start with the latter – Republican Representative Steve Russell of Oklahoma's Fifth Congressional District.  Our friend Vivian B, according to her Care2 profile, lives in this District, and is to be congratulated for having a Representative who, though far from perfect, as we shall see, has demonstrated some ability to think rationally and even compassionately.

Last Wednesday, on the floor of the House, Rep. Russell gave a passionate floor speeech decrying xenophobia, for all the right reasons.  I cannot do better than to re-quote parts of that speech to give you the flavor of it.

"“While I have tried to focus my comments on actions that we should take to eliminate ISIS, one action we should not take is to become like them. America is a lamp that lights the horizon of civilized and free mankind,” he said on the House floor.

"“The Statue of Liberty cannot have a stiff arm. Her arm must continue to keep the torch burning brightly,” Russell continued. “If we use our passions, anger, and fear to snuff out her flame by xenophobic and knee-jerk policy, the enemy wins. We have played into their hands, period.”

He then presented quotes from Congress on a similar bill to the SAFE Act:

I want you to listen carefully to these statements by Members of Congress in response to a refugee bill–not an illegal immigration bill or permanent residents, but refugees, a refugee bill. Listen to these comments by Members of Congress about people fleeing for their lives.

Fighting immigration is ‘the best vote-getting argument . . . The politician can beat his breast and proclaim his loyalty to America.’

‘He can tell the unemployed man that he is out of work because some alien has a job.’

'Congress must ‘protect the youth of America from this foreign invasion.’

‘American children have first claim to America’s charity.’

He then revealed that all these quotes were from 1939.  "While it was true that Germany was, indeed, a threat, the refugees were not. They were 20,000 children."

With regard to American principles:

We must not become them. They win if we give up who we are, and even more so, without a fight.

We guard our way of life by vigilance. We must be watchful. We have to have each others’ back and be alert to dangers around us. We must speak up when we see something unusual. By maintaining who we are amidst the threat, amidst the hatred, amidst the trials, we win.

I particularly liked his remark – bold indeed, I think  – about "the critic sitting on the couch in his underwear eating his bag of cheese puffs … pecking out hatred and vitriol on some social media."

You can read the whole speech.  It is marred by Obama-baiting and mis-attribution of the causes of Daesh's gains.  It is even more marred by the fact that after all this, he voted with his party anyway.  But there is some good stuff.

The second veteran, Ivano Rodriguez, was brought to the United States, specifically to Virginia, from Ecuador when he was a very young child.  He is not undocumented: he has a green card.

Upon graduating from high school, he signed up with the USMCR.  He served in Iraq.  He also served in Afghanistan.  While in Afghanistan, "his platoon was deployed to a Taliban-heavy village near the Pakistan border, where three of Rodriguez’s buddies were killed, and three others seriously wounded, in a suicide bombing. Several others, including Rodriguez, were casualties of a different kind: While sound of wind and limb, they suffered serious and lasting psychological trauma of the kind that fuels the horrifying suicide rate among combat veterans."

The VA prescribes (pushes) antidepressants, dream suppressors, pain pills for PTSD symptoms.  These have side effects.  Large numbers of veterans commit suicide as a result of these side effects.  Unreliable reporting of who is and is not a veteran make it nearly impossible to determine exactly how many, but enough not to be dismissed. 

While attending the Art Institute of Washington (that's State, not DC), he learned of medical marijuana for PTSD.  Medical marijuana is of course legal there, and his use of it is by prescription (even though the VA will not cover it).  The problem is, as a green card holder, he is still considered to be under the jurisdiction of Virginia, and it's not legal there.  And, under a 1996 law (ADEPTA) which was a reaction in part to the Oklahoma City bonbing in 1995, foreigh nationals, even with green cards, can be deported for "aggravated felonies" or crimes of "moral turpitude."  And both of those terms are vague enough that they can almost be anything the feds want them to be.

Mr Rodriguez didn't join the military as a means to citizenship, as many others have, though that seems to me a little like, as Mitch D implied in his "On The Edge" comment for 11/19, undergoing a near death experience and major surgeries as a means to meeting cute babes.  But I digress.  Mr. Rodriguez joined the military because he was young and wanted adventure.  But having served myself, not even in combat, my feeling is than any non citizen who serves in the US military is automatically entitled to citizenship, and we should by God give it to him.

His applications for naturalization have, however, been repeatedly rebuffed on the grounds of "bad moral character."  Oddly, the feds have previously cited only his juvenile offense record – which was certainly not a bar to him serving in the Marines.  And the Marine Corps is fairly picky.

His most recent brush with immigration autorities was in 2014 when he was returning from a trip to visit family in Ecuador.  A Customs official flagged him for misdemeanors for possessing marijuana and "drug paraphernalia" and initiated deportation proceedings on the grounds that any narcotics offense involved "moral turpitude."  (Funny, I always thought "moral turpitude" meant a pedophile at least.)  Apparently someone in the process had some intelligence, because at his hearing the presiding judge dismissed the complaint "without prejudice."  (The article I cite says "with prejudice," but the I listened to the linked radio interview, and what I heard was "without.")

Having survived this hearing, however, does not mean he is safe.  While he remains a non-citizen, Rodriguez lives with the possibility that the government he served may seek again to banish him as punishment for using an effective but unauthorized treatment to address the lasting trauma he experiences as a result of that service. Because of the federal government’s irrational commitment to pot prohibition, Ivano Rodriguez could still be forced to choose between death and exile.

This might be a good time and place for me to mention a petition sponsored by VoteVets in support of refugees.  It too has a very personal story attached (kleenex alert).

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Nov 182015
 

I don’t know why Republicans are so in love with enforcing climate change.  Ok, actually, I do.  Republicans love the huge bundles of secret cash that they get from corporate criminals, who think nothing of destroying our earth en exchange for more dirty profit.

1118EEPAegsThe Senate voted on Tuesday to block President Obama’s tough new climate change regulations, hoping to undermine his negotiating authority before a major international climate summit meeting in Paris this month.

The Senate resolution, which passed 52 to 46, would scuttle a rule that would significantly cut heat-trapping carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. That Environmental Protection Agency rule, released in August, is the centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s efforts to address climate change. A second resolution, which also passed 52 to 46, would strike a related E.P.A. rule intended to freeze construction of future coal-fired power plants.

Three Democrats from states in which coal plays a major role in the economy, Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, broke party ranks to vote in favor of the resolutions.

But three moderate Republicans, two up for re-election next year, Senators Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, as well as Senator Susan Collins of Maine, broke from their party to vote against the resolutions and back the environmental regulations.

If the resolutions reach the president’s desk, Mr. Obama has promised a veto… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

I think the author has it right when he says Republicans want to undermine Obama’s negotiating authority.  To intentionally sabotage the ability of President Obama to conduct foreign policy is criminal sedition.

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