Apr 072016
 

The A/C came yesterday, but is still not installed.  It was warm enough inside yesterday night that I did not sleep well,  Tomorrow I have PT with Courtney.  Since no rain is forecast, I’m going the take the regular bus.  The trip takes longer, but I spend such a shorter time waiting that my total time spent will be less.  Still, I’ll be tired enough that I’ll probably have just a Personal Update.  Later:  The A/C is in and working great!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:45 (average 4:40).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Within hours of news Tuesday that PayPal had pulled the plug on a 400-job facility in Charlotte because, it said, the state’s new law "perpetuates discrimination," the Republican Party started a mad display of Yosemite-Sam style finger pointing.

First, the state’s GOP Vice-Chairman Michele Nix questioned whether PayPal was ever even worthy of North Carolina.

So after PayPal was forced to settle after violating economic sanctions on Cuba, Sudan, and Iran, and even processed payments for someone looking to buy nuclear-weapon technology on the black market, the California-based company now has a problem doing business in North Carolina?

Yeah, we didn’t want your nasty 400-job expansion anyway. Hurrumph. Now those are some serious biz-dev skills. Work it, Michele!

My, how times have changed. Just a couple weeks ago, McCrory was singing PayPal’s praises:

“North Carolina is the ideal destination for innovation-based, worldwide companies like PayPal,” said Governor McCrory. “Today’s announcement means that we can add another prominent name to the state’s growing list of technology businesses with major operations here.”

Kudos to PayPal!! May thousands of companies pull the plug on the Fascist Republican Theocratic Dictatorship of McCrorystan.!!

From YouTube and YouTube:

Rest in peace.

From NY Times: Donald L. Blankenship, whose leadership of the Massey Energy Company catapulted him from a working-class West Virginia childhood into a life as one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Appalachia, was sentenced on Wednesday to a year in prison for conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards.

The prison term, the maximum allowed by law, came in Federal District Court here six years and one day after an explosion ripped through Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine, killing 29 men. Although Mr. Blankenship was not accused of direct responsibility for the accident, the deadliest in American coal mining in about 40 years, the disaster prompted the inquiry that ultimately led to his conviction. Federal officials have said that last autumn’s guilty verdict was the first time such a high-ranking executive had been convicted of a workplace safety violation.

This is one Republican I’m happy to see in a cell, but serving less than 13 days for every miner he murdered is a major understatement. He’d do more time had he stolen a loaf of bread to feed his family.

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Mar 052016
 

Lu was here this morning.  She cut my hair, spotted me while I walked around my hallways using a walker, stopping twice to sit and rest, and she helped me shower, leaving me as a perfumed puddy tat with soft, glowing fur.  I’m feeling tired, but I have two articles today.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:18 (average 5:13).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Marco Rubio has lost Fox News.

[T]his alliance now seems to be over. According to three Fox sources, Fox chief Roger Ailes has told people he’s lost confidence in Rubio’s ability to win. "We’re finished with Rubio," Ailes recently told a Fox host. "We can’t do the Rubio thing anymore."

Which is bad news for Rubio, since his entire base of support is establishment and press Republicans who are willing to inexplicably pump up Marco Rubio. Apparently, though, Ailes has seen the writing on the wall; Rubio can’t win, and Fox News is only going to humiliate themselves pretending otherwise.

This leaves America’s Worst Network in an even bigger bind than before. The network that is used to playing kingmaker has no potential king to make—and the current front-runner, Donald Trump, is openly dismissive of the network and eager to pit his supporters against them. None of the corporate-friendly Republicans that Fox News would usually be hitching their wagon to, from Scott Walker to Chris Christie to Jeb Bush to, now, Marco Rubio, have gone anywhere. Suddenly rallying to podium barnacle John Kasich would be more humiliating than standing behind Rubio.

That leaves Ted Cruz, and while Ted Cruz is certainly a model of the sort of extremist burn-down-the-government type that Fox News has endlessly promoted, Nobody Likes Ted Cruz.

What will the Republican Reichsministry of propaganda do? I think Faux Noise will goose-step behind the Republican nominee, whoever or whatever that is.

From PRWatch: Hold onto your Prius!

The Kochs and their fossil-fuel-fed political network are reportedly gunning for the electric car.

According to an anonymous industry source who spoke to journalist Peter Stone, a new advocacy group will "make the public aware of all the benefits of petroleum-based transportation fuels."

If you think this sounds a bit nutty, you have to remember Koch front groups have also fought the implementation of street cars in city after city.

If the group follows the usual Koch playbook, expect bogus "research" studies by Koch-funded "think tanks," well-placed op-eds that repeat Koch talking points without disclosing ties to the network, and fear-mongering ads that hide their fossil fuel funding behind bland names like "Americans for Energy Freedom." (The group’s actual name has yet to be announced.)

The primary benefits of burning petroleum fuels are obscene profits for Big Polluters and the RepubliCare Death Benefit for everyone else.

From Crooks and Liars: This is a really fascinating video. Governor Kate Brown shows that real people have a need for increasing the minimum wage. She also shows how listening to the needs of various stakeholders gets things done. OregonLive:

The bill gives Oregon the highest statewide minimum wage rates in the nation, to $14.75 inside Portland’s urban growth boundary, $13.50 in midsize counties and $12.50 in rural areas by 2022.

President Barack Obama lauded Brown, saying in a statement: "I commend the Oregon Legislature and Governor Kate Brown for taking action to raise their state’s minimum wage…Congress needs to keep up with the rest of the country. They need to act, and finally give America a raise. And until they do, I’ll continue to encourage states, cities, counties and companies to act on their own to support hardworking families."

Kate, America’s only openly LGBT state governor, keeps doing good things for Oregon, and Oregon leads the way!!

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Feb 162016
 

It was a busy day yesterday with physio, teaching and then a shopping run with Lucia.  I managed 40 minutes of bicycling and no pain.  The pain and swelling came later after walking around the grocery store with Lucia. Today is a haircut which is sorely needed . . . my hair is sticking straight out so far it is signaling a left turn.

Short Takes

Huffington Post — The growing risk of worldwide water shortages is worse than scientists previously thought, according to a new study. 

More than 70 percent, which is 4 billion people, of the world's population lives without sufficient access to fresh water for at least one month of the year, according to a new paper published Friday in the journal Science Advances

With such low water supplies, why are we allowing fracking which uses inordinant amounts of fresh water, mixes it with toxic chemicals, and then shoots it into the ground where it can't be used again?  Desalination of sea water works so why aren't we doing more there?

Alternet — The second week of February 2016 was a banner week for racism in Israel, with shockingly racist rhetoric from Prime Minister Netanyahu, genocidal references from his backbenchers and fulsome attacks on Palestinian leaders from his entire government. These attacks appear not only to lack legitimate basis, they reveal the government's own hypocritical alliances with convicted terrorists.

5.The Genocide convention.

At the end of Arad’s report, he notes the absurd hypocrisy in the Israeli government accusing Palestinian MKs of sympathizing with terrorists. Arad recalls a shocking October 2014 conference he attended in which Deputy Minister Eli Ben Dahan and soon-to-be-Minister Miri Regev shared a stage with Temple Mount Institute head Rabbi Yisrael Ariel.

Ben Dahan and Regev are known as some of the most racist representatives of the Israeli government. Dahan has said Palestinians “are beasts, they are not human,” while Regev called African asylum seekers “a cancer in the body” of Israel. 

But the man they shared a stage with, Rabbi Meir Kahane’s former deputy Yisrael Ariel, embodies another level of fanaticism altogether.

In September 2015, Ariel called upon Jews to march on the rest of the Middle East and to exterminate all men who refuse to abandon Christianity and Islam. To this day, Ariel draws a salary from the Israeli government, with Bennett’s Education Ministry paying his organization, the Temple Institute, to lectureIsraeli high school students, religious and secular.

This is the fifth of five incidences of Israeli racist rhetoric this past week. Click through for the other five.  Donald Trump, eat your heart out.  Israel is building a wall, not just bloviating about it.  Why are ultra conservatives so damned afraid?

Mother Jones — A group of families in the United States whose relatives were killed by Mexican drug cartels filed a lawsuit against the large financial institution HSBC this week, alleging that the bank's admitted laundering of roughly $881 million for the Sinaloa, Juárez, and Los Zetas cartels played a key role in the deaths of their loved ones.

"Money laundering is the lifeblood of the Mexican drug cartels, enabling them to construct a façade of legitimacy through which they establish, continue, and grow their global enterprises," the families' lawyers wrote in the complaint filed in federal court, alleging that cartels use that money to buy the weapons, vehicles, and the public officials needed to operate. "Thus, by facilitating the laundering of billions of dollars of drug cartel proceeds through its banks, HSBC materially supported the terrorist acts of the cartels, including the terrorist acts committed against the [families]."

Whenever I see "HSBC" in the news, I know it is bad news.  I take an interest in it because 1) I worked for HSBC Canada for almost 10 years; 2) I receive my pension from HSBC; and 3) it has a history of questionable acts, not the least of which was aiding clients to evade taxes.  They have also had issues with securities trades, not unlike those of JP Morgan Chase that landed Jamie Dimon in hot water.  HSBC has had the dubious misfortune of getting caught.  It will be interesting to see how HSBC deals with this lawsuit.

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Feb 082016
 

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

Short Takes

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

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

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

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

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

Common Dreams — 

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

sanders-warren

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

richard m nixon

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

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

My Universe — 

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Pillow talk in the animal kingdomPillow talk!

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Feb 052016
 
furies

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

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

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

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

“…So what is it that you teach?”

“I am a professor of political science.”

“My wife is a professor of communications.”

“Does she teach here in Iowa?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to an email from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Feb 052016
 

TGIF!!  I did not get the sleep I needed yesterday, because my helper friend came a day late.  We washed my hospital bed sheets and made the bed.  I need her help, because there is one corner where I cannot place the fritted sheet.  There is no room to get close enough in my chair.  That took up most of my afternoon nap time.  Then I watched the debate, and I won’t take today off, because it may be the last time Bernie and Hillary debate head to head. so I have to report on it.  Jeannie (Shower-Aide) has come and gone.  Arvilla (PT) was due in fifteen minutes  (now gone), and Tracey (OT) comes right after Arvilla!  When I finish blogging, I’m going to hide!  TGIF!!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:29 (average 5:54).  To do it, click here. How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The Jeff Merkley Channel:

Merkley: Stop the wave of dark money in politics

 

Amen Jeff!!  He’s one of the reasons that Oregon leads the way!

From The New Yorker: In a feat that some observers called nothing short of miraculous, the embattled pharmaceuticals C.E.O. Martin Shkreli single-handedly made the American people side with Congress on Thursday morning.

According to polls taken after his appearance before the despised legislative body, Shkreli’s smug, smirking, and utterly douchey performance had the effect of temporarily transforming members of Congress into marginally sympathetic figures.

The University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, which tracks the American people’s attitudes toward the legislative branch, said that after Shkreli’s appearance Congress’s approval rating surged from eleven per cent to fourteen per cent.

Well the guy is an asshole (syn, Republican), but frankly, I think Andy has been smokin' that Wacky tobbacky. The only thing that could make Congress more popular is a Democratic majority!

From FAIR.org: A few months ago, I raised concerns about Washington Post food columnist Tamar Haspel (FAIR.org, 10/28/15) after she admitted taking money from agribusiness interest groups that she covers.

I pointed out that her columns are biased in favor of those industry groups, particularly on the topic of GMOs, even though her column is presented to readers as an unbiased effort to find middle ground in debates about our food system.

My article was met with crickets of silence from Haspel, her Post editor Joe Yonan and the band of biotech promoters who prolifically praise Haspel on Twitter. I figured that, soon enough, Haspel might write another column that would warrant raising the concerns another notch up the pole. She didn’t disappoint.

In her January column (Washington Post, 1/26/16), Haspel offered an investigation (“the surprising truth”) about the food movement—without speaking to anyone in the food movement—concluding that there isn’t much of a food movement after all, and most people don’t really care about labeling genetically engineered foods (GMOs).

Her sources? A two-year-old survey, another survey conducted by a food-industry front group, and consumer research by the agrichemical industry’s public relations firm.  [emphasis original]

Busted!! GMOs must be contained where grown and labeled for consumers. Click though for the rest of this extensive exposé.

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Feb 012016
 

A very light day today, thankfully, but the week ahead is busy.  I spoke with my brother in Toronto this morning.  He and his wife are taking an Alaska cruise leaving from Vancouver in July so they will spend a few days visiting with me and seeing my mother.  This will be good as they haven't seen her for almost 3 years, or is it 4 years.  Tomorrow is physio and teaching but I shant be lingering to do extra tutoring or Costco runs.

Short Takes

Alternet — Oklahoma legislators are trying to pass an expressively cruel bill that would bar depressed LGBT youngsters from seeking gay-affirming counseling at school, Slate reports.

The state House bill, proposed by Republican Sally Kern, is part of a slew of anti-gay legislation she wants to pass, which would sanction discredited gay “conversion” therapy and prevent HIV-positive people from getting married.

I was absolutely sickened by this legislation.  The party of hate strikes yet again, and this time takes aim at children, children with severe mental health issues such as depression.  If this legislation is passed, I hope the courts will deem it unconstitutional!

Huffington Post — Republicans have spent nearly six years promising to repeal Obamacare and, for most of that time, they have refused to acknowledge what that would mean for the millions who would lose their health insurance.

On Saturday afternoon in Iowa, for at least a few minutes, one Republican couldn't get away with it.

It happened at a Ted Cruz campaign event in Hubbard, a small town smack in the middle of the state. According to reports in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Politico, Cruz fielded a question from Mike Valde, a Democratic voter who had come to the event with a story to tell and a simple question to ask.

The story was about his brother-in-law, a barber named Mark. As Valde told it, Mark was a small business owner who worked so hard that he didn’t even take paid days off. But Mark was unable to afford health insurance until the Affordable Care Act became law. When it did, Mark bought insurance and then, when he started feeling ill, saw a physician — who promptly diagnosed him with cancer with no hope for recovery. He died last year.

Good on Valde to confront Cruz and persist in getting an answer.  I think Cruz was flumoxed by Valde, such that he tried not to answer. Obamacare is not perfect but it is a step in the correct direction.  There are still people not covered because many red states have refused Medicaid expansion.  Others because they make too much for Medicaid coverage but still can't afford the premiums.  Republicans only have the Republicare death benefit — die fast, as Rep Alan Grayson coined.  Cruz was caught between a rock and a hard place and had nowhere to go.

CBC — Two parents watching over an awkward child with weight issues that's still living with them isn't really news. Unless the child in question is a king penguin. 

Nero is, well, different than the adult penguins in his life. While mom, dad and the rest of the colony are decked out in their finest black and whites, the only child is big, fluffy and brown.

Did we mention big?

Nero the penguin

Nero, the first king penguin chick born at the Calgary Zoo, stands out with his fluffy appearance. (Ayesha Clough/CBC)

"He's five months, a little over five months, and he weighs around 15 and a half kilos, which means he is the heaviest bird in our colony," said Malu Celli, a curator at the Calgary Zoo. "He's heavier than his mom, who's quite a big, chunky penguin too, and he still has some growing to do."

OK, this is cuteness overload time!  Nero is 5 months old and only one half kilo bigger than my 8 year old cat!  I love watching penguins play, although I don't particularly like seeing them in an artificial environment such as a zoo.  Play away Nero and happy puberty!

Common Dreams"Corporate criminals routinely escape meaningful prosecution for their misconduct."

This is the damning verdict of Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) report released Friday,Rigged Justice: How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy (pdf). 

Described as "the first in an annual series on enforcement," the 12-page booklet "highlights 20 of the most egregious civil and criminal cases during the past year in which federal settlements failed to require meaningful accountability to deter future wrongdoing and to protect taxpayers and families," according to a press statement from Warren's office.  

"Justice cannot mean a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but nothing more than a sideways glance at a C.E.O. who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars," Warren said in the op-ed.

This from the report, Rigged Justice: How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy, prepared by Elizabth Warren's office.  Cllick through for more details.

The failure to punish big corporations or their executives when they break the law undermines the foundations of this great country: If justice means a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but it means nothing more than a sideways glance at a CEO who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars, then the promise of equal justice under the law has turned into a lie. The failure to prosecute big, visible crimes has a corrosive effect on the fabric of democracy and our shared belief that we are all equal in the eyes of the law. 

Corporate criminals like Jamie Dimon and Don Blankenship need to be held criminally  accountable for the actions of their corporations.  Federal agencies need to conduct robust investigations and see that all charges and penalties are pursued.  Further, corporations should not be able to write-off penalties from a tax perspective.  That is just plain wrong.

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Jan 292016
 

I’m running quite late today.  Yesterday afternoon, my helper friend and I made six meals.  Last night I filled two barf bags, trash can, my coffee cup, my shirt pocket, and George.  Today Jeannie (shower-aide) left me with soft shiny fur.  Arvilla (PT) gave me a hard workout including a toilet transfer with my quad-cane, without using the disabled rails.  Then I walked around 225 ft. with my walker.  That’s almost double my previous best.  Then I did exercises, and maneuvered from the sink, paste the range, past the counter, to the refrigerator and back without my chair or my walker, using the surfaces for support.  I’m pooped!!  TGIF!!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:19 (average 5:41).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: The FBI has released video tonight of the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum to dispel any rumors that he had “had his hands up” and was trying to surrender to police. The FBI’s Special Agent in Charge Gregory T. Bretzing held a press conference to explain the events surrounding the arrest of Ammon Bundy (and others), along with the fatal shooting of LaVoy Finicum. Finicum can be seen running from the initial stop in his pick-up truck, with passengers Ryan Payne, Shawna Cox and a woman the FBI declined to identify. The video was captured by aerial camera and shows Finicum driving into a snow back, barely missing a law enforcement officer. He immediately jumped from the vehicle, at first with his hands up as he yelled at law enforcement, but then clearly reaching into his pocket multiple times, where the FBI says he did have a gun (update: a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun.)

Here us a shortened, edited clip instead of the 26 minute clip included with the article. No significant parts were removed.

I have no doubt that the Republican terrorist was going for his gun, based on his previous statements and the loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol in the pocket. The officer was fully justified in shooting him. However, I would like to have seen a faster response time to try to save his life, if possible, after he was down.

From Media Matters: Student loan debt in America has reached a staggering $1.3 trillion, surpassing even credit card debt. But right-wing media figures have criticized efforts to combat student loan debt by pushing misinformation and blaming students for pursuing higher education…

…Blaming students for the student loan debt crisis ignores the facts and distracts from finding real solutions to America’s skyrocketing student debt burden.

 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Students should be able to pay for their education with their choice of military, national, or community service.

From NY Times: WHILE presidential candidates from both parties feverishly pitch their legislative agendas, voters should also consider what presidents can do without Congress. Agency rules, executive actions and decisions about how vigorously to enforce certain laws will have an impact on every American, without a single new bill introduced in Congress.

The Obama administration has a substantial track record on agency rules and executive actions. It has used these tools to protect retirement savings, expand overtime pay, prohibit discrimination against L.G.B.T. employees who work for the government and federal contractors, and rein in carbon pollution. These accomplishments matter.

Whether the next president will build on them, or reverse them, is a central issue in the 2016 election. But the administration’s record on enforcement falls short — and federal enforcement of laws that already exist has received far too little attention on the campaign trail.

I just released a report examining 20 of the worst federal enforcement failures in 2015. Its conclusion: “Corporate criminals routinely escape meaningful prosecution for their misconduct.”

Amen! Click through for the rest of this fine editorial by American National Treasure. Elizabeth Warren, and be sure to read her report.

Cartoon:

0129Cartoon

Republicans want to take your money and give it to the 0.1%

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Jan 122016
 

I enjoyed time with my mother on Sunday afternoon and evening.  It was great to see her eat so well.  Seeing my mother often leaves me exhausted, and last night was no exception.  As a result, I was late getting up for physio, even though I set my alarm.  I think I set a record for speediness today as I was out the door in 30 minutes, and that included a shower!  Tomorrow, I have to take my mother to a specialist so that will be a bit of work, and then there is a meeting at her care home.  There is always something going on.

Short Takes

BBC — India's greatest leader had moved to a village called Segaon two years earlier. He had renamed it Sevagram or a village of service. He built an ashram, a commune which was home to "many a fateful decision which affected the destiny of India". Gandhi had moved in with his wife, Kasturba, and some followers. There was also a steady stream of guests.

Mahatma Gandhi

Kanu Gandhi, a callow young man in his 20s and a grand nephew of the Mahatma, was also there. Armed with a Rolleiflex camera, he was taking pictures of the leader.

He had wanted to become a doctor, but his parents had goaded him to join Gandhi's personal staff doing clerical work, looking after accounts and writing letters at the ashram.

Kanu Gandhi had developed an interest in photography, but Gandhi had told him there was no money to buy him a camera.

The nephew did not relent. Finally, Gandhi asked businessman Ghanshyam Das Birla to gift 100 rupees ($1.49; £1.00) to Kanu so that he could buy the camera and a roll of film.

But the leader imposed three conditions on the photographer: he forbade him from using flash and asking him to pose; and made it clear that the ashram would not pay for his photography.

Click through for some of these photographs and the stories behind them.  I have been influenced by Mahatma Gandhi like so many others.  I have always said that he is the most Christ like person I know of, and he was not Christian.  This is one of my favourite attributions: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Globe and Mail — ‘That,” we tell ourselves, “is just the way the Americans are.” We say it every time some firearms horror strikes a movie theatre or school or workplace. We say it when the U.S. President, reduced to tears, tries to use his limited powers to make minimal changes to laws that allow almost anyone to purchase and use an assault rifle.

After all, hasn’t it always been this way? Americans have always believed that they have a right to own and carry guns, we think. Strict gun control has never been an American option. That’s just the way they are.

Except that it isn’t. The American gun crisis, and the attitudes and laws that make it possible, are very new. The broad idea of a right to own firearms, along with the phenomenon of mass shootings, did not exist a generation ago; the legal basis for this right did not exist a decade ago.

Until 2002, every U.S. president and government had declared that the Constitution’s Second Amendment did not provide any individual right for ordinary citizens to own firearms. Rather, it meant what its text clearly states: that firearms shall be held by “the People” – a collective, not individual right – insofar as they are in the service of “a well-regulated militia.”

In another Globe and Mail article, the author says "In a prime-time, televised town hall meeting, Obama defended his support for the constitutional right to gun ownership while arguing it was consistent with his efforts to curb violence and mass shootings. "  Even constitutional lawyers can disagree as to whether the individual has the right to bear arms.  How is it that after 230+ years, with one stroke of the pen, Scalia can render the majority decision changing legal presedence of 230+ years?

Alternet — The air was hazy from distant wildfires on August 29 when a gift arrived on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in southeast Montana. Carvers from the Lummi Tribe in Washington state brought a totem pole as a sign of support for those fighting the Otter Creek project, a proposed strip mine and rail spur on the Northern Cheyenne Tribe’s traditional lands. 

At a ceremony marking the pole’s arrival, ranchers, whose families have been on the land for generations, and tribal members, whose families go back even further, joined together to speak of the sacredness of the land and water, and of their duty to protect this inheritance for generations to come.

The new mine would extract around 1.3 billion tons of coal. Arch Coal and its partners would blast a new rail spur through hills, across ranches, and along the Tongue River to connect the mine to the Burlington Northern main line. Open train cars would carry coal to a proposed export terminal to be built on the Lummi Tribe’s traditional lands. From there, the coal could be shipped to Asia; burning it would emit billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

These are the power grabs of corporations as they act like petulant children when they don't get their way.  Don't get me wrong, contaminated water and air, the degradation of forests and oceans, crops spoiled by unusual weather . . . these are all very serious.  But corporations that put profits before people will be the death of us all.

My Universe — 0028_zps8d769739

 

 

 

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Jan 082016
 

I started out doing a short take for today's Squatch's Open Thread about TransCanada's NAFTA challenge, but things rather mushroomed.  TC covered TransCanada in his lead article while I chose to take a broader approach.

There are two actions that TransCanada Corp has announced it is taking in regards to the Keystone XL rejection:  

  1. a challenge under NAFTA against the US Government; and
  2. a lawsuit filed in US federal court in Houston, Texas.

National Post — TransCanada Corp. said Wednesday it intends to file a challenge under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) seeking US$15-billion in damages from the United States government over President Barack Obama’s denial of the Keystone XL pipeline.  

In a 27-page notice of intent to pursue the NAFTA challenge, the Calgary-based pipeline company said Obama’s denial was politically driven, directly contrary to the conclusions of own administration’s studies, and in violation of U.S. obligations under the agreement.

From the Globe and Mail

Toronto trade lawyer Lawrence Herman said … 

“I’ve thought for some time that that this was a politicized issue, and there are good arguments that decisions affecting Keystone were based on political considerations. To the degree that that is so, TransCanada has a viable if not a strong case.”

Continuing from the National Post

In addition, the Calgary-based company filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal Court in Houston claiming Obama’s decision to deny construction of Keystone XL exceeded his power under the U.S. Constitution.  

The lawsuit in Texas does not seek damages, but a declaration that the permit denial is without legal merit and that construction of the pipeline can proceed without further presidential action.  

TransCanada has pondered a NAFTA challenge for some time, but the Texas lawsuit — it names U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell — was not expected.

Some might remember that from the beginning, the Keystone XL and TransCanada Corp have been the focus of much talk, and not just over the water cooler.  Here are some of the Politics Plus articles going back to 2011: Keystone XL WOULD Increase Carbon PollutionKeystone XL DefeatedObama Rejects Keystone XL PipelineNew Keystone XL InvestigationDeck stacked for Keystone XLKeystone DelayedThe Keystone Debacle.

TransCanada has admitted in the past that it substantially inflated employment numbers in the US.  During the 2012 election campaign, Republicans were pushing the "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs" and invoked TransCanada as a jobs creator saying that there were tens of thousands of jobs.  Ib fact there would be a couple thousand temporary construction jobs and less than 100 permanent jobs.  Take into account that the EIS at one point was arranged and paid for by TransCanada.  Shame on TransCanada for trying to hide that conflict and on the State Department for allowing it. Here's a record of TransCanada's lobbying through the first half of 2013 . . . big money.

In Canada, former PM Stephen Harper and the Conservatives backed the Keystone XL.  DeSmog reported:

In October 2013 the Liberal party backed the Keystone XL pipeline and won confidence from oil industry supporters when Trudeau told the Calgary Petroleum Club, “Let me be clear: I support Keystone XL.”

But Trudeau also added, “Perhaps the greatest indictment of the [Conservative] government is this: it has had the better part of a decade to remove the barriers preventing the U.S. from approving this project.”

“The [Conservative government] poked and prodded, annoyed and irritated the Obama administration at every turn. Largely, I suspect, because they don’t know how to work with people who don’t share their ideology.”

 Both Dion and Trudeau indicated that although they support the Keystone XL, they respect the decision-making authority of the Obama administration — something the Harper government continuously strained diplomatic relations by failing to do. During his years of lobbying for the pipeline, Harper forcefully said he wouldn’t “take no for an answer” and called its approval a “no brainer.”

So both Canadian governments ultimately support the pipeline, the former government being more forceful, less respectful.

But there is also another NAFTA challenge that has been before the tribunal since 2013 — Lone Pine Resources Inc. v. Government of Canada.  From Global Affairs Canada

The claimant alleges that LPRC has contractual interests relating to five contiguous exploration licences for petroleum, natural gas and underground reservoirs (“exploration licences”) located near Trois-Rivières [see map below]. These interests stem from a farmout agreement signed with the holder of these exploration licences, a Canadian company named Junex Inc. Four of the exploration licences are located on land and one is located in the St. Lawrence River.

The exploration licence located in the St. Lawrence River was revoked following the coming into force, on June 13, 2011, of a Quebec law titled An Act to limit oil and gas activities (“Act”). The Act revokes exploration licences located in the St. Lawrence River and limits the area of those that cross the water’s edge to their land portion.

The Act was passed in response to the findings of a strategic environmental study on hydrocarbon development in the maritime estuary basin and the northwestern Gulf of St. Lawrence, which concludes that this environment is not conducive to hydrocarbon development activities. This study was preceded by numerous other studies that, since 2003, have been analyzing the impact of hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities on the biophysical and human environment of the St. Lawrence River.

In addition to studies on hydrocarbon development in the St. Lawrence River, the Government of Quebec devotes considerable resources to documenting and assessing the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the shale gas industry. Since February 2011, reports from Quebec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (“BAPE”) and studies conducted as part of strategic environmental studies have been establishing the existence of risks to the biophysical and human environment tied to shale gas development activities involving hydraulic fracturing.

Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway map 1959.png

One thing to note, the St Lawrence River freezes each winter westward from Québec City, creating additional risks.  You can also review the Lone Pine Resources' challenge at the Council of Canadians website. 

Both of these challenges to the sovereignty of our two nations by corporations need to be put in their place . . . in the dumpster.  Trade agreements like NAFTA, TPP, TTIP, TISA and CETA are nothing more than corporate power grabs.  Where are the people in all these agreements?  . . . slaves to corporations.

See lists of NAFTA challenges at the following sources:

  1. Global Affairs Canada, and
  2. US Department of State.

 

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