Nov 232016
 

I’m hurrying this morning, because I’m hoping for time for a nap, before Wendy and her niece arrive for early Thanksgiving dinner.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:54 (average 5:01).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Tales:

From Daily Kos: Oh, national "news" media. What the hell are you even for?

On November 19, The New York Times reported that Trump “still maintains the routine that sustained him during the campaign,” which includes “often seek[ing] out” advice from [MSNBC host Joe Scarborough]. CNN media reporter Brian Stelter referenced the Times report on the November 20 edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources, stating that Scarborough has been giving Trump advice.” Scarborough failed to address the allegations during the November 21 edition of Morning Joe.

Scarborough has repeatedly attacked those who claimed he was supporting Trump on-air. In November, Scarborough lashed out at the “really disgusting” people who suggested he favored Trump, adding that he doesn’t want viewers to believe “that anybody [on Morning Joe] is rooting for Donald Trump because we’re not.”

Outstanding. Just outstanding. So Joe Scarborough has been giving Trump regular advice, and the MSNBC appendage has nothing to say about this beyond his past attacks on people who would suggest such things.

As I have said, while MSNBC is the most balanced cable news network, it is anything but liberal. The Fuhrer’s goose-stepping shill, Joe Scarborough and Joe’s ersatz liberal punching bag, Mika Brzezinski, control the three hour breakfast time slot on the network, and get as much air time as Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O’Donnell combined.

From YouTube (GQ Channel): The Surprisingly Easy Way to Get Rid of Donald Trump | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann

 

As much as I love Keith, I disagree. The only difference between Trump and Pence is that Pence dog-whistles what Trump says.. Furthermore, Republicans are too foul for enough of them to take those actions.

From San Francisco Chronicle (Hat Tip JL A): Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch’s company fought for years to hold on to millions of dollars in profit from Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. That battle just paid off.

Koch Industries and dozens of other former Madoff customers are expected to keep as much as $2 billion they made from the con man’s bogus securities transactions after U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Stuart Bernstein in Manhattan ruled the cash is out of reach of a trustee recovering money for victims.

The ruling on Monday underscores that even eight years after the collapse of the biggest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, the litigation stemming from the scam is still being defined by which Madoff customers profited at the expense of others. Many are still waiting for their principal.

Koch Industries and defendants in about 100 other suits argued the profit was beyond U.S. jurisdiction because it had been transferred — usually from offshore feeder funds to foreign banks — in the years before Madoff’s December 2008 arrest.

In short, thousands lost their homes, their pensions and their life savings, and they will recover nothing, because the Koch Brothers and other Vulture Capitalists hid their ill-gotten in secret offshore accounts, co the courts cant make them return it, the judge says.

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TC will chow down tonight!!

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Nov 222016
 

Store to Door is closed for the holiday week, so I’m getting a grocery delivery today from Safeway.com.  Their delivery fees are higher than Store to Door’s, and they just leave the bags instead of handing me one item at a time, so putting everything away is much more work.  I’m not complaining.  They have good products and good service.  I’m celebrating Thanksgiving a day early tomorrow, because Wendy is bringing dinner with her when she comes to do her normal deodorizing of the stinky TomCat.  Is she a gem, or what?  She’ll be bringing her niece, so I’ll get to stuff and purrrr bookended by two gorgeous women.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:44 (average 4:38).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Fantasy Football Report:

Here’s the latest from our own fantasy football league, Lefty Blog Friends.

Scores:

11Scores

The universe must have been disrupted by a cosmic tear in the space-time continuum.  I actually won a game.

Standings:

11Standings

Congrats to Rob for leading the league.  It will take far more cosmic chaos to get me out of last place.

Short Takes:

From NY Times: A panel of three federal judges said on Monday that the Wisconsin Legislature’s 2011 redrawing of State Assembly districts to favor Republicans was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, the first such ruling in three decades of pitched legal battles over the issue.

Federal courts have struck down gerrymanders on racial grounds, but not on grounds that they unfairly give advantage to a political party — the more common form of gerrymandering. The case could now go directly to the Supreme Court, where its fate may rest with a single justice, Anthony M. Kennedy, who has expressed a willingness to strike down partisan gerrymanders but has yet to accept a rationale for it.

Given the Injustices the Fuhrer will appoint to SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD), redistricting that does NOT favor Republicans will soon be illegal.

From YouTube (GQ Channel): Look What Happens When You Criticize Trump

 

Keith has given us an excellent description of what Henry David Thoreau meant when he wrote Civil Disobedience. RESIST!

From Common Dreams: The Atlantic published a video on Monday that shows attendees of a white nationalist conference giving Nazi salutes and cheering as movement leader Richard B. Spencer, who has been credited with coining the term "alt-right," delivers a speech describing the U.S. as "a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity…it belongs to us."

Barf Bag Alert!!

 

Welcome to the Fuhrer’s AmeriKKKa.

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Nov 052016
 

I’m back in the saddle for a couple days.  Today I have to separate and stock my meds for a week in my pill caddy, check my fantasy football lineup, plan my menu and and compose my grocery order for the week.  Tomorrow is a Wendy day, and I will be posting my final  election prediction for the year, because I’ll be busy Monday with Megan, my PCP.  Tomorrow evening my Broncos will be spraying their opponents with Raid.

Jug Zone Puzzle:Today’s took me 4:04 (average 5:32).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From YouTube (Real Time Channel): Bill Maher Implores the Media to Do Their Job

 

AMEN!!

From NY Times: A federal jury convicted two former allies of Gov. Chris Christie on Friday of all charges stemming from a bizarre scheme to close access lanes at the George Washington Bridge to punish a New Jersey mayor who declined to endorse the governor’s re-election.

Though only the two defendants, Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, were tried in the so-called Bridgegate case, the scandal surrounding the lane closings in September 2013 left Mr. Christie deeply wounded. It helped cripple his presidential candidacy this year and tarnished his reputation as a key surrogate in Donald J. Trump’s Republican presidential campaign.

With the trial set to unfold in the weeks before Election Day, aides to Mr. Trump persuaded him not to pick Mr. Christie as his vice-presidential nominee. The governor now leads Mr. Trump’s transition team, but the Trump campaign said after the verdict on Friday that Mr. Christie had “changed his schedule” and would not make appearances in New Hampshire on Saturday.

I think Kelly and Baroni should get drastically reduced sentences, if they throw enough fat in the fire to result in convicting PIGnocchio.

From TPM: The Donald Trump campaign said in a court document filed Friday that it will appeal a restraining order issued by a federal judge in Ohio earlier that day. The order, issued by U.S. District Judge James Gwin, blocked the Trump campaign — as well as former Trump adviser Roger Stone and his affiliated group — "from conspiring to intimidate, threaten, harass, or coerce voters on Election Day."

That’s right! Rump Dump’s appeal claims that Republicans have the right to intimidate, threaten, harass, and coerce voters on Election day.

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Oct 192016
 

We’re having some excitement here in the Rose City, as a contractor ruptured a gas line and a building about 25 blocks from me exploded.  I did not hear it, but I knew something was up, because I heard several sirens at once from different distances away.  Please join me in prayer, or however you connect to the infinite, for the injured and their loved ones.  I have a busy day.  Store to Door is delivering groceries later this afternoon, and I have to put them away.  Later Wendy will be here to shine and polish the TomCat and do some light cleaning.  Then we’ll construct a green cloud and send it north to find the Squatch.  That assumes we can hold the chili down, as Hillary will be debating, and Rump Dump will be masdebating at the same time we are eating.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:41 (average 4:45).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: The courts are not looking kindly at Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s multiple efforts to keep people—primarily Democrats—from voting. Last week, his refusal to extend the voter registration deadline in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew was denied, and voter registration continues into this week. Then on Sunday, a federal judge ruled that the state must allow absentee voters to verify their signatures and have their votes count.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker’s ruling was a victory for the Florida Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee, which sued the state Oct. 3 arguing Florida canvassing boards shouldn’t immediately reject a ballot if a voter’s signature doesn’t match the one on file. The state gives voters who forget to sign their mail ballots a chance to fix the problem before Election Day—but doesn’t offer voters with mismatched signatures the same opportunity. […]

"It is illogical, irrational, and patently bizarre for the State of Florida to withhold the opportunity to cure from mismatched-signature voters while providing that same opportunity to no-signature voters," he wrote. "And in doing so, the State of Florida has categorically disenfranchised thousands of voters arguably for no reason other than they have poor handwriting or their handwriting has changed over time." […]

The Republican War against the right to vote never ends.

From The New Yorker: In an Oval Office ceremony on Wednesday morning, President Barack Obama signed an executive order requiring the loser of the 2016 Presidential election to leave the country forever.

“This will help the healing begin,” the President said.

The executive order calls for the loser of the November 8th election to depart the country on the morning of November 9th and never return.

“Whoever that turns out to be,” the President said.

But Andy, it doesn’t go far enough. Make Rump Dump Whoever leave the earth and go to the Cruz planet.

From CMD: ExxonMobil and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are running an illegal scheme to promote the oil giant’s climate denial policies and legislative agenda in violation of U.S. tax law governing charitable organizations, the Center for Media Democracy (CMD) and Common Cause charged today.

In a new filing to the IRS – adding to an active investigation prompted by a 2012 complaint that ALEC is operating as a corporate lobbying group while registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity – the watchdog organizations detail for the first time how Exxon has used ALEC as a key asset in its explicit campaign to sow uncertainty about climate science, undermine international climate treaties and block legislation to reduce emissions. While ALEC purports to spend zero dollars on lobbying, Exxon has deliberately used ALEC for the past two decades to advance its legislative goals concerning cap-and-trade policies, fracking, the Keystone Pipeline and the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan.

“It has become painfully obvious over the past few years that ALEC is corporate lobby front group masquerading as a charity—at taxpayer expense,” said Arn Pearson, general counsel at CMD. “If the laws governing nonprofits are to mean anything, the IRS needs to take action to enforce them in this case.”

“For years ALEC has been a key asset in Exxon’s multi-billion dollar campaign to push a dangerous climate-denial agenda and secretly lobby politicians on anti-environmental legislation that pollutes the environment,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “It is time for the IRS to act and curb these blatant abuses.”

Today, CMD and Common Cause provided the IRS Whistleblower Office with extensive evidence obtained through open records requests, original research and public financial documents detailing intentional misuse of ALEC by the Exxon to advance legislation of direct benefit to the company. Over a 17-year period, Exxon and its foundation spent more than $1.7 million to finance lobbying activity by ALEC on legislation and public policies that benefit the corporation, while improperly and illegally claiming a tax deduction for those expenditures.

These Republicans (ALEC) need to be stripped of their 501 status, criminally prosecuted,  and put out of business permanently.

Cartoon:

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Hat-Tip to Bill Maher for the concept.

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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 12:10 am  Politics
Aug 132016
 
furies

I have a few 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."

First, though, before handing off to the Furies, I want to follow up on July 30's story about "National Whistleblowers Appreciation Day."  You may recall I quoted from John Kiriakou and Tom Drake, and mentioned Jeffrey Sterling not being available as he is still locked up.  I have since received an email forwarded by Roots Action from his wife, Holly.  She states that he has served a bit over one year of his three-and-a-half year sentence, and there are a few things we can do ourselves. 

The need is threefold.  First, he is not getting appropriate attention for serious cardiac medical issues.  He has a history of atrial fibrillation (in the past he has been hospitalized for it) and is now experiencing chest pains, shortness of breath, and dizziness.  Holly has written to the Warden about his medical conditon, and has received no answer.  She would really appreciate if anyone who can would contact the prison warden, Deborah Denham, to advocate for medical attention for Jeffrey.  The email address is ENG slash ExecAssistant at bop dot gov (I'm spelling it the long way to avoid a link that's not to a site) and the phone number 303-763-4300.  (Personal note from me: if I can come up with any more accuracy or other alternatives I will add it/them in a comment.)

Second – I vividly remember when John Kiriakou was incarcerated how the family, his wife and three little girls, were up against the wall just to try to make the mortgage payments, and on top of that, they did not put him in the nearest prison, so that visiting was a challenge both in terms of energy and financially.  (They also threatened "diesel therapy" – a creative term for moving him between prisons without notice.)  Firedoglake was collecting for John, and, with help, they did not lose their home.  The Sterlings have a Sterling Family Fund set up for them on GoFundMe.  They want to appeal his conviction, and Holly would like to make the 800-plus mile trip to visit him once in a while, and both require money.  (There's also more background information there, should you be interested.)

Third, for those of us who are not locked up, it may be impossible to realize how much words of encouragement can mean.  Even if it's just a card.  He can receive snailmail at

JEFFREY STERLING, 38338-044
FCI Englewood
Federal Correctional Institution
9595 West Quincy Avenue
Littleton, CO 80123

And, yes, there is a petition .  It also has more background.

Now, moving right along, I'll whip quickly through a few stories of jaw-dropping – something.  First, let's go to Indiana, specifically to South Bend, where, in 2012, Vivian Franklin awakened to loud pounding on her door between three and four in the morning.  Three (warrantless) police officers shining a flashlight in her eyes  barged in.  They were looking for Dan, Vivian's older son, who was not there.  This did not stop them from hauling her younger son, DeShawn, 17, out of bed and assaulting him with fists and tasers.  In the process, a taser probe got stuck in DeShawn's side; the officers were unable to remove it and had to call an ambulance and EMT's to do so.  (I am restraining my snark here.) 

Where the incident goes right through the Looking Glass is that, while DeShawn was shouting he was not Dan, and Vivian was shouting DeShawn was not Dan, and the officers were insisting Dan must be there because they had trailed him to the home – Dan showed up.  Whereupon the officers opted not to arrest him. 

So in March, 2013 the Franklins reasonably filed suit.  Named in the suit were the three officers, the city, the mayor, and the police chief.  Finally, this year, the suit was adjudicated in Fort Wayne.

The jury found that the Franklins' constitutional rights had been violated.  They awarded damages of ONE DOLLAR. Yes, you read that right.  One dollar.

Grudging, I would say.  Megaera, I woudn't stop with the officers, the city, the mayor, and the police chief.  I'd definitely follow up with that jury.  Perhaps Indiana, or at least South Bend, really did deserve Mike Pence.

Let's now go to Watauga, Texas, where an unidentified man made a threat in a phone message to a local mosque, in which he threatened to decapitate Muslims who attended it.

The caller identified as a "Christian."  Police in Watauga are investigating but aren't treating it as a direct threat at the moment.  the FBI has also been notified.

Of course, Tisiphone, you will want to find this person.  But almost more chilling was the remark that "a caller made explicitly violent threats that went well beyond the kind of verbal abuse callers normally level against the mosque." 

It should NOT be "normal" for callers to "level verbal abuse" against ANY person or group.  And it is un-American that this happens.

So you may be digging out a long, long list.

Finally for this week, this happened in Punta Gorda , FL (one of only a few states we might expect it in).  I'll just quote:

A woman, identified as Mary Knowlton, was selected to participate in a “shoot or don’t shoot” training exercise at the Punta Gorda Police Academy. She was selected at random from a group of 35 citizens who were participating in a two hour Citizens Academy—a program created to teach local civics to civilians.

Mary Knowlton, 73, was shot during a role-play scenario in which the Punta Gorda police officer was playing a “bad guy” and fired several times at the woman who was supposed to be playing the victim, according to Sue Paquin, a photographer who was covering the event for the Sun and witnessed the incident.

Knowlton was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Mrs. Knowlton was originally from Austin, Minnesota and was retired in Punta Gorda. She had been a librarian in Scott County, Minnesota.

This incident may reflect more stupidity than malice (and once again I need to restrain my snark/sarcasm).  But things like this happen all the timeAlecto, maybe you can inject some sense here.  I certainly hope so.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4004933

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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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