Jul 122016
 

The past few days have been busy with my brother and SIL, and their friends, in town for a few days before boarding a cruise ship for Alaska.  We had a chance to spend Friday afternoon with my mother and then go out for a great dinner.  Even my 3 furbabes got in on the action eating prime rib leftovers which they very much enjoyed!  Although the weather was supposed to be rainy, we lucked out with clear skies at all the right times.  I certainly was tired and sore from a lot of walking, but it wasn't as bad as I had feared.  I wanted to take them to the Britannia Mine Museum but an auto accident on the highway brought that activity to a screaming halt, and the plan B was Stanley Park.  I have several meetings, a haircut and a teaching session with Lucia during the rest of the week.

Short Takes

Alternet — Blame abounds in the wake of the brutal slaying of five police officers in downtown Dallas. But while most people place the responsibility for this tragedy squarely in the hands of the man who shot the police officers (who were by all accounts monitoring and protecting protestors), some on the right believe other people are to blame.

Here's a roundup of some of those (besides the gunman himself) who are being blamed for the Dallas shooting.

2. President Barack Obama

As expected, the annals of Twitter were immediately inundated with charges that “Barack is smiling his smug little smile.” Unfortunately, the notion that President Obama bears any responsibility for the Dallas shooting was hardly limited to the fringes of the internet.

“3 Dallas Cops killed, 7 wounded,” former Illinois GOP congressman-slash-ostentatious-right-wing-radio-host Joe Walsh wrote on Twitter. “This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black loves matter punks. Real America is coming after you.”

Walsh has since deleted the tweet, but he continued posting video of the chaos in Dallas throughout the night. 

“10 Cops shot. You did this Obama. You did this liberals. You did this #BLM. Time to defend our Cops. Wake up,” Walsh posted.

He later added that Obama “stoked the flame” and “defends Islam.” Eric Trump, son of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, reportedly retweeted a post by Walsh accusing Black Lives Matter of calling for the death of police officers.

Walsh later clarified he “wasn’t calling for violence, against Obama or anyone.”

William Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, also blamed Obama, taking issue with the president’s completely accurate statement that “when people are armed with powerful weapons, unfortunately it makes it more deadly and more tragic, and in the days ahead we are going to have to consider those realities as well.”

"The Obama administration is the Neville Chamberlain of this war,” Johnson told Fox News. “I think their continued appeasement at the federal level with the Department of Justice, their appeasement of violent criminals, their refusal to condemn movements like Black Lives Matter, actively calling for the death of police officers, that type of thing, all the while blaming police for the problems in this country has led directly to the climate that has made Dallas possible.”

Other GOP groups took issue with a statement Obama gave Thursday addressing the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police. “To be concerned about these issues is not to be against law enforcement,” Obama said. ”When people say black lives matter, it doesn’t mean blue lives don’t matter.”

“Obama lectures nation on racial disparities hours before assassination of Dallas police officers,” the conservative group GOPUSA said in an email.

“It was bound to happen,” the email reads. “It was a Daily Beasttime bomb. Every time Barack Obama speaks on race, things get worse.”

For his part, Obama spoke out forcefully against the Dallas shootings Friday morning.

"I believe I speak for every single American when I say we are horrified over these events, and we stand united with the people and the police department in Dallas,” Obama said, calling the assault a "vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.”

"We will learn more, undoubtedly, about their twisted motivations, but let’s be clear: There is no possible justification for these types of attacks," Obama said. "Anyone involved in the senseless murders will be held fully accountable. Justice will be done.”

This is the second of 4 absurb right wing reactions to the killing of 5 Dallas police officers.  Click through for the other three.  As is usually the case, this is totally insaniTEA!

Daily Beast — Donald Trump is all about branding, and here’s a striking irony: while his political brand is built on Muslim-bashing, Hispanic-bashing, and, not least, China-bashing, his hotel brand appears to be thriving here in Asia.

Last October, well after Trump’s xenophobic and sinophobic presidential campaign got under way, Trump’s man in China, Eric Danziger, told Chinese state-run media that the Trump Hotel Collection is actively seeking expansion opportunities in Asian metropolises, including Chinese cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen.  …

A former Chinese public servant who acquired a green card through the EB-5 program told The Daily Beast that he never expected a profitable return on his $500,000 investment. This is common, as many projects funded via EB-5 become inactive or are poorly managed. For Trump, who has had four businesses file for bankruptcy, the program is perfect. 

 

 

In fact, during the application process, details of the investor’s previous employment were never called into question—how did a low-level official accumulate half a million dollars to burn, with plenty to spare? The former public servant never had to provide an answer.

 

 

Congressional overseers and the Department of Homeland Security have pointed out the vetting process for EB-5 is lacking, and could be a portal for dirty money and those who possess it to enter America.

So, let’s be clear: Trump-branded procriminal enterprisejects have ignored concerns raised by government overseers and might be actively creating channels for money laundering.

Is this the kind of POTUS that Americans want . . . one that indulges in criminal enterprise for his own profit?  So if elected president, what will come first . . . the country or his profit?  I still really like Huffington Post's disclosure on Trump articles:

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.

Dear Huff Post, I think you need to add some more descriptors for Drumpf like 'criminal' and 'narcissist'.

Think Progress — G.T., who escaped from Eritrea due to political and economic turmoil, works as a steward at a Washington, D.C.-area Hilton hotel. He cleans and washes dishes among other tasks, makes $14.85 an hour, and saves up a portion of his paycheck because he aspires to go to college one day. His life is far different from when he left Eritrea to escape a lifetime of forced military conscription.

Now, G.T. earns a steady paycheck and has become a success story of a controversial refugee resettlement process in the United States that some politicians want to restrict on fears that terrorists could come into the country through this manner.  …

Last year, U.S. politicians began tearing into the refugee resettlement process, claiming that terrorists could potentially come into the country disguised as refugees because the country lacks a rigorous refugee application process. As testimony to their fears, as many as 31 state governors rejected refugee resettlement in their states after the terrorist attacks in Paris, France. Roughly 800,000 people have been resettled in the country since 9/11, but not one refugee has been arrested on terrorism charges.

In spite of these vicious claims against refugees, G.T.’s successful integration into U.S. society stands out as an example of the reciprocal, beneficial relationship that refugees and local communities can have on one another. Some local politicians see refugee resettlement as a way to revitalize their cities and to harness talent and skills for entry-level jobs that many native-born Americans may not necessarily want to do.

So what is the Republican line . . . shiftless, lazy, uneducated, thieves, and terrorists?  All refugees are not alike but the vast majority are honest, hard working people who want nothing more than safety and the opportunity to properly provide for their families.  Properly supported, refugees will add to the community making it a more vibrant place to be.

My Universe — OK, equal time for all the dawg lovers out there!

 

 

 

Share
Jul 092016
 

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."

Frankly, I did not expect to be sharing this story of grudgingness today.  I try to find outrages that go under the radar, as it were, and, although this is a followup to an earlier story you may remember, I still expected it to be picked up by other sites and get a lot of publicity.  I was wrong.  I find that sad.

"Please accept our condolences on your loss,” explained a letter from the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority of New Jersey. “After careful consideration of the information you provided, the authority has determined that your request does not meet the threshold for loan forgiveness. Monthly bill statements will continue to be sent to you.”

The recipient of this letter received no direct benefit from the loan in question, and indeed, no indirect benefit, such as being related to someone who has increased earning power, which sometimes comes to those who graduate from college.  The student, the borrower, was her son.  And he was murdered last year.

The loans were not Federal loans.  The Federal Government has provisions to give some relief to borrowers who experience life-changing circumstances – such as losing a job.  Wken non-Hodgkins lymphoma survivor Chris Gonzales was laid off by Goldman Sachs, the Federal Government suspended his federal student loan payments.  However, he had also received some loan funds from New Jersey – which sued him and confiscated his state tax refund.

Marcia DeOliveira-Longinetti, the bereaved mother who received the letter quoted above, has been forced to make 18 monthly payments of $180 to the state.  Only 92 to go.

Not every state administers its own student loan program (states that do not do administer their states' share in the Federal loan programs.)  Two that do are New Jersey and Massachusetts.  But, in Massachusetts, there is automatic debt forgiveness if the borrower dies or becomes disabled.  New Jersey, on the other hand, goes aggressively after loan repayment regardless of the circumstances.  And, since federal law does provide some possibility of relief, New Jersey pretty much stopped giving federal loans some years ago, substituting their own loans instead.

But New Jersey will sell students taking out loans life insurance!  My, what a big heart!  Knock yourself out, Megaera.

There is another story, this one of vengeful destruction, which needs to be told.  THere is a church in Kansas where a volunteer in 2014 attempted to rape and electronically solicit two girls under fourteen who attended the church.  Last year he pleaded guilty to these charges.

The volunteer, who was seventeen, at the time of the crime, had a string of past sexual conduct and crimes behind him, but was still allowed to be around children without supervision.  On June 9 of this year, the girls and their families filed a lawsuit against the church, alleging that the church violated its own protocols, thereby allowing the assaults to occur.

Naturally, the church has filed a petition asking the court to require the victims and their parents to identify themselves publicly before the case can proceed.

Wait a minute, you are probably saying to yourself.  What is this church?  Westboro Baptist?  That's in Kansas, right?  Well, no, it isn't Westboro Baptist, though it is a Southern Baptist church.  It's just creepily similar.  Its name is Westside Family Church.

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has been a victim advocate for 28 years, and has never seen a petition like this before in a case involving children, and only occasionally when the victim(s) are adult.  And children these victims still are.  If they were under fourteen in 2014, they cannot now be older than sixteen.

Clohessy called the move "a shameful move by officials who profess to be 'Christians.'"  I concur.  Tisiphone, you know what to do.

(Note: the photo of mother and son shows the mother and son in the story.  The photo of the girl is a stock photo from Shutterstock, which AlterNet picked to illustrate the narrative.)

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross-posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/3997742

Share
Jul 072016
 

I have a bit of time before my brother and his wife and friends arrive for a very short visit and then a cruise up the Alaska coast.  They fly in today and I will take my brother and SIL to see my mother who they have not seen in almost 3 years tomorrow.  And speaking of mum, I had her out to the specialist for another botox treatment.  I left my house at 10:30 and did not return until 17:00 so I was very tired.  For me, it is more an emotional tired.  On Saturday, which is my brother's 39th wedding anniversary, all 5 of us (not mum) will travel up the Sea-to-Sky Highway to the Britannia Mine Museum for a tour.  The mine buildings were used a lot in movie and television filming over the years, a second life so to speak, but have now been restored to being a museum.  If you want to see a bit more, check out THIS.  Thanks for your rain Napster!  We have had quite a bit the past few days which has helped with the Burns Bog fire (see below) but has made kids house bound and a bit crazy.  As luck would have it, my physio therapist told me that my walking is much better, almost normal.  I told him to be ready on Monday after my museum visit as I'll likely be very sore.  

Short Takes

1130news.com — Eliza Olson, president of the Burns Bog Conservation Society, is expecting impacts to the wildlife living in one of North America’s largest peat bogs. “I hope most of the birds have fledged and left their nests. If they haven’t, they’re going to be burned. The deer and mammals can move,” she says.

As for the fire retardant being dropped by water bombers, Olson says “one of the ironies is some of the stuff they use actually encourages vegetation to grow.”

“In a peat bog, you want things to grow slowly. Any nutrients added to the bog encourages invasive plants because a bog is naturally nutrient-poor and acidic,” she explains.

The fire has also caused “legacy carbon” stored deep within the ground and peat for more than a thousand years to burn and release into the atmosphere, according to McMaster University earth sciences professor Mike Waddington.

“We see over 200 tons of carbon per hectare is lost in a fire of these sizes,” he says.

Olson said a bog can store carbon 10 times more efficiently than a tropical rainforest and will also release methane if disturbed.

This from Wikipedia about Burns Bog

The major characteristics of Burns Bog is that it is wet, acidic, and peat-forming.[4] It is a wetland ecosystem with a diverse array of plant, animal, and insect species. A major component of Burns Bog is sphagnum moss, which is able to hold about 30 times its weight in water. Sphagnum moss can grow under wet and acidic conditions and it is the major building block of peat in Burns Bog.

Breakdown of organic matter in the bog progresses slowly due to low oxygen content and high acidity of the water.[4]

Burns Bog plays a major role in climate regulation. It helps to maintain the health of nearby creeks, which are critical salmon-bearing sites. The peat in the bog does this by cooling and filtering rainwater that comes in. This water then leeches into these salmon-bearing creeks. Burns Bog is also a major carbon sink. Since organic matter decomposes at a very slow rate in the bog, carbon stays in the bog. High acidity and the waterlogged conditions of peatlands such as Burns Bog prevent complete decomposition of fixed carbon.[4] This prevents the carbon from escaping into the atmosphere.  …

Dry peat can catch and spread fire rapidly. Thus, fires in Burns Bog can burn underground for months in methane-rich peat. Large fires occurred in Burns Bog in 1977, twice in 1990, 1994, 1996, 2005, 2007, and 2016.  …

Another fire broke out on September 11, 2005 in Burns Bog. The fire broke out near the south eastern edge of the bog. Smoke and ash covered the entire Lower Mainland and spread all the way to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. The fire expanded to 200 hectares (490 acres) hectares after three days. Large-scale fighting methods were used to combat the blaze. This included firebreaks being bulldozed and dikes to raise the water level in the hopes of extinguishing any of the fire burning underground. BC Fire Service's Air Tanker Centre dispatched a fleet of air tankers to assist in putting out the blaze. This included four Firecats, two Convair 580s and the Martin Mars water bombers, which are the world's largest air tankers. Eight days after the fire first set blaze, Delta municipality announced that the fire was in "mop-up" stages.

Although this is a local Greater Vancouver story, the effects of bog fires has global ramifications for the environment.  As humans drain bogs to get at the peat or make them ultimately more "useful",  ancient carbon and methane are released into the atmosphere which contributes to global warming.  Even though Burns Bog is on the other side of Metro Vancouver from where I live (about 40 – 50 km away) and the prevailing wind was south-east, I could still see and smell the smoke in the north-east.  Last night, the city of Delta announced that the Burns Bog fire was contained but it is still not out.  The rain and cooler temperatures have helped.

Media Matters — New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that the sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit filed by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes could give 21st Century Fox executives, Lachlan and James Murdoch (sons of Rupert Murdoch)  a way to oust Ailes.

Sherman quotes executives who believe 21st Century Fox’s hiring of outside counsel to investigate the allegations made against Ailes indicate “a coup” inside the network and that “this could be curtains for Ailes.” Sherman reports that “there are signs that the 76 year-old’s luck may have finally expired”:  …

Executives I spoke with over the past 24 hours said the hiring of an outside lawyer is also an indication that Murdoch’s sons may be capitalizing on the Carlson scandal to achieve a long-held goal: forcing Ailes out. “It’s a coup,” one person close to the company told me. If the investigation into Ailes’s management confirms Carlson’s account, or turns up additional episodes of harassment with other Fox women, it stands to reason the Murdoch children would have the leverage they need to push Ailes aside and install a less-right-wing chief. “This could be curtains for Ailes,” another person close to the company said. Indeed, several months after NBC hired an outside counsel in 1995 to investigate Ailes’s alleged anti-Semitic slur, he left NBC.

Well, isn't this just the cat's pajamas!  Why didn't arlson do this long ago instead of putting up with it?  I suspect she would say she was worried about her career.  Here is a petition from Ultra Violet which reads in part:

But Ailes, a serial sexual harasser who has offered promotions for sex and requires female news anchors to display their legs, has yet to face any consequences.

If Fox News does not suspend Ailes, they're sending a message that sexual harassment and the abuse of women is OK in their workplace. All people, regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum, deserve to work in a safe and harassment free workplace and Carlson needs our support.

Public pressure, starting with your signature, will push the network to get rid of Ailes–sending a powerful message that sexism anywhere won't be tolerated.

I was amused by the speculation that this might give the Murdoch's the "leverage they need to push Ailes aside and install a less-right-wing chief."  That might mean (heavy on the 'might') a lot of firings at the network.  I guess we wait and see.  There is also an excellent Alternet piece on this story which TC has covered in his Open ThreadThat piece is more about Carlson and the length of time it has taken her to take action.

CBC — Bassel Mcleash's long journey from Syria to Toronto and finally to Sunday's Pride parade was anything but smooth.

It was a road filled with war, hatred and hardship, which is why the chance to participate in his first Pride parade was so special.  

"To be honest, I'm totally speechless," he said as he moved towards the start of the parade. "The excitement and the emotion that's happening, it's overwhelming. It's too much to handle."

Moments later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stepped in front of the large group of politicians and supporters that Mcleash had joined. At most, Mcleash had hoped to capture a glimpse of Canada's celebrity prime minister.

Standing 5-foot-1, it was easy for the 29-year-old Syrian refugee to work his way to the front of the group and next to the leader of his new country — a spot he didn't surrender for the entire parade route.

bassel6

Bassel McLeash with the broad smile and the big Canada/Pride flag walking next to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"Not in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought about having a day like this, marching next to the prime minister or marching in a Pride," he said.

Read more in the article about Bassel McLeash's journey out of Syria and the additional challenges he has faced as a member of the LGBTQ global community.  Rainbow Railroad is a Canadian organisation helping LGBTQ refugees from around the world.  Read more about Rainbow Railroad at the link provided.  I am repeating the words of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on 01/07/2016: "This is who we are.  This is what we believe in.  This is Canada!"

Think Progress — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is in a bit of hot water.

The trouble started in June, when the Associated Press reported that Bondi “personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump” in 2013 — right around the time she was deciding whether or not to investigate alleged fraud at Trump University. Trump University, of course, is the controversial for-profit school owned by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

It was only four days after Bondi announced she might join an investigation into Trump University when a Trump family foundation gave $25,000 to a political group supporting Bondi’s re-election. After that money came in, Bondi said she would not pursue a lawsuit against Trump University. Two years later — one day before Florida’s crucial primary election — Bondi endorsed Trump for president.

Bondi has so far denied impropriety, calling the AP’s story “false and misleading.” But the situation is not going away, and calls to investigate Bondi over the donation are piling up.

Oh my!  As Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth "Double, double toil and trouble;  Fire burn, and caldron bubble."  I wonder when Republicans are going to take Trump's firey, bubbling caldron — his business acumen, his lying, his xenophobia etc — seriously.  It is already bubbling over and threatening to infect US politics so deeply that the Republican Party is at risk of death.  IMO, as Republicans stand today, no great loss at all.

My Universe

There is something about watching kittens play infront of mirrors that makes one giggle and yes, feel good!

 

Share
Jul 022016
 

Well today is Canada Day, the 149th anniversary of our independence from Britain.  While the American separation from Britain, which is celebrated on the 4th of July annually, was a bloody one, such was not the case for Canada.  The British North American Act, which was "…passed by the British Parliament, created Canada as a new, domestically self-governing federation, consisting of the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec, on July 1, 1867."  Perhaps the Americans taught the British a lesson — don't mess with the colonials — which meant no revolt.  Around my community of Port Moody, BC, we are celebrating Golden Spike Days which mark the completion of the trans Canada railway in Craigellachie, BC.  The actual western terminus is Port Moody.  During construction in the 1870's and 1880's, one section started in Port Moody working east, while the largest section started in Montréal and worked west.  It was on the 20th of July in 1871 that the Colony of British Columbia joined Canada, and it was the promise of a railroad and money that motivated them.  Eastern Canada was afraid that BC would join the US so they really sweetened the money component.  Even now we hear little rumbings that the west coast, or more accurately, the territories west of the Rocky Mountains in both Canada and the US should form their own country potentially named Cascadia.  If you'd like to read a bit more, check out Building the Trans-Canada RailroadThanks to the Napster (Lona) for the emoticon, a Mountie stetson and a moose, both very evocative of Canada.

Short Takes

CBC — Among the thousands of people gathered on Parliament Hill to celebrate Canada Day, some were there for the very first time, celebrating the start of a new life in Canada.

The Toubehs — mother Wejdan, daughter Aziza, 11, and sons Wessam, 17, and Ward, 22 — have been in Canada since December after fleeing Syria's civil war.

Their father, a welder, did not make it to Canada. He was killed in an industrial accident while working in Lebanon as the family waited to gain refuge.

When I see the negativity in the US that surrounds refugees, I will read this story to remind myself that the whole world is not like that.  We have a choice to embrace people in need, or not. I will embrace my neighbours!  I rejoice with this family and the others that have escaped war and uncertainty for a new life in Canada.  I was very happy to see PM Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, meeting with the Toubeh family at the Parliament Hill Canada Day celebrations.  This is a new start for the Toubehs after so much tragedy.  Trudeau is correct when he said to diverse crowd: "This is who we are.  This is what we believe in.  This is Canada!"

Foreign Policy — The first time Yiech Pur Biel boarded a plane, in 2005, it was to escape the war-torn corner of southern Sudan where he grew up. He has lived in a refugee camp in northwestern Kenya ever since. If all goes as planned, the second time he boards a plane, in just a few weeks, it will be to make history. Biel is slated to compete in the 800-meter track and field event at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as a member of the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team.

In the face of unprecedented global displacement as a result of war, despotism, and poverty, the famously apolitical International Olympic Committee (IOC) has made an unprecedented political statement. It has created a team of 10 refugee-athletes from Syria, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ethiopia who will compete not just for individual Olympic glory, but for the dignity of the world’s 65.3 million displaced people. Their very presence in Rio is a call for peace in war-torn nations and acceptance of refugees elsewhere in the world.  …

“It saved my life,” Biel said of Kakuma. “Most of the people, when they’re being called a refugee, they feel ashamed.” But he says the refugee camp not only saved his life; it helped him become who he is today — a high school graduate who is about to compete against the world’s best sprinters in Rio.

“Where I’ve reached now, it’s because of being a refugee,” he said.  …

For his part, Biel is most interested in calling attention to the experiences that he and his new teammates share in common — both what they have had to sacrifice and what they still hope to achieve. “We shall meet as refugees, the 10 of us,” he said, ahead of the games. “We become one team. We are the eyes of the refugees.”

Please, make a point of reading the entire article.  It is truly inspirational.  My ESL student, Lucia, is a refugee from South Sudan.  She and her husband fled South Sudan to a refugee camp in Uganda where her two oldest children were born.  After 7 years in the camp under extremely difficult circumstances, a pregnant Lucia, her husband and two children were accepted to come to Canada as refugees.

Lucia has nothing to do with this Olympic team, but they share something — HOPE! … and a dream!

CBC  — A new GMO labelling law in Vermont is sending ripples through the North American food industry.

Starting July 1, processed foods sold in the state that contain genetically engineered ingredients must say so on the label.

Similar laws exist in countries across Europe, but for now, genetically modified organisms don't have to be labelled in the rest of the U.S., or in Canada.

David Zuckerman

David Zuckerman, an organic farmer and Vermont state senator who pushed for the law, said people in his state want to know where their food comes from. The new law will allow them to decide whether or not they want to buy GMO foods.

"With a labelled product, consumers can make that decision," Zuckerman said. 

Kudos to Vermont!  It would be great if other states and countries would follow suit.  However to be sure, the likes of Monsanto and the food conglomerates will oppose such moves solely on the basis that labelling GMO's might interfere with their profits.  Of course they won't tell consumers that.  Here is another related article.

food & water watch — You’ve heard the controversy about genetically engineered foods (GMOs) and whether they’re safe to eat (and the question of safety is nowhere near settled, despite what the companies that create GMOs would like you to think). But the rest of the story about GMOs is far more complex: for biotech companies, the real purpose of GMOs is power and control over the food supply, and ultimately it’s about profits. The undeniable fact is that GMOs are bad for our environment, our food system, and the people in it.
You can help: tell your members of Congress that you support labeling of GMO foods.

Here are five reasons why everyone should be concerned about genetically engineered foods:

4. GMOs and organics can’t coexist

Trying to keep a farm GMO-free is harder than you might think. Some GMOs don’t stay put where they’re planted. It’s quite common for them to contaminate neighboring farms, or even farms many miles away when pollen from GMO crops drifts on the wind. Seed supplies can be contaminated with GMOs, too. In 2013, an Oregon farmer found GMO wheat in his field – an unapproved crop that hasn’t been field tested since 2005. This is a serious problem for organic farmers, who are not allowed to use GMOs.

Check out the other four points.  It should be up to consumers to decide if they are willing to ingest GMO foods, not companies whose sole focus is profit and power.

My Universe

Freshen

Trying to get rid of the dawg smell!

Get out!

Keep your moneygrubbing paws off my stash!

Good night Kitty

And lastly, the cuteness overload!

Share
Jul 012016
 

I want to get as much rest as I can this weekend.  Tomorrow is shower and housework day.  Monday is the Fourth.  Tuesday is break in a new home health aide day.  Wednesday is a two hour appointment to evaluate my residual vision.  Thursday is grocery delivery day, and Friday is Physical Therapy day.  So I’ll be scarce next week.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:13 (average 5:25).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: here is doing the good deed of calling U.S. Congress members to voice concerns—and then, there is doing that good deed while videotaping your calls. One woman named “Heather Calling” has decided to do both as she tries to get answers on why Republican lawmakers are doing nothing to stop the epidemic of gun deaths in America. You can subscribe to Heather Callings’ YouTube channel here.

In this first video, Heather Calling places a call to the office of Senator Mitch McConnell…

 

Sorry Heather, but Bought Bitch Mitch is not for sale to folks like us. He’s already bought and paid for by the 1%.

From NY Times: Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter on Thursday removed one of the final barriers to military service by lifting the Pentagon’s ban on transgender people serving openly in the armed forces.

“Effective immediately, transgender Americans may serve openly,” Mr. Carter said. “They can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military just for being transgender.”

Kudos to the Obama Administration.

From Media Matters: Laura Ingraham Suggests People Wear Diapers Rather Than Share Bathrooms With Transgender People

 

I strongly suspect that Ingraham already wears adult diapers, as she clearly lacks the maturity to coexist.

Cartoon:

0701Cartoon

Share
Jun 302016
 

Well it has been a busy day  . . . mostly spent slaving over a hot keyboard with this and two other articles,  I haven't even done TC's Open Thread yet.  I did manage to get out to pick up my new cell phone so I'll have to spend some time getting accustomed to it.  Tomorrow is Canada Day and I am staying low.  It may rain anyway, but I have a few urgent matters requiring my attention.  Lucia will be out with her kids so no teaching tomorrow.  A nice rest.

Short Takes

Think Progress — In a blunt letter to Congress, 31 leading scientific societies reaffirmed the reality that humans are causing climate change and only we can stop it. “To reduce the risk of the most severe impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be substantially reduced,” they write.  …

But as long as the media still gives presidential candidates (and pretty much every other major politician) a free pass on this most preventable of existential threats to America, scientists will have to keep “reminding” policymakers of the broad scientific understanding about human-caused climate change.

“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research concludes that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver,” explain the 31 scientific groups. “This conclusion is based on multiple independent lines of evidence and the vast body of peer-reviewed science.'”

I guess the old adage "give until it hurts" applies here.  Certainly the Republican dominated (for now!) Congress is not going to back down from their denial state.  That would mean ignoring their ever fattening wallets.  Of course, if they and theirs don't have a world in which to make more money and spend it, who cares, right?  They are such a bunch of myopic lame-brains!

CBC — The Federal Court of Appeal has overturned approval of Enbridge's controversial Northern Gateway project after finding Ottawa failed to properly consult the First Nations affected by the pipeline.

"We find that Canada offered only a brief, hurried and inadequate opportunity … to exchange and discuss information and to dialogue," the ruling says. …

The Federal Court of Appeal has overturned approval of Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline project because Ottawa failed to consult adequately with First Nations.

Constitutional requirement to consult

The majority ruling was signed by two of the three judges on the Appeal Court panel. Judge Michael Ryer wrote a dissenting opinion.

Pipeline opponents have called the decision "landmark."

"At every turn you're going, you are seeing nails in the coffin of the Enbridge project," said Peter Lantin, president of the council of the Haida Nation, one of the parties that appealed.

"I don't think there's enough room for another nail in the coffin."

It was former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his harlots that rushed that decision through in 2014 ignoring the consultative process.  Not surprising really!  He ignored a lot of First Nations issues and emergencies such as Attawapiskat.  PM Trudeau commented that he does not want to see a pipeline through the Great Bear Rainforest of the BC central and northern coast, nor oil tankers, massive tankers, plying the coastal waters of the Pacific.  I hope this will be the end but the pro-pipeline group is likely to try to take this to the Supreme Court of Canada.  May they fail miserably!

Daily Beast — The battle to become Britain’s next prime minister has descended into a blood-spattered Shakespearean epic within 24 hours of the nominations being opened. Betrayal, intrigue, and backstabbing gripped the Conservative Party at the end of the most dramatic week in the history of British politics.

Boris Johnson, who was the favorite to win the contest earlier Thursday, was forced to pull out of the race when his own campaign manager betrayed him in spectacular fashion.

Johnson is widely thought to have campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union in last week’s referendum as part of a cunning plot to seize the leadership of the Conservative Party from his old school friend David Cameron.  …

In a statement that shocked Westminster on Thursday, he announced he would quit his role as Johnson’s campaign manager and put himself forward for the party leadership.

“I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead,” Gove said. …

“I have never seen anything like it. He’s ripped the Tory party apart, he has created the greatest constitutional crisis in peacetime in my life. He’s knocked billions off the value of the savings of the British people. He’s like a general who marches his army to the sound of the guns, and the moment he sees the battleground he abandons it,” said Lord Heseltine, the former Conservative deputy prime minister and Thatcher-era Cabinet member.

It is not just markets and currencies that have taken a hit from the Brexit vote.  British politics, post Brexit, are starting to look a lot like American politics with backroom deals and skullduggery!  Pip! Pip! Old chaps.  Let's be civil!

My Universe

Run Forrest, run!

Run Forest! Run!

Let’s stay that way.

Some kids can sleep in any position!  Life is tiring when you're so cute!

Share
Jun 102016
 

I’m getting ready to leave for PT with Courtney.  This is today’s only article, and I’ll finish it when I return.  Last night I stayed up late, because I needed to do some scanning, and the scanner in my all-in-one color laser printer wouldn’t work.  It turned out  that my old printer software was incompatible with Windows 10, so I had to upgrade the software and completely reinstall the printer.  It works fine now, but I’m very tired.

I’m back.  I worked hard.  I’m totally pooped!!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:07 (average 5:26).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Oklahoma Highway Patrol began using a new device they have begun using called ERAD—Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine. The device allows a law enforcement officer to scan any credit or ATM cards and seize any money connected with that card.

"We’re gonna look for different factors in the way that you’re acting,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. John Vincent said. “We’re gonna look for if there’s a difference in your story. If there’s someway that we can prove that you’re falsifying information to us about your business."

Troopers insist this isn’t just about seizing cash. 

"I know that a lot of people are just going to focus on the seizing money. That’s a very small thing that’ s happening now. The largest part that we have found … the biggest benefit has been the identity theft," Vincent said.

How do you spell B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T?

From YouTube: Bernie Sanders Speech following White House Meeting with Obama Sanders slams Trump 6/9/16

 

To me that speech strongly indicates Bernie’s intent to work with Hillary. Will those that have made Bernie a cult follow Bernie? I hope so!

From MSNBC: Warren: I’m ready to get in this fight for Hillary Clinton

Senator Elizabeth Warren offers her endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president of the United States, and talks with Rachel Maddow about the Democratic primary and her objections to Donald Trump.

 

"The Republicans underestimated Donald Trump, and look where it got them." That’s what Liz to the people who think they can vote their conscience without changing anything. They are wrong. Liz is right.

Vote Blue No Matter Who!!

Cartoon:

0610Cartoon

Share
May 282016
 

It has been cool and wet here the past few days, but next week promises to be warmer, maybe too warm by my standards.  I've had fur babies around all day, one even trying to write articles for the blog.  Needless to say, they did not make a lot of sense so I deleted them.  Mind, they did make more sense than what any Republican, but especially Trump, could ever write.   

Short Takes

Alternet About a year after the launch of both Sen. Bernie Sanders’ and Donald Trump’s presidential campaigns, it’s easy to conclude that the anti-establishment backlash of 2016 was somewhat inevitable. The incredulity that many in the establishment felt when these two candidates first climbed the polls and took their respective primaries by storm has passed, and now that Trump has locked up the Republican nomination, nothing seems beyond the realm of possibility (including, terrifyingly enough, a Donald Trump presidency).

While Donald is working to secure endorsements from the few remaining GOP holdouts, Sanders is still picking up primary wins against Hillary Clinton. The senator has won in 18 states and is banking on a big victory in California, even though Clinton’s delegate lead is near insurmountable. Barring an FBI indictment of Clinton, Sanders is unlikely to be the Democratic nomination—but he has accomplished more than just about anyone could have predicted (except perhaps H.A. Goodman), and the grass-roots movement that has formed around him represents the future of the Democratic Party.

The author has postulated that the neoliberal policies in vogue since Reagan no longer work.  The choice during this election year rests between a right wing egomaniac, Trump, and a social democrat, Sanders.  The FDR era represented a formidable advance in social democracy that lifted the US out of economic problems.  Unfortunately, Americans have forgotten the advances that brought prosperity.  What Trump offers is more for the elite and nothing for the middle or working class.  We have to keep bringing this to the fore so that everyone understands that Trump offers nothing but fear and hate . . . no positive gains for the average American.

Politico — "[Wasserman Schultz] has a seemingly boundless ability to create conflict for herself wherever she possibly can,” said a Florida Democrat, who, like all respondents, completed the survey anonymously. “In this campaign she has inexplicably managed to infuriate Bernie Sanders and his supporters, while simultaneously doing a disservice to Clinton in her handling of the debate schedule.”

“From the scheduling of debates to cutting off Sanders' vote builder access, [Wasserman Schultz] has seized every opportunity to make the process seem rigged for Clinton in a ham-handed manner,” added an Iowa Democrat. “She is the worst caricature imaginable of an out-of-touch Democratic insider who fundamentally has no faith in the principles of the party and holds the base in contempt.”

Wasserman Schultz's role within the Democratic Party has been controversial and in my opinion, is in danger of splitting the party at a time when the Party cannot afford any discension.  She should be trying to unify the Democrats but so far has done little to bring that to fruition.  Will she stay or go? 

DailyKos — A father of two children, a 7-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl, was attacked when he brought both children into a Walmart bathroom with him during a shopping trip in Clinton, Utah.

"This guy walks in and goes to the bathroom, the urinal,” Adams recalled Tuesday. “Then he just, like, turns to me and starts freaking out, dropping the ‘F-bomb,’ and what he was freakingWill she stay or go? out about was that my daughter was in the men’s bathroom.”

Adams said the man told him it was “inappropriate,” and soon began to push him after Adams gave him a terse response.

With so many existing or proposed bathroom laws, this situation is likely to continue to happen over and over again.  Never mind that fathers have been taking their young daughters into the men's room for decades, and mothers have been taking their young sons into the women's room for an even longer period.  And why?  To protect their young children from sexual predators that prey on the very young.  To be very clear, I make no reference here to anyone in the LGBTQ community.  So, all of a sudden, people have started manufacturing conspiracies around the LGBTQ community and bathrooms.  The fear factor has no basis in fact.

WashingtonPostIt's official: Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential nominee this fall.  He crested the crucial 1,237-delegate threshold earlier this week in North Dakota, taking what was a near-certainty and turning it into an absolute-certainty.

With the question of whether Trump will win out of the way, we can move on to trying to figure out who he will pick as his running mate. I did this once before, but so much has changed — for Trump and for the rest of the party relative to him — that it needed a total overhaul just a month later.

Jodi Ernst, Bob Corker, Chris Christie, Mary Fallin and Newt Gingrich — these are just 5 of the possible VP picks that Trump could make.  Of course there have been other suggestions such as Ben Carson.  One article I read earlier today suggested that any VP pick would be male, which given that Trump is a misogynist, makes perfect sense.  As to the influence of the RNC in this matter we'll have to wait and see.  In another article from Politicususa, the Trump campaign is reportedly broke as it heads into the actual presidential campaign and must rely on fund raising with the RNC.  A big name with apparent drawing power, perhaps like Newt Gingrich, may be the choice.

My Universe — h/t TomCat

 

 

Share
May 242016
 

I had a rough night last night.  I was awakened by an intermittent sharp stabbing pain in my left ankle, and it remains.  What make it particularly difficult, besides ruining my night’s sleep and my morning nap, is that my left ankle is made of titanium and is about three feet away from me.  On the plus side, I called my medical equipment company and told them to come pick up my O2 tanks and concentrator, because my Pulmonologist told me that he doesn’t think I need them anymore.  I really needed that good news.  My turn for some was overdue.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:51 (average 4:45).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Think Progress: Climate education in Oregon just took a big step forward.

Last week, the Portland Public Schools board voted to eliminate the use of any textbooks or other materials that are “found to express doubt about the severity of the climate crisis or its root in human activities.”

“A lot of the text materials are kind of thick with the language of doubt, and obviously the science says otherwise,” Bill Bigelow, a former Portland public school teacher, told the Portland Tribune. “We don’t want kids in Portland learning material courtesy of the fossil fuel industry.”

In his testimony to the board, Bigelow quoted from the book Physical Science, published by Pearson.

“‘Carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles, power plants and other sources, may contribute to global warming,’” he read. “This is a section that could be written by the Exxon public relations group and it’s being taught in Portland schools.”

Other books have also been found to cast doubt on climate science: A review of sixth-grade textbooks in California, for instance, found that the books “framed climate change as uncertain in the scientific community — both about whether it is occurring as well as about its human-causation.”

No doubt the problem of Republican skience replacing science in many of our nation’s textbooks stems from the influence Texas exerts on the publishers. Kudos to the Portland School Board. Oregon leads the way!

From American Bridge PAC: Donald Trump Profited From Companies He Blasted For Outsourcing

Barf Bag Alert!!

 

Rump Dump Trump remains Republican in all the ways that count. What he says bears no relationship to what he does.

From NY Times: Palestinians, settlements and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rendered him effectively unwelcome in Washington and toxic to Palestinians. Yet to shore up his coalition in the Israeli Parliament, Mr. Netanyahu has now offered Mr. Lieberman the office of minister of defense — widely considered to be the second most powerful position in the Israeli government, with a critical role in dealing with the United States and the Palestinians.

Mr. Netanyahu may think his political needs are more important than relations with the soon-to-end Obama administration, relations that are already severely strained by the nuclear agreement with Iran. But the administration had at least established a working relationship with Moshe Yaalon, the tough but pragmatic defense minister who resigned once the offer to Mr. Lieberman became known. The timing of this changing of the guard is particularly sensitive because a critical 10-year defense agreement establishing new levels of American military aid for Israel is in the final stages of negotiations.

All US military aid to Israel should be suspended, as long as Bibi the Butcher continues to slaughter Palestinians, while ignoring Israel’s treaty obligation to pursue a two-state solution.

Cartoon:

0524Cartoon

Share
May 212016
 

Well I still have sinusitis, albeit the end stages I hope.  I am at least able to, for the most part, wear my glasses and read.  Tonight is my last anti-biotic but I am still without a lot of energy.  I have been resting a lot and drinking a lot . . . the hard stuff . . . H2O.  I had physio on Wednesday which, despite being at a reduced intensity, tuckered me out.  Thursday, I took my mother for her annual eye exam and then later in the evening attended my course (next week is the completion).  Friday was more physio and then teaching.  I was really tired by the end of yesterday but had a good night's sleep.  So this long weekend is very low key, a gift I give to myself to hopefully build up some reserves.  This Canadian long weekend celebrates Queen Victoria's birthday and is unofficially the start of the summer season, although summer does not really start until about 21 June.  This is often the "first" camping weekend of the season, and, in many areas of Canada, flowers and vegetable gardens are not planted until after 24/05 because it is generally considered too cold.  When I lived in northern BC, the last snowfall was usually around the end of May.  Here in greater Vancouver, this is not the case as we have a more temperate climate.  Hope you are having a relaxing weekend.

National Law Journal In the alternate universe of John Banzhaf ("When the Rabble-Rousing Turns Criminal, There's A Civil Solution," The National Law Journal, March 28), protesters have taken over the streets and hijacked the political process. Police step back and do nothing. They "yield the streets," sometimes because they are "afraid to make arrests," sometimes because "there is sympathy with their cause." If arrests take place, protesters end up in court and "face only a token fine."

The real world of street protest bears no relation to what Banzhaf describes. In fact, the post-9/11 trend, of which his anti-protester screed is symptomatic, is of increasing hostility to street protest. In the crackdown on peaceful ­protesters, police show no "sympathy with their cause" and are entirely "[un]afraid to make arrests." As a consequence of the amped-up focus on security since 9/11, the "war on terror" has also become a war on dissent.

In my last post, I brought you a piece by law professor John Banzhaf.  In it, Banzhaf argues that protesters who prevent others from hearing a speaker, specifically Trump in that case, are guilty of obstructing freedom of speech and assembly for those attending a Trump rally.  He goes on to say that protesters face few penalties and that police are afraid to arrest protesters etc.  I think you and I would for the most part disagree with Banzhaf on his police point having witnessed police actions in Ferguson, Missouri and other locales.  Author Alan Levine, himself a practising civil rights and constitutional lawyer in NY, sees the current police attitude in general, as impinging upon the freedom of assembly and  the freedom of speech.  Have a look.

MSN — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking from the floor of an institution that once enacted racist policies against large-scale immigration from Asia until the 1960s, apologized Wednesday for the 1914 Komagata Maru incident.

“Mr. Speaker, today I rise in this House to offer an apology on behalf of the government of Canada for our role in the Komagata Maru incident,” he said, triggering a standing ovation with MPs of all major parties applauding. 

“More than a century ago a great injustice took place.”

Trudeau spoke in a chamber filled with MPs and Indo-Canadians from across the country, including a delegation of more than 100 from B.C. who were led by Premier Christy Clark.

Trudeau said Canada would have been richer if the 376 passengers – mostly Sikh along with a handful of Muslims and Hindus – had been allowed to disembark from that Japanese ship.

Many people, including many Canadians, are not aware of the Komagata Maru incident of 1914 in Vancouver.  It is not a proud moment in Canadian history, but I am sure that it is something that Herr Drumpf in the US would endorse.  This from Wikipedia:

The Komagata Maru incident involved a Japanese steamship, Komagata Maru, that sailed from Hong Kong, then a holding of the British Empire, through Shanghai, China, then on to Yokohama, Japan, and then finally to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1914, carrying 376 passengers from Punjab, British India. Of them 24 were admitted to Canada, but the other 352 passengers were not allowed to land in Canada, and the ship was forced to return to India.[1] The passengers comprised 340 Sikhs, 24 Muslims, and 12 Hindus, all British subjects. This was one of several incidents in the history of early 20th century involving exclusion laws in both Canada and the United States designed to keep out immigrants of only Asian origin.

In the park where I walk, there is a memorial to the people of the Komagata Maru.  I'd like to think that we have come a long way since 1914, and maybe we have, but there is still a long way to go before we become a totally inclusive society.

The Economist He was for far too long underestimated. The same must not be said of the threat his egomania and pernicious nativism represents to America and the world.  …

Yet if Mr Trump’s supporters like his message, many are also motivated by disdain for the party bosses who so haplessly opposed him. Exit polls in Indiana suggested half of Republican voters felt “betrayed” by their party. This is a harvest the party sowed in two ways. First, though it is a caricature to suggest, as Mr Trump and others have, that the Republicans have long made fools of distressed working-class whites by offering them God, the flag and tax cuts to the rich, it is a caricature with some truth to it. None of Mr Trump’s 16 rivals spoke convincingly to the concerns of wage-distressed workers; none had a thoughtful answer to them.

Second, years of partisan grandstanding in Congress have discredited America’s entire political process, and the Republicans—especially those of them thrust to power by the party’s previous populist insurgency, the Tea Party—are mainly responsible. The several recent crises Republican congressmen have engineered over the passage of the federal budget, which they sought to hold hostage to their unrealistic and unconstitutional demands of Mr Obama, have earned the voters’ disdain. In that sense, the Trumpian revolt is not a continuation of the false promise raised by the anti-government Tea Party, but its successor. With Mr Trump’s nomination almost assured, its fires, too, must now rage and burn out.

Fear trumps hope!  There is no doubt in my mind that Republicans are finding themselves in a pickle.  But  Trump, as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is not backing down.  In this article and another, Trump's articulated platform will lay waste to just about everything.  To me, it seems that Trump is playing the "American exceptionalism" card.  Has he forgotten that negotiation is not the same as dictating the terms?

CBC WIL-bur-r-r-r-r-r

Actor-comedian Alan Young, who played the amiable straight man to a talking horse in the 1960s sitcom Mister Ed, has died, a spokeswoman for the Motion Picture and Television Home said Friday. He was 96.

The English-born, Canadian-educated Young died Thursday, according to Jaime Larkin, spokeswoman for the retirement community where Young had lived for four years. His children were with him when he died peacefully of natural causes, she said.

Young was already a well-known radio and TV comedian, having starred in his own Emmy-winning variety show, when Mister Ed was being readied at comedian George Burns' production company. Burns is said to have told his staff: "Get Alan Young. He looks like the kind of guy a horse would talk to."

I am sure that many of you will remember Mr Ed, the talking horse.  I used to delight in watching the programme and wondered how the horse learned and said his lines.  I was young and naive . . . what can I say!  Anyway, Alan Young, who played the "straightman" to the horse, passed away 19/05/2016.  Bamboo Harvester, the original Mr Ed, died in 1970.  Here is an episode of "Mr Ed" to take you back down memory lane.

And of course, the theme song for the programme is yet another earworm that Nameless mentions in his Friday post Friday Fun: A Coke – OR Koch – Earworm (In Memoriam) .

A horse is a horse, of course, of course,

And no one can talk to a horse of course

Unless the horse of course, is the famous Mr Ed.

My Universe

Share