Feb 062016
 

Well here it is . . . Friday!  I was out most of the day teaching English to Lucia.  Jonathan got 100% on his math homework and he has quite a bit to do for Tuesday.  I am very proud of him!  I also helped him with a socials assignment, specifically his English writing skills.  All the kids need help that way and take special language arts classes because English is their 2nd language even though most of them were born in Canada.  Monday is a provincial statutory holiday so the kids will be home.  I agreed to help Jonathan again on Monday.  Loliyo, Jonathan's 9 year old sister, needs some help with math and English too so we are devising a programme for her.  There's no rest for the wicked, but yes Lona, I am trying to watch my time.

Short Takes

Huffington Post — Islamophobia is real.  And it's not going anywhere.

Islamophobia

After last year's terror attacks in Paris and mass shooting in San Bernardino, California — and amidst a surge in anti-Muslim rhetoric from U.S. politicians — reports about Muslims in America facing violence, harassment, intimidation and bigotry have become omnipresent. Many Muslims say Islamophobia is worse now than it's ever been — even worse than it was after 9/11.

Islamophobia in the US is rampant, and IMO, unjustifiably so.  Many people go on about Sharia law and how they think it is taking over US law, but they are quite satisfied to live with Biblical law, or at least their version of it, and subject all people, including non Christians, to it.  Isn't that a double standard?  It is to me.  The 1st amendment to the constitution guarantees freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.  Leave religion in the home and the place of worship.  Huff Post has committed to documenting instances of Islamophobia during 2016.  Click through to read the incidences of Islamophobia for January 2016.

Alternet — You know that “TrusTed” logo?   The one with TRUS and TED merged, yet separated via different colors?  

Turns out that when you Google “TRUS”, the logo at once becomes hilarious and hilariously appropriate . . . 

Click through for the reason Cruz's logo is so damned funny and appropriate.  Sorry TC, I know we agreed on restraint, but I couldn't help myself!  I was busting a gut laughing so wanted to share.

Truthout — Across America, corporate interests are taking aim at local government.

With Congress gridlocked and a majority of state legislatures controlled by right-wing interests, cities have become laboratories of democracy for progressive policies like a higher minimum wage, LGBTQ protections, or parental leave.

A demonstrator displays a flag decrying corporate spending in American political elections in front of the Waukesha Convention Center on July, 13, 2015, in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Photo via Shutterstock)

In response, corporate interests and groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have increasingly been turning to state "preemption" measures – some of them unprecedentedly aggressive – to override an array of progressive policy gains at the city or county level.

"2015 saw more efforts to undermine local control on more issues than any year in history," said Mark Pertschuk, director of the watchdog group Preemption Watch.

So which is it . . . government of the people, by the people and for the people OR government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations?  With 2010's Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, it would seem the latter.  It certainly bears out that for there to be progressive reforms, the American people must start by changing local politics and moving up.  Changing local, state and federal representation can be done concurrently, but it still takes time to get all the ducks lined up.

My Universe — 

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TGIF 5

fun1_zpsc5947875Happy Friday . . . and an even happier weekend!

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Feb 042016
 

I have spent a good part of the day reading up about climate change and climate change denial.  That is when I wasn't watching and rewatching "The Littlest Husky".  Tomorrow is a teaching day so I'll have to remain strong to stick to my limits.

Short Takes

Alternet — And in the book the name of the chapter is “The Right is Right” because they’re not right about the science but I believe that they understand the implications of the science better than most liberals in the sense that they absolutely understand that if climate change is real, it is the end of their ideological project. The entire scaffolding on which their attack on regulations, attacks on collective action rests falls apart. Because of course you need collective action, of course you need to regulate corporations, it’s over, it’s game over for them. So they have to do everything possible to deny the science. And what’s amazing to me is how many liberal think tanks devote almost no energy to talking about climate change.

So the issue is how hard it is to change people’s minds when they’re as invested in these ideas ideologically but also funding-wise. Jim Inhofe gets a lot of money from the coal industry. So he was supposed to be the keynote speaker of this particular Heartland conference. It was advertised, people were extremely excited to hear from him. And Joe Bast announced in the morning that James Inhofe was sick and he was not going to be regaling them that morning. People were very disappointed. It came out later — we didn’t know this at the time — I looked into it after, what was wrong with Jim Inhofe because I wasn’t sure, was he really sick or did he just for some reason think it wasn’t a good idea to hang out with these crazies?

And it turns out he really was sick and he was sick because — and he explained this — he’d gone swimming in a lake in Oklahoma and it was in the middle of a heatwave and there was an outbreak of blue-green algae, which is linked to climate change. He basically had a climate change illness. [laughter] And this is why he could not speak at the climate denial conference.

We talk about climate change — rising sea levels, vicious storms, food scarcity, water scarcity — but rarely have I heard mention of health related issues.  They are there and they are manifest.

Foreign PolicyWith an estimated 3 to 4 million people having come down with Zika virus ailments since infected mosquitoes reached the Americas some nine months ago, 23 countries and territories have reported cases, and there are some 4,000 babies that have been born with the skull-misshaping microcephaly, according to the World Health Organization.

“Last year, the virus was detected in the Americas, where it is now spreading explosively,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a speech Thursday to the organization’s Executive Board. “The level of alarm is extremely high.”  

BRAZIL-SENEGAL-SCIENCE-HEALTH-ZIKA-VIRUSAedes aegypti mosquitos are seen in containers at a lab of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of the Sao Paulo University, on January 8, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

My conclusion is that public health leaders and politicians had better brace for a very long haul on Zika. The virus will hide, infecting a range of insects, perhaps monkeys, even birds. And it will return in seasonal cycles, as have other mosquito-carried viruses, such as yellow fever, West Nile virus, chikungunya, and dengue. Because so many “foreign” viruses carried by mosquitoes are now spreading across the Western Hemisphere at the same time, there will be misdiagnosis, mystery, and perhaps acute illnesses due to co-infections. Until we have an effective vaccine and have executed mammoth immunization campaigns in all of the nations of the Americas, Zika will haunt us, sicken some of us, and endanger our babies.

A long but interesting article.  On the news, I heard a tidbit that provoked more thought . . . the mosquitoes carrying the zyka virus require a warm, damp environment in which to survive.  Right now, it cannot thrive in Canada and northern Europe because it is too cool.  But it can thrive in the southern US in areas like the Louisiana Bayou or the Florida Everglades.  What will happen as the planet heats up and traditionally cooler climes start to meet the needs of these mosquitoes?

Scientific American — But experts are still piecing together Exxon’s misconception puzzle. Last summer the Union of Concerned Scientists released a complementary investigation to the one by InsideClimate News, known as the Climate Deception Dossiers (pdf). “We included a memo of a coalition of fossil-fuel companies where they pledge basically to launch a big communications effort to sow doubt,” says union president Kenneth Kimmel. “There’s even a quote in it that says something like ‘Victory will be achieved when the average person is uncertain about climate science.’ So it’s pretty stark.”

Since then, Exxon has spent more than $30 million on think tanks that promote climate denial, according to Greenpeace. Although experts will never be able to quantify the damage Exxon’s misinformation has caused, “one thing for certain is we’ve lost a lot of ground,” Kimmell says. Half of the greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere were released after 1988. “I have to think if the fossil-fuel companies had been upfront about this and had been part of the solution instead of the problem, we would have made a lot of progress [today] instead of doubling our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Experts agree that the damage is huge, which is why they are likening Exxon’s deception to the lies spread by the tobacco industry. “I think there are a lot of parallels,” Kimmell says. Both sowed doubt about the science for their own means, and both worked with the same consultants to help develop a communications strategy.

This article dates to 26/10/2015 but is just as relevant since investigations are ongoing.  You might also be interested in reading Could a Legal Case Save Humanity From Climate Disaster? Exxon Could Face a Big Comeuppance​ in Alternet which is a discussion about Exxon Mobil's corporate accountability and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's investigation of Exxon Mobil.

This from the study by the Union of Concerned Scientists called The Climate Deception Dossiers​, page 22:

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that purports to stand for free-market principles, provides a venue for industry groups to influence policy makers behind closed doors. Leaked internal documents show that ALEC, backed by many industry groups including many major fossil fuel companies such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy, and Shell, continues to serve as an important conduit for climate misinformation and policy proposals designed to block climate action today. 

    The Littlest Husky

    rosie-lilo-huskies.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smartRosie the kitten now feels right at home with Lilo (far right) and her other husky friends.    (Photo: Lilothehusky/Facebook)

    When a husky-loving family discovered a tiny, sickly kitten, they weren't sure if the sweet little thing would make it through the night. They took their chances and introduced the kitty to Lilo, one of the most nurturing dogs in their pack.

    "A little kitten update! Her name is Rosie. She has been with us for about 5 days. She almost did not make it through the first night… Even with round the clock care. She was lethargic and limp," the owners wrote on Instagram.

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    Feb 032016
     

    After mucking about yesterday with a doctor's appointment (just a quick check in), a Costco run for Perrier water (I like the bubbles), and then some chores, I started my post but was tired.  So I decided to relax for half an hour.  I fell asleep not waking until this morning.  Off to the races again with physio, chiropractor, and a wonderful relaxing lunch with a friend.  Ah, a day in the life of a retired person!

    Short Takes

    Foreign Policy — Of our candidates, who do you think would be most popular in Russia?

    Feldman: On the surface, Trump is, of course, terribly similar to Putin.

    Because in Russia, the elections are more like a choice between different aesthetics. That is, you have no chance to have an effect on actual policy. You can vote for the Communists if you’re nostalgic, for the screaming [Vladimir] Zhirinovsky if you want to bang your fist on the table, for [the ruling party] United Russia if you want to show your loyalty, and for A Just Russia if you’re loyal, but not very.

    So in Russia, elections look different. It’s a ritual, a cult. You vote and it doesn’t change anything. Here it’s not like that — but in that way, on the surface, Trump is, of course, very similar to Putin. He’s the closest to this kind of Russian politics.

    FP: In that, by voting for him, you’re more showing who you are than voting for a policy?

    Feldman: Yes.  I was actually at a Trump rally in Cedar Falls, and I had this feeling that I had returned to the Motherland.  

    TC has often referred to Vladimir Putin as Pooty-R(Ru).  In this piece, the author interviews Russian photojournalist Evgeny Feldman who is in the US observing the Iowa caucuses, among other things.  He seems to think that Trump is very much like Putin.

    Right Wing Watch — “I believe that they are positioning themselves so that someday they could invade Israel to be able to take over the vast stores of oil and natural gas that Israel is controlling,” she said, adding that “this very unique new partnership between Iran and Russia in Syria” with the support of China “lines up with scripture.” All of these powers, she said, are seeking “a global world order to keep their game going into the future and to support them if they would invade against Israel.”

    And who will lead this global world order? Why, none other than Obama.

    NUT JOB ALERT!!!!!     BARF BAG ALERT!!!!!     NUT JOB ALERT!!!!!     BARF BAG ALERT!!!!!

    Oh my!  I thought Guano Girl could not get any more batshit crazy than she already was!  I stand corrected.  She out did herself, or maybe it's just been so delightfully quiet without her daily rants and shenanigans that I feel assaulted by her guanoness!

    Huffington Post — Real estate mogul Donald Trump accused Ted Cruz of fraud on Wednesday, claiming the Texas senator "stole" the Iowa caucuses and arguing that "either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified."  

    Trump posed with a bald eagle, named Uncle Sam, for a TIME magazine shoot when he was in the running for person of the year. Nothing is more satisfyingly ironic and metaphorical as this bald eagle-the symbol of American freedom and might-attacking Trump, who only wants to "Make America Great Again."  It is about time that Uncle Sam took Trump to task!

    Trump is a master at sucking the oxygen out of the race by drawing attention to himself with new controversies. The Twitter rant is just one more example of this media strategy, particularly at a time when Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are basking in the glow of their performances in Iowa.

    Cruz responded Wednesday afternoon, mocking the businessman for throwing a "Trumpertantrum."

    Trump sure doesn't like losing! . . . and if there was any doubt about that, his Twitter rant should allay all doubts.  I wonder if he'll threaten to hold his breath if he doesn't get his way?  I can hope can't I?  As much as I dislike Cruz, his response was cool — Trumpertantrum.  LOL!!!

    NBC — Rick Santorum on Wednesday announced he is suspending his presidential campaign and endorsing Marco Rubio.

    "He is the new generation and someone that can bring this country together — not just moderates and conservatives but young and old," Santorum said of the Florida senator during an appearance on the Fox News program "On the Record With Greta Van Susteren."

    Santorum called Rubio a "born leader" best able to help the struggling middle class, support families and combat the terror group ISIS.

    In Open Thread–2/3/2016, TC posted about the Rand Paul, Idiot, Son of Idiot, Named after Idiot, withdrawal from the Republican presidential race.  Now Rick Santorum has also withdrawn which doesn't surprise me at all.  Thankfully, the Clown Car is getting lighter and lighter.  To date, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum have departed the Streetcar Named Desire, aka the Clown Car.  Seven ejected from the Clown Car, 10 to go.

    Politico — Donald Trump has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

    The billionaire presidential candidate, whose controversial comments and hard-edged policy proposals have upset many, was nominated for: "his vigorous peace through strength ideology, used as a threat weapon of deterrence against radical Islam, ISIS, nuclear Iran and Communist China,” according to a copy of the nomination letter obtained by the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Norway. According to PRIO, Trump was nominated by an American.

    From the "OMG, it can't be true!" files, Donald Trump was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.  Whomever nominated the misogynistic hater is demented, even more than Trump himself.  Somebody please tell me that a snowball has a better chance in hell than Trump has as a successful Nobel candidate.When he does not get it, we'll be able to call him "Strike Three" . . . no to Time person of the year, no in Iowa, and no to the Nobel Prize.

    My Universe — 

    ATT530869

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    Feb 022016
     

    I have another very busy day today.  Jeannie (shower-aide) will arrive momentarily.  Arvilla (PT) is coming at 10 AM.  I have the Monthly Report to compose.  I need to set up a schedule for PT and OT after home health ends.  And I need to make a run to my bank.  Now Jeannie just left, and I’m the kind of kitty that’s fun to pet.

    Jig Zone Puzzle:

    Today’s took me 4:21 (average 5:50).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

    Short Takes:

    From Daily Kos: In an apparent attempt to set a new world’s record for projection, House Republicans are now accusing Democrats of wasting millions of dollars of the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s money on partisan nonsense.

    Talk about partisan nonsense!

    Barf Bag Alert!!

    Forming the committee just to beat Hillary is partisan nonsense!

    From The New Yorker: Senator Ted Cruz’s stunning victory in the Iowa caucuses is serving as a beacon of hope to despised people across the nation, a number of disliked Americans confirmed on Monday.

    In interviews from coast to coast, dozens of pariahs said that the Cruz triumph meant that “the sky’s the limit” for widely hated people like them.

    Andy is reporting news again.

    From NY Times: Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont were locked in an intensely tight race in the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday as Mrs. Clinton’s strong support among women and older voters was matched by the passionate liberal foot soldiers whom Mr. Sanders has been calling to political revolution.

    The close results were deeply unnerving to Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as well as her advisers, some of whom had expressed growing confidence in recent days that they had recaptured political momentum after weeks when Mr. Sanders was drawing huge crowds and rising in the polls. The Clintons had appeared optimistic at rallies over the weekend, thanking Iowans for their support as much as urging them to turn out to vote.

    The close vote means that Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders are likely to split Iowa’s share of delegates to the Democratic convention, and Mr. Sanders will be able to argue that the Iowa result was a virtual tie.

    I did not like watching a Hillary supported lying to uncommitted voters that Bernie favors a flat tax, and I thought Hillary’s victory announcement was disingenuous.  Since then Hillary has subsequently been declared the winner, and she gets 23 delegates to Bernie’s 21.

    Cartoon:

    0202Cartoon

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    Feb 022016
     

    Yesterday I said "I shant be lingering to do extra tutoring or Costco runs."  OK, I admit it, I lied. . . sort of.  We did our English lesson and then the kids started arriving home from school.  I ended up checking some math homework for Jonathan, filling out some school related forms for 2 of the kids, and snuggling Regina who got hit by a flying truck thrown by Simon (the baby) and was in tears.  When I scolded Simon, he went into tears and lay claim to the other knee and arm!  JD, I guess God is splitting a gut laughing!

    Tomorrow is less busy, or should I say, less stressful.

    Short Takes

    Huffington Post — This is an interactive automaticupdateat the site where you can see in which precints a candidate leads or trails.

    Iowa Democratic Caucus

    Bernie Sanders was nearly tied with Hillary Clinton in the Democratic race, while O’Malley suspended his campaign before all results were counted.

    Des MoinesCedar RapidsDavenportDes MoinesCedar RapidsDavenport

    Candidate SDEs Delegates
    Clinton 667 28

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Sanders 664 21

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    O'Malley 8

    0

    ∗ The Iowa Democratic Party doesn't report vote counts. It reports State Delegate Equivalents (SDEs), predictions of who will attend the state-wide party convention.

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    3 of 52 delegates in play in Iowa.

    HuffPost counts unpledged delegates who have publicly stated their intent to vote for a candidate.

    1,604 of 1,681 precincts reporting

    Last updated: 

    Iowa Republican Caucus

    Republican voters in Iowa turned out in record numbers for the GOP caucus, showing strong support for Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio finished a close third despite lagging well behind Donald Trump in the polls. Other candidates, like Jeb Bush, failed to gain traction with voters.

    Des MoinesCedar RapidsDavenportDes MoinesCedar RapidsDavenport

    Candidate Votes Delegates
    Cruz ✓ 51,047 8

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Trump 44,837 7

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Rubio 42,577 6

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Carson 17,173 2

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ​•​•

    Paul 8,361 1

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ​•

    Bush 5,165

    0

    Fiorina 3,442

    0

    Kasich 3,441

    0

    Huckabee 3,305

    0

    Christie 3,247

    0

    Santorum 1,768

    0

    Gilmore 12

    0

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    6 of 30 delegates in play in Iowa.

    HuffPost counts unpledged delegates who have publicly stated their intent to vote for a candidate.

    1,655 of 1,681 precincts reporting

    Last updated: 

    Mike Huckabee annouced that he has suspended his campaign.  With Upchuck Huck out of the race, it remains to be seen who else will bow out, if any, before the next round of primaries.  If you ask me, Gilmore, Santorum, and Fiorina should be bowing out next.

    I won't go into an analysis as I am sure that TC will have the final results and his expert indepth analysis tomorrow.

    BTW, a pollster here in Canada was asking people today about what they thought of Trump in the White House. Nationally, 65% of Canadians fear that, while 80% of British Columbians don't want Trump in the White House.  He sure isn't making many friends north of the 49th!

    CBC — The protection of B.C.'s Great Bear Rainforest is now assured, after a decade of complex negotiations between the province, First Nations and industry. 

    Under terms of the agreement announced Monday morning by Premier Christy Clark, 85 per cent (3.1 million hectares) of the forested area of the northern wilderness will be completely — and permanently — protected from industrial logging.  

    Great Bear Rainforest

    Spirit bears are the best known part of the unique flora and fauna of the Great Bear Rainforest that will be protected under an agreement finalized in B.C. Monday. Spirit bears, also known as Kermode bears, are black bears with a unique genetic variation that gives them their cream-coloured fur. (Ian McAllister)

    The Great Bear Rainforest stretches from B.C.'s Discovery Islands, north to Alaska's Tongass Rainforest. Along with Haida Gwaii, parts of which are protected under other agreements, it represents the largest tracts of intact temperate rainforest on Earth. It is home to numerous species of plant and animals, including old growth trees, orcas, grizzlies and spirit bears.

    Moss-covered trees stand the test of time. (Photo: National Geographic)

    From Common Dreams:

    It is "one of the most visionary forest conservation plans on Earth," said Valerie Langer, solutions director at ForestEthics, one of the groups that signed on to the deal. "It is a principled approach that sets a new legal and science-based standard for sustaining healthy forests and maintains intact, old-growth that will keep millions of tonnes of carbon out of the atmosphere."

    As old growth tropical rainforests in the Philipines and Indonesia have been decimated to provided space for palm plantations, so has the old growth temperate rainforest in Canada been decimated for its lumber.  These are not replacable.  I am very happy with this agreement and the process of inclusion that struck the agreement.

    Raw Story — The New York Daily News wasted no time ripping Donald Trump’s surprise loss in Monday’s Iowa Republican caucus.

    trump

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this is a full political science essay from the New York Daily News!  Do you think that the paper is not sold on Trump?

    The New Yorker —  Democrats have some messy internal business to deal with: Bernie Sanders, promoting an American version of People Power, has confirmed his capture of the Party’s under-forty wing, which means trouble for Hillary Clinton.  

    Speaking on CNN as it got late, David Axelrod, President Obama’s former campaign manager, made an acute point. One of Hillary’s problems is that her campaign is largely about herself—her experience, her electability, and her toughness. “I will keep doing what I have done my entire life,” she said in her non-victory speech. “I will keep standing up for you. I will keep fighting for you.” Sanders, on the other hand, rarely mentions himself in his speeches. His campaign is all about his message of taking American back from the billionaires. And as Axelrod pointed out, it is often easier to inspire people, particularly young people, with an uplifting theme than with a resumé.

    Bernie might be older than Clinton, but he is younger!

    My Universe

    9d6ad78d-dc00-48d3-8aca-5162bc4a9fe7Celebrate the Great Bear Rainforest agreement!

     

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    Jan 312016
     

    I completed the Open Thread and went to save it only to get a message of an error, and the content went into cyber purgatory never to be seen again.  I wonder if it was something I said?  Yesterday was busy with teaching.  After finishing an ESL lesson, I tutoured grade 7 math and grade 3 English spelling.  By the time I arrived home at 20:30, the furbabies were ready to lynch me and I was too tired so no Open Thread yesterday.  Today has been much calmer, that is until I lost my thread.

    Short Takes

    Huffington Post — The poisoning of the majority-black population of the city is a product of a system failing the people of Flint on many levels over a long period of time. To really start unpacking the historical roots of the crisis, you have to go back to slavery itself, which debased the humanity and devalued the lives of black people from well before our nation's founding; followed by the Jim Crow era of legal segregation, discrimination, and violence against black Americans, which resulted in early 20th century migrations of black people from the segregated south to urban manufacturing centers of the northern United States. When they got there, they found cities without legal segregation, yet with de facto segregation and discrimination alive and well in both white attitudes and systems. The arrival and growth of black populations in northern cities was followed shortly thereafter by white flight to the suburbs, aided by discriminatory housing policies that effectively prevented the vast majority of black people from joining them and blocked the financing of black homes even in the cities.

    I came across this piece and thought to share it and the following 28 minute video "America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America".  Wallis talks of racism and white privilege as moral issues that are "…in the air that we breathe and the water we drink." At Politics Plus, we often talk about pseudo Christianity and authentic Christianity, especially as it relates to the political scene.  We talk also about white privilege and the political effects.  As Wallis says "So let's change the water — and the air."

    Think Progress — The Ku Klux Klan has gotten a bad rap, according to one Georgia lawmaker. He says the terror group “was not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order” that “made a lot of people straighten up.”

    That leader is now hellbent on stopping the “cultural cleansing” of the South’s heritage. So far this year, State Rep. Tommy Benton (R) has co-sponsored two bills to preserve the Confederate’s legacy.

    Another Republican nutter.

    Mother Jones — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's presidential campaign never really caught steam. In Iowa, he's barely registering in the polls, and in New Hampshire (seemingly friendlier territory) he's generally in sixth place. So with the first votes fast approaching, he's settled on a strategy of attacking the non-Trump frontrunners, particularly Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, as dishonest politicians who are lying to voters.

    This from Pignocchio whose nose is so long that he would be unable to do a field sobriety test of touching his finger to the end of his nose!  That's rich!

    Alternet — “It’s really frightening,” survivor Al Munzer told the newspaper. “When you see these mass rallies that Trump is able to attract, you really wonder: How are they buying into this message of hate?”

    The most direct answer to Munzer’s question can be found in the words of Trump’s followers themselves, who aren’t so much buying into hate as they are enthusiastically supporting the guy boosting the hate and racism they already feel. For all his self-aggrandizement, even Donald Trump wouldn’t likely claim to have hypnotized his supporters. He’s merely speaking directly to a huge demographic of overwhelmingly white voters who want blacks, Mexicans, Muslims and others out of the country they believe belongs to them. This is what they mean by "making America great again."

    We hear a lot of references to Adolf Hitler when talking about Trump and his racist, xenophobic ideas.  I am not enamoured of such talk, but some survivors of Hitler's final solution see distinct similarities.

    Huffington Post — A veteran MP losing his voice to the ravages of Lou Gehrig's disease found an innovative way to make himself heard in the House of Commons Wednesday.

    mauril belanger

    And Mauril Belanger made history in the process.

    This is a story of perseverence and courage.  Mauril Bélanger, MP has represented Ottawa-Vanier for 20 years. Immediately following the Canadian federal election of 19/10/2015, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrigs disease.  Some thought he would step down, but that is not his style.  His voice is greatly affected so he has come up with an idea to allow him to continue.

    My Universe — 

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    Jan 302016
     

    Because Bill Maker is such a funny guy, because his views on most subjects are usually spot on, and because he is almost as irreverent as I am, I bring him to you at almost every opportunity.

    Maher2

    Real Time host Bill Maher closed his show on Friday by sounding almost nostalgic for the era of GOP “zombie lies.”

    “In a very short time, Republicans have gone beyond even the ‘zombie lie’ to just making sh*t up,” he marveled.

    He singled out presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s insistence that she watched video showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing how to harvest the brain of a “fully-formed fetus on [a] table,” a charge she has defended despite all evidence to the contrary proving her wrong. ‘’…

    Inserted from <Raw Story>

     

    If there was something funnier to add, I would, but I loved the way he lampooned Lindsey Poo!

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    Jan 292016
     

    I should never have changed the channel.  See today’s Open Thread to learn why I wish I’d been wearing George.  Clown Car Destruction Derby VII was a debate that reflected  the century.  Unfortunately, it was the 19th century, and the Republicans reflected only its low points.  Unless they are successful at undermining the tattered remains of this Republic, that American apathy has allowed Republicans to shred, and establishing a Republican Reich, in which predetermined elections exist for show only, we may be watching the implosion of the Republican Party.

    0129gop-debate

    Things felt a lot more predictable in the Republican debate Thursday night in Des Moines, Iowa, without the party’s bombastic front-runner.

    Real estate mogul Donald Trump made good on his promise not to show up for the debate after feuding with Fox News over its moderators, a risky move just days before Iowa’s caucuses kick off the election season next week. But Trump’s opponents made sure he was not forgotten.

    “I’m a maniac, and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat and ugly,” Texas Senator Ted Cruz said at the debate’s outset. “And now that we’ve got the Donald Trump portion out of the way…”

    Trump’s absence meant less ad-hominem attacks, but also a lot less spontaneity. Most of the exchanges felt familiar, a rehashing of many of the same disputes seen in previous debates. Cruz once again attacked his Senate colleague, Florida Republican Marco Rubio, for flip-flopping on immigration when he worked on a failed bipartisan reform plan. Rubio, in turn, critiqued Cruz for not supporting defense budgets in the Senate.,,

    Inserted from <Newsweek>

    The following is a complete list of statements that reflect competence.

    [end of list]

    The following is a complete list of good ideas.

    [end of list]

    The following is a complete list of statements that reflect integrity.

    [end of list]

    The following is a complete list of interesting statements.

    [end of list]

    I would include a complete list of lies told but I do not have the Craig super-computer needed to format a collection that asymptotically approaches infinity in length,

    In my goodness and mercy, I shall not assault you with video of Clown Car Destruction Derby VIII

    Fortunately for Iowa, there were other events that day.

    Hillary attended a rally in Newton, Iowa.

    And, saving the best for last, Bernie, with Susan Serandon, attended a rally in Fairfield, Iowa.

    May one of the two be our next President!

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    Jan 292016
     

    Sorry I wasn't here yesterday to post an Open Thread but my arthritis flared up, swelling my fingers and making it too painful to type or use the mouse, although I managed to respond to TC's articles.  I suspect the heavy rains were the catalyst.  It wasn't until late this afternoon that things started to normalise.  Well I know I am in the dog house, so to speak, with my furbabes as Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday they ignored me, completely!  I suspect it may be the reduced rations.  It is amazing though — the power of food — as they started coming to me a bit more.  I think I am forgiven now.

    The Intercept — New FEC filings show that all of the $417,250 in monetary donations to a Super PAC called “Black Americans for a Better Future” comes from conservative white businessmen — including $400,000, or 96 percent of the total, from white billionaire hedge fund manager Robert Mercer.

    donors-theintercept-graphic-v2

    Call the PAC something that it is not in hopes that it will convince some African American voters to get behind Ted Cruz . . . Black Americans for a Better Future, thy name is deception.

    Huffington Post — California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is asking voters to overturn a strict sentencing law he signed nearly 40 years ago because of its "unintended consequences," including a surge in the prison population.

    Brown, in a call with reporters Wednesday, announced a ballot initiative called the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, which he said would likely reduce prison time for many of the 127,000 nonviolent offenders locked in the state's overcrowded correctional facilities. 

    Personally, I think this is  a great move.  Couple it with Obama's recent call to ban solitary confinement for juveniles and as punishment for low-level infractions in federal facilities, and you have the first steps of prison reform.

    Global News — Months after being released from an Egyptian jail, Mohamed Fahmy is adjusting to the life of an academic at the University of British Columbia, talking to students about his experiences as a journalist.

    “It feels very inspiring that I’m actually lecturing students and getting feedback about various topics,” he said.

    He has no shortage of things to talk about. Fahmy spent more than 400 days in prison on terrorism charges after an Egyptian court case that was the subject of broad international criticism.

    From CBC News

    Click through for the interview and short videos to see what Fahmy is trying to do.  I really don't know how much Americans know about the Mohamed Fahmy case in Egypt.  Fahmy, Cairo bureau chief for Al Jazeera English and an award winning journalist, was arrested  29/12/2013 and accused of conspiring with a terrorist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and fabricating news to portray Egypt in a state of civil war.  His journey has been long, unnecessarily so, courtesy of ex-PM Stephen Harper who would not speak to the Egyptian president on behalf of Fahmy.  I support Fahmy.

    My Universe — h/t Ted W and Carol D, Care2

     

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    Jan 272016
     

    Yesterday I learned that I’m making such good progress that I will no longer qualify for home health care after February 12th.  I can go out for PT and OT, but I’ll have to do it much less frequently, because of the copay and having to pay for transit,  The big hurt is that I’ll lose my shower-aide.  Medicare does not pay for long term personal care, and I make just  little too much too much to qualify for Medicaid.  I’m searching for a solution.  The dreaded task did not get done, because the building’s elevator has been out since Sunday night.  It was supposed to be fixed yesterday afternoon, but it was not.  We’ve actually had three day’s of relatively nice weather, and I’ve been trapped here.  ARGH!!

    Jig Zone Puzzle:

    Today’s took me 3:05 (average 5:28).  Do I get a double dawgburger?  To di it, click here.  How did you do?

    Short Takes:

    From Carrie: Donald Trump Fan ?

    A teacher asked her 6th grade class how many of them were Donald Trump fans.
    Not really knowing what a Donald Trump fan is, but wanting to be liked by

    the teacher​, all the kids raised their hands except for smart Little Johnny.

    The teacher asked Little Johnny why he has decided to be different…

    Little Johnny said, "Because I’m not a Donald Trump fan."

    The teacher asked, "Why aren’t you a fan of Donald Trump?"

    Johnny said, "Because I’m a Democrat."  The teacher asked him why he’s a Democrat.

    Little Johnny answered, "Well, my Mom’s a Democrat and my Dad’s a Democrat, so I’m a Democrat."

    Annoyed by this answer, the teacher asked, "If your mom was a moron and your dad was an idiot, what would that make you?"

    With a big smile, Little Johnny replied, "That would make me a Donald Trump fan".

    FOMCROTFPIMPLMAO!!!

    From Daily Kos: This has been a difficult diary to write—not because it is a difficult subject, but because it was so hard to narrow it down to just four governors. Describing the damage that the 31 current Republican governors have done to the United States (and to their own states) would likely take a tome the length of War and Peace. You don’t have the time to read that, and as these men and women are still in office it would be impossible to keep up with the garbage legislation they keep unleashing on their citizens. So let’s just keep it to the top (er, bottom) four:

    4. — Maine Gov. Paul LePage. This is a man who does not have the qualifications to be the county dog catcher. Yet inexplicably, he’s the governor of Maine. He is so petty that shortly after he took office he ordered murals representing working men and women taken down, as they were “pro-union.”

    Now, if that was all he did he would not have made this list. But Gov. LePage is the gift that just keeps on giving. He has no filter when talking about his opponents—think Donald Trump, but worse. In short, he is a bully. Oh, and a racist too.

    But no, we aren’t done yet: He used his political power to have an opponent fired from a job at a charter school. This brief write-up only scratches the surface of Gov. LePage. He is an awful human being, on top of being a lousy governor.

    LePage is just number four. Click through for the bottom three Governors in the US, Republicans, of course.

    From Upworthy: One of the first women of country to really "tell it like it is" was singer Loretta Lynn. She was never shy about her life.

    Her song "The Pill" — released in 1975, 15 years after the birth control pill was introduced— was no exception. Take a listen:

     

    I loved her music. Forty years later, the Republican Party would organize a boycott of her music. Don’t forget what they did to the Dixie Chicks!

    Cartoon:

    0127Cartoon

    Global warming, caused mostly by burning fossil fuels and Republican flatulence, causes extreme weather of all kinds, not just hot weather,

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    Jan 262016
     

    Today was one of those days!  I missed my alarm and awoke 5 minutes before physio.  I was going to be very late so we rescheduled to 14:30.  I promptly fell back asleep for 2 hours.  So much for getting some chores done.  Over 2.5 hours of physio, which included 40 minutes of peddling my sasquatch butt on the recumbent bicycle, I was done. Tomorrow I take the furbabes for their annual checkups and vaccinations.  I am guaranteed to be tired after corraling the beasts and transporting them.  Their godfather (the vet) will be very glad to see them!  When I saw my mother Sunday, I told her that her grandcats said "meow, meow, meow!" and she gave me a big smile.

    Short Takes

    Alternet — … William J. Kruvant described the process in a 1975 journal article:

    “Disadvantaged people are largely victims of middle- and upper-class pollution because they usually live closest to the sources of pollution—power plants, industrial installations, and in central cities where vehicle traffic is heaviest. Usually they have no choice. Discrimination created the situation, and those with wealth and influence have political power to keep polluting facilities away from their homes. Living in poverty areas is bad enough. High pollution makes it worse.”

    Environmental racism.  I had not heard the term before, but it certainly makes sense.  And that same idea also extends to poor people.  I remember as a small child living in a small house in a very working class neighbourhood. Next to the house (within 20 feet) was a railroad line that carried industrial supplies so trains were heavy and rattling. On the other side of the tracks was a canal, heavily polluted with industrial waste. Directly across the street was a hydro-electricity plant, and just across the canal on the same side as the plant, was the Massey Ferguson plant (manufactured farm implements) and all it's spewing of pollution.  As soon as they could afford it, my parents moved us to a neighbourhood away from the pollution.  Click through to see 7 US communities of colour subjected to a toxic assault.  Here is the report mentioned in the article: Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty 1987—2007 .  Look at pages 124-133 to see New Orleans, post Katrina, and pages 134-151 to view Dickson County, Tennessee.

    Huffington Post — A Texas grand jury has indicted two anti-abortion activists in a case involving covert videos on fetal tissue procurement talks with Planned Parenthood and found there was no wrongdoing on the part of the health group, a district attorney said on Monday.

    The grand jury decision was a result of a probe launched last year under Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, who accused Planned Parenthood of the "gruesome harvesting of baby body parts." No evidence was provided by Texas to back the claim.

    Good news!  Now will there be a conviction when the case goes to trial?

    Mother Jones — On Monday, the US Supreme Court permanently laid to rest North Dakota's controversial "fetal heartbeat" law that would have banned abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

    After a series of appeals, a federal judge again ruled the law unconstitutional in July. Once more the state appealed the ruling and it went to the Supreme Court. But the court on Monday refused to review the lower court's ruling, effectively overturning the ban.

    More good news!  

    My Universe — 

    ATT530861

    Brody in the powder roomAnd that's not all the dog blocked!

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    Jan 242016
     

    I just came back from visiting my mother, and all is fine.  When I awoke this morning, it was a bloody miracle that I had not literally rolled out of bed onto the floor.  My three furbabes were lying across the bed and had pushed me towards the precipice of the bed.  Tomorrow is physio and a day that perhaps I can catch up on some chores.  My student has an appointment elsewhere so I won't be teaching.

    Short Takes

    CBC — In her solipsistic return to the campaign trail last week, Sarah Palin blamed President Barack Obama for the fact that her military reservist son punched his girlfriend in the face, then drunkenly threatened to kill himself with an assault rifle before winding up under arrest, facing criminal charges.

    Track Palin had been "fighting for you-all, America," shouted his mother in Oklahoma, suggesting that her son's time in Iraq eight years ago left him with PTSD.

    "It is now or never, for the sake of America's finest, that we have that commander-in-chief that will respect them and honour them!"

    The audience roared.

    New friends. Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin endorsed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Iowa State University on Tuesday.

    Ah geeeee buttercup!

    Palin then explained that the better commander-in-chief would be Donald Trump, her pick for the Republican presidential nomination.

    Veterans, you see, would never punch their girlfriends or need to be handcuffed by police if Trump was president. They'd feel his deep respect, and calm down and be more nurturing.

    I know, we're all getting tired of Sarah Palin.  But CBC senior correspondent, Neil Macdonald, has a way of getting to the truth in a succinct way, laying waste to her BS.  Too bad the Republican base, intoxicated by fear, won't hear the truth.

    Alternet — The Republican Party’s “serious people” wing has issued an anti-Donald Trump manifesto in the vaunted conservative journal, National Review. The piece is filled with irony, humor and blunt assessments of how the GOP is crumbling from within. But it’s all there, confirming everything that’s been said about what Trump represents and how he has exacerbated the Republican Party’s identity crisis.  

    A dictator who will make Obama’s executive orders seem quaint.

    “Equally troubling is his idea of the presidency — his promise that he’s the guy, the man on a white horse, who can ride into Washington, fire the stupid people, hire the best people and fix everything. He doesn’t talk about policy or working with Congress. He’s effectively vowing to be an American Mussolini, concentrating power in the Trump White House and governing by fiat.”

    — David Boaz, Cato Institute executive vice president

    To paraphrase Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "How do I hate thee?  Let me count the ways."  This is the 2nd of "18 Reasons Why Donald Trump Is a Vulgar, Two-Bit Caesar, According to America's Conservatives".  To make things worse (or maybe not) from a conservative point of view, the RNC has folded its tent dealing with Trump.  The party would appear to be imploding on itself so I read earlier this week.  Click through for the rest.  If nothing else, it gives progressives a chuckle.  But don't be lured into complacency, he's dragging a lot of low information, disaffected conservative voters along with him.

    Mother Jones — In the summer of 2010, she [Jane Mayer] published a pathbreaking, in-depth piece, headlined "Covert Operations," which chronicled the rise of the Kochs' ideological network—dubbed the "Kochtopus"—and the efforts of the publicity-shy libertarian brothers to guide the burgeoning tea party toward policies that favor Koch Industries. The article depicted the Kochs as secretive bankrollers waging a war against President Barack Obama and opposing environmental safety measures. The Kochs were enraged by the story. A lawyer for their company complained; David Koch called the story "ludicrous." But the New Yorker saw no reason to correct anything. And the kerfuffle seemed to die down. Or so Mayer thought.

    The Kochtopus

    Click through for the rest of Mayer's fight against the Kochtopus.  The article she wrote in 2010 that angered the Kochs, "Covert Operations" is a long but interesting piece.

    My Universe

    catnip_operation

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