Aug 282016
 

This article is a laundry list of what people should know before casting their vote.

Trump Scandals

Donald Trump has been the center of scandals way before his entrance to politics. From dishonest business dealings and racial discrimination to other horrible incidents have been rampant throughout Trump’s lifetime. While some scandals are larger than others, all are immoral and show a side of ‘The Donald’ that he seems to be rather proud of.

We will take a trip to Trump’s past to witness his mafia ties and alleged marital rape, to racial discrimination and ‘the Great Wall of Mexico’, we’ve covered it all in this collection of Donald Trump scandals that goes back to the 70s.

21. That’s not available to you (1971 – 1975)

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In 1973, the Department of Justice sued Donald Trump and his father for Trump Management’s discrimination against people based on their race and color – people who wanted to rent from one of Trump’s 39 sites around New York. At the time, the New York Times reported that the company would tell people of color that apartments were not available or require different terms and conditions from them because of their race.

20. He hired undocumented illegal immigrants (1980)

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In all his talk of immigrants “taking” jobs from people, Trump hired 200 undocumented Polish workers to demolish the Bonwit Teller store when constructing Trump Tower. The workers weren’t able to follow safety procedures as they weren’t given hard hats, slept at the construction site, and got paid $5 per hour for all of it – if they were paid at all! The illegal immigrants were threatened with deportation when they complained or asked about payment.

18. He executed a hostile takeover (1986)

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Wanting to expand his Atlantic City casino empire, Trump planned and executed a hostile takeover of Holiday and Bally’s in 1986. He bought up stocks in the companies with an attempt to gain control and avoid paying the control premium, but thankfully, Bally’s realized what the cunning Trump was trying to do and sued him for antitrust violations.

12. Third Bankruptcy (2004)

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Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts was $1.8 billion dollars in debt and once again filed for bankruptcy in 2004. They reemerged as Trump Entertainment Resorts with Trump no longer having a controlling stake, but still chairman of the new company.

7. ACN Scam (2010)

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In 2010, which was a hop and a skip away, Donald Trump opened up an investment company called ACN. In it, investors had to hand over a $500 sign-up fee and then build a consumer base of new investors. How did he even get away with this pyramid scheme? Obviously, the entire thing toppled over and investors lost hundreds of thousands of dollars while Trump walked away with millions.

From UpVibes 

Click through for the remaining 17 incidents from Trump's past that indicate how he would likely run the US.  Words such as fraud, liar, racist, xenophobe, opportunist, manipulator and more all come to mind.  I would love to slap that smug mug at the top of the page.  Unfortunately, the article is spread over numerous pages but it is worth plugging through to remind ourselves just what a "criminal" he is. Fortunately, each page is short. Trump likes to remind everyone of "Crooked" Hillary.  With this past, he's the crook.

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Aug 282016
 

There seems to be no end to the bluster of Donald Trump.  Truth is not in his lexicon while shameful lying and manipulation are.

Trump anoints himself as civil rights crusader at N.H. rally: Hillary Clinton's policies "failed and betrayed communities of color in this country"

At an afternoon rally Thursday, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump repeatedly brought up “inner-cities” as part of an ongoing appeal to minority (primarily African-American and Hispanic) voters — with whom he’s polling abysmally — offering his go-to “What the hell do you have to lose?” rhetorical argument.

Democratic policies, Trump said, “produced only more poverty, complete joblessness, and failing schools.” And Clinton’s policies “failed and betrayed communities of color in this country … She has brought nothing but pain and heartache and broken promises to your inner-cities. On top of that, she wants to raise taxes on African-American-owned businesses to as much as nearly 50 percent more than they’re paying now.”

“She supports open borders that violate the civil rights of African-Americans, giving their jobs to people here illegally,” he continued at the Manchester, New Hampshire event. “She supports trade policies that have closed factories in African-American communities and put millions of African-Americans and others — all of us — out of work.”

From Salon

"…broken promises to your inner-cities…"!  This struck me as condescending, racist and very, very Trumpish!  It is very apparent that not only is Trump manipulating the "facts", it is corporate decisions, greed and Republican policies for the most part that have lead to corporations moving elsewhere in search of dirt cheap labour among other things.  GREED!  Can you smell it?

 

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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 11:22 am  Politics
Aug 062016
 
furies

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

I try not to feature occurrences that are too new (like, say, yesterday) or which have received a lot of publicity – there are plenty out there under the radar more in need of the Furies' attention.  In this first item, the fact of it being under the radar actually IS the story.

On Friday, July 22, Germany was rocked by news of a terrible event – a young man shot multiple people outside a shopping center in Munich.  It became clear that the shooter, Ali David Sonboly, had Iranian ancestry; no one in the media hesitated to link him with Islam.  He was styled as "German-Iranian," and rumors spread that he had shouted "Allahu Akbat" before shooting (spoiler: he didn't.)  Right-wing politicians did their best to use the shooting to spread hatred and fear against Muslims, migrants, and refugees.

But once the dust cleared, the inident changed into a "classic shooting rampage" instead of an "act of terror," and quietly disappeared from news feeds.  Why?  He was not a Muslim, but a right wing extremist.  It wasn't the West he hated, but Turks and Arabs.  His hero was Anders Breivik who, five years to the day earlier, had killed 77 people in Norway.  His other hero was Hitler, with whom he considered it "an honor" to share a birthday.  Seven of his nine victims were Muslims or of Muslim background.

Sonboly's racist ideology was spawned in Central Asia, all right, but it was anything but Muslim.  Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan all consider themselves to be the cradle of the Aryan people (who lived 3,000-4,000 years ago and scientifically have little to do with the historical, or maybe I should say pre-historical Aryans.)  "Iran" actually means "land of the Aryans," and when Iran changed its name from Persia in 1935, both Afghanstan and Tajikistan responded with variations on "Who do you think you are?!!?"

German authorities mostly do not hesitate to link every rampage with Islam, but when right-wing terrorism takes place, they do their best to obscure the roots of the crime. This week, Bavaria's Interior Minister, Joachim Herrmann, insisted that Sonboly “probably had no links with right-wing networks.” And shortly after the massacre, Bavarian government and police officials claimed that there was no political motivation behind the massacre, claiming Sonboly had chosen his victims at random. According to this logic, a mass killer must shout “Allahu Akbar” in the midst of his murder spree for his political motives to be acknowledged. Everything else, no matter how clearly influenced by rightist ideology, is just a classic shooting rampage.

As long as right wing terrorism continues to be trivialized as isolated "rampages," and not treated as terrorism from the right, we in the west will make no progress toward suppressing terrorism at all.  Germany is by no means alone in this; it happens in the United States constantly.  Another case of decisions made on "facts" insteat of on facts are mostly very poor decisions.  Well, Bavaria is quite beautiful, Tisiphone.  Stop in to look at Neuschwanstein while you are educating Bavarian government officials.

I also have a couple of incidents related to rape culture, possibly appropriate in a week when a Presidential candidate and his number one son have said or implied that "strong women" do not get sexually harassed.  Yeah, right.

The situation in this story from Utah (but which could have happened anywhere) seems to me to illustrate just how extensively complaints of rape are routinely dismissed.  "In the most recent account, four women who reported that they had been raped by the same man were ignored by the Utah State University’s Title IX office, and by the police detectives investigating the complaints in Logan, Utah."

Had not reporter Alex Stuckey of the Salt Lake Tribune dug into this, no one but the victims (and the rapist) would even know the rapes had occurred.

Reporter Alex Stuckey of the Salt Lake Tribune conducted an in-depth investigation of a pattern of alleged rapes committed by an unnamed assailant. The first assault was reported in January of 2015; the fourth in December. The male student continued remained on campus until spring of 2016, when he graduated.

The four women did not know one another, and they all filed separate reports. Three of the women were Utah State students and reported the assaults to their school. Title IX, the federal statute passed in 1972 that mandates equal treatment of the sexes in education, requires that “schools must take action if there is a potential continuing threat to students.”

In stories that echo the disturbing details recounted in Jon Krakauer’s book, Missoula, which documented a spate of rapes in the Montana college town, police seemed more interested in helping preserve the reputation of the alleged rapist than in helping the women prosecute the man who had hurt them.

Click through for additional details of the attacks and the sham "investigations" conducted, if you haven't been nauseated enough by the brief summary I quote.  The prosecutor claims to be looking at the case more closely.  Alecto, maybe you can hold her feet to the fire.

Just in case anyone thinks the above story doesn't address sexual crime against strong women, this third story should lay all doubt to rest on that point.  It's had more exposure than the other two, as far as I can find (and I'm already late), so I'll be brief.

A prominent feminist writer and columnist said she is being forced to abandon social media after receiving rape and death threats against her 5-year-old daughter.

On Twitter, Jessica Valenti wrote: “This morning I woke up to a rape and death threat directed at my 5 year old daughter. That this is part of my work life is unacceptable.”

You know, after you've said that, what do you say?  Jessica goes on with several more tweets elaborating on the facts of this situation, and what an impossible position it puts her in.  I expect anyone here could have come up with every point.  Unacceptable?  Yes.  Of course.  But Facebook, Twitter, and law enforcement all seem to accept it just fine.  Megaera, everyone else already has an assignment.  But you are going to need reinforcements.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4003531

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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 9:24 am  Politics
Jul 302016
 
furies

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

I was afraid I wouldn't have a primary link for this section, because I worked from an email.  But, bless them, Roots Action has links to many months of emails on their site, so I do.  The subject line of this email was "Irony-free zone: Congress 'appreciates' whistleblowers."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Furies and I will be back.

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

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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 12:16 am  Politics
Jul 162016
 
furies

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

I doubt if anyone can have forgotten quite so quickly, but Alton Sterling was killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, LA, on July 6, 2016.  On July 8, roughly 500 people came to downtown Baton Rouge to peacefully protest this killing.  They met at a Methodist church near the corner of France and East, where they were met by about 100 officers dressed in riot gear.  (Parenthetically, there is a meme going around to the effect that if you want to know who is rioting, maybe you should look at the ones who came dressed for it.) 

In order to protect the protesters from being arrested just for being in the street, a homeowner invited them to come into her yard to continue the protest, which seems to have consisted primarily of chants of "No justice, no peace!"   After 90 minutes, the officers charged the crowd.  This caused protestors to scatter.  Many ran down a side street.  Of those who did, perhaps 100 were arrested for "obstruction of a highway."  (In other words, for "just being in the street.")

The homeowner told CBS News she was “stunned” by police behavior.

“I kept telling them: ‘This is my property, please do not do that, I live here,’” she said.  “They just looked at me and ignored the things I was saying.”

“I’m very upset,” she told CBS News. “I’m stunned at the behavior of police officers that utilized, from what I understand, the ability to take someone that I guess they targeted that was actually on the street, to bombard my yard and bombard my house.”

Throughout the confrontation, police threatened to arrest all journalists without credentials.  The Daily Beast and other media were forced into a 10-foot wide zone.  They threatened to arrest any who put a foot into the street.  The following day, at least three journalists were arrested, including a credentialed news director with WAFB.

I think the Daily Beast headline summarizes it pretty well:  "Baton Rouge Cops Throw Protestors Into Street, Arrest Them for Being There."  That's a good catch, that Catch-22.  I think this qualifies for your interest, Tisiphone.

Meanwhile – well, no not actually meanwhile; this happened last month, in Canada, at an Urban Planet store, where a young woman – aged 18 – was working.  For some reason, she ate some seasoned nuts, which turned out to include capsicum (pepper) in the seasoning mix.  She almost immediately went into anaphylactic shock.  Her supervisor refused to assist her, but a co-worket got her assistance.  She nearly died – anaphylactic shock does that to a person.

Now, if I were a retail store owner, or manager, an incident like this would lead me to read up on anaphylactic shock, in which case I would learn that an Epi-pen is the emergency treatment of choice, and that it's not ALL that difficult to keep one on the premises and train staff how to use it.  If I were foolish enough to consider my employees expendable, it would still occur to me that a customer might one day have this happen, and that it could lead to a huge lawsuit which could financially cripple me.  So I would take steps to acquire an Epi-pen.

That was not the reaction Danielle encountered.  Instead, she was fired.  BY TEXT MESSAGE.  The message read, "Hi it's (name withheld) I gave your shifts away this week and unfortunately I won't be scheduling you any longer.  We will mail your last paystub to you.  Take care, wish you all the best."  The co-worker who drove her to the clinic was also fired by – text message.

Now, we could talk all day and all night how Danielle should have read the ingredients (assuming she even saw the package), but the fact is, allergic people considerably more mature than she and who have had allergies longer than she's been alive have had similar things happen.  It's an easy mistake to make.  And besides, a person with allergies can go into anaphylactic shock at any time, including upon contact with a known allergen which has never before caused a severe reaction at all.  But let's say it's all her fault.  Still, NOBODY deserves to be fired by text message.  Am I out of line to call ths story a Grudge Report?  Megaera, Urban planet is a chain.  I think maybe the top management needs to be educated on this.

Moving right along, over to Georgia, where Jen Hayden asks the question, "How quickly can police ruin an innocent man's life?" and proceeds to show a video which goes from, "What's your name, man?" to "All right, tase him" in 38 SECONDS.

Summary of the video:

24-year-old Patrick Mumford was sitting in his own car in February, 2016 when he was confronted by three Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Officers, who were serving a warrant for another man, Michael Clay.

The lead officer confronts Patrick but does not believe Patrick when he truthfully identifies himself to the officer, twice. Patrick rightfully asks the officers what is the matter and to see the arrest warrant they say they are serving.warrant

Fearful and confused, Patrick retreats into the passenger seat of his car. Within 38 seconds of his initial introduction to the officers, the lead officer is ordering Patrick to be tased for non-compliance.

It takes a violent use of force for officers to realize what we already know: they have the wrong guy.

Rather than apologize, the officers rationalize and justify their actions to horrified neighbors and even Patrick's parents. These rationalizations include the repeated false statement that the officers asked Patrick for his ID.

Patrick is arrested for obstruction. As a non-violent drug offender serving in a first-offender probation program, a pending probation violation could cost him his job, his college education, and seven years in prison: all for sitting in his own car, minding his own business, and telling the truth.

Now you may be wanting to point out that Mr. Mumford is already on probation, so he is not perhaps technically innocent.  However, if you do, I will respond by reminding you that what he is on probation for is a non-violent drug offense, which is exactly the type of offense for which the "War on Drugs" was designed to get black people off the streets by locking them up.  You have just had the word "offense" drummed into your head for so long you have completely forgotten it was a "crime" made up out of whole cloth.  I hope his probation officer will support him.  Truthfully, some will and some won't.

In any case I hope we can agree he doesn't look any more like Michael Clay than Leonardo diCaprio looks like Johnny Depp.  And, Alecto. this has just been going on too long, foever and ever, world without end.  And it needs to stop.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/3999054

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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!

 

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Jul 032016
 

I won't say it has been a busy day, but I have not sat idle.  I have this post and have finished the PP Monthly Report.  The weather has been rather muggy today but no rain.  Fortunately there were few fireworks around me yesterday so the furbabes were calm until this morning when a group of crows decided to dance along the peak of the garage roof.  They were not happy that going out to play was not allowed.  My brother and his wife will be arriving late Thursday for 2 days before boarding an Alaska bound cruise ship.  As a result, I will be scarce Friday and Saturday.

 

Obituary — Elie Wiesel, age 87, activist and writer, Second World War death camp survivor who won a Nobel Peace Prize for becoming the lifelong voice of millions of Holocaust victims, philosopher, speaker, playwright and professor.  Rest in Peace

 

Politico — Jackie Richter is the foul-mouthed, frank-talking owner of Heels and Hardhats, a small construction company near Rockford, Illinois. For almost half a century, she lived as a man—an existence the 58-year-old transgender woman told me felt fundamentally wrong, like always having to wear her right shoe on her left foot. But in the summer of 2010, a few years after she finished transitioning, she applied for a United States passport saying she was female. That September, she got it. This, she said recently, was the first time she felt the full support of the federal government. The document saved her business, saved her family, and—she believes—saved her life.

And for this, she credits Hillary Clinton.

"None of it would have been possible without what she did,” Richter said. “She was a forerunner on this.”

160630.jpg

It’s not a label typically associated with the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Over her quarter-century of national public life, Clinton mostly has enjoyed broad support from LGBT voters, donors and activists, but many of them considered her a laggard on the litmus-test issue of marriage equality, which she didn’t endorse until 2013. And during her surprisingly drawn-out primary fight with Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton consistently was cast as the more centrist candidate. Sanders, not Clinton, was the full-throated social revolutionary.

But five years before the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage and President Obama lit up the White House in the colors of the rainbow, Hillary Clinton and her staff at the State Department made a change that for thousands of people was exactly that—revolutionary.

I think that Clinton walks a line, or thinks she has to walk a line on some issues as illustrated in this quote.

Clinton, thought Julie Dorf, a senior adviser for the Council for Global Equality, was “quite comfortable” with the policy “personally.” But “politically,” Dorf told me, “she’s so much more calculating and cautious.”

She is a pragmatist, but as such, she might tend to keep some more progressive actions low key.  Unfortunately, for others, that pragmatism can cloud things.

Alternet — Given all of his antics on the campaign trail, Donald Trump might seem like he's in a class by himself when it comes to pettiness. This is a man, after all, who narcissistically patted himself on the back for predicting terrorism would happen again, even as the bodies of the Orlando victims were still being identified, who celebrated the sharp drop in value of the British pound because it helped his golf course, and who has hissy fits when reporters point out his foibles and lies. He has openly talked about all the people who will regret “mistreating” him once he becomes King…uh, President…of the United States. There is little doubt that, should the unthinkable happen, President Trump would go down in history as a serial abuser of political power, hammering the final nails into the coffin of the Party of Lincoln (or the ghost of what remains of it).

But petty politicians are certainly not a new phenomenon. They existed in the past, and carry on today. And abuses of power need not always mean history-shaping acts of evil. Sometimes they can just be…well…small and petty. Here are some acts of political entitlement, some just bratty, some actually evil, committed by politicians that The Donald would, and in at least one case, does, feel right at home with:

4. Humberto Benitez Trevino, Attorney General for Consumer Protection, Mexico

Humberto Benitez Trevino received a call from his daughter Andrea in 2013, and got an earful, as she complained how Maximo Bistrot, a trendy Mexico City eatery, was being mean to her. It was lunchtime, she wanted her favorite table, and they said it was not available. Daddy sprang into action. Trevino was the official in charge of Profeco, Mexico’s Consumer Protection Agency, and clearly his daughter, a consumer, needed protection. Soon several officials from his agency showed up at the bistro, and, in short order, they found several “violations,” such as incorrect reservation policies, and mislabeling of mescal. The restaurant was closed down. Sadly for Humberto, his daughter decided to brag about the incident on Twitter. Consumer outrage at such corrupt pettiness ensued, earning daughter Andrea the nickname “Lady Profeco”. Internet memes even began to pop up. The restaurant was reopened. Oh, and Humberto was fired.

Click through for the other five petty politicians.  I had a good chuckle but was surprised that Canada's former PM Stephen Harper didn't make the list.  After all, "Tony Turner, a physical scientist at Environment Canada and longtime singer-songwriter in Ottawa's folk music scene, wrote the controversial tune Harperman. Turner was sent home in mid-August, according to his union, over concerns that his song breached Environment Canada's value and ethics code." (CBC)  There were some suggestions from Harper that this was inapropriate.  Incase you need a laugh here is the video.  It is very explicit about Harper's failures.

As to those politicians noted in the article, I liked the outcome of Mexico's Humberto Benitez Trevino — You're fired!

YoutubeWe can always count on John Oliver for a fresh telling of current events with a goodly dose of humour.

For your listening pleasure on this long weekend if you live in the US or Canada.  Otherwise, just enjoy!

My Universe

Out from the barbershop

Boris Johnson and Trump discussing Brexit

 

Chilling machine

My turn for lying in the hammock for the weekend!

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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!

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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

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Jun 302016
 

On 29 June 2016 the Three Amigos, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, and US President Barak Obama, met in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada's capital city, to discuss a whole laundry list of items.  Pena Nieto and Trudeau met earlier and agreed on at least two matters important to the two nations: 1) the lifting of visa requirements for Mexicans travelling to Canada which the Harper government instiituted out of fear of a flood of refugees; and 2) the reintroduction of Canadian beef to Mexico after Mexico banned Canadian beef because of the occurrence of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.  After the Summit, Obama spoke before a joint meeting of the House of Commons and the Canadian Senate.

The arrival at Parliament Hill.  You can see in the background one of the towers encased in scaffolding.  As in the US, Conservatives have let some infrastructure deteriorate, even the Prime Minister's residence.

CBC — What did the Three Amigos discuss?

The talks hadn't even started between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto when statements began circulating about what they'd agree on.

Climate change

Obama was barely off the plane when the White House announced a joint environmental action plan. (Canada's release soon followed.)

As CBC News reported earlier this week, the three countries want 50 per cent of their electricity to come from clean power generation by 2025. The plan includes support for cross-border transmission lines, including infrastructure for renewable energy.

There's also a plan to tackle short-lived pollutants, including cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector between 40 and 45 per cent by 2025, reducing black carbon (soot) emissions and finding alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). 

There were a number of things up for discussiion including climate change, trilateral trade, border issues, economic competitiveness, human rights, and security.  Click through for a report on the other five.  Now, if the three countries could only produce an equitable plan that benefits each.  The protectionism is getting a little much, and with the possibility of a Drumpf White House, things will get even worse.  At the end of a Q&A, Obama went on a "rant" about populism and Drumpf.

CBC — "If you'll allow me, I want to say one last thing because it has been a running thread in a bunch questions … this whole issue of populism," Obama said. 

The president then suggested someone take a minute to look up the meaning of the term populism — to represent the interests of the common people — that is often used to describe Trump's campaign style.

Obama said he got into politics to help people, to make sure the poor had the same chances to succeed as the wealthy, that working moms had trustworthy child care, that the tax system was fair and that children were getting a "decent education." 

"Now, I suppose that makes me a populist," Obama said.

"Somebody else who has never shown any regard for workers, has never fought on behalf of social justice issues or making sure that poor kids are getting a decent shot in life, or have health care — in fact, have worked against economic opportunity for workers and ordinary people — they don't suddenly become a populist because they say something controversial in order to win votes. That's not the measure of populism, that's nativism, or xenophobia, or worse. Or, it's just cynicism."

Drumpf's style?  I'll take substance over style any day!  Drumpf is only out for himself first, then other wealthy 1%ers.  It was good to hear Obama comment on Drumpf.

After The Three Amigos Summit, Pena Nieto left and Obama stayed in Ottawa to address a joint session of Parliament.  I think the last American president to address Parliament was Bill Clinton.  What follows is Obama's address in its entirety.

From the CBC — U.S. President Barack Obama handed the torch of progressive politics to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Wednesday in a warm, rousing speech to Parliament, in which he also bluntly urged Canada to spend more on defence to meet its international obligations.

He praised the extraordinary alliance and deep friendship between Canada and the United States.

"We see ourselves in each other and our lives are richer for it," Obama said.

"The enduring partnership between Canada and the United States is as strong as it has ever been and we are more closely aligned than ever before."

I was particularly amused by Obama's comment about why Ottawa was chosen as the capital — its distance from the American border.  During the War of 1812, the Americans sacked York (now Toronto).  The British returned the favour by crossing the border and burning down the White House.

CBC — The American president's speech to the House of Commons will inevitably be described as historic, because Canadians still really love Barack Obama. We think he might secretly be Canadian. …

… Obama managed to pack in tolerance, diversity, multi-culti, climate change, the duty of hard power to keep peace while punishing evil, the imperative of fighting inequality and discrimination and bigotry and nativism, our collective moral obligation to fight the outrage of poverty abroad, the need to make decisions based on fact and evidence, a rousing call to eliminate diseases and produce the first AIDS-free generation and a plea to recognize that some values are universal, and that we should set aside timidity and unabashedly fight for pluralism, equality and tolerance. …

It's hard to imagine any other world leader singling out the Trudeau government's effort at reconciliation with indigenous people, even using the uniquely Canadian term "First Nations."

And it was good to hear an American president effectively concede Canada was right all those years ago to engage Cuba, rather than try to isolate and destroy it, and even understand the Canadian fear of American tourists, with all their money and, well, Americanism, flooding back onto Varadero's beaches.

Let's face it, speeches are just words.  To have meaning, there must be truth and sincerity behind them.  For the most part I agree with Obama.  Nobody, no country is perfect.  But if we strive to move forward with justice for each other and for the planet, we will accomplish much.

 

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