Oct 132016

I haven't posted for some time for a number of reasons, most recently because I fell out of bed in the middle of the night and landed on my shoulder/arm and neck and then got a cold that turned into a wicked sinus infection for which I am still taking anti biotics.  So here we go with an Open Thread and another separate piece.  Not much else going on.  The furbabies, like usual, are here beside me sleeping peacefully.

Short Takes

Maclean's — Canada is a leader when it comes to collaborating on global issues, rockstar Bono said Saturday during his keynote address at a Montreal conference to fundraise for AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

“It’s just great to see Canada leading on this,” he said. “You’ve always been ahead of the curve in realizing we can do more if the international community works together and subsuming your ego into the grand plan.”

Bono was joined onstage by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates for the second and final day of an international donor conference that hopes to raise $13 billion to replenish the Global Fund for the fight against these three major infectious diseases.

Canada has already promised more than $800 million for the 2017-19 funding period.

Thank you Bono!  Another reason I am a proud Canadian.

CBC — No hard feelings, eh.

Canada, spurned not long ago at the United Nations, is once again staking out a coveted spot at the foreign policy dais.

Justin Trudeau will address the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, delivering his maiden speech as Canadian prime minister at the high-level diplomatic forum that had an acrimonious relationship with this country's previous government.

The 71st annual session of the largest diplomatic conference in the world presents the first opportunity in a decade for Canada to rebrand itself under a new Liberal leadership — not just as a global power broker, but as the progressive voice of international diplomacy.

Six years have passed since the country's historic loss in its bid for a seat at the UN Security Council; five since Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird struck a combative tone at the Assembly, telling the chamber in New York that Canada refuses to "go along in order to get along" on international affairs.

Baird once dismissed the UN as a "debating club for dictators."

Although this article is a little dated now, to me it is still relevant.  In 1964, a UN peacekeeping force was created to, according to Wikipedia "…prevent a recurrence of fighting following intercommunal violence between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order and to facilitate a return to normal conditions."  Canada, under PM Lester Pearson (Lib) was part of that force.  I was 12 at the time.  In 1993, Canadian L Gen Roméo Dallaire was the Force Commander for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, a supposed peacekeeping mission in Rwanda which unfortunately failed.  (http://www.romeodallaire.com/).  Jean Chrétien (Lib) was the Prime Minister.  This is how I like to see my country's actions — peacekeepers — and it is when I have been most proud of it.  So to see PM Justin Trudeau grab the bull by the horns and launch Canada back into peacekeeping commitments was, well, the way it should be.  Harper and his harlots had ecshewed the UN in no uncertain terms.  So, we're baaaack!

Raw Story — First Lady Michelle Obama on Thursday directly addressed allegations that Donald Trump groped and touched women inappropriately.

“The fact is that in this election, we have a candidate for president of the United States who, over the course of his lifetime and the course of this campaign has said things about women that are so shocking, so demeaning, I simply will not repeat anything here today,” she told a crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire. “And last week we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexually assaulting women. And I can’t believe that I’m saying that. A candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women and I have to tell you that I can’t stop thinking about this."

Well said Michelle Obama!  It is about time that people of influence denounced Trump and his Republican sycophants for their shameful rhetoric and lies about women and girls.

ReutersAmericans should vote for Donald Trump as president next month or risk being dragged into a nuclear war, according to a Russian ultra-nationalist ally of President Vladimir Putin who likes to compare himself to the U.S. Republican candidate.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a flamboyant veteran lawmaker known for his fiery rhetoric, told Reuters in an interview that Trump was the only person able to de-escalate dangerous tensions between Moscow and Washington.

By contrast, Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton could spark World War Three, said Zhirinovsky, who received a top state award from Putin after his pro-Kremlin Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) came third in Russia's parliamentary election last month.

Another one for the books!  Click through for more and a video.  Definitely a "Barf Bag Alert" needed!


My Universe


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)


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)


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)


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)


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)


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.

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?



Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 11:22 am  Politics
Aug 062016

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


Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 9:24 am  Politics
Jul 302016

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


Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 12:16 am  Politics
Jul 162016

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