Apr 302016
 

Even though I slept well yesterday, I still feel tired today, so I plan to rest quite a bit.  Julie is due in about 40 minutes to fluff and buff me and do some light cleaning,  Later: Julie a couple hours ago, and I’m now a cuddle-ready kitty!!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today;s took me 3:57 (average 5:04).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From PR Watch: Ironies abound in the 2016 agenda for the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which brings together corporate lobbyists and state legislators at luxury hotels to vote side-by-side on "model bills" that then pop up in states across the country.

This spring’s Task Force Summit, to be held in the glittering Omni William Penn hotel on May 6 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, features [Koch suckers delinked] a discussion on "Taxpayer Funded Lobbying Disclosure."

ALEC is not worried about the corporate lobbyists stacking its board and committees, or the taxpayer money being shelled out so some politicians can afford the swank Omni, or direct government subsidies to ALEC (like Tennessee’s $100,000 grant approved recently to underwrite a future ALEC conference in Nashville). No, ALEC is worried about city and county governments that join statewide associations to lobby state government for funds to provide services to everyday people. Stomping out this type of public interest "lobbying" is a big agenda item of the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity and part and parcel of ALEC’s agenda to preempt local democracy.

ALEC’s efforts to handcuff local democracy are just one of the highlights of ALEC’s 2016 Spring Task Force Summit agenda.

Click through for an excellent overview of the ALEC agenda, Take toilet paper because of what it will scare out of you.

From NY Times: In the landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court held in 1963 that the state or local government had to provide a lawyer to any defendant facing prison time who could not afford his or her own. This was no minor decision. Approximately 80 percent of all state criminal defendants in the United States qualify for a government-provided lawyer.

Yet despite this constitutional guarantee, state and county spending on lawyers for the poor amounts to only $2.3 billion — barely 1 percent of the more than $200 billion governments spend annually on criminal justice.

Worse, since 1995, real spending on indigent defense has fallen, by 2 percent, even as the number of felony cases has risen by approximately 40 percent.

Not surprisingly, public defense finds itself starved of resources while facing impossible caseloads that mock the idea of justice for the poor… [emphasis added]

When you combine this travesty with the all too common problem of prosecutors hiding exculpatory evidence because every case lost jeopardizes their careers, it should not surprise you that there are many innocent people behind bars. Click through for more info.

From Crooks and Liars:

If only our politicians had any common sense whatsoever many people would not have to die so needlessly for these politicians’ NRA indebtedness.

 

It’s getting hard to tell the difference between comedians pretending to be Republican Ammosexuals and real Republican Ammosexuals.

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Apr 302016
 
furies

I only have one article this week which I feel calls for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with it. 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." But I have a little bonus at the end.

I'll quote a lot of the article with just a few comments at the end –  it's from the Sikh Coalition and passed on by Wired for Change.  H/T JL.

April 27, 2016 (Amarillo, TX) – The Sikh Coalition filed a complaint with Texas law enforcement agencies on behalf of Mr. Daljeet Singh today, demanding that criminal charges be brought against individuals who falsely accused Mr. Singh of making a bomb threat and who unlawfully restrained him on a bus.  Mr. Singh was a passenger on a Greyhound bus traveling through Amarillo, Texas on February 21, 2016, when he was falsely accused by a fellow passenger of making a terroristic threat.

“The only crime I committed was wearing a turban, having a beard, and speaking in a different language to another brown man on a bus,” said Mr. Singh. “I still cannot believe that this happened to me in America.” Mr. Singh, a limited English proficient asylum seeker from India, wears a turban and beard as part of his Sikh articles of faith.

The allegations, which were made by a fellow passenger, were completely fabricated. The passenger profiled Mr. Singh and then alleged that he had been discussing a bomb threat with a second passenger. Mr. Singh was jailed for approximately 30 hours. During that time, local news outlets linked Mr. Singh’s name to terrorism charges.

“When you actually see something you should say something,” said Sikh Coalition Senior Staff Attorney, Gurjot Kaur. “However, what happens when you see nothing and concoct a story that is completely baseless because you don’t like the color of someone’s skin, their religious headwear, and the fact that they speak a different language? There must be consequences when bigotry and xenophobia trump common sense on a bus deep in the heart of Texas.”

The Sikh Coalition filed a complaint in Potter County against the first passenger for knowingly filing false charges against Mr. Singh, and an additional complaint was filed against two other passengers who unlawfully detained him on the bus. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Potter County prosecutors' offices cleared Mr. Singh of all criminal wrongdoing.

“Nobody deserves to be treated this way in our country,” said Ms. Kaur. “We trust that local law enforcement will treat our complaint with the same vigilance and vigor as the initial complaint received.”

One wonders, doesn't one, how an English-only speaker, listening to a conversation in Punjabi, could tease a bomb out of what was heard.  In fact, I mentioned to JL that the story reminded me a little of a story by Isaac Asimov, without Asimov's sanity.

Asimov's eavesdropper's first language was Russian, and the story was writtten while the Cold War was alive and well.  This Russian eavesdropper was holding his own conversation in Russian with a friend, while at the same time listening to a conversation in English between two Columbia University students.  He was absolutely convinced that these students were plotting in broad daylight and before witnesses to grab a third person, tie him up in a dark place, and murder him.

In this series, the "Black Widowers," each story takes place in a restaurant.  All the club members try to figure out what really happened, and all fail.  Only the waiter, Henry, can see through the mystery – because, as he claims, he has no sense of drama and therefore doesn't get distracted.  You can find the story on line here, or if you have access to physical books, it's the fifth story in the second collection. 

Henry's explanation of how he solved it is, I think, very revealing of the state of mind which leads to false reports like this:  "You felt New York to be a jungle, so you heard jungle sounds. For myself, I prefer to suppose college students would sound like college students.”

Dear Furies, I do believe the passenger who made this false report, as well as the two who didn't but who physically restrained Mr. Singh to keep him on the bus, need some re-educating.  However, it is also possible that the local authorities will need some prodding and/or persuasion to pursue charges.

I have one other item to share which is not directly a job for the furies, but is an educational tool for all of us.  It's being Podmade available now in advance of June being Torture Awareness Month.  It's really designed for smartphones, and to be viewed through a cardboard "blinder" to enhance the sense of isolation.  It is a simulation of solitary confinement.  Because descriptions are not enough.  Since not everyone has a smartphone (I don't), there is also a PC version.

I heard about it from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.  But the app and 360-degree video were created by The Guardian (Kudos to them).

The Furies and I will be back.

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Apr 232016
 

Yesterday I posted two articles, after saying I would not, because Earth Day was too important to pass by.  I had a hard workout at PT, even though I missed 1/3 of my time, because the TriMet Lift Bus was way late.  Mostly, they’re pretty good, but when they blow it, they really screw the pooch.  Julie is coming to preen my kitty feathers this morning.  I need it.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:23 (average 5:50).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Recent diaries and comments have ridiculed discussion of the lawsuit filed in New York on Tuesday regarding voter purges, claiming that it’s just a bunch of whiny Independents who couldn’t be bothered to re-register as Democrats in time.  Although that is an issue — if you decided in December you wanted to vote for Clinton or Sanders, it was too late for Independents to make the change in order to be eligible — and one of the remedies requested by the lawsuit was an open primary, that was not the main cause.

Thousands of properly registered voters were purged from the voter roles, or had their registration changed from Democrat to unaffiliated, or were new voters and their registrations weren’t processed in time or again they showed up as unaffiliated instead of DEMOCRAT, and thus were unable to vote through no fault of their own.

And now Diane Haslett-Rudiano, the Board of Elections Chief Clerk in Brooklyn has been suspended and will likely be forced out because she made an error that caused more than 100,000 people to be improperly purged from the voter roles in Brooklyn.

She was trying to clean up the books — which must be periodically purged to eliminate people who die, move or are ineligible for other reasons — and skipped one of the steps that was built in to stop the system from purging eligible voters, the sources said.

Brooklyn lost 102,717 — or 8% — of its active voters from Nov. 1 2015 through April 1, 2016, according to state stats.

It’s the only county in the state that lost voters in that time period.

The high number of dropped voters — combined with other issues like long lines, late starts and inadequate equipment — prompted both the City Controller and the state Attorney General to launch investigations into the widespread irregularities.

There is no reason to believe that the Brooklyn voter purge was done intentionally to target Bernie supporters, as some have claimed. And I still consider open primaries contrary to the purpose of primaries: to allow the members of a political party to chose which candidates will represent that party in the general election. However, every state needs to have means to allow people to register as a member of their party of choice within a reasonable amount of time (hours or days, not weeks or months) and correct an accidental purge instantly. Contrarily, New York’s laws are the most archaic in the nation and need a complete overhaul.

From The New Yorker: After rattling many of his supporters by expressing tolerance toward transgender people, the Republican front-runner Donald J. Trump clarified on Friday that he still opposes women who were born women.

“The media has, per usual, tried to blow my words out of proportion,” Trump said on the Fox News Channel. “Just because I happen to think transgender people deserve our understanding in no way means that I feel that way about women who were born women.”

Trump said that any attempt to twist his words to apply to “women in general” was deeply offensive to him. “I have made my views about women very clear and to suggest that I have somehow changed those views is really, really hurtful,” he said.

Across the nation, Trump supporters who had been alarmed that the candidate had seemingly strayed into something resembling empathy were greatly relieved by his clarification.

Dang Andy!! I was starting to worry that Fecal Dump Trump might actually come out in support of allowing women pee in the women’s room!!

From The Boston Globe: Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage is vetoing a bill that would allow people to buy a lifesaving drug overdose antidote without a prescription.

Rachel Maddow covers this travesty in detail.

LePage made it clear that he wants people who overdose to die. Since he associates, Black people and heroin use, it doesn’t take rocket science to recognize the Republican Racism in his decision. As a former volunteer firefighter, I have administered Narcan and seen it take someone from delirious and seizing to stable in seconds. As for LePage, only one word us vile enough to describe him. Paul LePage is a Republican.

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Apr 142016
 

Yesterday Lu came for the last time.  She was about four hours late, but getting the day right was an improvement.  So I’m a perfumed puddy tat.  My groceries came.  I put them away.  I also did the dreaded task! Eye rolling smile  Tomorrow I have an appointment with a Retinal Ophthalmologist to check out my choroidal nevi.  The appointment will take three hours, and I’ll be unable to use a computer afterwards until late tomorrow night.  So expect only a Personal Update, please.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:51 (average 4:33).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily KosWhen Scott Walker came into office, he claimed that he had no interest in trying to get “Right to Work” laws passed. Unfortunately for the people of Wisconsin, Scott Walker is a liar and a terrible person. In fact, he and his fellow Republican legislators introduced an ALEC inspired written bill making Wisconsin a Right to Work state. Since the bill was signed into law, Wisconsin’s workforce has diminished by at least 10,000. Wisconsin is hemorrhaging jobs because Right to Work laws don’t have anything to do with generating living wage jobs, or much in the way of real work, at all. Three unions filed lawsuits against the bill, arguing that the law posed an unconstitutional seizure of union property, and on Friday they received some good news:

Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust agreed. He said the law amounts to the government taking union funds without compensation since under the law they must represent people who don’t pay dues. That presents an existential threat to unions, Foust wrote.

"While (union) losses today could be characterized by some as minor, they are not isolated and the impact of (the law) over time is threatening to the unions’ very economic viability," he wrote.

This judgement, [sic] calling the law unconstitutional on the grounds that it is an “existential threat,” could have some far-reaching ramifications in the many Republican-backed legislatures that really want to put the screws to the working folk of this country. The importance of this ruling also means that there will be further appeals.

This issue is far from settled, but any day the Koch-sucking Fartfuhrer of Fitzwalkerstan takes a loss at any level is a better day for America.

From Real Clear Politics:

Polling Data

Poll

Date

Sample

MoE

Cooper (D)

McCrory (R)

Spread

RCP Average

1/18 – 4/11

44.0

41.0

Cooper +3.0

WRAL-TV/SurveyUSA

4/8 – 4/11

701 LV

3.8

47

43

Cooper +4

Elon University

2/15 – 2/17

1530 LV

2.5

42

40

Cooper +2

PPP (D)

1/18 – 1/19

948 RV

3.2

43

40

Cooper +3

It looks like the Religious Reichsfuhrer of the Theocratic Republican Dictatorship of McCrorystan is also experiencing backlash from his hatred and bigoted policies.

From TPM: Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, will not be prosecuted in Florida for battery after he allegedly manhandled a reporter, Politico reported on Wednesday night, citing unnamed sources.

CNN also reported that Lewandowski will not be prosecuted early Thursday morning, citing unnamed sources.

What a travesty!  Don’t get me wrong!  I have no bias favoring his victim.  The reporter he assaulted worked for Breitfart, a source for which I have so little regard, that I refuse to embed links to it.

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Mar 252016
 

I have been in a cold induced fog since last Saturday.  I have spent most of the time in bed sleeping as my face was swollen from what I thought was a sinus infection.  Today I am feeling almost human and just returned from lunch with friends.  I also picked up my new laptop today so now comes the learning curve.  Because of my cold, I did not teach on Monday which bummed me out because I had some English and French books for 8 year old Sareena.  But my 2nd student Neda, her mother and the wife of my physiotherapist, brought over a pot of delicious chicken soup which was so sweet to do.  Now you know what I had for dinner last night and what I shall have again tonight!

Short Takes

Moyers & Company — They represent everything wrong with the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton should tell them to take a hike.

There are two Democrats whose resignation from office right now would do their party and country a service.

Their disappearance might also help Hillary Clinton convince skeptical Democrats that her nomination, if it happens, is about the future, and not about resurrecting and ratifying the worst aspects of the first Clinton reign when she and her husband rarely met a donor to whom they wouldn’t try to auction a sleepover in the Lincoln Bedroom.

In fact, while we’re at it, and if Secretary Clinton really wants us to believe she’s no creature of the corporate and Wall Street money machine — despite more than $44 million in contributions from the financial industry since 2000 and her $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs, not to mention several million more paid by other business interests for an hour or two of her time — she should pick up the gauntlet herself and publicly call for the departure of these two, although they are among her nearest and dearest. And we don’t mean Bill and Chelsea.

So, can you guess who these two might be before going to the article?  How about this as a hint?

emmanuel-wasserman-schultz-composite-1024x576-1024x576

Over the last several years, there has been a lot of controversey around both Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic National Committee Chair and a Florida congresswoman.​  Read on to see how Bill Moyers sees things.  What do you think?

Politico — Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić was convicted of genocide in Srebrenica, several counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes by a United Nations tribunal on Thursday and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Karadžić, now 70, is the most senior Serb leader convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia of genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the Bosnia war in the 1990s, including the killing of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica and the 44-month siege of Sarajevo.

Justice has been a long time coming.  Will Baby Bush, Chickenhawk Cheney, Rumsfeld et al ever see the inside of a courtroom to stand trial for war crimes?  Will there ever be justice for the Iraqi people?

Huffington Post — I believe it is vitally important for men like me to acknowledge this as loudly and openly as role models do like President Bhandari, the US First Lady Michelle Obama and activists like Malala. As the First Lady has said, change needs to come from the bottom up. We won't unlock these opportunities for young women and girls unless we can change the mindset of every family and community. To achieve this, it cannot just be women who speak up for girls.

"When women are empowered, they immeasurably improve the lives of everyone around them — their families, their communities, and their countries. This is not just about women, we men need to recognize the part we play too. Real men treat women with dignity and give them the respect they deserve."

This is what we, as a global community, need to hear and talk about and act upon until we get it right.

Politico — While the jihadist threat is genuinely global, it is by no means equally distributed. There is, of course, no such thing as perfect security, and as we saw as recently as the San Bernadino shootings in December of last year, there are individuals in the United States who are prepared to commit violence against other Americans. But the European context underlying the attacks at Brussels Airport and the downtown Maelbeek subway station — one of alienated, underemployed and ghettoized Muslims as well as subpar security differs dramatically from anything found in the United States.

As I read, this last line particularly caught my attention — "…one of alienated, underemployed and ghettoized Muslims as well as subpar security differs dramatically from anything found in the United States." But how long will that last with the likes of either Drumpf or Cruz as a potential POTUS?  In TC's article Brussels Unprepared, I commented "…their rhetoric, their potential actions only serve the cause of further radicalisation by alienating vulnerable Muslims, especially youth who are often at odds with older generations already."  Drumpf would remove all Muslims from the US, asinine and impossible as that is, while Cruz would have heavy surveillance of all Muslim communities, effectively 'ghettoising' Muslims and discriminating against them.  In that same article, Lona, who lives in the Netherlands, left a very informative comment, one that provides detail that is not found in North American media.

My Universeh/t Ted W and Carol B, Care2

hungry kittyIf this were my Winnie, he'd have the door open wide and food already on the counter!

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Feb 262016
 
furies

More stuff has happened which seems to me to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with it. 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." 

Incidentally, I have linked to the full page of each story, including the comments; therefore, the link may land you right at the top of the comments section.  If so, Ctrl + Home should take you to the beginning of the article, and the comments will still be there,, so you won't have to load them separately.

To our list of, not thank goodness capital crimes (at least not yet), but societal offenses which will lead to serious humiliation, we apparently must now add "banking while Muslim."

A Muslim woman wearing the hijab went to the Security National Bank branch in Ohama, NE, hoping to open an account.  She found the doors locked before she could make it to the teller line.  Now, normally, at this point, I would think the branch was closing for the day; but that doesn't seem to have been it, because no one mentions it.  Also, apparently, a bank employee told her to remove the hijab, and she did – but the bank would still not let her in.

The bank had been robbed at gunpoint during December by perpetrators who wore face coverings, so apparently it just then occurrred to them that maybe they ought to be able to identify people entering, so they initiated a requirement that everyone entering must remove all face, eye, and head coverings – not in itself unreasonable (although don't start me on prescription eyewear!)

It must have gone over their head that Omaha has an ordinance forbidding discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and some other factors.

Ferial Pearson, a friend of the woman in question (whose identity has not been made available to the press), says she has started receiving offensive and threatening messages on line, such as: “You are truly a disgusting person for putting such LIES on the internet!!!” one man wrote. “[T]hey had EVERY right to do what they did!! Waste your time some where else you heartless b*tch”

Megaera, I have confidence that you will be able to find the – um – grudging person who posted that, as well as posters of other threatening and offensive comments, and see if they can be taught some manners.

A second story just in passing, because I see possible but far from proven malice.  I wouldn't even mention it except that it touches on allergies, and I feel that personally, having multiple allergies myself.  (This additional article only touches on food allergies, which are only a small part of the picture, yet…)
 

This third story, though – this one definitely calls for the Furies, I would guess Tisiphone, but since I'm not directing anything particularly to Alecto this week, maybe she would help.

Joyce Curnell, 50, of South Carolina, died 27 hours after she was hauled out of a hospital and taken to jail over unpaid court fines.  She had been taken to the hospital by ambulance and diagnosed in the emergency room – we are not talking about someone who was well enough to drive up and walk in.

At some point, a bench warrant was discovered, and someone alerted law enforcement.  So she was taken to jail.

She was given neither water to drink nor intravenous fluids.  She died of dehydration.  Something highly preventable.

Yes, this happened in July – it's in the news now because the family is filing suit.

Her family filed a notice to sue the jail’s medical contractor, Carolina Center for Occupational Health, for malpractice — claiming medical staffers ignored requests by jail officials to help Curnell.

Court documents show Curnell was placed in a housing unit, instead of being taken to the jail’s medical facility, and she was given a trash bag to vomit into because she was too weak to visit the restroom.

State law requires medical care for inmates who need it, and the Bill of Rights demands humane treatment of incarcerated prisoners.

“It is very unfortunate to hear of another death of an African-American while in police custody,” said Shaundra Scott, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina. “If Ms. Curnell was denied medical treatment, then it is our position that her constitutional rights were violated.”

The Furies and I will be back. 

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Feb 162016
 

It was a busy day yesterday with physio, teaching and then a shopping run with Lucia.  I managed 40 minutes of bicycling and no pain.  The pain and swelling came later after walking around the grocery store with Lucia. Today is a haircut which is sorely needed . . . my hair is sticking straight out so far it is signaling a left turn.

Short Takes

Huffington Post — The growing risk of worldwide water shortages is worse than scientists previously thought, according to a new study. 

More than 70 percent, which is 4 billion people, of the world's population lives without sufficient access to fresh water for at least one month of the year, according to a new paper published Friday in the journal Science Advances

With such low water supplies, why are we allowing fracking which uses inordinant amounts of fresh water, mixes it with toxic chemicals, and then shoots it into the ground where it can't be used again?  Desalination of sea water works so why aren't we doing more there?

Alternet — The second week of February 2016 was a banner week for racism in Israel, with shockingly racist rhetoric from Prime Minister Netanyahu, genocidal references from his backbenchers and fulsome attacks on Palestinian leaders from his entire government. These attacks appear not only to lack legitimate basis, they reveal the government's own hypocritical alliances with convicted terrorists.

5.The Genocide convention.

At the end of Arad’s report, he notes the absurd hypocrisy in the Israeli government accusing Palestinian MKs of sympathizing with terrorists. Arad recalls a shocking October 2014 conference he attended in which Deputy Minister Eli Ben Dahan and soon-to-be-Minister Miri Regev shared a stage with Temple Mount Institute head Rabbi Yisrael Ariel.

Ben Dahan and Regev are known as some of the most racist representatives of the Israeli government. Dahan has said Palestinians “are beasts, they are not human,” while Regev called African asylum seekers “a cancer in the body” of Israel. 

But the man they shared a stage with, Rabbi Meir Kahane’s former deputy Yisrael Ariel, embodies another level of fanaticism altogether.

In September 2015, Ariel called upon Jews to march on the rest of the Middle East and to exterminate all men who refuse to abandon Christianity and Islam. To this day, Ariel draws a salary from the Israeli government, with Bennett’s Education Ministry paying his organization, the Temple Institute, to lectureIsraeli high school students, religious and secular.

This is the fifth of five incidences of Israeli racist rhetoric this past week. Click through for the other five.  Donald Trump, eat your heart out.  Israel is building a wall, not just bloviating about it.  Why are ultra conservatives so damned afraid?

Mother Jones — A group of families in the United States whose relatives were killed by Mexican drug cartels filed a lawsuit against the large financial institution HSBC this week, alleging that the bank's admitted laundering of roughly $881 million for the Sinaloa, Juárez, and Los Zetas cartels played a key role in the deaths of their loved ones.

"Money laundering is the lifeblood of the Mexican drug cartels, enabling them to construct a façade of legitimacy through which they establish, continue, and grow their global enterprises," the families' lawyers wrote in the complaint filed in federal court, alleging that cartels use that money to buy the weapons, vehicles, and the public officials needed to operate. "Thus, by facilitating the laundering of billions of dollars of drug cartel proceeds through its banks, HSBC materially supported the terrorist acts of the cartels, including the terrorist acts committed against the [families]."

Whenever I see "HSBC" in the news, I know it is bad news.  I take an interest in it because 1) I worked for HSBC Canada for almost 10 years; 2) I receive my pension from HSBC; and 3) it has a history of questionable acts, not the least of which was aiding clients to evade taxes.  They have also had issues with securities trades, not unlike those of JP Morgan Chase that landed Jamie Dimon in hot water.  HSBC has had the dubious misfortune of getting caught.  It will be interesting to see how HSBC deals with this lawsuit.

My Universe — 

doggie buttEau de butt!

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Feb 072016
 

It has been a busy day today mostly doing research for two posts.  I managed a few small errands and came home to relax only to find my DVD player bit the dust.  It is one of those "turn it off, it's fine, turn it on, it's broken" kind of deals. I wonder if Mr Negotiator (Trump) could get me a good deal for a new one?  Tomorrow afternoon, I will be going to see my mother so there may not be a Squatch's Open Thread.

Short Takes

BuzzFeedhat-tip Monka B, Care2 — So, it seems some non-Americans have a few questions about what’s going on in American politics today.

1. First things first: In an American accent, “Iowa caucus” is pronounced “Iowa cock-us” which is also kind of how it feels.

First things first: In an American accent, "Iowa caucus" is pronounced "Iowa cock-us" which is also kind of how it feels.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

“Cock us today at 6:30pm.”

2. Iowa is the first state to vote in the seemingly endless process of the two parties in the US choosing their candidates for president, which at this stage feels like it’s been happening for about 57 years.

Iowa is the first state to vote in the seemingly endless process of the two parties in the US choosing their candidates for president, which at this stage feels like it's been happening for about 57 years.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

If the nomination process is like an army on a long, grim death march through a never-ending winter, this is the bit where they start eating the horses.

Click through for the rest of this hilarious take on the Iowa Caucuses as explained for the Brits.

University of British Columbia — Gustafsen Lake or Ts’Peten, a region close to 100 Mile House in British Columbia, in Secwepemec (Shuswap) territory, was the location of a stand-off in 1995 between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and sundancers and their helpers (Sundancers) conducting religious ceremony that lasted more than thirty days. Gustafsen Lake has been called the “largest paramilitary operation in Canadian history."

The Gustafsen Lake Stand-off stemmed from the longstanding conflict over Aboriginal land occupied by non-Aboriginal settlers without having first signed treaties. People who came to Gustafsen Lake for the Sundance chose to stay in defense of the land as events unfolded during the ceremonial period. They said the land is unceded and unsurrendered to the Crown. The RCMP and government representatives attempted to remove the Sundancers, or “Ts'Peten Defenders,” as tensions escalated between the Sundancers, a local rancher, government agents, and Aboriginal leaders who disagreed with the Sundancers' tactics and legal and religious views.

The siege at Gustafsen Lake has become a controversial event in Canadian history due to government militarization, RCMP smear campaigns, and successful efforts to spread misinformation about the Sundancers. The media were strategically excluded from all but official RCMP accounts of events, resulting in highly skewed reporting. Supporters of the “Ts’Peten Defenders” view the stand-off at Gustafsen Lake as symbolic of the continued efforts of the state to forcibly and violently assimilate Indigenous peoples. Gustafsen Lake is largely underrepresented in mainstream recollections of British Columbian and Canadian histories.

Gustafsen Lake occurred as another militarized stand-off was underway at Ipperwash/Aazhoodena.

Image from "Showdown at Gustafsen Lake," First Nations Drum. Reprinted in Smoke Signals from the Heart (2004) and used with permission from Totem Pole Books.

The Conflict

Starting in 1989 as part of a multi-year period cycle of ceremonial commitment, Sundancers would assemble every summer at a specific site near Gustafsen Lake, or Ts’Peten, to conduct the Sundance. The site was in ancestral Secwepemc territories and was prepared and respected as sacred by the Sundancers under the guidance of the designated Faithkeeper and camp spiritual leader Percy Rosette. The site was encompassed by grazing rights held by a non-Aboriginal American rancher, Lyle James, who used the land as cow pasture. James and the Sundancers had reached an agreement that the Sundancers would assemble at the Sundance arbour area every summer for the Sundance cycle period, provided they would not erect any permanent ceremonial structures.

In 1995, however, tensions escalated between the rancher and the Sundancers. The Sundancers had erected a fence to keep James’s cattle from defecating within the Sundance ceremonial arbour site, and James was not happy. James requested that the camp occupants leave, to which they explained they were unable to do until the Sundance was complete.  The Sundancers claimed that to breach or interrupt a multi-year Sundance commitment is a very serious matter. The Sundancers recall one night when cowboys on horseback rode through the camp and aggressively insulted and harassed them. Two RCMP officers, Native people chosen in keeping with the sensitive nature of the ceremony and prepared site, were then stationed at the Sundance to observe and keep the peace. The RCMP held the position that the conflict was of a personal nature between James and the Sundancers, and therefore they would observe, and not become directly involved. Approximately twenty to thirty of the Sundancers, which included non-dancing participants, stayed on: men, women and children. The Sundance itself went ahead without incident.

The conflict between James and the Sundancers raised larger questions about the land and outstanding Aboriginal title; The Sundancers declared the land unceded and unsurrendered, particularly as to the nature of the interest in the land that James had obtained from the Crown.  As time went on, the RCMP observers suggested that the Sundancers should vacate the site to avoid any further conflict with James. The Sundancers responded that they would not leave until their rights to the land were recognized, some saying they were prepared to die if necessary to protect the land. The Sundancers were concerned about the need to continue to use the site for their religious and spiritual purposes so as to complete the commitment period and Sundance cycle.

Click through for the rest.  Although this happened over twenty years ago, the issues raised have not been dealt with by the Canadian federal government.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as part of his platform, wants to bring about new relationships and respect with and for Aboriginal peoples.  As such, the Ts'Peten Defence Committee has started a petition on Change.org calling for a National Inquiry into the Ts’Peten/Gustafsen Lake Standoff 1995.  I hope you'll sign the petition with me.

For those on Care2, I have also posted this petition at Gustafsen Lake Standoff Petition.

Salon — Donald Trump gave an interview this week all of his potential supporters should watch. In his own words, Trump lays bare the very reasons why he would be such a disastrous choice for president.  

The topic turns to President Obama’s recent nuclear agreement with Iran.  Trump unwittingly displays for all to see that he simply does not understand the most basic elements of the agreement.

Trump proclaims his familiar boast that he is the best deal-maker ever and the best negotiator ever, and that the Obama administration completely botched the negotiation with Iran.  And then Trump graced us with an inside account of how he, as a master deal-maker, would have negotiated the agreement with Iran and obtained a much better outcome for America.

Primarily, Trump would have spared America from having to pay $150 billion to Iran.  

Unfortunately, however, there is one little problem with Trump’s entire analysis. And this problem is that the $150 billion was, in fact, readily available. The reason it was readily available is because all of this money actually belonged to Iran, not to America.  This was Iran’s own money.  This was Iranian money that America had seized and frozen. 

Following is an interview of Trump by CNN's Anderson Cooper where Trump demonstrates his lack of knowlege of the Iran Nuclear Deal.  You would think that a potential presidential candidate would be a little more knowlegable. Even I know that those were Iranian funds!

 

My Universe

I forgets nothing. I wait patiently. - Cat

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Jan 082016
 

I started out doing a short take for today's Squatch's Open Thread about TransCanada's NAFTA challenge, but things rather mushroomed.  TC covered TransCanada in his lead article while I chose to take a broader approach.

There are two actions that TransCanada Corp has announced it is taking in regards to the Keystone XL rejection:  

  1. a challenge under NAFTA against the US Government; and
  2. a lawsuit filed in US federal court in Houston, Texas.

National Post — TransCanada Corp. said Wednesday it intends to file a challenge under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) seeking US$15-billion in damages from the United States government over President Barack Obama’s denial of the Keystone XL pipeline.  

In a 27-page notice of intent to pursue the NAFTA challenge, the Calgary-based pipeline company said Obama’s denial was politically driven, directly contrary to the conclusions of own administration’s studies, and in violation of U.S. obligations under the agreement.

From the Globe and Mail

Toronto trade lawyer Lawrence Herman said … 

“I’ve thought for some time that that this was a politicized issue, and there are good arguments that decisions affecting Keystone were based on political considerations. To the degree that that is so, TransCanada has a viable if not a strong case.”

Continuing from the National Post

In addition, the Calgary-based company filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal Court in Houston claiming Obama’s decision to deny construction of Keystone XL exceeded his power under the U.S. Constitution.  

The lawsuit in Texas does not seek damages, but a declaration that the permit denial is without legal merit and that construction of the pipeline can proceed without further presidential action.  

TransCanada has pondered a NAFTA challenge for some time, but the Texas lawsuit — it names U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell — was not expected.

Some might remember that from the beginning, the Keystone XL and TransCanada Corp have been the focus of much talk, and not just over the water cooler.  Here are some of the Politics Plus articles going back to 2011: Keystone XL WOULD Increase Carbon PollutionKeystone XL DefeatedObama Rejects Keystone XL PipelineNew Keystone XL InvestigationDeck stacked for Keystone XLKeystone DelayedThe Keystone Debacle.

TransCanada has admitted in the past that it substantially inflated employment numbers in the US.  During the 2012 election campaign, Republicans were pushing the "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs" and invoked TransCanada as a jobs creator saying that there were tens of thousands of jobs.  Ib fact there would be a couple thousand temporary construction jobs and less than 100 permanent jobs.  Take into account that the EIS at one point was arranged and paid for by TransCanada.  Shame on TransCanada for trying to hide that conflict and on the State Department for allowing it. Here's a record of TransCanada's lobbying through the first half of 2013 . . . big money.

In Canada, former PM Stephen Harper and the Conservatives backed the Keystone XL.  DeSmog reported:

In October 2013 the Liberal party backed the Keystone XL pipeline and won confidence from oil industry supporters when Trudeau told the Calgary Petroleum Club, “Let me be clear: I support Keystone XL.”

But Trudeau also added, “Perhaps the greatest indictment of the [Conservative] government is this: it has had the better part of a decade to remove the barriers preventing the U.S. from approving this project.”

“The [Conservative government] poked and prodded, annoyed and irritated the Obama administration at every turn. Largely, I suspect, because they don’t know how to work with people who don’t share their ideology.”

 Both Dion and Trudeau indicated that although they support the Keystone XL, they respect the decision-making authority of the Obama administration — something the Harper government continuously strained diplomatic relations by failing to do. During his years of lobbying for the pipeline, Harper forcefully said he wouldn’t “take no for an answer” and called its approval a “no brainer.”

So both Canadian governments ultimately support the pipeline, the former government being more forceful, less respectful.

But there is also another NAFTA challenge that has been before the tribunal since 2013 — Lone Pine Resources Inc. v. Government of Canada.  From Global Affairs Canada

The claimant alleges that LPRC has contractual interests relating to five contiguous exploration licences for petroleum, natural gas and underground reservoirs (“exploration licences”) located near Trois-Rivières [see map below]. These interests stem from a farmout agreement signed with the holder of these exploration licences, a Canadian company named Junex Inc. Four of the exploration licences are located on land and one is located in the St. Lawrence River.

The exploration licence located in the St. Lawrence River was revoked following the coming into force, on June 13, 2011, of a Quebec law titled An Act to limit oil and gas activities (“Act”). The Act revokes exploration licences located in the St. Lawrence River and limits the area of those that cross the water’s edge to their land portion.

The Act was passed in response to the findings of a strategic environmental study on hydrocarbon development in the maritime estuary basin and the northwestern Gulf of St. Lawrence, which concludes that this environment is not conducive to hydrocarbon development activities. This study was preceded by numerous other studies that, since 2003, have been analyzing the impact of hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities on the biophysical and human environment of the St. Lawrence River.

In addition to studies on hydrocarbon development in the St. Lawrence River, the Government of Quebec devotes considerable resources to documenting and assessing the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the shale gas industry. Since February 2011, reports from Quebec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (“BAPE”) and studies conducted as part of strategic environmental studies have been establishing the existence of risks to the biophysical and human environment tied to shale gas development activities involving hydraulic fracturing.

Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway map 1959.png

One thing to note, the St Lawrence River freezes each winter westward from Québec City, creating additional risks.  You can also review the Lone Pine Resources' challenge at the Council of Canadians website. 

Both of these challenges to the sovereignty of our two nations by corporations need to be put in their place . . . in the dumpster.  Trade agreements like NAFTA, TPP, TTIP, TISA and CETA are nothing more than corporate power grabs.  Where are the people in all these agreements?  . . . slaves to corporations.

See lists of NAFTA challenges at the following sources:

  1. Global Affairs Canada, and
  2. US Department of State.

 

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Dec 192015
 

It has been a quiet day fortunately.  A hair cut and nap and reading.  The weather was very wet this afternoon and will likely continue that way tomorrow.  I won't even go near a mall . . . total insanity!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:29 (average 5:48). To do it, click here. How did you do?

Short Takes

Huffington Post — Canada’s refugee policy is world class, and the big secret behind its success is its private sponsorship program, according to a former Toronto mayor.

“I think at the end of the day the absolute brilliance of the Canadian refugee program is that it relies on private groups to support the refugees and integrate them into Canadian society,” John Sewell, who helped resettle tens of thousands of people in the city decades ago, told The Huffington Post Canada in an interview.

“No other country has this kind of program,” he said. “It’s absolutely brilliant.”

In the late 1970s, the federal government began to feel pressure to increase its intake of Indochinese refugees uprooted by the Vietnam War.

vietnam refugees

It was around this time, in 1978, when Canada’s private sponsorships program launched. Since then, citizen groups have fundraised millions to support refugee families both financially and emotionally for upwards to a year.

The program has helped resettle over 200,000 refugees across the country.

I was involved in my church's sponsorship committee in the late '70s when we supported a Vietnamese family.  It was a lot of work but so worthwhile. My ESL student is a refugee from South Sudan via Uganda and I know I am making a difference.  People helping people is what life should be about.  Here is a Care2 petition urging the US Congress to legalise private sponsorship which I hope you'll sign.  Just click on the link and it will open a new page with the petition.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/605/374/216/tell-u.s.-to-legalize-private-sponsorship-of-refugees/

Alternet — Can you imagine him? Here is, in other words, a dark-skinned, bearded, unkempt Middle Eastern Jew, acting all kinds of suspicious, ranting on street corners and hanging around with prostitutes and fanatics, rejecting money, violence and the ruling class, seen by Muslims as the divine precursor to their prophet as he lures the innocent and the seditious into his lawless cult of pacifism and peace.

Jesus -DeusCristoeosPobres 

Jesus - Black-Liberation-Theology-Another-Jesus-Devine-Racism-James-H-Cone

 

Jesus in America, today? Almost certainly to be shunned, feared, derided. Depending where he wandered, also likely harassed, spit upon, even beaten – that is, if he was allowed into the country at all.

Looks quite like a Muslim, you see. Might be an ISIS sympathizer. Definitely radicalized. Got a Facebook feed full of strange proclamations, rapturous interventions, cryptic references to how you’re to seek the divine within, silly. Who knows what he might be up to?

Do you doubt it? Of course you can’t. I mean, just look at him.

Many years ago, I was introduced to liberation theology which Wikipedia describes as  

…"an interpretation of Christian faith out of the experience of the poor…an attempt to read the Bible and key Christian doctrines with the eyes of the poor",[1] or "the message of the gospels", restored from "the first three centuries [of Christianity in which] it was … a pacifist … religion of the poor".[2] Detractors have called it Christianized Marxism.[3]

We don't hear the term liberation theology very often any more but nonetheless, I certainly see Jesus in that light, not as the right wing evangelical supply-side Jesus, the complete antithesis of the authentic Jesus.  The author concludes:

But the sad truth is, the real, dark-skinned, pacifist prophet, the hippie mystic Jesus of yore, preaching peace, loving thy enemy, inner divine wisdom? He wouldn’t come anywhere near America today.

Too many guns, you see. He wouldn’t have a prayer.

I am not proselytising, but rather trying to demonstrate the difference between the authentic Jesus and the right wing evangelical supply-side Jesus that is seen in Republican politics.

Mother Jones — "The end of JONAH signals that conversion therapy, however packaged, is fraudulent—plain and simple," David Dinielli, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a statement. The center filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs.  

In a pretrial decision in February, Judge Bariso wrote, "The theory that homosexuality is a disorder is not novel—but like the notion that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it—instead is outdated and refuted." 

How long will it take to ban all conversion therapy?  Being gay or lesbian or transgendered is not a learned behaviour or chosen lifestyle.  Who in their right mind would choose to be discriminated against, denied opportunities etc? Good judgement!

My Universe — 

santa cat:

 

A couple of years ago, Dandelion on Care2 shared this humourous video with me and I have been singing it ever since.

 

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