May 212016
 
furies

Just one article this week which seems 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."

I saw on AlterNet and traced to Raw Story the report that a teacher at a private Christian Science high school in St. Louis, MO was fired after reporting that her underage daughter had been sexually abused by a school employee.  Looking for more information, I found the Courthouse News Service website to have a great deal more on the story, and after checking their Terms of Use, which explicitly grant permission to other blogs to copy an individual article provided Courthouse News Service is credited, I will be quoting their coverage of this complex story.  (Any emphasis – bolding – will be mine.)

     A former teacher at a Christian Science boarding school claims in court that she was fired after reporting that a fellow faculty member raped her daughter.
     Phoebe McVey sued The Principia Corporation in St. Louis County Court on Thursday.
     The Principia operates a school and college in suburban St. Louis.
     Neither the School nor the College is affiliated with the Christian Science Church, but the principles of Christian Science form the basis of community life at Principia, according to Principia's website.
     McVey claims 31-year-old Zachary Retzlaff began sexually assaulting her daughter, M.M. in the lawsuit, when she was 16. Retzlaff is not named as a defendant.
     McVey, who now lives in Arizona, lived on the Principia campus at the time with her husband and daughter. She says Retzlaff was Principia's director of telecommunications and related to several people at the school. He [is a] nephew-in-law of Adriane Fredrikson, the dean of admissions, and Hans Fredrikson, a former trustee, and also nephew-in-law of Bill and Cheryl Whitney, who both worked with Retzlaff in the computer information department.
     None of them are parties to the lawsuit.
     McVey says the sexual abuse went on from July 2014 to May 2015 and that Retzlaff spent time with M.M. at the Fredriksons' home during that time. She says she found out about the relationship while chaperoning a class trip to New Hampshire and Boston on May 21, 2015.
     She reported Reztlaff to the police the next day.
     A grand jury indicted Retzlaff for statutory rape in the second degree on July 22, 2015. He pleaded not guilty and is free on $35,000 bail. The criminal case is pending.
     Two days after she reported the rapes, McVey says, the school told her she would be terminated effective July 31, 2015.
     "Just prior to her termination, plaintiff had reported to the police that one of Principia's employees had committed the criminal acts of sexual intercourse with a minor, her daughter," the complaint states. "Such criminal acts were in violation (among other statutes) of Section 566.034 RSMo. As a result of McVey's reporting of illegal conduct, Principia's employee, Retzlaff was indicted on July 22, 2015.
     "Any other reason offered for Plaintiff's termination is pretextual to cover up Principia's illegal conduct."
     McVey's lawsuit does not go into detail, but a separate lawsuit filed by a Jane Doe against The Principia on Oct. 16, 2015, in St. Louis County may. Though it does not name McVey as Doe's parent, it states that Jane Doe was sexually assaulted dozens of times by Retzlaff during the same time period as McVey's daughter.
     That complaint says Retzlaff practiced sadomasochism with Doe.
     "During several of the sexual assaults, assailant choked Ms. Doe with his hands until she lost consciousness," the complaint states. "After the child was unconscious, assailant would begin engaging in vaginal intercourse with her while she was passed out so that when she awoke, his penis would already be inside of her."
     That lawsuit also accused Retzlaff of forcing Doe into group sex.
     "In addition to the sadomasochism, assailant invited other minors to join him in 'group sex' with Ms. Doe, including other Principia students, both male and female," the complaint states. "On several occasions, these other minors chose to flee the group sex session because the sexual acts assailant was performing on Ms. Doe became so extreme."
     That lawsuit claimed The Principia knew about Retzlaff's actions and even told him to "cut it out."
     That lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed in February.*
     McVey seeks punitive damages for wrongful termination and breach of contract. She is represented by Brandy Barth with Newton Wright and Barth in St. Louis.
     Laurel Walter, communications director at The Principia, said in an email: "We are in the process of reviewing the allegations and do not have any comment at this time."
     Principia was involved a football hazing scandal involving sexual violence in August 2014. Three football players were kicked out of the school and faced criminal charges. Two were charged with four counts of first-degree sodomy and another with seven counts of third-degree assault.
     In an Oct. 22, 2015 story about the first lawsuit, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Retzlaff, then 33, was accused of sexually assaulting an underage student "more than 40 times on or around the campus here, choked her as part of sex play and held group sex parties for students."

Despite the comments I have been reading on this, both on AlterNet and on Raw Story (Courthouse News Service does not appear to have comments), I trust that I don't need to remind the Erinyes, or anyone here, that any man who thinks that a sixteen year old child has the mental capacity to consent to sex is thinking with the wrong head.  While Tisiphone, therefore, addresses herself to Mr. Retzlaff, I believe Alecto and Megaera are needed to deal with misconceptions which seem to be all too common in society about the nature of consent – and that sex without both parties consenting is rape.

*Incidentally the lawsuit referred to as "voluntarily dismissed in February" was specifically dismissed in such a way as not to preclude Ms. Doe from re-filing (presumably after the criminal charges have been dealt with).

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross-posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/3985226

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May 142016
 
furies

I only have one small article this week which seems to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with it, and you and the Furies may not even agree with me on 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."

I'm sure everyone can remember SOMETHING that Maine Governor Paul Lepage has said or done at one time or another which was bat-guano crazy, and hurtful with it.  Most recently he has been in the news for complaining about drug dealers coming up to Maine and impregnating white women (Huh?), and stating he wanted the authority to behead said drug dealers publicly.  But that's just recently.

Last Tuesday, or rather, Tuesday week, May 3rd, the Governor went to the Androscoggin Humane Society to check out the dogs there – apparently he and his family had a dog who had recently passed away, Baxter.  They saw a Jack Russell, decided on the spot to adopt him, named him Veto and posted on Facebook.

However – this puppy had been advertised on the Humane Society website as becoming available on WEDNESDAY morning, on a first come, first served basis.  And there was another Mainer who wanted him, who had arranged to take off work so she could be there early  and be first in line.

Heath Arsenault, a victim of sexual assault, told local news outlet NECN she had been hoping to adopt the animal herself as an emotional support dog. She said she was heartbroken when she learned that the shelter had bent the rules to allow the governor to adopt him before he became available to the public.

"I just saw the picture and I broke down," Arsenault said. "He was just the right size for my apartment and he's just really sweet." ….

"It wasn't about, 'Oh, I wanted that dog and somebody else adopted it," Arsenault, added. "It just felt like my happiness was taken away from me. Bettering my relationships—that was taken away from me."

"No one should be given special privileges, even if they are the governor," she told the Portland Press Herald.

The shelter has since admitted to breaking its own rules by giving LePage a chance to adopt the dog a day earlier than the public.

It remains to be seen if Veto will soon be moving to Washington, DC, as LePage is reportedly gunning for a position in the Trump administration.

I said most of what I am going to say now in my comment on the site, but I doubt if I can say it much better, so from here I am quoting myself (I promise not to sue), with just a few small edits, mostly for context.

There are a number of old sayings along the lines of "adding insult to injury," "the straw that broke the camel's back," "the frosting on the cake," "the cherry on the sundae," which express how human it is, after suffering, or even just seeing, large or at least significant injuries without losing one's temper, when a small one comes along from the same source, to "blow one's top" – another old saying.  Cliches, but they become cliches because they speak to us.  This is how I feel about this incident. 

He makes remarks about drug dealers coming into "his" state and impregnating white women.  He says he wants to be able to cut off drug dealers' heads in public.  He decides to veto a bunch of bills he doesn't like, so he ignores them, in which he displayes his ignorance of Maine's constitution – they all become law.  So he decides he just won't enforce them.  A private school hires someone he personally doesn't like, so he directs them to fire the guy or lose state funding.  And so on and so on.  He has already abundantly proved he has no respect for constitution, no respect for law, no respect for rules, no respect for citizens.  Over major issues.

Now comes along this sweet little dog – and Jack Russells are sweet, if not always 100% predictable.  (And if you deduce from that that I hope Veto bites his ass, you would be right.)  No, he didn't know someone else wanted the dog.  But he did know he was there a day early, and therefore was breaking a rule.  Yes, the shelter is also at fault, whether he threatened and bullied the staff, or whether they were only too happy to kiss the boots of their Governor, or anything in between.  I admit this is a minor issue.  I admit I am being petty.  But for me, this is the frosting on the cake, because it FROSTS me.

And I think that is what many people who have commented on the article are feeling, and why so many are excoriating him (and of course many are also defending him, and are entitled to their opinion).

Plus, of course, I can see from other comments that I am not the only one who fears for the fate of that sweet little dog in that household.

Dear Furies, if you can see your way to looking into this there are many people who would or should be grateful – including the entire state of Maine.  It may be the punishment would not fit the crime.  But there are other unpunished crimes.  And God help the nation if he should get into Donald Trump's cabinet!  (OK, God help the nation if Donald Trump gets a cabinet, period.)

Off this topic, a quick update on last week's election fraud story – about seven more funny-looking signatures have been found, and all of the voters in question have been interviewed, and deny signing anything for Keyser, but state they did sign for the other guy.  Including the first one I showed last week.  Keyser has reportedly refused to say anything except "I am on the ballot," except that he did tell one reporter "I have a really, really big dog.  Bigger than you."  (Clearly NOT a Jack Russell.)  Sweet guy.

The Furies and I will be back.

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May 062016
 
furies

I only have two articles this week which really call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them – and one that announces a way that people with talent (different kinds of talent, so don't disqualify yourself without reading further) can help them out. 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."

The first story is happening in my home state of Colorado.  Michael Bennet's term as a Democratic US Senator is expiring, he is running for reelection, and the Republicans want him out, naturally.  Though he's kind of a DINO, he is infinitely better than any Republican.  The Daily Kos Election Digest has the race listed as "safe Democrat," so it is unlikely that whoever gets the Republican nod will win.  But apparently, whether it matters or not, they just can't seem to help cheating.

One of them, Jon Keyser, was told he didn't have enough signatures to get on that ballot, since numerous signatures were disqualified because the petition circulator's address on the petitions did not match his (I think it was a he) address of registration.  Turned out he had moved and forgotten to change his address  with the election department.  OK, technically that's illegal.  But a technicality is exactly what it is.  I have no problem with the Secretary of State deciding to go ahead and put him on the ballot after all.  Two other Republicans were told the same thing – one is not now on the ballot, the other managed to get onto the ballot but is suing the (Republican) Secretary of State anyway.  That's typical Republican circus, and not the issue.

Here's the thing: after Jon Keyser was put onto the ballot, someone looked a little harder, and discovered possible fraud – so now he's off again.  Here's the deal.  One Republican in Littleton has her name on both Keyser's petition and also that for Jack Graham.  That's kind of illegal too – you're only supposed to be supporting one candidate.  After all, you can't vote twice (legally).  But the potential for actual, tangible, provable fraud comes in when you look at both petitions and see that the same name is in totally different handwritings, with totally different signatures.

You can see this is PROBABLY not a case of two voters with the same name (who also just happen to live at the same address.)  In any case one now wonders whether ANY Republican will now make it onto the Colorado Senate ballot.  Under one of probably the ten most Republican Secretaries of State in the nation.  I'm sure this is boring for you ladies – but maybe you can crack the whip a little to encourage the people sorting through these documents to get it right.  They don't have a lot of time.

The other story comes from California, but is national in scope.  I heard it through In The Public Interest, a group which I learned about through their work on exposing private prisons and the private contractors who supply them substandard food, poor medical care, expensive prisoner-to-family communications, etc.  Now ITPI is looking at for profit schools in direct competition with public schools in kindergarten through high school.

Despite receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from California’s taxpayers, California Virtual Academies (CAVA), the state’s largest provider of online public education, is failing key tests used to measure educational success. According to an investigation by The San Jose Mercury News, fewer than half of the thousands of students who enroll in CAVA schools graduate, and almost none of them are qualified to attend the state's public universities.
 All the while, the publicly traded corporation that owns the network, K12 Inc., continues to rake in massive profits.

Just like a brick-and-mortar charter school, an on-line charter school receives taxpayer funding which would (IMO should) have gone to the local public school.  And, since those funds are based on attendance, just how does an online school take attendance?  Simple – if you log in, you are "present."  When you log out is no one's business.  And this also irks me: "(W)hile records show that the company’s employees launched each of K12 Inc.’s 17 online schools in California, the applications they filed to open the schools described the founders as a “group of parents,” none of whom were named."

Probably not that surprising for an enterprise launched by a former Goldman Sachs bankster.  Tisiphone, I usually ask for you when some vile human is being vengefully destructive.  But if you decided to vengefully destroy these corporations, I wouldn't shed a tear.

Finally, the call for entries – "Calling all painters, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, dancers, graffiti artists, fine art students, animators, sculptors, designers, actors, advertisers, poets, writers, illustrators, tech specialists, crafters and anyone with a passion for creating, we’d love to hear from you."  The topic is "Where's wetiko?"

I personally am more familiar with the Ojibway form of the word, "windingo," than the Algonquin form they chose, but I suspect they chose it because it moves faster in the mouth, like the "Waldo" they are probably alluding to in the topic title.  But, you may be asking, WHAT is it?  Well …

All over the world, there is a feeling that something is deeply wrong. It is often felt more than seen, an unnamed darkness that keeps millions (even billions) of people disconnected from the reality of authentic life-affirming experience….

Wetiko is an Algonquin word for a cannibalistic spirit that is driven by greed, excess and selfish consumption (in Ojibwa it is windingo, wintiko in Powhatan). It deludes its host into believing that cannibalizing the life-force of others (others in the broad sense, including animals and other forms of Gaian life) is a logical and morally upright way to live.
•Every time someone is seen justifying the destruction of life for profit – it is wetiko.
•Every time compassion is vitally missing during a time of suffering – it is wetiko.
•Every time a privileged person uses another as a “throw away” toy – it is wetiko.
•Every time, in every way a community or country is impoverished so that others can be rich – it is wetiko.

So the answer to "Where's wetiko?" is "EVERYWHERE – but it needs to be SEEN."

The call for entries I have linked to has itself further links for anyone who wants to go deeper – but it's a good introduction, it's short and to the point, and repays reading through even if you think you do not have a creative nerve in your body.  And maybe we can help out the furies by raising awareness of injustice and consequent opposition to it.

The Furies and I will be back.

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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.

Cartoon:

0430Cartoon

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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.

Cartoon:

0423Cartoon

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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.

Cartoon:

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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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