Feb 062016

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

Short Takes

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Universe — 




fun1_zpsc5947875Happy Friday . . . and an even happier weekend!

Feb 042016

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

Short Takes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Littlest Husky

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

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

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

    Feb 032016

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

    Short Takes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    My Universe — 


    Feb 012016

    A very light day today, thankfully, but the week ahead is busy.  I spoke with my brother in Toronto this morning.  He and his wife are taking an Alaska cruise leaving from Vancouver in July so they will spend a few days visiting with me and seeing my mother.  This will be good as they haven't seen her for almost 3 years, or is it 4 years.  Tomorrow is physio and teaching but I shant be lingering to do extra tutoring or Costco runs.

    Short Takes

    Alternet — Oklahoma legislators are trying to pass an expressively cruel bill that would bar depressed LGBT youngsters from seeking gay-affirming counseling at school, Slate reports.

    The state House bill, proposed by Republican Sally Kern, is part of a slew of anti-gay legislation she wants to pass, which would sanction discredited gay “conversion” therapy and prevent HIV-positive people from getting married.

    I was absolutely sickened by this legislation.  The party of hate strikes yet again, and this time takes aim at children, children with severe mental health issues such as depression.  If this legislation is passed, I hope the courts will deem it unconstitutional!

    Huffington Post — Republicans have spent nearly six years promising to repeal Obamacare and, for most of that time, they have refused to acknowledge what that would mean for the millions who would lose their health insurance.

    On Saturday afternoon in Iowa, for at least a few minutes, one Republican couldn't get away with it.

    It happened at a Ted Cruz campaign event in Hubbard, a small town smack in the middle of the state. According to reports in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Politico, Cruz fielded a question from Mike Valde, a Democratic voter who had come to the event with a story to tell and a simple question to ask.

    The story was about his brother-in-law, a barber named Mark. As Valde told it, Mark was a small business owner who worked so hard that he didn’t even take paid days off. But Mark was unable to afford health insurance until the Affordable Care Act became law. When it did, Mark bought insurance and then, when he started feeling ill, saw a physician — who promptly diagnosed him with cancer with no hope for recovery. He died last year.

    Good on Valde to confront Cruz and persist in getting an answer.  I think Cruz was flumoxed by Valde, such that he tried not to answer. Obamacare is not perfect but it is a step in the correct direction.  There are still people not covered because many red states have refused Medicaid expansion.  Others because they make too much for Medicaid coverage but still can't afford the premiums.  Republicans only have the Republicare death benefit — die fast, as Rep Alan Grayson coined.  Cruz was caught between a rock and a hard place and had nowhere to go.

    CBC — Two parents watching over an awkward child with weight issues that's still living with them isn't really news. Unless the child in question is a king penguin. 

    Nero is, well, different than the adult penguins in his life. While mom, dad and the rest of the colony are decked out in their finest black and whites, the only child is big, fluffy and brown.

    Did we mention big?

    Nero the penguin

    Nero, the first king penguin chick born at the Calgary Zoo, stands out with his fluffy appearance. (Ayesha Clough/CBC)

    "He's five months, a little over five months, and he weighs around 15 and a half kilos, which means he is the heaviest bird in our colony," said Malu Celli, a curator at the Calgary Zoo. "He's heavier than his mom, who's quite a big, chunky penguin too, and he still has some growing to do."

    OK, this is cuteness overload time!  Nero is 5 months old and only one half kilo bigger than my 8 year old cat!  I love watching penguins play, although I don't particularly like seeing them in an artificial environment such as a zoo.  Play away Nero and happy puberty!

    Common Dreams"Corporate criminals routinely escape meaningful prosecution for their misconduct."

    This is the damning verdict of Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) report released Friday,Rigged Justice: How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy (pdf). 

    Described as "the first in an annual series on enforcement," the 12-page booklet "highlights 20 of the most egregious civil and criminal cases during the past year in which federal settlements failed to require meaningful accountability to deter future wrongdoing and to protect taxpayers and families," according to a press statement from Warren's office.  

    "Justice cannot mean a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but nothing more than a sideways glance at a C.E.O. who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars," Warren said in the op-ed.

    This from the report, Rigged Justice: How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy, prepared by Elizabth Warren's office.  Cllick through for more details.

    The failure to punish big corporations or their executives when they break the law undermines the foundations of this great country: If justice means a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but it means nothing more than a sideways glance at a CEO who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars, then the promise of equal justice under the law has turned into a lie. The failure to prosecute big, visible crimes has a corrosive effect on the fabric of democracy and our shared belief that we are all equal in the eyes of the law. 

    Corporate criminals like Jamie Dimon and Don Blankenship need to be held criminally  accountable for the actions of their corporations.  Federal agencies need to conduct robust investigations and see that all charges and penalties are pursued.  Further, corporations should not be able to write-off penalties from a tax perspective.  That is just plain wrong.

    My Universe — 


    Dance til you drop!

    Jan 312016

    Almost every week, Republicans join a competition to see who can say the most outlandish things, and in the process, they push the envelope on just how ridiculous InsaniTEA can become.  I trust that you will believe it, when I tell you that last week was no exception.

    One of our favorite governors had a great idea  to address the drug epidemic, chop chop.

    0131guillotineMaine Governor Paul LePage does not like drug dealers. We learned a few weeks ago that the New England tea partier especially does not like drug dealers with names like, “D-Money, Smoothie and Shifty" who bring drugs up to his state, and then, “Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road," LePage said. Later he surprised that people thought that was a little racist.

    This week, LePage showed his usual measured approach to his state’s drug problem when he proposed that drug dealers like good ole D-Money, Smoothie and Shifty have their heads lopped off in the town square.

    This proposal came about in his weekly radio address to his adoring public. First LePage argued that "the death penalty should be the law" for dealers. Then he elaborated:

    "I think these people — there’s nothing good enough for these people. I think four years is not good enough, we’ve got to go to 20 years, we’ve got to keep them here until they die."

    Upon further reflection, he figured that might take too long.

    "If you want my honest opinion, we should give them an injection of the stuff they sell," LePage frothed. "I’m just appalled at people getting angry at me for making a comment when they protect these people. And the ACLU, mind you, is the worst organization in the state of Maine protecting these people."

    The show’s hosts thought that pretty much capped off the interview and tried to mercifully conclude it, but LePage was not done.

    "What I think we ought to do is bring the guillotine back," LePage interrupted. "We could have public executions.”

    He is the thinking man’s governor.

    Inserted from <Alternet>

    How typically Republican! Maine, isn’t it time to turn the LePage? This is only the fifth of five ridiculous Republican moments listed, from last week alone! Click through to the other four.

    Jan 312016

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

    Short Takes

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

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

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

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

    Another Republican nutter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    mauril belanger

    And Mauril Belanger made history in the process.

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

    My Universe — 

    Jan 292016

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    From CBC News

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

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


    Jan 272016

    Ammon Bundy and his Republican Ammosexual terrorists invaded Oregon from red states like Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Utah,.  They have been infesting our fair state for fat too long.  One of those thugs, LaVoy Finicum, is dead.  Several more Republican terrorists, including Ammon “Dumber than Al” Bundy are in custody.  Oregon is a little safer now, but I fear this will make America more dangerous.

    0127Lavoy-Finicum-jpgOregon standoff spokesman Robert "LaVoy" Finicum was killed and other leaders of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation were arrested Tuesday after the FBI and state police stopped vehicles about 20 miles north of Burns.

    Authorities did not release the name of the person who died at the highway stop, but Finicum’s daughter confirmed it was Finicum, 55, of Cane Beds, Arizona, one of the cowboy-hat wearing faces of the takeover.

    "My dad was such a good good man, through and through," said Arianna Finicum Brown, 26, one of Finicum’s 11 children. "He would never ever want to hurt somebody, but he does believe in defending freedom and he knew the risks involved."

    Ryan Bundy, 43, of Bunkerville, Nev., suffered a minor gunshot wound in the confrontation about 4:30 p.m. along U.S. 395. He was treated and released from a local hospital and was in FBI custody, authorities said.

    Also arrested during the stop were his brother, Ammon Bundy, 40, of Emmett, Idaho, Ryan W. Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Mont., Brian Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada, and Shawna J. Cox, 59, of Kanab, Utah. They were charged with conspiracy to impede federal officers, a felony…

    Inserted from <The Oregonian>

    Here’s a brief video report from the area.

    Considering how police have been so much less likely to kill armed Republican terrorists making threats than the are to kill unarmed black children, I have little doubt that the Republicans instigated the violence.  And while I do feel sorry for and offer condolences to Finicum’s family, I do so with the plea that they turn away from their father’s violence, terrorism and sedition.  His death means Oregon is a little safer that we were before, although the Ammosexual Republican terrorists that remain at the wildlife sanctuary seem to be spoiling for a fight.

    Now that the Republican terrorist militias have a martyr, America may be more dangerous, as the praise and fame Republicans heap on Finicum may well prompt other deluded Republican wing-nuts to become terrorists.

    Jan 272016

    Today was a miserably wet day out and of course I had 3 waterphobic cats to get to the vet's for their annual exam.  They love their vet very much and were purring and rubbing up against him.  Winnie, my ginger, took the lid from the treats jar and almost got his head stuck in the jar.  The good news: they are all very healthy!  smiley  The bad news: they have all put on weight. sad  Primo, my tuxedo is now 15.05 kg (33.11 lbs), Winnie is 13.1 kg (28.82 lbs), and little Annie is 11.45 kg (25.19 lbs) . . . that is 39.6 kg (87 lbs) in my bed each night!  Is it any wonder that I was almost dumped on the floor a few nights back?!  They were already on reduced rations so we will see what happens with reducing them a bit more.  Apparently they are middle aged now . . . the boys turn 8 in mid April . . . so part of the problem is likely a slowing down of their metabolism.  My vet says they have fattened up with love (no, I don't over feed them).  Tomorrow is physio again so, as my stepfather would say, I'll be peddling my ass for another 40 minutes.

    Short Takes

    Alternet — Every candidate in the GOP presidential race is running on the same economic platform: slash taxes, slash spending, slash regulation. It’s the Republicans’ special formula, guaranteed to spark prosperity and opulence for all.

    Deregulate the private sector, shrink taxes for everybody, but especially corporations and the rich. America has been here before. These ideas are not new. Throughout the 1920s, they were policy.

    An excellent article that puts historical context around current Republican economic platforms.  Republicans just love their St Ronnie!  Interesting how Republicans don't want to acknowledge the cause and effect of the 1929 stock market crash and the depression.  It is laws like the original Glass Steagall that made a big difference.

    CBC — The federal government discriminates against First Nation children on reserves by failing to provide the same level of child welfare services that exist elsewhere, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ruled.

    Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations and Family Caring Society, along with the Assembly of First Nations, filed a complaint against Ottawa with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in February 2007.  

    Before final arguments were heard in October 2014, during which the tribunal heard from 25 witnesses, the federal government had racked up $5.3 million in legal fees.

    A great ruling!  In February 2007, Stephen Harper was Canada's Prime Minister.  He ws not one to act on or coöperate in any way for the benefit of First Nations.  But to be fair, previous governments, both Conservative and Liberal, did not handle First Nations issues well at all.  It is past time that changed.  I watched a brief statement by Charlie Angus, MP Timmins-James Bay, earlier as he recounted how there were some 89 Aboriginal kids on suicide watch a few years ago and the federal Conservative government in concert with the Ontario provincial government fired all the social workers leaving the kids and their families in dire straits.  And of course trust the fiscally conservative Stephen Harper, like US Republicans, to spend money legal issues that should never have been done.  Imagine the good that $5.3 million could have done for First Nations kids.

    Huffington Post — The Canadian government has fired off a pre-emptive strike before American lawmakers hold a hearing in which the northern neighbour's Syria refugee policy will be on the hot seat.

    It sent a note to members of a powerful U.S. Senate committee that has scheduled a meeting next week titled, "Canada's Fast-Track Refugee Plan: Unanswered Questions and Implications for U.S. National Security."

    The U.S. Senate homeland-security hearing is, for the Trudeau government, an unwanted flip-side to the praise it received from progressives and foreign media outlets last month when the prime minister personally greeted refugees at the airport.

    This will be far less laudatory, judging from the list of witnesses invited to testify before the committee next Wednesday: most have already publicly challenged Canada's plan to quickly accept 25,000 refugees.

    Here comes the American paranoia over Muslims from the Republican dominated Congress and it is directed at Canada.  The Canadian Ambassador to the US declined to testify "…citing a long-standing practice of avoiding appearances in that partisan domestic political chamber."  Partisan is an understatement!

    My Universe — 

    Australian Aboriginal Proverb


    Jan 262016

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

    Short Takes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More good news!  

    My Universe — 


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

    Jan 242016

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

    Short Takes

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

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

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

    The audience roared.

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

    Ah geeeee buttercup!

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

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

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

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

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

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

    — David Boaz, Cato Institute executive vice president

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

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

    The Kochtopus

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

    My Universe


    Jan 242016


    Let me begin by clarifying why I call Sarah Palin “Bloody Bullseye Barbie”, lest we forget.  She put the map shown above on her Facebook page.  She placed one of the crosshairs she used to mark Democrats for violent attacks on the campaign HQ of Gaby Giffords (D-AZ), who was subsequently almost almost killed by Republican Ammosexual, Jared Lee Loughner.  She denied the blood on her hands then, but she is now quick to play victim and blame Obama for her own violently dysfunctional family.  Mill Maher called her on it, but he made one mistake.

    MaherWe had to know what Friday’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” would be like once Sarah Palin came out implying that President Obama was to blame for her son’s domestic abuse charges earlier this week.

    While Palin was endorsing Donald Trump in Iowa her son was being arraigned on four misdemeanor counts. In her speech she said that we send our sons to fight in wars and they come back “a bit different.”

    “And then just glossed over that,” Maher said. “Like, we accept that now. We send our sons off to stupid wars and they come back ‘a bit different’ because he beat up his girlfriend, was talking suicide and she blamed that on Obama. And I’m sure that’s why his girlfriend was cowering under the bed, because of Obama.”…

    Inserted from <Alternet>


    I disagree with Bill on one key point.  The leftist wing-nut at Yale is not the same as Republican Ammosexuals like Ammon Bundy.  We have wing nuts on the left, and Republicans correctly identify them as useful fools.  They are harmless, and Democrats do not support them,  Republican wing-nuts are dangerous domestic terrorists and the Republican Party does support them,  Bull is funny, but he is mistaken on that point.