Nov 292015

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 outrageous InsaniTEA can become.  I trust that you will believe it, when I tell you that last week was no exception.

FoxPropFox News commenter blames Obama for Colorado shootings.

The Planned Parenthood siege was not even over when Fox decided to go on the offensive—as in totally offensive.  This time the one doing the honors was former NYPD cop and professional blowhard a*hole, Bo Dietl.

Again, this is our president acting like a fool. I mean to see something like this, we noticed when the attacks occurred in Paris, when the cops were in their car getting attacked, we have to prepare ourselves. This is a war. We’re against… terrorists are against this country.

It’s going to open up here in America, and we’ve got to be prepared.

Okay, so first of all, huh?

Second of all, explain again how this is Obama’s fault?

Oh right, because he dared to suggest that maybe we shouldn’t let terrorists, criminals and animal torturers openly carry AK-47s.

Yeah, how awful.

Inserted from <Alternet>

ARGH!  The Republican Reichsministry of Propaganda spews propaganda that is extreme, even for Bubba Bagger.  This is just the third of five Republican outrages from last week alone.  Click through for the other four.

Nov 292015

Although in one sense not a lot happened yesterday, with December looming, my calendar is quickly filling up.  My Open Threads may be fewer this week (the first time since I began) as I will be attempting to do the monthly reports for October and November under the master's guidance of course.  Just know I won't be far away.  And now, I am off to church.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:59 (average 4:07). To do it, click here. How did you do? 

Short Takes

Foreign Policy — Donald Trump could not do more to aid the terrorists of the Islamic State were he to put on a suicide vest and detonate himself in the lobby of one of his apartment buildings. His demagoguery and hate-mongering in suggesting that we create a national database of Muslims — or promoting the sick fantasy that on 9/11 crowds of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the destruction of the Twin Towers — is precisely the kind of reaction on which the extremists were counting to compound the impact of their depravity. It stokes the fears of Americans and alienates Islamic audiences worldwide. And having the leading candidate of one of America’s two principal political parties promoting such ideas suggests that they are not his alone but representative of the view of a great cross-section of the American people.

God help us if they do. Trump’s words are the most vile and ignorant sort of pandering. They test the bounds of free speech because they are, in fact, a kind of hate speech designed to turn one portion of the populace against another. They are also profoundly un-American, ignoring the values of openness and tolerance that are fundamental foundations of our national greatness.

Nonetheless, Trump’s actions are even more unsettling because they are symptomatic of a broader, deeper, and much more profound problem. Terrorism has, since 9/11, mushroomed into a greater global threat than it has ever been before — and it has been a problem in one form or another since the dawn of history. But as bad as terrorism is, our reactions to it have triggered a kind of worsening risk spiral that has made the world a much more dangerous place. Not only are we playing into the terrorists’ hands, and thus giving them needed momentum, the countries of the world are reacting in such an uncoordinated and even conflicting fashion that new geopolitical fissures are emerging that are far more worrisome than any strike or campaign extremists could orchestrate.

Click through for the rest of this longer piece.  I think the author is correct in that the world needs to come together in unity of purpose and leadership.  As the expression goes, "too many chefs and not enough cooks" are spoiling the broth.  Of course, this is easier said than done.  National leaders in general tend to be myopic and unilateral.

CBC — If you're going to sponsor one family of Syrian refugees, why not sponsor 50? That's the logic behind Jim Estill's decision. The Guelph, Ont. businessman, and CEO of appliance company Danby, plans to help bring 50 families to the Guelph area and he's personally footing the bill of over $1 million. 

Jim Estill, CEO of Danby appliance company, is sponsoring 50 families of Syrian refugees, and is footing the $1 million-plus price tag personally.

Q and A with Jim Estill

​Why are you going to do this?

In short, it's the right thing to do. You see what's going on, it's a crisis and we're Canadian. We should do the right thing.

Click through for the rest of the Q and A.  Here is a new Syrian refugee story from Guelph, Ontario.  Some may be tired of reading these stories, but they are likely people embarrassed by the generosity of others.

Raw Story — On a day when the skies were ashen from the smoke of distant wildfires, Chase Hurley kept his eyes trained on the slower-moving disaster at ground level: collapsing levees, buckling irrigation canals, water rising up over bridges and sloshing over roads.

This is the hidden disaster of California’s drought. So much water has been pumped out of the ground that vast areas of the Central Valley are sinking, destroying millions of dollars in infrastructure in the gradual collapse.

Four years of drought – and the last two years of record-smashing heat – have put water in extremely short supply.

Such climate-charged scenarios form the backdrop to the United Nations negotiations starting in Paris on 30 November, which are seeking to agree on collective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

And still there are those that continue to deny that global warming and human caused climate change exist.  As water from aquifers is used up, other areas will also show the effects of climate change.

My Universe Reminiscent of this past week's full moon.


Nov 272015

Picketers playing ball outside closed mill during steel srike.  (Photo by Francis Miller//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Politico — The reason critics like Sheila Bair, Elizabeth Warren, Neil Barofsky, Simon Johnson, Paul Krugman and others (left, right and center) won the day—at least the intellectual debate and the war over public perceptions—was not that they were better communicators. It was that they had a more convincing message: There were alternative ways of rescuing the economy that were fairer and that would have resulted in a stronger economy. Instead, our politics and economics are now locked into a vicious circle: Economic inequality leads to political inequality, and this political inequality then leads to rewriting the rules to increase the level of economic inequality even further, and so on. The result? Ever greater disillusionment with our democracy.

Matters may well get worse. Recent research has uncovered a variety of other vicious cycles. Poverty traps mean those in the bottom remain there. The fortunes of a child of poor parents who does well in school are far bleaker than those of a child of rich parents who does much more poorly in school. About a quarter of U.S. college freshmen from the bottom income half finish college by age 24, compared with 90 percent of the upper quartile. And with wages of those who have only a high school diploma at 62 percent of the typical college grad’s earnings—compared with 81 percent in 1965—the prospects are they will be poorer than their parents.

Taken from Wikipedia, Joseph E Stiglitz is "…an American economist and a professor atColumbia University. He is a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and the John Bates Clark Medal (1979). He is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and is a former member and chairman of the (US president's) Council of Economic Advisers.  He is known for his critical view of the management of globalizationlaissez-faire economists (whom he calls "free market fundamentalists"), and some international institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.  

Based on academic citations, Stiglitz is the 4th most influential economist in the world today, and in 2011 he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Stiglitz's work focuses on income distribution, asset risk management, corporate governance, and international trade. He is the author of several books, the latest being The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them (2015)."

From Alternet, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now interviews Joseph Stiglitz.

AMY GOODMAN: Welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about these candidates [Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders] and what they’re saying and what they actually do, what they support.

JOSEPH STIGLITZ: Well, I think we’re in a new moment in America, because I think we’ve had a third of a century of a—you might call, an experiment, a grand experiment, where, beginning with Reagan, we said, "Let’s lower the tax rates on the top. Let’s rip away the regulations. We’re going to free up the American economy. We’re going to incentivize it. The result will be the economy will grow so much—yes, the top will get a larger share, but everybody is going to get a bigger piece, and so everybody is going to be better off." Well, we’ve had a third of a century of this experiment, and it has failed. It has failed miserably. The fact is, the bottom 90 percent have seen their incomes stagnate. Median income today is as low as it was a quarter-century ago. Talking about the minimum wage, minimum wage is the level, adjusted for inflation, it was 45, 50 years ago. You know, if an economy can’t deliver for most of its citizens, it’s a failed economy. What’s so striking is, we’ve had technological change, we’ve had globalization—all the things that were supposed the economy perform better—and in fact it’s performed worse.

Click through to read the rest of these two articles.  In the second, Stiglitz says "…I think the point is the American people have figured out that this model hasn’t worked, you know, the model that began a third of a century ago. So, they’re angry, and they want a change."  If Stiglitz's point is true, then what are the American people going to do to effect the necessary change?  It is, to my mind, imperative that the American people lead with their vote, shake up the establishment.

I also posted The Pitchforks Are Coming … For Us Plutocrats on 31/10/2015 in which Nick Hanauer, billionaire, echoes Stiglitz.

What is the definition of insaniTEA?  Voting the same way time after time yet expecting a different and better economic outcome.



Nov 252015

Hmmmmmmmmmmm . . . it was an ordinary day with nothing untoward happening.  Something must be wrong! Even the weather was great and no sibling rivalries from the feline side of the family!  I'll celebrate while I can!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:42 (average 4:41). To do it, click here. How did you do? 

Short Takes

Daily Kos  While Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou are vilified for revealing vital information about spying and bombing and torture, a man who conspired with Goldman Sachs to make billions of dollars on the planned failure of subprime mortgages was honored by New York University for his "Outstanding Contributions to Society." 

This is one example of the distorted thinking leading to the demise of a once-vibrant American society. There are other signs of decay: 

1. A House Bill Would View Corporate Crimes as 'Honest Mistakes' 

Wealthy conservatives are pushing a bill that would excuse corporate leaders from financial fraud, environmental pollution, and other crimes that America's greatest criminals deem simply reckless or negligent. The Heritage Foundation attempts to rationalize, saying "someone who simply has an accident by being slightly careless can hardly be said to have acted with a 'guilty mind.'" 

One must wonder, then, what extremes of evil, in the minds of conservatives, led to criminal charges against people apparently aware of their actions: the Ohio woman who took coins from a fountain to buy food; the California man who broke into a church kitchen to find something to eat; and the 90-year-old Florida activist who boldly tried to feed the homeless

Of course, even without the explicit protection of Congress, CEOs are rarely charged for their crimes. Not a single Wall Street executive faced prosecution for the fraud-ridden 2008 financial crisis. 

Click through for 4 more signs of a decaying society.  These bring to mind scenes in Detroit where water and sanitation was cut off to thousands because they couldn't pay for water etc, bills usually being a couple hundred dollars.  But some golf courses etc owned and used by the wealthy, with arrears in the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars, had no water cut offs.  It isn't hard to see who has their priorities screwed up.

Politicususa — Now, it appears that Fox News, the religious right, and conservative pundits have another “war on Christmas” enemy to add to their growing list of atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Wiccans, Heathens, and Muslims who they say hate Christmas. The newest combatant joining the fake war on Christmas went beyond opposing saying Merry Christmas or protesting against Christian Christmas displays on government property and actually assailed the holiday celebration as a farce; likely because he is the supreme leader of the Catholic Church and not involved in conservative America’s silly Christmas outrage.

Pope On War

During a Mass at Casa Santa Maria, Pope Francis quietly committed one of the most heinous sins to American conservatives and religious right fanatics. There have been a world of things this “progressive” Pope has said to incite Republicans, conservatives, and evangelicals to abject anger and outrage, and each and every time it is because he talks like the Christian bible’s humanitarian Jesus. This latest incident is no different and is another signal that on a couple of important issues, Francis is a progressive pope; and an honest-to-dog humanitarian.

Click through for the rest.  I can hear Bill O'Reilly now, totally apoplectic, screaming that the Pope has no idea what he's talking about!  I am not a catholic, but I can definitely get behind him on some issues, and this is one.  I have felt for years that Christmas is about excessive and conspicuous consumption.  The real Christmas comes every day wrapped in plain, unadorned paper.  It is the extended hand to refugees, a kind word, volunteering in a soup kitchen or a food bank so others might have food, holding the hand of someone who is afraid, and many more.

Talking Points Memo — Writing for the 7th Circuit majority, Judge Richard Posner called the contention that the law would protect women's health "nonexistent." He said the law would put more women in danger by increasing the waiting times for abortions, which could push some procedures into the second trimester.

"What makes no sense is to abridge the constitutional right to abortion on the basis of spurious contentions regarding women's health — and the abridgement challenged in this case would actually endanger women's health," he wrote.

He also said that a woman who experiences complications from an abortion will go to the nearest hospital, which will treat her regardless of whether her abortion doctor has admitting privileges there.

Click through to read the rest.  Of course the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a Texas case come spring which will affect all states.

My Universe h/t John Gray, Care2

At least this young lady got the kitten's bumb and not claws as was my misfortune when I was the trampoline 7 yearrs ago!

Nov 232015

It feels like it has been a long day.  I visited with my mother and we had our little fashion show.  Her care aid this evening, Fatiha, helped me with the clothing.  Mum smiled when I held them up.  She always likes what I choose. Temperatures are heading down to the -5 to -10 C range for the rest of the week.  We may even see some snow flurries Monday night.  If it gets any colder, I'll have to put longjohns on my computer!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:27 (average 4:38). To do it, click here. How did you do? 

Short Takes

Daily Beast  In the week-plus since the ISIS-commissioned terrorist attacks on Paris claimed the lives of 130 people and sent the world into a state of panic, Republican politicians—and that maladjusted person from your high school you’ve lost touch with—have been stoking the fears of Americans by espousing virulent anti-refugee rhetoric. Leading GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Marco Rubio have said we shouldn’t allow in any Syrian refugees, while 31 governors across the country have pledged not to allow these war-torn survivors into their states—this despite the fact that they have zero authority to do so.

And Trump, who by the way is married to an immigrant from then war-torn Slovenia (see: the Ten-Day War), has even argued that all mosques in the U.S. should be surveilled, and under a Trump presidency, that all U.S. Muslims could be forced to enter themselves into a database to monitor them. If this sounds like fascism, that’s because it is.

This past week, the House of Representatives passed a bill (that will surely be vetoed by President Obama) calling for tougher screening procedures for Syrian refugees, including that the FBI director must sign off on each and every one of the 10,000 refugees Obama’s pledged to accept over the next year.

Click through for the rest.  John Oliver certainly has a way with words.

Huffington Post — "That's the danger and that somehow talking about security allows us to tap into that racist vein, when that isn't who we are," Wynne said.

Couillard said Canada is not uniquely better or worse than any other society.

"We have those two devils within our society: racism and xenophobia. They exist," said the Quebec premier.

"And it is the responsibility of political leaders – and I got into trouble a few days ago because I said that publicly – it is the responsibility of political leaders not to feed the fire in a very negative way."

The 11-week federal election campaign that resulted in a resounding Liberal majority last month included highly charged debates over the wearing of face-coverings by less than a handful of Muslim women at citizenship swearing-in ceremonies and a Conservative proposal for a "barbaric cultural practices" hotline where it was suggested neighbours might report suspect behaviour.

Click through for the rest.  The thought of the barbaric cultural practices hotline called to mind an article I had read in the NY Times about ISIS women, Khansaa Brigade, the all-female morality police of the Islamic State.  ISIS turning people against their own.  Government leaders, in this case, Harper and his harlots encouraging people to turn against others. And it reminds me of what Hitler was doing during WWII.

Think Progress — Speaking to a bipartisan group of black lawmakers and community leaders on Saturday, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said he has yet to see evidence that black men and women are being disproportionately targeted by law enforcement.

During the 2020 Club’s Presidential Justice Forum at Allen University, a historically black university in Columbia, South Carolina, Carson said that he’s not convinced that there are racial biases in policing or that law enforcement singles out African Americans.

“I’m not aware of a lot of cases where a police officer comes up to someone like you and says ‘Hey, I don’t like you. I’m going to shoot you,’” he said to moderator Jeff Johnson from Black Entertainment Television. “I’m still waiting for the evidence.”

Click through for the rest.  It has to be true . . . Carson gave himself a lobotomy!  Either that or he just doesn't give a damn.  Does the US want someone for POTUS  who isn't in touch with reality?

My Universe — 

Nov 222015

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 nutty InsaniTEA can become.  As TC would say, I trust that you will believe it, when I tell you that last week was no exception.

Republican politicians and presidential aspirants fell all over each other this week, trying to be as offensive, spiteful and Islamophobic as possible. Let’s review some of the lowest of the legion of low-lights.

1. Ben Carson’s truly offensive and clearly intentional metaphor.

Reports of Ben Carson’s stupidity and inability to grasp foreign policy may (or may not) have been greatly exaggerated. But reports that he is an evil mother*cker have not. In his usual semi-somnambulant state, Carson compared Syrian refugees to “rabid dogs” this week in a piece of rhetoric that really does, no exaggeration, rival Hitler.

"If there is a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you're probably not going to assume something good about that dog. And you're probably going to put your children out of the way," Carson said at a campaign event in Mobile, Alabama. "Doesn't mean that you hate all dogs, by any stretch of the imagination. But you're putting your intellect into motion and you're thinking, how do I protect my children?

Hmmm, let’s see, how many dog whistles can he blow at one time?

"By the same token, we have to have in place screening mechanisms that allow us to determine who the mad dogs are, quite frankly," Carson continued obviously pleased as punch with his metaphor. "Who are the people who want to come in here and hurt us and want to destroy us? Until we know how to do that, just like it would be foolish to put your child out into the neighborhood knowing that that was going on, it is foolish for us to accept people if we cannot have the appropriate type of screening." 

The fact that these horrifyingly inflammatory remarks are uttered in Carson’s soft cadence, and by a doctor no less, somehow compounds their vileness. He’s fully capable of generating lots of metaphors, but he chooses this one. In what way exactly is that not evil?

Click through the rest of the Alternet article.  It defies logic how some Americans can become so enthralled by these idiots.  But then that is playing on fears, and they are masters of fear.

Nov 222015

I have been able to accomplish quite a bit today so I am a happy camper. Tomorrow will be a day to visit with my mother.  I bought her some adaptive clothing so we may have a "fashion show" to try them on for fit and hopefully to see my mother smile.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:15 (average 5:20). To do it, click here. How did you do? 

Short Takes

Vancouver Sun — But he believes that building cities is about more than just constructing houses and towers and roads to connect them. It’s also about creating social infrastructure and inclusive societies.

Vancouver property developer Ian Gillespie is offering Syrian refugees temporary accommodations. 'We're in the property business, so it seemed an obvious place to start.'

So, Gillespie’s Westbank Properties is handing over 12 fully furnished and fully stocked apartments downtown to the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. for a minimum of four months. Those multi-bedroom units will be used as transitional accommodation until more permanent housing can be found for some of the 3,000 Syrian refugees expected to arrive in Vancouver within the next several months. 

Click through for the rest.  This attitude is certainly in contrast to that of US state governors, many of whom have said flat out "no refugees", and to the US House which voted "no" to refugees.  But many US Christians are seriously stepping forward in support of the Syrian refugees.  Vancouver developer Daljit Thind, himself an immigrant, has housing available. Vancouver's Temple Sholom has raised money to sponsor a family and is working with Mosaic immigrant services.

Washington Posth/t JLA — Completing a long-shot bid that ran counter to the conservative tide sweeping the Southern states, Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards was elected governor of Louisiana on Saturday, defeating his Republican rival, U.S. Sen. David Vitter.

Edwards was the top vote-getter in the state’s open primary last month and then built a lead over Vitter that he never surrendered.

With 1,800 out of 3,945 precincts reporting, Edwards led Vitter 55 percent to 45 percent, prompting the Edwards campaign to declare victory late Saturday evening.

Click through for the rest of the story.  Although this article states "1,800 out of 3,945 precincts reporting", the Huffington Post's story says "Edwards won 56 percent of the vote, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.".  And from Mother Jones

Edwards has pledged to sign an executive order authorizing the expansion of the program on his first day in office. That's a really big deal. Such a move would provide coverage to about 225,000 residents in one of the poorest states in the nation.

It certainly looks like things are looking up for Louisiana.  About time!

Think Progress — When a parking lot attendant dared to recycle trash he picked up outside an upstate New York Walmart, the store fired him. Now generous strangers are trying to help cushion his sudden fall.

Thomas Smith, 52, had been earning $9 an hour at an upstate New York Walmart for less than three months when his manager terminated him over the cans. Smith was in charge of rounding up shopping carts from the lot outside the store, and started collecting trash from the lot while making his rounds. After storing up cans for a couple months, he recycled them in the store’s machines in early November. He got $5.10 for them.

Click through for the rest of the story.  I think the following line from the story sums up the situation: "That thief was white. Smith collected trash while black."

My Universe — 

Nov 192015

Well the wind finally stopped yesterday afternoon and the rain along with it . . . well at least for now.  More rain is on the way and Friday promises to be wet.  With colder temperatures and rain wherre I am, the mountains behind my house are guaranteed to be getting snow.  Some of the local ski hills are scheduling to open this weekend,  Some did not open at all or only for short periods last year because of the lack of snow.  May this year be better for them.  Today is a "lazy" day with 2 chores . . . the litterbox and some laundry, mostly linens.  Of course, I have tomorrow's articles and cat snuggling too!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:48 (average 4:24). To do it, click here. How did you do? 

Short Takes

Alternet — Twitter user @HistOpinion (Historical Opinion) tweeted out polls from 1939 and 1938 showing what Americans thought of political refugees, most of whom were Jewish, on the eve of World War II. On the question, "What’s your attitude towards allowing German, Austrian & other political refugees to come into the US?" the numbers are, in retrospect, devastating:

Indeed, a fear of "Jewish-Bolshevism" was very real as Juan Cole noted in Truth Dig:

Jews were also seen by some US Neanderthals as having socialist tendencies and so were kept out as radicals. There was talk of the Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy. (Hatred of Jews was irrational, so that they were blamed for being bankers [they were less than 1 percent of bankers] at the same time they were excoriated for being Marxists.) There was also the Society for the Defense of Christianity, so fundamentalists did their part.

An article in the Huffington Post takes a more personal look at the issue of admitting refugees, postulating that we should be proclaiming "never again" when it comes to ethnic refugees desperately fleeing their foe. Anti-refugee attitudes of the late 1930s have returned with a new Islamic target.

Déjà-vu?  I am inclined to think that the hysteria exhibited by many politicians, particularly Republicans, is reminiscent of the 1930s.  There are parallels that we should examine if the "never again" is to survive.  It is true that there have been genocides in the world since WWII, but none on the magnitude of the Holocaust.  We must ensure "never again" is very literally NEVER AGAIN and be compassionate.

Daily Kos — How ISIS is funded:

As ISIS fighters expand their control, it is in the border region, in villages like Besaslan, where the Islamic State group can make some of the money it needs to finance its wars. Oil-smuggling operations involving millions of barrels have recently been uncovered […]

Besides revenue from oil smuggling, the group receives money through donations from wealthy sympathizers in countries including Qatar and Kuwait.

There’s a reason the US is bombing ISIS/Daesh’s oil infrastructure. 

"We know the oil funds more than 50 percent of ISIL's operations," Warren said, using an acronym for Islamic State. "This is something we want to take away from them."

baiji oil refinery - iraqi forces guard

Iraqi soldiers guarding Baiji oil refinery after taking back from Daesh

Click through for the rest of the article.  In an article from the Wall Street Journal: U.S. Airstrikes Target Islamic State Oil Assets 

The U.S. has stepped up its attacks on Islamic State’s industrial base, striking more than 100 tanker trucks used to transport oil that helps the militant group earn tens of millions of dollars each month, an American military spokesman said Monday.

I remember hearing a saying about defeating something: you must cut off the head of the snake so the body will die.  This seems appropriate for Daesh.  Remove the source of much of its funding and Daesh will be weakened, perhaps easier to defeat.

Think Progress — Responding to the Paris attacks in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, presidential candidate and former governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) said that he could not think of any group targeting innocent civilians except for radical Muslims. Huckabee used this argument to justify the intensifying call for discriminatory policies toward Muslims seeking refugee status.

Click through for some statistics on terrorist attacks.  To quote Assistant Attorney General John Carlin,

“[O]ver the past few years, more people have died in this country in attacks by domestic extremists than in attacks associated with international terrorist groups,”  “[I]t doesn’t get discussed as much as it should.”

My Universe — One of these is different.  Can you tell which one it is?


Nov 182015

I thoroughly enjoyed a cup of tea and reading my book after my hair cut. The rain had stopped so it was at least dryer, but the wind . . . there were trees down everywhere and power was out to some 110,000 homes here during a very powerful wind storm.. Fortunately I was not affected so you get this Open Thread.  There were some 384 outages in Metro Vancouver alone.  Those affected will be without power for 24 – 36 hours.  I think the McDonald's drive through will be busy tomorrow for breakfast!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:24 (average 6:05). To do it, click here. How did you do? 

Short Takes

Huffington Post — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) ended his presidential campaign on Tuesday.

"I've come to the realization that this is not my time, so I've come here to announce that I am suspending my campaign for president of the United States," he told Fox News' Bret Baier.

Jindal, who entered the presidential race in June, has remained near the back of the Republican pack since then. In recent months, his persistently low polling numbers relegated him to the smaller televised events that preceded each of the main GOP debates.

This is the interview with Bret Baier of Faux:

Another one bites the dust!  What a waste of money for someone who wasn't going to win the nomination in the first place.  I wonder how many more will pull the plug before Iowa and New Hampshire?

Financial Post — Executives in the Canadian oilpatch are dismayed the federal government is poised to ban crude oil tanker traffic on the North Coast of B.C., which would hurt the Northern Gateway pipeline’s chances of being built.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau followed through on one of his election promises when he asked Transportation Minister Marc Garneau to “formalize a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on British Columbia’s North Coast” in a mandate letter published Friday.

Click through for the rest of the article.  Of course the anti-pipeline and anti-tanker people are happy, but oil industry people are not.  Nobody is going to walk away from this quietly.  Another article in the Financial Post notes,

[Vancouver-based energy lawyer with Watson Goepel LLP Warren] Brazier said the way the mandate letter is worded, there could still be exports of refined crude oil from the north coast — such as B.C. newspaper executive David Black has proposed with his $19-billion Kitimat Clean refinery project, which would be built in Kitimat.

So it's not over yet.

Huffington Post — The U.S. can either lead by example or turn its back on human suffering, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in an impassioned 12-minute address on the Senate floor Tuesday.

Speaking in response to the calls to turn Syrian refugees away from the U.S. following the bombings and attacks last week that left a combined 172 people dead in Beirut and Paris, Warren argued that the country now faces a stark moral choice.

Click through for the rest.  Go Lizzie!

Think Progress — A Texas state legislator wants the U.S. to stop allowing Syrian refugees into the country. His reasoning: They might be able to buy guns in his state.

Rep. Tony Dale (R) made this argument in a television interview on Monday and in letters to Texas’ U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz (R) and U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul and John Carter (R).

“While the Paris attackers used suicide vests and grenades,” Dale wrote, “it is clear that firearms also killed a large number of innocent victims. Can you imagine a scenario were [sic] a refugees [sic] is admitted to the United States, is provided with federal cash payments and other assistance, obtains a drivers license and purchases a weapon and executes an attack?” He urged the lawmakers to “do whatever you can to stop the [Syrian refugee] program.”

Click through to the rest of this absurdity!  I am still shaking my head over this.  In my mind, this is thinly disguised discrimination.

My Universe — Have you ever wondered what the name is of Simon's cat?  Perhaps today's video will give you some ideas.

Nov 172015

Well Monday is done and Tuesday is upon us.  There was no ice in the morning but the rain was vicious all day.  In West Vancouver, there was some snow, and I am sure there was some snow in the mountains above me . . . I just couldn't see it because of the thick rain clouds.  It has been raining today but rain and wind should intensify later this afternoon. After I have my hair cut this afternoon, I just might stop for a nice cup of Earl Grey tea (my favourite) and relax with a book.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:47 (average 4:56). To do it, click here. How did you do? 

Fantasy Football

Rank Team W-L-T Pct Stk Waiver For Against

Monster MashersMonster Mashers

7-3-0 .700 L1 10 1,002.34 748.84

BALCO BombersBALCO Bombers

7-3-0 .700 W4 9 950.96 793.22

Progressive UnderdogsProgressive Underdogs

6-4-0 .600 W2 8 1,016.66 906.92

Lefty HillbilliesLefty Hillbillies

6-4-0 .600 W1 7 948.50 844.04


6-4-0 .600 W1 6 926.22 796.88

Purple DemonPurple Demon

5-5-0 .500 W3 5 948.16 970.96

Size 9 StompersSize 9 Stompers

5-5-0 .500 L1 4 851.08 851.16

Playing without a helmetPlaying without a helmet

4-6-0 .400 L3 3 824.80 953.40

TomCat Teabag TrashersTomCat Teabag Trashers

3-7-0 .300 L3 2 884.98 1,059.66


1-9-0 .100 L9 1 633.20 1,061.82

* Rank change shown is from week 9 – 10

Short Takes

Daily Beast — A series of interviews with Ben Carson prove once again that foreign policy isn’t brain surgery. No, seriously.

In the wake of the horrific terrorist attack in Paris on Friday, Ben Carson has done a great job showing the world just how little he knows about foreign policy over and over again.

Click through for the rest of this short piece, which is apparently much longer than Carson's foreign policy knowledge.  And this is the pseudo politician that many Republican voters want in the White House?  I wonder how long it will take Carson to call this question a "gotcha question" and start railing against the "liberal press" [snark]?

Huffington Post — A video of a father explaining the Paris attacks to his son has captured our hearts.

In Friday’s aftermath, French news broadcast Le Petit Journal interviewed the unnamed child to ask if he understood what happened in his city and why the shootings happened. “Yes, because they’re really, really mean,” the boy said. “Bad guys are not very nice.”

As the boy began to worry that his family would have to move, the father stepped in. “No, don’t worry. We don’t need to move out,” the dad said. “France is our home.”

Click through for the rest of the article and a video of the boy and his father.  It is a hanky moment to be sure.  the innocence of a child juxtaposed against the carnage of bombs.

And here is something I received from Wendy Kelly @ Care2 that is very moving.

The husband of a young woman who died in the horrific Terrorist Attacks in Paris has written a heartbreaking letter to her killers.

Antoine Leiris, a journalist at France Bleu, declared that he and their baby son would not live in fear of terrorists.

In the tragic note, titled 'You will not have my hatred' he wrote: "On Friday evening you stole the life of an exceptional person, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hatred.

"I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls. If this God for whom you kill blindly made us in his image, every bullet in the body of my wife is a wound in his heart.

"So no, I will not give you the satisfaction of hating you. You want it, but to respond to hatred with anger would be to give in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.

"You would like me to be scared, for me to look at my fellow citizens with a suspicious eye, for me to sacrifice my liberty for my security. You have lost. The player still plays.

"I saw her this morning. At last, after nights and days of waiting. She was as beautiful as when she left on Friday evening, as beautiful as when I fell head over heels in love with her more than 12 years ago.

"Of course I am devastated with grief, I grant you this small victory, but it will be short-lived.

"I know she will be with us every day and we will find each other in heaven with free souls which you will never have.

"Us two, my son and I, we will be stronger than every army in the world. I cannot waste any more time on you as I must go back to [my son] who has just woken from his sleep.

"He is only just 17 months old, he is going to eat his snack just like every other day, then we are going to play like every other day and all his life this little boy will be happy and free.

"Because you will never have his hatred either."

These two fathers also remind me of Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian medical doctor, now resident in Canada, who wrote the book I Shall Not Hate following the killing of three of his daughters by Israeli forces in Gaza some years ago.

The Atlantic — In the face of overwhelming scientific consensus, today’s Republican leaders either deny climate science outright or insist that any solution, as Marco Rubio recently claimed, “would have a devastating impact on our economy.” This has relegated the GOP to playing defense at the moment that President Obama is turning climate mitigation into a central pillar of his legacy and heading to Paris to broker a global climate agreement. Republicans have backed themselves into a losing climate position that not only reflects poor science, poor economics, and poor strategy, but also betrays enduring conservative principles.

Click through for the rest of the article.  I think the following statement from the article sums things up.  

"But what makes for good policy does not necessarily make for good politics."

Republicans are much more interested in ideology than in governing for the public good.  The Conservative government in Australia has approved the Carmichael coal mine backed by India's Adani Enterprises in central Queensland.  The COemissions alone outstripe many of the world's major cities.  And what it means to the Great Barrier Reef is past appalling.

aitgraphWhat it means to a world already facing increasing temperatures is more trouble.  2015 is set to be the hotest year on record and 2016 will likely follow.

My Universe — 

Nov 172015

Yesterday was a much better day.  I made four laps around the unit.  My previous high was one lap.

Short Takes:

From Washington Post (Thanks to Judi Angel {aka JL A} for bringing the issue to my attention.): The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday that it will review whether Virginia lawmakers improperly packed minority voters into one congressional district at the expense of their influence elsewhere in the state.

The court will consider whether earlier court decisions that ruled the districts invalid were correct. A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia has twice invalidated the boundaries of a snake-like district that stretches from Richmond southeast to Norfolk — and ordered lawmakers to redraw the election map.

The Supreme Court’s action represents a small victory for Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City), whose chambers would draw up the boundaries. Republicans had insisted on letting appeals play out before they abided by the order in case the high court intervened, as it did Friday.

There are two downsides to this. The first is that the Republican Reich can disobey the District Court decision until SCOTUS decides, which could be as late as the first Monday in October. The Second is the fascist five Injustices of SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD). This case is so obvious that I suspect SCROTUS will decide correctly but too late to implement the decision before the 2016 election.

From Daily Kos: Chris Whipple has written a story at Politico offering a long teaser of the upcoming Showtime documentary The Spymasters. He and two colleagues spent more than a hundred hours interviewing the 12 living CIA directors, with considerable focus on the 9/11 attacks. Although the overall picture of failure by the administration to prevent the attacks has long been known, the story and documentary provide some added details. The key detail is that the warnings the Bush White House received from the CIA in the summer of 2001 were a lot more chilling than the infamous August 6 presidential daily brief.

Click through for more. Perhaps this is because both the Bush and Bin Laden families made a bundle by short selling the companies hardest hit financially. They did this through a wholly owned subsidiary of the Carlyle Group.

From The New Yorker: On Sunday’s edition of “Meet the Press,” Jeb Bush said that it was time for the United States to go to war with ISIS, and to put together an international coalition to rout the jihadis from their strongholds in Syria and Iraq. “We should declare war and harness all of the power that the United States can bring to bear, both diplomatic and military of course, to be able to take out ISIS,” Bush, who is trailing badly in the G.O.P. Presidential polls, said. “We have the capabilities of doing this, we just haven’t shown the will.”

InsaniTEA! If Strike Three is elected, we’re out.



Place your bets!

Nov 162015

The weather here was good today, sunny and windy, but it was about 8 C (46 F) warm enough for mid November. Tonight or early tomorrow morning we are expecting rain.  Current temperature is 0 C (32 F).  I hope this does not mean icy streets in the morning when I have to go to physio. I'd hate to miss the opportunity to be chastised by my therapist for falling on my face. I have enjoyed several of Lona's cat naps this afternoon/evening, but the rest of the week is looking quite busy.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:57 (average 5:18). To do it, click here. How did you do? 

Short Takes

NY Times — Ali Awad, 14, was chopping vegetables when the first bomb struck. Adel Tormous, who would die tackling the second bomber, was sitting at a nearby coffee stand. Khodr Alaa Deen, a registered nurse, was on his way to work his night shift at the teaching hospital of the American University at Beirut, inLebanon.

All three lost their lives in a double suicide attack in Beirut on Thursday, along with 40 others, and much like the scores who died a day later in Paris, they were killed at random, in a bustling urban area, while going about their normal evening business.

Around the crime scenes in south Beirut and central Paris alike, a sense of shock and sadness lingered into the weekend, with cafes and markets quieter than usual. The consecutive rampages, both claimed by the Islamic State, inspired feelings of shared, even global vulnerability — especially in Lebanon, where many expressed shock that such chaos had reached France, a country they regarded as far safer than their own.

But for some in Beirut, that solidarity was mixed with anguish over the fact that just one of the stricken cities — Paris — received a global outpouring of sympathy akin to the one lavished on the United States after the 9/11 attacks.

Click through for the rest of the article.  High on my mind, like so many others, has been the Friday terrorist attacks in Paris.  I had read about the Beirut bombings and I was sad for the people, like I am sad for the people of Syria and Iraq who endure so much death and uncertainty daily.  But what makes Paris so different to Beirut?  In reality, nothing.  In both cases, innocent lives were broken apart by the same group, Daesh.  The people in Beirut ask a valid question, do Arab lives matter less.

“When my people died, no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colors of their flag,” Elie Fares, a Lebanese doctor, wrote on his blog. “When my people died, they did not send the world into mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.”

Do we in the west have a double standard?  Do some lives matter more than others.  This is a question we all should be wrestling with.  All lives matter equally!

Mother Jones — "The Court now has the opportunity to decide whether we will continue to allow elected officials to play politics with women's health," wrote Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America,in a statement. "This case represents the greatest threat to women's reproductive freedom since the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade over 40 years ago. Laws like the ones being challenged in Texas are designed to subvert the Constitution and end the right to a safe and legal abortion."

Click through for the rest of the article.  With the decision expected in early 2016, this issue, no matter which way it goes, will likely be an election issue.  It is time for women to stand up forcefully for their reproductive health.  Women and their doctors should be making these decisions, not politicians.

Raw Story — Following Friday night’s terrorist attacks in Paris that claimed 129 lives, prospective 2016 GOP presidential candidates were quick to find fault and assign blame by going after Democrats and slamming Syrian refugees before French authorities even began their investigation.

Republicans flooded the airwaves Sunday morning, variously criticizing their Democratic counterparts for failing to use the term “radical Islam,” and faulting the administration for not putting “boots on the ground” in Syria while warning of another 9/11 attack in the U.S.

Responding to all three Democratic nominees using “radical jihadists” in their debate instead of blaming Islam, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee claimed Democrats are more invested in defending Islam than protecting Americans.

“It’s become apparent on the Democratic side, whether it is the current president or the one who wishes to be president, they’re more interested in protecting the image of Islam than they are protecting Americans,” Huckabee told Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

Click through for the rest of the article.  Is there anyone of sound mind in the Republican Party?  Here is Jeb Bush on the subject (from Raw Story).

And Ted Cruz of course has plenty to say (from Raw Story).

Cruz made the case that the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night proved that Christians are under siege, even though the attacks were on nightlife hot spots and not religious targets. Before the rally, Cruz told to reporters and said Christians need constitutional protections because they are most ostracized today, according to CNN…

Do I think Christians are under siege as Cruz says?  No!  Do I think that Christians need constitutional prtections? They already have 1st amendment rights.  What these pseudo Christians are wanting is the right to discriminate and the right to turn the US into a Christian theocracy.

My Universe —