Mar 012016
 

I’m continuing to improve, but I’m so far behind on everything that I’m completely swamped.  Therefore this is today’s only article.  Hugs!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:14 (average 4:51).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: Adding a new wrinkle in an already unpredictable election year, Donald Trump saw his poll numbers plummet on Monday after receiving a surprise endorsement from President Barack Obama.

The long-awaited downfall of the abrasive billionaire came in startling fashion, as few had expected the President to offer a full-throated endorsement of Trump, especially on the eve of the all-important Super Tuesday primaries.

Praising the Republican front-runner during a nationally televised address, the President said that, despite media reports to the contrary, Trump shared his views on such important issues as immigration and religious tolerance. “In every way that matters, Donald and I are on exactly the same page,” Obama said, pointing to a framed picture of the billionaire on his Oval Office desk.

Uh Oh!! Andy put InsaniTEA in his Wacky Tobacky!! Dang!!

From Daily Kos: Only hours ago, in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN, Donald Trump repeatedly refused to repudiate a political endorsement of Trump’s candidacy from KKK leader David Duke, pleading ignorance of Duke and what he represents (white supremacy):

Barf Bag Alert!!

 

Hateful Hairball has already demonstrated his racism.

From NY Times: Nearly three years after Iran’s reform-minded president was elected, the most reactionary voices in Iranian politics are losing ground to moderates buoyed by the sweeping nuclear deal with big powers, including the United States.

Though hard-liners still control the most powerful positions and institutions of the state, two national elections last week appeared to build on the slow but unmistakable evolution toward a more moderate political landscape — now and into the future.

It’s a pleasure to report good news for a change.

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Feb 292016
 

I have stayed low for the weekend hoping my foot would do some healing.  And it has!  Tomorrow is physio and teaching.  My physiotherapist will be taking another shot at my foot.  Starting 07/03/2016 Lucia will be taking an ESL class with other students and she won't have her 2 youngest to worry about.  I am going to see if I can sit in on a class or two so that I can tailor our Friday 1-on-1 to her classroom needs.  I am really excited for her as she will have a much better time learning without her 2 youngest children interrupting.

Short Takes

Huffington Post — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won a strong vote of confidence and reformist partners secured surprise gains in parliament in early results from elections that could speed up the Islamic Republic's emergence from years of isolation.

Foad Izadi, an assistant professor at the Faculty of World Studies in Tehran University said the reformists' strong showing was prompted by Rouhani's success in reaching a nuclear agreement between Iran and international powers, the removal of most of the sanctions that had strangled the country's economy over the past decade and restoration of relations with the West.

"It is a sweeping victory for Tehran but for other cities it is not yet clear cut. It is beyond expectations," he added.

Etemad, a reformist newspaper whose managing-editor Elias Hazrati won a seat in Tehran, chose the headline of "clean up in the parliament."

Along with hope of a parliamentary clean up comes hope for better economic times.  As noted in a Foreign Policy article,

Hassan Rouhani had been president for almost a year, and Iran and the group of six world powers — the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia, and Germany — had inked an interim nuclear agreement in Geneva. For the first time in years, Kaveh no longer felt hopeless about the future of his country. Members of the business community, like him, believed Rouhani had the political grit necessary to fight corruption and bring economic change. The prospects of a nuclear deal had them revitalized, he told me. Kaveh had become a senior executive at a private aviation firm and was especially excited because sanctions for aviation had been relaxed; his company had launched talks with a European firm to buy new airplanes. International delegations were trickling in for business talks, and there was even talk of trade with America, Kaveh said excitedly.  …

… in 2016, Kaveh’s attitude has again shifted. Although there are glimmers of hope on the horizon of the Iranian economy, he tells me true change will take longer than he once thought.

There is change, but it will take time to reconnect economically.  When there are 2 intractable players like the US and the Iranian hardliners, it will take that much longer to repair the economic damage.  Click through for the remainder of these two related articles.

Right Wing Watch — After vowing to go after journalists who write critical stories about him at a rally in Texas today, Donald Trump bragged about the support his presidential campaign has received from conservative evangelical voters, touting endorsements from televangelist Paula White, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., and Sarah Palin.

Trump even brought Robert Jeffress, the conservative televangelist notorious for his anti-gay, anti-Catholic and anti-Mormon preaching, onto the stage to sing his praises. Jeffress called Trump a patriot “who is truly pro-life,” unlike Hillary Clinton, whom he warned would be “the most pro-abortion president in history.”

“God bless Donald Trump,” Jeffress declared. Trump had a much bleaker message: “Christianity is under siege. Every year it gets weaker and weaker and weaker.”

He said he would restore Christianity to greatness by scrapping IRS regulations pertaining to church engagement in partisan political activity on behalf of candidates or campaigns.

Listening to this ass is frightening.  He panders . . . panders to the evangelicals and the haters.  He panders to their fears without true regard to the consequences.  In an Alternet article, "…McConnell reportedly told colleagues that the party will drop Trump “like a hot rock” if he is the nominee."  I guess we wait a little longer.

Truthdig — “There is a clear contrast between our two candidates with regard to my strong belief that we must end the interventionist, regime change policies that have cost us so much,” she [U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii] wrote. “This is not just another ‘issue.’ This is THE issue, and it’s deeply personal to me. This is why I’ve decided to resign as Vice Chair of the DNC so that I can support Bernie Sanders in his efforts to earn the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential race.”

From the beginning, it seems that the deck has been stacked against Bernie.  Not only has the press virtually ignored him, but the DNC has as well.  I question whether the chairperson of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has been equally concerned about neutrality since she was a Clinton 2008 national campaign co-chair.

My Universe

I hate that animals are brutalised like Duffy was, but I love the transformations!

Now if people could only get the message that animals and people should not be brualised, not abused but LOVED!

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Jan 212016
 

Yesterday stayed busy.  After my shower-aide left, Safeway.com delivered groceries, which I put away.  Then my helper friend came.  We did laundry, and I tried on everything in my closet to determine what to keep and what to throw away.  The goal is to make the clothes I wear more accessible.  This morning I spent a couple hours doing volunteer work, researching two potential appointees to the Parole Board.  We want thee board to diversify.  A Board consisting only of Prosecutors, Parole Officers, and Victims’ Rights Advocates insures bias against prisoners, rather than a fair hearing.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:00 (average 4:44).  To do it, click here.  How did you do.

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: In a clip from her upcoming special "Marriage Material," Esposito tackles gun culture.

 

This is a big take-down of Republican Ammosexuals.

From Daily Kos: Rachel Maddow points out the inconvenient truths about Ronald Reagan as GOP candidates attempt to live vicariously through a misremembered idol. It has been the modus operandi of Republican candidates as they wrap themselves in their parties icon. It is no different than Hillary Clinton wrapping herself in President Obama during the 4th Democratic Debate.

Recently GOP candidates have been attacking President Obama on the deal he made to bring the hostages home from Iran. Marco Rubio told Chuck Todd he would be like Ronald Reagan in dealing with Iran. Unfortunately Rubio is severely misremembering a Ronald Reagan who traded arms for hostages in Iran. He admitted it on national TV. Many of his National Security team were indicted. It was known as the Iran Contra scandal.

 

This is Rachel’s original video, as the clip included with the article did not embed. Today’s Republicans prefer not to remember either the crimes or the “librul” tax increases perpetrated by Saint Ronnie Ray Gun.

From NY Times: Scientists reported Wednesday that 2015 was the hottest year in the historical record by far, breaking a mark set only the year before — a burst of heat that has continued into the new year and is roiling weather patterns all over the world.

In the contiguous United States, the year was the second-warmest on record, punctuated by a December that was both the hottest and the wettest since record-keeping began. One result has been a wave of unusual winter floods coursing down the Mississippi River watershed.

Scientists started predicting a global temperature record months ago, in part because an El Niño weather pattern, one of the largest in a century, is releasing an immense amount of heat from the Pacific Ocean into the atmosphere. But the bulk of the record-setting heat, they say, is a consequence of the long-term planetary warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

“The whole system is warming up, relentlessly,” said Gerald A. Meehl, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

The faster we convert top green energy, the less catastrophic the effects will be.

The faster we convert top green energy, the less catastrophic the effects will be.

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Jan 172016
 

Today is another high holy day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb.  Congrats to the Patriots and the Cardinals who the Orb blessed yesterday.  The later game was a nail biter, but I have to say, as a disinterested party, that the Cardinals had extraordinary assistance from the Zebras on more than one occasion.  Today I suspect that the Panthers will dine on Fricassee of Seachicken.  My Broncos can beet the Steelers, if the right Broncos show up and stay for all 60 minutes.  I don’t have to tell you my plans for the day.

Jig Zoned Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:43 (average 6:03).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: A fact checker who has vetted all of the 2016 Republican Presidential debates was hospitalized for exhaustion during the sixth G.O.P. forum in Charleston on Thursday evening.

Martin Slessky, a former journalist who works for HonestyWatch, a Minnesota-based fact-checking organization, was resting comfortably after suffering what his doctors called a “total physical and mental collapse” during Thursday’s debate.

Harland Dorrinson, the executive director of HonestyWatch, said he first became concerned about Slessky’s health when the fact checker started having heart palpitations and shortness of breath every time Texas senator Ted Cruz spoke.

“I turned to Martin and said, ‘Are you all right? Are you going to be able to make it through this?’ ” Dorrinson said. “And he said, ‘I’ll be fine. Ben Carson is starting to talk now, that’ll be soothing.’ ”

But moments later, when New Jersey governor Chris Christie falsely claimed that he never supported the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Slessky experienced acute dizziness and blurry vision, and was immediately rushed to the hospital.

Andy, I’m amazed his job didn’t kill him.

From Daily Kos: Charles Carter and Vincent Smith were right-wing extremists planning a "Paul Revere 2016 Final March to Restore America" [Republican Ammosexuals Delinked] — a cross-country caravan to “remove the corrupt leadership that has taken over our beloved country and ousted her God and constitution.“

On Monday, police in Grayson County, Texas reported one person was dead as the result of a gunshot wound to the head. Although they didn’t name the victim or the suspect, Raw Story​ notes that right-wingers on Facebook were quick to identify the victim as Charles Carter and the shooter as Vincent Smith: [Republicans delinked]

Posthumous Barf Bag Alert!!

 

Throw the book at the Republican murderer. I shall not mourn the victim.

From NY Times: The United States and European nations lifted oil and financial sanctions on Iran and released roughly $100 billion of its assets after international inspectors concluded that the country had followed through on promises to dismantle large sections of its nuclear program.

So far diplomacy has worked, and Iran has taken steps that Republicans predicted would never happen. Nevertheless, Republicans are still beating the drums of war.

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Jan 032016
 

Well I spent yesterday doing laundry and the Politics Plus Monthly Report so I pooped out before doing an Open Thread.  Today, the end of the laundry!  As I sit here, I can hear the fog horn blowing out in the inlet.  Tomorrow is physio, teaching, and a doctor's appointment so it will be a long day.

Short Takes

Huffington Post — But 2016 Republican candidate Carly Fiorina dismissed Iran’s reaction to the death of the leading anti-government protester.

“I take the Iranian condemnation with a huge grain of salt,” Fiorina told CNN’s "State of the Union" on Sunday. “This is a regime that tortures citizens routinely, that thinks nothing of executions, that still holds four Americans in jail.”  

Retired neurosurgeon and presidential hopeful Ben Carson went further, suggesting that the nuclear deal struck last July between Iran, the U.S. and five world powers pushed Saudi Arabia to violently repress its Shiite population.

“The Saudis have been one of our strongest allies in the Middle East, and I think it’s unfortunate that we put them in the position we have by showing the support to Iran that we have with this foolish deal,” Carson told ABC’s “This Week." 

These Republicans call Saudi Arabia an ally of the US yet Saudi Arabia, according to the Human Rights Watch World Report 2015. continues to "… try, convict, and imprison political dissidents and human rights activists solely on account of their peaceful activities. Systematic discrimination against women and religious minorities continued. … subjected hundreds of people to unfair trials and arbitrary detention. New anti-terrorism regulations that took effect in 2014 can be used to criminalize almost any form of peaceful criticism of the authorities as terrorism."  In addition, Saudi Arabia is the world's #1 importer of arms as at 2014.  What does it do with all these arms when it only has a standing armed forces of 239,000?  The Saudi's have not assisted in the placement of refugees from anything I have heard, and in the past were thought to be supporting ISIS in various ways.

The US is seen as the "boogeyman" in the Middle East, contributing substantially to the instability in the region.  But Saudi Arabia is destabilising force as well.  By executing Shiite dissident cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, Saudi Arabia has upped the ante.  The Iranian response has not helped either, but it is a direct response to Saudi Arabia's provocative action.

Count on Republicans to throw gasoline on a fire.

The Guardian — Speaking in Biloxi, Mississippi, the Republican presidential hopeful implied that the Obama administration should have heeded his call for the US to seize oil assets controlled by Isis but had instead allowed the terror group to prosper.

“I’ve predicted a lot of things, you have to say, including, ‘Get the oil, take the oil, keep the oil.’ Right? I’ve been saying that for three years, and everybody said, ‘Oh, I can’t do that. I mean, this is a sovereign country. There is no country!” Trump said.

They’ve created Isis. Hillary Clinton created Isis with Obama,” Trump said.

As I understand, ISIS was "created" by Baby Bush and Cheney when they invaded Iraq for oil, toppled Sadam Hussein and left a vacuum in Iraq.  Out of the sectarian violence came ISIS to fill the vacuum.  And leave it to Trump not to acknowledge the role his inflamatory rhetoric has played in recruitment videos.  He probably wants an OSCAR nomination for his work.

Alternet — "Fear," a great Jedi master named Yoda once said, "leads to anger," which leads to hate, which leads to suffering, which, of course, leads to the Dark Side.  

In other words, it went down exactly the way Republicans wanted it to go down. They've always used fear to win elections.

Whether it's fear of same-sex couples getting married, fear of the government taking away the people's guns or fear of Black men, they've always understood that fear works to motivate their white base.

IMO, Thom Hartmann is spot on.  Time to get the progressive vote out and talk down the fear.

My Universe — 

10683509"Please sir, might I have more?"

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Dec 312015
 

Today started on the rough side with a morning blood sugar low but the day culminated in some fun at the movies — I saw the new Star Wars movie finally.  The theatre was packed, but pleasantly, the seats were new and so very comfortable.  I haven't been to a movie in over a year.  I did manage to nap about 12:30 am as I was trying to finish this post . . . I was cold.  So now I am warm and finishing what I started.

The Guardian — Donald Trump, billionaire Republican presidential frontrunner, has changed his mind about wages: Americans aren’t earning enough. He’s also not keen on Wall Street. The shift has Trump on a collision course with Democrat Bernie Sanders – while oddly agreeing with many of his points.

“Wages in are [sic] country are too low, good jobs are too few, and people have lost faith in our leaders. We need smart and strong leadership now!” Trump tweeted on Monday.

flip flops 3  flip flops 2

The opinion appeared to reverse what the Republican frontrunner said in November during the fourth Republican debate. Asked if he was sympathetic to the protesters demanding a $15-an-hour minimum wage, Trump said: “I can’t be.”

Flip-flops!  No matter how Trump tries to dress them, patriotic stars and stripes, or oh the horror, a diversity of colours, flip-flops are still just flip-flops.  For someone who says he means what he says, and says what he means, Trump has a great stock of flip-flops!

Huffington Post — “Is this light ever going to turn green, or are we stuck here forever?” he says at one intersection.

While he waits, the Kmart across the street sparks a memory. Fischer used to shoot up heroin in the parking lot. “This is all my old stomping grounds,” he says half in awe, half in anger at his former self. “I used to drive up and down this road a thousand times a night.”  

Fischer is going to an opioid addiction treatment clinic. In Fort Collins, a doctor will meet with him for a half hour and write him a prescription for a month’s supply of buprenorphine, a medication that blunts his cravings for heroin and other short-acting opioids. Fischer has spent a dozen or so years dealing with his addiction. He’d tried 12-step and abstinence-only programs three times, but each attempt at recovery had ended in relapse.

The public health establishment, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the World Health Organization, has said that medications like buprenorphine (and methadone), when coupled with counseling, give people with opioid addiction the best odds for recovery. Buprenorphine is also more difficult to misuse than heroin. The synthetic opioid is what’s known as a partial agonist — meaning there’s a limit to how much the medication can affect people who use it.  

Fischer credits the trips to Colorado with saving his life. With the help of his medication, he has been in recovery for 13 months. He stopped hiding from family members and settled down with his girlfriend. The recent birth of his son, Fischer says, has given him a new sense of purpose.  

There’s a reason why Fischer and his mother must wake up before dawn, share road space with 18-wheelers and mule deer, and waste a day off from work. Addiction medicine is still not mainstream medicine. The federal government has helped to keep it that way.

In Squatch’s Open Thread 29/12/2015, I presented an article about how Portugal had decriminalised drugs and began treating drug addiction as a healthcare issue rather than a punitive issue.  Perhaps this is a step towards seeing addiction in the US for what it is . . . a healthcare issue. But lawmakers and government administration must see addiction for what it is . . . a healthcare issue.

Foreign Policy — Mohammad Khatami, Iran’s last reformist president, and another figure close to Khomeini, is less likely to be seen in public as the elections approach. Exemplifying the tension at the top of the political system, Khatami’s image is banned by the authorities, after being cast aside and dubbed a “seditionist” by the regime ever since the pro-democracy protests of 2009. However, the former president has shown he still has political influence: It was he who urged Mohammad Reza Aref, a reformist, to withdraw in the 2013 presidential election, which allowed Rouhani to win by consolidating the support of moderate voters.

But there are other members of Iran’s political system who want Khomeini to stay out of public life. His potential adversaries know him as a moderate cleric, similar to Rouhani, but much younger and with reformist instincts. Already weakened and angry at Rouhani’s nuclear deal, Iran’s conservative political faction is anxious that the Feb. 26 elections for the Assembly of Experts and the parliament could see their influence reduced further. If things go really badly for the conservatives, they could even be reduced to third place in parliament — lagging behind moderates backed by the president and a quiet but potentially reinvigorated reformist faction.

And we thought American politics were filled with twists and turns.  If the US, including its citizenry, is going to call Iran an enemy, then it pays to know what or who it is standing against.  Interesting too, Iran has a conservative faction, "Republicans" if you like, that want to stand in the way of progress and peace.  Click through for the rest of the article.

My Universe — 

ATT530856

And all he wants to do is order some take-out kibble!

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Dec 232015
 

The eyes are good today and no longer subject to the drops used in the eye exam, so I am good for another year!  It has rained most of the day, and it is particularly hard right now . . . I can hear it on the roof.  I sure hope Santa has swim trunks because he is likely to need them!  My post may be very brief tomorrow as I have Christmas dinner with friends and I am incharge of the roast yams in honey.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:02 (average 5:25). To do it, click here. How did you do?

Short Takes

Huffington Post — When government officials came to collect children from Jean Marie River for residential school, residents of the remote village in the Northwest Territories said they'd keep their kids at home, thanks very much. 

In what may have been unique among Canadian First Nations, they decided to build their own school. And now, as Canadians grapple with the legacy of residential schools, Jean Marie River is trying to commemorate the fact it doesn't have to.  

Shingle Point Residential School & Home For Boys, Mackenzie District, N.W.T. in 1930

The Alert Bay Mission School in British Columbia in 1885

The school only taught the first six grades, but that was enough to ground kids before they went to Fort Simpson.

"It gave us a good, solid base as compared to people that went to residential schools that didn't have a nurturing mother, that didn't have a model of how to become a caring mother," Gladys Norwegian said.

"I think it helped me to become comfortable with who I am. I didn't really need to explain to anybody what being an aboriginal person means. I was comfortable in my skin."

For the people of Jean Marie River, saying no to the residential school system made for a stronger community, confident and proud.  I will make no apologies for strongly disliking former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative harlots.  Only with a new government lead by Justin Trudeau has there been a commitment to Canadian Aboriginal peoples, a commitment to work in partnership and respect.  Here is Trudeau's commitment, a renewal of the relationship between the government and Aboriginal peoples.  

Politico — But there is a far bigger problem with Cruz: Donald Trump is not the most self-absorbed Republican running for president—Cruz is. Whether you like Trump or not (and I don’t), at least Trump makes no effort to hide his narcissism. In that sense, Trump is oddly genuine.

Cruz, on the other hand, takes great pains to be whatever he thinks you want him to be. And the troubling thing is he’s really good at it.

I sure am glad that this Republican is all yours!  And if this conservative's view is not completely convincing of Cruz's narcissism, have a look at a Cruz campaign rally that turned into a prayer revival.

Global News — An Idaho lunch lady has been fired after she gave a hungry student a free meal.

Dalene Bowden, a former server at Irving Middle School in Pocatello, Idaho, was terminated from her position on Dec. 15 for “theft” when she gave a 12-year-old student free lunch because the young girl couldn’t afford the meal.

“I handed her the food and said ‘here we’ll take care of it in a minute,’” told Bowden to KPVI News.

How Republican of the school district and the supervisor.

Politico — As Iran prepares to announce it has dismantled its nuclear program and thus should have its sanctions lifted on what will be known as “Implementation Day,” probably in January, sniping is growing on all sides. Opponents of the nuclear deal in Congress are urging President Barack Obama not to go easy on Iran for its recent ballistic missile tests and other non-nuclear activities just to try to save the agreement. Iranian officials, meanwhile, are pointing to recent changes in U.S. visa laws as a potential violation of the deal, saying the new rules will damage Iran's economy by penalizing legitimate business travelers and innocent Iranian dual nationals.

If Implementation Day comes and goes without a problem, it will bolster Obama's theory that diplomacy is worth trying even with a longstanding U.S. nemesis. If it is delayed significantly or scuttled completely, it will damage a major piece of the president's foreign policy legacy.  

As part of the nuclear deal, the U.S. committed to refrain from policies that are “specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.” But Iranian officials view the new visa laws as damaging to their economy because they could scare off investors. Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif has called the new restrictions "absurd." Some European officials also have warned that the changes could violate the nuclear deal.  

But Iranian leaders haven't been mollified. Some suggested Monday that lobbying by Israel — a staunch foe of Iran and the nuclear deal — prompted the new visa rules. Many Iranians aren't buying that their country isn't being singled out, asking why Congress targeted Iran but not Saudi Arabia or Pakistan in a law ostensibly aimed at stopping terrorism.

It would seem that the Republican dominated Congress is just itching to go to war with Iran.  Personally, I think Iran has a point about the US targetting Iran.  The halls of power are too often filled with political intrigue to which we are never made privy.

My Universe

cat-5“I like to refer to it as aging gracefully, but whatever.”

cat-7

"Did you just fart?"

Via Giphy

“You’re getting sleepy. Very sleepy….”

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Oct 132015
 

Well today was turkey day!  I say "was" because I have already consumed a wonderfully moist turkey dinner with all the trimmings and a piece of pumpkin pie.  I am satiated!  I can still smell that turkey! So now to finish up with that smell firmly planted in my mind. 

Puzzle — Today’s took me 4:40 (average 5:51). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

Upworthy — Kids try to tell us things all the time that they don't know how to describe.

They don't have the words to say it. Or they're embarrassed, or terrified, like the child in this video. (And while the stat at the end of the video is specifically about India, I've included a look at other countries and here at home below.)

It pays to be very aware of what is going on with kids.  Listen to what theysay, and don't say.

Alternet — Why is Ryan likely to take the bait and become the next speaker? As he wrote in 2012, grousing about compromise after compromise that he had to vote for, “Taken together, these experiences taught me valuable lessons about how the House and Senate operate, and I came away with an even deeper appreciation for the role of congressional leadership. Who holds the top post really matters because the decisions they make at the outset determine the votes that ever member has to take and how much good we can achieve for the country and our fellow citizens.”

What follows are six examples of the “good we can achieve” if Ryan becomes speaker.

Read the entire Alternet article to get a flavour of Ryan's “good we can achieve”.  I don't think that there will much of any good coming out Washington with a severely conservative Congress. November 2015 is the time to make some changes at the state and local levels.  2016 is the time to make big changes in the Congress for a more balanced Congress, a progressive Congress. 

Huffington Post — Iran's parliament passed a bill on Tuesday supporting a nuclear deal with world powers, signaling a victory for the government over conservative opponents of the agreement and clearing the way for it to be implemented.

Athena Image

Many lawmakers strongly opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that President Hassan Rouhani's government reached with world powers on July 14, and Tuesday's vote removes an obstacle to putting the agreement into practice.

The article goes on to state that if sanctions are not removed as per the agreement, Iran will resume its nuclear activities.  With saber rattling by Sunni Saudi Arabia towards Shite Iran and Russia, there is more chance of a bigger war in the Middle East.  All parties must stick to the deal.  Spend some time reading The Historic Deal that Will Prevent Iran from Acquiring a Nuclear Weapon .

My Universe — 

 

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Oct 022015
 

It has been a fairly relaxing day, although most of it has been spent at the computer working on Friday's and Saturday's articles.  That means tonnes of reading and other research.  Tomorrow I have physio, closely followed by teaching ESL so time is short.  Thanks to Lona for the supply of cat naps to which I avail myself from time to time.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:24 (average 5:23). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Upworthy — h/t JL — Cats. We love them, but do they love us? We may never know. But there's one thing we know … cats hate patriarchy.

If you've ever tried to make a cat live up to your expectations of cat behavior, you probably already know this. They despise ALL systems of unequal power and expectations. Cats are over patriarchy.

Of course cats are so over patriarchy!  Check it out.  They are fully into catriarchy!

The New Yorker — After the stunning ISIS blitz in June, 2014, that captured tremendous territory in Syria and Iraq, Washington employed a so-called “Iraq First” strategy. The U.S.-led coalition committed to using air power to contain ISIS in Syria but gave preference to restoring Iraqi sovereignty. Priorities are now shifting, as Syria’s war spreads across continents. The United States would like to replicate the success of the Iran nuclear deal to press for coöperation among China, Russia, Iran, and the European powers, while also enlisting Turkey and the Arab countries that are heavily invested in Syria’s future. At the U.N., on Wednesday, Kerry warned Russia against striking targets beyond ISIS or Al Qaeda’s local affiliate. But, Kerry told the Security Council, “The United States supports any genuine effort to fight ISIL and Al Qaeda affiliated groups, especially Al Nusra.” If Russia has a “genuine commitment” to defeat ISIS, he said, “we welcome that effort” and will work to “deconflict” the respective American and Russian air campaigns in Syria. The bigger question is whether Iran’s interest in coöperation was maxed out with the nuclear deal—or whether old enemies could become unlikely partners in determining Syria’s future.

As said in The Nation "Similarly, each of Kissinger’s Middle East initiatives has been disastrous in the long run. Just think about them from the vantage point of 2015: … emboldening Pakistan’s intelligence service, nurturing Islamic fundamentalism, playing Iran and the Kurds off against Iraq, and then Iraq and Iran off against the Kurds, and committing Washington to defending Israel’s occupation of Arab lands."

Will Iran coöperate on Syria?  It is hard to say.  Russia is backing Assad and bombing Syrian rebel forces which also include ISIS fighters.  As well, Russia has supplied weapons and materiel to Iran. But the US has nurtured Islamic fundamentalism which it now wants to defeat.  It seems that the various countries are doing what is right for them while ignoring the people of Syria.

Huffington Post — Ray Halbritter, representative of the Oneida Indian Nation and an occasional Huffington Post blogger, says that instead, Snyder and other supporters of these names and mascots are denying Native Americans a simple request to be seen as equals in the eyes of their non-Native peers.

"They're so desensitized, they think Indian people are not real people; our children and our concerns are not real to them," Halbritter told HuffPost last year. "They don't think [the debate] is even real, they don't even think it's even worth bringing up or talking about. We're not human beings, we're not even part of humanity. And that's the problem. They think of us as just something to entertain them, or mascots — relics out of a museum."

Jeb: “But again, I don’t think politicians ought to be having any say about that, to be honest with you. I don’t find it offensive. Native American tribes generally don’t find it offensive.”

Ah, rich white privilege at it's finest with a rich white male Republican at the helm!  Bush is reprehensible (I wanted to use some other nouns and adjectives but thought better of it since this is TC's blog) as is Snyder.  I wonder where Jeb obtained his information about what Native American tribes find offensive, or not?

My Universe — I could not resist sharing this video with you.  I don't know if it's just flip-flops that engenders this reaction or more.  My cats like to use my shoes for sleeping on when they're not on the bed.  Enjoy!

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Oct 012015
 

I have been a student of history for many years, so when I came across this article in The Nation, I wanted to share it with you.  I remember many of the events and details enumerated, but the author puts them in context and shows the progression to today's US foreign policy in the Middle East.

We’re still paying the price of Henry Kissinger’s “grand strategies.”

The only person Henry Kissinger flattered more than President Richard Nixon was Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the shah of Iran. In the early 1970s, the shah, sitting atop an enormous reserve of increasingly expensive oil and a key figure in Nixon and Kissinger’s move into the Middle East, wanted to be dealt with as a serious person. He expected his country to be treated with the same respect Washington showed other key Cold War allies like West Germany and Great Britain. As Nixon’s national security adviser and, after 1973, secretary of state, Kissinger’s job was to pump up the shah, to make him feel like he truly was the “king of kings.”

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Less well known is the way in which Kissinger’s policies toward Iran and Saudi Arabia accelerated the radicalization in the region, how step by catastrophic step he laid the groundwork for the region’s spiraling crises of the present moment.    

What the shah wanted most of all were weapons of every variety—and American military trainers, and a navy, and an air force. It was Kissinger who overrode State Department and Pentagon objections and gave the shah what no other country had: the ability to buy anything he wanted from US weapons makers.

“We are looking for a navy,” the shah told Kissinger in 1973, “we have a large shopping list.” And so Kissinger let him buy a navy.

By 1976, Kissinger’s last full year in office, Iran had become the largest purchaser of American weaponry and housed the largest contingent of US military advisers anywhere on the planet. By 1977, the historian Ervand Abrahamian notes, “the shah had the largest navy in the Persian Gulf, the largest air force in Western Asia, and the fifth-largest army in the whole world.” That meant, just to begin a list, thousands of modern tanks, hundreds of helicopters, F-4 and F-5 fighter jets, dozens of hovercraft, long-range artillery pieces, and Maverick missiles. The next year, the shah bought another $12 billion worth of equipment.

After Kissinger left office, the special relationship he had worked so hard to establish blew up with the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the flight of the shah, the coming to power of Ayatollah Khomeini, and the taking of the US Embassy in Tehran (and its occupants as hostages) by student protesters.

Read the rest of this very interesting, albeit long article.  It certainly casts a brighter light on US foreign policy in the Middle East.

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