Jun 282016
 

My horoscope today said in part: "Today the moon is in your sign lined up with wild, wacky Uranus."  Uranus?  Uranus!  I want nothing to do with Ted Cruz.  It was bad enough that I had already seen the Raw Story article below, but then to see my horoscope contained Uranus . . . well that was just too much!  The day started off on a low note with a 2.8 blood sugar reading (50 on the US scale) which had me sleeping all morning, even through the heat.  Then the heat hit 29  (85 F) and I was getting more miserable.  It has cooled down at bit but is scheduled to drop to 13 C (55 F) over night (I have my pom-poms out!).  At least I had some laughs when a respected local radio commentator to whom I enjoy listening, in commenting about Brexit and the ultra conservative US politicians (read Drumpf), referred to the UK as our ailing mother and the US as our weird and wacky brother.  Tomorrow will be busy with physio and teaching.  Inbetween the two, I have to go pick up a new cell phone.  Two days ago, it slipped from my fingers into the toilet (another good reason to leave the lid down!).  I rescued it very quickly but some damage was already done, although I was able to use it — just not reliably.  When I charged it yesterday, it slipped again from my fingers and fell about 25 cm (10 inches) to the carpet.  That finally did it in!  Do you see what I mean about Uranus???!!!

Short Takes

Alternet — During an explosive CNN segment on Sunday, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) lashed out at President Barack Obama because she said she was tired of being called a “bigot” for supporting presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.  …

“Obama just always comes tearing after Republicans constantly, calling names and calling people bigots and racists,” she complained. “And that’s their big comeback, you know. And it’s absolutely ridiculous. To see a president speak like that is offensive.”

It has been awhile since I have seen or heard of the battle-axe of Arizona, and I have thoroughly enjoyed her silence.  But recently, she unleashed her big mouth attached to her fact devoid brain and lashed out at Obama for using facts when talking about Drumpf.  It seems that she feels "guilty" about her association with Drumpf, or at least getting caught publicly with her hand on his ass.  Even while she was governor, she demonstrated no respect for Obama, so this latest extremism does not surprise me.

Raw Story — Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz on Tuesday accused the Obama administration of under-emphasizing the “threat of radical Islam” as he presided over a Senate hearing for the second time since suspending his presidential campaign in early May.

President Barack Obama and top Justice Department officials have come under fire from conservatives for avoiding the term “radical Islam” when denouncing attacks by violent extremists who claim inspiration from Islamic State, such as the Orlando nightclub shooter.

I am tired of hearing the term "radical Islam" from the likes of Ted Cruz.  When will we hear of "radical Christianity" and "radical Judaism"?  Yes they do exist!  In the news over the past several days, I have seen Pastor Steven Anderson of the Independent Fundamental Baptist church (Christian) in Tempe, Arizona preach from atop his lectern condemning the LGBTQ community with the most toxic vitriole ever, calling for the death penalty for gays, and celebrating the deaths at Orlando.  Now he is calling for the  death penalty for adulterers.  I suppose that is one way to get rid of some politicians! — you know those family values Republicans!  Of course there is "Pastor" Terry Jones formerly of Gainesville, Florida who threatened to burn Qu'rans.  Or let's see, there are extremist Jews, some of them settlers who occupy Palestinian lands.  Let's call this what it is with no adjectives — extremism!  OK, rant over.  I was appalled with the tenor of Cruz's hearing.

Globe and Mail — The Supreme Court issued its strongest defence of abortion rights in a quarter-century Monday, striking down Texas’ widely replicated rules that sharply reduced abortion clinics in the nation’s second-most-populous state.

By a 5-3 vote, the justices rejected the state’s arguments that its 2013 law and follow-up regulations were needed to protect women’s health. The rules required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and forced clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery.  …

Breyer wrote that “the surgical-centre requirement, like the admitting privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.”

A great judgement that should never have been necessary.  There are pending actions in Mississippi and Louisiana which will likely fall.  Let's hope that all such laws and regulations in all states will be declared unconstitutional now that SCOTUS has ruled.

My Universe —

Nice ride Dolly

Thank God for 9 lives!

Good morning

Arrggghhhh!!!!!  Kitty breath!

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Jun 282016
 

The elevator is finally fixed.  I’m running late, because Julie and I went to the bank, and we’ve been planning her cross country exodus next week.  I will miss her terribly.  Please pardon my brevity.  I will need the Squatch to do the Monthly Report for June.  I’ll learn what we need to do to correct this double vision on 7/6.  Pardon my brevity.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:53 (average 4:53).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: The billionaire Donald J. Trump’s bid to become a born-again Christian failed over the weekend after Jesus Christ turned down his friend request, campaign officials have acknowledged.

Jesus, who has not generally been active on Facebook, made a rare appearance on the social network on Monday to announce His decision to ignore the presumptive Republican nominee’s request for a personal relationship with Him.

In a brief post, Jesus offered the following explanation: “Just everything.”

The turndown from Jesus Christ, the inspiration behind one of the world’s most prominent religions, caps what has been a tough month for the Trump campaign.

Privately, campaign staffers fretted that the candidate would pen a disparaging tweet about Jesus, which might alienate evangelical voters in key battleground states.

I think Andy is making fun of us. If Jesus really had responded to Rump Dump Rectum, He would have said LMAO!!

From Daily Kos: Trump gave 5-minute sales pitch about his resort, was surrounded by swastika golf balls (seriously)

0628NaziBalls2

0628NaziBalls

Read the article!

From NY Times: In the most significant victory in a generation for a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, the Supreme Court on Monday struck down Texas’s harsh and dishonest anti-abortion law by a vote of 5 to 3.

The justices’ reasoning in overturning the law applies to hundreds of other attempts in recent years by Republican lawmakers around the country to restrict or destroy constitutionally protected reproductive rights.

While the decision was unquestionably correct, the vote should have been unanimous. The 2013 Texas law — which forced abortion clinics and their doctors to meet absurd, pointlessly strict medical standards — was the textbook definition of what the court had prohibited in a major 1992 ruling on abortion: “unnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion.”

Roberts, Scalito [sp. intentional], and Thomas were in the minority. If regressives successfully sabotage the Democratic Party, and allow a Republican win, as they did in 2000, this will be overturned, and women’s rights will be history.

Cartoon:

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Jun 242016
 

The First Nations people of North America have had to endure subjugation by white Europeans since they first showed up on this continent — the decimation of their culture, their religious practices, their laws.  Finally there is some movement in the First Nations' court system in the US.

This week, a Supreme Court decision affirmed the sovereignty of Native American tribal courts and emphasized the importance of addressing domestic violence against Native women. In United States v. Bryant,the court unanimously upheld the federal conviction of Michael Bryant, Jr. as a habitual domestic assault offender, overruling a previous court’s decision.

“The Bryant case is a victory. It’s not a victory where we won ground—it’s a victory where we didn’t lose ground,” said Rebecca Nagle, an anti-rape activist and an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. “But, what’s really awesome about the decision is … the Supreme Court is very clear about the crisis of sexual violence and domestic violence against Native women and the need for tribal jurisdiction within the crisis, which could set precedence for other cases.”  …

The Supreme Court will also rule on another case regarding tribal sovereignty in the near future. This lawsuit involves a thirteen-year-old boy who says he was sexually assaulted by his manager at Dollar General. Although the manager is non-Native, the boy is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and the store sits on tribal land. After the federal government declined to try the case, the boy’s family sued the manager and Dollar General in tribal court. Dollar General, however, has contested the tribe’s jurisdiction to try the case.

From Think Progress

Here is Sam Bee's take on tribal courts.

One thing that I find egregious is the comparison of tribal courts to Sharia law by one of her "guests", Elaine Willman, Director of Tribal Affairs.

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Jun 242016
 

It has been a relatively quiet day.  I overdid things yesterday as far as my knee goes and so spent the night in some pain courtesy of swelling.  Now things are good after staying with my leg elevated much of today.  And thanks to Lona for the nap!  It came in handy today.  My second ESL student made me an Iranian dish for dinner yesterday — an excellent stew-like dinner of lamb, leeks, spinach, onion, red beans and dried lemons served over saffron rice.  I had some last night and the remainder tonight.  It was soooooooo good!  Tomorrow I will see little Simon while I work with Lucia, his mother.

Short Takes

Alternet — The Court’s 4-4 ruling, which will elevate the issue of immigration reform and the need to fill a high court vacancy on the presidential campaign trail, came as a simple nine-word sentence: “The [lower-court] judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.”

With that split, the controlling law is a November 2015 decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, and ruled against the administration. That ruling was from a judge who showed hostility to the White House's executive orders and the Justice Department's defense, according to legal scholars.  …

The case centered on the program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. After years of lobbying from pro-immigrant activists, President Obama created the program by executive order in November 2014.

Texas and 25 other states, all led by Republican governors, immediately challenged the program—even though the percentage of undocumented immigrants affected was the same as under executive orders issued by former Republican presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

This isn't the first decision, nor the last, to be rendered as what I will call a non decision.  It is past time that the Senate undertake confirmation hearings for Judge Merrick Garland to bring SCOTUS to full strength and thereby avoid split decisions.  Of course that is no guarantee that the court would rule in favour of the government.  At least this decision does not set a precedent.

CBC — Britain entered uncharted waters Friday after the country voted to leave the European Union, according to a projection by all main U.K. broadcasters. The decision shatters the stability of the project in continental unity forged after the Second World War in hopes of making future conflicts impossible.

The decision raises the likelihood of years of negotiations over trade, business and political links with what will become a 27-nation bloc. In essence the vote marks the start — rather than the end — of a process that could take decades to unwind.

Results released early Friday show the Leave side prevailed 52 per cent to 48 per cent in Thursday's vote as tallied by British broadcasters, with a Remain win a mathematical impossibility.

The vote had a turnout of 72 per cent of the more than 46 million registered voters.

The vote is in and Britons have elected to leave the EU under article 50.  It won't be a quick exit.  Markets have already reacted with a decline in stocks and the value of the pound.  The effects will be felt to varying degrees globally.  There may also be ramifications for NATO and consequences for dealing with Russia.  I guess it is a wait and see for now.

Rawstory — Rep. Alan Grayson (D-WI) ripped House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) for dismissing Democrats’ sit-in protest as “a publicity stunt.”

“To people who don’t know how to legislate, any effort looks like a publicity stunt,” Grayson said in a brief interview with TMZ. “That doesn’t make it so.”

Grayson was part of the group of Democratic legislators who sat on the House floor while calling for a vote on a measure that would expand background checks on gun sales, as well as a proposal to bar anyone on the federal “no fly” list from being able to buy a firearm.

Ryan responded by calling the protest “nothing more than a publicity stunt” and adding, “This is not about a solution to a problem. This is about trying to get attention." 

Note: Rep Alan Grayson is (D-FL) not Wisconsin.  I sent a correction in to the publisher.

I'll say it again, compare the Dem sit-in against the Republican government shutdown.  Shame on Lyin' Ryan for calling the sit-in a publicity stunt when his own party shut down the government for their own petty reasons, reasons not rooted in the public good.

My Universe

In our house, bananas are highly prized edibles by the four leggers, my cats.

 

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Jun 202016
 

Well it has been a while since I posted and my laptop is acting up thereby taking me longer . . . and resulting in an incomplete post.  It has been very busy lately.  Teaching progresses and little Simon is a little monkey as usual.  Last Friday, he learned "ABCDE" as I was doing flashcards with Lucia.  At church he learned AMEN so says the word often.  My brother and his wife will be travelling from Toronto to Vancouver to board a cruise to Alaska.  They will come out 2 days early to see mother whom they have not seen since 2013.  Her condition will be a real shock.  I saw my mother last night and spent almost 3 hours brushing her hair.  At almost 88 years, she has had quantity of life so now my goal is strictly quality and brushing her hair fills the bill.  My furbabes always send a message to Nana — meow, meow, meow! — which makes her smile.  As many will know, TomCat's surgery was successful.  He posted a brief statement which I will post over to Care2 so everyone will know.

Jig Zone Puzzle

Today’s took me 3:47 (average 5:27).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes

NY Times — It was April 1990, and Mr. Trump was officially opening his third gambling resort in Atlantic City, the biggest project of his career: the, and $1 billion Trump Taj Mahal.

“It’s truly going to be an incredible place,” he told reporters. “We’re calling it the eighth wonder of the world.”  …

Then Mr. Trump bought Hilton’s nearly completed casino in the marina district for $320 million, calling it Trump Castle. His company issued $352 million in bonds to finish construction and open the casino, and tacked on an additional $32 million. That casino opened in 1985 and competed directly against his partner’s first casino, Harrah’s Marina.

The following year, Harrah’s scuttled its partnership with Mr. Trump and sold him its stake in Trump Plaza for more than $220 million.

Next Mr. Trump went after the biggest casino of all, the Taj Mahal, which Resorts International, builder of Atlantic City’s first casino, was erecting. After buying a controlling interest in Resorts from the estate of its founder, Mr. Trump battled the talk show host Merv Griffin for control of the company.

In the end, Mr. Griffin got the company, while Mr. Trump won the still-unfinished Taj Mahal.

Even before the Taj opened, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission was concerned about the casino’s viability given its rapidly escalating costs and considered revoking its operating license. Regulators closely monitored the financial performance of the Trump casinos and the developer’s empire.

Mr. Trump told the commission in 1988 that he could rein in expenses, because conventional lenders were lining up to give him money at low interest rates. He said he abhorred junk bonds, which were then popular, because they carried a bigger risk of default and thus came with higher interest rates.

Within months, he reversed course, issuing $675 million worth of junk bonds, with a 14 percent interest rate, to finish construction and get the Taj open. In recent interviews, Mr. Trump has said that with each financing he routinely took money out of the casinos to invest in Manhattan real estate. Total debt on the Taj exceeded $820 million.

Less than two weeks before the casino opened, Marvin B. Roffman, a casino analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott, an investment firm based in Philadelphia, told The Wall Street Journal that the Taj would need to reap $1.3 million a day just to make its interest payments, a sum no casino had ever achieved.

“The market just isn’t there,” Mr. Roffman told The Journal.

Mr. Trump retaliated, demanding that Janney Montgomery Scott fire Mr. Roffman. It did.

“It was doomed way before the start,” said W. Bucky Howard, who was promoted by Mr. Trump to president of the Taj five days after it opened, in a recent interview. “I told him it was going to fail. The Taj was underfunded.”

Almost immediately, Mr. Trump had trouble making the debt payments on the Taj and his other casinos. It was also clear that the Taj was cannibalizing the Castle and the Plaza, whose combined gambling revenues dropped by $58 million the year it opened.

Video from Democracy Now.  Click on the link for a transcript.

While I was out at physio, I heard a report, or perhaps it would be better put as a prediction, that a Trump presidency would be a disaster for the US economy and indeed the global economy.  Think Progress has an excellent article on this prediction. 

The heart of Trump’s economic proposals come down to tax, trade, and immigration policy. He’s put forward a tax package that experts have found would cost $9.5 trillion and hand nearly all of the benefits to the wealthiest. He’s promised to levy huge tariffs on imports from countries like China and Mexico and he’s railed against trade deals. And he says he’ll deport 11 million undocumented immigrants while building a wall along the Mexican border.

If all of that were to happen just how Trump proposes it, Moody’s analysis finds that the American economy would dip into a recession beginning in 2018 that would last through 2020 — longer than the Great Recession. It estimates there would be 3.5 million fewer jobs and the unemployment rate would rise to a peak of 7.4 percent, as opposed to the current rate of 4.7.

This post is a detailed article by Russ Buettner and Charles V Bagli outlining Trump's "business acumen", something touted by his supporters as being very important to them.  If they only knew that Trump, in venture capital fashion, transferred debt to his properties, cheated contractors, investors and employees, and then declared bankruptcy, not once but four times.  He made millions while he left others holding the bag.  Is this the kind of performance that supporters want?  Unfortunately, his supporters won't understand what he has done or will do.  They believe and like his "straight talk", but it is all show and no go.  It is pure unadulterated bullshit!

CBC — Donald Trump suggested Sunday that the United States should "seriously" consider profiling Muslims inside the country as a terrorism-fighting tool, the latest example of the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting increasingly backing positions that could single out a group based on their religion.

"Well I think profiling is something that we're going to have to start thinking about as a country," Trump said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation. "It's not the worst thing to do."

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee added that he "hate(s) the concept of profiling, but we have to use common sense" over "political correctness."

And the hate just keeps on!  The Republicans allowed this travesty to happen so now they must own it even if it means the destruction of the party.  We can hope can't we?

Think Progress — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that police can still arrest someone for an outstanding warrant even if they had no right to stop the person in the first place.  …

“This Court has given officers an array of instruments to probe and examine you,” she writes. “This Court has allowed an officer to stop you for whatever reason he wants — so long as he can point to a pretextual justification after the fact. That justification must provide specific reasons why the officer suspected you were breaking the law, but it may factor in your ethnicity, where you live, what you were wearing, and how you behaved. The officer does not even need to know which law you might have broken so long as he can later point to any possible infraction — even one that is minor, unrelated, or ambiguous.”

IMO, Sotomayor is correct and the Injustices, particularly Teabag Thomas, are wrong.  The 4th amendment to the US Constitution reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

What part of "unreasonable searches and seizures" doesn't Teabag Thomas understand?  I suppose he would argue that it is all in the meaning of the word "unreasonable", which I have to admit is rather subjective.  I wonder what would happen if a cranky old whirte man were stopped and searched.  Can we please have a fair impartial justice to replace Scalia!

My Universe —

 

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May 292016
 

Except for writing, I think I’m going to take a lazy day.  I earned it!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:00 (average 5:10).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New YorkerThe I.G.’s eighty-three page report, “Office of the Secretary: Evaluation of Email Records Management and Cybersecurity Requirements,” is one of the more comprehensive examinations the government has ever issued on proper document-retention habits in the federal bureaucracy. Skip to page forty-two if you want the scintillating conclusion:

Longstanding, systemic weaknesses related to electronic records and communications have existed within the Office of the Secretary that go well beyond the tenure of any one Secretary of State. OIG recognizes that technology and Department policy have evolved considerably since Secretary Albright’s tenure began in 1997. Nevertheless, the Department generally and the Office of the Secretary in particular have been slow to recognize and to manage effectively the legal requirements and cybersecurity risks associated with electronic data communications, particularly as those risks pertain to its most senior leadership. OIG expects that its recommendations will move the Department steps closer to meaningfully addressing these risks.

That’s it. Clinton, like some of her predecessors, especially Colin Powell, flouted departmental regulations on the use of private e-mail, and she was careless about cybersecurity. In the pantheon of Clinton scandals, the I.G. report, in terms of actual malfeasance, ranks somewhere below running the health-care task force of the mid-nineties in secret and above making a lopsided profit on the cattle-future markets while she was First Lady of Arkansas. [emphasis added]

As I, and most other progressives, that are far more acclaimed than I, including Bernie Sanders and most of his supporters, except for a small desperate fringe, have repeatedly stated, this is nothing but tempest in a tea pot.

From NY Times: As they sliced and diced state programs this month to close a budget deficit, Republicans controlling the Oklahoma Legislature cruelly targeted some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens — the working poor — by cutting an average $147 a year from the income of 200,000 households.

This may seem negligible to the state’s wealthy and middle class, but not to a poor family with a breadwinner struggling at the margins. The method chosen is deplorable — cutting the state share of the earned-income tax credit for low-income workers, a federal program widely praised as an effective lift from poverty. “It’s one of the most valuable antipoverty programs on the books today,” Carl Davis, research director for the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, told The Tulsa World.

After years of enacting generous tax cuts for the wealthy and for the powerful oil industry, however, the Oklahoma Legislature was facing falling revenues and resorted to an assortment of questionable cuts to close a $1.3 billion deficit. None is more regressive than penalizing the working poor. It will net an estimated $29 million for the state coffers while cutting $312 for a family with three or more children and a parent earning $13,850 a year. The federal earned-income credit program, based on income and family size, is not affected; only the state share is being cut.

Failin’ Fallin Farted.

From The Topeka Capital Journal: SCOTUS appointments should come before free college, everybody getting free healthcare, and equal rights for women and gays.

How could a progressive say such a thing?

It’s a good question because all those things are seriously important to me and I hope to you, too.

What I’ve heard from various sources is that the next president may appoint anywhere from 2 to 4 new SCOTUS members.

….small pause for that to sink in…

…Bernie voters, a message for you… you may truly dislike Hillary Clinton… but you know as well as I do she won’t push the SCOTUS further right.

And if we ever get free college, free healthcare, full democratic rights for gays and women…. a far right SCOTUS can make or break it, just like they did ACA. Don’t think a conservative SCOTUS won’t do it. Trump will assure with his SCOTUS nomination that any progress Democrats try to make in the future would be shot down.  A member of the SCOTUS serves until death if he or she wants to stay there.  This decision can have harsh consequences far into our future.

Even in the oppressed state of Kansas, progressives know that this election will decide whether the Supreme Court becomes SCOTUS or remains SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD) for decades to come.  There could there be no better reason to…

Vote Blue No Matter Who

Cartoon:

0529Cartoon

Depose the Fartfuhrer of Fitzwalkerstan!

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May 242016
 

I have stayed true to my promise to be good to myself and I have been relaxing this Victoria Day long weekend.  The sinusitus is definitely almost gone!  Woo Hoo!!!  It has been cloudy today with temperatures around 14 C (58 F) and intermittent rain.  This week is another busy one so I'll have to remind myself not to do anything stupid to re-aggravate the sinusitis.  The babies have been napping around me all day, but as soon as I announce "bikkies", they will be fully awake and running downstairs to their food dish.  I can smell my neighbour's bar-be-que, probably fired up for steaks, which is making me hungry.  Chicken and salad for me tonight.  Enjoy the rest of your week.

Short Takes

Daily Beast — Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is reportedly under investigation by the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for $120,000 worth of campaign donations from Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang. …

Wang, the individual at the center of the investigation, also contributed $2 million to the Clinton Foundation. The investigation is ongoing. 

This investigation along with the SCOTUS decision on gerrymandering in Virginia has brought Virginia into the fore.  It will be interesting to see what happens with the DOJ investigation and how it impacts Democrats in this federal election year.  Also of concern is the perceived influence of Wang Wenliang, a Chinese businessman, on Hillary Clinton with his contribution to the Clinton Foundation.  I hope this does not turn normally blue voters away from the polls in November.

NYTimes — Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees on Wednesday as part of an effort to quell concerns that he would not select conservative jurists.

The unusual move comes as Mr. Trump is looking to unify the Republican Party behind him and win over critics who remain skeptical about his candidacy. While some Republicans who oppose Mr. Trump have considered supporting Hillary Clinton or sitting out the election, he has regularly reminded them that the future of the Supreme Court is at stake.  …

… but Mr. Trump has previously said that he was seeking guidance from conservative groups such as the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.

Mr. Trump’s selections consisted of six federal appeals court judges appointed by President George W. Bush and five state supreme court justices appointed by Republican governors. All are white, and eight of the 11 are men.

"All are white, and eight of the 11 are men."  Indeed, the future of the Supreme Court is at stake.  A decidedly conservative court would affect generations to come, and not in a positive way.  Along with a Republican White House and Congress, the US will regress socially and economically.

Politico — … President Barack Obama on Monday signed the dissolution of the nearly 50-year embargo on selling arms to Vietnam, ending one of the last vestiges of the Vietnam War.

But what Obama had to say and do about open democracy here was as sparse as the turnout in polling places here just hours before Air Force One landed — despite, of course, government numbers putting nationwide turnout for the National Assembly elections at 98.77 percent.

Suspicious election results don’t usually come together with presidential visits, especially within hours, and especially when the president is arriving with a huge and much desired gift in the form of opening up arms trade.

Hanoi had been pushing Washington for years, as both a point of pride and out of desire for American weapons. The change is potentially huge for American interests, empowering pro-Western forces internally and sending a very charged signal to China, long Vietnam's regional adversary.  …

"I made it clear that the United States does not seek to impose our form of government on Vietnam or any nation … at the same time, we will continue to speak out on human rights.”

It seems that there is a contradiction here . . . selling weapons to Vietnam while at the same time speaking out about human rights.  In a time when the world should be coming together, weapons only serve to divide and destroy.  And the US, like all countries, has troubles with its own human rights record.

ThinkProgress — Donald Trump vowed to get rid of “gun free zones” during the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Louisville Friday, going a step further than his frequent promise to allow guns in schools and military bases.

Despite the fact that many Trump hotels and the convention center where he spoke on Friday are all gun-free zones, the presumptive nominee said he went off his telepromter to promise the NRA members in attendance that he would eliminate gun-free zones altogether. Trump also earned the NRA’s endorsement at the event.

“The Second Amendment is under a threat like never before,” Trump said, repeating the NRA leadership’s claim that Hillary Clinton will dismantle the Second Amendment.  …

This is the most basic human right of all, and Hillary Clinton wants to strip it away,” Trump said. “I’m going to guarantee that law-abiding citizens have the right to self defense, 100 percent.”

Amazing how many times Trump flip-flops on his positions . . . pro choice now pro life; pro gun-free zones now eliminate gun-free zones; irreligious now religious; and there are more.  Trump is an opportunist, changing his stance to suit his goal of becoming POTUS.  I believe the expression is "whatever it takes" or the end justifies the means".

CBC — "I want to be out. I want, want, want, want — please God! — let us be out."

Councillor Yvonne Stevens is campaigning for Britain to vote to leave the European Union.

This is Yvonne Stevens, a local councillor for the U.K. Independence Party or UKIP. Its roots date back to the 1990s and British opposition to the signing of the Maastricht Treaty enshrining key tenets of European integration.

It's also a party that's played heavily on anti-immigrant sentiment, and immigration is one of the key issues motivating those who want Britain to leave the European Union in a referendum on June 23. Stevens is no exception.

"Let's say, 'No, let's stop,'" says Stevens, referring to unfettered immigration of EU citizens entitled to live and work in any EU country of their choosing.

The discussion of UK membership in the EU is known as "Brexit".  Whether the UK stays within the EU or opts out, there will be global repercussions.  In another CBCreport, Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has urged the UK to remain within the EU.  He said

"More unity is a path toward greater prosperity. We have a great relationship with a strong and united Europe and certainly hope that that continues," Trudeau said in an interview with Reuters. "Britain is always going to have clout, it's just obviously amplified by its strength as part of the EU."

You can read a short history of the UK's participation in the EU at "Brexit".

My Universe

ccat30

ccat35

 

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May 112016
 

I have had a busy time of late.  After feeding my mother Sunday night, I spent several hours brushing her hair which is very relaxing for her.  Monday was teaching and physio.  Tuesday, I had a dentist appointment and then was a pampered Sasquatch getting my hair cut etc.  I rounded out the evening with a 2 hour meeting of our Pastoral Care committee at church.  I have my first assignments but they will have to wait because I have come down with something.  It may well be allergies since the cottonwood trees and broom are both out.  We'll see.  I'm using my laptop much more but I can't seem to get a mouse to work with it.  That means that I can't do TC's jigsaw puzzles.

Short Takes

Think Progress — New polling released by the Center for American Progress on Monday, however, indicates that the public has turned hard against the GOP’s plan to simply ignore Garland’s nomination. Among other things, the poll finds that registered voters overwhelmingly support giving Garland a hearing and a confirmation vote:

Garland Poll

It appears that Republicans are committing hari kari.  In playing their little games over the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, Republicans appear to have put themselves at a disadvantage with voters.  Just how long will they insist on blocking Obama just because he is Obama and wilfully ignoring the needs of the country?

NY Times — An Alabama judicial oversight body on Friday filed a formal complaint against Roy S. Moore, the chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court, charging that he had “flagrantly disregarded and abused his authority” in ordering the state’s probate judges to refuse applications for marriage licenses by same-sex couples.

As a result of the charges, Chief Justice Moore, 69, has been immediately suspended from the bench and is facing a potential hearing before the state’s Court of the Judiciary, a panel of judges, lawyers and other appointees. Among possible outcomes at such a hearing would be his removal from office.

A start to the end of Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court?  Be still my heart!

Huffington Post — After being welcomed to Canada with open arms, Syrian refugees in Calgary are now giving back to their neighbours up north.

syrian refugee support group

Members of the Syrian Refugee Support Group Calgary fill hampers to send to Fort McMurray evacuees. (Photo: Saima Jamal/Syrian Refugee Support Group Calgary)

A group of newcomers part of the Syrian Refugee Support Group Calgary are offering up what little they have — Walid Ajram is collecting hampers of necessary supplies, while Rita Khallas is collecting $5 donations — for evacuees fleeing Fort McMurray's wildfire.

On Wednesday, refugee Naser Nader spurred hundreds to action when he wrote on Facebook about his wish to repay Canadians by helping those affected by the blaze.

Are these the people so many Americans, especially politicians, fear?  They are genuinely jumping in to help during a disaster in Fort McMurray any way they can.  They truly understand what it is like to lose everything.

My Universe — 

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Apr 082016
 

My new A/C is certainly powerful enough to cool my tiny place.  It’s also very loud, and the noise bothered me last night.  I’m sure I’ll get use to it, and after a night of three, I won’t even hear it.  I’m about to leave to go to PT with Courtney.  Later.  Back and pooped.  George needs an ankle adjustment.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:48 (average 4:45).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The Guardian (H/T Daily Kos):A group of Polish women walk out of a church service to protest against a proposed tightening of the country’s abortion laws. The video, posted on Facebook, shows the women leaving as a priest reads out a letter in favour of the ban. In Warsaw, thousands of people have attended a pro-choice rally outside parliament, after the leader of the ruling party backed a call from Catholic bishops for a full ban on pregnancy terminations.

 

It looks like Poland has Republicans that hate women too!

From Daily Kos: In disappointing Tuesday news, the Wisconsin Supreme Court race went to Rebecca Bradley, a conservative. Bradley beat progressive candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg in the non-partisan election. Wisconsin residents are now stuck with Bradley for the next ten years.

It’s a sad end to an ugly race, and an ugly type of race at that. Judicial elections are rife with problems as a general matter—politics, bias, secret money, and low voter engagement, to name a few. But in Wisconsin the elections have been particularly grimy.

Bradley is so Republican, she makes Nancy Grace seem like a progressive. This is how she won.

From Media Matters: A Media Matters investigation of the discredited right-wing group Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), the main source of baseless smears against, and false characterizations of, Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, reveals a familial web of self-dealing between the organization, a major dark money funder of JCN called the Wellspring Committee, and a third nonprofit that also receives funding from Wellspring.

 

0408JCN_Graphic

Nepotism’R’Us, Nepotism (R-US), or just plain Koch sucking?

Cartoon:

0408Cartoon

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Apr 032016
 

Last night I slept poorly and felt so tired this morning, that I was dozing off, while doing my research, so after I finished, I uncorked a much needed Lona nap.  That’s why I’m running late today.  Tomorrow I have an appointment with my kitty cousin Scanner.  Sadly he’s quite aloof, and every time I go in for my annual Cat Scan, he refuses to come out and play.  In any case, I may have no more that a Personal Update.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:46 (average 5:46).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos (classic 9/2011): Why would anyone vote Republican? Well, here are 10 reasons.

1. You are a bigot

It’s true that not all Republicans are bigots. But if you ARE a bigot, the Republican party will be much more your group than the Democratic party. Remember that there are lots of ways to be a bigot: You could be a racist, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, or lots of other things.

2. You like eating, drinking and breathing poison.

Many Republicans are calling for or voting for shrinking or eliminating agencies that protect us against poison. They seem to think that the corporations will do the right thing, without any pressure from the government. Uh huh. Read The Jungle.  Look at the way Monsanto is hiding facts about Round Up. Look at food safety and outbreaks of E. Coli. 

Corporations exist to make money. They will do so any way they can. The government needs to stop them from doing so in ways that hurt people.

3. You think the rich don’t have enough money

The idea that giving more money to rich people (via tax breaks) will help poor people is nonsensical and has been shown wrong time and again in history. Huge tax breaks for the rich (a la George Bush) don’t work.

4. You don’t support our veterans

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran’s Association (IAVA) rates every member of congress on how well they support our veterans.  In the Senate, 9 people got A or A+: All were Democrats. 30 got D or F: 29 Republicans and one Democrat.  More on this

How little they have changed!! I shared the first four. Click through for the other six.

From NY Times: The wall of Republican opposition to the nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland to the Supreme Court has been shored up by two Republican senators revoking their support for holding confirmation hearings.

Their moves highlight the immense pressure that Republican leaders are placing on senators as they try to build unified opposition to President Obama’s choice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.

As the White House heralds the growing number of Republicans agreeing to meet with Judge Garland, Senators Jerry Moran of Kansas and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have reversed themselves and say they now back the decision made by Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, not to hold hearings.

The Republicans who agreed to meet with him were trying to appear responsible, but were really, as I predicted, just stalling for time.

From Raw Story: SNL took on one of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters who frequently pops up on cable broadcasts to defend the actions and words of the consistently offensive candidate.

 

I hope you enjoyed the laugh. Sadly the blonde on the right caricatured a voter even smarter than Fecal Dump Trump’s actual supporters.

Cartoon:

0403Cartoon

The previous summer, while planning events for Vietnam Summer, he said the government would not allow him to live much longer.  Watch this excerpt.

Less than 24 hours later, he was dead.  Isn’t it clear that he knew they were closing in?

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