Oct 282016
 

Yesterday my volunteer trip was somewhat disappointing.  The President of our volunteer group had not done her job coordinating the meeting, because she recently suffered the sudden death of her best friend, and my guys’ new staff adviser seems to be somewhat of a minimalist, where her job is concerned.  My guys did not even know I was coming, until I wheeled into the visiting room.  In addition, since the last time I was there there, over six months ago, the inside group has elected new leadership.  I have never even met the new President, and he didn’t even know that I’m still a board member of the outside organization.  As a result, my only roll was that of observer.  Used as I am to be in the thick of things, it’s was a bitter pill.  At the same time, I have to realize that I just can’t be engaged in the same way I was, as I can visit only around three times a year, instead of being with them in the trenches three times a month.  Instead of being a teacher/facilitator, I must become more of a friend/advocate.   That will take some getting used to.

The trip itself was quite tiring.  Transferring between my chair and a car and back takes all my strength, and I did that twice.  In addition, using the visiting room restroom requires me to leave my chair outside the room,  get through the locked door, and creep to a toilet 20 feet from the chair using my quad cane.  I did it, but when I made it back to the chair I was actually winded.  So I’m really tired today.  I’ll bed back to posting tomorrow.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:19 (average 4:59).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Cartoon:

1028Cartoon

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Oct 262016
 

I'm having a very busy day.  I have a grocery delivery coming in the next couple hours, and need to unpack them and put them away.  Later Wendy is coming to scrub and de-stink the TomCat, tighten down the nuts and bolts on my power chair, do some light cleaning, and eat both the supper I prepared for her and some sweets to contribute to the Southern Exposure Project.  Tomorrow I'm going to the prison to help facilitate a Victims Impact Meeting, involving several outside victims and up to 100 of my guys.  Because I won't be home until quite late, please assume that I will be publishing Personal Updates only and Thursday and Friday and will not be sending links messages on Care2, so please don't worry.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today's took me 4:10 (average 5:30).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From NBC: Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered the Pentagon on Wednesday to stop clawing-back the bonuses that thousands of soldiers got for reenlisting to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"There is no more important responsibility for the Department of Defense than keeping faith with our people," Carter said in a statement. "That means treating them fairly and equitably, honoring their service and sacrifice, and keeping our word. Today, in keeping with that obligation, I am ordering a series of steps to ensure fair treatment for thousands of California National Guard soldiers who may have received incentive bonuses and tuition assistance improperly as a result of errors and in some cases criminal behavior by members of the California National Guard."

Carter's announcement was greeted with cheers in Kempner, Texas where Don and Susan Haley — both Iraq War veterans — had been struggling to pay back the bonuses they got when they reenlisted a decade ago in the California National Guard.

I trust JD will be most pleased with this.

From US News: A new report finds that the global gender pay gap will not be closed for another 170 years if current trends continue.

 Click through to watch the video.  I had to remove it because it autoplays.

A woman's place is in the House… and the Senate… and the White House… and above the glass ceiling!!

From NY Times: Thanks to recent gains, the Democrats now have a clear but vulnerable lead in the race for Senate control. Prediction markets give them a 78 percent chance of winning control, according to PredictWise.

There are nine competitive races, and the Democrats need to win at least five of them (if they also win the vice-presidency, which breaks Senate ties).

Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, the Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.

Democrats have seemingly safe leads over Republican incumbents in Illinois and Wisconsin and are also favored in Nevada, Indiana, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Missouri is a toss-up.

If you see new polls from Pennsylvania and Missouri, pay particular attention. Recent polls have shown the Republicans slightly ahead, but the prediction markets seem to think the polls haven’t yet caught up to the Republicans’ Trump-inflicted wounds.

Keep an eye on North Carolina and Florida, too. The Republicans — Richard Burr in North Carolina and Marco Rubio in Florida, both incumbents — are still favored, but the Democrats have a shot.

I happily endorse every Democrat. Even a DINO is better than a Rump Dump Rectumite!

Cartoon:

1026Cartoon

The military doesn't want the F-22, but Republicans won't allow its removal from the budget.

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Sep 062016
 

I’m feeling rather tired, as I slept poorly last night.  I had a persistent  itch on my left foot, which I could not scratch, because it no longer exists.  That is so frustrating for a scratcher like me.  I’ve been known to strip off my T-shirt and scratch my back with a tree.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:47 (average 5:41).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Tales:

From YouTube: Joan Baez Live @ Woodstock 1969 Joe Hill

 

Mitch brought up this song in comments yesterday. Here is where I first heard the song.

From NY Times: But the country’s historic incarceration boom has given rise to companies that provide services and products to government prisons. Many of these provide necessary equipment and services, of course, but some do so in rather unsavory ways.

Take, for instance, the prison phone industry, a market that’s dominated by several large, privately held firms that earn an estimated $1.2 billion per year. Short phone calls from prison can cost up to fifteen dollars, largely because the companies operate as monopolies within prison walls. The private companies also offer state and local authorities a percentage of their revenue, which contributes to the surging cost of the calls and creates other perverse incentives. Some jails, for instance, have removed in-person family-visitation rooms to make way for “video visitation” terminals, provided by private firms, which can charge as much as thirty dollars for forty minutes of screen time. One prison phone company, Securus Technologies, says in its marketing materials that it has paid out $1.3 billion in these so-called commissions over the past ten years.

“In some respects, this is worse than the private prison companies,” Peter Wagner, the executive director of the Prison Policy Initiative, a nonprofit criminal-justice think tank, said. “I expect the government to waste money. But it’s totally different for the government to collude with a private company to make poor people lose money.”

Prison phone companies are hardly the only private venders that capitalize on a captive market. Corizon Health, one of the sponsors of the Louisiana prison trade show, is the country’s largest prison health-care firm. It treats more than three hundred thousand prisoners nationwide, earning about $1.4 billion in annual revenue. It is also the subject of numerous investigations and lawsuits. The company has been named as a defendant in at least six hundred and sixty malpractice lawsuits over the past five years, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

This is my own "boutique issue".  Republican states are the worst, but as much as I hate to admit it, abuse of prisoners and their families for profit is bipartisan. There is much more to read. Please click through.

From Crooks and Liars: The penchant for mendacity and injustice among the cabinet of the Bush Administration makes it difficult to pick the absolute worst of Bush/Cheney’s sadistic war criminals. That said, no one would argue that former A.G. Alberto Gonzales was certainly a standout for numerous reasons, including hard evidence of lying under oath about torture.

John Dickerson’s Sunday episode of Face the Nation provided a forum for Gonzales to peddle his apocryphal tale, True Faith and Allegiance, which is hyped as a story of service and sacrifice in war and peace about his life and time serving the George W. Bush administration.

Bush Reich Barf Bag Alert!!

This evil sleaze-bag  may be the worst liar in Republican history, prior to Rump Dump Trump. After he fired federal prosecutors, because they refused to file bogus charges against Democratic political candidates on the eve of an election, and replaced they with goose-stepping Republicans, he was called to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He lied, saying "I don’t recall" and it’s variants 64 times. CBS owes America an apology.

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Everyday Erinyes

 Posted by at 12:10 am  Politics
Aug 132016
 

I have a few items today which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

First, though, before handing off to the Furies, I want to follow up on July 30's story about "National Whistleblowers Appreciation Day."  You may recall I quoted from John Kiriakou and Tom Drake, and mentioned Jeffrey Sterling not being available as he is still locked up.  I have since received an email forwarded by Roots Action from his wife, Holly.  She states that he has served a bit over one year of his three-and-a-half year sentence, and there are a few things we can do ourselves. 

The need is threefold.  First, he is not getting appropriate attention for serious cardiac medical issues.  He has a history of atrial fibrillation (in the past he has been hospitalized for it) and is now experiencing chest pains, shortness of breath, and dizziness.  Holly has written to the Warden about his medical conditon, and has received no answer.  She would really appreciate if anyone who can would contact the prison warden, Deborah Denham, to advocate for medical attention for Jeffrey.  The email address is ENG slash ExecAssistant at bop dot gov (I'm spelling it the long way to avoid a link that's not to a site) and the phone number 303-763-4300.  (Personal note from me: if I can come up with any more accuracy or other alternatives I will add it/them in a comment.)

Second – I vividly remember when John Kiriakou was incarcerated how the family, his wife and three little girls, were up against the wall just to try to make the mortgage payments, and on top of that, they did not put him in the nearest prison, so that visiting was a challenge both in terms of energy and financially.  (They also threatened "diesel therapy" – a creative term for moving him between prisons without notice.)  Firedoglake was collecting for John, and, with help, they did not lose their home.  The Sterlings have a Sterling Family Fund set up for them on GoFundMe.  They want to appeal his conviction, and Holly would like to make the 800-plus mile trip to visit him once in a while, and both require money.  (There's also more background information there, should you be interested.)

Third, for those of us who are not locked up, it may be impossible to realize how much words of encouragement can mean.  Even if it's just a card.  He can receive snailmail at

JEFFREY STERLING, 38338-044
FCI Englewood
Federal Correctional Institution
9595 West Quincy Avenue
Littleton, CO 80123

And, yes, there is a petition .  It also has more background.

Now, moving right along, I'll whip quickly through a few stories of jaw-dropping – something.  First, let's go to Indiana, specifically to South Bend, where, in 2012, Vivian Franklin awakened to loud pounding on her door between three and four in the morning.  Three (warrantless) police officers shining a flashlight in her eyes  barged in.  They were looking for Dan, Vivian's older son, who was not there.  This did not stop them from hauling her younger son, DeShawn, 17, out of bed and assaulting him with fists and tasers.  In the process, a taser probe got stuck in DeShawn's side; the officers were unable to remove it and had to call an ambulance and EMT's to do so.  (I am restraining my snark here.) 

Where the incident goes right through the Looking Glass is that, while DeShawn was shouting he was not Dan, and Vivian was shouting DeShawn was not Dan, and the officers were insisting Dan must be there because they had trailed him to the home – Dan showed up.  Whereupon the officers opted not to arrest him. 

So in March, 2013 the Franklins reasonably filed suit.  Named in the suit were the three officers, the city, the mayor, and the police chief.  Finally, this year, the suit was adjudicated in Fort Wayne.

The jury found that the Franklins' constitutional rights had been violated.  They awarded damages of ONE DOLLAR. Yes, you read that right.  One dollar.

Grudging, I would say.  Megaera, I woudn't stop with the officers, the city, the mayor, and the police chief.  I'd definitely follow up with that jury.  Perhaps Indiana, or at least South Bend, really did deserve Mike Pence.

Let's now go to Watauga, Texas, where an unidentified man made a threat in a phone message to a local mosque, in which he threatened to decapitate Muslims who attended it.

The caller identified as a "Christian."  Police in Watauga are investigating but aren't treating it as a direct threat at the moment.  the FBI has also been notified.

Of course, Tisiphone, you will want to find this person.  But almost more chilling was the remark that "a caller made explicitly violent threats that went well beyond the kind of verbal abuse callers normally level against the mosque." 

It should NOT be "normal" for callers to "level verbal abuse" against ANY person or group.  And it is un-American that this happens.

So you may be digging out a long, long list.

Finally for this week, this happened in Punta Gorda , FL (one of only a few states we might expect it in).  I'll just quote:

A woman, identified as Mary Knowlton, was selected to participate in a “shoot or don’t shoot” training exercise at the Punta Gorda Police Academy. She was selected at random from a group of 35 citizens who were participating in a two hour Citizens Academy—a program created to teach local civics to civilians.

Mary Knowlton, 73, was shot during a role-play scenario in which the Punta Gorda police officer was playing a “bad guy” and fired several times at the woman who was supposed to be playing the victim, according to Sue Paquin, a photographer who was covering the event for the Sun and witnessed the incident.

Knowlton was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Mrs. Knowlton was originally from Austin, Minnesota and was retired in Punta Gorda. She had been a librarian in Scott County, Minnesota.

This incident may reflect more stupidity than malice (and once again I need to restrain my snark/sarcasm).  But things like this happen all the timeAlecto, maybe you can inject some sense here.  I certainly hope so.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4004933

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Aug 122016
 

I’m about to leave for my routine appointment with Megan, my PCP.  Now that she’s back from maternity leave, I won’t be the red headed step child, passed from hand to hand, anymore.  I’m quite tired after yesterday, but it was great to get out for a few hours.  Terry and Sandi tossed my power chair into the trunk, and we went to Denny’s for a chat, mostly about the unfair Parole Board practice that allows prosecutors and those opposing release unlimited witnesses to testify, but allows prisoners only one witness to testify for them.  The prisoner can have only an attorney or a witness, not both.  One of my guys went to the Board a while back, and his victim’s family were not allowed to speak on his behalf.  JD, Terry returns your greetings.  She also sends greetings to the gent with whom she spoke.  I presume he needs a name.  Portland is under an excessive heat warning, so I’ll wait to publish this until I return, so you’ll know I made it home safely.

I’m hone, hot, and pooped!!  Hugs!!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:00 (average 4:37).  To do it, click here.  How did you do.

Cartoon:

0812Cartoon-TCPooped

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