Apr 252015
 

I have a very busy day with volunteer projects to get done, and a three day volunteer trip to Salem to plan for next month.  I hope you are all enjoying tour Spring weekend.  It’s still rainy here.

Jug Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:42 (average 4:38).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From AP: John Legend has launched a campaign to end mass incarceration.

The Grammy-winning singer announced the multiyear initiative, FREE AMERICA, on Monday. He will visit and perform at a correctional facility on Thursday in Austin, Texas, where he also will be part of a press conference with state legislators to discuss Texas’ criminal justice system.

"We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country," Legend said in an interview. "It’s destroying families, it’s destroying communities and we’re the most incarcerated country in the world, and when you look deeper and look at the reasons we got to this place, we as a society made some choices politically and legislatively, culturally to deal with poverty, deal with mental illness in a certain way and that way usually involves using incarceration."

Legend, 36, will also visit a California state prison and co-host a criminal justice event with Politico in Washington, D.C., later this month. The campaign will include help from other artists — to be announced — and organizations committed to ending mass incarceration.

Kudos! This is so necessary!

From Blue Oregon: Stand up to the gun lobby and pass SB 941

Gun violence claims too many lives. In the past two years, reasonable gun safety proposals haven’t even gotten a vote in the Oregon Legislature.

But it’s a new day. The Oregon Firearm Safety Act would expand the background checks system to individual sales (in addition to gun shops and gun shows). It will close a loophole that is used by those who want to circumvent background checks.

It’s reasonable. It’s modest. And it doesn’t infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners.

Sign the petition and let’s make Oregon safer.

This for mainly Oregonians, and I support it fully! Click through to sign.

From Daily Kos:On November 26, 2013, 38-year-old Ervin Edwards, partially deaf and mentally ill, was arrested by police for sagging his pants and taken to the West Baton Rouge Parish jail in Louisiana. He only lived for a few more minutes inside of the cell.

For 18 months, police have lied over and over again about what happened the night Ervin Edwards died in their custody. Now that a video of their despicable actions has been released, it’s clear they murdered this man and left him to die all alone in his jail cell. The Advocate has provided an annotated video.

 

Click through for the lies. This is how Republican police handle the crime of saggy pants.

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Apr 142015
 

When I dug into my corporate reporting for my volunteer group, I discovered I have until mid-May to get that done, so I decided to blog instead, in addition to delving into the mess I need to tackle for grocery delivery day tomorrow.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:38 (average 4:30).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: South Carolina wants to be able to continue to ban gays and lesbians from marrying each other. They want to do that so much that they filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court that they should continue to be able to do so. In it, they make an "originalist" argument that if the Constitution is read just as its drafters understood it, gays can be discriminated against because women can be discriminated against. Mark Joseph Stern at Slate has all the crazy.

Here’s the gist of South Carolina’s fascinatingly sexist argument. The state wants to prove that the 14th Amendment—which guarantees "equal protection of the laws" to every "person"—was not intended to displace state marriage laws. And what did those laws look like at the time? One major feature: In many states, married women were not permitted to own property or enter into contracts and had no legal existence apart from their husbands. According to South Carolina, the framers of the 14th Amendment explicitly preserved the rights of states to deprive married women of the ability to function independently from her husband. This right to deprive married women of basic liberties, South Carolina argues, is enshrined in the 10th Amendment and is not at all undercut by the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equality.

Were SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD) to agree with this brief, not only would gays become the subjects of continued discrimination, but also, "barefoot and pregnant" laws would sweep those states, where Republicans have complete control.

From The New Yorker: Hillary Clinton has followed up the official announcement of her candidacy with a new campaign ad featuring nothing but kittens.

The sixty-second spot stars an assortment of kittens—tabbies, calicoes, Siamese, and a dozen other breeds—in a variety of adorable vignettes.

At various points in the advertisement, the kittens are shown playing in a sock drawer, tangled up in yarn, and chasing a duckling.

Clinton herself appears only in the final seconds of the ad, saying merely, “Hi. I’m Hillary.”

Andy, I certainly hope my kitty cousins are not exploited in such a shameful manner. Wouldn’t it be better to portray the kittens using Republicans as a cat box? I might get in on that action myself!!

From NY Times: One by one, four former Blackwater security contractors wearing blue jumpsuits and leg irons stood before a federal judge on Monday and spoke publicly for the first time since a deadly 2007 shooting in Iraq.

The men had been among several private American security guards who fired into Baghdad’s crowded Nisour Square on Sept. 16, 2007, and last October they were convicted of killing 14 unarmed Iraqis in what prosecutors called a wartime atrocity. Yet on Monday, as they awaited sentences that they knew would send them to prison for most if not all of their lives, they defiantly asserted their innocence…

…The judge, Royce C. Lamberth, strongly disagreed, sentencing Mr. Slatten to life in prison and handing 30-year sentences to the three others.

My only regret is that the top war criminals, Bush and Cheney, were not sentenced with them.

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Apr 132015
 

The first step in a climb to higher political office is often the office of District Attorney.  It casts the politician in the role of protecting the community, and few things are more effective in that regard than the successful prosecution of high profile crimes.  At the same time, leaving such a crime unprosecuted, or failing to get a conviction is almost guaranteed to snuff out a budding political career in it’s infancy.  This gives prosecutors a built in incentive to push on to get convictions against people they know are innocent, using whatever means it takes to do it.  Therefore it should come as no surprise that there are so many innocents on death row.

0413deathHowever much Americans may disagree about the morality of capital punishment, no one wants to see an innocent person executed.

And yet, far too often, people end up on death row after being convicted of horrific crimes they did not commit. The lucky ones are exonerated while they are still alive — a macabre club that has grown to include 152 members since 1973.

The rest remain locked up for life in closet-size cells. Some die there of natural causes; in at least two documented cases, inmates who were almost certainly innocent were put to death.

How many more innocent people have met the same fate, or are awaiting it? That may never be known. But over the past 42 years, someone on death row has been exonerated, on average, every three months. According to one study, at least 4 percent of all death-row inmates in the United States have been wrongfully convicted. That is far more than often enough to conclude that the death penalty — besides being cruel, immoral, and ineffective at reducing crime — is so riddled with error that no civilized nation should tolerate its use.

Innocent people get convicted for many reasons, including bad lawyering, mistaken identifications and false confessions made under duress. But as advances in DNA analysis have accelerated the pace of exonerations, it has also become clear that prosecutorial misconduct is at the heart of an alarming number of these cases.

In the past year alone, nine people who had been sentenced to death were released — and in all but one case, prosecutors’ wrongdoing played a key role…

Inserted from <NY Times>

There are actually two problems that need to be addressed here.  We must eliminate the incentive for prosecutorial misconduct.  I would like to see it made a felony, with at least a five year prison term and automatic disbarment.  More important, lets gat civilized!  State sponsored murder costs tax payers far more than natural life.  State sponsored murder does nothing to prevent other murders.  State sponsored murder prevents its victims from reforming and leading productive, socially useful lives behind bars.  I know it happens.  A couple of the guys who assist me in my volunteer used to be on death row and are now serving natural life.

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Apr 132015
 

Now that I’ve finished my personal taxes, I get to do the same for my volunteer group, which involves far less money, but far more paperwork.  I should have done al this a month ago, but took sick right before receiving the reporting forms.  Therefore, today’s articles involve minimal research.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:34 (average 6:48).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: The two major political parties’ unconscionable waste of money officially commences this weekend, as Democrats and Republicans will soon begin spending an estimated five billion dollars of their corporate puppet masters’ assets in an unquenchable pursuit of power.

The billions, which could be spent rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, improving schools, or reducing the scourge of malaria in Africa, will instead be squandered in a heinous free-for-all of slander and personal destruction, alienating voters as never before.

The media will inevitably focus on the personalities of the bloated roster of narcissists lusting after the White House, but scant attention will be paid to the Wall Street bankers, industrial polluters, and casino magnates whose grip on American democracy will remain vise-like…

Andy forgot the satire. Everything here is factual.

From Daily Kos: A recurrent fear heard by the Christian right is if gay people are widely accepted, those who disapprove of homosexuality will be shunned and treated just like racists!

See talking point #4 copied directly from National Organization for Marriage:

“If courts rule that same-sex marriage is a civil right, then, people like you and me who believe children need moms and dads will be treated like bigots and racists.”

This classic is over two years old, but it turned out to be quite correct. Those who hate gays and those who hate blacks are treated exactly alike. They are embraced and supported by the Republican Party.

From Upworthy: Is your community thinking about opening its doors to fracking? Check out this video for some images that might make that decision crystal clear.

 

This says what needs saying!

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Apr 082015
 

This is today’s only article.  I sleep poorly last night, because I was feeling unhappy, and I can’t catch up now, because I’m waiting for my grocery delivery.  Please everyone… do not make donations for me to go to do volunteer work with my guys in prison.  The issue is more the physical challenges that overnight travel on public transit than it is finances.  Even if I have the money, I do not have the stamina to make such a trip more than once every other month.  Thanks for caring.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:29 (average 4:40).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: With an official announcement on his campaign Web site, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has joined a crowded field of people who will never be elected President in their lifetimes.

While Paul and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are the only officially announced Republican candidates with a zero-per-cent chance of ever winning the Presidency, a burgeoning roster of totally pointless candidacies is waiting in the wings.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and neurosurgeon Ben Carson are just a few of the men thought to be considering squandering time and money pursuing an office that they will never occupy in a billion years.

From Andy’s mouth to God’s ear.

From NY Times: A white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder on Tuesday after a video surfaced showing him shooting in the back and killing an apparently unarmed black man while the man ran away.

The officer, Michael T. Slager, 33, said he had feared for his life because the man had taken his stun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop on Saturday. A video, however, shows the officer firing eight times as the man, Walter L. Scott, 50, fled. The North Charleston mayor announced the state charges at a news conference Tuesday evening.

The shooting came on the heels of high-profile instances of police officers’ using lethal force in New York, Cleveland, Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere. The deaths have set off a national debate over whether the police are too quick to use force, particularly in cases involving black men.

For once it looks like the cop won’t get away with Republican police methods.

From Unworthy: John Oliver flew 10 hours to Russia to interview Edward Snowden and get him on record.

This a 30 minute video, but it’s well worth the time to watch it. Due to an error in YouTube’s embed script, I can’t embed it for you here, but you can click through and watch it there.  He treats a serious subject with humor, but crystal clarity. It is especially revealing about the incompetence of US voters.

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Apr 072015
 

I received some devastating news this morning.  My friend, who is undergoing chemotherapy is also the one who drives me to Salem to do my volunteer work with my guys in prison.  It’s sixty miles away.  Her treatment providers have advised her to stop going for four months, because her immune system will be compromised by her treatment.  So the only way I can go work with my guys before August will be to take the bus and spend the night in a motel.  I figure I will be able to do that once.  ARGH!  I may be intermittent for the rest of the week, because tomorrow is a grocery delivery day, and Friday is my quarterly surgery on my foot.  It will also be my first day out since getting sick.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:46 (average 4:54).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: A second effort in the Tennessee legislature to take up Medicaid expansion failed this week, meaning 280,000 Tennesseans still remain, needlessly, without any kind of healthcare coverage. When one of those Tennesseans confronted Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R), a wealth manager at Morgan Stanley about it, asking him if he’d be willing to give up his own insurance, well, Gardenhire showed his true colors.

One activist, Damien Crisp, asked Gardenhire if he would be willing to give up his own state-subsidized health insurance.

Gardenhire, in a video of the incident taken by another activist, turned around and said something along the lines of "Not giving it up, asshole" or, perhaps, "Why don’t you give it up, asshole?" ("Asshole" is the clearest part of his rejoinder.)

Barf Bag Alert!!

 

There is only one word demeaning enough to use to describe Gardenhire. He is a Republican.

From The New Yorker: The Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s constant references to Jesus Christ in his speeches and campaign ads are sparking a strong interest in atheism among millions of Americans, atheist leaders report.

Since Sen. Cruz (R-Texas) announced his candidacy two weeks ago with the words “God isn’t done with America yet,” a substantial number of Americans “have begun seriously questioning the existence of God,” said Carol Foyler, the executive director of the American Society of Atheists.

“It’s been amazing,” Foyler said. “We’re getting calls from people who are curious about atheism for the first time in their lives. And when we ask them what got them thinking about it, they all say the same thing: ‘I just heard Ted Cruz talk.’ ”

Foyler said that her group often notices a surge in atheism after natural disasters or other traumatic events that rattle people’s faith, but, she added, “We’ve never seen anything like Ted Cruz.”

After Cruz aired an Easter weekend campaign ad in which he spoke of the transformative power of Christ, Foyler said, “Our phones were ringing off the hook.”

Andy is so spot-on. People who do not realize that Republican Supply-side Jesus has nothing to do with and is the polar opposite of the Jesus worshiped by authentic Christians. That makes Republicans a premiere advertisement for atheism.

From Alternet: That time he shushed a female CNBC anchor on live TV

In the same interview (with CNBC anchor Kelly Evans), Paul spoke about a bill he was co-sponsoring with Sen. Barbara Boxer that would grant companies with assets overseas to bring it to the U.S. with a 6.5 percent “holiday corporate tax rate.” As Evans pressed Paul about the specifics of the bill, he became increasingly condescending: “Hey, hey, Kelly? Calm down a bit here, Kelly,” he said, before literally shushing her.

Bigger Barf Bag Alert!!

 

This is just one of seven ludicrous Rand Paul moments. Click through for the other six. He almost as misogynistic as the malignant troll… his daddy!

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Mar 132015
 

I have a cold or the flu.  I’m running a fever and have nasal congestion in addition to severe COPD.  I got it from chilling myself outside a bureaucrat’s office.  On the other had, it could just be what I get for turning 67 on Friday the  13th.  Obviously, this is today’s only article.  Some of the material is slightly outdated, but, as bad as I feel, it’s the best I can do.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:22 (average 4:52).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: Stating that “their continuing hostilities are a threat to world peace,” Iran has offered to mediate talks between congressional Republicans and President Obama.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, made the offer one day after Iran received what he called a “worrisome letter” from Republican leaders, which suggested to him that “the relationship between Republicans and Obama has deteriorated dangerously.”

“Tensions between these two historic enemies have been high in recent years, but we believe they are now at a boiling point,” Khamenei said. “As a result, Iran feels it must offer itself as a peacemaker.”

He said that his nation was the “logical choice” to jumpstart negotiations between Obama and the Republicans because “it has become clear that both sides currently talk more to Iran than to each other.”

He invited Obama and the Republicans to meet in Tehran to hash out their differences and called on world powers to force the two bitter foes to the bargaining table, adding, “It is time to stop the madness.”

I’m afraid it won’t work Andy. Some terrorists are just too far gone for Iran to be able to help.

From Media Matters: Sean Hannity lectured criminal defense and civil rights attorney Tamara Holder about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s impact on women’s issues, telling Holder, "let me educate you."…

…Hannity’s lecturing became so egregious, his female producer challenged him, asking if he was treating Holder this way because she is a woman:

 

If women follow the advice Hannity is giving, they will have nothing to do with him.

From Daily Kos: Six years too late, media call congressional Republicans ‘traitors’

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Now Republicans are claiming they were just being "cheeky". That’s the truth, if the cheeks in question are the ones, between which their heads are inserted.

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