Feb 082016
 

This probably won’t be posted, until after I return from my podiatry appointment this afternoon.  I’m in hurry up mode while preparing to leave.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:15 (average 4:53).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Ultimate Religious Ecstasy:

0207Broncos24-Panthers10

Woooo Hoooo!!!!

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Outspoken musician and activist Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks once stated during a 2003 World Tour that she was basically ashamed to be from the same state as then-president George W. Bush. The backlash from her statement was incredible. The well-spun music of the multi-platinum Grammy winning trio was immediately pulled from most radio stations. The all-female band was lambasted by the media, conservative pundits, and disloyal country music fans. More horrendously, all three received death threats for practicing their freedom of speech. The whole experience took a toll on the group (Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire), and years later they decided to take a hiatus from touring together…

,,,This experience did not silence the anti-war activist who today continues to speak her mind and truth as she continues her solo career. Her latest comment this past weekend, on Twitter, lashes out at Texas senator and GOP presidential candidate, Ted Cruz. By way of Living Blue In Texas and Ashley Iasimone with Billboard Magazine, Maines tweets:

“Just so you know….I'm ashamed Ted Cruz is from America,” Maines wrote on Twitter late Saturday night (Jan. 23).

With her tweet she posted side-by-side images of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Cruz.

0208Maines

Here’s some video.

Kudos once again!!

From YouTube:

Woooo Hoooo!!!!

From NY TimesAs Democrats consider Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for the second time, women are wrestling with a difficult question: whether they have an obligation to get behind someone who is closer than anyone has ever been to becoming the first female president.

And with her opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, outdrawing her in support among young women, Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy has turned into a generational clash, one that erupted this weekend when two feminist icons, Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem, called on young women who supported Mr. Sanders to essentially grow up and get with the program.

 

My estimation of Gloria just plummeted. I'm all for a first woman President: Elizabeth Warren!

Cartoon:

0208Cartoon

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Feb 072016
 

06 February 2016

Today, 06/02/2016, is the Interbational Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.  A 27/11/2012 press release by Amnesty International UK said: 

The adoption yesterday of a resolution against female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee is a major boost to civil society organisations fighting for an end to the abusive practice, Amnesty International has said.
 
This is the first time the Assembly’s Third Committee, which addresses social, humanitarian and human rights issues, has adopted a resolution on FGM – the cutting of a girl’s genitalia clitoris often without anaesthetic in conditions that risk potentially fatal infection.

The resolution is expected to be endorsed by the UN’s General Assembly in December.  Although not legally binding, UN General Assembly resolutions carry considerable moral and political weight.

FGM is common in 28 countries in Africa as well as in Yemen, Iraq, Malaysia, Indonesia and in certain ethnic groups in South America. However it is an issue of worldwide concern, said Amnesty, with Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls in diaspora communities also at risk of being subjected to FGM.

Then on 27/12/2012, 

A resolution against female genital mutilation (FGM) has been endorsed by the UN general assembly in a move hailed by Amnesty International. Today’s result was a first for the UN’s general assembly. …

“The UN resolution places FGM in a human rights framework and calls for a holistic approach, stressing as it does the importance of empowerment of Women's rights's, promotion and protection of sexual and reproductive health, and breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence.”

From Wikipedia — FGM "…is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. Typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade, with or without anaesthesia, FGM is concentrated in 27 African countries, Yemen and Iraqi Kurdistan, and found elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East, and among diaspora  communities around the world."

FGM_prevalence_UNICEF_2015.svgBy Johnuniq – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37848398

In addition, there are growing numbers in Indonesia.  Here is an article from 2014 specifically dealing with FGM in Indonesia.

The Guardian — It's hot, noisy and chaotic, and almost everyone is smiling.

Twelve-year-old Suminah is not. She looks like she wants to punch somebody. Under her white hijab, which she has yanked down over her brow like a hoodie, her eyes have the livid, bewildered expression of a child who has been wronged by people she trusted. She sits on a plastic chair, swatting away her mother's efforts to placate her with a party cup of milk and a biscuit. Suminah is in severe pain. An hour earlier, her genitals were mutilated with scissors as she lay on a school desk.

During the morning, 248 Indonesian girls undergo the same ordeal. Suminah is the oldest, the youngest is just five months. It is April 2006 and the occasion is a mass ceremony to perform sunat perempuan or "female circumcision" that has been held annually since 1958 by the Bandung-based Yayasan Assalaam, an Islamic foundation that runs a mosque and several schools. The foundation holds the event in the lunar month of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, and pays parents 80,000 rupiah (£6) and a bag of food for each daughter they bring to be cut.  

female circumcision

Suminah will be 18 now; a grown woman. She could well be married, or at least betrothed. Soon enough she will probably have her own kids. I hope she's forgotten her pain, but held on to her rage.

The how and why of female genital cutting varies around the globe.  

The 'how' :

Female genital mutilation is classified into four major types:

  • Type 1 – Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).
  • Type 2 – Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (the labia are “the lips” that surround the vagina).
  • Type 3 – Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.
  • Type 4 – Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

As  shown on the map above, FGM is wide spread across west Africa to north-central and north-east Africa.  It is here that the type of FGM varies.  The following April 2015 article goes into the "why", the culture of cutting.

The Atlantic — She [Bettina Shell-Duncan, an anthropology professor at the University of Washington] also challenges some common misconceptions around FGC, like the belief that it is forced on women by men. In fact, elderly women often do the most to perpetuate the custom. I thought African girls were held down and butchered against their will, but some of them voluntarily and joyfully partake in the ritual. I thought communities would surely abandon the practice once they learned of its negative health consequences. And yet, in Shell-Duncan's experience, most people who practice FGC recognize its costs—they just think the benefits outweigh them.  

Shell-Duncan: The girl was 16. Which was young by their standards. Mostly they’re 18, 19, 20, around that.

Women were going to a dispensary the day before and they were getting antibiotics and an anti-tetanus injection. They would get a clean disposable razor. Before they had a traditional knife that was used, but they stopped using that, and now every bride has her own clean razor.

Khazan: And you watched this unfold?

Shell-Duncan: Well, they invited me. They said, “There’s a wedding going on, do you want to go?” And I was like, “Alright.” They took me to this blended-branch hut. They brought in the bride, and they brought in the circumciser, a woman, and a couple of other women followed. And I just sat on the edge in this tiny hut, and watched what was going on. It all happened pretty quickly. They had one woman working, and other women held each leg. The circumciser came in and lifted this cloth that the woman had been wearing draped around her. The circumciser kneeled, and did basically this.

[Flicks her wrist twice.]

And it was done. They poured some water with herbs boiled in it over her body. They moved her up to this little loft.

After a little time everybody looked to see if the cut was okay, and after that, they started brewing some tea. One woman went outside and announced the circumcision was successful. People started roasting lamb, meat. A little while later, warriors came over to the hut and started singing and dancing praises to the bride and the groom. This went on for hours. There was this complete celebration. I was completely perplexed. I sat there just sort of, you know, “Did anyone just see what I just saw?”

Khazan: Was the girl like, “No, don’t do this to me!” or was she like, “This is happening.”?

Shell-Duncan: No, no, she was proud. She sat there stoic and looked up at a focal point. She didn’t flinch, and that’s apparently a really important part of showing your maturity: Can you withstand the pain? It shows that you have the maturity to face the hardship that is coming as a woman.  

Shell-Duncan: There's no question this is a global-health issue. In the U.S., adult women are capable of giving consent for surgical procedures. But what would it take to get a woman in an African country to the same position of being able to give consent? Social pressures [in the nations that practice FGC] are so strong that no woman could ever opt out. Everybody would come down on her. That’s the problem. Why can we give consent and they can’t?

Click through this excellent article for more about the 'why'.  For the western world, FGM is anathema to our way of life.  But as people move about the globe, many of their cultural practices follow.  In the west however, FGM is done in secret because it is against the law and the law is enforced.  In some African countries, FGM is against the law but the laws are not enforced as vigorously, or at all.

In another article, a former excisor now activist against FGM, tells her story of being an excisor for 30 years.

Huffington Post — As my mother was an excisor, it was inevitable I would become one, too. I started as an assistant to my mother-in-law, helping whenever she excised girls. When my mother-in-law died, a few years after my own mother had passed away, many women from my community were insistent I take over.

Even though I'd only ever observed excision, I felt I had enough knowledge needed to perform excision. After much hesitation, I started accepting regular requests from the community as the "work" is profitable. Practitioners are economically stable. They earn their own wage and they carry a lot of social prestige.  

Several years ago, Plan International and its partner organization ERAD came to our village to raise awareness about the risks of FGM and the associated gynecological problems. Villagers were shown photos and videos. Psychosocial support was also provided for women and they were able to understand more about the issues they faced.

The link between female genital cutting and cases of keloid, dysmenorrhea and urinary incontinence became clear. Five years ago, I decided not to practice excision any more. Soon after, my village decided to ban FGM.

Here is an article on the Care2 site posted by Evelyn, a fairly well known human rights activist on Care2: The Fight Against FGM.
Also, here are two petitions against FGM:

Help Stop Female Genital Mutilation – Urge Congress to Pass the International Violence Against Women 

Stop FGM in Indonesia 

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Feb 062016
 

As I have said before, Bill Maker is so funny that I forgive his evangelical atheism, because he’s right on virtually everything else.  Here he interviews Gloria Steinem.

0206MaherSteinem

In a wide ranging — and alternately serious and funny — interview with HBO host Bill Maher, feminist icon Gloria Steinem addressed the myth that a woman can “have it all,” saying that is impossible for both men and women.

Steinem is promoting her new book, “My Life on the Road,” saying that it where she has spent most of her time.

“The road used to be a male province for no good reason. It should be everybody’s place, ” she explained. “But also the road was thought to be more dangerous. But, statistically speaking, home is the most dangerous place for a woman,” she added, alluding to domestic violence…

Inserted from <Raw Story>

I have to disagree with one thing.  One of my functions with SDS in New York Coty in the 1960s was to liaise with other organizations, which is how I came to know several famous people.  In that role, I met Gloria on a couple of occasions, and contrary to what she now says, she has mellowed with age and now seems quite likeable.

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Feb 052016
 
furies

I have a few items this week which seem to me to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with it. 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."

I have left out the water in Flint, MI, because that made such a stir that I expect you are already on to those people.  I have left out the seditious militants because I am confident you are on to them and indeed have already got some action from a grand jury (good going there).  I have also left out the "pharma bro" who seems to be digging his own grave.  Although any or all of these could possibly resurface in the future, they seem for now to be getting handled.

I do want to draw attention to what happened to Melissa Harris-Perry in Iowa.  A journalist with a news-opinion show on MSNBC, a professor of political science at Wake Forest, and an author, she was there, with students, to experience the caucuses.  She was sitting in the hotel lobby, eyes glued to the TV, when suddenly this guy was standing next to her.

When he started he speaking it was like he was picking up in the middle of sentence, finishing a conversation we had begun earlier, but I couldn’t remember ever meeting him.

“…So what is it that you teach?”

“I am a professor of political science.”

“My wife is a professor of communications.”

“Does she teach here in Iowa?”

“What I want to know is how you got credentialed to be on MSNBC.”

I am not sure if it is how he spat the word credentialed, or if it is how he took another half step toward me, or if it is how he didn’t respond to my question, but the hairs on my arm stood on end. I ignored it. Told myself everything was ok.

“Well. It is not exactly a credential…” I began.

“But why you? Why would they pick you?”

Now I know something is wrong. Now his voice is angry. Now a few other people have stopped talking and started staring. Now he is so close I can feel his breath. Before I can answer his unanswerable question of why they picked me, he begins to tell me why he has picked me.

“I just want you to know why I am doing this.”

Oh – there is a this. He is going to do a this. To me. And he is going to tell me why.

She jumped up and put a table between him and her.  Her friend jumped and put herself between them.  They raised their voices, starting to make a fuss.  The man ran out, jumped in a car, and drove off.  They spoke with hotel security, who listened politely, "but this is the Iowa caucus, and I am not a candidate, so they go back to their evening. And we go back to ours." 

This sounds like grudging to me.  Particularly “But why you? Why would they pick you?”  Perhaps, Megaera, you can find this – person – for counseling.  And, if you have time, stop off at Breitbart, who loudly dismissed and mocked her story (Republican not linked).  Thanks much.

Then, Tisiphone, I suspect you will be interested in the management of Tyson Foods in Arkansas.  Tyson comes in for a lot of flack over the way it treats chickens inhumanely, and the way it overfeeds them antibiotics, but this isn't about the chickens.  This is about the workers.

According to an email from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee,

A stunning 91% of surveyed poultry workers reported having no earned sick leave, and almost two-thirds reported working while sick. More than half of these workers said they experienced discrimination, a very troubling statistic for a workforce made up mostly of first- and second-generation immigrants, as well as minority workers from the United States.

 Women, in particular, cited gender discrimination in the way bathroom breaks are withheld by male supervisors. Some have even urinated on themselves because they were not granted breaks when needed.

Well, OK, maybe it is about the chickens too.  That last sentence can't have improved anyone's appetite, even for non-Vegans.  But I primarily was thinking of the vengeful destruction of the human spirit when you make people pee themselves to keep their jobs.  I suspect a lot of these women are mothers, incidentally.  Giving birth can be rough on the sphincters.

The stockholders' meeting was yesterday, and a Twitter/Facebook Thunderclap was planned.  Not being on either, I don't know how it went, but, I hope well.

Finally, Alecto, I don't even know whether there is anything you can really do about the uncea$ing issues of privatization, prisons, and immigrants; although if anyone can, it's you.  ITPI ("In the Public Interest") exists to study and bring to light the specific ills of privatization, which always ends up costing taxpayers more money for less service, while lining the pockets of people rich enough to own an empire to provide the private "service."  Immigration is no exception.  And whenever pri$on is a part of a cycle, and exists to make money, the stakeholders develop a vested interest in keeping people in them to make more and more money.  But, as this graphic shows, there are a lot more people making money from prisons than just prisons.  This contributes more and more to make the cycle never-ending – unceasing.

I think it speaks for itself.  If you need to see it larger to read it you can easily click through.  It does try to distinguish between civil offenders, who are offenders by just being here, and criminal offenders, who have actually committed a crime.  In practice, I don't know.

Alecto, Megaera, Tisiphone, and I will be back next time.  Whenever that is.  Meantime, we wish everyone perfect blood pressure.

 

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Jan 272016
 

Yesterday I learned that I’m making such good progress that I will no longer qualify for home health care after February 12th.  I can go out for PT and OT, but I’ll have to do it much less frequently, because of the copay and having to pay for transit,  The big hurt is that I’ll lose my shower-aide.  Medicare does not pay for long term personal care, and I make just  little too much too much to qualify for Medicaid.  I’m searching for a solution.  The dreaded task did not get done, because the building’s elevator has been out since Sunday night.  It was supposed to be fixed yesterday afternoon, but it was not.  We’ve actually had three day’s of relatively nice weather, and I’ve been trapped here.  ARGH!!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:05 (average 5:28).  Do I get a double dawgburger?  To di it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Carrie: Donald Trump Fan ?

A teacher asked her 6th grade class how many of them were Donald Trump fans.
Not really knowing what a Donald Trump fan is, but wanting to be liked by

the teacher​, all the kids raised their hands except for smart Little Johnny.

The teacher asked Little Johnny why he has decided to be different…

Little Johnny said, "Because I’m not a Donald Trump fan."

The teacher asked, "Why aren’t you a fan of Donald Trump?"

Johnny said, "Because I’m a Democrat."  The teacher asked him why he’s a Democrat.

Little Johnny answered, "Well, my Mom’s a Democrat and my Dad’s a Democrat, so I’m a Democrat."

Annoyed by this answer, the teacher asked, "If your mom was a moron and your dad was an idiot, what would that make you?"

With a big smile, Little Johnny replied, "That would make me a Donald Trump fan".

FOMCROTFPIMPLMAO!!!

From Daily Kos: This has been a difficult diary to write—not because it is a difficult subject, but because it was so hard to narrow it down to just four governors. Describing the damage that the 31 current Republican governors have done to the United States (and to their own states) would likely take a tome the length of War and Peace. You don’t have the time to read that, and as these men and women are still in office it would be impossible to keep up with the garbage legislation they keep unleashing on their citizens. So let’s just keep it to the top (er, bottom) four:

4. — Maine Gov. Paul LePage. This is a man who does not have the qualifications to be the county dog catcher. Yet inexplicably, he’s the governor of Maine. He is so petty that shortly after he took office he ordered murals representing working men and women taken down, as they were “pro-union.”

Now, if that was all he did he would not have made this list. But Gov. LePage is the gift that just keeps on giving. He has no filter when talking about his opponents—think Donald Trump, but worse. In short, he is a bully. Oh, and a racist too.

But no, we aren’t done yet: He used his political power to have an opponent fired from a job at a charter school. This brief write-up only scratches the surface of Gov. LePage. He is an awful human being, on top of being a lousy governor.

LePage is just number four. Click through for the bottom three Governors in the US, Republicans, of course.

From Upworthy: One of the first women of country to really "tell it like it is" was singer Loretta Lynn. She was never shy about her life.

Her song "The Pill" — released in 1975, 15 years after the birth control pill was introduced— was no exception. Take a listen:

 

I loved her music. Forty years later, the Republican Party would organize a boycott of her music. Don’t forget what they did to the Dixie Chicks!

Cartoon:

0127Cartoon

Global warming, caused mostly by burning fossil fuels and Republican flatulence, causes extreme weather of all kinds, not just hot weather,

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Jan 262016
 

Yesterday I finally found a way to exchange my sharps.  I cannot use the Metro facility, because it is hazardous for people in wheelchairs.  The Lift bus won’t wait for me.  Fortunately I found a private company that actually costs less than Metro, and they come right to my door.  Jeannie (shower-aide), just left, so I’m a perfumed pussycat with shiny fur again.   Arvilla (PT) will be here within the hour.  She’ll set-up my quad cane and work me out,  Tomorrow I hope to do part of the dreaded task, while Tracey (OT) checks me for safety.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:28 (average 5:32).  To do it click here. How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: The most hated man in America just gave another reason to be hated. As you know, there is a medical crisis going on in Michigan with every child in Flint potentially poisoned with lead. People, especially the poor, are still desperate for clean water. Ted Cruz has entered to do the Christian thing and donate—

But only for those who work in ultra-right wing, fake pregnancy “crisis” centers.

Likely, none of Ted’s water donation will get to the children who actually need the water. That would require working with a real charity, like the Red Cross. Instead, Ted’s campaign is coordinating water donations through Flint Right to Life only to be delivered to the ideologically-aligned wingnuts who work at these awful anti-abortion centers.

For those who don’t know, pregnancy "crisis" centers are places run by pro-life extremists, which are designed to fool women into thinking they are actual medical facilities. Instead, pregnant woman are bombarded with fake information in an attempt to trick them out of having an abortion. The people who work at these centers have no qualms about lying, instilling fear, or encouraging women in abusive relationships to stay put as long as there is no abortion.

It should be no surprise that, even in so-called charity, Uranus Inspector, however you spell it, acts just like a Republican.

From The New Yorker: On Saturday, the Times reported that the former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg “has instructed advisers to draw up plans for a potential independent campaign in this year’s presidential race.” From one perspective, that isn’t too surprising. The former mayor has long been eyeing a possible run at the White House, and there has been a lot of speculation about his intentions in 2016. Last week, a well-connected New York Republican told me that he thought Bloomberg would jump in if Donald Trump won the G.O.P. nomination.

While third party candidates on the left hurt progressives and only help elect Republicans, right-wing third party candidates are a blessing to America. They help elect Democrats.

From Alternet: Nationwide blowback targeting Muslim places of worship has now reached South Milwaukee, Wisconsin–where a group calling itself the Christian Civil Liberties Union (CCLU) is aggressively opposing the construction of a new mosque.

The religious facility–Masjid Al-Hudad–does not require prior approval from the city and has already acquired the property on which it will be built.

But that is not stopping the far-right, Christian fundamentalist group CCLU from mobilizing fierce opposition, including at a Common Council meeting last Tuesday.

At the public meeting, CCLU member Bob Braun issued an unclear–but highly alarming–warning. "There’s going to be, I predict, bloodshed one of these years coming up," he said, according to local media.

Here we have one more in the long list of examples of Republican domestic terrorism.

Cartoon:

0126Cartoon

Vulture Capitalism is the Republican way!

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Jan 222016
 

What an enjoyable lunch I had with my lady friends.  We met at a 12 week programme in the fall of 2014, and following my suggestion, we have met once a month for conversation and lunch since the end of the programme. After today's lunch, I was feeling very good, more confident . . . I was told by 3 people that I looked like I had lost weight.  Inside I was doing handsprings!  Then at my local bookstore, a clerk told me the same thing.  I had to laugh later though because I realised I was sitting straighter and walking taller.  Now, if I only knew it was true . . . I do not have a scale.

Short Takes

Robert Reich  Why did the white working class abandon the Democrats?

The conventional answer is Republicans skillfully played the race card.

In the wake of the Civil Rights Act, segregationists like Alabama Governor George C. Wallace led southern whites out of the Democratic Party.

Later, Republicans charged Democrats with coddling black “welfare queens,“ being soft on black crime (“Willie Horton”), and trying to give jobs to less-qualified blacks over more-qualified whites (the battle over affirmative action).

The bigotry now spewing forth from Donald Trump and several of his Republican rivals is an extension of this old race card, now applied to Mexicans and Muslims – with much the same effect on the white working class voters, who don’t trust Democrats to be as “tough.”  

All true, but this isn't the whole story. Democrats also abandoned the white working class.

Click through to see how, in Reich's opinion, Democrats abandoned the white working class.  He makes some very valid points.

Crooks and Liars — A pictoral essay.  Isn't this the truth!  Although in my mind, Kagan, Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer would be good to add some diversity.

Open Thread - SCOTUS Dream Team!The SCOTUS Dream Team

Politico — Senator Ted Cruz invoked President John F. Kennedy's name and legacy in a campaign appearance the other day, arguing that if he were alive today, Kennedy would be a Republican. Specifically, he said Kennedy “would be tarred and feathered by the modern Democratic Party.  

Cruz described the Kennedy campaign as one for tax cuts, limited government and tough talk against the Soviets.

And yet, accepting the nomination of the Democratic Party in 1960, Kennedy said this: “There may be those who wish to hear more—more promises to this group or that—more harsh rhetoric about the men in the Kremlin—more assurances of a golden future, where taxes are always low and subsidies ever high.” But he admitted he wasn’t that candidate. He outlined his vision for a New Frontier—a platform of challenges rather than promises, an appeal to public interest over private comfort. Clearly, Cruz hasn’t read that speech.

JFK Jr must be rolling in his grave at the audacity of Ted Cruz dragging his name and legacy into the Republican mud!

Washington Post — Stephanie Czech Rader was the daughter of Polish immigrants, uneducated laborers who settled in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in the early 1920s and barely spoke English. Her immersion in Polish language and culture proved critical to her success, against daunting odds, as a U.S. spy in Europe after World War II.

Recruited to the Office of Strategic Services and the Strategic Services Unit of the War Department, precursors to the CIA, she was officially employed as a clerk at the U.S. Embassy. In reality, she was undercover, an agent whose flawless Polish accent and mannerisms allowed her to move around the Soviet-dominated country with relative ease.

She faced near-constant hazard anyway. Conditions in Warsaw were bleak and dangerous.   

Mrs. Rader did not embody the cliches of Hollywood espionage. She was a chemistry major who glided into the shadows, hardened to spycraft but only up to a point.

“They gave me a gun but I never carried a gun,” she said. “What the heck was I gonna do with a dumb gun?”

I ran across this obituary and found Rader's story compelling.  In a Daily Beast story, author Shane Harris noted:

pushing through a Legion of Merit recommendation that was approved by Rader’s senior officers in 1946. The War Department, though, thought she should get a lesser award.

Rader perhaps had two strikes against her. First, she was a woman. Second, she was a member of the newly formed Office of Strategic Services, the United States’ first central intelligence service and the precursor to the CIA. 

Harris is likely correct . . . being a woman was likely a prime reason for not receiving the Legion of Merit.  I hope this folly willed be rectified.

Huff Post — Adorable kitties are getting sanctuary inside a mosque in Turkey this winter.

cats in Turkish mosque

Big-hearted imam Mustafa Efe lets stray cats shelter from freezing cold temperatures inside the Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi Mosque in Istanbul, according to local English-language newspaper Daily Sabah.

I make no secret about it . . . I adore cats!  So I wanted to share this story of stray cats given shelter, and more importantly, love.  The videos are cute.  They might even be rated CO — Cuteness Overload!  Are you up to it?

My Universe — 

31Happy_FrannyPenny_OK

I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.  —   Jules Verne

 

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Jan 212016
 

Forty three years ago tomorrow, SCOTUS decided Roe v. Wade, affirming a woman’s right to control her own reproductive choices.  Since then Republicans have been negating that right, as much as they can.  SCOTUS devolved into SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD).  The Fascist Five Injustices seem determined to eliminate it, piece by piece.  I’s time to fight back against this Republican War on Women.

AbortionGOP

Friday marks the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States. At this point, many Americans may assume that it’s easier than ever to access abortion services — but nothing could be further from the truth.

barefootLegal abortion, proven to be both life-saving and essential to the economic security of women and their families, was a critical step in this nation’s journey toward gender equity. Roe was profound not only because it affirmed women’s basic right to health care and well-being through abortion care, but also because it ushered in medical standards and regulations that ensured women were safe during the procedure.

Expanding access to abortion care also bolstered the success of the then-newly established Title X program, which provides family planning services to low-income and uninsured families. Women gained unprecedented access to more doctors, enjoyed insurance coverage for the full range of comprehensive reproductive health services, and saw the ability to manage their fertility for the first time. This had a ripple effect on their ability to pursue educational and economic opportunities. In short, Roe gave many women control of their destinies.

However, history shows us that women have been denied the full benefits of Roe for decades.

Republicans-in-your-vaginaJust seven years after the Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s right to abortion, the justices upheld the Hyde Amendment, a budget rider approved annually to this day that prevents women covered by Medicaid from using their insurance to pay for abortion services. Then, in 1992, the Supreme Court held in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey that a state could restrict an abortion procedure as long as it did not pose an undue burden on women seeking the service. Ever since, states have increasingly sought ways to encroach upon a woman’s ability to access abortion care. More than 200 state-level abortion restrictions have been enacted since 2010 — almost the same number as the total number enacted in the 15 previous years.

And this year, the Supreme Court will hear Whole Women’s Health v. Cole, the most significant women’s health case since Casey. Whole Women’s Health, a Texas-based reproductive health clinic, is challenging a Texas state law passed in 2013 that requires abortion providers to meet expensive and unnecessary regulations — including complying with the standards of ambulatory surgical centers and obtaining admitting privileges from local hospitals.

Whole Women’s Health amplifies how far we have strayed as nation from the promise of Roe, and how much remains at stake. The Supreme Court could affirm Roe in a manner that enables the right to abortion and ensures access for the most vulnerable women in Texas. Or the Court could deliver another ruling that further strips away this precious liberty for far too many women

Inserted from <Think Progress>

To be clear, I consider abortion  as the very last resort, but I recognize that I have no right to impose my own beliefs on others.  Therefore I fully support women’s right to make their own medical choices.

Contact your Senators and Congress critter.  Sign petitions.  Supporting Planned Parenthood is a good way to prevent abortions by providing education and contraception to women.  Oppose abstinence only education in your schools.    Most of all we needs to keep the white House free from infestation by Republicans until SCROTUS becomes SCOTUS again.  Next we need to put Republicans in every level of government from Senator to dawg catcher into the unemployment line.

Every Republican in office is one Republican too many!

VOTE!

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Jan 122016
 

Yesterday I went top see my new Primary Care Physician.  I was impressed that the scale had bars with which to pull myself up. .I weigh,262.  Her staff was very helpful.  Megan is young, personable and humorous.  She took the time to listen to issues and explain her reasons for her recommendations.  Today PT is coming and my bath aide should be too.  I’ll be ordering groceries and collecting medical information.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2 57 (average 4:55).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: Screw paid parental leave. Republican presidential candidate (yes, still) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich thinks new mothers and fathers should rely on their employers to “try to be creative” instead of being required to offer paid leave. And if the extent of their employers’ creativity is “come to work or you’re fired,” as it is for so many Americans, oh well.

“The one thing we need to do for working women is to give them the flexibility to be able to work at home online,” Kasich told the man who asked the question. “The reason why that’s important is, when women take maternity leave or time to be with the children, then what happens is they fall behind on the experience level, which means that the pay becomes a differential.

When folks say KKK Kasich is a moderate, call them on it!

From Alternet: Bernie Sanders’s plan to break up the biggest banks and reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act (separating investment from commercial banking) is necessary – and why Hillary Clinton’s more modest plan is inadequate.

The Reich on the left, Robert Reich, is right. Bernie’s plan is better than Hillary’s. Click through.

From Crooks and Liars: MoveOn.org’s members voted to endorse Bernie Sanders after members voted overwhelmingly for him in an online poll last week.

According to MoveOn’s executive director Ilya Sheyman, 79 percent of MoveOn’s members said they wanted to endorse Bernie. The vote shatters all previous records for member votes.

Sheyman listed the top reasons members gave for their choice, including Sanders’ commitment to tackling economic inequality, standing for communities facing injustice, saying no to permanent war, and the belief that Sanders is the more electable candidate.

This is a huge endorsement for Bernie, and will give him access to organizing resources and mobilize grassroots support for him.

Kudos to Bernie and to all the MoveOn members who voted for him, including me.

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Republicans would do it again!.

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Jan 052016
 

I said yesterday that today would be busy, and it was.  I arrived home finally about 18:30 and sat down to relax . . . that was that for about 2 hours.  Tomorrow should be more relaxed.  Certainly was nice to come home to 3 purring furbabies.

Short Takes

Alternet — America has succumbed to a vicious cycle in which great wealth translates into political power, which generates even more wealth, and even more power.  

The progressive era welled up in the last decade of the nineteenth century because millions of Americans saw that wealth and power at the top were undermining American democracy and stacking the economic deck. Millions of Americans overcame their cynicism and began to mobilize.  …

 it is up to the rest of us to continue to organize and mobilize. Real reform will require many years of hard work from millions of us.

"Real reform will require many years of hard work from millions of us."  This is the bottom line!  Getting out the vote.  Unrelentingly pushing for change.  We are still in an age of instant gratification.  But we have to realise that change does not happen over night.  Change takes time, persistence and dedication.

Mother Jones — Between the shooting deaths of three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood, the Supreme Court's decision to hear its first abortion-related case in nine years, and the more than 50 new abortion restriction laws enacted by state governments, abortion access was one of the most important issues of 2015. With presidential politics and ongoing legal challenges in the states, abortion rights will continue to be under fire in 2016.

"Last year's big events, like the Planned Parenthood videos and the Supreme Court case, have actually ginned up even more interest in restricting abortion," Elizabeth Nash, a senior state issues associate at the Guttmacher Institute, tells Mother Jones. "If it was possible, they've actually added more energy to decreasing abortion access."

Republicans say they want small government, but they insist on making more repressive laws that affect women. And family values?  They have no idea what true family values are!

Huffington Post — California lawmakers can ask for voters' opinions on campaign-spending laws after the California Supreme Court on Monday upheld the Legislature's power to use advisory ballot measures.

In a 6-1 decision, the Golden State's high court ruled lawmakers have the power to place a nonbinding measure on statewide ballots asking voters if Congress should be spurred to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling on unlimited independent campaign donations.

This sounds promising , another tool in the End Citizens United tool box, at least in California.  Will similar measures catch on in other states?  Certainly not in Republican states.  Citizens United should have never come to be.

My Universe

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The natural order!

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Jan 022016
 

Yesterday I spent most of the day resting, although I did cook myself a steak, cheese whipped potatoes, Asian veggies, and chocolate cake  (bought).  I successfully moderated portions, as my glucose level this morning was 97.  Sleeping without sheets is very uncomfortable.  And my helper-friend is still AWOL.  Tomorrow is a holy day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb.  My Broncos’ meditation with the chargers will be televised.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:45 (average 4:46).  To do it. click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos (classic 11/2015): Sixty million people died in World War II, but fascism won. It didn’t win on the battlefield. It didn’t win right away. It won because the same fears, the same greed, the same hatred that fueled its growth in the first part of the twentieth century never went away. The symbols of fascism became anathema, but the causes … went deep. And gradually, slowly, one step at a time, all those vices became first tolerated, then treated as virtues, and then as the only acceptable view.

Godwin’s Law—the contention that any argument will eventually come round to warnings about Hitler—is twenty-five years old, but for much longer than that, we’ve been taught that the use of that… f-word, is not to be taken seriously. Sure, every government program, new or old, is open to accusations of communism and warnings of a slippery slope toward some failed dictatorship. That’s expected. But to even acknowledge our long, stumbling lurch to the right; the building force of corporate power; the relentless need for war; a police whose power of enforcement is divorced from law; a preening nationalism that rewards the full rights of citizenship only to those who fit an ever-narrower mold… You can’t call it fascism. People will only laugh.

Godwin’s Law – a common meme used by Republicans, other fascists, pseudo-intellectuals, and people with their heads in the sand, or in smellier places, whenever anyone points out the verifiable commonalities between today’s Republican Party and Germany’s National Socialist Party, before Hitler became dictator. The Republican Reich must be stopped.

From NY Times: For decades, the south steps of the State Capitol have served as a staging area for rallies on issues ranging from abortion to immigration rights, but Friday was the first time that demonstrators walked around here with handguns on their hips.

On a chilly, overcast day, more than 100 Texans gathered carrying an array of holstered weaponry — Glocks, Smith & Wessons and more — to mark a change in the law that lets them openly display the fact that they are armed. The practice had been banned in Texas since 1871.

Similar demonstrations were held in several other Texas cities.

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Look! The Republican Ammosexuals are exposing their penises.

From Alternet: A self-described “pro-family” conservative said on Facebook he should be allowed to grab the nipples of breastfeeding mothers if a law banning women exposing breasts in public didn’t pass. New Hampshire state Rep. Josh Moore (R) deleted the comment, but it was archived and posted by Slate.

How about grabbing Moore’s balls in public… with pruning shears?

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Jan 012016
 

A new year begins with the promise for me that 2016 virtually has to be a better year than last.  May it be so for us all.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 5:14 (average 7:27).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos (July): In one simple quote, Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B. sums up the hypocrisy of many in the ‘pro-life’ movement:

"I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is."

While I disagree with her opposition to women’s right to make their own medical decisions, I respectfully disagree, because, unlike the Republican Party,  she is consistent.

From Media Matters: Fleeing from terror and indiscriminate violence in parts of the Middle East, millions of people have packed up and left their homes to start safer lives for themselves and their families elsewhere. But if you tuned into Fox News anytime in the last year, you’d think the refugees themselves — many of them Muslim — were responsible for the violence. In fact, painting Muslims as terrorists, radicals, and tacit supporters of ISIS, baseless demonization of Islam was the channel’s modus operandi in 2015. And it wasn’t just right-wing media. CNN also joined the smears, asking a Muslim human rights lawyer if he supports ISIS, questioning a Michigan mayor if she’s afraid of her majority Muslim-American city council, and forcing responsibility for the recent attacks in Paris onto an innocent French Muslim.

 

The slanders the Republican Reichsministry of Propaganda, Faux Noise, keep repeating are totally false.

From NY Times: Wealth can be bad for your soul. That’s not just a hoary piece of folk wisdom; it’s a conclusion from serious social science, confirmed by statistical analysis and experiment. The affluent are, on average, less likely to exhibit empathy, less likely to respect norms and even laws, more likely to cheat, than those occupying lower rungs on the economic ladder.

And it’s obvious, even if we don’t have statistical confirmation, that extreme wealth can do extreme spiritual damage. Take someone whose personality might have been merely disagreeable under normal circumstances, and give him the kind of wealth that lets him surround himself with sycophants and usually get whatever he wants. It’s not hard to see how he could become almost pathologically self-regarding and unconcerned with others.

So what happens to a nation that gives ever-growing political power to the superrich?

To find out, click through for the rest of this fine Paul Krugman editorial.

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