Jun 222016
 

hedgehog-looks-binocularsJoris Luyendijk: It's time to say goodbye to the British

At a time when it seems to be nearly impossible to get away from America’s upcoming presidential elections and the presumptive candidates on either side of the isle, nearly all British and many Europeans have another important thing on their mind: the Brexit referendum.

Two days before the British people are headed to the polls to vote on the Brexit referendum on Thursday June 23, Dutch correspondent Joris Luyendijk has published an op-ed in NRC Handelsblad (6/21/2016) that quickly made it to the Reddit site in a (sorry, rather bad) English translation and really got the negative comments of Brits on both sides of the Brexit chasm flowing.


Luyendijk, who has been living in London for the past five years and has worked as an editor for the British newspaper The Guardian for two years, has seen enough of the Brexit debate – which toned down a bit for only two days after the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox and now has resumed in all its harshness – to propose that perhaps it’s not such a bad idea if Europe took her leave of the UK.

“Enough is enough. In normal times the British sabotage was tolerable. But these are not normal times, Joris Luyendijk ascertains. So let's go our different ways – as friends”

In the years he’s lived in England, Luyendijk has come across much ‘Euroscepsis’ in “A mix of unsuspecting indifference and self-imposed ignorance. Featuring the views of a large part of the mainstream British towards the EU and Europe.” He thinks that’s innocent enough but found it increasingly worrying to listen to a colleague at The Guardian “who recently compared the EU with the Soviet Union, ‘but without the gulag,’ a journalist dead-seriously saying: "Well, ultimately the EU is nothing more than an attempt by Germany to still win the Second World War," or hear politicians like Boris Johnson who “claimed no essential difference between Hitler's plans for Europe and of the EU.”

Luyendijk thinks that the referendum is very useful in this respect: it shows how deep the Europhobia is rooted. Many in the ‘out’ camp media use this absurd and false caricature of Europe to feel superior and dream about making Great Britain great again, blaming the EU for it no longer being a world power. The ‘in’ camp treats staying in the European Union as a favor for which the EU has to make concessions.

For a large part of the English media and politics ‘Europe’ is a dirty word. Yet Luyendijk has misgivings about the Brits choosing to leave the EU in the end. Leaving could mean that the Scots, who are likely to vote to stay, will want to leave the UK to remain in the EU. Northern Ireland is of two minds about this too, as it could rekindle the ‘troubles’. So chances are that a slight majority will vote to stay in and according to Jean Quatremer that could mean: "If the UK decides to stay then they will make the lives of the populations in the other 27 countries worse than ever before."

Is Luytendijk such a EU enthusiast then that he doesn’t want the UK to stay? Far from it; he’s a ‘Eurosceptic’ in his own right: “The EU is not in a crisis. The EU is about to collapse. Schengen is not working. The euro does not work. And the EU is simply not democratic in its current form.” But he also firmly believes that the EU is in desperate need of reforms and all member states should do their level best to bring that about successfully. Luytendijk just doesn’t believe the UK is going to do that. He’s convinced it will keep pushing for concession after concession, for having it 'their' way, not open, or rational and on the basis of a realistic self-image. What is needed are countries where public opinions are not held hostage by Europhobic billionaires, notably by mediate magnate Rupert Murdoch who has been quoted saying: "If I go to Downing Street, they do what I say. If I go to Brussels, everyone ignores me." So much for ‘sovereignty’.

Joris Luyendijk believes Europe should be the wisest of the two and stop its wishful thinking that the British are going to want to fit in some day. What is needed is an amicable divorce, it would be beneficial to all.

Before finishing this article, I watched our national news which of course had an item on tomorrow’s Brexit referendum. ‘Outer’ Boris Johnson was trying to convince undecided voters with something along the lines of: “We need to take back control…otherwise we’ll end up in the trunk of the car…not knowing where we are going to, but probably ending up somewhere we don’t want to go.” To that he gleefully added: “ and the car will be driven by a chauffeur who doesn’t speak the best of English.” Hmmm, perhaps Luytendijk has a point.

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May 102016
 

I was seeing triple or more, until I awoke this morning.  When it comes to malignant nevi, Allison is the premiere Ocular Oncologist in the Pacific Northwest, so I feel confident that I am good hands.  I do have cancer, a Uveal  melanoma in my right eye,  I will need two outpatient surgeries, one to insert and one to remove a radioactive plaque.  It is close enough to the optic nerve, that I will probably lose vision in that eye from radiation damage two to three years later.  However the alternative is to lose the eye to the tumor in the same amount of time, while greatly increasing the risk of metastasis.  Before the surgery, there are a bunch of hoops I need to jump through.  I’ll need a complete physical, a CAT Scan of liver and lungs, an OK from my Pulmonologist, arrangements for home care for 24 hours after both surgeries, a consultation with a Radiation Oncologist.  I had so hoped my medical mayhem would level off, but it looks like it will continue through much of the summer.  ARGH!! Disappointed smile  TriMet called me to apologize.  The driver that screwed up George’s appointment with Sarah did not find me, because she announced at the building next door.  The rep said they will emphasize the importance of making sure they are in the right location to all drivers.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 7:44 (average 5:26),  (I saw 4 dawgs.)  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: President Obama’s commencement speech today at Howard University firmly and repeatedly challenged the central message of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. (C-Span link offers video and full text.)

The president was not attacking Sanders’ ideology of fairness. But he was clearly separating himself from Sanders’ dogmatic insistence on revolutionary transformation.

If you want to make life fair, then you have to start with the world as it is.

The balance between idealism and pragmatism was clearly at the forefront of the president’s mind.

Democracy requires compromise, even when you are 100% right. This is hard to explain sometimes. You can be completely right and you still have to engage folks who disagree with you. If you think that the only way forward is to be as uncompromising as possible, you will feel good about yourself, you will enjoy a certain moral security, but you will not get what you want.

This is one reason there has been somewhat of a class divide between Bernie and Hillary supporters. The “moral security” Obama refers to is an emotional and intellectual luxury if it doesn’t contribute to substantive change.

Obama makes a valid point, but his beef should be more with a small, but vocal, idealist minority of Bernie’s supporters, not with Bernie himself. Bernie has stated that his positions are goals and touted his own ability to compromise and work across the aisle.  Compromise has been impossible over the last several years, because Republicans have been unwilling to compromise.  Every time Democrats have agree to a compromise Republicans have proposed, Republicans have demanded even more concessions.

From NY Times: Austria’s chancellor resigned abruptly on Monday after seven and a half years in office, having lost control of his center-left Social Democratic Party amid a rightward shift fueled by anxiety over migration.

The chancellor, Werner Faymann, initially supported the decision last year by Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, to welcome migrants fleeing war and poverty and to refuse to set a limit on how many might come. But after a ferocious backlash, Mr. Faymann switched course, joining his coalition partner, the center-right Austrian People’s Party, in supporting border restrictions.

The policy reversal was not enough to stop the right-wing Freedom Party, which has run on a strident “Austrians First” platform, from capitalizing on the influx of migrants. In September, the party finished second in regional elections in northern Austria.

An even greater shock to the establishment occurred on April 24, when the Freedom Party candidate, Norbert Hofer, won the first round of the presidential election, capturing more than one-third of the vote. He will face a former Greens leader, Alexander Van der Bellen, in a May 22 runoff.

The two establishment parties — which have governed for the past decade in a so-called grand coalition, a political constellation that has dominated postwar Austria — together received just 22 percent of the first-round vote. No matter who wins the second round, the next president will not be from either mainstream party, for the first time in decades.

I offer condolences to the good people in Austria.  Could Hofer be following in the footsteps of a fellow Austrian, whose name also began with an H? That Austrian is the inspiration for today’s Republican Party, here in the US.

From Crooks and :Liars: Going into the West Virginia primary, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has come out in opposition to a "lame duck" vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This takes her beyond her previous statements mildly opposing TPP. Clinton also made a strong statement criticizing our country’s trade agreements in general.

As reported in The Hill, in "Clinton opposes TPP vote in the lame-duck session," Clinton replied to a questionnaire from the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, which consists of more than 25 labor, environmental and human rights organizations. When asked, "If elected President, would you oppose holding a vote on the TPP during the ‘lame duck’ session before you take office?” she replied, "I have said I oppose the TPP agreement — and that means before and after the election."

I know just how to respond to Hillary’s change of heart. Thank you, Bernie!

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May 082016
 

I’m getting another late start today.  When I finally finished with all yesterday’s tasks, I could not sleep, because the battery in my smoke detector ran low, and the damn thing started chirping at me every 30 seconds.  We have very high ceilings, and the desk clerk on duty was very short.  She could not reach it, even though she climbed onto mu desk.  I had to wait for shift change at 9:00 AM, when a tall guy came on, and he changed it.  However, I got almost no sleep.  This mourning I did research and took a Lona cat nap.  Tomorrow, please expect no more that a Personal Update.  I have a five hour appointment with my Ocular Oncologist to determine the best way forward for the probable melanoma in my right eye.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:47 (average 5:48).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos:

“The last time you signed a contract for a cell phone plan, a bank account, or a credit card, you probably signed away your right to go to court if that company cheated you. That’s because most contracts for financial products contain forced arbitration clauses buried deep in the fine print. These clauses prohibit consumers from protecting themselves in court, and they make it a lot easier for financial institutions to get away with cheating their customers.” —Sen. Elizabeth Warren, October 2015.

In a move The New York Times calls “the biggest that the agency has made since its inception in 2010,” the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Thursday proposed a rule that would bar mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts with financial firms. Since it requires no congressional approval, the rule quite likely will go into effect after a 90-day public comment period in which opposition from business groups will no doubt be extensive, loud and bullshitty. (If you’d like to comment, you can choose a method here.) Foes of the rule, which could cost firms billions, include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce…

Thank God for Elizabeth Warren for championing the CFPB! I love this rule, but we need such a rule, banning forced mandatory arbitration for all companies!

From NY Times: Last November, Meg Muñoz went to Los Angeles to speak at the annual West Coast conference of Amnesty International. She was nervous. Three months earlier, at a meeting attended by about 500 delegates from 80 countries, Amnesty voted to adopt a proposal in favor of the “full decriminalization of consensual sex work,” sparking a storm of controversy. Members of the human rights group in Norway and Sweden resigned en masse, saying the organization’s goal should be to end demand for prostitution, not condone it. Around the world, on social media and in the press, opponents blasted Amnesty. In Los Angeles, protesters ringed the lobby of the Sheraton where the conference was being held, and as Muñoz tried to enter, a woman confronted her and became upset as Muñoz explained that, as a former sex worker, she supported Amnesty’s position. “She agreed to respect my time at the microphone,” Muñoz told me. “That didn’t exactly happen” — the woman and other critics yelled out during her panel — “but I understand why it was so hard for her.”

Muñoz was in the middle of a pitched battle over the terms, and even the meaning, of sex work. In the United States and around the globe, many sex workers (the term activists prefer to “prostitute”) are trying to change how they are perceived and policed. They are fighting the legal status quo, social mores and also mainstream feminism, which has typically focused on saving women from the sex trade rather than supporting sex workers who demand greater rights. But in the last decade, sex-worker activists have gained new allies. If Amnesty’s international board approves a final policy in favor of decriminalization in the next month, it will join forces with public-health organizations that have successfully worked for years with groups of sex workers to halt the spread of H.I.V. and AIDS, especially in developing countries.

In my opinion, prostitution should be decriminalized. Attempts to outlaw it over the last 5,000+ years have always been unsuccessful, as they always will be. Income from legal prostitution can be taxed. Legal prostitution can be licensed and regulated to protect sex workers from abuse and  protect public health.  Legal prostitution can be separated from the illegal drug trade.  While I don’t encourage it, it’s past time to end the exploitation and criminalization of sex workers.

From Huffington Post: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country would not use nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty is infringed by others with nuclear arms, in a speech broadcast on Sunday, and set a five-year plan to boost the secretive state’s moribund economy.

He has all the qualifications needed for Rump Dump Trump to want him as a VP candidate.

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Free Leonard Peltier!

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May 072016
 

George is furious at TriMet.  We saw the lift bus pass the door three times yesterday, but we often see Lift buses that aren’t mine go by.  I called, and dispatch told me that the driver had come here at 12:35, and I was not here.  I told her that was untrue.  I’m guessing that the driver went to the wrong building, because I had been waiting in the lobby since 12:20.  I talked to customer service and filed a complaint.  I had to cancel my appointment with Sarah, and George did not get his new ankle.  I’ll have to reschedule, after I know what’s going on with my eye.  I’m getting a late start today, because Julie was here from 7:30 – 11:30,  She helped me shower.  I’m a pampered puddy tat.  Then we worked together to do the dreaded task, cooked a half a dozen chicken breasts, and did some light cleaning.  After she left, I had lunch and did my research.  I’m getting tired already.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:38 (average 4:48).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From YouTube (Jeff Merkley Channel): Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley outlines the ‘Stopping Abuse and Fraud in Electronic (SAFE) Lending Act,’ legislation to crack down on some of the worst abuses of the payday lending industry and protect consumers from deceptive and predatory practices that strip wealth from working families.

 

Oregon and Senator Jeff Merkley still lead the way!!

From Daily Kos: Cassandra McWade got into a car accident on a stretch of highway in North Carolina. The 25-year-old McWade was fine, but her car wasn’t in any shape to drive and she needed a tow. Enter self-described “conservative Christian” Kenneth Shupe. He’s the tow truck driver that was called in to help McWade out.

When he saw “a bunch of Bernie Sanders stuff” he said he told the woman, “very politely,” that he could’t tow her car because she was “obviously a socialist” and advised her to “call the government” for a tow.

"Every business dealing in recent history with a socialist minded person I have not gotten paid," Shupe said. "Every time I deal with these people I get ‘Berned’ with an ‘e’ not a ‘u’."

Holy. Shit. There are too many things wrong here. First, should McWade call the government that employs tons of tow truck operators and pays for their services with citizens’ money? Second, I’m not calling Kenneth Shupe a liar when he says that “socialist minded” people have not paid him but let me put it this way—Kenneth Shupe is a liar.

Shupe, who runs Shupee Max Towing in Travelers Rest, said he is a conservative Christian who supports Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Shupe said he has drawn a line in the sand not to do business with Bernie Sanders’ supporters.

Trump supporters reflect the love passed down from their Fuhrer, Rump Dump Trump.

From NY Times: In a Europe struggling with a rise in Islamophobia, riven by debates about the flood of Syrian migrants and on edge over religious, ethnic and cultural disputes, London has elected its first Muslim mayor.

Sadiq Khan — a Labour Party leader, a former human rights lawyer and a son of a bus driver from Pakistan — was declared the winner after a protracted count that extended into Saturday. He will be the first Muslim to lead Britain’s capital.

The victory also makes him one of the most prominent Muslim politicians in the West.

If Rump Dump is elected, he would make the Mayor of London ineligible to visit the US.

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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.

 

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

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Mar 242016
 

I took another nap this morning, because ii was cold, and I felt tired.  Portland is weird at this time of year.  When the sun hits the bricks in my building, it warms up and stays warm until late in the evening, but the temperature drops into the low 40°s at night, so my apartment is very cold in the morning.  Tomorrow I’ll be gone half the day or more for PT/OT with Courtney.  Expect no more than a Personal Update then, and I probably won’t be sending link messages at Care2.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:12 (average 5:15).  To do it click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: The infamous decades-long "War on Drugs" was actually a tool for the federal government to crack down on leftist protesters and "black people," a former Nixon White House adviser admitted in an interview published Tuesday.

John Ehrlichman, who served as counsel to former President Richard Nixon, explained the unfortunate use of the controversial policy in a 1994 interview with writer Dan Baum, that he revisited in a new article for Harper’s published this week.

"You want to know what this was really all about," Ehrlichman, who died in 1999, said after Baum asked him about government policies regarding drugs. "The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying," Ehrlichman continued.

"We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.” [emphasis added]

At the time, we leftist protestor-hippies knew exactly what was going on, but we had lost our credibility, because the Weathermen had turned the antiwar movement violent.

From NY Times: It turns out that the most important voice in the Supreme Court nomination battle is not the American people’s, as Senate Republicans have insisted from the moment Justice Antonin Scalia died last month. It is not even that of the senators. It’s the National Rifle Association’s.

That is what the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said the other day when asked about the possibility of considering and confirming President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, after the November elections. “I can’t imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm, in a lame-duck session, a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association,” he told “Fox News Sunday.”

So Fecal Dump Trump would make Supreme Court Appointments up to The TEAbaggers at the Heritage Foundation, while Bought Bitch Mitch would make it up to Ammosexuals at the NRA.  ARGH!!

From Think Progress: Renewable energy investment set a new world record in 2015, with emerging economies led by China topping the investment of developed nations for the first time, according to a United Nations-backed report unveiled Thursday.

Last year, the world invested $286 billion in green energy — some 3 percent more than the last record set in 2011 — mostly on wind and solar, according to the report, put together by the Frankfurt School and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). On the other hand, coal and gas-fired electricity generation drew less than half the investment made in solar, wind, and other renewables.

“China is by far in the lead, but you also have quite a few others,” Eric Usher, head of UNEP Finance Initiative, told ThinkProgress. “In the lead table of the top 10 countries, six of them are in developing countries … so we see a transition taking place.” China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is responsible for about a third of worldwide investment, or $102.9 billion. The United States, the second largest emitter, is a distant second with $44.1 billion — 20 percent less than it invested in 2014.

Other countries in the top 10 list include Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, and India.

I consider this news mixed. World-wide, it’s great news, but for the US to be investing about 40% of the Chinese investment and 20% less than a year ago is terrible news.  That makes it more likely that China, not the US, will own most of the green energy technology and have most of the green energy jobs.  Republican seditious sabotage is to blame.

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