Everyday Erinyes #192

 Posted by at 10:00 am  Politics
Nov 162019

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage. These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that. 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.”

OK, I admit it – I’m a fan of Harry Potter, and even a bigger fan of his creator (and proud to share a first name with her.) I’m proud of her when I read her political tweets – not as many as some people’s but always witty and telling. I’m a proud of her when I read that she makes sure to give enough to charity to prevent her from becoming a billionaire. But I’ve never been prouder of her than when I read about this campaign she is launching against one aspect of human trafficking I never considered – “voluntourism.”

Sure, there’s a need for child care in the world. Stuff happens. But it turns out that 8 out of every 10 children in orphanages have parents (and in some countries, the percentage is even higher – 9 to 9.5 out of 10.) And when those parents are living in poverty, someone who has started an orphanage in order to exploit the good will of volunteers (and foundations, and universities, and travel arrangers) who will pour money and services into them, can make those parents some tempting offers. And that leads to trafficking. Not necessarily the kind you probably were expecting, but trafficking nonetheless.

Here’s the hype – the website of “Projects Abroad,” one of the companies which will set up anyone 16 or over with a project, for a fee – shows lots of opportunities … starting at $1,770 for a week (there are a couple which are less expensive per week, but you have to do a minimum of two weeks to get them.) Looks like fun and a way to do something good, right? And some may be (but more about that below). But here’s where it gets glaringly problematic: some of these projects involve orphanages.

According to a report by Lumos, a London-based group founded by JK Rowling that seeks to end institutionalisation of children, one orphanage in Haiti, established by a US religious organisation after the earthquake in 2010, kept children malnourished and living in filth, with no stimulation. Yet it collected donations averaging $10,000 (£7,700) a year per child – much of which ended up in the director’s bank account, a former staff member alleged. That institution, which Lumos believes was engaged in trafficking and selling children for adoption to families in wealthy countries, recruited children using a baby-finder, who convinced poor parents their children would be better off in the institution. “We’ve seen it in Kenya, Uganda, Cambodia – eerily similar patterns,” says Alex Christopolous, deputy chief executive of Lumos. “Child-finders go into communities. They are paid $50 to $100 to identify [needy] families.” 

so what does it feel like to be a child living in one of these orphanages?

You can imagine how many people came to Africa to see the giraffes. So they would go the giraffe centre [adjacent to the orphanage] and take photos of the giraffes; come to the orphanage and take photos of me. We should never let children look like tourist attractions. 

said one young woman who grew up in one of these orphanages.

Certainly there is poverty world wide, and needs that are real. But in wealthy countries, orphanages have all but disappeared, because in these countries, resources go to families and communities. Child development experts will tell you that there is “no such thing” as a “good orphanage.”

Says Rowling,

If that money and that energy was repurposed into charities and projects that are supporting community services, or families, we could solve this problem within decades.

Her campaign, hashtag #HelpingNotHelping, is addressing the problem on two fronts. Her organization (named “Lumos,” because of course it is) is calling on businesses, schools, and universities to stop donating to orphanages and ensure they do not promote or take part in orphanage trips.

On the other end of the problem the effort is aimed at steering young travelers who want to make a difference to look for projects which tackle poverty, and/or support communities – communities of real families.

Even aside from orphanages, voluntourism can be problematic.

Voluntourism may be fuelled by noble feelings, but it is built on perverse economics. Many organisations offer volunteers the chance to dig wells, build schools and do other construction projects in poor villages. It’s easy to understand why it’s done this way: if a charity hired locals for its unskilled work, it would be spending money. If it uses volunteers who pay to be there, it’s raising money. 

And, of course, another thing that voluntourism does to some degree not only in orphanages, is that it gives the voluntourists the impression that poorer countries are filled with people who are too incompetent to do anything for themselves without help from “the West” – including people from “the West” who are pretty incompetent themselves. That is a stereotype believed by far too many people – of course, many who believe that have never in their lives given a dime or an hour to help someone else. The last thing the world needs is for people who really want to help make a difference thinking that way too.

Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone, please help young people, and their parents, and for that matter, their grandparents, realize that not everything is always as it seems, and that it pays to look for the deeper stories.

The Furies and I will be back.


Bill Maher from 11/15

 Posted by at 9:39 am  Politics
Nov 162019

It’s that time of week again, so here are three excellent video clips from Bill’s show last night.  Enjoy!

Monologue: I’m a Crook, So What?


Everyone is going there with the twit’s tweets! Is anyone willing to bet that the new “transcript” is authentic? Trump loves Jordan, because Jordan loves perverts!

Jaime Harrison


If Jaime beat Lindsey Poo, a long shot, would that be a wet dream for Democrats, or what?

New Rule: Let It Go


On an individual basis, I agree with Bill, but politically, I don’t. Those in control of the Republican Party are determined to destroy the human rights and human decency that have made America great. That started before Trump and continue after he is gone. He is there because the party leaders are just like him.  Individuals a redeemable. Authentic conservatives have the same value and rights that I do. But the Republican Party must go the way of the Whigs.

I will miss Bill until he returns in 2020.


Nov 162019

It’s a very tired day here in the CatBox.  It’s been a rough week.  I got the results of the fecal test this morning.  It’s negative!  All that for nothing!  So whatever The problem is, it’s worse, and I have to go see a Gastroenterologist.  ARGH!  Tomorrow is a holy day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb.  My Broncos are meditating with the Vikings.  I guess it’s time to grab my ankles.  Ya shure!  You betcha!  May the divine Orb bless your team, unless they wear horny hats and drive longboats.  Please expect no more than Personal Updates tomorrow and Monday.  Tomorrow is a busy WWWendy shower day, and Monday I go to see my Oncologist to interpret the follow up Cat Scan.  The growths in my lung have increased in size, so I’m pretty sure a biopsy is the next step.  ARGH!  Weekend Hugs to all.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:16 (average 4:56).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?


Short Takes:

From Crooks and LiarsThe Yovanovitch hearings Friday morning provided revelations regarding the impact of Trump tweets on the State Department…

But wait, there’s more!Then it was revealed that Trump is tweeting attacks against Marie Yovanovitch THIS MORNING while she is testifying. Witness intimidation in real time! You’d think Ivanka would take him golfing so he can’t commit impeachable crimes during the impeachment hearings, but hey.

I personally think the stuff about the State Department refusing to issue a statement of support for Yovanovitch because “Trump might tweet a contradiction of that statement they can never be sure” is an equally big deal, but those who wanted “pizzazz” at a hearing got it as Adam Schiff followed up by reading Trump’s tweet from this morning (witness intimidation, again, while she is on the stand) into the record.


That tweet storm is itself an impeachable act: witness intimidation. RESIST!!

From The New Yorker: In a blistering tweet on Friday, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was accused of leaving a trail of destruction by a man with six bankruptcies and multiple business failures.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” wrote the man, who ran the now defunct United States Football League into the ground and paid twenty-five million dollars to settle fraud charges against a fake university bearing his name.

“She started off in Somalia, how did that go?” tweeted the man, whose lengthy roster of bankruptcies includes the Trump Taj Mahal (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino (1992), the Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Castle Hotel and Casino (1992), Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (2004), and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009)….

Andy, what a great point. Putin’s Pervert is a hypocrite! RESIST!!

From YouTube (a blast from the past): The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again


Ah… the memories!  RESIST!!

Vote Blue!!

Nov 152019

[Editor’s Note: At least it’s still Friday.  The Impeachment Hearings are just to riveting for me to resist, but take a chunk of time.  I think Speaker Pelosi timed this extremely well, and Chairman Schiff is doing a stellar job.]

Apparently the Rethuglicans were worried that Devin Nunes, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee holding this week’s critical Impeachment Hearings, was not up to the task of making the GOP look like babbling idiots – so they moved Gym Jordan over as reinforcement. Both Devin and Gym did a stellar job in making republicans look like fools.

My worst fears were confirmed when I turned on the TV for the opening statements, and this greeted my eyes:

Sure enough, Nunes continued to build his ongoing lawsuit against an imaginary cow all day long

At first I thought they must have had some beginner doing the Closed Caption when Nunes spoke because it was so rambling.  But later, after reading viewers’ comments, I realized the captioning was perfect. It captured his udderly (that’s my only bovine pun for the day) bizarre babbling.


One Tweet identified an anatomic concern for Nunes’ ability to breathe – but maybe it interfered with his speech, too.


To be fair, comparing Chairman Schiff’s legal skills against Nunes isn’t really a fair fight.


But if Nunes was a lightweight as the designated “GOP Dolt”, Gym Jordan was the clear heavyweight champ. I’ve been wrestling with how to approach Jordan’s performance, so don’t pin me down to covering all of the lowlights – but it was clear he was willing to go to the mat for Trump with his disingenuous dissembling.

(Now I don’t expect anyone to shower me with any accolades, so I’ll let each of you grapple with whether I hit your favorite Jordan lowlights. If not, please share them in the Comments. [Please Note: I didn’t say anything about limiting wrestling puns.])

The first thing that Jordan displayed was his highly excitable temperament – especially when compared to the calm, fair and even-handed approach of Schiff. Apparently it was obvious to everyone.




But I was a bit concerned when Chairman Schiff, yet again, had to ask Jordan …


I envisioned that, given Jordan’s highly excitable nature and athletic background, he might snap and then we’d see this next …

And it was clear that it wasn’t all that appealing to Ambassador Taylor or Mr. Kent. But being true diplomats, they handled it extremely well. But if there were Thought Balloons above their heads, you know it’d be something like this:


And there were numerous Tweets addressing Jordan’s hypocrisy concerning his never reporting any of the molestations of his wrestlers he was mad aware of while an assistant coach at Ohio State.



In fact I personally was hoping someone would park Jordan’s “Mobile Clinic” van in front of the Capitol during the hearings

Maybe next week …