Sunday, June 18, 2017

"This Way To The Starting Gate, Ladies And Gentlemen"


When I first passed through a security barrier after 9-11, what I saw overwhelmed me with feelings of horror and disbelief.  “Do you know what you’re doing?” I kept asking everyone in particular, forgetting that the “what” needed to have a context, and that the people I was attempting to talk to had no awareness of Third Reich history following the Reichstag Fire.

Fast forward to my return to Oakland through the Los Angeles airport this week. (The LA airport, referred to as Lax has recently suffered a make-over to the tune of $509.8 million. Just two gender neutral one-seater bathrooms serve the swelling crowds. The wait line Tuesday morning consists of nine people, their faces screwed up in varying degrees of anxiety. Tip to LAX travellers: allow 20 minutes to attend to bodily needs.)

As a matter of conviction, I have made a habit of refusing to pass through Michael Chertoff’s full body scanners, devices that have made Mr. Chertoff a millionaire, in favor of a pat down conducted in full view of the public. I do this to call attention to what invading the privacy of a 84-year-old woman looks like (which is why I refuse the oxymoronic “private screening.”)

This time around, repeated shouts by TSA personnel for a “female assist” go unanswered. (“Female assist” is the operative term for the soft porn practice by the T&A of the female pat down.) During my ten-minute wait for female “assistance,” I have the benefit of standing at the frontlines where the sheepization of the American traveling public gets reinforced. Some 500 people are waiting to penetrate the “security” veil, one by one.  Constant shouts over the din of the crowd caution people to empty their pockets, remove their hats, and strip their feet of shoes.  So divested, they file docilely forward, all of them barefoot. A small child screams hysterically, in full tantrum mode, flinging her shoes out of her stroller, acting out this environment’s energy. Her mother is warned to extract both her children from the stroller (a likely repository for volatile substances) which must be passed childless, through the barrier by a stolid-faced attendant. The woman hoists one strollerless child onto her hip, grabs the tantrumee by the arm, yanks her up off the floor to haul her, still kicking and screaming, through the security barrier.

Is something wrong with this picture?

I decide to change my waiting to proactive. I block the line waiting obediently for the voyeurism of the full body scanner, making it clear I intend to maintain my stance until the promised “female assist” makes her appearance. Despite my maneuver, another few minutes elapse. At last, I cup my hands, shout through the security barrier “female assist!”

“Are you talking to me?” a “male assist” inquires from beyond the barrier.

“I didn’t think I was talking,” I wisecrack.

Shortly thereafter the promised “female assist” arrives, ushers me through the gate. Tantalizingly she describes all the assistance she intends rendering me. Directed by her litany, I spread my arms, I spread my legs. She indicates she will run her hands under my waist band, front and back. She executes her tasks with conviction, her strokes vigorous enough to dislodge my slacks from my waistline. At last she delivers the promised back and forth over my crotch. (Whereas formerly the hands were passed downward in a swift and I like to imagine embarrassed motion, this new development is intended for further customer satisfaction.) This time her hand gestures are aggressively suggestive.

“Do you have something there?” She eyes me suspiciously.

I restrain myself from using a street expression for the female genitalia. Instead I settle for, “You bet!”

My remark releases the Errinys. A supervisor strolls over. “Ma’am? Ma’am, we have to do the pat down all over again.” She begins repeating the ritual, top to bottom. I demand an explanation.

“Ma’am, you were making sarcastic remarks.” she explains.

“Sarcastic remarks are now against the law?”

“Ma’am, ma’am,” she bleats with all the assurance of an enraged school marm. “I’ll have to call my supervisor.”

Feast or famine, the third “female assist” appears. I spread my arms, I spread my legs.

Bemused, an eleven-year-old boy watches the proceedings. I want to say, “Young man, take a good look at this. Remember this.” But from the time he began remembering, his years tell him that walking through the security barrier into the maw of Michael Chertoff’s radiation-producing full-body scanner requires bare feet. My years conjure images of Jews stripped naked, waiting expectantly to enter the crematoria, of people being told they are lining up for the showers, only to discover that the soap that has been issued to each one of them is really just a stone.




This Week’s Roses Amidst the Thorns





Backers of the dam opposed by Berta Cåaceres withdraw their funding completely.

 
NRDC reaches $100 million settlement that requires Michigan and Flint to replace damaged lead pipes and to provide filter installation and education to Flint residents.



Hawaii joins California, Washington, and New York upholding the goals of the Paris Accords.

Minnesota is the fourth state to support the Paris Agreement, joining Washington, California and New York.

Colorado’s marijuana profits go to schools and to fighting opioid addition.

Kansas rolls back Trumptype tax cuts for the wealthy because it devastated the state’s treasury.

Seeking Economic justice for all, Hawaii becomes first state to consider basic income.
To raise awareness of an unjust bail system, communities bail fathers and others out for father’s day.

Chokwe Antar Lumuba wins mayoral race in Jackson, Mississippi, Jackson’s first black mayor.



Women in Missouri, Ohio, and Texas, get creative protesting repeal of Obama Care. 

Protest: Women dressed as handmaidens after Margaret Atwood's novel
Sweden largest pension fund divests from Paris Accord violators ExxonMobil and TransCanada.




Federal judge rules Army Corps of Engineers gave DAPL a waiver without the necessary EIR, but requires further advisement while the oil keeps flowing. 

What You Can Do:

Sign petition to banks to Stop Financing DAPL and Tar Sands Pipelines




Sunday, June 4, 2017

TRICKLE DOWN, TRICKLE UP


The Trump carnival earned its latest booby award with the announcement of US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.  But “it’s an ill wind blows no one good,” as the saying has it. A good example is the trickle down economics practiced by the present regime. The world is up in arms and outrage, but consider: so far the carnival has awakened people like nothing before ever could. Why would another moronic gesture not elicit the same reaction?

Ken Ward writing for TheHill.com underscores that Paris is an agreement with no teeth, and as such a fig leaf “offering political cover to those who would soft-pedal the runaway climate crisis a while longer.” Ward is a valve turner who goes on trial
next week on felony charges for shutting down an oil sands pipeline. He has this to say: “Pulling out of Paris takes false hopes off the table, and opens the way for building an effective climate movement.”

Even before the announcement, Exxon-Mobile shareholders voted to require the company to report the impacts of climate change on its threatened business. Sixty-two percent of them demanded Exxon produce an annual report that explains how the company will be affected by global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and by reduced fuel use. This may very well be but one reflection that American voters favor remaining  in the Paris Agreement 5 to 1. That figure has to include some Trump voters.


Within hours of the Trumpet’s announcement, three states, New York, California and Washington, representing over one-fifth of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, announced they are committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced the formation of the United States Climate Alliance, a coalition that will convene U.S. states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change. It’s clear, at least to this writer, that much more good will come from Trumpomania, than if  the US had announced its support of Paris.


 

What you can do: Donate.

Unfortunately, this trickle down effect comes with a reverse osmotic trickle up effect from the regime’s swamp: Hate. Mentally disturbed Jeremy Christian managed to stab three passengers aboard a Portland commuter train when they came to the defense of two apparently Moslem young women Christian was harassing. One of them, Micah Fletcher survived. A poet, he posted this poem:

            "I, am alive,
            I spat in the eye of hate and lived.
            This is what we must do for one another
            We must live for one another
            We must fight for one another
            We must die in the name of freedom if we have to.

What you can do: Act Up Against Hate!



This Fortnight’s Roses Among The Thorns:



NY AG Eric Schneiderman rules Exxon will have to turn over documents indicating what they knew about global warming and when they knew it.

Although the fight is far from over, a federal appeals court affirmed the suspension of Trump’s Muslim ban on grounds of religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.



Nevada’s Assembly votes 38 to 2 to pass AB 405 to bring back rooftop solar; another Bill 406 also passed setting Nevada toward 50% renewables by 2030.




Progressive candidate, Edie DesMarais wins special election to the New Hampshire House in a traditionally Republican stronghold.

Progressive candidate Christine Pelligrino wins a seat to the New York House of Representatives.