Sunday, January 20, 2019

Tripping Down Memory Lane

Today I participated in the Oakland’s Women’s March. The sun was out, people were festively dressed (including the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the Ruth Bader Ginsburg clones) and they jived and drummed and floated balloons in the streets. Speakers talked about voting, elections, reforming the system, and of course, violence towards women and girls, and educational rights of girls (as of 2017 nearly 58% graduates from college are girls, although the pay gap is still steep).

 

It was an event that matched the Kennedy years—the happy dippy 60s where anything goes (went). And that’s the problem. Anything went. Yesterday's event in no way reflects the political reality of where we as a species stand (or lie flat and refuse to get up) today.  The only movements that seem to be taking the present into account are to be found in India where recently 5.5 million women held hands over 620 kilometers to assert their rights, and where 200 million trade unionists recently demonstrated, bringing India to a standstill against the Modi government because “it is not just for workers, and it is not just for people,” and France, where the Gilets Jaunes movement reflects the massive discontent of working class Frenchmen and women about economic conditions under the austerity of banker darling, Macron.

 


Item: Even the U.S. Department of Housing lists some 554,000 people nationwide as homeless on any given night (the figure’s got to be much higher). Of those, 23% are children; and 11% are veterans (people we called “our brave young men and women” before they came home from the wars).

Code Pink demonstrates at Creech AFB
Item: The bully of the world is at war (officially, not counting the “minor skirmishes,” covert actions, and economic sanctions) in seven countries, including Niger, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Somalia, and going for regime change in Iran and Venezuela.. It has nearly 1000 bases worldwide; and is the single largest burner of fossil fuels and polluter in the world.

Item: The recent wave of caravan migration fleeing violence in Honduras, and crop failures throughout Latin American numbers about 7,000 souls. In the same period, 1 in 18 migrants died crossing the Mediterranean as the death rate soars.  These are people whose economic condition is sufficiently desperate, they are willing to take that risk.

 

Item: Domestically, U.S. infrastructure (roads bridges, railroads etc.) is crumbling because there is no money to repair them (although there’s plenty of money for war profiteering). A wave of teacher strikes continues to sweep across the country (the latest being in LA’s vast school system) by teachers who are deeply dissatisfied with the state of their students’ education (aside from their own abysmal salaries). The housing crisis has caused tents to proliferate at many city intersections; whole encampments exist along railroad sidings nationwide and in 2017 40 million Americans, including 12 million children were “food insecure” (went to bed hungry—if they had a bed to go to).

Item: The recent California Woolsey fire spread radioactivity throughout the U.S. all the way to the East Coast because Boeing and the U.S. which own the Sta. Susana 10-reactor site in Southern California never got around to cleaning up their near-melt down (although their promises spanned more than ten years). The Holtec thin-walled canister nuclear waste storage tanks are already showing signs of failure at California’s San Onofre. A catastrophic accident there would contaminate the entire United States, yet their CEO sleeps soundly at night.

San Onofre Nuclear Waste Storage


I admit to computer surfing recently. A sidebar on one of National Geographic’s sites promised a virtually unending loop of Serengeti predations.  I learned that the shifting eyes of cheetahs, always angling for an opportunity, resemble those of neo-Nazi toughs itching for encounters; and that lions have amazing chest muscles to drag their kills, whose body mass often equals their own, for miles, or until another predator steals it from them, or munches on the other end (the hyena which goes for the anus). But best of all, I watch a migration of water buffalo as it fords an alligator-infested stream. One lucky alligator grabs a water buffalo by the tail. The frame freezes: the water buffalo strains forward; the muddy river bottom offers only a slippery purchase; the alligator holds on. What are the water buffalo’s options? Two obvious maneuvers suggest themselves (but not in a family newspaper).

But neither the alligator, nor the water buffalo are particularly intelligent species; and there is no surgical knife in sight to liberate the water buffalo; They remain locked in their tug of war until one or the other tires. Which one is Congress? And which is #45 and his minions? and which is the people of the United States?

And why are they celebrating the 60s, when it’s nearly 2020—but with no vision in sight?



Pay attention




Sustainability

A plastic-eating fungus has been discovered.

El Paso Electric Company reveals winning 2017 bids, including a total of 200MW of utility-scale solar and l00MW of battery storage.

More than 75% of marine mammals and sea turtles protected by Endangered Species Act are recovering according to Center for Biological Diversity.

Largest solar and battery plant unveiled in Hawaii.

French court cancels Monsanto weedkiller permit on safety grounds.

Hitachi freezes UK nuclear project.

Working on behalf of indigenous Puno communities, DHUMA wins two significant legal battles helping native people resisting expansion  of mining in their region.

The Courts

Judge Wendy Beetlestone blocks regime’s rollback of the ACA’s birth control mandate, issuing a nationwide injunction.

Federal court in PA blocks the regime’s policy allowing virtually any employer (including universities) to block reproductive coverage for religious or moral reasons.

Supreme Court rejects Virginia’s efforts to block a fairer House map.

Addressing New York’s Freedom of information Law, Manhattan Supreme Court justice rules the city’s police department must release information to protesters about whether it used technology to monitor or interrupt their cellphones during protests.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issues first appellate decision regarding actions taken by government officials in social media, ruling that a Facebook page constitutes a public forum.

Federal judge strikes down citizenship question in rebuke to the regime’s efforts against immigrant communities

Resistance

Earth Strike protests build toward Spt. 27 general strike on climate change.

Over 12,000 Brussels students strike demanding bold climate action.

PM Theresa May’s Brexit deal gets crushed in biggest defeat for a sitting British PM in history.

Two hoaxes liven this weeks news: fake WaPo carries headlines claiming #45 resigns. and the Yes Men are behind news that CEO of huge investment firm shifts company’s priorities out of fossil fuels and pressures their portfolio companies to align with Paris Climate Agreement.

The Peoples Platform in Albany puts demands for fair taxes, codifying reproductive rights, and mass incarceration on the table.

LA teachers walk out advocating tor greater investment in public education.

Reunited asylum seekers celebrate first Christmas in New York.

Dozens of demonstrators supporting the Wet’suwet’en anti-pipeline camps briefly held up traffic at Halifax’ roundabout.

The Legislatures

El Cerrito tenants pressure council to enact a Just Cause for Eviction Notice, and strengthen a Relation Ordnance for vulnerable populations.

N.Y. Democrats pass sweeping package of bills to protect and expand voting rights.

N.Y. State passes transgender anti-discrimination  law.

New Haven Aldermen pass ordinance creating independent Civilian Review Board to investigate cop misconduct.

Rachael Rollins becomes Suffolk County’s first-ever black woman District Attorney.

Maxine Waters heads House Financial Services Committee and prepares to pressure Wall Street.

Congress joins Sanders to introduce a nationwide $15 minimum wage bill, guaranteeing a $2400 per month full time wage before taxes.

Congress reintroduces the Disability Integration act ensuring people with disabilities rights to  live at home and receive needed services.

Immigration

Last child leaves Tornillo prison camp for children, but Florida facility nearly doubles in size. 

Temper Tantrum

Celebrity “Chef for Feds” feeds unpaid U.S. government slaves.


Sunday, January 13, 2019

LAX Behavior


There’s nothing like airports to give social observers a litmus reading of a culture as my recent pass through LAX amply illustrates:

Fat people:  Not only the U.S. national benchmark, obesity appears to be spreading world wide. There is nothing like an airport to show the observer ample examples of bulging waistlines and gargantuan behinds as they waddle through the check points. One can only infer that the food industry is farming a population when LA super market shelves budge with 18 varieties of sliced bread, all but one containing from 1 to 5 gms. of sugar.

Fast food: Airports are hamburgher havens.  If you want to kill life on a planet be sure to go into beef cattle ranching. Americans happily munch away on their beef- and cheese- burghers, oblivious of any harm to the planet their luncheon choice may cause. It’s the national dish of an a-gastronomic nation, and nothing can dislodge it from the national taste buds, not even climate collapse.

Entitlement: White male entitlement is ubiquitous, not only in airports. One small incident stands out: The couple is in their 60s, he’s absorbed—where else—in his I-phone. His wife, a large, no nonsense woman who knows her place, wants to make sure he’s adequately fed. She brings him a menu.  He selects while watching his I-phone. She returns with the chosen hamburgher. But it’s what she says as she delivers it: “Aren‘t you lucky there’s someone to bring you lunch without your having to raise a finger.” She’s a big girl, and fully aware of power alignments.

Security Theater: But the best, most telling display is security theater. It does nothing to enhance passenger safety, but it reassures the public, which trudges barefoot and complacent down the cattle chute, yanking screaming, terrified children behind them. Wheel-chair-bound Asian crones ask pleadingly how old they will have to be before not being required to remove their shoes, and die-hard resisters (I am one) demand a pat-down—just like any other routine criminal. I demand a public pat down because mine is a public act, an act of resistance.  Of course, that public is so conditioned by now, nobody even notices an elderly female libertine having her breasts fondled—all except the kids. They know smut when they see it. They’re not brainwashed yet.

 

When the TSA patter downer demands I remove my shoes, I remind her I wear foot braces (ask Johnson & Johnson about their malpractice drug Levaquin) and require my shoes to stand. I extend my remarks: “This is theater,” I remind them each time. And in fact, the CIA can by–pass this ritual anytime they choose to escort an underwear bomber or any other operative on board, guns and all. So if any proof were needed, all this display of hyperactivity is very expensive theater, public entertainment, you might say. However, it’s something of an offset that agents are now serving without pay. Airports are becoming clogged and have to shut down early with an overflow of passengers because of increased daily call-ins by disgruntled agents who demand their pay to play.

From 2016 – 2021, the market value of airport full body scanners is expected to rise from $79 million to $118.3 millions of dollars. Michael Chertoff, 2005-9 Secretary of Homeland Security under the Bushling, has happily pocketed millions on his investment.



Tell Democrats: keep holding the line on border wall funding at

Demand no oil drilling or testing in Arctic Refuge at

Demand Homeland Security recognize seeking asylum is a legal right at

Urge your members of Congress to support reopening the government, but  be sure to write in to withhold all legislation until the government is reopened at




Resistance

5.5 million women formed a 620-kilometer wall across the length of the Indian state of Kerala (population 35 million) urging Parliament to allow women into the Sabrimala temple in southern Kerala. 

Using civil disobedience, protesters close road to Kaapelinkulma gold mine.

Immigration


Judge Temporarily Halts Surprise Arrests of Up to 2,000 Cambodian Refugees. 

Global Warming/Sustainability


Portland now generates electricity from turbines installed in city water pipes.

600 groups call for visionary climate action as momentum builds for #GreenNewDeal.
The Seongdaegol community contemplates the first-ever Korean youth climate litigation when 50 youths and nine lawyers learnt that not a single candidate addressed the climate change issue in their manifesto. 
Skip the slip is introduced in the California legislature.

Both Clorox and Ascena Retail Group will not renew membership in the Plastic Industry Association in 2019.

Clean energy revolution rises with Midwest utilities switching to solar.

 

New Democrats propose network of public banks to fund a Green New Deal.

Southern Illinois to revive economy with industrial help.


All-girl engineering team invents solar-powered tents for homeless.

In Ethiopia, Samson Tsegaye Lemma’s determination leads to villages lit with solar energy.

Recent protests rally against the widespread destruction of trees to make way for development in India’s burgeoning urban areas.

India gets first-ever clean air program.

Group members of the Sunrise Movement recruit support for Green New Deal on Capitol Hill, enrolling 45 members of Congress.

With nationwide tour targeting untapped youth power, Sunrise Movement aims to make #GreenNewDeal inevitable.

Supreme Court blocks ExxonMobil’s efforts to conceal decades of documents in probe of oil giant’s climate deception.

Florida’s Republican governor initiates process banning fracking in state and opposing drilling off Florida’s coasts.

Manoa University researchers partnering with the Wildlife Conservation
Society, find link between forest conservation and coral reef preservation.

Peace

Award-winning journalist, William Arkin quits NBC over relentless support for war.


Invoking the 1973 War Powers Resolution, Senate votes 54-41 to cease funding war in Yemen.

 

Mairead Maguire nominates Julian Assange for Nobel Peace Prize.


Domestic Politics

New York Mayor de Blasio unveils guaranteed health plan  for all N.Y.C. residents regardless of immigration status or income..

Rep. Jennifer Wexton hands trans pride flag outside her D.C. office.

Minnesota’s Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan is first Ojibwe woman to be elected to public office.

New Congress sees largest Hispanic caucus membership since group’s founding.

Democratic House majority unveils sweeping package of voting rights reforms.

First openly bisexual Senator takes oath of office under Mike Pence’s horrified eyes.

Bipartisan group of lawmakers introduce bill to extend universal background checks to all firearms sales.

Tennessee governor grants clemency to sex-trafficking victim sentences to life in prison at age 16.

Panel says politicians can’t block voters on Facebook.

Five-year jail terms sought for ex-Tepco executives over Fukushima nuclear disaster. (Not decapitation?)

Ocasio-Cortez 70% tax rate (meaning 70% after the first million) is moderate, evidence-based policy, which works in Sweden.

 


Mainers celebrate swearing-in of new governor Janet Mills, a  competent Democrat who promises to expand health coverage and fight climate change. 

 

Progressives pressure Senate Dems to stonewall any and all bills that don’t end #45’s shutdown.

Historic amendment to the Florida Constitution restores the voting rights of as many as 1.5 million former felons.

Eight-city Marriot hotel worker’s strike, the result of years of organizing by the workers themselves, wins living wage and reduced workload concessions.

Supreme Court declines GOP request to stay lower court ruling ordering lawmakers to redraw 11 Virginia State House districts discriminating against black voters.

Court decision allows Green Party to proceed with groundbreaking examination of voting machine software without gag rule sought by voting machine corporations.

84% Dem voters support Medicare for All, and urge party leaders to make it ‘extreme priority.’

Program doubling the spending power of food stamp recipients who buy fresh produce gets more funding.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Mid-Winter Follies


The last time I visited Milan, among other delights, in the Sforza Castle museum I discovered a facsimile of a 17th-Century story board depicting  a world gone haywire. In my listener’s ear, the singsong notes of the story teller’s refrain echoed over the centuries, and, just for a moment, my eyes followed the teller’s pointing stick as one by one he chanted each image’s cautionary rhyme. Here a pig roughly barbers a client, there a horse kicks a stable boy in the ribs. To the left, a pair of sheep force two humans to crop grass, and central to it all is Folly’s Castle where all those who are invisible and voiceless get to have their say.

In the recent 6-hour-long screening of the directors cut of Fanny and Alexander I viewed this week, Christmas dinner is served in the kitchen where the Ekdahl family sits together with their many servants, a custom harking back to Roman times, when for a day, masters waited on their slaves, and slaves drank and gambled to excess. In the days of that Empire, the Saturnalia was celebrated at this time of year, from December 17 to 23rd.

Temple of Saturn, Roman Forum
But the Saturnalia was not all fun and games. Following a ritual sacrifice, a King of the Saturnalia was appointed by lot, a Lord of Misrule (a role favored by Nero) who issued orders intended to bend all his subjects out of shape: people were ordered to wear a red cap; or to be tossed in ice-cold water, and public servants were ordered to serve without pay. Dissipation ran rampant.

Image of Saturn as Father Death
Saturn’s consort, Lua, known as the Mother of Destruction, presided over gladiatorial contests, wherein the bodies of dead gladiators were offered to Saturn, a nasty custom first identified by Christian apologists as a form of human sacrifice. Later, Saturn was placated by offerings of human heads, a custom marked during the later Saturnalia by gift-giving of oscillum or wind chimes, depicting effigies of decapitated human heads.


The off-button of the Roman Saturnalia was December 23rd

The Roman Empire ended in 476 A.D. when the good barbarians from the north put an end to it.

Today’s Raw Story headlines:
Making the Court Jester King: New Report Shows How #45 Went from Reality TV to ‘Fake’ President

And Common Dreams reports:
IRS Cuts Audits of the Rich and Steps Up Audits of Poor After Budget Cuts

and Truthout writes:
Pentagon Rings in New Year With Joke About Dropping Massive Bombs on People

 _____________________________________________________________

Ted Lieu (D – Santa Monica) Defies Congressional Protocol


Please check out this video:

Then please forward it to everyone on your lists. And call Ted Lieu’s office to thank him for his courage, or to commend him for his intransigence depending on which color of the political spectrum you favor.
He has a direct line and functioning voice mail system which actually wants to hear from any U.S. citizen who might care to contact him (what a concept!):

1 (202) 225-3976


Demand congressional investigation of the recent deaths of two children in immigration custody at

Demand that Customs and Border Patrol Kevin McAleenan resign at

Demand that Alex Azar and Kirstjen Nielsen cease helping ICE target immigrants seeking to reunite with their children held in custody at

Sign petition to respect the human  right to migrate, and end militarization at the border at


Sustainability

Plummeting solar prices signal the death of dirty energy in India

After more than two million Amazon Reef defenders all around the world resisted plans by French Total to drill for oil ,near the mouth of the Amazon Reef, the Brazilian Government Agency, Ibama refused to grant Total permission to drill.

Ecuador’s Workers Unity Front and other social movements have announced plans to protest against new measures announced by Lenin Moreno’s government, including a reduction in gasoline subsidies.

Watertown becomes first New England Town to require solar panels on new commercial construction.

First Nations activists set up second camp to block construction of Coastal GasLink Pipeline in British Columbia.

Rainforest Connection develops an innovative way to protect rainforests using discarded cell phones.

Spain shuts down all coal mines this month.

Respecting saying of native Guarani people not to accept anything that harms Mother Earth, the citizens of Peruibe, Brazil, defeat massive thermoelectric power pant and pipelines project.

HSBC divests from Israeli weapons and wall-building corporation Elbit Systems

Anti-Nuclear

The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, worth over $1000 billion excludes companies involved in producing nuclear weapons from investment.

Germany’s Deutsche Bank expands its policy to exclude companies involved with controversial weaponry, including those involved in nuclear weapon manufacture.

KBC, a major Belgian bank commits to excluding all nuclear weapons producers from investment.

Ojai, California resolves not to engage in any investments related to nuclear weapons.

ABP, fifth largest pension fund in the world, ends its investments in producers of nuclear weapons.

Labor

Five million workers will see higher pay in 20 states starting January 1st.

More than 3.2 million New Yorkers get raise as the state’s minimum wage increases to $15/hr January 1st.

Trade union mass demonstrations are organized around the Hungarian Parliament to oppose changes to the labor law.

The Courts

Journalist Mumia Abi-Jamal wins chance to reargue his appeal in 1981 police killing.

Louisiana Court rules that sheriff must release all documents about employees’ travel activities at Standing Rock.

Elections

Lauren Underwood beats four-term GOP Representative to become first black woman in her district.

The homeless

Bergen County, N. J. ends chronic homelessness.