Sunday Reads: Mastodon Migration

Cartoons first…via Cagle:

A few more things…

As for Mastodon…

I’ve sign up with mastodon and it seems cool so far…

If you would like to give it a try: https://mstdn.social/invite/diPNC9x2

And if you want to follow your Twitter people just use this tool: https://fedifinder.glitch.me/ or https://pruvisto.org/debirdify/

Journalist are signing up…you can find them some of them here: https://journa.host/explore

You use the same hashtags as you do on Twitter. If you sign up with the link I have shared, there is moderation on that server…

If you want to cross post from twitter to Mastodon: https://crossposter.masto.donte.com.br/

For more information on Mastodon: https://docs.joinmastodon.org/

Meanwhile, in a town not far from Banjoville:

So if you go to Mastodon…I will see you there.

This is an open thread.


Not Just Another Monday Reads: Living through Traumaverseries

Good Day Sky Dancers!

It’s difficult to explain how much one date could traumatize and change an entire American city but today is one of those days.  17 years ago, the levees topped after Hurricane Katrina directly hit the city. It’s still very hard for me to look at these pictures of the devastation my youngest daughter took in the Lower 9–across the canal from me–on the Thanksgiving weekend following Katrina.  They were still pulling dead bodies from the debris at that time.

This top picture shows one of the few houses that didn’t collapse with its Katrina cross, indicating someone had died in that home. I watched all of this on CNN from the safety of a pink futon on the floor with my two yellow labs and Miles the Wondercat from a motel in St. Charles, LA that would later be devastated by Hurricane Rita.

My house sat high and dry on the high ground with a nearly new roof and some minor wind damage. The following six months were an experience of camping out in your own home with minimal electricity and chasing around to find working gas stations and open grocery stores.  I also made a daily pilgrimage to the Red Cross station in the Quarter to pick up cleaning supplies and food.  I really experienced survivor guilt too.  Something I hadn’t had since I wound up being the only person known to survive the rare type of cancer I had five years before that. That was definitely not an enjoyable emotional experience either.

I’m also reminded of Hurricane Ida last year, which disrupted my life and significantly impacted my house. However, now, my insurance company wised up, gave me a $10k deductible, and basically told me I was on my own. Thankfully, I got a FEMA grant.

Teacher of the year and Katrina Survivor Chris Dier has a tremendous long thread on the federal mishaps that led to our devastation and the crony capitalism that has crippled us since then.

Diel lived in extremely hard-hit St. Bernard Parish, with most houses and infrastructure destroyed. He was 17 at the time.  He’s chosen a series of articles to orchestrate the steps that have led us to where we are today, which is not fully recovered or whole.  It’s also left us, victims, to charter schools and AirBNBs.

Today, I’m here to remind you that climate change is real and has already had devasting impacts all over our sweet mother earth and ecosystems and the life it supports. Failure to deal with it is a failure of global governance.

From The Washington Post: “Greenland ice sheet set to raise sea levels by nearly a foot, study finds. New research suggests the massive ice sheet is already set to lose more than 3 percent of its mass, even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases today”.

Human-driven climate change has set in motion massive ice losses in Greenland that couldn’t be halted even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, according to a new study published Monday.

The findings in Nature Climate Change project that it is now inevitable that 3.3 percent of the Greenland ice sheet will melt — equal to 110 trilliontons of ice,the researchers said. That will trigger nearly a foot of global sea-level rise.

The predictions are more dire than other forecasts, though they use different assumptions.While the study did not specify a time frame for the melting and sea-level rise, the authors suggestedmuch of it can play out between now and the year 2100.

“The point is, we need to plan for that ice as if it weren’t on the ice sheet in the near future, within a century or so,” William Colgan, a study co-author who studies the ice sheet from its surfacewith his colleaguesat the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, said in a video interview.

This is the link to the above Twitter and is from Southerly Magazine.  Minorities and the poor are the ones suffering the most from the impact of climate change. “ ‘They want us gone’: Black Louisianans fight to rebuild a year after Ida. Residents of Ironton and West Point a la Hache are still pushing federal and state agencies to help them make their communities safer before the next storm.”

A year after  Hurricane Ida brought eight to 15 feet of floodwater to Plaquemines Parish—a coastal parish in Southeast Louisiana—historic Black communities Ironton and West Point a la Hache are still fighting for a just recovery. Slow-moving action from federal agencies like HUD and FEMA, a massive shortage in affordable housing, and inadequate flood protection have left residents facing a difficult decision: leave behind neighbors, traditional lifeways, and ancestral lands to migrate in search of housing, or fight to rebuild, elevate homes and make the coast more resilient to intense storms.

I’ve been working as an organizer in Plaquemines Parish since 2020, starting with a successful campaign to stop an oil terminal from excavating a cemetery where enslaved people were laid to rest. I continue to support residents in their efforts to rebuild after Ida and advocate for stronger flood protection. Recently, I spoke with several residents to hear about their experience with recovery from the storm. A year since Ida’s landfall, nearly all of my friends in Plaquemines Parish have yet to return home.

Many residents are still living in temporary housing. FEMA has long been criticized for its inability to address emergency housing needs in a timely manner. In Southwest Louisiana, some families whose homes were destroyed in Hurricane Laura waited 10 months for FEMA to issue temporary trailers. After the 2021 hurricane season, Louisiana set up a new emergency housing program called the Ida Sheltering Program to issue travel trailers more quickly, and the state has housed nearly 12,000 residents through this program. But it’s unclear what other housing options are available to them. Louisiana faced a severe shortage of affordable housing before the hurricane.

Ironton residents have hung signs throughout their community to let Plaquemines Parish know they intend to come back and rebuild.

The Biden Administration and Democratic Congress have made meager but credible steps toward alleviating Climate Change devastation.  But will it be enough for Democrats to hold on and improve their position in Congress to continue the fight?

In Nevada, the intense heat brings drought and different problems due to climate change.  This is from The Washington Post. “In fast-warming Nevada, climate bill may not lift Democrats. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) has campaigned on the biggest climate bill in U.S. history. But her pitch may not resonate with voters who are more worried about the rising cost of living.”  Is it really the short-term economic woes that will draw voters?

About a week after President Biden signed into law the largest climate bill in U.S. history, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) laid out to voters here how she helped get $4 billion in the bill to combat the acute drought now punishing the American West. Outside the air-conditioned offices of the Las Vegas Valley Water District where she spoke, the temperature stood at 93 degrees — on its way to an oppressive 106 later that day.

“As you all know, the western U.S. continues to face a historic drought, and we need to do all we can to combat it,” Cortez Masto said Monday, standing before a photo showing the nation’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, at record lows. “That’s why I have been championing measures to help Southern Nevada further conserve, recycle and reduce water use.”

Cortez Masto — one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators up for reelection this year — has spent recent weeks courting Nevada voters who want leaders in Washington to prioritize the climate crisis. Yet climate change has rarely decided the outcome in congressional races, even in Las Vegas, the nation’s second-fastest warming city in a region experiencing the most extreme drought in 1,200 years.

Voters across the country have consistently ranked the economy and health care as a higher priority than global warming. And if Democrats cannot successfully sell their environmental agenda in Nevada, which has seen a cascade of climate disasters this summer, it’s unclear whether climate concerns will ever become paramount in key national races.

Warning of doom: ‘Hunger stones’ surface in drought-stricken waters

Any part of the country served by the waters of the Colorado River is bound to be uninhabitable sooner than later. The Deserts and Coasts of our country are rapidly becoming places where life cannot be sustained.

The generous monsoon season along the Upper Basin of the Colorado River has been a relief to those who remember recent summers suffocated by wildfire smoke in the American West. But according to Brad Udall, senior water and climate research scientist at the Colorado Water Institute and director of the Western Water Assessment at Colorado State University, the relief we’re feeling now is a sign of bigger problems for years to come.

“Next year’s runoff will be really interesting to see what happens, it will be a test of this theory of depleted soil moisture,” Udall told a packed room at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Education Center on Aug. 19. The theory he referenced examines how the recent precipitation affects the trending drought conditions, drying reservoirs and the lowering state of the Colorado River, which is the primary source of water for over 40 million people spread across seven Western states, over thirty Native American tribes and into Mexico.

Udall’s relationship with the Colorado River goes deeper than just the focus of his studies. He grew up along its banks and worked as a river guide in his earlier years. He also comes from a long lineage of family members who have been influential in the river’s management for more than a century. His father, former congressman Mo Udall, fought to channel river water to Arizona. His uncle, Stewart Udall, was the former Secretary of the Interior who opened the Glen Canyon Dam. And his great great grandfather, John D. Lee, established Lees Ferry in Arizona. “Udalls are, in fact, Lees,” he told the crowd.

With a litany of charts, peer-reviewed studies and side-by-side chronological photographs of depleting reservoirs, Udall’s presentation, titled, “Colorado River Crisis: A Collision of 19th Century Water Law, 20tth Century Infrastructure and a 21st Century Population Growth and Climate Change,” broke down the intricacies of the compact that draws the water rights between these states, while establishing the environmental agitators that have formed, and grown, since the compact was agreed upon in 1922.

Merriam-Webster defines “drought” as “a period of dryness especially when prolonged.” According to Udall, we are beyond treating the Colorado River crisis as something that will soon pass, or ever will.

People walk near a bank of the Loire River as historical drought hits France, in Loireauxence, France, August 16, 2022. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

From Daily Sabah“Warning of doom: ‘Hunger stones’ surface in drought-stricken waters.”

Carvings in boulders that were used to record historic droughts are resurfacing in waterways across drought-stricken Europe.

Ancient ominous warnings carved on usually submerged boulders along the Elbe River had for centuries driven fear into the hearts of Czechs, but their reappearance during this year’s drought is just a reminder of how tough people had it.

The stones can only be seen above the water surface during droughts and are used to presage bad harvests, interrupted river navigation and consequent famine. Now, the messages appear weeks after weather and crop forecasts.

Such a stone on the banks of the Elbe River, which starts in the Czech Republic, and ends in Germany dates back to 1616. The boulder was inscribed with “Wenn du mich seest, dann weine” – “If you see me, then weep,” according to a Google translation.

A view shows a branch of the Loire River as an historical drought hits France, in Loireauxence, France, August 16, 2022. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

From Reuters: “France’s river Loire sets new lows as drought dries up its tributaries.” 

France’s river Loire, famous for the hundreds of castles gracing its shores, is a shallow river at the best of times, but this year even its flat-bottom tourist barges can barely navigate waters greatly reduced by a record drought.

Even some 100 kilometers from where the Loire empties into the Atlantic Ocean, sand banks now stretch as far as the eye can see, large islands connect to the shore and in places people can practically walk from one side of the river to the other.

This is not normal.  The nations in Africa address Climate Change today in a conference in Gabon.

One last thing from Louisiana!

Okay, maybe two! What’s on your reading and blogging list today? It’s okay to put other topics up. Our threads are always open!


Sunday Reads: Happy Motherhood is a Pre-existing Condition Day!

Happy Mother’s Day….

Or as one person in the Twitterverse puts it:

 

(If you aren’t following @OhNoSheTwitnt you should…)

 

 

It is a strange Mother’s Day for me, I am not sure how to approach the day. My mom’s results from her latest CT scan were not good. The chemo treatment has not been working, there is new tumor and it looks like she has run out of options. So today, on this Mother’s Day, I am faced with the reality that eventually I will be spending a Mother’s Day without my Mama. I don’t want that. And this sense of eminent loss is so overwhelming, that my days are becoming a cycle of playbacks. When she is up, I want to watch a movie with her…whatever she wants to watch. I want to spend that time laughing at funny scenes, or enjoying a film that we both appreciate. It is the same thing daily, and believe me…we have seen some of these films many times, but I want to capture those feelings once more. I don’t want to lose them. That is what it comes down to this Mother’s Day. Grasping those hours so that I can recycle them later…it is all I can do.

So, with all that being said, the disasters of the day seem to pass by me…until I watch Maddow, then I am back into my mood where I am unable to focus on anything. Here are some news stories for you this morning, my commentary on them will be minimal at best. Basically, the shit has gone beyond my comprehension of what kind of corruption and scandal it takes to bring a politician down. tRump could kill someone on Fifth Avenue, and get away with it…and still remain in the White House as President. I don’t think anything is going to happen, it is over. We are all fucked.

Now for the news:

 

Take a look at this thread on twitter:

 

 

 

Now, check this out:

Trump Compared to Cyrus the Great – Talking Points Memo

Fox Host Jeanine Pirro says Donald Trump fulfilled biblical prophecy by moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Full video at the link.

Here is the quote:

Trump fulfilling ‘Biblical prophecy’ by moving embassy to Jerusalem says Judge Jeanine Pirro in bonkers rant

The move, she said, “Sent a huge signal to Iran, and Shiite Muslims, that we stood with the more moderate Sunnis.” (ISIS and Al Qaida are both Sunni; there has never been a major terrorist attack on the United States led by a Shiite group.)

“Trump has assured the world that his word is worth more than any former U.S. president,” she said. “His word is more than any treaty, and stronger than any UN resolution.”

And then she got Biblical.

“Jerusalem is the one and only capital of Israel,” she said. “By Trump putting his impermada on what has been history for the last 3,000 years—and that’s it has been the people’s capital of one people’s country or one kingdom. That people is the Jews and that country is Israel.”

She said that Israel is the foundation of our Judeo-Christian nation.

“Donald Trump recognized history, he like King Cyrus before him, fulfilled the Biblical prophecy of the God worshipped by Jews, Christians and, yes, Muslims, that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state and that the Jewish people finally deserve a righteous, free and sovereign Israel.”

With Fox peddling these “coins” that have the tRump is King Cyrus symbolism propoganda…it adds to the rest of the big picture.

 

Former Trump campaign aide is helping Russian firm shed sanctions – CNNPolitics

A former senior campaign and transition aide to President Donald Trump recently inked a deal to help a Russian oligarch’s conglomerate shed sanctions the Trump administration slapped on them last month.

Bryan Lanza, who is in regular contact with White House officials, is lobbying on behalf of the chairman of EN+ Group, an energy and aluminum firm presently controlled by Oleg Deripaska, according to several sources. Deripaska is a billionaire who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and was the target of US sanctions imposed last month. Lanza is also a CNN contributor.
Lanza is representing the chairman of EN+ Group, but not Deripaska directly. The company is seeking to reduce Deripaska’s ownership in the company enough to be freed from US sanctions. Deripaska is expected to maintain a substantial stake in the company.

You can read about more tRump lobby connections at the link. Names like Corey Lewandowski, Brian Ballard, Jason Miller have all opened up their own DC firms. All the while, keep in mind:

 

 

 

But…it is all just a normal day in Washington:

Oh, this also happened on the quiet:

Perry Halts Nuclear Arms-Into-Fuel Project

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has formally ended construction of a facility meant to reprocess weapons-grade plutonium and uranium into fuel for reactors, a key element of the nation’s commitment to containing the global nuclear threat.

Perry executed a waiver Thursday to terminate construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

A day earlier, Perry called it a “historically questionable” expenditure in testimony before Congress about the Trump administration’s 2019 budget proposal, which includes $220 million toward closing the project, and $59 million toward replacing it with a so-called “dilute and dispose” approach to surplus nuclear material.

Yeah, King Cyprus…I mean tRump is gonna need all those nukes to “dilute and dispose” of over there in Iran…right?

Iran nuclear deal: Iranians worry about impact of US sanctions | Iran News | Al Jazeera

Iran’s parliament is expected to debate emergency legislation, after US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull America out of the nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister is in China as part of a whirlwind diplomatic tour, to rescue the agreement.

Inside Iran, people are bracing themselves for the possibility of more hardship from sanctions.

Video report at the link.

 

Just one more thought on hardship…and motherhood…

 

John Kelly’s ‘Family Separation’ Recalls Slave Era Practice of Selling Parents Down the River – Truthdig

John Kelly, White House chief of staff, is an immigrant-hating bigot, as demonstrated by a long series of Draconian statements and measures that would have embarrassed most normal people into a lifetime vow of silence in their wake.

Kelly bizarrely defended Confederate slave drivers of the 1860s as having lived at a time before the evils of slavery were apparent to moral people. Haiti abolished slavery in 1804, Mexico in 1824 and Tunisia in 1846. But Kelly’s assertion becomes a little more understandable in view of his NPR interview on May 11.

On undocumented immigration, Kelly’s interview went like this:

Kelly: “But a big name of the game is deterrence.

NPR: “Family separation stands as a pretty tough deterrent.”

Kelly: “It could be a tough deterrent — would be a tough deterrent. A much faster turnaround on asylum seekers.

NPR: “Even though people say that’s cruel and heartless to take a mother away from her children?”

Kelly: “I wouldn’t put it quite that way. The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.

Kelly’s doctrine of “deterrence” of undocumented immigration into the US through family separation is undergirded by a special kind of sadism and ignorance combined. First of all, villagers in Honduras are not going to know about Kelly’s policy. Second, they are so desperate that many will take the risk anyway. Third, it is wrong to pounce and take US citizen children away from their mothers and fathers all of a sudden, giving them no time to make alternate arrangements. As for foster homes, with all due respect to the dedicated people who often run them, social science has proven that they are the biggest producer of a criminal class in the US. Children growing up without strong parental role models have a much greater chance of ending up in prison. Yes, that’s right. Social science says that if you want a safe society, don’t deport the parents of US citizen children.

Under Trump, ICE (which was only created recently and should be decommissioned) has been routinely doing things like traumatizing families by arresting undocumented parents when they come to pick up their children at school, in front of the eyes of the children, and leaving the latter unattended. The agents are not wrong to enforce the law, but this sort of tactic is clearly the result of instructions from Kelly and his successor, and is deliberate psychological warfare on American citizens.

Kelly’s self-satisfaction with getting rid of unwanted adults and putting their children, our fellow US citizens, in “foster care or whatever” (!!!) can only be compared to one phenomenon in American history.

Back in the days of slavery, white slave owners in the mid-Atlantic states like Kentucky used to separate fathers and sometimes mothers from their children and “sell them down the river” to the big plantation owners of the deep south.

Brown and black slaves were, like undocumented immigrants, not citizens and so they were not conceived by white elites as fully human persons. Hence, their families could be divided at will and parents could be sent far away, never to see their children again. They were treated like thoroughbred animals.

Kelly went on to slam these immigrants for not knowing English and for being unassimilable and having no skills. In fact, as conservative godfather Milton Friedman argued, they wouldn’t come here if they weren’t finding jobs that locals would not or could not fill. As for language and assimilation, Kelly’s own Italian-American side of the family came without English and remained here without citizenship for decades.

Cole then proceeds to quote the tweets showing Kelly’s own family background, which proves John Kelly’s own family members is one of those “illiterate” immigrants “and could not speak English 10 years after arrival.”  Yeah, these people…wtf is it with them?

And while all that is sinking in…this tweet should really be the icing on the Mother’s Day cake:

I don’t want to end on a bad note…

So, I have pictures.

First some fun ones:

DragCon is happening this weekend:

Those kick ass heels…a bit of marginalia to ring in the occasion? Quinn Cummings has been posting some awesome pictures on her Instagram feed:

View this post on Instagram

@bufffaye #dragcon2018

A post shared by Quinn Cummings (@quinncummings) on

So please click the link up top and enjoy!

Sticking with the Medieval times a bit:

Elvis…he was a style icon…before he became a style icon!

 

Smooth huh?

 

And lastly, I wanted to share a few pictures from my daughter’s wedding, they are in a slideshow below.

 

Have a good day, Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

This is an open thread.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Tuesday Reads: Future of what?

 

Good Afternoon

Boston Boomer is under the weather today, so I’m bringing you the round up for the day.

First up I have to start this thread with a little tongue in cheek;

Okay, now let’s get serious.

Why do I get the feeling the passengers that were “randomly” chosen for United to “reaccommodate” perhaps had a little more than a random pick behind it?

Controversy over United passenger’s ‘troubled past’ – Business Insider

People are rallying around the passenger who was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight on Sunday, in response to what many see as attempts to vilify a victim.

On Tuesday, the Louisville Courier-Journal published an article reporting that the passenger, David Dao, “has a troubled history in Kentucky.” The article cites past drug-related felonies in the early 2000s, noting that the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure allowed Dao to resume practicing medicine in 2015.

Soon after the article published, many people took to social media to criticize the Courier-Journal for seemingly attempting to justify an incident in which Dao was dragged from United Express Flight 3411 by law enforcement officers. Dao suffered injuries to his face, and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

None of this man’s past has anything to do with the atrocious treatment he received…but I would not put it past the company to have orchestrated the chosen 4 for just this possible situation. I bet that is part of the protocol. Pick people that can be exploited negatively in the press if you need to…

Louisville’s Courier-Journal Gets Smacked Around For Piece About United Victim’s Past | Mediaite

More tweets of anger at CJ and support of David Dao at that link.

Onward to the shooting and murder of two people at a California primary school.

 

The next series of links will deal with Trump and Syria and Russia…Trump and North Korea…China.

I mentioned in a comment last week that my dad is part of this survival group, and that there was a rumor going on about the strike force heading to the Korean Peninsula…well, last night he told me the new rumor is that China is dealing with a huge number of refugees from North Korea flooding into the country because of the fear that tRump is going to blow Kim Jong Un off the planet.

I don’t know, the shit is hitting the fan.

 

I had to do it…

But here are some news links about all that shit.

Trump threatens via Twitter to ‘solve the problem’ in North Korea | MSNBC

North Korea Threatens ‘Catastrophic Consequences’ Over Approach From U.S. Navy Ships | Mediaite

Geez.

As for the Syria and Putin and Assad shit. (The word shit has become my go to expression for everything lately, you can take a look at some of these updates.

US plans to attack Syria and blame Assad, Vladimir Putin claims | The Independent

Somehow, Russia knew about Syria’s chemical weapon bombing before it happened – Salon.com

It is all so disturbing.

Did Trump Attack Syria For Personal Profit? | Crooks and Liars

At any other time, the questions raised by (fill in the blank) would be the scandal of the decade. Now, with Donald Trump as president, we call it Monday.

Thursday evening, Trump attacked Syria, a sovereign country, with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. This act of war was done without Congressional authorization, even after Trump’s August, 2013, tweet that “Obama needs Congressional approval” before attacking Syria in nearly-identical circumstances.

The following morning, headlines like this one appeared in the business press: Raytheon, maker of Tomahawk missiles, leads premarket rally in defense stocks:

Defense and energy stocks dominated the list of premarket gainers on the S&P 500 Friday, led by Tomahawk missile-maker Raytheon Corp., after U.S. missile strikes against a Syrian air base overnight.

Donald Trump apparently owns Raytheon stock. In May, 2016, Trump reported to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) that he owned Raytheon stock. Interestingly, this FEC report does not appear to include the extensive web of offshore anonymous shell corporations Trump uses to mask assets.

Since that filing Trump’s assets have not been sold with the proceeds placed into a “blind trust,” and there is no public record of his having otherwise sold the stock. Not only that, but Trump is able to draw cash from his “trust” at any time. He could literally have pocketed cash from his gains from attacking Syria.

Read the rest at the link.

But tRump is not only profiting on the attack in Syria. He is making money on his time off, away from, the White House:

 

Again, I can’t believe that nothing has been done to move forward with impeachment.

 

Just a few other links to make you cringe:

 

Trump and Ryan are planning to gut Social Security | Suburban Guerrilla. Susie Madrak

 

Federal Judge Rules That Texas Intentionally Discriminated Against Minority Voters | Mother Jones

The Sessions’ Justice Department had tried to stop the ruling.

Read This: The Handmaid’s Tale author on how Trump is too unbelievable for fiction · Great Job, Internet! · The A.V. Club

Margaret Atwood—author of The Handmaid’s Tale and dozens of other novels, short-story collections, children’s books, works of poetry and criticism, and the new comic-book series Angel Catbird—is the subject of a lengthy and insightful profile in The New Yorker. She speaks briefly on Donald Trump’s presidency, telling New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead, “If the election of Donald Trump were fiction… it would be too implausible to satisfy readers.” It’s an insightful viewpoint from the writer of speculative fiction (her preferred term over “science fiction”), who’s penned arguably the most influential speculation through the lens of patriarchy. Atwood goes on to say:

Fiction has to be something that people would actually believe. If you had published it last June, everybody would have said, “That is never going to happen.”

No shit. (See, I’m using that word “shit” for everything!)

This study looks like an interesting read….

No democracy without women’s rights | EurekAlert! Science News

Why did the Arab spring fail? Despite a number of revolutions in the Arab world, in the end only Tunisia emerged as a functioning democracy. Results from an interdisciplinary research project at the University of Gothenburg indicate that the problem might be traced partially to the lack of women’s civil rights in the region.

A new study published in the European Journal of Political Research discusses the importance of women’s rights for countries to become democratic. The researchers used a dataset developed by V-Dem, a research institution cohosted by the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) and the University of Notre Dame (USA). The dataset includes the state of democracy in 177 countries over the years 1900 to 2012.

The study demonstrates that countries do not become fully democratic without political and social rights for women. This is particularly true for the Arab Spring countries, where the failure to foster women’s rights compromised any attempt at democratic governance in the area.

According to Professor Staffan Lindberg, director of the V-Dem Institute, the result is important because it shows that democratic development is not gender blind: societies transitioning from authoritarian regimes strongly need women in order to develop functioning democratic governments.

This next link is for Dak, another grave for you.

 

The desert bloom from space….is something to see.

 

And I will end it on that note.

This is an open thread. I hope BB starts to feel better, and that y’all have a good afternoon.

 

 


Monday Reads: America Held Hostage Day 53

Good Morning!

Well, things are not looking up at all. We continue to have Pressers based on questions from Right Wing Conspiratorial Web sites.  Our allies continue to question our rationality and priorities as a nation. Millions of people face the very real possibility they may not have their healthcare, retirement funds, or any kind of service or help from their government in the near future.

One of the things that I’ve been very worried about is the continual disconnect between the performance of the equities market and what’s going on in the bond markets.  This is usual a symptom of what we call “animal spirits” and often a sign that a crash is imminent on Wall Street.

Bond investors and those concentrated in Equities have very different priorities. Bonds are usually safe and liquid assets while Equities are risky. Their prices can be volatile.  Here’s something I read about a week ago as a lead up to something I read this morning.

Are stocks and U.S. Treasurys sending mixed signals? Treasury prices have rebounded since Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in January, pushing down yields, as stocks continue to ascend record heights. That’s in contrast with the bond market rout that followed the November election.

Why is a simultaneous rally a problem? Some investors see it as a sign that investors are losing faith in the so-called Trump trade, in which investors bet on aggressive fiscal stimulus and other growth-friendly measures from the new administration.

Much of the boom in equities has been due to speculation that deregulation and expansive fiscal policy favorable to private businesses may fuel business profits.  None of this has come to fruition yet so it’s basically speculative.  The economy is healthy and growing strong at the moment but is it enough to support the increased levels seen in the stock markets?  Is it real and sustainable?

Historical patterns suggest that it’s not and we may be looking at a future crash which would not bode well for any one who is or soon to be reliant on 401ks.  This is when I’m happy about my small but very stable pension coming in monthly. I’ve lived through way too many bubbles now and seen my 401k bounce around like a jumping bean.  My Uncle was one of the pioneer gnomes of the chartist movement after Black Friday.  I loved to see his huge charts that frequently blanketed the tables of his Kansas City mansion.  It could be why I ended up doing something similar.

It’s already been a big year for the Dow industrials, which have stretched a near-decade-long bull market to historic heights.

But if the technical stars collide, as one chartist predicts, the blue-chip gauge could soon plunge by more than 6,000 points to 14,800. That’s nearly 30% lower, based on Friday’s close.

Sandy Jadeja, chief market strategist at Master Trading Strategies, claims several predicted stock market crashes to his name — all of them called days, or even weeks, in advance. (He told CNBC viewers, for example, that the August 2015 “Flash Crash” was coming 18 days before it hit.) He’s also made prescient calls on gold and crude oil.

And he’s extremely concerned about what this year could bring for investors. “The timeline is rapidly approaching” for the next potential Dow meltdown, said Jadeja, who shares his techniques via workshops and seminars. Timelines are at the heart of his predictions, which he bases on repeating cycles in the market that are connected to specific times.

“People need to look for three things,” Jadeja told MarketWatch in a late-January interview and follow-up conversations. “Price, pattern, and … time. You can get the price pattern wrong, but if you get in at the right time, the other two don’t matter.”

He sees 2017 as littered with pitfalls for the Dow DJIA, -0.18%  . Below is his so-called “timelines” chart of the stock index, defined by green horizontal lines. He’s currently on the lookout for the benchmark to approach that upper green line, which represents a range of 21,800 to 22,000.

For me, it starts with a small alarm in my gut that says what are these people smoking?  Where are they seeing all this good news?  The Trumpcare fiasco alone should be sending signals that say things are not looking up.  Removing the ACA and replacing it with any thing close to what the Republicans are offering is going to severely disturb the healthcare markets as well as the labor markets.   Purchases by Households are still the primary driver of any US economy. They represent nearly 70% of all spending.

It was never a secret that Republicans would take a risk by repealing Obamacare, as unpopular as it was, and taking ownership of what happens next. But it’s striking just how many political dangers they’re putting themselves in — and how they’re ignoring pretty much all of them. Democratic operatives are already testing which ones resonate the most in swing districts, I’m told.

 Here are the one to watch:
Coverage losses. They’ve already dismissed the idea that they should worry about it, because they won’t be requiring people to buy coverage anymore. “There’s no way we can compete” with a government mandate, House Speaker Paul Ryan said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” yesterday. But if the Congressional Budget Office estimates that people will lose coverage, that’s going to be the headline for days, because …
“We’re going to have insurance for everybody.” That’s what President Trump told the Washington Post in January. He’s since fallen in line with the mainstream Republican position that they should guarantee access, not coverage. But that quote is not going to disappear.
Pre-existing conditions. Republicans insist they’re going to keep covering them, but Democrats are going to keep stoking fears that they’ll either lose coverage or have to pay more — especially with the 30 percent penalty for people who don’t keep themselves insured.
The “age tax.” AARP is going to be hammering them for allowing insurers to charge older customers five times as much as young adults, compared to three times as much under Obamacare. Republicans can try to dismiss AARP, but they do have a lot of power.
“Nobody will be worse off financially.” That’s what Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday. His point was that people will be able to buy cheaper health plans if they have more choices than the standard Obamacare ones — but it won’t be hard for Democrats to find people who are worse off.
Medicaid. Ryan insists that the switch to per-person funding limits would be a major entitlement reform that conservatives have wanted for decades — but the reality is that millions of people have gained coverage through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which is why Republicans are divided over when it should end.
The “giveaways to millionaires.” Democrats are already hitting the decision to get rid of a tax deductibility limitin the law — giving a tax break to insurance executives making more than $500,000 a year. That could be a hard one to explain to populist Trump supporters.
Deductibles. The sky-high deductibles under many Obamacare plans has been a standard GOP criticism of the law — but wait until people find out that the health savings accounts they’re promoting are tied to health plans that have the same thing.

Trump has made it clear that his budget will eliminate a significant part of the Federal workforce.  This is a really really recessionary move.  The states of Kansas and Louisiana have done this and its created significant economic distress in both places. Plus, it’s created a distinct lack of service and action in crucial public services.  For example, the state of Louisiana cannot train as many doctors and provide as many residents to hospitals.  That’s not good at all.

President Trump’s budget proposal this week would shake the federal government to its core if enacted, culling back numerous programs and expediting a historic contraction of the federal workforce.

This would be the first time the government has executed cuts of this magnitude — and all at once — since the drawdown following World War II, economists and budget analysts said.

The spending budget Trump is set to release Thursday will offer the clearest snapshot of his vision for the size and role of government. Aides say that the president sees a new Washington emerging from the budget process, one that prioritizes the military and homeland security while slashing many other areas, including housing, foreign assistance, environmental programs, public broadcasting and research. Simply put, government would be smaller and less involved in regulating life in America, with private companies and states playing a much bigger role.

Meanwhile, the Trump Family Syndicate continues to score.  The Trump Economy appears to be wonderful for the Trumps. The Kushners are getting a windfall from the Chinese that is a deal that’s more than just a little suspicious.

A company owned by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, stands to receive more than $400 million from a prominent Chinese company that is investing in the Kushners’ marquee Manhattan office tower at 666 Fifth Ave.

The planned $4-billion transaction includes terms that some real estate experts consider unusually favorable for the Kushners. It provides them with both a sizable cash payout from Anbang Insurance Group for a property that has struggled financially and an equity stake in a new partnership.

The details of the agreement, which is being circulated to attract additional investors, were shared with Bloomberg. It would make business partners of Kushner Cos. and Anbang, whose murky links to the Chinese power structure have raised national security concerns over its U.S. investments. In the process, an existing mortgage owed by the Kushners will be slashed to about a fifth of its current amount.

The document offers a rare look at a major deal by a close Trump associate and family member. It’s unclear whether the deal could prompt federal review, as occurred when Anbang bought other properties, like the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. Anbang could also face review by the Chinese government, which has been clamping down on overseas investments and which has a range of pending issues with the Trump administration.

Check out how the controversial EB-5 VISA program works its way into the numbers.  I’m still appalled at the idea that Camp David sits idle while Kremlin Caligula profits from using his private resort as a cash cow dressed up as a mini-White House.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, exposed Donald Trump’s claims about his so-called “Winter White House” today, pointing out that Mar-a-Lago is not a winter white house but a private for-profit business, with all the ethical and security problems that entails …

As Schiff says, Mar-a-Lago is “one ethical quagmire” out of many in the Trump empire. He is right when he points out that Trump is a “walking, talking violation of the Emoluments Clause” and has been since Day 1 of his administration.

There is no question that Trump’s business interests will not always align with American interests or with National Security needs (and forget for a moment the security risk his holding court in public places poses).

Donald Trump has shown Americans and the world that he cannot be trusted to place what’s best for America above his own interests. This is a basic problem of corporations, which see not the public good but their bottom line as what matters.

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey has just asked the ethics office to look into T-Rump’s foreign business deals for conflicts of interest.

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey asked a government ethics office Monday to assess whether President Donald Trump’s business dealings make his administration vulnerable to conflicts of interest.

“President Trump has exposed his administration to possible conflicts of interest on an unprecedented scale,” the Pennsylvania lawmaker says in a letter to the Office of Government Ethics.

 Casey asked whether any of Trump’s foreign business deals could violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits U.S. officeholders from accepting gifts from foreign countries.The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Walter Shaub, the director of the ethics office, strongly criticized Trump earlier this year for not divesting from his businesses. Shaub said Trump was breaking decades of tradition by presidents who set up blind trusts for their assets.

There’s currently a call to investigate the possibilities that that the Trump Family Thug Syndicate has been laundering Russian Thug money through Deustche Bank.  Calls have been made by Democrats to the DOJ to investigate the Bank itself.  Congresswoman Maxine Waters is leading the charge on this.

Senior Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling for a congressional investigation into the justice department’s handling of an ongoing inquiry into Deutsche Bank, saying that Donald Trump had conflicts of interest with the German bank, his biggest creditor.
Maxine Waters, the top Democrat on the House financial services committee, urged her Republican colleagues to launch their own investigation into the nature of Deutsche Bank’s money-laundering scheme, who participated in the arrangement and whether it involved any other violations of US law beyond the failure to maintain anti-money laundering controls.
Deutsche Bank has already been ordered to pay more than $800m (£660m) in fines in the US and UK for failing to stop the improper and corrupt transfer of more than $10bn out of Russia. It is also being investigated by the justice department (DoJ).
The Guardian reported last month that the German bank undertook a close examination of the president’s personal bank account and those held by his family, in order to ascertain whether they had any suspicious links to Russia. None were found.
According to an analysis by Bloomberg, Trump now owes Deutsche about $300m. He has four large mortgages, all issued by Deutsche’s private bank.
Waters said in a letter to Jeb Hensarling, the chairman of the House financial services committee, that she was concerned “about the integrity of this criminal probe” given Trump’s “conflicts of interest” and the “suspicious ties” between Trump’s inner circle and the Russian government.

The Atlantic has printed a ‘crib sheet’ of all the Trump conflicts of interest.  The list is huge. The demand for forensic accountants is also going to be huge.

When it comes to President Donald Trump’s constellation of foreign investments, properties, and companies, much of the attention so far has been on his business’s apparent violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which bars officeholders from taking gifts from foreign leaders. According to numerous ethics experts, the clause takes an expansive definition of gifts, encompassing everything from a direct bribe to a foreign official’s approval of construction of a new Trump property. But some of the Trump Organization’s properties raise additional red flags due to the specific partners involved. That’s true in Indonesia, for example, where Trump’s affiliates have been involved in bribery scandals and radical Islamic nationalist parties, and Brazil, where the company pulled out of a branding agreement amid a criminal investigation of a local business partner.

Such is the case in Azerbaijan, which Transparency International ranks as among the most corrupt countries in the world, where the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Baku remains unopened. Though the long-stalled development has generated a steady drip of news and rumors for years, an overview by Adam Davidson in The New Yorker, entitled “Donald Trump’s Worst Deal,” puts into perspective just how convoluted the situation is, and just how much the project has led Trump and his company into a partnership with numerous corrupt officials in the Middle East. The details suggest that, on top of the continual underlying breach of the Emoluments Clause, the Trump Organization’s involvement may also violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, which forbids American companies from participating, even unknowingly, in bribery schemes in other countries, with a penalty of up to $2 million and up to five years in jail.

When all of this finally begins to unravel in a manner befitting of such a serious level of scandal, it can’t help but take our economy with it.  How much damage can Trump, Ryan et al inflict on us and at what point will ‘enough’ actually be ‘ENOUGH!!!!’?  Take these examples.

The price of drinks at his new hotel in Washington DC has reportedly increased significantly since it opened last September. His sons, Donald Jr and Eric Trump, have opened new hotels in Dubai and Vancouver since their father’s Inauguration, and told The New York Times that the Trump brand is “the hottest it’s ever been”. The initiation fee to join the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, named the “Winter White House”, where the President has spent several weekends, has recently soared.

The President’s motivation for choosing the six countries to include in his newly-reworded travel ban – Iran, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Somalia – will more likely be featured in lawsuits which challenge the constitutionality of the executive order than in the lawsuit from Mr Eisen and Mr Painter.

Asked how much the travel ban was motivated by racism and business interests, Mr Eisen replied: “I believe the predominant motivations for the ban are illegitimate, but I’m unable to isolate the different strains of the unsavoury virus that produced this legal inflammation.”

The original travel ban, signed in late January, was struck down by a federal judge in Washington state for being unconstitutional. Mr Trump’s emergency appeal was denied. The ban was re-written, taking Iraq off the list and scrapping the indefinite suspension of Syrian refugees. Green card and visa holders were no longer affected.

Several states have already indicated they will sue, joining Washington state’s original effort.

Mr Painter told Business Insider that the six countries still on the list are “quite poor and have no dealings with the Trump Organisation”.

It kills me to read all of this knowing that the idiots that put this crime syndicate into government don’t appear to care or have a clue about any of this.  When will the Republicans actually do their job and drop their ideological goose march long enough to save our country?
And what’s on your reading and blogging list today?