Wednesday Reads: Never Gonna Give

The last 24 hours have been so disappointing. I’ve lost myself in classic and campy horror movies…but even that cannot remove the anxiety that weighs on me…especially when I see something like this:

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Posting for those who need it.

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That smacks hard. People have to prepare for a completely new life, just because of the bigotry and hatred of the fucking Republicans.

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Justice Amy is no feminist

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It’s TIME for change… ⏰

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🙃

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Pay attention, because this may be the US in a few months:

In other news:

Follow the events of last night here:

More at the thread.

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Mexico, perhaps.

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A cartoon by @lizatlarge. #NewYorkerCartoons

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Hope you have a pleasant day, well…as good of day that can be expected.

Here is a link to NHC website for the latest on #Zeta

https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

This is an open thread.


Sunday #JusticeForGeorge

Artwork by @benwildflower …click image for more information.

This is too much déjà vu…how many times have we seen the phrase “justice for…” used to represent the murder of a black man or woman or child?


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By @ashleyskywalker taken at #AFROPUNKAtlanta

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.#saytheirnames

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People are in pain. We must listen.

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The entire country has erupted in protests over the murder of George Floyd, another unarmed black man who was killed by the police in Minneapolis, MN. Even as hundreds of thousands of people are dying and suffering because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this has not stopped the police from murdering black people in the street. Despite the looming fear of contracting the virus, protesters gathered in the streets all around the city to demand justice for George Floyd and the countless others who have been murdered by police and to declare that black lives matter. These photos are from the rally that took place in Brooklyn, New York. Note: Activist NYC has always been a photo project documenting peaceful protesters and depicting people in a positive light. I started this project because I hate how the media always portrays protesters with violence to garner clicks and headlines. All these photos from today were captured with permission from the people. . . @peoplespowerassemblynyc @equality4flatbush #georgefloyd #justiceforgeorgefloyd #blacklivesmatter #whitesupremacy #fightwhitesupremacy #whitesupremacyisterrorism #BLM #stopwhitesupremacy #stopwhiteterrorism #fuckthepolice #FTP #policebrutality #stoppolicebrutality #stopkillingblackpeople #nojusticenopeace #silenceisviolence #jailkillercops #wewillnotbesilent #documentaryphotography #photojournalism #activistny #blacklivesmatter✊🏾 #policeaccountability #policeaccountabilitynow #endpolicebrutality #stoppoliceterror #stoppoliceviolence #icantbreathe #noracistpolice #justiceforfloyd

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Reposted from @seedingsovereignty Catch the fire, y’all. – #regrann

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The protest are growing…last night my daughter sent me this message as she was driving back from Florida:

I feel this:

And also this:


This is an open thread.


Friday Reads: It’s time to Fight for the Rule of Law

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I’m busy trying to finish up grades here and get break started so I’m going to put up a series of things that clearly demonstrate that we have a lawless administration that must be stopped.  Congress and the Courts must do their jobs more urgently than any time in our history.  I know BB did a great job of covering this yesterday but there is more information and some astounding reporting at WAPO on Trump’s plans to disrupt the hometowns of his political rivals using Asylum Seekers and other folks seeking to cross the US Border. He has also installed an eager crony at the helm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

There is continuing evidence that the Trump administration will clearly ignore law and the Constitution’s protections to ethnically cleanse our southern border. Trump massacred the professionals at the DHS to bring this disgrace of a human being to the top.

Most of the renditions today of Lady Liberty can be found at Web Urbanist: “Artistic Liberties: 15 Faces of the Statue of Lady Liberty”.

From Buzzfeed: “An ICE Official Who Said Detention Was “More Like Summer Camp” Will Now Lead The Agency. “It’s hard to imagine what’s tougher than what Nielsen and Vitiello were doing, but assuming there is such a thing, Matt is certainly up to the task,” said a former senior ICE official.”

Trump told reporters last week that he pulled acting director Ron Vitiello’s nomination to lead ICE because he wanted to go in a “tougher” direction. Vitiello informed ICE employees that he will leave the role and resign Friday.

“Beginning tomorrow I will be out of the office, during which time Acting Deputy Director Matt Albence will be leading the agency,” he wrote to ICE employees Thursday.

A former senior ICE official said of Albence: “He’s definitely enforcement minded and has long been working on making [deportation officers] more efficient and more effective at enforcing the immigration laws in the interior. It’s hard to imagine what’s tougher than what Nielsen and Vitiello were doing, but assuming there is such a thing, Matt is certainly up to the task.”

The former official said that Albence “will be very willing to follow through on implementation.”

The new acting leader first began his career at the former Immigration and Naturalization Service in the mid-’90s before moving to the Transportation Security Administration and then returning to ICE in a position overseeing operations and field training among other things. Albence has moved up the ranks at ICE since 2012, when he became a deputy assistant director.

The Trump administration pressured the Department of Homeland Security to release immigrants detained at the southern border into so-called sanctuary cities in part to retaliate against Democrats who oppose President Donald Trump’s plans for a border wall, a source familiar with the discussions told CNN on Thursday.

Trump personally pushed Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to follow through on the plan, the source said. Nielsen resisted and the DHS legal team eventually produced an analysis that killed the plan, which was first reported by The Washington Post.
The proposal is another example of Trump’s willingness to enact hardline immigration policies to deliver on border security, a key issue for his political base. Thursday’s reports come as the President has amplified his rhetoric on illegal immigration in recent weeks, even threatening to close the southern border if Congress and Mexico don’t take action.
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller urged senior DHS officials to make the plan a reality, the source said. The plan finally died after Miller and other White House officials pushed it in February, according to the source.
Miller was angered that DHS lawyers refused to produce legal guidance that would make the plan viable, saying the proposal would likely be illegal.
DHS officials believe that the legal standoff is one reason why Miller has pushed for the firing of John Mitnick, the general counsel for DHS, who is still with the department.
A separate DHS official confirmed there was such a proposal. “These are human beings, not game pieces,” the official said.

(Image via Wired)
In the wake of the attacks on September 11, a seventeen year old by the name of Eliza Gauger sketched this piece called “Mommy Liberty” and posted it on her live journal page.

Here’s that WAPO report from Rachel Bade and Nick Miroff: “White House proposed releasing immigrant detainees in sanctuary cities, targeting political foes”.  Read that again.  He’s using people and Federal resources to target political “foes”.

White House officials have tried to pressure U.S. immigration authorities to release detainees onto the streets of “sanctuary cities” to retaliate against President Trump’s political adversaries, according to Department of Homeland Security officials and email messages reviewed by The Washington Post.

Trump administration officials have proposed transporting detained immigrants to sanctuary cities at least twice in the past six months — once in November, as a migrant caravan approached the U.S. southern border, and again in February, amid a standoff with Democrats over funding for Trump’s border wall.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco was among those the White House wanted to target, according to DHS officials. The administration also considered releasing detainees in other Democratic strongholds.

(Image via Neatorama)
he actual illustration found on the U.S. patent that was filed by Frenchman Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, on January 2, 1870.

Besides using the DOJ to stall bringing his crime syndicate to justice, Trump has told Mnunchin to ignore the law that requires the IRS to turn Trump’s Taxes over to Congress.    This is from the Daily Beast and David Cay Johnston.

The reason will no doubt surprise those who think Trump can thumb his nose at the law governing congressional access to anyone’s tax returns, including his. It will for sure shock Trump, who claims that “the law is 100 percent on my side.”

The exact opposite is true.

Under Section 6103 of our tax code, Treasury officials “shall” turn over the tax returns “upon written request” of the chair of either congressional tax committee or the federal employee who runs Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation. No request has ever been refused, a host of former congressional tax aides tell me.

There is, however, a law requiring every federal “employee” who touches the tax system to do their duty or be removed from office.

The crystal-clear language of this law applies to Trump, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Mnuchin and Rettig, federal employees all.

(Image via Art for a Change)
Gee Vaucher is best known for the remarkable graphics she produced for British punk rock acts in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Her works have always been socially conscious depictions of upsetting political realities.

Nancy Cook at Politico writes this lede Trump bulldozes across the presidency’s red lines.In recent weeks, the president has labored to reshape a federal government he feels is frustrating his agenda.”As BB wrote yesterday, we clearly have a lawless president who has  cleared out the government of any professional that will follow the law and replaced them with loyal flying monkeys that will just do his bidding.

President Donald Trump has spent the last few weeks trying to bend to his will what are arguably three of the federal government’s least political institutions – the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Reserve and Department of Justice.

Frustrated by the organizations’ deliberate pace and the substance of their decision-making, Trump has tried to remake them in his own image. He’s purging staffers who disagreed with him, or whom he felt were insufficiently loyal at DHS, and he hopes to stock the Fed with vocal political allies who can do his bidding on monetary policy.

Trump cares little about how such moves will be perceived, former administration officials and Republicans close to the White House say. They argue he always prefers to push the boundaries of what is possible, legally and otherwise. And in year three of his presidency, he’s pushing harder than ever before.

On immigration, Trump has never grasped why the U.S. government could not simply hold undocumented immigrants indefinitely as they awaited immigration court proceedings, according to one person close to DHS. This so-called “catch and release” policy frustrated him, as if the government’s due process should not extend to everyone on U.S. soil. The president reportedly clashed with now-ousted DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen as he sought to bar all asylum seekers from entering the country, in violation of existing law.

Every president chafes at being stymied by Congress or the law, noted Timothy Naftali, a historian and former head of the Nixon Presidential Library. What makes Trump’s actions so unprecedented, he said, is the president’s reaction: Trump appears willing to steamroll through the constraints that American presidents have traditionally respected.

“Instead of learning to become presidential and accepting the structure of the American presidency, he is trying to reshape it,” Naftali said. “He has removed anyone, it appears, who stood up to him and said he cannot do this. This is a huge test of our institutions.”

I’m going to leave all of this here to return to grading but with the fear that the people remaining in the institutions may not have a fighting chance against all this chaos and blatant disrespect for rule of law. We can not afford complacency. This process has been put on overdrive and we must stop it. Congress has remedies. They should start using them.

 


Wednesday Reads: Designed in the USA

 

If anyone saw the Rep. Pramila Jayapal interview last night on Chris Hayes…you know the absolute terror and disgust that can make an actual pain in your chest.

If you have not seen this interview, stop what you are doing right now, and watch it.

Rep. Jayapal: Mothers didn’t even get to say bye to kids

It will be very difficult, and the word difficult is not used lightly…but work your way through it. Feel the bitter pain, that chokes up and taste foul in the back of your throat. For that is the essence of a hateful authoritarian dictatorship rule, and when Hannah Arendt spoke of the Banality of Evil….let me tell you, it starts here….

More from Rep. Jayapal:

 

The situation is only getting worse….

 

I don’t know what the fuck the United States is anymore, it sure as hell isn’t a democracy…it has moved on past the point of the “breakdown” period. I truly think we are now at the beginning of the Totalitarian Regime of Trump.

… Arendt notes that loneliness can become both the seedbed and the perilous consequence of the isolation effected by tyrannical regimes:

In isolation, man remains in contact with the world as the human artifice; only when the most elementary form of human creativity, which is the capacity to add something of one’s own to the common world, is destroyed, isolation becomes altogether unbearable… Isolation then becomes loneliness.

[…]

While isolation concerns only the political realm of life, loneliness concerns human life as a whole. Totalitarian government, like all tyrannies, certainly could not exist without destroying the public realm of life, that is, without destroying, by isolating men, their political capacities. But totalitarian domination as a form of government is new in that it is not content with this isolation and destroys private life as well. It bases itself on loneliness, on the experience of not belonging to the world at all, which is among the most radical and desperate experiences of man.

This is why our insistence on belonging, community, and human connection is one of the greatest acts of courage and resistance in the face of oppression…

 

And let’s not forget the fiasco with Canada and our other allies….the isolation that has been the cornerstone of tRump’s rule in office:

What perpetuates such tyrannical regimes, Arendt argues, is manipulation by isolation — something most effectively accomplished by the divisiveness of “us vs. them” narratives. She writes:

Terror can rule absolutely only over men who are isolated against each other… Therefore, one of the primary concerns of all tyrannical government is to bring this isolation about. Isolation may be the beginning of terror; it certainly is its most fertile ground; it always is its result. This isolation is, as it were, pretotalitarian; its hallmark is impotence insofar as power always comes from men acting together…; isolated men are powerless by definition.

 

tRump has aligned the US with ruthless dictators and powerful authoritarian governments…because that is what the US as become.

Some updates on the North Korea Summit:

North Korea state media says Trump agreed to lift sanctions against North | Reuters

North Korean state media said on Wednesday U.S. President Donald Trump had agreed to lift sanctions against the North in addition to providing security guarantees in the summit with the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un, the previous day.

North Korea state media reporting Trump agreed to lift sanctions | TheHill

Both leaders signed an agreement committing the United States to unspecified “security guarantees” in exchange for denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula.

Trump reportedly offered to lift sanctions on the cash-strapped country in addition to those security guarantees, according to Reuters.

North Korea’s KCNA news agency cites Trump making the pledge to lift the economic barriers after saying the U.S. would end joint military exercises with South Korea.

Following the summit, Trump had indicated that sanctions would remainuntil North Korea began the denuclearization process saying of easing sanctions, “I hope it’s going to be soon. At a certain point, I actually look forward to taking them off.”

Reuters did not receive immediate comment from U.S. officials.

The Hill has also reached out to the White House for comment.

Ugh…

In other news, Steve King retweeted a Nazi: GOP lawmaker retweets prominent British neo-Nazi | TheHill

There seems to be a new Fox News/ tRump family connection in the “house” ….STASI: Fox should fire reporter Kimberly Guilfoyle, who can’t possibly stay neutral while dating a Trump kid – NY Daily News

And, tRump is keen on building a tRump Tower in North Korea:

North Korea ‘Could Have The Best Hotels’ On Its Beaches, Trump Raves To Kim | HuffPost

“They have great beaches,” Trump said at a news conference following the talks between the two leaders. “You see that whenever they’re exploding the canons into the ocean. I said look at that view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo beyond that?”

“You could have the best hotels in the world right there. Think of it from a real estate perspective,” Trump continued. “You have South Korea, you have China, and they own the land in the middle. How bad is that? Right? It’s great.”

Despite Trump’s grandiose suggestions, the U.S. State Department recommends against travel to North Korea. Federal authorities advise travelers to draft a will and “funeral wishes” before going.

I think that part about drafting a will and making funeral wishes is a dramatically different message to what the tRump admin is pushing.

Going back to the #Wherearethechildren and #FamiliesBelongTogether issue…

After the Chris Hayes interview, Rep. Jayapal posted this on her Twitter account:

 

Now the funnies…starting with this shit…no it ain’t no joke. This is fucking real:

Why Donald Trump showed Kim Jong-un a movie trailer at the North Korea summit – Axios

 

President Trump’s wooing of Kim Jong-un at the Singapore summit included the iPad showing (in English and Korean) of a “Destiny Pictures” movie trailer, made by the White House’s National Security Council, starring themselves saving the world.

Show less
  • There are dunked basketballs, exploding bombs, flourishing labs and cities — all designed to show Kim what’s possible if he engages with the West, and to warn him darkly of the alternative.
  • From the voiceover: “Only the very few will make decisions or take actions that renew their homeland and change the course of history … Two men. Two leaders. One destiny. … A story about a special moment in time when a man is presented with one chance that may never be repeated. What will he choose?”
  • From Trump’s presser: “I showed it to him … toward the end of the meeting. And I think he loved it. … [W]e had it on a cassette … an iPad.  … [A]bout eight of their representatives were watching it, and I thought they were fascinated.”

Jonathan Swan’s sources help illuminate Trump’s thinking:

  • Trump thinks of his presidency in cinematic terms — with himself as star, producer, director, writer and critic. Now, backed by the resources of the United States government, he’s a studio, too.
  • The president is very aware of his celebrity and how people view him.
  • Kim is a young tyrant obsessed with pop culture.
  • So by literally casting the two of them in a movie, Trump’s was celebritizing the summit, and aiming at Kim’s sweet spot.

The White House is very proud of the video: Vice President Pence showed it at yesterday’s weekly Senate Republican luncheon.

  • Garrett Marquis, National Security Council spokesman: “The video was created by the NSC to help the President demonstrate the benefits of complete denuclearization, and a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula.”

And if you want to see the video…just go to the White House facebook page..yeah, can you believe this shit?

 

06/13/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

Exactly….yes to this one Nick Anderson!

 

06/13/2018 Cartoon by Nate Beeler

Cartoon by Nate Beeler -

06/12/2018 Cartoon by Nate Beeler

Cartoon by Nate Beeler -

06/12/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

Uh, that one from Signe is spot on.

 

Nick Anderson cartoon: 06/12/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson - Nick Anderson cartoon

The Handshake: 06/13/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - The Handshake

Neighbors to the North: 06/12/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Neighbors to the North

G-7 Summit: 06/10/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - G-7 Summit

06/13/2018 Cartoon by Steve Artley

Cartoon by Steve Artley -

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Trump and Kim Jong Un meet: 06/13/2018 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: Trump and Kim Jong Un meet

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 06/13/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

06/13/2018 Cartoon by MStreeter

Cartoon by MStreeter -

06/13/2018 Cartoon by Kevin Siers

Cartoon by Kevin Siers -

06/12/2018 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

06/12/2018 Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez

Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez -

Allies of Evil: 06/13/2018 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - Allies of Evil

Rudy: 06/13/2018 Cartoon by James Silk

Cartoon by James Silk - Rudy

The best deals: 06/13/2018 Cartoon by James Silk

Cartoon by James Silk - The best deals

06/12/2018 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

U.S.-N.K. SUMMIT: 06/12/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - U.S.-N.K. SUMMIT

G7 2018: 06/11/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - G7 2018

Statue of Cruelty: 06/12/2018 Cartoon by Steve Greenberg

Cartoon by Steve Greenberg - Statue of Cruelty

I think the kid should be younger in that cartoon…but that is only my opinion.

 

 

 

And that will about do it for me…

 

One more thing before we go:

See this?

It is from a water bottle I bought at Walmart…see what it says…”Designed in the USA.”  What a fucking joke…

You know what else is funny…Walmart bicycles say they are assembled in the USA…you what to know what that means?

It means that some store employee puts the bike together in the back room, cute? Yeah, all the parts come from somewhere overseas…innit funny?

“Assembled in the USA.”

“Designed in the USA.”

The mutthafukkin joke is on us.

This is an open thread.


Friday Reads: Put on a Happy Face!!!

there was always light by Amanda Blake (contemporary), American

Good Morning Sky Dancers

I wish I could be your little ray of sunshine this morning but I don’t know how that’s possible given the utter daily chaos and destruction that the 2016 election brought us.  The chickens are definitely coming home to roost and the banty rooster is a crazy and mean little bird.

I woke up today to the sad news of a second celebrity suicide.  First, we had Kate Spade whose handbag designs were wonderful.  Now, it’s Anthony Bourdain. Both have left behind young daughters.

Celebrity suicide always starts a conversation that never reaches the ears of the our policymakers who could provide necessary things to solve problems but instead choose to exacerbate them. But more about Trump and the Republicans in Congress and the yanking of funds from the Children’s Health Program last night in a stealth, decidedly one sided vote. Any one with young ones in their life should spend time with them now.

According to several studies, publicity surrounding a suicide has been repeatedly linked to a subsequent increase in the act, particularly among young people.

After Marilyn Monroe died in August 1962, the cause listed as probable suicide, the nation mourned — publicly. In the month that followed there was sweeping news coverage, public memorials and a 12% increase in suicides. That month saw an additional 303 suicides in comparison to the year prior, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

When Robin Williams died in 2014, the world reacted similarly. The comedian’s image was everywhere, details of his untimely passing spawned countless news articles and think pieces. His death is also similarly associated with a 10% increase in suicide across the United States in the five months after his passing, according to a study published in the journal, PLOS ONE, in February.

The phenomenon is often referred to as “suicide contagion,” defined by the Department of Health and Human Services as an increase in suicides due to “the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one’s family, one’s peer group, or through media reports of suicide.”

And the overwhelming influence of a celebrity or high-profile suicide is far from a new discovery. Following the 1774 publication of Wolfgang Goethe’s “The Sorrows of Young Werther” — a book in which a young man ends his life after a failed love affair — Europe also saw a spike in suicides, particularly in men the same age as the protagonist.

The outbreak prompted the novel to be banned in several European locations.

 

PAUL RAFFERTY, American (contemporary)
Hydrangeas Contre Jour

Suicide, however, has been on the rise in the US since 1999.  Like most mental illnesses, it receives less preventative attention than it should.  It does, however, generate a lot of revenues for pharmaceutical companies.  It’s less likely the pills are accompanied by human help and counselling.

I’ve struggled with depression for like 50 years. Some of my youngest memories are of my dad, my baby sister, and me in Kansas City waiting in the car outside a small hospital while my mother sat with her mother during her shock treatments. My mother lived with it too. They put her on antidepressants the last year of her life and I saw a happy, cheery woman I had never known before.  I personally rely heavily on my Buddhist practice which grew from my adult-in-process practices of the relaxation response and positive affirmation. I hurl mantras like I live in a gompa some where up in the Himalayas with shaved head and nun vows. I only wish more people had access to learning meditation. It also helps me to stay away from mean, nasty people which is proving challenging in the Trump era.

But, actual science and properly funding and staffing the CDC is not a priority at all right now.

Suicide rates increased by 25% across the United States over nearly two decades ending in 2016, according to research published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Twenty-five states experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%, the government report finds.

More than half of those who died by suicide had not been diagnosed with a mental health condition, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC.

“These findings are disturbing. Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the US right now, and it’s one of three causes that is actually increasing recently, so we do consider it a public health problem — and something that is all around us,” Schuchat said. The other two top 10 causes of death that are on the rise are Alzheimer’s disease and drug overdoses, she noted.

In 2016 alone, about 45,000 lives were lost to suicide.

“Our data show that the problem is getting worse,” Schuchat said.

 

surprise!! chickens!  roosting!  crazy ass rooster!!!

The Daily Wire has some more of these stats.

Bourdain is just the latest in a string of prominent celebrities suffering from depression who have taken their own lives. Last week, Kate Spade committed suicide; she was reportedly fixated on Robin Williams’ suicide. And suicide rates across America have been spiking: as of 2014, American suicide rates had skyrocketed to their highest rate in three decades, all the way to 13 people per 100,000, even as death rates from other causes declined markedly. Suicide was particularly common among middle-aged white people. The overall suicide rate climbed 24 percent from 1999 to 2014; in 2014, over 14,000 middle-aged white Americans committed suicide. Between 2006 and 2016, the suicide rate for white children jumped 70 percent, and the suicide rate among black children (while lower than that of white children overall) jumped 77 percent. According to USA Today:

A study of pediatric hospitals released last May found admissions of patients ages 5 to 17 for suicidal thoughts and actions more than doubled from 2008 to 2015. The group at highest risk for suicide are white males between 14 and 21.

What’s causing this uptick? Traditional theories regarding poverty don’t seem to hold much water – the economic recovery was well underway by 2014, and more poverty-stricken demographic groups in the United States had lower suicide rates than whites did on a consistent basis. And theories regarding bullying don’t seem to solve the question either – bullying isn’t worse in 2017 than it was in 1999, and studies seem to show that once depression and delinquency are factored out, bullying does not rate as an independent variable changing suicide rates.

Suicide is a complex social phenomenon, and it’s difficult to pin down cause and effect. Surely rising rates of opioid abuse have contributed to the suicide increase, but that wouldn’t explain the jump among young people. There’s a case to be made that decline of religiosity in wealthier societies has led to an uptick in suicide(poorer societies tend to have far less of a suicide problem than wealthy societies, so religious differences matter less statistically). We are suffering a crisis of meaning in the West, and it’s having a significant impact on suicidality.

Hendrick ter Brugghen, Old Man Writing by Candlelight, c. 1626-27, Dutch Baroque painter and leading member of the Utrecht followers of Caravaggio

I don’t think religiosity necessarily connects to leading a meaningful life. But, I’d say constantly be sent off to war is one factor because suicide rates for Vets is off the wall.  I’d also say feeling helpless to change things in your work life and community leads to some of that too.  (From Foreign Policy, September, 2017)

Veterans are about 20 percent more likely than nonveterans to kill themselves, according to a Veterans Affairs press release issued on Friday afternoon at the close of business. (Traditionally, that’s when Washington public affairs types put out bad news they don’t wish to discuss. Mainly they hope to see it tucked into Saturday newspapers that no one reads.)

Also, the suicide rate for female veterans is 250 percent that for female non-vets.

Then, there’s death by abhorrently racist federal policy.  There’s a surge in that.  From the daily paper of my childhood days The Des Moines Register: “Des Moines DREAMer dies within weeks after being sent back to Mexico’s violence.”

Manuel Antonio Cano Pacheco should have graduated from high school in Des Moines last month. The oldest of four siblings should have walked across a stage in a cap and gown to become a proud symbol to his sister and brothers of the rewards of hard work and education.

Instead, Manuel died a brutal death alone in a foreign land, a symbol of gang supremacy in a country plagued by violent drug cartels. It happened three weeks after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement returned him to Mexico, a country he had left at age 3 when his parents brought him here without a visa.

The fact that America was the only home he has known made Manuel eligible to apply for and be granted DACA status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program initiated by former President Barack Obama. It exempted from deportation certain young people, referred to as DREAMERS, who were brought to the U.S. without papers as children.

But that status didn’t protect Manuel when he came to immigration authorities’ attention after being stopped for speeding last fall and charged with driving under the influence. An ICE spokesperson said in a statement that ICE officers arrested him in Polk County Jail and a federal immigration judge terminated his DACA status because of two  misdemeanor convictions.

The statement from Shawn Neudauer, ICE public affairs officer, also said Manuel wasn’t technically deported, but was escorted to Mexico by ICE deportation officers at the Laredo, Texas border this past April 24. He called it a voluntary departure process that doesn’t carry the penalties of a formal deportation. But  the impact was the same: Manuel had no choice but to go back, either as a deportee or in a “voluntary departure.” He chose the “voluntary” route.

The Glasgow Rose, Charles Rennie MacIntosh, Scottish, Glasgow School

You may read more about this young man’s short life at the newspaper’s link.

Other Republican policies will be cutting the lives of children short if this bill passes the US Senate. It moved through the House like a stealth fighter. Funny, how Republicans can get it done when it involves propping up their give-aways to the rich and powerful.

The House voted along party lines late Thursday to pass a White House proposal that would claw back nearly $15 billion in previously approved government funding.

The House approved the measure in a vote of 210-206, with conservatives calling it a step in the right direction after they ripped into the price tag of the $1.3 trillion spending bill President Trump signed earlier this year.

“President Trump and this Administration are fully committed to protecting taxpayers, and Senate passage of this legislation is critical to reducing wasteful, unnecessary spending and making our Federal Government more efficient, effective, and accountable,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement late Thursday.

Trump had pushed lawmakers earlier this week to vote in favor of the clawback plan, known as the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act, which GOP leaders have been working on for two months.

“The HISTORIC Rescissions Package we’ve proposed would cut $15,000,000,000 in Wasteful Spending! We are getting our government back on track,” Trump tweeted Tuesday.

The push to slash spending stemmed from conversations between Trump and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in April, weeks after Trump signed the omnibus into law.

“The President’s rescissions request is a straightforward approach to begin cleaning up a bloated federal budget and respecting hardworking taxpayer dollars,” McCarthy said in a statement Wednesday.

While the move was welcomed by fiscal hawks, Democrats and a handful of moderates argued it could hinder future budget negotiations and drain unused funds that may prove necessary for programs down the road.

Opponents blasted the administration’s decision to target unobligated funds within the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) –– which make up nearly half of the $14.7 billion in rollbacks –– alleging the cuts could lead to a loss of coverage if enrollment is higher than expected.

“The nearly $15 billion in rescissions cut numerous efforts to create jobs, grow our economy, and strengthen our communities. It cuts funding for the economic development administration, and for community development financial institutions. Both of which create jobs in rural areas and distress communities,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, said on the floor.

Officer with a Laughing Girl: ca 1657, Johannes Vermeer, Dutch Baroque Painter

Then, there’s a stab at Obamacare again. This time it’s by the Oldest Living Confederate widow as she attempts to get people with preexisting conditions thrown out and re-establish womanhood as a preexisting condition.  From Forbes Magazine: “The Trump Administration Is Using a New Tactic to Dismantle Obamacare. What You Need to Know About It”

The Trump administration is trying out a new tactic to get rid of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare): calling at least one provision of it unconstitutional.

In a brief filed Thursday, the Justice Department sided with Texas and a coalition of other Republican-led states that had filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare. While it is uncommon for the Justice Department to go against federal law, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that he acted with the “approval of the President of the United States.”

Here’s their argument, and what they want.

The filing declares unconstitutional the so-called individual mandate—which requires almost all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a “tax” if they don’t—and calls for several elements of ACA to be invalidated. These include a “ban on insurers denying coverage and charging higher rates to people with pre-existing health conditions.” The Justice Department reportedly also wants to repeal limits on insurance costs based on gender and age.

Nevertheless, the Justice Department’s position did not go quite as far as the Texas suit. In it, the states deem the entirety of Obamacare and its regulations invalid.

 

Childe Hassam, The Goldfish Window, 1916,

The DOJ will not defend the cases brought by GOP state.  This why we have a spate of crazy obviously unconstitutional shit coming up from the states. The DOJ is deciding which cases to defend based on religious and ideological whims instead of actual legal grounds.

The Trump administration said Thursday night that it will not defend the Affordable Care Act against the latest legal challenge to its constitutionality — a dramatic break from the executive branch’s tradition of arguing to uphold existing statutes and a land mine for health insurance changes the ACA brought about.

In a brief filed in a Texas federal court and an accompanying letter to the House and Senate leaders of both parties, the Justice Department agrees in large part with the 20 Republican-led states that brought the suit. They contend that the ACA provision requiring most Americans to carry health insurance soon will no longer be constitutional and that, as a result, consumer insurance protections under the law will not be valid, either.

The three-page letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions begins by saying that Justice adopted its position “with the approval of the President of the United States.” The letter acknowledges that the decision not to defend an existing law deviates from history

Horse’s Skull with Pink Rose
Georgia O’Keeffe (United States, Wisconsin, Sun Prairie, 1887-1986)
United States, 1931 

 but contends that it is not unprecedented.

Stacking the benches with unqualified judges is a good way to get a decision based on total ignorance of law and precedent and even the Constitution.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee released a report Friday accusing their Republican colleagues of conspiring with President Donald Trump to reshape the federal judiciary by appointing judges whose only qualifications are youth and conservative ideology.

“President Trump and Senate Republicans are stacking our courts at record-breaking speed,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee and one of several signatories on the report. “Nominees have been largely controversial and incredibly young, allowing them to shape our courts for generations.”

The 61-page report titled “Review of Republican Efforts to Stack the Federal Courts” details both the pace and volume of the nomination and confirmation process, as well as the obstruction and filibustering of President Barack Obama nominees that afforded Trump the opportunity to shift the balance of federal courts.

“President Trump entered office with 112 judicial vacancies, compared to just 53 vacancies when President Obama entered office,” the report states. “To fill these vacancies and change the nature of the federal judiciary for decades, President Trump and Senate Republicans have been rushing nominees through the Senate at a breakneck pace by changing the process for consideration and eliminating traditions that had been followed for over a century.”

The “blue slip” tradition referred to in the report is an unwritten rule in the Senate process, honored by both parties for decades, meant to simultaneously preserve a more bipartisan approach to the judicial nomination process and make sure both home-state senators approve of judicial nominees.

The tradition is named after a blue form that is given to the two home-state senators asking for their assessment of the nominee. If the senator has no objection, the blue slip is returned to the committee chairman with a positive response. If they don’t approve of the nominee, the blue form is withheld or returned with a negative response.

Friday’s report says Republicans used blue slips to block 18 Obama court nominees, including six nominees for federal appeals courts, which rank just below the U.S. Supreme Court and have a huge hand in determining some of the most important matters of law in the nation. 

After Trump was elected, Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, eschewed the blue-slip tradition, according to the report.

Michael Brennan was confirmed to the Seventh Circuit on Thursday over the objection of Tammy Baldwin, the home-state senator from Wisconsin. Similarly, Ryan Bounds was nominated to fill a vacancy on the Ninth Circuit over the objections of Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Democratic senators from Oregon.

Republicans can only get things done by sneaking stuff through in thoroughly undemocratic and crooked ways.

And here’s why Germaine Greer is trending.

 

Speaking in a BBC documentary that will be aired on Saturday, called Germaine Bloody Greer, and reported in the Sun and the Mirror, she says: “Someone like Beyoncé – who I think is a fantastic musician, a beautiful voice as true as a bell – why has she always got to be fucking naked and have her tits hanging out? Why?

“I’m not saying you have to keep your clothes on, but why is sexual display part of the job? I might as well ask that question to a barmaid who says she doesn’t get any tips if she doesn’t show cleavage.”

Greer also criticises female athletes, saying: “Why do women athletes have to be naked? I watched bloody figure skating and the woman is virtually naked. She has got a few wisps of cloth and the man is in evening dress. You think nakedness is usually a sign of submission, it’s a sign of inequality.”

She describes her own nude photos, taken for Suck magazine in 1971, as “revolutionary” and a “disruptive gesture”.

Accused of transphobia having repeatedly declared that people who have undergone gender reassignment surgery are not women, Greer caused further outrage recently when she said that “most rapes don’t involve any injury whatsoever”.

Oh, yeah there’s more. She’s written a book “Rape” due out in September.  I actually think she and Bernie Sanders should take up knitting. Oh, and Susanne Sarandon can join them too!

I think I’ve had enough sunshine for one day!  Did the paintings help?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?