Happy Christmas Sky Dancers!
Fifty more days until Mardi Gras!
We’re careening towards a New Year with a hope that 2018 brings indictments, a new congress, and impeachments! I have some reads for you to let you remember why this year we RESIST!
But could extreme poverty also be a feature of what is (although perhaps not for long) one of the richecoasst and most powerful nations in the world? Quite possibly. To answer the question, the United Nations launched an investigation of extreme poverty in the United States.
Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has just wrapped up a 15-day tour of the United States. His team visited Alabama, California, Puerto Rico, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. The findings, released last Friday, documented homelessness, unsafe sanitation and sewage disposal practices, as well as police surveillance, criminalization and harassment of the poor. The rise in poverty, they found, disproportionately affects people of color and women, but also large swaths of white Americans. The report concluded that the pervasiveness of poverty and inequality “are shockingly at odds with [the United States’] immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights.”
To be sure, poverty in the United States is not equivalent to poverty in less developed countries. This has never been a country free of inequality and poverty, but their rapid growth over the past two decades has undermined any professed commitment to equal opportunity or the belief that the nation’s prosperity rests on the well-being of ordinary Americans.
This phenomenon will undoubtedly be exacerbated by the topic of this thoughtful piece by Heater Cox Richardson in The Guardian: ‘Bit by bit, Trump is taking apart the New Deal’s glorious legacy’.
Since January, there have been frightening signs that America is becoming an oligarchy overseen by a dictator. From the first, Donald Trump has followed an authoritarian playbook, beginning with his rejection of objective reality. Forced early on to defend the assertion that the crowd at Trump’s inauguration was the biggest ever witnessed, presidential spokesperson Kellyanne Conway explained that the administration used “alternative facts”. Since then, the president has repeatedly attacked fact-based media as “fake news”. Indeed, with his insistence on an alternative reality, Trump sometimes seems like an elderly Fox News-addled neighbour suddenly given power to make his bizarrely warped view of America real.
Since Democratic president Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the New Dealin the 1930s, radical conservatives have railed against the idea that the government should intervene in the economy. The New Deal responded to the Great Crash and the ensuing Depression by regulating business, providing a basic social safety net and promoting infrastructure in order to maintain a level playing field for all Americans. Opponents countered this principle by arguing that the government must not hem in America’s business leaders. In their view, government regulations and laws to benefit poorer members of society crippled leaders’ ability to prosper and, since their prosperity drove the economy by trickling down to everyone else, such laws destroyed progress.
Best and most appropriate holiday gift ever with the story via New York Daily News: ‘Gift-wrapped horse poop sends bomb squad to Steven Mnuchin’s Bel Air mansion’.
Los Angeles police got a whiff of horse manure intended for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at his Bel-Air home Saturday night.
A neighbor discovered the Christmas-themed package on the driveway of the Trump cabinet member around 5:30 p.m. local time and called police, a Los Angeles Police Department official said.
The bomb squad opened the gift-wrapped surprise and found a “pretty good quantity” of horse manure inside, LAPD Sgt. Briggs said.
And what brave man did this you may ask? Well, from AL.com we get this answer: ‘Man who left manure at Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s house comes forward, speaks out’.
L.A. psychologist Robby Strong provided AL.com with convincing evidence that he is the man behind the now-infamous incident, which attracted the LAPD’s bomb squad and other law enforcement personnel to Mnuchin’s home in the city’s Bel Air neighborhood.
He defended his decision to drop the box of manure – which he says he got from a horse-owning friend – off at Mnuchin’s house as a “prank” aimed at raising the awareness of Americans about the idea that “Republicans have done nothing for the American worker” and other political topics.
“The thing I live by is a rule of transparency and I was exercising my First Amendment rights,” Strong told AL.com. “A few years ago when [a Supreme Court ruling] said that corporations are persons and money equals free speech, that is so absurd and my rule of thumb is now that if corporations are free speech, then so is horses***t.”
At 12:22 p.m. PST Saturday, Strong posted three pictures to Facebook, one of which depicts himself posing with a shovel next to a gift-wrapped box, and another of which shows the box full of what appears to be fecal matter.
Festive Resistance! How very kewl!! Roll backs on environmental protection continue. Oil companies continue to look for ways to drill in pristine places like the Arctic National Refuge and the Gulf. Louisiana has to fight all kinds of issues including a proposed battery component factory in a small town surrounded by water that connects to Lake Pontchartrain.
An Australian company hoping to bring a battery components factory to a port in southern Tangipahoa Parish is running into opposition from residents concerned the plant could harm the nearby swampy waterway used for fishing and recreation.
Syrah Resources is in the permitting phase for a facility that would process graphite from Mozambique into a component for lithium ion batteries, now in high demand for electric cars. The company is touting the plant as a way for Louisiana to position itself as a player in the growing electric car industry.
Similar plants exist in China, but this would be the first in the United States, said Paul Jahn, chief operations officer for battery anode materials at Syrah Tehnologies, the company’s battery subsidiary.
The factory would be located in an existing warehouse at Port Manchac, the port and industrial complex along North Pass, a narrow waterway connecting Lake Maurepa and Lake Pontchartrain.
The company hopes to start production in the spring of 2018.
At the plant, flake graphite would be milled into a spherical shape and purified with water and acids. The final product would be shipped to battery manufacturers in the U.S. and abroad, Jahn said.
At full capacity, the plant would produce about 10,000 metric tons of spherical graphite each year, he said.
Syrah has applied to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality for air and water permits. The company proposes to release annually about 38 tons of particulate matter, .93 tons of hydrochloric acid, .52 tons of hydrogen fluoride and .004 tons of formaldehyde into the air, according to permit documents. The plant also proposes to pump 41,000 gallons of water used in the manufacturing process into North Pass on a daily basis.
Louisiana is already making plans to move it’s coastal communities as most of its coastline continues to erode and sink into the Gulf of Mexico. This headline is from Bloomberg: ‘Louisiana, Sinking Fast, Prepares to Empty Out Its Coastal Plain’. There are so many things that need to be saved from this administration it’s becoming an endless list.
Louisiana is finalizing a plan to move thousands of people from areas threatened by the rising Gulf of Mexico, effectively declaring uninhabitable a coastal area larger than Delaware.
A draft of the plan, the most aggressive response to climate-linked flooding in the U.S., calls for prohibitions on building new homes in high-risk areas, buyouts of homeowners who live there now and hikes in taxes on those who won’t leave. Commercial development would still be allowed, but developers would need to put up bonds to pay for those buildings’ eventual demolition.
“Not everybody is going to live where they are now and continue their way of life,” said Mathew Sanders, the state official in charge of the program, which has the backing of Governor John Bel Edwards. “And that is an emotional, and terrible, reality to face.”
Dust off your pink or purple pussy hat! More women’s marches are on the way for 2018 and we’re going to need them! Here’s a jolly headline from Newsweek: ‘HOW TRUMP AND THE NAZIS STOLE CHRISTMAS TO PROMOTE WHITE NATIONALISM’.
President Donald Trump wants Americans to think he re-invented Christmas.“We can say merry Christmas again,” he has said on numerous occasions both during his campaign for president and his presidency. “Christmas is back, better and bigger than ever before,” he told supporters months before the Christmas season.
“You can say again, ‘Merry Christmas’ because Donald Trump is now the president,” said Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after Trump won the election.
But critics counter that Trump is promoting a version of the holidays that excludes members of other religions, and that his crusade to bring back Christmas is part of a larger attempt by the president to define America as a country for white Christians alone.
Wishing people “merry Christmas” instead of “happy holidays,” is thus in line with Trump’s decision to ban citizens of Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, critics say. It fits neatly with his refusal to condemn white supremacists when they march against diversity, and with his condemnation of athletes who protest police brutality against black men.
With this in mind, the fight to end the war on Christmas is exclusionary politics at its most flagrant.
“I see such invocations of Christmas as a kind of cypher, what some would call a dog whistle. It does not appear to be intolerant or extreme, but to attentive audiences it speaks volumes about identity and belonging—who and what are fully American,” Richard King, a professor at Washington State University who studies how white supremacists exploit culture, told Newsweek.
So, that’s it for me. Let’s just get ready to take it all back in 2018!! Have a great week!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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