Monday Reads: Drumpf Dump and then some kewl stuff

Good Morning!

I found some really interesting things for you to read and watch today but let’s just do a quick Drumpfistan Detritus Dump first.  It’s easy to look at US History and recoil from the dark side with its huge numbers of crimes and cruelties inflicted by ‘White Christian Hegemony’.  Andrew Jackson’s removal of hundreds of thousands of indigenous Americans from their Tribal Lands on the Trail of Tears should be forced reading every time we celebrate any holiday like Columbus Day.  The contributions of women in this country have long buried, discounted, and discouraged.  The absolute impact of how our country was built on the slave trade and on the institution of slavery which has created lasting effects of racism that just do not go away is poorly understood by many Americans. This last year we have learned how vested so many are in the idea of White Christian Male Hegemony that it hurts to watch any action taken by any one in the White House.  They will destroy everything to protect it.

Racist and misogynistic attacks by this Administration on two black women US Representatives–Maxine Waters and Frederica Wilson–and a young black gold star widow–Myeshia Johnson–continue to gall.  The blatant misogyny and racism and this ongoing dog whistle and bait show provide us a glimpse into minds that obviously believe that some gold star families are more ‘sacred than others.’  This leaves me shocked and deeply saddened.  The attacks are also awash with lies and so disrespectful that none of these old, white, ‘Christian’–yes I’ve taken to using ironic quotation marks–men can’t even speak their names correctly if at all.

This is not the power of soft bigotry.  This is full on white supremacist mode.  No thinking person can deny this.

 

 

 

A grieving, pregnant widow and mother of small children has been compelled to go on Network TV to defend the Congresswoman that mentored her late husband.  We all believe Frederica Wilson.

The pregnant widow of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was among four U.S. service members killed in Niger earlier this month, expressed a mix of blame and sorrow today on “Good Morning America,” saying she was “very angry” about President Donald Trump‘s condolence phone call and upset because she says he struggled to “remember my husband’s name.”

ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos spoke to Myeshia Johnson, who criticized Trump’s handling of the phone call that started a firestorm of controversy.

I still can’t move beyond this.  Meet a retired Chicago police officer …

We continue to stand witness to the suffering of our country men and women in the Virgin Islands and in Puerto Rico. The fact we now likely have incredibly failed military policy in Niger that ended the lives of 4 soldiers is at the heart of the Drumpf-created media circus that we’re watching. It serves to take our minds off of that and the suffering in our Caribbean territories.  McCain has joined in with swipes at Drumpf’s successful Draft Dodging during the Vietnam war.  Bone spurs?  Seriously?  Now would be a really great time for Congress to have some truth seeking hearings but their heads are up the asses of millionaires and billionaires seeking tax cuts.

Meanwhile, we have “Forever Wars”.  It also seems the groundwork is being laid for a few more.  It’s the belief of quite a few of us that the entire West Wing and the Drumpf Pentagon is out looking for an excuse to preemptively strike North Korea.

While President Donald Trump rattles sabers on Twitter and slams “Rocket Man” Kim Jong Un, there is also a perceptible hardening of tone among senior officials. Military action to halt North Korea’s march to a missile tipped with a nuclear warhead that could hit the US mainland appears to be a growing possibility.

Trump upped the rhetoric another notch in an interview with Fox Business Network broadcast Sunday, in which he said Washington was “so prepared, like you wouldn’t believe” for any contingency with Pyongyang.

“You would be shocked to see how totally prepared we are if we need to be,” Trump said. “Would it be nice not to do that? The answer is yes. Will that happen? Who knows, who knows.”

Trump’s power to shock has been eroded by the extraordinary spectacle of his nine months as President.
Yet it’s still stunning to hear an American President speaking so openly about the possibility of a war, that could, under some scenarios, cause the most devastation of any US conflict, at least since the Vietnam War.

And then, again, he talks shit about our allies who will probably leave us high and dry on any Drumpf war adventure.

Donald Trump has blamed a rise in crime in the UK on “radical Islamic terror”, despite there being no evidence to support the claim.

In an early morning tweet the President said: “Just out report: ‘United Kingdom crime rises 13% annually amid spread of Radical Islamic terror.’ Not good, we must keep America safe!”

So, enough of this … let’s end on the UPSIDE of humanity.

A new prehistoric finding has paleontologists stumped.

Paleontologists in Germany have discovered 9.7 million-year-old fossilised teeth that a German politician has hailed as potentially “rewriting” human history.

The dental remains were found by scientists sifting through gravel and sand in a former bed of the Rhine river near the town of Eppelsheim.

They resemble those belonging to “Lucy”, a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton of an extinct primate related to humans and found in Ethiopia.

However, they do not resemble those of any other species found in Europe or Asia.

Scientists were so confused by the find they held off from publishing their research for the past year, Deutsche Welle reports.

Herbert Lutz, director at the Mainz Natural History Museum and head of the research team, told local media: “They are clearly ape teeth. Their characteristics resemble African finds that are four to five million years younger than the fossils excavated in Eppelsheim.

“This is a tremendous stroke of luck, but also a great mystery.”

At a press conference announcing the discovery, the mayor of Mainz suggested the find could force scientists to reassess the history of early humans.

I discovered a gem of a page on FaceBook.  It’s called History’s Women Adventurers. It’s loaded with video after video of amazing women. Now, I’m looking for more about them.

From Scary Mommy: GIFS of “women just destroying SHIT”. Yup. You’re enjoying some of them on this post!  Do take a brief look at the lives of two adventurous women!  You’ll be glad that you did! The Facebook page is an amazing collection of short videos of adventuring women’s lives. Here’s an article about the effort to celebrate the legacies of these women.

 

Also, go Check out Doug McCash’s tweeter feed for artwork on homes and buildings through out New Orlean’s 7th ward.  Doug is an Arts and Entertainment writer at The Times-Picayune. There’s some really fine street art out there.

Chad Knight is the Digital artist from Portland whose CGI sculpture is up top.

So, at least I ended my rant with something uplifting.  Destruction and creation and evolving life;  What could be more human?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads

Good Morning!

I usually enjoy this time of year.  I also usually enjoy the political season even though there are candidates here and there that make me very mad.  Usually, one weird state or another in the great outback sends a Senator or a Congressman to Washington that should be in Bizarro World instead.  I’ve lived in states most of my life that send complete morons and the occasional shining star to DC. I’m used to that.  This isn’t the usual at all.   The President and First Lady pointed that out eloquently yesterday.

They should know.
They’ve been under attack since they won their race. Michelle Obama knows what it’s like to be under attack for physical features you cannot change and others use to define you in unkind ways.  Her speech yesterday as well as her speech at the DNC will be the defining moments of US politics for some time when history gets around to sorting us out.  The lows have been very low and she went high.  She defined what we should be as a society and a country.  Some time during her tenure as FLOTUS, she found a powerful political voice and we are better off for it. She’s had every racist and sexist attack thrown at her for 8 years. She can preach it from a place of knowing.  This is from VOX.

Obama’s speech was emotional, and that makes sense. She knows firsthand that Trump’s infamous remarks, and the underlying views of women they reflect, are all too common.

When she talks about “vulgar words” and “shameful comments” that equate women’s value with their physical appearances, she could just as easily be referring to things that have been said about her, often with a dose of racism mixed in to increase the insults. Just a few examples:

  • In 2010, discussing the first lady’s promotion of breastfeeding, radio host Rush Limbaugh said he wasn’t surprised to see her “encouraging people to get on that teat.”
  • In 2012, a California comedian joked that “Playboy is offering Ann Romney $250,000 to pose in the magazine, and the White House is upset about it because National Geographic only offered Michelle Obama $50 to pose for them.”
  • In 2013, a Richmond, Virginia, school board member’s email captioned a photo of traditionally dressed African women with bare breasts “Michelle Obama’s high school reunion.”
  • In July 2015, Patrick Rushing, the mayor of Airway Heights, Washington, referred to her as “monkey man” and “gorilla face” in a Facebook post.
  • Just in July, a loan officer lost her job after calling the first lady an “ugly black bitch” on Twitter, I bet a real professional from https://nation21loans.com/ wouldn’t have done that!

Obama didn’t speak out in response to any of these attacks, but it’s not hard to read her speech as partly catharsis about the pain she’s endured and what it says about how women — and black women in particular — are demeaned in this country.

Michelle Obama–like her husband–has grown in office. Her passion is children.  She is the mother of daughters. She wants a bright and happy future for all children.  She has this in common with many women and with Hillary Clinton.  This passion is the root and soul of her heartfelt speeches.

Her legacy at the White House will include this beautiful kitchen garden.

First Lady Michelle Obama announced on Wednesday a $2.5 million donation on behalf of the Burpee Foundation towards her beloved White House kitchen garden long after she leaves the grounds.

At the event that kicked off her final fall harvest, Mrs. Obama spoke emotionally and nostalgically as she recounted the effort and passion of those who helped the White House kitchen garden blossom into what it is today –a “refuge,” “symbol” of healthy living, and a “labor of love” to many.

“This garden has taught us that if we have the courage to plant a seed–to be brave enough to plant it, then take care of it, water it, tend to it, invite friends to help us take care of it, weather the storms that inevitably come… if we have the courage to do that, then we never know what might grow,” she said at a dedication ceremony. “Now, that’s what this garden has taught me, to be fearless in those efforts, to try new things, to not be afraid to mess up–things we tell our kids all the time.”

The White House kitchen garden and the “Let’s Move” initiative, Mrs Obama added, created a cultural movement, inspiring future generations from all industries to transform the American way of life

“After an era of everything being supersized, who would have thought that major companies would be racing to market smaller, lower calorie versions of their snacks and beverages, from half sized candy bars to little mini soda cans? We see it everywhere we go,” she said. “Who would have thought that chain restaurants focused solely on salad would be the hottest new trend, or that those fitness bracelets would become so common that we wouldn’t even notice them any longer?”

I have a few other reads to suggest today. I’m making this short because my struggle continues here.  My car is acting up terribly. My computer is being completely unreliable.  It has the same problem that BB’s Computer has. We’ve both had it since we bought these.  I finally got my third phone to replace the first one that quit charging itself.  It’s working at the moment.  My youngest gets married next Saturday.  I am the proverbial basket case.  I’m tossing down Valerian root like candy and meditating frequently.  I’ve found poverty in old age to be the most challenging thing I’ve ever faced.

There’s an interview with the author–Robert P. Jones–on a new book on the end of White American Christian hegemony. You can watch it at The Atlantic.

The United States is no longer a majority white, Christian country, and that is already beginning to have profound social and political implications. At 45 percent of the population, white Christians are a shrinking demographic—and the backlash from many members of the group against the increasing diversification of America has been swift and bitter. “People fight like that when they are losing a sense of place, a sense of belonging, and a sense of the country that they understand and love,” says Robert P. Jones, the author of The End of White Christian America, in this animated interview. “How do they reengage in public life when they can’t be the majority?”

Many American Lawmakers from major US Cities are joining Elizabeth Warren’s fight against AirBnB.  This is a good feature article from The Guardian.

Airbnb is facing renewed calls for a federal investigation from more than a dozen US cities, boosting senator Elizabeth Warren’s efforts to force the popular home-sharing startup to release data on its affordable housing impact.

A coalition of American lawmakers, including leaders from New York, San Francisco, Seattle, St Louis and Portland, urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday to “help cities to protect consumers” and “study the extent to which the [short-term rental] industry is facilitating commercial operations”.

The joint letter, first reported by the Guardian, marks an escalation of a growing national campaign to force Airbnb to eliminate illegal hotels and large-scale commercial businesses that city leaders say are contributing to affordable housing shortages and urban displacement.

The push comes months after Warren – the progressive senator from Massachusetts and a high-profile Hillary Clinton supporterurged the FTC to examine Airbnb, an unprecedented step in US lawmakers’ scrutiny of the booming “sharing economy”.

The San Francisco-based startup is currently engaged in contentious legal battleswith city governments across the country, and has become one of the most high-profile California tech companies to dramatically disrupt a longstanding industry, raising complex challenges for regulators.

Opponents have increasingly pushed for tighter restrictions on the $30bncompany, which allows hosts to rent their homes to strangers. Although the firm markets itself as a third-party “sharing” platform for “short-term” rentals, reports have suggested that many are using the site for hotel-like businesses and long-term leases – taking much-needed affordable housing off the market

BBC News has a beautiful video up  showing prehistoric Chauvet Cave .  This actually an wp-1476475917497.jpgolder story from April 2015 but I really feel like we all could use some beauty.  (It’s also why I have used pictures of the White House Kitchen Garden with happy kids.)

It’s locked away behind a thick metal door, hidden halfway up a towering limestone cliff-face.

Few people have ever been allowed inside, but BBC Newsnight has been granted rare access by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.

We slide through a metal passageway on our backsides, and then tentatively descend a ladder.

It takes a few moments to adjust to the darkness, but our head torches soon reveal that we’ve entered into a vast cave system of geological beauty.

We weave along the narrow metal walkways; stalactites and stalagmites glimmer in the light, sparkling curtains of calcite hang down from above and the floor is awash with the bones of long-dead animals.

Until recently, the last people to set eyes on this place were our Palaeolithic ancestors, before a rock fall cut it off from the outside world.

This exquisitely preserved time-capsule was sealed shut for more than 20,000 years, until it was discovered by three cavers – Eliette Brunel-Deschamps, Christian Hillaire and Jean-Marie Chauvet, after whom it is now named – on the 18th December 1994.

At first they thought they had uncovered a network of spectacular caverns.

But as they ventured deeper inside, they realised this was the discovery of a lifetime – the cave held some of the oldest art ever found.

It’s breathtaking when we get our first glimpse of it.

The walls are adorned with hundreds of paintings.

Most of them are animals – woolly rhinos, mammoths, lions and bears intermingle with horses, aurochs and ibex.

Some are isolated images: we wander past a small rhino, a single, lonely creature daubed on the rock. But there are also huge, complex compositions, a menagerie of beasts jostling for space on great swathes of the cavern wall.

Take care every one!  Guard what can go into your mind!  Things on TV are very toxic these days. Try to surround yourself with beauty and the love of family and friends.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?