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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

On That Equifax Breach


Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) asks some fantastic, even important questions here recently of Equifax CEO Richard Smith. More of us need to hear and learn how they, Equifax, operate and operated. It has to do with the industry, certainly, but with our own information and security, too.



This should, once again, shatter any notion that we don't need government and that we don't need government rules and regulations and oversight of corporations.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Kudos, At Long Last, To KCPT, "Ruckus" and Mike Shanin


At last.

At long last.

Watch Online

I've posted here, at least a few times, if not several, how our local PBS station has singularly, only white people, time after time and week after week, on the show to discuss and hopefully solve Kansas City's issues and problems. In spite of our considerable Black and HIspanic and others population, the program had just that, only white people. Alone.

So imagine how pleased I was this week when they included Jamekia Kendrix on the weekly panel to discuss and talk and be heard. She was and is eloquent and intelligent and well-spoken and more than held her own and gave different viewpoints.

Thank goodness.

Here's hoping it's the shape of things to come for them, for the program and for all of us.

Kudos and salutations, KCPT.

And thank you.

Their "Week in Review" was its same bleached whiteness but at least this "Ruckus" was inclusive.

Hoping they learn, at long last.

Links:

Ruckus | Watch Online | Kansas City PBS Video - KCPT




Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Attacks and Irresponsibility and Just Really the Insanity That Are All Donald Trump


President Trump attacks NFL's 'massive tax breaks' on Twitter

In the very, very short time this Donald J. Trump has been President, look at all he's come out against.

He's against equal pay for women.
He has attacked and keeps attacking women, in fact.



He's against National Parks and National Monuments and so, nature. 


Heck, he's against his own political party and people in it.


We've seen, this week, he's against National Football League players and they're desire for justice in our nation, a two-fer for him. 



Long ago now, he's even attacked our nation's Veterans, for pity's sake.


Not done there, he singles out and attacks DISABLED Veterans, as well.


He has attacked and keeps attacking the media. 

Not just attacking the media, he has attacked free speech, the First Amendment. This came early this year, in February.

Trump threatens to weaken 

First Amendment protections for reporters



Then, he did this in the last 24 hours.

Trump Attacks First Amendment


He's certainly not for clean air nor clean water nor soil.




There are things he's for certainly. Here's one of them. He's for our local military, across the nation, having military gear. You know, so they can fight us, the American citizens.


He's all for business, that's for sure.


Another thing he's for and seemingly in a big way is a fight of some kind with North Korea and their President Kim Jong Un. 



Keep in mind, too, this is only a partial list of what this one man has done and said so far.

So the question is now, when does this roller coaster end? How soon?

And how, exactly?


Monday, October 9, 2017

Entertainment Overnight -- Happy Birthday, John




I hope one day we'll join up,
and the world will live in peace


Republican Party Priorities


And note:  On the one with the most time and money spent on it, they found nothing.

Zero.

But a foreign nation? Ostensibly our arch-enemy? Attack our elections and election system?

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What Burning So Much Carbon Is Getting Us


This is, one more time, what burning all the carbon we do and putting all the carbon dioxide we also do, into the atmosphere, gets us.



And let's be clear, these are not "one off" events. It's part of a far larger trend and not just nationally or even on this continent but world wide.


Science suggests that over the past few decades, the number of wildfires has indeed increased, especially in the western United States. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS),every state in the western US has experienced an increase in the average annual number of large wildfires over past decades.

Extensive studies have found that large forest fires in the western US have been occurring nearly five times more often since the 1970s and 80s. Such fires are burning more than six times the land area as before, and lasting almost five times longer.


Meanwhile, foolishly, our nation's leader is taking us backward and in the completely wrong direction.


Link:



The Single Most Important Article You Could Read Today


This is, as the title says, quite possibly the single most important article you could read today, if not the most important article you could read all year. Its ramifications touch several, many and huge parts of our current lives, of the future, of our government, of technology and of even our Democracy. Everyone should read about and be more familiar with the "attention economy."

For anyone and everyone who is amazed at how many of us are staring down at our phones so much of our lives and/or for anyone and everyone stunned at how we got this President--again, there are many, many possible consequences here.

Image result for picture of trump on a cellphone


Whether you realize it or not, you are very likely participating in it and at least affected by it if not also deeply affected.
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With thanks to friend Paul Shanks for bringing it to my attention.

Here's hoping we're wise and strong enough to be masters of the technologies we create.


On This "Columbus Day"


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See links for source at bottom:

I recommend reading James Loewen’s eye-opening book about how textbooks distort history, Lies My Teacher Told Me (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995). Among the very interesting myths Loewen exposes are the ones surrounding Christopher Columbus.

You may in fact know the following:


• Columbus–and virtually everyone else at the end of the fifteenth century–was fully aware that the earth was round.
• Columbus indeed recognized that he’d discovered a new continent, even adding a section to his coat of arms reflecting it. He never confused it with India.
• The voyage to the “New Land” took about a month. It was smooth sailing the entire way. There was never any threat of mutiny.
• The Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria were well-equipped vessels.
• Columbus’ accomplishment was immediately appreciated by Spain, which outfitted him for a large second voyage–17 ships, 1200 men, and weapons.
• Columbus may not even have been Italian; he certainly never wrote in Italian.

What you may not know is that Columbus epitomized greed, racism, and sadism. He searched for new lands for one reason only: gold. Where he found natives, he captured, enslaved, or murdered them. Here’s an excerpt from Ferdinand Columbus’s biography of his father:

“The soldiers mowed down dozens with point-blank volleys, loosed the dogs to rip open limbs and bellies, chased fleeing Indians into the bush to skewer them on sword and pike, and with God’s aid soon gained a complete victory, killing many Indians and capturing others who were also killed” (from Kirkpatrick Sale, The Conquest of Paradise [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990]).

Columbus’s “discoveries” unleashed a world of slavery and persecution that has ramifications to this day.

Taken from this blog.


At this link:

http://blog.seattlepi.com/nealstarkman/2009/10/12/columbuss-day/

Besides, 500 years before Columbus, there was Lief Erikson.

Leif Erikson Day 2017: 

5 Fast Facts You Need to Know


Happy Leif Erikson Day.

Yes, it really is.

Links: 





Sunday, October 8, 2017

In Case You Don't Understand Why Athletes Are Taking a Knee


Local columnist Jenee Osterheldt put it better than just about anyone today in our own Kansas City Star.

Image result for patrick harmon

Another black man dead, 

another white cop free


I wondered if he knew riding a bicycle without a light could get you killed. Not by traffic, but by the police.

Did Patrick Harmon know that his black skin was something to be feared? Surely it’s something he’d learned in his short 50 years.

Is that why Harmon ran away when, on Aug. 13, the cops went to arrest him in Salt Lake City? They said he threatened them. The video shows him complying. They said he had a knife; one officer said it was “the scariest situation he had ever been in.” But Harmon looked like he was crying. Then he was fleeing for his life. Then he was dead. Less than two months later, the courts ruled the killing was justified.

Did Harmon know the next time Chiefs’ cornerback Marcus Peters sits during the national anthem to protest oppression and brutality, he’d be one of the brutalized?

Did Harmon know that we are not this country’s people? Did he know that black men in 2017 account for more than a quarter of police killings of unarmed people and only 6 percent of the population? Did he know that black Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be shot and killed by the police?



And they get away with it. Ask Jason Stockley. He killed Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, in St. Louis and claimed he had a gun. But the gun found only bore Stockley’s DNA. Stockley said he was scared but as he chased Smith’s car, he can be heard saying, “We’re going to kill this, mother**”, don’t you know?”

We know, Jason. And you got away with it. Just like the cops who got away with the killings of Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and I could keep listing names but we’d run out of space.

The judge overseeing Stockley’s case said it would have been an anomaly if Smith did not have a gun. A judicial validation of white fear.

White fear says he shouldn’t have been running. That if you just comply you’ll survive. Because it worked out great for Castile, who was pulled over while driving in Minnesota and was shot seven times.

White fear says if you just stay in your place and stand for the anthem and salute the flag instead of protest brutality and oppression, that everything will be fine.

White fear says All Lives Matter and act like #BlackLivesMatter is a hate group. And act like it’s completely normal for St. Louis police to shout “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” Because controlling a city has been confused with protecting its people.

In Kansas City, the Chiefs organization says it has found no evidence that anyone called Washington Redskins’ Terrelle Pryor a n----- at Arrowhead, as if their own Peters hasn’t been threatened with racial slurs and violence since he started sitting during the anthem.

Did they think not a single Chiefs fan could be involved? (See: Confederate flags flying at Arrowhead Stadium’s parking lot.) Maybe they did. Just like Chad Dearth of KC Trends Motorsports believed rallying local businesses to refuse service to Peters carried no oppressive subtext. But, you know, he says he didn’t know Peters was protesting brutality. Okay.

It’s not a stretch to believe that Pryor was responding to racism. But it is telling that he was expected to apologize for flipping the bird at a racial slur. Just like lawyers must prove beyond the shadow of a doubt a cop wasn’t acting out of fear, but the assumption of a black threat comes naturally. They’ll pay out settlements like masters paid for slaves but to convict a killer of a black person would require recognizing our humanity.

But this is a country where President Donald Trump will call a black man a son of a bitch for protesting but won’t call a white mass murderer a terrorist. Brutality and oppression are why the athletes kneel, sit or raise a fist.

Like James Baldwin said: “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

Because:

America loves its guns more than its people.

America loves its flag and its anthem more than its people.

America loves its police more than its people.

America loves its people as long as queer people, immigrant people and people of color aren’t its people.


Quote of the Day -- Sunday Edition


And yes, folks, I Googled it. He really did say this.


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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Guns: Then and Now


1776 to today




The Time Has Long Since Come: Contact Your Congressional Representatives


Now we add Las Vegas, too, to the long, long list of cities and towns across the nation that's experienced more needless, avoidable gun and weapons violence and tragedy.


Please, contact your representatives in Congress. All three of them, your 2 Senators and one member of the House of Representatives. Tell them we need the following, at least.

--Background checks, required, for weapons purchases for criminal history, nationwide
--Background checks, again, required for weapons purchases for mental stability
--An assault weapons ban. Again. We did it once, we could do it again. There is no reason assault weapons are available and on our streets in this nation

These, above, are what we should have and do, at minimum and soon as possible. Some additional things we should do are:

--Passing an assault rifle ban 
--A high capacity magazine ban 
--Taxing ammunition 
--Banning convicted domestic violence perpetrators from owning or purchasing firearms for 5 years
--Not allowing people on the "NO FLY" list to purchase guns 
--Instituting a gun buy-back program that would pay people to give up their current assault rifles. 

And I get it. We won't. But we should.

At any rate, please, please do, again, contact your representatives in Congress. Tell them the time has come. Americans need to stop dying, and on our streets. These deaths and tragedies are avoidable. Completely avoidable.

Call Your Rep — 

Congressional Representative 

Contact Information


Please call.  Today.

And thank you, in advance.


Remember Newtown?


Think about it.

If 20 children, 20 beautiful children and 6 adults, being gunned down in a few minutes years ago in Newtown, Connecticut wasn't enough to get America to wake up, pay attention and make changes to gun legislation so these mass shootings don't repeatedly happen, why would adults being gunned down, anywhere else, let alone Las Vegas, make any difference?

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Let's speak up. 

Finally.

At long last.

Let's get something done.

Let's change things, America.

Let's be better than this. Finally.


Quote of the Day -- On Leadership


Seems especially poignant just now.

Image result for martin luther king jr

May I stress the need for courageous, intelligent, and dedicated leadership... Leaders of sound integrity. Leaders not in love with publicity, but in love with justice. Leaders not in love with money, but in love with humanity. Leaders who can subject their particular egos to the greatness of the cause.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Tom Petty, Rest in Peace





And thank you.


We Need to Reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban


Australia did it.


We could, too.

And we need it.

Las Vegas proved it.


You've Outdone Yourself, America



Las Vegas attack is deadliest shooting 

in modern US history


The time has come, America.

The time has come to talk about and work for, work toward solutions.


Right Wing, Republican, Conservative Saint Ronnie, On Assault Rifles




Bill Moyers On Guns


And he's correct, of course.


NOW, America





'Beyond horrific': Shooting on Las Vegas 

Strip kills at least 50, wounds 400


When is the time to talk about what we can do, as a nation, about weapons in this country?

Now.

Now is a great time.

Now is the perfect time, America.

And it's long, long overdue.


Donald Trump Is Going to Puerto Rico This Week?





This week, in the last few days, our illustrious President Donald J. "You're Kidding Me Here" Trump took it upon himself to insult the Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico. In Tweets, of course.

Trump attacks San Juan mayor 

over hurricane response


Not done there, that, alone, wasn't bad enough, he went on to INSULT THE ENTIRE CITIZENRY of that nation.

So, now, given all this, what could he possibly, possibly think he can do to help these people, given that he has, again, insulted each and every one of them, already?

What good could he possibly do now?

How are they to receive him?


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Quote of the Day -- Timely


Not only was H.L Mencken correct here but he and his quote are extremely relevant and poignant now, what with sports figures taking a knee about justice and injustice in our nation.

Image result for “The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”  ― H.L. Mencken

We Are, As a Nation, Normalizing the Insanity and Irresponsibility That Is Donald J Trump



Lots of us swore we would not, could not let this happen. That is, we swore we would and could not possibly let the normalization of Donald J. Trump and all his petulance and non-logic and emotionalism and rantings and ravings and tweets and self-centeredness and narcissism. We were sure we wouldn't all "go there."

But it's happening. Sure as he's called President, to this day, it's happening.

An example?

This past week.

Donald Trump's last 7 days are just 

mind-bogglingly bad


And then, today, there's this.


He has no idea, I expect, that he's flirting with some sort of nuclear disaster, at minimum, if not out and out nuclear war.

Bravado is one thing when you're in the locker room and disrespecting women. God knows that's bad enough. But as President of the most ridiculously powerful nation on the planet to, again, flirt with nuclear warheads being rained down on some part of the planet--anywhere, really--is just outrageously stupid, even childish but certainly irresponsible.

We, the United States, can't allow, hell, exist with this, again, irresponsible dolt as leader.

The planet can't, either.

No exaggeration.


The Trump and Republican Party Tax Plan and Promises?



Remember, just recently, very recently, when this President Trump and his Republican Party pals were making promises about their tax overhaul plans and what it would do for America, for you and me? Remember that?  I surely do.

Trump Promises A Tax Cut 

For The Middle Class


Trump plan promises huge tax cuts


First there was all that. Then reality hit. The actual plan started to take shape and be released. We knew this was going to happen, didn't we? Really?

Promise the moon, deliver tax cuts 

for the wealthy


Then this hit.


Okay, now fast forward to this week, just 3 days ago. Now they're coming clean on it, after all.

Cohn 'Can't Guarantee Anything' 

On Potential Middle Class Tax Hike


Trump adviser 'can't guarantee' taxes 

won't go up for middle class




So it went from promising the sun, moon and stars in benefits to the middle class to "well, we'll give tax cuts to the already-wealthy and corporations" to "we can't promise all in the middle class will get a tax cut" to, finally, "We can't say the middle class won't get a tax HIKE."

Screw you, America.

I say again, anyone but the wealthy--and stupid--who voted Republican again last year, in November, and for this greedy, self-indulgent, narcissist, petulant, emotional Trump should get schooling.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Response Number Two to Trump's Attack On the People of Puerto Rico Today



This second one is from political commentator, professor, and author, Robert ReichHe served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.

The disaster in Puerto Rico continues unabated, and the response from the Trump administration is woefully inadequate. So what does Trump do? He spends another weekend at his golf resort in New Jersey, and blames the messengers.

Trump’s first target this morning was Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan Puerto Rico: "The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump," he tweeted just after 7 a.m. Trump then turned to the news media: "Fake News CNN and NBC are going out of their way to disparage our great First Responders as a way to 'get Trump.' Not fair to FR or effort!," He followed that tweet up with: "The Fake News Networks are working overtime in Puerto Rico doing their best to take the spirit away from our soldiers and first R's. Shame!" Trump did all of that before 8 a.m. on the East Coast.

Our morally disabled president is incapable of hearing criticism, even when human lives are at stake.

Links:






Response Number One to Trump's Attack On the People of Puerto Rico Today



From reporter, writer, Dan Rather, today:

Excuse me, Mr. President but your tantrum tweet storm this morning attacking the mayor of San Juan, a fellow American citizen dealing with a real-time life and death struggle for hundreds of thousands of her constituents on an island of millions in crisis, is not only far below the dignity of the office you hold. It fails even the most basic test of humanity.

Did she have harsh words for your Administration's response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria? Yes. It's called a reality check, and one that conforms to every firsthand account coming out of Puerto Rico no matter how much you try to deflect with your "Fake News" epithets. To take this personally is to put ego before country. And you also blame the Puerto Ricans themselves? That they want "everything done for them"? No. They just expect to be treated as any other American would.

I have seen more than my share of wretched desperation over the course of my career. I have reported from crisis zones where matters of life and death hang moment to moment in the balance between action and inaction, where communication is limited, and the sense of panic is building. I have seen the most steadfast of leaders feel the crushing weight of responsibility as they survey a landscape of almost incomprehensible need.

It does not take a saintly amount of compassion or empathy to feel for those who are struggling to stay alive, who are worried for the fate of family and friends, and who have seen so much that they have known and loved blown and washed away. You swore to "faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States" and that means a responsibility to look out for all Americans, even if they live on an island in the ocean, or look different or even speak a different language than what you think is America.

I worry that whoever has your ear has not adequately impressed upon you the gravity of this situation, or even the political price you are likely to pay (although that can be no where near the top concern at the moment). Or perhaps you have been told and haven't listened.

Regardless, what Puerto Rico needs now is not rhetoric but help, not a bumbling response, but the precision and competence we expect of our government. I do not believe "blame the victim" is what Americans expect of their president.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump can't be bothered. He's off at his New Jersey property today, this weekend.

Golfing.


The Large--and Glaring--Problem of the Vietnam Documentary


Crying children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, center, run down Route 1 near Trang Bang, Vietnam after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places as South Vietnamese forces from the 25th Division walk behind them

Like so many Americans this past week, I've watched a good deal of Ken Burns' and Lynn Novick's documentary on PBS covering the Vietnam War.

I'll say right off the bat, it's good and it's important. It's important we Americans know more about this horrible saga. It's important we know more fully what took place and they do cover a lot of that and well.

That said, it seems it also needs to be made clear that this program also lets America off any moral hook and that it leaves out a great deal more information, information we sorely need to know. No one puts this information out there better on the series than Christopher Koch in his writing online this week in Medium.

The Tragic Failure of Ken Burns Vietnam


A bit from the article:

Burns and Novick tell us that the war was begun “in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and …” whatever the current threat. That’s probably true of most wars. However, as we used to teach our children, you have to be accountable for your actions. If you kill someone speeding the wrong way down a one way street you’ll get charged with manslaughter even if you’re rushing someone to the hospital.

It’s the lack of accountability, the failure to prosecute those who lied to get us into the war, who encouraged battlefield tactics that resulted in the massacre of women and children, who authorized the indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets, who drenched Vietnam in chemical poisons that will cause birth defects and death for generation.

In order to maintain this central lie, Burns and Novick must establish a false balance between good and evil on both sides. Every time the United States is shown doing something bad, Burns and Novick show us how the Vietnamese also did bad things. In one absurd example, Coyote intones something like, “we called them ‘Dinks,’ ‘Gooks,’ ‘Mamasans;’ they called us ‘invaders’ and ‘imperialists.’” The GI terms are dehumanizing, but the Vietnamese terms are accurate. People who cross 3,000 miles of ocean to attack a country that has done them no harm, are accurately called ‘invaders.’ I suppose you could argue about the ‘imperialist’ charge.

Vietnamese soldiers killed some 58,000 Americans and wounded a couple of hundred thousand more. Buns and Novick put the number of Vietnamese we killed at 3 million, but most experts say it was more like 4 million and Vietnam says its 6 million, with more people continuing to die from unexploded ordinance and Agent Orange. We destroyed 60% of their villages, sprayed 21 million gallons of lethal poisons, imposed free fire zones (a euphemism for genocide) on 75% of South Vietnam. They attacked US military bases in their country and never killed an American on American soil. There are no equivalences here.


Finally, besides we Americans knowing our history and knowing what happened in Vietnam, the horrors and tragedies and even the lies, all the lies, that got us there and then kept us there, it's important to know it all and to put and keep it in perspective because of what it's since gotten us first in Iraq and then in Afghanistan, where we still are, to this day.

Without the peace movement, there is no moral center to this series. The lack of accountability is fatal. That an American general can watch from a helicopter the massacre at Mai Lai (as the films tells us) and suffer no consequences is sickening. If military courts had aggressively prosecuted violators of human rights, or even if we only had held detailed and accurate reconciliations where the truth came out, there would have been a chance that our reckless invasions of Iraq with its policy of torture and the invasion of Afghanistan would not have followed so easily. When people are held accountable for their actions, perpetrators of questionable violent acts think twice.

Last week on NPR an American general in Afghanistan announced that we are not trying to occupy territory in Afghanistan, we are simply trying to kill terrorists. Here, again, is the same rationale of the body count that led to disaster in Vietnam. We are reliving the Vietnam War because no one was ever really held responsible for its horrors.


We need to learn. We need to know. And then we need to apply the lessons of this nightmare, of this past, of our past, to the mistakes we're making now and that we continue to make.

I understand that they wanted to make this series both palatable and acceptable to most all, if not all Americans. They didn't want it to be "harsh." They didn't want it to be seen as "too hard" on our nation, too critical, too condemning, if not damning. It would have instantly been branded as "Leftist" and "against the troops" and so, then, against the nation. But by making it palatable, they whitewashed the history, our history. They whitewashed and prettified what happened and what we did over there.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick let us off easy. In not telling all that happened, they let us off easy. Consequently, we learn nothing. Tragically, we repeat the same mistakes, killing in other, different parts of the world.

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