Monday, December 28, 2015

Is This Justice?

I'm shaking my head in dismay over the FAILURE of that Cleveland grand jury to indict the officers in the death of Tamir Rice.  If you haven't heard or read reports, here's the one from The Guardian.

That prosecutor, McGinty, should be totally ashamed of the way he handled the case.  Of course, he probably is immune to that feeling.  And the grand jury? Really, people, what does it take to hold cops accountable?  

NPR News has a follow-up article with reactions.  I could barely get through McGinty's.  Check out the article's quote from Aviva Shen of Think Progress. And Radley Balko of the Washington Post had some good comments - a snippet: "We shouldn't be asking if the police actions were legal or within department policy; we should be asking if they were necessary. Or if you'd like to use a word with a bit more urgency behind it, we should ask if they're acceptable."

Then there's the shooting of Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier in Chicago.  The cops couldn't hold back even a bit while Bettie was "in the way"?  And why was their first option shooting - when LeGrier wasn't carrying a gun?

We had all better wake up and start demanding accountability, demand better policing, and work to address the problems in our justice system at the very least.  Just remember ---- what affects "the others" today may affect you tomorrow.

Oh yes, remember to vote in the poll to your right and that feedback as per the post previous to this would be soooo welcome! 

And of course your thoughts and comments on this or other posts would be great!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Blogging Into the Future... Anyone There?


Well, I don't know if very many readers saw this post - maybe everyone was preoccupied with holiday thingsI was hoping it wasn't too close to Christmas when I originally posted, but maybe?  Anyway, the idea of doing the poll occurred to me and I wanted to do it before I forgot all about it.  

I REALLY, REALLY  would love some feedback about future blogging and anonymous comments.  Connecting to readers is why bloggers blog, right?  So I would love to hear from some of you, as per:

I have been thinking on and off about my blogs - maybe even moving them (google/blogger can be a mess sometimes).  Then I had a time trying to reply to my last comment from Nancy.  I finally was able to do so and in endeavoring to find out why I had such a problem, found out this:

Allowing the option of anonymous comments is important to me.  I'm sure at least some folks are concerned about privacy and also ad tracking.  Well, it turns out that in order to leave an anonymous comment here on blogspot, you have to enable third-party cookies.  What?  Basically that means more ad tracking at the least.  And you HAVE to do a captcha - although I started using that a long time ago, I no longer can turn off that requirement.  And since I've not put an e-mail contact here, I would basically not know if anyone has had any problems trying to post a comment unless maybe someone who knew me personally had problems and complained to me, but no one has.

So I thought a good step would be to do a poll to see if anyone has had problems or has any feelings about this.  The poll is located in the "navigation bar" or whatever just to the right of the posts.  I'm going to reopen the poll and leave it open until 11:59 p. m. on Jan. 4.  That should give plenty of time for feedback.  I did a quick test of a prototype and I believe you should be able to vote without enabling third party cookies. I encourage you all to vote!

Now I'm also going to ask for any ideas or info you good folks could share.  I've looked into a couple of ways to do alternatives to comments.  I thought of a guest book thing.  However, guestbooks are sort of "old-fashioned" and there are very few hosts - and they also might need more cookies and ad tracking.  I also looked at doing some sort of web form.  I even got so far as finding some model html commands and was able to do a "mock up" except for one thing.  If you do - I think it's "mailto" -  it opens a warning box to users and might also expose e-mail addresses.  I think I read that a better way would be to do some things in php language, but I really don't know code, and php looks REALLY bizarre to me, anyway.  Any thoughts or ideas on alternatives?

Or are there thoughts on moving my blogs to an alternative or using some alternate way to publish content?  I'd almost hate to do that -  it could get messy and trying to get you good readers to the new place might be just a bit of a challenge.  But I might be open if there's a good option but let's leave WordPress and facebook OUT of consideration here (all right, I am picky, but there are certainly way too many privacy concerns for me to even consider facebook).

So there it is.  Would really love getting some thoughts and input - and poll participation!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Fight the Bile (With Updates!)

I truly shudder at the vile atmosphere the U.S. seems to have descended into.  It seems the mood is increasingly anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, among other things.

I am heartsick that anyone favors Donald Trump and his vileness.  His rhetoric is nastily divisive and his proposals unAmerican and definitely unDemocratic (well, aren't we supposed to be a - Democracy, Republic, something?).

How can we just brush aside the indignities and real threats so many American Muslims are facing right now?  Glenn Greenwald did an overview of some very recent incidents at The Intercept.

Then I just read a heartbreaking story on Yahoo news about the effects such hateful rhetoric is having on Muslim children.  And what have THEY done?

And what else?  Trump actually encouraged supporters to assault a heckler.  Now, if that happened in another country, wouldn't we UNIVERSALLY AND QUITE STRONGLY condemn that?  In fact, if any other presidential candidate here did that, I think their campaign would be in serious trouble if not over.  Juan Thompson at The Intercept wrote about visiting a Trump rally and the the ensuing poor treatment of him and also those who came to protest.

That Trump isn't alone is scary.  Just a couple of weeks ago during C-Span's Landmark Cases - Brown v. Board of Education episode, a caller started spewing the most vile racist filth.  Sue cut him off, but really not soon enough.  I keep asking myself, what year is this?  Many disparate people of good will for centuries have tried to bring us into a society closer to our ideal of  "All men (and I'll add women!) are created equal."  Have we forgotten their struggles?  Have we forgotten to what we're supposed to aspire?  I shake my head and pray.  Pray hard.

It was at least some measure of hope that many added condemnations of this dangerous person to The Guardian's Guardian Witness "assignment" of "# We Do Care" in response to Trump.  I didn't see mine there, though?  What's up Guardian???

Moral of the story:  we must fight the bile.  We must reject hate, fear-mongering and divisiveness.  And we need as many persons of good will as possible to do this.  Stand up NOW!!!


I don't know if anyone saw this since I so very recently posted it, but I just got on to this story via a report from one of my mailing lists.  It is so excellent - although I don't favor the expletives, just be aware ... Don't Hate All Muslims...

I didn't dare watch that GOP debate; I knew I wouldn't be able to stomach it.  And I was right.  The canddates were competing on - who can drop the most bombs - not seeming to care about civilian casualties?  Check this out.

Related Posts: (in addition to the few just preceding this one:

 Equality Begins With Respect, And... (with Update)

Equality, Equality

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fear-Mongering Alerts - II

Greetings ----

In the previous post, we looked at fearmongering and demonizing groups.  But there's also another dimension to the fear-mongering that's being presented to us, which is: clear threats to our civil liberties.

The Intercept has a very interesting article out. The Pres., intelligence community are really fighting to either stop the spread of end-to-end encryption or mandate that tech companies put in backdoors that intelligence spies and Law enforcement can use.  BAD IDEA!!!  Backdoors just make everyone's data LESS safe.  And that's not just me, but the conclusion of a cyber expert quoted in the article.  And the FBI is calling on tech companies to open backdoors to encryption.  Is anyone paying attention?  Why aren't we howling until this spying is radically scaled back, until mass surveillance is truly stopped???

Then there's Hillary, who in addition to worrying about encrypted apps said:  "And this is complicated. You’re going to hear all of the usual complaints, you know, freedom of speech, et cetera..."    FREEDOM OF SPEECH is now a "complaint?"  I thought it was a portion of The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to our Constitution, which is supposed to be the supreme law of the land.  You know, Hillary, our freedoms are not pesky handcuffs for law enforcement or intelligence spooks.  They were written to ensure liberty and some protections against government abuses. And a certain clown running for President also wants to talk about "closing the internet?"  Trump is really dangerous; more needs to be done to expose his poor fit to be a U. S.  leader I find a general lack of respect for civil liberties and human rights that makes me shake my head in dismay when I look over the field of main Presidential contenders.  I'm not optimistic.
And look at what's going on outside the U. S., too.  Say, France.  The French are considering some really draconian legislation -- included on the "wish-list" is banning public wi-fi if there is a state of emergency and outlawing TOR browser.  They also have harassed climate change protesters in Paris. Demonstrations have been disallowed and some key protesters placed on house arrest.  From the article: 
Some protesters argue that the permission granted to football matches, trade fairs and Christmas markets in Paris over the summit period suggests that the authorities’ real concern is to suppress dissent.
“We are trying to find grey areas in the law,” said John Jordan, a prominent activist. “At the moment, a demonstration is legally defined as more than two people who share a political message. We are trying to find creative ways around these laws.”

Oh no, the real intent just couldn't be to stifle dissent, now could it?

And the UK is no slouch, either, in the give-the-spooks-what-they-want department.  

It's time to start realizing that this is NOT about keeping us safe.  Not by a long shot.  There is absolutely NO evidence that mass surveillance has foiled ANY large terror plot. Really do some critical thinking, then, about why there is so much push for surveillance and tracking.  Really think about the kind of world we're building.  Really think about not buying into "the internet of things", not buying that new, more invasive gadget, or being so willing to be digitally tracked by ---- whatever site, ad tracker, offered loyalty card, or nefarious government agency wants to.  Wake up, it's getting late.

Related Posts:

My Update on a Classic

Any More Doubts? 

Any More Doubts (2)? 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Fear-Mongering Alerts - I

The news lately has been fairly abysmal, especially after my last post.  The tragedy of San Bernadino certainly dominated headlines.  And there didn't seem to be much other good news around.

But look at what's going on in the aftermath of San Bernadino.  Why the media is giving the extremely dangerous, divisive Trump ANY airtime or credibility is beyond me.  I cringe just seeing his face on news reports.  Literally.  And he has now hit an even new low for him, calling for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.  On what?  Suspect data, that's what! Then there's Jerry Falwell, Jr., President of Liberty University, urging students to carry firearms.  Seems as though clarifications were issued and the University issued a statement.  Ok, but I will say that Mr. Falwell, Jr.  should pay strict heed to the Moody Blues: "Say What You Mean"  Might help avoid gaffes.

At this point, let's remember a few things. (Since I am a Christian, this comes from this perspective ---- and I hope it's clear that ALL faiths should be respected:) Jesus talked graciously with the Samaritan woman at the well.  Yes, a Samaritan woman, and she noted Jews then generally had no dealings with them.  And what about the parable of "The Good Samaritan"?  We certainly concentrate on the kindness of that stranger in the story, but are we losing another point: that the do-gooder was "one of them (not us!)?"  And I must now include one of my favorite Bible verses here: Acts 10:34-35: "And Peter opened his mouth and said: 'Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him."  (RSV)

We need to reject demagogues who want to demonize whole groups.  We need to see common humanity and use some common sense when addressing "threats."  We need more media folks to expose demagoguery, false data, and bogus claims.  And we need people to wake up to the dangers even such ill-advised remarks have; and ENSURE their rejection in practice.

(Part II is coming...) 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Excursion Together

Thnking about - we are all fellow travellers!


Our ride in space has brought us
Millions of miles from yesterday
And all across the same globe
Billions of eyes will see the same Sun,
Then gaze at the stars and other planets
So why is it that too often
We do not recognize the stardust in each others’ eyes,
The Earth-dust from each others’ journeys?
Open eyes, open hearts
Must connect us travellers;
Isn’t the universe too big to be travelling alone?
Isn’t the world too small not to cooperate
As we seek to complete one more day
And find ways for our spirits to thrive?
For who knows where our journey will find us
When we’re millions of miles away into tomorrow

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Peace Sign...

I was wondering just what to blog about next when I came across an article in The Guardian about the designer of the peace sign.  He was Gerald Holtom and the design was first used in an antinuclear march in 1958.  He never copyrighted nor profited financially from the design.  According to the article, "he wanted the design to be freely available to any group who fought the same cause."  There's a link to Mr. Holtom's Wikipedia page  given as well.

Some folks or groups have mixed feelings about the sign it seems.  But I like it.  It's simple which does a lot to makes it the iconic symbol it has become.  It also lends itself well to being "dressed up", as in the cosmically decorated one above.  It has power to remind us of what we all should wish, hope, and pray for.

So thank you, Mr. Holtom for your contribution.  May you Rest in Peace, of course, but keep praying for Peace here on Earth; we need all the good vibes we can get!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Re: Refugees

Oh, my, has there ever been some hateful rhetoric about allowing in Syrian refugees since that attack in Paris.  It's been even worse than a lot of the previous rhetoric on immigration.  And CNN suspended a reporter for a tweet criticizing the recent House vote.  (Oh gee, do you think they were upset that she - gasp - criticized the government ) ?

Anyway, it seems to me that we have a memory failure here:

Reminder Needed

We forget that we are a country of immigrants
That many hands of diverse ancestry built this country
And continue to do so
It seems we forget when someone whispers, "The terrorists are coming."

We forget things such as "Chinese Exclusion",  
The stain of Japanese incarceration,
Those against admitting Jewish refugees from the Holocaust
Have we not learned from our history?
But it seems we forget if someone intones, "The terror threat is high."

We forget that we face risks everyday
We forget that liberty should not be sacrificed for security
But it seems civil liberties and even common sense
Seem to be discarded if someone pronounces, "We just want to keep you safe."

We forget, but there's a certain statue in New York harbor
Which should be a reminder to us
She stands as a token of friendship and a becon of liberty
So will we stand with her?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

For Paris...

... and for Mali, as well. What is there to offer in the wake of these attacks but our prayers? Prayers for the victims, their families, the cities.

A candle for those prayers...

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Shape of Things

Greetings - I hope real people are reading!!!

I read the article in The Guardian about the long lost poetical essay from Percy Bysshe Shelley, entitled The Existing State of Things.  The only known copy is on display by the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England.  It has been digitized and you can read about it and read the actual essay here !

Reading about it, I was certainly intrigued, as one if its themes is being anti-war.  Well, I finally got to read it and have to absolutely agree with The Bodley Librarian, Richard Ovenden, that: "The themes addressed by Shelley in Poetical Essay - the abuse of press, dysfunctional political institutions and the global impact of war - remain as relevant today as they were 200 years ago."  In some ways, it also reminded me (although written many, many years before) of Bob Dylan's Masters of War.  I wanted to see how Shelley handled the topic(s) and felt I was going to write something myself.  After reading it, I HAD to write.

So, not for comparison, please, but here is my own offering with nods to Shelley and also Dylan.  Read kindly, folks...

The Shape of Things

The shape of war

In contours of ominous fear-mongering clouds
In shadows of drones
In specters of tanks
In billowing gray smoke and spray of orange flames
Blood and tears result,
A tidal flow of grief

The shape of propaganda,
Seeking to mold minds
Seeking to still the mind’s questions
Seeking to numb the vision of eyes
As its lullaby cradles the public to sleep

The shape of surveillance
Shifting behind the security veil
Intent on reaching its tentacles into everyday lives
Seeing, knowing, analyzing
Sharing all its nebulous web can ensnare
While refusing to drop its cloak,
Its form only known from fleeting glimpses

The shape of shame
The convoluted logic of leaders who bend the law
And advisors who justify abuses
Faceless ones behind the scenes
Who give orders that lead to destruction and the loss of innocents
The glad hands and smiles
Which mask the role
Of those deceitful ones who supply war machines
Or enable surveillance

The shape of Freedom
Strong tree it has sometimes been
Can it stand against the winds that are supposed to keep it safe,
The rains of disbelief the tree could fall?

The shape of Peace
Battered and bruised
Outstretching a hand
Desperate for a healing touch
Only desiring ministrations enough
To resume ministering to others

The shape of the future
We cannot see as yet
We see shadows and pray
We pray the shadows will dissipate,
That the times still unfolding
Will be shaped with care (not cunning)
And we pray The Deity
For Wisdom, Grace, Protection
As the coming days take shape

Monday, November 9, 2015

Equality Begins With Respect, And... (with update)

Will we ever get there?

Have you good readers been following events at the University of Missouri?  The African-American football players are striking and they and others are demanding that the President Wolfe resign over nonresponse to a climate of racism.

NPR News published two statements, one by a Missou student and another by a faculty member.  I was almost in tears reading them.  These ladies projected both grace and faith.  I was especially saddened to know that the faculty member had been called racial epithets by - other faculty members.  To me that is almost unbelievable.  Please take the time to read their statements here .

This follows revelations such as the OSU racist chant controversy.  There was also an article in The Guardian by a Boston U. Student who detailed some racist incidents at the University and its environs.  All I can think of is: if this is happening in academia, which should be more open to diversity, my goodness what must be happening elsewhere?

I'm continually stunned to think: here it is, 2015 and we're STILL dealing with this?  Have we not grown up?  Did some of us not get the memo about: "all men (and women) are created equal"? Did someone miss the Civil Rights movement, not learn Dr. King's dream?  What's going on here?  Why are we still so eager to belittle others?  I have a suspicion that the economic downturn of the past few years may be playing a part, as folks try to find convenient targets for their displeasure.  I keep hoping folks would look to blame the real sources of economic problems!

That said, if we want to form a basis for true equality, I feel it has to begin with simple respect. Is that really so hard?  Is not calling names and being civil to people really asking so much?  Do most of us not learn the "Golden Rule"?  Hey, it has been taught in many faith traditions!  

To give an example, let me tell a true story.  Now even for the non-Irish, don't most of us learn it's disrepectful to wear orange on St. Patrick's Day?  Well, my late Mother came down to breakfast one St. Patrick's Day in - you guessed it - an orange outfit. Well, she could be stubborn, and it took both me and my late Father to convince her that this wasn't a good and respectful idea; she finally did change before leaving to teach.  Point is:  I'll bet most everyone wouldn't dream of wearing orange on St. Patrick's Day.  So why would we consider or condone hurling a racial epithet at anyoneAnd why allow racist symbols in gov't spaces for another thing?  There was a fine c-span discussion about the confederate flag and two things in it stood out for me:  the one panelist, Prof. Spencer Crew, said that seeing the confederate flag fly on gov't property was to him like a slap in the face, and that those who cling to this symbol need to know that it had been hijacked as a racist symbol.  The other takeway was that the other panelist said that removing things like monuments may not always be the best idea; but supplying other historical and educational stories at those sites might be more productive (I think that was Mr. Rubenstein).  You can view the discussion right here !

Simple acts of respect can mean a lot and can do much to clear the sometimes polarized climate of our society today.  But that's only a start.  We need to start building each other up and stop tearing each other down if we want an equal and just society.  We need to look beyond superficial differences and start seeing common humanity and common citizenship. And then start working as equal partners to address the problems that we as a nation, and a world, face.

I was really stunned to read of the confrontation between the U. Missouri protesters and the press - especially one of their own student journalists!  How sad.  They had really come so far, really shone a light on the problems there, the leadership will be changing, there will be some sort of diversity classes offered there in the future I heard.  Then they spoil their good work by disrespecting the press!  The press they had previously been calling for, according to the commenter in the news video at the following link.  They also have a strong journalism program she noted, so they should have known better (especially the professor).  Didn't they note that Freedom of the Press is part of the First Amendment -- just as is Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of Religion? I'm not sure what they were hoping to accomplish with that attitude; I would have thought they would have wanted to be inclusive and show the media exactly that. Actions such as their treatment of reporters will cost them sympathy of those who might otherwise be inclined to be in their corner.  I just hope it doesn't completely undo the good that has been done so far.

link:  Missouri protesters vs. student reporter  

Related Posts: 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Making Peace is Like...

...a duet for two pianos and two pianists.
Think about it: 
  • In Tune -- obviously both pianos need to be tuned and in tune with each other; both parties to a conflict must get on the same page and want to work for peace
  • Safeguards --  both pianos must be kept safe, free from things such as theft and vandalism - and of course both pianists must be kept healthy and safe ahead of the performance; both parties to a conflict must foster an atmosphere that will support talk instead of more violence
  • Homework -- the pianists must practice the duet, practicing their individual parts and also practicing together; both parties to a conflict must commit to doing the work of discussing and laying the groundwork for peace
  • Listening -- the pianists must listen to each other in order to coordinate their music (hey, didn't Arlo Guthrie say as much in one of his PBS shows?); both parties to a conflict must listen to each other's concerns and priorities as the details of an agreement are worked out
  • Harmony  -- the performance might seem effortless, but it is the hard work of preparation which pays off in delighting the audience; the achievement of a peace agreement is certainly also the result of hard work and preparation, and pays off in a more harmonious reality for both parties
 Let's begin hoping that leaders take peacemaking - and music - lessons.  With the U.S. saying it will send special forces personnel to Syria; the continued fighting in the Middle East and some other places, I think we'd ALL do well to work for peace. Are you REALLY listening, world leaders?  Get with the program!

Friday, October 30, 2015

It's Birthday Time...

Incredibly, a year has gone by very quickly and it's time again to send Happy Birthday wishes to our Founding Father and Second President, John Adams!

Even though I still haven't finished David McCullough's excellent biography, I have learned a bit more about Mr. Adams.  According to Danielle Allen, author of Our Declaration, Adams was instrumental in the appearance of "happiness" in  "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  We should all second that one!

I believe he also appreciated poetry..."You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket." (from a letter to John Quincy Adams)

A Legacy of Vision

His spectacles may reside in Peacefield,
No longer needed as this public servant has taken his rest
But his independent vision can still inspire us
If we will set our minds free
         ...dedicated to John Adams

Thursday, October 29, 2015

UPDATE!!! Reply From C-Span Re: "Afghanistan 1982" and MSF Hospital Bombing

Is anyone there???

Believe it or not I just got a reply from a C-Span journalist to the e-mail I sent them regarding their airing of the Reel America segment, "Afghanistan 1982"  You will remember from my older post, MSF Hospital Bombing - INDEPENDENT Inquiry Needed - Updated Again!     

This particular update: 
I was tuning in to a C-Span (American History TV) program and saw a blurb about one of their "Reel America" segments that is supposed to air a few times today (10/10) and the next day or so. I was stunned.  What do you all make of this?  Here is the description of "Afghanistan 1982" from their website:
"This U.S. Information Agency film chronicles events in Afghanistan from the 1979 Soviet invasion until the end of 1982, and includes a 1982 interview with a Doctors Without Borders official following the Soviet bombing of hospitals."

I don't know if I'm jumping to any conclusions, but the timing of this seems QUITE odd. It just couldn't be an effort to distract from the U. S.  bombing of a MSF hospital in Afghanistan, now could it?  I e-mailed C-span about this and will update if I get a response.  What are your thoughts, readers?  I have NOT so far heard anything from C-Span.  Anyone have a take on this?

I have just received a reply from C-Span's Richard Hall, a video journalist.  He indicated that the program was selected weeks in advance.  He also said they receive no government money and would have no interest in defending government actions.

I have sent the following follow-up e-mail to Mr. Hall.  And I will update if I get a response.

Dear Richard –

First of all, thank you for replying.  I appreciate you taking the time to do that.However, your reply does raise more questions in my mind.

The first one being:  if “Afghanistan 1982” was selected weeks before the Kunduz MSF Hospital bombing, why wasn’t it dropped from the schedule after that event?  In my mind, the timing was quite insensitive.
The second one being: you asked why c-pan would be interested in defending the actions of the government, as you get no government money.  I’m sorry to say that I wonder more and more about the coziness of the media and the government.  It was the part of the blurb about the show that really caught my notice – the part about the Russians bombing an MSF hospital.  I’m sure you’re knowledgeable about how things can very subtly be gotten across via media messages.  I have to wonder if this was some subtle way of saying ---- “Hey, someone else did something---- look at them!”  Maybe that was the case, maybe that wasn’t, but it surely raised the question in my mind. Again, I do appreciate your time.


Your thoughts, readers???

Sunday, October 18, 2015

What's Going On With Google/Blogger?

There are strange things happening with Blogger/Google.  I'm getting very concerned about privacy and security.

I'm not sure at this point if I will move the blogs or even continue them, as I seem to get little support, sadly.  I really try to put out some meaningful posts and information, but it's getting harder and harder to keep going with no comments (not even argumentative ones), no feedback, and having gotten so little encouragement.

Then there are developments with Google/Blogger that are really giving me pause.  It all started with a new two-page sign in a few months ago.  I don't think it will get better...

I'm just not sure what to be doing right now.

And strange things continue to happen with Blogger/Google.  When I logged in to check things, got a strange my account page.   And the forums keep changing, getting even harder to use and get help.  So I am thinking even more seriously about moving my blogs - that is ---- if anyone will read them.  Please folks, I really could use a word or two of encouragement.  Really...

Friday, October 16, 2015

Drone Documents

Sorry if I put too much onto your plates, readers, but this is HUGE:

The Intercept has a series of stories provided by a security agency whistleblower  (the source) providing some details of drone strikes and targeted killings.  I don't think I've read every story, but I have read several and they are chilling.  The disregard for things like due process and not taking innocent civilian lives if not absolutely unavoidable is sickening.

The articles are a lot to take in.  So I'll make a few comments.  Jeremy Scahill had in his stories often termed these targeted killings - extrajudicial killings I'v often used - as assassinations; something that sounds pretty UNlawful to me. Scahill points out at the beginning of story #1, The Assassination Complex, that the POLICY is assassination and Congress has not legislated about nor even defined "assassination." I think we should all take that point and look again at a root cause and make sure we address this underlying mentality that seems to be creeping into the gov't-military-industrial complex.

And I'll reiterate, I HATE drones.  My feeling is SCRAP THEM ALL!!! At least it would make "assassinations" harder to accomplish.  "The military is easily capable of adapting to change, but they don’t like to stop anything they feel is making their lives easier, or is to their benefit. And this certainly is, in their eyes, a very quick, clean way of doing things. It’s a very slick, efficient way to conduct the war, without having to have the massive ground invasion mistakes of Iraq and Afghanistan,” the source said. “But at this point, they have become so addicted to this machine, to this way of doing business, that it seems like it’s going to become harder and harder to pull them away from it the longer they’re allowed to continue operating in this way."

Let's not forget also, that there are spy drones NOW in the U. S. and that North Dakota has ok'd drones with non-lethal weapons.  We need to take this seriously, folks.

And PLEASE - would someome comment so I know actual people not robots are reading this? I really need/want to know if this is still worthwile.   I feell as though I'm begging - but some word of encouragament or feedback or something would mean so much.  I try to give good content here - I really do; but is it kinda lonely ----- some company would be so appreciated. 

Related Posts:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

"Just Hand Over Your Money 2" - Bigger Issue? UPDATED!

In considering fantasy sports sites and the controversy now surrounding two of them, I have two reactions. 

First, I'm glad that people are paying attention to this issue. Let's keep the heat on as their pitfalls become more and more evident.  The problems are starting to become all too real. Here's a statement from The Council on Compulsive Gambling of NJ.  Also check out this article.

Call this "breaking news" - well, while doing some unrelated searched, I came across a headline and WOW! Had to finish and publish this post.  There is an investigation. Will be watching this one, for sure!  There seem to be so many breaking developments!  Nevada is shutting down the sites from doing business in their state.  And a fan is suing!

Second, it has occurred to me that there is a larger issue we should be discussing. Our society seems to be preoccupied with gambling (irrespective of whether we call fantasy sports sites 'gambling sites' or not).  Think about it.

All but 6 of our 50 states have lotteries.There are also multi-state lotteries.  But the revenues they produce often don't match promises, and can be funneled away from their intended targets.  They also hurt low-income folks.  This article has a good overview.

There also seems to be a proliferation of casinos. This story speaks of casino proliferation and the challenge of funding treatment for problem gamblers.

We must hope that this controversy helps to raise awareness of the pitfalls surrounding fantasy sports sites and the larger issue of gambling in our society (and in other parts of the world, too).  The cost can be all too human.  I remember that on the one cruise (and are there any cruise ships without an onboard casino?) I went on, my cousin and I met a woman whose husband was a problem gambler. She said it had really taken a toll on their lives.  Let's hope we can find resources to lead folks in more positive directions.

Related Post (Just in case you missed the original or updates...)

MSF Hospital Bombing - INDEPENDENT Inquiry Needed - UPDATED AGAIN!

We cannot let the attack on the civilian MSF (Medicins Sans Frontieres)  hospital in Afghanistan just "go away."  If you have truly read the accounts, it should be clear that this was NO accident.  Let's remember that the GPS coordinates were given to both sides and  that the hospital was bombed precisely several times while the MSF staff called DC to plead for it to stop. Thanks to a gal commenting on TI for this tweet showing there were NO other targets in the vicinity of the hospital!

MSF has called for an independent, impartial, and transparent inquiry.  Sorry, but we CANNOT trust the U. S. military, NATO and all to investigate themselves.  And we must all denounce this. International MSF President, Dr.  Joanne Liu, has called this an "attack on the Geneva Conventions."  True accountability must be demanded and received (though maybe we shouldn't hold our collective breath).  

Read about  this reaction of the MSF.  I wasn't originally going to post this link, but here's Greenwald again, with another worthwhile read.  I felt it was worth including here when it occurred to me, why is the U.S. hemming and hawing about a real, independent investigation?  What is that old line again - "If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear"?  So what is the U.S. afraid of?

We must stand with MSF and the victims.  We must add to the call for a real, impartial and independent inquiry.  We should accept no less.  MSF has a site and social media campaign going.  Since I'm not on facebook,instagram, or twitter, not sure how I can help in this ---- any ideas???


I was tuning in to a C-Span (American History TV) program and saw a blurb about one of their "Reel America" segmentsthat is supposed to air a few times today (10/10) and the next day or so. I was stunned.  What do you all make of this?  Here is the description of "Afghanistan 1982" from their website:
"This U.S. Information Agency film chronicles events in Afghanistan from the 1979 Soviet invasion until the end of 1982, and includes a 1982 interview with a Doctors Without Borders official following the Soviet bombing of hospitals."

I don't know if I'm jumping to any conclusions, but the timing of this seems QUITE odd. It just couldn't be an effort to distract from the U. S.  bombing of a MSF hospital in Afghanistan, now could it?  I e-mailed C-span about this and will update if I get a response.  What are your thoughts, readers?  I have NOT so far heard anything from C-Span.  Anyone have a take on this?


The International Humanitarian Fact Finding Committee is ready and willing to investigate, but would need the ok of the U. S. and Afghanistan.  But the U. S. is so far signalling they will NOT ok cooperartion. Can you believe it?  From the article:
At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest signaled that the administration would oppose an IHFCC investigation.
“The administration has confidence that the investigation that is currently under way by the Department of Defense will provide the full accounting of the situation that the president has asked for,” Earnest said.  It sounds to me as though this is a case of asking a fox to investigate that disappearance of some chickens from the coop.  I am ashamed of this incident and angry at the hubris that our government won't be fully transparent with international agencies.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Can There Be Justice for Tamir Rice?

Is there no shame?

The release of "expert reports" on the death of Tamir Rice (12 year old killed by police in Cleveland, OH) is a clear affront to all of us.  It is also an affront that the prosecutor, Timothy McGinty, will not be giving a grand jury any recommendation.  But let us turn to the two reports and the remarks of their authors, a Ms. Crawford and a Mr. Sims.

I find the remarks of retired FBI Special Agent Kimberly Crawford particularly galling.  “The relevant inquiry is whether a reasonable officer … could have concluded that deadly force is necessary,” she wrote. “It is my conclusion that Officer Loehmann’s use of deadly force falls within the realm of reasonableness under the dictates of the fourth amendment.”  REALLY?  The officer concluded deadly force was necessary AND started shooting within TWO seconds of pulling up.  Is that REASONABLE?  Not in my book.  

Then there's Lamar Sims, Chief Deputy D. A. in Denver.  Well, at least he did call it a tragedy (see Guardian article).  But  from this story
get this:  "The officers did not create the violent situation," Sims wrote in his review. "They were responding to a situation fraught with the potential for violence to citizens."  What's wrong with this?  It was NOT a violent situation until the cops showed up and started firing within two seconds! NO effort to assess the situation was made nor was there ANY attempt at de-escalation if it did seem to have a potential for violence.

I find it outrageous that "law enforcement  is so bent on evading accountability.  Echoing my thoughts is a lawyer for the Rice family:   "These supposed ‘experts’ – all pro-police – dodge the simple fact that the officers rushed Tamir and shot him immediately without assessing the situation,” Chandra said."  We must stand up for accountability by those who are supposed to "protect and serve."  We must demand that the legal system be made more transparent and fair, especially for those so often marginalized.  Our society - that is, all of us - deserves no less.

Don't forget - would love to hear from you readers.  Comments would be so welcome.  And also, as I saw on other sites ----- "sharing is caring": so sharing posts would also be quite appreciated.

And here's a new feature which I may trot out from time to time: "Some Related Posts" where I invite you to peruse some posts from the archives.

Some Related Posts: 
Your turn, readers - how about it? 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Need Your Nelp!

Dear Readers:

I do believe there are some of you out there; thanks for visiting. I know there have been page views and I hope readers will explore other posts and also return.  Getting some comments would be great, so as I've said before please don't be shy!  I really would love to hear from you.  REALLY.  Comments and conversations would be most welcome!  I blog to create awareness and discussion of issues, for creative expression sometimes, and of course, to connect with others - so communication from readers would be extremely helpful!

Also, while digesting the updates to some recent posts, please also consider helping by:

  • sharing a post  --- there are share buttons at the end of each post.
  • ssubscribing via e-mail ---- there's a quick form on the right sidebar.  Would be lovely to know that there are actually subscribers who would get posts right to their inboxes.
  • or subscribing via Atom;  if anyone uses that; there's a link at the bottom of the page.
 And the same is true for my other blog, Daisies and Diamonds! All are welcome to visit there as well.

So let me know what's going on with you and also help spread The View From Here.

Monday, October 5, 2015

MSF Hospital Bombing (Updated Again!)

I'm sure most of you have heard of the bombing of the Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) hospital in Afghanistan.

I can only add my own outrage and sorrow over this tragedy and what I believe to be a war crime.

Here is an article from The Guardian.  There is also the Glenn Greenwald article from The Intercept, which is worth reading.  How can we even begin to justify this?  Considering that this comes on the heels of warning the Russians about civilian casualties and the bombing of a wedding in Yemen by the coalition led by the Saudis, as Greenwald points out. I can absolutely find no justification nor excuse for this. NONE.

And we also need to see the bigger picture.  We humans better STOP killing each other.  The future will be quite grim if we don't.


BUSTED!!! Are you, dear readers, noticing how the U. S.  is changing its story?  Hmmmm - when a suspect to a crime does that, it usually means...

For an updated view, Greenwald again.  In the article is also the link to another one - about a couple of media outlets obfuscating what happened. 

Say WHAT?  The U. S. changed its story yet again.  Read about it and take note of how the "official line" has been changing.   And I agree with MSF - this is a war crime.