Monday, October 31, 2016

Calling Banks Re: No DAPL (Updated)

  Greetings - if  anyone other than referral spammers are around that is...

I have probably mentioned here that my browser home page is and has been for a while now.  They have lots of breaking news and also "views" written by various authors.

I was very recently skimming the list of recent views and happened across this article detailing banks that have been helping finance the infamous DAPL and their contact info.  The idea is to contact them, explain why DAPL is a horrible idea and see if they can be persuaded to pressure the developers into dropping this project.  Kudos to author Emily 
Fuller for compiling this info.

Since it's not very feasible for me to get to ND to help protest (and seeing what the water protectors are going through (I'm not sure I'm that brave), here was something I actually could DO.  I picked out three banks and made the phone calls earlier today.  My experience follows!

The first bank I contacted was Wells Fargo.  When I called, the first thing the lady receptionist asked of me was to give my first and last names.  I told her she didn't need my names.  I told her why I was calling  - that I thought there were more worthy projects they could help finance; also that I was horrified by how the protesters have been treated.  It may have gotten off to a rocky start but she did listen patiently.  She said they couldn't talk about client relations but she would document my concerns and pass them on.  I told her that was just fine and thanked her.  So I think I can be at least somewhat satisfied at that result.

The second bank I had chosen was Citibank.  This lady I spoke with was also quite patient and I went over pretty much the same basic concerns.  She asked if I wanted a call back from someone.  Well, with me that can be a mess, so I told her I wouldn't mind getting a response by e-mail.  Again, she wanted both names, but I only gave my one e-mail address.  Thanked her for her time (she was quite pleasant) and felt at least semi-good about this contact as well.  I haven't received a response yet, but will update if (and that's a big if with these companies) I get one.

Now before I go into my experience with bank # 3, are you noticing how they wanted a name, and both names at that?  I'll grant there may be times when they may need that info, but NOT right away and not if someone is only calling (or e-mailing) to express concerns or give feedback.  I really get wary of them wanting personal info when it's really not necessary.

Now, my experience with the last bank is really a kicker.  That one was TD Securities.  The receptionist (and said he he was the "switchboard worker") was not helpful at all.  This gentleman said he could NOT help unless I could tell him the first/last name of the TD person I wished to contact. I asked if he could even connect me with a department - say, PR.  He said he had no information to do that, just a list of names to go by (and I hadn't written down the name of the CEO,  just the phone number!). I told him this wasn't very helpful as probably there are folks who might call but might not know a specific name.  So put this contact down as unsuccessful.

Well, that's the scorecard for today.  I'm deciding if I want to note that TD CEO's name and try again tomorrow - or even make another contact or two.  Who knows?  But even doing this little bit of solidarity action today against this DAPL was at least trying something!


I did actually decide to try again to leave some message at TD Securities.  What a frustrating experience that was.  The only name given in the above article was that of the CEO so I noted that and called again.  I first got a female operator and we went back and forth about the spelling of his name... she finally connected me - to someone I thoiught might work in his offfice, but no.  After speaking to this fellow for a moment, he said I needed to speak to this other division and transferred me.  What I got was some automated system about investments and when I TRIED to get a human, they wanted me to create a voice print.  Well, none of that! I immediately hung up and called back, getting a male operator this time.  Asked to go back to the fellow I spoke with and he absolutely would not connect me.  Said he needed BOTH names or maybe a name with a title... and I only had what he said was the fellow's last name (for that was all the fellow had given me).  Well, I told him the gal connected me to this random person!  He finally asked did I want to try the CEO's name again; so ok.  I did get to a voice mail (thoiugh at this point I'm not even suew to whom it belonged.  Left a message and just shook my head.  You can't make this up! You really seem to need a lot of luck to even leave any feedback for many companies these days. 


It's now Thurs., but at the risk of making this post too long, I just have to include the latest update as Wed., I called two more banks.

I called SunTrust at the number given for their Chief Communications Officer.  I got her voice mail right away and left a message.  The fifth bank I called was ING - their U. S. office.  I asked for the PR dep't and the gal wasn't sure about that but asked why I was calling.  I told her the DAPL and she said she would take down my concerns and indeed pass them on to the appropriate person. She did seem sincere about really doing such which made me wonder if she was somewhat sympathetic.  So I'll count that one again in the at least semi-successful column.  So I guess overall, leaving the feedback went - about as well as one might expect these days.

And PLEASE keep the protesters/water protectors in your prayers.  The situation out there is very upsetting.  Here's a link to a recent report  .

And if you have found this post  (or any other here) to be of value, please comment and/or share.  Thanks!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Birthday Time Again

Greetings again... hope someone is out there!

Well, it's time again for the annual birthday wish for our Second President, John Adams.  Yes, this is his day.  He's definitely a Founding Father we should all keep in memory.  And let's also not forget one of our Founding Mothers, his wife Abigail.  She was quite a lady and together they really made a team.

This year in celebration, here are two offerings.   A portrait collage of Mr. President and a very thoughtful quote.

So I hope somewhere in the cosmos, John Adams, you get this birthday wish.  Happy Birthday and keep praying for us on the other side!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Privacy Alerts

Greetings.  It seems as though there are continual assaults and threats to privacy now.  It should be clear that all of us need to stand together to oppose such intrusions.

Concerns include government spying, of course, but also corporate spying and data collection, which too often gets shared with law enforcement/government; far too often without a warrant or any meaningful oversight.  Some fairly recent examples:

  • AT & T developed a product and marketed it to law enforcement for access to their data... no warrant and they insisted on this being kept secret.  Read an account from common dreams .  Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said: "If companies are allowed to operate in this manner without repercussions, our democracy has no future." 
  • Google (yeah, and sometimes I wonder about them owning blogger) over the summer changed its policy to allow ad tracking to link to personal, identifiable info.  Shame on them!!!  Read about this - and how to disable it .
  •  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram gave special access to a company called Geofeedia, a company that has a very controversial marketing design. From a report at The Guardian:  "The ACLU previously found that Geofeedia’s marketing materials have referred to unions and activists as “overt threats” and that the company told police its product can help track the “Ferguson situation”. One California police department allegedly used the software to monitor South Asian, Muslim and Sikh protesters, the ACLU said."  Read the article here .
  •  A report by the AP found that LE officers have been know to abuse access to databases - databases which contain personal information. 
  •  This report says HALF, that's right HALF of U.S. adults are in facial recognition databases.  This should concern all of us due to privacy, profiling and potential abuse concerns.  There arr also concerns that facial recognition may not be the most accurate and thus could wreak havoc if someone might be misidentified in certain situations.
  • And we all should be concerned about the "internet of things."  Data can be shared with - who knows - and such devices can also be  hacked.  Now, be warned there is adult content - but here are two related reports:  something was phoning home and related lawsuit.  
  • And don't forget about yahoo allowing the gov't to scan e-mails.  One has to wonder if any other provider is/was also doing that.  
Well, I suppose that's something to think about for now.  Be aware, spread the word, and let's all stand up for privacy.

P. S.  Let's keep the protesters/water defenders protesting the DAPL in our prayers.  The latest report shows outragous police brutality against peaceful protesters.

And if you found this post to be of value, please share and/or comment!  Thanks.

Monday, October 24, 2016

R. I. P. Tom Hayden

Too soon gone for sure; it's sad to note the passing of icon Tom Hayden.  I'll admit I really didn't know all that much about him, but reading the articles recounting his life in the wake of this loss for all of us really gave me an appreciation of his contributions.

He really was a fighter and true advocate for left/ progressive causes.  He kept up his activism throughout his days. He was committed to working for peace, racial justice, economic and social justice, and was also concerned about environmental causes.

The Guardian has a good overview of his life.  I first learned of his death via a report on, which is my homepage.

Their article is fairly short, but is worth reading.  This quote still rings true today:

"If we appear to seek the unattainable, as it has been said, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable," reads the conclusion of the Port Huron manifesto, which Hayden drafted in 1962 for the leftist organization Students for a Democratic Society.

Included in the common dreams report are some tweets memorializing Mr. Hayden.  I really love this one from a John Nichols:  "Tom Hayden sought a multi-racial, anti-sexist, LGBTQ-embracing radical movement that anticipated our best politics."  That sounds very much what I so often advocate right here!

So Rest in Peace, Tom Hayden.  You really fought the good fight.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Little Thing Called "The First Amendment" - Updated!

Do you know what week it will be from 10/17 - 10/23?  Hint - the title of this post might give a clue...
It's Free Speech Week.  All are encouraged to celebrate Free Speech in any number of ways. So Speak out!

I found out about FSW while researching this post - about a little something we call the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution.  Do you know what your rights are?  Do you know there are threats to them?  We need to be aware of such challenges and stand together against them and for their continued exercise.

  To begin: a short reminder of the contents of this important text:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Let's consider some recent developments regarding these Freedoms as well as some good resources.

One nice resource is the site of the Bill of Rights Institute.  They have plenty of resources and a great one is blurbs of critical Supreme Court Decisions for various Bill of Rights Issues.  However I find their site a bit hard to navigate.  And I didn't see any landmark Supreme Court cases for freedom of Religion.  However, here's a link to the Freedom of Speech, General section.  Good luck navigating!

Freedom of Religion  This is listed first.  It has been much in the news recently as concerns over Islamophobia have continued.  There are reports of armed groups opposing mosques.  That's just a very recent example.  Many news reports suggest Islamophobia is on the rise - both in the U. S. and elsewhere.  Mother Jones has an article speaking to the effect this is having on young students.

Let's remember that the fight for Religious Freedom isn't new.  Jefferson fought for the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.    We should all listen to the words of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama: “All major religious traditions carry the same message: a message of love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment, self-discipline — all religious traditions,” he continued. 

Then let's stand together in ways small and large to support Religious Freedom.  Not too long ago I met a nice lady and she and another nice gal and I were chatting (I guess I must have been in a troublemaking mood as I mentioned I quit a mailing list because of the continuing Islamophobic posts. Her reaction was  ---- well they want to kill us.  I told her that some (like the Isis militants might, but not all Muslims were like that.  From the expression on her face when I said that it seemed to be a thought she hadn't considered.  Maybe, just maybe it opened her mind even a tiny bit.

Freedom of Speech  This is next on the list. Certainly one challenge we've noted is the reaction of some to protests started by Colin Kaerpernick to kneel, sit, stand, raise a fist, or otherwise during our National Anthem to protest the treatment of African-Americans.  Some of the comments go on about this being sooooo disrespectful, so un-American,  Participants have been punished or threatened.  Do these folks even stop to think that we were founded on protest and we are supposed to be about something called FREEDOM - including freedom of speech and expression?  Here's an interesting article from common dreams about the spread of protests.  Kudos to Mr. Sherman and the DeSoto, TX School Board for supporting the students' right to protest.   From the statement at the article:  "As an institution of learning, we are charged with preparing our students to become problems solvers and productive citizens; not to stifle their innovation or rejection of complacency. None of us have the right to infringe on the rights extended to our young people as American citizens."  Unfortunately, such support isn't universal.  

An interesting aspect of Freedom of Speech is a trend for online news outlets to stop having their own online comments but go to only social media comments.  I ran across this blog post from the National Coalition Against Censorship about NPR website doing exactly that (disclosure: - I used NPR News site as my home page for a while, but never registered to comment).   The major point made is that these platforms don't have the same legal obligations to the First Amendment and may also have content limitations.  And, I might add, what about those of us who refuse to go on facebook?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

How About...

a world where:


  • hate speech is no longer a "Free Speech"  issue because folks have all rejected using such repugnant rhetoric?
  • What if the "Three R's" also mean Respect, Reasonableness, and Reconciliation?
  • people, especially those dealing with the public actually listened?
  • there's a return to honoring public spaces?
  • public infrastructure and transportation are well-maintained and readily available?
  • we pour more money into education and social services than into the military and associated industries?
  • economic inequity issues get more media coverage than political tantrums or celebrity scandals?
  • what if privacy were truly respected and we weren't surveilled or tracked all over?
  • we don't need to deal with a protracted automated customer service phone maze to get to a live person?
  • we try to live more harmoniously with our environment?
  • folks who have needed them before now have access to basic things like clean water and enough food?
  • torture and abuse are occuring so infrequently that those words are not in most people's vocabularies?
  • we seek to understand where we've been in history, but not let that determine our future path?
  • where we're really marching toward Dr. King's Dream again, even if with fitful steps (I say this because I think we've been backsliding)?
  • peace is actually breaking out all over?
  • and ------- my only worries are things such as: 'Did I play enough with my cat today?', 'Do my plants have enough water?'; and 'Is there a photo from Pluto I haven't seen yet?'

 Well, how about it?