Jan 16 2018

House Or Hole? Does It Matter?

You know, I actually saw the Commodores in concert long after they were even a D-List ticket (New Year’s is not the same without Kathy Griffin and Andersen, your boyfriend is a dope).

Actually, although I’ve been given free reign to demonstrate my 20 year old vocabulary (I swear, I took an Internet survey!) I have chosen not to. Instead I bring you tales from the North that illustrate why enlightened people are hesitant to allow unrestricted immigration from s___hole countries.

Oh, I’m talking about the United States of course.

Norwegians suffer from desperate shortage of parking, will come to America in droves
by Lloyd Alter, Treehugger
January 12, 2018

The President of the United States, discussing immigration, recently said “We should have more people from Norway.” This is a wonderful gesture; he must have been spending his executive time watching the shocking Streetfilms documentary Oslo: The Journey to Car-free and learned about the tragic destruction of parking spaces there.

Unlike America, where cars are Liberty Machines that give people the freedom to drive and park wherever they want, in Oslo, everybody is walking and cycling. They must be exhausted; when Emma Lazarus wrote “Give me your tired” for the Statue of Liberty, she must have meant Norwegians.

The executive officer of the bicycle program says that “Norwegians are used to using their bodies to get around.” How primitive, that’s what people did a thousand years ago.

Unlike in the United States, where bike lanes provide convenient parking and loading for cars, they can’t do that in Oslo. There appear to be no placard privileges or any of the normal rights that drivers have in the States. Drivers almost seem oppressed. And the buses! There are so many of them, and everybody knows that buses are horrible.

When you look at the people who are forced to walk everywhere because the parking has been stolen, they all look so skinny and pale. And clearly, they have no public education about the dangers of not wearing helmets, of looking at screens, of wearing headphones. It is like they are from another era, before people knew better.

The city is noisy and dirty as they actually take away all the parking and give the space to people who walk and bike. It is like a step back to the 19th century, it’s so primitive. It’s a great thing that the President is inviting in all the tired Norwegians. They will come in droves for all the parking.

Yes, ignore the 40,860 Euro (net after Taxes) median wage, free health care, and other amenities of a modern developed nation, along with the spectacular vistas and excellent skiing. Who wouldn’t trade that to fight for a spot next to a pile of garbage that’s still three blocks away from where you want to be?

Bunch of Socialist Sissies.

Oslo, Norway, is giving residents $1200 toward purchasing an electric cargo bike
by Derek Markham, Treehugger
February 15, 2017

Getting around on a bicycle can be an excellent way to clean up our daily commutes and errand runs, but sometimes you need a little bit of a boost, which is where electric bikes come in. And sometimes you need a little more space to haul groceries and gear with you, which is where cargo bikes come in. Combine the two, and you’ve got an efficient and fun way to not only get from point A to point B, but to also get the shopping home in a single trip without having to stack boxes and bags on your rear rack until you’re wobbling your way precariously down the road (been there, done that).

The capital of Norway, Oslo, is looking to get more of its citizens out of their cars and onto bikes, and more specifically, onto a set of wheels that is made to haul more than just a single person, in the form of grants covering part of the cost of an electric cargo bike. Last year, the city council offered residents a financial incentive toward buying an electric bike, up to 20% of the purchase price of an e-bike, capped at 5000 kroner (about $600). Now that effort has been extended a bit into an electric cargo bike grant program, which will cover part of the cost of purchase of one of these electric workhorses.

According to the Oslo Council, residents can apply for a grant for up to 25% of the purchase of an electric cargo bike, capped at 10,000 kroner, or $1,200, through its Climate and Energy Fund. This subsidy won’t help those who can’t come up with the rest of the purchase price of an electric cargo bike, which can run anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 kroner ($2,400 to $6,000), but it’s certainly a decent incentive to those who might be leaning toward buying one anyway. City Lab reports that Oslo has experienced poor air quality recently, causing the city to place a temporary driving ban on diesel-fueled vehicles, and this financial support for a cleaner transport option might help push people toward choosing a more efficient mode of getting to work and to the market and home again.

Jan 16 2018

The Russian Connection: Kazakhstan Chromium

On her MSNBC show ‘s opening segment last night, host Rachel Maddow connected the dots between the Trump organization and a toxic chromium mine if the land locked country of Kazakhstan.

“This is chromium, atomic number 24,” Maddow noted at the beginning of her show. “You need chromium to make stainless steel, it’s a useful, necessary thing in modern life. Mining and processing it, though, tend to be very, very toxic enterprises.”

“Mark Champion at Bloomberg News just did a report on how toxic and dire the conditions are at that facility, but he also got the simple sad story of the finances of that place, and how the finances of that place — that produces a third of the chromium in the world — ended up connected to the President of the United States.”

How a Trump SoHo Partner Ended Up With Toxic Mining Riches From Kazakhstan

By Mark Champion, Bloomberg News

Green smoke paints the landscape on the outskirts of Aktobe, the hub of a Central Asian mining empire that produces a third of the world’s chromium — the essential ingredient in stainless steel.

Locals say that the air gets so bad in summer it’s hard to breathe. Industrial waste contaminates the groundwater.

All of this starts at the Aktyubinsk Chromium Chemicals Plant (AZXS), a Nikita Khrushchev-era complex. It shares an industrial zone with a vast smelting plant; together, they have yielded lavish private wealth since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In one sense, it’s a familiar snapshot of post-Soviet capitalism: state assets bought for a song, workers saying they were cheated out of shares and connected businessmen getting wildly rich.

This story, however, carves a path from near Kazakhstan’s northern border with Russia to the offshore financial centers of the Caribbean, to London and all the way to Trump property in Midtown Manhattan.

How and why funds from former Soviet states flowed into Trump-branded real estate has been the focus of speculation since the start of the 2016 presidential campaign. One theory, propounded by opponents of President Donald Trump is that his admiration for Russia’s Vladimir Putin comes down to money, a suggestion Trump has forcefully denied.

Still, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is digging into Trump’s business dealings, and the scramble for Kazakhstan’s chromium riches may fill in a piece of that puzzle. Company records, court filings and interviews in Kazakhstan and London suggest millions of dollars from the Aktobe plant wound their way to the U.S. and a development company with which Trump partnered to build a controversial Trump SoHo hotel-condominium complex in Manhattan.

Jan 16 2018

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Know-Nothings for the 21st Century

These days calling someone a “know-nothing” could mean one of two things.

If you’re a student of history, you might be comparing that person to a member of the Know Nothing party of the 1850s, a bigoted, xenophobic, anti-immigrant group that at its peak included more than a hundred members of Congress and eight governors. More likely, however, you’re suggesting that said person is willfully ignorant, someone who rejects facts that might conflict with his or her prejudices.

The sad thing is that America is currently ruled by people who fit both definitions. And the know-nothings in power are doing all they can to undermine the very foundations of American greatness.

The parallels between anti-immigrant agitation in the mid-19th century and Trumpism are obvious. Only the identities of the maligned nationalities have changed.

Eugene Robinson: Republicans, do you want a race-based immigration system, too?

President Trump’s intent could not be more explicit: He wants immigration policies that admit white people and shut the door to black and brown people. That is pure racism — and the Republican Party, which traces its heritage to the Abraham Lincoln era, must decide whether to go along.

Silly me. The GOP seems to have made its choice, judging by the weaselly response from most of the Republicans who were in the Oval Office on Thursday when Trump made vile and nakedly racist remarks. [..]

A century ago, there were nativists who railed against Irish, Italian and Eastern European immigration, claiming that unwashed hordes from poor countries were “mongrelizing” the nation. We now have a president who rejects American ideals of diversity and inclusion in favor of racial purity.

Sens. Cotton and Perdue, Secretary Nielsen, Reps. McCarthy and Goodlatte, do you want a race-based immigration system, too? Please don’t pretend you didn’t hear the question.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 16 2018

The Breakfast Club (Impossible To Ignore)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

Start of Operation Desert Storm; Space Shuttle Columbia lifts off; Prohibition takes effect; Shah of Iran flees into exile; musical “Hello Dolly” opens.

Breakfast Tunes

Dolores O’Riodan (6 September 1971 – 15 January 2018)

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future.

Dian Fossey

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Jan 15 2018

Every Day Is Exactly The Same.

Have I mentioned I’m a Buddhist recently? Not as a religion, more as a philosophy.

I believe I can see the future because I repeat the same routine.
I think I used to have a purpose, then again, that might have been a dream.

I think I used to have a voice. Now I never make a sound.
I just do what I’ve been told, I really don’t want them to come around, oh no.

Every day is exactly the same.
Every day is exactly the same.
There is no love here and there is no pain.
Every day is exactly the same.

I can feel their eyes are watching, in case I lose myself again.
Sometimes I think I’m happy here. Sometimes… yet I still pretend.

I’m writing on a little piece of paper I’m hoping someday you might find.
I’m still inside here, a little bit comes bleeding through.
I wish this could have been any other way.
But I just don’t know, I don’t know what else I can do.

Side Effects include- anger, anxiety, behavior changes, discouragement, feeling sad or empty, feelings of panic, irritability, loss of interest or pleasure, mood swings, seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there, thoughts of killing oneself.

Smoke free (well, that kind) since 1999. Just what I’d prescribe for someone with clinical Depression and Anxiety.

Men are Dogs

More Sciencey!

Men are Dogs Part 3

Men are Dogs Part 4

Every Day Is Exactly The Same

Weekend Update

Weekend Update Part 2

Phil? Phil Connors?!

Three short, three long, three short. Just blink it out Mika.

Jan 15 2018

Birmingham Jail

Fifty years ago Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Room 306.

Now we have an avowed racist in the White House.

Some people think between his death and that of Robert Kennedy it was the end of hope. I agree.

The King family and others believe the assassination was the result of a conspiracy involving the U.S. government, Mafia and Memphis police, as alleged by Loyd Jowers in 1993, and that Ray was a scapegoat. In 1999, the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Jowers for the sum of $10 million. During closing arguments, their attorney asked the jury to award damages of $100, to make the point that “it was not about the money”. During the trial, both sides presented evidence alleging a government conspiracy. The government agencies accused could not defend themselves or respond because they were not named as defendants. Based on the evidence, the jury concluded Jowers and others were “part of a conspiracy to kill King” and awarded the family $100. The allegations and the finding of the Memphis jury were later rejected by the United States Department of Justice in 2000 due to lack of evidence.

I like to re-publish this letter from Birmingham Jail because I think it a very clear statement of what the struggle is and what we must do today.

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of “somebodiness” that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides–and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: “Get rid of your discontent.” Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action.

It’s easy to forget that Martin Luther King Jr.’s message was not directed only at African Americans, but at all of us equally. I am the whitest guy you will ever meet, just ask TMC, and he speaks for me and to me. When he was assassinated he was working on the Poor People’s Campaign, not a race thing, a class thing. What made him particularly reviled and despised was not his opposition to discrimination and bigotry, but to the imperialistic impulse of the Vietnam War (and yes, Tonkin Gulf was a deliberate and direct lie that exactly presages the War Of Terror we are prosecuting today).

Why direct action? It is the only thing left to do.

This is a struggle about the 82 8 6 people who claim over half the world’s wealth. Watch your back assholes, there are waaay more of us than there are of you.

Jan 15 2018

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Charles M. Blow: Trump Is a Racist. Period.

I find nothing more useless than debating the existence of racism, particularly when you are surrounded by evidence of its existence. It feels to me like a way to keep you fighting against the water until you drown.

The debates themselves, I believe, render a simple concept impossibly complex, making the very meaning of “racism” frustratingly murky.

So, let’s strip that away here. Let’s be honest and forthright.

Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. These beliefs are racial prejudices.

The history of America is one in which white people used racism and white supremacy to develop a racial caste system that advantaged them and disadvantaged others.

Understanding this, it is not a stretch to understand that Donald Trump’s words and deeds over the course of his life have demonstrated a pattern of expressing racial prejudices that demean people who are black and brown and that play to the racial hostilities of other white people.

LonnieG. Bunch III: This was Martin Luther King Jr.’s most ambitious dream

I was 14 when my parents took my brother and me to Washington to witness the masses gathering there. It was the spring of 1968, and thousands of African Americans, American Indians, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Asian Americans and poor whites from across the country had made their way to the Mall to protest the thing they all had in common: poverty.

They came by train, bus and car caravans. Some traveled by mule carts. They came from farm towns, big cities, the Appalachian hills and Native American reservations. It was the start of the Poor People’s Campaign. [..]

And they brought the nation’s attention to the crippling effects of poverty — and issued a demand for jobs, training, health care and affordable housing. This was the mission of Resurrection City — the final vision of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and, perhaps, his most ambitious dream.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 15 2018

The Breakfast Club (We Have A Dream)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

Martin Luther King, Junior born;Richard Nixon suspends U.S. offensive in Vietnam;Queen Elizabeth the First crowned;Work completed on Pentagon;first Super Bowl takes place.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 14 2018

Throwball Divisional Playoffs 2018: Aints at Eekings

I probably shouldn’t say this as I am 0 – 3 in picks this weekend, but I have a bit of residual sympathy for the Aints based on Katrina.

On the other hand it would be mildly interesting to see the Eeks at home against the Patsies in the LII Bowl.

What decides it in my mind is that the Eeks play in the same division as my favoritest team of all, The Green Bay Packers, who got a raw deal when Aaron Rogers, the best Quarterback in Throwball (suck on that Brady), went down for the season (we’ll not count that horrible day they rushed him back to play AMA), so it’s hard to root for them.

Anyway Aints all the way. Redeem my lousy tips.

Do you think I take this seriously? I don’t.

Jan 14 2018

Throwball Divisional Playoffs 2018: Jaguars at Steelers

I kind of like the Steelers because sometimes they can be a team of destiny and might have a better chance of beating the Patsies for the American Throwball Conference Championship and I hate the Patsies.

Besides, Pittsburg is a s___hole and I suppose they deserve something.

The Jaguars are just an average team and I don’t feel any particular way about them though Jacksonville is also a s___hole.

So it’s hard to care or even watch this festival of brain damage and steroid abuse.

I guess that makes me un United Statesian. Maybe I should take a knee.

So Jaguars? Steelers? Pick one based on the colors of their uniform.

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