I’m putting these two reads together because one is the effect of the mindless machine that is eating away at our better instincts and the other is an encouraging counter to that heavy intent. I’m also putting the cart before the horse, the positive article first.

That first article is from Texan Jim Hightower, who — along with Paul Begala — gives the state a good name now that Molly Ivans is gone. He writes about the community movement called Moral Monday that has grown legs. This is how we do it, now. Not riots in the streets but linked arms and sure purpose.

In the last piece, we have a report on the House legislation that attacks our continuing legacy of national parks. This makes me see red, you betcha! Nature should be our schoolroom, where we learn all we need to know about life process, but it is valued only as property and opportunity for development by those who have lost themselves. The House is, currently, lost and has no respect for the commons, the property dedicated for the use of the people.

We must not allow that to happen. We must not lose ourselves as we reclaim our good, and, in fact, may indeed ‘find ourselves’ as we align with one another to achieve it.

As Teddy Kennedy would say, “… the work begins anew.”


I Think They Can
Some of the states where the Moral Monday movement is rising are mighty steep political hills for progressives to climb.
Jim Hightower, OtherWords by CommonDreams
Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Like that little choo-choo in the classic children’s book “The Little Engine that Could,” Moral Monday is the little movement that says, “I think I can” and keeps chugging up the hill.

This new progressive coalition became a full-throttle citizen uprising in North Carolina early last year.

Fueled by rising public outrage at the rampant right-wing extremism of the Republican-run state government, a few advocates for workers, civil rights, and other people’s issues went inside North Carolina’s state capitol on a Monday in April.

Led by Rev. William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP, they literally put their bodies on the line in protest of the GOP’s reckless crusade to turn the state into a privatized utopia for unfettered corporate greed and tea party wackiness.

Several members of the small group were arrested that day, and Republican leaders berated their protest as “Moron Monday.”

To build a movement, you’ve gotta start moving.Those politicos aren’t laughing now.

The protesters kept coming and their numbers kept growing, for Moral Monday had struck a chord. The protest spread across the state. A rally in February drew more than 80,000 people, and public approval ratings for the governor and state assembly have tanked.

The legislature is now out of session, but Moral Monday still has weekly meetings and is launching a 50-county organizing and voter education campaign this summer.

It’s now a burgeoning multi-issue, grassroots movement for progressive change. And it’s literally on the move, branching out to other states — Moral Monday Georgia is going full steam this year, South Carolina has a Truthful Tuesday movement gaining steam, and the movement is getting started in Alabama, Florida, New York, and Wisconsin.

Some of these states are mighty steep political hills for progressives to climb, but success begins with someone saying, “I think I can.” To build a movement, you’ve gotta start moving. ++

House Republicans prove hatred of America with ‘No More Parks’ bill
Joan McCarter, Daily Kos
Wed Mar 26, 2014

“There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the colorado, the Canyon o f the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people shoudl see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.”
~ President Theodore Roosevent

The House voted today to undo what they can of President Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy. They voted to pass the “Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act,” their effort to make sure that no more land worth saving from mining, drilling, logging or fracking is indeed saved through executive action. It passed, of course, 222-201, but is unlikely to advance in the Senate, which is reason number infinity why we need the Senate.

Back in 1906, Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act, which gives the president the power to designate significant cultural, historical or ecological sites—which are already public land—as monuments. Since then, 16 presidents (evenly divided by part) have protected sites like the Grand Canyon, Acadia, Muir Woods and Olympic national parks through the monument designation. These places eventually became national parks through congressional action, but were preserved thanks to the Antiquities Act.

They didn’t do this just because they hate protected public land. They also did it because they hate the fact that President Obama has the power—which every president before him since Teddy Roosevelt has had—to designate protected land without giving them the opportunity to derail his efforts. Of course, why they say they’re doing it is because the president can act unilaterally, without public input, and because of the terrible economic impact these protected lands have.

Both of which are bullshit. The public loves national parks and monuments and thinks it’s government’s job to protect public land, to the tune of almost 90 percent of likely voters (as of this 2012 poll).

    Nearly 90 percent of voters think that candidates who prioritize national parks are seen as caring about the environment, protecting our heritage for the future, patriotic, and a good steward of our nation’s resources. And as the National Park Service approaches its centennial in 2016, a majority of likely voters (77 percent) say it is important for the next president to ensure that parks are fully restored and ready to serve and be relevant to future generations in their second century.

The economic impact of national parks was felt as recently as last fall, when the Republican House shut them down. The communities around the parks lost $414 million in just 16 days. Every dollar invested in a national park, the National Park Service has found, comes back to the community 10-fold. A study released earlier this month by the NPS found that visits to parks in 2012 generated $14.7 billion in spending in “gateway” communities, those within 60 miles of a park. All that money spent by park visitors supported 243,000 jobs and contributed $26.8 billion to the national economy.

Once again, the Republican House wasted time on a bill that is diametrically opposed to the will of the public. Once again, they wasted time on a bill that will not even get a hearing in the Senate. And once again they proved that they really do hate America. ++

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
~ The Reverend Martin Luther King

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

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“They want total awareness.”

There are really interesting possibilities beginning to swarm around the NSA issues. Obama seems to have softened his opinion about Snowden, although nothing is firm and no deals have been made. Still, it looks like the new oversight will ultimately bring an end to the hobnail boots on our civil liberties, or at least a transparent discussion about them.

There are two good reads here — one on how Sonja Sotomayor, new kid on the Supreme block, has changed the conversation on data collection; you go girl! The next is a candid conversation with Snowden in Russia, giving us a sense of both his character and his current situation. He’s an interesting one and, as I believe this will be a HOT topic in 2014, worth your time.

Perhaps your travel plans have changed or the weather has postponed your holiday gatherings — or perhaps someone ELSE is doing the cooking and you have some time to read this holiday. If so, these are interesting articles that, ultimately, have to do with our life and privacy.

Wishing you, each one, a blessed, safe and restful holiday!


How Sotomayor undermined Obama’s NSA
Adam Serwer, MSNBC

If Edward Snowden gave federal courts the means to declare the National Security Agency’s data-gathering unconstitutional, Sonia Sotomayor showed them how.

It was Sotomayor’s lonely concurrence in U.S. v Jones, a case involving warrantless use of a GPS tracker on a suspect’s car, that the George W. Bush-appointed Judge Richard Leon relied on when he ruled that the program was likely unconstitutional last week. It was that same concurrence the White House appointed review board on surveillance policy cited when it concluded government surveillance should be scaled back.

“It may be necessary to reconsider the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties,” Sotomayor wrote in 2012. “This approach is ill suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks.”

Not a single other member of the high court signed onto Sotomayor’s concurrence; her three Democratic appointed colleagues sided with a narrower one written by Justice Samuel Alito. Though all nine justices agreed that police would likely need to get a warrant to place a GPS device on a suspect’s car, it was Sotomayor who was willing to argue that modern technology had essentially changed the meaning of what privacy means when so much of our personal information and history is preserved online, and can be easily collected by the government in mass quantities. When the Framers of the Constitution wrote of “persons, houses, papers, and effects,” they could not have imagined cloud storage or cell phone location tracking.
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Typhoon Haiyan

Remember the Christmas Tsunami of 2004? Quarter of a million souls left the planet in short order and those of us who remained simply stopped in our tracks, owl-eyed, at the enormity of that event. Since then, disasters have come one after another so that we don’t experience that same eye-stinging, throat closing physical response any more — but there is still a psychic response that rings all our bells, even if we have to get very quiet to hear it.

So it is today with the 10,000 dead, 2,000 missing and 600,000 displaced in the Philippines. I’ve had to effort to get information on this dreadful event — it’s just not showing up on the American radar with any energy. It should. It’s being described as the most powerful storm to ever make landfall … and it doesn’t take much imagination to link it to global warming. Scientists are promising us ever stronger events like these as the norm. If this kind of thing doesn’t get our attention soon, making it imperative to push past the deniers as irrelevant to our survival, we shall go the way of the Dodo.

The first article here is on climate, the next on promises of international aid and the last on those in this country attempting to contact relatives.

As we scrambled at Planet Waves to come up with options for giving during the Christmas Tsunami, a lot of organizations promised relief. Since then, information about how they use their funds has caused all of us to reconsider how to contribute. Charity Navigator is an excellent tool to use for this purpose, rating the various charities. Here is what they have to say about Hayan:

    Typhoon Haiyan, considered the most powerful storm to ever make landfall battered the Philippines with sustained winds close to 200 mph. The current death toll is feared to be over 10,000. The storm has caused mudslides, 30 feet high storm surges, as well as flash flooding. According to Philippine authorities, more than 12 million people are at risk due to the storm’s powerful impact.

    [Open the link for] a list of organizations supporting the relief and recovery efforts in the region. But before you pick a charity and make a donation, consider what it is that you want your donation to accomplish (such as emergency aid, medical assistance, long term relief) and be sure to select the charity offering that specific type of aid.

Nobody is talking about this — I know we’re tired, we’re overwhelmed and many of us are tapped out, but I just can’t let this go un-noted. If you can’t give money, cover this tragedy with prayer, Light and love.


Typhoon Haiyan: Philippines urges action to resolve climate talks deadlock
UN negotiations in Warsaw must deliver emergency climate pathway as new storm brews in the Pacific, says government

John Vidal and Adam Vaughan, Guardian
Monday 11 November 2013

The Philippines government has firmly connected the super typhoon Haiyan with climate change, and urged governments meeting in Poland on Monday to take emergency action to resolve the deadlocked climate talks.

“We cannot sit and stay helpless staring at this international climate stalemate. It is now time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway,” said Yeb Sano, head of the government’s delegation to the UN climate talks, in an article for the Guardian, in which he challenged climate sceptics to “get off their ivory towers” to see the impacts of climate change firsthand.

Sano, whose family comes from the devastated town of Tacloban where the typhoon Haiyan made landfall on Friday, said that countries such as the Philippines did not have time to wait for an international climate deal, which countries have agreed to reach in Paris in 2015.

“What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness,” he told delagates from 190 countries, as UN climate negotiations get underway for a fortnight today in Warsaw. “The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw. Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action.

“Science tells us that simply, climate change will mean more intense tropical storms. As the Earth warms up, that would include the oceans. The energy that is stored in the waters off the Philippines will increase the intensity of typhoons and the trend we now see is that more destructive storms will be the new norm.”
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Back in 2007 and 8, we saw a flurry of activity within the Dub’s administration, salting away lifelong conservatives in government positions — and it should be glaringly obvious that they’ve done their utmost to effectively obstruct Dem policy whenever they could (including some department heads that were/are simply defiant, refusing to do as directed and marking time to be replaced. That’s REAL obstruction, kids!)

One of the places Georgie did his level best (finally listening to advice from Poppy) was in loading the judiciary — and if you remember, although the Dems bucked and kicked, Roberts and Alito got their pass, as was expected from a civil Congress. Ahhhh! Those were the days!

Well, civil no more, of course — and it’s taken all five of these years to come back to square zero in terms of the balance of political appointees to the judiciary. But … and this is One Good Thing out of a gazillion worrisome ones … we’ve finally hit that mark. I’m putting that article last, a Think Progress piece appears first, as that one defines our issues and indicates our challenges of the day, as well as offering an activist opportunity.

After a slight lull in the fireworks, the filibuster is back and so obviously partisan, even breaking a record for obstruction set during the post-Civil War Reconstruction, and now wee Lindsey Graham — no doubt looking to make points with the South Carolina Baggers who disapprove his occasional realism, aligning himself with old pal and sometime-maverick John McCain — vows to block all nominee’s unless he gets more details about Benghazi. That’s not just judges and the like — that’s Homeland Security and Federal Reserve candidates as well.

This two man chorus of would-be warriors keep trying to stop the growing peace movement by keeping Terror going, but the public is about exhausted with the whole process and even the Pubs are tired of military drums. Of the deluded, you gotta wonder which of these two most often plays Sancho Panza, but I think it’s likely the wee one. John is, after all, the “war hero.”

Sign of the times — hopefully to be reflected in history books as something we finally overcame — when one little twit can stop government to chase phantoms and curry favor with radicals.

Here are three articles, worth a look to define our problem with judiciary. In terms of good news, I guess the fact that Obama still has a few years to nominate (and could-be Hillary after that.) The nation is moving left even as the right pulls its head around to keep looking back.

This post is both good news and bad — but at least there IS movement and that works for me!


Bush is Gone, But His Judges Are Here to Stay
Filibuster Wars Return
CAP Action War Room, ThinkProgress
on November 1, 2013

Following a brief detente over executive branch nominations over the past few months, Republicans yesterday went back to their same old obstructionist ways.

First, Republicans used the filibuster to block an up-or-down vote on Rep. Mel Watt, who has been nominated to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, an important agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This is the first time since the Reconstruction Era that a sitting Member of Congress has been denied confirmation. Watt is also the first African-American FHFA nominee.

Republicans then filibustered the nomination of Patricia Millett for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, despite her sterling credentials as one of the most well-respected members of the Supreme Court bar, previous experience in both Democratic and Republican administrations, and the support of conservative legal luminaries like Ken Starr and Ted Olson.

The D.C. Circuit is second only to the Supreme Court in importance. It hears cases involving key national security issues and federal regulations like environmental and labor rules. During the Bush administration, all 11 seats on the court were happily filled by Republicans. But now that three vacancies have opened up, they are refusing to allow votes on President Obama’s nominees.
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So what’s worse? Being lied to or simply being ignored? In North Dakota they decided to go with that second one, fracking companies and pipeline owners keeping mum about how MANY leaks and spills occur. They do not, they say, want to alarm anyone [!!!!]

When we read these articles about environment irreversibly fouled, we think back to the Horizon event in the Gulf and wonder, “… another one?” But it isn’t really about another ONE, is it? It’s more like another dozen, day after day, here, there and everywhere because the Koch brothers influence is everywhere, the push for fuel is endless, and, with safety standards nil, dangerous from start to finish.

At least once a week, I see a teevee commercial from BP insisting that their commitment to the Gulf continues today, major money and time spent to bring it back as it once was. HA! Liars, every one of them — just plain liars.

I haven’t eaten seafood since the Gulf spill, even though that’s one of the big deals in these parts — Friday night, boiled spiced shrimp — and what with being a SF Bay Area girl, one of my grandfathers a Yacht Club owner and abalone diver, I really miss it. But the risk isn’t worth it now. Which body of water is safe anymore? Which one WON’T give us eyeless, tumorous shrimp? And if so, for how long?

Here’s three reads — one on the multitude of oil spills in North Dakota, the next on a Koch leak in Texas and the last a piece on the Gulf and its continuing problems.

The guys that do this … harm our environment and us … do it for money. Thing is, NO amount of money can reclaim it as it was. Some things are for all the marbles.


Hundreds of oil spills kept secret by North Dakota
John Upton, Grist

Shhh … oil spills are unpopular.

North Dakota’s fracking frenzy is leaking like a sieve. And you haven’t heard about it because fracking companies, oil pipeline owners, and state officials have been keeping information about hundreds of oil spills secret for years.

After a huge spill of more than 20,000 barrels on a wheat farm was hushed up for 11 days, the Associated Press discovered the extent of the years-long cover-up:

    Records obtained by the AP show that so far this year, North Dakota has recorded 139 pipeline leaks that spilled a total of 735 barrels of oil. In 2012, there were 153 pipeline leaks that spilled 495 barrels of oil, data show. A little more than half of the spills companies reported to North Dakota occurred “on-site,” where a well is connected to a pipeline, and most were fewer than 10 barrels. The remainder of the spills occurred along the state’s labyrinth of pipelines.

    “The public really should know about these,” [said Don Morrison, director of the Dakota Resource Council, an environmental-minded landowner group with more than 700 members in North Dakota]. “If there is a spill, sometimes a landowner may not even know about it. And if they do, people think it’s an isolated incident that’s only happening to them.”
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