What will it take to hear about this?

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For over 6 months Indigenous people have been attempting to protect their land and water from the rape by a foreign owned oil company.

They are unarmed, but over 300 police officers in riot gear, 8 ATVs, 5 armored vehicles, 2 helicopters, and numerous military-grade Humvees showed up north of the newly formed frontline camp just east of Highway 1806.

The unarmed protesters have been subjected to  pepper spray, percussion grenades, shotguns, and a sound cannon . One person was tased and a barbed hook lodged in his face, another  was hit in the face by a rubber bullet.

Kandi Mossett, Indigenous Environmental Network stated,

“I went to the frontline in prayer for protection of the Missouri River & found myself in what I can only describe as a war zone. I was sprayed in the face with pepper spray, the guy next to me was shot by something that didn’t break the skin but appeared to have broken the ribs & another guy beside me was randomly snatched violently by police shoving me into the officers who held me off with batons then tried to grab me.  I’m still in shock & keep waiting to wake from what’s surely a nightmare though this is my reality as a native woman in 2016 trying to defend the sacred.”

Eryn Wise of the International Indigenous Youth Council stated,

“Today more than half of our youth council were attacked, injured or arrested. In addition to our brothers and sisters being hurt and incarcerated, we saw police steal our sacred staff. I have no words for what happened to any of us today. They are trying to again rewrite our narrative and we simply will not allow it. Our youth are watching and remember the faces of the officers that assaulted them. They pray for them.”

Yet, the media has said little about this.

 

Anthony Weiner sexts a minor and there are pictures of his penis in emails, and that is what the nation’s attention is called to.

What’s the difference? Oh, right.

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So the Religious Right claims “religious freedom” to be able to discriminate, and they get support from politicians.

Since Religion is such a principled belief, it is safe to assume that any time religion is attacked, these are the people who would step forward to fight it.

Meanwhile, in North Dakota, politicians and religious leaders remain shamefully silent as over 500 Native American tribes from all over North, Central, South America, and Canada, are uniting under one cause, that of Protecting their water and sacred land from greedy corporate interests.

They are attacked with dogs and pepper spray, have their payer gatherings broken up with force, and are arrested.

Cliven Bundy takes over public land for his private use in Nevada, waves flags, and carries a copy of the Constitution conspicuously in his shirt pocket, something ranchers do on a daily basis I’m sure, because he wants to appear truly American, while threatening to shoot law enforcement working in the name of the public whose land he had taken, has many people show up with guns to help him shoot to kill if necessary by his standards because rights and all and the overreach of government, and he is still walking around a free man.

A corporation is tearing up the sacred land threatening the drinking water of local indigenous people, and these same shoot to kill defenders of the people are nowhere to be seen.

Obviously since they won’t get anything as a result of support, there is no reason for them to stand on principle.

And now after taking over public land, destroying parts that are sacred and causing damage to public property, the people’s property, at  the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, federal jury on Thursday found Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and five co-defendants not only not guilty of conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs through intimidation, threat or force during their 41-day occupation, but were even found not guilty of having guns in a federal facility and stealing government property. The jury couldn’t even decide if  Ryan Bundy was guilty of the theft  of FBI surveillance cameras when he had proudly shown videos of doing that.

While they weren’t arrested and were allowed to hold the fort, indigenous people are getting rounded up and arrested.

Even the Bundy defense attorneys were surprised by the verdicts and hung jury.

“This is for the people of Oregon. This was never for us,” aid on of the attorneys

Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, who was the face of law enforcement during the 41-day refuge takeover, said in a statement,

“While I am disappointed in the outcome, I believe our form of government and justice system to be the best in the world. These folks were tried in a court of law and found not guilty by a jury of their peers. This is our system, and I stand by it.”

In a bit of irony, the occupation took place, as Bundy explained, to protest the return to federal prison of Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, convicted of setting fire to federal lands. They had originally served a short sentence, but were ordered to return to prison to complete the five-year mandatory minimum sentence for such an act.

In that first case, the court was wrong and its ruling should have been ignored according to the Bundys who see courts as corrupt, but I am sure in their own case the Bundys love the court system

To prosecutors the case was simple: The occupiers took control of a wildlife refuge that wasn’t theirs.

Back on November 5, 2015 Ammon Bundy and  Ryan Payne issued ultimatums to Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward and promised civil unrest if the sheriff didn’t personally stand in to protect the two local ranchers.

Ammon Bundy issued a “call to arms” and call the action “much more than a protest.”

The  Bundy group used refuge offices as their own, dug through federal records, opened up boxes of Native American artifacts stored in the basement of one office, and dug a bunker and two trenches on the property.

FBI agents seized 22 long guns and 12 handguns from the refuge along with18,331 separate pieces of ammunition at the refuge consisting of 16,636 live rounds, 1,627 spent casings at a boat launch, and 68 spent casings at the refuge headquarters.

After the occupation ended, the refuge employees found their offices trashed, files missing and scattered throughout the refuge, and fire equipment removed or missing.

Ammon Bundy testified that he was divinely inspired to occupy the refuge to stake claim to the property through the principle of adverse possession and return it to the people of Harney County.

Apparently his religious beliefs that God told him to do it are acceptable, but indigenous people’s claim to be protecting that which is sacred is to be discounted.

Must be the wrong God.

So there you have it: an armed takeover of public land, and the perpetrators are given time to hang out and make their statement, while indigenous people are unarmed in their protecting of their land, and they are arrested and attacked with dogs, guns, and gas.

White guys; indigenous people.

Hmmmmm

It’s what’s best for the country, Right?

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It would appear that if the Republicans do not get the White House they plan to throw another hissy fit, pout, fold their arms, and sit down refusing to do their job because they did not get their way.

First we had the one voice of John McCain saying that if Clinton wins, there will be no hearings for any of her nominees to the Supreme Court. Thought by many to be simply the ranting of an old man whose time is slowly approaching its political end, and perhaps those of a man whose grasp on reason has been seen as slipping over the last few years, he seems now not to be alone.

Ted Cruz has said that the Republican Party may keep a vacancy on the Supreme Court indefinitely if it means preventing a Democratic choice.

“There will be plenty of time for debate on that issue. There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices. I would note, just recently, that Justice Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”

The House GOP has also announced that if Clinton wins they are going to prevent anything being done to better the county, holding, instead, nonstop investigations that could go on for years. It will be Benghazi all over again.

As Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah threatened,

 “Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”

This next round of obstruction in guaranteed if he GOP retains control of the House, Senate, or both.

They want to capitalize on the anger and division in the country that their party created and allowed Donald Trump to promote.

The office of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s office issued the statement,

“The rigorous oversight conducted by House Republicans has already brought to light troubling developments in the Clinton email scandal. The speaker supports investigative efforts following where the evidence leads, especially where it shows the need for changes in the law.”

This means wasting additional time and money on trying to take down Clinton.

The question is, then, that even if they win the White House, will they hold any investigations on some of the questionable activities and involvements of their man, Trump,

They did this investigation thing with Clinton’s husband in the White House, and they obstructed anything president Obama attempted to do.

To hell with the needs of the country.

Seriously? I mean, seriously?

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There are states that are so enamored of guns that they allow students to bring guns to school as long as they leave them in their vehicles in the parking lot. And as we all know, there is never an opportunity for students to go out to their cars to get their guns at any time on any given day for any reason.

Students just never leave the building, and have no way to do so even if they desired to.

Then there are other states that allow students to not only bring guns, but, instead of leaving them in their vehicles, are allowed to carry them around on campus from class to class because, as we all know, at no time in the classrooms, the labs, the library, the cafeteria, or any place on campus will any student at any time for any reason get angry enough at someone to use that gun.

But Halloween is approaching, and many schools are concerned about student safety, so to that end, even as guns will still be allowed on campuses, some of these schools have banned anything clown related.

No masks, which makes sense, but also no clown suits, big shoes, or clown wigs because there is nothing more dangerous, even than people carrying guns in environments where many things may not go a person’s way, as someone dressed as a clown on Halloween.

A word to the “Gaybies”

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“As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology. Believe me.” (Donald Trump)

However, in the United States we are more threatened by domestic ideology than foreign, so that is a pretty safe stance to take, as you don’t have to really do anything.

Even though the Log Cabin Republicans will not be officially endorsing Donald Trump, because of a giant dose of disconnect the group still praises Trump for a non-existent pro-LGBT record.

LCR has said,

“Mr. Trump is perhaps the most pro-LGBT presidential nominee in the history of the Republican Party. His unprecedented overtures to the ‘LGBTQ community’ — a first for any major-party candidate in our nation’s history — are worthy of praise, and should serve as a clarion call to the GOP that the days of needing to toe an anti-LGBT line are now a thing of the past.”

And LCR president, Gregory T. Angelo, believes that a President Trump could surpass President Obama’s support for equality.

To explain his claim he would nominate justices to the Supreme Court who would undo marriage equality and remove the civil rights by supporting the various religious freedom laws that allow people to discriminate against GLBT people based on sincerely, yet unproven, firmly held religious beliefs, the Log Cabin Republicans claim it is not Donald Trump, but his advisers and allies who are the problem.

“As Mr. Trump spoke positively about the LGBT community in the United States, he concurrently surrounded himself with senior advisers with a record of opposing LGBT equality, and committed himself to supporting legislation such as the so-called ‘First Amendment Defense Act’ that Log Cabin Republicans opposes.”

Many young members of the GLBT Community with no sense of history believe as the Log Cabin Republican do.

But here is what they need to pay attention to:

He chose as his running mate the most Anti-GLBT governor in the country.

He said he would nominate justices to the Supreme Court who would undo marriage equality leaving states to allow it or ban it which would mean in some states there would be health considerations and visitation rights in hospitals, inheritance and tax  rights, family decisions, shared property rights, adoption and parental related rights, children welfare considerations, to name a few, that would be lost simply by crossing a state lines.

Trump initially supported respecting transgender people’s bathroom usage, but has now modified this for the sake of political expedience to supporting “states’ rights” to decide anti-trans policies, so these people’s rights could vary from state to state putting them at a disadvantage if they have to move to certain states because of jobs or family circumstances effectively rendering them second class citizens in their own country.

He also said he would cancel the Obama administration’s protections of Transgender students, workers, and tenants from discrimination, as well as his executive order protecting the GLBT employees of federal contractors.

Trump also has not included a single promise for how he would improve life for the GLBT community in the U.S., but he has used the GLBT Community as a tool to promote his anti-Muslim policies. His rhetoric after the Orlando, Florida shooting only included references to GLBT people hoping that that ISIS’ brand of homophobia would be severe enough to rally people together against them.

And yet, in spite of this, LCR claims that if Trump wins it “welcomes the opportunity to work with his administration to ensure the advances in LGBT freedom we have fought for and secured will continue.”

This is in spite of Trumps own words.

What are they missing here?

Darrell Issa has a friend problem

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Yet another example of a principled Republican.

When the Tea Party branch of the GOP got power in both houses of Congress and he became chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Darrell Issa announced that he was going to have one investigation after another even before he had anything to investigate. He had said in 2010 that he wanted the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to hold investigative hearings “seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks.” This, of course, meant that he would have to find things that would allow him to keep his promise, and the fishing expeditions began.

His biggest, most favorite, and seemingly never ending investigation was Benghazi, and in spite of each investigation coming up empty, he would simply start another one hoping for a different result instead of accepting that the results were consistent.

He spent, read that wasted, millions of dollars on these wild goose chases, and was even found selectively releasing information that was to have supported his claim that the White House had failed to prevent the 2012 attack on the embassy in Libya and the deaths that resulted, while suppressing anything that went against that claim.

Issa is running for reelection in California, and fears, as other GOP politicians seem to bear out, that like many down ballot office seekers in the GOP, he may be hurt by Trump.

So, he needs a new ally, someone favorable he can attach himself to, and right now, with his biggest approval rating since reelection, that would be President Obama, the man he attacked for his whole time as the Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

But his new hoped for BFF doesn’t seem too interested in pretending there is any friendship that Issa can hang his hat on.

Issa  sent out a campaign mailer bragging about his cooperation with the White House and even added a photo of Obama in the Oval Office, but according to President Obama Issa’s “primary contribution to the U.S. Congress has been to obstruct and to waste taxpayer dollars on trumped up investigations that have led nowhere.”

“This is now a guy who because Trump’s poll numbers are bad has sent of brochures with my picture on them touting his cooperation on issues with me. That is the definition of chutzpah. Here’s a guy who called my administration perhaps the most corrupt in history,  despite the fact that actually we have not had a major scandal in my administration,”

 “That starts in House of Representatives. The things you’re hearing Trump say, they’re said on floor of the House all the time. The Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives are repeatedly promoting crazy conspiracy theories and demonizing opponents.”

Iss attempted to play the role of the rejected and aggrieved friend saying,

 “I’m disappointed but not surprised that the president, in a political speech, continues to deny accountability for the serious scandals that happened under his watch where Americans died overseas and veterans have died here at home. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks I’ve done too much to hold Washington accountable. I’ve worked with the administration on good legislation where it was possible, and called out wrongdoing wherever I saw it, and will continue to do so.”

He was called on his attempted deceit being as he is, in the words of the President, “Trump before Trump”.

just a nice story

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I was at a political fundraising even in Boston recently, well, actually in Jamaica Plain.

I had not been back to that area since 1985 when I moved to California then Oklahoma, and even though I have been back in Massachusetts for 5 years, I just never had the time or reason to go to JP.

When I was born, or there about, my father had returned from WWII, and, like most returning GIs, took the opportunity to better himself though the GI Bill taking courses to earn an associate’s degree in engineering. It should be noted that from about 1949 to 1985 most of Boston, and the infrastructure of the state of Massachusetts was built by returning GIs with the will and practical know-how to do the work. That was until Governor Dukakis decided image trumped reality, and seeing that all the work that brought modernity to the state was done by men who did not have PHD or MS after their names, forced them to retire so that MIT types could join the ranks and create an image.

The problem was that the cub engineers did not have any working experience, the kind the previous generation had had to have, and from which they developed their knowledge and skills building roads, bridges, and the other infrastructure that helped the U.S. win the war on two fronts, or the older guys to learn from. As a result, it was suggested that, in spite of their having been thrown out the door onto the curb, these guys voluntarily answer the questions of the new guys had, the answers they had because those guys had learned by doing.

One example of this was that while my father built most of the skating rinks in the Boston area that were owned by the state where there was a never a problem with pressure in the pipes, and in one instance, after building a new rink next to one of his, instead of tearing down the old one it was kept open because it was not experiencing the problems the new one built by the new hire.

Over time my father had found that if he took a dime and followed the threads on the pipes, it would have to go around the pipe a certain number of times, or he would reject the pipe as not being good enough. After my father was forced to retire, a young engineer, finding pipe pressure problems was informed of my father’s trick and his record that none of his accepted pipes had ever succumbed to pressure, my father was asked to tell the man with the degree from MIT how many times the dime had to circle the pipe. He refused because he, like his peers who had not wanted to retire, felt the knowledge he had learned from experience was not to be so freely given to those with the degrees. If the degrees were that good, then the new engineers should have learned this information in class.

The other engineers forced to retire kept their secrets even when the state told them they needed to pass them on.

If the state wanted the secrets, the state could give them their jobs back as they had had no desire to retire at 65. They loved their work, and loved doing it. They did not want to be put out to pasture.

Now a story I have as it was told to me, even it was told to others differently was this:

Around the time of my birth, my father was given his first engineering assignment after having spent some time holding the pole for the surveyor and then assisting the head engineer. He was to build a brick bridge that would anchor the Jamaica way, a road along the shore of Jamaica Pond, with another major road. It was to last, perhaps, 5 years until it would be replaced as the two roads became bigger and more traveled. It was to be constructed of brick with a concrete and macadam road bed with a utility garage underneath for snow plows and road equipment.

Apparently, seeing the bridge could be stronger and last longer with some adjustments, like smaller windows toward the top of the supporting walls, my father made those adjustments.

He never said if he got in trouble for the changes, but the bridge was not only not torn down and replaced after its projected 5 year life, but as the roads grew and other arteries were added on, it became the all important central support for the roads and was worked into any architectural design concerning them.

Anyone driving through Jamaica Plain had to drive across that bridge, and because it eventually became a brick bridge in a concrete world, it was very noticeable.

Any time we crossed it ourselves going into the city to visit family, my father would point out he built the bridge, and with a smile would remind us it was only suppose to be there for 5 years.

Over time, as the city grew and infrastructure needed to be modified, the bridge was finally slated for demolition to make room for the transit authority, the MBTA, to build a major hub where commuter rail, subway, and bus routes would interconnect at a hub. The bridge was in the way.

At the  political event I attended, I casually mentioned to one person present that my father had built the bridge now replaced with construction, and its not being there threw me off as I drove what I thought would be a familiar route to the Jamaica Way. It was just supposed to be small talk at a party.

This person in turn went and brought another person over to me and had me tell the story my father had told, and he in turn did the same until a rather large group of people were listening to the story, and then explaining they had grown up with that bridge and its demise was a loss of part of their childhood into their elder years.

Although the house where the function was held was a good half mile to a mile from the demolition, although they had been assured that the demolition would be a quiet and quick event with only the thud of a swinging ball to interrupt the peace of the area, after a few attempts the demolition called for explosives as the bridge would just not come down.

Not only had the bridge with a proposed  5 year life span become a focal point at the cross section of the roads for over 60 years, but when it was to have simply collapses with a little coaxing, it took explosive to finally bring it down.

In fairness to my father’s peers, their constructions are still around and have only required a little modification to keep them useful. Eventually if they are found in need of demolition, they might also need more than what is assumed to be necessary to bring them down.

And this was done by men who learned their trade from experience in war, common sense, and a desire to learn what they needed to do in order to be successful.

Sadly, on the flip side, some of the infrastructure engineered by the people who replaced the older guys has already needed to be replaced as they were not lasting as long as a degree from places like MIT claimed they would.

But I have to admit, hearing people not only express appreciation for the information about the bridge and my father’s involvement with it, but tell me how it was part of their lives and how much it had taken to bring it down, did my father’s son’s heart good.

It’s a museum, be classy

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It is funny how sometimes in life unrelated, and often minor decisions, become the important ones.

I moved back to Massachusetts from Oklahoma because, in spite of my friends there and things I had accomplished of which I am quite proud, circumstances made a move a good thing. I house sat on Cape Cod for what turned into a couple of years when it was supposed to have been six months.

Cape Cod definitely is not a friend to those needing affordable housing, and I ended up moving to New Bedford at the end of house sitting because for what I would have been paying to rent a bench near a beach I could get a whole apartment in the highly renovated downtown historic district, which put me a few blocks from and an easy walk to the New Bedford Whaling Museum where I chose to volunteer some time to get involved in the community.

Before becoming an active volunteer, a person has to attend 10 weeks of classes for three hours a week to become familiar with what the museum offers, information about the whaling industry and all things whale, the history of the city of New Bedford, and the minutia of many of the items on display.

Having taught for 38 years, I was not interested in being a docent who would be showing school field trips around, and, so volunteered to work in the library. Because the library was being moved from its location a few blocks away to its new home in the new wing of the museum, there was no work for the longest time until the library was all set up.

When that finally happened I was assigned to ship log transcription, and my first assignment was a doozy.

The president wanted the log of the bark Catalpa transcribed in record time, so it was divided among three people, two of us who were new. Thankfully I had been taught the Palmer Method of penmanship by nuns in elementary school, and that combined with all the student work I had had to wade through over the years, I was able to get accustomed to the handwriting in the log rather quickly.

The Catalpa was a whaling ship that was to go to Freemantle, Australia, to rescue 6 Fenian prisoners, and bring them  to the United states, while having the whole voyage appear to be a standard whaling expedition with only the captain and the agent of the Clan na Gael who was footing the bill for it knowing the true nature of the voyage to limit any chance that the true nature of the expedition would be discovered.

The ship left New Bedford, hunted a few whales to look legitimate, and since the crew was paid based on the amount of whale oil brought home, keep them thinking they were part of a standard hunt.

Eventually the ship arrived off Australia, the rescue was pulled off, the ship was able to fend off  being boarded by a British gun ship suspicious of its having been just loitering off shore for a number of days when by coincidence the six prisoners had escaped, averting an international incident if the gun boat had fired on an American ship flying the American flag just outside Australian territorial waters, and getting the prisoners to New York.

It is a great story, and one worth looking into.

The result of the Catalpa expedition was that the Irish people’s desire for independence was given a huge boost and it has been seen as the spark that led to that independence.

Being as 2016 is the hundredth anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rebellion, the museum planned and has mounted an exhibit, Famine, Friends and Fenians, to tell the story of the expedition from planning to execution with many artifacts donated by the descendents of those involved, and to tell the story of the Irish involvement throughout the history of New Bedford that to most people doesn’t have that history.

My transcription team’s work is part of that exhibit., and I watched as for about three weeks a crew of people assembled the exhibit treating each medal, map, picture, pipe, cane,, article of clothing, flag, picture and document with the greatest respect because they were representations of normal people who had done an extraordinary act.

Beyond the account of the Catalpa, the exhibit covers the Irish donation to the new colony in 1673, Frederick Douglass’s self imposed exile to Ireland with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, the Famine, New Bedford’s Quaker population’s  sending relief during the famine, and some Irish cultural things  presented by that country’s cultural secretary.

There was a pre-opening event the night before the actual opening to the public, and as usual with these events lots of good catered food and, in this case, plenty of Guinness. Everyone who contributed to the exhibit was invited as were many of the local dignitaries.

The exhibit is impressive.

But then, during the speeches and thank yous, as people stood around sipping their wine and accepting offerings from the hors,d’oevre waiters, a rather posh looking gentleman of noble carriage, turned toward the bust of poet John Boyle O’Relly and placed his almost empty wine glass on the little shelf upon which the bust stood, and walked away.

So, my last contribution to the exhibit was to take his glass away from the bust to prevent possible spillage on that part of it, and told the woman who had been standing next to him that I hadn’t had to do anything like that since my last middle school field trip to an art museum.

So much for his noble carriage.