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Monday, September 18, 2017

The American Worker Doesn't Know What He Doesn't Have---But Could

FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2011, file photo demonstrators rally in support of Wisconsin workers at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. As other states move to weaken public employee bargaining rights in the aftermath of the Wisconsin showdown, unions and their allies dare to hope they can turn rage into revival. This could be a make or break moment for a movement that brought the nation the 40-hour week, overtime pay, upward mobility, and now a struggle to stay relevant in the modern age. ( AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

Wil Wheaton:

I was at work today for Labour Day and on TV was Good Morning America. The theme was celebrating the American worker and their accomplishments. I’ll tell you how it went down.

Kelly put on her glasses, smile wide, and pulled out a piece of paper which she read from. The paper was from an article (which I have issues with, but I will leave alone for now) by ABC news. Kelly proceeded only to read the opening of it, which reads: ‘Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world. More than the English, more than the French, way more than the Germans or Norwegians. Even, recently, more than the Japanese. And Americans take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later, too.’

And everyone cheered.

And they kept cheering when Kelly put her paper down and smiled at everyone. (not continuing with the rest of the article which suggests that this may in fact be a problem).

And I just couldn’t BELIEVE that anyone was cheering. America. AMERICA you work more than the French, who are entitled by law to have 5 weeks off a year for vacation and can not work more than 35 hours per week. You work more than Norway, who average 33 hours per week and 44,000 dollars a year. Germany, where AGAIN, we see a shorter work week and better pay! And all of these countries have health care and better pay and free/affordable education!


I have a different interpretation of this information: the American worker is the most taken advantage of worker in the industrialized world. It’s plain and simple. You work long hours and get horrible pay. You take multiple jobs and work and work and work just to get by. Unions are disappearing, jobs are always looking for part timers and all you are doing is giving up your time for less money, less vacation, less safety and stability and less education than anyone else on the list.

Celebrate Labour day. Celebrate the accomplishments of the common worker, but don’t let these people trick you into thinking you should celebrate the theft of your time and energy, or the fruits of your labour.

They are using you. Stop cheering.

(via wilwheaton)

The Real Reason America Doesn't Have Universal Health Care

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Weather Events Our Media Don't Seem to be Reporting

Sure, we're getting coverage, some, anyway, of first Hurricane Harvey that hit Southeast Texas and Western Louisiana. And then we got coverage of Hurricane Irma that hit Florida---and, far more devastatingly, the Caribbean but hey, let's focus just on our 50 states, right?

We and our media have already seemed to have moved on from the Houston area.

Unless you've actively sought out information on that area and storm, Texas and Louisiana and Harvey, it doesn't seem like we're seeing or reading or hearing much about their plight now. We have, again, moved on, as a country, as a people. We're no longer paying them any "never mind."

Meanwhile, as a matter of fact, yet another hurricane is out there and building strength and heading for the same areas. It is Hurricane Marie, thank you very much. And tropical storm Lee is right behind.

So yeah, we're moving on. We're too busy to keep up with all that rebuilding down there in the ravaged South.

And speaking of moving on, how about the areas of the world that have also, in even recent weeks, let alone the last month or so, been ravaged by weather events? Do you have any idea what's been happening lately, around the world?

The Climate Catastrophe We're All Ignoring

Flooding in Bangladesh has submerged a third of the country. (Photo: British Red Cross)

"...multiply the damage from Harvey and Irma a hundredfold and you’ll get a feeling for the climate-related suffering taking place right now in the rest of the world. In India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, an estimated 40 million people have been affected by massive flooding, with over 1,200 deaths. More than one third of Bangladesh’s land mass has been submerged. As if that’s not enough, Africa has been suffering its own under-reported climate disasters, with hundreds of thousands affected by flooding in Nigeria, Niger, Congo, Sierra Leone, and Uganda.

So yeah, maybe we need to know and recognize what, exactly, is already taking place in the world so we can put things, everything, in perspective. The climate scientists have said our planet is warming. They said devastating climate events would increase, from droughts to floods, at least.

Maybe we need to pay attention?



Donald Trump, USA President, Today

From former NPR reporter Jacki Lyden today, from her Facebook page.

What did you do with your morning?

Kiss the kids, hug the spouse, walk the dog, pour coffee for the friend, chat to the neighbor?

Phone abroad, pull a weed?

In some way, be glad you were alive?

The leader of the free world (I’m fairly certain) did none of that.

In a 15-tweet-tweetstorm, the day before a UN roll-out, amid N Korea threats and Prez Taunts (now we’re down to taunts like Rocket Man) and post-Irma & Harvey, he woke up with tweet indigestion.

He put misogyny into the mix, re-tweeting from an anti-Semitic account fantasizing that this oaf could possibly swing a golf club hard enough to Hillary Clinton in the back, without getting a hernia. The meme splices in a clip of Clinton visiting Yemen.

Jealousy over Clinton's book reception likely triggered it (as well as raging jealousy over her accomplishments as a female Secretary of State-- (heaven help Ivanka) but -- racism and misogyny and paternalism/white supremacy are absolutely at the core of Donald Trump's id. (I would never reflect on the state of his soul. That remains to be developed.)

Every single day, Americans who worry about the myriad obliques and angles threatening modern life, must additionally worry that this unstable man will further undermine what remains of our democracy, society, and civility.

Every hour.

Columnists write columns about their rising blood pressure (see Dana Milbank, "Trump is Killing Me).

The best antidote, of course, is to prevail with those principles Trump cannot affect -- morality, civility, decency, and courage. It's not about "moving past" Trump's latest outrage -- it's burned into our psyches already. Short of removing this completely unfit human from public office, we must do all we can to hang on to our own characters, which are, of course, already going to be tested by the ungrateful kid, horrid neighbor, food poisoning and dog that bites. 

My point being that life is a series of intended and unintended feints and parries, an equilibrium forever poised on the precipice of eclipse, but with this president we can count on poison and only on poison. 

There are no legislative political accomplishments, and of course, he is politically impotent. 

And knows it. 

Remember we need health care, mental health parity, community need, a fight against ethnic cleansing, fairness for the the frail amongst us, an environment and planet health we must improve. 

Perhaps the test for us is that in addition to never overlooking his sickness--for he is a sick man, very sick--we must expand our empathy gene in direct opposition to Trump’s failure to affect anything except hatred. 

We must speak out. 

That to me is indeed but one good reason to get up in the morning and carry on-- because someone this sick and desperate can make everyone a little more sick and desperate and would revel in doing so if it made him feel powerful. 

There is no moral compass there, just an id. 

So onward friends, in the engagement of your best self, best talents, best friends, best heart. We struggle, but at least, we struggle together.


It Looks Very Bad This Weekend For the Trump White House

There have been a few articles that came out this weekend about Trump's White House and Robert Mueller's investigation of any illegality and possible collusion with the Russians to win the presidency.

Here's the first and it's pretty huge:

Mueller just obtained a warrant that could change the entire nature of the Russia investigation

Here's just a part of it. It seems to implicate Trump's son-in-law, too, on influencing the election, first, but with and through Facebook and the Russians as well as the Republican Party:

"'This is big news — and potentially bad news for the Russian election interference 'deniers,' said Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence agent.

Rangappa, now an associate dean at Yale Law School, explained that to obtain a search warrant a prosecutor needs to prove to a judge that there is reason to believe a crime has been committed. The prosecutor then has to show that the information being sought will provide evidence of that crime."

It goes on:

"The Facebook warrant "means that Mueller has concluded that specific foreign individuals committed a crime by making a 'contribution' in connection with an election..."

Here's another.

New details about major Russian money laundering probe raise the stakes of Trump Tower meeting

The Russian lawyer who met with President Donald Trump's son, son-in-law, and campaign manager in June 2016 was representing a client under scrutiny in an ongoing criminal investigation related to a money-laundering case opened in 2013 by former US Attorney Preet Bharara.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian prosecutor with ties to the Kremlin, was representing the real-estate company Prevezon Holdings in a civil suit filed by the US government in the Southern District of New York when she visited Trump Tower on June 9, 2016.

Prevezon, which is owned by the son of a powerful Russian government official, was part of a parallel criminal investigation, according to court documents filed late last year. A person familiar with the matter told Business Insider that the criminal case was ongoing, corroborating a Bloomberg report published earlier Friday.

The criminal investigation had not yet been disclosed when Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired Bharara in March, and there was no mention of it when the civil case was settled in May for $5.9 million.

The Bloomberg report mentioned broke Friday.

Russia Laundering Probe Puts 

Trump Tower Meeting in New Light

Not stopping there, hopefully there will be an examination of the end of a money-laundering case by someone in this administration--Trump's own Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

It looks for all the world as though we may very well be starting to see the end of this presidency, fellow Americans.

Quote of the Day -- Sunday Edition

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Divided St. Louis, Divided Kansas City, Divided America

This New Yorker Magazine cover ran in December, 2014.

It's still so tragically true, of course, and so very still true of our own city and of too much of America.

We need to get and be and stay better than this.

We tell ourselves we are.

Friday, September 15, 2017

KCPT's "Ruckus": All White, All the Time

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Once again this week, KCPT-TV's weekly news program "Ruckus" was all white people, solving all the people's problems. The most open minded they could be was having two women on the panel.

They even discussed the DACA, "dreamers" controversy, possibly effecting 800,000 Hispanic people in the nation but do you think they'd include one minority, one Hispanic from the Kansas City metropolitan area?


They'll keep it lily-white.

Who are we kidding?

Because there aren't any minorities in this city.

No Blacks.  No Hispanics. No Mexican-Americans. None of them. Not in this town.

We know that.


Well, except on their own commercials, asking for donations and contributions--money--to keep the station running.

Side note:  In a -little bit--of a defense of KCPT here, they did include one Black man, Eric Wesson, on their show this week. Of course, it was a discussion, on that show, about the minority community demanding a percentage portion of the work if we do, in fact, build a new single-terminal airport. Two white men, one white woman and Mr. Wesson.


Entertainment Overnight -- Slumber, My Darling

Incredible, beautiful, piercing, simple performance.

John Dickerson on the Presidency and This President

CBS' News "Face the Nation" host John Dickerson makes some excellent points on the job and position that is the presidency, what it entails, what the job calls for and how this President does--and does not--fit the job.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

I Don't Like Where It Looks Like We're Headed

Apocalyptic movies began and, if anything, seem to keep growing in numbers. "Mad Max", for me, seemed to be either the first or one of them. In the meantime, they've grown in number.

This one, "Ready Player One", from Steven Spielberg, is due out next year.

It makes me fear for our future, for our collective futures.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Maybe We Don't Want That Amazon Headquarters Anyway

For a different viewpoint on that Amazon headquarters:

Image result for jeff bezos amazon

Amazon's New Headquarters 

Should Be in Hell

"Amazon is one of America’s largest and most successful corporations. It is worth nearly $500 billion. Its stock is booming. Its CEO is one of the world’s richest men. It has the wherewithal, in other words, to do whatever it wants. If Amazon wanted to purchase five square blocks of midtown Manhattan tomorrow and build skyscrapers on it, it could, just by writing a check. More to the point, if Amazon wanted to help revitalize an American city by investing $5 billion in it to build a new headquarters there, bringing 50,000 new jobs to town, it could. Just by writing a check.

Instead, Amazon is holding a multinational audition, asking for cities to submit proposals to win the exciting opportunity to host tens of thousands of tech (people). Amazon wants to know that cities have an educated work force and good transportation networks, sure, but they don’t need the cities themselves to tell them that. What they are asking cities to submit are economic incentives. They are asking for tax breaks. They are in essence conducting a giant beauty pageant in which desperate municipal governments attempt to offer them the most lucrative possible package of public resources. This is not unlike a rich man standing up in the midst of a crowd of beggars and yelling, “Who will massage my feet for the lowest price?”

Do we really want to give away possible supporting tax money for our schools and infrastructure?

Can we afford that?

It's as I said a long time ago and have said since, our city, county and state governments need to stop letting themselves be used like this. They need to stop allowing themselves to be manipulated to give the lowest and best tax package, just to land possible new business and companies to come into their jurisdictions.

They won't stop but they should.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

You Should Be Watching This

A documentary on Jackie Robinson is on this evening on PBS and KCPT. It's part one of this series by, again, no surprise, Ken Burns.
Image result for jackie robinson pbs

It is fantastic.

What Jackie Robinson did and what he--and his wife--went through is just incredible.

And PBS, showing this now.

Incredible. Brilliant. 

We need to know this history, period, but it's especially important and relevant just now, at this time, with racism, once again, rearing its ugly head. No surprise but another Ken Burns documentary. And then with Colin Kaepernick, standing up against injustice, just as Jackie did?  It's extremely poignant.

We need, however, as a nation, to stop having to relearn these lessons. We should know all this already. We went through it. We shouldn't have to go through it again, to learn it once more.

Oh, and Buck O'Neil is even in it so all the more reason to watch.

Kansas City and That Amazon Headquarters?


Image result for amazon

Dear Amazon, 

We Picked Your New Headquarters for You

Your dislike, if not disdain, for mass transportation alone makes sure we're not getting this, Kansas City.


Quote of the Day -- On Labor

Brilliant woman.

portrait of Helen Keller

“The few own the many because they possess the means of livelihood of all... 

The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor. The majority of mankind are working people. So long as their fair demands - the ownership and control of their livelihoods - are set at naught, we can have neither men's rights nor women's rights. The majority of mankind is ground down by industrial oppression in order that the small remnant may live in ease.”

― Helen Keller, Rebel Lives: Helen Keller


The Idiocy of Missouri's New "Guns Everywhere" Law

Here it is.

An Accidental Shooting in a Missouri 

Supermarket Shows Risks of New Law

Fortunately, thank goodness, the gun-toting pea brain only shot himself. This time.

So way to go, Missouri. Good on you, right? Making "guns everywhere" not just an option or possibility but a likelihood.

You Right Wing, Republican dolts.

Tom Waits was right, of course.

"We are monkeys with money and guns."


Man toting loaded gun accidentally shoots himself in U. City grocery

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Hasn't the Time Finally, Finally Come When Humankind Realizes We Must Work Together?

Look at all that's happened, weather-wise, in the last few weeks, around the world.  Consider all that has taken place recently and that is still, just now, occurring. This was at the end of August.

Sierra Leone mudslides 

'kill more than 1,000'

We all know what happened in Southeast Texas and Western Louisiana at about that same time.

This took place last night.

This, in fact, is what's going on now as most of us know.

But this is also going on now, as too many, I think, aren't aware.

Then check this out. This is what's coming up, for pity's sake, in the next week or so.

Keep in mind, too, this is only the last few weeks, up to now. It's only a partial list. It's not everything, like this, that has taken place this year. It's my contention we can't, right now, keep up with all the really large, jarring, killing and home destroying weather and Earth events on the planet presently.

So this is my question.

Isn't it time we all, here on this rock, here on planet Earth, all we humans, started realizing we really are all "in this together"? That we need one another? Rich, poor, old, young, everyone?

Isn't it long, long overdue?

Up to now, it seems this has, too much, almost singularly, guided us.

Kudos and Great Thanks to Steve Kraske

Image result for steve kraske

In the last couple of months, at least, if not longer, it seems reporter/interviewer and "man about town" Steve Kraske, of the Kansas City Star and KCUR 89.3 FM radio, has posted and posed more good questions and issues and history of our area than just about anyone.

I think what really first turned my head, so to speak, in his reporting, was when he brought up the issue of whether or not the name of our one very prominent fountain in town, on the Country Club Plaza, the JC Nichols fountain, should keep its name or not, given Mr. Nichols deepset, historical, proven, public  racism.

Kansas City should confront racist past and rename J.C. Nichols fountain

The fact is, it's Mr. Nichols racism that was a huge factor in making us the very divided, very segregated city and metropolitan area that we still are, today. That impacted where people live, where they work, where they go to school and so, obviously, the education they get, the jobs that are possible and finally, how much they earn. Those are huge, huge ramifications and they've reverberated through people's lives and so, through the city, and for decades. It's what has made what and who we are today, personally and as a city and metropolitan area. We know it goes all the way out, across the state line, ito Kansas.

Then, he didn't just ask it once but twice in the Star:

 I’m still talking about J.C. Nichols, racism and renaming the fountain

With Yael Abouhalkah off the staff of our local paper, who else is covering the State of Kansas fiscal debacle like this?

Massive Kansas tax cuts were the result of Gov. Sam Brownback’s lie

Not to be done there, this week, just a couple days ago, he had this one in the Star:

We’re taking down lots of monuments these days. But here’s one we should add

He proposed we should maybe, as a city or state, or both, at least, put up a monument---or two? more?--to the Americans who helped build our nation, innocent Americans, but who were lynched by fellow Americans.

Then, on KCUR, the local NPR station, he followed up that article with this interview and topic:

He has singlehandedly done some pretty fantastic writing and interviews and is touching on stories that need to be covered no one else is, I think. He's really having us and helping us examine our history and by doing so, showing us where we are today.

With these examples alone, I can't think of one other person in the metropolitan area, or the region or state, for that matter, that is posing such provocative issues and questions for all the rest of us.

So kudos, Mr. Kraske.  Good on you. Thank you, deeply and sincerely, for getting and keeping the rest of us out here thinking and questioning what we might otherwise not question or think about. And please, do keep up this good and even important work. The only other challenges we seem to get are from the Right Wing and Republicans who seem to want us to be or get or remain selfish and stingy and even racist, lately.

To other reporters and writers and people in the media, you would do well to copy this example.


Now if only he could get KCPT to include minorities, "people of color" on their "Ruckus" and weekly news programs. And every week, at that. Seems they don't think, down there at our local PBS station, that black and Hispanic people live here or that they have anything to contribute to our city and any possible solutions to issues and problems of the day.

Here's hoping.

The Kansas City Star, KCUR and we all are lucky, very lucky to have him in our midst and reporting and interviewing.

So again, Mr. Kraske. Thank you sincerely. Please don't stop now.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

What the Last Week Wrought on the World

Naimey, by the way, is in Niger.

And this doesn't include Nepal or Sierra Leone or Bangladesh or California's blistering heat wave and the wildfires there and across the Western US.

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Monday, September 4, 2017

Most Americans Don't Know the Origins of Labor Day

And we should. We should know how we got here in this country. We shouldn't and don't want to go backward.

The Pullman Strike of 1894 not only gave the US a national holiday, it also legitimized unionism and defined the modern labor movement

What the Labor Movement Begat

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The Former Republican Party

May we have THIS Republican Party back?


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Labor Day, 2017


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Happy Labor Day

Thank a Union.  #Strongertogether

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Could This Be the Year We All Finally Admit Global Warming?

After the flooding and mudslides, killing approximately 1,000 people in Sierra Leone last week and the widespread, devastating flooding in Bangladesh, along with Hurricane Harvey decimating so much of Houston and Southeast Texas and West Louisiana, then the record-breaking high temperatures in the Western US, there is this.

Image result for san francisco heat wave 2017

San Francisco smashes all-time record high temperature, hits 106 degrees

Anyone who knows anything of San Francisco knows that's insane.

And it doesn't stop there. With all of California's record-breaking high temperatures, wildfires have, again this year, been breaking out.

This is not alarmist, either. These are facts. These are real, actual events, not concerns about what may happen in the future.

Then there's Irma, building this moment.

Hurricane Irma remains potential threat 
to the East Coast
possibly matching Harvey’s wind strength

And finally, this.

Two new tropical threats are taking shape in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean

Could we all get on this same bus now?