Nel's New Day

April 14, 2017

DDT: Week Twelve, More Failures Plus War-Mongering

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) went by himself to Mar-a-Lago this weekend—no senior staffers to monitor him and his tweets. You can keep track of his trips there—seven out of weekends thus far—and expenditures to taxpayers. He left after referring to the U.S. armed forces as “my” military and glowing about the “most beautiful” cake in his restaurant there while talking about bombing Syrians to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Hopefully, Xi didn’t get sick while he was at Mar-a-Lago because health inspectors has found undercooked meat and dangerous fish at the resort, one time before the state visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Among two broken coolers, 13 violations, three of them high priority, were found in the kitchen were a record for a resort that charges $200,000 in initiation fees.

Distraction of the Week: DDT’s polls rose only four percent with the Syrian bombing so he dropped the “mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan, the first time that the nation’s largest non-nuclear bomb was used. The nickname supposedly comes from an acronym for the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, but considering that the most destructive device outside of nuclear bombs was developed by men, built by men, and dropped by men, it might more appropriately be called “father of all bombs.” The replacement cost is $16 million; the number of ISIS fighters killed is 36. Each death costs almost one-half million dollars in replacement charges for the bomb. Asked about whether he approved the strike, DDT refused to answer.

At the same time, DDT’s bullying tweets about North Korea are causing increasing tension with a country that could easily release nuclear bombs on the United States. Han Song Ryol, North Korea’s vice foreign minister, said, “Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words. We will go to war if they choose,” he added. Without DDT keepers for a long weekend at Mar-a-Lago, the U.S. could be at war with North Korea by Monday.

Steep Learning Curve: About the healthcare plan, DDT said, “Who knew it was so complicated?” After talking with Chinese President Xi Jinping for ten minutes, he said that “it’s not so easy” for Beijing to quickly take care of North Korea. DDT told Xi that he “should let North Korean leader Kim Jong Un know the U.S. doesn’t just have aircraft carriers, but also nuclear submarines.” As if the entire world doesn’t know?! Then he protested that “you cannot allow a country like that to have … nuclear weapons.” First, North Korea already has these weapons, and second, DDT said during his campaign that all countries should have nuclear weapons and just fight with them. have nuclear weapons.

Whither Syria: Last week, DDT bombed Syria after warning Russia to get out of the way and probably letting Russia warn Syria. This week, he bombed Syria again, killing 18 members of the ISIS-opposition team. He claims that “we’re not going into Syria,” but the U.S. already has at least 1,000 members of the military stationed in the country. DDT’s Syrian policy during the past two weeks could cause whiplash:

  • March 30, 2017 – Bashar Assad can stay in power; the U.S. won’t take part in another Middle Eastern conflict against a leader backed by Russia.
  • April 5-6, 2017 –  Assad must leave power because of his alleged chemical attack that killed about 80 people; DDT bombed the Shayrat airbase in Syria.
  • April 6-10, 2017: The issue is not Assad but chemical weapons use.
  • April 9, 2017: Attack Isis first and let Assad stay or go depending on the Russian position; (Tillerson) the priority is the defeat of ISIS, and overthrowing Assad would be disastrous.
  • April 9, 2017: The country should have multiple priorities beyond defeating ISIS.
  • April 10, 2017: The U.S. will respond to barrel bombs by bombing Syria.
  • April 10, 2017: No, the U.S. will not respond to barrel bombs.

Erasing the Holocaust: In an effort to justify DDT’s Syrian bombings, Press Secretary Sean Spicer called Bashar Assad worse than Adolf Hitler because the Nazi leader did not “sink to the level of using chemical weapons.” Questioned about his statement, Spicer apologized and said that the Hitler used gas in the “Holocaust centers.” Yet he maintained that Assad’s acts were worse because Hitler didn’t use “airplanes to drop chemical weapons on innocent people.” On the first day of Passover, commemorating the Jewish flight from Egypt in 1313 BCE, Spicer didn’t mention the six million Jews killed during the Nazi regime, but he personally called Jewish donor Sheldon Adelson to apologize—but no one else.

More Spicer Statements:  Earlier in the week, Spicer had to take back his statement that DDT’s bombing took out 20 percent of Syria’s entire air force by explaining it was 20 percent of one wing—about 12 planes out of several hundred. He said he didn’t want to draw attention away from DDT’s attempts to “destabilize” the Middle East. No, that’s not a typo. More of Spicer’s gaffes here. At a townhall meeting, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) said that Spicer “needs to go.”

Ally Russia: Spicer also referred to Russia as one of our allies. At a G7 meeting in Italy with six other industrialized nations, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” Abandoning Ukraine would give Tillerson a lot of money from Russian oil. Asked what Tillerson meant by his question, State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond said, “Rhetorical device.”

Another Firing: The National Security Council is still suffering from shifting members. Michael Flynn was fired, Steve Bannon was demoted, and now GOP pundit K.T. McFarland got the axe. Known for bragging in a meeting about “wearing shoes from Ivanka Trump’s brand,” she early on in her brief tenure told seasoned staff members that they needed to “make America great again.” Her disappearance follows several other potential major DDT-chosen players in the administration during just a few months. Evidently she was offered a job as ambassador to Singapore.

No More Data to Shame “Sanctuary Cities”: After only three weeks of publishing a weekly report about cities that supposedly refused to cooperate with ICE, DDT has stopped this effort because of massive mistakes. Another reason may be that the reports show the incompetency of ICE as they confused different counties in statistics and blamed some areas for events in others.

Texas Voters Win: Veasy v. Abbott has been wandering the courts for years, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that the Texas voter ID law’s intent is discriminatory against minorities. If the court order is upheld on appeal, the entire law would be thrown out, and Texas would be brought back under federal supervision. The question now is whether five SCOTUS justices will agree if the high court takes the case.

Iran Deal Successful: One of DDT’s virulent criticisms during the campaign was President Obama’s agreement with Iran to control its nuclear weapons. Iran is following the agreement—probably to the disappointment of DDT who would like to see failure for all the former president’s actions.

Lawsuit of the Week: Watchdog groups plan to sue DDT because he has stopped releasing logs of visitors to the White House, including lobbyists. The problem became obvious last week when Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) reviewed intelligence reports on the White House grounds before he briefed DDT about what DDT’s staff told him. In the past, exceptions to the visitor logs have been private visits to the family. The defendant is the Department of Homeland Security, overseeing the Secret Service, which is subject to freedom of information requests. Information is also being sought from DDT properties where he holds meetings such as Mar-a-Lago.

Climate Lawsuits against DDT: Seventeen states are suing the federal administration regarding DDT’s orders to promote climate change, including the implementation of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that sets standards for power plants. The group also notified Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, that they will sue to if the government stalls on standards requiring specific electrical items meet low-carbon emission goals. In addition, it has petitioned New York federal courts to force DDT to implement efficiency standards for other goods, citing no justifiable reason for delaying these regulations for another six months.

Resistance: Lest DDT think that the protesting against him and his policies have been quelled, three protest marches are scheduled for the second half of April, one of them tomorrow:

  • April 15: Tax March, demanding that DDT release his tax returns.
  • April 22: March for Science, building a “broad, nonpartisan, and diverse coalition of organizations and individuals who stand up for science. We are advocating for evidence-based policymaking, science education, research funding, and inclusive and accessible science.”
  • April 29: People’s Climate March, defending the environment and mitigating the harmful effects of climate change.

More failures and bit more of Trumpia tomorrow.

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March 7, 2017

Wear Red!

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. Yesterday, the Senate voted to remove President Obama’s executive order Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces. Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. With a party line of 49 to 48, three senators didn’t vote: Flake (AZ), Isakson, (GA), and Sullivan (AK). Five women—Capito (WV), Collins (ME), Ernst (IA), Fischer (NE), and Murkowski (AK)—voted against women’s rights. Recently, Kellyanne Conway, Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) counselor, said that feminists hate powerful women. She’s wrong: feminists hate the actions of powerful women in keeping all women from having rights.

Companies bidding on federal contracts worth $500,000 or more will not need to disclose their history of federal labor or civil rights laws violations of workplace safety, minimum wages, and overtime laws. Companies with contracts of $1 million of over can force employees into arbitration for claims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other discrimination. Wrongdoings can’t be publicized by keeping the claims out of court and refusing to allow employees to tell anyone else, even in the case of sexual harassment and assault. Workers reporting discrimination or harassment are sent to private proceedings arbitrated by people chosen and paid for by employers. Proceedings, filings, and decisions are secret.

The GOP repeal of President Obama’s regulations guarantees that workers, especially women who are in the majority of low-wage jobs, lose their “day in court” just by taking a job. People cannot regain their rights until Congress passes a law to reinstate their protections.

A report from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) shows what women have lost.

Action: Call your senator (202-224-3121) and say either thank you for voting against the bill—as I will in Oregon—or say that you are disappointed because the senator voted for H.J. Res. 37 that significantly harms victims of sexual harassment and workers.  

Other activities: Women are striking, but 9thers cannot because they can lose their jobs, cause serious problems for others, or suffer abuse in their own homes. Simple protests are not spending money except at small, women- and minority-owned businesses. Another action of solidarity for A Day without a Woman is to wear red.  

Male allies can care for children, do housework, and talk with workplace decisionmakers about family-friendly policies such as paid leave or flexible scheduling.

Yesterday Republicans unrolled its new repeal attack on the Affordable Care Act that includes defunding Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of reproductive health services in the nation annually serving 2.5 million women, men, and adolescents at its 650 health center. Nearly 80% of these people had incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level and prevents an estimated 579,000 unintended pregnancies each year. In 2016, 26% of patients at a Planned Parenthood site said it was the only place they could go for the services they required. Abortions comprise only three percent of its services, and taxpayer money pays for absolutely none of these. Videos used by Republicans in their attacks on Planned Parenthood were proved to be bogus, and even VP Mike Pence couldn’t find any wrongdoing in his state of Indiana.

Defunding” is a misnomer because Planned Parenthood gets paid for its work. The only month that the organization receives is reimbursement for non-abortion health services such as birth control, Pap smears, breast exams, and STI tests, through Medicaid and the Title X family planning program. The bill only prevents Medicaid from working with Planned Parenthood. People could no longer choose Planned Parenthood for health care. Their clinics work like very other health care provider, including hospitals in obtaining reimbursement. People would no longer be allowed to choose Planned Parenthood as a health care provider. In many cases, Planned Parenthood doesn’t receive reimbursements for all the costs of their services.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) lied when he said that there are 20 federal community health centers for every Planned Parenthood. This would only be true by counting every dentists’ offices, homeless shelters, food banks, mental health clinics and cosmetic surgeons as “community health services.” The truth is that only qualified health centers number only one-third of Planned Parenthood clinics, and the wait is twice the time–a death sentence for the need for immediate care.

Doubters need to know that Resistance does work, no matter how small. Andrew Puzder, a major violator in sexual harassment, discrimination, and wage violations, won’t be labor secretary. Women who protested the loss of their health care at town hall meetings made GOP members of Congress so nervous that seven Republican senators are no longer strong supporters of repealing health care. One North Carolina school district need to cancel classes for tomorrow because of female teachers’ plans to strike.

The reason for a strike on International Women’s Day is to show how much women contribute to the work force. Visibility makes a huge difference, as shown by the women’s marches, estimated at almost four million people, on the day after DDT’s inauguration.

Actions on International Women’s Day are taking place around the world, for example one in London on budget day. The English movement has adopted the broom as a symbol because together the bristles are strong. Nina Lopez, a coordinator for the Global Women’s Strike, said:

“International Women’s Day feels very different this year. Women are spearheading a global movement for change–this is feminism of the 99%. It’s not just about breaking through the glass ceiling or getting in the boardroom, it’s about recognizing the value of caring and unpaid work. Women throughout the world are doing double the work [of men] because the majority do the work of the home, yet they are still being paid less. That has to end.”

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is closing the Tower Bridge for the women’s march because, he said, it is “unacceptable that in 2017 in London, the most progressive city in the world, your gender can still determine how much you get paid.” He encouraged men and boys to join the march.

Men, in case you think that tomorrow is a sexist event, you have an International Men’s Day on November 19. I’m curious what missing rights you would want.

Some people object to strikes, boycotts, or other actions that aren’t “ladylike.” A letter to an Oregon newspaper objected to “pussy hats” but didn’t protest DDT’s blatant comments about “grabbing [women] by the pussy.” Without protests, however, women’s work is largely invisible and women’s rights are non-existent. In the home, women have more chores and child care duties than men, and at work women are more likely to have tasks that men don’t want to do. Women get paid less or nothing for their extra efforts while their work is taken for granted. A popular book a few years ago was Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, purporting to show how women can gain ground. Most women who “lean in,” however, just get fired from their jobs. Significant social change doesn’t come without protests—and that includes strikes and boycotts.

Women in the United States by the numbers:

  • 59 countries have had female presidents or prime ministers in the past century, but not the United States.
  • 20 percent of the seats in Congress are held by women, compared to 30 percent in Europe.
  • 10 percent of U.S. mutual fund managers are female, compared to 20 percent elsewhere.
  • 19 percent of women in the U.S. are self-made, compared to 50 percent in Asia.
  • 1 year ago the U.S. Army denied burial rights at Arlington National Cemetery to female World War II pilots because they had never been true soldiers. A second act of Congress was required to restore their rights—again.

In response to DDT’s boast about sexually assaulting women with impunity, Michelle Obama said:

“It reminds us of stories we heard from our mothers and grandmothers about how . . . even though they worked so hard, jumped over every hurdle to prove themselves, it was never enough.”

In the last presidential election, 53 percent of white women voted for DDT and many of them supported Republicans. They are now amazed that the GOP plans to take away their health insurance. It’s time for women to wake up and see what they are losing by voting for people who promise to take away women’s rights.

International Women’s Day Message: Wear red, down tools, and buy local.

August 5, 2012

Nun Closes Down U.S. Nuclear Facility

The nun’s bus tour may be over, but one 82-year-old nun is still in the news. Megan Rice was one of three activists who succeeded in temporarily closing “The Atomic City,” the U.S. government’s only facility for handling, processing, and storing weapons-grade uranium. They cut through perimeter fences at the facility at Oak Ridge (TN) and reached the wall of a building where highly enriched uranium, a key nuclear bomb component, is stored. The activists triggered security sensors but were still able to get through four fences and walk for “over two hours” before reaching the uranium storage building.

The security breach occurred nine days ago, but the shutdown, which applies to “all nuclear operations” at the site, didn’t start until five days later. Rice and her two co-conspirators Michael Walli, 63, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, were held in custody before Rice and Walli were released after a three-and-a-half-hour hearing in Knoxville (TN) last Friday. Boertje-Obed waived his right to a detention hearing and remains in jail. A hearing or arraignment is set for this coming Thursday, and the trial is set for October 9.

Their purpose was not to show how weak security was at the facility. Ralph Hutchinson, coordinator for the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, said the three of them intended to take a stand against nuclear weapons. “It wasn’t so they could show how easy it was to bust into this bomb plant, it was because the production of nuclear weapons violates everything that is moral and good,” Hutchinson said. “It is a war crime.”

Despite their intent, their actions did show the weakness of the place’s security. The private contractor responsible for protecting the facility, WSI Oak Ridge, is a subsidiary of the world’s biggest security firm G4S. That’s the same company which caused the British military to fill in for security when the company failed to provide 3,500 of the guaranteed 10,400 security guards for the Olympic Games in London. Mitt Romney, a strong supporter of privatization in all areas, criticized the quality of security for the Olympics while he was in London.

Conservatives who want to turn all government functions over to the private sector might want to observe the weakness of this philosophy.  Or perhaps an 82-year-old nun is stronger and smarter than any terrorist in the world.

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