Tuesday, October 31, 2017

End of Today's News

Real life has blessed me with a good job. Unfortunately, because of the hours needed to work that job, my blogging time will be severely limited. This means I will not be able to blog regularly, which means the end of my "Today's News" feature.

I want to personally thank all of you who have given me your eyeballs here for almost 2 years. I have enjoyed writing for you, and I hope I have given you a reason to keep coming back here over that time. I like to think I have always been honest with you, even when it was brutal.

My commodity was, and is, the TRUTH. Going forward, I will continue to comment here when I can. This isn't my last post. Just the end of regular posting. But the TRUTH will always be here.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Gone fishing

Not really, but I'm calling in sick to the blog. Not really sick, mind you. Just not feeling it today. I will return tomorrow, God willing and the creeks don't rise.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Weekly Finale: Fats Domino

This week's musical finale comes on a sad note with the death of Fats Domino, at the age of 89.

Fats Domino became a musical sensation with the song, "Blueberry Hill", which reached #2 on the U.S. music charts in 1956 (#1 on the R&B charts). He must have known he made it big when he appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show":

But where Domino really shined was when he took a bluesy theme and gave it the special treatment only he could, with that big smile of his, which said, "Yeah, you got me blue now, but you ain't beaten me yet!" The best example of this is in 1957's "I'm Walkin'":

The legacy of Fats Domino on rock and roll music is huge, having influenced such rockers as Elvis and Paul McCartney. But even later musicians weren't immune to the Domino's musical prowess. Just consider 1955's "Ain't That a Shame", written by Domino and Dave Bartholomew:

That song led to one of the greatest covers in rock history, by Cheap Trick in 1979:

If there are pianos in Heaven, I am sure Fats is there now. And no matter what he is singing, he will be smiling.

That is all for this week's blogging. I will return Monday, but now I'm walkin' into the weekend. Enjoy yours!

Spain, JFK, and Groping Bush: Today's News for October 27th

The Spanish Senate was due to vote on the Madrid government's unprecedented plans to seize control of the autonomous region of Catalonia on Friday, as the crisis over the province's bid for independence comes to a head.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy outlined plans to dissolve the Catalan parliament under a never-before-used article of the country's constitution, vowing to remove the region's elected leaders as soon as possible and hold new elections.

The Senate -- where Rajoy's Popular Party has a majority -- must first approve the measures, drawn up under Article 155 of the constitution.
Somebody needs to inform Spain that you can't keep holding elections until you get the results you like. The only form of democracy that allows for that is called "corrupt". Considering Spain's government undemocratically interfered with Catalonia's last election, they don't have much justification for further interference in Catalonia.

...members of Catalonia's regional Parliament will continue a contentious debate Friday in Barcelona, the regional capital, on the best way forward.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont on Thursday backed away from a plan to call new elections himself, amid disagreement within his own party and pressure from opposing sides. Instead, he put the ball back in the court of the regional parliament, which will debate a proposal "to form the Catalan Republic as an independent and sovereign state" on Friday.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont

In other news....

Fox News:
 A senior reporter at a British newspaper received an anonymous phone call prior to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, alerting the reporter to “some big news” about 25 minutes in advance, according to a CIA file released Thursday.

“The caller said only that the Cambridge News reporter should call the American Embassy in London for some big news and then hung up,” reads the document from former CIA Deputy Director James Angleton.

The reporter, who was not identified in the Nov. 26, 1963, report, “never received a call of this kind before and MI5 said that he is known to them as a sound and loyal person with no security record.” (MI5 is Britian's Security Service, similar to the CIA in the United States.)

After Kennedy’s death, the reporter told the Cambridge police about the call and the police informed MI5. "The important point is that the call was made, according to MI5 calculations, about 25 minutes before the President was shot.”
While this is curious, even if it is true, it isn't definitive. "American Embassy in London" plus "big news" roughly 25 minutes in advance of JFK's assassination is an interesting coincidence, but it doesn't prove correlation. For all we know, the big news could have been related to some kind of trade agreement with Britain. We don't even have a clue who made the call. It could have been Lee Harvey Oswald, or even someone with whom Oswald shared his plans.

Nothing to see here, move along...

The Hill:
A third woman said Thursday that she too was groped by former President George H.W. Bush during a photo op in 2014.

Christina Baker Kline described the incident in a Slate op-ed, saying it took place at a Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy fundraiser.

"You wanna know my favorite book?" Kline recalled Bush telling her as she leaned closer to him for the photo, with she and her husband standing on either side of Bush's wheelchair.

"President Bush put his arm around me, low on my back. His comic timing was impeccable. 'David Cop-a-feel,' he said, and squeezed my butt, hard, just as the photographer snapped the photo. Instinctively, I swiped his hand away," Kline wrote.
This is pretty creepy stuff. It gets worse:
A spokesperson for Bush issued an apology on behalf of the former president on Wednesday.

"At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures," Bush spokesman Jim McGrath said in the statement.

"To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke - and on occasion, he has patted women's rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner. Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate," it added.
If Bush wants to be a dirty old man, we get it. Just admit it, ok? That way women can keep their distance going forward.

At the very least, he needs to get new joke material. "David Cop-a-feel" is lame by my standards, and my standards are pretty loose. (Pun intended.)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Age of Sexual Harassment: Today's News for October 26th

Veteran journalist Mark Halperin sexually harassed women while he was in a powerful position at ABC News, according to five women who shared their previously undisclosed accounts with CNN and others who did not experience the alleged harassment personally, but were aware of it.

"During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me," Halperin said in a statement to CNN Wednesday night. "I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize. Under the circumstances, I'm going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation."

...But women who spoke to CNN say he also had a dark side not made public until now. The stories of harassment shared with CNN range in nature from propositioning employees for sex to kissing and grabbing one's breasts against her will. Three of the women who spoke to CNN described Halperin as, without consent, pressing an erection against their bodies while he was clothed. Halperin denies grabbing a woman's breasts and pressing his genitals against the three women.
Three women claim it? If true, this is pretty damning evidence. Even a trial jury would have a hard time ignoring the same testimony from three witnesses.

Halperin is clearly a serial harasser/misogynist/sexual predator. But there are a lot of sexual harassment charges being tossed around these days:

As the Harvey Weinstein scandal spreads like an STD throughout the entertainment industry worldwide, as the courage of those coming forward to name names inspires similar courage in others, we cannot allow ourselves to become so accustomed to the allegations that they lose their power to outrage.

Although some male victims have come forward, the alleged victims here are mostly vulnerable young women and children. Worse, so far, all of the alleged abusers are the very men whose primary responsibility in any civilized society is to protect women and children.

As a means to understand just how, yes, institutional these allegations are, here is a list (in no particular order) of the accused and their alleged misdeeds, which will be updated as needed.

Unless otherwise indicated, these stand only as allegations.

So far, 43 and counting… 
Click the link above to see the entire list, but 43 is significant. While there are a few serial harassers on the list, there are also a few one-timers, such as:
4. Oliver Stone – Oscar-Winning Director
Accused of groping a woman at a party.  
Maybe Stone is guilty of this. but one incident (at a party no less) shouldn't lump him in with the likes of Harvey Weinstein or other serial harassers. People who use their power or fame to allow themselves to sexually abuse women is inexcusable on a far different level than one simple indiscretion at a party.

This isn't excusing Stone's alleged action, but it is a recognition that this is beginning to look more like a witch hunt than a serious investigation into institutionalized sexual harassment within the entertainment industry. Try to keep this in perspective.

In other news...

Daily Mail:
Fats Domino, the amiable rock 'n' roll pioneer whose steady, pounding piano and easy baritone helped change popular music while honoring the traditions of the Crescent City, has died.

He was 89.

Mark Bone, chief investigator with the Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, coroner's office, said Domino died of natural causes early Tuesday.

His daughter said he was surrounded by family and friends and died peacefully the previous day.
It's a sad day for music.

But in somewhat brighter news...

“Why do we keep doing this to ourselves?” Donna Bailey, a Democratic state representative in Maine and crusader against anachronistic and dangerous institutions, asked the Wall Street Journal (paywall). It’s an excellent question.

Earlier this year, Bailey sponsored a bill that would move Maine to the Atlantic Time Zone, an hour ahead of its current position in the Eastern Time Zone, and no longer observe Daylight Saving Time. The bill passed both chambers of the Maine state legislature. But the Senate added a provision that Maine voters must approve the change in a referendum, and the referendum could only be triggered by neighboring Massachusetts and New Hampshire changing their time, too. Since neither of those states had immediate plans to change their time zones, the move seemed doomed.

But now there is hope. Massachusetts is considering a permanent change in its time zone. A commission is studying the issue was prompted by public health advocate Tom Emswiler. He argues that a shift to Atlantic Time would boost the economy by encouraging college students to stay in Massachusetts, instead of moving to sunnier places like New York City. If the commission votes to recommend the change next week, the report will move to lawmakers and maybe result in legislation. It is a long shot, to be sure. If Massachusetts moves to Atlantic Time, Maine probably will too, and that will pressure New Hampshire to follow.
...A better part of these proposals is the ditching of Daylight Saving Time. There are well-documented costs of changing clocks each year, including car accidents and heightened stress. Not every country, or even state, observes twice-yearly time changes, and those that do, change clocks on different days. It creates a semi-annual state of chaos.
We can only hope that this changes soon, and spreads throughout the rest of the country. End the daylight savings insanity!

By the way, daylight savings time ends November 5th.

Wednesday Wisdom: George Carlin

"One great thing about getting old is that you can get out of all sorts of social obligations just by saying you're tired."--George Carlin (1937-2008)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Protecting Banks: Today's News for October 25th

The Senate has voted to nullify a rule allowing consumers join together to sue banks or credit card companies, with Vice President Pence breaking the tie. GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham and John Kennedy joined all 48 Democrats in voting no. The rule banned companies from using forced settlements in consumer disputes.

As the AP notes, the rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau "exposed banks to large class-action lawsuits. Supporters say that possibility would help ensure banks, credit card companies and other lenders treat consumers appropriately. The vote comes months after House action and reflects the effort of the Trump administration and congressional Republicans to undo regulations that the GOP argues harm the free market."
Allowing lawsuits harms the free market? Somebody needs to re-educate Republicans on what a free market is.

In other news...

New York Daily News:
An AMC actress claims that former President George H.W. Bush groped her from his wheelchair during a screening.

Heather Lind, who starred in “Turn: Washington’s Spies,” detailed her accusations in a lengthy Instagram post Tuesday, when she said she was “disturbed” after seeing a photo of President Obama with the 41st president.

“I found it disturbing because I recognize the respect ex-presidents are given for having served. And I feel pride and reverence toward many of the men in the photo. But when I got the chance to meet George H. W. Bush four years ago to promote a historical television show I was working on, he sexually assaulted me while I was posing for a similar photo,” Lind, 34, wrote.

“He didn’t shake my hand. He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side. He told me a dirty joke. And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again. Barbara rolled her eyes as if to say ‘not again.’ His security guard told me I shouldn’t have stood next to him for the photo.”
...In a statement to the Daily News, the former President did not deny the allegations.

"President Bush would never — under any circumstance — intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologizes if his attempt at humor offended Ms. Lind," his spokesman said.
Really? He is going to use the "just kidding" excuse?

Didn't he use that excuse to justify new taxes?

Seriously, in other political news...

Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that led to the now-infamous dossier of allegations about President Donald Trump and Russia, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.

The source said the law firm Perkins Coie, as part of its representation of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained the intelligence firm Fusion GPS and entered "into an engagement for research services that began in April 2016 and concluded before the election in early November."

The Washington Post was first to report the news Tuesday.

The newspaper, citing people familiar with the matter, said a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC hired Fusion GPS, which in turn hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, whose research makes up the document. The Post said Perkins Coie lawyer Marc Elias retained the research firm in April 2016 as the GOP primary was winding down and Trump was increasingly likely to clinch his party's nomination.

CNN previously reported Fusion GPS's anti-Trump research was initially funded by anti-Trump Republicans during the GOP primaries, and Democrats began paying the research firm later on, after Trump became the presumptive nominee. The Washington Post reports that Fusion GPS hired Steele after the Democratic funding began and the general election picture grew clearer.
So let's get this straight: This false report wasn't generated by the U.S. government's intelligence community. It wasn't started or paid for by Republican opposition during the primaries. It WAS paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign JOINTLY.

It is crap like this that makes Trump look far better than he deserves. The Democrats have nobody but themselves to blame for the mess of the last election.