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Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Paul Krugman: Biden and Sanders, Behaving Badly

A bad-faith debate over health care coverage.

Health care was a key factor in Democrats’ victory in the 2018 midterm elections, and it should be a big plus in 2020 as well. The shared Democratic position — that every legal resident should have access to affordable care, regardless of income or health status — is immensely popular. The de facto Republican position — that we should go back to a situation in which those whose jobs don’t come with health benefits, or who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions, can’t get insurance — is so unpopular that G.O.P. candidates consistently lie about their own proposals.

But right now, two of the major contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, are having an ugly argument about health care that could hurt the party’s chances. There are real, important differences between the two men’s policy proposals, and it’s fine to point that out. What’s not fine is the name-calling and false assertions. Both men are behaving badly. And for their party’s sake, and their country’s, they need to stop it.

Let’s back up. There are, broadly speaking, two ways a country can try to achieve universal health insurance. One is single-payer: The government simply pays the bills. The other retains a role for private insurance but relies on a combination of regulations and subsidies to ensure that everyone gets covered.

Charles M. Blow: Denying Racism Supports It

Refusing to address and acknowledge the prejudices in our country is a big part of the problem.

When did we arrive at the point where applying the words racist and racism was more radioactive than actually doing and saying racist things and demonstrating oneself to be a racist?

How is it that America insists on knowledge of the unknowable — what lurks in the heart — in order to assign the appellation?

Why are so many Americans insisting that racism requires conscious, malicious intent in order for the title to be earned?

Last week, much of America wrestled with whether to label the president racist after he published racist tweets about four congresswomen of color, demonstrating once again in the most overt terms that he is indeed a racist.

And yet many, including those in the media, struggled with whether or not to label his tweet, and by extension Donald Trump himself, as racist.

Continue reading

Cartnoon

Is it ever like this this?

Always.

The Breakfast Club (White Rabbit)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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Race rioting hits Detroit; Former President Ulysses S. Grant dies; Britain’s Prince Andrew marries ‘Fergie’; Vanessa Williams gives up Miss America crown; Golfer Tiger Woods wins career grand slam.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.

Aldous Huxley

Continue reading

Six In The Morning Tuesday 23 July 2019

 

South Korea fires warning shots at Russian military aircraft

South Korea says its jets fired hundreds of warning shots at a Russian surveillance plane that entered its airspace on Tuesday.

Officials said the plane twice violated the airspace over the Dokdo/Takeshima islands, which are occupied by Seoul but also claimed by Japan.

South Korea’s Ministry of Defence said it scrambled fighter jets in response and fired 360 warning shots.

Russia has denied violating the country’s airspace.

Moscow said two of its bombers carried out a planned drill over “neutral waters” and denied any warning shots were fired by South Korean jets.

This is the first incident of its kind between Russia and South Korea.

Puerto Rico police fire teargas on thousands of protesters calling for governor to resign

  • US island territory hit by general strike
  • Ricardo Rosselló insists: ‘I am a good man’

Police in San Juan fired tear gas on Monday night to disperse thousands of protesters demanding Puerto Rico’s governor resign over offensive chat messages, the latest scandal to hit a bankrupt island struggling to recover from 2017 hurricanes.

Police moved in at about 11pm to break up protesters still on the streets of San Juan’s old city following day-long demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of residents. It follows Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s attempt to cling on to power despite resigning as president of the ruling New Progressive party and announcing he will not run for re-election next year.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro restricts drugs policy council, legalizes agritoxins

It was a busy day for the president, who stripped the drug policy council of independent members and legalized dozens of agritoxins. Jair Bolsonaro wants tighter control of Brazil’s deforestation data.

President Jair Bolsonaro wants tighter control of government data on deforestation. He spoke just days after accusing Brazil’s space agency, the INPE, of falsifying data.

Data released by the INPE in July data shows deforestation accelerating — raising concerns as officials negotiate an EU trade deal. Bolsonaro said his Cabinet should review data before the INPE releases it.

The president came out swinging at regulators Monday. His Agriculture Ministry authorized 51 pesticides and herbicides, bringing the number of agritoxins permitted to 290 in the just over half a year of his government so far.

Hong Kong police criticised for failing to protect protesters from attacks

Hong Kong police faced criticism on Monday for an apparent failure to protect anti-government protesters and passersby from attack by what opposition politicians suspected were gang members at a train station over the weekend.

Sunday’s attack came during a night of escalating violence that opened new fronts in Hong Kong‘s widening crisis over an extradition bill that could see people from the territory sent to China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts.

Protesters had earlier on Sunday surrounded China’s main representative office in the Asian financial hub and defaced walls and signs and clashed with police.

US expands fast-track deportations of undocumented migrants

The Trump administration to expand its powers to deport migrants without allowing them to appear before court.

The administration of US President Donald Trump announced on Monday that it will vastly extend the authority of immigration officers to deport migrants without allowing them to appear before judges, its second major policy shift on immigration in eight days.

Starting on Tuesday, fast-track deportations can apply to anyone in the United States illegally for less than two years.

Previously, those deportations were largely limited to people arrested almost immediately after crossing the Mexican border.

Kyoto arson suspect likely spent hours scouting anime studio area

The suspect in last week’s deadly arson attack on a Kyoto Animation Co studio may have walked for hours scouting the area and that of the nearby company headquarters the day before the fire, investigative sources said Tuesday.

Shinji Aoba, 41, who allegedly ignited the fire that left 34 people dead in the three-story studio building in Kyoto on Thursday, likely bought empty gasoline containers at a hardware store located directly 5 kilometers from the studio, put them on a handcart and pushed it all the way to the area of the targeted buildings, they said.

The walk could have taken more than an hour as anyone trying to get to the anime studio from the store needs to use a bridge to cross a river and to pass through a complex residential area.

 

In Other Improbably Coifed Racist Xenophobes…

Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson is as likely to avoid an Irish backstop as fly to the moon
by Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
Mon 22 Jul 2019

Build that wall! Build that wall! So Donald Trump’s fans roared their support for his xenophobic rants. So scream fans of Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit. He wants walls against the EU in place by 31 October. But he has no more idea than Trump about how to erect them. This is despite having been foreign secretary and with a former Brexit negotiator, Dominic Raab, at his side.

You cannot be outside a customs union and not have a border. You cannot have friction and no friction. A bureaucratic mountain of technology may withdraw the border some miles back, but somewhere there must be tariffs, payments, forms, regulation and inspection. A 40% tariff on a shipment of lamb is a barrier, wherever it gets levied. A chlorinated chicken inspection is a wall, wherever it is done.

In the Telegraph today, the only answer Johnson could give to this paradox is casually to refer to the moon. If the Apollo mission, he writes, “could use hand-knitted computer codes to make a frictionless re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere, we can solve the problem of frictionless trade at the Northern Ireland border”. This trivialises what, for thousands of businesses, is now misery and, in the case of farmers, bankruptcy.

While no-deal Brexit may merely cause severe and costly disruption at Dover and other sea- and airports, the open roads of Northern Ireland cannot be so policed. No deal will mean anarchy, or state-sponsored banditry. Johnson continues to claim he can avoid a “hard Irish border”. But he still wants a hard border with the EU, so where is it to be? It can only be down the Irish Sea. Bang goes whatever is left of Johnson’s commons majority.

There is no majority anywhere, except in Johnson’s scrambled brain, for a no-deal Brexit. As Whitehall officials – if not men in white coats – gather round him in the coming weeks, they will tell him a brutal truth, political as much as administrative. He needs a deal badly, and the only route to that deal is through Dublin.

Johnson must go at once to Dublin and promise its prime minister, Leo Varadkar, to safeguard an open Irish border, which means a de facto customs union, for the time being. That is the only hope of Ireland inducing the EU27 to unlock some cosmetic redrafting of the withdrawal agreement – without which they will simply not play ball. Whatever humble pie he must swallow, Johnson must return from Dublin with a deal. So much for “taking back control”.

Trade is not about control but about power. The UK has little power against its bigger neighbour. If it wanted power it should have stayed in the EU, or at the very least in Thatcher’s single market. Johnson sacrificed such power to outflank his rivals for the leadership. He must now pay the price for that chicanery. An awful awakening beckons. If Johnson cannot get a Northern Ireland deal he faces parliamentary armageddon. Perhaps he can fly to the moon.

Cartnoon

Face it folks. Geek Bow Ties have been co-opted by the Alt-Right. Your new fashion accessory to signal “Oddness” is…

The Bowler

The breakfast Club (Questions)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

Wiley Post completes first solo flight around the world; Robber John Dillinger shot dead; Saddam Hussein’s sons killed in Iraq; The September 11th Commission releases its report; Birth of the Frisbee.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

We have to be that wedge that drives the question and asks the hard questions.

Danny Glover

Continue reading

Six In The Morning Monday 22 July 2019

 

‘Where were the police?’ Hong Kong outcry after masked thugs launch attack

Police accused of doing nothing to stop suspected triads storming train station and beating people including women and children

Pro-democracy activists and lawmakers in Hong Kong have accused the police of standing by as men dressed in white attacked commuters late on Sunday, leaving 45 hospitalised, including one who is critically injured.

Video footage from Hong Kong media showed dozens of men, most in masks, storming a subway station, chasing passengers and beating them with rods. Among those hurt in the attack, in Yuen Long in Hong Kong’s New territories, were demonstrators returning from a large anti-government rally, as well as a pregnant woman and a woman holding an infant, according to witnesses.

Germany’s India envoy visits ‘Nazi-inspired’ Hindu group

Ambassador Walter J Lindner’s visit to the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has stirred a controversy in India. Experts say the Hindu extremist group glorifies Adolf Hitler and his “cultural nationalism.”

Visit of Headquarters of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) in Nagpur and long meeting with its Sarsanghchalak (chief) Dr Mohan Bhagwat. Founded 1925, it is world’s largest voluntary organization – though not un-controversially perceived throughout its history…” Walter J. Lindner, Germany’s ambassador to India, wrote on Twitter last week.
Little did Lindner know that his visit to one of India’s most controversial Hindu extremist groups would trigger a huge backlash on social media, with liberal analysts, journalists and political commentators slamming his RSS outreach.

Israel demolishes Palestinian homes in Jerusalem area

Israel began demolishing a number of Palestinian homes it considers illegal south of Jerusalem early Monday, in a move which has drawn international concern.

The Palestinians immediately slammed the demolitions in the Sur Baher area which straddles the West Bank and Jerusalem, but Israeli defended the move as essential to its security.

Before dawn, hundreds of Israeli police and soldiers sealed off at least four buildings in the area close to the Israeli security barrier which cuts off the occupied West Bank, an AFP journalist said.

Reporters were prevented from reaching the buildings while residents and activists were dragged out of the homes.

Iran detains 17 citizens accused of spying for the CIA

Updated 0815 GMT (1615 HKT) July 22, 2019

Iran has detained 17 Iranian citizens accused of acting as spies for the United States Central Intelligence Agency, according to the country’s Ministry of Intelligence.

An Intelligence Ministry document sent to CNN claims Iran had broken up a CIA spying ring and captured 17 suspects, all of whom confessed to acting as spies for the CIA.
“Defendants serving their sentences in prison mentioning tempting promises of CIA officers including emigration to USA, a proper job in America, and money,” the Intelligence Ministry document said. It added that the spy mission was to collect classified information “from substantial centers as well as intelligence/technical operations.”

The fight for Dragon Island

Rebecca Henschke and Callistasia Wijaya

Komodo dragons, owners of razor-sharp teeth and a venomous bite, are native to only one tiny corner of the globe.

Tourists have flocked to see them, and horror films have been inspired by them. Locals even believe they are physically and spiritually related to them.

But this human-lizard relationship may be about to change.

Authorities in Indonesia want to hand Komodo Island back to the dragons. They want to close it to mass tourism, and expel the inhabitants who have lived alongside the earth’s largest lizards for generations.

Constitution revision goal still far off for Abe

By Noriyuki Suzuki

Extending his track record of election victories for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has secured the political stability he needs to become the longest-serving leader in November. But it came with a bitter taste.

The ruling bloc of the LDP and its partner Komeito, together with like-minded independent lawmakers, lost its two-thirds majority in the upper house in Sunday’s election, likely thwarting his ambitions to revise the pacifist Constitution and go down in history as the first leader to do so.

As he pursues the policies that he hopes will define his administration and his legacy in the years to come, his “Abenomics” program also comes into focus, though its success looks to be increasingly hanging in the balance.

 

 

 

 

Not A Rant

Showtunes!

Him Again

Still traveling. I’d have to stream it later anyway.

Beyoncé

Blighty

House

I Dare You – The Regrettes

Castles – Freya Ridings

Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels – Todrick

Six In The Morning Sunday 21 July 2019

 

 

A whole nation just got hacked

Updated 0417 GMT (1217 HKT) July 21, 2019

Asen Genov is pretty furious. His personal data was made public this week after records of more than 5 million Bulgarians got stolen by hackers from the country’s tax revenue office.

In a country of just 7 million people, the scale of the hack means that just about every working adult has been affected.
“We should all be angry. … The information is now freely available to anyone. Many, many people in Bulgaria already have this file, and I believe that it’s not only in Bulgaria,” said Genov, a blogger and political analyst. He knows his data was compromised because, though he’s not an IT expert, he managed to find the stolen files online.

Hong Kong braces for another round of mass demonstrations

Police cordon off government complex ahead of Sunday’s pro-democracy march

Police and demonstrators braced for more mass protests in Hong Kong on Sunday, the latest in weeks of unrest in a political movement that shows few signs of slowing.

A planned march on Sunday marks the seventh consecutive weekend when residents have come out en masse against the government. The protests, which began over a now suspended extradition bill, have turned into a wider democracy movement in the Chinese territory.

Ahead of Sunday’s march through the city centre, police built water barriers around their headquarters and set a security cordon around the government complex. Metal fences, garbage bins and other street materials, which demonstrators have dismantled and made into makeshift barricades in past protests, have been removed. Workers have also glued bricks onto the ground to ensure they are not used as weapons.

Living SustainablyCan We Save the Planet Without Having to Do Without?

Many in Germany are trying to do their part to slow climate change. They are conscientious about the purchases they make, they ride bikes and they try to reduce their trash and carbon footprint. They can’t solve the problem on their own, but they could force politicians and businesses to act.

By , Anton Rainer,  and 

Saving the planet isn’t going to be easy. It’ll take effort. Like packing children’s lunches into recycled glass jars and wrapping them in wool socks to prevent them from shattering in kids’ backpacks. Or making homemade detergent out of curd soap, soda and water. Whatever it takes to avoid plastic packaging. The Meuser family has been living this way for half a year.

“We’re only taking small steps, but that alone feels so liberating,” says Maik Meuser, 42. “But we also have to invest time and energy,” says Nicole Kallwies-Meuser, 41.

Thousands rally in Moscow for free and fair local elections

More than 20,000 people packed a Moscow square Saturday to protest the authorities’ refusal to allow opposition candidates to register for local polls.

Joined by opposition leaders such as Alexei Navalny, protesters gathered in the capital after authorities refused to register independent politicians seeking to contest the September vote for the capital’s parliament.

The crowd chanted: “This is my city!”

White Counter, an NGO that tracks participation in protest rallies, said about 21,500 people took part in Saturday’s rally.

“We will show them this is a dangerous game,” Navalny bellowed from a stage set up on the protest square.

Profile: Farouk El-Baz, the Egyptian behind the Moon landings

Egyptian-born Farouk El-Baz was part of NASA’s Apollo 11 ground crew at just 31 years old.

by

Half a century ago, as Apollo 11’s lunar module, known as the Eagle, made its way to the surface of the Moon, rows of scientists and space experts back in the United States state of Texas joined the rest of the world in holding their breath.

Onboard the spaceflight were commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot, Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. Michael Collins, whose role was to ferry the two men from Earth and back again, manned the command module, Columbia, in orbit.

Among those at Mission Control in Houston was Gene Kranz, one of Apollo 11’s flight directors. But joining the rest of the ground crew was a brilliant 31-year-old Egyptian scientist. His name was Farouk El-Baz – and his participation with Apollo 11 would launch his scientific career to dizzying heights.

Bianca Devins: The teenager whose murder was exploited for clicks

Like many other teenagers her age, Bianca Devins lived her life online.

The 17-year-old had recently graduated from high school and was looking forward to starting a psychology course at a community college later this year.

As last Saturday approached, she wrote on a gaming platform about how excited she was to be travelling the 250 miles from upstate New York to a concert in Queens. But before she could return home on Sunday morning, Bianca was dead.

The exact relationship she’d had with the man accused of killing her remains unclear. But in the hours after his arrest, it emerged he had shared graphic photographs of the murder online.

 

 

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