Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is about candy, fun and costumes.

Happy Halloween!

It’s That Time of Year…

By Anna Hessel

All About Pumpkin Spice

Happy Halloween, everyone!  The pandemic has changed how we celebrate, but it’s fun to remember Halloweens gone by, while dreaming up ways to make new memories.  The crisp fall air, bright and vivid autumn colors, and everything, from facial wash to floor polish, going all pumpkin spice, makes me think of Halloween. Chocolate, candy apples, and costumes, every child’s dream.  The crowning of our newest Miss America made me recall a particular Halloween costume of my youth.

A Mask of a Different Kind

Unlike the very cool Halloween ensembles we now see displayed in retail establishments, when I was child, costumes were different.  They came in a square box with a cellophane window and consisted of a one-piece garment made of a flimsy, shiny nylon, and a full face, molded plastic mask with cutouts for eyes, nostrils, and mouth.  Those masks were quite like a sauna for the face – those of us that have reached a certain age can remember that sweaty-faced feeling that came with wearing one of those frightful false faces.

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OPINION: Stop Voter Suppression

OPINION: Stop Voter Suppression

Voter suppression and subversion is nothing new

OPINION:

Stop Voter Suppression 

Election Subversion & Suppression: dilution of voter’s Influence

 

By William Jones and D. S. Mitchell

Look to the Constitution

The U.S. Constitution defines who is eligible to vote. For example, you must be a U.S. citizen over 18 years of age to vote. Each person can vote only once in a given election. Pretty straight forward stuff.

To Clarify

Voter fraud means ineligible votes get counted (ex. husband votes for Trump using dead wife’s mail-in ballot.) Voter suppression refers to any effort to prevent eligible voters from being allowed to vote.(ex. politicians divide up congressional districts to benefit their own political party, diluting the opponents impact at the ballot box.) Any manipulation of the vote goes against the democratic ideal.

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Senator Sinema, Has Heads Shaking

OPINION:
Senator Sinema, Has Heads Shaking

Kyrsten Sinema is taking lots of money from big pharma

OPINION:

Senator Sinema, Has Heads Shaking

Are There Moles Within The Democratic Party?

By William Jones

A Minority of Two

Senator Kyrsten Sinema has emerged as one of the two biggest roadblocks to President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan.  She left D. C.  recently for a fundraising trip to Europe. Sinema’s trip came amid ongoing negotiations over the bill and was a slap in the face to Democrats. Senators Sinema and Joe Manchin, are the lone Democratic senate holdouts blocking the President’s proposal. These two holding out against the majority of their party, is a big deal.

Just Tell Us What You Want

Bernie Sanders, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, recently criticized Sinema. Sanders just wants to know what she would support. Other senators have similarly accused Sinema of stonewalling her own party, refusing to define a position. President Biden is said to be “exasperated” after hours of talks with her. He and others have complained that Sinema doesn’t “move” from her position in negotiations and show so little respect, she often fails to  “return calls from the White House.”

Looking Across The Pond

Lawmakers are barred from raising money from foreign sources. However,  members of Congress occasionally travel overseas to solicit donations from Americans living abroad. Those overseas donors tend to be affluent and well-connected. Ms. Sinema’s office declined to tell reporters how long she would be abroad. They also declined to disclose what countries she was visiting, or how the trip was being paid for. No further information was provided regarding additional fund-raising for her campaign.

Big Pharma

Aside from looking for off shore money the Arizona senator has been soaking up donations from the pharmaceutical industry and other corporate groups who want to kill key parts of the bill. I am here to report she has continued to make time to meet with those donors.

$5,800 Per Seat

Last month, Sinema held a fundraiser with five business groups that oppose President Biden’s bill, charging attendees up to $5,800 to attend a 45-minute event. Earlier this month, Sinema left Washington to go to Arizona, where she attended a ritzy donor “retreat” at a high-end resort and spa, with no small donors in sight.

Refuses to Meet Constituents

Sinema’s refusal to engage elected members of her own party has extended to her constituents. Numerous constituents have complained that Sinema will not meet with them, either in her office or at a town hall. She has steadfastly refused to hold a single town hall since her election. Multiple groups within the sate of Arizona have already launched efforts to raise money in support of a Democratic primary challenger in 2024.

Hecklers Chase Sinema

Tensions have continued to rise between Sinema and her own constituents.  Arizona protesters repeatedly confronted the senator at several locations this month. Some even heckled her during a class presentation at Arizona State University and  then followed  her into a campus restroom. The Intercept reported that Sinema teaches an ASU class on fundraising, including topics like “how to cultivate large individual donors,” “opportunistic fundraising” and “corporate giving.” The topics alone leave little doubt as to her priorities.

Mounting Pressure Campaign

Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the ‘moderate’ Arizona Democrat who has objected to the size and scope of President Biden’s sweeping legislative agenda, has been trailed all over the country by progressive activists in an effort to intensify public pressure on her.  Besides the bathroom incident, activists have followed her onto an airplane and even to the Boston Marathon.

Deeply Disappointing

The United States Senate is split 50 Democratic senators and 50 Republican senators. V.P. Harris is then available to provide the tie breaking vote. Democrats need every Democrat to stand united to pass any bill. These facts have greatly empowered both Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema as the party’s vocal holdouts. Ms. Sinema has pushed for the House to adopt a separate, bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill while the larger budget package is being negotiated. She called the delay in voting on the infrastructure package “inexcusable” and “deeply disappointing” in early October.

Conclusion

Kyrsten Sinema is on rocky ground with her electorate. Angry constituents are confronting her, she is pissing off the crowd in the White House, and she has angered nearly all of her fellow senate Democrats. Sometimes there isn’t enough money to save your reputation.  Sinema was sent to the Senate to work for her constituents not the drug companies. Wake up Senator Sinema. The country is begging for what is in this bill, do your part to make it happen.

 References

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/13/us/politics/kyrsten-sinema-fundraising-europe.html

https://www.salon.com/2021/10/14/kyrsten-sinema-ditches-senate-negotiations-for-fundraising-trip-to-europe/

Sensible Joe, or Joe McNaughty?

OPINION:

Sensible Joe, or Joe McNaughty?

OPINION:

Sensible Joe, or Joe McNaughty?

Is it about the interests of West Virginians, fossil fuel, or himself ? 

By William Jones

Hackles are Up

West Virginia lawmaker Joe Manchin has been raising a lot of hackles amongst the Democratic caucus. Joe recently  announced that he wasn’t on board with the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. In fact, he said he was considering voting no when the package comes up for a vote. He wants everybody to slow it down and delay voting on it until 2022.

Last Best Chance

The Biden spending measure is vital. The opportunity is here to raise millions out of poverty and pass a substantive climate policy. The clock is ticking. The 2022 mid-terms are just around the corner.  Historically, the party out of power will re-take the House of Representatives, in the first two years of a new president’s term. So Manchin’s latest hairpin turn has attracted a lot of negative attention from his Democratic colleagues. As for Manchin, he can’t walk down the halls of congress without a flotilla of reporters following in hot pursuit, desperate to find out if he will continue to thwart his political party’s platform and his party’s president’s personal agenda.

Praise From the Press

Since his declaration, a piece in National Review has praised what it saw as Manchin’s fiscal instincts and willingness to stand up to fellow Democrats. A Brookings blog post argued that “his main concern that additional deficit financed spending adds to inflation risks is not unfounded.” A former adviser suggested to The Washington Post that Manchin is fundamentally mysterious and his vote is, as usual, unpredictable.

Counting the Money

Joe Manchin, though, made half a million dollars last year off his son’s coal company, meaning that coal paid him roughly three times the $174,000 salary he made last year as a public servant. Pundits don’t need to look much beyond that to understand what’s driving him.

And There’s More Money

Manchin has earned more than $4.5 million from Enersystems Inc. and Farmington Resources Inc., two coal industry companies he founded in the 1980s. He probably likes all the attention he’s getting, too. Maybe he fancies himself a champion of the forgotten man. But if on a given day you are trying to understand what Joe Manchin’s priorities are, it’s probably best to look to the priorities of the companies he’s gotten money from.

Lobbyists and Donations

In June, Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy told the Unearthed, a Greenpeace investigative outlet, that Manchin was among their key targets and that he’s participated in weekly meetings with company operatives. Overall, though, he’s received more donations from coal, oil, and gas companies this campaign cycle than every other senator.  Manchin got $10,000 from Exxon Mobil for his 2018 reelection campaign. His top donor so far for the 2022 cycle is Tellurian Inc., a gas company.

In Compliance 

Manchin’s spokesperson recently said the senator is in full compliance with all Senate ethics and financial disclosure rules. He also stated that Manchin continues to work to find a path forward on important climate legislation that maintains American leadership in energy innovation and critical energy reliability.

Denials All Around

Manchin has also denied the weekly meeting allegations in the Unearthed report. Manchin is working to ensure that the bill’s $150 billion clean electricity measure—the Clean Electricity Performance Program—will “protect and extend the use of coal and natural gas.” The senator has made it clear that he does not support legislation that would eliminate the burning of those fossil fuels — particularly coal and natural gas.

Conclusion

Politics can be ego-driven as well as cash-driven: Many politicians after all, just want to guard their piece of the congressional sandbox and yelp whenever that territory may appear threatened. But money certainly talks in Washington, and the kind coming to Joe Manchin from the fossil fuel industry appears to be screaming out against a progressive and meaningful climate policy.

References

https://newrepublic.com/article/163723/joe-manchin-vote-fossil-fuel

 

OPINION: Halloween Identities


OPINION: Halloween Identities

Halloween is all about candy and ghosts.

OPINION: Halloween Identities

By Megan Wallin

The Unspoken

In the United States, there are five (unspoken) varying brands of Halloween, celebrated by distinctly different groups. These celebratory traditions exist in order to satisfy the holiday-savoring appetites of the average American, who—sadly relies on holidays and social media clicks for their happiness rather than access to affordable healthcare, parental leave, clean air and water, pothole free roads, safe bridges, tuition free college, and a whole array of policies that could change their real world.

Type One: The Family with Children

You know this type. They’re the  ones you buy candy for, leave on a porchlight, and decorate your house (just a little) in the hopes to see little witches and Disney characters bound up to your door with their hapless, usually sleep-deprived parents, as all the adults spend a night being tricked into treating their little ones. There’s a sort of child-centric quality to most holidays, undeniably, but Halloween ranks quite highly on the list, with dress-up and make-believe already being prominent tenets of their young lives.

Escapism

The motivation behind most families going out to celebrate Halloween is to make memories that give their children something to talk about with their friends at school or daycare, and to give the parents some time away from the responsibilities inherent in staying home. Trick or treating, especially with kids, allows an escape from both your usual surroundings and the identity you wear day in and day out as you about work, school, and house chores.

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Plastic Waste, A Global Concern

Plastic Waste, A Global Concern

Plastic pollution is a world catastrophe

Plastic Waste, A Global Concern

By William Jones

What is Plastic?

Plastic is a synthetic organic polymer made from petroleum.  Plastic is ideally suited for a wide variety of applications. Packaging, building and construction, household and sports equipment, vehicles, electronics, and agriculture; the uses are endless. It is cheap, lightweight, strong and malleable. Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year. Half of plastic products are designed for single-use; such as shopping bags, cups, and straws. While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become addicted to single-use or disposable plastic — with severe environmental consequences.

Oil, Natural Gas and Coal

More than 99% of plastics are produced from chemicals derived from oil, natural gas, and coal — all of which are dirty, non-renewable resources. If current trends continue, by 2050 the plastic industry could account for 20% of the world’s total oil consumption.

Worrying Trends

We produce about 300 million tonnes (metric tons) of plastic waste each year. That’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population. We’re seeing  worrying trends. Since the 1950s, the rate of plastic production has grown faster than that of any other material. We’ve also seen a shift away from the production of durable plastic, and towards plastics that are meant to be thrown away after a single use. These single-use plastic products are everywhere. For many of us, they’ve become integral to our daily lives.

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Advice for the 65-Plus Crowd

Advice for the 65-Plus Crowd

Stay active as you age for a longer, happier life

Advice for the 65-Plus Crowd

Twenty-Three Tips for the Silver Sneakers Crew

By D. S. Mitchell

A friend of mine since high school sent me the following advice on aging.  I looked on the internet to find the source of the article and I was directed to a cemetery/mortuary site in California as the origin of the text.  For some reason I found that extremely funny. Post-Internment is not the time to worry about such things, I said to myself. Despite those feelings I did feel that there was some good information and thought it was worth passing on.  Although the following is not in quotes it has been authored by some unknown person other than me and I would gladly credit their work if I knew their name.

Twenty-Three Tips for the Over 65 Crowd

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The Vanishing Amazon Rainforest

The Vanishing Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon rainforest is in peril. Experts predict there will be no rainforest in 30 years.

The Vanishing Amazon Rainforest 

The clock is ticking. The emergency real. Experts believe that in 30 years the Amazon rainforest will likely be, just a memory. . .

By Megan Wallin 

Ongoing Threat

The Amazon rainforest has been under threat for decades. Despite its indisputable ecological value and unspeakable beauty we are at risk of losing this incredible natural resource.  Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has vowed to protect the forest and reduce harmful emissions. His words don’t match his actions. Unparalleled development continues, transforming forest into farmland or deforested deserts. The entire ecosystem has been disrupted, all for the price of temporary, but immediate profit.

A Ravaged Landscape

According to Reuters, Brazil’s ecological losses have increased 1.8 percent just during 2020, losing roughly 1,062 square kilometers of forest to greed and corruption. But logging isn’t the only issue to blame in this scenario. Farmland conversion, wildfires, droughts and pollution have ravaged the land. More than one billion acres of rainforest have been transformed into public, government or miscellaneous use since the year 1990.

Losing Value

The worth of an intact and thriving Amazon rainforest amounts to approximately a whopping $8.2 billion , but the forest is losing its value both economically and environmentally.  This world wonder spreads across Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. The Amazon rainforest extends over millions of miles, and provides a safe habitat for thousands of tropical animals. Furthermore, it is home to at least 500 tribal communities.

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Jeff Bezos: On To The Stars

Jeff Bezos: On To The Stars

In 3 decades Jeff Bezos has gone from selling books in his garage online to the richest man in the world.

Jeff Bezos: On To The Stars

By William Jones and D. S. Mitchell

 

A Gifted Child

A gifted child born to a teen mom, Bezos grew up never knowing his biological father. Reportedly the father was a top-rated unicyclist and circus performer. Jeff’s mother soon married a Cuban immigrant who had fled the Communist revolution. Miguel Bezos had his life shattered when his elite private Jesuit school was closed and his family’s lumberyard seized.

Passion And Struggle

When Jeff Bezos first started an online book shop in his garage in 1994, even he would have struggled to envision the sheer size and impact of Amazon today. With the internet still in its infancy, Bezos’ foresight on all things digital, combined with his passion for retail, enabled him to devise a revolutionary model for how consumers would one day purchase their goods. Fast forward 27 years, and Amazon has the infrastructure and the know-how to capitalize on an e-commerce market that continues to sky-rocket in popularity and profit.

Jeff Defined E-commerce

Bezos ran the mammoth technology corporation across three decades. Under his leadership, Amazon has become a dominant force in online retail, cloud hosting, media production, and artificial intelligence. Bezos helped define e-commerce as we know it and made ordering from Amazon the default for millions of shoppers locked in through the Prime subscription service. But his true master-stroke may be Amazon Web Services, a computing and cloud storage service that millions of companies now turn to. Amazon Web Services, Inc. is a subsidiary of Amazon providing on-demand cloud computing platforms and APIs to individuals, companies, and governments, on a metered pay-as-you-go basis.

Permeated

Journalists have speculated whether Bezos’ near-pathological competitiveness is a product of his early abandonment, similar to that of fellow tech overlord Steve Jobs. No doubt equally formative to a young boy was Bezos’ adoptive father and his view of the world. In fact, during an interview Jeff Bezos told  Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, that their home life was “permeated” by complaints about totalitarian governments of both the Right and the Left.

Poor Working Conditions and Monopolistic Practices

While Bezos’ stewardship of the company can be seen as a heroic mission to give everyday shoppers low-cost access to any item under the sun, his ethos has contributed to poor working conditions and harmful monopolistic practices. By 2011, Amazon’s workplace culture was toxic. A negative series of headline-grabbing reports defined Amazon workers as poorly paid, ceaselessly surveilled, and overworked. Reportedly, the company ruthlessly pushed employees to maintain a breakneck pace, to such an extent that both physical and emotional well-being was jeopardized.

Debate, Criticize, and Disagree

Bezos created a culture in which everyone from the lowest peon to the highest-ranking executive is expected to match his devotion. This approach has resulted in spectacular levels of staff turnover. A declared enemy of “social cohesion,” Bezos pushed his underlings to reject compromise and instead fiercely debate and criticize colleagues when they disagreed. One former employee described it as “purposeful Darwinism.” Known for withering put-downs — “Are you lazy or just incompetent?” ​”Did I take my stupid pills today?”—Bezos also isn’t above pulling out his phone or, in some cases, simply leaving the room when an employee fails to impress.

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