Saturday/ Sandy Hook 2012, now already long gone

The massacres continue unabated here in the United States.
Saturday at an El Paso Walmart: 20 dead, dozens wounded. 
Early Sunday in Dayton, Ohio: 9 dead, 27 wounded.
Both are acts of domestic terrorism, committed by home-grown white nationalist Americans.

The Republicans and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell have repeatedly blocked laws passed by the House in the Senate.

The New York Times notes: “In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate,” Dan Hodges, a British journalist, wrote in a post on Twitter two years ago, referring to the 2012 attack that killed 20 young students at an elementary school in Connecticut. “Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”

It should be noted, though, that in 2013, Connecticut State lawmakers did make sweeping changes to the state’s gun laws. It did not impact gun sales very much, but today Connecticut has one of the lowest gun death rates in the nation. (‘Lowest gun death rates’ is still a problem).

The United States of America with its lax gun laws: Awash in guns, awash in mass murderers. P.S. 2019 figures: 393 million guns in America, population 327 million.

Tuesday/ the Democratic debates, Round 2

CNN is hosting the second round of Democratic candidate debates this week. I played tennis and could not watch last night, but I saw the highlights.  The lowlights would be Trump’s Twitter responses that continued into Wednesday.

Here’s the dumbest man on television, commenting on the debates via his classic Twitter style: go for 4th grader insults that use ‘the worst’, ‘the dumbest’ .. and throw in distortions and lies. Side Note: New polls show that 51% of all Americans say that Trump is a racist. A shockingly high 46% say he is not.

Sunday/ a few ‘very fine’ people, marching

I encountered a small group of ‘very fine’* Trump supporters on Broadway today, flanked by a large contingent of police officers (to protect them from a much larger group of protesters, I suppose).

From where I was standing, a much larger group of people followed along on the opposite sidewalk, all the time yelling loudly ‘FASCISTS, GO HOME! FASCISTS, GO HOME!

*Trump’s characterization of the Charlottesville white nationalist protesters, made when he talked to the press on Aug. 15, 2017.

The little group of ‘very fine’ Trump supporters were all of 7 or 8 people. That’s the yellow Gadsden flag with the rattlesnake on, and the words ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ (so are you all snakes?). Two Trumpsters carried Stars & Stripes flags, and two had Trump flags.

Thursday/ Washington, we have a problem

The buzz on the cable news programs about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s un-spectacular testimony on Capitol Hill (about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016  Presidential  Election, continued on Thursday.

No question: Trump is 100% guilty of welcoming the help of the Russians, of then obstructing the investigation into it, and of repeatedly lying about it. But his Attorney-General and the Republicans under Senate Leader McConnell do not care, and are completely supporting Trump.

What will the Democrats do next? I say start impeachment hearings. I’m with Charles Blow that writes in the New York Times:

People were told that opening an impeachment inquiry would be a mistake because that’s what Trump wants to energize his base — particularly a failure to convict in the Senate — and that it would virtually guarantee his re-election.

None of this washes with me. While Democrats worry about tearing the country apart, Trump is doing just that in real time. His base doesn’t need further energizing; they’re juiced up on sexism, xenophobia, racism and nationalism.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow to Adam Schiff, chairman of House Committee on Intelligence : ‘He (Mueller) persistently seemed – um – old’. Aw. (He’s 74). I have to agree, though. He looked worn out, and looked like a reluctant witness. Many of his answers were just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘that is correct’. But he did say working with the Russians was ‘a crime’ .

Tuesday/ the United ‘Kingston’

There it is: Boris Johnson is the new Prime Minister of the United Kingston (per Ivanka Trump).

Can Johnson pull a rabbit out of the hat and deliver an orderly Brexit by Oct. 31?

Writes Roger Cohen in an opinion piece in the New York Times:
Johnson has played with his country, treating it like one of his many dalliances, with a sloppiness and fecklessness no wit or charm can excuse. He backed a British exit from the European Union on a whim — in the expectation it would be rejected — and has since become a pawn of the Brexit ultras, the crazed little-England monomaniacs who have now delivered him to 10 Downing Street.

Wednesday/ ‘That means he has no bones’

Trump: ‘I don’t have a racist bone in my body’.
Joe Biden, asked about it by a reporter: ‘That means he has no bones’.

It’s Wednesday, and the furor over Trump’s tweets from the weekend, urging four female members of color of the House of Representatives to ‘go back to their countries’ (all four are American citizens, of course) has not died down.

Hmm. Let’s see. The C fits Completely. The P? .. Probably, I would say. Picture tweeted by Michael James Schneider (on Twitter: Michael James Schneider@BLCKSMTHdesign).

Sunday/ Happy Pride!

Happy Pride! My friends and I checked in on the Seattle Pride Parade today, and here are a few pictures.

Here comes the Amazon contingent. (Very convenient that ‘Amazon’ has 7 letters that exactly match the number of colors in the gay rainbow flag!).
I loved the ‘pink unicorn’ walking with the Walmart delegation.
Drug manufacturer Gilead. The giant blue pill in the truck is the miracle HIV prevention pill called Truvada, that have already saved countless lives all over the world. Only thing is: in the United States a month’s supply cost health insurers a fortune (almost $2,000). Gilead generated global Truvada sales of nearly $3 billion last year, of which about $2.6 billion came from the United States. In Gilead’s defense: they have spent some $6 billion on HIV/AIDS research since 2000.
Yay! for University of Washington Medicine, and their beautiful big rainbow flags.

Thursday/ the second debate

Below are the other 10 Democratic candidates that debated tonight. I missed some of the debate, but Senator Kamala Harris (from California) did very well.  Joe Biden (76) and Bernie Sanders (77) – struggled a bit. Joe Biden was confronted by Harris, and Eric Swalwell (a mere 38) chided him for not ‘passing the torch’.

If I may say so, 76 or 77 seems a little old to make a bid for President of the United States (and 37 or 38 a little young) .. but if Biden or Sanders became the Democratic Party nominee, they will nonetheless have my unqualified support.

Wednesday/ the Democrats start debating

We watched the first of the two groups of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates debate tonight.

Nobody made a fool of himself or herself. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar both did very well. (Can they stand up to Donald Trump, though?).

Of the men? Texan Beto O’Rourke disappointed some commentators, and lost a mini-debate about the humanitarian crisis at the Mexican border, against fellow Texan Joaquin Castro. (They both spoke a little bit in Spanish as well. Impressive, but a risky strategy). Our own Washington State Governor, Jay Inslee, pushed for addressing climate change.

Monday/ your whole life is a scam

I finally cancelled my TIME magazine subscription, and got the last issue in the mail today.
Just as well, I thought: I do not need to see Trump on any magazine cover even one more time. Besides, I go to the library to read all kinds of newspapers and magazines.

NO. Your whole life is not a bet. Your whole life is a scam, a lie.

Saturday/ frying fish in South Carolina

It was South Carolina’s turn on Saturday to host the 2020 Democratic hopefuls in the state’s annual ‘World Famous Fish Fry’, originally started by SC House Rep. Jim Clyburn in 1992.

South Carolina hosts one of the early primary elections in Feb. 2020 (to determine who the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate is). It’s considered a key state in the primaries. Black voters make up 61% of the electorate.

The 2020 Democratic candidates posing on stage before the start of the Fish Fry debate. They each only had a short time, did not attack one another, and I agreed with just about everything they said- but man! there cannot be 24 candidates. There are two nights of televised debates this coming week that may help to thin out the field further. Of course: there is still 499 days to go before the election in November 2020. Crazy.  [Picture: CBS News].

Monday/ the anger in Hong Kong

An incredible two million people flooded the streets in Hong Kong this weekend, to continue to protest their government’s proposed extradition law (that will allow extradition of Hong Kongers to mainland China and other countries).

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam was essentially selected by Beijing, and Hong Kong residents do not trust her. She has ‘postponed’ the legislation, but it has not been cancelled.

Reporting from today’s Washington Post.

Sunday/ 2020 Democrats swamp Iowa

There was a carnival of politics in the state of Iowa today, with 19 of the Democratic 2020 presidential candidates taking the stage at the Iowa Democratic Party’s 2019 Hall of Fame event in Cedar Rapids.

Each candidate had only 5 minutes to speak, though. Sigh. I just hope that the Democrats will pull out all the stops, hit up all their rich donors, and deploy social media campaigns and whatever else they can, to get Trump out of the White House.

My breakfast this morning. On the left, on Friday’s TIME magazine cover, is Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders (77) who was also in Iowa. I realized after I had taken the picture that I had quite a worldwide ensemble on the table: melamine tray from China, coffee mug from South Africa, with coffee from Colombia, bone china cereal bowl from Japan, oatmeal from Ireland, with blueberries from Canada, and walnuts from California.

Saturday/ no tariffs on Mexican goods (yay?)

Leave my Mexican avocados alone! I put them on my toast, almost every day.

If we are to believe Trump (I am not), his threat to slap a 5% tariff on all goods from Mexico, unless they do better at stopping migrants trying to reach the US border, had the desired effect.  (Trump tweeted Friday night that tariffs are now off the table, and that a last minute agreement with Mexico was reached).

Well, it turns out that much, or all of the terms of the ‘agreement’, were actually reached months ago between Mexican officials and the White House, says the New York Times (see below).

Wednesday/ covering up the cover-up

Are we seeing the disintegration of the Trump Presidency in slow motion?
Is this Trump’s ‘I am not a crook‘ moment à la Nixon? Time will tell.

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — President Trump abruptly blew up a meeting with Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday, declaring that he could not work with them until they stopped investigating him and lashing out at Speaker Nancy Pelosi for accusing him of a cover-up.

He then marched out into the Rose Garden, where reporters had been gathered, and delivered a statement bristling with anger as he demanded that Democrats “get these phony investigations over with.” He said they could not legislate and investigate simultaneously. “We’re going to go down one track at a time,” he said.

Trump in the Rose Garden today, shamelessly lying, as he does pretty much every day. One could argue – and present tons of hard evidence – that most of what Trump has done his whole life, is to obfuscate and cover up (his unethical and illegal/ borderline-illegal activities in his public life and private life. The list is long. He covered up his payment to a sex worker (prostitute) right before the 2016 election. He covered up Don Jr’s June 2016 meeting with the Russians. Right now he tries to covers up his tax returns, his real estate deals he is probably making while he is President, and his shady dealings with Deutsche Bank. He covered up his conversations with Putin, with the Saudis. On and on and on.
Personal check from Trump to Michael Cohen, as reimbursement for the hush money Cohen paid to Stormy Daniels. Trump lied when asked about it by a reporter on Air Force One. ‘I know nothing about it, you’d have to ask Michael Cohen’. Lying is one of Trump’s instincts; it’s compulsive and part of who he is. 

Monday/ the case to impeach: stronger than ever

Well, here is the first Republican congressman calling out Attorney General Barr’s foul play in misrepresenting the Mueller report, and calling for Trump’s impeachment. (See Justin Amash’s tweets below).

What Trump has done – documented in the Mueller report, with hard evidence – cannot stand in the United States of America’s democracy,  without consequences to him.

In addition, Trump and the White House staff is technically committing obstruction of justice every day now. They refuse to comply to subpoenas from Congress for Trump’s tax returns, and other records. They refuse to let former White House lawyer Don McGahn testify in Congress (Don McGahn’s testimony about Trump’s obstruction is written up in the Mueller report). Trump has even sued his own tax preparer and Deutsche Bank, to prevent them from supplying any financial records to Congress.

Time to start the impeachment proceedings.  It’s overdue.

Friday/ congratulations to Taiwan!

Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. Thousands of gay rights supporters had gathered in the rain outside the parliament building in the capital, Taipei, to await the landmark ruling.

The Pew Research Center wrote up a report of gay marriage around the world, that has this nice map to show what progress has been made so far.

Germany and Australia were some high-profile additions to the roster of countries that have joined the list, both in 2017.
The map shows that there is clearly a lot of work still to be done in Asia and in Africa, though.

About two-thirds of the countries (18 of 28) in the world that has marriage equality are in Europe, but even there, there are notable exceptions: Italy and Switzerland. And no country in Central Europe has legalized gay marriage. Let’s also just note, that in some countries gay people are still actively persecuted, and former Soviet republic Chechnya, might be at the top of this list.

Thursday/ Times Square, then and now

I had a picture from twenty years ago, of a New York City street corner somewhere in Times Square, and I stubbornly used Google Street View until I finally found the place that I had taken the 1999 picture from.  It looks very different today!

P.S. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he is running for President in 2020 today. The count of Democratic candidates is now at 23.

Here’s the April 1999 picture that I had taken. It turned out that the Subway neon sign (middle left) is still there today. And I could use the tall white building on the far right to verify this is the corner of 42nd Street and 7th Avenue. P.S. Disney’s Lion King animated movie was released in 1994. Lion King as a musical debuted on stage in October of 1997, and has since become a monstrous success. By 2017 it had grossed some $8.1 billion.
Here is as close as I could get to the spot that I had stood on, for that picture of April 1999, in the latest Google Street View (Oct. 2018) images.  The Subway sign is still there, and a sliver of the white building in the 1999 picture can be made out down the street.

Friday/ the vote count in South Africa

I’m watching the vote count in South Africa, here.

With some 95% of the votes counted, the African National Congress (ANC) of the incumbent President of South Africa, has 57.7% (so towards the high end of expectations, but the worst result for them since 1994), and the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance, has 20.7%.  Hopefully this is good enough for President Cyril Ramaphosa to clean house in the ANC (corruption), and to get the economy going.

The DA has carried its stronghold, the Western Cape Province, with 55.5% of the vote (down 4% from 2014), but elsewhere in other provinces, the strident and far-left Economic Freedom Front (EFF) party has made substantial gains.

This results dashboard is at
Picture with no caption posted on the Facebook page of the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC). Let’s say the caption is ‘Pizza makes the world go round, and gets the results out!’.