Monday, June 12, 2017

On Fat-Shaming and Being Fat

Thank you to Roxane Gay for tackling two big problems: child sexual abuse and feelings about being overweight.

I'm ordering her new book, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body.

Here's the Washington Post review of it by Caitlin Gibson.

I want to compare it to Shrill by Lindy West.  She defends people's right to be fat and their right not to have people putting them down or giving advice on how to lose weight.

It's hard to be PC on this issue when two and more fat people disagree.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Claire McCaskill speaks out

Senator Claire McCaskill

"Will there be a hearing?" Senator Claire McCaskill asks Hatch, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, in regard to the health care bill currently being crafted in backrooms of the Senate.

"You say 'We'd love your support.'  For what?" she asks, noting that the content of the bill has not been revealed though Republicans are hoping to pass the bill soon.

"We're not even going to have a hearing," she charges.

"You are just going to pass it with 50 votes and the Vice-President.... You know the value of the hearing process and the amendment process.... Give me an opportunity to work with you.  That's what's so discouraging about this process."

Thank you to John Arthur for finding and forwarding this tweet to me.

Thank you to Sen. McCaskill for her skill and hard work to become a senator and member of the Finance Committee.

I feel represented in the Senate though there are only 21 women out of 100 senators--wish I were not so used to having few women in government and no woman president.

Friday, June 9, 2017

In the rest of the world...

The whirlwind in Washington, D.C., has made us unable to see important events in the rest of the world.

Why would a young farmer in India take his own life?  

Most of us will never know why Maharashtra died, mainly because we are so focused on Trump and his news.

Nancy Pelosi names it...

Today's newspapers: more banner headlines.

Thank you to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for her analysis and comments about dt this morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe.

“He [dt] operates this way: First he tries to charm you. … If that doesn’t work, he tries to bully you. If that doesn’t work, he walks away from the deal. And if that doesn’t work, he sues you,” she said. 


This is 45 in action.

Try to charm.
If that doesn't work, try to bully.
If that doesn't work, walk away from the deal.
If that doesn't work, sue.

Thank God I was already retired when the dt firestorm hit the nation.  It's a full-time job keeping track of the stumbles and downfall of this man--and then to protest against him.  

I marched on January 21, and I will be taking to the streets on Sunday to walk with the #ResistTrump people, who revised their annual LGBT march to a demonstration against dt.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

New national holiday: Comey testimony

Today, June 8, 2017, the front page of the Los Angeles Times looked like this:

I was in San Diego, however, attending the graduation of my niece Millie from her year of internship as a doctor in the US Naval Medical Center near Balboa Park.  

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., ex-director of the FBI James Comey was testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee about dt pressuring him to drop the FBI investigation into contacts between Michael Flynn and key Russian figures.  

I couldn't listen to the full testimony from 7 to 10 am Pacific time because the graduation was at 9:30 am, but before joining my brother and sister-in-law to attend this event, I heard the first half hour. 

I heard these words:
"And although the law required no reason at all to fire an FBI director, the administration then chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader.
Those were lies, plain and simple, and I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them and I’m so sorry that the American people were told them."
As Comey said "Those were lies," I heard the break in his voice on the word lies.  

I realized that this moment was deeply emotional for him.  Being defamed and having the FBI described as "in disarray" were distressing events for him.

Here's the full transcript and video:

In San Diego, the open air graduation was festive and patriotic, strictly regulated according to protocol, rank, and respect.  

"Color guards, parade the colors."  There was much saluting.  The national anthem was played by the Navy Band Southwest as a Navy soloist sang. "Retire the colors."

All this earnest patriotism formed a contrast in my mind with the dirty drama playing out simultaneously in the Capitol.  

In response to questions about his private meetings and phone calls with the president, Comey was saying that Trump had never once asked about how to stop Russian undermining of our elections.

The words  our flag was still there struck me deeply in this context.  Some Russians would like our flag to be pulled down, our democracy to fail. 

Then came the words  long may it wave 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave! 

I choked up and had to stop singing.  These young sailors and medical officers had made a commitment to protect the flag and the nation.  Uprightness, discipline, and courage were all around me.

But in Washington, our president didn't sound much interested in protecting the flag or our sovereignty.  Comey's attitude and demeanor seemed much like the scene before me, but dt's disrespectful behavior and flippant tweets loomed as a dark cloud over the day.

I thought about the chain of command: dt is the commander in chief of all these young graduates.  If he starts a war, these young medical officers will be sent to the conflict to save lives.

They respectfully salute officers of a higher rank.

He disrespects everyone around him.  

Though this drama had us laughing when it began, it is not a comedy.  It's a tragedy and dt is the character demonstrating hubris.

Hubris is extreme pride and arrogance shown by a character that ultimately brings about his downfall.
Hubris is a typical flaw in the personality of a character who enjoys a powerful position; as a result of which, he overestimates his capabilities to such an extent that he loses contact with reality. A character suffering from Hubris tries to cross normal human limits and violates moral codes. Examples of Hubris are found in major characters of tragic plays.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Breaking the silence...

Watching The Keepers on Netflix...

Grateful for websites like Our Stories UnTold, which exposes predators and support survivors, especially those in the Mennonite Church in the USA.

Thank you, Barbra and Hilary, for your courage and hard work.

See also this article on rape culture in 2014.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Injustice for dummies...

Thank you to World and Science for this tweet, a wake-up call to so many of us...

It's called  If 100 people lived on earth.

For example:

9 would live 55-64 years... 8 would live 65+ years.

14 can't read or write.

15 spend $2 per day.  
56 spend $2-10 per day.  
13 spend $10-20 a day.  
9 spend $20-50 a day.
6 spend $50-90 a day.
1 spends more than $90 a day.

1 person controls 50% of all money.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Missing Hillary...

Hillary spoke forcefully and honestly at the graduation speech today at her alma mater, Wellesley College.

Seeing her speak reopens the pain of our loss last November.

It reminds us of the idiot we now call POTUS.

dt on a slippery slope...

Where we are as of May 25, 2017

Thank God there are some adults in the room.

Love this photoshopped image by Old Rant Dump on Twitter @TrumpinTheShark.

Also good to hear that Nate Silver on 538 says dt's numbers are down with his base.

Here's 538's graph of his approval rating, updated daily:

See Jim Warren/Poynter, who says:

At the risk of quoting a pollster....

How popular is Trump, really?
Trump's not a popular guy but has a very solid base, correct?
"But the theory isn’t supported by the evidence," writes Nate Silver. "To the contrary, Trump’s base seems to be eroding." (FiveThirtyEight)
"There’s been a considerable decline in the number of Americans who strongly approve of Trump, from a peak of around 30 percent in February to just 21 or 22 percent of the electorate now...far from having unconditional love from his base, Trump has already lost almost a third of his strong support."

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bad, very bad thinking


Never was a presidential trip abroad watched more closely--and I'm guilty too for watching.

I hope he doesn't misbehave, I kept thinking.  Don't say anything stupid.  But as we all watched:

  • he signed deals to sell more armaments to Saudi Arabia, 
  • he profaned the Western Wall with his touch, 
  • he gave to the Russians the code-level intelligence won by the Israelis, 
  • he avoided committing to NATO, and 
  • he insulted all Germans.

On the same day my friends arrived from Germany to tour the US, dt said something like "Germans are bad" or "Germany is bad."

During a meeting Thursday with European Union officials in Brussels, Trump allegedly said, “The Germans are bad, very bad,” according to Germany’s Spiegel Online, which cited unnamed sources in the room. He continued, the outlet said, by saying: “See the millions of cars they are selling in the U.S.? Terrible. We will stop this.”

Thank you for reporting on this, WaPO!

But now how to meet with my German friends after this awkward day?

It's just like his approach to drugs from Mexico: we in the USA are not bad for buying cars or drugs--it's the Mexicans and the Germans who are bad for transporting and selling them.

All I can do is apologize and do my best to impeach.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Kathleen's Potlach

Kathleen with Lucky and Nikki

Imagine going over to your friend's house and taking anything that caught your fancy.  Putting it in your car and driving off.

This is what we did today in Oxnard--in memory of and in honor of my friend Kathleen.

It was so sad that she was not in her home.  We felt her presence as we looked at her possessions, her taste in every choice.

But it was good to be sad together.  

Also it was a reminder to get going on all that clutter in the study and the garage.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Jared just joking around..

Jared Corey Kushner aka Cutie Pie

Now we know who the "person of interest" is.

Now we know why he is interesting.

Now we know why Team 45 thought that Trump Tower was bugged.  

T45 found out that their secret overtures to Russians to set up a "back channel" for US-Russian communications was known to the CIA.  The CIA found out by intercepting Sergey Kislyak's communication with his bosses in Moscow.  No need to bug Trump Tower.

Thank you to the Washington Post for documenting these unbelievable events, day by day.

Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.
Impeach dt now!  I have to order a bumper sticker.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Approval rating drops...

People are wising up.  The core of die-hard supporters is shrinking.

Good to know that 45 isn't going to keep on getting away with everything.

The past few weeks have not been kind to President Trump's poll numbers.

RealClearPolitics average of polls, May 3 - 43.6%
"                  "                               "         May 24 - 40.4%.

Gallup poll, May 23 - 38%

Economist/YouGov poll - 39%

Monmouth poll  -  39%

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pope extends compassion to dt

What would Jesus do?  If dt paid him a visit, that is.

Probably the same thing Pope Francis did.

He was polite, even attempting a joke with Melanie Trump.

He spoke to dt privately--about health care, immigration, and the environment.  He gave dt a copy of his encyclical on the importance of action against climate change.

He probably spoke about peace too--peace vs. war.  As in "Was it right to sell $110 billion worth of armaments to Saudi Arabia?  What do you think they will do with them?  Will more lives be lost?"

Fortunately, Sen. Rand Paul will force a vote in the Senate to approve or disapprove that deal.

What did dt say afterward his meeting with the Pope?  He marveled at the man in white robes: "He is something."

He didn't try to sell him arms, or a used car either.

What did the Pope say afterwards--or perhaps think?

"God forgive him--he knows not what he does."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Shalom and Salaam

Angel of Peace in Donetsk (Ukraine)

Shalom... Salaam... Peace.

The trip of president #45 to Saudi Arabia and Israel has at least a few people talking about peace again.

Trump's vitriol against Iran has the Saudis trying to interest Israel in their 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

For anything to come of this, the Saudis would have to publicly own up to their increasing interest in Israeli products, influence, and military might.

The Israelis would have to agree to a Palestinian state.

Thus the odds are on the side of the status quo.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Nun whose killing was hushed up

I'm not into murder mysteries, but I plan to watch this one.

The Keepers on Netflix, a six-part series documenting the murder of a nun in Baltimore on Nov. 7, 1969.

It's about a nun teaching in a Catholic girls' high school.  

It's about why she was murdered--to cover up child sexual assault by priests.

It's about the Baltimore police department being controlled by the Roman Catholic Church so that the investigation of the murder goes nowhere.

You can watch all six parts if you have access to Netflix.  If you don't, I don't know how you can see it.  Try a library?

See the website for Stop the Silence - at

A couple of years back, I posted this. I think it's worth it to post again - let's stop this, together! Stay posted for updates as to how we can!
The reality (no fiction about it) is that about 1/4 or girls or more and about 1/6 of boys (or more) are sexually abused in the U.S. by the time they are 18 years old, with most of the abuse beginning for these child victims at around the age of 7 or 8 years old, and usually lasting over an extended period of time, and getting worse as it does.
Child sexual abuse (CSA) can be disastrous for child victims and adult survivors, and costs our society at large BILLIONS of dollars each year, not to mention the damage to our work force in productive time lost (e.g., due to mental and physical health problems). The aftermath of CSA often is comprised of poor school performance, clinical depression, PTSD, various other psychological disorders, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuity, prostitution, trafficking, cutting, suicide and homicide and chronic disease. All of these are associated with CSA in the high double digits.
The vast majority (at least 90%) of offenders are known to the child(ren) and have access to them on a regular basis. About 40% of those 90% are family members... It's not just the Catholic Church... It crosses all racial, ethnic, religious boundaries. And there is a generational component to this due to many psychological and related factors.
And we, as a society, remain afraid to learn and talk about this! How can we continue to afford to be afraid, however difficult it may be to talk about?! How can we allow children to continue to suffer? How can we afford the results? CSA has to be prevented. The survivors have to find help and healing.
Talk about it. Join the movement toward the prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse. This is a public health problem of enormous proportions. We have to talk. We have to prevent. We have to heal. We have to end child sexual abuse. Here and throughout the world.
Pamela Pine, PhD, MPH
Founder and CEO
Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse, Inc.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Take me as I am...

Pacific Coast near Pt. Mugu, north of Malibu

Spiritual director Elizabeth Nordquist led us in singing this song from the Wild Goose Worship Group, part of the Iona Community on an island off the coast of northwest Scotland.  It was composed by John Bell in 1995.

Take, oh take me as I am.

Summon up what I shall be.

Set your seal upon my heart

And live in me.

Go, Sally Yates!

Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates

What a relief to see strong women standing up to the clowns surrounding 45 and the Republican senators defending him.

I watched the Senate Intelligence Committee subcommittee hearing for a while today.

Sally:  I told them Mike Flynn was compromised.  They went ahead.

Republicans:  But who leaked what when?

Sally: I was in the White House on Jan. 26, the afternoon before the EO banning travelers from seven countries, but the men I met with didn't mention it or ask for any review.  Perhaps they didn't want input on whether it was Constitutional or not.

Republicans:  But who leaked what when?

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: Is it material for blackmail when an official [Flynn] is caught on tape saying one thing & then lies to the vice president?

Sally and James Clapper: Yes.

Republicans:  But somebody leaked something...

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Just when you're feeling safe...

Imagine my horror, while driving peacefully around beautiful Palos Verdes Peninsula, to discover this sign.

I thought I was safe in blue, blue southern California from all things dt.  

No so.  You round a corner, and he's staring you in the face with gold lettering.

I took solace in the goofy bird-in-paradise flowers also there staring at the sign, as if to say, "Yeah, he's about as crazy as we are."

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Idolatry 2.0

What's wrong with this crucifix?

Yes, Jesus probably had a moustache and beard, but really--

YHWH, creator and ruler of the universe, as male? In 2017?

Aside from the idiocy and male idolatry, isn't the family resemblance between the two cute? Neither is Asian or African.  

These crosses are imported and sold by George S. Chen Corporation, based in Ontario, CA.

George and his employees need to learn that God is not male.  

Please post a message on their Facebook page:

Write or call them or send them a tweet at:
2725 E Philadelphia St
Ontario, California
Call 909-773-1788 / 1-800-777-3611

Friday, May 5, 2017

What do you long for?

Retreat organizer Madeline Stewart with retreat leader Elizabeth Nordquist.

"What do you long for and need?

  • quiet or conversation?
  • rest or activity?
  • inspiration or relief?
  • solitude or community?
  • or maybe just time to reflect and journal?"

With these words, the Reverend Dr. Elizabeth Nordquist invited us women to plan our time this weekend according to the needs we were feeling.

It was the annual women's retreat of St. Augustine by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Santa Monica, being held at the Mary & Joseph Retreat Center at the top of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.  

The theme was "God's Gift to You; Your Gift to God."

Elizabeth read aloud and then brought to life the stories of five biblical women:

  • Hannah - 1 Samuel, ch. 1
  • Lydia and the anonymous slave girl - Acts 16:11-40
  • The bent-over woman - Luke 8: 43-48
  • Phoebe - Romans 6: 1-2

She invited us to be like Hannah, who stood in passionate but silent prayer in the house of YHWH at Shiloh, asking for a male child, the necessary key to social status in that day.  

Pastor Elizabeth imagined Hannah holding a tray before God with her assets and her needs: she was barren, but her husband loved her.  Other women made fun of her, but she had deep faith in God.

When she was rebuked by a priest for suspected drunkenness, she called him out: 

"Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time."  The priest repented and blessed her.  

She went home "and her countenance was sad no longer."  She did get that baby.

It reminded me of "But still she persisted"--both Hannah then and Senator Elizabeth Warren in 2017.

Pastor Elizabeth invited us all to go before God with our deepest needs, first drawing a sketch of "the things on our tray" --items in our lives that we could lay before God, whether sources of joy or of pain.

This was just the first night of a powerful weekend together.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Depression spikes today with House vote


I can't deal with the House of Representatives passing a bill that would hurt women, the poor, people trying to fight addiction, and people with mental health issues.

And the prez lies: "We're going to have great, great health care for all Americans."

1)   Pregnancy, C-section, and post-partum depression are pre-existing conditions.  If you are pregnant and lose your job and have to get a new health insurance plan, your pregnancy will not be covered.

Happy Mothers Day, women.  

"Even a completed pregnancy, with no or minor complications, would result in a premium hike of $17,060 – a 425% increase," reports The Independent,

2)   All mental health issues are fairly long-standing.  They're pre-existing--so no help under this so-called "health plan" for our nation.  We can expect more insane mass murderers.

3)   Being addicted to drugs is another way to not be covered.  No coverage for medical help for addiction if you are addicted and need to change health plans.

4)   Being poor will disqualify some 24 million people from health insurance over the next ten years, thanks to a nearly trillion dollar cut in Medicaid.

Depression.  I'm now depressed by hearing this news--I and 200 million other Americans.  Out of the 322 million people in this nation, I estimate that 2/3 are dismayed/disgusted/depressed by this attempt to roll back health care.

So we all have this condition that will not be covered one of us loses a job with health insurance and has to buy a new insurance plan.

It's the era of 45, folks.  Run out and get your meds for depression or anxiety now if you have insurance.  And don't do anything that might cause you to lose your coverage.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Our Bumbling Idiot President

Abraham Lincoln: aghast at dt,
the bull in the china shop of Civil War history

I don't follow dt any more.  I've decided the New York Times and Los Angeles Times and Washington Post can keep an eye on him without my help.

But every few days some tidbit of what 45 has said or done penetrates the walls I have placed around my serenity.

Today it's the remarks he made on May 1 regarding the Civil War.  This NYT headline says it all:

This President Doesn't Go by the (History) Book: Remarks on Civil War Underscore Tenuous Grasp of the Past.

Andrew Jackson "really angry" about the Civil War??

Why did the Civil War happen, anyway?

What--Abe Lincoln a Republican?

Frederick Douglass isn't a radical living today?

The sheer ignorance of this bumbling, dumbling fool is dismaying.

Abraham Lincoln is aghast as a ghost.  

President Obama is holding his breath and hoping this fool doesn't start a war with North Korea.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Memoir as Self-Discovery

"Self- Discovery: The First Frontier" was just one of the mind-blowing panels at the 2017 LA Times Festival of Books (Conversation #1083).

"Being intersex was not an issue throughout my childhood at all," said Hida Viloria.  "The exclusion I felt was in being the only Latina at my school."

Nevertheless, she was relieved to check her private parts with a mirror at age 8 and discover "I was a girl after all" because she did not pee through her large clitoris.

Her memoir is titled Born Both: An Intersex Life.  Meeting her was very moving, and I hope Virginia Ramey Mollenkott will review her book for Christian Feminism Today's website,

"Being born as something that's not supposed to exist--that's difficult," she said.

Tash Aw described being an ethnically Chinese person raised in Malaysia in his memoir, The Face: Strangers on a Pier.  It was nominated for the new Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose, which was won by Wesley Lowery for They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice.

"We were taught not to examine or interrogate anything that goes on inside," Aw said.  "For poor migrants, new life is dependent on scrubbing out everything that came before."

"My cousins work in factories and as bus drivers," he said, though he teaches at Columbia University.  "I think about them every day," he added.

Steph Jagger went on a ski trip around the world and skied "some 4 million vertical feet" in search of something more in her life.  Her memoir is Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery.

"I pushed away the models of mother, sisters, aunts," she said.  "I took a solo journey with the mountains."

Each of these speakers was enchanting to meet.

I bought Faces and Born Both, resisting Unbound, much as I would have liked to buy and read it.  Later.

avatar for Daniel Hernandez

Daniel Hernandez

Hernandez is a journalist, editor, correspondent, long-time blogger, and the author of "Down & Delirious in Mexico City," a beloved exploration of youth subcultures in contemporary Mexico. He is a former staff reporter at the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly. While living in Mexico City, he became editor of VICE Mexico and then chief of VICE News for Latin America. He is working on a second book of non-fiction, and recently joined a... Read More →

avatar for Tash Aw

Tash Aw

Aw is the prize-winning author of three novels, including, most recently, "Five Star Billionaire", as well as a memoir, "The Face: Strangers on a Pier.” His fiction has been translated into more than twenty languages, while his non-fiction appears in The New York Times, The London Review of Books, and The Guardian, among others. “The Face: Strangers on a Pier,” is a finalist for the 2016 L.A. Times' Christopher Isherwood Prize for... Read More →
avatar for Steph Jagger

Steph Jagger

Jagger splits her time between Southern California and British Columbia where she dreams big dreams, writes her heart out, and runs an executive & life coaching practice. She holds a CEC (certified Executive Coach) degree from Royal Roads University and she believes courageous living doesn't happen with one toe dangling in, but that we jump in, fully submerge, and sit in the juice. Think pickle, not cucumber. Her book is “Unbound: A... Read More →
avatar for Hida Viloria

Hida Viloria

Viloria is a writer and intersex activist, chairperson of the Organization Intersex International (OII), and founding director of its American affiliate the Intersex Campaign for Equality, also known as OII-USA. Hida's mission is to obtain equality for intersex and nonbinary people as part of a broader vision for a world that accepts and values difference of every kind. Her memoir "Born Both" was published in March.

Deutschland uber alles?

What a jarring moment in The Promise, just released film about a love triangle during the Armenian genocide, 1915-1923.

German officers in Constantinople standing at a party with Turkish leaders in 1915 began singing their national anthem "Deutschland, Deutschland, uber alles..."  

That really threw me, hearing Hayden's beautiful tune sung in this context.  I associate the melody with a beloved hymn, "Glorious things of thee are spoken, Zion, city of our God...."

I'd never before heard the tune sung to the ugly words "Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles."

I ended up doing an internet search on the subject afterwards.

The German lyrics, written in 1841, begin: "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, / Über alles in der Welt."

The correct translation is "Germany, Germany, over all other things, over all in the world," a personal statement of loyalty to Germany above other things one might value: city, family, health, even life.

As Wikipedia says, it "meant that the most important goal of 19th-century German liberal revolutionaries should be a unified Germany which would overcome loyalties to the local kingdoms, principalities, duchies, and palatines (Kleinstaaterei) of then-fragmented Germany."

In order to mean "Germany over all other nations," it would have to be "Deutschland uber alle," not "alles," as in "Deutschland uber alle anderen Nationen."

Nevertheless, Germans don't sing the first two verses today because after the two world wars, any extreme statement of nationalism feels inappropriate. They sing only the third verse, which is about unity, freedom, and justice.

At any rate, it's a chilling moment in the film to hear German soldiers sing these words as World War I begins, three years before the National Socialist German Workers Party is founded, and eighteen years before Adolf Hitler gained power over Germany.

It's also a revelation in the film to see the close relationship between Turks and Germans in 1915.  Here's part of what Wikipedia has to say on it: 

The Ottoman–German Alliance was an alliance between the German Empire and the Ottoman Empire made on August 2, 1914, shortly following the outbreak of World War I. The alliance was created as part of a joint-cooperative effort that would strengthen and modernize the failing Ottoman military, as well as provide Germany safe passage into neighboring British colonies. The treaty came from the initiative of he Ottomans. It was replaced in January 1915 by a full-scale military alliance that promised Ottoman entry into the war.[6][7][8]

On the positive side, Germany came out in January, 2016, as officially recognizing the Turkish killing 1915-1923 as a genocide, just after the 100th anniversary of its beginning in 1915.  

Friday, April 28, 2017

Injustice: From Police to Prisons

The title of this panel was "Nonfiction: Police, Prisons & Justice" but actually it was about injustice (Panel 2031).  

Margot Roosevelt did a great job of introducing the heaviness of the books to be discussed: "Sometimes I just had to stop and take deep breaths just to recover from the shock and shame of what I was reading."

Leslie Klinger, on the board of the Mystery Writers of America, is a Sherlock Holmes expert.  With Laura Caldwell, he edited Anatomy of Innocence, a book that presents true stories of wrongly convicted persons, each alongside a matching story taken from murder mystery fiction.

"Estimates are that 5-10% of the people in prison have been wrongfully convicted," he said.  "That comes to about 200,000 people."

If police investigators or prosecutors don't have enough evidence to convict, they still press charges.  They're "certain [the accused] are guilty of something," Klinger said, "If not this crime, they've done something else," they reason, excusing themselves for fudging on facts or testimony. 

"America leads the world in the number of people in prison," he reported. "One third of the women in prison in the whole world are in the US."

"We have such faith in the system.  "If people go to jail, there must have been a reason,'" they say.

"The book reads beautifully like fiction, only it's entirely factual," one panelist commented.

Heather Ann Thompson won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in history for Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy.  She was also nominated in history at the LA Book Prizes, but the award went to Benjamin Madley for his book on the planned genocide of California Indians 1846-1873.  She's a professor of history at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

She revealed how the State of New York refused to release documents about the deaths in Attica Prison in 1971 and claimed that inmates had killed 39 and injured 138.  Actually, she learned, it was guards and sheriffs who killed the 39--but treatment of prisoners became harsher because of the widespread claim that inmates had done the killing.

She wrote from documents exclusively, not interviews.  In fact, she found a whole cache of documents that NY State didn't know existed, and now they have all disappeared again, except for her photocopies.  

"We have the most mass incarceration in the world.  In most cases people never see a jury.  They are forced to take a plea deal because public defenders are overworked."

"How many days a year does the criminal justice system in the US keep people in solitary confinement? It's not known--no records are kept."

Gary Younge was educated in England and lives in London.  He wrote Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives.  Using the fact that an average of 7 children and teens are killed every day in the US, he chose November 23, 2013, and researched the lives of the ten young Americans shot on that day.  He interviewed families and friends as well as reading the brief notices in local newspapers.

"None of them gets much press attention," he charged. "It's just the collateral damage of another day in America."

When he asked journalists why a particular death did not get a full article about the person and the situation, they answer, "It's just not so surprising that a kid would be shot in that area.  It's just not news."
"If a killing doesn't challenge the way America thinks about itself," he concluded, "It's not news."  Some killings do, especially those in white neighborhoods.  

"In no other country in the developed world would this be possible," he said.  "Americans see guns the way they see traffic.  It's here.  They can't imagine a world without them."

"Everywhere I go in promoting this book, people have asked me two questions about Americans," Younge said. "The first was about health care: why wouldn't they want it?  The second was guns: why would they want them?"

"Gun violence is seen as essentially American, but there's nothing natural or essential about it.  These deaths are the result of policy decisions."

Younge also pointed out the chronic lack of empathy he hears in comments like "They must have had it coming" or "The kids are ______ (whatever)" or "The parents are negligent--that's why they die."

"It's shocking how achingly normal these kids are," he said. "They go to school, have friends, use Facebook.  What they have in common is that they live in areas where they've been used to people being killed."

Victor M. Rios spoke about his new book Human Targets: Schools, Police, and the Criminalization of Latino Youth.  

He's now a professor of sociology at UC Santa Barbara, but at age 15 he was dealing drugs and found himself with a gun placed against his head.  At this point ..."he turned to a teacher, who mentored him and helped him find a job.  That job would alter the course of his whole life--putting him on the road to college and eventually a Ph.D," his book jacket reports.

"Instead of heart-breaking stories, we need to tell heart-making stories," he said. "We have to change people's hearts.  If there's a change of heart in authority figures, there will be a change of outcomes."

Right now we often see "a significant stripping away of dignity."  

"We see them as at-risk, so the solution is from a risk-based perspective.  Let's see them as at-promise and implement an asset-based perspective.  Instead of seeing him as a gang member, see him as a son, an employee, a student.  He may be gang-associated, but he's also a person with other worlds in which he moves."

All the panelists except Rios were angry, and their urgency about gun violence in the US was contagious. After vowing to buy no more books, I bought all except Klinger's.

avatar for Margot Roosevelt

Margot Roosevelt

Roosevelt covers the economy for the Orange County Register. Before that, she covered environment and energy news for the Los Angeles Times, and was TIME Magazine's National Correspondent. She was also a foreign correspondent for TIME, based in Paris. She covered Congress for the Washington Post and was the Post's New York bureau chief.

avatar for Leslie S Klinger

Leslie S Klinger

Klinger is the New York Times-best-selling editor of the Edgar®-winning "New Annotated Sherlock Holmes" as well as numerous other anthologies, books, and articles on Holmes, Dracula, H. P. Lovecraft, and classic mysteries and horror. His latest book is "Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted,” co-edited by Laura Caldwell, true stories about the experiences of exonerees (Liveright/W. W. Norton, 2017).
avatar for Victor Rios

Victor Rios

Rios is professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of “Human Targets: Schools, Police, and the Criminalization of Latino Youth.”
avatar for Heather Ann Thompson

Heather Ann Thompson

Thompson is an historian at the University of Michigan. Her book, "Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy,” is a finalist for the 2016 L.A. Times Book Prize in History, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and has been named on more than a dozen Best Books of 2016 lists as well as a Best Human Rights Books of 2016. It has also been optioned by TriStar Pictures and will be adapted for film by screenwriters... Read More →
avatar for Gary Younge

Gary Younge

Younge, an Alfred Knobler Fellow at the Nation Institute, is an award-winning columnist for the Guardian and Nation. In 2015, he was awarded Foreign Commentator of the Year Award in Britain and the David Nyhan Prize for political journalism by Harvard's Shorenstein's Center. He is author of "The Speech,” "Who Are We—and Should it Matter in the Twenty-First Century?,” "Stranger in a Strange Land,” and "No Place Like Home.”