Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Heartbreak: Juan Castillo, age 19

Juan Sebastian Castillo 

It happened after midnight, in the wee hours of Sunday morning in light rain.

Juan Sebastian Castillo was on Pico Blvd. near 21st Street, perhaps walking home from a party.  He was 19 years old.

Gunshots were reported at 12:45 am in that area of Santa Monica.




I was asleep in my home near 16th and Pico, as was my guest, Carolyn.  We had just shared a day of singing Carolyn's music with 27 other women at a United Church of Christ in Simi Valley.

We rose early, just after 6 am, to get her to the airport to catch her 9 am flight.

An hour earlier, at 5:08 am, Juan had been found lying on the ground in the 1300 block of 16th Street, not far from UCLA-Santa Monica Hospital.  He had head injuries, including a single gunshot wound to the head.  Emergency responders pronounced him dead, and detectives from the Santa Monica Police Department arrived.

Carolyn boarded her plane, and I drove to Claremont to share in a Women-Church liturgy with friends.  On Monday morning I head the news.

Juan had graduated in June, 2016, from Santa Monica High School, where two of my kids had graduated in 2003 and 2005.

He'd just passed a test to enlist in the military, hoping to become a Marine and make his family proud.  Meanwhile he was working for the Burger King at Pico and 20th Street.  He lived with his family nearby.  His older brother is a student at San Francisco State University.

“I want some answers. But I haven’t heard anything. He was my life,” the victim’s father, Jorge Castillo, said as he tried to hold back tears.


Juan was not a member of any gang, according to friends and family members, but the Pico neighborhood is home to a gang, and taggings by the rival Sawtelle gang had been seen in this area in recent weeks.  There were several gang killings here in 2005 and 2006.

The odd thing was that Juan had no shoes on when he was found.

One friend speculated that the beating could have been a gang initiation gone awry.  In recent months he'd been hanging out with a friend described as "sketchy."

What caused the tragic death of this young man?  Families were sleeping all around.  Why was he targeted, but not my friend and I, two older white women?

Juan was the second Latino male shot and killed in Santa Monica this year, and the 52nd person killed since 2000, according to The Homicide Report kept by the Los Angeles Times.


When you read through the list, most of the victims are young black or Latino men.

What hard facts to grow up with or to raise a son with: 
  • "Homicide is the second leading cause of death for Latino men ages 15-24," reports Violence Policy Center.   
  • "The murder rate for Hispanics is twice the murder rate for whites," says Josh Sugarmann on the Huffington Post.


Similarly, murder is the number one cause of death for African-American males ages 15-34.
One in four African-American men will be imprisoned sometime during their lives.  (See the Netflix documentary 13th.)


Then there's the problem of officer-involved shootings of males, both Latino and African-American.


Here are some of the 52 people killed by guns in Santa Monica since 2000:

* Eduardo Lopez, age 15, February 28, 2006--eleven years ago today.  I know his mother.

* Christopher Lamont Hunter, age 21, d. Sept. 4, 2006.

* Miguel Angel Martin, age 20, d. Dec. 27, 2006.

* Jonathan Nicholas Hernandez, age 19, March 5, 2006.

* Hector Manuel Bonilla, age 25, March 5, 2006.

* John Everett Butler, age 18, August 28, 2004.

* Leon George Gomez, age 30, September 7, 2004.

* Jalonnie D. Carter, age 19, September 2, 2003.

* Benjamin Medina Jr., age 29, December 27, 2000.

Parents, social workers, and community activists in Santa Monica formed a Violence Prevention Coalition in 2003 after several deaths of high school students.  

Later the group blended into L.A. Voice, a part of the PICO National Network dedicated to improving life in communities around the US.



While volunteering with the Violence Prevention Coalition, I learned that early childhood education can be an important factor in preventing a child's later involvement in violence.

Juan Castillo attended Will Rogers Elementary School, three blocks from my house, and John Adams Middle School, where my kids went.  It's so sad that his young life ended in this way.

May we all work to prevent gun violence in our communities and nation.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Nina Khrushcheva Speaks

Nina Khrushcheva, Professor of International Affairs

"A few days ago, I called the fake news the enemy of the people because they have no sources--they just make it up," said 45, speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. on Friday, February 24.

"Enemy of the people?"

In the 1950s, Nikita Khrushchev insisted on ending use of the term "enemy of the people" because it was a Stalinist phrase uttered one step before execution of those to whom it was aimed.

His great-granddaughter, Nina Khrushcheva, is now a professor of international affairs at the New School in New York.

She called this phrase "shocking to hear in a non-Soviet, moreover non-Stalinist setting."

Her great-grandfather "tried to stay away from sweeping denunciations of whole segments of the Soviet population," she continued.

Thank you to Andrew Higgins of the New York Times for outlining the history of these words he calls "too toxic even for Nikita Khrushchev."


Hours after using this phrase to describe some segments of the press, 45 held a briefing in his office and barred some newspapers, including the New York Times.

Khrushcheva said that this kind of language of "autocracy, of state nationalism is always the same, regardless of the country, and no nation is exempt."

The "formulas of insult, humiliation, domination, branding, enemy-forming and name calling are always the same," she continued.

Her blog, Welcome To My World, is at https://ninakhrushcheva.wordpress.com/

Apparently the prez "wants to destabilize people," suggests Philip Short, who has written biographies of Chairman Mao Tse Tung and of Pol Pot, who led genocide in Cambodia.  

Then there's the issue of why 45 chooses a specifically Russian phrase to brand his opponents.  Pol Pot labeled his enemies "ugly microbes," and Mao used Soviet jargon sparingly.

Clearly 45 has no idea of the historical resonance of "enemy of the people," but it's probable that Stephen Bannon does understand it and has deliberately placed that phrase on a tray for the prez to use when he wants to shock.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Our Stories Untold: Sexualized Violence

Here's a shout-out to my friend Barbra Graber, who with Hilary J. Scarsella, produces the website Our Stories Untold.  Both have history with the Mennonite Church in the USA, and they work to report and reduce sexualized violence by church members and pastors.

The mission of the OSU website and community is serious:

We are an independent network of people who have suffered sexualized violence, people who love people who have suffered sexualized violence, and people who are just plain fed up with the harm that sexualized violence does in our communities and around the world. We are people who are concerned, specifically, about the spiritual dimensions of sexualized violence and the presence of sexualized violence in communities of faith. Many of us have a connection to the Mennonite church in North America (MC USA and MC Canada), whether we are participating members, former members or are connected in some other way. Those with no Mennonite connection whatsoever are also welcome in this space and in the work we do together.

In this public space, survivors of sexualized violence can share their stories, report perpetrators, find support, seek justice, and educate the public.

"A Timeline of What Happened in Harrisonburg: My View" is a report by Barbra on the series of events at Eastern Mennonite University in 2016 starting with the arrest of EMU's Vice President, Luke Hartman, for solicitation of prostitution.  Barbra lives in Harrisonburg, Va.

With the help of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Our Stories Untold invited others at the university who might have been solicited by Hartman to come forward.

One survivor came forward publicly, two came forward privately, and at least one former EMU employee reported sexual harrassment.

Instead of fully investigating these problems, EMU handed the investigation over to a not-so-independent investigating agency, paying $200,000 for its work. 

Neither EMU nor the agency ever interviewed the young woman making these charges.  Instead, they limited the investigation to her case alone and found that EMU had handled it properly--a point that Our Stories Untold contests.

Barbra examines the larger context of this case:
  • OSU received evidence and filed a report  "indicating MCUSA and its conferences, as a common practice, keep the knowledge of sexual misconduct complaints against ordained pastors and lay leaders a secret from those who may also be in harm’s way.*
  • After following up various complaints, OSU also filed a report "indicating EMU has had a past practice of either failing to write up sexual misconduct complaints reported to them or to discard the files, and to rarely file reports with police.*
But the Mennonite Church and the Eastern Mennonite University continue to protect perpetrators and keep quiet about reports of sexual misconduct by students or employees of EMU.

Barbra concludes:
To date, EMU has not indicated a willingness to come clean about the serious historical problems of sexual violence on their campus or open any secret files they hold on past and present employees or students. In fact, a student perpetrator who was found guilty of rape during an internal Title IX investigation as recently as February 2, 2017 is reportedly still walking free and under cover on campus. He is slated to graduate as a social work major, his charges hidden from other girls who could be at risk on campus. All this with a slap on the wrist, no notice to his employer where he works with vulnerable populations, nothing placed on his student record, no invitation for others who may have been harmed by him to come forward. 

At the end of her timeline she places this quotation from Martin Luther King, Jr.:

We [who break the code of silence] are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.  We bring it out into the open where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured as long as it is covered up but must be open with all its pus- flowing ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must likewise be exposed, with all the tension its exposing creates to the light of human conscience….”
Martin Luther King

From Sweden with love

A fishy story

This portrait turned up on Twitter, designed by someone from Sweden as a tribute to 45's now-famous reference on Feb. 18 to a fictitious terror attack in Sweden.

"We've got to keep our country safe," he said. "You look at what's happening in Germany. You look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible."


In that comment, we see dt's favorite rhetorical device: repetition.  If you say something 3-4 times, it becomes more true each time.

Here's more humor from Sweden after this fake news:


Seriously, though, he couldn't remember exactly what he heard Friday while watching Fox news.  He didn't know the source was a 10-minute video posted on You Tube in December.

Impaired memory + grandiosity + confusion + simple thinking + shrinking vocabulary = dementia (perhaps Alzheimer's Disease)

On YouTube, the filmmaker, Ami Horowitz, described his ten-minute film this way: "Rape and violence has exploded across Sweden due it's immigration policies. Watch to see what Sweden has done to itself."
The film, called "Stockholm Snydrome," reached a small audience when Horowitz posted it in December. It suddenly gained international attention thanks to a Fox segment on Friday and a presidential mention on Saturday.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Rest in peace, Norma McCorvey

What a hard job, being a part of history.  See this obituary in the Los Angeles Times by Mary Rourke and Emily Alpert Reyes.


In 1970 when Norma McCorvey became pregnant with her third baby, she wanted to terminate the pregnancy.

Lawyers Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee needed a woman like her in order to contest the law making abortion illegal in Texas.

Norma agreed to work with them, not realizing that the court process would take years.  She ended up having the baby, her third, and giving it up for adoption.

Norma had a hard life.  Her parents barely made a living and divorced when she was 13.  She began running away at age 10.

She married at 16 but was beaten.  After being part of the Roe v. Wade case. she received hate mail and didn't fit in with the middle class feminist movement, partly because she was lesbian and the movement had not yet changed to accept gay persons.

Norma got a job at an abortion clinic but was befriended by an anti-abortion pastor, through whom she became a Christian and began opposing abortion, then writing her second autobiography. 

She was "a very complicated person," said Gloria Allred, the lawyer who represented Norma during her 1970-73 court case.  Norma stayed in touch with her throughout her life.

Norma died at 69 on February 11 of heart failure in an assisted living facility.  She was born in 1947, a year before I was born.

Now she may rest in peace.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Evangelical Left

Thank you to Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist on Patheos.com, for this post of a protestor's sign contrasting the Bible and the religious right on a list of key biblical commands.


The poster says:

Fear everyone
Expel the stranger
Blame the poor
Ignore the sick
Feed the rich
Love only thyself
Trust only Caesar
Throw lots of stones

Clearly, these positions are the opposite of many things Jesus said, as well as opposite of the central teachings of Torah:

Leviticus 19:33-34New International Version (NIV)

33 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
Just one problem with this post: it concludes with the comment "Not that evangelical Christians ever had any moral authority."

Wrong.  Evangelical Christians like Catherine Booth founded the Salvation Army, which is still doing good work today.  In many small, untrumpeted actions, born-again Christians are still following the words of Jesus in Matthew, chapter 25, verse 40:

If you did it to the least of these my sisters and brothers, you did it to me.

Evangelical and mainstream Christians are a major force protesting Trump's ban on refugees because many churches do hosting of refugees.

I love the sign of the protestor, and it's true that many evangelicals overlooked 45's sexual assault and racism to get an anti-abortion vote on the Supreme Court, but don't smear all evangelicals of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

Some of us are left and progressive--such as my favorite group, Christian Feminism Today, which is inclusive of LGBTQ folk and fights for women's equality in Christian churches and parachurch organizations.


Thank you to Karen Kidd, who alerted me to this post on Patheos.

Garry Kasparov vs. Putin

Joy-Ann Reid, national correspondent, MSNBC

I remember watching Garry Kasparov become World Chess Champion in 1985 at age 22.  Then in 1997 he was playing chess against an IBM computer and losing--the first human player to do so.

Today he appeared on MSNBC's AM Joy, speaking as one of the foremost opponents of Vladimir Putin and the author of Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped.

He lives in New York City now because he's #1 on Putin's list of persons to assassinate.

I remember watching John Dean, White House Counsel 1970-73, defend President Richard Nixon during the cover-up of the Watergate scandal. 

Today he too appeared on AM Joy, now drawing parallels between cover up of the Watergate break-in and cover up of 45's contacts with Russian spies during the 2016 election campaign and up to the present.

I never expected to see them both appearing on television in 2017 speaking against a Republican president's ties to Russian spies.  

It's now called Russiagate.

Dan Rather has said that Watergate was the biggest threat to constitutional democracy in the US--"until maybe now."

We need a full investigation--now.

As voters, we need to call our representatives and senators demanding a full investigation.

Hounded by the "Mrs."

I'm used to being called "Mrs. Arthur."

Though I never took my husband's surname, every marketer who dials up the phone of "John Arthur" and hears a woman's voice answer, then addresses me as "Mrs. Arthur."

It's a quick way for me to determine that it's a junk call.

"Please take us off your calling list," I answer several times per day.

I recently stopped using my father's surname, given to me at birth, and took a matrilineal surname, Linstatter.

I filed the papers to get a court order to change my name, then got a new driver's license and new Social Security card.  Now I'm calling various insurance and credit card companies to report the new surname.

Yesterday when I called Chase Bank, the conversation went like this:

"Hi, I'm calling to report that my surname has changed.  It's now Linstatter."

"Congratulations!" the man responded.  "What is your account number and your former name?"

After recording the change, he ended the call by saying, "Alright, Mrs. Linstatter.  Have a nice day."

Mrs. Linstatter?

I guess I'll never get rid of the assumption that I carry my husband's surname.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Alternet's 21 Facts on Miller

Now Alternet takes up the challenge of documenting the life and times of Stephen Miller, 45's "senior" adviser with a piece called "21 Facts That Explain Exactly Who Stephen Miller Is."

Here's the list, in summary:

  1. The NRA was "his first right-wing love."
  2. He dumped a middle-school friend because he was Latino.
  3. He clashed with the administration at Santa Monica HS.
  4. He started connecting with conservative radio talk show hosts while in high school.
  5. He reinstated the Pledge of Allegiance at SMHS.
  6. His racism was well known at SMHS.
  7. He spoke against condoms, homosexuality, Native Americans, and Muslims there.
  8. He argued against Latino and African-American groups on campus.
  9. He spoke against school janitors, black and brown (link to the 6-min documentary.)
  10. He fought multiculturalism at Duke University and accused Maya Angelou of "racial paranoia."
  11. He promoted anti-black, anti-Muslim fear on campus.
  12. He founded the anti-Muslim "Terrorism Awareness Project" on campus.
  13. He made friends with a white-supremacist Peter Brimelow.
  14. David Duke became his fan, and Jared Taylor (admired by Dylann Roof) namechecked him.
  15. He worked for Senator Jeff Sessions, 
  16. He bombarded Republicans with pro-Trump email and lies during the campaign.
  17. He spoke at dt campaign rallies.
  18. He helped write dt's RNC speech and inauguration speech.
  19. He helped write the travel ban.
  20. He showed fascist views on the Sunday talk shows on Feb. 12: "the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned."
  21. Quite a few members of his family are embarrassed by him.

Resist Facism

Today it's been four weeks since dt was sworn in as the 45th president of the USA.

It seems like four years.

It's a nightmare from which I do not wake.

On KPFK today there was talk of how we need to resist fascism--while we still can.


http://www.risingupwithsonali.com/about-us/  Sonali Kolhatkar hosts Rising Up with Sonali.

http://kpfk.org/programs/programschedule#.WKirW_krKM  KPFK is a left-of-NPR radio station in southern California with a sister station KPFA in the San Francisco Bay area.

I've never been completely clear on what Fascism is, but now that I see it happening, I'm starting to understand.

  • Jailing those who disagree with the leader(s) in power.  Some Germans tried to resist Hitler, but not enough.  First Hitler jailed people associated with the Communist Party.  Then other groups were jailed.  (Thus: resist while we can...)
  • Decrying the media as false -- a key tool used by Hitler to prevent Germans from learning the truth.
  • Ultra-patriotism... as in "America first!"
  • Populism--a false populism that appeals to the people but leads to authoritarian goverment.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

WashPost Releases Miller video

Now the Washington Post has placed half of the 2002 documentary on its website.

It shows a racist, right-wing young man speaking against the janitors on his high school campus.  "He's just joking," says a friend, but jokes against a lower social class are not in good taste.

That's the point my daughter Ellen makes when her friend interviews her in the documentary.

Stephen Miller's  mother refused to allow the 6 minutes to be shown at Santa Monica High School. She thought it might be detrimental to his future.

The future is here now, and the entire nation can watch Miller being booed off the stage at his school assembly.

See the report by Rosalind S. Helderman:


How do you get a person who hates Mexicans and immigrants and Muslims?

How do you make a prez like this or a Stephen Bannon or an Adolf  Hitler?

Certainly you need to understand what influenced the person as he was growing up.   Eventually we will learn more about the childhoods of dt, Stephen Bannon, and Stephen Miller. We know much about the making of Adolf Hitler.

For now, we will have to be content with this snapshot of Miller at age 15, so similar to the man he is at 31.

See my five previous posts about Miller, starting with January 14:  


Then Jan. 30, Feb. 13 (two posts), Feb 15.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Video of Stephen Miller at 15 yrs.

My daughter Ellen and her friends were classmates at Santa Monica High School with a kid who is now Trump's "senior" advisor at age 31. 

His name is Stephen Miller.  He was notorious even then for his racism, especially toward immigrants.

One friend had the insight and skills to make a 6-min documentary about him for her film class in 2002.  It was never shown in the campus film festival because Stephen's mother refused to grant permission for it to be seen.

Now part of it has been aired on Univision, the Spanish-language tv station and is available on the internet.


 Ellen speaks for about a minute in the video.

Univision aired it a few days ago and placed an article with more details about Miller's past on its website.  The video is in English with Spanish subtitles.  The article is in Spanish, but my computer gives me the option to see it translated into English.

This is the type of person whom 45 hires and admires.

See these other recent reports on this strange young man being used by the prez:

Amy Goodman on Democracy Now:


New York Daily News:


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

45's team begins to fall apart

Two down, several more to go.

We saw national security adviser Michael Flynn resign from 45's wacky team last night, as Paul Manafort was forced off dt's campaign staff last year--both for entanglements with Russians.


~~~Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce, is compromised by financial dealings with Russians.


~~~Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, is financially and personally involved with Putin and other Russian oligarchs.

Is the cookie beginning to crumble?  

~~~Will Congress finally get going to investigate Russian involvement in the 2016 US election, and will Trump be impeached for it?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Wilbur Ross & the Russians

Why was Wilbur Ross confirmed as Secretary of Commerce in 45's cabinet?

Here are some reasons why he should not have been confirmed:

1)  He's the top investor in the Bank of Cyprus, which has many ties with Russian investors, who in turn are close to Vladimir Putin. Ross was the bank's vice chairman until he separated from the bank to take the commerce position under dt.


"Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as his commerce secretary, has been the top shareholder in a Cypriot bank with deep Russian ties and investors who made their fortunes under Russian President Vladimir Putin," reports Kevin G. Hall of McClatchy newspapers' Washington, D.C., bureau.

2) The Bank of Cyprus is used by Putin and other oligarchs to launder money and evade taxes.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article121981259.html#storylink=cpy


3) This bank is run by an ex-KGB friend of Putin, according to Grant Stern on the Occupy Democrats website.

4) Putin has increased his killing of Russians who oppose his regime--such as Alexander Litvinenko, killed by radioactive poisoning in November 2006, Boris Nemtsov, who was shot on a street close to the Kremlin in February 2015, Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison in 2009, and Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was poisoned but survived in January 2015 and then poisoned again on February 2, 2017.  He uncovered Russia to Cyprus money laundering and has begun to recover after a week in a coma.

5) This bank's chairman Josef Ackermann was appointed by Ross and once headed Deutsche Bank, which is a major money-lender to 45's business empire.

6) The second-largest shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus is Renova Corp., which according to Hall "is headed by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian billionaire and associate of Putin who served on the management board of Russian oil giant Rosneft, which was under U.S. financial sanctions in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Vekselberg, with a fortune estimated at more than $14 billion, was featured by Esquire magazine as the richest Russian who doesn’t live abroad."

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article121981259.html#storylink=cpy
To sum up, says Hall, the roles of Ross and Vekselberg in the Bank of Cyprus underscore the overlapping financial interests of associates of Trump and Putin."

7) Deutsche Bank went belly-up and accepted a settlement from New York and the Securities and Exchange Commission in December, as Hall reports:

"Deutsche Bank agreed to a $37 million settlement last week with the New York Attorney General’s Office and the Securities and Exchange Commission over allegations of poor record-keeping on complex trades. Those problems began while Ackermann was still CEO in 2012.
In addition, Deutsche Bank is reportedly the subject of an ongoing probe by regulators in the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom for so-called mirror trades from 2011 to 2015. That complex scheme allowed wealthy Russian clients to buy securities in their native rubles in Moscow and simultaneously sell identical ones for foreign currency in London.
Regulators say they suspect allies of Putin used these trades to get hard currency and evade financial sanctions. Reuters, citing anonymous sources, has said these trades in Russia surpassed $6 billion."

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article121981259.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article121981259.html#storylink=cpy
In addition, we have Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with all his Russian financial ties.

And don't forget that Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign advisor for several months, was sued by Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, alleging that Manafort had stolen $19 million from him in an offshore investment in the Cayman Islands, exposed in the Panama papers.

Unraveling all these financial connections just goes on and on.

We now have a Secretary of Commerce and Secretary of State with these Russian ties.

And we have a president with abundant Russian ties who owes $364 million to Deutsche Bank.

Here's Hall's summary: "Trump’s financial disclosures show he has borrowed as much as $364 million from Deutsche Bank for hotels in Chicago and the nation’s capital and for his Doral golf club in Miami. These loans come due by 2024. The bank may have lent Trump more than $3 billion since the 1990s."

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article121981259.html#storylink=cpy

No wonder the admininstration of 45 is not continuing Obama's investigation of Russian tampering with the 2016 election.  Their friends in Russia wouldn't like it.

One might ask a blog on women's lives and women's rights has to spend so much time identifying the compromised financial history of Ross, Tillerson, and 45.

If these guys and their friends plunge us into a war or another great recession, it will affect women as well as men.

If we want to impeach 45 or otherwise drive him out of office, his financial entanglements, his refusal to reveal his tax returns, and his continued defiance of the emoluments clause of the US Constitution are the surest route to achieving that goal.

We all need to call and email and write to our senators and Congressional representatives expressing our concerns over the financial liabilities and Russian connections of 45, Ross, and Tillerson. 



Below are a few more reports on the shady status of the Bank of Cyprus, finally admitted to the London Stock exchange in January despite its bankruptcy in 2013 and its continued exposure to bad loans.



When a junior is called a senior


Why is this 31-yr-old being called a "senior adviser"?

Is it because he is prematurely balding?


What a joke.  To whom is he senior?

He went to Santa Monica High School with my kids, was known in high school as a racist, and has used his anti-immigrant stands as a tool to make a place for himself in the right-wing community.

Stephen Miller again

Santa Monica's own young Stephen Miller was sounding like the right-hand man of a dictator on Sunday's political talk shows.

"Ripped from the pages of 1984.  'The powers of the president will not be questioned' " notes Joe Scarborough of MSNBC with a great photoshopped tweet:


Here's the Washington Post story:  


Media Matters for America headlined it: "White House put Stephen Miller on Four Sunday Shows to Dodge, Lie, and Attack the Media."



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Wisdom for Dark Days

Today I heard words of wisdom on how to get through these dark days of a president who restricts the arrival of refugees, deports harmless people, and vows to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which provides health care to many who would not otherwise get it.

"What is not in the bowl cannot spill out," said Pastor Lynn Cheyney at Westwood Presbyterian Church today. "Take care what you put in your bowl."

She was quoting a professor she had at Fuller Theological Seminary many years ago.  If you have anger or hatred in your heart, it will spill out, he said, so we need to protect ourselves as we live in the shadow of evil.

We can't let our minds be filled with the nasty words pouring out of the White House.  (These are my words, not Lynn's--she carefully avoided mention of the prez or his administration).

It's all too easy to take on the nature of our persecutors--to be angry and vindictive.

Instead we need to use difficulties as opportunities for learning.

"I'm just thankful that I was the one being robbed, not the one doing the robbing," said Fr. Greg Boyle once.  Founder of Homeboy Industries, he often speaks against "the lurking suspicion in our culture that some lives matter more than others."  

"Everything can be taken from a [person] but one thing: the last of human freedoms-- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances," she said, quoting Victor Frankl, author of Man's Search for Meaning.  This book tells about his experiences in a concentration camp during World War II.

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just,  whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things," she read from Philippians 4: 1-9.

Focus on truth, honor, justice.

"Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows," she continued, quoting Charles Spurgeon, the Baptist preacher in England who lived 1834-1892, "but only empties today of its strength." 

Avoid attitudes and assumptions that draw us away from peace of mind.

What a powerful sermon--just what I needed to hear as we begin the fourth week of the presidency of 45.

Trump's mental impairment

More and more people are concluding that 45 has a mental impairment of some kind.

I first heard this theory last summer on the Diane Rehm show, being explained by a psychologist.

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota voiced the concern about 45's mental health a few days ago on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher.


Bernie Sanders said 45 may be a pathological liar--unable to grasp the truth or to feel bound by it.

My view is that the president suffers from Alzheimer's Disease or some other form of dementia.

Signs of dementia include grandiosity, lack of impulse control, and impaired memory.

45 demonstrates all three.

SNL: Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

When Saturday Night Live gets it right, it's superb,

But SNL got it totally wrong last night with its Fatal Attraction skit featuring Kate McKinnon as Kellyanne Conway.


I was disgusted to see a woman with a serious job on the national scene sexualized in that demeaning way.

Yes, I hate her statements defending Trump, but no woman deserves to be parodied that way.

The little boys who thought that act would be funny have betrayed their basic lack of respect for women.

The voices on Twitter who liked it are equally dismaying.

How can women enter politics if they know their enemies will attack them in ways that are purely sexual and have nothing to do with their political stances?

No one takes a man in politics and turns him into a pathetic, sex-starved caricature.

Not even 45 has been treated like that.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Hidden Figures

What an experience to spend two hours of my life with Hidden Figures, directed by Ted Melfi, from the book by the same name written by Margot Lee Shetterly.  Both the book and the film were published in 2016.

The lives of  mathematicians Katherine G. Johnson (1918- ), Dorothy Vaughan (1910-2008), and Mary Jackson (1921-2005) as they work for NASA in 1961-62 are movingly portrayed by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae.

  • Very hard to watch the racist, sexist workplace in 1961 at Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. 
  • Scary to learn how iffy those first rocket launches were.
  • Kevin Costner is convincing as Al Harrison, Director of the Space Task Group.
  • Definitely worth seeing.

Shetterly grew up as an African-American whose father was working as a research scientist at Langley, so she had intimate knowledge of that world.  This was her first book.

Her mother was an English professor at Hampton University.  After working in investment banking in New York City, she married and moved to Mexico, where she and her husband did content marketing and editorial consulting related to the Mexico tourism industry.

President Obama awarded Katherine G. Johnson the presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 for her outstanding contributions to space flight.

Mary Jackson became NASA's first African-American female engineer.

Dorothy Vaughan became the first African-American woman to supervise a staff at Langley.

She later was promoted officially to this position. During her 28-year career, Vaughan prepared for the introduction of machine computers in the early 1960s by teaching herself and her staff the programming language of FORTRAN; she later headed the programming section of the Analysis and Computation Division (ACD) at Langley.

Vaughan was five years ahead of my father, who learned computer programming--Fortran and Cobol--in 1965 and then became a programmer for the Social Security Administration in Baltimore.  Through him I had an idea of how white and male the programming world was then--and coding (as it's now called) still is very male-dominated.

I watched comparing the film to my very limited view in 1961-62 of of the space program, segregation, and female oppression.  My eyes were opened to events I lived through but had no real understanding of.




Friday, February 10, 2017

Not God's Will

God does not will human suffering.

I heard someone say yesterday, "God's will is everything that is.  Accept it."


When Guadalupe Garcia was deported from Phoenix to Mexico after a routine check-in at ICE on February 8, this event was not God's will.

When as many as 13,000 people were hung at the Saydnaya Prison near Damascus between September 2011 and December 2015, their deaths were not God's will.

Here's Amnesty International's 2-minute video about the murders in this prison: https://saydnaya.amnesty.org/en/saydnaya.html

The continued murderous rule of Bashar al-Assad in Syria is not God's will.  He denies the report from Amnesty that these people were hung.

The drowning of my 15-month-old nephew in a jacuzzi was not God's will.  A pastor said at his memorial service, "God took him home."

No, after the drowning occurred, God enfolded the baby in her loving arms.  But beforehand, the God I worship did not ordain "Today I will that this baby die."

The Holocaust was not God's will.

The election of dt was not God's will.

The Bible makes very clear that our human will is often in conflict with God's will.  Even when we somewhat want to do right, doing evil instead is all too easy.  The Apostle Paul wrote,"So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand" (Romans 7:21).  

So if you hear the lie about a horrendously omnipotent (male) God who wills everything that happens, don't believe it.

The Creator whom Jesus of Nazareth served was One who suffered with us in our pain and asked us to bend our wills to meet the Divine Energy, which always wills the good.

Yes, God can take human crimes and errors and use them to teach us, to grow compassion or change in us, to make some good come out of them, as Paul writes in Romans 8:28: "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God's purpose."

But don't give me this lie that the evil around us is part of God's will.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Melissa & SNL skewer dt

Still watching Melissa McCarthy's great impersonation of Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live for February 4...


Topics ridiculed include:

  • Spicer's hostility to the press including the CNN reporter in diapers in a cage
  • His exaggeration of  public response to the prez's announcement of a Supreme Court nominee--"a standing ovation which lasted a full 15 min... everyone was smiling, everyone was happy, and no one was sad.  Okay those are the facts forever..." 
  • The prez's watching of silly films/media - Finding Dory
  • The travel ban that is not a ban
  • Horror of press at Spicer's ridiculous responses
  • False info "so print that--that's your story."
  • Betsy DeVos impersonation with her inability to answer whether she sees growth or proficiency as more important in evaluating students
  • Not mentioning the Jewish people in the president's Holocaust Remembrance Day statement
  • Calling the press liars and using a water gun with soapy water to "wash out your mouths"

Also great was the opening skit.


Steve Bannon is depicted as the medieval figure of Death, a skeleton in a black hood and cloak

  • Bannon suggesting the prez call Australia when he's tired and cranky--refusing refugees, hanging up on him with the words "prepare to go to war"
  • "huge massacre at Bowling Green"--
  • dt's focus on The Apprentice & how bad it
  • dt calling Mexico--calling them "bad hombre"--ending "preparing to go to war"
  • dt not knowing who Frederick Douglass was
  • dt to Angela Mirkel: changing Holocaust Remembrance Day to "6 million people were at my inauguration," then "Germany sucks, your wall failed, prepare to go to war"
  • calling Zimbabwe president who says "You think you are a big time dictator?  I will rip out your spine and drink from your skull! ... Don't you ever call Zimbabwe again" and hangs up on dt.
  • Bannon actually being president while dt moves to a small desk

Together, both skits reviewed most of the outrageous happenings of the last week.  May they go down in history.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

In Memoriam: Hans Rosling

The world mourns statistician Hans Rosling, who died on Tuesday, February 7, felled by pancreatic cancer at age 68.

He was renowned for the insights he so brilliantly brought to his students and audiences.

Here's an earlier biography of this Swedish professor:

Watch a couple of his TED talks to understand how the lives of humans in various parts of the world have changed over the last two hundred years.

     "The best stats you've ever seen."

https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_at_state - "Let my dataset change your mindset."

"The mindset of my students corresponds to the world of the year their teachers were born," he says, using moving graphs of birth and death rates, standard of living, and other measurements to demonstrate how the world has been changing.

Go to his website, Gapminder, to get in touch with the economic and health and other realities of the world and how it has changed.  http://www.gapminder.org/

Subjects of the bubble charts and documentaries include:

  • How not to be ignorant about the world
  • Don't panic--end poverty.
  • Refresh your world.

Praise be to the Creator for Hans Rosling's work and his message, now carried on by his colleagues, his wife, his children, and his students.

Fox: "Go to hell, Trump."

What a pleasure to hear former president of Mexico Vicente Fox speaking on BBC's Hardtalk today.


He was interviewed by Stephen Sackur, who sounded like a Trump supporter, continually asking questions that sounded slanted against Mexico.

Fox did a great job of presenting his international expertise as well as his adamant opposition to invasion and to any additions to the existing wall along the US-Mexico border.

When he called dt "crazy," "dumb," and "stupid," Sackur argued that Fox should show more respect for the US president.

"If he wants respect, he has to start respecting others," said Fox.

 "He proposed to Pena that he's willing to send US Army. Go to hell, Trump. Mexico does not admit in its territory by Constitution no armies coming from anywhere in the world."

"Use your army, Trump, to stop the consumption of drugs, to stop drugs circulating all over United States every day. In every single corner of United States there is drug consumption, and he complains about Mexico.  Why don't he stop drugs circulating in the United States?"

Then Sackur challenged Fox on his comparison of Trump to Hitler.

Fox answered that dt's followers include the Nazi Party and persons in the Republican Party who follow him blindly--as Hitler was followed.

"You don't follow a false prophet when he's taking you to the desert," Fox concluded.

Sackur argued that Mexico does not adequately police its southern border. Fox answered that Mexico uses compassion when handling people trying to cross its border into Mexico. "There is hunger, there is poverty."

On the subject of fighting violence associated with the drug cartels, Fox was eloquent:

"That doesn't give Trump the right to intervene in our internal public policies.  That doesn't give him the right to treat unhumanely most people from anywhere of the world."

"Mexico has to correct yes, the problem of drugs and violence, and we're going to legalize drug consumption so that we take away the money from the cartels, by the way money that comes from United States consumption. 

"And #2, we have to move the economy to create jobs, to create opportunities, which we're doing now.  In my part of Mexico, we are full employment right now, full employment and salaries going up. So we are doing our work.  It's not as we wish, we wish we could do more, but again, I think it's a threat that we have been brought, and its a dangerous threat."

Sackur did not acknowledge Fox's points but kept arguing that Mexico does not adequately police its southern border. 

"Yeah, our border to the south is not what it should be because there is hunger, there is poverty," answered Fox. "Mexico uses compassion when handling people trying to cross its border into Mexico.

"Everything you've done, and I'm talking about you and your successors, has completely failed to stop the flow of drugs into the United States," repeated Sackur.

"We're fighting a war against drugs which is not ours," answered Fox. "I ask you and I ask Trump and I ask the American people, what happens once those loads of drugs cross the border?  Where are US authorities?  Where is the army? They do the consumption, they're happy consuming, and we pay the blood. 160,000 kids have died on President Calderon's admin and Pena's administration, 160,000 kids that were not born criminals."

Fox then cited Portugal's legalization of drugs and US states where marijuana has been legalized. 

"I am for legalization of all drugs.  We human beings should be responsible for our own health.  And that's why the world has now to accepting abortion, accepting marriages of different sexes, because we are and have to be responsible of our own behavior.  The state, governments, will never solve the problem from us. It's a promise that has never been complied with." 

"Forty years ago President Nixon launched a global world war on drugs, and what happened? Total failure. Consumption goes up and up.  And yes, we have to correct things in Mexico, we're not happy with what we have.  But again that doesn't give Trump the possiblity or the prerogative of speaking so many stupid things during one single day."

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Sandy Hook Pain Grows

In a year of painful news, this report rates as by far the worst:

Sandy Hook victims' fresh agony

In age of 'alternative facts,' the massacre is called a hoax.

"If there is anything worse than losing a child," begins reporter Barbara Demick, "it is losing a child and having people taunt you over the loss."


Apparently haters have been harassing the parents and siblings of the dead children--even more after the 2016 election--saying that the shooting deaths of 26 children and staff members never happened.  

It was all pretend--acted out--in order to pass legislation to take guns away from gun owners. 

Alex Jones and his web-based radio and video network have pushed this theory that Democrats staged Sandy Hook.

Jones has been praised by Michael Flynn (new national security adviser) and by dt, who called him after Nov. 8 to say thanks for his help in the election.

Newtown is planning to send Trump a letter asking him to sever his ties with Jones.  

The family of Noah Pozner, who are Jewish, have been targeted by anti-Semites, who claim that "powerful Zionists" were perpetrators of the attack.

Blame the victims has always been a successful tactic, and more so as "alternative facts" gain ground.

Noah's family has moved six times since his death in order to evade death threats and other harassment.

In the final weeks of her campaign, Hillary Clinton aired an ad attacking dt's support for Jones, but dt fans were told by Jones that the Sandy Hook deaths were not "something real." Actors were used, he insinuated.

Let's all take a moment of silence to pray for the Sandy Hook families and then send a postcard asking dt to speak out against Jones and his lies.

Bannon at the Vatican

Apparently we now need to know that Steve Bannon is Catholic and made a 2014 trip to the Vatican to conspire with right-wing Catholics.

Thank you to Jason Horowitz of the New York Times for his front-page story today informing us about these things we never thought we had to know.


Bannon has made friends with Cardinal Raymond Burke, formerly Archbishop of St. Louis, currently a Vatican official, who has openly clashed with the Pope, opposing the direction he has taken toward greater inclusiveness and openness.

Bannon thinks the church has moved toward a "cultural Marxism."  He calls Pope Francis a "socialist/communist."

The "radical traditionalists" in the Vatican see Bannon and Trump as potentially standing up for "traditional Christian values and again Muslim interlopers," reports Horowitz.

What kind of traditional Christian values does Trump stand for?  Divorce and remarriage?  Sexual assault?  Neglect of the poor?

Ah, it's the not-so-traditional fairly recent right-to-life position they are thinking of.  The Institute for Human Dignity was founded by a friend of Archbishop Burke.  Bannon and Trump and Pence are useful to these priests for their anti-abortion stand.  (Not that Trump has taken this stand for very long.)

A few weeks ago Pope Francis demoted Burke and stripped him of institutional influence.

American right-to-lifers then in January gave Burke an award designated for someone who has "received a stab in the back."

Well, not to worry.  The Pope is firmly set on his path of following St. Francis and Jesus.  Furthermore, having been born and raised in Argentina, he knows how to stand up to fascism and right-wing governments.


Putin's Killings, DT's respect

Vladimir Kara-Murza
Of the many troubling aspects of the 45th president, perhaps the worst is his close relationship to Vladimir Putin and Russia.

He expressed respect for Vladimir Putin in an interview aired on Superbowl Sunday and dismissed objections by Bill O'Reilly that Putin is a killer. 


"President Trump’s expression of 'respect' for Vladimir Putin in an interview that aired over the weekend, and his comparison of extrajudicial killings by the Putin regime to American actions, has ushered in a new era in U.S.-Russian relations. Never before has an American president implied that political murder is acceptable or that the US is guilty of similar crimes," writes David Satter in the Wall Street Journal on February 7.

On February 2, two days before the interview was taped, Vladimir Kara-Murza was poisoned for the second time in Russia.  He is a vocal opponent of the Putin regime and was the first to expose corruption and targeted killing in the Putin regime in Russia.  He has now wakened from his coma.

His wife, Yevgeniya Kara-Murza, lives in Virginia with their three young children, while her husband makes frequent trips to Russia.

Last month, Mr. Kara-Murza submitted a letter critical of Mr. Putin’s government to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during cabinet confirmation hearings for Rex W. Tillerson, the secretary of state.
“There are higher risks than slander or imprisonment for those who oppose the regime,” Mr. Kara-Murza wrote. In Russia, he had been traveling to provincial cities to show a documentary about another Russian politician, Boris Y. Nemtsov, who was shot and killed on a Moscow bridge two years ago.
Kara-Murza runs a blog, World Affairs, to expose abuses by the Putin regime. 

He is also a coordinator of Open Russia, an NGO founded by former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, which promotes human rights and  democracy in Russia.

Russians successfully killed at Putin's behest include:

The president's "readiness to condone murder in the pursuit of an ill-advised U.S.-Russia partnership suggests that he doesn't see the distinction between defensive war and the murder of one's own people to hold on to power," concludes Satter.

We need to increase our letters, emails, phone calls, and demonstrations to oppose 45. He is a shame to all Americans.