Supreme Potential Disruption

The United States’ Supreme Court consist of nine judges. They essentially can, by a decision, overrule a law (for being unconstitutional, for example) or a previous decision by a lower court.

For a quick look at the supreme court’s members you can go here.

You may remember that the POTUS, Trump, succeeded in getting a nominee onto the supreme court. A recent 5-4 decision went against public sector unions, preventing them from collecting dues from non-members who nonetheless benefited from their union’s negotiations. You can find details here.

More alarmingly, Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban just got upheld, again by 5-4. The argument was that Trump’s statements during the campaign did not constitute discriminatory intent. You can see this one here.

Trump will have another chance to ‘pack’ the supreme court as a retirement has been announced. You can read this here.

If you care about abortion law, just wait. Iowa wants detection of fetal heartbeat to be an option killer. This has been stayed. However, with the new supreme court makeup in just a few months, this could go much farther than just one state. You can read this one here.

Trump is rewriting the rules of international diplomacy. He is rewriting the rules of international trade.

Now he is rewriting rules that once were considered logical under the Constitution.

May God have mercy on us all.

 

 

Term Limits?

Canada does not seem to have term limits. This creates career politicians whose lives might collapse if not re-elected. (We’re going to see a lot of this in Ontario, eh?)

Chile’s president can only run for one term. Bachelet has been back repeatedly, but she had a one-term gap each time. This seems to work out well; Chile’s economic numbers look a lot better than Peru’s, for example. Bachelet either has a backup job or wealthy independence. She does not need to be re-elected because she can’t be.

The US President can only be elected twice. There’s also a ten-year limit to cover the case of succession.

I have two examples of long-running country leaders. One is Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Kagame was referred to by Romeo Dallaire as the best general in Africa. He is now, apparently, a despot.

Does this always happen after too many years in power?

My other example is Daniel Ortega. Ortega was the recipient of attacks funded by arms sales to Iran (Oliver North) used to fund the Honduran Contras. Ortega made positive changes in Nicaragua at the start of his rule. He is now, apparently, silencing the media and allowing dissenters to be killed.

Does this always happen after too many years in power?

WordPress.org help sucks

Despite logging in successfully, I can Not ask a question nor add to any forum. I’ve read the instructions and I’m told to click an ‘add new’ button that is not there.

My problem is this:

I updated to 4.9.6 after backing up, as was suggested.

Then I got about 350 spam posts to my blog.

I think that all WordPress sites that updated were so targeted. I’ve seen a lot of c..p posting, but never at this volume. It was too fast to be manual, and several IP addresses were involved. I think there’s an alternate TOR being used.

Any ideas about this? I’m tempted to simply .htaccess the top level IP range for every spam I get.

Smile: you’re on Photo Radar (again)

Here in Toronto, Canada, there is a push to start up photo radar again.

It was used on highways several years ago, was hugely unpopular, and eventually scrapped. Now they want to bring it back, but with a twist:

It will be employed in school zones.

That sounds so impossible to oppose: don’t you want our school children to be safer?

One of the serious safety concerns for school zones is that parents block the street by parking illegally while waiting for pickup children. Other kids cross the street hidden by these parents’ cars – a significant additional risk. Nobody seems to have the cojones to address this problem.

Why I’m against using photo radar in school zones is based on how radar is used in school zones today.

The school zone is NOT patrolled during times of student arrival or departure. I live across from a school and have spoken to patrolling officers. I know what I am talking about.

One school zone is only patrolled on Sunday. Since the reduced speed limit is easily forgotten in the total absence of traffic, single cars are ticketed over and over with no safety benefit whatsoever.

The school zone across from me has not been patrolled in quite some time. I tried to explain to (patient, friendly) officers that a nearby school, on a lower speed limit road, was much more of a car-student hazard due to the curving street, shortening driver and student sight-lines. Amazingly, the radar effort did move to that road.

What happens in front of my house with radar is legal but annoying. Mothers arriving home at six o’clock experience a downhill, wide road with no other traffic and no pedestrians. So they accidentally increase speed, and get ticketed – for the record, in a school zone. But school has been out for 2.5 hours.

Photo radar is, imho, a cheap way to issue tickets. That’s OK if the usual ‘tolerance factors’ are applied. But don’t pretend you’re protecting school children if you’re not there when they are.

Liberty: a rant

At one point, a previous POTUS was angry at France. I think they pulled out of the (probably illegal) enforcement of a no-fly zone in Iraq.

Probably this president was W.

He re-designated French Fries as Freedom Fries.

The Statue of Freedom is really called the Statue of Liberty.

It was a gift from France. Why didn’t W call them Liberty fries, and add vinaigre for irony?

I said this post was a rant, so I’ll end with what I think is a roughly accurate quote from Noam Chomsky.

We have a statue of Liberty on our east coast. We should add, on our west coast, a statue of Responsibility.

But no. Iraq was invaded, Libya reorganized, the Iran deal threatened, steel and aluminum trade sanction threats made (and, so far, repeatedly delayed), Chinese island building ignored, the TPP disdained, global warming treated as fake news.

If the Statue of Liberty could speak, she might have called them small-minded fries. The French are rarely small-minded, whatever one thinks of their policies. Their one mistake, imho, is going along with Germany in demanding austerity. After Germany dominates everyone else, they will imho turn on France, when it’s the second last economy still standing in the EU.

If a Statue of Responsibility could speak, it would probably weep first.

Apartheid, and Israel

Israel has often been accused of apartheid in its dealings with the Palestinians. However, they usually play the Holocaust card and then enlist support from the United States of America.

Trump’s intent to move the US embassy to Palestine has been greeted by Netanyahu as a harbinger of peace. This from the creator of hundreds of settlements, in East Palestine.

Emboldened by America’s attacks on Iran, support for anti-Palestinian moves, and aggressive to take advantage, Israel has decided to

drive African migrants out of Israel. You can read details here.

Apartheid? No no. Not in Israel.

Trump Peace

Donald Trump, POTUS, has a strange way of settling conflicts.

To defuse the tension with North Korea, he threatens fire and brimstone. He insults ‘little rocket man.’ He has been accused of driving DPRK to nuclear ICBMs.

I think this is correct.

To make Israel happy, the Potus has said the US Embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Palestine. Apparently it has been law in the USA to move the embassy, and every six months the POTUS keeps it from going ahead because either the building or the security is not there. This is the first time any POTUS has decided to let the move happen.

interestingly, Mr. Netanyahu lauded this latest development as a major step forward to peace.This is the same Netanyahu who keeps building illegal settlements, including in East Palestine.

Analysts have said that this is meant to justify, after the anticipated demonstrations incited into riots, of further clamp down on Palestinians. Maybe their tax revenue, water supply, and electricity will be reduced as punishment. Or maybe we’ll see another devastating bombing raid on civilians in Palestine. In short, the more powerful force is taunting the weaker one hoping to enforce further weakening, by checkpoints, curfews, outages.

You may remember that the international deal with Iran over nuclear enrichment was enacted in the USA with a clause that the POTUS had to certify (every six months) that the conditions were being met. The relevant inspectors said they were. The POTUS refused to certify, on some logic that ‘the spirit’ wasn’t being kept when the letter of the agreement obviously is.

Iran may decide to restart, clandestinely, its nuclear program. They already have a decent missile program.

One analyst of US policy with regard to agreements was to compare them to a real estate deal. If it works out for U, OK. If it doesn’t, walk away. Bankruptcy if necessary. Put it into a separate corporation ahead of time. Unfortunately one can only bankrupt the US’s credibility / integrity once or at most twice. Then everyone who can think knows not to deal with such an unreliable partner.

So, thanks to the Trump Peace effort, we can expect at least some of these dire predictions to come true:

  • North Korea gets nuclear-tipped ICBMs and proves that they work.
  • Palestine revolts, aided by all Arab nations (possibly excepting Saudi Arabia, which has a not-so-secret relationship with Israel.)
  • Iran makes a decision.

To quote Albert Einstein: I don’t know what weapons World War Three will be fought with, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

So, now for the dumb questions:

Is all this a distraction from growing inequality, bigotry, divisiveness at home? Or just from so many inappropriately behaving powerful men being outed?

Has peace been Trumped?

Guilty as Discharged: how Trump neutralizes Fact

Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI.

This could beĀ  (wink, wink; nudge, nudge) part of a plea deal.

This is a very large threat to the POTUS. If you’re interested in bafflegab, here is some from the White House: (Emphasis mine, as always)

Donald Trump has responded to a guilty plea by his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying Mr Flynn’s actions as a member of his transition team “were lawful”.

So he pled guilty just for fun.

The deal, for a lesser charge than he might have faced, prompted speculation that he has incriminating evidence.

Imagine my surprise.

Several US news organisations report the very senior official now under the spotlight is Jared Kushner – Mr Trump’s adviser and son-in-law.

So sorry. We were all hoping it was the Donald.

What is usually a Dumb Question here is instead an Activism request:

Can you do anything about this regime? To make it better, more honest, safer, egalitarian? Will you find a way to do something? Please?

Corruption, eh?

Why so much in the US, compared to the UK?

Here you will find the following statements:

A Republican congressman allegedly used a tax-payer funded account to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit with his former spokeswoman, US media report.

It is annoying that a lawmaker can have his legal body pay for his transgressions. However, in the USA and Canada, companies regularly pay for their top management’s transgressions, amounts trivial to the corporation, and never passed on to the legal losers.

Should that bother you?