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BlueMTexpat

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Gender: Female
Home country: USA
Current location: Switzerland
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 04:01 PM
Number of posts: 3,474

Journal Archives

Post-UK debate photo seems to indicate leftward movement ...

at least, I hope so! Fun article ... and perhaps a hopeful omen for us in the US in 2016.



Oil paintings are probably the only evidence not introduced by party spin doctors as they tried to claim victory for their leaders – even the ones who weren’t there – after last night’s BBC televised debate of the 2015 general election. Yet looking at the debate’s closing image of Ed Miliband shaking hands with Nicola Sturgeon as Nigel Farage stands isolated to our far right, I cannot help thinking of some grand narrative painting of a moment in history.

This handshake has the formal, momentous quality of, say, the meeting of Dutch and Spanish generals in Velazquez’s painting The Surrender of Breda. Sturgeon seems almost to bow, as the Spanish leader does in that masterpiece of history painting. All it lacks is someone looking out of the picture, catching our eye, commenting silently on the falseness of the moment, the complexities behind a simple image of friendship and possible alliance.

Perhaps some will see that ironic commentator as Farage, who voiced his discontent with the event itself and the composition of its audience, and claimed to be uniquely addressing the real audience watching at home.


http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/17/tv-election-debate-new-british-politics-image?CMP=fb_gu

Yawning, blinking and sweating ... hmmm!

Be careful the next time you have to go through TSA checks ...

The US airport security agency is facing ridicule after leaked documents revealed its checklist of tell-tale signs that a passenger might be a potential terrorist.

Despite its own report finding that the human ability to identify deceptive behaviour through body language is no better than chance, the US government has spent almost $1 billion on a programme deploying Behaviour Detection Officers to airport security.

The specialised agents of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are taught to evaluate passengers based on a checklist known as the “Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques” (SPOT).

But according to a copy of a SPOT report published by The Intercept, the “stress factors” that could see passengers stopped at security include arriving late for your flight, blinking too much, sweating and “excessive yawning”.


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/leaked-us-security-documents-reveal-how-to-spot-a-terrorist-trying-to-board-a-plane-10145842.html?cmpid=facebook-post

Sorry if this has been posted earlier ... I just saw it now.

Charlie Hebdo: A Clash of Extremisms, not of Civilizations

Source: Informed Comment

...
What is absent from our mainstream media and politics is a careful analysis of what Islam is in France today. This would show once and for all that the Muslim “community” is not the monolith Le Pen would like us to believe. The terrorists who massacred 12 people on 7 January are apparently Muslim but so was the policeman who lost his life trying to stop them. Mustapha Ourrad, Charlie Hebdo’s copy-editor killed in the attack, was born in Algeria.
This is not a clash of civilisations, this is not a war between the West and Islam, but a fight waged by some very few, marginalised yet extremely dangerous people, for whom division is key. Ultimately, condemning Islam and Muslims indiscriminately would play in the hands of those seeking to terrorise and divide us, as well as fuel the kind of nationalism that Charlie Hebdo has always fought.


Read more: http://www.juancole.com/2015/01/charlie-extremisms-civilizations.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook



This article is well worth reading, especially since so much of Western media reporting continues to represent horrific acts of terrorism, especially those of Muslims, as a clash of civilizations.

The People v. Goliath$

I've been saying all along that the MT Senate race is a winnable one for the Dems. Even if we don't win, what is happening there is standing "good old boy" and "conventional wisdom" politics on its head. Dems everywhere should be taking notes ... and stiffening their backbones.

It's a grassroots race all the way, with Curtis getting most of her nearly USD 700,000 in contributions (raised in less than TWO months) from in-state contributors. She also sounds one heck of a lot like ... a combination of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

In the past two months, Curtis has traveled nearly 7,000 miles to introduce herself to Montanans and they like what they see. Huffington Post has noticed:

The beauty of this all happening in Montana is not confined to the state's unparalleled scenery. A century ago, Montana banned corporate campaign spending after the Copper King* era's gargantuan corruption. "Citizens United" revoked almost one hundred years of Montanans keeping corporate corruption at bay. Even given this kind of citizen activism, I've been surprised to discover that Montana's the closest to a functioning democracy of any state I've encountered. Stranger things can and do happen under those Big Skies than electing an underdog.

Candidate Curtis is no sacrificial lamb. She's adamant that she will be the next Senator from Montana. Here's a 35-year-old Butte high school math teacher who's proud to have made it to the middle class. She's committed to helping other people and families get -- or stay -- there too.

Why haven't we seen AMANDA CURTIS emblazoned on every other email? Beats me. At one stroke, she could be the key to Democrats holding the Senate, the first woman Senator from Montana (and only the second the state has ever sent to Washington) and meaningfully lower the average age of the Senate.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paula-gordon/the-people-v-goliath_b_5987602.html

It is NOT an impossible dream. Yes. We. Can.

Fingers Crossed for Amanda ...

Can This 35-Year-Old Math Teacher Become the Youngest Member of the Senate?
...
If Curtis wins her election, she's already destined to stand out from the rest of the senators on the Hill — and not just because she would be the first one sporting a nose ring. Curtis would be the youngest senator, having only turned 35 in September. And in a Senate that is 80 percent male, has an average age of 62, and is predominately filled by millionaires, Curtis would bring a vastly different set of experiences to the Capitol.

According to Curtis, that's exactly what makes her the right candidate for the job. "We all need to remember that Washington, D.C. is full of folks that have done incredibly well for themselves and when you send folks to Washington, D.C. who have done incredibly well for themselves, they take votes that tilt the playing field to the wealthy and against us regular working folk," she told the Montana Standard shortly after her nomination.

It's these same traits — youth, a more mainstream economic background, and an ability to identify with working-class voters — that make her a formidable challenger, even with just two-and-a-half months to campaign. (Daines will have spent a full year running for the office.)

It would be difficult to find two candidates more different than Curtis and Daines. She teaches math and has $23,500 in a retirement account as her sole financial asset. He's a former businessman whose tech startup was sold to Oracle and who has a net worth of between $8.9 million and $32.7 million. She supports abortion rights. He believes abortion should always be illegal, even if the pregnancy was a result of a sexual assault, and he cosponsored the "Life at Conception Act," which defines life as beginning at fertilization and will not only end abortion but many believe could make most forms of birth control illegal.
...

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/news/a31728/amanda-curtis-montana-senate/

Of course, I'm not only crossing my fingers. I've contributed to her campaign, written to Montana family/friends to urge their support and will participate in telephone calls. The only thing that I can't do is vote in MT because my voting residence is in another state.

Senate Dems outperforming expectations ...

per Sam Wang, whose track record is even better than Nate Silver's.

http://election.princeton.edu/2014/08/28/senate-democrats-are-outperforming-expectations/

I’ve been asked why the PEC Senate poll snapshot is more favorable to Democrats than forecasts you’ll find elsewhere: NYT’s The Upshot, Washington Post’s The Monkey Cage, ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight, and Daily Kos. All of these organizations show a higher probability of a Republican takeover than today’s PEC snapshot, which favors the Democrats with a 70% probability.

Today I will show that in most cases, added assumptions (i.e. special sauce) have led the media organizations to different win probabilities – which I currently believe are wrong. I’ll then outline the subtle but important implications for a November prediction.


Keeping my fingers crossed ...

"Someone like us" for the Senate ...

Loved this letter posted in the Ravalli Republic (MT) about Amanda Curtis ...

Are you as excited about Amanda Curtis as I am?

It is usually the case that candidates for Senate from the two major parties have been groomed for years by the political establishment and are indebted to powerful, behind-the-scenes players. Or, they are so wealthy as to make their agendas and their loyalties contrary to the needs of ordinary Montanans.

But in Amanda Curtis, we have someone like us. We have a person who draws a normal paycheck, who has taught math to our kids at Helena Middle School and who now teaches at Butte High School. We have someone committed to transparency: she posted YouTube videos each day during her inaugural year of service in the state legislature, in 2013.

...


More at http://ravallirepublic.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_f5fe34ad-db00-5b23-860d-63414f2c4225.html

Here's Amanda's FB page: https://www.facebook.com/SupportAmandaCurtis?fref=nf

I really believe that she has a chance and am SOOOO delighted!

Still a long shot, but great fundraising prowess so far!

We have a fighting chance at keeping the MT Senate seat blue.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester is famous for his flat-top and middle of the road politics. Amanda Curtis, Tester's fellow Democrat and would-be colleague from Montana, is known for her nose ring and her unabashedly liberal affiliations.
Although many insiders dismiss her campaign as a long shot, Amanda Curtis is raising money at a prodigious rate and battling assertions that she is too radical for conservative-leaning Montana.
But on many issues, the candidate admits she needs to study up. But time is running out with Election Day a little more than two months away.
Curtis, a Butte math teacher serving her first-term in the Montana state house, has already raised $180,000 in 10 days, according to her campaign, and sees "people coming out of the woodwork" to support her.


http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/26/politics/curtis-montana-senate/

Way to go, Amanda!

MT US Senate race could become more competitive than some think.

HELENA – Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Amanda Curtis has named her campaign manager and also picked up a key endorsement Thursday from a national left-leaning political action committee.

Democracy for America, the Vermont-based PAC founded by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, endorsed Curtis in her five-day-old campaign against Republican Steve Daines for Montana’s U.S. Senate seat. Libertarian Roger Roots also is in the race.

Curtis “is precisely the new, progressive hero Montana Democrats need” to defeat Daines, said Jim Dean, chairman of Democracy for America.


http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/u-s-senate-candidate-curtis-names-campaign-manager-gets-endorsement/article_d033b07c-298d-11e4-bdcc-001a4bcf887a.html

Montana DFA members are delighted with this endorsement. My family and friends in-state are also delighted and will be working on her campaign.

I have already contributed to DFA's campaign for Curtis. For the link, see https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/dfacurtis/?refcode=CAC082114JD.5157

It will be an uphill battle, but Curtis is certainly up for it and, with help, I truly believe that she can do it. National Dems should not let this seat go to yet another RW GOPer.

Joint Declaration by International Law Experts on Israel's Gaza Offensive

This was posted on 28 July. It is self-explanatory.

As international and criminal law scholars, human rights defenders, legal experts and individuals who firmly believe in the rule of law and in the necessity for its respect in times of peace and more so in times of war, we feel the intellectual and moral duty to denounce the grave violations, mystification and disrespect of the most basic principles of the laws of armed conflict and of the fundamental human rights of the entire Palestinian population committed during the ongoing Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip. We also condemn the launch of rockets from the Gaza Strip, as every indiscriminate attack against civilians, regardless of the identity of the perpetrators, is not only illegal under international law but also morally intolerable. However, as also implicitly noted by the UN Human Rights Council in its Resolution of the 23rd July 2014, the two parties to the conflict cannot be considered equal, and their actions – once again – appear to be of incomparable magnitude.

Once again it is the unarmed civilian population, the ‘protected persons’ under International humanitarian law (IHL), who is in the eye of the storm. Gaza’s civilian population has been victimized in the name of a falsely construed right to self-defence, in the midst of an escalation of violence provoked in the face of the entire international community. The so-called Operation Protective Edge erupted during an ongoing armed conflict, in the context of a prolonged belligerent occupation that commenced in 1967. In the course of this ongoing conflict thousands of Palestinians have been killed and injured in the Gaza Strip during recurrent and ostensible ‘ceasefire’ periods since 2005, after Israel’s unilateral ‘disengagement’ from the Gaza Strip. The deaths caused by Israel’s provocative actions in the Gaza Strip prior to the latest escalation of hostilities must not be ignored as well.

...
In its Advisory Opinion in the Nuclear Weapons case, the ICJ stated that the principle of distinction, which requires belligerent States to distinguish between civilian and combatants, is one of the “cardinal principles” of international humanitarian law and one of the “intransgressible principles of international customary law”.

The principle of distinction is codified in Articles 48, 51(2) and 52(2) of the Additional Protocol I of 1977 to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, to which no reservations have been made. According to Additional Protocol I, “attacks” refer to “acts of violence against the adversary, whether in offence or in defence” (Article 49). Under both customary international law and treaty law, the prohibition on directing attacks against the civilian population or civilian objects is absolute. There is no discretion available to invoke military necessity as a justification.


More at the link: http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/joint-declaration-by-international-law-experts-on-israels-gaza-offensive/

I am literally heartsick, not only that this mass slaughter is happening, but that it is happening with my country's assistance and apparently its approval. I stand with these lawyers.
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