The massive corrupting influence of money in US politics

One of the things that this year’s election has laid bare is the dominance of the oligarchy in the process. This has always been the case but before they were acting discreetly, behind the scenes. But now it is out in the open. There are two people responsible for peeling back the veil. One is Donald Trump. By boasting about his wealth and making it one of his main appeals (though there is considerable doubt as to whether he is as wealthy as he claims), he has made other billionaires think that they too can enter electoral contests by flaunting their wealth. I have seen ads for Tom Steyer where he talks about being a real billionaire “with a b” and not a fake billionaire like Trump and how that will enable him to take him on more effectively, as if what we need is some kind of cage fight between two wealthy people.
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To be filed under ‘Hateful misogynistic stupidity’

I pass on to readers this story of how religion can drive people to make the most absurd rules restricting women.

India’s uncomfortable relationship with periods is back in the headlines.

College students living in a hostel in the western Indian state of Gujarat have complained that they were made to strip and show their underwear to female teachers to prove that they were not menstruating.

The 68 young women were pulled out of classrooms and taken to the toilet, where they were asked to individually remove their knickers for inspection.

The incident took place in the city of Bhuj on Tuesday. The young women are undergraduate students at Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute (SSGI), which is run by Swaminarayan sect, a wealthy and conservative Hindu religious group.

They said a hostel official had complained to the college principal on Monday that some of the students were breaking rules menstruating women are supposed to follow.

The idea that menstruating women are ‘impure’ or ‘unclean’ is a widespread and long-standing belief among particular religious groups, leading to the creation of rules limiting their interactions with ‘pure’ and ‘clean’ people. As the article goes on to describe, this school seems to have gone to great lengths to identify menstruating women and create onerous rules for them to follow, along with sanctions for ‘violators’.

The Nevada caucuses

This coming Saturday, the voters of Nevada will vote for their choice of Democratic presidential nominee. This is going to be another caucus though one hopes that the Iowa debacle will not be repeated. The Nevada Democratic party decided to ditch the infamous app that caused such confusion in Iowa and one hopes that they have put in place measures to guarantee a fair vote. It is really quite extraordinary that the US has elections so frequently but has not been able to create a smooth and streamlined process and instead seems to do things at the last minute and on the fly.
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From the department of “Give them an inch …”

Some people just keep pushing the limits of what are allowed to do and then complain when they are finally told to stop.

A Florida man undergoing kidney dialysis three times a week is upset that he can’t bring a life-sized cardboard cutout of President Donald Trump for emotional support.

Nelson Gibson told WPBF that his family can’t sit with him during his three-and-a-half-hour treatments. To help, he began bringing a picture of Trump as a comfort item.

“It just feels like bringing something from home to make you comfortable,” Gibson told the West Palm Beach area television station.

Gibson said no one complained about the photo. Next, he started bringing a small cardboard cutout of himself standing next to a Trump photo. No one complained about the small cutout, and Gibson told the station that some people even took photos with it.

On Saturday, Gibson took a life-sized cutout of Trump to his treatment at Fresenius Kidney Care in Port St. Lucie. He said that again, no one took issue with this new emotional support item.

But when he returned Tuesday for treatment with the presidential cutout, Gibson ran into a roadblock.

“They told me it was too much and it wasn’t a rally,” he told the TV station.

One has to wonder about a person finds that a cardboard cutout of a politician gives him ’emotional support’ during trying times but, hey, whatever floats your boat, as the saying goes. Maybe he also sleeps with a photo of Trump under his pillow and has another one on his bedside table to soothe himself to sleep.

The real question is why he kept steadily increasing the size of the cutout. Presumably he had thought that the two smaller sizes of Trump served his need for a comfort item during the dialysis sessions. To keep making the item larger, so large that no one else in the facility could miss it, seems to indicate that he was trying to make a political statement and was hoping to goad the people at the clinic to object so that he could claim that he was being victimized for being a Trump supporter.

Trump loves playing the victim and it looks like his fans are following suit.

The anti-Sanders media narrative takes shape

Now that Bernie Sanders got the most votes in both the Iowa and New Hampshire contests, the media has gone into overdrive to try and find ways to explain why those results don’t mean that he is the current leader in the race. The main one is that he only got about 30% of the vote (true) and thus 70% of the people must have voted against him (false), showing that the majority dislike him. The latter is a false inference that implies that all the people who voted for the other candidates would unify behind any single alternative.

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Gloria Steinem and the CIA

I know that many of the readers of this blog also follow Marcus Ranum’s blog stderr but for the few who don’t, I would strongly urge you to read today’s post. It is truly disturbing about the relationship that feminist icon and founder of Ms. Magazine Gloria Steinem had with the CIA and a program called MOCKINGBIRD which was, like COINTELPRO, one of the many covert projects of the US government to infiltrate, subvert, disrupt, and destroy progressive movements using a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy by fomenting schisms and conflicts along sectarian lines and thus prevent broader unity emerging among the many disenfranchised and disadvantaged groups.
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A strange and sad story

I am not sure what to make of this story about a doctor who took his own life possibly because of regrets that he had provided parents with fraudulent documents that their their children were vaccinated when they were not. These were parents who wanted their children to be vaccinated but he had decided in the last decade of his life that vaccinations were harmful and unilaterally pretended to vaccinate them.
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What it is like to experience an earthquake

I have been lucky to never experience a serious earthquake, the closest being slight tremors that I would likely not have even noticed if I had been outdoors or asleep. The video below was taken at an airport during the 2011 earthquake in Japan. It is quite terrifying. The tremors last for about two minutes.

What amazes me is that the person taking the video was so committed to doing so that they did not seek to run outside to avoid being injured if the balcony they were on collapsed, or to hide under something to prevent being hit by falling debris.

Boris Johnson is a true Donald Trump acolyte

Just four weeks after his party convincingly won the UK general election, prime minister Boris Johnson has sacked nine cabinet members including Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid (their equivalent of the U S treasury secretary) and replaced them with people whom Johnson thinks will be more loyal to him. Javid’s replacement Rishi Sunak only entered parliament in 2015 and was until recently a hedge fund manager. Javid himself had an 18-year career in banking ending as managing director of Deutsche Bank. Johnson’s dedication to serving the interests of the financial sector is clearly in view.
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