A Congressional “moment of silence” for Orlando won’t do anything to end gun violence

On Sunday evening, shortly after I learned of yet another massacre of innocent Americans by a madman with a gun, I attended the Connecticut premiere of “Newtown,” a documentary chronicling the emotional aftermath for several parents whose children were obliterated by Adam Lanza and his AR-15 at Sandy Hook Elementary School…

Then I thought about how Congress would respond to the latest atrocity. There would be, for the umpteenth time, a moment of silence. To “honor” the victims. We did it five times just last year: Stop talking about sports and dinner and Donald Trump for about 10 seconds, put on our most serious faces, wonder if we’d turned off our phones. For 10 seconds.

Done. Over. On to the next thing.

Not me. Not anymore.

If the House of Representatives had a solitary moral fiber, even a wisp of human empathy, we would spend moments not in silence, but screaming at painful volume the names of the 49 whose bodies were ripped apart in Orlando, and the previous victims and the ones before them. We’d invite parents and partners and siblings up from Orlando, and ask them to speak, openly, rawly, honestly about their pain. We’d listen. And maybe, just maybe, we’d hear…

Instead of staying in the House chamber Tuesday night, I walked out of the moment of silence, joined by some of my colleagues. Other Democrats who remained in the chamber tried to get Speaker Paul D. Ryan to act on gun control legislation. To no avail.

Congress exists to reflect the will of the people. The vast majority of Americans support measures such as universal background checks, keeping people on the no-fly list from purchasing weapons and limits on how ferocious a weapon a civilian can own. But Congress offers only silence.

RTFA. Please. Nice to see Democrats paying more attention to the needs of real people. Growing a backbone and facing up to the stone-hearted pimps who represent their electorate in the name of the Republican Party.

Time to start trying for change, again.

Avocado rustling in New Zealand

Surging local and international demand for avocados is fuelling a crime wave in New Zealand.

Since January there have been close to 40 large-scale thefts from avocado orchards in the north island of New Zealand, with as many as 350 fruit stolen at a time…It is suspected many more thefts have gone unreported.

Avocados are selling for between NZ$4-6 each [US$2.80-4.20] across the country, after a poor season last year and increasing local demand.

According to New Zealand Avocado in 2015 an additional 96,000 New Zealand households began purchasing avocados, and local growers – largely geared towards the lucrative export market – have been unable to keep up with the surge in demand.

…Sergeant Aaron Fraser of Waihi said there had been “spates” of avocado thefts during his time in the police but nothing as sustained as the current activity.

“These stolen avocados can carry risks,” he said…“They are unripe, some have been sprayed recently and they may still carry toxins on the skin. But with the prices so high at the moment, the potential for profit is a strong inducement for certain individuals.”

One of those commodity tales that prompts me to think of renting a not-too-big agri-freighter and bringing over a load from Mexico. We’re currently buying avocados at retail for about 50¢ apiece North of the Mexican border.

Thanks, Mister Justin

Net neutrality gets a big win in federal court


Just the beginning, folks

An appeals court upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules…requiring internet providers to treat all web traffic equally.

The three-judge panel’s 2-1 decision is another victory for consumer advocates, the regulator and the Obama administration who have campaigned for years to protect an open internet.

While it is a major setback for the cable companies and other internet service providers that lined up to oppose the rule-making, it is unlikely to be the last time the rules are challenged; both sides expect the case to eventually land before the supreme court.

What? Did anyone expect these greedy bastards to accept any ruling that limits the number of zeros they already lie about on their tax returns.

The rules, which change the FCC’s classification of internet service providers by treating them like a public utility, attempt to prevent companies that provide internet connections from privileging traffic from one source over another.

An army of internet activists fought for the net neutrality rules passed by the FCC in 2015…

The FCC recorded over 4 million comments from ordinary human beings. Consumers. Folks who pay the bill.

The FCC argued that the rules are crucial for allowing customers to go anywhere on the internet without a provider favoring its own service over that of other competitors.

The FCC’s move to reclassify broadband came after Barack Obama publicly urged the commission to protect consumers by regulating internet service as it does other public utilities.

For all the claptrap from politicians and corporate pimps about capitalist competition a great many Americans have little or no choice when it comes to accessing the Web. I have two. I get a decent speed from my cable provider – for way too much money. One friend in San Francisco gets four times my download speed for less than my monthly charge.

Like most rural Americans [and Canadians] there are friends of this blog still dealing with not much more than dial-up speeds even though copper is capable of a lot more.

The United States isn’t in the Top Ten for average internet speeds.