Trump storm troopers ready for their wannabe Nazi role


Mason Trinca/AFP

A new word, doomscrolling, describes the way we compulsively tickle our phones into providing a non-stop stream of dire health and disease statistics, grim economic predictions, images of food lines and exploding emergency rooms.

With so much doom to scroll through, it’s hard to know when to stop and pay attention, but one story that jumped out at me – and, I hope, at many others – is the account of how demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, protesting racism and police brutality earlier in July, were tear-gassed, beaten, seized off the street by unidentified, masked federal agents in camouflage and fatigues, hustled into unmarked vans and detained for hours. The agents were reported to work with the US Marshals Special Operations Group and Bortac, the Border Patrol Tactical Unit.

Government-funded thugs, assaulting citizens, still conjure up repellent images of Hitler’s Brownshirts stomping their fellow Germans, and the street kidnapping of civilians has been the hallmark of authoritarian dictatorships…

The essential political division in this benighted nation is not between those surprised – or not surprised – by Trump’s deliberate march into fascism. The parade ground of history, once again, divides between an opposition supporting constitutional democracy and supporters of the wannabe absolute ruler at any cost…even if fascist rule is the result. It will satisfy their racism, ignorance, simpleton admiration for military rule.

This Black man was on the phone in a hotel lobby — so, staff called the police!

❝ A guest at a Portland hotel is alleging he was harassed by staff when he was asked to leave the property after taking a phone call in the hotel lobby late Saturday night.

Washington state resident Jermaine Massey was in the lobby of the Portland DoubleTree when a security guard informed him that police were on their way to escort him off the property.

❝ In a series of Instagram videos of the incident recorded by Massey and obtained by CNN, he is heard asking the guard, “But why? But I’m staying here.” “Not anymore,” the security guard replies…

❝ DoubleTree General Manager Paul Peralta issued a statement about the incident Wednesday, calling it, “unfortunate”…Massey accused the guard of “harassing” him, and in a statement provided to CNN by his attorneys, characterized the incident as “calling his mother while black.”

Every now and then I say to myself, “Self! I don’t believe there is any new and original way Americans might illustrate the racism so deeply rooted in this society? And, then, I am proven wrong.”

Zombies are about to take over Portland

Hey, all you fantastic Pacific Northwesterners! What are you doing this labor day weekend? Because the Portland Film Festival is celebrating its fourth year running with movie premieres, Q&As, guest speakers and… zombies? Yup, you read that correctly: September 7th is Zombie Day in Portland.

George C. Romero, son of the Night of the Living Dead director, is enlisting local zombie fans to be extras in his short film Zombie Day Apocalypse. Why? He’s vying for the Guinness World Record “Most Extras in a Short Film.” And it’s up to you to help him, in full zombie garb! What better time to round up zombie movie lovers than at an independent film festival?

Per the Zombie Day website, you can sign up to play the role of Fleeing Citizen or DIY Zombie. For a small price, you can bump either of those titles up to Featured Extra. You can also donate to become a Featured Crew Member, Supporter, Associate Producer and Producer.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

“Serving the public” still means ALL the public


Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, with their two childrenFrancisco Xavier Vargas

The owners of a Portland-area bakery that denied service to a same-sex couple must pay $135,000 in damages, the bureau of labor and industries has ruled.

The damages are for emotional suffering caused by Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which two years ago refused to bake a wedding cake for Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer.

A 2007 Oregon law protects the rights of LGBT people in employment, housing and public accommodations. It provides an exemption for religious organisations, but the agency ruled that exemption does not allow private businesses to discriminate against potential customers.

“This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage. It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal,” Oregon labor commissioner Brad Avakian said in the final order.

In April, an administrative law judge proposed the same damages.

The bakers said their refusal to bake for the couple was prompted by religious beliefs, blah, blah, blah

Jeana Frazzini, co-director of the gay-rights group Basic Rights Oregon, praised the order.

“This case struck a chord with many Oregonians because allowing businesses to deny goods and services to people because of who they are and whom they love is hurtful and wrong,” she said in a statement.

Part of this nation’s fight for freedom was to get out from under a state religion. Sadly, there are beaucoup fundamentalist Christians who think they hold the only keys to the door of this democratic republic – and that they can deny full citizenship on the basis of their ideology.

If we had a bit more courage on the Democrat side of Congress, a bit more honesty on the Republican side, we’d have sorted out all this crap decades ago. Not that that would prevent jive theocrats from trying to turn this country from the path of secular civil law – serving all the people.

Weed the People

WeedThePeople

“A line this long that never ends and everybody is happy,” marveled Jim Leighton, a 30-year Oregon resident. “Isn’t that great?” He and some 1,300 others stood in a queue that snaked around the block in the sweltering Portland heat Friday afternoon, waiting for entry to an event where they could get up to seven grams of marijuana for nothing more than a smile and a handshake.

Oregon is the fourth state in the United States, in addition to the District of Columbia, to legalize marijuana for recreational use for adults 21 years and older. But even after parts of the law went into effect Wednesday that legalized possession and growing of small amounts, marijuana still cannot be sold to the general public.

So growers and medical dispensaries at Weed the People found their way around the law by giving away their weed for free, some hoping to use it as a marketing tool later…

On midnight Wednesday as the law went into effect, hundreds gathered on Burnside bridge in downtown Portland in celebration. The bridge was billowing with smoke as the clock struck midnight. But while the original plan was to hand out free samples of marijuana, the overwhelming turnout halted the giveaway.

Two days later, the free handouts proceeded as planned at Weed the People, thought to be the first formal event with free cannabis giveaways – after attendees paid a $40 admission fee to attend.

The alcohol-free event lasted for seven hours, as attendees mulled around to test out smoking devices; relaxed on comfy chairs and listened to records in a “chill out area”; and waited in a line that wound through the inside of a warehouse to enter the “Grow Garden”, the highly secured and roped off area where they could pick up their free goodies. One growing entity, Green Bodhi Gardens, said it brought more than 2,000 grams divided into one-gram jars in anticipation of the crowds…

Restrictions notwithstanding, “people want to celebrate,” said event organizer Josh Taylor. “Oregonians are big on sharing!”

The easiest thing to share still is Good News. As more and more folks are exposed to the reality of attitude-alteration with substances like cannabis versus craptastic amounts of alcohol, mellow stoners versus combative drunks, progress towards an understanding of reality outside the boundaries of conventional politics continues to grow – and grow.

Our culture, our government, our politicians may be characterized by ignorance, stupidity, superstition and bigotry. The fact remains that exposure to reality changes folks’ minds. It’s always too gradual for many; but, it’s inevitable. Even faster if you get on board the freedom train. 🙂

Portland to generate electricity as part of its water system


LucidPipe installation — a turbine visible inside the pipe

There’s a lot of water constantly moving through the municipal pipelines of most major cities. While the water itself is already destined for various uses, why not harness its flow to produce hydroelectric power? Well, that’s exactly what Lucid Energy’s LucidPipe Power System does, and Portland, Oregon has just become the latest city to adopt it.

LucidPipe simply replaces a stretch of existing gravity-fed conventional pipeline, that’s used for transporting potable water. As the water flows through, it spins four 42-inch (107-cm) turbines, each one of which is hooked up to a generator on the outside of the pipe. The presence of the turbines reportedly doesn’t slow the water’s flow rate significantly, so there’s virtually no impact on pipeline efficiency.

The 200-kW Portland system was privately financed by Harbourton Alternative Energy, and its installation was completed late last December. It’s now undergoing reliability and efficiency testing, which includes checking that its sensors and smart control system are working properly. It’s scheduled to begin full capacity power generation by March.

Once up and running, it’s expected to generate an average of 1,100 megawatt hours of energy per year, which is enough to power approximately 150 homes. Over the next 20 years, it should also generate about US$2 million in energy sales to Portland General Electric, which Harbourton plans on sharing with the City of Portland and the Portland Water Bureau in order to offset operational costs. At the end of that period, the Portland Water Bureau will have the right to purchase the system outright, along with all the energy it produces.

Something cities like Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico, should consider. The rush of population growth and concurrent water system expansion took place right after World War 2. The mediocre piping installed now fails on a regular basis. Cripes, in Abq it’s weekly, even daily.

Of course, rebuilding infrastructure – especially with an eye on future requirements and additions – ain’t exactly part of being an American politician, nowadays.

Brittany Maynard has scheduled her death for November 1st — UPDATED

Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old with terminal brain cancer, tells her story and explains why she plans to ingest a prescription that will end her life on Nov. 1 in this video from advocacy group Compassion & Choices…

Brittany Maynard carries a prescription in her wallet. It was written by a doctor in Oregon, one of five states with legal protections for terminally ill patients who want to end their suffering. And in three weeks, she plans to use it to die.

Maynard has chosen to die Nov. 1 in her bedroom in Portland, Ore., surrounded by family — her mother and stepfather, her husband and her best friend, who is a physician. She said she wanted to wait until after her husband’s birthday, which is Oct. 26. But she is getting sicker, experiencing more pain and seizures…

“I’ve had the medication for weeks,” she wrote in an op-ed for CNN. “I am not suicidal. If I were, I would have consumed that medication long ago. I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms.”

Watch the video, please. Read the interview with Brittany. Reflect on her right to choose her death with dignity.

I understand religious folk who reject this choice. They accept a concept of morality which doesn’t allow for individual choice. On lots of issues. The real hypocrites who would stop Brittany Maynard from this difficult farewell are the so-called libertarians who blather all year-round about liberty and personal freedom – and then reject her right to make this choice.

Step back and consider how many little pieces of freedom we willingly give up for the common good – from voting for elected officials to traffic lights at urban intersections. All understandable even though ranging from irksome to frustration – depending on how much individual corruption worms its way into the equation.

OTOH, there are beaucoup examples of personal decisions that trump interference. Not screwing with someone else’s safety and health? Then it is your right. The rest can keep their morality to themselves.

UPDATE: Brittany Maynard stuck by her decision.

The terminally ill woman who revived a national debate about physician-assisted suicide ended her life Saturday by swallowing lethal drugs made available under Oregon’s Death With Dignity Law. She would have been 30 on Nov. 19.

Thanks, Ursarodinia