After 128 years…

…Mississippi’s new magnolia flag starting to fly after vote to replace Confederate-style flag.

A new Mississippi flag without Confederate images was flying in parts of the state on Wednesday, one day after a majority voters approved the design that has a magnolia encircled by stars and the phrase “In God We Trust.”…

“Mississippi voters sent a message to the world that we are moving forward together,” former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson said in a statement.

Anderson led a nine-member commission that recommended the new flag design. Uncertified election results — which at midday Wednesday did not yet include numbers from Pearl River County — showed the new flag received more than 70% support. It got a majority in all reporting counties except George and Greene.”I have a renewed sense of hope for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and I know this new symbol creates better prospects for the entire state of Mississippi,” Anderson said.

Now’s the time to get more serious about removing all the Jim Crow practices that slide by underneath cosmetic advances. That’s not meant to diminish this achievement. Plenty of racist crud would rather have died than to see the “stars and bars” removed from their flag.

V-J Day remembered


Soldiers and sailors celebrate in Newark, NJ

After the surrender of Japan on 14 August 1945, two days of national holiday were announced for celebrations in the UK, the US and Australia.

Millions of people from the Allied countries took part in parades and street parties.

Germany had surrendered on 7 May 1945, followed by Victory in Europe (VE) Day on 8 May, but World War Two still continued in the Asia-Pacific region…

An estimated 71,000 soldiers from Britain and the Commonwealth were killed in the war against Japan, including more than 12,000 prisoners of war who died in Japanese captivity.

It wasn’t until the US had dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on 6 and 9 August, that Japan surrendered and ended the war.

The recorded death tolls of the atomic bombings are estimates, but it is thought that about 140,000 of Hiroshima’s 350,000 population were killed in the blast, and at least 74,000 people died in Nagasaki.

It was sunny and warm in our Bridgeport neighborhood. VJ-day felt just like VE-day to kids – except that now the war was completely ended. We stopped playing war games that day – though our politicians never have.

NO citizenship question on the 2020 census


Wilbur Ross gets to be the front man for this lieElizabeth Brockway

❝ The Trump administration, in a dramatic about-face, abandoned its quest on Tuesday to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, a week after being blocked by the Supreme Court…Faced with mounting deadlines and a protracted legal fight, officials ordered the Census Bureau to start printing forms for next year’s head count without the question.

The decision was a victory for critics who said the question was part of an administration effort to skew the census results in favor of Republicans. It was also a remarkable retreat for an administration that typically digs into such fights.

RTFA for all the nice guy analysis and chronology. Two things you should know:

1. There is no need for any NEW inquiry from the census bureau about citizenship. That question is covered in a number of questionnaires and bureau research. As a matter of course, they’ve been asking that question for decades. For the reasons decided in court after court – it simply has no part in the decadal census.

2. Chief Justice John Roberts in all the politesse required of public servants made it clear that Trump and his lackeys can tell all the lies they wish to the American public, including voters, as a Constitutional right. They do not have the right to lie to a Federal Court. And they were caught lying about their reasons for including this question. Scumbags do not get a do-over on their testimony.

UPDATE: The Liar-in-Chief is now contradicting his flunkies in the cabinet. He’s tweeting out silly-storms demonstrating once again his inability to stick to a decision. What a neurotic dork he is!

A Giant Step Forward in the Flint, Michigan, Water Crisis

From Rhea Suh, President NRDC


Unless you’re a Republican, nowadays

❝ For once, I am excited to report that there is good news on the Flint water crisis front. The pipes at the heart of the disaster are going to be replaced. For the first time in the three years since this Michigan city’s water was turned to poison, Flint’s citizens have a guarantee that the resources are in place to replace its estimated 18,000 lead pipes. And for the first time, they know when the pipes will be gone.

Let’s be clear, Flint is not fixed. But things are going to get better.

❝ This did not happen because of the city, state, or federal governments that failed them. It happened because brave people in Flint stood up for their neighbors. They went to court. One of the genius parts of American environmental protections are the citizen suit provisions in our major environmental laws. When the government fails to protect its citizens, we are all empowered to go to court and force the government to do its job.

❝ That happened in Flint. After the city and state trashed the drinking water infrastructure through a series of mistakes and errors, we joined with the Concerned Pastors for Social Action and Flint resident Melissa Mays to petition the federal government to use its emergency powers to help the beleaguered city. They refused. So, along with ACLU Michigan, we sued the city and state. The Safe Drinking Water Act also has provisions for citizens to enforce drinking water rules. Though there have only been a handful of these kinds of cases filed under the act, we all thought Flint seemed like a textbook situation for this type of case…

And today, that suit comes to the end with a settlement that guarantees that in three years, the lead pipes will be replaced. It guarantees that the state kicks in $67 million to help fix the mistakes, along with tens of millions more from federal sources…

❝ …But for today, let’s just celebrate good news for Flint. A city that deserves far more of it in the years to come.

I’ll second that emotion. RTFA for more details, past and present. Rhea Suh is too politely politic to trash-talk the conservatives, mostly in the Republican Party – and some Democrats deserve their share of condemnation for foot-dragging.

Too many folks hold elective office who consider budgets and balance sheets more important than the lives of the human beings they represent.

New Yorkers get a nuclear New Year’s present

❝ Entergy Corp. has reached an agreement with New York officials to close the Indian Point nuclear power plant in 2021, bringing an end to a long-running dispute over the future of the reactors located just 25 miles north of New York City.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had pushed for years to close Indian Point because of what he says are radioactive risks it poses to the city. The company agreed to the shutdown as the plant struggled to compete with lower-cost energy sources, including natural gas and renewable energy. The closure completes Entergy’s exit from its merchant power business…

❝ Five nuclear plants have shut in the U.S. in the past five years with about 20 gigawatts of capacity expected to retire by 2040, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Cuomo has supported measures that would keep reactors in upstate New York operating despite lower power prices. Workers will get access to retraining, according to the statement…

Entergy will take a non-cash impairment charge of $1.5 billion after tax in the fourth quarter of 2016. In addition, the company said it will record additional charges of about $180 million related to severance and other employee expenses through 2021…

❝ Meanwhile, environmental groups praised the landmark deal led by Riverkeeper, which has filed legal challenges to Indian Point and was part of the negotiations with the state and Entergy.

Ordinary folks keeping to their principles, willing to commit to the long fight against one of the most entrenched segments of American capitalism – get themselves a victory.

You know, living in a society generally governed by ideologues maintained in office by an ignorant electorate, it’s easy to let cynicism overwhelm the optimism derived from science, a liberal knowledge base and confidence in history’s advances. Best to get the word out and about when a long hard struggle heads into a win.

Victory for the Standing Rock Tribe

❝ …“Today, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribal chairman Dave Archambault II said…“Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes.

“We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing.”

“It took tremendous courage to take a new approach to our nation-to-nation relationship, and we will be forever grateful,” he said…

❝ Since August, thousands of demonstrators have camped at the Standing Rock site to stand with Native Americans in opposing the 1,172-mile long pipeline, which is designed to carry 20 million gallons of oil across the Midwest every day.

Tribe members and environmentalists feared damage to local water supplies and the desecration of sacred land…

The tribe successfully mobilized national support, with demonstrators marching in Washington DC and elsewhere to pressure the government to abandon the construction.

❝ Sunday’s decision represents a huge win for the local tribe and their supporters, as well as a dramatic shift in the reaction of authorities, who had previously ordered all demonstrators to leave the campsite by Monday…

❝ Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders also welcomed the announcement:

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-5-31-36-pm

❝ “I’m just thankful that there were some leaders in the federal government who have realized that something is not right even though it’s legal,” Archambault told MSNBC.

“I would say that it’s over,” he said.

I’m glad this was resolved before we move into populist foolishness. It should be difficult for Emperor Trump to overturn a decision like this one. Though, like any other fossil fuel flunky, no doubt he will try his best.

Microsoft wins milestone appeal over US wanting to snoop offshore email

A federal appeals court…said the U.S. government cannot force Microsoft Corp and other companies to turn over customer emails stored on servers outside the United States.

The 3-0 decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan is a defeat for the U.S. Department of Justice and a victory for privacy advocates and for technology companies offering cloud computing and other services around the world.

Circuit Judge Susan Carney said communications held by U.S. service providers on servers outside the United States are beyond the reach of domestic search warrants issued under the Stored Communications Act, a 1986 federal law.

“Congress did not intend the SCA’s warrant provisions to apply extraterritorially,” she wrote. “The focus of those provisions is protection of a user’s privacy interests.”

The case has attracted strong interest from the technology and media sectors, amid concern that giving prosecutors expansive power to collect data outside the country could make it harder for U.S. companies to compete there.

Dozens of companies, organizations and individuals filed briefs supporting Microsoft’s appeal, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Amazon.com, Apple, Cisco Systems, CNN, Fox News Network, Gannett and Verizon…

Judge Carney said limiting the reach of warrants serves “the interest of comity” that normally governs cross-border criminal investigations.

She said that comity is also reflected in treaties between the United States and all European Union countries, including Ireland, to assist each other in such probes.

It’s like the stupidity that passes for legal reason over most “religious freedoms”. You decide what you want for an outcome and then search till you can find articles or junk research to suit your convictions. Regardless of logic or science. This is what political lawyers do in so many cases involving privacy and free speech.

Constitutional protections be damned. If they can find some out-of-date regulation that can be torturously interpreted to validate the result they want – Bingo, make it so!