Saturday, March 24, 2018

Seeing the Light

Turns out it was a muzzle flash:

"From the Mass. ‘gun belt,’ young protesters bring a message of gun control to Boston" by Nestor Ramos Globe Staff  March 23, 2018

WILBRAHAM — If there was any doubt that the movement behind Saturday’s March For Our Lives would be real and lasting, spend a little time in Massachusetts’ “gun belt.”

Because even in a swath of conservative communities in surrounding Springfield, the march is on.

In Wilbraham, where voters chose Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016, Jamison Rohan, a 16-year-old sophomore at Minnechaug Regional High School, is helping to lead the way.

Before the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., “I’d been so desensitized to all this,” said Rohan. And who can’t relate to that? Between the drumbeat of shootings on the local news, punctuated by the occasional cacophony of another massacre, it’s not just difficult to stay outraged — it’s unhealthy.

I must admit I have become disinterested in the endless mass casualty events, be they staged and scripted crisis drills being reported as live or some false flag Gladio-style psyop. It's getting to the point where you have seen one, you've seen 'em all.

But after Parkland, Rohan realized something inside her had changed.

“I generally feel safe,” Rohan said. “But I have started thinking about what I would do if a school shooter came in the building. These thoughts shouldn’t be going through my mind.”

So she organized a rally in town a week after shooting, and worked with a friend to plan a ceremony at Minnechaug on the day of the national school walkout.

“I’m also a bit of a goody-two-shoes and constantly thinking about college,” she said, so she worked with the principal to plan the walkout.

Then, in the weeks before Saturday’s march, she raised nearly $1,000 through an online fund-raiser to charter a bus to Boston.

“Something had to be done in our own community,” Rohan said.

In liberal Massachusetts, a state with some of America’s toughest gun laws and the lowest gun death rate in the country, standing up for gun reform can feel a little like tilting at windmills that have already been bulldozed.

Why is he bringing the Israelis into this?

It’s not pointless — not at all. It’s just that around here, the overwhelming majority of us already get the point.

The condescending elitism is tiring.

But far beyond Beacon Hill, in places like Wilbraham, conversations about gun control aren’t quite so one-sided.

Thanks to some amalgam of low rates of gun ownership and suicide, relatively low crime and, yes, strong gun laws, Massachusetts has the lowest rate of gun deaths in the country. Searching for news of the last shooting in Wilbraham, the closest I could find was a 2015 incident in which a man allegedly shot his ex-wife’s unoccupied parked car. Not good, obviously. But also not something that would seem to have wide community-shaking implications (the man was quickly arrested).

But show support for the state’s assault weapons ban, or call for universal background checks, and you risk finding yourself at odds with classmates, friends, or even parents.

“It takes that much more resolve for a young person to put themselves out there politically and physically,” said Karen Grycel, a member of the Wilbraham Democratic Committee.

Why? I spoke up often as a young man, and couldn't understand when someone didn't see it my way. Now I don't bother offering an opinion.

Grycel got to know Rohan when Rohan visited the Democratic committee as part of her high school’s model congress program.

“She reminds me of that adage, ‘be the change you want to see in the world,’ ” Grycel said. “I think she’s doing that.”

They just co-opted Gandhi.

Hannah Ross, a 16-year-old sophomore at Minnechaug who worked with Rohan to plan the walkout event, said she has drawn inspiration from the Parkland survivors — teens about her age who were thrust onto the national stage and, remarkably, outshined the spotlight.

Just don't walk out of work, 'kay?

“I think that a lot of older people around where I live have these conservative thoughts, but high school is a time when you start to formulate your own political beliefs,” Ross said. “Going against what your parents, or your family or your friends believe, that’s definitely hard. But sometimes you have to do what you think is right.”

Yeah, it's when the collective leftists that dominate ejewkhazion can really do a number on your mind.

She’s planning to make the journey into Boston for the March on Saturday, too, and looking forward to being one in a sea of people, all pushing in the same direction.

It was like that in Germany once, from what I'm told.

(Btw, did you noticed that the most mass-murdering regimes in history -- Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union, and Mao's China -- had strict gun control? All the easier to kill you with!)

For Ross, Rohan, and countless other young people from the more conservative corners of our region for whom the march will be their first real foray into political engagement and activism, that might feel a little different.

Take it from me, years of disappointment will follow -- especially when things go backwards.

On Boston Common, in the shadow of Beacon Hill, people have already seen the light when it comes to simple, straightforward gun control measures. But when the march here is over, these new standard-bearers will carry that light back to the cities and towns where they live.

Related: "The teens have stood before crowds of thousands, giving impassioned speeches broadcast around the world. They inspired a nationwide classroom walkout. Four states have changed gun laws. And now, a rally in Washington, D.C., that could attract up to a half-million people and sibling rallies in hundreds of cities across the globe, including Boston....."

Maybe that’s where the world will start to change.

Still waiting.....


Also see:

Support jumps for stricter gun control laws

Especially after what happened in Maryland.

"Trump signs spending bill, reversing veto threat and avoiding government shutdown" by Julie Hirschfeld Davis New York Times   March 23, 2018

WASHINGTON — President Trump backed down from his veto threat after a head-spinning four hours at the White House that left both political parties in Washington reeling and his own aides bewildered about Trump’s contradictory actions.

He better be careful or he will end up like that guy in Peru.

Speaking at the White House, Trump placed his hand on a stack of budget documents and criticized what he called “this ridiculous situation” — but he said the spending plan was important because it increases money for the military.

“As a matter of national security I have signed this omnibus budget bill,” he said.

It was the latest instance of the president parting ways with his advisers in a sudden reversal that could have serious consequences. A veto would have almost certainly shut down the government at midnight, just as hundreds of thousands of teenagers and adults are slated to descend on Washington for a gun control march. 

So there would have been no security?

Related: "On Thursday, team owner Robert Kraft provided the team’s official plane to fly the families of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and some of the students who were injured to the nation’s capital for the event, Patriots spokesman Stacey James said. James said Kraft decided to lend the plane to those affected by the shooting after former Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, reached out to him and asked for the favor....."

Too bad the ferry has been shutdown. Can't go see the whales now.

With Congress on spring recess for two weeks starting Monday, many lawmakers had already departed Washington early Friday. Some were on their way out of the country as part of official congressional delegations overseas.


That means there will be NO ONE IN WASHINGTON to hear the protests (Trump is in Mar-a-Lago)!!! 


Btw, WHERE were those Congre$$ critters head anyway?

Beyond the practical risks, the optics of the last-minute presidential outburst held peril for Trump. Unlike recent government shutdowns that stemmed from Congress’ inability to pass spending bills, this one would be precipitated by the president alone.

In 1995 and 1996, vetoes of spending bills by President Bill Clinton shut the government temporarily, but in those cases, Clinton had the support of his party’s leaders in Congress, who objected to deep cuts to Medicare and conservative policy changes inserted into the spending bills.

If Trump were to have rejected the new spending bill, he would have defied Republican and Democratic leaders alike.

The president’s apparent change of heart came as a surprise but hardly a shock to Republican leaders, who spent much of a snowy Wednesday privately imploring an agitated Trump to put aside his objections and back the measure, claiming it as a win.

Did you see who else is happy with it?

That proved difficult for the president.....

He wanted to settle in a duel?


You didn't see what else was in there, did you?

"Gunman kills 3 in terrorist siege in France" by Aurelien Breeden New York Times   March 23, 2018

PARIS — A gunman killed three people in southwestern France on Friday, in a burst of violence that included hijacking a car, shooting at police officers, and taking a hostage in a supermarket. The attack rattled nerves in a country that has been hit hard by terrorism in recent years.

Not only that, it also upstaged the strikes and protests

What a coinkydink, huh?

The gunman was later killed by police officers when they stormed the supermarket, according to Gérard Collomb, the interior minister.

It's the same script every time!

As he entered the Super U market in Trèbes, about 50 miles southeast of Toulouse, and began shooting, the man shouted “God is great” in Arabic, and claimed to be acting on behalf of the Islamic State, witnesses said.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a bulletin issued by its Amaq News Agency.

That's when this piece of propaganda was thrown in the trash can.

Speaking to reporters from Trèbes, Collomb identified the gunman as Redouane Lakdim, 26, a native of Morocco who lived in the neighboring city of Carcassonne. He was known to police as a petty criminal and drug dealer, investigators said.

“We had monitored him, and we believed that he was not radicalized,” Collomb said, adding that the gunman had “abruptly taken action,” without apparent prior planning, despite authorities’ surveillance.

Another set-up patsy! 

So despite all the surveillance, all the data collection, all the protection measures, it was all just a massive waste of money, huh?

In a post on Twitter, Marine Le Pen, the hard-right, anti-immigrant politician who ran for president last year, linked the attack to immigration policies she contends are too permissive. “When will the government realize that we are at war?” she wrote.

I didn't know shooting at Russia had started.

Speaking at a news conference in Brussels, where he was attending a European Union summit meeting, President Emmanuel Macron said that “we believe that it is indeed a terrorist attack.”

OMG, Macron wasn't even home!


Being at the supermarket reminds me that the youth obesity crisis -- possibly more life-threatening than these sporadic mass casualty events -- has been put into the ma$$ media garbage disposal.

Just wait until you get to college:

"The small school is known more for rigorous academics than big-time athletics, so the team’s unstoppable march across the basketball landscape has barely registered beyond the college’s bucolic campus in the Pioneer Valley. It might just be the country’s best basketball team you’ve never heard of, the Amherst College women’s basketball team....." 

The school is more known for its politically-incorrect nickname, but their win streak has reached 66 and they are “not on ESPN.” 

At least there is the $hoe contract.

While we are in the Valley:

"With legal pot sales coming, baby boomers are ready to resume the party" by Robert Weisman Globe Staff  March 23, 2018

Why is that assumption made? Why do they assume the extreme that if it's legal everyone will go crazy in a mad rush to get high? Easy enough to get now.

Many baby boomers can call up the hazy memories. They’re relaxing with friends in a college dorm room. The music is blasting, the cinder-block walls are plastered with groovy neon posters, and a cloud of marijuana smoke fills the air.

Most abandoned that kind of scene decades ago once they started jobs and families. But with the kids grown, retirement looming, and the legal sale of recreational pot set to start in Massachusetts this summer, some are ready to resume the party — or a 21st-century version of it.

“I can see going over to somebody’s house for a party and there’ll be a joint passed around,” said Jim Kerr, 64, of Lexington, a lawyer who plans to retire from his Boston firm later this year. “Or people will be munching on brownies. I’m sure that will happen.”

Or already is!

Sorry, readers, but I'm going to pass.

Kerr smoked marijuana in high school and college, but stayed clear for about 40 years. He can’t envision his gray-haired boomer friends suddenly returning to their circa 1970 pot smoking, but large numbers of boomers already have embraced medical marijuana, which has been legal in the state for five years. They use it for pain relief, to help them sleep, and to ease anxiety and depression.

As is the case elsewhere, enthusiasm for marijuana varies widely in Massachusetts. Critics continue to question its medical benefits and worry that legal recreational use will lead to misuse, with both health and public safety side effects. And although many white, middle-class or affluent boomers remember their pot-smoking days as innocuous good times, the practice was far riskier for people of color who were arrested and jailed at disproportionate rates — often just for possessing a joint or two.

The state decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2008 and legalized medical cannabis in 2012. Commercial sales of recreational marijuana are set to begin in July, more than a year and a half after voters approved the change in a 2016 statewide referendum. Still, a majority of the cities and towns across Massachusetts have barred marijuana retail shops, at least temporarily, while others have limited the number of licenses they’ll grant.

Despite such restrictions, retired medical technologist Tom McCurry said the stigma around marijuana has already lifted among his friends and associates in Western Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley. McCurry, 71, who smoked marijuana for a time after he left the Air Force in the mid-1970s, began growing a few plants in his basement following his retirement from a lab at the Northampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center about five years ago.

Has it?

“The first batch was pretty pathetic,” said McCurry, who lives in Northampton. “The next batch was less pathetic. I enjoy the horticultural part of it. Some people don’t have the time and patience to deal with the plants. But this is a hobby for me. . . . I’ve shared it with my son and daughter, who are in their 30s, and told them what I was doing. And they said, ‘Wow, Dad is a different person.’” 

You couldn't find something else to grow, like flowers?

Federal law still prohibits possession and sale of marijuana, but despite rumblings from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, few people expect those rules to be enforced.

So it was just more fear being peddled by the pre$$, huh?

Since pot was decriminalized, a wide swath of users have been “coming out of the shadows,” ranging from millennials to soccer moms, said Adam Fine, a Boston lawyer who represents clients seeking to enter the marijuana business. But the biggest market for legal pot may be baby boomers and beyond, he suggested. “I went to a nursing home and there were people in their 80s and 90s who asked about cannabis,” he said.

I haven't seen them, and you can add the pot to the 12-drug cocktails they are serving.

Some boomers, of course, have never used marijuana, and others who did would just as soon close that chapter of their lives. Joe Smith, 70, a retired water resources manager who lives in Stoneham, started smoking pot when he served in the Navy in the 1970s. Smith remembers it as part of his hard-partying days when he was known as “Crazy Man or Panama Joe.”

Smith supports legal marijuana, but has no desire to partakeunless it can help him cope with the pain he sometimes feels in his feet. “It’s a public policy question,” he said. “It’s a matter of facing what our life is now. Marijuana has been part of our culture for decades, going back to the jazz [age] and the hipsters. . . . If they find out it’s great for neuropathy of the feet, I might try it.”

Many pain-addled boomers haven’t sought a medical marijuana card because of the cost — a $50 annual fee to the state, plus up to $200 for a doctor’s recommendation — or because they’re wary of putting their name on the state’s confidential list of registered patients.

I would be wary about putting my name on anyone's list these days.

But when recreational shops open, they may consider buying so-called adult use pot through a relatively anonymous transaction but use it for medical purposes — such as to treat lower back discomfort, sciatica, or pain associated with cancer or AIDS — said Trish Faass, cofounder of Heal Inc., a Newton startup planning to sell medical and recreational marijuana.

“People will be using it for medical reasons rather than just zoning out,” Faass said. “You’ve got the fear of opioids and people who don’t want to get addicted, so this may be a way to go.”


Some boomers who’ve returned to marijuana, or plan to, remain reluctant to discuss it publicly for fear their employers or landlords may frown on it. Some say they have tried it on trips to Colorado or Washington state, where it’s packaged and labeled so consumers know the strain, where and when it was harvested, and the percentage of THC, the compound that triggers its euphoric effect. Health-conscious boomers view such labeling as a plus, and the coming availability of edibles such as baked goods and gummy bears as smoke-free alternatives.

Do they have GMO pot?

Mike Tautznik, 64, who was the mayor of Easthampton from 1996 to 2014, smoked marijuana years ago and said he would like to try it again when recreational sales become legal. But he said he might be more open to consuming it in some other form, such as barbecue sauce, rather than smoking it.

Yeah, drawing any hot smoke into your lungs, cough, cough, seems to be a bad idea, cough!

“I’m looking forward to legalization,” he said. “I’ve led a public life that required me to be on the straight and narrow. Now that I’m retired, it will be interesting to see that culture come back a little bit. There will be more social interaction around it, just like there is with alcohol.”

But these days Tautznik said he might be more likely to listen to country or classical music at his pot parties, not Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin.

“Those of us who partied in the ’70s don’t party that way anymore,” he said.

Globe is stuck in the past, man!


Maybe this will get you high:

"College students are using student loans to invest in bitcoin. Yes, really" by Andy Rosen Globe Staff  March 22, 2018

The good thing is it has “nothing to do with marijuana.”

Putting aside the wisdom of investing in volatile cryptocurrencies, Boston attorney Adam S. Minsky said it was legally questionable to do so with student-loan money. A specialist in student-loan matters, Minsky said the federal government might question whether such investments are related to students’ education.

“I would err to the side of it not being a kosher thing to do legally, but regardless of that I don’t think it’s a wise thing to do financially,” he said.

I'm not even going to say it.

So-called cryptocurrencies, developed to facilitate secure online transactions, simultaneously became the hottest and most poorly understood financial instruments of 2017. Bitcoin began last year trading at below $1,000 and at one point were worth close to $20,000.

Meanwhile, companies issuing alternative cryptocurrencies and tokens have been able to raise billions of dollars from eager buyers. It’s apparently enough to draw in young investors who only have borrowed money to offer, according to Student Loan Report, and if cryptocurrency investments looked like a path to free money at one point, they decidedly are not. Bitcoin has fallen back down to about $8,500 in recent months, making big losers of many who bought in late.

Looks like any old stock market to me.

In an article discussing the survey, Student Loan Report founder Drew Cloud told the Globe that if students have extra loan proceeds for now, they should consider “stowing that money away in a high-yield savings account that they could later use to chip away at their student debt.”

Yeah, turn the money over to Wall Street and the money managers. They'll look after it for you!

They really do think you kids are stoopid.

But, he added, they might be right to take a flier on bitcoin.

“But there is always the chance that there is another period of explosive growth for virtual currency, and these borrowers will be laughing all the way to the bank.”

But but.

Christian Catalini, an MIT professor who studies cryptocurrency, said student interest in digital assets marks a generational divide in thinking about finance. “There is a new generation of consumers that tend to have no faith in traditional financial institutions, and I think they are approaching this asset with curiosity and excitement,” Catalini said.....

And who knows? 

You might get “lucky.”

If not, they can then join the other generations lacking the same faith via experience.


Also seeHampshire College probing act of ‘deplorable anti-Semitism’ on campus

Yeah, some things never change.