While distracted by Trump, tweets, and shiny objects, the real danger lies in the shadows.
Created for "The Bard's Hall Contest" but continued for my own sanity.
** Image ID #2157556 Unavailable **
|June 17, 2018. Day 4.
I think by now even the most antisocial hermits have heard about the number of mass shootings that have swept the United States. Now, not to get too technical, but a "mass shooting" is defined by the federal government as an incident in which at least four victims (not including the shooter) must be killed. I happen to think even one victim is too many.
Whenever we hear about one, most of us think, "That guy (or girl) must be nuts!" You may not be wrong.
The What: Soon after taking office, President Donald Trump signed a measure nixing a regulation aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of some severely mentally ill people. The original rule was part of a series of efforts taken by the Obama administration to try and curb gun violence after other efforts failed to advance in Congress.
The Impact: The rule would have required the Social Security Administration to disclose information quarterly to the national gun background check system about certain people with mental illness. While the list of eligible mental disorders is long -- ranging from anxiety to eating disorders to schizophrenia -- those who would have been reported by the agency had to meet two main criteria:
a) They were receiving full disability benefits because of a mental illness and couldn't work and
b) they were unable to manage their own benefits, thus needing the help of a third party to do so.
According to a report by the Office of the Inspector General at the Social Security Administration, 81,000 disability awardees would have met the criteria.
They now can buy guns if they so desire... or worse, be used to purchase guns for others.
But that's not all. While you were sleeping, a few other "under the radar" gun control changes have been made including this one that caught my eye: Trump made it easier for “Fugitives” to buy guns. It's illegal to sell guns to a “fugitive from justice” i.e. anyone with an outstanding arrest warrant. Trump's justice department clarified that a "fugitive" only applied to those who fled across state lines to avoid prosecution. 500,000 names were removed from the no-buy list. If you think about it, that means half-a-million felons who weren't smart enough to run away can now buy guns. .
I'll leave you with a final thought: Are you ready for this? There have been 101 mass shootings including 18 school shootings in the U.S. in 2018 (as of May). 😵 Maybe we really are nuts... but WTF, we can still buy a gun.
Oh, and Happy Father's Day!
|June 16, 2018. Day 3.
Happy Saturday! (I wonder if that's an oxymoron? 😁)
So, I had planned to use this project as a way to call attention to all the little stuff that was going on under the radar as Trump's minions slowly changed the nature of our country - not with a sledgehammer, but with a scalpel - bit by bit. Since I got started late, some of seemingly small changes have ballooned in the headlines so I'm playing catch up. One such item was the Trump's administration's change to a "zero-tolerance" immigration policy several months ago.
The What: Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration's policy last month. "So, if you cross the border unlawfully, even a first offense, we're going to prosecute you," Sessions told a gathering of the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies. "If you're smuggling a child, we're going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don't want your child to be separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally."
The Impact: Since Trump implemented the administration’s zero-tolerance policy to illegal migrants or asylum seekers caught crossing the border between Mexico and the United States, the US government has separated at least 2,000 children from parents at the border, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed Friday. It has long been a misdemeanor federal offense to be caught illegally entering the country, punishable by up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. But previous US administrations generally didn't refer everyone caught for prosecution.
Why do we care? Well, if you're concerned about border security, it overwhelms the courts and US attorneys' offices with low-level crimes that make it difficult to use resources to go after serious and dangerous crime, like drug smuggling and cartels. Prosecutions were rare prior to the Trump administration, partly because they cost a lot of money and were time-consuming.
If you're a human being, then separating young children from their families is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment for a crime they are innocent of! Previous administrations felt the broad use of the 'prosecute-first' option was needlessly harsh. The United Nations convention "specifically states asylum seekers should not be criminally prosecuted for entering without documentation because those fleeing persecution often do not have time/ability to get proper authorization before they are forced to flee." The United Nations human rights office has also called for an end to the Trump administration’s practice that separates children and parents, saying that using immigration detention and family separation "as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles."
Is this really the country we've fought for, worked for, taken pride in?
I leave you with a final thought: "Anyone with a heart, with a family, has experienced loss. No one escapes unscathed. Every story of separation is different, but I think we all understand that basic, wrenching emotion that comes from saying goodbye, not knowing if we'll see that person again - or perhaps knowing that we won't." ~ Luanne Rice
|June 15th, 2018 Day 2.
While we were sleeping... The repeal of Obama-era net neutrality protections officially took effect on Monday, nearly six months after the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voted to roll back the rules. So, who cares? Most of us didn't notice and probably won't - for a while.
The What: The net neutrality rules were approved by the FCC in 2015 amid an outpouring of online support. The intention was to keep the internet open and fair. Under the rules, internet service providers were required to treat all online content the same. They couldn't deliberately speed up or slow down traffic from specific websites or apps, nor could they put their own content at an advantage over rivals.
To put it in easy to understand terms, the big providers could slow down access to WDC and allow sites to have faster access, thereby putting WDC at a disadvantage - or charge WDC more money to stay in the "fast lane."
The Impact: If there's one thing that everyone can agree on, it's that the internet is increasingly central to our lives. Internet providers could choose to prioritize their own content and services over those of rivals. Businesses like Netflix, with large audiences and bank accounts, will likely be able to adapt -- but smaller companies may struggle to strike deals with providers and pay up to have their content delivered faster. If WDC, for example, had to pay more, guess who'd ultimately end up paying? 🤑 Yeah, you guessed it.
This is just one of many "fuck the user" changes that the Trump administration has pushed. A few of the in-the-dark changes that will affect our pocketbooks include:
~ Canceled a rule mandating that financial advisers act in the best interests of their clients.
At least Trump is now in compliance. 😂
~ Ended a rule that allowed consumers to file class-action suits against financial companies.
Yeah, why would it make sense to allow consumers to bring class-action lawsuits against banks and credit card companies to resolve financial disputes? 🤔 Uhhh - Wells Fargo and Equifax headlines might give you a clue.
~ Ended a rule that barred employers from taking some or all of the tips given to service employees.
Let's see - we don't pay minimum wage to servers and now employers can make sure they won't ever achieve that $7.25 holy grail.
It seems there's a pattern emerging and it's aimed at letting big businesses (a.k.a. Trump) decide what's best for themselves.
A parting thought: "While big business gain subsidies and political access, small businesses drown in red tape, and individuals now risk being classified as terrorists for complaining about it." ~ Zac Goldsmith
|June 14, 2018. Day 1.
Where to start? Now I'm not a tree-hugger (well, there is that clump birch ... but that's not for here 🤣) but like most folks, the environment and what we're doing to it is a concern more for my grandkids than me. Hell, I've been a smoker for 50 years so I wouldn't know clean air if it bit me. 😋
Certainly, Trump's pulling out of the Paris Accords was a major headline and most of you will remember it. Unfortunately, Trump's done more than that.
The WHAT: The EPA (under the stellar direction of Scott Pruitt) announced in April that it will revoke Obama-era standards requiring cars and light trucks sold in the United States to average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025, a move that could change the composition of the nation’s auto fleet for years. More than that, he has threatened to revoke California's waiver to impose their own, higher standards. The California waiver gives the state considerable power to require automakers to stick to stricter standards. Not only is California a huge car market itself, but 12 other states including New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania have historically followed its lead. Together they represent more than a third of the domestic auto market.
The IMPACT: The CAFE standards (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) were put in place to curb climate change and limit environmental pollution. By lowering the standards, we're obviously NOT curbing and limiting. I guess the argument for "states rights" touted by the Republicans is going to be reinterpreted as well. 🤪
This is only one of the "in the shadows" moves that will affect our environment in the future. For example:
~ After pledging that the remaining $2 billion of a $3 billion pledge by President Barack Obama to the United Nation's Green Climate Fund would not be delivered during his presidency, President Trump revealed in G20 negotiations that the US would use its influence on a 24-member board to steer the previously donated $1 bn toward fossil fuel-related projects.
~ We may never know what the impact of this is. Trump has ended NASA's Carbon Monitoring System, a $10-million-per-year effort to fund pilot programs intended to improve the monitoring of global carbon emissions.
I leave you with this thought: "If you are not part of the solution, you must be part of the problem." This is a misquotation of Eldridge Cleaver but it's close enough. 😅
|Day 0. (Think of it as a preamble 😋)
Okay, I've decided to take ⱲƹbⱲitϚћ Happy 4th USA and StephB Happy 4th of July! 's "The Bard's Hall Contest" Challenge. I don't think of myself as a blogger. My life is much more interesting internally than externally 🤣 and I can express my inner self through my poetry and short story writing. So, as we all like to ask: What's in it for me?
Then, by chance, I stumbled upon Paul D 's blog "Invalid Item" - and it suddenly occurred to me Yeah - I don't have to blog about ME necessarily. There's a lot to write about!
🤔 Like what? My wife and I had been talking (over a nice glass of Italian Primativa) about all the changes going on in our country that most never hear about. There are important changes happening in the shadows while we're distracted by the faux pas of the day by Trump or one of his minions and there should be someplace to highlight them. 💡 Idea!
So, rather than limericks about how Donald J. Trump has embarrassed himself or our country, I'm going to focus on what's really going on.
If you're so inclined, I will continue my rants in "Pants on Fire" but this will be an attempt at something different.
Please, stay tuned. 😁