Semi-relevant photos: They're not holly berries, but they're red. And whatever they are, they're around in the winter.

Christmas carols as folk music

Here’s an interesting blog from a Jewish woman who grew up in the US and now lives in Cornwall, England explaining her like of and iffiness with Christmas carols.

Here’s a list of some of the  holidays that people from around the world celebrate during December:

  • Tuesday, December 6 St. Nicholas Day Austria
  • Tuesday, December 6 Feast of St. Nicholas (Bari) Italy
  • Wednesday, December 7 Feast of St. Ambrose (Milan) Italy
  • Monday, December 12 Day of the Virgin Guadalupe Mexico
  • Monday, December 12 Poinsettia Day
  • Wednesday, December 14 Full Moon Lunar
  • Wednesday, December 21 Winter Solstice (GMT) Solar and China
  • Friday, December 23 Festivus
  • Saturday, December 24 Christmas Eve General
  • Sunday, December 25 Christmas General
  • Sunday, December 25 Hanukkah Jewish
  • Monday, December 26 St. Stephan’s Day Christian & Austria
  • Monday, December 26 Boxing Day Canada
  • Monday, December 26 Second Christmas Germany
  • Monday, December 26 – Sunday, January 1 Kwanzaa
  • Saturday, December 31 New Years Eve

I agree with her general statement about this Holiday season.

“Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, or celebrated if I’m late, I wish you a good one. And if you don’t celebrate anything, I wish you a moment of quiet amid all the aggressive celebrating.”

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Notes from the U.K.

Christmas carols, according to one source I found, weren’t originally Christian. They were solstice songs. Then the country was Christianized and it took the songs along with it, but they didn’t become church songs, they stayed outside, in people’s homes, as well as out of doors and in whatever the period’s equivalent of the pub was. They were seasonal folk songs.

Fast forward more than a few hundred years and Oliver Cromwell came to power, with his humorless version of Protestantism. He didn’t approve of fun, and he tried to stamp the songs out but they went underground and survived.

In the Victorian era they were rediscovered and became respectable (I think) and new carols were added.

End of history lesson. I won’t swear that it’s entirely accurate, but it seems to be somewhere in the neighborhood of accuracy. Close enough (as they say of guitar tuning) for folk music.

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 The Return of the Coat Hanger: The State of Abortion Rights

We must Resist this backlash against women and their bodily integrity!

Resist! Show your support for women and reproductive justice. Many years ago, I was given a gold hanger pendant to show my support for abortion rights and reproductive justice. I’m going to start wearing it again. Every day. This is only a small statement. It’s a beginning.

Meanwhile…Resist! Resist! Resist!Take action! Start by being aware of what your state legislature is planning on legislating about your body and your personal medical decisions. We are in for a very bumpy ride.

Take action! Start by being aware of what your state legislature is planning on legislating about your body and your personal medical decisions. We are in for a very bumpy ride.

Nel's New Day

coat-hanger

When Gov. John Kasich vetoed the infamous “heartbeat” bill, people across the nation breathed a sigh of relief. If signed, the ensuing law would have made abortion illegal in Ohio after the sixth week when some women didn’t even know they were pregnant. The bill he did sign into law, making abortion in the state illegal after 20 weeks, seemed mild by comparison. The 1972 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade made abortions legal until 24 weeks, 4 weeks later than Ohio, yet the Ohio’s restriction to 20 weeks initially seemed much better than the alternative.

The new Ohio law is dangerous, however, on many levels. Not only does it attempt to break Roe v. Wade, but it also puts doctors in prison. Performing an abortion after 20 weeks is a fourth-degree felony, carrying a sentence of up to 18 months in prison. A 2013 Ohio law…

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Graphic of a government building saying that the Electoral College member should not be bound by party but by voting of the candidate who is qualified.

Letter to Electoral College Members

 

Graphic of a government building saying that the Electoral College member should not be bound by party but by voting of the candidate who is qualified.

The Electors need to join the 156 “faithless” electors in our nation’s history by putting country above party.

 

 

I received an email asking me to write to some or all of the electors across the country in the 2017 Electoral College. I decided to just focus on the 21 Trump electors here in Pennsylvania.

I took their letter and did some customization.  If you want to do the same, you can go to http://directelection.org to get the instructions and letter to customize and send out yourself.  Note, these letters MUST get to the recipients before Monday, November 19 before they vote.

Here’s what I said  in the letters I just put into the mail:

I am writing to you in your capacity as a presidential elector. I don’t envy the responsibility that you bear during these difficult times when we face a new split between the popular and apparent electoral votes. While I believe that Hillary Clinton’s popular margin of victory, over 2.5 million votes nationwide, ought to convince the electors to vote for her, I am writing to ask you to choose her for a different reason: that the Electoral College was designed specifically to bar people like Donald Trump from the presidency.

Our presidential system, conceived in 1787 and not amended since 1804, empowers the electors to use their wise judgment to choose our president. Whatever we may think of this system now, there were sound reasons for it at the time.

Among these reasons for the Electoral College is to ensure that the incoming president has the requisite qualifications, abilities, skills and ethics to do the job. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Paper 68:

“The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

Donald Trump continues to demonstrate that he lacks the necessary qualifications and skills for the presidency.

There are many reasons to reject Donald Trump as unfit to be president. I will name just one: he will pervert our standards of law and ethics by using the presidency to enrich himself and his family. He has been sued more than any candidate in our history. On November 18, he agreed to pay $25 million to settle lawsuits alleging fraud at his “Trump University.” Since the election, he and his children have continued to pursue their business interests with foreign leaders.

And now Mr. Trump has stated that he will not announce how he will handle this conflict until after the Electoral College meets. This, IMHO, is a major concern because you, as my elector, have limited, if any, information to make a qualified vote on this grave ethical and constitutional issue.

As Richard Painter, President George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007, has pointed out, Donald Trump’s hotel in D.C. would violate Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution, which bars officers from receiving profit or gain from foreign powers. We don’t even know the range of his interests because he has refused to release his tax returns or place his companies in a true blind trust. Let’s not inaugurate a president whose greed destines him for impeachment.

I am grateful for your service to our nation as an elector. You may, in fact, believe that Donald Trump would make a better president than Hillary Clinton or anyone else. But if you share my fear that Trump would weaken and shame our country, then I encourage you to exercise the power granted you by the Constitution and join the 156 “faithless” electors in our nation’s history by putting country above party and blocking Donald Trump from the presidency.

Hamilton would have wanted you to do so.

So would I.

Thank you!

 

When freedom of thought, inquiry, and speech thrive at universities so does American democracy.

Turning Point USA is a right-wing organization that is much like McCarthy’s red-baiting back in the 1950’s. Their creation of a Professors Watchlist is a form of intimidation. The final paragraph in this blog clearly expresses why faculty, students, and the larger community must resist such attempts at censorship :

“The Professor Watchlist obscures and attacks the core of the university. It uses false transparency to intimidate and shame us into acquiescence. We can broker no compromise with such people. They are fundamentally anti-American. When freedom of thought, inquiry, and speech thrive at universities so does democracy and American life.”

Peter is in the Forest

Tomorrow, my friend, colleague, and Bernie Sanders supporter Sophia McClennen and I will be on FREQ’s The Morning Mixtape hosted by Jason Crane to talk about the Professor Watchlist. Here are my thoughts (with reference to McClennen’s) on the matter.

In the last few weeks, the Professor Watchlist and its founding group, Turning Point USA have surfaced to set us “free.” While this group of ideological purists allege that they are concerned with American well-being, we can be sure they are anything but. Professors, they promise, are promoting radical ideas and the public needs to be alerted. These far right would-be censors, though, have simply reopened a long-standing battlefront by the culturally regressive armies of the night. A thriving democracy cannot and must not tolerate it.

The list’s founder, Charlie Kirk, is quoted in The New York Times as saying there are many professors who are “advance[ing] a radical agenda in lecture…

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Picture of Pat Reuss

I know that the FIGHT OF OUR LIVES in the months and years ahead will be to Demand and Defend REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE

 

pat-reuss-20150618_071824-001

Pat Reuss

My friend, Pat Reuss, is speaking truth to power. Thanks Pat for your coherent thoughts.

 

Central Oregon Coast NOW

By Pat Reuss December 12, 2016

Even though I have spent the last 44 years in the women’s movement working for many issues including economic and racial justice, fighting against poverty and violence against women and promoting older women’s issues, the ERA, Title IX and work/family issues, I know that the fight of our lives in the months and years ahead will be to demand and defend reproductive justice.  If we lose the constitutional and political gains we’ve made in reproductive justice, our cogency as a movement and a voice for girls and women will certainly be in question and girls and women’s lives will be at greater risk.  If we go back to treating women as disposable rather than self-determining, whole, autonomous members of humanity, then we lose standing to demand fair pay, safe homes, and equal treatment under the law in all other arenas of life. 

 So…

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The First Somali-American Woman Elected To Office Was Harassed In D.C.

Central Oregon Coast NOW

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Is Donald Trump’s Cabinet Anti-Woman?

Central Oregon Coast NOW

anti-women Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald J. Trump’s campaign was dogged by accusations of misogyny. Now his cabinet is shaping up to be one of the most hostile in recent memory to issues affecting women, advocacy groups for women say. Tax credits for child care and the prospect of paid maternity leave are exceptions to a host of positions that could result in new restrictions on abortion and less access to contraception, limits on health care that disproportionately affect women and minorities and curbs on funding for domestic violence, as well as slowing the momentum toward raising the minimum wage or making progress on equal pay.

Consider their positions on these issues.

Domestic violence

Jeff Sessions, Mr. Trump’s selection for attorney general; Tom Price, chosen for Health and Human Services secretary; and Mike Pompeo, the pick for C.I.A. director, all voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act in 2013, which funds…

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Picture of people holding signs about why they want a recount of the Presidential and US Senate races in the 2016 elections in Pennsylvania

Rally: We Want a Recount in PA

This morning, citizens from throughout Pennsylvania came to the Capital Complex in Harrisburg to say that we want to ensure that the ballots cast in the most recent election were accurately counted.  Chants of “Count Every Vote” rang out throughout the Rotunda with people holding signs like

  • STAND UP 4 DEMOCRACY! Hand Recount NOW!!!
  • Count All Votes
  • We need a Paper Trail
  • Military Families Have Earned Transparent Democracy #RecountPA
  • PA’s voting machines are outlawed in some states!
  • Hand Recount NOW
  • SHOW CODE
  • Restore my Faith. #RecountPA
  • It’s a Recount, not a Rerun
Picture of people holding signs about why they want a recount of the Presidential and US Senate races in the 2016 elections in Pennsylvania

Citizens of PA calling for a recount in Pennsylvania

This rally occurred about an hour after Jill Stein announced that she was had filed suit in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).  She called Pennsylvania’s voting system a “disgrace.” Her federal complaint said, in part,

“Voters are forced to use vulnerable, hackable, antiquated technology banned in other states, then rely on the kindness of machines. There is no paper trail. Voting machines are electoral black sites: no one permits voters or candidates to examine them.”

There were five speakers at the rally.  Carl Romanelli, the 2006 Green Party Candidate for the US Senate spoke first. He discussed Jill Stein’s federal complaint, a need to have a forensic review/audit of the electronic voting machines, and a manual recount of the paper ballots in the few counties that have a paper trail.

Pat LaMarche,  the 2004 Green Party Vice-Presidential Candidate, spoke next. She blasted the PA Commonwealth Court, saying “Shame on you!” for demanding that the 100 Pennsylvania citizens  (not Stein’s campaign) put up a $1,000,000 bond for the court to hold the hearing on whether or not to recount and audit the votes in Pennsylvania.

Next up was MaryBeth Kuznick, President of VotePA. VotePA is a statewide citizen’s organization that believes in fair and open elections in Pennsylvania.  This group is leading “the fight against unverifiable paperless electronic voting and dangerous internet voting in Pennsylvania.”  She talked about her experiences as a recount monitor in the Ohio presidential recount in 2004.  She also spoke of the electronic voting machines that have either been outlawed or required to have a voter-verifiable paper trail in other states, including Ohio and California.  These very same machines, now over a decade old, are still used in most counties in Pennsylvania, BUT without any paper trail at all.

I was the next speaker.  Representing Concerned Voters of Centre County, my county’s local version of VotePA, I talked about my experiences with both the electronic voting machines (commonly called a DRE) in 2006 and my experiences with this year’s election.

  • In 2006, I personally witnessed a gentleman attempting to vote on our DRE machines.  Every time he tried to punch the voting square for the Republican candidate for Governor, the screen said he was voting for the Democratic candidate.  After multiple attempts to get the machine to register his vote correctly, he complained to the Judge of Elections. She told him to go back and try again because his “fingernails were too long” and he wasn’t punching the screen correctly.  I followed him out of the polling place and told him that even though I didn’t vote for his candidate, I believed that he had an absolute right to have his vote recorded correctly.  The two of us went to the Board of Elections the next day and filed a complaint.  Two years later, after voting in a new set of County Commissioners, this incident along with others resulted in the new Board ordering our DRE’s to be replaced by scannable paper ballots.
  • This year, over concerns about whether our ballots across the state were accurately counted, Concerned Voters of Centre County joined in with many other counties throughout Pennsylvania calling for a citizen-initiated precinct level recount.  Over 100 citizens in 32 Centre County precincts (over 1/3 of the county’s precincts) successfully filed our affidavits on Monday, November 28.  Unfortunately, due to how the county solicitor defined “day,” our petitions were thrown out; we were told that they were not “timely.”  The vote count was certified even after we raised what the Board of Elections considered a legitimate complaint; in at least one precinct, a provisional ballot was counted even though the voter who put the provisional ballot through the scanner had not been verified as a registered voter.

Finally, Dr. Candice Hoke spoke.  She is a lawyer, cyber-security professor, and Director of the Center for Election Integrity at Cleveland State University. Hoke talked about the legal (Constitutional)  and security issues surrounding the election process in Pennsylvania. As an elections lawyer, she discussed the Constitutional mandate for a complete, open, and fair election process that doesn’t stop once you cast your ballot; it only ends once you can ensure that the vote is accurate. Then putting on her election cyber-security hat, she talked about what can and has gone wrong with the electronic “ballot boxes” we’ve been using across the country and the serious problems we have with the unverifiable DRE voting system we have in Pennsylvania.  Her bottom line was that with the lack of a statewide voter-verified paper trail, aging electronic voting and scanning machines, and the inability/refusal to do a forensic audit of the machines and voting, the results of this election are in doubt.

Here’s her full speech.

The arguments for a recount/audit are being made in the public arena and in the courts.

For the integrity of our voting system AND for the health of our democracy.  We now wait to see what happens next.

Major Victory: #DAPL Halted

Great blog. The statement of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman, Dave Archambault II helps put this decision by the US Army Corps of Engineers in perspective. This was and is an indigenous family human rights struggle. Let’s hope that the new presidential administration honors this decision.

Central Oregon Coast NOW

Today is a historic day both for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and for indigenous people everywhere.

Thanks in part to the pressure from people like you, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would not be granting an easement under Lake Oahe for the Dakota Access pipeline to cross the Missouri River, just a half mile upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation.

Taylor Peterson, Katherine Morrisseau, Nancy Scanie, and Fawn Youngbear-Tibbetts. Clan Grandmother Nancy Scanie from Cold Lake Dene First Nation in Alberta Canada represents the Athabasca Keepers of the Water. (photo by Joey Podlubny)

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman, Dave Archambault II said in a statement,

“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.

With this decision we look forward to being able to return home and spend the winter with our families…

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Victory at Standing Rock

I am so pleased that the Sioux Nation has won the day. For their people and for Mother Earth. This is one of two great blogs I’ve seen this morning that provides a very good background summary on this civil rights battle. Read on…

Nel's New Day

CANNON BALL, ND - DECEMBER 04:  Fireworks fill the night sky above Oceti Sakowin Camp as activists celebrate after learning an easement had been denied for the Dakota Access Pipeline near the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The US Army Corps of Engineers announced today that it will not grant an easement to the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under a lake on the Sioux Tribes Standing Rock reservation, ending a  months-long standoff.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) CANNON BALL, ND – DECEMBER 04: Fireworks fill the night sky above Oceti Sakowin Camp as activists celebrate after learning an easement had been denied for the Dakota Access Pipeline near the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Protesters across the United States celebrated today after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would “explore alternate routes” for the Dakota Access Pipeline instead of granting an easement the pipeline. Over 2,000 U.S. military veterans had joined the thousands of protesters at the site to protect them from the authorities, and federal officials had given them until tomorrow to leave the site .

Native American tribes began last April to block the part of the current 1,172-mile-long pipeline’s $3.8 billion project designed to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota at the confluence…

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