Thursday, February 14, 2019

Notations On Our World (Special Valentine's Day Edition): On Love & Making a Difference

It is Valentine's Day as we went to press.   In honor of the Parkland Fallen, we join the team at A March For Our Lives as we go dark in all our properties through Feburary 17 as we pay tribute to all the Fallen and the survivors who have done more to change the conversation about Gun Violence. 

   We leave you all with this on the power of the possible by the team at Ecosia--what we have standardized for our search efforts: 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Notations On Our World (Tuesday Edition): On the US Politics Front

As we went to press, we were seeing reports of markets rising on the news of a Deal that we noted in our special edition  of  Notations--over 255 points.    This is as President Trump and Former Congressman Beto O'Rouke held competing rallies in Texas as the President formally launched his re-election effort--and Social Media was "abuzz" about Crowd Sizes.  

This is also as another interesting development just occurred on the Politics front:  Mark Kelly, the former Shuttle Commander, Gun Control Crusader and husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords is running for the US Senate Seat.     

Monday, February 11, 2019

Notations From the Grid (Special Monday Edition): On #Shutdown2019 Watch

Our team has been assessing the state of negotiations in Washington.  Over the weekend, negotiations stalled and President Trump expressed profound pessimism--as his Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney did not discount another shutdown.   However, Senators Richard Shelby and Patrick Leahy have called for another meeting to revive stalled negotations as the President is in El Paso at a rally which heralds the formal launch of his 2020 re-election effort with this news flash courtesy of the Washington Examiner: 

The two top Senate appropriators said they are aiming to complete a broad spending and border security deal Monday night after reviving stalled negotiations.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and the panel’s top Democrat, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the group of four bipartisan negotiators from the House and Senate will convene at 8 p.m. for the third time today for “serious” negotiations.
Read the full story here.

In the meantime, the opposition continues epitomized by this courtesy of the Indivisible: Indivisibles,
T-minus four days until the government could shut down again over Trump’s hateful wall and deportation agenda. Today, Indivisibles across the country hosted events to tell their members of Congress (MoCs): stop playing games with our lives (check out one of our favorite moments so far here). But we’re not done just yet.
This week, it’s critical that you keep up the pressure, both in-person and on the phones, and tell Congress no additional money for Trump’s wall, ICE agents, or detention beds.

Your #1 priority for Congress this week

Post-shutdown negotiations on the border wall have stalled. In return for ending the longest shutdown in history (that cost the economy $11 billion), Democrats and Republicans agreed to convene a joint “conference committee” to negotiate an agreement on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding, including the border wall. According to news reports and our intel from Capitol Hill, those talks have stalled -- and Trump’s temper tantrum over funding for his wall and other hateful immigration policies continues.
If negotiators fail to reach a deal, the government will shut down again at midnight this Friday. Let’s be clear: this fight isn’t just about the border wall; it’s about rejecting Trump’s white nationalist, anti-immigrant agenda. House Democrats must stay strong and reject any more money that would allow Trump to tear more families apart.
As we approach that deadline, there are three critical pieces of negotiations to watch closely and to pressure your MoCs on: no beds, no boots, no wall.
  1. No beds. Congress has set a limit of 40,500 detention beds, and yet ICE continues to dramatically increase the average daily population of detainees. This is because ICE is able to freely transfer money from other accounts to increase the number of individuals and families they jail. You may remember that last year, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) shone a light on the practice, revealing that the Trump administration diverted nearly $10 million from FEMA to ICE for detention beds. Without limits to ICE’s transfer authority, they’ll continue to jail tens of thousands of immigrants and families.
  2. No boots. We're hearing that negotiators are going to give Trump more Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents. Don't be fooled. HSI agents are ICE agents -- and funding for HSI agents is funding for Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. In fact, HSI is responsible for many high-profile, highly militarized worksite raids. The National Immigration Law Center has a great resource with more information on HSI agents here. Congress shouldn’t increase HSI’s funding -- it should cut it and prohibit HSI from arresting workers while conducting this type of enforcement.
  3. No wall. The latest intel is that negotiators are discussing anywhere between $1.3 to 2 billion for wall money. Make no mistake, this money will devastate local communities so that Trump can fulfill his hateful campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border. It’s critical to keep up the pressure on your MoCs and tell them not one more dollar for Trump’s hateful wall.

Also moving on the Hill…

We know there’s a lot happening this week with the looming partial shutdown, but that doesn’t mean that everything is stalled. Here’s what else to watch this week:
  • Oversight hearings on Trump’s inhumane family separation policy continue. If you’re anything like us, you’ve watched Progressive Caucus Co-Chair and friend of Indivisible Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-WA) amazing grilling of Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on the Trump administrations vicious family separation policy. This week there will be two oversight hearings into the horrific family separation policy, one in the House Judiciary Committee and another in the House Oversight Committee.
  • The House could make (good) history this week and reject the war in Yemen. The House is set to aggressively assert its constitutional powers and pass a resolution ordering Trump to end the unauthorized and immoral US support for the Saudi-backed Yemen war. Here’s what you need to know about why this is such a big deal.
  • Hearings on the For the People Act (H.R. 1) wrap up in the House. Has your Representative co-sponsored H.R. 1 yet?This week, the Homeland Security Committee will hear testimony on election security, and the House Administration Committee will examine expert testimony on the many intersectional reforms included in this bill. This takes us closer to getting the bill on the floor of the House, which is expected to happen in early March.

 Your 5 weekly to-dos 

  1. Tell your MoCs: no boots, no beds, no wall and push for a clean, year-long CR. Your MoCs need to hear from you this week before the government could partially shut down again this Friday. Use our updated call script here.
  2. Prepare now if Trump declares a national emergency over the wall. Trump continues to threaten to declare a fake emergency to get his way on the border wall, making a mockery of real national security emergencies and taking us another step toward authoritarianism. Read up on the three things Congress can and should do if it happens.
  3. Tell your MoC to cosponsor H.R. 1. Check here to see if your Dem MoC has co-sponsored H.R. 1. If they haven’t, use our call script to ask that they support this critical pro-democracy reform legislation.
  4. Start planning for February recess. While the looming partial shutdown could change Congress’ plans for February recess, check to see if your MoCs are holding an event and starting planning to ask the hard questions. Find town halls near you on our map here.
  5. Our March National Activist call is already in the works! Sign up here to make sure you don’t miss the latest Indivisible updates.

Notations From the Grid (Weekly Edition): The Week Ahead

It will be quite a week ahead as we will be witness to negotiations over US Government Funding, Iran's Revolution is 40 years old,  Conference in Warsaw will be held on the Middle East, #Brexit negotiations continue and the crisis in Venezuela continues. 

Friday, February 8, 2019

When One Or The Other Is Not In The Picture, State and Non State Actors Confound Development

States are a starting point in putting in place mechanisms that define and enforce rights to development for all people including health rights, especially for women. These should be protected more affirmatively in order for standards of living to be improved. This should be accessible by all not because they are economically or politically powerful but because all people deserve it. This analysis will show examples of Roma, Cultural Institutions, Pygmies, Yazidi, Rohingya, Women, Conflicts, Hunger, Environment and Markets. These are a few of those that show that what it takes for states can work with non state actors to pool efforts toward quality development of all people.

States are an example of the agency and currency derived from structured organization. Whereas organization is a catalysis for development, this does not mean states are the only organized entities, therefore they alone are not the sole drivers of development.

Agency is an inherent and motive aspect drawn upon to make something happen or be known and currency is the channel through which an issue can be made known or apparent. Through these two are so important in ensuring progress is felt. 

Organization is has the following characteristics: reporting structure, name, location, physicality, durability, scalability, monitor-ability, reproducibility, manageability, traceable and track-ability.  

Organization that drives development can be in form of people who identify under a given mission and objective; or it can be to address a problem faced by many on a large scale. The mission behind the organization is both problem-posing and solving. The objectives are the ways the people have come up with to address the self evident needs. Some of these needs are internally stimulated while others are external in nature. The external needs can be divided further into universal and local.

Needs are those claims or aspirations that once available make self preservation possible. The examples that come to mind: need to belong, family, food, education, employable skills, interpersonal skills, contribute to communities, interact with surroundings, security, life preservation, liberty and many others. These then lead to the next level of utilizing resources to survive and improve on oneself, ability to produce or be productive, as well as being able to improve one’s society.

Humans become aware that they have to address the needs not only for self preservation but for many other growth and development reasons such as: training for job opportunities or civil service; and gaining high skilled status to be able to join quality level expertise in many fields e.g., medicine, engineering, politics, law, governance to name but a few. This is the backbone upon which people of all categories can enjoy life.

Needs in form of claims can range from tools to use in form of resources, property (private or public) or are a manifestation of a missing entity that needs to be made available. In form of aspirations, needs become goals to meet. 

States can play a guarantor role for permanence and socially uplifting institutionalization  however when the state structure are used to persecute or fuel inter-ethnic rivalries, this can bring about displacement, insecurity and genocides. This makes states the bane of the life of people. Sometimes states  do not have the structures to consolidate hegemony. Still others are overwhelmed by say, civil strife that some people who are marginalized suffer a lot by the hands of the uniformed. At other times states are simply not the only reliable platforms to provide means for meeting needs and securing enjoyment of life of people. 

But, if states have been the default power centres what then makes them fail to address all the problems in their geographical areas? 

One reason is that states evolved to address issues at formal and technical levels which tend to lock out voices of those deemed not organized or have credentials for representation at dialogue round tables. States fail in some cases to address all the needs of people under their jurisdiction. 

But, this is more of an excuse and not an exception. There is more to addressing minority issues, hunger, famine, poverty and inequality than states have invested in. At some point not including the very beneficiaries in planning may be a hiccup. At another, it could be how to turn skills or knowledge into transformative action.

Source: Google

Notations From the Grid (Friday Edition): Week-End Reads on #SOTU2019 & Beyond

As we went to press, negotiations over the wall continued.   Our team created a grid of the discourse to get a sense of it all.   There have also been other responses including this from Professor Richard Wolffe:

The Spanish Language Response was given by our Home State Attorney General, Xavier Becerra:

AG Xavier Becerra gave the Dems' Spanish response to the State of the Union.
California got its State of the Union licks in on Tuesday, as Attorney General Xavier Becerra delivered the Democrats’ nationally televised Spanish retort to President Donald Trump’s speech. 

  • Becerra, son of immigrants from Mexico, spoke from his Sacramento high school alma mater, C.K. McClatchy High School, which also produced California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Our team will continue to assess the aftermath as we await the result of on-going negotiations as the Washington Post provided this analysis earlier in the week:


Trump presents a false choice between investigations and prosperity in State of the Union
Trump slams 'ridiculous partisan investigations'
THE BIG IDEA: During his State of the Union on Jan. 30, 1974, seven months before he resigned, Richard Nixon appealed to Congress to stop probing him and his reelection campaign. “I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end,” he said. “One year of Watergate is enough.”
Forty-five years later, speaking on Tuesday night from the same spot, President Trump warned House Democrats in ominous terms against using their new subpoena power to investigate him. “An economic miracle is taking place in the United States — and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations,” Trump said, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi over his left shoulder. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. … We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction.”
What the president presented, of course, is a false choice. The economy boomed in the late 1990s during a period of peace and prosperity as House Republicans investigated, and impeached, Bill Clinton. Trump didn’t seem too worried about the impact of his birther crusade on the nation’s health when Barack Obama was president. When they had gavels during the Obama years, House Republicans believed they had a constitutional imperative to conduct vigorous oversight of the executive branch.
Many headlines this morning, just as in the previous two years, emphasize Trump’s plea for both parties to come together. But the president’s call for an end to the “political stalemate” last night sounded hollow to Democrats just eight weeks after he declared that he would be “proud” to shut down the government to get a border wall. This brinkmanship led to the longest partial government shutdown in American history and continues to create uncertainty as a new funding deadline looms on Feb. 15.
Nixon called for end to Watergate investigation in State of the Union address
-- Teleprompter Trump never lasts. Twitter Trump always returns. The president erratically jumped between the discordant roles of unifier and disrupter. There weren’t great signposts or transitions between topics, which often made the 82-minute address sound as though it had been written by committee. (There can be no doubt, though, that Stephen Miller was the main author.)
“Just eight hours earlier, Trump trashed Democrats — as well as ... John McCain — at a freewheeling lunch with television news anchors,” Phil Rucker and Toluse Olorunnipa report. “The president remarked that the late senator’s final book, a capstone to his life in public service, ‘bombed.’ He assailed Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) as a ‘nasty son of a bitch,’ ridiculed former vice president Joe Biden as ‘dumb’ for his history of gaffes, and accused Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) of ‘choking like a dog’ at a news conference where he denied being in a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page.”
-- Looking to 2020, Trump is again singing his greatest hits from 2016. He’s like a band that struggles to play new material because the fans always want to hear the classics. He opened with paeans to unity and harked back to inspiring examples of American greatness, but he got elected promising disruption. The meat of the speech was devoted to the issues that animated his upset victory in the GOP primaries and then over Hillary Clinton. And he kept going back to the set that worked: protectionism, nativism and isolationism. His calls for rebuilding infrastructure and lowering prescription drug prices were also staples of his stump speech as a candidate.
Trump is ever mindful of delivering for his base. He mentioned early on that he’s delivered for “the blue-collar workers” who supported him. Referring to NAFTA as a “catastrophe,” he name-checked the 2020 battlegrounds of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania that will likely determine whether he secures a second term. He contrasted “the working class” and “the political class.”
Trump's State of the Union speech, in three minutes
-- The president who spoke of “American carnage” in his inaugural address showed again that his brand will always be “crisis.”
Trump did not declare a national emergency to allow for the unilateral, and possibly unlawful, construction of the wall he has promised Mexico would pay for. But he kept the door open to it, as he employed characteristically dark rhetoric to announce that he’s deployed more troops to stop the “onslaught” from a caravan of migrants.
Our graphics team visualized the words Trump used last night that no president has ever before uttered during a State of the Union. Among them: bloodthirsty, sadistic, venomous and chilling.
“The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security and financial well-being of all Americans,” Trump declared. “We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens.”
Fact-checking President Trump's State of the Union
-- The speech “once again was chock-full of stretched facts and dubious figures,” write fact-checkers Glenn Kessler, Sal Rizzo and Meg Kelly. “Many of these claims have been fact-checked repeatedly, yet the president persists in using them.”
Their story identifies 30 comments that weren’t correct, and many relate to immigration: “By any available measure, there is no new security crisis at the border. … Apprehensions of people trying to cross the southern border peaked most recently at 1.6 million in 2000 and have been in decline since, falling to just under 400,000 in fiscal 2018. The decline is partly because of technology upgrades; tougher penalties in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks; a decline in migration rates from Mexico; and a sharp increase in the number of Border Patrol officers. …
“Trump exaggerates the link between immigration and crime; almost all research shows legal and illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the native-born population. … The consensus among economic research studies is that the impact of immigration is primarily a net positive for the U.S. economy and to workers overall, especially over the long term.”
-- “Trump’s comments on illegal immigration elicited groans, leading Pelosi to raise her hand in an attempt to quiet her members. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a former Somali refugee, listened while holding her head in her hands,” Elise Viebeck and Paul Kane note.
What Trump said about foreign policy in his 2019 State of the Union, in 3 minutes
-- Like other presidents who have faced divided government, including Nixon, Trump has devoted more attention to foreign policy as his term has gone on. Obama did the same thing in 2011 after Republicans won the House. There’s less room for big domestic policy gains, so the focus becomes more international.
He touted negotiations with the Taliban to seek a peaceful settlement that would allow the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan. Imagine how apoplectic certain conservatives would have been if Obama had spoken to Congress about opening a dialogue with the Taliban.
He also announced that he will have a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on Feb. 27 and 28. “If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea,” Trump said, dubiously. “Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one.”
-- Trump also sought to juice his standing with social conservatives by talking in stark terms about abortion. He no longer has a looming Supreme Court vacancy to keep evangelicals in line. Instead, he called for new national restrictions on women’s reproductive rights during the third trimester.
Trump highlights women's electoral gains
-- The moment that will wind up being remembered most vividly years from now came when Trump engaged with the dozens of Democratic congresswomen who were wearing white. “All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before,” the president said, “and exactly one century after the Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.” Wearing white, the color of the suffragists, the new female members high-fived one another and started a chant of “U-S-A.” If you were making a documentary about female candidates in 2018, it would be a fitting final scene as the credits role.
-- Hey, big spender: Trump didn’t even make a rhetorical nod to the need for fiscal responsibility. The ballooning national debt will be a core element of Trump’s legacy. It’s a story line that, at least for now, continues to be under-covered. But Trump did not mention the deficit or the debt once.
When the president previewed the speech for a group of supporters on Monday night, one of his allies asked whether he would discuss the deficit. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney interjected. “Nobody cares,” Mulvaney said, per ABC News.
Instead, Trump called for major new spending to eradicate HIV and develop new cancer treatments for children. Those are laudable goals, for sure, but he never talked about how he’s going to pay for them. Instead, he boasted about cutting taxes, which has reduced revenue and forced the Treasury to essentially borrow more money from places like China. All of it will need to be paid back – with interest.
Trump also indirectly warned that the United States might engage in a costly nuclear buildup after withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.“Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can’t — in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far,” Trump said, not giving a price tag.
Unlike previous Republican presidents, Trump neglected to mention entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Other big issues Trump didn’t touch included climate change, transgender rights, gun control, voting rights, forcible family separations and Puerto Rican hurricane recovery.
Abrams: 'Voter suppression is real'
-- But instant polls conducted after the speech showed that a significant majority of viewers approved of Trump’s address. A CBS News poll found 76 percent of Americans who tuned in approved of what they saw, compared with 24 percent who disapproved. A CNN-SSRS poll showed the audience skewed Republican, with the viewership representing the most partisan tilt in any similar CNN instant poll dating to 2001. “Viewers were roughly 17 points more likely than the general public to identify as Republicans, and were largely fans of the President,” CNN’s Jennifer Agiesta reports. “In pre-speech surveys, 61% of speech-watchers said they approved of the job he was doing as President, compared with 40% in CNN's latest representative survey of all American adults.” 

The latest news and analysis from
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
The Rhetorical and Substantive Limits of Donald Trump's American Greatness
The president talks a good game about driving into the future, but his eyes are glued to the rear-view mirror.
By Nick Gillespie
Trump Said He Wants Legal Immigrants To Come 'in the Largest Numbers Ever.' Really?
The president was off script, and probably hasn't checked with his ultra-restrictionist White House aide Stephen Miller.
By Shikha Dalmia
What Was Missing From Trump's State of the Union? America's $1 Trillion Deficit
Or the $22 trillion (and counting) national debt. Or the entitlement programs that will continue adding to them.
By Eric Boehm
Rep. Justin Amash Highlights 'Two Outstanding Lines' From Trump's SOTU
But the Michigan libertarian’s reaction wasn't all positive.
By Joe Setyon

When it Comes To Debt, Politicians and Academics Are All Like, ‘What, Me Worry?’
From OMB head Mick Mulvaney to former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, nobody cares about spending money we don't have on things we don't need. Big mistake.
By Nick Gillespie

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Notations From the Grid (Special Thursday Edition): #Brexit

The Brexit Drama is grappling Britain between the backstop and the agitation by the Hard line Brexiteers.  As the March deadline approaches, our team decided to look back on the Brexit Years--images are worth trillions of Words as the Economist @KalToons reflects:

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Notations From The Grid (#SOTU Edition) : @trevornoah reflects

Notations On Our World (Special @POTUS Edition): On the Eve of #SOTU2019

As we went to press with this edition of Notations,  we were awaiting the formal State of the Union by President Trump and the Formal Democratic Response by Stacey Abrams of Georgia.   We also understand that Senator Bernie Sanders will have his own response.   This is as a response will be forthcoming on behalf of Hispanic Americans by the Attorney General of California, Xavier Becerra.

On the eve of the State of the Union, Steve Rattner shared some insights on the numbers behind the First Two Years as Negotiations continue on the Wall with the potential of another Government Shutdown in Sight:

This is as Axios unveiled a major leak from the White House on the President's Schedule with 70% of his time being spent on Executive Time with push back from the White House Staff:

Please note this courtesy of the White House:

1600 Daily
The White House • February 4, 2019

Meet the special guests for tomorrow’s State of the Union

Today, President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announced the special guests who will join them at the U.S. Capitol tomorrow night.

This year’s guests come from all different walks of life, and each has an incredible story to tell. Many have overcome exceptional hardship. Some have served our country in the Armed Forces or in law enforcement. Others have endured personal tragedy because of America’s broken immigration system.

No matter their story, each guest has something important in common: They represent the very best of America.

They’re also resilient. Take Roy James. After working for 26 years at a sawmill in Vicksburg, Mississippi, he was told the facility would close its doors last May. His family had lived in town for generations and wanted to keep it that way. Thankfully, Vicksburg was designated an Opportunity Zone in President Trump’s tax reform law. The plant reopened, and Roy was rehired to oversee the whole facility. 

Or Matthew Charles. After leaving the Army, Matthew fell into a life of crime. Arrested for selling drugs in 1995, he found God while serving his sentence and became a mentor and GED course instructor for fellow inmates. After more than two decades behind bars, on January 3, he became the first prisoner released as a result of the First Step Act.

Meet each of the special guests.