Shame!! Joe Biden administration defends Trump decision to delist gray wolves

Lee Heidhues 11.13.20921

I thought the Biden Administration has a goal to protect endangered gray wolves.

It is thoroughly disheartening to read that the Biden administration is in Federal Court defending Trump’s decision to end endangered species protection for these animals which have roamed North America for centuries.

This is today’s example of the foxes running the chicken house. Translation. The all talk and no action Biden administration is advocating the slaughter of a protected species.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

Excerpted from Courthouse News Service 11.12.2021

Conservationists urged a federal judge Friday in Oakland, CA to overturn a Trump administration rule that ended endangered species protections for gray wolves, arguing the decision was based on a flawed legal interpretation and junk science.

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“A decision that an already listed species is no longer listable must be based on a valid reason, and Fish and Wildlife doesn’t have a valid reason here,” Earthjustice lawyer Kristen Boyles said during a virtual court hearing Friday.

The dispute stems from the Trump administration’s decision in October last year to end Endangered Species Act protections for most gray wolves in the lower 48 states, an outcome critics say was based on flawed analyses and a failure to consider the best available evidence.

More than 6,000 gray wolves roam prairies and mountainous regions in the United States today, a population that wildlife officials said last year “exceeded all conservation goals for recovery.” But groups like Defenders of Wildlife, which filed one of three federal lawsuits challenging the decision, say gray wolves still face serious threats to their survival, especially as states like Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan authorize new trophy hunting seasons.

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During a Wisconsin wolf-hunting season this past February, at least 218 gray wolves were killed in a 48-hour time span, about 100 more than the legal limit. The number of wolves in Wisconsin declined about 30% in April 2021 from one year earlier, according to a peer-reviewed study cited in court briefs.

Despite fierce opposition by conservations groups, President Joe Biden’s administration has defended the decision to delist gray wolves, a move that had reportedly been planned for years before it was finalized under President Donald Trump.

Representing conservation groups, Boyles said that reasoning contradicts the text of the final rule published on Nov. 3, 2020, which states the delisting decision was based on analyses of threats to the population, not a finding that gray wolves are no longer eligible for protection.

“Fish and Wildlife cannot simply designate and then delist a distinct population segment,” Boyles said. “To delist based on a finding that a distinct population no longer qualifies as a species.”

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Boyle said the agency has a long history of misapplying the law, citing its prior attempts to end protections for certain gray wolf population segments in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011, all of which were rejected by federal courts.

Boyle urged U.S. District Judge Jeffery White, a George W. Bush appointee overseeing the case, to abolish the delisting rule and order the agency to reevaluate its decision based on the best available evidence and science.

After an hour of debate, Judge White took the arguments under submission.

Groups suing to restore Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves include Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Oregon Wild, Humane Society of the United States, WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, Cascadia Wildlands, Environmental Protections Information Center, Klamath Forest Alliance, Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center, The Lands Council, Wildlands Network, Kettle Range Conservation Group, Natural Resources Defense Council, and other groups that intervened in the lawsuits to support the plaintiffs’ position.

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Defendants who intervened in the case to oppose gray wolf protections include the National Rifle Association, Safari Club International, Michigan Bear Hunters Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Sportsmens Alliance Foundation, Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association and the state of Utah.

Judge asked to restore endangered species protections for gray wolves

USA punching its ticket to World Cup after beating Mexico in chippy match

Lee Heidhues 11.12.2021

Team USA and Mexico played a very aggressive and physical match before a packed house on a cold night in Cincinnati.

Things got very tense in the second half as the referee assessed several Yellow cards against both teams and one Red card against Team USA member Miles Robinson.  Even  American goal keeper Zack Steffen was handed a Yellow card when he dashed across the pitch to join in one of the  second half scrums.

Christian Pulisic scored the first goal in the 73rd minute when he headed in a goal which sent the USA fans into a state of flag waving delirium.

When the match ended Team USA prevailed 2-0 and looks like a solid bet to be a participant in the Qatar World Cup in 2022.

The Guardian 11.12.2021

For the third time this year Concacaf’s fiercest rivals faced each other. On Friday night in Cincinnati the stakes were at their highest, with crucial World Cup qualifying points on the line. And, as ever when the two neighbors meet, so was pride, dignity, and the future of both teams.

For an hour before kickoff on a frigid November night, the rain poured down. Fans in the sold-out stadium chanted “U-S-A” and “Mex-i-co” back and forth. Fireworks marked the start. The teams took to the field in a familiar formation: 4-3-3 on either side.

Mexico had experience, an aging staff and a formidable front line. The US had two 18-year olds, potential, athleticism and speed.Mexico dominated possession in the opening minutes of the first-half, and their pass completion eclipsed that of the United States. As the clock ticked toward half-time, the US fought their way to parity in possession. They also took more shots, and created far more chances.

Team USA VI 11.12.2021

But for all the improvements, they couldn’t finish their chances. They didn’t capitalize on the set-pieces they won, many of which were thanks to Timothy Weah and Yunus Musah moving the ball forward from the right. Meanwhile, Mexico’s threatening forward line poked holes in the US defense. Zack Steffen, starting in goal over Matt Turner, needed to be at his best and came up huge with a pair of big saves.

In the second-half, the USA had the possession and momentum. The match became scrappier, and the fouls and shoving that are often a defining characteristic of this rivalry started to break out.

Intensity reached a fever pitch just past the 60th minute when Brenden Aaronson was flattened. A scuffle ensued and Steffen, Weston McKennie and Luis Rodriguez were booked as a result. Aaronson was soon subbed off and replaced by Christian Pulisic, who ran on the field to the uproarious approval of a fanbase that hadn’t seen their star since his injury in the September qualifiers.

Within five minutes of his introduction, Pulisic provided the answer to his team’s inability to finish chances. A beautiful run and well-timed cross from Weah found Pulisic in front of goal and he knocked home the header. The decibels from the home crowd increased and the US upped their tempo. Eleven minutes later, McKennie’s cool finish ended Mexico’s hopes of a comeback. The crowd sang out the familiar Dos A Cero chant, a long-time fixture of this rivalry – and World Cup qualifiers in Ohio.

It was a deserved victory for Gregg Berhalter’s team. They ended the match with 18 shots to Mexico’s eight. They also created more chances, won more challenges and again strengthened the argument that the US are the superior footballing nation of the two at the moment. The one blemish for the USMNT came when Miles Robinson was sent off after a second booking in the final minutes. Both he and McKennie will now miss Tuesday’s qualifier against Jamaica through suspension, the latter’s coming after picking up his second booking of the qualifiers.

Mexico, meanwhile, have questions to answer, and have lost all three of their matches against the United States in 2021. The Americans’ victory put them top of the Concacaf qualifying table – both the US and Mexico have 14 points from seven games, but the USMNT lead due to their superior head-to-head record. Canada occupy the third automatic qualifying spot after they beat Costa Rica on Friday night.

The US can now head to Kingston for Tuesday’s match with heads high and their tickets to Qatar looking ever more secure.

Anti-vaxxer loonies in San Francisco. “An organic diet feels like enough protection”

Lee Heidhues 11.11.2021

The loonies and crazies in the anti-vaxx brigades have landed in San Francisco.

One likes to think that “progressive” San Francisco is immune from the madness being spewed by the social media MAGA brain addled hordes of anti-vaxxers.

It’s a disconcerting and scary reality that the mob of semi-literate luddites, losers, clowns and morons have established a beachhead in this historic City.

It’s time to rise up and educate these mindless nihilists. This loathsome anti common sense behavior must be called out for what it is.  A Clear and Present Danger to the majority of intelligent people.

Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle 11.11.2021

A vehicle struck five people — two California Highway Patrol officers and three Golden Gate Bridge workers — on the bridge Thursday as they attempted to control a large crowd of protesters who were rallying against vaccine mandates.

Christine Rich of Sacramento said she attended the rally to support people’s right to choose what kinds of treatments they use to fend off illness. For Rich, an organic diet feels like enough protection, she said.

“I’m actually trying to catch COVID so that I can develop the antibodies,” she said.

A couple hundred people were at the demonstration on the San Francisco end of the bridge, angry at and skeptical of authorities who say they need to be vaccinated to do their jobs.

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Rich and others at the protest repeated debunked conspiracy theories about the vaccines, their effectiveness and the coronavirus itself. The federally approved COVID-19 vaccines, Rich said, are a “bioweapon” that the government is trying to activate by putting it in people’s arms, she said.

Leigh Dundas, an attorney and anti-vaccine advocate, helped organize Thursday’s rally at the Golden Gate Bridge and said it was the culmination of a four-day nationwide walkout among employees of businesses or industries that have mandated that their workers get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Conditioning your job in a jab that is still experimental … is not just unconstitutional, it’s unconscionable,” Dundas told The Chronicle.

She and other rally-goers denounced COVID-19 vaccines and mandates as ways to control the population, bankroll pharmaceutical companies or shape the country’s politics.

City Hall Protest I 5.9.2020

Many carried signs bearing slogans such as “Show us the science” and “Our kids are not lab rats.” Some inaccurately compared vaccine mandates to communist or Nazi policies.

At about 6 p.m., two CHP officers and three Golden Gate Bridge personnel were struck by a vehicle in the traffic lane just north of the toll plaza, located northbound on the way out of San Francisco, CHP Off. Andrew Barclay told The Chronicle. Two CHP officers and one bridge representative were taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Barclay said. The incident appeared to be accidental. The driver stayed at the scene and was cooperating with the investigation, Barclay said.

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Climate friendly? Automaking countries — China USA Germany— not on board.

Lee Heidhues 11.10.2021

How can Planet Earth ever hope to ween itself from toxic fossil fuels when the leading industrial nations refuse to get with the program?

The refusal of these nations to work towards a zero emissions in their production of cars gives the lie to all the rhetoric about a cleaner environment.

Just look at all the glitzy car ads on American television.

Don’t cast all blame on the government and car manufacturers who happily follow the will of the citizens and watch their profits soar.

It’s the car addicted consumers who equally share in the guilt. Motorists absolutely refuse to look at alternatives to the environment killing automobile.

Laziness, inertia, sloth are what drives most people to continue driving themselves to environmental oblivion.

Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 11.10.2021

Around 30 countries, cities and car manufacturers are planning a total shift to emission-free vehicles by 2040. But a number of major auto making countries — including China, the US and Germany — are not on board.

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Climate-friendly mobility was one of the priorities of the UN climate conference in Glasgow according to this year’s COP host, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The participants should focus on “coal, cars, cash and trees,” he said.

Statements have already been made about coal and trees. Today cars are under the microscope as 24 countries, six major auto manufacturers as well as some cities and investors set the tone at a day dedicated to transportation.

“Together, we will work towards all sales of new cars and vans being zero emission globally by 2040, and by no later than 2035 in leading markets,” said their statement published in Glasgow. They want to “support efforts to achieve the road transport breakthrough.”

Among the automakers who signed on are Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz, the Swedish manufacturer Volvo, China’s BYD, Jaguar Land Rover, a unit of India’s Tata Motors and the American automakers Ford and General Motors (GM).

In addition to the UK, EU countries like Denmark, Poland, Austria and Croatia as well as a number of other industrialized states including Israel and Canada joined the agreement. Emerging and developing countries such as Turkey, Paraguay, Kenya and Rwanda are also taking part.

The US state of California and cities like Barcelona, ​​Florence and New York are also involved. Additionally, companies that invest in the auto industry or have their own large vehicle fleets, such as utility company E.ON, Ikea and Unilever, signed the declaration.

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Cars, cars and more cars

Jennifer Eison, campaign manager for US NGO Action for the Climate Emergency welcomed the declaration.

Eison added that it was disappointing that the US had not signed up to the pledge.

“I think it’s great to hear that there are people who are committing to finally ending their use of fossil fuels,” she told DW. “We’ve known for a very long time that fossil fuels are driving climate change. And so to be able to have so many countries to commit to that, I think is bold and the type of action that we need right now.”

Political Coup in San Francisco? DA Chesa Boudin. The whole world’s watching

Lee Heidhues 11.9.2021

It was two long years ago today that Chesa Boudin was declared winner in the fiercely conducted election for San Francisco District Attorney.

Fast forward to today.

The Trump MAGA crowd fueled by 1.4MM, much of it right wing PAC dark money, a legion of mercenaries paid on average $17.08 per signature and shamefully aided by San Francisco pols who have resented his election, progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin will face a recall election on June 7, 2022.

This is all about the incestuous insider politics of San Francisco. Shamelessly so called moderate Democrats are allowing themselves to be used by the most reactionary elements in America.

The Recall must be smashed to send a message to the world from San Francisco.

San Francisco must let these legions of local and imported collaborators know their treachery will not go unpunished.

DA Boudin ran on a “progressive” platform of changing the way the Courts and cops look at Justice in America. The obscenely reactionary San Francisco Police Officers Association spent over $700,000 in 2019 to defeat candidate Boudin. The POA has worked non stop to destroy Chesa Boudin since he assumed office.

Despite the unceasing mainstream media attacks, opposition from the POA and other political groups, Chesa has stayed true to his campaign commitments during his nearly two years in office.

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DA Chesa Boudin being sworn in by Mayor London Breed as his wife Dr. Valerie Block looks on

Beginning on Day One on January 8, 2020 when DA Boudin was inaugurated at the Herbst Theater across the street from City Hall, the political knives have been unsheathed. Finally, the reactionary forces have found their mark.

Two of the leading proponents of the Recall are close allies of Mayor London Breed.

Andrea Shorter was a major figure in Breed’s 2018 election. Mary Jung, a Moderate Democrat, was formerly Chair of the Democratic County Central Committee until she was ousted by more Progressive elements in 2016.

London Breed has yet to take a position on the DA Recall. It’s fair to say she is still smarting over Chesa’s defeat of her hand picked successor interim DA Suzy Loftus. A former legal counsel in the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department Loftus was handed the “interim” title by Breed three weeks before the November 5, 2019 election after DA George Gascon resigned to take the job of DA in Los Angeles.

It will be all hands on deck to fight for the “progressive” soul of San Francisco. The whole world’s watching.

New York Intelligencier 11.9.2021

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, one of the nation’s most prominent progressive prosecutors, is officially going to have to defend his seat in a recall election next June.

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DA Boudin in San Francisco Superior Court

Boudin — the son of a Weather Underground member whose sentence was commuted by former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in August — is the latest target in the recall fever sweeping California. As New York’s Ed Kilgore explains, the process to initiate a Golden State recall is pretty easy to execute, requiring as little as 10 percent of the number of voters in the last election for the office in question; recall efforts serve as an outlet for the intense backlash to pandemic restrictions; and Republicans see the exercise as one of their better chances to unseat a Democrat in an overwhelmingly blue state. In September, Governor Gavin Newsom beat a recall effort by a 30-point margin; the entire operation was estimated to cost $450 million.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Department of Elections certified a petition to add a special recall election to the midterm primary held on June 7, after organizers hoping to remove Boudin delivered 83,000 signatures in favor of the recall — well over the required 51,325-person threshold.

If voters do want to get rid of Boudin, San Francisco Mayor London Breed would appoint an interim DA until the regular election in 2023.

$1,400,000 goes a long way – Mercenary signature gatherer collects his bounty

In 2019, Boudin won by less than 3,000 votes in the second round of a ranked-choice election. After campaigning on police accountability and the decriminalization of poverty, he has faced adversaries on his right flank, as fears of rising crime have resulted in calls for a traditional crackdown.

“We don’t need two public defenders,” public safety advocate Andrea Shorter told New York in August. “And right now, we have two public defenders: one that’s the public defender, and one that is a public defender in the district attorney’s office.”

50 years later ‘Zeppelin IV’ as viewed through the Wall Street Journal lens.

Lee Heidhues 11.8.2021

Who  would have thought that the Wall Street Journal could publish such an entertaining and interesting piece on the 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin IV with its classic song Stairway to Heaven.

It goes to show that even these arch capitalists have rock ‘n roll in their bones.

What were Liz and I doing on November 8, 1971?

Liz and I were in Algeciras, Spain enroute to Tangier, Morocco. That was our Stairway to Heaven as we were concluding a two year journey through Europe and the Mediterranean.

Shortly thereafter we made the fateful decision to return to Amerika. Big mistake.

Excerpted from Wall Street Journal – Andy Kessler – 11.8.2021

“It’s been a long time since” . . . 1971. Fifty years ago on Nov. 8, the album “Led Zeppelin IV” was released, which included the eight-minute classic “Stairway to Heaven.” It was a year of transition from turmoil to modernity, a songwriter’s paradise. And yes, I’m a sucker for anniversaries.

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Back in 1971 we listened to music on LP records—for the uninitiated, 20 or so minutes of music pressed into vinyl, spun at 33 1/3 rpm and amplified from a scratchy needle to giant speakers. Without TikTok, my generation wasted time poring over album-cover art in search of hidden meaning and reading the liner notes printed on the album sleeves.

More legacy-defining albums were released in 1971 than in any other year by my count. As proof, let’s play a game: I name the album, you name the artist, and no googling. “Sticky Fingers,” “Who’s Next,” “L.A. Woman,” “Aqualung,” “Tapestry,” “What’s Going On,” “Fragile,” “Imagine,” “At Fillmore East,” “Madman across the Water,” “Pearl,” “Anticipation,” “Shaft,” “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” “The Concert for Bangladesh.” How many did you get? Now add the Grateful Dead’s first gold album, and of course “Led Zeppelin IV,” sometimes known as Zoso.

Nineteen seventy-one is still considered “the ’60s,” which started when JFK was assassinated and ended with Watergate. The antiwar Democratic Convention riots defined chaotic 1968. Woodstock embodied 1969. In 1970, the Beatles disbanded and Apollo 13 proved failure wasn’t an option. But what was it about 1971?

The sound of Vietnam protests and smell of tear gas still hung in the air, along with a hippy-dippy free-love ethos perfectly parodied by the TV show “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” which ran until 1973. Although Richard Nixon was in the White House, there were hints of modernity. U.S. astronauts landed on the moon six times between 1969 and 1972. Nineteen seventy-one was the perfect segue between past despair and future hope and dreams, which were sadly delayed by the inflation and smog-filled skies of the 1970s.

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Led Zeppelin in their halcyon days

So what did “Stairway to Heaven” even mean? Trippy lyrics are usually over my head, but I’ve had 50 years to think about this song. “There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold.” The obvious interpretation is that you can’t buy your way into heaven, but that’s too easy. “Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven” captured the malaise of relatively immobile times. “There’s still time to change the road you’re on,” meant changing from Timothy Leary’s “Turn on, tune in, drop out” to “Plug in, turn out, ramp up.” And especially relevant given today’s dictionary hijackers: “ ’Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.”

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Led Zeppelin first LP released January 12, 1969

The final bridge of the song ends with “When all are one and one is all . . . to be a rock and not to roll.” Maybe that is about the dreamy collectivism still percolating in 1971, not unlike today.

Top photo:


John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin performing in Hiroshima, Japan, Sept. 27, 1971.

Careless cops behind the wheel. Mountain lion struck by police car

Lee Heidhues 11.7.2021

Not only are some cops a danger to people of color and marginalized citizens.

Turns out the cops behind the wheel present a clear and present danger to California’s protected mountain lion population.

The cop who hit the mountain lion needs to be declawed.

Hopefully the mountain lion is alright.


The increasing number of pedestrians, cyclists and now a mountain lion hit by careless drivers is growing to epidemic proportions. Something must be done to stop the carnage on our streets and roadways.

San Francisco Chronicle 11.7.2021

A mountain lion bounding across a suburban highway in San Mateo was struck by an oncoming police patrol vehicle late Saturday, officials said.

It was unclear how badly the animal was wounded. When the officer got out of the vehicle, the mountain lion was gone, San Mateo police said.

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The San Mateo officer reported hitting the animal about 10:25 p.m. Saturday on Highway 92 near the Hillsdale Boulevard exit, an area with a mix of suburban homes and open space. He was driving east and the mountain lion was running across the lanes of traffic, heading left to right, according to a department press release.

The officer tried to stop before hitting the mountain lion, and the impact damaged the patrol vehicle, leaving “patches of animal hair,” police said.

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Mountain lions live throughout much of California and multiple sightings have been reported this year in the Bay Area.

A mountain lion spotted near an elementary school last month in Sonoma County put several campuses on lockdown while authorities trapped and tranquilized the animal. In late September, residents of Daly City were urged to be cautious outside after a mountain lion was spotted prowling city streets.


Klara and the Sun. A Cautionary tale about good intentions in the world of AI

Lee Heidhues 11.6.2021

Each year Barack Obama provides a list of his favorite books from the preceding year. On the 2020 list is Klara and the Sun.  After waiting several weeks for it to become available at the San Francisco Public Library I became thoroughly engrossed from beginning to end.

The story by Nobel Prize winning writer Kazuo Ishiguro is very personal,  heartfelt and a warning about the dangers of artificial intelligence. Something I have thought about since the release of the original Blade Runner in 1982.

40 years later AI has become a part of everyday life. Klara and the Sun tells a story about AI and its relationship with humanity in a very down to earth and thought provoking fashion.

It was well worth the wait for the novel.

Excerpted from The New York Review of Books 10.14.2021

Completed just before the pandemic, the novel Klara and the Sun is eerily prescient, taking place in a future where jobs are in decline, social conflict is on the rise, and children increasingly stay at home, taking virtual classes over their “oblongs.” It depicts isolating times of technologically mediated distances and dwindling material resources.

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Kazuo Ishiguro

Enter Kazuo Ishiguro’s eponymous narrator, Klara, a solar-powered robot programmed to be an Artificial Friend (AF) to a human child.

When Klara and the Sun begins, Klara has not yet found her human. Or rather her human has not yet found her: “It’s for the customer to choose the AF,” chides the manager of the store where Klara and other robots are sold, “never the other way round.”

This rebuke comes after Klara refuses, Bartleby-like, to engage yet another interested buyer—a demurral, the manager correctly suspects, based on Klara’s belief that she has already promised herself to a fourteen-year-old girl named Josie. “Children make promises all the time,” the manager informs Klara. “But more often than not, the child never comes back. Or worse, the child comes back and ignores the poor AF who’s waited, and instead chooses another.”

This becomes one of many lessons Klara picks up during her time inside the store. Unlike Ishiguro’s other narrators, who carry the historical trauma of, say, war or fascism, Klara begins as a blank slate. Here are the novel’s opening lines:

When we were new, Rosa and I were mid-store, on the magazines table side, and could see through more than half of the window. So we were able to watch the outside—the office workers hurrying by, the taxis, the runners, the tourists, Beggar Man and his dog, the lower part of the RPO Building.

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It’s for the customer to choose the Artificial Friend.

Kazuo Ishiguro was a social worker before he was a novelist.

Between 1979 and 1982, he worked at West London Cyrenians, a charity that provided support and accommodations to the homeless. While there he applied, rather on a whim, to a new creative writing program at the University of East Anglia. Upon graduating a year later, Ishiguro returned to Cyrenians. He tried to wake up early and write for ninety minutes before work, but found this increasingly difficult as his job grew more demanding. Luckily an editor at Faber had already bought his first novel. Published in 1982, A Pale View of Hills was a notable success, earning him a Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize and a place on Granta’s list of Best Young British Novelists. Then twenty-eight years old, Ishiguro quit his day job in order to write full time.

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Though Ishiguro has said in more than one interview that working with the homeless influenced his fiction, he has also been careful not to write about his social work directly. This is in part because, as he admitted a few years ago, “I always felt vaguely guilty that I learned so much [then] that helped me in my fiction writing.”

Yet social work is an implicit theme throughout his fiction. From his first novel to his eighth and latest, Klara and the Sun, Ishiguro considers what it means to care for and attend to others, and what happens when that attention gets abused, withdrawn, or distorted. The emotional labor of care—and care institutionalized as labor—forms a repeating central drama around which Ishiguro’s plots turn, regardless of the genre he is writing in.

In The Remains of the Day (1989) and The Unconsoled (1995), the intense devotion of butlers and bellboys to their work eclipses what might have been more meaningful personal relationships with family and lovers. Christopher Banks, the detective in When We Were Orphans (2000), forgoes romantic fulfillment in a misguided commitment to the abstract cause of, as he puts it, “trying to save the world from ruin.”

Ishiguro’s most explicit depiction of the welfare state, in Never Let Me Go (2005), in which young clones briefly act as “carers” before donating their organs to ailing humans, imagines care work to be nihilistic at worst and weakly compensatory at best.

His novels stage the contradictions between society and self, collective labor and individualist pursuits, feeling for a group and feeling for yourself. They are cautionary tales about good intentions. This is no less true of Klara and the Sun, Ishiguro’s first book since he won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature.

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Kazuo Ishiguro;  by Harriet Lee-Merrion

Portrait of the Robot as a Young Woman

American Justice. 11 whites 1 black juror in trial of murdered Georgia black man

Lee Heidhues 11.5.2021

The shocking February 2020 shotgun murder of 25 year old black man Ahmaud Arbery by three whites while he was jogging in a predominantly white neighborhood shocked the world.  

The accused killers attempted a citizen’s arrest of Arbery and ruthlessly gunned him down in the process.

Arbery’s murder was temporarily lost in the chaos and demonstrations following murder of George Floyd in Minnesota in May 2020 by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The ex-cop was convicted and now sits in prison in Minnesota

Now Arbery’s killers are in the Dock in the Glynn County courthouse. It’s shocking that even though the County is 26 percent black, there is only one black person on the jury.

Will Arbery’s family see justice done in Georgia?

Ahmaud Arbery trial IV 11.5.2021

Excerpted from The Guardian 11.5.2021

Prosecutors on Friday said the three white men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia last year placed the 25-year-old Black man under a sustained “attack” and made a series of “assumptions and driveway decisions” that led to shooting him dead.

Ahmaud Arbery 5.7.2020
Ahmaud Arbery – Murdered February 2020

Lawyers played video showing Travis McMichael opening fire three times on Arbery, who was unarmed, as trial gets underway.

During highly charged opening statements in the closely watched trial, now infamous cellphone video of the shooting was played to the court. Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, broke down in tears.

The video shows Travis McMichael opening fire three times on Arbery, who was unarmed, with a Remington 12-gauge pump-action shotgun.

“This was an attack on Mr Arbery for five minutes, and the only thing Mr Arbery did was try to run away,” lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski told the jury of 11 white members and one Black member.

The three defendants have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, aggravated assault and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, in a case thrust into the global spotlight.

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Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski argues a Motion during Trial in Brunswick, Georgia

During detailed opening arguments, Dunikoski told the jury Gregory McMichael informed police after the shooting that he called out to Arbery during the pursuit, “Stop or I’ll blow your fucking head off”, and also told police Arbery had been “trapped like a rat” during their five-minute chase.

The shooting happened in February 2020, on a quiet street in rural south Georgia, as McMichael, his father and co-defendant Gregory McMichael and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, attempted to block Arbery, who was on foot, by pursuing him in two vehicles.

Arbery, who was known to go jogging in the area, was described by prosecutors as “an avid runner”. The jury was told that evidence would show that the McMichaels had wrongly assumed the 25-year-old was attempting a burglary at a house under construction in the Satilla Shores neighbourhood.

Judge Timothy Walmsley swore in the disproportionately white jury on Friday. Although Glynn county, where the court is located, has an African American populationof 26%, the jury pool was whittled down until only one Black person was seated. Defense attorneys struck 11 Black potential jurors, an outcome the judge criticized. Abery’s mother called the imbalance in the jury “devastating”.

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Ghislaine Maxwell pre trial American jail conditions a crime against humanity

Conditions in American jails and prisons are  beyong disgusting.  Conditions in American penal institutions rival the most vile and cruel incarceration sites anywhere on Planet Earth. 

The conditions under which Ghislaine Maxwell have been subjected to the past 16 months make it impossible for her to obtain a fair trial. She is so psychologically and mentally beaten down. Her pre trial imprisonment has been a form of torture.

Her treatment by prison authorities could be considered a crime against humanity.

The Guardian 11.4.2021

The British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is subjected to such invasive surveillance in jail that it “rivals scenes of Dr Hannibal Lecter’s incarceration” from The Silence of the Lambs, her lawyer has argued in making yet another request for bail pending her trial.

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Maxwell is charged in Manhattan federal court for allegedly procuring teenage girls for the disgraced wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein. Opening arguments in Maxwell’s case are scheduled to begin on 29 November.

“Maxwell’s conditions of detention for the past 16 months continue to be reprehensible and utterly inappropriate for [a] woman on the cusp of turning 60 with no criminal record or history of violence. It is unwarranted, unrelenting, and utterly inappropriate,” her lead attorney, Bobbi C Sternheim, wrote in court papers.

“[She] has been subject to physical and emotional abuse by the correction officers, poor and unsanitary living conditions, insufficient nutrition, difficulties reviewing the millions of legal discovery documents in the case against her, and sleep deprivation.”

The lawyer also complained about flashlight checks every 15 minutes at night that were preventing Maxwell from sleeping, hostility from guards and being tracked by surveillance cameras as she walked through the facility.

Sternheim, who has discussed these alleged conditions in prior court papers, has also argued that Maxwell is “over-managed because of the intense criticism” that followed Epstein’s jailhouse suicide in August 2019, weeks after his arrest on sex trafficking charges.

Sternheim has previously invoked The Silence of the Lambs – in which Anthony Hopkins plays an imprisoned serial killer – to describe Maxwell’s jail conditions.

In April, Sternheim said in written arguments to a federal appeals court: “Though she is a model prisoner who poses no danger to society and has done literally nothing to prompt ‘special’ treatment, she is kept in isolation – conditions fitting for Hannibal Lecter but not a 59-year-old woman who poses no threat to anyone.”

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Asked for comment, the US Bureau of Prisons said in an email: “For privacy, safety, and security reasons, we decline to comment about the conditions of confinement for any particular inmate.”

They did say that the bureau was “committed to ensuring the safety and security of all inmates in our population, our staff, and the public” and that “additionally, the BoP takes allegations of staff misconduct seriously and consistent with national policy, refers all allegations for investigation, if warranted.

“Incidents of potential criminal activity or misconduct inside BoP facilities are thoroughly investigated for potential administrative discipline or criminal prosecution,” the email also said.

The filings came just before the weeks-long process of selecting a jury began on Thursday in New York.

Maxwell has said she is innocent of charges alleging that she recruited teenagers who were not yet adults for Epstein to sexually abuse from 1994 to 2004, Judge Alison Nathan told 132 prospective jurors.

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The judge warned prospective jurors not to discuss the case with anyone or research it, on the internet or anywhere else.

She said the final jury of 12 jurors and six alternates will be asked to render a verdict after a trial expected to last about six weeks based only on evidence they learn about in the courtroom.