Video of Ypsilanti during the summer of 1970 is discovered

I’ve now watched the film a few times, and I’m struck by a few things. First, I didn’t realize that there was, for a time, a grocery store in the old Kresge building. And, second, I wasn’t aware that the old Martha Washington Theater was already showing porn in the summer of 1970. I thought that didn’t happen until about ’72… So, what are you struck by?

Posted in History, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and permanent resident of the United States, has likely been murdered by the Saudis, and the Trump administration seems reluctant to act. Why?

On October 2, Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, as you can see in the above photo, was observed entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where he’d made plans to pick up documents that he needed concerning his recent divorce. It’s now nearly two weeks later, and he has yet to be observed leaving the building.

According to Turkish officials, Khashoggi, who had once been an unofficial spokesperson for the Saudi royal family, was killed and dismembered inside the consulate by Saudi agents working under orders from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who had been waging an intimidation campaign against the exiled journalist, who, in recent years, had become a harsh critic of the royal family. [Khashoggi had been living in Virginia.] The following background comes by way of the New York Times.

…After a successful career as an adviser to and unofficial spokesman for the royal family of Saudi Arabia, he had been barred from writing in the kingdom, even on Twitter, by the new crown prince. His column in a Saudi-owned Arab newspaper was canceled. His marriage was collapsing. His relatives had been forbidden to travel to pressure him to stop criticizing the kingdom’s rulers.

Then, after he arrived in the United States, a wave of arrests put a number of his Saudi friends behind bars, and he made his difficult decision: It was too dangerous to return home anytime soon — and maybe forever.

So in the United States, he reinvented himself as a critic, contributing columns to The Washington Post and believing he had found safety in the West…

Saudi officials have denied harming Mr. Khashoggi, but nearly two weeks after his disappearance, they have failed to provide evidence that he left the consulate and have offered no credible account of what happened to him…

While it’s not terribly surprising to hear that Mohammed bin Salman had a journalist killed, as that’s what despots like bin Salman and Putin do, it is surprising that our President, when faced by the apparent murder of a U.S. permanent resident by a foreign government, doesn’t seem all that interested in getting to the bottom of it. While he did say on 60 Minutes that the Saudis could have done it, and that, if they did, there would be “severe punishment,” he also said that Saudi leaders “deny it every way you can imagine.” Furthermore, he’s made it a point to say that, if this did indeed happen, it happened in Turkey, adding that Khashoggi isn’t even a U.S. citizen. And, regardless of what may have happened, Trump has made it clear that he still intends to keep selling arms to the Saudis.

As for why Trump might be acting in this way, it could have something to do with his long, lucrative history with the Saudis, who, it seems, have always come along at opportune times to bail him out in times of need. [Once Trump’s father passed away, he needed other people to cover for his mistakes.]

And Trump has always been appreciative of role the Saudis played in keeping him from bankruptcy. “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million,” Trump told a crowd at 2015 campaign rally in Alabama. “Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”

The following background comes by way of the Washington Post.

…Trump’s business relationships with the Saudi government — and rich Saudi business executives — go back to at least the 1990s. In Trump’s hard times, a Saudi prince bought a superyacht and hotel from him. The Saudi government paid him $4.5 million for an apartment near the United Nations.

Business from Saudi-connected customers continued to be important after Trump won the presidency. Saudi lobbyists spent $270,000 last year to reserve rooms at Trump’s hotel in Washington. Just this year, Trump’s hotels in New York and Chicago reported significant upticks in bookings from Saudi visitors.

Now, Trump’s administration is trying to get answers from Saudi leaders about the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi — a critic of the Saudi regime who was allegedly abducted, and possibly killed, inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last week. The crisis has brought scrutiny to Trump’s business ties with the Saudis — and the complexity they add to an already complicated U.S. relationship with the kingdom.

…Saudi royalty has been buying from Trump dating to 1995, with some of the deals coming during periods when Trump was in need of cash.

In 1991, when Trump was nearly $900 million in debt from failed casino projects, he sold his 281-foot yacht to Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal for $20 million. (The boat had been originally owned by late Saudi billionaire and arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, a cousin of Jamal Khashoggi.)

A few years later, the prince bought a stake in Trump’s Plaza Hotel by agreeing to pay off some of Trump’s debts on the property.

…Trump’s company is now facing two lawsuits alleging that — by doing business with other governments — Trump is violating the Constitution’s ban on “emoluments” from foreign states.

One lawsuit, filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia, is seeking Trump Organization records about foreign customers at the Trump hotel in Washington.

The other, filed by about 200 Democratic members of Congress, is aimed more broadly — seeking information about foreign customers in all parts of Trump’s business empire. This week, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the lead plaintiff in that case, wrote that he hoped to uncover more details about Trump’s business with the Saudi government.

“Is the Saudi gov’t purposely filling Trump’s pockets? If so, what do they expect in return?” Blumenthal wrote on Twitter. “I’m fighting in court to hold him accountable”…

Not that we needed yet one more example of how the Trump administration’s rampant corruption manifests itself in U.S. foreign relations, but there it is.

And, with that, I give you the following from Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Photographic evidence of the old Michigan Ave porn shop

Remember how, a few days ago, we were reminiscing about the peep shows and glory holes of the old Michigan Avenue Bookstore, and how upset I was that I couldn’t find any photographic evidence of its existence online? Well, all of my bitching and complaining apparently paid off. I just received the following photograph (circa 1982) from former Ypsi City Council member Barry LaRue. Pretty cool, isn’t it? Now, if he could just get a higher-res version, so we could read the signs in the windows.

Posted in History, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , | 29 Comments

Are Democrats “too dangerous to govern”?

To all of the Republicans who have jumped on the “Democrats are a danger to the rule of law” bandwagon as a way of delegitimizing protest, and obscuring the fact that regular Americans have very real and legitimate reasons for being upset with their leaders in Washington, who are essentially taking health care from working families in order to hand billions of dollars over too their corporate donors, I offer the following.

Scott Wagner, the Republican candidate for Governor in Pennsylvania, just threatened to stomp on the face of Democratic incumbent Tom Wolf. “You better put a catcher’s mask on your face because I’m going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes,” Wagner said in the following Facebook Live video, which was just broadcast yesterday.

Now, I ask you, which is the party of violence? Is it the party of Donald “knock the crap out of them” Trump, who said that the white supremacists marching in Charlottesville last year, where a peaceful protester was murdered by a member of the far-right, were “some very fine people,” or it is the party of those who made Ted Cruz feel sad by confronting him in a restaurant over his support for a Supreme Court nominee who, almost assuredly, will cast the deciding vote against women’s reproductive freedom, a move which, we know from history, will cost women their lives?

But that’s the world we live in. The wealthy white men in power can essentially do whatever they like to the American people, and, when we finally rise up and demand that they be held accountable for their actions… actions which we know will do significant harm… these same men claim that they’re the actual “victims”… We’ll talk more about Republican victimhood in a moment, but here, first, is the GOP’s new ad, which, picking up on the ridiculous “unhinged mob” theme, is called “The Left: An Unhinged Mob.”

And, with that, the Democrats go from being timid, little “snowflakes,” to a gang of bloodthirsty criminals… It’s funny how fast narratives change these days, isn’t it?

OK, back to the victimhood of the right, did you happen to see what Melaina Trump said a few days ago about being “one of the most bullied people in the world“? It’s hilarious funny, I know, but also it gets to the strange psychology of these people, and their unbelievable narcissism. I would have thought that it would have been clear, but when people don’t like you for being the enabler of a dangerous, authoritarian racist, or suggesting that our first black president wasn’t actually born in the United States, or wearing an “I really don’t care” jacket to visit victims of a natural disaster… that’s not the same as being mocked, ridiculed and lied about just because you’re a Democratic woman running for public office. No, this, from Donald Trump’s friend David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer, is what bullying really looks like.

One would hope that the American people would wake up to the fact that, everything Trump and his acolytes accuse their detractors of having done are actually things that they’ve done themselves. One would hope that people would come to realize that when Donald Trump says, as he did yesterday, that Hillary Clinton colluded with the Russian to interfere in the election, he’s actually talking about himself. And the same goes for when he says he and the Republicans are the only ones who “believe in the rule of law.” I mean, we’ve all heard him accuse the Department of Justice and FBI of being corrupt. And we know that it’s the Democrats who, without holding any of the levers of power, are attempting to safeguard the investigation into Russia’s campaign to destabilize our democracy, while he continues to try to kill the investigation. But he just keeps going, lying big, and turning everything around, like Brett Kavanaugh did during his confirmation hearing, when he responded to Senator Amy Klobuchar’s question about whether he’d ever drank so much that he’d blacked out by snapping back, “I don’t know. Have you?

And, in that instance, it worked. By the end of the hearing, Kavanaugh was the victim, not Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who credibly testified with “100%” certainty that, at the age of 15, a drunk Bret Kavanaugh had attempted to rape her. It was a deliberate strategy, and it worked.

As Hitler said, “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” And the big lie of the day is that Democrats are violent, and that the true victims here are wealthy, white Republicans. This isn’t the case, and any rational observer could tell you that. But the Republicans know that the only way they’ll stay in power, assuming the voter suppression, the gerrymandering, and the propaganda don’t prove to be enough, will be to start labeling their adversaries terrorists, and scaring them into silence. And what we’re seeing today is the first step. This should alarm all of us.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Can someone tell me what kinds of wild animals are being released along East Huron River Drive, and by whom? Should I be concerned?

I’m imagining giant tarantulas and honey badgers, but maybe it’s nutria.

Posted in Mark's Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

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