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Caseythoughts My thoughts this week (ramblings, musings) seem shorter and somewhat more fragmented this week than normal. But, maybe there is optimism to be found in brevity. Well... maybe not.

I was fascinated this week by a press release from the Tompkins County Public Library. Evidently a group calling themselves the Community Learning and Service Partnership is offering a free course to prospective citizens in what we used to call 'civics': instruction in American government, history, geography and holidays. It is intended for prospective citizens who yearn to take the 100 question citizenship 'exam'. Can you imagine the angst of these people who have made the momentous decision to not only enter our country, but have dived into the 'deep end' of the pool, learning our language, culture, with job applications, citizenship paperwork, and now, a one hundred question pop quiz which probably couldn't be passed by a majority of 'native-born Americans'.

Geography? How many of us could point accurately to Washington DC on an unmarked map? History questions? When did the US constitution come into effect? How many branches are there in the federal government? (Recently a large majority of high school students flunked that question). Or, how about what Amendment protects freedom of the press? Holidays? Name three federal holidays. Imagine these incredible people who dream of being American citizens, to be what we take for granted. And all we do is holler and pontificate about 'illegals'. Yes, we have a problem with illegal immigration, but do we see these 'yearning to be free' as they sit quietly in a civics classroom, dreams and hopes alive? God bless 'em.

Have you ever noticed a sign at Wegman's front door about service animals?? Did you note that 'miniature ponies' are allowed in the mega-store according to that sign? Now I have read (Wall Street Journal, 6/10/18) that Jet Blue Airways is now restricting their 'emotional support animals' to dogs, cats, and miniature horses. 'Proper documentation', of course, required. Miniature ponies? Do you have to buy an extra seat for them? Do they sit down? Or are they considered 'carry-on'?? Suppose my seat is next to the pony? Of course, I really don't have to personally worry about this. A trip to Scotland a couple of years ago was my first time in the air in over thirty years. I had crossed the Pacific six times, and logged over a thousand hours in helicopters, so I figured I was pushing the odds and avoided flying, and I doubt I will be flying again, but it is an intriguing thought to consider the person sitting next to a miniature pony/horse on a Boeing 777. Go ahead, think about asking the pony to pass the in-flight magazine to you while I move on. Or that paper bag.

Headline: 'Facebook Gave Out User Date Despite Pledge'. Facebook was making customized data-sharing deals that gave companies like Nissan and Royal Bank of Canada special access to user records well after the point in time (2015) when FaceBook said it had 'walled off' that information. This is according to court documents. These 'agreements' allowed certain companies (for payment, no doubt?) access to additional information about you, the user, as well as your Facebook friends after they had publicly stated they had stopped the practice. Phone numbers, and a 'friend link' (what other purloined and shared data is currently unknown) were given to these 'preferred companies', all of this previously undisclosed, including during Zuckerberg's Congressional testimony. Which leads me to make a strong and unrepentant conclusion: I think Zuckerberg is a liar and a thief.

To call Facebook's business model a 'business based on advertising revenues' as he did to Congress is a bald-faced lie: he traffics in personal and private information. He has sold you, Facebook users, to the highest corporate bidders. You were (and are) the product, like a box of cereal, or an automobile, without your knowledge or consent, and made a ton of money selling your identity to Nissan and who knows how many other entities. In other words, a legalized hack of your computer and information. If I did this to your account on Facebook or Google or Amazon, I would very likely be facing criminal charges. But Zuckerberg looks right into the camera and says 'I'm sorry, mistakes were made'. This was no mistake, folks: This was Monty Hall looking into your eyes, asking if you want to make a deal, and you, mesmerized by the promise of social media, say 'Yes, Monty, I want what's behind Door Number Three...'. This highway robbery in broad daylight makes Jay Gould look like a piggy bank thief. But, since we have been hypnotized by the promise of 'people links' and 'friends', the American people, I am convinced, are being bamboozled, lied to, and you have turned over your wallets and your personal 'selves' to a con artist named Zuckerberg.

This Zuckerberg, by the way, can never be voted out of his chair by his Board of Directors, or stockholders, due to an incredible arrangement of its bylaws which give him 'super voting privilege shares' even though he does not maintain 51% of the outstanding shares of Facebook. You, dear user of Facebook, appear to have been taken to the proverbial cleaners by the Jay Gould of the 21st century, incredibly, voluntarily. All the while, Mark Zuckerberg laughs at Congress, all the way to the bank. If lying to the FBI is a crime, then why isn't lying to Congress a crime (yes, I know, he wasn't under oath...why not?) But, then, we are getting used to being lied to, aren't we?? I have a bridge I want to sell to one point three billion 'users'. Or, should I say, to sell to 'the used'.

I was going to write a little about the 'Summit in Singapore' (which reminds me of Muhammed Ali's description of his fight with Joe Frazier as the 'Thrillah in Manila') but by the time my words get into 'print' it will be a bit stale, with a million words being said around and about it by a cotillion of breathless and biased media. But I do remember when Nikita Khrushchev came to the US to address the UN, and while here (besides banging his communist shoe at the UN), he had expressed a desire to 'See DisneyLand'. Really, I'm not kidding, though I don't believe we heard that story for quite a while after his visit. The Secret Service killed that idea, according to various sources.

But, if you will, consider this: Kim Jung Un, talking with Donald Trump, and the Korean chest-thumper-in-chief telling our chest-thumper-in-chief that he would like to spend a night in a Trump hotel and casino ('Hey, Kim, now that you got a summit, what do you want to do now?' 'I want to go to Trump Casino and Resort!!!'). Imagine Trump swelling with pride, beaming from ear to ear, and saying 'Sure, Little man, I'll set it up, and maybe even bankroll you at the roulette table!!! I'll set it up right now' while Steve Mnuchin, Mike Pompeo and John Kelly fall out of their chairs. Wait a minute: that's not really funny, is it?

But, on a serious note, there will be three men who will not be there in Singapore, but whose countries will be directly affected either positively or negatively by what may go down in Singapore: Xi of China, Moon of South Korea and Abe of Japan. A lot riding on what they don't know is being discussed, and will only find out from the press. I think that I can say that pleasing all three men will be an impossible task. One, perhaps two of them will be worried, to say the least, with any outcome. It reminds me of the sign in an auto repair shop that stated : 'We have three kinds of jobs here: Good, Fast, and Cheap. You can choose any two of these. The Fast and Good repairs won't be cheap, the Fast and Cheap job won't be good, and the Good and Cheap job won't be fast.' The world is watching, wondering what kind of a job will be chosen, and it seems like this is a 'Too soon to tell, Take three.'

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