Friday Nite Lite: Sony Sucks Christmas Balls and Smokes Cuban Cigars?

Good Evening

TCM has released their Remembers video for 2014:

Take a look, the pictures go by quickly because there is just so many people who passed away this year.

Now for the cartoons. We’ll just get down to it, because there are a lot of them tonight.

US will send an ambassador to Havana by Political Cartoonist Terry Mosher

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New Love by Political Cartoonist Petar Pismestrovic

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Sony Pictures by Political Cartoonist Bob Englehart

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Ruined Christmas by Political Cartoonist Tim Eagan

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Nick Anderson: Normalizing Relations – Nick Anderson – Truthdig

 

Franco and Rogen Again by Political Cartoonist John Darkow

157621 600 Franco and Rogen Again cartoons

 

Cold War Embargo – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 12/19/2014

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Cold War Embargo

 

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson, Philadelphia Daily News – 12/19/2014

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

Cartoonist Gary Varvel: Sony’s board of directors – Political Cartoon by Gary Varvel, Indianapolis Star – 12/19/2014

Cartoon by Gary Varvel - Cartoonist Gary Varvel: Sony's board of directors

 

Cuba Sanctions – Political Cartoon by Bruce Plante, Tulsa World – 12/19/2014

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Cuba Sanctions

Cruise Cuba Libre – Political Cartoon by J.D. Crowe, Alabama Media Group – 12/19/2014

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - Cruise Cuba Libre

 

Cheney Torture Talk – Political Cartoon by J.D. Crowe, Alabama Media Group – 12/16/2014

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - Cheney Torture Talk

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

 

Cuba – Political Cartoon by Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News – 12/19/2014

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Cuba

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Ed Gamble, King Features Syndicate – 12/19/2014

Cartoon by Ed Gamble -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez, El Nuevo Herald – 12/19/2014

Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez -

Hollywood ending by Political Cartoonist Eric Allie

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Mike Luckovich: Talking Relics – Mike Luckovich – Truthdig

Thawing US Cuba relations by Political Cartoonist Manny Francisco

157652 600 Thawing US Cuba relations cartoons

Kim Jong Un Sony by Political Cartoonist Rick McKee

157648 600 Kim Jong Un Sony cartoons

LOCAL CA LAPD Bodycams by Political Cartoonist Monte Wolverton

157644 600 LOCAL CA LAPD Bodycams cartoons

Oscar Jong Un by Political Cartoonist Steve Sack

157641 600 Oscar Jong Un cartoons

The Interview by Political Cartoonist Joe Heller

157627 600 The Interview cartoons

Movie Invasion by Political Cartoonist Larry Wright

157633 600 Movie Invasion cartoons

PUTIN on the BLAME by Political Cartoonist Bill Day

157656 600 PUTIN on the BLAME cartoons

 

Cuba and Pope by Political Cartoonist Joe Heller

157663 600 Cuba and Pope cartoons

 

This is an open thread.

 


Friday Morning Reads

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Good Morning!!

I’m quite a bit behind schedule this morning. I’m still in Indiana with my Mom, and we had to have some workmen come by this morning. I’m also trying to get organized for my drive back to Boston over the weekend, so I’m somewhat tired and stressed out.

Anyway, I’m working on a post that I will put up either later today or when I get back home. For now, here’s a TGIF link dump/open thread.

Today’s top stories

The Sony Hack is getting lots of attention.

NYT editorial, Sony and Mr. Kim’s Thugs. Here’s the gist:

Corporations, even large ones like Sony, cannot stand up to a rogue state and shadowy hacker armies all by themselves. That’s why the Obama administration needs to take a strong stand on this and future attacks. Officials said on Thursday that they were considering a “proportional response.”

Retaliation by the Obama administration over this attack would risk escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula and between North Korea and Japan, where Sony’s corporate parent is based. However, there are things the United States can do. Although there are already heavy sanctions on North Korea, there may be ways to inflict more economic pain.

Washington could seek an international panel to investigate the attack and demand condemnation by the United Nations Security Council. The United States also needs to work with Japan and South Korea, two other regular targets of North Korean hacking, to improve their defenses and develop common responses like imposing sanctions.

China, North Korea’s main ally and benefactor, remains the best check on the Kim regime; experts say most North Korean hackers are based in China. But China has its own history of hacking American government and industry computers and has resisted Washington’s requests for talks on how to handle hacking attacks and their aftermath.

The international community needs to speed up work on norms on what constitutes a cyberattack and what the response should be. If China and the United States are unable to work together in this critical area, the Internet will become a free-for-all and everyone will pay the price.

The Inteview

CNN, Watch out world: North Korea deep into cyber warfare, defector says.

Jang Se-yul, who defected from North Korea seven years ago, told CNN that he thinks there are 1,800 cyberwarriors in the agency stationed around the world. But he says even the agents themselves don’t know how many others work for the secretive group, called Bureau 121, whose mission is to “conduct cyberattacks against overseas and enemy states.”

The South Korean government thinks Bureau 121 is the agency at the heart of numerous cyberattacks from North Korea against elements in foreign countries, a government official who requested to be anonymous told CNN on Thursday.

North Korea’s hacking capabilities have become a global talking point recently, after a massive hack of Sony Pictures — the studio behind “The Interview,” a comedy depicting the assassination of Pyongyang’s leader, Kim Jong Un. That was followed by warnings that the movie not be shown in theaters…

CNN, Washington outraged over Sony decision.

From Hollywood to Washington, the outrage is spreading over Sony Pictures’ decision to cancel a movie release following a cyber attack and threats from a group of North Korea-backed hackers.

Politicians urged Sony not to back down in the face of threats tied to the release of the controversial comedy “The Interview,” and then began lashing out when the studio made it clear it has no further plans to release the film, which depicts an assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un….

FBI investigators tracked the hackers who broke into Sony’s servers, published private information and threatened moviegoers back to the North Korean regime, U.S. law enforcement officials told CNN on Wednesday. The North Korean regime slammed the movie this summer as “terrorism and a war action.”

And despite the hackers’ threat to attack movie theaters, the Department of Homeland Security has said “there is no credible intelligence” supporting an active plot against movie theaters.

Deadline Hollywood, Hollywood Cowardice: George Clooney Explains Why Sony Stood Alone In North Korean Cyberterror Attack.

EXCLUSIVE: As it begins to dawn on everyone in Hollywood the reality that Sony Pictures was the victim of a cyberterrorist act perpetrated by a hostile foreign nationon American soil, questions will be asked about how and why it happened, ending with Sony cancelling the theatrical release of the satirical comedy The Interviewbecause of its depiction of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. One of those issues will be this: Why didn’t anybody speak out while Sony Pictures chiefs Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton were embarrassed by emails served up by the media, bolstering the credibility of hackers for when they attached as a cover letter to Lynton’s emails a threat to blow up theaters if The Interview was released?

Read the interview with Clooney at the link.

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The Daily Beast, Paramount Bans Showing ‘Team America’.

Three movie theaters say Paramount Pictures has ordered them not to show Team America: World Police one day after Sony Pictures surrendered to cyberterrorists and pulled The Interview. The famous Alamo Drafthouse in Texas, Capitol Theater in Cleveland, and Plaza Atlanta in Atlanta said they would screen the movie instead of The Interview, but Paramount has ordered them to stop. (No reason was apparently given and Paramount hasn’t spoken.)Team America of course features Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, as a singing marionette.

Apparently, both Team America: World Police and The Interview are chock full of racist memes about Asians.

North Korea Is Not Funny. Let’s be clear: The Interview isn’t a courageous act of defiance against a dictator, by Adrien Hong at The Atlantic.

In recent months, the uproar over The Interview, a comedy about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has triggered an escalating set of reactions: retaliatory threats from North Korean officials; a sophisticated cyberattack on Sony Pictures, reportedly orchestrated by North Korea; a pledge by the hackers to physically attack theaters showing the film; and now, on Wednesday, Sony’s decision to cancel the movie’s December 25 release altogether, as movie-theater chains began backing out of screenings. The latest development is an act of craven self-censorship and appeasement—a troubling precedent by the Free World’s leading culture-makers. But rightful calls to defend freedom of expression and go ahead with the movie are also mixing with a far more dubious strain of thinking: that the film itself is a form of defiance against a dictatorial regime. It is not.

Kim Jong Il puppet from "Team America World Police."

Kim Jong Il puppet from “Team America World Police.”

In The Interview, directed by the Canadian comics Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, a celebrity journalist (James Franco) and his producer (Rogen), tired of producing meaningless content, score a major scoop: an interview with Kim Jong Un (Randall Park). The CIA learns about the trip and recruits the two to kill the leader—a task that, judging from reports and leaked footage, someone eventually succeeds in doing.

This film is not an act of courage. It is not a stand against totalitarianism, concentration camps, mass starvation, or state-sponsored terror. It is, based on what we know of the movie so far, simply a comedy, made by a group of talented actors, writers, and directors, and intended, like most comedies, to make money and earn laughs. The movie would perhaps have been better off with a fictitious dictator and regime; instead, it appears to serve up the latest in a long line of cheap and sometimes racism-tinged jokes, stretching from Team America: World Police to ongoing sketches on Saturday Night Live.

It’s a thoughtful article. I need to go back and give it a careful read.

In other news . . .

Bloomberg View, Hillary Clinton Secretly Pushed Cuba Deal for Years, by Josh Rogin.

Although President Barack Obama is taking the credit for Wednesday’s historic deal to reverse decades of U.S. policy toward Cuba, when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, she was the main architect of the new policy and pushed far harder for a deal than the Obama White House.

From 2009 until her departure in early 2013, Clinton and her top aides took the lead on the sometimes public, often private interactions with the Cuban government. According to current and former White House and State Department officials and several Cuba policy experts who were involved in the discussions, Clinton was also the top advocate inside the government for ending travel and trade restrictions on Cuba and reversing 50 years of U.S. policy to isolate the Communist island nation. Repeatedly, she pressed the White House to move faster and faced opposition from cautious high-ranking White House officials.

After Obama announced the deal Wednesday, which included the release of aid contractor Alan Gross, Clinton issued a supportive statement distributed by the National Security Council press team. “As Secretary of State, I pushed for his release, stayed in touch with Alan’s wife Judy and their daughters, and called for a new direction in Cuba,” she said. “Despite good intentions, our decades-long policy of isolation has only strengthened the Castro regime’s grip on power.”

But according to the progs, Hillary is a triangulating warmonger. Hmmmmm . . .

ABC News, 5 Sweeping Changes Recommended for Secret Service After Fence Jumper Enters WH.

A bipartisan, independent panel scrutinizing the U.S. Secret Service after a man with a small knife in his pocket jumped the perimeter fence and made it deep inside the White House is recommending sweeping changes at the agency.

The Secret Service’s “paramount mission” of protecting the president and other high-ranking officials “allows no tolerance for error,” and a “single miscue, or even a split-second delay, could have disastrous consequences for the nation and the world,” warns the panel’s final report, commissioned by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson after the September breach.

Read the recommendations at the link.

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The New Yorker, The Unidentified Queen of Torture, by Jane Mayer.

The NBC News investigative reporter Matthew Cole has pieced together a remarkable story revealing that a single senior officer, who is still in a position of high authority over counterterrorism at the C.I.A.—a woman who he does not name—appears to have been a source of years’ worth of terrible judgment, with tragic consequences for the United States. Her story runs through the entire report. She dropped the ball when the C.I.A. was given information that might very well have prevented the 9/11 attacks; she gleefully participated in torture sessions afterward; she misinterpreted intelligence in such a way that it sent the C.I.A. on an absurd chase for Al Qaeda sleeper cells in Montana. And then she falsely told congressional overseers that the torture worked.

Had the Senate Intelligence Committee been permitted to use pseudonyms for the central characters in its report, as all previous congressional studies of intelligence failures, including the widely heralded Church Committee report in 1975, have done, it might not have taken a painstaking, and still somewhat cryptic, investigation after the fact in order for the American public to hold this senior official accountable. Many people who have worked with her over the years expressed shock to NBC that she has been entrusted with so much power. A former intelligence officer who worked directly with her is quoted by NBC, on background, as saying that she bears so much responsibility for so many intelligence failures that “she should be put on trial and put in jail for what she has done.”

Instead, however, she has been promoted to the rank of a general in the military, most recently working as the head of the C.I.A.’s global-jihad unit. In that perch, she oversees the targeting of terror suspects around the world. (She was also, in part, the model for the lead character in “Zero Dark Thirty.”)

According to sources in the law-enforcement community who I have interviewed over the years, and who I spoke to again this week, this woman—whose name the C.I.A. has asked the news media to withhold—had supervision over an underling at the agency who failed to share with the F.B.I. the news that two of the future 9/11 hijackers had entered the United States prior to the terrorist attacks. As I recount in my book “The Dark Side,” the C.I.A. got wind that one of these Al Qaeda operatives, Khalid al-Mihdhar, had obtained a multiple-entry visa into the United States eighteen months before 9/11. The agency also learned, months before the attacks, that another Al Qaeda operative, Nawaf al-Hazmi, had flown into Los Angeles. Yet the C.I.A. appears to have done nothing. It never alerted the F.B.I., which had the principle domestic authority for protecting the U.S. from terror attacks. Its agents had, in fact, been on the trail of at least one of the hijackers previously, but had no way of knowing that he had entered the United States. Nor did the C.I.A. alert the State Department, which kept a “TIPOFF” watch list for terror suspects.

KUT.org, Austin TX, Sexist Comment by Austin Police Officer: Isolated Incident or Part of Broader Culture?

Police Chief Art Acevedo suspended two officers in November for making jokes about rape victims. The Austin Police Association said at the time that the respective three-day and five-day suspensions were “fair and appropriate.” The incident took place after a local attorney had released a video in which the two Austin police officers are laughing and one of the officers comments: “Go ahead and call the cops. They can’t un-rape you.

Recently, offensive comments were made to KUT’s reporter Joy Diaz, while she was covering a police-related story….

Just to set the scene, this reporter was at the police union’s building waiting to interview the head of the union. That’s when veteran officer [Andrew] Pietrowski approached me and started talking about the media fall-out over the video tape of NFL running back Ray Rice punching and knocking out his then-fiancé in a hotel elevator. Rice was suspended by the NFL and was released by his team.

Pietrowski says the event was blown out of proportion by the media. That’s when he explained.

“Now, stop and think about this. I don’t care who you are. You think about the women’s movement today, [women say] ‘Oh, we want to go [into] combat,’ and then, ‘We want equal pay, and we want this.’ You want to go fight in combat and sit in a foxhole? You go right ahead, but a man can’t hit you in public here? Bulls–t! You act like a whore, you get treated like one!”

Pietrowski retired from the force after learning that KUT planned to reveal his comments on the air.

S0 . . . . what else is happening? Please post links to the stories that interested you in the comment thread, and Happy Friday!


Thursday Reads: A Historic Agreement Between the U.S. and Cuba

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Good Morning!!

Finally we have some good news to discuss, if Republicans can somehow be prevented from ruining it. The U.S. and Cuba have reached an agreement to normalize relations between the two countries after 50 years of hostilities and sanctions. In celebration of this long-overdue step forward, I’m going to illustrate this post with the work of Cuban artists. You can read about the above painting of Marilyn Monroe superimposed on a photo of Che Guevara and the artist Adrian Rumbaut at the Cuban Art blog. Here’s a bit of background:

In the work, Adrian Rumbaut has reproduced Alberto Korda’s famous 1960 photograph of Che Guevara, and he  inserts his vision of American Richard Avedon’s iconic photo of Marilyn Monroe as well.  In the letters on the side of the painting, Rumbaut gives credit to both Korda and Avedon for their images, and provides the date of his painting.

Interestingly, Korda had worked as a fashion photographer as a young man, and he wanted very  much to be the Richard Avedon of Cuba. He photographed the “beautiful people” of the Batista era before the revolution, and models lined up in front of his studio to have their picture taken. Taken by surprise by the “triumph of the revolution” in 1959, he worked subsequently with Raul Corrales, Castro’s official photographer, to capture the excitement of the revolution. In his image of Che, something survives of his earlier experience with beautiful women.

Korda’s image of Che — snapped in 1960 and also known as Guerrillero Heroico — has been repeatedly reproduced worldwide, serving as both a symbol of protest and as a fashion accessory.

The iconic photo has taken on increasingly exotic forms, each created with different intentions and evoking varied responses. Along with Marilyn Monroe, Jesus Christ, Madonna, and Princess Diana have all had their pictures adapted and inserted under Che’s familiar red star beret. It isn’t an exaggeration to note that Che the icon has overtaken Che the revolutionary.

The original “Che” photograph was taken at a dangerous moment, a time when the new revolutionary government was preparing for imminent US invasion. It was at the start of the Cuban Revolution’s second year, and Castro’s government  had ordered a boatload of weapons and ammunition — mostly rifles and grenades — from Belgium. The armaments were loaded onto a French ship, La Coubre which, unfortunately, exploded upon arrival in Havana Harbor in March 1960. The crew and 75 Cuban dockers were killed. More than 200 were injured.

Here’s a wonderful example of Cuban street art that I found at a Cuban travel site, Insight Cuba.

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See more examples of Cuban “graffiti” at the link.

Some background on what’s happening from CNN yesterday: Cuba releases American Alan Gross, paves way for historic easing of American sanctions.

Washington (CNN)U.S. contractor Alan Gross, held by the Cuban government since 2009, was freed Wednesday as part of a landmark deal with Cuba that paves the way for a major overhaul in U.S. policy toward the island, senior administration officials tell CNN.

President Barack Obama spoke with Cuban President Raul Castro Tuesday in a phone call that lasted about an hour and reflected the first communication at the presidential level with Cuba since the Cuban revolution, according to White House officials. Obama announced Gross’ release and the new diplomatic stance at noon in Washington. At around the same time, Cuban president Raul Castro was set to speak in Havana.

President Obama announced a major loosening of travel and economic restrictions on the country. And the two nations are set to re-open embassies, with preliminary discussions on that next step in normalizing diplomatic relations beginning in the coming weeks, a senior administration official tells CNN.

Talks between the U.S. and Cuba have been ongoing since June of 2013 and were facilitated by the Canadians and the Vatican in brokering the deal. Pope Francis — the first pope from Latin America — encouraged Obama in a letter and in their meeting this year to renew talks with Cuba on pursuing a closer relationship.

Gross’ “humanitarian” release by Cuba was accompanied by a separate spy swap, the officials said. Cuba also freed a U.S. intelligence source who has been jailed in Cuba for more than 20 years, although authorities did not identify that person for security reasons. The U.S. released three Cuban intelligence agents convicted of espionage in 2001.

The developments constitute what officials called the most sweeping change in U.S. policy toward Cuba since 1961, when the embassy closed and the embargo was imposed.

Read much more at the link. It’s a good article that provides quite a bit of background on the historic agreement.

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More details on the secret negotiations from William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh, authors of the book Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana, published in October of this year.

Secret meetings with Cuba finally pay off.

Presidents frequently conduct sensitive diplomatic dialogues in secret, because the furor of public attention makes it politically impossible to reach the compromises necessary for agreement. These secret talks are often crucial for diplomatic advances — as we learned Wednesday with the stunning revelations about the impending talks between Washington and Havana that have been underway secretly for the past few months. President Barack Obama’s far-reading initiatives are reminiscent of the secret talks Henry Kissinger held with Beijing to lay the groundwork for President Richard M. Nixon’s historic diplomatic opening to China.

When the mere act of talking to an adversary is too politically sensitive, presidents can resort to private emissaries, despite the risks created by relying on amateur diplomats. Obama had help from both Canada and the Vatican in reaching these new agreements.

In our recent book, Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana, we uncovered literally dozens of secret diplomatic contacts and negotiations. Despite what Kissinger called the “perpetual antagonism” between the United States and Cuba, there is a rich and colorful history of dialogue between these two nations over the last 50 years.

There are lessons to be learned from this half-century of back-channel talks about what works and what doesn’t when conducting secret negotiations.

First, a history of animosity makes adversaries wary. Neither wants to appear weak by making concessions too easily. Goodwill gestures may go unrequited and the apparent obstinacy of one side or the other can doom a diplomatic process before it gets off the ground. When Fidel Castro was in power, for example, he worried constantly that any concession to U.S. demands would be read as weakness and lead to a redoubling of U.S. efforts to overthrow him.

Read all about it at the Reuters link.

From the Masters of Cuban Art Image Gallery“La Conga” by Evelio Garcia Mata.

“Garcia Mata plays the rhythm of the conga in the body of the mulatto dancer, who lifts her left arm as she does the kick-step. She wears a sensual typical dress and is accompanied by a group of six musicians. The painting beautifully represents when Afro-Cuban music became main-stream, and a representative of Cuban culture at large.”

- Alfredo Triff, Musician and Art Critic

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Isn’t it amazing that Pope Francis–the first Latin American to lead the Church–was instrumental in making this happen? As a long-lapsed Catholic, I’m truly surprised and pleased. After years of regressive Popes, this guy seems to be a throwback to the days of Pope John the XXIII when it seemed that the Church might move into the 20th century.

From The Atlantic: How the Pope Helped End the Cuba Embargo.

On Wednesday, a senior Obama administration officials spoke of an “extraordinary letter” written by the pope to President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro over the summer in which he urged the two men to mend the relationship between their countries.

As one official noted, the correspondence “gave us greater impetus and momentum for us to move forward.”

In a press conference on Wednesday, which also happens to be the pope’s 78th birthday, President Obama credited Francis for his influential “personal plea” and thanked him for his “moral example.”

In particular, I want to thank his Holiness Pope Francis, whose moral example shows us the importance of pursuing the world as it should be, rather than simply settling for the world as it is.

According to officials, Pope Francis brought up Cuba several times during his meeting with the president in March and, given Francis’ significance as the first pope from Latin America, it’s fair to assume that his clout likely helped bring Castro to the table as well.

Vatican officials were also said to have been present during the negotiations between the United States and Cuba, marking them the only other country to directly participate in the talks. While Canada reportedly hosted the majority of the secret meetings of the two sides, according to a Vatican statement, the pope also hosted Cuban and American representatives together earlier this year during the final deal was struck.

Some reactions to Obama’s great achievement.

From the LA Times, Miami reacts to Obama’s Cuba move: Tears of joy, cries of ‘traitor’.

A tale of two restaurants unfolded in South Florida on Wednesday.

In Miami’s Little Havana, Versailles Restaurant hosted hard-line Cuban exiles railing against President Obama’s decision to establish full diplomatic ties with the Cuban government. They waved placards and hurled insults bilingually, putting on the show they’ve been rehearsing and staging for half a century.

The show at Versailles involved megaphones and pickup trucks, national news outlets parked in front of a spot that serves tasty espresso, and a handful of outspoken Cuban Americans who yell loud enough to scare viewers in Nebraska. Whenever major news breaks about Cuba, the media flocks to Versailles to take the pulse of the Cuban community.

Meanwhile in Hialeah, a city with a far larger number of Cubans and Cuban Americans than Little Havana, Tropical Restaurant served cafeteria-style meals to a quieter, more sanguine crowd. Here, many welcomed Obama’s decision.

“It’s going to be better for the Cuban people. It’s going to be better for the United States,” said ReinierOropeza, 33, an accountant who to came to the U.S. from Cuba in 1998.

Many Cubans here are young, or came to the United States more recently, or have closer ties with their families in Cuba.

Oropeza said many older Cubans are stuck in the past.  “They are old and they stand back and blame Castro. They already did what they had to do. So young people have to take over now.”

Once again, read much more at the link.

Read more about this mural by 100 Cuban artists at The New York Times, Feb. 3, 2008: It’s Not Politics. It’s Just Cuba.

Courtesy of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts “Cuba Colectiva,” a 1967 mural by 100 artists for the Salon de Mai exhibition in Havana, on view at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Courtesy of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
“Cuba Colectiva,” a 1967 mural by 100 artists for the Salon de Mai exhibition in Havana, on view at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

 

More reactions from Republican politicians:

Drunken party-pooper John Boehner is not happy. 

(Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker John Boehner sharply criticized President Barack Obama’s policy change toward Cuba, calling it “another in a long line of mindless concessions” to a brutal dictatorship.

“Relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom – and not one second sooner,” Boehner said in a statement.

Cry me a river, a$$hole. At least Cubans have free health care.

Marco Rubio, who is supposedly a Catholic after transitioning through the Mormon and Southern Baptist churches, had the temerity to “call out the Pope on Cuba” according to Politico.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Catholic, criticized Pope Francis on Wednesday after the pontiff played a key role in helping the United States and Cuba forge an agreement that resulted in the release of American Alan Gross from Cuba.

Rubio said he would “ask His Holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy.”

The Florida Republican said he didn’t criticize Francis’ personal appeals to help facilitate Gross’ release, but was speaking in response to the White House’s announcement about talks to normalize relations with Cuba after a nearly 50-year embargo with the country.

Rubio is set to play a major role in Cuba policy as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Western Affairs, and he noted Wednesday some of Congress’ leverage points, such as funding for embassies and nomination of a U.S. ambassador to Cuba.

“I’m committed to doing everything I can to unravel as many of these changes as possible,” Rubio said.

More from Huffington Post: Marco Rubio Fires Back On Cuba: Obama Is The ‘Worst Negotiator’ In My Lifetime.

President Barack Obama will get no money for his Cuba policy, no ambassador will be confirmed and the embargo will never be lifted, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) vowed in a blistering press conference on Wednesday.

In a historic move earlier in the day, Obama announced that the United States will begin talks with Cuba to normalize full diplomatic relations, marking the most significant shift in U.S. policy towards Cuba in 50 years. The president’s remarks followed the release on Wednesday morning of American Alan Gross, who had been held in a Cuban prison for five years. Gross’ release was negotiated in exchange for the freeing of three Cubans who had been jailed in the U.S. for spying.

“This entire policy shift announced today is based on an illusion, based on a lie,” Rubio, who is the son of Cuban immigrants, told reporters on Capitol Hill. “The White House has conceded everything and gained little.”

“I’m committed to doing everything I can to unravel as many of these changes as possible,” he added.

Why is this moron in the U.S. Senate? Obama will have more battles ahead with the Republican Congress, but he seems determined to move ahead with the changes he wants to make anyway. I’m rooting for him.

What do you think? What other stories are you following today? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and enjoy your Thursday!


Wednesday Reads: History and the Selfie Generation

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Good Morning

I hate that the blog has been in bitchfest mode lately…mainly because it brings the juju down, but dammit…the news is bad and the people are just hateful! For example:

Chinese couple may face jail over hot noodles assault

A Chinese couple who got into a furious row with cabin crew on a flight could find themselves separated for quite some time after the incident escalated when hot noodles were thrown into the face of a hostess.

aa83ebc88a23a189b7a331629f05ae8aThe incident that happened on a Thai AirAsia plane was captured on cellphone footage taken by other passengers that show one of the hostesses touching her face after being scalded when she was hit with a hot dish.

She was reportedly given first aid on board by her colleagues to deal with the burns and was taken to a hospital after the flight turned around and landed back in the Thai capital Bangkok.

The trouble started when the couple boarded the plane and found themselves seated separately on the charter flight from Bangkok to the Chinese city of Nanjing. And even though the seating was rearranged to put the couple together, they were still angry and refused to calm down.

The video clip showing the man shouting at staff members who are trying to restrain him quickly went viral after it was uploaded on Chinese social media network Weibo. A spokesman for the budget airline 08_115970001said that the plane had been forced to turn round so that the angry couple could be arrested.

The spokesman said that the decision to turn around had been made after the man claimed to have a bomb and threatened to blow the plane up.

 

They got what they wanted, and still were belligerent assholes.

What the hell is wrong with people?

And let me take it a step further. These assholes, horrid waste of breathing flesh and bone…half of these people are the ones who go on abusing, committing the assault or killing the innocent; and you can bet your ass that, the other half are the people who are just outside during the said violence, killing or assaults…taking obnoxious grinning selfies while there…in the background…human beings are losing their lives.11_05925884

Sydney siege: Not the moment for a selfie – Comment – Voices – The Independent

Some kind of low point that may even sum up something about the direction of society. “I wonder what has happened to empathy?” asks one Mail Online commenter. And you do wonder. Because it takes a special kind of narcissist to take a selfie while, not 100 feet away, people are cooped up with a gunman with their life in – how do you call it? – oh yes, danger. Their lives are in danger. Not a popcorn moment. Not a movie. Not something that, even if all goes well and the hostages make it out safe, you ought to find pleasing-as-punch.

] A hostage runs towards a police officer outside a cafe, where other hostages are being held in Sydney

 

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B44cRDYCUAAGyK3.jpg

Compare the rubbernecker expression – one guy even literally grinning like a Cheshire Cat – with the terror on the face of the café worker who sprints into the arms of a policeman. I guess the rule should be: don’t selfie when there are a bunch of other selfies nearby that will probably be – at the moment you snap – either crying or close to it.

 

Selfie shame of people posing for pictures of themselves at Sydney terror siege | Daily Mail Online

Tourists have always taken selfies of themselves at Sydney’s most iconic landmarks, but on a day that has horrified the city many people are taking macabre snapshots for old times’ sake as well.

All day people were uploading selfies of themselves on Twitter from as close as possible to where the hostage siege was taking place.

Just to make the photos more authentic some even took them with television cameras in the background. Two onlookers even looked like they were taking a ‘celebration selfie’ than one at a hostage siege. Others smiled happily as if they were standing in front of Sydney Opera House instead of a chilling hostage crisis that could yet end in tragedy.

These three men also looked pleased to be in Martin Place despite the chilling circumstances

 

I really don’t think this generation should be called the Millennial Generation, it should be called the Selfie Generation because that is the perfect description of what they are, selfish.

7a00715Now, take those images above and the story about the young couple aboard the airline, and read this post from Gin and Tacos:

UNINTERESTED OBSERVERS | Gin and Tacos

A few weeks ago I had a bad day. This is not unusual; in fact, it would be worth pointing out if I had a good one, which I believe happened last during the Clinton administration. The day in question was specifically a bad day in the classroom, something that in all honesty does not happen terribly often. Having taught at the college level for the better part of a decade, my expectations are so low that it’s nearly impossible to end up disappointed. I have come to accept the fact that the students have no interest in the subject matter and no desire to interact with me or their classmates in any meaningful way. I expect that they will sit there and look bored for an hour-plus, and that’s usually exactly what I get. Expectations met.

30ea5a7e6a2f9df28b4debd7bcf35e0cOn this particular day, my morning class was presented with a very basic exercise I do with material on public opinion. I put up three pictures: Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, QB/Pizza Salesperson Peyton Manning, and chart-topping knucklehead Lil’ Jon, whose megahit “Turn Down for What” has been inescapable for the past six months. I change the celebrities every year or two to ensure that it’s someone relevant – I used Simon Cowell when “American Idol” first became a big hit, and so on. The way this has always worked is that the students of course identify the athlete and celebrity but have no idea who the elected official is. I also ask them some other celebrity-related questions, like who is married to Kanye West and what the couple named their recent child. 18_1267200The point I make is that Americans are indeed capable of retaining information; we know gobs of facts about sports, celebrities, and so on. We know almost nothing about politics because we do not pay much attention to it and we don’t find it interesting. There is no good reason we can’t know who are representatives are the same way we know the starting lineup of our favorite teams or the cast members of Real Housewives of Shreveport. We know the latter because it interests us and ignore the former because it doesn’t.

I am going to quote the rest of the post because it is so good and so damn true:

Lately, say for the past few semesters, I’ve noticed something strange: the students don’t seem to know any of the celebrity BS anymore either. Back in the mid 2000s, I would ask who is married to Tom Cruise (everyone immediately knew) and what they named their child (in unision, “Suri!”). Now, even though I update the “material” to be contemporary, they don’t really know. They still don’t know who the political figures are, of course, and now they don’t know the trashy celebrity gossip either.

f42bb33cf24e5e172779d290a657c802After having this experience in the morning, I went next to an Honors class in which I had reserved the day for discussion. They had assigned readings and some basic questions they were required to answer so that they might have something to talk about in class (as opposed to showing up having read nothing and having never thought about the issue). I don’t even recall the topic, but after about 15 minutes of trying to get blood from a turnip I got exasperated. “OK,” I said, “it is painfully clear that you are not interested in the slightest in this topic. So please tell me, what would you like to talk about? We can talk about anything. Just tell me what interests you. I am serious, I really want to know.”

7a00715I won’t recount the entire unfruitful discussion that follows, but I asked dozens of questions that require no knowledge whatsoever to answer. What do you like? What do you do in your free time? Do you watch (sports, movies, TV series, video games, etc)? When you sneak your phones out in class, what are you doing on them? After about an hour I came to the conclusion, based on what this group of about 18 college freshmen and sophomores told me, that their interests are 1) Tumblr, 2) Netflix, and 3) texting each other. As to what they look at on Tumblr, the answer appeared to be random nonsense – memes, cat pictures, collections of pictures of Bad _____, and the like, so it’s not even like they’re using Tumblr to become acquainted with any topic, even a frivolous one. As for what they text each other about given their apparent lack of definable interests, the answer was that they talk about themselves and one another.

97b99b48e30a8687322e56e2504c2cc2Every generation complains about the ones that follow, and I don’t believe that these kids are any dumber than college kids were 20 or 50 years ago. I simply do not understand, however, their complete lack of interest in anything. I get that they are not interested in news and politics; hell, I rely on that fact to make some important points while teaching them about those topics. I am absolutely baffled, though, at the idea that they are not even interested in any of the kinds of fluff that Americans use as alternatives to learning substantive things about the world – sports, Hollywood celebrity crap, pop music, etc. It is alarming to me that in a moment of frustration and total honesty I asked them – begged them – to tell me what does interest them given that my chosen topics so clearly do not and that the answer seems to be…themselves.

I’m trying not to sound like an old, out-of-it man, but this is baffling to me. And I’d be lying if I claimed not to wonder about the future prospects of a cohort of people who may have no interests of any kind outside of their own lives.

He is right, and I think that those selfie pictures during the hostage situation pretty much illustrate that point…to the extreme perhaps but y’all get the point I am trying to make here.

1c55a0073dd06ae64b81813f85e6c021Anyway, I was happy to find out what interest my daughter’s boyfriend, he is into Mongolian history. Which is fine with me, I am glad. However he doesn’t know what the “Battle of the Bulge” is…yeah, fancy that. I mentioned at dinner last night that Dec. 16th was the anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge. I asked if he knew what that was…and his reply was, something with the civil war? Ugh.

But hey, he should have learned that in history last year. Do they not teach that anymore?

Battle of the Bulge: Rare Photos From Hitler’s Last Gamble | LIFE.com

7a00715564a8f9ce4a1bd0bd7b052dcaFrom mid-December 1944 through the end of January 1945, in the heavily forested Ardennes Mountains of Belgium, thousands of American, British, Canadian, Belgian and French forces struggled to turn back the final major German offensive of World War II. While Allied forces ultimately triumphed, it was an absolutely vicious six weeks of fighting, with tens of thousands dead on both sides. Today, the conflict is known as the Battle of the Bulge.

Here, 70 years after the start of the Ardennes Counteroffensive (as the battle is sometimes known), LIFE.com presents a series of photographs made by LIFE photographers throughout the fighting. Many of these pictures never ran in LIFE magazine.

0337887167a83eba1ecfa789f8578a5aFor its final offensive to succeed, Germany needed four factors to work in its favor: catching the Allies off-guard; poor weather that would neutralize air support for Allied troops; the dealing of early, devastating, demoralizing blows against the Allies; and capturing Allied fuel supplies intact. (Indeed, Germany originally intended to attack on November 27, but had to delay its initial assault due to fuel shortages). On December 16, 1944, the German attack began: the Wehrmacht (the Third Reich’s unified armed forces) struck with 250,000 soldiers along an 85-mile stretch of Allied front, stretching from southern Belgium to Luxembourg.

The attack proved stunningly effective, at first, as troops advanced some 50 miles into Allied territory, creating the “bulge” in the American lines that gave the battle its memorable name.

A Belgian woman surveys damage to her home caused by heavy fighting in the nearby Ardennes Forest, Battle of the Bulge.American forces had been feeling triumphant — Paris had just been liberated in August — and there was a sense among some American and other Allied leaders that Germany was all but defeated. The attack in December 1944, officially labeled the “Ardennes-Alsace Campaign” by the U.S. Army, showed that any complacency the Allies might have embraced regarding the Wehrmacht was dangerously misplaced.

(At right: A Belgian woman surveys damage to her home caused by heavy fighting during the Battle of the Bulge.)

Nevertheless, as effective as the initial German efforts were, they failed to achieve the complete and early knockout of Allied forces that German military brass had hoped for, and counted on. (Wehrmacht Field Marshal Walter Model had given the attack only a 10 percent chance of success to begin with. The German name for the operation: Wacht am Rhein, or “Watch on the Rhine.”)

14_00632003One of the most difficult aspects of the Bulge was the weather, as extreme — indeed, historic — cold wreaked havoc and turned relatively simple logistics of travel, shelter, and meals into a daily struggle. January 1945 was the coldest January on record for that part of Europe, and over the course of the battle more than 15,000 Allied troops alone were treated for frostbite and other cold-related injuries.

Many more pictures here: Pinterest- BATTLE OF THE BULGE

The rest of the links in dump format:

Pakistan school attack: Taliban kill 145 – CNN.com

Clinton: ‘U.S. should never condone or practice torture’ | MSNBC

Unless I’m missing something, this is an exceedingly strange opinion – The Washington Post

783849e0cdfc31d2790ea8dc48870d29Ohio Detective Berated Girlfriend of Black Man Shot and Killed by Cops

Addicting Info – Bryan Fischer: Torture Is A Christian Value (VIDEO)

Samuel L Jackson launches Eric Garner anti-racism campaign song – People – News – The Independent

Heartwarming Racial Profiling Story Goes Viral, Solves Racism | The Daily Banter

I don’t know if I would call it “heartwarming.”

Evolution in our national science museum, thanks to David Koch

Turtle that breathes through its bottom is endangered, scientists warn – Science – News – The Independent

‘Benjy’ the gay bull saved by Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon has found love in his new home – Home News – UK – The Independent

‘Benjy’, the gay bull who was saved from the slaughterhouse after The Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon backed a campaign to have the animal transported to a sanctuary, has found love in his new home.

The Irish bull was destined for the butchers after he failed to show any interest in the cows at his previous home on County Mayo farm, where he was instead found to have preferred the company of the other bulls.

But Benjy was saved after a crowd-funding campaign to have him transferred to a sanctuary gathered pace, and animal rights campaigners Peta informed Mr Simon of the bull’s plight and he donated a further £5,000 to the cause.

Benjy the bull 

Within minutes of arriving at his new home on Sunday, Benjy befriended Alex, a one-year-old bullock described as a “handsome little lad” by a spokesperson for the sanctuary.

Benjy the gay bull has found love with a young bullock named Alex at his new home
1 / 1

 

 

Hurray for Benj!

 

I will end with Doug the Pug, cause all he wants for Christmas…is Food!

 


Tuesday Reads: Evil is as Evil Does

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Good Morning!!!

I really don’t want this to turn into a mini version of my mom’s rants on “people are no damn good”  that I grew up hearing as frequently as some kids hear bed and supper time prayers.  However, it seems that some of the things I’m reading these days just cry out for mom’s mantra on the nature of humanity.  The last few days have seen a constant stream of evil on parade.

On Sunday, David Koch tried to convince ABC viewers that he wasn’t real “evil” because he actually was socially liberal.  Yeah, lot of good that does us when every National Park is timber and animal free, fresh water has been fracked into nonexistence, and every school in America never turns out another scientist.  Doesn’t this guy have enough money yet that he can just quit destroying the planet like some cartoon villain?

“I’m basically a libertarian and I’m a conservative on economic matters, and I’m a social liberal,” Koch responded.

Walters then asked Koch why he uses his wealth to elect socially conservative candidates if he supports gay rights and a woman’s right to choose.

“Well, that’s their problem. I do have those views,” he said.

“What I want these candidates to do is to support a balanced budget,” he added. “I’m very worried that if the budget is not balanced that inflation could occur and the economy of our country could suffer terribly.”

Asked whether he thought it was fair that he’s able to influence elections because of his vast wealth, Koch said that he obeys federal limits on how much he can contribute to individual candidates.

But Koch and his brother, Charles, also donate large sums to support the arts and other philanthropic causes. Walters asked why, then, Koch has developed a reputation as an “evil billionaire.”

“Well, I don’t understand that,” he said.

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Yeah, he sure has his priorities straight.  Fuck People. Fuck the Planet.  Fuck the Economy.  Just don’t fuck with my right to exploit every resource every where possible.

PolitiFact has named it’s Lie of the Year, 2014.  Yup, it’s the damned hyped-up exaggerations on Ebola just ready made to prime the outrage pump of dumb red state Americans.  Notice we heard nothing more about it once Fox News turned out its idiot viewership to let lose the plague of congressional republican locusts on the nation?

Yet fear of the disease stretched to every corner of America this fall, stoked by exaggerated claims from politicians and pundits. They said Ebola was easy to catch, that illegal immigrants may be carrying the virus across the southern border, that it was all part of a government or corporate conspiracy.

The claims — all wrong — distorted the debate about a serious public health issue. Together, they earn our Lie of the Year for 2014.

PolitiFact editors choose the Lie of the Year, in part, based on how broadly a myth or falsehood infiltrates conventional thinking. In 2013, it was the promise made by President Barack Obama and other Democrats that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” While no singular line about Ebola matched last year’s empty rhetoric about health care, the statements together produced a dangerous and incorrect narrative.

PolitiFact and PunditFact rated 16 separate claims about Ebola as Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire on our Truth-O-Meter in 2014. Ten of those claims came in October, as Duncan’s case came to the fore and as voters went to the polls to select a new Congress.

The Northern White Rhino will likely go extinct in a few years because a lot of Chinese Men are worried about Dick Performance.  There are only five left now and they are all elderly and in Zoos and Reserves.   This just makes me want to cry and hate people.

A northern white rhino has died at a San Diego zoo, leaving only five worldwide and bringing the species closer to extinction.

Angalifu, 44, died of old age Sunday at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park announced that Angalifu, one of six remaining northern white rhinos in the world, died Sunday.\nCredit: \tSan Diego Zoo/Helene Hoffman\n
San Diego Zoo Safari Park announced that Angalifu, one of six remaining northern white rhinos in the world, died Sunday. Credit: San Diego Zoo/Helene Hoffman

“With Angalifu’s passing, only five northern white rhinos are left on the planet, including Nola, our elderly female,” the zoo said in a statement.

He was one of a handful of northern white rhinos left worldwide, including a few at a wildlife conservancy in Kenya. There are no known northern white rhinos left in the wild.

Northern white rhinos and southern white rhinos are different subspecies genetically.

Last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature declared the northern white rhino as “teetering on the brink of extinction.”

Rhinos are killed by poachers almost exclusively for their horns, which sell for tens of thousands of dollars.

Experts say that rhino horn is becoming more lucrative than drugs. The demand is driven primarily by buyers in East Asia, who believe it cures a series of ailments.

Meanwhile, pregnant women are being victimized by state laws and health officials that can’t seem to keep their religious views to themselves. A woman was placed in jail because of Wisconsin’s personhood law.  The woman’s not a person, but war-on-womenthe 14 week old fetus evidently is now and can be protected on the word of any religious hysteric that happens to be a nurse.  Here’s a story where the state put lives at risk out of the concern of religious zealots that believe that women can’t be trusted to be pregnant.  Here’s a story that violates every citizen’s right to privacy and every health care giver’s oath to do no harm.

Tamara Loerstcher was suffering from an untreated thyroid condition and depression and had begun to self medicate with drugs when, in late July 2014, she suspected she might also be pregnant. Loerstcher, uninsured at the time, went to an Eau Claire, Wisconsin, hospital for medical treatment and to confirm her pregnancy.

After submitting to a urinalysis, Loerstcher disclosed her past drug use to hospital workers. But instead of caring for Loerstcher, who as it turns out was 14 weeks pregnant, hospital workers had her jailed.

Those are the allegations in a soon-to-be-filed federal civil rights lawsuit by attorneys from National Advocates for Pregnant Women, the Carr Center for Reproductive Justice at New York University School of Law, and the Perkins Coie law firm.

Loerstcher and her attorneys, in a call with reporters, detailed her experience, including her alleged mistreatment by Wisconsin officials and the ongoing deprivation of Loerstcher’s constitutional rights under a Wisconsin law that grants authorities the power to involuntarily detain and confine a pregnant woman for substance use if she “habitually lacks self-control” and her substance use poses a “substantial risk” to the health of an egg, embryo, or fetus.

The Wisconsin policy is similar in nature to radical “personhood” laws pushed in state legislatures controlled by anti-choice lawmakers. “Personhood” amendments, which would outlaw abortion at any stage of pregnancy, were roundly rejected by voters in several states on Election Day.

According to Loertscher and her attorneys, unbeknownst to her, as hospital workers were preparing a prescription to treat Loertscher’s thyroid condition, they were also initiating unborn child protection proceedings on behalf of Loertscher’s then 14-week-old fetus.

Loertscher and her attorneys claim that within days of Loertscher seeking care, hospital workers had already turned over Loerstcher’s hospital records to the state without Loerstcher’s knowledge or consent. They also claim that with those records in hand, state officials filed a petition accusing Loerstcher of abuse of an unborn child and held a hearing in which the state had appointed an attorney, known as a guardian ad litem, for the 14-week-old fetus, but granted Loerstcher no meaningful representation.

At the hearing, Loertscher and her attorneys allege she was ordered by the court into in-patient treatment even though she had not used drugs recently and voluntarily sought medical care. When Loerstcher refused to go to in-patient treatment, she was held in contempt of court and sent to jail, where she was held for 17 days without prenatal care and subject to abuse and harassment.

“This was my first pregnancy, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Loerstcher told reporters. “I was having lots of cramping and a lot of stress from everything and they [jail officials] wouldn’t allow me to see the doctor. They told me I would have to see a jail-appointed doctor who told me she wanted me to take a pregnancy test to confirm the pregnancy even though that’s why I was in jail, because I was pregnant. They knew that’s why I was there.”

Loerstcher claims she refused the pregnancy test, and in response, correction officials put her in solitary confinement and threatened to use a taser on her. “The jail doctor told me if I chose to miscarry, there wasn’t anything they could do about it anyways,” Loertscher said through tears.

About a week after Loerstcher’s release, she says she got a notice in the mail from the state stating they had found she had engaged in child abuse.

“It was really devastating to get that letter,” said Loerstcher. Unless it’s overturned on appeal, Loerstcher’s name will appear on the state’s child abuse registry for life. That would mean Loerstcher, who is a certified nurse’s aid, would be unable to work in her field, noted her attorney, and that she would be barred from ever volunteering at her son’s school after he is born in January. “This has very serious ramifications for her life and economic stability long term,” said Sara Ainsworth, director of legal advocacy at the National Advocates for Pregnant Women and counsel for Loerstcher.

In order to be released from jail, Loertscher had to sign a consent decree agreeing to additional drug tests, so she remains under state custody to some extent, her lawyer said.

GOP and WomenMore evidence that Republicans can’t be trusted to govern as written by Steve Benen.   No idiot media seeking continual bipartisanship, there  simply is no Bipartisanship Santa.  A vote for a Republican is a vote for a destroyed economy, a destroyed ecosystem, a destroyed school system, and a lot of disenfranchised Americans who will have their rights stripped away quickly.

Just one month later, there’s already ample evidence that those assumptions about Republican maturity were completely wrong.
Republican Tom Price, the incoming House Budget Committee chairman, said his party could demand steep spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling next year, the most provocative comments by a senior GOP member to date on how negotiations could play out.
The Georgia congressman, during an hour-long briefing with reporters Friday, said the expected mid-2015 debate over whether to raise or suspend the debt ceiling offered Republicans an opportunity to make a sizable imprint on government policy.
The far-right Georgian added that he wants to see Republicans bring back the so-called “Boehner rule” – an arbitrary policy that demands a dollar in cuts for every dollar increase in the debt limit – that even Republicans recognized as ridiculous a couple of years ago.
“I prefer to think about it as opportunities and pinch points,” Price said, apparently using “pinch points” as a euphemism for “causing deliberate national harm.”
It’s worth emphasizing that Price isn’t some random, fringe figure, shouting from the sidelines – the Georgia Republican next month will fill Paul Ryan’s shoes as chairman of the House Budget Committee.
In other words, it matters that Price envisions a strategy in which Republicans threaten to hurt Americans on purpose unless Democrats meet the GOP’s demands.
That said, Price would be wise to start lowering expectations – his intention to create a deliberate crisis will almost certainly fail.
The gist of the plan is effectively identical to the scheme hated by House Republicans in 2011. Next year, the Treasury Department will alert Congress to the fact that it’s time to borrow the funds necessary to pay for the things Congress has already bought. As Price sees it, the GOP-led Congress will tell the Obama administration, “We’ll cooperate, but only if you slash public investments. If not, we’ll default on our debts, crash the economy, and destroy the full faith and credit of the United States.”
Why Price or anyone else would want to slash public investments right now – hurting the economy, just as the recovery gains steam – is a bit of a mystery.

No conversation on evil can forget Dick Cheney. I’m not sure how close you’ve been following the Dick Cheney Torture-rama Press tour, but it’s pretty disgusting.  I’m usually not up for Conor Friedersdorf, but even he thinks Cheney’s an Evil Dickhead.  Cheney’s interview with Chuck Todd on Sunday was like watching one of those mad scientist movies.

121614-toon-luckovich-ed

That exchange leaves no room for mistaking former vice-president Cheney’s position: better to chain a man to the wall of a cell, douse him in cold water, and leave him there to freeze to death, even if he later turns out to be innocent, than to release that same man and risk not that he detonates a nuclear bomb in Manhattan, but that he ends up “on the battlefield,” where there’s a chance he could harm Americans. What if fully one-in-four prisoners tortured by the CIA were innocent?

Cheney is still unmoved:

CHUCK TODD:

Is that too high? You’re okay with that margin for error?

DICK CHENEY:

I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective.

The ends justify the means.

There is no clearer illustration of the morally corrosive nature of torture than the once unthinkable position that Dick Cheney is unashamedly espousing on television. The position is even less defensible than the conceit that the Office of Legal Counsel defines what torture is. It is so indefensible that Cheney himself can scarcely maintain it.

You have to wonder where you measure on the vast barometer of human sewage if Conor Friedersorf won’t defend your evil ass as a former Republican ‘Conservative” Vice President.

Jon Stewart for the win, however.  “Puppet Master Cheney’s mind” is “the scariest fucking place in the universe.” 

“George W. Bush, thank you for not dying while you were in office,” Stewart said to the former president.

When pressed by Todd to explain his definition of torture following the release of a Senate report criticizing the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” procedures, Cheney continually defined torture as the events of the 9/11 attacks.

“I see — that’s just what meets the definition of torture in his mind,” Stewart said. “His mind, I assume, being the scariest f*cking place in the universe.”

Stewart then tried to get a peek inside the “presidential puppet master’s” mind, only to find a scene out of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

“Never took him for a brony,” Stewart observed.

What set Cheney apart, Stewart explained, was his ability to set the “moral bar” for the U.S. at anything just shy of the worst thing that had been done to the country, as well as his confidence.

“He’s impervious to doubt,” Stewart said. “It never enters his mind that the confident, plain-spoken pronouncements of truth are often times complete bullsh*t.”

shutterstock_101263915-800x430There, name that republican presidential candidate for 2016 over in that line up.  Whichever one gets on the ballot, there will be a Koch entering his backside. My guess is that he’ll have Dick Cheney on the campaign trail for him too.

 And, yes, David Koch is Evil.  Amanda Marcotte gets it right.

Here’s the thing about men like David Koch: Making money is basically just a video game to them. For the rest of us, making money is about being able to pay for things we need and want, such as rent and food and actual video games. But David Koch has made so much money that he literally cannot spend it all. There is nothing he would want to buy he cannot already afford. The only purpose at this point in making more money is for the pleasure of beating your high score. In other words, it really is just a very consuming video game. But unlike when you kill people in Call of Duty or crush candies in Candy Crush, the game David Koch is playing is very real. Millions of people will suffer and die because he wants to “win” his video game by manipulating the public to avoid taking action on global warming. That is evil and hateful and selfish on a level that puts the word “selfish” to shame.

And no, being pro-choice and pro-gay doesn’t make up for it. That’s like having a hobby of strangling kittens and then saying it’s all good because you donate clothes to Goodwill once in awhile. Worse, actually, because David Koch isn’t actually pro-choice in any meaningful sense, because he gives money to anti-choice activists, as documented by Adele Stan at RH Reality CheckThe Koch brothers give money to right wing umbrella groups, who then give it to anti-choicers. Why is fairly obvious. This is about manipulating misogynist, anti-sex hysteria in order to elect politicians who are on board with the anti-environmentalist agenda. A manipulation that is, in itself, evil on a couple of levels, both because you’re manipulating people and because you’re engaging bad people who have bad motivations to hurt and control others. It’s terrible, hateful behavior all the way down.

With that, I’ll leave you to grade papers.  I’m pretty sick of humanity at the moment and I do not understand how any one with a will to survive could vote Republican anymore.

Anyway, I dare y’all to find good news today.  Please!!!


Monday Reads: “Christmas Is At Our Throats Again.”

Matisse woman reading2

Good Morning!!

It’s only 10 days until Christmas, and I really can’t wait until the whole dreadful thing is over and we can go back to normal life. Even though I generally ignore “the holidays,” no one can really avoid being affected by the insanity of it all.

On Sunday, The New York Times published a piece about the empty feeling so many people have at this time of year. The author is Arthur C. Brooks of the {gag!} American Enterprise Institute, but I’m trying to ignore that too for the moment. He opens with a supposed quote from Noel Coward: “Christmas is at our throats again.” I can’t believe I’ve never heard it before.

Abundance Without Attachment

“Christmas is at our throats again.”

That was the cheery yuletide greeting favored by the late English playwright Noël Coward, commemorating the holiday after which he was named. Less contrarian were the words of President Calvin Coolidge: “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

Which quotation strikes a chord with you? Are you a Coward or a Coolidge?

If you sympathize more with Coward, welcome to the club. There are many more of us out there than one might expect. A 2005 survey by the Pew Research Center found that more than half of Americans were bothered “some” or “a lot” by the commercialization of Christmas. A 2013 follow-up confirmed that materialism is Americans’ least favorite part of the season.

Call it the Christmas Conundrum. We are supposed to revel in gift-giving and generosity, yet the season’s lavishness and commercialization leave many people cold. The underlying contradiction runs throughout modern life. On one hand, we naturally seek and rejoice in prosperity. On the other hand, success in this endeavor is often marred by a materialism we find repellent and alienating.

Read the rest if you’re interested. I have some issues with the author’s point of view; if he’s really into nonattachment, why is he employed by the AEI?

wise men

I also came across this piece from last December 20 in The New Republic. It’s a reprint of an essay from 1990 by James S. Henry.

Why I Hate Christmas

Although for many years Christmas has been justified on the grounds that it is “merry,” rigorous quantitative analysis establishes that the opposite is the case. Despite claims advanced by proponents that the holiday promotes a desirable “spirit,” makes people “jolly,” etc., the data show that the yuletide time period is marked by environmental degradation, hazardous products and travel, andperhaps most importantinefficient uses of key resources. The holiday is an insidious and overlooked factor in America’s dwindling savings rates, slack worth ethic, and high crime rates. Nor does Christmas truly fulfill its purported distributional objective: the transfer of gifts to those who need them. Moreover, the number of people rendered “joyous” by Christmas is probably equaled or excelled by the number made to feel rather blue. In short, as shown below, although Christmas is an important religious observance that provides wintertime fun for children (who would probably be having fun anyway), it fails the test of cost-effectiveness.

Christmas consumes vast resources in the dubious and uncharitable activity of “forced giving.” First, it is necessary to factor in all the time spent searching for “just the right gifts,” writing and mailing cards to people one ignores the rest of the year, decorating trees, attending dreary holiday parties with highly fattening, cholesterol-rich eggnog drinks and false cheer, and returning presents. Assuming conservatively that each U.S. adult spends an average of two days per year on Christmas activities, this represents an investment of nearly one million person-years per season. Just as important is the amount that Americans spend on gratuitous gifts each year$40 billion to $50 billion, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s monthly retail trade sales. Extra consumer spending is often considered beneficial because it stimulates the economy, but the massive yuletide spike creates numerous harmful externalities.

Mistargeted giving is one indication of this waste. According to New York department stores, each year about 15 percent of all retail dollar purchases at Christmas are returned. Allowing for the fact that many misdirected gifts are retained because people feel obliged to keep them (such as appliances, tablecloths, etc., which must be displayed when the relative who gave them to you comes for a visit), and allowing for the widespread inability of children to return gifts, this indicates that up to a third of purchases may be ill-suited to their recipients. Christmas is really a throwback to all the inefficiencies of the barter economy, in which people have to match other people’s wants to their offerings. Of course, money was invented precisely to solve this “double coincidence of wants” problem. One solution would be to require people to give each other cash as presents, but that would quickly reveal the absurdity of the whole institution.

“Forced giving” also artificially pumps up consumption and reduces savings, since it is unlikely that all the silly and expensive presents given at Christmas would be given at other times of the year. One particularly noxious aspect of Christmas consumption is “conspicuous giving,” which involves luxury gifts such as Tiffany eggs, crystal paperweights, and $15,000 watches that are designed precisely for those who are least in need of any present at all (“the person who has everything”). Most such high-priced gifts are given at Christmas; the fourth quarter, according to a sampling of New York department stores, provides more than half the year’s diamond, watch, and fur sales.

Read the rest at the link. The points are actually more relevant today in the era of the new Robber Barons than it was in 1990.

Xmas-is-evil-1-640x480

Now to the news of the day.

A hostage crisis developed in Sydney Australia yesterday and it is still going on. One armed man was holding as many as 15 hostages inside the Lindt Chocolat Cafe. There appears to be some connection with Islamic terrorism, but it’s not clear yet if this is a lone wolf or or someone actually connected to the Islamic State. From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Efforts by police to negotiate a peaceful end to a siege of a cafe in the heart of Sydney’s CBD are continuing well into the night.

Police said they are dealing with an armed man, who has been holding an undisclosed number of hostages at the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Martin Place since about 9.45am.

Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione told an evening media conference that police were in contact with the suspected gunman, adding that “we are only dealing with one location”.

“Our plan, our only goal tonight is to get those people who are currently caught in that building, out of there,” Mr Scipione said. “Rest assured, we are doing all we can to set you free.”

Some hostages have now escaped. There’s lots more information at that link.

More from the LA Times:

Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed late Monday that the gunman appeared to have “a political motivation,” and local media reported that the gunman was trying to obtain an Islamic State flag in exchange for some of the hostages.

Two people inside the cafe had been seen pressed up against the window holding a black flag with Arabic writing early in the siege, which began about 9:45 a.m. local time. The flag appeared to say: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.”

The gunman claimed to have planted four bombs, two inside the cafe, and two elsewhere in Sydney, local media reported. Authorities declined to “speculate” about reports of explosives.

“I can’t speculate on what may or may not be, and that would be very unhelpful at the moment,” Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn said at an evening news conference. “At the moment we know that the person we are dealing with is armed.”

She declined to call the incident a terrorist act. “We still don’t know what the motivation might be,” she said, adding that authorities “want to resolve this peacefully.”

christmas-music

Sony Pictures is warning media outlets not to publish their hacked e-mails. From The Washington Post: 

After days of silence, Sony Pictures Entertainment acknowledged a voluminous, embarrassing leak of internal e-mails and other materials on Sunday, warning numerous media outlets in a strongly worded letter against publishing or using the “stolen” corporate data exposed by unidentified hackers.

The materials, particularly e-mails, provided an extraordinary glimpse inside one of the world’s best-known corporations. The initial stories based on the materials went viral and absorbed days of coverage last week, illuminating the high-powered dealings, petty squabbling and ego that can define Hollywood.

The company threatened legal action against news organizations that failed to heed its request, a strategy some legal scholars say would have a rough time passing muster under the First Amendment, which protects freedom of the press. Though no one has accused any news organization of participating in the theft, the letter appears to be a gambit to stop news outlets from reporting the documents.

Sony’s action came just as the hackers, who call themselves the “Guardians of Peace” reportedly threatened another dump of stolen data. The hackers have demanded the company withdraw an upcoming comedy based on a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

So the rumors that the hackers are from North Korea is true then?

The contents of the leaked data, which some analysts suspect may be linked to a North Korean regime furious over the release of Sony’s movie “The Interview,” included information on Sony’s salaries, business dealings, private health records and executive correspondence. Those letters revealed what’s been described in media reports as a racially insensitive conversation involving President Obama and disparaging remarks about some of Hollywood’s biggest actors, including Angelina Jolie and Leonardo DiCaprio.

There’s much more at the WaPo link.

google-hates-christmas-300x300

After Elizabeth Warren’s speech in the Senate last week, many in the media are stepping up their efforts to get Warren to challenge Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic nomination. It’s truly horrifying–almost an exact repeat of what happened in 2008 when the progs who now hate Obama’s guts–and eventually the Democratic establishment and the meda–handed the nomination to Obama, a candidate with only two years’ experience in the Senate. Obama at least had some political experience as a state legislator; Warren doesn’t even have that. And where would the money come from?

Some links to explore:

Wonkblog: Elizabeth Warren was told to stay quiet, but she didn’t – and it’s paying off.

WBUR Boston (NPR): Sen. Warren Warns That Spending Bill Sets Dangerous Precedent.

Huffington Post: The Speech That Could Make Elizabeth Warren the Next President of the United States.

Don’t get me wrong; I applaud what Warren is doing. But do we really want to nominate another presidential candidate based on one speech?

There’s been another police involved shooting of an unarmed black man–this time in Houston.

From the Houston Chronicle: Police: Man shot during traffic stop in southwest Houston.

Two police officers opened fire on an apparently unarmed man during a traffic stop in southwest Houston Friday night, allegedly shooting him three times for not following commands.

HPD officers pulled over the car the man was a riding in for an illegal lane change around 9:30 p.m. on Buffalo Speedway near West Fuqua.

According to authorities, the male passenger — identified by family as 38-year-old Michael Paul Walker — failed to obey orders and started to reach under his car seat.

“They saw the doors open up, one of the officers gave repeated verbal commands to stay inside the vehicle, then the officer went to brace the door to keep him (the passenger) inside,” said Houston Police Department spokesman Victor Senties. “At one point he had his arm all the way under the seat, right up to the elbow, as if he was trying to grab something … The officer gave him commands to show his hands … at that point the officer was in fear of his life and that of his partner.”

The officer fired at the man. Initial reports suggest that Walker then got out of the car and was walking around the parking lot of a convenience store before he was shot again.

“The suspect got out of the vehicle … he was digging into his pockets and waist band,” said Senties, adding that the second officer also shot the suspect.

Yeah, whatever. I don’t believe anything cops say anymore.

image_5647

Raw Story has a report from a witness to the shooting: Bystanders plead with unarmed black man to ‘lay down’ after Houston police repeatedly shoot him.

Laquesha Spencer told Local 2 that she was yelling at Walker, “‘Lay down, they are going to shoot you. They are going to kill you.’ And I guess he was in shock, he had already been shot three times, because I heard multiple gunshots.”

As Walker was stripping down, the partner of the officer who first shot him opened fire, striking him again. Police then charged and handcuffed Walker, who was taken to the hospital where he is listed in serious, but stable, condition.

Walker’s sister, Laura, said she believes the police used excessive force and is already pursuing legal action. “He didn’t even have a gun,” she said, “he’s never owned a weapon.”

At least this police shooting victim is in the hospital, not dead.

Also from Raw Story, an update on events surrounding the police shooting of John Crawford for holding a toy gun in an Ohio Walmart store: Ohio cop threatens sobbing girlfriend with jail after police gun down man in Walmart.

Police aggressively questioned the tearful girlfriend of a young black man they had just shot dead as he held a BB gun in an Ohio supermarket – accusing her of lying, threatening her with jail, and suggesting her boyfriend had planned to shoot the mother of his children.

Tasha Thomas was reduced to swearing on the lives of her relatives that John Crawford III had not been carrying a firearm when they entered the Walmart in Beavercreek, near Dayton, to buy crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars on the evening of 5 August.

“You lie to me and you might be on your way to jail,” detective Rodney Curd told Thomas, as she wept and repeatedly offered to take a lie-detector test. After more than an hour and a half of questioning and statement-taking, Curd finally told Thomas that Crawford, 22, had died.

“As a result of his actions, he is gone,” said the detective, as she slumped in her chair and cried.

I’ll end there. I have a few more links for you that I’ll post in comments. What stories are you following today?


Sunday Reads: With a Face Like a Baboon’s…

4909b9572278555f69601692965f7419Good Sunday!

Hey, Dakinikat and Boston Boomer went local the last couple of days, so I am going to take this opportunity to do the same. Only this is not going to be a whole post on the crazy ass happenings of Banjoville. It will only be a few links about a story making world headlines from my hometown of Tampa, Florida. In fact…it is specifically about the parents of my childhood arch nemesis…a girl named “Jonele”…who I once told way back in fourth grade, at Tampa Bay Elementary School, in Mrs. de la Parte’s class…that she had a face like a baboon’s ass. (When you see the picture of her mother…whom she favored especially through the eyes and nose…you will see the resemblance is striking.)

Anyway, I remember when Jonele’s parents completely remodeled their house. It was redecorated in South American style…it looked like a big expensive Mexican style veranda, with the open area and orange-red tile floors. Something the mother had seen while on vacation…I remember it so well…her mother talking about it during Jonele’s birthday party, as she was showing people the little Mayan-like statues she got from her trip.

There is a reason for all this buildup.

I don’t know why Jonele was the bitch she was…or why she seem to pick on me. But she did, and I couldn’t stand it.

450cd893db0aacf541de5557041d02d8I had only spent 2nd and 3rd grade dealing with her shit on a daily basis, that face she would give me…the look. Damn. How she would make me cry. Sometimes I wouldn’t go to school, I would fake being sick, until I got the balls to finally tell her off that day…in the hallway, just outside the door as we were walking into Mrs. de la Parte’s fourth grade class. It was magnificent. And other kids heard me too…from that point on I stood up for myself, and I stood up for other people too…no matter what.

I guess Baboon Face gave me the ability to voice my convictions. I had always been loud and demanding as a kid, but when it came to bullies…that was another matter. Thankfully Jonele empowered me that day…we never became friends. In fact my senior yearbook still has the word bitch written across her face…but the point is that she did have some positive impact on my life, and for that I say…thank you…you bullying  baboon faced shitass bitch.

And now the news story…by the way…it also hits a bitter note because of the BoA business too.

Bank of America ordered to pay Tampa family $1 million for harassing calls | Tampa Bay Times

Joyce and Nelson Coniglio sit with attorney David Mitchell, left, after they won a $1 million judgment against Bank of America.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Joyce and Nelson Coniglio sit with attorney David Mitchell, left, after they won a $1 million judgment against Bank of America.

For four years, Joyce and Nelson Coniglio were haunted by these words:

240d537df7141f1f9e20a6309aef1c91This is Bank of America calling.
Oh…yeah…I’ve heard those same words. So did my parents. Ugh…I fucking can’t stand these people. Still.

The calls started in 2009 when B of A took over the mortgage the Coniglios used to buy a second home in their Tampa Heights neighborhood. They quickly fell behind.

On their second home no less…

The bank called, the family said, while they tried to get the loan modified. B of A called even after the cease-and-desist letters. There were hundreds of robocalls, sometimes five a day.

In July, the Coniglios sued in federal court to stop the harassment. Three months later, they won — by default judgment. B of A missed the deadline to oppose the lawsuit.

Now the bank owes the Coniglios more than $1 million.

1cf0f63d987c7b49ba3bd7d4acd77916One of the family’s attorneys, John Anthony, said he’s trying to collect right now.

“Unlike Bank of America,” he said, “we’re only going to call them once.”

You know, why do some people always seem to “luck” out?

The Coniglios are both 69 and have been married for 45 years.

Joyce Coniglio spent 44 years teaching at Tampa Bay Boulevard Elementary School. Nelson Coniglio was a trucker. In 1999 he pleaded guilty to federal charges for piloting drugs and money for a Tampa ring operating in Colombia.

The couple live in Tampa Heights, on a block surrounded by relatives. In 2006, the Conigilios bought a second home in the neighborhood for $180,000, according to records.

They didn’t have a plan for the house. Maybe another relative could use it. Maybe they would downsize. All the Coniglios knew was, they could afford it.

Then the recession hit, and so did B of A .

I don’t know, seems like they are well connected to me…

You can read the rest of the story at the link. But the thing that gets me is Nelson plead guilty for trafficking drugs and money, and here he is…winner of a million dollar lawsuit from Bank of America. There is a quote from Nelson in the article that reads:

When the bank took over the mortgage, the family said it imposed a more expensive homeowner’s insurance policy on them, doubling their payments to $2,800 a month.

“Everything changed,” Nelson Coniglio said. “Our incomes go down, our bills go up. It’s the American way.”

Uh, well…you fly in drugs and money for the mob, you get charged with a federal crime, and then you wind up winning a million dollars. (If you are white.) Then yes…it is the American Way.

Yes, I am a bitter bitch about this story and these people who got to stick it to BoA. Of all the poor people who have been through the same thing as the Coniglios, and that includes me and my family, why couldn’t the big win go to a more deserving set of BoA customers.

On with the rest of today’s links, starting with the connection to the images you will see (Not baboons):

The delicate material that takes months to weave by hand

Bangladesh is often associated with cheap clothes produced for the mass market, but the delicate and much more expensive jamdani fabric is also made here. The people who weave the material are highly sought-after employees.

Bangladeshi weaver designs a Jamdani Sari

On the banks of the River Lakshya – just outside Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital – the sun is heating the tiny corrugated iron factory I am standing in to oven-like temperatures.

Inside, under a string of bare light bulbs, six master weavers sit in pairs, barely breaking a sweat at their bamboo looms.

The men are shirtless. The women wear neon-coloured salwar kameez – a traditional South Asian garment. All of them rest their arms on cheap white cotton, protecting the delicate muslin they are working on.

This dirt-floor workshop might not hint at luxury, but the special jamdani fabric made here is highly coveted and incredibly expensive.

The factory owner, Anwar Hossain, walks me past the looms. Whiplash thin and just over 5ft (1.5m) tall, he doesn’t disturb the workers as he pauses to let me admire the work of one young woman who sits below us.

Inside the factory

 

Her hands, spinning like furious atoms, interlace silky gold thread into a sheer muslin cloth the colour of oxblood.

“Jamdani is expensive since it requires dedicated work and special skills,” Hossain says, flicking a bejewelled hand over the peacock feather motif that the young woman works on. “My weavers don’t use patterns, they create only from memory.”

0003819_white_n_red_garod_jamdani_15_offPlease take the time to read the rest of that piece over at BBC, then at the end of this post I will have a few other links on the jamdani weave structure and development.

Back to the real world: Senate passes five-day budget extension, averting shutdown | Al Jazeera America

The Senate passed a five-day extension of federal funding on Saturday, staving off a government shutdown and buying lawmakers more time to resolve the fight over a $1.1 trillion spending bill led by Tea Party firebrand Ted Cruz.

It was the second time in a little over a year that Cruz, a Texas Republican freshman with presidential aspirations, has attempted to stop a key Obama administration initiative by denying government funds. In this case, Cruz was targeting Obama’s executive order that offered millions of undocumented immigrants relief from the threat of deportation.

Cruz was a central figure in a 16-day government shutdown in October 2013, when he persuaded Republicans to try to withhold funds from Obamacare, President Barack Obama’s landmark health care reform law.

In the end, Cruz got none of what he wanted and Republicans were left with little but voter anger.

What an ass, and a hypocrite. His father is a immigrant from Cuba via Canada, right?

Cruz and senators Mike Lee of Utah and Jeff Sessions of Alabama were demanding permission to offer an amendment that would deny the DHS any funds for carrying out Obama’s November immigration order. Critics of the order have called it an amnesty for lawbreakers.

Senators from both parties complained on Saturday that Cruz’s strategy was counterproductive and aimed at grabbing attention.

“This reminds me very much of the shutdown last year, where the strategy made absolutely no sense and was counterproductive,” Republican Senator Susan Collins said.

[…]

805792685_75cfb3110dAs reporters tried to interview Cruz as he entered the Senate chamber in the Capitol, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill shouted: “Quit giving him so much attention, that’s exactly what’s causing the problem!”

That is the first piece of sense I have heard from the Hill in ages.

In #BlackLivesMatter news:

Mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice Unite

The mothers of four slain black men and boys, three of whom were killed by police sat down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper for a heart-wrenching interview where they made one thing absolutely clear: their sons would be alive if they were white.

Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, Lesley McSpadden, mother of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice‘s mother Samaria Rice, and Eric Garner‘s mother Gwen Carr came together and spoke about their losses as well as the role of race.

[…]

All of these women have suffered immense pain, and it’s maddening that they have to justify their pain and the injustice they feel as mothers of unarmed black victims. When Cooper asked if they thought things would have turned out differently if their sons were white, he framed it as a “hard question to ask.” But for these four mothers, it was the easiest one to answer.

DSC03614More at that link.

Speaking of Anderson Cooper: Addicting Info – Anderson Cooper’s Amazing Reaction To Finding Out A Slave Killed His Ancestor With A Farm Hoe (VIDEO)

Meanwhile, Effigies of black people found hanging on UC Berkeley campus – NY Daily News

Amid national protests decrying police brutality, three effigies of black people were discovered hanging by a noose on the Berkeley campus at the University of California.

Police and students took the cardboard cutouts depicting lynching victims down Saturday afternoon from two locations on campus as demonstrations broke out to the theme of “#blacklivesmatter.”

“We’re uncertain of the intention of this. It could be related to the protests, but it could be racially motivated,” Claire Holmes told the Daily News. “We’d like to get to the bottom of it.”

The disturbing figures hanging from iconic landmarks on the Berkeley campus were reported to police just after 9 a.m., but a third effigy found through social media disappeared before police got to it.

Two of the photo effigies were labeled “I can’t breathe,” Eric Garner’s last words as NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a fatal chokehold.8019493276_b0dc005215_z

The campus is investigating it as a hate crime.

And yet, just earlier in the week over at Berkley: CA Police Chief Joins ‘Black Lives Matter’ Protest, Scolded by Police Union | Mediaite

Richmond, California police chief made quite the statement this week by standing with protesters and holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign:

#richmondca Chief of Police Chris Magnus joins peaceful demonstration along Macdonald Avenue. Richmond rocks.

A photo posted by Mindy Pines (@messageframer) on

And you’ll notice, Chief Chris Magnus is very noticeably wearing his police uniform.

That in particular was the issue taken by the Richmond Police Officers Association, which released a statement criticizing Magnus by citing the state government code’s explicit ban on police officers participating in political activity while in uniform.

One union attorney said they’re “disappointed the chief felt free to flaunt those laws by wearing his uniform during the protest.”

 

jamdaniThe protest are still going on all over the country:

Orange Is the New Black Cast at Million March NYC Protest | Mediaite

Thousands of protesters hit the streets in New York City on Saturday to protest police violence after the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island in what came to be known as the #MillionMarchNYC demonstration. Among them were several members of the cast of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black.

Vicky Jeudy, who plays Janae Watson, posted this dramatic photo of the group holding “I Can’t Breathe” signs and doing the “Hands up, Don’t Shoot” gesture.

In Washington DC: ‘A Movement, Not Just a Moment:’ Thousands March in D.C. Protesting Police Violence – The Root -Read some interviews with people walking in the protest.

b97d74c9f7aada825cc3881f9a0ef85eFrom BAR: It’s Not the Law, But Prosecutors, That Give Immunity to Killer Cops | Black Agenda Report

“In refusing to prosecute, Obama and Holder demonstrate their own profound disregard for the collective rights of Black Americans as a people.”

Black Americans know all about “law and order”: the term, itself, is code for the state-wielded hammer that is relentlessly deployed against us. No people on earth are more conditioned to concentrated bludgeoning under “color of law” than African Americans, who account for one out of out eight of the world’s prison inmates. Black males are 21 times more likely than their white peers to be killed by U.S. lawmen, and make up a clear majority of young police shooting victims under the most draconian law and order regime on the planet. Of all the world’s peoples, none have been so unremittingly inculcated with the lessons of crime and punishment – especially punishment, whether merited or not.

For a people so acculturated, justice demands retribution – even for Pharaoh and his army. Thus, the simple and near-universal Black American demand that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder prosecute killer cops.

But, this they will not do.

The Obama administration has no intention of pursuing prosecution of Darren Wilson, or Trayvon Martin’s vigilante killer George Zimmerman, or the whole crew of New York City homicidal and/or depravedly indifferent first-responders in the Eric Garner case. Obama and Holder have nothing worthwhile to say to the nine grieving Black mothersnow visiting Washington demanding justice for their murdered loved ones, other than empty assurances that they feel the families’ pain.

27175339bed8e94a319f2bb4edaeb030The U.S. Justice Department, which marshals unlimited resources to pursue long and sometimes fruitless prosecutions of whistleblowers and other “national security” targets, claims it is helpless to confront police impunity in the murder of Black Americans. The law, Holder and his apologists claim, requires that federal criminal prosecutions under the civil rights statute must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers “acted willfully” for the specific purpose of violating the victim’s 4th Amendment constitutional right to life. Making that case, they say, is near-impossible, requiring that prosecutors “get inside the officer’s head” to divine his intentions at the moment the trigger was pulled. Therefore, despite Holder and Obama’s public statements of concern, no good faith attempt is made to mount prosecutions.

“Police immunity from prosecution begins with the prosecutors.”

You go and read the whole thing.

Especially when you consider: Addicting Info – White Protestors Threaten to Lynch President – No Cops, Arrests Or Tear Gas (VIDEO)

I thought this was an interesting article, it looks at words and their usage: How We Lost Our “Freedom” » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

In the wave of protests sparked by Grand Jury acquittals of the policemen who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the word “freedom” is seldom heard.

It was different in the Civil Rights era. Then “freedom” was the watchword of the entire movement.

Meanwhile, in his campaign to retain his Senate seat in Kentucky – and ultimately to become Majority Leader of the Senate – Mitch McConnell’s handlers put out a bumper sticker that read: “Coal. Guns. Freedom. Team Mitch.”

Michael Tomasky, who wrote about this in the New York Review of Books, also pointed out that Team Mitch campaigned tooth and nail against the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare.   The local version,“Kynect,” the state exchange established under the Affordable Care Act, has been unusually successful in signing up uninsured Kentuckians, and is widely popular.

Early in the campaign, it looked like McConnell would have a hard time defeating his Democratic rival, Alison Grimes. Grimes was careful to keep Obama at a distance, and she had nothing good to say about Obamacare. But she wasn’t careful enough; McConnell won handily.

In view of Kynect’s popularity, how could Team Mitch have gotten so much mileage out of running against it? The explanation speaks volumes about the Republican base. According to Tomasky, in an NBC News-Marist College poll conducted last spring, only 22% of white Kentuckians said that they opposed Kynect, while 60% said they opposed Obamacare. Shades of the Tea Party demand that the government keep its hands off Medicare!

In making Obamacare repeal their main war cry, was Team Mitch cynically exploiting the ignorance and befuddlement of Republican voters? “You betcha,” as Sarah Palin would say.

On that bumper sticker, where space was a priority, “freedom” functioned, at least in part, as a code word useful for conjuring up that ignorance and befuddlement. The thought, if it can be called that, is that because the Affordable Care Act exacts fines on people who do not purchase health insurance, it makes them less free. In other words, Obamacare commodifies health care, but it doesn’t commodify it quite enough.

64d1ede29fd285e24a9c26d321544865So understood (or misunderstood), “freedom” fits nicely with “coal” and “guns,” when they too are used as code words — for the economic and cultural anxieties of the people whose votes McConnell sought.

Bravo for Team Mitch. They came up with a brilliant slogan; brilliantly slick. American political discourse has become so degraded in recent years that “freedom” is now fits in nicely with “coal” (or “drill, baby drill” in oil states) and “guns.” Team Mitch was on top of this development, and took full advantage of it.

It wasn’t always so; “freedom” used to belong to us. It was the watchword of the Civil Rights movement and of the black power (or black liberation) movement that followed.   On the left, “freedom” – or “liberty,” the words are synonymous – was prominently and rightly paired alongside equality and fraternity (solidarity, community).

So much more to read at the link.

52de8ed807a539f1afc4ebf8beef6bedAnother long read, that looks at film, silent film: moviemorlocks.com – Slapstick While Black

Apologies: this week’s post is about racially insensitive jokes in silent comedy (Yes, Ben Martin, this one’s for you), and so I’ve got some unpleasant screen grabs, illustrating some gags most of us probably wish hadn’t been filmed, and then to make matters worse I’m going to speak clumsily and awkwardly about these things while analyzing jokes. None of which is really all that great an idea.

As recent history has tragically shown, we’ve got a lot of work do to repair race relations in America. But that’s not to say it’s on no one’s short list of priorities to pick at the scabs of ninety-year-old silent comedies.

Why am I doing this, then? Well, despite these festering wounds I love silent comedy, and I fear it’s slipping into cultural irrelevancy. The only way to keep these films and these comedians even marginally, passingly, culturally relevant is to keep bringing new audiences to them—and these racist gags are a significant barrier to that.

 

Check it out.

But y’all know those red “skinned” people are getting screwed too: Congress Screws Native Americans With Fine Print – Truthdig

Somehow U.S. lawmakers have used a defense spending bill to sell Native American burial ground to mining giant Rio Tinto. Yay, capitalism!

But seriously, here’s what happened: The Senate on Fridaypassed a defense spending bill. Like a Christmas tree dressed with ornaments, lawmakers attached a host of riders and provisions to the bill, including number of land swaps. One such swap sees the transfer of Arizona forest land considered sacred by multiple native tribes, the Apache in particular, to Rio Tinto. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because the mining concern is very unpopular with environmentalists, labor organizers, human rights activists and the government of Norway.

5144b559589e83d5bec34efd1510989aCrazy innit?

I am just glad that this is not Kim Kardashian: Time Magazine Names Ebola Fighters as 2014 ‘Person of the Year’

That is all on the news links, here’s the rest of the information on the Jamdani weaving:

From the UNESCO Culture Sector – Intangible Heritage – 2003 Convention : Traditional art of Jamdani weaving

Jamdani is a vividly patterned, sheer cotton fabric, traditionally woven on a handloom by craftspeople and apprentices around Dhaka. Jamdani textiles combine intricacy of design with muted or vibrant colours, and the finished garments are highly breathable. Jamdani is a time-consuming and labour-intensive form of weaving because of the richness of its motifs, which are created directly on the loom 25e1214b5d8ca7b307b9552babab3670using the discontinuous weft technique. Weaving is thriving today due to the fabric’s popularity for making saris, the principal dress of Bengali women at home and abroad. The Jamdani sari is a symbol of identity, dignity and self-recognition and provides wearers with a sense of cultural identity and social cohesion. The weavers develop an occupational identity and take great pride in their heritage; they enjoy social recognition and are highly respected for their skills. A few master weavers are recognized as bearers of the traditional Jamdani motifs and weaving techniques, and transmit the knowledge and skills to disciples. However, Jamdani weaving is principally transmitted by parents to children in home workshops. Weavers – together with spinners, dyers, loom-dressers and practitioners of a number of other supporting crafts – form a closely knit community with a strong sense of unity, identity and continuity.

You can see a slideshow here.

Or watch a video:

2565d2d6fc95eb4918a3a8fd85259c09From Frontline: The glory of jamdani

KALNA, a subdivision in West Bengal’s Bardhaman district, is known for its temples and hand-woven saris, particularly the jamdani weave. However, over the years, the delicate art of making jamdani with homespun yarn has practically disappeared, with mill-made yarn replacing khadi. Handloom purists can easily discern the difference between a traditional handwoven fabric and a mill-made one by the texture of the fabric. Much as anyone would want to possess the whole six yards of khadi jamdani, producing an authentic jamdani with traditional motifs is time consuming.

The Crafts Council of West Bengal, a non-profit organisation affiliated to the Crafts Council of India, has stepped in to encourage this skill. Ruby Palchoudhuri, honorary general secretary and executive director of the council, has taken up the challenge of reviving the traditional form of jamdani weaving. Designs and motifs from old saris (some even three generations old) are replicated with some variations. One of the main factors behind the decline of this traditional art of making jamdani is the time required to weave it. Though weaving is usually done by men, practically everything else, from spinning the yarn to spooling, is carried out by women.

The softness of the cotton fabric and the exquisite designs lend an enchanting quality to the saris. This magic in weave is the result of tireless work which brings meagre financial returns. Unknown and cac926555af07d49ae5af9d30a668e86unrecognised, a small group of weavers continue with this line of work, primarily because it is the only thing they have been taught to do.

This is something that is taught and passed down from generation to generation.

Hemanta Nandi and his family have been weavers for three generations. For a combined effort of 14 hours a day, he and his wife earn a measly Rs.5,000 a month. “We would be better off working in the paddy fields, where we would be earning Rs.140 for four hours of work. But we are not able to do that kind of work because this is all we have learnt to do. We somehow eke out a living because we live in the village and not in a town,” he toldFrontline.

The process of making khadi jamdani is broadly divided into two parts—the making of the yarn and the weaving at the loom. The crucial pre-loom stage is usually handled entirely by women, from the spinning of the yarn to the point when it is placed on the warping drum before it goes to the loom. According to master weaver Jyotish Debnath, in whose Kalna factory the jamdani revival project is struggling to take off, the process of producing the yarn involves very delicate work, which only a woman’s hands can accomplish.

There are three other full pages at the link. Along with lots of pictures too.

From a another person’s perspective: woven air | Bangladesh textile residency

We discovered the weaving! And not just any weaving, yesterday morning we went to visit the village Vargaon Dargabari, a region near Dhaka where they produce Jamdani fabrics, the most beautiful woven textiles found in Bangladesh.

The technique resembles a tapestry technique where individual threads are woven as supplementary wefts to form geometric and floral motifs. The ground is very fine unbleached cotton, set in open density to form a gauze textile background. Jamdani fabrics are woven on a pit loom by 2 weavers working together. It is a very laborious process and a sari length (6 yards of woven fabric) can take more than 2 0d616a1f3206c757b54a1de49e5d1171months to complete. See the videos below to appreciate the speed at which the weavers are working and how slowly the fabric grows!

I love this part, what the needle is made out of…

We were greeted by Abdul Jabbar Khan, one of the head weavers of the village and we visited a number of weaving set ups. Soon we had a following of inquisitive villagers and children! I explained I am a weaver too and I was invited to sit at the loom and try my hand at this technique. MrKhan very patiently showed me how to loop the thread over the kandu, a bone tool used for the extra thread weaving(we were told it is elephant tooth?!) and soon I knew just how time consuming the weaving process is. The most beautiful jamdani cloths we saw were dyed with natural pigments (see the last pictures in the series below).

Go to that link to see all the images. They are amazing.

Finally, the technique and stylistic designs used in jamdani weaving: Sari-Tangil & Jamdani | Parul Bhatnagar – Academia.edu

The Jamdani is a type of woven figured muslin sari, and in this type of weave special skill of the craftsman can be seen, by using a bamboo splinter like a needle, he can combine weaving, embroidery and ornamentation, the motifs of flowers and buds being sewn down as the pattern is formed between the meeting places of the warp and the weft. The Jamdanis are therefore like fragile tapestry and were usually woven in soft shade of fine grey cotton, decorated either in bluish grey design or sometimes with creamy white with gold or silver threads producing fine sari’s with full embellishment on the entire material and its border and pallav (top end) patterns comprising flowers set all over in sprays butidar, or run diagonally tircha, or formed a sort of crisscross Jal or lay scattered at even distance on the surface toradar.

Jamdani or “figured muslin”, traditionally woven in Dacca, (now Dhaka inBangladesh), West Bengal and Tanda in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, refers to cotton fabric brocaded with cotton and sometimes with zari threads.

 

I think you all will find those reads fascinating. Have a wonderful day, and enjoy yourselves.