Sunday Reads: The day after…the day, that was the last day?Posted: May 22, 2011
Good Sunday! We are all still here, and I am a bit disappointed. It would have been real nice to be rid of all these religious right, fetus fanatics and loud mouth politicians. After their Ascension, the rest of us heathens could get back to living a regular life without the constant sermons. Imagine a world where women can make their own choices and have access to affordable health care.
We can only dream…right?
Okay, so on with the show. I have lots of updates on the Arab Spring, and its movement northwest, to the land of Paella and running bulls.
First on our list has to be Syria. The protesters continue to be killed by Assad’s “security forces.” And on Saturday, 11 mourners were killed at the funerals. Syria mourners ‘attacked by security forces’ – Middle East – Al Jazeera English
At least 11 mourners have been killed and at least 27 wounded in Homs after security forces opened fire on a massive funeral procession, according to human rights activists.
More than 40,000 people gathered in Homs on Saturday for the funerals of protesters killed in the city on Friday and were walking back from the cemetery in Tal al Nasser on the outskirts of the city when they were fired on without warning, a witness told Al Jazeera.
The sound of gunfire and cries to help the wounded were audible over the phone as Al Jazeera spoke to the eyewitness.
But lawyer and human rights activist Lina Mansour told Al Jazeera, “Today we’ve lost about 10 people killed in Homs. Tens of people injured as well.”
It seems like these killings have been going on for so long, and it is not even Summer yet.
Another lawyer and human rights activist Razan Zaitouna told Al Jazeera that about 58 people have been killed since Friday and that the number continues to increase by the hour.
Zaitouna said while her human rights group has eleven names of those killed in protests at Homs, the actual death toll is much higher because there are many hospitals in different areas that have not yet been contacted for confirmation of casualties.
“First we should be clear, [the] violence is from one side,” she told Al Jazeera by phone from Damascus.
“People on the street act peacefully and don’t use any kind of violence. So who can stop this violence? It is the regime which uses the violence to crack down. It’s the regime who can stop the violence against the people who are demanding freedom – peacefully,” she said.
Zaitouna said there were many chances for the regime to open dialogue with the Syrian people and to stop the deadly crackdown, but now it might be too late.
According to this report, the number of dead in Syria is around 900: Shootings push death toll in Syria above 900 – The Boston Globe
“International pressure is still weak,’’ said Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut. “Despite Obama’s speech, the regime knows that staying in power is more important and in order to stay in power the regime is ready to do anything.’’
As I said above, the protest in Spain are gaining steam: Defiant Spaniards continue protests – Europe – Al Jazeera English Just look at this picture below, all those hands up, the young people standing up for themselves.
Thousands of demostrators demand social and political changes, the day prior to the elections. [EPA]
Thousands of Spaniards have filled city squares and camped out across the country to protest against government austerity before regional elections on Sunday which are likely to deal a blow to the Socialist government.
“In theory, we are going to continue” the protests after the elections, said Angela Cartagena, a spokeswoman for the organisers at the ramshackle protest ‘village’ that has sprung up in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square.
A “general assembly” of the organisers would be held on Sunday morning to confirm the decision, she said.
In the first major election since the government passed huge spending cuts and unpopular reforms, some voters will have to pick their way through plazas littered with protesters’ tents and makeshift beds to reach polling stations.
Demonstrations are forbidden in Spain on election days and the preceding 24 hours. Spain’s electoral commission on Thursday declared that protests planned for Saturday and Sunday were illegal as they “go beyond the constitutionally guaranteed right to demonstrate.”
Let’s see what comes of this, I wonder what country will be next. Geez, I only wish American women would start gathering in the downtown squares and streets of towns in Wisconsin, Texas, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska…damn, not going to pull a Howard Dean…and don’t have the time to list all the states sticking it to women.
Oops, kind of went off on a tangent there.
Back to World News. North Sudan army takes control of Abyei – Africa – Al Jazeera English
North Sudan’s army appears to have gained control of the main town in Sudan’s disputed Abyei region after fierce fighting with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), UN and rebel sources said.
UN officials saw 15 tanks of the Sudanese Armed Forces, the northern army, on Saturday in parts of the key town Abyei where earlier mortars slammed against a UN base, Hua Jiang, the UN spokeswoman said on Saturday.
The United States, one of the main backers of Sudan’s landmark 2005 peace deal, has deplored the attack and urged both sides to stop all unauthorised military actions in Abyei.
Click the link above for a picture of Susan Rice on the ground in Sudan.
In Yemen, just how many times is this dude going to yank the carrot backwards. It has happened so many times, I am surprised the stick that carrot (the agreement) is dangling from isn’t broken. Yemen again nears accord for president to step down – latimes.com
Yemen’s political opposition signed an internationally negotiated deal Saturday that lays the groundwork for an end to PresidentAli Abdullah Saleh’s nearly 33-year rule.
Saleh has said he intends to sign the agreement Sunday. But in a speech Saturday, he dismissed the plan as “a mere coup operation.” He also claimed that if he left office, Yemen’s Al Qaeda offshoot would overrun parts of the country.
Okay, why the hell do all these dictators have to scream and point fingers…
This next link has a very sobering image. It is from The Lens, and thanks to Wonk for highlighting this website in one of her post a couple of months ago. Turning Point: Michel Slomka on the Work of Joachim Eskildsen – NYTimes.com
An old woman in front of me found what she was looking for: her son’s coffin. I remember she stood there, crying. She had no news of her son for so long and now she found him again, in a wooden box. She probably never had the chance to say goodbye. She was stroking the coffin, whispering softly.
Be sure to take a look at it.
For those tweeter’s out there, the US State Department Blog had a post with lots and lots of official Twitter address to follow. Just click the link: @StateDept Passes 100,000 Followers | U.S. Department of State Blog
Okay, on to the US after the jump…
And h/t to Lambert on this one: Sweet Jeebus, mortage servicers had PASSWORD CONTROLLED ACCESS TO BORROWER PAYMENT RECORDS, and altered them? | Corrente
Here is the article he is talking about, I have to tell you…it really made me angry. Former LPS Employees Allege 30% to 78% Error Rate in Borrower Mortgage Records, Contradicting Banker/Regulator Cover-Up « naked capitalism
The filing relies heavily on affidavits by 17 confidential witnesses, all former LPS employees, some of them supervisory level. It is thus able to allege that bad practices were widespread and clearly designed and driven by top management.
…lawsuit does serious damage to the claims of bank defenders (the latest being Karl Rove in the Wall Street Journal) that foreclosure abuses were merely about cutting corners and everyone who was foreclosed on deserved it. But as we’ll see shortly, the underlying records were often corrupted, thus calling into question whether the foreclosure actions really were correct. Remember, LPS’s reach is wide. 14 of the 15 biggest loan servicers are its clients and every one of the 50 biggest banks use some of its services.
Here is the kicker:
But the new and more troubling material is the mess LPS has made of bank records. LPS employees were given password controlled access to borrower payment records and could and did alter those accounts. These passwords were routinely and widely shared, in contravention of good practice. And since everything at LPS was organized around maximizing throughput rather than doing anything correctly, the errors were widespread:
LPS employees were rewarded for their speed, and this resulted in the violation of security protocols and significant and pervasive errors in the default services that they were providing (e.g., the application of mortgage payments to incorrect accounts). Even when these problems were discovered by the Company’s internal auditors, LPS swept them under the rug. Indeed, LPS knowingly concealed errors in files from clients, network attorneys, and courts to keep clients happy and to ensure that a finger could not be pointed at LPS.
Now consider the question of the integrity of borrower records. Because LPS was so casual about password control, a large number of employees could and did:
….access mortgage records of borrowers and alter them by changing entries, reversing transactions, adding transactions, and moving funds in and out of suspense accounts.
And the company was not terribly concerned about accuracy:
There was a huge volume of ledgers that had to be created and problems in loan files that had to be researched and unraveled by CW [Confidential Witness] 16 and his colleagues. These problems included, among others, missing payments, misapplied payments from other loan files, and payments that should have been attributed to other loans…
CW16 stated that they were “only allowed to look at an issue for two minutes, or five minutes tops.” His supervisors and managers did not want CW16 and his fellow employees to spend time on any loan unless it was incredibly complex. However, they frequently could not finish it within five minutes. According to CW16 “a lot of people didn’t understand the financial side and just winged it.”
I just hope that some sort of justice comes from this lawsuit. Naked Capitalism has the actual court documents you can read through.
Here is a very interesting Editorial from the NYT. Looks like SCOTUS is doing what they were appointed to do…Malign Neglect – NYTimes.com
Extraordinary rendition — the abduction of foreigners, often innocent ones, by American agents who sent them to countries well known for torturing prisoners — was central to President George W. Bush’s antiterrorism policy.
…President Obama has adopted the same legal tactic of using the secrecy privilege to kill lawsuits.
It seems the court has denied hearing the case of 5 people who say they were kidnapped and tortured overseas.
The court’s choice is a major stain on American justice. By slamming its door on these victims without explanation, it removed the essential judicial block against the executive branch’s use of claims of secrecy to cover up misconduct that shocks the conscience. It has further diminished any hope of obtaining a definitive ruling that the government’s conduct was illegal — a vital step for repairing damage and preventing future abuses.
The article then goes on to describe some of the abuse these plaintiff’s received. Give it a read, you can see that nothing has changed. You get the feeling that nothing ever will.
This next link made me laugh. The Maddow Blog – More of a tea gathering than a party
They were expecting over 2000 people, well…
That is Governor Nikki Haley giving an address to the South Carolina Tea Partiers, at least the ones who did venture out.
Here is another funny story, Mr. Sulu has come to the rescue of the citizens of Tennessee.
George Takei is helpfully offering Tennesseans who might feel constricted by such a law to use his name instead.
“Any time you need to say the word ‘gay,’ you can just say the word ‘Takei,’” he says.
For example, you could just say “Takei marriage.” You can march in a “Takei pride parade.”
“Even homophobic slurs don’t seem as hurtful if someone says ‘that is so Takei,’” says George.
He also offers “it’s okay to be Takei” swag, with proceeds going to charity.
So Takei is the new Gay, just like Fukushima is the new FUBAR?
From Minx’s Missing Link File: Al Jazeera did an interview this past week with Dorothy Parvaz: Inside Syria’s secret prisons – Opinion – Al Jazeera English Check it out:
I’d arrived there moments before, dragged by a handful of hair from a car where I’d been wedged between two armed men. They’d tried to convince me that they were taking me to my hotel, but, of course, I knew that there was no way plain-clothed security personnel would be kind enough to escort me to my accommodation.
Easy like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: Okay, these two post caught my eye a couple weeks ago: Appalachian History » The Long Trail of Shortia, part 1 of 2 and Appalachian History » The Long Trail of Shortia, part 2 of 2 It is the story of French botanist Andre Michaux and his discovery of this pretty little flower back in 1788. Hope you enjoy it.
This photo of shortia galacifolia was taken in late March 2011 at Devils Fork State Park, SC, very near where French botanist Andre Michaux first discovered it. His diary entry of the discovery reads: “The roads became more difficult as we approached the headwaters of the Keowee (spelled Kiwi by Michaux) on the 8th of December, 1788…. Two miles before arriving there I recognized the ‘Magnolia montana’ which has been named ‘M cordata’ or ‘aunculata’ by Bartram. There was in this place a little cabin inhabited by a family of Cherokee Indians. We stopped there to camp and I ran off to make some investigations. I gathered a new low woody plant with saw-toothed leaves creeping on the mountain at a short distance from the river.”
So have a wonderful Sunday after the…cough…Rapture, and since we all didn’t take that flight, tell me what you have been reading and doing today.