Sunday Reads: Accents of the Bleats and Earth Sized TornadoesPosted: February 19, 2012
It’s a long President’s Day weekend…and there is so much to talk about, let’s start by reviewing a couple of court cases and recent legislation pass at the state level.
Two Supreme Court justices suggested Friday that the court reconsider its controversial 2010 decision that allowed unlimited corporate and union spending in elections.The suggestion came as the court blocked a Montana Supreme Court decisionupholding a century-old ban on corporate campaign spending in the state.The Montana ruling seems squarely at odds with the court’s 5 to 4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allowed unlimited corporate spending. The U.S. Supreme Court majority had said such independent spending did not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.In Friday’s order, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer said the upheaval in the world of campaign finance since the Citizens United decision does not bear out the majority opinion.“Montana’s experience, and experience elsewhere since this court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, make it exceedingly difficult to maintain that independent expenditures by corporations ‘do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,’ ” Ginsburg wrote.
WASHINGTON: With Gov. Chris Gregoire’s (D) signature on Monday, marriage equality became the law of the land in Washington state, though that law does not take effect until June 7. Unfortunately, conservatives had already raised over $1 million to start collecting signatures for a referendum — a “people’s veto” — which will likely delay the law from taking effect until after the November election. To maintain the newly passed law, voters will have to approve Referendum 74.
NEW JERSEY: Both chambers of New Jersey’s legislature approved a marriage equality bill this week, but Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoed it late Friday afternoon. Aside from a proposal by one Republican senator, there is currently no effort to take the matter to a ballot initiative. The legislature has until January 2014 to override Christie’s veto, but it does not currently have the votes to do so.
MARYLAND: After contentious debate and numerous amendments Friday, the Maryland House narrowly passed a marriage equality bill. Though the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has held hearings on the measure, it has not yet advanced it to the full chamber, but advocates are optimistic about its passage there. As currently written, the law will not take effect until January 2013, but as in Washington, the law will likely be challenged by a referendum in November.
ILLINOIS: A marriage equality bill was recently introduced in the Illinois House, but it’s unclear that it will have much success. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said he would support the measure, but Gov. Pat Quinn (D) is not so sure.
RHODE ISLAND: Advocates are calling for marriage equality to be reintroduced in Rhode Island after last year’s effort led only to the creation of civil unions. Given residents can marry in all neighboring states, it is unsurprising that in the first four months they were available, only 39 couples obtained civil unions.
COLORADO: Colorado is again reconsidering legalizing same-sex civil unions. Just this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the legislation, but like last year, it is in the Republican-controlled House where the bill’s fate will be decided.
WEST VIRGINIA: A lawmaker in West Virginia introduced a bill this week that would create same-sex civil unions. It’s unclear if it has any chance of advancing.
NORTH CAROLINA: On May 8, North Carolinians will vote on a discriminatory constitutional amendment banning all legal recognition of same-sex couples, including marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships. Pam Spaulding, an LGBT blogger who resides in the state, has a thoughtful take on how detrimental this amendment would be to the state.
MINNESOTA: Minnesota’s marriage inequality amendment isn’t on the ballot until November, but over $2 million have already been raised between both sides of the fight. This week, the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee defeated a legislative effort to rescind the ballot question, allowing the plebiscite to proceed.
MAINE: LGBT activists in Maine have succeeded in advancing a ballot initiative that would legalize same-sex marriage, the first time such a vote has been taken affirming the right instead of denying it. Though referenda on gay rights are frowned upon for the way they can polarize communities and amplify anti-gay stigma, activists point out that a legislative approach was already attempted in 2009, but it was overturned.
CALIFORNIA: Obviously, the Ninth Circuit’s recent ruling against Proposition 8 is an important victory, but California marriage equality will not return until after the Supreme Court decides whether to hear the case later this year. This week, the group Love Honor Cherish announced it has abandoned its attempt to repeal Proposition 8 through a new ballot initiative.
NEW MEXICO: A proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage was defeated in committee this week.
You may recall the anti-abortion legislation in Illinois that was slipped into a proposed bill from the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee: Abortion again shares agenda with livestock in Illinois committee
Well, these personhood and state sanctioned rape bills in Virginia are being described by the bill author as a traffic safety measure. Republicans With Power: Virginia Personhood Laws a Preview of GOP Presidency?
Voters wishing to see Republican personhood in the process need look no further than Virginia, where the GOP-controlled House just passed HB1, (Marshall-R).
Part of a matched set of two astonishingly cruel legislations, (the other bill literally requires a forced vaginal invasion — a “transvaginal ultrasound” — into any woman considering a legal abortion) of which the personhood bill may actually be more destructive.
The transvaginal ultrasound is humiliating, painful, medically unnecessary, and imposed on a woman against her will, like rape with a foreign object –but the personhood law is forever.
Do Virginians really want to criminalize the birth control pill, stem cell research, perhaps even the In Vitro Fertility (IVF) assistance for childless couples — as well as a woman’s right to choose?
Amazingly, this anti-women’s rights bill is being offered as — a traffic safety improvement!
Ready for the explanation:
Listen to bill author Bob Marshall (R-Manassas): “The legal effect here is (if) a pregnant woman is driving in an intersection and someone runs into her, she can sue for loss of a child,” Marshall said. “…(the bill) has no direct legal effect on abortion or birth control.”
Even Fox News, normally an apologist for all things Republican, did not buy the “no impact on abortion rights” nonsense, saying:”…Bob Marshall’s House Bill 1 would effectively outlaw all Virginia abortions by declaring that the rights of a person apply from the moment sperm and egg unite.”
If personhood laws are put into effect, government would literally have the authority to control the reproductive life of every citizen.
Were not Republicans supposed to be in favor of individual liberty?
Haven’t we been asking that question about the GOP’s twisted version of liberty for a year now? (By the way, if you missed Dakinikat‘s, Boston Boomer’s and Peggy Sue‘s posts from yesterday, be sure to check them out.)
Since I have brought up the GOP…the next few links will focus on the 2012 Primaries…
First up, Mit Romney. Billionaire Romney donor uses threats to silence critics – Glenn Greewald had an interesting article posted on Friday.
Frank VanderSloot is an Idaho billionaire and the CEO of Melaleuca, Inc., a controversial billion-dollar-a-year company which peddles dietary supplements and cleaning products; back in 2004, Forbes, echoing complaints to government agencies, described the company as “a pyramid selling organization, built along the lines of Herbalife and Amway.” VanderSloot has long used his wealth to advance numerous right-wing political causes. Currently, he is the national finance co-chair of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, and his company has become one of the largest donors ($1 million) to the ostensibly “independent” pro-Romney SuperPAC, Restore Our Future. Melaleuca’s get-rich pitches have in the past caused Michigan regulators to take action, resulting in the company’s entering into a voluntary agreement to “not engage in the marketing and promotion of an illegal pyramid”‘; it entered into a separate voluntary agreement with the Idaho attorney general’s office, which found that “certain independent marketing executives of Melaleuca” had violated Idaho law; and the Food and Drug Administration previously accused Melaleuca of deceiving consumers about some of its supplements.
But it is VanderSloot’s chronic bullying threats to bring patently frivolous lawsuits against his political critics — magazines, journalists, and bloggers — that makes him particularly pernicious and worthy of more attention. In the last month alone, VanderSloot, using threats of expensive defamation actions, has successfully forced Forbes, Mother Jones and at least one local gay blogger in Idaho to remove articles that critically focused on his political and business practices (Mother Jones subsequently re-posted the article with revisions a week after first removing it). He has been using this abusive tactic in Idaho for years: suppressing legitimate political speech by threatening or even commencing lawsuits against even the most obscure critics (he has even sued local bloggers for “copyright infringement” after they published a threatening letter sent by his lawyers). This tactic almost always succeeds in silencing its targets, because even journalists and their employers who have done nothing wrong are afraid of the potentially ruinous costs they will incur when sued by a litigious billionaire.
Read the rest…it is a long article, and I just gave you the first two paragraphs.
Another link on Mitt Romney.
Word is going around that a “Bushie” may somehow find his way on the GOP ticket this November…‘Top GOP Senator’ To ABC News: If Romney Loses Michigan, ‘He Will Publicly Call’ For Jeb Bush | Mediaite
The report begins with an unsurprising statement: that Republicans cannot see Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich winning the general election (of course, since this is GOP establishment, Rep. Ron Paul isn’t even mentioned) and would have wanted a stronger candidate. “If Romney can’t win in Michigan, the Republican Party needs to go back to the drawing board and convince somebody new to get into the race,” the top senator told Karl.
What is news in this dispatch, however, is that the Senator does not think it is too late to throw the entire GOP field out and just call for Jeb Bush to run:
“If Romney cannot win Michigan, we need a new candidate,” said the senator, who has not endorsed anyone and requested anonymity.
The senator believes Romney will ultimately win in Michigan but says he will publicly call for the party to find a new candidate if he does not.
“We’d get killed,” the senator said if Romney manages to win the nomination after he failed to win the state in which he grew up.
“He’d be too damaged,” he said. “If he can’t even win in Michigan, where his family is from, where he grew up.”
It would have to be somebody else, the senator said. Who? “Jeb Bush,” the former Florida governor.
This report is important for two reasons, the first being obvious: that an establishment where “top Senators” (Saxby Chambliss? Orrin Hatch?) feel comfortable enough to gab to the media about how much they dislike the current field is one that will likely not do all the much to help whoever comes out of this race win. Someone with the experience of a top Senator knows how much damage these reports can do to a party, creating the image of a fragmented, Democrats-circa-1968 mess that RNC chair Reince Priebus seems to have absolutely no control over provides.
Jeb Bush? Someone please bring me a cleaning lady and a bucket.
Saxby Chambliss is my Senate Representative in Washington. So lets look at an issue which is getting very little press…oh, and many of the incidents I am talking about happen to be in Chambliss district. (I will give you a hint, it involves former fetuses…)
As Gingrich and Santorum campaign in my state of Georgia this weekend, I seriously doubt any reporter will get the GOP candidates thoughts on this said figure of Child deaths up in families watched by Georgia agency
Thirty-five children have died between Dec. 1 and Feb. 12. That’s compared to 92 child deaths for all of 2011 in families that have been investigated or monitored by the Division of Family and Children Services.
Kathy Herren, the agency’s deputy director, says the recent toll is higher but doesn’t mean all deaths resulted from abuse or neglect. Officials say 10 deaths resulted from medical problems and four were attributed to abuse.
Attorney Don Keenan, a critic of Georgia’s child welfare system, called the toll “outrageous.”
For more on this we have to look to a local TV station: State won’t answer questions about caseloads after 35 child…
A Channel 2 Action News investigation has discovered the deaths of 35 Georgia children, all of whom had cases with the Division of Family and Children Services, have died in the past 75 days — meaning one death occured nearly every other day since Dec. 1.
Channel 2 political reporter Lori Geary started looking into the cases after receiving a series of emails from sources within the state agency charged with protecting children. Geary confirmed the staggering number of deaths after an open records request.
The agency is not speaking…and when they are, it is a pathetic waste of time…you can see what I mean, keep reading:
“We are all very concerned about the numbers. We share your concern,” said Kathy Herren, acting deputy director.
Geary asked three officials with DFCS to look at, and comment on the data, but none of them could put the deaths in perspective.
“I guess that’s where the frustration is. We see numbers like this and you say you don’t know if this is a high number or not. We’re seeing 35 in two-and-a-half months when we had 92 all of last year. Is that an acceptable number?” Geary asked.
“No. Thirty five is not acceptable. One is not acceptable,” Herren responded.
The Channel 2 report continues…
If the current rate holds the number of deaths could reach 170 this year. The reasons given for the child deaths include abuse and neglect, homicide, medical issues and accidental.
Sources in the agency told Geary there just aren’t enough people to handle increased caseloads. When Geary tried to question Herren about caseloads the deputy director refused to answer.
“Do you have enough caseworkers?” Geary asked.
Herren started to answer then stopped abruptly. “When we look at how we utilize our resources as we currently have them,” she said before pausing. Geary asked the question again several times before a DFCS spokeswoman interrupted the interview.
“She didn’t answer my question. If we have enough. She didn’t answer. No she didn’t. I never heard a yes or a no,” Geary said when the spokeswoman tried to brush off the question.
After being pressed repeatedly, Herren still would not admit that there is enough caseworkers to handle the situation. DFCS confirms recent upswing in kids’ deaths
Asked if the agency had enough caseworkers, Herren, an agency veteran elevated to her post late last year, would not answer with a direct yes or no.
Gov. Nathan Deal’s office has been briefed on the 35 deaths, a spokesman said.
State Child Advocate Tonya Boga, responding to an AJC inquiry, said she is looking into the recent deaths, as is standard practice. She noted that a “significant number of the deaths involve issues with safe sleep practices.” DFCS said six of the 35 deaths related to people sleeping in the same bed with children and rolling on top of them.
Similar concerns about sleep-related deaths were raised by former state Child Advocate Tom Rawlings, who said, “Was there a DFCS history of drug or alcohol abuse among those families such that drugs or alcohol may have contributed to the caretakers rolling over on the child and smothering him or her?”
Sorry to spend more time on the Child Services problems in Georgia. I just think that with all the anti-women legislation and bills being passed, it may be good to also point out that women are not the only ones in the GOP targets. Children often get neglected in a GOP run state. And it is not just a safety issue, the GOP will let kids go hungry as well… Sick PLUB bastards.
I guess I should rephrase that…conservative “religious conscience” obsessed sick PLUB bastards: Catholic Food Shelf Rejects Food From Planned Parenthood
As part of its Martin Luther Kind food drive, Planned Parenthood collected the food to donate to Paul’s Pantry, a Catholic food shelf whose entire mission is to feed the hungry. Lisa Boyce, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin said, What was told to me was that they simply said we do not want any food donations from you period.”
Planned Parenthood donated the food to the Salvation Army instead and will do so in the future. “We provide non judgmental care to everyone regardless of our patients, regardless of their personal, political or personal viewpoints and would hope that is the same for our other community partners including Paul’s food Pantry,” said Boyce.
So we can add feeding the poor to providing emergency care and finding orphan children homes to the list of services the Catholic church will no longer provide without political concession.
I have some real good articles on Iran for you to look at…I will just list their links below.
In Arizona, a bit of a scandal is hounding one of Romney’s supporters, and not just any regular supporter, but his Arizona Campaign Co-Chair. Arizona Sheriff Rocked By Accusations Of Alleged Immigrant Ex-Boyfriend
Rising Republican star and well-known border hawk Sheriff Paul Babeu, who’s now running for Congress in Arizona, was hit Friday night with bombshell accusations from a Mexican immigrant who said he dated the sheriff for years and was threatened with deportation if he ever told anyone about their romance.
The Phoenix New Times newspaper broke the story on its website in a piece written by veteran journalist Monica Alonzo. The accusations came complete with text messages said to be between the two men as well as compromising photos purportedly of Babeu that are reminiscent of recent sex scandals that ended the careers of Congressmen Anthony Weiner and Chris Lee.
In one photo, Babeu is seen posing in front of a mirror in nothing but his underwear. In another, he has his hand inside the man’s partially unbuttoned shirt.
What is it with men taking half-naked pictures of themselves in bathroom mirrors. Are they trying to show what manly sexy stud-like physic they have?
Oh, and since I mention studs…In other big beefy bull news this weekend, Limousin bull sells for record £126,000 at Carlisle market
That is some large coin to pay for a bovine of such magnificent distinction.
Hmmm…now I have imbedded photographs of half-naked people, do you think anyone will be upset and want to censor those images? Breastfeeding Photos On Facebook Removed From ‘Respect the Breast’ Page. Sorry, but I don’t understand the reasoning behind this move…Facebook allows photos of women without pants, but they are offended by a woman feeding her child.
From Minx’s Missing Link File: Some people develop deep thick accents depending on where they grow up. Around my little town here in the backwoods mountains of Banjoland, the redneckese can be difficult to comprehend. Which makes me wonder about Banjoville goats…check it out: Goat kids can develop ‘accents’
Pygmy goats can develop “accents” as they grow older, according to scientists.
The young animals, known as “kids”, are raised in groups or “creches” with goats of a similar age.
Researchers found that when young goats mixed in these social groups their calls became more similar.
The animals join an elite group of mammals known to adapt a vocal sound in response to the environment that includes humans, bats and whales.
Do you think the goats around here have that Deliverance country twang in their bleats? Upbleat Finding: Kids Start to Sound Alike over Time
The sounds many animals make are determined by their genes—they don’t have to learn them. Humans, on the other hand, have all sorts of languages and accents, stuff we pick up from those around us. We’re not alone. Whales, elephants, songbirds and bats also listen and learn.
Now there’s literally a new kid on the block: goats. Because baby goats learn to bleat just like the kids they hang out with. So finds a study in the journal Animal Behaviour. [Elodie Briefer and Alan G. McElligott, Social effects on vocal ontogeny in an ungulate, the goat, Capra hircus]
Researchers studied four groups of pygmy goat kids on an English farm—all with the same father, to minimize genetic differences. They recorded the kids’ bleats at one week old and at five weeks, then analyzed those calls. And they found that kids raised within the same group started to sound similar over time.
You can find an audio clip of the goat bleats here.
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: Now, this is just amazing…Earth Sized Tornado Rages Across Sun
In early February, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured footage of whirling tornado-like storm on the surface of the sun. This enormous mass of plasma raged for over a day and was estimated to be larger than the Earth. Of course, it’s not a tornado in the same way that we understand them here on Earth. It’s obviously way bigger, way more terrifying, and way weirder.
The particles of plasma in the storm are relatively cooler, a mere 15,000 degrees Fahrenheit compared to the 2 million degree sun. This makes the solar prominence, which is what the “tornado” is classified as, appear darker than the bright background. The pull between those competing magnetic forces whip the cooler plasma into a whirlwind, apparently moving at some 300,000 miles per hour.
What’s perhaps more shocking is when you consider that the core of the “tornado” is about the size of the Earth, then the ribbons flowing from it back to the sun’s surface are dozens of times larger than our home planet. Kind of puts the whole thing into perspective doesn’t it?
I will end this post with a look at Whitney Houston remembered by fellow stars at her funeral -
In a fitting tribute to a musical life, Whitney Houston was remembered Saturday at the Baptist church where she once sang in the choir, on the gritty streets of Newark where fans belted out her hits, and from the preacher’s podium where a constellation of stars offered memories in words and song as they bid farewell to one of their own.
Although New Hope Baptist Church was filled to capacity with many celebrities — Kevin Costner, Alicia Keys, Steve Wonder — the invitation-only funeral service resonated with gospel hymns and preaching that one pastor said “brought the world to church.”
Wonk had a wonderful post about Whitney Houston yesterday. I love how she relates Whitney’s songs to her youth and reminds us of what a wonderful part of each of our lives the vocal artist Whitney Houston touched.