Saturday Reads: A Fiscal Cliff-Free ZonePosted: December 29, 2012 | |
Several months ago, I wrote about seeing a gathering of wild turkeys as I drove down my street in a western suburb of Boston. I was very surprised, but when I got home and googled I learned that the giant, not-very-bright birds have been invading communities all over Massachusetts–including the city of Boston!
Yesterday, as I drove down a street in Cambridge, I had to come to sudden stop as a lone wild turkey meandered into my path. I managed to get around the bird, but the car behind me didn’t make it I could see in my rear view mirror that the driver was forced to sit there as the turkey wandered around in the middle of the road. So apparently the turkey invasion is continuing apace.
From CBS News, December 7: Wild turkeys terrorize Massachusetts town residents
Aggressive turkeys are coming after some Massachusetts residents, prompting one town to consider seeking approval to trap and kill the birds.
In particular, three large male turkeys seem to be leading the assault in Brookline, CBS station WBZ in Boston reported. A meeting was held on Dec. 6 at the Brookline Police Station to discuss the poultry problem.
Karen Halvorson told WBZ that the turkeys have chased her on two occasions, banging on her front door and scratching her as she took her daily walk. She’s taken precautions including buying a hiking stick to ward off the creatures and carrying her phone on her at all times. Halvorson was at the meeting.
“I can’t believe we’re living this way,” she said.
Her husband has made piles of sticks around their house so they can throw them at the turkeys and run for cover. He’s been attacked four times in the last three years.
Jeeze, I’m glad they’re not hanging around in my front yard! BTW, Brookline is basically in Boston. It’s an urban area.
Here’s more from The Boston Globe in late November:
In Brookline, a roving band of wild turkeys is terrorizing residents, stalking some as they walk down the street and ambushing others as they try to exit their cars. They’re pecking backsides, scratching necks, and flapping powerful wings in the faces of passersby.
For those whose primary experience with the grand bird is when it’s sliced up on a plate, the problem may sound funny. And to those living in rural areas who have found ways to peacefully coexist with wild turkeys for years, the problem may sound overblown. But to residents of Brookline, where the presence of roughly two dozen 3- to 4-foot-tall birds is a relatively new phenomenon, the menace is anything but humorous or normal. Over the past few months, the number of encounters with the increasingly brazen birds — not to mention calls to public safety officials — has risen.
According to the state agency MassWildlife, trapping and relocating the turkeys would be impractical: The best trapping methods aren’t suited for urban and suburban areas, and relocated turkeys often return or find new human populations to annoy. The better option, then, is to teach humans how best to deal with the birds. Brookline officials should get to work educating the town’s residents about best anti-turkey practices, which are available on MassWildlife’s website.
The birds are even invading Martha’s Vineyard: Oak Bluffs police bean rampaging turkey.
Oak Bluffs police officers Saturday used a bean bag shotgun to knock the stuffing out of an aggressive turkey that had run afoul of residents in the Hidden Cove Road neighborhood, where the big Tom attempted to rule the roost.
Lieutenant Tim Williamson said police were called to the neighborhood, located in the Major’s Cove subdivision, on several occasions for reports of turkeys harassing humans. In one instance, a turkey chased an elderly woman who tripped and fell and scraped her knee. “This turkey has been a menace in the neighborhood for at least a month or so,” Lieutenant Williamson said.
On Saturday at noon, police officer Jeffrey LaBell received a call at the station from a resident who police would not identify. The man told police a wild turkey was on his front porch and, according to the police report, “was keeping him and his wife from entering their residence. [The man] explained the turkey is aggressive and has attacked people in the neighborhood in the past on several occasions. [The man] demanded that something be done before the turkey causes harm to someone in the neighborhood.”
Now for some slightly more serious news, please follow me after the page break.
Isn’t it interesting that Congress just can’t manage to pass minor tax increases on people who are so rich they won’t even notice and at the same time they can’t possibly pass an extension to unemployment benefits or a farm bill that will keep milk prices from increasing to $8 a gallon? Yes, Congress is so deadlocked that they can’t get accomplish anything that President Obama wants.
But yesterday, with no fanfare, the Senate managed to give the president something he has supported since before he was elected in 2008–the power to spy on anyone he wants without a warrant or any kind of transparency. Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian: GOP and Feinstein join to fulfill Obama’s demand for renewed warrantless eavesdropping.
To this day, many people identify mid-2008 as the time they realized what type of politician Barack Obama actually is. Six months before, when seeking the Democratic nomination, then-Sen. Obama unambiguously vowed that he would filibuster “any bill” that retroactively immunized the telecom industry for having participated in the illegal Bush NSA warrantless eavesdropping program.
But in July 2008, once he had secured the nomination, a bill came before the Senate that did exactly that – the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 – and Obama not only failed to filibuster as promised, but far worse, he voted against the filibuster brought by other Senators, and then voted in favor of enacting the bill itself. That blatant, unblinking violation of his own clear promise – actively supporting a bill he had sworn months earlier he would block from a vote – caused a serious rift even in the middle of an election year between Obama and his own supporters.
Critically, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 did much more than shield lawbreaking telecoms from all forms of legal accountability. Jointly written by Dick Cheney and then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller, it also legalized vast new, sweeping and almost certainly unconstitutional forms of warrantless government eavesdropping.
In doing so, the new 2008 law gutted the 30-year-old FISA statute that had been enacted to prevent the decades of severe spying abuses discovered by the mid-1970s Church Committee: by simply barring the government from eavesdropping on the communications of Americans without first obtaining a warrant from a court. Worst of all, the 2008 law legalized most of what Democrats had spent years pretending was such a scandal: the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program secretly implemented by George Bush after the 9/11 attack. In other words, the warrantless eavesdropping “scandal” that led to a Pulitzer Prize for the New York Times reporters who revealed it ended not with investigations or prosecutions for those who illegally spied on Americans, but with the Congressional GOP joining with key Democrats (including Obama) to legalize most of what Bush and Cheney had done. Ever since, the Obama DOJ has invoked secrecy and standing doctrines to prevent any courts from ruling on whether the warrantless eavesdropping powers granted by the 2008 law violate the Constitution.
Please go read the whole thing if you can. So Republicans really don’t have such a hard time giving Obama what he wants, now do they? It’s only when a bill will keep poor children or elderly women from starving that Congress puts on a dramatic show of partisanship and disagreement. Adam Serwer at Mother Jones:
There’s nothing like a debate over warrantless wiretapping to clarify how the two parties really feel about government. On Friday, the Senate voted to reauthorize the government’s warrantless surveillance program, with hawkish Democrats joining with Republicans to block every effort to curtail the government’s sweeping spying powers.
As the Senate debated the renewal of the government’s warrantless wiretapping powers on Thursday, Republicans who have accused President Barack Obama of covering up his involvement in the death of an American ambassador urged that his administration be given sweeping spying powers. Democrats who accused George W. Bush of shredding the Constitution with warrantless wiretapping four years ago sung a different tune this week, with the administration itself quietly urging passage of the surveillance bill with no changes, and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) accusing her Democratic colleagues of not understanding the threat of terrorism.
“There is a view by some that this country no longer needs to fear an attack,” Feinstein said.
So what were these drastic changes sought by Feinstein’s colleagues that would leave the United States open to annihilation by terrorists? They’re mostly attempts to find out exactly how the changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act actually work in practice. The most radical proposal, Senator Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) amendment requiring a warrant for the government to access any digital communications, had no chance of passing but clarified just how moderate the Democrats’ proposals were by comparison.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that such modest amendments that would have done nothing more than increase transparency and accountability failed to pass in the Senate,” said Michelle Richardson of the ACLU.
Now let’s take a walk down memory lane to the days before the Church Committee revealed the abuses that had been perpetrated for decades by the FBI and CIA–including spying on Americans citizens and using them as guinea pigs for unconscionable research that often amounted to torture.
Yesterday previously redacted information in Marilyn Monroe’s FBI files was released to the public, and we learn that the FBI suspected the actress of being in “the communist orbit” and that her marriage to Arthur Miller was a cover for her support of the American Communist Party. In addition, Raw Story reports, Marilyn couldn’t stand Joe McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover! Gee, I wonder why?
Among the developments also chronicled in Monroe’s dossier are an Aug. 1955 visa request by her manager for the purposes of her visiting the Soviet Union; a 1956 tour of Brooklyn, New York led by an unnamed Life Magazine photographer described as “a [Communist] party member”; and a 1962 luncheon she attended with President John F. Kennedy in which “Monroe’s views were described as positively and concisely leftist.”
The files also reveal that the FBI knew there was a great deal of suspicion about the causes of Monroe’s death, but–unlike their attention to her “leftist” ties, they never bothered to investigate her death. Hey, maybe they already knew all about it.
In other news, the woman whose gang rape led to outraged protests in India died yesterday.
As protests grew in India Saturday over the death of a young woman who was raped in Delhi this month by several men in a moving bus, police said her attackers would be charged with murder.
The charges came as government officials appealed for calm in the streets after the woman, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, died early Saturday in a Singapore hospital. In a statement, Dr. Kelvin Loh, the chief executive of Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore, said the woman died “peacefully.”
Oh really? And how would Kelvin Loh know this poor woman’s state of mind as she died?
Indian police said Saturday that if convicted, the men could face the death penalty for the attack, which has served as a reminder of the dangerous conditions women face in India.
The woman, whose intestines were removed because of injuries caused by a metal rod used during the rape, has not been identified. She was flown to Singapore on Wednesday night after undergoing three abdominal operations at a local hospital. She had also suffered a major brain injury, cardiac arrest and infections of the lungs and abdomen. “She was courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds, but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome,” Dr. Loh’s statement said.
Conditions not that far removed from the dangers women face in every country in the world, including the United States of America.
Speaking of the war on women, I’m sure you’ve heard that the Pope now has a Twitter account. He hasn’t sent out that many tweets, but he’s been taking a beating from followers. From The Daily Beast a couple of weeks back, some examples of the “risk” anyone takes when he or she signs up for Twitter.
That risk was evident almost immediately on Wednesday, as some Twitter users began ranting about the Catholic Church’s sexual molestation scandal. “Popes handle @pontifex shld Ideally b called @Pontisex..Considerg de Hidden Sexual Molestations de Fathers,Brothers of TheVatican, Indulge in,” wrote one Twitter user. “What pedophiles? What Hitler Youth? What lies about condoms? What plundered treasures? What trust betrayed? Am I right, @Pontifex? High five,” wrote another.
The Vatican is well aware of the risks posed by social media. “Twitter’s an open platform, and we realized that going in to this,” said Greg Burke, senior adviser for communications to the Vatican.
Yesterday NPR’s Here and Now discussed the Pope’s latest venture and offered him some tips.
Here & Now media analyst John Carroll has some suggestions for pledges that media companies can make, as well as some resolutions for people who use Twitter.
For example, Pope Benedict XVI (@Pontifex) is missing an opportunity to engage with his followers, Carroll said.
“What he tweets out is entirely bland. What people are tweeting to him is just a viper’s nest of recriminations, bitterness – it’s a combination of the scatological, the sacrilegious and the snarky,” Carroll said. “I would recommend that he get into a tweet fight with somebody.”
BTW, the Pope now has more followers than Justin Bieber (someone I have managed to avoid knowing anything about). The Pope is also getting more retweets than Bieber (whoever he is) even though the Pope hasn’t tweeted much yet.
Here I am running out of space, and I’ve avoided anything to do with the ridiculous non-negotions in Washington DC. I’m so proud.
Now it’s your turn. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?