Friday Reads

Good Morning!

bathing_beauty_striped_swim

Sorry this will be a little short. I have a friend from Ft. Worth visiting me, so my on-line time is a bit limited at the moment.  However, it’s been really hot and steamy so I have to say that it is a relief to stay inside and just watch the sun go down. I have no idea why anyone wants to extend the summer days in this kind of heat.

The biggest story of the week is that debt-ridden Detroit has filed for bankruptcy.

Detroit, the cradle of America’s automobile industry and once the nation’s fourth-most-populous city, filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, the largest American city ever to take such a course.

The decision, confirmed by officials after it trickled out in late afternoon news reports, also amounts to the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in American history in terms of debt.

“This is a difficult step, but the only viable option to address a problem that has been six decades in the making,” said Gov. Rick Snyder, who authorized the move after a recommendation from the emergency financial manager he had appointed to resolve Detroit’s dire financial situation.

Not everyone agrees how much Detroit owes, but Kevyn D. Orr, the emergency manager, has said the debt is likely to be $18 billion and perhaps as much as $20 billion.

For Detroit, the filing came as a painful reminder of a city’s rise and fall.

“It’s sad, but you could see the writing on the wall,” said Terence Tyson, a city worker who learned of the bankruptcy as he left his job at Detroit’s municipal building on Thursday evening. Like many there, he seemed to react with muted resignation and uncertainty about what lies ahead, but not surprise. “This has been coming for ages.”

Detroit expanded at a stunning rate in the first half of the 20th century with the arrival of the automobile industry, and then shrank away in recent decades at a similarly remarkable pace. A city of 1.8 million in 1950, it is now home to 700,000 people, as well as to tens of thousands of abandoned buildings, vacant lots and unlit streets.

From here, there is no road map for Detroit’s recovery, not least of all because municipal bankruptcies are rare. State officials said ordinary city business would carry on as before, even as city leaders take their case to a judge, first to prove that the city is so financially troubled as to be eligible for bankruptcy, and later to argue that Detroit’s creditors and representatives of city workers and municipal retirees ought to settle for less than they once expected.

Some bankruptcy experts and city leaders bemoaned the likely fallout from the filing, including the stigma. They anticipate further benefit cuts for city workers and retirees, more reductions in services for residents, and a detrimental effect on borrowing.

endless-summer-full-flatThe strict Texas law put into place to stop women from exercising their constitutional right to abortion has begun to take its toll.

Planned Parenthood on Wednesday informed staff at three of its facilities in Texas that they would be closing, according to people familiar with the decision.

The three clinics are located in Bryan, Huntsville and Lufkin, Texas. They are closing in response to a new package of abortion restrictions signed into law on Thursday and funding cuts to Texas’ Women’s Health Program that were passed by the Texas state legislature in 2011. Out of the three Planned Parenthood clinics that are closing, only the Bryan clinic performs abortions.

“In recent years, Texas politicians have created an increasingly hostile environment for providers of reproductive health care in underserved communities. Texans with little or no access to health care services have been deeply affected by state budget cuts to programs provided by Planned Parenthood health centers and dozens of others that provided lifesaving cancer screenings, well-woman exams and birth control,” said Melaney A. Linton, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.”

“The combined impact of years of budget cuts to women’s health care services and the dismantling of the successful Women’s Health Program will take affordable, preventive health care options away from women in Bryan, Lufkin and Huntsville — just as these policies have taken health care away from an estimated 130,000 others — when Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is forced to close these family planning health centers at the end of August,” she said.

Some anti-choice legislators are trying to make the recently passed Texas bill even worse.

On Thursday, three Texas Republicans filed a measure that would criminalize abortion services after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they’re pregnant.

The Texas legislature is currently in the midst of a special session that was convened specifically to give lawmakers more time to consider abortion restrictions. The session will end on July 31. Until then, GOP lawmakers have been busy proposing a slew of anti-abortion bills in the hopes of being able to rush them through.

One of those bills, a measure to ban abortion after 20 weeks and shut down the majority of the states’ abortion clinics, has captured national attention over the past several weeks as thousands of Texans have rallied at the capitol in protest. The legislature gave final approval to that bill on Saturday, and Gov. Rick Perry (R) just signed it into law on Thursday morning. But that’s not enough to satisfy Reps. Phil King (R), Dan Flynn (R), and Geanie Morrison (R) — whofiled HB 59 on the same day that Perry signed the controversial abortion restrictions.

So-called “heartbeat” bills are so radical that they divide the anti-choice community. In addition to criminalizing the vast majority of abortions, they also mandate invasive ultrasound procedures for women seeking abortions. In order to detect a fetal heartbeat so early in a pregnancy, doctors typically have to use a transvaginal probe.

`Meanwhile, back in Virginia, the GOP candidate for Governor wants to reinstate the laws against oral sex!

In an unusual move, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), his party’s nominee for governor, launched a  new campaign website Wednesday highlighting his  efforts to reinstate Virginia’s unconstitutional Crimes Against Nature law. The rule, which makes felons out of even consenting married couples who engage in oral or anal sex in the privacy of their own homes, was  struck down by federal courts after Cuccinelli blocked efforts to bring it in line with the Supreme Court’s 2003  Lawrence v. Texas ruling.

The new site, vachildpredators.com, highlights 90 people identified “sexual predators” in Virginia who have been charged under the  law since the 2003 ruling, which held that states could not ban private, non-commercial sexual relations between consenting adults. Cuccinelli warns that these offenders “could come off Virginia’s sex offender registry if a Virginia law used to protect children is not upheld,” and identifies the sodomy law as only the “Anti-Child Predators Law.” While it is true that many sex offenders are charged under the Crimes Against Nature law, it is far from the only tool prosecutors have to  punish child predators.

 
dog-ladyIt is possible that some very wonderful paintings that were stolen in an art heist were destroyed by the thief’s mother in her home’s oven.

Did a cache of priceless stolen art go up in smoke in a Romanian village?

That’s what the art world is afraid of, amid reports that museum forensic specialists from Romania‘s National History Museum are analyzing ashes found in an oven in the village of the mother of the suspected heist ringleader.

The Associated Press reports that according to Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu, the museum’s director, investigators found “small fragments of painting primer, the remains of canvas, the remains of paint” and copper and steel nails, some of which pre-dated the 20th century, in an oven in the village of Caracliu where Olga Dogaru lives. Mrs. Dogaru’s son was arrested in January in connection with the theft of seven paintings – including works by Matisse, Monet, and Picasso – from Rotterdam‘s Kunsthal museum last October.

So, that’s it’ from me today.  I’m going to spend some more time with my friend!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today!


23 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. Enjoy your visit Dak, I am excited about lunch tomorrow….I’m going down to hotlanta to meet with Mona, shall be a kick ass time!

    Oh did you see this? It is actually funny in a fuck you Texas sort of way:

  2. Silent Kate says:

    I live in Michigan. The governor didn’t help matters in Detroit. The state owed Detroit money but he has taken over other places like Benton Harbor. However, it appears that a lot of cities are having difficulty meeting their commitments. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57594485/chicago-public-schools-to-lay-off-2110-teachers-support-staff/

  3. Two more boys for Lun Lun! Looks like the twin pandas are boys.

  4. peej says:

    dakinkat,

    Thank you for posting the art heist article. One of countless tragedies occurring around the world daily with respect to theft, looting, destruction, smuggling, forging, and blackmarketing of arts and antiquities.

    A related tragedy – the demand for rhino horns is so high that it has fueled a spate of rhino horn thefts in museums world wide. Killing rhinos apparently isn’t sating the market. In 2012, poachers managed to kill more than one individual animal per day from Kruger National Park. 425 individuals.

    Metal thefts also way way on the rise – lots of church lootings and sculptures stolen simply to be melted down.

    And, of course, the loss of world heritage to war and conflict zones, areas of political unrest – the looting of the Iraq Museum, Egypt’s current antiquities crisis, and the lack of protection for antiquities in Syria to name a few.

    All of the above committed by a combination of desperate amateurs and sophisticated global crime syndicates.

    Perhaps the most infuriating of recent losses to world heritage is the destruction of the El Paraiso pyramid in Peru – one of the oldest structures built in the Americas (at least 5000 years old) by private construction companies. Yet another misguided endeavor at quasi-privatization of public goods/services.

    What has me concerned about the recent backlash against the “surveillance state,” drone warfare, TSA etc. is the absence of comprehensive coverage of the issues listed above (and add human trafficking and child pornography into the mix) with respect to prevention and apprehension. Drones are now employed over the grasslands bordering South Africa and Mozambique to protect rhinos, for instance, and global crime syndicates and transnational crime frequently intersect with terrorists and terrorism – often it isn’t easy to distinguish between the two. The U.S. response, in my opinion hasn’t been strong enough, and following the Snowden debacle, delimiting the scope and authority of American intelligence seems to be in vogue. I think that position is irresponsible, ignorant, and misguided. As massive as our intelligence apparatus appears to be, it is still no match for the scope and shifting nature of global crime.

    I haven’t read through the entirety of this report yet, but I thought it might be a good source for more contextualization:

    http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/terror/R41004.pdf

    Another related note – the increased diminishment of permanent public sector security and law enforcement structures, to my mind, only exacerbates these problems. Culture and heritage should be within the purview of the government – the people – under long term protection by security experts and public trusts. In the U.S. for sure, but also worldwide. Our educational and cultural institutions should never be subject to a “fox in the henhouse” condition as they are now given the ever perpetual shift toward public-private governance by public-private partnerships (PPPs). These models only drain public coffers for private profit. And the public more often than not loses its cultural property because it’s been devalued, monetized and placed under the purview of the private sector whose only motivation, goal, and purpose is profit-mongering.

    Thank you again for posting the article. It speaks to a topic of grave concern. Hoping you and your chum are having lotsa fun as you go a-visiting.
    ~Peej

  5. janicen says:

    I’m thinking a good ad campaign for Virginia could be “Virginia Sucks! But not in a good way!”

    Something like that? Any ideas?

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Albert De Salvo’s (Boston Strangler) DNA positively identified on murdered woman’s body.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/19/justice/massachusetts-boston-strangler-dna/index.html

  7. NW Luna says:

    Researchers from Abo Academy University in Finland say that violence in early human communities was driven by personal conflicts rather than large-scale battles.

    They say their findings suggest that war is not an innate part of human nature, but rather a behaviour that we have adopted more recently.

    The study is published in the journal Science.

  8. NW Luna says:

    It’s National Dragonfly Week in the UK! Lovely pics at the link.

  9. cygnus says:

    Creepy on so may levels: Bain capital purchases majority of UK blood supply

    http://www.alternet.org/economy/sorry-britain-bain-capital-now-owns-majority-your-blood-plasma-supply

    wtf!