Thursday Reads: Southern Snow Mess, Amanda Knox, Ukraine Protests, and Nobel Peace Prize Nonsense

Mary Cassatt, Young Woman Reading

Mary Cassatt, Young Woman Reading

Good Morning!!

The weather crisis continues down South, and it really isn’t funny. It’s easy for us up here in the North to laugh at a couple of inches of snow, but when a large city doesn’t have the equipment and experience to deal with it, it can be a disaster, as we are seeing right now in Atlanta.

As I said in the comment thread yesterday, I think the only good solution is to shut down the city and keep cars off the streets for a few days. That’s what Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis did here after the Blizzard of ’78. He declared a state of emergency, got businesses to shut down for a week, and ordered everyone to stay off the roads except for emergency and government vehicles. Then Dukakis appeared on TV everyday updating the public on the crisis and explaining what he and officials were doing to deal with it.

I hope JJ will be around today to update us on the latest news from the embattled Georgia city. Meanwhile, here are a few links for you to peruse.

From the Houston Chronicle: Snow, ice send South’s flagship city reeling

A storm that dropped just inches of snow Tuesday wreaked havoc across much of the South, closing highways, grounding flights and contributing to at least a dozen deaths from traffic accidents and a mobile home fire. Yet it was Atlanta, home to major corporations and the world’s busiest airport, that was Exhibit A for how a Southern city could be sent reeling by winter weather that, in the North, might be no more than an inconvenience.

The Georgia State Patrol responded to more than 1,460 crashes between Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening, including two fatal crashes, and reported more than 175 injuries.

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, more than 400 flights in and out were canceled by 6 a.m. Thursday, according to data from the flight tracking service FlightAware. Many of those flights were canceled before the day began.

Thousands of schoolchildren either slept on the buses that tried and failed to get them home, or on cots in school gymnasiums. All were back home by Wednesday evening, officials said.

State transportation crews spent much of Wednesday rescuing stranded drivers and moving disabled and abandoned vehicles that littered the interstates, medians and shoulders. Gov. Nathan Deal said emergency workers, police, and the National Guard would help drivers Thursday to recover their cars and would provide them with fuel if necessary.

Crews planned to use four-wheel-drive vehicles to take motorists to vehicles they abandoned to reclaim them Thursday. State officials also said they were creating a database to help motorists locate vehicles that were towed to impound lots.

At least the schools are closed today, but it’s still not safe to drive; and I have no clue why the governor is allowing people to do so. Trust me, the idiots will be out there on the ice. Can you believe it dripped to -15 degrees in Georgia last night?! And it will all freeze up again tonight when the temperatures once again drop below freezing.

New York Daily News: South still crippled by big chill after storm brings Atlanta to a standstill

The deep freeze that brought the South to its knees hasn’t released the region from its chokehold just yet.

Overnight temperatures were well below the freezing mark overnight on Thursday — complicating cleanup of frozen streets along across the storm weary state of Georgia.

For many, sitting in snarled traffic was a painful experience. For Amy Anderson, it felt like she was going into labor — until she realized she was actually about to give birth….

“We couldn’t go forward any more and that’s when I knew,” Anderson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The contractions had gotten so strong, I knew that this baby was coming, because we just couldn’t get through.”

Baby Grace was delivered safely and brought to an area hospital, where she is relaxing with her mother and father.

Read much more about the snow/traffic situation and see photos at the link.

From ABC News: Who’s to Blame for the Atlanta Storm Chaos?

Officials in Georgia are on the defensive, trying to explain why Atlanta was so ill-prepared for a snow storm that gridlocked highway traffic, leaving thousands of students stranded in schools and on buses, bringing out National Guardsmen and state troopers to help with rescue efforts.

The icy weather wreaked similar havoc across much of the South, closing schools and highways, grounding flights and contributing to at least a dozen deaths from traffic accidents and a mobile home fire.

Yet it was Atlanta, home to major corporations and the world’s busiest airport, that was Exhibit A for how a Southern city could be sent reeling by winter weather that, in the North, might be no more than an inconvenience.

Instead of showing leadership, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal just let it happen and then whined about the weather forecasters and the media.

“At that time, it was still, in most of the forecasts, anticipated that the city of Atlanta would only have a mild dusting or a very small accumulation if any,” Deal said at a Wednesday press conference. “Preparations were made for those predictions.”

Forecasters erupted following the comments. The National Weather Service argued that the appropriate outlooks, watches and warnings were released two days in advance….

“I would have acted sooner, and I think we learn from that and then we will act sooner the next time,” Deal told reporters.

“But we don’t want to be accused of crying wolf. Because if we had been wrong, y’all would have all been in here saying, ‘Do you know how many millions of dollars you cost the economies of the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia by shutting down businesses all over this city and this state?'”

Hey, that’s the way it goes. You prepare for the worst, and if the predictions are wrong, you still took precautions and thousands of kids don’t get stuck on the roads and in their schools. That’s what Massachusetts officials learned after the ’78 blizzard. That wasn’t predicted either, and we ended up getting more than 20 inches of snow that landed on top of a previous snowfall of more than a foot. It was a disaster, and nowadays we prepare for the worst and just give a sigh of relief the worst doesn’t happen. If you don’t want to show real leadership, don’t run for governor. The problem with Republicans is that they don’t really believe in government, so they sit on their hands when disaster strikes.

In other news . . .

Italy is trying Amanda Knox for the third time–apparently over there, the government gets to keep appealing even in a murder case if they don’t get the verdict they want. They don’t have laws against double jeopardy. From the LA Times: Jury starts deliberating in Amanda Knox appeal.

FLORENCE, Italy — Lawyers for American student Amanda Knox warned jurors not to overlook mistakes made by investigators as deliberations began here Thursday in Knox’s new appeal of her conviction for the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

“We are anxious about your verdict,” lawyer Luciano Ghirga told the judge and jurors moments before they filed out to consider the fate of Knox, 26, and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 29.

Prosecutors have called for sentences of 26 and 30 years for Sollecito and Knox, the exchange student from Seattle who shared a house in the Italian town of Perugia with Kercher, then 21, who was found partially naked in a pool of blood with her throat slashed….

Surely President Obama won’t allow Knox to be extradited to Italy. I sure hope not.

Knox has refused to attend the second appeal, which opened in Florence last year, writing to the court from Seattle that she fears being “wrongly convicted.” [....]

In an interview with Italian television Wednesday, Knox said she would be waiting at home with her family for the verdict with “my heart in my mouth.”
“The proof is in the facts. There is no proof I was there when it happened,” she said.

I really don’t understand why this is happening.

Things are really getting out of control in the Ukraine–and that’s an understatement. Some updates:

BBC News: Ukraine protesters defy terms of new amnesty law.

Parliament backed an amnesty for detainees if protesters vacated the government buildings they had occupied and unblocked streets and squares.

The opposition has rejected this and protesters remain camped out in central Kiev and still occupy key buildings.

The protests began in November after President Viktor Yanukovych reversed a decision to sign an EU trade deal.

The next month he signed a $15bn (£9.2bn; 10.9bn euros) bailout deal with Russia….

The new amnesty law will not come into effect unless protesters leave the local administration buildings they have occupied across Ukraine within 15 days.

The pro-EU protesters have taken over a number of properties in Kiev and other cities which they are using as operation centres and dormitories, and to seek refuge from the freezing conditions outside.

Meanwhile, the president has called in sick. From the LA Times: As Ukraine’s troubles mount, president takes sick leave.

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has taken a sick leave amid the nation’s political crisis.

“Ukraine’s president is on a sick leave in connection with an acute respiratory disease accompanied by high fever,” Alexander Orda, the presidential staff’s deputy health chief, said in a statement posted on Yanukovich’s official website Thursday morning.

The announcement came a day after Yanukovich compelled parliament to sign a conditional amnesty for more than 100 detained participants in protests that started over two months ago when Yanukovich refrained from signing an association and trade deal with the European Union.

The protests were predominantly peaceful until mid-January, when Yanukovich endorsed a number of controversial laws curbing rights to assembly and free speech. That move set off a fierce confrontation between thousands of protesters and riot police in central Kiev.

The conflict raged for most of last week and left at least four protesters dead, hundreds injured on both sides and dozens of protesters detained in Kiev and elsewhere in the country.

Read more at the link.

Yesterday the Snowdenistas were celebrating because the heard someone nominated their hero for a Nobel Peace Prize. Well guess who else was also nominated? 

Yes, Vladimir Putin was nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize in October 2013. Maybe they can share the prize and go to the ceremony together. After all, they both live in Russia.

At The Daily Beast, Michael Moynihan explains that “thousands of officials” can nominate anyone they want for the Nobel Peace Prize. He fully expects to be pilloried for it by the Snowden/Greenwald cult.

If you have a paper thin skin (as I do) and are paid to comment on the news (this, for some mysterious reason, also applies to me), it’s advisable to fully disengage from writing about the Edward Snowden saga. After the initial leaks, I offered a cautious piece, urging against the instant beatification of the former NSA contractor. We knew little about him, I argued, so let’s wait for it to play out, and we’ll be better situated to determine if he was more Pentagon Papers thanPumpkin Papers. But it’s one of those stories allergic to nuance: you’re either a lackey of empire (the Snowden skeptic) or a fulminating anti-American trying to undermine Obama’s foreign policy (the Snowden supporter). In a debate without shades of grey, I’d rather leave the whole business to those with more anger, passion, and energy.

But allow me to wade into one tiny aspect of the Snowden affair without wading into the debate: across Twitter and cluttering my inbox; in stories from Time, Bloomberg, The Verge, The GuardianThe Washington Post, Reuters, and dozens of others; and in breathless dispatches from the universe of Facebook, I have been repeatedly informed within that last twenty-four hours that Edward Snowden has been “nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.” Take that previous Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama!

Well, almost. Because all of the media outlets listed above, and all my Snowdenite friends on Facebook and Twitter, have fallen for the perennial person whose politics I share was nominated for the most meaningless prize on the planetstory. But what, dear reader, does it actually mean to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize? The short answer: not much.

I hope you’ll read the rest at the link.

I have more links, but I’m running out of space and time, so I’ll put the in the comments. I hope you’ll do the same with any stories you want to share. Have a great day, Sky Dancers!!

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79 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Southern Snow Mess, Amanda Knox, Ukraine Protests, and Nobel Peace Prize Nonsense”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Report puts Snowden-like leaks as the No. 2 threat to U.S. security

    Insiders like Edward Snowden who leak secrets about sensitive U.S. intelligence programs pose a potentially greater danger to national security than terrorists, America’s spy chiefs warned Wednesday in their annual report to Congress on global security risks.

    For the first time, the risk of unauthorized disclosures of classified material and state-sponsored theft of data was listed as the second-greatest potential threat to America in a review of global perils prepared by the U.S. intelligence community. The risk followed cyber attacks on crucial infrastructure but was listed ahead of international terrorism.

    U.S. officials previously have said it will cost billions of dollars to repair or revamp communications surveillance systems in the wake of the disclosures by Snowden, a former contract employee at a National Security Agency listening post in Hawaii who began leaking classified documents to the media in June and who later fled to Russia.

    Here’s the report (pdf)

    • janicen says:

      Jeebus! Do we really want to continue to have the vetting and security clearance for employees of these agencies done by the private sector where we have no oversight or control?

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Latest Snowden link from HuffPo: Snowden Docs: U.S. Spied on Negotiators At 2009 Climate Summit

    The story doesn’t explain how that relates to domestic spying violating the privacy of Americans in the U.S. or why it’s wrong for the U.S. to try to gain economic and political advantages by spying on foreign countries at global summits. After all, they’re spying on us too.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      There’s a level of naïveté associated with the outrage over the activities of the NSA that I do not understand. Every country spies on the U.S. and we spy on them, that is the world we live in. Spying is as old as civilization. The handwringers need to pull Snowden off the pedestal before he gets knocked off by all the faux outrage. So far I see nothing good or honorable in the story of Snowden. Someone commented that had Rosa Parks ran off to another country the day she refused to sit in the “colored” section of the bus, she would not have become a standard bearer of the Civil Rights movement. History is replete with stories of people of conviction who were willing to go to jail in defense of their beliefs. If Snowden believes what he did was totally in the cause of Freedom, Liberty and Justice he should return to the U.S. and wage a defense of his actions.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Bob Cesca asks why Snowdenistas aren’t concerned about this: Journalists to be under digital surveillance at Sochi.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Now for some humor: At Pando Daily, Paul Carr mocks WaPo’s Eric Wemple and the Omidyar-Greenwald start-up using old movie clips.

    Erik Wemple dreams of Pierre Omidyar. Lucky Pierre

  5. ANonOMouse says:

    In 1982 I got caught in an ice storm in Atlanta while on a business trip. It was a nightmare. The city looked much the same way in 1982 that it looked yesterday. I know this doesn’t happen much down here in Dixie, but it’s not as if Atlanta hasn’t seen this kind of weather before. In fact many of us in the south understand that more often than not we face a combination of snow and ice mixed precipitation because of the warmer moist override of gulf air in the southeast. If you’ve ever spent July or August in TN, GA, AL, FL, MS, SC you know exactly what I’m talking about concerning the humidity in these states. Our landscapes are lush with greenery and wildflowers, but the humidity combined with the heat is almost suffocating.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      As for my little niche of Dixie it was 1 degree when I got up at 6am. It’s 27 now. I think we’re going to have a heat wave today. :-)

      • bostonboomer says:

        OMG! 1 degree? That is incredible!

        • ANonOMouse says:

          This isn’t unheard of, but it’s rare that we have such extreme cold for so many days. Fire hydrants are bursting, folks are having pipes burst in the wall. There’s a lot of black ice in the mornings because pipes burst near meters and water creeps onto the road & freezes. We’ve been in the low double digits to single digits at night for the past 4 nights. My dog and cats are in shock. I’ve had the water in my kitchen sink and in my basement mudsink streaming for 4 days straight because we haven’t been out of the 20’s even during the day. the streaming water in the kitchen has driven my young cat crazy. She can’t stay away from it. My older cat will not get off the couch except to eat and use the litter box. My dog is growling when I take her out to do her business and she usually loves outdoors. I have gotten up in the middle of the night, the past 3 nights and washed and dried two small loads of clothes in my basement to keep the basement warmer and the water moving. I dread my next power/water bill, and this is the 2nd deep freeze we’ve been through in the past 4 weeks. It’s supposed to start getting better today.

      • RalphB says:

        It’s 41 at my place now. Tonight is the first night we may not freeze since this started. Low is supposed to be 53 with temp in the mid 70s tomorrow. Personally I don’t know if it will make it or not, sounds too good.

        I’m afraid if it got to 1 here the whole town would freeze. Brrrrrrrr!

      • Fannie says:

        Ten degrees warmer here, might head out for walk, and maybe by then the sun will be out.

    • bostonboomer says:

      In that case Gov. Cry-baby should have been better prepared.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        He absolutely should have been better prepared. Anyone who’s lived in or near any of the larger southern cities like Atlanta, Birmingham or Nashville knows what happens when it snows/ices in these cities. I watch the forecast for the Southeast U.S. everyday. He and the mayor of Atlanta, had plenty of advance warning. Expecting NOAA to give them an exact arrival time and an exact description of the precipitation mix is ridiculous. Neither man has/had any excuse for not taking the proper precautions.

      • Gov Deal is an asshole. At least he is getting some national attention for the incompetent dick he is.

        The should have closed all the schools, they had more than enough notice. All that talk about not knowing is bullshit.

    • RalphB says:

      There was a year in the ’90s when the federal government was shut down twice by ice storms. I got caught in Atlanta during one of those and was stuck for almost 3 days because the airport closed. Luckily I was in a hotel in Buckhead and not sleeping on the airport floor. The streets were completely ice covered. Was the only time I’ve ever been in a snow/ice storm with loads of thunder and lightning. It was pouring down.

      One runway opened at Hartsfield so my partner and I took off. We were literally the only private car on the freeway, that wasn’t crashed and abandoned, until we got almost all the way from Buckhead to the airport. So yes, this has happened in Atlanta before.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Wow.

        • RalphB says:

          Luckily my business partner had grown up in Iowa, so driving on the ice wasn’t much of a problem. Seems to me you are correct in that it would be quicker, easier and cheaper in the long run to close everything down and clean the place up. Just hoping it will all clean up itself is not a good strategy. more like strategery.

          • ANonOMouse says:

            “strategery” sounds about right. I drive through Atlanta at least once a year and it’s a clusterfuck when it’s 80 degrees and the sun is shining. How anyone, could have any doubt how that was going to turn out, is beyond me.

    • Fannie says:

      One time I was driving out of Texas to Louisiana. Sun was out, it was wonderful. All of a sudden lightening came up from the ground, and it started pouring down like I’ve never seen it. I was in total shock and had to pull over.

      Another time I out ran a tornado out Ms. to Sherveport……………it was something else.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That happened to me in Georgia a few years ago. I was driving along in the sunshine and suddenly it was raining so hard that all the cars came to a stop on the highway. Then hail came down that was the size of baseballs–it sounded like gunshots when it hit the car. It turned out there had been tornadoes in other nearby places.

  6. Fannie says:

    Thanks, BB. I feel like my tone yesterday bordered on being funny, and it was very inappropriate. It started, with the name of the storm thing. I am sorry, I agree it is not funny. Ten people have died, and couple hundred people have been injured. You did say that the government should shut down, and it doesn’t matter if it is 2 inches or 2 feet. The government has to shut down the city in order to remove snow. I read where the weather was forecasting the storm coming their way on Sunday. When Gov. Deal tries to say the local weather was different than the national weather, he’s was playing a game. A plan should have floated to close work and school schedules. I know that a lot of employers make arrangements for non essential people to stay home and work from their computers. Like the government, many corporations don’t seem to be concerned with public safety. Gov. Deal is quoted as saying 15 hours before the storm that closing the school, and spreading salt were unnecessary cost, then he is on the record and in legal trouble. Ten people died, and couple hundred were injured. It sounds like the government were concerned with cost over public safety. This isn’t done either. I saw a picture of all the cars and trucks, and they are going to have to have one lane traffic to get them all out, and more injuries could be forthcoming.

    I’ve read a little more on Rep. Governor Deal, he is being investigated for misappropriation of election funds, and he is up for re-election. This man comes from a line of teachers, but he does not believe in science educational needs. Makes me wonder if they will vote for him.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    This is interesting: An Austerity Storm Hammers Georgia

    Americans are surrounded by examples of the extent to which the austerity compulsion has twisted the thinking of elected officials – December’s budget “compromise” failed to extend unemployment benefits, not just Republicans but many Democrats just voted for a Farm Bill that cuts aid for the hungry, states across the country are proposing to spend revenue surpluses on tax breaks for the rich, and Detroit is trying to come up with a plan to avoid having to sell off its art museum.

    But there will be no better example of how the austerity mindset warps thinking — and doing — than the explanations Georgia officials are peddling for their failure to respond in a rational manner to warnings that their state was about to experience a winter storm. Instead of taking reasonable precautions such as closing schools, preparing major thoroughfares and highways to prevent icing over, ordering truckers to use tire chains and imposing basic traffic-control measures, they allowed a nightmare scenario to play out.

    • RalphB says:

      Nichols hit that out of the park. Looks like he nailed it to me.

    • dakinikat says:

      He was too worried that businesses might lose money! What a jerk!

      • The superintendent of schools up here in Banjoville treats the school closings like putting your windshield wipers on in a drizzle of rain…he waits until the neighboring counties call a snow day before he calls it. What is crazy is that both Fannin and Towns closed the school on Tuesday, but he did not even call for a delay. It could have been a bad situation too. The thing is it snowed in areas that don’t even have snow plows. Our county only has one, which is pathetic since we are the largest county in north GA.

        • bostonboomer says:

          I hope you kept your kids at home.

          • The went to school, if you don’t have a dr note you get an unexcused absence. After 3 of those you could get a visit from the school, I think after 7 of them, it is jail time for the parents. It is super fucked up…has something to do with the whole no kid left behind shit.

  8. RalphB says:

    Rebecca Burns has a good article on the problems from the view of an Atlanta resident.

    TBOTP: The Day We Lost Atlanta

    • Fannie says:

      Very good link………bring me to one factor about myself, I don’t have confidence, never had, driving the Big freeways and byways. I look at that traffic and shake my head. Back in California, you could call the sheriff’s department for risky driving due to weather, or fires, or other issues like road work. When I worked, I always had my radio on for the weather and traffic news. So that I could what was up ahead. Sometimes I couldn’t. I will say this, the more experience you have driving in such conditions, the better you are. But I’ve been around earthquakes too, and that is a different story altogether.

  9. RalphB says:

    TBogg: The fault, dear Republicans, is in your stars

    We are still a good full year and pocket change away from Run For The POTUS 2016, the candidates aren’t even in the starting gates yet, and already members of the party hoping at best for a photo finish against Hillary Clinton are pulling up lame. …

    LOL

  10. Fannie says:

    The cold front came in on Tuesday. Monday night, Louisiana, Alabama, North Caroline, South Carolina had already declared a state of emergency. Due to hazardous conditions flights (major airports) were cancelled on Tuesday in all the states, schools and government was ordered to shut down. But not Georgia.

    It started snowing about noon on Wednesday in Atlanta. This just proves that the governor didn’t care, and made a conscious decision to do nothing. The governor certainly failed to act to protect the public.

  11. Holy shit its 3:00 in the afternoon! I just woke up….damn, what the hell is happening to me.

  12. boogieman7167 says:

    I’m glad you had a piece about Amanda Knox i said she she was getting railroaded from the beginning .

  13. Luckovich is funny. The mayor and gov were at a fundraising party when all those people were getting caught in the gridlock. People stuck in their cars for 48 hours.

  14. RalphB says:

    I really wish this post wasn’t true, but it is.

    LG&M: Deadbeat elementary school kids launch first phase of Kristallnacht 2.0 by trying to steal lunch from hedge fund managers

    The corndog is the gefilte fish of liberal fascism: …

  15. RalphB says:

    Republican thug Rep Grimm may have made a major mistake :-)

    Rep. Grimm couldn’t intimidate Scotto

    Rep. Michael Grimm didn’t know whom he was dealing with on Tuesday when he threatened to throw NY1 reporter Michael Scotto off the US Capitol balcony and “break you in half. Like a boy.”

    The journalist is related to Anthony Scotto, former head of the Brooklyn longshoremen’s union and a former boss in the Gambino crime family.

    “Michael is a tough reporter, and in true Scotto fashion, he’s not easily intimidated!” “Good Day New York” host Rosanna Scotto, Michael’s cousin and Anthony’s daughter, told me.

    “Grimm’s outlook may be grim,” laughed one Brooklynite. “Is he nuts, or what?”

  16. Fannie says:

    Erick Munoz, who just buried his pregnant wife, is receiving bills saying that he must pay the bills.

    http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/01/30/3228561/brain-dead-texas-bills/

  17. Well, the manager of my husbands store was fired today. But it doesn’t mean that Dan will get the position. Even though the store employees were voicing their preference for Dan…walmart has rules. It’s upsetting too.

    But this is something: ‘Seinfeld’ Reunion Will Happen ‘Very, Very Soon’

  18. RalphB says: