Lazy Saturday Reads

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Good Morning!!

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting really sick of bad news. I’ve completely stopped watching TV and listening to radio news, because I just can’t take any more details of wars, plane crashes, dead children. If it weren’t for writing these morning posts, I wouldn’t have a clue what’s happening. I get all my news from Google, Twitter, and various blogs, including Sky Dancing. So I’m going to quickly link to the major stories topping Google this morning, and then I’ll post some interesting longer reads that I came across around the ‘net.

Israel-Palestine Conflict

There’s a 12-hour cease fire in Gaza right now. BBC News has extensive coverage, Gaza conflict: 12-hour truce as deaths top 900.

Residents in Gaza are using a 12-hour humanitarian truce to return to their homes, gather essential supplies and search for those trapped in the rubble.

At least 85 bodies have been pulled from the rubble during the truce, a Palestinian health official says.

That raises the Palestinian death toll to 985 since the Israel-Hamas conflict began on 8 July, the spokesman said. Thirty-nine Israelis have died.

International talks on a longer truce have resumed in Paris.

Israel said it would continue to “locate and neutralise” Hamas tunnels during the pause, which began at 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT).

So far 31 tunnels have been discovered, with about half destroyed, Israeli’s military says.

Lots of details and photos at the BBC link.

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From AP via The Boston Globe, Gaza Sides Agree to Lull But Truce Efforts Stall.

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel-Hamas fighting looked headed for escalation after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry failed Friday to broker a weeklong truce as a first step toward a broader deal and Israel’s defense minister warned Israel might soon expand its Gaza ground operation ‘‘significantly.’’

Hours after the U.S.-led efforts stalled, the two sides agreed to a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire to begin Saturday. However, the temporary lull was unlikely to change the trajectory of the current hostilities amid ominous signs that the Gaza war is spilling over into the West Bank.

In a ‘‘Day of Rage,’’ Palestinians across the territory, which had been relatively calm for years, staged protests against Israel’s Gaza operation and the rising casualty toll there. In the West Bank, at least six Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, hospital officials said.

The latest diplomatic setbacks, after several days of high-level diplomacy in the region, signaled that both sides are digging in and that the fighting in Gaza is likely to drag on.

An op-ed from Al Jazeera, Israel’s war of disproportionate force on Gaza, by Britain Eaken.

The recent killing of four Palestinian children by an Israeli airstrike while they played soccer on a beach in Gaza should call into question Israel’s claim that it’s waging a war of self-defense. Western journalists who saw the attack witnessed firsthand an ugly reality of life in Gaza — Palestinian civilians are too often caught in the crossfire in this tiny, densely populated and besieged coastal strip.

Early Sunday, an Israeli incursion into the Shujayea neighborhood in Gaza killed at least 60 more Palestinians. Most of the injuries being treated at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital belong to civilians suffering from shrapnel injuries and amputations. More than 100 children have been killed so far and the Palestinian death toll just surpassed 400 with more than 3000 injured.

The UN says more than 70 percent of Palestinian casualties are civilians, a marked increase from previous Israeli assaults.

The toll on civilians has raised United Nations’ concerns of the Israeli use of disproportionate force in Gaza in violation of international humanitarian law. But the use of disproportionate force and the targeting of civilian infrastructure isn’t a new or surprising tactic for Israel. In fact, it’s a primary strategy according to Gabi Siboni, head of the Military and Strategic Affairs program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel. This strategy has a well-documented history in Gaza.

I have no words.

Libya

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Yes, there’s still fighting in Libya, and the violence is getting so bad than the U.S. has closed and evacuated its embassy there. NPR reports: U.S. Embassy Compound In Libya Shut Down Amid Fighting.

The U.S. has closed its embassy in Libya and evacuated diplomats amid what is being described as a significant deterioration in security, with rival militant factions battling in the capital, Tripoli.

“Due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, we have temporarily relocated all of our personnel out of Libya,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

“Securing our facilities and ensuring the safety of our personnel are top department priorities, and we did not make this decision lightly,” Harf said. “Security has to come first. Regrettably, we had to take this step because the location of our embassy is in very close proximity to intense fighting and ongoing violence between armed Libyan factions.”

In a separate statement, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said: “[All] embassy personnel were relocated, including Marine security guards who were providing security at the embassy during the movement.”

AP via ABC News: US Evacuates Embassy in Libya Amid Clashes.

The United States shut down its embassy in Libya on Saturday and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort amid a significant deterioration in security in Tripoli as fighting intensified between rival militias, the State Department said….

The evacuation was accompanied by the release of a new State Department travel warning for Libya urging Americans not to go to the country and recommending that those already there leave immediately. “The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security,” it said. “Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including antiaircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation.” ….

“We are committed to supporting the Libyan people during this challenging time, and are currently exploring options for a permanent return to Tripoli as soon as the security situation on the ground improves. In the interim, staff will operate from Washington and other posts in the region,” Harf said. The evacuated staffers will continue to work on Libya issues in Tunis, elsewhere in North Africa and Washington.

Ukraine

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Ukraine is still roiling, but it seems to have receded into the background for the moment. Here are a few headlines just to keep you current.

Fox News: Ukraine crisis: European Union hits Russian intelligence chiefs with sanctions.

WaPo: Russia, Ukraine trade accusations of cross-border shelling.

Bloomberg: U.S. Says Russia Set to Supply New Arms to Ukraine Rebels.

The Economist: The shooting down of an airliner shows how reckless Vladimir Putin’s sponsorship of Ukrainian rebels has been.

From the WaPo editorial board: If the West doesn’t do more for Ukraine now, it might soon be too late.

From the Are You Kidding Me? File

From the LA Times: White House aide says Republicans might impeach Obama over immigration.

Pesident Obama will propose broad-ranging executive action on immigration reform later this summer that could provoke Republicans into trying to impeach him, a senior White House official said Friday.

While details of the immigration plan are still being worked on, it will mark “an important step in the arc of the presidency” that will shape both the substance and politics of immigration policy for years, White House senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

That move is certain to “increase the angry reaction from Republicans” who already accuse Obama of exceeding his executive authority, Pfeiffer said, highlighting recent statements by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in which she backed an impeachment move.

“I would not discount the possibility” that Republicans would seek to impeach Obama, he said, adding that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has “opened the door to impeachment” by his plans to sue Obama for allegedly exceeding his executive authority.

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Is this just an effort by the White House to put the impeachment question out there so Americans can let the GOP what they think about it? The Hill reports: White House taking impeachment seriously.

Senior White House advisers are taking very seriously the possibility that Republicans in Congress will try to impeach President Obama, especially if he takes executive action to slow deportations.

Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to Obama, said Friday that the White House is taking the prospect of impeachment in the GOP-controlled House more seriously than many others in Washington, who see it as unlikely.

Pfeiffer noted that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has a large following among Tea Party conservatives, has called for Obama’s impeachment and a large block of the GOP’s base favors it.

“I saw a poll today that had a huge portion of the Republican Party base saying they supported impeaching the president. A lot of people in this town laugh that off. I would not discount that possibility,” he told reporters Friday at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.

Pfeiffer said Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) decision to file a lawsuit against Obama over his use of executive actions increased the chance of impeachment proceedings in the future.

A little reality testing from Sean Sullivan at the WaPo: These two numbers show why impeachment talk is trouble for the GOP.

By about 2-1, Americans say they don’t think President Obama should be impeached and removed from office, according to a new CNN/ORC International poll released Friday.

But a majority of Republicans disagree.

That, in a nutshell, is why talk about impeaching the president is nothing but trouble for the GOP heading toward the November midterms.

Sixty-five percent of Americans say Obama should not be impeached, compared to just 33 percent who say he should. Very one-sided. It’s clear that impeachment is a political loser when it comes to the public as a whole.

The “public as a whole” numbers matter because with most of the consequential primaries behind us, Republican candidates in key Senate races — the battle for the Senate is the main midterm event — have to be concerned about playing to broad statewide audiences.

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Some (mostly) longer reads

These aren’t all that cheery either, but they are interesting.

This one from the NYT Sunday Magazine is for Dakinikat: Why Do Americans Stink at Math?

Why do people leave their kids in hot cars? How can you forget you’ve got your kid with you? I just don’t get it, and it makes me furious! There’s a long article about these cases at NBC News, Fatal Mistake: What Everyone Should Know About Hot Car Deaths, by Alex Johnson.

This NYT op-ed isn’t a long read, but it’s a useful one: Why the Border Crisis Is a Myth, by Veronica Escobar.

Remember all that talk about how there was going to be some kind of horrible disaster in 2012? Well it turns out that something awful almost happened. From NASA Science News,  Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012. If you don’t want to wade through the whole article, The Boston Globe has a shorter summary, Apparently Earth ‘Just Missed’ a Solar Superstorm in 2012.

Finally, something entertaining and not depressing, This Is What Happens When You Ask Contemporary Artists To Reimagine Maps Of The World. Check it out!

What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread.

 

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38 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads”

  1. I would like more positive, good news naturally. But we must stay informed.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Yup. I’m definitely committed to staying informed. But I’m glad I started the day reading JJ’s cartoon posts.

    • Beata says:

      I stay aware of what is going on but I carefully limit my exposure to bad news these days. A steady drumbeat of bad news is just bad for one’s emotional and physical health. At first, I felt guilty about not keeping myself informed about every horrific thing that was happening in the world. It was as if somehow, I thought if I just knew about all these things, I was helping the world to be a better place.

      Then I asked myself, how was getting sick over things I honestly couldn’t do anything about helping anyone? It certainly wasn’t helping me. Hell, I’m already sick enough. So I put limits on the news I expose myself to so I can maintain my health as much as possible. I don’t feel the least bit guilty about that now. In fact, I am better able to help the world, albeit in mostly small ways, if I am not in total despair over the news every day.

      My 2 cents. It’s probably worth less.

      • NW Luna says:

        how was getting sick over things I honestly couldn’t do anything about helping anyone? It certainly wasn’t helping me.

        That’s worth much more than 2 cents, Beata! Yes, there’s too much bad news. Yet this morning the honeybees and bumblebees were filling up on nectar from the lavender plants in my front yard, the yellow Japanese plums are getting riper, more translucent, more golden, and none of my neighbors is using a motor-powered weedwacker. So I enjoy what sustains me, and store that up.

      • RalphB says:

        I think you’re right. The constant drumbeat of bad news only serves to make people become hopeless. Hopeless people are less likely to vote or take other actions which might help. It’s almost like a strategy.

      • bostonboomer says:

        No, it’s worth plenty. I do pull back when I feel like this, but at the same time, I need to be aware of the news. Right now I’m having a hard time seeing any good news, and that probably means I’m overwhelmed and need to detach a little.

      • Your 2 cents means a lot to me. If you quit replying back, I will be extremely disappointed. If you only want to say hello and talk about the weather…..I am in. Take care my friend.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    I can feel your disillusionment coming through. I share it.

    I have been reading more and more these days since the news is so awful. Tuned in briefly and watched a team of doctors extracting shrapnel from an 8 month old baby while some fool was being interviewed nodding at Israel’s “right” to defend itself. Against a baby?

    I understand Israel’s position in needing to defend itself but on the other hand these people are trapped within the confines of this “ghetto” which leads one to remember the pictures from WW2 emerging after the conflict ended showing captured Jews running for their lives against the nazis and question each sides version of “humanity”.

    It seems to me that the entire mideast is about to explode pulling the US into the fray along with it. This has been the goal all along.

    We have lost so much standing throughout the world after our miserable incursion into Iraq. An unnecessary venture that has cost both blood and treasure along with any credibility we may ever had shared.

    The world has indeed become a nasty place. Back to reading.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Same here. Yesterday I started reading a mystery. Don’t ask me why reading about crime and death relieves my stress caused by real life crime and death. I don’t know why. It just does.

      • Beata says:

        Historical mysteries are my favorites. I just finished reading Victoria Thompson’s “Murder on Sisters’ Row”. It’s part of the “Gaslight Mysteries” series set in 19th century New York. The protagonist is a midwife who also solves murders.

        • NW Luna says:

          I also like reading mysteries — I think it’s the puzzle-solving I like — or historical fiction. Distraction is a useful coping technique.

        • bostonboomer says:

          The book I just started is A Killing in the Hills, by Julia Keller. It takes place in a small town in West Virginia. I lie reading books with a sense of place. I saw this one recommended on NPR books. I’ll let you know if it’s any good. Here’s an interview with Keller.

        • janicen says:

          I’ve been burning through that series of books this summer. Not the toughest mysteries to solve but I love her attention to detail regarding the period and the historical references.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Body Found Under Motel Bed, Police Say It Has Been There At Least 5 Years

    “I clean that room every day. I noticed a smell several times, and told my manager,” said Anita Rodriguez, a housekeeper at the motel. “He told me to just use extra Febreeze in the room and it would go away eventually. I always hated cleaning that room.”

    Motel representatives say that all their rooms are cleaned daily, but that it is not the policy of the company to make their housekeepers check under the beds.

    “They do a heavy clean of the rooms to sanitize for guests, but when it comes to under the beds, they just run the vacuum around the edges. Who really looks under the bed, anyway? No reason to waste anyone’s time,” said Charles Dyson, a representative of the motel chain….

    “Funny thing is, the records also show literally almost 1,000 complaints from people who stayed in the room over the years. Everything from a bad smell to an ‘eerie feeling.’ Several people even asked to switch rooms in the middle of the night,” said Goldsmith. “The motel really should have checked out that room a little more closely.”

  4. Delphyne49 says:

    I’m with you, BB – how on Earth do you forget you have a child in the car? Maybe it’s because I’m the oldest of 8 kids (youngest sister 17 years younger than I) and had to be uber responsible about helping keep watch over them. Are people really that distracted or do they actually think that the kid will be alright “just for a few minutes?”

    I look at pretty pictures of Nature when I’m overwhelmed by some of the news….

  5. NW Luna says:

    Some good news:

    Cat Scratch Peever: So painfully sad it was to see Bubba superhero Ted Nugent get scratched from the lineup of not one but two local tribal casinos because of complaints from customers about his racist rants. Once you get bounced from the casino circuit, there’s only that last rung of small-town, rural Idaho cinder-block taverns holding you, by fingertips, above the fiery abyss of has-been-entertainer hell.

    Also at that link, more astute commenting, including this on some corporate PR that backfired:

    Speaking of Hopelessly Tone Deaf: Displaying his usual deft worker-relations touch, $23 million-a-year Boeing CEO Jim “Light Bulb” McNerney made national news by offering up this knee-slapper response to a reporter’s question about his own possible retirement when he turns 65: “The heart will still be beating, the employees will still be cowering, I’ll be working hard.”

  6. NW Luna says:

    Obama: Offshore ‘tax inversions’ are unpatriotic

    President Barack Obama says a loophole that lets companies dodge U.S. taxes by moving their headquarters overseas is unpatriotic. ….

    In the Republican address, congressman Steve Daines of Montana says Obama is waging a war on the middle class.

    The middle class, of course, owns all those companies with billions tucked away offshore.

  7. NW Luna says:

    For the first time in three decades, scientists are about to revisit one of North America’s most remarkable troves of ancient fossils: the bones of tens of thousands of animals piled at least 30 feet deep at the bottom of a sinkhole-type cave.

    Natural Trap Cave in north-central Wyoming is 85 feet deep and almost impossible to see until you’re standing right next to it. Over tens of thousands of years, many, many animals — including now-extinct mammoths, short-faced bears, American lions and American cheetahs — shared the misfortune of not noticing the 15-foot-wide opening until they were plunging to their deaths. ….

    The cave is perpetually cold and clammy, with temperatures in the mid-40s and humidity around 98 percent. Even Bureau of Land Management regional paleontologist Brent Breithaupt, who isn’t one to get the willies from lots of animal bones, describes it as a tad creepy. ….

    Some mammal remains from the cave could be over 100,000 years old, Breithaupt said.

  8. Fannie says:

    Loved the Cartoons. News junkie here, but have been busy with other events going on. Listening to some smooth bossa nova:

  9. dakinikat says:

    I’m kind’ve getting a good laugh from this : http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/07/25/conservative-medias-favorite-economist-caught-d/200213

    Steven Moore’s been caught in a really boneheaded mistake. This guy isn’t an economist. He has a stale masters degree in it from George Mason University. I doubt he could pass a basic statistics class or econometrics class or even a junior level macroeconomics class. He’s not an economist. He’s a business writer and propagandist who has no idea what he’s talking about.

  10. dakinikat says:

    David Gregory Is Toast as Chuck Todd and Joe Scarborough Fight For Meet The Press Gig

    argh! it just goes from worse to unbelievably worse!

    http://www.politicususa.com/2014/07/24/david-gregory-toast-chuck-todd-joe-scarborough-fight-meet-press-gig.html

    • Beata says:

      I wonder if Chuck or Joe can do the funky chicken like Dave? God, I hope not.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It sounds like MTP is on the way out. Joe Scarborough? Seriously?

      • bostonboomer says:

        From Politicus:

        “I have long suggested that Rachel Maddow be given the job, but she is apparently viewed as too partisan (read: too liberal and too not a heterosexual white male) to anchor a Sunday morning show.”

        • Fannie says:

          The men have laid it down on MTP, no way would they change the course. If Joe’s in, I’ll be hitting the snooze button like I did with Dancing Dave…………

          Thanks Beata – got a good laugh out of that funky chicken.

    • NW Luna says:

      I have colleagues who are adjuncts and have been teaching in non-tenure track positions for a couple of decades. Wonderful teachers; they win awards for their work, but unjustly, there is no tenure track for them. Meanwhile admin layers stealthily increase.