Saturday: 18 million

Hillary, the advocate. For 18 million and counting…

Morning, newsjunkies.

What a difference a few election cycles make… did you catch this from a week or so ago?

Samantha Power, October 2013:

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in an interview broadcast Thursday that she regrets calling Hillary Rodham Clinton a “monster” during the 2008 presidential campaign.

“I regretted it pretty much every day since,” Power told NBC’s “Today.”

Interesting timing, that. The creative class-er set are gunning for their continued relevance in the Democratic party looking toward 2016 and beyond, and it’s been pretty clear that the comments coming out of the Obama ’08 veterans about Hills 2016 are at least partially  self-serving in that vein. (Past is prologue, and as Peter Daou reminded back in April–anyone calling Hillary inevitable in 2016, really isn’t the strongest of Hillary allies.)

Nonetheless–good for Power for saying the above anyway. Still have yet to hear of Axelrod’s regret over blaming Benazir Bhutto’s assassination on Hillary Clinton, but hey. I’m a realist. *wink*

Additionally, I think it’s good any time anyone on the D side reflects on 2008-present and recognizes that going after your core constituencies of women, working class, and older voters isn’t a good strategy strategically in the long term or morally ever.

Moarr, from the Power link:

“It just completely broke my heart that there is a fair amount of negativity heaped upon her that I find massively unfair,” she told “Today.” “And the idea that I could have contributed in some way to that narrative is just terrible.”

Power said apologizing to Clinton in person was “very emotional” for her.

Again, good for her and for women’s political participation in general, including Power’s herself. Hopefully. *Fingers crossed.*

Because, if this lesson isn’t retained–understand, this is the kind of negativity that we reinforce and exponentially multiply any time any of us calls any woman in politics a monster.

I was especially thrilled to hear this very un-monster like statement make it into the headlines and thus into our public discourse this morning, and of course from, of all people, our Hillary:

Hillary Clinton has called for a “sensible adult conversation”, to be held in a transparent way, about the boundaries of state surveillance highlighted by the leaking of secret NSA files by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In a boost to Nick Clegg, the British deputy prime minister, who is planning to start conversations within government about the oversight of Britain’s intelligence agencies, the former US secretary of state said it would be wrong to shut down a debate.

Clinton, who is seen as a frontrunner for the 2016 US presidential election, said at Chatham House in London: “This is a very important question. On the intelligence issue, we are democracies thank goodness, both the US and the UK.

“We need to have a sensible adult conversation about what is necessary to be done, and how to do it, in a way that is as transparent as it can be, with as much oversight and citizens’ understanding as there can be.”

THANK YOU, Madame Secretary! I have been waiting for someone more versed on the matter than me to make this point and make it forcefully. Awhile back I attempted to write a post on the competing issues of privacy vs. security–though I had tried to wade through the mass of expert opinions and viewpoints on the issue of surveillance in this country, including those contained within articles bostonboomer had been kind enough to send me at my request, I just felt woefully out of league in discussing the subject. It helps (well at least it helps me personally) to hear an emeritus [sic] stateswoman say we need to have a debate–that it would be wrong to shut it down. With Hillary having been on the frontlines of a sort of World Apology Tour in the aftermath of Wikileaks, it feels good to hear that she recognizes the complexity of the issue and doesn’t just dismiss out of hand concerns about privacy, the public’s right to have oversight over its government, etc. I would not expect any less from the woman who as a young Hillary Rodham cut her legal and political teeth working on the Watergate investigation.

Here’s an interesting open letter to Hillary in the Monterey County Herald:

Dear Hillary:

I’m a beleaguered elementary school teacher fighting in the California front-line trenches and I need to give you a guilt-ridden, heartfelt apology. Although I embraced most of your political positions, I felt at the time I had to vote strategically. When it mattered most, I voted for Barack Obama. But it ate my soul because you were the only candidate against No Child Left Behind.

NCLB destroyed public education. It was the biggest of bamboozles, gutting science and social studies for more than a decade, and the whole intrusion of private involvement (testing) in public education has been one of extracting money from classrooms. Race To The Top and Common Core are destructive subtractive chaotic cousins to NCLB.

I teach fifth-graders in a little town near Monterey. My kids are 10 years old. Last year, five students had dead parents. I had 30 kids, so that means one of six had a dead parent. Cancer, cars and gangs were the culprits. This year, I have 31 kids. Two of them soil themselves regularly. Remember, they are 10 years old.

One of my parents warned me her child has Tourette’s syndrome and will upon whim scream, “Chicken!” Nine of my students have set foot in a jail or prison to visit a family member. One of my favorite former students was incarcerated at age 13. He is 30 now and has spent 17 years in and out of prison. At the moment, he has two strikes and is on the run.

I have four special education kids in my class. The pull of gangs is all-powerful here. A few years ago, a former student’s mother was gunned down in a gangland slaying in nearby Salinas. The same child’s grandmother was shot in the face in another gang incident.

I boil over and fester when I hear any mention of “failing schools.” I teach in a desperate community of abject poverty. Poverty is the failure, not the bricks of my building nor the many noble and heroic teachers who have chosen to work in my school. Making teachers accountable for testing results with the abominable life conditions here is a disconnect so large the country is lucky teachers are not engaged in open rebellion. And the money lost to testing, test preparation, test result trainings, test motivation and test-improvement- consultant-magic-dances is repugnant.

All is focused on language arts and math. Nothing else matters, as it is not tested. Result — a diminished curriculum, no music, art, band, restricted field trips, if any. But unctuous consultants show up with paycheck regularity, drive-by checklists in hand. It is, as Diane Ravitch writes, a “Reign of Error.”

Therefore, Hillary, I apologize for voting strategically last time. Obama sang his song, “Yes, We Can,” but the reality is, “Nope, He Didn’t.” We need a president with brains and testicles — figuratively, that is. Bush qualified in one respect, but was shy in gray matter. Obama has brains, but many disappointed supporters wonder what is below the belt.

It is up to you. We need a president with brains and more. That would be you. Please, just remember the teachers and help us help our desperate kids.

 

Paul Karrer teaches in Castroville.

Do you think the above is emotional “hurt feelings” over 2008?

I don’t think Obama is the worst president in American history. In fact I was pretty adamant about Hillary not being the type to primary Obama in 2012, and precisely because I didn’t think he was a “monster” that needed to be removed from the presidency by extraordinary means that virtually no white male president before him ever had to face. (and, yes, I’m aware of the history with LBJ, but that’s really an exception that proves the rule.)

Yet, Obama is a moderate Republican president in all but name. Can’t we do better as a Democratic party? Because, I agree very much with this blog headline from WaPo in spirit: Hillary Clinton could win all 50 states running against Banana Republicans in 2016.

But, that only approaches some sort of realization in practice if we push this Democratic party to the left and make them prove they are an actual meaningful alternative to the Republicans. Just my two, anyway.

Also, too: Figuratively and literally, I think it’s time for ovaries over brovaries. Wendy 2014 and Hillary 2016.

Your turn in the comments, Sky Dancers. Have a wonderful weekend!


Healthcare is a Right

20131008-081453.jpgHey newsjunkies. I’ve been reading anything I can about healthcare. I thought it might be worthwhile to highlight some interesting snippets and passages, for anyone else here who might be interested.

I’ll start with this special to Canada’s Globe and Mail by Antonia Maioni, assistant professor at McGill University — Obamacare vs. Canada: Five key differences:

Obamacare is a huge step in American health reform and, if it seen to improve the system, will represent a major victory for Democrats. Like other major reforms of the past, however, it will entrench the private nature of the system, and likely render national health insurance, or anything remotely like “Canadian-style” health care, impossible to attain.

This pretty much sums up my biggest concern about the ACA as it stands.

Maioni makes this bleak assessment after going through the differences between ACA and a Canadian type universal healthcare. The article at the link goes more in-depth on each point as it is listed, but to summarize here quickly, the ACA is:

1) Not single payer
2) Not universal coverage
3) Not “national” health insurance
4) Not equal access
5) Not cost containment

So, that’s one view from the perspective of a country that actually has single payer.

Next up, a pro-ACA argument from John McDonough–as related in a panel segment on Democracy Now called, Is Obamacare Enough? Without Single-Payer, Patchwork U.S. Healthcare Leaves Millions Uninsured.

Here is his background first:

John Donough, professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, director of the New Center for Public Leadership. Between 2008 and ’10, he served as a senior adviser on national health reform to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. And between 2003 and ’08, he served as executive director for Health Care for All in Massachusetts, playing a key role in the passage of the 2006 Massachusetts health reform law known as “Romneycare,” regarded by many as the model for the current healthcare law. He recently wrote the book Inside National Health Reform.

So, clearly someone invested in the ACA.

Here is Donough’s take:

JOHN McDONOUGH: Well, yes, the law and the system around the law are complicated, and our underlying healthcare system is incredibly complicated, far more than it needs to be. I don’t really have a disagreement with my—with my friend and colleague, Steffie Woolhandler, about a division of what we would like to see. The reality is that this was probably the best we could have gotten in 2009, 2010. Getting anything even close to this would be politically impossible today. And, you know, I hope this is a movement in the direction toward a more rational and less complex system, but it is an important start and an important step forward for potentially tens of millions Americans, a lot of whom are going to get coverage that’s going to be very affordable and at almost no cost.

I’m a hard sell, so no I’m not convinced.

Here is the bio on Steffie Woolhandler, who Donough mentions, as she also is interviewed in the segment on DN:

Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, professor of public health at CUNY-Hunter College and a primary care physician, visiting professor at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program;

Clearly she is invested in single payer as that is what her organization PNHP advocates.

With that noted, I have to say that her response to Amy Goodman below resonates with my understanding of how social policy has been won in this country:

AMY GOODMAN: Is this a road to single-payer, Dr. Steffie Woolhandler?

DR. STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER: Well, it’s only a road to single-payer if we fight for single-payer.

Personally, this is why I won’t throw away my “public option” and “single payer” flags and will keep waving them around. I understand full well that the ACA is the law of the land. I simply refuse to be party to ceding the shaping of the future of healthcare policy in America to the Electeds on the right who have branded a government subsidized expansion of the private insurance industry as a “government takeover.”

Of all the articles I’ve scoured through so far, I have found Healthcare for All Colorado executive director Donna Smith’s example in activism and her commentary on healthcare–of which I am only including a few passages here–of particular interest:

Smith’s work with Health Care For All Colorado currently centers on gathering enough signatures to put on a citizen-driven state initiative on the ballot in November 2014 that establishes health care as a human right and a public good for all Coloradans. The initiative will require100,000 signatures to make it on the ballot in 2014. “I’m not sure if we will reach our goal in the next six months,” Smith said. “But we can bring it back again much like the marijuana initiative here in Colorado that took a couple of tries to get it on the ballot.”

Ah, if only we could be having this discussion nationally. But, more on that in a moment when we come to another passage.

Something I am glad to hear as well:

In addition to promoting the moral and fiscal benefits to a single payer health care system, Smith travels to other countries speaking out against their attempts to move to privatization of health care that would result in other countries adopting a system more like that here in the U.S. She recently spoke to a group in Australia (see below). “Not all countries have a pure single payer system, some have a mixture of public and private, but they have such strict regulations on insurance companies that we here in America would scarcely recognize what those private plans look like. Americans just don’t know about this, in part because they’re not told, they’re not educated. If you go to another country one of the things you notice right away is that you don’t see all this advertising for drugs and medications that are done here.”

Exactly.

But, back to our national healthcare struggle here at home:

Does she envision single payer eventually taking hold in the United States? “Short term, at the national level, we’d have a hard time thinking that this Congress and this President would go after a single payer system,” Smith said. “The fight for the ACA bruised so many people on both sides and continues to do so. They are not going to be able to go back in the transformational way that those of us advocating for single payer would like to see it happen.

In other words, there’s no Trojan pony here in and of itself, and this president and this Congress aren’t interested in fixing this bill anyway.

The Silver lining, if we actually fight for single payer instead of settling for the ACA:

But, the one opening we got through the ACA was waivers under Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act. That allows for states to innovate in terms of how they deliver their health care, provided they cover at least as many people, which would not be an issue with single payer.

Yes, I remember all too well–thanks to Bernie Sanders for getting that small ray of hope into the ACA.

Nonetheless:

“But, passing single payer on a state level is not easy, Smith cautioned. “The same forces that fought it on a national level will fight it on the state level, much the way we’ve seen the Koch Brothers work on state legislatures on union issues. So, we’ve seen Vermont pass Green Mountain Care under (Governor) Peter Shumlin, but they’ve had a difficult time with the funding mechanism there. That happens because there are forces that don’t want to see a smaller state like Vermont move forward on single payer.

“I think the real chance is if a big state like California or New York can be forceful enough and progressive enough to push it across the finish line. And once one state does that and we see it function well there–similar to what we saw happen with Romney Care, which served as the model for the ACA–then I think it will be a similar scenario for single payer. That’s the way it happened in Australia; their national health care system started state-by-state and many of us know the story of Canada and Tommy Douglas. The crisis in health care is not going to get any smaller any time soon. The nation is going to have to go at it again. (Even with full implementation of the ACA, not all U.S. citizens will be covered and medical bankruptcy remains in place with the ACA). The number of people suffering is really not going to back off until we truly transform the system to one that’s universal and financed under a single payer system.”

These are some good guidelines on developments and trends to follow in terms of state single payer and how it might then broaden the national discussion.

Right now that discussion is stuck in tribalist support for-or-against the ACA, which has been a fait accompli for years anyway, and so far from anything I can take hope in personally. It is hard to envision the day where we can talk about say a Gillibrand-care in New York being expanded federally, as opposed to Obama or Romney care. But, a wonk can dream :)

Anyhow, I think I may have to do this piece in installments because this post already feels long to me, even though I’m only a very small fraction into the links and excerpts I have. So I will wrap this up for now and if I can keep up with blogging as fast I am reading all this stuff–try to work on a part 2 next.

PS I know at Sky Dancing our writers, readers, and commenters feel intensely and passionately about the issue of healthcare, and so I hope I am explaining where I am coming from well enough for it to be understood as just that–my personal perspective.


Saturday: I Wanna Be Sedated

Morning, newsjunkies. How’s everyone hanging in? This is my thinking:

I’ll just jump right into some different news and views to consider this morning…
BAR’s Glen Ford on The Shutdown Game:

Therefore, for the sake of the almighty dollar (blessed be its name) – and because the shutdown has already achieved its purposes – the GOP will call a halt to its action before any money-changers get hurt. The Republicans will have shown their willingness to fight The Obama. Obama will appear to be defending the people from The Republicans. And then they will both slash away at social spending, as was the intention, all along.

Well, yippee for oligarchy.

Right on cue, via the SF Chron:

Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) — U.S. Representative Dennis Ross, a Florida Republican, said he would support a broad spending deal that didn’t include changes to the health-care law, becoming the first Tea Party-backed House lawmaker to publicly back off the fight that has shut down the government for five days.

Ross, ranked among the House’s most conservative members by both the Club for Growth and the American Conservative Union, said he shifted his position because the shutdown hasn’t resulted in changes to the Affordable Care Act, which started Oct. 1, the same day government funding ran out. The shutdown also could hurt the party, he said.

“We’ve lost the CR battle,” Ross, referring to the continuing resolution to authorize government spending, said in an interview. “We need to move on and take whatever we can find in the debt limit.”

Three cheers for fast turnaround. This is one step better than kabuki, it’s bunraku…where we’ve been the puppets they’ve been manipulating all along.

Paul Krugman, of course, has a much more charitable view:

The assumption has been that Republicans will finally be moved to act by the market freakout. But given their behavior so far, why would you believe this? I can easily see Ted Cruz making a speech declaring that the freakout is all Obama’s fault, and that what the markets really fear is socialism or something — and the base believing it.

My bet now is that we actually do go over the line for a day or two. And what ends the immediate crisis is not Republican action but a decision by Obama to declare himself not bound by the debt ceiling. He can’t even hint at this possibility until the thing actually happens, because he has to keep the focus on the Republicans, and he has to make them demonstrate their utter irresponsibility before he can take any extraordinary action.

But maybe I’m wrong; maybe Obama’s lawyers have concluded that there’s really nothing he can do. If so, God help us all.

Obama is going to declare himself not bound by the debt ceiling? Okay, this I got to see–and good luck with that.

The latest stenography from Wapo :

The political impasse that shuttered the federal government at midnight on Monday spilled into its first weekend showing no signs of abating, and leaving hundreds of thousands of federal workers on furlough and museums and national parks across the country closed.

House Republican leaders and the White House sought to reassure those furloughed federal workers that they will be paid when the shutdown ends, but resolving the crisis remains a politically difficult task since both sides see broader strategic implications to the outcome.

Governin’ is hard.

In other news, Twenty-twenty-twenty five hours to go?

Wish you had another hour in the day to get everything done? Just wait 200 million years, when days here on Earth will stretch to 25 hours.

While we like to think of the Earth’s rotation as one of the few constants in this world, it’s anything but. For hundreds of millions of years, days have been growing longer and longer. The changes are small enough that our circadian clocks can’t detect them, but atomic clocks certainly can. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which runs the United States’ atomic clocks, days today are longer than those a century ago by two milliseconds. Add that up over millions of years and you start to see real changes—days in the Jurassic period were only 23 hours long, for example.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt the news cycle getting quite maddeningly stretched out about much ado lately ;)

And, finally…Use of deadly force in Capitol Hill shooting questioned:

“My sister could have been any person traveling in our capital,” Valarie Carey told reporters outside her Brooklyn home. “Deadly physical force was not the ultimate recourse and it didn’t have to be.”

The chase and shooting came at a time of high political tension in the U.S. capital with Congress debating how to resolve the shutdown of the federal government. The Capitol was locked down after the shots were fired.

[…]

Law enforcement sources said Carey did not shoot a gun and there was no indication she had one.

“I’m more than certain that there was no need for a gun to be used (by police) when there was no gunfire coming from the vehicle,” Valarie Carey said. “I don’t know how their protocols are in D.C., but I do know how they are in New York City.”

The article also mentions the guy who self-immolated…Nope, not the Onion:

In another incident that caused alarm in Washington, a man appeared to have set himself on fire at the National Mall on Friday. He was listed in critical condition at a hospital.

And, there was also this:

Authorities are investigating a report that U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) was assaulted Wednesday night by a bystander in the Longworth House Office Building while en route to the Capitol for a vote, according to his office and police.

Few details were immediately released. Officer Shennell S. Antrobus, a spokesman for the U.S. Capitol Police, confirmed that an assault investigation is underway. He said no arrests have been made.

Duffy’s spokeswoman, Cassie Smedile, issued a statement describing the encounter as a “minor incident.” The statement said that “a random individual, unknown to the Congressman, began screaming at him and grabbed his arm.”

Smedile said in the statement that Duffy was not hurt and that he reported the incident to authorities. “Congressman Duffy has requested no further action be taken,” the statement said.

The incident was first reported by Roll Call.

The spokeswoman declined to comment further. She would not say what the man was screaming and whether it was over the government shutdown. Duffy has voted with the block calling for a delay in implementing the president’s health care plan.

Duffy is a former district attorney from Wisconsin who also appeared on the MTV reality show “The Real World,” where he met his wife.

This all kinda sounds like that urban legend that floats all over the Internet…Yup, the Zombie Apocalypse…with the Ghost of Reagan at the helm.

I don’t mean that as a cheap joke, either. These incidents could all be isolated and/or unrelated, but it’s still creepy. I can’t help but wonder how much, if any, are these strange-doings the symptoms of deregulation, unemployment, lack of medical care (including mental), etc.

A bit of a Halloween scare headline to leave you with before I go : David Koch, Feminist?

Almost any discussion of the barriers women still face at work ends with feminists pleading for better child care options in the United States. At MIT, women will have this, thanks to … David Koch.

The libertarian billionaire, better known for his anti-Obama efforts, has pledged $20 million dollars towards the creation of the David H. Koch Childcare Center. Per the Boston Globe, this will double the amount of day care available on campus.

It certainly is a Brave New Dystopia these days more and more…

Your turn, Sky Dancers! And, have a great Caturday.


Universal Kitto Care

Kitto Love and Hugs for Lady Liberty’s weak, poor, tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free…

for Beata, for JJ, for Ralph,

for BB’s brother for helping tell the story on Frontline.

for all.

Just an open thread of musing from me until Bostonboomer’s Thursday Morning Reads go up!

So, this is Rue at the beginning of summer giving me one of her Mama’s girl poses:

20131003-041740.jpg

I love her. She loves and depends on me. When I adopted her and her big sister, they are the ones who *rescued* me. Not the other way around.

Jesus the original hippie didn’t say the meek shall go to hell and the ‘good capitalists’ to the promised land. St. Francis of Assisi didn’t say hmm, yeah, people less fortunate than me or “dependent” on me are beneath me. He devoted his life to them:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Nurture and care isn’t that difficult. I’m not going to go into object relations theory (Dr. Bostonboomer would be the go-to person for a primer anyway), but…

Even ET and Elliot were all, “you ouch, I ouch…” There’s nothing overemotional or nanny state about that.

It is the right of all to experience the healing that comes from human interdependence.

Dependency isn’t the worst thing. Lack of nurture is. It’s the stuff antisocial atrocities like mass shootings are made of.

You give fish first while you teach to fish. When babies and the elderly can’t fish much less chew, historically our human ancestors didn’t say well that sucks for you! The human species would have never survived if survival of the fittest was not mitigated by our care and concern for the most vulnerable. Human babies take much longer than other animals to be physically capable of independence from our primary caregivers. We’re not biologically built to be raised by wolves. It takes a village. (Wendy Davis 2014, Hillary 2016!)

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not the privilege for only the ‘good capitalists’ who make paper money off paper money (my laywoman vague notion of “derivatives”) for generations of Rockefellers etc.

If ordinary Americans (women, minorities, labor) in the year 2013 have to struggle everyday for basic civil rights, healthcare, clothes, shelter, education, job and food security–in short basic human rights and dignity–for the rest of their lives, what is so exceptional about America? What is left of the American Dream? Is this the standard of living we’ve been waiting for?

Like Dr. King, all I’m asking is be true to what you said on paper. Make good on the more perfect union. Always leave the next generation better off than you were. Be exceptional.

:)


Saturday: Gladiators and Safety Nets

20130928-102144.jpgGood afternoon, newsjunkies. I can’t seem to find my laptop charger, which is probably hiding underneath something as usual. So I’m drafting most all of this post from my iPhone. If the formatting is off, please forgive. This will be an exercise in trial by error–if I can pull this off decently I may be able to start posting a little more often during the week. I keep meaning to try my hand at the WordPress app on my phone, and this forces me to do just that, so maybe losing my charger is a good thing. Although by the looks of it, I just ramble even more blogging by phone ;)

Also, thanks to Bostonboomer for putting up the morning reads last week and today. It’s been one thing after another…waking up sick, losing power during storms, losing my charger. I have a lot of links saved up myself from not being able to post, so settle in for a bit of a ride!

First up, an interesting infographic I came across this morning — perhaps you have already seen it: Everything Wrong with America in One Simple Image. I like how the blogger points out the link between sports coaches being the highest paid public employees and the Steubenville rape.

From the link:

Bread and Circuses brought Rome to its knees. Will our epitaph be “Football and Junk Food?”

A bit of a cheap shot but not that far off the mark. Everything we consume–be it our education or our news–has morphed into a junk food version for mass consumption. And, the gladiators at our football and basketball coliseums have women and children as the spoils of their wars and the sacrificial lambs of their spectator sports.

The more civilization develops, the more it seems to devolve right back to the same place.

Speaking of which…am I the only one who finds Chris “Birdman” Andersen’s supposed clearing of his name really convoluted and dubious? Maybe I’m too jaded, but it just doesn’t pass the smell test. Doesn’t this seem like some kind of Manti Te’o redux? I don’t want to waste time on the details of the Birdman situation because they make no sense IMHO, but overall the story seems further evidence to me of a society that gives credence to the bizarre rationalizations of the gladiators to do whatever the hell they well please and sell it as more entertainment for the spectators.

Anyhow, shifting gears a bit… From the National Women’s Law Center Analysis of 2012 Census Poverty Data: Women’s Poverty Rate Remains Historically High . Specifically, more than 1 in 7 American women–17.8 million–lived in poverty last year. Take a look at the summary of stats at the link. Women of color and women-run households suffer the most as usual.

While I’m on the issue of the increased pressures we face as women, here’s a list from Huffpo on 23 Things Women “Should” Stop Doing. I put ‘should’ in quotes because telling ourselves we should or should not do this or that is a symptom itself of the crazy expectations placed upon women in society. The list at the link is more a list of guidelines and checkpoints, and it’s actually a decent, solid set of self-care/nurture goals so click over, Sky Dancers, and give it some thought. If you find some of these in particular to be trouble spots for you, try to evaluate where these attitudes and expectations come from–from your inner self or what society dictates? And, maybe think of alternatives that better nurture you and your womanhood and the womanhood of your sisters around you.

Alright, I’m trying my best to narrow down the various links I have gathered over the last few weeks to the few that are the most relevant or interesting still, so bear with me as I wander all over the place. Oddly enough, I even have a link to a SciAm blog piece that talks about the potential merits of being a scatterbrain — Mind Wandering: A New Personal Intelligence Perspective. Lol!

Moving along to the top of my political girl junkie perspective– if you haven’t heard already, Wendy Davis has all but officially announced for Governor of Texas! An official announcement is due from Wendy on October 3rd. Eeeeee! I can’t wait.

In the meantime, chew on this press release from her Texas senate office: Davis Cites New Law as Key to Cracking Down on Sexual Predators (note: link opens as a short PDF):

DALLAS – A law passed by Senator Wendy Davis (SD10 – Fort Worth) will help assure that dangerous sexual predators are identified, caught and prosecuted. Senator Davis detailed the new statute earlier today while speaking to the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council (DFWHC).

Key provisions of the bill require that nearly all hospitals with emergency room services have trained medical personnel on hand to properly collect DNA and other important evidence from sexual assault victims. Prior to the law, many local hospitals lacked trained staff, forcing victims to endure traveling to other facilities, sometimes hours away. This new law allows investigators to work with hospitals to help ensure that evidence from these sexual assaults are obtained during the critical period immediately after a crime is committed.

“This is about identifying, tracking down, prosecuting and imprisoning sexual predators through smart law enforcement work,” said Sen. Davis. “Assisting the effort to bring sexual predators to justice is just common sense.”

The measure is just one of the initiatives successfully passed by Davis during the session to make sure violent criminals are taken off the streets and that the survivors of sexual assault get help and see that justice is served. Davis also worked in a bipartisan effort to secure nearly $11 million in funding for the Department of Public Safety to help eliminate a backlog of more than 23,000 rape kits currently sitting on evidence room shelves across Texas.

“Each of these untested kits may represent a predator who has not yet been brought to justice for his crime and may still be targeting our neighborhoods,” said Davis. “I want this backlogged evidence off the shelves and in courtrooms.”

Another law enforcement measure passed by Senator Davis provides survivors the ability to be updated on the status of the investigation into their case so that they can help assure appropriate attention is provided to resolve their case.

Senator Davis spoke at DFWHC’s event, “Rape Kit Responsibility: The impact of Senate Bill 1191,” to inform clinical personnel about the new law, which became effective on September 1. For 43 years, DFWHC has brought together health care providers and industry leaders in North Texas in the interest of promoting patient safety and cost effective, quality healthcare.

I thought this was worth quoting in its entirety. Wendy’s work , from her epic filibuster to this legislation, is such a contrast to the appalling display put on by Ted Cruz and his 22 hour railing against Obamacare.

I do have some Hillary 2016 stuff saved up of course, but I think I’m going to do a separate roundup for them later this week.

Next up…via Upworthy…another infographic worth clicking over to view, on social security; this quote via Upworthy’s FB page sums it up:

“Entitlements,” aka “what we spend our lives paying into so we don’t have to eat cat food.” – Brandon Weber

I’m going to wrap this up for now, but here’s a handy guide from Jezebel before I go, since we’re coming up on the October 1st enrollment date for the Affordable Care Act: Answers to All Your Questions About Obamacare’s Birth Control Mandate.

Alright, Sky Dancers, you know what to do in the comments. Have a wonderful day and weekend!


Saturday: Foreign Policy, Natural Disasters, and Hillary 2016

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Hillary 2016: Chelsea’s selfie with her mom from June 2013

Good afternoon, newsjunkies. Sorry for the belated Saturday reads. I went to sleep with a pounding headache and woke up very late.

To the right: Still4Hill used this photo to highlight Hillary’s public appearances this week, which included mother-daughter time. Here’s the backstory on the photo, from when Chelsea first tweeted it over the summer. I thought it was the perfect image to open with this weekend.

Just going to dive right in with the reads, so as to get this post up ASAP.

The latest news on Syria of course is that the US and Russia have agreed on framework for Syria’s surrender of chemical weapons. Thoughts? Here’s Taylor Marsh’s take. Shorter TM:

So, as media outlets blast that there is “a deal,” caution should also be applied, because this is a framework that extends into 2014 and will likely meet many challenges and road blocks.

I think that’s the bottom line really. Hope for the best, understanding that we really just have to wait and see how this plays out.

Here’s an interesting FP read from yesterday — How Assad Could Twist a Chemical Weapons Treaty to Keep His Poison Gas:

“The Chemical Weapons Convention was created to deal with a very different type of set of circumstances,” said Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. “It was designed to deal with a country that was willing to renounce its chemical weapons voluntarily and not under coercion, a country where there was no real chance of them being used again, and a country that was stable enough that they could be destroyed safely. None of those conditions exist in Syria.”

Kimball is a fan of the treaty who believes it has proven effective over the years and is a far better option than trying to use force to degrade Assad’s chemical weapons facilities. Still, he said, Syria will be an “unprecedented test” of the treaty.

The piece goes on to outline specifics in terms of the obvious and not-so-obvious concerns that disarming Syria of its chemical ammo entails. Give it a read.

Another headline that caught my eye over at FP on quick glance this morning — The Price of Proxies — Don’t be fooled: The United States is already knee-deep in the Syrian quagmire, and the opportunity costs are disturbing (also bylined as “How Arming Syria’s Good Guys Helps the Region’s Bad Guys” on the webite’s frontpage,  which says a mouthful in itself.)

Here’s a lighter read from FP before I move on to another set of links — 7 Things Putin Loves That America Really Is Exceptional At. I’ll give you the quick list so you don’t have to click over for the rundown:

Second-rate action stars, topless women, deep sea submarines, rhythm & blues (ok there’s a youtube on this one at the link that looks mildly amusing in typical Putin-form from the screencap), biker gangs, super bowl rings, and puppies.

Next up, a local story from our mayor here in Houston from April, that I saw linked to on FP for some reason — Annise Parker’s personal story about homelessness:

It’s a little over 20 minutes long. I recommend taking the time to watch it.

Speaking of homelessness, let me turn briefly to the latest update from CNN on a natural disaster displacing Americans right now…

Flood-weary Colorado awaits more rain; 172 people missing

My heart goes out to Colorado, including anyone here reading who is from the area or with loved ones affected.

Here’s my feminist link for you this week, via New York mag: 39 Things We’ll Miss About Patriarchy, Which Is Dead. Don’t let the title fool you. Go read now.

My two–who knew all we had to do was “just say no” to patriarchy and poof, all the misogynists would listen just like that.

I’d like to close with a couple of Hillary links via the ever-awesome Still4Hill of course:

Hillary Clinton’s Remarks at the White House on Syria and the Security Dangers of Wildlife Trafficking — Click over for pics of Hillary and Chelsea from Monday. Here’s my fav:

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Hillary Clinton Graces 600th Anniversary of University of St. Andrews –Cool pics of Hillary in scholarly regalia from Friday. Teaser:

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Alright, just going to go ahead and post this now so as to get the show on the road. Fill up the comments, Sky Dancers! And, have a great weekend.


Saturday: Of War, Fracking, and Fukushima

1236007_440158062767453_634535704_nHello newsjunkies.

Have you read Rosa Brooks’ “Obama Can’t Win in Foreign Policy magazine yet? If not, go read it now. Teaser:

Oddly, many in the media seem convinced that Obama’s pledge to seek congressional authorization for a Syria intervention was a clever gamble. It wasn’t. It was, to paraphrase Obama, a dumb gamble. That’s because there is now no good outcome for Obama, only a range of painfully ironic outcomes.

It’s an excellent read. Please take a moment to look it over.

Something interesting… note the title of the latest from FoPo’s David Rothkopf, “How the Loneliest Job in the World Got Even Lonelier,” (bylined “With his missteps on Syria, Obama has alienated just about everyone — friends and frenemies alike.”) Sounds a lot like Glen Ford’s bottom line over at Black Agenda Report… “Obama: As Warlike as Bush, and Just as Lonely.”

Cue The Onion:

Nation Throws Giant Temper Tantrum Upon Learning Syria Is Complex, Nuanced Issue

I have to tell you that what’s not helping sort any of this complexity or nuance is Kerry and Obama suddenly embracing action that will have the side effect of empowering the rebels…I can only take wild guesses as to what changed in the Administration’s assessment of the situation, because Assad gassing his own people doesn’t mean the rebels are suddenly the lesser evil. As the Onion points out in the news skit above, the Syria situation doesn’t fit neatly into a narrative of “the good guys” and “the bad guys.”

Along those lines, here is the first installment of Reader Supported News’ three part series on Syria: Where Revolution Goes Wrong.

A couple excerpts…

Independent journalist Anna Therese Day has spent considerable time in Syria, and last year authored a Shorty Award-nominated report for VICE Magazine called Gunrunning with the Free Syrian Army. In the report, Day accompanied an FSA colonel who defected from Assad’s army when the mass killings began. The colonel had two main complaints: that Western governments had abandoned the Syrian people in spite of mass genocide and brutal killings of protesters, and that because of the absence of help from Western governments, the Syrian people have had to depend on the military might of jihadists like the group Jabhat Al-Nusra. The jihadists fighting alongside the Free Syrian Army have the much different objective of establishing a theocratic Islamist government, whereas the FSA’s objectives are more along the lines of establishing a democratic and accountable secular government.

“Academic studies show empirically that civil resistance is more effective than armed resistance,” Day told me in a Skype interview from Madrid. “But it’s difficult to expect people to adhere to these ivory tower principles, even if in the long-term it will be more effective, when they are being attacked and need to defend to their families.”

And, yet…

Erica Chenoweth, an International Studies professor at the University of Denver, is author of the book “Why Civil Resistance Works.” In a February 2012 presentation at Dartmouth College, she explained how she was originally skeptical that nonviolence could accomplish major political goals, and decided to place very strict limits on which nonviolent campaigns she would credit with achieving major political goals. Chenoweth focused only on campaigns where there were more than 1,000 active participants using a majority of nonviolent tactics like boycotts, strikes, and street demonstrations over a small period of time. She also studied only nonviolent campaigns that were focused on achieving extremely difficult goals like regime change, removing an occupying military force, or seceding territory.

Chenoweth found that between 1900 and 2006, nonviolent campaigns were twice as effective as violent campaigns, and that in that time period, nonviolence became an increasingly effective strategy for achieving major victories, whereas violence became increasingly ineffective. Chenoweth’s research on violent campaigns found that their strategy was limited to simply getting as many people with as many weapons as possible and challenging the state head-on through either direct warfare or guerrilla tactics like sabotage and assassinations. Chenoweth’s research found that for a violent campaign to be effective at either ousting a regime or removing an occupying military force, it had to wage a long-term struggle against the state with the aforementioned tactics to corrode the state’s ability to assert power over the people, and it had to sustain its efforts over a long period of time. Because the state has a monopoly on violence, with more resources at its disposal, those violent campaigns had a very small rate of success.

However, Chenoweth discovered that nonviolent campaigns, with the various tactics at their disposal, were much more successful. They could attact a vast multitude of diverse people, and so were able to sustain a long campaign aimed at accomplishing specific strategic goals. Nonviolence succeeded where violence didn’t: the OTPOR movement’s ousting of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia; the Arab Spring’s ousting of Ben Ali in Tunisia. A nonviolent campaign can use leverage to remove all pillars of support for an oppressive regime or an occupying military force.

This first installment ends on a rather chilling note (well, I found it chilling at least) from the journalist mentioned above — Anna Therese Day:

Regardless of whether or not the US chooses to intervene with either humanitarian aid or airstrikes, Anna Day says that the Assad regime is likely to win out against the violent campaign to oust him. She says she’s troubled by the Obama administration’s unilateral plans for intervention, and other plans that have been discussed to arm rebels with more sophisticated weaponry.

“Assad controls most of the country and won back major key swaths in August, so this notion that he doesn’t have legitimacy anywhere simply isn’t true,” Day said. “It’s debatable if the rebels – not the cause of the Revolution, but the rag-tag leadership of the armed resistance – have any legitimacy at all, even among anti-Assad civilian elements.”

I don’t know how to pivot from that gracefully to a more uplifting story, so… how about we go even deeper in Debbie downer territory with some… ‘fracking confirmation.’

Confirmed: Fracking practices to blame for Ohio earthquakes. From the NBC News Science link:

Before January 2011, Youngstown, Ohio, which is located on the Marcellus Shale, had never experienced an earthquake, at least not since researchers began observations in 1776. However, in December 2010, the Northstar 1 injection well came online to pump wastewater from fracking projects in Pennsylvania into storage deep underground. In the year that followed, seismometers in and around Youngstown recorded 109 earthquakes, the strongest registering a magnitude-3.9 earthquake on Dec. 31, 2011. The well was shut down after the quake.

Scientists have known for decades that fracking and wastewater injection can trigger earthquakes. For instance, it appears linked with Oklahoma’s strongest recorded quake in 2011, as well as a rash of more than 180 minor tremors in Texas between Oct. 30, 2008, and May 31, 2009.

The new investigation of the Youngstown earthquakes, detailed in the July issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, reveals that their onset, end and even temporary dips in activity were apparently all tied to activity at the Northstar 1 well.

Well, gee, isn’t that swell. Say… Anyone care for the latest on Fukushima?

Via BBC: South Korea bans fisheries imports from Fukushima area

South Korea has banned all fisheries imports from eight Japanese prefectures, amid concern over leaks of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

A spokesman said the measure was due to “sharply increased” public concern about the flow of contaminated water into the sea.

The ban, an expansion of existing restrictions, takes effect on Monday.

Meanwhile via CNN, Fukushima: The long road home after 2011 disaster. From the link:

More than a year ago, the workers here wore full protection suits, today they simply wear gloves and the basic face masks you can see anywhere in Japan — a sign that the radiation level here has dropped.

Thousands of industrial-size black bags hold the contaminated soil. They are lined up in fields, waiting for their final resting place — wherever that may be. This is a reminder that the problem of what to do with radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima plant is not the only storage issue this country has to deal with.

During the day, the steady volume of traffic in this outer part of the exclusion zone belies the invisible threat that still exists. It’s a threat that two-and-a-half years later has residents wondering when, or even if, they will be able to move back home.

I’m sorry to have such a depressing roundup for you this Saturday. What can I say. It’s almost September 11th, and we’re on the precipice of another possible war. It wouldn’t be a relevant roundup if it weren’t depressing.

But, you know me. Still hoping against hope! So, here’s my feminist treat for you before I go. The latest ‘Blurred’ parody by some outstanding law students in Auckland, NZ… my favorite so far, by far:

Alright, Sky Dancers. Let’s hear it in the comments. And, have a great weekend!