Wednesday Reads: 2014 Going Out With A Bang

165514928Morning All

I really don’t have anything to add to the picture on the left. That is pretty much how things seem to be going lately. Each day another bomb drops, and many of us sit here wondering will it stop? Will there be a moment when some decent shred of humanity will shine through the toxic stew of torture, police brutality, racism, sexism and all the rest of it…

Here are your links for this morning, many reactions to the CIA torture reports will come as no surprise.

I guess John McCain is the one GOP dude who we would expect had some words to say on the matter: McCain on Torture: A Stain on our National Honor, Produces Misleading Info | Informed Comment

“As the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report roiled Capitol Hill Tuesday, Sen. John McCain framed the argument as one of moral clarity, all the while bumping up against his party leaders.

“I rise in support of the release, the long-delayed release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s summarized, unclassified review of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that were employed by the previous administration to extract information from captured terrorists,” the Arizona Republican said on the Senate floor. “I believe the American people have a right, indeed responsibility, to know what was done in their name, how these practices did or did not serve our interests, and how they comported with our most important values.”

McCain, who spent five-and-a-half years in a North Vietnamese prison during the Vietnam War and endured unspeakable torture, is virtually unassailable on the issue. His comments put him back in the maverick role, at least in relation to the chamber’s internal politics, that has long defined his congressional career.”

d79002a4d9795d36c23f422431ccbf3dVideo at the link.

In another link from Juan Cole’s blog: Psychologists, who Took mn. to Advise, Practice Torture, betrayed the Profession | Informed Comment

During the War on Terror, the CIA’s operations subjected hundreds of suspected terrorists to harsh interrogation techniques, which were often criticised as constituting torture. Now, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the operation has made it clearer than ever that the CIA used many forms of “enhanced interrogation” to elicit information – very harsh methods indeed that simply did not yield the intended results.

As a leaked State Department memo put it, the report “tells a story of which no American is proud”.

This is a matter of outrage for everyone, but as psychologists, we have a particular obligation to speak out. Many of the approaches the CIA used were developed by our discipline, and by individuals who will have known about the codes of conduct by which US psychologists are bound – which include beneficence and non-maleficence, and respect for rights, dignity and integrity.

It is profoundly disturbing to see that the CIA’s techniques included deprivation of basic needs (warmth, food, water), humiliation, threats and the repeated use of waterboarding.

Ironically, many of the methods adopted were based on psychologists’ previous work directed at training members of the military, intended to assist them in avoiding talking to interrogators should they be captured and tortured. This work was apparently reverse-engineered for use on terrorist suspects.

2a2130ec4f4c50723d90bf520b6784e0There is much more at that link, which is a guest post written by Laurence Alison, from the University of Liverpool.

Fox News…well, you know:

Fox Host: Forget Torture, ‘America Is Awesome’ — NYMag

After reading reports about how the CIA inadvertently killed someone during an interrogation and subjected others to repeated waterboardings, “rectal feedings,” and threats to rape and kill their family members, did you get the feeling that sometimes the United States is less than awesome? That’s exactly what the Obama administration wanted! This afternoon in the alternate reality that is Fox News, the hosts of Outnumbered explained that the report was only released to distract Americans from real problems, like the IRS scandal and Benghazi.

“The Bush administration did what the American public wanted, and that was do whatever it takes to keep us safe,” declared the particularly incensed Andrea Tantaros. “The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome,” she continued. “We’ve closed the book on [torture], and we’ve stopped doing it. And the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we’re not awesome” — mainly because they “don’t like this country” and “want us to look bad.”

Fox then returned to its regularly scheduled programming.

Alggpp0100nd Billy Boy: Bill O’Reilly: Torture Is ‘Morally Correct’ | Crooks and Liars

If you thought you heard it all from Bill O’Reilly, think again. Tonight he said that torture was a “morally acceptable” thing to do.

Meanwhile, across the pond: New Statesman | “Torture is always wrong”: David Cameron responds to the CIA report

David Cameron has responded to the alarming US report by Democrat senators on CIA interrogation activities in the wake of 9/11. Commenting on the shocking revelations about “brutal” techniques employed by the CIA on terrorism suspects, the Prime Minister said:

Let us be clear – torture is wrong, torture is always wrong.

For those of us who want to see a safer more secure world who want to see this extremism defeated, we won’t succeed if we lose our moral authority.

Now obviously after 9/11 there were things that happened that were wrong and we should be clear about the fact that they were wrong.

Clearly anticipating any questions emerging from this story that could drag Britain into the controversy, Cameron was keen to emphasise that he believes Britain has “dealt with” its position in relation torture policy. The United Kingdom appears on the list of countries that “facilitated CIA torture”.

Cameron referred to the Intelligence and Security Committee looking into questions raised by the Gibson Inquiry into the treatment of detainees post-9/11, and added that he has, “issued guidance to all of our agents and others working around the world about how they have to handle themselves”.

77374810001_693354346001_ari-origin06-arc-159-1291146682193The report itself has stunned the world following its release yesterday. It suggests America’s spies repeatedly lied to Congress and its foreign allies in an effort to cover up the scale and brutal nature of a secret global programme of torture.

Of course the UN has it’s own response: CIA torture: Calls to prosecute US officials involved in ‘brutal’ interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects – The Independent

The UN has called for the prosecution of those behind a ‘criminal conspiracy’ at the CIA that led to the ‘brutal’ torture of detainees.

Ben Emmerson, United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said those responsible for planning, sanctioning or carrying out crimes including waterboarding should not escape justice – even senior officials from George W Bush’s administration.

“It is now time to take action,” he said in a statement from Geneva. “The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy … must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.

“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.”

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth also said that the CIA’s actions were criminal “and can never be justified”.

hqdefault“The Senate report summary should forever put to rest CIA denials that it engaged in torture, which is criminal and can never be justified,” he said.

“The report shows the repeated claims that harsh measures were needed to protect Americans are utter fiction.

“Unless this important truth-telling process leads to prosecution of officials, torture will remain a ‘policy option’ for future presidents.”

Now, over at Al Jazeera, they have an article that interviews surviviors:

Survivors of CIA torture, rendition speak out | Al Jazeera America

Survivors of alleged CIA torture and rendition programs praised the release of a damning, if heavily redacted Senate account of the agency’s “brutal” and “ineffective” practices but noted it was only a first step toward accountability — and it certainly wasn’t an apology.

article-0-11CC61E1000005DC-710_634x476“Publishing this shows the other side, that human rights apply to everyone,” said Abdelhakim Balhadj, a Libyan political dissident who the U.S. rendered back to Libya in 2004, where he was allegedly tortured over a six-year period without being charged with a crime. “The U.S. denied us our human rights. We wanted the American people to recognize this.”

After years of delay, the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released a 499-page executive summary of a more than 6,000-word report, which remains classified. It detailed a litany of apparently illegal methods employed by CIA officers to extract information from detainees — death threats, beatings, sleep deprivation, forced rectal feeding and other psychological torment — much of which had long since been leaked.

Significantly, the summary noted that so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques were “brutal and far worse than the CIA represented” and they were not nearly as useful in obtaining information vital to national security as the agency had previously said.

Though ex-detainees like Belhadj welcomed those findings, he was disappointed that his name had not been mentioned specifically. In a phone call from his home in Libya, Belhadj, now a prominent politician and military leader in Libya, told of how he and his pregnant wife Fatima were picked up by U.S. authorities as they were trying to leave China, where they had been living until 2004, to seek political asylum in the U.K.

750px-Castle_Bravo_(black_and_white)As well as the ex-CIA dudes…who have there side of the story: Ex-CIA officials say torture report is one-sided, flawed | Reuters

A group of former top-ranking CIA officials disputed a U.S. Senate committee’s finding that the agency’s interrogation techniques produced no valuable intelligence, saying such work had saved thousands of lives.

Former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden, along with three ex-deputy directors, wrote in an op-ed article published on Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal that the Senate Intelligence Committee report also was wrong in saying the agency had been deceptive about its work following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The rest of the links for today’s post are in dump format, and they are not pleasant. In fact they are much of the same kind of news we have been seeing the past few weeks.

Orlando, Florida police sergeant shoots unarmed man – World Socialist Web Site

The usual story with the usual players. The men in this case were in a stolen car…that said…read the rest at the link.

 

School Counselor Threatens to Shoot Mike Brown Protestors, Blames Kid

School Counselor Threatens to Shoot Mike Brown Protestors, Blames Kid

 

“He should have to stand trial”: Rep. Keith Ellison sounds off on Eric Garner’s killing and civil rights in America – Salon.com

As the American people continue to debate about — and organize over — the lack of consequences for the police who killed Eric Garner and Michael Brown, some commentators (like yours truly) have urged national Democrats to be more directly and unapologetically supportive of their African-American supporters and the #blacklivesmatter movement in general. But while it’s much too soon to tell whether Hillary Clinton or other similarly well-known Democrats will heed the call, it’s clear that one Democratic congressman, Minnesota’s Keith Ellison, is listening. “The fact is, people have to demand [a] sense of justice: people in the streets are going to make the system more responsive,” he said recently on MSNBC.

atomic-bomb3New Statesman | Why Hollywood needs to listen to Chris Rock about its race problems

In a scathing editorial in the Hollywood Reporter, Chris Rock has confronted some issues that though obvious, are being blatantly ignored. He quite rightly points out that Hollywood is an exclusive, white industry that is terrible at giving opportunities to black and Latino people other than as the janitor. You only have to open your eyes to see this, but nobody, whether it be studio executives, producers, directors, other actors or critics, has been proactive in changing things. It’s OK to say it – Hollywood doesn’t care about black people.

In Arkansas, white town is a black mark | Al Jazeera America

Harrison, Arkansas billboard

Residents of Harrison try to fight off their reputation as the small town with the most hate groups in America

Thomas Robb lives 15 miles from downtown Harrison, Arkansas, past churches with signs speaking of God’s righteousness, a goat farm and a slew of rusted trailer homes. His home is a collection of nondescript white cottages that includes an office and a meeting place for the Christian Revival Center, where he serves as pastor. The buildings stretch across several acres — but don’t call the property a compound.

“It’s my home, not a compound,” Robb says, correcting a reporter with a smile. “The word ‘compound’ has such a negative connotation.”

Robb and his wife moved to the area 43 years ago from Tucson, Arizona: “You could see the handwriting on the wall of Arizona being a dumping ground for illegal aliens.” The stronger morals of people in Arkansas, he says, made the state a more attractive home for his Thomas Robb Ministries and the Christian Revival Center, which espouse a white-supremacist, “Christian-identity” theology. For the last 25 years, he’s also been the national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the group founded by prominent Klan leader and former Louisiana politician David Duke. In that role, Robb has attempted to advance the white-nationalist movement by portraying the Klan, in the words of one journalist, as more “gentle, upbeat and friendly” — an approach that’s sometimes frowned upon by other Klan members for being too mainstream.

Protest Against Police Violence

In Georgia, there was an execution last night: Injustice in Robert Wayne Holsey’s Case – NYTimes.com

Even by the abysmal standards of lawyering that defendants in capital trials regularly endure, Robert Wayne Holsey’s case stands out.

In 1997, Mr. Holsey was convicted and sentenced to death for killing a Georgia sheriff’s deputy named Will Robinson, who had pulled him over for robbing a convenience store. Despite evidence that Mr. Holsey was intellectually disabled — which should have barred him from execution under the United States Supreme Court’s earlier rulings — his lawyer neglected to make that argument at trial. Mr. Holsey was executed on Tuesday evening after the Supreme Court declined to stay his execution.

The evidence of Mr. Holsey’s mental deficits included an I.Q. test score of 70 when he was 15. In school, his intellectual functioning did not move past a fourth-grade level. But under Georgia law, a defendant is required to prove his intellectual disability beyond a reasonable doubt — the strictest standard in the country and one unmoored from scientific reality.

Palestinian minister dies after confrontation with Israeli soldiers | Al Jazeera America

A Palestinian minister has died after clashes with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank. The circumstances of Ziad Abu Ein’s death have yet to be officially confirmed, but sources told Al Jazeera that it occurred after he inhaled large amounts of tear gas and was struck by security forces.

Abu Ein, who was head of the Anti-Wall and Settlement Commission, died in Ramallah Hospital on Wednesday following a protest against the separation barrier near the village of Turmusayya, northeast of Ramallah.

The 55-year-old is thought to have been hit in the chest by Israeli soldiers at the demonstration, according to an Israeli journalist and a Reuters photographer who were at the scene. Other witnesses said he was headbutted and then collapsed.

Activists said they were planting olive trees by the illegal settlement of Adei Ad when the soldiers attacked them and fired large amounts of tear gas at the group.

Pictures of Abu Ein, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, knocked out and on the ground quickly circulated on social media sites.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas quickly condemned the death of Abu Ein, calling it a “barbaric act that cannot be tolerated.” He also said “all necessary steps” will be taken after an investigation into Abu Ein’s death is carried out.

More on the olive trees, and the significance here:

BBC News – Israel and the Palestinians: A conflict viewed through olives

Obama had a tough interview: Jorge Ramos Challenges President Obama On Immigration In Testy Interview – BuzzFeed News

Ugh….US Congressional Leaders Reach Accord on 2015 Spending Plan

Hey, this is a surprise: Police officer buys eggs for woman caught shoplifting to feed her family in Tarrant | AL.com

A woman caught shoplifting eggs in Tarrant Saturday didn’t leave with handcuffs and a court date. Thanks to a Tarrant police officer, she left with food for her family.

Officer William Stacy was called to the Dollar General on Pinson Valley Parkway when employees caught the woman trying to steal a dozen eggs, Tarrant Police Chief Dennis Reno said.

The woman had her young children in the car. She told Officer Stacy that she was only stealing because she was trying to feed her children.

Stacy talked with Dollar General, and they said they wouldn’t prosecute. So Stacy made an offer.

“He said, ‘If I give you these eggs, will you promise that you won’t shoplift anymore?'” Reno said. “He knew that she was telling the truth and that’s the reason he went in and bought the eggs.”

Stacy bought the eggs and gave them to her, Reno said. The woman then asked if she could give him a hug.

Sorry if I am cynical…but…

“Police officers do this all the time. Of course, these are the kind of stories that never get told,” Reno said. “Every police officer in Jefferson County has done this at one point in time.”

Reno said this is one way police deal with issues — not every incident ends with someone being hauled off to jail.

No, they don’t get hauled off to jail, they get hauled off to the morgue.

Video of hug at link. It just is…I don’t know. Maybe y’all have a better way of putting it into words than I do?

Sounds a little like staged bullshit to me.

But again, I am a cynical bitch.

I mean, when you have a Sgt with the Tarrant Police Department police stealing evidence and selling it to other cops:

Update: Former Tarrant Police Sgt. turns himself in. – ABC 33/40 – Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

 According to Tarrant Police Chief Dennis Reno, former Tarrant Police Officer, Sgt. Charles Higgins, has turned himself in to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The Tarrant Police Department is asking a suspected criminal to turn himself in. But this criminal isn’t like the others.

“He was an extraordinary officer,” Police Chief Dennis Reno said.

That’s because Charles Kevin Higgins used to be a Sgt. with the department.

“Myself and every officer here feels betrayed,” Reno said.

Reno says a while back his department noticed items missing out of the evidence room, which is what Sgt. Higgins was in charge of. Higgins was confronted and was told an investigation would be happening.

“Rather than face an investigation, Sgt. Higgins rendered his resignation at that time,” Reno said.

Further investigation would show much more missing from the evidence room than anticipated.

Nine handguns were missing. Reno says Higgins told people he needed money. He sold six of them to citizens. But four of them were sold to closer friends.

“He sold them to some of his fellow police officers here at the station,” Reno said.

The serial numbers on the guns sold to the officers matched the numbers of those missing from the evidence room. Reno believes Higgins made nearly $3,500 on the guns. Reno says the officers who bought the firearms thought they were part of Higgins’s personal collection, as Reno says Higgins is a gun collector.

Reno says he could not comment whether more items were taken from the evidence room.

Or the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office being investigated for racial discrimination: JeffCo Sheriff’s hiring, firing practices under scrutiny for racial discrimiation

A federal judge wants to know what Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale is doing to deal with racial discrimination.

During a status hearing over the county’s consent degree involving hiring and firing practices, U.S District Judge Lynwood Smith said he will now be focusing on the sheriff’s office.

The county’s hiring and firing is currently under the supervision of court appointed receiver Ronald Sims.

During Thursday’s court hearing, plaintiffs in the case said it came to their attention that Sheriff Hale does not have an affirmative action officer to oversee any racial complaints or violations of discrimination law.

Jefferson County has affirmative action officers in place but the question now is whether Sheriff Hale, who is already facing a tight budget, hire another person for the job or use the county’s personnel.

Jefferson County commissioner David Carrington says it’s a matter that has to be studied.

“It would be a little cumbersome for the county’s AA officer to get involved with the sheriff’s office. We have a lot of issues we need to deal with. If the judge says it’s our responsibility we will accept it and go forward,” Carrington said.

Judge Smith told Sheriff Hale’s attorney in court to get more engaged and to research what the sheriff has done to deal with racial discrimination going back to 1982, when the original consent decree was signed by Hale’s predecessor Mel Bailey.

Federal judge turns focus to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in 32-year-old discrimination order | AL.com

A federal judge, who last year installed a manager to oversee all Jefferson County personnel decisions to prevent discrimination against blacks and women, has now turned his focus onto the county sheriff’s office.

At a hearing this morning U.S. District Court Judge Lynwood Smith asked an attorney for Sheriff Mike Hale to determine what that office has done – or hasn’t – to ensure that it doesn’t discriminate against blacks or women in hiring, firing and promotions since a consent decree was signed by county officials 32 years ago.

Lynwood Smith.jpgFederal Judge Lynwood Smith. (Huntsville Times file)

Smith said he believes “it is past time to focus on the sheriff…  He (the sheriff) is under the same duties and obligations as the county commission.”

The 1982 consent decree was issued as part of lawsuits that contended the county and the City of Birmingham had discriminated against blacks and women. County officials, including former Sheriff Mel Bailey, signed the decree. Birmingham and the Jefferson County Personnel Board were ultimately released from their decrees.

About seven years ago plaintiffs in the lawsuits asked the judge to find the county in contempt for not abiding by the terms of its consent decree. After a lengthy process the judge last year found the county was in contempt and put in place a receiver, Ron Sims, over the county’s human resources department.

At today’s status conference Smith holds once a month to check on the county’s compliance, an attorney for the plaintiff’s, Rowan Wilson, told the judge about an issue that came up.

Hmmmm…go on…

Wilson said that Sims two months ago had appointed an affirmative action officer to review personnel complaints. Recently sheriff’s employees had come to the new officer with issues, which brought up the question as to whether the sheriff had an affirmative action officer, he said.

As part of the consent decree the county was to have an affirmative action officer, but didn’t, Wilson said. The issue came up during testimony in the contempt hearings.

Take a look at the comments….interesting to say the least.

This sounds a lot like Banjoville.

But seriously…to go back to the quote from Reno, the chief at Tarrant PD:

“Police officers do this all the time. Of course, these are the kind of stories that never get told,” Reno said. “Every police officer in Jefferson County has done this at one point in time.”

Oh yeah, I bet they do that act of kindness all the time….

That is it for me, y’all have a good day. So? What are you reading about?


Sunday Reads: Let them drink tap water…

Good Morning

76c7d10c3f207359ba1ad1a52277554f

I used to think of Twitter as a stream of consciousness thing, where

you type out a thought that comes to you…abstract, free-form and unassuming.

It just floated out there in the mass twit universe.

Facebook was more like a personal thought because it was “friends” or “family” that would see the shit you typed out into your little space on the wall.

More like a statement made out-loud…right?

I make statements out-loud at home all the time. Hell, don’t we all. I mean, sometimes I do it when no one is listening. (And lots of those times they include the words asshole and shithead preceded of course by the key adverb “fucking”) But when someone is listening in my home…they usually know what my thought process is and can complete the fragment of a statement I make even if I don’t state my case in a full and intelligent manner.

I realized the other day that I do the same exact thing here…in the comments. And it is funny because the same people who pick up on my cues here…are the ones who pick up on the shit I type out on my Facebook wall.

The was a little item in the news over the weekend, Rep. Steve King was talking out of his ass again…and of course it pissed me off. I mentioned it here and on my Facebook page. I think I called King a fucking asshole and posted a link to his comment:

Susan Wood, a George Washington University professor and former FDA official, told the all-male judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution that HR7 – which would make the Hyde Amendment permanentban federal subsidies for private insurance plans that cover abortion and would permanently block the District of Columbia from spending local tax money on abortion services – could “virtually eliminate abortion coverage from the private insurance market” and would especially hurt low-income women, threatening to push them “deeper into poverty.”

“While it may not seem like a big expense to a Member of Congress, in these tough financial times, for many people, abortion care costs more than their monthly rent, putting it out of reach for their family’s pocketbook,” Wood said.

When it came time to ask questions, Rep. King mocked Wood’s comparison of the cost of abortion to a month’s rent, wondering, “I wonder how many abortions a month does she need to keep up with the monthly rent check.”

Antikamnia calendar 1897 ebayMy mind was working on his comical statement, considering his PLUBic stance on providing that woman and her fetus with funding for food stamps and other “welfare” assistance once that fetus pops out of the incubation hole and becomes a living breathing tax burden.

That is what I was thinking..but I didn’t write it all down. Do you all do that? I don’t know. Is it cause I am lazy. Or cause I just tend to write stuff here like you are my family and this is my way of talking to you all? It is a ridiculous observation…but there it is.

BTW, images are from The Antikamnia Chemical Company via BibliOdyssey:

After beginning his working life as a printer’s apprentice, Louis Crucius (or Crusius) completed the necessary requirements to graduate as a pharmacist in 1882 and a doctor in 1890 in St Louis, Missouri. While he was studying he worked in a pharmacy and made humorous sketches that were placed in the window of the store. A collection of these drawings was published in 1893 (‘Funny Bones’). He lectured in histology and anatomy and eventually came to be a Professor of Anatomy but died in 1898 from kidney tumours.

3f74509875adde36355821a9b9bf19a5Although he gave most of his drawings away, Crucius sold a number of them to the Antikamnia (‘opposed to pain’) Chemical Company which had been established in St Louis in 1890. They produced antikamnia medicines containing the coal tar derivative, acetanilid, an anti-fever drug with pain relieving properties somewhat related to paracetamol, but which would be later shown to be a toxic compound not to mention addictive. Antikamnia was mixed with substances like codeine and quinine to enhance the pain relieving effects.

30 of the Crucius ‘dance of death’-inspired drawings were used to make 5 years worth of Antikamnia Chemical Company calendars – between 1897 and 1901. They had a fairly aggressive marketing campaign in which the calendars (aimed at the medical fraternity) as well as postcards and sample packs were distributed to doctors in the United States and overseas.

Now for the morning’s reads, starting with a series of links on the chemical spill in West Virginia.

Antikamnia calendar 1900 jan.feb francaisThe Wait Continues for Safe Tap Water in West Virginia – NYTimes.com

As hundreds of thousands of residents faced a third day without water because of a chemical spill in a local river, a water company executive said on Saturday that it could be days before it was safe for them to drink tap water again.

Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water, said that officials had set up four labs to test the amount of chemical in the water, but that it might take days to provide enough samples to determine whether the water was safe.

A state official also said that thousands of gallons more of the chemical had leaked into the river than was initially believed.

b3207cde6c4bbfd534d17a42ef2990d6Not only that…but it turns out the company was not the one who notified authorities of the leak. It was the EPA. The amount of chemicals spilled was under-reported at first, and it sounds like the company Freedom Industries…fucking ironic isn’t it, is starting to cooperate a little more.

About 7,500 gallons of chemical was spilled into the river, about 2,500 more than previously estimated, said Mr. Dorsey, the state environmental official.

After local officials complained of problems communicating with Freedom Industries, Mr. Dorsey said on Saturday that the company had been more cooperative. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to communicate well,” he said.

State officials said the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, used in coal processing, seeped from the ruptured storage tank on Thursday into the Elk River, just upstream from the intake pipes for the regional water company. Exposure to the chemical, which smells like licorice, can cause headaches, eye and skin irritation and difficulty breathing, according to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.

This story is only going to get more disturbing as the investigation starts to delve deeper into the spill and the companies involved. For that I turn to the local newspaper, The Charleston Gazzette. Check these articles out, they are excellent and you need to read them in full:

b90be3d5b21e135e560f746f18366d72This one details the discovery of the leak…Freedom Industries cited for Elk chemical spill  by Ken Ward-  The Charleston Gazette

When West Virginia inspectors arrived at Freedom Industries late Thursday morning, they discovered that the company had taken “no spill containment measures” to combat the chemical spill that has put drinking water supplies off-limits for hundreds of thousands of residents.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said Freedom Industries violated the West Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Act and the Water Pollution Control Act by allowing the chemical “Crude MCHM,” consisting mostly of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, to escape from its facility, just upstream from West Virginia American Water’s regional intake in the Elk River.

[…]

“It’s a bad situation,” said Mike Dorsey, chief of the DEP’s homeland security and emergency response division.

Dorsey said the tank contained about 30,000 gallons of material at the time of the leak, and that the company had pumped the rest of the material out and shipped it to another of its operations.

Dorsey has said DEP officials began an investigation after receiving odor complaints from nearby residents starting at about 8:15 a.m. The DEP and Kanawha County emergency officials traced the odors to Freedom Industries, which had not self-reported any sort of leak or accident, officials said.

48f2b6c2785da61fb771d518cfd47cd4So the company did not notify EPA…it was residents in the area that started to smell this shit who called the local DEP…and they were the ones who contacted Freedom Industries and told them they had a spill on company property. WTF? This is where you want to pay attention to the matter:

In an air-quality enforcement order, the DEP said air-quality officials who arrived at the site at 11:10 a.m. “discovered that no spill containment measures had been initiated and that an accumulating MCHM leak pool was seeping thru a dike wall adjacent to the Elk River and a downstream oil sheen was observed.”

DEP Secretary Randy Huffman said more information needs to be gathered, but that it seems possible the spill into the river might not have been as bad if Freedom Industries had acted more quickly.

“Depending on when they knew [about the leak], had they put containment measures in place the instant they knew, it’s logical to deduce that there wouldn’t have been as much product in the stream,” Huffman said.

e40bafcc09badbd0d8276c631335e864Oh yeah and you want more ridiculous ways Freedom Industries handled the situation?

Smells from the spill were reported early Thursday morning, but Freedom mostly stonewalled media inquiries — releasing only a bland news release through a public relations firm — until a 10-minute news conference Friday evening.

At the news conference, Freedom Industries President Gary Southern gave few details about the company, made several statements seemingly in conflict with what government officials have said, and was whisked away by a public relations handler with reporters still shouting questions.

Prior to the news conference, the most extensive public statement from anyone connected with the company came Friday afternoon from Kathy Stover-Kennedy, the girlfriend of Freedom Industries executive Dennis P. Farrell.

Stover-Kennedy stressed that the spill was an accident and said that Farrell has received threatening and frightening messages from people around the world.

“I’m not asking for anyone’s sympathy but a little empathy wouldn’t hurt. And just so you know, the boys at the plant made and drank coffee this morning! I showered and brushed my teeth this morning and I am just fine!” Stover-Kennedy wrote on her personal Facebook page.

5dacfaf261a33961e3624575c89a56cdYeah…Let them drink tap water!!!!!

“There has been criticism from many about how Freedom Industries is handling this,” she continued. “Denny is not a spokesperson and has no desire to be. His expertise was much needed elsewhere. If he had taken the time to talk to the numerous media networks, giving statements, he would not have been able to react to the situation and perform his job accordingly. It wasn’t his decision to hire a spokesperson and it isn’t his job to be one.”

Well, if you look at these links I am giving you here, it seems Denny did not do much…in the way of working his expertise. The Charleston Gazette is examining this leak, and the company, Freedom Industries, rather well…I wish there were reporters like these out there doing the same in other towns where industrial environmental disasters have devastated more than the water supply. (But then perhaps there is a reason for the silence too…)  (And really, I could go further and add political governmental disasters as well but that would get me off on another tangent.)

Anyway, take a look at this…regarding the leak and what actions took place after it was discovered…and prior to? Why wasn’t there a plan?  Key players knew of potential for Elk River spill By Ken Ward Jr. – The Charleston Gazette

7fab6c1c0717cc9b7b640f1ec3c9abeaA few specific points:

Freedom Industries filed its “Tier 2″ form under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. State emergency response officials got a copy. So did emergency planners and responders from Kanawha County.

Under the law, government officials are supposed to use chemical inventory information on Tier 2 forms, like Freedom Industries’, to prepare for potential accidents.

Armed with the forms, they know what facilities could explode, where large quantities of dangerous substances are stockpiled, and what industries could pose threats to things such as drinking water supplies. They can plan how to evacuate residents, fight fires or contain toxic leaks.

Sounds like that diagram from the movie Office Space, “Planning to Plan”

Those same agencies and public officials, though, have said they know little about the chemical involved. They’re all acting a bit surprised that this mystery substance was being stockpiled so close to a crucial water intake, and shocked that something like this could have happened.Water company officials are equally puzzled. For example, West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre told reporters on Friday that his company didn’t know much about the chemical’s possible dangers, wasn’t aware of an effective treatment process, and wasn’t even sure exactly how much 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol is too much.

“We’re still trying to work through the [material safety data sheet] to try to understand the risk assessment of this product,” McIntyre said during a Friday-morning news conference. “We don’t know that the water is not safe. But I can’t say that it is safe.”

8f42e52c3854bfd3029ca566071b45a3It only gets better. /snark

McIntyre said his company hadn’t at that point had any contact directly with Freedom Industries, and he wasn’t able to identify any previous efforts by the two firms to work together on emergency response planning.

“I can’t answer that question,” McIntyre said when asked about such planning. “I don’t have that information.”

Fred Millar, a longtime chemical industry watchdog in Washington, D.C., said the lack of better planning was an example of how the landmark emergency response law hasn’t been properly enforced around the country.

“Obviously, the whole idea of the chemical inventory reports is to properly inform local emergency officials about the sorts of materials they might have to deal with,” Millar said Friday. “It’s just head-in-the-sand to be ignoring this type of threat.”

No shit.

7611aeb45bd1056859790bac0e8ec809But this next article is one that starts to peel at the toxic layer of protections “corporations” can muster when it comes to being people…Freedom Industries execs are longtime colleagues- by Dave Gutman   The Charleston Gazette

Freedom Industries, the company whose chemical spill is responsible for the contamination of much of the Kanawha Valley’s water, has existed in its current form for less than two weeks.

On the last day of 2013, Freedom Industries, which distributes chemicals used in coal mining, merged with three other companies: Etowah River Terminal, Poca Blending and Crete Technologies, a Delaware company.

Poca Blending, in Nitro, and Etowah River Terminal, in Charleston, now comprise the two branches of Freedom Industries.

The company’s website says the Charleston branch, which spilled the chemical, “can process large volumes of chemical rapidly, and cost effectively.”

They can leak the shit rapidly too.040b20741beeaa72604faa1e72bb5f52

And what exactly is ‘Crude MCHM’? Few know  – by Ken Ward Jr – The Charleston Gazette

That should really get you all up to speed on the spill in West Virginia. The rest of the links will be quick, in dump format after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Reads: Anti-Vaccine Hysteria brought to you by Jenny McCarthy, Pretty Illustrations by Hedvig Collin, and Medieval Dwarf Characterizations by Your Preconceived Ideas

BIBIGood Morning

Oh, I cannot wait to get to the link on Medieval Dwarfs…but until that time comes, here are some stories for you on this fucking* cold ass Sunday Morning!

(*Just FYI, we passed freaking cold ass on Friday night.)

Today’s post will feature artwork by illustrator Hedvig Collin. When I look at her work, I think of Jessie Wilcox…and other women artist/illustrators at the time.

Hedvig Collin was educated at the Drawing and Industrial Art School for Women in preparation for the Royal Academy School for Women , where she studied in 1903 – 1907 . She continued her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts decoration school in 1 909 – 1910 and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris . In 1915 she studied freskoteknik on Kunstgewerbeschule in Berlin . She had from 1904 repeated studies in France , she performed in the 1920s and 1930s, traveling to Italy , Greece , Poland , Germany , Czechoslovakia and England . In the period 1922 – 1925 and again during the second World War she was in the United States .

2377102Hedvig Collin painted most portraits and landscapes , but was also an illustrator of children’s books; 1 916 – 1922 she published several illustrated children’s song books, for example. Our Children’s Songs (1916), and the Children’s Picture Book (1922).

While looking for information about Collins, I could not find anything on an “English” website, so the only sources are in Dutch or German. This one here has lots of postcard images, which many of the images in the post are from: Google Translate-Hedvig Collin 1880-1964 by Per Sorensen

Parents: Photographer Alfred Collin and Ottilia f Bloch.

Hedvig Collin was unmarried.

She was a painter, illustrator, journalist and author.

Hedvig Collin was educated at drawing and industrial arts school for women and later graduated from the Academy of Arts, where she studied from 1903 to 1909. Later she took extra education in Paris.

Hedvig Collin traveled extensively throughout Europe and the U.S., and she drew a large number of illustrations – both Danish and foreign publications. However, it was illustrations for children’s books, which became her biggest mark – no one has she been able to put themselves in the children’s place and make illustrations for children. From 1916-1922, she published each year, along with colleagues, the very well known, illustrated children’s song books. She has also made ​​many children portraits.

Her postcard production also bear the imprint of children and fairy tales, and you can clearly see the French inspiration in her work. See for example the “Lady with the Little Dog,” which is very similar to Gerda Wegner line.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pictures…let’s get this show started!

Jeg_en_gaard_mig_bygge_vilSeems like Fukushima is well on its way to becoming another something more than a metaphor for the phrase “Fucked up.” When things are Fukushima’d up…it is beyond anything FUBAR could ever comprehend.  ‘Duct tape, wire nets’ were used to mend Fukushima water tanks – worker — RT News

The 48 year old Japanese man said that workers were sent to various places in Fukushima, including an area called H3 with high radiation levels.

In one of those cases in October 2012, Uechi was given a task to cover five or six storage tanks without lids in the “E” area close to H3 as it was raining, the Japanese paper reported. When he climbed to the top of the 10-meter-high tank Uechi found white adhesive tape covering an opening of about 30 centimeters. After using a blade to remove the tape he applied a sealing agent on the opening and fit a steel lid fastening it with bolts. According to instructions he was to use four bolts, though the lid had eight bolt holes.

According to the employee, his colleagues later told him that the use of adhesive tape was a usual practice to deal with the problem of sealing in radioactive water.

91jlFH8MfhL“I couldn’t believe that such slipshod work was being done, even if it was part of stopgap measures,” Uechi told The Asahi Shimbun.

Among other makeshift cost-cutting measures was the use of second-hand materials. Uechi also said that wire nets were used instead of reinforcing bars during the placement of concrete for storage tank foundations. In addition, waterproof sheets were applied along the joints inside flange-type cylindrical tanks to save on the sealing agent used to join metal sheets of the storage tanks. Rain and snow had washed away the anti-corrosive agent applied around clamping bolts, reducing the sealing effect, Uechi added. According to the Fukushima worker, many of the tanks were later found to be leaking contaminated water.

Now, granted…that is from RT.com, and it goes without saying that there could be some bias on the reporting of a Russian nuclear disaster compared to a foreign one…but read the rest of the “stopgap” measures at the link.

Hedvig_Collin17Meanwhile: Dennis Rodman Names Team For North Korea Exhibition That Includes Former NBA All-Stars

NBA All-Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson, and Vin Baker. Craig Hodges, Doug Christie and Charles D. Smith are on the team, as well. They will play against a top North Korean Senior National team on Jan. 8, marking Kim Jong Un’s birthday.

I have no idea who these NBA stars are, but this is really a stupid move on their part.

And if we are talking stupid, I put a link to this yesterday in the comments, but it deserves front page status: New Report Says: Jenny McCarthy’s Son May Not Have Had Autism After All – Hollywood Life

After years of speaking out about her son’s autism — and against childhood immunizations — Jenny McCarthy is reversing her position.

After years of speaking publicly about her belief that MMR shots (immunization for measles, mumps, and rubella) caused her son to suffer from autism, Jenny McCarthy now faces the reality that her 7-year-old son Evan — who no longer shows any signs of autism — may likely have lived with completely different illness.

A new article in Time magazine — which Jenny was interviewed for — suggests Evan suffers from Landau-Kleffner syndrome, “a rare childhood neurological disorder that can also result in speech impairment and possible long-term neurological damage.”

Hedvig_Collin36All that shit spewed from Jenny’s lips…because of misdiagnosis? How many idiots have listened to that anti-immunization “Tits McCarthy” idiot and how many kids have paid the price?

Ugh!

I know I am jumping around today, but…check this out: Woman Attorney Launches Saudi Arabia’s First All-Lady Law Firm

Just a few months after Saudi Arabia allowed women to serve in court, the first licensed woman attorney Bayan Mahmoud Al-Zahran has just opened the first female law firm, dedicated to representing women and bringing women’s rights issues into the courts. YES.

Women have continually been neglected by the court system for a number of reasons, including simply not being taken seriously by male lawyers. Women’s issues concerning conflicts like inheritance, domestic violence, marriage, and you know, that whole driving thing are often simply dismissed. Also, while more women are joining the workforce, the country has yet to catch up in terms of legal support for working women.

Clearly Al-Zahran has her work cut out for her four-woman team, but as reported at Arab News, she’s ready for the challenge:

“I believe women lawyers can contribute a lot to the legal system. This law firm will make a difference in the history of court cases and female disputes in the Kingdom. I am very hopeful and thank everyone who supported me in taking this historical step.”

Hedvig_Collin27Just in time, because watch out, we know that some men in the U.S. are trying to take women backwards to a time a place very much like the one these Saudi women are working to pull themselves out of…

Did you see the latest on the men’s rights front? Men’s rights activists call for rape ‘accuse-a-thon’ to smear sex assault victims advocate | The Raw Story

A men’s rights group is encouraging its followers to falsely accuse a sexual assault victims advocate of rape in a stunt intended to undermine the veracity of all rape accusations.

Paul Elam, founder of the website A Voice For Men, hosted an online discussion Wednesday with his site’s editor-in-chief, John Hembling, and feminist critic Karen Straughn to discuss their plan to harass executive director of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton.

“I have looked at a number of cases where people have reported alien abductions were they were prodded and poked and had different orifices in their bodies explored by aliens in spaceships, and a common theme among these is that it turns out, in most of these cases, it was Karen Smith,” Elam said. “It wasn’t aliens.”

The men’s rights movement has been angry at Smith since at least this summer, when she helped promote the “Don’t Be That Guy” rape prevention campaign that inspired imitators in other cities and a counter campaign blaming women for their own sexual assaults.

Men’s rights activists also conspired to shut down a website that allowed the anonymous reporting of sexual assaults by flooding the system with false complaints.

Innit wonderful?

Assholes.

Hedvig_Collin4How about this, all this news about Colorado, and the amount of money the state will get from Marijuana sales tax…What about Vegas, ‘marriage capital of the world,’ left at the altar on gay weddings | Al Jazeera America

Because of a state constitutional ban, Nevada’s wedding industry loses untold millions while other states make it legal.

Here is two stories on commercial flying…

Customs officials explain why they destroyed musician’s prized flutes | The Raw Story

Yeah, they mention a plant pathogen. I don’t know…

Hedvig_Collin22CEO predictions for the next 100 years of flying – Yahoo Finance

Did you know that commercial flights began in my hometown of Tampa Florida?

Millions of people step aboard airplanes each day, complaining about the lack of legroom and overhead space but almost taking for granted that they can travel thousands of miles in just a few hours.

Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of the first commercial flight: a 23-minute hop across Florida’s Tampa Bay. The St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line was subsidized by St. Petersburg officials who wanted more winter tourists in their city. The alternative: an 11-hour train ride from Tampa.

Pilot Tony Jannus had room for just one passenger, who sat next to him in the open cockpit. Three months later — when tourism season ended — so did the subsidy. The airline had carried 1,204 passengers but would never fly again.

Remember that Nazi salute I mentioned last week? Here is an update:  Concern Over an Increasingly Seen Gesture Grows in France – NYTimes.com

The rest of today’s links are fun stuff…or “special interest.”

There is a special coming up on PBS: ‘The Poisoner’s Handbook’ details birth of forensic science in US | Culture | McClatchy DC

Hedvig_Collin31I love the title of this Medieval guidebook: Advice Concerning Pregnancy and Health in Late Medieval Europe: Peasant Women’s Wisdom in The Distaff Gospels

This paper explores an area which has proven difficult for scholars to penetrate: women’s popular wisdom concerning medical matters in the later medieval period. Contextualized within an examination of medieval medical texts both by and about women, our discussion focuses on a later 15th-century French work, The Distaff Gospels. This text, published recently in English for the first time since 1510, consists of more than 200 pieces of advice or “gospels,” ostensibly conveyed to one another by a group of women who met together during the long winter evenings to spin. A significant portion of the advice might be considered “medical” in nature; it is grouped into two broad categories: pregnancy and health. We conclude that although our text is male mediated, it provides a reliable and valuable guide to peasant women’s medical lore during this period.

Another medieval paper for you: Anorexia and the Holiness of Saint Catherine of Siena

In the medieval period, the control, renunciation, and torture of the body were understood not so much as a rejection of the physical, but as a way of achieving the divine. Gradually, the manifestations of this renunciation of the body came to apply peculiarly to women, for whom this state may be defined as “holy anorexia,” identified by the following features.

0100151The Female Body as an Expression of Sexuality. The body of the woman was seen as an expression of sexuality, curvaceous with prominent breasts, and was thought to be the product of the woman herself, whereas the male body was formed by God. This supposition was confirmed by the extremely changeable nature of the female body, particularly in terms of control. Thus, the female easily slipped into a trance, into levitation, into catatonic states, leading rapidly to asceticism or anorexia. She displayed spontaneous lactation and bleeding, manifestations that sometimes were accompanied by stigmata. Indeed, at least fifteen medieval saints bled at the moment they received the Eucharist. In contrast, of saints in other periods of history, only Padre Pio and San Francesco displayed stigmata that were preserved on their bodies after death. If we are to consider specifically anorexia as a characteristic of sanctity, we must examine the periods of 1200 and the end of 1500 when Theresa of Avila (a Spanish saint who joined with a mystic force and spirit to reform Catholicism, resulting in the reinvigoration of all religious orders) began frequently to use twigs of olives to induce vomiting and completely empty her stomach. In this way she was able to truly take into herself the Host, which became her unique source of sustenance. From an investigation of the conduct of 170 Italian medieval saints by Rudolph Bell, fully one half of them exhibited symptoms of anorexia.

More at the link…lots more.

The next medieval link has a special place in my heart…The Hole: Problems in Medieval Dwarfology

Hedvig_Collin21When trying to understand Old Norse dwarfs, one problem is knowing too much. Almost everyone comes to the old texts with some preconceived idea of dwarfs, if not from The Lord of the Rings, then from romances, folktales and modern novels, all presenting their own consistent image of dwarfs. However, although later representations of dwarfs may have some relevance to medieval dwarfs, in this study I will try to limit myself to what can be discerned from medieval sources. That is not really possible: I, like everyone else, have known since childhood what a dwarf is. And yet I think the attempt may have some merit, in spite of being bound to fail in the most rigorous sense.

What I will attempt here is to pay close attention to the nature of the sources and what they reveal, or, as if often the case, do not reveal. Mythological scholarship is characterized by inclusiveness, a tendency to collect information en masse, sometimes with little discussion of the nature of the sources. When it comes to Old Norse dwarfs, it might be helpful to distinguish between three types of sources, in which their nature and function may take various forms. While there is perhaps not a case to be made for dramatically contrasting views in the Middle Ages, it is unwise to assume that all medieval sources agree on the nature, character and function of dwarfs.

You have to sign up on the site to download that article, or look for it here:  HoleArvMedDwa.

Hedvig_Collin39This one is for Dak: Skeletons ‘Embracing’ In Death May Represent Gruesome Ancient Siberian Custom (PHOTO)

Bill Nye is going to kick some Creationist ass: Bill Nye to visit Creation Museum for evolution debate | AccessNorthGa

A new exhibit in Brookyn: Susan Sontag was right: War photography can anesthetize – Salon.com

And lastly, one hot mama: The Tina Turner Blog On Twitter Is Pretty Much Everything

There are few things we love as much as Tina Turner, so you can imagine how ecstatic we were when we came across the Tina Turner Blog on Twitter. The account tweets up-to-the-minute news, videos and most importantly, awesome throwback photos of the singer. And we have to say, this lady has serious style.

https://twitter.com/tinaturnerblog/status/419477868675358720

Well, if that doesn’t get you…what about these legs?

Fabulous!

Hedvig_Collin28Have a wonderful day and stay warm!


Sunday Reads: I Witch I may, I Witch I might…

b2d2fed97ae3cb8d4b0f640a90a6ec08Good Mourning…

Yes, it seems that Halloween is coming early this year. All around us we see tricks being played out. Some are the sort of tricks played on people who must really be dumb as dirt to fall for them.

Progressives and libertarians came together in Washington on Saturday to protest widespread government surveillance, taking a tentative step towards creating a coalition that isn’t as awkward as the pairing might appear.

Organized by the coalition Stop Watching Us, which includes dozens of groups ranging from Internet freedom advocates to Tea Party organizations, the rally attracted hundreds of people to the Capitol Reflecting Pool to protest the electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency revealed by Edward Snowden this year. The crowd included Occupy protesters, Ron Paul libertarians, and even strict constitutionalist Oathkeepers. Yet despite some recent grumbling on the left about having to work with libertarians on the issue, attendees and speakers on both sides said they were happy to unite around a common enemy.

Seriously, who the hell would want to be associated with those crazy-ass Oathkeepers? (That link goes to a page over at Southern Poverty Law Center, Oathkeepers are a hate group you know…) Actually, these are not dumb people, that would be an insult to the stupid folks that do have low IQ as an excuse to become partnered with assholes like Ron Paul. So who spoke at this thing?

Onstage, speakers ranged from progressives like former congressman Dennis Kucinich to libertarians like Johnson and Rep. Justin Amash, as well as NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake and Jessalyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, who visited Snowden in Russia two weeks ago and read a statement attributed to him for the crowd. Snowden was a central figure in absentia at the protest, with most people holding signs or wearing t-shirts emblazoned with his face.

The article says the rally was mostly “libertarian” in nature…but these are a few of the quotes you should not miss:

A recent article in Salon by progressive journalist Tom Watson had ruffled feathers by calling on liberals to boycott the really[sic] because of its libertarian elements. “I cannot support this coalition or the rally,” Watson wrote. “It is fatally compromised by the prominent leadership and participation of the Libertarian Party and other libertarian student groups; their hardcore ideology stands in direct opposition to almost everything I believe in as a social democrat.” Watson described the Stop Watching Us coalition as “fatally infected.”

Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin rejected this premise in an interview with BuzzFeed next to the main speaker’s stage .

“Left and right doesn’t mean anything anymore,” Benjamin said. Democrats and Republicans, she said, “both like the status quo. Libertarians or leftists are people who want to defend the values of this country and not have party politics and I think we’ve started coming around together on many of these issues.”

“I think that strange bedfellows around particular issues is the way that change has happened throughout history,” she said.

923f0d4eb1cba82cba3ad14e09f0b779Uh…first off, that Medea Benjamin needs to STFU. Its sounds to me like she is fatally ridiculous. I got a question for her. If left and right doesn’t mean anything anymore…How does she feel about the way the “right” values her uterus? Hmmmm…..lets see her libertarian friends get out and defend that part of this country…the 50 percent vagina part!

But wait, and hear it from an actual idiot himself, here’s another quote:

By all appearances at the Stop Watching Us rally, they did — though a bit warily. John McGloin, an Occupy protester from New York who described himself as a “sometimes” progressive, said he could accept working with libertarians to try and curtail government surveillance as long as they weren’t “people who think we should all fend for ourselves — that’s where I draw the line.”“We definitely need all the help we can get,” McGloin said.

3824f7d2bf57d3d02b94160798bb0508Hey buddy, that ain’t help, that is a hindrance!

Alright, up next: A few items on Rural America.

From the “You might be a redneck” theme of news reports, really the headline should say it all: Georgia man runs into burning home to save beer | abc13.com

COLUMBUS, GA (KTRK) — “I went back into the house like a dummy.” That’s what one man in Georgia said after he risked his life to save beer from his fridge while his house was on fire.

The flames broke out while six adults and two young children were watching TV. Everyone quickly made it outside safely.

But then Walter Serpit, who walks with a cane, rushed back into the burning building to save something near and dear to him.

“I told them to get the kids out and everything, and me myself, being an alcoholic, I was trying to get my beer out,” he said. “You feel me?”

Now, remember what I said up top about the folks who have a real excuse for partnering with those libertarian assholes? You feel me?

Walter made it out with a couple of cold ones, and the fire department made a statement that you should never run back into a burning building…period.

That story is actually sad and pathetic.

bbe24b789f085d912abe6483d2667dd2More bad news on the Obamacare front, from the New York Times: Health Care Law Fails to Lower Prices for Rural Areas

As technical failures bedevil the rollout of President Obama’s health care law, evidence is emerging that one of the program’s loftiest goals — to encourage competition among insurers in an effort to keep costs low — is falling short for many rural Americans.

While competition is intense in many populous regions, rural areas and small towns have far fewer carriers offering plans in the law’s online exchanges. Those places, many of them poor, are being asked to choose from some of the highest-priced plans in the 34 states where the federal government is running the health insurance marketplaces, a review by The New York Times has found.

Of the roughly 2,500 counties served by the federal exchanges, more than half, or 58 percent, have plans offered by just one or two insurance carriers, according to an analysis by The Times of county-level data provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. In about 530 counties, only a single insurer is participating.

The analysis suggests that the ambitions of the Affordable Care Act to increase competition have unfolded unevenly, at least in the early going, and have not addressed many of the factors that contribute to high prices. Insurance companies are reluctant to enter challenging new markets, experts say, because medical costs are high, dominant insurers are difficult to unseat, and powerful hospital systems resist efforts to lower rates.

“There’s nothing in the structure of the Affordable Care Act which really deals with that problem,” said John Holahan, a fellow at the Urban Institute, who noted that many factors determine costs in a given market. “I think that all else being equal, premiums will clearly be higher when there’s not that competition.”

And that means that for those people who live out in areas like Banjoville, they are going to be hit with higher premiums because of lack of competition.

In rural Baker County, Ga., where there is only one insurer, a 50-year-old shopping for a silver plan would pay at least $644.05 before federal subsidies. (Plans range in price and levels of coverage from bronze to platinum, with silver a middle option.) A 50-year-old in Atlanta, where there are four carriers, could pay $320.06 for a comparable plan. Federal subsidies could significantly reduce monthly premiums for people with low incomes.

Counties with one carrier are mostly concentrated in the South. Nearly all of the counties in Mississippi and Alabama, for example, are served by just one insurer, according to The Times’s analysis. Other states with scarce competition include Maine, West Virginia, North Carolina and Alaska.

That is a long article, and there is an interactive map at the link too, so take a look at it.

58548dea0a1af4177e71c9ee013059fbSince we are on the subject of healthcare, what about an article on madness…with a witchy twist: 7 Countries That Still Kill Accused Witches

You know how the long-ago witch hunts were stupid and hateful? What a relief those days are over.

Except they’re not. In many countries, people are still killed on suspicion of witchcraft. United Nations experts cautioned in 2009 that murders of women and children accused of sorcery were on the rise. Following are just a few of many examples from around the world.

1. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s religious police department has an official Anti-Witchcraft Unit that it dispatches to catch sorcerers and break their spells. In 2007, the Saudis executed an accused sorcerer. A woman awaiting the death penalty for alleged witchcraft died in prison.

Like the New England witch hunters of yore, those in Saudi Arabia use magic as a convenient excuse to silence inconvenient people. Accusations of sorcery have been leveled against foreign women working as domestics for Saudi families who charge their employers with sexual assault, according to Saudi Arabia expert Christoph Wilcke.

2. Tanzania

This east African country killed approximately 600 elderly women on charges of witchcraft just two years ago. The Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life found a strong and pervasive belief in magic among Tanzanians. It sometimes leads to reverence rather than murder. One woman who claims to be a witch charges between $20 and $120 for services including medical cures and exorcisms — in a country where the average income is under two dollars a day.

The other five countries are more disturbing in their descriptions, so you can read them at the link if you like.

59be152a9d9296ccfee540684e2ffa2aHey, since that last article was on the morbid side, let’s have another: What would you choose for your last meal? Final food choices of executed criminals revealed… and they throw up a few oddball selections

Florida has revealed the final food choices of executed criminals, throwing up a number of eccentric final meals in the process.

While many of those spending their last day alive decide to go for the final indulgence of a heaving plate of fatty, fried food and a giant bowl of ice cream, others opt for more Spartan fare – requesting homemade sandwiches or just a simple cup of coffee.

That is one you need to click and read. Wow….

I want to bring you updates on a few other stories that we have discussed on the blog the past couple of weeks, and this will be in a link dump:

Macy’s joins Barneys in NYC ‘shop-and-frisk’ scandal | Reuters

New York civil rights leaders on Saturday decried the city’s brewing “shop-and-frisk” scandal, in which major retailers Barneys and Macy’s are accused of profiling black shoppers who say they were detained by police after buying luxury items.

Tennessee judge who barred baby name ‘Messiah’ rebuked by conduct panel for religious bias | The Raw Story

A magistrate court judge in Tennessee who forced a couple to change the name of their child from Messiah to Martin has been cited for religious bias by a state ethics panel and will face a disciplinary hearing.

Lu Ann Ballew, a child support magistrate in Cocke County of eastern Tennessee, had been settling a dispute about child support and the last name of Messiah Deshawn MCCullough, the child of Jaleesa Martin, and Jawaan McCullough. Neither parent had expressed interest in changing the child’s first name.

b89adc37ebe0fb06a85ff451748ef8bfThe Psychology of Online Comments : The New Yorker

Several weeks ago, on September 24th, Popular Scienceannounced that it would banish comments from its Web site. The editors argued that Internet comments, particularly anonymous ones, undermine the integrity of science and lead to a culture of aggression and mockery that hinders substantive discourse. “Even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader’s perception of a story,” wrote the online-content director Suzanne LaBarre, citing a recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison as evidence. While it’s tempting to blame the Internet, incendiary rhetoric has long been a mainstay of public discourse. Cicero, for one, openly called Mark Antony a “public prostitute,” concluding, “but let us say no more of your profligacy and debauchery.” What, then, has changed with the advent of online comments?

Anonymity, for one thing. According to a September Pew poll, a quarter of Internet users have posted comments anonymously. As the age of a user decreases, his reluctance to link a real name with an online remark increases; forty per cent of people in the eighteen-to-twenty-nine-year-old demographic have posted anonymously. One of the most common critiques of online comments cites a disconnect between the commenter’s identity and what he is saying, a phenomenon that the psychologist John Suler memorably termed the “online disinhibition effect.” The theory is that the moment you shed your identity the usual constraints on your behavior go, too—or, to rearticulate the 1993 Peter Steiner cartoon, on the Internet, nobody knows you’re not a dog.

I’ve got a few on Fukushima alone:

8 months, 10 mishaps: A look at Fukushima errors – The Washington Times, America’s Newspaper

The Global Threat of Fukushima » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

Special Report: Help wanted in Fukushima: Low pay, high risks and gangsters | Reuters

With a Plant’s Tainted Water Still Flowing, No End to Environmental Fears – NYTimes.com

Some of those are long articles, so they will take some time.

467f8b89bac3307821e0c15b9528c1ebAnd to end this post today, a couple of stories with Boston Boomer in mind…

UK linguist reconstructs sounds of prehistoric language

What did our ancestors sound like in the 50th century B.C.? University of Kentucky linguistics lecturer Andrew M. Byrd examines ancient Indo-European languages (such as Latin, Greek, Sanskrit and Old English) and the language from which they derive, Proto-Indo-European, or PIE.

PIE is the prehistoric ancestor of hundreds of languages, including English, Spanish, Greek, Farsi, Armenian, and more. The language is typically thought to have been in use around 7,000 years ago, though some suspect it was spoken at an even earlier time.

According to some archaeologists and the majority of linguists like Byrd, the people who spoke PIE were located just to the north of the Black Sea and were likely the first to tame horses, and perhaps even to invent the wheel.

The primary focus of Byrd’s work is to understand what this language would have sounded when it was spoken millennia ago. Byrd says this all begins by looking at similarities in other languages.

“We start by gathering words, such as ‘king,’ from languages that we think are related and then find the common threads among them,” he said. “When you bring these words together, you’ll see that all of the words meaning ‘king’ or ‘ruler’ begin with something like an ‘r’ followed by a long vowel. Through examining trends in each , you can tell which parts of the word have changed over time, and working backward from that … you can peer into the past and get an idea of what PIE might have sounded like.”

I know that BB worked with language in children for her doctorate, so that article will be something cool for her to read about. This second one will be just a joke…because she is my number one when it comes to grammar…and boy do I need her help…

Test Your Grammar Know-How (Or Shame Your Friends) With This Quick Grammar Game | Geekosystem

Are you forever trolling the internet, commenting on posts with incorrect grammar? Do your friends consider you a “Grammar Nazi?” Well, you better put your money where your mouth is, and test your grammar skills using Grammatically Speaking, a quick little grammar game we found online!

Grammar

Grammatically Speaking tests all your grammar know-how, from proper punctuation, to the proper use of “that” or “which” in a sentence. Our favorite part of the test is that it shows you what percentage of users got each question wrong – for example, people are particularly terrible at “it’s” vs. “its” and when to use “me” vs. “I.”

It is fortunate that I have BB to come and fix my post when my grammar is way…way off the mark.  I tend to write like I talk, and then I never could grasp all that proper English stuff anyway.

This is all I have for you this morning. Have a wonderful day, and please leave a comment or two below…so, what are you thinking and reading about today?