Oh yeah…Wednesday Morning Reads

currier-ives-summerGood Morning

Wow, I completely forgot it was my turn up at bat. This morning’s post will be mainly links that I have saved up over the last few days. Being sick does have its advantages, you get to bypass all the horrible news stories…and only read about them if you want to catch up. Let’s just say, I didn’t want to catch up and leave it at that.

So here we go…

Sandra Day O’Connor expresses regret about court’s role in 2000 election

No kidding? What do you think brought about this reflective change of feelings from the former Justice? I wonder if it was all that press Dubya got recently from the grand opening of his Presidential Library and Museum to Idiotic Decisions. Anyway, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune,  O’Connor had this to say about Bush v. Gore:

Looking back, O’Connor said, she isn’t sure the high court should have taken the case.

“It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue,” O’Connor said during a talk with the Chicago Tribune’s Editorial Board on Friday. “Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.’ “

The case, she said, “stirred up the public” and “gave the court a less than perfect reputation.”

“Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision,” she said. “It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn’t done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day.”

Ya don’t say? Too little, too late if you ask me.

Well, from one load of shit to another load of shit. However, this load of shit was dumped by a Sandy…not a Sandra. Hurricane Sandy dumped 11 billion gallons of raw sewage into East Coast waterways

Hurricane Sandy dumped about 11bn gallons of raw and untreated sewage into waterways from Washington DC to Connecticut, the science journalism group Climate Central said on Tuesday. That’s or enough human waste to cover New York’s Central Park in 41ft of sewage, or fill 17,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, scientists told a conference call with reporters.

Damn, that is a whole lotta crap.

Hmmm, speaking of which:  Rocky Musical Trailer | Geekosystem

…draw a Venn diagram between fans of Broadway musicals and fans of the Rocky franchise, I would just draw two circles that were very far away from each other. Sylvester Stallone and Stage Entertainment USA seem to disagree with my assessment, and they’re betting there’s enough of an overlap for their new musical Rocky to be a success. Whether you think a musical version of Rocky is a great idea or a terrible one, the new trailer for the production will probably confirm your opinion. There’s not enough in the video to really indicate whether this will be a good musical version of Rocky or a bad musical version of Rocky, but it sure shows that there’s a musical version of Rocky happening.

Uhhhh…..were you even able to get through that trailer? ( I couldn’t. ) It seems to me that this production of Rocky is what Bialystock and Bloom should have produced as a sure fire flop…instead of Springtime for Hitler.

Damn that is crap.

Alright, sorry there. That is awful. Looks like Gitmo is not the only place where America is practicing torture these days.

Did you see the campaign donor “mess” in Virgina?/snark.  I like the title of this Atlantic article, it is a take on a real damn good Helen Mirren movie: The Governor, His Wife, Their Cook, and the FBI – Philip Bump – The Atlantic Wire

The FBI is now investigating whether or not Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell violated any laws when he allowed a campaign donor to pay for catering at his daughter’s wedding. That is perhaps the least weird part of the story.

The crux of the issue is whether or not McDonnell violated the law by allowing Star Scientific, a company run by Jonnie Williams, to pick up the $15,000 food and floral tab for Cailin McDonnell’s wedding in 2011. The governor explains his failure to report the spending on his finance reports by insisting that the donation was a gift to his daughter. Under Virginia law, only gifts received by officeholders need to be reported. Earlier this month, the Washington Post walked through the evidence for and against that claim. The daughter paid for other parts of the wedding, for example, like the rehearsal dinner and the honeymoon. But McDonnell’s guidance is literally written all over the agreement between the caterer and the family, which the governor signed.

Read more about the twist and turns at the Atlantic link above or here at this Washington Post link: AP sources: FBI looks into relationship between Va. governor, campaign donor – The Washington Post

All these sordid stories lately, a sleaze-ball porn king backs a sleaze-ball former governor currently running for the US senate, innocent Elvis impersonators, and ricin laced dojos of mensa wannabe martial arts instructors.  Not to mention…My Son, the Terrorist.

Then you have Congress, or as Jon Stewart calls them:

“Do-Nothing F@#ktards who couldn’t solve a problem if it was eating them alive anus first.”

Video at the link!

Wow…that is something innit?

But there have been some extraordinary news items that you may have missed.

**Post updated @8:00am below!**

Sgt John Hartley Robertson, US army veteran, ‘found living in remote Vietnam village 44 years after being shot down and presumed dead’

Handout

A US army veteran has been found living in a remote Vietnam village 44 years since his plane was shot down and presumed dead, a new documentary suggests.

Unclaimed, a documentary by Canadian filmmaker Michael Jorgenson, claims that a frail, elderly man, found in a remote south Vietnam village unable to remember the English language, his date of birth or even the names of his wife and two children, may be Sgt John Hartley Robertson – a former Green Beret shot down in 1968.

Sgt Robertson was working on a special operation over the South East Asian country of Laos when his helicopter was shot down. Despite his body never being found, he was presumed dead for nearly half a century; his name etched on Vietnam memorials and army records listing him as “killed in action”.

Despite this, Sgt Robertson’s family believed it was possible he survived the crash and claimed to have documents proving he had been held in a Vietnamese prison for some time.

Read the rest of this story from the Independent at the link, you can see a trailer for the documentary here:

Can you imagine?

Well, I guess this story was too good to be true….from the Independent:

Revealed: Man claiming to be Vietnam veteran Sgt John Hartley Robertson who went missing and was presumed dead 44 years earlier is ‘exposed as a fraud’ – Americas – World – The Independent

It is claimed that the man tacked down and ‘identified’ for a new documentary is in fact a fraudster who the US
government performed DNA tests on 20 years ago and whose story had been fully
debunked

Had it been true, it would have been one of
the most gripping war stories of all time.

But sadly it looks as if the man found living in the Vietnam jungle, who a new documentary claims is ‘long dead’ US army veteran Sgt John Hartley Robertson, is likely to be a fraud.

Meanwhile, after some back and forth…Mariela Castro to get gay rights award in Philly

The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro will be allowed to travel to Philadelphia to accept an award for her gay rights advocacy, officials said Tuesday, reversing a previous decision to reject her visa request.

Mariela Castro will attend the Equality Forum’s annual conference on civil rights for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people, according to Malcolm Lazin, the advocacy group’s executive director.

Lazin, who had blasted the State Department’s travel denial last week, said organizers are “delighted” at the change of heart.

“She is unquestionably the leader for progressive change for the LGBT community in Cuba,” Lazin said Tuesday. “Her accomplishments are nothing short of remarkable.”

[...]

Castro, a married mother of three, is the niece of retired Cuban strongman Fidel Castro. She is also the director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, part of Cuba’s public health ministry, and is the country’s most prominent gay rights activist.

Castro has instituted awareness campaigns, trained police on relations with the LGBT community and lobbied lawmakers to legalize same-sex unions. She was elected as a deputy in Cuba’s parliament in February.

On Saturday in Philadelphia, she will speak about her experiences and receive an award from the Equality Forum.

I am glad she is able to come and get this award. It is an important step no matter what anyone says.

Now check this out, Groundbreaking Surgery for Girl Born Without Windpipe

Using plastic fibers and human cells, doctors have built and implanted a windpipe in a 2 ½-year-old girl — the youngest person ever to receive a bioengineered organ.

The surgery, which took place on April 9 here at Children’s Hospital of Illinois and will be formally announced Tuesday, is only the sixth of its kind and the first to be performed in the United States. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration under rules that allow experimental procedures when otherwise the patient has little hope of survival.

[...]

Hannah was born without a windpipe, or trachea — an extremely rare condition that is eventually fatal in 99 percent of cases — and had lived since birth in a newborn intensive care unit in a Korean hospital, breathing through a tube inserted in her mouth. Because of other developmental problems, she cannot eat normally and cannot speak.

[...]

Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, a specialist in the field of regenerative medicine who developed the windpipe and led the complex nine-hour operation, said the treatment of the Korean-Canadian toddler, Hannah Warren, made him realize that this approach to building organs may work best with children, by harnessing their natural ability to grow and heal.

Isn’t that wonderful?

I think it is good to end on that happy note, and let you all take it from there.

How are things going for y’all today?


Friday Reads: Make Love not War

martin-richardGood Morning!

We certainly have created a lot of ways to destroy each other haven’t we?  We also seem to breed a lot of individuals that are capable of doing great harm without reservation.  This week has brought the carnage once again into our back yard. It is important to remember that we have brought and are bringing worse carnage and that we are not alone in our experience.

We have sophisticated drones that appear to take out as many innocents as they do bad guys.  Just yesterday in Baghdad, a suicide bomber killed 26 in a crowded cafe. Less than a month ago, 2 blasts occurred in a busy shopping district of Hyderabad, India. These twin blasts killed 14 people and injured 119.  Seventeen were injured today in Bangalore in a car bomb blast. Neither India or Boston are war zones.  Baghdad was not a war zone until we invaded it.  We left it to whatever it is today.

Then, there is the daily amount of gun violence in the country.  Let me return to Boston for this perspective.

Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said today that he hopes to cut gun crimes in half this summer during Boston’s most violent months: July and August, when the city typically sees between 37 and 48 shootings each month.

The department’s ranks were boosted as 28 members of the force were promoted and one new officer was named during a ceremony this morning.

Davis said those promotions represent the department’s efforts to fill vacancies in preparation for the summertime.

“We’re going to have a full court press on those months this year,” said Davis. “We’re gonna do a lot of preventive work leading up to those months. There’s gonna be a significant amount of attention paid to the impact players in the city. We want them to put their weapons down.”

Nationally, we experience 88 gun deaths a day.  There have been about 3,524 gun deaths in this country since the Sandy Hook Slaughter. As you carefully read that sign made by the youngest victim of the Boston Bombs above, consider this:

… a child in the U.S is about 13 times more likely to be a victim of a firearm-related homicide than children in most other industrialized nations.

Firearms were the third leading cause of injury-related deaths nationwide in 2010, following poisoning and motor vehicle accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the sake of comparison, in 2010 there were more than twice as many firearms deaths in the U.S. than terrorism-related deaths worldwide.

Then consider how completely ignorant most people are of our violent legacies to other countries. Think of mass murderers of the 20th century, and then read this.

Mr. Kissinger’s most significant historical act was executing Richard Nixon’s orders to conduct the most massive bombing campaign, largely of civilian targets, in world history. He dropped 3.7 million tons of bombs** between January 1969 and January 1973 – nearly twice the two million dropped on all of Europe and the Pacific in World War II. He secretly and illegally devastated villages throughout areas of Cambodia inhabited by a U.S. Embassy-estimated two million people; quadrupled the bombing of Laos and laid waste to the 700-year old civilization on the Plain of Jars; and struck civilian targets throughout North Vietnam – Haiphong harbor, dikes, cities, Bach Mai Hospital – which even Lyndon Johnson had avoided. His aerial slaughter helped kill, wound or make homeless an officially-estimated six million human beings**, mostly civilians who posed no threat whatsoever to U.S. national security and had committed no offense against it.

Let’s grasp Lady Lindsey’s flip comments here about drone deaths.  This is our current undertaking for “Peace in Our Time”.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a staunch supporter of the U.S. drone wars, Wednesday become the first government official to put a number on the estimated drone strike death toll.

“We’ve killed 4,700,” Graham said during a speech at a South Carolina rotary club, reported on by the local Easley Patch and flagged by Al Jazeera.

“This is the first time a US official has put a total number on it,” said Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations told Al Jazeera, but Graham’s office stated that the senator was only repeating “the figure that has been publicly reported and disseminated on cable news.” Graham’s figure aligns with estimates from groups included the U.K.-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), which has calculate that between 3,072 and 4,756 people have been killed by U.S. drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Graham’s figure did not distinguish between “combatant” and “civilian” casualties — a distinction which has, in the War on Terror, prompted debate. But the senator did reportedly say, “Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of al-Qaida.”

I’d like to know why some acts of violence attract so much attention and outrage?  Tons of folks have been out in their virtual scooby vans   warping into the witch hunt version of Encyclopedia Brown trying to finger the ‘dark skinned’ individuals that could’ve set the bombs on the Boston Marathon route.  Have any of these idiots ever looked at the gun death rate in their own town or state?  Have they ever concerned the morality of bombing wedding celebrations?  Are they still taking Henry Kissinger or Donald Rumsfeld seriously?  Have they possibly cracked a paper to find out exactly how many bombings happen on this planet and how many of them we commit? For that matter, why aren’t they looking for guys that look like Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph?  Ever been to London and tried to find a trash can?  

In London, public trash cans are hard to come by, as they’re an easy receptacle for bombs. Which makes it hard to throw things away properly! Now, the city is going to bring trash cans back, but they’re going to be big, hulking masses, totally bomb-proof and equipped with LCD screens to tell you the days news as you throw away your coffee cup.

Traveling to Europe–especially London–in the 1970s and 1980s included an introduction to basic instructions on what to do if a bomb went off and what to do to avoid being in an area that was likely subject to bombing.  There are still Basque separatists bombing Spain. We’re coming up on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday.  I was in Europe a lot in 1972 and it was like the year of the bomb over there.  But, again, there was Kissinger too.  It was the year I learned not to look or sound overly American.

Hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were forced to live in holes and caves, like animals. Many tens of thousands were burned alive by the bombs, slowly dying in agony. Others were buried alive, as they gradually suffocated to death when a 500 pound bomb exploded nearby. Most were victims of antipersonnel bombs designed primarily to maim not kill, many of the survivors carrying the metal, jagged or plastic pellets in their bodies for the rest of their lives.

Then, riddle me this.  What is the difference between setting bombs on the street filled with crowds, or a bomb in a cafe, or a drone that hits a wedding or having one Texas “Job Creator” callously killing an entire city and a lot of its inhabitants because he just doesn’t want to be bothered with work place safety regulations or say, proper placement of a dangerous plant to start out with?  I mean what exactly do you call a guy that runs a business that blows up an entire town and kills–at this point in time–35 people including 10 first responders? (That’s a link to CNN and USA Today so consider it with care.)

It really bothers me that we–as a nation–appear to have selective attention on what kind of violence gets our shock and attention and what kinds of violence we choose to ignore every day, every year, or in the case of the atrocities of Kissinger, every decade or four. We have had some horrific carnage recently. We’ve had children slaughtered in their classroom.  We’ve had folks standing on the street celebrating a holiday ending up in hospital with wounds severe enough to warrant the kinds of amputees soldiers need in Afghanistan.  This is horrific, but it does not operate in a vacuum or a world where we have done no wrong or where these kinds of events are rare.

gaza_bombing_victim

Child victim in Gaza

So, call me Debbie Downer and tell me to get my unpatriotic ass out of the country or call me insensitive. I want to see a consistent and strong level of outrage, shock, and trauma displayed for all innocent victims of unspeakable violence.  The hometowns of all of these victims should be our hometowns.

Child victim in Syria

Child victim in Syria

Here is a great question from a great writer, Juan Cole. Can the Boston Bombings increase our Sympathy for Iraq and Syria, for all such Victims?

The idea of three dead, several more critically wounded, and over a 100 injured, merely for running in a marathon (often running for charities or victims of other tragedies) is terrible to contemplate. Our hearts are broken for the victims and their family and friends, for the runners who will not run again.

There is negative energy implicit in such a violent event, and there is potential positive energy to be had from the way that we respond to it. To fight our contemporary pathologies, the tragedy has to be turned to empathy and universal compassion rather than to anger and racial profiling. Whatever sick mind dreamed up this act did not manifest the essence of any large group of people. Terrorists and supremacists represent only themselves, and always harm their own ethnic or religious group along with everyone else.

The negative energies were palpable. Fox News contributor Erik Rush tweeted, “Everybody do the National Security Ankle Grab! Let’s bring more Saudis in without screening them! C’mon!” When asked if he was already scapegoating Muslims, he replied, ““Yes, they’re evil. Let’s kill them all.” Challenged on that, he replied, “Sarcasm, idiot!” What would happen, I wonder, if someone sarcastically asked on Twitter why, whenever there is a bombing in the US, one of the suspects everyone has to consider is white people? I did, mischievously and with Mr. Rush in mind, and was told repeatedly that it wasn’t right to tar all members of a group with the brush of a few. They were so unselfconscious that they didn’t seem to realize that this was what was being done to Muslims!

Indeed, sympathy for Boston’s victims has come from around the world from places like Iraq that we’ve plastered with bombs not that long ago. Condemnation for this act came from elected officials in Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood which has been absolutely slathered with the mark of satan by the likes of our elected officials like whacko Michelle Bachmann.  This part of Cole’s essay really got to me and I was already teary eyed hearing about Jane and Martin Richard from their school’s headmaster on Last Word.

Some Syrians and Iraqis pointed out that many more people died from bombings and other violence in their countries on Monday than did Americans, and that they felt slighted because the major news networks in the West (which are actually global media) more or less ignored their carnage but gave wall to wall coverage of Boston.

Aljazeera English reported on the Iraq bombings, which killed some 46 in several cities, and were likely intended to disrupt next week’s provincial election.

Over the weekend, Syrian regime fighter jets bombed Syrian cities, killing two dozen people, including non-combatants:

What happened in Boston is undeniably important and newsworthy. But so is what happened in Iraq and Syria. It is not the American people’s fault that they have a capitalist news model, where news is often carried on television to sell advertising. The corporations have decided that for the most part, Iraq and Syria aren’t what will attract Nielsen viewers and therefore advertising dollars. Given the global dominance by US news corporations, this decision has an impact on coverage in much of the world.

Here is a video by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) on the dilemma of the over one million displaced Syrians, half of them children:

So I’d like to turn the complaint on its head. Having experienced the shock and grief of the Boston bombings, cannot we in the US empathize more with Iraqi victims and Syrian victims? Compassion for all is the only way to turn such tragedies toward positive energy.

Perhaps some Americans, in this moment of distress, will be willing to be also distressed over the dreadful conditions in which Syrian refugees are living, and will be willing to go to the aid of Oxfam’s Syria appeal. Some of those Syrians living in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey were also hit by shrapnel or lost limbs. Perhaps some of us will donate to them in the name of our own Boston Marathon victims of senseless violence.

Terrorism has no nation or religion. But likewise its victims are human beings, precious human beings, who must be the objects of compassion for us all.

It is absolutely true that the shortcomings of our press this week were on parade this week.  They basically spent hour-after-hour in what seemed like a glorified witch hunt.  But there is a bigger injustice and short coming.  Other people around the world–suffering and dying–deserve to have their stories told also.  Every innocent victim of violence deserves justice and recognition.   This is true of those 88 who die every day in this country from guns.  It is true of all those killed by state violence be it ours or Bashar al-Assad or the crazy jerks that set of bombs on streets all over the world or fire military style weapons in our schools and movie theaters.  All of this should cause the press to do its job and it should cause our hearts to grieve equally. Why obsess minute by minute on one act when there is a world full of them to choose from? Why not give all of the victims of violence their due?

So, what is on your reading and blogging list today?


It’s been a bit of a long day here …

yawn2It seems JJ’s having some issues with word press so I thought I’d just provide a few links to discuss since I really have a good case of blurry brain today.  Something intense and wonky is beyond me this evening.

I don’t know if any of you watch Richard Engle on NBC.  He’s one of the better foreign correspondents around.  He’s missing in Syria right now.  He hasn’t been in touch with NBC since Thursday. Syria’s a serious war zone right now with a mad dictator in charge of some fairly scary weapons so this is concerning.

NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel has gone missing in Syria, according to Turkish news reports. The reports also say that Aziz Akyavaş, a Turkish journalist working with Engel, is unaccounted for. NBC News has been successfully keeping Engel’s status subject to a news blackout—one to which Gawker agreed until now—for at least the past 24 hours.

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet is reporting that Engel and Akyavaş were last known to be in Syria and haven’t been in contact with NBC News since Thursday morning. The news has been reported widely in the Turkish press over the past 24 hours, including by Turkish news channel NTV, which presents itself as an international partner of MSNBC. It’s also been widely distributed on Twitter.

A lot of the worst nuts are keeping their mouths shut about the Sandy Hook massacre.  However, there’s alway Dr. Dobson to bring on the theocratic fascism.

James Dobson dedicated his radio program this morning to discussing Friday’s tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut, which he attributed to the fact that God has “allowed judgment to fall upon us” because the nation has turned its back on him by accepting things like abortion and gay marriage:

Our country really does seem in complete disarray. I’m not talking politically, I’m not talking about the result of the November sixth election;  I am saying that something has gone wrong in America and that we have turned our back on God.

I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn’t exist, or he’s irrelevant to me and we have killed fifty-four million babies and the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete redefinition.  Believe me, that is going to have consequences too. 

And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the Scripture and on God Almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us.  I think that’s what’s going on.

I’ve really thought a lot of the gun nuts represent an insurrectionist attitude and that many of them are still what I would chararterize as neoconfederates or confederacy hold outs.  Larry Pratt proved that royally on HardBall today.  Frankly, I hope the FBI keeps a really good eye or twenty on him.

Pratt believes gun ownership is necessary to scare office holders and to remind them that we can take them out.  I have no idea what to say to a man that is so obsessed with stolen elections that he suggests assassination as a way to correct things.

During the interview on Hardball, Pratt argued that guns are necessary to “control the government.” When Matthews asked for an example, Pratt pointed to 1946, in Athens, Tenn., when townsmen took up arms against corrupt government officials.

David Chipman, a former special agent at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who now works with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, told Matthews that Pratt’s argument was bogus.

“Law enforcement is here as a force of good and we’re the good guys, and that’s what we saw in Newtown. When we get rhetoric like I’m hearing right now, I think this is extremely fringe, I believe most Americans believe otherwise.”

Pratt scoffed at Chipman as a tool of the government.  I really think that people like Pratt–read Glenn Beck, Michelle Bachmann, Allen West, etc.–need to be outed for the insane extremists they are.

Even worse is the suggestion by Megan McCardle which has got to be the dumbest idea on the planet.  This is written by Jonathan Chait at The Nation.

In what can only be seen as a malicious plot by Newsweek’s editors [Update: this is a long blog post, not a magazine piece] to ensure Megan McArdle’s reputation does not outlive Newsweek, the Daily Beast has published a 4,000 word essay by its new hire on how to stop massacres like last Friday’s. McArdle begins her essay with a prescient harbinger (“There just aren’t good words to talk about Newtown.”) but recovers to churn out a fairly standard libertarian argument about why various government remedies won’t work. And it’s true, to some extent, that various regulatory solutions all have complications.

The problem comes at the end when, having dismissed the standard liberal regulatory measures as unworkable, she has to propose her own solution. This is what McArdle comes up with:

I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. 

Are you kidding me? You think gun control is impractical, so your plan is to turn the entire national population, including young children, into a standby suicide squad? Through private initiative, of course. It’s way more feasible than gun control!

Yes, if only those first graders had learned to tackle a shooter with 2 semiautomatic weapons in hand and a chicken-fried brain.  What a morooonnnnnn!!!!

T.@TPPratt

@AngryBlackLady The larger children can throw smaller children at shooter. #MeganMcArdleDefenseTips

There is one major headline today worth mentioning.  That is the death of Hawaiian former Senator and World War 2 Hero Daniel Inouye.

Democrat Daniel Inouye, the U.S. Senate’s most senior member and a Medal of Honor recipient for his bravery during World War II, has died. He was 88.

He died of respiratory complications and had been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center since earlier this month. His office said his last word was “Aloha,” the traditional Hawaiian word for “hello” and “goodbye.”

President Obama praised Inouye, saying the nation has “lost a true American hero.”

“In Washington, he worked to strengthen our military, forge bipartisan consensus, and hold those of us in government accountable to the people we were elected to serve,” Obama said in a statement. “But it was his incredible bravery during World War II — including one heroic effort that cost him his arm but earned him the Medal of Honor — that made Danny not just a colleague and a mentor, but someone revered by all of us lucky enough to know him.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced the news of Inouye’s death on the Senate floor, sparking a round of tributes for the man Reid called “a giant of the Senate.” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hailed Inouye’s service and his reserve as a mark of “men who lead by example and expect nothing in return.”

Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes appear to part way on gun fetishes.

While Ailes’s network said it wasn’t the right time to talk about legislation, Murdoch had no hesitation. Within hours of the attack, he took to Twitter to call for an automatic-weapons ban. “Terrible news today. When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons? As in Oz after similar tragedy,” he wrote, referring to Australia’s move to ban assault weapons in 1996 after a man used two semiautomatic rifles to kill 35 people and wound 21. That massacre came six weeks after the horrific mass school shooting in Dunblane, Scotland, in which sixteen children and one adult were murdered. (Despite Murdoch’s plea, automatic weapons are already illegal in the United States; Adam Lanza used semiautomatics.)

As a global media mogul, Murdoch’s newspapers and television networks have the power to shape public opinion. Already there are signs that parts of Murdoch’s empire are adopting the boss’s position. Today’s New York Post cover, fronting a photo of Obama, declared, “ENOUGH!” In London, where gun culture is decidedly outre, the cover of the Sun screamed, “END THE LUNACY.” Murdoch “is obviously very affected by what’s gone on,” News Corp. executive vice-president Joel Klein told me. “I think most rational people would think there’s no place for assault weapons. I don’t think it’s complicated.” He said that Murdoch will continue to advocate for gun-control policies.

Have you found anything worth sharing?

Oh, here’s a musical interlude to read by:


Evening News Round-up: Informants, Conspiracies, and 500 Rumbles

Good Evening!

Yesterday, I started to read Kurt Eichenwald’s latest book, 500 Days Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars. I got up to page 137 before I called it a night and went to bed. It is heartbreaking to read about all the lost opportunities to intervene and possibly stop the attack, but the Bush administration just did not pay attention, or blatantly and cockishly refused to even hear the warnings from CSC…Counterterrorist Center.

Since I am only in the first part of the book, I will link to a review from the New York Times Book Review: ‘500 Days,’ by Kurt Eichenwald

Doug Mills/Associated Press

President Jacques Chirac of France and President George W. Bush, November 2001.

This book is misleadingly titled. “500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars” seeks to provide a global account of the period after 9/11, leaping from a prison cell in Syria to the nightclub bombing in Bali, but it’s best and most informative when depicting how the Bush administration, and especially its lawyers, suffered a protracted nervous breakdown during that time. In that respect, it is an ambitious undertaking and a valuable resource.

[...]

With each piece of evidence, it becomes clearer that in late 2001 and in 2002, President Bush and Vice President Cheney had begun panicking. Mistaking rumors and lies fabricated by victims of torture as actionable information and elbowing aside skeptics, they gave rein to their fears that the worst was yet to come — and their hysteria spread to and infected parts of the national security ­establishment.

Give that review a quick read. I will give you two quotes from the book, that so far has struck me as very telling.

In discussing John Ashcroft and his “priorities,” of which terrorism was not even part of, Eichenwald writes about Tom Picard, the acting director of the FBI and Dale Watson, head FBI in charge of counterterrorism:

Despite Ashcroft’s apparent indifference, Pickard tried to hammer home the magnitude of the terrorist threat almost every time they met. But at this latest briefing, Pickard told Watson, the attorney general had gone off the rails.

“I was telling him about the high level of chatter and how it suggested something big was about to happen,” Picard told Watson. “And then he interrupted me and said, ‘I don’t want to hear about that anymore.”

This was two months prior to the attacks. And, one of many warnings about bin Laden and his big plans within the last 12 months…since Bush became the Republican nominee and received his first intelligence briefing.

The other quote is shortly after the attacks, when one of Ashcroft’s top aides  is caught reading a book in his office:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam. Omigod. That is not a good sign.

Again, I am only at the beginning but wow…and that is just a couple of examples from the Department of Justice. We are not even mentioning Cheney and his crew.

I just finished reading Eichenwald’s earlier book, The Informant, and if you are up for some real unbelievably f’d up cooperating witnesses, involved in price fixing and embezzlement, then please read the book. (The movie with Matt Damon does not really touch the surface…)

Here are a couple of reviews for the book:

BOOKS OF THE TIMES; A Crime Story of the White-Collar Kind – New York Times

Fox in the Henhouse – New York Times

And a two-hour interview with Eichenwald: Booknotes :: Watch The Informant Part One and Booknotes :: Watch The Informant Part Two.

Anyway, I also sat through the entire Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart Debate. It was awesome…if you have not seen it, you need to.

Bill O’Reilly, Jon Stewart Debate In ‘Rumble In The Air-Conditioned Auditorium’

Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly: The Rumble : The New Yorker

Just one more link for you tonight, this is sad…Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman split after 30 years

Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlmanare breaking up.

A spokesman for DeVito says the couple is separating after 30 years of marriage. Publicist Stan Rosenfield offered no other details.

DeVito and Perlman married in 1982 and have three adult children. The couple worked together on TV’s “Taxi” from 1978 to 1982.

Together, the couple established the production company Jersey Films, which counts “Pulp Fiction,” ”Erin Brockovich” and “Out of Sight” among its credits.

Danny DeVito-Rhea Perlman split catches Hollywood off guard

‘Stunned,” “shocked,” “totally surprised” and “so sorry to hear it” — just a few of the comments veteran Hollywood insiders were using Monday as news broke Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman had separated after 30 years of marriage.

“For Hollywood — hell, for anywhere in America — breaking up after 30 years is practically unheard of,” said one of the biggest producers in the entertainment business, who has worked with both DeVito and Perlman. “I am devastated to hear about this. They are both good friends and will remain so. I’m just sorry they apparently were unable to overcome whatever issues they had.”A second Tinseltown source who recently worked with DeVito speculated the couple’s work has kept them apart, “as often is the case out here.” Beyond confirming the split, DeVito’s spokesman,

I’ve read rumors of a possible connection to DiVito’s alcoholism, but I guess we will find out later on…

This is an open thread.


Monday Evening Reads: Clean up on Hwy 515, Burning Crosses Ahead

**Update**

 

Please sign the petition…Human Rights Petition: Don’t Let the KKK Adopt a Highway | Change.org

 

Good Evening

Just a quick post tonight, since I am off visiting my Aunt who is up here in Banjoville on vacation. In fact, tonight’s reads touches on my hometown of Banjoville…we are in the news yet again.

KKK group seeks Adopt-A-Highway OK  

Knighthawk (from left), April Hanson and her husband Harley Hanson, members of the International Keystone Knights Realm of Georgia, perform a traditional Klan salute along the portion of highway they want to adopt allowing them to put up a sign and do litter removal near Blairsville on Sunday, June 10, 2012. Harley Hanson, the Exalted Cyclops of the group, said "how can you say beautiful mountains and streams if trash is piled up on the side of the road."

The Ku Klux Klan wants to “adopt” a stretch of highway in North Georgia, which would allow the white supremacy group to receive official state recognition for cleaning litter from the road, according to records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an open records request.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is reviewing the May 21 request filed by International Keystone Knights of the KKK in Union County and are set to meet with lawyers from the state attorney general’s office today to decide what to do.

The application — which covers a one-mile stretch of Route 515 in the Appalachian Mountains near the North Carolina border — has placed Georgia officials in a bind. A lengthy legal battle took place in Missouri after that state sought to ban an effort by the KKK to adopt a road there. Missouri eventually lost, with courts holding that the First Amendment prevented the state from denying an applicant because it disagreed with their viewpoint.

This is the same group that is planning a huge KKK rally in Banjoville…at our county courthouse in September…from what I hear, this rally is going to be the 6th such KKK rally in the state this year.  Back to the AJC article,

Harley Hanson, who filed the application and said he is the exalted cyclops of the Klan’s Realm of Georgia, said the group is simply trying to be civic minded.

“We just want to clean up the doggone road,” the 34-year-old electrician from Blairsville, said in an interview with the AJC. “We’re not going to be out there in robes.”

But state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, head of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials called on state officials to reject the application from a “domestic terrorist group” even if it means a costly legal fight.

“This is about membership building and rebranding their name in a public way,” the Atlanta Democrat said of the KKK. “If the state approves [their application] then they are complicit.”

Hanson said if he is denied, he’ll sue and would seek help from the American Civil Liberties Union, which assisted in the Missouri lawsuit.

The move is another way to bring the Klan into mainstream, just as the list of “beliefs” on the KKK site are almost mirrored taking points of the GOP. What I mean is they espouse, prayer in school, closed borders, anti-immigration, drug screening for “welfare” assistance,  pro-life blah…blah…blah.

KKK chapter wants to adopt stretch of Georgia highway

If the Georgia Department of Transportation accepts the application, the KKK would be responsible for cleaning litter on a part of Georgia State Route 515 in the Appalachian Mountains near the North Carolina border.

“All we want to do is adopt a highway,” said April Chambers, the chapter’s secretary. “We’re not doing it for publicity. We’re doing it to keep the mountains beautiful. People throwing trash out on the side of the road … that ain’t right.”

Jill Goldberg, a Georgia DOT spokeswoman, confirmed the application but said, “the department is deferring comment beyond that, however, until a resolution is determined.”

DOT officials will discuss the matter Monday with representatives from the state attorney general’s office, she said.

Chambers continues,

“We’re not racists,” Chambers said Monday. “We just want to be with white people. If that’s a crime, then I don’t know. It’s all right to be black and Latino and proud, but you can’t be white and proud. I don’t understand it.”

[...]

Chambers said the group is more than 100 strong. “We have a lot of support,” she said.

“I don’t see why we can’t (adopt the stretch of highway),” she said. “Would it be any different if it was the Black Panthers or something? Someone always has some kind of race card.”

On its website, the International Keystone Knights of the KKK says it is “fed up with the Federal tyranny and oppression of Reconstruction, and the time was ripe for Clandestine Armed Resistance.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, lists the KKK as “the most infamous — and oldest — of American hate groups.”

“Over the years since it was formed in December 1865, the Klan has typically seen itself as a Christian organization, although in modern times Klan groups are motivated by a variety of theological and political ideologies,” the law center’s website says.

“We’re not a hate group,” Chambers insisted Monday. “We don’t hate anybody. We’re just white people that want to stick with white people. The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) wants to stick with black people. Just because I’m white, I can’t stick with my own group?”

The thing that gets me is that this hate-group is becoming more politically involved, like the KKK member in Pennsylvania that was elected to office a few weeks ago. Steve Smith, White Supremacist, Wins Republican Post With Single Vote

A northeastern Pennsylvania man with longstanding ties to white supremacist groups entered a polling place on primary election day and wrote in his name for a low-level position with the local Republican Party committee.

Steve Smith wound up getting elected with a single vote – his own – and now presents a headache for a GOP that doesn’t want him but might not be able to get rid of him.

Pennsylvania Democrats spread word last week of his April election, linking to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center that described Smith’s associations with “an extraordinary array of white nationalist, skinhead, and neo-Nazi groups,” including a group formerly known as the Keystone State Skinheads.

It is a scary thing to see this happening so close to home.