The proverbial shit has hit the fan, and whatever happens next is speculation at this point.
As for what I think? I think we are f’d.
That could be my negativity and depression talking. Nah, it is more than that…what else could any sane person expect?
So, as you take a look at some of the news articles for today’s reads, think about what will happen over the next few months.
On the topic of crazy conservatives….they are having a values summit or hypocrite-bigot-get-together shindig:
They promise a conservative “awakening” in America unlike any other seen in the past decade, a show of political force that will rock the Republican electorate.
Evangelical leaders who are feeling more isolated in a Republican Party focused on fiscal issues rather than social debates are planning to assert themselves ahead of a free-for-all GOP nominating contest with more than a dozen contenders.
Serving God or government?
Cruz and Huckabee journeyed recently to a rally at Rock Springs Church, an evangelical megachurch in Milner, Ga., about 50 miles south of Atlanta, to curry favor with thousands of conservatives who had traveled from all over the region for a fireworks show, a Charlie Daniels concert and face time with the candidates.
The theme of the evening, if there was one, was dissatisfaction with establishment Republicans such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush who have taken more moderate approaches on issues such as gay marriage and illegal immigration.
“I appreciate you standing against the Democrats,” the rally’s organizer, Benny Tate, said to thousands huddled on the rolling hills on the church’s campus. “But I really appreciate you standing against the Republican Party when you think they are wrong.”
Huckabee, a one-time Baptist preacher who won Georgia’s primary in 2008, predicted a protracted fight against the 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court (he called it the “extreme court” to scattered laughter) that struck down bans on same-sex weddings.
“Over the next few years I fully believe that people of faith, whether they be Christians, Jewish, whatever they may be, are going to be called upon, and already are, to determine, ‘Will you serve God or will you serve government?’ ” he said. “And I wonder, will we be as faithful to our faith and to our freedom as those men who signed that declaration 239 years ago?”
He’s followed that by supporting Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who became a hero to opponents of same-sex marriage when she was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses because she objected to gay weddings. Huckabee delighted conservative crowds by volunteering to spend years in jail to fight the “tyranny under people who think they can take our freedom and conscience away.”
Cruz, the son of a born-again Christian preacher, spoke of a brewing “awakening” to defend the values of conservatives. Like other Republicans, he talked wistfully of the millions of evangelicals who he said spurned Mitt Romney in 2012, and he vowed to fan the flames of evangelicals across the nation.
“It’s my hope that that marriage decision serves as a spark to start a fire that becomes a raging inferno and awakening that sweeps this country as the body of Christ rises up to defend the values that have built America into this great nation,” Cruz said.
The fierce competition has stoked fears of a rerun of the past two presidential campaigns, where candidates courting the evangelical vote split the field and left many disillusioned. Bart Tharpe, a GOP activist in Macon, Ga., who attended a recent evangelical rally, said he’s confident Christian conservatives have learned a lesson.
“I’ll vote for any one of them,” he said. “It’s better than any ungodly idiot the Democrats are running.”
Gawd help us! More at the link, if you can bear it.
Family Research Council Action, a Christian lobbying group, said on Saturday that more attendees polled at the Values Voter Summit said Cruz, a leader with the Republican’s Tea Party wing, should be the party’s presidential nominee for the November 2016 election.
Cruz, who also won the group’s so-called “straw poll” the previous two years, took 35 percent of the support among the nearly 2,700 summit-goers, followed by Carson with 18 percent, the group said in a statement. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee got 14 percent and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida 13 percent.
Business tycoon Donald Trump, who has led public opinion polls, came in fifth place with 5 percent.
Carson led among attendees for the vice presidential nod with 25 percent support among those polled, followed by former business executive Carly Fiorina with 21 percent and Cruz with 14 percent, the group said.
Uh….someone get me a bucket…I feel ill.
But let’s not focus on these idiot candidates. Let’s look at some other idiot candidates…this one is from Canada.
Alex Johnstone, an education official who is running for Canada’s parliament, made a penis joke about Auschwitz and then apologized—saying she wasn’t aware it was a concentration camp.
History is meant to help people learn from mistakes. But mistakes can still be made if people don’t learn history.Alex Johnstone, who is running for a parliamentary seat in Canada, has drawn heat for not knowing about the past this week. Specifically, not knowing about very noteworthy facts about the Holocaust. The candidate, who is also a vice chairwoman of a school board in Hamilton, Ontario, made a phallic joke about a picture from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.“Ahh, the infamous Pollish, phallic hydro posts….of course you took pictures of this!” she wrote on a friend’s Facebook wall in 2008 beneath a picture of a barbed-wire gate at the concentration camp. “It expresses the how the curve is normal, natural and healthy right!”Canadian humor is peculiar.
I don’t know about peculiar. The fact that she does not know about Auschwitz is disturbing. But then, I guess it is better than outright denying that it ever happened in the first place…right?
Adding insult to injury, Johnstone stated that she didn’t know what Auschwitz even was.
“Well, I didn’t know what Auschwitz was, or I didn’t up until today,” she said in an interview Tuesday night. Johnstone, who appears to be in her thirties, said she had “heard about concentration camps.”
“I think that constituents, the community is more interested in the values and principles that I have been standing for, particularly in this election, and I think the fact that I’ve run a clean campaign really demonstrates that,” she said.
Johnstone has not responded to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.
Bobby Jindal and George Pataki are the next two quitters in the Republican field.
That’s the assessment of Republicans in the POLITICO Caucus, our weekly bipartisan survey of the top activists, operatives and strategists in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Story Continued Below
A quarter of Iowa Republicans say it’s Jindal, a frequent visitor to their state, who is on his way out.
“He’s become desperate,” an Iowa Republican said. “He’s taken to attacking Trump (we know how that worked out for Perry and Walker) and has nothing going on here in Iowa.”
Added another, who like all participants was granted anonymity in order to speak freely: “He’s taken the hard inside right lane, and there’s simply too much competition there (Cruz, Huckabee, Santorum).”
But in New Hampshire, Pataki is considered most likely to drop out next, with 27 percent of Republican insiders there pointing to him.
“There comes a point when his irrelevance becomes crystal clear even to him,” a New Hampshire Republican said.
The next quote is sure to make some of you laugh like hell:
“The Spice Girls were big in the 1990s, too, but no one wants to see them on a reunion tour,” snarked another New Hampshire Republican.
Ha..these Republicans…they are so darn snarky…and witty too.
More links on the right….
“All life is precious.” That is the theme of the good Christians of the Republican party. Their belief that holding onto that precept makes them morally superior is what allows them to also be the most hypocritical group of people in history.
All life is precious, unless you’ve been convicted of a crime we deem horrendous enough to kill you. All life is precious unless you refused to comply with a police officer and were shot dead for it. All life is precious unless you walk onto my property looking for assistance and I decide to “castle doctrine” your ass. All life is precious unless I can convince a jury of white people I was “standing my ground” when I chased that guy and killed him after I was told to stand still.
All life is precious if the Republican party decides it is, which seems to only cover pre-humans from -9 months until birth, and people who have been declared brain dead.
Prison Labor in America: How Is It Legal? via- The Atlantic
The Thirteenth Amendment forbade slavery and involuntary servitude, “except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
A look at slavery reinvented at Angola Prison.
Many of us have grown up in a time when we take for granted that abortion is legal. But older generations of doctors and women remember what it took to obtain an abortion before Roe v. Wade. It wasn’t pretty.
This next link…the image alone is enough to give pause….
Researchers have found high levels of lead in the water supply in Flint, Michigan, after the economically battered city switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River in an attempt to save money. The city issued a lead warning on Friday, ramping up residents’ health concerns — and questions about the tradeoffs cash-strapped cities make to revive their economies.
One set of study results, released on Thursday, analyzed the blood lead levels in more than 1,500 children in Flint and said the overall number with elevated levels rose to 4 percent in 2015 after the water source was switched, from 2.1 percent in 2013. In some areas, the levels rose to 6.3 percent from 2.5 percent. The study was led by Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Hurley Medical Center in Flint.
A separate study, conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech, tested water samples from homes in Flint andconcluded that the city “has a very serious lead in water problem.” They announced the results in mid-September, saying the lead levels in several samples of city water exceeded 100 parts per billion — well over the EPA’s allowed level of 15 parts per billion.
Flint, synonymous with a perennially devastated rust belt, has long been a poster child of economic depression. Like nearby Detroit, Flint was put into the hands of a succession of emergency managers appointed by the governor. Flint’s switch from Lake Huron water, through the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, to water from the Flint River happened during the administration of emergency manager Darnell Earley. In March 2014, the city council voted on a resolution to do “all things necessary” to stop using the Flint River as the city’s water source. Jerry Ambrose, Earley’s successor, called that decision “incomprehensible,” citing a savings of $12 million a year. Ambrose could not immediately be reached for comment at the time this story was published.
Boiling water contaminated with lead does not make it safe to drink — in fact, it can make the effects of the lead worse by concentrating it. The options left to people in Flint are to either buy bottled water, or to get filters for their faucets. Both options are a financial stretch for many residents.
According to census data, Flint’s median household income between 2009 and 2013 was $24,834, compared to Michigan’s median household income of $48,411. Between those same years, 41.5 percent of Flint’s residents were living below the poverty level.
“I started calling people and realized that a lot of people in Flint cannot afford to buy bottled water on a regular basis,” said Anurag Mantha, a Virginia Tech graduate student who was on a research team that tested the city’s water.
“A second option that we give them is to buy a national sanitation foundation certified lead filters,” Mantha said. “These are available in home improvement stores and Amazon. But I realized that people couldn’t afford to buy them as well.”
Mantha helped start a GoFundMe campaign to help residents afford water filters. The campaign hopes to raise $25,000 to buy them for at least 1,000 residents, and has so far raised $3,560 in 15 days.
“They’re saying, ‘Oh, it’s not that bad.’ They’re trying to say it only affects a few people and it’s their own problem. They’re trying to shake off all responsibly,” Mays said. “My tub is green because there’s so much copper leaching into both of my bathtubs in my house … and I’m just furious.”
Okay, more links in dump fashion, true dump fashion:
The power company with water rights to the lake blames drought, but a neighbor says the explanation sounds fishy.
Tony Perkins is the head of one of the most extreme anti-gay hate groups in the country, yet media outlets continue to give him a platform that enables him to play a major role in mainstream conservative politics.
“A ‘feel good song’ is rather tricky to define,” writes Dr. Jolij on his website. “Music appreciation is highly personal and strongly depends on social context, and personal associations. In that respect, the idea of a ‘feel good formula’ is a bit odd — factoring in all these personal aspects is next to impossible, in particular if you want to come up with a quantita[ti]ve feel good formula. Basically, what you need are song features that you can express in numbers.”
I think that can be useful with this next link:
Now, some bodies….body parts….murder…and mystery.
Fragments of a human body including a jaw, the first six cervical vertebrae, and two severed hands that had been laid over the face of a skull in opposite directions have been unearthed at Lapa do Santo, a hunter-gatherer rock-shelter site in east-central Brazil. According to a press release from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, v-shaped cut marks were found on the jaw and the sixth cervical vertebra. André Strauss of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and his colleagues believe that the 9,000-year-old remains could represent the oldest case of decapitation in the Americas. Isotopic analysis of the bones and of other human remains at the site indicate that the individual had been a local member of the group, so the decapitation may have been part of a mortuary ritual, rather than a case of trophy-taking during war.
Years ago, in the small town of Maiden, N.C., a man named Shannon Whisnant bought a storage locker, and in it he found a grill. When he took both of them home and opened the grill, he discovered something he hadn’t been expecting: a mummified human leg.
Archaeologists have discovered the skeletal remains of between 50 to 75 individuals buried in the walls of Westminster Abbey. It is believed that they date from the 11th or early 12th century.
The remains had been placed under Victorian drainage pipes outside the wall of Poets’ Corner, which is part of the South Transept of the famous English Collegiate Church. The archaeologists were working there as part of a major project to build a new £19 million tower that will allow visitors more access to the site.
Paw Jorgensen of Pre-Construct Archaeology told The Guardian that the remains likely belong to monks associated with Westminster Abbey, and that they were moved twice since the first burial – first in the 13th century when the church was rebuilt by Henry III, and then in the Victorian era. Workmen from that period even stole the skull of individual who was found in a stone tomb.
The remarkably well preserved, fully dressed body of a seventeenth-century noblewoman has been found in a lead coffin in the French city of Rennes. A team led by Rosenn Colleter of the French National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) made the discovery while excavating the remains of a fourteenth-century convent at the site of a future conference center. Along with some 800 graves, the archaeologists unearthed five lead coffins, one of which was still hermetically sealed and held the nearly intact body. “I knew at once that it was a beautiful discovery,” says Colleter, “and that we would need to work quickly so as not to lose any information to decomposition.”
The woman was buried with a heart-shaped relic inscribed with her husband’s name and containing his heart. This allowed the team to identify her as Louise de Quengo, Lady of Brefeillac, who died in 1656. The unusually complete state of de Quengo’s body and clothing is giving specialists a new look at French aristocratic burial practices of the time.
Laboratory analysis of the remains will allow researchers to reconstruct the pathogens she carried, including tuberculosis. “It’s rare that you are able to give a seventeenth-century person a comprehensive health check,” says Colleter. The Lady of Brefeillac will be reburied later this year.
Now, a couple of links on women’s issues:
A look at one of my favorite actors….Michael Fassbender: fearless performer with a craftsman’s approach to the art of acting | Film | The Guardian
But Fassbender is also still very much the teenager of that original drama-school audition: He welcomes changes as they present themselves and he follows the signs of the present. Justin Kurzel, the director of ‘‘Macbeth,’’ said of working with Fassbender, ‘‘He’s so extremely prepared, he’s never reaching for words. And in that way he’s able to be very open to the conditions of the moment — to whatever is going on that day, to the other people who are around. He can discover something in the moment of doing. That’s why he’s an artist. That’s why he’s one of the best around.’’
Fassbender has a very deliberate and specific method: ‘‘I go over the words again and again and again and again. Hundreds of times. It’s more of a doing than a thinking thing. I have thoughts about the characters, I learn about them, but that’s not necessarily where the majority of the work gets done.’’
Oh, he gets it done…
And we end it all with an adorable video:
Enjoy your last Sunday of September. Can you believe it!
Hey, what do you know?
They use other animals to sniff out land mines, including dogs and rats…which seems like a more logical answer to me. I mean, if a rat missteps on a landmine and bang….little mess.
But an elephant?
What will you see when you see an elephant step on a landmine?
I’ll tell you one thing, it sure a shit won’t be a small showing.
But back to the elephants….Elephants can also smell water a kabillion miles away as well…so perhaps California could make use of them as well?
Given the historic low temperatures and snowfalls that pummeled the eastern U.S. this winter, it might be easy to overlook how devastating California’s winter was as well.
As our “wet” season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows. We’re not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we’re losing the creek too.
Statewide, we’ve been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011. Roughly two-thirds of these losses are attributable to groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley. Farmers have little choice but to pump more groundwater during droughts, especially when their surface water allocations have been slashed 80% to 100%. But these pumping rates are excessive and unsustainable. Wells are running dry. In some areas of the Central Valley, the land is sinking by one foot or more per year.
As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought. NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century.
Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.
Well, that is a scary last paragraph there. More of that op/ed at the link.
I know that the beginning of the post was lighthearted, however now I need to touch on some of the destruction set in motion over the last 48 hours in the South Pacific.
Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu as the UN was hosting its third world conference on disaster risk reduction in Sendai, Japan.
That meeting heard that over the past 45 years the Asia Pacific region has suffered cumulative economic losses of $A1.49 trillion from natural disasters, and had lost more than 2 million lives. And Vanuatu, according to a key report presented to delegates, was the country most at risk in the entire world, followed by Tonga, The Philippines, Japan and Costa Rica.
Today, as the island nation begins to count its dead and the economic cost of the weekend destruction, it will need all its traditional resilience to live up to its name. Vanuatu means “Our Land Forever,” a phrase that has always struck an appropriately defiant note in the face of the many threats it faces.
In this latest challenge, winds of up to 270km per hour ripped through the island group, after building speed as the cyclone passed first over Kiribati and then Solomon Islands immediately to Vanuatu’s north west. Alice Clements, a spokeswoman for UNICEF, who was in Port Vila, told Reuters that as the cyclone hit the city, “it felt like the world was coming to an end”.
Be sure to read that article, it has a lot of information, about the island nation…it’s people and what they will be going through after the clean up.
Cyclone Pam hit the island as a Category 5. First aid teams reach Vanuatu, find widespread devastation after cyclone | Reuters
The first aid teams to reach Vanuatu reported widespread devastation on Sunday as authorities declared a state of emergency after a “monster” cyclone tore through the Pacific island nation.
With winds of more than 300 kph (185 mph), Cyclone Pam razed homes, smashed boats and washed away roads and bridges as it struck late on Friday and into Saturday. Aid workers described the situation as catastrophic.
Aid workers were particularly worried about the southern island of Tanna. An official with the Australian Red Cross told Reuters an aircraft had managed to land there and aid workers confirmed there was “widespread destruction”.
“Virtually every building that is not concrete has been flattened,” said the official, adding two deaths had been confirmed on the island which has a population of about 29,000 and is about 200 km (125 miles) south of the capital, Port Vila.
Witnesses in Port Vila described sea surges of up to eight metres (26 feet) and widespread flooding as the category 5 cyclone hit. Residents said the storm sounded like a freight train. Port Vila was strewn with debris and looked as if a bomb had gone off.
Pacific nation devastated by historic Cyclone Pam – Video at that link.
And then, on the other side of the world, a tragic bus accident: Brazil bus crash: at least 40 dead after plunge off cliff | World news | The Guardian
At least 40 people died on Saturday when a passenger bus drove off a cliff in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, police said.
The bus, en route from the neighbouring state of Parana, swerved off a curve and fell dozens of metres before crashing in a wooded area. Rescue crews were bringing up dozens of bodies as well as survivors.
The bus was about six miles (10km) from its destination in the city of Joinville when it crashed. Highway and weather conditions at the time were good, a police spokesman said.
Though no immediate cause for the crash had been determined, police said it appeared the brakes on the bus failed.
Brazil has some of Latin America’s deadliest roads. Despite nearly a decade of sustained economic growth that only slowed in recent years, the country has done little to improve or expand its creaky infrastructure.
Alright, back to the other links:
Likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush used his personal email while governor of Florida to discuss troop deployments, nuclear plant protection and other such matters, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
The report followed revelations that Democrat Hillary Clinton, also seen as a likely presidential candidate, used a personal email account exclusively during her time as secretary of state, raising questions about security and transparency.
On his personal account, email@example.com, Bush discussed the Florida National Guard’s movements and training activities as well as his decision to provide less security to nuclear power plants in the state, the newspaper reported.
Bush aides told the Post that none of the emails contained sensitive or classified information, and many of the events mentioned in them were documented in press accounts. But security experts say private email systems such as the one used by Bush are more vulnerable to hackers.
Democrats have attempted to divert the focus on Clinton’s use of a personal email account to conduct work as U.S. secretary of state by saying that Bush used the same practice in Florida, where he was governor from 1999 to 2007.
Then you have this, Hillary Clinton’s Over-Played Woman Card | RealClearPolitics
Last week, the Wall Street Journal featured “A Better World, Run By Women,” a rather hilarious essay penned by Emory anthropology professor Melvin Konner. As more women gain power around the world, Konner argued, the better our lives will be. “Research has found,” he wrote, “that women are superior to men in most ways that will count in the future.”
Konner was just warming up. “There is every reason to think that a future national hierarchy staffed and led by women who no longer have to imitate men, dealing with other nations similarly transformed, would be less likely to go to war,” he added. “But that’s not all. Sex scandals, financial corruption and violence are all overwhelmingly male.”
I assume he wrote this with a straight face. I also assume that he has never watched The Real Housewives of New Jersey, attempted to score half-price designer shoes at the Barney’s Warehouse Sale, or patronized a crowded Chuck E. Cheese’s that serves liberal amounts of alcohol in an over-the-hill and questionably located strip mall. (Hint: There are often fights.)
That shitty piece is written by a woman by the way…I won’t quote any more from it, you can go and read the rest of the bait at the link if you really want to. That is if you feel like getting in a pissy mood.
So after a link to an article like that, how about a link to someone good…that cares about her fellow women: Feminists don’t hate men. But it wouldn’t matter if we did | Jessica Valenti | Comment is free | The Guardian
One of the most common derisive taunts thrown at feminists – and one of the oldest – is “manhater”. It’s been around since the days of suffrage, and still gets used today, though its a pretty anodyne insult. Most feminists, like me, shun the label and work to convince people that despite the stereotypes feminists absolutely, without a doubt, do not hate men.
But so what if we did?
It’s not that I recommend hating men or think it a particularly wise use of one’s time, but to each her own. Straight white men still hold the majority of political, economic and social power in the world, and everyone else struggles to make their lives work with less. So if the worst thing that happens to a man is that a woman doesn’t like him …well, he has it pretty damn good. It’s not as if we’re living in some sort of Wicker Man-inspired dystopia, after all.
Besides, when women hate men, we hurt their feelings. When men hate women, they kill us: mass shootings have been attributed to misogyny, and sexual and domestic violence against women is often fuelled by a hatred for women.
That’s why it’s so hard to take seriously any claims that “misandry” is a tremendous problem – they’re based on the idea that merely insulting men is similar to the life-threatening misogyny women face worldwide. (Most recently, Newsday writer Cathy Young argued that men being called “mansplainers” or rape apologists is akin to the rape and death threats that women get online.)
But a younger generation of feminists has embraced what Slate writer Amanda Hess calls “ironic misandry”. Hess wrote last year that the rise in popularity of “male tears” mugs and man-hating inspired shirts and crafts serves as a sort of fuck-you to the constant barrage of harassment that feminists often face: “On its most basic level, ironic misandry functions like a stuck-out tongue pointed at a playground bully.”
Finish it up at the link.
Hey, check this out: Republican Votes for Loretta Lynch May Be at Historic Low
The most amazing thing about the Loretta Lynch story is that the congressional community no longer views it as amazing.
Lynch is on course to be confirmed this month after the longest wait ever for a nominee to be attorney general — and very likely by the closest vote ever to put a new person in charge of the Justice Department.
When Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that the Senate debate on the nomination would begin next week, it marked 17 weeks and three days since President Barack Obama announced his choice for one of the most prestigious and pivotal positions in his Cabinet. At the time, Lynch was assured the bare minimum level of public support required for victory. Only four Republicans have announced they’ll join the 46 members of the Democratic Caucus in voting for her, meaning that at least for the time being Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had best keep his March travel schedule a bit flexible.
Still, her sluggishly contentious path toward becoming the nation’s top law enforcement official has garnered relatively little public attention. That’s in large part because Lynch hasn’t become a focus of the daily partisan histrionics on the Hill or on cable news. And a big reason for that is because neither side views the fundamental dispute over her — extraordinary as it is by historical standards — to be remarkable at all in the context of today.
One more feminist article: TripAdvisor removes ‘feminist’ review | UK news | The Guardian
A review in which a customer described seeing a manager biting a waitress and slapping her on the bottom has been removed by TripAdvisor for contravening its guidelines.
And lastly…Cuba is coming into the 20th Century: Free Wi-Fi in Havana Shows Cuba’s Telecommunications Future — The Atlantic
It’s an image that’s familiar around the world: A group of young people, glued to their laptops or smart phones, lounging around a public space and taking advantage of free, wireless Internet. But in Cuba, this scene is far from ordinary. When the famed artist Kcho provided wi-fi at his cultural center some weeks ago, he established the first such venue in the country’s history. Now, in a rapidly changing Cuba, milestones like this have become more commonplace.
To its beneficiaries, free wi-fi is about more than gaining access to computer games and social media. It also involves establishing contact with the outside world. One 20-year-old at the cultural center was using wi-fi to chat with his father, who lives in the United States.
“Thanks to this service I can talk to him,” the man, Adonis Ortiz, told theWashington Post.
This is something amazing indeed…
At least I think so. Not on the political front, but just in terms of a cultural standpoint. We are talking about a country driven by the car wheels of the 50’s…literally.
Three months after President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuba would normalize relations, the island’s long period of isolation appears to be coming to an end—and telecommunications is just one dimension of the change. On Saturday, a group of 80 civic and business leaders will travel from New Orleans to Havana to attend a conference, marking the first direct flight between the two cities in 57 years. And next week, a New York-based tour operator will launch a weekly charter flight between the Cuban capital and New York’s JFK airport.
Still, Cuba’s antiquated communications infrastructure presents an obstacle to economic development. In anticipation of restored U.S-Cuban ties, Havana is seeking billions of dollars in foreign direct investment across a range of sectors, but the lack of IT resources hampers these relationships. Nine out of 10 Cubans lack access to a mobile phone, and Internet connections are slow and subject to government censorship. State-run Internet cafes in the country charge $4.50 an hour for online access, a huge sum where the average monthly salary is about $20. Broadband Internet connections in Cuban homes are virtually unheard of.
The transition to a modern, Internet-driven economy won’t happen overnight. Nor is it certain to force political change. In the U.S., critics of normalization have argued that establishing closer economic ties to Cuba will only empower the Castro regime. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and probable presidential candidate, has cited evidence that engagement with other Communist countries did not compel them to liberalize.
“We have those policies of normalization toward Vietnam, for example, toward China,” Rubio said in December. “They’re not any more politically free today than they were when that normalization happened.”
Kcho’s cultural center offering free wi-fi in Havana, too, offers little promise of political liberalization—the center even hosted Fidel Castro last year. But for Cubans long deprived of the quality Internet service the developed world takes for granted, getting online has less to do with politics than with daily conveniences such as communicating with friends and buying things off the web. Belkis Baisal, a bed and breakfast operator in Havana, told AFP that regular Internet access will allow her to advertise her rooms. Normalization, she said, is a positive sign.
“It’s better to have friends than enemies.”
In an October (2014) survey, 40 percent of more than 1,000 teens said they had been hit or nearly hit by a car while walking, the organization Safe Kids Worldwide reported. And 85 percent of those said they were listening to music, talking on their phones or texting when it happened.
Researcher Jack Nasar at the University of Ohio calculated that more than 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2010 for injuries suffered while using their cellphones.
That was almost six times as many as five years earlier.
And Nasar said the number was probably much higher since it isn’t strictly tracked. He hasn’t followed up since, although he and others are working on a study of just how prevalent cellphone use is on the street.
Several hospitals in the Lower Hudson Valley said they don’t ask people if they were texting when they got hurt. And patients may be too embarrassed to volunteer the information.
“They may not want to admit they were an idiot,” Nasar said.
Most of us are no stranger to this scenario: A group of friends sits down to a meal together, laughing, swapping stories, and catching up on the news – but not necessarily with the people in front of them! Nowadays, it’s not unusual to have one’s phone handy on the table, easily within reach for looking up movie times, checking e-mails, showing off photos, or taking a call or two. It’s a rare person who doesn’t give in to a quick glance at the phone every now and then. Today’smultifunctional phones have become anindispensable lifeline to the rest of the world.
We might expect that the widespread availability of mobile phones boosts interpersonal connections, by allowing people to stay in touch constantly. But a recent set of studies by Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex showed that our phones can hurt our close relationships. Amazingly, they found that simply having a phone nearby, without even checking it, can be detrimental to our attempts at interpersonal connection.
It’s been a long, terrible day. As you recount your struggles, you suddenly notice your partner is furiously typing on his phone. Your anger boils (you’ve forgotten that you did the same thing to him just yesterday). It’s time to step away from the smartphone, put down the tablet, shut the laptop and turn off the TV. A slew of recent researchsuggests that if people want happy relationships, they need to stop clinging to technology.
In a new study, Coyne asked 143 married or cohabitating women to answer questions about technology use and relationships. She wanted to understand how technology encroaches on our lives and relationships, what she calls “technoference.” The vast majority of respondents, 70 percent, said using a cell phone interrupted interactions between them and their partners sometimes, often, very often or all the time. Even more, 74 percent, said that computers sometimes, often, very often or all the time disturbed their interactions with partners.
The women who reported technoference also said they fought more with their partners, which made them feel badly about their relationships. On top of this, they felt more depressed and less satisfied with life.
“What I think the most important finding is, the more you let the technology interfere, the more conflict you have with your spouse or partner and that leads to not feeling great about the relationship,” she says.
Still there’s other research showing that cell phone dependence can be unhealthy.
“Cell phone attachment is positively related to an increase in stress and anxiety and even depression,” says James A. Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University Hankamer School of Business.
In a 2012 paper, Roberts coined the word “phub,” a mash-up of phone and snub. Phubbing occurs when someone chooses to play with an app, text or take a phone call instead of paying attention to a person.
“Essentially, what we are saying is that you don’t matter,” he says. “It touches at our core.”
Oh boy…the horror…..Cubans are a hot-blooded people, believe me I know from my experience. But we are also a passionate emotionally connected people with a strong culture of close associations. We are not a cold group of people either…we hug…human contact is big with us. So I hope that those kinds of cultural values don’t change as technology seeps into Cuba. I can’t say if it has changed within out own communities here in the US…as I have been stuck in Hicktown Banjoville for so dang long, but I can at least hope and pretend things are still the same back home in West Tampa. It’s all I got sometimes, when all around me is fried chicken and racist ignorance. I do miss the days when there were more colors in my world….all types of colors.
You all have a great day.
If you want to kill some time today, check out these images of Lego greatness:
Over a thousand pictures here: Lego Art on Pinterest
There is even a Klimt in this one: Lego mania on Pinterest
And more artsy fartsy stuff here: Lego Creations on Pinterest
Why do I bring all this up? Because today’s post is going to center around popular culture and nothing represents that more than Legos…used as an artistic representation in historic museums.
As a history major, and a geeky one at that…you know being a wonky sort of history geek, specifically Medieval, I don’t know how to feel about this.
I am so enthralled with these works of Lego art, the detail, the delight it brings…but there is also a part of me that thinks…Lego? Used in a legitimate archaeological/historical sense? Then I slap myself and say, don’t be such a pompous ass JJ…get over your fucking self. These things are not your typical play toy Lego “houses” just look at the scale models the artist create.
The latest made its debut in Sydney this past month. LEGO Pompeii Excites New Audiences – Archaeology Magazine
Professional LEGO builder Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught has crafted a model of Pompeii at the University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum, according to The Conversation. The project, which took more than 500 hours to complete and used more than 190,000 blocks, is one of the largest LEGO historical models ever built. The display shows three phases of the ancient city: as it looked in A.D. 79 when Mount Vesuvius erupted; as it appeared when it was rediscovered in the eighteenth century; and as the ruins stand today. Over the past two years, McNaught created a scale model of the Colosseum out of the colorful bricks, and the LEGO Acropolis, now on display at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.
This thing is amazing!
From the link to the University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum above: Lego Pompeii creates less pomp and more yay in the museum
Lego Pompeii was painstakingly recreated from more than 190,000 individual blocks across 470 hours for Sydney University’s Nicholson Museum – it’s the largest model of the ancient city ever constructed out of Lego blocks. There is a mix of ancient and modern elements within the model’s narrative; displaying Pompeii as it was at the moment of destruction by the volcano Vesuvius in 79AD, as it was when rediscovered in the 1700s, and as it is today.
The historical model is the exhibition centrepiece in an archaeological museum where, until recently, displays of Lego would have been unthinkable.
The Nicholson Museum, with collections of artefacts from the Mediterranean region, Egypt and the Middle East, is a place where visitors can expect to see Greek vases, Egyptian sculpture and ceramic sherds from Jericho.
Yet since 2012, the museum has commissioned professional Lego builder Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught to recreate three ancient sites made from Lego. Together these models represent an interesting experiment; attracting a new audience to the museum space and demonstrating the importance of fun in a museum context.
This is not the first rodeo for The Brickman…
The first Nicholson Lego scale model was a replica of the Colosseum in Rome.
The joy of the model was its ability to contrast the old with the new. Half the model featured the amphitheatre in antiquity; the other half featured the building in ruins with Lego modern tourists.
The model proved such a success it subsequently toured several regional NSW galleries and museums. It is currently displayed at the Albury Regional Art Gallery along with Roman artefacts from the Nicholson Museum’s collection.
Go to the Nicholson Museum link to read the rest of the story, and how The Brickman studied and designed his Lego city of Pompeii.
Brickman is one of Lego’s Certified Professionals, these people have amazing jobs…check out some of the artist work at that link. (Mini Bios at that link too.) It seems that most of these LCP’s are men…but I have not researched enough of the culture to be sure of this…that is just my observation as I look through the websites and images. And, the one woman that is a Certified Professional is associated with education, autism, special needs and using Lego as a teaching tool. But I will just say this is only my thoughts on the matter. Let’s just go on with the post.
Alright then, how about that Blizzard? Here’s some pictures for you:
City dwellers in New York hoping to wake up to mountains of snow will have to content themselves with trawling Instagram pictures from New England. The blizzard of 2015—or really the #blizzardof2015 if we’re doing this right—brought less snow than expected to New York City and a number of points south. But to the east on Long Island and north throughout New England, the storm has lived up to, and in some ways exceeded, expectations with heavy snow and coastal flooding.
Snow totals are still being updated but as of Tuesday morning, a National Weather Service weather spotter has reported the highest total from the storm so far, with 30 inches in Framingham, Mass. Other central Massachusetts and South Shore locations have also piled up more than 2 feet of snow.
The second-highest snow total comes 28.5 inches measured in Orient, N.Y., on the far eastern tip of Long Island. In both places, wind gusts are piling up drifts and sending snow cresting over the eaves of houses.
But there has been some complaining. For a look at the technical side of forecast, Cliff Mass Weather Blog: Forecast Lessons from the Northeast Snowstorm
The complaints swelled quickly this morning, both in the social media and the press:
National Weather Service forecasters had predicted two to three feet over New York City and adjacent suburbs for Tuesday and only about 8-10 inches showed up.
The city had been shut down overnight–travel banned on major roadways, mass transportation systems (e.g., subways) closed, schools and businesses closed–and all for a minor snow event! A few samples from the press illustrates some of the commentary:
And then a National Weather Service forecaster even apologized for a “blown forecast”, something that doesn’t happen very often.
And you had to expect that some global warming critic would use the forecast troublex to cast doubt on global warming predictions.
So what is the truth about this forecast event? As I will describe below, although the forecast “bust” was not as bad as it might appear, it did reveal some significant weaknesses in how my profession makes and communicates forecasts, weaknesses that National Weather Service director Louis Uccellini says he recognizes and will attempt to fix.
The general forecast situation was well understood and skillfully forecast starting on Saturday. A low center (a midlatitude cyclone) would develop off the SE U.S. and then move northward up the East Coast–a storm commonly called a Nor’easter. Here is a surface weather map at 4 AM PST this morning, when the storm was near its height. In such a location, the storm can pull cold air off the continent while swirling in moisture from off the ocean. The result is moderate to heavy snow to the west and north of the low center, as well as strong winds over the same areas. Thirty years ago we could not forecast these storms with any skill. That has changed.
Go and read how it has changed at the link.
In other science-ish news, y’all know that big ass rock that flew by us Monday?
A video still of asteroid 2004 BL86 and its newly discovered moon from Goldstone Solar System Radar. Image via Slooh.com.
Check this shit out:
Radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86 confirm the primary asteroid is 1,100 feet (325 meters) across with a small moon 230 feet (70 meters) across.
Wow! Scientists working with NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California have released the first radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86, which flew closer to Earth on Monday than any asteroid this large will again until the year 2027. Closest approach was 1619 UTC (11:19 a.m. EST) on January 26, 2015. Nearest distance was about 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers, or 3.1 times the distance from Earth to the moon). The radar images confirm what other astronomers first discovered this past weekend, that asteroid 2004 BL86 has its own small moon!
Let us move from science to environment, but still on a pop culture connection…cause what else would you expect from something like this? Chinese Methanol Plant in Louisiana ‘Cancer Alley’ | Al Jazeera America
Uh, okay… I will just give you a quick overview of the area and the situation. This plant is poisoning people. These people are poor. They are people of color. Nuff Said!
This article is the second installment of a three-part series on China’s role in redeveloping southern Louisiana called China’s Louisiana Purchase. The first part investigated links between Chinese government officials, Chinese gas giant Shandong Yuhuang and Gov. Bobby Jindal.
ST. JAMES PARISH, La. — No one asked Lawrence “Palo” Ambrose if he wanted a Chinese company with a controversial environmental record to build a methanol plant in his neighborhood. But if they had, the 74-year-old Vietnam War vet would have said no.
A town hall meeting about it in July at St. James High School, which is close to the site of the plant, in a sparsely populated area with mobile homes and a few farms, took place only after the St. James Parish Council approved the project.
“We never had a town hall meeting pretending to get our opinion prior to them doing it,” said Ambrose, a coordinator at St. James Catholic Church. “They didn’t make us part of the discussion.”
The St. James Parish Council did not respond to interview requests at time of publication.
Edwin Octave, 92, who lives with his family in the area, agreed with Ambrose. “I don’t think the way they went about getting the plant was right. They bought the property before they tell people it’s going to happen.”
The area has gotten the nickname Cancer Alley. I don’t know the state of Louisiana is becoming more and more like the poster child for all that is bad and could be bad when fuckwads get elected and have shit everything up. “Literally.”
There is a term being used, it is called Environmental Racism.
St. James Parish gas station owner Kenny Winchester said he hopes U.S. environmental standards will be enough to prevent any abuses too detrimental to the health of his community. “There shouldn’t be a problem if they follow the rules,” he said. “If they take shortcuts, we’ll have a problem.”
But Malek-Wiley said that hope isn’t realistic. “It’s not feasible to just hope they will abide by regulations. Most of the industry environmental reporting requirements are done by companies without a secondary check with the Department of Environmental Quality or EPA,” he said. “In effect, if a company was doing wrong, it would have to write itself a ticket. I know every time I’m going down the interstate too fast and there’s no cop, I pull over and write myself a ticket … No, it doesn’t happen that way.”
The only way to tell if a company breaches regulations, he said, is “after the plant’s built, unfortunately.” An environmentalist nonprofit focused on opposing petrochemical pollution in the region, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, could “teach folks how to take air samples in their community,” he said, and that tactic has led to “a number of companies to be fined for air pollution, but that’s after the fact.”
After successfully organizing legal bids around black communities not consulted on energy projects, Malek-Wiley believes that “with St. James Parish, they could have brought up concerns about environmental racism.”
How could this plant have been allowed to contaminate the groundwater for 40 years? How could the explosives have been left at the site in the first place? How is it that there doesn’t seem to be the money or the will to more safely remove them? Can we imagine anyone, with a straight face, proposing to openly burn millions of pounds of explosives near Manhattan or Seattle?
This is the kind of scenario that some might place under the umbrella of “environmental racism,” in which disproportionately low-income and minority communities are either targeted or disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous materials and waste facilities.
There is a long history in this country of exposing vulnerable populations to toxicity.
Fifteen years ago, Robert D. Bullard published Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality. In it, he pointed out that nearly 60 percent of the nation’s hazardous-waste landfill capacity was in “five Southern states (i.e., Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas),” and that “four landfills in minority ZIP codes areas represented 63 percent of the South’s total hazardous-waste capacity” although “blacks make up only about 20 percent of the South’s total population.”
More recently, in 2012, a study by researchers at Yale found that “The greater the concentration of Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans or poor residents in an area, the more likely that potentially dangerous compounds such as vanadium, nitrates and zinc are in the mix of fine particles they breathe.”
Among the injustices perpetrated on poor and minority populations, this may in fact be the most pernicious and least humane: the threat of poisoning the very air that you breathe.
I have skin in this game. My family would fall in the shadow of the plume. But everyone should be outraged about this practice. Of all the measures of equality we deserve, the right to feel assured and safe when you draw a breath should be paramount.
BTW, Bullard’s website with lots of links can be found here: Environmental Justice / Environmental Racism
I just get so damn sick about all this.
But if you want some more sick shit to read, the Koch Brothers.
And again…going back to the pop culture of the day…that link will take you to an article and then a video with a discussion from Cenk Unger and Ben Mankiewicz .
In other news, something that is really becoming too frequent a headline. Yet another college athlete is accused of raping a woman…this time it is a swimmer. Fancy that? Former Stanford swimmer accused of raping unconscious woman on campus – LA Times
…former Stanford University swimmer will face several felony charges after prosecutors say he raped a woman as she lay unconscious on campus grounds.
Brock Allen Turner, 19, is expected to be formally charged Wednesday with five felony counts, including rape of an unconscious woman, rape of an intoxicated woman and two counts of sexual assault with a foreign object, the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office told The Times.
Early on the morning on Jan. 18, prosecutors say, two men riding bikes on campus spotted a man later identified as Turner on top of an unconscious woman. Turner ran away, but the pair tackled him. A third person called police.
Turner was arrested, booked into the Santa Clara County Jail and released after posting $150,000 bail, prosecutors said. He’s scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 2.
It is a good thing those two bike dudes went after the asshole.
Just a few more pops on the pop links: Gabrielle Union Says Smart Things About Ferguson, the NFL, Hollywood
On the events in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York, Yahoo points out that she generally tries to stay positive in her public comments and Union acknowledges that she makes an effort to be responsible about what she says publicly:
There’s a bit of a gap between what I really want to say and what I know is responsible to say. The general lack of compassion for your fellow man is really frustrating. I think what the protesters are saying, or at least some of them, is it’s not just about police brutality. It’s about a widespread systematic crippling of some people in this country by birthright, and no one’s acknowledging it. There may be a power shakeup if you’re really going to do something about it. A lot of people aren’t interested in that. They say, “It’s not that bad. We have Barack Obama. We’re good.” Or, “You’re not getting lynched.” They’re not acknowledging the institutional racism that impacts daily lives.
You should read the other things Unions says, it is nice to see a smart woman being quoted…too bad it probably won’t get much attention outside of Yahoo Entertainment and Jezebel.
Also, in History News, Seventy Years After Auschwitz, One Survivor Has Her Revenge – Truthdig
Eva Slonim was a child when she was taken to Auschwitz, where she was tortured and experimented on by Dr. Josef Mengele.
The camps that made up the Auschwitz complex were liberated 70 years ago by Soviet troops. But not before the Nazis killed 1.1 million prisoners there.
Slonim was held with her twin sister in a special section of the camp, which had to do with Mengele’s fascination with twins.
She tells the Australian Broadcasting Corp. she is still haunted by the trauma: “I have this madness about locking the bedroom door every night, and I have a light under the door so I can see if there are any boots there.”
But, Eva Slonim says, she got her revenge in the end, by producing a large family to take the place of the one she lost. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, and has 27 grandchildren.
Have you seen this?
Finally, let’s get a little Medieval on ya: Erik Kwakkel • A horse on wheels, what’s not to love? Great…
A horse on wheels, what’s not to love? Great post.
Medieval Connections to ‘Classical Roots’
This manuscript (British Library, Royal MS 20 D I) of the Histoire ancienne jusqu’à César (‘Ancient history up to Caesar’) is the earliest surviving manuscript of the second redaction of this work. This redaction, like this manuscript, was produced in Naples around 1330-1340. It focuses on the story of Troy, which is no longer taken from Dares, a supposed eyewitness of the fall of Troy, but from the prose version of Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s Roman de Troie. As a result, it is much more extensive.
The goal of these types of histories was to join the classical past and the medieval present. The author, therefore, did not always keep historical accuracy in mind if it did not fit his purpose. This allowed nobles to bind themselves and their families to classical founders.
I love that the horse is supposed to represent the wooden horse, and the scribe/artist drew the thing with wood-like knots and tree rings as the pattern of the horse itself.
But I wonder if a large wooden badger would not have been more appropriate?
Have a wonderful day and for Gawds sake…watch out for the Knights who say Ni!
There must be a thing, something beyond denial, that people with all sense and reason experience. Beyond comprehension it seems. Beyond explanation. Even now as I write these words…the mind and heart do not move forward and process the thing I was told last Friday.
“…is HIV Positive, he has had HIV for over 11 years…”
My Uncle. My fabulously “gay” uncle. Who is only 18 months older than me.
HIV for 11 years. No. Why couldn’t he tell me. (He did not tell his sister for the first three years.) He is too smart to be so foolish…he knew to take care of himself. No, we’ve already made it past the late 80s and 90s, he got through that fine. (I suppose.) No. He would never get HIV. I knew the truth. He was my secret super hero….
You see, my uncle was on his way to an emergency room, there was something wrong internally. My Aunt was worried, she had to let me know the whole story.
My Aunt told me this on Friday, even she said her timing was shitty. She felt that it was something he should’ve told me on his own, face to face, but with the emergency situation at hand, she thought it was best I knew everything.
It was during a big lunch that included ten of my kids’ friends…my friend Cindy, my daughter’s boyfriend’s mother (it was our first meeting) and his two younger brothers and the rest of our circus of a family…but I could not react like I wanted to. The boyfriend caught my aunt holding me up near the Honey Baked Ham…he knew something had happened. He told Bebe, but she saw how well I hid everything and didn’t think anything was wrong. When the shit hits the fan as much as it does, you get used to the splatter.
Well, that crowd finally left, and I could act like a normal human being and fucking cry and sob uncontrollably, it still did not seem real to me.
JD could not have HIV, we were beyond the point of concern. I thought he was safe…I mean…The idea that he could even get it was out of the question. To me he was like “Super Fag” (and I don’t mean that in any derogatory way). He was invincible, and impervious to any disease. Like his t-cells had some super human power to withstand any viral attacks from evil outside forces. All he needed was a little super “Fagsuit” with a rainbow cape and a catchy theme song or memorable send off line…
You must understand this. JD is wonderful, funny, talented and loving. He is such a special, good person.
He is still invincible to me because even now I can’t get past this. I cannot process this information. My mother, father, husband….they all said it was something they expected…no surprise.
But for me, it fucking hit me out of nowhere.
How do you describe this feeling? This emotion…I am not in denial. I know that he has HIV. But the words do not register in my brain, and they certainly do not register in my heart.
After a weekend of worry, waiting for a diagnosis, it turns out to be an abdominal abscess. He does not realize how bad this thing really was, he had some special type of IV that pumped the heavy duty antibiotics directly into his aorta. Scary stuff. He went home yesterday evening. I am so thankful for this.
Next step is talking to JD on the phone, he is glad that I know and sorry he did not tell me himself when we saw each other the last time 5 years ago…during my Nana’s memorial. But I can hear the tears in his voice on the message he left me today. What can I say to him? All I want to do is hug him and make him laugh…like he always makes me laugh. I love him so much.
Boston Boomer told me that writing about this might make me feel better, I don’t know, it is all still numbing to me. Don’t take offense to the cartoons, I needed something funny to contrast what my return post was focused on, my humor is a twisted sort of way…but then you all know me so well.
Now for a quick group of links.
Thank you BB and Dak for covering for me these past couple weeks. I love you both so very much. ;)
Jake is still all over the place on his sugar levels, but yesterday he started his first job. I only hope they are more supportive of diabetics than this employer out in California.
Josefina Hernandez worked as a cashier at a California Walgreens store for 18 years. About five years into her tenure, she was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, a condition she reported to her employer.
In the 13 years that Hernandez worked for Walgreens after being diagnosed with diabetes, Walgreens allowed Hernandez to keep candy nearby in case of low blood sugar, keep her insulin in the break room refrigerator and take additional breaks to test her blood sugar or eat because of her diabetes.
In that 13-year time period, there was only one time when Hernandez asked to take an additional break to eat food because of low blood sugar. Apparently, the accommodations provided by Walgreens were working out just fine.
But then came the famous Chip Theft of 2008.
Hernandez was returning items in a shopping cart to shelves when she noted she was shaking and sweating from low blood sugar. She didn’t have any candy with her and was in the magazine aisle, so she opened a $1.39 bag of potato chips that was in the cart and ate some of them.
After 10 minutes, when she started feeling better, Hernandez said, she went to pay for the chips at the cosmetic counter (where she had been instructed to pay for store items) but no one was there. Hernandez put the potato chips under the counter at her cash register and returned to restocking items. She later paid for the chips when her cashier duties were finished.
Seems reasonable right? However, her manager sounds like he votes Republican.
An assistant store manager spotted the chips and asked whose they were. Hernandez said the chips were hers. The assistant manager reported Hernandez to the store manager for taking the chips.
After meeting with store management, Hernandez was suspended and then terminated for violating the store’s “anti-grazing” policy.
According to court testimony, Walgreens officials said the company incurs significant losses from employee theft, estimated at exceeding $350 million per year. In order to combat the problem, Walgreens has a strict policy against employee theft in the form of “grazing” — eating food merchandise without paying for it first — that applies to all employees.
The store manager testified he was “absolutely certain” about terminating Hernandez because she took the chips in violation of company policy, and that he believed there was no “gray area” or “discretion” under Walgreens’ policy.
You can read the details of the settlement here: America’s Largest Drug Store Chain to Pay $180,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – JDSupra
Drugstore giant Walgreens has agreed to pay $180,000 to a longtime employee with diabetes and to implement revised policies and training to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
Terminating a qualified employee because of a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The law also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship for the employer. After an investigation by EEOC investigator Carlos Rocha, and after attempting to resolve the case through pre-litigation conciliation efforts, the EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Walgreen Company, Case No. CV 11-04470) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
On Apr. 14, U.S. District Judge William Orrick noted that “Walgreen has failed to allege any misconduct that is unrelated to her disability,” and denied Walgreens’ motion for summary judgment. At this hearing, Walgreens’ own legal counsel acknowledged Hernandez as a long-term valued employee with a very good track record, and described her termination as a “harsh result” perceived by the EEOC as unfair.
“Not only was this harsh and unfair, but it was illegal, and that’s why the EEOC sued to correct this wrong,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. “People may think this case revolves around theft, but the real issue is how a company responded to a valued 18-year employee, whom it knew for 13 years to be diabetic, and who attempted to pay for the chips after she recovered from her hypoglycemic attack.”
Wow, good for Josefina! At last some good news about the “little” guy beating the big company assholes.
The rest of today’s links in dump fashion:
Tom Petty is stepping up to the mic:
Over in Britain they are asking why here in America are there so many Hot car deaths: The children left behind
Sticking with children for a bit longer.
The brown babies are getting a brown senator worked up: (But I guess Cuban is the “good” sort of brown?)
But hey, if the Christian right wing assholes aren’t trying to send the immigrant children back to the hell they are escaping, they are trying to save them from Hell by teaching them “Jesus” saves!
Fucking religious people piss me off.
And it works all ways:
This is something too:
On the “I don’t know karate, but I know…”…crazy front: BBC News – ‘Eighty new genes linked to schizophrenia’
And last bit of news, those off-shore wind farms are like an all you can eat buffet for seals: Seals forage at offshore wind farms
By using sophisticated GPS tracking to monitor seals’ every movement, researchers have shown for the first time that some individuals are repeatedly drawn to offshore wind farms and pipelines. Those man-made structures probably serve as artificial reefs and attractive hunting grounds, according to a study published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on July 21.
“I was shocked when I first saw the stunning grid pattern of a seal track around Sheringham Shoal,” an offshore wind farm in the United Kingdom, says Deborah Russell of the University of St Andrews. “You could see that the individual appeared to travel in straight lines between turbines, as if he was checking them out for potential prey and then stopping to forage at certain ones.”
Russell and her colleagues tagged harbor and gray seals on the British and Dutch coasts of the North Sea. Their data showed 11 harbor seals within two active wind farms, Alpha Ventus in Germany and Sheringham Shoal in the southeast UK. At both sites, some individual seals regularly entered the wind farms and, in some cases, showed these striking grid-like movement patterns as they appeared to forage at individual turbines.
The researchers also observed both gray and harbor seals associating with subsea pipelines. Two seals in the Netherlands encountered a section of pipeline and followed it on multiple trips for up to 10 days at a time.
There is a video illustration at the link.
The researchers now hope to continue their research to understand the population consequences of the massive planned developments. For instance, no one knows yet whether wind farms increase the total amount of prey available to seals or simply concentrate prey in a new and man-made location, making the prey particularly vulnerable to predation. The researchers say it will be imperative to resolve this uncertainty so that anthropogenic structures can be designed and managed to reduce adverse and increase any positive effects of these structures.
One newspaper from Dalton has the most up to date and thorough report of the assault since it was first reported. From the Dalton Daily Citizen: Charges pending against students in post-prom rape
The alleged rape of a 18-year-old female high school student the Saturday night of May 10 or 11 is being investigated by Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office detectives and the district attorney’s office, Sheriff Stacy Nicholson said Monday. The incident at 20 Edgewater Drive in Coosawattee River Resort primarily involved older teenagers from Calhoun High School who traveled here after their high school prom — and brought plenty of alcohol with them.
A student from Southeast Whitfield High School was also involved, Nicholson confirmed. The parents of one of the Calhoun students own the cabin, according to a sheriff’s office release.
The article continues,
The GBI crime lab is examining evidence from a sexual assault exam kit that includes DNA sampling, Nicholson said. An incident report defines what is alleged to have happened as “strongarm rape.” Three Calhoun High males and the Southeast male student are listed as suspects in the report.
“There was enough alcohol there to float a canoe down the Coosawattee River,” Nicholson said.
“Right at 27 kids came over here (to Ellijay),” he continued. “It doesn’t look like it was planned to be that big a party, (and) there is some evidence her parents didn’t know it was going to be that big — it was supposed to be 6 to 8 girls — there was maybe one or two that were not drinking. The next day the victim, who had some injuries, was taken by her family to the Calhoun hospital, but they were not set up to do the sexual assault exam and she was brought to North Georgia Medical Center.”
The first week after the incident was spent by investigators interviewing the kids involved, he said, with more follow-up interviews this week.
“At this point we have taken some evidence that is being examined by the GBI and their crime lab, and we’re waiting for results,” Nicholson explained. “My detectives and I have had multiple discussions about this case, and with the district attorney. We’ve got help from the DA’s investigators and limited assistance of the GBI in interviewing folks. We want to wait until our forensics come back before we do anything more. No arrests have been made but several are pending.”
He said charges could range from the sexual assault itself to “numerous people” lying to investigators and underage alcohol consumption.
Nicholson was asked if he knew where the alcohol was obtained.
“No, and that’s not the main focus, but it certainly is a focus,” he replied. “It appears that that can’t be linked to one person or the owners of the cabin solely. It looks like there were just a whole host of people that attended the party and brought alcohol.”
The cabin looks as though it belongs to a female student, at least that is what this next paragraph alludes to regarding how the students got into the gated community:
“You can pretty much get through those gates if you have the address and lot number, and I’m sure the girl (whose parents own the cabin) said these cars are going to be with me,” he said.
Property owners “must arrange for any person(s) entry to the (Coosawattee River Resort Association) in advance and must be responsible for that person(s),” the resort’s rules and regulations state.
The Sheriff discussed the investigation as “difficult” but it is encouraging to know that there is charging pending. After so long a period of silence…this was all the investigators needed to say.
“Number one, you’ve got a bunch of teenagers, and secondly, they were drinking moderately to heavily — and a lot of their memories are not clear,” he explained. “So we’ve had to wade through the muddy, vague waters to piece together the story. It’s been like a jigsaw puzzle. What I see here is a group of decent kids who were celebrating a milestone in their lives, and they threw alcohol in the mix. They were completely unattended by any adult supervision whatsoever, and a really bad thing has happened.”
Nicholson said after listening to a three-hour interview of the alleged victim and seeing the evidence, he was “disturbed.”
Does he think the evidence will be returned before Calhoun High’s graduation Friday night?
“A rush request has been made by the district attorney’s office, but I’d be afraid to say,” he replied. “The (Calhoun) superintendent has asked me if I can officially give her the suspects’ names. She’s extremely concerned about graduation, about what kind of riot or circus that may turn into. But that’s for her and Gordon (County) and Calhoun to deal with … I don’t think we’ll be making an arrest by Friday.”
Nicholson said an “insinuation” has been made against his department during the investigation.
“It came completely out of the blue, that we are not looking at this hard because the victim may or may not have ingested alcohol,” he shared. “I can tell you that that’s absolutely not the truth. There are legal hurdles we have to be able to jump (to provide evidence to prosecutors), and we’re making every effort we can make to jump those hurdles. It is my intention, as it stands right now, to arrest the three individuals that are responsible for this assault.”
At any rate, it is good to know that things are moving along. I hope the graduation goes well, rumors have it that the victim will be attending.
The only other new information I have found is that according to one news report:
The police report lists the victim and five witnesses, willing to initially step forward and talk about what happened.
Still no information about the Southeast Whitfield High student that is supposedly a suspect. Will he be allowed to walk at his graduation ceremony? Guess we shall see. I will keep you in the loop.
The rest of the links just here in dump fashion (Key word being “dump”):
The turtle won his primary:
Hey Ralph, check it out:
From the Black Agenda Report:
Some serious concerns for nuke power plants:
And this headline alone is something I could not resist, here is where the “dump” part comes in:
Ah, Portland. Stumptown police responded over the weekend to a call that a “pirate” was attacking a woman’s car; they arrived to find not a pirate but a man claiming to be an evil-slaying elf, who was promptly arrested.
A woman who had stopped her car at an early morning traffic light in Northeast Portland (figures) said a man ran out from the side of the street, dressed in chain mail and brandishing a sword and shield, and began assaulting her car.
Konrad Bass told authorities he was “high-elf engaged in battle with the evil Morgoth.” After being shuttled to a nearby hospital, he admitted to taking LSD, which explains a good deal of this post. Bass was charged with “criminal mischief,” but not before striking a blow for whatever his cause: the woman’s car now has several sword slashes on its side.
Consider this an open thread.
Happy Mother’s Day
This is that special Sunday in May when we celebrate the mothers…so for all of those baby’s mamas out there who read the blog, let me wish you a happy day.
So take a few minutes and watch this Mother’s Day short…..Foghorn Leghorn: ▶ Mother was a Rooster – Video Dailymotion
Foghorn Leghorn is sound asleep when the barnyard dog places an ostrich egg beside him for a gag. When Foghorn awakes and sees the egg, he thinks he’s its mother! The egg hatches to reveal an easily embarrassed baby ostrich that Foghorn regards as his son. The dog insults the ostrich repeatedly, causing him to bury his head in the ground. So, to protect his son’s honor, Foghorn challenges the dog to a boxing match.
Okay….Let us start the post out with news that our Sister Sun has been found…and in honor of that bit of astrological news, all the images today will feature the color yellow.
From The Atlantic: Our Sun Has a Sister
Our longest-standing and most deeply held myths have so often revolved around the sun in large part because we humans have revolved around the sun. That distant sphere of glowing gas has been, to us fragile creatures, warmth and light and life itself. It has, we now know, been the center of everything we’ve known. No wonder we’ve assumed it was divine.
Which makes news just coming out of the University of Texas at Austin—soon to be reported in The Astrophysical Journal—particularly monumental. Our familiar star, it turns out, is not unique. Our sun has a sibling—a sister-star that almost certainly originated from the same cloud of gas and dust as our own shining orb.
Sounds amazing doesn’t it?
That sibling? A star with the deceptively dull name of HD 162826. Said star is 15 percent more massive than our sun, and located 110 light-years away from us (in the constellation Hercules, which is, appropriately, un-dully named). We can’t see the sun’s sister unaided, but even a set of low-power binoculars reveals HD 162826 to human eyes. It’s situated near (well, relatively near) the bright star of Vega.
The discovery was made by team of researchers led by the UT astronomer Ivan Ramirez, with help from several groups around the world. Using a combination of chemical analysis (high-resolution spectroscopy) and information about the stars’ orbits (their “dynamics”), the team created a list of solar-sibling candidates that included 30 stars. Using information provided by telescopes at both the McDonald Observatory in Texas and the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, they narrowed the field. In the end, there was one that matched our sun.
More from Science Daily: Astronomers find sun’s ‘long-lost brother,’ pave way for family reunion
“We want to know where we were born,” Ramirez said. “If we can figure out in what part of the galaxy the Sun formed, we can constrain conditions on the early solar system. That could help us understand why we are here.”
Additionally, there is a chance, “small, but not zero,” Ramirez said, that these solar sibling stars could host planets that harbor life. In their earliest days within their birth cluster, he explains, collisions could have knocked chunks off of planets, and these fragments could have travelled between solar systems, and perhaps even may have been responsible for bringing primitive life to Earth. Or, fragments from Earth could have transported life to planets orbiting solar siblings. “So it could be argued that solar siblings are key candidates in the search for extraterrestrial life,” Ramirez said.
While the finding of a single solar sibling is intriguing, Ramirez points out that the project has a larger purpose: to create a road map for how to identify solar siblings, in preparation for the flood of data expected soon from surveys like Gaia.
“The idea is that the Sun was born in a cluster with a thousand or a hundred thousand stars. This cluster, which formed more than 4.5 billion years ago, has since broken up,” he says. “A lot of things can happen in that amount of time.” The member stars have broken off into their own orbits around the galactic center, taking them to different parts of the Milky Way today. A few, like HD 162826, are still nearby. Others are much farther afield.
You can read more involved details about how they came about figuring this whole thing out at the links above. The Science Daily is more technical. Funny how that blog highlights the find as a “brother sun” and the Atlantic article, written by a woman, dubs it a “sister sun.”
I have some distressing linkage up next, stories that deal with assholes of varying degrees…so if you are in a joyous mood, you should skip the next few paragraphs. At least until you see a few stars in the left margin.
Many of you may have already heard of the ridiculous shit the Bundy militia was up to yesterday:
An illegal all-terrain vehicle (ATV) ride planned this weekend through Recapture Canyon in Utah is the latest flashpoint between anti-government activists and federal land managers. The illegal ride is already drawing criticism from the Navajo Nation, putting American Indian burial sites and cultural resources at risk, and has even forced the cancellation of a traditional Navajo Warrior welcome home ceremony for veterans.
Yet San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman (R-UT) and his supporters appear determined to defy federal law by riding their ATVs through Recapture Canyon, an area of southeast Utah known as a “mini-Mesa Verde” because it contains one of the highest densities of archaeological sites in the country.
According to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a network of right-wing elected officials, organizations, and prominent commentators share Mr. Bundy’s anti-government views and are advancing proposals to seize or sell-off federal public lands in eight Western states.
This network of so-called ‘Bundy’s Buddies’ includes the Koch-funded organization Americans for Prosperity, U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful Rand Paul (R-KY), Utah Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), and Utah State Representative Ken Ivory. Ivory leads the American Lands Council — a group dedicated to advocating for the seizure of federal lands.
A new website from the Center for Western Priorities, BundysBuddies.org, identifies additional elected officials who share the anti-government views of Bundy and Lyman.
Hundreds of activists seeking to directly challenge federal control of swathes of territory in the U.S. West on Saturday drove dozens of all-terrain vehicles into protected land in Utah that is home to Native American artifacts and where such journeys are banned.
The ride into Recapture Canyon, which comes amid heightened political tensions, is a protest against indecision by federal land managers on whether to reopen canyon trails to recreational vehicle use after more than seven years of study.
About 300 people rallied at a nearby park before dozens of people, some of them armed with guns, set off in about 60 ATVs down a closed-off trail, which winds through red rock desert. The local sheriff had armed officers on horseback monitoring the protest.
The dispute is the latest squabble between conservative states’ rights advocates in Utah and across the West, who want to take back millions of acres of public land over which federal agencies have authority. More than 60 percent of Utah’s land is under federal control.
The canyon in the Four Corners region of Utah is home to the ruins of ancient dwellings and other cultural resources of Ancestral Puebloans. The Bureau of Land Management closed the area in 2007 after an illegally constructed trail was found and some artifact sites were damaged.
Geez these assholes are a threat to society. As Tommy Christopher reports for The Daily Banter, the townspeople are still waiting for support from their sheriff…because the militia is still harassing the towns residents. Nevada Sheriff ‘Currently Looking Into’ Reports Of Bundy Ranch Militia Harassing Townfolk | The Daily Banter
In other asshole news here is one that is somehow surprising: Former George Zimmerman defender now says he was guilty, racially profiled black men
A former friend and neighbor of George Zimmerman, who had previously defended the man accused of stalking and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, has had a change of heart, stating that he believes that Zimmerman got away with murder.
Frank Taafe, who served on the neighborhood watch with Zimmerman, told News13 he believes Martin was racially profiled by Zimmerman and would not have been followed if he “had been a white kid on a cell phone.”
“What I know of George and his tendencies and also my opinion is that he racially profiled Trayvon Martin that night because if that had been a white kid on a cell phone, walking through our neighborhood, he wouldn’t have stayed on him the way he did and that’s a fact and I believe that in my heart,” said Taaffe.
According to Taafe, recent tragedies in his own life made him reconsider his opinion and feel the need to apologize for his earlier stalwart defense of Zimmerman .
“I can only ask for the country to forgive me and today I believe that he racially profiled him based on the color of his skin. Reporter: Some people may wonder what does Frank Taaffe have to gain by doing this?” Taffe explained. “Are you working on a book? No book. A TV show? No. I’m just working on me right now and getting right with God.”
Taafe also expressed his condolences to Trayvon Martin’s parents, saying, “I’m sorry that you lost your son, I know what that’s like and I wish things had been different.”
Oh yeah, but get this shit:
The marriage may be legal but the suspected premarital sex was not, authorities said on Saturday after arresting a 41-year-old Houston-area drama teacher for the alleged sexual assault of a child, his 16-year-old wife.
Ilich Guardiola, who also works as a voice actor in Japanese animations, was pulled over in a traffic stop in the Houston suburb of Spring Valley last month and later questioned about his relationship with the teen riding with him, police said.
Shortly after the incident, Guardiola married the teenager, who has not been identified, in Las Vegas with the approval of her mother, who witnessed the wedding.
Police said there is circumstantial evidence that the two engaged in a sexual relationship prior to legal marriage.
“The marriage is absolutely legal. We received a copy of the marriage certificate,” said Gary Finkelman of the Spring Valley Police Department.
Guardiola was arrested on Thursday at his Houston-area apartment for violating a Texas law that forbids sex with a child, regardless of the child’s consent. A child is defined as a person under 17 years of age.
Any state where the marriage of a 41 year old man to a 16-year-old is “legal” has to be fucked up to begin with, the other part of that article (the alleged sexual assault) goes without saying.
In another Texas fuck up: ‘Friday Night Lights’ school in Texas embroiled in sex scandals | Reuters
The school behind the book, movie and TV series “Friday Night Lights” has become mired in scandal with five staff members investigated for suspected sexual relations with students, including a teacher who died this week, a likely suicide.
Mark Lampman, 47, resigned as a government teacher on Tuesday from Permian High School in Odessa after the school in western Texas received an anonymous tip about an improper relationship between him and a student, school officials said.
“When they questioned him, that’s when he turned in his resignation and left,” district spokesman Mike Adkins said.
Lampman is the fifth staff member to be accused in the last year of having an inappropriate relationship with a student. One of those employees was later cleared of wrongdoing, school officials said.
In April 2013, a Permian swim coach and a trainer resigned and were later indicted on charges of improper relations between educator and student. Last month, a Permian employee also resigned amid claims made by parents to school district police of an inappropriate relationship with a student.
The staff members were not immediately available for comment.
It is disgusting. Yeah, the school district says they are “looking into it” but it seems like things are just getting looked over to me. (You can read the rest of the article yourself and make your own decision.)
Oh, and not to shit all over Texas, but if it fits: Houston Authorities Searching For ‘Serial Defecator’
Deputies with the Harris County Precinct One Constable’s Office say a man has been terrorizing a neighborhood in the Woodland Heights area of Houston by going to the bathroom in several yards at night.
“We’ve had reports from six to eight neighbors out there that someone is actually coming into their yard and defecating — generally on their driveways,” said Sgt. J.C. Mosier.
Authorities believe the unknown man is committing the act between 1:00 and 4:00 a.m., but a motive for crimes has not yet been established.
“I think the neighbors are laughing about it, but that’s because it’s only happened to two houses in the neighborhood. If it starts happening more, I think people might become enraged,” says Amy, who lives in the Heights. “How much poop can one man make though?”
She says one person’s house has even been hit as many as six times.
“I’m thinking revenge poop is definitely a possibility. We’re all wondering, what did this person who’s having the creep-crapper hit their house repeatedly do?”
Sgt. Mosier agrees that revenge could be the motive, as he recalls a similar event many years ago in the Houston area.
Now we move on to this shit: Rape allegations against Oregon basketball players roil campus – Los Angeles Times
A few key points,
- 3 players named as suspects in sexual assault dismissed from Oregon basketball team, though never charged
- Prosecutors decline to file sexual assault charges, but Oregon kicks three players off basketball team
- 1 freshman, 2 sophomores booted from @OregonMBB. University cites ‘profoundly disturbing’ police report
It looks like the US Executive Branch is not the only one who pays women less than men, via The Independent: Foreign Office pays female staff less than men
The figures follow the announcement by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond last week that women should be allowed to serve on the front line. Yet despite the attempts to achieve greater equality at the Ministry of Defence, it seems across Whitehall, however, the Foreign Office is struggling in the battle for parity between the sexes.
Nice to know that kind of sexism is seen equally on both sides of the pond./snark
Michael Sam was picked by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the NFL draft Saturday, becoming the first openly gay player drafted by a pro football team.
“Thank you to the St. Louis Rams and the whole city of St. Louis. I’m using every ounce of this to achieve greatness!!” Sam tweeted moments after he was picked, with a picture of himself wearing a Rams cap and a pink polo shirt.
The impact of Sam’s selection goes far beyond football. At a time when gay marriage is gaining acceptance among Americans, Sam’s entry into the NFL is a huge step toward the integration of gay men into professional team sports. Pro sports have in many ways lagged behind the rest of society in acceptance.
Isn’t that a fucking good bit of news. This was neat trivia too:
Michael Sam made history on Saturday by become the first openly gay athlete ever to be drafted by an NFL team. There had been some doubt as to whether or not Sam would be drafted at all, but with the eighth-to-last pick in the 2014 NFL Draft’s seventh and final round, the St. Louis Rams selected the University of Missouri star. It was an historic moment made even more so by the remarkable video footage of Sam finding out he’d made the cut, which you can view below.
Two links on transgender up next. One about Cuba…New Photobook Documents the Travails of Transgender Cubans | Mother Jones
Of all the allies in the global fight for LGBT equality, Cuba may be the most unlikely. For decades, the island was notorious for its crackdown on “social deviants”—an underclass that included homosexuals, transgender people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and anyone critical of the Castro regime. The 1960s were especially bleak. Deemed unfit for the revolution, gay Cubans were banned from joining the military or becoming teachers. Thousands were confined to isolated labor camps. Conditions deteriorated further in the ’80s and ’90s as Cuba quarantined HIV-positive citizens, many of whom were gay.
Mariette Pathy Allen’s new photobook, TransCuba (Daylight Books), captures a country slowly outgrowing its history of persecution. Shot in 2012 and 2013, the book is haunted by the trauma inflicted by Fidel Castro’s government. But it is optimistic about life under his brother, Raúl, who assumed the presidency in 2008. Since the change in power, Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health has approved state-funded sex reassignment surgery, and the government has relaxed many discriminatory policies targeting sexual orientation and gender. In 2012, Adela Hernández became the country’s first openly transgender person elected to public office. Perhaps most shockingly, in a 2010 interview with the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, Fidel Castro called his decision to imprison homosexuals in the 1960’s “a great injustice…I’m not going to place the blame on others,” Castro said, “We had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life or death.”
Despite its progressive reforms, Cuba continues to have serious problems, particularly with transgender rights. “I see transgender Cubans as a metaphor for Cuba itself: people living between genders in a country moving between doctrines,” Allen writes. The women she documents are grateful for the increasing tolerance, but they still suffer from entrenched stigmas.
And one about the new singing sensation out of Europe: A Bearded Drag Queen Just Won The Eurovision Song Contest
Austrian bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst won the 59th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday with a James Bond-inspired entry that had unleashed a wave of protests in eastern Europe before the competition.
The power ballad, “Rise Like a Phoenix,” helped Wurst — the alter ego of 25-year-old Thomas Neuwirth — secure Austria’s second victory in the competition with 290 points. The country also won in 1966.
“This is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom,” a tearful Wurst said as she accepted the trophy from Denmark’s Emmelie de Forrest, who won the contest last year. “We are unity.”
You can listens to her performance here:
Amid growing tensions over the Ukraine crisis, some in Eastern Europe have blasted Wurst as an example of the West’s decadence. Activists in Belarus had even urged the country’s state television network to bypass the live broadcasting rules by the organizers and edit the Austrian entry out of its Eurovision transmission.
After her victory, Wurst told reporters she hopes gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people around the world are getting stronger in their fight for human rights.
Asked if she had anything to say to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who introduced a law last year prohibiting so-called gay “propaganda,” Wurst said, “I don’t know if he is watching this now, but if so, I’ll say it: ‘We’re unstoppable.'”
In Vienna, the Austrian capital, fans who had gathered at one of the public viewing parties chanted “Conchita” ecstatically after the victory. Some had painted on fake beards in support.
I love it! Good for her!
And now a few links in dump fashion…
I don’t think we will ever get to identify all those remains. The ghost from that day will haunt us forever. Well, they haunt me, that is for sure.
This next audio story and picture gallery is about people who hunt ghost for a living: Looking for Gauteng’s Ghosts
Men and women don uniforms and carry their high technology to abandoned houses, hospitals and bars in search of the lost souls of the dead.
And when we think about something from the past haunting us…I am sure this man had that feeling for most of his life: Secret service agent in iconic LBJ photos dies – The Washington Post
Thomas “Lem” Johns, a former secret service agent present during the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and swearing in of Lyndon Johnson, has died. He was 88.
Lem Johns is pictured in iconic photos from Nov. 22, 1963 aboard the presidential plane where Johnson was sworn in. One photo shows Johns standing behind former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy as Johnson consoles her following the oath of office.
Johns was assigned to Johnson’s security detail at the time of the shooting and was riding in the motorcade when the shots were fired.
Those are some heavy duty images to see in a photograph, imagine having them imprinted in your memories…
So, here is something to think about: A Hard Sell to Tame a Name in Spain
CASTRILLO MATAJUDÍOS, Spain — To outsiders, it might seem obvious that the time has come, or long passed, to change the name of a village that evokes one of the darkest chapters of Spain’s history.
But the mayor of Castrillo Matajudíos — roughly, Little Hill Fort of Jew Killers — is having a tough time persuading the 56 registered inhabitants of this sleepy village to vote on May 25 to adopt a different name and finally eradicate a link to the persecution of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition.
Read about the fascinating history of how this town got its name at the link, you may be surprised.
As with everything else, things get bigger with age: Super-Sizing Movie Monsters, Ctd « The Dish
You can read about that graphic at the link too.
Hey lawyers: Stop misusing the phrase “Hobson’s choice.” Please, Suits & Sentences begs this of you.
On Thursday, during health-care law arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, attorney Robert Joseph Muise several times employed the phrase. Each time, he used it to mean an impossibly tough choice; specifically, that facing religious employers who must either provide contraceptive coverage to workers or pay a fee.
“That is a Hobson’s choice,” Muise told the three-judge panel.
No, it’s not.
A Hobson’s choice, unless its meaning has been totally remade by constant misuse, refers to something that’s not a choice at all. As explained here:
“ Thomas Hobson (1545–1631) ran a thriving carrier and horse rental business in Cambridge, England, around the turn of the 17th century. Hobson rented out horses, mainly to Cambridge University students, but refused to hire them out other than in the order he chose. The choice his customers were given was ‘this or none;’ quite literally, not their choice but Hobson’s choice.”
So…on May 22nd, at 11pm, TCM will be playing Hobson’s Choice. It really is a delightful movie, directed by David Lean. Watch it, you will love it! There is a good article about the film here: Hobson’s Choice (1954) – Articles – TCM.com
Ah, a bit of history for you: Did the Vikings reach Madeira?
New research about mice on Madeira suggests that the Vikings may have visited the Atlantic island 400 years before it was colonized.
In an article published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the research team from the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (Imedea) in Majorca and the University of La Laguna analyzed the bones of two mice skeletons found in dunes on the eastern edge of the island. Radiocarbon tests on the second skeleton revealed that the mouse lived from 903–1036 AD.
Reproductive organs throughout the animal kingdom are just about the craziest thing that’s ever been described in scientific literature. Did you know, for example, that female ducks have complex vaginas that coil in the opposite direction of males’ equally complex penises, allowing them to thwart attempts at forced copulation? Or that the penises of particularly lucky species of crane fly function as vibrators? Or, for that matter, that the human female clitoris is about the size of a medium zucchini — and sports more nerve endings than the penis?
Something for the film buffs, behind the scene pictures of: William Friedkin on set of “The Exorcist” « Kinoimages.com
Artsy fartsy link now: Over 300 Years Ago, An Artist Created And Documented Every Color You Can Think Of
Thanks to Pantone, the contemporary authority on all things color, we have a way of documenting the chromatic flow — all 2,100 hues it’s gleaned from the visible ends of the rainbow. But artists have been recording the depths of color for much longer than Pantone’s lifespan, mixing and melding pigments to create the violets, turquoises and ambers we ogle in art history books.
One such artist was A. Boogert, a man who created a massive manual on color nearly three centuries before Pantone ever came into being. Back in 1692, he crafted around 800 pages of handwritten and hand-painted pages under the title “Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau.” Written in Dutch, the treatise was a painstaking trek through the tints and shades of every color you can think of. It was, as This Is Colossal speculates, probably the most informative color guide of its time.
You can see the entire book online here.
Oh and fabulous Hillary news: Congratulations to Dr. Chelsea Clinton and Happy Mothers’ Day to Hillary Clinton | Still4Hill
And we will end this post with a Mother’s Day link video: Watch 100-Year-Old Moms Share Advice on Motherhood
For these moms, all 100 years or older, motherhood has a lot of meanings. The women talk about everything—from how it felt to find out they were going to be moms to the heartbreak of sending their children off to war.
The video, courtesy of Mashable in honor of the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day, asks what it means to be a mother. “Strength,” says Sadie Adler, triumphantly. “Listen to your children and treat them as a grown up,” she advises. Connie Isaacs has another great idea about how to parent. “Let your kids do what they want to do,” she says, laughing.
Happy Mother’s Day! Enjoy your special day!
It has been a busy week…Bebe has her first official boyfriend, that means she went on an official date where he drove and everything.
So you can see why I have been a little distracted.
All this back and forth reminded me of this old skit from Saturday Night Live, that aired on March 30, 1985.
I saw this episode live when it aired all those years ago and one of the lines remained in the back of my mind…I quote it quite frequently. In fact, I used it on Bebe to find out her relationship status just a few hours ago.
Here is a description of the scene with a couple of photos I could find, it sucks there is no video clip available.
Number one: Fin-de-Siecle Prison Homosexuality. As I recall, the title of the bit when it aired was Shame Of The Prisons. Martin Short plays a terrified new prisoner named Percival, and his cellmate is the threatening Jim Belushi. Belushi doesn’t ravage him immediately, because he says, “I can’t have you until The Bull has had you.”
Guest plays The Bull as a gallant Gaylord Ravenal sort of character, and the first date is just a walk in the moonlight, with genteel idle chit-chat, until The Bull finally turns and asks “Percy? I must know this. Will you wear my ring… and be my bitch?”
Short goes back to his cell and he and Belushi start acting like high school girls, thrilled to discuss the particulars of a date.
Bold quote is my emphasis, and actually I believe what Guest says to Short is “Will you wear my pin… and be my bitch?” Which goes along with the old fashioned idea of short getting “pinned” by the Bull…it was funny as hell.
I tried so long to find pictures of just that set-up. Like that first image up top, but no luck. The rest of the illustrations are various couples. Meh…
Ah…now we will just move on to the links for this morning’s post. They start with the South and move through child rearing to fruit and hand-baskets. Hopefully the stories will be new to you…
This first link should be introduced with the joke…if your local Waffle House is held up by a man in overalls wielding a pitchfork…you might be a redneck. Man accused of robbing Waffle House with pitchfork
He’s accused of using a weapon to force Waffle House employees into the back of a restaurant so he could steal money.
But it’s the weapon he used that really caught witnesses’ attention. The suspect was carrying a pitchfork.
The suspect, identified as Jeffrey Willard Wooten, 50, was wearing coveralls and a ski mask when he entered the Buford Highway breakfast eatery Thursday night, according to Norcross police. After forcing employees into a back room, Wooten went after cash, police said.
“When he realized he couldn’t get the cash register open, he took the whole cash register and exited the store . . with his pitchfork,” Norcross police Chief Warren Summers told Channel 2 Action News.
Outside of the Waffle House, Wooten allegedly dropped his pitchfork, according to police. But he held on to the cash register.
Two restaurant employees than grabbed the pitchfork and used it to smash the back window of Wooten’s truck, police said. Wooten may have been injured while attempting to leave the restaurant.
“It wouldn’t be an offensive weapon in your garden, but it was in a Waffle House,” Summers said.
It also is a deadly weapon when used during riots in Transylvania.
But if that seems crazy to you, then you ain’t seen nothing yet. Y’all ready for a WTF moment? Alabama’s chief justice: Buddha didn’t create us so First Amendment only protects Christians
Speaking at the Pastor for Life Luncheon, which was sponsored by Pro-Life Mississippi, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court declared that the First Amendment only applies to Christians because “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures” who created us.
“They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship,” he continued. “Let’s get real, let’s go back and learn our history. Let’s stop playing games.”
He then noted that he loves talking to lawyers, because he is a lawyer who went to “a secular law school,” so he knows that “in the law, [talking about God] just isn’t politically correct.” He claimed that this is why America has “lost its way,” and that he would be publishing a pamphlet “this week, maybe next” that contained copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, thereby proving that all the people “who found this nation — black, white, all people, all religions, all faiths” knew that America was “about God.”
Chief Justice Moore later defined “life” via Blackstone’s Law — a book that American lawyers have “sadly forgotten” — as beginning when “the baby kicks.” “Today,” he said, “our courts say it’s not alive ’til the head comes out.”
“Now,” he continued, “if technology’s supposed to increase our knowledge, how did we become so stupid?” Discussing Thomas Jefferson’s use of “life” in the Declaration of Independence, he said that “when [Jefferson] put ‘life’ in there, it was in the womb — we know it begins at conception. Why aren’t we going the right way instead of the wrong way?”
He later said the “pursuit of happiness” meant following God’s law, because “you can’t be happy unless you follow God’s law, and if you follow God’s law, you can’t help but be happy.”
The Center for Disease Control house found that 900,000 people a year die of five leading causes every year in the US, and that 20% to 40% of these deaths are preventable (i.e. 180,000 to 360,000 needn’t die). The five are heart disease, cancer, lung disease, stroke and unintentional injury. Smoking cigarettes contributes to several of them.
What is striking is that the preventable diseases occur at a much higher rate in the Deep South than in the rest of the country, especially in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. AJC.com notes that only 2% of Oregon’s heart attacks are considered to be “preventable” by the CDC, but 58 percent of Mississippi’s are.
Graphs and picture goodies at the link, plus lots more, so go read it.
More news and “stuff” after the jump.