What can I say, I’ve got lots of links for you tonight that should make you shake your head in disgust. Geez, I don’t know where to begin!
Guess I will start with the White Power thing…College Student Crusades For White Student Union, Says ‘White Culture Is Dying’ (VIDEO)
21-year-old Matt Heimbach is making headlines for attempting to launch a White Student Union at Towson University near Baltimore, MD. Raw Story reports that the chunky campus whacktivist keeps whining about how “white culture is dying,” while “every other single group has a union — Jewish, black. Why don’t white students get equal treatment?”
Heimbach even has the nerve complain that “we live on a campus where there is discrimination against whites,” because of his school’s affirmative action programs. This, in spite of the facts that 2010 US Census data shows that the city of Baltimore. MD is 63.6% black, while Towson University’s student body is 68% white, according to Forbes Magazine. Heimbach’s persecution complex may also have something to do with the faculty advisor who backed out of his previous “Youth for Western Civilization” group, because it promoted “a supremacist kind of agenda,” according to the university’s Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs for Diversity Victor Collins.
Hmmmm, I bet this dude Heimbach says things like, I am not a white supremacist, but I play one on the weekends. Check out the photo here:
What, ME racist? But I’ve got a black friend, see? And my man just LOVES a man in (confederate) uniform. Photo from Matt Heimbach’s Twitter profile, which describes him as a member of “Maryland League of the South, member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and proud defender of liberty.” Heimback swears he’s not a white supremacist, but sounds an awful lot like one.
Okay then…anyway, more on this story:
Campus groups require a faculty advisor in order to be officially recognized by the university. Given the angry student petitions circulating, and Heimbach’s previous group’s habit of inviting “racial realism” proponent Jared Taylor to speak, official recognition for the new group is unlikely to be forthcoming.
Meanwhile, The Huffington Post’s Mark Hanrahan describes Heimbach’s recent appearance on a HuffPost Live panel hosted by Marc Lamont Hill with other guests, Taylor, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Lecia Brooks; Harvard student Julian Lewis; and Lehigh University Professor James Peterson. Hembach argued that there is “an inherent anti-white bias in academia,” and that whites should be allowed to “organize for their own best interest.” Brooks cogently objected that the difference between Heimbach’s group and other cultural groups is that Heimback seeks to “defend what you think you are losing. Whereas people of color or other marginalized groups organize around a common interest.”
I’ve seen this kind of crap before, the part about White culture and the line about Jewish and Black students having their own organizations. On the Banjoville local forum, written by the KKK assholes who held their pathetic rally here in October.
In other “civil waresque” news, you know all the talk of succession. One Quarter Of Republicans Want To Secede Oh please, by all means…and don’t let the door hit your racist ass on the way out!
Did any of you catch the Melissa Harris-Perry show this weekend? I really thought her comment on the latest “stand your ground” killing of a black unarmed teen in Florida was very much on point: ‘This Is No Country for Young Black Men’
MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry says that the killing of Jordan Davis is not the killing of Trayvon Martin or Emmett Till, but a sad reminder that in America, “They need not wield a weapon to pose a threat. Because, if you are a young, black man, who you are is threat enough.”
There is one solution to this…at least according to Ross Douchehat: Ross Douthat would like you to have more babies
Unless you are a single woman, of course. Oh and also if you don’t have babies, you’re being “decadent” and you don’t care about the future or the very fabric of society:
But deeper forces than the financial crisis may keep American fertility rates depressed. Foreign-born birthrates will probably gradually recover from their current nadir, but with fertility in decline across Mexico and Latin America, it isn’t clear that the United States can continue to rely heavily on immigrant birthrates to help drive population growth.
Among the native-born working class, meanwhile, there was a retreat from child rearing even before the Great Recession hit. For Americans without college degrees, economic instability and a shortage of marriageable men seem to be furthering two trends in tandem: more women are having children out of wedlock, and fewer are raising families at all.
Read more at the link, Jill from Feminist has a great response to Douthat.
Also from Jill, another story via Feminist: UN Disability Treaty Fails in Senate Because of “Pro-Life” Senators
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was put up for a vote in the U.S. Senate today, and despite being largely uncontroversial, it failed. Why? Pro-lifers.
And, of course, the usual right-wing suspects who don’t understand how treaties and international law work. The convention lists, among many others, reproductive rights for people with disabilities, which pro-lifers obviously take issue with. But as far as I can tell from this press conference, they’re even more concerned with the fact that the treaty would apply the “best interests of the child” standard, which pro-lifers say impedes “family sovereignty.” Rick Santorum says he finds it “troubling” that the convention has a special section for children with disabilities.
I am so sick of all these a-holes. More at the link.
And one last crazy loon going on a major rant, Ted Nugent is at it again, and the Washington Times have given him space to say his usual shit. Fortunately, Little Green Footballs has taken the time to read Nugent’s column, so we don’t have to. Little Green Footballs – Ted Nugent: If You’re on Welfare You Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Vote
Today at the Washington Times, Ted Nugent has emerged again from his ammo bunker with one of his typically freakish rants. Years ago, Nugent’s wild man act used to be amusing, but now it’s devolved into pure right wing hateful ugliness as he advocates “slaughtering” Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and prohibiting citizens on welfare from voting.
Let’s end on an up note…since the words “sacred cow” are being tossed around.
This is an open thread.
Every time I see anything having to do with Mitt Romney, it feels like we’ve time tripped back to some awful period in the past where women don’t have access to the pill unless they live in certain states and are married, where black people are no where to be seen on TV and they can’t vote without facing extreme tests and poll taxes, and where GLBT have been shoved back in the closet.
We’re getting voter suppression by the GOP that’s horrifying. I expect to see people being hosed in the streets again for trying to eat in public places. This election just has been really bringing out the worst in a lot of people and by that I basically mean white Republican people. Here’s a story from Virginia that’s shocking. A 31 year old white male of GOP persuasion was caught throwing away voter registrations for democrats.
The Rockingham County Sheriff’s office has arrested a Pennsylvania man and charged him with attempting to throw away filled out voter registration forms.
Colin Small, 31 year old male from Phoenixville, PA has been charged with 8 felonies and 5 misdemeanors in connection with the controversy. He is employed by Pinpoint, a company that was hired by the Republican Party of Virginia to help with voter registration.
UPDATE: The Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins released the following statement in reaction to the arrest of Small:
“We were alarmed by allegations recently made regarding an individual in Harrisonburg. The actions taken by this individual are a direct contradiction of both his training and explicit instructions given to him. The Republican Party of Virginia will not tolerate any action by any person that could threaten the integrity of our electoral process.
The individual in question was fired immediately after we learned of his alleged actions. We are grateful to the local sheriff’s office and Registrar for acting so quickly to protect our democratic process and will fully cooperate with any requests made by them. However, since there is currently an investigation underway, we will refrain from any further comments until they have concluded their inquiry. “
Not surprisingly, democratic bloggers are on fire with this news tonight. The initial scuttle came from Ben Tribbet at Not Larry Sabato, who with help discovered Small’s LinkedIn pagewhich says he is a current employee of the Republican National Committee.
Arizona’s Maricopa county listed the wrong date in the Spanish version of voter registration cards, a development likely to further complicate tense relations between local authorities and Latino residents.
The county’s elections office says it mailed out nearly 2 million new voter registration cards. Only about 50 of the cards — handed out over-the-counter at its offices — had the error, it said.
Instead of November 6, the Spanish translation said the election would take place on November 8.
“The program has been updated so it reflects the correct dates in both English and Spanish,” the county said in a statement.
A local rights group said the damage has already been done.
“It’s a mistake that should not have happened,” Petra Falcon, the executive director of Promise Arizona in Action, told CNN affiliate KNXV-TV. “To know that there’s information out there that’s wrong, it’s going to take a lot of work to make sure that people know the correct date.”
Promise Arizona describes itself as “a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding civic participation in Arizona, particularly among Latinos and youth.”
County officials and local Hispanics have long had an adversarial relationship, particularly over the subject of illegal immigration.
Those disputes have landed in court.
“I can remember the good old days, when there were all men in my department, and we didn’t have these problems!” a male manager complains to his boss. ”You didn’t have the production output you’ve got now either!” the boss counters. Through this anecdote, the McGraw-Hill instructional film below sets out to teach male managers how to “cope” with female employees.
Long before anyone was slinging binders full of women, men were forced to accept female coworkers out of sheer need. Women joining the workforce during World War II seems to have spawned a cottage industry in educational material about gender and work. Don’t miss this 1944 gem, Supervising Women Workers, or this manual of management tips.
“Look Brad, you’ve got a new bearings inspector who happens to be a woman. You need someone, and there isn’t a man available. It seems to me that whether the gal ads up to trouble or not is pretty much up to you,” the boss explains at the end of the film. Brad is in for an attitude adjustment. He arches an eyebrow but says nothing.
Go look at the film and see if you don’t see a few Romney men wandering around.
The one thing you won’t find is any Romney men wandering around the military. They have their own special form of “service”. Here’s Queen Ann talking about the princes and their public service (i.e. harassing people to become mormon) on the view.
The wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Thursday said that her husband and sons had not joined the U.S. military but had found “different ways of serving” by going onreligious missions in France, England, Australia and Chile as part of their obligation to the Mormon church.
During an interview on ABC’s The View, co-host Whoopi Goldberg asked Ann Romney how she would explain to the families of fallen soldiers why her husband and sons had not served their country.
“When I read about your husband, what I had read — and maybe you can correct this — is that the reason he didn’t serve in Vietnam was because it was against the religion,” Goldberg said.
“That’s not correct,” Ann Romney insisted. “He was serving his mission, and my five sons have also served missions. None served in the military, but I do have one son that feels that he’s giving back to his country in a significant way where he is now a doctor and he is taking care of veterans.”
“So, you know, we find different ways of serving,” she added. “And my husband and my five boys did serve missions, did not serve in the military.”
The candidate’s wife explained that Mormon missions were like military service in that “you’re going outside of yourself, you’re working and you’re helping others. And it changes you. And are we so grateful in this country for those people — men and women — that are volunteering, they’re sacrificing their life for us, and we cannot forget that or we have to acknowledge that always.”
Yup, irritating people with religious spiels is akin to fighting wars abroad. At least it is the weird world of the Romneys. Joe Walsh inhabits that world too.
Republican Rep. Joe Walsh, running against Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, told reporters Thursday night that there should be no abortion exception for the “life of the mother” because “with modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance” in which a woman would actually die, according to a radio station. Walsh, of course, is flat wrong.
“There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing,” Walsh continued. The comments were first reported by the Illinois radio station WGN.
“There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology,” Walsh said, according to the video above. CREDO superPAC, which is opposing Walsh, tipped HuffPost to the comments.
You should hear Dr. Daughter go off on this. She delivers babies every day and is seeing an increasing number of high risk pregnancies due to obesity and mothers than come in that are already diabetic and have blood pressure issues from obesity. Of course, most of the women are also on medicare or are unable to get medicare because of their status so their babies tend to be born compromised. But hey, Joe says no one dies any more because science won’t let them.
Yes, there’s some weird Stepford wife reality going on there in Republican land.
It’s really hard to know these guys come up with this crap, isn’t it?
I still can’t believe that Dr. Jill Stein and her running mate were subject to arrest and detention for basically showing up at the debates the other night. Amy Goodman has interviewed the two. Nothing like shutting out alternatives to the two party political duopoly.
I interviewed Stein the day after the debate, after their imprisonment (which ended, not surprisingly, not long after the debate ended). She told me: “We are on the ballot for 85 percent of voters. Americans deserve to know what their choices are. The police said they were only doing job. I said, ‘This is about everyone’s jobs, whether we can afford health care, whether students will be indentured.’ There are critical issues left out of the debate. Ninety million voters are predicted to stay home and vote with their feet that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney represent them. That’s twice as many voters than expected for either of them.”
Even if Stein and Honkala hadn’t been hauled off a public street and handcuffed to those chairs for eight hours, Stein’s exclusion from the debate was certain. The debates are very closely controlled by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which excludes third-party candidates, among other things. George Farah is the founder and executive director of Open Debates, and author of “No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates.” Farah told me on the morning of the Hofstra debate about how the CPD gained control over the debates from the nonpartisan League of Women Voters: “We have a private corporation that was created by the Republican and Democratic parties called the Commission on Presidential Debates. It seized control of the presidential debates precisely because the League was independent, precisely because this women’s organization had the guts to stand up to the candidates that the major parties had nominated.”
Okay, so I’ve had it with all things Republican this election. What about you? And, what’s on your reading and blogging list this today?
So, I read this: “Your Women Are Oppressed, But Ours Are Awesome”: How Nicholas Kristof And Half The Sky Use Women Against Each Other.
Now, it’s got me thinking about being part of the problem instead of supporting my goal to be part of the solution.
The idea is that these types of programs seem to be gender activism but are portrayed in a way that is supportive of western patriarchal imperialism. Okay, I just sounded like some kind’ve Marxist Feminist but it’s not all that cut and dried. Let me try to explain. These programs are akin to the idea of poverty porn. I understand this because of how I felt watching people in tour buses gawk at my hurricane ravaged ninth ward neighborhood with their voyeuristic tut-tutting over the state of the damage and the slow recovery. Big deal. Now, they’ve seen it. Does this change anything? I just felt like some kind of passive object that made them think,” wow, glad that’s not me”. It’s not a great feeling to be looked at like some kind of victim even when it’s the “oh, look, she’s doing something about it” vibe you get from them.
I’m one of the people that is highly concerned about the way the world treats women and girls. Please note “the world” includes “the United States”. This country is horrid to women and girls. It becomes worse with every elected Republican and DINO. I’ve also been extremely pissed at the way many so-called women and humanity friendly sites seem to shred other cultures’ treatment of women with sadistic, xenophobic, and high hatted-glee. Should there really be a ruler for misogyny and oppression that lets us pull the ruler out on others to make us feel better about the treatment of women and girls here? Do you really think we don’t have sex trafficking here in the US? Do you think we don’t support a rape culture or encourage mutilation of women through plastic surgery or extreme dieting?
I’ve never been able to clearly express it, but, I hate this concept of ”Look at how horrible these (fill in the blank) foreigners treat women” given we’ve got the likes of a Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney running for our highest offices and the Republican party has pretty much been over run by misogynists and religious fanatics. Is there some kind of smug self-satisfaction people get by telling themselves that at least “We don’t (fill in the blank) to women here”? The recent spate of superiority hissy fits mostly applies to Arab/Muslim religions but it carries farther than that. Do we really need to measure which country treats it’s child brides worse or isn’t it enough to see the entire practice any where is abhorrent and should be ended? It happens to Catholic girls in Belize, Hindu girls in India, Protestant girls in Kentucky, and Muslim girls in Nigeria. Do we have to slice and dice their suffering by religion, country, or continent?
So, let me quote some of this essay. It deserves consideration.
There are plenty of critiques I could make of Kristof’s reporting (in this film and beyond, see this great round-up of critiques for more). Critiques about voyeurism and exotification: the way that global gender violence gets made pornographic, akin to what has been in other contexts called “poverty porn.”
For example, would Kristof, a middle-aged male reporter, so blithely ask a 14-year-old U.S. rape survivor to describe her experiences in front of cameras, her family, and other onlookers? Would he sit smilingly in a European woman’s house asking her to describe the state of her genitals to him? Yet, somehow, the fact that the rape survivor is from Sierra Leone and that the woman being asked about her genital cutting is from Somaliland, seems to make this behavior acceptable in Kristof’s book. And more importantly, the goal of such exhibition is unclear. What is the viewer supposed to receive–other than titillation and a sense of “oh, we’re so lucky, those women’s lives are so bad”?
Makes you think doesn’t it? The article is written by Sayantani DasGupta who teaches at Columbia University.
The issue of agency is also paramount. In the graduate seminar I teach on Narrative, Health, and Social Justice in the Master’s Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University, I often ask my students to evaluate a text’s ethical stance by asking themselves–“whose story is it?” For example, are people of color acting or being acted upon? Although the film does highlight fantastic on-the-ground activists such as maternal-health activist Edna Adan of Somaliland, the point of entry–the people with whom we, the (presumably) Western watchers, are supposed to identify–are Kristof and his actress sidekick-du-jour.
In fact, many have critiqued Kristof for his repeated focus on himself as “liberator” of oppressed women.
This theme then carries over to the idea of imperialism so omnipresent in western, white male cultures. It creates a rescue theme and it justifies the idea that superior white men can go rescue oppressed women by any means including drones that murder them and their children and define them as collateral damage.
Although a few passing comments are made about rape, coerced sex work, and other gender-based violence existing everywhere in the world–including in the U.S., hello?!–the point that is consistently reiterated in the film is that gender oppression is “worse” in “these countries”–that it is a part of “their culture.” In fact, at one point, on the issue of female genital cutting, Kristof tells actress Diane Lane, “That may be [their] culture, but it’s also a pretty lousy aspect of culture.”
There’s nothing that smacks more of “us and them” talk than these sorts of statements about “their culture.” Postcultural critic Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak, in fact, coined the term “white men saving brown women from brown men” to describe the imperialist use of women’s oppression as justification for political aggression.
Spivak was writing about British bans of widow burning and child marriage in India to make her point, we can see the reflections of this dynamic is the way that the US has justified wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as missions to “free Islamic women from the Veil.” (For a fantastic critique of this rationale, see Lila Abu-Lughod’s “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?“) According to Spivak, this trope of “white men rescuing brown women from brown men” becomes used to justify the imperialist project of “white man” over “brown man.”
And this formulation is consistent, pretty much across the board, with the film. White/Western dwelling men and women highlight the suffering, as well as local activism, of brown and black women. Brown and black men are portrayed consistently as violent, incompetent, uncaring or, in fact, invisible. And it’s only a small leap to realize that such formulations–of countries incapable of or unwilling to care for “their” women–only reinforce rather than undermine global patriarchy, while justifying paternalization, intervention–and even invasion of these “lesser” places–by the countries of the Global North.
So, the argument here is not that speaking out against violence and oppression is bad. It’s the argument of what are you doing when you try to speak for others. That isn’t empowerment of women. It also frequently is used to support the goals of patriarchies as they vie with each other for power.
As feminist philosopher Linda Martín Alcoff argues in her essay “The Problem Of Speaking For Others,” that part of the problem of speaking for others is that none of us can transcend our social and cultural location: “The practice of privileged persons speaking for or on behalf of less privileged persons has actually resulted (in many cases) in increasing or reinforcing the oppression of the group spoken for,” she writes.
So, take a look at the photo above. It was part of the narrative of the essay. Does it make you feel oh, so, good about the way we treat our women compared to the Taliban? I saw this photo elseblogs and on Facebook. It actually creeped me out. I found it less empowering of women pilots for many reasons. Why didn’t my gut tell me to feel all so superior?
First, look at the implication of the words “OURS” and “YOURS”. These words indicate possessions right? OUR women? YOUR women?
Second, let’s think about the actual life experience of women in the U.S. military where rape isn’t just something you think about on your way to your parked care in the night. These women are subjected to some pretty high powered sexism and risk rape by their fellow soldiers in a high powered rape culture. Then, let’s also think about how these women can’t control their reproductive decisions because the congress refuses to let them make their own decisions about abortion. Get raped, sweetie? Remember, Paul Ryan says that’s just another form of conception for those lovely little beans that prove his gonads work!
From the first link and The Guardian we learn:
A new documentary by director Kirby Dick, The Invisible War, about systemic rape of women in the military and the retaliations and coverups victims face, has won awards in many film festivals, and recently even triggered congressional response. The examples of what happens to women soldiers who are raped in the military are stunning, both in the violence that these often young women face, and in the viciousness they encounter after attacks.
Yes, “our” women can fly planes in the military but they are also subjected to sexual assault, cover-ups, and poor treatment. This is from the second link above at Jezebel. Yes, “our” women can fly planes in the military but we’re not going to give them coverage of abortion services because “our” men in congress want them to goosestep to “their” beliefs.
The military reported 471 rapes of servicemembers in 2011, but the real number is probably higher, since the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office estimates that only about 13.5 percent of all rapes and sexual assaults in the military are actually reported. Several hundred women in the military become pregnant as a result of rape each year. Despite these statistics, the 200,000+ women serving on active duty are often prohibited from getting abortions in military health centers — even if they’re willing to use their own money — because it makes some conservative politicians at home feel all icky.
Yes, current Pentagon policy is even more restrictive than the 1976 Hyde Amendment, which prohibited federal funds from being used to provide abortion services except in cases of rape, incest, and endangerment of women’s life. The Department of Defense only provides abortion coverage if the life of the mother is at stake; if she’s raped but can survive giving birth, her right to choose essentially goes out the window. If she still wants an abortion, the military might generously allow her to pay for the service with her own money, but only if she can prove she was raped — which is extremely difficult to do, especially within a few months. Without a stamp of rape-approval from the higher-ups, servicewomen (including military spouses and dependents) have to venture off-base for services or fly all of the way back to the United States, all to assuage the fears of politicians — the majority of whom, it’s safe to say, are not overseas fighting for their country — that the government would be “endorsing” abortion if military facilities granted women the same rights they have back home.
Feel all warm and smug about not living among the Taliban now? I’m ignoring all the coverage we’ve given all year to the likes of Todd Akin who probably would use more biblical punishments for women, gays, and lesbians if he thought he could get away with it. Who doesn’t think that ol’ Todd secretly hopes some one blows up the local planned parenthood and takes out some doctors and nurses in the process? Does lusting in his heart for right to life violence count? Surely, we can honestly attest to the fact that we have some extremely sick religious extremists of our own. I wonder if the Swedes would like to come do a documentary on how women in the US are so far down the ranks of gender equality that we maybe deserve rescue too?
So, anyway, this made me think. What does it make you think?
Then last night we had a candlelight vigil for my friend Derrick, who was killed last year. That was both upsetting and emotional…
So I’m writing this post blind, and hope that these links are not repeats for ya.
The latest news out of Chicago: Thousands Gather in Support of Chicago Teachers
the first teacher strike this city has seen in 25 years, a rally — not quite victory party, not quite vitriolic protest — was roaring just miles away.
Thousands of people, the largest celebration of union force since the strike began nearly a week ago, shook homemade protest signs in the air and wore the signature red T-shirts of the Chicago Teachers Union as they descended on Union Park, just west of downtown. The city skyline rose behind a stage from which a lineup of politicians, teachers, students and activists spoke about union strength and the need for better school conditions in the city.
They may be close to an agreement, or at least getting down to the nitty gritty, according to the Chicago Tribune: Teacher rally as lawyers labor over details
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis becomes emotional Saturday as she greets supporters at a rally at Union Park. (Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune / September 15, 2012)
Thousands of teachers from Chicago and beyond rallied at a Near West Side park Saturday as lawyers labored into the night at a Loop office to turn a framework for a new contract into finer points that can become a deal.
Parents can expect to wait until Sunday afternoon or later to find out whether their children will return to class Monday morning after missing a week of school because of the Chicago Teachers Union strike. Hundreds of union leaders are supposed to meet Sunday for a potential vote that could end the walkout.
While attorneys talked terms in private, the Saturday afternoon rally was filled with very public symbolism. Out-of-state teachers traveled to Union Park in solidarity with a city teachers union that has attracted national attention as organized labor looks for lessons in a fight with cash-strapped government.
After last night’s vigil, we went to eat at one of the local chicken joints…and Fox news was blazing away on the big screens. By the looks of all those “Fox News alerts” something big was going on. Via HuffPo US orders some diplomats out of Sudan, Tunisia
The State Department on Saturday ordered the departure of all family members and non-essential U.S. government personnel from its embassies in Sudan and Tunisia and warned U.S. citizens against any travel to the two countries due to security concerns over rising anti-American violence.
“Given the security situation in Tunis and Khartoum, the State Department has ordered the departure of all family members and non-emergency personnel from both posts, and issued parallel travel warnings to American citizens,” said department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
In Tunisia, the warning advised Americans that the international airport in Tunis is open and encouraged all U.S. citizens to depart on commercial flights. It said Americans who chose to remain in Tunisia should use extreme caution and avoid demonstrations. On Friday, protesters climbed the walls into the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, torching cars in the parking lot, trashing the entrance building and setting fire to a gym and a neighboring American school that is now unusable.
In Sudan, the warning said that while the Sudanese government has taken steps to limit the activities of terrorist groups, some remain and have threatened to attack Western interests. The terrorist threat level remains “critical” throughout Sudan, the department said. It noted that U.S. officials are already required to travel in armored vehicles and to get permission to travel outside Khartoum, where crowds torched part of the German Embassy and tried to storm the U.S. Embassy on Friday.
They are reporting some holdup in deploying the Marines because of the Sudan Government.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton worked the phones on Saturday, calling top officials from seven countries to discuss the situation following a wave of protest and violence over an anti-Muslim film that has swept across the Middle East and elsewhere in recent days. An obscure, amateurish movie called “Innocence of Muslims” that depicts Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a pedophile sparked the outrage.
I will post some updates in the comments below, it seems things are not cooling off any time soon.
The rest of today’s links will be on the human interest side. Mars has been in the news a lot this week, check it out, from Geekosystem:
While Curiosity has been getting a lot of well-deserved attention lately, it’s worth remembering that everyone’s favorite rover isn’t the only one doing cool stuff with Mars. When it’s not getting some glamour shots of its ground-based cousin, the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter (MRO) is still finding out all sorts of neat things about our nearest sibling in the solar system, like confirming the suspicion that Mars has instances in which it snows dry ice — carbon dioxide that has frozen at temperatures below -193 degrees Fahrenheit.
The super-cold snowfall takes place at the Martian poles, where solid dry ice has been known to exist for some time. It has never been observed as falling snow, though, so its origins, though suspected, remained uncertain. Not anymore, though. Analysis of clouds of CO2 imaged by the MRO in the Martian winter of 2006-2007 demonstrates that in addition to familiar, hydrogen dioxide snow, which was seen on the planet in 2008 by the Phoenix lander, the red planet gets snowstorms of frozen carbon dioxide.
Also, from Mars, this time from the Opportunity Rover:
The above picture may not look like much, but it could be a huge deal. The photograph, taken by the Opportunity Rover at Mars’ Cape York site, shows iron spherules that researchers commonly refer to as “blueberries.” Similar formations are found here on Earth. The catch is that, here, they are formed with help from microbial organisms, suggesting that these unassuming iron marbles could be a telltale sign of ancient life on the red planet.
Typically just a couple millimeters across, iron blueberries are a pretty standard part of the Martian landscape, found on the ground of the Cape York site where Opportunity is doing its research or embedded in rock. They bear a distinct resemblance to the “Moqui marbles” found around the American southwest. Ranging in size rom BB pellets to cannonballs, Moqui marbles are not unlike geological M&Ms, consisting of a thin iron shell filled will sand.
A study published earlier this month in the journal Geology found strong evidence that the marbles are not a purely geological oddity, but were formed with an assist from microbes. That finding is a strong suggestion that the Moqui marbles’ Martian cousins may be a good candidate for indicators that Mars once sustained microbial life.
It looks like coral to me.
This next history, archeology, science link is really interesting…King Tut Death: Epilepsy Killed Boy King Tutankhamun, New Theory Suggests Wow, as someone who suffers from epilepsy, it is strange to see how they have developed this new theory.
A British surgeon is touting a new theory regarding what killed King Tut, the Egyptian pharaoh who died at 19 and whose life and death have fascinated the public since his tomb was discovered in 1922.
People have attributed the cause of death to murder, a fall from a chariot that led to a fractured leg and even a hippopotamus attack. But according to Hutan Ashrafian, a surgeon at Imperial College London, Tut suffered from a hereditary form of epilepsy, the Washington Post reports.
Ashrafian said Tut’s supposed feminine features — the king has been depicted in statues and renderings as having had breasts and wide hips — are signs that he had a form of epilepsy that affects the temporal lobe, which is known to be involved with hormone release. The disease might be to blame for Tut’s death in addition to the deaths of several of his predecessors who died at young ages, Ashrafian claims.
Ashrafian also points to King Tut’s broken thigh bone, which he argues may have come from a fall during a seizure. The religious hallucinations Tut and his predecessors reportedly experienced were further evidence of the disease, Ashrafian told the Post, citing that seizures starting in the temporal lobe can result in such visions after sunlight exposure. The doctor reportedly came to these conclusions after reviewing family history of the king.
DNA studies have show that Tut suffered from malaria and a bone disorder that comes from inbreeding. (I could make a comment out Banjoville, but I won’t.)
Since the chests of both Tut and his father were missing, the researchers couldn’t definitively say whether or not Tut and his father had feminine features, which could suggest the presence of a genetic disorder.
However, the scientists noted that the mummies didn’t have signs of gynecomastia or Marfan syndrome, conditions that would result in the development of breasts in males. Some researchers theorized that representations of Tut and his father with breasts could reflect the belief that gods were androgynous.
According to Discovery News, however, German researchers later disputed the conclusions, instead suggesting that abnormalities in Tut’s foot were indicative of sickle-cell disease.
In 2005, researchers ruled out the murder theory after conducting CAT scans. They concluded that a bone fragment found Tut’s skull was from the mummification process rather than a blow to the head.
With the conclusion of that article I have to post this:
Yes, it is a link to Steve Martin’s performance on SNL back in the seventies….
On to another cool dude, this time he is not wearing “jammies” he is sporting a bow tie, I am talking of course about Dr. Who…this American Prospect article by Amanda Marcotte discusses women on the new Dr. Who series: Bowties Are Cool, but So Are Kickass Female Characters
(AP Photo/ Donald Traill)
Actors Matt Smith and Karen Gillian are seen on location filming “Doctor Who” in New York on Wednesday, April 11, 2012.
For fans of the BBC’s reboot of the long-running sci-fi series Doctor Who, the beginning of season seven this September has a lot on offer so far: The Doctor in full badass hero form, a new potential sexy genius Companion, dinosaurs on spaceships, and Daleks, the villains that have been fan favorites since nearly the beginning of the series.
I wasn’t so crazy about the last remake, that doctor was too good looking and not “geeky” enough. I guess that is why I like the BBC’s latest version. But as Marcotte points out, the role of women on the show is stereotypical female. The show is getting pushed into a new direction from Steven Moffat who took over the show this season.
has doubled down on tinkering with the show to make it more appealing to mainstream audiences. To do so, he decided to turn down the volume on sci-fi cheese and inject more story lines about love, family, and romance. While this idea appeals in the abstract to many feminists who want the world of sci-fi and fantasy to stop being so decidedly dudely, many feminists have strong objections to how Moffat went about it. His strategy was to take the Doctor’s new companion, a character role on the show that is traditionally all about wide-eyed curiosity and boundless courage, and turn her story line into one about getting married and having babies.
Ever since Amy Pond first set foot onscreen, feminist fans have complained that Moffat created a fun character, gave the role to off-the-charts charming actress Karen Gillan, and then turned her into a passive object whose main job is to be married off to her simpering boyfriend Rory Williams. To make it worse, the relationship fits neatly into what feminists have deemed the “nice guy” narrative: That if a man hangs in long enough and shows enough devotion, a woman is pretty much obliged to be with him, even if her heart isn’t in it. Last year, Sady Doyle wrote the definitive piece detailing feminist objections to any and all stories about the Pond marriage:
The moment the Doctor found out about Rory, the importance of time-traveling adventures decreased radically. Instead, the Doctor became a matchmaker and alien fairy godmother, single-mindedly devoted to making sure that Amy overcame her ambivalence about Rory and married him straight away. He referred to this process as “getting [Amy] sorted out.” From henceforth, both the Doctor and the show have been cramming every bony, whiny inch of Rory down our throats, in a doomed attempt to convince us that he is awesome.
Read the rest if you are a Dr. fan…or not. There needs to be some more kickass roles out there for women, obviously…no question about that, but I think you may find Marcotte’s take on the new female character interesting.
Finally, I hate spiders and snakes: Alien Snakes Help Spiders Overrun Guam
Yuk, this island is full of both!
he jungles of Guam have up to 40 times more spiders than do the forested areas of nearby Pacific islands thanks in part to the brown tree snake, according to a study published this week in the journal PLoS One.
The bird-devouring snake from northern Australia and nearby islands was introduced to Guam in the 1940s. The ravenous reptile became the dominant predator; bird numbers plummeted. By the 1980s, 10 of 12 native bird species had been wiped out, and the last two survive only in small areas, protected by intense snake-trapping.
Small-scale experiments show that areas without birds have more spiders – which makes sense, because birds eat spiders and the insects upon which spiders feed. But the sheer numbers of spiders found in Guam’s jungles were much greater than predicted by these small studies, suggesting the removal of birds from an entire forest can have unforeseen — and creepy — effects.
You can guess what those are, yes?
Study author Haldre Rogers, a researcher at Rice University in Houston, counted spiders throughout Guam’s jungles by counting spider webs (which correlate with spider population and are commonly used as a stand-in measurement).
The difference between the number of spiders Rogers and her colleagues counted on Guam and three nearby islands that still have birds “was far more dramatic than what any small-scale experiments had previously found,” she said in a statement from Rice.
“Anytime you have a reduction in insectivorous birds, the system will probably respond with an increase in spiders,” Rogers said. And she thinks this may be true elsewhere. “With insectivorous birds in decline in many places in the world, I suspect there has been a concurrent increase in spiders.”
That creeps me out, but it does lead me to the title of today’s post.
So y’all have a wonderful day, and please share what you are reading and thinking about this morning.