Thursday Reads: The Boston Yeti, A Zombie Cat, and Other News

Yeti2

 Good Morning!!

The good news in my world is that a very nice man who lives across the street from me volunteered to shovel my car out yesterday. I had managed to clear my front porch steps and sidewalk, but I never could have finished the driveway by myself. I would have had to keep shoveling today. The bad news is that more snow is expected tonight and there’s a possibility of another big storm on Monday. But for today, I’m happy that I don’t have to shovel and I can get to the store and stock up on supplies before the next onslaught.

I’m a little bit punch drunk from the Blizzard of 2015 (which definitely wasn’t a “bust” in Massachusetts), so I hope you’ll forgive me for beginning with some lightweight stories today.

Did you hear about the Boston Yeti? As the blizzard ramped up on Tuesday night, the Associated Press reported sightings of a strange creature wandering around town, enjoying the snow.

BOSTON (AP) — The monster storm in Boston has brought with it another monster – a yeti.

The white, furry phantom has been getting laughs by walking through the blizzard in a sasquatch suit.

One was spotted in downtown Copley Square. Another was sighted trying to hail a cab in suburban Somerville.

New England Cable News reporter Tony Sabato tweeted a photo of the not-so-elusive creature. Above a snapshot of the yeti looking rather pensive, he wrote, “Found the yeti in the blizzard at Copley Square in Boston.”

From The Boston Globe: Boston Yeti on the loose during storm.

While the identity of the Boston Yeti remains unknown, the user behind this Twitter account appears to have created it on Monday ahead of the storm, amassing more than 4,700 followers by Tuesday evening. The hashtag#BostonYeti2015 took on a social life of its own as Twitter users reacted to Boston’s surprise monster of the storm.

With all of the city’s instructions to stay off the roads, the Boston Yeti didn’t appear to listen, at least in Somerville during the start of Juno. But this abominable snowman did seem to want fellow Bostonians to be careful, telling folks on Twitter that “BostonYeti2015 loves the snow, but wants everyone to be safe.”

Here’s one sighting of the Boston Yeti:

Who was this mysterious snow-lover who even showed up on Twitter? His identity has not yet been revealed, but Boston Magazine got an interview with him.  An except:

Where were you hiding before it started to snow?

Here and there. The woods, mainly.

What have you done in Boston since emerging?

Waving to kids, bustling through the snow showers. Trying to make as many people smile as possible….

Have you eaten anyone’s cat? We know you need nourishment.

I’m a vegan.

Have you shoveled at all for anyone?

Yes, two separate families that needed an extra claw…I mean, hand. They promised not to take my photo if I shoveled. I was more than happy to help….

What do you say to the people who think you’re nothing but a guy in a costume walking around? You know, the non-believers.

People will believe whatever they want. I know my existence has been debated for decades. In some ways it’s fun to think some don’t believe. All I can say is that I’m very real and love everyone—even those non-believers.

Okay, it’s a corny story, but anything that can make people laugh during a giant storm is a good thing in my mind. Those of us living inland need to keep in mind that for people along the coast this storm was no joke. Here’s just one scene of coastal flooding in the South Shore town of Scituate.

Winter Weather

Now another strange but heartwarming story from Tampa, Florida: the tale of a zombie cat. CNN reports: ‘Zombie cat’ presumed dead found alive five days after burial.

Bart, or “zombie cat” as the feline is now being referred to on social media, was discovered “unresponsive” by his owner last week lying in a pool of blood. His body was cold and his face was severely disfigured.

“If we’d seen that cat on the road, we’d assumed he was dead,” Nash McCuthchen with the Humane Society told CNN.

Bart’s owner, Ellis Hutson, along with the help of a neighbor, buried his beloved pet in his yard.

Five days later, a different neighbor found Bart walking in her yard, after he seemingly clawed his way out of the grave.

The neighbor returned the cat to Hutson, who called the Humane Society for help.

Bart was in bad shape, McCutchen said, with maggots covering open wounds on his body, and he had difficulty walking. The cat was dehydrated, his left eye ruined.

But remarkably, McCutchen said, the kitty had no internal injuries, making the Humane Society able to treat him. Bart had surgery Wednesday to remove his left eye and wire his jaw shut.

Bart prepares for surgery.

Bart prepares for surgery.

Amazingly, Bart is expected to fully recover from his injuries, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“He’s doing well,” said Sherry Silk, executive director of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, which is caring for the cat after a nearly two-hour operation Tuesday.

Nash McCutchen, the organization’s marketing coordinator, said Bart will recover with rest following a blood transfusion Wednesday afternoon.

“He’s been through a lot,” said McCutchen, who said a shelter cat will be donating the blood to get Bart back up to speed.

See some video of Bart at the link.

In other, more serious, news . . .

The battle between Democrats and House Speaker John Boehner over a scheduled speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been ramping up over the past week. The New York Times reports that the White House has signaled its “outrage” over the unauthorized invitation issued by Republican House leaders by harshly criticizing Israel’s Ambassador, Ron Dermer, for helping to  arrange the invitation.

Today Reuters reports: Pelosi says Netanyahu speech to Congress could hurt Iran talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled speech to the U.S. Congress in March could damage the Obama administration’s attempts to broker a deal with Iranon nuclear weapons development, the senior U.S. House of Representatives Democrat said on Wednesday.

“Such a presentation could send the wrong message in terms of giving diplomacy a chance,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi during a news conference on the sidelines of an annual retreat for Democratic lawmakers.

But Pelosi stopped short of saying that the invitation to Netanyahu should be withdrawn by House Speaker John Boehner.

Earlier this month Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of the House and Senate and the speech is scheduled for March 3, just two weeks before the Israeli leader stands for re-election on March 17.

Boehner, who did not consult with the White House before extending the invitation, has defended his surprise invitation.

A spokesman for Pelosi said she spoke by telephone on Wednesday with Netanyahu, but he did not provide further details.

Pelosi

Here’s some commentary on the controversy by Jonathan Chait: Why Benjamin Netanyahu Lost His Mind.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in one of his trademark gestures of narcissistic venality, decided to set up an address to the United States Congress without notifying the executive branch of the American government. The maneuver is so unusual that Netanyahu’s former ally and ambassador to the U.S. called on him to reverse course. Even Fox Newshas questioned him. Jeffrey Goldberg attempts to understand what Netanyahu might have been thinking. “Why doesn’t Netanyahu understand that alienating Democrats is not in the best interest of his country?” he asks. “From what I can tell, he doubts that Democrats are — or will be shortly —  a natural constituency for Israel, and he clearly believes that Obama is a genuine adversary.”

Netanyahu’s behavior might be best understood as the expression of a kind of apocalypticism that has always colored right-wing Zionist thought, but which has gained force over the last dozen years or so. Right-wing Zionists have grown increasingly convinced of a series of interconnected propositions: that Israel (or the Jewish people) faces an existential threat; that opposition to Israel is a pure function of anti-Semitism and therefore cannot be mollified; and that liberal Zionists are at best useless as allies and at worst detrimental to the cause of preserving Israel from the onslaught.

One obvious cause of the Zionist right’s deepening millennialism is Iran’s quest to obtain a nuclear weapon. In comparison with other military threats to Israel, right-wing and liberal Zionists think of this development in strikingly different terms. Moderates and liberals consider a nuclearized Iran a serious strategic problem. But they also consider military options useless to stop it, and further believe that a nuclear Iran can be deterred. (Kenneth Pollack, a former Clinton aide most famous as an Iraq hawk, has made the case for the possibility of deterring Iran.) In this view, Iran’s nuclear ambitions represent a threat to be avoided, if at all possible, with sanctions and covert sabotage. Conservative Zionists see the matter much more starkly. The Iranian nuclear program is an existential threat best understood in the context of the Holocaust denialism of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Read the rest at the link.

At The Hill, Brett Budowsky sees the Netanyahu invitation as just part of “The great GOP overreach.”

hillary-clinton

While Republicans bask in the glory of their victories in 2014 and continue their hyperpartisan onslaught in the new Congress, some early numbers should keep GOP strategists awake at night.

According to a recent ABC/Washington Post poll, Hillary Clinton would defeat Jeb Bush in 2016 by 13 percentage points. She would defeat Chris Christie by 13 points, Rand Paul by 13 and Mitt Romney by 15.

According to the summary of polling from Real Clear Politics, approval of the Republican Congress is barely 15 percent. Disapproval remains near 72 percent. Control of Congress means ownership of the vast unpopularity of Congress.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s popularity has risen significantly since November. The stage is set for Clinton to begin a 2016 campaign with a significant lead over GOP opponents and run against a highly unpopular Republican Congress.

Voters see Republicans overreaching and underachieving. They see the GOP repeating ritual attacks against Obama and Clinton as though the 2014 campaign never ended. They see Republicans moving to pass political bills they know will never be enacted, such as old attacks against ObamaCare, and opposing important bills voters do want enacted, such as immigration reform. They see the GOP stage phony hearings on Benghazi that are nothing more than taxpayer-financed attacks against Hillary Clinton.

There is a GOP distemper in Washington, an overreaching of aggressive tactics against Democrats and an underachievement of success in governing. The result? Obama rises in favorability, Clinton rises against Republicans.

Head over to The Hill to read the rest.

Two stories of injustices overturned.

Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander Released from Jail.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Marissa Alexander walked away from the Duval County courthouse Tuesday after a judge ruled she will not serve any additional jail time.

Judge James Daniel denied the State’s request for an additional two years of probation and ruled that Alexander will serve two years of house arrest while wearing an ankle monitor, an agreement reached in an November 2014 plea deal.

Alexander claims she fired a gun at her estranged husband, Rico Gray, in self-defense.

I thought she fired into the ceiling . . .

“Four and a half years have passed since the events of August 1, 2010, but today after the sentence imposed the Judge Daniel, my family and I will be able to move forward with out lives,” Alexander said during a meeting with the media in front of the courthouse.

“Although the journey has been long, and there have been many difficult moments, I could not have arrived here where I am today without the many thoughts and prayers of so many people who have voiced their support and encouragement,” Alexander said as she read from a prepared statement.

According to the terms of the plea, Alexander was ordered to serve three years in jail after pleading guilty to all three counts against her. Alexander will get credit for the 1,030 days she’s already spent in jail. However, the second count against Alexander is considered an ‘open plea,’ she could have been sentenced to five years in jail at the hearing.

friendship nine

‘Friendship Nine': Convictions Overturned For Famed Civil Rights Protesters.

More than a half-century after they were arrested and sentenced to hard labor for sitting at a whites-only lunch counter in South Carolina, a group of African-American student protesters known as the “Friendship Nine” had their convictions overturned and sentences vacated Wednesday.

The moment was met with applause and a standing ovation in the court room.

Circuit Court Judge John C. Hayes III made the ruling. “We cannot rewrite history, but we can right history,” the judge said. He then signed the order, and the prosecutor apologized to the men. Hayes is the nephew of the judge who sentenced the “Friendship Nine” to jail in 1961.

All eight surviving members of the “Friendship Nine” attended the morning hearing in a municipal courtroom in Rock Hill, South Carolina. They were represented in the hearing by Ernest A. Finney Jr., the same man who defended their case 54 years ago. He went on to become the first black chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court since Reconstruction.

The actions of the Friendship Nine established a strategy “breathed new life into the Civil Rights Movement,” according to the article.

These reversals are too little too late, but I guess we have to be grateful for any progress in these Republican-controlled times.

I have more links, but I’ll put them in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?


Wednesday Reads: History according to Lego and other things

5116b9018bff112970689c3d9157ac0b (1)Good Morning

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

e7a647c998afa3841b4466b2288f71a8And 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.

cf9c84490868a589aa2b87e5ad38672dI 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.c4583b144ba8bcad2c555720b7cfc100

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.

The second model, opened in 2013, was the Lego Acropolis, which featured buildings of ancient Athens peopled with historical Greek figures. It is now displayed at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

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.

b9cbb10ad2d15a817e44c0d13bac09d1Alright then, how about that Blizzard? Here’s some pictures for you:

16 Images to Illustrate the Blizzard of 2015 – Scientific American

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 Cityb1e0bc0dc37ce8abac82abbe0b4ab9d5 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.

 

Holy shit! I hope Boston Boomer and Pat, along with X and the rest of our Sky Dancing New England regulars…Sophie and…oh…I know I am missing some others too, are all doing okay this morning!a61ff5a45e146bf46ac0a26874a97a67

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:

8f4ee0d3ea03c4dd2131112f6d965d17National 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.

9a403543373ad0213d1e87763d4866e9So 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.  e96907b49653ca28d24ede22ef46fb92In 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?

Best images! Asteroid 2004 BL86, as it swept near Earth | Today’s Image | EarthSky

A video still of asteroid 2004 BL86 and its newly discovered moon from Goldstone Solar System Radar.  The image is from last night (January 25).  Image via Slooh.com.

A video still of asteroid 2004 BL86 and its newly discovered moon from Goldstone Solar System Radar. Image via Slooh.com.

46a3a41c379e657d458b0dd6c3bcbbd1Well…turns out the thing has it’s own moon!

Check this shit out:

Asteroid that flew past Earth on Monday has a moon! | Science Wire | EarthSky

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!

cde3bc59f08305a4960d464aff53632aVideo and more info at the links.

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.

ada6a7b045883973320c2fabe045b969Chinese company behind methanol plant in mostly black Louisiana town has come under fire for shirking health laws

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.

‘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.”

297757e9be0827b6e7a5f1944c11c44eThe 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.”

f23e3a57ddb5ed39a0039b5531581e92Take this from Charles Blow, it dealing with yet another polluted area of Louisiana, a Superfund site… Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant near where Blow’s relatives call home:

Inequality in the Air We Breathe? – NYTimes.com

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?

3885f12203ffd8ab775e508c93499c3bThis 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.

Koch Bros To Spend Nearly A Billion Buying The 2016 Elections | Informed Comment

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?

Domino’s Unleashes the Most Terrifying Print Ad in History

 

Domino's Unleashes the Most Terrifying Print Ad in History

 

WTF?

 

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.

tumblr_nht2apEAmj1u7apwpo2_r1_500

manuscriptbook:

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 904fe6f6198d33fe46a60189b543f8b4Troy, 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!

 

The-Knights-Who-Say-Ni-monty-python-and-the-holy-grail-591173_1008_566


Sunday Reads: Glad-hand, Glad-hands, Glad-handing, Glad-handed

109c537979d7b4f0d8d4aafcea5e3d0fGood Whatever it is…

Morning, Afternoon, Evening…ugh.

(That this post is getting published, finally, is something in itself. I don’t know why, lack of motivation or enthusiasm…)

The images for today are hands used in political posters. I’ve gotten them from  board on Pinterest:  Affiche/Main – Poster/Hand on Pinterest | 1352 Pins

For a discussion on the use and symbolism of the fist in propaganda, take a look at this article from Lincoln Cushing:

A brief history of the “clenched fist” image

91c28e614a91264f169a1af85c22b9b5A persistent symbol of resistance and unity, the clenched fist (or raised fist) is part of the broader genre of “hand” symbols that include the peace “V,” the forward-thrust-fist, and the clasped hands. The clenched fist usually appears in full frontal display showing all fingers and is occasionally integrated with other images such as a peace symbol or tool.

52e84740d35979ea0cc3ba968fd9393eThe human hand has been used in art from the very beginnings, starting with stunning examples in Neolithic cave paintings. Early examples of the fist in graphic art can be found at least as far back as 1917 [1], with another example from Mexico in 1948 [2]. Fist images, in some form, were used in numerous political graphic genres, including the French and Soviet revolutions, the United States Communist Party, and the Black Panther Party for Self-defense. However, these all followed an iconographic convention. The fist was always part of something – holding a tool or other symbol, part of an arm or human figure, or shown in action (smashing, etc.).

Then there are a few other articles to look at here:

AIGA | Not Your Grandparent’s Clenched Fist

fe3cd0687f66bd2eed6cbab59b98f7edThe fist of protest has its roots in the deep traditions of revolutionary imagery of 1848 and French Romantic painting. It became a staple of banners and logos of unions and political parties. Raised out of the crowd, the fist clenched in strength, anger and determination could serve groups of almost any ideological stripe.

If some of you have access to JSTOR: JSTOR: Journal of Design History, Vol. 13, No. 4 (2000), pp. 319-339

This article focuses on the use of graphic signs in the political struggle between the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and the German Communist Party during the 1920s. It first examines the Nazi swastika’s relationships to a new ‘abstract and primitive’ style of trademark design that emerged in Germany during the First World War and to a discussion during 1919-20 about the Weimar Republic’s new emblem.

a86b51eaef29aee46058766ba0e550b3As the NSDAP’s sign grew more prominent in public discourse, John Heartfield, who was trained as a graphic designer, sought to counter it through satire and emblems that he designed for the KPD. The most powerful of the latter were a series of images in 1928 based on photographs of workers’ hands, which drew both on past emblems of worker solidarity and recent Surrealist photography. The clenched fist soon stood opposite the swastika as signs of the violent political struggle between left and right that marked the last years of the Weimar Republic. The article explores how practices of commercial graphic design became instruments of mass politics during the 1920s.

To see more posters:

Propoganda Posters

A History of Graphic Design: Chapter 36 – Art of Posters for Films – the Cuban School

Political Posters | OMCA COLLECTIONS

1c5e5c711aca0415d076f89bbb68964cAnd for some articles on the actual use of hand gestures in political protest and such:

Choreography and Gesture Play an Important Role in Protests – NYTimes.com

“Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!”: Gesture, Choreography, and Protest in Ferguson – The Feminist Wire | The Feminist Wire

Thai protesters and The Hunger Games: what’s in a three-fingered salute? – Al Arabiya News

Opinion: Political Gestures « ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

 

I’ll connect the hand gestures to a situation that is getting heated in Egypt today.

What This Hand Gesture Means for Egypt’s Future – The Atlantic

Astute observers of recent pro-Morsi protests in Egypt will note a new symbol cropping up in photos of the protesting crowds: Demonstrators are now holding four fingers in the air. Many carry yellow posters emblazoned with the same gesture.

73d2c6da44e3092996deaafd43322ef5This new hand sign refers to the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, the site of a violent confrontation between Morsi’s followers and the Egyptian army. Reported deaths from the clash range from hundreds to thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters. In Arabic, “Rabba” means “four” or “the fourth;” hence the new Rabaa symbol.

The new hand sign is important because it signals both a conscious shift in the Muslim Brotherhood’s focus from a global audience to an Arabic one and a rejection of the ideals of the Arab Spring.

The Rabaa replaced a more recognizable sign in the Arab world: the two-fingered “V for Victory” salute, a gesture that transcends language and nationality. Many Americans know of the V as the peace sign after its widespread use by the anti-war and counterculture movements of the late 1960s and 1970s. Invented by the BBC in World War II as a pan-Allied propaganda campaign — think a cigar-smoking, pinstripe-wearing Winston Churchill flashing the V and a grin — the sign came to the Arab world when Yasser Arafat popularized it in 1969. To this day, Palestinians have exhibited a two-fingered V upon their release from Israeli jails, and the sign is well represented at rallies in Gaza.

 

cb6265adcef53757c1d8e03e4117dd48Alrighty then…

Now to the links for this Sunday:

A mess in Egypt as the anniversary of the revolution comes around:

Addicting Info – Egyptian Police Guns Down Female Journalist Carrying Flowers (IMAGES)

On the eve of the 4th anniversary of the Egypt’s 2011 uprising, which was part of the Arab Spring, and which ultimately forced the overthrow of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak, a female protester and reported journalist was shot by police near Tahir Square in Cairo.

d157e8b3abc8003fb47da8d1928df104Shaima Sabbagh was shot with birdshot as she was marching in remembrance of the Arab Spring and of the people killed during the revolution. She was shot at close range. Several people caught images of al-Sabbagh both before and after the shooting. Beware, they’re heartbreaking.  After Shaima was shot – her husband was arrested and their four-year-old son is without parents.

The AP is reporting 15 killed:

Egypt: 15 killed in clashes between Islamists, police – Houston Chronicle

However that number has risen according to Al-Jam:

Anniversary of Egypt’s revolution turns violent | Al Jazeera America

67c00cf24ef9941b3cba2301662d7bb0Thousands of Egyptian protesters chanted “down with the military and the regime” and “Interior Ministry are thugs” at a funeral on Sunday for a young mother and activist who was shot dead by security forces during a peaceful protest marking the fourth anniversary of Egypt’s Arab Spring revolution, according to local media reports.

Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, 32, was one of at least 20 people killed during protests over the weekend across Egypt, mainly in Cairo and Alexandria, commemorating the Jan. 25, 2011 ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak from office, according to the Ministry of Health.

The funeral took place in Alexandria, Sabbagh’s hometown, where activists remembered the slain protester as an advocate for labor rights and children, independent daily Al-Shorouk reported.

14a37e1b583dc3da96cabbd04de1fff6Sabbagh was among dozens of protesters marching on Saturday to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the revolution, to place wreaths of flowers there to commemorate more than 800 people killed during the 18 days of turmoil that sought to usher in a new era of democracy in Egypt.

Some disturbing images at those links.

This next link about the reaction to Boehner’s outright “fuck you” to the President and protocol: Addicting Info – Fox News Actually Expresses Shock And Outrage Over Boehner And Netanyahu Undermining President Obama (VIDEO)

On Friday, the world watched in disbelief as Fox News actually defended the honor and office of President Obama in the wake of Speaker Boehner violating US protocol by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak to Congress. In other news, pigs are flying.

0af590969a8654b197947327cb7a8b51During a segment on Fox, host Shepard Smith discussed the scandal with fellow host Chris Wallace, and both men were absolutely shocked and outraged by the actions of the top Republican in the House of Representatives.

On Wednesday, Boehner announced that he invited Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress. The problem is that Boehner did this without clearing the invitation with the White House, which is protocol.

“The protocol would suggest that the leader of one country would contact the leader of another country when he’s traveling there. This particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol,” said press secretary Josh Earnest.

760c844314c8385c125a4f9d51851022Furthermore, Netanyahu is specifically going to speak to Congress in an effort to trash Obama’s foreign policy in a deliberate attempt to wreck US nuclear negotiations with Iran, negotiations which a majority of Americans support.

You see, President Obama wants to use diplomacy to ease tensions between Iran, Israel, and the United States. That means securing an agreement that prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapon while allowing them to use nuclear power as another source of energy in the Middle Eastern nation. But Republicans are literally trying to sabotage these efforts by seeking more harsh sanctions against Iran, which would be seen an act of American aggression at a time when the State Department and White House are seeking mutual peace.

97209ff809bcf7377f8fa4c9f1393590Since the announcement, Beohner and Republicans have felt a major backlash. But the last place they thought they’d receive outrage from, if at all, is Fox News. Well, that shipped sailed on Friday.

Well, I would not go so far as to call this completely shocking, as it was Shep who called Boehner out. Y’all know he is the Black Sheep of the network.

For more on Israel, not just the Boehner invite.

Netanyahu defends planned Congress speech as anti-Iran strategy | Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended on Sunday a planned speech to the U.S. Congress about Iran, saying he had a moral obligation to speak out on an issue that poses a mortal threat to Israel.

61d1ba5498797554a1ef60ef050b354cHis visit to Washington in March has opened up a rift with the White House and has drawn accusations in Israel that Netanyahu is undermining the country’s core foreign alliance in an effort to win an election due two weeks after the trip.

Briefing his cabinet on the March 3 speech to a joint meeting of Congress, Netanyahu said his priority was to urge the United States and other powers not to negotiate an Iranian nuclear deal that might endanger Israel.

Suzie Madrak makes a huge point here:

» Blog Archive » ‘We’ll pay non-Jews to leave Israel’

Gee, when people offered to send slaves back to Africa, we called that racist.

98ec75fc6b4a08e7c95b31a67c4a4df9Addicting Info – Israeli Soldier Posed With Palestinian Woman For PR Photo, Then Shot Her In The Head (IMAGES)

And flowing into this news:

Jewish outrage as ship named after SS war criminal arrives in Europe | World news | The Guardian

Leaders of Jewish communities and Holocaust memorial groups in Britain and the Netherlands have reacted with rage and despair at the arrival in Rotterdam of the world’s biggest ship, the Pieter Schelte, named after a Dutch officer in the Waffen-SS.

6032f4f401f6f4568273c0a951ecb88dThe vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, said: “Naming such a ship after an SS officer who was convicted of war crimes is an insult to the millions who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis. We urge the ship’s owners to reconsider and rename the ship after someone more appropriate.”

Esther Voet, director of the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (Cidi), based in The Hague, said that the timing of the ship’s arrival, shortly before Jews were targeted and killed in Paris and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, was “a coincidence, I’m sure, but a sign of the times. We lost our battle to have the ship’s name changed, and we are left eating dust.”

0dc5ee5688693816623e388bddf4daa2Survivors of the Holocaust in Britain also spoke out. Ruth Barnett, a tireless campaigner who arrived from Nazi Germany as part of the Kindertransport, said: “I am outraged by the intensity and extent of denial and indifference that fails to challenge things like this ship, and allows the impunity for perpetrators to think they can get away with it.”

The London-based Lloyd’s Register dug in to defend its role in the ship’s building and development, while the shipbuilder said it had been named in honour of the owner’s father for his “great achievements in the offshore oil and gas industry”.

Read the rest of that story at the link, especially the bullet points… it is obvious that the ship’s name is something that could be seen as a slight. (To say the least.)

d5066f243d4a1f56fe2aa2f0f6e4a859There is an op/ed over at the New York Times that should give you all pause…When Calculus of Loss Doesn’t Add Up – NYTimes.com

Joseph Kahn, The Times’s top-ranking editor for international news, told me that the Paris and Nigeria stories aren’t comparable. “These were totally different challenges,” he said, with the former happening in a major Western capital where The Times has a substantial staff.

He, and others, spoke of the difficulty of covering the Boko Haram story because of its remote location, the problems of verification, and the questions hanging over early reports. While Amnesty International was reporting as many as 2,000 dead, he told me, some trusted experts were cautioning against using the number. The Times needed to verify what had happened, something best done on the ground. But getting there is both difficult and time-consuming.

2b7a2cbd8422e20c48d518a6928ca805In retrospect, Mr. Kahn said, a story about the controversy over the numbers would have been one way to provide early and meaningful coverage — informing readers without falling prey to overstating what had happened. Such a story, especially if it had been prominently displayed and published quickly, would have been a valuable way to be transparent with readers about what The Times knew and what it didn’t know.

Mr. Kahn also said that while the Paris attack had an intense and short news arc, the Boko Haram story would continue and that The Times would keep covering it with commitment. The editor on the International Desk who handles Africa coverage, Greg Winter, told me last week that Mr. Nossiter (who has also been a leading reporter on the Ebola story) was in Nigeria again working on a major Boko Haram piece.

da8f847c13be0774621ab3c8167c30f8“I understand readers’ concerns about covering Nigeria, and I share them, which is why our correspondent has risked his life for years to cover the country and the turmoil in the north,” Mr. Winter said.

I asked Mr. Kahn how, in general, the numbers of violent deaths figure into editorial decisions. “We don’t cover everything equally,” he said. “It goes to gut news judgment, as we ask: ‘Is this a big deal? Are we going to deploy someone?’ ” Among the factors: “The circumstances, how unusual it is, the location, the relevance to American interests.”

And, he said, The Times has to be careful not to overreport violent death.

“Not every incident of carnage is a major story for The New York Times. You have to put it in context, and not fill the news report with unlimited doses of terrible violent news from around the world.”

ec4b59a449f88217fcaea31ca8aee875But, speaking of the recent Boko Haram attack, he said: “It could have had more attention and emphasis.”

I agree. I have no objection to the extent of the Paris coverage. But whatever the calculus of news judgments, these lost Nigerian lives surely were worthy of The Times’s immediate, as well as its continuing, attention.

Overreport violent death?

Cough…cough.

And on that note:

3e779e43d98a2ea62e793821d825ab35Nigerian city under attack from suspected Boko Haram militants | World news | The Guardian

9e34bef467ed52247964129d427e4e51Escaping Boko Haram on the Road From Bama | Al Jazeera America

Notice, not from the NYT…

About Yemen: Yemen Civil War? Masses Rally in Capital & South Secedes | Informed Comment

And now back to the US:

The following links are dealing with the GOP…and the usual shit.

House GOP Aborts Dumb Anti-Choice Bill Because Ladies Vote Too, Huh | Wonkette

The GOP White Guy Club Vs. Gynecology | The Mahablog

580f0bfee276b2bd99ba6151a293defbFree To Be Dumb: The Republican Iowa Freedom Summit Lives Up To Its Billing | News Corpse

“20-Week Bans Are Devastating for Women Like Me” | Mother Jones

Jorge Ramos, Voice of Latino Voters on Univision, Sends Shiver Through G.O.P. – NYTimes.com

Weeping Christian men apologize for letting you have an abortion

Funny or Die Apologizes for That Christian Bro Abortion Apology Video

And while on the subject of coochies:

34b722ecabd64f5932b4dcaf67d948d5Teen poses as doctor for month before caught in Florida | WGN-TV

Police in Florida and officials at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach have agreed not to charge a teenager they caught posing as a doctor.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports police were called Tuesday after a patient alerted staff at the medical center’s OB/GYN office that a juvenile dressed in a lab coat was inside an exam room. The patient said the lab coat had St. Mary’s logo and “anesthesiology” stitched on the front.

A security guard told police he’d seen the teen around the hospital for a month. Another said the teen entered secured areas of the hospital this week.

44bd08b08177533170f76e14a910df51The teen told police he’s been a doctor for years.

The teen’s mother told police he’s under the care of a doctor and is not taking his medicine.

WTF?

On to the Arts…Movies…etc.

Selma: Black History According to Oprah | Black Agenda Report

Julie Walters: lack of working-class actors is sad | Culture | The Guardian

Samuel L Jackson: ‘I create characters – it keeps me from being me all day’ | Film | The Guardian

b2d93a9da3408389ecbdb5792e4b28bfMission To Mars begins with some of the worst expository dialogue ever · Scenic Routes · The A.V. Club

Richard McWhorter, Legendary Assistant Director, Dies at 100 – The Hollywood Reporter

German scientists invent working teleporter, of sorts | Technology | The Guardian

Warner Bros’ bold stance on Wonder Woman opens the door for Hollywood evolution – Comment – Voices – The Independent

And something that will probably make a film one of these days, have you seen this story out of Argentina:

f8b86c3ae813f71b442aa1986c0b3411Spies, lies and death: plot thickens in Argentine scandal | Reuters

Prosecutor in Argentina presidential case was shot point-blank in forehead: authorities

Journalist who broke news of prosecutor’s death flees Argentina | Reuters

Gosh, what a lot of links for you today, and I’ve got a couple more:

Experts examine bones as Spain hunts for Cervantes’ remains (Update)

c4ab5a85544371f40b1db4db4dceccadWho was Chaucer? | Books | The Guardian

And end with two stories on women, journalism and internet threats.

Jezebel staffers express concern after Gawker Media seating chart is published | Capital New York

Wikipedia tacitly endorses GamerGate by blocking its opponents from editing gender-related articles | PandoDaily

That’s all folks….

BTW, here is a gallery of images, some of which were not put up in the post here.


Wednesday Reads: Getting your goat.

742f69a6dcfa1177bd1de4b33dd6e8c7Good Morning

Ugh…I just knew that this year was going to be even shittier than last year.  Wouldn’t you know that here we are not even into the 3rd week of the new year and so many horrible things are taking place all over the globe.

So, since so much of the shit is going on in Europe at the moment, particularly in France, I am going to focus on the crap going on in Germany. Because let me tell ya…this is some heavy fucking stuff, and it looks like it is going to get nasty. On a disturbingly historic kind of scale.

I’ll just give you plenty of links because so much has been written overnight. I noticed this story over a week ago when I saw mention of this PEGIDA rally in Dresden. From Jan 6th:

German anti-Islam rally hits record numbers – Europe – Al Jazeera English

At least 18,000 people in the eastern German city of Dresden have taken part in rallies opposing Islamic influence in Western nations, prompting massive counter-protests in several cities.

The record number of people that took to streets in support of the right-wing populist movement known as the “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisisation of the Occident” (PEGIDA) on Monday came despite a call by Chancellor Angela Merkel to snub such demonstrations deemed racist by many.

Organisers of the opposing demonstrations in Berlin, Stuttgart, Cologne and Dresden said they were rallying against discrimination and xenophobia to instead promote a message of tolerance.

b11275ff4cfe8ad3295da1e1485f857dBusinesses, churches, Cologne city’s power company and others were planning to keep their buildings and other facilities dark in solidarity with the demonstrations against the ongoing protests by PEGIDA.

Over the last three months, the crowds at PEGIDA’s demonstrations in the eastern city of Dresden, a region that has few immigrants or Muslims, have swelled from a few hundred to 17,500 just before Christmas.

Police said a similar number were expected again later on Monday night.

The Dresden demonstrations have spawned smaller PEGIDA rallies elsewhere, including gatherings planned in Berlin and Cologne on Monday night where several hundred were expected to be on hand.

By contrast, about 10,000 counter-demonstrators were expected in Berlin, 2,000 in Cologne and another 5,000 in Stuttgart where there was no PEGIDA protest planned.

I saved this article…because I planned to use it. But things sort of happened as you know. Fast forward to the latest PEGIDA rally this week, where the Dresden rally saw the largest number of people…25,000: Paul Hockenos | The Charlie Hebdo Attack Improved Pegida’s Fortunes | Foreign Affairs

The recent carnage in Paris could hardly be better fodder for Germany’s newest populist phenomenon. The movement is known as Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, or Pegida, and this week it drew more backers than ever—an estimated 25,000—onto the streets of Dresden. The Islamophobic group pounced on the opportunity to depict Islam as an inherently violent faith that threatens Germany and is transforming the West. And, against the backdrop of heightened security concerns and the largest refugee influx since the early 1990s, it is well placed to exploit the fears that many Germans appear to harbor.

8e7dfaf113a9177446df46ce53c6b513Before the Paris bloodshed, Pegida and its variants across the country, which oppose the “Islamization of Christian Europe” and Germany’s “foreign infiltration,” were faltering after a meteoric start that began this autumn. The group’s street protests—the biggest anti-Islam rallies in Europe—were tailing off, and counter demonstrations across the country had begun to dwarf Pegida events. Only in the eastern city of Dresden, the movement’s crucible, did the cause appear to have a tenacious core of more than a thousand. Meanwhile, internal divisions in the diffuse and nebulous organization—as well as cracks in Germany’s far-right party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD)—suggested that the group could crash and burn, joining other splintered and largely irrelevant nationalists in the no-man’s-land of Germany’s extra-parliamentary far right.

Indeed, the movement was so thoroughly riddled with logical discrepancies that most observers figured that it couldn’t last much longer. The grab bag of protesters claim that Germany is being overrun with Muslims and other foreign nationals who are at the root of the country’s social ills, high tax rates, crime, and security concerns. They say that there are so many Muslims and other nationalities in Germany that ordinary Germans don’t feel at home in their own country. If the trend continues, they argue, Muslims will outnumber Germans by 2035. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has spoken plainly in favor of welcoming refugees and against (unnamed) groups that preach hatred and prejudice has “betrayed them,” claims Lutz Bachmann, one of the group’s founders, who sees Berlin’s political parties and media as being in cahoots.

More at that link, including statistics and such… but I think these other two articles give some other insight as well.

Germany’s PEGIDA isn’t a Vladimir Putin plot. The truth is scarier. By Lucian Kim via Reuters.

c44890734fd30be32930f405d5036333Last week, when I attended my first rally in Dresden organized by PEGIDA, Germany’s mysterious “anti-Islamization” movement, I was reminded of the aggressive pro-Russian protests that tore apart eastern Ukraine a year ago. Thousands of demonstrators, who mostly refused to talk to the “lying press,” listened to fiery speeches railing against the country’s political class. Among the German flags present, I also spotted a few Russian ones, including a banner that was split diagonally, one half Russia’s tricolor, the other half Germany’s. A reporter and cameraman from the Gazprom-owned NTV channel were greeted with welcoming calls of “Vladimir! Vladimir!”

Based on a few shreds of evidence, it would have been easy enough to weave together a conspiracy theory that the Kremlin is behind the demonstrations that were initiated by a secretive organizing committee in October and swelled to a record 25,000 participants on Monday. After all, President Vladimir Putin served as a KGB agent in what was then an East German city in the 1980s (suspicious!) and one of PEGIDA’s key demands is an end to Germany’s “war-mongering” against Russia (bingo!). But accepting this kind of explanation would buy into the Kremlin’s own paranoia that mass protests can be bought with money — and isn’t supported by the facts.

Next, I briefly entertained the possibility that PEGIDA’s success was accidental, a joke by a group of friends in reaction to the turmoil in the world. For one, the name PEGIDA, which stands for Patriotische Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes, or “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident,” sounds like a parody of itself. Also, its main organizers — a former petty criminal, a provincial business consultant, and the head of a janitorial firm — hardly seem serious enough to dignify a condemnation from Chancellor Angela Merkel, who did exactly that in her New Year’s address.

Now, having interviewed PEGIDA leaders and supporters, I understand that the movement is not as sinister as a Russian plot but not quite as innocent as a prank gone viral. The organizers have been called “Pied Pipers,” and German journalists have chased down leads connecting individual PEGIDA activists with far-right groups. The problem, however, is that PEGIDA’s leaders don’t fit the caricature of neo-Nazi Neanderthals. What’s most striking about the movement is not the radicalism, but the ordinariness, of the people it attracts.

The Jan. 12 PEGIDA rally in Dresden was the biggest to date, coming less than a week after the Paris terrorist attack and a string of headlines about Islamist violence in the Middle East and Africa. At the same time, anti-PEGIDA demonstrations in other German cities brought out as many as 100,000 people, 20,000 in Munich alone. Two rival visions of modern Germany clashed: the liberal vision, embraced by the country’s elite, of a globalized, open society, and a conservative one, more assertive about national interests and German identity in a chaotic and dangerous world.

This is some of the ways PEGIDA has affected the area: Dresden xenophobia, right-wing extremism takes roof over refugees′ heads | News | DW.DE | 14.01.2015

17599463c4ea1ca7cd644634b5cc223aDue to increasing pressure from right-wing fundamentalists, the owner of a hotel in eastern Germany has closed his doors to refugees. Hotel Prinz Eugen had been set to receive nearly 100 asylum seekers.

Due to increasing “massive pressure from residents,” the owner of a hotel in the eastern German city of Dresden closed its doors to asylum seekers, German media reported on Wednesday.

Hotel Prinz Eugen was supposed to accept up to 94 asylum seekers to help the city accommodate its 2,093 refugees. The owner of the hotel, however, changed his mind, citing threats from right-wing extremists he received on social media platforms and anti-refugee graffiti sprayed on the outside of his hotel.

His about-face is expected to pose a problem for the city, which is expected to receive nearly 2,000 more refugees this year. Martin Seidel, the city’s mayor for social affairs, told the German magazine Spiegel Online: “This retreat will create a difficult situation for us. There are no short-term solutions that could be implemented.”

According to Spiegel, there was a petition to stop the allocation of space in the hotel for refugees and it had 5,700 signatories. It listed six “formal concerns” along with four “political and geopolitical concerns” and seven “contextual concerns.” One of these concerns was that the location of the hotel in Leuben/Laubegast was a “political risk area,” with the city’s second largest number of far-right NPD voters. The petition said it was thus “predestined for conflict.”

 

Charlie Hebdo fallout: Specter of fascist past haunts European nationalism By Jacob Heilbrunn via Reuters.

When up to a dozen world leaders and roughly 1.5 million people gathered in Paris on Sunday to mourn the murder of 10 editors and cartoonists of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and seven other people by three French-born Islamic radicals, they wanted to demonstrate that Europe will always embrace liberal and tolerant values.

500e3092c0ed83f2d79b076b1b35b655But the more telling event may turn out to be a counter-rally that took place at a 17th-century town hall in Beaucaire, France, that was led by Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front. In Beaucaire, the crowd ended Le Pen’s rally by singing the French national anthem and chanting, “This is our home.”

Le Pen is at the forefront of a European-wide nationalist resurgence — one that wants to evict from their homelands people they view as Muslim subversives. She and other far-right nationalists are seizing on some legitimate worries about Islamic militancy — 10,000 soldiers are now deployed in France as a safety measure — in order to label all Muslims as hostile to traditional European cultural and religious values. Le Pen herself has likened their presence to the Nazi occupation of France.

Now here is where these people really start to sound like our own Republican party, especially the Tea Party nuts.

Le Pen herself espouses an authoritarian program that calls for a moratorium on immigration, a restoration of the death penalty and a “French first” policy on welfare benefits and employment.

cd47aac8835a52373e7c190b7e4593c9Long after World War Two, fascism is a specter that still haunts the continent. But whether Le Pen’s stances — and those of other nationalist leaders in Europe — qualify as fascist is questionable. The borderline between the kind of populism they espouse and the outright fascism of the 1920s and 1930s, when Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini espoused doctrines of racial superiority, is a slippery one. Scholars continue to debate whether Mussolini was even fascist — or simply an opportunistic nationalist.

The real aim of today’s would-be authoritarians — politicians who appeal to the public’s desire for an iron hand — is to present themselves as legitimate leaders who are saying what the public really thinks but is afraid to say. And these far-right leaders are indeed increasingly popular.

The card they are playing is populism presented as an aggrieved nationalism. They depict Europeans as victims of rapacious Muslim immigrants. Le Pen, Britain’s Nigel Farage of the U.K. Independence Party and others aim to come across as reasonable and socially acceptable, while sounding dog whistles to their followers about immigrant social parasites who are either stealing jobs from “real” Europeans or living off welfare.

I have more links to share but I want to show you a picture from Sunday:

francois-hollandeangela-merkel

Say what you will about the staged pictures, I think that expression on Merkel’s face is real…and genuine.

I feel that there is an intolerance building throughout the world, it is getting more bold and in your face too. It is not just against Muslims. But it is against all immigrants, refugees. Mentally ill and homeless, Hindu and Jews, Palestinians or Gays…Roma or Mexicans, Blacks with their hands up or down…Women of any race as well. Agnostic, Atheist, Wicca, secular, you name it. It frightens me.

More on the Germany issues:

German Muslims rally to show solidarity with Paris-

Thousands of German Muslims held a vigil Tuesday night to show solidarity for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks last week and to speak against the country’s growing anti-Islam movement.

“Violence like that in Paris can’t be brought to Germany,” said Busra Kelicarslan, 19, at the rally at Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate.

“The prophet says that Muslims are supposed to stand with each other, for each other, especially on days like today — when we have to show our true face,” she said. “We don’t want to be misrepresented in the media, but more importantly also in people’s minds. Hate and fear need to stop.”

bd387b1c26b502eac67bbb3a6b1d5c8dGerman Muslims speak in face of anti-immigrant movement | Al Jazeera America

DRESDEN, Germany — With no signs or religious symbols on its façade, the four-story building on the outskirts of Dresden appears to be just another residential apartment. But it’s not. A short walk through a narrow alley leads to the building’s backyard, where a door is revealed and a sign reads, in German and Arabic, “Islamic Center Dresden.”

“We know that for some people this sign is provocative, and we don’t want to provoke them. This is why we put it in the back,” said Ahmed Aslaoui, the deputy chairman of Islamic Center Dresden, a nonprofit organization whose facility serves as a mosque and meeting place for the city’s Muslim community.

“If the sign would be out front, I think some bad feelings might come up. We don’t want the situation to get worse,” he said.

The situation to which he referred is the growing popularity of a Dresden-based grass-roots movement, Patriotische Europäer Gegen eine Islamisierung des Abendlandes (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamicization of the West), or PEGIDA.

In the past few weeks, PEGIDA’s Monday evening demonstrations have drawn thousands of Germans, some of whom arrived in Dresden from across the country to protest against the dangers of Islamic ideology and for “the right to preserve and protect our Christian-Jewish dominated West culture,” among other goals, according to the group. While its mission statement opposes preaching hate and radicalism, no matter the religion, the name the movement chose and the slogans that have appeared in its protests target one religion only.

 

Germany urges tolerance in face of divisive rallies – The Globe and Mail

Merkel: Germany Will Use ‘All Means’ to Fight Intolerance

Thousands rally in Berlin for Paris terror victims – CNN.com

0fd2f80ab0473c0d5cfb48c3c21e5daaOn to another area but on the same topic, Fundamentalism for Dummies: The Paris Terrorists’ Ignorance and Poverty | Informed Comment

Now this article uses a term I had never heard of before…Boston Boomer, your assistance is required: cultural schizophrenia?

Ugh…say what?

one of the stubborn enduring myths surrounding jihadist terrorism has been the preeminence of religion over other motivations, and it is easy to understand why this might be the case. Many of these individuals themselves employ starkly religious language, and invoke religious texts that promise “other-worldly” rewards as compensation for “this-worldly” sacrifice, including the guarantee of eternal Paradise, and most famously, the lascivious offering of seventy-two heavenly virgins.

But, crucially, in many of these instances, we have to be aware of the post-hoc attribution of religious meaning and validation to their acts. To put it differently, religion does not provide the initial motive, but it does provide the motif or stamp of approval. Take the example of a young man who wants to go to Syria to fight for any reason that is not explicitly religious. It is not enough to just fight and even die like a jihadi, but to be accepted by that community (and indeed not to end up beheaded as a member of a rival group), you need to walk, talk and behave like one of them, too. The highly stylized “martyrdom testaments” suicide bombers record prior to their deaths are a very good example of this sort of conformity—it is no accident they all look and sound pretty much the same.

One recent telling example of this sort of religiosity tacked on at the end is the case of Mohammed Ahmed and Yusuf Sarwar, two young British men from Birmingham who were jailed for travelling to Syria to join and fight alongside a jihadist group in 2013, in response to what they saw as their religious duty. But it was the reading material they purchased to accompany them on their trip, the books, Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies, which are most revealing about their lack of religious literacy and motivation.

7ec9f92ab4e7819c76011e432e760eceAnd this characterization appears to hold equally true for the violent men who attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices. The Kouachi brothers, as orphaned children of Algerian immigrants, were raised in foster care, and certainly not as pious Muslims. Rather, as the French newspaper Libération reported back in 2005, Cherif led a decidedly nondevout and hedonistic lifestyle—smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol, listening to gangster rap and having numerous girlfriends. Indeed, during his trial in 2008 for helping to transport jihadist fighters from France to Iraq, Cherif’s lawyer described his client as an “occasional Muslim.”

Now, this is not to exonerate religion in any sense. Religion has historically been responsible for a great deal of violence, and religious texts and doctrines often appear to condone death and destruction. However, unlike believers, academics tend to understand religion as a product of social, economic, political and other factors that offer solutions to something.

So what does religion offer a solution to, in the case of Europe’s jihadists?

Cherif Kouachi’s lawyer described his client in 2005 as “a confused chameleon.” This is an apt description of the identity crisis commonly experienced by many jihadists, and can be explained through a process I call dual cultural alterity—essentially a double alienation from both minority (ethnic or parental) culture, and majority (mainstream or host society) culture, as a result of being unable or unwilling to fulfill either group’s normative expectations. This can lead to the cultural schizophrenia that Cherif’s lawyer describes, and is likely to inspire feelings of uprootedness and a lack of belonging.

That article is written by Akil N. Awan | (The National Interest).

I suggest you go and read the entire thing so you fully understand what is being said. I don’t know…maybe someone can explain it to me?

6cd201c1766255856453e0a562027293Whatever, you explain this shit to me, why they are using children:

Mom to ISIS: ‘Leave our children alone’ | MSNBC

Rachel Maddow reports on the use of children by Muslim extremist groups ISIS and Boko Haram and the upset they’re causing the Muslim community with their aggressive recruitment of young people to join their campaign of terror.

Shocking IS Video Appears To Show Child Militant Killing ‘Russian FSB Spies’

A shocking new video by the Islamic State (IS) group that emerged on social media on January 13 appears to show a child militant shooting dead two men identified as “Russian agents.”

The child militant appears to be an ethnic Kazakh and is very possibly the same child who appeared in a recent Islamic State video featuring Kazakh child fighters undergoing training.

But they are not the only terrorist here using young people: Mexican mayor faces charges in kidnapping of 43 students | Reuters

The former mayor of the southwestern city of Iguala has been charged with last year’s kidnapping of 43 students who are feared to have been killed, a top security official said on Tuesday.

Tomas Zeron, director of criminal investigations at the federal Attorney General’s office, said that prosecutors had obtained an arrest warrant for former mayor Jose Luis Abarca and 44 others on charges of kidnapping the 43 students.

President Enrique Pena Nieto is facing his deepest crisis over the government’s handling of the investigation. Anger over the case spurred sometimes violent demonstrations around the country late last year.

afb91c32ca2fa7a3563093319d880567Zeron did not specify when the warrant was obtained, but it appeared to be the first charges filed against Abarca that are directly related to the students’ disappearance even though authorities have said the mayor and his wife were the masterminds of the kidnappings since October.

Just a few more…

I love this, Fox News is getting the works over at the Guardian: News from Fox, and the no-go zone of the brain | Tim Dowling | Comment is free | The Guardian

Birmingham is ‘totally Muslim’ city, claims Fox News pundit | Media | The Guardian

Fox News man is ‘idiot’ for Birmingham Muslim comments – David Cameron | Media | The Guardian

How did Fox News’ Birmingham blunder make it to air? Because everything does | Joe Muto | Comment is free | The Guardian

More at this link: Fox News | Media | The Guardian

b0f05696db5c9712db8f5b94eb0385a6And finally, this last comment from a Mayor of Rotterdam, sounds like a movie title doesn’t it?

Rotterdam’s Muslim mayor to violent radical Islamists in West: ‘Pack your bags and f*ck off’

The Moroccan-born mayor of the Dutch port city of Rotterdam said in a television appearance on Tuesday that Muslims like himself who choose to live in the West should adopt a more tolerant worldview or “pack your bags and fuck off.”

The Daily Mail reported that Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb was appearing live on Dutch TV when he made the remarks.

Aboutaleb moved with his family to the Netherlands when he was a teen. During the television program Nieuwsuur (News Hour), he spoke to Islamists living in the West, saying, “It is incomprehensible that you can turn against freedom.”

“But if you don’t like freedom,” he continued, “for heaven’s sake pack your bags and leave.”

“If you do not like it here because some humorists you don’t like are making a newspaper, may I then say you can f*ck off,” Aboutaleb said.

What to see the video…

Don’t know why but you gotta love a mayor who tells potential terrorist to fuck off on live TV.

And on that note…What are you all up to this Wednesday fucking morning?

 


Tuesday Reads

charlie13n-1-web

Good Morning!!

At left is the cover of the next issue of Charlie Hebdo. It depicts the Prophet Muhammed holding a “Je suis Charlie” sign, with the words “all is forgiven” over his head.

The Wall Street Journal: Charlie Hebdo Puts Muhammad on Cover of Post-Attack Issue.

PARIS—Since Charlie Hebdo lost eight staff members in a terrorist attack last week, millions of people have declared their support to the French satirical magazine with the slogan “Je Suis Charlie.”

Now the often-caustic publication, faced with the challenge of reconciling its new status as a cause célèbre with its reflex to mock, ridicule and offend, is putting a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad on the cover of what is likely to be their most-read issue ever.

Distributors said Monday they were preparing to print as many as three million copies of Wednesday’s issue, 50 times the normal circulation. That is raising pressure on a small outlet known for skewering all forms of authority—including some that have rushed to its defense.

Suddenly the political and social elites who most likely had never heard of the small satirical magazine before the attack are parading around Paris and the Golden Globes pretending to be defenders of free speech. And what about the U.S. “journalists” who are little more than corporate lackeys who echoed right wing memes about President Obama supposedly not caring enough to attend a rally in France?

“It’s been extremely moving—and also hypocritical,” said Laurent Léger, a reporter for the magazine who survived the shooting. “All of a sudden, we are supported by the entire world. Whereas for years we were completely alone.” [….]

Another target for this week’s issue is likely to be Sunday’s solidarity march in France, surviving staff members said. The massive rally became a magnet for French and international political figures that have been a mainstay in Charlie Hebdo’s pages. Attendees included dignitaries from Turkey, Egypt, and Russia, countries that it has criticized for curbing free speech.

“All those dictators at a march celebrating liberty,” Mr. Léger said. “We of course are going to continue the mockery. We’ll see if it makes them jump.”

Crumb

That’s great news. As Dakinikat trenchantly pointed out yesterday, these same elites routinely ignore horrifying acts of terrorism that kill people who aren’t as high profile as the victims in Paris. And, as Dak also pointed out, it turns out those world leaders in Paris didn’t really march with the hoi-polloi. They just participated in a fake photo that showed them pretending to march. Dakinikat also posted this story from The Daily Banter in a comment yesterday, but I think it deserves to be front paged.

Now That These Leaders Are Done Pretending to March, They Should Pass Legislation Protecting Satire, by Bob Cesca.

President Abbas marched in Paris on Sunday, but a satirist in Gaza has been jailed for poking fun at the Palestinian leader.

It’s entertaining to observe the lengths to which American conservatives will overreach in order to make a nothing issue into a major scandal. Such is the case following the unity march in Paris, attended by 3.7 million people and world leaders from 40 nations. As we covered earlier today, conservatives all around are busily scolding and shaming the president for not walking hand-in-hand with those leaders, even though no president has ever marched in a protest rally overseas. Ever. But this president is, for some reason, held to a different standard than the 43 previous chief executives. It’s about “optics” they say. I often agree with that criticism and I agree that optics are important — except for the fact that no other president has been responsible for creating similar optics.

There’s another layer to this fracas. While lionizing the world leaders who marched in Paris, allegedly in support of Charlie Hebdo and free speech, critics of the president are neglecting two very important points.

1) British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and French President Francois Hollande weren’t actually marching with the demonstrators. Their participation was staged on an empty street surrounded by security and merely photographed to look like it was part of the broader rally. It wasn’t.

2) Take a guess at how many of the nations represented by those leaders have statutes protecting satire as free speech? Not one. Indeed, there’s only one western nation where satire is protected speech. It’s the United States. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, Americans can’t be sued by other Americans for producing satire against public figures — regardless of whether the satire describes Jerry Falwell having incestuous sex or whether Saturday Night Live lampoons the president. They can try to sue, but the suit will never see the light of day.

So, while we’re applauding those 40 leaders for marching in a staged photo-op in support of a satirical magazine, bear in mind that none of those leaders come from nations where satirical speech is protected. In David Cameron’s England, for example, the prime minister or any public figure can sue cartoonists, writers, filmmakers or the producers of an SNL-style sketch show for making fun of them on television or elsewhere, and those lawsuits can actually be adjudicated and the plaintiffs can win. The same is true across the European Union and absolutely throughout the Middle East.

Frankly, I wish the White House hadn’t backed down and apologized.

TedCruzSnake

One of the loudest voices criticizing the president for not going to a European “unity rally” was Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Time Magazine actually published an op-ed by Cruz yesterday.

On Sunday, leaders representing Europe, Israel, Africa, Russia, and the Middle East linked arms and marched together down Place de la Concorde in Paris. But, sadly, no one from the White House was found among the more than 40 Presidents and Prime Ministers who walked the streets with hundreds of thousands of French citizens demonstrating their solidarity against radical Islamic terrorists.

In other news . . .

Now that Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has officially announced that she won’t run for reelection, there’s a “New Gold Rush” in California, according to Bill Press at The Hill.

Barbara Boxer’s announcement that she will not seek reelection to the Senate has set off a frenzy in California not seen since the Gold Rush. Anybody could win. All you need is a pick, an ax and the ability to raise or cough up a minimum $40 million.

Wanna play? Lots of people do.

In fact, with Boxer and Dianne Feinstein occupying both Senate seats since the early ’90s, and Jerry Brown’s longtime lock on the governor’s office, younger California Democrats have been bottled up in a no man’s land for years, taking turns rotating among lesser state offices, waiting for their chance at the big time. Boxer pulled the plug. Now all that pent-up energy and ambition is bursting out. It’s fun to watch.

Three statewide officials might have the edge, but only because they’ve already run statewide a couple of times. State Attorney General Kamala Harris and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom have reached a pact not to run against each other, and Newsom’s already taken himself out of the race. That leaves Harris. But don’t count out state Treasurer John Chiang. He’s young, charismatic and still gets high marks for refusing to carry out former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s order to cut the minimum wage for state employees during a budget showdown.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris

Yesterday, Gavin Newsom announced that he’s not running for Boxer’s seat, and today Kamala Harris will announce that she’s throwing her hat into the ring. According to the LA Times story,

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer are seriously considering bids, as are several members of Congress. On the Republican side, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez and two former state GOP chairmen are weighing runs.

Former VP candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced yesterday that he’s not going to climb into the GOP clown car in 2016. From an interview with NBC News:

“I have decided that I am not going to run for president in 2016,” Ryan said in a phone interview, noting that he is “at peace” with the decision he made “weeks ago” to forgo a bid for the White House.

“It is amazing the amount of encouragement I have gotten from people – from friends and supporters – but I feel like I am in a position to make a big difference where I am and I want to do that,” he said.

The nine-term congressman believes he can make that “big difference” in his new role as chairman of the influential House Ways and Means Committee rather than as a presidential contender.

The committee will meet Tuesday to kick off the new Congress. By announcing that he’ll pass on a White House run, Ryan hopes to demonstrate that he’ll devote his “undivided attention” to the committee, although he admits that it will be “bittersweet not being on the trail” as a candidate this upcoming cycle.

Ryan has never initiated an important piece of legislation and gotten it passed, but now he’s going to head one of the most powerful committees in Congress. Let’s hope he continues his lack of meaningful accomplishments.

Screen-Shot-2014-01-28-at-5.52.16-PM

In other 2016 news, it looks like Mitt Romney is actually going to run for president for a third time. From The Washington Post, Romney moves to reassemble campaign team for ‘almost certain’ 2016 bid.

Mitt Romney is moving quickly to reassemble his national political network, calling former aides, donors and other supporters over the weekend and on Monday in a concerted push to signal his seriousness about possibly launching a 2016 presidential campaign.

Romney’s message, as he told one senior Republican, was that he “almost certainly will” make what would be his third bid for the White House. His aggressive outreach came as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — Romney’s 2012 vice presidential running mate and the newly installed chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee — announced Monday that he would not seek the presidency in 2016.

Romney’s activity indicates that his declaration of interest Friday to a group of 30 donors in New York was more than the release of a trial balloon. Instead, it was the start of a deliberate effort by the 2012 nominee to carve out space for himself in an emerging 2016 field also likely to include former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Romney has worked the phones over the past few days, calling an array of key allies to discuss his potential 2016 campaign. Among them was Ryan, whom Romney phoned over the weekend to inform him personally of his plans to probably run. Ryan was encouraging, people with knowledge of the calls said.

Other Republicans with whom Romney spoke recently include Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Rob Portman (Ohio), former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman, former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, former Missouri senator Jim Talent and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah).

According to Politico’s Maggie Haberman and James Hohmann, Romney is promising he’ll be ‘different’ this time.

…interviews with more than a dozen staffers and supporters who have recently spoken with Romney reveal conversations in which he promises a “different” path forward without providing specifics about what that means as far as mechanics and his own sometimes gaffe-ridden performance. And, aside from most of his communications team, Romney would still be expected to bring back the majority of his old staff, sources said.

“He really has to show people that he’d do it differently, rather than just say he’d do it differently,” said a former top adviser to Romney, one of half a dozen alumni to speak Monday with POLITICO. “He needs to assure folks he’d take a much more direct approach to laying out the vision for his campaign versus having those decisions driven by a bunch of warring consultants.”

please proceed

 

Mother Jones has posted a series of quotes in which Romney said he wouldn’t run again, along with the famous “47 percent” video.

 

Finally, from Boomberg Politics, David Weigel reports that Not a Single Person Has Donated to Dick Morris’s Anti-Hillary Super PAC.

Hahahahahahahahaha!!!!

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday!

 


Monday Reads: Charlie Hebdo and Fashionable Faux and Haute Outrage

images (1)Good Morning!

It’s one of those days where I feel that there is absolutely no news out there I want to share.   I’m more than a  bit irritated by the way the Charlie Hebdo attacks are being blithely used by some to try to score faux outrage points.  I’m also equally mad that it now appears to be an attention-grabbing gimmick  for the rich and banal.

The first thing to piss me off is that wingnuts are griping about our President not dropping everything to attend a French rally.  I am really getting tired of every single thing being turned into an opportunity for racists to attack Obama.

image-1024x537

This is the photo op that Obama was supposed to show up for.

France is in the EuroZone.  This means the level of cooperation between European states is akin to New York’s relationship with Louisiana on many many levels. Some of its former colonies were also in attendance at the rally as was Bibi since the second attack killed and injured Israelis. The colonial nations are connected by language and much more.  A rally isn’t a normal thing for any of head of state to attend unless a leader or head of state is part of the entity.  I’d like to think it’s just about stupid Americans not having much of a clue about European Unification and the Colonial Age, but really it seems just another crazed meme from the pissed off red state hicks still longing for white hegemony.  For example, CNN has really gone down the crapper to join in on this.

The heads of Great Britain, Germany and Israel were there.

But President Barack Obama didn’t attend a unity march in Paris on Sunday, days after the deadly attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Nor did his secretary of state, John Kerry, who has deep ties to France.

Kerry was in India, attending an entrepreneurship summit with new Prime Minister Narendra Modi — with whom the United States is hoping to develop much closer trade ties.

Instead, the United States was represented by U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley.

Attorney General Eric Holder was also in Paris, attending a security summit on combating terrorism. He recorded interviews that appeared on several U.S. news outlets Sunday, but was not spotted at the unity march.

No one from the administration would speak on record about the U.S. representation at the march.

“Attorney General Holder — a Cabinet level official — is representing the United States at the security meetings in Paris today. He is joined by the DHS Deputy Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas. The United States is represented at the march by Ambassador Hartley,” a senior Obama administration official said.

An administration official added: “As far as public signs of French solidarity from the U.S. — don’t forget several public statements from the President, his call to [French President Francois] Hollande and a condolence stop to the French embassy.”

Beyond that, the official said “all relevant components” of the U.S. government have been aiding their French counterparts, in some cases on “essentially a minute-by-minute basis to support their efforts.”

On Sunday night, a White House official who also asked not to be named added: “It is worth noting that the security requirements for both the President and (Vice President) can be distracting from events like this – for once this event is not about us!” The official did not address how other prominent world leaders were able to work around the security requirements.

How on earth would France even prepare for a presidential visit on such short notice? Well, anyway, most of the leaders were within an hour plane hop of Paris with the exception of a few middle eastern and African countries and they don’t require massive security.images (2)

On that note, I’m particularly pissed that we can still get all in a hissy about religious extremists practicing Islam that go on killing sprees when we ignore white Christian extremists.  Then, we give Israel repeated passes on its war crimes against the Palestinian territories which should be a Palestinian state by now.  It’s selective Faux Outrage.  Did the entire world come over to us and rally when our home grown terrorists created horrific killing events?  Or, did everyone just write it off as the usual few crazed Americans.  Why do right wing christian terrorists get labeled crazed loners?

The deal is that any kind of mass killing is rare in France because France doesn’t allow its citizenry to run about the place with semiautomatic weapons as a general rule. Over here, white men go on killing sprees all the time and we’re lucky if any one notices.  France also treats its transplants rather well instead, of continually telling them they don’t want them.  Here’s three of the top ten Homegrown Terrorist Attacks in the US from a list of 10.

When white males of the far right carry out violent attacks, neocons and Republicans typically describe them as lone-wolf extremists rather than people who are part of terrorist networks or well-organized terrorist movements. Yet many of the terrorist attacks in the United States have been carried out by people who had long histories of networking with other terrorists. In fact, most of the terrorist activity occurring in the United States in recent years has not come from Muslims, but from a combination of radical Christianists, white supremacists and far-right militia groups.

Below are 10 of the worst examples of non-Islamic terrorism that have occurred in the United States in the last 30 years.

1. Wisconsin Sikh Temple massacre, Aug. 5, 2012. The virulent, neocon-fueled Islamophobia that has plagued post-9/11 America has not only posed a threat to Muslims, it has had deadly consequences for people of other faiths, including Sikhs. Sikhs are not Muslims; the traditional Sikh attire, including their turbans, is different from traditional Sunni, Shiite or Sufi attire. But to a racist, a bearded Sikh looks like a Muslim. Only four days after 9/11, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh immigrant from India who owned a gas station in Mesa, Arizona, was murdered by Frank Silva Roque, a racist who obviously mistook him for a Muslim.

But Sodhi’s murder was not the last example of anti-Sikh violence in post-9/11 America. On Aug. 5, 2012, white supremacist Wade Michael Page used a semiautomatic weapon to murder six people during an attack on a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Page’s connection to the white supremacist movement was well-documented: he had been a member of the neo-Nazi rock bands End Empathy and Definite Hate. Attorney General Eric Holder described the attack as “an act of terrorism, an act of hatred.” It was good to see the nation’s top cop acknowledge that terrorist acts can, in fact, involve white males murdering people of color.

2. The murder of Dr. George Tiller, May 31, 2009. Imagine that a physician had been the victim of an attempted assassination by an Islamic jihadist in 1993, and received numerous death threats from al-Qaeda after that, before being murdered by an al-Qaeda member. Neocons, Fox News and the Christian Right would have had a field day. A physician was the victim of a terrorist killing that day, but neither the terrorist nor the people who inflamed the terrorist were Muslims. Dr. George Tiller, who was shot and killed by anti-abortion terrorist Scott Roeder on May 31, 2009, was a victim of Christian Right terrorism, not al-Qaeda.

Tiller had a long history of being targeted for violence by Christian Right terrorists. In 1986, his clinic was firebombed. Then, in 1993, Tiller was shot five times by female Christian Right terrorist Shelly Shannon (now serving time in a federal prison) but survived that attack. Given that Tiller had been the victim of an attempted murder and received countless death threats after that, Fox News would have done well to avoid fanning the flames of unrest. Instead, Bill O’Reilly repeatedly referred to him as “Tiller the baby killer.” When Roeder murdered Tiller, O’Reilly condemned the attack but did so in a way that was lukewarm at best.

Keith Olbermann called O’Reilly out and denounced him as a “facilitator for domestic terrorism” and a “blindly irresponsible man.” And Crazy for God author Frank Schaffer, who was formerly a figure on the Christian Right but has since become critical of that movement, asserted that the Christian Right’s extreme anti-abortion rhetoric “helped create the climate that made this murder likely to happen.” Neocon Ann Coulter, meanwhile, viewed Tiller’s murder as a source of comic relief, telling O’Reilly, “I don’t really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester.” The Republican/neocon double standard when it comes to terrorism is obvious. At Fox News and AM neocon talk radio, Islamic terrorism is a source of nonstop fear-mongering, while Christian Right terrorism gets a pass.

3. Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church shooting, July 27, 2008. On July 27, 2008, Christian Right sympathizer Jim David Adkisson walked into the Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee during a children’s play and began shooting people at random. Two were killed, while seven others were injured but survived. Adkisson said he was motivated by a hatred of liberals, Democrats and gays, and he considered neocon Bernard Goldberg’s book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, his political manifesto. Adkisson (who pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and is now serving life in prison without parole) was vehemently anti-abortion, but apparently committing an act of terrorism during a children’s play was good ol’ Republican family values. While Adkisson’s act of terrorism was reported on Fox News, it didn’t get the round-the-clock coverage an act of Islamic terrorism would have garnered.

Go to the link to read the rest.

I’m just getting tired of Faux news and Faux outrage and selective attention.  But, I’m not the only one.  Here’s a Dutch Cartoonist that works at Charlie Hebdo.

A prominent Dutch cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo heaped scorn on the French satirical weekly’s “new friends” since the massacre at its Paris offices on Wednesday.

“We have a lot of new friends, like the pope, Queen Elizabeth and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. It really makes me laugh,” Bernard Holtrop, whose pen name is Willem, told the Dutch centre-left daily Volkskrant in an interview published Saturday.

France’s far-right National Front leader “Marine Le Pen is delighted when the Islamists start shooting all over the place,” said Willem, 73, a longtime Paris resident who also draws for the French leftist daily Liberation.

He added: “We vomit on all these people who suddenly say they are our friends.”

Commenting on the global outpouring of support for the weekly, Willem scoffed: “They’ve never seen Charlie Hebdo.”

“A few years ago, thousands of people took to the streets in Pakistan to demonstrate against Charlie Hebdo. They didn’t know what it was. Now it’s the opposite, but if people are protesting to defend freedom of speech, naturally that’s a good thing.”

helen-mirren-je-suis-charlieExactly.  No more was this “fashionable” side of protest noticeable than at the Golden Globes where “Je Suis Charlie” signs were as rampant on the red carpet as haute couture. Call it Haute Outage.  Nothing says poseur like holding a protest sign at an event designed to make Big Hollywood feel like they’re relevant to anything but the bread and circuses that entertain Fox Nation when they’re not glued to ESPN.

George Clooney led the Hollywood charge at Sunday’s Golden Globes lending public support to Charlie Hebdo, the satirical Parisian newspaper attacked last week by armed gunmen. The Cecil B. DeMille Award winner walked the red carpet with a black and white “Je Suis Charlie” button on his tux, while wife Amal Alamuddin wore a Charlie Hebdo tribute on her purse.

Elsewhere on the carpet ahead of tonight’s televised ceremony, other celebrities took up the Charlie Hebdo banner.

Clooney tonight receives the Cecil B. DeMille Award for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.” In an open letter penned today, Harvey Weinstein called for tonight’s Globes attendees to remember those killed in the January 7 attack: “Charlie Hebdo is a reminder of the beauty of art and the beauty of language. No one can ever defeat the ability of great artists to show us our world.”

More updates on Hollywood’s solidarity with Charlie Hebdo as they come…

Raise your hand if you think any of these folks even knew what Charlie Hebdo was prior to this.

0,,18016946_303,00It’s one thing to be in solidarity with humanity suffering but it’s a completely different thing to do this only at one instance of slaughter while not noticing that a day later THIS HAPPENED: 

At least 19 people are reported to have been killed when militants strapped a bomb to a girl estimated to have been about 10 years old and sent her into a crowded poultry market in Maiduguri in Borno State.

Read that and ask yourselves why I had to pull that story off of an African news site.  Boko Harum insurgents most likely killed 2000 people in a small village in Nigeria  filled with old people and children.  The only mainstream site that I’ve found reporting these massive terror attacks is MSNBC and Melissa Harris Perry. Where the fuck is the outrage on that?

Believe me, I find the Charlie Hebdo killings horrible. And, so do most Muslims, which is another freaking faux meme that keeps floating around when these things happen.  So, Benjamin Netanyahu goes to a rally to bring attention to the shootings.  But what about this? And so I also say fuck off to all those racists that say that no Muslims of any stature condemn religious extremism.

 Hezbollah leader on Charlie Hebdo: ‘Extremists more offensive to Islam than cartoons’.

Islamic extremists following a ‘takfiri’ ideology are more offensive to the Prophet Mohammed than Western satirical cartoons, chief of the Lebanese military faction Hezbollah, Hasan Nasrallah, said following the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack.

“The behavior of the takfiri groups that claim to follow Islam have distorted Islam, the Koran and the Muslim nation more than Islam’s enemies … who insulted the prophet in films… or drew cartoons of the prophet,” the Hezbollah leader said in a televised speech to mark the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed, according to Lebanon’s Daily Star.

Militant Islam practices a ‘takfiri’ doctrine that allows it to brand other Muslims apostates for allegedly going against the faith’s true teachings.

A tragic attack on Wednesday took the lives of 12 people, when armed gunmen stormed the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, prompting a citywide manhunt. The magazine had printed cartoons that mocked the Prophet.

Nasrallah went on to say that “Takfiris are the biggest threat to Islam, as a religion [and] as a message.”

images (3)I hate it when the mainstream media and the popstars of the world get selective on us when it comes to loss of life and to the definition of terror.  Not one child that died in Nigeria of the thousands last week deserves any less media attention and less fashion statements at a televised Hollywood onanist event. Really.

I don’t care if my President attends a rally.  I want him to find a way to stop Boko Harum.  I don’t want my Secretary of State at a Rally.  I want him finding a way to an independent Palestinian state that’s safe from invasion and not treated like a personal gulag.  Joe Biden, well, meh.  Send him.  But frankly, I think it was far more personal for the President to go the French Consul and express condolences  to the French Ambassador and to the People of French in the pages of their book.   I don’t want Faux and Haute Outrage.  I want effective national policy to control our home grown terrorists in the same way the French will be searching for their policies.

There I go getting radical again.  But, today, I am not Charlie.  

Today, I am that 10 year old girl that was used as a human bomb to kill others that no one noticed.  She was probably one of the girls stolen from her school that every one’s now forgotten.  If not, she is still one of “our girls”. There should be no lack of outrage or coverage on this but there is only lack of coverage and and silence.

I also will be waiting for the list of christian leaders expressing outrage at the extremist event to be held in Baton Rouge that’s hosted by our Governor on the January 24th.  On that day, I will be every GLBT person that’s died simply because they were born that way. Now if I could just find a red carpet and some paparazzi. 

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads

painting by Vladimir Tokarev

painting by Vladimir Tokarev

Good Morning!!

I’m getting a slow start today. I guess it must be because I’m so cold. I’ve been up since 6AM, but I’ve been dawdling around reading the news, sipping hot tea, and writing nothing. It’s still only 66 degrees in my house even though I have the thermostat turned up pretty high. My furnace isn’t build to handle below zero temperatures, and at 9AM it is still -3 degrees where I live.

The local NPR weather reporter warned that frostbite can happen in minutes when the temperatures are this low and the wind chill factor is much lower. Schools around here are closed, as are many schools around the country. I need to go out sometime today, so I’m hoping the temperatures will get into the teens by this afternoon. The good news is, there isn’t any snow out there.

According to Dave Collins of the AP, via the Charlotte Observer things are going to get worse before they get better.

Another Alberta clipper barreling down from Canada is bringing more bad winter weather to the Dakotas.

The National Weather Service has posted a variety of blizzard and winter weather advisories, watches and warnings for the Dakotas through Thursday. Not a lot of snow is expected, but winds gusting to 50 mph will blow around the snow that’s on the ground.

In Minnesota, forecasters expect blizzard conditions to develop in a portion of the River Valley. Weather officials say wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph combined with fresh snow will significantly reduce visibility, especially in open, rural areas. A blizzard warning was posted in an area from Granite Falls southeast to Mankato and Albert Lea.

Thank goodness I live in temperate New England, and not the upper Midwest!

Besides the weather, the big story in the news today is the shooting rampage at Charlie Habdo magazine in Paris yesterday.

Vigil in Paris for the Charlie Hebdo victims (NPR)

Vigil in Paris for the Charlie Hebdo victims (NPR)

 

Some background from BBC News:

Charlie Hebdo: Gun attack on French magazine kills 12.

Four of the magazine’s well-known cartoonists, including its editor, were among those killed, as well as two police officers….

The masked attackers opened fire with assault rifles in the office and exchanged shots with police in the street outside before escaping by car. They later abandoned the car in Rue de Meaux, northern Paris, where they hijacked a second car….

Witnesses said they heard the gunmen shouting “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” and “God is Great” in Arabic (“Allahu Akbar”)….

Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier, 47, had received death threats in the past and was living under police protection.

French media have named the three other cartoonists killed in the attack as Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski, as well as Charlie Hebdo contributor and French economist Bernard Maris….

The satirical weekly has courted controversy in the past with its irreverent take on news and current affairs. It was firebombed in November 2011 a day after it carried a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.

The latest tweet on Charlie Hebdo’s account was a cartoon of the Islamic State militant group leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Solidaire avec charlie hepdo by herve pinel

Cartoonists responded to the killings by posting cartoons on twitter. You can see some of them at the links below.

From Euro News, The power of the pen: Cartoonists worldwide react to the Charlie Hebdo attack.

From Buzzfeed, 23 Heartbreaking Cartoons From Artists Responding To The Charlie Hebdo Shooting.

One of the gunmen is in custody, but two are still free, NPR reported yesterday.

French police have taken Hamyd Mourad, 18, into custody after he surrendered to authorities, according to multiple French news outlets. Mourad had been sought in relation to a murderous attack on a satirical magazine’s Paris office Wednesday, but it’s not certain whether he was involved. An ID card belonging to Mourad was reportedly found in the gunmen’s car.

The two central suspects in the attack remain at large; regional police issued a new plea for help in finding two French-born brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, both in their 30s.

They’re believed to be the gunmen who used powerful assault rifles to kill journalists and police officers at the office of the weekly Charlie Hebdo around midday Wednesday.

A police bulletin sought the public's help in finding two suspects in the deadly attack on a satirical magazine's Paris offices Wednesday. Pictured are brothers Cherif (left) and Said Kouachi.

A police bulletin sought the public’s help in finding two suspects in the deadly attack on a satirical magazine’s Paris offices Wednesday. Pictured are brothers Cherif (left) and Said Kouachi.

La prefecture de Police

The Kouachi brothers are said to be French citizens.

This morning, news broke that a policewoman had been killed in Paris, but it was not yet clear that the perpetrators of the magazine attack were involved.

A policewoman was killed in a shootout in southern Paris, but police sources could not immediately confirm a link with Wednesday’s killings at the Charlie Hebdo weekly newspaper that marked the worst attack on French soil for decades.

National leaders and allied states described the assault on Charlie Hebdo, known for its lampooning of Islam and other religions as well as politicians, as an assault on democracy. The bells of Notre-Dame cathedral rang out during a minute’s silence observed across France and beyond….

Montrouge Mayor Jean-Loup Metton said the policewoman and a colleague were attending a reported traffic accident when Thursday’s shooting occurred. Witnesses said the assailant fled in a Renault Clio and police sources said he wore a bullet-proof vest and had a handgun and assault rifle.

But one police officer at the scene told Reuters he did not appear to resemble the Charlie Hebdo shooters.

The Guardian is covering this story heavily, with  live updates on the manhunt.

I am Charlie

A recent story from The Guardian: Police place security cordon around Paris in hunt for Charlie Hebdo killers.

The French president, François Hollande, has led a minute’s silence for the victims of Wednesday’s attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, as police placed a tight security cordon around Paris amid an atmosphere of heightened tension and confusion.

With the search for the gunmen in its second day, there were unconfirmed reports that the suspects had been seen in the Aisne region of north-east France.

In a briefing on Thursday morning, Bernard Cazeneuve, France’s interior minister, said that seven arrests were made overnight, but the two main suspects, brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, were still at large.

There was a heavy police presence at each of the “portes” – the main roads leading into the city – amid unconfirmed reports that the suspects were heading back towards the French capital “at high speed” in a grey Renault Clio.

The two men were reportedly seen in the Aisne region, but the reports were confused. Some French media suggested they had been picked up by cameras at a péage (road toll) stop. Others said they had been identified by the owner of a petrol station near Villers-Cotterêts and a number of reports went even further, suggesting the two men had robbed the petrol station and made off with fuel and food.

The reports suggested that heavy weapons including, allegedly, a Kalashnikov and a rocket launcher, could be seen in the rear of the vehicle.

However, apart from images of areas of Paris, like the north-western suburb of Levallois, completely sealed off and heavily armed police and armoured vehicles at the portes of the city, the reports were unconfirmed and there was no indication that police had located the vehicle.

 

Oh no

 

Two reactions to the Paris killings:

Juan Cole, Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked Satirists in Paris.

The horrific murder of the editor, cartoonists and other staff of the irreverent satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, along with two policemen, by terrorists in Paris was in my view a strategic strike, aiming at polarizing the French and European public.

The problem for a terrorist group like al-Qaeda is that its recruitment pool is Muslims, but most Muslims are not interested in terrorism. Most Muslims are not even interested in politics, much less political Islam. France is a country of 66 million, of which about 5 million is of Muslim heritage. But in polling, only a third, less than 2 million, say that they are interested in religion. French Muslims may be the most secular Muslim-heritage population in the world (ex-Soviet ethnic Muslims often also have low rates of belief and observance). Many Muslim immigrants in the post-war period to France came as laborers and were not literate people, and their grandchildren are rather distant from Middle Eastern fundamentalism, pursuing urban cosmopolitan culture such as rap and rai. In Paris, where Muslims tend to be better educated and more religious, the vast majority reject violence and say they are loyal to France.

Al-Qaeda wants to mentally colonize French Muslims, but faces a wall of disinterest. But if it can get non-Muslim French to be beastly to ethnic Muslims on the grounds that they are Muslims, it can start creating a common political identity around grievance against discrimination.

This tactic is similar to the one used by Stalinists in the early 20th century. Decades ago I read an account by the philosopher Karl Popper of how he flirted with Marxism for about 6 months in 1919 when he was auditing classes at the University of Vienna. He left the group in disgust when he discovered that they were attempting to use false flag operations to provoke militant confrontations. In one of them police killed 8 socialist youth at Hörlgasse on 15 June 1919. For the unscrupulous among Bolsheviks–who would later be Stalinists– the fact that most students and workers don’t want to overthrow the business class is inconvenient, and so it seemed desirable to some of them to “sharpen the contradictions” between labor and capital.

More at the link.

Charlie4

George Packer at The New Yorker, The Blame for the Charlie Hebdo Murders.

The murders today in Paris are not a result of France’s failure to assimilate two generations of Muslim immigrants from its former colonies. They’re not about French military action against the Islamic State in the Middle East, or the American invasion of Iraq before that. They’re not part of some general wave of nihilistic violence in the economically depressed, socially atomized, morally hollow West—the Paris version of Newtown or Oslo. Least of all should they be “understood” as reactions to disrespect for religion on the part of irresponsible cartoonists.

They are only the latest blows delivered by an ideology that has sought to achieve power through terror for decades. It’s the same ideology that sent Salman Rushdie into hiding for a decade under a death sentence for writing a novel, then killed his Japanese translator and tried to kill his Italian translator and Norwegian publisher. The ideology that murdered three thousand people in the U.S. on September 11, 2001. The one that butchered Theo van Gogh in the streets of Amsterdam, in 2004, for making a film. The one that has brought mass rape and slaughter to the cities and deserts of Syria and Iraq. That massacred a hundred and thirty-two children and thirteen adults in a school in Peshawar last month. That regularly kills so many Nigerians, especially young ones, that hardly anyone pays attention.

Because the ideology is the product of a major world religion, a lot of painstaking pretzel logic goes into trying to explain what the violence does, or doesn’t, have to do with Islam. Some well-meaning people tiptoe around the Islamic connection, claiming that the carnage has nothing to do with faith, or that Islam is a religion of peace, or that, at most, the violence represents a “distortion” of a great religion. (After suicide bombings in Baghdad, I grew used to hearing Iraqis say, “No Muslim would do this.”) Others want to lay the blame entirely on the theological content of Islam, as if other religions are more inherently peaceful—a notion belied by history as well as scripture.

A religion is not just a set of texts but the living beliefs and practices of its adherents. Islam today includes a substantial minority of believers who countenance, if they don’t actually carry out, a degree of violence in the application of their convictions that is currently unique.

Click on the link to read the rest.

What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread and have a great day!