Lazy Saturday Reads: Signs of Life After the Snowpocalypse

 crocus snow

Good Morning!!

I can’t wait for spring flowers and warmer weather, can you tell? I have all the symptoms of Spring fever, including inability to concentrate on anything serious, like politics or plane crashes. But I’ll do my best to give you some interesting links on this lazy late March Saturday.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Amanda Knox has finally been freed to live her life without the bizarre Italian legal system breathing down her neck. From the Chicago Tribune: Amanda Knox conviction thrown out by Italian court, closing legal saga.

Amanda Knox, who maintained that she and her former Italian boyfriend were innocent in her British roommate’s murder through multiple trials and nearly four years in jail, was vindicated Friday when Italy’s highest court threw out their convictions once and for all.

“Finished!” Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova exulted after the decision was read out late Friday. “It couldn’t be better than this.”

The surprise decision definitively ends the 7½-year legal battle waged by Knox, 27, and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito, 31, to clear their names in the gruesome 2007 murder and sexual assault of British student Meredith Kercher.

The supreme Court of Cassation panel deliberated for 10 hours before declaring that the two did not commit the crime, a stronger exoneration than merely finding insufficient evidence to convict. Instead, had the court-of-resort upheld the pair’s convictions, Knox would have faced 28 ½ years in an Italian prison, assuming she would have been extradited, while Sollecito had faced 25 years.

“Right now I’m still absorbing what all this means and what comes to mind is my gratitude for the life that’s been given to me,” Knox said late Friday, speaking to reporters outside her mother’s Seattle home.

This case has made me grateful that in the U.S. Constitution contains a double jeopardy clause.

crocus

Things are getting really ugly in Yemen. From The Washington Post: How the Yemen conflict risks new chaos in the Middle East.

The meltdown in Yemen is pushing the Middle East dangerously closer to the wider regional conflagration many long have feared would arise from the chaos unleashed by the Arab Spring revolts.

What began as a peaceful struggle to unseat a Yemeni strongman four years ago and then mutated into civil strife now risks spiraling into a full-blown war between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran over a country that lies at the choke point of one of the world’s major oil supply routes.

With negotiators chasing a Tuesday deadline for the framework of a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, it seems unlikely that Iran would immediately respond militarily to this week’s Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, analysts say.

But the confrontation has added a new layer of unpredictability — and confusion — to the many, multidimensional conflicts that have turned large swaths of the Middle East into war zones over the past four years, analysts say.

The United States is aligned alongside Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and against them in Yemen. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, who have joined in the Saudi offensive in Yemen, are bombing factions in Libya backed by Turkey and Qatar, who also support the Saudi offensive in Yemen. The Syrian conflict has been fueled by competition among all regional powers to outmaneuver one another on battlefields far from home.

Scary. All this because George W. Bush lied us into two needless, unwinnable wars.

Crocus in Boston

Ahramonline: Arab leaders pledge support to Yemen.

Although Saturday’s Arab League summit was due to cover a range of regional topics, the ongoing crisis in Yemen took the lead spot as the summit opened with speeches from Arab leaders.

A Saudi-led military offensive is underway against targets held by Houthi rebels in the turmoil-hit country, with the backing of a number of Arab states.

In his opening speech, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said that military action was  “inevitable” to restore legitimate rule in Yemen.

El-Sisi also said that Egypt has accepted a proposal by a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to form a joint Arab military force to counter the “unprecedented threats” facing the region’s stability.

Arab foreign ministers agreed on a draft resolution to form a joint Arab military force to counter growing security threats in the region. The proposal requires the endorsement of the Arab leaders during the two-day summit this weekend.

Saudi’s King Salman vowed in his opening speech that the military intervention will not stop until Yemen is stable and safe. The monarch said that Saudi Arabia supports the Hadi government’s legitimacy in Yemen and wants stability for the Yemeni population.

He further stated that the situation in the region necessitates an Arab coalition to fight terrorism.

More details from CNN: Arab League to discuss military operation in Yemen.

crocus-in-snow

The Wall Street Journal on the incredibly selfish, suicidal co-pilot of that crashed Germanwings jet: Germanwings Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz Concealed Depression From Airline.

BERLIN—Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot who crashed an airliner into a French mountainside, was being treated for depression, a fact he concealed from his employer, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Mr. Lubitz had been excused from work by his neuropsychologist for a period that included the day of the crash, this person told The Wall Street Journal, but he decided to ignore the advice and reported to work.

The Germanwings tragedy highlights a broader industry dilemma: reliance on pilots themselves to disclose serious physical or psychological ailments to their employer—and what can happen when secrecy urges or privacy considerations trump full disclosure, safety and medial experts say.

Despite mandatory, regular medical exams—supplemented by company-specific safeguards intended to periodically check on aviators’ skills and psychological state—airlines ultimately depend on employees to honestly assess and report when they shouldn’t be flying.

In return, Germanwings, a unit of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, and many other airlines around the globe promise to avoid punishing pilots who comply with that guiding principle.

Read more at the WSJ. As Dakinikat wrote yesterday, this guy could have just shot himself or jumped out of a high window, but instead he decided to take 149 other people–including babies and high school kids–with him when he committed suicide.

Life after Snowpocalypse

A few stories on the terrible explosion in NYC’s East Village:

Newsweek: A Slice of New York City History Goes Up In Smoke.

An explosion in Manhattan’s East Village on Thursday injured an estimated 25 people and destroyed a row of landmarked buildings that have held meaning for generations of New Yorkers. At one time the mayor’s residence was there, and another building housed an iconic vintage-clothing store made popular in the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan.

“It’s a real tragedy. It was scary,” says Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council. “It’s shocking when this happens in an area that’s so close-knit. People really live on the streets here, in a good way. There’s a real community.”

City officials say the March 26 explosion happened at 121 Second Avenue and also damaged the neighboring buildings at 119, 123 and 125. The buildings all were awarded landmark status in October 2012 as part of a designation of an East Village/Lower East Side Historic District. The buildings in that district date mostly to the mid- to late 1800s, a time when wealthier New Yorkers started moving uptown and selling off their properties, which were often turned into tenement housing.

European immigrants began moving into the area in large numbers in the second half of the 19th century. An early influx consisted mostly of Germans, and the area became known as Kleindeutschland, or Little Germany. Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe moved there too and established a vibrant theater district.

“The East Village and the Lower East Side are remarkable in that they’ve seen successive waves of immigrants and new populations coming in and really shaping and affecting the physical environment, bringing with them their social clubs, their gathering places,” Bankoff says.

By the middle of the 20th century, the Village became an epicenter for artists and bohemians.

The historic district, one of 114 in the city, runs north-south from around East 7th Street to East Second Street and east-west from First and Second avenues to the Bowery.

crocuses-in-snow

Click on the above link to continue reading. More details on the fire at ABC News: NYC Building Fire: Restaurant Owner Smelled Gas Before Massive Explosion, Officials Say.

From The New Yorker, a thoughtful and interesting essay on living in the East Village by Sarah Larson: The East Village Fire: Love Saves the Day.

Finally, one of the passengers in the GOP Clown Car, faux libertarian Rand Paul, opens his big mouth and spews nonsense and hate.

From Charles Pierce’s “Stupid for Lunch” cafe: Rand Paul’s Take On Defense Spending. In which the cafe staff starts the five minute clock for Senator Rand Paul.

The staff at the Cafe has a small clock in one particular booth. The booth is reserved for Senator Rand Paul, whenever he stops by for a quick lunch, for which he invariably undertips, when he doesn’t try to beat itout the back door.

Time was when Senator Aqua Buddha entertained us all — five minutes at a time — about how the country was wasting its money on a whole mess of sophisticated boom-boom. The staff knows when to begin the countdown and they begin invariably to whisper again…

Continue reading at the link.

Atheist Ayn Rand must be spinning in her grave over this from TPM.

Rand: ‘Moral Crisis’ Led To Gay Marriage, US Needs Religious Revival.

“Don’t always look to Washington to solve anything,” Paul said during a private prayer breakfast at the Capitol Hill Club.

“In fact, the moral crisis we have in our country — there is a role for us trying to figure out things like marriage — there’s also a moral crisis that allows people to think that there would be some sort of other marriage.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Raw Story: Rand Paul calls for ‘tent revivals’ to resolve the ‘moral crisis’ of gay marriage.

“The moral crisis we have in our country — there is a role for us trying to figure out things like marriage — there’s also a moral crisis that allows people to think there would be some other sort of marriage, ” he explained. “I think the exhortation to try and change people’s thoughts has to come from the countryside.”

The libertarian lawmaker then took a slightly religious turn, saying “You know, I’ve said this before, we need a revival in the country.”

“We need another great awakening with tent revivals of thousands of people saying, you know,’reform or see what’s going to happen if we don’t reform’.”

In a recent interview with Brett Baier of Fox News, Paul admitted that the use of the term ‘marriage’ for same sex couples offends him.

Watch the video at Raw Story. Honestly, I think that cartoon JJ post last night is beginning to make sense. Someone must have put LSD in Rand’s grits when he was a kid. Why would anyone vote for this wacko?

I’d write about the latest “revelations” about Hillary’s emails, but I don’t want to completely depress myself. I have to believe this will all die down before the 2016 primaries.

What have you been hearing and reading? Let us know in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of March. April is coming soon!

 


Wednesday Spring Fever Open Thread

Matisse: Tea in the Garden, 1919

Matisse: Tea in the Garden, 1919

Good Afternoon!

I just found out that JJ isn’t feeling well enough to do a post this morning, so I’m filling in. I have things to do this afternoon, so this will have to be a very quick link dump.

Personally, I have Spring Fever! It has been sunny and not so cold here for the past few days and I’m loving it. We still have piles of snow, but they are shrinking steadily. I think March is going to go out with like lamb here in Boston. AND . . . soon it will be staying light here until almost 7PM. Isn’t Spring great?

Latest Ted Cruz Reactions

The Week: Ted Cruz isn’t really running for president.

Ted Cruz is running for president. Or at least that’s officially what’s happening, according to his FEC filings. But if you actually listen to him, it seems like he is running for something else.

Cruz’s announcement speech at Liberty University was less like a first step toward the Oval Office, than the latest of many steps he has taken to becoming the political leader of the conservative movement. This is distinct from being the nominee of the Grand Old Party, of which that movement is just a devoted part.

There is nothing about Cruz that appeals to people beyond his political sect. The one rhetorical move independents and Democrats may relate to in Cruz’s speech was the tribute to his mother as a glass ceiling–smashing computer programmer. But otherwise his mode of speech is much like Mike Huckabee’s: sentimental, broadly evangelical, and reliant on personal charisma. Although it isn’t easy to pinpoint what about a candidate’s personality rubs a larger demographic cohort the wrong way, Huckabeefared terribly among non-rural, non-Evangelical voters in 2008. Cruz may be headed for the same fate.

Consider Cruz’s overt sense of personal destiny. He makes Mitt Romney seem positively shy. Cruz’s speech implicitly compared Ted Cruz to Patrick Henry, George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan.

Salon: “I may owe Mitt Romney an apology”: Jon Stewart mocks Ted Cruz’s absurdly creepy presidential announcement.

“I may owe Mitt Romney an apology,” Jon Stewart said on Monday’s “Daily Show,” after learning that Cruz and his wife actually practiced waving and kissing before the announcement.  “Even the Mitt Romneytron 3000 didn’t have to rehearse waving and kissing,” he continued.

If you were wondering why so many of the students in the audience looked bored out of their minds (and why one girl was even wearing a Rand t-shirt): It’s because the conservative Christian university required students to attend the Ted Cruz announcement as part of their weekly convocation. No word on whether the university also required students to text “constitution” to an undisclosed number, as per Cruz’s orders.

“Let me clarify this a little bit: Students at Liberty University were required to attend a partisan political speech where a small-government conservative who had just promised he would respect privacy rights, told them if they cared about freedom, text your information to a mysterious address that collects your cell phone number for undisclosed purposes,” Stewart said.

More good stuff in the video (see link). Can you believe Cruz and his wife practiced kissing before the event?

Washington Post: Ted Cruz’s phenomenally bad idea.

Sen. Ted Cruz says he wants to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service. This is a phenomenally bad idea, one so obviously wrongheaded it’s hard to believe he really means it….

This is not the first time Cruz has proposed this. He pitched it on Facebooktwo years ago and in multiple interviews since, even calling it the “single most important tax reform” and priority “No. 2” (after repealing Obamacare) in recent talks. The fact that he might make ending the IRS a centerpiece of a presidential campaign, though, is singularly scary, particularly given Republicans’ demonstrated appetite for cutting the agency’s funding to the bone and beyond….

Well, sorry to say it, but someone has to collect the money that keeps our government up and running, funding everything from Medicare to the military. The IRS is a cash-flow-positive agency, collecting an estimated$255 for every $1 appropriated to it, and dumping it would vastly widen existing government deficits. This is something fiscal conservatives, Cruz included, presumably already know. Yet the view that the IRS’s budget should be minimized, and perhaps zeroed out entirely, is peculiarly popular on the right.

Read more at the WaPo.

Some satire from Andy Borowitz at The New Yorker: President Signs Order Making Ted Cruz Ineligible for Obamacare.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) — Just hours after Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told CNN that he had no choice but to sign up for Obamacare, President Barack Obama signed an executive order making Cruz ineligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

“Clearly, the hardship of receiving Obamacare was causing Ted a great deal of pain,” the President said. “This should take care of that.”

Obama acknowledged that the executive order, which makes Cruz the only American expressly forbidden from signing up for Obamacare, was an extraordinary measure, but added, “I felt it was a necessary humanitarian gesture to protect Ted from the law he hates.”

Germanwings Plane Crash

New York Times: Details Emerging of Passengers Aboard Crashed Germanwings Jet.

A clearer picture began to emerge on Wednesday of the 150 people believed to have lost their lives in the crash of a Germanwings jet in southernFrance.

According to the airline, at least 67 Germans, including two infants, were on the Airbus A320 that crashed on Tuesday on its way to Düsseldorf,Germany, from Barcelona, Spain. Many Spaniards were also aboard. The passengers included two opera singers, as well as a class of 16 German high school students returning from a study program near Barcelona, along with their two teachers.

Germanwings was working to notify families before releasing further information about the 144 passengers and six crew members who were on the plane. But some countries whose citizens were aboard began to confirm their identities, and details also emerged from other sources.

Also from the Times: Challenges Weigh Heavily on Recovery Efforts in Crash of Germanwings Jet.

Read all about it at the paper of record.

Iran and Israel News

Jerusalem Post: US Democrats say Israel’s efforts on Iran are backfiring.

Following months of intensified calls by Israel to block any deals with Iran, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech to Congress, members of the US senate say that theiropinions on a nuclear deal with Iran have not budged.

Read the responses from Senators at the link.

Politico: Boehner ‘shocked’ by reports Israel spied on Iran talks

Speaker John Boehner said he was “shocked” by a Wall Street Journal report Tuesday morning that said the Israelis were spying on negotiations by the U.S. and other world powers to strike a nuclear deal with Iran.

“I read that story this morning, and frankly, I was a bit shocked because there’s no information revealed to me whatsoever,” Boehner, a Republican from Ohio told reporters Tuesday morning. He added, “I was shocked by the fact that there were reports in this press article that information was being passed on from the Israelis to members of Congress. I’m not aware of that at all.”

He probably had a few too many before the meeting at which the leaks were discussed.

LA Times: Iran nuclear deal close; both sides face harsh politics at home.

If all goes according to plan, U.S. officials will return home from here next week declaring they have reached a historic agreement that will restrict Iran’s nuclear program forever.

Iranian officials will be in Tehran triumphantly explaining that they have secured a deal that will free Iran in a few years to pursue its nuclear program just like any other country.

Major international agreements usually require both sides to acknowledge they’ve given ground. Because of the brutal politics of the nuclear issue, however, neither side has much room to acknowledge compromise.

As a result, over the next few months, U.S. and Iranian officials are likely to be making starkly contradictory cases about the deal they have reached, both seeking to sell it at home.

Inside windowless negotiating rooms here, “we can talk about looking for a middle ground,” said a European diplomat said, who declined to be identified discussing the sensitive negotiations.

“Outside in the light, it’s harder.”

GOP Clown Car

Salon: Jeb’s “James Baker” problem: Why hawks are turning on the “anti-Israel” Bush

Aren’t GOP presidential politics just great? You wake up one morning and suddenly Jeb Bush is the “anti-Israel candidate” in the Republican presidential primary field.

 How did this happen? Last we checked, Jeb Bush loved the dickens out of Israel. He’s been very clear about his deep affection for any and everything that (the right wing of) Israel does. “Governor Bush’s support for Israel and its Prime Minister is clear,” Bush’s spokesperson, Kristy Campbell said Monday night. This is perfectly in line with his support for the dumb Tom Cotton letter, and his insistence that the nuclear deal being negotiated with Iran is “bad” and should be rejected because Israel. Et cetera et cetera, SO ON, AND SO ON. Jeb Bush has no interest in straying from the prevailing party line on Israel, which is that American foreign policy should be conducted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But why, pray tell, was Kristy Campbell issuing this reassurance of Jeb Bush’s deep, unwavering, total love for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel late on a Monday night? Because James Baker, the former White House chief of staff, Treasury Secretary, and Secretary of State under Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr., had just addressed the annual J Street conference.

J Street is the advocacy group founded as a more liberal counterpart to AIPAC. It is critical of the Israeli right wing and does not see it as helping the prospects for peace in the Middle East. So naturally conservatives see J Street as a radical extremist left-wing terrorist organization in bed with the mullahs of Iran and hellbent on securing the total annihilation of Israel. (The views of American Jews at large, meanwhile, tend to align with J Street’s.)

Fascinating. I actually don’t think Jeb has a serious chance for the nomination. For one thing, he has zero charisma. He comes across as stuffy and boring.

Raw Story: Bill O’Reilly tells David Letterman: I’ve never ‘fibbed’ on the air ‘that I know of’

“Have you ever fibbed on the air?” Letterman asked the Factor host.

“Fibbed? Not that I know of,” O’Reilly responded. “What I do is analysis — different from what other people do. So I bioviate and give my opinion, as you well know. But it’s not worth it for me to do that.”

Letterman countered that there was a common factor linking O’Reilly’s editorializing and NBC’s Brian Williams’ position as a network anchor.

“Trust is the residue of both positions,” the Late Showhost said. “People must trust you to the same degree. They might disagree with you, but they must trust you, the same way they trust Brian Williams.”

Fibbed? No, but he’s told hundreds of bald faced lies; and Fox viewers trust him because they can’t tell the difference between reality and propaganda.

Raw Story: Watch Sarah Palin push a Koch-backed scheme to kill the VA and replace it with vouchers.

Sarah Palin is using recent scandals to apparently push for the dismantling of the Veterans Administration.

The federal agency has been rocked in recent months by scandals – including the deaths of at least 40 veterans awaiting care at facilities in Arizona — that resulted in a shakeup of its top leadership.

New VA Secretary Robert McDonald was recently forced to apologize after misstating his military service record while speaking to a veteran during a photo opportunity, which Palin said called his character into question.

Palin cited these and other incidents in a Facebook video posted Tuesday evening as justification to “clean house” at the VA and “fire bad employees like we do out in the private sector.”

“It’s time to reform the VA so thoroughly that vets don’t have to depend on it for their basic needs,” Palin said.

That’s about as good an idea as Ted Cruz’s proposal to abolish the IRS.

Spring Clean by Mariette Voke

Spring Clean by Mariette Voke

So . . . . What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of your early Spring Wednesday.


Wednesday Reads: Nessie makes another appearance…

tumblr_mv8molh3hr1rph6wgo2_1280Good Morning

And…the news of the world…Loch Ness Monster shows herself to tourist…is “captured on film.”

(Hey, after days of Hillary Hate, I will take a story about the shy lost creature of the deep any day.)

A mother and daughter visiting Scotland for the first time believe they may have caught a glimpse of the elusive Loch Ness monster.

Consuela Ross and her daughter Reyshell Avellanoza were visiting from the Philippines when they visited the scenic body of water.

They were enjoying the view when something appeared to raise itself out of the water in front of them.

nessie

The object sank out of sight…nessie

… leaving a “whirlpool” behind itRoss told the Scottish Daily Record they were taking pictures when someone pointed out a disturbance on the lake.

She said: “She said it looked like a big black belly. We looked and could see this big disturbance quite a way out and this big black object in the middle of it.

Wow.

I was a little disappointed when I saw the pictures. I thought for sure that with a head line like: “captured on film” the beastie would have showed a lot more skin, scale, or whatever it is covered in.

Loch Ness Monster: Tourists Capture New Footage Of Legendary Beast

The group claims the monster dove under the waves just as they began filming, narrowly missing capturing the beast on camera.
Reyshell Avellanoza and her daughter were visiting Scotland last week from the Philippines, touring Loch Ness while they were in the country, according to the Aberdeen Press and Journal. While on the shores of the loch, they claim to have observed a large object rising from the waves, which they are convinced was the Loch Ness Monster. Unfortunately, they were so transfixed by what they were observing that they neglected to photograph it in time, instead capturing the monster’s wake after it dove once again.

Video at that link, you can see just how big the whirlpool gets after the thing goes under.

However, Nessie was not the only thing at Lock Ness making a big show…check this out: Stunning image shows meteor streaking across sky above Loch Ness | Fox News

It’s an incredible image – the bright tail of a meteor streaking across the clear night sky above Scotland’s Loch Ness. The image, which has been trending online, was an “absolute fluke,” according to John Alasdair Macdonald, a tour guide based in the Scottish Highlands, who captured the rare shot.

meteorpic1

Macdonald told the Independent that he headed outside Monday night with his Sony RX100 compact camera to take shots of what he described as a beautiful evening. While walking, he noticed the meteor shooting across the sky.

“As my wife said, it was just sheer dumb luck,” he said. “It was a complete fluke, an absolute fluke.”

 

765b492eb5202a4a8e5dc13b434379fcThat is some picture. Perhaps the meteor is what summoned Nessie to the surface?

Could it be a sign that the alien apocalypse is shortly upon us?

I mean, the being’s from another world certainly would not be coming to earth looking for intelligent life, right?

Missouri executed an inmate who had asked for a stay because part of his brain was removed – The Washington Post

More than four decades after an accident at a sawmill sent a piece of wood into Cecil Clayton’s skull, costing him a portion of his brain, the state of Missouri executed him Tuesday night for shooting and killing a police officer.

Clayton, 74, had petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to delay his lethal injection. His attorneys argued that because of the sawmill accident, he had an intellectual disability and therefore cannot be put to death. However, the Supreme Court denied his stay requests on Tuesday evening, rejecting all of his petitions for the justices to intervene and prevent his execution.

Clayton was sentenced to death for shooting and killing Christopher Castetter, a sheriff’s deputy in Purdy, Mo., in 1996. Attorneys for Clayton are not arguing that he is innocent, but instead point to his brain injury in asking the justices to act.

ff06b8375ead4a83eed456fb9630de6cBrain injury? Yeah, the dude was missing a chunk of it.

Clayton’s attorneys outlined the crime that resulted in his death sentence. They wrote that the police were called about Clayton trespassing around the home of his girlfriend’s mother. When Castetter was dispatched, they say, Clayton shot him and later said that Castetter “probably should have just stayed home” and “shouldn’t have smarted off to me.” But they note that Clayton also said he “wasn’t out there,” before going on to outline issues involving his intelligence and memory.

This argument has its origins in an accident that occurred in 1972. Clayton, who was a logger and sawmill operator, was working at his sawmill when a piece of wood broke off and stabbed into his skull. He was taken to a hospital, where he stayed for nine days, and he ultimately lost 7.7 percent of his brain and 20 percent of his frontal lobe, according to his attorneys.

As his attorneys describe it, Clayton “changed drastically and immediately” after the injury. Before the injury, they write that he was a married father who stopped drinking, became a preacher and traveled the country with his family, singing gospel and playing his guitar; afterward, he began drinking again, became depressed and violent, suffered memory loss and experienced hallucinations.

6621abfd5d4c619ef79bc25223227782Damn. See what I mean, give me a fucking monster story or flaming rock picture any day.

Penn State is in the news and it is because of some possible sex abuse, but it does not involve little boys this time. It does involve a fraternity and some secret Facebook pictures: Penn State Fraternity’s Secret Facebook Photos May Lead to Criminal Charges – NYTimes.com

Within the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity at Pennsylvania State University, the Facebook page and its photographs — of drugs, hazing and nude, unconscious women — were supposed to be among its brotherhood’s secrets.

But the clandestine website, known as 2.0 after a previous manifestation was discovered and shut down, has, since mid-January, been the subject of a police inquiry that this month led to the suspension of the fraternity’s Penn State chapter and could result in criminal charges.

3833a4f65a9b0b825e1406f12689e82b“The evidence offered by the Facebook postings is appalling, offensive and inconsistent with the university community’s values and expectations,” Damon Sims, Penn State’s vice president for student affairs, said Tuesday in a statement. “We are confident that the various investigative and review processes, both internal and external to the university, will determine responsibility in this case. The university will hold accountable any groups and individuals found responsible.”

This is disgusting.

The Police Department here learned about the website in January when a former member of the fraternity walked into a police station and asked to meet with the authorities about what he thought might be criminal conduct. The man, who has since been declared a “cooperating informant,” eventually showed investigators printed copies of some of the photographs that appeared online.

“Some of the postings were of nude females that appeared to be passed out and nude or in other sexual or embarrassing positions,” a detective wrote in an affidavit included with a January search warrant application. “It appears from the photos provided that the individuals in the photos are not aware that the photos had been taken.”

e929632af9a7fb9998bf81a171bf4c44You must go to the link to read the rest of the details. I hope the investigation is a thorough one, and that people are held accountable…and not let of the hook.

Last night Boston Boomer linked to a news alert: White House is mailed package with cyanide – CNN.com

The White House received an envelope this week containing a substance that testing revealed to be cyanide, the Secret Service confirmed Tuesday.

“On Monday 3/16/15, an envelope was received at the White House Mail Screening Facility. Initial Biological testing was negative; however, on 03/17/15, the chemical testing returned a presumptive positive for cyanide,” said Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary in a statement. “The sample was transported to another facility to confirm the results.”

[…]

61FIQ72NndLThere were no injuries or exposure concerns for the person at the mail sorting facility who opened the letter, said a law enforcement official.

The envelope was initially reported by the Intercept, which received an internal law enforcement document that alerted staff to the incident.

“An envelope containing an unknown milky substance, in a container wrapped in a plastic bag, received at the White House Mail Screening Facility, tested positive for cyanide,” the alert read.

According to the Intercept, the alert identified the man listed as the return address on the envelope as having a long history with the Secret Service, dating back to 1995. That history includes an incident in which the man sent a package covered in urine and feces.

Nice. So does this mean the possible suspect doesn’t like the Clintons either?

How many of you think the address led to this guy’s house:

The caption on this picture is, "Newt does wicked deeds."

The caption on this picture is, “Newt does wicked deeds.”

Surely, you think I say that in jest?

I mean, they are traitors in my opinion…at least those 47.

Hey, the GOP is willing to get further along in the covert area of special ops:

Did James O’Keefe Try to Plant an Undercover Operative in Ferguson to Incite Protesters to Violence? – Little Green Footballs

41b62a7e3f852cc40e62e52b9e49a2d7I think you can guess what is going on with that shitfest of plenty. Go to LGF to read the details.

In other gut wrenching news: Racist dad doesn’t allow daughter at black girl’s birthday – NY Daily News

You just can’t make this shit up:

A 10-year-old girl was trying to have a birthday party and a race relations discussion broke out.

African-American child Harmony Jones invited a friend to her party on Friday night in Memphis, Tenn., but the young girl got a stunning magic marker note in return: her friend’s dad wouldn’t let her attend due to the birthday girl’s race, WREG-TV reported.

The unidentified child wrote in blue, green and pink, “Maby [SIC] I will not be able to come to your birthday sleepover, because my dad will not let me go because you are black.”

The girl added, “Not trying to be races [SIC], but my mom let me go. Happy birthday!”

Despite the shocking illustration of one parent’s prejudice, the episode shouldn’t be viewed as either a reflection on the children’s school, Highland Oaks Elementary School, or the community that’s changed around it in the Hickory Hill area, Highland Oaks PTA president Barbara Davis told the Daily News.

“We have a lot wider variety of populations at the school, but, in saying that, we’ve been a very close group,” said Davis, who has three children attending the school and denounced the letter as a regrettable isolated incident. “I’m calling them ignorant, but it’s their choice to feel that way, right or wrong.”

Don_Quixote__Man_of_La_Mancha_by_ContrappostoDavis declined to state the racial breakdown of the elementary school, noting that the birthday party was not a school-sanctioned event. But she acknowledged that the area had changed in recent years, a story told vividly by census data for the zip code occupied by the school.

How the hell do these assholes sleep with themselves.

I don’t know, it makes me think that we are all chasing windmills…

Researchers find remains of ‘Don Quixote’ author Miguel de Cervantes (+video) – CSMonitor.com

Archeologists announced on Tuesday that the remains of Spain’s most renowned writer, Miguel de Cervantes, have been discovered in a convent in Madrid.

imglarge-honor-daumier-quixote-HD01Cervantes, who died in 1616, is known as the father of the modern novel. He wrote Don Quixote, a tale of an errant knight and his loyal sidekick, Sancho Panza. Originally written in Spanish, this two volume epic has been translated into more than 60 languages.

Now it seems that his remains, along with those of his wife and several others, were found by a team of researchers in the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid. Cervantes had asked to be buried in the convent after the order of nuns helped free him when he was captured by pirates in 1575, but the exact location was forgotten when the convent was rebuilt in the 17th century.

“He’s there,” historian Fernando de Prado told the Guardian, referencing fragmented bones found in the floor of the crypt. “We know that some of these bones belong to Cervantes.”

Take a look at the link to learn more about the legend of Cervantes grave…they are hoping to have the crypt open to the public in time for the 400 year anniversary of Cervantes death which comes around next year.

27d3b4077f973deb36203d559afc3ca6

I will end with this clip from the film The Milagro Beanfield War.

The Coyote Angel says, “Don Amarante de Cordoba, I see windmills…on your horizon.”

Exactly.

Netanyahu Soundly Defeats Chief Rival in Israeli Elections

See what I mean…Windmills indeed.

More links to come in the comments below.

 


Sunday Reads: Elephants and Landmines, a Seemingly Awful Combination.

92782361561deba1673a31126f83c035Good Afternoon

Hey, what do you know?

Elephants can smell land mines.

Elephants have become the latest creatures to join humans in the battle to detect explosives and potentially save lives.

Researchers in South Africa have proven that the enormous creatures can sniff out explosives using their keen sense of smell.

It was first noticed that elephants can detect explosives in Angola, when the creatures returned following a war in 2002, which left the ground littered with mines.

Researchers wanted to uncover whether elephants could smell the explosives, or whether they avoided certain areas because elephants had died there in the past.

To make their findings, experts gave elephants in Bela-Bela, a town north of the South African capital of Pretoria, smelling tests.

The remarkable animals were able pick up TNT samples 73 out of the 74 times in a line of buckets, according to Ashadee Kay Miller, a zoology student at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, MailOnline reported.

0000-5601Read more about just how few mistakes the elephants made at the link.

They use other animals to sniff out land mines, including dogs and rats…which seems like a more logical answer to me. I mean, if a rat missteps on a landmine and bang….little mess.

But an elephant?

What will you see when you see an elephant step on a landmine?

KABOOM!

I’ll tell you one thing, it sure a shit won’t be a small showing.

But back to the elephants….Elephants can also smell water a kabillion miles away as well…so perhaps California could make use of them as well?

California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now? – LA Times

 

Given the historic low temperatures and snowfalls that pummeled the eastern U.S. this winter, it might be easy to overlook how devastating California’s winter was as well.

d44a1c149caa6ffc5864392d874c0cd7As our “wet” season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows. We’re not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we’re losing the creek too.

Statewide, we’ve been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011. Roughly two-thirds of these losses are attributable to groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley. Farmers have little choice but to pump more groundwater during droughts, especially when their surface water allocations have been slashed 80% to 100%. But these pumping rates are excessive and unsustainable. Wells are running dry. In some areas of the Central Valley, the land is sinking by one foot or more per year.

6d50e447784218c041419d7dff3ddd03As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought. NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century.

Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.

Well, that is a scary last paragraph there. More of that op/ed at the link.

I know that the beginning of the post was lighthearted, however now I need to touch on some of the destruction set in motion over the last 48 hours in the South Pacific.

Vanuatu cyclone wreaks destruction in paradise | The Australian

473855652660a1359f469d1cd5de55c6IN A terrible irony on the eve of the cyclone that has devastated Vanuatu, the Pacific paradise was branded the number one nation in the world in its vulnerability to natural disasters.

Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu as the UN was hosting its third world conference on disaster risk reduction in Sendai, Japan.

That meeting heard that over the past 45 years the Asia Pacific region has suffered cumulative economic losses of $A1.49 trillion from natural disasters, and had lost more than 2 million lives. And Vanuatu, according to a key report presented to delegates, was the country most at risk in the entire world, followed by Tonga, The Philippines, Japan and Costa Rica.

Today, as the island nation begins to count its dead and the economic cost of the weekend destruction, it will need all its trad­itional resilience to live up to its name. Vanuatu means “Our Land Forever,” a phrase that has always struck an appropriately defiant note in the face of the many threats it faces.

Item_22827_1In this latest challenge, winds of up to 270km per hour ripped through the island group, after building speed as the cyclone passed first over Kiribati and then Solomon Islands immediately to Vanuatu’s north west. Alice Clements, a spokeswoman for UNICEF, who was in Port Vila, told Reuters that as the cyclone hit the city, “it felt like the world was coming to an end”.

Be sure to read that article, it has a lot of information, about the island nation…it’s people and what they will be going through after the clean up.

59ca4cffedf2d02b0fb80d62b62771d9Cyclone Pam hit the island as a Category 5. First aid teams reach Vanuatu, find widespread devastation after cyclone | Reuters

The first aid teams to reach Vanuatu reported widespread devastation on Sunday as authorities declared a state of emergency after a “monster” cyclone tore through the Pacific island nation.

With winds of more than 300 kph (185 mph), Cyclone Pam razed homes, smashed boats and washed away roads and bridges as it struck late on Friday and into Saturday. Aid workers described the situation as catastrophic.

[…]

Aid workers were particularly worried about the southern island of Tanna. An official with the Australian Red Cross told Reuters an aircraft had managed to land there and aid workers confirmed there was “widespread destruction”.

“Virtually every building that is not concrete has been flattened,” said the official, adding two deaths had been confirmed on the island which has a population of about 29,000 and is about 200 km (125 miles) south of the capital, Port Vila.

circusprocessionelephants1888Witnesses in Port Vila described sea surges of up to eight metres (26 feet) and widespread flooding as the category 5 cyclone hit. Residents said the storm sounded like a freight train. Port Vila was strewn with debris and looked as if a bomb had gone off.

More on this story:

Communication blackout causes confusion in Vanuatu – World News | TVNZ

Pacific nation devastated by historic Cyclone Pam – Video at that link.ringling-brothers-circus-performing-elephant

From volcanoes to snorkelling, a snapshot of Vanuatu | GulfNews.com

Vanuatu Struggles to Account for Cyclone Deaths | Al Jazeera America

Cyclone Pam: Vanuatu death toll rises as Australia pledges $5m in aid – as it happened | World news | The Guardian

 

And then, on the other side of the world, a tragic bus accident: Brazil bus crash: at least 40 dead after plunge off cliff | World news | The Guardian

At least 40 people died on Saturday when a passenger bus drove off a cliff in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, police said.

The bus, en route from the neighbouring state of Parana, swerved off a curve and fell dozens of metres 3490before crashing in a wooded area. Rescue crews were bringing up dozens of bodies as well as survivors.

The bus was about six miles (10km) from its destination in the city of Joinville when it crashed. Highway and weather conditions at the time were good, a police spokesman said.

Though no immediate cause for the crash had been determined, police said it appeared the brakes on the bus failed.

Brazil has some of Latin America’s deadliest roads. Despite nearly a decade of sustained economic growth that only slowed in recent years, the country has done little to improve or expand its creaky infrastructure.

 

Alright, back to the other links:

Jeb Bush used personal email to discuss security issues – Wash Post | Reuters

Likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush used his personal email while governor of Florida to discuss troop deployments, nuclear plant protection and other such matters, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

The report followed revelations that Democrat Hillary Clinton, also seen as a likely presidential candidate, used a personal email account exclusively during her time as secretary of state, raising questions about security and transparency.

On his personal account, jeb@jeb.org, Bush discussed the Florida National Guard’s movements and training activities as well as his decision to provide less security to nuclear power plants in the state, the newspaper reported.

Beatty-PosterBush aides told the Post that none of the emails contained sensitive or classified information, and many of the events mentioned in them were documented in press accounts. But security experts say private email systems such as the one used by Bush are more vulnerable to hackers.

Democrats have attempted to divert the focus on Clinton’s use of a personal email account to conduct work as U.S. secretary of state by saying that Bush used the same practice in Florida, where he was governor from 1999 to 2007.

 

Then you have this, Hillary Clinton’s Over-Played Woman Card | RealClearPolitics

Really?

Last week, the Wall Street Journal featured “A Better World, Run By Women,” a rather hilarious essay penned by Emory anthropology professor Melvin Konner. As more women gain power around the world, Konner argued, the better our lives will be. “Research has found,” he wrote, “that women are superior to men in most ways that will count in the future.”

Konner was just warming up. “There is every reason to think that a future national hierarchy staffed and led by women who no longer have to imitate men, dealing with other nations similarly transformed, would be less likely to go to war,” he added. “But that’s not all. Sex scandals, financial corruption and violence are all overwhelmingly male.”

1-circus-poster-1899-grangerI assume he wrote this with a straight face. I also assume that he has never watched The Real Housewives of New Jersey, attempted to score half-price designer shoes at the Barney’s Warehouse Sale, or patronized a crowded Chuck E. Cheese’s that serves liberal amounts of alcohol in an over-the-hill and questionably located strip mall. (Hint: There are often fights.)

That shitty piece is written by a woman by the way…I won’t quote any more from it, you can go and read the rest of the bait at the link if you really want to. That is if you feel like getting in a pissy mood.

So after a link to an article like that, how about a link to someone good…that cares about her fellow women: Feminists don’t hate men. But it wouldn’t matter if we did | Jessica Valenti | Comment is free | The Guardian

f570d82707d24ff52575b965f3ebb1a5One of the most common derisive taunts thrown at feminists – and one of the oldest – is “manhater”. It’s been around since the days of suffrage, and still gets used today, though its a pretty anodyne insult. Most feminists, like me, shun the label and work to convince people that despite the stereotypes feminists absolutely, without a doubt, do not hate men.

But so what if we did?

It’s not that I recommend hating men or think it a particularly wise use of one’s time, but to each her own. Straight white men still hold the majority of political, economic and social power in the world, and everyone else struggles to make their lives work with less. So if the worst thing that happens to a man is that a woman doesn’t like him …well, he has it pretty damn good. It’s not as if we’re living in some sort of Wicker Man-inspired dystopia, after all.

Besides, when women hate men, we hurt their feelings. When men hate women, they kill us: mass shootings have been attributed to misogyny, and sexual and domestic violence against women is often fuelled by a hatred for women.

That’s why it’s so hard to take seriously any claims that “misandry” is a tremendous problem – they’re based on the idea that merely insulting men is similar to the life-threatening misogyny women face worldwide. (Most recently, Newsday writer Cathy Young argued that men being called “mansplainers” or rape apologists is akin to the rape and death threats that women get online.)

But a younger generation of feminists has embraced what Slate writer Amanda Hess calls “ironic misandry”. Hess wrote last year that the rise in popularity of “male tears” mugs and man-hating inspired shirts and crafts serves as a sort of fuck-you to the constant barrage of harassment that feminists often face: “On its most basic level, ironic misandry functions like a stuck-out tongue pointed at a playground bully.”

Finish it up at the link.

Hey, check this out: Republican Votes for Loretta Lynch May Be at Historic Low

The most amazing thing about the Loretta Lynch story is that the congressional community no longer views it as amazing.

Lynch is on course to be confirmed this month after the longest wait ever for a nominee to be attorney general — and very likely by the closest vote ever to put a new person in charge of the Justice Department.

When Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that the Senate debate on the nomination would begin next week, it marked 17 weeks and three days since President Barack Obama announced his choice for one of the most prestigious and pivotal positions in his Cabinet. At the time, Lynch was assured the bare minimum level of public support required for victory. Only four Republicans have announced they’ll join the 46 members of the Democratic Caucus in voting for her, meaning that at least for the time being Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had best keep his March travel schedule a bit flexible.

Still, her sluggishly contentious path toward becoming the nation’s top law enforcement official has garnered relatively little public attention. That’s in large part because Lynch hasn’t become a focus of the daily partisan histrionics on the Hill or on cable news. And a big reason for that is because neither side views the fundamental dispute over her — extraordinary as it is by historical standards — to be remarkable at all in the context of today.

One more feminist article: TripAdvisor removes ‘feminist’ review | UK news | The Guardian

A review in which a customer described seeing a manager biting a waitress and slapping her on the bottom has been removed by TripAdvisor for contravening its guidelines.

And lastly…Cuba is coming into the 20th Century: Free Wi-Fi in Havana Shows Cuba’s Telecommunications Future — The Atlantic

People use a free Wi-Fi network at a center run by famed artist Kcho, in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, March 11, 2015. (Desmond Boylan/AP)

It’s an image that’s familiar around the world: A group of young people, glued to their laptops or smart phones, lounging around a public space and taking advantage of free, wireless Internet. But in Cuba, this scene is far from ordinary. When the famed artist Kcho provided wi-fi at his cultural center some weeks ago, he established the first such venue in the country’s history. Now, in a rapidly changing Cuba, milestones like this have become more commonplace.

To its beneficiaries, free wi-fi is about more than gaining access to computer games and social media.  It also involves establishing contact with the outside world. One 20-year-old at the cultural center was using wi-fi to chat with his father, who lives in the United States.

“Thanks to this service I can talk to him,” the man, Adonis Ortiz, told theWashington Post.

This is something amazing indeed…

At least I think so. Not on the political front, but just in terms of a cultural standpoint. We are talking about a country driven by the car wheels of the 50’s…literally.

Three months after President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuba would normalize relations, the island’s long period of isolation appears to be coming to an end—and telecommunications is just one dimension of the change. On Saturday, a group of 80 civic and business leaders will travel from New Orleans to Havana to attend a conference, marking the first direct flight between the two cities in 57 years. And next week, a New York-based tour operator will launch a weekly charter flight between the Cuban capital and New York’s JFK airport.

c8a1ff4ab00e33ce0bf90000bd362d6eStill, Cuba’s antiquated communications infrastructure presents an obstacle to economic development. In anticipation of restored U.S-Cuban ties, Havana is seeking billions of dollars in foreign direct investment across a range of sectors, but the lack of IT resources hampers these relationships. Nine out of 10 Cubans lack access to a mobile phone, and Internet connections are slow and subject to government censorship. State-run Internet cafes in the country charge $4.50 an hour for online access, a huge sum where the average monthly salary is about $20. Broadband Internet connections in Cuban homes are virtually unheard of.

The transition to a modern, Internet-driven economy won’t happen overnight. Nor is it certain to force political change. In the U.S., critics of normalization have argued that establishing closer economic ties to Cuba will only empower the Castro regime. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and probable presidential candidate, has cited evidence that engagement with other Communist countries did not compel them to liberalize.

“We have those policies of normalization toward Vietnam, for example, toward China,” Rubio said in December. “They’re not any more politically free today than they were when that normalization happened.”

Kcho’s cultural center offering free wi-fi in Havana, too, offers little promise of political liberalization—the center even hosted Fidel Castro last year. But for Cubans long deprived of the quality Internet service the developed world takes for granted, getting online has less to do with politics than with daily conveniences such as communicating with friends and buying things off the web. Belkis Baisal, a bed and breakfast operator in Havana, told AFP that regular Internet access will allow her to advertise her rooms. Normalization, she said, is a positive sign.

“It’s better to have friends than enemies.”

994c441c3f09e9bc9af0505de8a27bf4I hope all that goes as it goes…but with this new techno invading the island nation…does this also mean that eventually the Cubans will have to deal with people addicted to their iPhones too?

Omg! Stop texting while u walk before you get hurt

In an October (2014) survey, 40 percent of more than 1,000 teens said they had been hit or nearly hit by a car while walking, the organization Safe Kids Worldwide reported. And 85 percent of those said they were listening to music, talking on their phones or texting when it happened.

Researcher Jack Nasar at the University of Ohio calculated that more than 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2010 for injuries suffered while using their cellphones.

That was almost six times as many as five years earlier.

And Nasar said the number was probably much higher since it isn’t strictly tracked. He hasn’t followed up since, although he and others are working on a study of just how prevalent cellphone use is on the street.

Several hospitals in the Lower Hudson Valley said they don’t ask people if they were texting when they got hurt. And patients may be too embarrassed to volunteer the information.

“They may not want to admit they were an idiot,” Nasar said.

 

d5e65398512f40112da82ffd5e998572How Your Cell Phone Hurts Your Relationships – Scientific American

Most of us are no stranger to this scenario:  A group of friends sits down to a meal together, laughing, swapping stories, and catching up on the news – but not necessarily with the people in front of them!  Nowadays, it’s not unusual to have one’s phone handy on the table, easily within reach for looking up movie times, checking e-mails, showing off photos, or taking a call or two.  It’s a rare person who doesn’t give in to a quick glance at the phone every now and then.  Today’smultifunctional phones have become anindispensable lifeline to the rest of the world.

We might expect that the widespread availability of mobile phones boosts interpersonal connections, by allowing people to stay in touch constantly.  But a recent set of studies by Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex showed that our phones can hurt our close relationships. Amazingly, they found that simply having a phone nearby, without even checking it, can be detrimental to our attempts at interpersonal connection.

Put down the smartphone! ‘Technoference’ can hurt your relationship – Health – TODAY.com

It’s been a long, terrible day. As you recount your struggles, you suddenly notice your partner is furiously typing on his phone. Your anger boils (you’ve forgotten that you did the same thing to him just yesterday). It’s time to step away from the smartphone, put down the tablet, shut the laptop and turn off the TV. A slew of recent researchsuggests that if people want happy relationships, they need to stop clinging to technology.

In a new study, Coyne asked 143 married or cohabitating women to answer questions about technology use and relationships. She wanted to understand how technology encroaches on our lives and relationships, what she calls “technoference.” The vast majority of respondents, 70 percent, said using a cell phone interrupted interactions between them and their partners sometimes, often, very often or all the time. Even more, 74 percent, said that computers sometimes, often, very often or all the time disturbed their interactions with partners.

The women who reported technoference also said they fought more with their partners, which made them feel badly about their relationships. On top of this, they felt more depressed and less satisfied with life.

forepaugh-clown-elephant“What I think the most important finding is, the more you let the technology interfere, the more conflict you have with your spouse or partner and that leads to not feeling great about the relationship,” she says.

Still there’s other research showing that cell phone dependence can be unhealthy.

“Cell phone attachment is positively related to an increase in stress and anxiety and even depression,” says James A. Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University Hankamer School of Business.

In a 2012 paper, Roberts coined the word “phub,” a mash-up of phone and snub. Phubbing occurs when someone chooses to play with an app, text or take a phone call instead of paying attention to a person.

“Essentially, what we are saying is that you don’t matter,” he says. “It touches at our core.”

 

Oh boy…the horror…..Cubans are a hot-blooded people, believe me I know from my experience. But we are also a passionate emotionally connected people with a strong culture of close associations. We are not a cold group of people either…we hug…human contact is big with us. So I hope that those kinds of cultural values don’t change as technology seeps into Cuba. I can’t say if it has changed within out own communities here in the US…as I have been stuck in Hicktown Banjoville for so dang long, but I can at least hope and pretend things are still the same back home in West Tampa. It’s all I got sometimes, when all around me is fried chicken and racist ignorance. I do miss the days when there were more colors in my world….all types of colors.

You all have a great day.


Thursday Reads

my-morning-coffee-leon-zernitsky

Good Morning!!

Actually, my morning hasn’t gone very well so far, but I’m hoping that will turn around soon. I’ve been having strange computer problems that are still ongoing, but I’m going to do the best I can to get this post up anyway. For some reason I can no longer use any browser on my computer and let me tell you, posting to WordPress with Internet Explorer is a %$^&&& nightmare!

Anyway, on to the news of the day.

News broke early this morning that two police officers had been shot outside police headquarters in Ferguson, Missouri. The two wounded officers are not from Ferguson. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports: Two police officers are shot in Ferguson.

The shots were fired just after midnight as police were confronting protesters who had gathered outside the police station.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said one officer was with his department and the other was with the Webster Groves department. Both were being treated at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where Belmar spoke, and were in serious condition.

The chief said at least three shots were fired. He described the injuries of both men as “very serious gunshot injuries.” Neither injury was considered life-threatening….

The Webster Groves officer was shot in the face. He is 32 and has been on the force five years.

The county officer was hit in the shoulder. That officer is 41 and has been in law enforcement for 14 years.

Belmar said no suspects have been identified in the shootings.

Read much more detail at the link. Presumably we’ll hear more about this story soon.

Reactions to the “open letter” addressed to unnamed Iranian “leaders” sent by 47 GOP morons Senators are getting more and more negative. Yesterday, Politicus USA reported: National Outrage Grows As 22 Newspaper Editorials Blast Senate Republican Letter To Iran.

Newspapers all across the country are ripping the 47 Senate Republicans who attempted to sabotage President Obama by writing a letter to Iran. Here is a sampling of the criticism from no less than 22 newspaper editorial boards.

The Concord Monitor in New Hampshire took Sen. Kelly Ayotte to task for signing the letter, “Ayotte and the rest of the gang of 47 would like nothing more than for the American people to view the letter as a necessary defense against misguided negotiations and flawed policies, a comeuppance for an arrogant commander in chief who flaunts his contempt for the Constitution. They want you to know, America, that they wrote the letter for you because Obama must be stopped. In reality, they are playing a political game dangerously out of bounds.”

The editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette wrote that the senators who signed the letter should be ashamed, “America’s partners in the talks are among the world’s most important nations — China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom. They can only be appalled at seeing Secretary of State John Kerry and the president, who are charged with making the nation’s foreign policy, hit from behind by one house of the federal legislature. The senators who signed the letter should be ashamed.”

The Sacramento Bee wrote that Senate Republicans need a civics lesson, “It’s the Republican senators who signed the letter – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and potential presidential candidates Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida – who could use a remedial civics class. The Constitution gives the president broad authority to conduct foreign policy. The Senate’s “advise and consent” role covers formal treaties. The potential deal on Iran’s nuclear weapons program is not a treaty. It is a multinational agreement that involves Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, as well as the United States and Iran.”

Read more examples at the link.

The New York Times editorial board was particularly scathing yesterday:

Republican Idiocy on Iran.

After helping to ignite a firestorm over a possible nuclear agreement with Iran, Senator John McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate, is now sort of acknowledging his error. “Maybe that wasn’t exactly the best way to do that,” he said on Fox News on Tuesday.

He was referring to the disgraceful and irresponsible letter that he and 46 Senate colleagues sent to Iran’s leaders this week that generated outrage from Democrats and even some conservatives.

The letter was an attempt to scare the Iranians from making a deal that would limit their nuclear program for at least a decade by issuing a warning that the next president could simply reverse any agreement. It was a blatant, dangerous effort to undercut the president on a grave national security issue by communicating directly with a foreign government.

Maybe Mr. McCain, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, should have thought about the consequences before he signed the letter, which was drafted by Tom Cotton, a Republican of Arkansas, a junior senator with no foreign policy credentials. Instead of trying to be leaders and statesmen, the Republicans in Congress seem to think their role is outside the American government, divorced from constitutional principles, tradition and the security interests of the American people.

Wow!

John Kerry was incredulous about the letter. Here’s AP video from a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the use of force against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Here’s Steve Benen at MSNBC with more on Kerry’s appearance:

Kerry teaches Rubio the basics about the Middle East.

At the recent CPAC gathering, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a likely Republican presidential candidate, seemed to stumble on one of the basic facts of the Middle East. “The reason Obama hasn’t put in place a military strategy to defeat ISIS is because he doesn’t want to upset Iran,” the Florida Republican said.

The senator seemed confused. In reality, President Obama has put an anti-ISIS military strategy in place, and that’s fine with Iran, since Iran and ISIS are enemies.

I’d hoped that Rubio just misspoke, or had been briefed poorly by an aide, but apparently not – -at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing this afternoon, the far-right Floridian continued to push this strange theory, pressing Secretary of State John Kerry on the point. “I believe that much of our strategy with regards to ISIS is being driven by a desire not to upset Iran so they don’t walk away from the negotiating table on the deal that you’re working on,” Rubio said. “Tell me why I’m wrong.”

Whoa! Rubio is even stupider than I ever suspected. He has no f**king clue about what’s going on in the Middle East or probably anywhere else in the world for that matter.

John Boehner’s little stunt with Netanyahu hasn’t turned out that well either. From Politicus USA:

Bibi’s Speech To Congress Backfires As Netanyahu’s Popularity Crashes In US And Israel.

Polls released in the United States and Israel on March 11, 2015 tell the same story in two different countries. Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the U.S. Congress has backfired on the Israeli Prime Minister in a spectacular way. In the United States, a Gallup Poll, conducted from March 5-8, finds that Bibi’s popularity has dropped considerably since his address to Congress.

In February, a Gallup survey found 45 percent of Americans held a favorable view of Netanyahu, compared to 24 percent who viewed him unfavorably. After his speech to Congress, Netanyahu’s favorable rating dropped to 38 percent. His unfavorable numbers climbed to 29 percent. Overall, that represents a 12 percentage point decline in his favorable to unfavorable spread….

If Bibi and Congressional Republicans had planned his speech to win over support from Americans, the propaganda ploy flopped badly. While he gained an incremental 3-point jump in popularity from Republicans, the trade-off was losing a net 29 points in his approval rating from Democrats.

As a re-election ploy back home, the gambit also appears to have failed. 35,000 Israeli citizens took to the streets of Tel Aviv, in an “Israel wants change” public protest against Netanyahu after his address to the U.S. Congress.  While large public protests do not always signify that a political leader is in jeopardy, a series of recent polls find Netanyahu losing support as well.

Bibi’s right-leaning Likud Party, which was deadlocked with Isaac Herzog’s center-left Zionist Union Party in February polls, is now losing ground. An Israel Army radio poll projects Herzog’s slate to win 24 seats in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) to Likud’s 21 seats. A Channel 2 poll conducted on Tuesday put the totals as 25 to 21 in favor of the Zionist Union over Likud. The polls both show Bibi’s support declining from his February numbers.

Hilarious.

Speaking of GOP morons, have you heard the latest from supposed presidential candidate Lindsey Graham? From Raw Story:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) vowed that, if elected president, he would use the military to force Congress to reverse cuts to federal defense spending, Vox reported.

“I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to,” Graham said at an event in New Hamphsire over the weekend. “We’re not leaving town until we restore these defense cuts. We are not leaving town until we restore the intel cuts.”

The remark was first posted online by journalist Ron Noyes at BenSwann.com. Noyes wrote that, when reached for comment, a spokesperson from Graham’s office said via email, “Due to the large volume of mail I receive, I regret that I am only able to respond personally to inquiries from South Carolinians.”

Vox noted that, while Senate leadership is legally authorized to employ Capitol police to assure a quorum, Graham’s apparent idea stretches far beyond that.

“What Lindsey Graham is proposing is to physically force members of Congress to vote how he commands,” Amanda Taub wrote. “His plan violates constitutional separation of powers in just about the most extreme way imaginable, by forcing the executive branch’s will on the legislature. And it is a pretty safe bet that Senate rules do not grant the president authority to have the 101st Airborne Division occupy the Capitol until Congress votes the way he wants.”

I don’t even know how to react to that.

I’m going to have to end here. I’m have to try to figure out why I can’t install a decent browser on my computer. I’ll post more in the comments. What stories are you following today? I hope to see you in the comment thread.

 

 


Wednesday Reads: We are the world…

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Good morning, or afternoon, or…

whatever time of day it is.

It’s been 30 years since Quincy Jones got the gang together and cut that record: ‘We Are the World’ at 30: Stars Will Never Be That Earnest Again — The Atlantic

I used to make fun of that song when it came out. But you got to admit it did have a shitload of talent on there…

 

In the late-night hours of January 28, 1985, Quincy Jones ushered some of the world’s most famous pop stars into the A&M Studios in Los Angeles. Among them were Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Billy Joel, Diana Ross, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, Smokey Robinson, and Kenny Rogers. The stars—46 of them in all, many of them at the height of their careers—were greeted with a sign: “Check your egos at the door.”

This was both impossible and appropriate. The vocalists—an ad-hoc supergroup that would come to be known, pragmatically, as “USA for Africa”—were there to record, over the course of a long night, a song that was written for them by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, inspired by Harry Belafonte, and produced, in part, by Jones. It was to be a charity drive in musical form. Proceeds from the song’s sales, the idea went, would go toward alleviating a famine in Ethiopia. It was a song that was also an idea: “We Are the World.”

…We are the dumbass racist children/GOP Senators and Governors who will not make the world a better place…so fuck your charity and peace, give us treason, war and segregation…with a good ol’ fashioned lynching/shooting on the side.

Yeah, it has really gotten fucked up since then, just a few examples from the last few days.

Regarding lynchings, treason and war, case in point as follows, in link dump format:

Hands Across America — and even if you didn't participate you still wore the T-shirt.

 

Number 1= A group of frat boys singing a sweet little sing song anthem that is sure to make the SAE,  Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity a much better place: Oklahoma Frat Boys Caught Singing ‘There Will Never Be A N***** In SAE’

The nine-second video, uploaded by an anonymous user on YouTube, shows a group of college students in formal attire clapping while they sing racist lyrics to the tune of “If You’re Happy And You Know It” during a date function. The lyrics as heard in the video are:

“There will never be a n***** in SAE.
There will never be a n***** in SAE.
You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me
There will never be a n***** in SAE.”

Video is at the link, if you want to see it. I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.

Number 2= The parents who produced one of the “children” on the video…say he is not racist, but I think the picture at this link says it all. Parker Rice, parents of Levi Pettit apologize for ‘horrible mistake’ made in OU SAE video | Dallas Morning News

 

Brody and Susan Pettit, parents of recent Highland Park High School graduate Levi Pettit.

049bfccbcd4e55297129aa1405eb31a3“As parents of Levi, we love him and care for him deeply,” says the statement, which has also been posted on this website. “He made a horrible mistake, and will live with the consequences forever. However, we also know the depth of our son’s character. He is a good boy, but what we saw in those videos is disgusting. While it may be difficult for those who only know Levi from the video to understand, we know his heart, and he is not a racist. We raised him to be loving and inclusive and we all remain surrounded by a diverse, close-knit group of friends.

“To our friends and family, thank you for your kind comments and prayers. They are very comforting in this difficult time.“We were as shocked and saddened by this news as anyone. Of course, we are sad for our son — but more importantly, we apologize to the community he has hurt. We would also like to apologize to the — entire African American community, University of Oklahoma student body and administration. Our family has the responsibility to apologize, and also to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. Our words will only go so far — as a family, we commit to following our words with deeds.

“We ask that the media and public please respect our family’s privacy as we come together to heal and determine next steps.”

Band-Aid-Do-They-Know-Its-547971The other statement, from Rice is more typical in the usually non-apology tone…blame the booze and say you are praying for guidance.

Parker Rice — the recent Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas graduate — sent his own apology, via his father Bob. Here it is in full:

“I am deeply sorry for what I did Saturday night. It was wrong and reckless. I made a horrible mistake by joining into the singing and encouraging others to do the same. On Monday, I withdrew from the university, and sadly, at this moment our family is not able to be in our home because of threatening calls as well as frightening talk on social media.

aid-m-b“I know everyone wants to know why or how this happened. I admit it likely was fueled by alcohol consumed at the house before the bus trip, but that’s not an excuse. Yes, the song was taught to us, but that too doesn’t work as an explanation. It’s more important to acknowledge what I did and what I didn’t do. I didn’t say no, and I clearly dismissed an important value I learned at my beloved high school, Dallas Jesuit. We were taught to be ‘Men for Others.’ I failed in that regard, and in those moments, I also completely ignored the core values and ethics I learned from my parents and others.

“At this point, all I can do is be thoughtful and prayerful about my next steps, but I am also concerned about the fraternity friends still on campus. Apparently, they are feeling unsafe and some have been harassed by others. Hopefully, the university will protect them.

This sign now sits in front of the Rice house in Northwest Dallas.

This sign now sits in front of the Rice house in Northwest Dallas.

 

“For me, this is a devastating lesson and I am seeking guidance on how I can learn from this and make sure it never happens again. My goal for the long-term is to be a man who has the heart and the courage to reject racism wherever I see or experience it in the future.

“Thank you for your consideration of my deepest apologies for what I did.”

Oh boy…

From TBogg:  It’s not a ‘horrible mistake’ to sing a racist song – it’s horrible that you’re a racist

Levi Pettit is super sorry that he sang that stupid racist song. Sweet ride, eh? - Twitter

Levi Pettit is super sorry that he sang that stupid racist song. Sweet ride, eh? – Twitter

In a time of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and a few other social media thingy-mcApps that allow us to share every waking moment of our lives with others because we are all so amazingly interesting, it took a surprising long time for the identities of the two OU SAE-bros who led their frat brothers and their dates in a merry old racist sing-along to be revealed.

Undoubtedly it had to do with the fact that all white entitled Bieber-haired preppy douchebags look alike and, as a white person, it is totally not racist for me to say that.

8ec765be0ea5f29c147f25077792cb39The two strapping young Leaders of Tomorrow with the destined-to-be-in-a-frat-by-virtue-of-their-names are Parker Rice and Levi Pettit. For those who had Chad or Todd in your office pool…  so close, and my condolences.

In a time-honored tradition handed down from generation to generation of white men who come from affluent families with the means to make “indiscretions go away,” the two young men, both of whom are old enough to enlist in the military and serve their country, have manned up and apologized.

And by “manned up and apologized” I mean they have issued — or had issued for them — artisanal hand-crafted statements lovingly and carefully composed by family attorneys and “crisis managers.”

TBogg’s take on their statements:

Notable in both statements is the word “mistake,” and not in the “It was a mistake that I got caught being my white privileged drunken unaccountable-for-anything dumbass self” kind of way.

[…]

Parker Rice’s…After admitting that it was the demon rum that made him sing the song while also saying that is no excuse — but still, just sayin’  ya know –  we learn that it obliterated everything he learned at Jesuit prep school (“Men for Others“), and that he is concerned for his fellow frat bros.

Rice then moves on to my personal favorite : the ‘teachable moment’

35376565e77f654c6bbb3a14dde215c5As far as Levi Pettit–and his parents comments about him being a good boy and not racist…and that they are thankful for their close friends…and shit…

if the mention of the “diverse, close-knit group of friends” didn’t make you roll your eyes so hard you detached a retina, well, there is  this:

We ask that the media and public please respect our family’s privacy as we come together to heal and determine next steps.

Victims of sexual assault need time to “heal.” Soldiers who served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffer from PTSD need time to “heal” — if that is even possible. Families of unarmed African-American teenagers who are gunned down in the street by trigger-happy cops who know there will be no repercussions in a country where black lives don’t matter –  they need time to “heal” although that pain will never ever go away.

But the families of privileged young men who think it perfectly fine to lead drunken sing-alongs to songs about lynching “niggers” on a party bus?

They don’t get to plead for time to “heal” while at the same time explaining that their son is actually a swell kid of sound character who deep deep down has a really  good heart… just like we raised him. Hooray for us.

He’s a racist, and racism begins at home.

Heal that, then get back to us…

But you know…It isn’t like this is something new, this shit has been going on for evah:

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Oklahoma: SAE Fraternity has Troubled History of Race Vandalism, Hazing | Informed Comment

The Racist OU SAE Fraternity Chant Was Also Sung At Louisiana Tech | News OK

The Historical Roots of Fraternity Racism- History News Network HNN.org

New video shows OU’s SAE house mom using racist slurs – NY Daily News

Sigma Alpha Epsilon says it’s investigating additional racist ‘incidents’ – The Washington Post

Sigma Alpha Epsilon is no stranger to scandal and sanctions – CNN.com

 

My husband is a SAE brother. I haven’t asked him about it, I will let you know what he says…and if they had this little diddy of a song over at their chapter at USF. (He says they didn’t have that song, but they did not have any blacks in their frat…they had all other races, Jews, Latinos, Asians etc. He said that USF had two or three other black fraternities on campus so, blah blah blah…)

03/11/2015 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

 

What number was I on?

Number 3? Alright then…

Number 3= Dumbass cops who shoot to kill unarmed naked black men, because…I don’t know, they save the tasers for the old people in wheelchairs?

Police Officer Shoots and Kills Naked, Unarmed Black Man Near Atlanta

A white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man at an apartment complex in Chamblee, Ga. Monday afternoon. The man has been identified as 27-year-old Anthony Hill; he is believed to have suffered from mental illness.

[…]

…the officer, who has since been placed on administrative leave, also had access to a Taser and pepper spray.

d48a3558e4073966af0503c2c1e6b289In other police related news:

Ferguson fallout: Ferguson manager is 5th out after DOJ report alleging bias : News

The Mayor still has his job.

Next up, Porn and the patrol car—one cop’s 2 hour-a-day habit | Ars Technica

When you watch enough porn that investigators have to compile spreadsheets, you know you’re in trouble.

I guess the question is, Are You Smarter Than a Cop?

Yeah, cops make an arrest, but don’t understand the law they supposedly used to pull the car over to begin with.

Darisse was monitoring northbound traffic on a stretch of Interstate 77 near Dobson, North Carolina. He says that just around 8:00 a.m. he saw a Ford Escort pass his car. According to Darisse, the driver looked nervous, staring forward and gripping the steering wheel, so he decided to pull onto the road and follow the car. After a few miles, Darisse says the Escort approached some traffic and braked. That’s when he noticed that one of the car’s brake lights, the right one, was out. It was all the reason he needed, he thought,to initiate a stop.

[…]

It would have been just another drug bust except for one thing: North Carolina has no law against operating a vehicle with just one brake light.

 

A misunderstanding of the law, what does that remind you of?

Which leads me to:

Number 4= The idiot traitors in our midst.

Addicting Info – Even Republicans Admit Their Colleagues Were Stupid To Send Letter To Iran

As 47 Republican Senators have taken the plunge to be treasonous obstructionists, some on the right are just now realizing the magnitude of this mistake, and they are not happy.

77a22411bb9ecc173b996b80b7392c72Only seven Republicans abstained from the letter, including Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Corker told The Daily Beast that a letter was not the way to go nor was is appropriate:

“I didn’t think it was going to further our efforts to get to a place where Congress would play the appropriate role that it should on Iran. I did not think that the letter was something that was going to help get us to an outcome that we’re all seeking, and that is Congress playing that appropriate role. I immediately knew that it was not something that, for me anyway, in my particular role, was going to be constructive. “I didn’t realize until this weekend  that it had the kind of momentum that it had.”

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who is also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the letter would further cause more “animosity” between Congress and the White House and that the issue of Iran was “too important to divide us among partisan lines.” Senator Flake also pointed out that what President Obama is negotiating is an agreement, not a treaty, and also sided with Corker in the assertion that the letter was inappropriate, saying:

“I just didn’t feel that it was appropriate or productive at this point. These are tough enough negotiations as it stands, and introducing this kind of letter, I didn’t think would be helpful.”

John McCain, the senior Senator from Arizona, also signed the letter. Perhaps Flake should have a talk with him. Furthermore, when you have the most power member on foreign issues in the Senate not signing a letter undermining foreign relations, maybe you shouldn’t do it. But the junior senator from Arkansas thought he’d get his 15 minutes of fame by committing high treason in violation of the Logan Act. What a great way to start your Senate career.

The rest of the seven who did not sign are at that link as well.

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BTW: Cotton digs deeper after Iran letter sparks fury | MSNBC

When asked what an acceptable deal would look like to him, Cotton answered “complete nuclear disarmament by Iran.”
“They can simply disarm their nuclear weapons program and allow complete intrusive inspections,” Cotton said.
The Arkansan added that he wants Iranians to “completely disarm their nuclear weapons program.”
It’s worth emphasizing that Iran does not have nuclear weapons. “Disarming” sounds like a worthy goal, but it’s difficult to get rid of weapons that do not currently exist.
Dumb as dirt.

(I know my words are way off this morning, and I am not making sense, but I am on zero sleep…and the fun continues. Jake’s sugar levels were at 500 this a.m.)

Number 5: Extreme punishments or prison terms or fines….this is just fucked up:

Georgia sanitation worker will no longer serve jail time for picking up trash too early | theGrio

This is a case of doing your job while black?69c82af59c214b25d4aa4c1c799b2cec

Kevin McGill was picking up trash too early. So the sanitation worker was sent to jail.

A city ordinance in Sandy Springs, Georgia, limited the trash collection times to between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. McGill began collecting trash at 5 a.m., which the city solicitor said was leading to complaints about noise from neighbors.

McGill agreed to a plea deal and was originally sentenced to 30 days in jail, which could be served on the weekends. Fortunately, his sentence was suspended this week after the city’s solicitor changed his tune.

Mind you, this was a first time offense.

Next up…trying to escape an abusive relationship, while female?

This 21-year-old woman faces decades in prison for trying to escape her abuser – Salon.com

Cherelle Baldwin is serving her 21st month in prison, even after a Connecticut jury refused to convict her.

Read that if you can stomach it.

From Florida, and a town I used to live in: One apartment complex’s rule: You write a bad review, we fine you $10k | Ars Technica

The picture of this execution chair is enough to get put in the extreme category: Utah set to bring back death sentence by firing squad | Miami Herald Miami Herald

FILE - This June 18, 2010, file photo shows the firing squad execution chamber at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah. Utah's Gov. Gary Herbert will not say if he'll sign a bill to bring back the firing squad but does say the method would give Utah a backup execution method. Herbert's spokesman Marty Carpenter issued a statement about the bill Tuesday in response to questions from reporters. Utah's Senate is set to cast a final vote on the bill this week. It would call for a firing squad if lethal injection drugs cannot be obtained 30 days before an execution.

This June 18, 2010, file photo shows the firing squad execution chamber at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah.

 

30fcd4303047f594a4e152f1dcdedffbBig numbers here: 250,000 Japanese still displaced 4 years after quake

And you want to talk about emails? Emails Reveal Lobbyist Had Undisclosed Role In Cuomo Financial Crisis Investigation – ProPublica

Last few links:

The Return of the Clinton Media Persecution Complex | Mother Jones

A Defiant Clinton Brushes Off Email Controversy – NBC News.com

Ugh…

If all that was not depressing enough:

Tim Burton to direct live action Dumbo | Film | The Guardian

Shit. He ruined Dark Shadows, imagine what he will do with the Pink Elephants on Parade?

Final link is a group of stuff about women: Physics geniuses, Mexican rappers, LEGO Supreme Court: It’s Woman Crush Wednesday | Grist

This past Sunday, March 8, was International Women’s Day — although, it’s worth mentioning that because of Daylight Savings in the good ol’ US of A, we couldn’t even get a whole 24 hours to celebrate womanhood. Typical. To make up for that, we hope you take a whole hour today to relax and enjoy our WCW roundup for this week — ladies, you deserve it!

That is it, I am going to try and get some sleep.

Here is the full performance of Queen at Live Aid:

 

Catch ya later…treat this as an open thread.

Minkoff. Out.

 

 


Tuesday Reads: Are Republicans Alien Beings?

Pascal Pensees

 

Good Morning!!

I’m beginning with this lovely painting by Matisse, because I’m trying to calm myself. I’ve been sitting here pondering what makes today’s Republicans so strange. I sometimes feel as if they are another species. They see the world completely differently than the people I grew up with and the people I have known as an adult. Many of my family members were Republicans, and their political views were annoying; but generally I could get along with them as long as we didn’t talk about politics. They didn’t seem like alien beings.

My grandparents were conservative Republicans and so were some of my uncles and aunts. Others in the family were liberals. Yet we all got along by just avoiding touch subjects when we were together. The Republicans in our family were just like the rest of us–they may have thought differently about some things, but that didn’t keep them from being loving and caring people, and they didn’t look different from the rest of us.

My parents’ closest friends were a couple who came from the South. They had Southern accents and they were conservative Republicans. They were even kind of eccentric in some ways–the husband was extremely thrifty and didn’t believe in buying anything on credit; they paid cash for everything–even houses and cars. But they were also intelligent, caring, friendly people and they didn’t look weird like so many GOP politicians do today.

Many of today’s Republican politicians seem hateful and angry, and many of them appear ignorant of how the U.S. government operates and the Constitution on which it is based. As we all know by now, many of these people–mostly men–are also ignorant about female anatomy and how birth control works, and quite frankly, they often appear to hate and fear women generally. They are also ignorant of basic scientific facts.

What is wrong with these people, and where do they come from? Why do so many of Tea Party-style Republicans actually look weird?

Take South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, who has been going around ranting and raving about Hillary Clinton’s emails  Who is this guy? Tell me he’s not weird-looking.

Harold Watson "Trey" Gowdy III

Harold Watson “Trey” Gowdy III

Here’s a profile shot.

Trey Gowdy

Does his head really come to a point at the top? If not, what’s with the hair? Like many of his Southern Republican colleagues, he looks sickly, pale, and washed out like the banjo player in Deliverance.

Gowdy apparently never heard the old saying about people in glass houses not throwing stones, because he got himself in a little trouble yesterday. From the Washington Post: Rep. Trey Gowdy retreats from Benghazi event.

In May, just after he was picked to lead the House select committee on Benghazi, Rep. Trey Gowdy pledged not to raise money off the 2012 attacks in Libya, which killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

But it was revealed Monday that the South Carolina Republican was scheduled to help a group raise funds at an event called “Beyond Benghazi.”

After The Washington Post inquired about the event, a committee spokesman said that the subject of the fundraiser hadn’t been cleared with the congressman’s office and that Gowdy was pulling out.

Yeah, right. Gowdy had no clue what a fund-raising event called “Beyond Benghazi” was all about.

“He has not raised money using Benghazi, and will not speak about Benghazi at fundraising events. Having been made aware of this group’s plan, he no longer will be participating in the event,” the spokesman, Jamal Ware, said by e-mail.

Later Monday, the event was canceled.

 The Republican Party of Virginia planned to host Gowdy at a $75-a-head reception that was called “Beyond Benghazi.” You could buy a table for 10 for $1,250 or co-chair the event for $5,000, which includes the table, a “VIP” at your table and a special shout-out.

LOL

Now look at Tom Cotton, the organizer of the bizarre GOP open letter to the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas)

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas)

 

To me he looks a lot like Gomer Pyle.

Gomer Pyle

 

The strange and borderline treasonous letter signed by 47 GOP Senators actually misstated the way treaties are described in the Constitution and how they are to be handled by the Senate. Ishaan Tharoor at The Washington Post: The misguided, condescending letter from Republican senators to Iran.

As first reported by Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin, a group of 47 Republican senators signed a letter addressed to “the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” warning them not to be too optimistic about ongoing negotiations with the Obama administration over Tehran’s nuclear program. It was organized by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and advised the Iranian leadership that “anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.”

The letter is brief, and can be read in full here. Republican lawmakers are opposed to the Obama administration’s current overtures to Iran, a disagreement that was put into stark relief last week by the polarizing speech delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a joint meeting of Congress. This is yet another tactic to scupper a potential deal.

It starts with the patronizing premise that “you may not fully understand our Constitutional system” and goes on to explain, first, that any international treaty will need to be ratified by a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress and that, unlike the president of the United States, senators “may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms.” The message to the mullahs: don’t get comfortable with any deal, because we’re going to scrap it as soon as we can.

tom-cottonWTF?!!

Whatever its effects in Washington, the letter is almost farcically condescending in word and tone. Iran’s leaders are well aware of how the United States works. The country’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, spent the better part of a decade as the Iranian envoy to the United Nations; like many others in the Iranian cabinet, he was partly educated in the United States.

It reflects the willful ignorance on the part of many hawks in Washington who insist on seeing Iran purely as an irrational actor and a permanent regional threat. As WorldViews discussed earlier, Iran is problematic in many ways, and its regime plays a role in fueling proxy wars in parts of the Middle East. But one can argue that the same is true of Washington’s chief Arab ally in the region, Saudi Arabia.

At the Lawfare blog, Jack Goldsmith wrote that Tom Cotton and his Senate colleagues made an “embarrassing” mistake in their strange letter.

The Error in the Senators’ Letter to the Leaders of Iran.

The letter states that “the Senate must ratify [a treaty] by a two-thirds vote.”  But as the Senate’s own web page makes clear: “The Senate does not ratify treaties. Instead, the Senate takes up a resolution of ratification, by which the Senate formally gives its advice and consent, empowering the president to proceed with ratification” (my emphasis).  Or, as this outstanding  2001 CRS Report on the Senate’s role in treaty-making states (at 117):  “It is the President who negotiates and ultimately ratifies treaties for the United States, but only if the Senate in the intervening period gives its advice and consent.”  Ratification is the formal act of the nation’s consent to be bound by the treaty on the international plane.  Senate consent is a necessary but not sufficient condition of treaty ratification for the United States.  As the CRS Report notes: “When a treaty to which the Senate has advised and consented … is returned to the President,” he may “simply decide not to ratify the treaty.”

Even more embarrassing, Iran’s U.S. educated foreign minister responded to the GOP letter and proceeded to school the Senators on how international law works. From The Tehran Times: Zarif to U.S. senators: You are ignorant of international law.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said the letter lacks “legal validity” and shows that the signatories of the letter are “ignorant of international law”
“In our view this letter has no legal validity and is just a propaganda scheme,” Zarif noted.
Zarif said it is surprising that while nuclear talks have not reached a result yet pressure groups in the U.S. have become so “worried” that they have resorted to any “unconventional way” to kill it.
The letter proved that “like” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu these senators “are opposed to any deal”.
Expressing surprise on how it is possible that the legislators of a country write a letter against their own president and government to the leaders of another country, Zarif said, “The letter by the senators show that not only they are alien to international law but even not familiar with the details of the their own constitution about the authority of the president” in implementing foreign agreements.

Many of Iran’s leaders were educated in the U.S. But where did Tom Cotton and his buddies learn about the Constitution, separation of powers, and how foreign policy is handled in the U.S.? Amazingly, he graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and did more graduate work at Claremont Graduate University. Was he just not paying attention?

Ted Cruz at Princeton

Ted Cruz at Princeton

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) also graduated from Harvard Law and got his undergraduate degree from Princeton. He also signed the letter and seems confused about the Constitutional duties of the President. He actually wrote an op-ed for Politico in which he claimed Obama was “acting like a monarch.”

From Politifact in May 2014: Ted Cruz says Barack Obama is first president ‘who thinks he can choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore’.

Critics of President Barack Obama have charged that he has regularly exceeded the powers of his office in selectively enforcing the law. Their examples include making recess appointments, issuing executive orders, delaying provisions of his health care law, refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court and declining to deport certain categories of young illegal immigrants.

At the 2014 CPAC conference, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, reiterated this point to the audience of conservative activists.

Referring to Obama, Cruz said, “This president of the United States is the first president we’ve ever had who thinks he can choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore.”

Politifact concluded, based on interviews with historians that several presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush have “ignored specific laws or constitutional protections,” but they don’t actually offer any specific examples of Obama doing so.

Are these Republicans simply blinded by ideology or are they willfully ignorant, despite attention top U.S. Universities? I honestly don’t know the answer. I know it’s rude of me to call attention to how they look, but I can’t help wondering why so many of the GOP “young turks” look like their parents were cousins. For example, Louisiana’s recently elected Senator “crazy eyes” Bill Cassidy, who looks a lot like Frankenstein’s monster. Cassidy also signed Cotton’s letter to Iran.

Cassidy eyes

 

Bill Cassidy campaigning in Baton Rouge, LA.

Bill Cassidy campaigning in Baton Rouge, LA.

Even some of the older GOP Senators who signed the letter have that crazy look:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

 

Am I nuts? I don’t even know if this post makes any sense. Lately I feel as if this country is falling apart. And more and more I get the feeling that Republicans just aren’t like you and me. Where do these people come from and what is wrong with them?

This is an open thread. You can discuss this post or anything else you like. Have a nice Tuesday, everyone!