Just a quick thought this morning before we get to the links. Yesterday Boston Boomer linked to an article about Janet Yellen, and there were a few sentences that made me stop and think. Which is really something because usually when it comes to articles containing anything associated with numbers, my brain tends to retreat like a coward who is being bombarded by incoming aerial livestock.
CNN Money’s report on Yellen’s speech, Janet Yellen: Job market not recovered.
That was Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s main message Friday in a much anticipated speech.
“It speaks to the depth of the damage that, five years after the end of the recession, the labor market has yet to fully recover,” she said.
The debate now is whether the job situation in America is healthy enough for the Federal Reserve to start raising interest rates, which have been at historic lows in recent years in an effort to jump start the economy. Yellen, however, said little new on Friday, and U.S. stock markets stayed flat.
Yellen is chair of the committee that sets interest rates, but she only gets one vote. Other members have differing views. The Fed board and other top economists are spending the weekend in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, debating these key issues.
Though the unemployment rate “has fallen considerably and at a surprisingly rapid pace,” Yellen said problems remain.
Okay, maybe I am a bit hypersensitive, but why the specific mention about her getting only one vote. Is this something new? I was under the impression that whenever Greenspan or Bernake or Geithner spoke…it was as if the all powerful Oz had spoken. Especially with Greenspan, I mean that guy was the equivalent of verbal Dow Jones Industrial Average “pusher” in that whenever he opened his mouth…he spewed economic commentary uppers or downers.
Anyway, if this is not a big deal…then just forget about all that shit and continue with the post. As it is, the thread is late this morning. I got distracted finding images of sheep on Pinterest. Oh well, you know what that means…another dump. Link dump that is….
The latest news:
The bodies of two men who had been bound were found today dumped a Philadelphia river, while a third man who had been repeatedly stabbed narrowly escaped the abductors believed to be responsible for the double homicide, authorities said.
The survivor, a 20-year-old man, was taken off the street by four or five men early this morning and thrown into the back of a van, police said.
He was then stabbed about nine times, in the torso and legs, Philadelphia police said, and his hands were tied behind his back with duct tape and his ankles were bound as well. Duct tape was also placed over his mouth, and once in the van, he realized there were two other people in the van who had also been bound, police said.
All three were taken to the Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park, where they were thrown into the water, police said, noting that the two other people were tethered to some kind of weight and drowned in five to ten feet of water.
This is a new story obviously so no real info as of yet…cops say they may have surveillance video of abduction.
And you may be one of the millions without internet service: Time Warner Cable Suffers Massive Outage
Time Warner Cable suffered a nationwide outage on Wednesday morning, leaving many users unable to access the Internet.
The company issued a statement to Mashable, acknowledging the outage and reporting that much of its service had been restored. TWC said the service outage was due to an issue with its “Internet backbone” that occurred during routine maintenance.
At 430am ET this morning during our routine network maintenance, an issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet and On Demand services. As of 6am ET services were largely restored as updates continue to bring all customers back online.
On Tuesday, Time Warner Cable agreed to pay the Federal Communications Commission $1.1 million for failing to disclose a “substantial number” of outages affecting its customers. Now today, the company announced that it is suffering from multiple outages affecting 12 million people.
Making matters worse is that many of those consumers probably didn’t have much choice when they signed up for the service, given Time Warner Cable’s effective monopoly in a number of its markets. As I wrote when I compared its service against the only other option for Internet service in my area,
The problem is, there are no options for someone living in the boonies. If they want to connect to the Internet they have to use something like [Finger Lakes Technologies Group, a regional Internet provider]; there are no other options. [...] So far as choices go, it’s clear that people who live in small towns like this one are totally screwed.
This is a problem all across the country. Many people have access to just a handful of ISPs, many of which are regional offerings that pale in comparison to their national counterparts, which enjoy a monopoly on the high-end service market in many of the places they operate.
That problem will only be made worse if Time Warner Cable is allowed to merge with Comcast and become what Netflix called the “nation’s largest onramp to the Internet.” The combined company is unlikely to care much about leveling the playing field and allowing other ISPs to give consumers more options for Internet service. It’ll just amass as much power as it can.
Does that seem like a company that’s going to solve problems that lead to outages affecting 12 million people around the United States? Hell, even with the scant competition they have now, both Time Warner Cable and Comcast have done little to make their services better. As I wrote in May, the companies are the least-liked in every industry in which they operate. (Surprise!)
We have this problem with Windstream being the shitty internet service monopoly here in Banjoville.
The cease-fire announced Tuesday between Israel and Palestinian factions — if it holds — will end seven weeks of fighting that killed more than 2,200 Gazans and some 69 Israelis. But as the rival camps seek to put their spin on the outcome, one assessment of Israel’s Gaza operation that won’t be publicized is that of the U.S. military. Still, even though the Pentagon shies away from publicly expressing judgments that might fall afoul of a decidedly pro-Israel Congress, senior U.S. military sources speaking on condition of anonymity offered a scathing assessment of Israeli tactics, particularly in the battle for Shujaiya.
One of the more curious moments in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge came on July 20, when a live microphone at FOX News caught Secretary of State John Kerry commenting sarcastically on Israel’s military action: “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry said. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.”
Rain of high-explosive shells
The secretary of state’s comment followed the heaviest bombardment of the war to that point, as Israeli artillery rained thousands of high-explosive shells into the neighborhood of Shujaiya, a residential area on the eastern edge of Gaza City. A high-ranking U.S. military officer told this reporter that the source of Kerry’s apparent consternation was almost certainly a Pentagon summary report assessing the Israeli barrage, on which the Secretary had been briefed by an aide moments earlier.
According to this senior U.S. officer, who had access to the July 21 Pentagon summary of the previous 24 hours of Israeli operations, the internal report showed that 11 Israeli artillery battalions —a minimum of 258 artillery pieces in all, according to this officer’s estimate — had pumped at least 7,000 high explosive shells into the Gaza neighborhood, which included a barrage of some 4,800 shells during the seven-hour period marking the height of the operation. Senior U.S. officers were stunned by the report.
Twice daily throughout the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) operation, a select group of senior U.S. military and intelligence officers at the Pentagon received a lengthy written summary of Israeli military action in Gaza. The reports — compiled from information gleaned from open sources, Israeli military officers with whom U.S. officials speak and satellite images — offered a detailed assessment of Israel’s battlefield tactics and the performance of its weaponry, a considerable portion of it supplied by the United States.
Although these reports shy away from offering political judgments on the operation, a number of senior U.S. military officers who spoke about the contents of those daily reports with this reporter were highly critical of some of the IDF’s tactics, particularly in the Israeli ground invasion of Shujaiya. An official spokesman at the Pentagon declined to comment on the contents of this article.
Even as SNAP policies and procedures change with the times, the program’s core mission remains the same. When the Food Stamp Act was passed in 1964, it aimed to provide better nutrition to low-income households while benefiting our agricultural economy. Fifty years later, research shows SNAP is still doing just that.
For example, SNAP benefits boost the economy by creating markets, and spurring economic growth and jobs in urban and rural communities at grocers, superstores, farmers’ markets, military commissaries, manufacturers and farms. And because SNAP benefits are so urgently needed, they are spent quickly – 97 percent of benefits are redeemed within the month of issuance – and therefore have great positive economic effects. Moody’s Analytics and USDA estimate that the economic growth impact of SNAP ranges from $1.73 to $1.79 per $1 of SNAP benefits.
One component of SNAP that needs to change and hasn’t is the amount of the monthly benefit allotment. While we know the program is capable of reducing food insecurity, improving the health and well-being of recipients, and ultimately saving taxpayer dollars on avoided healthcare costs, it could work much better. Current benefits are based on assumptions developed in the 1930s for emergency diets. That plan is now woefully outmoded on every front from nutrition to practicality. Multiple studies, including the USDA’s own analysis of a recent (temporary) boost in benefits, show the value of a healthier allotment.
Over the course of any 50-year period, change is inevitable. Since August 1964, SNAP’s strength has been recognizing and responding to those changes. Today, the program’s mission is as necessary as it was 50 years ago: providing relevant, vital help to boost nutrition, economic security and health among seniors, children, people with disabilities, and unemployed or low-income working families. This is an anniversary worth celebrating.
Black Agenda Report is out, and here is their coverage of the “events” at Ferguson | Black Agenda Report
Did y’all see the latest in ironic pro-gun nut death by gun shot? DEATH BY MISADVENTURE | Gin and Tacos
On Tuesday a 39 year old firearms instructor was fatally shot near Kingman, AZ when the nine year-old girl he was instructing on the use of an Uzi submachine gun lost control of it…while it was on full automatic. This resolves once and for all the question of whether it is a good idea to give a nine year old girl who appears in the linked video to weigh about 20 pounds (note: the video shows only the events leading up to the fatal incident, but does not include the incident itself) a submachine gun set on full auto. The facility, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, caters to the vacationing yahoo crowd:
KINGMAN, Ariz. — An instructor who was shot by a 9-year-old girl who fired an Uzi at a northwestern Arizona shooting range died Monday night at University Medical Center in Las Vegas.
The girl fired the weapon at the outdoor range that caters to heavy tourism traffic along U.S. Highway 93 between Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon Skywalk.
Highway signage and Internet advertising beckons visitors to stop in, fire a machine gun and enjoy a meal at the Bullets and Burgers enterprise at the Last Stop, about 25 miles south of Las Vegas.
The instructor had, among others, the following hilarious pro-gun images posted on his Facebook wall (h/t Balloon Juice)
What about a look at what makes Houston…colorful? Immigrants reshape Houston, America’s most diverse metropolis | Al Jazeera America
In the past 20 years, Houston — that most Texan of Texan cities — has come to look more and more like the taxi drivers. Between 1990 and 2010, Greater Houston added more than 2.2 million people (PDF) and now boasts a population of more than 6 million (the city proper has 2.2 million residents). The metropolitan area has eclipsed New York and Los Angeles to become the most racially and ethnically diverse in the United States.
A joint report published last year by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research and the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas (PDF) found that Greater Houston scores highest on the Entropy Index, which measures diversity according to the presence and relative proportions of the four major racial groups (white, black, Hispanic and Asian). All five Houston counties have become more diverse over the past two decades, with increased numbers of Hispanics (from 21 to 35 percent) and Asians (from 3.4 to 6.5 percent), a stable population of blacks (about 17 percent) and a decrease in whites or “Anglos” (from over 50 to under 40 percent), though rates of residential segregation remain high.
Oh boy, it is really getting late…here are the rest in real quick dump format:
It’s being hailed as a “provocative new study” worthy of Christian Grey himself — a group of researchers have just published an article in Journal of Women’s Health claiming that women who read “50 Shades of Grey” are at a higher risk for domestic abuse, disordered eating, a high number of sexual partners and even binge drinking. But don’t throw your romance novel to the curb just yet: The study is another example of the good old “correlation does not equal causation” trope.
During the study, a group of scientists surveyed 655 18-to-24-year-old women online, a third of whom had read some or all of the ’50 Shades’ series. They asked them questions about their personal sexual practices, their experiences of partner victimization such as sexual and psychological abuse, and binge drinking. When they adjusted their findings for age and race, researchers learned that women who had read at least the first book in the series were more likely to report partner victimization, cyberstalking, fasting and using diet aids. Women who had read all three books in the series were also more likely to report having five or more sexual partners in their lifetime. Their conclusion? There is an association between reading the series and negative health outcomes for women.
At the Guardian: The 100 best novels: an introduction | Books | The Observer
You can see the past weeks here: The 100 best novels | Books | The Guardian
Now for the article that explains the title of this post: BBC News – ‘Two simple rules’ explain sheepdog behaviour
The relationship between a shepherd and his sheepdog has always seemed almost magical, but scientists now say it can be explained by two simple rules.
Researchers have used GPS data to reveal the mathematical secrets of how sheepdogs do their job.
The new model helps to explain why one shepherd and a single dog can herd an unruly flock of more than 100 sheep.
The first rule: The sheepdog learns how to make the sheep come together in a flock. The second rule: Whenever the sheep are in a tightly knit group, the dog pushes them forwards.
NERC fellow Dr Andrew King of Swansea University helped to design backpacks fitted with highly accurate GPS technology. These trackers were attached to a flock of sheep and a sheepdog.
“What’s so interesting about this is how simple the rules are,” Dr King told the BBC.
“At the beginning we had lots of different ideas. We started out looking from a birds eye view, but then we realised we needed to see what the dog sees. It sees white, fluffy things. If there are gaps between them or the gaps get bigger, the dogs needs to bring them together.”
“One of the things that sheep are really good at is responding to a threat by working with their neighbours. It’s the selfish herd theory: put something between the threat and you. Individuals try to minimise the chance of anything happening to them, so they move towards the centre of a group.”
A colleague, Dr Daniel Strombom from Uppsala University in Sweden, used the GPS data from the collars to develop computer simulations. This enabled them to develop a mathematical shepherding model.
The algorithm displays the same weaving pattern exhibited by sheepdogs. It helps to solve what has been called the ‘the shepherding problem': how one agent can control a large number of unwilling agents.
The research was published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
Read the rest at the link…and how they are working to use this information in other ways.
This made me look for a couple of more sheepy links:
29 Apr 2004
Shrek, the New Zealand merino sheep which spent the last six years on the run from his owners, finally had his long-postponed encounter with a pair of shears last night.
The woolly creature was shorn of his 15-inch long, 59lb fleece during a live television broadcast.
Viewers around the country watched eagerly to see the wool carefully snipped away by a former world champion shearer, Peter Casserly.
Despite his years as a hermit, Shrek was as meek as a lamb and co-operated fully.
“He is probably looking forward to getting this lot off,” Mr Casserly said confidently as he got to work.
They used to be an important part of the global economy but with the increase of estates the need for shepherds has declined. However, the tradition does still exist in many parts of the world
That one is just a gallery…so go and enjoy it.
Sorry this is so damn late!
It’s the last week of August, and the dog days of summer have supposedly passed; but the Boston area is supposed to hit ninety degrees today and tomorrow. I’m actually looking forward to it, because it has been so cool here lately–in the sixites and low seventies in the daytime and the fifties at night. Yesterday it got into the high eighties, and it felt wonderful.
The Boston Globe has a story today about Peter Theo Curtis, the writer who was just released from captivity in Syria. His mother lives in Cambridge. I had never heard of Curtis before; apparently his kidnapping was kept secret. The Globe reports: Militants free US writer with Mass. ties who was held in Syria.
Peter Theo Curtis, a writer and scholar with ties to the Boston area who was held captive for nearly two years by one of the Islamic militant groups operating in Syria, was released Sunday after emissaries from the government of Qatar won his freedom on humanitarian grounds, in a stark contrast to the brutal murder of fellow war correspondent James W. Foley .
Curtis’s 22 months in captivity were kept from the public at his family’s request since he was nabbed near the Syrian border in October 2012 by Al Nusra Front, one of the groups seeking to topple President Bashir Assad of Syria. Al Nusra Front has ties to the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
Curtis, 45, who wrote dispatches under the name Theo Padnos and previously chronicled disaffected young Muslims in Yemen in a book titled “Undercover Muslim,” had studied Arabic in Syria.
He was handed over to United Nations peacekeepers in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Sunday evening, a UN spokesman in New York said. After it was determined he was in good medical condition, he was transferred to representatives of the US government, according to the UN.
“We are so relieved that Theo is healthy and safe and that he is finally headed home after his ordeal,” his mother, Nancy Curtis, who lives in Cambridge, said in a statement, “but we are also deeply saddened by the terrible, unjustified killing last week of his fellow journalist, Jim Foley, at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS.”
Foley was from New Hampshire, and the two families have gotten to know each other well, according to Curtis.
Syria and Iraq
President Obama has authorized surveillance flights over Syria, according to BBC News.
Correspondents say the move could mark the first step towards US air strikes inside Syria, where the jihadist group controls vast swathes of territory.
The US is already carrying out strikes against IS in neighbouring Iraq.
On Monday, the Syrian government said it would work with the international community in the fight against IS.
Western governments have so far rejected suggestions that they collaborate with President Bashar al-Assad in an attempt to counter the growing regional threat posed by IS….
On Monday evening, US officials said Mr Obama had approved over the weekend reconnaissance flights by unmanned and manned aircraft, including drones and possibly U2 spy planes.
The US military has been carrying out aerial surveillance of IS – an al-Qaeda breakaway formerly known as Isis – in Iraq for months and launched air strikes on 8 August.
From The Boston Globe, citing “AP sources,” U.S. planes have already begun flying over Syria.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S. has begun surveillance flights over Syria after President Barack Obama gave the OK, U.S. officials said, a move that could pave the way for airstrikes against Islamic State militant targets there.
While the White House says Obama has not approved military action inside Syria, additional intelligence on the militants would likely be necessary before he could take that step. Pentagon officials have been drafting potential options for the president, including airstrikes.
One official said the administration has a need for reliable intelligence from Syria and called the surveillance flights an important avenue for obtaining data.
Two U.S. officials said Monday that Obama had approved the flights, while another U.S. official said early Tuesday that they had begun. The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter by name, and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
Jim Michaels of USA Today spoke to Gen. Dempsey on Sunday about what is being done to deal with ISIS in Iraq.
ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT — U.S. airstrikes on Islamic militants in Iraq have blunted their momentum, but defeating them will require a broad regional approach that draws support from Iraq’s neighbors and includes political and diplomatic efforts, the top U.S. military officer said.
The long-term strategy for defeating the militants includes having the United States and its allies reach out to Iraq’s neighbors, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday….
Dempsey is working with Central Command to prepare “options to address [the Islamic State] both in Iraq and Syria with a variety of military tools including airstrikes,” said Col. Ed Thomas, Dempsey’s spokesman, in a statement.
The militant group Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has shown itself to be so brutal that Iraq and the U.S. should be able to find “willing partners” to join efforts to defeat the militants, Dempsey said.
But military power won’t be enough, Dempsey said. The strategy must take a comprehensive approach that includes political and diplomatic efforts to address the grievances of millions of Sunnis who have felt disenfranchised by Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government, he said.
I get the feeling that we’re never going to escape involvement in the endless Middle East conflicts, thanks to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the rest of the neocon gang. What a horrible mess! We have our own messes to deal with here, but foreign wars always seem to trump the needs of the American people.
John Cassidy speculates at The New Yorker: What’s Next in Iraq and Syria?
On his first full day back from vacation, President Barack Obama could be forgiven for wishing he were still on Martha’s Vineyard. With confirmation that ISIS fighters have just captured another military base from the government forces of President Assad, and that Qatar has engineered the release of an American freelance journalist who was being held by a non-ISIS jihadist group, Obama has two formidable challenges to deal with.
The immediate task for Obama is deciding whether to launch American bombing raids on ISIS positions inside Syria, while simultaneously preparing his Administration, and the country at large, for the possibility of another video showing an American hostage being butchered. The ISIS militants, having carefully orchestrated the beheading of James Foley following the launch of U.S. strikes inside Iraq, will surely seek to exploit the fate of its remaining American hostages for maximum effect. Any U.S. decision to expand its air campaign is almost certain to be met with the release of more snuff films.
No President—no American—could take such a prospect lightly. At the same time, Obama has to guard against allowing emotion and wishful thinking to take over U.S. policy. That’s what happened after 9/11, and some of the chaos that we now see in the Middle East can be traced back to that historic blunder. What’s needed is calm cost-benefit analysis of the options open to the United States, taking account of its strategic interests, its values, and its capabilities. In short, we need what Danny Kahneman, the Princeton psychologist who pioneered behavioral economics, would refer to as some Type 2 thinking: a disciplined weighing of the likely consequences of our actions. If we give into our Type 1 reaction—horror, outrage, anger—we will be playing into the hands of the jihadists.
One place to start is by acknowledging two errors in thinking that have blighted U.S. policy in the past decade: the conservative delusion that the United States could, more or less single-handedly, use its military power to reinvent the Middle East, and the liberal illusion that we could simply walk away from the mess that Bush, Cheney & Co. created. Without the political willingness and the financial capability to garrison the region in the manner of postwar Germany and Japan, U.S. influence has to be exercised through air power, political proxies, economic inducements, and regional alliances. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that the United States and other Western countries have vital interests at stake, one of which is preventing the emergence of a rogue Islamic state that would provide a rallying point, and a safe haven, for anti-Western jihadists the world over.
Read the whole thing at the link.
The Economies of the U.S. and Europe
There has been so much breaking news for the past couple of months that we haven’t talked much about the economies of the U.S. and Europe. But today the European Central Bank is topping the headlines, and last week Fed Chairperson Janet Yellen spoke at Jackson Hole, so I thought I’d post a few economics stories.
Here’s CNN Money’s report on Yellen’s speech, Janet Yellen: Job market not recovered.
That was Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s main message Friday in a much anticipated speech.
“It speaks to the depth of the damage that, five years after the end of the recession, the labor market has yet to fully recover,” she said.
The debate now is whether the job situation in America is healthy enough for the Federal Reserve to start raising interest rates, which have been at historic lows in recent years in an effort to jump start the economy. Yellen, however, said little new on Friday, and U.S. stock markets stayed flat.
Yellen is chair of the committee that sets interest rates, but she only gets one vote. Other members have differing views. The Fed board and other top economists are spending the weekend in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, debating these key issues.
Though the unemployment rate “has fallen considerably and at a surprisingly rapid pace,” Yellen said problems remain.
Yellen called attention to what Americans in the job market already know–though the employment numbers look better, many people have stopped looking for work, and most of the new jobs are part-time and pay low wages.
A few more U.S. economy stories to check out:
The Wall Street Journal: Fed’s Yellen Remains Mum on Timing of Rate Change.
Bloomberg Businessweek: Yellen Job-Slack View Muddied by Pent-Up Wage Deflation.
If you think the economy is struggling here, you should take a look at Europe, where austerity thinking has ruled since the economic crisis hit. Yesterday the French government collapsed. From The New York Times, French Cabinet Is Dissolved, a Victim of Austerity Battles.
PARIS — The collapse of the French government on Monday exposed widening divisions both within France’s leadership, and Europe more broadly, over austerity policies that many now fault for threatening to tip the eurozone back into recession.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced that he would dissolve his government after a rancorous battle in his cabinet over whether the belt-tightening measures taken by President François Hollande — at the urging of Germany and European Union officials in Brussels — were impeding France’s recovery.
The dispute broke into the open when Mr. Vall’s outspoken economy minister, Arnaud Montebourg, insisted in an interview over the weekend that austerity had gone too far. “The priority must be exiting the crisis, and the dogmatic reduction of deficits should come after,” he told the newspaper Le Monde.
He also took direct aim at the policies of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. “Germany is caught in a trap of austerity that it is imposing across Europe,” he said.
Even the formerly strong German economy is struggling now, according to Reuters (via NYT), Crisis in Ukraine Drags Economy in Germany.
The eurozone’s flatlining economy took another hit on Monday when data showed German business sentiment sagging for the fourth consecutive month. Chancellor Angela Merkel attributed some of her own country’s decline in the second quarter to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, over which tit-for-tat sanctions threaten trade. The Munich-based Ifo, a research firm, echoed some of those sentiments as it reported its business climate index, based on a monthly survey of some 7,000 companies, fell to a worse-than-expected 106.3 from 108, the lowest level in more than a year. The findings agreed with data earlier in the month on the second-quarter contraction in Germany, the bloc’s biggest economy. Klaus Wohlrabe, an Ifo economist, said his institute expected growth in Germany to be “close to zero” in the third quarter.
A few more headlines on the European economic situation:
Bloomberg Businessweek on the European Central Bank, Draghi May Again Find Bazooka Words Beat Action With QE, and an editorial from The Financial Times, Central banks at the crossroads.
Yesterday, on the day of Michael Brown’s funeral, The New York Times published a story that got a great deal of attention because of its insensitive characterization of the dead teenager. Here the paragraph that attracted the angry reaction:
Michael Brown, 18, due to be buried on Monday, was no angel, with public records and interviews with friends and family revealing both problems and promise in his young life. Shortly before his encounter with Officer Wilson, the police say he was caught on a security camera stealing a box of cigars, pushing the clerk of a convenience store into a display case. He lived in a community that had rough patches, and he dabbled in drugs and alcohol. He had taken to rapping in recent months, producing lyrics that were by turns contemplative and vulgar. He got into at least one scuffle with a neighbor.
Would the authors have written a similar paragraph about a white homicide victim? From Vox, The New York Times called Michael Brown “no angel.” Here’s how it described serial killers.
“It comes out of the opening scene,” says Mitchell, who notes that “like many teenagers,” Brown was indeed “no angel.” Okay, but would the New York Times have chosen this term — which is commonly used to describe miscreants and thugs — if the victim had been white? Mitchell: “I think, actually, we have a nuanced story about the young man and if it had been a white young man in the same exact situation, if that’s where our reporting took us, we would have written it in the same way.” When asked whether she thought that “no angel” was a loaded term in this context, Mitchell said she didn’t believe it was. “The story … talks about both problems and promise,” she notes.
The Times’s response has done little to calm the storm. Sean McElwee, research assistant at Demos, dug into the archives to compare the Times’s description of Brown to the newspaper’s previous descriptions of serial killers and terrorists. Of course, comparing articles produced decades apart by different writers and editors isn’t an exact science. But it does lend context to the widespread frustration over how young black men are portrayed in the media.
A series of McElwee’s tweets are posted at the link, and are well worth reading.
One more from Salon by Joan Walsh, Ferguson’s booming white grievance industry: Fox News, Darren Wilson and friends. Check it out at Salon.
How did this post get so long?! I’d better wrap it up. Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great Tuesday!
That about says it all.
Plenty of links for you today, and with the way I am feeling…all the horrible things these racist bastards are saying and doing, it is just a link dump today. As usual, the post centers around a theme…this Sunday the theme is, forgotten women.
The women have different stories to tell, some are forgotten by time. Others are overlooked or ignored by the government or their husbands, and then you have those who are having an important aspect of being a woman blatantly disregarded…her rights. (Not that she really had all of them anyway.)
So, let’s just get down to it. The link dump starts now:
I have other links on this Hobby Lobby shit below, but read this one from Imani Gandy. She will give it to y’all, finished and done. The Obama Administration Should Stop Bending to the Religious Right’s Will
Seeking to quell a politically charged controversy, the Obama administration announced new measures Friday to allow religious nonprofits and some companies to opt out of paying for birth control for female employees while still ensuring those employees have access to contraception.
Even so, the accommodations may not fully satisfy religious groups who oppose any system that makes them complicit in providing coverage they believe is immoral. The administration’s hope is that the new accommodation will be more palatable because it creates more distance between religious nonprofits and the health services they believe are immoral, by inserting the government as a middleman between nonprofits and their insurers.
But the Family Research Council, a socially conservative group, dismissed the new accommodation as an “insulting accounting gimmick” that still leaves businesses and nonprofits complicit in something they view as immoral.
They never will be satisfied. I knew this before the compromise was first offered way back…
Effective immediately, the U.S. will start allowing faith-affiliated charities, colleges and hospitals to notify the government — rather than their insurers — that they object to birth control on religious grounds. A previous accommodation offered by the Obama administration allowed those nonprofits to opt out of paying for birth control by submitting a document called Form 700 to their insurers, but Roman Catholic bishops and other religious plaintiffs argued just submitting that form was like signing a permission slip to engage in evil.
To opt-out of paying for contraceptives without using Form 700, religious nonprofits can send a letter to the Health and Human Services Department that includes the organization’s name, the type of health plan they offer and the name and contact information for their insurance issuers or third-party administrators, officials said. Groups must also explain which types of birth control they object to and state the objection is based on sincerely held beliefs.
The administration’s proposal to let companies like Hobby Lobby use Form 700 will apply only to “closely held” corporations that are owned by families or a small number of investors. The government is asking for the public’s input about how narrowly to define a “closely held” corporation, meaning the rule-making process will drag out for many months before the fix is finalized.
In a related move, the administration announced plans to allow for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby Inc. to start using Form 700. The Supreme Court ruled in June that the government can’t force companies like Hobby Lobby Inc. to pay for birth control, sending the administration scrambling for a way to ensure their employees can still get birth control one way or another at no added cost.
More on birth control, if only these PLUB assholes would admit to the fact that when you Give Teens Access to Birth Control and, Amazingly, the Teen Pregnancy Rate Drops | Smart News | Smithsonian
he teen birth rate in the U.S. has been declining for decades—it’s decreased 57 percent since 1991. But recently, it’s begun dropping dramatically. More than half of that 57 percent change took place just the past six years, says a new report from the CDC.
Alongside the rapidly dropping birth rate, there’s been an equally precipitous dip in teen abortions, which are also down 56 percent over the past two decades. With the birth rate and the abortion rate both down, it seems that teens have decided en masse to just stop getting pregnant. But why?
In the Washington Post, Tina Griego covers that possibility. In Colorado, she writes, the teen birth rate has dropped 40 percent from 2009 to 2013, the largest drop in the country. That decline, state health officials say, can be traced to a program designed to improve teens’ access to high quality, long-lasting birth control. WaPo:
The Colorado Family Planning Initiative, supported by a $23 million anonymous donation, provided more than 30,000 IUDs or implants to women served by the state’s 68 family-planning clinics. The state’s analysis suggests the initiative was responsible for three-quarters of the decline in the state’s teen birth rates.
What about the longer term downward trend? In 1957, the birth rate among teens age 15 to 19 was 96.3 per 1,000 teens. In 1991, it had dropped to 61.8 per 1,000, and in 2013, it was all the way down to 26.6 births per 1,000 teens.
Then you have the laws, like the one in Texas that is written about here under the title of: Quackery and Abortion Rights – NYTimes.com
The deception behind the wave of state-level abortion restrictions now threatening women’s access to safe and legal abortions was strikingly revealed during a trial that ended last week in Texas.
The trial, held before Judge Lee Yeakel of Federal District Court in Austin, offered an opportunity to examine evidence and hear arguments in a challenge to crucial portions of Texas’ sweeping 2013 package of abortion restrictions. The challenge, brought by reproductive rights advocates, focuses on two rules, one requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and another mandating that clinics meet state standards for ambulatory surgical centers, an unnecessary and prohibitively costly requirement.
The admitting-privileges rule, which is already in place, has severely limited access to safe and legal care in Texas. Absent court intervention, the situation will get much worse. There are now only 19 abortion clinics in Texas, compared with 41 before the new law. This number could shrink to as few as seven after Sept. 1, when the surgical-center rule takes effect.
And this is where the quack comes in:
A team of lawyers led by the Center for Reproductive Rights and their expert witnesses presented compelling evidence of the destructive consequences of the two rules and the emptiness of the claim that they are necessary to protect women’s health and safety.
By contrast, the state’s defense of the rules was a bizarre and unconvincing show. Four of its five witnesses denied, and then conceded (when confronted with incriminating emails) that their written testimony was crafted by Vincent Rue, an opponent of women’s reproductive freedom best known for promoting kooky claims, like the existence of an abortion-related mental illness he calls “post-abortive syndrome.”
Mr. Rue does brisk business these days orchestrating testimony from pliable witnesses willing to supply “expert” support for state abortion restrictions, a task for which he has been paid $42,000, so far, by Texas. That his guidance is relied upon is incredible given that his own past court testimony and theories have been discredited by judges and others.
If there was anything about forgotten women, it is the ones discussed about in this next piece: A Deadly Epidemic of Violence Against Women – The Atlantic
There is one state where women are getting killed in record numbers. Can you guess what region it is located?
The map is of South Carolina and its counties. “All 46 counties have at least one animal shelter to care for stray dogs,” The Charleston Post Courier reports, “but the state has only 18 domestic violence shelters to help women trying to escape abuse.” One of the red dots represents a 31-year-old, Amerise Barbre, whose boyfriend strangled her. Each red dot represents a woman killed by a husband or boyfriend. In the eight-year period shown, that sort of murder happened 292 times.
“Most state legislators profess deep concern over domestic violence,” the newspaper notes in the introduction to a seven-part feature. “Yet they maintain a legal system in which a man can earn five years in prison for abusing his dog but a maximum of just 30 days in jail for beating his wife or girlfriend on a first offense.”
Domestic abuse reportedly occurs there about 36,000 times per year.
The feature posits that public-policy failures largely explain why South Carolina’s homicide rate for women is presently the highest in the nation. It urges sweeping reforms.
They are summarized here.
As with all these links, you need to finish up the article to get the full picture.
What’s more, as we all know by now: Black women are killed by police, too – Salon.com
As law enforcement continues to use military weapons to terrorize protesters seeking justice for slain teen Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, the ache in my soul is primitive and all-encompassing.
Reporters are being arrested, children are being hit with tear gas, and political pundits are being threatened. The stench of fear, fear of the power of collective Black rage and action, is rancid. And that fear breeds desperation. The need to suppress that rage, which screams that we are worth more than this country has shown us, claws at the gate-keepers of White supremacy—elected officials, police officers, and mainstream media—until it eats at them from the inside out.
You cannot control what you can’t contain. Wilson’s cold-blooded execution of Michael Brown, who was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, while in a position of surrender, lit the fuse on years of racial profiling and inequality in the town of Ferguson.
And there can be no peace where there is no justice.
They want us believe that it’s about looting; but it’s not. This entire horrific show of violence being committed in the name of the “law” proves once and for all that the system is not broken. When a Black boy is gunned down and left to bleed out in the street, that’s American justice. When his killer is allowed to leave town under the cloak of anonymity, that’s American justice.
To paraphrase Malcolm X, we are not Americans, we are victims of America. But as conversations about Michael Brown and Ferguson segue into broader discussions about the scourge of police brutality at large, it becomes clear that, despite being on the frontlines, the we in question often does not include Black women.
Be clear: The need to have a very specific, targeted discussion about the fear of Black, male bodies is critical.
And Kirsten West Savali, of Dame explains more at the link.
Following this article, it may be good to place this little bit of art next: » Blog Archive » Panhandle Slim… Art for Folk…
Speaking of which. They Have the Authority to Kill a Minority » Balloon Juice
All these people know for sure is that a white cop gunned down a black man and couldn’t even be bothered to fill out a police report. Chief Justice John Roberts can go fuck himself with a burning cross.
That goes double for me!
Remember that reporter who was asking for information on police killings? We’re Compiling Every Police-Involved Shooting In America. Help Us. Well, check this out: What I’ve Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings
A few days ago, Deadspin’s Kyle Wagner began to compile a list of all police-involved shootings in the U.S. He’s not the only one to undertake such a project: D. Brian Burghart, editor of the Reno News & Review, has been attempting a crowdsourced national database of deadly police violence. We asked Brian to write about what he’s learned from his project.
Oops, I’ve gotten off track. Back to those forgotten women: U.S. Airports Won’t Show You These Women’s Rights Ads, So We Will – Mic
U.S. airports are littered with advertisements, but that hasn’t stopped them from refusing to run displays featuring basic information about women’s rights.
UltraViolet, an advocacy group aimed at fighting sexism and expanding women’s rights, recently attempted to launch such an ad campaign in several airports. They focused on states with both booming tourist industries and histories of economic inequality between the sexes, like Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina.
When the targeted airports got wind of the ads, however, they flat-out refused to run them.
Go to the link to see the ads.
It is not like if Men Had to Put Up With the Same Crap as Women | Cracked.com
Here…on to Israel: BBC News – Holocaust survivors condemn Israel’s Gaza ‘genocide’
More than 300 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and descendants of survivors have issued a public statement condemning Israel’s “genocide” of the Palestinian people in Gaza.
The statement was released by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and was placed as an advertisement in the New York Times.
It calls for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted and Israel to be boycotted.
The signatories expressed alarm at the “colonization of historic Palestine”.
It condemns the “racist dehumanisation of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached fever pitch”.
Go to the link to read the statement in full.
Up next, an Animated US Oil And Gas Rig Map
Business Insider had a,
Now Thuot has put together a new incredible GIF showing how oil and gas drilling rigs are moving across states, and the country, in 2014 to the most productive formations.
“We care about rig activity because it is a leading indicator of future production in an area,” he writes. “Rig activity in an area today signals new production from that area in the near-term.”
Back to the women.
In his introduction to the volume, John C. Raines summarized the group’s main findings about gender oppression. One, that world religions mirror social constructions of gender and vice versa; two, that the analysis of religious power is always a choice of political allegiance; three, that culturally specific and culturally competent academic work is needed in order to be persuasive; and four, that gender justice activism in religious domains demands multiple culturally appropriate tools and tactics. The contributors posited that all world religions carry their own seeds of positive change within. In John C. Raines’ words, “each of these religious traditions has a strong theory of social justice, and these resources can be harnessed to contemporary issues of gender. We ask, how can our Scriptures, how can our founding Prophets, how can our ancestors be used today to further justice in relations between genders?”
This essay offers resources from within medieval European Christianity in a feminist reading of the Christian dogma of hypostatic union, medieval political theory on royal twinning, and two medieval legends on the numinous double. Pulling these strands together as a feminist hermeneutics of double lives, I argue that the popular medieval story of a ninth century female Pope and the myth of a Fairy Lover have served to unhinge egemonic claims of male Christian superiority in the Middle Ages and in contemporary film today. As acts of subversive story telling or truth to be believed, the stories reconnoiter the possibility of a woman’s benevolent reign in the highest ecclesiastical office, and think up ingenious ways beyond institutional networks through which women might gain access to male dominated higher learning and a liberating sexuality. Safely positioned in part or in whole in the dreamlike realm of the numinous and supernatural, the narratives invite their audience to undo false consciousness. They insist that women deserve better and deserve more than what a misogynist status quo has to offer.
Next a series of links that vary in subject.
Hullabaloo- Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley – Dog days and ragnaroks, meaningless nouns
Orson Welles in F for Fake, 1973, three years after the Frozen Peas recording.
Hmmm, frozen peas, the woman in the next series of stories would know something about that.
We all joke about running away from the shit and starting our own little commune. The lost family in Siberia did just that…For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II | History | Smithsonian
The Siberian taiga in the Abakan district. Six members of the Lykov family lived in this remote wilderness for more than 40 years—utterly isolated and more than 150 miles from the nearest human settlement. (Wikicommons)
In 1978, Soviet geologists prospecting in the wilds of Siberia discovered a family of six, lost in the taiga
Karp Lykov and his daughter Agafia, wearing clothes donated by Soviet geologists not long after their family was rediscovered.
That article is from 2013, I was so fascinated, I looked for more information on the last living family member. A woman named, Agafia Lykova.
From the Siberian Times:
The kittens are survivors of a line of cats taken by the Lukov family into the remote forest when they fled from Stalin’s civilisation in the 1930s.
Agafya Lykova, pictured in the middle of eighties with father Karl, left, and Krasnoyarsk professor Nazarov
Agafya Lykova, 68, is the last surviving member of the family of Old Believers who were discovered by a Soviet geologist in 1978. They had cut themselves off from the outside world.
When they were discovered, the family comprised Karp Iosifovich (the head of the family), his sons Savvin, 45, and Dmitry, 36, and his daughters Natalya, 42, and Agafya, then 34. The children’s mother Akulina had died in 1961.
The three other children died in 1981 and Karp in 1988 since when Agafya has lived alone at the family’s smallholding in what is now Khakassky nature reserve.
Rangers from the reserve visited her in February and she asked them to take two kittens back to civilisation – in exchange for a goat and a rooster which they brought her. She had earlier asked for the new animals instead of a medal ‘For Belief and Kindness’ which Governor Aman Tuleyev of neighbouring Kemerovo region wanted to present her.
‘My old cock stopped crowing, please can I have a new one? Also my old goat died and I need another one. And another thing please can I have new boots. I am feeling well thank you, do say hello to governor Aman Tuleyev.’
The reserve press office said that ‘just before their departure, Agafya Lykova gave the reserve employees two kittens, a male and a female, and asked to give them into ‘good hands’.
Driven into the Siberian taiga by Stalin, she is the sole survivor of the Lykov family who cut themselves off from civilisation in 1936.
Photo of her hut:
Photo of Agafya:
The last article I could find was from January of this year: Emergency services arrive to save life of hermit Agafiya Lykova, Russia’s loneliest woman
Last week the recluse warned in a letter to a newspaper that her health was failing and she did not have enough logs for the winter.
‘I don’t know how God will help me survive the winter. There aren’t any logs. I need to get them into the house’, she warned.
After her plea, a helicopter with a doctor on board was sent to check the deeply religious hermit – and to bring her vital supplies. Meanwhile, a well-known Russian millionaire has offered to pay the salary of a helper to live with Agafya in her lonely vigil. German Sterligov, one of the first dollar millionaires as the Soviet Union collapsed, has promised a 40,000 rouble a month salary to a companion who will live with Agafya in the remotest house in Russia.
The helicopter brought fresh food, medicine and household items, and a doctor examined her but the woman – a devout Old Believer – refused his offer to be flown to hospital for treatment. The mercy mission was ordered by governor Viktor Zimin.
‘Nature reserve staff gathered food and other goods for Agafya,’ said a statement from the Emergencies Ministry in Khakassia, the Siberian republic where she lives. ‘They brought cereals and flour for her and cabbage and food for her goats. They also brought vegetables for planting, and in a month Agafya will start growing them at home.’
The team ‘carried logs from the forest closer to Agafya’s house. The logs were cut but it was hard for her to carry them every day.’
‘The doctor examined Agafiya and offered to take her to hospital for treatment. The 68 year old woman complained of headaches and other problems and needs detailed examination. But she absolutely refused to go. The doctor gave her some advice and left medicine.
There are photos and more curious tidbits of information about Agafya and her life at those links, so be sure to take a look.
I will end this post with a Book review from New York Times, a connection…from one forgotten Russian woman to another. ‘Kreutzer Sonata Variations’ Has a Scorned Wife’s Rebuttal
In her long and often turbulent marriage to Leo Tolstoy, Sophia Andreevna Tolstoy put up with a lot, but “The Kreutzer Sonata” qualified as special punishment. Published in 1889, the story presented Tolstoy’s increasingly radical views on sexual relations and marriage through a frenzied monologue delivered by a narrator who, in a fit of jealousy and disgust, murdered his wife.
In her diary, Sophia wrote: “I do not know how or why everyone connected ‘The Kreutzer Sonata’ with our own married life, but this is what has happened.” Members of the Tolstoy family circle and the czar himself had expressed pity for her, she complained. “And it isn’t just other people,” she added. “I, too, know in my heart that this story is directed against me, and that it has done me a great wrong, humiliated me in the eyes of the world and destroyed the last vestiges of love between us.”
Convinced that the story was “untrue in everything relating to a young woman’s experiences,” Sophia wrote two novellas setting forth her own views, “Whose Fault?” and “Song Without Words,” which both languished in the archives of the Tolstoy Museum until their recent rediscovery and publication in Russia. Michael R. Katz, a retired professor of Russian and Eastern European studies at Middlebury College, has translated both stories into English and included them in “The Kreutzer Sonata Variations,” coming from Yale University Press on Tuesday, adding to a flurry of recent work appraising Tolstoy’s wife as a figure in her own right.
Looks like something good…especially with those cooler days coming our way. (Hopefully.)
What is on your mind today? Let’s have it.
Media reports (based on the Sheriff’s statement) on Robin Williams’ death are still saying the cause of his death is a “suspected suicide.” From the New York Times:
The Marin County sheriff’s office said in a statement that it “suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.” An investigation was underway.
The statement said that the office received a 911 call at 11:55 a.m. Pacific time, saying that a man had been found “unconscious and not breathing inside his residence.” Emergency personnel sent to the scene identified him as Mr. Williams and pronounced him dead at 12:02 p.m.
I can’t help but be curious about this–does that make me a bad person? My mind keeps going over possible scenarios, wondering how he died and why it isn’t clearly a suicide. I hope we’ll eventually find out what happened, so I can stop having disturbing visual thoughts about it. As someone who has strugged with depression and addiction, I can understand the agony that must have driven Williams to take his own life, but I wish he had reached out to someone first.
The NYT article has some interesting background on Williams’ childhood that I had never heard before.
The privileged son of a Detroit auto executive who grew up chubby and lonesome, playing by himself with 2,000 toy soldiers in an empty room of a suburban mansion, Mr. Williams, as a boy, hardly fit the stereotype of someone who would grow to become a brainy comedian, or a goofy one, but he was both.
This morning the Detroit Free Press republished an article from 1996 in which Williams talks about his childhood home. The interview took place “before the release of the film “Jack.”
“It’s gone; it doesn’t exist anymore, ” says Williams, the winsome memory of his childhood sanctuary written all over his face. Of course, everything is written on Williams’ face: He might as well have a sign in his hair that says, “Post bills here.”
Williams plays an overgrown — and I mean way overgrown — 10-year-old child in “Jack, ” which opens Friday. He’s recalling his own childhood in Bloomfield Hills in a home at the corner of Woodward and Long Lake, which, in his memory, was little short of a fairyland.
“It was a giant, beautiful old mansion, with a gatehouse, an empty garage with room for 25 cars, barns, and there was a very wonderful old English man, Mr. Williams, who looked after the gardens, ” Williams says. He is looking out the balcony window of his Los Angeles hotel suite onto a busy street, but Williams clearly is visualizing the past.
“We didn’t own it; we just rented it, ” says Williams, whose father was an auto executive. “Then we moved to Chicago, and when we came back to Detroit a few years later, we just lived in an apartment. And it was very different, you know. But the first house, it was so wonderful, so peaceful. There was no one for miles around. Only this giant golf course with people named Tad whacking the old ball.”
It’s a nice interview; you can read the rest at the link.
Thinking about Robin Williams’ movies reminded me that my Dad and I went to see Robert Altman’s Popeye together in 1980 when I was home in Indiana for a visit. That was Williams’ very first film. We both really enjoyed it. Williams was perfect as Popeye and Shelley Duvall was a marvelous Olive Oyl. The New York Daily News has a nice list of Williams’ finest performances: From ‘Popeye’ to ‘Good Will Hunting,’ the actor’s most iconic roles.
Of course Williams has a Boston connection too. He won an academy award for his role in Good Will Hunting. A great scene from the movie was shot on a bench in Boston Garden.
From The Hollywood Reporter: Robin Williams Memorial Pops up at ‘Good Will Hunting’ Bench.
The bench that helped Robin Williams earn an Oscar is now the site of an impromptu memorial for the late actor, thanks to a few fans in Boston.
Shortly after they heard of the actor’s death Monday, Nicholas Rabchenuk and his girlfriend headed to the Boston Public Garden bench Williams and Matt Damon made famous in Good Will Hunting.
“We went to the [Boston] Common, and I was really surprised there wasn’t anything there,” Rabchenuk tells The Hollywood Reporter.
They brought flowers and chalk, and found two fans already sitting on the bench. The four of them teamed up to write lines from Good Will Hunting on the ground, including “Sorry guys, I went to see about a girl” and “Your move, chief.”
The plan is to honor Williams’ body of work, not just Good Will Hunting.Hook has already gotten some love (Bangarang!).
“I hope it catches on,” says Rabchenuk, who would like to see similar memorials pop up at benches around the world, as well as at other Boston-area sites portrayed in the film.
You can watch the park bench scene at the link. Here’s another well-acted scene from Good Will Hunting. The sound is a little low, unfortunately.
Williams really was a fine dramatic actor. At Huffington Post, you can watch Williams’ Oscar speech.
Just one last link, from WBZ TV in Boston: Robin Williams Left Mark On City Of Boston, by Jim Armstrong.
Williams won an Academy Award for his role in the 1997 film “Good Will Hunting.” Much of the film was shot in Boston and Cambridge, and while he was here, he made a big impression.
In a career that spanned decades, the time Williams spent in Boston seemed to have stuck with him as well.
L Street Tavern, the South Boston bar made famous in the film, still credits Williams and the crew for putting them on the map. When he accepted the Academy Award, he singled out Southie, telling the people of South Boston, “you’re a can of corn, you’re the best.”
Years later, while talking to WBZ-TV about the film “What Dreams May Come,” he was still cracking jokes about South Boston.
“You still a wicked pissah smart? How are ya, what are ya doing,” Williams said in a Boston accent during the 1998 interview. “Hello, all the folks at L Street. How ya doing?”
The L Street Tavern posted a statement on their Facebook page after learning of the actor’s death Monday night:
Rest Peacefully Robin Williams. You were a comedic genius and a friend to all here while filming Good Will Hunting. Thanks for recognizing South Boston in your Academy Award acceptance speech and the many fond memories at L Street Tavern and South Boston Bowl. You, too, are a “Can of Corn”.
Reminiscing endlessly about movies is easy for me, but I guess I should include some of the latest news in this post too.
Sigh . . .
Read the rest of this entry »
There’s plenty of bad news to wallow in today, but I’m determined not to let it get to me. I’m going to begin this post with a story that made me smile and a couple more that made me laugh. After that, I’ll take a look at the dark side of current events.
Last night about 8:00, a “toddler” managed to White House security alert when he “squeezed through the White House gate” and ran onto the lawn, where he was finally intercepted by heavily armed Secret Security agents. At the time, President Obama was about to make a statement on the situation in Iraq. The Washington Post reports:
The brief kerfuffle as agents scrambled to intercept the pint-sized intruder confirms what most people know: toddlers are sneaky, and fast. This one was promptly returned to his parents.
The little guy didn’t get in any trouble — at least, not with the feds. And he was unavailable for comment — to anyone — for at least a few more months.
“We were going to wait until he learned to talk to question him,” Secret Service Agent Edwin Donovan said in a statement, “but in lieu of that he got a timeout and was sent on way with parents.”
I sooooo wish there was a video of the action! I suspect we’ll eventually learn the identity of the boy. If nothing else, he’ll have a great story to tell his friends when he grows up.
Here’s another silly story. A small-town New Jersey police officer got into an argument with a resident with a grudge against the local animal shelter who was “seen taking pictures” inside a public building. The cop began ranting about President Obama, and the whole thing was caught on tape. From Helmetta, NJ:
Special Police Officer Richard Recine now is the subject of an internal affairs investigation after the video was posted online and was seen by Police Director Robert Manney, who called the comments an “embarrassment.”
In the video, taken Monday at the borough municipal building, resident Steve Wronko gets into a verbal confrontation with Recine, who was called to the building because Wronko was seen taking pictures inside.
After Wronko insists he has a constitutional right to record in a public place, Recine responds.
“Obama has decimated the friggin’ constitution, so I don’t give a damn,” says Recine, a retired Franklin cop. “Because if he doesn’t follow the Constitution we don’t have to.”
Wronko then turns to the person recording the camera to make sure that was recorded. Recine repeats himself.
“Our president has decimated the constitution, then we don’t have to.”
Wronko and his wife have been getting on local officials’ nerves for awhile now. They say they are
campaigning for reform at the borough animal shelter, which they said gave them an underage and sick puppy that caused them thousands of dollars in veterinarian bills.
“We wanted them to pay for the medical bills. Now it’s way past the money,” Collene Freda-Wronko said. “Now it’s about getting animals out of that shelter and getting people into that shelter who could run that facility better.”
She said police have ordered her husband to stop videorecording at the animal shelter during two previous incidents.
Here’s the viral video of officer Recine expressing his opinions about his right to ignore the Constitution.
Recine, a retired Franklin, N.J. police officer who is collecting a pension of around $76,000, and was working in Helmetta for an hourly wage, has now resigned. Oddly, he is registered Democrat.
“I don’t want to give a black eye to law enforcement,” Recine, 59, said Thursday in an exclusive interview with MyCentralJersey.com. “People are saying some really nasty stuff about cops. I don’t want all officers painted with the same brush.”
Borough Administrator Herbert Massa said the resignation was accepted by Police Director Robert Manney, who had called Recine’s comments an “embarrassment.”
The video first was reported Wednesday by MyCentralJersey.com and the story quickly went viral. The story was picked up by the Drudge Report and was the top story Thursday morning on the online community news website Reddit. Many readers were upset that Recine’s comments were dismissive of civil liberties.
Recine claims that when he made the remarks about Obama, he was just being “sarcastic.”
“It was just a stupid statement on my part. He got me riled and I said it,” he explained. “I don’t believe that at all. I’m the most patriotic person in the world. I believe in God, the flag, country, the Constitution.” ….
“I tried to explain to him that since 9/11 you just can’t walk into a place and take videos,” Recine said Thursday. “All he kept on doing was saying he had civil rights, and the Constitution, and he didn’t have to give me information. And I kind of like lost my temper.”
No one asked Recine why terrorists would target a public building in Helmetta, NJ, population 2,200.
This next story isn’t exactly funny–well, as my dad used to say, “it’s not funny ha ha; it’s funny peculiar.” From Raw Story, CEO of Baptist center fired after arrest for arranging dog sex encounter on Craigslist.
Jerald “Jerry” Hill, 56, of Camden County [Missouri] was arrested on Aug. 5th after setting up a meeting with an undercover officer for the purpose of having sex with a dog, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.
According to Boone County sheriff’s Detective Tracy Perkins, her office received a tip that someone was seeking sex with a dog or other type of animal — which she did not specify — on Craigslist. An undercover officer exchanged emails with Hill offering a dog for sex. Subsequently, Hill was taken into custody in Columbia, MO., when he arrived anticipating a sexual tryst.
Hill’s employer is concerned for his “well-being.” Continuing from Raw Story:
Hill is currently listed as the president and CEO of the Windermere Baptist Conference Center, located in Roach, Missouri, whichissued a statement saying that they were supportive and grateful for his work, but were worried about how the impact of his arrest would reflect on the center.
“We are concerned for the well-being of Jerry…and we are also concerned with the well-being of Windermere,” Chairman Arthur Mallory said. “Windermere will continue to function in a good way…. It is a significant piece of God’s kingdom’s work.”
Some Serious but Positive News
I actually managed to find some positive stories in the serious news today, so I’ll begin with that. From Politico: IRS notches legal win over lost tea party emails.
The IRS won what might be Round One in a series of contests pitting tea party groups against the agency, with a federal judge rejecting a conservative group’s bid for a court-appointed forensics expert to hunt for ex-official Lois Lerner’s lost emails.
Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia said True the Vote’s lawsuit against the IRS failed to show “irreparable harm” in its injunction relief request and that “the public interest weighs strongly against the type of injunctive relief the plaintiff seeks.”
“Despite the general distrust of the defendants expressed by the plaintiff, the Court has no factual basis to concur with that distrust … and therefore concludes that the issuance of an injunction will not further aid in the recovery of the emails, if such recovery is possible, but will rather only duplicate and potentially interfere with ongoing investigative activities,” he wrote in a court memorandum posted Wednesday afternoon.
Walton found further fault with True the Vote’s legal arguments.
True the Vote says it is one of the conservative groups that were discriminated against by the IRS in the scandal that erupted last year. The controversy again hit a boiling point this summer when the IRS said a 2011 computer crash erased Lerner emails that congressional Republicans say are vital to its investigation of the matter.
But Walton found a number of problems with True the Vote’s legal demands.
He said the group must establish that it would suffer “irreparable harm” in the absence of the injunction, along with a handful of other requirements such as whether it’s in the public interest.
More details at the link.
I’ve written a few times about the Dozier School for Boys in Florida and the University of South Florida’s archaeological dig a the site of the former reform school. From Reuters, via Raw Story: First remains identified among 55 bodies found at notorious FL reform school.
George Owen Smith, a 14-year-old caught with an older boy in a stolen car, was sent in 1940 to a reform school in the Florida Panhandle, never to be seen again by his family.
His remains became the first to be identified among 55 bodies dug up from unmarked graves last year on the campus of the Dozier School for Boys, the University of South Florida announced on Thursday….
“It feels pretty good, really after 73 years. It’s a feeling of relief,” Ovell Krell, 85, Smith’s younger sister, told Reuters on receiving confirmation of his whereabouts.
Erin Kimmerle, the lead researcher and associate professor of anthropology at USF, said in a statement: “We may never know the full circumstances of what happened to Owen or why his case was handled the way it was.
“But we do know that he now will be buried under his own name and beside family members who longed for answers.”
Video from CBS News:
The Rest of the News, Headlines Only
AP via Bloomberg Businessweek, Iraqi and Kurdish officials welcome US airdrops.
New York Daily News, U.S. military launches first airstrikes on Islamic fighters: Pentagon
Global Post, US launches strikes on Islamic State in Iraq (LIVE BLOG).
AP via Daily Mail, WHO: Ebola outbreak is a public health emergency.
New York Times, Russia Responds to Western Sanctions With Import Bans of Its Own
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a fabulous Friday!!
JJ isn’t able to write her usual Wednesday post, because she had to take Jake to Atlanta for doctor’s appointment. I have a lot to do today too, so this is going be a quickie post with some good news and the usual bad news headlines.
Part of the good news is that I have some good news to begin with today!
Media Consolidation Fail
Rupert Murdoch has given up on taking over Time Warner, according to the LA Times.
Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has abandoned its $80-billion takeover bid for rival Time Warner, a stunning retreat for a mogul not known for throwing in the towel.
Murdoch said Tuesday that he wanted to orchestrate a friendly, not hostile, takeover. But Time Warner Inc.’s board dug in, and that meant Fox would have had to wage a contentious and protracted fight that could risk the company’s value.
Over the weekend, Murdoch and his top deputies assessed the situation and concluded that their chances of success were slim. Wall Street and many in Hollywood had been betting that Murdoch would eventually claim Time Warner as the grand prize in his 60-year-plus quest to build the world’s most powerful media company.21st Century Fox withdrew its $75 billion takeover offer for Time Warner Inc., the owner of HBO and Warner Bros.
“He underestimated the resolve of Time Warner’s board and [Chief Executive] Jeff Bewkes to fight this thing,” said one person close to Time Warner who was not authorized to speak publicly about the situation.
Fox executives were genuinely surprised that Time Warner declined to even entertain deal discussions. Not only did Time Warner reject the $80-billion offer, but its board moved quickly to change its corporate bylaws to make it more difficult for Murdoch to buy the company.
I’m really surprised and gratified by this news; I’m so happy that Murdoch isn’t going to get his hands on HBO for the time being.
Market Basket Updates
A couple of updates on the Market Basket work stoppage that I wrote about yesterday.
From WBUR Boston (NPR), Market Basket Workers Rally, Keeping Pressure Up.
Thousands of workers and customers at the troubled Market Basket supermarket chain shouted “Bring him back!” Tuesday at a boisterous rally designed to pressure management to reinstate the company’s fired chief executive or accept his offer to buy the New England chain.
The rally outside a Market Basket store in Tewksbury was the fourth large demonstration workers have held since Arthur T. Demoulas was fired in June by a board controlled by his cousin and rival, Arthur S. Demoulas.
Over the last two weeks, hundreds of warehouse workers and drivers have refused to make deliveries to the family-owned chain’s 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, leaving stock severely depleted and prompting customers to shop at other grocery stores. Market Basket, based in Tewksbury, is known for its low prices.
“Our resolve has galvanized to something a lot firmer than it was,” fired Market Basket employee Steve Paulenka told WBUR before the rally. “The customer boycott, the employee resolve is just insurmountable. The customers aren’t coming back until we come back, and we’re not coming back until the boss comes back.”
The rally had the atmosphere of an outdoor rock festival, as participants threw beach balls high in the air and music blasted from large speakers set up along the parking lot.
It sounds kind of fun, doesn’t it?
The New York Times has an article about the Market Basket battle: Grocery Chain Reels as Employees and Customers Rally for an Ousted President.
TEWKSBURY, Mass. — With a crippling job action enveloping the New England supermarket chain Market Basket for a third week, the company’s board is conducting round-the-clock negotiations with its former president — and others — in search of a deal that will quell the turmoil.
But the bid by the former chief, Arthur T. Demoulas, to buy the company is mired in uncertainty, according to people close to the negotiations. And the board is weighing nearly a dozen offers, including one that is higher than Mr. Demoulas’s, these people said. The sale could be worth more than $3.5 billion.
While the board bargains with bidders behind closed doors, employees continue to stage public rallies to demand that “Artie T.,” as he is known, be brought back to run the company. He was deposed as president in June in the latest chapter of a decades-long feud with his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, who now controls Market Basket, one of New England’s most successful retail chains….
Market Basket is said to be losing millions of dollars a week in sales. The shelves are devoid of fresh produce, meat and dairy products. Supplies of nonperishables are dwindling, too, as if a huge snowstorm had struck.
At the store in North Andover, Mass., where 21 registers are usually open and customers clog the aisles, only one register was open on Monday, and the cashier there had no customers. Mike Dunleavy, the store director in Somerville, Mass., said volume at his store had dropped 90 percent. Vendors, growers, drivers and others in Market Basket’s supply chain have all felt the pinch.
Hillary Clinton News
Here’s something interesting. The New York Daily News reports that Hillary Clinton has leased an office in midtown Manhattan.
Hillary Clinton has inked a deal for a brand new personal office in a Midtown skyscraper owned by real estate bigwig Stephen Green, a big Democratic donor.
Clinton signed a two-year lease for more than 4,000 square feet on the 27th floor of 120 West 45th St., between Sixth and Seventh Aves., a source told the Daily News. The space has room for a staff of up to 25 people.
A spokesman for Clinton confirmed the new digs were a personal office. “Plan was for the personal office to move to NYC, we did that last week,” he said in an email.
Is Hillary working herself up to a big announcement? She made a surprise appearance last night on the Stephen Colbert show. At The Fix, Jaime Fuller reports that Clinton and Colbert had a name-dropping competition, Hillary Clinton and Stephen Colbert have a namedrop-off.
Stephen Colbert had a surprise guest last night — presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, who magically appeared to rescue her book from Colbert’s complaints about all the name dropping she did in its 600-plus pages….
When Clinton walked through the door, the audience, usually reverent for Colbert alone, started to yell, “Hillary, Hillary.” Colbert then proceeded to remind them that they had been chanting his name only four minutes earlier, “you two-timers.”
Watch the video and read Colbert’s tweets at the WaPo link.
That’s about all the good news I could find.
This morning’s breaking news headlines (links only).
Christian Science Monitor: US general killed in Afghanistan: How big is threat of insider attacks?
New York Times: U.N. Reports Dire Impact on Children in Gaza Strip.
Wall Street Journal: Cease-Fire Between Israel and Hamas Holds for Second Day.
Bloomberg Businessweek: Indirect Israel-Hamas talks on Gaza start in Cairo.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Death toll in southern China quake rises to 589.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great Wednesday!
“My whole life as an artist has been nothing more than a continuous struggle against reaction and the death of art. In the picture I am painting — which I shall call Guernica — I am expressing my horror of the military caste which is now plundering Spain into an ocean of misery and death.” — Pablo Picasso
I’m experiencing some kind of paralysis today, so I don’t know what this post is going to consist of. I’m just going to take it moment to moment. First thing this morning, I read List of X’s long comment on Dakinikat’s Friday reads. I hope everyone will go read it. I think that could lead to our having a serious, productive discussion on Israel/Palestine. For now, I’m just going to put up the latest stories I can find on the conflict.
NPR: Gaza Update: Fate Of Israeli Soldier Unknown; Death Toll Surpasses 2009 Level, by Bill Chappell.
A day after they were to begin a cease-fire, Israel and Hamas are still firing at one another, in a conflict that has killed at least 1,650 Gazans, 63 Israeli soldiers and 3 Israeli civilians, according to tallies from the respective sides.
Those numbers surpass the estimated fatalities from the last major Gaza conflict, which raged for around three weeks from 2008-2009.
Hamas, which has been condemned for breaking a temporary peace and capturing an Israeli soldier, said Saturday that it has lost contact with the group that conducted the ambush that killed two soldiers and resulted in Lt. Hadar Goldin’s capture.
The military wing of Hamas released a statement today, NPR’s Emily Harris reports, in which it said that after an Israeli bombardment, “the Hamas fighters are believed to be dead and if there was a soldier with them, he probably is too.”
At the link, read a brief synopsis of events in the conflict as of this morning. Other headlines:
Haaretz: Israel seeks to end Gaza operation unilaterally, by Barak Ravid.
Israel’s security cabinet decided after a five-hour meeting Friday night that Israel will no longer seek a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip via negotiations with Hamas, senior Israeli officials said. Therefore, Israel does not intend to send a delegation to the Cairo truce talks as previously agreed in the course of the last cease-fire, before it was violated by Hamas.
The senior officials said that ministers were unanimous in the cabinet meeting in their position that there is no point in pursuing cease-fire negotiations after Hamas violated the previous one by capturing an IDF soldier on Friday. According to the officials, the ministers also agreed that the captured soldier will not change Israel’s overall strategy. In other words, the IDF will continue its operations to destroy the tunnels and the ground operation will not be significantly expanded at this stage.
The cabinet also decided that instead of efforts to reach a cease-fire through negotiations, Israel will focus on restoring Israel’s deterrence against Hamas. The senior officials said that in light of the failed cease-fire efforts, Israel will consider ending the operation and unilaterally leaving Gaza, relying on deterrence.
“We think there is still enough international legitimacy for an operation in Gaza,” said a senior Israeli official. “In the coming days the destruction of the tunnels will be complete, and then a decision will be made as to how to continue from there.” The official added that “if we feel that deterrence has been restored, we will leave the [Gaza] Strip on the basis of the ‘quiet for quiet’ principle. If we feel deterrence has not yet been achieved, we will continue the operation inside the Gaza Strip or exit and continue with the aerial bombardment.”
The Washington Post: A view of Gaza from the sea: How Israel’s navy patrols the coast, by Ruth Eglash.
For the war-weary group of international journalists struggling to find their sea legs, the patrol offered a rare insight into Israel’s navy, which over the past four weeks has acted as a strategic support to Israel’s ongoing military operation against Hamas in Gaza and served as a deterrent against militants attempting to infiltrate Israel via the sea.
“We were not surprised by Hamas’s attempt to infiltrate into Israel from the sea. They have used many different measures to attack us,” said Cmdr. Z, one of the Keshet’s two commanders who spoke on the condition of anonymity in accord with standard Israeli military protocol.
He was referring to an incident on July 8 when members of Hamas’s armed wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, attempted to attack an Israeli military base that sits on the coast just north of the Gaza Strip.Israeli surveillance cameras picked up on the infiltration early, and five Hamas militants were subsequently killed in the attack. Hamas later revealed that it had been training a naval commando unit for sea-related combat.
The Christian Science Monitor: What could be done to break the Israeli-Palestinian revenge cycle?, by Kristen Chick, correspondent, and Christa Case Bryant, staff writer.
GAZA CITY, GAZA AND KFAR AZA, ISRAEL — In the battered Gazaneighborhood of Shejaiya, Ataf Ettish surveys what was once her home. An Israeli bomb ripped off the outside of the three-story building, exposing the blue and pink inner walls of her daughter’s bedroom.
The building next door is gone, replaced by a crater, the 80-year-old owner buried beneath the rubble. Ms. Ettish now lives in a United Nations shelter, sharing a single toilet with 1,000 people.
“This is not a war – this is destruction of humanity,” she says. “I’ve lived through two previous wars here, but this is the worst.”
In the Israeli kibbutz of Kfar Aza, just across the border but a world away, Mark Joffe agrees it’s getting worse.
“Each time it happens … the rockets are bigger, the threats are bigger,” says Mr. Joffe, who says residents fear Hamas will infiltrate the border community (“Aza” is the Hebrew word for “Gaza”). “If we’d done the right thing five to six years ago, it would have been a lot less costly.”
Now many Israelis’ belief that an extended, harsh crackdown on Hamas will bring lasting peace is being put to the test. On Friday, a conflict that has cost 1,600 Palestinian lives and seen a quarter of Gaza’s population displaced from their homes looked set to enter a dangerous new phase after an apparent Hamas capture of an Israeli soldier.
Read the rest at the link.
Would this work?
Back in Washington DC, another intractable conflict continues in Congress between crazy ultra-right-wing Republicans and semi-sane right wing Republicans. Here are the latest stories about that.
Reuters: U.S. House passes border-security funding bill to speed deportations, by David Lawder and Richard Cowan.
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Friday to crack down on Central American migrants, including unaccompanied children, who are flooding to the U.S. border with Mexico, as lawmakers passed a $694 million border security bill.
The 223-189 vote came one day after conservative Republicans balked at an earlier version of the measure, exposing a deep rift between Tea Party activists and more mainstream Republicans.
In passing the retooled bill, the Republican-led House ignored a veto threat from the White House. But with the Senate already on a five-week summer recess, this measure will advance no further at least until September.
Isn’t that just ducky? And this will lead to suffering for real people, not that most people in DC really give a sh*t.
House Democrats complained that the legislation would too speedily return children to dangerous conditions in their home countries. President Barack Obama called the Republican bill “extreme” and “unworkable.”
Later on Friday, the House also passed a separate bill reversing Obama’s 2012 policy suspending deportations of some undocumented residents who were brought to the United States as children years ago by their parents.
The measure also would bar Obama from expanding this policy, possibly to parents of children who already qualify.
The tougher language in the twin bills would make it easier to deport migrant children and add money to deploy National Guard troops at the border with Mexico.
Dana Milbank opines: An upending of reason in the House.
After conservatives on Thursday brought down House Speaker John Boehner’s bill to address the border crisis, the new House Republican leadership team issued a joint statement declaring that President Obama should fix the problem himself.
“There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action,” the leadership quartet proclaimed, “to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.” ….
Just the day before, House Republicans had voted to sue Obama for using his executive authority. They called him lawless, a usurper, a monarch, a tyrant — all for postponing deadlines in the implementation of Obamacare. Now they were begging him to take executive action to compensate for their own inability to act — even though, in this case, accelerating the deportation of thousands of unaccompanied children coming from Central America would likely require Obama to ignore a 2008 law.
This was not a momentary lapse but a wholesale upending of reason.
Read the rest at the Washington Post.
(Ed. note: after he rudely insults her.)
In an unusual breach of decorum, even for the divided Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi chased Rep. Tom Marino across the House floor, taking offense at comments by the Pennsylvania Republican during debate on the border funding bill Friday night.
“We don’t have law and order,” Marino began as he wrapped up his comments on the border supplemental. “My colleagues on the other side don’t want to do anything about it.”
“You know something that I find quite interesting about the other side? Under the leadership of the former Speaker [Pelosi], and under the leadership of their former leader [Rep. Steny Hoyer], when in 2009 and 2010, they had the House, the Senate and the White House, and they knew this problem existed,” he continued. “They didn’t have the strength to go after it back then. But now are trying to make a political issue out of it now.”
Off-mic, Pelosi then approached Marino, crossing the aisle in view of cameras, and apparently challenged Marino’s assertion that Democrats did not do anything about the issue when they had majority control.
“Yes it is true,” Marino replied directly to Pelosi, who was House speaker in those years. “I did the research on it. You might want to try it. You might want to try it, Madam Leader. Do the research on it. Do the research. I did it. That’s one thing that you don’t do.”
John Parkinson of ABC apparently had no issues with what Marino said, just shock that Pelosi responded.
After Marino concluded his remarks and as many Republicans applauded their colleague, Pelosi crossed the chamber again in view of cameras, enraged, pointing and sticking her finger at Marino.
She then followed Marino up a Republican aisle, gesturing and arguing with him. Lawmakers on the GOP side gathered in dismay as one spoke out to tell the chair that the House was not in order, in an effort to halt the bickering.
H/T to Fannie for this video:
What sane person could blame her? But sanity is at a premium in U.S. politics and journalism today.
Other News Stories of Possible Interest
No one else her probably cares except Pat, but the last-place Red Sox completely blew up the team and then they beat the Yankees last night.
Boston Globe: New-look Red Sox drop Yankees.
Christian Science Monitor: Why 400,000 people in Ohio can’t drink the water.
I hope you’ll share your thoughts and links in the comment thread.