Wednesday Reads: Clowns, Rainbows and Pandas

1ccca3098165d541a0f317a49e6fa02aGood Morning

What a fabulous week it has been for those of us with GLBT family and friends. It does feel good to know that my 7926e78cc651b090851ec2da26316142uncle…my friends here on the blog, my good friends from high school…my daughter’s best buddies, my son’s friends too…can legally gain the rights, respect and dignity that they deserve…as human beings.

This is the point of all these rainbows innit? And here we are days after the ruling, and still people are posting hateful shit on social media. They don’t get it.

I want to share something with you, written by one of my daughter’s very good friends…Her name is Jemha, it was written last week but it still does make a huge point:

Jemha

 

Smart cookie isn’t she.

10999985_966134726743787_4490115553396602658_n

And what about all the fuss doing with flags, black ones with dildos…confederate ones? This is another point that bothers me, as I look around at social media (Facebook) because this is where my “friends” are mostly found hanging out.

13d9e92cb0f60a7ffc5deb268f88d52dAgain, I am amazed at how many people don’t “get it” but I will use Jemha again as an example…she is half-black, half-Haitian. When my daughter is enjoying a Blizzard in a Blue Ridge Dairy Queen with Jemha, and they actually feel so intimidated…they are all afraid, because of the racist assholes glares and scowls and threatening looks…with the confederate flag on display everywhere. This is Hate. And it is directed at both girls.

That is a reality, that is what so many don’t understand, and it is so frustrating for me that many of my friends who are very intelligent…don’t get it. Yes, freedom of speech is one thing. But there is a line that is crossed when freedom of speech becomes: hate motivated intimidation, terroristic threats, hate crimes, etc.

The actions and statements made by assclown right-wing religious racist bigots of late hurt my family and friends. And I do not like to see my people treated unfairly, unkindly or disrespected.

Am I going to stand up for my friends and family? You bet your fucking ass I will…

be7c9dc5f379c77a754ef804c2dfcc46I am so sick of folks using religion as an excuse to discriminate and spread their hate and racist agenda against people of color (Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, Green, whatever.) And….when they plead religious freedom as an excuse to manipulate and control women and deny us reproductive healthcare, or scream religious liberty against GLBTs to avoid following the law of the land….this is not what the Constitution is all about.

They preach their righteousness and pass judgement when hypocrisy is the cornerstone of everything they stand for….This does not sit well with me. Whatever the religious folks want to do in their own private lives within their own house is their business….but do not come and force their version of religion liberty upon everyone else, by taking away the liberty of those they hate and despise.

Anyway, that isn’t anything new for you all to read. Boston Boomer said the same thing last week. Now, here are your links for today.

3d7eac43e8de493cb1314cbc88b8ce3eA Southern Black Church fire raged overnight, this makes 8 in the last 10 days. 

Another Black Church Burns in the South, the Eighth in 10 Days | TIME

Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, a prominent African-American church in Greeleyville, S.C., caught fire late Tuesday. It is the eighth black church in the southern U.S.A. to burn in 10 days.

[…]

Mount Zion was burned to the ground by the KKK in 1995, part of a string of 30 fires in black churches that spanned two years.

An investigation into the fire’s cause will begin after it is safely extinguished, chief of the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division Mark Keel told the Post and Courier. He noted that that the thunderstorm that pounded the town of 375 Tuesday evening could have ignited the church. Meteorologist Pete Mohlin of the National Weather Service told the paper there was a lot of lightning in the area around 7 p.m. but he could not say if it had caused the fire.

Parishioners across the south are surveying the damage a string of similar fires has caused this week, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports, starting in Knoxville, Tenn. on June 21 and moving to Macon, Ga and Gibson County, Tenn on June 23; Charlotte, N.C. on June 24; Elyria, Ohio on June 25; and Tallahassee, Fla. and Warrenville, S.C on June 26.

413d202e8248e164760965ca1ddb8178Three of those fires have been ruled arson, one was determined to be caused by a falling branch and faulty wiring, and the others remain under investigation. Several have been blamed preliminarily on lightning; weather in the south this week has been turbulent.

“Lightning?”

FBI Investigates Southern Church Fires 

The Rev. Nelson Rivers said Tuesday night that he worked closely with ATF while they investigated a string of arsons at black churches in the 1990s.

“My prayer is that we’re not having a repeat,” Rivers told ABC News 4. “But we’re not going to take chances and we are plotting where the churches have burned so far, reaching out to the pastors and the congregations, and also talking to the authorities in those areas to see what they think.”

A federal law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said a Friday fire at a church in Aiken County does not appear to have been intentionally set. The official had direct knowledge of the investigations but spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because the official was not authorized to discuss them publicly.

Tfdbba6534f4afe1dab9c84c7fa784bcfhe official said another fire Wednesday at a Charlotte, North Carolina, church appeared to be set by vandals, and investigators have found no graffiti or other evidence that it was racially motivated.

In Georgia, FBI Special Agent in Charge Britt Johnson said Monday that authorities are also looking into whether a June 23 fire could be a hate crime, which is common practice for fires at houses of worship.

“Opening a preliminary inquiry doesn’t suggest that a hate crime has occurred, but rather ensures that it is getting additional scrutiny for hate crime potential,” Johnson said in a statement.

6feee645c8b7de2354c807def2c12eb7Another fire was reported at the College Hill Seventh Day Adventist church in Knoxville,Tennessee, a predominantly black congregation. Knoxville Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk had said previously that the fire was not being investigated as a hate crime. Authorities have said bales of hay outside the church were set on fire, and a church van was damaged in the blaze.

Federal investigators are tracking the Knoxville blaze and several others in an arson database to determine whether there are any trends or similarities, but none of the fires appear to be related, said Michael Knight, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Tennessee.

In Elyria, Ohio, arson has been ruled out in the burning of the College Heights Baptist Church, fire Chief Richard Benton told The Chronicle Telegram newspaper.

98b6042b0a1d32264e7f569aefbcc382Okay, when “vandals” are burning down black churches in the South, after the murders of 9 black people, inside a Southern black church…when the confederate flag is under threat of being banned…to say that there is no evidence of racial motivation. Or…that lightning is the cause of eight black churches burning down?  Come on…seriously.

More links on this story:

Mt. Zion AME church burns in South Carolina

Rash of fires at African-American churches continues: Blaze at South Carolina church

Feds notified of fire at African-American church in South..

BREAKING: African American Church In South Carolina, Previously Burned Down By The KKK, Is On Fire | ThinkProgress

Just a few more links on white supremacist.

a319b13562f8901d35401ee1500d5745White supremacists want a race war. They must not fight America’s wars | Matt Kennard | Comment is free | The Guardian

After the horrific massacre at Charleston’s historic black church, Americans are slowly realizing the threat posed by white supremacist and neo-Nazimovements. But few know that their presence has grown within one of the most powerful institutions in America: the US military.

According to the FBI, there are hundreds of white supremacists in the US army or in the veteran community. Some analysts even estimate the number is in the thousands. In America, 203 white supremacist “extremist cases” investigated by the Bureau from 2001 to 2008 involved veterans. The problem hasn’t gone away. Neo-Nazi veteran Wade Michael Page attacked six worshippers at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in 2012.

f5abd9516a7b695d8be8d05a35bf5dcdI spent a number of years investigating how neo-Nazis and white supremacists had infiltrated the US military, with very little push back from the Pentagon, which was desperate to keep the supply of troops flowing for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

As part of my research, I spoke to veterans who had become white supremacists before service and joined to gain access to weapons and training, as well as veterans who had been radicalized after returning from the war.

Charles Wilson, spokesman for the National Socialist Movement, one of the top neo-Nazi groups in America, was frank about his attempts to populate the US armed forces with extremists: 76779a38c3c8eb34fc32c9ce0520e9b0“We do encourage [our members] to sign up for the military. We can use the training to secure the resistance to our government. Every one of them takes a pact of secrecy … Our military doesn’t agree with our political beliefs, they are not supposed to be in the military, but they’re there, in ever greater numbers.” He claimed to have 190 members serving.

Read the rest at the link, it is fucking scary.

And then think about how many former military are in the police force…

Map: The United States of Confederate-flag shopping – The Washington Post

This map by Jody Sieradzki of Dadaviz shows which flag people in different states searched more on Google Shopping between January 2008 and June 2015: the U.S. flag or the Confederate flag. The states in black — most of them — shopped more for the American flag. The states in red — Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Illinois and Texas — searched more often for the Confederate flag.

Hmmmmm, notice that one state there in the middle, near the one of the Great Lakes?

Illinois?

Yes? Yeah….and what would be in Illinois that would make confederate flags so fucking popular?

Illinois Nazis.

This next link is a couple of days old, but: KKK plans SC Statehouse rally, says Dylann Roof ‘was heading in the right direction’

3f1566f9577e3cbf8b2eea495ca792b1North Carolina-based Ku Klux Klan group announced plans to hold a rally in front of the South Carolina Statehouse on July 18, the Charleston Post and Courierreported on Monday.

State officials confirmed that the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which calls itself the “largest Klan in America,” filed a permit saying they expected between 100 and 200 people to attend the event on the north side of the building, where the Confederate battle flag is currently being flown. If the permit is approved, the event would be held between 3 and 5 p.m. on July 18.

The South Carolina Budget and Control Board approved the application Monday, and spokesman Brian Gaines explained that space to demonstrate was provided at the site when not already reserved.

“This is our state, and they are not welcome,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement. Haley called for the flag to be removed from outside the building in the wake of the terrorist attack committed by 21-year-old Dylann Roof earlier this month. Lawmakers will discuss removing the flag on July 6.

ecca12bb9a91947f629be051a3b5e172While Roof faces nine counts of murder in connection with the attack, the group’s leader, Robert Jones, expressed support for him.

“He was heading in the right direction; wrong target,” Jones told the Post and Courier.“He should have actually aimed at the African-American gang-bangers, the ones who are selling the drugs to white youth, the ones who are robbing and raping every chance they get.”

You can see more about how the history books are mistreating the KKK and Confederacy at the link…if you like.

9d3fdba07590d2443cebf0328ca45633About this rally in South Carolina: South Carolina approves KKK’s pro-Confederate flag rally at capitol | New York Post

But according to the newspaper, the South Carolina Budget and Control Board approved an application filed by the “Loyal White Knights” chapter of the Ku Klux Klan for a July 18 rally in favor of the flag.

Budget and Control Board spokesman Brian Gaines told the newspaper that space to demonstrate was provided at the site when not already reserved.

Ugh.

And this…which has nothing to do with white supremacist. It does deal with Jeezus freaks, but how one preacher is reacting in a positive way: Read what this Christian pastor promises to do if his children are gay | Gay Star News

It is a long open letter, just go and take a look. It is no way a blanket acceptance of all religious actions, but it is a good response, one that illustrates how the mass christian right should act.

The rest of the links in dump format:

Boy had been on park swing two days when he was found dead, officials say – The Washington Post

That is a sad situation, and it looks like it will only get worse as the story develops.

Woman gives birth, fights off bees, starts wildfire in Northern California – LA Times

A woman fought off bees, started a fire and survived on apples — all after giving birth in a lonely stretch of Northern California forest, she told a Bay Area TV station.

The woman, Amber Pangborn, 35, of Oroville, made a hasty decision to take an unfamiliar shortcut while driving to her parents’ house after going into labor Thursday.

Instead, she got lost.

“I thought we were going to die,” she told KCRA-TV. “And there was no cell service, there was no … there was nothing.”

But Pangborn’s baby wouldn’t wait and she had no choice but to give birth alone. She named her daughter Marisa.

I think it is ironic that the woman’s name is Pangborn…which is the Norse/Celtic term for labor pains…in childbirth.

This will probably be big news today: Greece, Missing I.M.F. Payment, Is Called Effectively in Default – The New York Times

Along with this: The U.S. roars into World Cup final with fierce win over Germany | For The Win

And if you want proof of PLUBs Pro-Life-Until-Birth…especially for those GOP ultra conservatives in the South:

Addicting Info – One Simple Infographic Shows How Bloodthirsty The ‘Pro-Life’ South Really Is

state by state executions death penalty texas

 

 

This next story is amazing news, and at the same time…puts things in perspective:

c72a7501098a3990a6ba02e4cb9c7ea9Cuba Is The First Country To Eliminate Mother-Baby HIV And Syphilis Transmission

 

The World Health Organization on Tuesday declared Cuba the first country in the world to eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child.

The WHO said in a statement that an international delegation that it and the Pan American Health Organization sent to Cuba in March determined the country met the criteria for the designation. In 2013, only two children in Cuba were born with HIV and five with syphilis, the statement said.

“Cuba’s success demonstrates that universal access and universal health coverage are feasible and indeed are the key to success, even against challenges as daunting as HIV,” PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said in the statement.

Also, U.S. and Cuba agree to open embassies and restore diplomatic relations – LA Times

In other news: U.S. now home to more Spanish speakers than Spain: study – NY Daily News

Shit that should scare the hell out of the GOP.

Last few links for you:

58331bd183f2c64adacc94b5957f8f15An interesting read: The Moment I Knew I Had To Break Up With My Best Friend especially with all the back and forth and disagreements on Facebook…over gay marriage rights.

And last Sunday I posted a link to a story about Misty Copeland, the first African American lead in Swan Lake in ABT history…well, check it out:

Misty Copeland Promotion Part of A New Era at American Ballet Theatre – WSJ

Misty Copeland made history Tuesday, becoming the first African-American woman to reach the top rank of principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre.

Her promotion, announced by Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie, marks a significant milestone for diversity in ballet.

“So many young dancers of color stop dancing at an early age because they don’t think there will be a path for them,” Ms. Copeland said at a news conference following the announcement. “I hope this will change that.”

She had said this was a dream for her…to become a principal dancer.

Misty Copeland leaps past racial barrier in U.S. ballet | Reuters

Copeland, the author of a best-selling memoir, “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina” and the subject of a documentary film, “A Ballerina’s Tale,” has been a supporter of diversity in ballet. She had also been open about her goal to be lead dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT).

“My dream has been ABT since I was 13,” she said fighting back tears. “I’m excited to continue to grow as an artist and hopefully see more brown dancers come into the company in my lifetime.”

Copeland has already been credited for being an inspiration for younger dancers and for bringing in more diverse audiences to ballet. In her best-selling memoir, she recounted how weird it was for minorities just to buy tickets to the ballet.

Copeland has also appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Earlier this year she took on the lead role in the American Ballet Theatre production of “Swan Lake.”

“It’s been a long journey but it is just the beginning,” she added.

Misty Copeland Is Promoted to Principal Dancer at American Ballet Theater – The New York Times

Misty Copeland was fast becoming the most famous ballerina in the United States — making the cover of Time magazine, being profiled by “60 Minutes,” growing into a social media sensation and dancing ballet’s biggest roles on some of its grandest stages. But another role eluded her: She was still not a principal dancer.

Until Tuesday, when Ms. Copeland became the first African-American woman to be named a principal in the 75-year history of American Ballet Theater.

[…]

“I had moments of doubting myself, and wanting to quit, because I didn’t know that there would be a future for an African-American woman to make it to this level,” Ms. Copeland said at a news conference at the Metropolitan Opera House on Tuesday afternoon. “At the same time, it made me so hungry to push through, to carry the next generation. So it’s not me up here — and I’m constantly saying that — it’s everyone that came before me that got me to this position.”

da2111baf115692d55262ffae5ec9cb7Fittingly, the moment of her promotion was captured on video andshared on Instagram. “Misty, take a bow,” Kevin McKenzie, Ballet Theater’s artistic director, could be seen saying, before colleagues congratulated Ms. Copeland, who seemed to be fighting back tears. Her promotion was lauded on social media by, among others, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Prince, who had featured her in a video.

Over the past year, whenever Ms. Copeland, 32, danced leading roles with Ballet Theater, her performances became events, drawing large, diverse, enthusiastic crowds to cheer her on at the Metropolitan Opera House, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. After she starred in “Swan Lake” with Ballet Theater last week — becoming the first African-American to do so with the company at the Met — the crowd of autograph-seekers was so large that it had to be moved away from the cramped area outside the stage door.

Read more at the links, there are videos too…she is an amazing artist…and now Principal Dancer of ABT! I think it is about damn time!

Have a great Wednesday, and share your thoughts with us. What are you finding interesting today?


Lazy Saturday Reads: D-Day Edition

Allied ships, boats and barrage balloons off Omaha Beach after the successful D-Day invasion, near Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France on June 9, 1944.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Allied ships, boats and barrage balloons off Omaha Beach after the successful D-Day invasion, near Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France on June 9, 1944. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

 

Good Morning!!

Today is the 71st anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. I found some stunning original color photos at The Denver Post, and I thought I’d share a few of them here. Go to the link to see the entire collection. I’ve also gathered some interesting articles on the “longest day” along with remembrances from survivors.

From The Charlotte Observer: D-Day: Only the beginning – with the end nowhere in sight, by David Perlmutt.

With Saturday comes another anniversary of D-Day as the light continues to dim on the generation that fought it.

Seventy-one years have passed since Carolinians such as Andy Andrews of Black Mountain and Walter Dickens of Monroe got their first taste of combat when they rushed ashore at Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944, the pivotal day historians tag as the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.

It was more of a beginning than an end. Long after D-Day’s first anniversary, the bullets would continue to fly in the Pacific theater and other parts of the world.

A year ago, I wrote a series of stories to honor the 70th anniversary of D-Day through the eyes – and distant memories – of Andrews, Dickens and others like paratroopers Harold Eatmon of Mint Hill and E.B. Wallace of Waxhaw. The fighting took another 11 months and horrific losses during battles in countries such as France, Holland, Belgium and ultimately Germany before the Germans surrendered.

Planes from the 344th Bomb Group, which led the IX Bomber Command formations on D-Day on June 6, 2014. Operations started in March 1944 with attacks on targets in German-occupied France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. After the beginning of the Normandy invasion, the Group was active at Cotentin Peninsula, Caen, Saint-Lo and the Falaise Gap.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Planes from the 344th Bomb Group, which led the IX Bomber Command formations on D-Day on June 6, 2014. Operations started in March 1944 with attacks on targets in German-occupied France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. After the beginning of the Normandy invasion, the Group was active at Cotentin Peninsula, Caen, Saint-Lo and the Falaise Gap. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Fighting continued in the Pacific, where my Dad was stationed, for a long time after June 6, 1944. He was on a ship traveling to Japan when the U.S. dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He said they celebrated–not knowing the horror the bombs would unleash–they were saved. My Dad might not have come home if those bombs hadn’t been dropped.

A year after D-Day, thousands of U.S. Marine and Army troops were still two weeks away from capturing Okinawa, the last in a hopscotch of islands that Allied forces needed for a plan to force Japan’s unconditional surrender. Offshore, U.S. Navy ships absorbed daily attacks by Japanese kamikaze (suicide) planes as their guns pounded hills above the landing beaches. Army Air Forces planes bombed targets inland to soften the Japanese defense.

As they fought to take control of Okinawa, hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers, Marines and sailors prepared to take part in what would have been history’s greatest battle – Operation Olympic, code-named Downfall, the invasion of the Japanese homeland.

They knew the fighting would be fierce.

Much more at the link. It’s a very good piece.

British Navy Landing Crafts (LCA-1377) carry United States Army Rangers to a ship near Weymouth in Southern England on June 1, 1944. British soldiers can be seen in the conning station. For safety measures, U.S. Rangers remained consigned on board English ships for five days prior to the invasion of Normandy, France.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

British Navy Landing Crafts (LCA-1377) carry United States Army Rangers to a ship near Weymouth in Southern England on June 1, 1944. British soldiers can be seen in the conning station. For safety measures, U.S. Rangers remained consigned on board English ships for five days prior to the invasion of Normandy, France. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

 

CNN: He got to witness ‘The Longest Day,’ by Val Lauder.

Cornelius Ryan was a 24-year-old war correspondent when he had a chance to see a defining moment in the defining event of the 20th century — the Allied landings on the coast of France to retake France and bring down Hitler.

Ryan at first witnessed the invasion from a bomber that flew over the beaches. Then, back in England, he scrambled to find the only thing he could that was going to Normandy. A torpedo boat that, he learned too late, had no radio. “And if there’s one thing that an editor is not interested in,” he said, “it’s having a reporter somewhere he can’t write a story.”

Recalling those five hours off the coast, watching the struggle on the beaches, he remembered “the magnitude of the thing, the vastness. I felt so inadequate to describe it.”

But today, as the 71st anniversary of D-Day approaches on June 6, Ryan is most likely to be remembered for being the one who did describe it, who told so many millions the real story of what happened that day, in his book which became the famous movie, “The Longest Day.”

Lauder was a young woman headed to journalism school at Northwestern when the invasion took place.

In September 1962, I interviewed Cornelius Ryan before the New York premiere of the film. Ryan had become the authority on the events of June 6, 1944, following publication of his book. And as he himself noted, in the 10 years it took him to research and write the book, he became “a veritable depository of D-Day memorabilia.”

He shared some of what he’d learned as we talked in the study of his home in Ridgefield, Connecticut, that Sunday afternoon.

Read her remembrances at the CNN link.

The 1st Infantry Division of the United States Army (The 'Big Red One') in Dorset, United Kingdom on June 5, 1944 before departing for Omaha Beach.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

The 1st Infantry Division of the United States Army (The ‘Big Red One’) in Dorset, United Kingdom on June 5, 1944 before departing for Omaha Beach. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

The Christian Science Monitor: D-Day June 6, 1944: How did Hitler react?

Considering the pivotal nature of June 6, 1944, how did Hitler react to the attack? Did he rant, did he rail? Did he move with focused calm to try and repel the invaders? [….]

In the early days of June Germany’s Fuhrer was at The Berghof, his residence in the Bavarian Alps. Everyone there knew an invasion was likely in the near future, but the atmosphere was not nervous, according to contemporary accounts. To the contrary it was relaxed, and in the evening, almost festive. A group of guests and military aides would gather at the complex’s Tea House and Hitler would hold forth on favorite topics, such as the great men of history, or Europe’s future.

On the evening of June 5, Hitler and his entourage watched the latest newsreels, and then talked about films and theater. They stayed up until 2 a.m., trading reminiscences. It was almost like the “good old times,” remembered key Hitler associate Joseph Goebbels.

When Goebbels left for his own quarters, a thunderstorm broke, writes British historian Ian Kershaw. German military intelligence was already picking up indications of an oncoming Allied force, and perhaps landing troops, in the Normandy region. But Hitler wasn’t told. The Fuhrer retired around 3 a.m.

German headquarters confirmed that some sort of widespread attack was in progress shortly thereafter. At sunrise, around 6 a.m., the defenders knew: Allied ships and planes were massed off the French beaches in astounding strength, and men were beginning to come ashore. It was a sight many would never forget.

But the German reaction was slow and befuddled. Was this the real thing, the main invasion? Or was it a feint, with the real force to land elsewhere, probably Calais?

Read more at the link.

A U.S. Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) filled with invasion troops approaches the French coast from the sea in June of 1944. The GIs wear life vests in preparation for the landing.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

A U.S. Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) filled with invasion troops approaches the French coast from the sea in June of 1944. The GIs wear life vests in preparation for the landing. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

 

More D-Day stories:

The Daily Mail, D-Day heroes’ courage remembered.

AP via The Miami Herald, Vets, visitors return to Normandy to mark D-Day anniversary.

Constitution Daily, Ten fascinating facts on the 71st anniversary of D-Day.

The Daily Beast, The Stacks: A D-Day Vet Shows Normandy to His Son.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Veterans of D-Day mark 71st anniversary: 4 will be honored today at Heinz History Center.

The Nation on what was happening in Congress on D-Day–a bunch of nonsense, just like today. June 6, 1944: D-Day Invasion of France.

Heavy, D-Day Invasion: Top 10 Best Quotes & Sayings.

grim sleeper

A Recommendation

Before I get to the rest of the news, I want to highly recommend an HBO documentary I watched a few days ago called Tales of the Grim Sleeper. It’s the story of how serial killer Lonnie Franklin, Jr. murdered as many as 100 African-American women in South Central LA over more than 20 years while the LAPD ignored what was happening.

 

This isn’t the story of a serial killer–it’s about police attitudes toward the poor and people of color; and it fits right in with recent events in places like Ferguson, Cleveland, Staten Island, and Baltimore and with the Black Lives Matter movement.

This story could have happened in a poor neighborhood in any major American city. In fact, there was a similar case in Cleveland where Anthony Sowell murdered poor black women for years without getting caught because the crimes weren’t taken seriously.

If you have HBO or can get access to it, please watch this outstanding film.

articles_24

Other News, links only

News News

Brian Beutler at The New Republic, Hillary Clinton’s Grand Strategy to Beat the GOP: Take Bold Positions Early and Often.

Politico, 2016 field descends on Iowa for Joni Ernst shindig.

New York Times, Beau Biden Funeral Draws Many Mourners, Including Obama.

LA Times, LAPD finds officers were justified in fatal shooting of mentally ill man, sources say.

Politico, Anti-war activist confronts Sen. Tom Cotton.

Paul Krugman, Lone Star Stumble.

Voice of America, Death Toll Jumps to Nearly 400 in China Ship Sinking.

BBC News, President Vladimir Putin tells West not to fear Russia

Sexual Molestation News

AP, via AOL, Sister: Brother had sexual relationship with Hastert.

NBC News, Dennis Hastert Case: Abuse Group Wants Congressional Portrait Removed.

Huffington Post, Dennis Hastert Hid His Skeletons As He Helped Push GOP’s Anti-Gay Agenda.

Fox News, Jessa: Josh Duggar was ‘in puberty and a little too curious about girls.’

ABC News, Duggars Put Locks on Doors as a Safeguard Following Alleged Molestation.

Is a crime still “alleged” after the perpetrator and his parents acknowledge that he did it? Just asking.

Time, Josh Duggar’s Sister on Molestation: ‘It Wasn’t Like a Horror Story.’

Yibada, Josh Duggar’s Sister Jill Dillard: My Parents Did Such An Amazing Job.

Gawker, The Truth About Josh Duggar’s Sham Cult-Center “Counseling.”

What else is happening? As always, treat this as an open thread. 


Thursday Reads: Strange Sounds in the Sky, the Fall of Ramadi, and Other News

woman-reading

Good Morning!!

How could I have slept until 10AM? I can’t believe it. I’ve been waking up really early ever since the time change, which was ages ago. This will be a quickie post, because I have to get ready to go somewhere this afternoon.

Before I get to the latest political news, I wanted to share this weird story I came across a few days ago in The Daily Mail. Please let me know if you think it’s for real or some kind of bizarre mass hypnosis.

What IS this strange sound from the sky? Noise heard across the globe for nearly a DECADE – but nobody has an explanation.

A mysterious noise from the sky is continuing to baffle people all over the world – as well as giving those who hear it sleepless nights.

Sounding like a trumpet or a collective from a brass section of an orchestra, a selection of videos shot from the Canada to Ukraine, via the U.S., Germany and Belarus show strange goings on above us.

And the eerie sounds have been continuously heard at all different times and locations for almost a decade.

The first video posted on YouTube recording the unusual, unearthly sounds, was in 2008 when a user recorded the strange sounds in the sky from Homel, in Belarus.

That same year another anonymous user shared the ‘ear-deafening’ sounds that they insisted ‘were not a hoax,’ from a quiet neighbourhood believed to be in the U.S.

Kimberly Wookey from Terrace, British Columbia in Canada first captured the alien sound in June 2013, and since then she has managed to capture several recordings of the noise with her most recent being on May 7 this year.

There are several examples of recordings of the strange sounds at the Daily Mail link. I looked on YouTube, and dozens of these recordings have been posted. Of course the end-timers are going to think these are trumpets from heaven sounding the last days. Someone in New Jersey thinks it’s a UFO.

Is this going to be another crop-circles-type mystery/hoax? Anyway, I love strange stuff like this, so I thought I’d share and see what you think.

We haven’t been talking about foreign news much lately, but things are not going well in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). I’m sure you’ve heard that ISIS has taken over the Iraqi city of Ramadi. ABC reports: Fall of Ramadi: 30 Car Bombs, 10 as Big as Oklahoma City Blast, US Official Says.

The State Department is sharing new details about the deadly fighting in Ramadi, Iraq, last Sunday, saying the city fell into ISIS hands after the militant group set off 30 suicide car bombs in the city center, 10 of which each were comparable in power to the Oklahoma City truck bomb of 1995.

The explosions took out “entire city blocks,” said a senior State Department official who spoke to reporters at the State Department Wednesday on condition that he not be named. The vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, or VBIEDs, were able to gain access to the city center after an armored bulldozer plowed through T-wall barricades lining the city’s critical government buildings, the official said, adding that the same bulldozer was later used as a power VBIED, itself.

Soon after the bombs went off, the Iraqis deployed a reinforcing column into the city center, but they were forced to retreat after coming under heavy enemy fire, the official said. That retreat led to a larger exodus of Iraqi security forces and the civilian populations, leaving the streets looking “barren,” according to this official.

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ABC also has video at the link. A little more:

The State Department and the Pentagon insist the fall of Ramadi does not closely resemble that of Mosul in 2014, when, after only a week of fighting, Islamic State forces were able to take over the entire city as ISF forces abandoned the posts, equipment and even their uniforms.

The State Department official argued that Ramadi has been fiercely contested for 18 months, as both sides controlled equal parts of the city. It wasn’t until the critical government center fell this weekend that ISIS was able to lay claim to the entire provincial capital.

But the official admitted that, in this case, the Iraqi forces did leave some U.S.-made weapons behind. The official suggested that if the enemy attempts to commandeer any of the bigger weapons, they would be killed in airstrikes.

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Washington Post columnist David Ignatius disagrees. He calls the fall of Ramadi a “tragic replay” of the “Mosul debacle.”

The capture of Ramadi last weekend by Islamic State fighters is a significant setback for U.S. strategy in Iraq and shows that, nearly a year after the extremists overran Mosul, the United States still doesn’t have a viable plan for protecting the country’s Sunni areas.

The collapse of the Iraqi army in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, was in some ways a replay of the Mosul debacle in June 2014. The Shiite-dominated Iraqi military, though trained and retrained by the United States, appeared to lack the leadership or will to fight off a relatively small but ferocious onslaught of Sunni insurgents.

The Ramadi defeat exposed the sectarian tensions that underlie this war. Among the urgent questions: Are Shiite regular army troops ready to fight and die to protect Sunnis, or will their lines collapse in Sunni areas, as happened in Mosul and now Ramadi? If the tougher Iranian-backed Shiite militias are sent instead to do the job, will the Sunni population see them as a Shiite occupation army — setting the stage for a generation of sectarian revenge killing?

Gee, do you think maybe Bush and Cheney might have made a mistake when they attacked Iraq based on questionable intelligence?

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Charles Pierce sees a replay of much tragic events in the more distant past:

The Fall Of Ramadi And The Vietnam Syndrome: In which we relive that which we ought not to have done in the first place.

It goes back to the “Bloody Shirt” campaigns in the decades after the Civil War. However, at least in those campaigns, the people waving the bloody shirt were doing so at people who actively had committed treason against the government of the United States and were attempting (with too much success) to win at the polls what they’d lost on the battlefield. More recent uses of the techniques sadly have been designed to cover the ass of bellicose mistakes, and worse, all over the world. Which means the “bloody shirt” begins to slide toward the Dolchstosslegendeof post-WWI Germany. And that never is a good thing.

In our current situation, we are seeing the beginnings of the kind of rhetoric that poisoned our politics for decades after the collapse of South Vietnam. In fact, there was a lot of that going around in 2006, when it became plain that the Iraq invasion had been sold on moonshine by a cabal of geopolitical fantasts and Dick Cheney….

The only way for the people who shook their moneymakers for the war in 2002 to justify their continued place in our politics is to use ISIL to replace the aluminum tubes and hope that enough people don’t notice what a grotesque fast shuffle this is. That will clear the way for the candidates on the Republican side — Rubio, Graham, Jeb (!), and, most recently, Chris Christie — who want to revive the old neocon hoo-rah while distancing themselves from its savage consequences. It looks very much like “Who lost Iraq?” may replace the disastrous decisions of the Avignon Presidency in this campaign, and that a good chunk of the Republican field will be perfectly happy to allow that to happen. For all the talk of the president’s fecklessness from the chickenhawk choir, what those candidates are about right now is the worst kind of cowardice.

Jesus. When will it ever end?

reading-lady-matisse-henri-fauvism-oil-on-cardboard-genre-terminartors-1372947212_org

Talking Points Memo discusses a recent survey of voter attitudes.

Study: Lawmakers Assume Voters Are Way More Conservative Than They Are.

“Pick an American state legislator at random, and chances are that he or she will have massive misperceptions about district views on big-ticket issues, typically missing the mark by 15 percentage points,” David Broockman and Christopher Skovron wrote in a study for the Scholarly Strategy Network originally published in 2013.

To investigate the question, the duo surveyed thousands of state legislators and compared their perceptions of voters to people’s actual views, derived from a large body of public opinion data.

Their conclusion: “legislators usually believe their constituents are more conservative than they actually are.”

On three issues — universal healthcare, same-sex marriage, and welfare — lawmakers’ assumptions about what their constituents believed were “15-20 percent more conservative, on average,” than the actual base of public support for such issues.

Most striking, both liberal and conservative lawmakers assume their voters are much further to the right than they actually are.

I’m not surprised, but it’s good to see intuition backed by empirical research.

Matisse-Tha-Painting-Lesson1

More news, links only:

David Wiegel at Bloomberg Politics: Rand Paul Launches His ‘Filibuster’ Against Patriot Act Renewal.

Politico: Rand Paul calls it a night after 10 1/2 hours. It’s not clear whether his speech on the PATRIOT Act had any real effect on Mitch McConnell’s plans.

Michael Schmidt at the NYT: A Closer Look at Hillary Clinton’s Emails on Benghazi. Also, First Batch of Hillary Clinton Emails Captures Concerns Over Libya.

Des Moines Register: Huckabee decides to skip Iowa Straw Poll.

Bloomberg Politics: Iowa Republicans Are Worried About Jeb Bush’s Viability.

CNN: Jeb Bush rails against ‘intellectual arrogance’ in climate change debate.

The Hill: Obama: Climate change deniers endangering national security.

The WaPo: Fox News rules will limit the field in first GOP presidential debate.

 

 


Tuesday Reads

 cat-readingGood Morning!!

Nepal has been rocked by 7.3 magnitude earthquake only a few weeks after the last one. From The LA Times:

Still reeling from last month’s devastating earthquake, Nepal was hammered again Tuesday by a magnitude 7.3 temblor that caused dozens more deaths, unleashed fresh landslides and brought down unsteady buildings.

By late afternoon, Nepal’s Home Affairs Ministry said at least 42 people were killed and more than 1,117 injured in the largest aftershock yet recorded from the 7.8 quake on April 25. Officials warned that the toll could rise.

The epicenter was about 47 miles northeast of the capital, Katmandu, near the Chinese border, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The April 25 quake, which killed more than 8,150 people, was centered in the mountains west of Katmandu.

The tremor struck just before 1 p.m. local time, sending residents of the capital scurrying into the open air for safety, and was followed by a series of smaller tremors that rattled nerves even further.

Within hours, new makeshift tents had begun popping up in parts of Katmandu as families that had survived the earlier quake and returned to their homes in recent days decided again they were safer sleeping outdoors.

The Hindu is publishing live updates from Reuters. They report multiple aftershocks. What a terrible tragedy! Obviously this is a developing story, and we’ll hear more throughout the day and in coming days.

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I missed this important investigative article from the Baltimore Sun over the weekend: Freddie Gray among many suspects who do not get medical care from Baltimore police.

Records obtained by The Baltimore Sun show that city police often disregard or are oblivious to injuries and illnesses among people they apprehend — in fact, such cases occur by the thousands.

From June 2012 through April 2015, correctional officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center have refused to admit nearly 2,600 detainees who were in police custody, according to state records obtained through a Maryland Public Information Act request.

In those records, intake officers in Central Booking noted a wide variety of injuries, including fractured bones, facial trauma and hypertension. Of the detainees denied entry, 123 had visible head injuries, the third most common medical problem cited by jail officials, records show.

The jail records redacted the names of detainees, but a Sun investigation found similar problems among Baltimore residents and others who have made allegations of police brutality.e

Salahudeen Abdul-Aziz, who was awarded $170,000 by a jury in 2011, testified that he was arrested and transported to the Western District after being beaten by police and left with a broken nose, facial fracture and other injuries. Hours later, he went to Central Booking and then to Bon Secours Hospital, according to court records.

Abdul-Aziz said last week that jailers at Central Booking “wouldn’t let me in the door as soon as they saw my face. … I thought I was gonna die that day. Freddie Gray wasn’t so lucky.”

Read the rest at the Baltimore Sun link.

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The Washington Post, which initially published leaks favorable to the Baltimore PD, published an editorial in response the the Sun article: Too much black and blue in Baltimore.

TWO OR three times a day on average, suspects in the custody of the Baltimore police are turned away by the city jail because they are deemed too battered, beaten, bruised or otherwise injured or sick to be processed and admitted. The police are forced to head instead for a hospital emergency room to seek treatment for suspects suffering from head injuries, broken bones, hypertension and an array of other afflictions.

The frequency of such occurrences was detailed over the weekend by the Baltimore Sun, which obtained records from the city’s detention center under the Maryland Public Information Act. According to those records, the jail has turned away nearly 2,600 ailing detainees since June 2012 — about 2 percent of all bookings.

That staggering figure suggests the Baltimore police are heedless, at best, of the physical welfare of suspects in their custody. It also may help explain how Freddie Gray could have pleaded for medical care at least five times after he was arrested last month before the officers who detained him bothered to summon a paramedic — by which time it was too late….

The police understand — and after 2,600 reaffirmations in three years, they should be acutely aware — that they are obliged to seek medical attention for suspects who are sick or injured before the jail will admit them. Yet somehow that obligation doesn’t seem institutionally ingrained in cops on the beat….

The Justice Department’s civil rights investigation of the city police, announced last week by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, should take account of these injured detainees, including the causes and circumstances of their injuries and whether police are adequately trained and instructed in assessing them. And it should examine whether African American suspects are more frequently hurt and denied prompt medical care than other detainees.

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Journalists are still reacting to Seymour Hersh’s poorly sourced accusations that the Obama administration conspired with Pakistan to stage a fake raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound and then lied about it. Here are two I found this morning:

Lawfare: Hersh’s Account of the Bin Laden Raid is Journalistic Malpractice, by Yishai Schwartz

When a journalist writes a tell-all story about a classified operation, and he suspects the story will catalyze anti-American anger, provide fuel for terrorist groups, and cause severe friction with foreign governments, the act of publication is morally fraught. When the story is based on obscenely thin sourcing and careens into conspiracy theories, the decision to publish becomes indefensible.

Seymour Hersh has had a long and distinguished history as one of America’s finest investigative journalists. In recent years, he has gone a bit kooky. In 2011, for instance, he suggested that Stanley McChrystal, the former top commander in Afghanistan, and the leadership of the US Joint Special Operations Forces were “all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta.” His latest story, in which he claims that the entire story of Bin Laden’s killing is an elaborate cover-up for a joint Pakistani-American operation, may be his kookiest.

As many have already pointed out, Hersh’s version offers a combination of the inconsistent and the inexplicable. Why, for instance, would the Pakistanis help plan an elaborate raid, complete with a recall of Bin Laden’s Pakistani guards—rather than just hand Bin Laden over directly—if they always intended to claim he’d been killed in a drone strike hundreds of miles away? Worse, the key contentions rely on the exclusive word of one unnamed source who was a) retired, and b) on Hersh’s own account, only “knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad.”

To be sure, there are scraps of Hersh’s hodgepodge narrative that may turn out to be true. That a CIA “walk-in” may have contributed to the intel leading to Bin Laden’s whereabouts, for instance, matches a tidbit that NBC has confirmed recently. And Hersh’s insistence that someone highly placed in the Pakistani intelligence services knew of Bin Laden’s presence has been pretty widely believed for a while. But leaping from these plausible and relatively minor details to the rest of the fantastic tale Hersh spins simply boggles the mind.

It’s unsurprising then that The New Yorker passed on the story (as it, along with the The Washington Post, have reportedly done with the last few of Hersh’s flights of fantasy.)

The London Review of Books, on the other hand, lacked the same degree of restraint. This is hardly surprising given the editorial leadership’s apparent lack of interest in fact-checking. As LRB senior editor Christian Lorentzen wrote in a 2012 piece suitably titled Short Cuts,” “the facts are the burden of the reporter…nobody at the paper fact-checks full time; that’s an American thing… I miss New York sometimes, but I don’t miss its schizophrenic obsession with facts, or the puritan hysteria that attends the discovery that a memoir should have been called a novel.” The LRB, it seems, takes pride in its sloppiness. Perhaps they have an editorial opening for Stephen Glass?

As a former fact-checker, I find the LRB’s approach part puzzling and part offensive. As a citizen who would like to form judgements and opinions on the basis of actual information, I’m horrified.

Wow! Read more at Lawfare Blog.

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Politico: Sy Hersh, Lost in a Wilderness of Mirrors, by Jack Shafer.

Hersh leads the reader into a Wonderland of his own, thinly sourced retelling of the raid on Bin Laden’s complex in Abbottabad, Pakistan. According to Hersh, who cites American sources, “bin Laden had been a prisoner of the [Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency] at the Abbottabad compound since 2006” and his ISI captors eased the way for the American SEAL team to skip into Pakistan on their helicopters, kill the al Qaeda leader, and then skip out.

It’s a messy omelet of a piece that offers little of substance for readers or journalists who may want to verify its many claims. The Hersh piece can’t be refuted because there’s not enough solid material to refute. Like the government officials who spun the original flawed Abbottabad stories, he simply wants the reader to trust him.

Hersh’s piece quarrels with almost every aspect of the official story, asserting that much of it is cover designed to protect the Pakistanis who sold bin Laden out to the United States for military aid….
Hersh may very well be onto something—what did the Pakistanis know, when did they know it, and how much did they help? And that debate appears to be starting in earnest already, with NBC News quickly building off Hersh’s article. But Hersh’s potentially valid question on that subject is almost lost in the broad sweep of rolling back so many other stories and quibbling with effectively every known detail of one of the most thoroughly leaked secret operations in history.

By re-exploring the bin Laden operation, Hersh has thrust himself into the phenomenological territories that Cold War spymaster James Jesus Angleton called a “wilderness of mirrors.” In this clandestine world, truths are constructed, obliterated and bent to serve their masters. Adversaries who would deceive abound in this place, and without a reliable map, a compass, a sense of direction and maybe even a pedometer, even the most intrepid voyager (or journalist) can find himself lost. I’ll volunteer to join a search party for Hersh—somebody I’ve long admired—if only somebody can tell me precisely where he is.

Another harsh indictment. I expect “progressive” conspiracy theorists like Glenn Greenwald and Marcy Wheeler will attempt to keep this story alive, but it doesn’t seem to be getting much traction in either the mainstream media or the sane alternative media.

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More interesting stories, links only:

At Politico, former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell recounts his Benghazi experiences: The Real Story of Benghazi. A CIA insider’s account of what happened on 9/11/12.

Pew Research Center, America’s Changing Religious Landscape. Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow.

The Atlantic, American Religion: Complicated, Not Dead, by Emma Green.

Huffington Post, GOP Crowd Applauds Calling Immigrants Rats and Roaches, by Lauren Windsor.

Reuters, Verizon to buy AOL in push for digital content.

Fox News, Authorities say at least 7 victims found in Connecticut serial killer investigation.

NY Daily News: Connecticut serial killer already jailed for 2003 murder of still-missing woman: report.

What stories are you following today? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday!


Lazy Saturday Reads

Students study for finals on "BU Beach," May 6, 2015

Students study for finals on “BU Beach,” May 6, 2015

Good Morning!!

Well, well, well. Boston University and a newly hired assistant professor of sociology are being attacked by right wing nuts who can’t handle free speech or academic freedom. And so far BU is telling them they’re just going to have to deal with it. I hope they stick to their guns, so to speak. In honor of the school administration doing the right thing, I’m illustrating this post with views of the beautiful BU campus.

Fox News is shocked! Naturally, they begin with a version of “some people say….”

Boston University prof flunks ‘white masculinity’ in controversial tweets.

Critics say a newly-hired Boston University professor has crossed the line with recent tweets bashing whites, but the school says it’s simply free speech.

“White masculinity isn’t a problem for america’s colleges, white masculinity is THE problem for america’s colleges,” Saida Grundy, an incoming assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies at Boston University, tweeted in March.

In another tweet from January, she wrote: “Every MLK week I commit myself to not spending a dime in white-owned businesses. and every year i find it nearly impossible.”

In another, she called white males a “problem population.”

“Why is white America so reluctant to identify white college males as a problem population?” she asked.

View of BU's Charles River Campus.

View of BU’s Charles River Campus.

Horrors! A black female sociologist who studies traditional masculinity had a few things to say on Twitter about white males. No one has to agree with her or even read her tweets (she has now made her account private). The KKK, the American Nazi Party, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Peggy Noonan, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, and every other right wing nut you can name have the same rights to say mean things about any groups of people they choose.

Here’s BU’s response to Fox’s request for comment:

“Professor Grundy is exercising her right to free speech and we respect her right to do so,” Boston University spokesman Colin Riley said.

Read more of Grundy’s “controversial” tweets at the Fox News link and at a Patriots fan site here. I don’t know why they’re all bent out of shape about this.

Grudy got her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, and her other credentials look pretty good to me.

So far there hasn’t been a lot of reaction to this except from right wing sites like American Thinker and American Spectator. I’ll be keeping an eye on the story and whether BU continues to defend Grundy. If they don’t I’ll be very disappointed. It’s not about agreeing with everything she said; it’s about not giving in to the predictable right wing attacks on anyone who says something they disagree with–even if it’s only on Twitter.

BU College of Arts and Sciences

BU College of Arts and Sciences

In other “diversity” news, a restaurant in Colorado is planning a “White Appreciation Day.” That should make the wingnuts happy. From MSNBC:

A Colorado barbecue joint has sparked national outrage with a racially-tinged promotion: “White Appreciation Day.”

“We have a whole month for Black History Month. We have a whole month for Hispanic heritage month,” Edgar Antillon told KUSA-TV. “So we figured all we could do – the least we can do – is offer one day to appreciate white Americans.”

Antillon told the NBC News affiliate that Rubbin’ Buttz, the restaurant he co-owns in Milliken, Colorado, would observe its “White Appreciation Day” on June 11. On this day, all white customers will receive a 10% discount.

It’s worth noting that Antillon is a first-generation American born to Mexican parents, and he acknowledged to KUSA-TV that he has personally experienced racism in his past.

“We’re all American, plain and simple,” he said to the NBC News affiliate.

Apparently the whole thing started as a joke, and then Antillon decided to actually do it. Who cares? It’s dumb and pointless, unless the goal is just to get national publicity. Why not just ignore it? According to The Root, non-white people could end up suing the restaurant for discrimination. The outrage industry in this country is completely out of control.

6/7/10 1:07:44 PM -- Boston, Massachusetts Campus Scenics of Kemore Square, Boston Skyline, BU Banners and Commonwealth Ave Photo by Vernon Doucette for Boston University

6/7/10 1:07:44 PM — Boston, Massachusetts
Campus Scenics of Kemore Square, Boston Skyline, BU Banners and Commonwealth Ave
Photo by Vernon Doucette for Boston University

Now for a little actual news.

The Illinois Supreme Court has struck down an effort by the state to cut public employee pensions. The Chicago Tribune reports:

The Illinois Supreme Court on Friday unanimously ruled unconstitutional a landmark state pension law that aimed to scale back government worker benefits to erase a massive $105 billion retirement system debt, sending lawmakers and the new governor back to the negotiating table to try to solve the pressing financial issue.

The ruling also reverberated at City Hall, imperiling a similar law Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed through to shore up two of the four city worker retirement funds and making it more difficult for him to find fixes for police, fire and teacher pension funds that are short billions of dollars.

At issue was a December 2013 state law signed by then-Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn that stopped automatic, compounded yearly cost-of-living increases for retirees, extended retirement ages for current state workers and limited the amount of salary used to calculate pension benefits.

Employee unions sued, arguing that the state constitution holds that pension benefits amount to a contractual agreement and once they’re bestowed, they cannot be “diminished or impaired.” A circuit court judge in Springfield agreed with that assessment in November. State government appealed that decision to the Illinois Supreme Court, arguing that economic necessity forced curbing retirement benefits.

Marsh Chapel at center of Charles River campus

Marsh Chapel at center of Charles River campus

The court disagreed with the state, and really slapped down the Illinois legislature in their decision.

“Our economy is and has always been subject to fluctuations, sometimes very extreme fluctuations,” Republican Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote on behalf of all seven justices. “The law was clear that the promised benefits would therefore have to be paid and that the responsibility for providing the state’s share of the necessary funding fell squarely on the legislature’s shoulders.

“The General Assembly may find itself in crisis, but it is a crisis which other public pension systems managed to avoid and … it is a crisis for which the General Assembly itself is largely responsible,” Karmeier wrote.

“It is our obligation, however, just as it is theirs, to ensure that the law is followed. That is true at all times. It is especially important in times of crisis when, as this case demonstrates, even clear principles and long-standing precedent are threatened. Crisis is not an excuse to abandon the rule of law. It is a summons to defend it,” he wrote.

Nice win for workers for a change.

Shot of BU buildings on Commonwealth Avenue

Shot of BU buildings on Commonwealth Avenue

Also from the Trib, Chicago teachers are standing up for their rights too: Chicago Teachers Union files labor complaint against school board.

The Chicago Teachers Union has filed an unfair labor practice complaint accusing the city’s school board of bad-faith bargaining and refusing to engage in mediation toward a new contract.

Union officials said little progress has been made over eight formal bargaining sessions and numerous informal meetings since November. The complaint filed Wednesday with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board follows the union’s rejection earlier this week of the board’s proposal that teachers take on a greater share of pension payments….

As she did in the months before the 2012 teachers strike, CTU President Karen Lewis sought to make Mayor Rahm Emanuel the focus of the union’s displeasure with talks to replace a contract that expires June 30. The union again accused the city of using the talks to get back at the CTU for its support of Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in the mayoral election.

“We feel this is reactionary and retaliatory,” Lewis said at a news conference Wednesday. “I guess the fuzzy sweater’s gone,” she said, referring to Emanuel’s wearing a sweater in campaign commercials to indicate a softer personality.

The district, which says it is wrestling with a $1.1 billion deficit weighted with pension payments, wants to save millions of dollars by having teachers pay more into their pension fund. The district wants to end a long-standing agreement that limits teacher paycheck deductions for pensions, the union said.

I have a solution for Chicago’s and for the state of Illinois’s budget problems. Tax the rich. Blaming teachers and government workers isn’t going to solve your money problems. It’s just going to make everything worse. Tax the people who can afford to give something back to the government that constantly favors them.

View of Marsh Chapel with Charles River in foreground

View of Marsh Chapel with Charles River in foreground

We haven’t discussed it here yet, but there was a big election in Great Britain with surprising results.

From The Washington Post after the scope of the conservative victory became clear: British election results point to commanding lead for Conservatives.

Exit polls and partial results after a nationwide vote to pick Britain’s next Parliament showed the Conservative Party with a surprisingly commanding lead Friday, just short of a majority and in a strong position to return to power.

The projections defied virtually all pre-election polls, which forecast a virtual tie between the Tories and the opposition ­Labor Party in the popular vote. Both main parties had been expected to fall well short of the majority needed to claim power outright.

But as the counting continued into dawn Friday, all signs pointed to an emphatic margin in favor of the Conservatives and their leader, Prime Minister ­David Cameron, and to a major disappointment for ­Labor as well as the Liberal Democrats, who paid a steep price for having entered into a coalition with the Conservatives for the past five years.

At dawn Friday, Labor leader Ed Miliband delivered what amounted to a concession speech, saying it had been “a very disappointing and difficult night” for his party.

Meanwhile, in the election’s other stunning development, though one that had been predicted, the Scottish National Party (SNP) was redrawing the map of Scotland with what looked like a historic rout in what has long been one of Labor’s most reliable strongholds.

Another aerial view

Another aerial view

The results in Scotland could have long-term significance for the “United Kingdom.” if the trend toward Scottish independence continues.

From the WaPo again: In U.K. election’s wake, questions on E.U., Scotland.

Newly empowered British Prime Minister David Cameron moved swiftly to establish the terms and priorities for his new government on Friday after a stunning national election that delivered his Conservative Party an unexpected majority, devastated three other parties and redrew the political map of Scotland.

Following predictions that the post-election maneuvering to form a government might take days if not weeks, the Conservative Party’s big victory produced a quick end to speculation about what or who would be in charge.

But if the election produced an unexpectedly clear outcome, it may only have heightened the degree to which the country faces a period of internal debate, ­inward-looking politics and potential instability, with questions about the durability of the United Kingdom and its place in both Europe and the world still to be answered.

Cameron will have to find a way to manage resurgent Scottish nationalists who are demanding more powers and possibly another referendum on independence. Further, his pledge to hold a referendum to determine Britain’s future in the European Union will continue to raise uncertainty about the country’s commitments and reliability there.

From BBC News: World media fear UK EU exit, looser US ties.

A day after the surprise result in the UK elections, world media outlets have been taking a look at the ramifications.

European papers are concerned about the effect on the EU in the light of Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise to hold a referendum on leaving. And there is speculation that the Scottish nationalists’ spectacular gains may herald the break-up of the United Kingdom.

A US daily fears the result may be the harbinger of the end of the US-UK “special relationship”, but one Spanish daily is enthralled by a photo of Mr Cameron using cutlery to eat a hot dog.

See examples of media reactions at the link. International Business Times also collected world media reactions, and the stats freaks at FiveThirtyEight had to do some serious soul-searching about why they were completely wrong.

So . . . . what else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and have a great spring weekend!!


Sunday Reads: Nepal Earthquake Relief and more…Death Toll Over 2400

Residents cry as they walk past damaged houses to safer areas, after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, in Gyirong county of Xigaze Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, China, April 25, 2015. Rescuers dug with their bare hands and bodies piled up in Nepal on Sunday after an earthquake devastated the heavily crowded Kathmandu valley, killing at least 1,900, and triggered a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest. In Tibet, the death toll climbed to 17, according to a tweet from China's state news agency, Xinhua. Picture taken April 25, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Residents cry as they walk past damaged houses to safer areas, after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, in Gyirong county of Xigaze Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, China, April 25, 2015. Rescuers dug with their bare hands and bodies piled up in Nepal on Sunday after an earthquake devastated the heavily crowded Kathmandu valley, killing at least 1,900*, and triggered a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest. In Tibet, the death toll climbed to 17, according to a tweet from China’s state news agency, Xinhua. Picture taken April 25, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Good Afternoon

*As of the posting of this thread the death toll is at over 2400.

Toll Mounts as Nepal Searches for Quake Survivors | Al Jazeera America

More than 2,400 people confirmed dead in 7.8-magnitude earthquake that has devastated the Himalayan nation

 

I am going to give you links on this post updating you on the Nepal Earthquake, I will do a later post with other stories because I think the efforts in Nepal deserve our singular attention.

Starting with relief programs:

How to Help the Relief Effort in Nepal – NYTimes.com

In the aftermath of the earthquake, aid workers were already on the ground on Saturday providing much-needed relief to the survivors.

Here is a list of some of the groups soliciting donations to support their efforts in Nepal:

Oxfam
Oxfam is an international coalition of charities dedicated to fighting poverty. Aid workers from the group are on the ground, preparing to hand out food and water. @Oxfam on Twitter.

World Vision
“We are initiating a response to meet basic, urgent needs with temporary shelter, food, water, emergency health interventions, and other vital aid.”
@WorldVision on Twitter.

Red Cross
Volunteers from the Nepal arm of the Red Cross are helping in the search for survivors. @ICRC on Twitter.

United Nations World Food Programme
The United Nations agency is providing food and other aid to survivors.
@WFP on Twitter.

Samaritan’s Purse
Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian organization providing food, water, shelter, medicine, and other assistance to earthquake survivors. @SamaritansPurse on Twitter.

CARE
CARE is asking for donations for critical relief. The group said its humanitarian workers were currently on the ground assessing the situation in Nepal and determining the most immediate needs. @CARE on Twitter.

Save the Children
Donations to Save the Children, an organization with extensive reach in Nepal, will go toward efforts to provide protection for children and relief to their families.
@SC_Nepal on Twitter.

HuffPo has an article here: Aid Agencies Rally To Help Victims Of Nepal’s Earthquake

From The Independent: Nepal earthquake: How you can help victims of the Kathmandu disaster – World – News – The Independent

And a suggestion from a reader reelcarina: Sad Coincidence: Tragedy in Nepal on Richter Scale Day | stepabout

Accordingly, Nepal’s government has declared a state of emergency, asking the international community for help. We ARE the international community! So how can we help? Of course, I can’t just sit here on my sunny balcony in the ‘happiest country in the world’ (Switzerland was recently found to be that by UNO) and simply do nothing. However, I can’t drive out to the airport, catch the next plane to Kathmandu and help the population there myself. So, the possibility that remains is donating. I’m a student, so I don’t really have many financial means, but to those affected people in Nepal, even 40 or 50 Swiss Francs will be of great help! If you, dear readers, donate as well, it’s gonna be even better! As for today, my blog’s got 43 followers (Thank you so much for that, by the way!). If every one of you donates 25 Francs/Euros or whatever other currency, we’ll have contributed over 1000 Euros already! Now imagine, if other bloggers join in, our lovely internet community will unravel its full strength and  actually make a difference in Nepal :-)

Pooling money together does add up…

Now here are some links to catch you up:

*This link gives some numbers: Foreign Governments Tally Citizens in Nepal

April 26, 2015 10:16 AM

The 7.9 magnitude quake struck at midday at a busy time of year for the tourism-reliant country’s trekking and climbing season, with an estimated 300,000 foreign tourists in the country, several hundred of those on Mount Everest.

Countries are listed in alphabetical order.

Austria: Foreign ministry says around 250 Austrians in Nepal, no reports so far on any casualties.

Bangladesh: Foreign ministry says no nationals in Nepal have been reported injured or killed. But four reported killed inside Bangladesh.

Britain: No details released yet.

Belgium: Foreign ministry says not aware of any victims.

China: Xinhua news agency, quoting the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, reports four people confirmed dead and 10 seriously injured.

France: Foreign ministry says around 500 French nationals have been located and are safe, and has no information on any victims.

Germany: No details released yet.

India: Nearly 800 Indians have been evacuated from Nepal with more on the way home, according to the Ministry of External Affairs. No Indian casualties yet reported in Nepal, but 49 reported killed in India.

Indonesia: Foreign ministry says has 34 nationals in Nepal. Eighteen are living in Nepal and 16 are visiting. Says still trying to contact 18 of those nationals.

Israel: Foreign ministry says it estimates around 600 Israelis are in Nepal, and has secured contact with 400, most of them sheltering at the embassy in Kathmandu. These include 25 couples in Nepal to bring home babies born to surrogates.

Italy: No details released yet.

Japan: Foreign ministry says has no reports of Japanese killed or injured in the quake, but is still checking whereabouts of citizens. Some 1,100 Japanese living in Nepal are registered with the embassy, but no information on number of nationals travelling through.

Latvia: Local news agencies report around 41 people from Latvia in Nepal at the moment. Four are missing.

Lithuania: Foreign ministry says 25 Lithuanian nationals registered in Nepal are safe, but does not know yet of any unregistered travellers.

Malaysia: Foreign ministry says all citizens in Nepal are accounted for and safe. A team of Malaysian Everest climbers are safe at base camp.

Philippines: Two Filipino climbers are reported safe.

Poland: No news on any Poles affected.

Romania: Nineteen Romanians in Nepal, including mountaineer Alex Gavan and three others, all reported to be safe.

Russia: Tass news agency, citing emergencies ministry, says no casualties among Russians.

Sweden: Foreign ministry is aware of around 40 Swedes in Nepal but has no information about dead, hurt or missing nationals.

South Korea: Foreign ministry says three nationals injured in the earthquake. It estimates 650 residents and as many as 1,000 travelers were in Nepal at the time.

Nepal hospitals overflowing, rural towns cut off, aid groups say – The Times of India

HONG KONG: Aid groups and governments worldwide intensified efforts Sunday to help earthquake-hit Nepal, but blocked roads, downed power lines and overcrowded hospitals posed formidable challenges in an already poor country.

As the death toll in the Himalayan nation surpassed 2,300, the US together with European and Asian nations sent emergency crews to reinforce those scrambling to find survivors in the devastated capital Kathmandu and in cut-off rural areas.

“Tragically, more bodies are being pulled from collapsed buildings every hour,” the Australian Red Cross said in a statement.

“Communication is down in many areas. Widespread destruction, rubble and landslides are preventing access to provide aid in many villages.”

6.6 million people affected in Nepal quake: UN – bdnews24.com

Magnitude 6.7 quake aftershock hits Nepal and India | eNCA

Extent of the Damage From the Nepal Earthquake – NYTimes.com

The earthquake’s epicenter was not far from the capital, Katmandu. The United States Geological Survey had counted 12 aftershocks by midafternoon, one of which measured at a magnitude of 6.6. Deaths were reported as far away as northern India and on Mount Everest. | Related Article »

The Guardian has excellent live updates and coverage:

Nepal earthquake: rescue continues as death toll exceeds 2,000 – live updates | World news | The Guardian

Nepal earthquake: more than 200 Australians confirmed safe | World news | The Guardian

Nepal earthquake: Rescue effort intensifies – BBC News

US, Canada, Russia to assist in rescue | Top Stories

KATHMANDU, APR 26 –

United States Secretary John Kerry has issued a press statement on Saturday on behalf of the US government to express condolences to all of those affected by the earthquake in Nepal, including the families of those who died in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.

Kerry, in his statement, said that they are working closely with the government of Nepal to provide assistance and support at this time of crisis.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Bodde has issued a disaster declaration in order to immediately release an initial $1 million for humanitarian assistance.

USAID is preparing to deploy a Disaster Assistance Response Team and is activating an Urban Search and Rescue Team to accompany disaster experts and assist with assessments of the situation.

Likewise, Russia and China are also sending teams to assist in the rescue operation. Chinese team is arriving with six specially-trained dogs and head to Gorkha district with medicines and food to carry out the rescue operation.

Nepal Earthquake – The Numbers – WSJ

The massive earthquake that shook Nepal on Saturday has so far claimed the lives of at least 1,900 people.

The quake, which struck shortly before noon, local time, spread devastation across a broad swath of territory, severely damaging parts of the capital’s historic center, flattening remote villages and triggering a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest.

Here’s a look at the earthquake by the numbers.

Nepal’s Landmarks, Before and After the Earthquake – NYTimes.com

Dharahara Tower

This nine-story structure was built in 1832 on orders from the queen. It was made of bricks about a foot and a half thick, and had recently been reopened to the public. Sightseers could ascend a narrow spiral staircase to a viewing platform around 200 feet above the city.

July 15, 2013

Before: Dharahara Tower

Bal Krishna Thapa Chhetri
April 25, 2015

Before: Dharahara Tower

Narendra Shrestha/European Pressphoto Agency

More pictures at that link.

Nepal Earthquake: Incredible Pictures From Everest Base Camp – India Real Time – WSJ

Nepal earthquake in pictures: Images show devastating effects of quake that tore a country apart – Asia – World – The Independent

nepal earthquake – Google Search you can see more pictures at that link as well….

Some reports out of Everest:

Mount Everest: New avalanches from aftershocks in Nepal – CNN.com

Nepal earthquake: Everest survivors describe ordeal – BBC News

Climbers above Everest base camp all safe | Reuters

217 missing in Everest | National- ekantipur.com

Video of the Everest avalanche are hitting Youtube but the ones I found are the same as some posted from 2009:

▶ Massive Mount Everest Avalanche Caught on Camera – YouTube

Posted Apr 25th….

Published on Apr 25, 2015

Nepal Earthquake Triggers Everest Avalanche, 18 Killed at Base Camp

At least 13 people were killed on Everest on Saturday as a massive avalanche – triggered by an earthquake near the Nepalese capital Kathmandu – swept through base camp.

The avalanche trapped other climbers higher on the mountain as those in base camp ran for their lives to escape falling ice and rock.

Videos from Everest south-side base camp showed flattened tents and blocks of rock scattered around a site dusted deep in snow. The avalanche appeared to have swept through the mid section of the strung-out base camp.

This is the same video as this: ▶ 5/3/09 – Mt. Everest Avalanche caught on tape – YouTube

Uploaded on May 6, 2009

In a series of Skype video chats, Miles O’Brien has been talking with Astronaut Scott Parazynski, who is at Mt. Everest prepping for a summit bid. While at Everest Base Camp, Scott and his partner Keith Cowing captured an avalanche on tape.

This next link is interesting, about how poverty will affect the aid relief.

Devastating Earthquake in Nepal: Humanitarian Relief and Tackling Poverty | Winnie Byanyima

Yesterday a terrible earthquake shook Nepal near the capital, Katmandu. Oxfam teams are on ground in Nepal with more staff and relief supplies flying in. I’d like to share this post which was shared with us in response, by Shaheen Chughtai, Oxfam’s Deputy Head of Humanitarian Policy and Campaigns.

Kathmandu was ever a disaster-in-waiting. The densely populated capital of one of the world’s poorest countries clings to the slopes of the seismically unstable Himalayas. The city was near-leveled and 8,500 killed in its last great earthquake 81 years before. It had history. On Saturday, the long-feared calamity struck.

And these articles explains why the earthquake happened:

Ancient Collision Made Nepal Earthquake Inevitable – NYTimes.com

More than 25 million years ago, India, once a separate island on a quickly sliding piece of the Earth’s crust, crashed into Asia. The two land masses are still colliding, pushed together at a speed of 1.5 to 2 inches a year. The forces have pushed up the highest mountains in the world, in the Himalayas, and have set off devastating earthquakes.

Experts had warned of the danger to the people of Katmandu for decades. The death toll in Nepal on Saturday was practically inevitable given the tectonics, the local geology that made the shaking worse and the lax construction of buildings that could not withstand the shaking.

Nepal earthquake: The history and why quakes happen in the Himalayas – Asia – World – The Independent

Nepal quake ‘followed historic pattern’ – BBC News

What caused the Nepal earthquake? – Al Jazeera English

Video at the link.

(Well, that sucks. The video will not work in the US, but it may work in other countries. )

I will update this post with links in the comments below.

The other Sunday thread will be up later this evening.


Sunday Reads: Everything Looks Better in Autochrome

19e09874dfe2caad2cf6e85dd11f34cbGood Afternoon

Still moving sick and slow,  and so this morning’s post is barely going to seem coherent.

While you read the links enjoy the images, which are actual color photographs from the beginning of the medium.

Particularly photos by Gustave Gain. I’ve got a bit of information on him below…

vintage everyday: 23 Rare and Stunning Color Portraits of French Women from the 1920s

French photographer Gustave Gain (1876-1945) was born in Cherbourg, France on June 27, 1876. As a chemist he keens on photography and related technical achievements. After the invention of the Autochrome by the Lumière brothers, Gustave is actively engaged in color photograph.

Gustave Gain loves beach. In the summer, he spent much time with his family on the coast of the English Channel in Brittany and Normandy, where he took a lot of stunning shots of his wife, Adeline and other women.

80f3fe5a288ebe215f777d4459375a81More links on Gain:

Gustave Gain (1876-1945) – Author – Resources from the BnF

Fonds Gustave Gain (FR-FRAD050 – FRAD050_00225)

And here is a Pinterest section on Autochromes – People on Pinterest | 558 Pins

So, on with the links for the post:

Now this is one image that I am sure you will agree, should look a lot better in autochrome, because the present day image is just too much. Beware, once you see it you can’t unsee it.  18th century sex toy found in ‘toilet of sword fighting school’ in Poland – Europe – World – The Independent

An old leather sex toy dating back to the 18th century was found by surprised archaeologists during a dig in Poland.

18th century sex toy found in  toilet of sword fighting school  in Poland   Europe   World   The Independent

The eight-inch dildo filled with rough bristles was discovered during an excavation that could have been the site of an old school of swordsmanship in the northern coastal city of Gdansk.

c1be0b3f3b02b9937a8a7137bfe47606A spokesman for the Regional Office for the Protection of Monuments in Gdansk, which found the penis-shaped object in the Podwalu district, said: “It was found in the latrine and dates back to the second half of the 18th century.”

“Whether that was by accident or on purpose is anyone’s guess though,” they added.

Wooden swords found on the site by the archaeologists led them to conclude that the place was once a school of swordsmanship.

Wow, that leaves me almost speechless…

 

Lili Von Shtupp: Would you like another schnitzengruben?

Bart: No, thank you. Fifteen is my limit on schnitzengruben.

 

Dr. Frankenstein: For the experiment to be a success, all of the body parts must be enlarged.

Inga: His veins, his feet, his hands, his organs vould all have to be increased in size.

Dr. Frankenstein: Precisely.

Inga: [her eyes get wide] He vould have an enormous schwanzschtücker.

Dr. Frankenstein: [ponders this a moment] That goes without saying.

Inga: Voof.

Igor: He’s going to be very popular.

 

That’ll do nicely.

Since you have seen something as horrid as that…how about this:

IMG_1123

 

A friend of mine posted this on her Facebook, oof, talk about polar opposites.

51aca41dd9fa7b92ab2f0737adb4ba69I guess I have given you some images to disgust your eyes for the day, how about some links to give your brain a going over:

Rand Paul smacks around Hilary Clinton at New Hampshire summit | Daily Mail Online

‘When Hillary Clinton travels there’s going to need to be two planes, one for her and her entourage, one for her baggage,’ Rand Paul smacks around Democratic rival at New Hampshire summit

59a4c48be796c8e7880afe5174e548f9At Republican Gathering, All Talk Is of Hillary Clinton (None of It Is Good) – NYTimes.com

GOP Presidential Contenders Go After Hillary Clinton In New Hampshire

Those Hillary links are especially vile.

Next up, immigrants. Only this time in the Mediterranean.

Up to 700 feared dead after migrant boat capsizes in Mediterranean – The Globe and Mail

The extreme danger faced by migrants crossing the Mediterranean in small, rickety vessels was highlighted earlier today when a boat carry as many as 700 capsized, resulting in possibly the largest mass drowning since the migrant crisis began several years ago.9ab4264e47cee5abd9501847e9617e3a

Initial reports said that only 28 of the 700 migrants had been rescued, though one report put the figure at 50. The disaster happened about 60 kilometres off the Libyan coast and about 200 kilometres south of the Italian island of Lampedusa, which lies roughly half way between Sicily and northwest Libya.

The emergency was declared at about midnight, local time, with more than a dozen Italian and Maltese ships taking part in the rescue, plus three helicopters. At midday Sunday, the UNHCR, 80c0ebdba658e1cfbc87ccfce438093cthe United Nations’ refugee agency, said the rescue was ongoing. The vessel is believed to have capsized when the migrants shifted to one side of the vessel when a merchant ship approached. “At the moment, we fear that this is a tragedy of really vast proportions, UNHCR spokeswoman Carlotta Sami told SkyTG24 television.

In connection with this latest sinking:

59e5890dbc856d55a32b961856ec629aPope Francis asks world to help Italy with migrants – Al Jazeera English

Pope Francis has called on the European Union and the international community to do more to help Italy cope with unprecedented numbers of migrants rescued in the Mediterranean during journeys on smugglers’ boats to flee war, persecution or poverty.

With his popularity and deep concern for social issues, the pope gave Italy a boost in its lobbying for Brussels and northern EU countries to provide more assistance.

fa90e3caac3debc99d3779593a44e5eb“I express my gratitude for the commitment that Italy is making to welcome the many migrants who, risking their life, ask to be taken in,” said Francis, flanked by Sergio Mattarella, the Italian president. “It’s evident that the proportions of the phenomenon require much broader involvement.”

44a777124ac84e08710fc542c5cf6051“We must never tire of appealing for a more extensive commitment on the European and international level,” the pope said.

On Saturday, towns in the southern island of Sicily were running out of places to shelter the migrants, including 11,000 arrivals in the past eight days. At least another 400 people are known to have drowned.

From to Pope to crazy ass Plubs, and their attacks on…everything.

This, read it in full: Why Gay Rights Trumps Women’s Rights – In These Times

Yet it’s not simply the fringe that’s the problem. I have a sneaking suspicion that while as a society we may use women’s sexuality to sell everything from cars to buffalo wings and beer, we really don’t like women actually engaging in sex on their own terms and having the ability to make certain to solely determine the results of those encounters.

ce1c947d5aa05c43e130b6ed281da4abFor me, having spent 40 or more years fighting along my brothers and sisters for full equality for the LGBT community, I’m ready for a bit more two-way solidarity.

I’m ready to have the NCAA, with their supposed commitment to Title IX, refuse to play in Indiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Dakota and Arizona because these states are openly hostile to women and our constitutional rights.

c464f21863bf030f695c472480417f8bI’m ready to have gay rights organizations, the media and corporations, such as Walmart, Google, NASCAR and Angie’s List, be as moved to action by Purvi Patel’s 20-year incarceration as they—and I—are about the refusal of a baker to make a wedding cake for same-sex celebrations.

And most of all I’m waiting for the kind of Act Up outrage that the abuse of women surely deserves.

And yes, I do feel the writer has a HUGE point. Read the entire thing. That of course does not mean the fight for LGBT is over, not by  a long shot:

ff9831de626ede0ce935a364d5c697a4Addicting Info – Pennsylvania High School Students Organize ‘Anti-Gay Day,’ Complete With ‘Lynch List’ (VIDEO)

That is so unacceptable, it is beyond comprehension, at least to me.

Jeffco board member apologizes for sharing link to “hate group” on Facebook | Chalkbeat

fbb78843378e73fbd97fe958e36b8c4dJefferson County school board member Julie Williams said late Friday that she was “sincerely sorry” and that she would remove a link on her personal Facebook page that she shared that encouraged families to keep their students home Friday and “away from perverse indoctrination” of the“homosexual-bisexual-transsexual agenda.”

“To be honest with you, I didn’t read the article,” Williams said.  “I just saw it and thought I was sharing information with parents.

12c3334cbd496f8d1247cd3ca05e8c87More Women in the news:

Indiana taxpayers ripped off in horrifying scheme that targeted poor pregnant women

Courts should strike down bans on abortion method in Kansas, Oklahoma – LA Times

Meanwhile in Europe:

8320026490bbc378a6f888e589d33ef3Anti-Semitism in the Soccer Stands – NYTimes.com

An ugly vein of soccer fan excess — the chanting of anti-Semitic slurs — recently disgraced a Dutch soccer game, prompting officials of the home team, Utrecht, to apologize for shocking outcries from the stands like “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” and “Jews burn the best!”

It is scary.

Brunch dine and bash at Bocca: witnesses – NY Daily News

An angry diner viciously grabbed an Upper East Side restaurant manager by the neck and hurled him into an elderly woman after waiting an hour and a half for his omelette during a case of brunch rage Saturday afternoon.

5df910fa21b8ab993c81c21cfd738775Dammit, what the hell is wrong with people?

Can you believe it has been 20 years since the Bombing of Oaklahoma?

US Remembers Oklahoma City Bombing 20 Years Later

About 1,000 gathered at the former site of the Oklahoma City federal building to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the terrorist bombing there that killed 168 people and injured many others.

Former President Bill Clinton and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin were among those who spoke at Sunday’s service at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building once stood.

783238f1b3d490ebc3fcc50f5bdc032bThe service started with a 168-second moment of silence and concluded with survivors and tearful relatives of the dead reading the names of those killed in the April 19, 1995, attack, which remains the worst U.S. act of domestic terrorism.

A surprise admission out of Washington.Dc: FBI overstated forensic hair matches in nearly all trials before 2000 – The Washington Post

The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.

7d58d3d17683cb7646f6607516eea021Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’slargest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

8975cabf6403f912418fdf2a22de6406The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.

 

And in Africa: ‘Mysterious’ disease kills 18 in Nigeria | World news | The Guardian

A “mysterious” disease that kills patients within 24 hours has claimed at least 18 lives in a south-eastern Nigerian town, the government said.

“Twenty-three people were affected and 18 deaths were recorded,” the Ondo state health commissioner, Dayo Adeyanju, said on Saturday.

11d21bfbdbe6dd2fba94358a63012eb2The government spokesman for the state, Kayode Akinmade, earlier gave a toll of 17 dead.

“Seventeen people have died of the mysterious disease since it broke out early this week in Ode-Irele town,” Akinmade told AFP by telephone.

The disease, whose symptoms include headache, weight loss, blurred vision and loss of consciousness, killed the victims within a day of falling ill, he said.

Laboratory tests have so far ruled out Ebola or any other virus, Akinmade said.

The World Health Organisation meanwhile said it had information on 14 cases with at least 12 dead.

ea64bf91e64cdfea6f698c0ad2057a1a“Common symptoms were sudden blurred vision, headache, loss of consciousness followed by death, occurring within 24 hours,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told AFP by email, adding that an investigation was ongoing.

How horrible.

I will end this with a tweet from Stephen King that I think sums just about the entire 2016 GOP primary list so far:

 

Oh yeah, that man just said a fucking mouthful!!!!!!!!!

6088d09416fb487a43afd1e70aa74442

66736de94181363695cbff6d034caba4

 

 

This is an open thread, I am falling asleep while trying to write it. lol