Sunday Links: In dump fashion

cc60aaa8dc776eb2454d8d6aa0819803Good Morning

Wow, last night I watched this cult movie called The Baby…oh boy…I kept asking myself, wtf? But like some sort of twisted train wreck, I could not look away.  Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies: The Baby (1973): or, You Oughta Wean Him, He’s Old Enough

That link will give you an excellent review of this “Horrible Old Movie” as Dr. Paul Bearer would say…holy shit. That was disturbing. One thing however, I bet it is David Vitter‘s favorite flick!

Reading synopses, reviews, and open-mouthed shock reactions for Ted Post‘s 1973 weirdo exploitation romp The Baby, I had somehow got the idea that at least part of the movie’s shock value was inherent in the reveal of its premise–a social worker goes to the house of an eccentric family to assess the needs of their “special” youngest member, only to discover that the “baby” she thought she’d be caring for is in fact a thirty-year old man in an oversized crib and diapers. Therefore I worried that, since I knew the premise going in, much of the effectiveness of that shock reveal would be diffused.

Parishioners, I was happily misinformed–not only about how much the flick’s effectiveness relies on that shock reveal (hint: it doesn’t), but about that knockout premise’s centrality to the plot as a whole. Yes, there’s a thirty-year-old man with the brain of a pre-verbal infant who sleeps in a gigantic crib and occasionally needs his nappy changed, but surprisingly that’s just a small part of what makes the movie tick. It’s merely the soup base, if you will, to which Post and writer Abe Polsky add a variety of savory exploitation ingredients–some diced, some chunky, some pureed–to arrive at a delicious Mad Movie stew.

Anyway, that just blew me away. So much that I am only able to give you a dump of my own this morning. A link dump that is…

fdc6426b9cc94e5b895aa6f2a0618aaeA lot of these links are things I have saved up over the last few weeks, so you may have seen them already.  They are in no particular order, honestly I am too “weirded” out to get them organized in a decent way.

I thought this is kind of cool, especially for those of you who..like me…get a kick out of letters and words: Artist Transforms The City Of Chicago Into A Giant Typography Playground

It’s strange to think that although we encounter letters and numbers all the time, the little guys are normally confined to a page or a screen. That is, until one bold MFA student dared to take her ABCs out of the two-dimensional world and into her environment — the urban playground of Chicago.

In the “no shit” department: Dollar Stores Are Getting Too Expensive For Many Americans  I won’t quote from that article, it’s all been said here before.

This next link is awesome: ‘Aviatrix’ Is My New Word | Dr. Mae Jemison

Tenacity. Daring. Talent. Courage.
Aviatrix Amelia Earhart had these qualities in abundance. Aviatrix was the term for women who flew “flying machines” at the beginning of powered flight. The word bothered me greatly years ago, as aviatrix, a feminization of aviator, seemed to make their accomplishments parenthetical. But I think of it differently these days as I understand the women of that era were different than the men — they had to be “more” and overcome extraordinary barriers to participate in this new adventure.af1730bf2feff48c8e50c5820f3256ba

Amelia Earhart is perhaps the most well known of a genre of incredible women whose life stories offer inspiration, vital insight and critical lessons for us today. (I am a bit chagrined that I did not recognize much of this until after becoming a NASA astronaut and the world’s first woman of color in space.) Earhart learned to fly at a time when flying was dangerous and society considered women less capable than men in almost every sphere of life. Earhart became an international sensation as she set flying records solo and as part of a team. And she continued to strive for more until the last.

Similar elements mark the career of black aviatrix Bessie Coleman, while other aspects diverge due to racial discrimination rampant during the era. Coleman is the first American of any gender or ethnicity to receive an international license from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in 1921. Coleman traveled to France to learn to fly because no one in the United States would teach her — no one white, and not even black men! Earhart was the 16th woman to get FAI license in 1923. While Coleman had to learn French and travel to France, Earhart rode to the end of the bus line and then walked four miles to lessons. Working as a manicurist, Coleman saved money and gained sponsorship to pay for lessons and travel. Earhart worked to save money for lessons while getting some help from her mother. They were both tenacious just to get the opportunity.

c7f5185bdf6dbe4a5c1ea6d320318437From Aviatrix to crazy-ass holidays: What crazy national day falls on your birthday?| studentbeans.com

Christmas is great and all but it’s so boring – EVERYONE celebrates Christmas. So we decided to have a look at some unconventional & weird days we could fill the calendar with. First stop, the internet. Unsurprisingly we were not disappointed. Though some of these may be a little obscure (give them a quick Google if you’re unsure), they are all genuine national days somewhere in the world.

My birthday “national day” of April 13… Blame Somebody Else Day…hot damn, that is a great birthday present if you ask me!

bcb654bb79fb2708cafe9b8548764f34As you can see, the artwork for today’s post features winter sports, only a couple of weeks til the winter games in Sochi. Did y’all see this: IOC’s Mario Pescante Rips U.S. For Including Openly Gay Athletes In Official Delegation To Sochi

Here are a few other news stories on the Olympic Games:

Few Americans heading to Sochi Olympics | Travel | The Seattle Times

U.S. ready to ‘extract’ citizens from Sochi Olympics: Hagel – World News

Warning to U.S. athletes: No Olympic uniform outside Sochi venues – CNN.com

And…an update of sorts on the Philippine Heroes of the Night | Dr. Laura Stachel

ba87ce0fca420df828cc1176cb7998f7Moving from Russia, to the Philippines to Cuba: The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Havana’s Remarkable Architecture

Okay, what makes this next link so funny is that Boston Boomer had a similar link in her post yesterday. It is a quiz…and no, I did not put mine in here because she did. Like I said up top, I have had these things saved for a while. LOL

Which American Girl Doll Are You

I took the quiz and got Samantha. But who the fuck is Samantha?

  1. You got: Samantha!

    Samantha is basically the Samantha of the American Girls: you’re fabulous and you don’t give a damn about what anyone thinks of your life and who you spend your time with. But that doesn’t mean that you’re clueless, and not generous, oh no. You know that with great power comes responsibility.

1fc2acb68a218a03ec87c9991d650c22So I went and looked up who this chick is…List of American Girl characters – Wikipedia

Samantha Parkington, 1904

Samantha is an only child growing up during the Edwardian period (although American Girl designated her as Victorian). Orphaned at age five and raised by her wealthy Victorian-era grandmother in fictional Mount Bedford, New York, Samantha befriends a poor servant girl named Nellie O’Malley. Eventually Samantha, Nellie and Nellie’s young sisters are adopted by Samantha’s uncle and aunt. The themes of Samantha’s books include women’s suffrage, child labor, and classism.

What Your American Girl Doll Says About the Rest of Your Life | The Hairpin

1dcc381116dddb1ce517c5475ef45c49I never had one of these, they weren’t around in the 70′s, but then…neither did my daughter.

Check out what these American Girl shits are all about now: How American Girl Dolls Have Changed Since the ’90s:entertainment:glamour.com

American Girl dolls ain’t what they used to be, guys. I fell into an AG hole this morning while investigating the latest doll of the year (yes, “investigating”—I’m suspicious of her), and what I found was shocking, just shocking. Kiss the days of historical paperbacks in burgundy plastic goodbye, because the American Girl dolls/fans of today have other kinds of fun in mind. I officially now have a beef with the following:

Isabelle, the Girl of the Year, has ombre hair.
isabelle-american-girl
Except it’s not ombre hair (which is already kinda done—make her a teen vampire while you’re at it, AG). It’s just pink streaks. So: You’re welcome, moms everywhere, whose daughters will be dipping their ponytails in various colored substances this year.

Isabelle also sounds like she might be terrible when she grows up.
isabelle-studio-american-girl
Not to stomp on any dreams, but Isabelle’s collection includes a studio where she can “design and dance.” She’s a designer and a dancer. I’m sorry, but I don’t think we should be teaching girls to grow up and go to parties calling themselves “designers slash dancers.” That’s how people end up on The Bachelor. In my day, American Girls were either stable hands or blacksmiths! (At least, that’s how I remember it.)

And yet, you know, don’t aim too low either.
snack-cart
Nothing says “We’ve decided to spend all the college money on your brother” like buying your daughter a snack cart they can play-pretend they work at!

08e08e4e6c762615bf67b5b08d6b1550I wonder if that hot dog cart comes with a bikini thong uniform…well, my guess is the bikini is extra.  (Y’all remember this: Thong-clad Hot Dog Vendor Blasts Critics – Sun Sentinel December 19, 1990)

More map goodness for you: POLL: How Americans Feel About The States – Business Insider

After seeing an excellent poll that asked Europeans what they thought of other European countries, we talked to our polling partner SurveyMonkey Audience to expand the questions and try it on Americans, to see how they felt about other states.

The results were hilarious, informative and tell you everything you need to know about the dynamic between the states.

We asked respondents — 1603 of them — to answer each question with a state that wasn’t their own. The poll was carried out using SurveyMonkey’s Audience feature, which was more accurate predicting the 2012 election than numerous traditional pollsters.

The following maps show that data. Look under each map for details when it comes to the color scale. The darkest color had the highest number of votes, the whitest color had next to none.

3b99bc77b71a82909dde4654b12712bfThe Oscars are coming up…moviemorlocks.com – Stunning Visuals, Editing and Sound!

The Oscar nominations for 2013 came out recently and I was once again put in mind of the different technical categories and how misunderstood they are because when most craftsmen and artists do their job and do it well, the result is a seamless vision.  If it’s not, it’s jarring and there’s a problem.  As a result, we often associate great technical work with what we can see as obvious: Great cinematography is often interpreted as great, sweeping visuals; Great editing as lots of intricate cuts; Great Sound as the sounds of explosions or music.  But, honestly, it’s about so much more.

One of the best authors, I think, has a new book out: Roddy Doyle, Master of Working-Class Family Drama – D.B. Grady – The Atlantic I love his Barrytown Trilogy, and this is yet another book about the Rabbitte family. (The Snapper is my favorite.)

5bcdcaf22b12bff41e1d7737110756c8I know you all saw this news headline: As Seen in ‘Goodfellas’: Arrest Is Made in ’78 Lufthansa Robbery – NYTimes.com Know what the defense said about Vincent Asaro, this is funny…they said the fact that he was still alive proves he had nothing to do with the crime. Wow.

More art, this is some cool ass ink: The world’s most spectacular tattoos revealed | Mail Online

Then you have the latest news out of lower Manhattan, oh this pisses me off: 9/11 Museum Admission Fee – The 9/11 Museum’s New Pricing Plan – Esquire

So you want to take your family of four to the 9/11 memorial? You want to mourn or talk to your young kids about what happened at the site? That will now be $96, please.

Late yesterday, the foundation behind the 9/11 memorial quietly voted to charge a $24 admission fee to the soon-to-be-open underground museum at the site. The above ground memorial will continue to be free, victims’ families will not pay, and there will be discounts and three free hours a week.

Sure, the admission fee is in line with other museums in the city (the MoMA is $25 for adults, for example), but you’re certainly not paying to look at art. You’re paying to grieve and learn about the largest terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Ground Zero is already a dark tourism site. Now someone’s just making a buck off that fact.

Assholes…so not only did they make the memorial an underground ridiculously damp embarrassment of remembrance to the dead, a design that the families and most of NYC did not like…but now they are charging folks to go and see it? Yeah, assholes is to nice a name to call them.

I’ll end this post with another gallery…The week in wildlife – in pictures | Environment | theguardian.com

Strange weather has confused many species in this week’s pick of images from the natural world

Week in wildlife: Divers swim with dozens of West Indian Manatees

Divers swim with dozens of West Indian manatees as the animals congregate around a freshwater spring north of Tampa, Florida. Local temperatures dropped below freezing, redirecting the animals to the warm springs at the Crystal River national wildlife refuge

I’ve never seen so many manatees in one place before…

Enjoy your day and stay warm, what are you reading about today?


Oh yeah…Wednesday Morning Reads

currier-ives-summerGood Morning

Wow, I completely forgot it was my turn up at bat. This morning’s post will be mainly links that I have saved up over the last few days. Being sick does have its advantages, you get to bypass all the horrible news stories…and only read about them if you want to catch up. Let’s just say, I didn’t want to catch up and leave it at that.

So here we go…

Sandra Day O’Connor expresses regret about court’s role in 2000 election

No kidding? What do you think brought about this reflective change of feelings from the former Justice? I wonder if it was all that press Dubya got recently from the grand opening of his Presidential Library and Museum to Idiotic Decisions. Anyway, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune,  O’Connor had this to say about Bush v. Gore:

Looking back, O’Connor said, she isn’t sure the high court should have taken the case.

“It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue,” O’Connor said during a talk with the Chicago Tribune’s Editorial Board on Friday. “Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.’ “

The case, she said, “stirred up the public” and “gave the court a less than perfect reputation.”

“Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision,” she said. “It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn’t done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day.”

Ya don’t say? Too little, too late if you ask me.

Well, from one load of shit to another load of shit. However, this load of shit was dumped by a Sandy…not a Sandra. Hurricane Sandy dumped 11 billion gallons of raw sewage into East Coast waterways

Hurricane Sandy dumped about 11bn gallons of raw and untreated sewage into waterways from Washington DC to Connecticut, the science journalism group Climate Central said on Tuesday. That’s or enough human waste to cover New York’s Central Park in 41ft of sewage, or fill 17,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, scientists told a conference call with reporters.

Damn, that is a whole lotta crap.

Hmmm, speaking of which:  Rocky Musical Trailer | Geekosystem

…draw a Venn diagram between fans of Broadway musicals and fans of the Rocky franchise, I would just draw two circles that were very far away from each other. Sylvester Stallone and Stage Entertainment USA seem to disagree with my assessment, and they’re betting there’s enough of an overlap for their new musical Rocky to be a success. Whether you think a musical version of Rocky is a great idea or a terrible one, the new trailer for the production will probably confirm your opinion. There’s not enough in the video to really indicate whether this will be a good musical version of Rocky or a bad musical version of Rocky, but it sure shows that there’s a musical version of Rocky happening.

Uhhhh…..were you even able to get through that trailer? ( I couldn’t. ) It seems to me that this production of Rocky is what Bialystock and Bloom should have produced as a sure fire flop…instead of Springtime for Hitler.

Damn that is crap.

Alright, sorry there. That is awful. Looks like Gitmo is not the only place where America is practicing torture these days.

Did you see the campaign donor “mess” in Virgina?/snark.  I like the title of this Atlantic article, it is a take on a real damn good Helen Mirren movie: The Governor, His Wife, Their Cook, and the FBI – Philip Bump – The Atlantic Wire

The FBI is now investigating whether or not Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell violated any laws when he allowed a campaign donor to pay for catering at his daughter’s wedding. That is perhaps the least weird part of the story.

The crux of the issue is whether or not McDonnell violated the law by allowing Star Scientific, a company run by Jonnie Williams, to pick up the $15,000 food and floral tab for Cailin McDonnell’s wedding in 2011. The governor explains his failure to report the spending on his finance reports by insisting that the donation was a gift to his daughter. Under Virginia law, only gifts received by officeholders need to be reported. Earlier this month, the Washington Post walked through the evidence for and against that claim. The daughter paid for other parts of the wedding, for example, like the rehearsal dinner and the honeymoon. But McDonnell’s guidance is literally written all over the agreement between the caterer and the family, which the governor signed.

Read more about the twist and turns at the Atlantic link above or here at this Washington Post link: AP sources: FBI looks into relationship between Va. governor, campaign donor – The Washington Post

All these sordid stories lately, a sleaze-ball porn king backs a sleaze-ball former governor currently running for the US senate, innocent Elvis impersonators, and ricin laced dojos of mensa wannabe martial arts instructors.  Not to mention…My Son, the Terrorist.

Then you have Congress, or as Jon Stewart calls them:

“Do-Nothing F@#ktards who couldn’t solve a problem if it was eating them alive anus first.”

Video at the link!

Wow…that is something innit?

But there have been some extraordinary news items that you may have missed.

**Post updated @8:00am below!**

Sgt John Hartley Robertson, US army veteran, ‘found living in remote Vietnam village 44 years after being shot down and presumed dead’

Handout

A US army veteran has been found living in a remote Vietnam village 44 years since his plane was shot down and presumed dead, a new documentary suggests.

Unclaimed, a documentary by Canadian filmmaker Michael Jorgenson, claims that a frail, elderly man, found in a remote south Vietnam village unable to remember the English language, his date of birth or even the names of his wife and two children, may be Sgt John Hartley Robertson – a former Green Beret shot down in 1968.

Sgt Robertson was working on a special operation over the South East Asian country of Laos when his helicopter was shot down. Despite his body never being found, he was presumed dead for nearly half a century; his name etched on Vietnam memorials and army records listing him as “killed in action”.

Despite this, Sgt Robertson’s family believed it was possible he survived the crash and claimed to have documents proving he had been held in a Vietnamese prison for some time.

Read the rest of this story from the Independent at the link, you can see a trailer for the documentary here:

Can you imagine?

Well, I guess this story was too good to be true….from the Independent:

Revealed: Man claiming to be Vietnam veteran Sgt John Hartley Robertson who went missing and was presumed dead 44 years earlier is ‘exposed as a fraud’ – Americas – World – The Independent

It is claimed that the man tacked down and ‘identified’ for a new documentary is in fact a fraudster who the US
government performed DNA tests on 20 years ago and whose story had been fully
debunked

Had it been true, it would have been one of
the most gripping war stories of all time.

But sadly it looks as if the man found living in the Vietnam jungle, who a new documentary claims is ‘long dead’ US army veteran Sgt John Hartley Robertson, is likely to be a fraud.

Meanwhile, after some back and forth…Mariela Castro to get gay rights award in Philly

The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro will be allowed to travel to Philadelphia to accept an award for her gay rights advocacy, officials said Tuesday, reversing a previous decision to reject her visa request.

Mariela Castro will attend the Equality Forum’s annual conference on civil rights for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people, according to Malcolm Lazin, the advocacy group’s executive director.

Lazin, who had blasted the State Department’s travel denial last week, said organizers are “delighted” at the change of heart.

“She is unquestionably the leader for progressive change for the LGBT community in Cuba,” Lazin said Tuesday. “Her accomplishments are nothing short of remarkable.”

[...]

Castro, a married mother of three, is the niece of retired Cuban strongman Fidel Castro. She is also the director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, part of Cuba’s public health ministry, and is the country’s most prominent gay rights activist.

Castro has instituted awareness campaigns, trained police on relations with the LGBT community and lobbied lawmakers to legalize same-sex unions. She was elected as a deputy in Cuba’s parliament in February.

On Saturday in Philadelphia, she will speak about her experiences and receive an award from the Equality Forum.

I am glad she is able to come and get this award. It is an important step no matter what anyone says.

Now check this out, Groundbreaking Surgery for Girl Born Without Windpipe

Using plastic fibers and human cells, doctors have built and implanted a windpipe in a 2 ½-year-old girl — the youngest person ever to receive a bioengineered organ.

The surgery, which took place on April 9 here at Children’s Hospital of Illinois and will be formally announced Tuesday, is only the sixth of its kind and the first to be performed in the United States. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration under rules that allow experimental procedures when otherwise the patient has little hope of survival.

[...]

Hannah was born without a windpipe, or trachea — an extremely rare condition that is eventually fatal in 99 percent of cases — and had lived since birth in a newborn intensive care unit in a Korean hospital, breathing through a tube inserted in her mouth. Because of other developmental problems, she cannot eat normally and cannot speak.

[...]

Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, a specialist in the field of regenerative medicine who developed the windpipe and led the complex nine-hour operation, said the treatment of the Korean-Canadian toddler, Hannah Warren, made him realize that this approach to building organs may work best with children, by harnessing their natural ability to grow and heal.

Isn’t that wonderful?

I think it is good to end on that happy note, and let you all take it from there.

How are things going for y’all today?


Sunday Reads: Cuba, Castro, and the Idiots at CNN

ad24_3Good Morning

We have come to the end of spring break, it is amazing to me how fast time flies by…I have some interesting links for you, some of them I have saved for a little while, you may just want to come back to them during the day.

By the way, later tonight is the season premiere of Mad Men, I don’t know about you…but I sure am looking forward to it. ;)

Y’all know that CNN made the huge mistake of sacking Soledad O’Brien last month. The Guardian had an article about her last appearance on the network:

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien signs off with call for ‘tough conversations’

CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien at belated 60th birthday celebrations for Chaka Khan. Photograph: Startraks Photo / Rex Features

CNN host Soledad O’Brien signed off on Friday with a call for the network not to back away from “tough and honest conversations”.

O’Brien, who has built a reputation for hard-hitting interviews, said on the last edition of her morning show, Starting Point, that “facts matter”.

The new CNN boss, Jeff Zucker, cancelled O’Brien’s show, which has performed poorly in the ratings, and announced on Thursday that it will be replaced by a new show hosted by Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan.

In a short closing monologue on Friday, O’Brien said CNN had given her the chance to cover some of the biggest stories of our time and said she would continue to focus on “good journalism”.

She said: “My tenure at the helm of this show ends today, and I’m not going to be covering daily news at CNN after today. Over the last decade at CNN I’ve had a really great chance to cover some of the biggest stories, I think it’s fair to say, of our time.”

O’Brien recalled when she and a CNN team received a standing ovation at the airport in New Orleans after covering hurricane Katrina.

“So I think if I’ve learned anything over the past year it’s that facts matter,” she continued. “And we shouldn’t be afraid to have tough and honest conversations and maybe even argue a little bit when there’s a lot at stake, and yes, Governor Sununu, I am talking to you.”

You remember that interview don’t you? Soladad kicked Sununu’s ass! O’Brien told the Guardian that CNN did not provide a lot of support for her show Starting Point. They did not get a lot of promotion and were not fully staffed. No wonder, with CNN going down the shit bucket of news. In fact, you need to see this bit Jon Stewart did this past week:

Jon Stewart Tears Apart CNN: Neither Left Nor Right, But On A ‘Steady Spiral Downward’

Stewart then turned to CNN, a network that is neither leaning left nor right, but is instead on a “steady spiral downward.” He took on the new approach of CNN executive Jeff Zucker to the news, mockingly saying things like “I love brunch! Who doesn’t love brunch? That’s news!”

Stewart brought up some graphic faux pas of CNN, including (for some reason) a CNN personality standing in the middle of a virtual field of goats. And most egregiously of all, CNN showed off a live recreation of the Jodi Arias crime scene, complete with dead boyfriend in a pool of blood on the floor.

Of course, new changes don’t come without new show experiments, and following the success of The Five and The Cycle, CNN is testing out a new primetime show called (Get To) The Point. Stewart figured CNN must have “mistook what people are constantly yelling” at the screen for a show pitch. He showed clips of the show’s hosts talking about important subjects like lizard people and vegetarians who eat bacon.

What Stewart loved the most about the show was that when promos for this new program appear on the screen during other CNN shows, it looks like a subtle jab at whoever’s talking to get to the damn point already.

Go watch the video clips…my gawd, what shit CNN is pulling out their ass now a days!

Now, this next article is something I also saved from a while back, funny how it has caused quite a controversy of late….anyway, you know that my father’s family came from Cuba back in the late 1800′s. Here is a photograph of the town Marti City, in Ocala, Florida where my great-great grandfather had one of his cigar factories. In 1890s, cigar industry flourished, died in Ocala

A horse-drawn trolley, shown in Marti City, ran south from Ocala’s railroad station along North Magnolia to Broadway, turned west and followed Broadway to haul passengers and freight to the cigar factories at Marti City.

Well, I usually share links about Cuba with you all, and this article was one I was looking forward to sharing. For Blacks in Cuba, the Revolution Hasn’t Begun by Roberto Zurbano

Alex Webb/Magnum Photos

“Havana, 2013” More Photos »

CHANGE is the latest news to come out of Cuba, though for Afro-Cubans like myself, this is more dream than reality. Over the last decade, scores of ridiculous prohibitions for Cubans living on the island have been eliminated, among them sleeping at a hotel, buying a cellphone, selling a house or car and traveling abroad. These gestures have been celebrated as signs of openness and reform, though they are really nothing more than efforts to make life more normal. And the reality is that in Cuba, your experience of these changes depends on your skin color.

Please, before you do anything else go and read that editorial…because it was written by a man who was fired for saying what he felt was true. Check it out: Writer of Times Op-Ed on Racism in Cuba Loses Job

The editor of a publishing house in Cuba who wrote a critical article in The New York Times opinion section about persistent racial inequality on the island, something revolutionaries proudly say has lessened, has been removed from his post, associates said on Friday.

The author, Roberto Zurbano, in an article published March 23, described a long history of racial discrimination against blacks on the island and said “racial exclusion continued after Cuba became independent in 1902, and a half century of revolution since 1959 has been unable to overcome it.”

On Friday, The Havana Times blog reported that Mr. Zurbano had told a gathering of Afro-Cuban advocates that he had been dismissed from his post at the publishing house of the Casa de las Americas cultural center, leaving the implication that the dismissal was connected to the article. Other associates said Mr. Zurbano told them he had been removed but would continue working there.

There is a lot more to it than there appears to be…

Reached by telephone in Havana, Mr. Zurbano would not comment on his employment. “What is The New York Times going to do about it?” he asked. He angrily condemned the editors of the opinion section for a change in the headline that he felt had distorted his theme.

The article’s headline, which was translated from Spanish, was “For Blacks in Cuba, the Revolution Hasn’t Begun,” but Mr. Zurbano said that in his version it had been “Not Yet Finished.”

“They changed the headline without consulting me,” he said. “It was a huge failure of ethics and of professionalism.”

Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for The Times, said the editor stood by the article’s preparation.

“We worked very hard to ensure that the wording in the piece was translated properly and accurately reflected the writer’s point of view,” she said in a statement. “There were numerous versions of the piece sent back and forth, and in the end, Mr. Zurbano and our contact for him (who speaks fluent English) signed off on the final version.”

“We knew,” she added, “that Mr. Zurbano was in a sensitive situation, and we are saddened if he has indeed been fired or otherwise faced persecution, but we stand by our translation and editing, which was entirely along normal channels.”

Believe me, there is an underlying racism within the Cuban community and to say there isn’t is bullshit. Yes, it is taboo to speak of it too. However, there is a history in a little town in Florida of Cuban whites and blacks coming together to fight for labor rights.

Restaurant in Havana, note the Albinos allowed sign.

Restaurant in Havana, note the Albinos allowed sign.

My great-great grandfather Nicholas Santana owned a cigar factory and was partners with a black-Cuban named Sorondo who had connections with Jose Marti.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of 1895, Ocala FL, Marti City. My great-great grandfather's cigar factory is on the bottom left corner.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of 1895, Ocala FL, Marti City. My great-great grandfather’s cigar factory, Santana, Sorondo & CO., is located on the bottom left corner.

In Ybor City, Florida…you could find a small pocket of intelligence within the Southern land of Jim Crow, for racism was not prevalent in that little area of Italian, Spanish, Black, White immigrants who mostly worked for the many cigar factories.  There were many Afro-Cubans, both women and men, involved in the cigar factory labor strikes in Tampa, Florida, many years ago…they were fighting with their white brothers and sisters for workers rights.

Revolution is part of the Cuban culture, and I do believe that it is fair to say that for the Black-Cuban, the revolution is not finished. It just barely started and has been put on hold, it needs to get back in gear. Racism is alive in Cuba, there is no doubt about that. And the fact that Zurbano was fired says a lot about how things are handled in Cuba.

Speaking of Cuba, there was this bit of celebrity down there: Useful Idiots: Beyoncé And Jay-Z Ignore Cuba’s Racism With Havana Trip

This week, superstars Beyoncé and Jay-Z celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary with a trip to Cuba or, as the informed refer to it, “the island prison.”

While dining, partying, and enjoying the best Havana has to offer, Beyoncé and Jay-Z not only legitimize and support the repressive regime, with both their presence and their cash, but turn a blind eye, cruelly, to the perils and languishing of the Cuban people.

Both stars are proud African-Americans — yet, curiously, chose to vacation in a country notorious for relegating its black population to second-class status, or worse.

It is no surprise that many of Cuba’s top dissidents are Afro-Cubans. Did Sasha Fierce and Jigga Man find time to meet with these brave souls, or with their families? Did they mention them? Did they even think of them?

Of course not! This was not a trip to discover truth…or to learn about history or even music. Take a look at the link for a list of Afro-Cubans advocates who have either been imprisoned or killed for speaking out against the racism.

But why stop Cuba’s racism, and its atrocious human rights record, from getting in the way of a good time? After all, Jay-Z is the ‘artist’ who famously raps: “Welcome to Havana, smoking cubanos with Castro in cabanas!”

All Jay and “B,” useful idiots extraordinaire, seem to hear when visiting Cuba is: “Extra sugar on that mojito, señor?” Never mind the life-long plight of the Afro-Cuban waiter serving that drink, who casts a longing, hopeful look in their direction, only to be met with an aloof, distant smile from the two callous multi-millionaires who, while sharing his skin color, could not care less about his plight.

The photo-journalism report that went with the Zurbano op/ed can be seen here: The Ambiguous Island – Slide Show – NYTimes.com Again, I urge you to go take a look at those images.

Now, one more link out of that little Island nation down south…this made me laugh a little, Fidel Castro to North Korea: Chill

Cuba’s seemingly immortal former leader Fidel Castro, who knows a thing or two about threats of nuclear destruction, is asking both Kim Jong-un and Barack Obama to think before they do anything stupid. “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba always has been and will continue to be with her,” Castro wrote in his first state media op-ed in almost nine months, but “this is one of the gravest risks of nuclear war since the October Crisis in 1962 involving Cuba, 50 years ago.”

“Now that it has demonstrated its technical and scientific advances, we remind it of its duties to other countries who have been great friends and that it would not be just to forget that such a war would affect in a special way more than 70 percent of the world’s population,” wrote Castro, who’s apparently gone soft in his old age.

While the situation in the Koreas is “incredible and absurd,” he added, he warned Obama that if bombing breaks out, he “would be buried by a flood of images that would present him as the most sinister figure in U.S. history. The duty to avoid [war)]also belongs to him and the people of the United States.”

It seems like some sort of SNL skit, doesn’t it? Castro calling North Korea “incredible and absurd.”

Okay, you want real absurd? In Tennessee some asshole is putting forward a law that makes welfare payments dependent upon the student’s grades. Tennessee Gets Closer to Passing Bill That Ties Welfare to School Grades

A Tennessee bill that would cut welfare benefits of parents with children performing poorly in school cleared committees of both the House and Senate last week.

The measure takes “a carrot and stick approach,” one of the sponsors of the bill, Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, told the Knoxville News and Sentinel.

Seth Freed Wessler summarized the bill last month on Colorlines.com:

A Tennessee lawmaker introduced legislation last week to stop welfare payments to parents if their kids get bad grades in school. The sponsor, State Senator Stacy Campfield said, “One of the top tickets to break the chain of poverty is education.” But he added, “We have done little to hold [parents] accountable for their child’s performance.”

The bill would chop nearly a third of family’s Temporary Aid for Needy Families benefits, already a pittance, if their child fails to pass state competency tests or get’s held back. How exactly the threat to make poor people poorer will improve educational outcomes isn’t at all clear.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah. It calls for a 30 percent reduction in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits to parents whose children are not making satisfactory progress in school, the Knoxville News and Sentinel reported.

You know what? My kids are not from a “broken” home, and both their parents and grandparents are college graduates…and they struggle in school. They do not get A’s and B’s…so this would be a disaster in terms of assistance if we were a “needy” family. I mention my kids performance at school because even with positive backgrounds and no worries about food and a place to sleep, a kid can be a disappointment when it comes to their grades. This is a horrible law…damn these GOP assholes.

In another education link: Can Computers Teach Students to Write Better?

Bet you can guess the answer to that.

Alright, moving on…Juan Cole had an excellent post this past week: Congress Obsessed with American Muslims, Neglects real threat of White Supremacists | Informed Comment

The shooting of Kaufman, Texas district attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia remains a mystery. But investigators are increasingly looking into a cell of extremist white terrorists as the suspects. Two months ago, a county assistant district attorney, Mark Hasse, was murdered not far from his office at the court. (I used the term extremist white terrorists because that is what they are, but usually the American press only describes foreigners and Muslims as terrorists, while calling whites “extremists.”)

Likewise, a gang of white terrorists is suspected in the recent slaying of the head of Colorado’s prison system.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and other Islamophobes in Congress, seeking to look good to campaign donors who hate Muslims, has conducted several hearings on the alleged increased radicalization of American Muslims. Sociologists don’t find evidence of such a thing; American Muslims on the whole are relatively well-integrated into US society and are disproportionately well off and pillars of the society. The hearings are a form of McCarthyism.

No one was killed or injured in the US in 2012 by terrorists of Muslim heritage, and only 14 Americans of Muslim heritage were even indicted for violent plots. Only one act of violence was traced to such a group, which produced no casualties.

Rep. Peter King is a big supporter of the old 1980s Irish Republican Army, which killed two Americans in a bombing at Harrod’s department store in London. The man’s feet won’t touch the ground when he walks because of the rivers of hypocrisy exuding from between his toes.

Read the rest at the link.

Like I said at the beginning of this morning’s reads, lots of links for you today. More after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Reads: Cold Temps, Cold Tea and Warm Bed

Good Morning!

It is cold in Banjoville, we are talking low 20′s, and living near the river makes the air feel damp and harsh.  I’ve avoided the news this weekend, there is something going around…like when you have a hunch that you are coming down with a cold…but instead of dreading it, you are actually welcoming it. Why? Because it gives you a reason to sleep all day and not have to explain your crappy attitude to your family and friends.

Actually, the yesterday started very well and exciting, but when I opened the fridge and was hit with the leftover turkey fumes, it just drained all the energy out of me.

Anyway, here are some links to get you started this morning. You got your cup of Joe? Mug of tea? (My tea is already cold.) Flask of Southern Comfort? (Some may prefer whiskey or vodka, but I love me some SoCo.)

Juan Cole had an interesting post this past week, If You are 27 or younger, you’ve never lived through a colder than average month (Bump)

Paul Bump at Grist points out that The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on global temperatures in October 2012 as follows:

“The average temperature across land and ocean surfaces during October was 14.63°C (58.23°F). This is 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average and ties with 2008 as the fifth warmest October on record. The record warmest October occurred in 2003 and the record coldest October occurred in 1912. This is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature.”

He then did a quick calculation, and concluded that if you were born after April, 1985, i.e. if you are 27 or younger, you have never experienced a month with a global average temperature colder than the 20th-century average. (Obviously, you may have experienced a month at lower than local averages, though that would be rare, too; the point is about world averages.)

Cole links to a video from NASA:

One thing that is not cold, is the tension in Egypt. I have a few updates that you may not have read about yet:

Egypt braces for more protests

If Sunday is anything like the last several days in Egypt, it will not be quiet.

Egypt’s ElBaradei Calls on President to Rescind Near Absolute Powers

Prominent Egyptian democracy advocate Mohammed ElBaradei has called on Egypt’s president to rescind the near absolute powers he has granted himself.

ElBaradei says President Mohamed Morsi must take the action to avoid the possibility of increased turmoil in the country that has recently shed its longtime repressive government.

Nobel laureate ElBaradei addressed crowds that gathered Saturday in Cairo’s central square to protest President Morsi’s decrees that put him above judicial oversight and protect his Islamist supporters in parliament.

Egypt’s highest body of judges, the Supreme Judicial Council, also condemned President Morsi’s decree. The judges Saturday called the move “an unprecedented attack” on the independence of the judiciary. Judges in Alexandria have gone on strike, saying they will not return to work until the decree is withdrawn.

Egypt rights groups and ElBaradei denounce Mursi decree

Anti-Mursi protesters chant slogans in front of the Supreme Judicial Council building in Cairo, 24 November 2012
Critics and supporters of Mr Mursi have staged rallies since the decree was announced

More than 20 Egyptian rights groups have called on President Mohammed Mursi to withdraw the decree granting himself extensive new powers.

The 22 groups signed an open letter saying the president “has dealt a lethal blow to the Egyptian judiciary”.

Meanwhile, in another part of the Middle East:

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Middle East crisis social media

Middle East crisis social media © Peter Broelman,Australia,Middle East,Israel,Hamas,Palestine,Palestinians,war,Gaza, gaza fighting

Here is an op/ed from Robert Fisk: Netanyahu leads Israel into isolation Go ahead and give that a read.

I’ve got more news that involves two sides fighting…this time in Japan, between the right-wing Nationalist and the environmentalist: Dueling protests in Tokyo over dolphin and whale hunts

Environmentalists and nationalists held opposing rallies over the issue of Japan’s dolphin and whale hunts in a rare showdown in central Tokyo on Saturday, leading to angry scenes.

About 50 anti-whaling activists gathered at a park in the Shibuya shopping district with banners bearing slogans such as “Stop the cruel dolphin hunt!” while across the street about 30 nationalists shouted “Get out of Japan!”

The nationalists accused the environmentalists of undermining Japanese culture and traditions, saying “environmental terrorists” should be sent to slaughter houses.

I can only think of that episode of South Park…Whale Whores:

Stan and his family are spending his birthday at the Denver Aquarium where they will get to swim with the dolphins. Things turn bloody when the Japanese attack, kill all the dolphins and ruin Stan’s big day. There seems to be no end to the senseless killing. Stan takes on the cause to save the dolphins from the Japanese.

Down in Cuba, there is quite a stir about a recently elected official: Cuban transsexual elected to public office

Adela Hernandez

Adela Hernandez hailed election triumph as another milestone in gradual shift away from macho attitudes in Caribbean country. Photograph: Ramon Espinosa/AP

A Cuban transsexual has become the first known transgender person to hold public office in the country, winning election as a delegate to the municipal government of Caibarien in the central province of Villa Clara.

Adela Hernandez, 48, hailed her election in a country where gays were persecuted for decades and sent to rural work camps as another milestone in the gradual shift away from macho attitudes in the years since Fidel Castro himself expressed regret over the treatment of people perceived to be different.

Hernandez, who has lived as a female since childhood, served two years in prison in the 1980s for “dangerousness” after her own family denounced her sexuality.

“As time evolves, homophobic people – although they will always exist – are the minority,” Hernandez said by phone from her home town. Becoming a delegate “is a great triumph”, she added.

This is a big deal in Cuba:

For years after the 1959 Cuban revolution, authorities hounded people of differing sexual orientation and others considered threatening, such as priests, long-haired youths and rock ‘n’ roll enthusiasts. But there have been notable changes in attitudes toward sexuality.

“I would like to think that discrimination against homosexuals is a problem that is being overcome,” Castro told an interviewer some years ago.

Read the rest of Hernandez story at the link.

I’ve got another transgender, I guess it is more of a cross-dressing story for you. This one is about The 72-year-old Chinese grandfather who models teen-girl clothes I will just post a picture…you can click to see the rest.

18 November 2012 01:09 PM

offbeatchina.com

…and, what is more, looks pretty good doing it. Kate Moss, eat your heart out, the world’s newest superpower has a new supermodel to match. But Liu Xianping is not your average clothes horse.

Why does that image remind me of Andy Warhol?

More newsy articles after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Reads: Missiles, Shuttles and Little Houses

That picture is for BB.

Good Morning

Don’t feel up for writing much this morning, so I apologize in advance.

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  My parents, living in Tampa at the time, tell tales of bomb drills…when you had to duck under your desk. As if that was really going to save you if the shit hit the fan.

Duck and Cover…

(Video at that link from South Park…third episode Volcano.)
 
Barbrady: Okay people, listen up. As we near the top of the mountain, the chances of our encountering some lava becomes great. Therefore, I have special ordered this training film to assist us in volcano safety. Mr Garrison, if you would, please?

[Garrison turns on the movie projector to watch a 1952 training video called Lava and You.]

Instructor: Hard bringers of sorrow, natural disasters can be the cause of troubling and undesirable stress – and a volcano is no exception. But what should you do if a volcano erupts near you or your family? Here, we see the Stevens family enjoying on their picnic. But suddenly, daughter hears a noise: it’s a volcano. Junior seems worried – but have no fear, Junior. Jane learned in school what to do when you hear a volcano erupt. [Jane uses a picnic blanket, covering her family] That’s right, Jane – duck and cover. [lava passes through blanket, leaving family unharmed] So what will you do when you hear a volcano erupting? That’s right, duck and cover. Looks like you got the idea. Duck and cover. Thank you and goodbye. [end of film]
Barbrady: Okay, any questions?
Chef: That has got to be the most ridiculous load of pig crap I have ever seen!
Barbrady: That’s enough outta you!

That is a spoof South Park did on this video:

And now….I’ve got some articles about the Cuban Missile Crisis from all over the world, even Cuba! So check these out:

From Cuba…October Missile Crisis Still an Issue Today - This link is pro Castro…just fyi.

From Scotland, Gerald Warner: Castro and Marxism won most from the Cuban missile crisis

Fidel Castro delivering a speech in October 1962 - the point 'Soviet ambitions were checked'Fidel Castro delivering a speech in October 1962 – the point ‘Soviet ambitions were checked’ARMAGEDDON, with the ­courtesy of four minutes’ warning: that was the prospect facing the world 50 years ago, as the Cuban missile crisis threatened thermonuclear war on a scale that experts today believe would have cost more than 200 million lives.With the passing of half a century and the declassification of many documents on both sides, certain perspectives have changed; but no new insight has discredited the notion that it was one of the most perilous moments in the Cold War.

From England: How Cuba won the missile crisis

President Kennedy On The Telephone

President John F Kennedy ‘never allowed the affair to escape from his capable hands’. Photograph: Art Rickerby/LIFE

Half a century ago, in October 1962, the world woke up to the Cuban missile crisis. The Russians were unloading nuclear missiles on Cuba, and the Americans were demanding they be withdrawn. For some people, perhaps for many, it seemed the moment to drag out the old evangelical poster: The End of the World is Nigh. One prominent anti-nuclear campaigner fled noisily to the west coast of Ireland, imagining mistakenly that there she might be safe. It was a frightening time. Even today I can remember the chill in the air, something not just the result of autumnal bad weather.

Video news story here: BBC News – Cuban missile crisis: The other, secret one

The Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 is generally accepted as the twentieth century’s moment of maximum peril.

On the 50th anniversary of the crisis, the BBC has had exclusive access to new information that paints an even more dangerous picture of how the crisis unfolded.

Papers to be published next week reveal that far from the crisis ending neatly with the deal struck by President Kennedy and Soviet leader Khrushchev at the end of October, there was a second secret stage to the crisis with staggering implications for the world.

Joe Matthews spoke to Dr Svetlana Savranskay, Director of Russia Programmes, National Security Archive in Washington DC, about her research and has this report.

Australia…down under: Fifty years since Soviets blinked over the Cuban missile crisis

Cuban missile crisis

John F. Kennedy chairs a US executive committee meeting during the Cuban missile crisis. Source: Supplied

There is a nifty graphic at this Associated Press link: AFP: Cuban missile crisis: when the world held its breath

Just a few more, looking at these photographs is something…many of you probably have vivid memories of this.

Missile gets makeover on 50th anniversary of Cuban crisis

The Cold-War era Nike Missile Base is seen in Everglades National Park in this undated aerial view released to Reuters October 12, 2012. REUTERS-National Park Service-Handoout
Miami area high school students at the George T. Baker Aviation school prepare to attach ailerons to a 41-foot surface-to-air Nike Hercules missile as they restore it at the school in Miami, Florida October 10, 2012. REUTERS-Joe Skipper
Those are students at a Miami high school restoring one of the Nike Hercules missiles…the photo above it is the base in the Florida Everglades where the Nike missiles were based at.
There is a nice long read here at this link: Cuban Missile Crisis Beliefs Endure After 50 Years – ABC News
And new documents are being released, RFK documents on Cuban missile crisis to be released With the Soviet papers and new information coming forward, it should be an interesting thing to see.
You can always learn something new about old events, even heavily covered ones like the Cuban Missile Crisis.To that end, the National Archives on Thursday will release more than 2,700 pages of papers from its Robert F. Kennedy collection, many of them dealing with the Cuba crisis that became the most dangerous moment of the Cold War.”The National Archives is pleased to open these materials as the nation and the world mark the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis,” said David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. “Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy played a crucial role in the peaceful resolution of the crisis, and researchers and the public are keenly interested in the information and insights contained in these documents.”
You can go online and view the documents…they are being posted at 8:30 am today. www.jfklibrary.org
This VOA article touches on Cuban Missile Crisis Lessons for Iran.
News reports from Pakistan on Sunday said that Malala Yousafzai has about a 50-50 chance of survival, maybe a little better, according to her doctors. She remains stable but unconsciousin an army hospital in Rawalpindi.Military doctors have reportedly consulted with two civilian Pakistani neurosurgeons who have recommended that Ms. Yousafzai be sent abroad for treatment. President Obama also has offered U.S. medical assistance to the Pakistani government, including a military air ambulance.Dr. Khalid Butt, a former army physician, in a letterto the Dawn newspaper, said “we may lose Malala Yousafzai if we do not send her to Dubai or the UK immediately,” adding that “armed forces doctors are not very proficient in complicated injury cases in peacetime.”He asked military leaders to stop “dilly-dallying” and not make it “a matter of ego and send Malala somewhere where she can be treated better.”
That is not very promising.
The Endeavour is taking longer to get to its new home.  Endeavour: Shuttle’s predicted arrival now later than 5 a.m. – latimes.com
They are chopping trees down, and using iron steel plates to keep the road from buckling under the weight.

After a daylong series of delays stemming from trees bordering the street and a particularly narrow stretch of road, the space shuttle Endeavour is not expected to arrive at its final destination until after 5 a.m. Sunday.

The shuttle, now at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Leimert Park, will turn right onto Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard sometime before midnight. It will then creep along in the predawn darkness, never exceeding 1 mph, for the last leg of its final journey,

“It’s not the turning–the turning is easy. We can turn this thing 360 degrees in place if we have to,”  said Ken Carryion, project manager for Sarens, the company controlling the transporters on which Endeavour rests. “it’s limited visibility. Even though we have light, it’s not the same as daylight.”

There are some cool photos here: PHOTOS: Endeavour rolls through the streets of L.A.

The rest of today’s links will be in a link dump. It is 2:30 and my pillow is calling me.
Have a wonderful Sunday…and please share your memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis with us…