We certainly have created a lot of ways to destroy each other haven’t we? We also seem to breed a lot of individuals that are capable of doing great harm without reservation. This week has brought the carnage once again into our back yard. It is important to remember that we have brought and are bringing worse carnage and that we are not alone in our experience.
We have sophisticated drones that appear to take out as many innocents as they do bad guys. Just yesterday in Baghdad, a suicide bomber killed 26 in a crowded cafe. Less than a month ago, 2 blasts occurred in a busy shopping district of Hyderabad, India. These twin blasts killed 14 people and injured 119. Seventeen were injured today in Bangalore in a car bomb blast. Neither India or Boston are war zones. Baghdad was not a war zone until we invaded it. We left it to whatever it is today.
Then, there is the daily amount of gun violence in the country. Let me return to Boston for this perspective.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said today that he hopes to cut gun crimes in half this summer during Boston’s most violent months: July and August, when the city typically sees between 37 and 48 shootings each month.
The department’s ranks were boosted as 28 members of the force were promoted and one new officer was named during a ceremony this morning.
Davis said those promotions represent the department’s efforts to fill vacancies in preparation for the summertime.
“We’re going to have a full court press on those months this year,” said Davis. “We’re gonna do a lot of preventive work leading up to those months. There’s gonna be a significant amount of attention paid to the impact players in the city. We want them to put their weapons down.”
Nationally, we experience 88 gun deaths a day. There have been about 3,524 gun deaths in this country since the Sandy Hook Slaughter. As you carefully read that sign made by the youngest victim of the Boston Bombs above, consider this:
… a child in the U.S is about 13 times more likely to be a victim of a firearm-related homicide than children in most other industrialized nations.
Firearms were the third leading cause of injury-related deaths nationwide in 2010, following poisoning and motor vehicle accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the sake of comparison, in 2010 there were more than twice as many firearms deaths in the U.S. than terrorism-related deaths worldwide.
Then consider how completely ignorant most people are of our violent legacies to other countries. Think of mass murderers of the 20th century, and then read this.
Mr. Kissinger’s most significant historical act was executing Richard Nixon’s orders to conduct the most massive bombing campaign, largely of civilian targets, in world history. He dropped 3.7 million tons of bombs** between January 1969 and January 1973 – nearly twice the two million dropped on all of Europe and the Pacific in World War II. He secretly and illegally devastated villages throughout areas of Cambodia inhabited by a U.S. Embassy-estimated two million people; quadrupled the bombing of Laos and laid waste to the 700-year old civilization on the Plain of Jars; and struck civilian targets throughout North Vietnam – Haiphong harbor, dikes, cities, Bach Mai Hospital – which even Lyndon Johnson had avoided. His aerial slaughter helped kill, wound or make homeless an officially-estimated six million human beings**, mostly civilians who posed no threat whatsoever to U.S. national security and had committed no offense against it.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a staunch supporter of the U.S. drone wars, Wednesday become the first government official to put a number on the estimated drone strike death toll.
“We’ve killed 4,700,” Graham said during a speech at a South Carolina rotary club, reported on by the local Easley Patch and flagged by Al Jazeera.
“This is the first time a US official has put a total number on it,” said Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations told Al Jazeera, but Graham’s office stated that the senator was only repeating “the figure that has been publicly reported and disseminated on cable news.” Graham’s figure aligns with estimates from groups included the U.K.-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), which has calculate that between 3,072 and 4,756 people have been killed by U.S. drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Graham’s figure did not distinguish between “combatant” and “civilian” casualties — a distinction which has, in the War on Terror, prompted debate. But the senator did reportedly say, “Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of al-Qaida.”
I’d like to know why some acts of violence attract so much attention and outrage? Tons of folks have been out in their virtual scooby vans warping into the witch hunt version of Encyclopedia Brown trying to finger the ‘dark skinned’ individuals that could’ve set the bombs on the Boston Marathon route. Have any of these idiots ever looked at the gun death rate in their own town or state? Have they ever concerned the morality of bombing wedding celebrations? Are they still taking Henry Kissinger or Donald Rumsfeld seriously? Have they possibly cracked a paper to find out exactly how many bombings happen on this planet and how many of them we commit? For that matter, why aren’t they looking for guys that look like Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph? Ever been to London and tried to find a trash can?
In London, public trash cans are hard to come by, as they’re an easy receptacle for bombs. Which makes it hard to throw things away properly! Now, the city is going to bring trash cans back, but they’re going to be big, hulking masses, totally bomb-proof and equipped with LCD screens to tell you the days news as you throw away your coffee cup.
Traveling to Europe–especially London–in the 1970s and 1980s included an introduction to basic instructions on what to do if a bomb went off and what to do to avoid being in an area that was likely subject to bombing. There are still Basque separatists bombing Spain. We’re coming up on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday. I was in Europe a lot in 1972 and it was like the year of the bomb over there. But, again, there was Kissinger too. It was the year I learned not to look or sound overly American.
Hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were forced to live in holes and caves, like animals. Many tens of thousands were burned alive by the bombs, slowly dying in agony. Others were buried alive, as they gradually suffocated to death when a 500 pound bomb exploded nearby. Most were victims of antipersonnel bombs designed primarily to maim not kill, many of the survivors carrying the metal, jagged or plastic pellets in their bodies for the rest of their lives.
Then, riddle me this. What is the difference between setting bombs on the street filled with crowds, or a bomb in a cafe, or a drone that hits a wedding or having one Texas “Job Creator” callously killing an entire city and a lot of its inhabitants because he just doesn’t want to be bothered with work place safety regulations or say, proper placement of a dangerous plant to start out with? I mean what exactly do you call a guy that runs a business that blows up an entire town and kills–at this point in time–35 people including 10 first responders? (That’s a link to CNN and USA Today so consider it with care.)
It really bothers me that we–as a nation–appear to have selective attention on what kind of violence gets our shock and attention and what kinds of violence we choose to ignore every day, every year, or in the case of the atrocities of Kissinger, every decade or four. We have had some horrific carnage recently. We’ve had children slaughtered in their classroom. We’ve had folks standing on the street celebrating a holiday ending up in hospital with wounds severe enough to warrant the kinds of amputees soldiers need in Afghanistan. This is horrific, but it does not operate in a vacuum or a world where we have done no wrong or where these kinds of events are rare.
So, call me Debbie Downer and tell me to get my unpatriotic ass out of the country or call me insensitive. I want to see a consistent and strong level of outrage, shock, and trauma displayed for all innocent victims of unspeakable violence. The hometowns of all of these victims should be our hometowns.
Here is a great question from a great writer, Juan Cole. Can the Boston Bombings increase our Sympathy for Iraq and Syria, for all such Victims?
The idea of three dead, several more critically wounded, and over a 100 injured, merely for running in a marathon (often running for charities or victims of other tragedies) is terrible to contemplate. Our hearts are broken for the victims and their family and friends, for the runners who will not run again.
There is negative energy implicit in such a violent event, and there is potential positive energy to be had from the way that we respond to it. To fight our contemporary pathologies, the tragedy has to be turned to empathy and universal compassion rather than to anger and racial profiling. Whatever sick mind dreamed up this act did not manifest the essence of any large group of people. Terrorists and supremacists represent only themselves, and always harm their own ethnic or religious group along with everyone else.
The negative energies were palpable. Fox News contributor Erik Rush tweeted, “Everybody do the National Security Ankle Grab! Let’s bring more Saudis in without screening them! C’mon!” When asked if he was already scapegoating Muslims, he replied, ““Yes, they’re evil. Let’s kill them all.” Challenged on that, he replied, “Sarcasm, idiot!” What would happen, I wonder, if someone sarcastically asked on Twitter why, whenever there is a bombing in the US, one of the suspects everyone has to consider is white people? I did, mischievously and with Mr. Rush in mind, and was told repeatedly that it wasn’t right to tar all members of a group with the brush of a few. They were so unselfconscious that they didn’t seem to realize that this was what was being done to Muslims!
Indeed, sympathy for Boston’s victims has come from around the world from places like Iraq that we’ve plastered with bombs not that long ago. Condemnation for this act came from elected officials in Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood which has been absolutely slathered with the mark of satan by the likes of our elected officials like whacko Michelle Bachmann. This part of Cole’s essay really got to me and I was already teary eyed hearing about Jane and Martin Richard from their school’s headmaster on Last Word.
Some Syrians and Iraqis pointed out that many more people died from bombings and other violence in their countries on Monday than did Americans, and that they felt slighted because the major news networks in the West (which are actually global media) more or less ignored their carnage but gave wall to wall coverage of Boston.
Aljazeera English reported on the Iraq bombings, which killed some 46 in several cities, and were likely intended to disrupt next week’s provincial election.
Over the weekend, Syrian regime fighter jets bombed Syrian cities, killing two dozen people, including non-combatants:
What happened in Boston is undeniably important and newsworthy. But so is what happened in Iraq and Syria. It is not the American people’s fault that they have a capitalist news model, where news is often carried on television to sell advertising. The corporations have decided that for the most part, Iraq and Syria aren’t what will attract Nielsen viewers and therefore advertising dollars. Given the global dominance by US news corporations, this decision has an impact on coverage in much of the world.
Here is a video by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) on the dilemma of the over one million displaced Syrians, half of them children:
So I’d like to turn the complaint on its head. Having experienced the shock and grief of the Boston bombings, cannot we in the US empathize more with Iraqi victims and Syrian victims? Compassion for all is the only way to turn such tragedies toward positive energy.
Perhaps some Americans, in this moment of distress, will be willing to be also distressed over the dreadful conditions in which Syrian refugees are living, and will be willing to go to the aid of Oxfam’s Syria appeal. Some of those Syrians living in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey were also hit by shrapnel or lost limbs. Perhaps some of us will donate to them in the name of our own Boston Marathon victims of senseless violence.
Terrorism has no nation or religion. But likewise its victims are human beings, precious human beings, who must be the objects of compassion for us all.
It is absolutely true that the shortcomings of our press this week were on parade this week. They basically spent hour-after-hour in what seemed like a glorified witch hunt. But there is a bigger injustice and short coming. Other people around the world–suffering and dying–deserve to have their stories told also. Every innocent victim of violence deserves justice and recognition. This is true of those 88 who die every day in this country from guns. It is true of all those killed by state violence be it ours or Bashar al-Assad or the crazy jerks that set of bombs on streets all over the world or fire military style weapons in our schools and movie theaters. All of this should cause the press to do its job and it should cause our hearts to grieve equally. Why obsess minute by minute on one act when there is a world full of them to choose from? Why not give all of the victims of violence their due?
So, what is on your reading and blogging list today?
Journalism, is this what it has come to?
The right-leaning Daily Caller recently launched an outrageous editorial series by author Patrick Howley. “Cigarette Reviews for the Uninitiated: 18 Brands in 18 Weeks” reads like a parody of tobacco industry talking points, or some pundit idea of an end-of-year joke column. But on close inspection, it appears to be quite real. The expressed purpose of the series is stated clearly: “It is our hope that the research conducted herein by official TheDC cigarette critic Patrick Howley will inform and educate the public, as well as aid tobacco companies in their forthcoming product designs.”
Can you believe it?
Thanks to the Daily Caller, this advertising doesn’t always need to be paid for. Here is Howley’s surprisingly similar description of Marlboro Red.
“We were all American men, with one shared set of values and one clear international enemy” … “the full thickness of the product” … “its macho reputation” … “this moment is most satisfactory, providing a warmth and respiratory presence so lacking from other cigarettes” …. “a thick and thorough brand, to be sure, but very pedestrian in its goals.”
Please, someone tell me it is a joke.
There is something nostalgic with the phrases Howley uses, makes me think of those smoking scenes in the movie All the President’s Men.
[after seeing Carl Bernstein light up a cigarette in an elevator]
Bob Woodward: Is there any place you *don’t* smoke?
There is something about smoking a cigarette while typing away on the typewriter keys…a bit old-fashioned these days. With text messages and twitter statuses in under 140 characters, some things are becoming obsolete. Think about it, something as simple as paper documents…which brings me to this next link I have to share with you today also touches on those newspaper men working at the Washington Post: Noting the History of the Paper Trail
Bob Peterson/Time Life Pictures, via Getty Images
Actually, make that “copy and recopy.” In a chapter of her book in progress about the history of documents Ms. Gitelman describes the way Mr. Ellsberg obsessively made copies of his copies, even enlisting the help of his children in what she describes as an act of radical self-publishing.
“Even though we think of copying now as perfunctorily ripping something off, he was expressing himself by Xeroxing,” she said.
Gitelman is one of the historians of late that are practicing “paperwork studies.”
Ms. Gitelman’s argument may seem like an odd lens on familiar history. But it’s representative of an emerging body of work that might be called “paperwork studies.” True, there are not yet any dedicated journals or conferences. But in history, anthropology, literature and media studies departments and beyond, a group of loosely connected scholars are taking a fresh look at office memos, government documents and corporate records, not just for what they say but also for how they circulate and the sometimes unpredictable things they do.
There is a new book out called “The Demon of Writing” written by Ben Kafka, who has become an expert on “paperwork studies.” Be sure to read the rest of the story at that New York Times Book Review link above.
I love researching the old-fashioned way, it is an art form…at least I think so. Hours spent in libraries, sitting down on well-worn carpets, surrounded by stacks of musty books…how wonderful!
But I guess there are some advantages to technology in the classroom. High-tech classrooms in Australia reviving Aboriginal languages
In a high-school classroom in western Sydney, teacher Noeleen Lumby is asking her pupils to recall the Aboriginal name for animals that indigenous Wiradjuri people have used for hundreds of years.
As she holds up stuffed toys representing some of Australia’s native wildlife, including a kangaroo, an emu and a cockatoo, the class of about 25 — many from Vietnamese and Cambodian backgrounds — come to grips with the ancient tongue.
“I like this because you get to learn new skills and you can speak some indigenous language,” said 12-year-old Tien Nguyen.
Lumby, who oversees the students as they use their new knowledge to create projects on computers and iPads, is passionate about filling a gaping hole in Australian education — the study of Aboriginal languages.
Lumby feels it is best for students to learn Aboriginal culture as well as the language, I think it is marvelous. Lessons we should be taking note of here in this country. But then, obsolete languages along with musty books are things students today don’t appreciate. (I speak from first hand experience…both my kids are allergic to books and reading. Sad isn’t it?)
On to another article, this one is about movie making…and one of my favorite pictures that was released in 1980. From Vanity Fair: Making Blues Brothers With John Belushi and Dan Akroyd—“We Had a Budget for Cocaine” Written by Ned Zeman and Photos by Annie Leibovitz.
The pitch was simple: “John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Blues Brothers, how about it?” But the film The Blues Brothers became a nightmare for Universal Pictures, wildly off schedule and over budget, its fate hanging on the amount of cocaine Belushi consumed. From the 1973 meeting of two young comic geniuses in a Toronto bar through the careening, madcap production of John Landis’s 1980 movie, Ned Zeman chronicles the triumph of an obsession.
Enjoy that article, it is a long one.
Sigh, now I will give you some links to news stories that are trending this weekend.
BB sent me this link last night, so…another Hindu is mistaken for a muslim: Woman Is Held in Death of Man Pushed Onto Subway Tracks in Queens
Police are charging her with second-degree murder as a hate crime.
A woman has been arrested in connection to the ambush killing of two firefighters in Webster, NY. New York woman arrested in connection with murder of 2 firefighters
Frank Luntz is now a consultant for CBS News, GOP Pollster Frank Luntz: ‘I Don’t Think The NRA Is Listening’ To Americans’ Gun Violence Concerns
Latest on the cliff of doom: Congress leaders huddle in quest for ‘fiscal cliff’ compromise
India’s gang rape victim goes home:
Indian women have made it to the tops of their professions in India. There’s been a female Indian president, women run multi-billion-dollar enterprises and Sonia Gandhi, president of the Congress party, is the most powerful politician in the country.
But on the peripheries of big cities and rural areas of the nation, women continue to fight for equal rights – and this is reflected in how authorities treat rape victims, human-rights groups say.
Human Rights Watch, in a report released Sunday in India, points to the so-called “two-finger test” as evidence of how India had failed to take rape seriously, often blaming women’s behavior for the offense.
In the test, which appears in Indian jurisprudence textbooks and is admissible in court, a doctor inserts two fingers into a women’s vagina to determine its laxity and whether the hymen is broken, signaling previous sexual activity.
The test perpetuates stereotypes of rape survivors as loose women and often is used by defense counsels to achieve acquittals, human-rights groups say.
Awful! I have avoided writing about this horrid case of gang rape and murder.
And here is the latest news out of Newtown: Claim seeks $100 million for child survivor of Connecticut school shooting
Now, just a few video clips of people lighting one up, or in the case of this first clip…lighting two up.
While watching Now Voyager with Bette Davis last night, I thought it is fabulous, those clothes…and those eyebrows on Davis when she is the dowdy spinster aunt.
No other cigarette smoking scene in history is as fabulous as this, except for maybe this one from To Have or Have Not:
Hey, speaking of Blues Brothers, fix the cigarette lighter:
No lighter? How about striking a match like Walter Neff in Double Indemnity:
…or the way De Niro takes a long drag in the film Goodfellas…
A few other scenes are mentioned in this 2005 article from The Guardian: I smoke, therefore I am
Can you think of any good movies without smoking in them? …If you discount historical films such as Barry Lyndon or Ben-Hur, a diet of non-smoking films would be almost unwatchable. But what would be most tragically lost are the great black-and-white smoking films of the 1940s – Casablanca, Now, Voyager, The Big Sleep – where wreaths of smoke are an essential and beautiful part of the cinematography, and where smoking quite clearly stands for sex. The Big Sleep (1946) opens with a title shot of two cigarettes smouldering in an ashtray that suggests more strongly than flesh scenes ever could that Bogart and Bacall are having an affair. And we learn a lot about the intimacy between Paul Henreid and Bette Davis in Now, Voyager from his habit of lighting two cigarettes at once and handing one to her. Cigarettes in movies are about far more than just whether the characters happen to have a nicotine addiction.
A-ha, starting and finishing this post with two articles on cigarettes…Journalism, there you are!
It is the last Sunday of the year, enjoy it and let us know what you are thinking about today…
Good Late Night!
I am running behind today, but happy because I actually have gotten a lot done. Anyway, I will post some items for you tonight…
That saying, a picture is worth a thousand words…could not be more appropriate here, check this out:
NGOs slammed Walmart following a Saturday fire that killed at least 112 workers at a Bangladesh factory which has supplied apparel to the retail giant. While Walmart said Sunday night that it had not confirmed that it has any relationship to the factory, photos taken following the fire (first published by The Nation early Monday afternoon) show piles of clothes made for one of its exclusive brands. In a new statement released Monday evening, Walmart said that at the time of the fire, the factory “was no longer authorized to produce merchandise for Walmart” and said that a supplier had “subcontracted work to this factory without authorization and in direct violation of our policies.”
Give that piece a read in its entirety, as there have been many updates to this story. I have to ask Dan if those pants look familiar to him, I’d be curious if they are clothing from previous seasons or the items for spring 2013.
In Texas, a group of World War II veterans got together to talk about their experiences. Texas World War II submariners meet to share stories
The four men in yellow vests stand out in the Golden Corral restaurant, where about 30 U.S. military veterans are gathered on a recent Saturday to eat and talk about submarines.
Their hair is a little grayer. They move slower. And the younger men there don’t hesitate to remind anyone talking to the United States Submarine Veterans Inc. Cowtown Base to speak up so these fellows can hear.
They are World War II veterans, a small but treasured generation of submariners now in their 80s and 90s. Nationally, their numbers have dwindled as the men have grown old and died. Reunions have gotten scarce. Organizations have dissolved.
But Dallas-Fort Worth remains home to a handful of World War II submariners whose sea stories hold an irreplaceable spot in U.S military history.
Again, that is just a taste, go spend a few minutes with that article.
I’m going to stick with this history “stuff” for the rest of the post. This next link goes directly to an archive of letters and documents from William Tecumseh Sherman. I thought that with Boston Boomer’s review of Lincoln, it would be neat for you to take a look at some other figures in the Civil War. But why bring this particular letter up? Because I think it has a few sentences that you will appreciate. Sherman Writes a Friend Touring the Levant
The ex-Commanding General of the United States Army was sixty, the widow of his chief of staff but thirty-five, and whether he bedded her six weeks after her husband’s death in 1880 is neither proven nor disproven here. What is clear is that ten years after Joseph Audenreid died, Sherman was intimately involved in Mary Audenreid’s life, and in that of her wayward daughter, Florence; and fond enough, still, of Colonel Audenreid, to have mentioned him not once but twice, in this joshing missive about travel and the Levant.
Here is the part I wanted to bring to your attention.
No 75 – West 71 Str
Jan 20, 1890
Dear Mrs. Audenreid,
I am just in receipt of your letter of Jan 3rd dated Naples in which you say that it is agreed by the parties concerned that you go to Cairo, the Holy Land, Smyrna, Constantinople, Athens &c &c. No wonder like Hamlet you see the ghosts of Audenreid and Sherman beckoning you on to the End. You are at this moment on our footsteps of 1872 only we were men and you are women. And I will not be the least astonished if the mysterious cable announces that those [you] Philadelphia girls have been abducted into the harem of some rich merchant of Smyrna, squatting on the divan, eating sweet meats and delighted when the little bell tinkles and tells his favorite that he wants her. Florence would realize the dream of Byron in his Bride of Abydos: but what would Audenreid think? No! the world has changed. Woman is no longer the slave of the man, but his equal.
He goes on to talk about the importance of a woman, and her relationship with her family…but I really thought that was a an interesting comment, and a surprisingly modern observation.
Okay, now on to another history centered link. 10 Incredible Places Carved From Rock | Listverse This is fun, check out the full list…
When we talk about rocked carved sites most people will think of Petra in Jordan. It is certainly worthy of its fame because it is so beautiful. But what many don’t know is that it is but one of many similar rock carvings – some of which should perhaps hold the honor of being more beautiful. In this list we look at ten rock carved sites that you very probably are unaware of.
They are all fascinating, but since I have the Indian artwork up top, I will stick with one of India’s incredible places carved from rock.
The Ajanta Caves are in Maharashtra, India and they comprise of around 30 carved Buddha statues. What makes these caves extra special though is the large number of very beautiful paintings – excellent examples of Indian art at its finest. They date from the 2nd century BC.
One more quick thing tonight, I am so excited about an unexpected surprise which has allowed me to get something I have wanted for a very long time. An old manual typewriter…and I am fortunate to have found one, in good working condition and a good price. Here it is, Typed On Paper: Olympia SM3
You can find more information on these Olympia typewriters at that link.
This is an open thread…
This has been a difficult weekend for my family, a friend of ours, Union County Sheriff Deputy Derrick Whittle, was killed in an accident while responding to a domestic violence call, he was 39. He was extremely connected to the boys on my son’s football team, being a coach and as my son called him, a second father. He leaves a wife and two children. His death marks the 10th parent that has died in the last 7 years among the group of kids that are in my son’s and daughter’s class. (If I am counting it correctly, that does not include one of my daughter’s friends and classmates that was killed in a car accident last year…) Illness, car accidents and in three circumstances…one suicide and one murder suicide. It is heartbreaking, granted my high school class was 750 kids…but it just seems like an unusually high number of deaths these 13 and 14 year olds have had to face.
This death has hit us very hard, Derrick was an amazing father…and it is very difficult to process this loss. There are several youth football families in our group who are very tight-knit. It is not your average kind of friendly youth sport’s parent relationship…it is hard to describe. But as close as those kids are to each other, the parents have created a bond that also goes deep…believe me when I say there are many “other mothers and fathers” that feel betrayed in a way. Let me explain…
We would talk about how lucky and wonderful it was that the boys would grow up with such close friends…these boys have played football together from the ages of 5 and 6. We could see a future for them, where they would stay lifelong friends, and be there together supporting each other. We would watch them become men and felt one day we would be watching their kids out on the field…
But there was something there that was not spoken, it was simply understood…it was that us parents would also grow older together. We would watch the years tick by, and see each other get more gray hairs and in some cases, more bald heads…more wrinkles and most definitely pack on more pounds, not to mention the larger beer bellies. It never occurred to me that we would miss out watching Derrick get older too. Even with so many parents that have passed in this class of 7th and 8th graders, roughly 200 or so kids…the thought that one of us in our extended family of 20+ parents, grandparents…aunts and uncles…brothers and sisters, would lose one of our own was unthinkable.
There is a mother and father…a young widow, a thirteen year old boy and nine-year old girl who have lost a son, husband…father and friend. I cannot even begin to comprehend what they are going through. The loss is overwhelming…painful and raw…
We miss you Derrick, and know that you will be watching over all of us…your soul and spirit will live on…it will bind us together. We will take care of your wife and both of your beautiful children, because we are family and we loved you very much…
I have not kept up with the news this weekend, in fact I have deleted my feeds in my reader without reading them…So today’s links will be just a few to update you all on some items we have followed here on the blog.
Fall is definitely in the air! This has to be the nicest September in New Orleans that I’ve ever experienced. I’m told that a lot of this has to do with with the absence of both La Nina and El Nino. I just know I’m seeing weather I usually can expect in October and I like it!
I’m going to start the morning reads off with Paul Krugman and his NYT blog thread “Hysteresis Begins”. I continue to see signs of recession and it worries me greatly. Our economy is certainly not on the mend in any sense of the word. Krugman continues to put into words exactly what I’ve been feeling.
The slump in the United States and other advanced economies is the result of a failure of demand — period, end of story. All attempts to claim that it is somehow structural, or maybe the result of reduced incentives to produce, have collapsed at first contact with the evidence.
But there is a real concern that if the slump goes on long enough, it can turn into a supply-side problem, because investment will be depressed, reducing future capacity, and because workers who have been unemployed for a long time become unemployable. This is the issue of
And if you look at manufacturing capacity, in particular, you can already see that starting to happen.
I have no idea why this meme has taken hold that it’s lack of confidence because of Obama, lottsa obscure regulations, or high taxes that are causing the current slump. It is definitely none of the above. Businesses do not have customers. Customers do not have incomes or jobs or job security. It’s a demand thing! What on earth do economists have to do to get policy maker’s attention these days? I suppose I could answer that. We’d all have to become corporations, hire lobbyists, and donate to some one’s political campaign.
Rep Emmanuel Cleaver gets it. The black caucus sees the incredible unemployment in the community and understands. Yet, they feel hamstrung to try to do anything about it. That’s a damned shame in my book.
Unhappy members of the Congressional Black Caucus “probably would be marching on the White House” if Obama were not president, according to CBC Chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).
“If [former President] Bill Clinton had been in the White House and had failed to address this problem, we probably would be marching on the White House,” Cleaver told “The Miami Herald” in comments published Sunday. “There is a less-volatile reaction in the CBC because nobody wants to do anything that would empower the people who hate the president.”
CBC members have expressed concern in recent months as the unemployment rate has continued to rise amongst African-Americans, pushing for Obama to do more to address the needs of vulnerable communities.
“We’re supportive of the president, but we getting tired, y’all,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said in August. “We want to give [Obama] every opportunity, but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don’t know what the strategy is.”
The biggest problem is that no one but a few advisers seem to be able to get these points across to the White House. They seem intent on pandering to independents who–as yet–appear unmoved. They’re losing the base and the center. Why can’t they just do the right thing? Just to reinforce the it’s a demand problem idea, here’s the same thought from the chairman of Google who is pushing for more stimulus.
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt called on Washington to think big about solutions for the nation’s struggling economy calling the current emphasis on cutting spending instead of new stimulus “ludicrous.”
The economy would need “not just something like the jobs bill, but also significant government stimulation in terms of buying power and investment,” said Schmidt on ABC”s “This Week” on Sunday.
“Otherwise, we are set up for years of extraordinarily low growth in the economy and no real solution to the jobless problem,” he warned.
“The current strategy is ludicrous. You have a situation where the private sector sees essentially no growth in demand. The classic solution is to have the government step in and, with short-term initiatives, help stimulate that demand. If they do it right, they’ll invest in income and growth producing things like highways and bridges and schools, new opportunities for the private sector to go then build businesses,” proposed Schmidt.
So, I’m getting really disgusted at state of US policy these days; especially the continued attack on women’s rights. I’m going to focus on some good news about women around the world. Have you ever heard of breast ironing? This is a practice in Cameroon and here are some ‘aunties’ that are educating some mothers in the country. The practice is actually done when mothers are concerned their daughters are maturing sexually too early which could subject them to becoming child brides.
Aside from causing burns and permanent deformity this practice also leaves deep psychological scars.
“After (I) have it done, apart from the pain, I felt very, very ashamed. I was ashamed of myself,” said Forghab. “I thought, if my parents are ironing my breasts at that age it means that I am not supposed to have them.”
Despite a daughters’ tears and pleas to stop, mothers continue to perform this practice on their daughters assuring. “It is for their own good,” many mothers say.
But what good? What could possibly be worth justifying such a harmful intervention? Breast ironing is a traditional practice that currently affects about 25 percent of all girls in Cameroon.
More commonly performed in the rural areas than in cities, “breast ironing has existed as long as Cameroon,” says Dr. Sinou Tchana, a Cameroon gynecologist and vice-president of the Cameroonian Association of Female Doctors.
It can seem shocking that mothers, the same mothers who are supposed to love and care for their children, are also the ones hurting them the most by burning their body. But many mothers who still practice breast ironing are hoping to prevent their daughters from getting pregnant at a ‘too-early’ age. What starts as an attempt to protect often leaves girls injured and confused.
“While the minimum legal age for a woman to marry is 15, many families facilitated the marriage of young girls by the age of 12. Early marriage was prevalent in the northern regions of Adamaoua, North, and particularly the remote
Far North, where many girls as young as nine faced severe health risks from pregnancies,” says the U.S. Department of State in a new report on Cameroon.
The good news is that women are taking it on themselves to go around the country to teach women their are other ways to protect their young girls. Please read the article it’s very interesting and I think you’ll love the Women’s News site where I found it! Also, here’s some information on the Self-Employed Women’s Association in India. SEWA has been registered as a trade union since 1972 and works for the right of poor, self-employed women. It’s doing wonderful things over there and I thought you may want to check it out.
Some of the most exciting recent initiatives for SEWA have been the promotion of green livelihoods. SEWA earned an award from the Sierra Club for its work. Here’s some information on what they have done to promote women and environmental sustainability.
More than 60% of SEWA’s membership comes from the rural areas and are poorest of the poor from the most disaster prone areas. Thses women consume less oil and coal based energy, recycle many many items in their daily life, productively reuse solid waste when possible and are eager to use, produce, and manage green technology such on solar lamps.
The many benefits of combining new, green technologies with traditional farming techniques are evident in the success of SEWA’s campaign. Through green Energy and Green livelihood initiative 139,665 members earn average annual total income of Rs.1,175 million. Further SEWA’s effort in this area has not only lead towards green livelihoods but have also worked towards mitigating the effects of climate change. “While the rest of the world talks and negotiates, we the poor women of India cut down carbon emission,” said Reema. “We have learned this power of small concrete act by many from Gandhiji,” she added.
To this end, SEWA has trained 3685 barefoot technician women in water conservation, construction, repairs and deepening of water structure, nursery raising, solid waste recycle, fodder growing, vermicompost production, building eco-friendly rural infrastructures, solar lamp production, developing eco-friendly energy sources, garment production with eco-friendly fabrics and natural dyes, green livelihoods focusing on food security and other environmentally friendly and economically beneficial activities. Demand for such training is ten fold.
Biomass, which was earlier burnt, is now being used as a source of organic manure. More than 13 lakh farmer families have been benefited from these eco-friendly campaigns, 26 Lakh hectares of land are brought under organic cultivation and 2018924 trees have been successfully planted and maintained.
Through these Green Energy and Livelihood Initiatives, SEWA has been at the forefront in promoting green energy and generating green livelihoods in villages.
“If poor and women can take leaps towards green and clean economy the others have excuse to be inactive. May we invite all Indians, and also all Americans, today to catch up?” Reema requested.
Beverly Gage–a history professor at Yale University–wrote an interesting piece in the NYT this weekend called “The Unacknowledged Victories of the American Left” in a book review of Michael Kazin’s “American Dreamers. There’s really not much of a left wing left in the US today, but what is left does have a proud history.
“American Dreamers” is Kazin’s bid to reclaim the left’s utopian spirit for an age of diminished expectations. An editor at Dissent magazine and one of the left’s most eloquent spokesmen, Kazin presents his book as an unapologetic attempt to give the left a history it can celebrate. For more than two centuries, he writes, American radicals have sounded the alarm about crucial injustices — slavery, industrial exploitation, women’s oppression — that the rest of society refused to see. It is time for the left to stand up and take credit for these efforts.
Who is — or was — “the left”? Today, many Americans use the word interchangeably with “liberal.” As Kazin points out, this would have been anathema to earlier generations, when leftists and liberals often viewed each other as ideological foes. For most of the 20th century, liberalism meant tinkering, finding a kinder and gentler way to preserve the status quo. Leftists, by contrast, put their faith in structural change. Kazin’s left includes all those who fought for a “radically egalitarian transformation of society,” from abolitionists to Communists to the modern feminist and gay rights movements.
By far the most important of the early movements was abolition, and abolitionists linger throughout the book as Kazin’s archetypal leftists, prophets and dreamers who saw an injustice and fought to correct it despite the blindness and hostility of the larger society. The best among them practiced what they preached, forming interracial cooperatives and marrying across color lines. They also suffered for their ideals, enduring violence, social ostracism and, in some cases, death. In the end, they were vindicated by history, the ideals that they championed finally inscribed as the nation’s conventional wisdom.
There’s also a fascinating article up at Spiegel On line on the work German scientists are doing on computers studying differences between Neanderthals and modern humans that is worth a look. Here’s more information on ongoing work to determine what was going on back during the time when Neanderthals still walked the earth.
Last year’s decoding of the Neanderthal’s genetic makeup provided strong evidence in support of this thesis. Researchers working under Svante Pääbo, the director of the Department of Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, found that modern Eurasians inherited a small portion of their DNA sequence from Neanderthals . This suggests that the two species of man must have had sexual intercourse.
What’s more, the genetic researchers were also able to narrow down the timeframe of this momentous genetic intermingling. According to their findings, the intercourse took place between 65,000 and 90,000 years after modern man set foot on the Eurasian landmass, presumably on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean.
Scientists are now trying to determine the exact relationship the inhabitants of these Israeli caves had with the forefathers of modern-day Eurasians. In particular, they are examining the fossil remains to see if there are traces of the interaction between the two species.
Okay, so I tried to throw in a little interesting news along with the general economic and political malaise items. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?