Lazy Saturday Reads

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Good Morning!!

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting really sick of bad news. I’ve completely stopped watching TV and listening to radio news, because I just can’t take any more details of wars, plane crashes, dead children. If it weren’t for writing these morning posts, I wouldn’t have a clue what’s happening. I get all my news from Google, Twitter, and various blogs, including Sky Dancing. So I’m going to quickly link to the major stories topping Google this morning, and then I’ll post some interesting longer reads that I came across around the ‘net.

Israel-Palestine Conflict

There’s a 12-hour cease fire in Gaza right now. BBC News has extensive coverage, Gaza conflict: 12-hour truce as deaths top 900.

Residents in Gaza are using a 12-hour humanitarian truce to return to their homes, gather essential supplies and search for those trapped in the rubble.

At least 85 bodies have been pulled from the rubble during the truce, a Palestinian health official says.

That raises the Palestinian death toll to 985 since the Israel-Hamas conflict began on 8 July, the spokesman said. Thirty-nine Israelis have died.

International talks on a longer truce have resumed in Paris.

Israel said it would continue to “locate and neutralise” Hamas tunnels during the pause, which began at 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT).

So far 31 tunnels have been discovered, with about half destroyed, Israeli’s military says.

Lots of details and photos at the BBC link.

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From AP via The Boston Globe, Gaza Sides Agree to Lull But Truce Efforts Stall.

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel-Hamas fighting looked headed for escalation after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry failed Friday to broker a weeklong truce as a first step toward a broader deal and Israel’s defense minister warned Israel might soon expand its Gaza ground operation ‘‘significantly.’’

Hours after the U.S.-led efforts stalled, the two sides agreed to a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire to begin Saturday. However, the temporary lull was unlikely to change the trajectory of the current hostilities amid ominous signs that the Gaza war is spilling over into the West Bank.

In a ‘‘Day of Rage,’’ Palestinians across the territory, which had been relatively calm for years, staged protests against Israel’s Gaza operation and the rising casualty toll there. In the West Bank, at least six Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, hospital officials said.

The latest diplomatic setbacks, after several days of high-level diplomacy in the region, signaled that both sides are digging in and that the fighting in Gaza is likely to drag on.

An op-ed from Al Jazeera, Israel’s war of disproportionate force on Gaza, by Britain Eaken.

The recent killing of four Palestinian children by an Israeli airstrike while they played soccer on a beach in Gaza should call into question Israel’s claim that it’s waging a war of self-defense. Western journalists who saw the attack witnessed firsthand an ugly reality of life in Gaza — Palestinian civilians are too often caught in the crossfire in this tiny, densely populated and besieged coastal strip.

Early Sunday, an Israeli incursion into the Shujayea neighborhood in Gaza killed at least 60 more Palestinians. Most of the injuries being treated at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital belong to civilians suffering from shrapnel injuries and amputations. More than 100 children have been killed so far and the Palestinian death toll just surpassed 400 with more than 3000 injured.

The UN says more than 70 percent of Palestinian casualties are civilians, a marked increase from previous Israeli assaults.

The toll on civilians has raised United Nations’ concerns of the Israeli use of disproportionate force in Gaza in violation of international humanitarian law. But the use of disproportionate force and the targeting of civilian infrastructure isn’t a new or surprising tactic for Israel. In fact, it’s a primary strategy according to Gabi Siboni, head of the Military and Strategic Affairs program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel. This strategy has a well-documented history in Gaza.

I have no words.

Libya

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Yes, there’s still fighting in Libya, and the violence is getting so bad than the U.S. has closed and evacuated its embassy there. NPR reports: U.S. Embassy Compound In Libya Shut Down Amid Fighting.

The U.S. has closed its embassy in Libya and evacuated diplomats amid what is being described as a significant deterioration in security, with rival militant factions battling in the capital, Tripoli.

“Due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, we have temporarily relocated all of our personnel out of Libya,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

“Securing our facilities and ensuring the safety of our personnel are top department priorities, and we did not make this decision lightly,” Harf said. “Security has to come first. Regrettably, we had to take this step because the location of our embassy is in very close proximity to intense fighting and ongoing violence between armed Libyan factions.”

In a separate statement, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said: “[All] embassy personnel were relocated, including Marine security guards who were providing security at the embassy during the movement.”

AP via ABC News: US Evacuates Embassy in Libya Amid Clashes.

The United States shut down its embassy in Libya on Saturday and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort amid a significant deterioration in security in Tripoli as fighting intensified between rival militias, the State Department said….

The evacuation was accompanied by the release of a new State Department travel warning for Libya urging Americans not to go to the country and recommending that those already there leave immediately. “The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security,” it said. “Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including antiaircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation.” ….

“We are committed to supporting the Libyan people during this challenging time, and are currently exploring options for a permanent return to Tripoli as soon as the security situation on the ground improves. In the interim, staff will operate from Washington and other posts in the region,” Harf said. The evacuated staffers will continue to work on Libya issues in Tunis, elsewhere in North Africa and Washington.

Ukraine

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Ukraine is still roiling, but it seems to have receded into the background for the moment. Here are a few headlines just to keep you current.

Fox News: Ukraine crisis: European Union hits Russian intelligence chiefs with sanctions.

WaPo: Russia, Ukraine trade accusations of cross-border shelling.

Bloomberg: U.S. Says Russia Set to Supply New Arms to Ukraine Rebels.

The Economist: The shooting down of an airliner shows how reckless Vladimir Putin’s sponsorship of Ukrainian rebels has been.

From the WaPo editorial board: If the West doesn’t do more for Ukraine now, it might soon be too late.

From the Are You Kidding Me? File

From the LA Times: White House aide says Republicans might impeach Obama over immigration.

Pesident Obama will propose broad-ranging executive action on immigration reform later this summer that could provoke Republicans into trying to impeach him, a senior White House official said Friday.

While details of the immigration plan are still being worked on, it will mark “an important step in the arc of the presidency” that will shape both the substance and politics of immigration policy for years, White House senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

That move is certain to “increase the angry reaction from Republicans” who already accuse Obama of exceeding his executive authority, Pfeiffer said, highlighting recent statements by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in which she backed an impeachment move.

“I would not discount the possibility” that Republicans would seek to impeach Obama, he said, adding that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has “opened the door to impeachment” by his plans to sue Obama for allegedly exceeding his executive authority.

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Is this just an effort by the White House to put the impeachment question out there so Americans can let the GOP what they think about it? The Hill reports: White House taking impeachment seriously.

Senior White House advisers are taking very seriously the possibility that Republicans in Congress will try to impeach President Obama, especially if he takes executive action to slow deportations.

Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to Obama, said Friday that the White House is taking the prospect of impeachment in the GOP-controlled House more seriously than many others in Washington, who see it as unlikely.

Pfeiffer noted that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has a large following among Tea Party conservatives, has called for Obama’s impeachment and a large block of the GOP’s base favors it.

“I saw a poll today that had a huge portion of the Republican Party base saying they supported impeaching the president. A lot of people in this town laugh that off. I would not discount that possibility,” he told reporters Friday at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.

Pfeiffer said Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) decision to file a lawsuit against Obama over his use of executive actions increased the chance of impeachment proceedings in the future.

A little reality testing from Sean Sullivan at the WaPo: These two numbers show why impeachment talk is trouble for the GOP.

By about 2-1, Americans say they don’t think President Obama should be impeached and removed from office, according to a new CNN/ORC International poll released Friday.

But a majority of Republicans disagree.

That, in a nutshell, is why talk about impeaching the president is nothing but trouble for the GOP heading toward the November midterms.

Sixty-five percent of Americans say Obama should not be impeached, compared to just 33 percent who say he should. Very one-sided. It’s clear that impeachment is a political loser when it comes to the public as a whole.

The “public as a whole” numbers matter because with most of the consequential primaries behind us, Republican candidates in key Senate races — the battle for the Senate is the main midterm event — have to be concerned about playing to broad statewide audiences.

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Some (mostly) longer reads

These aren’t all that cheery either, but they are interesting.

This one from the NYT Sunday Magazine is for Dakinikat: Why Do Americans Stink at Math?

Why do people leave their kids in hot cars? How can you forget you’ve got your kid with you? I just don’t get it, and it makes me furious! There’s a long article about these cases at NBC News, Fatal Mistake: What Everyone Should Know About Hot Car Deaths, by Alex Johnson.

This NYT op-ed isn’t a long read, but it’s a useful one: Why the Border Crisis Is a Myth, by Veronica Escobar.

Remember all that talk about how there was going to be some kind of horrible disaster in 2012? Well it turns out that something awful almost happened. From NASA Science News,  Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012. If you don’t want to wade through the whole article, The Boston Globe has a shorter summary, Apparently Earth ‘Just Missed’ a Solar Superstorm in 2012.

Finally, something entertaining and not depressing, This Is What Happens When You Ask Contemporary Artists To Reimagine Maps Of The World. Check it out!

What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread.

 


Sunday Reads: GOP Pigs and Spots in Space…

$(KGrHqEOKnIE44R2dbwLBOWl4kko9w~~_35Good Morning!

It is the first Sunday in December, the year has gone by so damn fast. There has been all sorts of juicy items in the news, and I’ve got plenty of articles to share with you this morning.

Let us start of with several links on foreign policy, Hillary Clinton has been extremely busy in her final leg as Secretary of State.

The recent UN decision to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state has sparked another confrontational response from Israel. After the UN vote was announced an Israeli official made a statement that included the government backed settlement and construction of 3,000 new West Bank units.

The Daily Beast/Newsweek has a post up, Explaining Israel’s Reaction to the U.N.’s pro-Palestinian Vote

Israel’s leaders stayed surprisingly calm last week. In the weeks leading up to Thursday’s vote on upgrading the Palestinians’ U.N. membership, a few senior Israeli officials drafted a position paper focusing on how the government should respond. The U.N. move, the writers warned, threatened to “severely damage” Israel’s credibility and undermine the Jewish state’s position in future peace negotiations. But more than that, they added, the initiative could open the door to war-crimes prosecutions against Israelis at the International Criminal Court. The five-page paper, dated Nov. 12 and obtained by Newsweek, advised that if the vote went ahead, Israel should “exact a heavy price” from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas—a price to include dismantling his Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority. “A softer approach would amount to waving a white flag and admitting that the Israeli leadership is unable to rise to the challenge,” the writers concluded.

The upgrade, which the General Assembly approved last week by a huge majority, is a bitter pill for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It includes not only a boost in the Palestinians’ status from (U.N. jargon alert!) “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state,” but also a recognition of their right to all of the West Bank and Gaza, including territory that Israelis have settled since 1967. Even some dovish Israelis have problems with the resolution’s sweep. And yet Israel’s response—a dismissive statement from the prime minister and the floating of plans to build thousands of new housing units in the West Bank—fell well short of the threats to topple Abbas. “This is a meaningless resolution that won’t change anything on the ground,” Netanyahu said in a handout just before the vote.

Clinton has made it clear that she was not pleased with Israel’s decision to expand settlements further into the West Bank. New Israeli Settlements Set Back Peace, Clinton Says

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Israeli plans for new settlements near East Jerusalem do not help efforts to bring about a two-state solution to the Palestinian crisis.

Clinton told Israeli officials in Washington that plans for new settlements abutting East Jerusalem “set back the cause of a negotiated peace.”

“We all need to work together to find a path forward in negotiations that can finally deliver on a two-state solution. That must remain our goal,” Clinton said.

Clinton continued her remarks,

“President Abbas took a step in the wrong direction this week,” Clinton said. “We opposed his resolution. But we also need to see that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank still offers the most compelling alternative to rockets and permanent resistance.”

She says Palestinian Authority leaders deserve credit for real achievements on the ground — making their streets safe, overhauling governing institutions and cooperating with Israel to help enhance Israeli security.

“At a time when religious extremists claim to offer rewards in the hereafter, Israel needs to help those committed to peace deliver for their people in the here and now,” Clinton said.

When Israeli and Palestinian leaders are ready to return to direct negotiations, Secretary Clinton says President Barack Obama will be a full partner.

She says the United States stand ready to help Israel make more permanent its cease-fire with Hamas forces in Gaza. But that requires the continued cooperation of the new Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.

“We look to Egypt to intensify its efforts to crack down on weapons smuggling from Libya and Sudan into Gaza,” Clinton said. “I am convinced that if more rockets are allowed to enter Gaza through the tunnels, that will certainly pave the way for more fighting again soon.”

After Clinton made this statement she was joined in agreement by the British Foreign Secretary William Hague: Clinton and Hague attack Israel decision to build new settlements both,

…have launched attacks on an Israeli decision to build fresh settlements on occupied territory in the West Bank.

The Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu‘s decision to approve the construction of 3,000 new homes is widely seen as a response to the United Nations vote earlier this week that recognised a Palestinian bid to be a “non-member observer state”.

The US, with Israel, strongly opposed that move, while Britain abstained in the vote. But now both countries have criticised the Israeli settlement decision, saying it hurts the chances of a two-state solution and the search for peace in the troubled region.

Hague’s comments were the following.

Hague said he was “extremely concerned” at the plans, which have been reported in the Israeli press as including a four-square-mile area just east of Jerusalem that is seen as vital to keeping open a viable land corridor between the city and any future Palestinian state.

Hague asked Israel to reverse the decision and said the prospect of a successful two solution was receding. “Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and undermine trust between the parties,” he said in comments Saturday. “If implemented, these plans would alter the situation on the ground on a scale that makes the two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, increasingly difficult to achieve.”

Hague added: “They would undermine Israel’s international reputation and create doubts about its stated commitment to achieving peace with the Palestinians.”

Sticking with Foreign Policy, I thought this was an interesting piece written by Stephen M. Walt. Never underestimate the power of confusion

If you read this blog, you’ve probably heard about the various “isms” in the field of international relations. There’s realism, of course, but also liberalism, idealism, and social constructivism. And don’t forget Marxism, even though hardly anybody claims to believe it anymore. These “isms” are essentially families of theory that share certain common assumptions. For example, realists see power and fear as the main drivers of world affairs, while liberals place more weight on human acquisitiveness and the power of institutions.

But there’s another major force in world affairs, and sometimes I think it deserves an “ism” all its own. With tongue in cheek and apologies to a famous Chinese sage, I’ll call it “Confusionism.” For Confusians, ignorance and stupidity are the real key to understanding state behavior, not fear, greed, ideals, class interests, or any of those other things that people think drive world affairs. When Confusians seek to explain why states act as they do, they start by assuming that leaders do not understand the problems they face, have only a vague sense of where they want to go, and no idea at all about how to get there. Instead of starting with the rational actor assumption beloved by economists, realists, and most liberals, Confusians hone in on all the reasons why humans typically get things wrong.

Hmmm, “isms” (aren’t those the things right-wing southern secessionist dislike?)

Confusionism is the opposite of the assorted conspiracy theories that you often read about. Some people believe that the world is run by a shadowy network of elites (e.g., the Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg, Council on Foreign Relations, etc.). Other people think everything is ultimately the product of some secret Zionist conspiracy, or the machinations of oil companies and the military-industrial complex. Islamophobes are convinced there is some sort of well-oiled Muslim plot to infiltrate Europe and America, impose Sharia law, and stick all our young women in harems. If you read enough Robert Ludlum, watch The Matrix too often, or spend enough time patrolling the nether regions of the blogosphere, you might find yourself thinking along similar lines. If that happens, get help.

Okay, that is the first three paragraphs, just go read the whole thing will ya?

There is one thing I am grateful for these last four years, and that is Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. I will miss her tremendously when she retires at the start of Obama’s second term, and personally, I would feel more comfortable with John Kerry as SoS…but that is another story. Anyway, Clinton’s replacement will reveal new US foreign policy direction

With the imminent retirement of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, much speculation has arisen in Washington concerning her replacement. No matter whom the president chooses to nominate for the post, the political process of confirmation by the US Senate is sure to reveal much about the mindset of Republicans and Democrats entering Obama’s second term, and will certainly indicate the direction of US foreign policy in coming years.

Following President Barack Obama’s reelection, it was widely believed that US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice would be the president’s nominee to succeed Clinton.

With impeccable academic credentials, and experience as an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton White House, Rice is more than qualified. Rice is known for her direct and idealistic style of negotiation, and her less conciliatory, more confrontational style would likely take the practice of US foreign policy in a different direction than that charted by Clinton’s more pragmatic approach.

A greater and more direct US role in Middle Eastern affairs, and more emphasis on the role of foreign governments in human rights abuses and issues of social justice would likely mark the tenure of Rice.

Supposedly, there are rumors that Hillary is not thrilled with the prospect of Susan Rice replacing her at the Department of State. According to  Michael Sneed: Hillary Clinton no fan of Susan Rice, prefers Kerry for State

The big question: Who would Secretary of State Hillary Clinton like to get her job?

It ain’t embattled U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who is dealing with the way she handled the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that led to the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Sneed is told if Hillary had to choose between Rice and U.S. Sen. John Kerry, who is head of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, she would prefer Kerry.

“Hillary is not close to Rice, who is tough — but is not the friendliest person,” said a top White House source. “And Hillary’s brief comment recently that Rice had done ‘a great job’ was considered underwhelming and tepid,” the source added.

Yes, that bit of gossip is followed by a story on Kate Middleton, but it does go along the lines of how I think many of us perceive the situation…that Kerry would be a better fit after Clinton.

Okay, enough on Foreign Affairs and Policy, before we go on to other stories…take a quick look at this from Tommy Christopher: Persistent Romnesia: Former Mitt Romney Chief Strategist Says ‘Nobody Liked Romney Except Voters’

If the recent fiscal cliff/Susan Rice piñata party news doldrums have got you down, take a break with what has to be the first published example of a resignation letter from every future job. Former Romney campaign chief strategist Stuart Stevens has penned the most deluded piece of writing since Norma Desmond filled out an order for new headshots. In a hilarious op-ed for The Washington Post, Stevens explains, among other things, that “Nobody liked Romney except voters.”

I know that BB wrote a great post on the “delusions” of the GOP and Romney’s camp, but anything that can make a reference to Sunset Blvd is too good to ignore.

And when it comes to the GOP, not only are they delusional…they are cruel. How One GOP Plutocrat Helped Make 20,000 Kids Homeless

Homelessness in New York has skyrocketed, thanks in part to years of conservative policy predicated on right-wing ideology.

There are   20,000 kids  sleeping in homeless shelters in New York City, according to the city’s latest estimate, a number that does not include homeless kids who are  not sleeping in shelters because their families have been turned away. Up to 65 percent of families who apply for  shelter don’t get in , and their options can be grim.

“Some end up sleeping in subway trains,” Patrick Markee, senior policy analyst at Coalition for the Homeless, tells AlterNet. “Some go to hospital emergency rooms or laundromats. Women are going back to their batterers or staying in unsafe apartments.”

Families that make it into shelters are taking longer to leave and move into stable, permanent housing. Asked by reporters why families were staying  30% longer than even last year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “… it is a much more pleasurable experience than they ever had before.”

“Is it great?”  He elaborated a day  later in response to outcry over his comments. “No. It’s not the Plaza Hotel … but that’s not what shelter is supposed to be and that’s not what the public can afford or the public wants.”

The above alternet story has many pages, it is important that you read them all. I have one more story related to the homeless. Winter problem: More homeless are living in cars

Phil Bell sleeps under three sleeping bags and two blankets in the back seat of his 1998 Buick. He parks outside truck stops and stores that are open 24 hours and rarely turns on his engine.

“You can’t leave the car running because it calls attention to you and burns too much gas,” he explains. “Being in the car is better than being outside or in a tent, but it gets really cold.”

Bell, 39, has been homeless since September. He was laid off by a Detroit auto parts maker and couldn’t pay his rent. He loaded his possessions into his car and took off. He made it this far and is looking for work here.

“I’m lucky,” Bell says. “At least I’ve got the car. Most people out here on the streets don’t have anything.”

I know these are long reads…if you can’t read them all in one shot, book mark them for later.

Now let’s get on with the easy Sunday reads, after the jump.

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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…

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Day before Turkey Day…

Good Evening…

Many of you are probably getting ready for a feast tomorrow…I’ve got our turkey defrosting in a pot of water now, and I am not looking forward to sticking that bird in a hot over…babysitting it for hours. Nope, I don’t have any holiday spirit at all this year, which come to think of it, I didn’t have it last year either.

Here are a few items of interest off the Memeorandum site:

The GOP is pushing to repeal Obamacare…nothing ever changes.  Shame of it all is that if Obama fought and passed the single-payer option, things would be much better for everyone. Anyway, you can read it here:  White House To Boehner: Obamacare Not Part Of Fiscal Cliff Deal

The Republicans are also taking to attacking Obama’s foreign policy again as well, and again I say, nothing ever changes.  GOP Senators Attack Obama, Praise Egyptian President In Statement On Gaza Ceasefire

And one more story from the headlines, Soledad O’Brien kicks ass and takes names…fortunately for us, her style of journalism and integrity never changes either.  CNN Host Exposes GOP’s Hypocrisy On Benghazi

O’BRIEN: I have asked others before how this does not compare, the Susan Rice issue, to the Condoleezza Rice issue on weapons of mass destruction. She was also wrong when she was the national security adviser, right? … Fast forward three years in 2005 when she was up to be secretary of state, it was Lindsey Graham who was furious that the Democrats were pushing back. It was Sen John mccain who were furious that the Democrats were pushing back on Condoleezza Rice to be Secretary of State. She was wrong on weapons of mass destruction. How is this different?

BURGESS: The difference is the scrutiny provided by our free press in this country. Condoleezza Rice was exposed to withering criticism by the press. I don’t see that happening now. Maybe I’ve missed something in the talking points, but I don’t see that happening. ….

O’BRIEN: So you’re confusing me there for a moment. When you say the scrutiny on the press — are you saying five days after comments of weapons of mass destruction, you feel like the media was picking apart Condoleezza Rice? I don’t think that’s true, Sir. Most people say that’s not the case. It took a long time. …. Hey, I’m all about scrutiny. I guess I like consistency, too. You were not calling for more scrutiny and you weren’t saying that the fact that Condoleezza Rice was wrong on weapons of mass destruction was going to damage her credibility as secretary of state. Again, McCain and Lindsey Graham were supporting that. It seems contradictory to me.

BURGESS: You’ll have to take that up with Senator McCain and Senator Graham.

Now I will bring you three links that are not getting much notice around the political blog scene…pity this first one is being missed by most of the right-wing crowd, there is something funny about a bunch of monkeys being smarter than the folks chosen to represent the people. (I guess that does not say much for the ones who put them in office in the first place.) h/t FDL

Frans de Waal shows us a task he gave Capuchin monkeys to see if they responded to a sense of fairness. For the full video see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcJxRqTs5nk

Frans de Waal is a Dutch primatologist and ethologist. He is the Charles Howard Candler professor of Primate Behavior in the Emory University psychology department in Atlanta, Georgia, and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and author of numerous books including Chimpanzee Politics and Our Inner Ape. His research centers on primate social behavior, including conflict resolution, cooperation, inequity aversion, and food-sharing. He is a Member of the United States National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences.

So, monkeys can understand the concept of equal pay…why can’t we just get some of these primates elected to Congress?

My daughter suffers from this next disorder…I do too, Math Anxiety: The Brain Can Feel The Pain

Worry about math can trigger regions of the brain associated with the experience of physical pain and instinctive risk detection, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and published in PLOS ONE.

Ian Lyons and his team of researchers discovered that in people who experience high levels of anxiety when anticipating math tasks, encountering math increases activity in regions of the brain connected with the feeling of physical pain. The more elevated a person’s math anxiety, the greater the appearance of neural activity is.

The investigators explained, “We provide the first neural evidence indicating the nature of the subjective experience of math-anxiety.”

Take a look, it is interesting to read about the way math-anxiety affects the brain.

There is one thing I do know, none of these Nasa scientist do not suffer from any form of math-anxiety. Curiosity Rover’s Secret Historic Breakthrough? Speculation Centers on Organic Molecules

Much of the internet isbuzzing over upcoming “big news” from NASA’s Curiosity rover, but the space agency’s scientists are keeping quiet about the details.

The report comes by way of the rover’s principal investigator, geologist John Grotzinger of Caltech, who said that Curiosity has uncovered exciting new results from a sample of Martian soil recently scooped up and placed in the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.

“This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good,” Grotzinger told NPR in an segment published Nov. 20. Curiosity’s SAM instrument contains a vast array of tools that can vaporize soil and rocks to analyze them and measure the abundances of certain light elements such as carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen – chemicals typically associated with life.

The mystery will be revealed shortly, though. Grotzinger told Wired through e-mail that NASA would hold a press conference about the results during the 2012 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco from Dec. 3 to 7. Because it’s so potentially earth-shaking, Grotzinger said the team remains cautious and is checking and double-checking their results. But while NASA is refusing to discuss the findings with anyone outside the team, especially reporters, other scientists are free to speculate.

“If it’s going in the history books, organic material is what I expect,” says planetary scientist Peter Smith from the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. Smith is formerly the principal investigator on a previous Mars mission, the Phoenix lander, which touched down at the Martian North Pole in 2008. “It may be just a hint, but even a hint would be exciting.”

Well, it sounds like whatever it is, it is going to be neat as hell!

That is all I have for you tonight, I gotta go squeeze the fresh lime, lemon and oranges to make the “sour orange” marinade.

Hope you all have a wonderful and safe day tomorrow, enjoy the time with your families.

This is an open thread.


Sunday Reads: Venus Fly-Trap, Irish Women, Liz and Dick

Good Morning

**Updated @ 1:40pm**

The world is smaller these days, internet and social media like twitter and Facebook bring people far away closer to us every day. One of my “Facebook Friends” who is an amazing bead weaver, lives in Tel Aviv. Her house suffered a direct hit by a missile early yesterday, fortunately no injuries…but the roof caved in and all the windows in the house were blown out. She has been posting quick updates to her FB page, mentioning the sounds of war just outside her home…talking about the stress of wondering if, or as it turned out, when it would be her family’s turn to experience the latest fight first hand.

I think these kinds of connections bring events like the war between Israel and Gaza home to many people who may not have been only slightly interested or barely aware of this escalating situation in the Mideast. I would post pictures of her house after being hit by a rocket, but she hasn’t posted any updates since early yesterday morning. I just hope Miriam is okay and safe.

** Update**

My FB friend posted an update to her status earlier today, here is what she said:

After a sleepless night I got up to take stock of the extensive damage caused by last nights attack..Daylight revealed just how bad it was and how lucky I am to be alive. Broken glass and debris everywhere, I don’t know where to start…This morning I find my beads covered in debris and dust, work in progress ruined…the car damaged…doors torn out of their frames…Still, I live to see another day, which is more than other people can say so I am thankful. I just want peace for us all. THANK YOU so much for your prayers and concern, you fill my heart with hope! ♥

I am relieved that she is okay, and I hope she stays safe and gets her wish of peace for everyone.

The reason I mention my artist friend is because I wanted to bring the next few links about Gaza and Israel into perspective.

Here are some recent updates on Israel and Hamas, the articles are rather involved so I will just post the first paragraphs and I urge you to go and read them in full:

Stop pretending the US is an uninvolved, helpless party in the Israeli assault on Gaza | Glenn Greenwald

A Palestinian man carries a wounded child in Gaza

A Palestinian man carries a wounded child at a hospital following an Israeli air raid in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, on November 17, 2012. Photograph: Moiz Salhi/AFP/Getty Images

(updated below)

A central premise of US media coverage of the Israeli attack on Gaza – beyond the claim that Israel is justifiably “defending itself” – is that this is some endless conflict between two foreign entitles, and Americans can simply sit by helplessly and lament the tragedy of it all. The reality is precisely the opposite: Israeli aggression is possible only because of direct, affirmative, unstinting US diplomatic, financial and military support for Israel and everything it does. This self-flattering depiction of the US as uninvolved, neutral party is the worst media fiction since TV news personalities covered the Arab Spring by pretending that the US is and long has been on the side of the heroic democratic protesters, rather than the key force that spent decades propping up the tyrannies they were fighting.

I will however, include this update on the Greenwald piece, which mentions this quote below:

7:55 P.M. Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Israel’s operation in Gaza: “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for forty years.”

To which, Greenwald says this:

Let me know if any of the US Sunday talk shows mention that tomorrow during their discussions of this “operation”.

From the Boston Globe: Israel launches scores of airstrikes into Gaza

Israel broadened its assault on the Gaza Strip on Saturday from mostly military targets to centers of government infrastructure, obliterating the four-story headquarters of the Hamas prime minister with a barrage of five bombs before dawn.

The attack, one of several on government installations, came a day after the prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, hosted his Egyptian counterpart in that building, a sign of Hamas’ new legitimacy in a radically redrawn Arab world. That stature was underscored Saturday by a visit to Gaza from the Tunisian foreign minister and the rapid convergence in Cairo of two Hamas allies, the prime minister of Turkey and the crown prince of Qatar, for talks with the Egyptian president and the chairman of Hamas on a possible cease-fire.

But as the fighting ended its fourth day, with Israel continuing preparations for a ground invasion, the conflict showed no sign of abating. Gaza militants again fired long-range missiles at Tel Aviv, among nearly 60 that soared into Israel on Saturday. Israel said it hit more than 200 targets overnight in Gaza, and continued with afternoon strikes on the home of a Hamas commander and on a motorcycle-riding militant.

From Haaretz Daily Newspaper, Let’s try something new

The Palestinian people want to be free of the occupation. Life is like that sometimes. But how to accomplish that? At first they tried doing nothing. For 20 years they were idle, and indeed nothing happened. They then tried rocks and knives, the first intifada. And still nothing happened, except for the Oslo Accords, which did not change the fundamental nature of the occupation. After that, they tried a vicious intifada: again, nothing. They made a stab at diplomacy; still nothing, the occupation went on as before.

From Al Jazeera English, Israel continues deadly Gaza air raids

Israel and Palestinian fighters have traded air strikes and rockets for a fourth day, with Israel hitting the Hamas prime minister’s office and also downing a rocket aimed at Tel Aviv.

The death toll from the conflict climbed on Saturday to 45: 40 Palestinians, at least 13 of them civilians, including women and children, and three Israeli civilians.

At least eight people were killed and dozens more injured by overnight attacks on the Gaza Strip.

From the New York Times: Arms With a Long Reach Help Hamas

Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times

A child watches from a field near Ashdod, Israel, as a missile is fired to intercept an incoming Palestinian rocket. About 30 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Saturday morning.

And now I will move on to Ireland, and a few updates on a story we have followed here on Sky D.

Thousands March for Abortion Rights in Ireland

About 10,000 people marched through Dublin and observed a minute’s silence Saturday in memory of the Indian dentist who died of blood poisoning in an Irish hospital after being denied an abortion.

Marchers, many of them mothers and daughters walking side by side, chanted “Never again!” and held pictures of Savita Halappanavar as they paraded across the city to stage a nighttime candlelit vigil outside the office of Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

‘Change your abortion law to save lives’ grieving father tells Irish PM

Praveen and Savita Halappanavar.

Praveen and Savita Halappanavar during their wedding four years ago.

The father of the young woman who died after being refused an emergency abortion in Ireland has appealed directly to the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, to change the country’s legislation on abortion.

Interviewed by the Observer, Andanappa Yalagi issued a personal plea to Kenny: “Sir, please change your law and take consideration of humanity. Please change the law on abortion, which will help to save the lives of so many women in the future.”

Mr Yalagi also says he will take legal action against the hospital to try to prevent future acts of “inhumanity”. He and his wife, Akkamahadevi, expressed fury at the way in which Savita Halappanavar, 31, had been treated and revealed that no one from the hospital nor the Irish government had been in touch to express any remorse for the death of their only daughter. “I want to take legal action against them over the inhumane way they treated my daughter,” said Mr Yalagi, speaking at his home in the southern Indian town of Belgaum.

Ireland says won’t be rushed into decision on abortion rig – The Times of India

Ireland has said it will not be rushed into an immediate decision on right to abortion even as it assured India that an independent medical professional will assist the enquiry into the death of an Indian national who was refused termination of her pregnancy despite miscarrying.

The Indian envoy to Ireland , Debashish Chakravarti , met Ireland’s deputy PM and foreign minister Eamon Gilmore on Friday to convey the “deep concern” of Indian government at the death of Dr Savita Halappanavar expressing hope that steps would be taken so as not to allow such an incident to recur.

[...]

According to the foreign ministry, Gilmore conveyed deepest sympathies of Ireland for the death of Halappanavar and requested that these be conveyed to the family . He indicated that they were sensitive to the impact of the tragedy on public opinion and civil society.

He said the investigation would be completed at an early date and the Irish side would work closely with the Indian mission.

Meanwhile, Irish PM Enda Kenny has said he is awaiting a report by an expert group on the issue but will not be rushed into an immediate decision on right to abortion. Kenny said his government would go through the report and indicated it will take its own time in arriving at a decision.

Thousands protest in Ireland to liberalize abortion laws – CSMonitor.com

Several thousand abortion rights protesters march through central Dublin on Saturday, demanding that Ireland’s government ensures that abortions can be performed to save a woman’s life.

March organizers claim a turnout of 20,000, but Irish police gave a figure of 6,000. Either way, the march was unusually large by Irish standards, wending its war from the Garden of Remembrance, a national independence  memorial, to Ireland’s parliament, DáIl Éireann, just over a mile away.

“The mood was somber and angry and determined,” says Wendy Lyon, a feminist activist and trainee attorney who attended the demonstration. “The sense was there has to be a turning point. That things can’t be allowed to go on without change. Enough is enough, basically.”

Ms. Lyon says Halappanavar’s death has resulted in a sea-change in Irish opinion, politicizing the previously apolitical: “I think the people really have shifted on it. I’ve spoken to people who were hesitant before but said something had to be done.”

Irish demand reform to abortion law

It is already clear that the Irish government will have to bow to public opinion. One minister admitted “action in some shape or form” will be taken. Dublin has also been under pressure from the European Court of Human Rights which has handed down a judgment criticising the Republic’s current law on abortion.

I realize that was just links with no commentary on the news out of Ireland, y’all know how I feel about this torturous death Savita experienced. I just can’t say any more about it.

Hundreds of Irish women go to England to obtain a legal abortion…an extreme hardship these women must face just to be able to have control over their own bodies. It is outrageous that the Catholic church will use all the power at their disposal to fight against a women’s right to choose or control their own bodies…when they purposely cover up and support pedophile priest, like this one from right here in Banjoville.

Former NE Ga. priest jailed in ’91 abuse case

A Roman Catholic priest accused of taking a 10-year-old boy to West Virginia for sex more than two decades ago was jailed on Thursday.

The Rev. Robert Poandl previously worked at St. Luke’s in Dahlonega, St. Paul the Apostle in Cleveland from 1979 to 1981 and St. Francis of Assisi in Blairsville from 1979 to 1988.

Poandl was most recently at the Cincinnati-based Glenmary Home Missioners, and is now in Butler County Jail in southwest Ohio following an order by a federal magistrate judge that he be taken into custody.

Poandl was here in Georgia until this year,

In February, Glenmary said it had relieved Poandl of his ministerial duties in Georgia and asked him to return to the Glenmary residence in Cincinnati.

Poandl has been living under what the order calls “a safety plan” at the Cincinnati residence and has not been functioning as a priest, Glenmary’s statement said.

According to the St Francis of Assisi Church’s website:

The history of the Catholic Church in Union and Towns Counties is your story – for you are the people who continue to respond in faith and love. To quote Fr. Bob Poandl, “Thank you for being a part of this history by living as part of Christ’s Body.”

Poandl was the church’s first pastor…it is sickening to see this crap hit so close to home.

I will post a few more interesting links below, because this post is getting long. These are articles about Walmart…

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price | Occupy America

The richest people in America: The owners of Wal-Mart — six members of the Walton family — are all on the list of Forbes 400 richest people in America. Combined, the Waltons have a net worth equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans. They are all children or children-in-law of the founders of Walmart. Six people. As much wealth as 30 percent of all the people in America. The Waltons are now collectively worth about $93 billion, according to Forbes.

Wal-Mart employs more people than any other company in the United States outside of the Federal government, yet the majority of its employees with children live below the poverty line.

[...]

in 2004, a study released the UC Berkeley Labor Center found that “reliance by Wal-Mart workers on public assistance programs in California comes at a cost to taxpayers of an estimated $86 million annually; this is comprised of $32 million in health related expenses and $54 million in other assistance. Source: Ken Jacobs and Arindrajit Dube, “Hidden Costs of Wal-Mart Jobs”[PDF file], UC Berkeley Labor Center.

Wal-Mart dismissed the findings of the UC Berkeley study, “Hidden Costs of Wal-Mart Jobs,” as a “union hit piece.” However, text from Wal-Mart’s own internal memo substantially corroborates their findings.

An excerpt from the memo states:

“We also have a significant number of Associates and their children who receive health insurance through public-assistance programs. Five percent of our Associates are on Medicaid compared to an average for national employers of 4 percent. Twenty-seven percent of Associates’ children are on such programs, compared to a national average of 22 percent. In total, 46 percent of Associates’ children are either on Medicaid or are uninsured.”

Source: Wal-Mart Internal Memo [PDF File], via New York Times

A few statistics on exactly how many children of Wal-Mart of employees receive state-funded health care, and the cost to those states:

- FLORIDA: 12,300 WAL-MART Workers and their Dependents on Medicaid

- GEORGIA: 10,261 Children of WAL-MART Employees are Enrolled in PeachCare for Kids

- WISCONSIN: 1,252 WAL-MART Employees and Dependents on BadgerCare

Why are states subsidizing health care for Wal-Mart employees when the Walton family are all in the top ten wealthiest people in the entire nation? I’m not complaining that these families are getting health care, everyone deserves health care, but the Walton’s should be ashamed that they aren’t providing it.

WAL-MART Costs Taxpayers $1,557,000,000,00 to Support its Employees

“The Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce estimates that one 200-person Wal-Mart store may result in a cost to federal taxpayers of $420,750 per year – about $2,103 per employee. Specifically, the low wages result in the following additional public costs being passed along to taxpayers:

- $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.
– $42,000 a year for Section 8 housing assistance, assuming 3 percent of the store employees qualify for such assistance, at $6,700 per family.
– $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families, assuming 50 employees are heads of household with a child and 50 are married with two children.
– $100,000 a year for the additional Title I expenses, assuming 50 Wal-Mart families qualify with an average of 2 children.
– $108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children’s health insurance programs (S-CHIP), assuming 30 employees with an average of two children qualify.
$9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.”

The total figure is based on the average $420,750 per-store figure, multiplied by 3700 (the approximate number of stores currently in the United States).

Source: Rep. George Miller / Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, “Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart”, February 16, 2004.

And then there is this:

Walmart’s Internal Compensation Documents Reveal Systematic Limit On Advancement

Two years ago, when she started working at the deli counter of a Walmart in Illinois, Lisa hoped that her job would amount to the beginning of a career, one that would pay enough to cover her bills and enable her to stay current on her student loan debt.

But despite one raise since, Lisa, who asked that only her first name be used, now earns just $9.10 an hour, or about $13,000 a year on part-time hours. Seven months pregnant, she recently filed for bankruptcy. With no alternatives at hand, Walmart now seems like a dead-end to poverty, she says.

“I don’t have underwear without holes in them,” she said. “Everyone at work wears T-shirts that are threadbare. I have just enough to eat and get gas to make it to work for the next two weeks.”

Stories like Lisa’s are even backed up by Walmarts own internal documents.

are confirmed by Walmart’s official compensation policy, an internal company document obtained by The Huffington Post, titled the “Field Non-Exempt Associate Pay Plan Fiscal Year 2013.” The plan details a rigid pay structure for hourly employees that makes it difficult for most to rise much beyond poverty-level wages.

Low-level workers typically start near minimum wage, and have the potential to earn raises of 20 to 40 cents an hour through incremental promotions. Flawless performance merits a 60 cent raise per year under the policy, regardless of how much time an employee has worked for the company. [Click here to read the full pay policy] As a result, a “solid performer” who starts at Walmart as a cart pusher making $8 an hour and receives one promotion, about the average rate, can expect to make $10.60 after working at the company for 6 years.

[...]

The Walmart pay plan is organized around seven levels of job difficulty for hourly workers, called Position Pay Grades (PPGs), ranging from cart-pushers (Level 1) and cashiers (Level 3), to cake decorators (Level 4) and customer service managers (Level 6). Each subsequent pay grade offers 20 to 40 cents more than the previous level, according to the document. This means that the base rate of pay for a top hourly position at Walmart, like a check-out supervisor, is $1.70 more than that of the lowest paying job.

Or even less than minimum wage, which is what my husband makes when you consider how much overtime he puts in a week, because once you get into the level of Assistant Managers, you are no longer hourly. You get a flat salary no matter how many hours you work, and in my husbands case, it could be 60 hours a week or more.

Okay, that is all the newsy stuff I have for you today. I will end with a couple easy stories…first this one that explores the science behind the venus fly trap, Probing the mystery of the venus fly trap’s botanical bite


Plants lack muscles, yet in only a tenth of a second, the meat-eating Venus fly trap hydrodynamically snaps its leaves shut to trap an insect meal.

This astonishingly rapid display of botanical movement has long fascinated biologists. Commercially, understanding the mechanism of the Venus fly trap’s leaf snapping may one day help improve products such as release-on-command coatings and adhesives, electronic circuits, optical lenses, and drug delivery.

Now a team of French physicists from the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Aix-Marseille University in Marseille, France, is working to understand this movement. They will present their findings at 65th meeting of the American Physical Society’s (APS) Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD), Nov. 18 — 20, 2012, in San Diego, Calif.

Read more at the link.

Lastly, two reviews for you on a couple of real shitty movies.

Liz and Dick, which sounds like something I could really enjoy making fun of: Lindsay Lohan in ‘Liz & Dick': TV Review – Hollywood Reporter

It should come as no great surprise that Lifetime’s Liz & Dick movie starring Lindsay Lohan is spectacularly bad. After all, it’s Lohan, more memorable in the tabloids than she ever was as an actress. No, the mystery here is whether Lifetime actually believed it had a major “television event,” as it says, because this was Lohan’s “highly anticipated comeback movie role,” as the channel’s website notes. Was Lifetime made giddy by the potential, or made blind by it? Most intriguing, did it know that casting Lohan of all people as Elizabeth Taylor would nearly burn Hollywood down — and shock the rest of the country as well, thus ensuring enormous ratings?

Lifetime’s website breathlessly asks visitors, “Are you finally convinced?” — with a link to a photo of Lohan as Taylor and a young Liz side by side. No, the photo is not convincing. Hair and makeup miracles do not make a movie. So calm down, Lifetime.

Lohan is woeful as Taylor from start to finish. But, whatever you do, don’t miss Liz & Dick. It’s an instant classic of unintentional hilarity. Drinking games were made for movies like this. And the best part is that it gets worse as it goes on, so in the right company with the right beverages, Liz & Dick could be unbearably hilarious toward the tail end of the 90-minute running time. By the time Lohan is playing mid-’80s Taylor and it looks like a lost Saturday Night Live skit, your body may be cramped by convulsions.

And then there is Twilight, Breaking Dawn 2,  which led one review to write this:

After 10 minutes of this movie, this was the only note I managed to scribble out:

Oh, but he recommends you see the show, *:

Do I recommend that you see the new Twilight this weekend? Of course I do. Just so long as you get drunk first—irrevocably drunk. I’m talking, “I can’t tell the Partridges apart anymore” drunk. I mean a level of smiling intoxication at which you cannot hear the difference in quality between vintage Motown and Jenna Marbles’ “Bounce That Dick,” nor can you distinguish between your momma’s cooking and the Arby’s value menu.

Take a look at those reviews, you will laugh…and then be glad you didn’t waste your time watching these movies, or perhaps you will get the urge for some quiet time immersed in Hollywood’s version of love. Hey, think about it…the Petraeus affair is really the stuff that movie dreams are made of.

Have a wonderful Sunday!


Friday Morning Reads

Good Morning!

So, I’m going to start out with a story about “The Great New England Vampire Panic” and some bizarre graveyard behavior that happened as a result.  Yes, I know it’s pass Samhain but I’m just trying to forget that National Crass Consumerism Season is upon us.  BB found this for me so I have to thank her for the distraction and feeding my curiosity about the way humans create bizarre rituals around graves and the dead.

Children playing near a hillside gravel mine found the first graves. One ran home to tell his mother, who was skeptical at first—until the boy produced a skull.

Because this was Griswold, Connecticut, in 1990, police initially thought the burials might be the work of a local serial killer named Michael Ross, and they taped off the area as a crime scene. But the brown, decaying bones turned out to be more than a century old. The Connecticut state archaeologist, Nick Bellantoni, soon determined that the hillside contained a colonial-era farm cemetery. New England is full of such unmarked family plots, and the 29 burials were typical of the 1700s and early 1800s: The dead, many of them children, were laid to rest in thrifty Yankee style, in simple wood coffins, without jewelry or even much clothing, their arms resting by their sides or crossed over their chests.

Except, that is, for Burial Number 4.

Scraping away soil with flat-edged shovels, and then brushes and bamboo picks, the archaeologist and his team worked through several feet of earth before reaching the top of the crypt. When Bellantoni lifted the first of the large, flat rocks that formed the roof, he uncovered the remains of a red-painted coffin and a pair of skeletal feet. They lay, he remembers, “in perfect anatomical position.” But when he raised the next stone, Bellantoni saw that the rest of the individual “had been com­pletely…rearranged.” The skeleton had been beheaded; skull and thighbones rested atop the ribs and vertebrae. “It looked like a skull-and-crossbones motif, a Jolly Roger. I’d never seen anything like it,” Bellantoni recalls.

You can read about the mysterious grave sites at The Smithsonian website link above.

Here’s another one of those pro-life, family values, Republican white Congress critters that turns out to be a total hypocrite.  Yup, it’s another crazy Tea Bagger with a messed up life as well as a messed up political philosophy.

A decade before calling himself “a consistent supporter of pro-life values,” Tennessee physician and Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais supported his ex-wife’s decision to get two abortions before their marriage, according to the congressman’s sworn testimony during his divorce trial.

Obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the couple’s 2001 trial transcript also confirms DesJarlais had sexual relationships with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn. During one affair with a female patient, DesJarlais prescribed her drugs, gave her an $875 watch and bought her a plane ticket to Las Vegas, records show.

Wow.  You just have to wonder how these guys think that their karma and conduct is not going to catch up with them eventually.

Things are not going well in Gaza and Israel.   I saw this horrifying photo of a dead little girl in Gaza juxtaposed with this essay at TDB by Emily Hauzer called “For Israel–with Love and Squalor”.

The sudden roar of violence in Gaza and southern Israel divides the world in many ways, not least between those who are willing (sometimes quite eager) to criticize Israel, and those for whom love of Israel means a rejection of any and all criticism, ever. Death rains from the sky and the rhetorical fury resumes even as walls shatter and blood spills, and no one listens to anyone.

Or so it can seem. But is that really the only choice? Is it really impossible to both love a place deeply, and criticize it honestly?

Hauzer, an Israeli-American writer, describes the horrors that are unfolding as innocents on both sides get caught in the fight between leaders of Hamas and Israel and their struggle for power and control.

And so yes, when Israel decides that now’s the time to assassinate the head of Hamas’s military wing (a man who, until this weekend, served as something of a “subcontractor, in charge of maintaining Israel’s security in Gaza,” according to Israeli journalist Aluf Benn)—Israel is also responsible. When the IDF’s “surgical strikes” kill not only their targets but also civilians, including a 19 year old pregnant woman, a 7 year old girl, and an 11 month old baby, it’s also responsible. If the husband or the brothers and sisters are filled with rage and want to strike a blow for their people and their grief—can we not understand? Can we not say that we would feel the same? That we do feel the same? And would we really care who had started “the latest round”?

The single biggest difference between the two sides of the current Israeli-Gazan hostilities comes down to one word: Power.

Gazan militants (not all of them Hamas—indeed, most of them not) launch rockets from within a tiny strip of land that is physically penned in on all sides by Israel (save for one small crossing with Egypt)—when Israel retaliates, 1.7 million Gazans literally cannot even run away. On the other hand, Israel is a military super power, with battleships off the coast of Gaza, jet fighters in her airspace, and the unstinting support of the world’s most powerful nation.

I watched Democracy Now on Wednesday night and saw Noam Chomsky interviewed on Gaza.

NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s kind of amazing and inspiring to see people managing somehow to survive in—as essentially caged animals and subject to constant, random, sadistic punishment only to humiliate them, no pretext. They’re—Israel and the United States keep them alive, basically. They don’t want them to starve to death. But the life is set up so that you can’t have a dignified, decent life. In fact, one of the words you hear most often is “dignity.” They would like to have dignified lives. And the standard Israeli position is they shouldn’t raise their heads. And it’s a pressure cooker, could blow up. You know, people can’t live like that forever.

AMY GOODMAN: You described it in a piece you wrote as an “open-air prison.”

NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s an open-air prison. As soon as you—you know, we’ve all been in jail for civil disobedience and so on. The overwhelming feeling everyone gets is somebody else is in total control of you. There’s an arbitrary authority who can control anything you do. Stand up, sit down, you know, find something to eat, go to the bathroom—whatever it may be, they all determine it; you can’t do anything. Now that’s basically what it’s like living there. And, you know, there’s—people find ways to adapt, but it’s just a constant—it’s constant subjugation to an external force, which has no purpose except to humiliate you. Of course, they have pretexts—everybody has pretexts—but they don’t make any sense.

Those of us that value peace wonder why these situations just recur with no attempt at resolution other than more bombs.  Here’s one more personal story of a journalist in Gaza whose 11 month old son was killed by the bombing.  The story also comes with this heart wrenching photo.  I looked for the story after reading Hauzer’s essay.

The front page photo on Thursday’s Washington Post tells, in a single frame, a very personal story from Wednesday’s Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. Jihad Misharawi, a BBC Arabic journalist who lives in Gaza, carries the body of his 11-month old son, Omar, through al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.

An Israeli round hit Misharawi’s four-room home in Gaza Wednesday, killing his son, according to BBC Middle East bureau chief Paul Danahar, who arrived in Gaza earlier Thursday. Misharawi’s sister-in-law was also killed, and his brother wounded. Misharawi told Danahar that, when the round landed, there was no fighting in his residential neighborhood.

“We’re all one team in Gaza,” Danahar told me, saying that Misharawi is a BBC video and photo editor. After spending a “few hours” with his grieving colleague, he wrote on Twitter, ”Questioned asked here is: if Israel can kill a man riding on a moving motorbike (as they did last month) how did Jihad’s son get killed.”

Hamas rockets are now targeting Tel Aviv. Three Israelis have died so far.  An Israeli ground assault is now expected.

Palestinian militants targeted densely populated Tel Aviv in Israel’s heartland with rockets for the first time Thursday, part of an unprecedented barrage that threatened to provoke an Israeli ground assault on Gaza. Three Israelis were killed.Air raid sirens wailed and panicked residents ran for cover in Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial and cultural capital. Israel responded by moving troops and heavy weapons toward Gaza and authorizing the call-up of tens of thousands of reservists.

There was no word on where the two rockets aimed at Tel Aviv landed, raising the possibility they fell into the Mediterranean. A third rocket landed in an open area on the southern outskirts of Tel Aviv.

The fighting, the heaviest in four years, came after Israel launched a ferocious air assault Wednesday to stop repeated rocket fire from Gaza. The powerful Hamas military chief was killed in that strike, and another 18 Palestinians have died over two days, including five children. Some 100 Palestinians have been wounded.

Israeli warplanes struck dozens of Hamas-linked targets in Gaza on Thursday, sending loud booms echoing across the narrow Mediterranean coastal strip at regular intervals, followed by gray columns of smoke. After nightfall, several explosions shook Gaza City several minutes apart, a sign the strikes were not letting up, and the military said the targets were about 70 underground rocket-launching sites.

It’s just really hard to understand how these constant back and forth of rockets and missiles will solve anything.  I’ve gotten to the point where I think that solving things isn’t actually the point.  It just ruins a lot of lives on all sides of the hostilities.   You wonder if it will ever end. You also have to wonder how many people will die until the joint desire for peace is greater than the joint desire for power and control.

What’s on you reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Did you ever see an elephant fly?

Morning everyone, my computer is in its final death throes.  It is amazing how much of our lives are on those things. I have some links for you, but since the computer is kaput, I am writing these reads earlier than I usually do. So you may have seen some of these already…I apologize for that. And since my computer has crashed, taking everything with it, I am using a different computer and on borrowed time…Therefore, I don’t have time to write as much as I would like.

In Japan, it seems there is another leak at Fukushima.  How this thing is going to end?  One thing is for certain,  it will not be for a long time.

Japan nuclear commission fails to send experts to Fukushima – The Mainichi Daily News

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan has failed to send designated experts to Fukushima Prefecture to look into the crisis at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant even though a national disaster-preparedness plan requires it to do so, many of the experts said Saturday.

A commission spokesperson said problems following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami such as blackouts had discouraged it from sending any experts to Fukushima Prefecture, but many of the specialists and government officials questioned the claim.

NHK WORLD English

Wastewater level at Fukushima reactor rising

The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says the level of highly radioactive water in an underground tunnel for one of the reactors is rising.

Contaminated water in the plant’s facilities is hampering efforts to restore the reactor’s cooling systems. Leakages of contaminated water into the ocean and the ground are also raising concerns.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says as of 6 PM Friday, the level of contaminated water in the tunnel had risen 4.5 centimeters even after part of the water was moved to a condenser in a turbine building on Wednesday.

TEPCO says work earlier this month to fix the leakage of highly radioactive water into the ocean may have caused water from the reactor to accumulate in the tunnel.

TEPCO hopes to begin transferring highly radioactive water to a waste-processing facility by the end of next week so that work to fully restore the cooling systems can resume.

Highly radioactive water may also be leaking underground. TEPCO says it will monitor underground water 3 times a week, instead of only once a week.

A survey conducted by TEPCO on Wednesday showed radiation levels in underground water in storage facilities for the Number 1 and 2 reactors were up 38 times the levels observed a week earlier.

Saturday, April 16, 2011 23:54 +0900 (JST)

NHK WORLD English

Radiactivity rises again in sea near No.2 reactor

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says levels of radioactive substances in seawater have risen again near the water intake of its No.2 reactor.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, known as TEPCO, says it detected 260 becquerels of iodine-131 per cubic centimeter in samples taken on Friday. That is 6,500 times the legal limit.

In the same area, levels of iodine-131 had been declining since April 2nd when 7.5 million times the limit was detected. On Thursday, the level was 1,100 times the safety limit.

TEPCO says the level of radioactive cesium-137 was also up in the same area. It detected 130 becquerels per cubic centimeter, 1,400 times the legal limit.
The firm says radioactive densities are leveling off or falling in most other areas.

TEPCO has installed underwater barriers and metal boards near the intake to prevent contaminated water from leaking into the sea.

The power company says the rise in the levels of radioactivity may have been caused by the installation work, but no new sources of leakage have been found.

Saturday, April 16, 2011 23:55 +0900 (JST)

Possible new leak at nuclear plant in Japan – MarketWatch

Radiation levels have spiked again in seawater near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northern Japan in an indication of possible new leaks at the complex, the government said Saturday, According to reports.

NHK WORLD English

TEPCO to step up discharged water monitoring

The operator of the troubled Fukushima nuclear power plant says it will step up monitoring to assess the environmental impact of radioactive water discharged into the ocean from the plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says it will measure radiation levels in seawater in 4 locations 3 kilometers off the coast, and 2 locations 8 kilometers off the coast.

This is in addition to the existing monitoring locations along the shore and 15 kilometers offshore.

The increased monitoring is in response to an instruction by the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. The result of the investigation will be reported to the agency by May 2nd.

Here is some news from Bahrain and Gaza:

Bahrain ‘arrests rights lawyer and doctors’ – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

Bahrain has detained a human rights lawyer and at least two doctors as part of a crackdown on pro-democracy protestors in the Gulf Arab kingdom, campaigners have said.

Security forces arrested lawyer Mohammed al-Tajer on Saturday, the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights and Wefaq, the biggest opposition party, said.

In Gaza this week:

Why Did Jihadists Kill My Friend? | Mother Jones

The jihadist militants in Gaza who kidnapped and murdered Italian journalist and human rights activist Vittorio Arrigoni could not have killed a more steadfast champion of freedom and justice for Palestinians.

I met Vittorio, known to his friends as Vik, during my first week of freelance reporting in Gaza last year for publications including The Nation, GlobalPost, and Jerusalem Post Magazine. Vik graciously offered to show me around. The first time we met, he recounted the Israeli army assaults that he’d witnessed, and advised me on humanitarian stories that I might cover in Gaza. He brought along his laptop, and offered to let me use his pictures and videos. He took deep puffs from his pipe as he told me about the things he’d seen, including the time he saw a friend of his killed in an Israeli airstrike. I remember feeling awed by his determination to perservere despite his grief.

Candlelight vigil held for Italian activist – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

There has been an outrage over the cold-blooded killing of the Italian peace activist [Reuters]

Hundreds of mourners have rallied and many have held a candlelight vigil in the Hamas-governed Palestinian enclave of Gaza for Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian activist who was killed on Friday.

And in the West Bank, which is run by Fatah, Hamas’s rival, around 100 people, most of them foreigners, marched on Saturday through Ramallah to a house of mourning in El Bireh, an AFP correspondent said.

Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, who was working with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was found dead by the security forces in a house in northern Gaza early on Friday.

He had been hanged, Hamas security officials said.

Hamas officials said two people had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the kidnapping and said they were hunting further accomplices.

Ihab al-Ghussein, a Hamas spokesman, called it a “heinous crime which has nothing to do with our values, our religion, our customs and traditions”.

“The other members of the group will be hunted down,” he said.

There has been an outrage over the cold-blooded killing of the Italian.

“I was about to cry when I heard the news. That man quit his family for us, for Gaza, and now Gazans killed him. That was so bad,” Abu Ahmed, a supermarket owner, said.

This week marked the anniversary of the BP spill. Warning the pictures are a bit alarming…I had posted in the comments sometime this week about the release of BP emails discussing ways to manipulate the scientist research. These articles touch on that as well.

BP anniversary: Toxicity, suffering and death – Features – Al Jazeera English

Medical and toxicology experts have told Al Jazeera that the oil spill has triggered environmental and human health disasters that will likely span decades [Erika Blumenfeld/Al Jazeera]

April 20, 2011 marks the one-year anniversary of BP’s catastrophic oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. On this day in 2010 the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, causing oil to gush from 5,000 feet below the surface into the ninth largest body of water on the planet.

At least 4.9 million barrels of BP’s oil would eventually be released into the Gulf of Mexico before the well was capped 87 days later.

It is, to date, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. BP has used at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic dispersants to sink the oil, in an effort the oil giant claimed was aimed at keeping the oil from reaching shore.

Critics believe the chemical dispersants were used simply to hide the oil and minimise BP’s responsibility for environmental fines.

Earlier this month Transocean Ltd, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon, gave its top executives bonuses for achieving what it described as the “best year in safety performance in our company’s history”. Transocean CEO Steve Newman’s bonus was $374,062.

BP has plans to restart deepwater drilling on 10 wells in the Gulf of Mexico this summer after being granted permission by US regulators.

Meanwhile, marine and wildlife biologists, toxicologists, and medical doctors have described the impact of the disaster upon the environment and human health as “catastrophic,” and have told Al Jazeera that this is only the beginning of that what they expect to be an environmental and human health crisis that will likely span decades.

Guest Post: No, The Gulf Oil Spill Is NOT Old News « naked capitalism

While the Japanese nuclear crisis might upstage the Gulf crisis, it hasn’t gone away.

As the Wall Street Journal notes today:

Vladimir Uiba, head of Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency… compared the contamination of seawater by the Fukushima complex with an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by BP PLC last year, and said, “The BP oil spill has caused far more serious impact on the environment than the Fukushima accident” ….

Gulf residents are still getting sick, the number of dolphins and whales killed by the spill appears to be many times higher than officials previously believed. Dead turtles are washing up in Mississippi. And see these photos from my favorite photographer, Julie Dermansky:

A few updates on Monsanto and Mortgage Fraud:

The United States of Monsanto | Emptywheel

WikiLeaks had revealed that our diplomats had proposed a “military-style trade war” to force Europeans to adopt Monsanto’s controversial products.

A Slap on the Wrist for Mortgage Fraud

On Wednesday, three federal regulators — the Federal Reserve, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency — released an enforcement order against 14 of the nation’s largest banks and two third-party service providers for persistent irregularities and outright fraud in the way they process mortgages. These regulators are, respectively, the gang that missed the housing bubble, American International Group’s overseer (whose colossal lapses caused it to be disbanded in last year’s financial-regulatory law), and an entity most recently headed by a former bank lobbyist. The product of their deliberations, then, is no surprise: a toothless federal consent decree that essentially lets the offending banks off the hook and puts them in charge of their own prosecution.

Some updates on illegal actions of state governments and an interesting article about WWED….What Would Einstein Do?

Michigan’s Governor Exercises “Emergency Powers” to Break Union Contracts | Crooks and Liars

Benton, Michigan’s city government was shut down yesterday by the state Emergency Financial Manager. Elected officials in that city are now limited to calling a meeting, adjourning a meeting, and approving minutes of a meeting. Beyond that, they can do nothing.

Eclectablog:

This is a complete disenfranchisement of an entire community, an entire large city in my state. The voters are now denied the ability to be governed by the people they elected in a democratic election.

This is nothing short of an abridgment of democracy in raw form.

ThinkProgress » TN State Rep. Argues Einstein Would Teach Creationism

Armed with fantasy and lies, Tennessee legislators are attempting to dismantle science education in their state’s public schools. Last week, the Tennessee House voted by an overwhelming 70-23 margin in favor of a radical bill to teach the “controversy” about scientific subjects “including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” During the debate on HB 368, introduced by Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville), anti-science conservative Rep. Frank Nicely (R-Strawberry Plains) argued that the “critical thinker” Albert Einstein would have wanted public schools to teach creationism alongside the science of biological evolution:

I think that if there’s one thing that everyone in this room could agree on, that would be that Albert Einstein was a critical thinker. He was a scientist. I think that we probably could agree that Albert Einstein was smarter than any of our science teachers in our high schools or colleges. And Albert Einstein said that a little knowledge would turn your head toward atheism, while a broader knowledge would turn your head toward Christianity.

All I can say to that Einstein link, is ugh….

Mink’s Missing Link File:   This next one is a whopper that I think you all would really find maddening. I expect the comments will be full of venom from this link from Historiann…be sure to click the link so that you can read the full story.

Seminal developments: entitled sexist a$holes divide surgeons’ group : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

This would actually be a pretty funny story for The Onion, if it weren’t in fact true (h/t to my horrified physician friend KV):

A Valentine’s Day editorial in the official newspaper of the American College of Surgeons has set off a firestorm of controversy that has divided the largest professional organization of surgeons in the country and raised questions about the current leadership and its attitudes toward women and gay and lesbian members.

The editorial, written by Dr. Lazar J. Greenfield, an emeritus professor of surgery at the University of Michigan School of Medicine and president-elect of the American College of Surgeons, extols the mood-enhancing effects of semen on women. It begins with a reference to the mating behaviors of fruit flies, then goes on to discuss studies on the menstrual cycles of heterosexual and lesbian women who live together. Citing the research of evolutionary psychologists at the State University of New York, it describes how female college students who had been exposed to semen were less depressed than their peers who had not, concluding: “So there’s a deeper bond between men and women than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there’s a better gift for that day than chocolates.”

.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .      

The organization has more than 75,000 members (I am one). Roughly 10 percent are women. There are five women on the organization’s 22-member governing board; this month, they issued a letter requesting that Dr. Greenfield step down as president-elect. The entire board is set to vote on the issue on Sunday.

Seriously.  Re-read those paragraphs again.  Especially the part about how this was published in the official newspaper of the American College of Surgeons.And click on the link, too, to be informed by the headline “Sexism charges divide surgeons’ group.”  That’s right:  sexism charges are dividing the group, not the disgusting sexist behavior itself.

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  Okay, no artsy fartsy link this week. Here is one to get you talking as well, I wonder…the President has a similar problem that this little girl did. Ears that stick out a bit more than “normal.”  I just think it is ironic that Obama pushed that anti-bully campaign, this little girl is a victim of bullying, and they both have protruding ears…

Bullying Pushes 7-year Old To Opt For Plastic Surgery On Her Ears

A 7-year old South Dakota girl, who has been a victim of bullying because her ears stick out, underwent an otoplasty – plastic surgery to reshape and pin back the outer ear. Samantha Roselle’s mother told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the surgical procedure was chosen as a preventative measure, to stop the bullying.

Cami Roselles, Samantha’s mom, said “Kids are mean. That’s just how they are.”

The operation, which lasted two-and-a-half hours, was successful, according to Dr. Steven Pearlman, the surgeon who performed the operation. He told ABC “Her ears look great!”

The link above has a medical description of the procedure. Here is the ABC link: Cosmetic Surgery to Stop School Bullying: Plastic Surgery for Children Increases 30 Percent in a Decade – ABC News

Samantha Shaw will soon be able to enjoy putting her hair up and wearing earrings, two things she never wanted to do a week ago.

Samantha just had otoplasty, commonly known as “pinning back” the ears. Before her surgery, her protruding ears made her the target of lots of hurtful questions by both children and adults.

Dr. Steven Pearlman, Samantha’s New York City-based plastic surgeon, said the two-and-a-half hour surgery went very well.

There are some residual black and blue marks near the incisions, but that’s to be expected, Pearlman said. For the next few months, Samantha will have to wear a headband to protect her ears.

“Her ears look great,” said Pearlman. “Throughout the checkup after surgery and when she got the bandages off, there wasn’t a peep or a tear out of her.”

Her mother, Cami Roselles, said it was a nerve-racking experience, since Samantha had never had surgery before. The anesthesia, she said, made her daughter sick.

But all that was forgotten as the bandages came off and Samantha got a glimpse of her new ears for the first time.

She was asked how they looked. “Good,” she said.

Samantha is just one of an increasing number of children having cosmetic surgery. That number, in fact, has gone up nearly 30 percent over the past decade, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

I don’t know how I feel about this…maybe you can help me work it out in the comments?

So what are you reading about today, share your links!