Wednesday Reads: Summer Breeze

bcc5e8e158e86972f2b3c43c4ad6e79fGood Morning

It is a good thing my laptop comes home later today…I really miss that little gem of a computer so much. Especially the keyboard. ;)

But for now, here are this morning’s reads.

Big update on the Calhoun High School Prom rape case:

3 indicted in post-prom assault; former Calhoun students face trial in Gilmer sex case | Times Free Press

Two months ago Fields Chapman, Andrew Haynes and Damon Johnson were high school students preparing for prom and graduation.

Now they have been indicted by the Appalachian Circuit District Attorney’s Office on charges of aggravated sexual battery, and two of them face charges of sodomy.

The grand jury hearings were closed to the public, but the indictments they produced were unsealed Monday by the Gilmer County Superior Court clerk, setting the direction for legal proceedings against the three former Calhoun High School students that could end with a jury trial.

You can read the full indictment here: http://media.timesfreepress.com/news/documents/2014/07/08/indictment2.pdf

 

The indictment, signed by Sosebee, contains no mention of intercourse but does allege that the men engaged in sexually explicit conduct with the woman.

Upon returning home the next day, the victim went to the hospital with her family and told investigators she had been raped at the party.

All three were indicted for allegedly using their fingers or hands to commit sexual battery. Chapman and Haynes are accused of taking things a step further, which earned them sodomy charges.

In a separate indictment, jurors also charged Chapman with 28 counts of sexual exploitation of children for allegedly possessing explicit photos and videos of a minor on his cellphone. That charge involves a different alleged victim but occurred the same day as the reported sexual battery.

The full series of reports from the Times Free Press can be found here: The Calhoun post-prom attack | Times Free Press

More coverage from Atlanta Journal Constitution: 3 ex-Calhoun High students indicted in sexual battery case | www.ajc.com

District Attorney Alison Sosebee noted that aggravated sexual battery is punishable with a sentence of up to 25 years.

The sexual exploitation of a minor charges against Chapman involve a separate person, Sosebee said. They involve digital images or videos that Chapman allegedly possessed on his phone of a minor engaged in “sexually explicitly conduct,” Sosebee said.

Hey, its on Raw Story too: Georgia teens indicted for brutal post-prom rape that left unconscious victim hospitalized

It has even made the foreign press…Former Calhoun High School athletes accused of sexually assaulting a female student | Mail Online

And this particular article has the British take on the story, so be sure to read this one in full, including the comments.

‘Alcohol and teenagers just do not go together,’ an official said at a previous press conference.
The allegations led to all three of the accused to be barred from attending their graduation ceremony despite having graduated, according to reports.

Chapman played quarterback for the Calhoun High School football team. Haynes was a tight end and Johnson was a pitcher and third baseman for the baseball team.

The students were well known athletes and appear to have popular among their peers.

Reactions to the allegations ranged from shock to disappointment.

‘A party is a party, but that’s just ridiculous what happened after it,’ student Jessie Kincaid told WSB.
‘That’s taking it too far,’ said another.

‘One thing about having fun, but there’s another about breaking the law,’ said a third student.

A parent called the situation ‘a shame,’ in comments to the station.

All three of the suspects have bonded out of jail and await their next court date.

Those comments from Calhoun students and residents are what got some of the Mail readers upset and rightfully so…which is something else when you read the shit here: Calhoun Forum – Topix

Check out the flaming Chapman threads…

There is another update from a story out in Utah: Utah cop who killed family had raped wife: police  – NY Daily News

Joshua Boren had worked for the Lindon Police Department for three months when he used his service weapon to kill his wife, their two children and his mother-in-law before turning the gun on himself in January. Police said the officer had exchanged heated text messages with his wife – who threatened to leave him and confront him for raping her – the night before.

Now a pollution story: Intersex fish found in Pennsylvania rivers spur search for chemicals - Los Angeles Times

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has begun an extensive sampling of chemical contaminants in response to the discovery of intersex fish in three of the state’s rivers, a department spokeswoman said.

Male fish carrying eggs were found in the Susquehanna, Delaware and Ohio river basins, a sign that the water may be tainted with chemicals, the U.S. Geological Survey found in research released Monday.

Amanda Witman, a DEP spokeswoman, said the agency is testing two tributaries of the Susquehanna River: Juniata River and Swatara Creek.

The USGS research said that two fish species, smallmouth bass and white sucker, were exhibiting intersex characteristics due to exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals — hormones and hormone-mimicking chemicals that caused the male fish to produce eggs.

“The sources of estrogenic chemicals are most likely complex mixtures from both agricultural sources, such as animal wastes, pesticides and herbicides, and human sources from wastewater treatment plant effluent and other sewage discharges,” said Vicki Blazer, a fish biologist and lead author of the USGS study.

Geez…that is fucked up!

Last link is this photo shoot with an awesome touch of style and class: Liv Tyler champions Hillary Clinton for president in Violet Grey fashion shoot | Mail Online

Rumour has it that Hillary Clinton is running for president in 2016.

And Liv Tyler is making it clear that she’s all for it, pictured in a ‘Hillary For President’ T-shirt in a new Violet Grey fashion shoot.

The 37-year-old actress poses by a quiet lake in upstate New York in the series of images, which sees her flashing her long slender legs while seated on a log.

article-2683912-1F7666E900000578-484_634x900

You go girl! Liv Tyler expressed her support for Hillary Clinton, pictured in a ‘Hillary For President’ T-shirt in a new Violet Grey fashion shoot

2016 can’t come soon enough!

So that is all I have for you today, except for this gallery of vintage summer photographs that I found on Pinterest. They cover all decades, so enjoy and have a wonderful day.


Tuesday Reads: Live and Let Live Edition

Good Morning!

Big Picture InvisiblesWhy is it that many religious people just cannot live without imposing their views on others? That’s one of the things I’ve been thinking about since the reliably patriarchal side of SCOTUS took one more step to force  their favorite flavor of religion on the rest of us.  Today’s photo montage is via “The Invisibles”.  It is a montage of gay couples during the times when theirs was a “love that dare not speak its name”. There are so many folks that choose to live outside of the conventions of the society into which they were born.  I was raised to think that this country was born of the dreams of folks wanting to establish a place where they could not be persecuted for not following the majority’s norms.  Our country has not had perfect beginnings. But up until recently, I always felt that we were at least creeping towards a “more perfect union”.

While the plight of the GLBT community is improving and appears to have some forward momentum, there are others that are being shoved back into conformity with lives and values not of their choosing.  This includes women, immigrants and many minorities.  Why do others feel they have to justify their own lives by persecuting others? We’re headed towards our nation’s birthday.  What has happened to the idea of creating our “more perfect union” with “liberty and justice for all”?

So, first I feel like I have to add more to the discussion on the SCOTUS decision that allows privately and tightly held corporations that are not engaged lesinvisibles7in the business of religion to hold religious beliefs identical to the owners that are supposedly separate from the corporation enough to be indemnified by any illegal activities it undertakes.  Hillary Clinton made her views clear on the subject as did Justice Ginsberg writing for the dissent.  I will rely on their words here. Hillary Clinton calls the decision “deeply disturbing”. 

“It’s the first time that our court has said that a closely held corporation has the rights of a person when it comes to religious freedom,” she said during a Q&A at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “I find it deeply disturbing that we are going in that direction.”

“It’s very troubling that a sales clerk at Hobby Lobby who needs contraception, which is pretty expensive, is not going to get that service through her employer’s health care plan because her employer doesn’t believe she should use birth control,” she continued.

Justice Ginsberg wrote a masterful dissent.  

On Monday, the Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby on the company’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, ruling that the mandate, as applied to “closely held” businesses, violates the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But the divided court’s 5-4 decision included a dramatic dissent from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who called the majority opinion “a decision of startling breadth.” Ginsburg read a portion of her decision from the bench on Monday.

Addressing the majority of her colleagues — including all but one of the six men sitting on the Supreme Court — Ginsburg wrote:

In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ. Persuaded that Congress enacted RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court’s judgment can introduce, I dissent. 

The justice goes on to criticize the opinion’s interpretation of the religious freedom law, writing that “until today, religious exemptions had never been extended to any entity operating in ‘the commercial, profit-making world.’”

The reason why is hardly obscure. Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community. Indeed, by law, no religion-based criterion can restrict the work force of for-profit corporations…The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.

“In sum,” Ginsburg adds about the free exercise claims at the heart of this case,“‘[y]our right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.’”

Justice Alito got a little prickly in his majority opinion about Ginsburg’s strong criticism of their take on the case:

As this description of our reasoning shows, our holding is very specific. We do not hold, as the principal dissent alleges, that for-profit corporations and other commercial enterprises can “opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.” Post, at 1 (opinion of GINSBURG, J.). Nor do we hold, as the dissent implies, that such corporations have free rein to take steps that impose “disadvantages . . . on others” or that require “the general public [to] pick up the tab.” Post, at 1–2. And we certainly do not hold or suggest that “RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on . . . thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby.” Post, at 2.The effect of the HHS-created accommodation on the women employed by Hobby Lobby and the other companies involved in these cases would be precisely zero. Under that accommodation, these women would still be entitled to all FDA-approved contraceptives without cost sharing. 

Ginsburg seems to reply to Alito by suggesting that what Alito sees as a narrow, limited decision is essentially an invitation for lots of future challenges on religious grounds: “Although the Court attempts to cabin its language to closely held corporations,” she writes,  “its logic extends to corporations of any size, public or private. Little doubt that RFRA claims will proliferate.”

 Further quotes from Ginsburg’s dissent can be read at MOJO.friendssnapshots6

Here are seven more key quotes from Ginsburg’s dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby:

  • “The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage”
  • “Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”
  • “Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.”
  • “It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”
  • “Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.”
  • “Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”
  • “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

You can read the full dissent here. (It starts on page 60.)

lesinvisibles5The court attempted a narrow decision but crept into an area of corporate law that could create an interesting situation.  Usually, corporations are considered distinct from their owners.  Hobby Lobby is a corporation tightly held by a family so the majority view basically carved out this type of corporation and said “it’s different”.  However, how can you indemnify owners from corporate malfeasance AND say that this specific corporation that doesn’t have a religious mission reflects this set of owner’s pet superstitions? Could the justices have unintentionally left a back door open to challenge the very basis of incorporation which is to make any corporation its own entity? 

The decision’s acknowledgment of corporations’ religious liberty rights was reminiscent of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a 2010 ruling that affirmed the free speech rights of corporations. Justice Alito explained why corporations should sometimes be regarded as persons. “A corporation is simply a form of organization used by human beings to achieve desired ends,” he wrote. “When rights, whether constitutional or statutory, are extended to corporations, the purpose is to protect the rights of these people.”

Justice Ginsburg said the commercial nature of for-profit corporations made a difference.

“The court forgets that religious organizations exist to serve a community of believers,” she wrote. “For-profit corporations do not fit that bill.”

 I wanted to point out the anniversary of a sad day in New Orleans history.  I’m not sure how many of you know about the UpStairs Lounge fire of 1973.  The arson mass murder of GLBT stands as the largest of its kind in modern history.

On June 24, 1973, an arsonist set fire to a gay bar in New Orleans called the Upstairs Lounge, killing 32 gay men and women in what has gone down in history as thelargest gay mass murder in U.S. history.

Today is the 41st anniversary of that tragedy, which has been documented by Robert L. Camina in the new film “Upstairs Inferno”. According to the first official teaser trailer below, the horrific event led to even more reprehensible acts in its wake – several bodies from within the club were never claimed by family members, those survivors featured in the news went on to lose their jobs and livelihoods, and the New Orleans police department lagged its feet and attempted to cover up the deadly crime.

To this day, no one has ever been charged with setting fire to the UpStairs Lounge.

Many folks believe this is an event that should not be forgotten.article-2673296-1F272A1C00000578-673_470x729

For a complex array of reasons, including homophobia, shame, and despair, the fire and its victims languished in obscurity for years, not taking its proper place in the broader sweep of LGBT history, but this is quickly changing.

“Upstairs”, my musical tragedy commemorating the fire and honoring its victims premiered last year in New Orleans to sold-out audiences, as part of the 40th anniversary memorials and Pride events. A portion of the musical is now playing at the West Village Musical Theatre Festival in New York.

new book, “The UpStairs Lounge Arson: Thirty-Two Deaths in a Louisiana Gay Bar”, released just last month, is the most extensively-researched and carefully-told history of the subject.

And “Upstairs Inferno”, a documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Robert Camina is currently in post-production.

In addition, Delery, Camino, and I are advocating the inclusion of the UpStairs Lounge site on the National Register of Historic Places.

To commemorate the anniversary of the fire, I spoke with Camina about his documentary.

The lion’s share of published research about the fire comes from Johnny Townsend, author of “Let the Faggots Burn”, and Clay Delery. Did you interview them for the piece and what did you learn?

Well of course Townsend had a lot to contribute, because without his efforts many years ago to interview people, many of the stories would have been lost. So I think he brought a lot of insight to the tragedy that, since so many have passed on, we are not able to access.

Did you get to talk to anyone that Delery and Townsend did not get to talk to?

I don’t think they interviewed Francis Dufrene. We were able to interview him. He was a survivor of the fire. He slipped through the bars and jumped and landed on the pavement. He suffered third-degree burns. He gave us a distinctive perspective of what it was like in the middle of it when the fire started, so we definitely learned a little bit of what it was like the emotions just the mood and a frame of mind of what people going through in there.

As far as you can tell, what was the UpStairs lounge like as a bar?

It was a very comfortable place. Everyone we talked to said that the patrons were like a family. And the word that has come up that you’re very familiar with is “Sanctuary”.

Yes, that’s why I opened my musical with a song of that title. And of course, when a place that is considered a sanctuary is invaded and ruined, it has a profound impact on a community. And I’m not sure I had a whole sense of the impact that it had until I was there last year for the 40th Anniversary to see how the community responded to the memorial events and the play.

Just so you haven’t forgotten with the Republican pogram is these days, I give you a blast from the past from Fat Tony.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made an appearance at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas on Friday, where he claimed that the success of capitalism was deeply tied to the nation’s religious values.

“While I would not argue that capitalism as an economic system is inherently more Christian than socialism … it does seem to me that capitalism is more dependent on Christianity than socialism is,” Scalia, a devout Catholic, said during his speech,according to the Houston Chronicle. “For in order for capitalism to work — in order for it to produce a good and a stable society — the traditional Christian virtues are essential.”

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to read the part in the new testament where the jesus dude said ANY of that. Evidently, we’re supposed to all follow his brand of religion even if we find it to be complete bunk.

Why can’t we just live and let live?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: Serenity When?

il_fullxfull.565541671_9lyh-001Good Morning

Things are heating up all over, in a literal, political and actual sense.

Meanwhile I feel as if I am stuck inside a glass tube of Vaseline…where I cannot move or see and I feel trapped in a situation were everything is close around me. Yesterday, my mom found out she needs to take insulin shots…she is now diabetic. But the Medicare does not cover her prescription for the shots. It is 300 bucks a month. WTF? I don’t understand this crap at all.

There’s ther stuff going on that I can’t get into now, so just letting you know that things are real shitty here, and I may need to take a break for a few days to get my bearings.

9d334a8fa3274a3df6a3e9e9bf2ec996Now for today’s links…

I don’t know what to make of this headline from the New York Times:

Obama Is Said to Consider Selective Airstrikes on Sunni Militants

President Obama is considering a targeted, highly selective campaign of airstrikes against Sunni militants in Iraq similar to counterterrorism operations in Yemen rather than an aerial bombardment, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.

e91350319bb40c2aab792d8a540788abSuch a campaign, using either drones or fighter jets, could last for a prolonged period, the official said. But it is not likely to begin for days, until the United States gathers adequate intelligence about the location of the militants, who are intermingled with the civilian population in Mosul, Tikrit and other cities north of Baghdad.

Even the most ambitious aerial campaign envisioned by administration officials would be far more limited in scope than the one conducted during the Iraq war, this official said, because of the relatively small number of militants involved, the degree to which they are dispersed throughout militant-controlled parts of Iraq and fears that using bigger bombs would kill Sunni civilians.

It all makes my head hurt.

e96d30047c9c5f4947085064d49e6198But what deserves a laugh is the latest from Glenn Beckistan: Glenn Beck: ‘Liberals, You Were Right,’ We Should Never Have Gone into Iraq | Mediaite

Glenn Beck led off his radio show on Tuesday morning with a stirring monologue about all the ways he believes the left and right can come together to “heal” America. As part of that, Beck suggested that perhaps all Americans can come together to recognize the blunder that was invading and occupying Iraq in 2003 — an act that he now regrets having supported.

After listing the Veterans Affairs Department scandal and the fight against Common Core standards as two ways in which the left and right can unite, Beck asserted that “maybe we could come together now on this nightmare in Iraq.”

He then took a contrite tone and admitted [emphasis ours]:

a090d350dd917b6e633dfe19e03091cfFrom the beginning, most people on the left were against going into Iraq. I wasn’t. At the time I believed that the United States was under threat from Saddam Hussein. I really truly believed that Saddam Hussein was funding terrorists. We knew that. He was funding the terrorists in Hamas. We knew that he was giving money. We could track that. We knew he hated us. We knew that without a shadow of a doubt. It wasn’t much or a stretch to believe that he would fund a terror strike against us, especially since he would say that. So I took him at his word.

[...] Now, in spite of the things I felt at the time when we went into war, liberals said: We shouldn’t get involved. We shouldn’t nation-build. And there was no indication the people of Iraq had the will to be free. I thought that was insulting at the time. Everybody wants to be free. They said we couldn’t force freedom on people. Let me lead with my mistakes. You are right. Liberals, you were right. We shouldn’t have.

Well, blow me down!

7186393d1bfd14d036ee5764c304f357Here’s another shocking bit of right-wing reactions to scratch your head about…first the news bit: U.S. captures suspected ringleader of 2012 attack in Benghazi | Reuters

The United States said on Tuesday it had captured a suspected ringleader of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador and ignited a political firestorm in Washington.

President Barack Obama said in a statement he had authorized the operation in Libya on Sunday, in which U.S. special operations forces captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah. He told an audience later in Pittsburgh that Khatallah was being transported to the United States.

“Since the deadly attacks on our facilities in Benghazi, I have made it a priority to find and bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of four brave Americans,” he said in a statement. He said Khatallah would “face the full weight of the American justice system.”

Khatallah’s capture was a victory for Obama, who has been accused by Republicans of playing down the role of al Qaeda in the 2012 attacks for political reasons and being slow to deliver on promises of justice.b927fc4895c9c064bdf334851355cd57

 

Which is all well and good, but as Maddow made clear on her show last night:  U.S. Got the Suspect and ‘Benghazi Central’ Fox News Doesn’t Care? | Mediaite

For the past 21 months in a row, conservative media outlets have kept hammering away at Benghazi, saying the Obama White House covered something up, accusing the president of dredging up other issues to distract from Benghazi, and crying foul that no one has been brought to justice for the attack. Well, today one of the alleged perpetrators of the attack was captured by U.S. special forces, and so Rachel Maddow was absolutely bewildered to see the reaction on conservative media from Drudge Report to “Benghazi Central” Fox News, ranging from either ignoring the big news or furiously spinning it as a negative for the administration.

Maddow reminded viewers that the “all-Benghazi, all-the-time Fox News Channel” is the network that basically started ignoring President Obama‘s speeches and press conferences unless he starts talking about Benghazi. And the reaction on Fox News today to the news was to question the suspicious timing of the capture.

Maddow was amused that “the take on Fox News is that’s not actually news” after all the time and space they’ve devoted to hammering away at Benghazi, and now “they have to make it bad news, they have to make into maybe a scandal itself.”

Damn Fox News.

One more Foxy link for you, only this time it deals with Hillary Clinton: Hillary Clinton on FOX News with Greta Van Susteren and Brett Baier | Still4Hill

Hillary walked right into the mouth of the dragon and shot her fire extinguisher all over the flames.

In fact I did not expect Greta to be hard on her,  and she was not except that once the record got a little stuck on a Fourth Amendment question.  Later, Greta admitted that despite all prior interviews with Hillary she did feel stressed and later wished she had had more time.  For my money they could have given Greta Brett’s time.

In response to something from Brett, she suggested that people read the unclassified ARB Report.

2844923605445baeeb949f9ef3b62ed5Still4Hill has a link to the report at her blog, go and check it out. There are also video clips of the Greta and Bret interviews there as well…

Another Hillary link: Hillary Clinton notes distance from Obama on Syria rebels | Reuters

Potential Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pointed out her differences with President Barack Obama on Tuesday over his decision not to arm moderate Syrian rebels, as neighboring Iraq struggles to cope with extremist spillover from Syria.

“We pushed very hard. But as I say in my book, I believe that Harry Truman was right, the buck stops with the president,”

Clinton said in a CNN interview.

The former secretary of state said she, along with the then heads of the Pentagon and CIA tried but failed to persuade Obama to arm the rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but that the White House resisted.

Clinton said it was not clear whether arming moderates in Syria would have prevented the rise of the al Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has swept toward Baghdad aiming to build a Muslim caliphate across the Iraqi-Syrian border.1f774b3e4531d99d0b6b08fe7b6a4105

“It’s very difficult, in retrospect, to say that would have prevented this,” she said. She said it is too soon to tell whether American policy in Syria was a failure.

 

The countdown is began and ended here in Georgia as the BBC is picking up on the story:  Georgia in first US execution since botched attempt

The US state of Georgia is set to execute the first person in the US since a botched lethal injection in Texas in April.

Marcus Wellons, who raped and killed a 15-year-old in 1989, is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday evening.

A last-minute appeal over the source of the drugs is with the US Supreme Court.

Wellons is one of three set to die in the next 24 hours, after nine executions were stayed since one in Oklahoma went wrong seven weeks ago.

de679001e55f03779d2fd45f39445118Officials in Oklahoma halted the execution of Clayton Lockett after he began making noises, and he died of a heart attack less than an hour later.

Like Oklahoma, Georgia refuses to say where they are obtaining drugs for lethal injections, or if they are tested.

Lawyers for Wellons, as well as others on death row, have challenged such secrecy in court.

 

Well, the execution went on as expected: UPDATE: Marcus Wellons has been executed | www.ajc.com

Since I am writing this post only a few minutes after his death has been confirmed I will update this story in the comments below.

One thing all these stories have threaded together is a subject of hard news…Why Audiences Hate Hard News—And Love Pretending Otherwise – Derek Thompson – The Atlantic

You may not realize this, but we can see you. Yes, you. The human reading this article. We have analytics that tells us roughly where you are, what site you’ve just arrived from, how long you stay, how far you read, where you hop to next. We’ve got eyeballs on your eyeballs.3df8e0446c3c42d7ee36e40dcaba96a0

Why is it so important that digital news organizations track which articles you’re reading on our websites? The obvious answer is that it teaches us what you’re interested in. The less-obvious, but equally true, answer is that it teaches you what you’re interested in.

If we merely asked what you wanted, without measuring what you wanted, you’d just keep lying to us—and to yourself.

Here’s what I mean by lying. This year, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism asked thousands of people around the world what sort of news was most important to them. The graph below shows the responses from Americans. International news crushed celebrity and “fun” news by a margin of two-to-one. Economic and political news finished even higher.

It is an interesting thing…as far as what is most important compared to what the people actually read.

Ask audiences what they want, and they’ll tell you vegetables. Watch them quietly, and they’ll mostly eat candy.

31907593da272ba27746cd5b018e949aAudiences are liars, and the media organizations who listen to them without measuring them are dupes. At the Aspen Ideas Festival last year, Ehab Al Shihabi, executive director of international operations for Al Jazeera America, shared survey data suggesting that 40 to 50 million people were desperate for in-depth and original TV journalism. Nine months later, it averaged 10,000 viewers per hour—1.08 percent of Fox News’ audience and 3.7 percent of CNN. AJAM, built for an audience of vegetarians, is stuck with a broccoli stand in a candy shop.

The culprit isn’t Millennials, or Facebook, or analytics software like Chartbeat. The problem is our brains. The more attention-starved we feel, the more we thirst for stimuli that are familiar. We like ice cream when we’re sad, old songs when we’re tired, and easy listicles when we’re busy and ego-depleted. The Internet shorthand for this fact is “cat pictures.” Psychologists prefer the term fluency. Fluency isn’t how we think: It’s how we feel while we’re thinking. We prefer thoughts that come easily: Faces that are symmetrical, colors that are clear, and sentences with parallelisms. In this light, there are two problems with hard news: It’s hard and it’s new. (Parallelism!)

 

63de3f122b93c22f070d5c889ce23d52Okay that is taking some choice paragraphs here and there…just go and “read” the whole thing at the link. It has graphs and list too.

Since we are talking about people who lie about reading news stories, what about something dealing with handwriting. What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades – NYTimes.com

Does handwriting matter?

Not very much, according to many educators. The Common Core standards, which have been adopted in most states, call for teaching legible writing, but only in kindergarten and first grade. After that, the emphasis quickly shifts to proficiency on the keyboard.

But psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep.

Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.

“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Collège de France in Paris. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain.

b9438217088e3382bb42b00ef2dfc63d“And it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize,” he continued. “Learning is made easier.”

Could there be a connection be handwriting, news reading habits and education development?

A 2012 study led by Karin James, a psychologist at Indiana University, lent support to that view. Children who had not yet learned to read and write were presented with a letter or a shape on an index card and asked to reproduce it in one of three ways: trace the image on a page with a dotted outline, draw it on a blank white sheet, or type it on a computer. They were then placed in a brain scanner and shown the image again.

The researchers found that the initial duplication process mattered a great deal. When children had drawn a letter freehand, they exhibited increased activity in three areas of the brain that are activated in adults when they read and write: the left fusiform gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior parietal cortex.

By contrast, children who typed or traced the letter or shape showed no such effect. The activation was significantly weaker.

Dr. James attributes the differences to the messiness inherent in free-form handwriting: Not only must we first plan and execute the action in a way that is not required when we have a traceable outline, but we are also likely to produce a result that is highly variable.

That variability may itself be a learning tool. “When a kid produces a messy letter,” Dr. James said, “that might help him learn it.”

Finally, the last “news read” I have for you today could fall in the “fun” category. Stamp sells for record $9.5 million in New York

David Redden, Sotheby's Vice Chairman, holds the British Guyana One-Cent Magenta after it sold for USD$ 9,480,000 (with buyers' premium) at Sotheby's June 17, 2014 in New York

Stan Honda/AFP

David Redden, Sotheby’s Vice Chairman, holds the British Guyana One-Cent Magenta after it sold for USD$ 9,480,000 (with buyers’ premium) at Sotheby’s June 17, 2014 in New York

An incredibly rare 19th century postage stamp, a tiny one-cent magenta from British colonial Guyana, sold for $9.5 million in New York on Tuesday, setting a new world record.

Bidding began at $4.5 million and it took just two minutes to sell the stamp to an anonymous bidder on the phone, although the auction house Sotheby’s had valued the tiny specimen of British colonial memorabilia at $10-20 million.

09664cc10b3bb4c3414e849cae7d1d1f“With the premium the stamp has just sold for approximately $9.5 million, which means it has set a new world record price for a stamp,” David Redden, Sotheby’s director of special projects, told a packed room in New York.

Can you believe it? 9.5 million dollars? Wow…

So what “candy” are you reading about today?

Although I know most of you here read “vegetables” all day long.


Sunday Reads: What Lurks on Channel X?

b78ba9697f6b3c820fe7045fe58d262f Good Morning

and

Happy Father’s Day

(And that goes out to you especially Ralphie boy!)

I don’t know, but from the looks of that

old comic there ————->

…it would be safe to guess that ugly dog face men with cow ears and no bodies lurk on Channel X.

Actually, one of those things looks like Herman Munster.

Okay, seriously. This is going to be a quickie post, my internet is acting up and the service keeps freezing up on me.

Today’s post will have images of comic monsters, furry…slimy things. Monsters that are funny looking.

First up a series of news links:

From Voice of America: US Orders USS George H.W. Bush to Gulf

The United States has ordered an aircraft carrier into the Gulf in response to the crisis in Iraq.

The Pentagon spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby, says Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gave the order that the USS George H.W. Bush move from the North Arabian Sea to the Gulf Saturday.
Kirby says the order provides President Barack Obama “additional flexibility should military options be required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq.”

A guided-missile cruiser and a guided-missile destroyer will accompany the aircraft carrier.

2cd6f830a669d909a2005c4f1b5df00eUgh. I will just let that go for now. Sigh.

In another development Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country is ready to help Iraq if asked, and would consider working with Tehran’s longtime foe, the United States, in fighting Sunni extremists if Washington decides to take strong action against the fighters. Iran has developed close ties in recent years with the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday his national security advisers are preparing “a range of options” for U.S. assistance to Iraq’s government as it faces an assault by al-Qaida inspired Islamist militants.

The president said the militants who have overrun parts of Iraq are a threat to the Baghdad government and people throughout the country, and pose an active threat to American interests as well. He said division among Iraq’s leadership has led to the current crisis.

According to news reports by Reuters, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the Washington’s assistance would only work if Iraqi leaders “overcame deep divisions.” The top U.S. diplomat communicated the information in a Saturday phone call with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

In India: With 4 Hangings in 2 Weeks, India’s Women Are Living in Fear | TIME

Recent cases are only the tip of an ‘endemic’ problem that runs deep in the region’s societies, says senior Amnesty researcher Divya Iyer.

9304e3f93d211a53851f73ea0d05bb74Meanwhile here in the States…we have a year to date total on the number of children deported back to Mexico, via Raw Story: More than 6,000 Mexican ‘unaccompanied minors’ sent back from U.S.

More than 6,000 Mexican children and teens who crossed unaccompanied and illegally into the United States were repatriated in the first four months of this year, Mexican officials said Saturday.

In nearly all cases, the children had already been arrested at least once, and some more than five times, in attempts to cross the US border.

The children make the grueling journey of hundreds of miles (kilometers) through Mexico to escape dire economic conditions and violence in their home countries, and to join relatives in the United States.

“From January 1 to April 30, 2014, the Mexican consular network offered assistance to 6,233 unaccompanied Mexican minors… in the process of their repatriation to Mexico,” a statement from the foreign ministry said.

Of them, nearly 77 percent had been detained more than once in attempts to cross the border, and 21 percent had been previously been held more than five times.

On the domestic terrorist front:

Las Vegas gunman’s Infowars posts included speculation about killing cops – Salon.com

This article was originally published by The Southern Poverty Law Center.

In the wake of Sunday’s deadly attacks in North Las Vegas, at the hands of two antigovernment “Patriot” extremists, Infowars host Alex Jones warned his listeners that the media would soon start claiming that there’s a connection between his conspiracist media operation and the killers.

As a matter of fact, Jerad Miller – the 31-year-old Indiana man who led the attack, assisted by his 22-year-old wife, Amanda – liked to post on the Infowars member forum. And he constantly promoted Infowars on his Facebook page.

In one of his Infowars posts, Miller even speculated about whether or not he should kill police officers.

“The emerging narrative in the Las Vegas shooting now includes Alex Jones,” the Infowars site complained shortly after news of the shootings broke. In short order, Jones began calling the shootings a “false flag operation” secretly staged by nefarious federal government operatives who set it up to look like it was a crime committed by domestic terrorists.

“The incident is custom-made to demonize the patriot movement,” the Infowars site claimed. “The Southern Poverty Law Center has consistently attempted to forge a link between white supremacists and members of the patriot and constitutional movements.”

Jones became downright imaginative, explaining to his listeners, in one rant, how he would go about setting up the murders if he were a government agent, and then warning that the shootings mean that “civil war is coming”. He also began assigning responsibility for the “false flag operation.” In one rant, he accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of being behind the crimes. In another, it was the work of President Obama and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.


Jones’ wild claims must be intended to distract from the fact that, as Media Matters reported, Miller avidly posted Infowars links on his Facebook page and urged his readers to the website – saying, in one such post, to “get informed or get stupid”.What those claims fail to explain is why, beginning in May 2012, Jerad Miller became an Infowars forum member and began posting long pieces there. In all, he appears to have published five posts, though one of them titled “A Short Story About Protesting” is no longer available.

ee7cc0ca90f799d3e062edd4eb4435b5If this man was a Muslim…and he used infowars forum to post shit regarding his plan to kill cops…then that website would be shut down. Right?

By far the most striking and disturbing of these posts is the May 28, 2012, post he titled: “The Police (to kill or not to kill?).” Most of it is devoted to him explaining at length that he’s mostly a law-abiding citizen who doesn’t steal from people, but police oppression over his marijuana business is driving him to think of violence: “I am like a wild coyote,” he wrote.  “You corner me, I will fight to the death.” He continued:

I feel that I have been violated and tread upon.  That the so called justice system has done me harm.  I do not wish to kill police.  I understand that most of them believe they are doing the right thing.  Yet, I will not go to jail, because I have not committed a crime!  I would rather die than be labeled as a criminal.  Let them call me a terrorist.  Let them label me as a fanatic, some nut job.  I know the truth, and so does God.  I’m sure our founding fathers were labeled as such.

It concluded with what appears in hindsight to be a conclusion:

So, do I kill cops and make a stand when they come to get me?  I would prefer to die than sit in their jail, when I have done nothing to hurt anyone.

Jones is also in the news for this recent shit story: Alex Jones and gun advocate Larry Pratt: Obama training military to attack the Tea Party

Right Wing Watch reported that Pratt was appearing on Jones’ Infowars radio show when the two began to discuss the furor that surrounded a 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security that warned of a possible rise in far-right extremist violence in the United States.

Jones and Pratt declared that the DHS report was a plot against conservatives and that Pres. Obama is planning on using an obscure law passed in 2010 as justification for the use of military force against members of the Tea Party.

The conservative Washington Timesreported the story as if Obama had invented a provision of federal law that allowed for intervention by the military on domestic soil “in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible.” However, the clause is a longstanding one that has been in effect under many presidents.

Jones, however, interprets the law to be official confirmation that the U.S. military is, at this moment, “training with tanks, armored vehicles, drones” to “take on the American people, mainly the Tea Party.”

“Well, he’s certainly not thinking that Muslims are a threat,” Pratt replied, “so he’s turning to his political opponents, declaring that they’re the enemy and ignoring the fact that Muslims from time to time have a tendency to go ‘boom.’”

c560b27bd150a4b7213222cd6c9e8cd0Geez, these assholes are the real monsters…I’m telling you!

Regarding another domestic terrorist shooting: Oregon school shooter’s journal reveals he was devout Mormon out to kill ‘sinners’

The diary of the 15-year-old Oregon high schooler who shot and killed a classmate and injured a teacher before turning the gun on himself revealed that the teen was a religious fundamentalist who was out to kill “sinners.”

According to the New York Daily News, freshman Jared Padgett was known at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Gresham, OR as being quiet, but was “highly regarded for his spirituality” by church elders.

Padgett walked into Reynolds High School last Tuesday carrying “an AR-15 type rifle, a semi-automatic handgun, ammunition and a large knife,” and opened fire, killing freshman Emilio Hoffman. Portland’s KGW reported that police found the teenager’s journal while searching through the belongings he left behind.

A police source told the TV station that Padgett did not name specific students or teachers in his plans, but was rather on a mission to cleanse the world of “sinners.”

79c243066d401b753852d85102673854But hey, let’s not just catch up on the killers. Check out some other classy folks, this one in Florida: Florida Mom Kidnaps Daughter to Avoid Vaccines, Learning Black History

A mother in Sunrise, Florida is now facing a federal criminal charge after disappearing with her two-year-old daughter last month in order to avoid having her vaccinated. (This served the dual purpose of keeping her from being “brainwashed” and keeping her out of school, where she might learn about black history).

According to the Sun-Sentinel, Megan Elizabeth Everett, 22, disappeared on May 6th after Robert Baumann—with whom she shares custody of their daughter, Lilly—dropped Lilly off at her home. Everett was supposed to return Lilly a week later, in compliance with a shared custody agreement, but never showed up. She instead left a note for Baumann, saying:

“You are a great dad. If I let them take her and vaccinate her and brainwash her, I wouldn’t be doing what’s right. I cannot let a judge tell me how my daughter should be raised. We will miss you. But I had to leave.”

A warrant for Everett’s arrest was issued on May 19, on charges of kidnapping, interference with custody, and concealing a minor contrary to a court order. The federal charge accused Everett of crossing state lines to avoid prosecution for the state charges.

This is probably going to end up sad…as you can imagine, Everett lived with her mother until she:

 

 

…became involved with a man named Carlos Lesters, at which point she severed ties with her family.

The Sun-Sentinel states that court documents describe Lesters as a “Confederate-flag-waving gun enthusiast with family members in Georgia and Kentucky.”Sunrise Police Searching For Missing Toddler - NBC 6 South Florida 2014-06-15 10-07-03

Robert Baumann, who had planned to vaccinate his daughter and enroll her in preschool the next time he had custody, said:

“One of the issues we had was, she wanted to home-school my daughter. I didn’t want that to happen. She didn’t want Lilly to learn about black history. She just wanted her to learn about the Confederacy.” … “She found this new idea that vaccines are horrible. I think she wanted to keep her from being vaccinated because that would keep her out of day care.”

After Lilly’s disappearance, Sunrise police went to her last known address, where they found Lesters. He told them that Everett and her daughter were gone and “not coming back.” The federal criminal complaint states:

“Lesters informed detectives that Everett … knew she would have to live her life as a fugitive. However, in her mind, the time that she spent with her daughter ‘free’ of Baumann would be ‘worth it,’ regardless of how brief the time was.”

Everette and Lilly are still missing…(Updated to include picture of Everette and Lilly.)

a4abb019d1f00a9fd359853f73d78162More GOP crazy, only with a touch of reason: GOP Candidate Condemns Her Own Husband’s ‘Inappropriate’ Remarks | Mediaite

When was the last time you heard about a politician disavowing or condemning something their own spouse said? Well, Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst did just that this week when she publicly expressed how “appalled” she was by her husband’s past outlandish comments about former Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano.

According to The Des Moines Register, Ernst’s husband referred to Napolitano as a “traitorous skank” on Facebook last year, and a month before that he made a joke about shooting an ex-wife. And in addition to that, he also once called Hillary Clinton a “hag.”

Reached for public comment about her husband’s posts, Ernst was unequivocally outraged.

“I’m appalled by my husband’s remarks… They are uncalled for and clearly inappropriate. I’ve addressed this issue with my husband and that’s between us.”

Meanwhile, Gail Ernst took down those posts in questions and posted an apology to his Facebook page.

Good for her!

c104604a42ae1d1dc6d39350405470fcSpeaking of Hillary: Hillary Clinton’s Book Tour Watch: CostCo in Arlington – You Never Know Who You Might Bump Into! | Still4Hill

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor bumped into Hillary Clinton at a Costco in Arlington, Virginia on Saturday.

Someone else was shopping there too…go see who at the link.

Rest of the links will be in dump fashion.

50 years ago, ‘Freedom Summer’ changed South, US – SFGate

… hundreds of volunteers — mostly Northern white college students — who descended on Mississippi during what came to be known as “Freedom Summer.” They came to register blacks to vote, and to establish “Freedom Schools” and community centers to help prepare those long disenfranchised for participation in what they hoped would be a new political order.

Opposition was brutal. Churches were bombed, volunteers were arrested, beaten — even murdered.

The Rabbi Cardinal O’Connor Never Knew: His Grandfather – NYTimes.com

In his 16 years as the Catholic Church’s top official in New York, Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor was a staunch friend and defender of the Jewish people.

He spoke often about what he had seen at Dachau as a Navy chaplain. He used his platform as head of the Archdiocese of New York to support Soviet Jewry, and played a role in the Vatican’s recognition of the state of Israel. Mayor Edward I. Koch, a Bronx-born Jew who worked closely with the cardinal, proclaimed that he loved him “like a brother.”

Yet there was something Cardinal O’Connor apparently never knew: His mother was born a Jew, the daughter of a rabbi.

14c4a1ed09743ffd58d8053c7aa93f11This is from OpEdNews.com…so not sure of the veracity. Article: Fukushima’s Children are Dying | OpEdNews

Some 39 months after the multiple explosions at Fukushima, thyroid cancer rates among nearby children have skyrocketed to more than forty times (40x) normal.

More than 48 percent of some 375,000 young people–nearly 200,000 kids–tested by the Fukushima Medical University near the smoldering reactors now suffer from pre-cancerous thyroid abnormalities, primarily nodules and cysts. The rate is accelerating.

See what I mean. Read it, because it is alarming….even more so if the reports are true.

From Phys.org:  Oregon hopes to be first state to map GMO fields

A couple of links on World Cup 2014:

As World Cup Begins, Refereeing Again Becomes an Issue – NYTimes.com

2014 World Cup ball has better aerodynamics: NASA

4d8634fb9e9f13680fa3b49c910d288aThis next link is from a magazine called the Best of Sicily. After you read it, take a look around the site…it is awesome! Joan of England, Joanna Plantagenet, Queen of Sicily – Best of Sicily Magazine

Since we start with a medieval history link, let’s take a look at a few more…from Medieval.net:

Quiz: Can You Name the Location of These Churches?

A Grave Revisited: On Grave Robbery in Viking Age Iceland

Medieval Images of the Human Body

And sticking with old ass news…but not medieval old ass news:

91-Year-Old Man Returns Library Book after 61 Years

Back in 1953, the world was a different place. We were somewhere between a Truman and an Eisenhower presidency, Dean Martin and Perry Como were leading the charts, and people used these rather crude and uncivilized collections of books called libraries. Egads, how did they live before the internet?

Ron Webster of Derbyshire, England, was working as a research assistant at the social sciences department of the University of Liverpool, and checked out a book from one of these libraries entitled Structure and Function in Primitive Society. But when he left to work in London, he committed the grave crime of forgetting to return his library book.

It wasn’t until very recently, 61 years later, that he discovered the book and realized where it came from. So, he did the honest thing and returned the book. Librarian Phil Sykes was pretty amused at the situation. Via University of Liverpool:

They called me and said you’ve got to come down. There’s a gentleman trying to return a book he took out in 1953. He’s 91-years-old!

I can only think of one thing:

But check out the fees that were owed…

Webster racked up a sizable late fee of £4,510 (20p per day for 22,550 days), but Sykes was kind and sane enough to waive the fee.

“Of course, I cannot condone the late return of books but I remitted the fine of £4,510 on the condition that Mr Webster agreed, henceforth, to live an exemplary life and return all his books on time.”

10bfcf73382ac423757d0d392cb36366That is some big money. Dude was lucky they waived the fees.

Well, I will end this post with a tale of a King called Lear: Putting the baa into the Baaard: It’s King Lear with sheep

“A friend of mine has just got back from Harvard,” it reads, “and is putting on a version of King Lear in which the cast is almost exclusively composed of real sheep in Shakespearian costume.”

 

 

Intriguing, and made even more so by the fact that the sender of said email is one Charlie Gilmour. Contact is made. Tentatively, I broach the subject of whether I am talking to that Charlie Gilmour, the young man who was known only as the son of David Gilmour the Pink Floyd guitarist until he spent four months in prison in 2011 for violent disorder (he was photographed hanging from the Cenotaph) during the tuition-fee riots.

“I keep myself to myself, these days,” he says. But I will go to see my friend Heather’s play [staged for the first time last night at DIG Open Studios in south-east London].” So a little of that anarchic spirit remains, I venture? “Indeed.”

“It is a hate letter to the theatre,” the show’s producer Lucie Elven says. “It is about a director who tries to put on a production of King Lear with sheep and, obviously, the sheep refuse to talk to him. In the original play, there is a lot about silence: Cordelia refusing to tell her father she loves him, and our production echoes that because obviously the sheep are not performing.”

If you think this is a joke, its not…check out their Facebook page:

DIG presents King Lear with Sheep

A stubborn director is trying to put on a production of King Lear with a cast composed solely of sheep. As expected, his actors are both silent and mutinous. Much chaos ensues. King Lear with Sheep is an experimental re-evaluation of its famous predecessor that overturns theatrical conventions through the startling and revolutionary device of costumed sheep.

Sheep! In tiny costumes!

Capacity is EXTREMELY LIMITED so arrive early if you want a seat! The event is free, but there will be a suggested donation on the door (so I can give my sheep a living wage)

CREW

Writer/Director —- Heather Williams
Producer/Assistant Director —- Lucie Elven
Costume Design —- Ava Asaadi, Camille Auclair, Anna Reid
Set Design —- Pippa Scarcliffe
Build Crew —- James Butler
Lighting Design —- Nick Morris
Sound Design —- Cy An

CAST

Director —- Alasdair Saksena
King Lear —- Sheep #1
Cordelia —- Sheep #2
Goneril —- Sheep #3
Regan —- Sheep #4
Gloucester —- Sheep #5
Edgar —- Sheep #6
Edmund —- Sheep #7
Kent —- Sheep #8

Some of the sheep will be playing multiple roles. There will be a bar.

I love it!!!!!

Hopefully they post some pictures of the sheep in drag, I mean in costume. If so I will update the thread.

Ah, well…in the words of a famous porker (he’s no sheep mind you.) “That’s all folks!”  Y’all have a great day…what are you up to this Father’s Day?


Friday Reads: Some Things Just Never Change

leaving vietnamGood Morning!

Do you remember the picture over there on the left?  It’s our country getting out of Vietnam in 1975.  That happened during my first year at university. My high school graduation was overshadowed by Watergate and the resignation of Nixon.  My coming of age was basically full of these kinds of things that jade you.  I won’t even go into the amazingly bad economy full of stagflation and unemployment. It’s amazing to me that my daughters now get to experience my Déjà vu with their fresh eyes. The photo down there on the right is the US leaving Iraq.  The similarities are frightening. So look at these  photos and then we will talk about Iraq which has been a singularly unpleasant topic for quite some time.  It’s more unraveling of very bad U.S. Policy.  Rachel Maddow covered it very thoroughly last night. Iraq is basically splitting into three distinct entities. It appears Baghdad will fall shortly. Last Troops Out of Iraq   Iraq is completely and fully experiencing a civil war.

Iraq was on the brink of falling apart Thursday as al-Qaeda renegades asserted their authority over Sunni areas in the north, Kurds seized control of the city of Kirkuk and the Shiite-led government appealed for volunteers to help defend its shrinking domain. The discredited Iraqi army scrambled to recover after the humiliating rout of the past three days, dispatching elite troops to confront the militants in the central town of Samarra and claiming that it had recaptured Tikrit, the home town of the late Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein, whose regime was toppled by U.S. troops sweeping north from Kuwait in 2003. But there was no sign that the militant push was being reversed. With the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria now sweeping south toward Baghdad, scattering U.S.-trained security forces in its wake, the achievements of America’s eight-year war in Iraq were rapidly being undone. Iraq now seems to be inexorably if unintentionally breaking apart, into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish enclaves that amount to the de facto partition of the country. As the scale of the threat to the collapsing Iraqi state became clear, Obama administration officials met to discuss options for a response, including possible airstrikes. An Iraqi official in the office of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the United States had committed to carrying out airstrikes against the militants, but U.S. officials said no decision had been reached. President Obama indicated there would be some form of intervention, though he did not specify what. “It’s fair to say . . . there will be some short-term things that need to be done militarily,” he said.

 vietnam-war-protestIraqi Kurds have taken the oil-rich city of Kirkuk while radical Sunnis head for Baghdad.  Shia radicals aligned with Iran and Syria have also moved into the embattled country.

In Mosul, Sunni militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) staged a parade of American Humvees seized from the collapsing Iraqi army in the two days since the fighters drove out of the desert and overran Iraq’s second biggest city. Two helicopters, also seized by the militants, flew overhead, witnesses said, apparently the first time the militant group has obtained aircraft in years of waging insurgency on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian frontier. State television showed what it said was aerial footage of Iraqi aircraft firing missiles at insurgent targets in Mosul. The targets could be seen exploding in black clouds. Further south, the fighters extended their lightning advance to towns only about an hour’s drive from the capital Baghdad, where Shi’ite militia are mobilizing for a potential replay of the ethnic and sectarian bloodbath of 2006-2007. Trucks carrying Shi’ite volunteers in uniform rumbled towards the front lines to defend the capital. The stunning advance of ISIL, which aims to build a Caliphate ruled on medieval Sunni Islamic principles across Syria and Iraq, is the biggest threat to Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew in 2011. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes in fear as the militants seized the main cities of the Tigris valley north of Baghdad in a matter of days. The security forces of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish north, known as the peshmerga, or those who confront death, took over bases in Kirkuk vacated by the army, a spokesman said.

There were no jihadis in Iraq when Dubya et al lied us into war.  There certainly are jihadis there now.iraq_protest_trim

As the U.S. pullout began under the terms of a treaty signed in 2008 by then-President George W. Bush, Maliki, the leader of a Shiite political party, promised to run a more inclusive government—to bring more Sunnis into the ministries, to bring more Sunnis from the Sons of Iraq militia into the national army, to settle property disputes in Kirkuk, to negotiate a formula on sharing oil revenue with Sunni districts, and much more.

Maliki has since backpedaled on all of these commitments and has pursued policies designed to strengthen Shiites and marginalize Sunnis. That has led to the resurgence of sectarian violence in the past few years. The Sunnis, finding themselves excluded from the political process, have taken up arms as the route to power. In the process, they have formed alliances with Sunni jihadist groups—such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which has seized not just Mosul but much of northern Iraq—on the principle that the enemy of their enemy is their friend.
Something like this has happened before. Between 2005 and 2006, jihadists who called themselves al-Qaida in Iraq, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, took control of Anbar province, in the western part of the country, by playing on the population’s fear of the anti-Sunni ethnic-cleansing campaigns launched by Maliki’s army.* ISIS, an offshoot of Zarqawi’s organization, is following the same handbook, picking up support from one of northern Iraq’s leading Sunni militias, Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqah al-Naqshbandia, or JRTN. That is a risky move for a group like JRTN, which shares neither the millenarian goals nor the extremely violent tactics of ISIS (which, it’s worth noting, was expelled from al-Qaida because even current al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri considered the group too violent). But JRTN’s leaders have accepted the risk for now to advance their own goal of overthrowing Maliki. (They boast that they have been fighting alongside ISIS, but disavow involvement in the killing of civilians.)
The fall of Mosul is particularly poignant because that was the city where peace and prosperity seemed most likely in the early days of the American occupation. David Petraeus, then the three-star general who commanded the 101st Airborne Division, applied his theory of counterinsurgency to all of Nineveh province, of which Mosul was the capital. And, for a while anyway, it worked.

While most U.S. commanders in post-Hussein Iraq were ordering their soldiers to bust down doors and arrest or shoot all men who seemed to be insurgents, Petraeus and his team took steps to create a government. Using funds pilfered from Saddam Hussein’s coffers, they vetted candidates for a citywide election (selecting leaders from all factions and tribes), started up newspapers and TV stations, coordinated fuel shipments from Turkey, and reopened businesses, communication lines, and the university. This game plan was classic “nation-building,” a phrase anathema to most Army generals and the secretary of defense at the time, Donald Rumsfeld. The idea was not to make the people of Mosul love America, but rather to make them feel invested in the future of the new Iraq.

Hillary RodhamSo, it seems Dubya et all have not only brought on a civil war in Iraq, they planted the seeds for a civil war in the Republican Party.  More than ever, it’s important to vote in the midterms this year.  We cannot afford to have this battle fought on the floor of our Congress.  The Tealiban are fed up with lip service.  They want to make sure that women wear their versions of the head-to-toe burkhas, that gays are stoned, and that we have no federal government to stand in the way of a new NeoConfederacy.

The GOP’s leadership crisis extends beyond Congress. In recent cycles, Republican presidential primaries have been relatively orderly affairs where the party establishment rallies around a frontrunner—often the person who came in second the last time (Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney)—who holds off right-wing challengers on his way to the nomination. This year, however, that kind of elite control looks unlikely. Chris Christie, the first choice of many GOP leaders, is so wounded that even if he runs, he will not be the frontrunner. Some donors are rallying behind Jeb Bush. If he does not run, they may turn to Marco Rubio. But the road to the GOP nomination runs through Iowa and South Carolina, whose Republican activists resemble the anti-establishment, talk-radio-powered folks who knocked off Cantor. If those activists helped defeat Cantor merely for supporting citizenship for undocumented immigrant children, think how they’ll react to Bush or Rubio, who support a path to citizenship for their parents as well. In the Democratic Party, by contrast—which has enjoyed a reputation for organizational anarchy since the days of Will Rogers—party hierarchies are clear and largely unchallenged. A February Pew poll found that Democrats were more than 20 points more likely than Republicans to say their party’s leaders stand up for party principles. And the consequences are plain to see.

Even though a lot of us–including me–are not really Democrats or Republicans, it is important that the extremists in the Republican party go no further.  We could spend the next two years with a right wing radicalism we’ve never seen before in this country.

American political parties always face a tension between their establishment and ideological wings. On the Republican side, going back more than a hundred years to the Teddy Roosevelt era, that was a struggle between moderate progressives and conservatives. Now it is different. There are no moderates or progressives in today’s GOP; the fight is between hard-line conservatives who believe in smaller government and radical nihilists who want to blow up the whole thing, who have as much disdain for Republican traditional conservatives as they do for liberals.

Meanwhile, the urban-rural, reactionary-progressive split seems more pronounced than ever.  An extremely interesting Pew Poll was released 012414_powerplay_full_640yesterday that shows exactly what it means to live in a divided America.

The overall share of Americans who express consistently conservative or consistently liberal opinions has doubled over the past two decades from 10% to 21%. And ideological thinking is now much more closely aligned with partisanship than in the past. As a result, ideological overlap between the two parties has diminished: Today, 92% of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat, and 94% of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican. Today 92% of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat, and 94% of Democrats are to the left of the median RepublicanPartisan animosity has increased substantially over the same period. In each party, the share with a highly negative view of the opposing party has more than doubled since 1994. Most of these intense partisans believe the opposing party’s policies “are so misguided that they threaten the nation’s well-being.”

I guess I do agree that today’s Republican party is a threat to this country.  It’s definitely a threat to American women.

Here’s a Fresh Air interview with Hillary Clinton if you’re interested.

Hillary Clinton is on a national book tour for her new memoir, Hard Choices. The book outlines her four years as secretary of state during President Obama’s first term, when she met with leaders all over the world.

One of her priorities was to campaign for gay rights and women’s rights. She says she saw the “full gamut” on how women were treated, and in some cases it was “painful to observe.”

“It has become — and I think will continue to be — a very important issue for the United States to combat around the world and to stand up for the rights of all people,” she tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross.

The only thing that gives me hope is that the average Fox viewer and Republican are older than me.  Let’s hope our daughters and sons, our granddaughters and grandsons see the insanity of repeating these same mistakes.  The polls of our future citizens look a lot more hopeful than the polls based on the old guard.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?