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

ad24_3Good Morning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Webb/Magnum Photos

“Havana, 2013” More Photos »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Restaurant in Havana, note the Albinos allowed sign.

Restaurant in Havana, note the Albinos allowed sign.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bet you can guess the answer to that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest at the link.

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

Read the rest of this entry »


Victims everywhere…Evening Open Thread

$(KGrHqQOKkYE0+BgvkjUBN(F0pVDgw~~_35Good Evening

My kids are still very sick, and it seems to be moving on to other members of the family. I wish I could write more about the links I have to share with you tonight, but the articles speak for themselves.

On the eve of gun control legislation in Colorado: Director of Colorado Prisons Fatally Shot at Home

As Colorado’s governor signed a hard-won package of gun control measures on Wednesday, officials across the state were reeling from the seemingly inexplicable shooting death of the state’s prisons chief, who was gunned down at the front door of his home.

The brazen killing of Tom Clements, a man described by friends and colleagues as a dedicated and thoughtful public servant, left state officials shaken and grasping for answers on Wednesday. State troopers increased security around the State Capitol, and some state workers said Mr. Clements’s death had put them on edge.

The state police said they had known of no specific threats against Mr. Clements before 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, when someone approached his house in the pine-fringed hills of the town of Monument, near Colorado Springs, and shot him as he answered the door. Into Wednesday night, investigators were still searching for any trace of his killer, but said they had no suspects or motive.

Police are looking for a boxy two-door car that was seen in the area on the night of the killing.

They said Mr. Clements’s post, overseeing more than 20,000 inmates in Colorado’s prisons and parole system, might have made him a target.

Among his most prominent recent decisions, he denied a request this month from a prominent Saudi-born prisoner convicted of sexually abusing his housekeeper to serve the duration of his sentence in Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Clements’s death came just hours before Colorado’s governor, John W. Hickenlooper, signed a bitterly divisive package of gun control measures into law, capping weeks of tumultuous and emotional debate about gun ownership and violence in a state scarred by two mass shootings.

Mike Lupica has another article up today, this one about the news that the assault weapons ban was removed by the Senate. Spineless pols spit on the graves of Newtown victims by not pushing for assault weapons ban

The words of a teary-eyed President and other politicians meant nothing, because they didn’t turn into action, as a ban on assault weapons won’t be included in gun legislation that’s shaping up in the U.S. Senate. After Newtown and the other tragedies, it begs the question, ‘If not now, when?’

[...]

But what does the President say now to the families of the victims of Sandy Hook, and Aurora, Colo., and all the other victims of mass murders and glory killers in this country? What does he say now that it becomes clear that a ban on assault weapons won’t even be legitimately included in the gun legislation being shaped this week in the U.S. Senate?

Any fool knows that Lanza couldn’t possibly have killed as many children as quickly as he did on the morning of Dec. 14 without an assault weapon in his hands. So how does the President and any other big politician who allows the gun nuts from the National Rifle Association to win again answer the larger question about weapons that make killings like the elementary-school massacre ridiculously easy:

RELATED: SENATE PANEL PASSES ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN ON PARTY-LINE VOTE

If not now for a ban for these weapons, when?

If Sandy Hook Elementary doesn’t make every member of Congress take a stand against assault weapons in this country, then what does? How many small coffins do we need the next time?

Maybe Michael Moore does a have a point, according to Tommy Christopher: I Want Michael Moore To Be Wrong About Newtown Crime Scene Photos | Mediaite

And finally another rape victim being bullied, and what do you know….it deals with yet another powerhouse high school football team. Victim bullied after rape allegations against Torrington football players- The Register Citizen

Two Torrington High School football players stand accused of sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl. Four others were suspended in a hazing scandal last fall that is still under investigation. One player, the team’s second-highest scorer last fall, was allowed to play even though the team’s coach knew he had been charged with felony robbery and assault.School officials claim that the sexual assault charges against 18-year-olds Edgar Gonzalez and Joan Toribio, the hazing and other incidents are isolated problems and don’t signal a deeper issue with the culture of Torrington High School, its athletic programs or football team.

You need to read the rest of this article from Torrington Connecticut….words cannot express this disgust with the social media and the idiot assholes who use it to harass a 13-year old sexual assault victim.

This is an open thread…


Wednesday Reads: SSDD and tired of it!

5580383506_d06c583763_zGood Morning

(Uh, this post is full of the word shit…those with fragile sensibilities have been warned.)

Last week Boston Boomer mentioned the repetition of political news stories, that it is difficult to even find something to write about that really isn’t a re-hash of something we have said before.

It really has been the SSDD, same shit different day, and I am sick and tired of it.

gaplwxs8b64laz

So this post will highlight the usual crap, and touch on a few items that are just interesting…and have nothing to do with all the bullshit that is being spread around these days.

There is a group of states who have said no to Obamacare, 26 states who now will have their insurance one stop shop marketplaces set up and run by the Feds. (Sounds ironic doesn’t it.)

26 GOP States Refuse To Build Obamacare Marketplaces

A total of 26 Republican-led or Republican-leaning states have declined to establish insurance exchanges, a centerpiece of the reforms ushered in by the Affordable Care Act, ceding control of a critical element of their health care system to the federal government.

The ACA requires the creation of the one-stop marketplaces called exchanges to connect buyers and sellers of health insurance — the vehicle through which the law would expand coverage and protect consumers. The law encourages states to build their own exchanges under the guidelines. If they refuse, the federal government will take on the task.

By last Friday’s deadline, just 17 states and Washington, D.C., submitted their plans for exchanges. Just four of them are governed by Republicans — Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. An additional seven states intend to build their exchanges in partnership with the federal government. The exchanges are scheduled to go live on Jan. 1, 2014.

Of the remaining 26, twenty-four have Republican governors. The other two, Montana and Missouri, have decidedly conservatives electorates and Republican-controlled legislatures.

Kaiser Health News has a chart of where the states stand:

Personally, I think this story is a prime example of the political machine dishing the same old shit once again.

When the ACA created this structure, it seemed like a no-brainer that states would be on board. Why would any of them, especially the ones hostile to the law, willingly give up control of their health care systems to Washington?

Ironically the answer, by and large, is politics. Conservatives activists detest “Obamacare” and argue that any governor who agrees to build an exchange is abetting the law, even though the consequence of not doing to is to surrender more control to Washington. There is a substantive gripe, too: conservatives contend that the law offers too little flexibility for states to craft the exchanges in accordance with their needs.

vintage_tobacco_plant_manure_poster-rcd9b2d25213147b09d680b8c4d48eaf7_2wss_400I still wish like hell this Obamacare would magically morph into a single payer option, which would be the best way to get healthcare coverage to the masses. But that wish of mine is itself bullshit because it will never happen.

More crap is expected next month as the GOP right-wing nuts (CPAC) get together to discuss the topics they love. Maddow has a contest going on at her blog: TRMS writing challenge: The missing CPAC panels

Seriously, here are some of the actual titles of scheduled events:

CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, hits Washington March 14-16.  In addition to speeches by Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Steve King, Michele Bachmann, Jim DeMint,  Phyllis Schlafly, Sarah Palin, Brent Bozell, Rick Santorum and the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre,  CPAC is proud to present these panels (all real, BTW): 

  • Should We Shoot All the Consultants Now?
  • The Future of the Movement: Winning with Generation X/Y
  • Stop THIS: Threats, Harrassment, Intimidation, Slander and Bullying from the Obama Administration
  • How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love Plastic Water Bottles, Fracking, Genetically Modified Food, & Big Gulp Sodas
  • Is America Coming Apart?
  • The Fight for Religious Libery(sic): 40 years After Roe V. Wade
  • Getting Hollywood Right
  • Free at Last: When the Right to Work Came Back to the Midwest

Good grief! Now if that is not a list of the same old shit, I don’t know what is!

There was some surprising news last night, I expected to have to write about the latest controversial execution in my home state of Georgia, but check it out…a last minute stay of execution was granted to Warren Hill, a man that has learning disability. Warren Hill granted stay of execution

Warren Hill

Warren Hill, 53, has been granted a stay of execution from the federal appeals court for the 11th circuit. Photograph: Ho/AFP/Getty Images

Warren Hill, an intellectually disabled prisoner, has been spared the death chamber just 30 minutes before he was due to die by lethal injection in Georgia despite a US supreme court ban on executions of people with learning difficulties.

Hill, 53, had already taken an oral sedative of Ativan to help calm himself for the gurney before he learned of the stay of execution from the federal appeals court for the 11th circuit. The court agreed to consider the issue of his intellectual disabilities in the light of a 2002 US supreme court ruling that prohibits executions of “mentally retarded” prisoners as a breach of the constitutional safeguard against cruel and unusual punishment.

Georgia is the only state in the union that insists prisoners must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that they have learning difficulties – a standard that experts say is almost impossible to achieve.

Hill had been scheduled to be executed at 7pm at the same prison where Troy Davis was put to death in September 2011 amid massive international outcry. Davis’s death, despite substantial evidence of his innocence, prompted dramatic scenes at the prison where hundreds of protesters were confronted by armed Swat police armed with a police helicopter flying overhead.

This article from the Guardian makes a point to mention there were fewer protesters this time around.

Hill’s scheduled execution attracted a comparatively small response, with few protesters and campaigners present in the prison grounds as the appointed hour approached. This was the second time in seven months that Hill has come close to the death chamber: last July he was spared by just 90 minutes and the experience was repeated on Tuesday night with just 30 minutes to go.

I guess many people are feeling the apathy that SSDD brings to those who deal with the same shit every day, you know what I am talking about…that feeling of why even bother, things are never going to change. Shit always trickles downward…and it is invariably the same folks getting shit on, over and over again.

One more political link: GOP lawmakers propose $30 million a year to fund Cops in Schools program

Freshman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and six other House Republicans have proposed legislation that would spend $30 million a year on federal grants to help put police officers in schools across the country.

The Protect America’s Schools Act is a reaction to the December shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that left 20 children dead. After that shooting, National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre suggested that children in schools be protected by armed guards, and Meadows’s bill would appear to be a step in that direction.

“According to a recent Gallup poll, 53 percent of Americans believe that increasing police presence at schools would be very effective in preventing future tragedies,” Meadows said last week. “After speaking to local law enforcement, superintendents and principals in my district, I believe this is the best path forward.”

His bill, H.R. 751, would fund the Cops in Schools grant program, which has not been funded since 2005. Up to $30 million per year could be distributed in grants to help states afford the placement of police in schools.

Meadows said this spending would be offset with unspent funds from the operations budget of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The article reports this plan to put cops in schools got its start in the Clinton Administration…but this current bill is sponsored by GOP reps alone.  Why not put a big tax on the bullets and used that to fund the cops in schools?
Okay, the rest of today’s links are just plain interesting. Of course I give them to you in link dump fashion:
That Texas woman did not take fertility drugs, her pregnancy was a one in 70 million chance she would naturally conceive and carry two sets of identical twins.
And…finally, awards given in celebration of shit: Shit London awards 2012 – in pictures
The winners and runners-up in the second annual Shit London photography awards, celebrating the city’s ugliest buildings, worst shop names and most depressing views…
http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2012/12/5/1354725548235/Pigeons-on-Boris-bikes-027.jpg
I think that is enough shit for this morning’s post. Let’s get this party started…what are you all reading about this morning?

Sunday Reads: Fetuses are not people, my friend…and other irritating hypocrisies.

[Pulp magazine]: Weird Tales -- March 1934, Volume 23, Number 3.. Indianapolis, Indiana: Popular Fiction Publishing Company. 1934. Magazine. Cover by Margaret Brundage.

[Pulp magazine]: Weird Tales — March 1934, Volume 23, Number 3.. Indianapolis, Indiana: Popular Fiction Publishing Company. 1934. Magazine. Cover by Margaret Brundage.

Good Morning

Earlier this week we saw one hypocrisy after another. 

Can someone explain this to me?

How can a fetus…at seven months, a viable seven months mind you, not be a person? But…the clump of cells being aborted by a woman, who is executing her own right to choose, which is legal mind you…thanks to the Supreme Court….how can that clump of cells be a “child.”

I will tell you how, money…that is how fetuses are not people my friends!

Just take a look at some of these articles from this week alone.  Emphasis mine…

Anti-Abortion Protest Of 40th Roe V. Wade Anniversary Draws Thousands

Among the speakers at Friday’s rally was Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and staunch abortion opponent who last year unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination.

He recalled the love and support the country showed for his young daughter, Bella, who was born with a serious genetic condition and whose illness led him to take some time off from the campaign trail. He cited his daughter’s life — “she is joyful, she is sweet, she is all about love” — as a reason to discourage abortion even in instances when women are told that it would be “better” for their unborn children to have one.

“We all know that death is never better — never better. Really what it’s about is saying is it would be easier for us, not better for her,” he said. “And I’m here to tell you … Bella is better for us and we are better because of Bella.”

He said the anti-abortion cause was made up of people who every day advocate for their position outside abortion clinics and at crisis pregnancy centers.

This movement is not a bunch of moralizers standing on their mountaintop preaching what is right,” Santorum said.

One demonstrator, Mark Fedarko, 44, of Cleveland, said he regularly stands outside of abortion clinics in hopes of discouraging women from going inside.

There’s God’s law and man’s law,” he said. But I follow God’s law first. Like it says right here, thou shall not kill. That’s the end of the story. We need to protect these children.”

Ah…children. We must protect the children!

John Boehner: Ending Abortion Is ‘One Of Our Most Fundamental Goals This Year’

Addressing the crowd at the National Mall via video broadcast, Boehner said it’s time for anti-abortion activisits to “commit ourselves to doing everything we can to protect the sanctity of life.” Step one, he said, is making permanent the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal dollars from being used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape or incest.

“For the new Congress, that means bringing together a bipartisan pro-life majority and getting to work,” Boehner said. “In accordance with the will of the people, we will again work to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, formally codifying the Hyde Amendment.”

Boehner said he will make it a national priority to “help make abortion a relic of the past.”

“Let that be one of our most fundamental goals this year,” he said.

Yes….a fundamental goal…protect the sanctity of life.

But wait a moment: A Fetus Is Not a Person if it Costs us Money, Says Catholic Church

You know how the Catholic Church is always going on and on … and  on and freakin’  on … about the sanctity of life and also a bunch of vague concepts about liberty ‘n stuff? We can’t have abortion because every sperm is sacred. We can’t have insurance coverage for women’s health care because  something about Taco Bell and freedom. We can’t even  fund cancer screening because apparently Jesus was cool with women dying of undetected breast cancer.

And all of this—all of it—goes back to the Church’s insistence that life begins with your very first hell-worthy dirty thought and must be protected at all costs, despite all consequences, including, of course, the consequence of dead women, whose lives are not nearly as valuable as the “life” of an unborn fetus. In just the past year, the Church has called upon its faithful followers to march, to starve themselves, to go to jail, to even take up arms—all to protect those fetuses. No exceptions. None. Not if the fetus is already dead inside the womb. Not if the fetus is going to kill the actual living woman carrying it. No goddamned exceptions EVER.

Well, except for one: when it’s going to cost the Church money.

Turns out, when a man sues a Catholic hospital for malpractice because his wife and the twins she was carrying inside her died when she turned up in the emergency room and her doctor never bothered to answer a page—well, things get a little tricky. Yes, the Catholic hospital adheres to the strict Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church, as set forth by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. And yes, those directives include the claim that “[t]he Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn” and a mandate to uphold “the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death.'” But come  on. That obviously does not apply when Catholic Health Initiatives, the Church-affiliated organization that runs the Church-affiliated St. Thomas More Hospital where a young woman and her two unborn fetuses died, is the lead defendant in a lawsuit.

What? I just read a bunch of news articles that says we must save the sanctity of life, these unborn children, from being aborted, and now the church argues a wrongful death court case because fetuses aren’t people?

In malpractice case, Catholic hospital argues fetuses aren’t people

Catholic Health’s lawyers effectively turned the Church directives on their head. Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect “unborn persons,” and Catholic Health’s lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.

As Jason Langley, an attorney with Denver-based Kennedy Childs, argued in one of the briefs he filed for the defense, the court “should not overturn the long-standing rule in Colorado that the term ‘person,’ as is used in the Wrongful Death Act, encompasses only individuals born alive. Colorado state courts define ‘person’ under the Act to include only those born alive. Therefore Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses.”

And get this, the Catholic hospital won the argument.  Catholic hospital chain beats malpractice suit by saying fetuses aren’t people

Catholic Health Initiatives is a non-profit conglomerate organization that owns roughly 170 health care facilities in 17 states, with national assets totaling around $15 billion.

Catholic hospitals purportedly base their ethical practices on the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church, which were authored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. These guidelines state that, “Catholic health care ministry witnesses to the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death. The Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn.”

Catholic Health Initiatives’ promotional literature states that its mission is to “nurture the healing ministry of the Church” and be guided by “fidelity to the Gospel.” The chain’s refusal to dispense contraceptives, perform abortions or to offer end-of-life services has placed it at odds in business deals attempting to acquire secularly governed hospitals in the past.

Practicing what that “good book” tells ya to is one hell of a money maker, eh? Fucking assholes!  The hypocrisy of this story against the backdrop of the anti-abortion protesters in DC makes me want to drop kick a priest, bishop, nun or a frothy….orange politician!

Hey, but in New Mexico…fetuses aren’t people either…they are considered evidence. New Mexico Bill Would Send Rape Victims to Jail for Aborting ‘Evidence’

If you thought the so-called “rape caucus” was fading away, there’s new evidence — and we mean evidence — that some Republicans are still going to make a lot of people upset with what they see as legitimate concerns about rape. New Mexico State Rep. Cathrynn Brown has now introduced a bill that, if she has her way, ultimately could see rape victims charged with felony and three years in prison if they fail to carry their pregnancies to term.

Brown’s argument is that fetuses are evidence of sexual assault, and “tampering with evidence” is a third-degree felony. Here’s a key part of the actual bill, in case this stuff still seems unbelievable to you.

This story was updated by the way…

It appears that Brown has figured out that no one really liked her bill and that her bill, as it was stated, was rather unclear. The state representative apparently is submitting a substitute bill, the New Mexico Telegram reports. Brown said:

House Bill 206 was never intended to punish or criminalize rape victims … Its intent is solely to deter rape and cases of incest. The rapist—not the victim—would be charged with tampering of evidence. I am submitting a substitute draft to make the intent of the legislation abundantly clear.

So, what (we think) Brown, a pro-life Republican, means is that she’s trying to punish rapists who try and cover their tracks by getting their victims to have abortions. Which is a lot different than the bill she first introduced, which stated that any person “procuring” an abortion should be punished for “tampering.”

It still is a fucked up way to handle something like rape…I mean, if a woman is raped and gets an abortion…is tampering with evidence just another charge filed against the rapist? Yeah…like it is so damn easy to bring a rapist to prosecution.

Like proposed laws throughout the country, these legislators are taking things too far…remember the one in Georgia that made miscarriages a crime? Just because Obama won, and all those idiots who made ridiculous statements about rape lost their bid to go to Washington, doesn’t mean we have heard the last of the war drums from the christian right’s fight against women.

I know that you have heard me say this before, but one area where we could get some folks who will give women a fighting chance against these PLUB dumb asses, is to put more left-minded judges to work in the federal courts.  For example, take the recent decision that came down this week too, Court rules Obama recess appointments unconstitutional

A federal appeals court, dealing a defeat to President Obama, has sharply limited the chief executive’s power to bypass the Senate and to make temporary “recess” appointments to fill vacant slots in government agencies.

The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in a 3-0 ruling,  said the president can make recess appointments only when the Senate has formally adjourned between sessions of Congress, not when lawmakers leave Washington for a brief break.

The White House is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court, but look at this…from Susie Madrak: Judge Who Ruled Against Recess Appointments Is A Wingnut

Just thought I’d point out the long-time wingnuttery and judicial activism of D.C. District Judge David Sentelle, the Reagan-appointee circuit judge and Jesse Helms protegee — the man who appointed Kenneth Starr — who just invalidated Obama’s NLRB appointments, thus kicking off a whole potential mess o’legal chaos!

The D.C. district is second only to the Supreme Court in its importance, and of course it has three (soon to be four) vacancies, which Republicans refuse to allow Obama to fill.

Susie points to this post from Daily Kos back in 2010:

This Daily Kos post from 2010 sums it up pretty well:

Sentelle.jpg

Back to Sentelle, the lead judge of this circuit court, and a reminder that this is someone who, when he gets a chance, puts his right wing, authoritarian political beliefs over and above the principle of justice. Is it any wonder that the reason he became a judge is that he was appointed by Ronald Reagan, a man who also whenever he got a chance, also put his own right wing, authoritarian political beliefs over and above the principle of justice.

This is, for example, the same partisan hack who voted to overturn the convictions of Oliver North and John Poindexter, for their Iran Contra crimes.

This is, for example, the same partisan hack who appointed his fellow partisan hack Kenneth Starr for his witchhunt of the Clintons.

This is, for example, the same partisan hack who enthusiastically supported the “Military Commissions Act” and its destruction of habeas corpus for enemy combatants; if you are David Sentelle and the government accuses you of a crime, you are guilty until you can prove innocence, rather than the other way around, and the government can throw up all sorts of roadblocks to prove your innocence. Unless, of course, you are someone like Ollie North. Then, of course, your innocence is fully presumed.

The man has no business wearing a judge’s robe, and is a disgrace to our supposed rule of law.

Emphasis Susie’s…

Another opinion on this decision from the LG&M’s blog: Neoconfederate Judges Rule NLRB Recess Appointments Unconstitutional – Lawyers, Guns & Money

Oh, great. The opinion is an atrocity, classic “hack originalism for dummies,” relying heavily on the fact that recess appointments during nominal sessions of the Senate are a relatively recent phenomenon (although there’s precedent going back to 1867, and “[t]he last five Presidents have all made appointments during intrasession recesses of fourteen days or fewer”), without considering that the Senate systematically refusing to consider presidential nominees is also a contemporary phenomenon.

Read the rest of that post at the link.

Obama needs to put his “stamp” on those federal district court justices.

Here is one article that I saved away when I read it originally earlier this month, from Charlie Savage: Obama Lags on Filling Seats in the Judiciary

President Obama is set to end his term with dozens fewer lower-court appointments than both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush achieved in their first four years, and probably with less of a lasting ideological imprint on the judiciary than many liberals had hoped for and conservatives had feared.

Multimedia

Mr. Obama’s record stems in part from a decision at the start of his presidency to make judicial nominations a lower political priority, according to documents and interviews with more than a dozen current and former administration officials and with court watchers from across the political spectrum. Senate Republicans also played a role, ratcheting up partisan warfare over judges that has been escalating for the past generation by delaying even uncontroversial picks who would have been quickly approved in the past.

But a good portion of Mr. Obama’s judicial record stems from a deliberate strategy. While Mr. Bush quickly nominated a slate of appeals court judges early in his first year — including several outspoken conservatives — Mr. Obama moved more slowly and sought relatively moderate jurists who he hoped would not provoke culture wars that distracted attention from his ambitious legislative agenda.

“The White House in that first year did not want to nominate candidates who would generate rancorous disputes over social issues that would further polarize the Senate,” said Gregory B. Craig, Mr. Obama’s first White House counsel. “We were looking for mainstream, noncontroversial candidates to nominate.”

Noncontroversial? Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Like everything else we hear out of Obama’s mouth….but that is another topic for another post.

You can read another article on Obama’s weak-ass attention to the Judicial appointments from Robert Kuttner, published last year: The Courts: How Obama Dropped the Ball

In his novel King of the Jews, Leslie Epstein sets his story in the wartime ghetto of Lodz, Poland, where the Gestapo ruled through an appointed council of Jewish elders. Epstein, researching the book, tracked down the gallows humor of the time. In one such joke, told by a character in the novel, two Jews are facing a firing squad. The commandant asks if they would like blindfolds.  One of the condemned whispers to the other, “Don’t make trouble.”

“Don’t make trouble” could have been the credo of the first year of the Obama Administration. The White House calculated that if the president just extended the hand of conciliation to the Republicans, the opposition would reciprocate and together they would change the tone in Washington. This was the policy on everything from the stimulus to health reform to judicial nominations. It didn’t work out so well.

Now, spurred by the tailwind of a re-election victory and the realization that public opinion is on his side, President Obama has displayed a new toughness in his budget battle. He has declared that he won’t negotiate against himself, and the strategy is working. But the White House is still stuck in don’t-make-trouble mode on the crucial issue of judicial appointments, where the pace of nominations is only now catching up with that of Obama’s predecessors and the strategy for avoiding partisan confrontation gives Republicans something close to a veto over who is nominated.

I will leave you to read those two articles in full…and now, I give you the rest of the day’s reads in link dump fashion.

Hey Kat, Jindal is not the only one fucking things up: Sam Brownback’s Kansas is a Resort Town for “Makers”

Much like Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, Governor Sam Brownback is busy turning Kansas into a right-wing paradise, with low wages, few public services, and reactionary social policy. Since 2010, when conservative Republicans—including Brownback—took full control of the state, Kansas has passed strict new anti-abortion laws as well as large cuts to education and mental health care services. And last year, Brownback signed a bill that cuts state income taxes by roughly $3.7 billion over five years, and collapses the state’s current three-bracket tax system into two brackets: 4.9 percent and 3 percent.

That tax cut took effect this month, and as the New York Timesreports, it’s the largest reduction in Kansas history. It’s also only the beginning; this week, Kansas Republicans introduced a bill that would pare taxes further, and eventually eliminate the state’s individual income tax.

As with Jindal’s proposal in Louisiana, this would deprive the state of needed revenue; existing tax cuts are already expected cost nearly $850 million in the coming year. Additional cuts will balloon those costs, and force further reductions to state services.

Now an update from Newtown, Sandy Hook probe to extend until summer, prosecutor says … WTF? I really would love to know if I am the only one who finds it strange that we still know less about Adam Lanza then we do about all those other mass shooters since Sandy Hook.

Stephen King has an essay available on Kindle: Guns (Kindle Single): Stephen King: Amazon.com: Kindle Store

In a pulls-no-punches essay intended to provoke rational discussion, Stephen King sets down his thoughts about gun violence in America. Anger and grief in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School are palpable in this urgent piece of writing, but no less remarkable are King’s keen thoughtfulness and composure as he explores the contours of the gun-control issue and constructs his argument for what can and should be done.

King’s earnings from the sale of this essay will go the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Check it out! It is only $0.99.

Here is an article from a couple of weeks ago: LIZ JONES FASHION THERAPY: As plus-size sales soar, our columnist meets the models making a big impact on the high street.  Nice to see real sized women models getting noticed.

In Romania, Stray Dogs Are Better at Crossing the Street Than People.

Traffic police in Romania are fed up with pedestrians’ blatant disregard for designated crosswalks, opting to instead dash across busy streets at their own, oftentimes fatal, detriment. In an effort to raise awareness of this sheer idiocy, traffic police have released a series of TV ads highlighting the citizens that understand the function of those big white lines painted on the pavement are for: Stray dogs.

Semida Duriga, the director of Romania’s Next Advertising agency, created and launched the ads upon learning the unsettling statistics regarding the number of careless pedestrians killed or grievously injured when hit by oncoming motor vehicles. According to the chief of Romania’s traffic police, Lucian Dinita, roughly 360 of these collisions were fatal while another 1,200 required intense medical attention.

Unlike humans and their all-encompassing drive to reach the taco truck across the street regardless of the consequences, Romania’s stray dog population heeds the importance of traversing crosswalks and understands that the green light applies to cars and not living organisms. This uncanny level of canine adroitness is what inspired Duriga to film these dogs from various Romanian cities in action for the ads.

I am not sure if that is a compliment to the dogs or not?

Okay, here is a link to a scientific study, this one is about Socially isolated rats are more vulnerable to addiction, report researchers.

And another article on findings from a recent study, this one dealing with Household chores: Gender equality’s final frontier.

Let’s finish up with a link to an article about 3-D printers. Seriously, I thought this was a load of shit, but it isn’t…it is for real! Dutch architect to build house with 3D printer

A handout computer generated image shows a house designed by Dutch architecture practice Universe Architecture on Jan. 14, 2013. Photo via AFP.

A Dutch architect has designed a house “with no beginning or end” to be built using the world’s largest 3D printer, harnessing technology that may one day be used to print houses on the moon.

Can you believe it?

Well, this is a real long post…hope to see you all in the comments. Have a great day and share your thoughts with us!


Sunday Round-Up

coffee birdGood Morning

My daughter is still sick with the flu, but she is getting better…unfortunately I think she has passed it on to me. I am just hoping that my flu shot kicks in and the symptoms don’t get any worse.

Here’s the latest news out of Newtown. (And there is really nothing “new” in the way of information…and Philo Vance, I mean Paul Vance has been conspicuously absent, is his microphone packed away for good?)

From the Hartford Courant, we have our only bit of new information on the investigation.  Sandy Hook Shooter’s Pause May Have Aided Students’ Escape

As many as a half-dozen first graders may have survived Adam Lanza‘s deadly shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School because he stopped firing briefly, perhaps either to reload his rifle or because it jammed, according to law enforcement officials familiar with the events.

A source said that the Bushmaster rifle that Lanza used in the shootings is at the state police forensic laboratory undergoing several tests, including tests to determine whether it was jammed.

The children escaped from the first-grade classroom of teacher Victoria Soto, one of the six educators Lanza killed in Newtown after shooting his way through a glass door with the .223-caliber semiautomatic rifle on the morning of Dec. 14.

On Friday, detectives obtained and began examining records related to psychiatric care Lanza had received in an attempt to determine a motive. Several friends of his mother have said that he suffered from Asperger’s syndrome but authorities have not confirmed that or indicated it had anything to do with the shootings.

Finally, some sort of words about Lanza and medical records. Damn, it has been like Adam Lanza just dropped out of nowhere, no records or “social networking” footprints have been found. (I still think it is all too strange, the silence…and the attitude of the various “authorities.” Something still feels fishy to me!)

Anyway, you can watch the Newtown police chief interview here, it is a quick few minutes at the start of the CBS Evening News: 12/22: Newtown police chief shares his story- CBS News Video

The chief also shares his opinion on armed patrol officers guarding schools. That should be  enough of a tease for you to watch it.

Another thing to give a few minutes to is this report from All Things Considered: Near-Replica Of Sandy Hook Made Nearby For Students : NPR

I’d love to hear from Dr. Boomer about the new school being made into a “near-replica” of a place so many of these children survivors associate with unbelievable violence and horrible death.

On the subject of this carnage in the classroom, Roland Martin has this op/ed on CNN America should see the Newtown carnage

“One of these mothers from Connecticut should do an Emmett Till moment; show the picture of their child dead in the classroom.”

That’s a text I received earlier this week from my TV One show producer. When I got it, a chill immediately went through my body just thinking about the possibility of seeing the carnage in such a photo.

When taping this week’s edition of my show, “Washington Watch,” Sirius/XM Radio host Joe Madison somberly said the same thing. Joe remarked that Emmett’s mother, Mamie, insisted on an open casket for her son so the world could see what was done to him by racists in Mississippi.

Many Americans may not even remember Emmett Till, a precocious 14-year-old black teenager from Chicago who went to visit his family in Mississippi. He allegedly flirted with a white woman in a store, and the woman’s husband and his brother later went to the home where Till was staying, pulled him out of his bed, took him somewhere and beat him to a pulp, gouged out his eye, blew the back of his head away with a gun, attached a cotton gin with barbed wire around his neck and dumped his body in the Tallahatchie River.

I think Martin may have a point. Look at the images from the Civil War, and how they shaped the mindset of the population. It brought the bloody war home to the people in a way that stories in the newspapers could not.

When Jet magazine and the Chicago Defender newspaper published his battered face on their covers, it sent shock waves throughout America, and especially in the black community. The brutality of lynchings were talked about and covered, yet for the world to witness with its own eyes the end result of vicious bigotry, it forced the nation to examine its conscience.

“There was just no way I could describe what was in that box,” Mamie said. “No way. And I just wanted the world to see.”

In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut, mass shooting, we have seen numerous photos of the beautiful, smiling faces of the 20 children and six adults slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The images we have become accustomed to include them singing at a piano, sporting the gear of a favorite sports team and others. When we think of them being memorialized it’s in the context of teddy bears, candles and flowers.

Americans want to remember them as vibrant and fun-loving children, but will that actually shake the conscience of America to do something about how they were gunned down in the classroom?

Please go read the rest, and let me know what you think about viewing the crime scene photos, and if that can make the horror more real to those people who seem bent on keeping gun control/legislation as is…and actually put more guns and assault weapons in the hands of the regular public, who don’t need these kind of semi-automatic military rifles to shoot a deer.

Speaking of those pro-gun lobbyist, take a look at this: Newtown’s firearms tradition clashes with gun control push

When the wind blows a certain way across the tree-topped hills, Gary Bennett can stand in his yard and hear echoes of gunfire from his hunting club five miles away. The sound comforts him.

“It’s a huge tradition here,” said Bennett, a retired electrician and former president of the club, which helped defeat a proposal to tighten Newtown, Conn.’s gun ordinances in September. “I’d rather see more gun clubs come to town, training people with the use of firearms so that everyone’s doing it safely.”

Anguished families are still burying the 20 children and six women who were shot to death by a lone gunman Dec. 14 just after the morning Pledge of Allegiance at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But a surprising local undercurrent has emerged: Many gun owners here say the slaughter has sharpened their view that guns alone aren’t the problem.

The article interviews folks who feel that there should be armed people at these schools.  “Somebody…” to take out the shooter. But all I can say is go back and watch that interview with the Newtown Police Chief, who does not think that armed patrol is the answer.

I’ve got one story here about Walmart, funny in a way: Walmart Sells Assault Weapons But Bans Music With Swear Words

Yup, no sale of music that contains the words, “fuck you” but they will gladly sell assault weapons that are only good for “fucking someone up…” killing them and making the surviving family’s life a living hell.

The rest of the links are slightly connected…I mentioned photographs of the disfigured and bloated dead Civil War soldiers above, well this past week was the anniversary of one of the most deadliest series of battles fought. From the New York Times: ‘The Day the Stars Wept’

The majority of fighting at Fredericksburg had ground to a halt as the sun slipped below the horizon on Dec. 13, 1862. Ghastly piles of dead men and horses were scattered in the fields, and the woods were littered with abandoned equipment and debris. Sporadic gunfire continued as exhausted survivors on both sides ventured out into the war-blasted landscape to rescue wounded comrades.

In one sector of the battlefield, the men of the Fourth Vermont Infantry had endured a day of intense enemy artillery and infantry fire. The regiment suffered more than 50 casualties, including 18 killed and wounded when a spray of lead balls from single Confederate canister shot tore into one company.

Whether it is images of this American Civil War or photos of the other civil war, the war for civil rights, fought one hundred years later…or the war in Europe…being able to look at images of the dead, or smell the shoes of thousands of holocaust victims, can we learn from the violence. It is the only way to stay connected with the past, and make sure we do not forget it.

Illustrator Alfred R. Waud’s sketch of pickets near Fredericksburg, circa December 1862
Library of Congress Illustrator Alfred R. Waud’s sketch of pickets near Fredericksburg, circa December 1862

The Vermonters occupied a skirmish line in the twilight. George Washington Quimby, the 27-year-old acting major of the regiment, stood conspicuously among the men. A peacetime high school principal, he cautioned his boys to “keep low to avoid danger” while random shots whizzed through the air. They obeyed the command and sat or lay down.

On the Confederate side, a soldier leveled his musket and squeezed the trigger. Hammer struck percussion cap and caused a spark that ignited gunpowder and propelled a conical shaped Minié bullet down the muzzle.

Quimby never saw it coming.

Read the rest of that NYT story at the link up top, and you can see images of the dead and read more about the battle here:

Battle of Fredericksburg – December 1862 Civil War Battle at Fredericksburg, Virginia

http://0.tqn.com/d/history1800s/1/0/Z/-/-/-/Antietam-roadside-fence-Gardner.jpg

Photo via the Library of congress.

In other news, the White House has changed its “opinion” of those frankenfish… I mean, genetically engineered fish. White House Reverses Itself, Lifts Political Block on FDA Approval of GM Salmon

The Food and Drug Administration today released an electronic version of its Environmental Assessment for a genetically modified (GM) salmon developed by AquaBounty Technologies of Massachusetts—effectively giving its preliminary seal of approval on the first transgenic animal to be considered for federal approval.

According to sources within FDA, the EA had been approved by the all the relevant agencies on April 19, 2012, but had been blocked for release on orders from inside the executive branch—which has raised both legal and ethical issues of political interference with science and the independent work of federal agencies.

The decision by the White House to rescind its order to block the FDA from releasing the EA came Wednesday within hours after the publication of an investigative report by the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) last Wednesday documenting that the executive branch had been hold the EA for political reasons.

Well fuuuuuuuck…..that!  And of course, this change of heart comes during a media filled frenzy of Fiscal Cliffs, dead children, Santa and Gun Control. Humph!

I’ve got another fish story for you, Megapiranha put T. rex’s bite to shame, says study

You ready for this?

Tyrannosaurus rex and megalodon, a gigantic shark that preceded the great white, have nothing on the black piranha and the extinct megapiranha when it comes to chomping power. Researchers at George Washington University report that, relative to its size, the megapiranha bite was more powerful than T. Rex and history’s largest shark. According to the study published in Scientific Reports, the black piranha was determined to have a biting force behind its powerful teeth of up to 320 Newtons.

“Comparisons of body size-scaled bite forces to other apex predators reveal S. rhombeus and M. paranensis have among the most powerful bites estimated in carnivorous vertebrates. Our results functionally demonstrate the extraordinary bite of serrasalmid piranhas and provide a mechanistic rationale for their predatory dominance among past and present Amazonian ichthyofaunas,” the authors write in their study.

Holy Ceviche! That is some powerful jaws…

…the piranhas’ aggressive nature, small body size and easy-to-access populations make them a great group of predatory vertebrates in which to examine the evolution of powerful chomping capabilities. Researchers believe that piranhas will attack and rip chunks of fins and flesh from prey regardless of size. Prior to this study, however, no data on the piranhas biting powers was available for researchers to use.

Researchers gathered the first bite-force measurements from wild specimens of the black piranha. Using these measurements, they were able to better understand the fundamental functional morphology of the jaws that gives the black piranha the ability to chomp down on its prey with a force that is more than 30 times greater than its weight. Researchers contend that this powerful biting force comes from the large muscle mass of the black piranha’s jaw and the deft transmission of its big contractile force through a modified jaw-closing lever.

Researchers believe that the ancient megapiranha shared a common trait with black piranhas: An extremely powerful bite. They reconstructed the bite force of the megapiranha and found that, despite its small body size, the chomping power of this extinct piranha was more powerful than that of megalodon.

Lots more at the link.

And finally, let’s end this post with a pretty picture, cold…sharp and clean:  Frost Flowers…Suddenly There’s A Meadow In The Ocean With ‘Flowers’ Everywhere

…little protrusions of ice, delicate, like snowflakes. They began growing in the dry, cold air “like a meadow spreading off in all directions. Every available surface was covered with them.” What are they?

“Frost flowers,” he was told. “I’d never heard of them,” Jeff says, “but they were everywhere.”

Frost flowers in the central Arctic Ocean.

Stay warm and enjoy the last Sunday before Christmas…see you later in the comment section!


Wednesday Reads: Winter…Sunlight, Monsters and Tolkien

78308149-7d10-4b53-8b07-648b314a268bGood Morning!

Finally…we have a nippy morning here in Banjoland! I love the cold weather, it makes sleeping late in a nice cozy bed even more enjoyable.

There was another shooting late yesterday, this time in Portland, Oregon. Gunman Opens Fire in Oregon Shopping Mall. According to VOA, the gunman shot and killed two people before turning the gun on himself…no final number of wounded as I write this post. I will be sure to update you on this latest shooting as more information comes forward.

Okay…I’ve got plenty of politics for you this morning, if it is okay I will give them to you in link dump fashion. (Honestly, I am still a bit “gun-shy” with WordPress. It may take a few post before I feel comfortable writing a lot of words in these threads. I think it is a slight case of PSTD, from way back in college…when my final thesis went phffft, poof and gone…just as I was printing the thing out on the day it was due. Nightmare!)

Anyway, here are some of the political stories of the last 24 hours:

Soledad kicked some major ass yesterday. She is awesome at her job, which btw is being a journalist and a real savvy reporter. Soledad Grills Jeff Sessions: ‘You Hurt People Who Need Food’ with Food Stamp Cuts

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) on Tuesday faced tough questions from CNN host Soledad O’Brien for his plan to cut the food stamp program and “hurt people who need food,” including 20 percent of his own constituents in Alabama.

Speaking to Sessions in an interview on CNN’s Starting Point, O’Brien wondered if cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) should be on the table as part of the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations.

“Absolutely,” Sessions insisted. “This month was a record increase in food stamp participation at a time when unemployment is declining.”

“But there are people who say if you’re doing cuts, you invariably hurt people who need food,” O’Brien observed. “It’s 61 percent of households in your state have children who are recipients of the food program that they’re on.”

Sessions continued to spew his crap, I mean opinion:

“Soledad, this program has been growing out of control at an incredible rate and there are a lot of people receiving benefits who do not qualify and should not receive them,” Sessions remarked. “No child, no person who needs food should be denied that food. Nobody proposes that. We are talking about an amendment that I offered that would have reduced and closed a loophole of $8 billion when we would spend $800 billion was opposed by saying it would help — it would leave people hungry in America, but it would have only eliminated abuses in the program.”

The CNN host, however, pointed out that the Alabama Republican had voted twice to grow the program and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities had determined that “SNAP has one of the most rigorous quality control systems of any public benefit program.”

“People highlight the program as actually not having a lot of fraud,” O’Brien explained. “Most people who are on it are not somehow working the system. They’re just hungry people.”

Snap for SNAP…Video at the link.

From ABC News, and what looks like the back of Barbara Walter’s head: EXCLUSIVE: President Obama Predicts GOP Will Cave on Taxes

PHOTO: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participate in an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Dec. 11, 2012.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama participate in an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Dec. 11, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As the clock ticks toward a tax hike on all Americans in 20 days, President Obama predicted Republicans would join Democrats to extend current rates for 98 percent of earners before the end of the year.

“I’m pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals,” Obama said today in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Barbara Walters.

You wanna bet?

These right-wing Republicans are like bulldogs locked down on a hunk of red meat…they do not give up. Just take a look at these headlines:

Angry with Obama, GOP threatens political war next year – CNN.com

Rick Perry: Outlawing All Access To Abortion Is ‘My Goal’ | ThinkProgress

Yes, threats and promises of all out war to get what they want. Basturds!

In other GOP political news:

H/T to Tennessee Guerilla Women: Michigan ‘Right-to-Work-for-Less’ Bill Copied from Koch-Funded ALEC Playbook

You didn’t think Michigan Republicans had an original idea:

Michigan Passes “Right to Work” Containing Verbatim Language from ALEC Model Bill 

I’ve got to share this political cartoon with you, it can’t wait until our Friday Nite Lite:

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Right to Work Pee

Right to Work Pee © Daryl Cagle,CagleCartoons.com,ssGOP,Republican,elephant,urine,union,United Auto Workers,UAW,AFL-CIO,Teamsters,pee

Yup, piss on…piss on!

This latest PPP poll shows that people are sick of the mutant asshole turtle, I mean…Mitch McConnell…he is highly unpopular according to Public Policy Polling

Mitch McConnell is the most unpopular Senator in the country. Only 37% of Kentucky voters approve of him to 55% disapprove. Both in terms of raw disapproval (55%) and net approval (-18) McConnell has the worst numbers of any of his peers, taking that mantle from Nebraska’s Ben Nelson.

McConnell is predictably very unpopular with Democrats (23/73). But his numbers are almost as bad with independents (33/58) and even with Republicans he’s well below the 70-80% approval range you would usually expect for a Senator within their own party (59/28).

If only this disgust toward McConnell would relate in votes against the man.

The reason McConnell does decently well in the head to head match ups despite his poor approval numbers is that even though a lot of Republicans dislike him, most of them would still vote for him in a general election before they would support a Democrat. This is the same phenomenon we saw in Florida and Pennsylvania this year where Bill Nelson and Bob Casey won by solid margins despite middling approval numbers because Democrats that weren’t thrilled with them still voted for them. And although independents don’t like McConnell they don’t like most of the Democrats either, and they support McConnell in every match up we tested.

The PPP article mentions Ashley Judd, go read the rest at the link. (I sure hope Judd does run for McConnell seat in 2014. But my hope is up there with a Hillary run in 2016….I think it is kind of a long shot they will run period.)

Speaking of Hillary, Nate Silver has this to say about Hillary 2016: Why Hillary Clinton Would Be Strong in 2016 (It’s Not Her Favorability Ratings)

Let’s start by stating the obvious: Hillary Rodham Clinton would be a formidable presidential candidate in 2016.

Mrs. Clinton’s credentials as secretary of state, as a United States senator and as a politically engaged first lady would be hard for any of her Democratic or Republican rivals to match. She would have little trouble raising funds or garnering support from the Democratic officials, and she might even come close to clearing the Democratic field of serious opposition.

Be sure to read the rest of Silver’s post.

With the release of The Hobbit later this week, J.R.R. Tolkien is figuring in lots of blog post, like this one from Medieval.net: Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics

Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics

By J. R. R. Tolkien

Introduction: In 1864 the Reverend Oswald Cockayne wrote of the Reverend Doctor Joseph Bosworth, Rawlinsonian Professor of Anglo-Saxon: ‘I have tried to lend to others the con-viction I have long entertained that Dr. Bosworth is not a man so diligent in his special walk as duly to read the books… which have been printed in our old English, or so-called Anglosaxon tongue. He may do very well for a professor.’ These words were inspired by dissatisfaction with Bosworth’s dictionary, and were doubtless unfair. If Bosworth were still alive, a modern Cockayne would probably accuse him of not reading the ‘literature’ of his subject, the books written about the books in the so-called Anglo-Saxon tongue. The original books are nearly buried.

Of none is this so true as of The Beowulf, as it used to be called. I have, of course, read The Beowulf, as have most (but not all) of those who have criticized it. But I fear that, unworthy successor and beneficiary of Joseph Bosworth, I have not been a man so diligent in my special walk as duly to read all that has been printed on, or touching on, this poem. But I have read enough, I think, to venture the opinion that Beowulfiana is, while rich in many departments, specially poor in one. It is poor in criticism, criticism that is directed to the understanding of a poem as a poem. It has been said of Beowulf itself that its weakness lies in placing the unimportant things at the centre and the important on the outer edges. This is one of the opinions that I wish specially to consider. I think it profoundly untrue of the poem, but strikingly true of the literature about it. Beowulf has been used as a quarry of fact and fancy far more assiduously than it has been studied as a work of art.

It is of Beowulf, then, as a poem that I wish to speak; and though it may seem presumption that I should try with swich a lewed mannes wit to pace the wisdom of an heep of lerned men, in this department there is at least more chance for the lewed man. But there is so much that might still be said even under these limitations that I shall confine myself mainly to the monsters—Grendel and the Dragon, as they appear in what seems to me the best and most authoritative general criticism in English—and to certain considerations of the structure and conduct of the poem that arise from this theme.

Click here to read this article from the College of Southern Idaho

Click here to read this article from TeacherWeb

Click here to read this article from the University of Georgia

Hopefully one of those three links will work for you. Enjoy it!

And finally, a big hat-tip to Fiscal Liberal, who emailed me these links below…kewl as hell!

First link is to a blog that details the movement of sunlight and weather during the day, via Opentopia – World Sunlight Map

FireShot Screen Capture #358 - 'Opentopia - World Sunlight Map' - www_opentopia_com_sunlightmaprect_html

A world map showing current sunlight and cloud cover, as of Dec 12 2012 02:00 UTC.
This is the rectangular projection. You can also see a more realistic hemispherical projection.
Image provided by die.net.

Click the link to see the updated real/time image.

This next link is to a 19 minute video, OVERVIEW on Vimeo

On the 40th anniversary of the famous ‘Blue Marble’ photograph taken of Earth from space, Planetary Collective presents a short film documenting astronauts’ life-changing stories of seeing the Earth from the outside – a perspective-altering experience often described as the Overview Effect.

The Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, is an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.

‘Overview’ is a short film that explores this phenomenon through interviews with five astronauts who have experienced the Overview Effect. The film also features insights from commentators and thinkers on the wider implications and importance of this understanding for society, and our relationship to the environment.

I’ve embedded the video below…however if you want to see a larger screen image, click on that Vimeo link up top. Hope you enjoy this one too.

That is all I got for you this morning, should be a good start, right? What are you all reading and thinking about today?


Wednesday Reads: Horrors of being a woman in a Pro-Life Hell

Good Morning!

**Updates on Savita Halappanavar story below**

While looking for links for you this morning, I was appalled to read about this woman, Savita Halappanavar, in Ireland.

Scandal in Ireland as woman dies in Galway ‘after being denied abortion’

Health authorities in Ireland are investigating the death of a pregnant woman whose husband says she was denied an abortion following severe complications.

Savita Halappanavar, who was 17 weeks pregnant, died of septicaemia a week after presenting with back pain on 21 October at University hospital in Galway, where she was found to be miscarrying.

After the 31-year-old dentist was told that she was miscarrying, her husband reportedly said that she had asked for a medical termination a number of times over a three day period, during which she was in severe pain.

But he said these requests were denied because a foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told at one point: “This is a Catholic country.”

Medical staff removed the dead foetus days later after the heartbeat stopped but Halappanavar died of septicaemia on 28 October.

Ireland’s health service executive, which runs the country’s public health care system, has initiated an investigation into the incident, which is also being investigated by the hospital itself.

Reports of the death sparked an outcry on Wednesday night in Ireland, where abortion is illegal unless the life of the woman is in danger.

It is disgusting that something like this has happened…and what bothers me the most is that it isn’t the first time a woman has lost her life because of an archaic religious belief…and it won’t be the last…look at these righteous faces:

Anti-abortion protest

Members of pro-life groups demonstrating in Dublin last year as a private member’s bill proposing legalising abortion in Ireland
was debated. The bill did not succeed. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA
What the fuck is wrong with these people! Yes, these people!
This is the kind of anti-women legislation that shitbags within the GOP want to pass and are working very diligently at it. Just because Obama won, does not mean that we can stop the outcry against the War on Women. Only this week in Ohio, women’s rights are again being attacked. That Was Quick. Ohio GOP Restart Abortion Wars

Apparently Republicans in the state of Ohio didn’t quite get the message from the election. Rather than back off unpopular efforts to restrict access to reproductive health care, they’ve gone all in, renewing efforts to strip family-planning dollars from Planned Parenthood and reviving the once-dead “heartbeat bill” which purports to ban abortions as soon as a heartbeat is detected.

Stephanie Kight, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, reacted to news of the renewed attacks on women’s reproductive health care in a statement. “Just days ago, in an election where the stakes for women’s health were higher and clearer than they have ever been, Ohio voted to protect a woman’s ability to make her own personal medical decisions without interference from politicians,” Kight said. “The announcement to focus on these dangerous bills now makes Ohio a ‘battleground state’ once again.”

Exit polling from the national election showed that, of those voters who thought health care was most important, the vast majority are not with politicians who want to interfere with women’s private medical decision-making. To reinforce that fact, President Obama won Ohio women by 11 percent.

It doesn’t matter that women are the reason Obama won…even in states that were seen as red conservative by the media. To these religious nuts, they couldn’t give a damn about those of us with vaginas. Because we all know that if men were the ones who get pregnant, abortion would be available at locations nationwide. There would be abortion for men sponsors fielding cars in NASCAR, and they would get folks like Jimmie Johnson to hack their product during Monday Night Football. I mean…after all…they are only acting like men!
Pat Robertson Excuses Petraeus Affair Because ‘He’s a Man’ -I won’t quote from the article, you all know very well the kind of hypocritical shit comes out of this man’s mouth.
Of course, if a woman has something as slutty as a yeast infection, she has to brave the PLUBs who intimidate her as she tries to get medical care. Do Forced Birthers Think Having a Yeast Infection Is a Sin? | Angry Black Lady Chronicles
Just in case you weren’t positive that the Bishops-fueled right-wing freakout about birth control has fuck-all to do with “pro-life,” Forced Birth protestors in Wisconsin are protesting in front of a Family Planning Clinic that does not provide abortion services. Via Robin Marty at RH Reality Check:

Wausau, Wisconsin, doesn’t have a clinic that provides abortion services. But that doesn’t mean anti-choice protesters in the community are willing to bypass the tradition that is the “40 Days for Life” vigil, a twice-yearly event where religious advocates try to pray to “end abortion.”

No, in Wausau, they simply took their protest to the sidewalk in front of Family Planning Services. Those services? Birth control, WIC distribution, STI screenings.

Oh, and basic health care, too.

Via The New Civil Rights Movement:

It’s 4:00 in the afternoon, and rush hour traffic has slowed so the looky loos can snap a picture of the disturbance with their cell phone cameras. The anxious girl hides her face, painfully aware someone passing by may recognize her, but she bravely trudges past the protesters. Some merely stare at her accusingly. Others hiss words meant to shame her. She wants to run away, but she has no money, and there is nowhere else she can go for help. Hers is a torment that cannot be prayed away. Her eyes fill with tears, but she refuses to let them fall. She keeps her gaze on the entrance; five more steps, three, two. One more step and a push of the door and this nightmare will be over. Inside she will find medical help. She will find compassion without judgment. After weeks of suffering, of tossing and turning and worrying about what she was going to do, the teen is about to find someone who will help her end her unwanted……… yeast infection.

No, I did not get that diagnosis wrong. Family Planning Services in Wausau does not offer abortion services. In fact, they are forbidden by the terms of their state grants from even referring a woman to an abortion provider. (Remind me to do a column about that little piece of injustice sometime.) What FPHS does, is help pregnant women of low to moderate means to have healthy babies. They educate young people about contraception and STDs. They help women (and men) avoid pregnancies that would end in abortions. Their WIC program gets fresh vegetables and fruits from local farmers into the diets of mothers and their young children. You would think the Catholics, with their history of community charity, would be holding fundraising Bingo nights and bake sales to help them. But nope, they have opted to go the pageant route instead.

As Cienna Madrid at The Stranger aptly put it:

Their overarching goal isn’t just to make abortion illegal, it’s to shame and punish modern women for having sex lives, for caring about their health, for being anything other than subservient, walking chattels whose uteri are wallpapered with Bible passages.

Indeed.

I’ve quoted that post because to me it parallels the first article about the dead woman in Ireland.  A basic need, medical care is a human right. Assholes like these pro-life extremist don’t care about the woman who is in pain or dying because they are pushing their religious agenda on them. It is all just “God’s Will” and no one can reason with them. This is the fundamental problem with PLUBs that get elected to write laws or sit in judgement over science, forgoing any semblance of humanity and sensibility.
Sigh…
Since I am on a anti-religion roll here, check this crap out. Teacher Burns Crucifix Onto Student’s Arms, Sues When Fired

The teacher and his defender have the gall to call this an “X” because they think everyone is just as ignorant as they are.

In a case that has been litigated since 2008 (and is still ongoing), John Freshwater, a teacher who previously lived and worked in Mount Vernon, Ohio, insists that his First Amendment rights and “academic freedom” were violated when he was fired by the school district for teaching Creationism in class and burning a cross into the arms of students using a Tesla coil.

From the report that lead to his firing:

Mr. Freshwater was insubordinate in failing to remove all of the religious materials from his classroom as ordered by his superior, Principal White.

  • Mr. Freshwater did burn a cross onto the complaining family’s child’s arm using an electrostatic device not designed for that purpose
  • The Ten Commandments together with other posters of a religious nature were posted in Mr. Freshwater’s classroom. Most were removed after Mr. White’s letter of April 14, 2008, but at least one poster remained which Mr. Freshwater was again instructed to remove on April 16, 2008, but did not do so.
  • Several Bibles were kept in Mr. Freshwater’s classroom including his personal Bible on his desk and one he checked out of the library placed on the lab table near the desk. Other Bibles that had been maintained in the room were removed by the time the investigators viewed Mr. Freshwater’s room.
  • Mr. Freshwater engaged in teaching of a religious nature, teaching creationism and related theories and calling evolution into question. He had other materials in his classroom that could be used for that purpose.
  • Mr. Freshwater engaged in prayer during FCA meetings in violation of the District’s legal obligations for monitoring such organizations.
  • Mr. Freshwater participated and possibly lead a prayer during an FCA meeting that concerned a guest speaker’s health. There is no conclusion as to whether such prayer was a “healing” prayer.
  • Mr. Freshwater gave an extra credit assignment for students to view the movie “Expelled” which does involve intelligent design.

It’s important to note that Freshwater did not work at a religious institute but a regular public school (not that branding would be acceptable at ANY kind of school). Freshwater knows, as does every Creationist teacher, that the courts have struck down (over and over again), in the harshest possible terms, any attempt to legally teach Creationism, Intelligent Design or any other phony variation of anti-evolution claptrap in public schools. It’s a direct violation of the Separation Clause in the First Amendment. Freshwater did not care. How do we know Freshwater knew he was breaking the law? Like any common criminal, he tried to hide the evidence:

There is a significant amount of evidence that Mr. Freshwater’s teachings regarding subjects related to evolution were not consistent with the curriculum of the Mount Vernon City Schools and State standards. Contrary to Mr. Freshwater’s statement, the evidence indicates he has been teaching creationism and intelligent design and has been teaching the unreliability of carbon dating in support of opposition to evolution. He has passed out materials to students for the past several years challenging evolution and then collecting the materials back from the students. He has done so in spite of specific directives not to teach creationism or intelligent design. He has taught students to use the code word “Here” to challenge scientific process that is considered settled by the high school science teachers.

However, it is equally clear that Freshwater is hoping to be a new test case. His claim of “academic freedom” is simply a new tactic to force religion into the classroom.

Read more at the link. I know these kind of people, we had a science teacher in Banjoville that was telling the kids the world was 6,000 years old, and that Dinosaurs didn’t exist. They are like psychopaths when it comes to what they believe is Gawd’s word.
I’ve got one more link for you on a recent study released yesterday. Denying Women Abortion Access Increases Their Risk Of Falling Into Poverty
Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco launched a Global Turnaway Study this year to explore the potential social and economic implications of denying women access to legal abortion. And after documenting the experiences of the women who seek to terminate a pregnancy but are turned away from abortion services, the UCSF researchers found that those women were three times more likelythan the women who successfully obtained abortions to fall below the poverty line within the subsequent two years.
As you might expect, the situation does not get any better for those women who were forced into giving birth.

The Gawker affiliate i09 summarizes some of the researchers’ preliminary findings, and notes that denying women access to abortion puts a strain on struggling women as well as federal assistance programs. Although the women who participated in the Turnaway Study were in comparable economic positions when they sought abortions, the woman who were unable to terminate their unwanted pregnancies were more likely to have slipped into poverty just a year later:

A year later, [the women who were denied an abortion] were far more likely to be on public assistance — 76 percent of the turnaways were on the dole, as opposed to 44 percent of those who got abortions. 67 percent of the turnaways were below the poverty line (vs. 56 percent of the women who got abortions), and only 48 percent had a full time job (vs. 58 percent of the women who got abortions).

When a woman is denied the abortion she wants, she is statistically more likely to wind up unemployed, on public assistance, and below the poverty line. Another conclusion we could draw is that denying women abortions places more burden on the state because of these new mothers’ increased reliance on public assistance programs.

The UCSF researchers also told i09 that their study did not find any statistical correlation between abortion and drug use, or abortion and clinical depression — in other words, women who successfully obtained abortions did not experience any negative emotional consequences stemming from their decision to end a pregnancy, including an uptick in drug abuse. In fact, the researchers explained, “One week after seeking abortion, 97 percent of women who obtained an abortion felt that abortion was the right decision; 65 percent of turnaways still wished they had been able to obtain an abortion.”

In fact, women often seek abortions for the very same reasons they seek access to affordable contraception: because they cannot currently afford to have another child. Women typically want to avoid unintended pregnancies in cases when having a baby would compromise their economic autonomy and prevent them from finishing school, keeping a job, or supporting their current families.

Nonetheless, conservative anti-choice advocates are currently pushing to limit access to both abortion and contraception — while simultaneously slashing funding for the social safety net programs that poor women rely on.

Madness, that is all I can say about all this!
I still am suffering from a migraine, so the rest of the links are in link dump fashion.
This first one is interesting because I have many of these brain lesions the article is talking about.  Migraines associated with higher incidence of brain lesions among women; effect on health uncertain
After nearly 10 years of follow-up of study participants who experienced migraines and who had brain lesions identified via magnetic resonance imaging, women with migraines had a higher prevalence and greater increase of deep white matter hyperintensities (brain lesions) than women without migraines, although the number, frequency, and severity of migraines were not associated with lesion progression, according to a study appearing in the November 14 issue of JAMA.
Massive diamond fetches record £13m at Christie’s auction in Geneva
Archduke Joseph Diamond

The Archduke Joseph diamond, sold at Christie’s in Geneva. Photograph: Laurent Gillieron/AP

A huge, internally flawless diamond from India’s fabled Golconda mines was sold at auction in Geneva on Tuesday night for a record 20.35m Swiss francs (£13.5m), Christie’s said.

The rare, colourless stone – weighing 76 carats and roughly the size of a large strawberry – once belonged to Archduke Joseph August of Austria (1872-1962), a prince of the Hungarian line of the Habsburgs.

It fetched more than double the price paid for it at auction almost two decades ago.

“It is a world record price per carat for a colourless diamond,” François Curiel, director of the international jewellery department at Christie’s, said.

You Want to Raise the Retirement Age? Walk a Mile In Our Shoes First | Video Cafe 

(Chuck Todd: Republicans will give Democrats all the revenue they want, if they just agree to raise the retirement age. Trust them.)

I don’t know about anyone else, but as someone who has actually worked at one of those jobs where you take a shower at the end of the work day and not before you go in, I’m sick to death of watching these overpaid television pundits and their counterparts in the Congress, nonchalantly discussing raising the retirement age. It may not matter much to them, but there are real economic hardships involved when you force the average wage earner out there to continue to work until they drop dead if the retirement age is raised any higher than it already is now.

If our beltway Villagers and politicians really believe that it’s no big deal to raise the retirement age for the rest of America, how about we ask them to walk a mile in our shoes? I wonder if any of them would decide that maybe it’s not such a great idea to be doing physical labor well into your late sixties if they were the ones actually having to do those jobs?

I wonder if Chuck Todd would be a little more worried about when he might be able to retire if he were say, some migrant worker picking berries and in need of daily visits to the chiropractor he can’t afford because his back is screaming all day from being bent over?

Fuck Chuck Todd! (Funny pictures at the link btw, check them out. )
And finally, something close to my heart, and close to my hometown of Banjoville: Judge nixes ‘possum drop’ New Year’s party in North Carolina
Possum via AFP
A popular New Year’s celebration that draws thousands of tourists to the tiny North Carolina town of Brasstown for a party that ends in a “possum drop” may no longer be held there, a judge ruled.The 18-year tradition in the town of 240 consisted of lowering the animal to the ground at midnight in a see-through cage decked out in Christmas garlands, like the ball that is dropped in New York’s Times Square — except the possum is alive.

Believe me, these critters are not in danger, this is a big artist community…there is no way these pacifist, Birkenstock wearing, liberal artist will hurt the possums. Let them have their fun!

So, that is all…have a wonderful day!

**Updates to the #Savita story:

Telegraph.co.uk – ‎6 minutes ago‎
Ireland must make hospitals safe for women by following abortion laws. When a woman’s life is in danger, a hospital should be the safest place for her to go. But today it has emerged that a pregnant woman was allegedly denied a life-saving abortion on the
The Guardian – ‎2 hours ago‎
The case of a woman denied an abortion at an Irish hospital who later died of blood poisoning must prompt the state to loosen its almost total ban on terminations, a member of one of the coalition parties in Dublin has said. Two investigations – one by
Huffington Post UK (blog) – ‎35 minutes ago‎
This morning the news broke that Savita Halappanavar had died at Galway University Hospital, after being denied a necessary termination. She was 17 weeks pregnant when she presented to the hospital on 21 October, complaining of severe back pain.
Irish Independent – ‎1 hour ago‎
Savita Halappanavar performs at the Diwali 2010 festival. As a classical Indian dancer Savita Halappanavar played a key role in organising the annual Diwali festival in Galway where she taught Indian dances to both Irish and Indian children. In this video
The Guardian – ‎4 hours ago‎
An amendment to Ireland’s constitution in 1983 states that the embryo, even at the point of conception, is an Irish citizen enjoying the full rights of every man, woman and child living in the republic. The constitutional change, brought in after pressure from
Irish Times – ‎2 hours ago‎
IRISH TIMES REPORTERS. Taoiseach Enda Kenny has not ruled out an independent inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died from septicaemia following a miscarriage in University College Galway. Speaking in the Dáil this morning,
Irish Times (blog) – ‎3 hours ago‎
Kitty Holland and Paul Cullen write in today’s newspaper, “Two investigations are under way into the death of a woman who was 17 weeks pregnant, at University Hospital Galway last month. Savita Halappanavar (31), a dentist, presented with back pain at
Newstalk 106-108 fm – ‎51 minutes ago‎
The husband of Savita Halappanavar who died at Galway University Hospital after a miscarriage has been talking about the circumstances which led to the death of his wife. 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar died of septicaemia at University Hospital Galway
Irish Times – ‎3 hours ago‎
IRISH TIMES REPORTERS. Taoiseach Enda Kenny said an independent inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died from septicaemia following a miscarriage in University College Galway, has not been ruled out. Speaking in the Dáil this
The Nationalist – ‎2 hours ago‎
There have been a number of protests organised after the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died at University Hospital Galway a week after she was told she was having a miscarriage. Two investigations are already underway after the death of 31-year-old