Tuesday Reads: No Justice, No Surprise

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Season’s Greetings?

Well, I usually start these things with a “Good Morning” but with the disappointing news from last’s nights ridiculous display by Prosecutor Bob McCulloch.

Ferguson Prosecutor Robert McCulloch Gives Bizarre Press Conference

B3Qfhn0IYAA3VfkSt. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announced on Monday night that Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in a press conference that many found baffling, unwieldy and inflammatory.

McCulloch said the grand jury “gave up their lives” while deliberating.

The prosecutor also repeatedly lashed out at the media, blaming the internet and “the 24-hour news cycle” for the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, where Brown was shot and killed in August. He continued talking for several minutes before revealing the much-anticipated grand jury decision.

B3QpGz1IEAAu2jv“The most significant challenge encountered in this investigation has been the 24-hour news cycle and its insatiable appetite for something, for anything to talk about, following closely behind with the non-stop rumors on social media,” he said.

Media figures and social media users lashed out at the notion that cable news and Twitter were to blame for the tension in the months following Brown’s death, rather than the death itself.

“Social media isn’t the problem,” author Maureen Johnson said. “Shooting children is the problem.”

 

Go to the link to see the full statement via video. You can also see how some folks reacted to it from last night’s live blog.

Another look at the funky ass statement here: Bombshell evidence laid out in death of Michael Brown – NY Daily News

I don’t know about “bombshell” there was nothing new in the information…just confirmation of what was “leaked” earlier to the press.

Next up, I will first give you two links…they are both to the same thing, the huge document dump as promised by McCulloch at his press conference.

The testimony the grand jury heard in the Michael Brown case : stltoday.com

That link has the items in large files, you will need to download them and then extract the documents.

The Guardian has the documents individually:

Darren Wilson not indicted: read the full grand jury report | US news | The Guardian

Both have search features.

Photo below of Michael Brown’s mother when she heard the decision:

Reuters photo that was all over Twitter last night.

Reuters photo that was all over Twitter last night.

When you get a chance, take a look at these links:

 

Ferguson, goddamn: No indictment for Darren Wilson is no surprise. This is why we protest | Syreeta McFadden | Comment is free | The Guardian

I’ve been dreaming of death. Seeing pictures of death. Seeing pictures of bloody sheets hanging on clotheslines.

Just days before Michael Brown and his brown body encountered a white police officer and a gun in Ferguson, Missouri, the 18-year-old child said that to his stepmother. She told the world of this foreshadowing during Brown’s funeral two months ago, as anger turned to tears, and this small community ignited a wave of protests and activism that would continue for more than 100 days – and will begin anew, starting right now.

In the months since, all of the leaks and all of the tweets warning that there would be no indictment for Darren Wilson – that instead there would be black“violence” and a perpetual “state of emergency” – have served as constructed preparations to manage our disappointment, for the big reveal that our criminal justice system was still as broken as it ever was. And now that the grand jury’s decision has arrived in the form of a smirking white prosecutor, all of the agony of that wait has culminated in nothing more than the sum of our grim expectations, to ignite cynicism and an old rage.

Today, Mike Brown is still dead, and Darren Wilson has not been indicted for his murder. And who among us can say anything but: “I am not surprised”?

As BB pointed out yesterday: It’s Incredibly Rare For A Grand Jury To Do What Ferguson’s Just Did | FiveThirtyEight

A St. Louis County grand jury on Monday decided not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police Officer Darren Wilson in the August killing of teenager Michael Brown. The decision wasn’t a surprise — leaks from the grand jury had led most observers to conclude an indictment was unlikely — but it was unusual. Grand juries nearly always decide to indict.

Or at least, they nearly always do so in cases that don’t involve police officers.

Former New York state Chief Judge Sol Wachtler famously remarked that a prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.” The data suggests he was barely exaggerating: According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them.

Brown Family Attorney: Prosecutor ‘Changed the Rules’ | Mediaite

Brown family attorney Benjamin Crump has been critical of the Grand Jury process in Fergusonsince before the decision was announced Monday evening, and he remained so Tuesday morning in an interview with Savannah Guthrie on Today.

“[Bob McColluch] didn’t recommend any charges or anything,” Crump said. “He put all the evidence out there and said let’s just be fair to everybody. And this is different than what I’ve ever seen in my twenty years of practicing law.”

RELATED: Brown Family Attorney: We’ll ‘Explore Every Legal Avenue’ if No Indictment

“So the question becomes, if for 28 years he has been prosecutor before the grand juries and he didn’t do it this way, was he being unfair to them? Why change the rules now when it’s our children lying on the ground? We want the same justice, we want equal justice, that you do for everybody else. Don’t change the rules on our children.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an open thread….feel free to post links to anything you like.


Monday Reads: Counter the Culture

Joni MitchellGood Morning!

I’m going to try to go light and easy this morning since we’ve had enough trauma recently.  Here are some interesting reads! For those of you who are fans of Joanie Mitchell, there’s a great set of interviews with her on the occasion of her 71st birthday and her release of new and old music.  Mitchell has been a nearly life long muse for me.

Q: You’ve voiced concern over what you call the “push-button generation of today.” What is impairing us the most?

A: Everything is about channel changing. It has ruined attention spans. I spaced out in school but I didn’t develop attention-deficit issues because I placed attention on my imagination and ignored the curriculum. I didn’t have a million newsfeeds to contend with. It is just like when I have people over to my house to watch a film—it’s like living in a Robert Altman movie! They are always talking over each other. We are all losing the plot. It’s an addiction to phones and too much information.

Q: What repercussions do you think future generations will feel now that everyone is on their phone during concerts, etc.?

A: Here’s an example. My grandson and I were sailing on a boat and he said, “It’s boring.” I asked, “How can you say it’s boring? The sun is shining, we’re going across the water so fast . . . ” And he said, “Not fast enough.” Technology has given him this appetite.

Another inspiration from my high school and university days was Jack Kerouac.  I live less than a block where he used to jump off the train–you’ll Jack Kerouachear it frequently if you’re on the phone with me–and hang out at one of my neighborhood bars.  It seems the Neal Cassady letter that described Joan Anderson and inspired “On the Road” has been found and will be sold at auction.  It’s been lost for 60 years.

It’s been called the letter that launched a literary genre — 16,000 amphetamine-fueled, stream-of-consciousness words written by Neal Cassady to his friend Jack Kerouac in 1950.

Upon reading them, Kerouac scrapped an early draft of “On The Road” and, during a three-week writing binge, revised his novel into a style similar to Cassady’s, one that would become known as Beat literature.

The letter, Kerouac said shortly before his death, would have transformed his counterculture muse Cassady into a towering literary figure, if only it hadn’t been lost.

Turns out it wasn’t, says Joe Maddalena, whose Southern California auction house Profiles in History is putting the letter up for sale Dec. 17. It was just misplaced, for 60-some years.

It’s being offered as part of a collection that includes papers by E.E. Cummings, Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Penn Warren and other prominent literary figures. But Maddalena believes the item bidders will want most is Cassady’s 18-page, single-spaced screed describing a drunken, sexually charged, sometimes comical visit to his hometown of Denver.

“It’s the seminal piece of literature of the Beat Generation, and there are so many rumors and speculation of what happened to it,” Maddalena said.

Kerouac told The Paris Review in 1968 that poet Allen Ginsberg loaned the letter to a friend who lived on a houseboat in Northern California. Kerouac believed the friend then dropped it overboard.

“It was my property, a letter to me, so Allen shouldn’t have been so careless with it, nor the guy on the houseboat,” he said.

As for the quality of the letter, Kerouac described it this way: “It was the greatest piece of writing I ever saw, better’n anybody in America, or at least enough to make Melville, Twain, Dreiser, Wolfe, I dunno who, spin in their graves.”

00d866b924c60902c085c1c947c755b9Well, I’ve always known my life in the Dismal Science as a woman wasn’t easy.  Here’s more on that.

British physicist Matt Taylor, who was involved with the Rosetta comet landing, recently found himself in the middle of a controversy about sexism and bad taste, after he was interviewed wearing a tacky shirt featuring pin-up girls toting guns. In true Internet fashion, the incident was labeled ShirtStorm, and it sparked a debate about sexism in the sciences. Taylor has since apologized, issued a series of mea culpas, and showed as much contrition as one person could for a sartorial offense. Some of his female colleagues even came to his defense.

But all of this raises a question: Why is it that the sciences look like a feminist nirvana compared with the economics profession, which seems to have a built-in bias that prevents women from advancing?

Consider this 2011 blog post by George Mason University economist Robin Hanson. Hanson writes that “gentle, silent rape” of a woman by a man causes less harm than a wife cuckolding her husband:

I [am puzzled] over why our law punishes rape far more than cuckoldry…[M]ost men would rather be raped than cuckolded…Imagine a woman was drugged into unconsciousness and then gently raped, so that she suffered no noticeable physical harm nor any memory of the event, and the rapist tried to keep the event secret…Now compare the two cases, cuckoldry and gentle silent rape.

There was no outcry whatsoever over these remarks, nor any retraction that I could find.

Or consider this similar post from 2013 by University of Rochester economist Steve Landsburg:

Let’s suppose that you, or I, or someone we love, or someone we care about from afar, is raped while unconscious in a way that causes no direct physical harm — no injury, no pregnancy, no disease transmission…Ought the law discourage such acts of rape? Should they be illegal?    

The  blog post sparked protests at Landsburg’s university, but silence from the economics profession itself. Landsburg later apologized, stating that some readers “got the impression that I was endorsing rape, while my intent was to say exactly the opposite.” Although it’s good that he apologized, Landsburg has made other sexist remarks on his blog. In 2012, he seemed to call pro-contraception activist Sandra Fluke a “prostitute,” and defended Rush Limbaugh’s demand that Fluke post a sex tape for the world to view.

In physics, a shirt depicting scantily clad women is a big deal, but in economics, everyone just sort of expects these things.

These aren’t just anecdotes. There is quantitative evidence showing that economics is uniquely biased against women. According to a new paper by economists Donna Ginther and Shulamit Kahn and psychologists Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams, sexism in econ is much more severe than in the sciences.

Oh, and that’s economist Joan Robinson up there if you don’t recognize her.   She was an major influence on J.M. Keynes.  She extended Keynes’ analysis in to the long run in the 1950s and also took Keynesian analysis to Marx’s works.  She’s also a mentor to Joseph Stiglitz and one other Nobel Laureate. 

It has been claimed that Joan Robinson did not mind upsetting people with her work: “Never one to mince words, possessor of a civilized wit, sometimes bleakly rude, not always fair but always honest, as hard on herself as on those she criticized, Joan Robinson more than any other economist of the twentieth century became a model for progressive radicals, fearlessly following arguments to conclusions no matter how incompatible they proved to be.”

 Journalists are being arrested in Ferguson, MO again despite court orders and instructions. 

A Journalist’s arrest during a protest near the Ferguson, Mo., police headquarters early Sunday drew renewed attention to disputes over 1st Amendment rights in the wake of a white police officer’s killing of an unarmed black man.

Trey Yingst, a reporter with News2Share, was accused of unlawful assembly and taken into custody, according to St. Louis County police. News2Share publishes stories by freelance reporters online.
A police summary notes that Yingst was among a group that was obstructing traffic at South Florissant Road and Compton Avenue.

“The group of subjects were gathered on the street and sidewalks at that intersection. The on-scene commander engaged the crowd and instructed them that they were impeding the flow of traffic and would be subject to arrest if they did not exit the roadway,” the police summary says. “The crowd ignored the commander’s verbal commands to exit the roadway and continued to impede the flow of traffic.”

Police say most of the crowd dispersed, but Yingst and another person, David Rodriguez, 26, did not, so they were taken into custody. Several witnesses said Yingst was on the sidewalk when he was arrested.

Shortly after his release from jail, Yinsgt said on Twitter that he had been “arrested for exercising my 1st amendment rights on a public sidewalk.”

The protests in Ferguson began Aug. 9, when police Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot an 18-year-old unarmed black man, Michael Brown. In August, some journalists were arrested while covering the demonstrations.

On Sunday, the American Civil Liberties Union said it was “unclear what legal authority police officers would have had to order him to disperse.”

“We are deeply troubled that the 1st Amendment rights of the media are still being violated in spite of the recent court order we secured against such action by the County of St. Louis,” said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri, in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary swiftly pursue aggressive action to ensure that unlawful interference with the press comes to an end.”

 A 12 year old boy that was playing in a play ground with a toy gun was shot and killed by the Cleveland Police.  I’m sure you don’t have to guess the fergusonrace of the child that law enforcement is now characterizing as a “young man”.

The 12-year-old boy wielding what turned out to be a BB gun when he was shot by police outside a Cleveland recreation center died early Sunday morning, a police union official confirmed.

The boy, whose name has not been officially released, was shot in the stomach at Cudell Recreation Center, at Detroit Avenue and West Boulevard, about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, police said.

He was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center in serious condition, EMS officials said. Throughout the night his condition deteriorated and he died early Sunday, Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president Jeff Follmer said.

The shooting came after a man at the park adjacent to the rec center called police when he saw “a guy with a gun pointing it at people.

The caller twice said the gun was “probably fake” and told dispatchers the person pulling the gun from his waistband was “probably a juvenile,” according to audio released by police officials late Saturday.

3568ecaa36b392f4d5b0ca08cbe0dc39Sunday news shows including shows of white men defending a system where police indiscriminately shoot black children.  The worst of them was ABC where Rudy Gulliani  blamed black people for causing white police presence in their neighborhoods.   I seriously wish these guys would actually come live some place other than white enclaves with gates everywhere and see what the real deal is.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) got into a heated argument about race and crime with Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson during a discussion on Ferguson, Mo.

“But the fact is, I find it very disappointing that you’re not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We’re talking about the exception here,” Giuliani said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” while discussing whether police forces reflect the demographics of the communities they serve.

Dyson called this a “false equivalency.”

“Can I say this, first of all, no black people who commit crimes against other black people go to jail. Number two, they are not sworn by the police department as a agent of the state to uphold the law,” he said. “So in both cases, that’s a false equivalency that the mayor has drawn, which is exacerbated tensions that are deeply imbedded in American culture.”

Later in the argument Giuliani argued that while police officers are only present in certain communities because black people are committing crimes.

“It is the reason for the heavy police presence in the black community,” he said. “White police officers won’t be there if you weren’t killing each other 70 percent of the time.”

Dyson shot back at Giuliani and said, “this is a defense mechanism of white supremacy at work in your mind.”

So, that gives you a choice of the serious and the interesting to read this morning.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Lazy Saturday Reads: Immigration Facts and Ferguson Fears

Vivien Leigh reads

Good Afternoon!!

 

President Obama’s executive action on immigration tops the news today. Ferguson is a close second. I’ll be focusing mostly on those two stories in this post.

Immigration

Before I get started, I want to point you to a new post by Darren Hutchinson of Dissenting Justice. It will give you some reality-based ammunition to deal with crazy wingnut friends, relatives, and Facebook and Twitter followers.

FACTS: President Obama’s Immigration Policies Are Absolutely LEGAL.

ATTENTION: Before you can argue that the government has violated a law, you must actually READ the law.

FACT: Congress has the exclusive power to pass laws regarding immigration (U.S. Const. Article I, Section 8, Cl. 4).FACT: Executive Power of the US is vested in the President, which means the President, not Congress, executes the immigration laws (U.S. Const. Article II, Sect. 1, Cl. 1)….

FACT: Consistent with the Constitution, the INA gives the Executive Branch (President, Homeland Security, Attorney General, and Secretary of State) the power to enforce immigration laws (8 U.S.C. Sect. 1103-1104)….

FACT: The Executive Can “Cancel” the Removal of Certain Deportable Individuals. 
The INA allows the Attorney General to cancel removal (deportation) or adjust the status of certain categories of undocumented individuals. The statute explicitly spells out the criteria for doing so. Thus, the statute provides an “intelligible criteria” for the Attorney General to follow. (8 U.S.C. Section 1229b(a)-(b))….

The Executive Can Give Temporary Protected Status to Certain Deportable Individuals. The INA also allows the Attorney General to grant “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS) to deportable individuals from certain countries that the Attorney General has placed on a TPS list. As required by Supreme Court doctrine, the INA gives SPECIFIC guidelines – or an intelligible principle – for the Attorney General to follow when determining whether to give TPS designation to a country. The statutory factors include serious conditions in the individual’s home country, like armed conflict; natural disasters; a request for temporary protected status by the country; or “extraordinary and temporary conditions” that preclude the safe return of the individual, so long as TPS does not conflict with the interests of the US.
(8 U.S.C. Sections 1254a-i)

Those are the highlights. There’s more at the link. I plan to save Hutchinson’s post for future reference. I’m thinking of printing it out in case I get in a political argument with my brother over Thanksgiving dinner.

jimmy stewart reads in bed

Obama has been vilified from day one by people who obviously have never read the Constitution or any U.S. laws dealing with their various political hobby horses, and I’m sick and tired of it.

You all know I not a fan of Obama when he ran for president in 2008, and I still think he’s a conservative technocrat who is far to willing to support privatization of public services. But he is the President of the United States now. I support his efforts to reform immigration laws. He’s only taking executive action because Congress is full of stupid and irrational people who are too lazy or stubborn to cooperate with him. Sadly, the DC media is largely made up of wealthy, privileged people who got their jobs because through nepotism and/or because they attended elite universities and are too lazy or stupid to provide accurate information to the public. Therefore, people who don’t focus on politics like we do get false information from TV news or “journalists” who do not understand what journalism is.

Rant over.

A few more links on the immigration story:

Washington Post Wonkblog, Flow chart: Who qualifies for Obama’s immigration offer?

The president’s executive action would delay deportation for the undocumented mother of a child born in the U.S. on Thursday — but not an undocumented mother who gave birth here one day later. Similarly, the president has offered deferrals to children brought to this country by their parents before their 16th birthday — but not a few weeks after.

Such deadlines serve a purpose: They’re meant to discourage new immigrants from coming in the future, or to dissuade women already here from giving birth with the goal of securing deferrals. But they also show that the president’s action falls far short of a comprehensive solution. It offers, instead, a fragmented answer that will leave many immigrants disappointed.

Check out the flow chart at the link for details.

liz-taylor_steve-mcqueen

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post, Bringing perspective to Obama’s move on deportations.

Now that President Obama has announced his executive action to temporarily shield millions from deportation, confirming the administration’s view that this move is well within his authority, the battle now shifts to a political fight over the policy itself, and over whether it violates “political norms.” Is this action so provocative an affront to Congress that it sets a precedent for future GOP presidents to use discretion to selectively enforce laws liberals like?

Embedded in the legal opinion that the Office of Legal Counsel released to justify the move is an important nugget that should, in theory, help take the steam out of the idea that this move is a flagrant violation of political norms.

Obama’s action temporarily shields from deportation the parents of children who are U.S. citizens and legal residents, and also expands the program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to protect people brought here illegally as children. But it excludes parents of DACA recipients.

The reason for this offered by the OLC memo is that protecting parents of legal residents is in line with Congressional intent, as expressed in statute, while protecting DACA parents isn’t:

[T]he parents of DACA recipients are differently situated from the parents of U.S. citizens and LPRs [Legal Permanent Residents] under the family-related provisions of the immigration law. Many provisions of the INA [Immigration and Nationality Act] reflect Congress’ general concern about separating individuals who are legally entitled to live in the United States and their immediate family members….But the immigration laws do not express comparable concern for uniting persons who lack lawful status (or prospective lawful status in the United States with their families…Extending deferred action to the parents of DACA recipients would therefore expand family-based immigration relief in a manner that deviates in important respects from the immigration system Congress has enacted.

This legal opinion probably precludes any future expansion of this program to cover parents of DACA recipients. And it underscores two things: First, that the proposal is heavily focused on providing relief from humanitarian hardship endured by U.S. citizens and permanent residents, a longtime intention of Congress, as expressed in statute. Second, it shows that the proposal’s legal rationale is tightly circumscribed to reflect that Congressional intent.

Follow me below the fold for much more . . .
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Friday Reads: He Said, She Said, They Said …

Good Morning!

27771942We’re seeing some movement from the Clintons which may signal that Hillary is seriously considering the presidential run.  Hillary went on record supporting the President’s move on immigration last night.

Clinton – the Democratic front-runner for the 2016 presidential race — took to Twitter to thank Obama, moments after his speech from the White House.

“Thanks to POTUS for taking action on immigration in the face of inaction,” she tweeted. “Now let’s turn to permanent bipartisan reform. #ImmigrationAction.”

Bill Clinton spoke to an audience for TNR’s 100th birthday.

And so what I would like to do tonight is to say: We’re all pretty familiar with what’s happened in the last 100 years, but I think it’s important not to airbrush it too much. And by that, I mean that every attempt to make America’s republic new, every attempt to form a more perfect union (inaudible) every attempt to create a world we would like to live in and we would like our children and grandchildren to grow up in and flourish in, all of those were met with obstacles, had periods of great hope, followed by setbacks, followed by small steps, followed by struggles.

History is a messy thing. We like to think, you know, it’s just a rushing river. It may be, but there’s a lot of rocks in the river. And all of this you have chronicled. And people all along the road who have read it have benefited.

Now, you say the theme of this night is a new century of idealism and innovation. Well, the good news is, there’s plenty of innovation. It’s interesting, I pick up the paper in New York and I know I’m an old guy reading about a new world when the big struggle is, should Uber be allowed to drive along with the cabs and should Airbnb be allowed to put people up along with the Regis, St. Regis Hotel? I mean, it’s an interesting time to be alive. There’s lots of innovation. And the social networks are flourishing.

And on a more serious note, we’re getting profound benefits from the sequencing of the human genome. I spent $3 billion of your tax money on that. And it was worth every penny.

It really was. I worry about us underfunding basic research and science and technology, but…

But we announced the first sequencing in 2000, but, boy, it’s exploded since then. And there was a study about a year ago that said already $180 billion worth of economic benefits had flowed just to the United States from this effort, never mind what’s happening around the world.

09140c3ab735311981db293b2ddb1edfSome folks just know how to see the bigger picture.  Then, there are the Republicans.  Here’s a sample of what Republican officials have said in the last few days.   First up, some social commentary from the incoming Speaker of the Nevada house who has an issue with black people and appears to be a Neo-Confederate, misogynist, racist, and homobigot all wrapped up in one great big bald-headed, white, package.

He also referred to public schools as a form of “educational slavery,” writing that “[t]he Democratic coalition would split asunder if the NAACP & co. actually promoted what black Americans truly desire — educational choice. The shrewd and calculating [black] ’leaders’ are willing to sacrifice the children of their own race to gratify their lust for power and position. The relationship of Negroes and Democrats is truly a master-slave relationship, with the benevolent master knowing what’s best for his simple minded darkies.”

Hansen registered further displeasure with the “simple minded darkies” more directly, too, noting that “[t]he lack of gratitude and the deliberate ignoring of white history in relation to eliminating slavery is a disgrace that Negro leaders should own up to.”

His thoughts on homosexuality and feminism are equally regressive. For years, he wrote, he kept a “rough tally on homosexual/heterosexual molesters as reported locally,” and found that “roughly half of all molestations involve homosexual men preying on boys,” citing as further evidence the existence of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) and the Catholic church molestation scandals as evidence of gay male depravity.

As for women, he wrote that their proclivity for filing sexual harassment suits made them unfit to serve their country, claiming that “[t]oday, when Army men look at women in the ranks with ’longing in their eyes’ it very well may constitute ’sexual harassment.’ The truth is, women do not belong in the Army or Navy or Marine Corps, except in certain limited fields.”

images (1) Another Oil Rig has exploded off the Louisiana Gulf Coast.  It killed one person and injured 3.  The rig was not in production so there appears to be no leaking oil at the moment.

One person is dead and three people are injured after an oil platform explosion 12 miles off the coast of New Orleans, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

The three injured are being treated at an offshore medical facility. One person, who hasn’t been identified, died in the explosion, BSEE officials say. All other employees have been accounted for.

The platform is operated by Houston-based Fieldwood Energy, which reported the explosion of its Echo Platform, West Delta 105, just before 3 p.m., according to the BSEE.

The platform was not in production at the time of the explosion. Officials say no pollution was reported, and no damage to the facility was done.

I’m assuming we’ll find out more today and tomorrow.

The Obama administration appears to be pressuring a Senate Committee that’s been studying US torture and detentions during the Bush years.  Will we ever find out what those criminals did in our name?  Why does the Obama administration want the images (2)report suppressed?

The White House is fiercely resisting the release of an executive summary of a 6,300-page Senate report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, Senate aides tell Foreign Policy, raising fears that the public will never receive a full accounting of the Bush administration’s post-9/11 torture practices.

At issue is the report’s identification of individual CIA officers by pseudonyms. The CIA and the White House want the pseudonyms and references to other agency activities completely stricken to further protect the identities of CIA spies. Senate aides say many of those redactions are unnecessary and render the report unreadable. Now even after Senate Democrats agreed to remove some pseudonyms at the White House’s request, the Oval Office is still haggling for more redactions.

“The White House is continuing to put up fierce resistance to the release of the report,” said one knowledgeable Senate aide. “Ideally, we should be closing ground and finalizing the last stages right now so that we can release the report post-Thanksgiving. But, despite the fact that the committee has drastically reduced the number of pseudonyms in the report, the White House is still resisting and dragging this out.”

A White House official denied the accusation. “The president has been clear that he wants the executive summary of the committee’s report to be declassified as expeditiously as possible,” said the official. “We share the Intelligence Committee’s desire for the declassified report to be released; and all of the administration’s efforts since we received the initial version have been focused on making that happen, while also protecting our national security.”

Up until recently, Barack Obama’s administration had avoided taking sides in the public spat between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee over the report — a $40 million, five-year study that is harshly critical of the agency. However, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is now personally negotiating with Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California for further redactions, which is rankling some Democrats.

Cary Makes A CallHouse Republicans have passed a bill preventing the EPA from using the science provided by the scientists advising the EPA.  

Congressional climate wars were dominated Tuesday by the U.S. Senate, which spent the day debating, and ultimately  failing to pass, a bill approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. While all that was happening, and largely unnoticed, the House was busy doing what it does best: attacking science.

H.R. 1422, which  passed 229-191, would shake up the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board, placing restrictions on those pesky scientists and creating room for experts with overt financial ties to the industries affected by EPA regulations.

The bill is being framed as  a play for transparency: Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas,  argued that the board’s current structure is problematic because it  “excludes industry experts, but not officials for environmental advocacy groups.” The inclusion of industry experts, he said, would right this injustice.

But the White House, which threatened to veto the bill,  said it would “negatively affect the appointment of experts and would weaken the scientific independence and integrity of the SAB.”

Yes, it’s going to be crazy go nuts the next few years.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: An Important Story about Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Francoise in a round-backed chair reading, Mary Cassatt

Francoise in a round-backed chair reading, Mary Cassatt

 

Good Morning!!

I stayed up late last night reading the stunning Rolling Stone article on the culture of sexual assault and official cover-up at the University of Virginia. After I finished it, I had quite a bit of difficulty getting to sleep. The story was reported and written by investigative journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely. The headline is A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA. Before I begin, I want to warn everyone that the article includes explicit descriptions of sexual assault and a shocking culture of indifference to victims. I’m not going to excerpt explicit descriptions of rapes, but I do want to quote some of the reactions to them by students and administrators.

The article opens with a graphic description of a violent gang rape of 18-year-old incoming freshman “Jackie” that took place at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house during a party. Hours later, beaten and bloody, Jackie called “friends” for help, but instead of taking her to a hospital they talked her out of reporting the assault because it would ruin her “reputation,” and they as her friends would be ostracized and would no longer be invited to frat parties.

So Jackie hid in her room and sank into a deep depression. She received no support from her “friends” and acquaintances. The man who had taken her to the party and set up her rape by 7 men behaved as if nothing abnormal had happened, and asked her why she was ignoring him. Erdely on the friends’ reactions:

She was having an especially difficult time figuring out how to process that awful night, because her small social circle seemed so underwhelmed. For the first month of school, Jackie had latched onto a crew of lighthearted social strivers, and her pals were now impatient for Jackie to rejoin the merriment. “You’re still upset about that?” Andy asked one Friday night when Jackie was crying. Cindy, a self-declared hookup queen, said she didn’t see why Jackie was so bent out of shape. “Why didn’t you have fun with it?” Cindy asked. “A bunch of hot Phi Psi guys?” One of Jackie’s friends told her, unconcerned, “Andy said you had a bad experience at a frat, and you’ve been a baby ever since.”

That type of response to sexual assaults is apparently common at UVA.

That reaction of dismissal, downgrading and doubt is a common theme UVA rape survivors hear, including from women. “Some of my hallmates were skeptical,” recalls recent grad Emily Renda, who says that weeks into her first year she was raped after a party. “They were silent and avoided me afterwards. It made me doubt myself.” Other students encounter more overt hostility, as when a first-year student confided her assault to a friend. “She said she thought I was just looking for attention,” says the undergrad. Shrugging off a rape or pointing fingers at the victim can be a self-protective maneuver for women, a form of wishful thinking to reassure themselves they could never be so vulnerable to violence. For men, skepticism is a form of self-protection too. For much of their lives, they’ve looked forward to the hedonistic fun of college, bearing every expectation of booze and no-strings sex. A rape heralds the uncomfortable idea that all that harmless mayhem may not be so harmless after all. Easier, then, to assume the girl is lying, even though studies indicate that false rape reports account for, at most, eight percent of reports.

And so at UVA, where social status is paramount, outing oneself as a rape victim can be a form of social suicide. “I don’t know many people who are engrossed in the party scene and have spoken out about their sexual assaults,” says third-year student Sara Surface. After all, no one climbs the social ladder only to cast themselves back down. Emily Renda, for one, quickly figured out that few classmates were sympathetic to her plight, and instead channeled her despair into hard partying. “My drinking didn’t stand out,” says Renda, who often ended her nights passed out on a bathroom floor. “It does make you wonder how many others are doing what I did: drinking to self-medicate.”

Investigative journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely of Rolling Stone

Investigative journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely of Rolling Stone

Erdely talked to a number of survivors, and she found a history of gang rapes at Phi Kappa Psi fraternity stretching back at least 30 years. She describes a culture in which male upperclassmen target freshmen girls and deliberately take advantage of their lack of sophistication about the danger of sexual violence on college campuses.

A year later, Jackie did report the rape to a UVA administrator. She was sent to Dean Nicole Eramo, who heads the “Sexual Misconduct Board.” Eramo subtly discouraged Jackie from reporting the rape.

When Jackie finished talking, Eramo comforted her, then calmly laid out her options. If Jackie wished, she could file a criminal complaint with police. Or, if Jackie preferred to keep the matter within the university, she had two choices. She could file a complaint with the school’s Sexual Misconduct Board, to be decided in a “formal resolution” with a jury of students and faculty, and a dean as judge. Or Jackie could choose an “informal resolution,” in which Jackie could simply face her attackers in Eramo’s presence and tell them how she felt; Eramo could then issue a directive to the men, such as suggesting counseling. Eramo presented each option to Jackie neutrally, giving each equal weight. She assured Jackie there was no pressure – whatever happened next was entirely her choice.

Like many schools, UVA has taken to emphasizing that in matters of sexual assault, it caters to victim choice. “If students feel that we are forcing them into a criminal or disciplinary process that they don’t want to be part of, frankly, we’d be concerned that we would get fewer reports,” says associate VP for student affairs Susan Davis. Which in theory makes sense: Being forced into an unwanted choice is a sensitive point for the victims. But in practice, that utter lack of guidance can be counterproductive to a 19-year-old so traumatized as Jackie was that she was contemplating suicide. Setting aside for a moment the absurdity of a school offering to handle the investigation and adjudication of a felony sex crime – something Title IX requires, but which no university on Earth is equipped to do – the sheer menu of choices, paired with the reassurance that any choice is the right one, often has the end result of coddling the victim into doing nothing.

“This is an alarming trend that I’m seeing on campuses,” says Laura Dunn of the advocacy group SurvJustice. “Schools are assigning people to victims who are pretending, or even thinking, they’re on the victim’s side, when they’re actually discouraging and silencing them.

The culture of cover-up at UVA is shocking to me, but it is probably typical of many colleges and universities, according to Erdely. However UVA is among a select group of 86 schools that is under investigation by the federal Office of Civil Rights because of their failure to deal with the problem. In September UVA held a two-hour trustees meeting to discuss sexual assault on campus.

Those two hours, however, were devoted entirely to upbeat explanations of UVA’s new prevention and response strategies, and to self-congratulations to UVA for being a “model” among schools in this arena. Only once did the room darken with concern, when a trustee in UVA colors – blue sport coat, orange bow tie – interrupted to ask, “Are we under any federal investigation with regard to sexual assault?”

Dean of students Allen Groves, in a blue suit and orange necktie of his own, swooped in with a smooth answer. He affirmed that while like many of its peers UVA was under investigation, it was merely a “standard compliance review.” He mentioned that a student’s complaint from the 2010-11 academic year had been folded into that “routine compliance review.” Having downplayed the significance of a Title IX compliance review – which is neither routine nor standard – he then elaborated upon the lengths to which UVA has cooperated with the Office of Civil Rights’ investigation, his tone and manner so reassuring that the room relaxed.

Told of the meeting, Office of Civil Rights’ Catherine Lhamon calls Groves’ mischaracterization “deliberate and irresponsible.” “Nothing annoys me more than a school not taking seriously their review from the federal government about their civil rights obligations,” she says.

Jackie eventually became involved with a UVA rape survivors group, but even among these women who were trying to deal with their traumatic experiences and reaching out to recent victims, the culture was one of not reporting their rapes to police.

UVA Dean of Students Nicole Eramo

UVA Dean of Students Nicole Eramo

You’ll recall that it was at UVA that 18-year-old Hannah Graham was abducted and murdered, allegedly by 32-year-old Jesse Matthew, who had been previously accused of rape at two different Virginia colleges in 2002 and 2003. He was not charged in either case, and he apparently went on to become a smoothly professional sexual predator. The news reports say that the victims did not want to press charges, but the truth is that colleges and universities regularly discourage young women from reporting rapes in order to protect their institutional reputations. Erdely addresses this issue at length in her article on UVA.

Matthew’s DNA was found under the fingernails of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who disappeared after she was locked out of a Metallica concert on the UVA campus in 2009. Harrington’s body was later found a few miles from where Hannah Graham’s body was recovered. Matthew’s DNA has also been connected to a violent rape and attempted murder that took place in Fairfax in 2005.

In her article, Erdely discusses the research done by psychologist David Lisak on campus rapists. He discovered that a small percentage of college men commit rapes, and they tend to be repeat offenders (PDF). That last link is to a peer-reviewed journal article by Lisak, “Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending by Undetected Rapists.” Erdely writes:

Lisak’s 2002 groundbreaking study of more than 1,800 college men found that roughly nine out of 10 rapes are committed by serial offenders, who are responsible for an astonishing average of six rapes each. None of the offenders in Lisak’s study had ever been reported. Lisak’s findings upended general presumptions about campus sexual assault: It implied that most incidents are not bumbling, he-said-she-said miscommunications, but rather deliberate crimes by serial sex offenders.

In his study, Lisak’s subjects described the ways in which they used the camouflage of college as fruitful rape-hunting grounds. They told Lisak they target freshmen for being the most naïve and the least-experienced drinkers. One offender described how his party-hearty friends would help incapacitate his victims: “We always had some kind of punch. . . . We’d make it with a real sweet juice. It was really powerful stuff. The girls wouldn’t know what hit them.” Presumably, the friends mixing the drinks did so without realizing the offender’s plot, just as when they probably high-fived him the next morning, they didn’t realize the behavior they’d just endorsed. That’s because the serial rapist’s behavior can look ordinary at college. “They’re not acting in a vacuum,” observes Lisak of predators. “They’re echoing that message and that culture that’s around them: the objectification and degradation of women.”

I won’t quote any more from the article, but I do recommend reading it if  you can handle it.

After the Rolling Stone article came out, UVA’s president suddenly decided maybe she should something about Jackie’s rape. From The Daily Progress, UVa calls for investigation into rape allegation in Rolling Stone article.

UVa President Teresa A. Sullivan released a statement Wednesday night, stating the university’s commitment to preventing sexual assault.

“The University takes seriously the issue of sexual misconduct, a significant problem that colleges and universities are grappling with across the nation,” Sullivan said in the statement. “Our goal is to provide an environment that is as safe as possible for our students and the entire University community.”

Erdely said UVa reinforced one of her major arguments in her article — that UVa administration focuses on prestige and appearance over student safety — with Sullivan’s statement….

“I am writing in response to a Rolling Stone magazine article that negatively depicts the University of Virginia and its handling of sexual misconduct cases,” Sullivan said at the beginning of the statement.

“It goes to show what their priorities are here — the fact that she would go out of her way to say I negatively depicted the university — this is the first thing on their minds,” Erdely said. “They need to be putting student safety first.”

UVA President Teresa Sullivan

UVA President Teresa Sullivan

Here’s the full statement:

Date: Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 6:17 PM
Subject: An Important Message from President Sullivan

To the University community:

I am writing in response to a Rolling Stone magazine article that negatively depicts the University of Virginia and its handling of sexual misconduct cases. Because of federal and state privacy laws, and out of respect for sexual assault survivors, we are very limited in what we can say about any of the cases mentioned in this article.

The article describes an alleged sexual assault of a female student at a fraternity house in September 2012, including many details that were previously not disclosed to University officials. I have asked the Charlottesville Police Department to formally investigate this incident, and the University will cooperate fully with the investigation.

The University takes seriously the issue of sexual misconduct, a significant problem that colleges and universities are grappling with across the nation. Our goal is to provide an environment that is as safe as possible for our students and the entire University community.

We have recently adopted several new initiatives and policies aimed at fostering a culture of reporting and raising awareness of the issues.

We want our students to feel comfortable coming forward with information when there are problems in the community and cooperating with local law enforcement and the student disciplinary process. We also want them to feel empowered to take action and to lead efforts to make our Grounds and our community a better place to live and learn.

We have been taking a leadership role on issues regarding sexual misconduct and violence. U.Va. hosted a national conference on this topic in February 2014. “Dialogue at U.Va.: Sexual Misconduct Among College Students” brought together national experts and professionals from approximately 60 colleges and universities to discuss best practices and strategies for prevention and response.

The HoosGotYourBack initiative, part of the Not On Our Grounds awareness campaign, was developed and launched in collaboration with students and with local Corner Merchants to increase active bystander behavior.

A number of other initiatives are also planned for the spring. Among them are the implementation of a new student sexual misconduct policy and a related training program, a campus climate survey, and an in-depth bystander intervention program that will include students, faculty, and staff.

More information about sexual violence education and resources is available on the University’s website at http://www.virginia.edu/sexualviolence/

Finally, I want to underscore our commitment to marshaling all available resources to assist our students who confront issues related to sexual misconduct. Our dedicated Student Affairs staff devote countless hours to educating and counseling our students on issues regarding their health and safety, and they stand ready to assist whenever students need help.

Teresa A. Sullivan
President

President Sullivan approved distribution of this message.

I’ll let you judge the sincerity of Sullivan’s statement.

I know there is plenty of other news going on, but this was all I could think about this morning. Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread, and feel free to discuss this post or not. I realize this is a very difficult subject, but it is also a vitally important one.


Wednesday Reads: Bang the drum, slowly.

d615f40c2c872220010ba12ab5f1cc89Good Late Morning

I have this “thing” set up so that I get an email every time Congress votes…for instance…

Yesterday’s Keystone Vote came through like so:

113 Congress – Session 2

On Passage of the Bill

S.2280
A bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Vote Date: November 18, 2014 at 12:55PM
Roll Call Number: 280
Required For Majority: 3/5

Vote Result: Bill Defeated

Vote Counts
59 YES
41 NO
0 Abstentions

2d63249a437314c55c144c987624866eDemocratic Party: 14 YES, 39 NO, 0 Abstentions
Republican Party: 45 YES, 0 NO, 0 Abstentions

via NYT Politics http://ift.tt/Hx3Z2z

Now…it is just a little annoying sometimes…what with the same shit over and over.

Take a look at a few bills from the past couple days:

113 Congress – Session 2

On the Cloture Motion

S.2685
A bill to reform the authorities of the Federal Government to require the production of certain business records, conduct electronic surveillance, use pen registers and trap and trace devices, and use other forms of information gathering for foreign intelligence, counterterrorism, and criminal purposes, and for other purposes.

Vote Date: November 18, 2014 at 02:26PM
Roll Call Number: 282
Required For Majority: 3/5

DM2000072109:SAED:APR1956 - Drum Cover  ( Baileys Archives)Vote Result: Cloture Motion Rejected

Vote Counts
58 YES
42 NO
0 Abstentions

Democratic Party: 52 YES, 1 NO, 0 Abstentions
Republican Party: 4 YES, 41 NO, 0 Abstentions

via NYT Politics http://ift.tt/Hx3Z2z

 

Let me know if you see a trend.

113 Congress – Session 2

On Agreeing to the Amendment

H R 1422
Stewart of Utah Part A Amendment No. 1

DM2000080701:SAED:JAN1952 - Drum CoverVote Date: November 18, 2014 at 12:33PM
Roll Call Number: 523
Required For Majority: YEA-AND-NAY

Vote Result: Agreed to

Vote Counts
232 YES
184 NO
18 Abstentions

Democratic Party: 9 YES, 184 NO, 8 Abstentions
Republican Party: 223 YES, 0 NO, 11 Abstentions

via NYT Politics http://ift.tt/Hx3Z2z

2d654bf4406773286596c8342cf10a9bA couple more…why not?

113 Congress – Session 2

On Motion to Recommit with Instructions

H R 1422
EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act

Vote Date: November 18, 2014 at 12:52PM
Roll Call Number: 524
Required For Majority: RECORDED VOTE

Vote Result: Failed

Vote Counts
195 YES
225 NO
14 Abstentions

Democratic Party: 194 YES, 1 NO, 6 Abstentions
Republican Party: 1 YES, 224 NO, 9 Abstentions

via NYT Politics http://ift.tt/Hx3Z2z

113 Congress – Session 2

On Agreeing to the Resolution

b80902d0fb68076e6590bba5eb63f1afH RES 756
Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1422) EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act; providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 4012) Secret Science Reform Act; and providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 4795) Promoting New Manufacturing Act

Vote Date: November 18, 2014 at 08:30AM
Roll Call Number: 522
Required For Majority: RECORDED VOTE

Vote Result: Passed

Vote Counts
227 YES
192 NO
15 Abstentions

Democratic Party: 0 YES, 192 NO, 9 Abstentions
Republican Party: 227 YES, 0 NO, 7 Abstentions

 

266ae38a2c7c71a48f17d62d9ccba459 The beat goes on…

113 Congress – Session 2

On the Nomination

PN1515
Leslie Joyce Abrams, of Georgia, to be United States District Judge for the Middle District of Georgia

Vote Date: November 18, 2014 at 01:28PM
Roll Call Number: 281
Required For Majority: 1/2

Vote Result: Nomination Confirmed

Vote Counts
100 YES
0 NO
0 Abstentions

Democratic Party: 53 YES, 0 NO, 0 Abstentions
Republican Party: 45 YES, 0 NO, 0 Abstentions

via NYT Politics http://ift.tt/Hx3Z2z

0981187fbe709bdf799529ed4e2e5979Holy shit, how did she get through there?

But it isn’t all total opposite when it comes to party breakdown in the voting results.

113 Congress – Session 2

On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass

H R 5162
An Act to allow a certain parcel of land in Rockingham County, Virginia, to be used for a child care center

Vote Date: November 17, 2014 at 01:54PM
Roll Call Number: 520
Required For Majority: 2/3 YEA-AND-NAY

Vote Result: Passed

Vote Counts
378 YES
1 NO
55 Abstentions

Democratic Party: 171 YES, 0 NO, 30 Abstentions
Republican Party: 207 YES, 1 NO, 26 Abstentions

via NYT Politics http://ift.tt/Hx3Z2z

1309b4e6df0c0b3b2bc0e452cc126e4aYou know, I don’t really care anymore. When it comes to the next two years…all these emails just tick off a familiar beat. Like a tribal drum banging away, spreading word of the doom ahead.

Mitch McConnell: I’m Not a Scientist—Except on Keystone XL Pipeline | New Republic

Mitch McConnell Is Not A Scientist, Except When He Is | Wonkette

McConnell’s looming apocalypse: GOP conservatives plan budget showdown – Salon.com

But the real article that got me going on all this shit was the headline on this one:

DM2001071603:SAED:COVER:JUN1951- Childen. (© BAHA)Republicans: Keystone pipeline down, but not out | Boston Herald

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising the new Republican majority will quickly resurrect Keystone XL pipeline legislation killed by Democrats, potentially setting up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama.

“I look forward to the new Republican majority taking up and passing the Keystone jobs bill early in the new year,” the Kentucky Republican said Tuesday, shortly after the bill fell one vote short of the 60 votes needed to advance. He was joined by incoming Senate Energy Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who said the fight wasn’t over.

46ab8a3cc89a6bd989f09e06a3cadb17Keystone “jobs” bill?

Give me a fucking break…

Republicans are likely to have enough votes to assure the bill’s passage in January, when they will have at least 53 seats — 54 if Cassidy wins the Louisiana runoff.

“If you look at new Congress, you can count four more (GOP seats) right away, and there may be others,” Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota, the lead sponsor of the bill, said after the 59-41 vote Tuesday. “You can see we’re well over 60.”

Hoeven acknowledged that Republicans would need 67 votes to override a veto, but said one possibility is to include Keystone in a larger energy package that may not prompt a veto threat.

85ac030586abe19ad48cf7f5f8e6cae5The vote was one of the last acts of this Senate controlled by the Democrats. It is expected to complete its work by mid-December.

Cassidy, Landrieu’s Republican opponent, said Louisiana families “need better jobs, better wages and better benefits,” and the pipeline would provide them.

Democratic divisions were on vivid display in a bill that pitted environmentalists against energy advocates.

While Obama opposes the measure, likely 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has repeatedly refused to take a position. Most recently, her spokesman did not respond to two requests over the weekend to do so.

Ho hum…

At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest said the measure is something “the president doesn’t support because the president believes that this is something that should be determined through the State Department and the regular process that is in place to evaluate projects like this.”

Ugh…You know, if he was still in the senate, I bet Obama would be the only abstention.

e7b7afacd23f608835ca7561648e8fdfThe rest of today’s links in dump format…since this post is so damn late. (And my internet is so damn slow.)

The Grinch Who Taxed the Internet | Commentary : Roll Call Opinion

Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., seems poised to take one last shot at changing how online purchases are taxed. Reid has signaled he’ll bring the unpopular Marketplace Fairness Act up for a vote by tacking it onto the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which is headed for certain renewal.

Passed in 1998 with bipartisan support, the ITFA bars states from taxing access to the Internet and imposing discriminatory Internet-only taxes. The legislation will expire on December 11 and pressure from the tech sector is on for its renewal. While the ITFA has proven enormously popular and indisputably successful, it has little to do with online sales taxes.

326fb5c8e368594019f91a51982eb5a5The 7 Numbers You Need to Make Sense of the 2014 Midterms – NationalJournal.com

Men and women’s politics were further apart in 2014 than they’ve been in any U.S. election in two decades.

That’s one of many hard truths laid bare by the midterms, which generated a huge collection of data—from election returns to exit polls to financial disclosures—to help us make sense of two things: what exactly happened in the November elections and what it means going forward.

The top lines are obvious: Republicans took the Senate, padded their lead in the House, and grabbed contested wins in gubernatorial races. But here are seven numbers that illustrate what was going on beneath the surface.

0fa6447567f97d0c8c0f35fef9f10805Beyond the Stereotyped South – NYTimes.com

Sometimes the hardest place to photograph is in your own backyard: When everything is familiar, it’s a challenge to make things look interesting. Yet, Tamara Reynolds has done just that in “Southern Route,” looking hard at the American South, which she calls home, and offering a searing, honest portrayal of the country’s most stereotyped region.

She knows that for some, the South evokes images of poverty and obesity, memories of racism and slavery, or words like “hillbilly” and “redneck.” The area that divided the country 150 years ago is stuck between pride and progress. Ms. Reynolds looks beyond these generalities to capture the genuine spirit of Southerners.

Although there is evidence of stereotypes, she said in her artist statement, “I have also learned that there is a restrained dignity and a generous affection that Southerners possess intrinsically.”

513a055353ac85270ff8bc12d970c6c2Take a look at those pictures at the link.

Can they do something about all these women coming forward about Bill Cosby raping them? Bill Cosby: Netflix postpones comedy special following Janice Dickinson’s claims star ‘raped me too’ – News – TV & Radio – The Independent

Another woman comes forward to accuse Cosby of rape | theGrio

The Grio story is terribly graphic.

Meanwhile, in news around the world:

03e64b3b9dafe343db093b50c324c339allAfrica.com: Gambia Must Stop Wave of Homophobic Arrests and Torture

The arrest, detention and torture of eight people since the beginning of the month as part of a crackdown on “homosexuality” by the Gambian authorities reveals the shocking scale of state-sponsored homophobia, Amnesty International said.

“These arrests took place amid an intensifying climate of fear for those perceived to have a different sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

“This unacceptable crackdown reveals the scale of state-sponsored homophobia in Gambia. Intimidation, harassment, and any arrest based solely on sexual orientation or gender identity is in clear violation of international and regional human rights law. The Gambian authorities must immediately stop this homophobic assault”.

Amnesty International considers people who are arrested and detained solely on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity to be prisoners of conscience. They should be released immediately and unconditionally.

74234567ed311d0961ecd9849952de73More at the link.

Japan’s 311 mph super maglev train takes passengers for run

Japan’s magnetically levitating maglev train, faster than Japan’s bullet train, is doing test runs with passengers, members of the public, in central Japan. The world’s fastest maglev train, the 311 mph (500 km/h) Series L0 (pronounced “L zero”) prototype, made its first public run.

The trains will enter service between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027, barring any setbacks, said Gizmodo. One hundred passengers traveled a 27-mile route between the cities of Uenohara and Fuefuki on the Shinkansen train earlier this month, reaching speeds of up to 311 miles per hour. The train’s use of maglev technology reduces friction. The Central Japan Railway Company is running eight days of testing for the experimental maglev. The Daily Mail said selection of those lucky enough to experience the trial runs will be by lottery. A total of 2,400 people will take the high-speed ride over eight days. Almost 300,000 people had applied for the passes, said the Daily Mail. As the video of a recent trial run indicated, guests saw the stats on monitoring screens and snapped away with their cameras.

When completed in 2027,said Katie Amey in the Daily Mail, “their exceptional speed capacity will cut the travel time by half, linking Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station with Nagoya in about 40 minutes, a journey which currently takes approximately 80 minutes.” The are expected to eventually consist of 16 carriages and carry up to 1,000 passengers at a time, she said.

2ce38884f4d88b3076350cdec7c2a133Geez…no thank you.

Italian police record a mafia oath ceremony for the first time – Europe – World – The Independent

Italian police have released video of recruits for the ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate taking a loyalty oath – the first time such a ritual has been recorded, authorities claimed.

The footage was filmed secretly near a farmhouse in northern Italy, although the Carabinieri paramilitary police in Milan did not reveal how they were able to capture the ceremony without being discovered by the syndicate.

Police said the video shows a meeting of suspected mobsters in Castello di Brianza in northern Italy and that one of the recruits was just 17 years old.

The video also shows members taking a loyalty oath where they have to swear “under the splendor of the moon” and are reminded that traitors are expected to kill themselves and thus must keep an extra bullet on them at all times.

As four men huddle, one man repeats the loyalty oath: ”Right in this holy evening, in the silence of the night, under the light of the stars and under the splendour of the moon, I create the holy chain…the holy society.”

But did they get to record the secret handshake? /snark.

And finally…the photos for this post come from the African magazine, Drum.

Apartheid Exposed in Drum Magazine – Slide Show – NYTimes.com

Miriam Makeba posing for Drum Magazine

Miriam Makeba posing for Drum Magazine

Apartheid was an inescapable fact of daily life in 1950s South Africa. But when the staff of Drum magazine got to the Johannesburg offices, the feeling was of having ‘‘walked into a different world, a world outside South Africa,’’ says Jürgen Schadeberg, the art director there in the 1950s. Inspired by the American magazines Life and Look, Drum’s documentary portrayals of black urban life, arts, politics and culture were revolutionary. Some of those images will be part of a major exhibition that opens at the International Center of Photography this month called ‘‘Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life.’’ ‘‘It was dangerous and difficult work,’’ Schadeberg says, recalling how the secret police kept the magazine under surveillance. ‘‘What we tried to show was how unjust apartheid was.’’

405babfdb2772a28da080fc28671ae13

  • YEAR DRUM WAS FIRST PUBLISHED: 1951
  • PEAK CIRCULATION IN SOUTH AFRICA: 100,000
  • COUNTRIES IT HAS BEEN DISTRIBUTED IN OUTSIDE SOUTH AFRICA: NIGERIA, GHANA, TANZANIA, KENYA, UGANDA AND RHODESIA (NOW ZIMBABWE AND ZAMBIA

 

Well, that’s all folks!

 


Tuesday Reads: Obvious Misogyny (at least to us anyway)

Good Morning!barbarella-1968--01

I avoid pop culture whenever possible. I admit to being an effete snob about the music, the fashion, the sheeplike behavior of the entire thing. Sometimes, pop culture just forces itself on you to the point you have to just sit down and ask yourself WTF were they thinking? So, with that and a series of face palms, I direct your attention to obvious misogyny with definite agist and racial overtones. Nothing breaks the internet quite like some one who just refuses to see what they’ve done.

So, first up is an ad that’s attacking Senator Mary Landrieu that just makes me want to scream bloody murder.  I’m really tired of the entire ploy to make older women irrelevant.  This definitely falls into this category and the boyz behind it are like “what, sexist and agist, who me?”

Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is denouncing an attack ad against her as being sexist because it shows her aging.

The ad, paid for by the Ending Spending Action Fund, suggests Washington has changed Landrieu, 58, over time and uses the age progression to illustrate that change.

Landrieu campaign spokesperson Fabien Levy called the ad “appalling.” He said it’s an example of Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy and his allies distracting from the issues.

“It is appalling that Congressman Cassidy and his allies would illustrate the senator’s age progression with a leading phrase that Washington has ‘changed’ her,” Levy said. “The ad is as classless as it is sexist, and Congressman Cassidy and his allies should remove [it] from television immediately.”

It’s hard to know what to say to below the belt optics like this that play into the idea of how a woman of a certain age–past the change–is all used up.  I see it. Do you?  Of course, we’ve seen this and many other sexist tropes applied to Hillary Clinton and I’m getting prepared for a lot more. 

Let me first be transparent here: I’m a Republican, and I’d like nothing more than to see Clinton go down in flames. And, as a recent front-page story in The New York Times noted, many in my party are already seeking to label the former first lady a “has-been” by virtue of her decades on the political stage.

Their case is as follows: Clinton has been in the spotlight in one form or another since the late 1970s when her husband, Bill, first became attorney general in their home state of Arkansas at the age of 30. Ironically, as Times reporter Jonathan Martin pointed out, it was Bill’s youthfulness that propelled him to the Arkansas governorship and later the presidency. Now, it could be the inverse that puts the brakes on the Hillary freight train.

There is undoubtedly a lot of spin in this new anti-Clinton narrative. But there are indeed signs that the baby boomers are going to have a tough time winning another presidential race.

That is a really stale link to an article titled “Hillary Clinton is too Old to be President”.

tumblr_inline_nf521tI78n1ri3npoThe next thing up is one ESA scientist who has all the sympathy the dudebro crowd can muster.  He did a major interview about the Rosetta project while wearing a Hawaiian shirt.  I generally expect scientists to be quirky so that doesn’t bother me at all.  What bothered me and many other women is that it was bedecked with the stereotypical male fantasy of a submissive, naked female in fetish wear with space guns.  You won’t believe the deep denial of the dudebro crowd on this one.  I kept seeing nerd guys acting like women were upset because NAKED!  Dude, it’s not the lack of clothes.  It’s the impossible body image, the obvious visual references–repeatedly–to the submissive woman, and the overall lack of awareness of the wearer who should know that women frequently feel pushed out of career areas where this kind of subtle, perpetual sexual harassment happens.  The scientist cried when he figured it out but the dudebro crowed continues to call us the new puritans because we’d rather have a more female-centric idea of our bodies and expressions of our sexuality.  I see it.  Do you?

Dr. Matt Taylor, one of European Space Agency scientists responsible for landing a spacecraft, on the surface of a comet, offered a tearful apology today for his tasteless choice in button-downs. On a streamed Google Hangout, hosted by the ESA, Dr. Taylor said he was “very sorry” and called wearing the shirt “a big mistake.”

In a post Philae landing-interview, Dr. Taylor was wearing a Hawaiian-style shirt covered with scantily clad women. Many picked up on this outfit choice, and were understandably outraged. A deluge of tweets and responses spilled onto the Internet. (In an aside there was the not shocking discovery that women who tweeted displeasure with the shirt were attacked, and men who tweeted criticism of the shirt were not.)

The shirt itself is pretty tasteless. The women on it are another reinforcement of our icky societal standard of beauty; the women are celebrated for their sex appeal. And the fact that Taylor thought that this was appropriate could point to the fact that he doesn’t work with enough women, or that he lacks the judgement to see how this could be offensive. Both are serious and issues.

Young girls are discouraged from the sciences (myself included, but that is a different story). There is also a huge terrible dearth of women in STEM fields, and when women are in those fields they must often contend with harassment, sexism and unequal pay. Because even if a woman does make it through the pipeline into STEM, they are not treated properly.

The shirt was more than just nearly naked women.

However, I think there is a bigger problem. I’ll admit I don’t know the full gender breakdown of every scientist who worked on the Rosetta mission (and I searched for a list). However, watching the livestream of the Philae landing, during the MattTaylorvictory speeches I saw microphone passed from man, to man, to man, and a female master of ceremonies (who had to call someone out for flirting). And on the Google Hangout, where Taylor made his apology, there were two women: one was the moderator, and one lone female scientist. That is a problem.

Hey little girls!  Welcome to your  STEM career where we constantly remind you that your role as a space engineer is to be Barbarella!!!

o-SEXY-PHD-900Perhaps you’d like a sexy Ph.D costume to go with that doctorate in astrophysics?  Yes, yes, I am a humorless feminist on this one.  (h/t to Delphyne for this one.)

The “Delicious Women’s Ph.D Darling Sexy Costume,” available on Amazon, features a “micro mini graduation robe” and cap, but you’ll have to provide your own high heels.

Women who actually hold Ph.Ds have started reviewing the costume, and their responses are nothing short of incredible. Here are eight of the best responses:

1. This costume doesn’t live up to its name. — Alyssa Picard

Sleeves are too short & have no stripes. Costume does not feature a hood. This is a “sexy BA” at best.

2. This product definitely helps women with Ph.Ds feel sexier. – Dawn Rouse

Like all lady Ph.Ds, I frequently ask myself: “How could I be sexier?”

Delicious costumes has come to my rescue! I can now lecture in my 5 inch gold spiked heels and “barely there” regalia while giving nary a thought to the male gaze and its implications on the prevalence of rape culture in our society.

I fully expect my chili pepper rating on RMP to go through the roof once I begin to greet my students in this costume. Hopefully I can keep my “post structural hegemonies” from engaging in some wardrobe malfunctions. Then again, who cares?

I’m sexy! Forget about the 7 years I spent sweating out a dissertation and engaging in innovative research!

SEXY!!!!

3. The perfect outfit for showing off one’s accomplishments. — Mary from MN

When I left my nursing job for graduate school, I was so distressed. I mean what was I going to wear? There were plenty of sexy nurse costumes that I could wear to honor my accomplishments in that profession, but after I attained my PhD there was something missing. I was better educated, but not sexy. Until now. Thank you, Delicious Costumes, for filling the void. You’ve given women like me who have worked our asses off earning our degrees a way to show our asses off, too. Keep it classy, Amazon.

4. Why wasn’t this available in the ’90s? – Elizabeth P. Mackenzie

I got my Ph.D. in 1997. If only I had known about this costume. I would have worn it to liven up my doctoral defense. Instead of my committee focusing on the boring experiment they made me do over the course of several years and giving me a three hour long exam, I could have worn this, popped out of a cake, batted my eye lids asked adorably, “Puwease let me have a Ph.D.? I’ve been so good.”

Also, math is hard.

5. Perfect for all graduate student activities! — Tracy L. Brock

Wow! Super-slinky yet surprisingly comfortable for those long nights lounging around grading poorly organized undergrad essays. Thanks to my five-year diet of ramen noodles and caffeine pills, the xs/s size fits me like a glove. I’ve never felt sexier–or smarter!

6. This outfit failed to get me tenure. Would not recommend. — PassionPhD

I spent 6 years working hard to get my PhD, which was extra hard because I am a lady, and it hurt my ovaries to think so much. After obtaining this advanced degree, the only position I could secure, like the majority in my field, was an adjunct position teaching for less than $2000 a course. Then I got this LadyPhD regalia and my life immediately changed! My department, full of esteemed and very prestigious senior male tenured faculty, saw me walking in the hall, invited me into the department meeting, and right there on the spot, immediately voted to make me a TENURED FULL PROFESSOR.

Sadly, the next morning, I found out it was NOT a faculty meeting that I had wandered into, just professors having an office cocktail party and I was not tenured after all. I WANT MY MONEY BACK. I have student loans to pay off!!

Here are some twitter comments on the Taylor shirt to check out what women and supportive men were saying.   You can go find the stunned misogynist comments on your own.

Okay, so here it is.  This is the one topic that I really didn’t want to write about but am doing it any way.  The obviously photoshopped, distorted picture of Kim Kardashian’s body was last week’s topic.  But, I’ve finally decided I want to take it on.  Again, champagne1it’s not about the nudity.  It’s not about her being a mother and being nude or sexual.  It’s the overt misogyny with an objectification of a distorted female form that’s the problem. Kim obviously is a willing participant in all of this and seems to thrive on being the subject–or object–of voyeurism.

The problem is that her photos are just the latest run at an old theme from an artist that has used similar pictures to objectify black women as willing exotic savages all ready for pillage. So, here we go with the Kim Kardasian Butt Saga.

The photographer responsible for the image is Jean-Paul Goude, and there’s more to know about him than that he’s “French” and “legendary.” Both those things are also true, but there’s this too: his artistic history is fraught with justified accusations of objectifying and exoticizing black women’s bodies. This isn’t a tangent of his work –- it’s what his entire oeuvre is built upon. It’s not a coincidence that his 1983 pictorial autobiography is titled Jungle Fever. “Blacks are the premise of my work,” the artist told People magazine in 1979, “I have jungle fever.”

To create his exoticized images, Goude would photograph black women in poses which ranged from athletic to primitive. He would then literally cut the image into pieces and reassemble it to create something even more formidable. You can see how he pulled off the pre-photoshop manipulation via the infamous photo he created of Grace Jones, with whom he had a turbulent relationship in the ’80s, for the artist’s now-iconic Island Life album cover:

grace3

Criticizing Kim’s cover because “it’s Photoshopped” is missing the point of his art. As Goude said of the Jones cover, “…unless you are extraordinarily supple, you cannot do this arabesque. The main point is that Grace couldn’t do it, and that’s the basis of my entire work: creating a credible illusion.”

Paper is wrongly attributing the inspiration for Kim Kardashian’s cover to a vintage Goude photo called “Champagne Incident.” The photo is actually 1976′s “Carolina Beaumont,” and it’s about more than balancing skills. An innocent mistake perhaps, but the fact that Beaumont is being literally obscured by it seems sadly appropriate.

So, this has not gone unnoticed in places where racism and sexism matter.

So last night while everyone else was arguing over Kim’s K’s right to show her butt, my focus was on something else entirely. When I looked at the spread all I saw was a not so subtle reincarnation of Saartjie Baartman – imagery that is steeped in centuries of racism, oppression and misogyny. For those who don’t know who she is, here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman (before 1790 – 29 December 1815 (also spelled Bartman, Bartmann, Baartmen) was the most famous of at least two Khoikhoi women who were exhibited as freak show attractions in 19th-century Europe under the name Hottentot Venus—”Hottentot” as the then-current name for the Khoi people, now considered an offensive term, and “Venus” in reference to the Roman goddess of love.

Saartjie was a woman whose large buttocks brought her questionable fame and caused her to spend much of her life being poked and prodded as a sexual object in a freak show.

Saartjie Baartman called the Hottentot Venus (from Namibia ) Credit: (Apic/Contributor)

Sound familiar?

But something tells me Kim probably has no clue about the cultural and historic significance of what she’s done. Instead, she probably just thought it would be cool to do an edgy photo shoot with famous photographer. And many of you have fallen for that oversimplified stance as well.

I’m the first to admit that some of the work that Jean-Paul Goude has done over the past 30 years has become iconic, particularly his work with his (then-girlfriend) Grace Jones. But the one he chose to recreate for Paper Magazine is problematic for several reasons.

The original shot is of a black woman standing in front of a blue wall while she pops champagne into a glass placed on her rear end. And it’s from a book entitled: Jungle Fever.

Let that soak in for a second. Jungle. Fever.

According to a People Magazine article written about the couple in 1979:

Jean-Paul has been fascinated with women like Grace since his youth. The son of a French engineer and an American-born dancer, he grew up in a Paris suburb. From the moment he saw West Side Story and the Alvin Ailey dance troupe, he found himself captivated by “ethnic minorities—black girls, PRs. I had jungle fever.” He now says, “Blacks are the premise of my work.”

This is a man who boldly told news reporters that his black girlfriend was a “schizo… outrageous bitch”and that at times he would get hysterical and explode in violence during their arguments.

You can learn more about the artist here. 

Though he was criticized at the time—and still is—for exoticizing African-American women in his work, a claim that wasn’t helped by his book Jungle Fever, Goude’s images of Grace Jones at least presented her as a strong female. In some ways, they were arguably feminist, with Goude broadening her shoulders and lengthening her neck so she appeared to be towering over the viewer. It’s also hard to imagine Grace Jones, an innovator who did it all—production, recording, singing, acting, modeling—not being in full control of her image. (In the case of “Carolina Beaumont,” the original image is certainly a conversation starter about race and femininity but, judging from that photo, the model looks like she’s having just as much of a good time as Kim K.)

Arguably feminist?  Discuss!

Yes, here we are again in a time still promoting body dysmorphia for women. It just makes me damned mad.  But then, I’ve been spending a lot of time reading why feminism isn’t necessary and what it’s terrible because men are the real victims of sexism like that poor scientist and his Groovy shirt.  I personally feel like I just wrote part deux to my 1975 Feminist Philosophy class midterm essay during my sophomore year of university.  Really! This still? Really?

Will it ever end?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?