I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a woman in a society that only values you under specific circumstances. It’s probably related to the passage of yet another Women’s day on March 8 where I look around and see more lost ground than ground gained. The stereotypes we identified in my women’s studies group in high school are still alive and flung across the internet.
I didn’t watch the Oscars–having no interest in celebs or movies–but I did notice the next few days were filled with the usual snipes and compliments on dresses. Then, there was the hooplah on the plastic surgery of Kim Novak and Goldie Hawn that many deemed’ pathetic and unrecognizable. Novak is 81.
The Internet gasped in horror—or was it amusement? —when the Vertigo star took the stage with Matthew McConaughey to present the award for Best Animated Feature to Disney’s Frozen (an unfortunate coincidence, generating countless rudimentary puns on social media). A sampling of tweets, including several from well-known figures in the entertainment and media industries: Comedian Nick Youssef joked that “Kim Novak was just safely transported back to the Hollywood Wax Museum”; Chelsea Lately writer Fortune Feimster quipped, “I’m assuming Kim Novak was representing the movie ‘Mask’”; Huffington Post editorial director Howard Fineman broadened the mockery: “#AcademyAward for worst plastic surgery: tie between Kim Novak and Goldie Hawn.”
And blowback against the comments was equally fierce. Newly minted MSNBC host Ronan Farrow shot back, “Half the people being cruel about Kim Novak are ten years away from being Kim Novak.” Actress Rose McGowan tweeted a picture of the actress in her heyday as a sex symbol, adding, “Self-obsessed and disrespectful, that sums up the Oscar audience.”
In a way, by tweeting a picture of Novak sprawled out on a bed in a scene from the 1958 film, Bell, Book and Candle, McGowan was unwittingly acknowledging that we should judge actresses by their looks—because beauty is indeed one of the most important attributes for a Hollywood actress, young or old. Had Novak not won the genetic lottery, she could have easily lost her breakout role in Hitchcock’sVertigo to a prettier face (Novak was a good actress, but not a great one). So why are we surprised when, years after being out of the limelight, viewers continue obsessing over the face that once made her famous? And we should be no less surprised that Novak is obsessed with her face.
Goldie’s dress and face didn’t fare much better. I’ve been thinking of both of them in light of Diane Keaton, Helen Mirren, and Dame Diana Rigg who are still trodding the boards and have passed on certain enhancements. Diana Rigg is one among many devious women starring in HBO’s Game of thrones. She’s a fiesty delight and I enjoyed reading this interview with her.
Diana Rigg is trying to cross the Fulham Road in London. Elegant from two-tone shoes to circular, tinted glasses, she is thwarted by the traffic. “Good timing,” she says after I introduce myself. “You can help me get across.” In the 60s, when she played Emma Peel in The Avengers, a catsuit-wearing Rigg would have vaulted across car bonnets, and if any male driver had remonstrated, she would have karate-chopped him in the throat and kicked him in the crown jewels. But not today.
“It’s my damned tin knees,” she says as we link arms and hobble across the street. She had an operation on one of them recently. I had heard that she damaged her knees with those lengthy tap-dancing routines in the 1987 West End production of Sondheim’s Follies? “No, it’s genetic. My brother, who is 80, has the same problem.”
Not that the 75-year-old actor is unhappy with her lot.”The older you get, I have to say, the funnier you find life,” she says. “That’s the only way to go. If you get serious about yourself as you get old, you are pathetic.”
We settle in the garden of a French cafe. A few years ago Rigg would have sought out the garden to indulge her 20-a-day habit, but Dame Diana gave up smoking a couple of years ago, and today wants to catch the early spring rays and feed crumbs to the birds.
“I found myself talking aloud to the pigeons in the park the other day,” she tells me. “The male pigeons were busily pursuing the female pigeons. I said: ‘You silly farts. Can’t you see they’re not interested?’ And then I realised there were people listening to me.” And what applies to birds, she reckons, applies to elderly men and women. “I think women of my age are still attractive.” She removes her glasses and faces me down with brown eyes that have turned strong men – and, indeed, women – to jelly. “Men of my age aren’t.” Why? “They’ve got their cojones halfway to their knees,” she says, giggling. “They have the same descent as tits.”
Aging is not an easy thing in a society that values women for their looks and their fertility. But, you’re either invisible or your fertile and potential property of men and state. Here’s a list of the crap Lousiana legislators are proposing for the women in my state.
HB 388: Requires doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospital before performing abortions.
HB 401: Prohibits advertising of abortion services and distribution of abortofacients.
HB 727: Requires provision of psychological health information prior to abortion.
HB 590: (Constitutional amendment) Prohibits the use of public monies for abortion and provision of public monies to providers of abortion except as may be required by the federal government as a condition of federal financial participation in a public medical assistance program.
HB 348: Prohibits termination of life-sustaining procedures for pregnant women.
HB 305: Prohibits providers of elective abortions and their affiliates from delivering any instruction or materials in schools.
As you kind see, the obsession with lady parts is ongoing. In fact, any kind of focus on the state of women in this country brings to focus exactly how unkind of a country we can be.
According to the African American Policy Forum, black girls are suspended at a higher ratethan all other girls and white and Latino boys. Sixty-seven percent of black girls reported feelings of sadness or hopelessness for more than two weeks straight compared to 31 percent of white girls and 40 percent of Latinas. Single black women have the lowest net wealth of any group, with research showing a median wealth of $100. Single black men by contrast have an average net wealth of $7,900 and single white women have an average net wealth of $41,500. Fifty-five percent of black women (and black men) have never been married, compared to 34 percent for white women.
This situation is dire at every level. But perhaps the most troubling thing of all: The report indicates that while over 100 million philanthropic dollars have been spent in the last decade creating mentoring and educational initiatives for black and brown boys, less than a million dollars has been given to the study of black and brown girls!
Several years ago, in line with the rise of the field of Girls Studies in academe, a group of students asked me to teach a course on Black Girls Studies. The number of books and scholarly articles barely added up to enough for a full course syllabus.
It’s amazing to me how many women are still invisible. And, it’s still amazing that we can’t seem to gain ground on any particular front. Here’s a bit from Robin Morgan that’s worth a read on dissent within the feminist ranks. She has some ground rules.
But I have standards, seasoned over 40 years of activism. I don’t waste time debating patriarchy’s defenders. I don’t practise or tolerate personal trashing. I don’t engage with faux feminists who, whether under the aegis of religious fiat or sexual libertarianism, refuse to understand that all women deserve full reproductive rights, all women deserve to love whomever they choose, all women deserve freedom from violence, poverty and illiteracy, that the buying and selling of any human being is slavery. Feminism is for all women and girls, not a privileged few or one ethnicity, religion, age, sexual preference, ability, region or hemisphere. Women born and raised on this fragile planet have more uniting us than dividing us – and it’s the job of feminists to help us realise that. Those are my standards.
Around 14 million girls, some as young as eight years old, will be married in 2014.
An estimated 1.2m children are trafficked into slavery each year; 80 per cent are girls.
In 10 countries around the world women are legally bound to obey their husbands
Only 76 countries have legislation that specifically addresses domestic violence – and just 57 of them include sexual abuse.
It makes me dizzy thinking that my 40 years as an activist really haven’t led to much change at all. I did find that there are a few places I can take refuge should I decide to move to a matriarchal society.
The Nagovisi community of South Bougainville, New Guinea is matrilineal with matriclans. The women of the Nagovisi hold positions of authority and power, traditionally in regards to the cultivation of their gardens. These gardens are the woman’s sphere, and are inherited by daughters. The community is largely based on crop cultivation. With this control of the food, like sweet potatoes and coconuts, woman may remain independent and men are dependent on the women for that food.
The man eating the woman’s food is a symbol of their marriage, and if he were to stop, it would be a sign of divorce. Men typically move into the woman’s family for marriage, and the women are the breadwinners. Men take care of the clearing of the lands, but typically follow the instructions of the woman.
That sounds interesting!
Well, I suppose taking stock of something where progress depends on the very people that benefit from the status quo is a lot to hope for. Especially, when you look at the CPAC attendance and see how many women are willing to collaborate with the the worst of the worst.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today.
Well, perhaps “dumbassery” is being a little forgiving, since dumbass is not what I would call the two GOP examples below…more like assholes, yeah that is it.
But I don’t think “assholery” would have passed as part of the title so, there it is.
This tweet from CPAC should set the mood…
Aaaaand it goes down from there…one person who should be in attendance at that minority seminar: Conservative leader caught on live mic: ‘The Jews are the problem’ | The Raw Story
Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (retired), the executive vice president of the conservative Family Research Council, was caught on a “hot mic” on Thursday joking that “the Jews are the problem” to an Israeli reporter and pitching his theory about President Barack Obama using “subliminal messages” to signal support for al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, in audio posted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Friday.
“If you understand anything about Islam, there are subliminal messages,” Boykin can be heard saying. “His message, really, I believe was, ‘I understand you, and I support you.’”
Boykin’s remarks were captured after an online broadcast of a panel at the National Security Action Summit. The SPLC reported that the event is held as a counter to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and features speakers who, like Boykin, have not been allowed to participate there.
(Emphasis mine.) Guess even CPAC has some kind of standards.
Though the panel’s video feed shut down, the audio continued broadcasting, enabling Boykin to be heard as he argued that, as a result of the “messages,” al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood saw that “that they have a president that identifies with them, that has been supportive of them inside the United States and is unwilling to go against them.”
According to the SPLC, Boykin was then approached by someone about doing an interview with Henry Schwartz, a reporter for Israel National News, described as a “right-wing” publication.
“The Jews are the problem,” Boykin can be heard saying. “The Jews are the cause of all the problems in the world.” An unidentified person responds, “I know, I know, that’s why we’re trying to fix everything.”
The event’s organizer, Frank Gaffney, has accused CPAC’s organizers, the American Conservative Union, of having ties to the Brotherhood.
I don’t know, this guy Boykin must be best friends with Mel Gibson?
Video at the link.
After something like that, we need to laugh. So take a look at this asshole, who gets the Aasif Mandvi treatment: ‘Fox Business’ Commentator Tells ‘Daily Show’ Correspondent, ‘If You’re Poor, Stop Being Poor’
After watching Aasif Mandvi’s segment on Thursday’s “Daily Show,” two things are clear: 1) America has the greatest healthcare system in the world (if 37th place is considered the greatest), and 2) some people shouldn’t do interviews with “Daily Show” correspondents.
Case in point, “Fox Business” commentator and NYSE Euronext Managing Director Todd Wilemon has a couple of jaw-dropping moments in this interview about “third world” healthcare conditions in Knoxville, Tennessee, not the least of which is his statement right at the end: “If you’re poor, stop being poor.”
Watch the clip above, and keep an eye out for one of the more awkward pauses in “Daily Show” history.
You can also see the video here: Third World Health Care – Knoxville, Tennessee Edition – The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – 03/06/14 – Video Clip | Comedy Central
By the way, pictures for today are from the blog Underground New York Public Library…which is not affiliated by the New York Public Library.
The Underground New York Public Library is a visual library featuring the Reading-Riders of the NYC subways.
The photos come together as a visual library. This library freely lends out a reminder that we’re capable of traveling to great depths within ourselves and as a whole.
The blog work is done by Ourit Ben-Haim who says he:
…make the pictures and the posts. I’m fascinated by how we apply ourselves to stories and discourse. In so doing, we shape who we understand ourselves to be.
What a neat site to lose yourself in…enjoy it.
On Friday, Dak had a fabulous post about New Orleans…well, this next link is about the latest fashion “craze” is a perfect complement. In fact, I am sure those folks singing the traditional ‘shallow water, your mama,’ song were wearing the #normcore look and Dak must see the “mallclothes” “’90s-era dads” “anonymous” style as these young urbanites look for kale in that “Chocolate City.” (Ugh…yeah, I could not help myself. 10 years ago, wow.)
You may have noticed a new hashtag invading the internet this week: #normcore. It has everyone dusting off their stonewashed jeans and athletic socks and hopping on the bandwagon.
But just what is normcore exactly? In short: it’s a trend of young urbanites dressing like bland ’90s-era dads. Articles of clothing involved include athletic shorts, New Balance sneakers and fleece zip-ups. Basically, anything that will allow you to stand out by looking anonymous.
Nothing is more sexy than looking like a 90′s dad.
Why is normcore a thing? It seems to be a way for adherents to counteract stereotypes by dressing mundanely in order to stand out. Theories abound regarding why millennials are attracted to the trend, but the prevailing theory suggests that it’s a way for them to reject the idea of “buying in” to a particular style.
Basically, dressing like your parents did 20 years ago is cooler than shelling out money to assume another identity. Of course, it only works if you’re doing it on purpose.
Seriously, look at the tweets from this fashion twitter The Cut New York Magazine:
Here is the actual article: Normcore: Fashion for Those Who Realize They’re One in 7 Billion – The Cut
K-HOLE describes normcore as a theory rather than a look; but in practice, the contemporary normcore styles I’ve seen have their clear aesthetic precedent in the nineties. The editorials in Hot and Cool look a lot like Corinne Day styling newcomer Kate Moss in Birkenstocks in 1990, or like Art Club 2000′s appropriation of madras from the Gap, like grunge-lite and Calvin Klein minimalism. But while (in their original incarnation) those styles reflected anxiety around “selling out,” today’s version is more ambivalent toward its market reality. Normcore isn’t about rebelling against or giving into the status quo; it’s about letting go of the need to look distinctive, to make time for something new.
The demographic leading the normcore trend is, by and large, Western Millennials and digital natives. Stylist-editors like Hot and Cool’s Alice Goddard and Garmento’s Jeremy Lewis are children of the nineties, teens of the aughts. The aesthetic return to styles they would’ve worn as kids reads like a reset button—going back to a time before adolescence, before we learned to differentiate identity through dress. The Internet and globalization have challenged the myth of individuality (we are all one in 7 billion), while making connecting with others easier than ever. Normcore is a blank slate and open mind—it’s a look designed to play well with others.
And what is more disgusting? Check out the price of these shorts…and t-shirt.
Dolce & Gabbana nods to vintage summer style with these washed-denim shorts, treated for an aged appearance. This pair is constructed in Italy for a laid-back fit and broken-in feel.
The secret to Sunspel‘s superb T-shirts is in the cotton: fine, long-staple yarns are used to create a soft and durable jersey that will hold its shape after repeated wear and washing. This version, striped in blue, grey and white, is a reliable choice that will remain stylish for years to come. Add it to your weekend repertoire as a go-to for relaxed days off.
What was that last sentence from The Cut?
Normcore is a blank slate and open mind…
Blank slate and blank mind. Well, all I got to say to that is, “Shallow water, Yo Mama”.
In addition to that ridiculous fashion trend of Normcore, did you see this sad story from Michigan? Woman’s car payments hid her death for 6 years, body found mummified in backseat of car
For years, the payments went out of the woman’s bank account.
Nobody batted an eyelid. Bills were paid and life went on as normal in the quiet neighborhood of Pontiac, Michigan.
Neighbors didn’t notice anything unusual.
The woman traveled a lot, they said, and kept to herself.
One of them mowed her grass to keep things looking tidy.
At some point, her bank account ran dry.
The bills stopped being paid.
And guess what happened then…
After its warnings went unanswered, the bank holding the mortgage foreclosed on the house, a common occurrence in a region hit hard by economic woes.
Still, nobody noticed what had happened inside the house.
Nobody wondered out loud what had become of the owner.
Not until this week, when a worker sent by the bank to repair a hole in the roof made a grisly discovery.
The woman’s mummified body was sitting in the backseat of her car, parked in the garage.
The key was halfway in the ignition.
Authorities say they believe the woman died at least six years ago.
They’re still trying to figure out what happened.
The woman, who authorities aren’t identifying until they’ve informed her family, paid her bills from her bank account through auto-pay, according to McCabe.
Neighbors said they didn’t know much about the dead woman, describing her as in her 40s and of German descent.
“She really kept to herself. We never really heard anything from her,” neighbor Caitlyn Talbot told CNN affiliate WXYZ.
Talbot said she wasn’t aware of anyone having seen the woman, who traveled a lot, in about six years.
“She was probably there for a couple of days, then she’d leave for a week, then she’d come back. Then she’d leave for a month and come back,” Talbot said.
McCabe says neighbors chalked up the woman’s absences to her returning to Germany for long periods of time.
Authorities told WXYZ that the house appears to have black mold inside it, and that detectives entered the building Thursday wearing hazardous material suits.
The mail never piled up, the cops came by the house once back in 2007 when one neighbor said she was not seen for a little while, but when they checked the front door, no sign of foul play so they left…and they never went back.
It seems completely unimaginable to me, how alone, for no one to miss her?
I am going to move on to something else. Prison. (talk about alone)
What started as repair of a tripping hazard at Alcatraz Island led to research that is revealing an old network of underground tunnels and fortifications.
Early results appear to indicate that a “caponier,” or part of an original fortified wall, still lies buried underground on the notorious island in San Francisco Bay.
More at the link…
And, another article on U.S. prisons seen through the eyes of ‘Birdman of Alcatraz’ | Reuters
The pages are brown, faded and stained, but the handwriting is meticulous and the words detail a 150-year history of the U.S. prison system through the eyes of one of its most famous inmates.
Robert Stroud, known as the Birdman of Alcatraz for his painstaking study of birds while in federal prison, wrote a four-part book about brutality, sex, bribery and what he saw as the monumental failure of prisons to rehabilitate inmates.
Part I “Looking Outward, A Voice from the Grave,” has recently been published in E-book form.
Stroud’s book about prison life, totaling more than 2,000 pages, languished in a basement long after his death in 1963, with publishers concerned about libel balking at a book that named brutal guards and supposedly on-the-take wardens.
“To sadistic-minded persons, helplessness is always an invitation to cruelty,” Stroud wrote.
The stacks of manuscripts stored at Stroud’s former lawyer’s house in Springfield, Missouri, have been converted into the book “Looking Outward: A History of the U.S. Prison System from Colonial Times to the Formation of the Bureau Prisons.”
That should be interesting…
One more story on prison life, but this is from a different vantage point…the camera lens: Family historians can now view Victorian criminal records online – Telegraph
Records of more than 67,000 Victorian criminals, detailing crimes ranging from petty theft and drunkenness to arson and murder, are published online for the first time today.
Family history website Ancestry.co.uk said its collection also tells the stories of local peacemakers of the time, including jury candidates and members of the local militia.
The Dorset, England Prison Admission and Discharge Registers 1782-1901 and Dorset, England, Calendar of Prisoners 1854-1904 also includes mug shots of 19th century convicts.
The records include the criminal’s name, place and date of conviction, sentence, physical description and details of previous crimes.
Criminals listed include Samuel Baker, aged 73, who was sentenced to nine months hard labour after breaking into a house to steal two brushes, some vests, and a pair of stockings in 1893; Charles Wood, an unemployed local drunk who was sentenced to one month in prison for “refusing to quit the beer-house” in 1872, and 18-year-old George Pill, who stole a donkey from a neighbour in 1894, resulting in a punishment of six weeks hard labour.
But crimes during the Victorian Age is not the only historical thing I’ve got for you this morning, oh yes, I am getting medieval on your asses today: How to defraud your lord on the medieval manor
In the 1260s, Robert Carpenter, a freehold farmer and former bailiff living on the Isle of Wight, wrote up a formulary – a collection of form letters and legal texts that would be useful for local administration. In the middle of these texts, however, he added detailed instructions on six ways you could commit fraud.
This work has been translated and analyzed by Martha Carlin in her article ‘Cheating the Boss: Robert Carpenter’s Embezzlement Instructions (1261×1268) and Employee Fraud in Medieval England’. Carpenter does not provide any introduction to these texts, nor does he give a hint on why he decided to include it in this work. Some scholars suggest he was bragging about his past exploits, others that he wrote it to warn his readers of ways they could be defrauded. Carlin adds another possibility – that it was “simply as a form of wry recollection or humour with which to entertain himself and his intimates.”
Give those “hints” a read through…I love it!
Here is something that should be criminal: Group warns almost 500 products contain chemical found in yoga mats – CBS News
Subway made news earlier in February when the sandwich chain announced it was removing a chemical called azodicarbonamide (ADA), which is used to make yoga mats, from North American formulations of bread. But now, a consumer advocacy group is warning people that almost 500 more food items on the market have this same compound.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a list Thursday of all the foods that have listed ADA as an ingredient. Large companies like Ball Park, Country Hearth, Jimmy Dean, Kroger, Little Debbie, Marie Callendar’s, Pillsbury, White Castle and Wonder are just a fraction of the 130 brands that used the chemical in their products. Most of the items are bread, croutons, pre-made sandwiches and snacks.
Nothing is more appetizing than yoga mats.
ADA is used to bleach flour and help make dough stronger and more rubbery. The Food and Drug Administration currently approved the use of the chemical as long as it is used in quantities less than 0.0045 percent of the weight of the flour used.
But, the World Health Organization raised concerns about the compound. Case reports have shown that some workers who come in contact with the product on a regular basis have developed asthma, respiratory symptoms and skin problems. Very few studies have been done on ADA, but animal research has shown that if the compound is inhaled or consumed it tends to not be absorbed and is easily eliminated with the body’s waste.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest pointed out that ADA forms semicarbazide and urethane when baked, and both have been linked to cancers in mice. They have called for the FDA to ban the chemical since many other breads do not use the compound.
More info at the link…along with a link to the list of products that use ADA.
Last link for you is from Wisconsin Public Radio and includes a story on Weaving, in Afghanistan:
Not every story about Afghanistan involves guns and soldiers. We see the country through art, poetry and games – from the ancient sport of Buzkashi to Afghanistan’s famous hand-woven carpets. Also, Charles Yu on living safely in a science fictional universe.
The film “Buzkashi Boys” is a coming of age story set in Afghanistan’s national sport, Buzkashi. It’s a game of horse polo played with a dead goat instead of a ball. Plus, a coda from novelist Khaled Hosseini.
Anna Badkhen spent a year in the remote Afghan village of Oqa. She got to know the master weavers, who make some of the world’s most beautiful carpets.
Eliza Griswold went to the Pashtun region of Afghanistan to gather landay poems – a tradition of secret poems spoken by Pashtun women.
Afghan-born writer Khaled Hosseini, author of “The Kite Runner,” reads from his latest novel, “And the Mountains Echoed.”
Hanan Al-Shaykh bookmarks “Season of Migration to the North” by Tayeb Salih.
Charles Yu on quantum parenting, time travel and other science fictional paradoxes. Yu is the author of the acclaimed novel “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.”
So, I hope you enjoyed those links. Sorry that there are no “newsy” news updates for you today. Please use the comment section below to add anything you find newsworthy…Have a wonderful day.
Last night Malaysia Airlines announced it had lost contact with a plane headed for Beijing.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia Airlines said Saturday it lost contact with a plane carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Flight MH370 lost contact with the Subang air traffic control at 2:40 a.m. Saturday (18:40 GMT Friday). The flight was operated on the Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
It appears the plane “vanished” somewhere over Vietnam, and crews are now searching for it while families and friends of those on board wait for more information. From the LA Times: Crews searching for Malaysian plane spot oil slicks off Vietnam
BEIJING – As passengers’ relatives waited for news on the Malaysian Airlines jet that went missing Saturday en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, reports emerged that military aircraft had spotted two oil slicks off southern Vietnam.
The Associated Press reported that a Vietnamese government statement said the slicks were each between 6 miles and 9 miles long. The statement said the slicks were consistent with the kinds that would be left by fuel from a crashed jetliner.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 disappeared from radar screens with 239 people on board.
A delegation of Chinese painters and calligraphers, an American employee of IBM and two vacationing couples from Australia were among those believed to be passengers.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 lost contact with air traffic controllers around 2:40 a.m. local time, two hours after takeoff. More than 14 hours later, airline officials said they had been unable “to establish any contact or determine the whereabouts” of the aircraft, a Boeing 777-200.
The airline’s CEO, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur that there was no distress call or bad weather report from the pilots before the plane lost contact with air control 120 nautical miles (140 miles) off the east coast of Kota Bharu, Malaysia.
NBC News has live updates: Desperate Wait for Families After Malaysia Airlines Jet Vanishes
And then there’s this from the LA Times: Terrorism not ruled out in disappearance of Malaysia Airlines jet.
BEIJING — Malaysian officials investigating the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines plane Saturday said they were not ruling out terrorism — or any other causes — as reports emerged that two Europeans listed on the passenger manifest were not aboard and may have had their passports stolen….
Malaysia’s director general of civil aviation told a news conference Saturday night that authorities had reviewed closed-circuit TV footage of passengers and their luggage and hadn’t seen anything of concern. But Prime Minister Najib Razak cautioned that it was “too early” to come to any conclusions, and other officials said nothing was being ruled out of consideration at this point.
The crisis in Ukraine continues to escalate, it’s not clear what the U.S. can do about it, and the EU is apparently unwilling to take any action, so whatever the West does will be up to NATO–meaning the U.S. What a mess.
The crisis in Ukraine continues to escalate, it’s not clear what the U.S. can do about it, and the EU is apparently unwilling to take any action, so whatever the West does will be up to NATO–meaning the U.S. What a mess.
I hope at least some reasonable people who are able to apply logic to events are beginning to wake up to the fact that Russian intelligence probably has the NSA data that Edward Snowden stole, and Putin could very well be making his decisions based on the knowledge gained from their pale and nerdy guest. Logically, I think it makes a lot of sense to question whether Snowden was either working with Russia all along or was duped by Julian Assange of Wikileaks into the role of useful idiot. Keep in mind that there is a long history of Russia/the Soviet Union successfully inserting moles into U.S. intelligence agencies.
The following disturbing story was posted at CNN yesterday evening. Military spy chief: Have to assume Russia knows U.S. secrets.
Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, made that clear when he told National Public Radio in an interview broadcast Friday how U.S. officials must plan for the possibility that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has access to American battle plans and other secrets possibly taken by classified leaker Edward Snowden.
“If I’m concerned about anything, I’m concerned about defense capabilities that he may have stolen from where he worked, and does that knowledge then get into the hands of our adversaries — in this case, of course, Russia,” Flynn said of the former National Security Agency contractor who fled to Moscow to seek asylum….
Flynn said he worried about what else Snowden knows, and how Russia — where Snowden lives now — may have access to the documents. He cited intelligence capabilities, operational capabilities, technology and weapons systems as potential subjects of so far unpublicized information Snowden — and Russia — may have.
Take that seriously, with a grain of salt, or a large box of salt, whichever you choose. I take it seriously. Based on what little has been revealed so far and the fact that most of it has focused on U.S. and U.K. cooperation with spy agencies in other countries, I no longer believe that Snowden ever intended to reveal domestic spying on Americans. His goal–and apparently Glenn Greenwald’s and Laura Poitras’ goals as well–was to damage U.S. foreign policy and national security as much possible.
Did you happen to see the latest post at Greenwald’s new site “The Intercept?” It’s a supposedly “humorous” piece by “investigative reporter” Peter Maass about an “advice columnist” who appears in an NSA publication. WTF?! This is supposed to be serious reporting from a publication that now owns the only complete sets of Snowden’s stolen NSA files? The purpose of the article can only be to make fun of NSA and any notion that it is engaged in serious work that makes a difference to U.S. national security.
That’s my rant for today, but I just want to add one more bit of newly-discovered information on Russian spying on the U.S. from John E. Dunn at TechWorld: Invisible Russian cyberweapon stalked US and Ukraine since 2005, new research reveals.
The mysterious ‘Uroburos’ cyberweapon named last week in Germany has been stalking its victims since as far back as 2005 and large enterprises and governments need to pay urgent attention to the threat it poses, UK security firm BAE Systems has urged.
German firm G Data’s recent analysis dubbed it ‘Uroburos’ while it is also known to some security firms as ‘Turla’. BAE Systems’ Applied Intelligence division, which today published its own research, prefers the catchier ‘Snake’ but under any name the picture is alarming.
According to BAE Systems, It now transpires that Snake has been slithering silently around networks in the US and its NATO allies and former Soviet states for almost a decade, stealing data, getting ever more complex and modular and remaining almost invisible.
To be clear, this isn’t any old malware. Snake is just too long-lived, too targeted, too sophisticated, too evasive, too innovative. It appears to be on par with any of the complex cyberweapons attributed to the US such as Flame, first analysed by Kaspersky Lab in 2012.
Based on the fact that the “Snake’s” target are all either Western countries or or former Russian controlled countries, the perpetrator of this malware is almost unquestionably Russia.
After several months of research, the UK firm takes what we know a lot further, offering for the first time some objective data on targets. Culling data from malware research sites (i.e. those to which suspected malware samples are submitted for inspection), it has been spotted 32 times in the Ukraine since 2010, 11 times in Lithuania, 4 times in the UK, and a handful of times altogether from the US, Belgium, Georgia, Romania, Hungary and Italy.
These are very small numbers but BAE Systems believes that on past experience they are highly indicative. While they represent a tiny fraction of the number of infections that will have occurred in these countries and beyond, they can be used to reliably infer that Snake has been aimed at Western and Western-aligned countries pretty much exclusively.
See also this earlier article by Dun, Is this Russia’s Stuxnet? Security firm spots suspicious ‘Uroburos’ rootkit.
Getting back to the crisis in Ukraine, here’s the latest news I could find:
Simferopol, Ukraine (CNN) – Ukrainian officials accused pro-Russian forces in its Crimea region of fresh bullying tactics Saturday, as about 100 armed men reportedly took control of a military office in the regional capital, Simferopol.
The men — who are equipped with automatic weapons — say they belong to the Crimean self-defense forces, said Vladislav Seleznyov, head of the Ministry of Defense’s media office, on his Facebook page.
They have stationed armed men on each floor of the military registration office, he said….
Amid signs that the tense standoff of the past week is growing more volatile, Russian troops also stormed a Crimean border control point early Saturday, seizing the armory and driving the officers’ families from their living quarters, Ukraine’s border service said.
The troops beat up the senior officer on duty at the Schelkino border control point, near the city of Kerch, when he tried to stop them, the State Border Guard Service said on its website. Russian forces are now in control of the premises, it said.
How is the Ukraine situation affecting the Syrian conflict? From the WaPo: Assad taking advantage of U.S.-Russia split over Ukraine, observers say.
BEIRUT — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is taking advantage of the rift between Russia and the United States over Ukraine to press ahead with plans to crush the rebellion against his rule and secure his reelection for another seven-year term, unencumbered by pressure to compromise with his opponents.
The collapse last month of peace talks in Geneva, jointly sponsored by Russia and the United States, had already eroded the slim prospects that a negotiated settlement to the Syrian war might be possible. With backers of the peace process now at odds over the outcome of the popular uprising in Ukraine, Assad feels newly confident that his efforts to restore his government’s authority won’t be met soon with any significant challenge from the international community, according to analysts and people familiar with the thinking of the regime.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s defiant response to the toppling of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has further reinforced Assad’s conviction that he can continue to count on Russia’s unwavering support against the armed rebellion challenging his rule, said Salem Zahran, a Damascus-based journalist and analyst with close ties to the Syrian regime.
“The regime believes the Russians now have a new and stronger reason to keep Assad in power and support him, especially after the experience of Libya, and now Ukraine,” he said. “In addition, the regime believes that any conflict in the world which distracts the attention of the Americans is a factor which eases pressure on Syria.”
This is not good, folks.
I have few more interesting links, but I want to get this post up, so I’ll put them in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?
And pardon me for a provincial rant here this morning!
This year will be my 20th anniversary of living in New Orleans. Yes, I was here before, during, and after Katrina. Yes, I have lived in the French Quarter and now I’ve been in the Bywater for nearly 15 of those 20 years. When I moved here, most of the folks were very old people, people living in section 8 housing, a gay contingent working in the quarter, and a very odd sundry of people trying to get out of the Quarter that had been a counterculture enclave but was rapidly turning into weekend condos for people from Texas and Georgia.
I had a few friends that owned bars and galleries here. Then, a few friend that opened up some restaurants. Then, Katrina happened. Then, we extended tax credits to movies studios and got Treme and a few interesting movies and now, well now it’s really, really attracting a group of people who have “discovered’ our wasteland and decided it’s ripe for their sort’ve civilization. We’re all so quaint here. No taxis would come here before they moved here. And, there is no kale to be found any where. But, it so authentically authentic. Isn’t it wonderful they discovered a new Brooklyn?
For some reason, I didn’t feel the need to civilize the city when I moved here. I just sort’ve dove in and let it wash all over me.
I will admit that some things are not as they should be here in the Not Always so Big Easy. There’s the NOPD. There’s still a contingent of politicians down here that are way too generous to their friends and to their own bank accounts. There’s plenty of institutional racism, sexism, and provincialism to go around. But I see this every where and at least New Orleans fills its cracks with good food, good music, and a lot of friendly people. Believe me, that makes up for a lot. However, for some reason, we’re attracting a lot of folks who want to turn us into Brooklyn or what Brooklyn has become. For this, I will reference Spike Lee who shouts “We’ve Been Here”. Discovering new lands that already exist and contain culture and people is not just a Christopher Columbus kind’ve thing.
Then comes the motherfuckin’ Christopher Columbus Syndrome. You can’t discover this! We been here. You just can’t come and bogart. There were brothers playing motherfuckin’ African drums in Mount Morris Park for 40 years and now they can’t do it anymore because the new inhabitants said the drums are loud. My father’s a great jazz musician. He bought a house in nineteen-motherfuckin’-sixty-eight, and the motherfuckin’ people moved in last year and called the cops on my father. He’s not — he doesn’t even play electric bass! It’s acoustic! We bought the motherfuckin’ house in nineteen-sixty-motherfuckin’-eight and now you call the cops? In 2013? Get the fuck outta here!
Nah. You can’t do that. You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherfuckin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code. There’s people.
You can’t just — here’s another thing: When Michael Jackson died they wanted to have a party for him in motherfuckin’ Fort Greene Park and all of a sudden the white people in Fort Greene said, “Wait a minute! We can’t have black people having a party for Michael Jackson to celebrate his life. Who’s coming to the neighborhood? They’re gonna leave lots of garbage.” Garbage? Have you seen Fort Greene Park in the morning? It’s like the motherfuckin’ Westminster Dog Show. There’s 20,000 dogs running around. Whoa. So we had to move it to Prospect Park!
I mean, they just move in the neighborhood. You just can’t come in the neighborhood. I’m for democracy and letting everybody live but you gotta have some respect. You can’t just come in when people have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now shit gotta change because you’re here? Get the fuck outta here. Can’t do that!
Yeah, you right.
You may have been reading my previous columns about how people that have just moved here have suddenly become the authentic carriers of New Orleans Culture and all things civilized. I have written about it before. The NYT just will not leave my neighborhood alone. Now, I have neighbors moving in from New Jersey, Philadelphia, New York, and all over. They just have decided that we’re passable if they can just civilize us a little bit more. We’re quaint and they can make us tolerable. Part of this post is about the hubris that comes from journalists. Part of this post is about the hubris that comes from being young. A lot of this post is about the hubris that comes from deciding that you’re just going to come into some one’s neighborhood, label them quaint, and then proceed to become the authority on what it is and isn’t.
“New Orleans is not cosmopolitan,” said the actress Tara Elders. “There’s no kale here.” Her husband, Michiel Huisman, the actor and musician who moved here with Ms. Elders in 2009 to shoot the HBO series “Treme” (he’s currently on the series “Nashville”), agreed. “The sign on a shop says that they’ll open at 10? You’re there at noon and it’s not open,” he said.
We were sitting outside at Sylvain, a restaurant in the French Quarter that Mr. Huisman said “takes Southern cuisine and pushes it a bit more modern.” With its elegant but rustic décor, cocktails featuring noirish names (Blood in the Gulfstream, Dead Man’s Wallet), and inventive food, Sylvain wouldn’t be out of place in Brooklyn — but Ms. Elders said spots like this are still the exception. “So many of the cool places here are really rundown,” she said. “And not because a stylist designed them that way.”
Just for your information, we have plenty of kale here. I went to Rouse’s Market yesterday and you can barely spot the mustard greens through the various assortment of kale. In fact, we’ve decided that #kalespotting is the new event for the post Mardi Gras let down just so they NYT knows we’ve got it. I have it on good authority that the Walmart in Chalmette even has it now.
In a long-ago episode of “The Simpsons,” a tourist to Springfield enters Moe’s bar and declares, “This isn’t a faux dive! This is a dive!” That was satire. But Goodman quotes Elders saying essentially the same thing and with apparent sincerity. “So many of the cool places here are really rundown. And not because a stylist designed them that way.”
Goodman’s story also includes a new transplant’s translation of a Mardi Gras Indian chant: “Shallow water, your mama.”
“Music really flows through the veins of the town, like where we are going tonight,” Mr. Huisman said, referring to the United Mardi Gras Indian Practice. “It’s so true to itself and so African. That really resonates with me: Nothing moves me as much as that beat, that rhythm that is truly New Orleans.”
We all piled into the family Jeep and drove out to Handa Wanda’s, an open warehouse space with a band set up in the back, a bar in the middle, and red beans and rice on hot plates up front. This spot is home base for the Wild Magnolias, one of dozens of tribes. Come Mardi Gras day, the tribe leader, or Big Chief, will lead a procession in full costume, challenging other tribes to mock battles. But tonight is an open practice and all are welcome.
Perched upstairs in the rickety balcony, we drank whiskey and Cokes out of Dixie cups while revelers of all ages shook it to a rollicking beat punctuated by chanting from the Big Chief. Instinctively, all of us leaned over the balcony and started bobbing our heads. Mr. Huisman saw me trying to sing along to words I couldn’t decipher. He smiled and said into my ear, “They’re saying, ‘shallow water, your mama,’ ” a traditional Indian call-and-response.
We are now fighting for t-shirts that say “Shallow water, Yo Mama”. Yes, the new dats are singing their own special lyrics in the shower cause you know how authentic and how, well so true and so African it all is.”
— Paradise City by Guns N’ Roses
“Take me down to a very nice city” Actual lyric: “Take me down to the Paradise City.”
— Rock the Casbah by The Clash
“The sheep don’t like it, rockin’ the cat box” Actual lyric: “Shareef don’t like it, rock the Casbah”
— Africa by Toto
“I left my brains down in Africa” Actual lyric: “I bless the rains down in Africa”
— Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“There’s a bathroom on the right” Actual lyric: “There’s a bad moon on the rise.”
— You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate
“I Remove Umbilicals” Actual lyric: “I believe in miracles”
— Suffragette City by David Bowie
“This mellow fat chick just put my spine out of place” Actual lyric: “This mellow thighed chick just put my spine out of place”
— Waterfalls by TLC
“Don’t go, Jason Waterfalls” Actual lyric: “Don’t go chasing waterfalls”
So, a group of the local New Orleans Twitterati and facebookers spent the day coming up with just the precisely right phrase to dub our invaders. Oh, excuse me, those that are here to authenticate and purify and discover our lowly asses along with their search for Kale. We’ve adopted the term Fauxhemians.
New Orleans does have a long outsider tradition. After all, the Barataria pirates and Jean Lafitte wandered the swamps here quite awhile ago before being pardoned for their outstanding fighting during the War of 1812. We’ve had our share of people chasing the local muses. You probably know that our long literary tradition includes Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner. The filming of the movie “Easy Rider” sent in an entire new group that took up residence in the quarter. However, Bourbon Street has always been a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
Educated young people were aware of their privilege, and a certain segment grew bored and anguished with it. As Adam Nathaniel Mayer writes, they “suffered a kind of postmodern malaise which in turn spurred a quest for meaning.”  Previous generations had common causes like escaping poverty or fighting wars to satisfy the top tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; this generation did not. So they sought meaning through individualized quests for authentic experiences.
Because authenticity seemed to call for a certain demeanor, its seekers brooded, acted aloof and squinted when they dragged on their cigarettes. Because it needed a certain look, they grew or chopped their hair defiantly, got tattoos, and donned ragged or vintage clothing. Music, food, cinema, literature, cars, religion: just about every aspect of culture had a “groovy” (1960s), “alternative” (1980s) or “critical” (2000s) counterpart which pitted itself against the mainstream and viewed itself as authentic. And because authenticity also had a geography, its seekers packed their knapsacks and hit the road — out of suburbia and into the wilderness, to distant countries, communes, college towns and mountain villages, and to the decaying inner cities abandoned by their elders. In the past few decades, educated, mostly white youths from prosperous backgrounds have transformed urban spaces in cities like Brooklyn and Oakland and Baltimore and Boston and London from shabbiness and indigence to restoration and gentrification.
New Orleans fit the bill perfectly. It had history, culture, and the poignancy of tragedy and past grandeur. It had a European look, a Caribbean feel, an expatriated vibe, an abundance of historic housing at low rent, a pervasive booziness, and music, food and festivity to boot. It was authentic!
Gentrifiers seem to stew in irreconcilable philosophical disequilibrium. Fortunately, they’ve created plenty of nice spaces to stew in. Bywater in the past few years has seen the opening of nearly ten retro-chic foodie/locavore-type restaurants, two new art-loft colonies, guerrilla galleries and performance spaces on grungy St. Claude Avenue, a “healing center” affiliated with Kabacoff and his Maine-born voodoo-priestess partner, yoga studios, a vinyl records store, and a smattering of coffee shops where one can overhear conversations about bioswales, tactical urbanism, the klezmer music scene, and every conceivable permutation of “sustainability” and “resilience.”
It’s increasingly like living in a city of graduate students. Nothing wrong with that—except, what happens when they, well, graduate? Will a subsequent wave take their place? Or will the neighborhood be too pricey by then?
But, at least we’re some what separate from the state. The right wing side of the media has decided one of the movies filmed down here and about down here is far too mean to the institution of slavery. I guess every one has their notion of what we’re supposed to be about down here.
Some conservatives have started laying into the Oscar-winning movie 12 Years a Slave for creating an unfairly negative portrayal of slavery. You see, the movie portrays slaves being made unhappy by slavery. But that negativity is merely anti-slavery “propaganda,” according to James Bowman in conservative magazine The American Spectator:
If ever in slavery’s 250-year history in North America there were a kind master or a contented slave, as in the nature of things there must have been, here and there, we may be sure that Mr McQueen does not want us to hear about it. This, in turn, surely means that his view of the history of the American South is as partial and one-sided as that of the hated Gone With the Wind.
…Yes, there was much cruelty and hardship in the slave-owning South, as there has been in most of the rest of the world most of the time, and Mr. McQueen’s camera is all over that. But it strains ordinary credulity to suppose that there was nothing else.
We are wondering, was Bowman equally aggrieved by the lack of happy Jews in Schindler’s List?
To be fair to the American Spectator‘s readers, the comment thread under the article is mainly filled with people asking WTF the article is all about. The top comment reads, “‘a contented slave’ – is this article a joke of some sort?”
This state has been cursed with some of the worst leadership that could walk the planet. The head of the current plantation system is a cruel master.
“We’ve got Eric Holder and the Department of Justice trying to stand in the schoolhouse door to prevent minority kids, low-income kids, kids who haven’t had access to a great education, the chance to go to better schools,” Jindal said.
As the Washington Post points out, Jindal’s rhetoric is an apparent allusion to former Alabama Gov. George Wallace’s 1963 “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” demonstration, during which the anti-integration governor stood in a doorway at the University of Alabama as two black students attempted to enter the institution.
Jindal also gave a shout out to some of his home state’s biggest celebrities — the stars of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty.”
“We must not let [the left] silence the Robertsons,” Jindal said of the reality show family, referencing national outrage over patriarch Phil Robertson’s homophobic remarks last year.
The report also says that:
- 41 percent of voucher students scored at grade level or above on key tests.
- Voucher students account for more than half the enrollment at 18 schools in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas of the 118 reviewed statewide.
- The state was overcharged for tuition by 35 of the schools, including a top overbilling of $5,566 per student.
The school was not identified.
Those who get the state aid — backers call it scholarships — are not supposed to be charged more than others.
Vouchers are state aid for students who attend public schools rated C, D and F, and who meet income rules, to attend private schools with the tuition and some fees paid by the state.
Whether they provide students viable options to low-performing public schools is one of the most hotly-debated issues in Louisiana education circles.
Jindal is making a run at president and wants to replace Chris Christie as the Governor that can be taken seriously. But, any on that watches him from down here knows he only does what best for Jindal. It is only about him and his ambitions.
As governor, Jindal had an opportunity to put his big ideas into action. But his bold prescriptions look a lot like the same ideas Republicans have been pushing for decades—perhaps not surprising for a man who started out in an industry built around telling corporate leaders what they already know.
The centerpiece of his agenda was education. When he took office, Louisiana had some of the nation’s highest dropout rates and lowest literacy scores, and Katrina had battered New Orleans’ school system. Like another Southern governor, Jeb Bush, he built a reputation as an education reformer from the GOP mainstream—charter schools, teacher merit pay, and a voucher program to pay private-school tuition. But Jindal’s agenda also had a strong Christian flavor. In 2008, he signed the Louisiana Science Education Act, which allows public schools to teach creationism. Jindal framed it as a matter of giving local districts more control, but the effect was obvious: Thousands of high school students, especially in the state’s Baptist and evangelical north, were instructed that (for instance) the Loch Ness monster proves humans and dinosaurs coexisted.
Some think Jindal was simply playing politics, rewarding a religious demographic that was instrumental to his rise. “He’s smart—he was nearly gonna go to Harvard Medical School. I can’t believe that he believes in creationism,” says 20-year-old Zack Kopplin, who, as a high school student, persuaded 75 Nobel laureates to sign a letter opposing the legislation. But Jindal’s own statements suggest otherwise: As far back as 1995, fresh off his final semester at Oxford, Jindal wrote that there was “much controversy over the fossil evidence for evolution.”
Jindal’s voucher program has so far funneled at least $4 million to religious institutions, many with strict discriminatory policies. In the state’s northeastern corner, Claiborne Christian Academy students believed to be pregnant can be suspended and expelled upon confirmation. (An abortion warrants expulsion, too.)
Other voucher-funded schools in the region subject gay students to the equivalent of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. At Northlake Christian School in Covington, students can be refused admission if they or their family promote the “homosexual lifestyle.” Northeast Baptist School in West Monroe states that “students that profess a sexual orientation contrary to God’s Word will not be accepted and may be un-enrolled…upon discovery.”
“I guess they would confess it, and they would talk about it to the kids, and I would ask about it,” says Anita Watson, Northeast Baptist’s principal, when I call to ask how the school would find out about gay students. “To be honest, it hasn’t ever really come up because the teenagers that, I don’t know, that are leaning in that direction, they would probably choose not to come here.”
While aspects of Jindal’s education policies evoked Bush-era compassionate conservatism, in most areas he has embraced brute austerity. In the name of cutting waste—overspending has historically been a vehicle for corruption in Louisiana—Jindal has sought to slash the services on which residents of the nation’s third-poorest state have depended. He moved to cut the retirement benefits of some state employees by as much as 50 percent, while blocking even incremental increases in levies like the cigarette tax. State funding for higher education has been cut by 80 percent, with Jindal turning down federal stimulus funds that could have filled some of that gap. And last spring he vetoed $4 million to help relieve a 10-year waiting list for developmentally disabled Louisianans seeking in-home care.His constant travel has eroded his stature at home. One state appointee who supports Jindal calls him an “absentee landlord.”
Jindal touts his record as the first Louisiana governor in recent history not to raise net taxes. Instead, his approach has been to shift more of the tax burden onto the state’s poorest residents, while giving high-earners a break: In 2013, he proposed increasing sales taxes so the state couldeliminate all income and corporate taxes. (The plan died amid bipartisan rebellion.) And like 24 other Republican governorsacross the country, he turned down funding to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, denying coverage to 214,000 low-income Louisianans.
Jindal’s zeal to keep spending low and protect his reputation as a budget hawk has undercut other initiatives. He brought on environmentalists to help write his 2012 plan to shore up the coastline, but has so far fruitlessly insisted Washington, not Baton Rouge, foot the bill. When the state’s independent flood control board sought funding for the plan by suing 100 oil and gas companies for elevating flood risks through the construction of pipelines and canals, Jindal—who has received more than $1 million in contributions from the industry—asked the courts to throw the case out, and when that failed, replaced three of the board’s members. And even though Jindal had called outdated ethics rules the No. 1 obstacle to economic investment, and had pushed through an overhaul, his budget dramatically slashed the number of employees keeping watch; an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity gave Jindal’s administration a D+ for enforcement of corruption laws.
So, here I sit in a really changed post-Katrina world coming on 10 years after the flood. Who could predict that my neighborhood would be discovered by people seeking a new culture path to Brooklyn? Or that, my governor, a Rhodes Scholar who was a pre-med student at an ivy league college would put in a law that puts creation mythology on the same footing as science? It’s a strange reality and one that makes you wonder if any really cares about authenticity these days or even knows what it is.
So, there’s a lot of links to be shared down thread because I didn’t do it here. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
We’re close to two years away from the 2016 presidential primaries, but already the media is putting everything Hillary Clinton said or does under a microscope. I don’t know how I’m going to get through this. For some reason, I just can’t help being protective of Hillary even if I don’t agree with everything she says. The latest flap is over remarks she made about Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine at a private fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Long Beach, CA .
It began on Tuesday night when Buzzfeed’s Ruby Cramer reported what she learned from two people who attended the event: Hillary Clinton Compares Russia Moves To Nazi Aggression.
“Mrs. Clinton talked at length on the situation in the Ukraine,” said one attendee, Harry Saltzgaver, the executive editor of a group of newspapers in Long Beach.
Both Saltzgaver and a second fundraiser attendee, who requested to speak without attribution, described Clinton’s parallel between the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Adolf Hitler, who resettled tens of thousands of ethnic Germans in Eastern and Central Europe to Nazi Germany before the war.
“She compared issuing Russian passports to Ukrainians with ties to Russia with early actions by Nazi Germany before Hitler began invading neighboring countries,” Saltzgaver said. “She said, however, that while that makes people nervous, there is no indication that Putin is as irrational as the instigator of World War II.”
A reporter also provided Cramer with direct quotes:
According to the Long Beach Press Telegram, whose reporter attended the event, Clinton told attendees, “Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the 30s,” she said. “All the Germans that were … the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they’re not being treated right. I must go and protect my people and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.”
Oh no! Clinton breaks Godwin’s law! Suddenly there was a stampede to be the first to criticize her for invoking Hitler. I mean, how dare she? She’s only the former Secretary of State and a possible candidate for president in 2016.
Philip Rucker at the WaPo: Hillary Clinton’s Putin-Hitler comments draw rebukes as she wades into Ukraine conflict.
Hillary Rodham Clinton has sparked a political uproar this week by wading into the middle of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, likening the moves of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the actions of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler leading up to World War II.
The former secretary of state’s provocative comparison drew swift rebukes Wednesday from U.S.-Russia policy experts — including some who served under her husband, former president Bill Clinton — while attracting rare notes of support from hawkish Republicans in Congress.
The comments put Clinton, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, at odds with President Obama and her former administration colleagues, who have been measured in their statements on Ukraine in hopes of avoiding an escalation of Putin’s incursion into Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Rucker quoted one “expert” who claimed Hillary was trying to take a “hard line” on Putin now because she had been “the face of the Obama administration’s “effort to “reset” its policy with Russia.”
Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, a nonpartisan global risk consulting firm, said Clinton’s Hitler comment signaled she was trying to “stage manage” the Russia issue.
“Hillary’s too smart to actually believe that Putin’s actions are remotely close to anything that Hitler did,” Bremmer said. “The only reason she would say that is that she believes she was vulnerable in having been the architect of the failed ‘reset’ and wants to show that she’s harder-line than anybody else.”
But former Russian Ambassador Michael McFaul disagreed.
He said Clinton was “much more skeptical” of Putin than other administration colleagues, that she was the first U.S. official to condemn Putin’s disputed 2011 election, and that she made a point of meeting with civil-society critics during official visits to Russia.
Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczinski followed up on his colleague’s reporting with a clarification from Hillary in a report on her appearance at at UCLA yesterday.
“The claims by President Putin and other Russians that they had to go into Crimea and maybe further into Eastern Ukraine because they had protect the Russia minorities,” Clinton said Wednesday, “that is reminiscent of claims that were made back in the 1930s when Germany under the Nazis kept talking about how they had to protect German minorities in Poland, in Czechoslovakia, and elsewhere throughout Europe. So I just want everybody to have a little historic perspective. I’m not making a comparison certainly, but I am recommending that we perhaps can learn from this tactic that has been used before.”
Clinton also assessed Putin’s personality, based on her personal experience:
“As for President Putin, I know we are dealing with a tough guy with a thin skin,” Clinton said. “I’ve had a lot of experience — well, not only with him but with people like that — but in particular with President Putin. I know that his political vision is of a greater Russia.”
“I support the administration’s call for Russia to respect its obligation and to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Clinton added.
Still, at CNN last night Timothy Stanley chided Hillary for “raising the specter of another world war.” Sorry, but isn’t Putin the one doing that? A couple more reactions:
Hillary Rodham Clinton defended her record as secretary of State against Republican criticism that she had been too accommodating to Russia, arguing Wednesday that she had taken a tough but pragmatic approach so the U.S. could attain its goals.
In remarks at UCLA’s Royce Hall, Clinton assertively brushed aside opponents’ suggestions that she and the Obama administration effectively invited Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s recent incursion into Ukraine by failing to blunt his aggression.
Clinton said that when she became secretary of State in 2009, “we had some business we wanted to get done with Russia.” Among the U.S. goals at the time: an arms control agreement, the creation of a pathway through Russia to provide support for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and an effort to get Russia into the World Trade Organization.
“There is a debate in foreign policy, and you hear these voices on TV right now: ‘These are bad folks; they’re doing bad things; do nothing with them,’” Clinton said, adding that her approach was to “be smart about it; pick and choose; stand your ground on disagreements, but look for ways to get things done.”
Pointing to the administration’s accomplishments, Clinton said that the U.S. “even got [Russia] to support sanctions against Iran in the [U.N.] Security Council — something people predicted we couldn’t get done.”
NYT The Caucus Blog: Clinton Ratchets Up Criticism of Putin and Backs Obama.
Hillary Rodham Clinton continued her sharp condemnation of Russian President Vladamir V. Putin here on Wednesday, calling him “a tough guy with a thin skin” and saying she supports the Obama administration’s call for Russia to resist further intervention in neighboring Ukraine.
“His political vision is of a greater Russia. I said when I was still secretary that his goal is to re-Sovietize Russia’s periphery,” Mrs. Clinton said at the top of remarks she delivered at the University of California. In the process, she said, Mr. Putin is “squandering the potential of such a great nation. The nation of Russia.”
I think Hillary handled herself pretty well, and I agree with her tough approach to Putin. Let’s not forget that Putin has Edward Snowden and all his stolen secrets. As former NASA analyst John Schindler tweeted yesterday,
“As crisis mounts and war looms, I hope US and NATO have excellent intelligence on Russia. Too bad #Snowden compromised all that SIGINT…”
Just one last article on the crisis in Ukraine, this time from the Russian standpoint and it shows the need for Western leaders to take clear stands. From the Moscow Times: Why There Will Be War in Ukraine. Author Sergei Markov of The Institute of Political Studies argues that the current leadership in Ukraine is anti-Russian and will intimidate Russian speakers living in the country. He predicts this could eventually lead to efforts to overthrow Putin in Russia.
After that, Kiev may evict Russia’s Black Sea Fleet from Sevastopol and purge Crimea of any Russian influence. Ukraine could easily become a radicalized, anti-Russian state, at which point Kiev will fabricate a pretext to justify taking subversive action against Moscow. This looks especially likely considering that ruling coalition members from the neo-fascist Svoboda and Right Sector parties have already made territorial claims against Russia. They could easily send their army of activists to Russia to join local separatists and foment rebellion in the North Caucasus and other unstable regions in Russia. In addition, Russia’s opposition movement will surely want to use the successful experience and technology of the Euromaidan protests and, with the help and financial support of the West, try to carry out their own revolution in Moscow. The goal: to remove President Vladimir Putin from power and install a puppet leadership that will sell Russia’s strategic interests out to the West in the same way former President Boris Yeltsin did in the 1990s….
Markov too breaks Godwin’s law:
Putin made the right decision: He did not to wait for that attack and took preventative measures. Many in the West say the Kremlin’s reactions were paranoiac, but Germany’s Jews also thought the same of leaving the country in 1934. Most of them chose to believe they were safe and remained in Germany even after Hitler came to power. The infamous Kristallnacht took place five years later, one of the first early chapters in the “Final Solution.” Similarly, just four years remain until Russia’s presidential election in 2018, and there is a strong risk that subversive forces within and outside Russia will try to overthrow Putin, in part using their new foothold in Ukraine.
Will there be war in Ukraine? I am afraid so. After all, the extremists who seized power in Kiev want to see a bloodbath. Only fear for their own lives might stop them from inciting such a conflict. Russia is prepared to move its forces into southern and eastern Ukraine if repressive measures are used against the Russian-speaking population or if a military intervention occurs. Russia will not annex Crimea. It has enough territory already. At the same time, however, it will also not stand by passively while Russophobic and neo-Nazi gangs hold the people of Crimea, Kharkiv and Donetsk at their mercy.