Sunday Reads: How long to sing this song?

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How long to sing this song?

How long to sing this song?

How long,

how long,

how long,

How long to sing this song?

 

 

 

U2 – ’40’ Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

In aftermath of Charleston tragedy, Ogden churches stand as one | KSL.com

Zora Neale Hurston, 1940.

Zora Neale Hurston, 1940.

At age 87, Susie Jackson had lived through the era of Jim Crow laws, the civil rights struggle and “through all of the mess racism has caused in this country,” an Ogden minister observed during a prayer service Friday to honor the nine victims of a mass slaying in Charleston, South Carolina.

“She was felled by hatred, racism and terrorism” in her own church, said the Rev. Gage Church of Ogden’s Congregational United Church of Christ.

The Rev. Church was among clergy from several Ogden area churches who joined in a prayer service at Embry Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the aftermath of the mass shooting.

Prayers were offered in honor of the six women and three men who were gunned down while attending a weekly Bible study and prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday night.

Clergy also prayed for the victims’ families and for peace and justice in a broken world.

“We are angry and anguished, and then we are comforted because we know that in that room, she was not alone,” the Rev. Church prayed.

“The other victims were not alone. You were there. You were holding them in your loving arms.”

Ella Fitzgerald, 1940

Ella Fitzgerald, 1940

Prayers were offered on behalf of each of the victims, who include Jackson, the Rev. and South Carolina state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, 41; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; and the Revs. DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; and Daniel Simmons Sr., 74.

Let that sink in for a moment. This woman. What she has seen…and lived through. What hatred she experienced in her life, and the culmination of that hate on Wednesday.

I don’t have the resourcefulness of religion or even the amount of faith required to put this act of hateful violence into perspective. That anyone is capable of “being comforted” at all…about anything, it is beyond my reasoning. I am just constantly turning the thoughts in my mind, that this woman’s entire life…was one entire struggle against something many of us do not an will not experience first hand.

Martha Flowers, 1953.

Martha Flowers, 1953.

Living as a black woman in the South. And the one place where she should feel safe and at peace, with connections that go back to more than the “anglo-traditional” religious community, the Black Church especially symbolic in many, many ways…here Susie Jackson was murdered.

One of nine…

One of hundreds…

I only have links for you today. We leave this afternoon for Memphis, taking a detour to Shiloh Battlefield.  Will post a quick thread on Wednesday…with a longer one on Sunday….Happy Father’s Day to the Daddies out there!

The 9 Victims of the Charleston, South Carolina, Church Massacre – The Root

Worshipers pack ‘Mother Emanuel’ in Charleston, 4 days after shooting – LA Times

Charleston Church Holds First Service Since Shootings

Joyce Bryant, 1953.

Joyce Bryant, 1953.

A.M.E. Church in Charleston Reopens as Congregation Mourns – The New York Times

Before I get to more links on Charleston, an update on a shooting here in Georgia from back in March of this year…cop kills unarmed black man:

A quick reminder of what went down:

Family wants action after 25-year-old in Maserati shot, killed… | www.wsbtv.com

Police said officers feared for their life when the suspect jumped in a car, tried to get away, and drove at them in the white Maserati.

They have not yet identified the man who died.

The parents of Nicholas Thomas, 23, said their son was the man killed.

Thomas’ parents were both at the scene Tuesday afternoon and told Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant that police had shot and killed their son.

“He was a lovable guy,” mother Felicia Thomas said. “He was just a lovable guy. He would do anything for everybody. He was just loved cars. He loved his family. He just had a baby.  His baby is not even 5 months old.”

Nicolas Thomas’ father, Huey Thomas, told Diamant at the scene, “I guess now, I just want to understand what happened, because I hear so often and here it is now.  I’m a professional, my wife is a professional and we have a kid that’s dead.”

Langston Hughes, 1942.

Langston Hughes, 1942.

It happened across the driveway from a busy Starbucks where witnesses inside took cover as it all unfolded.

“They were standing behind the car, opening fire. He wasn’t driving towards them,” Goodyear customer Brittany Eustache said.

Eustache told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman what happened. She said she watched from inside the store, just feet away.

“The car was not moving when they began to shoot at him. The car had been stopped. He hit a curb. He couldn’t go any further,” she said.

“So at no point was he making any aggressive moves?” Stockman asked her.

“None, none at all. They immediately opened fire on them,” Eustache said.

No police officers were injured. A spokesperson for the Smyrna Police Department said the shooting has already taken an emotional toll on the officers involved.

Thomas’ parents said he was working at the store to pay off fines associated with what they called a traffic warrant.

Police have yet to confirm that. Investigators said they are still trying to figure out how many of the six officers who were at the scene actually opened fire.

 

Harry Belafonte, 1954.

Harry Belafonte, 1954.

Details emerge in deadly Cobb County police shooting – CBS46 News

Man killed by officer was shot in the back, Atlanta medical examiner says | US news | The Guardian

Autopsy: Man shot by Smyrna police was shot in back | AccessWDUN.com

A man who was killed by a police officer’s bullet was shot in the back, a medical examiner’s report says, adding a new twist to a case in which police say the man was driving a car toward officers when the incident happened.

An autopsy on the body of 23-year-old Nicholas Thomas was conducted by the Cobb County medical examiner’s office March 25, the day after Thomas was killed while at the wheel of a customer’s Maserati outside the Goodyear tire store where he worked, according to the report that was certified by the medical examiner on Tuesday.

Police have said Smyrna police Sgt. Kenneth Owens shot Thomas because the officer feared for his life. Police have said Thomas was driving toward officers as they tried to serve him with a warrant for a parole violation, though his family says other witnesses dispute that.

The medical examiner’s report says Thomas died from a gunshot wound after a bullet entered his upper back on the right side. The bullet hit his lungs and aorta before coming to rest in his upper chest on the left side.

The autopsy did not determine how far the officer was from Thomas when the shot was fired, but the report says no gunpowder or soot was found on Thomas’ back or shirt.

Leontyne Price, 1953.

Leontyne Price, 1953.

“Nicholas Thomas died as a result of a gunshot wound of the torso sustained during an altercation with police,” the report says. “The manner of death is classified as homicide. The designation of the manner of death as homicide does not necessarily indicate improper actions on the part of police.”

Mawuli Davis, a lawyer for Thomas’ family said the fact that Thomas was shot in the back “reinforces the position we have taken that he was not a threat to the officers.” It also seems to contradict the police assertion that Thomas was driving toward officers, Davis said.

 

The Counted: people killed by police in the United States in 2015 – interactive | US news | The Guardian

Unarmed man flags down LAPD seeking help. They shoot him in the head. – Boing Boing

James Baldwin, 1955.

James Baldwin, 1955.

Back to Charleston:

White supremacist murders nine people at Emanuel AME Church in an act of terrorism | Feministe

Dylann Roof may have been radicalized by the website of a group associated with southern GOP politicians

Rick Perry Taken to Task by Tweets for Accidental Comments

Texas volunteer firefighter fired after posting Dylann Roof ‘needs to be praised for the good deed he has done’

A Letter From a White South African to White America | Bronwyn Lea

Judge who urged support for Dylan Roof’s family off case – NY Daily News

Ethel Waters, 1940.

Ethel Waters, 1940.

FBI Director Says Charleston Shooting Not Terrorism | Mediaite

In America, there is no sanctuary – Baltimore Sun

How ‘benevolent sexism’ drove Dylann Roof’s racist massacre – The Washington Post

Dylann Roof’s friend took gun during ‘crazy’ bigoted rant – NY Daily News

This link is from a white distant relative of Pinckney: ‘Only white people can save themselves from racism and white supremacism’ – Americas – World – The Independent

Oh please: Charleston shooting: Dylann Roof’s stepmother defends ‘smart’ boy ‘drawn in by internet evil’ – Americas – World – The Independent

Muriel Rahn, 1944.

Muriel Rahn, 1944.

Dylann Roof: far right denies links and disowns ‘act of purposeful evil’ | US news | The Guardian

Addicting Info – Dylann Roof’s Racist Manifesto Sure Has A Lot Of Mainstream Right-Wing Talking Points

 

Prison escape: New York prison break: police chase possible sightings as corrections officer stood down | US news | The Guardian

In NOLA:

Suspect in NOPD officer killing arrested in Ninth Ward | New Orleans – WDSU Home

Pictures for today’s post:

Harlem in Color – The New Yorker

This is an open thread. My internet is going out. Hope to get the images up soon….


Friday Reads: Bump on the Fast Track Trade Deal

Good Afternoon!

wo-ai678c_jtrad_g_20120206184206I’m moving slow today.  I was in a recording studio on the North Shore yesterday and it just wore me out. So, I’m catching up on life right now. A meteor could’ve hit the planet yesterday and I probably wouldn’t have noticed at all.

So, the House just tanked Obama’s demands for enhanced negotiating ability on the Pacific region trading deal.  The President actually showed up on the Hill to lobby for the bill.  (Wonk Trigger Alert!)

House Democrats rebuffed a dramatic personal appeal from President Obama on Friday, torpedoing his ambitious push to expand his trade negotiating power — and, quite likely, his chance to secure a legacy-defining trade accord spanning the Pacific Ocean.

In a remarkable rejection of a president they have resolutely backed, House Democrats voted to kill assistance to workers displaced by global trade, a program their party created and has stood by for four decades. By doing so, they brought down legislation granting the president trade promotion authority — the power to negotiate trade deals that cannot be amended or filibustered by Congress — before it could even come to a final vote.

“We want a better deal for America’s workers,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader who has guided the president’s agenda for two terms and was personally lobbied by Mr. Obama until the last minute.

Republican leaders tried to muster support from their own party for trade adjustment assistance, a program they have long derided as an ineffective waste of money and sop to organized labor. But not enough Republicans were willing to save the program.

4prObama seems to be staking the end game of his Presidential legacy on this deal which begs the question “Why Does Obama Want This Trade Deal So Badly?”.  William Finnegan writes this bit for The New Yorker.

The Senate passed fast-track last month, sixty-two to thirty-seven, with only fourteen Democrats voting yes. Boehner and Ryan expect to be able to produce two hundred Republican votes. That means eighteen Democratic votes are needed. Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader, is reported to be working closely with Boehner and Ryan to come up with the number they need—although she still hasn’t said which way she’ll vote herself. That’s how strange the legislative politics of the T.P.P. have become. Nearly every constituency in the Democratic Party opposes it; and the more they learn about it, the more they oppose it. And yet their leader, Obama, wants it badly.

But why? Maybe it’s a better agreement—better for the American middle class, for American workers—than it seems in the leaked drafts, where it appears bent to the will of multinational corporations. John Kerry, the Secretary of State, and Ashton Carter, the Secretary of Defense, co-authored a column on Mondayin USA Today arguing, in evangelical tones, that the T.P.P. will usher in a glorious new era of American-led prosperity, a “global race to the top” for all parties. Meanwhile, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. sees only a race to the bottom. Organized labor, by all accounts, plans to punish any elected Democrat who supports the T.P.P., or even supports fast-track for Obama, in the next campaign. It’s difficult, again, to evaluate the agreement when we can’t see it. And it will be difficult for Congress to do its job if its members can’t study each part of the many-tentacled T.P.P. on its merits, but must simply vote yes or no on the whole shebang. What’s the rush? Is it simply Obama’s wish to make his mark on history and to complete his pivot toward Asia before his time is up? Politicians are often accused of supporting pro-corporate policies to please wealthy backers, looking toward the next campaign. That can’t be Obama’s motive now.

I’m going to use my own analysis here and will begin by letting you know that my doctoral dissertation and my research area is the existing trade and development deals in the region of ASEAN+3.  ASEAN is a group of small countries that are quite diverse that first banded together under the CIA to oppose the spread of communism in the region.  Now, the group actually has some of those very communist countries it feared in its numbers.

It includes some of the most politically and economically diverse countries in the world.  Seriously.  It’s members include the Sultanate of Brunei, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Malaysia and Indonesia.  Indonesia is an Islamic Democracy.  Brunei is a monarchy. Myanmar is for all intents and purposes run by a military junta.  You’ll notice there are also several single party communist states.  Brunei has oil. Singapore is an offshore banking haven and international financial center. Many of the other countries are mostly agricultural and traditional economies with production facilities of other countries basically paying labor badly while ignoring any environmental impact of the manufacturing process.  But the deal is that this small group of countries along with their plus three neighbors (Japan, South Korea, and China) are the economic dynamos of the global economy for the next century.

It’s the region and area where the most potential for economic growth and development will occur.  So, the US needs to be there for many reasons that include economic and political.  Most of these countries are emergent democracies and most of these countries are liberalizing their markets which means less state ownership of things.  New Zealand and Australia are huge players in the region already. For many reasons, we need to get into their trade deals to remain relevant in THE KEY region of the next century.

The biggest deal with this region is that it doesn’t have the political instability and outright strife that’s impacting Southern Africa and MENA. It’s also not stagnant like Europe.  It has political issues but they haven’t blown up into perpetual terrorism and even the near dictatorships are reforming peacefully.  Contrast this to what’s going on in the Middle East, then look South to Africa. Those regions appear to be clusterfucks into eternity.

So, it’s atppre safer place for Western Foreign Direct Investment and it’s economies are developing at phenomenal rates. There are plans to turn the region into a European style Union in the works with a single currency and banking system.  All of this decreases the tricky parts of international trade in a region. The region has already successfully negotiated huge trade and currency deals with its neighbors.  They all are serious about development.  The US cannot maintain its leader of the world nation status and not be a major player in this region.  It clearly hands the role over to the PR of China if we can’t get in there. And believe it or not, it makes Australia more of a player than Europe in the near future. The TPP also includes Latin America Countries that border the pacific so it’s a diverse group of nations.

The deal is, however, at what cost do we join in?  Why do we seem to be negotiating so much independent power for multinational corporations (MNCs)?

While every other president from Ford onward has been granted similar powers, today’s vote has turned out to be anything but routine. Critics who oppose the TPP and other pending agreements are working to stop the bill—and thwart the anticipated trade deals.

The fast-track process was set out in 1974’s Trade Act, which empowered Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority bills—like the one slated to be voted on today—that allow presidents to negotiate and sign trade deals with less involvement from the legislative branch. Congress still gets to vote yes or no on any final agreement, but amendments are generally prohibited. In exchange, TPA bills let legislators lay out trade priorities and negotiating objectives for the president, and set requirements on how and how often the administration must check in while negotiations are underway.

This TPA, if passed, will guide presidential trade negotiations through 2021. It builds upon a bill that expired in 2007, and is likely more complex than any other in history, expanding congressional oversight and consultation while including new provisions on intellectual property, cross-border data protection, and the environment and human rights. It also increases transparency, requiring presidential administrations to make agreements public 60 days before signing them.

So, the bill does include increased transparency despite many charges that it does not. It’s just not now and and it’s a fairly small window for reaction.

Nancy Pelosi stood with organized Labor and against the President today.tpp2

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a meandering but dramatic floor speech on Friday announced her vote against a measure providing assistance to workers displaced by trade.

“If TAA slows down the fast-track, I’m prepared to vote against TAA,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi announced her opposition to the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program just before it went down in the House, with 302 lawmakers voting against it.

The failure of TAA could sink a broader trade package that includes President Obama’s request for fast-track trade authority.
Pelosi’s move is a rare split with Obama, who visited Capitol Hill on Friday morning and pleaded with Democrats to back the measure.

The California Democrat had been under pressure from liberal groups to oppose the trade package. While many had expected Pelosi to vote against fast-track, also known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), her opposition to TAA took many by surprise.

Pelosi argued that opposing TAA now would give Democrats leverage for a trade package they view as more favorable.

“We want a better deal for American workers,” Pelosi said.

A group of liberal House Democrats opposed to the trade package, including Reps. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) and Brad Sherman (Calif.), applauded when Pelosi announced her opposition to TAA.

Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO who has been aggressively lobbying Democrats to vote against the fast-track deal, praised Pelosi in a statement just minutes after the TAA bill failed on the House floor.

TPP protest new yorkObama is rightly focused on the region and the need to get in there before the US is inched out of the deal. The majority of fears are based in the NAFTA deal that caused some economic chaos–especially with traditional labor union jobs–that went south.  I’m going to do something that will probably shock and say that it’s likely that these concerns are unfounded.

Sending jobs to Mexico is relatively easy. It’s close, stuff ships over land routes, and even though Mexico still has the feel of a narco-state, many of its regions are developed and there’s not anything in the way of civil unrest.  Locating production facilities in Mexico for shipment of final goods and services to the US is a low cost no brainer.

You’re not exactly going to see that happen with Myanmar or Brunei.  Also, there’s so much going on already in places like Vietnam that it’s hard to imagine it’s going to get much worse.  My data and scooby sense tells me that any business located there will be shipping regionally there so I doubt it will have the same impact that the Mexican deal did.  All of these countries have blossoming middle classes that are going to be shopping happy during the next decades. They’ll be able to sell stuff there much more easily than shipping it way over here to a steady state economy.  (That means we’re just about as developed as we’re going to get).

Obama had rushed to Capitol Hill on Friday morning to make a last-ditch plea to an emergency meeting of the Democratic caucus. The president urged members to vote with their conscience and “play it straight,” urging them to support the financial package for displaced workers, which Democrats have long supported.

“I don’t think you ever nail anything down around here,” Obama told reporters on his way out of the Capitol. “It’s always moving.”

But anti-trade Democrats pushed hard to block the financial aid plan, knowing that its defeat would also torpedo a companion measure to grant Obama fast-track authority to complete the TPP. That bill was later approved with overwhelming Republican support in what amounted to a symbolic vote because it could not move forward into law without the related worker assistance package.

The package for displaced workers should be put in place. I’m sorry to see it used as a political tool because Republicans hate it to begin with and it’s a necessary component of any trade deal.  The only issue here–which is the main issue for organized labor–is that many of the displaced workers would likely come from union jobs and go to jobs that are less likely to be union like health care workers. That’s what happened with NAFTA passage. Clinton insisted on the displaced worker clause, got it, and then many Ladies Garment Workers in the South became Nurses as a result.  So, in many ways, this could really change the face of organized labor.  However, labor unions need to get better footholds in the services industries since trade and technology has already eroded its member base.  This deal just exacerbates an already existing issue, if anything.

I’m frankly more worried about the legal implications of making MNCs out of reach of a country’s laws. I expressed that concerned in an April, 2015 post.  Here’s a link to my earlier post on the TPP listing some of the most germane concerns.

But, you can see, Obama’s backers on this deal were definitely Republican in general. Politics continues to make strange bedfellows.17679_600

On the GOP side, Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) cast a vote in favor of TAA. Speakers cast floor votes on relatively rare occasions.

Only 40 Democrats backed TAA, while 144 voted against it. On the GOP side, 158 Republicans voted “no,” while 86 Republicans voted “yes.”

The vote against TAA is a humiliating defeat for Obama, who had spent weeks lobbying House Democrats to support his trade agenda in the face of overwhelming opposition from liberal groups and organized labor.

Under the procedure established for considering the trade package, TAA had been packaged with fast-track authority, and a vote against either doomed the total package.

In a slight surprise, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced after the TAA vote that the House would still vote on the fast-track measure, as well as a separate customs bill.

In the vote on fast-track, the measure was approved in a 219-211 vote. Twenty-eight Democrats backed fast-track, while 54 Republicans voted “no.”

House Republicans said they would bring the TAA bill up for another vote by Tuesday.

House GOP lawmakers maintained that voting on TAA again next week would give the Obama administration time to lobby more Democrats to support it.
“The president has some work yet to do with his party to complete this process. This isn’t over yet. And we hope that they can get together and make sure that we finish this so that America is back leading,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a hastily scheduled press conference with members of the GOP leadership after the vote.

But it is difficult to see why the Democrats who objected to it on Friday to prevent movement on fast-track would shift their strategy, particularly after Pelosi’s words.

Despite the rebuke from House Democrats, the White House still expressed optimism about passing its trade package.
Press secretary Josh Earnest described the defeat as “another procedural snafu,” comparing it to a failed test vote last month in the Senate on the trade package, which eventually passed the bill.

So, my political scooby senses still say that this move was to basically appease organized labor and environmental concerns.  I’m not sure they’ll win much but a few good enough concessions in the long run.

So, again, sorry for the late posts but my life is bipolar at the moment and it’s wearing on me.  At least I make the bills.  Now, if I could only get a schedule that doesn’t exhaust me.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: Human Relations or not

peace

Good Afternoon!

Today is Memorial Day but it’s also known as Decoration Day! It’s the day we celebrate the sacrifice of the soldiers and sailors who gave their lives in service to their country. Wouldn’t it be nice if no one lost their lives to war?

“Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.”

The passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 by Congress made it an official holiday.

I have a few news items to share with you.  As an economist, I cannot understand the contribution of John Nash’s game theory to our understanding of high concentrated markets like duopoly or oligopoly.  Dr. Nash and his wife were killed in a car accident over the weekend.

US mathematician John Nash, who inspired the Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind, has died in a car crash with his wife, police have said.

Nash, 86, and his 82-year-old wife Alicia were killed when their taxi crashed in New Jersey, they said.

The mathematician is renowned for his work in game theory, winning the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1994.

His breakthroughs in maths – and his struggles with schizophrenia – were the focus of the 2001 film.

Russell Crowe, who played him, tweeted: “Stunned… My heart goes out to John & Alicia & family. An amazing partnership. Beautiful minds, beautiful hearts.”

The film’s director, Ron Howard, also tweeted his tribute to the “brilliant” John Nash and his “remarkable” wife.

Alicia Nash helped care for her husband, and the two later became prominent mental health advocates.

I loved the movie that detailed the mental health struggles of Nash and how he because the hero of his own life.

BB and I talk a lot about homeschooling and how–in the majority of cases–it’s a clear form of child abuse.  Children really need to be with their peers to learn socialization skills as well as learn about their idea of 8828027484_5561ee6ec7_mself in a world full of different kinds of people.   Many parents that home school are in it to assert control over their children and most rely on dubious curricula.  No where is this more clear than  in the Christianist Cults identified by BB in her post on Saturday. The more we learn about the kinds of things these children have been subjected to, the more outrage we should feel. Children are not their parents property to use and abuse for their personal hang ups.  Here’s a disturbing item on how to handle sexual abuse in home schooling environments but out by some even scarier people.  It undoubtedly leaves children quite scarred.  This is the material from Gothard-the Grabber–covered a bit in BB’s post. The details are just profoundly upsetting to any one that cares about young girls.

According to its website, the ATI is a “home education program” that provides parents with curriculum and support to teach their children with a Biblical worldview.

The ATI operates under the Institute of Basic Life Principles, a conservative Christian nonprofit group.

The group came under fire last year after its founder, Bill Gothard, resigned in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against him.

Gothard was accused of hiring young women, some of them teens, to work for him and then making unwanted advances toward them. The allegations stretched back for decades, the Christian Post reported.

The family has also discussed sending their sons to an ATI program called ALERT, which “focuses on training men in Biblical disciplines and character within the framework of learning skills for crisis response and ministry support.”

After the sexual abuse allegations against Josh Duggar emerged, documents from ATI’s programs about sexual abuse came under heavy scrutiny.

One document in particular, called “Lessons From Moral Failures in a Family,” is particularly striking because it describes circumstances eerily similar to what allegedly happened in the Duggar home.

The document was shared by Recovering Grace, a website dedicated to those impacted by the teachings of Gothard and ATI.

The website says the document was distributed in the late 1990s by ATI at several of its conferences.

The document describes a situation in which social workers visited a home and informed the parents that their oldest son had sexually abused younger members of his family.

According to the document, the boy repented for what he had done and was later asked to answer a list of questions in writing to shed more insight on what happened.

The questions included asking what factors had contributed to his sin, what could have been done to prevent it, and what factors “in the home contributed to immodesty and temptation.”

“The information he gives is so helpful that every parent should read it and diligently apply the lessons that this family learned the hard way,” the document states.

The most striking part of the document comes when the boy seems to blame his actions on the lack of “modesty” in his home, especially when it came to his young sisters.

The boy wrote that modesty was a “factor” in his actions because it “was not at the level is should have been in my family.”

“It was not uncommon for my younger sibling to come out of their baths naked or with a towel,” he wrote.

He also said his younger sisters acted inappropriately when they wore dresses, saying they “did not behave in them as they should.”

He then said his sisters didn’t realize what they were doing to him because they didn’t realize their “own nakedness,” and it wasn’t taught properly to them. He seems to blame this on his mother, who he says didn’t see the human body as a big deal because she is a nurse.

The boy said he spoke with his mother who had “no idea” how “visual” men are sexually compared to women. He said changes have since been made in his home.

“This was not a major reason for the offending, but it allowed my little sister to be open to what I made her do,” he wrote.

He then wrote, “A different lifestyle, with more modesty, might have prevented what happened.”

The document then provides guidelines as to how to prevent this type of situation. These include “[insisting] on modesty at all times” and “[not allowing] boys to change diapers.”

memorial-day-vintage-postcard-2This advice filled with victim shaming and blaming is totally disgusting. The more information that comes out about the Duggar scandal, the more that fans of the show realize how the behavior they’ve seen in the girls is explained by their molestation and shaming. There are all kinds of tweets that mention how their behavior differs from the show that tries to show a happy cheery family that I admit to never having watched. Tbogg lists a series of tweets that express concern for the girls, something that has failed to reach any critical level among the  Quivering Cult and Mike Huckabee.

Fans express concern and support for Duggar daughters on Twitter: ‘Run away and be free!

In their statement to the media, parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar — who hushed up the scandal — mentioned “God” six times without mentioning their daughters once.

Fans of the show, and of the daughters in particular, expressed more support for the girls on Twitter, with one advising eldest daughter Jana to “Run away and be free!”

Many noted that some of the daughters seemed to have a darker side on the normally bright and peppy show, and wondered if it was a manifestation of being molested when they were little.

Particular attention is being paid to 25-year-old Jana Duggar, known as “Cinderella Duggar,” because she is unmarried, still lives at home, and is treated like a maid, taking care of the younger Duggars.

card00780_frWhat is even more disturbing is that an Arkansas State Senator is calling for the police chief’s head who released the Duggar records on a FOI request.

A state senator from Northwest Arkansas is calling for the Springdale police chief to be fired over the recent release of a 2006 police report detailing accusations that Josh Duggar as a teenager molested five underage girls.

Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, said the girls have been re-victimized now that the report is public. He said Police Chief Kathy O’Kelley acted recklessly in releasing the report and should be held accountable.

“The law to protect minors’ identities is not a suggestion,” Hester, pictured, said Saturday (May 23). “So sad to see the person charged with protecting the community being so reckless and irresponsible. I believe it is unavoidable that the Springdale police chief should be terminated. She has re-victimized these young ladies.”

Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse said O’Kelley and Springdale City Attorney Ernest Cate determined after researching the matter that the report had to be released under law.

“From every indication I have the chief and city attorney reluctantly did what they had to do to comply with the state FOI (freedom of information) law,” Sprouse said Saturday (May 23).

The Springdale police report was obtained by In Touch Weekly magazine and posted on the magazine’s website this week. The names are redacted in the report. On May 21, Washington County Juvenile Judge Stacey Zimmerman issued a court order that the police report be destroyed and expunged from the public record.

That’s great.  Fire a police chief for doing his job!  Makes perfect sense in the twisted authoritarian minds of those trapped in Christianist cults.

In other news, hateful expressions of racism are still resplendent all over our country.  This is an example from New Orleans. It’s hit the press now but most of us that know the Neville family received notice about 5 minutes after it happened.  I’m still pretty shocked frankly.  This is a prime example of a privileged little white boy who got a job from his general manager father and just seems to think he can do anything to any one.

The waiter who wrote the N-word on a New Orleans restaurant receipt knew what he was doing when he unleashed the racial slur that caused intense backlash and calls for boycotts, according to one former coworker.

“I printed those receipts 50 times a day. I know for a fact he knew it would show up on his receipt,” a former Huck Finn’s waitress told the Daily News. “I was like, are you that hateful that you would put that on the receipt?”

Dakota Crochet, 23, was fired from the French Quarter sports bar this week after the phrase “N—– 100% dislike” appeared on a check he gave to a group of black customers Thursday.

One of the diners, Liryca Neville Branch — the daughter of New Orleans musician Cyril Neville — is now mulling a lawsuit and demanding a personal apology from both the canned waiter and the restaurant’s management.

“I’ve never had anything like this happen before to me,” she said. “Trust me — this is not over. I refuse to let this die out.”

Branch, 33, was eating lunch with three coworkers when they were given a bill with the racial slur in all capitals staring them in the face.

Another disturbing racist letter was sent to a family in Lindenhurst NY.md6

Suffolk County police are investigating a possible hate crime targeting an African-American family in Lindenhurst.

Ronica Copes, a resident of the suburban neighborhood, received a letter saying “YOU DON’T BELONG HERE” and other hateful words on Thursday.

Understandably so, she was disappointed at the sight of the hateful letter.

“Unbelievable but then it’s not…our daily reality, I’ve just never seen it in this form,” Copes posted on Facebook.

The writer of the flyer who says “Lidenhurst is 84 percent white” urges Copes in bold capital letters to “LEAVE AS SOON SHE CAN” because “IT WILL BE BETTER FOR ALL OF US.”

The racist letter gained the attention of  county executive Steven Bellone, who lashed out against the author of the flyer in a statement Friday.

“To the coward who committed a hate crime against an innocent family in Lindenhurst — There is no place for intolerance in Suffolk County.  I know the Suffolk County Police Department will do everything possible to solve this hate crime, out you and see you punished. I stand together with all Lindenhurst residents who decry this act of hatred. This community and all of Suffolk County are better than that.”

While police continue their investigation, Copes is thankful for the support she’s received during the ordeal.

So, today is a day to remember all of the beautiful minds that we’ve lost. It is also a day to ensure that the not-so-beautiful minds don’t get away with ruining other people’s lives. On many levels, we are still fighting the Civil War.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Open Thread: Happy Birthday JJ!!

Birthday-Cake-Candles

 

I’m guessing Dakinikat had another rough night at work last night. She will probably put up a post later this afternoon.

For now, I thought I’d post an open thread to celebrate a very important birthday. Our beloved JJ turned one year older today, but I’m not going to ask her the number. I just know she’s much younger than I am.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JJ!!!

Have a wonderful day!

Happy-Birthday-Cake-Photos-HD-Wallpaper-1

 

And now, a few quick headlines.

Guardian Editorial, The Guardian view on Hillary Clinton: hammering the glass ceiling (again).

Washington Blade, Meet the gay couple in Clinton campaign video.

The Guardian, Hillary Clinton’s journey to Iowa: 1,000-mile road trip in a ‘Scooby-Doo’ van.

I liked this piece by Greg Sargent, What Hillary Clinton’s campaign announcement video tells us.

Look who’s talking: Mitt Romney says “Hillary Clinton is just not trustworthy.” (CBS Local Washington)

The New York Times: Marco Rubio Announces Presidential Bid.

Ugh. The Guardian again, Walter Scott shooting: officer laughs about adrenaline rush in recording.

ABC News, AP Was There: Original AP Report of Lincoln’s Assassination.

What else is happening?


Friday Reads: The Iran Deal

tumblr_mgybvytJ5h1qjtdngo1_500Good Afternoon!

I’m running late again!  My schedule is just upside down now and DST just double whammed me on the same weekend I started my late night work.  Still getting used to the weird hours.  I also wanted to spend some time on the negotiations with Iran over its nuke program so I had to catch up with the news.  I’m glad BB’s post was so good because I can see you’ve spent a lot of time commenting on what’s going on in Indiana with its so-called “religious freedom” bill.

Obviously, there are going to be several sides to the “deal” depending on your views and their connections to US/Israel policy. So, I thought I’d highlight a few. Max Fisher–writing for VOX–says the deal is “astonishingly good.”

When Aaron Stein was studying nuclear non-proliferation at Middlebury College’s Monterey graduate program, the students would sometimes construct what they thought would be the best possible nuclear inspection and monitoring regimes.

Years later, Stein is now a Middle East and nuclear proliferation expert with the Royal United Services Institute. And he says the Iran nuclear framework agreement, announced on Thursday, look an awful lot like those ideal hypotheticals he’d put together in grad school.

“When I was doing my non-proliferation training at Monterey, this is the type of inspection regime that we would dream up in our heads,” he said. “We would hope that this would be the way to actually verify all enrichment programs, but thought that would never be feasible.

“If these are the parameters by which the [final agreement] will be signed, then this is an excellent deal,” Stein concluded.

The framework nuclear deal establishes only the very basics; negotiators will continue to meet to try to turn them into a complete, detailed agreement by the end of June. Still, the terms in the framework, unveiled to the world after a series of late- and all-night sessions, are remarkably detailed and almost astoundingly favorable to the United States.

Like many observers, I doubted in recent months that Iran and world powers would ever reach this stage; the setbacks and delays had simply been too many. Now, here we are, and the terms are far better than expected. There are a number of details still to be worked out, including one very big unresolved issue that could potentially sink everything. This is not over. But if this framework does indeed become a full nuclear deal in July, it would be a huge success and a great deal.

The NYT editorial board calls the deal “promising.”images

Iran would shut down roughly two-thirds of the 19,000 centrifuges producing uranium that could be used to fuel a bomb and agree not to enrich uranium over 3.67 percent (a much lower level than is required for a bomb) for at least 15 years. The core of the reactor at Arak, which officials feared could produce plutonium, another key ingredient for making a weapon, would be dismantled and replaced, with the spent fuel shipped out of Iran.

Mr. Obama, speaking at the White House, insisted he was not relying on trust to ensure Iran’s compliance but on “the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program.”

There is good reason for skepticism about Iran’s intentions. Although it pledged not to acquire nuclear weapons when it ratified the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1970, it pursued a secret uranium enrichment program for two decades. By November 2013, when serious negotiations with the major powers began, Iran was enriching uranium at a level close to bomb-grade.

However, Iran has honored an interim agreement with the major powers, in place since January 2014, by curbing enrichment and other major activities.

By opening a dialogue between Iran and America, the negotiations have begun to ease more than 30 years of enmity. Over the long run, an agreement could make the Middle East safer and offer a path for Iran, the leading Shiite country, to rejoin the international community.

According to Reuters, Iranians were celebrating in the street as the deal was announced yesterday.  The country has been living under harsh embargoes which have obviously hurt ordinary people.

Iranians celebrated in the streets after negotiators reached a framework for a nuclear accord and U.S. President Barack Obama hailed an “historic understanding”, but senior global diplomats cautioned that hard work lies ahead to strike a final deal.

The tentative agreement, struck on Thursday after eight days of talks in Switzerland, clears the way for a settlement to allay Western fears that Iran could build an atomic bomb, with economic sanctions on Tehran being lifted in return.

It marks the most significant step toward rapprochement between Washington and Tehran since the 1979 Iranian revolution and could bring an end to decades of Iran’s international isolation.

But the deal still requires experts to work out difficult details before a self-imposed June deadline and diplomats said it could collapse at any time before then.

tumblr_n8ny4i9nX51txy642o1_500We have reaction to the deal from the GOP and from former SOS Hillary Clinton as reported by CNN.

The backlash from likely Republican presidential contenders to thepotential nuclear deal with Iran trumpeted Thursday by President Barack Obama came swift and hard. A more optimistic response came from likely 2016 Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said the deal — aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear capabilities — “will only legitimize those activities.”

“Nothing in the deal described by the administration this afternoon would justify lifting U.S. and international sanctions, which were the product of many years of bipartisan effort,” Bush said. “I cannot stand behind such a flawed agreement.”

Clinton, meanwhile, held up the tentative agreement as an “important step” in preventing a nuclear Iran.

“Getting the rest of the way to a final deal by June won’t be easy, but it is absolutely crucial. I know well that the devil is always in the details in this kind of negotiation,” Clinton said in a statement. “The onus is on Iran and the bar must be set high. It can never be permitted to acquire a nuclear weapon.”

But the former secretary of state allowed leeway for herself in case things go awry in the coming months, stating, “There is much to do and much more to say in the months ahead, but for now diplomacy deserves a chance to succeed.”

The rest of the Republican field, however, coalesced around rejecting the deal.

Making his first trek to Iowa as an announced presidential candidate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz contended the President must bring Congress into the process.

“The very first step for any deal, good or bad, should be submitting it to Congress, and the President making the case both to Congress and to the American people why this advances the national security interests of the United States,” Cruz told reporters after a town hall in Cedar Rapids. “Now everything President Obama has said up to this date has suggested that he is going to do everything he can to circumvent Congress.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, described the early details of the agreement as “very troubling” and said “this attempt to spin diplomatic failure as a success is just the latest example of this administration’s farcical approach to Iran.”

Obama pushed to quiet skeptics of the framework during his remarks in the White House Rose Garden Thursday, asking, “Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world’s major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East?”

69844c5ef8afa2721165c08a7842db7fPeter Baker–writing for the NYT–calls the deal a “foreign policy gamble”.

As Mr. Obama stepped into the Rose Garden to announce what he called a historic understanding, he seemed both relieved that it had come together and combative with those in Congress who would tear it apart. While its provisions must be translated into writing by June 30, he presented it as a breakthrough that would, if made final, make the world a safer place, the kind of legacy any president would like to leave. “This has been a long time coming,” he said.

Mr. Obama cited the same John F. Kennedy quote he referenced earlier in the week when visiting a new institute dedicated to the former president’s brother, Senator Edward M. Kennedy: “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” The sense of celebration was captured by aides standing nearby in the Colonnade who exchanged fist bumps at the end of the president’s remarks.

But Mr. Obama will have a hard time convincing a skeptical Congress, where Republicans and many Democrats are deeply concerned that he has grown so desperate to reach a deal that he is trading away American and Israeli security. As he tries to reach finality with Iran, he will have to fend off legislative efforts, joined even by some of his friends, to force a tougher posture.

The WAPO Editorial Board was critical of the deal.

THE “KEY parameters” for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program released Thursday fall well short of the goals originally set by the Obama administration. None of Iran’s nuclear facilities — including the Fordow center buried under a mountain — will be closed. Not one of the country’s 19,000 centrifuges will be dismantled. Tehran’s existing stockpile of enriched uranium will be “reduced” but not necessarily shipped out of the country. In effect, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will remain intact, though some of it will be mothballed for 10 years. When the accord lapses, the Islamic republic will instantly become a threshold nuclear state.

That’s a long way from the standard set by President Obama in 2012 when he declared that “the deal we’ll accept” with Iran “is that they end their nuclear program” and “abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place.” Those resolutions call for Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium. Instead, under the agreement announced Thursday, enrichment will continue with 5,000 centrifuges for a decade, and all restraints on it will end in 15 years.

Mr. Obama argued forcefully — and sometimes combatively — Thursday that the United States and its partners had obtained “a good deal” and that it was preferable to the alternatives, which he described as a nearly inevitable slide toward war. He also said he welcomed a “robust debate.” We hope that, as that debate goes forward, the president and his aides will respond substantively to legitimate questions, rather than claim, as Mr. Obama did, that the “inevitable critics” who “sound off” prefer “the risk of another war in the Middle East.”

The proposed accord will provide Iran a huge economic boost that will allow it to wage more aggressively the wars it is already fighting or sponsoring across the region. Whether that concession is worthwhile will depend in part on details that have yet to be agreed upon, or at least publicly explained. For example, the guidance released by the White House is vague in saying that U.S. and European Union sanctions “will be suspended after” international inspectors have “verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear related steps.”

Obviously, Bibi is beside himself.images (1)

“I just came from a meeting of the Israeli cabinet. We discussed the proposed framework for a deal with Iran.

The cabinet is united in strongly opposing the proposed deal.

This deal would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would threaten the very survival of the State of Israel.

The deal would not shut down a single nuclear facility in Iran, would not destroy a single centrifuge in Iran and will not stop R&D on Iran’s advanced centrifuges.

On the contrary. The deal would legitimize Iran’s illegal nuclear program. It would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure. A vast nuclear infrastructure remains in place.

The deal would lift sanctions almost immediately and this at the very time that Iran is stepping up its aggression and terror in the region and beyond the region.

In a few years, the deal would remove the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, enabling Iran to have a massive enrichment capacity that it could use to produce many nuclear bombs within a matter of months.

The deal would greatly bolster Iran’s economy. It would give Iran thereby tremendous means to propel its aggression and terrorism throughout the Middle East.

Such a deal does not block Iran’s path to the bomb.

Is he the little boy that has cried wolf too often?

Anyway, I hope you’ll read up on the situation since it stands to be one of the biggest foreign policy agreements for quite some time.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Election Day Open Thread

I voted

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

 

I can’t believe I slept until 10:15AM ET! That would have been 11:00 before the time changed on Sunday.

This is an open thread for anyone who wants to post links or comments. I’ll have a real morning post up as soon as I possibly can. And don’t forget we’ll have a live blog tonight to discuss the election results.

See you soon in a very late Tuesday Reads post!

 


Tuesday Reads: A Little Bit of This and That

Cassidy, Arlene - Book of palmistry.png

Good Morning!!

 

Just because I feel like it, I’m going to avoid the depressing news today and give you a mixture of stories that interested me.

By now everyone knows about the 15- or 16-year-old boy who on Sunday flew from California to Hawaii in the wheel well of a Boeing 767 jet and survived.

It turns out he ran away from home after some kind of argument, climbed over a fence at San Jose Mineta International Airport, and hid in the wheel well of the first plane he saw. Authorities are trying to figure out how he evaded multiple layers of security and how he survived a trip that could have killed him.

From ABC News:

“He got very lucky that he got to go to Maui but he was not targeting Maui as a destination,” Simon said.

The boy is also lucky to be alive, given that wheel-well stowaways rarely surviving flight conditions. At 38,000 feet, the percentage of oxygen is a fraction of that at sea level, and the temperature ranges from minus-50 to minus-85 degrees….

The plane landed in Hawaii. About an hour later, at 10:20 a.m. Hawaii time, crews were startled by the teen coming out of the wheel well, Maui Airports District Manager Marvin Moniz said.

“He was weak. He hung from the wheel valve and then he fell to the ground and regained some strength,” Moniz said.

 The Daily Mail has more:

He passed out in the air and didn’t regain consciousness until an hour after the plane landed in Hawaii, Simon said. When he came to, he climbed out of the wheel well and was immediately seen by airport personnel who escorted him inside where he was interviewed by the FBI, Simon said.

It was not immediately clear how the boy stayed alive in the unpressurized space, where temperatures at cruising altitude can fall well below zero and the air is too thin for humans to stay conscious. An FAA study of stowaways found that some survive by going into a hibernation-like state.

According to Simon, the boy doesn’t have any memories of the flight. Some experts are questioning whether the story is even true.

News of the incident was met with suspicion and scrutiny. Most wheel-well stowaways don’t survive, falling victim to frigid temperatures and lack of oxygen. The chances of survival of a wheel-well stowaway on a commercial aircraft are about 24 percent, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Civil Aerospace Medical Institute.

ABC News aviation consultant John Nance is skeptical that the teen could have survived the 2,300-mile flight in the wheel well without an oxygen source.

“I just don’t believe it,” Nance said.

Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, said in order to survive inside a wheel well during a flight, the body has to fall into a hibernation-like state, with the heart only beating a couple times a minute.

“It’s near impossible, almost miraculous, and maybe there’s more to the story,” Besser said.

Besides, how did this kid manage to evade security, including “multiple layers of security, including wide-ranging video surveillance, German shepherds and Segway-riding police officers?” Back to the Daily Mail:

San Jose International Airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes says airport employees monitor security video feeds from throughout the 1,050-acre airport around the clock. However, she said no one noticed images of an unidentified person walking on the airport ramp and approaching Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 in the dark until security agents reviewed the footage after the plane had landed in Hawaii and the boy had been found.

The airport, in the heart of Silicon Valley, is surrounded by fences, although some sections do not have barbed wire and could easily be scaled.

The boy found his way onto the tarmac during the night, ‘under the cover of darkness,’ Barnes said.

Hours later, surveillance video at Kahului Airport showed the boy getting out of the wheel well after landing, according to a statement from Hawaii’s Department of Transportation.

The boy isn’t being charged with a crime, and will be returned to his parents, where he’ll have a quite a story to tell. I guess we’ll learn more in the next few days.

Meb

Yesterday’s Boston Marathon came off without a hitch, and an American won the men’s race for the first time in more than 30 years. The New York Daily News reports: American Meb Keflezighi wins Boston Marathon a year after bombing.

With the names of the murdered written on his runner’s bib, American Meb Keflezighi raced to victory Monday in the Boston Marathon, becoming a living symbol of resilience from the dark days of terror.

Keflezighi, 38, a member of the New York Athletic Club, said his triumph was fueled by a city that refused to buckle in the face of hate.

“It was not about me. It was about Boston Strong,” said Keflezighi, who broke down in tears as he became the first American in 31 years to win the race. “When the bomb exploded, every day since I’ve wanted to come back and win it.”

The Eritrea-born Keflezighi, who became an American citizen in 1998, crossed the finish line to chants of “U-S-A!” a mere 11 seconds in front of Kenya’s Wilson Chebet. He won the elite men’s race with a time of 2:08:37, a personal best and the second-fastest for an American man at Boston.

“When the Red Sox won (the World Series) and put the trophy right there,” he said, pointing to the Boylston St. finish line, “I wanted to win it for the people of Boston.”

Keflezighi came to the U.S. with his parents when he was 12 years old. He attended public schools in San Diego, where he first started running. He graduated from UCLA, where he won multiple championships and awards. He won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics, and in 2009 he became the first American man to win the New York City Marathon since 1982.

In the women’s race, 2013 winner Rita Jeptoo won again, setting a course record of 2:18:57–also a personal best. Jeptoo is from Kenya.

I guess this next story is a little bit depressing, but it’s mostly ridiculous. From UPI: Majority of Americans doubt the Big Bang theory.

In a new national poll on America’s scientific acumen, more than half of respondents said they were “not too confident” or “not at all confident” that “the universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang.”

The poll was conducted by GfK Public Affairs & Corporate Communications.

Scientists were apparently dismayed by this news, which arrives only a few weeks after astrophysicists located the first hard evidence of cosmic inflation.

But when compared to results from other science knowledge surveys, 51 percent isn’t too shameful — or surprising.

Other polls on America’s scientific beliefs have arrived at similar findings. The “Science and Engineering Indicators” survey — which the National Science Foundation has conducted every year since the early 1980s — has consistently found only about a third of Americans believe that “the universe began with a huge explosion.”

Okay, maybe the notion of a giant explosion setting the universe in motion is a little surprising. But it’s certainly more believable than the biblical explanation that a godly being created the universe in seven days by making pronouncements like “Let there be light!”

Now an example of what some people are willing to believe: Has the Loch Ness Monster been spotted on Apple Maps?

Members of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club claim they have studied an image seen on Apple’s global satellite map application that shows the allegedly 100-foot-long creature, CNet .com reports, citing London’s Daily Mail.  They say if you zoom in on Apple images from space you can even see the monster’s giant flippers.

News of the sighting has fans of Nessie — as she’s affectionately called — buzzing because there hasn’t been a Loch Ness sighting in 18 months.  Legend has it she’s been cruising the area of Loch, just south of Dores, Scotland, for some 90 years, but so far, there’s no definitive proof she exists.

Nessie’s fan club devotees say they have ruled out all other possibilities for the grainy image, including a floating log or a giant seal. But one skeptic, deep-sea biologist Andrew David Thaler, debunks the theory on his websiteSouthernFriedScience.com, saying that the image shows the wake of a boat.

I have a few more interesting science stories for you.

From National Geographic: The Tragic Story of How Einstein’s Brain Was Stolen and Wasn’t Even Special.

My headline may be a bit misleading. Albert Einstein, the Nobel prize-winning physicist who gave the world the theory of relativity, E = mc2, and the law of the photoelectric effect, obviously had a special brain. So special that when he died in Princeton Hospital, on April 17, 1955, the pathologist on call, Thomas Harvey, stole it.

Einstein didn’t want his brain or body to be studied; he didn’t want to be worshipped. “He had left behind specific instructions regarding his remains: cremate them, and scatter the ashes secretly in order to discourage idolaters,” writes Brian Burrell in his 2005 book, Postcards from the Brain Museum.

But Harvey took the brain anyway, without permission from Einstein or his family. “When the fact came to light a few days later, Harvey managed to solicit a reluctant and retroactive blessing from Einstein’s son, Hans Albert, with the now-familiar stipulation that any investigation would be conducted solely in the interest of science,” Burrell writes.

This story is so weird that there is no way I can do it justice with excerpts. You need to read the whole thing. Just to whet your appetite, I’ll tell you that Beat writer William Burroughs makes a cameo appearance. The comments are interesting too.

Part of a mastodon tooth

Part of a mastodon tooth

I just love this story; it’s the kind of thing I dreamed would happen to me when I was a kid: 9-year-old Michigan Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth near Home.

“I was walking down at the creek last summer. I felt something that I stepped on so I picked it up and everybody in the neighborhood thought it was pretty cool,” Philip Stoll told CNN on Friday….

“It felt weird,” he said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “I had to see what it was. I pulled it out and brought it to my mom.”

Stoll…took the six-peaked, 8-inch foreign object to his Windsor Township house and washed it in his kitchen sink to get a better look. Mom Heidi Stoll was also brought in for consultation.

“I didn’t even think that it could have been a tooth until I started checking online for some kind of match,” she said. “We saw a picture of a Mastodon tooth and said ‘there it is.'”

The Stoll family eventually reached out to James Harding, a herpetologist – an expert on reptiles and amphibians, at nearby Michigan State, who confirmed their suspicions.

“This is indeed a mastodon tooth,” Professor Harding verified in an email, CNN reports. “Apparently (it is) the upper surface, broken off at the roots.”

Wow, that is one lucky kid! Philip told CNN he has dreamed of becoming a paleontologist when he grows up.

TRex

Did you hear about how the Smithsonian acquired a nearly-complete skeleton of a Tyranosaurus Rex and had it delivered from Montana by FedEx? From the Guardian: Rare T rex bones arrive at Smithsonian Museum after cross-country journey.

For the first time since its dinosaur hall opened in 1911, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History will have a nearly complete T rex skeleton. FedEx delivered the dinosaur bones in a truck carrying 16 carefully packed crates.

The T rex, discovered in 1988 on federal land in Montana, is about 80-85% complete. It’s one of about half a dozen nearly complete T rex skeletons that have been uncovered. This specimen could become the most prominent with its new home in one of the world’s most-visited museums. About 7 million people visit the natural history museum each year, and it offers free admission.

Like the mastodon tooth that Philip Stoll found, this skeleton was discovered by amateurs.

Kathy Wankel, a Montana rancher who discovered the bones in 1998 during a camping trip, said she was proud to see the specimen in a national museum. Initially, Wankel spotted about 3 inches of bone sticking out of the ground, and she and her husband dug out a small arm bone.

“We were so thrilled we had found a bone; we called that a mega find,” she said at the museum. “But I think now this is a mega find.”

Paleontologists from the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Mont., excavated the fossil, and it’s been housed there for the past 25 years. At the Smithsonian, the skeleton will be mounted upright for the first time.

Those are my offbeat offerings for today. What stories have you been following? Please feel free to post real news in the comments.