Well, I guess you can tell from the title of the post, we will start this morning by talking about the big ol’ state of Texas.
This is the first link from Addicting Info, I have a few links from the AI blog today…anyway, here is the latest strike down in Governor GoodHair’s War on Women, Rick Perry Vetoes Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay – Senfronia Thompson Reacts
On Friday, June 14, Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed House Bill 950 (HB 950). HB 950 would have brought Texas into compliance with the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 signed by President Barack Obama. The bill makes it easier for women to sue employers over wage discrimination between their male counterparts.
You can find a video interview at the link with,
Texas District 141 Representative, and Chair of the Local and Consent Calendars, Senfronia Thompson, the author of HB 950. She states that she was shocked and disappointed that Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed the bill. She said she meticulously worked with Republicans to formulate a bill that could garner support in from both parties in both chambers of the legislature.
The bill was passed in the Texas House on April 25, 2013. It passed the Texas Senate on May 22, 2013. The bill was passed by a bipartisan legislature that is dominated by Republicans.
So, Perry even vetoed a bill that was passed by a bunch of Republicans. Sigh. But don’t you worry, at least one thing is safe in Texas, thanks to Perry…because on the same day he vetoed the Fair Pay bill, he signed the “Merry Christmas” bill. Texas Gov. Perry signs ‘Merry Christmas’ bill into law
Surrounded by sleigh bell-ringing Santa Claus impersonators, Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday signed a law protecting Christmas and other holiday celebrations in Texas public schools from legal challenges – but also stressed that freedom of religion is not the same thing as freedom from religion.
It was a serious tone for an otherwise fun bill-signing and should bolster the governor’s Christian conservative credentials before he travels to Washington for the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference with the likes of tea party darlings and U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Kentucky’s Rand Paul and fellow Texan Ted Cruz.
Dubbed the “Merry Christmas” bill, the bipartisan measure sailed through the state House and Senate to reach Perry’s desk.
It removes legal risks of saying “Merry Christmas” in schools while also protecting traditional holiday symbols, such as a menorah or nativity scene, so long as more than one religion and a secular symbol are also reflected.
Oh, may the Gawds be praised! At least they have the token secular symbol and “other” religious holiday symbol as a requirement. Believe me, this Merry Christmas bill is still going to piss off some people, cough…. Gretchen Carlson. Anyway, the sponsor of the bill Republican Rep. Dwayne Bohac of Houston said:
…of Perry: “This is not a governor that shirks away from the tough issues. And this should not be a tough issue, which is what’s even amazing about all this. But this is just political correctness that’s run a-muck and our brains have been completely fallen out as a result.”
Funny, it seems like he sure as hell shirked that big “tough” issue of fair pay.
I am going to move on to another “tough” issue, this link is also from Addicting Info, it is a very good post, Navy Judge Rules Rapists Shouldn’t Be Discharged (VIDEO)
Is the military just completely tone-deaf on the issue of sexual assault and rape in its ranks? Are those who’ve deigned themselves mouthpieces of the military just as clueless in their defense of this heinous situation? It would certainly seem so. Not only are the numbers staggering and inexplicable, but we’ve got idiotic conservatives blaming military rape on pornography, hyper-sensitive feminists, and “hormone level created by nature,” illustrating not only their profound cluelessness about the pathology of rapists, but the reasons why so many rapes and assaults go unreported. In fact, in a recent high-profile case where a victim did speak up and go to trial, the commander overturned the jury verdict to allow a rapist the freedom to advance in the ranks while his victim was stigmatized out of the service.
It’s entrenched, systemic corruption within what has been a very macho, male-dominated culture and it doesn’t appear the powers-that-be intend to take appropriate responsibility for the disturbed, entitled, misogynist criminals under its jurisdiction who are acting out with impunity and, in too many circumstances, to few consequences.
Okay, now get ready for it…
Latest case in point: Navy Judge Commander Marcus Fulton has just ruled that comments made by the President regarding military rape “would unduly influence” any potential sentencing in the cases of two defendants in military sexual assault cases, U.S. vs. Johnson and U.S. vs. Fuentes. Stars and Stripes reports that, per the judge’s ruling, should the two men be found guilty, they cannot be punitively discharged because of “unlawful command influence,” meaning, because of what President Obama, as the Commander in Chief, said. Would you like to know what incendiary, unduly prejudicial, trial-influencing comments the president made, so inflammatory that if two servicemen are actually found guilty of violently raping they should not be punished?
“The bottom line is: I have no tolerance for this,” Obama said, according to an NBC News story submitted as evidence by defense attorneys in the sexual assault cases.
‘I expect consequences,” Obama added. “So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable — prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”
Do I hear the deafening roar of incredulity at the notion that these comments could possibly be framed as cause to excuse two rapists from punishment? Maybe that roar is just in my head, but damn, it is loud.
No, it the roar is in my head too. I will continue to post more of this article written by Lorraine Devon Wilke because I have to…
As a woman, a human being; an American, I’m writing this with a knot of rage in my stomach, rage at the notion that a Navy judge could take these firm but generic comments of appropriate anger, comments that are not only justified but, if anything, not strong enough, and use them as justification for NOT PUNISHING RAPISTS. It is unconscionable, amoral, certainly indefensible. But the judge not only stands by his ruling, he seems to think “members of the public” would be incapable of reading Obama’s anger at the horrific, systemic rape of both male and female service members as anything other than a direct command from him… a hypnotic order that would supercede any ability on their part to make judicious decisions about each individual case at hand. Sheep, listening and following the cult leader. Dear God. But here are his own words:
“A member of the public would not hear the President’s statement to be a simple admonition to hold members accountable,” Fulton stated. “A member of the public would draw the connection between the ‘dishonorable discharge’ required by the President and a punitive discharge approved by the convening authority.
“The strain on the system created by asking a convening authority to disregard [Obama’s] statement in this environment would be too much to sustain public confidence.”
And guess what follows this logic? Defense attorneys gleefully grabbing the ruling to use as a “way out” for their rapist (alleged…. I know) clients.
“I think that as a defense attorney, I would raise this argument in virtually any [sexual assault] case I had,” said Victor Hansen, vice president of the National Institute of Military Justice and former instructor at the Army’s JAG school.
However, in recent months there has been a lot more said — and in overly specific terms — about sexual assault by military and political leaders, Hansen noted. Obama’s call for dishonorable discharges is an example of such specificity, which begins to sound to military juries like a direct order from the commander in chief.
“This is bad lawyering on [Obama’s] advisor’s part,” Hansen said. “It’s certainly not a problem to say that sexual assault is a bad thing and we need to weed it out … that’s innocuous. It’s when they get very pointed that it’s problematic.”
So there you go; Obama’s verbiage was parsed as “too pointed” – daring to suggest consequences – and those who would go to any lengths to get military rapists off, excluded from commensurate punishment and consequence, are now licking their chops at the convenience of the judge’s ruling and how it will positively affect their own cases.
So far no one in the Navy judicial branch, JAG, is willing to address the ruling or its subsequent impact, though they did confirm its authenticity. Nor has the White House yet addressed the issue. But the 26,000 military rape and sexual assault victims of the past year, both male and female, are surely feeling, once again, victimized by a system that seems hellbent on doing everything to protect criminals within its ranks and little or nothing to defend, support and find justice for those who’ve been assaulted, raped, hurt, traumatized and, in many cases, pressured out of the military.
WHEN WILL THIS CHANGE?
You know, when the Newtown Shooting happened, my dad said that was the turning point…he said that was so horrible that people would demand tighter gun laws…he said the outrage would bring about change. At the time I told him no, there would be no changes made, sure we would have people talking about it, and laws would get proposed but nothing would change.
I know that there is plenty of attention, well let’s just say temporary attention lately on the military’s “culture” toward sexual assault. And honestly, like the gun control laws…and the equal pay bills, I just feel that there are some things which will never change. At least in my lifetime. Because it seems that they didn’t changed in my grandmother’s lifetime…they are definitely not going to in my mom’s lifetime…and I highly doubt they will in mine.
Boy, I seem to sound like a Cassandra don’t I?
Okay, like I said in the beginning of this post, there is one more link from Addicting Info, this one goes hand in hand with a link I saw on Susie Madrak’s blog. Y’all know the horrible time my family had with Bank of America, and the many times we sent our modification papers in, only to get another letter saying we have to send the same documents once again.
Well, check this shit out. As Susie puts it: BoA gave cash bonuses for HAMP foreclosures
No, it wasn’t just bad luck when that Bank of America rep kept telling you they “never got the paperwork.” We’ve been hearing these disgusting stories for a long time. Glad to hear they’re making their way into court, where there’s at least a chance that Bank of America might actually pay for some of their sins:
Bank of America Corp. (BAC), the second-biggest U.S. lender, rewarded staff with cash bonuses and gift cards for meeting quotas tied to sending distressed homeowners into foreclosure, former employees said in court documents.
Mortgage workers falsified records and were told to delay U.S. loan-assistance applications by requesting paperwork that the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank had already received, according to statements from ex-employees filed last week in federal court in Boston. The lender improperly disqualified applicants to the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, according to a May 23 statement from Simone Gordon, a loss-mitigation specialist who left the company in 2012.
Bank of America Corp. is being sued by homeowners who didn’t receive permanent loan modifications after making payments under trial programs, according to court papers.
“We were regularly drilled that it was our job to maximize fees for the bank by fostering and extending delay of the HAMP modification process by any means we could,” Gordon said. Managers instructed staff to “delay modifications by telling homeowners who called in that their documents were ‘under review,’ when in fact, there had been no review,” she said.
Bank of America, which has spent more than $45 billion to settle claims tied to its 2008 takeover of Countrywide Financial Corp., is being sued by homeowners who didn’t receive permanent loan modifications after making payments under trial programs, according to court papers. Statements from seven former loan employees were included in a filing last week as part of plaintiffs’ attempt to gain class-action status. The lender has denied the allegations.
Bank of America has managed to make the news yet again, but not for the right reasons. According to several ex-employees, Bank of America systematically declined homeowners the ability to modify their loans under the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. Bank of America rewarded staff with various perks, including cash bonuses and gift cards, for meeting quotas by sending homeowners seeking loan modifications into foreclosure. With these new explosive allegations, a new lawsuit is being brought against Bank of America. The former employees’ testimonies and revelations will strengthen the lawsuit, which is a consolidation of 29 separate suits against the bank from across the United States and is seeking class action certification. According to court documents, the lawsuit is being brought by homeowners who didn’t receive permanent loan modifications after meeting their obligations under the trail programs.
I knew those BoA basturds were doing this kind of crap. I wonder what kind of slap on the wrist they will get for this shit.
This post is getting rather long so here are the rest of the morning’s links, real quick like.
There is a lot of news out of the Middle East this weekend, so I have some articles for you to look at:
For two years, President Obama has resisted being drawn deeper into the civil war in Syria. It was a miserable problem, he told aides, and not one he thought he could solve. At most, it could be managed. And besides, he wanted to be remembered for getting out of Middle East wars, not embarking on new ones.
So when Mr. Obama agreed this week for the first time to send small arms and ammunition to Syrian rebel forces, he had to be almost dragged into the decision at a time when critics, some advisers and even Bill Clinton were pressing for more action. Coming so late into the conflict, Mr. Obama expressed no confidence it would change the outcome, but privately expressed hope it might buy time to bring about a negotiated settlement.
You can read the rest of the article and speculation about the meaning behind how the aid to Syrian rebels was announced at the link.
Update: Centrist Hassan Rouhani is Iran’s new president, having won a massive victory in a field of 6 candidates. 13:19 ET, 6/15/13
Early election returns in Iran suggest that former National Security adviser and nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani may have won over 50% of the vote, in which case he will have won without needing to go to a second round. Too early to tell if that is so. While it is true that the president in Iran is more like the typical US vice president and is relatively powerless, he can nevertheless set a tone and initiate policies slightly different from those of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Iran is not yet a totalitarian dictatorship, and Khamenei himself has sometimes been forced to tack with the wind. Any change will be slow and at the margins, but it could nevertheless be significant in a very polarized world.
In the US….and stuff:
Exclusive – Wal-Mart’s everyday hiring strategy: Add more temps | Reuters -No surprises there.
One more link for you, it is really just a picture, I realize this is one of the first Sunday reads I have written without a history link…so in lieu of a long historic read, I will give you this…a medieval knight…guinea pig style, talk about “your mother being a hamster…”Anyway, enjoy:
If your guinea pig routinely dashes off into armed combat (or just likes the look of scale mail), you might want to outfit him or her in this handsome suit of armor, perfect for rolly-polly rodents.
After Lucky, the original owner of the armor and model for these photos, passed away, eBay seller mightys0x decided to auction off Lucky’s armor. All of the proceeds from the auction will go to Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue in Virginia, the organization that rescued and adopted out Lucky. Lucky’s owner made the scale mail and purchased the tiny helmet. The auction ends on June 21st.
Anyone with a friend who has a guinea pig, and is fond of Monty Python?
And finally, I know that today is Father’s Day, so for all those Daddy’s out there:
Have a wonderful day, and if you are around, let us know what you are thinking and reading about today.
Guess you can tell from the title of this post, animals will play a feature role in today’s reads. Right now here in Banjoville the skies are opening up and raining down cats and dogs. Loud thunder is shaking the house, and that means lightning…real bad lightning…so I best make this post short and sweet. So here are your morning reads in link dump fashion.
Well, down in Miami the police roughed up a kid who was holding a puppy because he looked at them funny. I should say not funny as in funny amusing, but as they put it….”dehumanizing.”
Miami-Dade Police allegedly handcuffed and choked a 14 year old boy while he was carrying a newborn puppy for giving them a “dehumanizing” stare. A court case over the incident will begin on July 16th.
Tremaine McMillian was, by his account, playing on a beach with a friend and his puppy on the Miami boardwalk when police came over to tell them to stop “roughousing.” Though the police later admitted the boys’ activity was neither criminal nor violent, they asked the boys where their parents were. McMillian directed the officers to his nearby mother, and that’s where the family and the police’s story diverge.
McMillian and his mother, Maurissa Holmes, say the police chased down McMillian on ATVs and attacked him essentially without provocation. “The police officers were on their ATVs, and my son was walking,” Holmes said. “They jumped off their ATVs, grabbed him and slammed him to the ground.”
You can read the police’s version at the link, you can also see video of the arrest as well…there are some discrepancies however…pointed out by Tommy Christopher…check this out.
…there’s another painfully adorable detail that was left out of that report. Here’s what Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaletatold CBS 4:
Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta told D’Oench it was just after 11:00 am on Memorial Day on Haulover Beach when officers saw McMillian slamming another teenager on to the sand.
“They told him that behavior was unacceptable,” said Zabaleta. “He walked away and officers followed him. They asked where his parents were. He said he was not going to take them to them. When he started to leave the beach area, officers had to get off their ATVs to detain him. He had closed arms, clenched fists and pulled his arm away.”
“Once he was approaching the road, the officers restrained him. Again his body language was that he was stiffening up and pulling away,” said Zabaleta. “Now you’re resisting officers at that point and when the hands are swinging and you are resisting officers, at that point you have to be taken into custody.”
“Of course we have to neutralize the threat,” said Zabaleta. “When you have somebody resistant to them and pulling away and somebody clenching their fists and flailing their arms, that’s a threat.”
He said the police report did not indicate that a puppy was involved.
“At that point we are not concerned with a puppy,” said Zabaleta. “We are concerned with the threat to the officer.”
So, the police don’t seem to be disputing that the puppy was there, just that he didn’t merit inclusion in the report. But if the puppy was there, then how do police explain this?
“How could I be clenching my fists when I was taking care of my puppy and giving him some milk with a bottle?” asked McMillian.
I mean the kid was giving the newborn puppy a bottle of milk…WTF?
Shit…with the way law enforcement authorities are reporting things lately, that bottle of milk could have been a rocket launcher and the puppy? Well that was no puppy, that was a dwarf Muslim terrorist, hey….don’t mistake that fur for the towel on his head. /snark
I want to bring this story to your attention, it is about pigs but not the real animals. U.S. Naval Academy football players investigated for sexual assault | Reuters
Three members of the U.S. Naval Academy football team are being investigated for the alleged sexual assault of a female student, the Pentagon said on Friday, the latest in a string of scandals that have thrown a spotlight on sex crimes in the military.
The alleged incident took place in April 2012, when the student attended a party at the off-campus “football house” in Annapolis, Maryland and became intoxicated, her attorney, Susan Burke, said in a statement.
“She woke up at the football house the next morning with little recall of what had occurred. She learned from friends and social media that three football players were claiming to have had sexual intercourse with her while she was incapacitated,” Burke said, without identifying her client by name.
No charges have been brought forth yet, this is still being investigated.
Burke said that one of the football players pressured the woman not to cooperate with an initial investigation into the case. She initially followed that advice, but was still “ostracized and retaliated against by the football players and the Naval Academy community.” She was also disciplined for drinking, Burke said in a statement.
In early 2013, the female student decided to seek legal help and the Navy re-opened the investigation, Burke said.
“Over time, the midshipman began to recover from the trauma, and became angered at the lack of justice and retaliation in her case,” she said.
I am sure that this investigation will eventually end up like these cases usually do. But with the congressional hearings coming up…maybe there will be a fire under the ass of these military brass and justice will finally take a front seat and not get molested like so many of these women service members.
Here is yet another article about shitty pay and what it does to the economy. One Walmart’s Low Wages Could Cost Taxpayers $900,000 Per Year, House Dems Find
Then you have the other side of the coin, y’all heard that Tumblr was sold to Yahoo for 1.1 billion dollars…check this out: Tumblr’s Creative Director Quits
On to something more interesting, these next two links are about different things…but deal with the same subject.
First, this article from the New York Times: Justice Dept. Reports Rise in Prosecutions on Indian Lands
The Justice Department said this week that it had increased its rate of criminal prosecutions in Indian country by more than 50 percent in the past four years, a period in which violent crime on the nation’s Indian reservations has soared and tribes have complained of lawlessness.
The data, part of a Justice Department report released Thursday, found that United States attorneys had prosecuted about 69 percent of the 3,145 criminal cases referred to their offices from Indian country last year — an improvement over 2011, when the federal government tried 63 percent of 2,840 criminal cases in Indian country.
The report comes amid a wave of violent crime on Indian lands and criticism of the Justice Department by tribal officials who say United States attorneys pursue far too few violent criminal cases on reservations.
Prosecutors say they must decline many Indian country cases — about 60 percent of the total — because of a lack of evidence.
The feds usually prosecute murder, rape and white-collar crimes, but these numbers are a bit confusing because there is a new law that went into effect which includes various other violent crimes.
Previous government data have cited violent crimes, which presented a more pessimistic picture: that the Justice Department files charges in only about half of Indian country murder investigations and one-third of sexual assault cases. The data also showed the number of prosecutions by United States attorneys of violent crimes fell by 3 percent from 2000 to 2010, even as crime on some reservations increased by 50 percent or more.
But the report released this week does not separate the number of federal prosecutions for violent crimes. Instead, the report groups them with drug cases and white-collar crime.
On Friday, Wyn Hornbuckle, a Justice Department spokesman, said the analysis did not specify figures for violent crime because the department was not required to do so by the Tribal Law and Order Act, a 2010 law that mandates that the department release prosecution rates in Indian country. (This week’s report is the agency’s first since the law went into effect.)
I guess these reports are just like any other reports out there, what the hell do they really tell us? And do they exist so people can twist these department figures to their advantage, and by doing that manipulate the dialogue to justify their own agenda. (I know the answer to that…)
The other link is this: Do Mascots Need Modernizing? « The Dish
Earlier this week, ten members of Congress sent a letter to the front office of the Washington Redskins, pushing them to select a new mascot:
In this day and age, it is imperative that you uphold your moral responsibility to disavow the usage of racial slurs. The usage of the “R-word” is especially harmful to Native American youth, tending to lower their sense of dignity and self-esteem. It also diminishes feelings of community worth among the Native American tribes and dampens the aspirations of their people. We look forward to working with you to find a solution to this important matter.
This is something that I am hesitant to get involved in. I am no fan of the Atlanta Braves, but they also have an Indian mascot. There is talk of getting the government involved, like previous strategy used by the JFK admin when the Redskins owners would not integrate the team. See the JFKs guys would not allow the Redskins on the stadium property because it was federal land…however,
Doug Mataconis disagrees with the liberal lawmakers’ strategy:
I have to wonder why this is something that Members of Congress need to be getting involved in, or why legislation is necessary to address something that is, in the end, a private business matter.
The people who don’t like the name are free to protest it. Dan Snyder and the rest of Redskins ownership are free to reject their pleas. If there ever comes a time when the public sympathizes with the protesters, then perhaps the team will feel the kind of economic pressure most likely to cause them to change positions, then we’ll likely see a name change of some kind.
Personally, I think the odds of that happening are pretty remote. The Redskins name has been in existence now since 1933 when the football version of the Boston Braves changed its name to Boston Redskins before moving to Washington, D.C. several years later. We’re not that far away from the 100th anniversary of that name. It’s going to be around for a long time to come, and I’m just fine with that.
Well, the Redskins play on the FedEx field in Maryland now…and it isn’t on Federal land. Like I said, I don’t know how I feel about this…guess we will talk about it in the comments below.
Ralph posted a link to an article about the DOJ Press Leaks by Walter Pincus last week in the comments and I thought everyone would appreciate this response from the ACLU. (I remembered the name Pincus because of Seinfeld…and Kramer, “Poor little Pincus.”) Anyway: Responding to The Washington Post’s Walter Pincus on Leaks and Shield Laws | American Civil Liberties Union
A bit of Manhattan History for those of you who are the nostalgic types: 1930s New York subway train makes rare trip from Queens to Manhattan
May 30, 2013: In this photo provided by the New York Mass Transit Administration, an unidentified MTA employee checks the platform from between the cars of a 1930’s era subway train in the Queens borough of New York. (AP/Mass Transit Administration)
Lucky straphangers who happened to be in the right place at the right time on Thursday got to ride in eight subway cars purchased between 1930 and 1939.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority says some of the cars were taken out of the New York Transit Museum to commemorate the opening of a stretch of subway tracks badly damaged during Superstorm Sandy.
After the ceremony, the cars were put into regular passenger service for one quick trip from Queens to upper Manhattan.
Riders on board the train took pictures and gawked at its old-school style. Ads for Clark bars, fireworks shows on Coney Island and Levy’s Rye Bread adorned the walls.
More history for you, this is Breaking Bad meets Inglorious Basturds: Crystal Meth Origins Link Back to Nazi Germany and World War II – SPIEGEL ONLINE
Crystal meth is notorious for being highly addictive and ravaging countless communities. But few know that the drug can be traced back to Nazi Germany, where it first became popular as a way to keep pilots and soldiers alert in battle during World War II.
“Alertness aid” read the packaging, to be taken “to maintain wakefulness.” But “only from time to time,” it warned, followed by a large exclamation point.
The young soldier, though, needed more of the drug, much more. He was exhausted by the war, becoming “cold and apathetic, completely without interests,” as he himself observed. In letters sent home by the army postal service, he asked his family to send more. On May 20, 1940, for example, he wrote: “Perhaps you could obtain some more Pervitin for my supplies?” He found just one pill was as effective for staying alert as liters of strong coffee. And — even better — when he took the drug, all his worries seemed to disappear. For a couple of hours, he felt happy.
This 22-year-old, who wrote numerous letters home begging for more Pervitin, was not just any soldier — he was Heinrich Böll, who would go on to become one of Germany’s leading postwar writers and win a Nobel Prize for literature in 1972. And the drug he asked for is now illegal, notoriously so. We now know it as crystal meth.
Man, that is some fucked up shit.
Alright, since we touched on chemistry…here is a link that ties in perfectly. Molecule Chemical Bond Images From UC Berkeley | Geekosystem
Have you ever looked at a textbook diagram of the chemical bonds that make up molecules and thought to yourself, “This is just a dumb drawing — how do they know what it even looks like in real life?” Well stop it. Stop it right now. Felix Fischer of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is going to show you what it looks like with these gorgeous high-resolution images of individual carbon atoms linking together. And guess what? They look just like they do in the textbooks. Happy now?
I swear I had no idea these things really looked like this! Did you? Go to the link to read the rest. Amazing.
Back now to my own comfort zone: ‘Amazingly rare’ letter written by Robert the Bruce to Edward II found (But I gotta say, I hated the movie Braveheart!)
An unknown and “amazingly rare” letter written by Robert the Bruce at a pivotal point of the Wars of Scottish Independence has been uncovered by a Scottish academic.
In the letter, the fearsome Scottish warrior appeals to the English King Edward II for an end to “persecution and disturbance”. It was sent in 1310, less than four years before Bannockburn, the victory that paved the way for Scottish independence.
Dauvit Broun, professor of Scottish History at the University of Glasgow, found the letter in The British Library while studying a manuscript written by the monks of Kirkstall Abbey about 500 years ago. The correspondence happened to be copied by the monks into their manuscript, the original has not survived.
Professor Broun said: “It’s amazingly rare, a freak survival. There’s nothing like this that survives from around that time.”
Listen to the tone of Robert the Bruce…
Bruce wrote to “beseech” the king that “you would take pains to cease from our persecution and the disturbance of the people of our kingdom in order that devastation and the spilling of a neighbour’s blood may henceforth stop.”
Take a look at the rest of the article at the link. I wish they had printed the full letter. I would have loved to read the whole thing myself.
Real quick archeology links:
Earlier this week I linked to the female mammoth with flowing blood that was found in Siberia…well, this was another cool “ice age” related article that I was planning on sharing with you: Centuries-old frozen plants revived
Plants that were frozen during the “Little Ice Age” centuries ago have been observed sprouting new growth, scientists say.
Samples of 400-year-old plants known as bryophytes have flourished under laboratory conditions.
Researchers say this back-from-the-dead trick has implications for how ecosystems recover from the planet’s cyclic long periods of ice coverage. The findings appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The receding glaciers are exposing land that has not seen daylight since the mini ice age.
Bryophytes are different from the land plants that we know best, in that they do not have vascular tissue that helps pump fluids around different parts of the organism.
They can survive being completely desiccated in long Arctic winters, returning to growth in warmer times, but Dr La Farge was surprised by an emergence of bryophytes that had been buried under ice for so long.
“When we looked at them in detail and brought them to the lab, I could see some of the stems actually had new growth of green lateral branches, and that said to me that these guys are regenerating in the field, and that blew my mind,” she told BBC News.
“If you think of ice sheets covering the landscape, we’ve always thought that plants have to come in from refugia around the margins of an ice system, never considering land plants as coming out from underneath a glacier.”
But the retreating ice at Sverdrup Pass, where the Teardrop Glacier is located, is uncovering an array of life, including cyanobacteria and green terrestrial algae. Many of the species spotted there are entirely new to science.
And from that story of new life from ancient plants to a post in The Atlantic, I will just put it here because…well, you all will see why: Why the Boomers Are the Most Hated Generation – Edward Tenner – The Atlantic (Look at the comments, some of them are funny and vicious indeed.)
While you “feast” on that, take a look at this op/ed from the LA Times…Jefferson Davis’ ‘presidential’ library - It offers a rallying point for the myth of a gentle and just South dragged into the War of Northern Aggression.
And then…think about that little island in the Mediterranean for all us Sky Dancers to escape to: The island of long life – On the Greek island of Ikaria, life is sweet… and very, very long. So what is the locals’ secret?
BTW, did you see my man Samuel L Jackson and his latest video? Samuel L. Jackson Quitting Acting To Pursue A ‘Life Of Vigilantism’? | Mediaite
Samuel L. Jacksonsubmitted a challenge to the Reddit community this week. “It’s simple,” he wrote, “write 300 words and the most upvoted post I’ll read out loud in monologue form.” Today, Jackson posted the winning monologue video and it was just as “bad-ass” as promised.
“Hi, I’m Samuel L. Jackson,” he began, “I’m sorry to disappoint you, Reddit, but I’ve decided to break the rules of my own competition.” From there, the actor said he wanted to “speak to you all from my own heart, in my own words” before announcing that he was “quitting acting and pursuing a life of vigilantism.” Fortunately for fans of one of America’s most prolific actors, this was all part of the winning submission from Reddit user adiddy.
I love this mutha…
Jackson set up the unconventional contest to help raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, and revealed on Reddit that the campaign had raised over $130,000. Everyone who donated was entered to win lunch with Jackson and a trip to his UK celebrity golf tournament.
The whole thing almost got “derailed by the internet forum 4Chan”but here it is…
Whoa….ooooeeee, that dude is awesome.
Now for the animals.
Farmers shear an alpaca at a zoo in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, May 30, 2013…
Scrawny under all that fleece aren’t they. I just got one thing to say, that alpaca is not getting sheared by someone looking to spin the fiber into yarn. What a waste! Butcher of a job…
What a difference….those of you inclined to fiber fun, check out the video and watch these guys get sheared.
And see how the fiber is prepared:
Alright then, moving on to the penguins.
To greet African leaders arriving for conference in Japan, event organizers force group of Penguins to dress up in ‘African’ costumes …
And finally, meet Chris P. Bacon: The wheelchair pig
A Florida veterinarian who fashioned a wheelchair for his pet pig has just signed a three-book publishing deal on the life and adventures of his little friend he named Chris P. Bacon.
That’ll do pig. Oh he is so damn cute.
Geez, 3360 words later, short and sweet my ass!
That should keep everyone busy, now some of you will have storms to look out for today, so stay alert: Severe Weather Warnings Page
And if you are around, stop and leave a comment or two….have a wonderful day!
Good Late Afternoon!
Dakinikat is boarding a plane and heading home, take care Dak….we hope you have a safe and uneventful flight back to the Big Easy! (Damn, just got a text from Dak that the plane has issues…ugh.)
Connie/Ecocatwoman is back at home from the hospital, healing and doing fine….thank the Goddesses above.
NWLuna is celebrating some good health news….the Taa-Taas are fine! (I think we should be screaming it from the treetops…)
After a period of major life changes, Mona is back blogging with us on the Front Page and that little nugget of cheer makes me clap like a kid whose just been served a big Banana Split.
That is just a quick update on a few of the Sky Dancers, real life has given all of us a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs.
Have I left anyone out?
This is going to be a link dump round-up…
CNN is reporting that they have a Source: 2 ‘rogue’ workers behind IRS targeting of conservative groups
The Internal Revenue Service has identified two “rogue” employees in the agency’s Cincinnati office as being principally responsible for “overly aggressive” handling of requests by conservative groups for tax-exempt status, a congressional source told CNN.In a meeting on Capitol Hill, acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller described the employees as being “off the reservation,” according to the source. It was not clear precisely what the alleged behavior involved.
Business Insider points out The Attorney General’s Willful Ignorance Of The AP Phone Records Seizure Just Seems Ridiculous:Attorney General’s AP Phone Records
Under current law, the DOJ has the right to demand media phone records when the DOJ can’t obtain the desired information through other reasonable means. The DOJ even has the right to do this without telling the media organization in advance–if it thinks telling the media organization will threaten the integrity investigation.
If those two conditions were met in this case, the DOJ has nothing to worry about. But Americans certainly have every right to ask whether those two conditions were met. (And, then, to wonder whether giving the DOJ these rights is really in the country’s best interests).
But Attorney General Eric Holder is saying that those conditions were met.
That just seems ridiculous.
It’s not ridiculous that Eric Holder recused himself from the case. If he felt he needed to recuse himself, he should have recused himself.
What seems ridiculous is that he’s using his recusal as an excuse to say he knows nothing about the case.
Eric Holder runs the Justice Department. He can be recused from a case and yet still make inquiries about it to understand the decisions that were made in investigating it so he can explain these decisions to Congress.
Even if he’s not involved in a decision in his organization, that doesn’t stop him from being able to ask questions about it for the purpose of relaying this information to investigators.
Then there are the comparisons being made to Watergate: Obama’s Nixon moment
The Barack Obama administration finds itself under attack from both the left and the right this week as it struggles to deal with three major scandals: the news that the Department of Justice had staged an unprecedented raid on The Associated Press’ phone records; the revelation that the Internal Revenue Service has been targeting right-wing groups; and the ongoing fallout from the September attack in Benghazi, Libya.
It is the AP story that has most galvanized the media, threatening to disrupt the generally sympathetic coverage that the White House has enjoyed from large swaths of the press.
Everyone from CNN to Fox News took aim at the Justice Department for its wide-ranging subpoena of the AP’s phone records, thought to be an attempt to find the source of a leak regarding a foiled terrorism plot in Yemen on the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death.
Attorney General Eric Holder is due today to face tough questions on issues like the AP phone records affair by the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee.
But the grilling is already well under way.
This next story is beyond ridiculous…I will just give you the first paragraph, it is all you need: Accused Ohio kidnapper, Ariel Castro, ready to deny all charges
Not to be intimidated by the task ahead, the legal team defending Ariel Castro, the Ohio man accused of incarcerating and abusing three young women in his home for the best part of a decade, has asserted that he is no kind of “monster”, he dotes on the daughter born to one of his captives, Amanda Berry, and that he intends to plead not guilty to all the charges against him.
I don’t want to end on something as horrible as this…so here is a cartoon. Something funny. H/T Boston Boomer, who is babysitting her nephews today…
Well, what are you reading this
Happy Mother’s Day!
For this second half of our Sunday Reads, let’s take a look a variety of topics sandwiched between a couple of items about “Mutha’s Day.”
Years after she founded Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis was dining at the Tea Room at Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia. She saw they were offering a “Mother’s Day Salad.” She ordered the salad and when it was served, she stood up, dumped it on the floor, left the money to pay for it, and walked out in a huff. Jarvis had lost control of the holiday she helped create, and she was crushed by her belief that commercialism was destroying Mother’s Day.
Here is a little history of Anna Jarvis and Mother’s Day, in cartoon format, by Steve Brodner. Click on the cartoon to view larger image.
Makes that “Mother’s Day Salad” protest in the Tea Room at Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia all the more symbolic doesn’t it?
In a story that you may have missed last week: University of Montana agrees to reform handling of rape cases | Reuters
The University of Montana has agreed to reform how it responds to rape accusations following a year-long investigation by two U.S. government agencies into complaints such cases were mishandled, federal authorities and the school said on Thursday.
The U.S. departments of justice and education had probed allegations the university failed to aggressively pursue sexual assault and harassment reports, several of which involved football players.
The inquiries stemmed from reports that women on campus had been subjected to unfair treatment that infringed on their civil rights and violated constitutional bans on gender-based discrimination.
“What is noteworthy about this announcement today is not the problems our investigation found at the university, but a shared commitment to the equality of women students and their safety,” Roy Austin, deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said in a statement.
Jocelyn Samuels, the division’s principal deputy assistant attorney general, told a news conference that the set of agreements would provide a blueprint for reform for other campuses across the country as they address the “all too common problem of sexual assault and harassment of students.”
Blueprint? I should hope so. But after all this is 2013 and we are talking blueprints when it comes to the “all too common problem of sexual assault and harassment of students.” Seriously? It seems like bullshit to me when the day before this story was published on Reuters, the State Department was dealing with the actual “Blueprints” to make 3-D printed guns.
The State Department on Thursday ordered the nonprofit Defense Distributed to remove blueprints for the world’s first 3D-printed gun from its website.
“All such data should be removed from public access, the letter says. That might be an impossible standard. But we’ll do our part to remove it from our servers,” Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson told Forbes.
The department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance warned Wilson that posting the materials online could be a violation of export controls. The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) prohibits weapons manufactures from exporting technical data to foreign persons without authorization from the State Department.
“This means that all such data should be removed from public access immediately,” the Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance said.
The warning from the State Department came just days after Defense Distributed unveiled the blueprints for its plastic single-shot handgun, called the “Liberator.” The firearm can be created by anyone with the blueprints and access to a 3D printer. Defense Distributed also released nine other 3D-printable firearms components.
Well….I think I made my point.
Moving on now to this, Can You Generate Electricity From Plants? Science Says Yes | Geekosystem
Plants use energy from the Sun through photosynthesis, and humans use energy from the Sun through things like solar panels. A new technique created by researchers at the University of Georgia allows humans to get electricity from plants by hijacking the photosynthesis process. This research could someday lead to some very literal power plants.
Cool innit? Go to the link to check it out.
A few weeks ago, we lost a comic genius…Jonathan Winters. I have two articles written by Dick Cavett in the New York Times. Take a few minutes to read them when you can.
No more Jonathan Winters.
What did we do to deserve this?
I’m just antique enough to remember when Jonathan first hit. Or at least for me. It was the Jack Paar “Tonight Show” and no one had ever seen anything remotely like it.
A slightly chubby, amiable, Midwesternly looking man who could have been an accountant or a bus driver, nicely dressed in dark suit and tie, stepped out, a bit timorously, from behind the curtain and, on the spot and before our eyes, created a whole mad little world.
I remember once mentioning the name Jonathan Winters to Groucho Marx.
The reply: “There’s a giant talent.”
Now for some history links, this first one is more about something that is history in the making actually. First black woman named to Ga. Civil War Commission
The first black woman has been appointed to serve on Georgia’s Civil War Commission.
House Speaker David Ralston on Friday selected Inger Eberhart for the post.
The Acworth resident currently serves on the staff of Cobb County Commissioner JoAnn Birrell. She is on the board of advisers of the Dustin Inman Society, which advocates for stricter enforcement of state and federal laws related to immigration.
Oh…that explains it.
Anyway, more history goodies, in link dump fashion:
Held a virtual prisoner by the Bolsheviks months before his execution, Russia’s last Tsar Nicholas II pasted informal snapshots of his family into an album which has now come to light in a Russian provincial museum.
The photographs, most of which have never been seen before, show the last of the Romanov rulers of Russia without pomp and in unguarded moments. Many were taken by Nicholas II himself.
There are many informal photos…with penciled names and dates written on the backs.
World View: After the Great War, Britain and France carved up the Middle East between them. Now, plans for Syria have the same potential for disaster.
The “Great East Coast Cicada Sex Invasion of 2013” is upon us.
After 17 years of feeding and living under the earth’s surface, billions of “Brood II” cicadas will emerge this summer between Connecticut and Georgia, swarming in thick, forbidding billows of shed exoskeletons and raucous insect lovemaking. (To get an idea of what the cicada mating call sounds like, click here for audio.)
For all their physical creepiness and loud public sex orgies, the (actually completely harmless) bugs have a rich cultural history in the United States. Bob Dylan wrote a song about the cicadas, for instance. But cicadas also have a rich political history in this country. Here are their greatest hits…
The 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies begins this Thursday on the campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. I’m moderating a legal history panel on Thursday at 1:30, in Bernhard 106, called Law as Culture: Secular Punishment and Divine Retribution in Medieval Ireland (Panel 90). Here are the paper titles:
- Beheading, Hanging, and Being Drawn Asunder: Execution in Medieval Ireland
- Property Incursions and Punitive Irish Saints
- Divine Diversion: Divine Retribution as Dispute Resolution and the Norman Invasion of Ireland
H/T to Delphyne for this one: The Medieval and Early Modern Meme Menagerie, or, Grumpy Cat is a Time Lord
I think we’ve finally found a proper Late Medieval or Early Modern Grumpy Cat.
…And, yes, Grumpy Cat is a Time Lord.
I actually love the expression on this little guy….
2. Maxwell, Disapproving Rabbit:
Even before someone discovered the “disapproval face,” Disapproving Rabbit was already fed up with your shit.
Oh, that is sooooooo true!
On to Movie news…
This next link is here because of two things… first, the movie that is mentioned is about Shanghai Kate, the woman who did two of my tattoos back in 1999 and 2000 in NYC. And second, it makes me think of when movies started to use video tape, we had VCRs and Blockbusters. Then it went to DVDs and we had NetFlix and RedBox. Now it is Digital, we still have NetFlix but more and more companies are getting into the groove. Eventually we won’t have anything real to touch or feel…it will all be digital. And that kind of sucks. Los Angeles startup Yekra nets $3M for its digital movie distribution platform
Disney is doing it again: Merida From ‘Brave’ Gets An Unnecessary Makeover, Sparks Change.org Petition (PHOTO)
Merida, “Brave’s” red-headed heroine will be crowned Disney’s 11th princess on May 11. And just in time for her royal induction, the animated character has received a head-to-toe makeover — she’s thinner, her eyes are wider and … Is that miracle anti-frizz solution she’s using? What is going on!?
New Merida, left. Original Merida, right.
Last night, my kids went to see The Great Gatsby with a bunch of their friends. When they came back home after the show, I asked my daughter what she thought of the movie…this was her response.
It was okay, but there was like…no story to it?
Well, that about says it all, doesn’t it.
She laughed and said that when they first walked into the theater there was nothing but “old people” there, and she and her friends were worried that they may have made a mistake by going to see the movie in the first place.
“As I watched the trailer, I thought, ‘This is for 16-year-olds,’ ” she says. “All of this is about gearing this toward high school and college students who may not have any notion of who Fitzgerald was or what the book actually was.
“They’re not going to care too much about whether this is a well-done adaptation,” she adds. “They’re going to care about whether it’s a Hollywood blockbuster.”
Read the article I linked to, that quote is the last two sentences of the piece, but it fit so well with what my daughter said that I had to put it in here. She also said the music sucked, and my son said the entire thing was crap…well, except for the film quality. He said it was a very “crisp” film.
I really do think there are some books that should not be made into film. My favorite, John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, is a perfect example. There is just some things that are too detailed and involved to be parsed down into a 2 hour flick.
Well, I have one more Gatsby link for you, a solemn one. The Great Gatsby: F Scott Fitzgerald’s novels are read by millions, but he was buried in near anonymity
The bard of the Jazz Age shouldn’t be buried here. On a hillside in Hollywood perhaps, where he spent his last, unhappy years, or in glamorous downtown Manhattan – or even in Père Lachaise in Paris, the last resting place of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison, among other foreigners who sought inspiration or refuge in the City of Light. But not in the commercial suburbs of Washington DC, among office blocks and strip malls, in a cemetery wedged between a six-lane highway and a railway line.
That, though, is where you find the grave of F Scott Fitzgerald, at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Rockville, Maryland, an Exxon station visible from the spot where he lies. In the pre-car age Rockville must have been a small village in the countryside; the church itself dates from 1817, when America was barely 40 years old. Today, however, it is Anywhere, USA.
Boston Boomer linked to Ginsburg’s comments on Roe v Wade yesterday, oh-oh is right….I thought it should be put on the front page: Justice Ginsburg: Roe v. Wade not ‘woman-centered’ – chicagotribune.com
It’s easy to take the job description of motherhood for granted: Take care of your kids, in whatever way you can. The specifics, though, are a little trickier.
In fact, the meaning and duties of being a mom have undergone great upheaval just in the last century. Should moms work outside the home or stay with the kids full time? Does letting a baby cry scar it or strengthen it? Should moms be praised just for being moms?
The answers to these questions depend on the era in which they’re asked. Throughout U.S. history, moms have been exalted, demonized and exalted again. Their instincts have been questioned and ruled sacrosanct. And they’ve taken the most guilt upon themselves during periods where they spend the most time with their children.
Read on for five ways motherhood has changed in the United States.
So Happy Mother’s Day to you, and for everyone else…enjoy the rest of your Sunday!
Well, you have probably heard the news about the new pope….Cardinals Elect Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as New Pope.
The new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io), will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first non-European leader of the church in more than 1,200 years.
In choosing Francis, 76, who had been the archbishop of Buenos Aires, the cardinals sent a powerful message that the future of the church lies in the global south, home to the bulk of the world’s Catholics.
I don’t know about that global south statement, but I wonder if there any Catholic Church sex abuse trials going on in Argentina. Bergoglio was runner-up to Ratzinger in 2005…and he is a Jesuit…okay, enough of that.
You also may have heard about the shooting in Herkimer, New York: Four Killed in Shootings in Upstate New York
As firefighters made their way to battle the blaze, the police said, a man made his way to a barbershop at the heart of the village and then a carwash, about one mile away, in neighboring Herkimer, killing four people and wounding two others before fleeing and setting off a manhunt that still was unresolved by late afternoon.
Updates to this shooting can be found here.
And….here is the latest on the US Senate Democrat budget plan.
Annual U.S. deficits under a new plan from Senate Democrats would be in the $400-600 billion range for much of the next decade, a level they say would allow stronger near-term job growth than Republicans’ balanced-budget vision.
Full details of the plan released by House Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray on Wednesday showed that deficits would average 2.4 percent of U.S. economic output through 2023, a rate many economists view as sustainable.
U.S. deficits have exceeded $1 trillion during each of the past four years due largely to economic damage from the recent financial crisis. Under the assumptions used in Murray’s budget, the fiscal 2013 deficit is forecast at $891 billion, or 5.6 percent of gross domestic product.
The Democratic plan would add $5.2 trillion to U.S. public debt over the decade, pushing it above $18 trillion in 2023. As a share of a growing economy, however, the debt would decline gradually to 70.4 percent from 76.6 percent now.
The plan, given to Budget Committee members only after the panel opened debate on it, aims to shrink U.S. deficits by $1.85 billion over 10 years – including the replacement of about $960 billion in automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.
It adds $100 billion in new spending to rebuild roads, bridges, schools and workers’ job skills and prescribes $975 billion in spending cuts and $975 billion in new revenues from the elimination of tax deductions and loopholes that benefit the wealthy.
“The highest priority of our budget is to create the conditions for job creation, economic growth, and prosperity built from the middle out, not the top down,” Murray told the committee.
Blah, blah, blah….yada, yada, yada…I just don’t have the energy to comment on any of these news stories.
I will however end with this very cool discovery out of Africa: Ancient Chinese coin found on Kenyan island
A joint expedition of scientists led by Chapurukha M. Kusimba of The Field Museum and Sloan R. Williams of the University of Illinois at Chicago has unearthed a 600-year-old Chinese coin on the Kenyan island of Manda that shows trade existed between China and east Africa decades before European explorers set sail and changed the map of the world.
The coin, a small disk of copper and silver with a square hole in the center so it could be worn on a belt, is called “Yongle Tongbao” and was issued by Emperor Yongle who reigned from 1403-1425AD during the Ming Dynasty. The emperor’s name is written on the coin, making it easy to date. Emperor Yongle, who started construction of China’s Forbidden City, was interested in political and trade missions to the lands that ring the Indian Ocean and sent Admiral Zheng He, also known as Cheng Ho, to explore those shores.
“Zheng He was, in many ways, the Christopher Columbus of China,” said Dr. Kusimba, curator of African Anthropology at The Field Museum. “It’s wonderful to have a coin that may ultimately prove he came to Kenya,” he added.
Dr. Kusimba continued, “This finding is significant. We know Africa has always been connected to the rest of the world, but this coin opens a discussion about the relationship between China and Indian Ocean nations.”
Cue the “It’s a small world” music…well maybe we will just stick with Carmen Miranda.
This is an open thread.