Thursday Reads: Let’s Get Real Here!!

Good Morning!

Snake Handler Draping Rattlesnake on Congregation MemberI must be a political junkie because I certainly have the elections of fall 2014 on my mind. Democrats appear to be gaining some ground. I just can’t help but wonder how far right of bat shit crazy the Republican Party will go because it certainly seems that it’s gone far off the rails these days.  It seems odd that the party whose roots came from the civil war and the fight to preserve the union while ending slavery has switched to the party of sedition and oppression.

The problem is that so many billionaire donors–in a system that favors billionaire donors–have made sure that only those willing to sell their souls to them will get money.  It is also clear that only those pols that will sell their souls to the misogynistic, homophobic, religious crazies in this country will get the grass roots support.

How much more of this can the country take? Are the Republicans sounding a swan song or a death trumpet for our democracy? It is clear that the Republican Party has now established itself on a white identity that doesn’t even include all the white people in this country. Republicans are losing ground with Asians and Hispanics each election cycle. It isn’t because they don’t agree with some of their economic or even social positions.  It’s the racism, the xenophobia, the religious exclusivity, the homophobia, the misogyny, the anti-science bent, and the general tendency to hate all things not white and male. Larry Bartels at the WaPo:

working paper by Alexander Kuo, Neil Malhotra and (my Vanderbilt colleague) Cecilia Hyunjung Mo examines the basis of growing Democratic identification among Asian Americans. Among other analyses, they report the results of an experiment in which Asian American college students were randomly subjected to a seemingly incidental but carefully staged “microaggression”—having their U.S. citizenship questioned by the experimenter. This minor but socially charged interaction boosted Democratic partisanship by 13 percentage points,  a remarkable shift. (The corresponding effect among white students was only three percentage points.)

Asian Americans who experienced the insensitive questioning were also “more likely to view Republicans generally as closed-minded and ignorant” and to express more negative feelings toward them — despite the fact that Republicans were never mentioned by the experimenter or connected to the microagression. Thus, the authors’ findings “suggest that Asian Americans associate feelings of social exclusion based on their ethnic background with the Republican Party.”

Those folks are not homogeneous in that they have the same interests, aspirations, or even religions.  However, they all feel that there is a key holy-ghost-4demographic of white people that reject their claim to the identity of America and the American Dream.  I can’t help but wonder if the rest of the country is watching those states run by republicans and wondering wtf is going on?  Right now, in Baton Rouge,  our legislature is debating making one particular version of the bible the state book and what to do with alcohol infused ice cream. Why just this week I learned that Phyliss Schlafly thinks all women should be glad that men make more money because it makes women head straight for the altar.

Now three days later, a prominent member of the Republican movement further undermined the party’s campaign to appeal to women voters by suggesting that the current pay gap isn’t wide enough. In an op-ed published by the Christian Post, Phyllis Schlafly — the founder of the Eagle Forum — maintained that increasing the pay gap will help women find suitable husbands:

Another fact is the influence of hypergamy, which means that women typically choose a mate (husband or boyfriend) who earns more than she does. Men don’t have the same preference for a higher-earning mate.

While women prefer to HAVE a higher-earning partner, men generally prefer to BE the higher-earning partner in a relationship. This simple but profound difference between the sexes has powerful consequences for the so-called pay gap.

Suppose the pay gap between men and women were magically eliminated. If that happened, simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate.

Obviously, I’m not saying women won’t date or marry a lower-earning men, only that they probably prefer not to. If a higher-earning man is not available, many women are more likely not to marry at all. [...]

The best way to improve economic prospects for women is to improve job prospects for the men in their lives, even if that means increasing the so-called pay gap.

Schlafly has long been crusader for “traditional values” within conservative movement and the Republican party, serving as a member of the National GOP Platform Committee as recently as 2012 and as a delegate to the National Convention. Her Eagle Forum PAC has also donated thousands to prominent Republicans like Eric Cantor, Michele Bachmann, Steve King, and Ted Cruz.

e89905f1fc6212b814ac4221a08a1a8fThen, I found out that nullification can work downwards as well as upwards if you want to improve the lives of working people.  Big government is good as long as it’s used to stamp out the local efforts to improve people’s lives.

At a time when many states and cities are working at passing minimum wage increases, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) has gone in the opposite direction and signed a law banning cities from passing higher wages. The bill also bans them from enacting paid sick days or vacation requirements.

The law will stymie the efforts of activists in Oklahoma City, where a labor federation has led the push on a petition to raise the city’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The state’s current minimum has been set at the federal level of $7.25. In 2012, 64,000 workers in the state earned $7.25 an hour or less, making up 7.2 percent of all hourly workers, a larger share than the 4.7 percent figure for the country as a whole.

Fallin said she signed the bill out of the worry that higher local minimum wages “would drive businesses to other communities and states, and would raise prices for consumers.” She also argued that “most minimum wage workers are young, single people working part-time or entry level jobs” and that “many are high school or college students living with their parents in middle-class families.” She warned that increasing the minimum wage “would require businesses to fire many of those part-time workers” and harm job creation.

But that’s not what the typical American minimum wage worker looks like. Nearly 90 percent of workers who would be impacted by an increase in the wage are older than 20, while the average age is 35. More than a quarter have children to support. More than half work full time, and 44 percent have at least some college education, while half a million minimum wage workers are college graduates.

Meanwhile, experts have analyzed state minimum wage increases over two decades and found that even at times of high unemployment, there is no clear evidence that the hikes affected job creation. Five other studies have come to the same conclusion. The same has held true for the city of San Francisco, where employment grew by more than 5 percent after it passed a higher minimum wage while nearby counties experienced declines.

Oklahoma is not the only state to pass a blanket ban on raising the wage. Wisconsin lawmakers recently considered doing the same, and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R)signed a law that prevents local governments from requiring contractors to pay higher wages last year. According to Paul Sonn, general counsel and program director at the National Employment Law Project, a handful of mostly Republican-leaning states passed these kinds of bans about a decade ago, including Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Oregon, and Texas. But the states that are the most likely to see campaigns to raise minimum wages are not the ones that are likely to pass similar bans, he told ThinkProgress.

 And of course, we still have so much to discuss about the continual obsession with blastulas, and zygotes, and fetuses that are no where near viability. snake-handling

What is it about abortion that gives it such political staying power? One obvious answer it is that for opponents it is an issue of life and death. For pro-choice women, it is a question of personal autonomy and bodily integrity.

Take a look at the history of the fight for women’s rights, as argued by the feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon. In her 1989 book, “Toward a Feminist Theory of the State,” MacKinnon wrote, “male dominance is perhaps the most pervasive and tenacious system of power in history.” The goal of the feminist project, she argued six years earlier, “is to uncover and claim as valid the experience of women, the major content of which is the devalidation of women’s experience.”

Lisa Tuttle, in the “Encyclopedia of Feminism,” described reproductive freedom “as a basic human right, it includes the right to abortion and birth control, but implies much more. To be realized, reproductive freedom must include not only woman’s right to choose childbirth, abortion, sterilization or birth control, but also her right to make those choices freely, without pressure from individual men, doctors, governmental or religious authorities. It is a key issue for women, since without it the other freedoms we appear to have, such as the right to education, jobs and equal pay, may prove illusory.”

These thoughts are by no means the opinions of women only. In an effort to explore the politics of abortion rights I contacted a disparate group of contemporary experts.

While none of these theorists could be categorized as politically correct – if anything, some have been accused of just the opposite — all see the anti-abortion movement as driven in part by the determined effort to control the reproductive rights of women.

Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard, is no stranger tocriticism from feminists. In his book “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature,” Pinker wrote: “Feminism as a movement for political and social equity is important, but feminism as an academic clique committed to eccentric doctrines about human nature is not. Eliminating discrimination against women is important, but believing that women and men are born with indistinguishable minds is not. Freedom of choice is important, but ensuring that women make up exactly 50 percent of all professions is not. And eliminating sexual assaults is important, but advancing the theory that rapists are doing their part in a vast male conspiracy is not.”

When I asked Pinker in an email about abortion, however, his response was very much in line with the thinking of feminist theorists.

Abortion may “touch on a characteristic male obsession: controlling the sexuality of women,” he said, noting that in most traditional societies “a woman’s male relatives, and then her husband, will try to control her sexuality in a variety of ways: veils, wigs, clothing, chaperones, segregation by sex, chastity belts, engagement rings, terms of address (‘Mrs. John Smith’), ceremonies (as when a father gives away the bride to her husband), and laws that make a woman the property of her husband.”

These efforts, Pinker said, are driven, in part, by fears of “paternity uncertainty”: “The ultimate evolutionary reason is presumably to guarantee paternity, since a cuckolded man is in the worst imaginable evolutionary scenario: investing in the child, and hence the genes, of a rival man.”

Along similar lines, John Hibbing, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, who specializes in the study of how “biological variations mitigate the way in which individuals respond to politically relevant environmental occurrences,” argues that reproduction is both a core political issue and a core evolutionary issue.

Hibbing’s comment focused on themes consistent with Pinker’s: “Those most concerned with security and tradition tend to be politically conservative and those most open to new lifestyles and who are less focused on security will tend toward the political left. Issues of reproduction are likely to be at the core of the conflict between tradition and new lifestyles since these issues are about as basic as they come. Fundamentalism in some parts of the world is often driven by the desire of males to control reproductive opportunities. These issues form the evolutionary core.”

 We have one of the two major political parties showing signs of radical extremism and elements that are truly dangerous, and yet, no one pays tumblr_lxg6uvekLT1qapkmyo1_500attention.  I have written a lot about right wing terrorism and it grieves me to see that we saw yet another predictable incident in Kansas City. I can’t imagine what it feels for the folks who have been following this inside law enforcement and inside groups that truly fear these hate groups.  If you didn’t see this bit from Rachel Maddow, you should.  It sums up a lot of history that we’ve basically ignored since the 1980s.  There are some really dangerous, violent white men out there.

In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security concluded a years-long study of right-wing extremism in the U.S. and released a report saying that ultraconservative white nationalists and other extremists pose a much greater threat to U.S. citizens than Islamic terrorists from overseas.

Conservatives like Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh pitched a huge tantrum, accusing the Obama administration of staging an anti-conservative pogrom, even though the DHS study was commissioned by the Bush administration. In the end, the full study was never released, and the outcry forced DHS to divert resources away from U.S. extremists.

When authorities raided the apartment of deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, they found stacks of right-wing conspiracy theory newsletters, angry screeds against blacks, Jews and the New World Order.

“How weird is it to have Chechen-speaking Russian immigrant Muslim guys reading 9/11 ‘Truther’ conspiracies and ads for Nazi message boards while also espousing violent jihad and allegedly setting off bombs that killed Americans?” Maddow asked.

According to the New America Foundation, she said, since the 9/11 attacks, 21 people have been killed in the name of Islamic extremism in the U.S., whereas the number of people killed by right-wing extremists stands at 34 after the three deaths in Kansas.

Nevertheless, huge swaths of U.S. policy are dedicated to fighting Islamic terrorism abroad, “But when it comes to the proven and interconnected threat of the armed, American extreme right wing, we’re still treating every attack by them like a surprise, still treating those attackers like a lone wolf, regardless of however many letters you find between them,” regardless of the places where they talk to each other online, “regardless of the tide of evidence that these organizations exist and are operational.”

Why won’t the country at large acknowledge the real threat of right-wing extremism, she asked. “Should that change?”

129d41ccb95b927c789fadb0f7bff41d There is a huge movement made up of angry, armed, white men that is threatening the health and safety of a huge number of people.  They are not a majority of people and they are not a majority of white men.  But, they are central to maintaining the power structure right now and can run amok in white male privilege and get away with a lot more than any one else would.

At the heart of this murderous continuum are race and xenophobia (a fear of others) and a violent reaction to those fears. To many in the dominant culture, their America is changing. The “browning” of America has evoked a return and acceptance of the murderous continuum. Former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo best expressed this sentiment when he proclaimed: “I want my country back.”

Conceal Carry permits, Stand Your Ground laws and inept prosecutors are creating a climate that provides the Zimmermans and Dunns of the world with a license to kill as long as juries are predisposed to letting them do so.

As the American economy continues to contract and full-time, well-paying jobs become harder to find, the face of poverty in America is changing. The stereotypical “urban” or “black” poor have now become the “suburban” or white poor. According to CBS, “Hardship is particularly growing among whites, based on several measures . . . More than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line . . . accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation’s destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks.”

According to the Christian Science Monitor, “Suburbs are increasingly becoming the address of America’s poor. Suburban poverty across the country grew 53 percent between 2000 and 2010, more than twice the rate of urban poverty . . . ” Many of those newly poor suburbanites are white and many of them are angry, blaming people of color for their misfortunes, instead of directing their ire toward corporate greed, the outsourcing of factory jobs to overseas companies, and governmental policies that favor the wealthy.

 What is truly scary to me, is that this is a celebration of lawlessness. 

Local journalists covering Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s case stress he is no victim and is breaking the law, regardless of conservative media’s sympathy for his defiance of government orders to remove cattle from federal land.

Those reporters and editors — some who have been covering the case for 20 years — spoke with Media Mattersand said many of Bundy’s neighbors object to his failure to pay fees to have his cattle graze on the land near Mesquite, NV., when they pay similar fees themselves.

“We have interviewed neighbors and people in and around Mesquite and they have said that he is breaking the law,” said Chuck Meyernews director at CBS’ KXNT Radio in Las Vegas. “When it comes to the matter of the law, Mr. Bundy is clearly wrong.”

Bundy’s case dates back to 1993, when he stopped paying the fees required of local ranchers who use the federally owned land for their cattle and other animals. Local editors say more than 85 percent of Nevada land is owned by the federal government.

Bundy stopped paying fees on some 100,000 acres of land in 1993 and has defied numerous court orders, claiming the land should be controlled by Nevada and that the federal government has no authority over it.

Last year a federal court ordered Bundy to remove his cattle or they would be confiscated to pay the more than $1 million in fees and fines he’s accumulated. The confiscation began earlier this month, but was halted because the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had “serious concerns about the safety of employees and members of the public” when armed militia showed up to block the takeover.

Despite his lawlessness, Bundy has become a sympathetic figure for many in the right-wing media.

But for local journalists, many who have been reporting on him for decades, that image is very misguided.

“He clearly has captured national attention, among mostly conservative media who have portrayed him as a kind of a property rights, First Amendment, Second Amendment, range war kind of issue,” Meyer noted. “That’s how it has been framed, but the story goes back a lot longer and is pretty cut and dry as far as legal implications have been concerned.”

He added that, “Cliven Bundy and his supporters are engaged in a fight that has already been settled. There are a number of people around these parts who have strong reservations about Bundy’s actions.”

Las Vegas Sun Editorial Page Editor Matt Hufman said depicting Bundy as a victim is wrong.

In what is undoubtedly one of the worst stories I have read in years,  Police in California actually had GPS trackers on two serial killers/rapists who snake-handlerswent out then killed women while they were under surveillance. 

Two parolees raped and killed four women while wearing GPS trackers, and there may be more victims, a California police chief said.

Registered sex offenders Franc Cano, 27, and Steven Dean Gordon, 45, were both wearing ankle bracelets when the female victims were assaulted and killed last fall and earlier this year, Anaheim police Chief Raul Quezada said Monday at a news conference. The suspects were arrested on Friday and are each facing four felony counts of special circumstances murder and four felony counts of rape, reportsCBS Los Angeles.

The naked body of Jarrae Nykkole Estepp, 21, was found March 14 on a conveyor belt at an Anaheim trash-sorting plant. Quezada said it was the key to breaking the case, according to CBS Los Angeles. The probe led detectives to connect the two suspects to her slaying, and the disappearance of three women – Josephine Vargas, 34; Kianna Jackson, 20; and Martha Anaya, 28 – who frequented a Santa Ana neighborhood known for drug dealing and prostitution.

The Orange County Register reports that Cano and Gordon were convicted of lewd and lascivious acts on children under 14 years old. As a requirement of the convictions, both were required to wear GPS tracking bracelets.

Authorities at the news conference did not explain how Cano and Gordon allegedly managed to carry out the killings while under GPS supervision, but Quezada said data from the devices “was one of the investigative tools we used to put the case together.”

Our country spends billions of dollars tracking foreign terrorists who practice what is a minority religion in this country, while domestic grown terrorists who follow the majority religion appear to get a pass. Not only do they get a pass, they get enabled by the likes of Schafly and other Republican Politicos and financed by John Birchers like the Koch Brothers who now have a hand picked Supreme Court.

I’m really getting tired of reading and writing about this stuff.  Are there only a few of us that really see the connections here between the nullification efforts and the neoconfederate longings of folks like the Pauls and their droogies?  Are there only a few of us that object to the racism, the homophobia, and the misogyny of these folks?  It doesn’t seem so if you read polls and if you see the demographics.  But, damn, getting rid of the entrenched group that benefits from all the damage they’ve done over the years is just getting more difficult all the time.   I cannot wait to upload a Youtube of myself Dancing On Their GRAVES.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Tuesday Reads

renoir-young-girl-reading

 

Good Morning!!

Today is the 40th anniversary of an amazing athletic accomplishment.

On April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run and broke Babe Ruth’s “unbreakable” record of 714.

Sadly, on August 7, 2007, steroid popping cheater Barry Bonds supposedly “broke” Aaron’s record. But in the minds of many, Aaron’s amazing achievement still stands as the one that counts.

The NY Daily News has a wonderful article about Aaron’s record and the hell he went through to reach it. Even if you don’t like baseball, I hope you’ll read it.

Remembering 715: Forty years ago, Hank Aaron rocked bias and hatred with one mighty blow.

Tom House, an Atlanta Braves reliever at the time, tells about recovering the historic ball and giving it to Aaron after he touched home plate:

The game was stopped and, as fireworks flashed in the sky and Atlanta Stadium erupted into cheers, House made a jubilant dash toward home plate, where a relieved Aaron was being congratulated. “As fast as my legs would carry me,” House recalls. He held out the ball, which Sammy Davis Jr. had offered $25,000 for, and said, “Here it is, Hammer.”

Aaron, generally a portrait of quiet dignity and grace, was crying and holding his mother, Estella. “I had not seen much emotion out of Henry. That was cool,” House says now. “They both had tears in their eyes. She kept hugging him and hugging him.

“I heard later that she wouldn’t let go because she was afraid he was going to get shot. Some of the death threats had said he’d be shot at the plate.”

Hank Aaron hits No. 715 off Dodgers pitcher Al Downing on April 8, 1974 (NY Daily News)

Hank Aaron hits No. 715 off Dodgers pitcher Al Downing on April 8, 1974 (NY Daily News)

When Roger Maris broke the Babe’s single season home run record in 1961, it was a hellish experience for Maris. The abuse he endured forever changed his life and affected his outlook; but at least Maris was white. Aaron was a black man in an era of racial turmoil.

It remains an important moment in the game’s history not just because the quiet, dignified Aaron toppled Ruth’s 714, which was probably the most famous single number in sports. But because of what Aaron endured to get there — death threats, vulgar hate mail rife with the worst kind of racism imaginable.

All these years later, the home run is significant in another way, too — it reverberates in today’s game, among today’s statistics. Plenty of people believe Aaron is still the true home run king, not the Steroid Era Barry Bonds, who topped Aaron’s career mark of 755 by seven homers.

As he approached the record Aaron was getting daily hate mail.

In a UPI story that ran in the Los Angeles Times on May 17, 1973, Aaron said he got letters filled with invective every day.

“If I were a white man, all America would be proud of me,” Aaron was quoted as saying. “But I’m black. You have to be black in America to know how sick some people are. I’ve always thought racism a problem, even with as much progress as America has made.”

Aaron said he read the mail anyway. It wasn’t going to stop him.

There’s much more in the Daily News article, and I do hope you’ll go read it.

At Time, John Friedman argues that “Hank Aaron Would Have Faced Worse Racism Today.”

Henry Aaron’s record-setting 715th home run off Al Downing on April 8, 1974 still stands today as one of the greatest milestones in Major League Baseball history. By breaking the four-decade mark of the great Babe Ruth, Aaron strode out of the shadows – and stepped into a cauldron.

This accomplishment transcended sports. By his own accounts over the years, we can recognize that Aaron went through hell during that time. It was tough enough when reporters and camera crews chronicled his every at-bat and invaded his privacy. But that was the least of it. Here, a black man stood poised—while playing in the Deep South, to boot—to claim one of the sports world’s most storied marks. Bigots hounded Aaron and made his life miserable, at a time when he should have basked in the glow of both his historic achievement and the recognition that had eluded him for decades.

Still, you know what? We might conclude that Aaron got off easy four decades ago, long before social media dominated every facet of our lives and removed any shred of privacy.

Just try to imagine how much more intense and challenging his predicament would have been. Can you picture the potential for incessant racist taunts on Facebook and Twitter, not to mention the blogosphere? In the 1970s, the haters reached Aaron by what we call “snail mail.” Today, in our sped-up-world of modern communications, Aaron would have had no escape.

Is Friedman right? I hate to think so, but after what we’ve seen after Americans elected a black president, I have to wonder.

The situation in Ukraine continues to escalate. 

Pro-Russia protesters burn tires near a regional administration building in Kharkiv in a back-and-forth clash with riot police for control of the building. (Oleg Shishkov, EPA / April 7, 2014)

Pro-Russia protesters burn tires near a regional administration building in Kharkiv in a back-and-forth clash with riot police for control of the building. (Oleg Shishkov, EPA / April 7, 2014)

The LA Times reports, Ukraine cracks down on demonstrators; Russia issues warning.

Ukrainian riot police cleared a regional administration building and public square in the eastern city of Kharkiv of hundreds of pro-Russia protesters Tuesday morning, detaining scores in the process, officials said.

“Seventy criminals were taken into custody during the operation,” Ukraine acting President Olexandr Turchinov told the parliament in televised remarks Tuesday morning.

In response, Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a stern warning against the use of force on pro-Russia protesters in eastern Ukraine and alleged the direct involvement of private U.S. military experts.

“According to our information, Ukraine Interior Ministry and National Guard troops including militants of the illegal armed group the Right Sectort are being brought to the southeast regions of Ukraine,” read a statement posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official website Tuesday. “A special concern is connected with the fact that abot 150 U.S. experts from the private military organization Greystone dressed in the uniforms of [Ukraine] special unit Sokol are involved in the operation.”

“The organizers and participants in the operation are assuming huge responsibility for the creation of threats to rights, freedoms and lives of peaceful residents of Ukraine,” the statement said.

It really doesn’t look like Russian president Vladimir Putin is going to stop with absorbing Crimea into Russia. From the Wall Street Journal this morning: Ukraine Could Be Plunged into Civil War, Warns Russia — Update.

Ukrainian police on Tuesday regained control of a government building occupied by pro-Kremlin separatists in one volatile eastern city as pro-Russian protesters in another appeared to be slipping into disarray.

As Ukraine’s new government pushed to show its authority in the region, Russia warned that the use of force to dislodge demonstrators who had taken over government offices could plunge the country into civil war.

Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of instigating the protests that began Sunday in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk, suggesting that their powerful neighbor is trying to orchestrate a takeover similar to its incursion and annexation of Crimea. They have vowed to subdue the secessionists.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Tuesday morning that an “antiterrorist” operation had been launched in Kharkiv and around 70 separatists who had control of the regional administration building had been arrested.

He said roughly 200 pro-Russian agitators had barricaded themselves inside overnight and threw stun grenades and fired pellet guns at police and national guard officers who had surrounded the building. He said the protesters then set fire to a wing of the building and smashed windows. After the fire was contained, Mr. Avakov said special forces units stormed the building, made the arrests and seized a cache of weapons.

“The night in Kharkiv was endlessly long,” he said. “The boorish, brutal, ordered and generously paid pro-Russian aggression of the ‘protesters’ was off the charts.”

Mr. Avakov said that the Interior Ministry was moving more forces to the east of Ukraine to protect against further separatist activity.

But Russia’s foreign ministry threatened that any heavy-handed action by Ukrainian authorities could set off further violence.

If you’d like to read an in-depth analysis of the situation, check out this blog post by Prof. John Schindler of the Naval War College, Putinism and the Anti-WEIRD Coalition.

Cornelius Gurlitt

Cornelius Gurlitt

Awhile back I wrote about the discovery of a huge collection of art works

that had been found in Germany, many of which had likely been stolen by the Nazis during WWII. Now even more stolen art works have come to light, according to this article at Raw Story: German recluse’s ‘Nazi art trove’ much bigger than first thought.

Around another 60 artworks, including pieces by Monet and Renoir, have come to light at the Austrian home of an elderly German recluse whose earlier discovered art hoard is suspected to contain Nazi-looted works.

The latest pieces were found at the property in Salzburg belonging to Cornelius Gurlitt, his spokesman said Tuesday, just months after the art world was rocked by news of a spectacular trove of more than 1,400 works unearthed at his German home in 2012.

A first inspection indicates there is no Nazi loot — artwork that the fascist regime stole from Jewish owners or bought from them cheaply under duress — in the latest discovery, spokesman Stephan Holzinger said.

“More works were located in Cornelius Gurlitt’s house in Salzburg,” he said in a statement….

The Gurlitt case first made headlines late last year when it emerged that investigators had found more than 1,400 artworks in his Munich flat, including long-lost works by masters including Matisse and Chagall.

Gurlitt is now cooperating with authorities and has agreed to return any stolen pieces. From the Times of Israel:

Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand, was an art dealer on assignment to the Nazis who died in 1956 in an accident; his son inherited the collection. In 2012, customs agents investigating Cornelius Gurlitt for tax evasion confiscated his Munich stash of some 1,400 works.

The existence of the collection — which includes works by artists such as Picasso, Dürer, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Beckmann and Matisse – was kept under wraps until Focus magazine broke the story last fall.

Spurred by art provenance researchers and restitution advocates around the world, Germany established a task force to deal specifically with the Gurlitt case. It includes experts recommended by the Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, among others.

In the meantime, works collected by the elder Gurlitt also were found to be stashed in his son’s home in Salzburg, Austria, as well as in other locations in Austria and Switzerland.

Gurlitt, 81, has maintained that his collection is legitimate. Earlier this year, his attorneys publicized a new website where possible heirs could contact him.

Yesterday The Smoking Gun broke a surprising story about activist and MSNBC host Al Sharpton.

Rev. Al Sharpton with President Obama

Rev. Al Sharpton with President Obama

Al Sharpton’s Secret Work As FBI Informant: Untold story of how activist once aided probes of NYC wiseguys

Beginning in the mid-1980s and spanning several years, Sharpton’s cooperation was fraught with danger since the FBI’s principal targets were leaders of the Genovese crime family, the country’s largest and most feared Mafia outfit. In addition to aiding the FBI/NYPD task force, which was known as the “Genovese squad,” Sharpton’s cooperation extended to several other investigative agencies.

TSG’s account of Sharpton’s secret life as “CI-7” is based on hundreds of pages of confidential FBI affidavits, documents released by the bureau in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, court records, and extensive interviews with six members of the Genovese squad, as well as other law enforcement officials to whom the activist provided assistance.

Like almost every other FBI informant, Sharpton was solely an information source. The parameters of his cooperation did not include Sharpton ever surfacing publicly or testifying on a witness stand.

Genovese squad investigators–representing both the FBI and NYPD–recalled how Sharpton, now 59, deftly extracted information from wiseguys. In fact, one Gambino crime family figure became so comfortable with the protest leader that he spoke openly–during ten wired face-to-face meetings–about a wide range of mob business, from shylocking and extortions to death threats and the sanity of Vincent “Chin” Gigante, the Genovese boss who long feigned mental illness in a bid to deflect law enforcement scrutiny. As the mafioso expounded on these topics, Sharpton’s briefcase–a specially customized Hartmann model–recorded his every word.

Sharpton told Politico that he wasn’t technically an informant. He had turned to authorities for help because of threats against him.

“I was never told I was an informant or I had a number or none of that,” the MSNBC host told the New York Daily News. “Whether or not they used some of the other information they got during that period for other purposes, I don’t know.”

The paper reported that Sharpton said he contacted authorities after receiving death threats.

“If you’re a victim of a threat, you’re not an informant — you’re a victim trying to protect yourself,” Sharpton said.

Sharpton also noted that this isn’t breaking news; it has been reported more than once in the past.

“I don’t see this as news,” Sharpton told FoxNews.com. “This has been brought up three or four times now. I don’t understand. It’s crazy.”

The New York Daily News also has a lengthy write-up of the story if you want more details.

Those are the stories that caught my eye today. What are you reading and hearing? Please post your links in the comment thread, and have a great Tuesday!


Sunday Reads: Standards…for ratf#cks and a$$holes.

Good Housekeeping Cover June 1955

Good Housekeeping Cover June 1955

Good Morning

<——–  Girls. Yes, their cause and cure?

My internet is really slow tonight, so much that I am just going to put up a few of the links that I had saved up for this morning. Hopefully the net will be working faster for me here in Banjoville, and another longer post will be up later in the afternoon.

(It is frustrating as hell.)

Anyway, I thought a few stories highlighting some assholes, and their ridiculous “standards” they hold themselves to.384e62840ab8dfb5165ac0ae3e46838f

For instance…

The PLUB dimwits in my state went and kicked out one of the main pro-life groups evah…because=rape and incest.  National organization boots Georgia Right to Life | Political Insider blog

This just in: National Right to Life has named Georgia Life Alliance as its new state affiliate. That means Georgia Right to Life is out.

The challenge came as a result of GRTL’s fierce opposition to allowing abortion exceptions for rape and incest.

You can read the full press release at the link. I mean…WTF?

Then there are the Jesus freaks, freaking out about the movie Noah. Click the link to see the tweets. I don’t want any crazy’s making their way here.  ‘Noah’: Twitter conservatives outraged that film deviates from Bible’s original English | The Raw Story

Devout Christians are up in arms this morning about Darren Aronofsky’s film Noah, despite the fact that the majority of them haven’t seen it.

[...]

Aronofsky’s script deviates from the biblical account, and many on Twitter are happy to point the curious to the “real” story:

Many churches have encouraged their congregants to retweet the following, line breaks be damned!

‘Noah’- Twitter conservatives outraged that film deviates from Bible’s original English - The Raw Story 2014-03-30 02-39-40

[...]

Kevin McCarthy informs Brian Kilmeade of Fox News viewers’ worst nightmare: “the movie is not a documentary,” meaning the fact checkers will be out in full-force:

‘Noah’- Twitter conservatives outraged that film deviates from Bible’s original English - The Raw Story 2014-03-30 02-40-28

 

74d2108e3bbb8f4ef39c0f61ea309e67These people are crazy.

Conservative film critic Debbie Schlussel — who has actually seen the film — wrote that the film should be called “‘Game of Thrones Noah,’ ‘The Noah-dashians,’ ‘Dysfunctional Family Noah.’ Or just plain, ‘NOT Noah.’”

Erick Erickson at Red State surveyed all of the deviations from scripture, declared “boy howdy!” and then proceeded to remind his readers that he “is not kidding” eleven times.

We are not kidding.

Yup, I’ll say it again. These people are batshit crazy. And I ain’t kidding.5a6845686525c255d8336d8b71711060

But don’t get me wrong, there are those who take their beliefs to another level. A higher level…Fmr. Adult Film Star Kicked Out of Neo-Nazi Political Party for Doing Mixed-Race Porno | Mediaite

It’s an odd leap, going from porn to the Neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany, but German actress Ina Groll managed to do it. And the Neo-Nazis very much embraced her and welcomed her into the movement, knowing full well she used to do porn. But it’s who she did porn with that landed her in warmwasser.

Groll has been very vocal about her disdain for the Islamization of Europe, immigrants, and gypsies, and so she was embraced by a group that mostly consists of burly, bald white dudes.

There’s just one problem: some of these burly, bald white dudes checked out her previous work, and they were none too happy 5dcb58bb0cc71457ba3ca1ac1f4f6468with what they saw.

The fact that she starred in porn movies didn’t seem to bother NPD members very much; what upset them was the fact that in one of those movies, she had sex with a black man…

“Someone who sleeps with a foreign race in front of the camera can’t advance the nationalist ideology,” one activist wrote on a far-right Facebook page. Others, naturally, used blunter language.

As a result, Groll was essentially kicked out of the party and barred from attending any group events.

When I saw this it made me laugh like hell…oh, if only the black man she had sex with was also Jewish. Hmmm…What do you think the ratfucks would have thought about that?

In other news, tacky but not Hitleresque: Self Magazine Shames Cancer Survivor For Running Marathon In A ‘Lame’ Tutu

When Monika Allen, a brain cancer survivor, got an email from Self magazine asking if it could feature a photo of her running a marathon, she couldn’t have been more excited. That was until she learned the magazine mocked her frilly costume.

While undergoing chemotherapy last year, Allen decided to run the Los Angeles Marathon and to wear a particularly motivating outfit, NBC 7 reported. The avid exerciser donned a Wonder Woman costume and paired it with a tutu, a product she makes and sells. Her company, Glam Runner, also raises funds for a charity that empowers young girls.

self cancer survivor

So when Allen got the message that Self magazine was interested in printing a photo of her from the race, she enthusiastically agreed.

But when that photo landed in the magazine’s April issue, Allen was “shocked,” according to her company’s Facebook page.

The photo of Allen was featured in the issue’s “BS Meter,” which denigrated the trend of runners racing in tutus, and placed the fad in the “lame” column.

86fedc4cd9fca21dd6c38002b6e86a6a“A racing tutu epidemic has struck NYC’s Central Park, and it’s all because people think these froufrou skirts make you run faster,” the column reads. “Now, if you told us they made people run from you faster, maybe we would believe it.”

Assholes…

Allen told NBC that she had no idea that she was going to be made fun of and never would’ve agreed to releasing the photo if she had known how it was going to be used.

That particular race was personal on a couple of levels: It was her first marathon since getting diagnosed, and it was a way for her to celebrate her charitable efforts.

Since starting Glam Runner in 2011, Allen has produced about 2,000 tutus and has donated $5,600 to Girls on the Run — a nonprofit that has a 12-week training program for girls ages 8-13 to prepare for a 5K race.

When Self learned of the snafu, it expressed regret.

“I am personally mortified,” Lucy Danziger, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, told USA Today. “I had no idea that Monika had been through cancer. It was an error. It was a stupid mistake. We shouldn’t have run the item.”

She also told the outlet that she is personally reaching out to Allen and plans to support her charity.

74cb4b182daf0bf92d9667780e82387c WILD CO-EDS -- Sadie Wendell Mitchell “Wee Sma’ Hours”, 1909 Poster showing three women cooking and eating in a (college dorm) bedroom, displaying “No Smoking” and “Silence” siI don’t know if supporters of Allen are going to forgive Self so easily…this has caused a bit of nastiness all over the webs. But maybe Lucy Danziger needs to pull a politician move. You know the ones that are usually used by the idiots who make idiot remarks, tweets, facebook post, statements, ugh…etc.

Another person who needs to shut the fuck up…and stop writing shit on her GOOP blog, is Gwynyth Paltrow. Honestly, the woman needs to go away…into hiding. Now.  Gwyneth Paltrow’s Post-Split Plans: Actress Reveals She’s Taking a Break From Acting to Focus on Her Kids | E! Online

That latest crapola from Gwyneth was soooo bad that it warranted a response from someone whose letter was published in the New York Post…you need to read in full.

A working mom’s open letter to Gwyneth  By Mackenzie Dawson| New York Post

Dear Gwyneth,

I really enjoyed your recent comments to E! about how easy an office job is for parents, compared to the grueling circumstances of being on a movie set. “I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home c6344b1c253cb38ea080ff2f093903a2 Poster by Sadie Wendell Mitchell, 1909.in the evening,” you said. “When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, ‘We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,’ and then you work 14 hours a day, and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.”

As a mother of a toddler, I couldn’t agree more!

“Thank God I don’t make millions filming one movie per year” is what I say to myself pretty much every morning as I wait on a windy Metro-North platform, about to begin my 45-minute commute into the city. Whenever things get rough, all I have to do is keep reminding myself of that fact. It is my mantra.

And I know all my fellow working-mom friends feel the same. Am I right, ladies?

We’re always gabbing about how easy it is to balance work and home life. Whenever I meet with them at one of our weekly get-togethers — a breeze to schedule, because reliable baby sitters often roam my neighborhood in packs, holding up signs peddling their services — we have a competition to see who has it easier. Is it the female breadwinners who work around 93a4321ef9a623e66b20c0649b2fbcb9the clock to make sure their mortgages get paid, lying awake at night, wracked with anxiety over the idea of losing their jobs? Or is it the mothers who get mommy-tracked and denied promotions? What about the moms with “regular” 9-to-5 jobs, who are penalized when their kids are sick and they don’t have backup child care?

Those women are living the dream, I tell you!

The letter gets better, so go read the damn thing…perfect is what it is, and puts Paltrow in her place.

Finally, did y’all see the picture of Ratzilla, the 16-Inch “Rat From Hell,” Finally Captured in Sweden

 

Ratzilla, the big ass rat that terrorized a Swedish family for weeks, is finally dead.

rym5ethl2cadffoxwzii

Erik Korsas and his family first realized they had a problem when their pet cat refused to enter their kitchen. “We thought it could be a little mouse, but after a while we figured it couldn’t be because it was making too much noise,” Korsas’ wife, Signe Bengtsson, told The Local.

Several days later she spotted a giant rat eating from her garbage can.

“It was right there in our rubbish bin, a mighty monster. I was petrified. I couldn’t believe such a big rat could exist,” she said. “I couldn’t help but do the old classic and jump on the kitchen table and scream.”

She called her husband, who was away on a business trip. “When my wife called I said ‘Yeah, sure, take it easy, I’ll be home on Sunday. But by then it had jumped into the waste bin and had a Swedish smörgåsbord with all the leftovers,” he said.

For days, the family lived in horror, stomping loudly when they entered the kitchen to scare the hell rodent away.tkhvzdjseaqxgu6nkqfj

“By the time I got home, the rat was so domesticated that it just sat under the kitchen table,” Korsas said.

How big was Ratzilla?

Korsas measured its body at 39 cm, or nearly 16 inches, not including the tail. He believes it reached the kitchen by gnawing through the wood and cement floor.

 

“It was quite a shocking experience,” Bengtsson said in summary. “No one wanted to go into the kitchen after, and the cat was terrified for a week. The pest controllers said they’d never seen such a big rat before.”

 

Damn….that is one huge mutthafukkin rat….

(Oh, I had another link that connected to ratzilla vis-à-vis Godzilla…I will post it here guess this post is not finished after all.)

And now, our last “reads” of the day, from the TCM blog moviemorlocks.com – Shinichi Sekizawa: the guy behind the man in the suit

SeaMonsterGodzilla

One of the things about being known as “the guy that wrote that book about Godzilla,” is that when something like this new Godzilla movie comes along, everyone assumes that’s what you want to talk about.  The fact is, I’ve written more words and spoken on more total audio commentary tracks regarding silent and early talkie comedy, but Godzilla made my name.  And with TCM’s screening of the 1954 original today, and the Bryan Cranston version on its way, I guess I have to live up to that name.

Well, the new film certainly looks well-made and serious, and I expect it will be as dramatic and intense as the trailer suggests.  It certainly strains no one’s credulity to claim that the original 1954 Godzilla movie is also serious and intense, an allegory about Japan’s experience with nuclear horror.  It is not subtext, it is plainly text, with nothing sub- about it.  Thinly disguised images of and openly direct references to the firebombings of Tokyo, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Lucky Dragon incident are spread liberally throughout the film.

But… that isn’t Godzilla, not my Godzilla.  Godzilla may have originated in austere political metaphor, but he was popularized as a rubber-suited superhero.  He dances happy jigs, imitates rock stars, acts like a wrestler, talks with his pals, sometimes even flies—all while saving the Earth from such menaces as a monster made of living pollution, a ginormous bionic cockroach, or even a giant killer rose.

To pretend that Godzilla movies did not veer into absurdity and rampant silliness is futile.  The filmmakers admitted it themselves—with screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa a chief architect of this change in direction.

Please enjoy that little history lesson on Godzilla, and hopefully I can get another post up later this afternoon. Doesn’t Godzilla look like he is smelling his finger ala Beavis?

033020141697g

 

Otherwise, have a wonderful day and please share your thoughts and links in the comments below.


Sunday Reads: NY Underground Library and GOP Aboveground Dumbassery

“A Confederacy of Dunces,” by John Kennedy Toole  Found on undergroundnewyorkpubliclibrary.com

“A Confederacy of Dunces,” by John Kennedy Toole
Found on undergroundnewyorkpubliclibrary.com

Good Morning

Well, perhaps “dumbassery” is being a little forgiving, since dumbass is not what I would call the two GOP examples below…more like assholes, yeah that is it.

But I don’t think “assholery” would have passed as part of the title so, there it is.

This tweet from CPAC should set the mood…

Aaaaand it goes down from there…one person who should be in attendance at that minority seminar: Conservative leader caught on live mic: ‘The Jews are the problem’ | The Raw Story

The sun also risesLt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (retired), the executive vice president of the conservative Family Research Council, was caught on a “hot mic” on Thursday joking that “the Jews are the problem” to an Israeli reporter and pitching his theory about President Barack Obama using “subliminal messages” to signal support for al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, in audio posted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Friday.

“If you understand anything about Islam, there are subliminal messages,” Boykin can be heard saying. “His message, really, I believe was, ‘I understand you, and I support you.’”

Boykin’s remarks were captured after an online broadcast of a panel at the National Security Action Summit. The SPLC reported that the event is held as a counter to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and features speakers who, like Boykin, have not been allowed to participate there.

(Emphasis mine.) Guess even CPAC has some kind of standards.

Though the panel’s video feed shut down, the audio continued broadcasting, enabling Boykin to be heard as he argued that, as a result of the “messages,” al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood saw that “that they have a president that identifies with them, that has been supportive of them inside the United States and is unwilling to go against them.”

Politics, by Aristotle

Politics, by Aristotle

According to the SPLC, Boykin was then approached by someone about doing an interview with Henry Schwartz, a reporter for Israel National News, described as a “right-wing” publication.

“The Jews are the problem,” Boykin can be heard saying. “The Jews are the cause of all the problems in the world.” An unidentified person responds, “I know, I know, that’s why we’re trying to fix everything.”

The event’s organizer, Frank Gaffney, has accused CPAC’s organizers, the American Conservative Union, of having ties to the Brotherhood.

I don’t know, this guy Boykin must be best friends with Mel Gibson?

Video at the link.

ae13b01b6e12ff25d414621f27d11012After something like that, we need to laugh. So take a look at this asshole, who gets the Aasif Mandvi treatment: ‘Fox Business’ Commentator Tells ‘Daily Show’ Correspondent, ‘If You’re Poor, Stop Being Poor’

After watching Aasif Mandvi’s segment on Thursday’s “Daily Show,” two things are clear: 1) America has the greatest healthcare system in the world (if 37th place is considered the greatest), and 2) some people shouldn’t do interviews with “Daily Show” correspondents.

Case in point, “Fox Business” commentator and NYSE Euronext Managing Director Todd Wilemon has a couple of jaw-dropping moments in this interview about “third world” healthcare conditions in Knoxville, Tennessee, not the least of which is his statement right at the end: “If you’re poor, stop being poor.”

Watch the clip above, and keep an eye out for one of the more awkward pauses in “Daily Show” history.

d6a9e3c9b62fb551c524a5ed16bf2c0fI wish I could embed the video, so please go and watch it in full. It is one of the best things Aasif has done on the show.

You can also see the video here: Third World Health Care – Knoxville, Tennessee Edition – The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – 03/06/14 – Video Clip | Comedy Central

By the way, pictures for today are from the blog Underground New York Public Library…which is not affiliated by the New York Public Library.

The Underground New York Public Library is a visual library featuring the Reading-Riders of the NYC subways.

The photos come together as a visual library. This library freely lends out a reminder that we’re capable of traveling to great depths within ourselves and as a whole.

99e203208cf3f7fe5b77338200433041The blog work is done by Ourit Ben-Haim who says he:

…make the pictures and the posts. I’m fascinated by how we apply ourselves to stories and discourse. In so doing, we shape who we understand ourselves to be.

What a neat site to lose yourself in…enjoy it.

On Friday, Dak had a fabulous post about New Orleans…well, this next link is about the latest fashion “craze” is a perfect complement. In fact, I am sure those folks singing the traditional ‘shallow water, your mama,’ song were wearing the #normcore look and Dak must see the “mallclothes”  “’90s-era dads” “anonymous” style as these young urbanites look for kale in that “Chocolate City.” (Ugh…yeah, I could not help myself. 10 years ago, wow.)

4b28b9667fa6f80f8bca0343bad70d63What is #normcore and Why Has it Taken Over the Internet?

You may have noticed a new hashtag invading the internet this week: #normcore. It has everyone dusting off their stonewashed jeans and athletic socks and hopping on the bandwagon.

But just what is normcore exactly? In short: it’s a trend of young urbanites dressing like bland ’90s-era dads. Articles of clothing involved include athletic shorts, New Balance sneakers and fleece zip-ups. Basically, anything that will allow you to stand out by looking anonymous.

Nothing is more sexy than looking like a 90′s dad.

Why is normcore a thing? It seems to be a way for adherents to counteract stereotypes by dressing mundanely in order to stand out. Theories abound regarding why millennials are attracted to the trend, but the prevailing theory suggests that it’s a way for them to reject the idea of “buying in” to a particular style.

Basically, dressing like your parents did 20 years ago is cooler than shelling out money to assume another identity. Of course, it only works if you’re doing it on purpose.

Seriously, look at the tweets from this fashion twitter The Cut New York Magazine:

Here is the actual article: Normcore: Fashion for Those Who Realize They’re One in 7 Billion – The Cut

K-HOLE describes normcore as a theory rather than a look; but in practice, the contemporary normcore styles I’ve seen have their clear aesthetic precedent in the nineties. The editorials in Hot and Cool look a lot like Corinne Day styling newcomer Kate Moss in Birkenstocks in 1990, or like Art Club 2000′s appropriation of madras from the Gap, like grunge-lite and Calvin Klein minimalism. But while (in their original incarnation) those styles reflected anxiety around “selling out,” today’s version is more ambivalent toward its market reality. Normcore isn’t about rebelling against or giving into the status quo; it’s about letting go of the need to look distinctive, to make time for something new.

The demographic leading the normcore trend is, by and large, Western Millennials and digital natives. Stylist-editors like Hot and Cool’s Alice Goddard and Garmento’s Jeremy Lewis are children of the nineties, teens of the aughts. The aesthetic return to styles they would’ve worn as kids reads like a reset button—going back to a time before adolescence, before we learned to differentiate identity through dress. The Internet and globalization have challenged the myth of individuality (we are all one in 7 billion), while making connecting with others easier than ever. Normcore is a blank slate and open mind—it’s a look designed to play well with others.

And what is more disgusting? Check out the price of these shorts…and t-shirt.

Dolce & Gabbana Regular-Fit Washed-Denim ShortsDolce & Gabbana – Regular-Fit Washed-Denim Shorts | MR PORTER

$455

Dolce & Gabbana nods to vintage summer style with these washed-denim shorts, treated for an aged appearance. This pair is constructed in Italy for a laid-back fit and broken-in feel.

Sunspel – Striped Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt | MR PORTER

$115Sunspel Striped Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt

The secret to Sunspel‘s superb T-shirts is in the cotton: fine, long-staple yarns are used to create a soft and durable jersey that will hold its shape after repeated wear and washing. This version, striped in blue, grey and white, is a reliable choice that will remain stylish for years to come. Add it to your weekend repertoire as a go-to for relaxed days off.

What was that last sentence from The Cut?

Normcore is a blank slate and open mind…

Blank slate and blank mind. Well, all I got to say to that is, “Shallow water, Yo Mama”.

On the left shes reading "We the People: An Introduction to American Politics," by Benjamin Ginsberg, Theodore J. Lowi, and Margaret Weir. On the right shes reading "Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships," by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha.

On the left shes reading “We the People: An Introduction to American Politics,” by Benjamin Ginsberg, Theodore J. Lowi, and Margaret Weir. On the right shes reading “Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships,” by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha.

In addition to that ridiculous fashion trend of Normcore, did you see this sad story from Michigan? Woman’s car payments hid her death for 6 years, body found mummified in backseat of car

For years, the payments went out of the woman’s bank account.

Nobody batted an eyelid. Bills were paid and life went on as normal in the quiet neighborhood of Pontiac, Michigan.

Neighbors didn’t notice anything unusual.

The woman traveled a lot, they said, and kept to herself.

One of them mowed her grass to keep things looking tidy.

At some point, her bank account ran dry.

The bills stopped being paid.

And guess what happened then…

After its warnings went unanswered, the bank holding the mortgage foreclosed on the house, a common occurrence in a region hit hard by economic woes.

Still, nobody noticed what had happened inside the house.

Nobody wondered out loud what had become of the owner.

Not until this week, when a worker sent by the bank to repair a hole in the roof made a grisly discovery.

The woman’s mummified body was sitting in the backseat of her car, parked in the garage.

The key was halfway in the ignition.

Authorities say they believe the woman died at least six years ago.

They’re still trying to figure out what happened.

064fbd70bb03ff55a62748051b98d7adThere is so many things wrong with this…on so many levels. Fuck it is disturbing!!!

The woman, who authorities aren’t identifying until they’ve informed her family, paid her bills from her bank account through auto-pay, according to McCabe.

Neighbors said they didn’t know much about the dead woman, describing her as in her 40s and of German descent.

“She really kept to herself. We never really heard anything from her,” neighbor Caitlyn Talbot told CNN affiliate WXYZ.

Talbot said she wasn’t aware of anyone having seen the woman, who traveled a lot, in about six years.

“She was probably there for a couple of days, then she’d leave for a week, then she’d come back. Then she’d leave for a month and come back,” Talbot said.

McCabe says neighbors chalked up the woman’s absences to her returning to Germany for long periods of time.

4b5638cc3bf67e7bb627826b64785928Despite years without a living owner, the house was never broken into, he said.

Authorities told WXYZ that the house appears to have black mold inside it, and that detectives entered the building Thursday wearing hazardous material suits.

The mail never piled up, the cops came by the house once back in 2007 when one neighbor said she was not seen for a little while, but when they checked the front door, no sign of foul play so they left…and they never went back.

It seems completely unimaginable to me, how alone, for no one to miss her?

I am going to move on to something else. Prison. (talk about alone)

05e694781a80c8fab5fb6dc61c09c3a7Specifically Alcatraz.

A&M’s Alcatraz research continues to reveal underground forts, tunnels – Houston Chronicle

What started as repair of a tripping hazard at Alcatraz Island led to research that is revealing an old network of underground tunnels and fortifications.

Early results appear to indicate that a “caponier,” or part of an original fortified wall, still lies buried underground on the notorious island in San Francisco Bay.

More at the link…

And, another article on U.S. prisons seen through the eyes of ‘Birdman of Alcatraz’ | Reuters

The pages are brown, faded and stained, but the handwriting is meticulous and the words detail a 150-year history of the U.S. prison system through the eyes of one of its most famous inmates.

To Build a Fire and Other Stories, by Jack London

To Build a Fire and Other Stories, by Jack London

Robert Stroud, known as the Birdman of Alcatraz for his painstaking study of birds while in federal prison, wrote a four-part book about brutality, sex, bribery and what he saw as the monumental failure of prisons to rehabilitate inmates.

Part I “Looking Outward, A Voice from the Grave,” has recently been published in E-book form.

Stroud’s book about prison life, totaling more than 2,000 pages, languished in a basement long after his death in 1963, with publishers concerned about libel balking at a book that named brutal guards and supposedly on-the-take wardens.

“To sadistic-minded persons, helplessness is always an invitation to cruelty,” Stroud wrote.

The stacks of manuscripts stored at Stroud’s former lawyer’s house in Springfield, Missouri, have been converted into the book “Looking Outward: A History of the U.S. Prison System from Colonial Times to the Formation of the Bureau Prisons.”

That should be interesting…

One more story on prison life, but this is from a different vantage point…the camera lens: Family historians can now view Victorian criminal records online – Telegraph

Records of more than 67,000 Victorian criminals, detailing crimes ranging from petty theft and drunkenness to arson and murder, are published online for the first time today.
Records of more than 67,000 Victorian criminals, detailing crimes ranging from petty theft and drunkenness to arson and murder, are published online for the first time today.

Family history website Ancestry.co.uk said its collection also tells the stories of local peacemakers of the time, including jury candidates and members of the local militia.

The Dorset, England Prison Admission and Discharge Registers 1782-1901 and Dorset, England, Calendar of Prisoners 1854-1904 also includes mug shots of 19th century convicts.

The records include the criminal’s name, place and date of conviction, sentence, physical description and details of previous crimes.

The Places That Scare You A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

The Places That Scare You A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

Criminals listed include Samuel Baker, aged 73, who was sentenced to nine months hard labour after breaking into a house to steal two brushes, some vests, and a pair of stockings in 1893; Charles Wood, an unemployed local drunk who was sentenced to one month in prison for “refusing to quit the beer-house” in 1872, and 18-year-old George Pill, who stole a donkey from a neighbour in 1894, resulting in a punishment of six weeks hard labour.

Cool innit?

But crimes during the Victorian Age is not the only historical thing I’ve got for you this morning, oh yes, I am getting medieval on your asses today:  How to defraud your lord on the medieval manor

In the 1260s, Robert Carpenter, a freehold farmer and former bailiff living on the Isle of Wight, wrote up a formulary – a collection of form letters and legal texts that would be useful for local administration. In the middle of these texts, however, he added detailed instructions on six ways you could commit fraud.

1167a25937f70ac9cd9410242f64d818This work has been translated and analyzed by Martha Carlin in her article ‘Cheating the Boss: Robert Carpenter’s Embezzlement Instructions (1261×1268) and Employee Fraud in Medieval England’. Carpenter does not provide any introduction to these texts, nor does he give a hint on why he decided to include it in this work. Some scholars suggest he was bragging about his past exploits, others that he wrote it to warn his readers of ways they could be defrauded. Carlin adds another possibility – that it was “simply as a form of wry recollection or humour with which to entertain himself and his intimates.”

Give those “hints” a read through…I love it!

on the left he’s reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Last Straw, by Jeff Kinney. on the right he’s reading Warriors, by Erin Hunter.

on the left he’s reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Last Straw, by Jeff Kinney. on the right he’s reading Warriors, by Erin Hunter.

Here is something that should be criminal: Group warns almost 500 products contain chemical found in yoga mats – CBS News

Subway made news earlier in February when the sandwich chain announced it was removing a chemical called azodicarbonamide (ADA), which is used to make yoga mats, from North American formulations of bread. But now, a consumer advocacy group is warning people that almost 500 more food items on the market have this same compound.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a list Thursday of all the foods that have listed ADA as an ingredient. Large companies like Ball Park, Country Hearth, Jimmy Dean, Kroger, Little Debbie, Marie Callendar’s, Pillsbury, White Castle and Wonder are just a fraction of the 130 brands that used the chemical in their products. Most of the items are bread, croutons, pre-made sandwiches and snacks.

Nothing is more appetizing than yoga mats.

ADA is used to bleach flour and help make dough stronger and more rubbery. The Food and Drug Administration currently approved the use of the chemical as long as it is used in quantities less than 0.0045 percent of the weight of the flour used.

The Price of Motherhood Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued, by Ann Crittenden

The Price of Motherhood Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued, by Ann Crittenden

But, the World Health Organization raised concerns about the compound. Case reports have shown that some workers who come in contact with the product on a regular basis have developed asthma, respiratory symptoms and skin problems. Very few studies have been done on ADA, but animal research has shown that if the compound is inhaled or consumed it tends to not be absorbed and is easily eliminated with the body’s waste.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest pointed out that ADA forms semicarbazide and urethane when baked, and both have been linked to cancers in mice. They have called for the FDA to ban the chemical since many other breads do not use the compound.

More info at the link…along with a link to the list of products that use ADA.

Last link for you is from Wisconsin Public Radio and includes a story on Weaving, in Afghanistan:

Image:maiaibing2000 Via:Flickr Creative CommonsNot every story about Afghanistan involves guns and soldiers.  We see the country through art, poetry and games – from the ancient sport of Buzkashi to Afghanistan’s famous hand-woven carpets. Also, Charles Yu on living safely in a science fictional universe.

“Buzkashi Boys” – Sam French

The film “Buzkashi Boys” is a coming of age story set in Afghanistan’s national sport, Buzkashi. It’s a game of horse polo played with a dead goat instead of a ball. Plus, a coda from novelist Khaled Hosseini.

Afghan Carpets – Anna Badkhen

Los Hijos Del Tiempo, by Ana Colchero

Los Hijos Del Tiempo, by Ana Colchero

Anna Badkhen spent a year in the remote Afghan village of Oqa. She got to know the master weavers, who make some of the world’s most beautiful carpets.

Landay Poetry – Eliza Griswold

Eliza Griswold went to the Pashtun region of Afghanistan to gather landay poems – a tradition of secret poems spoken by Pashtun women.

Sonic Sidebar: Khaled Hosseini’s “Mountains”

Afghan-born writer Khaled Hosseini, author of “The Kite Runner,” reads from his latest novel, “And the Mountains Echoed.”

8f3b98e8a2daa98ece7b0daef27df59cBookMark: Hanan Al-Shaykh

Hanan Al-Shaykh bookmarks “Season of Migration to the North” by Tayeb Salih.

On Our Minds: Science Fictional Universe

Charles Yu on quantum parenting, time travel and other science fictional paradoxes. Yu is the author of the acclaimed novel “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.”

“The Stranger Beside Me,” by Ann Rule via UNYPL

“The Stranger Beside Me,” by Ann Rule via UNYPL

So, I hope you enjoyed those links. Sorry that there are no “newsy” news updates for you today. Please use the comment section below to add anything you find newsworthy…Have a wonderful day.


Wednesday Reads: Mambo Italiano Muthafukkerz…

1091f45df98358d48611af8ac49be2dbGood Morning

Well, another storm is hitting here in Banjoville. The weather people are saying we should get a total of 6 to 12 inches of snow when it is all said and done.

Down south things are a lot worse…if you have not seen the big headlines over at Huffington Post or Drudge, take a look at this:

Via Drudge

HISTORIC ICE STORM UNFOLDS IN SOUTH...
GEORGIA WARNED: 'CATASTROPHIC'...
SEEN FROM SPACE...
Hundreds of flights cancelled...
Roads deserted...
Panicked Shoppers Fight Over Food...
Nor'easter Could Be 'Biggest Of Season'...
'Snow Rage' Afflicts Storm-Weary Locals...

And HuffPo

SOUTH BRACES FOR ‘CATASTROPHIC’ STORM

Deadly ice and snow storm bears down on U.S. South | Reuters

The storm could be “a catastrophic event” of “historical proportions,” the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City, Georgia, said of the latest blast of wintry weather to hit the region.232ee103789d0f5b43c9f78b0272a458

Conditions were expected to worsen overnight, with up to an inch of ice predicted in parts of Georgia and central South Carolina.

Two to 6 inches of snow fell in north Georgia on Tuesday, with another 5 to 9 inches expected by Thursday morning, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Darbe.

But Darbe said ice was the bigger worry, with a quarter to three-quarters of an inch expected in the area that includes metropolitan Atlanta.

[...]

Officials were quick to make plans for dealing with the weather after being criticized for inadequate preparation before a storm two weeks ago. That storm paralyzed Atlanta area roads and forced more than 11,000 students in Alabama to spend the night at their schools.

Oh you bet your ass they were ready this time…

0211 Luckovich cartoon: Drift away | Mike Luckovich

021114-toon-luckovich-ed

In other news, House Approves Higher Debt Limit Without Condition – NYTimes.com

f827bc9e35771965e33b76c555d00cdcEnding three years of brinkmanship in which the threat of a devastating default on the nation’s debt was used to wring conservative concessions from President Obama, the House on Tuesday voted to raise the government’s borrowing limit until March 2015, without any conditions.

The vote — 221 to 201 — relied almost entirely on Democrats in the Republican-controlled House to carry the measure and represented the first debt ceiling increase since 2009 that was not attached to other legislation. Only 28 Republicans voted yes, and only two Democrats voted no.

I guess you could say hell froze over?

2440946b7e4be9ef6ce9a7a6cd0d3a66Simply by holding the vote, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio effectively ended a three-year Tea Party-inspired era of budget showdowns that had raised the threat of default and government shutdowns, rattled economic confidence and brought serious scrutiny from other nations questioning Washington’s ability to govern. In the process, though, Mr. Boehner also set off a series of reprisals from fellow Republican congressmen and outside groups that showcased the party’s deep internal divisions.

“He gave the president exactly what he wanted, which is exactly what the Republican Party said we did not want,” said a Republican representative, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who last year unsuccessfully tried to rally enough support to derail Mr. Boehner’s re-election as speaker. “It’s going to really demoralize the base.”

e6cca4e1507cba937018309733ea71a1The NYT article goes on to say it was a victory for the President and the Dems…but considering the shit we have dealt with the last few years, and those poor people who will be dealing with lower food stamp funds, how can that be a victory?

Meanwhile in West Virginia, another spill is causing the citizens grief: ‘Significant’ slurry spill blackens Kanawha creek

More than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry poured into an eastern Kanawha County stream Tuesday in what officials were calling a “significant spill” from a Patriot Coal processing facility.

Emergency officials and environmental inspectors said roughly six miles of Fields Creek had been blackened and that a smaller amount of the slurry made it into the Kanawha River near Chesapeake.

83a0b790e2e248e98e6d1edde44bf60a“This has had significant, adverse environmental impact to Fields Creek and an unknown amount of impact to the Kanawha River,” said Secretary Randy Huffman of the state Department of Environmental Protection. “This is a big deal, this is a significant slurry spill.”

“When this much coal slurry goes into the stream, it wipes the stream out.”

That is disgusting. I don’t think the people of West Virginia will ever be able to drink the water again.

For a little laugh, here is my favorite actor of today…I know the reason for the video is not funny, it is disgusting, but of all the other “black actors doing commercials” it is good to see Sammy call the asshole out:

Samuel Jackson goes nuclear on reporter for confusing him with Laurence Fishburne – Salon.com

Local TV stations have a reputation for goofy unprofessionalism and quirky hiccups.  This segment at KTLA in Los Angeles is something so much worse. Veteran entertainment reporter Sam Rubin begins his interview by asking about Jackson’s Super Bowl commercial, and things get real ugly real quick.

Samuel Jackson goes nuclear on reporter for confusing him with Laurence Fishburne

“What Super Bowl commercial?” responds a flabbergasted Jackson.  ”See, you’re as crazy as the people on Twitter. I’m not Laurence Fishburne!” (Fishburne reprised his role as Morpheus in “The Matrix” for a Kia spot.) “We don’t all look alike!”

He then goes on to list other black actors in commercials, who he is not.

8c717a1dd36b6aae4951ef50a11320b6Of course, the news reporter is not the only one who was tacky as hell, as you can “hear” from the video at the link:

Just as uncomfortable as Rubin’s attempts to brush off the blunder by saying, “Really my big mistake … let’t talk about ‘Robocop,’” are the hoots and howls coming from Rubin’s peers who clearly don’t get how terribly offensive this “mistake” is.  Rubin later apologized and claimed he was referring to a commercial for Jackson’s upcoming “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”  Regardless, the incident (and Jackson’s blunt response) is a reminder of Hollywood’s serious race problem that was starkly evident at the Golden Globes.

You can see the look on Jackson’s face at the end, it really does show how tired he is of all the shit.

I noticed yesterday y’all were talking in the comments about books you were reading, I just started to read this one about cuss words as discussed in this link here:  Here’s the first recorded instance of the F-word in Englishec888f05da4ae0857ec3302f256c8421

And it’s a monk expressing his displeasure at an abbot. In the margins of a guide to moral conduct. Because of course.

Technically, “fuck” appeared two times before this. In 1500, it was used in a satirical poem to describe some friars. In that case, nothing like “fuck” was actually written out. Instead, the word was hidden in a code. And in 1513, it appeared in a Scottish poem as “fukkit.”

Here's the first recorded instance of the F-word in English

But for English’s first use, we’ve got a dissatisfied 1528 monk. He’s written “O D fuckin abbot.” Melissa Mohr, author of Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, says this “fuck” could be either literal or metaphorical:

a35537fa19bb5c218d174c664d71b9a6It is difficult to know whether the annotator intended “fucking” to mean “having sex,” as in “that guy is doing too much fucking for someone who is supposed to be celibate,” or whether he used it as an intensifier, to convey his extreme dismay; if the latter, it anticipates the first recorded use by more than three hundred years. Either is possible, really—John Burton, the abbot in question, was a man of questionable monastic morals.

So, either this monk was recording his abbot’s sex life or he was the first person to be so angry that only “fuck” could convey it’s scope.

Did you all see the big joint news out of New York and Italy?  I’ve got a few articles on this mass arrest from both Italian and US sources:

1cdfa6e0951abf54ce7b61e71e1a944dNdrangheta ‘snatching U.S. Cosa Nostra drug trade’ – GazzettaDelSud

Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta mafia, once a poor relation of the Sicilian Mafia, has grown in heft and reach thanks to its dominance of the European cocaine trade and is even muscling in on the drug operations of one of Cosa Nostra’s historic five families in New York, investigators said after a major Italian-FBI bust Tuesday. “This was an important operation because we proved that the power of the ‘Ndrangheta now far surpasses that of Cosa Nostra”, Reggio Calabria prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told ANSA from New York after 26 arrests in a probe into a new drug route from Guyana to Europe via the ‘Ndrangheta-infiltrated Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro.

According to the Gazzetta Del Sud, this ‘Ndrangheta Mafia even used Mexican cartels in a joint venture in their set-up to traffic cocaine.

32d48f11ed5ab3975b8c39d2b2614db6As for the US side of the take down: Arrests in New York and Italy Thwart Mob Drug Scheme, Authorities Say – NYTimes.com

“They put a hundred grams, two hundred grams in each fish” and “it takes a day to defrost and then it takes a day to take out,” Franco Lupoi said, according to prosecutors who say the conversation was recorded by investigators.

On Tuesday, federal authorities announced the arrests of Mr. Lupoi, the owner of a Brooklyn bakery, and six other people in New York on charges that included narcotics trafficking and money laundering and that were the culmination of a two-year undercover F.B.I. investigation. In Italy, the police announced the arrests of 17 people in connection with the investigation.

8e67a16549cf6808c98b6d9a565c7a8bWhat made the case remarkable were not the charges but the defendants’ links to the ’Ndrangheta, the organized crime group based in Calabria that is notorious for kidnappings and for its success importing cocaine into Europe.

More from the LA Times: Italian-U.S. Mafia drug trafficking ring busted, FBI and police say

The FBI and Italian police said they had broken up a global heroin and cocaine trafficking ring Tuesday after stumbling upon a fledgling alliance between a Calabrian Mafia group and associates of New York’s notorious

Twenty-four arrests were made in Italy and the United States after a two-year operation that relied on both wiretaps and an American undercover agent named by investigators as “Jimmy,” who is said to have infiltrated the Gambinos and fooled Italians into believing he was a heroin dealer. Seventeen of the arrests were made in Italy and seven in the United States.

8c0b6ff431fc394939ef5694f77cf6c4Those arrested in the U.S. were arraigned before a federal magistrate in Brooklyn. The men, some of them suspected of being members of the Gambino and Bonanno “families,” were listed as using various street aliases such as “Lello,” “Freddy,” and “Charlie Pepsi.”

I am sure more information will be coming forward, but…

The coordinated sting halted the planned shipment of more than a ton of cocaine from Latin America to Italy in liquid form, smuggled with help from Mexican cartels in coconut and pineapple cans, law enforcement officials said. They put the street value at $1 billion.

One more link…on the additional discovery of ‘Ndrangheta connections with the Far East heroin trade: Gambino, Bonanno family members held in joint US-Italy anti-mafia raid – CNN.com

Raffaele Grassi, head of the Criminal Unit of the Italian State Police, told reporters that the operation demonstrated 8729a9e910772d09d68639720e66b252that the “‘Ndrangheta is one of the strongest organizations in the world in illegal drug trade.”

He cited its sophisticated network of contacts and its ability to adapt and find new markets, including “expanding beyond Italian borders.”

Grassi said that historically, the Gambino family had had ties with the Sicilian Mafia, Cosa Nostra. But their involvement in the illegal traffic of heroin, known as the “Pizza Connection,” was dismantled or severely curtailed in the 1980s, he said, and they are now trading mainly cocaine.

36ffef735f803acdb7b518b6a6be3800The latest operation, according to Grassi and FBI officials, shows that the mafia families of the “new continent” are still seeking and relying on “old country” connections — which is why investigators dubbed the operation “New Bridge.”

According to Grassi, the Italian-American mafia families “need this new bridge to connect and support the traffic of cocaine.”

While the existence of a connection between the Calabrian mafia and U.S. mafia families has been well known, Tuesday’s operation shows its great strength and reach, investigators said.

One of the more alarming discoveries to emerge from the operation was evidence that ‘Ndrangheta has also reached out to the Far East in the heroin trade, another investigator said.

While on the subject of the Mafia, 10 Real-Life Inspirations For Characters In The Godfather – Listverse

It’s one of the immutable laws of nature: You’re channel surfing, and there, between some cooking show and an infomercial, you come upon The Godfather. Even though you own the deluxe Blu-Ray DVD box set with three weeks’ worth of special features, you are glued to that station until the credits roll. And if it’s the first in a Godfather marathon, your day is shot. f3f4d36dad5c94c3549ef3e8bd4f06b6You’re not moving, except to warm up some frozen lasagna between Godfather 2 and Godfather 3.

The Godfather is a classic of American cinema, and Godfather Part 2 is considered by some an even better movie. This story of the patriarch of a New York crime family, and his son who takes over the “family business,” is largely based on Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name, with director Francis Ford Coppola and Puzo producing new material for the films.

Puzo based many of the characters on the real underworld players he heard about growing up and working in New York City.

That thing about getting stuck watching the trilogy on TV, it is so true…it just happened to my mom and me last week, and it was on one of those channels with the commercials.e75c78c0ba7781f147ec6225ad95e9cb (So you know how annoying that can be, and how “glued” we were to stick it out for the three full movies.)

In wrapping this post up, I will end with this tune…a perfect finale to a mob focused post. I know that I have used this song before, but what can I say…

If you gonna be a square
You ain’t a gonna go nowhere
Hey mambo! mambo italiano!
Hey mambo! mambo italiano!

Rosemary Clooney – Mambo Italiano Lyrics

Have a wonderful day, and if you are in the storm’s wake, please stay safe and warm.

And be sure to share with us, what is on your reading list today?