Well, perhaps “dumbassery” is being a little forgiving, since dumbass is not what I would call the two GOP examples below…more like assholes, yeah that is it.
But I don’t think “assholery” would have passed as part of the title so, there it is.
This tweet from CPAC should set the mood…
Aaaaand it goes down from there…one person who should be in attendance at that minority seminar: Conservative leader caught on live mic: ‘The Jews are the problem’ | The Raw Story
Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (retired), the executive vice president of the conservative Family Research Council, was caught on a “hot mic” on Thursday joking that “the Jews are the problem” to an Israeli reporter and pitching his theory about President Barack Obama using “subliminal messages” to signal support for al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, in audio posted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Friday.
“If you understand anything about Islam, there are subliminal messages,” Boykin can be heard saying. “His message, really, I believe was, ‘I understand you, and I support you.’”
Boykin’s remarks were captured after an online broadcast of a panel at the National Security Action Summit. The SPLC reported that the event is held as a counter to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and features speakers who, like Boykin, have not been allowed to participate there.
(Emphasis mine.) Guess even CPAC has some kind of standards.
Though the panel’s video feed shut down, the audio continued broadcasting, enabling Boykin to be heard as he argued that, as a result of the “messages,” al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood saw that “that they have a president that identifies with them, that has been supportive of them inside the United States and is unwilling to go against them.”
According to the SPLC, Boykin was then approached by someone about doing an interview with Henry Schwartz, a reporter for Israel National News, described as a “right-wing” publication.
“The Jews are the problem,” Boykin can be heard saying. “The Jews are the cause of all the problems in the world.” An unidentified person responds, “I know, I know, that’s why we’re trying to fix everything.”
The event’s organizer, Frank Gaffney, has accused CPAC’s organizers, the American Conservative Union, of having ties to the Brotherhood.
I don’t know, this guy Boykin must be best friends with Mel Gibson?
Video at the link.
After something like that, we need to laugh. So take a look at this asshole, who gets the Aasif Mandvi treatment: ‘Fox Business’ Commentator Tells ‘Daily Show’ Correspondent, ‘If You’re Poor, Stop Being Poor’
After watching Aasif Mandvi’s segment on Thursday’s “Daily Show,” two things are clear: 1) America has the greatest healthcare system in the world (if 37th place is considered the greatest), and 2) some people shouldn’t do interviews with “Daily Show” correspondents.
Case in point, “Fox Business” commentator and NYSE Euronext Managing Director Todd Wilemon has a couple of jaw-dropping moments in this interview about “third world” healthcare conditions in Knoxville, Tennessee, not the least of which is his statement right at the end: “If you’re poor, stop being poor.”
Watch the clip above, and keep an eye out for one of the more awkward pauses in “Daily Show” history.
You can also see the video here: Third World Health Care – Knoxville, Tennessee Edition – The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – 03/06/14 – Video Clip | Comedy Central
By the way, pictures for today are from the blog Underground New York Public Library…which is not affiliated by the New York Public Library.
The Underground New York Public Library is a visual library featuring the Reading-Riders of the NYC subways.
The photos come together as a visual library. This library freely lends out a reminder that we’re capable of traveling to great depths within ourselves and as a whole.
The blog work is done by Ourit Ben-Haim who says he:
…make the pictures and the posts. I’m fascinated by how we apply ourselves to stories and discourse. In so doing, we shape who we understand ourselves to be.
What a neat site to lose yourself in…enjoy it.
On Friday, Dak had a fabulous post about New Orleans…well, this next link is about the latest fashion “craze” is a perfect complement. In fact, I am sure those folks singing the traditional ‘shallow water, your mama,’ song were wearing the #normcore look and Dak must see the “mallclothes” “’90s-era dads” “anonymous” style as these young urbanites look for kale in that “Chocolate City.” (Ugh…yeah, I could not help myself. 10 years ago, wow.)
You may have noticed a new hashtag invading the internet this week: #normcore. It has everyone dusting off their stonewashed jeans and athletic socks and hopping on the bandwagon.
But just what is normcore exactly? In short: it’s a trend of young urbanites dressing like bland ’90s-era dads. Articles of clothing involved include athletic shorts, New Balance sneakers and fleece zip-ups. Basically, anything that will allow you to stand out by looking anonymous.
Nothing is more sexy than looking like a 90′s dad.
Why is normcore a thing? It seems to be a way for adherents to counteract stereotypes by dressing mundanely in order to stand out. Theories abound regarding why millennials are attracted to the trend, but the prevailing theory suggests that it’s a way for them to reject the idea of “buying in” to a particular style.
Basically, dressing like your parents did 20 years ago is cooler than shelling out money to assume another identity. Of course, it only works if you’re doing it on purpose.
Seriously, look at the tweets from this fashion twitter The Cut New York Magazine:
Here is the actual article: Normcore: Fashion for Those Who Realize They’re One in 7 Billion – The Cut
K-HOLE describes normcore as a theory rather than a look; but in practice, the contemporary normcore styles I’ve seen have their clear aesthetic precedent in the nineties. The editorials in Hot and Cool look a lot like Corinne Day styling newcomer Kate Moss in Birkenstocks in 1990, or like Art Club 2000′s appropriation of madras from the Gap, like grunge-lite and Calvin Klein minimalism. But while (in their original incarnation) those styles reflected anxiety around “selling out,” today’s version is more ambivalent toward its market reality. Normcore isn’t about rebelling against or giving into the status quo; it’s about letting go of the need to look distinctive, to make time for something new.
The demographic leading the normcore trend is, by and large, Western Millennials and digital natives. Stylist-editors like Hot and Cool’s Alice Goddard and Garmento’s Jeremy Lewis are children of the nineties, teens of the aughts. The aesthetic return to styles they would’ve worn as kids reads like a reset button—going back to a time before adolescence, before we learned to differentiate identity through dress. The Internet and globalization have challenged the myth of individuality (we are all one in 7 billion), while making connecting with others easier than ever. Normcore is a blank slate and open mind—it’s a look designed to play well with others.
And what is more disgusting? Check out the price of these shorts…and t-shirt.
Dolce & Gabbana nods to vintage summer style with these washed-denim shorts, treated for an aged appearance. This pair is constructed in Italy for a laid-back fit and broken-in feel.
The secret to Sunspel‘s superb T-shirts is in the cotton: fine, long-staple yarns are used to create a soft and durable jersey that will hold its shape after repeated wear and washing. This version, striped in blue, grey and white, is a reliable choice that will remain stylish for years to come. Add it to your weekend repertoire as a go-to for relaxed days off.
What was that last sentence from The Cut?
Normcore is a blank slate and open mind…
Blank slate and blank mind. Well, all I got to say to that is, “Shallow water, Yo Mama”.
In addition to that ridiculous fashion trend of Normcore, did you see this sad story from Michigan? Woman’s car payments hid her death for 6 years, body found mummified in backseat of car
For years, the payments went out of the woman’s bank account.
Nobody batted an eyelid. Bills were paid and life went on as normal in the quiet neighborhood of Pontiac, Michigan.
Neighbors didn’t notice anything unusual.
The woman traveled a lot, they said, and kept to herself.
One of them mowed her grass to keep things looking tidy.
At some point, her bank account ran dry.
The bills stopped being paid.
And guess what happened then…
After its warnings went unanswered, the bank holding the mortgage foreclosed on the house, a common occurrence in a region hit hard by economic woes.
Still, nobody noticed what had happened inside the house.
Nobody wondered out loud what had become of the owner.
Not until this week, when a worker sent by the bank to repair a hole in the roof made a grisly discovery.
The woman’s mummified body was sitting in the backseat of her car, parked in the garage.
The key was halfway in the ignition.
Authorities say they believe the woman died at least six years ago.
They’re still trying to figure out what happened.
The woman, who authorities aren’t identifying until they’ve informed her family, paid her bills from her bank account through auto-pay, according to McCabe.
Neighbors said they didn’t know much about the dead woman, describing her as in her 40s and of German descent.
“She really kept to herself. We never really heard anything from her,” neighbor Caitlyn Talbot told CNN affiliate WXYZ.
Talbot said she wasn’t aware of anyone having seen the woman, who traveled a lot, in about six years.
“She was probably there for a couple of days, then she’d leave for a week, then she’d come back. Then she’d leave for a month and come back,” Talbot said.
McCabe says neighbors chalked up the woman’s absences to her returning to Germany for long periods of time.
Authorities told WXYZ that the house appears to have black mold inside it, and that detectives entered the building Thursday wearing hazardous material suits.
The mail never piled up, the cops came by the house once back in 2007 when one neighbor said she was not seen for a little while, but when they checked the front door, no sign of foul play so they left…and they never went back.
It seems completely unimaginable to me, how alone, for no one to miss her?
I am going to move on to something else. Prison. (talk about alone)
What started as repair of a tripping hazard at Alcatraz Island led to research that is revealing an old network of underground tunnels and fortifications.
Early results appear to indicate that a “caponier,” or part of an original fortified wall, still lies buried underground on the notorious island in San Francisco Bay.
More at the link…
And, another article on U.S. prisons seen through the eyes of ‘Birdman of Alcatraz’ | Reuters
The pages are brown, faded and stained, but the handwriting is meticulous and the words detail a 150-year history of the U.S. prison system through the eyes of one of its most famous inmates.
Robert Stroud, known as the Birdman of Alcatraz for his painstaking study of birds while in federal prison, wrote a four-part book about brutality, sex, bribery and what he saw as the monumental failure of prisons to rehabilitate inmates.
Part I “Looking Outward, A Voice from the Grave,” has recently been published in E-book form.
Stroud’s book about prison life, totaling more than 2,000 pages, languished in a basement long after his death in 1963, with publishers concerned about libel balking at a book that named brutal guards and supposedly on-the-take wardens.
“To sadistic-minded persons, helplessness is always an invitation to cruelty,” Stroud wrote.
The stacks of manuscripts stored at Stroud’s former lawyer’s house in Springfield, Missouri, have been converted into the book “Looking Outward: A History of the U.S. Prison System from Colonial Times to the Formation of the Bureau Prisons.”
That should be interesting…
One more story on prison life, but this is from a different vantage point…the camera lens: Family historians can now view Victorian criminal records online – Telegraph
Records of more than 67,000 Victorian criminals, detailing crimes ranging from petty theft and drunkenness to arson and murder, are published online for the first time today.
Family history website Ancestry.co.uk said its collection also tells the stories of local peacemakers of the time, including jury candidates and members of the local militia.
The Dorset, England Prison Admission and Discharge Registers 1782-1901 and Dorset, England, Calendar of Prisoners 1854-1904 also includes mug shots of 19th century convicts.
The records include the criminal’s name, place and date of conviction, sentence, physical description and details of previous crimes.
Criminals listed include Samuel Baker, aged 73, who was sentenced to nine months hard labour after breaking into a house to steal two brushes, some vests, and a pair of stockings in 1893; Charles Wood, an unemployed local drunk who was sentenced to one month in prison for “refusing to quit the beer-house” in 1872, and 18-year-old George Pill, who stole a donkey from a neighbour in 1894, resulting in a punishment of six weeks hard labour.
But crimes during the Victorian Age is not the only historical thing I’ve got for you this morning, oh yes, I am getting medieval on your asses today: How to defraud your lord on the medieval manor
In the 1260s, Robert Carpenter, a freehold farmer and former bailiff living on the Isle of Wight, wrote up a formulary – a collection of form letters and legal texts that would be useful for local administration. In the middle of these texts, however, he added detailed instructions on six ways you could commit fraud.
This work has been translated and analyzed by Martha Carlin in her article ‘Cheating the Boss: Robert Carpenter’s Embezzlement Instructions (1261×1268) and Employee Fraud in Medieval England’. Carpenter does not provide any introduction to these texts, nor does he give a hint on why he decided to include it in this work. Some scholars suggest he was bragging about his past exploits, others that he wrote it to warn his readers of ways they could be defrauded. Carlin adds another possibility – that it was “simply as a form of wry recollection or humour with which to entertain himself and his intimates.”
Give those “hints” a read through…I love it!
Here is something that should be criminal: Group warns almost 500 products contain chemical found in yoga mats – CBS News
Subway made news earlier in February when the sandwich chain announced it was removing a chemical called azodicarbonamide (ADA), which is used to make yoga mats, from North American formulations of bread. But now, a consumer advocacy group is warning people that almost 500 more food items on the market have this same compound.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a list Thursday of all the foods that have listed ADA as an ingredient. Large companies like Ball Park, Country Hearth, Jimmy Dean, Kroger, Little Debbie, Marie Callendar’s, Pillsbury, White Castle and Wonder are just a fraction of the 130 brands that used the chemical in their products. Most of the items are bread, croutons, pre-made sandwiches and snacks.
Nothing is more appetizing than yoga mats.
ADA is used to bleach flour and help make dough stronger and more rubbery. The Food and Drug Administration currently approved the use of the chemical as long as it is used in quantities less than 0.0045 percent of the weight of the flour used.
But, the World Health Organization raised concerns about the compound. Case reports have shown that some workers who come in contact with the product on a regular basis have developed asthma, respiratory symptoms and skin problems. Very few studies have been done on ADA, but animal research has shown that if the compound is inhaled or consumed it tends to not be absorbed and is easily eliminated with the body’s waste.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest pointed out that ADA forms semicarbazide and urethane when baked, and both have been linked to cancers in mice. They have called for the FDA to ban the chemical since many other breads do not use the compound.
More info at the link…along with a link to the list of products that use ADA.
Last link for you is from Wisconsin Public Radio and includes a story on Weaving, in Afghanistan:
Not every story about Afghanistan involves guns and soldiers. We see the country through art, poetry and games – from the ancient sport of Buzkashi to Afghanistan’s famous hand-woven carpets. Also, Charles Yu on living safely in a science fictional universe.
The film “Buzkashi Boys” is a coming of age story set in Afghanistan’s national sport, Buzkashi. It’s a game of horse polo played with a dead goat instead of a ball. Plus, a coda from novelist Khaled Hosseini.
Anna Badkhen spent a year in the remote Afghan village of Oqa. She got to know the master weavers, who make some of the world’s most beautiful carpets.
Eliza Griswold went to the Pashtun region of Afghanistan to gather landay poems – a tradition of secret poems spoken by Pashtun women.
Afghan-born writer Khaled Hosseini, author of “The Kite Runner,” reads from his latest novel, “And the Mountains Echoed.”
Hanan Al-Shaykh bookmarks “Season of Migration to the North” by Tayeb Salih.
Charles Yu on quantum parenting, time travel and other science fictional paradoxes. Yu is the author of the acclaimed novel “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.”
So, I hope you enjoyed those links. Sorry that there are no “newsy” news updates for you today. Please use the comment section below to add anything you find newsworthy…Have a wonderful day.
What if it was all just various scenes from old plays…good plays. I mean isn’t it only kabuki, smoke in mirrors (or is it smoke and mirrors.)
What if the players were switched out, and the real life newsmakers found themselves as characters in the theater’s best productions.
It has been a long night.
So l will just tread through this thread and put some links up and connect them to plays as we go…
Then there’s the growing theory that Putin has simply gone round the bend. We might as well call this The Merkel Theory, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel first gave voice to it during a phone call with President Barack Obama last weekend. Via the New York Times:
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.
U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power expanded this diagnosis to Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin during an emergency meeting of the UN security council on Monday, accusing Churkin and his boss of chasing at shadows:
“So many of the assertions made this afternoon are without basis in reality. Is Russia justified in invading parts of Ukraine? The answer of course is no. Russian mobilisation is a response to an imaginary threat.”
Geez, that is a lot of powerful people there…
And on Tuesday morning, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright re-upped Merkel’s theory to CNN’s New Day:
“I agree with what Angela Merkel said after she spoke to him, which is that he is in another world. I think that either he does not have the facts, he is being fed propaganda, or his own propaganda. It doesn’t make any sense. There are no calls for assistance…There is not this kind of a crisis in terms of the way that the Russian-speaking people are in some way being harmed. So this is all made up. And I think it’s part of a much longer term plan that Putin has had which is to try to recreate some form of relationship between Ukraine and Moscow. I think that is the tragedy that’s going on. Putin is in many ways delusional about this.”
Shit…what I think this brings to mind is Putin sitting in the chair during the Caine Mutiny Court Martial, shirtless of course.
Queeg is a psychopath in crisis and commanded the ship and its crew to destruction. Naval tradition is against him, but testimony eventually reveals a devastating picture of Queeg’s mental disintegration.
All the pundits talk back and forth wondering if Crimea is Putin’s “The Strawberry Incident.”
Then you have the rest of the war mongers pushing to convict…Twelve Angry Men. (Fox News and basically every body else.) But there isn’t a Juror Number 8 to turn the tide away from sending us into WW3/ColdWar2.
The longest shadow in Tuesday’s primary election in Texas is being cast by a politician not even in the running, freshman U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican.
Cruz, just two years into his first major elected office, has arguably become the most loved politician among Republicans in Texas, an incubator for national conservative policies where the party dominates the statehouse and has not lost a statewide race since 1994.
A host of Republican hopefuls are trying to ride his coattails, turning campaigns into raucous affairs about how much they despise Obamacare, embrace the constitutional right to bear arms and see a need to raise alarms about illegal immigration.
Cruz has turned an already right-leaning Texas Republican Party even further to the right, analysts said.
“Cruz scared the daylights out of center and center-right conservatives to the extent that they do not feel comfortable enough to run on their true positions and feel compelled to cater to the most conservative elements of the Texas Republican primary electorate,” said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.
Oh, what horrors this man has brought to our nation. The Failure to Zig Zag, is the play I bring to you…
Neither the captain of the USS Indianapolis, McVay, nor his crew were told the cargo they had delivered in Tinian contained the essential components for the atomic bomb to be dropped in Hiroshima. Having completed its top secret mission, the ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine. The crew languished in shark infested waters while Naval authorities logged the ship safe in port. The navy’s coverup and attempt to make McVay a scapegoat lead to a national scandal.
I present…Cruz as the sharks…in that scenario.
Maybe Boehner and the rest of the GOP are the naval authorities who are allowing the crew (voters) to be fed to the shark(s) Tea Party basturds?
(Who am I kidding they all are the sharks.)
Let’s switch gears to another topic: Angry people ‘risking heart attacks’
And another play where an angry man has a heart attack…Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys
Hey, you want a couple of Sunshine Boys? An Odd Couple? (Bet you can guess who is the neat one.)
Yes…according to Senator Lindsey Graham: Putin invaded Ukraine because (wait for it) Benghazi!
Here’s Graham via Twitter yesterday:
Yes, we know why your eyes roll. But back to the matter at hand, Graham still left the matter somewhat vague, until today:
Then some more three hours ago:
Hell, Benghazi? That subject has been: Done to Death
As for the Lady’s other partner: McCain’s Mind-Boggling Hypocrisy on Crimea at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference | Informed Comment
They both are like a couple of salesmen from Glengarry Glen Ross, who will not give up pushing their crap to the American public.
I’m going to move faster now, it is again one of those all-niter post writing marathons and I have to make the kids lunches soon. Ugh.
…this past weekend was a looney-tune time for Washington’s professional 2016 Speculasturbators. Did you know that we already have “frontrunners” for 2016? As in more than one?
See that link for the tweets…the play I am connecting to this? And Then There Were None
Y’all hear that George P. Bush Begins Political Career With Win – ABC News
George P. Bush took the first step toward continuing his family’s political dynasty Tuesday, shaking off an under-funded primary challenger and securing the Republican nomination for the little-known but powerful post of Texas land commissioner.
The 37-year-old Fort Worth attorney is the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush, nephew of former President and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, and son of ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is frequently mentioned as a possible GOP White House hopeful in 2016.
He’s also a Spanish speaker whose mother Columba was born in Mexico and who Republican leaders statewide long have toasted as key to wooing voters among Texas’ booming Hispanic population.
“We don’t have to change our conservative principles to win, we just need to change our tactics,” said Bush, who spoke English and Spanish to the crowd at his victory party at a Fort Worth Mexican restaurant.
For some reason, The Little Foxes is what came to mind:
The Little Foxes is a 1939 play by Lillian Hellman. Its title comes from Chapter 2, Verse 15 in the Song of Solomon in the King James version of the Bible, which reads, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” Set in a small town in Alabama in 1900, it focuses on the struggle for control of the family business.
You know this one, Barbara Bush as Regina? Oh yes…
I think some make Snowden out to be: An Enemy of the People
But I sometimes can’t help think he is a The Harder They Fall character…an idiot asshole used by other more connected powerful assholes, who make money off him.. then leave him with nothing in a foreign country unable to speak. (Don’t get me wrong, I feel no pity for Snowden what so ever!)
The next play is here for the title only: Smelling a Rat
and it follows the next three links…
On to the ladies…
Imagine ‘Gidget’ crossed with ‘The Three Faces of Eve’ and ‘Mommie Dearest’.
Chicklet Forrest, a teenage tomboy, desperately wants to be part of the surf crowd on Malibu Beach in 1962. One thing getting in her way is her unfortunate tendency towards split personalities. Among them is a black check out girl, an elderly radio talk show hostess, a male model named Steve and the accounting firm of Edelman and Edelman. Her most dangerous alter ego is a sexually voracious vixen named Ann Bowman who has nothing less than world domination on her mind.
This link was interesting, South Koreans View Kim Jong-Un More Favorably Than Shinzo Abe – Business Insider
But the plays here for Kim Jong-Un:
In Georgia, remember that work program Obama liked so much? Disabled Georgians waiting months for job training | AccessNorthGa
Budget and staffing issues have left unemployed and disabled Georgians looking for job training waiting months for help from a state agency tasked with providing vocational assistance.
After the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency was carved out of the state Department of Labor two years ago, lawmakers reduced its funding, which prompted the federal government to do the same.
GVRA Director Greg Schmieg told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (http://bit.ly/1knRW8o ) that he’s aware of case backlogs and is disappointed with the wait times clients are faced with.
Schmieg said the state isn’t providing enough funding for the agency to get the maximum amount of federal money. He says the federal government spends about $4 on the program for every $1 the state does.
I wonder who is running that Georgia program? Will Stockdale and Ben Whitledge in No Time for Sergeants (Remember both were from Georgia.)
One in Five US Soldiers Had Mental Illness Before Joining Army , and this is not meant as much of a joke, but maybe irony? For the play I thought of, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Chances are, you know someone who has had an abortion. Statistically, it’s a near-certainty: In the U.S., one in three women will have an abortion by the age of 45. But despite how incredibly common abortion is, it remains mired in stigma and misinformation. Much of what we may think we know about this subject is actually outright lies told by abortion opponents to dissuade women out of seeking safe and legal abortion care.
Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), which are fake clinics run by opponents of abortion, are well-known for lying to clients in order to convince them not to seek abortion care. But the lies told within the walls of CPCs aren’t just contained there; they are part and parcel of the anti-abortion movement in the U.S. For a movement that so fervently claims that “truth is on our side,” they seem perfectly willing to proliferate blatant lies about abortion. Here are a select few of the most common and pervasive of those lies.
Gas Light (known in the USA as Angel Street) is a 1938 play by the British dramatist Patrick Hamilton. The play (and its film adaptations) gave rise to the term gaslighting with the meaning “a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented to the victim with the intent of making him/her doubt his/her own memory and perception”. Although it was never explicitly confirmed, many critics and scholars see the play and its adaptations as subtle retellings of the Bluebeard folk tale.
After all this I am off to get the kids up and out the door for school. I hope there are no typos or other mistakes.
Enjoy your day, and drop a thought or two or three in the comments below!
Tuesday Reads: Syria, Ukraine, and Venezuela; Robot Police; Republican Stupidity; Harold Ramis; and Women of “True Detective”Posted: February 25, 2014
There is so much foreign news these days, and I have to admit ignorance when it comes to discussing the situations in Ukraine, Venezuela, and Syria. I don’t even know where to begin to understand the issues, and to be honest I just don’t have the time to try to do it. But here are some articles from sources I trust that struck me as important.
I’ll begin with something I can easily understand and care about: the fate of children in these conflicts. From The Independent, ‘No one cares’: The tragic truth of Syria’s 500,000 refugee children. The article is about British photojournalist Ed Thompson and an art student from Lebanon, Sammy Hamze, who went to Lebanon to put a spotlight on what is happening to Syrian refugee families.
We have heard the stories. Children at risk of dying from the cold in refugee camps; vulnerable to trafficking; begging on the side of the road; left orphaned and out of school; girls sold into marriage. But what shook Thompson most was that the children, although appearing older than their years, were still so young. “They are innocent, completely innocent,” he says now. “One father told me to look at his family; he could barely feed his son. They had been through hell, walked through hell and got to hell. All they want to do is go home.”
The conflict that has torn Syria apart has raged for almost three years, left more than 100,000 people dead in its wake and driven nine-and-a-half million from their homes. It took intense political pressure to get the British Government to agree to offer hundreds of the “most needy people” in Syrian refugee camps a home in this country. “We live in the modern age – we can read what’s going on in Syria; we’ve never had more information at our fingertips,” says Thompson – “but no one cares.”
If anything can break through the apathy, it is his pictures.
Read more and see some of Thompson’s photos at the link.
On Ukraine, I posted this article by Mark Ames in the comments yesterday, but I’ll link it again here: Everything you now about Ukraine is wrong.
I haven’t lived in that part of the world since the Kremlin ran me out of town, so I’m not going to pretend that I know as much as those on the ground there. Still, I’ve been driven nuts by the avalanche of overconfident ignorance that stands for analysis or commentary on the wild events there. A lethal ignorance, a virtuous ignorance….
Nearly everyone here in the US tries to frame and reify Ukraine’s dynamic to fit America-centric spats. As such, Ukraine’s problems are little more than a propaganda proxy war where our own political fights are transferred to Ukraine’s and Russia’s context, warping the truth to score domestic spat points. That’s nothing new, of course, but it’s still jarring to watch how the “new media” counter-consensus is warping and misrepresenting reality in Ukraine about as crudely as the neocons and neoliberals used to warp and Americanize the political realities there back when I first started my Moscow newspaper, The eXile.
Read about what Ames calls the “simplifications/misconceptions” that are driving Ames crazy at Pando Daily.
And then there’s Venezuela. At The Washington Post, Adam Tayor asks, Amid the coverage of Ukraine, is a crisis in Venezuela being ignored? It’s an interesting question. And what about Syria, which has pretty much disappeared in all the coverage of Ukraine? Is American media simply incapable of covering more than one foreign conflict at a time? Read all about it at the link.
One more story on Venezuela from Peter Weber at The Week: Venezuela isn’t going to be another Ukraine.
Venezuela is not Ukraine, and beneath the similarities in the protest movements are significant differences.
The first is time: The Kiev protesters started their demonstration in November after Yanukovych reneged on a European Union trade pact, and they gradually built up a tent fortress in the central Maidan Square. In Venezuela, the protests started on Feb. 4 at the university in San Cristóbal, with students showing their anger over the lack of police response to an attempted rape and crime in general.
The “brutal police crackdown” on the student protesters in San Cristóbal led to similar protests at other universities, which were also violently suppressed, says Francisco Toro in The New York Times. “As the cycle of protests, repression, and protests-against-repression spread, the focus of protest began to morph. What was at stake, the students realized, was the right to free assembly.” Toro continues:
It’s this intolerance of opposing views, and violent repression, that Venezuela’s students are now mobilized against. Today, after 13 deaths, 18 alleged cases of torture and over 500 student arrests, the protest movement has snowballed into a nationwide paroxysm of anger that puts the government’s stability in question. The protests’ lack of structure has given them resilience, but also an anarchic edge. There is no single leader in a position to give the movement strategic direction. [The New York Times]
Read more comparisons at the link.
In Other News . . .
If you think the prospect of being spied on by NSA is frightening, you need to read this article by James Robinson at Pando Daily: Knightscope’s new robotic law enforcer is like staring at the demise of humanity.
Knightscope’s autonomous, crime fighting robot has the complexion of a washing machine. In pictures it looks cute, the size of a penguin maybe. In person it is five feet tall with intimidating breadth. It moves steadily and with insistence. If you stare at it long enough, the twin panels of lights about two-thirds of the way up its body start to take on the appearance of shifty, judgmental eyes. It sees what you’re doing and wants you to cut it out.
The full name of the Knightscope robot on display at the Launch Festival this morning was the K5 beta prototype. Former Ford Motor Company executive and Knightscope CEO William Santana Li describes it to MC and festival organizer Jason Calacanis onstage as a “crime fighting autonomous data machine.” But that doesn’t come close to doing it justice….
As Santana Li outlines proudly, the beast before him on stage takes in 360-degree video through four cameras, is capable of thermal imaging, registers gestures, recognizes faces and can run 300 license plates in a single minute. It works off proximity GPS and scans its environment every 25 milliseconds. It runs off nearly identical technology to Google’s self-driving cars. He boasts that it can see, feel, hear and smell. It is autonomous, will roam outdoors, can take video, decide when it needs to return and charge its batteries and can detect biological and chemical pathogens and radiation.
The Knightscope will get put out in the field gathering data, Santana Li says. The owner can log in to a security panel and get a read of what is going on in the area. The robot can scan license plates and report back on stolen cars. Its facial recognition capabilities can alert its owner to any registered sex offender in the area. The sample dashboard Santana Li logs in to, shows that the robot can report back about things as specific as how many people are lying horizontal and how many are gesturing with their hands. The company is working on giving it a 3M graffiti proof sheen, it emits a piercing sound if someone tries to tip it over and the machines will often work in pairs so they can protect each other.
How would you like to live in a world where one of those things is checking up on you wherever you go?
From Laura Bassett at Huffington Post, here’s the latest from the land of Republican misogyny and stupidity: Virginia Republican Says A Pregnant Woman Is Just A ‘Host,’ Though ‘Some Refer To Them As Mothers.’ Yes, someone really said that.
A pregnant woman is just a “host” that should not have the right to end her pregnancy, Virginia State Sen. Steve Martin (R) wrote in a Facebook rant defending his anti-abortion views.
Martin, the former chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, wrote a lengthy post about his opinions on women’s bodies on his Facebook walllast week in response to a critical Valentine’s Day card he received from reproductive rights advocates.
“I don’t expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive,” Martin wrote. “However, once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it.” Martin then changed his post on Monday afternoon to refer to the woman as the “bearer of the child” instead of the “host.”
Martin explained that he edited his post because “people took it the wrong way.” Read his original post at the link.
And then there’s good old Bobby Jindal, who still thinks he has a chance to be POTUS: Jindal Breaches White House Protocol To Take Shots At Obama.
The National Governors Association is supposed to bring Democrats and Republicans together to discuss policy and share ideas for mutual success, but after a meeting at the White House Monday, all pretense at bipartisan comity was shattered as a press conference with lawmakers descended into a partisan fracas.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal launched into a repeated assault on President Barack Obama’s leadership in the shadow of the West Wing, in defiance of established bipartisan protocol. Speaking after a meeting of the NGA at the White House, Jindal, the vice chair of the Republican Governors Association, said Obama is “waving a white flag” by focusing on executive actions with three years left in his term. “The Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy,” Jindal added….
Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy rose to challenge Jindal immediately after he spoke to reporters, calling his remarks on Obama waving a white flag “the most insane statement I’ve ever heard.”
Jindal then returned to the microphones to continue his barrage against the Obama administration, saying as Malloy walked off, “I want to make sure he hears a more partisan statement,” and saying Obama should delay the Affordable Care Act mandates. It wasn’t the first time Jindal had used the microphones outside the White House to attack the president, having done the same at last year’s meeting.
Fortunately, Bobby Jindal will never be president. What a horrible excuse for a human being.
As everyone knows by now, we lost a great comedy writer, director, and performer yesterday. From The Chicago Tribune: Harold Ramis, Chicago actor, writer and director, dead at 69.
Harold Ramis not only may be the most successful comedy writer-director that Chicago has produced, but some wouldn’t even confine that statement to Chicago.
“Harold was clearly the most successful comedy writer-director of all time,” said Tim Kazurinsky, who followed Ramis at Second City and later became his friend. “The number of films that he has made that were successful, that were blockbusters, nobody comes close. Even in light in of that, he was more successful as a human being.”
Ramis’ career was still thriving in 1996, with “Groundhog Day” acquiring almost instant classic status upon its 1993 release and 1984′s “Ghostbusters” ranking among the highest-grossing comedies of all time, when he decided to move his family back to the Chicago area, where he grew up and had launched his career.
On Monday, Ramis was surrounded by family in his North Shore home when he died at 12:53 a.m. of complications from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels, said his wife, Erica Mann Ramis. He was 69.
Read The New York Times obituary here: Harold Ramis, Alchemist of Comedy, Dies at 69.
Finally, a little True Detective news. Dakinikat posted this in the comments yesterday, but if you didn’t go to the link you might have missed something really revelatory.
A number of writers have noted that the hit HBO series focuses almost exclusively on the male characters and that women and children are only seen and heard in terms of their effect on the men–for example, see this article at The New Yorker by Emily Nussbaum: The shallow deep talk of “True Detective.”
Yesterday two feminist writers took a different point of view. At Slate, Willa Paskin argues that the way the men of True Detective treat women is actually at the heart of the narrative–that by not listening to women, Detectives Marty Hart and Rust Cohle miss the very clues that would help them solve their 17-year case.
Ignoring women may be the show’s blind spot, but it is also one of its major themes. True Detective is explicitly about the horrible things that men do to women, things that usually go unseen and uninvestigated. No one missed Dora Lange. Marie Fontenot disappeared, and the police let a rumor stop them from following up. Another little girl was abducted, and a report was never even filed. “Women and children are disappearing, nobody hears about it, nobody puts it together,” Rust told his boss Sunday night, outlining what he believes is a vast conspiracy in the Bayou. Rust is haunted by women who aren’t there—his ex-wife and his dead daughter—while Marty cannot deal appropriately with the women who are.
I’m inclined to agree with Paskin. In fact, I’m going to take it a step further and argue that I think, whatever else happens, this inability of the main characters to really see women is going to be their downfall. Over and over again, the show obsesses about the gap between self-serving delusions and narratives and what’s really going on. Marty repeatedly talks about how detectives frequently overlook what should have been most obvious, what was right under their noses. He calls it the “detective’s curse”. “Solution was right under my nose, but I was paying attention to the wrong clues.”
I am going to offer this prediction, then: The solution will be right under their noses, but they missed it because they don’t really see women.
Indeed, the internet sleuths are already on it. Remember that all-important yearbook photo that they found one of the victims in? Well, guess what? Other female characters that Marty and Rust have interacted with are in the picture. Here’s the picture with the women helpfully numbered.
On the far right of the front row is a girl who grew up to be the woman who killed her three children because of Munchhausen by proxy syndrome–the woman whom Rust got to confess and then told her to kill herself. Was she traumatized at that school? Could she have given him some valuable information? Why didn’t Rust follow up on those photos?
Something to think about while we wait for Sunday night to roll around.
Now it’s your turn. What stories are you following today? Please share your links in the comment thread.
Today’s post will be brought to you by the color purple. Why? I don’t know, maybe because of the color’s significance…maybe it is because I felt like it…maybe it is because I wanted to put up some of my saved images of women wearing purple hats. Who the hell knows.
Anyway, the links will be a mixture of this and that…mostly news stuff at first.
The Taliban confirmed publicly on Sunday that they had been in talks with the United States over the release of an American soldier, but said the talks had now been suspended.
The unusual Taliban statement, which was emailed to journalists, said that the talks had taken place “recently” with the mediation of Qatar, suggesting that meetings took place in Qatar, where the Taliban have an unofficial political office.
The talks had previously been rumored, but this is the first time the insurgents have publicly confirmed them. They are aimed at reviving a longstanding offer by the American government to release Taliban prisoners from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, into custody in Qatar, in exchange for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of the United States Army, the only American being held by insurgents in Afghanistan.
Talks confirmed and suspended in the same emailed statement. Prior to this message, news of a Taliban attack also hit the MSM:
The Afghan Taliban attacked an army outpost in eastern Kunar province early on Sunday, the Afghan government said, killing 19 soldiers in what appeared to be the most deadly assault on security forces in months.
Defence Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi, in a posting on his Twitter feed, said 19 soldiers were killed, and two wounded, in Kunar’s Ghaziabad district.
Abdul Ghani Musamem, spokesman for the provincial governor, said seven soldiers were captured by the Taliban in the attack in a remote, mountainous area near the border with Pakistan.
He said Afghan forces had launched an operation to try to free the captured soldiers. The Defence Ministry did not immediately confirm the report of captured soldiers.
In a statement provided to media organizations, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
My head gets dizzy with this news of violence, but it is not the only mess in the world that seems to be never-ending.
Of course, you have Syria: Car bomb kills nine people in Syrian town of Atmeh: activists | Reuters
At least nine people were killed in a car bomb attack on Sunday near a field hospital in the Syrian town of Atmeh near the border with Turkey, activists said.
The hospital is owned by Ghassan Aboud, a Gulf-based businessman who runs Orient Television, which said at least 10 people were killed.
That was filed at 4:55 am EST…yeah, I know it is that late/early. (What can I say, Treasure of Sierra Madre is on TCM and I have to make the Sicilian pizza today which I will need to start soon anyway.)
In Ukraine, Fox News is reporting via AP: Where’s the President? Yanukovych’s whereabouts unknown
Nearly a full day after Ukrainian President Viktor Yankovych departed his country’s capital, Kiev, leaving it to the protesters who have called for his removal for three months and the parliament that voted to do just that Saturday, no one seems to know where he is.
A plane with Yanukovych onboard was denied permission to take off Saturday evening from Donetsk, a city in eastern Ukraine that is the president’s base of support, en route to Russia, the State Border Guard Service said. Oleh Slobodyan of the State Border Guard service told the Associated Press Sunday that the plane did not have the proper documentation. The president was driven off in a car from the airport.
Yanukovych did speak on television Saturday in Kharkiv, accusing his opponents of trying to overthrow the government.
“Everything that is happening today is, to a greater degree, vandalism and banditry and a coup d’etat,” he said. “I will do everything to protect my country from breakup, to stop bloodshed.”
However, Yanukovych’s movements have not been accounted for since, and even his spokesman told the Associated Press Sunday morning that he does not know where his boss is.
Protestors have taken the city of Kiev for now and protestors have flocked into the empty presidential compound. But during the height of chaos this week, one news outlet managed to capture stunning footage of Kiev from above with the help of a drone.
The drone, utilized by the German news agency Ruptly, captured some pretty unsettling footage showing parts of the city up in flames after days and days of protests. Thursday was the bloodiest day of the conflict thus far, with dozens killed and hundreds more injured as protestors faced off with Ukraine police forces.
Video at the link.
Hey, but Europe/Eastern Europe/Central Asia etc, aren’t the only places having it out, down in South America: Venezuela death toll reaches 11 as protests continue – latimes.com
Opponents and supporters of President Nicolas Maduro held massive demonstrations Saturday in central Caracas and other Venezuelan cities as the unofficial death toll rose to 11 in more than a week of unrest.
Leading the opposition demonstration in eastern Caracas was Liliana Tintori, wife of Leopoldo Lopez, the former Caracas borough mayor who was arrested this week and charged with inciting violence that has erupted during protests.
Lopez and other opposition leaders say armed pro-government vigilantes have been responsible for the deaths and that the opposition has demonstrated peacefully to protest rising crime and shortages. Speaking at a rally attended by tens of thousands of mostly white-shirted opposition members, Tintori said her husband has been jailed unjustly.
“No one can tell me this is not a dictatorship. This is a dictatorship,” said Tintori who shared the platform with opposition leaders Maria Corina Machado and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles. “No one can tell me we are divided. We are united. Leopoldo will do what is necessary so that Venezuelans unite in peace, and can walk the streets in safety.”
Now, back to the USA…Y’all heard about the shit Ted Nugent said about Obama, calling him a ‘subhuman mongrel.’ Take a look at this: The GOP, Race and Ted Nugent: If you won’t Denounce Nazi Insults, What does that Say about You? | Informed Comment
On Friday, Nugent “apologized” (though “not to president Obama”) for using the language insofar as it embarrassed other Republicans associated with him. That is, he did not actually apologize at all.
Sarah Palin said of Abbott, “if he’s good enough for Ted Nugent, he’s good enough for me!” Sen. Ted Cruz, quizzed on Nugent’s language, replied that he was sure that President Obama’s Hollywood friends had also said some extreme things.
Really, Ted? This comment is just “extreme”? And which liberal in the film industry has said anything like that?
The fact is that the Republican Party today has a problem with race. Not across the board, but it is there. The Party is is disproportionately made up of self-conceived white southerners with some white Midwesterners and westerners, allied with Wall Street big money. It has even lost the majority of Asian-Americans and Arab-Americans, and can’t get even a plurality of Latinos or more than a handful of African-Americans (traditionally Republicans before the 1970s) to vote for it. The Tea Party and other currents in the party often express white male rage about the rise of the minorities, and the party’s refusal to consider immigration reform is rooted in that rage.
Of course you can read more at the link.
There was also some news about asshole cops:
That is quality top notch policing if you ask me. /snark
More ridiculous crap to get you worked up here…I got this petition notice in my email yesterday.
In an article in The Nation by Jessica Valenti, TED content director and TEDWomen co-host Kelly Stoetzel said that abortion does not fit into the focus on “wider issues of justice, inequality and human rights.” She said that “Abortion is more of a topical issue we wouldn’t take a position on, any more than we’d take a position on a state tax bill.”
But that’s just it – access to abortion IS an issue of justice, inequality, and human rights. As NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue noted in her letter, last year the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, issued a report declaring that denying women access to abortion amounts to torture. If families cannot care for, feed, or plan their families adequately, they are more likely to remain in poverty. That’s inequality. As Tara Culp-Ressler points out, 47,000 women die from unsafe abortions every year. Not talking about abortion has many consequences. It leads to inadequate support for people who have abortions, lack of insurance coverage of abortion, and even unsafe abortions.
Statistics show that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the time they turn 45, but because of silence and stigma, they often don’t feel safe enough to talk about their abortion. I know this from experience. I felt ashamed and isolated for six years. I had no one to talk to. The people I meet who’ve had abortions feel it too. Abortion stigma hurts. Can we talk about it?
By talking openly about abortion, TED Talks will reach out to millions of people with abortion experiences and tell us that we matter. Our stories matter.
What if TED spread a great new idea – how to listen to people’s experience with compassion, love, and without judgment?
Those of us who have had abortions, and our loved ones, hear you. We are watching you. Will you take a moment to listen to us? Will you help share our stories?
TED Talks have the power to shift abortion stigma. They have the power to create a space within TED where people can hear nuanced, honest abortion stories. Our voices need to be heard. TED Talks: Lift Your Ban on Abortion!
If you can go on TED Talks and listen to the
shit talks they have by Jesus freaks Rick Warren, Billy Graham, A.J. Jacobs, then I think they have enough space to hold talks on women’s issues as important as rights to safe legal abortion.
Look at this interesting map, I wonder what Dak has to say about it: Income Inequality Is Even Worse In Big Cities: Study
As for something fun: 15 Made-Up Words That You Should Start Using Right Now
Ever heard of “nurdeling”? You know, the act of sticking your cold feet under someone’s butt on the couch. How about a “woolly-doop-doop”? That thing, when you’re driving and you go fast over a bump in the road, and that it makes your stomach jump a little. Not ringing any bells?
Well, that’s because these are made-up words, courtesy of “The Made-Up Words Project.” The hilarious illustration series is the brainchild of designer Rinee Shah, a San Francisco-based artist who sketches out the meanings of comically nonsensical terms. Particularly, words that are commonplace amongst certain groups of friends and family members that, for one reason or another, just stuck.
You can see Shah artwork here: The Made-Up Words Project
I am thinking of sending her my daughter’s phrase “Coochie Day” you know, what she calls those days when only beings with “coochies” go out and do something special. No “dingys” aloud!
Okay, on to news out of the NFL:
John Wooten, head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that monitors diversity in the NFL, said he expects the league’s competition committee to enact a rule at the owner’s meeting next month making it an automatic 15-yard penalty if a player uses the N-word on the field, with a second infraction meriting an ejection.
I wonder when the use of the word “Redskins” will get the same kind of racial allocation?
Michael Sam stepped onto stage and looked into what might have been the largest media gathering in the history of the NFL scouting combine. Hundreds of reporters clustered in, and there were three rows of TV and video cameras.
“I just wish you guys would just see me as Michael Sam the football player,” the Missouri defensive end said, “instead of Michael Sam the gay football player.”
Then again, it was Sam who generated the story with his announcement two weeks ago he is homosexual, telling his story to the New York Times and ESPN. He is on track to become the first openly gay professional athlete in a major American team sport, and he acknowledges the significance of his place in history.
“Everything that my Mizzou family has done for me has been amazing,” he said, wearing a small, rainbow-colored “Stand With Sam” button on his NFL-issued sweatsuit. “I walk around campus and dozens of students and faculty give me hugs or kisses, start crying in my arms. It’s unbelievable.”
I think it is wonderful and brave of Sam to come out like he did. It should not be such a big deal, but believe me it is. I know in all these years of NFL there have been gay players on the field. It would be crazy to think that the NFL has been “gay free,” just as it is to think Sochi is “gay free.”
And even though I could usually care less about the draft, I am paying attention to it this time.
Tennis great Billie Jean King arrived for Sunday’s closing of the 2014 Winter Olympics with a message for Russia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community: Hang in, hang on, and you’re not alone.
“Having the Winter Olympics here, the situation here in Russia, has opened up dialogue,” King said Saturday. “I’m always big on love over hate, and I think it’s important that everyone’s treated equally and good to each other. Hopefully, the LGBT community here in Russia knows that they’re not alone and we’ll learn from them.”
King, who is gay, is part of the official U.S. delegation that will witness the end of the 23-day international sports festival. Her presence represents the United States’ objection to a so-called “anti-propaganda” law that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed last June.
In other Olympic news, did you see the racist comments from Ashley Wagner Blasts Olympic Figure Skating Judging, Calls For An End To Anonymous Judging
Well, for a little more analysis on that statement of Wagner: Why Ashley Wagner Is Wrong About Figure Skating
The American skater who ended up in seventh place yesterday is all over the news this morning saying she feels cheated — actually, “gypped” is the word she unfortunately used. Wagner is already known for the face she made when she got a low score during the team competition earlier in the games. Now she’s publicly questioning the sport’s judging system.
Before the scores even came in commentator Tara Lipinski noted, “To the audience it may look perfect, but when the judges go back and examine those landings she’s going to lose a lot of points.”
“A few shaky landings, a few issues here and there, landing on two feet,” said Johnny Weir. “But it wasn’t a flying endorsement of Ashley Wagner.”
Weir used the word endorsement because her selection for the U.S. Olympic team was surprising after a poor performance at Nationals — an unofficial qualifying event for the American team — where she finished fourth and fell twice. But the skating association sent Wagner to the Olympics because she has more experience in the international competitive circuit than skater who finished ahead of her, Mirai Nagasu.
Wagner’s skates at the Olympics are certainly a huge personal victory after all that doubt and pressure. Taking her bows after the long program, she was celebrating like she had the skate of her life. And her performances were fun to watch and both good ones — but just because she didn’t fall doesn’t mean they were great. And it doesn’t mean, as she is suggesting, that she deserves to place higher than other skaters who did fall, especially when those other skaters landed more difficult jumps more beautifully than she did. Her remarks are poor sportsmanship — and seem to be a campaign to change the sport to favor those who don’t take risks.
Enough of that shit, now for some interesting and pretty links.
With its steep, forested mountains set against blue skies, Romania’s central Pojarna Valley once looked like a postcard landscape but illegal logging has turned the site into an ugly scar.
“The guys who did this used excavators. They even destroyed the young trees,” said Gheorghe Ridichie, an official at Romania’s forestry ministry, pointing to thousands of stumps poking out of the valley’s now-barren slopes.
Barren slopes to bare naked bodies: Photos Of Nude Dancers Show A Very Different Side Of The Human Body (NSFW)
Ludovic Florent‘s series “Poussières d’étoiles” (Stardust). In it, the French photographer captures the fluid movements of nude dancers, their bodies partially covered by clouds of dust that both obscure and accentuate the curves and lines of their muscles. The images provide a very different perspective of the human body, emphasizing the dynamic potential of bare forms.
More than 750 sharks, tarpon, tuna and billfish, fitted with satellite-linked tags, are providing scientists with data on temperature and salinity at various depths in the Atlantic, Gulf and Caribbean. It’s information they hope could someday be used to improve hurricane forecasts, since a storm’s strength largely depends on how much warm water it will encounter.
“What the fish are providing is a profile of the ocean’s heat structure,” said Jerald Ault, a marine biology professor at the University of Miami. “You get a picture of what the upper layers of the ocean look like.”
Ault and other scientists at UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science started tagging tarpon in 2001 and sharks in 2010 to learn more about migration, feeding and reproduction. About three years ago, they discovered a remarkable pattern: the fish remained in waters that were about 79 degrees, the minimum required for tropical systems to develop.
In addition, many swam into the waters around tropical systems, which churned up nutrients and made hunting for food easier.
That’s when scientists realized that fish could provide accurate ocean temperatures, which could be fed into the computer models that forecasters use to develop tropical predictions.
Funny how animals can predict things like weather, storms, earthquake and tsunamis? Some can even tell when people are about to have epileptic seizures. I don’t know, something to think about on this Sunday Morning isn’t it?
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A fascinating new study found that Asian elephants comfort each other in times of stress by touching each other with their trunks and making consoling vocalizations. From National Geographic:
Asian elephants, like great apes, dogs, certain corvids (the bird group that includes ravens), and us, have now been shown to recognize when a herd mate is upset and to offer gentle caresses and chirps of sympathy, according to a study published February 18 in the online journal PeerJ.
Joshua Plotnik, a behavioral ecologist at Mahidol University in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, and primatologist Frans de Waal, director ofEmory University’s Living Links Center, have shown through a controlled study what those who work with elephants have always believed: The animals, in this case captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), offer something akin to humans’ sympathetic concern when observing distress in another, including their relatives and friends.
The scientists observed a group of 26 elephants in Thailand for a year. It was a naturalistic study–researchers waited until a stressful situation occurred and then noted the animals’ behavior toward each other. From The Christian Science Monitor:
A stress-inducing situation might be a dog walking by or a snake rustling the grass, or the roar or just the presence of a bull elephant. Sometimes the stressor was unknown. Regardless, scientists know elephant distress when they see it: erect tails and flared ears; vocalizations such as trumpeting, rumbling, or roaring; and sudden defecation and urination tell the story….the scientists witnessed bystander elephants—those not directly affected by a stressor—moving to and giving upset elephants physical caresses, mostly inside the mouth (which is kind of like a hug to elephants) and on the genitals.
Bystanders also rumbled and chirped with vocal offerings that suggested reassurance. Sometimes the empathetic animals formed a protective circle around the distressed one.
There was also evidence of “emotional contagion,” when herd mates matched the behavior and emotional state of the upset individual. In other words, seeing a “friend” in distress was distressing to the observers. Those animals also consoled one another.
Here’s another interesting study at Scientific American–this time about humans: A Happy Life May not be a Meaningful Life. The results reminded me of all the super rich guys who are constantly complaining about how victimized they are by the rest of us peons.
Psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl once wrote, “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” For most people, feeling happy and finding life meaningful are both important and related goals. But do happiness and meaning always go together? It seems unlikely, given that many of the things that we regularly choose to do – from running marathons to raising children – are unlikely to increase our day-to-day happiness. Recent research suggests that while happiness and a sense of meaning often overlap, they also diverge in important and surprising ways.
Roy Baumeister and his colleagues recently published a study in the Journal of Positive Psychology that helps explain some of the key differences between a happy life and a meaningful one. They asked almost 400 American adults to fill out three surveys over a period of weeks. The surveys asked people to answer a series of questions their happiness levels, the degree to which they saw their lives as meaningful, and their general lifestyle and circumstances.
As one might expect, people’s happiness levels were positively correlated with whether they saw their lives as meaningful. However, the two measures were not identical – suggesting that what makes us happy may not always bring more meaning, and vice versa. To probe for differences between the two, the researchers examined the survey items that asked detailed questions about people’s feelings and moods, their relationships with others, and their day-to-day activities. Feeling happy was strongly correlated with seeing life as easy, pleasant, and free from difficult or troubling events. Happiness was also correlated with being in good health and generally feeling well most of the time. However, none of these things were correlated with a greater sense of meaning. Feeling good most of the time might help us feel happier, but it doesn’t necessarily bring a sense of purpose to our lives.
Interestingly, the researchers found that money can buy happiness, but it can’t guarantee a meaningful life. This is something I’ve come to believe through long and painful experience. I think a sense of meaning comes from working your way through problems and difficult times and coming out the other side stronger and wiser. Rich people are often able to shield themselves from life problems, but at the same time they miss out on opportunities for emotional growth.
Of course relationships are also important for both happiness and a sense of meaning.
In Baumeister’s study, feeling more connected to others improved both happiness and meaning. However, the role we adopt in our relationships makes an important difference. Participants in the study who were more likely to agree with the statement, “I am a giver,” reported less happiness than people who were more likely to agree with, “I am a taker.” However, the “givers” reported higher levels of meaning in their lives compared to the “takers.” In addition, spending more time with friends was related to greater happiness but not more meaning. In contrast, spending more time with people one loves was correlated with greater meaning but not with more happiness. The researchers suspect that spending time with loved ones is often more difficult, but ultimately more satisfying, than spending time with friends.
This is something else I can testify to. I spent about 18 years being a primary caregiver for my ex-mother-in-law. At times this was a thankless, frustrating task that certainly didn’t make me happy all the time–but in the end, I realized that the experience had been meaningful and I had grown a great deal from it.
It looks like Hillary is going to be in the news a great deal between now and the 2016 presidential primaries. We’ve seen the Republicans ramping up their campaign against her–so far by focusing on old gossip from the 1990s. Even the Vince Foster conspiracy theories are coming back to haunt us. Bob Cesca at The Daily Banter reported yesterday that Fox News was set to resurface not only Vince Foster myths, but also Kathleen Willey’s claims that Bill Clinton sexually harassed her.
One of the top shelf conspiracy theories about the Clintons had to do with the suicide of White House advisor Vince Foster, which topped a list of other suspected deaths at the hands of Bill and Hillary. Now, 13 years after the end of that administration and at the outset of the would-be presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton, everything from the ’90s appears to be back on the table.
We’ve already heard from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who was the first to invoke Monica Lewinsky. And now here comes Fox News Channel resurrecting the Vince Foster conspiracy theory.
On tonight’s The Kelly File, Megyn Kelly welcomes Kathleen Willey who famously accused President Clinton of sexual harassment. An independent counsel discredited the groping allegations. Nevertheless, Willey has gone on to accuse the Clintons of not only assassinating Vince Foster, but also of murdering her husband.
Sigh . . . I don’t know if anyone here watched that travesty–I wonder if Megyn explained why Hillary should be held responsible for things her husband did (or was accused of doing) decades ago.
As an antidote to that nonsense, here are a couple of very interesting polls:
Politico: Hillary Clinton sweeps GOP in Ohio
Hillary Clinton buries Gov. Chris Christie and other potential Republican presidential candidates in the crucial swing state of Ohio, according to a new poll on Thursday.
The former secretary of state, who led Christie 42 percent to 41 percent in November, now tops the New Jersey governor 49 percent to 36 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.
Read the rest of the numbers at the link.
Now here’s a poll that will make Dakinikat smile: In a Stunning Turn Poll Shows Hillary Clinton Could Make Louisiana Blue in 2016 (Politicus USA)
A new Public Policy Polling survey of Louisana found that Hillary Clinton would be the strongest Democratic presidential candidate in the state since her husband Bill was on the ballot in the 1990s.
According to PPP, “All the Republican contenders for President lead Hillary Clinton in hypothetical contests, but the margins are closer than they’ve been in the state since her husband was on the ticket. Christie leads her by just a point at 44/43, Jindal’s up 2 at 47/45, Paul leads by 4 points at 47/43, Huckabee has a 5 point advantage at 49/44, and the strongest Republican with a 7 point edge at 50/43 is Jeb Bush.”
Hillary Clinton’s numbers represent the best showing for a Democratic presidential candidate in the state since her husband Bill Clinton won Louisiana by 5 points in 1992 and 12 points in 1996. George W. Bush won the state by 8 points in 2000, and 15 points in 2004. McCain beat Obama by 19 in 2008, and Mitt Romney defeated the president by a margin of 18 points in 2012.
Wow! It’s still very early, but that is exciting news.
You may recall that last August, Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda was detained at Heathrow Airport in London and questioned about documents he was carrying–top secret documents that had been stolen by Edward Snowden from the U.S. and Great Britain. Miranda’s computers, flash drives and other electronic devices were also confiscated. Greenwald and Miranda sued, claiming that Great Britain charging him under their “anti-terrorism laws was unlawful and breached human rights.” Yesterday the court released its decision, saying that judges said it was a “proportionate measure in the circumstances” and in the interests of national security. From BBC News:
Steven Kovats QC, representing the UK home secretary, previously told the High Court that the secret material seized from Mr Miranda could have ended up in the hands of al-Qaeda.
But Mr Miranda’s lawyers argued the detention at Heathrow was illegal because it was carried out under the wrong law: Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
They said that in reality he was detained on the say-so of the security services so they could seize journalistic material.
Mr Miranda was carrying 58,000 highly classified Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) files, the judge said.
He added that Oliver Robbins, the UK’s deputy national security adviser at the Cabinet Office, had stated that “release or compromise of such data would be likely to cause very great damage to security interests and possible loss of life”.
But could Miranda be called a “journalist” just because he was carrying material that his partner had written about in a newspaper, The Guardian?
In his ruling, Lord Justice Laws said: “The claimant was not a journalist; the stolen GCHQ intelligence material he was carrying was not ‘journalistic material’, or if it was, only in the weakest sense.
“But he was acting in support of Mr Greenwald’s activities as a journalist. I accept that the Schedule 7 stop constituted an indirect interference with press freedom, though no such interference was asserted by the claimant at the time.
“In my judgement, however, it is shown by compelling evidence to have been justified.”
Here’s the full decision of the court. There is a subtle but emphatic slap-down of Glenn Greenwald’s arguments in points 54-56. The judged noted that Greenwald appeared to be lecturing the court when he discussed “responsible journalism,” and responded that the “evidence” Greenwald offered was “unhelpful,” because he took the position that British law enforcement officers deliberately acted in a way that they (officers) knew to be wrong; he ignored the fact that the material Miranda was carrying was stolen and could end up in the wrong hands; and that
Mr Greenwald’s account (paragraph 33) of the “many ingredients to the sensible reporting of very sensitive information” is insubstantial; or rather, mysterious – the reader is left in the dark as to how it is that “highly experienced journalists and
legal experts” (paragraph 33(1)) or “[e]xperienced editors and reporters” (33(2)) are able to know what may and what may not be published without endangering life or security.
Miranda and Greenwald hope to be granted the right to appeal the decision.
I’m just about out of space, so I’ll conclude with a quickie from Sochi: Olympian Films Wolf Stalking Her Hotel Hallway.
Olympian Kate Hansen tweeted out a video of what appears to be a wolf trotting down her hotel hallway with the message, “I’m pretty sure this is a wolf wandering my hall in Sochi.” via