Wednesday Reads: Damn you Windstream… Gotta make this quick!

Evelyn Preer, 1896-1932

Evelyn Preer, 1896-1932

Unbelievable.

Unfuckingbelievable.

Oh yeah… Good morning.

Sorry but I have had it with Windstream. They are the only provider here in Banjoville and since they own the monopoly on services for phone and internet where we live, they have us by the balls…and believe me, they know it. For years we have had problems with this company. Always paying for high speed internet when there’s nothing high speed about it. In fact, it was even proved in court!

Windstream to Pay $600,000 in Connection with False Advertising Allegations | Press Releases | Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection

John Sours, Administrator of the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection (“GOCP”) today announced that the agency has entered into a $600,000 settlement with Internet service provider Windstream Communications Inc. (“Windstream”) over allegations of false advertising.

Windstream provides Internet service to residential consumers and businesses, many of whom are located in rural parts of Georgia, where they have very limited options for Internet service.  GOCP alleges that:

  • Windstream advertised that it would provide certain Internet speeds to its customers that it could not provide and/or guarantee, particularly for Georgia consumers whose network equipment is supported by copper-fed wires.
  • When customers called Windstream to complain about their slow Internet speeds, Windstream representatives allegedly misrepresented the time frame within which the customers’ Internet speed issues would be resolved, or, in the case of customers whose equipment is supported by copper-fed wires, failed to tell customers that it was unable to resolve the issue.
  • Some of Windstream’s “Lifetime Price Guarantee bundle” advertisements falsely implied that the advertised offer included high-speed Internet packages with speeds of “up to 12 Mbps”.
  • Windstream also allegedly advertised a free 6-month “Hulu Plus” subscription but did not clearly disclose that consumers who failed to cancel the subscription at or before the 6-month period would be charged membership fees every month thereafter, until the membership was cancelled.
Evelyn Preer, 1896-1932

Evelyn Preer, 1896-1932

In resolution of these allegations, Windstream will pay a total of $600,000, which includes a $175,000 civil penalty, $175,000 in administrative fees and expenses, and $250,000 in cy pres restitution to be used for the purchase of new computer equipment for the Technical College System of Georgia.

Yeah but did you get that last bit? None of the folks who actually paid for all that “high speed” service will see a dime of this money. Most of the Tech colleges are in the areas of Georgia that did not suffer from Windstream’s false advertising scheme.

It fucking sucks!

Windstream Pays $600,000 to Settle False Broadband Speed Claims in Georgia | Stop the Cap!

“This is essentially a truth in advertising case,” says John Sours, administrator of the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection.  “What consumers thought they were getting from a major company was significantly different from what they allegedly received. People need to be able to make informed choices about buying the services they need to communicate and do business. We are confident that this settlement will ensure that will now occur here.”

A GOCP investigation found substantial evidence Windstream routinely advertised and sold certain Internet speeds to customers it should have known it could not provide and/or guarantee, especially over its deteriorating copper landline network. Customers complained they should have been sold cheaper broadband packages with Internet speeds Windstream could actually deliver.

I can tell you it is bullshit because they company is still offering shitty ass service.

Oh, and no…confident my ass. Informed choices? Ha, we have no stinking choices.

Windstream has represented to the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection that it is in the process of investing about $14 million to upgrade its fiber-supported areas in Georgia.  The company says that 90% or more of these upgrades were completed by the end of 2013, with the remaining upgrades slated for completion by mid-2014. The company expects the upgrades to address systemic download speed issues in the areas undergoing the upgrades. It is also seeking federal funding as well as exploring other options for upgrading the Internet service for consumers who are served by network equipment supported by copper-fed wires.

And I can tell you this is also bullshit. Oh they have fiber optic wire from another company that runs only a few hundred feet as the crow flies from out house, but the company is not expanding out service to the local roads. So I wouldn’t doubt if there is a particular reason why this other company cannot expand its fiber optics into our area….Windstream and their monopoly in rural Georgia.

Oscar Micheaux

Oscar Micheaux

Internet provider Windstream agrees to $600,000 settlement with Georgia | Times Free Press

Windstream serves primarily rural areas. That would include about two-thirds of the state geographically.

Despite the settlement, Windstream officials are not admitting guilt to any of the accusations levied against the company.

“[The] agreement includes no finding or admission of violation by the company,” wrote Scott Morris, Windstream corporate affairs senior adviser, in an email.

He said Windstream “has cooperated fully” with the state during its two-year investigation and is now “pleased to resolve” the investigation by settling and promising to stay inside advertising laws.

Windstream services 372,000 customers in Georgia. It serves 48 states around the country.

But there is another big money settlement involving Windstream, this time it is paying millions in fines to the FCC. Windstream Fined Millions By FCC | 92.1 WLHR

Windstream Corp. has agreed to pay $2.5 million to resolve an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau into the company’s rural call completion practices.

Windstream has also agreed to implement a three-year plan to ensure compliance with FCC requirements designed to combat the problem of long-distance calls failing to complete in rural areas.

00373098-119854_360Windstream typically uses third-party phone companies for their land-line long distance service.

Customers have been complaining to the FCC that their long-distance land-line calls were being dropped or didn’t go through at all.

“Long-distance calls placed to rural areas – or anywhere – should reach their destination,” said  Michele Ellison, Chief of the FCC Enforcement Bureau. “Rural call completion failures jeopardize the fundamental promise that all Americans should have access to reliable communications. If companies don’t fulfill this critical responsibility, the FCC will continue to step in.”

 

Yesterday when they came to fix our internet for yet another one of countless number of times, the landline phone also went out of service. When my dad called to get someone out to fix the phone line, they said they could not have two work orders on the same account, even though one was for the phone line and one was for the dsl service. Yeah? You believe that shit? That we had to pick which one we wanted fixed.

Which is why I say, it is unfuckingbelievable!

e0020274_49d25c27882f6Sorry for the rant, but utilities are something of a bad subject around Banjoville these days.   Our local TVA co-op has some issues with non-payment of electric bills for members of the board….to the tune of over 100,000 bucks! (Our local paper has the total around $162,00.) Yet the EMC will shut off someone’s electric in the middle of a snow storm for a bill owed over 50 dollars.

Blue Ridge EMC chairman resigns amid thousands in unpaid… | www.wsbtv.com

Documents show EMC officials knew about special treatment for… | www.wsbtv.com

Of course now they are saying it was a stuck meter, whatever the fuck that means…the corruption, it burns.

withinourgates_720x500So because the internet may cut off at any moment, the rest of this post will be in link dump format…and free from rant.

The following two links are about the Malaysian jet brought down over the Ukraine, be sure to look at both of the sites because they each have pictures and graphics that you must see.

Malaysian Jet Over Ukraine Was Downed by ‘High-Energy Objects,’ Dutch Investigators Say – NYTimes.com

MH17: Malaysia Airlines flight hit many times, says report

Photo (2)I wonder if years from now, they will find the other Malaysian airline, the one that went missing 6 months ago (can you believe it.) Then 170 years from now, a headline on a iWatch site would resemble this one, only the mystery would be Malaysia Airlines flight MH370  : Arctic Shipwreck Found After 170 Years, Solving “Great Mystery”

Now for a few racist remarks and statements made by a couple of GOP politicians.

within-our-gatesOne from Dakinikat’s state of Louisiana…

Louisiana Senate Candidate: U.S. Senate Is Run ‘Like A Plantation’ | ThinkProgress

And one from my peach-ass state of Georgia:

An angry state Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, is promising to end Sunday balloting in DeKalb County when state lawmakers assemble in the Capitol next January. – AJC

gatesGOP DeKalb lawmaker upset about early voting that could increase African-American turnout | Atlanta News & Opinion Blog | Fresh Loaf | Creative Loafing Atlanta

Then you have this little tale of a couple in love, and a woman bent on fucking it up.

Marriage of couple, 96 and 95, mired in legal issues | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com

Of course, the sister who is not caring for the old couple is the one bringing on the lawsuit. Go figure eh?

Finally, I caught this movie late the other night on TCM. You all need to watch it.

Within_AdWithin Our Gates (1920) – IMDb

Abandoned by her fiancé, an educated negro woman with a shocking past dedicates herself to helping a near bankrupt school for impoverished negro youths. Within Our Gates was produced and directed by Oscar Micheaux in 1919. He is considered to be the first African-American director of feature films and this is the first such film still in existence.

Cast (IMDB): Evelyn Preer as Sylvia Landry; Flo Clements as Alma Prichard; James D. Ruffin as Conrad Drebert; Jack Chenault as Larry Prichard; William Smith as Detective Philip Gentry; Charles D. Lucas as Dr. V. Vivian; Bernice Ladd as Mrs. Geraldine Stratton; Mrs. Evelyn as Mrs. Elena Warwick; William Stark as Jasper Landry; Mattie Edwards as Jasper’s Wife; Ralph Johnson as Philip Gridlestone; E.G. Tatum as Efram, Gridlestone’s Servant; Grant Edwards as Emil Landry; Grant Gorman as Armand Gridlestone; Leigh Whipper ; Jimmie Cook as (uncredited); S.T. Jacks as Reverend Wilson Jacobs (uncredited).

Why I’ll Watch Oscar Micheaux’s Within Our Gates until I Wear It Outwithin-our-gates m

Too often the films’ stylized acting and overwrought plots elicit laughter or induce napping. Like scratchy 78 recordings, silent films require more concentration and patience than many students possess.

Yet one silent movie that consistently stirs my students’ imaginations is Oscar Micheaux’s Within Our Gates (1920). Crammed into 80 minutes is a complex plot of love, betrayal, murder, rape, lynching, gambling, miscegenation, racial uplift, white bigotry, and black migration from the rural South to the urban North. Translated onto film are the hardships of blacks in the Jim Crow era United States, the promises and disappointments of black freedom, and the emergence of the “New Negro.” The film is one of the earliest examples, and certainly the most ambitious extant example, of black appropriation of the emerging technology to contest representations of African Americans in mass culture.

Like an overstuffed used bookstore, Within Our Gates invites close and repeated inspection. Although I have watched the film countless times, with each viewing I discover something previously overlooked. Micheaux was a neophyte, self-taught filmmaker when he directed the film, and the intricacies of the movie’s plot are sometimes difficult to follow. Yet, if the plot is understood as a triptych of related but distinct acts, the film’s scope and ambitions become clear, indeed remarkable.

Within_Our_Gates_1920_newspaper_adThe film opens with the protagonist, Sylvia Landry, a young black woman, visiting her cousin Alma in the North while she awaits her fiancé’s return from military service. Harboring designs on her cousin’s betrothed, Alma contrives to fix Sylvia up with her brother-in-law, a dissipated card shark. Alma succeeds in catching Sylvia in a compromising situation just as her fiancé returns, prompting him to break off the engagement. Despondent, Sylvia returns south and dedicates herself to teaching at a school for the children of black sharecroppers. Despite the tireless efforts Sylvia and her mentor, Rev. Wilson Jacobs, the school is overcrowded and severely underfunded by local white authorities. Faced with the school’s collapse, Sylvia returns to the North to raise funds.

within-our-gates-larry-threatens-sylviaTo this point, the film appears to be a romantic melodrama yoked to a story of thwarted racial uplift in the rural South. Micheaux was a self-made man who embraced and proselytized the era’s “up by the boot straps” dogma. The son of former slaves, he held odd jobs before homesteading in South Dakota. There, although largely self-educated, he began to write and publish stories and novels, which he sold door to door. Convinced that his semi-autobiographical novel The Homesteader was worthy of a film, he secured sufficient funds to form a movie production company and, in 1919, released his first film. A year later, when he made Within Our Gates, he continued to promote black uplift while displaying anxiety about corrupting urban influences on rural blacks. Like the jeremiads delivered by contemporary black ministers, Micheaux’s film dwelled on the obligation to strive for respectability. As a pioneer black filmmaker working in a medium abounding with invidious racial stereotypes, Micheaux acutely sensed the importance of depicting blacks comporting themselves with decorum and modesty. Even so, he did not shy away from acknowledging those blacks whose behavior, he believed, contributed to stereotypes. In contrast to Sylvia and Rev. Jacobs, who are paragons of respectability, Alma and her brother-in-law personify forms of selfishness and dissolution that impede the race’s potential.

vivian_and_sylviaThe tone and focus of Within Our Gates shift markedly when Sylvia journeys north to fundraise. Micheaux resorts to improbable plot contrivances to shift our attention to the poisonous effects of white racism. Already frustrated by her failure to raise money, Sylvia is waylaid by a black thug who snatches her purse. Fortunately, Dr. V. Vivian, a dashing young black man “passionately engaged in social questions,” runs down her assailant. A budding romance between Dr. Vivian and Sylvia is abruptly halted when she is struck by an automobile belonging, coincidentally, to a wealthy white philanthropist. After learning of Sylvia’s mission, the philanthropist considers donating money to Sylvia’s school. A southern friend to whom she turns for advice is appalled that misguided altruism may lead the philanthropist to waste her wealth on blacks, who, the friend insists, cannot and should not be educated. The philanthropist eventually rejects this advice and makes a huge donation to Sylvia’s school. Sylvia quickly recovers from her injuries and hastens south with the donation.

Despite the rickety plot turns in this portion of the film, Micheaux offers a searing portrait of the ideology of white supremacy. Overturning prevailing wisdom, portrayed notably in D. W. Griffith’s film epic Birth of a Nation (1915), Within Our Gates underscores that racism is fueled by ignorance and hinders national unity. Whereas Griffith’s film suggests that the revelation of blacks’ true capacities and natures would restore racial unity and fraternity among northern and southern whites, Micheaux counters that if northern whites could see through the fog of white southern bigotry they would recognize that blacks were citizens worthy of both rights and respect.

Micheaux is not naïve about the likelihood of whites achieving such clarity. One of the movie’s most poignant vignettes depicts the predicament of “Old Ned,” a black preacher who must humiliate himself and attest that “Yes’m. White folks is mighty fine,” in order to collect small donations for his church from bigoted whites. After doing so, the preacher stares into the camera and confesses, “Again, I’ve sold my birthright. All for a miserable mess of pottage. Negroes and Whites—all are equal. As for me, miserable sinner, hell is my destiny.” Unlike the black characters in Birth of a Nation, who are either bestial or loyal and subservient, Old Ned wears a mask of deference while harboring resentment and self-loathing, illustrating the psychic pain endured by blacks who comported themselves in accordance with the dictates of white supremacy.

Read the rest of the review at the link, which discusses the final act of the film and the film’s reception throughout the country…as well as the history behind its loss and discovery.

within-our-gates-mrs-warwick-offers-trhe-school-moneyA little info on the director here: CineWiki – Within Our Gates (1920)

From 1918 to 1948, Oscar Micheaux created over forty films that usually featured all-Black casts.[1] According to Earl James Young, this is an amazing accomplishment because Micheaux had no formal education and his parents were slaves.[2] Over his career, he became “race film’s most famous and prolific director.”[3] As race film’s most famous director, Micheaux considered himself as “‘an instructive voice and an empowering interpreter of Black life for the community.'”[4] Although many of his films did not survive, Micheaux’s films managed to respond to racism and raise questions about African Americans in cinema, according to Stewart.[5] Oscar Micheaux’s Within Our Gates (1920) is his earliest production that survives for current-day viewing, although the existing version has suffered damage from censorship and time.[6] Micheaux was never shy around big issues, and his subject matter choices were given high marks by film critics. Within Our Gates involved danger, a love story but also tackled contemporary race issues. The film was controversial and was censored because of the subject matter and an onscreen lynching.

And about the situation during the time of filming:

During July 1919 in Chicago, race riots broke out when an African American boy, Eugene Williams, was swimming at a beach that was exclusively for whites; as a result of the boy’s accidental drowning, citywide violence began. Within three days, thirty-eight African Americans were dead and there were 537 injuries. During the riot, Micheaux was writing a script called, “The Lie” which became the basis of Within Our Gates. [9] According to The Chicago Defender on August 30, 1919, Williams was knocked from a raft by a rock thrown by George Stauber, a young white boy, who was being held on a charge of murder.

ChicagoDefRiotSweeps

Chicago Defender August 2, 1919 (http://cameronmcwhirter.com/wordpress/chicago-defender-on-the-july-1919-riot/)

Micheaux began filming during the fall in 1919 around Chicago. Micheaux liked to pass experiences he had onto characters in his stories, so “his leading ladies learned to expect the worst.”[10] Micheaux never strayed away from big issues, but his technical skills were often ridiculed.[11] Unlike big production companies at the time, Micheaux “worked with ragtag crews and shoestring budgets, inventing as he went along.”[12] As he filmed, Micheaux developed an unusual technique in which he repeated “scenes from different subjective viewpoints to reveal the crucial missing pieces of a puzzle.”[13] Even though the film ended happily, “the story was rooted in the sins of the South, with a climax that rebuked D.W. Griffith’s miscegenation hysteria…and dealt with the evils of slavery, the failures of Reconstruction, and the nightmare of lynchings.”[14] However, the ending of the film is unsatisfactory to some. Stewart notes that the ending emphasizes the film’s most compelling quality: “its repeated demonstration that competing discourses about African Americans render Black representations, including Micheaux’s, extremely inconsistent and unreliable.”[15]

According to The Chicago Defender, it took two months for Within Our Gates to get by the Censor Board. There were major difficulties because the film featured a lynching on screen, and Chicago had just witnessed a terrible riot after the African American boy drowned. Even though the film got by the Censor Board, many people did not have the option to view Within Our Gates. For example, in Shreveport, Louisiana, police had persuaded the white manager to discontinue the showing of the film. The policeman said, “A very dangerous picture to show in the South.”[16] Afterwards, the word was passed to other Southern locales, causing the film to be barred in advance. In general, Within Our Gates was seen as so controversial that it was repeatedly banned by state censors because of the prejudice, discrimination, and lynching displayed on screen.[17]

The author and producer of Within Our Gates knew the film was radical since it was the “biggest protest against Race prejudice, lynching, and ‘concubinage’ that was ever written or filmed and that there are more thrills and gripping, holding moments that was ever seen in any individual production.”[18] Proponents of the film claimed that people could not afford to miss seeing the film if they were interested in the welfare of the Race. Others claimed that it was “the most spectacular screen version of the most sensational story of the race question since Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and that it was “the greatest preachment against race prejudice and the glaring injustices practiced upon our people.” [19] Still, Within Our Gates was not a film for everyone as it was disturbing. A black schoolteacher wrote, “The picture is a quivering tongue of fire…the burn of which will be felt in the far distant years.”[20]

And…below you can see the entire film online. Watch it, you will really think it is something amazing.

That should be enough to get you going.

Y’all have a good day. Please think of this as an open thread!


Lazy Saturday Reads

Dans la Prairie, Claude Monet

Dans la Prairie, Claude Monet

Good Morning!!

I’m going to begin with some light-hearted stories from the NATO Summit. I really liked this one from BBC News, When the Nato summit came to south Wales. After all the ugly attacks on President Obama from both Republicans and Democrats here in the U.S., I was pleasantly surprised to see the warm welcome he received in South Wales. Check it out. There are some nice photos and tweets. I especially liked the expression on Obama’s face while he interacted with some schoolchildren (see below).

From the article:

It takes something pretty unique for the word “Newport” to be trending in Cardiff on Twitter.

But the city had arrived when its larger neighbour was talking about it. The world of social media woke up early for the Nato summit.

The summit certainly kept Twitter busy and it might explain – apart from the 9,500 police officers, road blocks and security fencing – why the streets of the capital were generally quiet and people were staying at home, online.

Obama wales

In Newport itself, the sight of armoured vehicles being displayed on the Celtic Manor golf course was a popular shared photo. Just think of the score if Europe had these in the Ryder Cup?

It was a demonstration of the high skills of the south Wales workforce who manufacture them, but the skills of those with Photoshop was also in evidence.

The summit also brought some unusual sights on the streets – and in the air – with Cardiff in particular not used to such a security operation. And there were also some special moments, not least for pupils at a primary school in Newport.

From the Boston Globe, some video of President Obama strolling through Stonehenge, looking awestruck.

After wrestling with threats ranging from Russia to Islamist insurgency in the Middle East, U.S. President Barack Obama took a break from a NATO summit to visit Britain’s prehistoric Stonehenge monument on Friday. “How cool is this?” Obama said as he wandered starry-eyed in his shirt sleeves among the towering stone megaliths.

Silly me, I like having a President who says things like “How cool is this?” Here’s a great shot of him among the standing stones, from NBC News.

Obama stonehenge2

 

And from The Daily Mail, ‘We should have invited him back for coffee': Family-of-five tell of shock meeting with President Obama during trip to Stonehenge following NATO summit.

A mother has told of her shock after her family-of-five had a chat with President Obama during a trip to Stonehenge – but that she now wishes she had invited him back for coffee.

Inspired by rumours that the President’s helicopter had landed at the ancient site, Janice Raffle and her husband James marched across fields with their three sons in the hope they would catch a glimpse of the US President.

At first the family, who live a mile from the monument, were stuck at a fence. But a good-natured Obama wandered over to where they were standing – and even agreed to pose for a family photo.

Mrs Raffle, 35, who was with her three sons, aged two, six and seven, told Sky News: ‘He waved at us first after my husband marched us all the way there on the chance we might get to see him.

‘We kind of edged closer and closer until he noticed us and waved. We waved back and then one of the high security men edged us forward and he was moving forward at the same time, which was very exciting.

‘The first person to say something was actually James. He said “Welcome to England”.

Lots of photos at the Daily Mail link.

Adolphe Monet Reading in the Garden, Claude Monet

Adolphe Monet Reading in the Garden, Claude Monet

Getting back to potential WWIII news, The Washington Post reported last night: Ukraine cease-fire begins, amid doubts that it will last.

Ukraine’s increasingly bloody conflict went on hold Friday, after the government and pro-Russian rebels signed a cease-fire deal that at least temporarily solidified the insurgents’ territorial gains.

The agreement, made with the Kremlin’s endorsement, appeared to be a first step toward the type of dormant conflict that Russia has exploited to exert control over former satellites in the decades since the Soviet Union’s collapse, including thwarting their chances of joining the NATO defense alliance.

With rebels making swift gains across eastern Ukraine this week, and preparing to seize the key industrial port city of Mariupol, it seemed that Ukrainian authorities felt they had little choice but to push for a halt to hostilities. The rebels turned the tide of battle early last week after receiving heavy backing from Russian ­forces, Kiev and its Western allies say. The Kremlin denies aiding the rebels.

The cease-fire deal was made as leaders of NATO countries gathered in Wales this week for discussions focused on the conflict. The terms of the deal underscored Russia’s apparent willingness to commit far more resources than the West to achieve its aims in Ukraine. Kiev has asked for Western military aid, but relatively little has been forthcoming, in part because of Western caution about getting pulled into a proxy military conflict with Russia inside a non-NATO-member nation.

A Woman Reading, Claude Monet

A Woman Reading, Claude Monet

This one is disturbing from The Daily Beast, Russia Steps Up Pressure on the Baltics.

An officer from the Estonian Internal Security Service (ISS), “was abducted at gunpoint at Luhamaa border checkpoint this morning” and “taken to Russia,” according to an Estonian government statement.

The incident comes at an extremely delicate moment, just as the United States and NATO try to convince the front-line members of the Alliance that have solid protection from Russian territorial ambitions. The sleight-of-hand invasion of non-NATO Ukraine over the last several months has raised fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin will claim in the Baltic States, just as he claimed in Crimea and the Donbass region, that the large Russian-speaking population needs to be protected, separated and inevitably annexed to a reconstituted Russian Empire.

The Estonian statement implied the alleged abduction is an intentional slap in the face to the Americans. “The incident comes two days after a visit to Estonia by U.S. President Barack Obama and in the middle of NATO’s summit in Wales,” it said. Apparently there have been “airspace violations” reported as well, including over Finland, which is not a member of the Alliance.

The whereabouts of the officer remain unknown, the Estonians did not name him and what he was doing at the border, precisely, has not been specified except to say he was performing his official functions. The ISS is Estonia’s national agency for counterintelligence and high-profile corruption investigations.

What is Putin playing at? It takes some gall to abuct a government official from a NATO country on the heels of the NATO Summit.

Monet Reading, August Renoir

Monet Reading, August Renoir

The New York Times’ Jason Horowitz on Governor Vaginal Probe, For Bob McDonnell, a Miscalculation at the Scene of a Blunder.

On Aug. 15, 2013, Bob McDonnell visited the site of one of Virginia’s great tactical blunders.

As part of his final official tour of the state as its governor, Mr. McDonnell went to Ball’s Bluff State Park in Leesburg, where more than 150 years ago a Union army scout crossed the Potomac River and mistook a row of trees for an unguarded Confederate camp. The next morning, Union soldiers approached the trunks and branches and soon found themselves surrounded by well-armed Mississippi infantrymen. By the end of the skirmish, Confederate soldiers had killed nearly half of the Union troops, many of them pushed off the bluff and into the Potomac.

Even by the time of his visit, Mr. McDonnell seemed likely to enter the state’s history books for his own bad judgment — accepting extravagant gifts and generous loans from a Richmond businessman seeking favor from the governor’s office. On Thursday, the ink dried when a federal jury found him guilty on 11 counts of conspiracy, bribery and extortion.

At Ball’s Bluff last year, Mr. McDonnell announced $2.2 million in grants for battlefield preservation. As he sat in sunglasses on a white folding chair, James Lighthizer, the president of the Civil War Trust, said that ultimately Mr. McDonnell would be most remembered for conserving Civil War battlefields. “He has done more for battlefield preservation than any other governor in the United States of America,” Mr. Lighthizer said.

It looks like Lighthizer was wrong. McDonnell will most likely be remembered–if at all–as the first VA governor to be a convicted felon and for throwing his wife under the bus to try to save himself.

And from Chris Cillizza, a nomination for “the best front page on the Bob McDonnell verdict.” See it at the link. I wasn’t able to copy the photo.

A couple more good articles on McDonnell:

From The Daily Beast, The Religious Right’s ‘Nice Guy’ Who Threw His Wife Under the Bus.

When Bob McDonnell burst onto the national scene in 2009, he was everything the Republican Party needed—a good-looking family man who stopped the Obama juggernaut in its tracks in the swing state of Virginia just 12 months after the party’s McCain humiliation of 2008.

A family-values social conservative (he got his JD from Regent University), McDonnell cleverly wooed Commonwealth voters with his corn-dog “Bob’s for Jobs” campaign slogan and a heavy dose of what appeared to be the TV-perfect brood: five gorgeous kids, including a daughter who served in the military in Iraq, and a devoted, smiling wife who had once been a Washington Redskins cheerleader.

McDonnell’s family was emblazoned on his campaign bus and commercials. At the inaugural ball after he won the governor’s race, the McDonnells slow-danced to “Looks Like We Made It.” McDonnell had even written his master’s thesis on the breakdown of the American family and ways the Republican Party could build it back up. “As the family goes, so goes the nation,” he wrote.

Underlying the entire McDonnell package in 2009 was a known truth about the governor among political operatives who knew him and believed in him—that unlike the divas and the bullies and the egomaniacs who litter both political parties today, Bob McDonnell was just a good guy. Staff called him “Mr. Honest.” Republicans in Washington called him “the Boy Scout.”

Hilarious! I wonder if any of these religious right nuts believe the crap they try to sell to voters?  love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning.

Schadenfreude

And from Rob Boston at Talk to Action, Fall From Grace: What The Religious Right Should Learn From The McDonnell Scandal.

Leaders of Religious Right groups are fond of telling us that if we elect more fundamentalist Christians to office, we’ll have less corruption. Biblical literalists must be more ethical, right?

That claim is looking a little thin in light of recent events in Virginia. Yesterday, Robert F. McDonnell, the state’s former governor, was found guilty on 11 counts related to public corruption, conspiracy and bribery. His wife, Maureen, whom this “family values” politican tried willingly to throw under the bus, was found guilty on nine charges….

Here’s how McDonnell tried to institute “godly rule” in Virginia:

When state officials decided that police chaplains should use non-sectarian prayers at public events, McDonnell rescinded the order. McDonnell’s obsession with blocking access to legal abortion earned him the nickname “Gov. Ultrasound.”  He drew up new rules allowing tax-funded “faith-based” adoption agencies to deny services to anyone who failed to meet a strict theological litmus test. He signed a law mandating that public colleges in Virginia give funding to student groups even if they discriminate on religious grounds. McDonnell appointed a private school voucher advocate as education secretary and shifted funding for sex education from comprehensive programs to “abstinence-only” approaches that critics say are often anchored in religion.

McDonnell also pushed for a state constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage (which was later approved by the voters) and even appeared on Robertson’s “700 Club” to lobby for it. McDonnell told a beaming Robertson, “From the Garden of Eden to 2006, we’ve believed that marriage is between a man and a woman. But because of some social trends out there and some court decisions, Pat, as you know, marriage is under attack.”

Based on the religious right’s record of choosing “sinful” candidates like Newt Gingrich, David Vitter and their worship of “divisive extremists like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Bryan Fischer, Tony Perkins, Ben Carson, Sean Hannity” and their embrace of grifters like Ralph Reed and Dinesh D’Souza, Boston writes:

I’d recommend they start by consulting their own holy book – you know, the one they’re always happy to bash us with. Specifically, they should examine the 7th chapter of the Book of Matthew and the words of Jesus: “Why do you look at the speck of dust that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?…You hypocrite! First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

But the religious right really doesn’t pay much attention to the New Testament. They seem to prefer the angry fire and brimstone god of pre-Jesus days.

Extremely rare white lobsters

Extremely rare white lobsters

A few more links you might find interesting:

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Court rules against Wisconsin’s, Indiana’s gay marriage bans.

The New York Daily News, Exclusive: Ex-Prez’ daughter Jenna Bush Hager mistakenly registered with NY’s Independence Party  (Breaking: neither of Dubya’s daughters is a Republican.)

The Guardian, Monet landscape found in late German collector’s suitcase. (Stolen by the Nazis?)

Oregon Live.com, Oregon wolf OR-7: Lab tests show mate wandered far to find him (a touching love story, with photos).

Two tales of albino animals, both from Boston.com:

Captured albino cobra taken to Los Angeles Zoo.

Extremely Rare White Lobsters Found Off Maine Coast.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great weekend!


Sunday Reads: Fox News “Wish I was in the Land of Cossacks”

ac14a7229d8f045ee5b45e676e83785bGood Morning

Actually the title of this post is referring to a couple of news items from the past week. You may have missed this little nugget of love that was spread about on Fox News…it is a whooper when you think about it. See what the Daily Banter had to say about it: Fox News Channel Host Wishes Vladimir Putin Could Be “Head of the United States”

For the longest time, Fox News hosts throughout the broadcast day were crushing badly for Pooty-Poot and his hairless man-rack. But when protests in Ukraine disintegrated into a not-so-subtle Russian incursion and attempted annexation of the country, Fox News kept its unrequited passion to itself — not knowing whether its audience would regard Putin as a hero or a throwback Soviet-era invader.

And then a Malaysia Airlines flight was blown out of the sky, most likely using a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air launcher. If, in the aftermath of that tragedy, Fox News hosts were still carrying a torch for Putin, you’d have to read very carefully to find any signs of love. Mostly, the network was unwilling to directly blame Putin, referring to the missile launch as coming from pro-Russia rebels inside Ukraine.

That was July — just over a month ago. A lifetime in modern news media time, and even longer in internet time.

dec272e86cfb1f423b55fff2dfd32edfBut on Wednesday, Fox News reignited its affection for Putin — and, incongruously, on the same day when the Pentagon appears to have confirmed Russian forces and a Russian missile launch inside Ukraine. On “The Five,” and following a monologue about ISIS by talking troll Greg Gutfeld, panelist Kimberly Guilfoyle suggested that Putin take over the United States for 48 hours.

“Can I just make a special request in the magic lamp? Can we get like Netanyahu, or like Putin in for 48 hours, you know, head of the United States?”

Can I make a quick observation? What the fuck is wrong with these people. Bob Cesca continues,

There’s no gray area there. Putin for (Temporary) President. Guilfoyle’s 48 hour term is more than enough time for Putin to shoot down a few more passenger airliners; invite the Russian military into one or more states; imprison at least several thousand gay people; seize control of the internet; censor journalism; dissolve PBS and replace it with RT.

Vladimir Putin, a foreign-born former KGB agent operating under the pre-1990 communist Soviet regime, is Fox News Channel’s magic bullet for solving America’s problems. The same network that literally branded patriotism told us that Putin should take over the country for a while. The network that’s encouraging Speaker Boehner’s lawsuit against President Obama for his alleged abuse of executive power thinks despotic Putin would be a better alternative. Wrap your head around that one. Executive overreach is impeachable, but let’s bring in Vladimir Putin to fix things. I’m sure he’d totally get congressional permission for everything.

Nyet.

c8b0077a0e50bc8fe7c9d94ff9a78726By the way, Fox News wouldn’t have mentioned such an idea without knowing full well that Fox News loyalists would suck it down like water — viewers who only know that Putin is “tough,” without knowing what treachery is associated with that toughness. Oh, and they also know he hates the gays. I suppose that alone is enough to sell them on Putin.

The myth that seems to have permeated the far-right is that being a badass is the end-all of leadership, irrespective of who or what is on the receiving end of that badassery. But they can count on one thing: Putin will spend his two days as President of the United States doing a hell of a lot more than signing a stack of executive orders. One of his actions would surely be to indefinitely extend his 48 hour term. And that’d be the least objectionable thing.

Wow, the shit these people say is unfuckingbelievable! What gets me confused is how these right-wing politicians that go on Fox News…who are so anti-communist, can promote these statements.

Although, anything is possible. Ben Carson: No, I’m Not Sorry I Compared U.S. To Nazi Germany

The topic was broached and reported on in a profile of Carson in The Washington Post.

“You can’t dance around it,” Carson told The Washington Post’s Ben Terris. “If people look at what I said and were not political about it, they’d have to agree. Most people in Germany didn’t agree with what Hitler was doing…Exactly the same thing can happen in this country if we are not willing to stand up for what we believe in.”

3d3118fccabd994a2e78506634ab19c3You may remember the other comparisons to Nazi Germany Carson has made earlier this year.

In February Carson suggested that liberals could turn the country into Nazi Germany.

“There comes a time when people with values simply have to stand up,” he said according to The Huffington Post. “Think about Nazi Germany. Most of those people did not believe in what Hitler was doing. But what did they speak up? Did they stand up for what they believe in/ They did not, and you saw what happened.”

A month later, Carson went there again, saying that American society today is very similar to Nazi Germany.

“I mean, [our society is] very much like Nazi Germany,” the retired neurosurgeon said in an interview with Breitbart News. “And I know you’re not supposed to say ‘Nazi Germany,’ but I don’t care about political correctness. You know, you had a government using its tools to intimidate the population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe.”

He went on to list the “PC police” politicians and news that, together, “stifle people’s conversation.”

“The reason that is so horrible is because the only way that you have harmon and reach consensus is by talking. But if, in fact, people are afraid to talk, you never reach consensus,” Carson said. “And instead you grow further and further apart. And that’s exactly what’s happening, creating a horrible schism that will destroy our nation if we don’t fix it.”

I will say this, Russia is no putting on one hell of a show: Participants perform during the Spasskaya Tower international… News Photo 454386736 | Getty Images

454386736

Participants perform during the Spasskaya Tower international military and music Festival on Red Square in Moscow on August 30, 2014. The festival itself will be held from August 30, to September 7. AFP PHOTO/KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)

1f6c549aa7ab7f5ae3ce43d072f69f9fNot all countries are participating however, 3 Countries Boycott Kremlin Music Fest Over Ukraine | News | The Moscow Times

More pretty pictures here: ‘Spasskaya Tower’ International Military Orchestra Music Festival – ‘Spasskaya Tower’ International Military Orchestra Music Festival | The Economic Times

Next up, this link should be read to the tune of “Dixie.” Cushing and Gettysburg  : Lawyers, Guns & Money

President Obama is granting Lt. Alonzo Cushing, who played a critical role in repelling Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, the Medal of Honor. It’s pretty amazing he didn’t already have it since had Pickett taken the hill, it’s possible at least the war would have ended differently. Personally, I tend to not believe the world changes that much with an individual event, but I’ll grant the possibility. Certainly defeating the Confederates at Gettysburg did kill their chance of moving the war into the North and forcing a peace, something that would have kept millions of people in slavery for who knows how long. Decades at a minimum. Possibly until the present, who can tell.

2a73789f0221b539d529df55eacd9245Speaking of such things, I happened to visit Gettysburg last week. I had a great time. It was super cool to visit the key spots of the battle, try to imagine all the dead on the huge field that the location of Pickett’s Charge, below Little Round Top, and around the battlefield. Much credit goes to the National Park Service for not only emphasizing slavery as the core reason of the war but for enforcing that interpretation. What do I mean by that? For a very long time, the main attraction at the Gettysburg Visitor Center was the cyclorama of Pickett’s Charge. A cyclorama was a Gilded Age entertainment that tried to bring a scene to life through a 360-degree painting. These were a huge hit in France and were imported to the U.S. A cyclorama painter was hired to do one of Pickett’s Charge and people love it. It was a huge reason why people went to the site. You can still see it today and it’s OK. It’s cool as a Gilded Age relic. As something of value outside of that, it’s pretty silly, what with the sound and light show that goes along with it.

[...]

Now in order to see the cyclorama, you have to sit through the 15 minute film intrepreting the battle for you. Morgan Freeman narrates the video and it says in no uncertain terms that slavery was the cause of the war, which is great. I’m sure there’s a lot of people who hate that (one of the first people I saw there was a guy wearing a Stonewall Jackson t-shirt, which in my world is like wearing a Himmler t-shirt), but it was very well done, really expressing the complexity of the situation too. I also discovered that I find discussion of military maneuvers so incredibly 8c2b44b5bf7a7503a4ace593cbb5669fboring that even Morgan Freeman can’t make me care. Anyway, the exhibits in the Visitor Center are good throughout, combining the old guns that are crack for American white men who like to wear camo as casual wear with real historical interpretation.

I don’t think I would compare Stonewall Jackson to Himmler, read the comments on the LG&M post to get more thoughts on that,  but the obvious use of the shirt to prove that the wearer was a redneck asshole…that I could agree with wholeheartedly.

On Friday we had to drive down to Atlanta, and I thought about the Civil War…like I usually do while on the roads around Georgia.

Let me explain. When you drive South from Banjoville to Atlanta and pass each exit along I75, exits with names that you remember from key battles in the Atlanta Campaign. As you pass these battlefields of a war that took place one hundred and fifty years ago it makes you think about what that war was all about….and just how far we have come.

Foggy Memories Obscure Forebears of Ferguson Unrest | WhoWhatWhy

Life magazine cover about the Newark Riots.

Collective amnesia about past eruptions of racial conflict has left Americans with a false sense that what happened in Ferguson is somehow new. But the only thing new is the technology. The attitudes on display are sadly familiar.Forty-seven years ago, the African-American population of New Jersey’s largest city took to the streets after a violent encounter between white police officers and an unarmed black man. While the body count in Newark—26 people dead and 1,500 injured—was far greater than in the recent disturbances in Ferguson, Missouri, the parallels between the two tragedies are too clear to be ignored.

It is a long read…go to the link.

6f6dd392ab7b6b6f7ef977001a72fba7At the Black Agenda Report: Justice Dept Refuses For 20 Years To Comply With Federal Law Requiring It To Gather National Police Brutality Stats | Black Agenda Report

A BA Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

We’re all supposed to be impressed with the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder parachuted into Ferguson MO the other day to wrap his arms around the local top black cop and get briefed on the pending federal investigation into the police killing of Michael Brown. But we shouldn’t be.

For the last 20 years, since 1994, Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act obligates the Department of Justice to collect statistics on the extent of brutality and excessive force used by police officers, and to make those findings available to the public. 20 years down the road no such stats exist, because the Justice Departments of the Clinton, the Bush and the Obama administrations have all simply ignored the law and refuse even to try to gather the information. Let me say this again: the Clinton Justice Department defied the law and refused to gather national stats on police misconduct. The Bush Justice Department thumbed its nose at the law and also refused to gather national stats on police misconduct, and now the first black attorney general, who sometimes even utters the phrase “mass incarceration”, which he recently discovered, selected by the first black president who says if he had a son, his son could be Trayvon Martin – Eric Holder and Barack Obama have likewise shown no interest whatsoever in fulfilling their legal duty when it comes to assembling a national database of police misconduct.

38edfbffac1abc590ed79f30782a1514This should not surprise the president’s apologists, who will surely counsel us that he has to be president of all the people, including the police. Everybody knows black and brown people are the disproportionate targets of police violence, so enforcing laws which particularly benefit black and brown communities are something we must not expect. Perhaps after the president leaves office, they’ll tell us, he’ll speak out more forcefully on this. Maybe the “My Brothers Keeper” initiative can get some charitable dollars to organizations like , or PUSH or the Urban League to help more of our young boys to pull their pants up so they won’t get beat down.

Let’s get real. The Republicans haven’t stopped Obama and Holder from doing this, they stopped themselves. Like every cop on the beat, the Obama administration chooses which laws to enforce, which ones to bend and in what direction, and which ones to ignore. Obama’s DOJ has resurrected the century old Espionage Act, not to prosecute spies, but to threaten and to imprison whistleblowers who tell the truth to reporters, and to journalists themselves if they do not reveal their sources with decades in prison, like Chelsea Manning, and on so-called “secret evidence.” So when you think about it, it’s entirely logical that a president and attorney general who place such a high priority on protecting their torturers, their bankster friends, and the official wrongdoers of past and future administrations should want to protect the police from scrutiny as well.

e1570c2c92d44f377261b92b0fc77b4bIt’s time to shed some illusions, not just about this president but about the whole political class that claims he or any president can be “held accountable.” Barack Obama and his Justice Department are no more interested in justice than the administrations of ten presidents before him, and uncritical black and brown support has made this president less accountable to black and brown people than any in living memory.

I had to quote that op/ed in full because it seemed so powerful, and so telling of the point I was trying to make. One hundred and fifty years, even with a black president, where have we come to? Those Newark riots where almost fifty years ago…Civil Rights Act…fifty years ago too. And still the question I keep repeating, where have we come to…progress? Perhaps, compared to slavery. But from my view, living in a redneck Southern town, the hate is thick and packs a powerful punch in the gut to hear it practiced out-loud, so nonchalant…

Anyway, I am rambling. It is 4:13 am and I will move on.

At least 5 current Ferguson officers apart from Brown shooter figure in lawsuits – The Washington Post

eb723ae4541bdedae7fe578ccc456d12Federal investigators are focused on one Ferguson, Mo., police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager, but at least five other police officers and one former officer in the town’s 53-member department have been named in civil rights lawsuits alleging the use of excessive force.

In four federal lawsuits, including one that is on appeal, and more than a half-dozen investigations over the past decade, colleagues of Darren Wilson’s have separately contested a variety of allegations, including killing a mentally ill man with a Taser, pistol-whipping a child, choking and hog-tying a child and beating a man who was later charged with destroying city property because his blood spilled on officers’ clothes.

One officer has faced three internal affairs probes and two lawsuits over claims he violated civil rights and used excessive force while working at a previous police department in the mid-2000s. That department demoted him after finding credible evidence to support one of the complaints, and he subsequently was hired by the Ferguson force.

Police officials from outside Ferguson and plaintiffs’ lawyers say the nature of such cases suggests there is a systemic problem within the Ferguson police force. Department of Justice officials said they are considering a broader probe into whether there is a pattern of using excessive force that routinely violates people’s civil rights.

[...]

In all but one of the cases, the victims were black. Among the officers involved in the cases, one is African American.

1d8be145f4cf0d58e7d5f0100bb11e35Damn.

More at the link.

With all the abusive news stories about cops (Oklahoma Police Daniel Holtzclaw Rape Sexual Abuse Arrest | Mediaite)

Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw has been arrested for raping or sexually abusing eight different women, all of whom are African-American, under the threat that he would arrest them if they did not comply.

 

…you would think this cop would get off easy: Cleveland Cop Under Fire for Helping Browns Fan with His Beer Bong | Mediaite

A Cleveland police officer got in trouble this week; not for shooting anyone, not for any shocking assault video, but for actually being a bro. This cop was caught on camera holding up a beer bong so a Browns tailgater could use it properly.

Here’s the picture in question:

Seriously, that looks more like a PR photo to me.

This post is getting long, so quickly…here are the rest of today’s links:

18a5e2229d815483f4bf2380406eb0d4

Russian Poster Design by Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg

From a fuckwad Former Judge: Rape is All the Woman’s Fault for Drinking So Much | Care2 Causes

And according to the dipshits at the NFL: Is The NFL’s New Policy On Domestic Violence A Publicity Stunt? | Care2 Causes

Wide receiver Josh Gordon’s offense?

Smoking marijuana.

Let me get this straight. Violently assaulting a woman equates to a two game suspension, but failing a drug test amounts to an entire year on the bench?

No matter where your moral compass stands on smoking pot, I think we can all agree that beating your girlfriend up so badly she is hospitalized with 18 broken bones in the face, a broken nose, a cracked rib and a ruptured liver is a far worse crime.

Perhaps not too surprisingly, just a few days after the fallout of this decision, which was stacked on top of the prior controversy regarding Rice’s lenient suspension, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has come out with a lengthy statement on how the NFL can do better.

We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place. My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.

Russian Poster Design by Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg

Russian Poster Design by Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg

In addition to admitting fault, Goodell has, effective immediately, instituted a revamped domestic violence policy which punishes first time offenders with a six game suspension and second time offenders with a ban from the NFL for at least a year, after which an individual can petition for reinstatement.

Assholes.

Here is a post about teachers….Happy Labor Day, Mom | The Nation

And one about us bombing Iraq: US jets target IS positions in Iraq – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

We will end with a feel good story: Little League Win Lifts District Marred by Violence – NYTimes.com

People showed up and plopped down lawn chairs, sitting there just so they could feel like a part of the event, even if they could not see anything. The neighborhood’s residents were glad for their team, for their boys and for themselves. They brought cakes. They rode bikes. They hugged.

This was a homey neighborhood celebration on the city’s South Side, a departure for an area known for gun violence.

Chicago finally had its chance on Wednesday to welcome home the Jackie Robinson West Little League team that won the United States championship on Saturday. The rolling celebration started with a rally at the team’s home park and worked its way into the city center. Residents lined up for 70 blocks along Halsted Street, waiting for their heroes.

It was the kind of celebration you would expect in small-town America. As politicians lined up to talk with a few thousand fans at a rally on the team’s field, the parade route already had a classroom of day care students standing in yellow shirts on 95th and Halsted. A half-dozen women in wheelchairs waited at 81st Street in front of the Naomi and Sylvester Smith Senior Living Center. Hundreds of students packed in at 79th Street near St. Sabina Academy. On 76th, there were more children in front of a learning center.

Photo

The celebration for the Jackie Robinson West Little League squad began with a rally at the team’s home park and worked its way to Millennium Park downtown. Credit Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Terrence J. Lavin, an Illinois appeals court justice, grew up in the area playing Little League. Now, he said, he deals daily with “guns, gangs and drugs.” On Wednesday, he was not delivering speeches, but instead was at 87th Street in what he considers his neighborhood.

“There aren’t many parades down Halsted Street,” he said. “None in my memory. Remember when President Obama said that Trayvon Martin could be his son? There are thousands of Chicagoans, white and black, thinking that about these amazing kids.”

“They are medicine for a municipality dulled into a sort of crime stupor because of all the shootings,” he said. “We are better than that. And these kids are a living, breathing symbol of that.”

Oh, and on that note…hope you have a good day.


Lazy Saturday Reads: Two Republican Candidates in Trouble

 Rick Perry readsGood Afternoon!!

Poor Rick Perry. He just can’t seem to catch a break. First there was his indictment on two felony charges. Then he had to face the further indignity that being indicted on felony charges means he can no longer swagger around with a concealed weapon on his person. According to the Washington Times,

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s indictment on felony corruption charges means he can no longer carry a concealed weapon under state law.

Federal law also prohibits him from being able to buy more guns or ammunition, as long as the indictment is pending, Reuters reported.

I wonder if he knows that? Because when he was in New Hampshire last week, he told voter he didn’t understand the charges against him. From ABC News last Friday, Aug. 22:

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Texas Gov. Rick Perry returned to New Hampshire Friday for the first time since 2012, as he tries to rehab his political image after a failed presidential bid.

Speaking to a group of business leaders here, Perry tried to focus on substance, talking about issues like economic development and the border crisis, but his recent indictment on two felony charges was hard to ignore.

Asked about his indictment during a question-and-answer session with business leaders, Perry was a little unclear when explaining what felony charges were issued against him.

“I’ve been indicted by that same body now for I think two counts, one of bribery, which I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t really understand the details here,” Perry said of the grand jury that indicted him.

A grand jury indicted Perry last week on two felony counts – abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public official – over a 2013 veto threat.

Texas Governor Perry

At The Wire, Arit John has a funny post in which he describes Perry’s confusion as just one step in the grief process over the indictment, Rick Perry Enters the Final Stage of Indictment Grief: Confusion.

Maybe Rick Perry should have read up on his indictment charges before he started using them as a campaign talking point. During a speech last week, the Texas governor said he was being indicted for bribery, which isn’t actually true.

“I’ve been indicted by that same body now for I think two counts, one of bribery, which I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t really understand the details here,” he said,according to the Houston Chronicle. But Perry is actually being indicted for abuse of power and coercing a public official, after he threatened to veto District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s budget if she refused to resign after her drunk driving conviction.

This is another oops moment for Perry, but it also signaled his transition into the 5th and, likely for him, final stage of indictment related grief: confusion. After grinning mugshot denial, angry ads “setting the record straight,” bargaining over who should pay the lawyers and depression over a loss of Second Amendment privileges, all that’s left for Perry is to be slightly unsure of what, exactly, people are accusing him of doing.

Read the details at the link.

Rick Perry gun3

Then there are the embarrassing stories about how Perry hasn’t paid the National Guard troops that he sent to guard the Texas-Mexico border. From Gawker:

When Texas Gov. Rick Perry sent National Guard soldiers to the Mexico border to much fanfare earlier this summer, he couldn’t say how long they’d be there. It turns out he also couldn’t pay them: At least 50 soldiers haven’t seen a paycheck and are getting sustenance and vehicle fuel from a local food bank.

Via KGBT News, the sudden call-up took those weekend warriors away from their day jobs and deposited them in the Rio Grande valley, but the service hasn’t covered their losses yet….

Perry—who’s busy being indicted for criminal abuse of power—and the National Guard didn’t respond to reporter queries earlier this week, but the pay lag could be related to the governor’s refusal to fund the mobilization he ordered, and his insistence that the federal government cover it. (In the meantime, Perry was supposedly attempting to finance the deployment “by diverting $38 million in public safety funds earmarked for emergency radio infrastructure,” the L.A. Times has reported.)

Yesterday afternoon, the Austin Statement reported that unnamed “National Guard officials” were claiming the stories about hungry troops were exaggerated, but it sounds like they may be just trying to clean up Perry’s mess.

The Guard said it had identified 50 service members who, because of their early August start date, weren’t going to be paid until Sept. 5.

None of those 50 troops have notified leaders that they had used the food bank, officials said.

According to the Guard, troops receive one meal while on duty, plus a $32 per diem food reimbursement that is included in their paychecks.

According to Omar Ramirez, Food Bank RGV’s manager of communications and advocacy, the food bank made extra preparations after being contacted by someone from the Texas National Guard Support Foundation, but that he wasn’t aware of any troops being served.

“Maybe they come in and they just don’t tell us they’re National Guard,” he said.

OK, but if the $32 dollars is included in their paychecks, then that means the troops have to front the money for two meals a day until Sept. 5, right? Read the rest at the link.

CoatHangerPerryW480_zpsc5ed0bd9

Finally, yesterday Perry learned that his latest anti-abortion bill–the one that Wendy Davis filibustered–has been struck down by a federal judge. From AP:

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel sided with clinics that sued over one of the most disputed measures of a sweeping anti-abortion bill signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry in 2013. The ruling stops new restrictions that would have left seven abortion facilities in Texas come Monday. There are currently 19 abortion providers in the state, according to groups challenging the law.

“The overall effect of the provisions is to create an impermissible obstacle as applied to all women seeking a previability abortion,” Yeakel wrote in his 21-page ruling.

The trial in Texas was the latest battle over tough new abortion restrictions sweeping across the U.S.

The law would have required clinics “to meet the building, equipment and staffing standards of hospital-style surgery centers,” according to The New York Times.

Adopted as part of a sweeping anti-abortion measure last year, the rule would have forced the closing of more than a dozen of Texas’ remaining abortion clinics because they were unable to afford to renovate or to open new facilities that met the standards for such things as hallway width, ceiling height, advanced ventilation equipment, staffing and even parking spaces.

The closings would have left Texas, the second-biggest state by population and by size, with seven or eight abortion clinics, all in major cities like Houston and Dallas. Women in El Paso in West Texas and in the Rio Grande Valley in the south would have lived more than 150 miles — a distance ruled constitutional by a federal appeals court — from the closest clinic in the state, in San Antonio.

Fortunately for Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, her opponent Greg Abbott plans to appeal the decision.

Mitch McDonnell at Morris' Deli in Louisville, KY

Mitch McDonnell at Morris’ Deli in Louisville, KY

Mitch McConnell is also experiencing some difficulties in his Senate reelection campaign in Kentucky. He has been in a close race with Democratic challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes–they’ve been running neck-and-neck for a long time now. And recently McConnell has had a couple of setbacks. First there was the secretly recorded audiotape released by The Undercurrent Youtube channel, of McConnell’s remarks at a “meeting for millionaire and billionaire donors hosted by the Koch brothers,” in which he promised to continue blocking Obama proposals and emphasized his opposition to raising the minimum wage. The contents of the tape were first reported in The Nation.

Last week, in an interview with Politico, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) outlined his plan to shut down President Obama’s legislative agenda by placing riders on appropriations bills. Should Republicans take control of the Senate in the 2014 elections, McConnell intends to pass spending bills that “have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy.”

What McConnell didn’t tell Politico was that two months ago, he made the same promise to a secret strategy conference of conservative millionaire and billionaire donors hosted by the Koch brothers. The Nation and The Undercurrent obtained an audio recording of McConnell’s remarks to the gathering, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society.” In the question-and-answer period following his June 15 session titled “Free Speech: Defending First Amendment Rights,” McConnell says:

“So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board [inaudible]. All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it.”

Mitch McConnell gun

The article notes that the McConnell campaign has received $41,800 from Koch Industries in addition to outside groups who get funding from the Kochs.

“And we’re not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals. That’s all we do in the Senate is vote on things like raising the minimum wage [inaudible]—cost the country 500,000 new jobs; extending unemployment—that’s a great message for retirees; uh, the student loan package the other day, that’s just going to make things worse, uh. These people believe in all the wrong things.”

In late April, Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, successfully filibustered a bill to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, a widely popular measure that would increase wages for at least 16.5 million Americans. Earlier in the year, McConnell also led a filibuster of a three-month extension of unemployment insurance to some 1.7 million Americans. At one point in the negotiations, he offered a deal to extend unemployment only if Democrats agreed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, even though the ACA does not add to the federal deficit.

More from The New York Times:

The [Undercurrent] channel released audio of three other Republicans in tough Senate races — Representative Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Representative Cory Gardner of Colorado and Joni Ernst, a state senator in Iowa — all of whom praised Charles G. and David H. Koch and the millions of dollars they have provided to help Republican candidates….

Republicans said the recordings were insignificant. Josh Holmes, a senior McConnell campaign aide, said the senator was in no way suggesting a strategy to shut down the government unless Mr. Obama capitulates.

Nonetheless, the audio recordings are likely to become fodder for the campaigns in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa and Kentucky. Democrats, most notably Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, have tried to demonize contributions by the Koch brothers as corruptive to the political system.

In Arkansas, especially, the audio could touch a nerve. Mr. Cotton, a freshman House member, skipped a popular political event in his state, the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival, to attend the Koch brothers’ meeting in California. According to the audio, he was repaid with praise for his willingness to hew to the most conservative line, even if it meant voting against legislation popular in his state.

o-MITCH-MCCONNELL-JESSE-BENTON-facebook

Then yesterday, McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton was forced to resign because of a scandal involving his work for the Ron Paul campaign in Iowa in 2012. From CBS News:

Benton’s resignation, effective Saturday, comes barely two months before Kentucky voters choose between McConnell, a five-term incumbent and the top-ranking Senate Republican, and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

In Iowa this week, former state Sen. Kent Sorenson pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from his switch of support from one Republican presidential candidate to another before the 2012 Iowa caucuses. He received thousands of dollars in “under the table payments” before switching loyalties from candidate Michele Bachmann, whose Iowa campaign he headed, to candidate Ron Paul, then lied to federal investigators about the money, the Justice Department said.

Prosecutors refused to say which campaign paid Sorenson. A representative for Bachmann didn’t immediately return voice and email messages seeking comment Friday. A phone message for Paul also wasn’t immediately returned.

Benton, a tea party insider, worked as a top aide to Paul. On Friday he said that he has been the target of “inaccurate press accounts and unsubstantiated media rumors” about his role in past campaigns that are “politically motivated, unfair and, most importantly, untrue.”

Benton had been hired to help McConnell appeal to Tea Party extremists in Kentucky. Is it possible McConnell misjudged his constituents? I sincerely hope so.

So I’ve ended up focusing this post on just two struggling Republicans–but there are plenty of others I could write about. I don’t think we should give up on Democrats holding the Senate yet. I know there is plenty of other news, but I thought I’d shift the focus to electoral politics today. What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great Labor Day weekend!!

 

 


Monday Reads: Pork Puller Edition

Good Morning!

col-9991.1LOne of the most appalling things I’ve been witnessing the last few years is how costly it is for the taxpayers to fund Republican witch hunts, theocratic laws pandering to christianists that wind up being declared unconstitutional over and over again, lawsuits defending crooked Republican governors or prosecuting crooked Republican politicians, and then the tax breaks they immediately give to their donors and cronies that don’t do anything except cost everyone money and jobs.  So, welcome to socializing Republican graft, crime, and cronyism in the USA!

First, let’s see what NJ Taxpayers have to pay for Chris Christie’s defense in his bridge scandal.

New Jersey taxpayers are on the hook for more than $6.5 million to the law firm Gov. Chris Christie hired to represent his office in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal.

The state attorney general’s office released recent bills from Gibson Dunn & Crutcher on Friday.

The law firm represents Christie’s office in the state and federal investigations into last September’s lane closures. It published a 350-page report in March that found Christie and his top staffers were not involved in the lane closures ordered by a former Christie aide, apparently as political retribution.

The report has been criticized by some as a whitewash.

Gibson Dunn earlier this year agreed to reduce its rate from the original agreement of $650 per hour to $350.

Wisconsin is another state where the Governor has instituted every possible failed Republican economic policy offered up by the Koch Brothers.  Get a load of col-10443.1Lthese huge tax cuts that went to a business for being a job creator while they laid off 1900 people.  Ashley Furniture got a $6 million dollar tax cut for that lovely set of job creation.

The board overseeing the state’s flagship job-creation agency has quietly approved a $6 million tax credit for Ashley Furniture Industries with a condition allowing the company to eliminate half of its state workforce.

As approved by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board, the award would allow the Arcadia-based global furniture maker to move ahead with a $35 million expansion of its headquarters and keep 1,924 jobs in the state.

But it wouldn’t require Ashley to create any new jobs, instead granting the company license to lay off half of its current 3,848 Wisconsin-based workers in exchange for an enterprise zone tax credit, one of the most valuable and coveted state subsidies.

The board’s decision has not been made public because a contract with the company has not been finalized. But in a statement Friday, in response to questions from the State Journal, Ashley Furniture confirmed it is seeking state subsidies that include terms allowing for job reductions.

The company said it injected $394 million into the Wisconsin economy in 2013, including supporting 610 Wisconsin businesses.

“It is more expensive for Ashley to manufacture in Arcadia than it is to do so closer to its major markets,” the company said. “The loss of Ashley’s contributions to the regional economy of west-central Wisconsin would be catastrophic.”

WEDC spokesman Mark Maley said the agency doesn’t comment on pending or possible WEDC awards.

“Obviously, WEDC is very interested in working with one of the largest employers in northwestern Wisconsin to find ways to help ensure that the company can continue to flourish here in our state,” Maley said. “WEDC is committed to doing whatever it can to work with the company and preserve those jobs.”

Maley declined comment on whether WEDC had provided any other awards conditioned on retaining a percentage of jobs, as opposed to creating jobs.

2522042When Bobby Jindal isn’t busy trying to prove his pet laws aren’t really unconstitutional or campaigning for President, his appointees are busy ripping off the state by taking advantage of retiree early payoffs.  The deal is, however, they retire from one job, take a huge cash bonus, then get another job with another agency.  So far, we’ve had two of his top folks double dip and slice a bonus from us.  So, that’s one way to get away from Jindal’s hiring freeze and salary freeze and spending freeze on everything except his campaign travel. How can this be legal let alone moral?

On April 23 of that year, DPS Deputy Undersecretary Jill Boudreaux sent an email to all personnel informing them that the Department of Civil Service and the Louisiana State Police Commission had approved the retirement incentive as a “Layoff Avoidance Plan.”

In legal-speak, under the incentive eligible applicants would receive a payment of 50 percent of the savings realized by DPS for one year from the effective date of the employee’s retirement.

In simpler language, the incentive was simply 50 percent of the employee’s annual salary. If an employee making $50,000 per year, for example, was approved for the incentive, he or she would walk away with $25,000 in up-front payments, plus his or her regular retirement and the agency would save $25,000 over the course of the next year. The higher the salary, the higher the potential savings.

The program, offered to the first 20 DPS employees to sign up via an internet link on a specific date, was designed to save the state many times that amount over the long haul. If, for example, 20 employees, each making $50,000 a year, took advantage of the incentive, DPS theoretically would realize a savings of $500,000 the first year and $1 million per year thereafter.

That formula, repeated in multiple agencies, could produce a savings of several million—not that much in terms of a $25 billion state budget, but a savings nonetheless.

The policy did come with one major caveat from the Department of Civil Service, however. Agencies were cautioned not to circumvent the program through the state’s obscure retire-rehire policy whereby several administrative personnel, the most notable being former Secretary of Higher Education Sally Clausen, have “retired,” only to be “rehired” a day or so later in order to reap a monetary windfall.

“We strongly recommend that agencies exercise caution in re-hiring an employee who has received a retirement incentive payment within the same budget unit until it can be clearly demonstrated that the projected savings have been realized,” the Civil Service communique said.

And, to again quote our favorite redneck playwright from Denham on Amite, Billy Wayne Shakespeare from his greatest play, Hamlet Bob, “Aye, that’s the rub.” (often misquoted as “Therein lies the rub.”)

Basically, to realize a savings under the early retirement incentive payout, an agency would have had to wait at least a year before rehiring an employee who had retired under the program.

Boudreaux, by what many in DPS feel was more than mere happenstance, managed to be the first person to sign up on the date the internet link opened up for applications.

In Boudreaux’s case, her incentive payment was based on an annual salary of about $92,000 so her incentive payment was around $46,000. In addition, she was also entitled to payment of up to 300 hours of unused annual leave which came to another $13,000 or so for a total of about $59,000 in walk-around money.

Her retirement date was April 28 but the day before, on April 27, she double encumbered herself into the classified (Civil Service) Deputy Undersecretary position because another employee was promoted into her old position on April 26.

A double incumbency is when an employee is appointed to a position that is already occupied by an incumbent, in this case, Boudreaux’s successor. Double incumbencies are mostly used for smooth succession planning initiatives when the incumbent of a position (Boudreaux, in this case) is planning to retire, according to the Louisiana Department of Civil Service.

brown-pigHere’s an example of how much the state is paying for one bad law after another.  Jindal’s voucher experience is not only sending students to segregated and underperforming schools with no accountability, but attorneys are racking up fees trying to defend it.  Imagine spending this kind of money to have a court throw out these failed laws?

The price tag for defending Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education policies against legal challenges is growing.

The Department of Education is boosting its contracts for outside lawyers by $750,000, to represent the department in lawsuits against Jindal’s voucher program that uses tax dollars to send children to private schools.

A majority of members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education agreed Tuesday to the legal spending.

The education department’s contract with Washington-based law firm Cooper & Kirk is growing from $150,000 to $650,000. The agency’s contract with the Louisiana-based Faircloth Law Group – the law firm of Jindal’s former executive counsel, Jimmy Faircloth – is rising from $20,000 to as much as $270,000.

“I regret that there is this litigation,” said Superintendent of Education John White. But he added, “We have to defend our priorities in court.”

Lee Barrios, a retired St. Tammany Parish teacher and critic of the voucher program, told BESE that the legal expense was a waste of taxpayer money.

Lawsuits were filed by two teacher unions and the state’s school board association objecting to the voucher program’s financing and by the U.S. Department of Justice challenging the program’s compliance with federal desegregation orders.

The unions and school boards association won their lawsuit, with the Louisiana Supreme Court declaring the use of the public school formula to pay for vouchers unconstitutional. Jindal and lawmakers continue to fund vouchers, now outside of the public school formula.

The Justice Department lawsuit still is pending in federal court in New Orleans.

It’s unclear how much the education department has spent defending itself and the Jindal administration against lawsuits since the governor pushed through the Legislature a series of sweeping education law changes in 2012. The department didn’t immediately respond Tuesday to a request for a full tally of its legal costs.

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office also has a separate contract with Faircloth’s law firm worth up to $410,000 to represent the state in lawsuits seeking to throw out Jindal’s education policies, including the governor’s revamp of teacher tenure law.

Here’s a 2012 Jezebel article outlining how much it’s costing red states to defend those horrible anti-abortion and birth control trap laws.  This is fiscal Pigs Driving, Toastingconservatism?  Perhaps the only thing the do nothing US House is doing at all is throwing millions of federal dollars into the witch hunt that is Benghazi.

The House could spend up to $3.3 million in taxpayer dollars over seven months on a special committee to investigate the Sep. 2011 attacks against the American diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, more than lawmakers have appropriated for committees dedicated to investigating ethics and helping American veterans over an entire 12 month period.

A ThinkProgress analysis of House spending on its 20 permanent committees from Jan. 3, 2013 to Jan. 3, 2014 finds that since Benghazi committee’s full-year equivalent budget would be an estimated $5,657,142, its investigation will cost more than the budgets of nine other House committees:

Committee on Rules: $2,857,408
Committee on Small Business: $2,992,688
Committee on Ethics: $3,020,459
Committee on Veterans’ Affairs: $3,048,546
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: $4,389,758
Committee on House Administration: $4,600,560
Committee on Agriculture: $5,036,187
Committee on the Budget: $5,138,824
Committee on Science, Space, and Technology: $5,282,755
House Benghazi Panel: $5,657,142
Committee on Natural Resources: $6,555,829
Committee on Armed Services: $6,563,535
Committee on Education and the Workforce: $6,952,763
Committee on Homeland Security: $7,033,588
Committee on the Judiciary: $7,077,016
Committee on Foreign Affairs: $7,388,112
Committee on Financial Services: $7,394,482
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure: $8,182,307
Committee on Ways and Means: $8,423,411
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: $8,940,437
Committee on Energy and Commerce: $9,520,516

The seven House Republicans will receive a bigger share of the committee budget, $2.2 million, more than the five Democrats, who will see “just over $1 million.” Funding for the committee “comes from already-appropriated legislative branch funds” a GOP spokesperson told USA Today, and does not represent a new expenditure. The spokesperson also claimed that the $3.3 million figure represents “the high end estimate,” though the investigation is likely to bleed into 2015.

Both Louisiana and Sam Brownback’s Kansas are experiencing lower than average growth in their economies and their employment due to the bad policies they mACxgFB6dL8vFHL4ULviM9wenacted to keep donors like Club for Growth and the Kochs happy.  Brownback’s economic policies have been a complete disaster for the state.

On Friday, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest employment figures for all 50 states — the same ones the Brownback administration uses repeatedly for its “we’re getting better” press releases.

Overall, the number of private sector jobs added since 2011 in Kansas crept up to 55,100. However, that statistic loses a lot of shine once you factor in the 8,300 jobs lost in local and state government ranks since 2011. Those are people who may no longer have steady income to pay the rent, buy food, pay taxes and contribute to the Kansas economy.

Fact is, Kansas has actually gained only 46,800 total jobs since early 2011.

So how does that more realistic figure — which the Brownback team does not promote — compare to the rest of the country?

Using the federal agency’s data, The Star compiled percentages of seasonally adjusted, nonfarm total job growth for Kansas, its four bordering states, a few other Midwestern states, Texas (no income tax), New York (extremely high income tax), and the U.S. average from January 2011 through June 30, 2014.

Texas, 10.5 percent

Colorado, 9.2 percent

Oklahoma, 6.5 percent

U.S. average, 6.1 percent

Iowa, 5.0 percent

New York, 4.8 percent

Missouri, 4.1 percent

Nebraska, 3.8 percent

Kansas, 3.5 percent

Arkansas, 1.9 percent

Kansas has had one of the nation’s poorest rates of employment growth during Brownback’s time in office, including since the first tax cuts took effect in 2013.

It just amazes me that Republicans can cobble together enough voters anywhere who don’t see these porkfests and poor economies as a sham.  The only voters they are holding together are the number of whacko churches and businesses that are benefiting from being the sole enterprises to get government dollars these days.  The other seems to be very frightened white people who believe every bad thing they’ve ever been sold on any kind of minority. It seems if you want the Republicans to throw money at you, you should start and equip a war, spout some crazy religious belief and sell votes for subsidies, or be a lawyer that has to sort it all out.

What a shit load of  pricey #FAIL.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Forgotten Woman

74afa5ea0d2193d23f98b7d17016c82eGood Morning!

Yup.

———————>

That about says it all.

Plenty of links for you today, and with the way I am feeling…all the horrible things these racist bastards are saying and doing, it is just a link dump today. As usual, the post centers around a theme…this Sunday the theme is, forgotten women.

The women have different stories to tell, some are forgotten by time. Others are overlooked or ignored by the government or their husbands, and then you have those who are having an important aspect of being a woman blatantly disregarded…her rights. (Not that she really had all of them anyway.)

So, let’s just get down to it.  The link dump starts now:

I have other links on this Hobby Lobby shit below, but read this one from Imani Gandy. She will give it to y’all, finished and done. The Obama Administration Should Stop Bending to the Religious Right’s Will

 

White House revises birth control rules to comply with Hobby Lobby | Al Jazeera America

Seeking to quell a politically charged controversy, the Obama administration announced new measures Friday to allow religious nonprofits and some companies to opt out of paying for birth control for female employees while still ensuring those employees have access to contraception.

Even so, the accommodations may not fully satisfy religious groups who oppose any system that makes them complicit in providing coverage they believe is immoral. The administration’s hope is that the new accommodation will be more palatable because it creates more distance between religious nonprofits and the health services they believe are immoral, by inserting the government as a middleman between nonprofits and their insurers.

But the Family Research Council, a socially conservative group, dismissed the new accommodation as an “insulting accounting gimmick” that still leaves businesses and nonprofits complicit in something they view as immoral.

They never will be satisfied. I knew this before the compromise was first offered way back…

Effective immediately, the U.S. will start allowing faith-affiliated charities, colleges and hospitals to notify the government — rather than their insurers — that they object to birth control on religious grounds. A previous accommodation offered by the Obama administration allowed those nonprofits to opt out of paying for birth control by submitting a document called Form 700 to their insurers, but Roman Catholic bishops and other religious plaintiffs argued just submitting that form was like signing a permission slip to engage in evil.

To opt-out of paying for contraceptives without using Form 700, religious nonprofits can send a letter to the Health and Human Services Department that includes the organization’s name, the type of health plan they offer and the name and contact information for their insurance issuers or third-party administrators, officials said. Groups must also explain which types of birth control they object to and state the objection is based on sincerely held beliefs.

The administration’s proposal to let companies like Hobby Lobby use Form 700 will apply only to “closely held” corporations that are owned by families or a small number of investors. The government is asking for the public’s input about how narrowly to define a “closely held” corporation, meaning the rule-making process will drag out for many months before the fix is finalized.

In a related move, the administration announced plans to allow for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby Inc. to start using Form 700. The Supreme Court ruled in June that the government can’t force companies like Hobby Lobby Inc. to pay for birth control, sending the administration scrambling for a way to ensure their employees can still get birth control one way or another at no added cost.

More on birth control, if only these PLUB assholes would admit to the fact that when you Give Teens Access to Birth Control and, Amazingly, the Teen Pregnancy Rate Drops | Smart News | Smithsonian

he teen birth rate in the U.S. has been declining for decades—it’s decreased 57 percent since 1991. But recently, it’s begun dropping dramatically. More than half of that 57 percent change took place just the past six years, says a new report from the CDC.

Alongside the rapidly dropping birth rate, there’s been an equally precipitous dip in teen abortions, which are also down 56 percent over the past two decades. With the birth rate and the abortion rate both down, it seems that teens have decided en masse to just stop getting pregnant. But why?

[...]

In the Washington Post, Tina Griego covers that possibility. In Colorado, she writes, the teen birth rate has dropped 40 percent from 2009 to 2013, the largest drop in the country. That decline, state health officials say, can be traced to a program designed to improve teens’ access to high quality, long-lasting birth control. WaPo:

The Colorado Family Planning Initiative, supported by a $23 million anonymous donation, provided more than 30,000 IUDs or implants to women served by the state’s 68 family-planning clinics. The state’s analysis suggests the initiative was responsible for three-quarters of the decline in the state’s teen birth rates.

What about the longer term downward trend? In 1957, the birth rate among teens age 15 to 19 was 96.3 per 1,000 teens. In 1991, it had dropped to 61.8 per 1,000, and in 2013, it was all the way down to 26.6 births per 1,000 teens.

Then you have the laws, like the one in Texas that is written about here under the title of:  Quackery and Abortion Rights – NYTimes.com

The deception behind the wave of state-level abortion restrictions now threatening women’s access to safe and legal abortions was strikingly revealed during a trial that ended last week in Texas.

The trial, held before Judge Lee Yeakel of Federal District Court in Austin, offered an opportunity to examine evidence and hear arguments in a challenge to crucial portions of Texas’ sweeping 2013 package of abortion restrictions. The challenge, brought by reproductive rights advocates, focuses on two rules, one requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and another mandating that clinics meet state standards for ambulatory surgical centers, an unnecessary and prohibitively costly requirement.

The admitting-privileges rule, which is already in place, has severely limited access to safe and legal care in Texas. Absent court intervention, the situation will get much worse. There are now only 19 abortion clinics in Texas, compared with 41 before the new law. This number could shrink to as few as seven after Sept. 1, when the surgical-center rule takes effect.

And this is where the quack comes in:

A team of lawyers led by the Center for Reproductive Rights and their expert witnesses presented compelling evidence of the destructive consequences of the two rules and the emptiness of the claim that they are necessary to protect women’s health and safety.

By contrast, the state’s defense of the rules was a bizarre and unconvincing show. Four of its five witnesses denied, and then conceded (when confronted with incriminating emails) that their written testimony was crafted by Vincent Rue, an opponent of women’s reproductive freedom best known for promoting kooky claims, like the existence of an abortion-related mental illness he calls “post-abortive syndrome.”

Mr. Rue does brisk business these days orchestrating testimony from pliable witnesses willing to supply “expert” support for state abortion restrictions, a task for which he has been paid $42,000, so far, by Texas. That his guidance is relied upon is incredible given that his own past court testimony and theories have been discredited by judges and others.

If there was anything about forgotten women, it is the ones discussed about in this next piece: A Deadly Epidemic of Violence Against Women – The Atlantic

There is one state where women are getting killed in record numbers. Can you guess what region it is located?

The map is of South Carolina and its counties. “All 46 counties have at least one animal shelter to care for stray dogs,” The Charleston Post Courier reports, “but the state has only 18 domestic violence shelters to help women trying to escape abuse.” One of the red dots represents a 31-year-old, Amerise Barbre, whose boyfriend strangled her. Each red dot represents a woman killed by a husband or boyfriend. In the eight-year period shown, that sort of murder happened 292 times.

The Charleston Post Courier

 

“Most state legislators profess deep concern over domestic violence,” the newspaper notes in the introduction to a seven-part feature. “Yet they maintain a legal system in which a man can earn five years in prison for abusing his dog but a maximum of just 30 days in jail for beating his wife or girlfriend on a first offense.”

Domestic abuse reportedly occurs there about 36,000 times per year.

The feature posits that public-policy failures largely explain why South Carolina’s homicide rate for women is presently the highest in the nation. It urges sweeping reforms.

They are summarized here.

As with all these links, you need to finish up the article to get the full picture.

What’s more, as we all know by now: Black women are killed by police, too – Salon.com

As law enforcement continues to use military weapons to terrorize protesters seeking justice for slain teen Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, the ache in my soul is primitive and all-encompassing.

Reporters are being arrested, children are being hit with tear gas, and political pundits are being threatened. The stench of fear, fear of the power of collective Black rage and action, is rancid. And that fear breeds desperation. The need to suppress that rage, which screams that we are worth more than this country has shown us, claws at the gate-keepers of White supremacy—elected officials, police officers, and mainstream media—until it eats at them from the inside out.

You cannot control what you can’t contain. Wilson’s cold-blooded execution of Michael Brown, who was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, while in a position of surrender, lit the fuse on years of racial profiling and inequality in the town of Ferguson.

And there can be no peace where there is no justice.

They want us believe that it’s about looting; but it’s not. This entire horrific show of violence being committed in the name of the “law” proves once and for all that the system is not broken. When a Black boy is gunned down and left to bleed out in the street, that’s American justice. When his killer is allowed to leave town under the cloak of anonymity, that’s American justice.

To paraphrase Malcolm X, we are not Americans, we are victims of America. But as conversations about Michael Brown and Ferguson segue into broader discussions about the scourge of police brutality at large, it becomes clear that, despite being on the frontlines, the we in question often does not include Black women.

 

Be clear: The need to have a very specific, targeted discussion about the fear of Black, male bodies is critical.

And Kirsten West Savali, of Dame explains more at the link.

Following this article, it may be good to place this little bit of art next: » Blog Archive » Panhandle Slim… Art for Folk…

Simone

 

Speaking of which. They Have the Authority to Kill a Minority » Balloon Juice

All these people know for sure is that a white cop gunned down a black man and couldn’t even be bothered to fill out a police report. Chief Justice John Roberts can go fuck himself with a burning cross.

That goes double for me!

Want more?

Remember that reporter who was asking for information on police killings?  We’re Compiling Every Police-Involved Shooting In America. Help Us. Well, check this out: What I’ve Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings

A few days ago, Deadspin’s Kyle Wagner began to compile a list of all police-involved shootings in the U.S. He’s not the only one to undertake such a project: D. Brian Burghart, editor of the Reno News & Review, has been attempting a crowdsourced national database of deadly police violence. We asked Brian to write about what he’s learned from his project.

Oops, I’ve gotten off track. Back to those forgotten women: U.S. Airports Won’t Show You These Women’s Rights Ads, So We Will – Mic

U.S. airports are littered with advertisements, but that hasn’t stopped them from refusing to run displays featuring basic information about women’s rights.

UltraViolet, an advocacy group aimed at fighting sexism and expanding women’s rights, recently attempted to launch such an ad campaign in several airports. They focused on states with both booming tourist industries and histories of economic inequality between the sexes, like Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina.

When the targeted airports got wind of the ads, however, they flat-out refused to run them.

Go to the link to see the ads.

It is not like if  Men Had to Put Up With the Same Crap as Women | Cracked.com

Here…on to Israel: BBC News – Holocaust survivors condemn Israel’s Gaza ‘genocide’

More than 300 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and descendants of survivors have issued a public statement condemning Israel’s “genocide” of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

The statement was released by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and was placed as an advertisement in the New York Times.

It calls for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted and Israel to be boycotted.

The signatories expressed alarm at the “colonization of historic Palestine”.

It condemns the “racist dehumanisation of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached fever pitch”.

Go to the link to read the statement in full.

Up next, an Animated US Oil And Gas Rig Map

Business Insider had a,

 

oil rig moves

…a stunning animated map from DrillingInfo.com’s Kevin Thuot showing the evolution of the last 14 years of fracking in the U.S.

Now Thuot has put together a new incredible GIF showing how oil and gas drilling rigs are moving across states, and the country, in 2014 to the most productive formations.

“We care about rig activity because it is a leading indicator of future production in an area,” he writes. “Rig activity in an area today signals new production from that area in the near-term.”

Back to the women.

Some history? Pope Joan and the Black Swan: Medieval Christianity as a Resource for Gender Justice in the Church

In his introduction to the volume, John C. Raines summarized the group’s main findings about gender oppression. One, that world religions mirror social constructions of gender and vice versa; two, that the analysis of religious power is always a choice of political allegiance; three, that culturally specific and culturally competent academic work is needed in order to be persuasive; and four, that gender justice activism in religious domains demands multiple culturally appropriate tools and tactics. The contributors posited that all world religions carry their own seeds of positive change within. In John C. Raines’ words, “each of these religious traditions has a strong theory of social justice, and these resources can be harnessed to contemporary issues of gender. We ask, how can our Scriptures, how can our founding Prophets, how can our ancestors be used today to further justice in relations between genders?”

 

This essay offers resources from within medieval European Christianity in a feminist reading of the Christian dogma of hypostatic union, medieval political theory on royal twinning, and two medieval legends on the numinous double. Pulling these strands together as a feminist hermeneutics of double lives, I argue that the popular medieval story of a ninth century female Pope and the myth of a Fairy Lover have served to unhinge egemonic claims of male Christian superiority in the Middle Ages and in contemporary film today. As acts of subversive story telling or truth to be believed, the stories reconnoiter the possibility of a woman’s benevolent reign in the highest ecclesiastical office, and think up ingenious ways beyond institutional networks through which women might gain access to male dominated higher learning and a liberating sexuality. Safely positioned in part or in whole in the dreamlike realm of the numinous and supernatural, the narratives invite their audience to undo false consciousness. They insist that women deserve better and deserve more than what a misogynist status quo has to offer.

Click here to read this article from Temple University

 

Next a series of links that vary in subject.

Manatees could lose their endangered species status

Hilarious Marriage Equality PSA from Ireland Mocks ‘Armagayddon’

 

Claudia Cardinale on a rooftop in Rome! « Kinoimages.com

Hullabaloo- Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley – Dog days and ragnaroks, meaningless nouns

This Girl’s Baton-Twirling Skills Are a Thing of Beauty

Paris Review – In July, Sadie Stein

Our Daily Correspondent

Frozen Peas

F-for-Fake

Orson Welles in F for Fake, 1973, three years after the Frozen Peas recording.

But this…

Hmmm, frozen peas, the woman in the next series of stories would know something about that.

We all joke about running away from the shit and starting our own little commune. The lost family in Siberia did just that…For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II | History | Smithsonian

The Siberian taiga in the Abakan district. Six members of the Lykov family lived in this remote wilderness for more than 40 years—utterly isolated and more than 150 miles from the nearest human settlement. (Wikicommons)

In 1978, Soviet geologists prospecting in the wilds of Siberia discovered a family of six, lost in the taiga

russian_family_1.jpg__800x450_q85_crop_upscale

Karp Lykov and his daughter Agafia, wearing clothes donated by Soviet geologists not long after their family was rediscovered.

 

That article is from 2013, I was so fascinated, I looked for more information on the last living family member. A woman named,  Agafia Lykova.

From the Siberian Times:

Siberia’s most famous hermit swaps two ‘taiga’ kittens for a goat and a rooster

The kittens are survivors of a line of cats taken by the Lukov family into the remote forest when they fled from Stalin’s civilisation in the 1930s.

Agafya Lykova, pictured in the middle of eighties with father Karl,  left, and Krasnoyarsk professor Nazarov

Agafya Lykova, 68, is the last surviving member of the family of Old Believers who were discovered by a Soviet geologist in 1978. They had cut themselves off from the outside world.

When they were discovered, the family comprised Karp Iosifovich (the head of the family), his sons Savvin, 45, and Dmitry, 36, and his daughters Natalya, 42, and Agafya, then 34. The children’s mother Akulina had died in 1961.

The three other children died in 1981 and Karp in 1988 since when Agafya has lived alone at the family’s smallholding in what is now Khakassky nature reserve.

Rangers from the reserve visited her in February and she asked them to take two kittens back to civilisation – in exchange for a goat and a rooster which they brought her. She had earlier asked for the new animals instead of a medal ‘For Belief and Kindness’ which Governor Aman Tuleyev of neighbouring Kemerovo region wanted to present her.

‘My old cock stopped crowing, please can I have a new one? Also my old goat died and I need another one. And another thing please can I have new boots. I am feeling well thank you, do say hello to governor Aman Tuleyev.’

The reserve press office said that ‘just before their departure, Agafya Lykova gave the reserve employees two kittens, a male and a female, and asked to give them into ‘good hands’.

The woman who time forgot… Remarkable new pictures of hermit Agafya Lykova

Driven into the Siberian taiga by Stalin, she is the sole survivor of the Lykov family who cut themselves off from civilisation in 1936.

Helicopter to fly food and hay to the loneliest woman in Russia

Photo of her hut:

Helicopter brings aid to Siberian recluse Agafia Lykova – 42-55243184 – Rights Managed – Stock Photo – Corbis

Photo of Agafya:

Helicopter brings aid to Siberian recluse Agafia Lykova – 42-55242904 – Rights Managed – Stock Photo – Corbis

The last article I could find was from January of this year: Emergency services arrive to save life of hermit Agafiya Lykova, Russia’s loneliest woman

Last week the recluse warned in a letter to a newspaper that her health was failing and she did not have enough logs for the winter.

‘I don’t know how God will help me survive the winter. There aren’t any logs. I need to get them into the house’, she warned.

After her plea, a helicopter with a doctor on board was sent to check the deeply religious hermit – and to bring her vital supplies. Meanwhile, a well-known Russian millionaire has offered to pay the salary of a helper to live with Agafya in her lonely vigil. German Sterligov, one of the first dollar millionaires as the Soviet Union collapsed, has promised a 40,000 rouble a month salary to a companion who will live with Agafya in the remotest house in Russia.

The helicopter brought fresh food, medicine and household items, and a doctor examined her but the woman – a devout Old Believer – refused his offer to be flown to hospital for treatment. The mercy mission was ordered by governor Viktor Zimin.

‘Nature reserve staff gathered food and other goods for Agafya,’ said a statement from the Emergencies Ministry in Khakassia, the Siberian republic where she lives. ‘They brought cereals and flour for her and cabbage and food for her goats. They also brought vegetables for planting, and in a month Agafya will start growing them at home.’

The team ‘carried logs from the forest closer to Agafya’s house. The logs were cut but it was hard for her to carry them every day.’

‘The doctor examined Agafiya and offered to take her to hospital for treatment. The 68 year old woman complained of headaches and other problems and needs detailed examination. But she absolutely refused to go. The doctor gave her some advice and left medicine.

There are photos and more curious tidbits of information about Agafya and her life at those links, so be sure to take a look.

I will end this post with a Book review from New York Times, a connection…from one forgotten Russian woman to another. ‘Kreutzer Sonata Variations’ Has a Scorned Wife’s Rebuttal

In her long and often turbulent marriage to Leo Tolstoy, Sophia Andreevna Tolstoy put up with a lot, but “The Kreutzer Sonata” qualified as special punishment. Published in 1889, the story presented Tolstoy’s increasingly radical views on sexual relations and marriage through a frenzied monologue delivered by a narrator who, in a fit of jealousy and disgust, murdered his wife.

In her diary, Sophia wrote: “I do not know how or why everyone connected ‘The Kreutzer Sonata’ with our own married life, but this is what has happened.” Members of the Tolstoy family circle and the czar himself had expressed pity for her, she complained. “And it isn’t just other people,” she added. “I, too, know in my heart that this story is directed against me, and that it has done me a great wrong, humiliated me in the eyes of the world and destroyed the last vestiges of love between us.”

Convinced that the story was “untrue in everything relating to a young woman’s experiences,” Sophia wrote two novellas setting forth her own views, “Whose Fault?” and “Song Without Words,” which both languished in the archives of the Tolstoy Museum until their recent rediscovery and publication in Russia. Michael R. Katz, a retired professor of Russian and Eastern European studies at Middlebury College, has translated both stories into English and included them in “The Kreutzer Sonata Variations,” coming from Yale University Press on Tuesday, adding to a flurry of recent work appraising Tolstoy’s wife as a figure in her own right.

Looks like something good…especially with those cooler days coming our way. (Hopefully.)

What is on your mind today? Let’s have it.


Wednesday Reads: You like chicken. Order that.

3e5baafcd1a0acc0135766e49746d593Good Morning

Today’s post will focus on discrimination, hate and hate crimes. Whether it is outright racism… unquestionable prejudice…probable intolerance or a hint of bigotry with a touch of “that just ain’t right” sexism.

First up however, a quick look at what is going on in Ferguson:

Another Night Of Unrest During Tenth Night Of Protests In Ferguson

After nine nights of unrest met with tear gas, riot gear and a National Guard presence, Tuesday night in Ferguson, Missouri began peacefully. But by midnight central time, tensions began to rise.

Many protesters marched along West Florissant Avenue, chanting “no justice no peace,” and “hands up, don’t shoot,” while others loitered looking on. Police were not enforcing Capt. Ron Johnson’s rule forcing protesters to keep moving or risk removal.

While people were relieved at the initial lack of confrontation Tuesday night, everyone recognized how fragile the situation was and that it could turn instantly.

I really don’t know what happened overnight, but Holder did make a statement about the situation.

Eric Holder Pens Message to Ferguson Ahead of Wednesday’s Visit

Attorney General Eric Holder will visit Ferguson, Missouri on Wednesday to get briefed by local authorities on the situation there following the fatal shooting of 18-year-old unarmed Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. But before he arrives, Holder has written a message to the people of Ferguson for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“At a time when so much may seem uncertain, the people of Ferguson can have confidence that the Justice Department intends to learn — in a fair and thorough manner — exactly what happened,” Holder writes.

He says he plans to “meet personally with community leaders, FBI investigators and federal prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to receive detailed briefings on the status of this case” while in Ferguson tomorrow.

Holder urges an “end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson,” saying that “they seriously undermine, rather than advance, the cause of justice.” He also vows that the Justice Department will “defend the right of protesters to peacefully demonstrate and for the media to cover a story that must be told.”

Here’s some thoughts regarding Holder’s statement and his plans to go to Ferguson:

Wall Street Journal editor: Eric Holder should tell Ferguson protesters to ‘pull up their pants’

Yeah, go and read what Wall Street Journal editorial board member Jason Riley had to say…

…Holder was there as part of President Barack Obama’s efforts to play “race-healer-in-chief.”

“These looters and rioters do not need to hear from the attorney general that criticism of Obama is race-based,” Riley told host Bret Bauer. “What they need to hear from this Black man in this position — the nation’s leading law enforcement official — is that they need to stay out of trouble with the law. They need to pull up their pants and finish school and take care of their kids. That is the message they need to hear.”

Riley is African-American, and he is not the only black man who is making outrageous statements like this. Check this out, – Tea Party Leader: Black ‘Thugs’ Do Not Deserve Due Process (VIDEO)

Then you have reaction to the statement made by Missouri Gov. Nixon, from John Marshall at TPM: Is That an Editing Error?

I want to be very clear on the point I’m about to make so that I’m not misunderstood. Gov. Nixon of Missouri put out a statement this evening on the situation in Ferguson. Much of it is boilerplate that wouldn’t surprise or inspire you. (I’m reprinting it in its entirety at the end of this post.) The gist is that to move forward peace needs to be restored in Ferguson and there needs to be justice in the case of the precipitating event – the death of Michael Brown. (There is a separate controversy over Nixon’s decision not to appoint a special prosecutor – which I think is a mistake.) But in the key line – the part two of his statement he says that “a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued.”

Now, let me be clear. This is not remotely to suggest that the facts will not show that a prosecution is in order. Based on what we know publicly, it seems very likely that there should be. But let’s not let the justified outrage at what’s transpired obscure a simple fact. There’s a great deal we in the public do not know about what happened. This goes without saying. There will be sworn witness statements, forensic evidence about Brown and Wilson and a lot else. Indeed, it’s one of the significant problems in this saga that so little information has been released. But there’s a process: a full investigation and then a decision by a prosecutor. That hasn’t happened yet.

It’s an entirely different matter for members of the public to demand a prosecution. But this is the Governor of the state, the elected official who has ultimate responsibility for carrying out the laws of the state. It’s simply crazy for him to be saying there has to be a prosecution. It’s so inappropriate that I think it’s highly likely that this is actually an editing error – or someone doing the writing who just didn’t grasp the significance of the word choice.

But even if that’s the case, the principle is so basic and important that it’s important to note: the Governor shouldn’t be publicly assuming that Wilson must be prosecuted or that a prosecution must happen for justice to be served.

BTW, Getty released a statement as well…regarding their photojournalist who was arrested Monday night. Statement from Pancho Bernasconi, VP, News, on the arrest of Getty Images staff photographer Scott Olson in Ferguson | Getty Images Press Room | Latest company news, media announcements and information

We at Getty Images stand firmly behind our colleague Scott Olson and the right to report from Ferguson. Getty Images is working to secure his release as soon as possible.  

We strongly object to his arrest and are committed to ensuring he is able to resume his important work of capturing some of the most iconic images of this news story.

Now we get to the other stories making news that touch on the subject of this post. Hate.

Read the rest of this entry »