Sunday Reads: Bacon on Wheels, Alpaca Buzz Cuts and Penguins on Parade

151-001Good Morning

Guess you can tell from the title of this post, animals will play a feature role in today’s reads.  Right now here in Banjoville the skies are opening up and raining down cats and dogs. Loud thunder is shaking the house, and that means lightning…real bad lightning…so I best make this post short and sweet. So here are your morning reads in link dump fashion.

Well, down in Miami the police roughed up a kid who was holding a puppy because he looked at them funny. I should say not funny as in funny amusing, but as they put it….”dehumanizing.”

Police Allegedly Assault Black Kid Carrying A Puppy For Looking At Them Wrong

Miami-Dade Police allegedly handcuffed and choked a 14 year old boy while he was carrying a newborn puppy for giving them a “dehumanizing” stare. A court case over the incident will begin on July 16th.

Tremaine McMillian was, by his account, playing on a beach with a friend and his puppy on the Miami boardwalk when police came over to tell them to stop “roughousing.” Though the police later admitted the boys’ activity was neither criminal nor violent, they asked the boys where their parents were. McMillian directed the officers to his nearby mother, and that’s where the family and the police’s story diverge.

McMillian and his mother, Maurissa Holmes, say the police chased down McMillian on ATVs and attacked him essentially without provocation. “The police officers were on their ATVs, and my son was walking,” Holmes said. “They jumped off their ATVs, grabbed him and slammed him to the ground.”

You can read the police’s version at the link, you can also see video of the arrest as well…there are some discrepancies however…pointed out by Tommy Christopher…check this out.

…there’s another painfully adorable detail that was left out of that report. Here’s what Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaletatold CBS 4:

Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta told D’Oench it was just after 11:00 am on Memorial Day on Haulover Beach when officers saw McMillian slamming another teenager on to the sand.

“They told him that behavior was unacceptable,” said Zabaleta. “He walked away and officers followed him. They asked where his parents were. He said he was not going to take them to them. When he started to leave the beach area, officers had to get off their ATVs to detain him. He had closed arms, clenched fists and pulled his arm away.”

“Once he was approaching the road, the officers restrained him. Again his body language was that he was stiffening up and pulling away,” said Zabaleta. “Now you’re resisting officers at that point and when the hands are swinging and you are resisting officers, at that point you have to be taken into custody.”

“Of course we have to neutralize the threat,” said Zabaleta. “When you have somebody resistant to them and pulling away and somebody clenching their fists and flailing their arms, that’s a threat.”

He said the police report did not indicate that a puppy was involved.

“At that point we are not concerned with a puppy,” said Zabaleta. “We are concerned with the threat to the officer.”

So, the police don’t seem to be disputing that the puppy was there, just that he didn’t merit inclusion in the report. But if the puppy was there, then how do police explain this?

“How could I be clenching my fists when I was taking care of my puppy and giving him some milk with a bottle?” asked McMillian.

I mean the kid was giving the newborn puppy a bottle of milk…WTF?

Shit…with the way law enforcement authorities are reporting things lately, that bottle of milk could have been a rocket launcher and the puppy? Well that was no puppy, that was a dwarf Muslim terrorist, hey….don’t mistake that fur for the towel on his head. /snark

I want to bring this story to your attention, it is about pigs but not the real animals. U.S. Naval Academy football players investigated for sexual assault | Reuters

Three members of the U.S. Naval Academy football team are being investigated for the alleged sexual assault of a female student, the Pentagon said on Friday, the latest in a string of scandals that have thrown a spotlight on sex crimes in the military.

The alleged incident took place in April 2012, when the student attended a party at the off-campus “football house” in Annapolis, Maryland and became intoxicated, her attorney, Susan Burke, said in a statement.

“She woke up at the football house the next morning with little recall of what had occurred. She learned from friends and social media that three football players were claiming to have had sexual intercourse with her while she was incapacitated,” Burke said, without identifying her client by name.

No charges have been brought forth yet, this is still being investigated.

Burke said that one of the football players pressured the woman not to cooperate with an initial investigation into the case. She initially followed that advice, but was still “ostracized and retaliated against by the football players and the Naval Academy community.” She was also disciplined for drinking, Burke said in a statement.

In early 2013, the female student decided to seek legal help and the Navy re-opened the investigation, Burke said.

“Over time, the midshipman began to recover from the trauma, and became angered at the lack of justice and retaliation in her case,” she said.

I am sure that this investigation will eventually end up like these cases usually do. But with the congressional hearings coming up…maybe there will be a fire under the ass of these military brass and justice will finally take a front seat and not get molested like so many of these women service members.

Here is yet another article about shitty pay and what it does to the economy. One Walmart’s Low Wages Could Cost Taxpayers $900,000 Per Year, House Dems Find

Then you have the other side of the coin, y’all heard that Tumblr was sold to Yahoo for 1.1 billion dollars…check this out: Tumblr’s Creative Director Quits

On to something more interesting, these next two links are about different things…but deal with the same subject.

First, this article from the New York Times: Justice Dept. Reports Rise in Prosecutions on Indian Lands

The Justice Department said this week that it had increased its rate of criminal prosecutions in Indian country by more than 50 percent in the past four years, a period in which violent crime on the nation’s Indian reservations has soared and tribes have complained of lawlessness.

The data, part of a Justice Department report released Thursday, found that United States attorneys had prosecuted about 69 percent of the 3,145 criminal cases referred to their offices from Indian country last year — an improvement over 2011, when the federal government tried 63 percent of 2,840 criminal cases in Indian country.

The report comes amid a wave of violent crime on Indian lands and criticism of the Justice Department by tribal officials who say United States attorneys pursue far too few violent criminal cases on reservations.

Prosecutors say they must decline many Indian country cases — about 60 percent of the total — because of a lack of evidence.

The feds usually prosecute murder, rape and white-collar crimes, but these numbers are a bit confusing because there is a new law that went into effect which includes various other violent crimes.

Previous government data have cited violent crimes, which presented a more pessimistic picture: that the Justice Department files charges in only about half of Indian country murder investigations and one-third of sexual assault cases. The data also showed the number of prosecutions by United States attorneys of violent crimes fell by 3 percent from 2000 to 2010, even as crime on some reservations increased by 50 percent or more.

But the report released this week does not separate the number of federal prosecutions for violent crimes. Instead, the report groups them with drug cases and white-collar crime.

On Friday, Wyn Hornbuckle, a Justice Department spokesman, said the analysis did not specify figures for violent crime because the department was not required to do so by the Tribal Law and Order Act, a 2010 law that mandates that the department release prosecution rates in Indian country. (This week’s report is the agency’s first since the law went into effect.)

I guess these reports are just like any other reports out there, what the hell do they really tell us? And do they exist so people can twist these department figures to their advantage, and by doing that manipulate the dialogue to justify their own agenda. (I know the answer to that…)

The other link is this: Do Mascots Need Modernizing? « The Dish

Earlier this week, ten members of Congress sent a letter to the front office of the Washington Redskins, pushing them to select a new mascot:

In this day and age, it is imperative that you uphold your moral responsibility to disavow the usage of racial slurs.  The usage of the “R-word” is especially harmful to Native American youth, tending to lower their sense of dignity and self-esteem.  It also diminishes feelings of community worth among the Native American tribes and dampens the aspirations of their people. We look forward to working with you to find a solution to this important matter.

This is something that I am hesitant to get involved in. I am no fan of the Atlanta Braves, but they also have an Indian mascot. There is talk of getting the government involved, like previous strategy used by the JFK admin when the Redskins owners would not integrate the team.  See  the JFKs guys would not allow the Redskins on the stadium property because it was federal land…however,

Doug Mataconis disagrees with the liberal lawmakers’ strategy:

I have to wonder why this is something that Members of Congress need to be getting involved in, or why legislation is necessary to address something that is, in the end, a private business matter.

The people who don’t like the name are free to protest it. Dan Snyder and the rest of Redskins ownership are free to reject their pleas. If there ever comes a time when the public sympathizes with the protesters, then perhaps the team will feel the kind of economic pressure most likely to cause them to change positions, then we’ll likely see a name change of some kind.

Personally, I think the odds of that happening are pretty remote. The Redskins name has been in existence now since 1933 when the football version of the Boston Braves changed its name to Boston Redskins before moving to Washington, D.C. several years later. We’re not that far away from the 100th anniversary of that name. It’s going to be around for a long time to come, and I’m just fine with that.

Well, the Redskins play on the FedEx field in Maryland now…and it isn’t on Federal land. Like I said, I don’t know how I feel about this…guess we will talk about it in the comments below.

Ralph posted a link to an article about the DOJ Press Leaks by Walter Pincus last week in the comments and I thought everyone would appreciate this response from the ACLU. (I remembered the name Pincus because of Seinfeld…and Kramer, “Poor little Pincus.”) Anyway: Responding to The Washington Post’s Walter Pincus on Leaks and Shield Laws | American Civil Liberties Union

There is a rumor going round that Hillary Clinton is getting her own Twitter Hillary Clinton To Start Using Twitter: Report:This is supposed to be her handle…  https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton

For some far out images,  Global flight-path maps: Five interpretations  Large pictures here:  In pictures: Global flight paths

A bit of Manhattan History for those of you who are the nostalgic types: 1930s New York subway train makes rare trip from Queens to Manhattan

ccbcad213a676312330f6a706700ede3.jpg

May 30, 2013: In this photo provided by the New York Mass Transit Administration, an unidentified MTA employee checks the platform from between the cars of a 1930’s era subway train in the Queens borough of New York. (AP/Mass Transit Administration)

[...]

Lucky straphangers who happened to be in the right place at the right time on Thursday got to ride in eight subway cars purchased between 1930 and 1939.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority says some of the cars were taken out of the New York Transit Museum to commemorate the opening of a stretch of subway tracks badly damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

After the ceremony, the cars were put into regular passenger service for one quick trip from Queens to upper Manhattan.

Riders on board the train took pictures and gawked at its old-school style. Ads for Clark bars, fireworks shows on Coney Island and Levy’s Rye Bread adorned the walls.

More history for you, this is Breaking Bad meets Inglorious Basturds: Crystal Meth Origins Link Back to Nazi Germany and World War II – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Crystal meth is notorious for being highly addictive and ravaging countless communities. But few know that the drug can be traced back to Nazi Germany, where it first became popular as a way to keep pilots and soldiers alert in battle during World War II.

Photo Gallery: Crystal Meth's German Roots

“Alertness aid” read the packaging, to be taken “to maintain wakefulness.” But “only from time to time,” it warned, followed by a large exclamation point.

The young soldier, though, needed more of the drug, much more. He was exhausted by the war, becoming “cold and apathetic, completely without interests,” as he himself observed. In letters sent home by the army postal service, he asked his family to send more. On May 20, 1940, for example, he wrote: “Perhaps you could obtain some more Pervitin for my supplies?” He found just one pill was as effective for staying alert as liters of strong coffee. And — even better — when he took the drug, all his worries seemed to disappear. For a couple of hours, he felt happy.

This 22-year-old, who wrote numerous letters home begging for more Pervitin, was not just any soldier — he was Heinrich Böll, who would go on to become one of Germany’s leading postwar writers and win a Nobel Prize for literature in 1972. And the drug he asked for is now illegal, notoriously so. We now know it as crystal meth.

Man, that is some fucked up shit.

Alright, since we touched on chemistry…here is a link that ties in perfectly. Molecule Chemical Bond Images From UC Berkeley | Geekosystem

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Have you ever looked at a textbook diagram of the chemical bonds that make up molecules and thought to yourself, “This is just a dumb drawing — how do they know what it even looks like in real life?” Well stop it. Stop it right now. Felix Fischer of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is going to show you what it looks like with these gorgeous high-resolution images of individual carbon atoms linking together. And guess what? They look just like they do in the textbooks. Happy now?

I swear I had no idea these things really looked like this! Did you? Go to the link to read the rest. Amazing.

Back now to my own comfort zone: ‘Amazingly rare’ letter written by Robert the Bruce to Edward II found (But I gotta say, I hated the movie Braveheart!)

An unknown and “amazingly rare” letter written by Robert the Bruce at a pivotal point of the Wars of Scottish Independence has been uncovered by a Scottish academic.

In the letter, the fearsome Scottish warrior appeals to the English King Edward II for an end to “persecution and disturbance”. It was sent in 1310, less than four years before Bannockburn, the  victory that paved the way for Scottish independence.

Dauvit Broun, professor of Scottish History at the University of Glasgow, found the letter in The British Library while studying a manuscript written by the monks of Kirkstall Abbey about 500 years ago. The correspondence  happened to be copied by the monks into their manuscript, the original has not survived.

Professor Broun said: “It’s  amazingly rare, a freak survival. There’s nothing like this that  survives from around that time.”

Listen to the tone of Robert the Bruce…

Bruce wrote to “beseech” the king that “you would take pains to cease from our persecution and the disturbance of the people of our kingdom in order that devastation and the spilling of a neighbour’s blood may henceforth stop.”

Take a look at the rest of the article at the link. I wish they had printed the full letter. I would have loved to read the whole thing myself.

Real quick archeology links:

Japan’s Oldest-Known Wooden Mask – Archaeology Magazine

San “Rain Control” in South Africa – Archaeology Magazine

Earlier this week I linked to the female mammoth with flowing blood that was found in Siberia…well, this was another cool “ice age” related article that I was planning on sharing with you:  Centuries-old frozen plants revived

Plants that were frozen during the “Little Ice Age” centuries ago have been observed sprouting new growth, scientists say.

Samples of 400-year-old plants known as bryophytes have flourished under laboratory conditions.

Researchers say this back-from-the-dead trick has implications for how ecosystems recover from the planet’s cyclic long periods of ice coverage. The findings appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The receding glaciers are exposing land that has not seen daylight since the mini ice age.

Bryophytes are different from the land plants that we know best, in that they do not have vascular tissue that helps pump fluids around different parts of the organism.

They can survive being completely desiccated in long Arctic winters, returning to growth in warmer times, but Dr La Farge was surprised by an emergence of bryophytes that had been buried under ice for so long.

“When we looked at them in detail and brought them to the lab, I could see some of the stems actually had new growth of green lateral branches, and that said to me that these guys are regenerating in the field, and that blew my mind,” she told BBC News.

“If you think of ice sheets covering the landscape, we’ve always thought that plants have to come in from refugia around the margins of an ice system, never considering land plants as coming out from underneath a glacier.”

But the retreating ice at Sverdrup Pass, where the Teardrop Glacier is located, is uncovering an array of life, including cyanobacteria and green terrestrial algae. Many of the species spotted there are entirely new to science.

And from that story of new life from ancient plants to a post in The Atlantic, I will just put it here because…well, you all will see why: Why the Boomers Are the Most Hated Generation – Edward Tenner – The Atlantic (Look at the comments, some of them are funny and vicious indeed.)

While you “feast” on that, take a look at this op/ed from the LA Times…Jefferson Davis’ ‘presidential’ library -  It offers a rallying point for the myth of a gentle and just South dragged into the War of Northern Aggression.

And then…think about that little island in the Mediterranean for all us Sky Dancers to escape to:  The island of long life – On the Greek island of Ikaria, life is sweet… and very, very long. So what is the locals’ secret?

The island of long life – in pictures | Life and style | The Guardian

Ikaria - in pictures: Ikaria island - secrets of the blue zone

BTW, did you see my man Samuel L Jackson and his latest video? Samuel L. Jackson Quitting Acting To Pursue A ‘Life Of Vigilantism’? | Mediaite

Samuel L. Jacksonsubmitted a challenge to the Reddit community this week. “It’s simple,” he wrote, “write 300 words and the most upvoted post I’ll read out loud in monologue form.” Today, Jackson posted the winning monologue video and it was just as “bad-ass” as promised.

“Hi, I’m Samuel L. Jackson,” he began, “I’m sorry to disappoint you, Reddit, but I’ve decided to break the rules of my own competition.” From there, the actor said he wanted to “speak to you all from my own heart, in my own words” before announcing that he was “quitting acting and pursuing a life of vigilantism.” Fortunately for fans of one of America’s most prolific actors, this was all part of the winning submission from Reddit user adiddy.

I love this mutha…

Jackson set up the unconventional contest to help raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, and revealed on Reddit that the campaign had raised over $130,000. Everyone who donated was entered to win lunch with Jackson and a trip to his UK celebrity golf tournament.

The whole thing almost got “derailed by the internet forum 4Chan”but here it is…

Whoa….ooooeeee, that dude is awesome.

Now for the animals.

Sheared Alpaca – Business Insider

Alpaca Getting Sheared

Farmers shear an alpaca at a zoo in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, May 30, 2013…

Scrawny under all that fleece aren’t they. I just got one thing to say, that alpaca is not getting sheared by someone looking to spin the fiber into yarn. What a waste! Butcher of a job…

See:

What a difference….those of you inclined to fiber fun, check out the video and watch these guys get sheared.

Shearing Movies | Cliff House Alpacas

And see how the fiber is prepared:

After we Shear we Skirt | Cliff House Alpacas

Alright then, moving on to the penguins.

So This Happened | TPM Editors Blog

To greet African leaders arriving for conference in Japan, event organizers force group of Penguins to dress up in ‘African’ costumes …

And finally, meet Chris P. Bacon: The wheelchair pig

Chris P. Bacon The wheelchair pig

A Florida veterinarian who fashioned a wheelchair for his pet pig has just signed a three-book publishing deal on the life and adventures of his little friend he named Chris P. Bacon.

That’ll do pig. Oh he is so damn cute.

Geez, 3360 words later, short and sweet my ass!

That should keep everyone busy, now some of you will have storms to look out for today, so stay alert:  Severe Weather Warnings Page

And if you are around, stop and leave a comment or two….have a wonderful day!


Wednesday Reads: Do it again…

coffee birdGood Morning

This is going to be a quick post since I did not realize that today is Wednesday.

Lindsey Graham is again showing us what it means to be an asshole, as he declares:  ‘Clinton Got Away With Murder’ On Benghazi, Will Hold Hagel Unless Panetta Testifies

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is still searching for the silver bullet, that one piece of testimony that will prove once and for all that the Obama administration lied during the aftermath of the Benghazi attack.

Appearing on Fox News last night, Graham made clear that he was unsatisfied with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s testimony last week, saying, “I haven’t forgotten about Benghazi. Hillary Clinton got away with murder, in my view.” Graham’s quest for the truth has now led him to current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

Panetta, who has not testified before Congress about the role he played during the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in the Libya city, is due to step down from his position at the Pentagon in the coming weeks. Graham now insists that Panetta would have to provide answers on what happened that night to the Armed Services Committee, on which Graham is a member. What’s more, as he told Fox News host Greta Van Sustren, Graham now intends to place a hold on Panetta’s proposed replacement, Chuck Hagel, until he gets the answers he wants.

Honestly, when will the Republicans stop these dickish ways and quit their obstructive tactics?

When I see the way some of the GOP are reacting to the proposed immigration reform, it makes me think there is an underlying desperation in their attitude. GOP Rep Says He Opposes Immigration Reform Because Latinos Are Uneducated, Will Never Support Republicans

Republican senators in the so-called Gang of 8 working to enact comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship argue that repairing the broken system would attract Latino voters to the GOP. As Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) explained during a Sunday appearance on ABC’s This Week, “We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours for a variety of reasons, and we’ve got to understand that.” In November, President Obama “won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote while Mitt Romney won 27 percent.”

But some Republicans disagree. Responding to the bipartisan framework, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) echoed the rhetoric surrounding immigrants and Democratic voters throughout the 2012 election and suggested that Hispanics would never vote for Republicans who don’t provide them with government hand outs:

“It’s amnesty that America can’t afford,” Barletta said Monday. “We have to stop people from coming in illegally. This will be a green light for anyone who wants to come to America illegally and then be granted citizenship one day.” [...]

“I hope politics is not at the root of why we’re rushing to pass a bill. Anyone who believes that they’re going to win over the Latino vote is grossly mistaken,” Barletta said. “The majority that are here illegally are low-skilled or may not even have a high school diploma. The Republican Party is not going to compete over who can give more social programs out. They will become Democrats because of the social programs they’ll depend on.”

Another right-wing PAC is in the news…Top Conservatives Run PAC That Funded White Nationalists, according to Mother Jones:

wo prominent conservative movement officials who hold leadership positions for several right-wing groups—Ron Robinson and James B. Taylor—run a political action committee that donated thousands of dollars to a white nationalist organization, according to public records. And for several years Taylor was vice president of another white nationalist organization.

Robinson and Taylor are each board members of Young America’s Foundation (YAF), which cofounded the annual Conservative Political Action Conference and runs the conservative youth group Young Americans for Freedom. (YAF owns and manages the Ronald Reagan Ranch, trains conservative journalists, and calls itself “the principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement.”) And Robinson, YAF’s president, is on the board of two other conservative groups: Citizens United, which brought the landmark Supreme Court case of the same name, and the American Conservative Union, which operates CPAC.

With these positions, Robinson and Taylor are at the center of mainstream conservative infrastructure. But each also sits on the three-person board of America’s PAC, a far-right outfit that in 2004 gave $5,000 to the Charles Martel Society, a white nationalist group, according to the PAC’s filing with the Federal Election Commission. Taylor, YAF’s former executive director and a current board member, founded America’s PAC in 1983. Both his and Robinson’s names appear on America’s PAC letterhead before and after the donation to the Martel Society. Since 2004, America’s PAC has raised and spent over $5 million, giving donations to dozens of Republican candidates.

And what is with the name Charles Martel Society? That name came up a lot in my medieval history classes…

The Martel Society is named for Charles Martel, who stymied a Muslim invasion of Europe by winning the Battle of Tours in 734. It was founded in 2001 by William Regnery II, an heir to a conservative publishing fortune and a “prime mover and shaker in white nationalism publishing,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist extremism. The Martel Society is best known for publishing The Occidental Quarterly, which is sort of the Nature of academic racism, and its sister online publication, The Occidental Observer. The Anti-Defamation League has characterized the Quarterly as “racist” and the Observer as “anti-Semitic.” The Observer maintains an archive of stories on the topic of “Jews and the financial collapse,” and the Quarterly once awarded a $10,000 prize for books on the “group evolutionary strategies” of Jewish people. According to records America’s PAC filed with the FEC, its donation to the Martel Society was a “grant.” The Charles Martel Society did not respond to a request for comment.

I hate when these people use history in a twisted way to further their agenda.

The NRA is doing it again, they are going up against Gabby Giffords husband today, via CBS News: NRA vs. Giffords’ husband at Senate gun control hearing

Today, the debate over gun control gets its first congressional hearing since President Obama proposed sweeping reforms to help tackle escalating gun violence in the United States.

National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre and Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who survived a shot to the head two years ago during an assassination attempt that left six people dead, are among those slated to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. One congressional source tells CBS News that Giffords herself is expected to attend the hearing; she is expected to accompany her husband but is not scheduled to testify.

Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., “wants to move legislation, and he wants to do it quickly,” his spokeswoman Jessica Brady told CBSNews.com. Today’s hearing will offer a platform for a “respectful and productive conversation” about “where there is potential for success in passing legislation this year.”

Meanwhile, in Alabama, there is a hostage situation: Man shoots Alabama bus driver, holds child hostage underground

A man boarded a school bus in Alabama, police said, shot the driver, took a 6-year-old boy hostage and hours later was still holding the child in an underground bunker early Wednesday.

The incident started Tuesday afternoon and continued early Wednesday morning with authorities still desperately trying to free the young child.

Late in the evening Tuesday, the man had the child in some sort of underground bunker or storm shelter, and authorities were communicating with him through a PVC pipe, CNN affiliate WSFA reported.

“We will continue to work diligently through the night in an effort to bring closure to this incident as quickly as possible,” the Dale County Sheriff’s Department said at 11 p.m. CT.

Hours later, the hostage situation was still ongoing, WSFA reported. More than 13 hours after the ordeal had began, the child was still underground.

Sigh, I will keep you up to date on this story, the boy is still being held hostage.

Two more links, Israel Boycotts U.N. Human Rights Review, Council Awards Deferral For First Time Ever

Israel became the first nation to skip a U.N. review of its human rights record without giving a reason – and then won a precedent-setting deferral Tuesday.

The president of the U.N.’s top rights body, Polish diplomat Remigiusz Henczel, declared Israel a no-show at a meeting in Geneva and then reconvened the 47-nation Human Rights Council to decide what to do.

Israel had asked Henczel in January to postpone the review but did not provide a public explanation.

“This is a rather unique step which has never happened in the past,” said German U.N. Ambassador Hanns Heinrich Schumacher.

But after a debate, the council unanimously agreed to defer the review until its next session in October and November at the latest.

This move will set a precedent for any future request to hold up any Human Rights Council reviews…and it comes at a time when Israel’s questionable treatment of Ethiopian women is making headlines:  Israel’s Ethiopian Birth Control Story Reflects A Broader Problem

On Sunday it was reported that Israel has finally admitted to systematically depressing the fertility of the Ethiopian immigrant community (information first reported five years ago) by injecting Ethiopian-Israeli women with the long-acting birth control drug Depo-Provera without informed consent.

In some cases, women were first given the drug while still in transit camps; in other cases, it seems women were regularly injected after arriving in Israel. Some women apparently knew they were being given birth control but were told they wouldn’t be let into Israel if they didn’t agree; others report being told the shots were “inoculations.”

And as one Secretary of State is preparing to leave, her replacement finally got the go ahead from the Senate…Senate overwhelmingly backs Kerry to lead State Department 

The Senate overwhelmingly approved Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) as the next secretary of state Tuesday afternoon, with three Republican “no” votes.

The vote was 94 to 3, clearing the way for Kerry to formally take over from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday.

Clinton has given her last interview as “Madame  Secretary,” here is the transcript from ABC: Transcript: Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s ‘Nightline’ Interview on Benghazi Testimony, Stepping Down

Be sure to keep an eye on the weather today, it looks like there will be a mess of storms.  So, what are you reading about today?


A Thursday Afternoon Link Dump…

Good evening, y’all!

It’s a new season, by that I mean basketball. So tonight I am off to watch my daughter cheer for her b-ball team here in Banjoville.

Tonight’s reads have a mixture of stories for you, and I hope that you find them interesting.

I’ve got a couple of stories on dinosaurs, one real and one metaphorical…I start the post with one…and finish with one, you know how I have to have some sort of method to my madness.

On that dinosaur they call the GOP, this op/ed from Alex Jakubowski at the Daily Caller caught my eye, of all the shit spewing from the mouths of the right, this was the one voice that had any sort of genuine reason and thought. Give it a read in full, and then take a peek at the comments…of course it will never reach through those right-wing nut’s thick skulls, but it is nice to think so…anyway, here it is: My father’s party

We lost. We lost in 2008. We lost in 2012. We can say we won in 2010, but why bother? What gains did we achieve? How did we really help everyday Americans by replacing the Democratic-controlled House with a Republican one? The answer: We didn’t. We didn’t pass a single piece of important legislation and we did nothing to improve the quality of life for the American people.

[...]

I have been a Republican for as long as I can remember. As far back as fourth grade I remember listening to my father talk about capitalism, individualism, and the pursuit of the dream that makes America different from every other place on Earth. Though I didn’t quite understand why at the time, my father instilled these ideas in me in order to teach me why I should always be proud of my country, the only country willing to take my family in after the terrible atrocities we faced in the Holocaust. My father has always been a Republican, and in many ways I inherited my beliefs from him.

But the party my father raised me in was never a party of absolutes: our party was one of progress, one of thought, and most of all one that believed that compromise was a trait to be honored, not despised. My father’s party, and the one I have claimed to be a part of for years, was never ashamed to work with others to do what was right, and what would move the American people forward.

Every day I have conversations with liberal friends who have vastly different beliefs than I do about the ideal way to solve the problems our great country faces. We talk about welfare and government dependence; we talk about taxes and shared sacrifice; we talk about immigration and national security; yet never once has any of my countless conversations with friends resulted in anything but an honest, open conversation about ways we can put aside our ideological differences to find a middle ground — one on which we can move forward for the benefit of all.

But in the end we always realize that our grand conversations, our amazing ideas of compromise and political altruism are all for naught. With both parties as they are now, none of our grand ideas have any chance of becoming a political reality. In a world where simply working with the other side is seen as a political liability, how can we hope to move forward as a generation?

He talks about the need for moderation, understanding and compromise…which is far from the rest of the articles and commentary out there after Romney lost the election.
As a life-long Republican, and after enduring two straight embarrassing losses, I can no longer sit by and wait for things to change. The party in which I was raised did not dictate to others how they must set policies on immigration, marriage, and abortion; the party in which I was raised thought sensibly about how to work with the other side and compromise, achieving at least in part the goals of all for the sake of the nation. As a dear friend and fellow moderate Republican recently said in an argument I have become far too familiar with, “Disagreement is not a threat to your own views.” In fact, disagreement is what can propel us forward, what can drive us to discover what policies can truly change our society for the better.

If our party is to truly change, as it is now clear it must, our focus needs to change as well. No longer can we count on a conservative, Evangelical base to provide the necessary votes to sweep a candidate into office. The party must abandon its hardline positions on abortion, immigration, gay marriage, and many other issues — many of which alienate those who are supposed to make up the future of our movement. Perhaps none said it better than moderate Republican Representative Cory Gardner of Colorado: “After tonight, the GOP had better figure out that a big tent sounds good but if there aren’t any seats in it, what good is it?” We must learn to embrace the fact that no matter our disagreements, those on the other side of any issue are not our opponents — they are our friends. No matter the difference, no matter the issue, we can and have to work together.

The United States has always moved forward on the premise that we can do better; I know now that we can, and I hope that together, we will.

Hey, that kind of talk will get you run out on a rail in the Fox News world, but I do think the possibilities of a “better tomorrow, tomorrow” are a reasonable hope some of us can have. Even if it is only a pipe dream.

More on the dinosaur party and it’s fanatics:

It’s Rove’s Fault! Bush’s Brain Is in the GOP Crosshairs

Why Does the GOP Keep Generating Extremists?

Jon Stewart: There Was an Avalanche on Fox News’ Bullsh*# Mountain on Election Night

The last days of Romneyland

Dumb Money, Mission Accomplished

California to reform a law on Tuesday, one I think is very good. California Voters Scrap Draconian “Three Strikes” Law

After nearly 20 years and over $20 billion spent, California voters have voted overwhelmingly to reform our state’s draconian “three strikes” law. The statewide ballot measure,  Proposition 36 , delivered a two-to-one mandate (68.6%-31.4%) to close a controversial loophole in the law so that life sentences can only be imposed when the new felony conviction is “serious or violent.”

Three strikes laws, often known as habitual offender laws, grew out of the “tough on crime” era of the 1980s and 90s. Between 1993 and 1995, 24 states passed some kind of three strikes law, but California’s 1994 three strikes ballot measure was especially harsh.

While the 1994  law required the first and second strike to be either violent or serious, any infraction could trigger a third strike and the life sentence that went with it. Therefore, petty offenses – such as stealing a piece of pizza – have led to life imprisonment for thousands of people.

Read more at the link, the best thing is that people who have been given life for petty crimes are able to request a lesser sentence, that is very fair in my opinion and in the end will help with prison overcrowding. So this should be good for many all around.

Many New York hospitals are still without power: New York’s Ongoing Blackout: Hospitals in Lower Manhattan

And there is new documents released in connection with HARP: Read the Documents Treasury Has Been Keeping Secret

This next post from the Grio made me smile…Sasha Obama’s Election Night advice to president caught on tape: ‘Behind you!’

President Barack Obama walks on stage with daughter Sasha to deliver his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)President Barack Obama walks on stage with daughter Sasha to deliver his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It was a quick but instantly memorable moment on Election Night.

When President Barack Obama and the first family greeted an enormous crowd of supporters after being re-elected, his 11-year-old daughter Sasha got his famous enlarged ear and said “Behind you!”

The president quickly turned and acknowledged a big group of supporters he had previously ignored and waved to them, eliciting big cheers.

On a historical note, check out this abstract from Medieval.net: Of Kings and Popes and Law

Abstract: During the latter half of the 11th century through to the end of the 13th century, Europe was experiencing what is considered by some historians as “the” medieval renaissance, otherwise referred to as the European Renaissance of the Twelfth Century. The time appears to have been ripe for an explosion of cultural and intellectual advancement and change. Two fields that experienced significant development during that period were law and governance, both secular and ecclesiastical.

In England, the period which most legal historians consider to be the key formative years of the common law was the reign of King Henry II. Indeed, Sir William Holdsworth credits Henry II for “substituting one common law for that confused mass of local customs of which the law of England had formerly consisted”. But as R.H. Helmholz said, “legal history, like any other, is a history of winners, and the history of the losing side is often overlooked. That we only hint of the history of the canon law by reference to the common law is a fact of life and not to be lamented”. However, he admonishes us not to ignore the intrinsic importance of the jurisdiction once exercised by the courts of the Church in the development of the law of England.

I take up Helmholz’ challenge in this thesis and examine the relationship that developed between the English royal authorities and the Latin (Western) Christian Church from the beginning of the reign of Edward the Confessor to the end of the reign of King John. Through a review of cases reported by the Selden Society from the royal courts of Henry II, Richard I and John, I then focus my research on the 62 year period between the beginning of the reign of Henry II and the death of John, and consider the influence of the Church and State relationship on the structure and processes of the developing English royal law and its scope.

Click here to read this thesis from the University of Victoria

Henry Plantagenet has always fascinated me…maybe it was my interest in his wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine that caused me to admire Henry, but there it is.

And finally, that other dinosaur: New Dinosaur Xenoceratops Discovered In Canada

Everybody, meet Xenoceratops foremostensis, a brand new species of ceratopsid, or horned dinosaur, discovered in the plentiful fossil beds of Canada. Weighing in at 2 tons and about 20 feet long, Xenoceratops — meaning “alien-horned face” — lived about 80 million years ago, making it one of the oldest big-bodied horned dinosaurs known to paleontologists.

Though it has only recently been identified as a separate species, xenoceratops was identified from fossils discovered in 1958, only to be misidentified for several decades before taking its rightful place as a separate species.

Well, that is all I have time for, catch ya later in the comments!

This is an open thread.


The Remarkable Revisionism Of Maureen Dowd

I stopped reading Maureen Dowd’s columns after the 2008 election season.  Dowd’s attacks on Hillary Clinton, her drift into pseudo-literary allusions and her love affair with all things Barack Obama was too much to bear.

Life is short, I reasoned.   So little time, so much to read. Why waste precious moments on mind-numbing crapola?

But yesterday morning, I found a deadly twofer in the Op-Ed section of the NYT.  Thomas Freidman [a man I rarely agree with], waxed eloquent on the future of capitalism, now that the shine on globalization has dulled.  Not to be outdone, Dowd led with the Tea Party’s warrior cry: ‘Don’t Tread On Us.’   Her tagline?

For the Republican uncivil war on women, we’ll need a take-no-prisoners Democratic general.

We’ll need?   As in Maureen Dowd and moi?  As in gender solidarity within the Democratic Party now has meaning?

Oh yes, I’m well aware of the Republican assault on all things female, particularly our sexual parts, our inability to make right-minded decisions when it comes to reproduction or contraception. Women are obviously so clueless it’s a wonder we can tie our shoes. Just to be sure we understand what pregnancy is, what it truly means, women in a number of states will be required to have an ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy, otherwise known as a legal abortion.  The forward-thinking Great State of Arizona has suggested legislation where an employer can fire you for using birth control.  Amazing!

I’m waiting for someone to suggest arranged marriages.  Or foot binding.

That being said, Dowd piqued my curiosity, seduced me to break my no-read vow. I was fascinated with her head-spinning reversal:

Hillary Clinton has fought for women’s rights around the world. But who would have dreamed that she would have to fight for them at home?

And then goes on to say:

. . . Republicans could drive women into Democratic arms. . . .And whose arms would be more welcoming to the sisters than Hillary’s?

This is too rich.  Hillary Clinton has spent her entire professional life fighting for the rights of women and girls, here and abroad.  But in 2008, none of that mattered.  Shortly before the New Hampshire primary, Hillary Clinton spoke to supporters.  Her eyes welled up.  Maureen Dowd’s reaction?  In her Op-ed entitled, ‘Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back To the Whitehouse?’ she wrote:

But there was a whiff of Nixonian self-pity about her choking up. What was moving her so deeply was her recognition that the country was failing to grasp how much it needs her. In a weirdly narcissistic way, she was crying for us. But it was grimly typical of her that what finally made her break down was the prospect of losing.

And to further skewer:

She became emotional because she feared that she had reached her political midnight, when she would suddenly revert to the school girl with geeky glasses and frizzy hair, smart but not the favorite. All those years in the shadow of one Natural, only to face the prospect of being eclipsed by another Natural?

Yup, that’s what I call a strong dose of sisterly love!  A sharp knife right between the ribs.  Get the angle right, there’s barely any blood.  And the campaign against Hillary was death by a thousand tiny cuts.

But Dowd was not a one-trick pony.  She kept it up.  In the piece ‘Wilting Over Waffles’:

Now that Hillary has won Pennsylvania, it will take a village to help Obama escape from the suffocating embrace of his rival. Certainly Howard Dean will be of no use steering her to the exit. It’s like Micronesia telling Russia to denuke.

“You know, some people counted me out and said to drop out,” said a glowing Hillary at her Philadelphia victory party, with Bill and Chelsea by her side. “Well, the American people don’t quit. And they deserve a president who doesn’t quit, either.”

The Democrats are growing ever more desperate about the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

Another warm and fuzzy descriptive: Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.  What’s not to love?

Dowd whipped it right to the finish line.  In a piece entitled: ‘Yes, She Can’:

Hillary’s orchestrating a play within the play in Denver. Just as Hamlet used the device to show that his stepfather murdered his father, Hillary will try to show the Democrats they chose the wrong savior.

And:

Obama also allowed Hillary supporters to insert an absurd statement into the platform suggesting that media sexism spurred her loss and that “demeaning portrayals of women … dampen the dreams of our daughters.” This, even though postmortems, including the new raft of campaign memos leaked by Clintonistas to The Atlantic — another move that undercuts Obama — finger Hillary’s horrendous management skills.

Besides the crashing egos and screeching factions working at cross purposes, Joshua Green writes in the magazine, Hillary’s “hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.”

It would have been better to put this language in the platform: “A woman who wildly mismanages and bankrupts a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar campaign operation, and then blames sexism in society, will dampen the dreams of our daughters.”

Dampen the dreams of our daughters???

I’d like to dampen Maureen Dowd’s head, a few dunks in the toilet.  But to be fair, Maureen Dowd is not the only one revising past barbs and now hyping the Hillary Clinton train for 2016.  I’m hearing the pundit echo machine repeat the refrain that Hillary has reached a pinnacle of respect, equal to . . . Al Gore and John Kerry.

Really?

Hillary Clinton reached that pinnacle long before these born-again cheerleaders took note.  Despite the minimizing of her accomplishments–the 80+ countries she visited as First Lady, her participation in Vital Voices during the peace agreement sought in Ireland and her remarkable speech in Beijing—there were many of us who recognized Hillary Clinton as one of the most talented and dedicated political figures of her generation.

The question is . . . why now?  Why the sudden gush of Hillary love after years of pot shots?

Well, riddle me this: who desperately needs the women’s vote in 2012?  Sure, the Republicans have gone out of their way to play the Grand Inquisitor of the 21st century, but until recently President Obama specifically and Democrats in general were watching the female vote slip into tight-lipped resentment.  But then, who can draw genuine excitement in the female electorate [leaving the dwindling Palinistas out of the equation for the moment]?

None other than Hill, who has been voted as the most admired woman for the last 16 years.  With good reason.

Hillary Clinton has stated her role as Secretary of State is likely to be her last public position. I’ve resigned myself to that fact though I’d be thrilled if she were to run again.  But the possibility of a future Clinton candidacy has not cast mass amnesia, erased what we witnessed and heard–the flurry of demeaning articles, suggestions that Hillary was ‘pimping’ Chelsea on the campaign trail, that someone should drag Hillary into a broom closet where only the aggressor comes out, that her nagging voice was like everyone’s ex-wife, etc., etc., etc.

Or this:

If Maureen Dowd and her colleagues have had a genuine change of heart about Hillary Clinton’s extraordinary career, her achievements and leadership qualities, I’m glad for that.  But you’ll have to forgive me.  I’m more than a little suspicious of rah-rah revisionism when the ‘Change We Can Believe In’ mantra has grown old and stale.

You’re not fooling anyone, Ms. Dowd. We have not forgotten.