Lazy Saturday Reads

Marilyn reading

Good Afternoon!!

There was another suspicious death of an African American in police custody–and this time it’s a woman named Sandra Bland.

“What Happened to Sandy?”

The Guardian: ‘What happened to Sandy?’: protesters tie Sandra Bland case to US race tensions.

Demonstrators in Texas on Friday staged a protest outside the county jail where a black woman was found hanged in her cell, three days after she was arrested following an altercation stemming from a stop for a minor traffic infraction.

About 150 people gathered at the Waller county jail, at a building that also houses the sheriff’s office, then marched the half-mile distance to the courthouse in the small town of Hempstead, near Houston.

Some carried posters asking: “What happened to Sandy?” The official account is that Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old from Chicago who had just moved to Texas to take up a college job, asphyxiated herself in her cell on Monday morning using a plastic bag.

But her family called that conclusion “unfathomable” in a news conference in Chicago on Thursday. And it was not a version of events that protesters found credible, especially in the context of recent high-profile examples of African Americans being killed by law enforcement nationwide. And not in Waller County, which has a long history of racial tension.

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Sandy was stopped for failing to signal before a lane change. What was she doing in jail three days later?

Bland drove down from Chicago last Thursday, arriving in Waller County on Friday for a job interview at the university, her alma mater. She dropped off her bags at his house. Her elation at being offered the post turned to anger, he said, after she was pulled over by police in what turned into a confrontation that saw her being pushed to the ground and charged with assault of a public servant.

They spoke on the phone on Friday night at 10.25pm, Mosley said. Bland said she was slammed to the ground during the incident.

She reportedly posted a video on Facebook in March in which she described herself as battling depression, but Mosley said that was not a reliable indicator of her mindset when she arrived in Texas. Nothing in her personality or behaviour suggested she would take her own life, and she had not been clinically diagnosed as depressed, he said.

“I talked to her on Friday night. She was upbeat, looking forward to posting bond and moving forward,” he said. “This is a girl who had a thirst for life … she did not exhibit any suicidal characteristics.”

More from Sandra’s friend at ABC News.

candle-2009071485706-45780-originalFrom DallasNews.com crime blog: DPS: Violations of agency procedures found in Sandra Bland traffic stop.

AUSTIN – The state Department of Public Safety has found violations in the agency’s “procedures regarding traffic stops and the department’s courtesy policy” in the recent stop that resulted in the arrest of Sandra Bland in Waller County.

The department on Friday announced those preliminary findings, saying the trooper involved in the stop has been “assigned administrative duties” until the investigation is complete. The trooper was identified by the Houston Chronicle as 30-year-old Brian Encinia.

Bland, a 28-year old black woman, was found dead Monday in the Waller County Jail from an apparent suicide. She had been arrested last Friday — as a result of the traffic stop — on a charge of assault on a public servant….

The agency said Friday that the video footage will be “shared with the public as soon as possible.” DPS and the Waller County District Attorney have also asked the FBI to conduct a “forensic analysis of the videos” related to the Bland case.

Mother Jones reports: The Texas County Where Sandra Bland Died Is Fraught With Racial Tensions.

Whether or not it was suicide, Bland’s death comes amid an ongoing national conversation about race and criminal justice in America, and casts a spotlight on a county apparently rife with racial tensions. In 2007, Waller County Sheriff R. Glenn Smith was suspended—and eventually fired by city council members—while serving as police chief in Hempstead, a city in Waller County, following accusations of racism by community members. Less than a year after his firing, Smith was elected county sheriff. When asked about the accusations on Thursday, Smith said his firing in 2007 was “political,” and denied that he was a racist.

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The history of Waller County’s racial tensions doesn’t end there. In 2003, the Houston Chronicle reported that two prominent black county officials, DeWayne Charleston and Keith Woods, claimed they were the target of an investigation by the county’s chief prosecutor because of their race. Charleston had been accused of keeping erratic hours and falsifying an employee time-sheet record, according to the Houston Chronicle. Charleston and Woods claimed the Concerned Citizens of Waller County was behind those accusations, and said that the group was conducting a Ku Klux Klan-like campaign against black officials:

Charleston, the county’s first black judge, said a county grand jury has interviewed him, although he declined to elaborate. And Woods, the four-term mayor of Brookshire, is facing questions about his role in the last city election.

“I do believe race plays a big part in what DeWayne and I are facing,” Woods said. “I feel that way because we’re the ones obviously not being given the benefit of the doubt (when) we face contrary decisions by the district attorney.”

Kitzman, 69, a retired state district judge, denies any racist implications in his interest in the two men. He says he’s simply doing his job by looking into complaints brought to him by residents.

Houston Chronicle reporter Leah Binkovitz also pointed out that a disproportionately high number of lynchings have been recorded in Waller County. According to the advocacy group Equal Justice Initiative, the county saw 15 lynchings of African Americans between 1877 and 1950.

News for Fat-Shamers

Here’s some food for thought for all the fat-shamers out there–if they can find time to think about anything other than judging other people’s bodies.

marilyn-monroe-mit-zeitungCBS News: Obese people almost never attain normal weight, study finds.

Weight loss can be a battle for everyone. But a large new study says that for obese people, the odds of reaching normal weight are near impossible.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, shows the odds of a clinically obese person achieving normal weight without surgical interventions are just 1 in 210 for men and 1 in 124 for women in a given year. Among the most morbidly obese, the chances were even worse.

People in the study were somewhat more successful at managing enough weight loss to improve their health, defined as dropping at least 5 percent of body weight. But they often did not maintain the lower weight.

“What our findings suggest is that current strategies used to tackle obesity are not helping the majority of obese patients to lose weight and maintain that weight loss,” lead researcher Alison Fildes, a research psychologist at University College London, told HealthDay.

The study was based on analysis of more than 278,000 people from the UK’s Clinical Practice Research database, tracked between 2004 and 2014, and it highlights the difficulty obese people face in trying to achieve sustained weight loss through diet and exercise alone.

Much more on the study at the link.

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And from The Washington Post: One chart shows why it’s nearly impossible to lose weight and keep it off.

In a given year, the average obese woman has roughly a 1 in 124 chance of returning to a normal weight. And for obese men, the odds are even worse: 1 in 210. As if that weren’t bad enough, obese men and women have very low odds attaining even a 5 percent weight loss in a given year: 1 in 10 for women, and 1 in 12 for men.

Those are the main findings of a new study out today in the American Journal of Public Health, which analyzed electronic health records of over 278,000 people living in England over a nine-year period. “For patients with a BMI of 30 or greater kilograms per meters squared, maintaining weight loss was rare and the probability of achieving normal weight was extremely low,” the study’s authors conclude. “Research to develop new and more effective approaches to obesity management is urgently required.”

Among the people who lost five percent of their weight or more, more than half had gained it back within two years’ time. In a statement, Professor Martin Gulliford, a study author from King’s College London, said: “Current strategies to tackle obesity, which mainly focus on cutting calories and boosting physical activity, are failing to help the majority of obese patients to shed weight and maintain that weight loss.”

Maybe fat people should be forced to eat bacon flavored seaweed as punishment.

Marilyn reading1The Christian Science Monitor: Bacon-flavored seaweed: Better than kale? (+video).

In a bizarre marriage of the best of both food worlds, a team of scientists at Oregon State University have developed a new strain of dulse, an edible seaweed with twice the nutritional value of kale – and an arguably more palatable bacon-like flavor.

The newly developed strain resembles translucent red lettuce and is chock full of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and protein, researchers say.

Dulse, which rhymes with pulse, has been consumed in powder and flake form for centuries in Northern Europe, where it’s added to smoothies or other foods by health-conscious people. But the new strain developed at OSU can be farmed and eaten fresh.

I think I’ll stick with real bacon when I want bacon-flavored food, thank you very much.

Mystery Ship Found

The Washington Post reports on an interesting find off the coast of North Carolina: The mysterious, pre-Civil War shipwreck just discovered off the North Carolina coast.

The Marine scientists didn’t set out to find a shipwreck. But when they deployed their underwater equipment off the North Carolina coast, there it was, lying nearly a mile beneath the surface: a ship carrying an iron chain, red bricks and glass bottles.

Those artifacts suggest the ship could date to the Revolutionary War or the early 19th century. The team of Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of Oregon scientists announced their discovery Friday.

Scientists found the wreck using sonar. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will now try to identify the mysterious ship, including how old it is and its country of origin.

marilyn reading2

“Lying more than a mile down in near-freezing temperatures, the site is undisturbed and well preserved,” Bruce Terrell, chief archaeologist of NOAA’s Marine Heritage Program, said in a statement. “Careful archaeological study in the future could definitely tell us more.”

The wreck was found near the Gulf Stream, which was used as a popular trade route to ports in North America, the Caribbean and South America. “Violent storms sent down large numbers of vessels off the Carolina coasts, but few have been located because of the difficulties of depth and working in an offshore environment,” Marine Heritage Program director James Delgado said in a statement.

Other News, Links Only

Voice of America: Frozen Plains Glimpsed on Pluto.

Democracy Now: Newly Released Dashcam Video Shows California Police Shooting Unarmed Man with Hands Up.

New York Times: Listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates While White (WARNING: may make you gag).

Charles Pierce: Here’s Some Stupid for Lunch: David Brooks’ American Dream.

American Psychological Association report on psychologists who helped the CIA torture people.

New York Times: Chattanooga Attacks Claim a Fifth Service Person’s Life.

Newsweek: KKK, Black Panther Groups to Hold Opposing Confederate Flag Rallies.

Naomi Klein at The New Yorker: A Radical Vatican?

Huffington Post: A Note About Our Coverage of Donald Trump’s ‘Campaign.’

Boston Globe on Massachusetts cold cases: Baby Doe is not alone.

A real shocker from the Washington Post: This man filmed a fatal car crash instead of helping. Then, Ohio police arrested him.

 


Friday Nite Lite: Duck, Duck…How Luckovich Draws a Duck?

Good evening

Y’all know my appreciation for Mike Luckovich, the cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. I thought this was neat as all get out….check this:

Mike Luckovich draws the news  Lame duck    www.myajc.com

 

 

That is the link to the article, but since it is behind a paywall…the link to the video can be found here:

http://www.myajc.com/videos/news/mike-luckovich-draws-the-news-lame-duck/vDXRSj/

Why do I want to see The Shining for some reason…must me the eyebrow thing….

 

 

Luckovich, kicking ass as usual.

 

Alright, now the other cartoons.

 

Sounds like a solution to me…loves me some SLJ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally,

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Just put this here if anyone wants to support Planned Parenthood.

By the way, have you all seen these?

Photos: Amy Schumer’s Sexy Star Wars-Themed GQ Shoot | GQ

Have a good evening…This is obviously an open thread.

 


Friday Reads

Republicans be like
It’s Friday!

I’ve found a few things that make for interesting reading so let’s get started.

Why have Democratic Governors and Republican Mayors become rare?  This is a great article describing which party seems to have a lock on what levels of state, local and national politics.  It’s hard to imagine any one wanting to live in a state with a Republican governor given the miserable economic and civil rights performance of states that have them.  Here’s the explanation for this particular office.  Is one of the few offices where it’s not the economy that matters?  Like many elections, it’s a matter of who tends to turn out when the election occurs.

Historically, gubernatorial elections have tended to be up for grabs between the parties. Statewide electorates are sufficiently eclectic to encourage candidates in both parties to run toward the center, expanding their bases. But the pattern of results is changing, and for an unexpected reason.

For obscure reasons, 36 states hold their gubernatorial contests during midterm cycles. This hasn’t seemed to matter much in the past. But in recent elections, the types of voters who cast ballots in midterm elections has diverged significantly from those that do in presidential cycles. Midterm electorates tend to be smaller, whiter, older and more Republican; presidential electorates tend to be larger, more demographically diverse, and more Democratic.

This pattern helped Republican gubernatorial candidates in 2010. That year, the GOP won governorships in such bluish states as Maine, Michigan, New Mexico and Wisconsin. But it proved to be an even bigger help in 2014, another GOP wave year. On the eve of the 2014 election, Governing’s final handicapping of the gubernatorial seats included an unusually large field of 12 tossup races. In a neutral environment, one would expect these races to go roughly half to one party and half to the other. Instead, Republican candidates won eight of those 12 races, plus another contest in Maryland that had been rated lean Democratic. Highly vulnerable Republican incumbents, such as Sam Brownback in Kansas, Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Rick Scott in Florida and Paul LePage in Maine, also won new terms, buoyed by the GOP-friendly electorate.

Currently, the breakdown of the gubernatorial ranks is 31 Republicans, 18 Democrats and one independent. Historically, the number of Republican governors has only been that high on rare occasions, so it’s likely that the GOP number will fall somewhat in the coming years, especially after the 2018 election, when a number of two-term Republican governors will be term-limited out, creating competitive open seats. Still, on balance, it’s going to be a tough challenge for Democrats to take back governorships when so many of them are contested during midterm election cycles.

I’m just going to let the headline speak for itself in this analysis piece by Hillary’s Communication’s Director Jennifer Palmieri,  “Hillary Clinton’s No Good, (Record-Breaking, Poll-Winning), Very Bad Week.”HIllary

If you believe the mood and headlines from some of the press, it’s been a pretty rough week for Hillary Clinton. While there was widespread and substantive coverage of the rollout of her economic agenda, politically, it’s a different story. One poll showed so much trouble for Hillary that she only had a higher favorability number than any other candidate it tested.

Even worse, multiple polls released this week show that she leads every candidate running in head-to-head matchups. While it is widely known that the growing Hispanic electorate is critical in deciding the election, new polling shows that Hillary Clinton has a disastrous 68 percent approval rating among Hispanic voters and only leads her closest Republican competition (Bush) by 37 points, 64% to 27%.

Not only that, she raised a record amount of primary money for a candidate in their first quarter, with only $8 million (a sum larger than most Republican campaigns raised in total) in donations of less than $200. Hillary also spent too much money building her organization and was only left with more cash on hand than any other campaign raised and more in the bank than the top three Republican campaigns combined.

It’s true. Hillary is left in the terrible position of having the most resources of any candidate and being voters’ top choice to be the next President of the United States.

So, now for the news from the crazy side of the politic spectrum.  You know that highly doctored video on Planned Parenthood that every low iq Republican christofascist has fallen for?  Well, Republicans are going to make hay with it despite the fact that nearly no legitimate media outlet has even gone near it because it’s so obviously stupid.  Republicans are after Planned Parenthood again and will be pushing more–if possible–stupid laws meant to meant to ensure our constitutionally protected right to an abortion is next to impossible to act on. Nullification any one?

Republicans on Capitol Hill are betting the secretly filmed Planned Parenthood video — depicting an executive allegedly discussing the sale of fetal organs from terminated pregnancies — will give them cover to more aggressively push abortion issues without the political ramifications that have haunted the party in the past.

In recent years, Republicans have worked to soften their tone when it comes to contentious issues such as abortion, wanting to avoid a repeat of gaffes like Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments that have turned off many female voters.

ut now, the GOP is going hard on abortion politics — and Planned Parenthood specifically — following the release of the video depicting a top official for the group casually talking about doctors collecting fetal organs for biomedical companies during abortions.

“The gravity of the situation most definitely” changes things, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told POLITICO Thursday. “This is not just Republicans. It’s independents. It’s Democrats…. Americans don’t want their tax dollars spent doing what they’re doing.”

McCarthy is already talking about defunding the organization through the appropriations process. And in the Senate, GOP leaders who have been eyeing a vote on legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks of gestation say this will give them momentum to clear the bill later this session.

“I think it really probably enhances the prospects of something like that passing right now,” South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the third-ranking Senate Republican, said Thursday. “I think that’s such an egregious, awful, horrible example out there, which I think just elevates the importance of addressing it. So I think it probably helps the bill.”

Planned Parenthood says the video is a misconstrued smear campaign using “heavily edited videos to make outrageous claims about programs that help women donate fetal tissue for medical research.”

Of course, the drive for all of this usually comes from the same people that poor shame while ensuring no one makes a living wage.  Here’s an article on How the American South Drive the Low Wage Economy from American Prospect’s Harold Meyerson.

The American South before the Civil War was the low-wage—actually, the no-wage—anchor of the first global production chain.

Today, as the auto and aerospace manufacturers of Europe and East Asia open low-wage assembly plants in Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi, the South has assumed a comparable role once more. Indeed, the South today shares more features with its antebellum ancestor than it has in a very long time. Now as then, white Southern elites and their powerful allies among non-Southern business interests seek to expand to the rest of the nation the South’s subjugation of workers and its suppression of the voting rights of those who might oppose their policies. In fact, now more than then, the South’s efforts to spread its values across America are advancing, as Northern Republicans adopt their Southern counterparts’ antipathy to unions and support for voter suppression, and as workers’ earnings in the North fall toward Southern levels. And now as then, a sectional backlash against Southern norms has emerged that, when combined with the Southern surge, is again creating two nations within one.

Bill Clinton and CharlotteSo, here’s a cute break and a picture of Baby Charlotte and her Grandad!! There are more at this like from the UK’s Daily Mail.

Bill Clinton was spotted spending some quality time with his granddaughter Charlotte on Thursday morning.

The pair were photographed in New York City’s Madison Square Park as the former president took the infant to see a kids concert.

This is not the first time Clinton has been on babysitting duty either, saying last week that he and wife Hillary were recently in charge of the tiny tyke for her parents.

President Obama continues to be on a roll that cements his legacy.  Alaska’s Governor announced his will be the 30th state to take the Medicaid Expansion offered through the ACA.  

Gov. Bill Walker said Thursday he would use his executive power to expand the public Medicaid health-care program to newly cover as many as 40,000 low-income residents.

The decision comes after the Alaska Legislature earlier this year rejected Walker’s efforts to expand the program through the state budget process, then adjourned without allowing a vote on a separate expansion bill.

Republicans seem to be okay with living breathing people dying, starving, and living lives with no future.  Zygotes get preferential treatment while they assign folks to living hells.

Here is a good list from Robert Reich on The Three Biggest Lies republican tell about poverty.

Lie #2: Jobs reduce poverty.

Senator Marco Rubio said poverty is best addressed not by raising the minimum wage or giving the poor more assistance but with “reforms that encourage and reward work.”

This has been the standard Republican line ever since Ronald Reagan declared that the best social program is a job. A number of Democrats have adopted it as well. But it’s wrong.

Surely it’s better to be poor and working than to be poor and unemployed. Evidence suggests jobs are crucial not only to economic well-being but also to self-esteem. Long-term unemployment can even shorten life expectancy.

But simply having a job is no bulwark against poverty. In fact, across America the ranks of the working poor have been growing. Around one-fourth of all American workers are now in jobs paying below what a full-time, full-year worker needs in order to live above the federally defined poverty line for a family of four.

Why are more people working but still poor? First of all, more jobs pay lousy wages.

While low-paying industries such as retail and fast food accounted for 22 percent of the jobs lost in the Great Recession, they’ve generated 44 percent of the jobs added since then, according to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project.

Second, the real value of the minimum wage continues to drop. This has affected female workers more than men because more women are at the minimum wage.

Third, government assistance now typically requires recipients to be working. This hasn’t meant fewer poor people. It’s just meant more poor people have jobs.

Bill Clinton’s welfare reform of 1996 pushed the poor into jobs, but they’ve been mostly low-wage jobs without ladders into the middle class. The Earned Income Tax Credit, a wage subsidy, has been expanded, but you have to be working in order to qualify.

Work requirements haven’t reduced the number or percent of Americans in poverty. They’ve merely increased the number of working poor – a term that should be an oxymoron.

Meanwhile, the man most responsible for the mess that is Greece is now a Billionaire. All of his wealth has come from Goldman Sachs but not his salary.  However, he has said this about the poor.  Too bad he hasn’t acted on getting laws passed to relieve poverty.

In recent years, Blankfein has spoken about the need for public policies that promote fairer distribution of wealth while not overly crimping its creation.

“I know I’m a big fat cat, plutocrat kind of guy, but I will tell you I’ve been the beneficiary of some of these redistribution policies,” Blankfein told business school students in South Africa in April, noting he grew up in public housing and got need-based scholarships to Harvard. “Sometimes I wish I had amnesia, because there’s lots of things I’d like to forget, but that isn’t one of them.”

President Obama was met with Confederate flags while heading toward an Oklahoma prison for this speech.  The president is taking on mandatory minimums for small drug “crimes”.  The Confederate Flag waving was shameful.  The speech was compelling.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 


Thursday Reads: Pluto and Other News

Twilley-Passing-Pluto-690

Good Morning!!

So Pluto is in the news. I’m really out of the loop. I still have constant itching on my arms, face, neck and upper chest, and this morning there are some raised areas like hives on my arms and on my chest just below the neck. I’m still taking Benedryl every 6 hours and using Calamine lotion frequently, but the itching is always there in the background. It makes it so hard to concentrate on anything! So I’m behind in following current events. The Pluto stuff is fascinating, and I wish I could focus enough to really understand what’s happening.

Pluto and Charon

 Remarkable new details of Pluto’s largest moon Charon are revealed in this image from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), taken late on July 13, 2015, from a distance of 289,000 miles (466,000 kilometers). NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

Remarkable new details of Pluto’s largest moon Charon are revealed in this image from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), taken late on July 13, 2015, from a distance of 289,000 miles (466,000 kilometers).
NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

UPI: NASA releases first historic Pluto flyby images.

Scientists, engineers, astronauts and mission officials all held their breath Tuesday evening as they awaited for NASA’s New Horizons probe to come back online. When it did, at 8:52:37 p.m. EST — just on schedule — everyone let out a big cheer and sigh of relief.

The probe executed its historic flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto, and it was forced to shut down its communication systems to focus on collecting data and imagery as it whizzed by the distant dwarf’s icy surface. New Horizons was silent for more than 22 hours.

Now, the probe is beaming back the rewards of those 22 lonely hours. On Wednesday afternoon, NASA began releasing the photographic exploits of New Horizons’ feat.

A live presentation detailing the first release of images was streamed on NASA TV. Wednesday’s revelations are only the beginning. More images and discoveries will be released Friday — and the days and weeks and months to come. The probe will need 16 months to return all the data collected.

I’ve included some of the photos in this post. See more at NASA’s website.

Bloomberg: Pluto and Charon Shock NASA Scientists With the Unexpected.

Cable news channels have been airing the latest images from Pluto all week. Twitter is filled with #PlutoFlyby musings. Popular brands have photoshopped themselves onto the far-away dwarf planet to get a piece of the action.

And yet, the giddiest and most awestruck observers may be the NASA scientists in charge of the mission.

“I don’t think any one of us could have imagined that it was this kind of a toy store,” said Alan Stern, the mission’s principal investigator. He spoke at a NASA press conference, held at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, where the mission team unveiled new images and the initial insights they provoked.

The New Horizons spacecraft has sent back initial high-resolution photos of the dwarf planet Pluto and its moon Charon. The detail they provide has already transformed scientific understanding of what’s happening on the orb 3 billion miles away.

 New close-up images of a region near Pluto’s equator reveal a giant surprise: a range of youthful mountains. NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

New close-up images of a region near Pluto’s equator reveal a giant surprise: a range of youthful mountains.
NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

What’s so surprising?

For one, Pluto has virtually no craters. Pluto and Charon should be pockmarked, like the Earth’s moon. They sit at the edge of the solar system, near the Kuiper Belt, which is filled with rocks, ices, and other materials left over from the formation of the solar system. By contrast, a smooth surface is one that’s been refreshed, somewhat recently, and perhaps continuously.

And that means that Pluto is a geologically active planet.

There are also 11,000-foot mountains of water-ice, another sign of internal activity. Scientists have seen volcanism on the moons of large gas planets, such as Saturn and Jupiter. That makes more sense. The gravity of a giant planet mashes the little moons from the inside out, which is why Jupiter’s Europa and Io show volcanic activity. Pluto has no giant neighbor. The planet generates heat on its own, and from these first images, the scientists can’t say why—possibly the presence of radioactive elements. It’s Pluto’s first lesson: You can have activity on a planet that has no giant neighbor. That sounds arcane, but to hear these scientists talk about it, you’d have thought someone had given each of them a pony.

Photo from Boing Boing

Photo from Boing Boing

I hope those “experts” who took away Pluto’s planet status are very ashamed of themselves. Read more about Pluto and about Charon’s surprises at the link.

The Economist: Pluto’s icy mountains.

“WE ARE outbound from Pluto.” So said Alice Bowman, mission operations manager for New Horizons, an American space probe, when her charge resumed contact with Earth following its passage by the place on July 14th. After nine and a half years of its being inbound to Pluto, her announcement was met with jubilation. On July 15th the craft sent back the first hints of what it had seen as it whizzed by at 14km a second. Even these preliminary data are filled with mysteries that will take years to unravel.

Pluto is, on first blush, unlike any single world yet seen in the solar system. Instead, it is a composite of many of them—with mountain ranges more than 3km high. These are altitudes that suggest the crust of frozen nitrogen and methane on Pluto’s surface must be supported by ice, which is much stronger.

What is most surprising, as the image shows, is how unmarked by meteorite impacts Pluto is. Some geological process must be refreshing its surface. That requires amounts of heat that no geophysicist would have guessed Pluto had going spare. Far from being a dead, icy world, Pluto has proved itself a very lively one.

The New Yorker: Passing Pluto.

Soon after the New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to Pluto, at 7:49 A.M. on Tuesday—seventy-two seconds ahead of schedule, after a nine-and-a-half-year journey—Bonnie Buratti, one of the mission’s scientists, told me that she had been worried that the dwarf planet “would be a bit bland.” NASA had even booked the magician David Blaine to entertain the crowd that gathered at mission control, at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, in suburban Maryland, just in case the first high-resolution images proved insufficiently wondrous. As it happened, Buratti’s concern was unfounded. Even the New Horizons team, dedicated Plutophiles all, seemed astonished when the images came in. “This is a psychedelic Pluto,” Cathy Olkin, the mission’s deputy project scientist, told me. Kimberly Ennico-Smith, the science team’s co-investigator, tweeted a double exponent: “Wow^Wow^Wow.” Alan Stern, the principal investigator, called the photos “mouthwatering.”

More images have begun streaming in this morning. Even at the speed of light, signals from New Horizons take around four and a half hours to travel the three billion miles back to Earth, and the download rate makes a dial-up modem seem positively zippy. Indeed, although the closest approach took place on Tuesday morning, it wasn’t until that night, at 8:52 P.M., that the team found out that their spacecraft had survived the flyby. There were hugs, high-fives, speeches, standing ovations, and some tears. But the team’s work was far from over. So much information was gathered during the maneuver that it will take sixteen months to return it all to Earth, and longer still to analyze it. Soon, we will have images of Pluto’s surface so detailed that, if they were of Earth, you could pick out the ponds in Manhattan’s Central Park. With those images will come detailed topographical information, composition data, and atmospheric readings. We will find out whether Pluto has visible rings; whether it shares an atmosphere with Charon, its largest moon; whether it has clouds or haze; whether it hosts a deep subsurface ocean or active geology; and much, much more.

Not so long ago, Pluto was little more than a blurry cluster of pixels. When the New Horizons team set out to map the mission’s trajectory, they discovered that no one knew precisely where Pluto was; its orbit takes so long (two hundred and forty-eight Earth years) that humankind had been capable of observing only about a third of it, and the best guesses as to its distance from the sun had a six-thousand-mile margin of error. Glen Fountain, the New Horizons project manager, compared the challenge of hitting the team’s target window to a golfer, standing in New York City, sinking a hole-in-one on a golf course in suburban Los Angeles. “We have managed that so well that even I don’t believe it,” he said.

More fascinating reading at the link.

False color photos of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon.

False color photos of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon (read more below).

CNN: Mind-blowing Pluto has ice mountains and water.

It had been downgraded to a dwarf planet. It looked like a fuzzy blob in our best telescopes. And it was often referred to as just an icy orb. Even scientists working on the first mission to Pluto expected to find an old, pockmarked world.

But Pluto is turning out to be full of surprises.

“I’m completely surprised,” said Alan Stern, principal investigator for NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft.

The first zoomed-in image of Pluto was released on Wednesday, a day after the spacecraft made its closest pass over Pluto, cruising about 7,700 miles over the surface. The probe traveled more than 3.6 billion miles to snap the photo, and scientists think it was well worth the trip.

The new image shows a crisp, clear view of Pluto’s surface, and it’s covered with wide smooth areas, lumpy terrain and mountains. Huge mountains.

“They would stand up respectably against the Rocky Mountains,” said John Spencer, a planetary scientist on the New Horizons mission.

The height of the mountains is important because it’s a clue that there may be water on Pluto. Scientists know that Pluto’s surface is covered with nitrogen ice, methane ice and carbon monoxide ice. But Spencer says, “You can’t make mountains out of that stuff. It’s too soft.”

That leaves H20 — water ice like we have here on Earth.

Wow!

Notes on the false color photo above from Business Insider:

The colors here are not true colors. They’re exaggerated to highlight the differences in Pluto’s and Charon’s surface composition. Also, this is a composite image — Pluto and Charon are much farther apart than they appear in the image.

The psychedelic mix of colors tells scientists that both Pluto and Charon have complex surfaces and its got them excited about the even more-detailed surface data yet to be downloaded from the New Horizons craft.

“These images show that Pluto and Charon are truly complex worlds,” Will Grundy, New Horizons co-investigator said in a NASA release. “There’s a whole lot going on here.”

The image was captured on July 13 using the color filters on New Horizon’s Ralph instrument. Color maps like these will help scientists figure out the molecular make up of the ice on Pluto and Charon and how old some of their surface features (like craters) are.

The image reveals that Pluto’s “heart” doesn’t have a uniform composition. The left lobe is a light peach color, while the right lobe is more bluish. They don’t know, for sure, what those colors mean, but additional data will likely shed some light on those mysteries.

Scientists think the deep red color around Charon’s north pole could means the surface there is full of hydrocarbons.

Finally, from the Guardian, a backgrounder on the Pluto project: Pluto New Horizons mission: what happens next?

Other News, Links Only

Jamelle Bouie at Slate: Two Americas. Hillary Clinton and Scott Walker have utterly different visions for our future.

The Guardian on nervous Texans: ‘Absolutely nothing’ but usual quiet in Texas hub on first day of Jade Helm 15.

KFOR.com: “We don’t believe it’s a symbol of racism,” Confederate flags fly downtown as President drives in.

Vox: The Planned Parenthood controversy over aborted fetus body parts, explained.

People: Child Molester Charged with Murder in 1975 Disappearance of Two Sisters.

Boston Globe: A history of Donald Trump thinking he knows better than Boston, Including when he thought buying the Patriots was a bad financial investment.

Boston Globe: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh will “absolutely not” apologize to Donald Trump.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and enjoy your Thursday!


Wednesday Reads: Stolen Head, Captured Cow and Rufus T. Lightning Bug?

Nosferatu-Original-PosterGood Morning

Only a few real news stories for you this morning, simply because I’ve no idea what is going on out there…

Let’s just start this off with a strange story out of Germany…and it does not involve Greece.

Silent film legend F.W. Murnau’s head has been stolen · Newswire · The A.V. Club

Friedrich Plumpe, known professionally as F.W. Murnau, was one of the great artists of the late silent era, producing a string of masterpieces in Germany and America—most famously Nosferatu, The Last Laugh, and Sunrise—before his untimely death in 1931, at age 42. Murnau’s death occurred under murky circumstances—his Rolls Royce was being driven by a 14-year-old boy when it slammed into a light pole outside of Santa Barbara—leading to decades of speculation and rumor.

Today, the story of Murnau’s death gets a little bit weirder: Der Spiegel is reporting that someone has broken into the Plumpe family crypt outside Berlin and stolen the director’s head.

murnauIt is unknown how or when the perpetrators gained access to the tomb, though, notably, the coffins of the director’s brothers Robert and Bernhard were not disturbed. The Plumpe crypt is located in Südwestkirchhof Stahnsdorf, a large woodland cemetery known for its mausolea and dense forestation. According to local police, the break-in was first noticed on Monday morning.

This is not the first time that someone has broken into the crypt, and, at present, the cemetery’s administrators are weighing whether to permanently seal the tomb or to bury the director’s body separately from the rest of his family to prevent further vandalism. Police have reportedly found wax drippings at the scene, suggesting either a ritualistic element, or that Murnau’s head was stolen by old-timey grave robbers by candlelight.

About his death: GarboForever – The Death Mask of F.W. Murnau

Murnau-1

Murnau’s Death Mask
In 1931, seven days before the premiere of his film Tabu, he allowed a fourteen year-old Filipino boy named Garcia Stevenson to ride his limo. And for some absolutely bizarre reason, he let the boy drive the Packard vehicle beside him.

Stevenson, driving too fast and swerving to avoid a truck, eventually crashed against an electric pole, killing the legendary film director. Garcia was not hurt, nor the other person in the car, but Murnau’s head was cracked open on a roadside pole and he died at hospital shortly afterwards. He was 42 years old.


Garbo and the Death Mask (photomontage)

While the scandalous rumors surrounding Murnau’s death resulted in the appearance of only a handful of mourners at his funeral, Garbo showed up during the interment. Garbo also commissioned a death mask of him, which she kept on her desk during her years in Hollywood (not for her whole life, as many may think). Decades later, Garbo gave the Mask to Murnau’s family.

Murnau was later entombed on Southwest Cemetery (Südwest-Kirchhof Stahnsdorf) in Stahnsdorf near Berlin.

[…]

Today, the Death Mask belongs to the Filmmuseum in Berlin/Germany.

sjff_02_img0783‘Nosferatu’ Director F.W. Murnau’s Head Reportedly Stolen From Grave | Variety

In a story reminiscent of one of his own movies, grave robbers opened a metal coffin to access the filmmaker’s embalmed body, said the newspaper. Stahnsdorf is about 12 miles southwest of central Berlin. The nearby graves of his two brothers were not disturbed. Spiegel Online said some wax residue had been found near the grave, pointing to a possible occult connection.

Occult or grave robbing by candlelight…the thing is freaky.

FW Murnau Last LaughFor some background and links on FW Murnau films, look here:

FW Murnau | Film | The Guardian

TSPDT – F.W. Murnau (via the website: They Shoot Pictures Don’t They…)

“He made 17 films in Germany, and a final four in America. Of these, only 12 survive. They form a body of work as startling, and as compelling, as any in cinema. Murnau is hard to pin down. His work has no unifying theme; what runs through it all is an attitude to the image on the screen and to what it can express. There is a sense of life in the whole of every frame.” –The Illustrated Who’s Who of Cinema, 1983

047-sunrise-theredlistObama to hold news conference on Wednesday: White House

President Barack Obama will hold a news conference on Wednesday to answer questions about the nuclear agreement the United States and other world powers recently reached with Iran.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Air Force One that the news conference would take place in the East Room of the White House at 1 p.m. (1700 GMT) before Obama leaves for a scheduled trip to Oklahoma.

I guess we will see more about this later today.

High global political stakes require Iran deal to succeed | MSNBC

He has to earn his Nobel Peace Prize every day

Tabu_R-1978I’m not sure if Obama will ever earn his premature Nobel — blame drones — but thanks to this Iran deal he’s closer than he’s ever been

Hillary Clinton: Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch | World news | The Guardian

Main contender for Democratic presidential nomination welcomes deal on Tehran’s atomic programme but warns of ‘swift consequences’ if breached

About that cow…Polish cow Matylda captured after two years on the run | World news | The Guardian

The cow that escaped from her Polish farm two years ago and lived a free range life in a nearby forest has finally been caught.

Owner Leszek Zasada spoke about his adventure with the brown cow in a story broadcast Tuesday by the all-news station TVN24.

MurnauHe said Matylda escaped in 2013 from his farm in Zloty Stok, in Western Poland, the day after he brought her home.

She survived two frigid winters on her own, but the time on the run took its toll. She lost the calf she was sometimes spotted with and returned home with many scars.

That Planned Parenthood Video About Selling Aborted Fetus Parts is a Fake, Because of Course It Is – The Daily Banter

The Evolving Role of News on Twitter and Facebook | Pew Research Center

Great…and you thought news articles had terrible writing now…imaging how it will be as “articles” get cut down to 140 characters in the form of a tweet.

(I know they are talking about live events and news stories as they happen…and linking tweets to articles, but in this evolving world that is becoming more like Idiocracy every day, you know what it will eventually come to. Ow my balls.)

New Horizons checks in OK after Pluto flyby | Ars Technica

 

And for Firefly? or is it Lightning Bug?

Regional Breakdown of “Firefly” Vs. “Lightning Bug” | Mental Floss

“What do you call the insect that flies around in the summer and has a rear section that glows in the dark?”

Bert Vaux, a linguistics professor at the University of Cambridge, asked 10,000 Americans around the country that question and others relating to regional dialects. If you use “firefly” and “lightning bug” interchangeably, like I do, you’re in good company. bfi-00m-j9kAcross the United States, 39.8 percent of respondents report using both terms. 30.4 percent say “firefly” exclusively and 29.1 percent say “lightning bug.” Meanwhile, 0.02 percent (or two people total in the study) call the bioluminescent bugs “peenie wallie” (perhaps they wanted to hurt the beetles’ feelings).

Joshua Katz, a graduate student in statistics at NC State University, turned the survey data into the map you see above, which shows how the exclusive use of “firefly” is a western phenomenon, with a small enclave of support in Massachusetts.

 

 

I guess that explains it. Firefly is a Hollywood thing.

I will leave it at that. Enjoy the videos of Rufus T Firefly below, from the film Duck Soup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tumblr_m0xkh7YZEI1r0i1g5o1_500Jake got a speeding ticket the other day, 95 in a 70 zone. Along with following too close, and something else…his license will be suspended for six months. His attitude and depression was bad before, it is worse now.  It just gets better all the time, doesn’t it?

Anyway, please post links to things. Have a good Wednesday.

 


Tuesday Reads: Altered States While Driving, Plus Some News.

rainbow-road-by-db

Good Morning!!

I’m getting a slow start today. I was exhausted after my trip home, and I slept most of yesterday afternoon. I feel as if I could do that again today, and I just might.

There is lots of news this morning, but first I want to share a small epiphany I experienced while driving through Ohio on Saturday. Traffic was light and the weather was nice, partly cloudy and warm–with just enough sun to be bright but not enough for me to need sunglasses.

I was listening to an interesting program on NPR–I think it was Radiolab–about a man who described himself as solitary–practically a hermit–because he experienced so many problems in interacting with people. He enjoyed being alone more than anything else. His marriage to his first wife had broken up and she had taken their two children, whom he loved. The only relationships he had had that weren’t problematic were with his son and daughter. At one point, he learned that his ex-wife’s boyfriend was abusing his children, and he sued for custody. He didn’t get it because when he went to a psychological evaluation, he mistook another little girl in the office for his daughter. The psychologist questioned how he could be a good parent if he didn’t even recognize his own child.

The man moved to California and found a job where he didn’t have to interact with other people except over the phone, and it worked very well for him. Eventually he met a woman who seemed to understand him, and they lived together for years and eventually married.

pathway1I really identified with the story, because I find most of my difficult experiences involve interactions with other people. I have always preferred being alone to spending time with people–especially in large groups. As a child, I loved to read and could lose myself in a book and shut out the entire world. As a teenager, I loved to listen to music alone in my room, and I still read constantly. I always felt different–as if I didn’t belong in this world. I think that is the reason I like to drive long distances–I can be alone with no one to bother me, unless I want them to.

Anyway, it turned out that the man in the NPR story had prosopagnosia, or face blindness, a visual processing disorder in which a person has difficulty perceiving faces. He discovered this while he and his wife were watching a 60 Minutes program on this unusual cognitive problem. Interestingly, famed neurologist Oliver Sacks suffers from prosopagnosia.

At the point where the man learned what his problem was after years of struggling in relationships, I suddenly had my epiphany. I became aware of a feeling and I thought to myself. This is how it feels to be happy. I’m happy right now. Of course once I had the thought, I was no longer in the present moment, but the good feeling continued for some time as I listened to other stories on NPR.

Now I don’t think I have prosopagnosia–at least I got 6 right on a video test for it–so I don’t know why the NPR program had such a profound effect on me–maybe because I think there’s something wrong with me but I don’t know what it is. It would be great to have an answer. Why am I happiest when I’m alone but still can be in touch with people over the internet or on the phone? Maybe I’ll never know, but I definitely did have one of those peak experiences that Abraham Maslow wrote about.

0db78f8c3b8b

On Sunday, the second day of my trip, I was tired all day long and had trouble staying awake. I made good time across New York despite quite a bit of traffic; but the final leg of the trip on the Mass Pike was torturous. I sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic for more than an hour at one point and the the traffic was hellish the entire way. Oddly, I still felt that my experience of happiness the previous day made it all worthwhile.

I tried to find the NPR prosopagnosia story on-line, but I didn’t have any luck. I’d like to listen to it again.

Now that I’ve likely bored you to tears, I’ll get on with the news.

A deal has been reached with Iran. Politico reports: U.S., world powers reach historic deal with Iran.

The United States and five other world powers have reached a deal with Iran that would place strict limits on Tehran’s nuclear program in return for ending sanctions on its economy, the culmination of years of delicate diplomacy pursued by President Barack Obama despite warnings the agreement could strengthen Iran’s Islamist regime and leave it dangerously close to a nuclear bomb.

The historic accord, reached by Secretary of State John Kerry and his international counterparts in Vienna on Tuesday after 18 days of intense negotiations, now faces review from a hostile Republican-led Congress, opposition from every GOP presidential candidate, from Israel’s government and from Sunni Arab monarchs. The deal’s long and complex implementation process also leaves it vulnerable to unraveling.

pathways1

Speaking from the White House Tuesday morning, Obama called the deal a victory for diplomacy that would prevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and avert a possible conflict with Iran.

“No deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East,” Obama said. He reaffirmed America’s commitment to Israel’s security and Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia, while adding that the U.S. is “open to engagement on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect.”

Obama also hinted at the possibility of a larger thaw in U.S.-Iranian relations. ”It is possible to change,” Obama told Iranians, urging them to take a “different path, one of tolerance, of peaceful resolution to conflict… This deal opens an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it.”

“This is the good deal that we have sought,” Kerry said in a statement from Vienna.

It’s another stunning victory for Obama. More from CNN: Landmark deal reached on Iran nuclear program.

After arduous talks that spanned 20 months, negotiators have reached a landmark deal aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear program.

The agreement, a focal point of U.S. President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, appears set to reshape relations between Iran and the West, with its effects likely to ripple across the volatile Middle East.

Representatives of Iran, the United States and the other nations involved in the marathon talks were holding a final meeting in Vienna on Tuesday.

Obama praised the deal reached Tuesday morning, saying the agreement met the goals he had in place throughout negotiations.

“Today after two years of negotiation the United States together with the international community has achieved something that decades of animosity has not: a comprehensive long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Obama said from the White House, with Vice President Joe Biden at his side.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also praised the deal, speaking after Obama finished, as televisions in Iran broadcast the U.S. President’s statement live, translated into Farsi.

“Negotiators have reached a good agreement and I announce to our people that our prayers have come true,” Rouhani said in a live address to the nation following Obama.

The essential idea behind the deal is that in exchange for limits on its nuclear activities, Iran would get relief from sanctions while being allowed to continue its atomic program for peaceful purposes.

newmexico-122

And from The Wall Street Journal: Oil Prices Fall as Nuclear Deal Paves Way for Iran Exports.

The possibility of up to a million new barrels of Iranian oil flooding global markets—the amount Iranian officials aim to deliver within months—comes at a critical time. China’s stock-market turmoil in recent weeks could slow an economy that was expected to account for a lot of energy-demand growth. U.S. production remains strong, and oil giants such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia are pumping record amounts.

With new Iranian supply, that has raised the specter of a fresh oil glut.

After recovering somewhat from a 60% drop earlier this year, global benchmark Brent crude has lost 15% since early Ma.. It fell further on Tuesday morning in London trading, to $57.30 a barrel on London’s ICE futures exchange. WTI crude futures, a benchmark largely for American oil, was down 1.7% on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

“Iran’s efforts to raise oil exports could not have come at a worse time, given the market’s lingering oversupply,” said Michael Cohen, an energy analyst at Barclays.
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In 2012, the U.S. and European Union imposed strict sanctions on Iran’s energy and financial sectors, and the country’s oil exports have been cut nearly in half as a result, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Iranian exports averaged 1.4 million barrels a day in 2014, down from 2.6 million barrels a day at the end of 2011, federal data show.

The speed and quantity of new oil that Iran can export hinge upon many difficult-to-predict factors. They include when Iran might be able to satisfy various countries and the United Nations that it has met the requirements of the deal, triggering the start of sanctions relief. Western officials have said that likely won’t happen until the end of 2015.

More bellyaching from the top 1% at the link.

CapeCodBeachPathway

The other big story is the major economic speech Hillary Clinton gave yesterday. Here’s a preliminary analysis by Paul Waldman at The American Prospect: Clinton Tries to Move the Economic Conversation Beyond Jobs.

As most of us understand, “Do I have a job?” is not the only question you might ask about your economic situation. That understanding is what Hillary Clinton is counting on as she delivers her first major economic address Monday, an attempt to articulate a vision that will not only provide a means of understanding the collection of policy changes she’ll be advocating in her 2016 campaign for president, but also contrast with the now 17 Republicans who want to face her next fall.

I’m writing this before the full text of Clinton’s speech is available, so what I have to go on is only the outline and selections that have been leaked to a couple of reporters (see here and here). But it’s clear that Clinton is attempting to expand the economic conversation beyond the two measures that usually dominate the discussion: job growth and GDP growth. “The measure of our economic success,” she’ll say, “should be how much incomes rise for middle-class households, not an arbitrary growth figure.”

So while Clinton is going to offer some proposals like an infrastructure bank meant to create jobs, most of her emphasis is going to be on increasing wages and improving working conditions with things like paid sick leave. To see why this is aimed at the Republican candidates, pay close attention to what they say when they’re asked about issues like wage stagnation and inequality. What you almost inevitably get is a brief acknowledgment that these things are indeed a problem, then a quick redirection to the policies they say will accelerate growth and create jobs. The last thing they want is to get into a detailed discussion about wages. If pressed, the best explanation they can come up with for why wages are stagnant, or why inequality has been increasing for many years, is that, like everything else that is not as we would like it to be, it’s the government’s fault.

Maine-Office-of-Toursim-That’s the nature of the problem they face where their ideological beliefs meet the requirements of a presidential campaign. They don’t believe that government can do much affirmatively to improve the economy, so their proposals tend toward “getting government out of the way”—in other words, not doing something new, but stopping something that’s already happening. But if you put a Democratic proposal like paid sick leave alongside a Republican proposal like loosening environmental regulations, it’s a lot easier to understand how the first is supposed to help workers than how the second would.

So as the discussion on economics shifts, Clinton can advocate for at least some policies that are new and meant to react to the changes that have taken place in the American economy. The Republicans, on the other hand, are unlikely to advocate much beyond what they always advocate. There may be some differences in the details, but its essence will be all too familiar: Cut taxes (particularly on the wealthy), cut regulations on corporations, accelerate the decline in collective bargaining, and wait for our glorious future of prosperity to begin.

More reactions following the speech–links only:

Business Insider: Hillary Clinton just called out the economic problem of the next decade.

Washington Post: Why Hillary Clinton made gender such a big deal in her major economic speech.

FiveThirtyEight: The Numbers Behind Hillary Clinton’s Economic Vision

I’ll add a few more news links in the comments. So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the thread below.


Monday Afternoon Reads

I got to spend the weekend with both girls and their guys which is a treat these days since both are adults and live far away. No matter how old they get or I get, it seems that seeing them leave is a challenge.  My goal was to raise independent women who could make good decisions and act in ways that do no harm to themselves or others.  I wouldn’t have them any other way. But, the fact they’re so independent is difficult on their old mom sometimes. So, this post is a little late because I slept as late as I could.

14ANNOUNCE-web-master675I’m going to start out with some items on Scott Walker since he’s the latest KochBot Governor to enter the race and appears to be the anti-government pony that the Kochs are backing.Just like Louisiana and Kansas, Wisconsin has become a failed state through experimentation with right wing libertarian cult fetishes.  Walker has been particularly rough on unions. Turning workers into hapless, powerless wage slaves is one of the key Koch goals. Union money and campaign work has been one of the linchpins in the election of Democrats.  It’s one of the few offsets to big money coming from billionaires like the Kochs.

The anti-union law passed here four years ago, which made Gov. Scott Walker a national Republican star and a possible presidential candidate, has turned out to be even more transformative than many had predicted.

Walker had vowed that union power would shrink, workers would be judged on their merits, and local governments would save money. Unions had warned that workers would lose benefits and be forced to take on second jobs or find new careers.

Many of those changes came to pass, but the once-thriving ­public-sector unions were not just shrunken — they were crippled.

Unions representing teachers, professors, trash collectors and other government employees are struggling to stem plummeting membership rolls and retain relevance in the state where they got their start.

Here in King, Magnant and her fellow AFSCME members, workers at a local veterans home, have been knocking on doors on weekends to persuade former members to rejoin. Community college professors in Moraine Park, home to a technical college, are reducing dues from $59 to $36 each month. And those in Milwaukee are planing a campaign using videos and posters to highlight union principles. The theme: ­“Remember.”

But recalling the benefits that union membership might have brought before the 2011 law stripped most public-sector unions of their collective-bargaining rights is difficult when workers consider the challenges of the present.

“I don’t see the point of being in a union anymore,” said Dan Anliker, a 34-year-old technology teacher and father of two in Reedsburg, a tiny city about 60 miles northwest of Madison.

b8Walker made his presidential ambitions official.

Scott Walker made it official today, breaking the news that he is a Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential race first in a Facebook post this morning before a formal announcement event in Wisconsin later today.

“I’m in. I’m running for President of the United States because Americans deserve a leader who will fight and win for them,” the two-term Wisconsin governor says in the Facebook post, which includes a video in which he argues that his track record as governor sets him apart from the rest of the Republican field as a proven leader who has succeeded in winning elections and taking on big policy battles.

Walker’s policy battles usually mean taking on the little guy and the middle class by promoting the interests of the very rich and powerful.  He would become the first president since Harry Truman to do so without a college degree having dropped out of university prior to graduation.

Walker is not very charismatic and has little national appeal at the moment.  However, his former political rivals say this only leads folks to underestimate him. Given his strong Koch backing, he’s got the ability to go the distance even though he’s less than appealing physically and personality-wise.  My impression of him has always been of a very dull and lifeless man.  He’s characterized by former opponents quite a bit differently.

Since 1990, the Wisconsin governor’s name has appeared on a ballot 14 times, and he’s failed just twice — a winning record that’s central to his pitch to Republican primary voters. Along the way, he’s left a trail of defeated challengers, many of them gripped by resentment toward a foe they recall as crassly opportunistic, loose with facts or blindly ambitious.Yet for all the lingering enmity, as Walker prepares to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, his rivals also grudgingly respect him as a rare and exceptionally canny politician who’s constantly underestimated and always outperforms expectations.

He’s a sneaky-smart campaigner, they say, a polished and level-headed tactician, a master at reading crowds. He learned the value of ignoring uncomfortable questions, rather than answering them. In hindsight, the many politicians he pancaked on the road to the national stage — in races for the state Assembly, county executive and governor — almost invariably see his career as an elaborate practice run for the White House.

To David Riemer, who fell to Walker in a 2004 bid for Milwaukee County executive — a nonpartisan race — Walker’s wiles can be summed up by a single moment during one of their debates. Riemer, sensing Walker’s desire to run for higher office, recalled placing a sheet of paper on Walker’s lectern that included a pledge to fulfill an entire four-year term. Sign it, Riemer demanded.

“He just let it sit in front of him. He didn’t get it back to me. He didn’t rip it up. He didn’t turn it into a paper airplane … he ignored it,” Riemer said. “He understood very well, one of the key lessons in political life is they can’t print what you don’t say.”

Walker is managing to dismantle education in ways that Bobby Jindal only dreams.  Wisconsin–unlike Louisiana–is known for good education and institutions.  He’s managed to attack teacher unions and Screen_Shot_2015-04-23_at_94822_PM_590_477benefits.  Just recently. he went after and back dismantling tenure.  Attacks on higher education are necessary for the right since any form of critical thinking skills in voters is a danger to demagoguery.  Tenure protects freedom of speech and thought at university campuses.  These are dangerous freedoms for folk wishing to push an agenda that is not reality-based.  It’s no wonder that most of the Koch puppets are loose with the truth, data, and facts on the ground.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s trailblazing effort to weaken tenure protections at public colleges and universities is now a reality with his signing of a $73 billion budget on Sunday.

The effort has outraged unions and higher education groups, leaving them fearful that other lawmakers will follow suit to unravel labor protections in higher education that have long been considered sacred ground.

Walker downplayed the changes at Sunday’s signing at a valve manufacturing facility in Waukesha, Wisconsin, emphasizing instead that tuition was being frozen in the University of Wisconsin system for two more years at the rate it was two years ago.

“We made college more affordable for college students and working families all across the state,” Walker said.

Walker signed the budget as he prepared to announce his run for the Republican presidential nomination Monday. The tenure fight could further endear him to conservatives skeptical of what some perceive as the ivory tower of higher education, and it serves to remind voters of his earlier effort to scale back collective-bargaining rights of public employee unions — including K-12 teachers — when he was first building a national profile.

The budget sent to Walker also includes other labor-related issues that frustrated unions, including a provision that rolls back a minimum pay protection for laborers working on local public construction projects like schools.

walkerScott Walker looks like the typical Midwestern Goofus.  He was raised a Baptist as the son of a Baptist preacher. Walker  pushed through the typical christianist culture crap.  Maybe because he appears so ineffectual is one of the reasons that he actually gets his desired outcomes.  His current fundraising efforts are less than stellar and national polls do not favor him.  He is doing well in Iowa, however.

Mr. Walker’s strategy is now focused on building a political operation in Iowa and campaigning aggressively there with an increasingly conservative message. He recently endorsed amending the United States Constitution to leave laws blocking same-sex marriage up to each state, and he is preparing to sign Wisconsin legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except when the life of the mother is in immediate jeopardy.

With those positions and others, Mr. Walker is aiming to sway conservative and evangelical voters, two dominant groups in the Iowa Republican caucuses. They may now have a particular affinity for Mr. Cruz and Mr. Carson, who had a combined 19 percent support of likely Iowa caucusgoers in a recent Quinnipiac University poll. But other Republican candidates like Mr. Perry, a former Texas governor, and Mr. Rubio are angling to appeal to the same voters, and Mr. Rubio and his supporters have more financial resources than Mr. Walker does right now.

“Walker had a great winter but maybe got a little cocky, a little ahead of himself, and now he really has to take the time to work Iowa and build up the resources to compete harder in the early primary states,” said Ed Rollins, a veteran Republican consultant who has worked with David Polyansky, one of Mr. Walker’s advisers in Iowa.

To distinguish himself, Mr. Walker, a 47-year-old career politician, is building his bid for the White House around his style of leadership, reflected in slogans like “go big and go bold” and “a fighter and a winner,” and his record as governor since 2011.

He has also sought to enhance his understanding of national affairs and foreign policy by taking time away from the campaign trail this year for dozens of briefings with experts, heads of state and military officials. As a result, not only has he spent less time fund-raising than other candidates, he has also been absent for long stretches from New Hampshire and South Carolina, which have early nominating contests and where his poll numbers have slipped as well.Wisconsin, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

“I think he waited too late to get into the race, because there was such excitement for him when he was here in March,” said Catherine Welborn, a South Carolina Republican who heard Mr. Walker speak that month in Charleston. “South Carolina doesn’t have much time to get to know him, but one thing is for sure: He needs to come down here and tell the story about beating the unions. That’s the kind of person we need to stand up for America.”

Other admirers of Mr. Walker said he was poised to regain momentum because of his fiscally conservative record in Wisconsin, where he signed a two-year state budget on Sunday that holds the line on taxes and cuts funds for University of Wisconsin campuses while also freezing tuition there.

But Mr. Walker is best known for taking on Wisconsin’s public employee unions, shortly after taking office in 2011, by proposing a bill to repeal collective bargaining for most government workers to give control over pay and benefits back to the state. Championing the measure as a way to deal with the state’s budget deficit, Mr. Walker drew support from his extensive network of conservative backers, as well as Republican leaders in the State Legislature.

There are many interesting comments on that last NYT thread including many from his constituents.   Listen to this from folks that know him best.  They remind me of those of us from Louisiana that are telling the country to run away from Jindal as fast as they can.

pczisny

Fond du Lac, WI

As a Wisconsinite, I can attest to the damage that Scott Walker has done to our state. After promising to create 250,000 in his first term–and insisting that he be held accountable for that pledge when he ran in 2010–the state ended up with half that number (over 50,000 behind same-size but Democratically controlled Minnesota). By 2014, he insisted that the promise was merely a goal.

Our state now ranks in the bottom ten nationally in job creation. It ranks number ONE in middle class decline, according to a Pew Center analysis. We are now among the top 10 states in people moving away.

Scott Walker raised taxes on 140,000 Wisconsin families. What did those families have in common?–they all had a breadwinner who worked for a living, they all had kids to support, and they are all below the poverty line.

Here are some other stories that you might find interesting.157666_600

Study Finds Nearly 100 Percent Of Women Who Had An Abortion Say It Was The Right Choice

According to a new study that tracked hundreds of women who had abortions, more than 95 percent of participants reported that ending a pregnancy was the right decision for them. Feelings of relief outweighed any negative emotions, even three years after the procedure.

Researchers examined both women who had first-trimester abortions and women who had procedures after that point (which are often characterized as “late-term abortions”). When it came to women’s emotions following the abortion, or their opinions about whether or not it was the right choice, they didn’t find any meaningful difference between the two groups.

These findings contradict the notion that women experience negative mental health effects after ending a pregnancy, as well as the idea that later abortions are more psychologically traumatic.

Though there’s no scientific evidence to support the idea that abortion is linked to a greater risk of mental health problems, this framework is often used to justify passing additional restrictions on the procedure. Seven states, for instance, have mandatory counseling laws that require pregnant women to receive information about abortion’s negative psychological consequences before they’re allowed to proceed. Some of those materials specifically reference “postabortion traumatic stress syndrome,” a supposed disorder that isn’t recognized by the American Psychological Association or the American Psychiatric Association.

The President commuted sentences for 46 non violent offenders held on drug charges.

Hillary Clinton and  Jeb Bush go at each other over worker hours and pay. Bush also seems to be on the offensive against Rubio and Walker.

Hillary Clinton laid into Jeb Bush’s remark that Americans need to work longer hours on Monday during her first economic policy speech at the New School in New York City.

“Well, he must not have met very many American workers,” Clinton said to applause and cheers. “Let him tell that to the nurse who stands on her feet all day or the teacher who is in that classroom, or the trucker who drives all night. Let him tell that to the fast-food workers marching in the streets for better pay. They don’t need a lecture. They need a raise.

“The truth is, the current rules for our economy do reward some work, like financial trading, for example, much more than other work, like building and selling things,” Clinton added.

Bush made the suggestion last week during an interview with New Hampshire’s Union Leader, urging the need for people to work longer hours because workforce participation is at all-time modern lows.

It’s not the first time Clinton’s campaign has taken a shot at that remark. Her campaign tweeted a graph by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute showing stagnating wages as productivity has risen over the past four decades.

Well, that’s it for me today.  I have to catch up on some grading!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?