Lazy Saturday Reads

womanreadingblackbackground1939

Good Morning!!

Yesterday we had a sort-of mini-family-reunion at my mother’s house in Indiana. We wanted to get a bunch of us together to celebrate my mom’s 89th birthday. I’ve been here for a few weeks already. I had to stay a little longer than I was planning to after my mom broke her wrist.

My brother and his wife and two sons are visiting from Boston, another brother came with his son from Illinois, my sister and her husband came from Indianapolis, and my niece and her husband and son also came from Indianapolis. Only one of my sisters wasn’t here.

It was a lot of fun. We broke out mom’s croquet set, and sat outside talking for hours. My brother John (the one from Boston area) cooked a fantastic meal of grilled steak, roasted potatoes and veggies, and salad; and afterwards we had a birthday cake that my niece from Indy had designed. Across the top was a pastry scrabble board with words like “grandma, mother, birthday on it. (My mom is a scrabble and crossword fan and she recently started a scrabble group with two of her friends).

The day was a reminder to me that family is just about the most important thing in life. I didn’t get that when I was younger and just wanted to get away to a more interesting place; but as I get older, it feels more and more true. Now I understand why my grandparents organized big family “reunions” when I was a kid. In our Catholic family, everyone had lots of kids and we would have huge get-togethers with 30+ kids all running around wildly and adults drinking eating and reminiscing.

But enough about me, let’s see what’s happening the news.

Bobby-Womack-Funny

We lost a legendary musician yesterday. Rolling Stone reports: Soul Legend Bobby Womack Dead at 70.

Bobby Womack, the legendary soul singer whose career spanned seven decades, died Friday at age 70. A representative for Womack’s label XL Recordings confirmed the singer’s death to Rolling Stone, but said the cause of death was currently unknown.

The son of two musicians, Womack began his career as a member of Curtis Womack and the Womack Brothers with his siblings Curtis, Harry, Cecil and Friendly Jr. After Sam Cooke signed the group to his SAR Records in 1960, they released a handful of gospel singles before changing their name to the Valentinos and earning success with a more secular, soul- and pop-influenced sound. In 1964, one month after the Valentinos released their hit “It’s All Over Now,” the Rolling Stones put out their version, which went to Number One on the U.K. singles charts.

Three months after the death of Cooke in 1964, Womack married Cooke’s widow, Barbara Campbell, and the Valentinos disbanded after the collapse of SAR Records. After leaving the group, Womack became a session musician, playing guitar on several albums, including Aretha Franklin’s landmark Lady Soul, before releasing his debut album, Fly Me to the Moon, in 1968. A string of successful R&B albums would follow, including Understanding and Across 110th Street, both released in 1972, 1973’s Facts of Life and 1974’s Lookin for a Love Again.

After the death of his brother, Harry, in 1974, Womack’s career stalled, but was revived in 1981 with the R&B hit “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.” Throughout most of the Eighties, the singer struggled with drug addiction, eventually checking himself into a rehabilitation center for treatment. A series of health problems would follow, including diabetes,pneumoniacolon cancer and the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, though it was unclear if any of these ailments contributed to his death. Womack was declared cancer-free in 2012.

Read the rest at the RS link.

Read a collection of tweets in praise of Womack from The Guardian: Stars pay tribute to the great Bobby Womack.

At the Washington Post, Simon Waxman of the Boston Review has a worthwhile op-ed about the continuing scandal of the Washington Redskins’ refusal to deal with the inherent racism of their team name: The U.S. military’s ongoing slur of Native Americans.

Resistance to the Washington Redskins team name has ebbed and flowed over the years, but thanks in part to letters from 50 senators to the team’s owner, Dan Snyder, and last week’s decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to rescind the team’s trademark registration, the campaign to get rid of it has renewed urgency.

Snyder has shrugged off complaints about the name, even claiming that “redskins” is a “badge of honor.” Team president Bruce Allen, protesting too much, says the name “has always been respectful of and shown reverence toward the proud legacy and traditions of Native Americans.”

The team and the NFL are under a great deal of pressure right now,

But even if the NFL and Redskins brass come to their senses and rename the team, a greater symbolic injustice would continue to afflict Indians — an injustice perpetuated not by a football club but by our federal government.

In the United States today, the names Apache, Comanche, Chinook, Lakota, Cheyenne and Kiowa apply not only to Indian tribes but also to military helicopters. Add in the Black Hawk, named for a leader of the Sauk tribe. Then there is the Tomahawk, a low-altitude missile, and a drone named for an Indian chief, Gray Eagle. Operation Geronimo was the end of Osama bin Laden.

Why do we name our battles and weapons after people we have vanquished? For the same reason the Washington team is the Redskins and my hometown Red Sox go to Cleveland to play the Indians and to Atlanta to play the Braves: because the myth of the worthy native adversary is more palatable than the reality — the conquered tribes of this land were not rivals but victims, cheated and impossibly outgunned.

The destruction of the Indians was asymmetric war, compounded by deviousness in the name of imperialist manifest destiny. White America shot, imprisoned, lied, swindled, preached, bought, built and voted its way to domination. Identifying our powerful weapons and victorious campaigns with those we subjugated serves to lighten the burden of our guilt. It confuses violation with a fair fight.

It’s an excellent essay. I hope the powers that be will get the message.

Another op-ed at The New York Times argues against popular claims that marijuana is an effective treatment for untold numbers of illnesses: Politicians Prescriptions for Marijuana Defy Doctors and Data. It appears that the NYT has fixed it’s website so that you can’t copy and paste anything anymore, so you’ll need to go to the link to read the article by Catherine St. Louis. It’s quite interesting and compelling.

What the hell is going on down in Mississippi. I haven’t been following the story closely, but this is stunning: Tea party leader Mayfield dies in apparent suicide.

Attorney Mark Mayfield was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound Friday at his Ridgeland home.

Mayfield, vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, was one of three men charged with conspiring with Clayton Kelly to photograph U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home to use in a political video against Cochran in the Republican Senate primary against state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

Ridgeland police said they received a 911 call at 9:03 a.m. from a woman who said her husband had just shot himself.

Officers responded to the home on Cherry Laurel Lane in the Bridgewater subdivision at 9:07 a.m. and were directed by Mayfield’s wife to a storage room in the garage.

Officers found Mayfield lying on the floor with a single gunshot wound to his head, according to a Ridgeland Police Department statement. Police found a “large caliber revolver” near the body. “The death is classified as a death investigation-pending, due to an awaiting autopsy to be performed at an undetermined time.” ….

Mayfield of Ridgeland, an attorney and state and local tea party leader, was arrested by the Madison police Department last month along with Richard Sager, a Laurel elementary school P.E. teacher and high school soccer coach. Police said they also charged John Beachman Mary of Hattiesburg, but he was not taken into custody because of “extensive medical conditions.” All face felony conspiracy charges. Sager also was charged with felony tampering with evidence, and Mary faces two conspiracy counts.

Much more at the link.

Even more bizarre, Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reports: McDaniel Campaign Staffer Blames Tea Party’s Leader Suicide On Political Opponents.

The strange and ugly Mississippi Republican Senate primary turned tragic when Mark Mayfield was found dead Friday. Mayfield was a lawyer and board member of the Central Mississippi tea party and one of the alleged conspirators in the case surrounding the break-in and photographing of incumbent Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home.

Mayfield’s death was an apparent suicide, according to reports.

On Twitter, one high-level McDaniel staffer, policy director Keith Plunkett wrote:

“A good man is gone today bc of a campaign to destroy lives. To all “so called” Republican leaders who joined lockstep: I WILL NOT REST!”

More tweets at Buzzfeed.

I’m going to end there, because there are numerous relative milling around me wondering why I’m typing on a computer instead of joining the group. What stories are you following today? Please share your thoughts and links on the comment thread.

 


Friday Nite Lite: Bada Bing Pope

This is Friday? I had no idea. We got back from Children’s Hospital of Atlanta Scottish Rite late last night. On Monday, my son Jake had a high sugar episode…up to 598. He now has Type 1 Diabetes and is Insulin Dependent. His life has changed completely and drastically. Even though he will be able to live a “normal” life in the long run, now things are bad. We spent three days in Atlanta at the hospital learning about his new regiment of blood glucose test, insulin shots, calculations and other things. It is overwhelming.  He is now having low sugar numbers, and we are having to work through this, but it is getting a little easier each time.

As for the blog and the post:

I don’t know what is going on in my own life at the moment, much less what is going on out there. My newsblur reader is at close to 16,000 unread articles…and there is still so much to do. Anyway, the news? I am sure it is all shitty…I heard about the fucking SCOTUS ruling about the abortion clinic barrier infringing upon “free speech.” WTF is it? Women are going to end up in a worse situation by the end of this year, I feel it. (But then I am not very positive about anything right now.)

So I only have one cartoon tonight.

It is a good one.

PopeMafia by Political Cartoonist Joe Heller

 

150210 600 PopeMafia cartoons

 

This is an open thread.


Friday Reads: Unsafe at any speed

Good Morning!

I’m not sure if you’ve ever spent time near an abortion clinic during the crazy times but it’s something that will make you very afraid of going near images (1)some churches.  The whacko and danger factor are high.  So unbelievably high that I don’t think you can really appreciate it unless you’ve done some time as a clinic escort.  I certainly wish SCOTUS would’ve spent some time there before making this decision. The Buffer Zone idea is so reasonable that even the Supreme Court Building has one.  But, buffer zones are no longer constitutional at abortion clinics.  It will likely take more violence from the whackos to change some minds.

The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that barred protests, counseling and other speech near abortion clinics.

“A painted line on the sidewalk is easy to enforce, but the prime objective of the First Amendment is not efficiency,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in a majority opinion that was joined by the court’s four-member liberal wing.

The law, enacted in 2007, created 35-foot buffer zones around entrances to abortion clinics. State officials said the law was a response to a history of harassment and violence at abortion clinics in Massachusetts, including a shooting rampage at two facilities in 1994.

The Massachusetts law was challenged on First Amendment grounds by opponents of abortion who said they sought to have quiet conversations with women entering clinics to tell them about alternatives. “Petitioners are not protesters,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote.

The court was unanimous about the bottom line but divided on the reasoning, with Chief Justice Roberts writing a narrow opinion. The law blocked too much speech, he said, “sweeping in innocent individuals.”

I’m sure well see Martha Coakley find another way.  From the viewpoint of women down here in the south, even the whacko gauntlet would be a refreshing change from no clinics at all.

images (2)But anything still goes in the world of weaponry and the second amendment.  How about living in range of the Arkansas National Guard and artillery practice?

A Franklin County man has a large hole in his wall and other damage to his property,  after an artillery shell from Fort Chaffee hits his community.

“Then all of a sudden there was a tremendously loud boom,” said neighbor Susan Strobel.

People in Charleston who live close to Fort Chaffee are use to hearing explosions.

“I just assumed that they got some type of new weapon they were trying out,” said Strobel.

But this was the first time Bryan Martin had damage in his own backyard. ” I had a lot of damage to the roofs, to the siding, and holes and you could stick your fist into the brick”, said Bryan Martin.

According to Major Matt Snead with the Arkansas National Guard, an artillery shell was fired and hit east of Rattlesnake Canyon Road in Franklin County.

“The damage could have been lives,” said Martin.

According to Martin, around 3:00 p.m. on Thursday (June 5), the shell landed on his property and then exploded.

At least that was the National Guard. How about this guy in Oklahoma?
Please won’t you be my neighbor?

An Oklahoma home was damaged last weekend by a howitzer artillery shell fired from a gun range three miles away.

The artillery shell – which is 14.5 inches long and 3.5 inches across – crashed through an exterior wall, hit the ceiling, and damaged another wall while homeowner Gene Kelley and his wife were in another room, reported KOAM-TV.

“It’s unbelievable,” Kelley said. “Unless you were here to see it or see the pictures I’ve got, you would not believe how huge this thing is.”

Meanwhile, the Republican outreach to women and minorities and nearly every one else continues.ad_amc_gremlin_gt_red_1978

Gov. Paul LePage has long cast a wide net for programs that he says fit the definition of welfare. On Wednesday, in a media release written as an alternative take on new personal-income data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, he lumped Social Security and Medicare into that definition.

The federal data released Tuesday put Maine’s personal-income growth at 0.5 percent in the first three months of 2014, which ranked 39th nationally, last in New England and well below the national rate of 0.8 percent. One of the biggest reasons cited for the low ranking was Maine’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

LePage, however, said in the media release that Maine’s net personal earnings increased by 0.8 percent, in line with other New England states and slightly higher than the national rate of net personal earnings, 0.7 percent.

The governor arrived at his number by excluding what the federal bureau calls “personal current transfer receipts” and dividends, interest and rental income.

Personal current transfer receipts include payments from the federal government to states for Social Security, Medicare, unemployment benefits and Medicaid expansion. Maine is one of only four states (Indiana, Tennessee and Wyoming are the others) where transfer receipts declined in the first quarter of this year. Nationally, transfer receipts grew by $41.1 billion.

LePage said he chose not to follow the federal bureau’s definition because it conceals welfare benefits.

“It doesn’t matter what liberals call these payments, it is welfare, pure and simple,” LePage said in the statement. “Liberals from the White House all the way down to Democratic leadership in Augusta believe that redistribution of wealth – taking money from hard-working taxpayers and giving it to a growing number of welfare recipients – is personal income. It’s not. It’s just more welfare expansion. Democrats can obfuscate the numbers any way they want. The fact is that we have created thousands of jobs, more Mainers are working, and their income is going up.”

1950_Hudson_Brochure-01 (Large)Fox News Pundits are melting down about how many Americans are getting excited about Soccer and the World Cup.

“I’m suspect,” Dr. Keith Ablow said Thursday on “Outnumbered” as the US men’s national team faced off against Germany. “I am suspect because, here’s the thing. Why, at a time when there are so many national and international issues of such prominence — I’m a little suspicious of yet another bread-and-circus routine. Let’s roll out the marijuana, pull back the laws, and get people even more crazy about yet another entertainment event.”

Ablow’s four female co-hosts weren’t buying it, interrupting him with protests of “what?” and “what’s wrong with you?”

“This is a way to distract people,” Ablow continued. “This is like Rome. I can see why Obama would love the World Cup –”

“What are you talking about?” interjected Kimberly Guilfoyle, who said her son plays soccer. “This is encouraging for kids to get out and play sports, and you can play soccer from a young age.”

Ablow continued to insist he found it odd that “people are playing games more than ever” when there are other pressing issues to pay attention to.

1958_Ford_Fairlane-28 (Large)Ann Coulter went even further.

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter is known for her questionable, often offensive rants, but her latest tirade is pure trolling of soccer fans everywhere.

In a syndicated column published less than 24 hours before what was perhaps the U.S. team’s most important game in nearly four years — when most soccer supporters were likely too busy and nervous to bother to respond to tired anti-soccer arguments –Coulter argued that a growing interest in the sport is a sign of America’s “moral decay.”

“Do they even have MVPs in soccer? Everyone just runs up and down the field and, every once in a while, a ball accidentally goes in,” Coulter writes, not bothering to check if her question actually has an answer (it does). “That’s when we’re supposed to go wild. I’m already asleep.”

Among the reasons Coulter says she thinks soccer is horrible: liberal moms love it; some games end in scoreless ties; you can’t use your hands; it’s foreign; and it’s like the metric system.

We wouldn’t have wasted the time rebutting Coulter earlier today, but with the U.S. now through to the next round, we’re here to help you understand just how stupid some of her claims are:

“I’ve held off on writing about soccer for a decade — or about the length of the average soccer game — so as not to offend anyone.”

We could have waited another 10 years, but it’s worth noting that World Cup soccer is actually almost always a 90-minute game, with a 15-minute halftime break and a few minutes added on for stoppage time. While games can go longer for extra time and possibly penalties in knockout rounds, game times are usually predictable, and much shorter than other major American sports, which have commercial breaks, timeouts and other general stoppages in play, which also halt the clock.

“There are no heroes, no losers, no accountability, and no child’s fragile self-esteem is bruised.”

Who gave these folks the keys to our government and the fourth estate?  Where exactly are they driving us?

What’s on you reading and blogging list today?

 


Thursday Reads

Childe Hassam - Two Women Reading

Childe Hassam – Two Women Reading

Good Morning!!

 

Wolf Blitzer must be celebrating this morning, because the mystery plane is back in the headlines.

Associated Press reports (via CTV):

SYDNEY, Australia — Investigators looking into the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines plane are confident it was on autopilot when it crashed in a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean, Australian officials said Thursday as they announced the latest shift in the search for the jet.

After analyzing data exchanged between the plane and a satellite, officials believe Flight 370 was on autopilot the entire time it was flying across a vast expanse of the southern Indian Ocean, based on the straight path it took, Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Martin Dolan said.

“Certainly for its path across the Indian Ocean, we are confident that the aircraft was operating on autopilot until it ran out of fuel,” Dolan told reporters in Canberra, the nation’s capital.

Asked whether the autopilot would have to be manually switched on, or whether it could have been activated automatically under a default setting, Dolan replied, “The basic assumption would be that if the autopilot is operational it’s because it’s been switched on.”

But exactly why the autopilot would have been set on a flight path so far off course from the jet’s destination of Beijing, and exactly when it was switched on remains unknown.

The New York Times explains what likely happened:

Wolf plane

A report issued by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, outlining how the new search zone had been chosen, said that the most likely scenario as the aircraft headed south across the Indian Ocean on March 8 was that the crew was suffering from hypoxia or was otherwise unresponsive.

Hypoxia occurs when a plane loses air pressure and the pilots, lacking adequate oxygen, become confused and incapable of performing even basic manual tasks.

Pilots are trained to put on oxygen masks immediately if an aircraft suffers depressurization; their masks have an hour’s air supply, compared with only a few minutes for the passengers. The plane, which left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, bound for Beijing, with 239 people aboard, made its turn south toward the Indian Ocean about an hour after it stopped responding to air-traffic controllers….

Evidence for an unresponsive crew as the plane flew south includes the loss of radio communications, a long period with no maneuvering of the aircraft, a steadily maintained cruise altitude and eventual fuel exhaustion and descent, the report said.

“Given these observations, the final stages of the unresponsive crew/hypoxia event type appeared to best fit the available evidence for the final period of MH370’s flight when it was heading in a generally southerly direction,” the document said.

Based on the report, a new search zone has been designated, according to the LA Times:

Experts from Boeing and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board were among the specialists who helped define the zone, based on satellite data and analysis of previous similar incidents.

The new zone, about 1,100 miles west of Perth, Australia, is farther south than where previous intensive search efforts were carried out this spring after the plane vanished March 8 with 239 people aboard. The flight was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it went missing….

Australia Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the search was continuing with a mapping of the ocean floor in the newly defined area, to be followed by a comprehensive seafloor search.

The seafloor search, he said, should start around August and be completed within one year. The area is 58 miles wide and 400 miles long, covering an area as big as Lake Huron, the second-largest of the U.S. Great Lakes. By comparison, the area searched with a robotic, sonar-equipped submarine in May was about 330 square miles.

First gay marriage license issued in Indiana

First gay marriage license issued in Indiana

There was exciting news yesterday in the struggle to legalize same-sex marriage state by state.

From NPR: Federal Judges Reverse Gay-Marriage Bans In Utah, Indiana.

Utah and Indiana are the latest states to see their bans on same-sex marriage struck down by a federal court, following rulings in both states Wednesday that found the prohibition unconstitutional.

In Utah, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld a lower court ruling striking down the state’s gay-marriage ban. And in Indiana,U.S. District Judge Richard Young made a similar ruling.

“It is wholly illogical to believe that state recognition of love and commitment of same-sex couples will alter the most intimate and personal decisions of opposite-sex couples,” the three-judge panel in the Utah case said. The panel immediately put the ruling on hold pending its appeal, either to the entire 10th Circuit or directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to The Associated Press.

In Indiana, Young wrote: “Same-sex couples, who would otherwise qualify to marry in Indiana, have the right to marry in Indiana. … These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”

Both decisions are significant in that they may influence decisions in other states.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, writes NPR in an email that the Utah decision “is very significant, as [it is] the first appellate court to address the marriage equality issue.

“The 4th Circuit [in Virginia] may well apply the reasoning of the 10th Circuit opinion, as will numerous district courts that have yet to rule,” he says.

“The Indiana ruling invalidating its ban today also used similar reasoning,” Tobias says. “All courts are finding that the bans violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th amendment.”

In another breakthrough, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine has announced that she supports same-sex marriage. From The Washington Post: 

“A number of states, including my home state of Maine, have now legalized same-sex marriage, and I agree with that decision,” Collins said in a statement, adding later: “I have long opposed efforts to impose a federal ban on same-sex marriage. In both 2004 and 2006, I voted against amendments to the United States Constitution that would have banned same-sex marriages by preempting state laws.”

Collins joins three other Republican senators who publicly support gay marriage: Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Mark Kirk (Ill.).

Today at noon Eastern, the U.S. plays Germany in the World Cup.

world cup

CBS News reports, Team USA: “Everything’s on the line” for Germany match.

 

It’s been a roller coaster ride for the American team so far in the World Cup. The team that, on paper, many pundits didn’t expect to advance, now has a real shot at moving on to the second round. And as CBS News’ Elaine Quijano reports, that fate is hinged on beating or at least coming up even against one of the cup favorites, Germany.

Team USA was greeted with cheers from American fans Wednesday as they arrived in the Brazilian city of Recife.

Players spent the three days between matches recovering and regrouping after a physical first game against Ghana and an emotional tie against Portugal.

“This is the biggest game of a lot of our lives, so any fatigue in our legs will be erased,” said American midfielder Kyle Beckerman. “We’ve got to give everything we’ve got and more.”

Team USA began their World Cup run in the so-called “group of death,” but their aggression, attacks and overall stamina on the pitch have defied pundits who originally dismissed their chances of advancing.

“I think some people might be a little bit surprised at our results so far,” coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Wednesday. “We are by no means any underdog here in this tournament, but we know it’s the biggest hurdle we have to take now with Germany.”

Klinsman suggested that U.S. fans should take a day off work to watch the game, and wrote a letter to bosses asking them to excuse their employee’s absences, reports Reuters.

In the style of a ‘doctor’s note’, Klinsmann addresses employers and asks them to forgive their staff for their absence.

The letter was distributed on social networks by the U.S. Soccer.

“I understand that this absence may reduce the productivity of your workplace, but I can assure you that it is for an important cause,” wrote Klinsmann.

“The #USMNT (U.S. Men’s National Team) has a critical World Cup game vs Germany and we will need the full support of the nation if we are to advance to the next round.

“By the way, you should act like a good leader and take the day off as well. Go USA! Signed Jurgen Klinsmann, Head Coach, U.S. National team”.

And from Jake Simpson at the Atlantic: The Surprisingly High Stakes of the U.S.-Germany World Cup Game.

In the wake of the U.S. team’s heartbreaking come-from-ahead draw against Portugal in the World Cup on Sunday, soccer analysts and Twitter users scrambled to figure out the many ways the U.S. can still get to the next round. With a three-point lead over Portugal and Ghana in Group G, the Americans can advance even if they lose their match against Germany at noon Eastern today, depending on the outcome of the Portugal-Ghana game played at the same time. Deadspin has one of the better graphical breakdowns of every potential scenario for the U.S., including the dreaded drawing of lots.

All the focus on permutations and goal-differential scenarios has undercut the importance of today’s game for American soccer. There’s not as much at stake, goes the implication, because we can move ahead even if we lose to Germany. But this is about more than getting to the next round. This is an opportunity for the U.S. to face one of soccer’s elite teams on the biggest stage and prove it can hang with—even beat—any country in this World Cup.

Before the tournament, most people thought it would be an unlikely success for the U.S. just to get out of the so-called Group of Death and to the Round of 16. Now, after beating Ghana and dominating much of the game against Portugal, the U.S. can dream bigger. Beat Germany, and America wins its group for the second straight World Cup, a result nearly unthinkable when the draw was announced in December. Beat Germany, and the U.S. secures a favorable Round of 16 match most likely against Algeria or Russia, rather than a trickier faceoff with sneaky-good Belgium.

Just as important, a win would mean that the Americans have defeated one of soccer’s oligarchs at a World Cup, with both sides trying their best for a victory. That by itself would be a precedent-setting result.

People in Oklahoma are beginning to ask questions

about why their state has been having so many earthquakes all of a sudden, according to the Globe-Gazzette.com.

Barbara Brown poses for a photo on the front step of her home that now sits about one foot off the surface of her lawn, Saturday, June 21, 2014, in Reno, Texas.

Barbara Brown poses for a photo on the front step of her home that now sits about one foot off the surface of her lawn, Saturday, June 21, 2014, in Reno, Texas.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma residents whose homes and nerves have been shaken by an upsurge in earthquakes want to know what’s causing the temblors — and what can be done to stop them.

Hundreds of people are expected to turn out in Edmond, Oklahoma, on Thursday night for a town hall meeting on the issue.

Earthquakes used to be almost unheard of on the vast stretches of prairie that unfold across Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, but they’ve become common in recent years.

Oklahoma recorded nearly 150 between January and the start of May. Though most have been too weak to cause serious damage or endanger lives, they’ve raised suspicions that the shaking might be connected to the oil and gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, especially the wells in which the industry disposes of its wastewater.

Now after years of being harangued by anxious residents, governments in all three states are confronting the issue, reviewing scientific data, holding public discussions and considering new regulations. Thursday’s meeting in Oklahoma will include the state agency that regulates oil and gas drilling and the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

Gee, do you suppose it could have anything to do with fracking? And what about all that wastewater that has to be disposed of in the fracking process? From Techsonia: Fracking Fluid Spills release Colloids that Pollute Groundwater.

According to a new research, wastewater contains substances that bind to pollutants and their release in soil leads to the ground water contamination as they get along with the water when it is soaked by earth.

In this study, flowback fluid from hydraulic fracturing was analyzed. Colloids are the charged particles and larger than molecules and have the potency to bind to sand grains. With the wastewater, colloids get released in to the ground water.

This study was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and was conducted by the researchers at the Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

This study was done to determine the remaining colloids amounts in groundwater when the above soil got exposed to flowback fliud in a hydrofracking spills.

Ugh.

One last story . . .

Scientists have unearthed interesting facts about Oldest human faeces show Neanderthals ate vegetables.

Found at a dig in Spain, the ancient excrement showed chemical traces of both meat and plant digestion.

An earlier view of these early humans as purely meat-eating has already been partially discredited by plant remains found in their caves and teeth.

The new paper, in the journal PLOS One, claims to offer the best support to date for an omnivorous diet.

Poo is “the perfect evidence,” said Ms Ainara Sistiaga, a PhD student at the University of La Laguna on the Canary Islands, and the study’s first author, “because you’re sure it was consumed”.

Ms Sistiaga and her colleagues collected a number of samples from the remnants of a 50,000-year-old campfire in the El Salt dig site, a known Neanderthal habitation near Alicante on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.

So if you bought into the “cave man diet” AKA “Paleolithic diet” recommendations, you were scammed. These early Neanderthals even cooked vegetables and may have used plants for medicinal purposes. Read the whole article at the link. It’s fascinating.

Now . . . what stories are you following today? Are you going to watch the U.S.-Germany game? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread.

 


Wednesday News Headlines

Harvard_Square_Subway_Kiosk

Good Morning!!

 

This is going to be a brief open thread–just some headlines to get you started on the day. I apologize for not being able to write a full post. JJ is dealing with some urgent family problems, I’m at my mom’s house helping her get ready for several out-of-town guests, and Dakinikat is taking her pets to the vet. Dak and I will be around this afternoon.

So here’s what’s happening in the headlines this morning.

CNN: Syrian warplanes strike in Iraq, killing 57 civilians, official says.

BBC: Russian and Ukrainian media consider Putin step

An Arkansas GOP official said of Hillary Clinton: ‘She’d Probably Get Shot at the State Line’.

But the official, Johnny Rhoda, didn’t actually mean what he said as a threat.

And he claims his remarks were “taken way out of context,” because he was laughing when he said them.

Actor Eli Wallach has died: ‘Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ Star Eli Wallach Dies at 98 (Hollywood Reporter).

WaPo: Cochran beats McDaniel in nail-biter in Mississippi.

Mother Jones: A Mississippi Surprise: GOP Sen. Cochran Beats Back Tea Party Champion.

Dick Cheney just won’t go away. From the Hill, Cheney: Next attack ‘likely’ deadlier than 9/11.

CNN: FIFA starts disciplinary action against Luis Suarez after biting claims.

Reuters: New York Congressman Charles Rangel claims victory in Democratic primary.

Reuters: Seattle Archdiocese to pay $12 million to settle child sex abuse claims: lawyer.

What stories are you following today? Have a great “hump day,” Sky Dancers!


Tuesday Reads: Rocks and Hard Places.

Good Morning!

downloadSometimes I feel like things are just getting a lot more complex and time consuming than they should be.  I’ve found some interesting stories about people that have been caught up in what appears to be a very complicated and unfair system.  The first story is about the woman that was arrested for leaving her children in a car while trying to find a job.  She was in a set of circumstances that certainly had a large amount of rocks and hard places.

On the morning of March 20, Shanesha Taylor had a job interview. It was for a good job, one that could support her three children, unlike the many positions she’d applied for that paid only $10 an hour. The interview, at an insurance agency in Scottsdale, Ariz., went well. “Walking out of the office, you know that little skip thing people do?” she said, clicking her heels together in a corny expression of glee. “I wanted to do that.”

But as she left the building and walked through the parking lot, she saw police officers surrounding her car, its doors flung open and a crime-scene van parked nearby. All the triumphant buoyancy of the moment vanished, replaced by a hard, sudden knot of panic. Hours later, Ms. Taylor was posing for a mug shot, her face somber and composed, a rivulet of tears falling from each eye. A subsequent headline in The Huffington Post said it all: “Shanesha Taylor, Homeless Single Mom, Arrested After Leaving Kids in Car While on Job Interview.”

The article ricocheted across the Internet. Many viewed her story — that she, unable to find child care, had left her two sons, aged 6 months and 2 years, in her 2006 Dodge Durango while she went to a 70-minute job interview — as emblematic of the harsh realities of today’s economy, where jobs are scarce and well-paid ones even scarcer, and where desperate choices have become common. Certainly, many people could identify with the cruel math of Ms. Taylor’s pretrial report, which put her monthly income at $1,232 (including food stamps), while her monthly expenses totaled $1,274.

Ms. Taylor, 35, was charged with two counts of felony child abuse, and soon became the subject of syndicated columns calling her the “true face of poverty,” petitions asking the prosecutor to drop charges and a crowd-sourced fund-raising campaign that gathered $115,000. After 10 days in jail, she was freed after strangers paid her $9,000 bail. Her story was featured on the “Today” show; her lawyer was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly. Then came the backlash, as critics contended that a woman who had put her children in peril was being made into a hero. Bill Montgomery, the Maricopa County attorney, contradicted news reports that Ms. Taylor was homeless and unemployed, saying she was actually neither. Her children — she also has a 9-year-old daughter who was in school at the time of the job interview — were removed from her custody.

All at once, Ms. Taylor had become a symbol of both economic desperation and shirked responsibility. Her story became fodder for polemic and preaching. But until a recent interview with The New York Times in a conference room at the office of her lawyer, Benjamin P. Taylor II (no relation), she had not spoken publicly.

You may read more about her story at the link.

Charlie Rangel’s frustration with the gridlock in Congress and the flair up in racially-based politics has lead to an interesting set of comments about pols rock-and-a-hard-placefrom slaveholder states.  The congressman can’t imagine being a politician that would screw over his own voting base just to get back at a President.

New York Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel, locked in a contentious primary battle, suggested in an interview that aired Monday that the level of Republican opposition to President Barack Obama is partly due to race.

When asked by MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt whether GOP opposition to the president is “based on race,” Rangel paused and said, “You know, that’s a subjective question. But, let me say this: Are most of the states that they represent, are they in the Confederate states that fought the Union? Were they slaveholder states? And when they come to Washington, do you see more Confederate flags than American flags?

Rangel, an 84-year-old, African-American congressman who has served in Congress for more than four decades, added that he thought some Republicans were willing to hurt themselves politically by opposing the Obama administration’s domestic agenda just to attack him.

“Who would hurt their own people — in terms of cutting off health, job opportunity, food stamps — to get after this president? It takes a lot of hatred to hurt yourself just to embarrass the president. So, I’m trying to think with the tea party — and basically what they have said and what their spokespeople have said — this would not be the same if the president was not of color,” he said.

Rangel’s comments come after Sen. Jay Rockefeller last month said that Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act was motivated in part by race. The retiring West Virginia Democrat said that some in the GOP don’t want the implementation of the health law to succeed because they don’t personally like the president and maybe he’s of the wrong color.”

The student waits to be rescued from the giant vagina sculptureBefore going too far into other things, I’d like to show you something funny that really inspired me to this theme.  A US student had to be rescued from a statue that basically was a huge stone vagina.  He got stuck and had to be dislodged.

On Friday afternoon, a young American in Tübingen had to be rescued by 22 firefighters after getting trapped inside a giantsculpture of a vagina. TheChacán-Pi (Making Love) artwork by the Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara has been outside Tübingen University’s institute for microbiology and virology since 2001 and had previously mainly attracted juvenile sniggers rather than adventurous explorers.

According to De la Jara, the 32-ton sculpture made out of red Veronese marble is meant to signify “the gateway to the world”.

Police confirmed that the firefighters turned midwives delivered the student “by hand and without the application of tools”.

I wonder if he had one of those epiphanies that are supposed to come with a rebirthing exercise?

The White House had a summit yesterday on Working Families.  It’s still difficult to hold down a challenging, poorly paying job in the US at nearly every level of responsibility and raise a family.  Here’s a list of the administration’s priorities.  Notice that we’re one of the few countries in the world does not have paid pregnancy leave yet.

Supporting the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. While the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 took a crucial step toward protecting pregnant workers, too many women still face discrimination in the workplace and a serious and unmet need for reasonable accommodations that would allow them to keep working while they are pregnant. For that reason, President Obama will urge Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would require employers to make reasonable accommodations to workers who have limitations from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions (unless it would impose an undue hardship on the employer). The legislation also would prohibit employers from forcing pregnant employees to take paid or unpaid leave if a reasonable accommodation would allow them to work.

Empowering Pregnant Workers with Better Information About Their Rights. At the President’s direction, DOL will release a new online map that will be a one-stop shop where working families can learn about the rights of pregnant workers in each state. The map will also allow families to see which states are leading the charge in protecting their rights and which are lagging behind. This live map will continue to reflect any future changes in state and federal policy.

0b6d9bcOther priorities include supporting nontraditional families.  It’s amazing that after so many years of women being an important part of the work force that we still struggle for family friendly policies.

Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and other top administration officials took turns telling their personal stories about the struggle to balance work and family at a campaign-style “summit” stacked with cheering Democratic supporters at a posh Washington hotel.

“I remember taking the night shift when Malia was born and when Sasha was born and being up at two in the morning and changing diapers and burping them and singing to them,” Obama said, talking about his daughters, who are now teenagers.

“The point is, I was lucky enough to be able to take some time off,” he said. “I want every father and every child to have that opportunity.”

Obama issued an order requiring federal agency heads to expand flexible workplace policies as much as possible. The goal is to make it easier for parents or workers to take care of family needs and to enable more people to find and keep jobs.

Praising businesses that have taken similar steps, Obama said family leave should be available across the country.

It’s nice to know at least one President that fesses up to changing his children’s diapers and considers spending time with them to be “parenting” and not “baby sitting”.

Another issue that puts women in hard place is being open about their sexuality.  

Sandra Fluke heard it when she talked about insurance coverage for birth control. Sara Brown from Boston told me she was first called it at a pool party in the fifth grade because she was wearing a bikini. Courtney Caldwell in Dallas said she was tagged with it after being sexually assaulted as a freshman in high school.

Many women I asked even said that it was not having sex that inspired a young man to start rumors that they were one.

And this is what is so confounding about the word “slut”: it’s arguably the most ubiquitous slur used against women, and yet it’s nearly impossible to define.

The one thing we do know about “slut” is that it’s the last thing a woman should want to be. Society is so concerned over women and girls’ potential for promiscuity that we create  dress codesschool curricula,even legislation around protecting women’s  supposed purity. Conservative columnists opine that women having sex is tantamount to a “mental health crisis”, and magazine stories wonder if we’re raising  a generation of “prosti-tots”.

Leora Tanenbaum, the author of  SLUT! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation, told me that “a ‘slut’ is a girl or woman who deviates from norms of femininity. The ‘slut’ is not necessarily sexually active – she just doesn’t follow the gender script.”

This nebulous, unquantifiable quality of the slur is what makes it so distressing – there’s no way to disprove something that has no conclusive boundaries to begin with. And because it’s meant to be more of an identity than a label, it’s a term not easily shaken off. “Slut” sticks to a person in a way that “asshole” never will.

So what makes you a slut? It seems the the only hard and fast rule is that you have to be a woman.

So, have you found yourself between a rock and a hard place recently?  What’s on your reading and blogging list this morning?


Monday Reads

childe-hassam-french tea garden 1910

 

Good Morning!!

 

Things are not going well in Iraq, to put it mildly. John Kerry arrived in Iraq this morning and is currently meeting with Iraqi leaders, according to CNN: John Kerry holds talks in Iraq as more cities fall to ISIS militants.

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) — As radical Sunni militants snatch city after city in their march toward Baghdad, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Iraq on Monday during the country’s tensest time since the U.S. withdrawal of troops in 2011.

Kerry is meeting with Iraqi leaders. He met Monday with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the man who some observers say needs to step down.

With al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government losing more ground to militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, Kerry has implored the leader to rise above “sectarian motivations” to become more inclusive and make the government more representative of Iraq’s population.

“I’m here to convey to you President Obama’s and the American people’s commitment to help Iraq,” Kerry said when greeting Iraq’s speaker of parliament, Osama al-Nujayfi. “The principal concern is the integrity of the country, its borders, its sovereignty,” he said. ISIS “is a threat to all of us.”

Kerry will also meet with Iraq’s foreign minister as well as Shiite and Sunni leaders.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and US Secretary of State John Kerry meet at the Prime Minister's Office in Baghdad. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and US Secretary of State John Kerry meet at the Prime Minister’s Office in Baghdad. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The discussions with the Maliki government are not likely to be particularly congenial. According to NPR:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Baghdad on Monday to personally urge the Shiite-led government to give more power to political opponents before a Sunni insurgency seizes more control across the country and sweeps away hopes for lasting peace.

The meeting scheduled between Kerry and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was not expected to be friendly, given that officials in Washington have floated suggestions that the Iraqi premier should resign as a necessary first step toward quelling the vicious uprising. Nor will it likely bring any immediate, tangible results, as al-Maliki has shown no sign of leaving and Iraqi officials have long listened to — but ultimately ignored — U.S. advice to avoid appearing controlled by the decade-old specter of an American occupation in Baghdad.

Still, having suffered together through more than eight years of war — which killed nearly 4,500 American troops and more than 100,000 Iraqis — the two wary allies are unwilling to turn away from the very real prospect of the Mideast nation falling into a fresh bout of sectarian strife.

“This is a critical moment where, together, we must urge Iraq’s leaders to rise above sectarian motivations and form a government that is united in its determination to meet the needs and speak to the demands of all of their people,” Kerry said a day earlier in Cairo. He was there in part to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to and discuss a regional solution to end the bloodshed by the insurgent Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

Good luck with that. I wish Hillary were still in charge at State.

From Jay Solomon at The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Faces Opposing Regional Interests in Bid to Blunt Insurgency in Iraq.

AMMAN, Jordan—As the Obama administration’s top diplomat arrived in the Middle East to gather support to blunt a Sunni insurgency in Iraq, the U.S. was colliding with the region’s ethnic, tribal and sectarian divisions.

Deep gaps between U.S. and Arab views over the crisis have grown more obvious in recent days, say American and regional officials, hampering Washington’s response to the onslaught by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, which this month seized control of territories straddling Iraq and Syria.

The task gained new urgency on Sunday when ISIS swept through new Iraq towns and overran two border crossings with Jordan and Syria, blocking the Iraqi government’s access to its western frontier, security officials said.

President Barack Obama raised the stakes on Sunday, telling CBS News that ISIS threatens American interests if it turns to global terrorism, two days after he announced plans to send U.S. military advisers and supplies to Iraq and called for a new, more inclusive government in Baghdad.

The crisis in Iraq has exposed contradictions in traditional Mideast alliances, in some ways placing the U.S. alongside its sworn enemy, Shiite-ruled Iran, in a joint effort to halt ISIS, while in other ways putting Washington at odds with longtime Sunni allies in the Persian Gulf, who want to weaken Iran’s sway over Iraq.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei in 2009

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei in 2009

Meanwhile, yesterday, according to Reuters:

Iran’s supreme leader accused the United States on Sunday of trying to retake control of Iraq by exploiting sectarian rivalries, as Sunni insurgents drove towards Baghdad from new strongholds along the Syrian border.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s condemnation of U.S. action came three days after President Barack Obama offered to send 300 military advisers to help the Iraqi government. Khamenei may want to block any U.S. choice of a new prime minister after grumbling in Washington about Shi’ite premier Nuri al-Maliki.

The supreme leader did not mention the Iranian president’s recent suggestion of cooperation with Shi’ite Tehran’s old U.S. adversary in defense of their mutual ally in Baghdad.

On Sunday, militants overran a second frontier post on the Syrian border, extending two weeks of swift territorial gains as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) pursues the goal of its own power base, a “caliphate” straddling both countries that has raised alarm across the Middle East and in the West.

“We are strongly opposed to U.S. and other intervention in Iraq,” IRNA news agency quoted Khamenei as saying. “We don’t approve of it as we believe the Iraqi government, nation and religious authorities are capable of ending the sedition.”

Will we ever be rid of these insane wars started by Dick Cheney and his puppet George W. Bush? At least Bush has the decency to keep quiet, but Cheney just won’t shut up even though he has no answers for the current crisis. From Raw Story: Dick Cheney doesn’t ‘intend any disrespect’ by suggesting Obama ‘guilty of treason’

Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday insisted that he did not “intend any disrespect” when he suggested that President Barack Obama was guilty of treason by trying to undermine the United States before leaving office.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week, Cheney — and his daughter Liz — said that the president was “determined to leave office ensuring he has taken America down a notch.”

He went on to suggest that Obama was a “fool” if he intended to work with Iran to prevent violence in Iraq.

“In this op-ed, you suggest the president is a fool,” ABC’s Jonathan Karl pointed out during a Sunday interview with Cheney. “That is the word you used, ‘only a fool would take the approach he’s taking in Iraq right now.’”

“It almost seems like you’re accusing the president of treason, that he’s intentionally bringing America ‘down a notch,’” Karl noted.

Cheney did not deny that he had accused the commander-in-chief of the United States of treason, but he insisted that he had not just called Obama a “fool” over the violence in Iraq.

“It referred to the fact that we’ve left a big vacuum in the Middle East by our withdrawal from Iraq with a no stay-behind agreement,” the former vice president said. “By the commitment that he made just a few weeks ago, that we are going to completely withdraw from Afghanistan with a no stay-behind agreement.”

See also, Dick Cheney’s amazing chutzpah on Iraq, by Paul Waldman (CNN)

Cheney needs to STFU and go on a hunting trip or something. Maybe he could take Tony Scalia with him.

 

In other news . . .

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Right wing nut and birther Ed Klein has a new Hillary hate book out, and the New York Post has been publishing laughable excerpts. The trouble is, the wingnuts will believe the lies and the media won’t counter them. Be sure to read what Joseph Cannon has to say about the De-KLEIN of journalism.

Why does anyone still print or read right-wing pseudojournalist Edward Klein?

A while back, this fictioneer published a book alleging a lesbian relationship between Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin — a work which one critic called “the sleaziest, most derivative, most despicable political biography ever.” Klein’s revelations always come from anonymous “informants” — one of whom, I’ve heard, is Slender Man.

Klein has a new book out and the NY Post is pushing it, even though the folks running the NY Post must know that they’re peddling garbage….

Anyone who takes this nonsense seriously must also believe that wrestling is real. Nevertheless, the right-wing propagandists are pretending to accept Klein’s work at face value. (See also here, especially the telling piece of “Hildebeest” research.)

This is a horrible story from the AP via Fox News: Researchers discover mass graves with bodies of immigrants in South Texas cemetery.

Volunteer researchers have uncovered mass graves in a South Texas cemetery that they believe contain the bodies of immigrants who died crossing into the U.S. illegally, according to published reports Saturday.

The discovery at Sacred Heart Burial Park in Falfurrias came in the last two weeks, as Baylor University anthropologist Lori Baker and Krista Latham, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Indianapolis, and their students worked as part of a multi-year effort to identify immigrants who’ve died in the area near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Teams unearthed remains in trash bags, shopping bags, body bags or without a container at all, according to the Corpus Christi Caller Times (http://bit.ly/1qqH7CZ ). In one burial, bones of three bodies were inside one body bag. In another, at least five people in body bags and smaller plastic bags were piled on top of each other. Skulls also were found in biohazard bags placed between coffins.

They exhumed 110 unidentified people from the cemetery in 2013. This summer, researchers have performed 52 exhumations, but because some remains were stored together, further study will be needed to determine exactly how many bodies have been recovered, Baker said.

These people just suddenly dropped dead as they crossed the border? Apparently this is the work of a local funeral home, Funeraria del Angel Howard-Williams, which the state has been paying $450 each to deal with bodies of immigrants that have been discovered all over Texas. The funeral home has been paid for this service for at least 16 and as long as 22 years! Were there any autopsies? Did anyone determine whether any of these deaths were homicides?

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We haven’t heard much about Bowe Bergdhal lately. Via The Boston Globe, the AP reports this morning that he has been “Shifted to Outpatient Care.”

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been a prisoner of war in Afghanistan for five years, has been shifted to outpatient care at a Texas military base, the U.S. Army said in a statement Sunday.

Bergdahl, 28, had been receiving inpatient treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston. He is now receiving outpatient care on the base in San Antonio, according to the statement. The Army said his ‘‘reintegration process’’ is proceeding with exposure to more people and a gradual increase in social interaction.

He arrived at the Texas medical center on June 13 after nearly two weeks recuperating at a U.S. military hospital in Germany. Army officials said then that Bergdahl was in stable condition and was working daily with health care providers to regain a sense of normalcy and move forward with his life.

The Army statement Sunday said Bergdahl is receiving counseling from ‘‘Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape’’ psychologists’’ to ‘‘continue to ensure he progresses to the point where he can return to duty.’’

The Army said specifics of Bergdahl’s location would not be made public.

That’s it for me for today, except that I’ve become a World cup fan and I might even watch some of the games the US team isn’t participating in. Ralph’s enthusiasm has sucked me in!

What stories are you following today? Please let us know in the comment thread.