Thursday Reads

Matisse-Marguerite-Reading1

Good Morning!!

I’m getting  slow start this morning after rereading some of yesterday’s morning thread and seeing Fannie’s and Beata’s comments. Life is such a mystery . . . it often seems sad and even meaningless. And yet life is wonderful and beautiful too.

I don’t even know how to express what I’m feeling right now. I just want to thank all of you for being here. When I get discouraged and disgusted with our politics and the behavior of some of my fellow humans, it helps me to share my feelings with you and to get your reactions.

Now let’s see what’s in the news this morning.

Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison yesterday. But with good behavior he could be released in as little as 7 years. Charlie Savage and Emmarie Huetteman at The New York Times:

In a two-minute hearing on Wednesday morning, the judge, Col. Denise R. Lind of the Army, also said that Private Manning would be dishonorably discharged and reduced in rank from private first class to private, the lowest rank in the military. She said he would forfeit his pay, but she did not impose a fine.

Before the sentencing, Private Manning sat leaning forward with his hands folded, whispering to his lawyer, David Coombs. His aunt and two cousins sat quietly behind him. As Colonel Lind read the sentence, Private Manning stood, showing no expression. He did not make a statement.

The materials that Private Manning gave to WikiLeaks included a video taken during an American helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 in which civilians were killed, including two journalists. He also gave WikiLeaks some 250,000 diplomatic cables, dossiers of detainees being imprisoned without trial at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and hundreds of thousands of incident reports from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan….

Mr. Coombs later told reporters that he would apply for a presidential pardon next week and read a statement from Private Manning that he said would be included in his request.

“I only wanted to help people,” Private Manning’s statement said, adding, “If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society.”

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Army shows Pfc. Bradley Manning posing in a wig and lipstick.

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Army shows Pfc. Bradley Manning posing in a wig and lipstick.

Manning has expressed the desire to live as a woman, and although he may not be able to get hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery while he is in military prison, he has announced that he is now Chelsea Manning. From Joe Coscarelli at New York Magazine: Bradley Manning’s Long, Painful Road to Coming Out As Transgender.

Less than a day after being sentenced to 35 years in prison for passing classified U.S. documents to WikiLeaks, Army private Bradley Manning has a huge, if not exactly surprisingly, announcement: “I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” the 25-year-old wrote in a statement to Today. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun.”

But the transition has colored much of Manning’s life for many years and factors heavily into how she became one of the most notable leakers in American history. Even if much of the world is only now paying attention to Manning’s gender-questioning, it’s always been a part of her story.

Manning’s full letter is titled “The Next Stage of My Life” and has notes of relief, her trial and sentencing finally complete after three years. “As I transition into this next phase of my life,” Manning wrote, “I want everyone to know the real me.”

Manning was wrestling with her sexual orientation while serving in Iraq and when she got involved with WikiLeaks. As reported by Steve Fishman in a July 2011 issue of New York, “Among fellow soldiers, Manning had to conceal the basic facts of his sexual orientation. On the web, he was proudly out and joined a ‘Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ group. He’d even begun to explore switching his gender, chatting with a counselor about the steps a person takes to transition from male to female.”

Manning will probably be in her early 30s when she is released from prison; so she’ll still have a long and probably interesting life ahead of her when that time comes.

Chris Lane

Chris Lane

Australians are calling for a boycott of U.S. travel after the senseless shooting of young Australian college student Chris Lane in Oklahoma. CNN:

The indiscriminate shooting of Christopher Lane, a 23-year-old Australian who was living his dream of studying in the United States on a baseball scholarship, has repulsed many in his home country and led to calls for Australian tourists to boycott the United States.

“It is another example of murder mayhem on Main Street,” former Australian deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer told CNN’s Piers Morgan.

“People thinking of going to the USA for business or tourist trips should think carefully about it given the statistical fact you are 15 times more likely to be shot dead in the USA than in Australia per capita per million people.”

Police said Lane was on one of his regular runs through what has been described as the affluent town of Duncan on Friday about 3 p.m. when a car carrying three teenagers drove up behind him.

“They pulled up behind him and shot him in the back, then sped away,” said Capt. Jay Evans of the Duncan Police Department. “It could have been anybody — it was such a random act.”

Here’s a long article about the shooting from new.com.au: Chilling 911 call details final moments of Melbourne baseballer Chris Lane’s life.

What a heartbreaking story.

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The states of Arizona and Kansas have followed a suggestion from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, according to TPM: Accepting Scalia’s Offer, Arizona Sues Obama Administration On Voting Rights.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, was announced by Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett, and joined by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a high-profile architect of restrictionist laws, including Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070.

The issue involves the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, also known as the “motor voter” law, which requires states to let people register to vote simply by attesting they are citizens, when renewing their driver’s license or applying for social services. A 2004 law adopted by the voters in Arizona added the requirement that people registering to vote also provide proof of citizenship. The Supreme Court struck down that law earlier this year, concluding that it is trumped by the motor voter law. Arizona, the court ruled, could not add new requirements to the form prescribed by the federal law.

But during oral arguments in March, Scalia expressed his bafflement that Arizona did not launch a broader assault on the constitutionality of the NVRA form, written by the Election Assistance Commission. The state simply contended in that case that its proof of citizenship law did not violate the federal law. Even Scalia disagreed with that, voting against Arizona in the ruling, but also giving them a valuable tip in his 7-2 majority opinion.

“We hold that [the NVRA] precludes Arizona from requiring a Federal Form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself,” Scalia wrote in the June decision. “Arizona may, however, request anew that the EAC include such a requirement among the Federal Form’s state-specific instructions, and may seek judicial review of the EAC’s decision under the Administrative Procedure Act.”

Sigh . . . read more at the link.

Bobby Jindal

According to a new PPP poll, only 28 percent of Louisiana voters still think Governor Bobby Jindal is doing a good job.

Three years ago in August PPP declared Bobby Jindal to be the most popular Governor in the country. 58% of voters approved of him to only 34% who disapproved. Jindal’s fortunes have seen an amazing shift since that time though, and our newest poll finds him to be the most unpopular Republican Governor of any state- and the second most unpopular Governor in the country overall.

Just 28% of voters now approve of Jindal to 59% who disapprove.  That’s an 11 point decline in his net approval just since February when he was already at a poor 37/57 standing. Even Republicans are pretty divided on Jindal (43/42) while independents (35/45) and Democrats (14/78) generally give him poor marks.

Jindal’s White House prospects are dismal if his home state voters have anything to say about it. Just 17% of Louisianans think he should run for President in 2016 to 72% who believe he should sit it out. He ties for 4th among Republican primary voters as their top choice for their 2016 candidate- Rand Paul leads with 18% to 17% for Jeb Bush, 11% for Paul Ryan, 10% for Jindal and Chris Christie, 8% for Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, 5% for Rick Santorum, and less than 1% for Susana Martinez. (That’s also an embarrassingly poor showing for Santorum given that he easily won the state’s primary last year.)

Jindal wouldn’t be likely to get to a general election but the news for him there is bad too- he trails Hillary Clinton 47/40 in a hypothetical match up. Every other Republican we looked at is more competitive with Clinton in the state- Ryan leads her 46/44, Paul does 45/44, Bush ties her at 44 each, and she leads Christie just 42/41. It looks like Clinton would have a chance to make Louisiana unusually competitive in any instance, but particularly so against Jindal.

It’s difficult to believe that Jindal is polling that well against Hillary.

A few more short takes:

A new article in LA Weekly offers some startling revelations about Michael Hastings’ state of mind before he was killed in a one-car crash: Michael Hastings’ Dangerous Mind: Journalistic Star Was Loved, Feared and Haunted. Based on a friend’s descriptions of Hastings’ behavior, it sounds like he was so severely depressed that he was delusional.

From The A Register, speculations based on The Guardian’s bizarre claims that British intelligence agents forced them to destroy computers that contained U.S. secrets stolen by Edward Snowden: MYSTERY of Guardian mobos and graphics cards which ‘held Snowden files’

A funny Buzzfeed list (with gifs) contributed by Marc Ambinder: 12 Ways To Easily Identify An East Coast Transplant In LA.

A very weird story that demonstrates the institutional stupidity of the Federal Bureau of Investigation: FBI suspected William Vollmann was the Unabomber.

A fascinating story at Defense One: Area 51 Has Been Hiding U-2 Spy Planes, Not UFOs

Finally, our old friend David Sirota really outdid himself yesterday with this story at Salon: This cowardly silence is an act of war, in which he claims that President Obama’s failure to object to the UK detaining Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda at Heathrow Airport is a crime against humanity . . . or something.

Now it’s your turn. What stories are you focusing on today? Please share your links in the comment thread.


Late Night Round Up…Frozen Buildings and Spitting Camels

image565441g_5546Good Evening

Sitting here watching Road to Morocco with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour…and enjoying it thoroughly.  Edith Head did the dresses and they are beautiful.

Anyway, just a few things for you tonight, and since I am still suffering from serious political affected disorder…the links will be sparse.

Actually, I should call it political aversion disorder. After seeing some of the crap the right-wing talking heads have said about Hillary Clinton, this evening of laughs is a welcomed treat.

John McCain was on Fox News this morning, opening his mouth and spewing ridiculous comments…according to the Maddow Blog:  The pot accuses the kettle of having an ‘adoring media’

…this was the key quote:

“[Clinton] obviously has an adoring media. She really didn’t answer any questions. Her response to Senator Johnson about whether it was a spontaneous demonstration or not, saying it ‘didn’t matter.’ It ‘didn’t matter’ how these people died? That was stunning. That was really stunning. Of course it matters. It matters for a whole lot of reasons, including to the families and Americans, because the American people deserve to be told the truth and they were not told the truth.”

Clinton never said it “didn’t matter” how the four Americans were killed. She said the opposite.

As was obvious to anyone paying attention, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) was preoccupied with preliminary intelligence reports about a possible protest in Benghazi and Clinton said that was irrelevant as compared to the death of four Americans — and she was correct.

If McCain found this too confusing to understand, perhaps the Senate Foreign Relations Committee isn’t the best place for him to serve.

What’s more, Clinton has “an adoring media”? This from a man who spends so much time on the Sunday shows that he has his mail forwarded to green rooms? This from a senator who’s so adored by the D.C. political establishment that he’s considered reporters his base?

You want another WTF reaction to Clinton…of course it is a Fox and Friend giving it up…Brian Kilmeade: Hillary Clinton used ‘Lance Armstrong principle’ by yelling in Senate hearing

“This is the Lance Armstrong principle of when you’re in trouble, yell at the person asking you a question,” Kilmeade declared. “That’s the way that he kept everybody off of him for 15 years. And believe me, that’s what I thought of right away because when she gets angry, you do not want to be in her crosshairs.”

“But the fact is that everyone is looking at the fact that she got angry and thinking, wow, she looks good,” the Fox News host continued to rant. “But her words absolutely defy the logic behind the whole reason for the hearing.”

Video at the link.
Juan Cole has a handy list at Alternet: Top Ten Republican Myths on Benghazi that Justify Hillary Clinton’s Anger   Go and check those out…
Just a couple of more links for you…Spain’s unemployment is frightening. Spain’s unemployment rate reaches record high

Spain’s unemployment rate jumped to the highest in 36 years with the rate expected to continue escalating [AFP]

Spain’s unemployment rate has surged to a modern-day record of 26.02 percent in the final quarter of 2012 as nearly six
million people searched in vain for work in a biting recession, official data shows.

The jobless rate data released on Thursday climbed from 25.02 percent the previous quarter, reaching the highest level since Spain returned to democracy after the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975.

The story for young people was even grimmer: the unemployment rate for those aged 16 to 24 soared to 55.13 percent, up from 52.34 percent the previous quarter.

The result shattered even the modest expectations of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government, which had been forecasting an unemployment rate of 24.6 percent by the end of 2012.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for those young people in Spain…I see what it is like here in the US and unemployment is nowhere near 55.13 percent.
Lately, we have seen a lot of assholes and dicks parading across the cable news screens, and they are not funny…but this bit of dickness from Australia is a laugh: Australia bans ad with Barbara Bush look-alike: ‘There’s only one Dick I’ll be eating with my green coffee

According to ad creator Dan Ilic, Dick Smith foods had planned to run over $100,000 in advertising on Saturday’s Australia Day, but it was given a PG rating because of a scene showing refugees escaping from a burning boat to enjoy Dick Smith’s OzEmite, an alternative to the Vegemite product marketed by American-owned Kraft Foods.

But for many, it will be the barrage of penis innuendos like “I love Dick” that raise eyebrows.

“This is as wrong as a dead dingo’s donger,” Smith says in the advertisement, referring to “false patriotism” in competing food commercials.

“There’s a quick and easy solution to this,” the blog dlisted explained on Thursday. “They should just edit the commercial all the way down and only show the true star, the Barbara Bush-looking memaw who says, ‘There’s only one Dick I’ll be eating on Australia Day.’ She’s at the 0:20 mark and she delivers her line like a memaw who knows her Dicks.”

Got another cool link for you, take a look at these pictures of a frozen building:  In pictures: Ice covers Chicago warehouse after fire

Crane in front of ice covered building

I will end this post with a clip from the movie, Road to Morocco.

The scene where the camel spits in Turkey’s (Bob Hope‘s) face wasn’t planned. The camel did it of its own accord while the cameras were rolling, and Hope’s recoil and Bing Crosby‘s reaction were so funny that it was left in the final cut of the film.

This is an open thread!


Friday Morning Reads: Let’s hear it for the girls!

Good Morning!

Well, after an intense VEEP debate last night, I’d like to focus on topics related to something I care about.   So, I’ll let Kirk over there phone in the political news,

I deeply care about the future of the world’s girls.This week, we celebrated the first day specifically for girls. Here are some updates on some of the challenges that girls around the globe face. There are many.

One of the most horrifying futures for girls in many countries is becoming a child bride.  I’ve written about this before since seeing a Maria Hinojosa special on PBS called “Child Brides, Stolen Lives”. This was in 2007. I’m proud that our SOS Hillary Clinton has made ending  this a priority for the US.

Part of Clinton’s initiative includes tackling these core causes through education, underscoring a study that reveals that girls with a secondary level education are six times less likely to marry as children.

Some of the steps to empower girls through education include a $15 million initiative through nonprofit USAID and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) tackling cost and safety issues that prevent girls reaching post-primary schooling.

Clinton’s plan also includes tracking every country’s legal minimum age of marriage, providing more training for consular staff to respond to child marriage cases and specifically tackling child marriage in Bangladesh. Here, a pilot program will promote sensitivity through the government, media and other outlets.

Within the private portion of Clinton’s plan, the Ford Foundation also launched a five-year $25 million commitment to end child marriage by pushing local governments to fight child marriage, fund new research on interventions and work to expand girls’ rights.

Here’s some updated information from CARE.

“Child marriage is a violation of human rights whether it happens to a girl or a boy, but it represents perhaps the most prevalent form of sexual abuse and exploitation of girls,” says UNICEF – Child Protection Information Sheet. “The harmful consequences include separation from family and friends, lack of freedom to interact with peers and participate in community activities, and decreased opportunities for education. Child marriage can also result in bonded labour or enslavement, commercial sexual exploitation and violence against the victims,” continues UNICEF.

Advocates say early marriage can be devastating to young girls who do not have the ability to stop inequalities in marriage. Lack of safety and personal power to stop forced sexual activity in marriage can also place young girls in dangers to exposures with HIV/AIDS. Girls who marry early are also more likely to skip school or discontinue their education all together.

“By forcing a child into premature adulthood, early marriage thwarts her chances at education, endangers her health and cuts short her personal growth and development,” says CARE’s “From Aid to Impact” action report. “Maternal health risks are particularly troubling as risk of death in pregnancy and delivery for girls under the age of 15 is five times higher than for women in their 20s,” added CARE.

But can we change conditions for girls who face early marriage? Advocates say YES.

“That’s what we need to commit to: to end child marriage by 2030,” said Mary Robinson, former United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights and one of the global human rights leaders known as The Elders, in a recent October 4, 2012 Google+ Hangout (sponsored by The Elders).

I learned about The Elders from a wonderful TV program on Jane Goodall called “Jane’s Journey” on Animal Planet. Jane has started working with children in a program all over the world called “Shoots and Roots” that is absolutely amazing. It works closely with The Elders.

Goodall’s life and her efforts to save the communities of chimps she first encountered decades ago are front and center in the TV premiere of “Jane’s Journey” at 8 p.m. Tuesday on Animal Planet

She’s behind some of the latest discoveries, like the raising of twin chimps to adulthood and the ability to determine a wild paternity.

Goodall said about 20 years ago that she had figured out the best way to save the chimps would be to help people who live on the land.

“When we talked to the village elders, they told us they wanted better health facilities and education for their children.”

In return, villagers — now living better lives — have turned their attention to preserving at least some of the jungles where the apes live.

But the effort has taken years for Goodall and an army of like-minded individuals to build infrastructure and promote sustainable livelihoods — like growing and exporting coffee.

Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots program is one of those programs that simply amazes me.  Again, I learned about it last week when the program aired.

Roots creep underground everywhere and make a firm foundation. Shoots seem very weak, but to reach the light, they can break open brick walls. Imagine that the brick walls are all the problems we have inflicted on our planet. Hundreds of thousands of roots & shoots, hundreds of thousands of young people around the world, can break through these walls. We CAN change the world.
- Dr. Jane

You should watch the Goodall program, the Hinojosa program, and the PBS program “Half the Sky”--promoted by Mona last weekend on Saturday–if you care about girls and boys all over the world.  We’ve promoted the Somaly Mam program for some time on this blog. Her story and the other women’s stories are so inspiring as is the work they do.

Somaly Mam was born in an ethnic minority community in Cambodia’s Mondulkiri province, and grew up as an orphan living in extreme poverty. A man posing as her grandfather sold Somaly as a young girl into sexual slavery.

Forced to work in a brothel, Somaly was repeatedly tortured and raped. One night, she was made to watch as her best friend was murdered. Fearing she would also be killed, Somaly escaped her captors and set about building a new life for herself. She vowed never to forget those left behind and has since dedicated her life to saving victims and empowering survivors.

In 1996, Somaly established a Cambodian non-governmental organization called AFESIP (Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Précaire), and in 2007 launched theSomaly Mam Foundation.

She quickly gained international attention for her anti-trafficking efforts, and is the recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation and Glamour Magazine’s 2006 Woman of the Year Award. She was featured as a CNN Hero and named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009.

Somaly was also featured in the film Not My Life, an unflinching documentary depicting the horrors of modern slavery on a global scale, which released in 2011.

So, instead of watching something that is meaningless this weekend, please, take time to learn about the life of girls around the world. There are some really inspiring programs that you can learn about in the links that I’ve provided for you this morning.

I wanted to update you on Malala–a young girl who just wants to go to school in Pakistan–who JJ covered in her news post earlier this week.  She has been shifted to AFIC Rawalpindi in serious condition.

The doctors had conducted surgery on Malala’s head and neck to remove a bullet on Wednesday. They advised complete rest for her in the hospital. Col Dr Junaid, who handled the 14-year-old Malala from the first day after she was shifted to the CMH from Swat, told this correspondent outside the ICU where she was fighting for life, that it was now the unanimous decision of the doctors to transfer her to AFIC Rawalpindi for better care.

“A joint team of doctors from the Pakistan Army and civilians held a meeting and found that the surgery done on Malala in Peshawar was outstanding but felt that she now needed better care. The team said the AFIC was a better place for post-operative care for patients suffering from trauma and head injuries,” Col Dr Junaid said.

He said the two British doctors also expressed satisfaction on Malala’s surgery and congratulated the Pakistani neurosurgeons for doing such an excellent job with limited resources.He said Malala would remain at the paediatric unit of AFIC where foreign doctors would assist Pakistani doctors in her treatment.

Before Malala’s shifting, extraordinary security measures were made in and outside the CMH and the Pakistan Army commandos were seen escorting a brief motorcade of two ambulances and military vehicles.

Malalal’s father Ziauddin Yousafzai, her mother and close relatives and Dr Junaid accompanied her in the military helicopter.Though worried for his patient, Col Dr Junaid said he was optimistic she would recover soon. “It’s a critical injury. We are keeping her on a ventilator,” he said. Asked as to when she would regain consciousness, he said it would require at least 15 days.

The military sources, however, said the decision to shift her to AFIC was taken on the advice of two British doctors called for Malala’s treatment. One of them was identified as Dr Fiona and the other her Pakistan-born husband. The couple visited Malala at the CMH and advised her shifting to the AFIC.

“Fiona has experience in post-operative care in neuro-surgery and head injuries. She and her husband offered their services to Malala and agreed to attend to her if she is taken to the AFIC,” the officials said.

Yesterday in Peshwar, the ruling Awami National Party (ANP) staged a protest rally to condemn the recent attack on Malala Yousafzai and the two other school students in Swat.  People in Pakistan have been outraged at the attack on the young teen.

Speaking on the occasion, Bashir Bilour termed Malala Yousafzai an icon of peace, education and prosperity. He said the bold and courageous girl had even spoken against the militants when they wielded power in Swat. “The militants have shown their cowardice by targeting an innocent teenaged girl,” he said and added that neither the Muslims nor the Pakhtuns could even think of attacking women and children. “The militants cannot stop us from our struggle to establish peace on this soil,” he vowed.

The participants prayed for the early recovery of Malala Yousafzai and her injured friends. The ANP central deputy general secretary Tajuddin Khan, Peshawar district president Arbab Najeeb and other leaders attended the rally.

Meanwhile, students of the Bacha Khan Model High School in Nauthia staged a protest rally at the Fawwara Chowk in Peshawar Cantonment to express solidarity with Malala Yousafzai.Prof Khadim Hussain, who heads the schools project of the Bacha Khan Education Foundation, was leading the rally which began from Nauthia and ended at the Fawwara Chowk.The students in their collective prayers prayed for early recovery of Malala Yousafzai.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Australia lauded Malala in Islamabad even as she fights her own fight against sexism and misogyny in Australia. She was backed today by the New Speaker Anna Burke. There was quite a verbal exchange between the PM and the minority party at parliament.  Gillard accused the opposition leader of misogyny and sexism directly.

But the new Speaker, Anna Burke, said Ms Gillard’s prime ministership had triggered a wave of public and political sexism.

Days after she was confirmed as Peter Slipper’s replacement in the chair, the Labor MP condemned the tone and subject matter of much of the debate in the current parliament.

“I think there is obviously some sexism and misogyny that goes on in the parliament, as it does in a lot of workplaces, tragically,” Ms Burke told ABC radio.

“And I think that one of the disappointing parts about having the first female prime minister is that unfortunately that has brought out the worst in some people in the parliament and some people in the public.

Here’s PM Julia Gillard’s Speech.

Let us also not forget about the assault on the rights of women in this country either.  So, that’s a little change of subject for me this morning. What’s on your blogging and reading list today?


Tuesday Evening Open Thread

Evening Y’all

I have just a few links for you tonight, starting with the latest shark attack in Australia. This Great White sounds like something out of the movie Jaws. Western Australia Shark Attack: Great White Bites Surfer Benjamin Charles Linden In Half

According to the Examiner, locals have nicknamed the large shark Brutus. Witnesses have described Brutus as being between 16 and 24-feet long.

The Western Australia Department of Fisheries set up baited traps near the attack site in an attempt to catch the shark, according to the Australian. A helicopter and boat search was also launched in an effort to recover the body, but it has not been found.

Although the gruesome incident was the fifth deadly shark attack reported off the coast of Western Australia in the past 10 months, some local surfers aren’t likely to be deterred.

“Once you are a surfer — and only a surfer knows the feeling — we cannot stop surfing. We are addicted,” surfing competition organizer Peter Dunn told Fox News, calling the attack a “tragic loss.”

According to the International Shark Attack File, there were 12 deaths from unprovoked shark attacks around the world in 2011. But although shark attacks often make news, some activists point out that humans are a greater threat to sharks than sharks are to humans.

I still think it is crazy to go surfing when there is such a threat out there. The reason I put this link up anyway is because at the bottom of the page there are pictures of various kinds of sharks. Some of them look extra-terrestrial.

On to another link that may make some of you cringe as well: US geoengineers to spray sun-reflecting chemicals from balloon

Two Harvard engineers are to spray sun-reflecting chemical particles into the atmosphere to artificially cool the planet, using a balloon flying 80,000 feet over Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

The field experiment in solar geoengineering aims to ultimately create a technology to replicate the observed effects of volcanoes that spew sulphates into the stratosphere, using sulphate aerosols to bounce sunlight back to space and decrease the temperature of the Earth.

David Keith, one of the investigators, has argued that solar geoengineering could be an inexpensive method to slow down global warming, but other scientists warn that it could have unpredictable, disastrous consequences for the Earth’s weather systems and food supplies. Environmental groups fear that the push to make geoengineering a “plan B” for climate change will undermine efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Keith, who manages a multimillion dollar geoengineering research fund provided by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, previously commissioned a study by a US aerospace company that made the case for the feasibility of large-scale deployment of solar geoengineering technologies.

Please go to the link to read the rest. It makes me think of those science fiction films from the fifties and sixties.

Speaking of going backwards, to a different time. Check it out…we aren’t the only ones with the christian fundamentalist wrecking out schools: Creationist groups win Michael Gove’s approval to open free schools

Michael Gove

Michael Gove has backed creationists’ proposals for free schools in Sunderland, Sevenoaks and Nottinghamshire. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The education secretary, Michael Gove, has approved three free schools run by groups with creationist views, including one with a document on its website declaring that it teaches “creation as a scientific theory”.

Grindon Hall Christian school in Sunderland, a private school due to reopen in September with state funding, says on its website that it will present creationism as science and affirm the position that Christians believe God’s creation of the world is “not just a theory but a fact”.

Ministers have also approved a free school in Sevenoaks, Kent, that says on its website it will teach in RE classes that “God made the world”, while a third free school, in Nottinghamshire, is a fresh proposal from a group initially turned down over creationism.

In the US, where the campaign for creationism has been stronger, the states of Louisiana and Tennessee have recently passed laws allowing the science underpinning evolution to be critiqued in the classroom. But the creationist lobby has been less successful in gaining a foothold in Britain.

Secular groups have been concerned that the free schools policy – which allows parents, charities or faith groups to set up new schools – would allow the state-funded teaching of creationism.

Ugh, I feel sick. What the hell is happening to us? One of the free schools has this on its website:

Grindon Hall says it teaches evolution as “an established scientific principle, as far as it goes”. However, the school’s policy document adds: “We believe no scientific theory provides – or ever will provide – a satisfactory explanation of origins, ie why the world appeared, and how nothing became something in the first place.”

The principal says that document is “obsolete” and that they would not teach creationism in science….personally the whole idea of creationism is obsolete. These extremist are taking over everywhere!

So, this is an open thread, have at it!


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!

You know the Occupy Movement is having an effect when the propaganda patrol starts trying to pin the “TERRORIST” label on them. From Politico:

If confirmed, this will likely be a much, much bigger image problem than the reports of crime in Occupy encampments:

Authorities suspect [Oscar Ramiro] Ortega-Hernandez] had been in the area for weeks, coming back and forth to the Washington Mall. Before the shooting, he was detained by local police at an abandoned house. U.S. Park Police say Ortega-Hernandez may have spent time with Occupy D.C. protesters.

Ooops! In an update, Politico has to take it back–it turns out authorities couldn’t find a connection. But you just know they’re going to keep trying. And ABC News reported it. Lots of people will take that as gospel and never hear that it wasn’t true.

However a GOP campus leader at the University of Texas Austin responded on Twitter to the news of shots fired at the White House.

Hours after Pennsylvania State Police arrested a 21-year-old Idaho man for allegedly firing a semi-automatic rifle at the White House, the top student official for the College Republicans at the University of Texas tweeted that the idea of assassinating President Obama was “tempting.”

At 2:29 p.m. ET, UT’s Lauren E. Pierce wrote: “Y’all as tempting as it may be, don’t shoot Obama. We need him to go down in history as the WORST president we’ve EVER had! #2012.”

Pierce, the president of the College Republicans at UT Austin, told ABC News the comment was a “joke” and that the “whole [shooting incident] was stupid.” Giggling, she said that an attempted assassination would “only make the situation worse.”

Tee hee hee… this is the future of the GOP?

Maxine Waters is still number one voice of reason in Washington DC. When the propaganda merchants tried to get her to say something disparaging about OWS, here’s how she handled it.

When asked to comment Wednesday about the deaths and crimes that have occurred around Occupy protests being held across the country, Rep. Maxine Waters said “that’s life and it happens.”

“That’s a distraction from the goals of the protesters,” Waters, who says she supports the Occupy movement, told CNSNews.com after an event at the Capitol sponsored by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

I love that woman!

“Let me just say this: Anytime you have a gathering, homeless people are going to show up,” said Waters. “They will find some comfort in having some other people out on the streets with them. They’re looking for food. Often times, the criminal element will invade. That’s life and it happens, whether it’s with protesters or other efforts that go on in this country.

“So I’m not deterred in my support for them because of these negative kinds of things,” said Waters. “I just want them to work at doing the best job that they can do to bring attention to this economic crisis and the unfairness of the system at this time.”

Way to go, Maxine!

In contrast, Republican ratf^^ker Karl Rove isn’t quite so mature. He really lost his cool on Tuesday night when he was targeted by Occupy protesters and ended up acting pretty childish.

Former Bush political adviser Karl Rove seemed a bit flustered Tuesday night after his speech to Johns Hopkins University was interrupted by a group of about 15 protesters connected to “Occupy Baltimore,” who got under his skin enough to get him cursing.

As he spoke about public debt and attempted to pin America’s economic pain on the Obama administration, a woman shouted out, “Mic check?”

A chorus of voices replied, “Mic check!”

“Karl Rove! Is the architect!” they shouted. “The architect of Occupy Iraq! The architect of Occupy Afghanistan!”

“Here’s the deal,” he replied. “If you believe in free speech then you had a chance to show it.”

“If you believe in right of the First Amendment to free speech then you demonstrate it by shutting up and waiting until the Q & A session right after,” Rove trailed off as supporters applauded.

“You can go ahead and stand in line and have the courage to ask any damn question you want, or you can continue to show that you are a buffoon…” he said, as the group of protesters descended into random shouting. One woman called him a “murderer, ” while others chanted, “We are the 99 percent!”

“No you’re not!” Rove replied, chanting it back at them. “No you’re not! No you’re not! No you’re not!”

Gee, that was fun to watch.

Not that any of the European elites will listen, but Brad Plummer at Wonkbook talked to a number of experts and came to the conclusion that the whole story about it not being legal for the ECB to rescue the European financial system is a bunch of hooey.

European officials keep insisting that the ECB isn’t legally allowed to play savior. On Tuesday, the head of Germany’s Bundesbank called it a violation of European law. The Wall Street Journal argued Wednesday that the European Union’s founding treaty would need to be revamped before the ECB could act as a lender of last resort to countries like Italy. So is this true? Could Europe really melt down because of a few legal niceties?

Not really, say experts. It’s true that the Treaty of Lisbon expressly forbids the European Central Bank from buying up debt instruments directly from countries like Italy and Spain. But, says Richard Portes of the London Business School, there’s nothing to prevent the central bank from buying up Italian and Spanish bonds on the secondary market from other investors.

“If that’s illegal, then officials should already be in jail,” says Portes. “Because they’ve been doing it sporadically since May of 2010.” The problem is that the bank’s current erratic purchases only seem to be creating more uncertainty in the market. “Right now,” says Portes, “nobody’s buying in that market except the ECB.”

Instead, what many experts want the European Central Bank to do is to pledge, loudly and clearly, that it will buy up bonds on the secondary market until, say, Italy’s borrowing costs come down to manageable levels. In theory, says Portes, the central bank wouldn’t even have to make many purchases after that, because expectations would shift and become self-fulfilling. In the near term, investors would stop worrying about whether they’d be repaid for loaning money to countries like Italy, and Italy’s borrowing costs would drop — giving it room to figure out its debt woes. (Granted, that latter step is a daunting task.)

But as Dakinikat wrote a couple of days ago, we’ll probably just have to wait and see what happens when the psychopaths in charge do exactly the opposite of what they should do.

The New York Times has a story this morning about Obama’s commitment of troops to Australia: U.S. Expands Military Ties to Australia, Irritating China.

CANBERRA, Australia — President Obama announced Wednesday that the United States planned to deploy 2,500 Marines in Australia to shore up alliances in Asia, but the move prompted a sharp response from Beijing, which accused Mr. Obama of escalating military tensions in the region.

The agreement with Australia amounts to the first long-term expansion of the American military’s presence in the Pacific since the end of the Vietnam War. It comes despite budget cuts facing the Pentagon and an increasingly worried reaction from Chinese leaders, who have argued that the United States is seeking to encircle China militarily and economically.

“It may not be quite appropriate to intensify and expand military alliances and may not be in the interest of countries within this region,” Liu Weimin, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in response to the announcement by Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia.

Attention Nobel committee: Isn’t it about time to rescind that Peace Prize?

OK, that’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?