Sunday Reads: Volcanic Ash, Elephant Speak and Secret Pigeons of War

Good Morning

This morning’s post has many items that are not about Romney, Ryan or the election. I suppose however, we should get a few of the newsy links out-of-the-way first.

The forecasters are predicting cold weather in the Northeast. U.S. disaster relief in a race against freezing cold

The power restorations relit the skyline in Lower Manhattan for the first time in nearly a week and allowed 80 percent of the New York City subway service to resume, but more than a million homes and businesses still lacked power, down from 3.5 million on Friday.

The power outages combined with a heating oil shortage meant some homes could go cold as unseasonably frigid weather sets in. Forecasters saw temperatures dipping into the upper 30s Fahrenheit (around 3 degrees Celsius) on Saturday night with freezing temperatures expected next week.

[…]

The weather forecast remains bleak. An aggressive early-season “Nor’easter” storm was expected to hit the battered New England coast next week with strong winds and heavy rain.

Another storm has been brewing over the last year, the disaster cyclone that is Romney. Over on the Maddow Blog, Steven Benen has been chronicling the Romney Lies. His latest entry can be found here: Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity, Vol. XLI – The Maddow Blog

In a way, I blame my friend Greg Sargent. In the first week in January, he noted, almost in passing, that Mitt Romney seemed to be making a lot of false claims, and someone “really should document them all.” That struck me as a good idea, so I decided to tackle this on my own.

After all, I thought at the time, how hard could this be? Once a week, I’d let readers know about Romney’s whoppers, which I assumed would total about a half-dozen a week, and maybe after the election, I’d do a top 20 list of my favorites. The project would be a nice little Friday-afternoon feature.

Little did I know at the time that Romney would become an ambitious prevaricator, whose rhetoric would come to define post-truth politics. Nearly 11 months after Greg Sargent’s harmless suggestion, I’ve published 40 installments in this series, which, before today, featured 884 falsehoods. (If you include today’s edition, the new total is 917 falsehoods for the year.)

I wish that were a typo. It’s not.

I have followed this series from the beginning, and actually have linked to a few articles now and then. If you want to skim over lies upon lies, then check out the full Mendacity series here.

Previous editions of Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity: Vol. IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXII,XIIIXIVXVXVI, XVIIXVIII, XIX, XX, XXIXXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, XXXI, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV, XXXVI, XXXVII, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XL

I’ve got several links for you on the GOP’s War on Women:

Bush Appointed Judge Rules Against Obama Administration’s Guarantee of Access To Birth Control

Judge Robert Cleland, a George H.W. Bush appointee and former Republican candidate for Michigan Attorney General, held yesterday that a private, for-profit outdoor power equipment company can ignore new rules requiring most employer-provided health plans to offer contraceptive coverage to womenbecause the new rules conflict with the company’s owner’s religious beliefs.

There’s a lot to not like about Judge Cleland’s opinion, which often relies on cursory reasoning or fails to apply the correct legal standard. The plaintiffs, for example, sought what is known as a “preliminary injunction” which means that they wanted their client to be held immune from following the law until the court has sufficient time to fully consider the case. Under binding Supreme Court precedent, “[a] plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits.” Yet Judge Cleland never determines that this is the case. At one point, he says that it “remains uncertain” how to resolve a key prong of this case. At another point, he outright states that “[n]either Plaintiffs nor the Government have shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits.” For this reason, an appeals court should reverse Cleland’s order solely because he failed to apply the correct legal standard.

There are many other observations about the ruling at the link.

Do you remember that Bishop that compared Obama to Hitler, well…he is making all catholic priest read a letter at this morning’s mass. Here is a good Catholic’s take on the letter and The Vatican’s Merger With The GOP via Andrew Sullivan

In Peoria, Illinois, Catholic Bishop Jenky, who has previously compared president Obama with Hitler and Stalin, has ordered a letter to be read at all masses next Sunday by the priest. This instruction gives you a taste of the legacy of Benedict XVI in his restoration of total clerical and episcopal obedience:

By virtue of your vow of obedience to me as your Bishop, I require that this letter be personally read by each celebrating priest at each Weekend Mass, November 3/4.

It’s a screed about religious liberty, with respect to the liberty of Catholic hierarchs to prevent the 99 percent of their female parishioners who use contraception from getting it from their health insurance via Obamacare. Money quote from the unhinged letter which all but instructs Catholics to vote for Romney-Ryan:

Nearly two thousand years ago, after our Savior had been bound, beaten, scourged, mocked, and crowned with thorns, a pagan Roman Procurator displayed Jesus to a hostile crowd by sarcastically declaring: Behold your King. The mob roared back: We have no king but Caesar. Today, Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as their Lord. They are objectively guilty of grave sin.

For those who hope for salvation, no political loyalty can ever take precedence over loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his Gospel of Life.

Democrats are the equivalent of the mob who called out to crucify Jesus. The man has lost his sense of proportion and compassion and restraint entirely. But so, alas, has the hierarchy he serves.

Here is an update on Planned Parenthood in Texas. Errors in Texas database pose barriers to health care access

Texas health commissioner Kyle Janek said Wednesday that errors in a state-crafted database intended to help women find reproductive health care providers are “a real problem.”

As the state attempts to implement a rule barring Planned Parenthood clinics from participating in the government-funded Women’s Health Program, the health commission has directed low-income women­ to use its online database to search for a new provider.

Nearly half of the women served by the program currently rely on Planned Parenthood. The commission says that more than 3,000 providers are available to serve these women, but many experts are skeptical that these facilities will be able to accommodate the women displaced by the new rule.

Read the rest of the horrible situation women in Texas must face for basic services.

The database has garnered complaints from health care providers and patients for producing what they see as inflated and “misleading” search results. It includes a number of duplicate entries, facilities that do not provide reproductive health services (such as children’s clinics), and listings for clinics that are unable to see new program clients.

When confronted about the issue by The American Independent at an event hosted by The Texas Tribune, Janek insisted that the “3,000 providers” figure was accurate and that the error-prone database is “a separate list.”

“When we say that we’ve got 3,000 providers out there ready to participate in this program, there’s no duplicates,” he said.

Still, Janek admitted the inaccurate database is “a real problem.”

Very upsetting, please read more at the link.

More disgusting stuff about violence against women Rapists, Beware: Detroit Prosecutor IDs 21 Attackers in ‘Rape Kit’ Probe  I realize that headline may sound promising but it is not.

Twenty-one serial rapists have been identified in a massive investigation led by Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy—and her manhunt has only just begun.

Worthy is leading a charge to investigate more than 11,000 police “rape kits”—which contain swabs of semen, saliva, and other evidence of rape—so the rapists can be brought to justice. The thousands of rape kits had piled up in a dusty police warehouse in Detroit for years, ignored, until one of Worthy’s colleagues stumbled upon them in 2009. Since then, an outraged Worthy has been fighting to get the kits logged, tested for DNA, and then entered into the national DNA database.

11,000 rape kits that have yet to be worked over? WTF…

The logging of the kits alone has been a staggering project. “There were no police reports attached to the kits,” she says, explaining that her colleagues “literally had to dust them off” and “physically go through and open them to get the name of the victim, the date that it happened.” A federal grant for $1 million—the first of two such grants of its kind, with the other going to Houston—has helped her get all the kits logged, she says, but the grant won’t cover the DNA testing of all 11,303 kits. “Unfortunately money’s not falling from the sky,” she says.

Rape-kit pileups aren’t just a problem in Detroit. In recent years, cities across the country have reported mountains of kits—11,000 in San Antonio, 1,200 in Albuquerque, 4,000 in Houston—according to Sarah Tofte, who has studied the national debacle for the advocacy group Human Rights Watch. Experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of kits are languishing in police warehouses.

When Worthy learned of the Detroit pileup from the colleague who discovered it by chance, she says, she demanded immediate action from the police chief at the time. “No one really paid attention to what I was saying and yelling about till about four months in,” she says. People finally took notice, she says, when someone in the police department leaked the news to the press.

I can’t quote the rest, you have to read it for yourself. It is maddening! Women don’t matter, and the treatment we receive from the right-wing assholes is sometimes more than I can bear.

For some perspective on this, check out how a typical white male GOP loving Fox News celebrity views women voters. Bill O’Reilly on single women voters: hot, good at costumes, not too smart.

Bill O’Reilly has been very concerned about the problem of degrading women lately. So concerned, in fact, that he worried out loud that Sandra Fluke had degraded women with her immodest suggestion that insurance benefits cover contraception. With Bill O’Reilly as a fierce protector of ladies, you can imagine that his show’s segment on single female voters last night was a chaste, respectful affair that represented the wide diversity of this important portion of the electorate: the never-married, the divorced, the widowed, the single mothers and the non-mothers, the cohabitating but unmarried, the young and the old, and, of course, women from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Just kidding! O’Reilly sent his producer Jesse Watters out on Halloween weekend to interview sexy young white women on the street, all of them in costume and ready to party, so that Watters could leer at their single lady voter breasts and condescendingly make “can you believe they have a right to vote?!” faces at the camera in response to the women’s selectively edited answers to his questions.

My favorite part is when Watters asks one woman, an Obama supporter, if she’s a “radical feminist” in the same tone adults use when asking kindergartners what they want to be when they grow up. After she points out that feminism is simply a matter of believing women have equal rights, the audience is reminded that we’re supposed to find that answer ridiculous with a sarcastic quick cut to a man saying, “I sure do appreciate knowing that.”

Read the rest of Amanda Marcotte’s article, where she touches on the Fox News audience…a bunch of dirty old men. If you missed Dak’s article yesterday on the Fox Assholes...then go read it. Wow!

I’ve got another article for you, about Why Frightened White Men Love Romney

These are the facts you don’t want to know. This is the hard data that can make you cringe, that can despoil the soul and make you wonder at the sad state of the modern world, and gender politics, and the tragically deceived hearts of (ahem) men.

All that progress! All that supposed enlightenment! All that push and desire, that evolution and that open-hearted possibility! And for what? For naught! For shame!

That is just a taste…being married to one of those white men with a fondness for Mittens, I can tell you that I still don’t get why anyone would vote for Romney.

Great, now that all those terrible links are posted, let’s get to the fun.

More after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Reads: Berlusconi and Fukushima FAIL…Depression can be exhausting

Good Morning!

It is Sunday, November 13th, can you believe it? Well Italy is following in Greece’s footsteps…in that the Italian prime minister has resigned. Berlusconi Resigns After Italy’s Parliament Approves Austerity Measures – NYTimes.com

With his country swept up in Europe’s debt crisis and his once-mighty political capital spent, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi resigned on Saturday, punctuating a tumultuous week and ending an era in Italian politics.

His exit, a sudden fall after months of political stalemate, paves the way for a new government of technocrats led by Mario Monti, a former member of the European Commission. Mr. Monti is likely to be installed early next week, following the apparent consent of key blocs of Mr. Berlusconi’s center-right coalition.

His resignation came just days after the fall of Prime Minister George A. Papandreou in Greece. Both men were swept away amid a larger crisis that has threatened the entire European Union, in which roiling financial markets have upended traditional democratic processes.

This weekend Japanese officials opened up the Fukushima Nuclear Plant to the International press…Devastation at Japan Site, Seen Up Close – NYTimes.com

Pool photo by David Guttenfelder

Journalists were allowed Saturday into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant site for the first time since disaster struck. More Photos »

The most striking feature at this crippled plant on Saturday was not the blasted-out reactor buildings, or the makeshift tsunami walls, but the chaotic mess.

The ground around the hulking reactor buildings was littered with mangled trucks, twisted metal beams and broken building frames, left mostly as they were after one of the world’s largest recorded earthquakes started a chain reaction that devastated the region and, to some extent, Japan. The damage reached the second story, a testament to the size of the tsunami that slammed into the reactor buildings, which sit 33 feet above the sea.

In a country as orderly as Japan, the fact that the scene has changed so little since the early days of the disaster eight months ago is as telling a sign as any of the daunting tasks workers have faced as they struggled to regain control of the plant’s three badly damaged reactors.

That is such a bold statement, and for me, it puts the situation at the Fukushima plant into perspective. It is obvious the clean-up outside the reactors is secondary.

In this next link, an important question is raised:  Did Race Explain Penn State’s Blind Eye to Sex Scandal?

The Second Mile Foundation that served as a cover for the alleged rapes by its founder, the disgraced and accused child rapist Jerry Sandusky was not some fly-by-night, drive by, fast buck operation, but a well-established foundation that had been in business for more than three decades. Sandusky was with the Foundation from the start in 1977 until just last year. Even as the scandal unfolds, it is still in business. It has a big, impressive, full bodied website that boasts of its accomplishments, has three offices, and is actively soliciting donations. The reporters that have tried to get a comment from foundation officials have been summarily hung up on.

There will be more sordid facts and cases to emerge in the coming days and almost certainly more alleged victims will come forth and tell their stories. This poses the question that’s bantered about, agonized over, and reams of opinion written, and that’s why those who knew didn’t blow the whistle on and insure that the cuffs were slapped on the offenders years ago? The stock answer is that it was a case of fear, protectiveness, ego (Paterno’s), football deification and prestige, decades of institutional sports cronyism and the bushels of money that Penn State and other big time Division 1 schools haul in every year from their flagship football programs. This is all true.

But with the strong hints and now the public finger point by a parent of one of the victims that the victims were in her words ” Blacks about 10-12 and had a tall slim muscular build.”   The Second Mile Foundation’s founder and accused Jerry Sandusky openly bragged that it was in the business of helping “underprivileged” youth, always the polite code word for poor, at risk, young blacks and Hispanics, it’s hardly a stretch to connect the dots to race.

Put bluntly, if Penn State officials kept their yaps shut for years in the face of open knowledge of and strong suspicions of the child rapes and the victims were young black males, than the last dot connected is the charge that black lives are routinely devalued when it comes to officials taking action to protect them. This charge has repeatedly been leveled in serial murders, inner city gang carnage, and against child service agencies that ignore or downplay repeated reports of abuse when the victims and the abused are black.

This part of the Sandusky case reminds me of a male teacher at my brother’s Special Ed School, LaVoy, in Tampa during the early 1990’s. The teacher was charged with rape and assault charges, just like Sandusky…He would bring his young black mentally retarded students home where he and his boyfriend, a teacher’s aid, would rape the kids…all under the pretext of helping these poor and disadvantage handicap young athletic black males.

Race can’t be separated from poverty or “underprivileged” in the parlance of Sandusky’s The Second Mile Foundation. A study in the March issue of the Journal Pediatrics,   “Racial Bias in Child Protection? A Comparison of Competing Explanations Using National Data,” found that poverty was a huge determinant not only of levels of abuse. The study predictably found that a disproportionate number of the reported child abuse cases in 2009 which spanned the gamut from neglect to child rape were African-American children. The study directly linked the abuse to poverty. Parents and caregivers that are desperate to provide their children with a pathway out of harm’s way from any and every type of abuse that comes with poverty latch on to organizations that promise to provide resources, mentoring, nurturing, and a protective environment for at risk black children.

The Second Mile Foundation that so persuasively and passionately marketed itself under its accused founder Jerry Sandusky, and with the resources, clout and national name recognition of Penn State University’s premier football majordomo Joe Paterno to boot, as just such an organization would be hungrily grabbed at as the ticket out of the ghetto for the kids. Given the name and the prestige of those behind this Foundation, why would anyone in their wildest nightmares ever think or suspect that colossal evil lurked underneath the facade of its alleged unadulterated philanthropic and do good aims?

I think the last bit of this op/ed says a lot, as we wait and see what further accusations and victims come forward…

…the hard suspicions and hints  that the target of the crimes were young black males may well be confirmed. If that’s the case, then the deep soul search that university and others everywhere that turn a blind eye to child abuse must undergo will be rudely forced to confront one more horrifying possibility. And that’s that race was one more reason for that blind eye.

In the incident at my brother’s school, there was also signs of a cover up, and the fellow teachers and school administrators backed up the teacher when he was charged with sexual assault. They blamed the students and their poor black mothers for making up stories after all the “good” the teacher did for his students. All of the victims grew up in the “projects” as they called it…in other words, government housing. The suggestion being these kids could not be trusted.

The similarities are disheartening, because yet again the same group of victims were targeted because of their “underprivileged” home situations. Young and black and exploitable…and more importantly, expendable in a worthless way. So sad to think it will happen again…and again, because it is obvious that children, especially black poor children are not worth the protection that is due to them.

On to another group of people not worthy of support or assistance. No money for mental health? 15 states with biggest cutbacks Pictures – CBS News

With the U.S. economy in crisis, states are cutting budgets on all sorts of programs, including mental health services. But according to a new report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, some states have cut back way more than others. Which states had the biggest reductions in mental health funding from 2009 to 2012?

Click the link up top for a photo report about the 15 states with the biggest cutbacks for Mental Health. It is really just a bunch of stock photos with numbers and statistics for each state. The key however is to see just how much is being cut…the worst being South Carolina, which cut its mental health care budget by 39.3 percent.

Just a few more links for you…

Occupy Portland: If you see a rape, don’t report it to the police; she’s also a ‘survivor’ not a victim now. « Uppity Woman

Now I just KNOW this makes all you wimminz want to RUN, not walk to your closest OWS location! And by the way, if you get raped, you are NOT a victim any longer. You are a “survivor”. So just be glad you are still alive after that rape, mmmmkay?

Raping is just a trauma for a guy, girlz! Have a heart! Boyz will be boyz! We’ll handle it!

……and just remember, girlz,  OWS is your friend. That must be why you are finally seeing a  female of the species taking the bullhorn just for this  very “special” occasion–giving you your instructions and then telling you that  “You don’t have the need to know” pretty much anything else.

This next article is disturbing…gee, I seem to be full of depressing links today!

Teens using vodka tampons to get drunk – CBS 5 – KPHO

It’s no secret teenagers sometimes experiment with alcohol, even drugs, but new ways they’re finding to get drunk had jaws dropping in our newsroom.

“Quicker high, they think it’s going to last longer, it’s more intense,” said Dr. Dan Quan from Maricopa Medical Center.

“This is not isolated to any school, any city, any financial area,” Officer Chris Thomas, a school resource officer, said. “This is everywhere.”

When we heard how kids are getting drunk these days, we thought no way.

So we hit up the experts to find out if it’s an urban legend or if it’s legit.

“There’s been documented cases of people going to the hospital with alcohol poisoning just from utilizing it that way,” Thomas said.

[…]

“What we’re hearing about is teenagers utilizing tampons, soak them in vodka first before using them,” Thomas said.

“It gets absorbed directly into the bloodstream. There’s no barrier, there’s no stomach acid to prevent it,” Thomas said.

“I would expect it to absorb pretty quickly as well, because it’s a very vascular structure,” Quan told CBS 5.

“This is definitely not just girls,” Thomas said. “Guys will also use it and they’ll insert it into their rectums.”

And that’s not all.

“Using a beer bong rectally is the same concept as a vodka soaked tampon,” Thomas said.

Rather than the traditional beer bong you’d find at a college party, kids are sticking the tube elsewhere to get wasted.

They’re calling it “butt chugging.”

Wow, the times, they are a changing….I remember being a teenager and the hangouts you could go to get drunk. Vodka soaked tampons and butt chugging were not on the menu.

Bank of America not only forecloses on sheriff deputy widows with young children, they charge unemployed debit cards fees. Your Friendly Bank of America, Sticking It To The Unemployed With Usurious Debit Card Fees | Crooks and Liars

It’s never been more obvious that the unemployed have no one looking out for them. This is really a shocking story and if you still have a Bank of America account, this might finally motivate you to move your money:

CORDOVA, S.C.– Shawana Busby does not seem like the sort of customer who would be at the center of a major bank’s business plan. Out of work for much of the last three years, she depends upon a $264-a-week unemployment check from the state of South Carolina. But the state has contracted with Bank of America to administer its unemployment benefits, and Busby has frequently found herself incurring bank fees to get her money.

I really hate those Bank of America Bankster Basturds!

From the Minx’s Missing Link File:  I got two for you today…check it out.

Birth of Bronx Zoo’s M’bura Overcomes Okapi Odds – NYTimes.com

Nancy LeVine for The New York Times

BREED APART Kweli gave birth at the Bronx Zoo only after some meticulous matchmaking. Her calf, M’bura, was introduced to visitors last week.

Okapis are the only known relative of the giraffe, but with the silhouette of an antelope. They are notoriously skittish, so adept at avoiding other animals in the wild — including other okapis — that Western researchers didn’t even document their existence until 1901.

To breed such an antisocial animal in captivity requires a mix of patience, genetic know-how and romantic savoir-faire. Potential mates are slowly and strategically introduced over weeks, and newborn calves — which do not defecate for the first month of their lives to avoid detection in the wild — are left untouched by humans to preserve the fragile mother-child bond.

Julie Larsen Maher/WCS

M’bura, an okapi calf that was introduced at the Bronx Zoo last week, is a result of more than 18 months of delicate husbandry work.

So as M’bura, now a healthy 5-month-old, gallops around her shady habitat in the Bronx, zoo officials are taking a victory lap of their own.

Isn’t she cute?

And this other missing link for you…another strange looking animal: Spotted Horses in Cave Art Weren’t Just a Figment, DNA Shows – NYTimes.com

Thomas Hackmann A modern horse with leopard spots like those seen in France’s Pech-Merle cave. Comparing DNA from the present and the Stone Age convinced scientists that those spotted depictions were based on existing animals.

Roughly 25,000 years ago in what is now southwestern France, human beings walked deep into a cave and left their enduring marks. Using materials like sticks, charcoal and iron oxides, they painted images of animals on the cave walls and ceilings — lions and mammoths and spotted horses, walking and grazing and congregating in herds.

Today, the art at the Pech-Merle cave, and in hundreds of others across Europe, is a striking testimony to human creativity well before modern times.

Did the cavemen paint animals realistically…as they saw them, or did they embellish a bit?

Now, a group of researchers has used distinctly modern techniques to help decipher the mystery, at least in the case of Pech-Merle’s famous spotted horses. By comparing the DNA of modern horses and those that lived during the Stone Age, scientists have determined that these drawings are a realistic depiction of an animal that coexisted with the artists.

The research, published online on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, grew out of an effort to discern the coat colors of ancient horses to help figure out when the animals were domesticated, a pivotal moment in the development of human societies. In general, domesticated species exist in a far greater variety of colors than wild ones, so understanding color variation in fossil animals can help pinpoint the timing.

Now this is so cool…

Previous research on DNA from the bones and teeth of horses that lived 7,000 to 20,000 years ago showed that those animals were either black or bay (a brown coat with a black mane and tail). That work was published in the journal Science in 2009. Since then, geneticists have deciphered the underlying code for the spotted pattern, known as leopard, in modern horses. So the scientists went back to their samples, looking for the leopard sequence in horses that lived in Europe 11,000 to 15,000 years ago.

“There is a striking correspondence between the coat-color patterns of horses painted in Paleolithic caves of France with what geneticists found in the genotypes” — the specific genetic sequences — “of color genes,” said Hopi E. Hoekstra, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard who studies pigmentation. Dr. Hoekstra was not involved in the study but called it “very convincing.”

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  The Rockefeller Christmas Tree has taken up residence in New York City.

I always wondered how they got those big ass trees into that big ass tree stand…

Okay, on a personal note, I want to send out a Big Happy Birthday to my brother Denny, who turned 40 yesterday. So I’d like to share one of my favorite photos of Denny in the pool…

…this photo of Denny was taken when he was around 11 years old, all I can say is yup…he is my brother.  Of course I am referring to the middle finger he is proudly giving me as I take the picture.

Well, that is my Sunday Reads…what are you reading about today!