Denali’s name has long been seen as one such slight, regarded as an example of cultural imperialism in which a Native American name with historical roots was replaced by an American one having little to do with the place.
The central Alaska mountain has officially been called Mount McKinley for almost a century. In announcing that Sally Jewell, the secretary of the interior, had used her power to rename it, Mr. Obama was paying tribute to the state’s Native population, which has referred to the site for generations as Denali, meaning “the high one” or “the great one.”
The peak, at more than 20,000 feet, plays a central role in the creation story of the Koyukon Athabascans, a group that has lived in Alaska for thousands of years.
Mr. Obama, freed from the political constraints of an impending election in the latter half of his second term, was also moving to put to rest a years long fight over the name of the mountain that has pit Alaska against electorally powerful Ohio, the birthplace of President William McKinley, for whom it was christened in 1896.
The government formally recognized the name in 1917, and efforts to reverse the move began in Alaska in 1975. In an awkward compromise struck in 1980, the national park surrounding it was named Denali National Park and Preserve, but the mountain continued to be called Mount McKinley.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, introduced legislation in January to rename the peak, but Ohio lawmakers sought to block the move. In June, an Interior Department official said in testimony before Congress that the administration had “no objection” to Ms. Murkowski’s proposed change.
In the latest binge of white privilege hissy fits, Republicans and Fox News are up in arms about changing the official name of the tallest mountain in the country back to the name that it was known by historically. It’s also the preferred name of the mountain for the folks that live in Alaska. Denali National Park has been in existence for some time. Denali mountain was renamed Mt McKinley in 1896 in a commonly done thing to do when privileged white men discover or climb natural wonders and regions that the folks living there have done, known, and named for thousands of years. I never knew the backstory on this event. It’s a typical story of appropriation.
Numerous native peoples of the area had their own names for this prominent peak. The local Koyukon Athabaskan name for the mountain, the name used by the Native Americans with access to the flanks of the mountain (living in the Yukon, Tanana and Kuskokwim basins), is Dinale or Denali /dɨˈnæli/or /dɨˈnɑːli/). To the South the Dena’ina people in the Susitna River valley used the name Dghelay Ka’a (anglicized as Doleika or Traleika in Traleika Glacier), meaning “the big mountain”.
The historical first European sighting of Denali took place on May 6, 1794, when George Vancouver was surveying the Knik Arm of the Cook Inlet and mentioned “distant stupendous mountains” in his journal. However, he uncharacteristically left the mountain unnamed. The mountain is first named on a map by Ferdinand von Wrangel in 1839; the names Tschigmit and Tenada correspond to the locations of Mount Foraker and Denali, respectively. Von Wrangell had been chief administrator of the Russian settlements in North America from 1829–1835.
During the Russian ownership of Alaska, the common name for the mountain was Bolshaya Gora (Большая Гора, “big mountain” in Russian), which is the Russian translation of Denali. The first English name applied to the peak was Densmore’s Mountain or Densmore’s Peak, for the gold prospector Frank Densmore who in 1889 had fervently praised the mountain’s majesty; however, the name persevered only locally and informally.
The name Mount McKinley was chosen by William Dickey, a New Hampshire-born Seattleite who led four gold prospectors digging the sands of the Susitna River in June 1896. An account written on his return to the lower 48 appeared in The New York Sun on January 24, 1897, under the title Discoveries in Alaska (1896). Dickey wrote, “We named our great peak Mount McKinley, after William McKinley of Ohio, who had been nominated for the Presidency, and that fact was the first news we received on our way out of that wonderful wilderness.” By most accounts, the naming was politically driven; Dickey had met many silver miners who zealously promoted Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan‘s ideal of a silver standard, inspiring him to retaliate by naming the mountain after a strong proponent of the gold standard.
In the 1900 report of the US Geological Survey (USGS), Josiah Edward Spurr refers to “the giant mountain variously known to Americans as Mount Allen, Mount McKinley, or Bulshaia, the latter being a corruption of the Russian adjective meaning big”. The 1900 report otherwise calls it Mount McKinley, as does the 1911 USGS report The Mount McKinley Region, Alaska.
McKinley was assassinated early in his second term, shot by Leon Czolgosz on September 6, 1901, and dying of his wounds on September 14. This led to sentiment favoring commemoration of his memory. The Federal government officially adopted the name Mount McKinley in 1917 when Congress passed and President Woodrow Wilson signed into law “An Act to establish the Mount McKinley National Park in the territory of Alaska”, which singled out the area in the Mount McKinley region.
So, originally, some crazy gold bug from Seattle via New Hampshire decided to make a political statement by renaming the big mountain and it stuck. I guess it’s the Ohio delegation that’s stopped the Alaskan’s delegation’s annual attempt to put the name of the mountain back to the one given it by its indigenous peoples. So, of course, Boehner’s orange face has gone a slight shade of red with the announcement. Well, it’s just another excuse for a Republican and Fox News hate and anger fest. How dare the President do something that so many folks–mostly Alaskans–have asked him to do for so long?
It’s official: Denali is now the mountain formerly known as Mount McKinley.
With the approval of President Barack Obama, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has signed a “secretarial order” to officially change the name, the White House and Interior Department announced Sunday. The announcement comes roughly 24 hours before Obama touches down in Anchorage for a whirlwind tour of Alaska.
Talk of the name change has swirled in Alaska this year since the National Park Service officially registered no objection in a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C.
The tallest mountain in North America has long been known to Alaskans as Denali, its Koyukon Athabascan name, but its official name was not changed with the creation of Denali National Park and Preserve in 1980, 6 million acres carved out for federal protection under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The state changed the name of the park’s tallest mountain to Denali at that time, but the federal government did not.
Jewell’s authority stems from a 1947 federal law that allows her to make changes to geographic names through the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, according to the department.
“I think for people like myself that have known the mountain as Denali for years and certainly for Alaskans, it’s something that’s been a long time coming,” Jewell told Alaska Dispatch News Sunday.
Every year, the same story plays out in Washington, D.C.: Alaska legislators sometimes file bills to change the name from Mount McKinley to Denali, and every year, someone in the Ohio congressional delegation — the home state of the 25th President William McKinley — files legislation to block a name change.
Members of Alaska’s congressional delegation said they were happy with the action.
“I’d like to thank the president for working with us to achieve this significant change to show honor, respect, and gratitude to the Athabascan people of Alaska,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a video statement recorded on the Ruth Glacier below the mountain.
Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said in an email that “Denali belongs to Alaska and its citizens. The naming rights already went to ancestors of the Alaska Native people, like those of my wife’s family. For decades, Alaskans and members of our congressional delegation have been fighting for Denali to be recognized by the federal government by its true name. I’m gratified that the president respected this.”
It seems McKinley never even visited Alaska or showed any interest in the place. Most of the National Parks and historic sites that have Presidential names actually have some relationship to that president. Like I said, I never even knew any of this before but I know it now and it’s amazing to me it’s taken this long.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said on Monday morning he was “deeply disappointed” by President Barack Obama’s decision to rename North America’s tallest peak.
Here’s his statement in full:
There is a reason President McKinley’s name has served atop the highest peak in North America for more than 100 years, and that is because it is a testament to his great legacy. McKinley served our country with distinction during the Civil War as a member of the Army. He made a difference for his constituents and his state as a member of the House of Representatives and as Governor of the great state of Ohio. And he led this nation to prosperity and victory in the Spanish-American War as the 25th President of the United States. I’m deeply disappointed in this decision.
Obama announced Sunday ahead of a historic visit to Alaska that the mountain’s name will revert back to Denali, its traditional Alaska Native name.
Frankly, McKinley isn’t one of the Presidents whose name routinely comes up with “great legacy”. He also has nothing to do with Alaska and Alaskans basically wanted the name returned to Denali.
It is the latest bid by the president to fulfill his 2008 campaign promise to improve relations between the federal government and the nation’s Native American tribes, an important political constituency that has a long history of grievances against the government.
There’s more interesting, record breaking news that’s undoubtedly associated with climate change. That’s something the President will speak about
in Alaska on his visit. There are 4 category 4 hurricanes in the Pacific.
NASA’s Terra satellite just released this August 29 image of Hurricanes Kilo, Ignacio, and Jimena, all Category Four Hurricanes. According to the Weather Channel:
This is the first recorded occurrence of three Category 4 hurricanes in the central and eastern Pacific basins at the same time. In addition, it’s also the first time with three major hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger) in those basins simultaneously, according to hurricane specialist Eric Blake of the National Hurricane Center.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) in Honolulu Hawaii is issuing advisories on all of the hurricanes. On Sunday, August 30, from west to east, Hurricane Kilo was located 1,210 miles west-southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii, Hurricane Ignacio was located 515 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, and Hurricane Jimena was located 1,815 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii.
Obama will be visiting many folks in Alaska just shortly after visiting folks here in New Orleans. His focus will be on how much lives have been changed by climate change. His trip to Lousiana focused on the amount of wetlands and Louisiana itself, lost to the Gulf and how that played into the destruction around the Gulf. Loss of Glaciers is one noticeable climate change in Alaska. I’m really confused, however, why Shell gets to drill in the Arctic when the President has visited two states whose oil and gas industry has ruined the environment while enriching oil interests. Here’s another thing I never knew. President Obama will be the first sitting president to visit Alaska.
The trip to the Alaskan Arctic — the first by a sitting president — is the culmination of an increasingly forceful climate change policy push over the past two years by the Obama administration.
The White House has honed in on climate change as a core policy priority with a domestic and international approach that has met with mixed response among both liberals and conservatives. This week alone he invoked the perils of climate change during visits to the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas and New Orleans’ storm ravaged Lower Ninth Ward to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
“No challenge poses a greater threat to our future than climate change,” the president told a crowd in Las Vegas.
With these trips, along with his trek to Alaska where he will speak at a State Department-sponsored conference on the Arctic, Obama is attempting to set the stage for a major international climate change agreement he hopes will come from a summit in Paris in December.
That agreement could help secure his legacy as the first sitting president to address global climate change in a substantive way, environmental policy experts said.
“The president has from the beginning recognized that climate change is an existential challenge to the country and the world. It may be the issue that is the most important long-term issue of his presidency,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former adviser to the Clinton White House on climate policy. “Future generations will look back at him as the first global leader to take decisive action on climate change.”
The Obama administration’s work of lifting the issue of climate change from the periphery to the fore began in a series of fits and starts.
There will be a Climate Change Conference in Paris this coming November. The President hopes to move the United States more into line with other countries seeking to reverse the damage caused by overuse of fossil fuels. Obama has announced his desire to reduce US carbon emissions. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are committed to the cause.
Obama’s announcement of a final rule to reduce carbon emissions on Monday (03.08.2015) drew international attention to the United States. The administration appears to have responded to a growing desire for politicians to take the fight against climate change more seriously. The American public has been demanding more government action as severe droughts and forest fires ravage the western US.
The 21st Conference of Parties in Paris this December will be the real test for this seemingly renewed American environmental consciousness. World leaders will be hoping to sign a new, legally binding international agreement on reducing emissions.
Although momentum toward taking action on climate change does appear to be building in the US, whether the US can truly lead in these negotiations remains uncertain.
On the one side, Obama’s new legislation is only one sign of mounting political will on tackling climate change. Environmental discussions are taking center stage in the Democrat nominee race.
Candidate Hillary Clinton has promised that 33 percent of the country’s electricity will come from renewables by 2027. Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s opponent with a strong environmental record, has called climate change “the single biggest threat to our planet.”
For Philip Wallach, a policy analyst at the Brookings Institute, this green surge is a strategy to appease public opinion ahead of elections in November 2016.
“[Democrats] think [climate] puts Republican candidates in an awkward position, where in order to satisfy some of their voter base, they’re pressured to reject [climate] science,” Wallach told DW.
Candidates for the Republican nomination were quick to criticize Obama’s new regulations – but remained mum about plans to tackle climate change during recent debates.
Hopefully, this will start a conversation on what seems like more years of excessive heat, land loss, extreme weather, drought, and fires ahead.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Images in the post are from the Dolce&Gabbana magazine Swide: Saint of the day
Swide’s Saint of the Day Calendar. Swide has commissioned illustrator Lucio Palmieri and Daniel Fields to illustrate and tell the story of each saint of the calendar for 2014.
Alright, big news out of Egypt, as far as archaeology is concerned. Queen Nefertiti: Has the tomb of Tutankhamun’s mother been found hiding in plain sight? via The Independent
Queen Nefertiti has fascinated and perplexed ancient Egyptian scholars in equal measure.
The legendary beauty ruled alongside Pharaoh Akhenaten in 14BC. During her reign she accrued status as an icon of power and elegance.
Despite her prominence in ancient Egyptian history, her resting place has remained a mystery – but now a new theory by a leading historian claims to have finally found the Queen’s burial place.
A diagram of Nefertiti’s possible resting place. Two secret doorways may exist coming from the walls of the main chamber.
Nicholas Reeves, an archaeologist at the University of Arizona, has made bold new claims that he believes she has been laid to rest in Tutankhamun’s burial chamber. The pharaoh’s tomb was found fully intact and untouched by explorer Howard Carter in 1922.
And if you take a look here you can read more on the ghost doors: Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb may contain hidden passages leading to Queen Nefertiti’s burial place: Claim
Ghosts in the walls
Dr Reeves has been scouring ultra high-resolution scans of the famous tomb, discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, for clues to its origins and constructions.
In particular, he’s been looking at the overlooked details in the painted walls of Tutankhamun’s inner sanctum, the burial chamber which contains his sarcophagus.
He’s found depressions and edges in the plasterwork which indicates the wall structure behind.
Among this is what he describes as two lintelled, walled-off passages which have long since been painted over with the scenes depicting Tutankhamun’s life and last rites.
“The implications are extraordinary: for, if digital appearance translates into physical reality, it seems we are now faced not merely with the prospect of a new, Tutankhamun-era storeroom to the west; to the north appears to be signalled a continuation of tomb … and within these uncharted depths an earlier royal interment – that of Nefertiti herself, celebrated consort, co-regent, and eventual successor of pharaoh Akhenaten,” Reeves writes.
Go and see the images at that link. It is very cool.
The original paper can be found here: The Burial of Nefertiti?
Hey, what do you know…there’s some tomb/burial news in our own country that is making headlines as well: The Roanoke Island Colony: Lost, and Found? – The New York Times
Under a blistering sun, Nicholas M. Luccketti swatted at mosquitoes as he watched his archaeology team at work in a shallow pit on a hillside above the shimmering waters of Albemarle Sound. On a table in the shade, a pile of plastic bags filled with artifacts was growing. Fragments of earthenware and pottery. A mashed metal rivet. A piece of a hand-wrought nail.
CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times
They call the spot Site X. Down a dusty road winding through soybean fields, the clearing lies between two cypress swamps teeming with venomous snakes. It is a suitably mysterious name for a location that may shed light on an enigma at the heart of America’s founding: the fate of the “lost colonists” who vanished from a sandy outpost on Roanoke Island, about 60 miles east, in the late 16th century.
Next up, a bit of history…yet still dealing with death, well…near death:
Hisao Horiyama first learned how he was due to die from a simple slip of white paper. On it were written three options: to volunteer willingly, to simply volunteer, or to say no.
With that one act of destruction, he would end his life and the lives of many others, in the name of his emperor as a member of an elite, and supposedly invincible, group of young men whose sacrifice would deliver victory to Japan: the kamikaze.
…the last British survivor of the famous Dambusters raid explains what it was like to take part.
“I feel privileged and honoured to have taken part,” says George “Johnny” Johnson. “It’s what we were there for. We were determined to do our bit.”
Johnson, now aged 93, is the last British survivor of the original Dambusters, the Royal Air Force’s 617 Squadron, who conducted a night of raids on German dams in 1943 in an effort to disable Hitler’s industrial heartland.
Their exploits were legendary even before being made into a film, The Dam Busters, released in 1955. A scene showing back-spinning cylindrical bombs, designed by engineer Barnes Wallis, bouncing along the water to avoid protective nets before sinking and breaching the dams with their explosive power, is one of the most famous in British film history. The Dam Busters March is still played at military events.
But Johnson isn’t entirely happy with the film’s depiction of the operation,codenamed “Chastise”, on that night of 16-17 May. “The thing that was disappointing from our point of view was that the raid carried out by my crew, on the Sorpe dam, wasn’t mentioned,” he says.
If you ever get to see Dam Busters on TCM, it is a riot….The Dam Busters (1955) – Overview – TCM.com
Video clips to the film can be seen here: Videos for The Dam Busters
Moving on to movies…women in film: 15 Women of Cinema History You Should Know | Mental Floss
You know Spielberg, Scorsese, Lucas, and Hitchcock. But did you know that the success of each of these iconic directors depended on a lesser-known woman behind the scenes? Dig into the hidden history of film and discover the women who shaped cinema into what it is today.
1. MARGARET BOOTH // THE FIRST FILM EDITOR
Because of the hands-on nature of film editing, early Hollywood considered it women’s work, like sewing. “Cutters” were often working-class women willing to take low pay to be a part of filmmaking. But despite the sexism surrounding them, this position allowed these female film lovers a unique place to make critical choices about a film’s final cut. Booth was not only one of the earliest pioneers of the craft, but also the one for whom the term “film editor” was coined.
Right out of high school in 1915, the Los Angeles native got a $10 a week job working underBirth of a Nation director D.W. Griffith as a patcher, eventually making her way up to negative cutter. By the time the controversial filmmaker moved to the East Coast, Booth was in complete charge of print production, managing everything from inspection to cutting to shipping the prints out. Booth would then get a job at the newly formed MGM, where her expertise was quickly recognized by the studio’s head of production, Irving Thalberg. Together the pair would watch and discuss dailies, and Booth’s insightful contributions inspired Thalberg to call her a “film editor,” a move that would forever leave the common term “cutter” behind.
She went on to cut a long list of films, including 1935’s Mutiny on the Bounty, which earned her only Oscar nomination. In 1978, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences awarded Booth an honorary Oscar for “her exceptional contribution to the art of film editing in the motion picture industry.”
See the other 14 women editors at the link.
Now, following the next connection…comes to our article on young women: Study finds unexpected biases against teen girls’ leadership: Not only many teen boys but many teen girls, some parents appear to have biases against teen girls as leaders, research finds — ScienceDaily
Making Caring Common (MCC), a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, today released new research that suggests that many teen boys and teen girls–and some of their parents–have biases against teen girls as leaders. These biases could be powerful barriers to leadership for a generation of teen girls with historically high levels of education who are key to closing our nation’s gender gap in leadership. The report also suggests that much can be done to prevent and reduce gender biases in children.
Titled “Leaning Out: Teen Girls and Gender Biases,” the research report assesses the explicit (conscious) and implicit (unconscious) biases of teen girls, teen boys, and parents with regard to gender and leadership. Findings suggest that many teen boys and teen girls have biases against female leaders in powerful professions such as politics, that many teen girls have biases against other teen girls as leaders, and that many teens perceive their peers as biased against female leaders. Further, the research suggests that some mothers have implicit biases against teen girls as leaders.
“Our study points to insidious bias against girls as leaders that comes from many sources” said Richard Weissbourd, a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-director of Making Caring Common. “Bias can be a powerful–and invisible–barrier to teen girls’ leadership. Yet parents and teachers can do a great deal to stem these biases and help children manage them.”
I will go ahead and put some newsy links here:
Let’s update you on the toxic spill: Toxic spill from Colorado mine creeps through US southwest (Update)
Environmental scientists tested a key US river Tuesday for signs of a toxic waste spill from a botched Colorado mine clean-up that prompted a state of emergency in the desert Southwest.
What started as a three-million-gallon (11.4 million liter) orange-hued plume last Wednesday in the swift-moving Animas River dissolved from view as it made its way down the slower San Juan River in New Mexico.
No longer easily visible, it was nevertheless flowing on into Utah and the Lake Powell reservoir in the direction of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon, leaving behind questions as to its long-term impact.
“It’s so diluted, you can’t really see it,” Donna Spangler, a spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, told AFP by telephone.
Intensive water testing is nevertheless underway for signs of such cancer-causing toxins as lead and arsenic, with results expected in a matter of days.
Continue with environmental issues: This video about the aging pipeline below the Great Lakes should be this summer’s top horror flick | Grist
You know that feeling you get when you’re watching a scary movie, and something bad is about to happen? The music gets weird, the action starts to slow down, someone says something meaningful like “I’ll always be there for you.” That’s the feeling you might get watching this video from Motherboardabout an aging oil pipeline lying at the bottom of the Great Lakes.
Here’s the gist: A company called Enbridge (appropriately evil-sounding) owns a 62-year-old pipeline running between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan along the Straits of Mackinac. The pipeline was originally built to last 50 years and is in questionable shape, but don’t worry — Enbridge says they have everything under control. Sure, the company had 800 spills between 1999 and 2010, according to Motherboard, and yes, one of those spills was the worst inland spill in U.S. history, causing more than 800,000 gallons of oil to spew into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. But no matter — there’s a very nice Enbridge employee in the video who says that the company doesn’t want to have any more spills.
Seismologists studying a year-long swarm of thousands of mostly minor earthquakes in northwest Nevada say they could be the precursor for a “big one,” although speculation that they’re related to a series of extinct volcanoes can’t be ruled out.
The University of Nevada’s Reno Nevada Seismological Laboratory announced Tuesday that there have been 5,610 earthquakes in a swarm that started in July 2014 in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge near the Oregon border.
More than 200 have registered at a magnitude of 3 or greater, which is enough to be felt by ranchers and residents nearby. The largest one hit on Nov. 6 with a magnitude of 4.7, although there’s also been a recent flare-up since mid-July.
“It’s kind of unusual that it has lasted so long,” said Ken Smith, a seismologist.
It’s been a topic of discussion whether or not those quakes stem from the extinct volcanos in the Sheldon refuge collectively known as the High Rock Caldera, which is at least 15 million years old.
That hasn’t been conclusively ruled out yet, but Smith said there’s no direct evidence of volcanic activity driving the earthquakes. To rule it out would require more seismic and geodetic measurements.
Such a repetition of small earthquakes is often associated with volcanic activity, but the latest ones point to a fairly typical tectonic sequence that is characteristic of the western Great Basin region.
Extinct volcanoes, 15 million years old, the next couple of links are about history, but not that far back in time.
After Erik the Red killed his enemies in Iceland, he found himself banished and sailing westward. Around 985 CE, Erik settled his family on an unexplored island, and, in what is widely regarded as the first act of real estate branding, named the place “Greenland,” hoping to attract other Vikings with the implicit promise of rich farmland. But as archaeologists are now learning, Erik may have been better off naming the place “Walrusland.”
Scholars have long thought that Erik’s branding deception worked, and that Vikings flocked to Greenland to set up farms—even though the growing season is short and raising livestock difficult. Archaeologist Thomas McGovern and colleagues, however, are testing a new idea: that Vikings settled Greenland to provide European markets with luxury trade goods such as furs, eiderdown, hides, and walrus tusk ivory.
The 12th century minstrel Bertran de Born told in a war hymn of what gave him great pleasure: ‘I tell you, that neither eating, drinking, nor sleep has as much savour for me as when I hear the cry “Forwards!” from both sides, and horses without riders shying and whinnying, and the cry “Help! Help!”, and to see the small and the great fall to the grass at the ditches and the dead pierced by the wood of the lances decked with banners.’ To Norbert Elias this was a clear example of the relationship between pleasure and killing in medieval society. Knights often took great pleasure in killing and torturing people, something that according to Elias was a socially permitted pleasure caused by a lack of social control. It was, however, these warriors that pope Urban II wanted to recruit to his new undertaking; the new kind of armed pilgrimage that was later to be known as the First Crusade.
This paper, however, will not focus on the relationship between the emotion of pleasure and killing on crusade from the perspective of the European knightly class, but rather from the perspective of crusaders from the northernmost periphery of Christendom, the kingdom of Norway. The men of the north are often depicted in the Norse sagas as taking great pleasure in killing, even doing it for no good reason; as famously illustrated in the comment of Þórgeirr Hávarsson, who struck the head of a shepherd for no other reason than that “he was well placed to receive a blow.” How then did these men behave on crusade?
Alright, the last few links have no connections whatsoever to the other links above.
This is some cool artwork, check it out:
And your last story of the day: New Study Finds Earth’s Core Will Be Most Habitable Part Of Planet By 2060 – The Onion – America’s Finest News Source
According to a study published Wednesday by geologists at Georgetown University, the earth’s solid inner core will be the most livable part of the planet by the year 2060. “Provided that current trends continue as anticipated, within half a century the most favorable conditions for supporting human life will be located roughly 3,200 miles below the earth’s surface, atop its superheated central sphere of iron and nickel,” said study co-author Lance Zelowski, who predicted that by mid-century, the inner core’s year-round temperature of 9,700 degrees Fahrenheit and its pressure of 3.5 million atmospheres would make it the most attractive location on the planet in which to live, work, and raise a family. “In order to ensure future generations grow up and reside in the best environment available, people will need to make preparations in the coming years to move their families to this highly compressed metallic ball surrounded by swirling liquid metal.” Zelowski acknowledged that, due to its limited surface area, only the wealthiest would likely be able to purchase property on the inner core, leaving most of the world’s population to make do in magma chambers directly beneath earth’s crust.
This is a long ass post for a Wednesday. Have a good day…share what your thinking and reading about today.
It has been close to 90 degrees here for the past several days, and it’s technically still spring. I’m beginning to wonder if we are going to have a summer from hell as a follow-up to the worst winter in the half-century I’ve lived in Boston.
In addition to the unusually hot weather, the pollen is so bad that every morning when I wake up it takes a few hours for my scratchy, watery eyes to clear up enough for me to read comfortably.
I’m on a regimen of Flonase, Allegra, and Mucinex; but I still feel stuffed up most of the time. Sometimes I feel itchy and even dizzy and nauseated; and I think it’s from allergies. The itchy skin would be unbearable without the Allegra.
Is anyone else noticing worse-than-usual allergies this year? Last year’s spring allergy season was very bad; this year is far worse. Anyone who actually claims to believe that there isn’t something dramatic happening with our weather is either deluded or lying. I wonder if we will manage to do something about climate change before it’s too late.
What about all that awful weather down in Texas?
Here’s a story from the Texas Tribune, via KXON: Climate change, a factor in Texas floods, largely ignored.
“We have observed an increase of heavy rain events, at least in the South-Central United States, including Texas,” said Nielsen-Gammon, who was appointed by former Gov. George W. Bush in 2000. “And it’s consistent with what we would expect from climate change.”
But the state’s Republican leaders are deeply skeptical of the scientific consensus that human activity is changing the climate, with top environmental regulators in Texas questioning whether the planet is warming at all. And attempts by Democratic lawmakers during the 2015 legislative session to discuss the issue have come up short.
“In part, it’s ideologically driven and intellectually lazy,” said state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, who earlier this year invited national security experts to the state Capitol to testify at a hearing on the risks of climate change. “My question is: What are people scared of? Are they scared of the truth?”
Asked about the role of climate change in the floods, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz declined to weigh in Wednesday. “At a time of tragedy, I think it’s wrong to try to politicize a natural disaster,” the Republican presidential candidate said during a news conference in San Marcos after surveying damage.
How does discussing scientific research on climate constitute “politicizing a natural disaster?”
Extreme weather events, and more of them, are among the most agreed-upon effects of global warming in all the scientific literature on the subject, said Nielsen-Gammon, who is also a professor at Texas A&M University. Part of the explanation is that ocean temperatures are rising, bringing more moist air into the state that can create storm systems. In the past century, precipitation in Texas is up 7 to 10 percent, and the frequency of two-day heavy rainfall spells has nearly doubled.
The scientific consensus is much stronger on this point than on whether climate change can directly cause droughts. Nielsen-Gammon’s own research has shown that warmer temperatures due to global warming did make the drought in Texas measurably worse than it otherwise would have been.
But for the last several years, legislation calling for climate-change studies has not succeeded in the Capitol.
It’s a pretty long article, and very interesting. I hope you’ll go read the whole thing.
More on Ted Cruz’s remarks from CNN: Texas flooding puts Cruz, GOP in bind on climate change.
The Republican presidential contender has held two press conferences over the past two days to address the flooding and the government’s response. At each one, he was asked about the impact of climate change on natural disasters like the Texas flooding, and at each one, he dodged the question….
“I think the focus now is on caring for those who have lost their lives and lost their homes,” he said.
At least 31 people have died in Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma from the storm since this weekend, while another 11 remain missing in Texas. Cruz promised to do all he could to ensure that Texans get access to the resources they need during the recovery.
Wait a minute. Anti-government Ted Cruz wants the Feds to help Texas? Didn’t he oppose aid to survivors of Hurricane Sandy?
During a press conference on the deadly flooding in Texas, Cruz said, “The federal government’s role, once the Governor declares a disaster area and makes a request, I am confident that the Texas congressional delegation, Sen. Cornyn and I, and the members of Congress both Republicans and Democrats will stand united as Texans in support of the federal government fulfilling its statutory obligations, and stepping in to respond to this natural disaster.
Sen. Cruz sang a completely different tune in 2013 when he called federal aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy wasteful:
Two-thirds of this spending is not remotely “emergency”; the Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 30% of the authorized funds would be spent in the next 20 months, and over a billion dollars will be spent as late as 2021.
This bill is symptomatic of a larger problem in Washington – an addiction to spending money we do not have. The United States Senate should not be in the business of exploiting victims of natural disasters to fund pork projects that further expand our debt.
Back to the CNN article for more Cruz climate change philosophy:
“It used to be [that] it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier,” he said in an interview with the Texas Tribune.
Cruz also argued that “global warming alarmists” aren’t basing their arguments on facts, because “the satellite data demonstrate that there has been no significant warming whatsoever for 17 years.”
Oh really? The point of the article is that Cruz and other Republicans may be leaning toward more moderate attitudes toward climate change research. I’ll believe that when I see it.
More interesting recent articles on climate change:
Dallas Morning News: Exxon CEO holds line on climate change at annual meeting.
Mother Jones Exclusive: The CIA Is Shuttering a Secretive Climate Research Program.
In other news . . .
Bobby Jindal got some attention in Politico for attacking another member of the GOP clown car: Bobby Jindal slams Rand Paul as unfit to be commander in chief.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal lashed out at Sen. Rand Paul for his recent comments about the Islamic State, saying the presidential contender is unfit to be commander in chief and is taking the “weakest, most liberal Democrat position” when it comes to fighting the militant group.
Using unusually harsh rhetoric and an unusual forum, Jindal posted a statement condemning Paul on Wednesday on his “office of the governor” website.
Story Continued Below
“This is a perfect example of why Senator Paul is unsuited to be Commander-in-Chief,” Jindal said. “We have men and women in the military who are in the field trying to fight ISIS right now, and Senator Paul is taking the weakest, most liberal Democrat position. It’s one thing for Senator Paul to take an outlandish position as a Senator at Washington cocktail parties, but being Commander-in-Chief is an entirely different job. We should all be clear that evil and Radical Islam are at fault for the rise of ISIS, and people like President Obama and Hillary Clinton exacerbate it.”
The statement from Jindal, who is also a likely GOP presidential contender, came after the Kentucky Republican suggested Wednesday morning that hawkish members of his party were to blame for the rise of the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS.
Paul said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS.”
In Touch Weekly has more breaking Duggar news.
In 2006, Jim Bob told Springdale police that he took Josh to see State Trooper Joseph Hutchens and that Josh “admitted to Hutchens what [Josh, redacted] had done,” according to the police report, obtained exclusively by In Touch through the Freedom of Information Act. At this point, there were five victims and multiple molestations by Josh….
Hutchens is serving 56 years in prison for child pornography and admits his “reputation is shot.” He was interviewed by a representative of a local law firm at In Touch‘s request and promised nothing in return for his recollections.
Hutchens’ failure to report the abuse caused the police to halt their 2006 investigation because the statute of limitations ran out.
In the new interview from prison, Hutchens said he was told by Jim Bob and Josh that “Josh had inappropriately touched [redacted] during the time she was asleep. He said he touched her through her clothing and he said it only happened one time.”
He said the fact that it was a one-time incident influenced his decision not to report it. “I did what I thought was right and obviously it wasn’t,” he says. “If I had to do it over again, I would have told him immediately I am going to call the hotline and contacted the trooper that worked those cases and have a full report made. I thought I could handle it myself.
The Duggar family is so corrupt that I expect there could be new revelations about them for months to come.
Here’s a little tidbit that Allie Jones of Gawker Defamer found: Duggar Dad’s Political Platform: Incest Should Be Punishable by Death.
[W]hat does Jim Bob think of his own response to his son’s familial abuse? In a brief statement to People, Jim Bob and Michelle said last week that “that dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before.” Maybe that’s because Jim Bob publicly stated during his 2002 campaign for U.S. Senate that he thinks incest should be punishable by death.
Jim Bob’s platform on his campaign website—preserved via web cache—states that he believes “rape and incest represent heinous crimes and as such should be treated as capital crimes.” Jim Bob offered this belief to explain his position on abortion (only acceptable if both the mother and the baby were going to die anyway, of course)
See the screen shot at the link.
Other stories worth checking out, links only
A story from Politico that will make you–if not Charles Pierce–want to drink antifreeze: Dems view Sanders as bigger threat than O’Malley.
Since O’Malley is no threat at all, how worried could Dems really be?
Ezra Klein pontificates at length about why the SCOTUS anti-Obamacare case is total B.S.: The New York Times blows a hole in the case against Obamacare.
I haven’t read this story from the NYT yet, but I’ll bet it’s hilarious: What George PatakiWould Need to Do to Win. One more clown for the clown car.
NYT reports Climate news from India: Indians Scramble for Heat Relief, but Many Must Still Work.
Washington Post: Breakthrough HIV study could change course of treatment for millions.
BBC News: ‘New species’ of ancient human found.
What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a tremendous Thursday!
You must have heard about the latest from Hobby Lobby, the hypocrisy is so disgusting…Hobby Lobby Allegedly Fired Employee Due to Pregnancy
When a very pregnant Felicia Allen applied for medical leave from her job at Hobby Lobby three years ago, one might think that the company best known for denying its employees insurance coverage of certain contraceptives—on the false grounds that they cause abortions—would show equal concern for helping one of its employees when she learned she was pregnant. Instead, Allen says the self-professed evangelical Christian arts-and-crafts chain fired her and then tried to prevent her from accessing unemployment benefits. “They didn’t even want me to come back after having my baby, to provide for it,” she says. Her allegations—as well as those brought by other former Hobby Lobby employees—call into question the company’s public claims when it comes to protecting life and operating its business with Christian values. Additionally, they highlight a practice by which Hobby Lobby prevents its employees from seeking justice through the courts.
Yeah, you can read more details at the link. But as Eric Loomis, LG&M points out: That Pro-Life Hobby Lobby
And here I thought Hobby Lobby was acting out of very strong principle for life and not because it hates women and wants to punish them for having sex. There’s also this gem:
When Allen applied for unemployment benefits, she says Hobby Lobby’s corporate office gave the unemployment agency a false version of events, claiming she could have taken off personal leave but chose not to. In the end, Allen says she won her claim for unemployment benefits, but she felt she had been wrongly discriminated based on the fact that she was pregnant. In February 2012 she sued Hobby Lobby, but her lawsuit was swiftly dropped because, like most—if not all—Hobby Lobby employees, Allen had signed away her rights to sue the company. Though the multibillion-dollar, nearly 600-store chain took its legal claim against the federal government all the way to the Supreme Court when it didn’t want to honor the health insurance requirements of the Affordable Care Act, the company forbids its employees from seeking justice in the court of law. Allen had signed a binding arbitration agreement upon taking the job, though she says she doesn’t remember doing so. The agreement, which all Hobby Lobby employees are required to sign, forces employees to resolve legal disputes outside of court through a process known as arbitration.
Lying so she couldn’t get unemployment is very special, but forcing employees to sign documents waiving their right to sue the company in order to be hired should be as illegal as the yellow-dog contract. I would ask how something like that is even legal in this nation, but of course I already know why–because corporations control our lives in ways they have not in a century.
I have plenty more links for you, but because I must take the boy to his endocrinologist in Atlanta tomorrow…I will just give it to you in dump fashion. Religious violence in 2013 displaced millions | Al Jazeera America
Millions of people were forced from their homes because of their religious beliefs last year, the U.S. government said Monday, citing the devastating impact of conflicts in Syria, Iraq and the Central African Republic. Secretary of State John Kerry called the displacement of families and devastation of communities from sectarian violence a troubling trend in the world, as he launched the State Department 2013 report on religious freedom. The report said that in much of the Middle East, the Christian presence is becoming “a shadow of its former self.” Hundreds of thousands of minority Christians have fled Syria after three years of civil war. It also highlighted more than one million people displaced in the Central African Republic during 2013, amid an upsurge in Christian-Muslim violence. In Southeast Asia, the spread of anti-Muslim violence spread from Myanmar‘s volatile west to central Meiktila, with up to 100 deaths and 12,000 displaced. Kerry further cited the “savagery and incredible brutality” by the al-Qaeda-inspired militant group active in Iraq and Syria, known as the Islamic State, saying it had slaughtered Shiite Muslims and forcibly converted Christians under threat of death. The report, released annually, reviews how religious freedoms are respected and violated in almost 200 countries and territories.
In 1963, a 17-year-old Indiana youth named Robert J. Dowlut reportedly confessed to police — amid a pile of evidence — that he’d killed a local woman. The next year, a jury of his peers heard the case and found Dowlut guilty. What happened next? A) He died in the electric chair. B) He lived a long life and is currently the chief lawyer for the National Rifle Association.
Read about this here: The NRA’s Murder Mystery | Mother Jones I really don’t know why they bother to research this next item of news, WASHINGTON: Past-due debt prevalent across U.S., with South the highest | Economy | McClatchy DC What more would anyone expect. At least there is Good News: Mississippi’s Only Abortion Clinic Can Remain Open Here is a few health stories: Take Two: Just How Good Are Generic Meds Anyway? | Mother Jones Previously unknown virus that lives in half the world’s population could play a major role in obesity and diabetes – Medical News Today The Challenges of Having Sex as a Little Person – Merissa Nathan Gerson – The Atlantic And let’s not stop with little people sex, what about panda sex: Nixon on Panda Sex – Lawyers, Guns & Money In fact, more of Nixon’s tapes are in the news, as two new books are released, The Untapped Secrets of the Nixon Tapes – Evan Thomas – The Atlantic From a former president to a former First Lady: The Best “Dear John Letter” Ever Sent | Mother Jones
In 1947, years before she met John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier sent her high school boyfriend what is maybe my favorite Dear John letter of all time.
“I’ve always thought of being in love as being willing to do anything for the other person—starve to buy them bread and not mind living in Siberia with them—and I’ve always thought that every minute away from them would be hell—so looking at it that [way] I guess I’m not in love with you.”
Jackie O. would have been 85 Monday. RIP.
For more fascinating reads, look at this: Read the Notorious RBG at Her Most Blistering
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, teeny tiny goddess of judicial feminism incarnate, has authored many a badass piece of legal writing in her day. Now, thanks to some devoted brainiacs who are better at this sort of thing than I am, you can read the sharpest work of the grand dame in one place.
The folks at People for the American Way (a progressive think tank) have put together a lovely treasury of RBG’s greatest hits. Perfect light reading for the next time you put your head in a big pile of curls on your head and take a bubble bath, or lie out on a Caribbean beach, or a good thing to read to the kids when you’re trying to get them to bed. Yep. Just a little light legal reading.
Meanwhile, Officials Pull Back From Crash Site as the Army Puts Pressure on Rebels – NYTimes.com And if you are worried about the big flood: Climate refugees, DO NOT MOVE TO THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST | Grist
Many Seattle residents revere Cliff Mass as the Yoda of weather in the Northwest. On his blog and through spots in local media, this professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington helps us process our snowpocalypses and measure out Lexapro for 10 months of the year. Now he’s turning his big-weather brain to something regularly on our minds here at Grist: “As global warming takes hold later in the century, where will be the best place in the lower 48 states to escape its worst effects?” Here’s the short answer from Cliff:
On his blog entry, Mass goes into much more scientific detail on climate effects for the Lower 48 (complete with loads more charts). But even from this map, we can glean a few key takeaways.
- You’ll notice Mass highlighted most of the Eastern seaboard, the Gulf of Mexico, and sections of California in bright red. Areas of sea-level rise? Ohnonononono. You misunderstand completely. Those are spots where candy will grow on trees — because adaptation! Florida’s famous orange groves will evolve into chocolate orange groves and just work their way up the coast to Connecticut. Delicious!
- Take a look at all that yellow in the Southwest. Any guesses? Correct: That is precisely where state and local governments are likely to enforce three-day workweeks. And if you worry that moving to Phoenix, Los Angeles, or Austin means you’ll spend every extra-long weekend wearing spikes and riding in a rusty dune buggy on your way to bludgeon the neighbors to death over water resources, here’s a tip: Don’t!
- Orange! This DOES NOT mean this area gets more oranges (duh, pay attention; that was yellow). It does signify that every day will be Christmas. It also signifies that more Christmases will be wetter, windier, and generally more hurricane-y. P.S. I got you galoshes. (AGAIN, I know. Tee-hee!) Merry Christmas!
- Purple, purple, purple — Big Purp practically owns the map. Good thing, too, because from Montana to Maine, climate-changed citizenry will THRILL to the incredible cellphone coverage. No more dropped calls in Chicago. No more blips in Butte. Just blazing-fast downloads and crystal-clear audio, from your hot, cracked lips to your heatstroked fingertips. (Caveat: Customers will notice an increase in dropped calls from underground bunkers and heat hovels.)
- Say what about the green dots? Oh, those are flooding rivers and total shitholes.
Now for the last few remaining links for the day, a couple of stories from Hollywood and two others on digging up the past… Effort to save ‘Tara’ plantation facade before it’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ – NY Daily News Kodak, Studios Negotiating Last Ditch Effort to Keep Film in Hollywood – Hollywood Reporter Traces of Lincoln’s Courthouse Found in Illinois – Archaeology Magazine Erosion Exposes Human Remains on Kwajalein Atoll – Archaeology Magazine Have a good day and hope you share your thoughts in the comments below. A woman waves from a float during the Carnaval des Fleurs…
I have a mixture of links for you today, with no overall theme whatsoever. There is news happening out there, but somehow it still feels like a slow news month so far. Maybe it’s just because it feels like nothing is really happening that will change the “malaise” in the country, to use Jimmy Carter’s term. The economy doesn’t really seem to be improving for 90 percent of us, and the bottleneck in Congress feels unbreakable. So here are some stories that caught my eye.
From The New York Times: Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt.
A large section of the mighty West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable, two groups of scientists reported on Monday. If the findings hold up, they suggest that the melting could destabilize neighboring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable in coming centuries.
Global warming caused by the human-driven release of greenhouse gases has helped to destabilize the ice sheet, though other factors may also be involved, the scientists said.
The rise of the sea is likely to continue to be relatively slow for the rest of the 21st century, the scientists added, but in the more distant future it may accelerate markedly, potentially throwing society into crisis.
“This is really happening,” Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA’s programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research, said in an interview. “There’s nothing to stop it now. But you are still limited by the physics of how fast the ice can flow.”
Read details about the two studies at the NYT link. Richard B. Alley, scientist not involved in the studies noted that what’s happening in Antarctica is only one source of future climate change disasters.
He added that while a large rise of the sea may now be inevitable from West Antarctica, continued release of greenhouse gases will almost certainly make the situation worse. The heat-trapping gases could destabilize other parts of Antarctica as well as the Greenland ice sheet, potentially causing enough sea-level rise that many of the world’s coastal cities would eventually have to be abandoned.
“If we have indeed lit the fuse on West Antarctica, it’s very hard to imagine putting the fuse out,” Dr. Alley said. “But there’s a bunch more fuses, and there’s a bunch more matches, and we have a decision now: Do we light those?”
So it’s not as if we actually have the rest of the century to deal with the problem. Maybe the right wing nuts should start building an ark.
From Politico: Chamber of Commerce gives ultimatum to GOP.
The GOP shouldn’t even field a presidential candidate in 2016 unless Congress passes immigration reform this year, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said Monday.
“If the Republicans don’t do it, they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016,” Donohue joked at an event on infrastructure investment in D.C. “Think about that. Think about who the voters are. I just did that to get everybody’s attention.”
Republicans have focused on an immigration overhaul as a way to woo Hispanic voters, who have increasingly drifted to Democrats over the past two election cycles. Growing Hispanic populations in Nevada, Texas and elsewhere could make those states more amenable to Democrats in the future.
Apparently, Donohue still thinks he can light a fire under the asses of the Tea Party nuts in the House. Good luck with that.
Politico also reports that John Boehner may be tiring of the frustrating job of Speaker of the dysfunctional House of Representatives: John Boehner can’t promise another 2 years as speaker.
The Ohio Republican, speaking to a luncheon here [San Antonio, TX] sponsored by a group of local chambers of commerce, said he can’t “predict what’s going to happen” and stopped short of fully committing to serving another full two-year term.
“Listen, I’m going to be 65 years old in November,” Boehner said. “I never thought I’d live to be 60. So I’m living on borrowed time.”
It’s extraordinarily rare for Boehner to sit down for an open-ended, live interview, but he did so here with the Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith, a mainstay of the Lone Star State’s journalism scene. He touched on issues ranging from immigration to Benghazi to his quiet campaign to persuade Jeb Bush to run for president….
Boehner’s noncommittal response about his future will reverberate from here all the way back to Capitol Hill and K Street. His future has been a topic of constant chatter among political types. Even people inside his orbit privately wonder why the Ohio Republican would want to serve another term wielding the speaker’s gavel, given the tumultuous political climate in Washington. Last week, Boehner beat back two primary opponents to ensure his House reelection.
Much more interesting Boehner news at the link.
Texas plans to execute death row prisoner Robert James Campbell today, and they aren’t the least bit concerned about the recent horrifically botched execution in Oklahoma. From the NYT: Confronted on Execution, Texas Proudly Says It Kills Efficiently.
HUNTSVILLE, Tex. — If Texas executes Robert James Campbell as planned on Tuesday, for raping and murdering a woman, it will be the nation’s first execution since Oklahoma’s bungled attempt at lethal injection two weeks ago left a convicted murderer writhing and moaning before he died.
Lawyers for Mr. Campbell are trying to use the Oklahoma debacle to stop the execution here. But many in this state and in this East Texas town north of Houston, where hundreds have been executed in the nation’s busiest death chamber, like to say they do things right.
For two years now, Texas has used a single drug, the barbiturate pentobarbital, instead of the three-drug regimen used in neighboring Oklahoma. Prison administrators from other states often travel here to learn how Texas performs lethal injections and to observe executions. Texas officials have provided guidance and, on at least a few occasions, carried out executions for other states.
Even the protesters and television cameras that used to accompany executions here have, in most cases, dissipated. “It’s kind of business as usual,” said Tommy Oates, 62, a longtime resident who was eating lunch last week at McKenzie’s Barbeque, about one mile from the prison known as the Walls Unit. “That sounds cold, I know. But they’re not in prison for singing too loud at church.”
That’s Texas’ claim to fame now, I guess–efficient executions. Practice makes perfect.
The LA Times broke some news this morning about deceased alleged Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The paper has learned that the gun Tsarnaev use in a shootout with police in Watertown, Massachusetts a few days after the Marathon bombing was linked to a drug gang in Portland, Maine.
When police confronted Tamerlan Tsarnaev four nights after the Boston Marathon bombing last year, he leaped from his car with a 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol and opened fire….
The tale of that handgun, a black Ruger P95, Serial Number 317-87693, offers new insights into the Boston tragedy and holds warnings of other potential dangers.
Its journey from a street gang that peddled crack cocaine in Portland, Maine, to the grisly shootout in a Boston suburb tells much about illicit drug and gun trafficking in New England, and perhaps more about Tsarnaev.
Authorities believe Tsarnaev’s ties to the illicit drug trade in Maine helped finance his six-month trip to the southern Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan in early 2012, where he became radicalized. Drug money, they say, also may have helped him buy components of the bomb that killed three people and injured more than 260 on April 15, 2013.
The Times learned about this from records “obtained” from the Justice Department records. The gun had originally been purchased legally by an LA man named Danny Sun, Jr. living in Portland, Maine. It’s not clear exactly how Tsarnaev got the gun, but the serial numbers had been fined down. Police were able to “raise” the serial number using with “forensic techniques.”
Curiouser and curiouser. Last June, I wrote a post in which I argued for a drug connection to the Tsarnaev brothers and a horrific September 11, 2011 triple murder in Waltham, Massachusetts; but I suspected a connection with an international drug ring centered in Watertown, Waltham, and Newton. I have continued following this story closely for the past year. Now this. I don’t know what to think. I only know that this background of the Boston Marathon bombings is incredibly complex and mysterious.
I don’t know how many people have been following the latest discussions about net neutrality. This is going to be an important week in the fight between internet users and the Cable giants. Here’s the latest from Radio survivor: FCC Chair Wheeler Shuffles Open Internet Deck Ahead of Meeting.
This is a tough week to be Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC. This Thursday he has an open meeting where he plans to present his Open Internet proposal to the full Commission. As details have come to light a very broad coalition of companies, organizations and legislators–from 150 tech firms like Netflix and Google to the ACLU and NOW–have expressed strong criticisms of it.
At issue are proposed rules that would permit some companies to pay internet service providers for a so-called fast-lane into consumers’ homes. No matter how much Wheeler has tried to assure everyone that the Commission will seriously police for instances where an ISP degrades content from competitors or sources that haven’t paid for an express lane, critics remain unconvinced. That’s because Wheeler’s proposed standard says “commercially reasonable” discrimination of internet traffic is OK, but “commercially reasonable” is a vague and ill-defined standard that seems to have loopholes big enough to drive a truck through.
Because of the backlash even two of his fellow Commissioners, Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Ajit Pai, have called for a delay of Thursdays vote on the proposal. There is no indication that Wheeler is heeding their call.
Wheeler is actually talking about regulating the internet like a “common carrier,” like it does phone companies. In other words, internet provider would be treated like public utilities. I’m not holding my breath though. From Politico: Tom Wheeler scrambles to salvage net neutrality plan.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is on the clock and scrambling to salvage his controversial net neutrality plan as the commission counts down to a crucial vote on Thursday.
According to FCC officials, he circulated his latest revisions Monday — trying to pick up the two votes he needs to pass the notice of proposed rule-making to ensure an open Internet.
In the most significant change, Wheeler will seek public comment on whether the FCC should reclassify broadband as a communications utility, giving the agency authority to regulate Internet rates and services as it does with telephone companies, according to commission officials. Net neutrality advocates favor that option as more robust, but it’s opposed by telecoms that fear it will give the government too much power over their business.
Wheeler’s original plan sparked outrage after details emerged that it would allow Internet-service providers, such as AT&T and Verizon, to charge companies like Netflix, Amazon and Google for faster delivery of content. The revised proposal keeps that basic approach but would seek comment on whether a “fast lane” should be banned. It also proposes a new ombudsman position at the FCC to act as a net neutrality advocate for startups and consumers.
So the “fast lane” is still included in the plan. I can’t see how that would be a benefit to ordinary internet users. I guess we should enjoy what we have for now, because the internet as we know it is in serious danger. This is an important story!
So . . . those are my offerings for today. What are you reading and blogging about?
The image to the right shows a commemorative plate from the “Shelter in Plates” project created by Chantal Zakari and Mike Mandela, a married couple who live in Watertown, MA, to mark the day when their town was locked down while hundreds (thousands?) of law enforcement officers swarmed their neighborhood in search of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger of the accused Boston Marathon bombers.
When I first saw these plates, I laughed out loud. The image of someone collecting these plates and displaying them in your home just struck me as ridiculous and incongruous. Every time I looked at them, I laughed out loud and couldn’t stop laughing. “Just the thing to add to a collection of Princess Diana and Elvis plates!”
I too was shocked to see multiple swat teams confronting innocent people in their homes and military equipment in the streets of a residential neighborhood. IMO the response to the killing of an MIT police officer and a carjacking was way over the top. It’s amazing that no one was killed by one of the hundreds of stray bullets that penetrated the walls of people’s houses. And the conduct of the manhunt the next day was even worse. In the end Tsarnaev was discovered, not by law enforcement but by a homeowner who went into his backyard to check on his boat and found the fugitive inside. I guess it’s just the notion of memorializing the events with plates that struck me funny.
But there is also serious side to this story. Last year, the Chief of Police of Watertown contacted couple’s employer at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. From PBS station WGBH:
“We created the website on a Saturday or Sunday, and four days later I got a call from my employer saying that Chief (Ed) Deveau had called and wanted my employer to pull funding out of the project, because if this project went to the press it would be bad publicity for the institution,” Zakari said.
Sarah McKinnon is the dean of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. That is Zakari and Mandel’s place of employment. She remembered the call from Chief Deveau.
“Back in December, I had a phone call from Chief Deveau from Watertown police to talk to me a little bit about it,” McKinnon stated. “He said, ‘Were you aware that the SMFA was mentioned on the website?’ and I said, ‘No, I wasn’t.’ So I took a closer look and indeed saw that SMFA was mentioned on the website itself. SMFA had supported the project by virtue of a faculty enrichment grant.”
The article doesn’t say this specifically, but it appears that McKinnon did ask Zakari and Mandel to remove the school’s name from their website, but the funding for the project was not withdrawn.
McKinnon says that the SMFA respects academic freedom and there was no attempt to rescind the faculty enrichment grant that had actually been dispensed a year ago, despite her misgivings.
“My concern is, I just didn’t want the school seen in a negative light. My concern was not with the particulars of the project, which I didn’t know about, but we didn’t want to be taking advantage of anyone else’s suffering. If this was a project that would put us in a bad light, that was of concern to me,” McKinnon said.
But Mandel argued that Chief Deveau was attempting to intimidate the artists.
“For the chief of police —in his official capacity—to call our employer and make his accusations was an act of intimidation,” Mandel said. “It was an act of harassment and he should desist, and in addition he should apologize.”
I absolutely agree with him, despite the fact that I loathe commemorative plates generally, and think the ones Madel and Zakari designed are ludicrous. The couple’s attorney sent a letter to Deveau demanding that he cease and desist from further harassment. The letter is posted on and their website. You can watch the WGBH interview with Zakari and Mandel on YouTube.
What do you think?
In other news . . .
Following on massive publicity about Cliven Bundy over the past week, the New York Times published a fascinating article about changing demographics in the U.S.: Southern Whites’ Loyalty to G.O.P. Nearing That of Blacks to Democrats.
President Obama’s landslide victory in 2008 was supposed to herald the beginning of a new Democratic era. And yet, six years later, there is not even a clear Democratic majority in the country, let alone one poised for 30 years of dominance….
From the high plains of West Texas to the Atlantic Coast of Georgia, white voters opposed Mr. Obama’s re-election in overwhelming numbers. In many counties 90 percent of white voters chose Mitt Romney, nearly the reversal of the margin by which black voters supported Mr. Obama.
While white Southerners have been voting Republican for decades, the hugeness of the gap was new. Mr. Obama often lost more than 40 percent of Al Gore’s support among white voters south of the historically significant line of the Missouri Compromise. Two centuries later, Southern politics are deeply polarized along racial lines. It is no exaggeration to suggest that in these states the Democrats have become the party of African Americans and that the Republicans are the party of whites.
I hope you’ll read the whole thing if you haven’t already. Particularly interesting is this map of counties (in yellow) where Obama received less than 20% of the white vote in the last election (census data was not available for Alaska).
This pattern represents a reversal of a trend that suggested “the South’s assimilation into the American political and cultural mainstream.” Some southern and western areas of the U.S. are regressing to the point that it’s as if the Civil War never happened. How would these areas respond to a woman President?
Milford, CT high school stabbing
Early yesterday morning, 16-year-old Maren Sanchez was murdered by male classmate who reportedly had asked her to go to the junior prom with him and was angry at being turned down. From the Hartford Courant:
MILFORD, Conn. — A 16-year-old Connecticut high school student was stabbed to death Friday morning, and police are investigating whether the 16-year-old male who is suspected of killing her had wanted to take her to the junior prom, which was scheduled for Friday night.
Jonathan Law High School junior Maren Sanchez was killed in a hallway at the school.
The suspect, also a junior at the school in Milford, was charged as a juvenile offender with murder. His name is being withheld because he is a minor, police said….
Milford Police Chief Keith Mello said that the assault happened about 7:15 a.m. in a hallway inside Jonathan Law High School. A staff member witnessed part of the assault, he said, and tried to help. Others joined the effort, and EMS personnel soon arrived to take Sanchez to Bridgeport Hospital. She was pronounced dead at 7:43 a.m., Mello said….
Police said that Sanchez suffered multiple cuts to her neck, chest and face. Investigators recovered a knife at the scene.
The prom was cancelled. Milford is about a half-hour’s drive from Newtown, CT. Read more and see photos at The New York Daily News, which also learned the name of the alleged murderer.
Jonathan Law High School students should have been going to their junior prom Friday night. Instead, the teens went to a seaside vigil for their murdered classmate.
About 200 community members and students, some wearing their prom dresses and tuxedos, gathered Friday evening at Walnut Beach in Milford, Conn., to remember 16-year-old Maren Sanchez, a junior who was murdered earlier in the day at the school after rejecting a classmate’s invitation to the dance….
Anguished classmates funneled down to Walnut Beach around 6 p.m. — just one hour before the school’s junior prom was scheduled to start at a nearby banquet hall. The annual dance was postponed after the tragedy.
Wearing their formal wear, students cried and prayed at the local beach, the Hartford Courant reported. Friends shouted out memories of their slain classmate as they released purple balloons into the sky and yelled “Love you, Maren,” the newspaper reported.
Earlier, students covered a rock outside the school with purple spray paint and wrote the teen’s name and birthday, Aug. 26, 1997, alongside a white heart.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden Pond, and Climate Change
Yesterday, NPR’s Science Friday had a report on Henry David Thoreau’s careful 160-year-old observations of plants in the Walden Pond area of Concord, MA and how they are being used by climate scientists today. The guest was Richard Primack, Professor of Biology at Boston University and author of the book, Walden Warming: Climate Change Comes to Thoreau’s Woods.
From The Guardian, Scientists use Thoreau’s journal notes to track climate change.
Fittingly for a man seen as the first environmentalist, Henry David Thoreau, who described his isolated life in 1840s Massachusetts in the classic of American literature Walden, is now helping scientists pin down the impacts of climate change.
The American author, who died in 1862, is best known for his account of the two years he spent living in a one-room wooden cabin near Walden Pond “because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life”. Packed with descriptions of the natural world he loved, Walden is partly autobiographical, partly a manifesto for Thoreau’s belief in the rightness of living close to nature. “I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude,” he writes. “Simplify, simplify.”
But Thoreau was also a naturalist, and he meticulously observed the first flowering dates for over 500 species of wildflowers in Concord, Massachusetts, between 1851 and 1858, recording them in a set of tables. When Richard Primack, a biology professor at Boston University, and fellow researcher Abraham Miller-Rushing discovered Thoreau’s unpublished records, they immediately realised how useful they would be for pinning down the impact of the changing climate over the last century and a half. The timing of seasonal events such as flowering dates is known as phenology, and the phenologies of plants in a temperate climate such as that of Massachusetts are very sensitive to temperature, say the scientists. Studying phenology is therefore a good indicator of ecological responses to climate change.
“We had been searching for historical records for about six months when we learned about Thoreau’s plant observations. We knew right away that they would be incredibly useful for climate change research because they were from 150 years ago, there were so many species included, and they were gathered by Thoreau, who is so famous in the United States for his book Walden,” said Primack. “The records were surprisingly easy to locate once we were aware of them. A copy was given to us by an independent research scholar, who knew that they would be valuable for climate change research.”
For a more in-depth report of the research project, check out this long-form article at Smithsonian Magazine.
In the real world, where we’re definitely not doing much to address climate change, The Financial Times reports that, a “senior scientist” has charged that the “Climate Change Report was Watered Down.”
A politically sensitive part of the latest report by the world’s leading authority on climate change was gutted at the insistence of government officials, one of the study’s authors has revealed.
Nearly 75 per cent of a section on the impact of international climate negotiations was deleted at a meeting in Berlin two weeks ago, said one of the authors responsible for that part of the report, Harvard University’s Professor Robert Stavins.
The Berlin meeting was held so representatives of the world’s governments could approve a summary of a massive report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, on how to tackle climate change which took hundreds of authors from around the world nearly five years to compile.
The report was the third of a trilogy of studies the IPCC has released since September in its fifth major assessment of the latest state of knowledge about climate change.
Prof Stavins, a leading expert on climate negotiations at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, wrote to the organisers of the Berlin meeting last week to express his “disappointment and frustration” at the outcome.
Read the rest at the Financial Times link.