Evening Quick Reads: Open Thread

Good Evening

No time for elaborate links or comments, this time of year drives me batty!

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Holiday Shopping

My dad has  been using this “end of the word” thing as an excuse for the last 3 years. He only has a week and a few days left before he is S.O.L. and needs to just do the things he has to do.

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Mummy Morsi

Clever…

Okay, this next link bothered me…the tone of the article…tell me if you feel it too.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn Settles With Maid: How the Case Changed France – The Daily Beast

The maid changed France, not the sexual predator who was responsible for his own actions.

And one more, Researchers find clues to the Baltic Crusades in animal bones, horses and the extinct aurochs

A multidisciplinary project seeks to understand the Eastern Baltic Crusades through the lens of ecology. Horses, for example, aided the Christians in battle, while the castles the Crusaders built decimated forests.

Stanford researchers have discovered that pagan villages plundered by medieval knights during the little-known Baltic Crusades had some problems in common with the modern-day global village.

Among them: deforestation, asymmetric warfare and .

This is an open thread…


SDB Evening News Reads for 082311: Libya, No Townhalls For You, Maxine …Say the word “Black”

Good Afternoon…or should I say Evening.

Wow, what a news day today…with the earth shattering earthquake that hit Virginia, to the earth shattering news that Libyan Rebels have invaded the Mad Dog’s compound…there is just so much to report on.

First, I know I am sounding like a broken record, but this Hurricane Irene is something people in the possible track should pay attention to:

Hurricane IRENE

Coastal Watches/Warnings and 5-Day Forecast Cone for Storm Center

Click image to zoom in – Download GIS data
Other images: 5-Day track on3-Day track on3-Day track off

[Image of 5-day forecast and coastal areas under a warning or a watch]

 

Hey, being born and raised in Florida…you get used to paying attention to Hurricane Warnings when they are issued. So keep an eye on Irene.

Alright, now here is what is going on in Libya:

Libya Live Blog | Al Jazeera Blogs

Al Jazeera staff and correspondents update you on important developments in the Libya uprising.

Al Jazeera is not responsible for content derived from external sites.

AJE Live Stream - Special Coverage: Libya Uprising - Tweeting revolutions

Rebels Overrun Gadhafi Compound – WSJ.com

Libyans poured into streets surrounding Moammar Gadhafi’s fortress-like compound in Tripoli on Tuesday, after rebels captured it following fierce street battles against forces loyal to the longtime ruler.

Streets around the Bab al-Aziziya compound rang with mortars, heavy machine-guns and antiaircraft guns throughout much of the day as rebels took up positions around the symbolic heart of Col. Gadhafi’s regime.

[0823libyass04] Associated Press

An explosion hit near Gadhafi’s main compound in the Bab al-Aziziya district in Tripoli on Tuesday.

Rebels are looting Gaddafi’s stuff, and walking out of the compound with clothing and other Gaddafi items, the look of joy on their faces is really something to see…But of course, Gaddafi is nowhere to be found…

I am going to move on to the US political front.

Obama is getting it from both sides today, first I will point out what the GOP Post that has this offering today:  Obama’s claim that GOP is holding up trade deals – The Fact Checker – The Washington Post

“Let’s pass trade deals to level the playing field for our businesses. . . ..These are common-sense ideas – ideas that have been supported by both Democrats and Republicans. The only thing holding them back is politics. The only thing preventing us from passing these bills is the refusal by some in Congress to put country ahead of party. That’s the problem right now. That’s what’s holding this country back. That’s what we have to change.”

— President Obama, weekly address, Aug. 20, 2011

Those were pretty tough words by the president over the weekend — “the only thing preventing us from passing these bills is the refusal by some in Congress to put country ahead of party,” referring to bills he suggests are bottled up in Congress, including free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

Not so fast, cry the Republicans: The White House has never submitted the trade bills to Congress for approval. The issue is so confusing — and Obama has been demanding immediate action for so long — that one White House spokesman actually expressed surprise this month when reporters noted the trade bills have not been submitted.

“Have we not sent them over?” asked Josh Earnest, drawing laughter from the press corps. “I mean, look, clearly the legislative mechanics are something that I’m not intimately steeped in.”

And now for Maxine Waters latest smack down, what a woman!

Waters to Obama aide: Say ‘black’ – Jennifer Epstein – POLITICO.com

Maxine Waters speaks at a news conference. | AP Photo

‘Let me hear you say ‘black’, Maxine Waters said. | AP Photo Close

Rep. Maxine Waters and other black leaders lobbed heated questions at one of President Barack Obama’s top jobs advisers Monday, pressing him to confirm the White House is focusing on creating jobs in struggling African-American communities — and to say the word “black.”

Don Graves, the executive director of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, said at a nighttime forum at a black church in Miami that the president is “focused on every community across the country,” The Miami Herald reported.

And here is the best part…Gotta love Maxine!

But when he added that “certain communities have been hit harder than other communities,” Waters pushed him. “Let me hear you say ‘black,’” the California Democrat said.

As the crowd cheered, The Washington Post said in its report on the Congressional Black Caucus-sponsored event, Graves quietly said: “black, African-American, Latino — we’re going to focus on getting people back to work.”

Graves replied “quietly,” oh I bet…sounds more like he responded “sheepishly” to me!

Waters is one of the only politicians making connections with the people lately…Invisible Town Hall Revolution Gets Bigger and Bigger | FDL News Desk

Chris Bowers notes a couple of my posts about the invisible town hall revolution, supplementing it with other examples of protests and progressive questioners at GOP town hall meetings from around the country. He writes:

These actions are truly widespread. As such, it’s worth wondering why the media coverage has primarily been restricted to local news and not become a significant national narrative. A rationale sympathetic to the national political media would argue that these town halls lack the threat of imminent violence that was simmering in 2009, thus rendering the 2011 iteration both tame and repetitive as a story. A less sympathetic rationale would be that the national political media is simply differential to the angry conservatives, who are believed to have dominated electoral politics for decades and are thus allocated disproportionate attention.

First of all, the actions are more widespread than even Bowers catalogs. Here’s a protest at Dave Reichert’s office. And here’s a town hall with Rep. Jim Renacci. And one with Rep. Mike Kelly. And one with Bill Huizenga. And Bill Shuster. And Elton Gallegly. And Brian Bilbray. And Nan Hayworth. And Jeff Denham. And Andy Harris. And Marsha Blackburn. And John Culberson. And Bill Johnson. And Mario Diaz-Balart. And Joe Wilson. I could go on. The numbers of actions are in the dozens, and may reach three digits.

Dayen reports that 60% of Congress is not holding town hall meetings, which is why I found this link from CounterPunch interesting:  David Martinez: Why, That Must be Nancy Pelosi!

If any one ever needed a better reason to throw the Democratic Party into the garbage can of history, last Tuesday night’s “Town Hall Meeting” in Oakland, California, was a perfect example of the party’s pathos, duplicity and outright arrogance.

The night had been billed as a chance for people to “tell their stories” directly to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland.

Here is where it gets good…

Then the event began, and the politicians filed onto the stage and were introduced. But first came stern warnings against anyone taking issue with Nancy Pelosi: Green For All’s Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins condescendingly explained to the assembled audience that this event was about “unity”, and that if we were “divided” our enemies would be made stronger. What she was really saying was that no one was going to be allowed to criticize the politicians on the stage. So she was basically calling for the antithesis of politics, which is at the very least about criticism.  She then demanded that the night’s story “will not be about the two people in the back who are angry at Leader Pelosi; tonight the story will only be about jobs!”

However, much to the event organizers’ chagrin, there were more than only two angry people in the room. As Pelosi took the stage, someone yelled “Sellout!” When Pelosi brought up the recent debt-ceiling agreement, several more people yelled at her “Well why did you vote for it then?” and the Congresswoman was forced to explain why she had sold out, saying that she had signed the budget deal to avoid the U.S. defaulting, and claimed that at least Medicare and Social Security had been saved. She neglected to mention that those programs can, and will, be put on the block by the “Super Congress” that is going to decide where the actual cuts will come from.

After a couple of more hecklers had been hustled out of the room by security, it was time for the “speakout” part of the event to start, and one by one, different people told their stories and made comments to the politicians on the stage. Everyone spoke of being out of work or too broke to make ends meet, and it was heartbreaking to hear from so many folks who were having such a rough time. One old man told the Congresspeople, “As far as I’m concerned, the Democratic Party no longer speaks for us, as they haven’t been standing up for workers or creating jobs.”

Pelosi said that the Democratic Party was going to work on “job creation” by rebuilding the US manufacturing sector. Martinez writes that he almost burst out laughing at that remark.

…after perhaps 45 minutes of people’s commentary, Pelosi announced that she would shortly be leaving to attend another event, but assured us that she would watch the rest of the people’s stories on videotape at a later date.

[…]

Then, to add insult to injury, instead of letting the remaining people have their chance to talk to the most powerful Democratic politician in the country, besides the president, the organizers announced that we would now watch a video about what other people were saying at events just like this around the country. The large video screens on the walls came to life and we began to watch a film about people doing exactly what we had been doing just five minutes prior. It was beyond ridiculous. It was kind of surreal.

So the people were then treated to a commercial…and sent home.  Take a look at the entire article, you won’t be disappointed.

Moving on to Texas…Even Teen Birth Rates Are Bigger in Texas | Mother Jones

Via Feministing, here’s a priceless video of Texas Gov. Rick Perry trying to explain that you should ignore his state’s high rates of teen pregnancy and just trust him that his abstinence-only sex education policy works. The clip is from a sit-down that Perry did with Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune in October 2010, before he threw his hat in the ring for the 2012 GOP presidential primary.

Smith asks why the governor continues to promote policies that simply tell kids not to have sex when the state has the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the US. The state actually appears to rank fourth in teen pregnancies, but third in teen birth rates. It’s pretty bad either way.

Perry says that “Abstinence works,” and this is from “his own personal experience…” Oh, what could Jon Stewart or Colbert do with this tidbit of a quote?

Video is there at the link…

By now you have heard about Dominique Strauss-Kahn, this is a link to a Spiegel article:  A Future for DSK? French Socialists Wary of Strauss-Kahn’s Return – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

While Socialists in France are pleased that charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn have been dropped, they are wary of the role he might play in next year’s French presidential elections. Party leaders appear to be keeping a cautious distance.

The news that charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn were dropped in New York on Tuesday has been greeted by France’s Socialist Party in Paris’ Rue Solferino with a sigh of relief. Only three days before the summer meeting of Socialists in La Rochelle, the rumors, suspicions and accusations against Strauss-Kahn and his alleged rape of Nafissatou Diallo, a housekeeper at New York’s Sofitel, will come to an end for the time being. Just two months before the Socialists will hold their primary election ahead of French presidential elections in 2012, they can finally put an end to the endless American drama surrounding their fellow party member.

For the time being is right…End of Rape Case Brings the French Relief, and Political Questions – NYTimes.com

Many also noted that a civil case against him is still pending in New York, and the complaint filed by a French, Tristane Banon, who said he tried to rape her in 2003. French prosecutors are investigating. Her lawyer, David Koubbi, said that Ms. Banon’s case and credibility were not damaged by the events in New York and that Ms. Banon “is combative” and “saddened” by what happened to the accuser in New York, Nafissatou Diallo, “because she believes her.”

In London, the toxicology reports are back from Amy Winehouse’s autopsy: Amy Winehouse toxicology reports showed ‘no illegal substances’ | Music | The Guardian

The family of Amy Winehouse has revealed toxicology reports showed there were “no illegal substances” in her body at the time of her death.

The 27-year-old singer was found dead at her north London home last month. Her family said the reports showed alcohol was present in her body, but it is not yet known if it contributed to her death.

Well, that is quite a bit of news for you to digest, will see you later in the comments!


Strauss-Kahn Accuser’s Words “Misrepresented” in Leaks to Media

Nafissatou Diallo

Just a short time ago, the woman who accused former IMF head Dominque Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her spoke briefly at press conference at a Brooklyn church.

“I’m here because I had people call me a lot of bad names,” Ms. Diallo said softly at the Christian Cultural Center on Flatlands Avenue. “A lot of things they said about me was not true.”

Before being introduced by Rev. A.R. Bernard, senior pastor at the center, Ms. Diallo, 32, dressed in a dark suit, rubbed her fingers together slowly, blinking often as she gazed out the windows of the lobby, past the bank of cameras and reporters.
“Me and my family, we are going through a lot,” she said. “We cry every day.”

She spoke for less than five minutes and was escorted from the podium when she finished without taking any questions; her lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, and other supporters remained at the microphone and spoke with reporters.

Diallo’s attorney says that the Manhattan DA’s office either mistranslated or deliberately misinterpreted taped conversations she had with an Arizona prison inmate.

Ms. Diallo and her lead lawyer, Kenneth P. Thompson, spent much of Wednesday at the district attorney’s office in Manhattan, where they listened to a recording of conversations Ms. Diallo had with a fellow African immigrant in an Arizona jail after she said she was attacked. Law enforcement officials told Mr. Thompson and The New York Times last month that Ms. Diallo could be heard saying on the tape “words to the effect of: ‘Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing.’ ”

But after listening to the recording on Wednesday, Mr. Thompson told reporters at a news conference that Ms. Diallo’s statements had been mischaracterized. He said that at no point did she raise the issue of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s wealth or status in the way that prosecutors had described it. Rather, he said, the man she was speaking with, who initiated the calls to Ms. Diallo, remarked during one conversation that Ms. Diallo could stand to gain money from the case, but she quickly dismissed the idea and said it was a matter for her lawyer.

Thompson also noted that in the first phone call, Diallo’s description of what happened with Strauss-Kahn was

consistent with what she told investigators a day earlier. In sexual-assault cases, people who hear an early account of an attack are called “outcry witnesses,” and are often used to buttress the credibility of a person making an accusation.

“She told the guy that someone tried to rape her at her job,” Mr. Thompson said in an interview after his news conference. “She said: ‘I didn’t know who he was. We fought each other. Because he wasn’t able to take off my clothes, he put his penis in my mouth. He touched me. They took me to the hospital, and they arrested him.’ ”

The DA’s office said they could not comment on evidence in an ongoing investigation. But didn’t they already have quite a bit to say? Someone leaked negative information about Diallo to the media, resulting in Strauss-Kahn being released on bail while his accuser was treated like a liar and money-grubber. From CNN Justice:

The hotel maid who has accused the then-head of the International Monetary Fund of sexually assaulting her met Wednesday with prosecutors for at least seven hours….

Prior meetings between the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, and prosecutors who are deciding whether to pursue charges against French financier Dominique Strauss-Kahn ended abruptly last month after Thompson accused Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance of “abandoning” her.

Prosecutors had disclosed credibility issues with Diallo, who is from Guinea.

[....]

Diallo’s attorney said the Sofitel New York employee wants to tell a jury what happened to her. “I want justice. I want him to go to jail,” Diallo told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in an interview that aired this week.

I give Diallo a lot of credit for coming forward publicly and revealing her identity. I hope Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance will let her have her day in court.


Perhaps Strauss-Kahn Really WAS Set Up?

Dominque Strauss-Kahn

Lots of people questioned the convenient timing of the Strauss-Kahn arrest, and I pooh-poohed them. Now The New York Times is reporting that the woman who accused former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault is turning out to be a very different sort of person from the simple hotel maid she had originally appeared to be–so much so that the case against Strauss-Kahn is “on the verge of collapse.”

Although forensic tests found unambiguous evidence of a sexual encounter between Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a French politician, and the woman, prosecutors do not believe much of what the accuser has told them about the circumstances or about herself.

Since her initial allegation on May 14, the accuser has repeatedly lied, one of the law enforcement officials said….Among the discoveries, one of the officials said, are issues involving the asylum application of the 32-year-old housekeeper, who is Guinean, and possible links to criminal activities, including drug dealing and money laundering.

Either the woman or her boyfriend, who is currently in jail for possession of 400 pounds of pot, has apparently been using her name to facilitate a drug dealing operation. She claims she didn’t know anything about all this, but she was recorded talking to the jailed man about how they could profit from the sexual assault charges against Strauss-Kahn.

They also learned that she was paying hundreds of dollars every month in phone charges to five different companies. The woman insisted she only had a single phone and said she knew nothing about the deposits except that they were made by a man she described as her fiancé and his friends.

Could she have been paid to set Strauss-Kahn up and get him fired from the IMF as well as dropped from consideration as a candidate for President of France? If so, who set him up? Who had motive, means, and opportunity, and who benefited? I see a couple of possibilities:

1. The Brits and Americans wanted him off the IMF so they could really stick it to Greece. Strauss-Kahn is a socialist and was talking about trying to help struggling countries. Obviously the Obama administration or some rogue element in the government had means and opportunity.

2. Sarkozy wanted to get rid of a dangerous rival for the French presidency and also to install his Finance Minister as head of the IMF. He would probably need cooperation from the Obama administration or the aforementioned rogue government elements to get the NYPD on board. (Coincidentally (or not?), Sarkozy was attacked in France today).

Are there other possibilities I’ve overlooked?


Tuesday Reads: Goolsbee Gone, Hotel Workers Heckle Strauss-Kahn, Cancer Drugs, and a Confession

Good Morning!!

White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee will soon resign to return to teaching at Milton Friedman Institute the University of Chicago.

“Since I first ran for the U.S. Senate, Austan has been a close friend and one of my most trusted advisers,” President Obama said….”Over the past several years, he has helped steer our country out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and although there is still much work ahead, his insights and counsel have helped lead us toward an economy that is growing and creating millions of jobs. — He is one of America’s great economic thinkers.”

Maybe … if you favor NAFTA and cutting Social Security. And where are those “millions of jobs” Obama is talking about–China?

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who has been accused of sexual assault on a hotel maid was jeered by NYC hotel workers yesterday outside a Manhattan courthouse.

Lawyers for the maid who has accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of criminal sexual assault in a New York hotel room served notice yesterday that she will testify at his trial and “tell the world” what he inflicted upon her, as the former IMF chief was met with a chorus of heckling from hotel workers outside a Manhattan courthouse.

The warning, delivered minutes after Mr Strauss-Kahn entered a ‘not guilty’ plea to the seven charges filed against him, is the latest indication of how ferocious the trial is likely to be with the defence, the prosecution and now lawyers for the accuser all aggressively preparing to engage in battle.

[....]

Theatrics outside the court yesterday were further stoked by hotel maids pushing against police barriers jeering Mr Strauss-Kahn as he, accompanied by his defence team and his wife, Anne Sinclair, arrived for his formal arraignment. The hotel employees, bussed in by their union and most dressed in uniforms they usually wear to work, cried “shame” as he walked past. Wendy Baranello, a hotel union organiser, called the charges “outrageous” and said the accuser “is a hard-working woman… just doing her job.”

As Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) left the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference this past weekend, he was approached by a young Catholic man who asked Ryan:

“Why did you choose to model your budget off the extreme ideology of Ayn Rand rather than values of basic economic justice in the Bible?” James Salt of Faithful America asked Ryan, the author of the Republican budget, before offering him a Bible to read.

Ryan ignored Salt’s questions and briskly walked away.

Faithful America has launched a campaign to encourage Ryan to put down the conservative writer Ayn Rand, who advocated selfishness, and pick up the Bible. The group said his budget plan “reflects Ayn Rand’s love of greed and contempt for the weak by giving huge tax breaks to millionaires while making deep and harmful cuts to programs that protect seniors, struggling families and the middle class.”

Finally the U.S. Supreme Court has done something we can cheer. From Raw Story:

The US Supreme Court gave the green light Monday to a group seeking to bring a class-action lawsuit against US oil services firm Halliburton for alleged fraud.

The nine judges unanimously decided that the plaintiffs, a group of investors, do not need to prove a direct relationship between Halliburton’s alleged fraudulent statements and the investors’ financial losses in order to pursue the lawsuit.

Halliburton is accused of making a series of false statements about its business dealings that artificially inflated its stock price.

Afterward, Halliburton disclosed corrections that then caused stock prices to drop at the loss of investors.

The suit is on behalf of all investors who purchased Halliburton stock between June 3, 1999 and December 7, 2001.

During that time Dick Cheney was Halliburton’s CEO.

There is some “big news in the fight against cancer.”

Two new studies report dramatic progress in treating advanced melanoma and lung cancer.

Both of these treatments use an approach that is creating a lot of excitement among doctors –tailoring drugs to the genetic makeup of individual patients, and the results can be remarkable

A few years ago, Bill Schuette was preparing for the end.

But then he heard about something new: an experimental drug that targets a certain type of lung cancer based on its genetic makeup. Tests showed he was a candidate.

His rare form of non-small-cell lung cancer has a genetic mutation called ALK that fuels cancer growth. The new drug, Crizotinib, works by blocking this abnormal gene, causing tumors to shrink.

Skin cancer treatment: Biggest breakthrough in 30 years – The New Scientist

Two new drugs for metastatic melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – are being hailed as the biggest breakthrough therapies for cancer in the last 30 years. The drugs reduce tumour size, significantly increasing survival rates.

Although melanoma can be cured if caught early enough, individuals in the late stages of the disease are only expected to survive for an average of six months. One of the two drugs – vemurafenib – works by inhibiting the effects of a mutated form of the BRAF gene, which is thought to accompany around half of the cases of malignant skin tumours.

[....]

In a study presented this week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Chapman’s team compared both drugs on 672 patients with late stage, inoperable melanoma and a mutation in the BRAF gene.

The group found that 48 per cent of those receiving vemurafenib responded to the treatment, while only 5 per cent of patients responded to dacarbazine. At 6 months, survival was 84 per cent in the group taking vemurafenib compared to 64 per cent in those taking dacarbazine.

A new drug for breast cancer: Aromasin a major breakthrough in fight against breast cancer, cutting risk by 65 percent

Doctor Harvey Greenberg is the director of University Community Hospital’s Cancer Program. He said, “There’s been some suggestion that women are reluctant to take Tamoxifen due to the potential side effects,” which reportedly include developing blood clots, or developing uterine cancer.

A study was conducted to see if a different class of medicines could be used for the prevention of breast cancer. Study results just released show the estrogen blocker Aromasin reduced the chance of developing breast cancer by 65 percent in post menopausal women at high risk.

The study, which was sponsored by Pfizer — the company that makes this drug — broke the participants into two groups: one that got the drug and one that got the placebo. There were 11 invasive breast cancers reported in the group that got the drug compared to 32 cases in the group that got the placebo.

Doctor Greenberg says, “The most important take away is that there is now another class of medicines that can be helpful in preventing breast cancer in high-risk women. The second take away is if there are women who have been identified as possibly benefiting from Tamoxifen but they won’t take it, here’s a substitute.”

For those of you who have read this far, I’m going to make a confession. I’ve been horribly depressed by the political news lately, and for the past couple of weeks I’ve been watching the trial of Casey Anthony, a young woman accused of murdering her 2-1/2 year-old daughter.

I know, I know … tabloid stuff. But I’m telling you, it’s more interesting than watching Law & Order, CSI, and Criminal Minds all rolled into one. Yesterday, there was testimony from an researcher on human decomposition from the “Body Farm” at Oak Ridge National laboratory.

Dr. Arpad Vass testified that he detected human decomposition in the air from the trunk of Casey’s car. It’s the first time a jury has heard testimony about the controversial air tests. The evidence has never been used in a criminal case before.

Prosecutors say the tests prove Caylee’s [Casey's daughter] body was in the trunk of Casey’s car.

“I can find no other plausible explanation other than that to explain all the results we found,” said Vass.

Vass testified that a machine called a “gas chromatograph” can identify chemicals that are unique to human decomposition.

“Those are the chemicals that a cadaver-locating dog could smell,” Vass said.

Yesterday there was testimony from an FBI forensic expert about a hair found in the truck of Anthony’s car that showed signs of human decomposition.

In addition to the opportunity to learn about the latest methods in forensic science, the trial offers a chance to observe Casey Anthony’s amazing lack of affect as she listens to testimony about her allegedly killing her child. She has to be one of the most evil human beings I’ve ever encountered. If you’re interested in this kind of thing, you can watch the trial streamed live on-line at a number of sites. Here’s one. Frankly, I find it much less depressing than observing American political culture.

So … what are you reading and blogging about today?


Elite Conspiracy Theories and the Arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Dominque Strauss-Kahn and wife Anne

When one of us common people questions the Bush failures before 9/11 or the Warren Commission’s insistence that JFK was killed by a lone gunman, we are laughed at by the corporate media and lectured by politicians. But when one of the Global Elite gets in trouble, conspiracy theories are suddenly in vogue. Now that a global banker and possible candidate for the French presidency is accused of a sexual attack on a lowly hotel maid, elite conspiracy theories are running rampant in the U.S. and international media. I’ll give you a few examples.

At the Pakistan Observer, Ali Ashraf Kahn argues that Strauss-Kahn had to brought down, first because he would very likely have beaten the “American poodle Sarakozi” in a race for the presidency of France, and second because he (Strauss-Kahn) had offended the international banksters and corporations by proposing more liberal policies at the IMF which would have been a threat to the dollar. According to Ali Ashraf Kahn, getting rid of Strauss-Kahn would–along with U.S. military actions in Libya and Pakistan–would help to “save American predominance in the world.”

This incident goes to prove the hidden agenda of an international vested interest group trying to build and secure an American Empire for their master, which has not spared even Strauss-Kahn, who has been fixed in a rape attempt with a 32 year old hotel maid in a country where teen aged unwed mothers are a normal accepted feature. The former French Foreign Minister Strauss-Kahn, once if he was elected as president of France would have worked to strengthen the Euro to bring down dollar, which was of serious concern for the Federal Reserve Board in the already ongoing currency war with China. John F. Kennedy, US president was murdered for his only sin of canceling Federal Reserve Act of 1913 in 1963, when for the first time dollar currency was issued with the seal of US government, soon after his assassination President Lyndon B. Johnson revived this Act to continue their financial exploitation.

The author of this article appears to have a problem understanding the distinction between rape and consensual sex that results in pregnancies, but I’ll let that go for the moment. Kahn explains that Strauss-Kahn was trying to make radical changes at the IMF–so much so that Strauss Kahn won high praise from Joseph Stiglitz, which was apparently the final “kiss of death.”

Strauss-Kahn was trying to move the bank in a more positive direction, a direction that didn’t require that countries leave their economies open to the ravages of foreign capital that moves in swiftly-pushing up prices and creating bubbles, and departs just as fast, leaving behind the scourge of high unemployment, plunging demand, hobbled industries, and deep recession. Strauss-Kahn had set out on a “kinder and gentler” path, one that would not force foreign leaders to privatize their state-owned industries or crush their labour unions. Naturally, his actions were not warmly received by the banker’s mafia and multi national corporations who look to the IMF to provide legitimacy to their ongoing plunder of the rest of the world. These are the people who think that the current policies are “just fine” because they produce the desired results they’re looking for, which is bigger profits for themselves and deeper poverty for everyone else.

I have to admit, I’m in sympathy with those goals. There’s a lot more, so read the whole thing if you want more detail.

The next conspiracy theory is from Uganda. The author, Dr. Kihura Nkuba, also argues that Strauss-Kahn’s attack on the U.S. dollar is what led to his downfall. Nkuba says that police in the racist U.S. would never take the word of a poor black woman against that of a powerful white man unless motivated by a political conspiracy.

A woman from West Africa, assaulted by a famous white male, a future president of France, to be listened to by the New York Police, is amazing. But is it? [....]

New York police has [sic] been rummaging through DSK’s diaries, hotel registries, phone records, yearbooks and have made sure that the “great seducer” always appears handcuffed and dressed in a “pervie” raincoat with three-days stubble before they parade him in front of the media. He gets this treatment even though he has no criminal record and nothing, but the sketchy accusations of a room service cleaner.

What is his real crime? Strauss-Kahn was mounting an attack against the dollar and had called for a new world reserve currency that would challenge the dominance of the dollar and protect against future financial instability. He suggested adding emerging market countries’ currencies, such as the Yuan, to a basket of currencies that the IMF will administer to add stability to the global system….Strauss-Kahn saw a greater role for the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights, (SDRs) which is currently composed of the dollar, sterling, euro and yen, over time but said it will take a great deal of international cooperation to make that work.”

I love the way these male authors toss aside the charges against Strauss-Kahn–in Nkuba’s case, while complaining about racial prejudice. I guess he goes by the “bros before hos” rule: racism bad, sexism invisible.

Naomi Wolf also has a conspiracy theory about the Strauss-Kahn arrest that goes along with her defense of Julian Assange against sexual abuse charges in Sweden. She begins by comparing the NYC police response to the Strauss-Kahn case with the case of two of New York’s “finest,” Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata, who are on trial for raping a woman in Manhattan.

According to Wolf,

Moreno and Mata have not been asked to strip naked for “evidence” photos, were not initially denied bail, and were not held in solitary confinement, and are not being strip-searched daily. Their entire case has followed the usual timetable of many months, as evidence was gathered, testimony compiled and arguments made.

On the other hand, Wolf writes,

After a chambermaid reportedly told her supervisor at the elegant Sofitel hotel that she had been sexually assaulted, the suspect was immediately tracked down, escorted off a plane just before its departure, and arrested. High-ranking detectives, not lowly officers, were dispatched to the crime scene. The DNA evidence was sequenced within hours, not the normal eight or nine days. By the end of the day’s news cycle, New York City police spokespeople had made uncharacteristic and shockingly premature statements supporting the credibility of the victim’s narrative — before an investigation was complete.

The accused was handcuffed and escorted before television cameras — a New York tradition known as a “perp walk.” The suspect was photographed naked, which is also unusual, initially denied bail and held in solitary confinement. The Police Commissioner has boasted to the press that Strauss-Kahn is strip-searched now multiple times a day — also unheard-of.

I didn’t know that Strauss-Kahn was being subjected to daily strip-searches, but it seems to be true, according to the New York Post.

Prison brass and the NYPD have an airtight plan to safeguard the jet-setting French moneyman by having him isolated, chained, shackled — and repeatedly strip-searched — before and after court appearances, including a bail hearing newly scheduled for today.

“He will be strip-searched when he leaves Rikers Island. He will be strip-searched when he arrives in court. He’s strip-searched when he leaves court, and he’s strip-searched when he gets back to Rikers,” said Norman Seabrook, head of the correction officers union.

“When he arrives to the courthouse, he’s going to be put in an isolated cell away from other inmates,” said Seabrook. “This is for fear that another inmate would try to kill him to make a name for himself.”

Yet, as Wolf points out, hotel maids are routinely subject to sexual attacks during their work. Her conspiracy theory is that in the modern surveillance state,

men like former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who was investigating financial wrongdoing by the insurance giant AIG, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Strauss-Kahn — whose efforts to reform the IMF gained him powerful opponents — can be, and are, kept under constant surveillance. Indeed, Strauss-Kahn, who had been the odds-on favorite to defeat Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s French presidential election, probably interested more than one intelligence service.

This does not mean that Strauss-Kahn is innocent or that he is guilty. It means that policy outcomes can be advanced nowadays, in a surveillance society, by exploiting or manipulating sex-crime charges, whether real or inflated.

She has a pretty good point there. But the maid who reported Strauss-Kahn’s attack was a member of a union, as Dean Baker pointed out. Could that be why her employer made sure she was treated well by the police?

The reason that this is an important part of the story is that it is likely that Strauss-Kahn’s alleged victim might not have felt confident enough to pursue the issue with either her supervisors or law enforcement agencies, if she had not been protected by a union contract. The vast majority of hotel workers in the United States, like most workers in the private sector, do not enjoy this protection.

Dean Baker was also disappointed in Strauss-Kahn’s arrest, because whether or not he is guilty, his resignation spells the end of reform at the IMF.

Reading all these arguments for a conspiracy against Dominque Strauss-Kahn has given me pause. It certainly makes sense that the U.S. government would want to end his tenure at the IMF and prevent him from becoming President of France. But how could they know he would attack a hotel maid? Does the conspiracy require her involvement? That’s the serious hangup I have in buying into these authors’ claims–much as I do always enjoy a good conspiracy theory.

Patrica J. Williams touches all the bases in an article about the case at NPR. On the conspiracy issue, she argues for a skeptical approach to conspiracy theories, while keeping an open mind.

Politics is a complicated, dirty business, as the impeachment hearings of President Clinton ought to have instructed us. (Who guessed back then that Newt Gingrich, while skewering Clinton’s morals, was cheating on his then-wife with his present wife?) For Americans, who by and large have never heard of DSK, the possibility of his arrest being a set-up is inconceivable. But in the immediate aftermath of his detention, a majority of French citizens believe he has been purposely brought down. Why? Dominique Strauss-Kahn was well on track not just to become France’s president but its first Jewish president. As head of the IMF, he led that institution in a distinctly progressive manner. He sharply critiqued corrupt American bankers and banking practices and, early on, predicted the collapse of the mortgage market. As a center-left Socialist party member, he was close to negotiating a European Union bailout for Greece. And his elimination from the election empowers the candidacy of Marine LePen, head of the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic National Front party, whose popularity, alarmingly enough, currently polls higher than that of Nicolas Sarkozy.

I’m certainly going to keep all this in mind as I follow the developments in the Strauss-Kahn case. I’d love to know what you all think about it too, so please chime in!


SDB Evening News Reads for 052311

People walk a devastated street in Joplin, Missouri (map), on Sunday, hours after a tornado killed at least 116 people, as of Monday afternoon, and left the town in ruins. Photo National Geographic.

Good Afternoon, so much destruction over in Joplin MO.  I have some links for you to bring you up to speed on the recent casualty numbers.

Death Toll From Missouri Tornado Jumps : NPR

A massive tornado that tore a 6-mile path across southwestern Missouri killed at least 116 people as it smashed the city of Joplin, ripping into a hospital, crushing cars and leaving behind only splintered tree trunks where entire neighborhoods once stood.

[…]

Missy Shelton of KSMU reported that the city was eerily quiet, punctuated now and then by the sound of a siren, as people wandered around, bewildered, and took in the destruction.

“They’re walking around in a daze,” Shelton said. “Even people who’ve lived here for years and years are having trouble finding their way around because the street signs are gone and nothing looks familiar.”

This visual description from Ms. Shelton is easy to imagine, especially when you see the damage left behind:  PhotoBlog – ‘Cut the city in half’: Death toll rises to 116 in Missouri tornado

It looks like DNA has been found on the housekeepers dress, and what a surprise…it matches Strauss-Kahn’s DNA.  Strauss-Kahn DNA found on maid’s clothes: reports

Investigators found traces of DNA from former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on the clothes of a hotel maid who accused him of sexual assault, US media reported on Monday.

The DNA was found on the shirt of the 32-year-old worker at the Sofitel in New York who has accused Strauss-Kahn of attempting to rape her, according to NBC and ABC television.

There is some talk that DSK’s defense will say that the sex was consensual.

Obama gave a huge campaign speech today in Ireland before he left a bit earlier then planned due to ash from the Iceland Volcano.  While over in England, Obama’s code name may give you a giggle. British police label Obama’s upcoming visit with Punjabi word Chalaque which means smart alec | Mail Online

More than one person has wanted to call Barack Obama a ‘smart alec’, and now British police will get the chance to do so without getting reprimanded.

That’s because Scotland Yard has tapped the codename ‘Chalaque’ to refer to the U.S. president for security reasons during his upcoming state visit to the United Kingdom May 24-26.

Indarjit Singh, a Punjabi speaker in the UK who is director of the Network of Sikh Organisations, told the Sunday Times the word ‘is sometimes used when we want to denigrate someone who we think is too clever for their own good’.

This made me laugh, I would go so far as to say “smart ass” not “smart alec.” I wonder what the Punjabi word for that is…

Wow, Sony Playstation is hit hard with both the earthquake and the hack job that has kept their network down.  PlayStation Hack to Cost Sony $171M; Quake Costs Far Higher | News & Opinion | PCMag.com

The direct impact on Sony’s sales for the earthquake is expected to be about 22 billion yen, or $268.9 million, Sony said.

The earthquake was obviously beyond Sony’s control, but that hack has to be something that could have been avoided.

One more, this on Gingrich. I heard that Colbert made a comment about his enormous Tiffany bill.   Gingrich must buy his engagement rings in bulk.  Too funny. However, the “to do” list that the man has announce is not funny…

 Presses House to Ban Planned Parenthood Funding – Washington Whispers (usnews.com)

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, seeking to restart his fumbling campaign, today issued an agenda checklist of 24 moves, such as repealing Obamacare, that he’d institute as president. Then, adding a little red meat to his two-page resume and agenda, he slammed Planned Parenthood and promised to sign a pledge to never raise taxes.

So that is it for today, sorry about being a bit late today. Had to take my former fetus to the eye doctor.  She had 20/20 vision in one eye, and 20/150 in the other. Anyway, I’ll post some more links below in the comments.