Wednesday Reads: Forest for the trees

potagesmaggiGood Morning

My internet has been acting strange lately, so I am writing this post on the fly and comments will be at a minimum.

First up, sad story from India, according to BBC News: School meal kills 22 in India’s Bihar state

At least 22 children have died and dozens more have fallen ill after eating lunch at a school in the eastern Indian state of Bihar.

The poisoning occurred in the village of Dharmasati Gandaman, 80km (50 miles) north of the state capital, Patna.

The free Mid-Day Meal Scheme aims to tackle hunger and boost attendance in schools, but suffers from poor hygiene.

Angry parents joined protests against the deaths, setting at least four police vehicles on fire.

An inquiry has begun and 200,000 rupees ($3,370) in compensation offered to the families of each of the dead.

Twenty-eight sick children were taken to hospitals in the nearby town of Chhapra after the incident and later were moved to Patna.

A total of 47 students of the primary school fell sick on Tuesday after eating the free lunch.

More deaths are possible as many of the kids are under the age of 12 and still in critical condition.

The state education minister, PK Shahi, told the BBC a preliminary investigation indicated that the food was contaminated with traces of phosphorous.

“The doctors who have attended are of the tentative opinion that the smell coming out of the bodies of the children suggests that the food contained organo-phosphorus, which is a poisonous substance,” he said.

“Now the investigators have to find out whether organo-phosphorus was accidental or there was some deliberate mischief.”

Earlier, doctors treating the patients had said “food poisoning” was the cause of the deaths.

“We suspect it to be poisoning caused by insecticides in vegetable or rice,” Amarjeet Sinha, a senior education official, told the BBC.

A doctor treating the children at a hospital in Patna said contaminated vegetable oil could have led to the poisoning.

Patna-based journalist Amarnath Tewary says villagers told local reporters that similar cases of food poisoning after having Mid-Day Meals had taken place in the area previously.

The horror of this story will only be more disturbing if it does turn out to be deliberate. I will keep you all up to date on the details as the day goes on.

Meanwhile, the Zimmerman Jury’s shitstorm has begun B37’s fellow jurors in Trayvon Martin trial bash her for leading country to believe spoke for them – NY Daily News

Four jurors in Trayvon Martin trial have issued a statement Tuesday night bashing B37 for going on TV and leading the country to believe she spoke for all of them.

Just moments after CNN aired part two of its interview with the juror known as B37, four of her fellow members on the six-woman jury issued a joint statement.

“We also wish to point out that the opinions of Juror B37, expressed on the Anderson Cooper show were her own, and not in any way representative of the jurors listed below.”

The jurors added, “We ask you to remember that we are not public officials and we did not invite this type of attention into our lives.”

More from LA Times: Zimmerman trial: 4 jurors say Juror B37 does not speak for them

The other four jurors also cited Florida law. “Serving on this jury has been a highly emotional and physically draining experience for each of us,” the statement signed by Jurors B51, B76, E6 and E40 said. “The death of a teenager weighed heavily on our hearts, but in the end we did what the law required us to do.”

It still makes me cringe to think Zimmerman got away with killing Martin, and not one charge was brought against him…aside from manslaughter…assault…battery…geez, stalking?  I guess I am rambling but it still seems inconceivable to me that there are no criminal consequences for Zimmerman’s actions, which did result in the death of an unarmed young man.

Alright, here are some links from yesterday that you should check out.

Op/ed by Katrina vanden Heuvel: Congress’s appalling Republicans – The Washington Post

There really isn’t any other word. Congressional Republicans are simply appalling. They have absolute control of the House. They set the agenda. They decide what comes to the floor. They decide what passes on to the Senate.

They know that extreme legislation isn’t going to be enacted into law. The Democratic majority in the Senate and the Democratic president stand in the way. So the legislation they choose to pass is a statement of their own values. It is simply designed to proclaim, “This is where we stand.” And for the vast majority of Americans, what they proudly proclaim is simply beyond the pale.

New blog post by Kurt Eichenwald: My Family, Our Cancer, and the Murderous Cruelty of Conservatives | Vanity Fair

My wife has breast cancer.

I write this, with her permission, while sitting in the hospital waiting room as she undergoes surgery. Afterward, there will be another surgery, radiation, and probably chemo, but what else might be in the offing is guesswork at this point. I’ll know more this afternoon, when the operation is over.

A comparison over at Juan Cole’s blog: Israel’s District 9: Its Biggest Ethnic Cleansing since 1948 | Informed Comment

30,000 Palestinian-Israelis of Bedouin heritage are are being forcibly transferred by the Israeli government, and thousands of acres of their land is being stolen from them.

The 972 article compares it to Apartheid South Africa’s District 6, the inspiration for the film, “District 9″

The Palestinian-Israelis are mounting big protests today.

Tales from the Walmart inner circle: Four Angry Wal-Mart Workers, and Four Happy Ones

Last week, we brought you some true stories from Wal-Mart workers— stories that alarmed Wal-Mart so much that they (unsuccessfully) begged their employees to send us positive stories to balance them out. Since then, we’ve received many more, both good and bad. Here are some.

Note: Wal-Mart specifically solicited its employees to send us positive stories (and furthermore, one employee tells us, “Walmart does have an official policy on employees posting on social media and yes we *can* be fired for posting content the company doesn’t like”). Despite this, we’ve received a far greater number of negative than positive stories. Today, however, we’re posting an equal number of positive and negative stories. Take them as you will. They’re all revealing in their own way.

An interesting look at Latin America, considering the recent events surrounding Snowden and the “courtship” of his “affections“:

Why Latin America Is Becoming Less Democratic – Kurt Weyland – The Atlantic

democracytop.jpg

Opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stage a protest over a drawing of a gagged face during a march to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of the return of democracy after the 1958 coup in Caracas January 23, 2011. (Jorge Silvas/Reuters)

Around the turn of the millennium, prominent Latin America special­ist Scott Mainwaring highlighted the surprising endurance of democracy in that region after the transition wave of the late 1970s and 1980s.Dur­ing that interval, no democracy had permanently succumbed to a mili­tary coup or slid back into authoritarian rule. After decades marked by instability in numerous countries, especially Argentina, Bolivia, and Ec­uador, this newfound democratic resilience came as a welcome surprise.

[...]

The recent suffocation of political pluralism in a whole group of countries is with­out precedent. For the first time in decades, democracy in Latin America is facing a sustained, coordinated threat. The regional trend toward de­mocracy, which had prevailed since the late 1970s, has suffered a partial reversal. Unexpectedly, democracy is now on the defensive in parts of the region.

That is just a couple of paragraphs, go read the whole article…

There was a freaky story that you may have missed a couple of weeks ago, Mystery of Nazi Swastikas in the Forests – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Over 20 years ago, a landscaper in eastern Germany discovered a formation of trees in a forest in the shape of a swastika. Since then, a number of other forest swastikas have been found in Germany and beyond, but the mystery of their origins persist.

Blame it on the larches. Brandenburg native Günter Reschke was the first one to notice their unique formation, according to a 2002 article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. To be more precise, however, it was the new intern at Reschke’s landscaping company, Ökoland Dederow, who discovered the trees in 1992 as he was completing a typically thankless intern task: searching aerial photographs for irrigation lines.

For decade, this swastika of larch trees stood undiscovered in the middle of...

Instead, he found a small group of 140 larches standing in the middle of dense forest, surrounded by hundreds of other trees. But there was a crucial difference: all the others were pine trees. The larches, unlike the pines, changed color in the fall, first to yellow, then brown. And when they were seen from a certain height, it wasn’t difficult to recognize the pattern they formed. It was quite striking, in fact.

As he was dutifully accomplishing the task he had been given, the intern suddenly stopped and stared, dumbfounded, at the picture in his hand. It was an aerial view of Kutzerower Heath at Zernikow — photo number 106/88. He showed it to Reschke: “Do you see what this is?” But the 60-by-60 meter (200-by-200 foot) design that stood out sharply from the forest was obvious to all: a swastika.

Reschke is actually a fan of his native Uckermark region of northeastern Germany, extolling its gently rolling hills, lakes and woods, as the “Tuscany of the north.” But what the two men discovered in 1992 in that aerial photograph thrust this natural idyll into the center of a scandal.

This is one hell of a story, and at that Spiegel link there is a gallery of images that you need to see: Photo Gallery: Swastikas in the Woods – SPIEGEL ONLINE – International

The planting of swastika formations, like this one near the town of Asterode in...

The planting of swastika formations, like this one near the town of Asterode in the western state of Hesse, was popular among foresters throughout various regions of Nazi Germany. There were many swastikas in the forests surrounding Berlin until they were removed under Soviet occupation.

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In this same wooded area of Asterode in Hesse, the numbers "1933," the year...

In this same wooded area of Asterode in Hesse, the numbers “1933,” the year Hitler came to power, were spelled out in larch trees across a backdrop of pine forest, bursting into color in autumn. The eyesores remained for a long time, until the early 1960s, when American occupying forces discovered the trees during an aerial reconnaissance flight and complained to the local government.

But it was not just trees in the forest that took the shape of Nazi symbolism, towns..buildings and other land formations that remained hidden until discovered by views from above…seriously, go and check that article out.

One more link in connection with this story above, Misreading ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’ – NYTimes.com

The movie “Hannah Arendt,” which opened in New York in May, has unleashed emotional commentary that mirrors the fierce debate Arendt herself ignited over half a century ago, when she covered the trial of the notorious war criminal Adolf Eichmann. One of the pre-eminent political thinkers of the 20th century, Arendt, who died in 1975 at the age of 69, was a Jew arrested by the German police in 1933, forced into exile and later imprisoned in an internment camp. She escaped and fled to the United States in 1941, where she wrote the seminal books “The Origins of Totalitarianism” and “The Human Condition.”

It is easy to cite the ‘banality of evil.’ It is much more difficult to make sense of what Arendt actually meant.

When Arendt heard that Eichmann was to be put on trial, she knew she had to attend. It would be, she wrote, her last opportunity to see a major Nazi “in the flesh.” Writing in The New Yorker, she expressed shock that Eichmann was not a monster, but “terribly and terrifyingly normal.” Her reports for the magazine were compiled into a book, “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil,” published in 1963.

The poet Robert Lowell proclaimed Arendt’s portrayal of Eichmann a “masterpiece,” a “terrifying expressionist invention applied with a force no imitator could rival.” Others excoriated Arendt as a self-hating Jew. Lionel Abel charged that Eichmann “comes off so much better in her book than do his victims.” Nearly every major literary and philosophical figure in New York chose sides in what the writer Irving Howe called a “civil war” among New York intellectuals — a war, he later predicted, that might “die down, simmer,” but will perennially “erupt again.” So it has.

The op/ed continues to explore reviews of the film, and how Arendt’s work is still causing controversy so many years since it was first published.

Lastly, big news in Atlanta this week, LUN LUN THE GIANT PANDA GIVES BIRTH TO TWINS!

Lun Lun, a 15-year-old giant panda, gave birth to twins on July 15, 2013. The first of the tiny duo arrived at 6:21 p.m., and its twin followed at 6:23 p.m. The cubs are the first giant pandas to be born in the U.S. in 2013 and the first twins to be born in the U.S. since 1987.

The babies are doing great and according to a news release today…are healthy and fine.   Zoo Atlanta has a Panda Cam up and running, so I wanted to give you that link:

Zoo Atlanta Panda Cam

Panda Updates

Tuesday, July 16
The panda team is tired and a little stressed, but happy! So far, both cubs are doing well. We are fortunate that both were born a healthy weight and strong. Sometimes one twin is very small. As you all know, Lun Lun is a fantastic mom, and she’s even more impressive this time. The cubs are being alternated with her, which is a technique first developed by our colleagues in Chengdu and used successfully for many cubs. Lun Lun is such a good mom, though, that she is reluctant to give up whichever cub she has. So, we have not been able to swap the cubs as frequently as we would like. Because of that, both have been supplemented with some formula. Both are doing well with this. Their condition and Lun Lun’s behavior will continue to guide our actions. The next few days are especially critical. So, please continue to keep us in your thoughts. We can use the good vibes!
Rebecca Snyder, PhD, 
Curator of Mammals

There is so much information at that link to the Zoo Atlanta website, but I just want to add one more graphic which illustrates how amazing this little baby’s growth timeline really is:

Panda Developmental Timeline

Isn’t it wonderful?

Hope you have a fabulous day today, and try to stay cool out there. See you down in the comments, what are you reading and thinking about today?


Friday Nite Lite: GOP Autopsy

Good Evening

Most of tonight’s cartoons deal with the GOP and its attempts to re-invent themselves. I got a kick out of this first one: Rembrandt Republican Autopsy by Political Cartoonist Daryl Cagle

129098 600 Rembrandt Republican Autopsy cartoons

And now the original…..

Artist
Rembrandt (1606–1669)
Title The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp
Date 1632

File:The Anatomy Lesson.jpg – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

File:The Anatomy Lesson.jpg

GOP Changes by Political Cartoonist Joe Heller

129089 600 GOP Changes cartoons

Dead People by Political Cartoonist Mike Luckovich

129034 600 Dead People cartoons

Fooled Again by Political Cartoonist Bruce Plante

129037 600 Fooled Again cartoons

GOP reassessment by Political Cartoonist John Cole

129076 600 GOP reassessment cartoons

Tenth Anniversary of Iraq Invasion by Political Cartoonist R.J. Matson

128945 600 Tenth Anniversary of Iraq Invasion cartoons

Financial Crisis CEOsCORRECTED by Political Cartoonist Gary McCoy

128923 600 Financial Crisis CEOsCORRECTED cartoons

Tech Conference by Political Cartoonist Jen Sorensen

128982 600 Tech Conference cartoons

This is an open thread.

(Seriously, am I the only one who thinks this Google Glass crap is Fucked Up!?!)

Control Your Fridge, Coffee Maker With Google Glass?

Google Glass: Everything You Need to Know

The Google Glass generation: In our shiny new digital world are we increasingly terrified of being alone?


Friday Nite Lite: Mini

Good Friday Evening!

Just a few for you tonight, I am still overwhelmed by things out of my control. Maybe I will just have a bowl of Frosted Flakes and chill out a while.

Clay Bennett: Medicaid – Clay Bennett – Truthdig

3/17 Luckovich cartoon: His Holiness | Mike Luckovich

031713-toon-luckovich-ed

102368 600 Judging By Our Priorities, Weapons Are More Important Than Schools cartoons

102368 600 Judging By Our Priorities, Weapons Are More Important Than Schools cartoons

Obama and Republicans Have Dinner – Truthdig

 

This is an open thread…


Friday Nite Lite: Drones, Domes and Storms Part One

TGIFNL…Thank Gawd Its Friday Nite Lite!

I guess you can say I am making up for the lame post last Friday. So much so, that I need to break this evening cartoons up into two post.

This first one will focus on the Post Office and Congress, with a few stragglers here and there.

Cagle Post » No Saturday Delivery

126871 600 No Saturday Delivery cartoons

Cagle Post » going postal

126863 600 going postal cartoons

Cagle Post » Saturday Delivery

126730 600 Saturday Delivery cartoons

Cagle Post » Congress Playing Chicken

126869 600 Congress Playing Chicken cartoons

Cagle Post » Sequester

126867 600 Sequester cartoons

Cagle Post » Tea Party Anchor

126842 600 Tea Party Anchor cartoons

Cagle Post » Jewell of a Secretary

126839 600 Jewell of a Secretary cartoons

Cagle Post » Sandy assistance

126797 600 Sandy assistance cartoons

Cagle Post » Teachers Packing Heat

126800 600 Teachers Packing Heat cartoons

This is an open thread.


Friday Nite Lite: Mini Laugh Edition

Good Evening…

My internet is running so slooooooow tonight. In fact, I could not even get the comic pages to load properly. So because of these technical problems, the post is going to be very short.

The first cartoon is funny, but I think the color is a bit off. Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Boehner Ball

Boehner Ball © Christopher Weyant,The Hill,Power Ball,Boehner,Speaker of the House,middle class tax cut,no,GOP,Congress,Republican,Obama,Tea Party,budget,sequestration,Bush tax cuts,lottery,,fiscal cliff

He needs to be orange…

On to Congress…Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » GENIUS IQ TEST

GENIUS IQ TEST © Bill Day,Cagle Cartoons,tax breaks,wealthy,banks,fiscal cliff, obama taxes

If that IQ cartoon is too small, click the link up top to see the larger image.

What is on the GOP Christmas list?

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » 1950s Christmas

1950s Christmas © Chris Britt,The State Journal Register,santa,white,males,1950,Christmas

For those of us who love hockey, this next cartoon is perfect. Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Wonderful Life

Wonderful Life © Cardow,The Ottawa Citizen,

This next one is for Dakinikat:  Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Illegal Department

Illegal Department © Ken Catalino,National/Syndicated,charges,oil,spill,bp,illegal,department,criminal

And the last cartoon for you…Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Egypt President Morsi

Egypt President Morsi © Adam Zyglis,The Buffalo News,egypt,president,morsi,constitution,arab spring,walk,like,egyptian,middle east,democracy,freedom,Pharoh Mohamed Morsi

Alright, now for something real funny, ‘Feel My Pudgy Hands Now!’… And Other Incredible Lines From Lindsay Lohan’s Awful Liz & Dick Lifetime Movie

Did you miss Sunday night’s premiere of Lifetime’s maudlin movie Liz & Dick? The Elizabeth Taylor biopic starring Lindsay Lohan created something of a Twitter frenzy with its general horribleness… and unintentional comedy.

Most reviews of the movie boiled down to one concrete point: “Liz & Dick is the best comedy of the year!” And that’s because the acting and the dialogue were, shall we say… so awful it’s good.

A la Tommy Wiseau‘s much-loved stinkerThe Room, this Lohan debacle contained an endless stream of terrifically terrible one-liners.

Luckily, for comedy’s sake, Vultureput together a two-minute compilation of the biggest doozies of the night.

From Lohan shouting “Feel my pudgy hands now!” to her overacting through Liz Taylor’s alcoholic musings — “Who’s the prettiest girl in the world? It’s Minnie Mouse!”

I missed the show, but from the video it looks like it was a laugh riot. Go to that link and watch it…but don’t do it while you are eating or drinking.

This is an open thread, have a wonderful evening!