The long weekend continues, and so does the heat wave here in Greater Boston. This is our second heat wave of this summer. I know these are just normal temps for you hardy souls in the South, but for us Northerners, it’s quite a shock to the system.
From The Boston Globe: As heat wave hits, region falls under a sultry spell.
The torpor-inducing temperatures, expected to last through Sunday, will feel hotter than the last, said Bill Simpson, a National Weather Service meteorologist. Friday’s high was 95 degrees with 55 percent humidity, he said, but the heat index, which combines temperature and relative humidity to measure how hot it feels, hit nearly 100. There will be no relief until Monday, he said, when temperatures should cool to the mid- to low-80s.
In Boston, Mayor Thomas M. Menino issued a heat advisory through the weekend, urging residents to stay hydrated and in the shade or air conditioning….
To stave off the heat, many turned to ice. The number of convenience stores and restaurants needing extra ice rose “exponentially” since the beginning of the heat wave, said Charlotte Ploss, sales manager at Brookline Ice & Coal, which specializes in ice delivery. The phones there rang nonstop Friday morning and afternoon, sometimes with customers requesting ice for the second or third time of the day.
One supermarket ordered 4 tons of ice, Ploss said. A restaurant called for so many ice refills that Brookline Ice & Coal offered use of a company trailer, which holds 3,000 pounds of ice. Because the restaurant does not have enough space for the trailer, its owner is parking it in his driveway, she said.
So what else is going on? The President of Venezuela has offered asylum to Edward Snowden. From Reuters via the NYT:
CARACAS — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offered asylum to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden on Friday in defiance of Washington, which is demanding his arrest for divulging details of secret U.S. spy programs.
“In the name of America’s dignity … I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden,” Maduro told a military parade marking Venezuela’s independence day.
“He is a young man who has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the United States spying on the whole world.”
How Snowden would get to Venezuela from Moscow if he accepts the offer no one knows as yet.
There are no direct commercial flights between Moscow and Caracas, and the usual route involves changing planes in Havana. It is not clear if the Cuban authorities would let him transit….
One alternative flight plan would involve an aircraft taking off from Moscow, refueling in Vladivostok, and then continuing east over the Pacific to South America.
Nicaragua has also said it would consider offering Snowden asylum. Both Venezuela and Nicaragua have questionable human rights records; but no doubt, Snowden supporters will find ways to explain all that away.
The Washington Post has a feature on Sarah Harrison, ”the woman from Wikileaks” who accompanied Snowden to Moscow and is reportedly still there.
Harrison began working with WikiLeaks in August 2010 on the internal vetting of confidential U.S. documents supplied by Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, which the site later released. At some point that year, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Harrison and Assange became intimately involved. They cautioned that the relationship was not Harrison’s prime motivation in championing the WikiLeaks cause.
“She is firmly committed to what WikiLeaks is trying to do; she believes 100 percent in the mission,” one of the people said. “Any suggestion that her relationship with Julian is what has compelled her to do the things she has would be a totally wrong assumption.”
Although those who know her as an Assange confidante describe her as more comfortable behind the scenes, Harrison now finds herself in the spotlight. She has raced across continents to aid Snowden, assisting in his flight from Hong Kong and his search for asylum from Moscow. On Friday, Venezuela and Nicaragua offered Snowden asylum. All the while, she has has maintained a low profile and refrained from public statements.
Read the rest at the link.
In Chile, another human rights issue has arisen once again–the right of girls and women to control their own bodies. USA Today reports: Child’s pregnancy sets off Chile abortion debate.
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — The case of a pregnant 11-year old girl who was raped in Chile by her mother’s partner has set off a national debate about abortion in one of the most socially-conservative countries in Latin America.
Chileans were outraged on Friday after state TV reported that the girl is 14 weeks pregnant and was raped repeatedly over two years. Police in the remote southern city of Puerto Montt arrested her mother’s partner, who confessed to abusing the fifth grader. The case was brought to their attention by the pregnant child’s maternal grandmother.
Doctors say the girl’s life and that of the fetus are at high risk. But in Chile, ending the pregnancy is not an option.
Chile allowed abortions for medical reasons until they were outlawed in 1973 by Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. The current government of conservative President Sebastian Pinera has opposed any loosening of the prohibition.
One has to assume that Republicans here in the U.S. are applauding this horror, since they keep trying to limit women’s autonomy with nightmare legislation in numerous states. The latest is Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker just signed a draconian new anti-abortion bill. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:
Madison — Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Friday requiring doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges, and abortion clinics responded by immediately suing state officials over the measure.
The law — signed Friday by Walker in a private ceremony — would cut the number of clinics offering abortions in Wisconsin from four to two, and one of the remaining clinics would have to dramatically cut the number of abortions it provides, according to the operators of the clinics.
“When women don’t have access to safe, legal abortions, there are health consequences and women die,” said Teri Huyck, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin….
Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services filed the lawsuit in federal court in Madison. They brought it against Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dave Ross and the members of the state Medical Examining Board — all of whom have authority to enforce the law or issue sanctions.
It will be heard by U.S. District Judge William Conley. It was unclear whether he would take action before the law takes effect Monday.
The National Journal is bullish on the latest jobs report. The Really Great News From the June Jobs Report: the April and May Numbers
Happy jobs day! First, the immediate good news: The June report showed the U.S. economy added 195,000 in June, strongly beating expectations in the 150,000-165,000 range. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, was unchanged at 7.6 percent.
But now for the really good news: We were quite wrong about job gains in April and May. Initial reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a jobs gain of 149,000 in April and 175,000 in May. In the latest reports, those numbers were revised upward to 199,000 in April and 195,000 in May. That’s a combined gain of 70,000 jobs from earlier reports. So, since April, it turns out that the economy has actually gained nearly 200,000 new jobs a month.
They admit the unemployment situation is still pretty horrible overall. Read about it at the link.
Here’s a wacky story out of Texas: Gun owners march on Houston police station with shotguns and assault rifles.
A group of gun owners and gun rights advocates celebrated Independence Day on Thursday by marching on the headquarters of the Houston Police Department while carrying an array of shotguns and assault rifles. According to the Washington Examiner, the group was organized via Facebook and numbered about 25 attendees.
“It’s Independence Day — where it all started,” said shotgun toting protester Jenn Kroll, to the Houston Chronicle. “What better day to show our rights?”
“If you don’t use your rights, they can take them away,” Ed Aldredge of Sugar Land said. Aldridge brought along his 11-year-old son, Austin, who carried a .22-caliber rifle.
No mention in the story about how Houston police reacted to the march.
Violence continues in Egypt where the army and Morsi supporters are battling each other. From BBC News:
More than 30 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in Friday’s violence following the ousting of Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi, it has emerged.
At least 12 died in Alexandria, and eight in two separate clashes in Cairo, the Health Ministry said….
Mr Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, is in detention.
Some senior figures of his Muslim Brotherhood movement have also been held.
Early on Saturday, state media reported the Brotherhood’s deputy leader Khairat el-Shater had been arrested at his Cairo home on suspicion of incitement to violence.
The Tamarod [Rebel] movement – which organised recent anti-Morsi protests – accused the ousted president of pursuing an Islamist agenda against the wishes of most Egyptians, and of failing to tackle economic problems.
So…quite a bit of news for a long holiday weekend. What are you reading and blogging about today?
It is a big weekend for Hollywood, the Academy Awards are Sunday night, so we will start tonight’s cartoons with a few funnies about that golden bald man.
Nate Silver has some predictions up at his blog, Oscar Predictions, Election-Style .He is putting his statistics and calculations to work using:
the other awards that were given out in the run-up to the Oscars: the closest equivalent to pre-election polls. These have always been the best predictors of Oscar success. In fact, I have grown wary that methods that seek to account for a more complex array of factors are picking up on a lot of spurious correlations and identifying more noise than signal. If a film is the cinematic equivalent of Tim Pawlenty — something that looks like a contender in the abstract, but which isn’t picking up much support from actual voters — we should be skeptical that it would suddenly turn things around.
Just as our election forecasts assign more weight to certain polls, we do not treat all awards equally. Instead, some awards have a strong track record of picking the Oscar winners in their categories, whereas others almost never get the answer right (here’s looking at you, Los Angeles Film Critics Association).
These patterns aren’t random: instead, the main reason that some awards perform better is because some of them are voted on by people who will also vote for the Oscars. For instance, many members of the Screen Actors Guild will vote both for the SAG Awards and for the Oscars. In contrast to these “insider” awards are those like the Golden Globes, which are voted upon by “outsiders” like journalists or critics; these tend to be less reliable.
Go check out his predictions, and I will make sure to update you all on Nate’s results.
Now for the cartoons.
This is a good segue to cartoons about Sequester…
Now, this next cartoon is very clever…even if we may disagree with it: Cagle Post » Obama’s monster
I can’t help it, I am a sucker for Frankenstein.
Personally, I think they all are to blame! One more for you on the Sequester.
Okay, have you heard about the Olympics cutting wrestling from the games…
Now for the gun issue:
This one above is thought provoking…
Let’s end this with a few odds and ends:
This is an open thread…
Octogenarian wingnut and former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese (who even knew he was still alive?) has weighed in on Tea Party nutball threats to impeach President Obama if he uses executive orders to regulate gun sales. TPM reports:
Former Reagan Attorney General Edwin Meese, now a prominent emeritus official at the Heritage Foundation, became the latest conservative to warn that President Obama could risk impeachment if he takes executive action on reducing gun violence in an interview Monday night.
Speaking with Newsmax, Meese said Congress may have to consider impeaching Obama if he were “to try to override the Second Amendment in any way” with an executive order. He did allow that there are some executive actions related to guns that Obama could take wouldn’t be impeachable.
“It would be up to the Congress to take action, such as looking in to it to see if, in fact, he has really tried to override the Constitution itself,” Meese told Newsmax. “In which case, it would be up to them to determine what action they should take — and perhaps even to the point of impeachment.”
In Texas, state rep. Steve Toth is preparing a bill that would make it a felony for any federal official to attempt to enforce gun restrictions in the Lone Star State.
A Texas lawmaker says he plans to file the Firearms Protection Act, which would make any federal laws that may be passed by Congress or imposed by Presidential order which would ban or restrict ownership of semi-automatic firearms or limit the size of gun magazines illegal in the state, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Republican Rep. Steve Toth says his measure also calls for felony criminal charges to be filed against any federal official who tries to enforce the rule in the state.
“If a federal official comes into the state of Texas to enforce the federal executive order, that person is subject to criminal prosecution,” Toth told 1200 WOAI’s Joe Pags Tuesday. He says his bill would make attempting to enforce a federal gun ban in Texas punishable by a $50,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
Toth “would welcome” legal challenges to the proposed new law.
“At some point there needs to be a showdown between the states and the federal government over the Supremacy Clause,” he said.
The Supremacy Clause is the portion of the Constitution which declares that federal laws and statutes are ‘the supreme law of the land.’
“It is our responsibility to push back when those laws are infringed by King Obama,” Toth said.
Let me get this straight. The Supremacy Clause, which is part of the U.S. Constitution, should be challenged if any branch of the Federal Government tries to limit Texans’ access to artillery of any kind? WTF?!
What’s your favorite wacky wingnut story of the day? This is an open thread!