Tuesday Evening: Darkness and Updates

Good Evening!

Today the sky grew dark early. I don’t know, with the autumn months, it does bring the night much earlier than during the summer, but for some reason…it got very dark around 5pm.

I am not in the mood for thoughtful observations and commentary tonight, so I will just post a few links and leave it at that.

First an update from Miriam, she made this comment four hours ago:

As talks of a possible pending ceasefire seem to be negotiated,- the predictable chaos ensues…lots and lots of rockets fired all day long and I feel like I’m spending more time in the shelter than out of it. I’m hopeful that we’ll see an end to all this soon. I miss my regular boring life.

I will keep you updated on her, I think it is important to maintain some kind of personal connection to the events playing out over there.

I’ve got some more updates for you all.

I wrote about this “stand your ground” case a while back, it dealt with a black man who killed a white man on a neighborhood basketball court. The dead man’s daughter was a witness and had to testify during the trial. Well, 71-year-old black man found guilty of manslaughter, jury rejects ‘Stand Your Ground’ claim | theGrio

A Tampa jury have found Trevor Dooley, a 71-year-old black man,  guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of his white neighbor, 41-year-old David James, in front of James’ then-8-year-old daughter Danielle.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the jury rejected Dooley’s claim of self-defense under the state of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

One of the jury members said the law did not apply to this case, while jury foreman Walter Joss said, “The whole silly thing was over a skateboard … and it just escalated.”

However, the Jamaican-born Dooley believes that racism played a big part in his conviction.

He told reporters, “Do you really think that if it was the other way around and the skin color would be different we would be here today? … We wouldn’t.”

Hmmmm, let’s see how this case reflects the outcome of the Zimmerman trial, which is set for June 10th of next year.

Elmo has resigned…you may have heard by now that more accusations are coming forward in the matter of the annoying red muppet created by Kevin Clash.

Elmo Puppeteer Resigns After Fresh Allegation

Kevin Clash, the longtime voice and puppeteer behind “Sesame Street’s” Elmo character, resigned on Tuesday after a new allegation was made that he had underage sexual relationships.

Announcing the decision with what he called a “very heavy heart,” Mr. Clash said in a statement, “Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work ‘Sesame Street’ is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately.”

His statement came at around the same time that a lawsuit was filed in federal court in New York accusing him of “sexual activity” with a 15-year-old. The accuser, Cecil Singleton, is now 24. The suit said that Mr. Singleton “did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash’s sexual acts and conduct until 2012.” It sought $5 million in damages.

Mr. Clash had no comment on the lawsuit. He was first accused last week of sexual improprieties by a man who later recanted and said they had an “adult consensual relationship.” That man has remained anonymous and has not filed a suit.

Coincidentally, Buzzfeed reports that Penn State Takes Down A Photo Of Elmo Being Given A PSU T-Shirt

Penn State University appeared to make private a photo on their Flickr feed Tuesday of Elmo receiving a Penn State T-shirt during a visit to the university in March. The rest of the photos of the event remain online.

Shame they didn’t have the…geez what is the word? The humanity? No, the consideration? The responsibility? To act as quickly to the obvious sex abuse happening under their noses…

That is all I have for you…like I said, not up for much of anything tonight. This is an open thread, a tired…apathetic open thread.


Sunday Reads: Venus Fly-Trap, Irish Women, Liz and Dick

Good Morning

**Updated @ 1:40pm**

The world is smaller these days, internet and social media like twitter and Facebook bring people far away closer to us every day. One of my “Facebook Friends” who is an amazing bead weaver, lives in Tel Aviv. Her house suffered a direct hit by a missile early yesterday, fortunately no injuries…but the roof caved in and all the windows in the house were blown out. She has been posting quick updates to her FB page, mentioning the sounds of war just outside her home…talking about the stress of wondering if, or as it turned out, when it would be her family’s turn to experience the latest fight first hand.

I think these kinds of connections bring events like the war between Israel and Gaza home to many people who may not have been only slightly interested or barely aware of this escalating situation in the Mideast. I would post pictures of her house after being hit by a rocket, but she hasn’t posted any updates since early yesterday morning. I just hope Miriam is okay and safe.

** Update**

My FB friend posted an update to her status earlier today, here is what she said:

After a sleepless night I got up to take stock of the extensive damage caused by last nights attack..Daylight revealed just how bad it was and how lucky I am to be alive. Broken glass and debris everywhere, I don’t know where to start…This morning I find my beads covered in debris and dust, work in progress ruined…the car damaged…doors torn out of their frames…Still, I live to see another day, which is more than other people can say so I am thankful. I just want peace for us all. THANK YOU so much for your prayers and concern, you fill my heart with hope! ♥

I am relieved that she is okay, and I hope she stays safe and gets her wish of peace for everyone.

The reason I mention my artist friend is because I wanted to bring the next few links about Gaza and Israel into perspective.

Here are some recent updates on Israel and Hamas, the articles are rather involved so I will just post the first paragraphs and I urge you to go and read them in full:

Stop pretending the US is an uninvolved, helpless party in the Israeli assault on Gaza | Glenn Greenwald

A Palestinian man carries a wounded child in Gaza

A Palestinian man carries a wounded child at a hospital following an Israeli air raid in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, on November 17, 2012. Photograph: Moiz Salhi/AFP/Getty Images

(updated below)

A central premise of US media coverage of the Israeli attack on Gaza – beyond the claim that Israel is justifiably “defending itself” – is that this is some endless conflict between two foreign entitles, and Americans can simply sit by helplessly and lament the tragedy of it all. The reality is precisely the opposite: Israeli aggression is possible only because of direct, affirmative, unstinting US diplomatic, financial and military support for Israel and everything it does. This self-flattering depiction of the US as uninvolved, neutral party is the worst media fiction since TV news personalities covered the Arab Spring by pretending that the US is and long has been on the side of the heroic democratic protesters, rather than the key force that spent decades propping up the tyrannies they were fighting.

I will however, include this update on the Greenwald piece, which mentions this quote below:

7:55 P.M. Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Israel’s operation in Gaza: “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for forty years.”

To which, Greenwald says this:

Let me know if any of the US Sunday talk shows mention that tomorrow during their discussions of this “operation”.

From the Boston Globe: Israel launches scores of airstrikes into Gaza

Israel broadened its assault on the Gaza Strip on Saturday from mostly military targets to centers of government infrastructure, obliterating the four-story headquarters of the Hamas prime minister with a barrage of five bombs before dawn.

The attack, one of several on government installations, came a day after the prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, hosted his Egyptian counterpart in that building, a sign of Hamas’ new legitimacy in a radically redrawn Arab world. That stature was underscored Saturday by a visit to Gaza from the Tunisian foreign minister and the rapid convergence in Cairo of two Hamas allies, the prime minister of Turkey and the crown prince of Qatar, for talks with the Egyptian president and the chairman of Hamas on a possible cease-fire.

But as the fighting ended its fourth day, with Israel continuing preparations for a ground invasion, the conflict showed no sign of abating. Gaza militants again fired long-range missiles at Tel Aviv, among nearly 60 that soared into Israel on Saturday. Israel said it hit more than 200 targets overnight in Gaza, and continued with afternoon strikes on the home of a Hamas commander and on a motorcycle-riding militant.

From Haaretz Daily Newspaper, Let’s try something new

The Palestinian people want to be free of the occupation. Life is like that sometimes. But how to accomplish that? At first they tried doing nothing. For 20 years they were idle, and indeed nothing happened. They then tried rocks and knives, the first intifada. And still nothing happened, except for the Oslo Accords, which did not change the fundamental nature of the occupation. After that, they tried a vicious intifada: again, nothing. They made a stab at diplomacy; still nothing, the occupation went on as before.

From Al Jazeera English, Israel continues deadly Gaza air raids

Israel and Palestinian fighters have traded air strikes and rockets for a fourth day, with Israel hitting the Hamas prime minister’s office and also downing a rocket aimed at Tel Aviv.

The death toll from the conflict climbed on Saturday to 45: 40 Palestinians, at least 13 of them civilians, including women and children, and three Israeli civilians.

At least eight people were killed and dozens more injured by overnight attacks on the Gaza Strip.

From the New York Times: Arms With a Long Reach Help Hamas

Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times

A child watches from a field near Ashdod, Israel, as a missile is fired to intercept an incoming Palestinian rocket. About 30 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Saturday morning.

And now I will move on to Ireland, and a few updates on a story we have followed here on Sky D.

Thousands March for Abortion Rights in Ireland

About 10,000 people marched through Dublin and observed a minute’s silence Saturday in memory of the Indian dentist who died of blood poisoning in an Irish hospital after being denied an abortion.

Marchers, many of them mothers and daughters walking side by side, chanted “Never again!” and held pictures of Savita Halappanavar as they paraded across the city to stage a nighttime candlelit vigil outside the office of Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

‘Change your abortion law to save lives’ grieving father tells Irish PM

Praveen and Savita Halappanavar.

Praveen and Savita Halappanavar during their wedding four years ago.

The father of the young woman who died after being refused an emergency abortion in Ireland has appealed directly to the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, to change the country’s legislation on abortion.

Interviewed by the Observer, Andanappa Yalagi issued a personal plea to Kenny: “Sir, please change your law and take consideration of humanity. Please change the law on abortion, which will help to save the lives of so many women in the future.”

Mr Yalagi also says he will take legal action against the hospital to try to prevent future acts of “inhumanity”. He and his wife, Akkamahadevi, expressed fury at the way in which Savita Halappanavar, 31, had been treated and revealed that no one from the hospital nor the Irish government had been in touch to express any remorse for the death of their only daughter. “I want to take legal action against them over the inhumane way they treated my daughter,” said Mr Yalagi, speaking at his home in the southern Indian town of Belgaum.

Ireland says won’t be rushed into decision on abortion rig – The Times of India

Ireland has said it will not be rushed into an immediate decision on right to abortion even as it assured India that an independent medical professional will assist the enquiry into the death of an Indian national who was refused termination of her pregnancy despite miscarrying.

The Indian envoy to Ireland , Debashish Chakravarti , met Ireland’s deputy PM and foreign minister Eamon Gilmore on Friday to convey the “deep concern” of Indian government at the death of Dr Savita Halappanavar expressing hope that steps would be taken so as not to allow such an incident to recur.

[...]

According to the foreign ministry, Gilmore conveyed deepest sympathies of Ireland for the death of Halappanavar and requested that these be conveyed to the family . He indicated that they were sensitive to the impact of the tragedy on public opinion and civil society.

He said the investigation would be completed at an early date and the Irish side would work closely with the Indian mission.

Meanwhile, Irish PM Enda Kenny has said he is awaiting a report by an expert group on the issue but will not be rushed into an immediate decision on right to abortion. Kenny said his government would go through the report and indicated it will take its own time in arriving at a decision.

Thousands protest in Ireland to liberalize abortion laws – CSMonitor.com

Several thousand abortion rights protesters march through central Dublin on Saturday, demanding that Ireland’s government ensures that abortions can be performed to save a woman’s life.

March organizers claim a turnout of 20,000, but Irish police gave a figure of 6,000. Either way, the march was unusually large by Irish standards, wending its war from the Garden of Remembrance, a national independence  memorial, to Ireland’s parliament, DáIl Éireann, just over a mile away.

“The mood was somber and angry and determined,” says Wendy Lyon, a feminist activist and trainee attorney who attended the demonstration. “The sense was there has to be a turning point. That things can’t be allowed to go on without change. Enough is enough, basically.”

Ms. Lyon says Halappanavar’s death has resulted in a sea-change in Irish opinion, politicizing the previously apolitical: “I think the people really have shifted on it. I’ve spoken to people who were hesitant before but said something had to be done.”

Irish demand reform to abortion law

It is already clear that the Irish government will have to bow to public opinion. One minister admitted “action in some shape or form” will be taken. Dublin has also been under pressure from the European Court of Human Rights which has handed down a judgment criticising the Republic’s current law on abortion.

I realize that was just links with no commentary on the news out of Ireland, y’all know how I feel about this torturous death Savita experienced. I just can’t say any more about it.

Hundreds of Irish women go to England to obtain a legal abortion…an extreme hardship these women must face just to be able to have control over their own bodies. It is outrageous that the Catholic church will use all the power at their disposal to fight against a women’s right to choose or control their own bodies…when they purposely cover up and support pedophile priest, like this one from right here in Banjoville.

Former NE Ga. priest jailed in ’91 abuse case

A Roman Catholic priest accused of taking a 10-year-old boy to West Virginia for sex more than two decades ago was jailed on Thursday.

The Rev. Robert Poandl previously worked at St. Luke’s in Dahlonega, St. Paul the Apostle in Cleveland from 1979 to 1981 and St. Francis of Assisi in Blairsville from 1979 to 1988.

Poandl was most recently at the Cincinnati-based Glenmary Home Missioners, and is now in Butler County Jail in southwest Ohio following an order by a federal magistrate judge that he be taken into custody.

Poandl was here in Georgia until this year,

In February, Glenmary said it had relieved Poandl of his ministerial duties in Georgia and asked him to return to the Glenmary residence in Cincinnati.

Poandl has been living under what the order calls “a safety plan” at the Cincinnati residence and has not been functioning as a priest, Glenmary’s statement said.

According to the St Francis of Assisi Church’s website:

The history of the Catholic Church in Union and Towns Counties is your story – for you are the people who continue to respond in faith and love. To quote Fr. Bob Poandl, “Thank you for being a part of this history by living as part of Christ’s Body.”

Poandl was the church’s first pastor…it is sickening to see this crap hit so close to home.

I will post a few more interesting links below, because this post is getting long. These are articles about Walmart…

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price | Occupy America

The richest people in America: The owners of Wal-Mart — six members of the Walton family — are all on the list of Forbes 400 richest people in America. Combined, the Waltons have a net worth equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans. They are all children or children-in-law of the founders of Walmart. Six people. As much wealth as 30 percent of all the people in America. The Waltons are now collectively worth about $93 billion, according to Forbes.

Wal-Mart employs more people than any other company in the United States outside of the Federal government, yet the majority of its employees with children live below the poverty line.

[...]

in 2004, a study released the UC Berkeley Labor Center found that “reliance by Wal-Mart workers on public assistance programs in California comes at a cost to taxpayers of an estimated $86 million annually; this is comprised of $32 million in health related expenses and $54 million in other assistance. Source: Ken Jacobs and Arindrajit Dube, “Hidden Costs of Wal-Mart Jobs”[PDF file], UC Berkeley Labor Center.

Wal-Mart dismissed the findings of the UC Berkeley study, “Hidden Costs of Wal-Mart Jobs,” as a “union hit piece.” However, text from Wal-Mart’s own internal memo substantially corroborates their findings.

An excerpt from the memo states:

“We also have a significant number of Associates and their children who receive health insurance through public-assistance programs. Five percent of our Associates are on Medicaid compared to an average for national employers of 4 percent. Twenty-seven percent of Associates’ children are on such programs, compared to a national average of 22 percent. In total, 46 percent of Associates’ children are either on Medicaid or are uninsured.”

Source: Wal-Mart Internal Memo [PDF File], via New York Times

A few statistics on exactly how many children of Wal-Mart of employees receive state-funded health care, and the cost to those states:

- FLORIDA: 12,300 WAL-MART Workers and their Dependents on Medicaid

- GEORGIA: 10,261 Children of WAL-MART Employees are Enrolled in PeachCare for Kids

- WISCONSIN: 1,252 WAL-MART Employees and Dependents on BadgerCare

Why are states subsidizing health care for Wal-Mart employees when the Walton family are all in the top ten wealthiest people in the entire nation? I’m not complaining that these families are getting health care, everyone deserves health care, but the Walton’s should be ashamed that they aren’t providing it.

WAL-MART Costs Taxpayers $1,557,000,000,00 to Support its Employees

“The Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce estimates that one 200-person Wal-Mart store may result in a cost to federal taxpayers of $420,750 per year – about $2,103 per employee. Specifically, the low wages result in the following additional public costs being passed along to taxpayers:

- $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.
– $42,000 a year for Section 8 housing assistance, assuming 3 percent of the store employees qualify for such assistance, at $6,700 per family.
– $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families, assuming 50 employees are heads of household with a child and 50 are married with two children.
– $100,000 a year for the additional Title I expenses, assuming 50 Wal-Mart families qualify with an average of 2 children.
– $108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children’s health insurance programs (S-CHIP), assuming 30 employees with an average of two children qualify.
$9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.”

The total figure is based on the average $420,750 per-store figure, multiplied by 3700 (the approximate number of stores currently in the United States).

Source: Rep. George Miller / Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, “Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart”, February 16, 2004.

And then there is this:

Walmart’s Internal Compensation Documents Reveal Systematic Limit On Advancement

Two years ago, when she started working at the deli counter of a Walmart in Illinois, Lisa hoped that her job would amount to the beginning of a career, one that would pay enough to cover her bills and enable her to stay current on her student loan debt.

But despite one raise since, Lisa, who asked that only her first name be used, now earns just $9.10 an hour, or about $13,000 a year on part-time hours. Seven months pregnant, she recently filed for bankruptcy. With no alternatives at hand, Walmart now seems like a dead-end to poverty, she says.

“I don’t have underwear without holes in them,” she said. “Everyone at work wears T-shirts that are threadbare. I have just enough to eat and get gas to make it to work for the next two weeks.”

Stories like Lisa’s are even backed up by Walmarts own internal documents.

are confirmed by Walmart’s official compensation policy, an internal company document obtained by The Huffington Post, titled the “Field Non-Exempt Associate Pay Plan Fiscal Year 2013.” The plan details a rigid pay structure for hourly employees that makes it difficult for most to rise much beyond poverty-level wages.

Low-level workers typically start near minimum wage, and have the potential to earn raises of 20 to 40 cents an hour through incremental promotions. Flawless performance merits a 60 cent raise per year under the policy, regardless of how much time an employee has worked for the company. [Click here to read the full pay policy] As a result, a “solid performer” who starts at Walmart as a cart pusher making $8 an hour and receives one promotion, about the average rate, can expect to make $10.60 after working at the company for 6 years.

[...]

The Walmart pay plan is organized around seven levels of job difficulty for hourly workers, called Position Pay Grades (PPGs), ranging from cart-pushers (Level 1) and cashiers (Level 3), to cake decorators (Level 4) and customer service managers (Level 6). Each subsequent pay grade offers 20 to 40 cents more than the previous level, according to the document. This means that the base rate of pay for a top hourly position at Walmart, like a check-out supervisor, is $1.70 more than that of the lowest paying job.

Or even less than minimum wage, which is what my husband makes when you consider how much overtime he puts in a week, because once you get into the level of Assistant Managers, you are no longer hourly. You get a flat salary no matter how many hours you work, and in my husbands case, it could be 60 hours a week or more.

Okay, that is all the newsy stuff I have for you today. I will end with a couple easy stories…first this one that explores the science behind the venus fly trap, Probing the mystery of the venus fly trap’s botanical bite


Plants lack muscles, yet in only a tenth of a second, the meat-eating Venus fly trap hydrodynamically snaps its leaves shut to trap an insect meal.

This astonishingly rapid display of botanical movement has long fascinated biologists. Commercially, understanding the mechanism of the Venus fly trap’s leaf snapping may one day help improve products such as release-on-command coatings and adhesives, electronic circuits, optical lenses, and drug delivery.

Now a team of French physicists from the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Aix-Marseille University in Marseille, France, is working to understand this movement. They will present their findings at 65th meeting of the American Physical Society’s (APS) Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD), Nov. 18 — 20, 2012, in San Diego, Calif.

Read more at the link.

Lastly, two reviews for you on a couple of real shitty movies.

Liz and Dick, which sounds like something I could really enjoy making fun of: Lindsay Lohan in ‘Liz & Dick': TV Review – Hollywood Reporter

It should come as no great surprise that Lifetime’s Liz & Dick movie starring Lindsay Lohan is spectacularly bad. After all, it’s Lohan, more memorable in the tabloids than she ever was as an actress. No, the mystery here is whether Lifetime actually believed it had a major “television event,” as it says, because this was Lohan’s “highly anticipated comeback movie role,” as the channel’s website notes. Was Lifetime made giddy by the potential, or made blind by it? Most intriguing, did it know that casting Lohan of all people as Elizabeth Taylor would nearly burn Hollywood down — and shock the rest of the country as well, thus ensuring enormous ratings?

Lifetime’s website breathlessly asks visitors, “Are you finally convinced?” — with a link to a photo of Lohan as Taylor and a young Liz side by side. No, the photo is not convincing. Hair and makeup miracles do not make a movie. So calm down, Lifetime.

Lohan is woeful as Taylor from start to finish. But, whatever you do, don’t miss Liz & Dick. It’s an instant classic of unintentional hilarity. Drinking games were made for movies like this. And the best part is that it gets worse as it goes on, so in the right company with the right beverages, Liz & Dick could be unbearably hilarious toward the tail end of the 90-minute running time. By the time Lohan is playing mid-’80s Taylor and it looks like a lost Saturday Night Live skit, your body may be cramped by convulsions.

And then there is Twilight, Breaking Dawn 2,  which led one review to write this:

After 10 minutes of this movie, this was the only note I managed to scribble out:

Oh, but he recommends you see the show, *:

Do I recommend that you see the new Twilight this weekend? Of course I do. Just so long as you get drunk first—irrevocably drunk. I’m talking, “I can’t tell the Partridges apart anymore” drunk. I mean a level of smiling intoxication at which you cannot hear the difference in quality between vintage Motown and Jenna Marbles’ “Bounce That Dick,” nor can you distinguish between your momma’s cooking and the Arby’s value menu.

Take a look at those reviews, you will laugh…and then be glad you didn’t waste your time watching these movies, or perhaps you will get the urge for some quiet time immersed in Hollywood’s version of love. Hey, think about it…the Petraeus affair is really the stuff that movie dreams are made of.

Have a wonderful Sunday!