Texas has been experiencing really bad weather for the past few days. From the Houston Chronicle:
Recovery teams were resuming the search early Tuesday for 12 members of two families who are missing after a rain-swollen river in Central Texas carried a vacation home off its foundation, slamming it into a bridge downstream.
The hunt for the missing picked up after a holiday weekend of terrible storms that dumped record rainfall on the Plains and Midwest, caused major flooding and spawned tornadoes and killed at least eight people in Oklahoma and Texas. More than 1,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed in Texas, and thousands of residents are displaced.
Authorities were also searching for victims and assessing damage just across the Texas-Mexico border in Ciudad Acuna, where a tornado Monday killed 13 people and left at least five unaccounted for.
More on the flooding in Houston from the Chronicle: Heavy rains flood freeways, close schools, delays bus service.
Houston motorists woke Tuesday morning to swamped freeways and closed roads as heavy thunderstorms raked the region overnight, making the morning commute dangerous and even impossible for most.
The 610 Loop as well as Katy, North and South freeways were underwater in spots throughout the area. Other major roads blocked by high water include Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway near downtown.
No injuries have been reported, but dozens of vehicles were stranded in high water throughout the city. In many cases, the water came up to to the driver’s side windows of the abandoned cars, Other vehicles are almost submerged.
Firefighters with the Houston Fire Department were dispatched to several water rescues throughout the city. Areas along Brays Bayou near the 610 Loop were particularly hard hit with several rescues during the early morning hours Tuesday. Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway are closed.
According to the National Weather Service homes were reportedly flooded in the Larchmont subdivision about six miles southwest of the city early Tuesday morning. Some homes in Rosenberg were threaetened as more than three feet of water rose in the Greenwood subdivision a few hours before dawn Tuesday.
See some amazing photos posted on Twitter at News.Mic: 17 Photos of the Devastating Floods That Hit Houston. More photos at ABC 13. The Weather Channel is providing live updates.
NBC News reports that other states could be affected by the storms: Houston, Texas, Hit by Unprecedented Flooding; Seven States At Risk.
Flash-flood watches and warnings were issued across seven states early Tuesday as an unprecedented downpour of torrential rain triggered “extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening” conditions in Houston.
More than 30 million Americans were told to brace for dangerous thunderstorms — including flooding, hail and possible tornadoes — as meteorologists warned the weather that has centered on Texas and Oklahoma since Saturday could expand to other areas.
At least 12 people were still missing, eight people have been killed, and countless more evacuated amid the deluge that has inundated Texas and Oklahoma with record-breaking floods since Saturday.
In Houston, more than 80,000 people were without power and the flood waters closed roads including Interstate 10 and Interstate 45. Houston was among 24 counties where Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster on Monday.
I hope RalphB and his family are safe. Dakinikat could also be in the path of the damaging weather. New Orleans is expecting thunderstorms for the next few days.
In other news, there has been a shooting at a Walmart in Grand Forks, North Dakota–where the University of North Dakota is located. My Dad got his Masters degree there.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports: 2 fatally shot inside Grand Forks Wal-Mart; Air Force member involved.
The shooting occurred shortly before 1:05 a.m. in the supercenter store on 32nd Avenue, just east of Interstate 29, according to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) near Grand Forks.
Grand Forks police said officers discovered “multiple victims” inside the store and one of them was taken to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks for injuries that are not considered life-threatening.
The AFOSI said there were three people involved and one was an airman. The base is about 20 miles west of the store.
Neither police nor Air Force personnel released details about whether the airman was the shooter or one of the victims. There is also no immediate information about what prompted the violence, but Deputy Police Chief Mike Ferguson added, “the Police Department does not believe there is any further on-going immediate public safety risk at this time.”
There isn’t a lot of information about the incident as yet. From the Fargo Forum:
In a press conference at the Grand Forks Police Department, Zimmel said there was no active shooting when officers arrived on scene.
Zimmel said at this time, police believe the shooter is among the dead. Only one person involved in the incident is believed to have had a gun, Zimmel said.
Police are still investigating the motive behind the shooting, whether it was targeted or random….
Andy Legg, who was in the store at the time, told a WDAZ reporter he heard “popping sounds” going off in the store and that he and a group of customers were herded to a section of the store by authorities. Legg said he and the group later exited the building passing a Walmart employee covered in blood. Legg says he’s not sure of the person’s condition but that it “didn’t look good.”
Shortly after 4 a.m., a police SWAT team, using a special robot, began searching a car in the parking lot.
Remember Charles C. “Chuck” Johnson, the right wing a-hole and twitter troll? His account has once again been suspended by Twitter after he threatened activist Deray Mckessen. From re/code:
Notorious Twitter troll Chuck Johnson was placed in time-out Sunday — at least temporarily — and it looks as though the company’s new policy on violent threats was the reason.
Twitter suspended Johnson, who has a long history of Internet trolling, for what appears to be a threat against civil rights activist DeRay McKesson. Johnson tweeted this morning asking people to donate money for “taking out” McKesson, who responded, saying that he took Johnson’s comments as a “serious threat.”
The account suspension is nothing new for Johnson. But what’s worth noting is that this appears to be an example of Twitter’s new policy on threats coming into play. The company changed the policy’s wording last month so that it no longer included phrases like “direct” and “specific.” Essentially, those qualifiers were limiting the types of tweets Twitter could act upon.
Not anymore. This looks like the kind of threat that may have slipped through the system a few months back. So this is good for Twitter, a company that has struggled mightily when dealing with bullying and threats.
A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on Johnson’s suspension, so there’s no way of knowing how long he’ll be blocked from the service.
In a statement to Re/code, Johnson accused Twitter of “censorship.”
“I was speaking metaphorically about exposing DeRay in much the same way Slate was speaking metaphorically when they talked about ‘taking out’ a Supreme Court justice,” he wrote.
But in an interview with CNN on Monday, Mckesson said that Johnson should have known better.
“For someone who considers themselves a journalist, I firmly believe that he understands the power of his words,” Mckesson explained. “And his words are his words. ‘Take out’ functions in a certain way. And if I got on any media outlet and said something to the effect of ‘take out the police,’ nobody would think that I was talking about an exposé.”
“I was proud that Twitter took the action to move so quickly, and remember that racism doesn’t exist only in the extremes,” he continued. “It’s not just slavery and the n-word. It functions in these subtle ways too. He, again, knew very clearly what he was doing by using this language.”
And from Pando Daily’s David Holmes: Here’s the remarkable letter Chuck Johnson’s attorney sent to Twitter threatening legal action.
For at least the fourth time in his sad, shameful, misogynist, racist career, Twitter has suspended the rightwing blogger Chuck Johnson….
…Johnson is outraged over the suspension, tweeting under a new account @citizentrolling– which a few minutes prior to my writing this sentence has now also been suspended — that Twitter is guilty of “censorship” and writing that the company’s enforcement of its policies exhibits a clear political bias against rightwingers like himself.
“Twitter doesn’t seem to have a problem with people using their service to coordinate riots,” Johnson wrote. “But they do have a problem with the kind of journalism I do.”
I’m struggling to know where to begin in describing the lunacy of Johnson’s argument. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t engage at all with Johnson who has failed to build a career through producing quality journalism or analysis and instead — in what must be an overwhelmingly sad discovery — has found that the only thing anyone will pay him for anymore is to spew hatred at the most vulnerable members of society, in particular rape victims. But his complaints raise some important misconceptions about Twitter, free speech, and who controls what can or can’t be said in the new digital content paradigm.
Now it appears that Johnson is threatening legal action against Twitter for loss of income that would otherwise be generated by his hateful tweets. Johnson emailed me the letter his attorneys sent to Twitter demanding the reinstatement of his accounts, attached in full below. What makes it so absurd is the notion that Twitter is somehow guilty of “censorship” or that the company owes him a living.
Read the letter at the Pando link.
Sigh . . . When will “journalists” finally figure out that Hillary Clinton is a separate person from her husband and there is no reason for her to feel bound by decisions Bill Clinton made back in the 1990s?
Melinda Henneberger at Bloomberg Politics: Will Hillary Clinton Run Against Her Husband’s Welfare Legacy? I’m not even going to quote from the article. It’s just a rehash of 20-year-old events. Get a clue, Melinda. Hillary is not Bill, and over the past 20 years there has been a lot of water under the bridge. Hillary is not bound by things she or her husband said and did in the distant past.
Some Duggar updates:
State Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) told KSFM-TV that Kathy O’Kelley, chief of the Springdale police, had harmed Duggar’s sisters and other girls he admitted to fondling as they slept in 2002, when he was 14 years old.
“The law to protect minors’ identities is not a suggestion,” Hester said. “So sad to see the person charged with protecting the community being so reckless and irresponsible. I believe it is unavoidable that the Springdale police chief should be terminated. She has re-victimized these young ladies.”
I guess Hester hasn’t heard of the Freedom of Information Act.
“From every indication I have, the chief and city attorney reluctantly did what they had to do to comply with the state (freedom of information) law,” said Dough Sprouse, the Springdale Mayor.
Hester, sponsor of an Arkansas bill similar to Indiana’s anti-LGBT “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” wondered whether other sex abuse victims should worry that O’Kelley would publicize their identities.
Like he cares even an iota about abuse victims. Give me a break!
Days before news broke of Josh Duggar allegedly molesting five girls back when he was a teen, the 19 Kids and Counting star’s pregnant wife Anna Duggar shared a cryptic quote about forgiveness with her Instagram followers.
“The three most beautiful and liberating words in the English language are these,” the mother of three wrote on May 17, quoting pastor Lon Solomon on her page. “‘I forgive you.'” (Solomon, a senior pastor at a Virginia megachurch, is the author of a book titled Brokenness: How God Redeems Pain and Suffering.)
Well, she apparently knew all about Josh’s history and still decided to have children with him.
Finally, from TMZ: Josh Duggar Cracks Molestation Joke. Dating Family Is What We Do!
Back in 2008 — long before Duggar’s molestation past came to light — he made a quip during an episode of what was then called “17 Kids and Counting.”
Josh describes a double date scenario with his then-fiancée Anna … he ended up going with 2 of his siblings.
Josh explains, “We chose Jana and John David. We thought why not, have a double date … We are from Arkansas!”
He then broke out in laughter.
Not so funny now …
Not funny then either, IMHO.
So . . . what else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!
Today is Memorial Day but it’s also known as Decoration Day! It’s the day we celebrate the sacrifice of the soldiers and sailors who gave their lives in service to their country. Wouldn’t it be nice if no one lost their lives to war?
“Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.”
The passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 by Congress made it an official holiday.
I have a few news items to share with you. As an economist, I cannot understand the contribution of John Nash’s game theory to our understanding of high concentrated markets like duopoly or oligopoly. Dr. Nash and his wife were killed in a car accident over the weekend.
US mathematician John Nash, who inspired the Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind, has died in a car crash with his wife, police have said.
Nash, 86, and his 82-year-old wife Alicia were killed when their taxi crashed in New Jersey, they said.
The mathematician is renowned for his work in game theory, winning the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1994.
His breakthroughs in maths – and his struggles with schizophrenia – were the focus of the 2001 film.
Russell Crowe, who played him, tweeted: “Stunned… My heart goes out to John & Alicia & family. An amazing partnership. Beautiful minds, beautiful hearts.”
The film’s director, Ron Howard, also tweeted his tribute to the “brilliant” John Nash and his “remarkable” wife.
Alicia Nash helped care for her husband, and the two later became prominent mental health advocates.
I loved the movie that detailed the mental health struggles of Nash and how he because the hero of his own life.
BB and I talk a lot about homeschooling and how–in the majority of cases–it’s a clear form of child abuse. Children really need to be with their peers to learn socialization skills as well as learn about their idea of self in a world full of different kinds of people. Many parents that home school are in it to assert control over their children and most rely on dubious curricula. No where is this more clear than in the Christianist Cults identified by BB in her post on Saturday. The more we learn about the kinds of things these children have been subjected to, the more outrage we should feel. Children are not their parents property to use and abuse for their personal hang ups. Here’s a disturbing item on how to handle sexual abuse in home schooling environments but out by some even scarier people. It undoubtedly leaves children quite scarred. This is the material from Gothard-the Grabber–covered a bit in BB’s post. The details are just profoundly upsetting to any one that cares about young girls.
According to its website, the ATI is a “home education program” that provides parents with curriculum and support to teach their children with a Biblical worldview.
The ATI operates under the Institute of Basic Life Principles, a conservative Christian nonprofit group.
The group came under fire last year after its founder, Bill Gothard, resigned in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against him.
Gothard was accused of hiring young women, some of them teens, to work for him and then making unwanted advances toward them. The allegations stretched back for decades, the Christian Post reported.
The family has also discussed sending their sons to an ATI program called ALERT, which “focuses on training men in Biblical disciplines and character within the framework of learning skills for crisis response and ministry support.”
After the sexual abuse allegations against Josh Duggar emerged, documents from ATI’s programs about sexual abuse came under heavy scrutiny.
One document in particular, called “Lessons From Moral Failures in a Family,” is particularly striking because it describes circumstances eerily similar to what allegedly happened in the Duggar home.
The document was shared by Recovering Grace, a website dedicated to those impacted by the teachings of Gothard and ATI.
The website says the document was distributed in the late 1990s by ATI at several of its conferences.
The document describes a situation in which social workers visited a home and informed the parents that their oldest son had sexually abused younger members of his family.
According to the document, the boy repented for what he had done and was later asked to answer a list of questions in writing to shed more insight on what happened.
The questions included asking what factors had contributed to his sin, what could have been done to prevent it, and what factors “in the home contributed to immodesty and temptation.”
“The information he gives is so helpful that every parent should read it and diligently apply the lessons that this family learned the hard way,” the document states.
The most striking part of the document comes when the boy seems to blame his actions on the lack of “modesty” in his home, especially when it came to his young sisters.
The boy wrote that modesty was a “factor” in his actions because it “was not at the level is should have been in my family.”
“It was not uncommon for my younger sibling to come out of their baths naked or with a towel,” he wrote.
He also said his younger sisters acted inappropriately when they wore dresses, saying they “did not behave in them as they should.”
He then said his sisters didn’t realize what they were doing to him because they didn’t realize their “own nakedness,” and it wasn’t taught properly to them. He seems to blame this on his mother, who he says didn’t see the human body as a big deal because she is a nurse.
The boy said he spoke with his mother who had “no idea” how “visual” men are sexually compared to women. He said changes have since been made in his home.
“This was not a major reason for the offending, but it allowed my little sister to be open to what I made her do,” he wrote.
He then wrote, “A different lifestyle, with more modesty, might have prevented what happened.”
The document then provides guidelines as to how to prevent this type of situation. These include “[insisting] on modesty at all times” and “[not allowing] boys to change diapers.”
This advice filled with victim shaming and blaming is totally disgusting. The more information that comes out about the Duggar scandal, the more that fans of the show realize how the behavior they’ve seen in the girls is explained by their molestation and shaming. There are all kinds of tweets that mention how their behavior differs from the show that tries to show a happy cheery family that I admit to never having watched. Tbogg lists a series of tweets that express concern for the girls, something that has failed to reach any critical level among the Quivering Cult and Mike Huckabee.
Fans express concern and support for Duggar daughters on Twitter: ‘Run away and be free!
In their statement to the media, parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar — who hushed up the scandal — mentioned “God” six times without mentioning their daughters once.
Fans of the show, and of the daughters in particular, expressed more support for the girls on Twitter, with one advising eldest daughter Jana to “Run away and be free!”
Many noted that some of the daughters seemed to have a darker side on the normally bright and peppy show, and wondered if it was a manifestation of being molested when they were little.
Particular attention is being paid to 25-year-old Jana Duggar, known as “Cinderella Duggar,” because she is unmarried, still lives at home, and is treated like a maid, taking care of the younger Duggars.
A state senator from Northwest Arkansas is calling for the Springdale police chief to be fired over the recent release of a 2006 police report detailing accusations that Josh Duggar as a teenager molested five underage girls.
Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, said the girls have been re-victimized now that the report is public. He said Police Chief Kathy O’Kelley acted recklessly in releasing the report and should be held accountable.
“The law to protect minors’ identities is not a suggestion,” Hester, pictured, said Saturday (May 23). “So sad to see the person charged with protecting the community being so reckless and irresponsible. I believe it is unavoidable that the Springdale police chief should be terminated. She has re-victimized these young ladies.”
Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse said O’Kelley and Springdale City Attorney Ernest Cate determined after researching the matter that the report had to be released under law.
“From every indication I have the chief and city attorney reluctantly did what they had to do to comply with the state FOI (freedom of information) law,” Sprouse said Saturday (May 23).
The Springdale police report was obtained by In Touch Weekly magazine and posted on the magazine’s website this week. The names are redacted in the report. On May 21, Washington County Juvenile Judge Stacey Zimmerman issued a court order that the police report be destroyed and expunged from the public record.
That’s great. Fire a police chief for doing his job! Makes perfect sense in the twisted authoritarian minds of those trapped in Christianist cults.
In other news, hateful expressions of racism are still resplendent all over our country. This is an example from New Orleans. It’s hit the press now but most of us that know the Neville family received notice about 5 minutes after it happened. I’m still pretty shocked frankly. This is a prime example of a privileged little white boy who got a job from his general manager father and just seems to think he can do anything to any one.
The waiter who wrote the N-word on a New Orleans restaurant receipt knew what he was doing when he unleashed the racial slur that caused intense backlash and calls for boycotts, according to one former coworker.
“I printed those receipts 50 times a day. I know for a fact he knew it would show up on his receipt,” a former Huck Finn’s waitress told the Daily News. “I was like, are you that hateful that you would put that on the receipt?”
Dakota Crochet, 23, was fired from the French Quarter sports bar this week after the phrase “N—– 100% dislike” appeared on a check he gave to a group of black customers Thursday.
One of the diners, Liryca Neville Branch — the daughter of New Orleans musician Cyril Neville — is now mulling a lawsuit and demanding a personal apology from both the canned waiter and the restaurant’s management.
“I’ve never had anything like this happen before to me,” she said. “Trust me — this is not over. I refuse to let this die out.”
Branch, 33, was eating lunch with three coworkers when they were given a bill with the racial slur in all capitals staring them in the face.
Suffolk County police are investigating a possible hate crime targeting an African-American family in Lindenhurst.
Ronica Copes, a resident of the suburban neighborhood, received a letter saying “YOU DON’T BELONG HERE” and other hateful words on Thursday.
Understandably so, she was disappointed at the sight of the hateful letter.
“Unbelievable but then it’s not…our daily reality, I’ve just never seen it in this form,” Copes posted on Facebook.
The writer of the flyer who says “Lidenhurst is 84 percent white” urges Copes in bold capital letters to “LEAVE AS SOON SHE CAN” because “IT WILL BE BETTER FOR ALL OF US.”
The racist letter gained the attention of county executive Steven Bellone, who lashed out against the author of the flyer in a statement Friday.
“To the coward who committed a hate crime against an innocent family in Lindenhurst — There is no place for intolerance in Suffolk County. I know the Suffolk County Police Department will do everything possible to solve this hate crime, out you and see you punished. I stand together with all Lindenhurst residents who decry this act of hatred. This community and all of Suffolk County are better than that.”
While police continue their investigation, Copes is thankful for the support she’s received during the ordeal.
So, today is a day to remember all of the beautiful minds that we’ve lost. It is also a day to ensure that the not-so-beautiful minds don’t get away with ruining other people’s lives. On many levels, we are still fighting the Civil War.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
It hardly seems possible that the first week of November has passed already. There seems to be a lot of unhappiness and unrest around the world right now. Ordinary people are continuing to express their discontent with their governments who ignore the rights of the many to support the wealth of the few.
Jineth Bedoya Lima is a Colombian journalist who is trying to use her own abuse as a way to end sexual assault of women’s journalists. She also wants to highlight the inaction of Colombia in pursing cases for women that have been brutalized.
As a journalist who was kidnapped, tortured, and violently gang-raped 11 years ago, when she was 26, Bedoya had finally gotten the chance she’d been waiting for, one that most women who’ve endured what she has will never get. After 11 years of her case lying motionless at Colombia’s attorney general’s office, she has the prospect of seeing some justice at the international level.
During a morning visit to Bogota’s maximum-security La Modelo prison in May 2000, as part of a newspaper investigation into alleged arms trafficking involving state officials and members of the right-wing paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), she was grabbed, drugged, and driven hours away. Three men repeatedly raped her and left her bound in a garbage dump at the side of a road, where a taxi driver discovered her that evening.
Later Bedoya told the news media how her kidnappers had gripped her hair and told her to “pay attention” as they tortured her. “We are sending a message to the press in Colombia,” they said.
After so many years of waiting on the Colombian justice system to investigate her attack, Bedoya is in D.C. to advance her case at the Inter-American Commission. The Pan-American human rights body will take up a case when all options have been exhausted on the country level or when a country has failed to bring justice in a reasonable amount of time. Bedoya and her lawyers appear to have banked and won on the latter.
All the inaction has taken its toll. When I asked after the hearing whether the look she’s had on her face all morning is anger, Bedoya answered quickly: “No, what you see is an expression of deep pain.”
Support for Republican Herman Cain has waned since the public discovery of settlements for sexual harassment. The polls indicate a definite gender gap. Women are well aware of how prevalent sexual harassment is and they are also aware of Cain’s evolving explanations.
The poll showed the percentage of Republicans who view Cain favorably dropped 9 percentage points, to 57 percent from 66 percent a week ago.
Among all registered voters, Cain’s favorability declined 5 percentage points, to 32 percent from 37 percent.
The survey represents the first evidence that sexual harassment claims dating from Cain’s time as head of the National Restaurant Association have taken a toll on his presidential campaign.
A majority of respondents, 53 percent, believe sexual harassment allegations against Cain are true despite his denials. Republicans were less likely to believe they are true, with 39 percent thinking they are accurate.
“The most striking thing is that Herman Cain is actually seeing a fairly substantial decline in favorability ratings toward him particularly among Republicans,” said Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson.
A major story on sexual predation broke over the weekend. Two Penn State officials have been charged with covering up sexual abuse allegations against a coach.
In a development that strikes very close to Joe Paterno’s storied football program, Pennsylvania State University athletic director Tim Curley and another university official were charged Saturday with perjury related to a child sexual abuse investigation of longtime Nittany Lions assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office said Curley, 57, and Gary Schultz, 62, Penn State’s senior vice president for finance and business, also were charged with failure to report, a summary offense. The perjury count is a third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
The protest was organized by the Natural Resources Defence Council, a U.S. environmental group. Spokeswoman Susan Casey-Lefkowitz told CBC News many Americans are concerned with the potential environmental impact of the pipeline.
“Tarsands expansion, climate change and particularly this pipeline is a major concern for many, many Americans,” she said, “and the numbers are growing every day.
“You know, for the president, it’s about making sure he holds true to the promises he made to fight climate change,” she said. “And to the other candidates, it’s about calling them out when they act like climate change is not real, which of course it is.”
Mississippi votes tomorrow to enact or reject a radical definition of human ‘life’. Every one interested in the health of women will be watching the southern state that’s best know for being at the bottom of every list of good things in the country. Colorado has voted on a similar initiative but it was rejected by voters.
Opponents said the definition is too broad and, in addition to outlawing abortion, could have effects on in vitro fertilization and birth control methods.
Stan Flint, a consultant for Mississippians for Healthy Families — a group that opposes the measure — said the group has tried to educate voters that they can be against abortion and vote against the initiative.
“Hopefully, everyone in Mississippi will understand this is a dangerously flawed vehicle,” Flint said. “It’s an extreme government intrusion.”
Here’s a really disturbing video from Occupy Oakland of some one being shot at by a rubber bullet by riot police while filming them. Kind’ve makes you wonder about which countries are police states, doesn’t it?
Barry Ritholz continues to make certain that the causes of the financial crisis can’t be white washed by politicians seeking political donations from Wall Street. He writes on the “big lie” at WAPO.
Why are people trying to rewrite the history of the crisis? Some are simply trying to save face. Interest groups who advocate for deregulation of the finance sector would prefer that deregulation not receive any blame for the crisis.
Some stand to profit from the status quo: Banks present a systemic risk to the economy, and reducing that risk by lowering their leverage and increasing capital requirements also lowers profitability. Others are hired guns, doing the bidding of bosses on Wall Street.
They all suffer cognitive dissonance — the intellectual crisis that occurs when a failed belief system or philosophy is confronted with proof of its implausibility.
Be sure to check the list that follows this quote. He has a really good step by step explanation of how Allan Greenspan’s low interest rates led to banks looking for high profits in all the wrong places. They have no one to blame but themselves. So, why are people like Mayor Bloomberg the blaming poor home owners?
So, that will get us started this morning. What’s on your reading and blogging list?
Good Morning!! I have a real grab bag of news items for you this morning.
Via Ezra Klein, a Gallup poll found that nobody, including most Republicans, wants the government fooling around with Medicare. I can’t embed the chart, but you can see it at either of the above links. Klein:
The Republican Party has a bit of a problem: Their coalition is heavily weighted toward seniors. But their agenda is heavily weighted toward cuts to entitlement programs that benefit seniors. In 2010, they handled this by relentlessly attacking Democrats for the Medicare cuts in the Affordable Care Act. In 2011, they’re trying to handle it by saying that Paul Ryan’s Medicare cuts will exempt anyone under 55 — but because he’s keeping all the Medicare cuts from the Affordable Care Act and implementing them on schedule, that isn’t, by the GOP’s own logic, actually true….
The most popular position in the GOP’s coalition isn’t that Medicare needs a complete overhaul, as Ryan thinks. It isn’t that it needs major changes, or even that it needs minor changes. It’s that we shouldn’t try and control costs at all.
Speaking of arrogant and deluded Republicans, The Smoking Gun obtained FAA documents relating to an incident in which James Inhofe “scared the crap out of” a bunch of Airport employees when the elderly GOP Senator landed his plan on a closed runway.
Newly released Federal Aviation Administration documents and audiotapes shed a scary new light on a bizarre incident late last year during which U.S. Senator James Inhofe landed his Cessna on a closed runway at a south Texas airport, scattering construction workers who ran for their lives as the politician’s plane hopscotched over them and six vehicles.
The FAA material, provided in response to a TSG Freedom of Information Act request, details how Inhofe, 76, chose to land on the main runway at the Cameron County Airport on October 21 despite being aware that it was closed and had a large ‘X’ on its threshold….
Shortly after Inhofe landed, Sidney Boyd, who was supervising construction on the closed runway, called the FAA to report that Inhofe’s plane, a twin-engine six-seater, initially touched down on the runway and then “’sky hopped’ over the six vehicles and personnel working on the runway, and then landed.”
During the call, which was recorded by the FAA, Boyd said Inhofe’s antics “scared the crap out of” workers, adding that the Cessna “damn near hit” a red truck. Referring to the vehicle’s driver, Boyd added, “I think he actually wet his britches, he was scared to death. I mean, hell, he started trying to head for the side of the runway. The pilot could see him, or he should have been able to, he was right on him.”
Inhofe agreed to “complete a program of remedial training” so he wouldn’t lose his pilot’s license.
According to a report by the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations, released today, Goldman Sachs “Misled Clients, Lawmakers on CDOs.”
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) designed, marketed and sold collateralized debt obligations that misled investors and created conflicts of interest as the company built short positions before the U.S. housing market collapsed, a Senate panel said in its report on the financial crisis.
In the case of one CDO, Hudson Mezzanine Funding 2006-1, Goldman Sachs told investors its interests were aligned with theirs while the firm held 100 percent of the short side, according to the report released today by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who leads the panel, urged regulators to review all of the structured finance transactions described in the report.
At a briefing today, Levin said he believed Goldman Sachs executives weren’t truthful about the company’s transactions in testimony before the subcommittee at an April 2010 hearing. He said he would refer the testimony to the Justice Department for possible perjury charges.
Good. I sure would like to see some prosecutions of these lying, cheating frauds.
While speaking about an AIDS awareness program she works with, Judd writes, “Along with other performers, YouthAIDS was supported by rap and hip-hop artists like Snoop Dogg and P. Diddy to spread the message…um, who? Those names were a red flag.”
Judd continued, “As far as I’m concerned, most rap and hip-hop music – with its rape culture and insanely abusive lyrics and depictions of girls and women as ‘ho’s’ – is the contemporary soundtrack of misogyny.”
She concludes, “I believe that the social construction of gender – the cultural beliefs and practices that divide the sexes and institutionalize and normalize the unequal treatment of girls and women, privilege the interests of boys and men, and, most nefariously, incessantly sexualize girls and women – is the root cause of poverty and suffering around the world.”
The backlash was immediate and vicious, and included death threats. Judd apologized for generalizing about all rap and hip hop music, but ended with this:
“Hatred of girls and women, I will oppose with spiritual and non-violent principles every day,” she concludes, adding that the Twitter responses to her remarks included death threats. “Abuse and violence in any form, at any time, in any expression, are never okay. Period. I, and other girls and women, are not afraid of you. You can keep on hating, but I am going to keep on loving.”
More power to Ashley Judd!
In more violence against women news, the search for bodies is continuing on Long Island. After finding ten bodies so far on beaches, searchers are looking underwater for more remains. In addition the FBI is helping out with “high-tech planes.”
“This is not an episode of CSI. This is an intensive long term investigation that includes the use of sophisticated technology as well as good old fashioned detective work,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer at a press conference today.
Dormer said that the FBI will provide investigators with planes and choppers that use sophisticated aerial imaging technology of the Long Island beach area where the skeletal remains of at least nine bodies have been found so far.
“Weather permitting this operation will commence later this week…We’re hoping the technology will help identify skeletal remains that may still be out there,” Dormer said.
Police believe that there are no links between the bodies found on Long Island in 2010 and 2011 and four bodies that were found in Atlantic City in 2006.
According to the NY Post, some of the bones found in the past couple of days could be victims of another Long Island serial killer Joel Rifkin.
The skull and torso found on a desolate Nassau County beachfront are too old to be connected to the serial killings of four Craigslist call girls — and could belong to long-lost victims of notorious Long Island butcher Joel Rifkin, a source said yesterday.
“These are so old that roots were growing around the vertebrae and the skull,” the source told The Post.
“These could be one or two of Joel Rifkin’s victims who were never found,” or the work of another killer, the source said.
Further complicating the case, the bodies of a man and a young child have been found during the search.
Austria is the latest country waking up to the abuse of its children by Catholic priests.
Over 800 cases of abuse in Catholic institutions in Austria have been reported so far, a commission tasked with investigating abuse cases announced on Wednesday.
A total 837 abuse victims approached the commission, which was set up by the Austrian Catholic Church last year after it was hit by a wave of abuse revelations, commission head Waltraud Klasnic told a press conference.
Three quarters of the victims were male, with the most cases — about 20 percent — reported in northern Upper Austria province, followed by Vienna and western Tyrol, according to a commission report summarising its first-year findings.
Back in the good old USA, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League says the kids were asking for it.
The group bought an expensive full-page ad in The New York Times Monday that places the blames for the church’s scandals on “homosexuality, not pedophilia.”
And perhaps most shockingly, it also claimed that some children were active participants in the abuse.
“The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let’s get it straight — they weren’t children and they weren’t raped,” self-appointed Catholic League president Bill Donohue wrote in the ad.
“We know from the John Jay study that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape),” he added, referencing a 2004 study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which was funded by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“The Boston Globe correctly said of the John Jay report that ‘more than three-quarters of the victims were post pubescent, meaning the abuse did not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia.’ In other words, the issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia,” Donohue wrote.
Another issue is that priests are in a position of power and should not take advantage of that position to gratify their sexual desires. But I’m sure Donohue would disagree. And where I come from adolescents are still children.
In science news, a new study revealed that Climate change affects tectonic plate movement, causing earthquakes
Understanding why plates change direction and speed is key to unlocking huge seismic events such as last month’s Japan earthquake, which shifted the Earth’s axis by several inches, or February’s New Zealand quake.
An Australian-led team of researchers from France and Germany found that the strengthening Indian monsoon had accelerated movement of the Indian plate over the past 10 million years by a factor of about 20 percent.
Lead researcher Giampiero Iaffaldano said Wednesday that although scientists have long known that tectonic movements influence climate by creating new mountains and sea trenches, his study was the first to show the reverse.
Dakninikat sent me this one from the BBC: Yellowstone supervolcano fed by bigger plume
The underground volcanic plume at Yellowstone in the US may be bigger than previously thought, according to a new study by geologists.
The volcanic hotspot below Yellowstone feeds the hot springs, mud pots and geysers that bring millions of visitors to the US national park each year.
There have been three huge eruptions of the Yellowstone supervolcano: 2.1 million years ago, 1.3 million years ago and 640,000 years ago. Two of these eruptions blanketed a large area of North America with volcanic ash.
The most recent full-scale eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano ejected some 1,000 cubic km (240 cubic miles) of hot ash and rock into the atmosphere. There have been smaller eruptions in between the largest outpourings; the most recent of these occurred 70,000 years ago.
Of course that can’t be true because the earth can’t possibly be that old, right?
That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?
Last night I posted that prosecutors are looking into sexual abuse allegations relating to an employee at the Good News Christian Camp on Cape Cod–the same camp at which Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown says he was sexually abused by a counselor when he was a young boy.
Today an employee at the camp shot himself. And officials say he is the employee who was recently accused by another man who was abused at the camp when he was 10 years old. From The Boston Globe:
An employee of a Christian summer camp on Cape Cod shot himself to death today just days after he became the focus of a criminal investigation into allegations that he sexually abused a camper during the 1980s, officials said.
In a joint statement released this afternoon, Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe and Sandwich Police Chief Peter Wack said the man was dead when he was found near his vehicle on the grounds of Camp Good News this morning.
The dead man’s name was not released by authorities. But Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents a former camper who brought a sex abuse allegation to prosecutors on Monday, said the employee was his client’s alleged abuser: Charles “Chuck” Devita, 43, who is listed on the camp’s website as part of the leadership team and director of the physical plant.
Devita left behind notes insisting “that he never did anything being alleged and was, indeed, sick of being accused,” according to a law enforcement official.
What a coward. He spends decades abusing vulnerable young boys, and when he’s finally caught he checks out, leaving a note claiming innocence.
Meanwhile, Scott Brown says his abuse took place in the 1970’s, more than 40 years ago. He refuses to identify his abuser, but now we know that the Camp has employed at least two pedophiles.
According to the Boston Herald:
Garabedian tells the Herald his client was supposed to meet with a state police investigator about today’s death. Garabedian said his client alleges he was repeatedly sexually assaulted at the overnight camp in 1985 by Devita.
Garabedian said three other people have now come forward today alleging they were also sexually assaulted at the camp — two from Devita and one from another man.
“Another individual has come forward alleging that he was molested by a different individual. I am currently investigating,” Garabedian said.
So…maybe three pedophiles have worked for this “Christian” camp. Let’s hope parents in Massachusetts stop sending their kids to this place, and learn to be vigilant about what is going on with their kids in the future. Parents need to be aware that pedophiles seek out jobs where they will have access to children.
It’s important for parents to discuss these kinds of situations with children in age appropriate ways. If nothing else, being open with your kids might help them feel safe to talk to you if, goddess forbid, they are approached by a sexual abuser.