Saturday Morning Reads

Good Morning!!

Wonk the Vote is taking care of some personal business today, so I’m filling in for her. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of exciting political news at the moment, so I’ve got a bit of a potpourri of links for you.

The most bizarre story out there right now is that Jason Russell, one of the founders of “Invisible Children,” an organization that recently released a video on Joseph Kony that went viral on the internet, has been hospitalized after an apparent breakdown.

Jason Russell, 33, was allegedly found masturbating in public, vandalizing cars and possibly under the influence of something, according to the SDPD. He was detained at the intersection of Ingraham Street and Riviera Road.

An SDPD spokesperson said the man detained was acting very strange, some may say bizarre….

Police said they received several calls Thursday at 11:30 a.m. of a man in various stages of undress, running through traffic and screaming.

Police recognized that Russell needed medical treatment, and he wasn’t put under arrest. ABC News has more detail on the incident. It sounds pretty bad.

Russell was allegedly walking around an intersection wearing “speedo-like underwear.” He then removed the underwear and made sexual gestures, sources told TMZ, which posted video of a publicly naked man purported to be Russell.

Several bystanders held Russell down until police arrived, ABC’s San Diego affiliate reported.

San Diego police spokesperson Lt. Andra Brown told NBC San Diego that Russell was “screaming, yelling, acting irrationally.” He was running into the roadway and interfering with traffic, although there were “no reports of actual collisions.” Bystanders reported he was in “various stage of undress,” although by the time police arrived, he had his “underwear back on.”

Invisible children is saying that Russell was hospitalized for exhaustion and malnutrition.

To be honest, I haven’t watched the video, because my sister saw it and told me it was very emotionally manipulative. She told me that in the film, Russell talks frankly to his son about Kony’s violent crimes in a way that sounded like child abuse to me. Plus, like many groups who are active in African countries, Invisible Children seems to be run by right wing Xtians. So I avoided seeing the film don’t know much about it. I’d be interested in the opinions of anyone who has seen the film.

I did find some background in The Guardian UK:

Invisible Children has shot to fame in recent weeks after one of the videos that it produces in order to publicise the atrocities of Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army went viral. Viewed more than 76m times, the video gave a high profile to the group’s cause, but also put the tiny charity at the centre of global scrutiny.

Critics have condemned the group for a perceived lack of transparency in its financial records and for over-simplifying a complex issue. They accused the group of being fame-seeking and of having an overtly western focus on what is a regional African problem. Some also pointed out the group had taken large donations from rightwing Christian fundamentalists groups in the US, who have also funded anti gay-rights causes.

However, the group and its many defenders mounted a strong defence, detailing its financial history and saying that their sole aim was to highlight a dreadful and ongoing human rights cause that had garnered little attention for decades. They were also hailed for using social media to engage young people in social activism.

Yesterday a jury in New Jersey Dharun Ravi guilty a hate crime for spying on roommate at Rutgers, Tyler Clementi and posting videos on the internet of Clementi and an older male in sexual encounters. Three days later, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

A former Rutgers University student was convicted on Friday on all 15 charges he had faced for using a webcam to spy on his roommate having sex with another man, a verdict poised to broaden the definition of hate crimes in an era when laws have not kept up with evolving technology.

“It’s a watershed moment, because it says youth is not immunity,” said Marcellus A. McRae, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice.

The student, Dharun Ravi, had sent out Twitter and text messages encouraging others to watch…. The case set off a debate about whether hate-crime statutes are the best way to deal with bullying. While Mr. Ravi was not charged with Mr. Clementi’s death, some legal experts argued that he was being punished for it, and that this would result only in ruining another young life. They, along with Mr. Ravi’s lawyers, had argued that the case was criminalizing simple boorish behavior.

I for one am very pleased with the verdict. Ravi’s behavior went way beyond bullying, IMO. I’m sick of seeing young people driven to suicide by behaviors that are characterized as “bullying” because they’re been carried out by young people in school. If adults acted in the same ways, their behaviors would be seen as harassment, stalking, and even outright violence.

Last night George Clooney was arrested in DC along with several legislators for protesting outside the Sudanese embassy.

A group of U.S. lawmakers and film star George Clooney were arrested at Sudan’s embassy in Washington on Friday in a protest at which activists accused Khartoum of blocking humanitarian aid from reaching a volatile border region where hundreds of thousands of people may be short of food.

Protest organizers said those arrested included U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Al Green of Texas, Jim Moran of Virginia and John Olver of Massachusetts – all Democrats. Organizers said Ben Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Martin Luther King III, the son of the slain U.S. civil rights hero, also were arrested.

Clooney, his father Nick and the other anti-Sudan activists ignored three police warnings to leave the embassy grounds and were led away in plastic handcuffs to a waiting van by uniformed members of the Secret Service, a Reuters journalist covering the demonstration said.

I was glad to see that some members of the Massachusetts delegation were involved.

The suspect in the Afghan mass murders has been identified.

The military on Friday identified the soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers earlier this week as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a 38-year-old father of two who had been injured twice in combat over the course of four deployments and had, his lawyer said, an exemplary military record.

Bales’ name was kept secret for several days because of

concerns about his and his family’s security.

An official said on Friday that Sergeant Bales was being transferred from Kuwait to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., home of the Army’s maximum security prison. His wife and children were moved from their home in Lake Tapps, Wash., east of Tacoma, onto Joint Base Lewis-McChord, his home base, earlier this week….

Little more than the outlines of Sergeant Bales’s life are publicly known. His family lived in Lake Tapps, a community about 20 miles northeast of his Army post. NBC reported that he was from Ohio, and he may have lived there until he joined the Army at 27.

Bales enlisted right after 9/11 and has had four combat deployments. It’s hard to understand how that could be permitted, especially after he suffered a traumatic brain injury. The story notes that the day before the shootings, Bales had seen a fellow soldier lose his leg.

CNN reports that Bales family said he did not want to go to Afghanistan after he had already served three combat deployments, lost part of his foot, and suffered the TBI.

“He was told that he was not going to be redeployed,” [Bales’ attorney John Henry] Browne said. “The family was counting on him not being redeployed. I think it would be fair to say he and the family were not happy that he was going back.”

Browne painted a picture of a decorated, career soldier who joined the military after the 2001 terrorist attacks and had spent his Army life at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington. Browne called him a devoted husband and father to his two young children who never made any derogatory remarks about Muslims or Afghans.

I’ve got a few political links for you. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is making news again. Naturally it relates to the war on women. He says the Republican presidential candidates “mishandled the recent debate over women’s health and contraception.”

In an interview with Reuters, he voiced misgivings about how the Republican presidential candidates have framed issues, especially the recent debate over women’s health and contraception.

The Obama administration’s recent decision to require religious institutions such as Catholic-run hospitals to offer insurance plans that cover birth control for women, which his administration later modified under pressure from critics, was “a radical expansion of federal power,” Daniels said….

“Where I wish my teammates had done better and where they mishandled it is … I thought they should have played it as a huge intrusion on freedom,” Daniels said.

Instead, he said they got dragged into a debate about women’s right to contraception, an issue which was settled 40 years ago.

Daniels said they should have framed the argument as one about government intrusion on personal liberty. He said the Obama rule was like saying that because Yoga is healthy, the government should require it.

Excuse me? What about the “intrusion” on women’s “freedom?” And what a stupid analogy. The government isn’t requiring anyone to use birth control. Why won’t Mitch just ride away on his Harley Sportster and leave us alone?

Of course not a day goes by without Mitt Romney saying something idiotic. Yesterday, right after his plane landed in Puerto Rico, Romney attacked Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor.

The justice, nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009, is beloved by local Democrats and Republicans as the high court’s first member of Puerto Rican descent.

“In looking at Justice Sotomayor, my view was her philosophy is quite different than my own and that’s the reason why I would not support her as a justice for the Supreme Court,” Romney told reporters Friday afternoon, just minutes after his plane touched down in San Juan. “I would be happy to have a justice of Puerto Rican descent or a Puerto Rican individual on the Supreme Court, but they would have to share my philosophy, that comes first.”

The issue puts Romney at odds with a majority of local voters and his most prominent Puerto Rican supporter, Gov. Luis Fortuno, standing at Romney’s side as the former governor or Massachusetts made his remarks. It also underscores the challenges facing Republican candidates as they bring popular conservative rhetoric to an area packed with Hispanic voters ahead of Sunday’s GOP president primary.

And, as if that wasn’t enough of an insult, Romney then followed the poor example of his opponent Rick Santorum and lectured the locals about making English their official language.

Romney and his rival Rick Santorum have supported the conservative push to formalize English as the official language across the country. On Puerto Rico, an American territory that will vote on its political status, including statehood, on Nov. 6, most residents speak Spanish as their primary language.

Santorum made headlines earlier in the week after saying that Puerto Rico would have to adopt English as its main language to attain statehood, a dominant political issue here.

Can you believe the nerve of these guys? I’ll end on a humorous note–another story mocking Mitt Romney. You know how I love to mock my former governor. It seems that in 2006, Romney

declared September “Responsible Dog Ownership Month” in the state.

Eleven dogs and 35 humans gathered at the State House for an event celebrating the governor’s proclamation on Sept. 21 of that year, according to a contemporaneous newsletter from the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners.

“We have a pervasive problem because of people who don’t act as responsible dog owners,” Jennifer Callahan, then a Democratic member of the state legislature, said at the time, citing the hundreds of thousands of dogs that wind up in shelters every year.

ROFLOL! The Seamus on top of the car story didn’t appear in The Boston Globe until 2007.

That’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Sunday Reads: The day after…the day, that was the last day?

Personally, I have always had a fascination with little people.

Good Sunday! We are all still here, and I am a bit disappointed. It would have been real nice to be rid of all these religious right, fetus fanatics and loud mouth politicians. After their Ascension, the rest of us heathens could get back to living a regular life without the constant sermons. Imagine a world where women can make their own choices and have access to affordable health care.

We can only dream…right?

Okay, so on with the show.  I have lots of updates on the Arab Spring, and its movement  northwest, to the land of Paella and running bulls.

First on our list has to be Syria.  The protesters continue to be killed by Assad’s “security forces.” And on Saturday, 11 mourners were killed at the funerals.  Syria mourners ‘attacked by security forces’ – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

At least 11 mourners have been killed and at least 27 wounded in Homs after security forces opened fire on a massive funeral procession, according to human rights activists.

More than 40,000 people gathered in Homs on Saturday for the funerals of protesters killed in the city on Friday and were walking back from the cemetery in Tal al Nasser on the outskirts of the city when they were fired on without warning, a witness told Al Jazeera.

The sound of gunfire and cries to help the wounded were audible over the phone as Al Jazeera spoke to the eyewitness.

But lawyer and human rights activist Lina Mansour told Al Jazeera, “Today we’ve lost about 10 people killed in Homs. Tens of people injured as well.”

It seems like these killings have been going on for so long, and it is not even Summer yet.

Another lawyer and human rights activist Razan Zaitouna told Al Jazeera that about 58 people have been killed since Friday and that the number continues to increase by the hour.

Zaitouna said while her human rights group has eleven names of those killed in protests at Homs, the actual death toll is much higher because there are many hospitals in different areas that have not yet been contacted for confirmation of casualties.

“First we should be clear, [the] violence is from one side,” she told Al Jazeera by phone from Damascus.

“People on the street act peacefully and don’t use any kind of violence. So who can stop this violence? It is the regime which uses the violence to crack down. It’s the regime who can stop the violence against the people who are demanding freedom – peacefully,” she said.

Zaitouna said there were many chances for the regime to open dialogue with the Syrian people and to stop the deadly crackdown, but now it might be too late.

According to this report, the number of dead in Syria is around 900: Shootings push death toll in Syria above 900 – The Boston Globe

“International pressure is still weak,’’ said Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut. “Despite Obama’s speech, the regime knows that staying in power is more important and in order to stay in power the regime is ready to do anything.’’

As I said above, the protest in Spain are gaining steam:  Defiant Spaniards continue protests – Europe – Al Jazeera English Just look at this picture below, all those hands up, the young people standing up for themselves.

Thousands of demostrators demand social and political changes, the day prior to the elections. [EPA]

Thousands of Spaniards have filled city squares and camped out across the country to protest against government austerity before regional elections on Sunday which are likely to deal a blow to the Socialist government.

“In theory, we are going to continue” the protests after the elections, said Angela Cartagena, a spokeswoman for the organisers at the ramshackle protest ‘village’ that has sprung up in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square.

A “general assembly” of the organisers would be held on Sunday morning to confirm the decision, she said.

In the first major election since the government passed huge spending cuts and unpopular reforms, some voters will have to pick their way through plazas littered with protesters’ tents and makeshift beds to reach polling stations.

Demonstrations are forbidden in Spain on election days and the preceding 24 hours. Spain’s electoral commission on Thursday declared that protests planned for Saturday and Sunday were illegal as they “go beyond the constitutionally guaranteed right to demonstrate.”

Let’s see what comes of this, I wonder what country will be next. Geez, I only wish American women would start gathering in the downtown squares and streets of towns in Wisconsin, Texas, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska…damn, not going to pull a Howard Dean…and don’t have the time to list all the states sticking it to women.

Oops, kind of went off on a tangent there.

Back to World News.  North Sudan army takes control of Abyei – Africa – Al Jazeera English

North Sudan’s army appears to have gained control of the main town in Sudan’s disputed Abyei region after fierce fighting with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), UN and rebel sources said.

UN officials saw 15 tanks of the Sudanese Armed Forces, the northern army, on Saturday in parts of the key town Abyei where earlier mortars slammed against a UN base, Hua Jiang, the UN spokeswoman said on Saturday.

[…]

The United States, one of the main backers of Sudan’s landmark 2005 peace deal, has deplored the attack and urged both sides to stop all unauthorised military actions in Abyei.

Click the link above for a picture of Susan Rice on the ground in Sudan.

In Yemen, just how many times is this dude going to yank the carrot backwards. It has happened so many times, I am surprised the stick that carrot (the agreement) is dangling from isn’t broken. Yemen again nears accord for president to step down – latimes.com

Yemen’s political opposition signed an internationally negotiated deal Saturday that lays the groundwork for an end to PresidentAli Abdullah Saleh’s nearly 33-year rule.

Saleh has said he intends to sign the agreement Sunday. But in a speech Saturday, he dismissed the plan as “a mere coup operation.” He also claimed that if he left office, Yemen’s Al Qaeda offshoot would overrun parts of the country.

Yemen's leader calls for early vote

“This is the message that I send to our friends and brothers in the United States and the European Union,” Saleh said. “The successor will be worse than what we have currently.”

Okay, why the hell do all these dictators have to scream and point fingers…

This next link has a very sobering image. It is from The Lens, and thanks to Wonk for highlighting this website in one of her post a couple of months ago.  Turning Point: Michel Slomka on the Work of Joachim Eskildsen – NYTimes.com

An old woman in front of me found what she was looking for: her son’s coffin. I remember she stood there, crying. She had no news of her son for so long and now she found him again, in a wooden box. She probably never had the chance to say goodbye. She was stroking the coffin, whispering softly.

Be sure to take a look at it.

For those tweeter’s out there, the US State Department Blog had a post with lots and lots of official Twitter address to follow. Just click the link:  @StateDept Passes 100,000 Followers | U.S. Department of State Blog

Okay, on to the US after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »


SDB Evening News Reads for 051611

Today’s reads are going to be a bit on the “quick” side.  Here is the scope on what has happened today.

I.M.F. Chief Is Held Without Bail – NYTimes.com

Pool photo by Richard Drew

Dominique Strauss-Kahn waited to be arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday.

Prosecutors had asked the judge, Melissa C. Jackson, supervising judge of Manhattan Criminal Court, to remand Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, contending that he was a flight risk. They also indicated that a similar attack may have occurred.

“Some of this information include reports that he has in fact engaged in conduct similar to the conduct alleged in this complaint on at least one other occasion,” said John McConnell, an assistant district attorney, adding that the district attorney’s office was still investigating the other occasion, which occurred outside the United States.

Look at the man’s expression as he waits for his case to be heard…defiant and annoyed are the words that come to mind. What do you think?

At least Judge Melissa C Jackson didn’t buy the defense reasons for Stauss-Kahn’s quick get away.

Indeed, Judge Jackson, before ordering remand, indicated that she was concerned about Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s needing to be stopped at the airport.

“When I hear that your client was at J.F.K. Airport about to board a flight,” she said, “that raises some concern.”

Mr. Strauss-Kahn has been charged with various counts of sexual assault including attempted rape, sexual abuse and criminal sexual act. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

After Judge Jackson announced that Mr. Strauss-Kahn would be held without bail, Mr. Brafman asked if she would be amenable to changing her decision if he were able to strike a deal with the Manhattan district attorney’s office in which his client would wear an ankle monitor. Judge Jackson indicated that she would not change her ruling, meaning that Mr. Brafman may have to make a bail appeal to the appellate court.

It is so good to see that this Judge is standing ground on violence against women. After the crap we have seen from another Judge last week, the one that would not approve the TRO for Planned Parenthood’s Defunding in Indiana, seeing this Judge actions is very encouraging.

The International Court may be getting a warrant issued for Gadaffi and his son and brother in-law for crimes against humanity.

 Court Prosecutor Seeks Warrant for Qaddafi – NYTimes.com

The chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said that Colonel Qaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam Qaddafi and his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Sanousi formed an inner circle that crushed peaceful demonstrations and ordered the use of live ammunition and heavy weapons against protestors.

He said he had “direct evidence” that the three men held meetings to plan and direct the operations. Mr. Qaddafi’s “second-eldest son, Seif al-Islam, is a de facto prime minister, and Abdullah al-Sanousi is his right-hand man, his executioner,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said.

A three-judge panel will decide whether to issue arrest warrants. Mr. Moreno-Ocampo seemed to send a clear message from Western governments when he said that it was not up to others, or NATO, but to Libyans themselves to make any arrests.

On the matter of war crimes, in Sudan Ahmed Haroun, was re-elected by 6,5000 votes on Sunday.  Sudan war crimes suspect re-elected – Africa – Al Jazeera English

A Sudanese official wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on war crimes charges has been re-elected governor of a central state in Sudan, according to the country’s electoral commission.

Ahmed Haroun, the candidate for the ruling National Congress Party, defeated the candidate for the opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement [SPLM] by 6,500 votes in an election on Sunday.

That allows him to remain governor of Southern Kordofan state, a post he was appointed to in 2009.

Haroun faces charges of murder, rape and the forced expulsion of civilians in Darfur.

He is a staunch ally of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is also wanted by the Netherlands-based tribunal over the conflict in the western Darfur region.

Questions are being raised about possible fraud and rigged elections.

The NYT is reporting that opening the spillways is “working.”  Opening of Spillway Seen to Relieve Pressure on River – NYTimes.com

The opening of the Morganza spillway has relieved pressure on levees downriver, leading officials to believe that the Mississippi River will crest at Baton Rouge and New Orleans sooner and at lower levels than had once been predicted.

This next link is something that I noticed while doing Google searches on finding abortion providers in Georgia.  ThinkProgress » Anti-Abortion Group Uses Google Ads To Misdirect Women Seeking Abortions

An anti-abortion group called Online for Life is buying up Google ad space as part of a campaign to deliberately mislead and misdirect women seeking information about abortions on the internet, the Washington Independent reported Friday. In order to “intercept” “abortion-determined” women who try to find service providers online, the Texas-based group has made their deceptive ads some of the first hits women see when they use Google to search for “abortion” in certain cities. Several of the ads trick women by appearing to offer full-service medical counseling, but instead re-route them to “crisis pregnancy centers” that perform ultrasounds and try to scare women out of having abortions by telling them false or misleading information about the risks of the procedure.

Online for Life explains the strategy on its website under the heading “Rescuing pre-born babies from abortion using the Internet”

I don’t have time to discuss this right now…I’ve got to go and pick up my former fetus from cheerleading practice. Damn PLUBs.

Over in Indiana, Planned Parenthood is getting a surge in donations. Good. Indiana Planned Parenthood Sees Flood Of Donations After Defunding

Nicole Robbins, 31, is a single mother in Indianapolis, Indiana, who has been visiting Planned Parenthood for pap tests, breast exams and birth control for nearly six years. Last week, she received some bad news: they can no longer legally accept her Medicaid payments.

“I’m frustrated,” she told HuffPost. “Where do I go now? I know the doctor there, I know the people there, I know it’s confidential, I can always call with any questions or concerns. I don’t want to have to go somewhere else.”

[…]

Robbins, who is currently on administrative leave from her nursing home job and thus not earning any income, said the staff at her local Planned Parenthood referred her to the Health Advantage program at Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis, a managed care program for low-income and uninsured patients. But the hospital is much more difficult to get to from her house than the Planned Parenthood clinic, and there are many unknowns involved: Will she qualify for the program? Will they offer all the same family planning services as Planned Parenthood? Will there be a long waiting list for appointments?

The actions of Gov. Daniels is more oppressive to women than just making it even harder for them to get an abortion.  We all know that. And with the cost of gas and the fact that most women will have to drive further to get health care,  it just adds more misery and hardship to women who are already having a hell of a time in this economy.  Assholes.

Be sure to post some links in the comments, I look forward to reading them when I get back from town.