Wednesday Reads: A Dictator, A Priest and Joe Lieberman walk into a funeral home…

Morning everyone! I hope that you have a big cup of coffee, and a nice donut, cause lets dig into Wednesday’s reads:

You have probably seen this news already, R. Sargent Shriver, Kennedy In-Law and Peace Corps Founding Director, Dies at 95 –

R. Sargent Shriver, the Kennedy in-law who became the founding director of the Peace Corps, the architect of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, the United States ambassador to France and the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1972, died on Tuesday. He was 95.

Comic relief...picture of fat bulldog with cap.

My brother was very involved in Special Olympics, so to my family, the work that Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy did for Special Olympians was very important to us. It seems that as these last few connections to such a dynamic era are passing away, so is our appreciation of times that were full of conflicts. Think about what was achieved during those years, when Democratic Presidents acted like Democrats.

The baby boomers grew up listening to their parents, talking about living during the Depression and experiencing a World at War. Those who fought for Civil Rights and Women’s Rights, dealt with Vietnam and a revolution of sex, drugs and rock and roll, they know how important the fight was. My generation had the benefit of Grandparents and Parents that appreciated the struggle of surviving on onions and mustard, who understood what was gained in terms of human rights, and enjoyed what Presidents like FDR and LBJ did for “the People.” I can’t help but wonder about what my kids generation will appreciate when they get older. Wii games , iPods and Facebook? Ugh…

Well, Joe Lieberman is retiring, and I must say that I wish he had done it sooner. I always have been fond of Lieberman. I even voted for him when I lived in CT. If you want to read about Lieberman’s decision to call it quits, check out Ezra Klein – Joe Lieberman: Democratic hero? If you don’t care about why he called it quits, and how the Dem’s feel about it, then check out who is thinking of running for that seat. 2 in House could seek Lieberman’s seat – Jake Sherman –

Joseph Lieberman’s looming retirement from the Senate has focused Connecticutians’ on the House of Representatives, where both Democratic Reps. Joseph Courtney and Chris Murphy say they’re considering a run for his seat. While both are vowing publicly that they’re undecided, a source close to the third-term Murphy said he is leaning strongly toward running for Lieberman’s seat in 2012, when President Barack Obama will be on the ticket in a state he easily carried in 2008.

At least the “Baby Doc” is in custody, and facing charges for the terrible things he did to the Haitian people. No mercy for a tyrant who showed none – The Globe and Mail

The quick decision to charge Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier for corruption and embezzlement, crimes allegedly committed during his 1971-1986 regime, is a welcome sign of life from a government that has been astonishingly listless since the earthquake.

Haiti’s leadership already faces many challenges: reconstruction, a cholera outbreak, a debilitating political impasse, and an outbreak of sexual violence against women living in the camps. About the last thing it needs is the unexpected arrival of an ex-dictator on its rubble-strewn doorstep.

More than 250 rapes in camps were reported in the 150 days following the earthquake. (Photo Amnesty International)

I am using this article to bring to the discussion here at Sky Dancing something that Boston Boomer mentioned to me last week. In a report by Amnesty International, the sexual abuse of women and girls in Haitian tent cities and camps is yet another crisis that has hit these poor people in a still devastated  country. Post-quake chaos fuels rape in Haiti – survey – AlertNet

Haitian women are more at risk of sexual violence because of the breakdown of law and order and the spread of flimsy camps after last January’s earthquake, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

Local women’s groups have documented hundreds of rapes of women and girls since the disaster, but many believe reported cases represent only a fraction of the real number, Amnesty said in a report on survey findings.

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Gotta Love those Wikileaks

I’m still waiting for the BOA Wikileaks data drop but the idea of a Swiss Banker from offshore banking haven, The Cayman Islands, dropping a dime on a few of those tax evading customers is almost as sweet.  I can sense the thickness of air hanging in private clubs all over the world from my little corner of the ninth ward.

Rudolf M. Elmer, the former head of the Cayman Islands office of the prominent Swiss bank Julius Baer, refused to identify any of the individuals or companies, but told reporters at a press conference that about 40 politicians and “pillars of society” worldwide are among them.

He told The Observer newspaper over the weekend that those named in the documents come from “the U.S., Britain, Germany, Austria and Asia — from all over,” and include “business people, politicians, people who have made their living in the arts and multinational conglomerates — from both sides of the Atlantic.”

Mr. Assange said that WikiLeaks would verify and release the information, including the names, in as little as two weeks. He suggested possible partnerships with financial news organizations and said he would consider turning the information over to Britain’s Serious Fraud Office, a government agency that investigates financial corruption.

That’s a wow story!   But then, there’s been a series of them coming from Assange’s organization and the entire thing is just too great for words.  Any one that really doesn’t see that Wikileaks is becoming THE way for little guys to undermine the power elites of the world is basically a tool of oppressors and autocrats.  Just as Bradley Manning witnessed tapes that revealed the incredibly war crimes and inhumanity of a few American soldiers, Rudolf Elmer has witnessed pilfering that probably includes profiteering from crimes against humanity.  However, like every one else, I want NAMES.

Check out the CIA’s list of the RICHEST countries in the world in per capita terms. I always love to quiz my students on which ones shake out at the top and they nearly always get it wrong.   The top ten countries–with the exceptions of oil rich Kuwait and Norway–are all havens of offshore banking, tax evasion, and gambling.  The USA has dropped to number 11 on the richest country list.  Undoubtedly, it still holds that position because of its Investment Bankers.  As I mentioned in the Friday Reads, it’s not because we reward our brain surgeons, 4 star generals, or great minds. I’m appalled that this might be the century that proves Karl Marx right on how ‘capitalism’ eventually falls.  I’m only afraid that it will not be replaced with any kind of utopia; worker or otherwise.

What was Rudolf Elmer’s motivation?

Mr. Elmer said he had turned to WikiLeaks to educate society about what he considers an unfair system designed to serve the rich and aid money launderers after his offers to provide the data to universities and governments were spurned and, in his opinion, the Swiss media failed to cover the substance of his allegations. “The man in the street needs to know how this system works,” he said, referring to the offshore trusts that many “high net worth individuals” across the world use to evade taxes.

This, is the beauty of the Wikileaks.  (I’m going to take some time here to wave to our junior G-guys and G-gals!)  It gives a voice to those of us that work in the trenches holding up a system that rewards our work with pink slips, loss of insurance, and raises that don’t keep up with the cost of living don’t have much power.  The information we sit on frequently has a lot of power.  Once released to the public domain, it has even more power.  These leaks expose corruption and thievery; pure and simple.

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Saturday Reads: In Memory of MLK and Jeannette Rankin

"Martin Luther King, Jr." by Danny Daurko (click image to visit for a larger view)

Good morning, news junkies!

Today is January 15, 2011… Eighty-two years ago, in 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born. Thirty-nine years later, in 1968, the Jeannette Rankin Brigade gathered in DC to protest the Vietnam War (links go to two great photos). At the end of the march, the 88-year old Rankin–on behalf of a delegation of women that included Coretta Scott King–presented to then-House Speaker John McCormack a petition calling for an end to the war (link takes you to another amazing photo).

I dedicate my Saturday offerings this weekend to Dr. King, his family, congresswoman Rankin, and everyone who stood with them in the fight for nonviolence, a movement largely spurred on in the twentieth century by Gandhi and his strategy of nonviolent resistance — satyagraha.

And, with that, I’ll dive right into my current event picks, the first of which takes us to Gandhi’s homeland. From earlier in the week, at the NYT Opinionator: A Light in India,” in which David Bornstein discusses the exciting new ‘frugal innovation’ of turning rice husks into electricity that is “reliable, eco-friendly and affordable for families that can spend only $2 a month for power.”

Husk Power is bringing electricity AND jobs to poor villagers — what a story! Check it out.

The top story on memeorandum right now is the developments coming out of Tunisia with President Ben Ali fleeing amid protests. Mother Jones‘ Nick Bauman has a helpful primer up which brings the Wikileaks connection into focus: “What’s Happening in Tunisia Explained.” Joe Coscarelli at the VV‘s Runnin’ Scared blog also has a post up called Tunisia in Turmoil: Where to Learn the Most Quickly with some good links to CNN, Salon, and an AOL News piece by Theunis Bates.

Is a video game really grist for a reality show to "bring Pac Man to life"? Click on image to read the rest of the story.

Also, saw this story on Runnin’ Scared while I was there — it’s a bizarre headline that I heard yesterday as well:Pac Man to Get Reality Series… I’m a child of the ’80s. I grew up on Pac Man. I really don’t get it. The blogger at VV says suggests that this is the moment “‘reality tv’ jumped the shark.” Funny, I would have said that television jumped the shark with infotainment and reality tv!

And, while we’re on the subject of games–in national political news, looks like the RNC played musical chairs on Friday.CNN: RNC bounces Steele, taps Wisconsin GOP leader as new chairman.” The NYT has more info on the new head of the RNC, Reince Priebus.

Over at US News & World Report‘s Washington Whispers blog, Paul Bedard has the scoop on Ron Reagan’s upcoming book: “Reagan Son Claims Dad Had Alzheimer’s as President.”

I have a lot of ground to cover from this week, so stay tuned for more after the fold. Read the rest of this entry »