Friday Nite Lite: Burning Cross Bar-B-Que…Paula Deen Style

062313-toon-luckovich-ed

Good Evening

We’re gonna jump into this week’s cartoons starting with the one above from Mike Luckovich:  6/23 Luckovich cartoon: Cooking up trouble

I am sure that there will be plenty more Paula Deen cartoons next week, but this one from Luckovich is perfect.

On with the rest of tonight’s funnies.

US arms to rebels by Political Cartoonist Dave Granlund

133161 600 US arms to rebels cartoons

The War Monger by Political Cartoonist Malcolm Evans

133173 600 The War Monger cartoons

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Joe Heller, Green Bay Press-Gazette – 06/19/2013

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

New Chain – Truthdig

War Infinitum – Truthdig

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 06/21/2013

Cartoon by David Horsey -

There were some very good ones in that group dealing with war…the rest of the cartoons touch on NSA/Privacy issues, and a few odds and ends that have gone on the past week.

Privacy – Political Cartoon by Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News – 06/19/2013

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Privacy

Untitled – Political Cartoon by Bob Gorrell, Creators Syndicate Inc. – 06/21/2013

Cartoon by Bob Gorrell - Untitled

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune – 06/20/2013

Cartoon by Scott Stantis -

Here are two cartoons dealing with reality shows….

AAEC – Political Cartoon by John R. Rose, Byrd Newspapers of Virginia – 06/21/2013

Cartoon by John R. Rose -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Paul Berge, Q Syndicate – 06/19/2013

Cartoon by Paul Berge -

I could think of another reality show dealing with priest…sort of like a The Bachelorette, Vatican style.

Unrest in Brazil – Truthdig

NHL playoffs diehard by Political Cartoonist Dave Granlund

133524 600 NHL playoffs diehard cartoons

There is a good op/ed here about the haves and have-nots at this link: An E-Z Fix by Peter Funt

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Paul Fell, Artizans Syndicate – 06/21/2013

Cartoon by Paul Fell -

And finally, we will end with a Luckovich cartoon. Yup, this week’s post was a Luckovich sandwich…

6/20 Luckovich cartoon: Paleo politics | Mike Luckovich

062013-toon-luckovich-ed

This is an open thread.


Wednesday Reads….Class warfare?

20_67_VIVELAFRAN

Good Morning!

I have so many links for you this morning, let us start with a look at class warfare…I am reminded of the quote wrongly attributed to Marie Antoinette…Let them eat cake.  Hamilton Nolan from the Gawker has a point….check it out: It Would Be Great if Millionaires Would Not Lecture Us on ‘Living With Less’

There is something about achieving great financial success that seduces people into believing that they are life coaches. This problem seems particularly endemic to the tech millionaire set. You are not simply Some Fucking Guy Who Sold Your Internet Company For a Lot of Money; you are a lifestyle guru, with many important and penetrating insight about How to Live that must be shared with the common people.

We would humbly request that this stop.

Meet Graham Hill. Graham Hill became a multimillionaire at a very young age when he sold his internet company in 1998. Good for him. We would not be telling you about Graham Hill at all, except for the fact that he wrote a remarkable op-ed in the New York Times Sunday Review yesterday in which he instructs you, the common man, on the virtues of “Living With Less.” He bases this prescription on the wisdom he has learned on his own personal journey, from millionaire with a big house and many material possessions to millionaire with a smaller house and fewer material possessions, but just as many liquid assets.

You can read Hill’s op/ed at that link, but I just want to post the last of this Gawker response, cause it is damn good.

A millionaire does not have the standing to tell regular people that money is overrated. Graham Hill moved into a smaller apartment and sold some of his stuff. But he sure as fuck didn’t empty his bank accounts. It’s easy not to have material things when you can just buy whatever you need, whenever you need it. ” My space is small. My life is big,” writes Hill. Of course it is! You can buy anything and go anywhere at any time, thanks to your vast wealth! The fact that a millionaire’s “life is big” offers little valuable wisdom to the common person. The presumptuousness is akin to a fat food critic walking out of a restaurant after a huge meal and telling a starving beggar on the curb, “Trust me—you don’t want to eat at this place.”

Money doesn’t matter at all, as long as you have too much of it.

Sure got that right, just like all these wealthy ass politicians that are dealing and scheming to do away with programs that are of no concern with them. (That also goes for the current president in the White House.) The White House Is for Sale Under Barack Obama, Too

On Wednesday night, at the swanky St. Regis Hotel three blocks north of the White House, President Barack Obama will schmooze with his biggest donors and most avid grassroots supporters at a “founder’s summit” for Organizing for Action, the controversial pro-Obama nonprofit group. OFA will use the email lists, social networks, and cutting-edge technologies honed during Obama’s reelection campaign to try to galvanize Americans in support of the president’s second-term agenda.

But watchdogs and reformers are up in arms after the New York Times revealed that supporters who raise or donate $500,000 or more will score invites to quarterly meetings with Obama and other exclusive perks unavailable to run-of-the-mill Obama supporters. “Access to the president should never be for sale,” said Common Cause president Bob Edgar.

Obama isn’t the first prez to do this, you can read more at the link, but it should not be surprising.

Oops, I got distracted, back to the issue of class. Well, I thought this was an interesting blog post over at Suburban Guerilla, written by OddManOut » Being white in Philly Mag

Chances are slim that Philadelphia Magazine‘s March cover piece, “Being White in Philly,” by Robert Huber, was meant as anything more than an exercise in cynicism. Huber had to know that his confused personal impressions regarding race relations didn’t add up to an actual story. And his editor surely saw that the piece was ill-conceived and unresolved, more likely to stir up resentment than encourage dialogue between black and white city residents.

whites

Huber affected the “why can’t we all get along” tone of a white Rodney King, but with little bombs of condescension that could only have been meant to provoke:

But like many people, I yearn for much more: that I could feel the freedom to speak to my African-American neighbors about, say, not only my concerns for my son’s safety living around Temple, but how the inner city needs to get its act together.

Substituting “inner city” made Huber’s generalization seem even more insulting than it would have if he’d used “blacks.” His professed yearning to speak to his black neighbors reminds us that he didn’t quote, and perhaps didn’t even speak with, any black Philadelphians while doing his research (if you can call it that).

It seems the article was meant to piss off blacks while appealing to the magazine’s core demographic — reasonably well-off and well-educated whites who respond to ads for luxury cars and liposuction. Huber and Philly Mag were saying it’s OK for these whites to think of themselves as tolerant despite their fear and loathing of blacks; that it’s only natural to feel this way about people who, after all these years, still can’t get their act together.

Huber was writing more about class than race, but acknowledging this fact would have called attention to the superficiality of his analysis. He offered a brief history of white flight from Philly, but mentioned none of the underlying socioeconomic factors that have widened the gulf not only between whites and blacks but also between the well-off and poor of both races.

Hmmmm, I know Huber’s article is not the same as that op/ed from rich man Graham Hill, but it also seems to leave a bad aftertaste in the mouth. OddManOut continues:

There’s an even wider gulf between bad journalism and the truth. I was there, growing up in a Philly neighborhood that was transitioning from white to black in the 1960s-1970s, hanging out with other white kids who were engaged in an ongoing street war with black kids. The shootings and stabbings were manifestations of forces that all of us, black and white, couldn’t control or even understand.

These forces are still at work, and articles such as Huber’s do nothing to shed light on why they persist. But they do boost print sales and online traffic, and that’s the bottom line.

I guess this last sentence is in line with the Journalism post I wrote a few days ago.  How the son of Fred Friendly stated, “making more money doing its worst…than it did doing its best.”

Alright, I am going to move on to the Vatican now. Here’s a few links on the Vatican’s selection of the new pope. According to Tommy Christopher over at Mediaite: MSNBC Contributor Compares The Vatican To The Soviet Union

But she meant it in the best way possible. On Tuesday morning, all three cable news networks devoted hours of airtime to complete coverage of Cardinals signing in for the latest conclave to elect a new pope, which made for television with all the electricity of a watch battery. On MSNBC, The Nation‘s Katrina vanden Heuvel broke up the monotony somewhat by telling fellow panelists that she was reminded of Soviet Russia, specifically “of the Communist Party. There is something about the need to have Kremlinology to understand who might be the next pope.”

Vanden Heuvel went on to explain that the next pope will need to be a reformer, along the lines of a Mikhail Gorbachev, to bring transparency to the Vatican. She also confessed to being a lapsed Catholic who agrees with E.J. Dionne that the next pope should be a nun…

Ditto on making the next pope a nun…but Tommy continues:

Although I only half-watched the coverage of what appeared to be the waiting room for the world’s slowest, yet busiest, doctor’s office, I am fairly confident that this was the most interesting thing said during the cumulative hours of cable news this morning. On CNN, without a trace of irony, they were talking about the betting line on who the next pope will be. On Fox News, Shep Smith was also talking about transparency, which is becoming one of the most overrated concepts in the media. It seems as though it’s more important to let people see the horrible things you’re doing than to do anything about it.

To be fair, I’m a much more lapsed Catholic than Katrina vanden Heuvel, so my level of investment in the new pope is lower than most, and while I begrudge no one their faith, the Vatican, as an institution, seems fatally flawed. Covering up and enabling child rape is something you shouldn’t even get one shot at, let alone several thousand. But even those who are considerably more forgiving than I am would be hard-pressed to find much of value in this saturation coverage of the papal conclave kickoff.

I agree with Christopher about the Vatican cover-ups, which goes without saying…but the Vatican is also filled with hypocrites. Check this out: As cardinals gather to elect Pope, Catholic officials break into a sweat over news that priests share €23m building with huge gay sauna

A day ahead of the papal conclave, faces at the scandal-struck Vatican were even redder than usual after it emerged that the Holy See had purchased a €23 million (£21 million) share of a Rome apartment block that houses Europe’s biggest gay sauna.

The senior Vatican figure sweating the most due to the unlikely proximity of the gay Europa Multiclub is probably Cardinal Ivan Dias, the head of the Congregation for Evangelisation of Peoples, who is due to participate in tomorrow’s election at the Sistine Chapel.

This 76-year-old “prince of the church” enjoys a 12-room apartment on the first-floor of the imposing palazzo, at 2 Via Carducci, just yards from the ground floor entrance to the steamy flesh pot. There are 18 other Vatican apartments in the block, many of which house priests.

The Holy See is still reeling from allegations that the previous pontiff, Benedict XVI, had quit in reaction to the presence of a gay cabal in the curia.

And with disgraced Scottish cardinal Keith O’Brien lending new weight to charges of hypocrisy against the Church’s stance on homosexuality, La Repubblica newspaper noted that the presence of “Italy’s best known gay sauna in the premises is an embarrassment”.

And if you really want to experience an early morning yuk factor, take a look at this link which features a real commercial for that gay sauna: Vatican Building Houses Gay Sauna

Ewwww!

One more pope story, actually it is an interactive… from the Guardian: Choose your own pope – with our interactive Pontifficator

I’m going to go ahead and give you the rest of today’s news reads via a Link Dump:

From TruthDig….Robert Scheer: If Corporations Don’t Pay Taxes, Why Should You?

This little nugget about the latest Bush candidate, from LG&M: The Little Brown One

Looks like there is some talk about men in a powerful positions who sexually assault women, via the Independent: Petronella, paedophilia, and the wrong lesson to draw from Olivier’s pass

Over at the Guardian, a story about the Generation self: what do young people really care about?

Salon discusses the paleo-diet: “Paleofantasy”: Stone Age delusions

Susie Madrak has this to say over at C&L… Sources: Koch Brothers May Buy The L.A. Times. Stay Tuned

MoJo on The Most Radioactive Man on Earth Has the Kindest Heart

And we will end with a little history: Aelfthryth, Queen of England

What are you all reading and blogging about today?


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!


Sunday Reads: Volcanic Ash, Elephant Speak and Secret Pigeons of War

Good Morning

This morning’s post has many items that are not about Romney, Ryan or the election. I suppose however, we should get a few of the newsy links out-of-the-way first.

The forecasters are predicting cold weather in the Northeast. U.S. disaster relief in a race against freezing cold

The power restorations relit the skyline in Lower Manhattan for the first time in nearly a week and allowed 80 percent of the New York City subway service to resume, but more than a million homes and businesses still lacked power, down from 3.5 million on Friday.

The power outages combined with a heating oil shortage meant some homes could go cold as unseasonably frigid weather sets in. Forecasters saw temperatures dipping into the upper 30s Fahrenheit (around 3 degrees Celsius) on Saturday night with freezing temperatures expected next week.

[...]

The weather forecast remains bleak. An aggressive early-season “Nor’easter” storm was expected to hit the battered New England coast next week with strong winds and heavy rain.

Another storm has been brewing over the last year, the disaster cyclone that is Romney. Over on the Maddow Blog, Steven Benen has been chronicling the Romney Lies. His latest entry can be found here: Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity, Vol. XLI – The Maddow Blog

In a way, I blame my friend Greg Sargent. In the first week in January, he noted, almost in passing, that Mitt Romney seemed to be making a lot of false claims, and someone “really should document them all.” That struck me as a good idea, so I decided to tackle this on my own.

After all, I thought at the time, how hard could this be? Once a week, I’d let readers know about Romney’s whoppers, which I assumed would total about a half-dozen a week, and maybe after the election, I’d do a top 20 list of my favorites. The project would be a nice little Friday-afternoon feature.

Little did I know at the time that Romney would become an ambitious prevaricator, whose rhetoric would come to define post-truth politics. Nearly 11 months after Greg Sargent’s harmless suggestion, I’ve published 40 installments in this series, which, before today, featured 884 falsehoods. (If you include today’s edition, the new total is 917 falsehoods for the year.)

I wish that were a typo. It’s not.

I have followed this series from the beginning, and actually have linked to a few articles now and then. If you want to skim over lies upon lies, then check out the full Mendacity series here.

Previous editions of Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity: Vol. IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXII,XIIIXIVXVXVI, XVIIXVIII, XIX, XX, XXIXXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, XXXI, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV, XXXVI, XXXVII, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XL

I’ve got several links for you on the GOP’s War on Women:

Bush Appointed Judge Rules Against Obama Administration’s Guarantee of Access To Birth Control

Judge Robert Cleland, a George H.W. Bush appointee and former Republican candidate for Michigan Attorney General, held yesterday that a private, for-profit outdoor power equipment company can ignore new rules requiring most employer-provided health plans to offer contraceptive coverage to womenbecause the new rules conflict with the company’s owner’s religious beliefs.

There’s a lot to not like about Judge Cleland’s opinion, which often relies on cursory reasoning or fails to apply the correct legal standard. The plaintiffs, for example, sought what is known as a “preliminary injunction” which means that they wanted their client to be held immune from following the law until the court has sufficient time to fully consider the case. Under binding Supreme Court precedent, “[a] plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits.” Yet Judge Cleland never determines that this is the case. At one point, he says that it “remains uncertain” how to resolve a key prong of this case. At another point, he outright states that “[n]either Plaintiffs nor the Government have shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits.” For this reason, an appeals court should reverse Cleland’s order solely because he failed to apply the correct legal standard.

There are many other observations about the ruling at the link.

Do you remember that Bishop that compared Obama to Hitler, well…he is making all catholic priest read a letter at this morning’s mass. Here is a good Catholic’s take on the letter and The Vatican’s Merger With The GOP via Andrew Sullivan

In Peoria, Illinois, Catholic Bishop Jenky, who has previously compared president Obama with Hitler and Stalin, has ordered a letter to be read at all masses next Sunday by the priest. This instruction gives you a taste of the legacy of Benedict XVI in his restoration of total clerical and episcopal obedience:

By virtue of your vow of obedience to me as your Bishop, I require that this letter be personally read by each celebrating priest at each Weekend Mass, November 3/4.

It’s a screed about religious liberty, with respect to the liberty of Catholic hierarchs to prevent the 99 percent of their female parishioners who use contraception from getting it from their health insurance via Obamacare. Money quote from the unhinged letter which all but instructs Catholics to vote for Romney-Ryan:

Nearly two thousand years ago, after our Savior had been bound, beaten, scourged, mocked, and crowned with thorns, a pagan Roman Procurator displayed Jesus to a hostile crowd by sarcastically declaring: Behold your King. The mob roared back: We have no king but Caesar. Today, Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as their Lord. They are objectively guilty of grave sin.

For those who hope for salvation, no political loyalty can ever take precedence over loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his Gospel of Life.

Democrats are the equivalent of the mob who called out to crucify Jesus. The man has lost his sense of proportion and compassion and restraint entirely. But so, alas, has the hierarchy he serves.

Here is an update on Planned Parenthood in Texas. Errors in Texas database pose barriers to health care access

Texas health commissioner Kyle Janek said Wednesday that errors in a state-crafted database intended to help women find reproductive health care providers are “a real problem.”

As the state attempts to implement a rule barring Planned Parenthood clinics from participating in the government-funded Women’s Health Program, the health commission has directed low-income women­ to use its online database to search for a new provider.

Nearly half of the women served by the program currently rely on Planned Parenthood. The commission says that more than 3,000 providers are available to serve these women, but many experts are skeptical that these facilities will be able to accommodate the women displaced by the new rule.

Read the rest of the horrible situation women in Texas must face for basic services.

The database has garnered complaints from health care providers and patients for producing what they see as inflated and “misleading” search results. It includes a number of duplicate entries, facilities that do not provide reproductive health services (such as children’s clinics), and listings for clinics that are unable to see new program clients.

When confronted about the issue by The American Independent at an event hosted by The Texas Tribune, Janek insisted that the “3,000 providers” figure was accurate and that the error-prone database is “a separate list.”

“When we say that we’ve got 3,000 providers out there ready to participate in this program, there’s no duplicates,” he said.

Still, Janek admitted the inaccurate database is “a real problem.”

Very upsetting, please read more at the link.

More disgusting stuff about violence against women Rapists, Beware: Detroit Prosecutor IDs 21 Attackers in ‘Rape Kit’ Probe  I realize that headline may sound promising but it is not.

Twenty-one serial rapists have been identified in a massive investigation led by Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy—and her manhunt has only just begun.

Worthy is leading a charge to investigate more than 11,000 police “rape kits”—which contain swabs of semen, saliva, and other evidence of rape—so the rapists can be brought to justice. The thousands of rape kits had piled up in a dusty police warehouse in Detroit for years, ignored, until one of Worthy’s colleagues stumbled upon them in 2009. Since then, an outraged Worthy has been fighting to get the kits logged, tested for DNA, and then entered into the national DNA database.

11,000 rape kits that have yet to be worked over? WTF…

The logging of the kits alone has been a staggering project. “There were no police reports attached to the kits,” she says, explaining that her colleagues “literally had to dust them off” and “physically go through and open them to get the name of the victim, the date that it happened.” A federal grant for $1 million—the first of two such grants of its kind, with the other going to Houston—has helped her get all the kits logged, she says, but the grant won’t cover the DNA testing of all 11,303 kits. “Unfortunately money’s not falling from the sky,” she says.

Rape-kit pileups aren’t just a problem in Detroit. In recent years, cities across the country have reported mountains of kits—11,000 in San Antonio, 1,200 in Albuquerque, 4,000 in Houston—according to Sarah Tofte, who has studied the national debacle for the advocacy group Human Rights Watch. Experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of kits are languishing in police warehouses.

When Worthy learned of the Detroit pileup from the colleague who discovered it by chance, she says, she demanded immediate action from the police chief at the time. “No one really paid attention to what I was saying and yelling about till about four months in,” she says. People finally took notice, she says, when someone in the police department leaked the news to the press.

I can’t quote the rest, you have to read it for yourself. It is maddening! Women don’t matter, and the treatment we receive from the right-wing assholes is sometimes more than I can bear.

For some perspective on this, check out how a typical white male GOP loving Fox News celebrity views women voters. Bill O’Reilly on single women voters: hot, good at costumes, not too smart.

Bill O’Reilly has been very concerned about the problem of degrading women lately. So concerned, in fact, that he worried out loud that Sandra Fluke had degraded women with her immodest suggestion that insurance benefits cover contraception. With Bill O’Reilly as a fierce protector of ladies, you can imagine that his show’s segment on single female voters last night was a chaste, respectful affair that represented the wide diversity of this important portion of the electorate: the never-married, the divorced, the widowed, the single mothers and the non-mothers, the cohabitating but unmarried, the young and the old, and, of course, women from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Just kidding! O’Reilly sent his producer Jesse Watters out on Halloween weekend to interview sexy young white women on the street, all of them in costume and ready to party, so that Watters could leer at their single lady voter breasts and condescendingly make “can you believe they have a right to vote?!” faces at the camera in response to the women’s selectively edited answers to his questions.

My favorite part is when Watters asks one woman, an Obama supporter, if she’s a “radical feminist” in the same tone adults use when asking kindergartners what they want to be when they grow up. After she points out that feminism is simply a matter of believing women have equal rights, the audience is reminded that we’re supposed to find that answer ridiculous with a sarcastic quick cut to a man saying, “I sure do appreciate knowing that.”

Read the rest of Amanda Marcotte’s article, where she touches on the Fox News audience…a bunch of dirty old men. If you missed Dak’s article yesterday on the Fox Assholes...then go read it. Wow!

I’ve got another article for you, about Why Frightened White Men Love Romney

These are the facts you don’t want to know. This is the hard data that can make you cringe, that can despoil the soul and make you wonder at the sad state of the modern world, and gender politics, and the tragically deceived hearts of (ahem) men.

All that progress! All that supposed enlightenment! All that push and desire, that evolution and that open-hearted possibility! And for what? For naught! For shame!

That is just a taste…being married to one of those white men with a fondness for Mittens, I can tell you that I still don’t get why anyone would vote for Romney.

Great, now that all those terrible links are posted, let’s get to the fun.

More after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday Morning Reads: Gala, Jobs, Plastic and an American Priest

Good Morning

You can also add a sunspot to that title, because today I am going to share a variety of links with you.

News out of DC? Well…I don’t quite know what to make of this: Obama unveils jobs plan on a virtual ‘post-it’ note, urging Congress to act

A post-it note? As if that is going to get the job done in Congress…

President Barack Obama pressed Congress on Tuesday to act on a modest five-item “to-do list” to fight unemployment, showcasing the tasks on a virtual Post-It note he mockingly said would not “overload” lawmakers.

“I know this is an election year,” Obama said in a speech at the SUNY-Albany Nano-Tech Complex, a science research facility. “But it’s not an excuse for inaction. Six months is plenty of time for Democrats and Republicans to get together and do the right thing.”

Obama’s list included items he’s already unsuccessfully pushed Congress to adopt, such as cutting tax incentives for businesses that ship jobs overseas, enacting new hire tax credits, promoting clean energy and helping homeowners struggling with their mortgages to refinance.

“It’s about the size of a Post-It note, so every member of Congress should have time to read it and they can glance at it every so often,” said the president, who referred to the virtual memo as “a handy little ‘to-do’ list.”

How cute…

With his reelection hopes weighed down by the weak economy, Obama also seemed to lay the blame on Congress if job growth remains sluggish from now to November. New figures showed lackluster employment figures in April and a national jobless rate that ticked down to 8.1 percent mostly because of unemployed Americans giving up on looking for work.

“The truth is, the only way we can accelerate the job creation that takes place on a scale that is needed is bold action from Congress,” he said. “Just saying no to ideas that we know will help our economy isn’t an option. There’s too much at stake. We’ve all got to pull in the same direction,” Obama said.

You know, when I think of all the suggestions from economist like Dr. Dakinikat have shouted out to anyone who would listen…why, won’t they (both Dems and Repubs) do something that will be beneficial to the economy?

This next link is on the topic of health, specifically cancer. ‘One in six cancers worldwide are caused by infection’

One in six cancers – two million a year globally – are caused by largely treatable or preventable infections, new estimates suggest.

The Lancet Infectious Diseases review, which looked at incidence rates for 27 cancers in 184 countries, found four main infections are responsible.

These four – human papillomaviruses, Helicobacter pylori and hepatitis B and C viruses – account for 1.9m cases of cervical, gut and liver cancers.

Most cases are in the developing world.

The team from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France says more efforts are needed to tackle these avoidable cases and recognise cancer as a communicable disease.

The proportion of cancers related to infection is about three times higher in parts of the developing world, such as east Asia, than in developed countries like the UK – 22.9% versus 7.4%, respectively.

Nearly a third of cases occur in people younger than 50 years.

Among women, cancer of the cervix accounted for about half of the infection-related cancers. In men, more than 80% were liver and gastric cancers.

Remember the HPV vaccine?

Drs Catherine de Martel and Martyn Plummer, who led the research, said: “Infections with certain viruses, bacteria, and parasites are some of the biggest and preventable causes of cancer worldwide
“Application of existing public-health methods for infection prevention, such as vaccination, safer injection practice, or antimicrobial treatments, could have a substantial effect on the future burden of cancer worldwide.”
Vaccines are available to protect against human papillomavirus (HPV) – which is linked to cancer of the cervix – and hepatitis B virus – an established cause of liver cancer.
And experts know that stomach cancer can be avoided by clearing the bacterial infection H. pylori from the gut using a course of antibiotics.

I wonder if other cancers can be triggered from infection. I seems a lot of new information on cancer treatment is coming out of Europe these days. Which is a good thing since science is being trampled here in the US by religious conservative politicians.

Moving on to something troubling in the Pacific Ocean…Scientists find hundredfold increase in plastic trash in Pacific Ocean since 1970s

The amount of plastic in the ocean area known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” has increased a hundredfold since the early 1970s, according to a new study, and the alarming findings could pressure California and other coastal states to do more to reduce plastic trash.

“We were really surprised. It is a very large increase,” said Miriam Goldstein, a Ph.D. graduate student in biological oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and lead author of the study.

“Plastic had been detected in the open ocean in the early 1970s,” she said. “People were raising the alarm then. The fact it has gotten so much worse is really disappointing.”

During an expedition in 2009, Scripps researchers took extensive water samples 1,000 miles west of California, then compared the amount of plastic they found with samples taken by other researchers dating back to 1972.

While many of the samples 40 years ago found little or no plastic, vast stretches of the North Pacific are now polluted with billions of tiny pieces of confetti-like trash that comes from garbage that floats out to sea and breaks down in wind and waves.

The tiny bits sit on or near the surface, where they are eaten by fish, sea turtles and other marine animals that confuse them for food. The latest samples show that the garbage patch has grown not in size but in density: There are roughly 100 times more pieces per cubic meter of water than were in samples during the 1970s.

Read more at the link above, and here is a graphic that explains the currents effect on garbage. Larger graphic found here:  Image Viewer

Another big solar storm is heading our way…Monster Sunspot To Unleash Powerful Solar Flares Check out the size of this mother:

An enormous sunspot group has taken shape on the surface of the sun, hinting that our star may soon start spouting off some powerful storms.

The huge sunspot complex, known as AR 1476, rotated into Earth’s view over the weekend. It measures more than 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) across, researchers said. Scientists with NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory mission, a space-based telescope watching the sun, dubbed the solar structure a “monster sunspot” in a Twitter announcement.

THE GIST

  • AR 1476 is big enough for amateur astronomers with decent equipment to spot from their backyards, weather permitting.
  • Monday evening’s eruption generated an Earth-directed CME, which should hit Earth sometime Wednesday morning (May 9).
  • Sunspots are temporary dark patches on the surface of the sun that are caused by intense magnetic activity.

The sun’s active stage should peak around 2013, in part of its 11–year cycle.

In other hot news, I should say biblical hot…burning fire hot…much like the kind of fire the priests in this next link should find themselves burning…in HELL.

Bernard Law Hid Pedophiles, Behind Push To Punish Nuns

Last month the Vatican announced it was cracking down on American nuns for not sufficiently pushing the Catholic Bishops anti-gay, anti-woman agenda. Who was behind this sudden and aggressive push-back against women many American Catholics deeply respect? The same shamed men behind the church’s sex abuse cover-up and complicity.

David Gibson reports that conservative American churchmen living in Rome, among them the disgraced former Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, were key figures pushing the hostile takeover the the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, or LCWR. Law and other hard-right Catholic leaders don’t like the group because of its emphasis of social justice work over loyalty to church hierarchy and issues like abortion and gay marriage.

Law was joined by a former archbishop of St. Louis, Cardinal Raymond Burke in his efforts to aggressive investigate the LCWR. Burke was named to a top Vatican judicial post in 2008 because his hard-right views made Burke a lightning rod in the U.S.– a move familiar within the Catholic Church’s leadership structure and one knowing as getting “kicked upstairs.”

However the actual investigation was conducted by Cardinal William Levada, a former archbishop of San Francisco who succeeded Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s powerful doctrinal watchdog, when Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. Needless to say, these are all men very close to Ratzinger and two of them, Burke and Law, were ushered to Rome and given refuge to escape political, and in Law’s case, criminal pressure related to the sex abuse scandal in the early 2000′s.

Now we know that it is the same men who enabled, lied, and covered-up decades of criminal sexual abuse of minors pushing to punish American nuns for social justice work at the expense of Law and the Vatican’s hateful and dangerous agenda. But is anybody really surprised?

This was not a surprise to me, at all! When all the crap came down on the nuns from the Vatican, I knew something was up.

From the Religion News Service written by David Gibson, which was mentioned in the Care 2 article above:

When the Vatican last month announced a doctrinal crackdown on the leadership organization representing most of the 57,000 nuns in the U.S., the sisters said they were “stunned” by the move. Many American Catholics, meanwhile, were angry at what they saw as Rome bullying women whose lives of service have endeared them to the public.

[…]

Now it turns out that conservative American churchmen living in Rome — including disgraced former Boston Cardinal Bernard Law — were key players in pushing the hostile takeover of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, or LCWR, which they have long viewed with suspicion for emphasizing social justice work over loyalty to the hierarchy and issues like abortion and gay marriage.

Vatican observers in Rome and church sources in the U.S. say Law was “the person in Rome most forcefully supporting” the LCWR investigation, as Rome correspondent Robert Mickens wrote in The Tablet, a London-based Catholic weekly. Law was the “prime instigator,” in the words of one American churchman, of the investigation that began in 2009 and ended in 2011. The actual crackdown was only launched in April.
Gibson continues…

Law was joined by a former archbishop of St. Louis, Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was named to a top Vatican judicial post in 2008 – a move that was seen as a case of being “kicked upstairs” because Burke’s hard-line views made him so controversial in the U.S. Also reportedly backing the probe was Cardinal James Stafford, a former Denver archbishop who has held jobs in the Roman curia since 1996.

[…]

The fact that prelates like Burke and Law, who was given a Roman refuge in 2002 after the sexual abuse scandal exploded in Boston, played such a key role in the investigation of the American women has been like salt in the wound for those who support the nuns.

This Gibson article has been picked up in newspapers and news outlets online here in the US.  I hope that sparks some discussion on the cable news shows.

If you need a refresher on Bernard Law:

Why isn’t Boston’s Cardinal Law in jail? – Slate Magazine

But why isn’t Bernard Law in jail? (Part 2) – Slate Magazine

Disgraced US cardinal Bernard Law quits Rome post | World news | The Guardian

It is enough to make you scream isn’t it?

I really don’t want to end on such a sour note, so I am going to post a link to the Met Gala 2012 red carpet gallery. There are some beautiful gowns in this series of photos, and then there is Maude. (Well, take a look and you will see what I mean.) Met Gala 2012: Red Carpet Fashion From All The Stars! (PHOTOS)

Met Gala 2012

The Met Gala is often called fashion’s Oscars, but honestly, we think it’s bigger than that. Where else do you get every major Oscar star and fashion’s most powerful names all together on one red carpet?

[…]

…and check out Stylelist’s picks for best-dressed of the night here and worst-dressed here.

So, what are you all reading about today? Please share your thoughts with us…


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

This week’s New Yorker has a fascinating article by Jill Lepore about guns in America that I think everyone should read: Battleground America: One nation, under the gun. It’s long, but well worth reading. Here’s just a tiny excerpt:

The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.) No civilian population is more powerfully armed. Most Americans do not, however, own guns, because three-quarters of people with guns own two or more. According to the General Social Survey, conducted by the National Policy Opinion Center at the University of Chicago, the prevalence of gun ownership has declined steadily in the past few decades. In 1973, there were guns in roughly one in two households in the United States; in 2010, one in three. In 1980, nearly one in three Americans owned a gun; in 2010, that figure had dropped to one in five.

Men are far more likely to own guns than women are, but the rate of gun ownership among men fell from one in two in 1980 to one in three in 2010, while, in that same stretch of time, the rate among women remained one in ten. What may have held that rate steady in an age of decline was the aggressive marketing of handguns to women for self-defense, which is how a great many guns are marketed. Gun ownership is higher among whites than among blacks, higher in the country than in the city, and higher among older people than among younger people. One reason that gun ownership is declining, nationwide, might be that high-school shooting clubs and rifle ranges at summer camps are no longer common.

Although rates of gun ownership, like rates of violent crime, are falling, the power of the gun lobby is not. Since 1980, forty-four states have passed some form of law that allows gun owners to carry concealed weapons outside their homes for personal protection. (Five additional states had these laws before 1980. Illinois is the sole holdout.) A federal ban on the possession, transfer, or manufacture of semiautomatic assault weapons, passed in 1994, was allowed to expire in 2004. In 2005, Florida passed the Stand Your Ground law, an extension of the so-called castle doctrine, exonerating from prosecution citizens who use deadly force when confronted by an assailant, even if they could have retreated safely; Stand Your Ground laws expand that protection outside the home to any place that an individual “has a right to be.” Twenty-four states have passed similar laws.

I hadn’t realized that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin just one day before the school shootings at Chardon High School near Cleveland, Ohio. Isn’t it amazing that we heard all about that shooting right away and it was old news by the time the corporate media began reporting on Trayvon’s death?

Tuesday was the fifth anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, and it seems America has changed very little, probably largely because of NRA lobbying as well as ALEC’s “model legislation” writing services.

Of course no one could help hearing about the crude and tasteless behavior on display at the NRA convention last weekend. Executive VP Wayne LaPierre even had the gall to complain about media coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting. At HuffPo, Dean Obeidallah asks why.

Did Mr. LaPierre offer any sympathy to Trayvon Martin’s family? No.

Instead, he chose to denounce the media for their coverage of the case, alleging that the media’s: “… dishonesty, duplicity, and moral irresponsibility is directly contributing to the collapse of American freedom in our country.”

What makes Mr. La Pierre’s comments especially callous is that they were made at the annual NRA convention which was being held this weekend in St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis has the unenviable distinction of being the city with the second highest rate in the country for youth being killed by guns. Indeed, the gunshot murder rate for 10 to 19 years old in St. Louis is more than three times the average for larger cities according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yesterday the LA Times published photos of American troops in Afghanistan posing with body parts of dead suicide bombers.

Two photos of incidents from a 2010 deployment were published Wednesday by the Los Angeles Times. In one, the hand of a corpse is propped on the shoulder of a paratrooper. In another, the disembodied legs of a suicide bomber are displayed by grinning soldiers and Afghan police.

These are the “hero” troops that we are constantly told we have to support and be grateful to. Have these young people been warped by America’s immoral wars? Or are they products of America’s vicious gun culture? I don’t know the answer, just asking.

American officials weren’t happy with the LA Times for publishing the photos and tried to stop them from doing it. Although the Obama administration and military leaders fell over themselves condemning the actions of these troops,

At the same time, Pentagon and White House officials expressed disappointment that the photos had been made public. The Pentagon had asked The Times not to publish the photos, citing fears that they would trigger a backlash against U.S. forces.

Speaking to reporters during a meeting of NATO allies in Brussels, Panetta said:

“This is war. And I know that war is ugly and violent. And I know that young people sometimes caught up in the moment make some very foolish decisions. I am not excusing that behavior. But neither do I want these images to bring further injury to our people or to our relationship with the Afghan people.”

Tough shit. Haven’t we seen enough war crimes by now? This war and the war in Iraq are just plain evil. Get these kids out of Afghanistan, and let’s hope we can prevent a majority of them from acting out violently or joining the growing number of military suicides when they get back home.

Mother Jones reports that ALEC is begging right wing bloggers to rescue them from mean old Common Cause, Color of Change, and other liberal groups who have been convincing ALEC’s donors to withdraw their support.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, the once-obscure organization that pairs corporations with state lawmakers to draft pro-business and often anti-union legislation for the state level, is in damage control mode. Corporate members such as McDonald’s, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Mars, Inc. have cut ties with ALEC after taking heat from a coalition of progressive groups angry over ALEC’s “discriminatory” voter ID bills and controversial “Stand Your Ground” self-defense legislation that figures into the Trayvon Martin shooting in central Florida.

To push back, ALEC has turned to the conservative blogosphere for help. As PR Watch reported, Caitlyn Korb, ALEC’s director of external relations, told attendees at a Heritage Foundation “Bloggers Briefing” on Tuesday that the campaign against ALEC was “part of a wider effort to shut all of us down.” She asked the bloggers for “any and all institutional support” in ALEC’s fight against progressive groups, especially when it came to social media. “We’re getting absolutely killed in social media venues—Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest,” she said. “Any and all new media support you guys can provide would be so helpful, not just to us but to average people who don’t know much about this fight but are seeing us really get heavily attacked with very little opposition.”

Korb educated the bloggers with a handout listing ALEC’s positions on a range of issues. PR Watch, one of ALEC’s loudest critics, described the handout as “riddled with errors.”

Check out the list at the above link.

Joshua Holland has an excellent piece at Alternet: Freedom from a Dead-End Life: True Liberty Means Defeating the Right-Wing’s Nightmare Vision for America.

Last week, Mitt Romney summed up the Right’s rhetorical fluff as well as anyone when he told the National Rifle Association that “freedom is the victim of unbounded government appetite.” It was an unremarkable comment, so accustomed are we to hearing the Right – a movement that historically opposed women’s sufferage and black civil rights and still seeks to quash workers’ right to organize and gay and lesbian Americans’ right to marry– claim to be defenders of our liberties….

Dig a little deeper, and it becomes clear that “freedom” for the Right offers most of us anything but. It’s the freedom for companies to screw their workers, pollute, and otherwise operate free of any meaningful regulations to protect the public interest. It’s about the wealthiest among us being free from the burden of paying a fair share of the taxes that help finance a smoothly functioning society.

The flip side is that programs that assure working Americans a decent existence are painted as a form of tyranny approaching fascism. The reality is that they impinge only on our God-given right to live without a secure social safety net. It’s the freedom to go bankrupt if you can’t afford to treat an illness; the liberty to spend your golden years eating cat food if you couldn’t sock away enough for a decent retirement.

It’s another long read, but well worth the time.

At FDL, Kevin Gosztola writes about yesterday’s unanimous SCOTUS that multinational corporations can’t be sued for torturing and/or killing people.

The US Supreme Court unanimously decided that foreign political organizations and multinational corporations cannot be sued for the torture or extrajudicial killing of persons abroad under an anti-torture law passed in 1992. The law only gives people the right to sue “an individual,” “who acted under the authority of a foreign nation,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

The decision came in a lawsuit filed by the family of a US citizen, Azzam Rahim, who was tortured and killed in the Palestinian Territory by Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) intelligence officers. It was Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who President Barack Obama appointed to the Supreme Court, that spoke for the decision. She explained the text of the Torture Victims Protection Act of 1991 “convinces us that Congress did not extend liability to organizations, sovereign or not. There are no doubt valid arguments for such an extension. But Congress has seen fit to proceed in more modest steps in the Act, and it is not the province of this branch to do otherwise.”

Apparently, corporations are only “people” for purposes of corrupting electoral politics, but when they commit crimes they are no longer considered “individuals.” Gosztola also calls attention to the fact that Chief Justice Roberts actually laughed at the arguments of the Rahim family’s attorney Jeffrey Fisher.

Mr. Fisher did what he could with what the justices seemed to think was an exceptionally weak hand.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. summarized Mr. Fisher’s position: “You are saying, ‘Well, we want a term that is going to include individual persons and organizations but not state organizations.’ And the only term that fits perfectly is ‘individual.’ ”

“Exactly,” Mr. Fisher said. “That’s our argument.”

Chief Justice Roberts was incredulous. “Really?” he asked, to laughter in the courtroom, which the chief justice joined.

Finally, Dakinikat sent me this from The New York Times: Vatican orders crackdown on American nuns

The Vatican has launched a crackdown on the umbrella group that represents most of America’s 55,000 Catholic nuns, saying that the group was not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion and women’s ordination.

Rome also chided the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) for sponsoring conferences that featured “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

Those are my recommendations for today. What are you reading and blogging about?


Wednesday Reads: Requiem for a Heavyweight

Good Morning…

Well, as I write today’s post, we are waiting for some key election results.  So I’ll be sure to update the post with current links in the comments.

Cain had his “presser” yesterday, and what can be said about his performance…Learning from @RepWeiner: the Unfortunate Herman Cain Press Conference – James Fallows – Politics – The Atlantic

There is only one standard by which a mid-scandal press conference succeeds or fails.  That is whether reporters (plus political opponents) leave the conference with more leads, loose ends, and unanswered questions than they had when they walked in, or fewer.

Well according to Fallows, Cain blew it…he even has a list of things that Cain said which left us with more questions…and in my case, more head shaking disbelief that Cain is still around to give these non-answer responses.

- What is this “Democrat machine” that Cain says was orchestrating the attack on him?

- Why would a “Democrat machine” be working against him now, given that (as James Carville, Donna Brazile, and others instantly pointed out) Cain would be the Democrats’ dream GOP nominee? Why wouldn’t Democrats save their ammo for the general election campaign?

- How can Cain say, flat out, that he saw Sharon Bialek “for the first time” at her press conference yesterday, if a photo apparently exists of him seeing her at a Tea Party rally recently?

- If he’s willing to take a lie detector test in “proper” circumstances, what would those be?

- If the NRA harassment claim(s) was/were determined to be “baseless,” who made that determination?

- If they were baseless, why did the NRA pay out so much money?

- If his wife said that the accusations from Ms. Bialek “didn’t sound like something he would do,” what would be his style?

- When he said that “there will probably be others,” what does he mean, and why?

- When he said so often that he could not “remember” anything untoward happening, was he indicating a difference between “I don’t remember doing X” and “I never did X”?

- If this was his chance to get everything out in the open once and for all, why did he cut off questions when reporters still had things to ask?

- And while we’re at it, why does Herman Cain keep referring himself in the third person, as in “Herman Cain would never do such a thing”?

Just one thing to say about that last one:

Jimmy’s Down!

Hands off Jimmy!

Don’t touch Jimmy!

I just can’t understand how people actually believe Cain’s B.S. (Some interesting poll results at that link…)

This post from Jezebel on November 7th, caught my eye tonight…probably because I just love the title!  Politicians Have Always Loved To Shit On Planned Parenthood

Mississippi voters will weigh in on Initiative 26, otherwise known as the Personhood Amendment, otherwise known as the Most Ill Thought Out Piece Of Terrible Legislation Of All Time, 2011 Entrant. Colorado, Ohio, and Florida are also trying their hands at a game of Uterine Roulette with severely abortion-restricting legislation of their own. While it may seem like the current assault on women’s health and reproductive services is unprecedented, a new profile of Planned Parenthood reveals that women’s health and access to birth control has always been used as a political punching bag.

A piece in this week’s issue of The New Yorker (full text available to subscribers) outlines the history of Planned Parenthood in the US and showcases how, when it comes to birth control and lawmakers’ opinions on whether or not we should have it, it’s always something.

There has always been adversity for women’s rights…and it is just getting worse.

This next news link from the Guardian is very encouraging…Catholic church can be held responsible for wrongdoing by priests | World news | guardian.co.uk

Victims of clerical sexual abuse will find it easier to bring compensation claims against the Catholic church after a judge ruled it can be held responsible for the wrongdoings of its priests.

In a test case heard at the high court, Mr Justice Macduff gave a decision in favour of a woman, known as JGE, who claims she was sexually assaulted by a Portsmouth priest at a children‘s home in Hampshire.

The judge said although there had been no formal contract between the church and the priest, the late Father Baldwin, there were “crucial features” that should be recognised.

He said: “He [Baldwin] was provided with the premises, the pulpit and the clerical robes. He was directed into the community with that full authority and was given free rein to act as a representative of the church. He had been trained and ordained for the purpose. He had immense power handed to him by the defendants [the trustees of the Roman Catholic diocesan trust]. It was they who appointed him to the position of trust, which (if the allegations be proved) he so abused.”

It is the first time a court has ruled that the relationship between a Catholic priest and his bishop is akin to an employment relationship. It sets a precedent for similar cases, by providing further guidance for such trials in the future, while also putting the church in uncharted territory. The church has been granted extended leave to appeal the decision.

A few days ago, the boxing world lost one of its legends…Smokin’ Joe Frazier.

Rest in Peace, Joe Frazier — The Sports Section

Joe Frazier, diagnosed with liver cancer just months ago, passed away in hospice care late last night. The boxing great, who was 67, leaves behind him a brilliant, bruising heavyweight career, much of which was made right here in New York. Frazier’s first major professional challenge (after cruising through his first year) took place in 1966 at Madison Square Garden, with the ruthless Argentinean Oscar Bonavena taking him ten rounds (video of which can be seen here). All told, Frazier went 10-1 at MSG, including a knockout of George Chuvalo in a 1967 and his legendary knockout of Jimmy Ellis in 1970, which made him Heavyweight Champion in Muhammad Ali’s absence from the sport. Of course, Ali would eventually return to the ring, and the two would engage in one of the more vicious athletic rivalries in history.

There are some wonderful photos in this picture gallery: Joe Frazier’s life – in pictures | Sport | guardian.co.uk

Joe Frazier poses in February 1968 during a workout for his title bout against Buster Mathis at the new Madison Square Garden

So what are you reading about today?