It has been snowing all day here in Banjoville, no accumulation though. Funny, the way how winter was late this year…only to hang on into spring.
I know Boston Boomer, and the rest of the sky dancers in the Northeast have been getting lots of snow lately. Worcester is nation’s snowiest city – Political Cartoon by Don Landgren Jr., TelegramTowns – 03/25/2013
How is the weather in your neck of the woods?
This is an open thread.
Good Morning! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Everyone! However you choose to celebrate the return of the light, may your days be happy and bright!
We’ve got a tiny bit of snow in the Boston area this morning–not enough for a white Christmas, just a dusting with a few flakes still coming down. I guess the real stormy weather today will be in the South and Southeast. I hope everyone down there stays safe!
To be honest, I’m very glad that I don’t have to go anywhere today and I’m going to spend my day peacefully alone, except for talking to loved ones on the phone. I do have a few suggested reads for you this morning and a couple of videos to watch if you have the time.
Most Americans have grown up with an image of a Jesus savior with white skin and light brown hair. We don’t know for sure if there was a historical Jesus, but if so, he probably had dark skin and hair. From The Final Call: Color struck: America’s White Jesus is a global export and false product, by Wesley Muhammed.
What color was Jesus? Most American Christians—Black and White—would dismiss this question as both irrelevant and unanswerable as the Gospels fail to give us a physical description.
The irony is that most of these same Americans in their heart of hearts are pretty confident any way that they know what color Jesus was. They attend churches with images of a tall, long haired, full bearded White man depicted in stained glass windows or painted on walls, and they return home to the same depictions framed in their living room or illustrating their family Bibles.
Further compounding the irony is the fact that America actually has an obsession with the (presumed) color of Christ and has exported her White Americanized Savior around the world, as recently documented by Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey in their book, The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America (2012).
In fact, the world’s most popular and recognizable image of Christ is a distinctly 19th-20th century American creation. It is true that versions of the “White Christ” appear in European art as early as the 4th century of the Christian era, but these images coexisted with other, nonwhite representations throughout European history. The popularity of the cult of the Black Madonna and Black Christ throughout Europe is evidence of the fact that the European ‘White Christs’ never acquired the authority and authenticity that the White Christ now has globally. This Christ and his authority are American phenomena. As a predominantly Protestant nation Early America rejected the imaging of Christ that characterized European Catholicism.
Much more at the link. And from Alternet, This Christmas, Let’s Remember, Jesus Was A Palestinian, by Gideon Polya.
On Christmas Day this year the World will again celebrate the birth of Jesus but needs to loudly and publicly proclaim the truth that Jesus was a Palestinian. Goodhearted and honest Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Jews, Animists, Agnostics and Atheists would all agree that Jesus was a wonderful humanitarian, and an outstanding moral philosopher.
All of us, from Atheists to Zoroastrians, recognize Jesus as the most renowned Indigenous Palestinian. Today under US-, UK-, Canada- and Australia-backed and racist Zionist-run Apartheid Israel the land of Palestine has been 90% ethnically cleansed of Indigenous Palestinians, 75% of Christian Palestinians have fled the Occupied West Bank, and Palestine, one of the oldest civilizations in the world, is peculiar in being denied de facto statehood and remains violently occupied by a nuclear terrorist, rogue state run by genocidally racist European colonizers.
Palestine is the land west of the Jordan River and derives its name from the Philistine sea people who settled the coastal region in circa 1200 BC and are referred to from that time onwards by the Egyptians and thence by the Assyrians in circa 740BC. Canaanite, the name given to Palestinians in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, refers to people trading in the purple cloth of the great Semitic Phoenician civilization. The great 5th century Greek historian Herodotus (c irca 484 – 425 BC) referred to ”These Phoenicians… now inhabit the sea coast of Syria; that part of Syria and as much of it as reaches Egypt, is all called Palestine”. The Jewish Roman historian connected with the Hasmonean Jewish aristocracy, Josephus (37-circa 100 CE), was involved in the First Jewish Roman War (67-33 CE) but thence rejected rebellion against Rome as inspired by fanatics. Josephus referred to Jews as among the inhabitants of Palestine (see “The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia”, volume 3).
The forebears of the Indigenous Palestinians were the Semitic inhabitants of Palestine and participants in the agrarian revolution in the Fertile Crescent that was one major nucleus of human agrarian civilization.
It’s a long read, but check it out if you have some extra time.
From the Grio: Christmas 2012: The burden of being a black Santa, by Brittany Tom.
Although they’re only employed for about two months of the year, it certainly doesn’t stop these dedicated men to don long white beards and red velvet jumpsuits.
But a few men across the U.S. are attempting to challenge the iconic image of Santa Claus, with the simple phrase: “Why can’t Santa be black?”
Dion “Santa Dee” Sinclair has started an entire business around the image of the African-American Santa Claus. Sinclair along with his two other black Santa Clauses, Santa Bob and Santa Tee, have provided the same Santa magic to children in multicultural communities in Atlanta, Georgia. Sinclair believes it’s important for children, especially minorities, to have a prominent icon they can culturally identify with.
“A black Santa is something that they can associate with. It’s black Santa, and I’m a black person.” Sinclair told theGrio in a phone interview. “[These kids] can associate with having a black Santa or a black angel on the Christmas tree because they’re black. There shouldn’t always be a white angel or a white Santa.”
Having grey hair since he was a child and a”salt and pepper” beard in high school, Sinclair said that becoming the iconic role of Santa Claus was his destiny. Now, this southern Santa has turned his ‘destiny’ into a family-run business hiring everyone in his family from his mother who plays Mrs. Claus to his youngest daughter who stars as Elf Gigi.
At The Daily Beast, James D. Tabor asks, “Should Christians Celebrate the Birth of Jesus or Paul?”
Millions celebrate the birth of Jesus without realizing that it was the Apostle Paul, not Jesus, who was the founder of Christianity. Jesus was a Jew not a Christian. He regularly went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, read from the Torah, observed the Jewish festivals such as Passover and Yom Kippur, and quoted the Shema: “Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is One Lord.” In Jesus’ day the closest holiday to Christmas was the Roman celebration of the Saturnalia.
The Romans crucified Jesus for sedition in the year 30 AD, but his apostles, led by James his brother, continued his movement, believing that Jesus would return from heaven as the triumphant Messiah. They were called Nazarenes and lived as Jews alongside other Jewish sects of the time such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, or Essenes.
Paul never met Jesus. He was not one of the original apostles. He was a zealous Pharisee who initially opposed Jesus’ followers and supported moves to repress them. His opposition to the movement dramatically reversed about seven years after Jesus’ death when he began to experience a series of clairvoyant visions—“revelations of Jesus Christ” he called them. Paul adamantly insisted that the message he preached did not derive from the apostles before him. He refers to James, Peter, and John, as the “so-called pillars of the church,” but quickly adds—“what they are means nothing to me,” insisting on his independence, based on his direct visionary access to Jesus. Over a span of three decades Paul had contact with the apostles in Jerusalem on only two or three visits, during which tensions were high. He operated independently in Asia Minor and Greece, preaching his message to non-Jews.
What Paul preached—his “gospel” as he called it—forms the basis of Christianity today. Paul taught that Christ was the divine Son of God who became incarnate, “born of a woman,” as he puts it. Jesus lived a sinless life and died as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. He was raised from the dead and exalted to the right hand of God in heaven, soon to return to judge the world. Those who accept Christ and his offer of salvation by faith will be saved, and those who reject it will be condemned. The reason this message sounds so familiar, so “Christian,” is that this gospel Paul preached became the basis of the major Christian creeds—from the early Apostles creed to the Nicean creed in the time of the emperor Constantine.
Whether or not there was a historical Jesus, everything we know about him is based on folklore. A few years ago I watched a fascinating documentary called The God Who Wasn’t There. It’s all about the history of Christianity. I watched it again last night on Youtube and found it just as compelling as my first viewing. It’s about an hour long and well worth the time if you’re interested in religious history. I can’t get it to embed, but you can watch it here.
At the Atlantic, Megan Garber offers Wrappers’ Delight: A Brief History of Wrapping Paper
There will likely come a day, sometime in the not-too-distant future, when we look back on wrapping paper with the kind of retrospective condescension we reserve for the most naive elements of our history. Wasting precious paper — killing trees — for decoration! Spending money on a total frivolity! How ridiculous people were back then!
And it is true: The money we spend on it notwithstanding — $2.6 billion annually, per one estimate — there is something quite trivial about wrapping paper. As much as half of the 85 million tons of paper products Americans consume each year, apparently, goes toward packaging, wrapping, and decorating objects — and wrapping paper and shopping bags on their own account for about 4 million tons of the trash we create annually in the U.S. In Britain, per one estimate, people throw away 226,800 miles of wrapping paper over the holidays alone — enough to stretch nine times around the world….
But where did the wrapping tradition come from? Why do we, each time we give a gift, ritually wrap that offering in decorative tree pulp? The short answer is that wrapping, as a practice, has been around for ages — literally, ages. The Japanese furoshiki, the reusable wrapping cloth still in use today, is a pretty faithful rendition of the version that’s been around since the Edo period. The Korean bojagi dates from the Three Kingdoms Period, possibly as early as the first century A.D. In the west, using paper as a covering for gifts has been a longstanding, if largely luxury-oriented, practice: Upper-class Victorians regularly used elaborately decorated paper — along with ribbons and lace — to conceal gifts. In the early 20th century, thick, unwieldy paper gave way to tissue (often colored in red, green, and white) that would similarly work to conceal offerings until they were opened. The practice was echoed in a slightly more practical form by stores, which would wrap customers’ purchases in sturdy manila papers.
Learn more at the link.
I’ll end with the Obamas’ Christmas card, posted on the White House website, and a video of the First Lady reading The Night Before Christmas as Bo steals the show.
Have a wonderful day Sky Dancers!! And if you have the time to drop by, please share a link or two with us.
Now that Congressional Republicans have successfully shot down President Obama’s rumored first choice for Secretary of State–Susan Rice–they are working on nixing the president’s possible pick for Secretary of Defense, Republican Chuck Hagel. Aaron Blake at The Fix:
Former senator Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) potential/likely nomination as Secretary of Defense looms this week amid a growing chorus of criticism over his past comments about Israel and his policy positions on issues including the defense budget.
It seems some are bent on defeating Hagel’s nomination before it can even become official — much as Republican senators did with potential Secretary of State pick Susan Rice just last week. In fact, the same GOP senators who scuttled the Rice pick are now expressing doubts about Hagel.
A battle over Hagel would be highly unusual — both because we just had one over Rice and because both senators nominated to Cabinet posts and Secretary of Defense nominees generally sail to confirmation.
Obama should have stuck with Rice and fought it out. Senate Republicans smell blood now. The only reason John Kerry may be approved for State is that Republicans fantasize that Massachusetts voters will repeat their past mistake of electing Scott Brown to fill an open Senate seat. This president is the worst negotiator ever. He really needs to get someone else to make deals for him. He just can’t accept the reality that Republicans hate his guts and will never give him a break, ever.
Meanwhile Rep. Darrell Issa must be drooling over the “scathing report” on the Benghazi attacks
Four State Department officials were removed from their posts on Wednesday after an independent panel criticized the “grossly inadequate” security at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi that was attacked on Sept. 11, leading to the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, resigned. Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security, and another official in the diplomatic security office whom officials would not identify were relieved of their duties. So was Raymond Maxwell, a deputy assistant secretary who had responsibility for the North Africa region. The four officials, a State Department spokeswoman said, “have been placed on administrative leave pending further action.”
The report by the independent panel has criticized officials in State’s bureau for Diplomatic Security displaying a “lack of proactive leadership.” It also said that some in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs “showed a lack of ownership of Benghazi’s security issues.”
The report did not criticize more senior officials, including Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary for management, who has vigorously defended the State Department’s decision-making on Benghazi to the Congress and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
At a news conference at the State Department on Wednesday, Thomas R. Pickering, a former ambassador who led the independent review, said that most of the blame should fall on officials in the two bureaus.
But that isn’t going to stop Republicans from trying to hang the blame around Hillary Clinton’s neck.
Sen. Bob Corker, R- Tenn., slated to be the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee in 2013, told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell Wednesday that Clinton “has to come before us. I think it’s imperative.” ‘
Corker and other members of Congress were given a classified briefing on the report and afterwards he insisted that Clinton must testify before she leaves her post and the Senate votes on confirmation of her successor.
The secretary was slated to attend briefings on the Hill this week but has been recovering from the flu and a concussion she suffered in a recent fainting episode.
Of course the right wing conspiracy nuts are accusing Clinton of faking her illness. And in the House:
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the unclassified version of the report “omits important information the public has a right to know. This includes details about the perpetrators of the attack in Libya as well as the less-than-noble reasons contributing to State Department decisions to deny security resources.”
He also said, “In light of the report, I am concerned that the carefully vetted testimony of senior State Department officials at the October hearing was part of an intentional effort to mislead the American people.”
Hey Darrell, have you hot-wired any cars or burned down any businesses lately?
While Pentagon officials struggle to figure out how to protect foreign outposts without using Blackwater-type hired guns, they are dealing with a worldwide Military day care abuse scandal.
The Defense Department has launched a worldwide investigation into hiring practices at military child-care centers after a criminal probe of employees at an Army base near the Pentagon sparked a review that found more than 30 staffers who officials say should have been barred from contact with children.
Two civilian employees at the Child Development Center at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall appeared in federal court Wednesday in Alexandria to face charges of assaulting 2-year-olds in their care.
The president immediately urged a thorough investigation and a “zero tolerance policy when it comes to protecting the children of service members from abuse.”
Two workers at the day-care center at the base known as Fort Myer were recorded by surveillance cameras dragging, pinching, kneeing and taunting toddlers, according to federal court records. The center is the military’s largest day-care center, with more than 400 children ranging from 6 weeks to 12 years old. It is used by Pentagon employees and other service members in the Washington area.
A personnel review at Fort Myer began in the fall after a parent complained about an allegedly abusive caregiver.
The inquiry turned up evidence that at least 31 staffers had potentially disqualifying factors in their records, including history of drug use and past allegations of assault, a U.S. official familiar with the investigation said. The staffers have been suspended.
“This is not just one or two or three people,” the official said Wednesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of an ongoing inquiry. “This is a severe lapse in the background checks system.”
In police state news, two women in Texas are suing the Texas State Police for subjecting them to an “illegal roadside cavity search.”
A federal lawsuit filed by two Irving women claims that Texas State Troopers humiliated them by performing illegal cavity searches on the side of the road after a cigarette butt was thrown out of their car window.
State Trooper David Farrell called in a female trooper to perform cavity searches of Angel Dobbs, 38, and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley Dobbs, because he said that he smelled marijuana and the women were “acting weird,” attorney Scott Palmer told KTVT on Tuesday.
Angel Dobbs recalled that the female trooper, Kelley Helleson, asked for her permission to perform the search and then told her to “shut up and just listen.”
Dashcam video shows Helleson searching the anuses and vaginas of both women with the same latex gloves in full view of other passing cars.
“At this point, I’m in clear shock. I can’t even believe this is happening,” Angel Dobbs explained. Turns me around goes down into the front of my pants into my inner thigh and at which point she goes up with two fingers. I just look at her and say ‘oh my God, I’ve just been violated.’”
And then the trooper performed the same procedure on Ashley Dobbs without changing her gloves.
“She went down, then turned me around, and went down my front and then she actually dug,” Ashley Dobbs said. “I didn’t know what I could say, what I could do. I felt hopeless.”
Is it time for Texas to secede from the union and become part of Mexico (except for Austin, Ralph)? Nah, Mexico probably wouldn’t want to get involved.
The TSA is “Finally Investigating Cancer Risk of X-Ray Body Scanners” now that millions of Americans have been used as guinea pigs in the nation’s airports.
Following months of congressional pressure, the Transportation Security Administration has agreed to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to study the health effects of the agency’s X-ray body scanners. But it is unclear if the academy will conduct its own tests of the scanners or merely review previous studies.
The machines, known as backscatters, were installed in airports nationwide after the failed underwear bombing on Christmas Day 2009 to screen passengers for explosives and other nonmetallic weapons. But they have been criticized by some prominent scientists because they expose the public to a small amount of ionizing radiation, a form of energy that can cause cancer.
The scanners were the subject of a 2011 ProPublica series, which found that the TSA had glossed over the small cancer risk posed by even low doses of radiation. The stories also showed that the United States was almost alone in the world in X-raying passengers and that the Food and Drug Administration had gone against its own advisory panel, which recommended the agency set a federal safety standard for security X-rays.
The TSA maintains that the backscatters are safe and that they emit a low dose of X-rays equivalent to the radiation a passenger would receive in two minutes of flying at typical cruising altitude.
Winter has arrived in the Midwest: Outages in Iowa as season’s first blizzard starts journey in the Plains.
(CNN) — Tens of thousands of people lost power in Iowa on Thursday as the first major storm of the season swept in, bringing blizzards, high winds and severe thunderstorms to the central United States.
The storm prompted the National Weather Service to issue a blizzard warning for a huge swath of the Midwest stretching from eastern Colorado to Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shoreline, including virtually all of Iowa.
The declaration warned of snow accumulations of up to 12 inches, complemented by 25- to 35-mph winds that will occasionally gust to 45 to 50 mph.
The storm will race into western Illinois, the weather service said. Rain will quickly change to snow as the storm advances northeast, with the heaviest snow occurring overnight.
“Snow drifts several feet deep will be possible given the strong winds,” the blizzard warning states.
Wrapping around the blizzard warning on the north, south and east is a winter storm warning, which will be no picnic either. The winds won’t be quite as strong, but residents should expect a strong dose of rain, sleet and snow, with a few hail-packing thunderstorms thrown in for good measure.
Hmmm…what about my neck of the woods?
The “intense cyclone” will crawl across the Great Lakes region Thursday and slog into northern New England by Friday evening, the National Weather Service predicted.
Ugh…just what I needed.
I have three longer reads for you on the possible motivations behind mass shootings. I haven’t read any of these carefully yet, so I’m not sure if I’ll agree with the conclusions.
Scientific American is highlighting an article from 2007: Deadly Dreams: What Motivates School Shootings? The article focuses on the revenge fantasies of young shooters.
A Time article from July (written after the Aurora theater shootings) asks about “The Overwhelming Maleness of Mass Homicide.”
I’ll be reading these articles after I publish this post. Let me know what you think.
Finally, Senators Diane Feinstein and John McCain are “condemning” the new movie about the killing of Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty for falsely suggesting that torture led investigators to bin Laden’s hideout.
Now what are you reading and blogging about today?