Thursday Reads

Good Morning!! There’s quite a lot of news happening, so I probably won’t be able to cover everything. I’m hoping you can help me out in the comments. Anyway, here are some stories that caught my eye.

The Guardian UK: 2 US airmen killed in Frankfurt airport shooting

Two U.S. airmen were killed and two others were wounded at Frankfurt airport when a man opened fire on them at close range with a handgun, the first such attack on American forces in Germany in a quarter century.

[….]

The alleged assailant, identified as a 21-year-old Kosovo man, was taken immediately into custody and was being questioned by authorities, said Frankfurt police spokesman Manfred Fuellhardt.

Family members in Kosovo described the suspect as a devout Muslim, who was born and raised in Germany and worked at the airport.

The attacker got into an argument with airmen outside their military bus before opening fire, killing the bus driver and one other serviceman, and wounding two others, one of whom was in life-threatening condition, Fuellhardt said. He said the attacker also briefly entered the bus.

The suspect has been identified as “Arif Uka, a Kosovo citizen from the northern town of Mitrovica.” There is quite a bit more information about him at the Guardian link. The victims had not yet been identified when I wrote this.

I’m sure you heard that yesterday the Supreme Court decided that the Wesboro Baptist Church is within their First Amendment Rights when they protest homosexuality at servicemen’s funerals. However, there are some limits on the decision, according to USA Today.

The court majority made plain that states may regulate funeral protests in some situations. Roberts observed that since the 2006 Snyder funeral, the Maryland Legislature has enacted a law prohibiting picketing within 100 feet of a funeral. Roberts also noted that Westboro’s picketing would have complied with that restriction.

The chief justice said demonstrations may be regulated as long as laws are neutral — that is, not aimed at any particular views — and narrowly crafted.

In recent years, Congress and 46 states have enacted laws to minimize picketing near cemeteries during a funeral, according to a brief filed at the court by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and 40 other senators who sided with Snyder. They said state personal-injury laws, such as the Maryland one Snyder invoked to sue Phelps, supplement government picketing restrictions.

From the news reports, it sounds like the protests in Libya are starting to turn into a full-fledged war. Late last night Voice of America reported serious “clashes” in eastern Libya:

The fighting included ground clashes and airstrikes by Libyan military planes.

Witnesses said pro-Gadhafi forces stormed into the town of Brega on the Gulf of Sirte and briefly seized its oil installations and an airstrip. Opposition fighters say they recaptured both sites. Later, Western media reported loud booms that they linked to at least two bombings from Libyan aircraft.

Witnesses say military forces carried out an airstrike in the nearby town of Ajdabiya. Both towns are on the western edge of the region of eastern Libya that is now largely under opposition control.

Gadhafi is still delusional:

The fighting occurred on the same day that Gadhafi delivered a televised speech to supporters in Tripoli. He said he could not resign because he holds no political office in a system that he said puts all power in the hands of the people.

There is a lot of pressure on President Obama to do something other than mumble meaningless cliches. At CNN, they seem to be rooting for military intervention (h/t Minkoff Minx). I’m sure CNN has visions of improving their ratings by presenting lots of carnage live and in color, like they did during the two Iraq wars. But Secretary of Defense Gates is doing his best to stifle such talk.

With rebels in Libya calling for Western airstrikes on forces supporting Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates warned Congress on Wednesday that even a more modest effort to establish a no-flight zone over Libya would have to begin with an attack on the country’s air defenses and would require “a big operation in a big country.”

Mr. Gates’s caution illustrates the chasm between what the rebels and some leading members of Congress are calling for and what President Obama appears willing to do in Libya. Mr. Obama and his aides have argued that it is not yet clear that the insurgents need the help — and they have warned that the use of American airpower could fuel the arguments of those in the Middle East who see a Washington conspiracy behind homegrown uprisings.

But others disagree.

…even some members of the president’s own party sounded unconvinced on Wednesday. Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who is the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and one of the president’s chief foreign policy allies in Congress, argued that “a no-fly zone is not a long-term proposition” and warned that other nations and NATO should not be “on the sidelines” as Colonel Qaddafi’s jets begin to attack the antigovernment insurgents.

“We ought to be considering a wide range of responses, and a no-fly zone ought to be an option,” Mr. Kerry said late Wednesday. “We have a number of tools, and we should not remove any of them from the table.”

Of course no one is screaming about the deficit now or about how much all this military action would cost–that only happens when there is talk of helping pregnant women, children, the elderly, and other powerless groups.

Here’s an article by a law professor that explains the legal implications of the U.S. getting involved in military action in Libya.

It’s possible the situation in Wisconsin could continue for months with ongoing protests and the Democratic State Senators remaining in exile. This is what happens when you elect a governor who doesn’t believe in compromise and simply wants to behave like a tyrant.

The governor isn’t budging. AWOL Democrats aren’t planning to come back. And, despite talk of deadlines and threats of mass layoffs, the state doesn’t really have to pass a budget to pay its bills until at least May. Even then, there may be other options that could extend the standoff for months.

“This is a battle to the death,” said Mordecai Lee, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “Unless one party can come up with a compromise that the other party will buy, which I doubt, this really could go on indefinitely. I could see this going on until the summer.”

We have a union contract dispute going on here in the Boston area with a lot of parallels to the one in Wisconsin. The local PBS/NPR station, WGBH, which produces much of the best content for public TV stations around the country, is playing hardball with their unionized employees, who have been working without a contract since October.

Managers of the giant Boston-based public broadcast operation and officials of the Association of Employees of the Educational Foundation, Communications Workers of America, Local 1300, have been seeking a new three-year contract to replace an agreement that expired at the end of October.

WGBH employs 850 people; Local 1300 represents 280 writers, editors, production workers, and marketing employees who enjoy using automated out reach software like Apollo.

Management has been seeking concessions that include cutting in half the company’s match for employee retirement plans and is demanding authority to redefine job descriptions. That would allow WGBH to assign employees to work across various media platforms, including TV, radio, and the Web.

Union officials said they are willing to make some concessions to preserve jobs and WGBH’s financial health, including cuts in company contributions to retirement plans. But they are not willing to go along with such provisions as allowing WGBH to outsource work without negotiations, or to terminate on-air talent without cause. Union officials said they do not want WGBH to be able to assign members to perform work outside their job description.

“If they retain the ability to outsource anything and everything, it would tend to make moot all the gains we made in other areas of the contract,’’ said Jordan Weinstein, president of the AEEF/CWA, Local 1300, and local host of public radio’s “All Things Considered,’’ the weekday news program. “This is not the warm and friendly way to deal with your employees.’’

That’s all I’ve got for now. What are you reading and blogging about today?

 

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47 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. paper doll says:

    For a long time every week and now every day I’m reminded by what Hillary said during the campaign in 08

    ” if they things we have been discussing are not put into place …you will not recognize this country”

    She knew what was coming down the pike and did all she could to head it off at the pass. But it was the three Clintons angist the global Upper Crust and the UC won that round.

    She knew what was coming and at the time I was amazed at how populous her message was and it got more so as time went on…all the good stuff she was speaking about was never going to happen that sweepingly…at times I felt she was saying this stuff so at least the memory of it would not be lost.

    Just one example : Hillary spoke of a time where collage loans were 2-3% and not today’s 30% and more. I say a society that has 2% collage loans believes in itself and its future and society that has 30% loans , does not.

    Its “leaders” are cashing in and feeding off its young…that is but one example…there are so many

    and Walker must go! For a general strike in Wisconsin!

    http://tinyurl.com/4ks8wny

    ….The oft-repeated position of union officials—that they are prepared to accept Walker’s budget cuts if only he steps back from his demand for an end to collective bargaining—is not only cowardly, it represents a dangerous evasion of the political reality that exists in Wisconsin.
    The term “collective bargaining” means nothing at all if unions are prepared to accept the dictates of state governments, which are acting in the interests of the capitalist bosses of the banks and industry. Collective bargaining did not emerge in the form of a permission slip granted by generous corporations to the workers. It was wrested from the capitalist class in the course of decades of bitter conflict for social and democratic rights, in which countless thousands of workers’ lives were lost. In the final analysis, collective bargaining existed only to the extent that workers were prepared to exercise the weapon of the strike to overcome the intransigence of the capitalist class and its political hirelings in local, state and federal government…….

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    My one hope is that the GOP and its radical agenda may have just gone too far for the tastes of the American public. When introducing the insanity of having a fetus address congress how much more proof do we need?

    Almost like having Charlie Sheen begin to make sense with his rantings when compared to this newest brand of “craziness” that is being trotted out as something worthy of discussion.

    As for the Westboro Baptist Church, denying them tax exemptions might be a start in drowning out the voices of the truly insane. They may reserve their right to scream obsenities under the First Amendment but we should not have to pay to listen to them.

    • paper doll says:

      I’d like to see religious tax exemptions done away with frankly….they are ridiculous in a society where, supposedly, church and state are seperate. I think it’s totally fair if the actual church building was tax free…but not church holdings like shopping malls WTF? And lord ( no pun intended) do they get to write off church “business” as well? Are these folks able to submit & write off their traveling expenses to the funerals as church ” business”?

      It’s a racket. End it.

      As it’s been said, if they were protesting a corporation…a way would be found to stop them…but since it’s just grieving families…it’s Katie bar the door

  3. Beata says:

    I know we have an abundance of “Bright Girls” here, so perhaps you will find this article as thought-provoking as I did. I saw myself in it.

    “The Trouble with Bright Girls”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heidi-grant-halvorson-phd/girls-confidence_b_828418.html

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    To think that some may find the answer to the future in this moron:

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/03/02/109713/michele-bachmann-wants-gop-to.html#

    • Peggy Sue says:

      But Pat, we now know that Michelle Bachmann is ‘Palin with a brain,’ or so says the SC politicos who are cooling to the Palin magic [whatever that might be]. Even in this article Michelle is described as “polished . . . sophisticated. Not the right-wing crazy I thought her to be.”

      Clearly, we need a redefinition of ‘right-wing crazy.’ You know things have gone off the rails when people are touting such nonsense, declaring Bachmann [herself included] a reasonable candidate for the WH.

      The Republican party is on a path of self-destruction. And they seem quite willing to take everyone down with them.

      The craziness just never ends!

  5. bostonboomer says:

    As an optional part of a Human Sexuality class at Northwestern U., a 25-year-old naked woman was penetrated and brought to orgasm with a sex toy.

    http://www.suntimes.com/4099633-417/northwestern-university-defends-after-class-live-sex-demonstration.html

    This was part of a discussion of BDSM sexuality.

    I’m not sure how I feel about this…

    • Beata says:

      I’m speechless…

      • Pat Johnson says:

        I’m with you. And the purpose of this piece of voyeurism is considered “academic”?

        Wow!

    • Branjor says:

      Live porn for men.

    • paper doll says:

      This is gang rage with out the “courage ” of its convictions. A sex toy? ……and that is diffrent from a broom handle…how?

      Let’s call it consensual gang rage

      How is this diffrent from the 20 people who watched a girl be gang raped at a prom? It’s wrose. Because it’s ” sanctioned” in a classroom

      HELP !!

    • mablue2 says:

      Whah the hell kind?

      Has the world gone completely mad? Actually that was a rhetorical question. Just check the following story:

      Karen Owen’s Duke University PowerPoint ‘Sex List’ Makes Us Sad

      A Duke alum named Karen Owen created a 41-page PowerPoint “Senior Honors Thesis” called An Education Beyond the Classroom: Excelling in the Realm of Horizontal Academics, describing 13 men she slept with during her years at the university (including full names, and images), and it has now gone viral.

    • Beata says:

      BB, do you think the professor violated the American Psychological Association’s Code of Ethics in this class situation?

      http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx

      • Beata says:

        I am referring to the class at Northwestern.

      • bostonboomer says:

        He violated something, that’s for sure. It will be interesting to see the response from Northwestern once they begin hearing from parents and community members. It was an optional after-class thing, but I still think it was completely inappropriate.

        Plus, if you read the story, you’ll see that woman say she has a fetish about being watched while having sex, so she basically manipulated this thing into happening. She is the one who suggested it to the prof. and he said OK. Big mistake, IMO.

        I’d be a lot more worried about the University’s moral clause than the APA if I were him.

      • Beata says:

        From the article:

        “Northwestern University faculty members engage in teaching and research on a wide variety of topics, some of them controversial and at the leading edge of their respective disciplines,” said Alan K. Cubbage, vice president for University Relations. “The University supports the efforts of its faculty to further the advancement of knowledge.”

        Yes, it will be interesting to see if NU continues to support this “advancement of knowledge” after hearing from parents and alums.

    • Peggy Sue says:

      Wow! If my kids were still in college, this would “not” make my day. Sorry, but this is both ludicrous and disgusting. A live sex show is porn, period. You want to learn about orgasim? Find a partner and have one in private.

      No wonder we’re in trouble. Where was the sane adult to query with: are we sure this is appropriate? Or don’t we ask those questions anymore.

      Oy!

  6. Pilgrim says:

    My opinion about Westboro Baptist demonstrations:

    In a more civilized country, they would be prosecuted for hate speech.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Yes, and in a more civilized country women would not be subjected to this kind of cruelty:

      Bill says no abortion if there’s a heartbeat | The Columbus Dispatch

      Ohio is the first state in which legislation has been introduced to outlaw abortions after the first heartbeat can be medically detected.

      The bill – among five anti-abortion bills introduced since Republicans took control of the General Assembly and governor’s office this year – would require doctors to perform an ultrasound and, if a heartbeat can be heard, an abortion would be prohibited unless the health or life of the mother is at risk.

  7. Branjor says:

    About Westboro – it wouldn’t be legal to picket a funeral because of the race or ethnic group of the deceased, so why should it be for sexual orientation? The Supreme Court was seriously wrong there.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The deceased usually isn’t gay though, so who is the hate crime against?

      Weren’t there demonstrations against the Mosque in NYC? What about the Nazis in Skokie. There have been KKK parades. It’s freedom of speech.

      • Branjor says:

        I don’t agree. The deceased is sometimes gay, e.g. Matthew Shepard. While the KKK may have had parades and the nazis may have marched in Skokie, did they ever picket black or Jewish funerals? Funeral picketing violates the rights of families and friends to grieve in peace and should be off limits IMO. If I recall correctly the Arizona legislature passed a law prohibiting Westboro from picketing the funerals of the victims of the recent massacre there. Why should those funerals be protected and not others? Picketing funerals seems to me to go beyond free speech into the realm of harm to others, in this case mourners.
        I also think that having parades and demonstrations against abortion may be within the free speech rights of the antichoicers, but picketing abortion clinics and yelling at patients as they go inside should be off limits. This is because it is stressful to patients about to undergo medical procedures and staff about to perform them and may lead to adverse outcomes. It’s as bad as picketing a hospital and yelling at patients about to go in to have open heart surgery.

  8. Minkoff Minx says:

    Hey, is anyone having problems with the wordpress.com site? It is loading extremely slow, if it loads at all. I have checked other browsers and the same thing. All the other places on the web are working fine. Is it just me or are any of you having these load issues? Thanks.

    • Pilgrim says:

      yes, I’ve been having that prob

    • Delphyne says:

      All morning, Minx – maddening!

    • Beata says:

      Yes. I thought it was my computer.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Oh, it has been maddening! Ever since early this morning! At least you got a message from WP Pilgrim. Hopefully it gets sorted out soon. Anyway, at least we know they are working on it!

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        WordPress is under a hacker attack. h/t wonk. If you are having problems, or see that we are having problems posting anything, this is why!

        WordPress.com Suffers “Extremely Large” DDoS Attack

        You have no idea how hard it was to get this post up, as WordPress.com, our blog host, is currently under a denial of service attack. It’s been almost impossible to access our backend for the past 10 minutes and users are receiving a “Writes to the service have been disabled, we will be bringing everything back online ASAP” error message.

        From their blog post, which also seems to be down:

        WordPress.com is currently being targeted by a extremely large Distributed Denial of Service attack which is affecting connectivity in some cases. The size of the attack is multiple Gigabits per second and tens of millions of packets per second.

        We are working to mitigate the attack, but because of the extreme size, it is proving rather difficult. At this time, everything should be back to normal as the attack has subsided, but we are actively working with our upstream providers on measures to prevent such attacks from affecting connectivity going forward.

        We will be making our VIP sites a priority in this endeavor, and as always, you can contact us via vip-support@wordpress.com for the latest update. We will also update this post with more information as it becomes available

    • Peggy Sue says:

      Ditto!

  9. Nijma says:

    I just finished Harry Gregory’s biography Khadafy and it confirms that Qaddafi has resigned as president several times, leaving power in the hands of a select committee that he controls. The peoples’ committees are also fact, although they are stacked with Qaddafi loyalists. The first thing the opposition did when they took over Benghazi was to reorganize the people’s committees, which are now happily overseeing relief efforts. Qaddafi seems to have painted himself into a corner with his repeated resignations.

  10. If you’ve been having trouble with wordpress (which we all have!), it’s because wordpress.com had a sitewide hacker attack:

    http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/03/wordpress-com-suffers-major-ddos-attack/

    WordPress.com Suffers “Extremely Large” DDoS Attack

    Alexia Tsotsis
    7 minutes ago

    You have no idea how hard it was to get this post up, as WordPress.com, our blog host, is currently under a denial of service attack. It’s been almost impossible to access the TechCrunch backend for the past 10 minutes and users are receiving a “Writes to the service have been disabled, we will be bringing everything back online ASAP” error message.

    From their blog post, which also seems to be down:

    WordPress.com is currently being targeted by a extremely large Distributed Denial of Service attack which is affecting connectivity in some cases. The size of the attack is multiple Gigabits per second and tens of millions of packets per second.

    We are working to mitigate the attack, but because of the extreme size, it is proving rather difficult. At this time, everything should be back to normal as the attack has subsided, but we are actively working with our upstream providers on measures to prevent such attacks from affecting connectivity going forward.

    We will be making our VIP sites a priority in this endeavor, and as always, you can contact us via vip-support@wordpress.com for the latest update. We will also update this post with more information as it becomes available

    Updating

    • Things should be getting back to normal now. We’ll see how this goes. I’m not having any problems anymore so far.

    • Here’s an update from Techcrunch:

      WordPress did not mention the origin of the attack (DDoS =! Anonymous) and I have contacted founder Matt Mullenweg for more information. WordPress.com currently serves 30 million publishers, including VIPs TED, CBS and TechCrunch, and is responsible for 10% of all websites in the world. WordPress.com itself sees about 300 million unique visits monthly.

      • Another update:

        Update: Founder Matt Mullenweg tells us in an email:

        “There’s an ongoing DDoS attack that was large enough to impact all three of our datacenters in Chicago, San Antonio, and Dallas — it’s currently been neutralized but it’s possible it could flare up again later, which we’re taking proactive steps to implement.

        This is the largest and most sustained attack we’ve seen in our 6 year history. We suspect it may have been politically motivated against one of our non-English blogs but we’re still investigating and have no definitive evidence yet.”

      • Here’s a handy little link for Status updates (h/t techcrunch):

        http://status.automattic.com/

  11. Beata says:

    I can’t access my email account today either. Could it be a related problem?