Sunday Reads: May Day!Posted: May 1, 2011
Happy May Day! Ah, that first day of the month of May is upon us. So I will begin this Sunday’s post with a few items about the special day.
There are many marches/parades set for today to support workers and immigrants. For a calendar of May Day events: List of Events »
One sign carried in almost every May Day march of the last few years says it all: “We are Workers, not Criminals!” Often it was held in the calloused hands of men and women who looked as though they’d just come from work in a factory, cleaning an office building, or picking grapes.
The sign stated an obvious truth. Millions of people have come to the United States to work, not to break its laws. Some have come with visas, and others without them. But they are all contributors to the society they’ve found here.
This year, those marchers will be joined by the public service workers we saw in the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison, whose message was the same: we all work, we all contribute to our communities and we all have the right to a job, a union and a decent life. Past May Day protests have responded to a wave of draconian proposals to criminalize immigration status, and work itself, for undocumented people. The defenders of these proposals have used a brutal logic: if people cannot legally work, they will leave.
Activists in Downtown Fresno will join others in more than fifty cities across the country this Sunday, marching for immigration reform.
A rallying cry for immigration reform rang out in Downtown Fresno. Members of the May Day committee say a path to obtain citizenship is needed in the Valley, and they are hoping to get a crowd of five thousand people to march in favor of it.
May Day is commonly known as international workers day, but since record breaking crowds marched in cities across the country, including Fresno back in 2006, it’s has come to be known as an immigrant rights movement day. Supporters say the crowds are smaller now but the needs have not gone away.
Now for some items of interest in the good ol’ US of A.
First a bit about a sexist jerk that has a furry rodent for a hairdo. I am always expecting the squirrel that sits atop Trumps head to lift up its tail that covers Trump’s forehead and shoot little squirrel pellets out at the people while Trump spews crap from his own mouth.
Not only are Trump’s comments about “the blacks” getting him called a racist, but some are digging up the sexist remarks he has made through the years as proof that he is a…well, I will leave that word out for now and save it for the comments section:
Fresh off the allegations that Donald Trump’s various “birther” and affirmative action conspiracies about President Obama were racist, now the spotlight is being shone on Trump’s long history of sexist, if not downright sleazy, comments about women.
In a column for the Washington Post, Anna Holmes brings up the “Trump Rule,” as described by beauty queen Carrie Prejean, in her book about the Miss USA pageant. According to Prejean, the Miss USA pageant had a requirement that contestants parade in front of pageant owner Donald Trump so he could separate out those he found sexually appealing from those he did not.
“Many of the girls found this exercise humiliating,” Prejean wrote. “Some of the girls were sobbing backstage after [Trump] left, devastated to have failed even before the competition really began . . . even those of us who were among the chosen couldn’t feel very good about it — it was as though we had been stripped bare.”
This is not the only incident of Trump’s blatant focus on the physical attributes of women over other qualities. Indeed, the list goes on and on. Gail Collins recently wrote a column in which she reminisced about how Trump once sent her a copy of her column with the words “Face of a Dog!” scrawled on top of her picture. Trump was accused of asking the men on “The Apprentice” to rate their female peers, based on appearance. He disparaged actress Angelina Jolie for having too many sexual partners. Perhaps creepiest of all, Trump even once said of his daughter Ivanka Trump, “She does have a very nice figure . . . if [she] weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
Okay, that last bit is disgusting! How can people be serious about this guy. Wake up and see him for all that he is…a pig.
On to some more disgust. This time in the form of a woman governor signing a law to give “fetus” rights…and this is a Democrat Woman Governor mind you. Gov. Perdue Signs Fetus Protection Law – News Story – WSOC Charlotte
Suspects accused of causing a fetus to die or injuring it inside the womb at any stage of development would face separate criminal charges under a law Gov. Beverly Perdue has signed.
The measure Perdue signed on Friday doesn’t apply to legal abortions but does convey legal status upon fetuses unable to survive outside their mother’s womb.
The Democratic governor said twice in a statement that she strongly supports abortion rights, but “I do support punishing any person who would attack or kill a pregnant woman. I sign this bill today to show that support.”
“I have children of my own, and grandchildren,” Perdue said.
“I know the powerful instinct of a mother to protect her children, and I know how I would feel if anyone had harmed my daughters-in-law or me when we were pregnant.”
When the bill takes effect Dec. 1, North Carolina will join 35 other states and the federal government in recognizing an unborn child as an additional victim of crime. Laws in nearly two dozen states say crimes against the fetus can come at any time after conception, like the North Carolina law does.
Republicans have sought the additional protections for several years and took advantage of their majority in both chambers this year to push through the law that supporters say would punish people for harm caused to expectant babies. Opponents said the measure was a gift to conservatives who believe life begins at conception.
Excuse me…but if you support abortion rights, don’t sign a bill that conveys legal status on fetuses that can’t even survive out of the womb. This is just going to give those PLUBs a way to weasel the rights of women out from under them.
Some news on the HCR situation in the courts. Clinton: Supreme Court could rule against healthcare law – The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room
There’s a chance that the Supreme Court could rule the so-called “individual mandate” in the healthcare reform law unconstitutional, but on the whole the bill will stay in tact, former President Bill Clinton said.
“Well, I think – I guess, you know, there’s some chance, given how political it is, the courts, that they would strike down the mandatory purchase, although I find it amazing that they would I mean you can make people buy automobile liability insurance,” Clinton said in an interview with CNN taped Friday. “And the combined impact of the burden of people not being insured on the rest of us economically is nowhere near that of health care.”
Ah, and on the subject of Healthcare…the affordable kind for women, Daniels in Indiana is signing a bill that is cutting of Medicaid for Planned Parenthood. Another nail in the coffin. I would love to kick this little guy in the ass for this one. And yes, if you think that is violent comment towards a politician, so be it. I would be sure to wear pointy shoes so that my foot goes squarely up his…well, you get the picture.
Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana said Friday that he would sign a bill cutting off Medicaid financing for Planned Parenthood, a move that lawmakers in several states have begun pondering as a new approach in the battle over abortion. Indiana becomes the first state to go forward.
Abortion rights supporters condemned the decision, saying it would leave 22,000 poor residents of Indiana, who use Planned Parenthood’s 28 health facilities in the state, with nowhere to go for a range of women’s services, from breast cancer screening to birth control. Planned Parenthood of Indiana said it would file an injunction to block the measure from taking effect.
Let’s see if the recent lifting of stem cell research ban will have a good outcome, or will laws like that one giving “conceived” fetuses rights come in conflict with harvesting stem cells. (I would not put it past the PLUBs to start some campaign against this Court’s decision.)
A US federal appeals court has ruled that government funding for embryonic stem cell research can go ahead, handing a major victory to President Barack Obama’s administration.
Friday’s ruling reverses a previous decision that said the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines was in violation of a 1996 law that prohibits the use of taxpayer’s money to pay for research that destroys human embryos.
Opponents of human embryonic stem cell research, including many religious groups, find such research unacceptable – tantamount to abortion – because human embryos must be destroyed to obtain the stem cells.
Stem cells come from days-old human embryos and can produce any type of cell in the body – ideally meant to replace diseased cells.
Scientists hope to be able to use them to address spinal cord injuries, cancer and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
The 2-1 decision said opponents of the research were not likely to win their battle in court, so funding should resume.
“We conclude the plaintiffs are unlikely to prevail,” read the decision by the US Court of Appeals in Washington, referring to a coalition of groups that challenged the legality of the research.
Judge Douglas Ginsburg wrote that it was “entirely reasonable” for the NIH to interpret the law as “permitting funding for research using cell lines derived without federal funding, even as it bars funding for the derivation of additional lines.”
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson said the federal law was clear about banning funding for human embryonic stem cell research and that the court majority was engaging in “linguistic jujitsu” by taking a straightforward case and issuing an unnecessarily complicated 21-page ruling.
The ruling was hailed by both the White House and the NIH, which allocated about $40 million to human embryonic stem cell research in 2010 and has set aside $125 million this year – a fraction of its $31 billion budget.
The White House said the ruling was a victory for scientists and patients.
As the death toll in the South continues to rise I will link to this post from yesterday…it has links to the Red Cross and Salvation Army and pictures of people who have been affected by these tornadoes.
On to world events and news…You may have missed this about Saif al-Arab Muammar Gaddafi. Here are a few more links about Libya:
As NATO warplanes bombed his capital early Saturday, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi delivered a disjointed but defiant speech on Libyan state television, offering a cease-fire while pledging not to leave the country.
Bryan Denton for The New York Times
“Come France, Italy, U.K., America, come, we’ll negotiate with you,” Colonel Qadaffi said. “You lie and say I’m killing my own people. Show us the bodies.”
The speech, which was broadcast about 2:30 a.m., was the latest in a series of rambling proclamations from the Libyan leader, and it was made as NATO forces said they would broaden their list of targets to include palaces, communication centers and other administrative buildings that Colonel Qaddafi relies on to maintain power.
NATO and the rebels immediately rejected the call for a cease-fire, which they described as a disingenuous ploy.
This asshole has to be one of those sick dictators that needs to disappear. I know that Boston Boomer linked to his advocating rape as a weapon, well it seems he is taking it ever further: Gaddafi ‘supplies troops with Viagra to encourage mass rape’, claims diplomat | World news | The Guardian
One of America’s most senior diplomats claimed at the United Nations security council that Muammar Gaddafi is supplying his troops with Viagra to encourage mass rape, according to diplomats.
Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN made the claim while accusing Gaddafi of numerous human rights abuses. Earlier in the week Rice also claimed, without offering any evidence, that Iran is helping Syria suppress internal dissent.
Foreign affairs specialists expressed scepticism about both claims.
The Viagra claim surfaced in an al-Jazeera report last month from Libya-based doctors who said they had found Viagra in the pockets of pro-Gaddafi soldiers. But it is a jump from that to suggesting Gaddafi is supplying troops with it to encourage mass rape.
Rice is one of the advocates of liberal intervention in the Obama administration, along with the White House foreign affairs adviser Samantha Power, and helped persuade President Obama to intervene in Libya.
A UN diplomat at the closed session on Thursday said: “I was in the room when she mentioned Viagra. The remark did not cause a stir at the time. It was during a discussion about whether there is moral equivalence between the Gaddafi forces and the rebels. She listed human rights abuses by Gaddafi’s forces, including snipers shooting children in the street and the Viagra story.”
She was trying to persuade doubters that Libya was not just a civil war and that Gaddafi was encouraging human rights abuses. Russia and China have complained that the military strikes on Libya are going beyond the UN mandate.
Can you see Gaddafi doing something like buying Viagra and giving it to his troops…I can, he probably is giving them some of his own stash…I could see him stockpile the stuff for his own use. Anyway, I am glad the children were not in school when this NATO strike hit:
Shattered glass litters the carpet at the Libyan Down’s Syndrome Society, and dust covers pictures of grinning children that adorn the hallway, thrown into darkness by a NATO strike early on Saturday.
It was unclear what the target of the strike was, though Libyan officials said it was Muammar Gaddafi himself, who was giving a live television address at the time.
“They maybe wanted to hit the television. This is a non-military, non-governmental building,” said Mohammed al-Mehdi, head of the civil societies council, which licenses and oversees civil groups in Libya.
The missile completely destroyed an adjoining office in the compound that houses the government’s commission for children.
The force of the blast blew in windows and doors in the parent-funded school for children with Down’s Syndrome and officials said it damaged an orphanage on the floor above.
“I felt sad really. I kept thinking, what are we going to do with these children?” said Ismail Seddigh, who set up the school 17 years ago after his own daughter was born with Down’s.
“This is not the place we left on Thursday afternoon.”
There were no children at the school when the missiles hit early on Saturday morning, since Friday begins the weekend in Libya. Children had been due to come in on Saturday morning.
On to Japan’s nuclear crisis…and some new radioactive waste sites in the Ukraine.
A senior nuclear adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has resigned, criticizing the government for ignoring his advice on radiation limits and not doing enough to deal with the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Toshiso Kosako, a professor at the University of Tokyo, was only recently named an aide to Kan on March 16, five days after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami hit Japan
In a teary news conference on Friday night, Kosako said he could not stay on while the government set, what he deemed, inappropriate radiation limits for elementary schools near the plant.
“I cannot allow this as a scholar,” he said, adding that he also opposed the government raising the limit for radiation exposure for workers at the plant.
The government has set 20-millisievert limit for radiation exposure as safe, but according to Kosako, that is 20 times too high, especially for children, who are considered more vulnerable to radiation than adults.
Plant workers are now allowed to be exposed to 250 millisieverts of radiation over a five-year period, up from 100 millisieverts.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that runs Fukushima Daiichi, revealed Saturday that the radiation exposures for two workers have been found to have reached the limit of 250 millisieverts.
‘I cannot help but to think [the government and other agencies] are only taking stopgap measures.’—Toshiso Kosako
Kosako went on to criticize the lack of transparency in Kan’s government in dealing with the radiation leak and blasted it for not taking long-term action.
“I cannot help but to think [the government and other agencies] are only taking stopgap measures.”
In a statement, Kan’s administraton called the resignation “unfortunate,” reiterating that the government “has consistently followed the advice of the nuclear safety commission in addition to the opinions from relevant sources.”
Ukrainian authorities have made plans to store a portion of the country’s nuclear waste at the site of the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe, near the region’s major water supply.
For 25 years, the radioactive waste has been sealed by a concrete structure known as a “sarcophagus,” which is now vulnerable to collapse, experts say.
Ugh, all I can think of is Blinky, the three eyed fish caught near the Nuclear Plant that Homer Simpson works at….
Bart catches a three-eyed fish in a river downstream of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. This causes the plant to become inspected, and in order to prevent it from being shut down, Mr. Burns decides to run for governor. After a hard campaign which sees Burns rise from being universally despised to running neck and neck with incumbent Mary Bailey, it is decided that Burns will have dinner with a random employee the night before the election. Homer is chosen, much to Marge‘s chagrin.
Journalists have described the episode as a satire on both American politics and environmentalism. It won an Environmental Media Award in 1991 for being the best television episode of the year with an environmental message. Since the episode first aired, the three-eyed fish Blinky has been mentioned several times in news articles regarding nuclear waste and mutation. The episode was positively received by television critics for its satire on American politics.
More world news after the fold, so keep on reading!
In Syria things are getting worse: Syrian government forces launch fresh attacks against Deraa protesters | World news | The Observer
The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad sent fresh troopson Saturday to pound the besieged southern city of Deraa, as a new opposition group appealed to the army to help the transition to democracy.
Tanks and armoured personnel carriers entered the city and troops stormed the Omari mosque, a hub for protesters, killing four people as Syria’s government continued to crush dissent in the city, which has been at the centre of the six-week uprising.
And look for things to start heating up again in Georgia…as Russian officials visit the breakaway nations of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This next link is from the State Department…regarding the Visit by Russian Officials to Abkhazia and South Ossetia
Russia’s recent efforts to conclude formal state-to-state agreements with the “de facto” authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia during a visit this week to those separatist regions are inconsistent with the principle of territorial integrity and Georgia’s internationally recognized borders. The United States remains committed to a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Georgia’s separatist regions and the restoration of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. We further call upon all parties to the conflict to fully implement their commitments pursuant to the 2008 Ceasefire Agreement.
Now, you may remember that I have a cousin who is married to a woman from South Ossetia and he is very active in promoting the recognition of South Ossetia as its own country, as well as, charging the Georgian President with war crimes. That link goes to an interview he did with Russian Television…So here are two more articles on the recent news about this.
The US State Department on Saturday criticized a recent visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the breakaway states Abkhazia and South Ossetia as “inconsistent” with Georgia’s sovereignty.
Lavrov visited the leaders of the two breakaway regions on April 25-26.
“Russia’s recent efforts to conclude formal state-to-state agreements with the ‘de facto’ authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia… are inconsistent with the principle of territorial integrity and Georgia’s internationally recognized borders,” said Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman.
During his visit to Sukhumi and Tskhinvali, the respective capitals of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Lavrov oversaw implementation of an agreement on visa-free travel for Russians to the regions and vice versa, the Russian foreign ministry said in Moscow.
Accords were also inked in South Ossetia for cooperation in transport and aviation safety and in Abkhazia on the establishment of cultural centers, it added.
Georgia and some of its leading Western allies describe Abkhazia as “occupied” by Russian forces, which are stationed there and patrol the disputed borderline.
Tbilisi insists that Abkhazia is an integral part of its territory but Moscow has recognized it and South Ossetia as independent states — a move followed by Nicaragua, Venezuela and the tiny Pacific island state of Nauru.
Comments by EU’s top diplomat Catherine Ashton which has backed Georgia’s rootless territorial claims to South Ossetia, may incite Georgia into new acts of aggression, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Ossetia said on Saturday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was visiting the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia earlier this week without the permission of the Georgian authorities. The European Union on Thursday condemned the visit.
“The European Union notes with concern that Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, has paid a visit to the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia without prior consent of the Georgian authorities,” Ashton said.
“Signs of support from the West, like Mrs. Ashton ones, which are addressed to the ‘fighters for Georgia’s territorial integrity‘ in fact incite them into a new conflict,” the South Ossetia’s comment said.
Well, that is two different perspectives…I am working on an interview with my cousin about the situation in South Ossetia. Some of you may find it interesting…
Anyway, on with the rest of the post.
From the Minx Missing Link File: This link is more than a missing link for me…I can’t remember if it already had been linked to before. (I may have linked to it myself…) Anyway, if it is a repeat I am sorry. If it is news to you then that is good…it is a real missing link.
The United States Supreme Court hears a case on Tuesday morning with enormous implications for the world of technology and commerce—and with significant privacy interests at stake for people all over the world.
The justices have been asked to determine whether and to what extent a state may regulate corporate data mining of information about the legal drugs doctors prescribe and patients use.
Here’s how the relatively new practice of data mining works.
In Vermont, where the case Sorrell v IMS Health started, state law requires a patient to provide to the pharmacist the “prescriber’s name and address, dosage, and quantity of the drug, the date and place the prescription is filled, and that patient’s name and gender”.
Pharmacies then sell the data to data mining companies, which then aggregate the information and sell it to pharmaceutical companies, which in turn use it in marketing to doctors the drugs they are prescribing (or should prescribe).
At some early point in this process, information which would identify patients is said to be deleted by the companies.
But in 2007, Vermont took its concerns about this commercial paradigm one step further. It enacted a law designed to protect the privacy rights of doctors and patients and to encourage the prescription of non-generic drugs (whose makers generally do not use data mining as a marketing tool).
Arguing that such a law violated their first amendment “commercial speech” rights to the use of the information, the data mining companies sued.
Is it constitutional?
So far, two federal appeals courts have looked at the issue. A panel of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles federal litigation arising in Vermont, ruled 2-1 last November in Sorrell that the state’s anti-data-mining law was unconstitutional.
Vermont’s effort to restrict the use of the information from its prescribers was not “narrowly tailored” and did not “directly advance” the state’s goals, the appeals panel ruled.
It is this ruling that is the immediate subject of Tuesday’s appeal before the Supreme Court.
Which way the Supreme Court justices view these laws will determine the outcome of the case.
So will what the justices think of their own precedent – a 31-year-old decision styled Central Hudson Gas v Public Service, which all of the parties and both of the federal appeals courts involved frequently cited.
It is not hard to see that the Vermont case is bigger than just a legal fight over what to do with information about prescription drugs.
Data mining obviously can be (and is) used elsewhere in the modern world, from giving retailers information about shopping patterns to giving the police information about crime to giving computer companies new weapons in the fight against spammers.
It can be (and is) used both as a corporate sword and as a commercial shield and the frequency of data mining will only increase as the technologies behind it improve.
This helps explain why many people both in and out of government, and not just in the United States, are paying close attention to the case as well.
A decision is expected from the court by the end of June.
Easy like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: The South will be getting an all to familiar calling card this Spring.
Billions of Brood 19 cicadas are expected to begin appearing in early May. Also called the Great Southern Brood, their emergence across the American south is something that happens only once every 13 years.
This particular type of cicada is unusual for reasons other than the fact that they have been developing underground for the past 13 years. They also travel in massive swarms that can produce a buzz of up to 85 decibels, louder than the sound of a jet flying overhead.
The cicadas that will crawl up out of the ground in the next few weeks are the offspring of the bugs that appeared in 1998. After emerging from the soil, the nymphs gather in trees, shed their skins and almost immediately begin making a deafening sound that will last all day, from dawn to dusk.
They’ve been developing underground for 13 years, and now billions of Brood 19 cicadas are set to emerge with a bang, or a buzz in states including Georgia, South Carolina and Oklahoma. American Entomologist Editor-in-Chief Gene Kritsky lays out what we can expect with host Linda Wertheimer.
For lots more information on these Cicadas look here: Periodical Cicadas
What are you reading this May Day? Tell me about it…Oh and an update on my laptop…it is almost here. From Shanghai China to Anchorage, Alaska to Louisville, Kentucky…next stop Atlanta and then to Banjoville!