Sunday Reads….Mother’s Day
Posted: May 8, 2011 Filed under: Afghanistan, anonymous, cyber security, Diplomacy Nightmares, Foreign Affairs, Hillary Clinton, just because, morning reads, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen | Tags: EU, Floods, Germany, Greece, Norman Mailer
Happy Mother’s Day! After spending the day trying to find some sort of tribute to all you Mother’s out there…I realized that my only experience with mother’s are those of the Sicilian and Cuban variety, meaning that my perception of Mama is that of a woman…a short woman with a predisposition towards obesity, dark eyes, olive complexion…and more hairs on her face then Fidel Castro. Okay, so I am exaggerating about the facial hair…just a bit.
Ah…you have to love the Sicilian Mother! They usually are trying to get you to eat, gifted in the art of making you feel guilty…and always help their children any way they can!
(Be sure you check out those video links above…I will try to embed them at the end of the post!)
So please humor me while I honor my own special mother, grandmothers and great-grandmothers…Happy Mother’s Day!
Great Granny Rose and Great Grandpa Julio
Granny Margret and Great Granny Rose
Granny Margaret and Grandfather Baby Ray
Nana Jennie and Nano Johnny
Nana Jennie and my brother Denny
Ma…my Mother Linda
Ma and my brother Denny
Okay…on with the show. This week has been a crazy one indeed. With each new “release” of information/video/statement about the bin Laden raid, the more surreal it all becomes. I don’t know if I am watching The Onion or CNN. Boston Boomer has discussed this in two of her post this week…I’ll link to them here and here. So I will refrain from discussing bin Laden, and get on with other news that you may have missed this week.
They are calling this a 500 year flood…as Residents brace for more flooding as Mississippi River swells – CNN.com
As the Mississippi River gushes downstream with no clear boundaries, flooding continues to deluge parts of Tennessee as residents farther south brace for what will come.
“When you see the Mississippi River and it’s about two miles wide because it’s lost its borders, it’s sobering,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.
In some areas, murky brown water inundated entire neighborhoods, with only the roofs of buildings and treetops visible from the sky.
The Mississippi River is expected to crest about 14 feet above flood stage at Memphis as early as late Tuesday.
Yup, that is me…on the banks of the Mississippi in Memphis, early 1990′s.
I spent a lot of time staring out over the Mississippi while in Memphis, the thought of that muddy water spanning two miles wide is overwhelming. Here is more on the floods: Watery week ahead as Mississippi floodwaters hit Memphis, move downriver – CSMonitor.com
Record high floodwaters are expected to crest throughout the southern Mississippi Delta next week, starting in Memphis, Tenn., Wednesday and continuing through New Orleans by May 17. As momentum builds, the bulging waters moving down the Mississippi River are backing up tributaries that feed into it, resulting in evacuations, school cancellations, and road closures as water builds.
Some areas in and around Memphis are already under water, as river levels sit at 46 feet, breaking the record of 45.8 feet set during the historic 1927 flood. The National Weather Service forecasts that the Mississippi will crest there at 48 feet Wednesday and is expected to remain standing for as many as four days.
For up to date Flood Warnings and Watches click the image below.
Floods Monitor – NOAAWatch
On Saturday, Wonk the Vote had a great post about New Orleans and the Gulf. Be sure to check it out if you missed it.
On to some world news.
Afghanistan is seeing a lot more violence, whether it is retaliation for bin Laden…remains to be seen. Avenging bin Laden: Taliban Unleash Spring Offensive in Afghanistan – TIME
Taliban fighters carried out a series of coordinated attacks across the embattled southern Afghan city of Kandahar Saturday — a campaign that Afghan President Hamid Karzai characterized as “revenge” for the death of Osama bin Laden. Insurgents first assaulted the provincial governor’s palace with rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire and then launched a series of strikes across the city on the headquarters of the Afghan National Police (ANP) and the Transportation Police, on Police Sub-station One as well as various other Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) and International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) buildings in both Kandahar city and in the Arghandab River Valley, ISAF reported. Between a dozen and two-dozen people were wounded in the fighting, Afghan media reported. All of the suicide bombers were killed.
“Al-Qaeda and its terrorist members who have suffered a major defeat with the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistani territory have tried to hide this defeat by killing civilians in Kandahar and take their revenge on the innocent people of Afghanistan,” Karzai said in a statement. The link between the Kandahar attacks and the death of bin Laden was bolstered by a statement seen on many jihadist websites on Saturday in which the Taliban said that “The Islamic Emirate [the Taliban’s name for itself] believes the martyrdom of Sheikh Osama bin Laden will give a new impetus to the current jihad against the invaders in this critical phase of jihad. The tides of jihad will gain strength and width. The forthcoming time will prove this both for the friends and the foes.” The statement was signed by “the general leadership” of al-Qaeda. But later, Taliban spokesmen insisted that the attacks had been in the works for months, news services reported.
So Karzai is calling the increased attacks “revenge” for the death of OBL…But the Taliban insist they have planned it for months. Hmmm…
In Syria, the situation is getting dire. Just how bad do things have to get?
Deaths reported as Syrian forces storm city – Middle East – Al Jazeera English
|Rights campaigner says ‘Sunni and mixed neighbourhoods are totally besieged now’ in Baniyas, a protest hub [Reuters]
Syrian security forces have conducted a raid on Baniyas, a hub of anti-government protests, amid demands by opponents of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, that he offer elections to end the crisis.
A Syrian rights campaigner told the AFP news agency that security forces killed four women who were among about 150 people demonstrating on Saturday on the main coastal highway from Marqab village, near Baniyas, calling for the release of detained people.
“Members of the security forces asked them to leave and, when they refused to do so, they opened fire killing three of them and wounding five others who were hospitalised,” the activist said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based group, said security forces killed at least two others during the tank-backed army attack on Baniyas and demanded that authorities allow an independent committee to investigate the deaths.
The Syrian military confirmed that it conducted an operation in Baniyas, a Mediterranean coastal city of 50,000 people, on Saturday.
“Army units and security forces today pursued members of terrorist groups in and around Baniyas and neighbourhoods of [the southern flashpoint town of] Deraa to restore security and stability,” the military official said.
“They arrested people and seized a quantity of weapons that these groups have used to attack the army and citizens and scare people.”
Syria protests claim 36
A leading human rights activist says Syrian security forces have killed 36 people during widespread protests.
Thousands of demonstrators held rallies Friday in major areas across the country, including the capital, Damascus, and its suburbs, despite an increased security presence.
The activist asked that his name not be used because of mounting security concerns in Syria. His group compiles death toll figures and human rights violations in the country.
Rights groups say more than 580 civilians and 100 soldiers have been killed in the seven-week-old uprising against President Bashar Assad’s autocratic regime.
Activists and witnesses said demonstrations broke out after the main Friday prayers in cities across the country of 20 million people, from Banias on the Mediterranean coast to Qamishly in the Kurdish east.
International criticism has mounted against Assad, who has gone on the offensive to maintain his family’s four-decade grip on power and crush demonstrators demanding freedom.
European Union governments agreed on Friday to impose asset freezes and travel restrictions against Syrian officials responsible for the violent repression, which rights campaigners say has killed more than 560 people.
It was not immediately clear if Assad himself would be targeted under the sanctions, which follows last week’s agreement in principle to levy an arms embargo on Syria. The measures will be approved on Monday if no member state objects.
Here is an editorial published in The Guardian…read it and let me know what you think about it down in the comments.
Syria: President Assad should be brought to book over violence | Observer editorial | Comment is free | The Observer
In the Arab Spring, a great deal of violence has been used by regimes against their people. Confronted with these events, the international community has struggled to come up with a coherent response, hesitating over Tunisia and Egypt, then rushing into a military intervention in Libya.
Now, as tanks attack another town in Bashar al-Assad’s Syria, the response of the EU and the US appears to be based on a wild gamble. The plan appears to be to apply limited sanctions which exclude Mr Assad himself, while targeting others in his entourage, including his brother, Maher. This discriminating approach is meant to split the regime, with Mr Assad nudged back on to the course of reform he appeared to espouse when he succeeded his father a decade ago. How risky the pursuit of that policy has been should be clear as another Syrian town, Baniyas, has come under vicious assault.
The entire policy looks dangerously dependent on wishful thinking. Authoritarian regimes habitually deploy the promise of “liberalisation” and “reform” to prolong their existence in tandem with repression. Most of the states which have faced uprisings in the Arab Spring have tried this tactic. Mr Assad’s liberalisation has been so modest as to be invisible in the police state he has overseen. His father’s Ba’athist ideology has been effectively replaced by an emerging crony capitalism as he has moved slowly to open up Syria‘s economy – his sole significant reform.
In these circumstances, and with so little to show for the years of attempted engagement with him, it seems only right to judge him for the murderous acts of the state over which he presides – unless he meaningfully distances himself from that violence. Until then, as the head of a corrupt state, guilty of terrible human rights abuses, he should be held responsible and face sanctions, alongside other members of the regime, for the horrors unfolding in Syria. The international community, through its inaction, is increasingly complicit.
This next image is something else…Yemen’s women: out from the shadows | Nadya Khalife | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
Women join a protest against President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southern city of Taiz on 16 April. Photograph: Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi/Reuters
“Security forces in civilian clothes have threatened me with the jambiyya, not just during demonstrations, but everywhere I go,” the protest leader and journalist Tawakkol Karman told me, describing the traditional dagger that Yemeni men wear strapped to their waists.
In the past, any mention of Yemen’s women in the news media has usually been about two issues, neither of them positive. The first is that they are more likely than most women in the Middle East to die in childbirth, and the second that they are among the least empowered women in the world.
The second assumption has recently been shattered by the uprisings in Yemen.
Since the beginning of the protests, women like Karman have come out in great numbers to demonstrate against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled in Yemen for more than 30 years. They have stood side by side with tens of thousands of Yemeni men to fill the city squares of Sana’a, Ta’izz, Aden, and other major cities, demanding his resignation.
Such has been the power of their presence that Saleh felt obliged to denounce women who join the protests as un-Islamic for demonstrating alongside men.
The protests have given women a chance to express their own concerns about their day-to-day struggles with the Saleh government, including their subordinate legal status as perpetual minors who require male guardians and the continued prevalence of harmful practices like child marriage.
Women have held their own demonstrations, but have also protested with their male counterparts, calling for democracy. Their courage has come at a cost: security forces and pro-government plain-clothes operators have threatened, verbally assaulted and attacked women protesters. At least 109 peaceful demonstrators or bystanders in Yemen have been killed since daily protests began in mid-February, and several hundred injured.
To be sure, many more male protesters have been targeted, but women in Yemen are particularly vulnerable to such attacks. Yemen is a traditional society, where women generally have low social status and are excluded from public life.
The article goes on to mention a report from Freedom House: freedomhouse.org: Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa
Freedom House’s innovative publication, Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa, analyzes the status of women in the region through the prism of international standards embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The 2005 edition found that despite some evidence of progress toward equality in a number of countries, there was a pervasive gender-based gap in rights and freedoms in every facet of society: the law, criminal justice system, economy, education, health care, and the media.
The 2010 edition of Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa is a five-year retrospective review of improvements or setbacks made to women’s rights in the MENA region. Its analysis covers events that occurred from mid 2004 until October 2009, picking up where the 2005 edition ended. This unique survey, which combines quantitative ratings with a qualitative, narrative analysis for each MENA country or territory, is necessary in light of the international scrutiny given to the status of women in this region. By providing thorough, cross-regional analysis of the legal and societal realities of MENA women, the Women’s Rights report is able to act as an objective tool for international development agencies, governments, scholars, and journalists, as well as a means of empowerment for women’s rights activists in the region.
I hope you read the Guardian article in full, and if you have time skim over the report.
The European Union seems to be having some disagreements. I am no expert but it looks like the richer countries want to kick out the poor one that is bringing them down. (I know that is not exactly what is happening, but you get the idea.)
UPDATE 1-Greek PM denies euro exit; says leave Greece alone | Reuters
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Saturday denied there was even unofficial discussion over Greece quitting the euro zone and asked that his troubled country be “left alone to finish its task”.
Ministers from the euro zone’s biggest economies met in Luxembourg to discuss Greece’s debt crisis on Friday but Athens and senior EU officials denied a report by Germany’s Spiegel Online that the Greek government had raised the prospect of leaving the 17-member euro zone.
“These scenarios are borderline criminal,” Papandreou told a conference on the Ionian island of Meganisi. “No such scenario has been discussed even in our unofficial contacts…I call upon everyone in Greece and abroad, and especially in the EU, to leave Greece alone to do its job in peace.”
German MP says Berlin should help Greece leave euro | Reuters
Germany should constructively support any efforts by Greece to abandon the euro and return to the drachma, a leading MP in Germany’s junior coalition Free Democrats (FDP) said on Saturday.
“If Greece wants to leave the euro zone, that is its own autonomous decision,” Frank Schaeffler, an FDP member in the finance committee of the Bundestag, told Reuters.
“And Germany should accompany them constructively.”
On Friday, influential German weekly Der Spiegel reported talks were held to discuss the possibility, raised by Athens, of Greece withdrawing from the 17-member euro zone, as well as the idea of restructuring Greece’s 327 billion euro ($470 billion) sovereign debt.
Schaeffler agreed that bringing back the drachma would spook markets and cause problems for the entire euro zone, but only for the short term.
Wow, if Greece goes…who is next?
I am sure you have heard something about Sony and their ongoing problems with a security hack. It not only affects the Sony Playstation games, if you have an interactive TV from Sony…your info may have been hacked as well.
The Sony Hack: When It Started, and When It Will End – Slideshow from PCMag.com
To date, Sony still hasn’t restored its network. Consumers are worried about losing credit-card information, and, as a result, Sony’s top brass, including chief executive Howard Stringer have apologized.
PCMag.com will continue to keep on top of the story. But in the pages following, we’ll track the evolution of the story, finishing it off with what we think will be the outcome of it all.
So click the link if you want to read more about it.
Minx’s Missing Link File: NationalJournal.com – Hillary’s Sneeze: Did Allergens or Bias Provoke It? – Saturday, May 7, 2011
Okay, this picture seems to have become a symbol of the Obama Administration’s reaction to the raid when Osama was killed. Hillary has come out and said her expression and hand over her mouth was due to allergies. The author of this article doesn’t buy it.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
President Obama and Vice President Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House.
So now Hillary Clinton says tree pollen made her do it.
The wide eyes, the hand clapped to the mouth in the now-famous photo of the White House Situation Room at the hour of Osama bin Laden’s death might have been a sneeze coming on, the secretary of state has let it be known.
Women of a certain age have reasons for disbelieving Clinton’s story – and for sympathizing with her reasons for telling it.
Those who entered the job market in the 1960s and 1970s know what it’s like to be what that headed-for-the-history-books photo showed President Obama’s top diplomat to be: the only skirt (or, in Clinton’s case, pantsuit) at the table.
Isolation can do funny things to you.
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: When I lived in Connecticut, I drove a few miles to Roxbury and went into the land records so that I could see Marilyn Monroe’s signature on the deed to the farm she shared with Mailer. This article below about Mailer’s apartment in Brooklyn, NY seems like one of those articles you read to escape.
Norman Mailer’s Last Home Still Reflects His Life – NYTimes.com
Trevor Tondro for The New York Times
Norman Mailer expanded his fourth-floor apartment in Brooklyn Heights into a nautical adventureland and filled it with mementos of his life. Now that he and his wife are deceased, his nine children have listed the co-op for sale for $2.5 million.
Among the furnishings, photographs and knickknacks that fill Norman Mailer’s curious apartment in Brooklyn Heights, a visitor can get a sense of the writer’s voracious appetite for the patchwork of experiences life has to offer.
There is a button for Mailer’s quixotic 1969 campaign for New York City mayor that says “I would sleep better if Norman Mailer were mayor.” There is a framed original print of Milton H. Greene’s leggy photograph of Marilyn Monroe
, a Mailer obsession and the subject of two affectionate books. And there is a photograph of Mailer boxing with José Torres, a light heavyweight champion. Mr. Torres taught Mailer how to box on the condition that Mailer teach him how to write.
The protean Mailer died in 2007 at age 84; Norris Church, his wife of 27 years, died last November at 61. His son Michael, one of nine children Mailer had or adopted with the six women he married, took over the apartment, a quirky cross between a Victorian parlor and the cabin of a sailing yacht.
And here is those videos I linked to above, may you enjoy these Sicilian Mothers doing what they do best…and have a Wonderful Mother’s Day!
To me, there is no other Italian Mother like Scorsese’s Mother..this is that fabulous scene when Tommy stops at his mother’s house to get a shovel so he can bury Billie Batts. The video is a bit weird until 11 seconds in…just keep watching it.
Okay, now this is one Sicilian Mama that really knows how to exploit the guilt…From Moonstruck, the scene where Johnny is at the Death Bead of his Mother.
In this clip Johnny (Danny Aiello) calls Loretta (Cher) from his mothers deathbed. Loretta is more concerned if Johnny told his mother that they were getting married then she is about his mother dying. This is a great scene from the movie
Moonstruck – Death Bed of My Mother
And finally, this scene from Radio Days. Rocco the hitman has just killed someone, and Sally is a witness.
Splendid turns by Danny Aiello (as Rocco the hit man) and Gina DeAngelis (his mom), supporting Mia Farrow (as “Sally”), who turns out to be from the old neighborhood, director Woody Allen narrating, in Radio Days, 1987.
Radio Days — (Movie Clip) You Were A Witness!
*Just a note, it is 3:23 am and I’ve been trying to get this post formatted correctly for a while now. So…if the images and formatting in this post are a bit messy…I am sorry. Since it is officially Mother’s Day, and I am a Mother, it will have to stay like it is…this mutha is going to bed!
Happy Mother’s Day!