Thursday Reads

Good Morning!! Does anyone have a remedy for the sleepies? I recently finished a semester of teaching, and the last couple of days I’ve been extremely groggy. Yesterday I even slept until 10:30AM! It doesn’t help that we haven’t seen the sun in the Boston area for at least a week–it’s dark, dank, and raw out there. It seems a lot more like November than late May. On top of all that my Spring allergies are the worst I’ve ever experienced. So please forgive me if this post makes no sense. On to the news of the day.

Disgraced IMF honcho Dominque Strauss-Kahn’s accuser testified before a New York grand jury today. Immediately following her testimony, Strauss-Kahn’s attorneys announced their determination to spring their client from his cell at Rikers Island Jail.

His lawyers initially proposed a $1 million bail package that was rejected by the court.

Today a new offer that was said to add a private monitoring firm, an electronic bracelet and a guard to the package was put together. The cash component of the bail package remained at $1 million dollars, but the deal now included a guarantee that Strauss-Kahn would remain confined in New York City and not leave his residence except for visits to his doctor or lawyers. His passports and travel documents have already been taken from him.

According to ABC News, police are testing body fluids found in Strauss-Kahn’s hotel room for DNA.

ABC News has confirmed that police cut a swath of carpet to test for DNA and swabbed one of the suite’s sinks under a black light that indicated there was potential DNA evidence there.

Apparently Strauss-Kahn’s attorneys plan to claim that their client’s sexual encounter with a hotel maid was “consensual,” but there is a serious problem with that theory in addition to the maid’s testimony.

Investigators also say information downloaded from the suite door’s electronic card reader indicates the maid entered the room and never closed the door. The hotel policy requires maids to leave the door open when cleaning. The open door, they say, is proof that the women entered the room to work, not to engage in consensual sex.

I won’t dwell on this sordid story much longer, but I did want to call your attention to this piece in Time Magazine, which details a number of previous accusations against Strauss-Kahn–along with rumors –gossip about his abusive behavior toward women–that were hushed up until now. How predictable these guys are!

Joseph Cannon’s latest post is a must-read, along with the New Yorker article by Jane Mayer on which the Cannon comments. It’s about the domestic spying by the NSA that went on under Bush and the Obama administration’s heavy handed prosecution of whistleblowers while at the same time protecting the Bush administration criminals. (Minkoff Minx also mentioned Mayer’s article in her morning post yesterday.) Here’s an introduction to the piece by Cannon:

This humble blog spent a lot of time talking about NSA overreach during the controversies over Russell Tice and FISA. Meyer’s piece confirms a long-held suspicion that the real problem wasn’t eavesdropping on telephone calls but automated data-mining of all forms of electronic communication.

Two competing computer systems were designed to take us into this brave new world: ThinThread and Trailblazer. (The system in place now is called Turbulence. Someone at NSA has a strange affection for the letter T — which is also the first letter in totalitarian.) Trailblazer turned out to be a costly boondoggle. ThinThread worked. Originally, it had provisions built in to protect the privacy of American citizens; NSA Director Haybed tossed out those barriers.

Meyer focuses on an NSA whistleblower named Thomas Drake, who tried to blow the whistle on the Trailblazer fiasco — and on the abuses of privacy — to a staffer on the House Intelligence Committee. Unfortunately, the Committee was headed, at the time, by Porter Goss — and by Nancy Pelosi. They both seemed deaf to what Drake had to say.

Why is Obama so obsessed with prosecuting whistleblowers–even to the point of dusting off the Espionage Act? Jane Mayer writes:

When President Barack Obama took office, in 2009, he championed the cause of government transparency, and spoke admiringly of whistle-blowers, whom he described as “often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government.” But the Obama Administration has pursued leak prosecutions with a surprising relentlessness. Including the Drake case, it has been using the Espionage Act to press criminal charges in five alleged instances of national-security leaks—more such prosecutions than have occurred in all previous Administrations combined. The Drake case is one of two that Obama’s Justice Department has carried over from the Bush years.

Gabriel Schoenfeld, a conservative political scientist at the Hudson Institute, who, in his book “Necessary Secrets” (2010), argues for more stringent protection of classified information, says, “Ironically, Obama has presided over the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history—even more so than Nixon.”

Mayer asked Drake about it:

Sitting at a Formica table at the Tastee Diner, in Bethesda, Drake—who is a registered Republican—groaned and thrust his head into his hands. “I actually had hopes for Obama,” he said. He had not only expected the President to roll back the prosecutions launched by the Bush Administration; he had thought that Bush Administration officials would be investigated for overstepping the law in the “war on terror.”

“But power is incredibly destructive,” Drake said. “It’s a weird, pathological thing. I also think the intelligence community coöpted Obama, because he’s rather naïve about national security. He’s accepted the fear and secrecy. We’re in a scary space in this country.”

Check out her article if you can. She’s one of the best investigative reporters we have.

You may have missed Dakinikat’s late night post on Tuesday–the one about exploding watermelons. I thought this story deserved a little more emphasis, because it shows what can happen when there are no government regulations on agriculture–and industry in general (and that is what the Republicans would love to make happen). From Raw Story:

A bizarre wave of exploding watermelons — possibly due to farmers’ abuse of a growth-boosting chemical — has once again spotlighted safety fears plaguing China’s poorly regulated food sector.

State media has said nearly 50 hectares (120 acres) of watermelon crops in the eastern city of Danyang have been ruined by the phenomenon this month after some growers doused them with the growth accelerator forchlorfenuron.

“On May 7, I came out and counted 80 (exploded watermelons), but by the afternoon it was 100,” farmer Liu Mingsuo told state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) in a report that aired Tuesday. He said he had sprayed them with the chemical just a day before.

Remind me to never buy any food produce in China!!

Have you heard that the Obama campaign is selling T-shirts and coffee cups that mock the “birthers?”

President Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign today started selling “Made in the USA” t-shirts featuring images of both President Obama and the long-form birth certificate he released copies of last month.

Wear your support for this campaign with an official Made in the USA T-shirt,” his website advertises. Donate $25 or more today and we’ll send you your limited-edition shirt.

Coffee-mugs are also available.

“Remember ‘fight the smears’ from the 2008 campaign?” asked campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt. “This is the mobile version of it.”

Quite frankly, I think this is a little bit tacky….but that’s just me. And speaking of tasteless behavior, the Catholic Church is attempting to blame the ’60s counterculture for the behavior pedophile priests. From the Guardian UK:

The investigation commissioned by Catholic bishops said that the peak incidence of sexual abuse by priests in the 1960s and 70s reflected the increased level of other deviant behaviours in American society in the period, including “drug use and crime, as well as social changes, such as an increase in premarital sex and divorce.”

Researchers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice said most of the abusive priests were ordained in the 1940s and 50s and were not properly trained to confront the social upheavals of the 1960s.

David O’Brien, a historian of American Catholicism at the University of Dayton, said the report, Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010, was dangerous because it seemed to exonerate bishops.

The study also ignores the long history of sexual abuse of children by the Catholic clergy. Methinks these “researchers” told the Catholic Bishops what they wanted to hear rather than do any serious research.

Finally, President Obama plans to give another “most amazing speech evah” tomorrow. This one is on the Middle East and North Africa. According to Voice of America:

The speech will be broad in scope, as Mr. Obama focuses on the peaceful democratic movements for change that have swept the region, discusses implications for U.S. policy, and offers what administration officials call some concrete policy proposals.

He will give his assessment of the impact of popular uprisings that have led to political changes in Egypt and Tunisia, and which continue in places like Syria, Libya and Yemen.

Senior administration officials say Mr. Obama will speak of a moment of opportunity, after a decade of great tensions and divisions, in which people of the region and U.S. policy can begin to turn the page toward a more positive and hopeful future.

The stalemated Israel-Palestinian peace process will be an important element. However, Mr. Obama is expected to frame it as part of a wider picture and say that leaders on both sides of that conflict should seize an opportunity for peace.

Whatever….I think I’ll arrange to be busy while he’s speechifying. Anyway, what are you reading and blogging about today?

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41 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    The Catholic Church, led by men, acted much like any organization in protecting their “brand” by ignoring any and all indications of pedophilia among the ranks. The “answer” to the problem was a constant shifting of these perverts from one parish to another and continued to put these kids at risk.

    The church, and let me add that I was raised in this atmosphere, has always been about power. The power to control the faithful and keep those seats and envelopes filled.

    Those who could have made a difference took part in a massive, global coverup to ensure these donations and today, a direct result of these transgressions, the doors of many churches have been closed and it is difficult to find more than a few seats occupied on any given Sunday.

    The self interests of the Catholic Churh and its unwillingness to concede its own dirty role in this scandal is what led many of us to walk away in total disgust.

    As Cardinal Law from Boston found himself “elevated” in Rome thus managing to avoid the consequences of his involvement, it is difficult to, it is difficult to not view this travesty as anything more than a “business”.

    The damage has been done worldwide and there is no turning back.

    • madamab says:

      Amen, Pat!

      Not to mention the disgusting way in which the Church conflates pedophilia with sexual freedom. The rape of a child has nothing to do with sexual freedom, it is the act of a mentally ill person who should be put away FOR LIFE.

      • WomanVoter says:

        Yes, that behavior isn’t anything anyone aspires to achieve, it is something vile and reprehensible. I do agree in that the sentences are to light, considering that they do it over and over again and that often many victims are not discovered and only recently are they coming forward.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Pat, I also was raised a Catholic. The harsh treatment of the Nuns at parochial school still remains in my memories. There is this underline sadistic quality to the way the nuns and priest would interact with the kids. The sexual abuse within the priesthood is something that has always been there…no promiscuous 60’s revolution is going to change that fact.
      The church has always covered their ass when it comes to any wrong doing or criminal activity within the bubble of their superiority as a self governing body. The only action taken is to move the offending person to another post.

      Reminds me of what the comedian Paul Mooney said about Michael Jackson.

      http://www.comedycentral.com/videos/index.jhtml?videoId=219357&title=negrodamus-michael-jackson

      • okasha says:

        Strangely, I went through grades 4-12 and a “mean nun” at school. There was a pedophile priest in the diocese who taught the catechism class every two weeks or so, and the nuns NEVER left a student of any age, boy or girl, alone with him. His first parish in my city got rid of him when the parish council withheld his stipend. Unfortunately, the Bishop covered for him and reassigned him to another church that was just forming. The corruption was at the diocesan level. At the local level, both other clergy and the laity knew what was going on and did everything they could to protect the kids. They couldn’t get through to the Bishop, though, and get the bastard outsted, because the priest’s family were huge donors.

      • okasha says:

        That should be “and never met a mean nun at school.”

        I did encounter one, but she was the CEO of a hospital–and by that time the Ursulines had made a snappy little debater out of me, and I set her back on her heels. I was wearing my school uniform at the time, too.

    • paper doll says:

      To me the Church covering up and the sending raping priest to fresh parishes fields is as bad as the raping…if not worse. I think , whatever BS they say, not very deep down, they believe this is a right they have.

      And what gets me is how if a priest had an affair with an adult woman,…or man for that matter, he’s be booted out pronto

  2. I heard about the Obama Made in America merchandise yesterday…yes, 50 years ago when he was born there was manufacturing in America. Great reminder, Obama…

  3. Dominique Strauss-Kahn Resigns From I.M.F.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/19/business/19imf.html

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned Wednesday as head of the International Monetary Fund after explosive accusations that he had sexually attacked a housekeeper in a Midtown Manhattan hotel room.

    “It is with infinite sadness that I feel compelled today to present to the Executive Board my resignation from my post of managing director of the I.M.F.,” he said in a statement issued Wednesday, shortly after midnight, by the I.M.F. “I think at this time first of my wife — whom I love more than anything — of my children, of my family, of my friends.”

  4. Minkoff Minx says:

    BB, fantastic post. I am glad you highlighted that article by Mayer. Personally, I think Obama never intended to keep his promise about closing Gitmo, and stopping “enhanced” interrogation techniques. As for Bush and the others that should be investigated for torture, etc. Obama’s non-action is no surprise to me either.

    My allergies have been terrible as well, and it is causing my brain to fizzle out. I hope you start to feel better…this allergy season is a bad one.

  5. glennmcgahee says:

    BB, Your allergies are what makes you sleepy. I too suffer from them this time of year. The body would rather sleep than suffer all day long. If only we could breath easy, we’d enjoy the rest more.
    Thank you so much for the repetition of the article from the New Yorker. I want that story to get out there. We can’t rely on any media to repeat it and give the story exposure. We’re going to ave to do it ourselves by playing it over and over. But I want to know when this thing comes to trial. I’m afraid of a settlement that will sweep it under the rug. I really think the Intelligence community has something on Obama that scares the blazes out of him. He’s a Constitutional Lawyer or so they say. I really have to wonder whats going to happen come the election. I certainly can’t vote for him but who is a good alternative?

    • who is a good alternative?

      Jon Huntsman (longshot that he’ll get nominated though)

      • If the Dem nomination were up for grabs, Huntsman would be a moot point of course. I would love to see Feingold primary Obama, but realistically that’s not in the works.

      • bostonboomer says:

        It might be interesting to see Feingold vs. Mich Daniels–the battle of the tiny men.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’ve heard that since the JFK assassination, every President lives in fear of the CIA. I don’t think that’s just a “conspiracy theory.”

      • mjames says:

        I suspect Obama IS CIA and always has been (along with his being a tool of Wall Street). What are the true facts about his move to Columbia U., his passports, his trips abroad? I’ve been wanting to know for a long time. There are such gaps in his personal history. Nobody knows or those who know aren’t talking. After all, his mother was CIA. So was Geithner’s father. Am I wrong?

        I am of the 60’s free love era. I don’t remember anything about molesting kids. I don’t remember anything about forcing sex on someone against his/her will. These guys need to fess up and own their “sins” just like they preach to their followers. They are rank hypocrites.

      • paper doll says:

        I agree with you both…to be honest , after a certain level , imo, there is just the CIA…a crime family/ syndicate

        I think that’s what Karl Rove meant when he said everyone knew Valerie Plame was CIA…because after a certain level, everyone is. Obama particularly seems to have been groom by the family since a very young age,again imo

  6. bostonboomer says:

    The woman Strauss-Kahn raped may be HIV positive.

    http
    Karma?

    • Delphyne says:

      Reminds me of something I used to say way back: when you least expect it, expect it.

      Yep – Karma. Works in mysterious ways.

    • WomanVoter says:

      Yup, saw that, and feel terrible for her, and her child. It is bad enough to go through a crime against you, but then people start digging into your life, your child’s life and it is just wrong.

      I feel terrible for her daughter, it is just terrible.

    • okasha says:

      I hope for her own sake it’s not true.

      And I hope the rumors/possibility gives the asshole rapist some really bad moments.

  7. madamab says:

    Wow, check this out! Have any home foreclosures actually been LEGAL?!

    http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/thorough-look-just-one-nc-county-foun

  8. Peggy Sue says:

    I found the business on the Church pretty appalling. All this fancy footwork to avoid simply saying: yes, we made a mistake by shifting these pedophiles from one church to another. We made a mistake, we hurt children in the process and we’re heartily sorry, and we’re taking steps to rectify the situation and make restitution to the victims.

    Instead, the Chruch has come out with a statement that less than 5% of priests are responsible for sexual acts against children. To come to that figure, they reduced the age of the children to ten years of age. So, if you were 11, you consented.

    We live in a world where no one is accountable. Not even the Catholic Church. Sad and sick.

    • dakinikat says:

      Frontline had a segment on two pedophiles in the Alaska frontier serving the native population. The damage to the kids-now adults-is heart wrenching. The archbishop had to go apologize personally as part of the legal settlement. Its like watching him come to a slow realization of pure evil. Of course nothing happened to the priest or his cohort.

    • madamab says:

      That’s repulsive.

      I really have trouble with thinking of the Catholic church as anything but a purely evil institution. I know they do “good work for the poor,” etc. etc. etc., but the harm they are doing to women and children cancels it out…not to mention helping spread AIDS through the ignorant insistence on not using condoms.

      I apologize for offending Catholics with that statement, but it’s just the way I feel.

  9. dakinikat says:

    Harsh Light on Two Men, but Glare Falls on Women

    A flotilla of TV news trucks was stationed outside a Bronx apartment building this week, as photographers scrambled to get a shot of the hotel cleaning woman who accused the managing director of the International Monetary Fund of sexually assaulting her. Inside, reporters fired questions at her neighbors: Was she good-looking? Did she pay her rent on time? What was her behavior like?

    On the opposite coast, news trucks were idling outside the California home of Mildred Patricia Baena, who the world now knows to be the mother of the boy Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted to fathering while she was his family’s housekeeper.

    The harsh scrutiny of Ms. Baena started as soon as her Myspace photos flooded the Internet. She “would never appear on the cover of Maxim magazine,” wrote a blogger on Forbes.com. Several news outlets repeated a report from the gossip Web site TMZ that Ms. Baena had begun to “pursue Arnold” in the late 1990s.

    Yup, it’s blame the victim time!!!

    • Seriously says:

      TMZ is really working overtime demonizing Baena, they’re accusing her of stealing Maria’s jewelry to play dress up, for god’s sake. Poor, powerless Arnold. It’s hardly surprising, they’re one of the few websites to defend Mel Gibson (hey, who cares if he’s an anti-Semite, he’s a hero for smacking that woman into her place!), but honestly.