Monday Reads

Happy Memorial Day!

While this is the usual time to remember America’s war dead from past wars, it’s good to remember that we still have  two wars going on today.  As the saying goes, War is Hell.  The BBC reports that Afghan leaders have put NATO on warning for recent ‘collateral damage’.

The BBC’s Quentin Sommerville said villagers brought their dead children to the governor’s office shouting: “See they aren’t Taliban”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has forcefully condemned the killing of 14 civilians in the south-west of the country in a suspected Nato air strike.

Mr Karzai said his government had repeatedly asked the US to stop raids which end up killing Afghan civilians and this was his “last warning”.

A Nato spokesman said a team had been sent to Helmand province to investigate the attack carried out on Saturday.

Afghan officials say all those killed were women and children.

The strike took place in Nawzad district after a US Marines base came under attack.

The air strike, targeted at insurgents, struck two civilian homes, killing two women and 12 children, reports say.

“The president called this incident a great mistake and the murdering of Afghanistan’s children and women, and on behalf of the Afghan people gives his last warning to the US troops and US officials in this regard,” his office said.

The White House said it shared Mr Karzai’s concerns and took them “very seriously”.

A group from Sera Cala village travelled to Helmand’s capital, Lashkar Gah, bringing with them the bodies of eight dead children, some as young as two years old, says the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville in Kabul.

“See, they aren’t Taliban,” they chanted as the carried the corpses to local journalists and the governor’s mansion.

While insurgents are responsible for most civilian deaths in Afghanistan, the killings of Afghans by foreign soldiers is a source of deepening anger, our correspondent adds.

In other Afghan war news, a Nato commander was injured in Taliban suicide attack in Afghanistan.  This is from the UK Guardian.

A Taliban suicide bomber attacked a provincial governor’s compound in Takhar, killing the police chief of northern Afghanistan and seriously injuring a top Nato commander. Two other Afghan officials were also reported to have died in the attack. Several international servicemen were reported injured by eyewitnesses.

German officials confirmed to Spiegel magazine Major General Markus Kneip, who commands NATO  forces in the north Afghanistan, had received wounds that were “severe” but not life-threatening.

A Nato spokesman in Kabul confirmed western casualties but was unable to provide details.

The Taliban, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for the attack and pledged that “killing high ranking officials will continue.”

Mujeebullah Rahman, the deputy director of the local council in Takhar province, said the attack took place at about 4pm when a meeting to discuss local security operations was ending.

“The bomber was waiting in the corridor, wearing the uniform of an Afghan policeman,” Rahman said.

The attack capped a bloody 48 hours in which seven Americans, two British and two other Nato servicemen were killed by roadside bombs or by insurgents in the south of the country. So far 44 Nato soldiers have been killed this month, and .nearly 200 have died in the year.

While we continue to fund these wars, Republicans are demanding that any relief to tornado-wrecked Joplin Missouri must be offset by spending cuts elsewhere.  Congressman Eric Cantor–house majority leader–has joined in the call first sent out by Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week.  Talk about kicking people when they’re down!

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) continued to stress Sunday that disaster relief funds for tornado-ravaged Missouri would have to be offset in the federal budget with cuts elsewhere.

The House majority leader added on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that there was a certainly a federal role in helping to rebuild Joplin, Mo., and that Congress would move after getting a request from President Obama.

But, he said, the government needs to act in this case like a family who faces an unforeseen expense and has to cut elsewhere.

“Because families don’t have unlimited money,” Cantor said. “And, really, neither does the federal government.”

Cantor began calling for offsets last Monday, the day after the tornado that has killed well over 100 struck Joplin. On Tuesday, a House appropriations subcommittee found a $1.5 billion offset to help finance an aid package.

Somebody needs to remind these guys that the government can raise revenues via taxes for legitimate expenditures.  That’s something families don’t have the ability to do.  There’s also printing money and borrowing money at nearly zero interest via Treasury Auctions. Cantor was honest enough to admit that Medicare played an “undeniable” role in the recent election in NY 2 6.

“It’s undeniable that it played some role in the election. Any time you have one side demagoguing and frankly, accusing the other side in a way that’s not factual of trying to reform the program, certainly that’s going to influence the electorate,” Cantor said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “As far as Medicare is concerned, there’s a simple choice here – either we’re going to save the program or let it go bankrupt.”

Wasserman Schultz, who appeared just after Cantor said, “Coming from the majority leader,” who was one of the “architects” of a 2010 midterm congressional election victory “focused on scaring seniors about what Democrats were doing with Medicare, he would know.”

“What we’re doing is making sure we can prevent Republicans from ending Medicare as we know it,” she said. “That’s what Kathy Hochul ran on leading up to her victory this Tuesday in New York 26.”

Voters were making it clear that they didn’t support the GOP’s budget plan, Wasserman Schultz asserted.

So, I thought I’d offer up some history of Memorial Day for you.  One of the things that I learned moving down here was that much of the south does not really celebrate the holiday and refer to it as a Yankee holiday even though it was supposed to be in remembrance of all civil war dead.  Many southern cities actually claim to have started the holiday.  I guess Mississippi sees things a little different. The holiday originated after the Civil War as “Decoration Day”.  It didn’t become a federal holiday until 1971.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation’s Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to honor the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. On May 5, 1868, Logan declared in General Order No. 11 that:

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

During the first celebration of Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

This 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances of the day in several towns throughout America that had taken place in the three years since the Civil War. In fact, several Northern and Southern cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Miss.; Macon, Ga.; Richmond, Va.; Boalsburg, Pa.; and Carbondale, Ill.

So, it’s not all about mattresses and sales tax holidays!!!  My mother used to tell me that all the relatives would go clean up the family cemeteries on memorial day in Missouri and Kansas.  They would all have huge picnics along with trimming the overgrown bushes or flowers.  We used to continue the tradition when I was very young until most of the cemeteries started using huge mowers and removed all bushes and flowers.  As I recall, we had an ongoing battle in one cemetery with massive and profuse peony bushes.

So, that’s my offering for the day!  Have a really wonderful holiday!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

“Big Wheel” Turning in Texas

You think I am your possession
you´re Messing with a Southern girl

— Tori Amos, “Big Wheel,”
Austin, TX 7/25/09

After reading the headline below, I feel like my Oil Field Girls spotlight last weekend was a bit prescient. When I visualized “all of us brazen little hussies at the grassroots hitching a ride out of our politically regressive environs,” little did I know that just a week later I’d get to tell you about the formation of a bipartisan coalition of Texan women legislators in response to an all new low in the war on women in our state. This is beyond politics and parties. It’s women in government speaking up as individuals, as citizens, speaking for all of us to say, “Enough is enough!”

Via the Houston Chron blog — Prominent House lawmakers create ‘Women’s Caucus’:

“To the Women of the Texas Legislature:

“This legislative session has brought to light the varying attitudes toward women and the issues important to women. We may not agree with each other on every issue, nor should we, but we can agree that we need a forum that facilitates our ability to unite on issues. It is with this sentiment that we are forming the Women’s Caucus.

“We want to create the framework for current and future women legislators to get their messages heard, to seek guidance from experienced leaders, and to unite on issues important to all of us.”

Republican "family values" on display once again

The above was written by Houston representatives Beverly Woolley (R), Senfronia Thompson (D), and Carol Alvarado (D).

Let’s hear it for us Houston chicas!

The letter comes in the aftermath of despicable fliers that were created by the Texas Civil Justice League (the state’s oldest tort reform lobbying group). The fliers made their way around the House chambers last week.

There was another flier that depicted a baby pacifier, but the one that really got the wheel turning is the one that appears here, above to the right.

It shows a child suckling a bare breast, to campaign against what the flier refers to as “Nanny State” amendments to H.B. 2093.

From the bill’s official description:

“Relating to the operation and regulation of certain consolidated insurance programs.”

It’s an insurance bill. It doesn’t have anything to do with scary girl parts… except of course in the fevered imaginations of conservative men.

Note: TCJL president and general counsel E. Lee Parsley sent out an e-mail to the Texas House apologizing for showing “poor judgment” in giving the bare breast flier to someone outside the organization who then distributed it. Parsley claims he had rejected the concept. He didn’t destroy the copies, however. And, he doesn’t appear to have regretted the pacifier ad at all.

Seems like he’s just sorry he got caught. The TCJL has apparently suspended Parsley and communications director Cary Roberts, pending an investigation.

With the damage already done from the distribution of the fliers, Women in the Texas House pushed back.

On Thursday, Rep. Senfronia Thompson–author of H.B. 2093 and dean of women legislators in Texas–delivered an impassioned, righteous protest on the floor (see youtube to the right) which you really need to view if you haven’t already.

From a transcript via a comment at feministing:

“During this legislative session we’ve spent about 30 or 40 percent of our time kicking the reproductive organs of women down the road. And I thought that that was an issue that we had finished and completed.I want to attest to the fact that kicking the women’s can down the road…it’s still being kicked.” –Rep. Thompson

Rep. Carol Alvarado also joined in with a bipartisan group of women behind her:

“We have had almost 50+ amendments or bills come across this floor this session that I think have demeaned women, but this one takes us to an all-time low, would you say that is correct, Ms. Thompson?” –Rep. Alvarado

To which Thompson replied:

It is an all-time low, and I personally tell you this. This is not a technique to get this bill passed or concur, I don’t care if you kill this bill. I want you to remember one thing that I’m saying today: I don’t appreciate this attack on women, I don’t appreciate this flyer! I want to tell you something: I don’t perpetrate violence against somebody, but if they were here I’d probably bloody their nose, right here on this floor, I guarantee you that. And Doctor, I’d have to call you to their aid, and I’m not joking. I would bloody their nose because they have no right to do women this way. And we have not earned this disrespect in this house! We get elected just like you do, and we have not earned this kind of disrespect. I don’t want to tolerate it by anybody! And men, if you don’t stand up for us today, don’t you walk in this chamber tomorrow.

At the end, Tomball representative and tea partier Debbie Riddle called Rep. Thompson a “hero” and then asked an eyebrow-raising question:

“Do you think that this has become standard operating procedure by some because of what goes on in this House with the way some of the men have treated some of the women with pornography on the floor of this House? Do you think that’s why this is acceptable, Miss T?” –Rep. Riddle

Riddle didn’t go any further, but Thompson’s reply to her was really diplomatic and priceless, just like her preceding remarks.

That’s what leadership looks and sounds like.

Turns out that Riddle was talking about an isolated incident of porn on a cellphone. Riddle declined to name the male legislator responsible for said incident.

The Dallas Voice’s Tammye Nash covered Rep. Thompson’s speech as well:

Texas state Rep. Senfronia Thompson — someone I have for whom immense admiration and respect for many reasons, not the least of which is her passionate support of LGBT rights — took a moment of personal privilege today on the House floor to let loose on the Texas Civil Justice League, which distributed fliers targeting Thompson HB 2093 which deals with insurance and contractors. Thompson wasn’t angry that the TCJL opposes her legislation. What made her mad was the photo on the flier: a close up of an breastfeeding infant over which were written the words “Don’t expand the nanny state.”


But it wasn’t just the Texas Civil Justice League that bore the brunt of Thompson’s anger. She also criticized the male members of the House for allowing and even perpetuating an atmosphere of such disrespect toward women to exist in the first place that the flier was even produced in the first place.

The Austin Chronicle calls what’s been going on in the Texas legislature the “Worst. Session. Ever.”:

Well the liberal media now has its sound bites–82nd Leg. most racist and sexist Leg. in history! This whole thing is disgusting! #txlege”

Hey, don’t blame us. We didn’t say it. That was Rep. Jose Aliseda, R-Beeville. But after yesterday’s explosion of porn, infighting and collapsed deals, it may be the best car crash session ever.

The Texas Tribune’s Emily Ramshaw and Kate Galbraith are asking… Is There a Boys Club Under the Pink Dome?:

(pink dome is a reference to our Capitol)

Last session, when then-freshman Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, raised a parliamentary question about a male colleague’s bill, she says he said — growled really — “Don’t talk to me like that, little lady.” A couple of weeks ago, Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, and Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, faced literal catcalls when they got into a heated debate over a payday lending bill. “Meow,” some lawmakers screeched, as the chairman reprimanded the women: “Ladies, please keep this civil.”

Is there sexism in the Texas Legislature?

This week’s flap over a flyer showing an infant nursing at a bare breast — an interest group’s effort to portray an insurance bill as an attempt to help turn Texas into a “nanny state” — has rekindled this age-old discussion.

The current Nanny State flier fiasco reminds former Houston representative Debra Danburg of her efforts to reform Texas rape laws in the eighties and nineties:

When she introduced a bill in the 1980s to strengthen rape laws, she said that some male lawmakers appeared at the back microphone, arguing, “If I can’t rape my wife, who can I rape?”

Ramshaw and Gailbraith also report that some of the men in the Texas House are meeting to “discuss gender issues”:

As for the men, they appear to be making some adjustments in light of the “nanny state” incident. When asked what he meant when he told the lower chamber on Thursday that some male House members would meet to discuss gender issues, Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, joked, “The first rule of fight club is, you don’t talk about fight club.” He confirmed that a bipartisan coalition of male lawmakers is “putting their minds together” to find effective ways to make sure interest groups know such imagery is completely inappropriate — but also to take a closer look at how behavior and discourse on the House floor, which he said sometimes “pushes the line,” is perceived.

“We want [Thompson] to know we have her back,” said Martinez Fischer, who brought his 2-year-old daughter with him onto the House floor on Friday. “She doesn’t need that — she’s the toughest member of the House. But we need to make sure to deter that kind of behavior. And we all have an example to set.”

I hope the daughters of all these male legislators follow in the tradition of Texan feminist muckrakers. Women in Texas are not to be messed with, especially when we join forces together from across both parties. We are not your chattel.

Sunday Reads: Pink Congo…Black and White Cuba

Photo via Flickr, by Chris Blakeley

It is Sunday Morning, and today I will bring you some real interesting reads that I have found during the week.  So drink that cup of coffee and enjoy today’s morning reads.

This week Amnesty International celebrated its 50th birthday. So our first article will highlight the work of an organization that has fought for human rights and freedom of speech throughout the world.  Amnesty International marks 50 years of fighting for free speech | World news | The Observer

Wai Hnin Pwint Thon of Amnesty International

Wai Hnin Pwint Thon of Burma lights a candle during an event to mark 50 years since Amnesty International was formed. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

When she was young, Manya Benenson’s dad told her a story of two frogs that fall into a bucket of cream and swim around and around. The first one gives up and drowns, the second keeps going until he finds his struggles have churned the cream to butter, and he climbs out. As a fable, she said, it could sum up the movement that the late Peter Benenson began in the Observer 50 years ago this weekend.

In London, the…

…celebration was held at the same Trafalgar Square church where Benenson, a bowler-hatted barrister, slipped away from work in 1961 and sat alone to dream up what has become the world’s most renowned human rights organisation.

He had been enraged by reading a newspaper account of the arrest in Portugal of two students, whose crime had been to raise a toast to freedom. Benenson died in 2005 and yesterday his daughter Manya, 35, lit the Amnesty candle, symbolically ringed by barbed wire, in his memory, along with Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, a Burmese refugee whose father is serving a 65-year jail sentence for organising peaceful protests against the military junta in 2007.

Reading this article makes you think of just how much we need people like Benenson who come up with ideas and actually see them through.

To celebrate Amnesty International’s 50th anniversary, the Guardian and the Observer have started a new online series. Every month we will publish news of an ‘urgent action’; that is a current case of human rights abuse that Amnesty would like to draw wider attention to

So be sure to bookmark that link.

I am currently reading a book about war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo written by Jason Stearns. These next two links will give you a glimpse of the Congo like you never have seen it.

Congo: Across the spectrum – in pictures | Art and design | The Guardian

Soldiers’ uniforms turn purple, vegetation magenta … the infrared film used by photographer Richard Mosse forces us to see the conflicts of Congo in different ways

Mosse uses a discontinued infrared film developed by Kodak in the 1940’s to view camouflage in a spectrum that the human eye can’t see. So green grass and trees become various shades of pink…and the uniforms of soldiers turn purple.

Stearns has written an article for The Guardian, where he gives his thoughts about Mosse’s photographs.  Shocking pink | Art and design | The Guardian

Congo Mosse

La Vie En Rose. Photograph: Richard Mosse/Infra

Imagine 5.4 million deaths. It overloads the mind. There is no sliding scale of moral outrage, increasing in direct proportion to human suffering. The indignation we feel at 10 innocent deaths is not magnified 10 times if there are 100 such fatalities. Instead, our heartstrings are more likely to be tugged by a human face, a tragic story.

This has been the curse of the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It’s too complex to craft into a simple narrative. Over the past 15 years, more than 40 different armed groups have fought across a country the size of western Europe. There are no clear heroes and too many villains, no good-guy-v-bad-guy tale to spin. While the number of people who have died is on the same scale as the Cambodian and Rwandan genocides, only around 300,000 were killed; the rest – disproportionately children – perished unsensationally due to disease and hunger caused by the fighting.

Look at that image above, seeing the bright pink of those rolling hills with the purple and lavender hues of the soldiers uniforms, whose machine guns are still a stark black color. A contrast of black metal against a rosy glow of pink.

Richard Mosse’s pictures of Congo draw from a different palette of colours, literally. Using recently discontinued Kodak infrared film, his photographs turn the vegetation of the eastern Congo into jarring magenta, while the soldiers’ uniforms go purple. It feels as if we have fallen down a rabbit hole, into a more surreal space. Congo always felt that way to me, as if the regular colour spectrum, the usual yardsticks we have, do not quite hack it.

Take a look at those photographs. They really are something to see.

This next link is quite extraordinary. It is about two little girls, twins, joined at the head. This condition is called craniopagus, and it is extremely rare. In fact only one in 2.5 million twins have fused skulls, and most do not survive. What is even more strange about these girls, it seems that the thalmus of one sister is connected to the thalmus of the other.  Could Conjoined Twins Share a Mind? –

Krista reached for a cup with a straw in the corner of the crib. “I am drinking really, really, really, really fast,” she announced and started to power-slurp her juice, her face screwed up with the effort. Tatiana was, as always, sitting beside her but not looking at her, and suddenly her eyes went wide. She put her hand right below her sternum, and then she uttered one small word that suggested a world of possibility: “Whoa!”

In any other set of twins, the natural conclusion about the two events — Krista’s drinking, Tatiana’s reaction — would be that they were coincidental: a gulp, a twinge, random simultaneous happenstance. But Krista and Tatiana are not like most other sets of twins. They are connected at their heads, where their skulls merge under a mass of shaggy brown bangs. The girls run and play and go down their backyard slide, but whatever they do, they do together, their heads forever inclined toward each other’s, their neck muscles strong and sinuous from a never-ending workout.

So…when one little sister drinks, the other feels it.  Far out.

You may have heard of those small tunnels that snake their way through the Great Pyramid.  National Geographic did a show on the robots that are used to explore these tunnels which are too small for a human to fit through.  Well, it now looks like they have found red hieroglyphics inside the tunnels. Mysterious markings discovered at Great Pyramid of Giza –

A robot explorer has revealed ancient markings inside a secret chamber at Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza.

A close-up view of the red marks on the floor in the pyramid
A close-up view of the red marks on the floor in the pyramid

The markings, which have lain unseen for 4,500 years, were filmed using a bendy camera small enough to fit through a hole in a stone door at the end of a narrow tunnel.


“The big question is the purpose of these tunnels,” he added. “There are architectural explanations, symbolic explanations, religious explanations — even ones relating to the alignment of the stars — but the final word on them is yet to be written. The challenge is that no human can fit inside these channels so the only way to do this exploration is with robots.”

I wonder what these symbols mean? Could they be an ancient Egyptian form of graffiti?  Does it say Pharaoh Khufu was here?

This article reminds me of a real good movie…Bubba Ho-tep.

Based on the Bram Stoker Award nominee short story by cult author Joe R. Lansdale, Bubba Ho-tep tells the “true” story of what really did become of Elvis Presley. We find Elvis (Bruce Campbell) as an elderly resident in an East Texas rest home, who switched identities with an Elvis impersonator years before his “death”, then missed his chance to switch back. Elvis teams up with Jack (Ossie Davis), a fellow nursing home resident who thinks that he is actually President John F. Kennedy, and the two valiant old codgers sally forth to battle an evil Egyptian entity who has chosen their long-term care facility as his happy hunting grounds.

Bubba Ho-Tep Official Website

It is funny as hell, and damn Bruce Campbell does an awesome job of portraying Elvis…in fact one could say Campbell is Elvis.

One of the great lines in the movie is when Elvis gets testy with a nurse.  She laughs at him and we hear the voice over of Campbell aka Elvis say:

Get old, you can’t even cuss someone and have it bother ’em. Everything you do is either worthless or sadly amusing.

From Minx’s Missing Link File: This is just too dang amazing, check it out.  Electrical Implant Allows Paralyzed Man to Stand and Walk (video) | Singularity Hub

In 2006, Rob Summers was the victim of a hit-and-run. The accident left him completely paralyzed from the chest down–unable, even, to wiggle his toes. But just weeks after beginning a new cutting edge therapy in which researchers electrically stimulated his spinal cord Summers was able to stand on his own, move his hips, knees, ankles and toes, and make stepping motions on a treadmill.

After the training failed, researchers attempted a cutting edge procedure to surgically implant an epidural electrode array over the lumbosacral segments of Summers’ spinal cord. The training sessions resumed, this time while injecting direct electrical current.

It was a breakthrough in rehabilitation therapy.

In the first weeks after surgery Summers could stand on his own, providing the initial lift himself. He can remain standing up to four minutes at a time, and up to an hour with occasional help. After a few months he was able to move his hips, bend his knees, ankles and toes. Today, with the aid of a harness and an occasional helping hand, he can lift and move his feet to make stepping motions on a treadmill.


Easy like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  There are lots of cool things happening in LA this summer, and one of them is a new exhibition at the Getty Museum.  Getty Museum: Cuba in pictures at the Getty Museum – Los Angeles Times

‘A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Walker Evans to Now’ invites viewers to contemplate the country’s many contradictions through a wide array of photographs.

Geez, I wish I could see this exhibit…if any of our readers get a chance to visit the museum, please let us know!

Viewers are invited to contemplate whether the United States’ ferociously effective, decades-long economic embargo, the Cuban government’s misbegotten socialist policies, or some combination is to blame for turning the store, and countless others like it into a ghostly shell. Similar questions and Cuba’s many contradictions — physical beauty and stark impoverishment, political ideals and Cold War debacles, tragic failure and boundless potential — arise repeatedly in the exhibition, whose works span the early 1930s to the present.

“Part of what we wanted to do was to show people various sides of what Cuba is like now, because there is such a myth about not only its history but its current state of affairs,” says Judith Keller, the Getty’s senior curator of photographs.

“I think it’s the contradiction of the great potential you see in the people,” continues Keller, who visited Cuba last year with the exhibition’s co-curator, Brett Abbott, curator of photography at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. “There literally is music on every block and people being very productive and trying to patch up their housing. But at the same time the place is crumbling, and there is no food in the shops.”

Looks like a lot of events are going on in connection with the show.

The Getty’s show, which runs through Oct. 2, is one of L.A.’s opening salvos in a months-long cultural salute to the island nation that’s taking place on both U.S. coasts this year. Upcoming happenings include a display of Cuban film posters at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, performances by the Ballet Nacional de Cuba in Costa Mesa and Los Angeles, a spotlight on contemporary Cuban cinema at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and an Aug. 24 Hollywood Bowl concert headlined by the Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club.

Here is a direct link to the museum:

A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Evans to Now (Getty Center Exhibitions)

Cuba’s attempt to forge an independent state has been a project under development for more than 100 years and a source of fascination for nations, intellectuals, and artists alike.

A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Walker Evans to Now looks at three critical periods in the nation’s history as witnessed by photographers before, during, and after the country’s 1959 Revolution. The exhibition juxtaposes Walker Evans’s 1933 images from the end of the Machado dictatorship with views by contemporary foreign photographers Virginia Beahan, Alex Harris, and Alexey Titarenko, who have explored Cuba since the withdrawal of Soviet support in the 1990s.

A third section bridging these two eras presents pictures by Cuban photographers who participated in the 1959 Revolution, including Alberto Korda, Perfecto Romero, and Osvaldo Salas.

There is a PDF file that has small images of the exhibition that you can download here.

For a schedule of events: A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Evans to Now / Events (Getty Center Exhibitions)

Hope you have a relaxing day… my mom, my daughter and her friend and I will be having a “coochie” day.  This is what my daughter would call all female outings when she was in pre-school. (She would say, no “dingies” allowed…  Cute huh?)  We are going to the mall. It is an all day event for us, the mall is over 95 miles away from Banjoville.

So, post some links in the comments…what you reading and thinking about today?

Late Late Night: Belated Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan

It’s a little late, but since it’s so dead around here this weekend, I thought I’d post a tribute to the great Bob Dylan who turned 70 on Tuesday. I began listening to his music when I was in high school. Dylan helped me survive my teen years. I’ll never forget the first time I heard “Like a Rolling Stone” in 1965. It was amazing. It was the first time I ever heard such a long song played on the radio–6 minutes! And it was Dylan singing rock ‘n’ roll! Of course purist folk fans were outraged when he switched to electric, but he always went his own way.

Here’s a little history from Wikipedia:

“Like a Rolling Stone” is a 1965 song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Its confrontational lyrics originate in an extended piece of verse Dylan wrote in June 1965, when he returned exhausted from a grueling tour of England. After the lyrics were heavily edited, “Like a Rolling Stone” was recorded a few weeks later as part of the sessions for the forthcoming album Highway 61 Revisited. During a difficult two-day pre-production, Dylan struggled to find the essence of the song, which was demoed without success in 3/4 time. A breakthrough was made when it was tried in a rock music format, and rookie session musician Al Kooper improvised the organ riff for which the track is known. However, Columbia Records was unhappy with both the song’s length at over six minutes and its heavy electric sound, and was hesitant to release it. It was only when a month later a copy was leaked to a new popular music club and heard by influential DJs that the song was put out as a single. Although radio stations were reluctant to play such a long track, “Like a Rolling Stone” reached number two in the US charts and became a worldwide hit.

The track has been described as revolutionary in its combination of different musical elements, the youthful, cynical sound of Dylan’s voice, and the directness of the question in the chorus: “How does it feel?”. “Like a Rolling Stone” transformed Dylan’s career and is today considered one of the most influential compositions in post-war popular music and has since its release been both a music industry and popular culture milestone which elevated Dylan’s image to iconic.





Happy Birthday, Bob! At his age, we get to celebrate a birthday for more than one day. Feel free to post your favorite Dylan tunes, covers are okay too!


Late Night Outrage: War on Women’s Health

We’ve been watching state after state wage a coordinated war against women.  Here’s a summary of this year’s assault on women’s health by NYT’s Emily Bazelon. Women better wake up and smell the threat to their right to self-determination.

Ever since Republicans took control of half the country’s statehouses this year, the anti-abortion movement has won one victory after another. At least 64 new anti-abortion laws have passed, with more than 30 of them in April alone. The campaign is the largest in history and also the most creative. Virginia started regulating abortion clinics as if they were hospitals. Utah, Nebraska and several other states have stopped private health insurers from covering abortions, with rare exceptions. South Dakota will soon tell women that before they go to an abortion clinic, they must first visit a crisis pregnancy center whose mission is to talk them out of it.

It’s amazing to me that after 8 years of Republican focus on the war on Terror, their focus turns towards turning the clock back decades for American women.  What is behind these reactionaries?  What is fueling the fantancism?  Why have they suddenly switched strategies?

Instead, lawyers representing their side have been challenging the laws that hurt women most — which are also the ones most likely to sway public opinion back to their side. Can it really be good politics for a state to tell private health insurers what kind of coverage for women’s health they can and can’t provide? Or to take away the money that allows Planned Parenthood to prescribe birth control and treat S.T.D.’s? Quinnipiac and CNN polls from earlier this year both found majority support for continuing government financing of Planned Parenthood. There’s also a clear argument against laws like the ones that permit Virginia to regulate abortion clinics like hospitals or that allow Louisiana to immediately close an abortion clinic for any technical rule violation. In making early abortions more burdensome and costly, these laws take aim at the ordinary version of the procedure that women experience and for which support is greatest. In a 2007 poll, Gallup found that twice as many people favor making late-term abortion illegal than favor overturning Roe (72 percent versus 35 percent).

Abortion rights advocates are also trying to prevent South Dakota from mandating that women wait a full 72 hours for an abortion. This comes on the heels of a lawsuit that challenges the requirement that mandatory counseling include the claim that abortion is linked to an increased risk of suicide (there is no reliable evidence to support this). In Casey, the Supreme Court allowed states to impose only a 24-hour waiting period and to require counseling that accurately explained the stages of fetal development. The South Dakota law is far out enough that when I asked Yoest about it, she said only, “That’s not one of our pieces of legislation.” If the battle reaches the Supreme Court, there’s presumably little chance that Justice Kennedy would sign off on requiring doctors to read a script of made-up data posing as facts.

These are precisely the kinds of cases that lawyers in support of reproductive rights should pursue, because they portray abortion foes as radical. The South Dakota fight shows that in the name of protecting women, abortion opponents are willing to demean them — by forcing them to visit a crisis pregnancy center and listen to unsupported medical claims. (According to a 2006 Congressional investigation, most of these centers give out inaccurate information about abortion’s health effects.)

At this point, there seems to be no organized women’s movement to get us off the defensive and put us back on the offensive.  Religious activists have worked hard to ensure that nearly all Republican candidates are not pro-choice.  The entire Republican contingent in the U.S. House of Representatives from a solid anti-choice block.  It’s time for those of us that support a women’s right to make a decision regarding her own body to go on the offensive.  We need to recruit and support more pro-choice candidates.