Sunday Reads: The phrase “brain-eating” never makes a good headline…

French Chocolate Poster, 1898

Good Sunday Morning!

Ah, hope everyone is having a magnificent weekend.  Yesterday, Wonk the Vote served up two awesome posts…here and here, if you missed them. Also, Boston Boomer wrote a quick post about the Obama bullshit remark that 60 Minutes cut from their interview with, “the 4th best American president…evah.”

Well, here is my offering this morning, just one more week until the 25th of December, and like something out of a Dickens’ nightmare…the powers that be are once again sticking it to the poor.  Congress Cuts Winter Heating Aid For The Poor While Boosting The Defense Budget

Congress reached a deal Thursday to avert a shutdown that would have begun at midnight tonight, and in doing so, Republicans found another low-income program to target, cutting funding for subsidies that help the poor stay warm during the winter by nearly 25 percent. At the same time, however, the Pentagon’s budget is getting a 1 percent boost, as the Associated Press noted:

Highlights of the $1 trillion-plus 2012 spending legislation in Congress:

—$518 billion for the Pentagon’s core budget, a 1 percent boost, excluding military operations overseas. […]

—$3.5 billion for low-income heating and utility subsidies, a cut of about 25 percent.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has become increasingly vital for American families affected by the recession, and it is utilized more and more by military families. One of every five families using LIHEAP is a military family, a 156 percent increase from 2008. Congress, however, decided to cut that program to give a boost to a budget that already makes up 20 percent of the country’s total budget and has been spared in multiple spending agreements this year (the super committee trigger a notable exception).

Plenty of evidence exists that Congress should be focused on investing into programs that boost economic growth and job creation, rather than chasing fiscal austerity toward another recession. If it insists on cutting spending to deal with the deficit now, however, the least it could do is not take the knife to each and every program that helps the poor.

Can you hear these rich congress critters, telling people like Mr. Cratchit what a waistcoat and jacket are used for… “Garments, used for protection against cold.” It is really a sad situation, at least some folks are doing good this holiday season, good as in good deeds.  Saturday, at the Walmart where my husband works, someone came in and paid off some lay-aways, then they went just up the road to another Walmart in Ellijay and did the same, $5000 worth at the Ellijay store alone!

In Louisiana, another person has falling victim to a “Brain Eating” amoeba from using a Neti Pot.

Louisiana state health officials are warning patients about potential dangers of using tap water in the sinus-irrigating neti pot after two patients died of Naegleria fowleri infection.

N. fowleri is known as a “brain-eating” amoeba because it can enter a patient’s nose, infect the brain, and cause primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a brain-tissue destroying condition.

The first Louisiana patient died of neti pot-induced infection in June.


Patients that irrigate their noses with a neti pot should use distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water, Raoult Ratard, MD, a Louisiana state epidemiologist, said in the statement. He noted that tap water was safe to drink, but may not be safe for nasal cleansing.

Uh, safe to drink? Makes me wonder how safe it is period…the CDC is working with Louisiana officials on an investigation as to how these N.fowleri are getting into the municipal water supply.

In other US news, some may have missed this article from Mother Jones, No Country for Innocent Men:

“Dear Mr. Cole,” the letter began. “My name is Jerry Wayne Johnson. I’m presently a Texas prisoner. You may recall my name from your 1986 rape trial in Lubbock.”

Ruby Session was shaking as she read on. The year was 2007, and the letter was addressed to her son Timothy Cole. “I have been trying to locate you since 1995 to tell you I wish to confess I did in fact commit the rape Lubbock wrongly convicted you of.”

Ruby sat down, stood up. A picture of Tim in a tuxedo, taken at his junior prom, smiled from the mantle. Before his trial the prosecutor had offered him a deal to plead to lesser charges. “Mother,” Tim had said, “I am not pleading guilty to something I didn’t do.” He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Thirteen years later, he died behind bars.

All I can do is give you these first opening paragraphs, you need to read the entire article…words cannot express the sadness and injustice…Rick Perry must be an evil person to be able to sleep so soundly at night.

I’m going to turn to global news for a bit, the latest numbers of missing and dead from the typhoon that struck the Philippines is over 500.

The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) estimated 497 were killed in eight provinces in the southern Mindanao region, with more than 100 still missing.

“It’s difficult to be certain on those missing,” Gwendolyn Pang, secretary-general of the PNRC, told Reuters. “The floods washed out whole houses and families inside. It’s possible entire families are dead and no one is reporting them missing.”

The latest report by the state disaster agency said 327 people had been killed and 274 were missing.

Stories of a wall of water washing away everything are now being reported. Philippines floods: victims tell of panic as wall of water hit cities

Devastating flash floods have drowned hundreds of people in their beds in two southern Philippine cities. Twelve hours of heavy rain from a tropical storm swelled rivers and sent walls of water crashing into homes in the Mindanao region late on Friday night, wiping out whole families, many of whom had been at Christmas parties.

I wanted to write about this next link which was published on Friday, but could not bring myself to do it.  It is still too disturbing, so I will just give you the title and the heading, you can read it if you want…or skip it until later.

Tens of thousands of children abused in Dutch Catholic institutions, report says

Eight hundred Catholic clergy and church employees were guilty of abusing children over 40 years, a commission reports

An 1,100-page report from a commission led by a former education minister and Christian Democrat leader said it could identify 800 Catholic clergy and other church employees guilty of sexually abusing children in the 40 years from 1945 and that more than 100 perpetrators were still alive.

Okay, here are a couple of links about the mistreatment of women…no surprises here:


Female prisoners around the world are being subjected to body cavity searches, beatings and force-feeding, are held in padded cells, shackled during childbirth, and made to work in chain gangs. Some of the worst conditions are in developing countries, but there are also serious abuses and overcrowding in Europe and North America. These are the major findings of a survey by The Independent on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of United Nations rules governing the treatment of women in prison.


In a scene that could have been lifted from Montgomery, Alabama in the 1950s, a public bus was halted in Israel on Friday when an ultra-Orthodox man boarded and demanded that Tanya Rosenblit, commuting to Jerusalem for work, get up and move to the rear.

She refused, at which point the offending man told the bus driver that “it was his right to have her sit in the back and that he had paid to be able to do so.” He then pried open the doors, refusing to allow the bus to continue, at which point the driver called police.

When an officer arrived and approached Rosenblit, his first words weren’t empathic notes of comfort, nor were they chagrined articulations of an apology. Instead, the officer asked if she might, you know, respect the man’s wishes and move to the back.

In a Facebook post chronicling the ordeal, Rosenblit responded unequivocally:

I answered that I respected them enough by wearing modest cloths, because I knew I was going to an Orthodox neighborhood, but I wouldn’t be humiliated by those who can’t even respect their own mothers and wives.

Love that comment about respect, or lack thereof, for the wives and mothers.
This past week academia and women everywhere lost a powerful voice for women’s equality within the Jewish faith, Paula E. Hyman, Who Sought Rights for Women in Judaism, Dies at 65

Paula E. Hyman, a social historian who pioneered the study of women in Jewish life and became an influential advocate for women’s equality in Jewish religious practice, including their ordination as rabbis, died on Thursday at her home in New Haven. She was 65.

Michael Marsland/Yale University

Paula E. Hyman was an author and a social historian at Yale.

The cause was breast cancer, said her husband, Dr. Stanley Rosenbaum.

Dr. Hyman, a professor of modern Jewish history at Yale University, wrote 10 books about the Jewish experience in Europe and the United States, many of them focused on women’s roles in various communities before and after the immense Jewish migrations of the 19th and 20th centuries.

She spotlighted the special stresses confronting married Jewish women from Eastern Europe when they arrived in the United States, for instance: although they were used to working outside the home, even as primary breadwinners in some ultrareligious families, they were initially housebound in America, where custom placed married women in the home.

In her books Dr. Hyman chronicled how married Jewish women from Eastern and Western Europe overcame such customs to become full partners in family businesses, a major part of the New York garment work force and leaders of successful community protests like the Lower East Side kosher meat boycott of 1902 and the New York rent strike of 1907.

Her works are considered seminal in creating a new field of historical study — part women’s history, part Jewish history, part history of immigration in America.

I thought the story about Tanya Rosenblit connected in some sad way to the death of Paula E. Hyman, in that the conflicted cultural/religious standards which Rosenblit experienced by refusing to sit in the back of the bus are the same kind of conservative customs Hyman wrote about and studied…women having to overcome this “exclusion” of women in the Orthodox and Conservative branches of the Jewish denominations.

Influenced by the feminist movement of the 1960s, Dr. Hyman sought to apply “consciousness raising” principles to Jewish traditions that, in her view, made women second-class members of their own cultural communities, said Martha Ackelsberg, a fellow Columbia graduate student and now a professor of government at Smith College. Dr. Hyman organized discussion groups that evolved into the organization Ezrat Nashim (“Women’s Help”), which conceived and presented the “Call for Change.”

We all remember the images of Hillary Clinton that had been wiped out by an Orthodox Jewish newspaper published in NYC…the struggle is ongoing, and it seems like whether it is Jewish, Christian or Muslim…there are many religions out there that treat women as second class citizens.

I just mention the three big ones…but it goes without saying there are many, many religions that demean, degrade and disparage the status of women. And no matter what advances we make in this world, I don’t see these insulting “exclusions” of women fading at all. It may sound disheartening, but I feel that we will never get the true respect and admiration women deserve, there will always be an underlying thread of sexism masked in religious and cultural beliefs.

All right, now I’m going to move on to some lighter “stuff.”

From Minx’s Missing Link File:  You may have heard that Roger Ebert’s show is no longer being produced. However, he is very active in his blog for the Chicago Sun-Times and this post, from December 15th  is his list of The Best Films of 2011.

Making lists is not my favorite occupation. They inevitably inspire only reader complaints. Not once have I ever heard from a reader that my list was just fine, and they liked it. Yet an annual Best Ten list is apparently a statutory obligation for movie critics.

My best guess is that between six and ten of these movies won’t be familiar. Those are the most useful titles for you, instead of an ordering of movies you already know all about.

One recent year I committed the outrage of listing 20 movies in alphabetical order. What an uproar! Here are my top 20 films, in order of approximate preference.

Take a look at his obligating list of favorite 2011 flicks…I’ll be honest, I haven’t even seen many of them.  (In fact the only one I sat through was the Harry Potter, and that was because I took the kids to see it.) We don’t really get these other kind of films shown here in Banjoville…but I am looking forward to seeing Hugo and The Artist at some point.

And now for your Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  With such a downer of a post, I have to bring it up and end it with something funny.   On The Fourth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me: The Twelve Days Of Conservative Movement Christmas

There is a video at the link but I prefer reading the lyrics to this time honored classic Christmas song:

On the first day of Christmas the dummies gave to me
A Kenyan in the Presidency.

On the second day of Christmas the dummies gave to me
Two squawking Bachmanns.
And a Muslim in the Presidency.

On the third day of Christmas the dummies gave to me
Three Fox News Hosts,
Two squawking Bachmanns ,
And a racist in the Presidency

On the Fourth Day of Christmas the dummies gave to me
Four Blackboard Truths,
Three Fox News Hosts,
Two Sausage Munchers,
And a liberal in the Presidency.

On the fifth day of Christmas the dummies gave to me
Five Tea Parties,
Four Blackboard Truths,
Three Fox Nudes,
Twenty Three Bachmann kids,
And the most radical president in our history.

On the sixth day of Christmas the dummies gave to me
Six Newts a Laying,
Five Golden Boehners,
Four Blackboard Truths,
Three Fox Nuts,
Two more years of Bachmann,
And a gangster in the Presidency.

On the seventh Day of Christmas those dummies gave to me
Seven puppets thinking,
Six Cains a Laying,
Five prayers for Rain,
Four Egyptian caliphates,
Three Fox Frauds,
Two Doctor Pauls,
And a Hussein in the presidency.

On the eighth day of Christmas the dummies gave to me
Eight Malkins clucking,
Seven Puppets writing,
Six Newts a laying,
Five Death Panels ,
Four Blackboard Truths,
Three Fox & Friends,
Two Suckers Koch,
And a secular socialist presidency.

On the ninth day of Christmas the dummies gave to me
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight Coulters Braying,
Seven Puppets Marching,
Six Newts a lying,
Five Santorum smears,
Four Blackboard Truths,
Three Chicken Littles,
Two squawking Bachmanns,
And an elite in the presidency.

On the tenth day of Christmas the dummies gave to me
Ten Becks a weeping,
Nine Sarah’s Tweeting,
Eight Breiberts Baaaing,
Seven Palins drowning,
Six Newts a lobbying,
Five Months No Rain,
Four Blackboard Truths,
Three Fox Freakouts,
Two squawking Bachmanns,
And a liberation theologist ushering in the secular socialist agenda presidency.

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas the dummies gave to me
Eleven Government takeovers,
Ten Becks turrets,
Nine Palin coining,
Eight Cows a Mooin’,
Seven puppet staring,
Six Newts a laughing,
Five Nuts on Stage,
Four Blackboard Truths,
Three Dummy Hosts,
Two Squawking Bachmanns,
And a Kind of a dick in the Presidency.

On the twelfth day of Christmas the dummies gave to me
Twelve dummies dumbing down down down down down down down down the electorate.
Eleven Pipelines piping,
Ten Becks a Weeping,
Nine Rogues a goin’,
Eight Armageddons,
Seven wasteful spending,
Six Newts advising,
One Donald Trump,
Four Blackboard Truths,
Three f**ing dolts,
Two squawking Bachmanns,
And a Freedom hater who will take your guns and put you in FEMA camps (unless you buy gold right now) in the Presidency.

Have a wonderful day, and please let us know what things you are reading and thinking about today.

30 Comments on “Sunday Reads: The phrase “brain-eating” never makes a good headline…”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    Oh this is horrific: Woman Burned Alive in Brooklyn Elevator –

    The surveillance video, its images disturbingly clear, ends with a woman being burned alive in the elevator of a Brooklyn apartment building on Saturday.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    In the year 2011 you are still unable to mention the insidiousness of religious propaganda without being accused of being “anti religious” even when it is crammed down your throat and it keeps finding its way into secular law. The mistreatment of women is tolerated simply because of intolerance first and foremost.

    Women unable to choose their own destiny. Women clothed in beekeeper suits. Women being told to “go to the back of the bus”. Women’s healthcare placed in jeopardy over some yahoo’s religious views. Women beheaded for being raped. Women jailed for showing an ankle. The basis for these “laws” springs forth from religion.

    Tolerating the intolerent invites intolerance overall. Until we are willing to give up that view we will always and forever be “fighting the fight” as women since it is steeped in some form of religious fanaticism that judges women as inferior who need to be kept in place.

    In truth, we haven’t made all that much progress over the centuries since right here on our own shores the effort is being made once again to restrict our rights and it doesn’t take a genius to recognize that much of these actions are based on somebody’s religious views that have nothing to do with democracy.

    • Delphyne says:

      Terrific comment, Pat and I agree with every last word of it. Thanks for putting it so eloquently.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Thank you for this comment Pat…

    • quixote says:

      Exactly. Like this bit: “…Jewish traditions that, in her view, made women second-class members…” What’s this “in her view”? It’s in plain view in Jewish religious texts, people are told to sit at the backs of buses, but it’s “in her view” according to whoever wrote that? That’s a real “Some say the wrold is flat” moment.

      What’s it going to take for the realization that people may be equal, but rights aren’t. For instance, if religion trumps everything, then what’s to stop my religion from declaring your religion a capital offense? Religious freedom is a dependent right. It has to come after rights to freedom of movement and speech, or the right to religious freedom itself becomes meaningless. (I have whole rants on this here and here, if you’re curious as to how it could make sense. :D)

      Or we can keep using “rights” to pretend some people are really breeding stock. Oh, wait. They’re not actually pretending to do that, are they?

  3. jawbone says:

    Republicans got such mileage out calling medical review panels “death panels” during the debate over Obama’s health isurance profit protection legislation (aka ACA).

    I wonder who will be on the “death panels” which decide which poor and low income people will not get heating assitance? This will kill off people in the nothern climes, but, of course, heat kills as well. Are the Southern states going to set up their “death panels” to decide which elderly will survive by having AC and which will be consigned to the Hurry Up and Die pile?

    But, make no mistake, such decisions will be death sentences for some of those cut off from assistance.

    What a sick, sad joke: American Dream morphs into American Nightmare.

  4. jawbone says:

    Just emailed the Ebert link to my brother and SIL, who a really get a lot of use out of their Netflix subscription. (Just remembered I left off the URL. Oooops.)

  5. Beata says:

    Vaclav Havel, the Czech human rights leader, politician, and playwright, has died at age 75. One of my heroes. R.I.P.

  6. ralphb says:

    Ebert’s list sound like wonderful films. Should be a good year for a Netflix subscription.

    The case of the innocent man in TX was really horrible but not that uncommon. About three months ago a man was exonerated for the murder of his wife, via DNA on the murder weapon, after spending close to 20 years in prison. This case was in the town I reside in and, when the facts came out, it was obvious he was convicted on no evidence at all. The current district attorney called it prosecutorial misconduct and is going after it hammer and tong. I wish him great success.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      I tell you Ralph, the attitude of these people in authority of the legal, prisons and parole systems in Texas is frightening. Its good to hear that someone is going after the prosecution in some of these matters.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Excellent roundup, MInx. Thank you. I don’t have much energy to surf around at the moment, but now I feel caught up on current events.

  8. jawbone says:

    OT, but I see Salon has a new log in regimen — or something. And I can’t figure out how to make my old log in work. The FAQ section said a “Join Now” should come up, but I haven’t been able to get to it.

    Did anyone here make the change successfully? (BTW, I don’t do Facebook, and I tried to use Google’s log in and got terminally bollixed up, so have ever since then left that alone.)

    Thanks for any help!

    • quixote says:

      Depending how you use Salon, this fix may not work for you. If you use Firefox (don’t know if Chrome has an equivalent. IE and Safari do not.) and use the “Noscript” extension, then you can bypass that whole BS.

      After Noscript is installed, be sure to change the default, under Options, General tab, to “Temporarily allow top level domains” and check the last option “Base 2nd level domains.” Otherwise too many scripts get blocked. But on Salon, mouse over the Nocript icon in your staus bar (or wherever it is), and select “forbid” End of stupid login BS.

  9. bostonboomer says:

    The “president’s limited negotiating skills” are responsible for the lousy deal on the pipeline and taxing the wealthy to help the poor, according to The Hill.

    • ralphb says:

      Obama is a lousy negotiator but this is pure BS. There were 14 Dem Senators who supported the Keystone XL pipeline part of the bill. It looks to me like his only option would be to veto it. Maybe he should have but tying him to Keystone via the GOP House is bogus.

      House Republicans forced the White House to swallow language forcing Obama to make a decision in 60 days on approving development of the oil sands pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast.

    • ralphb says:

      Another story from The Hill today. You just can’t believe a word you read about politics these days.

      White House backs Senate payroll bill over House objections

      The Senate bill merely requires a faster decision, and the State Department, which is in charge of review, has said the 60-day timeline would virtually guarantee that the permit is not granted.

      Sperling said Obama would have rejected a provision to “mandate or force him to accept the Keystone permit when there was not adequate time to do a health and safety and environmental review.”

      “Nothing in this bill mandates the president to do that,” he said. “Whether wise or not, this did not go against his veto threat or his core principle of making sure that we do not see taxes going up on 160 million Americans when the economy still needs to strengthen much further.”

    • northwestrain says:

      Similar smiles to the NYC cops when pulling women across the street by their hair. At one point in the video two cops were pulling the same woman in different directions.

      Misogynous behavior/actions — it is a global epidemic.

      Women are worse off in Iraq NOW than before GWB went to war. In Egypt — no change for women —

      When countless women nearly world wide are being murdered for the crime of being female — women aren’t safe anywhere.

      And the US has a dumb ass Prez who hates women.

      • northwestrain says:

        According to conservative dimwit bloggers — what happens to protesters in overseas countries (especially the women in the story) is real abuse and real torture — whereas what ever the cops do the OWS protesters doesn’t count. Because in the US cops are above the law — cause they probably talk to god.

        Cops and soldiers misusing their power and authority — no matter the degree of their abuse is still wrong and the cops should be held to the same laws as civilians.

  10. Love the French chocolate poster! The roundup as always…superb.