Sunday Reads: Happy Birthday Sebastian!

Good Morning!

My very good friend Jessica is having a birthday party for her little boy who turns four years old today…I wanted to share with you all something Jess wrote about her son…

Alas I have tried to halt time with my super awesome Mom powers, but to my dismay is has not been a success. My darlin booger will be four in a matter of hours. I can see him getting taller and the wheels and gears turning in that smart brain of his.

Happy Birthday Sebastian. Have awesome fun will all your friends tomorrow at your party. You are everything a momma could ask for and more. Love you, mommy.

Isn’t that wonderful?

Funny how there are some people you meet in life that no matter what length of time passes, you can just connect like you never were apart. That is the kind of friend Jessica is…I love and treasure my friends that are special in that way, I feel so fortunate to have this bond and quiet understanding…

No matter if we live on a sunny coast of Florida, in the land of corn or in the backwood mountains of Banjoville…we are never too far apart in our hearts.

I know it is a strange way to start a post, and a bit heavy on the sentiment, but the Earth keeps spinning in its own little portion of the universe…and during those years we have on this planet, it is important to live and to be passionate about what you feel is right.

Jess has fallen asleep while trying to get the birthday boy to bed, so while she lies resting next to that little booger, I sit here writing this post…and I smile.

The world is still turning, and soon it will spin on a new morning…and a little boy will celebrate his fourth birthday.

Happy Birthday Bastian…enjoy your wonderful special day.

The Sunday news round-up begins after the jump.

Today marks one year since the Japan earthquake and tsunami. There are many news links on this story, so I will just list several for you to look at.

Japan marks one year since quake and tsunami disaster

Services held to remember the earthquake and tsunami which killed thousands and left communities devastated one year ago.

Japan tsunami: the recovery, one year on

Press agencies have been gathering pictures from some of the worst-hit areas of Japan showing how communities are slowly repairing their towns. In a series of montages they have combined pictures taken during or just after the tsunami hit, with images taken up to a year later. Photographs: AP, AFP, Getty

Emperor Prays, Trains Stop as Japan Remembers 3/11 Disaster

Japan’s Emperor will lead millions of the country’s citizens in prayers and remembrances today for the more than 19,000 killed or lost in the quake and tsunami that struck at 2:46 p.m. one year ago. Some train services in Tokyo will halt temporarily as part of the memorial.

Japan Marks One-Year Anniversary of March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami


Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

People hang paper cranes designed as prayers for the souls of victims of the March 11 tsunami disaster in Minamisanriku, Miyagi prefecture on Saturday.

Japan mourns; grapples with tsunami aftermath

With a moment of silence, prayers and anti-nuclear rallies, Japan marked on Sunday one year since an earthquake and tsunami killed thousands and set off a radiation crisis that shattered public trust in atomic power and the nation’s leaders.

Japan Tsunami: Country Marks One-Year Anniversary Of Disaster

The image I think of when I remember that day a year ago is this one:

It is a picture of a panda hugging one of the workers who take care of the animals at the zoo’s panda exhibit on the day of the earthquake.

Japan Earthquake Anniversary: Photos From Before And After Tsunami Show Destruction (PHOTOS)

The devastation caused by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011, cannot be overstated; the 9.0-magnitude quake created scenes cut from disaster films, but with real-world consequences. CNN reports that 30-foot walls of water took everything in their paths, from rice fields to reinforced buildings.

Roads cracked like porcelain, cars were tossed like toys, and hundreds were killed in an instant. The destructive force of last year’s disaster lingers a year later.

“This is the kind of earthquake that hits once every 100 years,” restaurant worker Akira Tanaka told the BBC.

More information about the tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster slowly has trickled out, with orphaned photos still finding their way home, and secret reports about the lack of preparation for a nuclear disaster painting a grave portrait. As the fallout continues, California prepares itself for the tsunami debris to reach its coasts.

I remember those news articles and photographs from the first anniversary of the Tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean in 2004.  Do you remember them?

After the Tsunami – Special Reports from

The Deadliest Tsunami in History?

I want to move on to something a little lighter. This also is a Weekend for Extraordinary Women…So for some uplifting stories check these out.

Women in the World – The Daily Beast

A Weekend of Extraordinary Women
From Hillary Clinton and Meryl Streep to IMF chief Christine Lagarde and Nobel winner Leymah Gbowee, complete coverage of our 2012 summit.

More from The Daily Beast:


150 Women Who Shake the World

They’re starting revolutions, opening schools, and fostering a brave new generation. From Detroit to Kabul, these women are making their voices heard.

I have purposely avoided any news on the GOP campaign this weekend…so here are a couple of articles on the clown show:

Santorum Easily Wins Caucuses in Kansas

Romney claims victory in Guam, Northern Marianas

I just don’t have the energy to find any more links for you about these nuts…we’ll just leave it at that.

From Minx’s Missing Link File:  Let’s get back to the subject of women, extraordinary women…The women behind the Oscar

KARACHI: Behind the glamour of Pakistan on the Academy Awards red carpet and the outpouring of excitement on television, Twitter and Facebook lies the bravery of the female subjects of Saving Face, who have to keep a low profile for their own security.

This is a story about brave, courageous women. Give that a few minutes of time to read about what these women went through and the strength needed to bring their experiences to the screen.

Easy like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: I’m sticking with the women…this time a story about a photojournalist turning art into activism.  Leslie Thomas and Art Works Projects

Leslie Thomas wants to shock you. She wants to anger you. And above all, she wants you to do something.

She’s not talking about run-of-the-mill, “Hey buddy, watch your step” angry or TMZ sleaze shock. She’s talking about the great humanitarian and social crises of our time, like in Darfur, Afghanistan or Myanmar. And yes, she’s talking to you.

Ms. Thomas,  an architect turned activist,  is the founder of Art Works Projects, which uses photography to raise awareness of human rights concerns and spur action. Over the last five years it has mounted exhibitions and presented large-scale public slide projections on various themes. It has now published a book of images with accompanying posters and curriculums on the lives of women in Afghanistan. A wide-ranging retrospective opens in Slovenia on Tuesday.

“My goal is to be the most emotionally manipulative person possible,” she said, candidly. “Then I want to forge an emotional connection and get you to call or write and do something.”

Take a look at those photographs, and read more about the Art Works Projects.

Yes, it is a wonderful world…but there are far too many people suffering in it.

Remember what I wrote up top about being passionate about what you think is right…these few stories should give you a chance to think about what you feel passionate about…and maybe give you a reason to be active in the community, whether it be local or via the world-wide web, participate and make a difference.

We gotta do it for kids like Sebastian, who are just beginning to understand the world around them.

34 Comments on “Sunday Reads: Happy Birthday Sebastian!”

  1. The Rock says:

    Funny how there are some people you meet in life that no matter what length of time passes, you can just connect like you never were apart. That is the kind of friend Jessica is…I love and treasure my friends that are special in that way, I feel so fortunate to have this bond and quiet understanding.

    Thanks for starting the post off with that heartfelt sentiment 🙂

    I actually got around my jobs firewall and got to listen to Hillary’s entire speech at the Women in the World event. I cursed the American electorate for not voting her in while I listened to her speak. But as she always says, keep working, keep fighting, keep pushing, don’t be discouraged.

    Looks like the Isrealis have come to the painful realization that they have been backstabbed by this administration.

    In news from home, Boko Haram is our version of the extreme extremists, but they really don’t kidnap. They just kill…

    I don’t always get to post these days, so today is like desert. Hope everyone has a great day!

    Hillary 2012

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Rock I am so glad you stopped by, I’m glad you liked the story about my friend and her little boy.

      In news from home, Boko Haram is our version of the extreme extremists, but they really don’t kidnap. They just kill…

      This is a chilling statement…

      Hope you have a great day too.

    • ralphb says:

      Hi Rock, I watched Meryl Streep’s introduction and Hillary’s speech live as well. It was very moving and you’re so right about what the country missed.

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    There is news out of Afghanistan that is horrible…American Is Held After Shooting of Civilians in Afghanistan –

    A United States service member walked out of a military base in a rural district of southern Afghanistan on Sunday and opened fire on three nearby houses, killing at least 15 civilians, local villagers and provincial officials said.

    The shooting risks further inciting anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan and troubling a relationship that had already been brought to a new low by the burning of Korans at an American military base last month. The American embassy in Afghanistan quickly issued a statement on Sunday urging calm.

    The NATO-led coalition said in a statement on Sunday that a United States service member had been detained after an incident in Kandahar Province, in the south of the country, and that there had been a number of civilian casualties.

    Villagers in Belandi in the Panjway district of Kandahar, where the shooting took place, said the service member had attacked three houses, killing 11 people in one house and four in a second home. Five other villagers were wounded, they said.

    U.S. soldier kills up to 16 Afghan civilians | Reuters

    A U.S. soldier went on a shooting rampage in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, bursting into the homes of civilians in villages near his base in the middle of the night and killing up to 16 people, an Afghan minister told Reuters.

    Minister of Border and Tribal Affairs Asadullah Khalid, who is investigating the incident, said the soldier entered three homes, killing 11 people in the first one.

    The Associated Press: Afghans show 15 bodies allegedly shot by American

    Then there is this from ABC. Evacuating From Fukushima After Earthquake and Tsunami – ABC News One thing, that link has a video that starts automatically with commercials, which is so damn annoying.

    Geez, I started this morning with so much hope…and happiness…I only have one word to say.


    • Minkoff Minx says:

      More on the shooting:

      U.S. serviceman kills 16 in house-to-house village shooting, Afghan officials say –

      Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan — A lone American serviceman slipped away from his base in southern Afghanistan before dawn Sunday and went on a methodical house-to-house shooting spree in a nearby village, killing 16 people, nearly all of them women and children, according to Afghan officials who visited the scene.

      The NATO force confirmed that the assailant was in military custody, and that he had inflicted an unspecified number of casualties during the shooting spree at about 3 a.m. Sunday. The U.S. Embassy called for calm and expressed deep condolences; the Taliban referred to the killings as an “act of genocide.”

      The British Broadcasting Corp. reported that the shooter was a staff sergeant and a member of the U.S. special operations forces who had been involved in training the Afghan police.

      The incident, potentially the worst atrocity of the 10-year war to be deliberately carried out by a single member of the Western military, represents a stunning setback to U.S.-Afghan relations, already shaken by last month’s burning of copies of the Koran at a U.S. military base north of Kabul.

      The shooting early Sunday took place in Panjwayi district outside Kandahar city, in a village called Alkozai. U.S. military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was believed that the assailant had suffered a mental breakdown.

      The NATO force issued a terse statement confirming casualties and promising a full investigation by U.S. and Afghan authorities. Later, the acting commander of the U.S.-led coalition, Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw, expressed “deep regret and sorrow at this appalling incident.”

      “I cannot explain the motivation behind such callous acts, but they were in no way part of authorized … military activity,” he said.

      In the hours after the shooting rampage, casualty counts varied widely. By late afternoon, however, an official provincial delegation had arrived at the scene.

      Haji Agha Lalai Dastgeeri, a member of that team, said the official tally was 16 dead. Nine of them were women, four were children and three were men, he said.

      “I saw the dead bodies and visited the victims’ families,” he said soberly.

      Earlier, Haji Mohammad Ehsan, the deputy head of Kandahar’s provincial council, had put the number of dead at 18. Javed Faisal, a spokesman for the Kandahar media center, said “up to 15” people had been killed, and several others wounded. The conflicting casualty counts could not immediately be reconciled.

      • This is so horrible. Sometimes I think those that died – whether soldiers or civilians – are the ones who are better off. The physical & psychological damage done to the survivors will, no doubt, last a lifetime but also impact the lives of their families & friends. We need to wage PEACE, not war. Remember the poster from the 60s: War is not healthy for children & and other living things?

        We need to get out of Afghanistan NOW & not go to war with Iran or anyone else.

      • ralphb says:

        We should just admit that Afghanistan is a lost cause for us and get the hell out of there. We really have no right to try and make over another culture in our image in the first place.

  3. May Sebastian have a delightful birthday with many, many more wonderful days to follow. Thanks for starting off with an upbeat, hopeful beginning.

    Then reality and world problems creep back in. My day started when Cagney the cat knocked a treasured piece of pottery on the floor, waking me up. Considering all the tragedies in the world, I’m no longer pissed at her.

    I heard a disturbing update on the clean up in Fukishima on NPR late last week. I can’t seem to find that specific story now. They were on the ground where the radiation clean up was taking place & interviewed the government workers, some farmers & dairy farmers. They also talked to an independent scientist whose findings were much worse than those of the gov’t (surprise, surprise). As is typical for me the part that disturbed me most was when they spoke of all the cattle who had died of starvation. One 2 X 4 had been chewed through by cows desperate for something to eat. My other thought – the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Michigan tar sands spill, Keystone XL & expanding nuclear plants in the US. Will we never, ever learn? Even if the risk of disaster is 1%, there is no way to restore a damaged area to pre-disaster conditions. The damage lives on for generations.

    So here are some links to Japan & animals following the tsunami, then & now:

    Ending on a happy note. Maru & his family survived the earthquake & tsunami. Here’s a recent video of darling Maru:

    Thnaks, Minx. Another great post.

  4. My previous – probably too long – comment is stuck in moderation. Boo-hoo.

  5. joanelle says:

    I know what you mean, Minx when you say:Funny how there are some people you meet in life that no matter what length of time passes, you can just connect like you never were apart. That is the kind of friend Jessica is…I love and treasure my friends that are special in that way, I feel so fortunate to have this bond and quiet understanding.

    I have a friend who lives in WA – we grew up together so we’ve been friends since we were tots – in fact our dad’s grew up together here in NJ. We don’t see each other much but we are still so connected and when we are together it’s like we never left each other’s side.
    Sweet stuff.
    Happy Birthday Bastian!!!

  6. Had to share this. I caught it in the wee, wee hours this morning. Any Beatles fans out there?

    • peggysue22 says:

      Connie, that’s a great piece of video. Really fascinating. I never knew how influential the Beatles were in the old USSR. I think the guy who made the film is right–the Beatles meant more to those Russian kids back in the 60s and 70s than they even meant to us. And I loved the Beatles.

      Thanks for the link!

      • peggysue – they changed the world, the whole world. But, I had no idea how much they were able to influence the kids our age living in the USSR. And I ‘d rather believe that the Beatles brought down the Berlin Wall instead of Raygun.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Thanks for this post, Minx. Children grow up so quickly. I don’t have children of my own, but I treasure every moment with my two nephews, whom I’ve watched grow from birth to happy little boys, 9 and 6-1/2.

    I’m a little sad today, because this is the second anniversary of my father’s death. It is also my sister’s birthday, so I plan to call her soon. She is in San Francisco visiting her son and daughter-in-law and her precious 2-year-old granddaughter.

    I hope everyone has a lovely Sunday.

    • Sorry for your loss, bb. I’m sure your sister must be terribly conflicted between honoring your father’s memory & celebrating her birthday. I know my birthday has been permanently ruined when my father died 8 days before my 15th birthday. (((hugs to you)))

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      So sorry…I will be thinking about you today BB, it is good that you have a close relationship with your nephews. Take care of yourself, hugs to you. Lots of hugs to you.

    • NW Luna says:

      BB, I remember your posts about your Dad. Your descriptions sounded a chord when I thought of my father, who died a few years before; he was of a similar type. Never talked about WWII at all. Barely talked about growing up in the Great Depression, except for once to say he didn’t have a bike when he was a kid.

      It’s just about a year since my mother died. Those anniversaries can be hard. So many things I’d like to tell them about. Sometimes I have conversations with them in my mind; oh I know it’s not real. But they are still part of me.

      May all of us have comfort even through the sadness. If we didn’t have good hearts we wouldn’t miss them.

  8. foxyladi14 says:

    We need to get out of Afghanistan NOW & not go to war with Iran or anyone else.
    this will only inflame those people more.

  9. Question for dak, our resident economist: I just watched a repeat of Bill Moyers with David Stockman & Gretchen Morganson. The topic was crony capitalism and the financial crisis. I was impressed with both, and being impressed with David Stockman surprised me. Have you seen this show? If not, have you read anything by Stockman since his transformation? What’s your take?

  10. Minkoff Minx says:

    Here is the latest news on Afghanistan. U.S. soldier held in deaths of 16 Afghans – CBS News

    Last Updated 1:41 p.m. ET

    (CBS/AP) KABUL, Afghanistan – A U.S. service member came out of his base in southern Afghanistan on Sunday and started shooting Afghan civilians, killing 16, including woman and children, Afghan officials said.

    The shooting spree occurred in Panjwai district of Kandahar province.

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai said 16 people were killed, including nine children and three women.

    “This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven,” Karzai said in a statement. He said he has repeatedly demanded the U.S. stop killing Afghan civilians.

    Five people were wounded in the pre-dawn attack, including a 15-year-old boy named Rafiullah who was shot in the leg and spoke to the president over the telephone. He described how the American soldier entered his house in the middle of the night, woke up his family and began shooting them, according to Karzai’s statement.

    NATO officials apologized for the shootings but did not confirm that anyone was killed, referring instead to reports of deaths.

    The attack took place in two villages in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province. The villages — Balandi and Alkozai — are about 500 yards away from a U.S. base. The shooting started around 3 a.m., said Asadullah Khalid, the government representative for southern Afghanistan and a member of the delegation that went to investigate the incident.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Susie Madrak has a link up that says this shooting was carried out by a number of soldiers not just on lone gunman. Shooting children | Suburban Guerrilla

      • northwestrain says:

        The other link on her blog — are women people??

        I’m sad to say that these assassinations by one or more American soldiers doesn’t surprise me at all. The majority of soldiers are being asked to do a job they have no training for. Most soldiers little or no understanding of different culture (let alone females in their own culture). There are the exceptional military trained humans who get it that their job in Afghanistan involves diplomacy and empathy. But still the military trains people to kill other people — that is their prime job. To do this the enemy is dehumanized by soldiers.

        The current mess started with the burning of the Koran by US soldiers. That was the tipping point — all the excuse the Afgans who hate anyone occupying enemy force needed to start killing.

        The US shouldn’t be in Afghanistan — but the US military is there because of the decision of two immature, empathy challenged, narcissistic US Presidents. The old USSR failed and the US will fail to dominate Afghanistan.

      • ralphb says:

        I agree. Historically, Afghanistan is where empires go to die.

  11. NW Luna says:

    Oh, that panda & human pic is wonderful! Thank you for posting it.

    • peggysue22 says:

      That photo says everything, doesn’t it? I didn’t see it until just a couple months ago when Minx put it up. Makes you feel like weeping.