Monday Reads: Back in black…and other dark sordid tales

Good Morning!

It is a Big Fat Monday morning, the kind that makes you want to crawl back into bed and wait till Tuesday morning…

A special thanks to Dakinikat who switched with me on Sunday. (Thank you Kat! oxox)

I have a lot of news items to bring you, this first one is from Cannonfire, and it is spectacular… in a creep you out sort of way. (Especially if it is not an April Fool’s joke.)  Is the Romney campaign using subliminals in their ads?

Folks, this is genuinely weird. I received a message from a reader informing me that certain teevee ads for Mitt Romney contain monod-bizarro “extras” that pass by at hummingbird speed. Be warned: This investigation gets into some very unsettling areas.

You need to read the entire thing so go to that link…now.

After I read that amazing post late last night, I felt so violated, and I would guess this is pretty common among all political party campaigns. Joseph, that was one hell of a post!

Alright, next up we have some quick links to things you should watch out for…you will see what I mean in a minute.

Major Security Breach At Atlanta Credit Card Processor; Experts Warn Consumers To Check Transactions –  Susie Madrak brought this to my attention via C&L:

You should pay close attention to your accounts, but as one quoted expert says, you need to be especially vigilant right now:

Visa and MasterCard acknowledged Friday that they’ve been alerting banks about a major breach at Global Payments, an Atlanta-based payment card processing firm.

Global Payments issued a statement late Friday saying it discovered the breach in March and reported it to industry officials and the FBI. The company scheduled a press conference for Monday morning.

Gartner banking security analyst Avivah Litan says unverified reports point to a New York City street gang with Central American ties taking control of “an administrative account that was not protected sufficiently.”

“I’ve spoken with folks in the card business who are seeing signs of this breach mushroom,” says Litan.

When the words “breach” and “mushroom” are used together to describe a credit card hacking scheme, it isn’t very encouraging.

Chemical Exposure Is Suspect in Early Female Puberty–  Take a quick look at this, from TruthDig:

Marcia Herman-Giddens first observed the age of puberty dropping for American girls in the late 1980s. Today, she and other researchers agree that the average age of onset has fallen significantly since the 1970s, and some point toward chemicals like bisphenol A—a ubiquitous hormone-like substance that the FDA recently refused to ban—as a possible cause.

There is a link to a New York Times article about the study, I would guess that all the hormones in foods like chicken would also bring about early puberty. I have seen it first hand with my daughter…and many of her girlfriends at school. The boobies start to pop out earlier than they did in my day.

You may have seen this next link over the weekend, but I have an update for you: Financers and Sex Trafficking

THE biggest forum for sex trafficking of under-age girls in the United States appears to be a Web site called

This emporium for girls and women — some under age or forced into prostitution — is in turn owned by an opaque private company called Village Voice Media. Until now it has been unclear who the ultimate owners are.

That mystery is solved. The owners turn out to include private equity financiers, including Goldman Sachs with a 16 percent stake.

Here is the latest on this sick disgusting story…Goldman Sachs Sex Trafficking Controversy: Company Sells Stake In Village Voice Media For Promoting Under-Age Sex Trade

A private equity fund run by Goldman Sachs Group Inc, under fire over its business ethics, has agreed to sell back its stake in a media company that critics say facilitates sex trafficking.

GS Capital Partners III on Friday signed a deal to sell its 16 percent stake in Village Voice Media, which owns the website, back to management, a Goldman spokeswoman said Sunday.

Doesn’t it seem strange that Goldman was not aware of the kind of ads associated with Backpage? You’d think Goldman would have done some due diligence before they invested in it. (I mean, everyone know what that Backpage of the Village Voice is like, I would not doubt that some of those dudes at Goldman Sachs have utilized the “want ads” themselves.)

Crazy innit? (That little link there is my own kind of subliminal message…so is this one.)

More news round-ups after the jump…

Okay, this weekend I went to Asheville, North Carolina…to see an orchid show. It was so beautiful. My favorite orchid out of these amazing flowers was a little tiny black orchid called maxillaria schunkeana, or as it has recently been reclassified as, brasiliorcis schunkeana.

Brasiliorchis schunkeana. (Synonym: Maxillaria schunkeana)

The Black Orchid. Endemic to Brazil

These orchids are very small, and very rare. (Not sure why I am so fond of these little things.)  I had such a hard time trying to find information about them.  What a wonderful trip, it was great to be able to spend some time with my mom and daughter before my surgery on Wednesday.

On Friday evening, when we were coming back from dinner it was drizzling. As we walked into the hotel, my daughter pulled up her hoodie she was wearing, and I said to her…in Florida, wearing a hoodie like that could be dangerous. Not knowing what or who I was talking about, she said…what do you mean, it is raining, of course I am putting my hoodie up. (Yup, it is common sense innit?)

So with that bit of teenage wisdom, let’s get to the latest on the Trayvon Martin killing.

Did anyone see this on CNN? Soledad O’Brien’s Beyond Trayvon CNN Special Hits At The Core Of Martin Case

After almost two weeks as a national news story, the Trayvon Martin case has elevated many tempers and flared up more than a few political wars– so yesterday’s Beyond Trayvon special on CNN, hosted by Soledad O’Brien, was a welcome change of pace to the story. Rather than the brief and punchy 5-minute debates on other networks over the story or its politicization, or the extended humiliations of weak witnesses and lawyers (and sometimes empty chairs) that characterized the week, O’Brien and her panel took and hour to debate the cultural impact of every detail, the place the story has in our national historical narrative, and what exactly led so many to care so deeply about the Florida teen and the fate of his shooter.

With an hour to study the case and the way it played out in the media, O’Brien had plenty of time to focus on the specifics, from the way Zimmerman’s 911 has been interpreted to the damage the reputation of community watch leaders has taken to the cultural implications of being black and wearing a hoodie. On hand were experts in almost every relevant field– from lawyers to psychology experts to police chiefs to cultural commentators and first-hand witnesses to similar events, like Kadiatou Diallo, mother of slain young man Amadou. There was a surprising amount to parse and, given the time, enough to flesh out the details of the larger implications as well as the specifics that make the case so compelling and difficult to follow.

Divisive: How The Conservative Media Has Been Covering Trayvon Martin

Entering the third week of wall-to-wall Trayvon Martin coverage, the narrative has emerged that there is a left vs. right dynamic to the way this story has been covered. Indeed, I have traced the way some online conservatives (particularly The Daily Caller) have turned against Trayvon Martin, in my view as an expression of their hatred of President Obama. But is this really a left versus right thing? I looked at the Trayvon Martin coverage by conservative media like Fox News, The Blaze, The Bigs, and Hot Air, and found a complicated picture.

Now, both of those links are to Mediaite articles, they have had some excellent coverage of the story, the second one is more like an Op/Ed from Tommy Christopher…give it a read when you can.

I have posted links to the political cartoons in my post last week, but this cartoon was just too good to ignore:

Changing directions, let us look at an article from Emptywheel…about the SCOTUS hearings last week, time sure does fly by doesn’t it? Requiem For ACA at SCOTUS & Legitimacy Of Court and Case

Here are the first few lines, be sure to check it out.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise popularly known as “Obamacare” had a bit of a rough go of it this week at the Supreme Court. Jeff Toobin called it a train wreck (later upgraded to plane wreck). Kevin Drum termed it a “debacle” and Adam Serwer a “Disaster“.

Was it really that bad? Considering how supremely confident, bordering on arrogant, the Obama Administration, and many of the ACA’s plethora of healthcare “specialists”, had been going into this week’s arguments, yes, it really was that bad.

The next link discusses something that Dakinikat has mentioned from time to time. Anti-abortion climate ‘will deter new generation of doctors’

A new generation of doctors will be put off from becoming involved in abortion services by high-profile protest campaigns and a political “witch-hunt”, providers fear.

The current climate is already causing anxiety among doctors who are concerned that their practice will be called into question, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said, as activists behind a new campaign to demonstrate outside abortion clinics were joined at one protest in London by a Catholic bishop.

So the US is not the only country that will find themselves moving backward when it comes to medical care and sciences which would benefit women. (But that is not the only areas that will see declines, I am talking about the environmental sciences as well.)

Whoa, speaking of science, lets take a look at some interesting links from this week…

Scientists Use Thoreau’s Journal Notes to Track Climate Change

Researchers use “Walden” author’s tables of flowering dates in 1840s Massachusetts to show temperature has risen 2.4 C.

Fittingly for a man seen as the first environmentalist, Henry David Thoreau, who described his isolated life in 1840s Massachusetts in the classic of American literature Walden, is now helping scientists pin down the impacts of climate change.

New comparison of ocean temperatures reveals rise over the last century

A new study contrasting ocean temperature readings of the 1870s with temperatures of the modern seas reveals an upward trend of global ocean warming spanning at least 100 years.

Declines in Caribbean coral reefs pre-date damage resulting from climate change

The decline of Caribbean coral reefs has been linked to the recent effects of human-induced climate change. However, new research led by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego suggests an even earlier cause. The bad news — humans are still to blame. The good news — relatively simple policy changes can hinder further coral reef decline.

Those are some of the best articles on climate change and global warming, but I guess my opinion is slightly bias because of the use of history and literature to study the effects of climate change.

Here is another cool science link that is connected to the arts…and history as well:

Scientists reveal genetic mutation depicted in van Gogh’s sunflower paintings

In addition to being among his most vibrant and celebrated works, Vincent van Gogh’s series of sunflower paintings also depict a mutation whose genetic basis has, until now, been a bit of a mystery.

The most common, wild-type sunflower variety is shown in box A, and its florets are shown in B. Box C shows a double-flowered mutant variety, with its florets shown in D. Box E shows the tubular variety, with its florets shown in F. The arrows in box G indicate the double-flowered mutants depicted in van Gogh’s Still Life: Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers. (Credit: John Burke, UGA)

In a study published March 29 in the journal PLoS Genetics, however, a team of University of Georgia scientists reveals the mutation behind the distinctive, thick bands of yellow “double flowers” that the post-Impressionist artist painted more than 100 years ago.

“In addition to being of interest from a historical perspective, this finding gives us insight into the molecular basis of an economically important trait,” said senior author John Burke, professor of plant biology in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

And one for all those saddle wearing dinosaur lovers: Scientists say foot fossil confirms two human ancestor species co-existed

A 3.4 million-year-old partial foot fossil – one that did not belong to the same species as Lucy, the most famous early human relation, according to scientists – has come to light in Ethiopia. These scientists say this new specimen suggests that more than one species of early human ancestor lived between 3 and 4 million years ago. The scientists – from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Case Western Reserve University – published their results in the March 29, 2012 issue of the journal Nature.

Now a few multi-media links, both from BBC, these are cool:

 In pictures: Tracking secretive octopuses

 Italy’s Mount Etna volcano erupts again

H/T to Andrew Sullivan on this next link:

And lastly, when you get some time…please read this long piece from a classic movie blog that I have mentioned before. She Blogged By Night: The White Elephant Blogathon: Clara Bow and It (1927) It is an excellent post, and I believe many of you will enjoy it.

Well, this morning reads turned out a bit longer than I expected. So, what are you thinking about today…what are you all up to this fine, big, fat, dark, foreboding, black Monday morning?

19 Comments on “Monday Reads: Back in black…and other dark sordid tales”

  1. Glenn McGahee says:

    Since you mentioned our favorite scam artists, Goldman Sachs being in the “call girl” business, I’d like to add a link:

    • RalphB says:

      Thanks for another great post. I wasn’t aware of your upcoming surgery but will certainly be sending the best of thoughts and wishes your way for a speedy recovery!

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    Check out this commentary: A Republican meteorologist looks at climate change | Commentary | Minnesota Public Radio News

    I’m going to tell you something that my Republican friends are loath to admit out loud: climate change is real. I’m a moderate Republican, fiscally conservative; a fan of small government, accountability, self-empowerment and sound science. I am not a climate scientist. I’m a Penn State meteorologist, and the weather maps I’m staring at are making me very uncomfortable. No, you’re not imagining it: we’ve clicked into a new and almost foreign weather pattern.

  3. Woman Voter says:

    the Courts The Law and the Homeless – Constitutional Rights

    There are numerous ways in which ordinances affecting the homeless can violate their rights. Many court challenges claimed that the law in question was unconstitutionally broad or vague. Others claimed that a particular law denied the homeless equal protection under the law or violated their right to due process, as guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. There have also been cases based on a person’s right to travel, and others that claimed restrictions on the homeless constituted “cruel and unusual punishment,” which is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Many cities have ordinances against panhandling, but charitable organizations freely solicit in public places. As a result, according to those challenging the ordinances, the right to free expression under the First Amendment is available to organizations but denied to the homeless.

    Read more: the Courts The Law and the Homeless – Constitutional Rights – City, Amendment, Library, and District

    <- (Bold was by me for emphasis on the key point, as I couldn't find the original case, but this covered the section.)

    I haven't seen any mention of the Fourteen Amendment in all the talk and hoo haa (Wasn't too impressed with Soledad O'Brien's piece) as I recall in class (was a political science major at one time) we labored over a case in California which set a precedent under the Fourteenth Amendment. The case was about an African American man, who had dreadlocks, dressed like a new age hippie and took walks in Beverly Hills (hope my memory isn't fading fast here and I got the city right) and was routinely stopped by police, because people thought he looked ‘suspicious’. The man challenged the arrests and the precedent was made, that people indeed could walk anywhere, without being stopped, questioned, and required to identify themselves when they hadn’t committed any crime.

    So, as I watch all the hoo haa I have become very disappointed that they haven’t brought in some legal scholars on Constitutional Rights since the RIGHT loves the Constitution and all…

    I think we are missing a great opportunity to teach young and old some basic rights information and why organization like the ACLU are so vital and important to a free society and in keeping those freedoms.

    • Woman Voter says:

      1. Interstate Travel
      The right of American citizens to free and uninhibited interstate travel has been ingrained in U.S. constitutional law for more than 150 years.143 The right to move freely from state to state is an incident of national citizenship protected by the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment against state interference.144 Although not explicit, the right is protected by implied guarantees of the Constitution.145 Moreover, the right does not apply only to those who seek permanent residence, but also to individuals seeking access temporarily.146

      Not being able to find that case is driving me bunkers. Any hoo, I did find this in a long report which is why I believe the Justice Department must look at this from a violation of Constitutional Rights (Children too have rights) and as a Civil Rights issues.

  4. Woman Voter says:

    Minkoff Minx,

    Great round up and the Little Red Ridding Hoodie cartoon leaves one thinking as the Travon case was in essence started with assumptions and no crime being committed.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Really interesting reads this morning. Thanks, Minx. I love the Red Riding Hood cartoon!

  6. bostonboomer says:

    A bomb went off at a Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin this morning. It didn’t cause serious damage.

  7. Woman Voter says:

    People’s Choice

    We’re Proud to Announce PFC Bradley Manning, as the 2012 People’s Choice Honoree.
    Thank you to everyone who helped make this year’s People’s Choice Awards contest our best ever!

    This year, more than 15,000 people took part in the People’s Choice Awards, with nominators and voters hailing from all over the globe. Your nominations and your votes helped to shine a spotlight on the human rights heroes who matter most to you. View all our 2012 nominees here.


      • Woman Voter says:

        It is clear that it is a Constitutional violation, all the other hoo haa (What Travon did before, which is nothing, was minor and not a crime), is just that, he wasn’t committing a crime, he was simply walking and should have done so without incident. Also, did you notice that they now are saying that he wasn’t with Neighborhood Watch, that Zimmerman was simply going to Target, but before his defender (neighbor) said he was. I think they are walking that back because it is clear that if you do something against another person beyond relaying information while participating in Neighborhood Watch you and possibly others, including the Police Department in this case would be negligent because they would now have to attest that they ‘DIDN’T’ know that he was carrying a weapon. Also, no one has taken photos of their Neighborhood Watch signs…very clear and was he listed on the City’s website as most people have a contact number to call?

  8. Minkoff Minx says:

    @WV and BB, thanks…I thought that red ridding hoodie cartoon was one of the best ones I have seen so far…

    • Woman Voter says:

      It says it all…projections that led to someone being killed and America asking how often is this happening and why weren’t procedures followed. 😦

  9. Another great mix of news, info & outrage. No surprise about Goldman etc in the pimp business. Black orchid — beautiful!

    I’m now in southern Utah — the canyons are indeed red. There is poverty — in hidden pockets.

    I read one online opinion piece in a local paper re the missing “minute ” in the Travon/Zimmerman timelines. The problem with that article is that some of Zimmerman’s now discredited claims of being injured were repeated as fact. Of course this is Mormon land — where racism is part of the religion. Black MALES were allowed to be priests only in the 70s. Sexism reigns supreme in this church doctrine. My grandfather was born a couple hundred miles north of here. He left Utah as teenager only to return for his mother’s funeral.