Friday Reads: Sandy Aid, JFK, Real War on Women, and Fake War on Xmas

Good Morning!!

I hope everyone had a great day yesterday, regardless of how you spent your time.  My day was very quiet, because I had an upset stomach from some brussels sprouts I ate on Wednesday night.  My mom and I are going to have “thanksgiving” dinner at my sister’s place on Saturday, so we just hung out and relaxed.

It’s going to be a slow news day, obviously, but I’ll do my best to provide some interesting reading material.

The New York Times had a nice story about some help for Sandy victims that came from a surprising place–Rikers Island.

On the night that the storm roared into the city, Dora B. Schriro, the correction commissioner, slept on a couch in her office at the Rikers Island jail, bracing for flooding and reassuring inmates and employees that the island would weather the storm.

The next morning, the vast jailhouse complex was mostly unscathed, but Ms. Schriro was stunned by the devastation the storm had wrought elsewhere.

So she decided to put her jail, and those who call it home, to work. Inmates did 6,600 pounds of laundry for people in emergency shelters. The jail supplied generators and gas to fuel them to neighborhoods in the dark, and donated long underwear usually given to inmates. And officers with medical training provided emergency care to victims.

“There was a lot of loss,” said Ms. Schriro, who personally pitched in at food lines on the Rockaway Peninsula, in Queens. “It was our responsibility and opportunity to jump in and help.”

I was disappointed that the story doesn’t say anything about how the inmates felt about all this.

Jail officials did not make inmates available for interviews about the role they played in helping storm victims, but Ms. Schriro said, “I’m confident they knew what they were doing.”

I’m not sure what to think about that.

Somewhat lost in the shuffle of yesterday’s holiday was the fact that it was also the 49th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Journalist and assassination researcher Jefferson Morley wrote a piece about it at Huffington Post: JFK at 49: What We Know For Sure. Morley reports on new developments in the JFK story since the article he wrote in 2010 called The Kennedy Assassination: 47 Years Later, What Do We Really Know?

One nondevelopment is that “cultural elites” continue to deny any possibility that the official story of JFK’s murder could be flawed, despite new evidence that has been revealed in recent years. Morley writes that there is no real evidence of a CIA conspiracy to assassinate JFK, there is a great deal of evidence of “CIA negligence.” From the HuffPo link:

The truth is this: Lee Harvey Oswald was well known to a handful of top CIA officials shortly before JFK was killed.

Read this internal CIA cable (not declassified until 1993) and you will see that that accused assassin’s biography–his travels, politics, intentions, and state of mind–were known to top CIA officials as of October 10, 1963 six weeks before JFK went to Dallas for a political trip….

In the fall of 1963, Oswald, a 23-year old ex-Marine traveled from New Orleans to Mexico City. When he contacted the Soviet embassy to apply for a visa to travel to Cuba, a CIA surveillance team picked up his telephone calls. A tape recording indicated Oswald had been referred to a consular officer suspected of being a KGB assassination specialist.

Winston Scott, the respected chief of the CIA station in Mexico City, was concerned. He sent a query to CIA headquarters, asking who is this guy Oswald?

Oswald had been on the agency’s radar since 1959 when he defected to Russia, and they had a “fat file” on him; nevertheless, the CIA told Scott that Oswald had “matured” and there was nothing to worry about.

This optimistic assessment was personally read and endorsed by no less than five senior CIA officers. They are identified by name on the last page of the cable. Their names–Roman, Tom Karamessines, Bill Hood, John Whitten (identified by his pseudonym “Scelso”), and Betty Egeter–were kept from the American public for thirty years. Why? Because all five reported to deputy director Richard Helms or to Counterintelligence Chief James Angleton in late 1963. Because of “national security.”

Read much more at the HuffPo link. Not too many American still remember November 22, 1963 clearly, and as Morley says that dark day in Dallas “seems to be fading in America’s collective consciousness.”

It’s looking like once the final tallies from the presidential election are complete, Mitt Romney will have won about 47 percent of the vote.

The legacy of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign will be marked with by the number 47. Not only the 47 percent of voters that he notoriously dismissed during a fundraising event, but also by the 47 percent of voters who chose to support him. Analysts predict that Romney will have won under 47.5 percent of the popular vote when the final tallies come in, compared to President Barack Obama’s 51 percent.

Romney characterized 47 percent of American voters as dependent on big government and therefore sympathetic to the Democratic platform. Instead, the election proved that the conservative Republican platform could not make a strong enough appeal to the demographics outside of its own traditional backing.

What could be more appropriate?

This one is for Dakinikat: Why Black Friday Is a Behavioral Economist’s Nightmare. At New York Magazine, Kevin Roose writes:

The big problem with Black Friday, from a behavioral economist’s perspective, is that every incentive a consumer could possibly have to participate — the promise of “doorbuster” deals on big-ticket items like TVs and computers, the opportunity to get all your holiday shopping done at once — is either largely illusory or outweighed by a disincentive on the other side. It’s a nationwide experiment in consumer irrationality, dressed up as a cheerful holiday add-on.

As Dan Ariely explains in his book, Predictably Irrational, “We all make the same types of mistakes over and over, because of the basic wiring of our brains.”

This applies to shopping on the other 364 days of the year, too. But on Black Friday, our rational decision-making faculties are at their weakest, just as stores are trying their hardest to maximize your mistakes.

Read about all the potential shopping booby traps at the link.

Here’s a horrifying update in the global war on women: Saudi Arabia implements electronic tracking system for women

RIYADH — Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.

The husband, who was travelling with his wife, received a text message from the immigration authorities informing him that his wife had left the international airport in Riyadh.

“The authorities are using technology to monitor women,” said columnist Badriya al-Bishr, who criticised the “state of slavery under which women are held” in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Women still have a very very long way to go, as we have learned here in the supposedly “advanced” U.S. over the past few years.

But never mind the serious problems that face humanity, the wingnuts at Fox News are focused on the supposed “war on xmas.” From TPM:

In the days before Thanksgiving, Fox filled its shows with dire, sometimes terrifying segments about all the threats surrounding the merriest season of the year. There’s the eradication of free speech by atheist “loons,” the possibility of choking on our food, the diseases spread on airplanes, and the endless depression that comes from Christmas commercials.

If we even make it to Christmas, that is. Fox’s morning man Bill Hemmer charted the possibility that the “apocalypse” would arrive on Dec. 22, and just how sad it will be when we all get wiped out, leaving all those unopened presents under the tree.

Here’s a mash-up of Fox coverage of the “war,” courtesy of TPM.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope you found something to your liking. Now what’s on your reading list for today.

38 Comments on “Friday Reads: Sandy Aid, JFK, Real War on Women, and Fake War on Xmas”

  1. Mary Luke says:

    BB, thank you for commenting on the now neglected assasination of JFK. That was a traumatic and defining moment of my childhood. I too saw the Huffpost article, and I worry that there are now so few of us who remember the real horror of that awful weekend. We have been beset by what Mrs. Kennedy, when informed of Oswald’s death, said, “One more horrible thing”. Our society has numbed us from one horrible thing to another, and I fear that the defining moment of the 20th century will be lost to our children and grandchildren. Oh, and this is Back Bay Style here. WordPress messed up my account so you’ll see my real name, posting through FB.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Just one more reason I don’t trust doctors. The NYT has an article on mammograms. They may help a tiny number of women, but millions of women have been treated with radiation and surgery who never had cancer to begin with.

    • joanelle says:

      Thanks for this BB, hope your tummy is feeling better and you have much to be grateful for

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks, Joanelle. It’s much better today. By tomorrow I should be OK to eat a big dinner. Hope you had a nice day yesterday.

    • NW Luna says:

      Yes, it’s the “More Is Better” mentality. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should medicalize everything. Most of the standard practices in breast cancer treatment have not been evidence-based, and have been slow to change despite the evidence. For example: radical mastectomies, in which not just the entire breast, but muscles were removed, kept being performed long after simpler surgeries were shown to have the same survival rates.

      There have always been a minority of medical people who argue for, and practice, a more rational approach to medical care. So I wouldn’t say to be suspicious of all doctors/health providers. But it can be hard to find those good practitioners, especially in a specialty area. I’m a clinician, and for some conditions I have problems finding an expert who keeps up with evidence and doesn’t overtreat. (I hate going in for an exam on something only to find out that I know more about it than they do….)

      • ecocatwoman says:

        My mother had a radical mastectomy in 1968/69, can’t remember which. She went to the surgeon her boss had used. He thought the lump “looked” suspicious, so he took everything down to her rib cage & up & under her arm. When the biopsy returned it was BENIGN! Butcher a$$hole did the same thing to a bunch of women. Serial mutilator & got paid big bucks to indulge in his sick desire to cut up women. Back then no one sued doctors like him for malpractice.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Via a diary at Dailykos, an article by a German writer who infiltrated Patrick Henry University, AKA the Neocon Madrassa.

  4. Greywolf says:

    Thanks for the article on the Black Friday shopping. I love having more reasons to avoid that insanity. As an introvert, the crowds on that day are intolerable.

  5. dakinikat says:

    Black Friday gets heated: Man pulls gun on line-cutter at Sears

  6. dakinikat says:

    When people ask why I have a problem with religion, it’s hard to come up with a single answer…

  7. ecocatwoman says:

    There is a certain percentage of the human race that simply don’t deserve to waste precious oxygen by breathing. NPR just reported that dead dolphins have been washing ashore on the northern Gulf coast. Necropsies have determined that some have been shot. All met a violent death, with some having their flukes (tails) cut off. I wish I could believe in karma such that these ghouls experience similar futures. F***ing bastards.

    • joanelle says:

      I read that the other day – where does that kind of depravity come from

      • ecocatwoman says:

        I would be willing to bet this is being done by fishermen (much like those in Japan) who feel the dolphins are competing with them & lowering their “catch.” Let’s not blame BP nor the Macondo disaster. Drill, baby, drill.

    • dakinikat says:

      We’re all over that here in Louisiana. They’ve sent our Wild Life Agents to hunt them down. Those guys/gals are great. They protect our alligators too. They don’t mess around. They’re really fierce about protecting the wild life and the ecosystems down here.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        That’s good to hear. Unfortunately, there probably isn’t much in the way of forensic evidence so they will have to catch them in the act. That may be easier said than done. Even if they catch them, the punishment generally isn’t a very stiff fine and/or punishment. Hope they catch them, hope it goes to court & hope they get a “hanging” judge. Sometimes, here in Florida, when someone is caught recklessly speeding in a manatee zone the judge takes away their boat, especially if a manatee is killed. But manatees are on the endangered species list, dolphins are only protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (federal law).

        • dakinikat says:

          That’s why the wildlife agents are after them. They’re used to staking out folks that don’t obey the alligator hunting seasons laws. Also, duck hunting and the other migratory birds are protected down here outside of hunting season. The Fish and Game folks take all of that seriously and will stake out poachers and off-season hunting like it’s a murder investigation.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Unbelievable! Please let some of these creeps be caught!

    • NW Luna says:

      I shouldn’t, but I wish, that the perpetrators get wrapped in a monofilament net and dragged behind a speedboat.

  8. ecocatwoman says:

    bb, this is for you: I imagine you know who Brian McGrory is. Please listen to the interview – it’s funny, sweet & delightful. I think I’m going to have to read this book.

  9. Linda C says:

    I am going to throw in my two cents about mammogram. They are not diagnostic. Diagnosis is confirmed by a biopsy not the mammogram. If the biopsy comes back as “early cancer” then the treatments are established by protocol determined by the biopsy results which is reviewed by a Tumor Board. If the author feels that they are needlessly treating “early cancers” then take that up with the oncologist, such as herself, not the mammogram. The author’s analogy of comparing breast cancer to pneumonia is absurd. You can’t screen for an acute illness like pneumonia. However she also fails to mention that bacterial pneumonia happens to be very life threatening. Since “screening” is impossible, they created a vaccine to prevent it.

    I happen to know that routine yearly mammogram detected an aggressive cancer in my friend. One year it was so small, it was missed. The following year it was detected and she had 23 lymph nodes biopsied as positive. So much that “early cancers” aren’t life threatening.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The article explained why the stats don’t show that mammograms are effective for most women.

      • NW Luna says:

        Linda C, sorry to hear about your friend, but that is an n of 1. The problem isn’t that aggressive cancers are detected — it’s that non-agressive and non-invasive tumors are diagnosed after a mammogram indicates an anomaly, and the women are put thru surgery, chemo, and adjuvant treatment unnecessarily. And unfortunately, some cancers are so aggressive that no matter when they are found, or what the treatment, they are fatal within a few years.

  10. Beata says:

    Natural gas explosion in downtown Springfield, MA. Hope Pat is okay!

    • bostonboomer says:

      It says the building housed a strip club, so I doubt if Pat was there.

      • Beata says:

        I don’t know, BB. Pat’s book club moves in some pretty fast company from what I hear. /s

        Other buildings downtown were damaged as well.