Sunday Reads: Cuba, Castro, and the Idiots at CNN

ad24_3Good Morning

We have come to the end of spring break, it is amazing to me how fast time flies by…I have some interesting links for you, some of them I have saved for a little while, you may just want to come back to them during the day.

By the way, later tonight is the season premiere of Mad Men, I don’t know about you…but I sure am looking forward to it. 😉

Y’all know that CNN made the huge mistake of sacking Soledad O’Brien last month. The Guardian had an article about her last appearance on the network:

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien signs off with call for ‘tough conversations’

CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien at belated 60th birthday celebrations for Chaka Khan. Photograph: Startraks Photo / Rex Features

CNN host Soledad O’Brien signed off on Friday with a call for the network not to back away from “tough and honest conversations”.

O’Brien, who has built a reputation for hard-hitting interviews, said on the last edition of her morning show, Starting Point, that “facts matter”.

The new CNN boss, Jeff Zucker, cancelled O’Brien’s show, which has performed poorly in the ratings, and announced on Thursday that it will be replaced by a new show hosted by Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan.

In a short closing monologue on Friday, O’Brien said CNN had given her the chance to cover some of the biggest stories of our time and said she would continue to focus on “good journalism”.

She said: “My tenure at the helm of this show ends today, and I’m not going to be covering daily news at CNN after today. Over the last decade at CNN I’ve had a really great chance to cover some of the biggest stories, I think it’s fair to say, of our time.”

O’Brien recalled when she and a CNN team received a standing ovation at the airport in New Orleans after covering hurricane Katrina.

“So I think if I’ve learned anything over the past year it’s that facts matter,” she continued. “And we shouldn’t be afraid to have tough and honest conversations and maybe even argue a little bit when there’s a lot at stake, and yes, Governor Sununu, I am talking to you.”

You remember that interview don’t you? Soladad kicked Sununu’s ass! O’Brien told the Guardian that CNN did not provide a lot of support for her show Starting Point. They did not get a lot of promotion and were not fully staffed. No wonder, with CNN going down the shit bucket of news. In fact, you need to see this bit Jon Stewart did this past week:

Jon Stewart Tears Apart CNN: Neither Left Nor Right, But On A ‘Steady Spiral Downward’

Stewart then turned to CNN, a network that is neither leaning left nor right, but is instead on a “steady spiral downward.” He took on the new approach of CNN executive Jeff Zucker to the news, mockingly saying things like “I love brunch! Who doesn’t love brunch? That’s news!”

Stewart brought up some graphic faux pas of CNN, including (for some reason) a CNN personality standing in the middle of a virtual field of goats. And most egregiously of all, CNN showed off a live recreation of the Jodi Arias crime scene, complete with dead boyfriend in a pool of blood on the floor.

Of course, new changes don’t come without new show experiments, and following the success of The Five and The Cycle, CNN is testing out a new primetime show called (Get To) The Point. Stewart figured CNN must have “mistook what people are constantly yelling” at the screen for a show pitch. He showed clips of the show’s hosts talking about important subjects like lizard people and vegetarians who eat bacon.

What Stewart loved the most about the show was that when promos for this new program appear on the screen during other CNN shows, it looks like a subtle jab at whoever’s talking to get to the damn point already.

Go watch the video clips…my gawd, what shit CNN is pulling out their ass now a days!

Now, this next article is something I also saved from a while back, funny how it has caused quite a controversy of late….anyway, you know that my father’s family came from Cuba back in the late 1800’s. Here is a photograph of the town Marti City, in Ocala, Florida where my great-great grandfather had one of his cigar factories. In 1890s, cigar industry flourished, died in Ocala

A horse-drawn trolley, shown in Marti City, ran south from Ocala’s railroad station along North Magnolia to Broadway, turned west and followed Broadway to haul passengers and freight to the cigar factories at Marti City.

Well, I usually share links about Cuba with you all, and this article was one I was looking forward to sharing. For Blacks in Cuba, the Revolution Hasn’t Begun by Roberto Zurbano

Alex Webb/Magnum Photos

“Havana, 2013” More Photos »

CHANGE is the latest news to come out of Cuba, though for Afro-Cubans like myself, this is more dream than reality. Over the last decade, scores of ridiculous prohibitions for Cubans living on the island have been eliminated, among them sleeping at a hotel, buying a cellphone, selling a house or car and traveling abroad. These gestures have been celebrated as signs of openness and reform, though they are really nothing more than efforts to make life more normal. And the reality is that in Cuba, your experience of these changes depends on your skin color.

Please, before you do anything else go and read that editorial…because it was written by a man who was fired for saying what he felt was true. Check it out: Writer of Times Op-Ed on Racism in Cuba Loses Job

The editor of a publishing house in Cuba who wrote a critical article in The New York Times opinion section about persistent racial inequality on the island, something revolutionaries proudly say has lessened, has been removed from his post, associates said on Friday.

The author, Roberto Zurbano, in an article published March 23, described a long history of racial discrimination against blacks on the island and said “racial exclusion continued after Cuba became independent in 1902, and a half century of revolution since 1959 has been unable to overcome it.”

On Friday, The Havana Times blog reported that Mr. Zurbano had told a gathering of Afro-Cuban advocates that he had been dismissed from his post at the publishing house of the Casa de las Americas cultural center, leaving the implication that the dismissal was connected to the article. Other associates said Mr. Zurbano told them he had been removed but would continue working there.

There is a lot more to it than there appears to be…

Reached by telephone in Havana, Mr. Zurbano would not comment on his employment. “What is The New York Times going to do about it?” he asked. He angrily condemned the editors of the opinion section for a change in the headline that he felt had distorted his theme.

The article’s headline, which was translated from Spanish, was “For Blacks in Cuba, the Revolution Hasn’t Begun,” but Mr. Zurbano said that in his version it had been “Not Yet Finished.”

“They changed the headline without consulting me,” he said. “It was a huge failure of ethics and of professionalism.”

Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for The Times, said the editor stood by the article’s preparation.

“We worked very hard to ensure that the wording in the piece was translated properly and accurately reflected the writer’s point of view,” she said in a statement. “There were numerous versions of the piece sent back and forth, and in the end, Mr. Zurbano and our contact for him (who speaks fluent English) signed off on the final version.”

“We knew,” she added, “that Mr. Zurbano was in a sensitive situation, and we are saddened if he has indeed been fired or otherwise faced persecution, but we stand by our translation and editing, which was entirely along normal channels.”

Believe me, there is an underlying racism within the Cuban community and to say there isn’t is bullshit. Yes, it is taboo to speak of it too. However, there is a history in a little town in Florida of Cuban whites and blacks coming together to fight for labor rights.

Restaurant in Havana, note the Albinos allowed sign.

Restaurant in Havana, note the Albinos allowed sign.

My great-great grandfather Nicholas Santana owned a cigar factory and was partners with a black-Cuban named Sorondo who had connections with Jose Marti.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of 1895, Ocala FL, Marti City. My great-great grandfather's cigar factory is on the bottom left corner.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of 1895, Ocala FL, Marti City. My great-great grandfather’s cigar factory, Santana, Sorondo & CO., is located on the bottom left corner.

In Ybor City, Florida…you could find a small pocket of intelligence within the Southern land of Jim Crow, for racism was not prevalent in that little area of Italian, Spanish, Black, White immigrants who mostly worked for the many cigar factories.  There were many Afro-Cubans, both women and men, involved in the cigar factory labor strikes in Tampa, Florida, many years ago…they were fighting with their white brothers and sisters for workers rights.

Revolution is part of the Cuban culture, and I do believe that it is fair to say that for the Black-Cuban, the revolution is not finished. It just barely started and has been put on hold, it needs to get back in gear. Racism is alive in Cuba, there is no doubt about that. And the fact that Zurbano was fired says a lot about how things are handled in Cuba.

Speaking of Cuba, there was this bit of celebrity down there: Useful Idiots: Beyoncé And Jay-Z Ignore Cuba’s Racism With Havana Trip

This week, superstars Beyoncé and Jay-Z celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary with a trip to Cuba or, as the informed refer to it, “the island prison.”

While dining, partying, and enjoying the best Havana has to offer, Beyoncé and Jay-Z not only legitimize and support the repressive regime, with both their presence and their cash, but turn a blind eye, cruelly, to the perils and languishing of the Cuban people.

Both stars are proud African-Americans — yet, curiously, chose to vacation in a country notorious for relegating its black population to second-class status, or worse.

It is no surprise that many of Cuba’s top dissidents are Afro-Cubans. Did Sasha Fierce and Jigga Man find time to meet with these brave souls, or with their families? Did they mention them? Did they even think of them?

Of course not! This was not a trip to discover truth…or to learn about history or even music. Take a look at the link for a list of Afro-Cubans advocates who have either been imprisoned or killed for speaking out against the racism.

But why stop Cuba’s racism, and its atrocious human rights record, from getting in the way of a good time? After all, Jay-Z is the ‘artist’ who famously raps: “Welcome to Havana, smoking cubanos with Castro in cabanas!”

All Jay and “B,” useful idiots extraordinaire, seem to hear when visiting Cuba is: “Extra sugar on that mojito, señor?” Never mind the life-long plight of the Afro-Cuban waiter serving that drink, who casts a longing, hopeful look in their direction, only to be met with an aloof, distant smile from the two callous multi-millionaires who, while sharing his skin color, could not care less about his plight.

The photo-journalism report that went with the Zurbano op/ed can be seen here: The Ambiguous Island – Slide Show – Again, I urge you to go take a look at those images.

Now, one more link out of that little Island nation down south…this made me laugh a little, Fidel Castro to North Korea: Chill

Cuba’s seemingly immortal former leader Fidel Castro, who knows a thing or two about threats of nuclear destruction, is asking both Kim Jong-un and Barack Obama to think before they do anything stupid. “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba always has been and will continue to be with her,” Castro wrote in his first state media op-ed in almost nine months, but “this is one of the gravest risks of nuclear war since the October Crisis in 1962 involving Cuba, 50 years ago.”

“Now that it has demonstrated its technical and scientific advances, we remind it of its duties to other countries who have been great friends and that it would not be just to forget that such a war would affect in a special way more than 70 percent of the world’s population,” wrote Castro, who’s apparently gone soft in his old age.

While the situation in the Koreas is “incredible and absurd,” he added, he warned Obama that if bombing breaks out, he “would be buried by a flood of images that would present him as the most sinister figure in U.S. history. The duty to avoid [war)]also belongs to him and the people of the United States.”

It seems like some sort of SNL skit, doesn’t it? Castro calling North Korea “incredible and absurd.”

Okay, you want real absurd? In Tennessee some asshole is putting forward a law that makes welfare payments dependent upon the student’s grades. Tennessee Gets Closer to Passing Bill That Ties Welfare to School Grades

A Tennessee bill that would cut welfare benefits of parents with children performing poorly in school cleared committees of both the House and Senate last week.

The measure takes “a carrot and stick approach,” one of the sponsors of the bill, Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, told the Knoxville News and Sentinel.

Seth Freed Wessler summarized the bill last month on

A Tennessee lawmaker introduced legislation last week to stop welfare payments to parents if their kids get bad grades in school. The sponsor, State Senator Stacy Campfield said, “One of the top tickets to break the chain of poverty is education.” But he added, “We have done little to hold [parents] accountable for their child’s performance.”

The bill would chop nearly a third of family’s Temporary Aid for Needy Families benefits, already a pittance, if their child fails to pass state competency tests or get’s held back. How exactly the threat to make poor people poorer will improve educational outcomes isn’t at all clear.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah. It calls for a 30 percent reduction in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits to parents whose children are not making satisfactory progress in school, the Knoxville News and Sentinel reported.

You know what? My kids are not from a “broken” home, and both their parents and grandparents are college graduates…and they struggle in school. They do not get A’s and B’s…so this would be a disaster in terms of assistance if we were a “needy” family. I mention my kids performance at school because even with positive backgrounds and no worries about food and a place to sleep, a kid can be a disappointment when it comes to their grades. This is a horrible law…damn these GOP assholes.

In another education link: Can Computers Teach Students to Write Better?

Bet you can guess the answer to that.

Alright, moving on…Juan Cole had an excellent post this past week: Congress Obsessed with American Muslims, Neglects real threat of White Supremacists | Informed Comment

The shooting of Kaufman, Texas district attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia remains a mystery. But investigators are increasingly looking into a cell of extremist white terrorists as the suspects. Two months ago, a county assistant district attorney, Mark Hasse, was murdered not far from his office at the court. (I used the term extremist white terrorists because that is what they are, but usually the American press only describes foreigners and Muslims as terrorists, while calling whites “extremists.”)

Likewise, a gang of white terrorists is suspected in the recent slaying of the head of Colorado’s prison system.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and other Islamophobes in Congress, seeking to look good to campaign donors who hate Muslims, has conducted several hearings on the alleged increased radicalization of American Muslims. Sociologists don’t find evidence of such a thing; American Muslims on the whole are relatively well-integrated into US society and are disproportionately well off and pillars of the society. The hearings are a form of McCarthyism.

No one was killed or injured in the US in 2012 by terrorists of Muslim heritage, and only 14 Americans of Muslim heritage were even indicted for violent plots. Only one act of violence was traced to such a group, which produced no casualties.

Rep. Peter King is a big supporter of the old 1980s Irish Republican Army, which killed two Americans in a bombing at Harrod’s department store in London. The man’s feet won’t touch the ground when he walks because of the rivers of hypocrisy exuding from between his toes.

Read the rest at the link.

Like I said at the beginning of this morning’s reads, lots of links for you today. More after the jump.

This next article was posted on the ACLU blog before Obama came out with his fuck you Social Security budget proposal, so I can assure you that his answer to the ACLU request would also be along the same lines….fuck you. Mr. President, Walk With Us On Our Journey for Equal Pay | American Civil Liberties Union

Today, the ACLU joined over 100 organizations to send a letter to President Obama asking for executive action to combat pay discrimination.

For far too long, equal pay has been out of reach for many women as a result of workplace discrimination. We know that President Obama agrees, because he made the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act the first bill he signed into law and has repeatedly called on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would repair loopholes that, over the last half century, have weakened the Equal Pay Act of 1963—the legislation that President John F. Kennedy hoped would be a first step towards securing equal pay for equal work. Sadly, half a century later, we have many more steps to take before President Kennedy’s vision is fulfilled: women still earn, on average, just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. And women of color take home even less.

As President Obama told the entire nation in his second inaugural address, “our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.” There’s no question that passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act will help to achieve that goal, but until that happens, we urge this Administration to do everything in its power to immediately provide women with the tools they need to learn about and fight discrimination in the workplace.

With Equal Pay Day coming up on April 9, we’ve asked the President to take immediate action to ensure equal pay, even as he continues to champion the Paycheck Fairness Act. Specifically, we are calling on the President to issue an executive order that would prohibit retaliation against employees of federal contractors for discussing or inquiring about their wages.

With the stroke of a pen, such an executive order would immediately protect the 26 million Americans who work for federal contractors—roughly 20% of the American workforce. We’re also asking the Department of Labor to finalize its compensation data collection tool in order to collect employment data that will help to highlight disparities and indicate where possible discrimination exists.

Ugh, after reading that crap about asking Obama to take immediate action, with a stroke of a pen makes me want to puke. Especially after his comment about a the good-looking Attorney General Lady…Obama doesn’t like women, and I don’t think he likes democrats either.

Most of you have heard about the Monsanto protection shit that got passed last week…Who snuck in the Monsanto Protection Act?

Who snuck in the Monsanto Protection Act?
(Credit: Office of Sen. Roy Blunt)

Anger at the so-called Monsanto Protection Act — a biotech rider that protects genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks — has been directed at numerous parties in Congress and the White House for allowing the provision to be voted and signed into law. But the party responsible for anonymously introducing the rider into the broad, unrelated spending bill had not been identified until now.

As Mother Jones’ Tom Philpott notes, the senator responsible is Missouri Republican Roy Blunt — famed friend of Big Agrigulture on Capitol Hill. Blunt even told Politico’s David Rogers that he “worked with” Monsanto to craft the rider (rendering the moniker “Monsanto Protection Act” all the more appropriate).

I mean look at the guy, he even smiles like an asshole!

While we are on the subject of assholes, did you hear about those pro-life assholes in Nevada?

‘Pro-Lifers’ Want To Kill NV Assemblywoman For Supporting Sex Ed (VIDEO)

When your state has the fourth highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, and among the eight highest rates for repeat teen pregnancies, you’d think legislators might reconsider their abstinence-only sexual education programs. And, in the case of Nevada, you’d be right. Unfortunately, supporting sexual education and teen pregnancy prevention may prove deadly … as Democratic Nevada State Assembly Woman Lucy Flores has discovered.

Ray Hagar from the Reno Gazette Journal reported that on April 1st, Flores spoke in favor of Assembly Bill 230, which “revises provisions governing courses of instruction in sex education … to establish a comprehensive, age-appropriate and medically accurate course of instruction in sex education,” according to the language in the bill.

According to Hagar, Flores described a hardscrabble childhood with six sisters and a single father working two jobs to make ends meet, then tearfully confessed to having an abortion at age 16.

Nevada lawmaker gets death threats after revealing her abortion at sex ed talk

“I’m going to say something I’ve never said publicly before, because — Why not? I’ve been open about everything else?” Democratic Assemblywoman Lucy Flores reportedly told the state Assembly Education Committee on Monday. “I had six other sisters, all of them became pregnant in their teens — all of them. One was 14 years old when she got pregnant with twins. That is what I had to learn from.”

“I had an abortion because I didn’t have access to birth control, or even an understanding of what that meant,” she explained. “I didn’t even understand that my worth did not come from men, or sex with men, trying to fill up a hole in me from so much pain.”

Nevada’s Assembly Bill 230 would update Nevada’s current abstinence-only education with a more comprehensive sex education program in public schools.

After several Nevada news sites published accounts of Flores’ emotional testimony, conservative websites like Life News got the message out to anti-abortion activists with headlines like: “Democratic Legislator: I Don’t Regret Killing My Baby in Abortion.”

“Unlike Flores, most women regret their abortions and tell painful stories of how they are often unable to come to grips with taking the life of their child,” Life News’ Steven Ertelt wrote.

Flores was scheduled to explain her support for Assembly Bill 230 to reporter John Ralston on the Thursday edition of Ralston Reports, but canceled before the show aired.

“Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who testified at sex ed hearing re abortion as a teen, recipient of threatening messages,” television producer Dana Gentry wrote on Twitter. “Cancels Ralston Thur.”

I thought Boston Boomer would find this next article interesting: Mogul mailman: Did Abramovich give Berezovsky letter to Putin?

Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich handed the apologetic letter from Boris Berezovsky to President Vladimir Putin, reports say. The mysterious letter was sent just days before the self-exiled oligarch was found dead in his house in Britain.

Soon after Berezovsky’s death, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that several months prior to the tragedy, the self-exiled oligarch had sent Putin a letter in which he admitted his mistakes and asked to be allowed back to Russia.

The letter is personal and will not be published, said the head of Russia’s presidential administration, Sergey Ivanov.

Peskov did not reveal the messenger’s identity.

“We are not disclosing the person, who carried the letter,” he told Interfax.

Berezovsky’s close friend Katerina Sabirova confirmed the existence of the letter to Forbes.

According to Sabirova, the runaway oligarch had been in depression for some time before his death. His condition became worse after last August he lost $5.6 billion lawsuit he filed against his former business partner, another Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich.

Well, the last two articles I have for you are historical in nature…both dealing with war. The first is with World War II: George A. Strock’s Iconic World War II Image

One of the most significant war photographs in American history is routinely taken for granted.

That’s not to say that the photo — of three dead American soldiers sprawled on a New Guinea beach early in World War II — isn’t appreciated. The death this month of A. B. C. Whipple was a reminder of its enduring importance. After a 34-year career as an editor and writer at Time Inc., Mr. Whipple considered one of his proudest achievements to have been his role in challenging the Pentagon’s censorship of that photo in 1943.

But that’s usually where the story of George A. Strock’s photo begins and ends: with the effort by Life magazine to publish it. At the time, military censors routinely refused such requests, partly for fear that Americans would be demoralized if they had any graphic understanding of the human price being paid in the war. As the story goes, the issue of printing Mr. Strock’s photo went all the way to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who lifted the ban with the canny understanding that such graphic images might actually steel American resolve

Go to the link to see the images.

The second and final link for you today is from a war long, long ago: The Secrets of the Belgammel Ram

The Belgammel Ram, discovered by British divers off the coast of Libya in 1964, was analyzed by scientists led by Nic Flemming of England’s National Oceanography Centre. The 2,000-year-old bronze battering ram was once attached to the bow of a Greek or Roman warship, and would have been used to ram the sides of enemy ships. X-rays of its internal structure were made and reassembled into a 3-D image. Chemical analysis has shown that the ram was cast as one piece, and that the lead probably came from Greece. “We will never know why the Belgammel Ram was on the seabed near Tobruk.

That is quite a lot of links, I know…hope you enjoy them. Have a wonderful Spring Sunday…and if you have time, share your thoughts with us below in the comment section.

22 Comments on “Sunday Reads: Cuba, Castro, and the Idiots at CNN”

  1. Hope you have a great day, and to start the comments off with a laugh:

    • dakinikat says:

      I have read a lot about Ybor City during prohibition. Roughest place in the US if you ask me. Makes Tombstone look civilized in comparison.

      • Ah, and the Tampa area in general too with the mafia…yeah, my family had connections with that too. It carried on into the sixties and seventies too, with the drug trafficking. Again, it is unfortunate to say…my family had its fingers in that mess as well.

  2. janicen says:

    Fascinating collection of links and stories. I’m going back to read more in-depth but I have to say I disagree with criticism of Beyonce and Jay-Z for where they chose to vacation. Why single out Cuba? The U.S. is pretty damned oppressive to their own citizens of African descent. I bristle at the notion of anyone in the U.S. telling people to stay away from Cuba because of human right’s violations especially since the U.S. has a gulag right there in Cuba! Rich white people vacation at politically questionable places all the time but are never called out but for some reason we demand that African Americans behave “responsibly” and be “good roll models”. That’s bullshit. If Beyonce and Jay-Z went to Cuba and threw their money around I say they did a lot more good for blacks in Cuba than they would have if they had stayed away.

    • I think for me the issue with Beyonce and Jay-Z’s trip to Cuba was that it seemed to be the rich mans trip to the island…a country that is very poor. I would not approve of any rich man’s vacation in Cuba whatever color they were. If there was a reason to go there, to make some kind of contribution or to document the life of the people, or learn something…to make a difference, that is something worth while. I mean, they (Beyonce and Jay-Z) have the money and the popularity to get some attention to the plight of the people there. Think about it…it is like some European celebrity billionaire going to vacation in a Roma gypsy camp and stay in a Vardo wagon because it is “quaint” and “cute.” With no mention about the horrible conditions the Roma people face every day.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I agree. I wish they had spoken up too. It could have started a conversation that would include U.S. racism. They could have expressed solidarity with Cubans of African descent.

        BTW, I think rich white people should also be confronted for insensitivity to racism in places they visit, as well as treatment of women and children. They should be confronted for keeping their money overseas, for not paying taxes, for not being patriotic or grateful for what this country has done for them. Rich people of any color should be confronted about income inequality and other kinds of discrimination on a daily basis until they wake up and realize how callous and selfish they are.

      • RalphB says:

        It appears they did start a conversation, whether knowingly or not.

      • Fannie says:

        They knew about the conditions and the history………….For me, I would have raved them ten times over, if they were to have brought in truck loads of food, clothes, and computers for the poor in Cuba……………..what I couldn’t understand is why are the Republicans investigating them for going to Cuba? I must me missing something.

        JJ, having grown up in New Orleans, I learned to luv the cuba culture, and foods. I have been so far removed for so many years, that it is refreshing to read your family connections.
        I’d like to hear more………..Thanks.

        • Yeah, I think what I was trying to say about mentioning my family, and the fact that the partner in the cigar factory was an Afro-Cuban was to make a point that here it was, in the late 1800’s…in the deep south, and a black man was a partner in a big business. This company had factories and tobacco importers in Key West, Tampa, Ybor City and Marti City.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    I voted for Obama in the last election because the alternative was slightly worse. Some of us were naive enough to believe that he finally “got the message” and would stand up to the GOP in protecting the social safety nets that made this nation stronger.

    But no, just a few months into his second term we are hearing that he is offering up “cuts” to these programs as a way to lure these morons back into the budget process using the least able among us as his “bargaining tool”.

    As the nation is beginning to feel the outcome of the sequestration measures that affect so many across the nation we are now about to witness even more cutbacks to seniors while the wealthy again go untouched.

    With the exception of the few like Bernie Sanders there is hardly one soul in congress who is standing up for what is right in DC. It is disheartening to say the least.

    Few are being served as these cuts make their way through each state that finds itself in a position to make even more drastic cuts in public service in order to balance budgets that calls for austerity across the board.

    This is “compromise” on the backs of those who can do little but stand back and watch a society collapse upon itself.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    I had so much fun reading this post, JJ. I learned quite a few things I never knew before. Thank you for pulling all this together. I still need to go read some of the links.

    Great start for a Sunday!

  5. janicen says:

    Never been a fan of MoDo but I have to say she hit this article about Hillary out of the park.

  6. NW Luna says:

    Wow, impressive round-up of news, culture, and history! Thanks, JJ.

  7. Balancing Social Security Obama Style | Firedoglake

    We haven’t seen an actual proposal yet, so we don’t know whether that is true, and it would be irresponsible not to speculate. Let’s pretend it means that minimum benefits for some group of old people will be increased. Right now, 46% of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets. Those people are utterly dependent on Social Security. I assume that means that the GB plans to increase their benefits so that none of them are below the poverty line. The poverty line for a family of 2 is currently $15,510, about $1,292 per month. The average payout of Social Security is about $1,264 to retired workers. Chart 5.J6 here from December 2011 gives us the medians and benefit levels. You can see it will take a bunch of money to bring everyone up to the poverty level, though without knowing family make-up, we can’t tell how much. I’ll take a wild stab that it’s about $1 billion a month. Currently, we pay out about $48.6 billion monthly.

    About 40 million people are currently receiving Social Security, and that number is going up as the baby boomers retire. We have to take at least as much as the increased benefits from the rest of the beneficiaries just to stay even, let alone save money.

    People nearing retirement are less prepared than ever, so we can expect that 46% figure will increase over time. So what this plan means is that in order to raise benefits for the worst off, we are going to have to slash benefits for the rest of us. Let’s be crystal clear about what that means: if you aren’t already poor, the Great Balancer is going to cut your benefits. You get no income from your savings, so as you age, you will have to spend down your assets. That includes your house, the largest asset most of us have. I assume you’ll have to sell it or take out a reverse mortgage, screwing your heirs. Eventually a huge number of us will be so poor that we get the increase in benefits.

    Let’s sum up. All these years, we paid trillions more in FICA taxes so that we would have Social Security in our old age. Turns out the real plan to raise our taxes, cut taxes for the feral rich, and screw us when we were old.

    Balance that for us, Mr. Obama.

  8. RalphB says:

    Sunday show roundup from HuffPo

    Seems to be the basics…
    1. Obama still wants a “Grand Bargain.”
    2. John Boehner has already said “No” to this offer.
    3. It is not clear that Boehner has read it.
    4. It doesn’t matter. The reason Boehner is saying “No” is because Obama has offered it.
    5. There is no budget plan that Boehner will accept.
    6. Lots of Democrats don’t like Obama’s budget plan either.
    7. In their case, they’ve actually read it, and they think it sucks, particularly on Chained CPI.
    8. Chained CPI does suck.
    9. Why is Social Security part of a “budget” discussion, anyway, you kneebiting idiots? Just raise all the income caps on contributions and get on with your lives. Gah, this doesn’t have to be hard.
    10. Anyway, anything called a “Grand Bargain” is actually a turd sandwich for the vast majority of Americans, and you should root for it to fail, like I do.
    11. You will also be rooting against the dumbest pundits in America, so take pride.
    12. Call your Congressman and remind them that if they’re trying to be a deficit hawk in a period of less than full employment, then they might as well jump down a well.

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Another crazy law in NC–couples must wait two years now before a divorce is final.

  10. ecocatwoman says:

    I’ve been listening to NPR all day & there have been some really interesting stories. This one from ATC got my attention. Recently discovered photos of Seminole Indians from 1910 are posted on the website: Give a listen to the audio once it’s up later. These photos gave Seminoles today their first look at some of their ancestors.

    Earlier Court Lewis, host of American Variety Radio. interviewed a former LA attorney who first uncovered the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal. He’s written a novel about it and is currently living in France. I think bb and Pat, in particular, will want to listen to this:

    BTW, jj I loved this post, especially since Florida was involved. LIke bb’s wonderful remembrances yesterday, childhood memories of home and family is always wonderful to hear about.