Evening News: Rachel, Leticia, Wendy and Raccoon Dogs from Super Mario Bros.

6a00d83451ccbc69e2011168ccb7a4970c-400wiGood Evening…

Let’s start tonight’s round-up with a look at today’s courtroom appearance of Rachel Jeantel. She is the friend of Trayvon Martin, the one who was on the phone with him the night he was murdered by George Zimmerman. The smearing of Rachel Jeantel – Salon.com

Rachel Jeantel is a 19-year-old Florida woman. On Facebook and Twitter, she’s been known to post photos of her nails and talk about drinking. She is also the last person to have spoken with Trayvon Martin before George Zimmerman shot him to death last year, the woman who was on the phone with him when his fateful encounter unfolded. She is known in the justice system as Witness #8 in Zimmerman’s trial. She is, in fact, the prosecution’s key witness. But you’d be forgiven if you’d gotten the impression recently that she was sitting up there to defend herself.The smearing of Rachel Jeantel
Rachel Jeantel, the witness that was on the phone with Trayvon Martin just before he died, gives her testimony to the prosecution during George Zimmerman’s trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla. Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.(AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Jacob Langston, Pool) (Credit: AP)

Jeantel does not fit the comfortable image of the grieving girl. As Rachel Samara wrote Wednesday in Global Grind, “A predominantly white jury is not going to like Rachel Jeantel,” a girl “who has no media training and who is fully entrenched in a hostile environment.” There is confusion over whether or not she was Martin’s girlfriend, which eradicates her chances of being depicted as a devastated young quasi-widow. On the stand, she has been blunt, hostile and at times seemingly confused. Online, she has a documented history that includes partying. She is not thin or blond or demure. So there goes her credibility.

You can read more of this good review of the way things have been going with the testimony and questioning of Rachel. If you want to see some of the video from the past two days you can catch some of the highlights here:  Rachel Jeantel | Mediaite

Now on to Leticia: Shakesville: ♥ Senator Leticia Van de Putte ♥

At the end of Texas Senator Wendy Davis’ epic filibuster Tuesday night, after it had been ended by her mendacious Republican colleagues, right before midnight, Senator Leticia Van de Putte took the mic. And then this happened:

Cygnus…there is the video you were looking for! Here is what Leticia had to say:

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, a middle-aged Latina woman, holds a mic and says: “Mr. President, a parliamentary inquiry.” Offscreen, the president of the state senate, a white man, says, “State your inquiry.” Van de Putte asks, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?” Cheers and applause. The video ends after a few moments, but the cheering and applause continued for ages.

Okay, back to the Shakesville post:

Yesterday, she penned a piece for the Houston Chronicle titled “Why I stood with Wendy: Texas women must be heard.” [NB: Not only women need access to a full spectrum of reproductive choice.] You should definitely read the whole thing, because it is very good! I especially loved this:

Unfortunately, some of my Senate colleagues do not believe in trusting women with their reproductive organs. It’s amazing to me that they do not trust women with a choice, but they trust them with a child.


If you would like to send her a thank-you for also standing up for women and other people with uteri in Texas and throughout the country, you can send a note to her here.

Alright, lastly…Wendy Davis kicked some ass a couple of days ago…today Rick Perry said a few things that makes me want to go kick his ass. Here is what Digby said about it: “The louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done.”

What a piece of garbage:

TEXAS GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: “In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of as single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate. It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.”

It really takes some brass for this privileged jackass to not only tell women what they can do with their own bodies but also lecture them on the lessons they should take from their own life experience. We’re not even allowed to have that, I guess.

But that’s not even the worst of it:

During his remarks, the Texas governor also described Davis’ filibuster as “hijacking of the Democratic process” and said of the pro-choice movement, “the louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done.”

She then goes on to mention the shit going on in Ohio…and she says:

The right to abortion has been acknowledged for 40 years now. That they are still pulling this crap a full generation later proves that no matter how much you think your rights are secured, these people will be trying to roll them back. After all, just this week the US Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act at a time of systematic vote suppression.

It’s good to celebrate our progress. But nobody should be complacent.

That is something we have been saying here for a long, long time.

I want to end with this link about a primitive dog, that looks like a Raccoon…Raccoon Dogs Invading Europe


They can’t fly or turn into statues, but the creatures that inspired the magic suit that turned Mario into a killer raccoon from Japanese mythology are real, and they don’t need magic powers to invade Europe. Raccoon dogs — which despite their raccoon-like aesthetic are primitive canines and not related to the raccoon — are becoming more widespread throughout  Europe. Then again, it’s kind of hard to have a problem with an invasion by a creature this charming.

Native to Korea and Japan, raccoon dogs may be most familiar to many readers as the inspiration for the mythological tanuki, the magical raccoon made famous in Super Marios Bros.3 where the accepted spelling is apparently Tanooki? Okay, sure. Of course, raccoon dogs don’t have the powers ascribed to them by the game, nor do they boast the grotesquely over-sized testicles they were famed for in Japanese mythology, a facet of tanuki lore that was inexplicably scrubbed from the video game version.

What the furry, face-masked creatures do have is a great deal of adaptability. Their ability to live in a wide variety of environments — from forests to meadows to urban areas — has helped the raccoon dog population boom since they were introduced to Europe in the early 20th century. Initially brought to Europe by Russians who enjoyed hunting the creatures, raccoon dogs weren’t content to loaf there, and over the course of decades, they’ve expanded their range to include large swaths of Central Europe and even Scandinavian countries like Finland.

Isn’t that something? They look like raccoons, or even like that red panda that escaped from the National Zoo last week.

A new paper released this month in the Journal of Zoology traces the evolution of the raccoon dog from its roots in Asia, though, and suggests that we may have seen nothing yet as far as the tanukis spread. The paper suggests that populations of the animals dwindled sharply, only to explode when the ice sheets retreated at the end of the last ice age. Considering we’re not due for any more ice ages in the near future, and things are actively heating up in many parts of the world, we may have only seen the beginning of the raccoon dogs intercontinental adventure. There are worse fates, though — as far as invasive species go, we’ll always take ones you can cuddle with over ones you can’t. Looking at you, Asian carp. You know what you did.

Y’all have a great night.

This is an open thread.


31 Comments on “Evening News: Rachel, Leticia, Wendy and Raccoon Dogs from Super Mario Bros.”

  1. Aren’t those little boogers cute!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I watched Rachel testify today, and I thought she was very credible. The defense attorney badgered her for hours and she stuck to her story. He was very frustrated. I can’t believe the leading questions he was allowed to ask her either. She’s only 19. If that were me, I would either have been incredibly angry or crying. I don’t think the women on the jury are going to like the way West beat her up, especially after the knock knock joke.

    • I thought she was credible too. The judge even mentioned something about her answers being the same even with West badgering her like he was.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I don’t care if the women in the jury are all white. I think they will be turned off by the way West treated her.

        • Oh yeah I agree with that.

        • Damn, I just realized I did not quote the part of the article that makes the point I wanted to make.

          Here is what is true about Jeantel. She has publicly admitted to underage drinking and getting high. She is a poor speller (at least on social media). Her way with words is not calculated to win favor – she has testified that Martin told her “a creepy-ass cracker” was following him. She has responded to the defense’s line of questioning with an icy “You got it?” and “That’s retarded, sir.” The Daily News describes her diction as “often difficult-to-understand” and says it’s “cringe-worthy” and “humiliating” that she couldn’t read a letter out loud on the stand because she says, “I don’t read cursive.” Jeantel has also admitted to law enforcement that she lied about her initial claim that she didn’t attend Martin’s funeral because she was hospitalized at the time; she now says that she felt too “guilty” to face his parents and “didn’t want to see the body.” She admits that at the beginning of the investigation, she said she was under 18, because she didn’t want to get involved. She is unpolished and emotional.

          So is she a reliable witness? That’s yet to be determined. And watching her struggling to articulate “the sound of wet grass” to the jury, you can see not just her frustration but defense lawyer Don West’s undisguised exasperation. But when outlets like MSN gleefully seize upon the fact that she’s posting photographs of her nails, they invite exactly the kind of troubling and deeply offensive conclusions about what a “bitch,” what “ghetto trash,” what an “ugly ho” “buffalo” she is, that they have been racking up ad nauseam.

          Of course it’s the job of the defense to question her and cast doubt on her testimony. And of course it is significant that her version of events has varied. There’s a lot at stake. George Zimmerman decided Trayvon Martin’s fate on Feb. 26, 2012, and now a jury will decide his. A jury that, by the way, is part of a justice system that is not supposed to exclusively serve the best educated and most articulate of our citizenry. So now would be a good time to point out that Jeantel’s weight, her nails, her sex, her color – these things have precisely jack to do with her account of what happened the night Travyon Martin died. Justice is supposed to serve teenagers too, and people who party and who don’t hide it when they’re angry or flustered, and women who can’t read cursive. It’s supposed to serve people whose dialogue wasn’t written for them by David E. Kelley. Remember that. Remember that Rachel Jeantel is not the one on trial.

          She was honest on the stand, and I think that is what came through in her testimony. Damn…That bit I put up there was describing some of the “smearing” that was going on.

  3. Fannie says:

    Let’s get this plastered going forward on Perry. Asked what the thought of Davis as a possible gubernatorial candidate, Perry shrugged and said: “I DON”T HAVE A CLUE”…………..Somebody take that to Wendy, and plaster it all over fucking Texas.

    You in Ralph?

  4. RalphB says:

    Given that we are all just specks of cosmic dust searching in vain for meaning, does it really matter who peed where? — Henri, le Chat Noir (from fb)

    It was hot today, 102 and forecast 105/104 for the weekend.

  5. Mr. Mike says:

    Murder the unlawful killing of a person or so says Merriam Webster. George Zimmerman has been charged and is on trial but has yet to be found guilty. For some that point is lost, why am I reminded of the Duke university lacrosse team scandal?

  6. Babama says:

    “It’s good to celebrate our progress. But nobody should be complacent.”

    “That is something we have been saying here for a long, long time.”

    So true. Thank you. Please don’t ever stop. It is one of the reasons I keep coming here.

  7. Okay, this is something I would love to see: An Open Letter to Paula Deen | Afroculinaria

    Dear Paula Deen,

    So it’s been a tough week for you… believe me you I know something about tough weeks being a beginning food writer and lowly culinary historian. Of course honey, I’d kill for one of your worst days as I could rest myself on the lanai, the veranda, the portico (okay that was really tongue in cheek), the porch..whatever…as long as its breezy and mosquito-free. First Food Network now Smithfield. (Well not so mad about Smithfield—not the most ethical place to shill for, eh, Paula?)

    I am currently engaged in a project I began in 2011 called The Cooking Gene Project—my goal to examine family and food history as the descendant of Africans, Europeans and Native Americans—enslaved people and enslavers—from Africa to America and from Slavery to Freedom. You and I are both human, we are both Americans, we are both quite “healthily” built, and yet none of these labels is more profound for me than the fact we are both Southern. Sweet tea runs in our blood, in fact is our blood…What I understand to be true, a lot of your critics don’t…which is, as Southerners our ancestors co-created the food and hospitality and manners which you were born to 66 years ago and I, thirty-six. In the words of scholar Mechal Sobel, this was “a world they made together,” but beyond that, it is a world we make together. So I speak to you as a fellow Southerner, a cousin if you will, not as a combatant.

    Go read the whole thing but I will cut to the part where he asks her to come and cook with him.

    If you aren’t busy on September 7, and I surely doubt that you are not busy—I would like to invite you to a gathering at a historic antebellum North Carolina plantation. We are doing a fundraiser dinner for Historic Stagville, a North Carolina Historic Site. One of the largest in fact, much larger than the one owned by your great-grandfather’s in Georgia. 30,000 acres once upon a time with 900 enslaved African Americans working the land over time. They grew tobacco, corn, wheat and cotton. I want you to walk the grounds with me, go into the cabins, and most of all I want you to help me cook. Everything is being prepared using locally sourced food, half of which we hope will come from North Carolina’s African American farmers who so desperately need our support. Everything will be cooked according to 19th century methods. So September 7, 2013, if you’re brave enough, let’s bake bread and break bread together at Historic Stagville. This isn’t publicity this is opportunity. Leave the cameras at home. Don’t worry, it’s cool, nobody will harm you if you’re willing to walk to the Mourner’s Bench. Better yet, I’ll be there right with you.

    G-d Bless,

    Culinary Historian, Food Writer and Living History Interpreter

    Michael W. Twitty

  8. List of X says:

    It’s ironic how Governor Perry preaches that “every life matters” when millions of Texans have no health insurance solely thanks to his rejection of expansion of Medicare – which means hundreds, if not thousands early deaths every year for the people who can’t afford necessary treatment.

  9. littleisis says:

    Rick perry can blow me. My grades are better than his were in college. I remember when he was running last year they were like, “that’s ok he uses an ipad to keep up on current events.” Well, shit. If owning an ipad qualifies you I guess my five year old niece should be the next president.
    It just blows my mind that we are still fighting for our basic rights four decades later. Since when was the voting rights act not a done deal? Jesus Christ.