Saturday Morning Open Thread

Abortion rights advocates fill the rotunda of the State Capitol as the Senate neared its vote Friday night (Tamir Kalifa/AP)

Abortion rights advocates fill the rotunda of the State Capitol as the Senate neared its vote Friday night (Tamir Kalifa/AP)

Good Morning Sky Dancers!!

There sure is a lot of news out there for a summer Saturday. Beginning in Texas, the state senate passed a restrictive anti-abortion bill that will threaten women’s lives. The New York Times reports:

AUSTIN, Tex. — The Texas Senate gave final passage on Friday to one of the strictest anti-abortion measures in the country, legislation championed by Gov. Rick Perry, who rallied the Republican-controlled Legislature late last month after a Democratic filibuster blocked the bill and intensified already passionate resistance by abortion-rights supporters.

The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and hold abortion clinics to the same standards as hospital-style surgical centers, among other requirements. Its supporters say that the strengthened requirements for the structures and doctors will protect women’s health; opponents argue that the restrictions are actually intended to put financial pressure on the clinics that perform abortions and will force most of them to shut their doors.

Mr. Perry applauded lawmakers for passing the bill, saying “Today the Texas Legislature took its final step in our historic effort to protect life.” Legislators and anti-abortion activists, he said “tirelessly defended our smallest and most vulnerable Texans and future Texans.”

Mr. Perry does not appear to include any “right to life” for adult women in his “effort to protect life,” however. I wonder if anyone has ever asked him one simple question: are women human beings? Forced childbirth is tantamount to slavery in my opinion. Furthermore, childbirth is far more dangerous than abortion, and the restrictions will likely mean that women with problematic late term pregnancies will die or suffer grievous harm. According to the NYT story,

The bill was opposed by many doctors, including leaders of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Texas Medical Association; the gynecologists’ group has run advertisements locally that question the scientific underpinnings of the legislation and tell legislators to “Get out of our exam rooms.”

Andrea Grimes writes at RH Reality Check: As Out-Of-State Gawkers Look On, Texas Lawmakers Prepare to Pass ‘Death Sentence’ Anti-Abortion Bill. She describes a young man from Minnesota who traveled down to Texas to watch the show.

This young guy, probably a senior in high school or a freshman in college—I didn’t catch his name—said he was real tired of wearing blue, the chosen color of anti-choice supporters of HB 2. I wore orange that day, the same color as thousands of Texans who have turned up at the capitol to stand up for reproductive rights. I also wore pink earbuds, trying to follow the house debate while waiting in line. Maybe this young guy thought I couldn’t hear him. Maybe he didn’t care.

“I’m looking forward to all this being over so I can wear my orange shirts again!” he joked.

She contrasts his blase attitude with that of Yatzel Sabat, a gay woman of color

who was dragged out of that same gallery Wednesday morning by law enforcement. Sabat was not wearing orange. She was wearing black.

Her limbs bound by state troopers, she screamed in a clear, strong voice, “This bill will kill women!” as the Texas House of Representatives gave its approval to HB 2, passing the devastating legislation along to the state senate for final passage….

This bill will kill. Period.

It will kill Texans who already travel to Mexico to buy abortion pills from flea markets because they are too poor to go to a legal abortion clinic, or unable to take time off work to find a doctor’s office and wait 24 hours between a state-mandated sonogram and an abortion procedure. It will kill Texans who, if HB 2 passes, cannot travel a thousand miles round trip to a San Antonio or Dallas ambulatory surgical center for a safe, legal abortion.

Please read the whole thing if you can.


Next up, the U.S. Congress debates more cuts in food stamps as American children go hungry. From Martha White at NBC News:

For one in seven Americans, the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps, is all that stands between them and too little food.

But the complicated calculus of financial survival for the working poor also means any cuts to the roughly $80 billion SNAP, as it’s known, being considered by Congress would be felt well beyond the grocery checkout line. Buying new school clothes, family outings, even getting a toehold in the financial mainstream could be thrown into limbo.

For many of the working poor, wages just don’t go far enough. The National Employment Law project says nearly 60 percent of jobs created in the post-recession recovery pay $13.83 or less an hour, and hourly wages for some low-wage occupations fell by more than 5 percent in just three years.

Food service and temporary employment make up 43 percent of the post-recession job growth, according to NELP policy analyst Jack Temple. “They overwhelmingly pay low wages,” Temple said. “For that lower segment, you’re going to see increased use of safety net programs to make up the difference.”

Read it and weep, folks; and while you do keep in mind that the Federal deficit has been dropping steadily. The only possible reasons for the austerity agenda are to make the rich richer and punish the working poor.


The Snowden saga continues.  Reuters reports that Russia has not yet received an application for asylum from the American hacker/leaker/whistleblower/dissident–or whatever he’s being called at the moment.

Russia kept former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden at arm’s length on Saturday, saying it had not been in touch with the fugitive American and had not yet received a formal request for political asylum.

Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signaled Russia is weighing its options after Snowden, who is stranded at a Moscow airport, broke three weeks of silence and asked for refuge in Russia until he can secure safe passage to Latin America.

Washington urged Moscow to return Snowden to the United States, where he is wanted on espionage charges after revealing details of secret surveillance programs, and President Barack Obama spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin….

“We are not in contact with Snowden,” Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying in Kyrgyzstan, where he attended a foreign ministers’ meeting.

He said he had learned of Snowden’s meeting with Russian human rights activists and public figures at the airport on Friday from the media, “just like everyone else.”


Senator Elizabeth Warren is working on bringing back Glass-Steagall-like regulations on banks. From the LA Times:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has launched a campaign to make banks boring again as she pushes legislation to enact stricter regulations forcing deposit-taking financial institutions out of the investment business.

The Massachusetts Democrat wants to reinstate the Depression-era Glass-Steagall law, which separated what she called boring checking and savings accounts that are backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. from risky investment banking.

And after joining three other senators Thursday in introducing a bipartisan bill to do that, Warren went toTwitter to rally support.

She urged her Twitter followers to retweet the message, “Banks should be boring.” She emailed her political backers, asking them to support her 21st century Glass-Steagall Act, which she introduced along with Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Angus King (I-Maine).

Yesterday Warren went on CNBC to argue her case with some blonde talking head. Check it out:

As you know, yesterday Malala Yousafzai spoke to the United Nations and told the world: Being shot by Taliban made me stronger (NBC News)

Malala Yousafzai addresses the UN

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education, was given a standing ovation at the United Nations Friday as she declared the attempt on her life had only given her strength and banished any fear she once felt.

“Dear friends, on the 9th of October, 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too,” she said in her first major public appearance. “They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed.”

Speaking on her 16th birthday, she said the “terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this — weakness, fear and hopelessness died, strength, power and courage was born.”

“I am the same Malala, my ambitions are the same, my hopes are the same and my dreams are the same,” she said to thunderous applause.

What an courageous, intelligent, and inspiring and young woman she is!

On that note, I’ll turn the floor over to you. What stories are you following today. Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread. Have a stupendous Saturday

36 Comments on “Saturday Morning Open Thread”

  1. Morning all…that was some show last night. The few minutes outside after the bill was passed was very encouraging to see…because it actually made me feel like there was some sense of a movement getting its ass in gear.

    A couple of links to share:

    Protesters Question Report on Confiscations | The Texas Tribune

    The Texas Department of Public Safety said Friday that officers had discovered more than a dozen jars containing “suspected” feces and urine at the Texas Capitol, the site of an intense debate among state senators over abortion restrictions.

    In a press release, the agency offered scant details about the seizures and did not say where the items were taken or what happened to them, prompting abortion rights activists to express doubts about the official account.

    The department said the items were found after the agency received information that protesters had planned to use a “variety of items or props to disrupt legislative proceedings at the Texas Capitol.”

    “During these inspections, DPS officers have thus far discovered one jar suspected to contain urine, 18 jars suspected to contain feces, and three bottles suspected to contain paint,” the news release said. “All of these items — as well as significant quantities of feminine hygiene products, glitter and confetti possessed by individuals — were required to be discarded; otherwise those individuals were denied entry into the gallery.”

    DPS officers outside the Senate gallery and at each entrance to the Capitol told The Texas Tribune they had not seen or found jars containing feces or urine, and multiple officers throughout the Capitol said they had not heard of any jars being found until a reporter mentioned it. Several officers also said they had not heard anything on the DPS radio system about jars of any excrement.

    On social media and in interviews, abortion rights protesters questioned the report, calling it an attempt by DPS to bolster Republican credibility during a contentious debate that has drawn national attention.

    The office of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst referred questions about the seizure back to the DPS. The agency’s press office pointed to the news release and said it would not elaborate beyond that.

    Sandie Haverlah, an Austin-based abortion rights activist, cast doubt on the assertion by the agency.

    “There are hundreds of people out there posting everything they see on Twitter and Facebook,” she said. “Certainly, out of 18 or 19 jars of this, a person would have put this out there. Even if you’re wearing a blue shirt, wouldn’t you post it? No one has said a word.”

    And this coverage too: Abortion Bill Finally Passes Texas Legislature | The Texas Tribune

  2. Have y’all seen the story about that idiot news team out in San Francisco?

    NTSB confirmed fake pilot names of Flight 214 – Nick Gass –

    The NTSB said late Friday that an intern had confirmed to a California news station the fake names of the pilots aboard the crashed Asiana flight in San Francisco, sparking an outcry in the national media and prompting an on-air apology from the station.

    “The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes for inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the pilots of Asiana flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6,” the NTSB said in a statement released Friday night.

    Read more:

    ‘Ho Lee Fuk’: Someone Pranked San Francisco TV Station Into Reporting Fabricated Names Of Asiana Pilots | Mediaite

    A local Fox affiliate, the San Francisco powerhouse station KTVU, is dealing with the fallout of a major error on Friday. During their noon broadcast, a report on the deadly Asiana Airlines crash took a turn for the unintentionally offensive when they broadcast the names of pilots in charge of that flight. The mangled Asian-sounding names were, in fact, thinly-disguised expletives mocking the sentiments expressed by the crash victims and their families.

    The supposed names of the crash victims broadcast on KTVU included “Sum Ting Wong,” “Ho Lee Fuk,” and “Bang Ding Ow.”

    All the NTSB dude did was confirm…I mean, the real fault lies with the idiots who believed the first source who gave the pilot names…how can you not fucking realize that is a joke?

    I love what one of the comments in that mediaite post says:

    The station is now blaming one of their newly-hired fact-checkers, Wei Tu Dum, for the incident.

    Here is the video…you have to watch it and try not to laugh too hard.

    Yes, I know it is terrible and racist and in bad taste but it is hilarious too…these stupid ass reporters…geez, the horrible state of journalism today.

    • Actually, I wouldn’t doubt the guy from the NTSB thought the call was a prank itself…and said yeah those were the names, thinking he was talking to a person that was just prank calling him.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That would be even funnier!

        • I am not the only one who thought that, from one of the comments on Mediaite:

          I’m thinking the intern thought it was a prank call and just did the normal…”yeah, right” before hanging up. I guess that constituted a go for the idiot who asked.

      • RalphB says:

        I called senior officials Mike Hunt, Heywood Jablomie, and I. P. Freeley at KTVU for confirmation, but no one returned my calls. KTVU is a Fox affiliate.

        stolen from John Cole.

    • janicen says:

      I’m not going to lie, I have watched the broadcast again and again and laughed hard every time. It’s a prank on the new station and they were stupid enough to fall for it. From what I understand, the NTSB never releases names of anyone involved in plane crashes. Maybe the airlines do but not the NTSB. So I imagine that the idiots at the station were pestering the NTSB for names that had already been released by the AP a few days ago by the way, and the intern just said “Here ya go idiots”

      “Racism” seems a bit strong a term for all of this. Insensitive yes, especially considering people died, but anyone who has ever watched The Simpsons knows this is absolutely something Bart would try to pull.

      I have enjoyed reading the comments in the various posts about this. Most are safely politically correct but a few a pretty funny. One person said he suspects this is the work of some young guy.

    • RalphB says:

      Much praise to the NTSB intern for the confirmation. Hilarious!

    • roofingbird says:

      SF is almost 36% Asian American. If KTVU, which used to be a good station, did this, its worse than a faux pas. It suggests that the managers are not local, that they do not hire representationally, that Asian Americans they do hire are not given responsible jobs, and that they have their head up their ass.

      SF State has media and TV degrees. Where are those people?

      • roofingbird says:

        Even those Asian Americans that speak only english, would have known something was wrong. I’m a white Californian and I would have.

        Maybe I’m harping on this too much, but everywhere I worked in SF, and where Hubby still does, Asian Americans easily represented a third or much more of the professions, because, Asian Americans in SF from grade school up, push their kids to excel and pool their extended family money to send their kids to college. You can’t live there and not be sensitive to a slur like that. That commentator didn’t even pronounce Asiana right.

        • janicen says:

          Exactly right. It says a whole lot about the quality of the news director and the anchor and mass media “journalism” as a whole. These people aren’t journalists, they read words. They don’t even know or care what words they are paid to read words. That’s what the corporations who own them want. “You read what I tell you to read. I don’t pay you to think.”

      • roofingbird says:

        If you want to run it on the Onion, or SNL fine. I don’t find it amusing, but I won’t fight the battle there. It’s still offensive, and trivializes the event.

        • bostonboomer says:

          It was everywhere on twitter yesterday. I’m not sure how JJ posting it at our little blog could make anything worse. Maybe I’m misunderstanding your point.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Indiana boy buried for three hours under 11 feet of sand emerges alive

    Rescue teams worked for 3.5 hours on Friday to save a 6-year-old boy who sank deep into a sand dune at an Indiana national park.

    The boy, whose name hasn’t been released, was reportedly found under 11 feet of sand in an area of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore that was blocked for restoration. He was airlifted by helicopter to a Chicago hospital.

    La Porte County Deputy Coroner Mark Huffman called the rescue “a miracle.”
    “He isn’t out of the woods yet, but … they found him,” Huffman told The News Dispatch. “He was under (the sand) for three hours or more. It’s just amazing.”

  4. janicen says:

    … Russia has not yet received an application for asylum from the American hacker/leaker/whistleblower/dissident–or whatever he’s being called at the moment.

    “Traitor” works for me.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I don’t think Snowden’s crimes meet the technical Constitutional definition of treason. He hasn’t levied war against the U.S. or given aid and comfort to enemies of the U.S.

      • janicen says:

        Okay, but he certainly could be accused of espionage. I’ll still call him a traitor in conversation however. In my view he has aided foreign countries even if they are not technically considered enemies of the U.S.. I understand the need to be technically correct but I can still hate him. 😉

        • bostonboomer says:

          I understand. I’m not really comfortable with that label, but I get your point. I think this story is going to take a long time to play out, and I’m trying to stay open-minded–even though, like you, I find Snowden distasteful.

          What bothers me most of all is Snowden is so unsophisticated politically. His whole focus is on himself. I guess that’s the libertarian mind-set. It’s the same with Greenwald. Neither of these guys is talking about what can be done differently or how we could regulate NSA or reform the FISA court. It’s shocking to me that John Roberts is in control of who gets on the FISA court. In terms of spying, he is more powerful than the President!

        • joanelle says:

          Snowden is an example of the self-important attitude that too many (like those that put O in office) have, not really thinking of the consequences of their actions – just shooting from the hip, in this case I think he shot himself in the foot.

      • roofingbird says:

        Yep. If anything, sedition.

      • peej says:

        True. Yet, at least on a rhetorical level, Snowden justifies his actions as a countermeasure to America’s engagement in “cyber war.” Those are his words, indicating that he views America “at war.” He views his leakage as some sort of personal intervention into criminal belligerence committed against the entire world – with the explicit intention of thwarting and ending America’s cyber war waged against the international community. And given that U.S. diplomacy now mires itself in the nebulous strategy of “economic statecraft” – aiding and abetting may no longer contain clear meaning either.

        I haven’t abandoned my BRICS hypothesis yet. At the very least, examining BRICS (and by extension the Beijing Consensus) a little more closely has been interesting. I’d not been scrutinizing either too intensely for a while. At any rate, a few matters stand out, some of which may play into that blurry field between treason and espionage.

        Although Brazil tacitly rejected Snowden’s asylum request on July 2, by July 11 it had expressed interest in seeking Snowden’s assistance during its own senate probe into the NSA. Interestingly enough, that assistance needn’t occur on Brazilian territory:

        Brazil also is calling on the ITU (the International Telecommunication Union headquartered in Switzerland and a PPP by the way – meaning an existential threat to democracy if you ask me) to introduce new changes in ITU rules – and let’s not forget Snowden’s time in Switzerland (under diplomatic cover) marked one of his transition points for turning against the American national security apparatus. Although, I’d have to say, on the surface ITU looks pretty groundbreaking and exciting, and possibly more of an existential threat to whomever might have current advantage in “controlling” the world wide web – which at the moment seems to be the USA.

        Now, I find this extremely interesting given Snowden’s turn toward EU/UK complicity with America’s surveillance apparatus as in Der Spiegel when he said of the NSA: “They are in bed with the Germans, just like with most other Western states.” Also this piece from Lode Vanoost, particularly in light of Brazil’s appeal to the ITU:

        Also – I’m not familiar with this publication BRICS Post – just found it – haven’t evaluated it thoroughly – don’t know how reliable it is. But it had some interesting takes. So, thought I’d pass it on.

        ITU’s website:

        Conspiratorial speculation aside, at the very least, I think it’s useful to keep global perspectives in mind as the Snowden-Greenwald-Assange-Wikileaks story unfolds.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Russia Today says that if Russia were to accept Snowden’s application, he would most likely have to stay there. They see him as “real headache” and would rather have him apply to the UN for refugee status.

    James Petras, an author and professor at Birmingham University in the UK, believes that Snowden would, in fact, find it very hard to fly out of Russia.

    “Snowden would have great difficulties flying out of Russia because the ways of moving to Venezuela would be prohibited. I think his decision to seek asylum in Russia is a practical one,” he told RT.

    Aleksandr Nekrassov, a political commentator based in London, believes Snowden is desperate – and Russia is his last hope.

    “If you want to really resolve your problems, you don’t call human rights activists, you ask diplomats and politicians to conduct talks behind the scenes,” he told RT.

    Nekrassov added that Snowden is not a whistleblower in the true sense of the word because he didn’t reveal anything that was not already known, at least by governments.

    “There is nothing new that we didn’t know. This spying went on for decades and the Americans actually invented the internet to spy on others,” he stated.

    He also said that Snowden is “a big headache” for the Kremlin which they would rather not have to deal with.

    • RalphB says:

      It’s been well known enough that the big NSA collection site in England has been shown in movies before. 🙂

  6. RalphB says:

    I don’t blame Schweitzer but the Dems need to find a good candidate now.

    APNewsBreak: Former Democratic Mont. Gov. Schweitzer won’t run for open US Senate seat

  7. Sosyncneewini says:

    In what has to be one of the more embarrassing cock-ups in TV news history, KTVU, a Bay Area news station announced on its noon show today that the pilots of the Asiana flight 214 which crashed as it attempted to land at San Francisco airport last Saturday were named, and I am not making this up, “Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk,” and…
    Continue Reading: