Saturday Reads

Dec. 7, 1941: The destroyer Shaw's forward magazine explodes after being struck during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (LA Times).

Dec. 7, 1941: The destroyer Shaw’s forward magazine explodes after being struck during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (LA Times).

Good Morning!!

Today is Pearl Harbor Day, “a date which will live in infamy,” December 7, 1941. From the LA Times:

An Associated Press story on the Dec. 8, 1941, front page of the Los Angeles Times reported:

Japan assaulted every main United States and British possession in the Central and Western Pacific and invaded Thailand today (Monday) in a hasty but evidently shrewdly-planned prosecution of a war began Sunday without warning.

Her formal declaration of war against both the United States and Britain came 2 hours and 55 minutes after Japanese planes spread death and terrific destruction in Honolulu and Pearl Harbor at 7:35 a.m. Hawaiian time (10:05 a.m., P.S.T.) Sunday.

The claimed successes for the fell swoop included sinking of the United States battleship West Virginia and setting afire of the battleship Oklahoma.

On Dec. 8, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt started his famous speech:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives: Yesterday, Dec. 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

Within an hour, Congress passed a declaration of war against Japan, bringing the United States into World War II. On Dec. 11, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

There are more dramatic photos at the link. There aren’t many survivors of that day left, but at least two of them talked to news outlets yesterday. From the Denver Post:

COLORADO SPRINGS — No one asked Navy Lt. James Downing to hurriedly memorize the names on the dog tags of the dead and injured during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

But Downing, then 28, did it because he could not bear the thought of families not knowing the fate of their loved ones. He wrote to as many families as he could.

The Colorado Springs resident, who celebrated his 100th birthday in August, is the oldest known survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese sneak attack that killed more than 2,400 Americans .

Downing fought to save lives that day, all the while wondering whether it was the day his own life would end.
Downing was a gunner’s mate 1st class and postmaster, assigned to the USS West Virginia. The battleship had just returned to base after more than a week on patrol.

His wife of five months, Morena, was cooking Sunday morning breakfast for a few servicemen in the couple’s home near the harbor when they heard explosions in the distance, Downing said.

“Then an anti-aircraft shell landed right outside and blew a crater about 25 feet across,” Downing said, illustrating with outstretched arms.

In those days, there was no way for survivors to let their families know they were okay–it took until Christmas for some to be able to to contact loved ones. Another Pearl Harbor survivor, Richard Pena, spoke to Huffington Post.

It was life and business as usual for Navy veteran Richard Pena until the bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor just before 8 a.m. on December 7, 1941.

Pena was eating breakfast and was about to head out for his morning duty as quartermaster to raise the flag when the attack started, he told HuffPost Live. As far as he recalls, the flags never went up that day, Pena said.

Before the attack, Pena said he and his fellow officers were living “the good life” stationed in Hawaii. Coming from San Antonio, Texas, it was his first time away from home.

“In the blinking of an eye, a split second, your life is turned topsy-turvy,” Pena reminisced. “It’s hard to describe what you’re feeling. People tell you you’ve trained for this all the time, but you didn’t know that it was going to happen the way it did.”


Back in December 2013, much of the country is dealing with stormy weather. CNN reports: Power outages, travel nightmare — and snow in Vegas?

More sleet and subfreezing temperatures are predicted to hit areas from Dallas to Memphis until Sunday, and Little Rock, Arkansas, until Monday.

The nation’s capital will not be spared from the cold either. Snow or sleet is forecast for Washington on Sunday.

In the central Appalachians through central New England, snow is expected into early Saturday morning, the National Weather Service said.

In addition to the plummeting temperatures, the drastic swings were startling. Hot Springs, Arkansas, experienced a record high of 75 on Wednesday. By Friday, it was in the middle of an ice storm.

The Dallas/Fort Worth area is among the hardest hit. It will have a high of 27 degrees Saturday, a day after the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport canceled almost 700 flights, about 80% of those scheduled.

And, yes, Las Vegas will be in the 20’s over the weekend.

The bad weather across the South and Midwest came from winter storm Cleon. Out in the Northwest, winter storm Dion is gearing up to rush across the country, impacting the south and moving up into the Northeast. You can get live updates on Dion here. For once, eastern New England could be one of the least affected areas. We got some freezing rain last night and the streets are slippery this morning, but it’s no big deal. The only other impact on us will probably be some sleet and freezing rain on Monday morning. I’m really feeling for those of you who are suffering from these storms. Trust me, I know what you’re going through! Here are some of the records that have been set around the the country:

  • Denver: Record low of -13 degrees on Wednesday beat the old record of -5 degrees set in 2008. Thursday’s low of -15 tied the daily record. Denver dropped to -13 degrees on Saturday morning, tying another record low.
  • Ely, Nev.: Record low of -17 degrees on Wednesday crushed the old record of -5 degrees.
  • Great Falls, Mont.: Record low of on Wednesday topped the old record of 22 degrees below zero.
  • Casper, Wyo.: Record low of -22 degrees on Wednesday beat the old record of -11 degrees set in 1972.
  • Medford, Ore: Record low of 18 degrees on Wednesday and a record low of 14 on Thursday. According to the National Weather Service, this is the coldest air mass in the city since 1998.
  • Portland, Ore. and Astoria, Ore.: Three straight days with daily record lows through Tuesday through Thursday.
  • Spokane, Wash.: Saw its first high in the teens since Feb. 26, 2011 on Thursday.
  • Glasgow, Mont.: Recorded its first subzero high temperature since Jan. 18, 2012 on Thursday.
  • Great Falls, Mont.: Low of -33 degrees on Saturday was the coldest temperature recorded so early in the season. Previous record was Dec. 8, 1972 (-36 degrees).

Some good news: North Korea has released (they say “deported”) 85-year old Korean war veteran Merrill Newman after holding him prisoner for more than a month and forcing him to “apologize.” The Independent reports:

North Korea has deported an elderly US tourist and Korean War veteran detained since October for alleged hostile acts against the country.

The country’s official state news agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Merrill Newman has been expelled on “humanitarian grounds” because of his age and health after he “confessed” to crimes during the 1950-53 war and apologised.

The 85-year-old flew to China this morning where he boarded a flight to San Francisco. Speaking to Japanese reporters at Beijing airport, he said: “I’m very glad to be on my way home. And I appreciate the tolerance the DPRK government has given to me to be on my way. I feel good, I feel good. I want to go home to see my wife.”

[Newman] has been in detention since being taken off a plane on October 26 by North Korean authorities following a 10-day tour of the country. KCNA claimed that Merrill had ordered the deaths of North Korean civilians and soldiers during the war. His family say he was a victim of mistaken identity.

I have some more new and some longer reads for you, which I’ll list link dump style.

MassLive: President Obama’s uncle, Onyango Obama, to face deportation hearing in Boston.

According to a court docket, the case will be heard by Immigration Judge Leonard Shapiro on Tuesday afternoon in Boston Immigration Court at the John F. Kennedy Federal Building.

Onyango Obama is the president’s father’s half brother.

A judge issued a deportation order against Onyango Obama, who is from Kenya, in 1992. But Obama never left the country. The Boston Globe reported that Obama was working as a liquor store manager when the Framingham Police arrested him for drunk driving in August 2011. He was sentenced to probation in that case, and the charges brought renewed attention to his immigration status.

The Globe reported that Obama has been living in the United States since 1963, when he came to enroll in school here as a 17-year-old. He was first ordered deported in 1986, although appeals continued in that case for six years.

For Pete’s sake, why can’t they just let the poor guy stay in the US? He’s been here for 50 years! Meanwhile, President Obama acknowledged that he lived with his uncle briefly in the 1980s. It had been thought that the two had never met, but no one bothered to ask the President directly about it until now.

New research on Toxoplasmosis  gondii, the parasite associated with cat litter boxes, undercooked meat, and other sources, shows that it can have some positive effects on the brain.

New neuroscience research says that Toxo—the cysts in our brains from cats—can improve our self-control. For the 30 percent of people who have this infection, it’s about more than promiscuity, schizophrenia, and car crashes.

I’ll let you read the details at the link if you so desire. I decided not to read about it, since there’s nothing I can do if I have it…

This article in the Atlantic is from September, and it’s long; but I highly recommend it if you like human interest stories and/or true crime tales. Murder by Craigslist: A serial killer finds a newly vulnerable class of victims: white, working-class men. Fascinating and surprising reading–I highly recommend it.

From Technology Review: Identifying Signs of Chronic Brain Injury in Living Football Players

Eight former pro football players learned this year that they have signs of a degenerative brain disorder called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition linked to depression, dementia, and memory loss. These somber findings were uncovered using a new method of brain imaging that, for the first time, enables researchers to spot signs of the condition in the living brain. Previously CTE could only be identified after a victim died.

The new method could help quantify the risks of repetitive blows to the head (see “Images of a Hard-Hitting Disease” and “Military Brains Donated for Trauma Research”). It could also help future players avoid the degenerative and sometimes lethal condition by limiting their exposure, and it may help scientists develop better protective gear and treatments.

Two interesting reads from Alternet:

20 Things the Poor Do Everyday That the Rich Never Have to Worry About

This one partially explains why I’m so down on Glenn Greenwald: Why Atheist Libertarians Are Part of America’s 1 Percent Problem

This morning’s stupid right winger stories:

Rick Santorum: Nelson Mandela Fought ‘Great Injustice,’ Just Like Republicans Are Battling Obamacare

Eric Cantor Calls the Police on Children Who Were Singing In His Office

House Majority Leader Brushes Off Young Girl As She Asks Him To Help Her Undocumented Father

The Right Wing’s Campaign To Discredit And Undermine Mandela, In One Timeline

Those are my offerings for today. What stories are you following? Please let us know in the comment thread, and if you are in the path of Cleon and/or Dion, please stay safe and warm and update us on your situations if you can.

41 Comments on “Saturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:
    • RalphB says:

      The Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett that Ryan O’Neal and the University of TX have been fighting over got valued at $12 million by an expert witness. At least now I know why they are in court fighting over it.

  2. Fannie says:

    Got Snow – If Rick Santorum had half a brain, he’d know that Mandela put health care in his constitution. What a useless turd.

    • NW Luna says:

      I remember when I used to say “The only developed countries without national healthcare are the U.S. and South Africa.” Now it’s just the U.S.

  3. janicen says:

    Nice article in the NYT about our girl Kirsten…

  4. janicen says:

    The testimonials from people who were actually at Pearl Harbor help to remind us of the tragic events of that day and the years that followed. thank you for posting them. I had actually forgotten that it was Pearl Harbor Day.

  5. RalphB says:

    Libertarian atheists can only be explained by breathtaking ignorance in almost any and all policy areas which don’t scream “What about me, me, me” and “I want it now, now, now”.

    • NW Luna says:

      Lol, so true! Ralph I hope you are warm and your place is well-stocked so you needn’t go out for a while. How’s the weather there today in your local area?

      Here we’re not expected to crack a temp above freezing until Tuesday.

  6. RalphB says:

    Leslie Gelb on the Iran nuclear negotiations…

    Obama Wins Round One on Iran

    The Obama team has won the first round on the six-month agreement with Iran by a knockout. The phony, misleading, and dishonest arguments against the pact just didn’t hold up to the reality of the text. As night follows day, the mob of opponents didn’t consider surrender, not for a second. Instead, they trained their media howitzers on the future, the next and more permanent agreement, you know, the one that has yet to be negotiated. …

    President Obama has quieted the mob of critics on the interim pact with Iran, so they’re now attacking the next deal—the one that hasn’t happened yet.

  7. NW Luna says:

    Gay and lesbian couples from around Australia joined in fragile marriages in Canberra on Saturday under the nation’s beleaguered same-sex union laws that face a challenge in the courts within a week.

    The hastily-arranged ceremonies held under blue summer skies were bitter-sweet occasions for some couples who realize the High Court could annul their unions on Thursday.

    The federal government has challenged the validity of the Australian Capital Territory’s fledgling law that had made gay marriage legal in Canberra and its surrounds from Saturday.

    Hope the law is upheld. Australia seems to have fewer politician-bigots than the U.S.

    • RalphB says:

      Aussie bigots are a lot quieter than those here. Would never be elected anything otherwise.

    • RalphB says:

      Canberra resident Hayley Wilson said she was glad she did not have to go back to her homeland, New Zealand, to legally marry her Australian wife Samantha Hermes.

      Meanwhile, some of us would trade our front seat in Hell for that opportunity.

  8. NW Luna says:

    A long-awaited study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a link between tainted tap water at a U.S. Marine Corps base in North Carolina and increased risk of serious birth defects and childhood cancers.

    The authors of the study on Camp Lejeune released late Thursday by the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry warned it is based on a small sample size and cannot prove exposure to the chemicals caused specific individuals to become ill.

    But the study did conclude that babies born to mothers who drank Lejeune tap water while pregnant were four times more likely than women who lived off-base to have such serious birth defects as spina bifida. Babies whose mothers were exposed also had a slightly elevated risk of such childhood cancers as leukemia, according to the results.

    Leaks were from an on-base fuel depot and an off-base dry cleaner. Hmmm. Nothing like this could happen anywhere else, eh?

  9. RalphB says:

    Re tax issues, I knew Obamacare was financed partly by a tax of (I think) 3.8% on income about 250K, but something Richard said the other day suggested that applies to unearned income too. So these guys are paying 15% on their stock income and now that’s upped to 18.8% if it’s above 250K. That’s hilarious. Congress would NEVER up their regular taxes like that and yet it happened.

    From a balloon-juice comment. Does anyone know if this is true? Wow, I hope it’s true.

    • dakinikat says:

      Gov. Jindal’s campaign donors like to curry favor by donating to his wife’s charitable foundation, and one of Gov. Jindal’s appointees has landed his administration in legal hot water.

      In 2010, Gov. Jindal appointed Bruce Greenstein as secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals despite concerns about potential conflicts of interest. Not long after, questions arose about a $200 million state contract the department awarded to Mr. Greenstein’s former employer. After documents surfaced disproving his assertion that he was not involved in the decision, Mr. Greenstein resigned amid a federal probe, and the contract was canceled. In May, the state attorney general’s office launched an investigation into the matter.

      Some of Gov. Jindal’s largest corporate campaign contributors have also donated heavily to a foundation set up by his wife. A March 2011 review found that nine of 13 corporate donors who collectively pledged at least $790,000 to the Jindal Foundation also contributed more than $100,000 to Gov. Jindal’s campaign between 2007 to 2011.

      Elected in 2007; re-elected in 2011
      Appointed a cabinet secretary who was ultimately forced to resign after improperly awarding a state contract to his former company; federal authorities and the state attorney general are investigating the matter
      Accepted campaign funds from corporate donors with significant interests before the state that also supported wife’s charitable foundation

      He passed all these tough ethics laws and then exempted the governor’s office from them!!!

    • dakinikat says:

      They say don’t mess with Texas, but Gov. Perry’s record is a mess.

      Gov. Perry has appointed hundreds of campaign donors to state posts and, in turn, raised millions of dollars in campaign funds from his appointees and their spouses. Gov. Perry has used multimillion-dollar state programs created to lure businesses and jobs to Texas as slush funds to reward his political allies and donors.

      In contrast to his predecessors, Gov. Perry does not disclose the details of his daily schedule or list guests who stay overnight at the governor’s mansion. Additionally, since January 2011, Gov. Perry has taken advantage of an obscure provision in Texas law that allows him to “double-dip,” collecting a state pension in addition to his governor’s salary.

      Succeeded to the governorship in 2000; elected to a full term in 2002 and reelected in 2006 and 2010; not seeking re-election in 2014
      Used multimillion-dollar state programs as slush funds to reward political allies and donors
      Flouts transparency by obscuring his security costs and daily schedule and deleting official emails every seven days
      Double-dips by collecting a state pension while simultaneously drawing a salary as governor

      • RalphB says:

        Perry is a crook and a half. The guy running now, Greg Abbott, is just as bad or maybe worse since he’s already involved in the pay-to-play business. There’s a guy currently under indictment with close ties to both Perry and Abbott.

        • dakinikat says:

          I think JIndal is just an arrogant ass. He thinks that the law doesn’t apply to him because he is so special.

          • RalphB says:

            I only hope Wendy Davis’ campaign can get all the mess out in the open during the governor’s race. It’s been kept pretty well under wraps for years now but could really help her to a victory, I believe anyway.

  10. dakinikat says:

    Here’s one for you Pat and BB!!!

    N. Dakota Republican Skipped GOP ‘Sensitivity Training’ On How To Talk To Women — He Shouldn’t Have – See more at:

    In an interview last week on KFGO radio in Fargo, North Dakota state Senator Dwight Cook said,

    “Let me explain it this way, Joel, and you might feel the same way. When I find out my wife’s been shopping at a home improvement store, I get nervous. I wonder what ideas are going on in her pretty little head and ‘What’s it going to cost me?’”

    It makes one wonder what she is going to take into her pretty little hand to knock him out with.

    I bet the divorce lawyers are beating a path to her door!!!

  11. RalphB says:

    pm carpenter: Third Way, in five-dimensional gibberish

    … more alarming, however, is economist William Black’s recitation (from a year ago) of Third Way’s board of trustees. It’s so densely populated by Pete Peterson Fix the Debt financial advisory private equity investment banking types, one marvels at the organization’s tireless insistence that it’s a “think tank” voice of “pragmatic progressivism.”

    Were Third Way simply honest in declaring itself a voice of quasi-Republican, very conservative Democratic hackery, one could muster some respect for it–for the honesty, that is. Third Way’s pretensions of speaking for genuine “American liberalism,” on the other hand, are simply insulting.

  12. RalphB says:

    This is a beautiful thing…

    Police In Thailand Lay Down Vests and Barricades In Solidarity With Protestors

    In a stunning turn of events today in Thailand, riot police yielded to the peaceful protesters they were ordered to harass and block. They police removed barricades and their helmets as a sign of solidarity.

    The protesters explain that their goal is to destroy the political machine of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is accused of widespread corruption and abuse of power. Thaksin’s sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, is currently in power, and is seen as a puppet of her brother.

    The move by police has surprised many, and marks a turning point in the protests and a potential shift in power.

    Watch the video below, and let us know what you think: could something like this even happen in the West? In the United States?

  13. bostonboomer says:

    The other side of the story: Young man seeking asylum in US because he was outed by Bradley Manning’s leaks.

  14. bostonboomer says: