Sunday Reads: Taliban, Venezuela, Football and teh “Gays”Posted: February 23, 2014
Today’s post will be brought to you by the color purple. Why? I don’t know, maybe because of the color’s significance…maybe it is because I felt like it…maybe it is because I wanted to put up some of my saved images of women wearing purple hats. Who the hell knows.
Anyway, the links will be a mixture of this and that…mostly news stuff at first.
The Taliban confirmed publicly on Sunday that they had been in talks with the United States over the release of an American soldier, but said the talks had now been suspended.
The unusual Taliban statement, which was emailed to journalists, said that the talks had taken place “recently” with the mediation of Qatar, suggesting that meetings took place in Qatar, where the Taliban have an unofficial political office.
The talks had previously been rumored, but this is the first time the insurgents have publicly confirmed them. They are aimed at reviving a longstanding offer by the American government to release Taliban prisoners from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, into custody in Qatar, in exchange for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of the United States Army, the only American being held by insurgents in Afghanistan.
Talks confirmed and suspended in the same emailed statement. Prior to this message, news of a Taliban attack also hit the MSM:
The Afghan Taliban attacked an army outpost in eastern Kunar province early on Sunday, the Afghan government said, killing 19 soldiers in what appeared to be the most deadly assault on security forces in months.
Defence Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi, in a posting on his Twitter feed, said 19 soldiers were killed, and two wounded, in Kunar’s Ghaziabad district.
Abdul Ghani Musamem, spokesman for the provincial governor, said seven soldiers were captured by the Taliban in the attack in a remote, mountainous area near the border with Pakistan.
He said Afghan forces had launched an operation to try to free the captured soldiers. The Defence Ministry did not immediately confirm the report of captured soldiers.
In a statement provided to media organizations, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
My head gets dizzy with this news of violence, but it is not the only mess in the world that seems to be never-ending.
Of course, you have Syria: Car bomb kills nine people in Syrian town of Atmeh: activists | Reuters
At least nine people were killed in a car bomb attack on Sunday near a field hospital in the Syrian town of Atmeh near the border with Turkey, activists said.
The hospital is owned by Ghassan Aboud, a Gulf-based businessman who runs Orient Television, which said at least 10 people were killed.
That was filed at 4:55 am EST…yeah, I know it is that late/early. (What can I say, Treasure of Sierra Madre is on TCM and I have to make the Sicilian pizza today which I will need to start soon anyway.)
In Ukraine, Fox News is reporting via AP: Where’s the President? Yanukovych’s whereabouts unknown
Nearly a full day after Ukrainian President Viktor Yankovych departed his country’s capital, Kiev, leaving it to the protesters who have called for his removal for three months and the parliament that voted to do just that Saturday, no one seems to know where he is.
A plane with Yanukovych onboard was denied permission to take off Saturday evening from Donetsk, a city in eastern Ukraine that is the president’s base of support, en route to Russia, the State Border Guard Service said. Oleh Slobodyan of the State Border Guard service told the Associated Press Sunday that the plane did not have the proper documentation. The president was driven off in a car from the airport.
Yanukovych did speak on television Saturday in Kharkiv, accusing his opponents of trying to overthrow the government.
“Everything that is happening today is, to a greater degree, vandalism and banditry and a coup d’etat,” he said. “I will do everything to protect my country from breakup, to stop bloodshed.”
However, Yanukovych’s movements have not been accounted for since, and even his spokesman told the Associated Press Sunday morning that he does not know where his boss is.
Protestors have taken the city of Kiev for now and protestors have flocked into the empty presidential compound. But during the height of chaos this week, one news outlet managed to capture stunning footage of Kiev from above with the help of a drone.
The drone, utilized by the German news agency Ruptly, captured some pretty unsettling footage showing parts of the city up in flames after days and days of protests. Thursday was the bloodiest day of the conflict thus far, with dozens killed and hundreds more injured as protestors faced off with Ukraine police forces.
Video at the link.
Hey, but Europe/Eastern Europe/Central Asia etc, aren’t the only places having it out, down in South America: Venezuela death toll reaches 11 as protests continue – latimes.com
Opponents and supporters of President Nicolas Maduro held massive demonstrations Saturday in central Caracas and other Venezuelan cities as the unofficial death toll rose to 11 in more than a week of unrest.
Leading the opposition demonstration in eastern Caracas was Liliana Tintori, wife of Leopoldo Lopez, the former Caracas borough mayor who was arrested this week and charged with inciting violence that has erupted during protests.
Lopez and other opposition leaders say armed pro-government vigilantes have been responsible for the deaths and that the opposition has demonstrated peacefully to protest rising crime and shortages. Speaking at a rally attended by tens of thousands of mostly white-shirted opposition members, Tintori said her husband has been jailed unjustly.
“No one can tell me this is not a dictatorship. This is a dictatorship,” said Tintori who shared the platform with opposition leaders Maria Corina Machado and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles. “No one can tell me we are divided. We are united. Leopoldo will do what is necessary so that Venezuelans unite in peace, and can walk the streets in safety.”
Now, back to the USA…Y’all heard about the shit Ted Nugent said about Obama, calling him a ‘subhuman mongrel.’ Take a look at this: The GOP, Race and Ted Nugent: If you won’t Denounce Nazi Insults, What does that Say about You? | Informed Comment
On Friday, Nugent “apologized” (though “not to president Obama”) for using the language insofar as it embarrassed other Republicans associated with him. That is, he did not actually apologize at all.
Sarah Palin said of Abbott, “if he’s good enough for Ted Nugent, he’s good enough for me!” Sen. Ted Cruz, quizzed on Nugent’s language, replied that he was sure that President Obama’s Hollywood friends had also said some extreme things.
Really, Ted? This comment is just “extreme”? And which liberal in the film industry has said anything like that?
The fact is that the Republican Party today has a problem with race. Not across the board, but it is there. The Party is is disproportionately made up of self-conceived white southerners with some white Midwesterners and westerners, allied with Wall Street big money. It has even lost the majority of Asian-Americans and Arab-Americans, and can’t get even a plurality of Latinos or more than a handful of African-Americans (traditionally Republicans before the 1970s) to vote for it. The Tea Party and other currents in the party often express white male rage about the rise of the minorities, and the party’s refusal to consider immigration reform is rooted in that rage.
Of course you can read more at the link.
There was also some news about asshole cops:
That is quality top notch policing if you ask me. /snark
More ridiculous crap to get you worked up here…I got this petition notice in my email yesterday.
In an article in The Nation by Jessica Valenti, TED content director and TEDWomen co-host Kelly Stoetzel said that abortion does not fit into the focus on “wider issues of justice, inequality and human rights.” She said that “Abortion is more of a topical issue we wouldn’t take a position on, any more than we’d take a position on a state tax bill.”
But that’s just it – access to abortion IS an issue of justice, inequality, and human rights. As NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue noted in her letter, last year the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, issued a report declaring that denying women access to abortion amounts to torture. If families cannot care for, feed, or plan their families adequately, they are more likely to remain in poverty. That’s inequality. As Tara Culp-Ressler points out, 47,000 women die from unsafe abortions every year. Not talking about abortion has many consequences. It leads to inadequate support for people who have abortions, lack of insurance coverage of abortion, and even unsafe abortions.
Statistics show that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the time they turn 45, but because of silence and stigma, they often don’t feel safe enough to talk about their abortion. I know this from experience. I felt ashamed and isolated for six years. I had no one to talk to. The people I meet who’ve had abortions feel it too. Abortion stigma hurts. Can we talk about it?
By talking openly about abortion, TED Talks will reach out to millions of people with abortion experiences and tell us that we matter. Our stories matter.
What if TED spread a great new idea – how to listen to people’s experience with compassion, love, and without judgment?
Those of us who have had abortions, and our loved ones, hear you. We are watching you. Will you take a moment to listen to us? Will you help share our stories?
TED Talks have the power to shift abortion stigma. They have the power to create a space within TED where people can hear nuanced, honest abortion stories. Our voices need to be heard. TED Talks: Lift Your Ban on Abortion!
If you can go on TED Talks and listen to the
shit talks they have by Jesus freaks Rick Warren, Billy Graham, A.J. Jacobs, then I think they have enough space to hold talks on women’s issues as important as rights to safe legal abortion.
Look at this interesting map, I wonder what Dak has to say about it: Income Inequality Is Even Worse In Big Cities: Study
As for something fun: 15 Made-Up Words That You Should Start Using Right Now
Ever heard of “nurdeling”? You know, the act of sticking your cold feet under someone’s butt on the couch. How about a “woolly-doop-doop”? That thing, when you’re driving and you go fast over a bump in the road, and that it makes your stomach jump a little. Not ringing any bells?
Well, that’s because these are made-up words, courtesy of “The Made-Up Words Project.” The hilarious illustration series is the brainchild of designer Rinee Shah, a San Francisco-based artist who sketches out the meanings of comically nonsensical terms. Particularly, words that are commonplace amongst certain groups of friends and family members that, for one reason or another, just stuck.
You can see Shah artwork here: The Made-Up Words Project
I am thinking of sending her my daughter’s phrase “Coochie Day” you know, what she calls those days when only beings with “coochies” go out and do something special. No “dingys” aloud!
Okay, on to news out of the NFL:
John Wooten, head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that monitors diversity in the NFL, said he expects the league’s competition committee to enact a rule at the owner’s meeting next month making it an automatic 15-yard penalty if a player uses the N-word on the field, with a second infraction meriting an ejection.
I wonder when the use of the word “Redskins” will get the same kind of racial allocation?
Michael Sam stepped onto stage and looked into what might have been the largest media gathering in the history of the NFL scouting combine. Hundreds of reporters clustered in, and there were three rows of TV and video cameras.
“I just wish you guys would just see me as Michael Sam the football player,” the Missouri defensive end said, “instead of Michael Sam the gay football player.”
Then again, it was Sam who generated the story with his announcement two weeks ago he is homosexual, telling his story to the New York Times and ESPN. He is on track to become the first openly gay professional athlete in a major American team sport, and he acknowledges the significance of his place in history.
“Everything that my Mizzou family has done for me has been amazing,” he said, wearing a small, rainbow-colored “Stand With Sam” button on his NFL-issued sweatsuit. “I walk around campus and dozens of students and faculty give me hugs or kisses, start crying in my arms. It’s unbelievable.”
I think it is wonderful and brave of Sam to come out like he did. It should not be such a big deal, but believe me it is. I know in all these years of NFL there have been gay players on the field. It would be crazy to think that the NFL has been “gay free,” just as it is to think Sochi is “gay free.”
And even though I could usually care less about the draft, I am paying attention to it this time.
Tennis great Billie Jean King arrived for Sunday’s closing of the 2014 Winter Olympics with a message for Russia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community: Hang in, hang on, and you’re not alone.
“Having the Winter Olympics here, the situation here in Russia, has opened up dialogue,” King said Saturday. “I’m always big on love over hate, and I think it’s important that everyone’s treated equally and good to each other. Hopefully, the LGBT community here in Russia knows that they’re not alone and we’ll learn from them.”
King, who is gay, is part of the official U.S. delegation that will witness the end of the 23-day international sports festival. Her presence represents the United States’ objection to a so-called “anti-propaganda” law that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed last June.
In other Olympic news, did you see the racist comments from Ashley Wagner Blasts Olympic Figure Skating Judging, Calls For An End To Anonymous Judging
Well, for a little more analysis on that statement of Wagner: Why Ashley Wagner Is Wrong About Figure Skating
The American skater who ended up in seventh place yesterday is all over the news this morning saying she feels cheated — actually, “gypped” is the word she unfortunately used. Wagner is already known for the face she made when she got a low score during the team competition earlier in the games. Now she’s publicly questioning the sport’s judging system.
Before the scores even came in commentator Tara Lipinski noted, “To the audience it may look perfect, but when the judges go back and examine those landings she’s going to lose a lot of points.”
“A few shaky landings, a few issues here and there, landing on two feet,” said Johnny Weir. “But it wasn’t a flying endorsement of Ashley Wagner.”
Weir used the word endorsement because her selection for the U.S. Olympic team was surprising after a poor performance at Nationals — an unofficial qualifying event for the American team — where she finished fourth and fell twice. But the skating association sent Wagner to the Olympics because she has more experience in the international competitive circuit than skater who finished ahead of her, Mirai Nagasu.
Wagner’s skates at the Olympics are certainly a huge personal victory after all that doubt and pressure. Taking her bows after the long program, she was celebrating like she had the skate of her life. And her performances were fun to watch and both good ones — but just because she didn’t fall doesn’t mean they were great. And it doesn’t mean, as she is suggesting, that she deserves to place higher than other skaters who did fall, especially when those other skaters landed more difficult jumps more beautifully than she did. Her remarks are poor sportsmanship — and seem to be a campaign to change the sport to favor those who don’t take risks.
Enough of that shit, now for some interesting and pretty links.
With its steep, forested mountains set against blue skies, Romania’s central Pojarna Valley once looked like a postcard landscape but illegal logging has turned the site into an ugly scar.
“The guys who did this used excavators. They even destroyed the young trees,” said Gheorghe Ridichie, an official at Romania’s forestry ministry, pointing to thousands of stumps poking out of the valley’s now-barren slopes.
Barren slopes to bare naked bodies: Photos Of Nude Dancers Show A Very Different Side Of The Human Body (NSFW)
Ludovic Florent‘s series “Poussières d’étoiles” (Stardust). In it, the French photographer captures the fluid movements of nude dancers, their bodies partially covered by clouds of dust that both obscure and accentuate the curves and lines of their muscles. The images provide a very different perspective of the human body, emphasizing the dynamic potential of bare forms.
More than 750 sharks, tarpon, tuna and billfish, fitted with satellite-linked tags, are providing scientists with data on temperature and salinity at various depths in the Atlantic, Gulf and Caribbean. It’s information they hope could someday be used to improve hurricane forecasts, since a storm’s strength largely depends on how much warm water it will encounter.
“What the fish are providing is a profile of the ocean’s heat structure,” said Jerald Ault, a marine biology professor at the University of Miami. “You get a picture of what the upper layers of the ocean look like.”
Ault and other scientists at UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science started tagging tarpon in 2001 and sharks in 2010 to learn more about migration, feeding and reproduction. About three years ago, they discovered a remarkable pattern: the fish remained in waters that were about 79 degrees, the minimum required for tropical systems to develop.
In addition, many swam into the waters around tropical systems, which churned up nutrients and made hunting for food easier.
That’s when scientists realized that fish could provide accurate ocean temperatures, which could be fed into the computer models that forecasters use to develop tropical predictions.
Funny how animals can predict things like weather, storms, earthquake and tsunamis? Some can even tell when people are about to have epileptic seizures. I don’t know, something to think about on this Sunday Morning isn’t it?
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