Monday Reads: In Search of the American Dream

the-american-dream-by-salvadore-dali

Good Morning!!

Whatever happened to the American dream? Did it ever exist in reality?

We baby boomers can look back to the post-WWII years, when the economy was humming along and the GI Bill made it easier for our dads to get college degrees, find good jobs, buy houses for their families.

In those days, one salary was enough to support a couple and several kids. My dad did it on a college professor’s salary. It was a struggle early on, but those government programs for veterans gave us a push into the professional class.

Eisenhower was President then–a Republican who wouldn’t even recognize his fellow Republican today. Later on, after John Kennedy was murdered and Lyndon Johnson was brought down by the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon presided over the end of the good times. After about 1973, it was over; and since then, wages have essentially remained stagnant.

That was when we entered a new America, in which it took two salaries to support a family. Women went to work, not just because they wanted to, but to keep their families afloat. Children went to day care. So many thing changed. What happened to the American dream? Were those post-war years just an outlier, a brief period of prosperity that meant nothing in the greater scheme of things?

Yesterday, I read a piece by Joseph Stiglitz–in Politico of all places–that addressed some of these questions: The Myth of America’s Golden Age: What growing up in Gary, Indiana taught me about inequality. Stiglitz was born in 1943. Growing up in the industrial “company town” of Gary, he was able to observe the underside of the “golden age” of capitalism–“discrimination, poverty, and bouts of high unemployment.” The big steel companies deliberate brought in desperately poor African Americans from the south in order to keep wages low–to divide and control the work force. Stiglitz writes that he never bought into the notion of the free market as the answer to all ills.

Nearly half a century later, the problem of inequality has reached crisis proportions. John F. Kennedy, in the spirit of optimism that prevailed at the time I was a college student, once declared that a rising tide lifts all boats. It turns out today that almost all of us now are in the same boat—the one that holds the bottom 99 percent. It is a far different boat, one marked by more poverty at the bottom and a hollowing out of the middle class, than the one occupied by the top 1 percent.

Most disturbing is the realization that the American dream–the notion that we are living in the land of opportunity–is a myth. The life chance of a young American today are more dependent on the income and education of his parents than in many other advanced countries, including “old Europe.”

American Dream, by Skip Hunt

American Dream, by Skip Hunt

Stiglitz points to Thomas Picketty’s research as evidence. Picketty’s work shows that capitalism leads inevitably to inequality. The post-war era of my childhood and early adulthood was an “aberration.”

Today, inequality is growing dramatically again, and the past three decades or so have proved conclusively that one of the major culprits is trickle-down economics—the idea that the government can just step back and if the rich get richer and use their talents and resources to create jobs, everyone will benefit. It just doesn’t work; the historical data now prove that. [….]

Ironically enough, the final proof debunking this very Republican idea of trickle-down economics has come from a Democratic administration. President Barack Obama’s banks-first approach to saving the nation from another Great Depression held that by giving money to the banks (rather than to homeowners who had been preyed upon by the banks), the economy would be saved. The administration poured billions into the banks that had brought the country to the brink of ruin, without setting conditions in return. When the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank engage in a rescue, they virtually always impose requirements to ensure the money is used in the way intended. But here, the government merely expressed the hope that the banks would keep credit, the lifeblood of the economy, flowing. And so the banks shrank lending, and paid their executives megabonuses, even though they had almost destroyed their businesses. Even then, we knew that much of the banks’ profits had been earned not by increasing the efficiency of the economy but by exploitation—through predatory lending, abusive credit-card practices and monopolistic pricing. The full extent of their misdeeds—for instance, the illegal manipulation of key interest rates and foreign exchange, affecting derivatives and mortgages in the amount of hundreds of trillions of dollars—was only just beginning to be fathomed.

American Dream, by Gordon Wendling

American Dream, by Gordon Wendling

I can’t quote any more, but I hope I’ve whetted your appetite enough that you’ll go read the whole thing. While you’re at that link, you might also take a look at this article by “zillionaire” Nick Hanauer, The Pitchforks are Coming for Us Plutocrats. Here’s just a small taste–it’s a long read.

The most ironic thing about rising inequality is how completely unnecessary and self-defeating it is. If we do something about it, if we adjust our policies in the way that, say, Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression—so that we help the 99 percent and preempt the revolutionaries and crazies, the ones with the pitchforks—that will be the best thing possible for us rich folks, too. It’s not just that we’ll escape with our lives; it’s that we’ll most certainly get even richer.

The model for us rich guys here should be Henry Ford, who realized that all his autoworkers in Michigan weren’t only cheap labor to be exploited; they were consumers, too. Ford figured that if he raised their wages, to a then-exorbitant $5 a day, they’d be able to afford his Model Ts.

What a great idea. My suggestion to you is: Let’s do it all over again. We’ve got to try something. These idiotic trickle-down policies are destroying my customer base. And yours too.

It’s when I realized this that I decided I had to leave my insulated world of the super-rich and get involved in politics. Not directly, by running for office or becoming one of the big-money billionaires who back candidates in an election. Instead, I wanted to try to change the conversation with ideas—by advancing what my co-author, Eric Liu, and I call “middle-out” economics. It’s the long-overdue rebuttal to the trickle-down economics worldview that has become economic orthodoxy across party lines—and has so screwed the American middle class and our economy generally. Middle-out economics rejects the old misconception that an economy is a perfectly efficient, mechanistic system and embraces the much more accurate idea of an economy as a complex ecosystem made up of real people who are dependent on one another.

Which is why the fundamental law of capitalism must be: If workers have more money, businesses have more customers. Which makes middle-class consumers, not rich businesspeople like us, the true job creators.

Is it possible that because these articles appear in conservative Politico, even a few powerful people  in Washington might read them and stop for a moment to think about what what is really happening to America?

American Dream by Matt Sesow

American Dream by Matt Sesow

Also in the news today:

NBC NEWS: Yes, Perceptions of Washington Are Even Worse Than Last Year.

This is a six-month report card time, and it’s failing grades for all of Washington. President Obama’s approval rating stands at 41% in our recent NBC/WSJ poll, his fav/unfav is upside down (at 41%-45%), and a majority of Americans (54%) no longer think he’s able to lead the country and get the job done. Republicans and Congress are in even worse shape. The GOP’s fav/unfav in the NBC/WSJ poll is 29%-45% (versus the Democratic Party’s 38%-40% score). Just 7% of the country has confidence in Congress (compared with 29% for the presidency and 30% for the Supreme Court, per Gallup. And when it comes to congressional productivity, the 113th Congress (2013-2014) has passed just 121 bills into law — fewer than at this same point in the historically unproductive 112th Congress (140 bills into law). Maybe it doesn’t FEEL worse, because there hasn’t been an epic showdown or confrontation like the government shutdown. But the numbers tell a different story — it has gotten worse.

From James Risen at the NYT, scary revelations about the murder of 17 civilians by Blackwater thugs in Iraq in 2007: Before Shooting in Iraq, a Warning on Blackwater.

Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.

American Embassy officials in Baghdad sided with Blackwater rather than the State Department investigators as a dispute over the probe escalated in August 2007, the previously undisclosed documents show. The officials told the investigators that they had disrupted the embassy’s relationship with the security contractor and ordered them to leave the country, according to the reports.

After returning to Washington, the chief investigator wrote a scathing report to State Department officials documenting misconduct by Blackwater employees and warning that lax oversight of the company, which had a contract worth more than $1 billion to protect American diplomats, had created “an environment full of liability and negligence.”

“The management structures in place to manage and monitor our contracts in Iraq have become subservient to the contractors themselves,” the investigator, Jean C. Richter, wrote in an Aug. 31, 2007, memo to State Department officials. “Blackwater contractors saw themselves as above the law,” he said, adding that the “hands off” management resulted in a situation in which “the contractors, instead of Department officials, are in command and in control.”

I have a few more links, but I’m going to put them in comments; because I’m having terrible issues with WordPress today. I hope you’ll also post your thoughts and links in the thread below.

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Sunday Reads: Quick Round of Links

Costumes during WW1

Costumes of Medical personnel during WW1

Good morning

We are still trying to adjust to this new life, the T1D life. So as you can imagine, today will only be a short list of links…please feel free to think of it  as an open thread.

How horrible, this is disgusting: Warrant: Cobb toddler’s dad researched child deaths inside… | www.ajc.com

After his toddler son died after being left inside an SUV for seven hours, a Cobb County man told police he had researched children dying in hot vehicles, court documents released Saturday morning state.

Justin “Ross” Harris told police he feared his 22-month-old could be left inside a vehicle, according to search warrant affidavits obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. No information about the timing of Harris’ online searches was released. And the questions that many across the country have been asking — how did this happen and why — remain unanswered.

“During an interview with Justin, He stated that he recently researched, through the internet, child deaths inside vehicles and what temperature it needs to be for that to occur,” search warrants state. “Justin stated that he was fearful that this could happen.”

The search warrant affidavits released Saturday offered the first new facts released in the death of the toddler, Cooper Mills Harris, since Wednesday. However, the documents shed no details on what prompted police to arrest and charge Ross Harris with felonies so swiftly within hours of the boy’s death.

I guess this is a depressing post at that: Tweets from Hillary Clinton: Sad News | Still4Hill

Heartbreaking news: a vital voice for justice is silenced.

Prominent Rights Activist Assassinated

June 26, 2014
(Tripoli) – Human Rights Watch today issued the following tribute to Salwa Bughaighis, a prominent human rights and women’s rights activist who was assassinated in Libya on June 25, 2014.
SNIP

On Wednesday, following countless threats against her and her family, Salwa was assassinated, shortly after she voted in Libya’s parliamentary election. With Salwa’s death, the original idealism of the 2011 uprising that overthrew Gaddafi’s tyranny has received another crushing blow, and many Libyan women have lost a role model.

More at the link.

 

There was also a suicide in the news: Tea party leader Mark Mayfield suicide: A sign of politics ‘beyond the pale’? (+video) – CSMonitor.com

Mark Mayfield, a respected lawyer and tea party operative in Mississippi, has died after being accused of taking part in an unseemly, Watergate-like conspiracy to undermine long-time Sen. Thad Cochran’s campaign.

No foul play is suspected around the self-inflicted gunshot wound, local police said. Mr. Mayfield left a note behind, but authorities have not released it.

A tea party group board member, Mayfield had worked to get Sen. Cochran’s challenger Chris McDaniel elected. On Tuesday, Cochran narrowly won the primary. Mr. McDaniel has denied involvement, and has not been implicated in the scheme to photograph Cochran’s wife at a nursing home.

Video at the link.

In other news: Funding approved for Golden Gate Bridge anti-suicide net | Al Jazeera America

California state officials approved a funding plan on Friday to install a mesh barrier beneath San Francisco’s historic Golden Gate Bridge to help prevent suicides.

“It has been an uphill fight,” said state assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who has fought for over a decade to secure funding for the barrier. “But here we are, almost shovel ready.”

The project will cost $76 million to complete. Of that amount, $7 million will come from a state tax enacted by voters on those who make more than $1 million a year, and is earmarked for mental-health services. The rest will be paid for with federal funds that recently became available and local money from the bridge district.

The plan to create suicide barriers on the bridge, where 1,600 people have leapt to their deaths since the span opened in 1937, was a subject of controversy for decades, with opponents arguing the mesh would mar the structure’s beauty.

In 2008, the bridge’s board voted to install a stainless steel net, rejecting other options, including raising the 4-foot-high railings and leaving the world-renown span unchanged.

Two years later, they certified the final environmental impact report for the net, which would stretch about 20 feet wide on each side of the span. Officials said it would not mar the landmark bridge’s appearance.

But funding for the project remained a major obstacle until two years ago when President Barack Obama signed into law a bill making safety barriers and nets eligible for federal funds.

Some of the money still requires additional approval, but the bridge’s board has now taken its final step in adopting the net.

“The tragedy of today is that we can’t go back in time, we can’t save … the people who jumped off the bridge. But the good thing, with this vote today, we can vote in their memory,” board member Janet Reilly said.

“We will save many lives who have followed in their footsteps – and that’s what’s so extraordinary about today.”

Family members of suicide victims were present for the vote. Seconds after the decision, tears of many people in the standing-room-only crowd were followed by shouts of joy.

And we are coming up on the 100 year anniversary of the First World War. World War I – Scientific American

The political crisis in Europe that followed the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, on June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo received no notice in the pages of Scientific American. When Germany declared war on Russia and France and then invaded Belgium on August 4, the magazine weighed in: “It is very difficult for the American to realize that the great European war, which has been dreaded for a generation, is actually taking place. The calamity is so appalling that it seems to stretch beyond the reach of the imagination” [August 15, 1914].

Thereafter, the then weekly Scientific American covered the First World War as a vast, world-changing event in which science, technology and massive industrial output played key roles. The American Civil War (1861–1865) saw the first successful use of the machine gun and the submarine, but both sides manufactured fewer than 100 machine guns (including about 20 Gatlings) and 20 submarines. In World War I more than one million machine guns were churned out. Artillery became the king of the battlefield, with up to a billion artillery shells fired during the war. The countermove from the science of defense was to dig deeper into the dirt. One modern calculation says it took 329 shells to wound an opponent sheltering in a trench, four times that to kill him.

Go to the link and look at some of the images, also take a look at the pictures and original article here at this pdf doc. from November 21st, 1914: The Care of the Wounded A Vast and Complicated System of Which Little is Heard SA-Archives-the-care-of-wounded.pdf

 

Lets end with this: New Macroscelides micus species is more closely related to an elephant than a shrew | Mail Online

It may seem hard to believe that such an unusual looking animal has remained hidden for so long.

But scientists have only just discovered a new species of elephant shrew – or round-eared sengi – in the remote deserts of south western Africa.

While it is the smallest known member of the 19 sengis in the order Macroscelidea, the small creature is in fact genetically more closely related to an elephant than a true shrew.

Cute: Scientists have discovered a new species of elephant shrew - or round-eared sengi (pictured) - in the remote deserts of south western Africa

Cute: Scientists have discovered a new species of elephant shrew – or round-eared sengi (pictured) – in the remote deserts of south western Africa

The Etendeka round-eared sengi, or Macroscelides micus, was discovered by scientists from the California Academy of Sciences. It is the third new species of elephant shrew to be found in the wild in the past decade.

More pictures in info at the link.

Enjoy your day. This is an open thread.


Lazy Saturday Reads

womanreadingblackbackground1939

Good Morning!!

Yesterday we had a sort-of mini-family-reunion at my mother’s house in Indiana. We wanted to get a bunch of us together to celebrate my mom’s 89th birthday. I’ve been here for a few weeks already. I had to stay a little longer than I was planning to after my mom broke her wrist.

My brother and his wife and two sons are visiting from Boston, another brother came with his son from Illinois, my sister and her husband came from Indianapolis, and my niece and her husband and son also came from Indianapolis. Only one of my sisters wasn’t here.

It was a lot of fun. We broke out mom’s croquet set, and sat outside talking for hours. My brother John (the one from Boston area) cooked a fantastic meal of grilled steak, roasted potatoes and veggies, and salad; and afterwards we had a birthday cake that my niece from Indy had designed. Across the top was a pastry scrabble board with words like “grandma, mother, birthday on it. (My mom is a scrabble and crossword fan and she recently started a scrabble group with two of her friends).

The day was a reminder to me that family is just about the most important thing in life. I didn’t get that when I was younger and just wanted to get away to a more interesting place; but as I get older, it feels more and more true. Now I understand why my grandparents organized big family “reunions” when I was a kid. In our Catholic family, everyone had lots of kids and we would have huge get-togethers with 30+ kids all running around wildly and adults drinking eating and reminiscing.

But enough about me, let’s see what’s happening the news.

Bobby-Womack-Funny

We lost a legendary musician yesterday. Rolling Stone reports: Soul Legend Bobby Womack Dead at 70.

Bobby Womack, the legendary soul singer whose career spanned seven decades, died Friday at age 70. A representative for Womack’s label XL Recordings confirmed the singer’s death to Rolling Stone, but said the cause of death was currently unknown.

The son of two musicians, Womack began his career as a member of Curtis Womack and the Womack Brothers with his siblings Curtis, Harry, Cecil and Friendly Jr. After Sam Cooke signed the group to his SAR Records in 1960, they released a handful of gospel singles before changing their name to the Valentinos and earning success with a more secular, soul- and pop-influenced sound. In 1964, one month after the Valentinos released their hit “It’s All Over Now,” the Rolling Stones put out their version, which went to Number One on the U.K. singles charts.

Three months after the death of Cooke in 1964, Womack married Cooke’s widow, Barbara Campbell, and the Valentinos disbanded after the collapse of SAR Records. After leaving the group, Womack became a session musician, playing guitar on several albums, including Aretha Franklin’s landmark Lady Soul, before releasing his debut album, Fly Me to the Moon, in 1968. A string of successful R&B albums would follow, including Understanding and Across 110th Street, both released in 1972, 1973’s Facts of Life and 1974’s Lookin for a Love Again.

After the death of his brother, Harry, in 1974, Womack’s career stalled, but was revived in 1981 with the R&B hit “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.” Throughout most of the Eighties, the singer struggled with drug addiction, eventually checking himself into a rehabilitation center for treatment. A series of health problems would follow, including diabetes,pneumoniacolon cancer and the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, though it was unclear if any of these ailments contributed to his death. Womack was declared cancer-free in 2012.

Read the rest at the RS link.

Read a collection of tweets in praise of Womack from The Guardian: Stars pay tribute to the great Bobby Womack.

At the Washington Post, Simon Waxman of the Boston Review has a worthwhile op-ed about the continuing scandal of the Washington Redskins’ refusal to deal with the inherent racism of their team name: The U.S. military’s ongoing slur of Native Americans.

Resistance to the Washington Redskins team name has ebbed and flowed over the years, but thanks in part to letters from 50 senators to the team’s owner, Dan Snyder, and last week’s decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to rescind the team’s trademark registration, the campaign to get rid of it has renewed urgency.

Snyder has shrugged off complaints about the name, even claiming that “redskins” is a “badge of honor.” Team president Bruce Allen, protesting too much, says the name “has always been respectful of and shown reverence toward the proud legacy and traditions of Native Americans.”

The team and the NFL are under a great deal of pressure right now,

But even if the NFL and Redskins brass come to their senses and rename the team, a greater symbolic injustice would continue to afflict Indians — an injustice perpetuated not by a football club but by our federal government.

In the United States today, the names Apache, Comanche, Chinook, Lakota, Cheyenne and Kiowa apply not only to Indian tribes but also to military helicopters. Add in the Black Hawk, named for a leader of the Sauk tribe. Then there is the Tomahawk, a low-altitude missile, and a drone named for an Indian chief, Gray Eagle. Operation Geronimo was the end of Osama bin Laden.

Why do we name our battles and weapons after people we have vanquished? For the same reason the Washington team is the Redskins and my hometown Red Sox go to Cleveland to play the Indians and to Atlanta to play the Braves: because the myth of the worthy native adversary is more palatable than the reality — the conquered tribes of this land were not rivals but victims, cheated and impossibly outgunned.

The destruction of the Indians was asymmetric war, compounded by deviousness in the name of imperialist manifest destiny. White America shot, imprisoned, lied, swindled, preached, bought, built and voted its way to domination. Identifying our powerful weapons and victorious campaigns with those we subjugated serves to lighten the burden of our guilt. It confuses violation with a fair fight.

It’s an excellent essay. I hope the powers that be will get the message.

Another op-ed at The New York Times argues against popular claims that marijuana is an effective treatment for untold numbers of illnesses: Politicians Prescriptions for Marijuana Defy Doctors and Data. It appears that the NYT has fixed it’s website so that you can’t copy and paste anything anymore, so you’ll need to go to the link to read the article by Catherine St. Louis. It’s quite interesting and compelling.

What the hell is going on down in Mississippi. I haven’t been following the story closely, but this is stunning: Tea party leader Mayfield dies in apparent suicide.

Attorney Mark Mayfield was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound Friday at his Ridgeland home.

Mayfield, vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, was one of three men charged with conspiring with Clayton Kelly to photograph U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home to use in a political video against Cochran in the Republican Senate primary against state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

Ridgeland police said they received a 911 call at 9:03 a.m. from a woman who said her husband had just shot himself.

Officers responded to the home on Cherry Laurel Lane in the Bridgewater subdivision at 9:07 a.m. and were directed by Mayfield’s wife to a storage room in the garage.

Officers found Mayfield lying on the floor with a single gunshot wound to his head, according to a Ridgeland Police Department statement. Police found a “large caliber revolver” near the body. “The death is classified as a death investigation-pending, due to an awaiting autopsy to be performed at an undetermined time.” ….

Mayfield of Ridgeland, an attorney and state and local tea party leader, was arrested by the Madison police Department last month along with Richard Sager, a Laurel elementary school P.E. teacher and high school soccer coach. Police said they also charged John Beachman Mary of Hattiesburg, but he was not taken into custody because of “extensive medical conditions.” All face felony conspiracy charges. Sager also was charged with felony tampering with evidence, and Mary faces two conspiracy counts.

Much more at the link.

Even more bizarre, Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reports: McDaniel Campaign Staffer Blames Tea Party’s Leader Suicide On Political Opponents.

The strange and ugly Mississippi Republican Senate primary turned tragic when Mark Mayfield was found dead Friday. Mayfield was a lawyer and board member of the Central Mississippi tea party and one of the alleged conspirators in the case surrounding the break-in and photographing of incumbent Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home.

Mayfield’s death was an apparent suicide, according to reports.

On Twitter, one high-level McDaniel staffer, policy director Keith Plunkett wrote:

“A good man is gone today bc of a campaign to destroy lives. To all “so called” Republican leaders who joined lockstep: I WILL NOT REST!”

More tweets at Buzzfeed.

I’m going to end there, because there are numerous relative milling around me wondering why I’m typing on a computer instead of joining the group. What stories are you following today? Please share your thoughts and links on the comment thread.

 


Friday Nite Lite: Bada Bing Pope

This is Friday? I had no idea. We got back from Children’s Hospital of Atlanta Scottish Rite late last night. On Monday, my son Jake had a high sugar episode…up to 598. He now has Type 1 Diabetes and is Insulin Dependent. His life has changed completely and drastically. Even though he will be able to live a “normal” life in the long run, now things are bad. We spent three days in Atlanta at the hospital learning about his new regiment of blood glucose test, insulin shots, calculations and other things. It is overwhelming.  He is now having low sugar numbers, and we are having to work through this, but it is getting a little easier each time.

As for the blog and the post:

I don’t know what is going on in my own life at the moment, much less what is going on out there. My newsblur reader is at close to 16,000 unread articles…and there is still so much to do. Anyway, the news? I am sure it is all shitty…I heard about the fucking SCOTUS ruling about the abortion clinic barrier infringing upon “free speech.” WTF is it? Women are going to end up in a worse situation by the end of this year, I feel it. (But then I am not very positive about anything right now.)

So I only have one cartoon tonight.

It is a good one.

PopeMafia by Political Cartoonist Joe Heller

 

150210 600 PopeMafia cartoons

 

This is an open thread.


Friday Reads: Unsafe at any speed

Good Morning!

I’m not sure if you’ve ever spent time near an abortion clinic during the crazy times but it’s something that will make you very afraid of going near images (1)some churches.  The whacko and danger factor are high.  So unbelievably high that I don’t think you can really appreciate it unless you’ve done some time as a clinic escort.  I certainly wish SCOTUS would’ve spent some time there before making this decision. The Buffer Zone idea is so reasonable that even the Supreme Court Building has one.  But, buffer zones are no longer constitutional at abortion clinics.  It will likely take more violence from the whackos to change some minds.

The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that barred protests, counseling and other speech near abortion clinics.

“A painted line on the sidewalk is easy to enforce, but the prime objective of the First Amendment is not efficiency,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in a majority opinion that was joined by the court’s four-member liberal wing.

The law, enacted in 2007, created 35-foot buffer zones around entrances to abortion clinics. State officials said the law was a response to a history of harassment and violence at abortion clinics in Massachusetts, including a shooting rampage at two facilities in 1994.

The Massachusetts law was challenged on First Amendment grounds by opponents of abortion who said they sought to have quiet conversations with women entering clinics to tell them about alternatives. “Petitioners are not protesters,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote.

The court was unanimous about the bottom line but divided on the reasoning, with Chief Justice Roberts writing a narrow opinion. The law blocked too much speech, he said, “sweeping in innocent individuals.”

I’m sure well see Martha Coakley find another way.  From the viewpoint of women down here in the south, even the whacko gauntlet would be a refreshing change from no clinics at all.

images (2)But anything still goes in the world of weaponry and the second amendment.  How about living in range of the Arkansas National Guard and artillery practice?

A Franklin County man has a large hole in his wall and other damage to his property,  after an artillery shell from Fort Chaffee hits his community.

“Then all of a sudden there was a tremendously loud boom,” said neighbor Susan Strobel.

People in Charleston who live close to Fort Chaffee are use to hearing explosions.

“I just assumed that they got some type of new weapon they were trying out,” said Strobel.

But this was the first time Bryan Martin had damage in his own backyard. ” I had a lot of damage to the roofs, to the siding, and holes and you could stick your fist into the brick”, said Bryan Martin.

According to Major Matt Snead with the Arkansas National Guard, an artillery shell was fired and hit east of Rattlesnake Canyon Road in Franklin County.

“The damage could have been lives,” said Martin.

According to Martin, around 3:00 p.m. on Thursday (June 5), the shell landed on his property and then exploded.

At least that was the National Guard. How about this guy in Oklahoma?
Please won’t you be my neighbor?

An Oklahoma home was damaged last weekend by a howitzer artillery shell fired from a gun range three miles away.

The artillery shell – which is 14.5 inches long and 3.5 inches across – crashed through an exterior wall, hit the ceiling, and damaged another wall while homeowner Gene Kelley and his wife were in another room, reported KOAM-TV.

“It’s unbelievable,” Kelley said. “Unless you were here to see it or see the pictures I’ve got, you would not believe how huge this thing is.”

Meanwhile, the Republican outreach to women and minorities and nearly every one else continues.ad_amc_gremlin_gt_red_1978

Gov. Paul LePage has long cast a wide net for programs that he says fit the definition of welfare. On Wednesday, in a media release written as an alternative take on new personal-income data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, he lumped Social Security and Medicare into that definition.

The federal data released Tuesday put Maine’s personal-income growth at 0.5 percent in the first three months of 2014, which ranked 39th nationally, last in New England and well below the national rate of 0.8 percent. One of the biggest reasons cited for the low ranking was Maine’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

LePage, however, said in the media release that Maine’s net personal earnings increased by 0.8 percent, in line with other New England states and slightly higher than the national rate of net personal earnings, 0.7 percent.

The governor arrived at his number by excluding what the federal bureau calls “personal current transfer receipts” and dividends, interest and rental income.

Personal current transfer receipts include payments from the federal government to states for Social Security, Medicare, unemployment benefits and Medicaid expansion. Maine is one of only four states (Indiana, Tennessee and Wyoming are the others) where transfer receipts declined in the first quarter of this year. Nationally, transfer receipts grew by $41.1 billion.

LePage said he chose not to follow the federal bureau’s definition because it conceals welfare benefits.

“It doesn’t matter what liberals call these payments, it is welfare, pure and simple,” LePage said in the statement. “Liberals from the White House all the way down to Democratic leadership in Augusta believe that redistribution of wealth – taking money from hard-working taxpayers and giving it to a growing number of welfare recipients – is personal income. It’s not. It’s just more welfare expansion. Democrats can obfuscate the numbers any way they want. The fact is that we have created thousands of jobs, more Mainers are working, and their income is going up.”

1950_Hudson_Brochure-01 (Large)Fox News Pundits are melting down about how many Americans are getting excited about Soccer and the World Cup.

“I’m suspect,” Dr. Keith Ablow said Thursday on “Outnumbered” as the US men’s national team faced off against Germany. “I am suspect because, here’s the thing. Why, at a time when there are so many national and international issues of such prominence — I’m a little suspicious of yet another bread-and-circus routine. Let’s roll out the marijuana, pull back the laws, and get people even more crazy about yet another entertainment event.”

Ablow’s four female co-hosts weren’t buying it, interrupting him with protests of “what?” and “what’s wrong with you?”

“This is a way to distract people,” Ablow continued. “This is like Rome. I can see why Obama would love the World Cup –”

“What are you talking about?” interjected Kimberly Guilfoyle, who said her son plays soccer. “This is encouraging for kids to get out and play sports, and you can play soccer from a young age.”

Ablow continued to insist he found it odd that “people are playing games more than ever” when there are other pressing issues to pay attention to.

1958_Ford_Fairlane-28 (Large)Ann Coulter went even further.

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter is known for her questionable, often offensive rants, but her latest tirade is pure trolling of soccer fans everywhere.

In a syndicated column published less than 24 hours before what was perhaps the U.S. team’s most important game in nearly four years — when most soccer supporters were likely too busy and nervous to bother to respond to tired anti-soccer arguments –Coulter argued that a growing interest in the sport is a sign of America’s “moral decay.”

“Do they even have MVPs in soccer? Everyone just runs up and down the field and, every once in a while, a ball accidentally goes in,” Coulter writes, not bothering to check if her question actually has an answer (it does). “That’s when we’re supposed to go wild. I’m already asleep.”

Among the reasons Coulter says she thinks soccer is horrible: liberal moms love it; some games end in scoreless ties; you can’t use your hands; it’s foreign; and it’s like the metric system.

We wouldn’t have wasted the time rebutting Coulter earlier today, but with the U.S. now through to the next round, we’re here to help you understand just how stupid some of her claims are:

“I’ve held off on writing about soccer for a decade — or about the length of the average soccer game — so as not to offend anyone.”

We could have waited another 10 years, but it’s worth noting that World Cup soccer is actually almost always a 90-minute game, with a 15-minute halftime break and a few minutes added on for stoppage time. While games can go longer for extra time and possibly penalties in knockout rounds, game times are usually predictable, and much shorter than other major American sports, which have commercial breaks, timeouts and other general stoppages in play, which also halt the clock.

“There are no heroes, no losers, no accountability, and no child’s fragile self-esteem is bruised.”

Who gave these folks the keys to our government and the fourth estate?  Where exactly are they driving us?

What’s on you reading and blogging list today?

 


Thursday Reads

Childe Hassam - Two Women Reading

Childe Hassam – Two Women Reading

Good Morning!!

 

Wolf Blitzer must be celebrating this morning, because the mystery plane is back in the headlines.

Associated Press reports (via CTV):

SYDNEY, Australia — Investigators looking into the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines plane are confident it was on autopilot when it crashed in a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean, Australian officials said Thursday as they announced the latest shift in the search for the jet.

After analyzing data exchanged between the plane and a satellite, officials believe Flight 370 was on autopilot the entire time it was flying across a vast expanse of the southern Indian Ocean, based on the straight path it took, Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Martin Dolan said.

“Certainly for its path across the Indian Ocean, we are confident that the aircraft was operating on autopilot until it ran out of fuel,” Dolan told reporters in Canberra, the nation’s capital.

Asked whether the autopilot would have to be manually switched on, or whether it could have been activated automatically under a default setting, Dolan replied, “The basic assumption would be that if the autopilot is operational it’s because it’s been switched on.”

But exactly why the autopilot would have been set on a flight path so far off course from the jet’s destination of Beijing, and exactly when it was switched on remains unknown.

The New York Times explains what likely happened:

Wolf plane

A report issued by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, outlining how the new search zone had been chosen, said that the most likely scenario as the aircraft headed south across the Indian Ocean on March 8 was that the crew was suffering from hypoxia or was otherwise unresponsive.

Hypoxia occurs when a plane loses air pressure and the pilots, lacking adequate oxygen, become confused and incapable of performing even basic manual tasks.

Pilots are trained to put on oxygen masks immediately if an aircraft suffers depressurization; their masks have an hour’s air supply, compared with only a few minutes for the passengers. The plane, which left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, bound for Beijing, with 239 people aboard, made its turn south toward the Indian Ocean about an hour after it stopped responding to air-traffic controllers….

Evidence for an unresponsive crew as the plane flew south includes the loss of radio communications, a long period with no maneuvering of the aircraft, a steadily maintained cruise altitude and eventual fuel exhaustion and descent, the report said.

“Given these observations, the final stages of the unresponsive crew/hypoxia event type appeared to best fit the available evidence for the final period of MH370’s flight when it was heading in a generally southerly direction,” the document said.

Based on the report, a new search zone has been designated, according to the LA Times:

Experts from Boeing and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board were among the specialists who helped define the zone, based on satellite data and analysis of previous similar incidents.

The new zone, about 1,100 miles west of Perth, Australia, is farther south than where previous intensive search efforts were carried out this spring after the plane vanished March 8 with 239 people aboard. The flight was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it went missing….

Australia Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the search was continuing with a mapping of the ocean floor in the newly defined area, to be followed by a comprehensive seafloor search.

The seafloor search, he said, should start around August and be completed within one year. The area is 58 miles wide and 400 miles long, covering an area as big as Lake Huron, the second-largest of the U.S. Great Lakes. By comparison, the area searched with a robotic, sonar-equipped submarine in May was about 330 square miles.

First gay marriage license issued in Indiana

First gay marriage license issued in Indiana

There was exciting news yesterday in the struggle to legalize same-sex marriage state by state.

From NPR: Federal Judges Reverse Gay-Marriage Bans In Utah, Indiana.

Utah and Indiana are the latest states to see their bans on same-sex marriage struck down by a federal court, following rulings in both states Wednesday that found the prohibition unconstitutional.

In Utah, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld a lower court ruling striking down the state’s gay-marriage ban. And in Indiana,U.S. District Judge Richard Young made a similar ruling.

“It is wholly illogical to believe that state recognition of love and commitment of same-sex couples will alter the most intimate and personal decisions of opposite-sex couples,” the three-judge panel in the Utah case said. The panel immediately put the ruling on hold pending its appeal, either to the entire 10th Circuit or directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to The Associated Press.

In Indiana, Young wrote: “Same-sex couples, who would otherwise qualify to marry in Indiana, have the right to marry in Indiana. … These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”

Both decisions are significant in that they may influence decisions in other states.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, writes NPR in an email that the Utah decision “is very significant, as [it is] the first appellate court to address the marriage equality issue.

“The 4th Circuit [in Virginia] may well apply the reasoning of the 10th Circuit opinion, as will numerous district courts that have yet to rule,” he says.

“The Indiana ruling invalidating its ban today also used similar reasoning,” Tobias says. “All courts are finding that the bans violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th amendment.”

In another breakthrough, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine has announced that she supports same-sex marriage. From The Washington Post: 

“A number of states, including my home state of Maine, have now legalized same-sex marriage, and I agree with that decision,” Collins said in a statement, adding later: “I have long opposed efforts to impose a federal ban on same-sex marriage. In both 2004 and 2006, I voted against amendments to the United States Constitution that would have banned same-sex marriages by preempting state laws.”

Collins joins three other Republican senators who publicly support gay marriage: Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Mark Kirk (Ill.).

Today at noon Eastern, the U.S. plays Germany in the World Cup.

world cup

CBS News reports, Team USA: “Everything’s on the line” for Germany match.

 

It’s been a roller coaster ride for the American team so far in the World Cup. The team that, on paper, many pundits didn’t expect to advance, now has a real shot at moving on to the second round. And as CBS News’ Elaine Quijano reports, that fate is hinged on beating or at least coming up even against one of the cup favorites, Germany.

Team USA was greeted with cheers from American fans Wednesday as they arrived in the Brazilian city of Recife.

Players spent the three days between matches recovering and regrouping after a physical first game against Ghana and an emotional tie against Portugal.

“This is the biggest game of a lot of our lives, so any fatigue in our legs will be erased,” said American midfielder Kyle Beckerman. “We’ve got to give everything we’ve got and more.”

Team USA began their World Cup run in the so-called “group of death,” but their aggression, attacks and overall stamina on the pitch have defied pundits who originally dismissed their chances of advancing.

“I think some people might be a little bit surprised at our results so far,” coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Wednesday. “We are by no means any underdog here in this tournament, but we know it’s the biggest hurdle we have to take now with Germany.”

Klinsman suggested that U.S. fans should take a day off work to watch the game, and wrote a letter to bosses asking them to excuse their employee’s absences, reports Reuters.

In the style of a ‘doctor’s note’, Klinsmann addresses employers and asks them to forgive their staff for their absence.

The letter was distributed on social networks by the U.S. Soccer.

“I understand that this absence may reduce the productivity of your workplace, but I can assure you that it is for an important cause,” wrote Klinsmann.

“The #USMNT (U.S. Men’s National Team) has a critical World Cup game vs Germany and we will need the full support of the nation if we are to advance to the next round.

“By the way, you should act like a good leader and take the day off as well. Go USA! Signed Jurgen Klinsmann, Head Coach, U.S. National team”.

And from Jake Simpson at the Atlantic: The Surprisingly High Stakes of the U.S.-Germany World Cup Game.

In the wake of the U.S. team’s heartbreaking come-from-ahead draw against Portugal in the World Cup on Sunday, soccer analysts and Twitter users scrambled to figure out the many ways the U.S. can still get to the next round. With a three-point lead over Portugal and Ghana in Group G, the Americans can advance even if they lose their match against Germany at noon Eastern today, depending on the outcome of the Portugal-Ghana game played at the same time. Deadspin has one of the better graphical breakdowns of every potential scenario for the U.S., including the dreaded drawing of lots.

All the focus on permutations and goal-differential scenarios has undercut the importance of today’s game for American soccer. There’s not as much at stake, goes the implication, because we can move ahead even if we lose to Germany. But this is about more than getting to the next round. This is an opportunity for the U.S. to face one of soccer’s elite teams on the biggest stage and prove it can hang with—even beat—any country in this World Cup.

Before the tournament, most people thought it would be an unlikely success for the U.S. just to get out of the so-called Group of Death and to the Round of 16. Now, after beating Ghana and dominating much of the game against Portugal, the U.S. can dream bigger. Beat Germany, and America wins its group for the second straight World Cup, a result nearly unthinkable when the draw was announced in December. Beat Germany, and the U.S. secures a favorable Round of 16 match most likely against Algeria or Russia, rather than a trickier faceoff with sneaky-good Belgium.

Just as important, a win would mean that the Americans have defeated one of soccer’s oligarchs at a World Cup, with both sides trying their best for a victory. That by itself would be a precedent-setting result.

People in Oklahoma are beginning to ask questions

about why their state has been having so many earthquakes all of a sudden, according to the Globe-Gazzette.com.

Barbara Brown poses for a photo on the front step of her home that now sits about one foot off the surface of her lawn, Saturday, June 21, 2014, in Reno, Texas.

Barbara Brown poses for a photo on the front step of her home that now sits about one foot off the surface of her lawn, Saturday, June 21, 2014, in Reno, Texas.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma residents whose homes and nerves have been shaken by an upsurge in earthquakes want to know what’s causing the temblors — and what can be done to stop them.

Hundreds of people are expected to turn out in Edmond, Oklahoma, on Thursday night for a town hall meeting on the issue.

Earthquakes used to be almost unheard of on the vast stretches of prairie that unfold across Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, but they’ve become common in recent years.

Oklahoma recorded nearly 150 between January and the start of May. Though most have been too weak to cause serious damage or endanger lives, they’ve raised suspicions that the shaking might be connected to the oil and gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, especially the wells in which the industry disposes of its wastewater.

Now after years of being harangued by anxious residents, governments in all three states are confronting the issue, reviewing scientific data, holding public discussions and considering new regulations. Thursday’s meeting in Oklahoma will include the state agency that regulates oil and gas drilling and the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

Gee, do you suppose it could have anything to do with fracking? And what about all that wastewater that has to be disposed of in the fracking process? From Techsonia: Fracking Fluid Spills release Colloids that Pollute Groundwater.

According to a new research, wastewater contains substances that bind to pollutants and their release in soil leads to the ground water contamination as they get along with the water when it is soaked by earth.

In this study, flowback fluid from hydraulic fracturing was analyzed. Colloids are the charged particles and larger than molecules and have the potency to bind to sand grains. With the wastewater, colloids get released in to the ground water.

This study was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and was conducted by the researchers at the Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

This study was done to determine the remaining colloids amounts in groundwater when the above soil got exposed to flowback fliud in a hydrofracking spills.

Ugh.

One last story . . .

Scientists have unearthed interesting facts about Oldest human faeces show Neanderthals ate vegetables.

Found at a dig in Spain, the ancient excrement showed chemical traces of both meat and plant digestion.

An earlier view of these early humans as purely meat-eating has already been partially discredited by plant remains found in their caves and teeth.

The new paper, in the journal PLOS One, claims to offer the best support to date for an omnivorous diet.

Poo is “the perfect evidence,” said Ms Ainara Sistiaga, a PhD student at the University of La Laguna on the Canary Islands, and the study’s first author, “because you’re sure it was consumed”.

Ms Sistiaga and her colleagues collected a number of samples from the remnants of a 50,000-year-old campfire in the El Salt dig site, a known Neanderthal habitation near Alicante on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.

So if you bought into the “cave man diet” AKA “Paleolithic diet” recommendations, you were scammed. These early Neanderthals even cooked vegetables and may have used plants for medicinal purposes. Read the whole article at the link. It’s fascinating.

Now . . . what stories are you following today? Are you going to watch the U.S.-Germany game? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread.

 


Wednesday News Headlines

Harvard_Square_Subway_Kiosk

Good Morning!!

 

This is going to be a brief open thread–just some headlines to get you started on the day. I apologize for not being able to write a full post. JJ is dealing with some urgent family problems, I’m at my mom’s house helping her get ready for several out-of-town guests, and Dakinikat is taking her pets to the vet. Dak and I will be around this afternoon.

So here’s what’s happening in the headlines this morning.

CNN: Syrian warplanes strike in Iraq, killing 57 civilians, official says.

BBC: Russian and Ukrainian media consider Putin step

An Arkansas GOP official said of Hillary Clinton: ‘She’d Probably Get Shot at the State Line’.

But the official, Johnny Rhoda, didn’t actually mean what he said as a threat.

And he claims his remarks were “taken way out of context,” because he was laughing when he said them.

Actor Eli Wallach has died: ‘Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ Star Eli Wallach Dies at 98 (Hollywood Reporter).

WaPo: Cochran beats McDaniel in nail-biter in Mississippi.

Mother Jones: A Mississippi Surprise: GOP Sen. Cochran Beats Back Tea Party Champion.

Dick Cheney just won’t go away. From the Hill, Cheney: Next attack ‘likely’ deadlier than 9/11.

CNN: FIFA starts disciplinary action against Luis Suarez after biting claims.

Reuters: New York Congressman Charles Rangel claims victory in Democratic primary.

Reuters: Seattle Archdiocese to pay $12 million to settle child sex abuse claims: lawyer.

What stories are you following today? Have a great “hump day,” Sky Dancers!