What is going on with the Secret Service? There has been one scandal after another involving the agency during Obama’s presidency. In the past couple of days The Washington Post broke the news that not only did Omar Gonzalez, the Iraq war veteran who jumped over the fence and got into the White House on Friday, September 19 actually get deep into the White House before being apprehended, but also the Secret Service apparently lied about that and a previous White House breach.
Carol D. Leonnig reports: White House fence-jumper made it far deeper into building than previously known.
The man who jumped the White House fence this month and sprinted through the front door made it much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor, according to three people familiar with the incident.
An alarm box near the front entrance of the White House designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at what officers believed was a request of the usher’s office, said a Secret Service official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The officer posted inside the front door appeared to be delayed in learning that the intruder, Omar Gonzalez, was about to burst through. Officers are trained that, upon learning of an intruder on the grounds — often through the alarm boxes posted around the property — they must immediately lock the front door.
After barreling past the guard immediately inside the door, Gonzalez, who was carrying a knife, dashed past the stairway leading a half-flight up to the first family’s living quarters. He then ran into the 80-foot-long East Room, an ornate space often used for receptions or presidential addresses.
Gonzalez was tackled by a counterassault agent at the far southern end of the East Room. The intruder reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn with artwork and antique furniture, according to three people familiar with the incident.
Below is a diagram of Gonzolez’ pathway through the White House, from The Daily Telegraph.
Leonnig also reported a few days ago on a 2011 incident in which a gunman shot at the White House with a semiautomatic rifle: Secret Service fumbled response after gunman hit White House residence in 2011.
The gunman parked his black Honda directly south of the White House, in the dark of a November night, in a closed lane of Constitution Avenue. He pointed his semiautomatic rifle out of the passenger window, aimed directly at the home of the president of the United States, and pulled the trigger.
A bullet smashed a window on the second floor, just steps from the first family’s formal living room. Another lodged in a window frame, and more pinged off the roof, sending bits of wood and concrete to the ground. At least seven bullets struck the upstairs residence of the White House, flying some 700 yards across the South Lawn.
President Obama and his wife were out of town on that evening of Nov. 11, 2011, but their younger daughter, Sasha, and Michelle Obama’s mother,Marian Robinson, were inside, while older daughter Malia was expected back any moment from an outing with friends.
Secret Service officers initially rushed to respond. One, stationed directly under the second-floor terrace where the bullets struck, drew her .357 handgun and prepared to crack open an emergency gun box. Snipers on the roof, standing just 20 feet from where one bullet struck, scanned the South Lawn through their rifle scopes for signs of an attack. With little camera surveillance on the White House perimeter, it was up to the Secret Service officers on duty to figure out what was going on.
Then came an order that surprised some of the officers. “No shots have been fired. . . . Stand down,” a supervisor called over his radio. He said the noise was the backfire from a nearby construction vehicle.
That was just the beginning of the “fumbled response.”
That command was the first of a string of security lapses, never previously reported, as the Secret Service failed to identify and properly investigate a serious attack on the White House. While the shooting and eventual arrest of the gunman, Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez, received attention at the time, neither the bungled internal response nor the potential danger to the Obama daughters has been publicly known. This is the first full account of the Secret Service’s confusion and the missed clues in the incident — and the anger the president and first lady expressed as a result.
By the end of that Friday night, the agency had confirmed a shooting had occurred but wrongly insisted the gunfire was never aimed at the White House. Instead, Secret Service supervisors theorized, gang members in separate cars got in a gunfight near the White House’s front lawn — an unlikely scenario in a relatively quiet, touristy part of the nation’s capital.
It took the Secret Service four days to realize that shots had hit the White House residence, a discovery that came about only because a housekeeper noticed broken glass and a chunk of cement on the floor.
Four days to figure out that bullets had struck inside the White House?! Unbelievable! And yet the White House came to the defense of the agency after Leonig’s report on the 2011 incident. From the LA Times:
“The men and women of the Secret Service put their lives on the line for the president of the United States, his family and folks working in the White House every single day, 24 hours a day,” deputy national security advisor Tony Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “Their task is incredible and the burden that they bear is incredible.”
Blinken spoke in the wake of the publication of a story in The Washington Post about the Secret Service’s slow and confused response to the 2011 shooting. The gunman, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, was arrested for firing rifle shots at the White House from a nearby street.
Are officials afraid that Secret Service agents will be even more careless about the President’s safety if they are criticized? (Privately, the WaPo reported, President Obama and his wife Michelle were extremely angry after the shooting incident.) As for the “burden that they bear,” I guess that’s why agents have a history of drinking, carousing, and hiring prostitutes–to deal with all that stress? What if Obama or a member of his family had been wounded or killed during one of these security breaches?
At least some in Congress are taking the problem seriously. NPR reports, Secret Service Chief Faces Questions Over Breaches At White House.
The head of the U.S. Secret Service is in for a likely grilling from lawmakers today when she appears before a House committee to answer questions about the Sept. 19 security breach at the White House in which a man with a knife jumped a fence and made it inside the executive mansion before agents intercepted him.
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson will appear opposite members of the House Oversight Committee just as new information has come to light about the incident: The Washington Post reports that after jumping the fence, Omar Gonzalez made it past the front doors, overpowered a guard and then ran across the East Room before being tackled at the doorway to the Green Room.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday that the president and first family, who were not in the executive mansion at the time of the breach, are “obviously concerned” but have confidence in the Secret Service.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a member of the House Oversight Committee on Monday told The Associated Press that he’s “worried” that “over the last several years, security has gotten worse, not better.”
NPR’s Giles Snyder says while the fence jumper incident is likely to dominate the hearing, Pierson, who took over as Secret Service chief last year, is also expected to be questioned about a 2011 incident in which shots were fired at the White House.
The Daily Telegraph summarizes previous Secret Service screw-ups under Obama:
The American public first learned the phrase “wheels up party” in 2012. The term refers to agents’ often-drunken celebrations in a foreign country after a successful overseas trip by the President.
But during Mr Obama’s visit to Cartegena, Colombia, his bodyguards didn’t wait until the President had left town. Eleven agents were sent home after some allegedly drank and slept with prostitutes in the week leading up to Mr Obama’s visit. The Secret Service promised reform but a similar incident unfolded in Amsterdam in March when one agent was so drunk they passed out in a hotel hallway.
Less than a year after Mr Obama took office in 2009, he hosted a lavish state dinner for the Indian prime minister, inviting many of Washington’s most notable figures to attend.
But among the dignitaries were Michaele and Tareq Salahi, a Virginia couple who had dressed up for the event but had no invitation. They passed easily through the Secret Service cordon and photos later showed them smiling alongside Mr Obama and his top aides.
The ease with which the “party crashers” entered the White House exposed the Secret Service to ridicule but also raised serious questions about security.
Mr Obama is said to face an unprecedented level of death threats – both from right-wing extremists and Islamist militants – and the misfires by the Secret Service have dented the agency’s projection of invincibility.
Not that any of this irresponsible behavior by Secret Service agents is really all that surprising for those who remember history. There have been numerous reports of similar behavior before and during the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Russ Baker wrote about it at his blog “Who What Why” after the Colombia incidents in 2012.
Go back almost half a century, and look at the most shocking dereliction of duty ever—the failures that made it easy for someone (or someones) to assassinate John F Kennedy. The failings are endless, from not insisting that the bubble top go on Kennedy’s car, to having too few Secret Service agents protecting the president, to authorizing a particularly dangerous route that slowed the car way down, to allowing it to go through a canyon of windows—and then not checking or securing the windows or installing spotters or sharpshooters. A grade school kid could have done a more serious job of protecting the president….
And yet we continue to let this agency off the hook. We forgot that even LBJ, a direct beneficiary of the agency’s sloppiness with his former boss, trusted the outfit so little himself that he inquired at one point whether he could have the FBI protect him instead.
The history of racist attitudes in the Secret Service is also concerning, as Baker argues:
It is foolish to ignore the worldviews and attitudes of people expected to protect presidents. Former Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden has described rampant racism and widespread contempt for Kennedy and his policies among Bolden’s fellow officers.
Now, here are a few salient details about the Secret Service today that go beyond trying to get a little “R&R”: When Washington Post reporters visited the Virginia home of Texas native David R. Chaney, one of the Secret Service supervisors on the Colombia trip, they found a silver pickup truck parked in front. On the vehicle they spotted a bumper sticker with an outline of the state of Texas, and the word “secede.”
It is interesting to note that Chaney’s father served in the Secret Service when Kennedy was in office. As assistant agent in charge of personnel, he was friends with many of the agents who were in Dallas in November, 1963.
There’s much more at the link. Please read the whole thing.
There were also reports of drinking and carousing by Secret Service agents in Dallas the night before the assassination. Vince Palamara has spent years researching the Secret Service and the JFK assassination, and he published a book about it last year, Survivors’ Guilt: The Secret Service and the Failure to Protect President Kennedy.
I know there is lots of other news, but I thought this story was worth a full post. So . . . what other stories are you following today? Let us know in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday.
I attended a V to shining V party on Saturday night! It was great to be out among active women’s rights advocates. We also had some great snacks and games. We got to “Pin the Probe on the Politician”. Those pictures are of Bobby Jindal, Bill Cassidy, and Rick Perry all appropriately pinned at various points. I’m continuing my stump for Mary Landrieu and polls show that I’ve got to continue to work to find support and volunteers for her.
As Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu defends her U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana, a new CNN/ORC International pollindicates the third-term incumbent carries a slim advantage over her closest GOP rival in the general election this November.
But this is Louisiana, and the election system can be complicated. There are nine candidates — Republicans, Democrats, and a Libertarian — on the ballot this November, and if no candidate crosses the 50% threshold, the race moves into a December runoff between the top two contenders.
Landrieu currently falls well below the 50% mark at 43% support among likely voters. Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy comes in second at 40%, according to the survey.
But the poll’s sampling error among likely voters is plus or minus four percentage points, meaning the two candidates are about even.
In a state with large swaths of conservative voters, Landrieu is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for re-election this year. Republicans, eager to take control of the Senate, have focused on the race as a potential pick-up seat. The GOP needs a net gain of six seats to retake the majority.
If the horse race in Louisiana stays relatively the same, Landrieu and Cassidy would be the two candidates heading into the runoff — and that’s when things flip.
The poll indicates that Cassidy would fare slightly better in a runoff than Landrieu, 50%-47%.
“Keep in mind that the electorate in December is probably going to be smaller and quite a bit different from those who turn out to vote in November,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.
I thought I’d bring up something that’s been intriguing me for a few days. A whistle blower–Fed Employee–has pretty much charged the New York Fed with being captured by Goldman Sach’s. The story was first broke by ProPublica. The woman was fired when she released a negative assessment of GS during an examination.
Barely a year removed from the devastation of the 2008 financial crisis, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York faced a crossroads. Congress had set its sights on reform. The biggest banks in the nation had shown that their failure could threaten the entire financial system. Lawmakers wanted new safeguards.
This story was co-published with This American Life, from WBEZ Chicago.
The Federal Reserve, and, by dint of its location off Wall Street, the New York Fed, was the logical choice to head the effort. Except it had failed miserably in catching the meltdown.
New York Fed President William Dudley had to answer two questions quickly: Why had his institution blown it, and how could it do better? So he called in an outsider, a Columbia University finance professor named David Beim, and granted him unlimited access to investigate. In exchange, the results would remain secret.
After interviews with dozens of New York Fed employees, Beim learned something that surprised even him. The most daunting obstacle the New York Fed faced in overseeing the nation’s biggest financial institutions was its own culture. The New York Fed had become too risk-averse and deferential to the banks it supervised. Its examiners feared contradicting bosses, who too often forced their findings into an institutional consensus that watered down much of what they did.
The report didn’t only highlight problems. Beim provided a path forward. He urged the New York Fed to hire expert examiners who were unafraid to speak up and then encourage them to do so. It was essential, he said, to preventing the next crisis.
A year later, Congress gave the Federal Reserve even more oversight authority. And the New York Fed started hiring specialized examiners to station inside the too-big-to fail institutions, those that posed the most risk to the financial system.
One of the expert examiners it chose was Carmen Segarra.
Segarra appeared to be exactly what Beim ordered. Passionate and direct, schooled in the Ivy League and at the Sorbonne, she was a lawyer with more than 13 years of experience in compliance – the specialty of helping banks satisfy rules and regulations. The New York Fed placed her inside one of the biggest and, at the time, most controversial banks in the country, Goldman Sachs.
It did not go well. She was fired after only seven months.
So,I should remind you that I used to work for Fed Atlanta. I should also tell you that I’ve thought the NYC Fed has been a prime example of regulatory capture. You can go back into the files to see my dissections of the 2005 financial crisis as well as read my contempt for Gaithner. But, anyway, this story has legs, as they say so I wanted to share some updates.
Segarra found three clear cases where Goldman appeared to be engaged in wrongdoing, but where Fed staff pushed back at her attempts to correct it. The latter two incidents have audio evidence from Segarra’s recordings corroborating them.
The wealthy clients incident
A senior Goldman executive, at a meeting with Fed officials early in Segarra’s tenure, expressed the view that “once clients were wealthy enough, certain consumer laws didn’t apply to them,” in Bernstein’s words; this is corroborated by minutes from the meeting in questions. When Segarra tried to look into the issue further, a Fed colleague protested, saying the executive didn’t say that, or if he did, that he didn’t mean it.
The Santander incident
In early January, Goldman was closing a deal with the Spanish bank Santander, the point of which, Fed regulators discerned, was to take risky assets off of Santander’s hands so as to increase its ratio of capital to assets so as to comply with European regulators. The deal required Goldman to notify the Fed about the deal and get it to sign off, which Goldman hadn’t done.
While Fed officials, including Michael Silva, initially sounded outraged, in the end Silva only brought it up once, at the very end of a meeting with Goldman officials, and in a tone that Segarra found overly deferential. She thought the debrief from the meeting with other Fed officials suggested the Fed feared Goldman retaliation if they were too aggressive. This was despite the fact that Goldman was required to hand over information and the Fed could punish it, including criminally, if it failed to comply.
The most forceful action they considered taking against Goldman for the deal was sending them a letter; Bernstein couldn’t confirm that one was ever sent.
The conflict of interest policy incident
The Fed requires banks like Goldman to have firmwide conflict of interest policies that fit certain requirements. Segarra concluded that Goldman lacked such a policy, not least because Goldman’s staffer in charge of managing conflicts of interest told her the firm’s policy had no definition of “conflict of interest.”
Silva agreed with her. But after he got pushback from another Fed examiner, he changed his view, just as Segarra was about to take regulatory action to force Goldman to adopt a real policy. Silva protested that the bank had a conflict of interest policy, but Bernstein notes that it was “just a few paragraphs long and very general .… We showed it to two experts: former Fed examiners familiar with the Fed’s guidance on this issue. They both said it wouldn’t qualify as a policy.”
Silva urged her to recant her statement that there was no policy, despite the fact that he could have easily overridden her. Segarra suggests this was because, to quote Bernstein, “if she submitted her conclusions, it would create a formal record that her bosses didn’t want.” Eventually, Segarra agreed to say there was was a policy, albeit a “very poor policy,” but privately insisted to Silva that there was “no way this is a policy.” A week later, she was fired.
Elizabeth Warren–the senator at the right place, right time and with the right amount of expertise is calling for investigations. Notice both the Senator and the Whistle Blower are outspoken,intelligent, and obviously moral women.
An influential U.S. senator wants to hold hearings into “disturbing” issues raised by secretly taped conversations between Federal Reserve supervisors and officials at Goldman Sachs Group Inc <gs.n>, a bank the Fed was tasked with policing.
Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, on Friday called for hearings after portions of the recordings from 2011 and 2012 were made public. Fellow Democrat Sherrod Brown, also a committee member, called for a “full and thorough investigation” into the allegations they raised.
I’m hoping this does lead to an investigation and perhaps a call for changes in laws and the regulatory regime. I see that Sherrod Brown from Ohio has also called for congressional investigations.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are both calling for Congress to investigate the New York Federal Reserve Bank after recently releasedsecret recordings show the central bank allegedly going light on firms it was supposed to regulate.
Warren and Brown, both members of the Senate Banking Committee, called for an investigation of the New York Fed after Carmen Segarra, a former examiner at the bank, released secretly recorded tapes that she claims show her superiors telling her to go easy on private banks. Segarra says that she was fired from her job in 2012 for refusing to overlook Goldman’s lack of a conflict of interest policy and other questionable practices that should have brought tougher regulatory scrutiny.
Finally, a right wing forced birth zygote fetishist who will fess up to wanting to kill doctors, women, nurses, and any one else who might be associated with an abortion. We’ve always known they were pro death penalty for any one that steps out side their narrow world. The National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson wants them all “shot or hung”.
So this morning on Twitter, this happened; National Review writer Kevin D. Williamson made the real “pro-life” agenda very, very clear, expressing his opinion that women who have abortions should be put to death — by hanging. And not just the women; he says the doctor who performs the abortion, the nurses who assist, and the hospital staff who enable it should also be executed.
This was not satire, or a “joke.” He really believes this, as you’ll see if you read the following Twitter collection from the bottom up.
Is it more or they just getting more out there and obvious all the time? I think they just want women to shut up and go away. Oh, in an interesting turn of events ABC’s Martha Raddatz cut off Rick Perry in mid conspiracy theory rant. Do you suppose they’re actually going make a practice of this?
ABC News host Martha Raddatz on Sunday cut off Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) after he spent four minutes defending a conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was plotting to fill up the United States with undocumented immigrants.
Speaking to Fox News last week, Perry had asserted that the president was responsible for the growing crisis of women and children immigrants coming across the border.
“We either have an incredibly inept administration, or they’re in on this somehow or another,” Perry opined. “I mean I hate to be conspiratorial, but I mean how do you move that many people from Central America across Mexico and then into the United States without there being a fairly coordinated effort?”
During a Sunday interview on ABC News, host Martha Raddatz gave the Republican governor a chance to back away from his conspiracy theory.
“Governor, do you really believe there’s some sort of conspiracy to get people into the United States by the federal government, by the Obama administration?” Raddatz asked.
“When I have written a letter that is dated May of 2012, and I have yet to have a response from this administration, I will tell you they either are inept or don’t care, and that is my position,” Perry said, doubling down on the theory. “We have been bringing to the attention of President Obama and his administration since 2010, he received a letter from me on the tarmac… I have to believe that when you do not respond in any way, that you are either inept, or you have some ulterior motive of which you are functioning from.”
The former Republican presidential candidate added that his theory was proved by the fact that the president had not responded to his letter, and had not deployed drones to the border.
“Unless we secure our southern border, this is going to continue to be a massive amount of individuals that are coming to the United States,” Perry warned. “And, frankly, we don’t have a place to house them as it is. And if we have a major event, a hurricane that comes in to the Gulf Coast, I don’t have a place to be housing people who are displaced because this administration…”
At that point, Raddatz interrupted Perry and ended the interview.
I will once again point out that it was MARTHA Raddatz and not GEORGE that stepped in and actually acted embarrassed to question an obviously whacked set of answers to a legitimate question.
So, that’s it for me this morning! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
As you can see from the title, today’s reads deal with women and art.
Now, I have been trying to write this post for a month…but something has kept me from digging in and getting the job done. The internet was down, the kids were sick, things were too busy…ugh.
Finally, I had the time and the inclination to do the damn thing and what do you think happened? All my saved links have disappeared. This happened earlier in the month when I wrote my Hollywood suicides post. It is very disheartening.
I really think it is a sign…what it means…I have no idea.
So, I was able to find two of the articles and I will post them at the end of the thread. As for the newsy links, some big shit went down in Ferguson overnight:
A police officer from the strife-hit Missouri city of Ferguson was shot while responding to a burglary on Saturday and the suspects were still at large, law enforcement officials said.
The officer was chasing two suspects outside the Ferguson Community Center on Saturday night when one turned and shot him in the arm, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told a news conference.
The officer, who is expected to survive, returned fire but apparently did not hit either suspect, Belmar said.
Belmar said the shooting did not seem to be connected to peaceful protesting occurring elsewhere in Ferguson.
Well that is something…
“I wouldn’t have any reason to believe right now that it was linked in any way, shape, manner or form with the protests,” he said.
I wonder what other news outlets are saying?
Fox News makes no mention of the shooting being unrelated to the protest:
Authorities said a Ferguson (Mo.) police officer was shot and wounded while on patrol Saturday evening.
St. Louis County Police Sgt. Brian Schellman said the shooting took place at approximately 9:30 p.m. local time. KTVI reported that the officer was shot in the arm and sustained non-life-threatening injuries. At least a dozen law enforcement agencies responded to the shooting, and police helicopters canvassed the area, but no arrests were immediately reported.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told reporters early Sunday that the officer was shot after approaching two men at the Ferguson Community Center, which was closed at the time. As the officer approached, the men ran away. When the officer gave chase, “one of the men turned and shot,” Belmar said.
Belmar did not give further details about the officer’s condition. He said the officer returned fire but said police have “no indication” that either suspect was shot.
The shooting comes amid a fresh flare-up of unrest following the deadly August 9 shooting of a black teenager, Michael Brown, by a white police officer, Darren Wilson. The shooting sparked days of violent protests and racial unrest in the predominantly black community. Some residents and civil rights activists have said responding police officers were overly aggressive, noting their use of tear gas and surplus military vehicles and gear.
Saturday’s shooting occurred approximately two miles from where Brown died near his grandmother’s apartment building. KTVI reported that dozens of protesters initially showed up at the scene in the mistaken belief that the officer had shot someone. By midnight, approximately two dozen officers stood near a group of about 100 protesters who mingled on a street corner across from the police department, occasionally shouting, “No justice; no peace.”
The LA Times has more information on the speech Obama gave Saturday night at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s award dinner, as well as a few quotes from the Brown family regarding the “apology” from Ferguson”s Chief of Police:
At one point Saturday night, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who oversaw police during last months’ protests, appeared near the shooting scene and confirmed to the gathering crowd that “an officer has been shot.” He told the crowd to disperse.
Anthony Gray, a Brown family attorney, said the Saturday night shooting was unrelated to the Brown case. Belmar also said the officer’s shooting was unrelated to protests surrounding the Brown case.
A grand jury is examining evidence in Brown’s shooting and will determine whether Wilson will face any charges. Some in the community, including Brown’s parents, have called on Ferguson’s police chief to step down. In a video earlier this week, Jackson said to Brown’s family that he was “deeply sorry for their loss.”
Brown’s parents said they were unmoved by Jackson’s apology in an interview with the Associated Press.
Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, said, “yes,” when asked if Chief Tom Jackson should be fired, and his father, Michael Brown Sr., said rather than an apology, they want to see the officer who shot their son arrested for his Aug. 9 death.
“An apology would be when Darren Wilson has handcuffs, processed and charged with murder,” Brown Sr. told the Associated Press.
President Obama, who spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s award dinner Saturday night, addressed the Brown shooting, saying that Brown’s death and the unrest that followed exposed a “gulf of mistrust” between residents and police in many communities.
“Too many young men of color feel targeted by law enforcement — guilty of walking while black or driving while black, judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment and hopelessness,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong things are getting tense. Have y’all kept up with the situation over there?
Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators surrounding Hong Kong government headquarters braced for a showdown with police on Sunday after accelerating a plan to shut down the heart of the global financial hub.
Leaders and supporters of the Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement, many wearing plastic capes and goggles to fend off any police pepper spray attack, urged the public to join the protest to pressure Beijing to allow free elections in the former British colony.
Publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, a key backer of the democratic movement, said he wanted as big a crowd as possible, after a week of student demonstrations, to thwart any crackdown on a protest branded as illegal.
“The more Hong Kong citizens come, the more unlikely the police can clear up the place,” said Lai, also wearing a plastic cape and workmen’s protective glasses.
“I believe more Hong Kong citizens will show up later on Sunday.”
HONG KONG, Sept 28 (Reuters) – Violent clashes between Hong Kong riot police and students galvanized tens of thousands of supporters for the city’s pro-democracy movement and kick-started a plan to lock down the heart of the Asian financial center early on Sunday.
Leaders and supporters of Occupy Central with Love and Peace rallied to support students who were doused with pepper spray early on Saturday after they broke through police barriers and stormed the city’s government headquarters.
“Whoever loves Hong Kong should come and join us. This is for Hong Kong’s future,” publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, an outspoken critic of China’s communist government who has backed pro-democracy activists through publications that include one of the city’s biggest newspapers as well as donations, told Reuters.
Occupy demanded that Beijing withdraw its framework for political reform in the former British colony and resume talks.
Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a formula known as “one country, two systems.” that guaranteed a high degree of autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China. Universal suffrage was set as an eventual goal.
But Beijing last month rejected demands for people to freely choose the city’s next leader, prompting threats from activists to shut down Central, Hong Kong’s financial district. China wants to limit elections to a handful of candidates loyal to Beijing.
Look at this photo of the protest:
This demonstration, which has drawn thousands of protesters armed with goggles, masks and raincoats in preparation for a violent confrontation with police, is one of the most tenacious acts of civil disobedience seen in post-colonial Hong Kong.
Roads in a square block around the city’s government headquarters, located in the Admiralty district adjacent to Central, were filled with people and blocked with metal barricades erected by protesters to defend against a possible police crackdown.
Some of Hong Kong’s most powerful tycoons have spoken out against the Occupy movement, warning it could threaten the city’s business and economic stability.
The latest protests escalated after demonstrators broke through a cordon late on Friday and scaled perimeter fences to invade the city’s main government compound in the culmination of a week-long rally to demand free elections.
Student leaders said about 80,000 people participated in the rally. No independent estimate was available.
Read lots more at the link.
A little more world news: Losing the Race Against Ebola – NYTimes.com
The race to control the expanding Ebola epidemic in West Africa looks increasingly dire. Official projections of how fast the virus will spread have soared while pledges of help from advanced nations and global organizations have failed to keep pace.
On Sept. 22, the World Health Organization published estimates indicating that the epidemic could infect more than 20,000 people in the three hardest hit countries — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — by early November, months before earlier estimates. Unless new measures can turn the tide, the number of cases and deaths could increase by thousands per week for months to come. It is possible that the virus will become permanently lodged in the West African population, posing a continuing threat of dispersal to the rest of Africa and other parts of the world.
On Sept 23, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta issued in a worst-case projection, based on computer models, showing that Sierra Leone and Liberia may have 1.4 million cases by Jan. 20 if the disease keeps spreading without effective containment. A best-case scenario showed that the epidemic could be brought to an end if 70 percent of the patients were treated in settings like isolation wards that reduce the risk of disease transmission and if burials were performed safely. Currently, only about 18 percent of the patients in Liberia and 40 percent in Sierra Leone are in such settings.
I posted a link about Cuba sending hundreds of doctors to Africa, I wanted to front page it here: Cuba sends 300 more doctors to fight Ebola – Africa – Al Jazeera English
Cuba says it will send nearly 300 more doctors and nurses to West Africa to help fight the Ebola epidemic.
The Cubans will work in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, Regla Angulo, head of the Cuban medical relief agency, said in a statement on Friday.
The announcement means that up to 461 Cuban medical personnel would have been sent to help address the epidemic spreading across West Africa.
Angulo said the staff were currently undergoing intense training ahead of their deployment, working in a mock field hospital of the kind they expected to find in the region.
A group of 165 healthcare workers is due to arrive in Sierra Leone in early October. The 62 doctors and 103 nurses have been training for their mission with international experts at a Havana hospital specializing in tropical diseases.
The second contingent of 296 doctors and nurses will head to Liberia and Guinea, the official news agency Prensa Latina said on Friday.
Cuba has more than 50,000 doctors and nurses posted in 66 countries around the world, including more than 4,000 in 32 African countries.
The overseas missions are part of a medical diplomacy and a leading export earner for the communist government. Cuba also educates foreign doctors for free at one of its medical schools.
Heading over to Vatican City, the latest details from an arrested Catholic’s Archbishop are making headlines: Arrested Catholic Archbishop’s computer contained over 100,000 images of children
Yeah, you read that right!
Vatican detectives analyzing a computer used a by an archbishop arrested earlier this week discovered over 86,000 pornographic photos and 160 sexually explicit video files of children, reports the International Business Times.
According to investigators, another 45,000 pictures had been deleted.
Former Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, 66, was arrested at the Vatican earlier this week on charges that he paid to have sex with minors when he was a papal ambassador in the Dominican Republic from 2008 to 2012.
Wesolowski is the first Vatican official to be arrested within the city state on charges of pedophilia.
The former archbishop was recalled to Rome by the Vatican last year while still a diplomat in Santo Domingo and relieved of his duties following accusations from Dominican media that he was paying for underaged sex partners.
Until earlier this week, he had been free to roam Rome, but is now being held in in a small room in the basement of the Collegio dei Penitenzieri, which hosts the Vatican’s court and military police.
Vatican authorities are now investigating if Wesolowski was part of a network of pedophiles and whether he abused children in other posts during his career.
Wesolowski previously served in South Africa, Costa Rica, Japan, Switzerland, India and Denmark.
If convicted, Wesolowski faces 12 years in jail in the first trial for sexual abuse to be held inside the Vatican City.
12 years? That is it? I have nothing to say…because if I start, I won’t get to the rest of the day’s links. As it is…Pope Francis revisits ‘punishing’ Catholics who get divorced . Pfffft! Divorce? Now that is a real crime.
This next article discusses a new form of male birth control, and how the Big Pharma may get their knuts in a knot because it will cut into the Pill profits. Male Birth Control, Without Condoms, Will Be Here by 2017 – The Daily Beast
Vasalgel, a reversible, non-hormonal polymer that blocks the vas deferens, is about to enter human trials. How will rhetoric change when male bodies become responsible for birth control?
Vasalgel, a reversible form of male birth control, just took one step closer to your vas deferens.According to a press release from the Parsemus Foundation, a not-for profit organization focused on developing low-cost medical approaches, Vasalgel is proving effective in a baboon study. Three lucky male baboons were injected with Vasalgel and given unrestricted sexual access to 10 to 15 female baboons each. Despite the fact that they have been monkeying around for six months now, no female baboons have been impregnated. With the success of this animal study and new funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Parsemus Foundation is planning to start human trials for Vasalgel next year. According to their FAQ page, they hope to see it on the market by 2017 for, in their words, less than the cost of a flat-screen television.So how does Vasalgel work? It is essentially a reimagining of a medical technology called RISUG (reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance) that was developed by a doctor named Sujoy Guha over 15 years ago in India, where it has been in clinical trials ever since. Unlike most forms of female birth control, Vasalgel is non-hormonal and only requires a single treatment in order to be effective for an extended period of time. Rather than cutting the vas deferens—as would be done in a vasectomy—a Vasalgel procedure involves the injection of a polymer contraceptive directly into the vas deferens. This polymer will then block any sperm that attempt to pass through the tube. At any point, however, the polymer can be flushed out with a second injection if a man wishes to bring his sperm back up to speed.
Hot diggity dog…finally!
Does this still go against the Church I wonder? (Yeah…of course. Damn. Yet another thing to be punished for…but is it a worse sin than say, kiddie porn on a computer?)
Since we are on the subject of Dicks…Breitbart Writer: Men Who Support Feminism Are “Sexually Frustrated Dickless Wonders” – Little Green Footballs You will just have to go to the link yourself to find out what LGF is talking about. 😉
Not to be outdone…yes, I am still on the “Church’s” ass a little while longer. Stephen Hawking comes out: ‘I’m an atheist’ because science is ‘more convincing’ than God
Stephen Hawking clarified this week that he was an atheist because science had provided him with a “more convincing” explanation of the origins of the universe.
El Mundo’s Pablo Jauregui pointed out that Hawking had written in his book “A Brief History of Time” that scientists could “know the mind of God” if a unifying set of principles — or theory of everything — was discovered to explain the physical universe. But Hawking later wrote in “The Grand Design” that God was no longer necessary because science had provided a better understanding of the universe.
“Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe,” the world-famous theoretical physicist told Jauregui. “But now science offers a more convincing explanation.”
“What I meant by ‘we would know the mind of God’ is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn’t,” he added. “I’m an atheist.”
But Hawking does believe that humans are not alone in the universe, and that meeting extraterrestrial life could be like Christopher Columbus coming to the Americas.
“Which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans,” he warned.
“The idea that we are alone in the universe seems to me completely implausible and arrogant,” Hawking told the paper. “Considering the number of planets and stars that we know exist, it’s extremely unlikely that we are the only form of evolved life.”
Video at the link.
This thread is getting long, so here are the rest of today’s stories on the quick:
“Michele Bachmann took the stage at the Values Voters Summit today, and fired up the crowd with shots at President Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as a firm call for the U.S. to keep killing ISIS terrorists until they surrender.
Bachmann cracked a few jokes at the top, including a dig at MSNBC and a wonder of whether Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner would miss her more.
She talked up her strong stand against the Obama administration, especially on foreign policy. Bachmann said Obama is “the first anti-Israel president in history.” And as for Clinton, Bachmann recommended another goal for the former Secretary of State to accomplish: “permanent retirement!”
Bachmann also talked about how to combat the threat of ISIS.”* Ben Mankiewicz, Jimmy Dore (The Jimmy Dore Show), John Iadarola (TYT University) and Brian Unger break it down.
You may have seen the shit going on in Texas earlier in the month: Don’t Mess With Texas History | BobCesca.com
The imagined slight of an Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum that is “anti-American” has swept the state of Texas and the state Board of Education has taken steps to eliminate it.
From the Associated Press
The Board of Education approved a measure declaring that the history curriculum its members set trumps that covered by the AP history course created for classrooms nationwide. That class concludes with an exam that can earn college credit for students who score high enough.
The board must still take a final vote, but the measure’s content isn’t expected to change.
Critics contend that the revised Advanced Placement curriculum is anti-American because it has narrowed the amount of content students are required to memorize but, rather than omit events that paint America in a less-sympathetic light, it excluded events that are more endearing.
In other words, critics contend that it’s anti-American because it does not whitewash our history.
the Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum because it was “anti-American,” has spread to the Denver, Colorado area where the local school board is following suit.
The Jefferson County school board appears to be going a step further, however, by dropping negative events in our history and discouraging civil disobedience.
According to the curricula proposal, students would only be taught lessons depicting American heritage in a positive light, and effectively ban any material that could lead to dissent. Under the proposed policy, a review committee would regularly read instructional text and course syllabi to ensure that educational materials do not stray from subject matter that complies with the policy.
There was also protest in Colorado last week: CO Students Walk Out To Protest Wingnut Plan To Censor History Curriculum | Crooks and Liars
Be sure to read all those links in full to get the whole story. The Koch Brother’s are involved. Nuff said.
Since the protest is about History, how about some links that deal with history…okay, it isn’t American History, but one of the links deals with uprisings.
In the eyes of the chroniclers, the Jacquerie of 1358 was the most important peasant revolt in late medieval France. Yet despite this, the uprising has not generated the quality of scholarship that other revolts from the late medieval period have encouraged, such as the Ciompi of 1378 in Florence or the English Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. In popular perception, the Jacquerie remains a violent spasmodic riot typical of the so-called ‘pre-industrial revolt’, itself a model forwarded thirty years ago and never rigourously examined.
By surveying the remissions systematically, and returning to the full population of documents available, this thesis offers ‘a wholly new view of the revolt its leadership, its geographical dimensions, duration, organisation and ideology. Moreover, it challenges many old theories about the medieval ‘crowd’ as mindless, doomed to failure and dominated by the clergy and other elites. In their place, it constructs a new model around communal ties in the medieval village, sophisticated organisation within the revolt itself and participants’ identities as the defining factor of the crowd’s ideology.
Until recently, studies in the architectural history of medieval and early modern Europe have assumed an all-male labor force on the construction site and in the related building trades. Historical chronicles and manuscript illuminations of construction sites support this notion, purporting the total exclusion of women from this complex industry. This chapter demonstrates the true nature of women’s contribution to construction sites from the 13th to the 17th centuries in western Europe, uncovering a wide range of occupations in which they engaged: poor women hired for manual labor, women working as slaves, women working with their husbands and fathers in the building trades, widows continuing the workshops of their deceased husbands, and women supplying building materials for particular sites. There is a history to be told of women’s repeated participation in and subsequent denial from working in the building trades that echoes a theme between towns and across language barriers and indicates a common experience shared by women in this era.
This is an interesting look at copyright law: Copyrights and Property Wrongs — Crooked Timber
This next blog post from Movie Morlocks…damn I wish they would show this film on TCM again: moviemorlocks.com – This is Not a Post About Gone With the Wind.
With all the hoopla and conversation here over the last week regarding Gone With the Wind, I thought it might be fun to take a glance at GWTW’s evil twin, Edgar G. Ulmer’s 1946 The Strange Woman.
It starts in 1945 when 20th Century Fox released a film called Leave Her to Heaven, based on Ben Ames Williams’ novel of the same name. A glorious Technicolor prestige picture with Gene Tierney, Cornell Wilde, and Vincent Price, it was a huge commercial success, nominated for several Oscars of which it won one. In Hollywood, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Bring on the clones!
Go…go and read the rest.
Now the last couple of links, that deal with art and women:
Art history books have a reputation of showcasing dead, white, European males — DWEM — and the (mostly white) women they handpicked as muses. Portrait after portrait reveals a woman’s face through a man’s gaze, casting a rather unsavory light on the tendency of artists to eroticize, objectify or idolize the female form.
Artists in the 21st century have made strides to rectify art history’s mistakes — and critics and historians have begun to give women artists and artists of color their rightful place in the canon. But it’s difficult to forget the centuries of whitewashed paintings that still reign supreme. Case in point: artFido’s three-minute survey of 500 years of female portraits.
Names like Leonardo, Raphael, Hans, Peter, Pablo and Edouard dominate the list of featured paintings. Sure, the likes of Mary Cassatt and Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun attempt to break up the monotony, but the portrait images expose the real story. Art history just didn’t really evolve in the last 500 years.
You can catch a bit of change in the last 30 seconds of the video above, as the (still very white) faces become more and more abstract. But the takeaway from this montage: the art world needs more diversity, and quick.
Well, the title is a bit strange…but the work of these women is amazing. Some of them are way more incredible than Banksy. The print up top called Own Your Power is by an artist name Indie. I bought that print for my daughter Bebe on her 16th birthday, it just said so much…
Indie was chosen by MAC as one of the graffiti artist to design a collection for them in 2013.
MAC’s 2013 Illustrated collection features the work of graffiti artist Indie 184. Born in Puerto Rico to Dominican parents and raised in New York, her style combines vivid colors with a contemporary take on old-school New York City graffiti. Her indomitable spirit is fittingly expressed in her tag, a riff on the movie adventurer Indiana Jones, while 184 comes from the street she grew up on in Washington Heights.
She seamlessly translates her style from walls to canvas, weaving together images of famous women and phrases that convey their power. In her artist’s statement, she writes, “My creative process usually starts by pouring out conflicting ideas or emotions using words, images and color. When I create a painting, it’s like a page of my personal diary – all the pieces are worlds of personal declarations. Constant use of word play, found scraps of paper, stencil, graffiti, graphics and photographs mixed with vivid colors…I use iconic female imagery provoking mood and expression embellished with dripping paint juxtaposed with words…The composed painting reflects power, motivation and with an undeniable twist of feminism in my paintings.” The feminist angle, I believe, comes partially from her struggle to be fully accepted as a genuine graffiti artist in a male-dominated environment. She says in an interview, “[A]s I got more into the culture, I learned that NYC in the 80’s produced few active girls in graf. So any new girl in the scene would stand out. But of course, that did not mean free rides. I had to push harder to get down on walls. Most male writers don’t take females writers, especially new ones, seriously. I did not want to stand out only because I was a female writer. I wanted to make my mark and represent for myself. Even now, on occasions, when I’m painting in the streets, some guy comes along and acts surprised when he sees me working with spray paint.”
The titles for some of these paintings – Powerful Creation, Call the Shots, Fearless, Knock ’em Out and Own Your Power, combined with Indie’s signature hearts and stars – further drive home the idea of feminine strength. Some of her work is also a tribute to Latina women and a demonstration of allegiance to her cultural heritage, as she references figures such as Frieda Kahlo, Jennifer Lopez and Marquita Rivera.
Call the Shots, 2012 (I love the nod to Warhol represented by the soup cans):
Powerful Creation, 2012:
Knock ’em Out, 2012:
Own Your Power, 2013:
(images from indie184.com)
Looking at the dizzying array of flashy colors, it’s no surprise to find that Indie’s heroines include Jem and Rainbow Brite. I also find her work to be a true expression of her outspoken, feisty personality and thoroughly unselfconscious attitude. In an interview regarding her recently launched clothing line named Kweenz Destroy, she states, “Kweenz Destroy is for ladies who hold their own and make an impact with what they do. They love to get their hands dirty and don’t give a shit what people have to say…I don’t feel like I have anything to prove to anyone…I am fulfilling my own desires, not living other people’s ideal of what a graffiti writer should be, because at the end of the day people are going to talk shit regardless.”
Overall, I like Indie’s work – it’s brash, highly personal and has an exuberance and freshness to it while remaining forceful.
I love it…I hope you all do too!
Have a great Sunday and leave some thoughts in the comments below.
Oh Yeah…I almost forgot!
And my favorite:
Godspeed little Charlotte.
For the last few days I have had the song Aqua Lung stuck in my head…now lets see if it will pass on to you.
Lots and lots of cartoons for tonight!
In no particular order….but most of the ones at the top of the list are from today or yesterday.
This next one is one of my favorites:
This is all for tonight, it’s an open thread.