Thursday Reads: Happy New Year!!

Sydney 2015

Sydney 2015

Good Morning!!

New Year’s Celebrations Around the World

Berlin 2015

Berlin 2015


Hong Kong 2015

Hong Kong 2015


London 2015

London 2015


Moscow 2015

Moscow 2015


New York 2015

New York 2015


Paris 2015

Paris 2015








The Latest News

Sadly, the New Year’s celebration in Shanghai was marred by a terrible tragedy.

From Xinhuanet, China:

SHANGHAI, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) — The death toll of a fatal stampede during New Year celebrations late Wednesday in Shanghai rose to 36 as of Thursday afternoon, local authorities said.

Seven injured have checked out of hospital. Among the 40 injured being treated in local hosptals, 13 are suffering from serious injuries, the municipal government said.

The tragedy happened at a crowded square in Shanghai’s gleaming Bund area at around 11:35 p.m. There were 25 women among the deceased whose ages ranged from 16 to 36, said the authorities of Shanghai, a metropolis that is home to a population of over 23 million….

Survivors described the stampede as “horrific and hellish.”

Some said they were standing on the steps adjoining the major road and the sightseeing platform when the deadly incident happened.

“The steps leading to the platform were full of people. Some wanted to get down and some wanted to go up,” said a witness who gave her surname as Yin. “We were caught in the middle and saw some girls falling while screaming. Then people started to fall down, row by row.”

The woman said she covered two kids in front of her with her arms in the chaos. Her son followed her.

“When we brought him out of the crowd, his forehead was bruised, he had two deep creased scars on his neck, and his mouth and nose were bleeding,” said the mother.

Dirty shoe prints covered her son’s clothes when the 12-year-old boy came to safety.

“The crowd was in a panic. We stood in the crowd, feeling squeezed and almost out of breath,” another witness, surnamed Yu, said. “Some yelled for help, but the noise was too loud.”

Other survivors said police rushed to the scene and tried to pull out people who were stuck, but without much success.

“The chaos lasted several minutes, then some of the injured were seen being carried out of the crowd,” Yu said.

Security personnel and police officers at a Shanghai hospital where victims were treated on New Year's Day (Reuters)

Security personnel and police officers at a Shanghai hospital where victims were treated on New Year’s Day (Reuters)

From the Independent, China New Year’s Eve crush: At least 36 killed and 47 injured in Shanghai stampede.

State media and witnesses have said the incident at Chen Yi Square was at least partly caused when people scrambled for coupons that looked like dollar bills that were being thrown out of the window of a bar on the third floor of a building overlooking the Bund.

A man who brought one of the injured to a local hospital said the fake money had been thrown down from the bar as part of New Year’ Eve celebrations, which he claims triggered the stampede. But Shanghai police could not confirm the cause of the tragedy and have asked people to be patient, according to state television.

Many of the dead and injured were students, and 28 of the dead were women, state media reported.

The trouble is believed to have broken out about half an hour before midnight. Pictures published by Xinhua and on social media outlets showed several people lying on the floor with rescuers attempting to revive the injured as police tried to restore order.

In Boston, protesters staged a “die-in” at the beginning of First Night festivities.

BOSTON (WHDH) –As Boston’s First Night activities began Wednesday afternoon, so did demonstrations by people protesting racism and police brutality.

The protesters started gathering at 2:30 p.m. on the steps of Boston Public Library.

Protesters said they heard calls from Mayor Marty Walsh and Police Commissioner William Evans asking them not to disrupt the family event.

But, they said, the protests aren’t a disruption. They are just an extension of the other family events around the city.

“When kids see people dying in in the middle of the square maybe they’ll ask their parents ‘why is America like this?’” Martin Henson said.

“When the police officers respect black lives and respect us, and we don’t get killed because things are happening because we have children and we have brothers and sisters, that’s when this will stop,” Courtney Hambrick said.

A die-in happened in Copley Square right in front of the library at 5 p.m. Nearly 100 protesters participated while a large crowd gathered to watch.

See tweets and more photos from the protest at

In St. Louis, Protesters present[ed an] “Eviction Notice” to St. Louis Police.

ST. LOUIS ( – A group of approximately 75 marched throughout downtown St. Louis Wednesday before gathering outside of Police Headquarters.

The protesters posted an “Eviction Notice” on the door of the headquarters which listed reasons that “Chief Sam Dotson and all other occupiers of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department” would be “removed from power.”

News 4’s Russell Kinsaul was at the headquarters and said there was a line of police officers outside the front door preventing people from entering the building. He said the officers used pepper spray when the protesters attempted to enter the building.

Protesters said they would be at the headquarters for about four hours to represent the hours that Michael Brown’s body lay in the street.


According to The Daily Beast, NYPD officers are staging their own protest against public criticism of police officers shooting and killing black men: Ground Zero of the NYPD Slowdown.

The end of 2014 in New York City has felt like the end of days. The last week of the year was marked by strained relations between Mayor Bill DeBlasio and the rank and file of the NYPD following the shooting of two officers: Rafael Ramos and Wejian Liu, shootings blamed by President of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, on the Mayor’s response to the Eric Garner protests.

In the wake of this turmoil, the New York Post reported that the police had stopped policing. In the week starting Dec. 22, arrests were down 66 percentcompared to the same week in 2013. According to the Post, citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587. Summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination fell 94 percent—from 4,831 to 300. And drug arrests dropped by 84 percent, from 382 to 63.

The numbers reinforce another article in the Post, in which cops confessed to “turning a blind eye” to minor crimes. An NYPD supervisor told the Post, “My guys are writing almost no summonses, and probably only making arrests when they have to—like when a store catches a shoplifter.” In the later article, the Postquotes the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which warned its members to put their safety first and not make arrests “unless absolutely necessary.”

On Wednesday afternoon in the predominantly black Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, many had noticed the police slowdown. A car mechanic who goes by the name “Big Perm” said he noticed a change in the neighborhood. “They just walk around, they ride in their patrol cars, and they just pass by,” he said. He does not approve of the police slow down, like most people I spoke to. Big Perm worries that the lack of policing the “small fry” will lead to more crimes by “big fry.” In the meantime, he is keeping his children at home.

A young man who wouldn’t give his name also noticed the police slowdown over the past week in a neighborhood he says is usually teeming with police activity. “I see the streets are different, they have a different look to them. I’m not seeing the police like I usually see them,” he said. But he said the streets are calmer, too. “More police makes it crazy. If they see me and my friend having a conversation, and my cousin comes down the street, it’s a problem. I just try to keep out their way most of the time.”

David Duke campaigning in 1991

David Duke campaigning in 1991

The Steve Scalise story is still in the news, but it doesn’t appear that The Louisiana Congressman will be resigning his Majority Whip post anytime soon. Perhaps that is because, as the New York Times reports, David Duke’s ideas now represent mainstream attitudes in the Republican Party.

From NPR: 6 Reasons Steve Scalise Will Survive His Speech Scandal.

Unless further evidence emerges of liaisons with the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO, Scalise will take his oath next week for the 114th Congress as the No. 3 leader of the chamber’s GOP — the party’s largest majority since 1928.

That was the message tucked into the bouquet of supporting statements Scalise received Tuesday from Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other prominent Republicans….

Scolded and scalded, Scalise was still standing.

Suffice it to say that the whip’s protestations of innocence about EURO and its views have strained credulity, both in Washington and in Louisiana. EURO was co-founded in the 1990s by David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader and American Nazi. Duke at that time had run for governor and for the U.S. Senate as an insurgent Republican, doing well enough in both cases to distress the national GOP and attract news attention from around the world.

That’s pretty shocking, but I guess it shouldn’t be. Republicans have become the party of ignorance, racism, sexism, and nativism.

North notes that the Republican record on race has become so awful that Scalise actually suggested that speaking to David Duke’s was no different than talking to the League of Women Voters.

A WHITE supremacist organization is not akin to the League of Women Voters. That should be obvious to anyone, let alone the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives. But it was not to Steve Scalise of Louisiana back in 2002 or even this week.

The House majority whip is dealing with the backlash over the revelation that in 2002 he addressed the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO, an organization founded by David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader. Scalise claims he had no idea about the group’s ideology; he was a state politician at the time, understaffed, and he would talk to anyone about tax policy.

While that is hard to accept, given the very high profile of Duke in Louisiana, even if taken at face value, the congressman’s comments to the Times-Picayune earlier this week, when he tried to defend himself, show a lack of understanding about racial divisions in the United States.

“I spoke to the League of Women Voters, a pretty liberal group. … I still went and spoke to them. I spoke to any group that called, and there were a lot of groups calling,” he offered in his defense. The League of Women Voters wants citizens to get out and vote; in what definition of “democracy” does encouraging voter participation become “pretty liberal”?

The League of Women Voters is completely nonpartisan and welcomes both Republican and Democrats to its membership.

Tom Brady

How valuable is Tom Brady to the New England Patriots? The Sporting News reports: Tom Brady takes one for the team, helps Patriots remain perennial contenders.

On Sunday, Tom Brady earned $24 million in future contract guarantees with the Patriots. On Monday he volunteered to eliminate those guarantees in return for an extra $1 million in salary each year to help his team pay for players in free agency.

The reason for the contract restructure is to allow the Patriots to avoid having to place his $24 million in salary, which would be earned from 2015 through 2017, in escrow early in the the 2015 League Year. Salary that is guaranteed at the start of the year for skill must be funded in entirety by the team, meaning the Patriots would have had to set aside $24 million for future payments. Once those skill guarantees are eliminated so is the need to set aside the money in advance. This is a common reason teams use vesting guarantees when signing a contract.

Brady has been a dream come true for the Patriots and their ability to remain competitive, not just on the field but off it. Brady’s $8 million salary and $14 million cap charge in 2015 rank just 17th in the NFL. Meanwhile his closest contemporaries of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tony Romo will carry cap charges of $21.5, $26.4, and $27.7 million and actual salaries of $19, $19 and $17 million. He is a unique talent and team player the likes of which we many never see again.

Brady has been giving his team hometown discounts ever since his first Super Bowl win in 2002, in stark contrast to so many greedy professional athletes.

More News Headlines

The Hill, Pope Francis drives a wedge between Catholic Church, GOP

Jameis Wilson will suffer no consequences for raping a fellow college student in 2012.

The Daily Beast: Jameis Winston Cleared of Rape Like Every Other College Sports Star, even though the hearing that cleared him was a pathetic joke.


Here’s an excellent piece on the reality of “false accusations” of rape from Autostraddle.

Rebel Girls: Our “False Rape” Hysteria is Bullsh*t

Wired, Over 80 Percent of Dark-Web Visits Relate to Pedophilia, Study Finds.

Bostino, Harvard Law Found in Violation of Title IX; Agrees to Remedy its Sexual Assault Policy.

Oregon Live, Why the backlash against Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’ was so extreme.

PBS News Hour, Why are snowy owls moving so far from their Arctic home? And where can I spot one?

Marketwatch, You can put the next stock-market crash on your 2016 calendar now.

Christian Science Monitor, Judge rules that Boston Marathon bombing trial will begin Monday.

Forbes, Are Monarch Butterflies Endangered? Population Down Ninety Percent.

What else is happening? Have a great New Year’s Day, Sky Dancers!!

17 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Happy New Year!!”

  1. joanelle says:

    I love this post, it’s a smattering, a summary of many of the stories that hit us but that we weren’t always aware of being hit. I read the Goldfinch last year, I should say I slogged through it. I kept waiting to find what everyone found so interesting, and in the end I found nothing. But then I also read unbroken, the Invention of Wings, the Orphan Train, Boys in the Boat and Garden of the Beasts, finding all of them compellingly interesting. Of course all but the Orphan Train were nonfiction.

    • Beata says:

      I’m with you, Joanelle. I tried to read “The Goldfinch” but couldn’t get into it. I found it uninteresting. Ended up giving it to a friend who loved it. Several other friends told me they loved it, too. So different strokes for different folks. If everyone’s literary tastes were the same, it would be a boring world indeed. I’m just glad that people continue to read something other than Twitter.

      Happy 2015 to everyone here. May you all find many books to enjoy this year!

  2. NW Luna says:

    Happy New Year to all SkyDancers!

  3. NW Luna says:

    David Duke’s ideas now represent mainstream attitudes in the Republican Party.

    We can only hope that voters slowly start to wake up in 2015.

    Meanwhile, in wing-nut country:

    Concealed weapons are part of everyday life in Idaho, and that’s unlikely to change in the Mountain West state despite a shocking accident in which a 2-year-old boy reached into his mother’s purse, grabbed her gun and shot her in the head inside a Wal-Mart. Guns were a big part of Rutledge’s life.

    “She was not the least bit irresponsible,” her father-in-law, Terry Rutledge said, in a brief interview with The Associated Press. He complained about people using the incident to attack his daughter-in-law.

    Terry Rutledge told The Washington Post that Veronica Rutledge and her husband practiced at shooting ranges and each had a concealed weapons permit. He said for Christmas this year, her husband gave her the purse with a special zippered pocket for a concealed weapon. ….

    Veronica Rutledge lived in Blackfoot, in southeastern Idaho, and her family had come to the Hayden area to visit relatives for Christmas. She was an employee of the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls, Idaho, where she was a nuclear scientist. The laboratory supports the U.S. Department of Energy in nuclear and energy research and national defense.

    How sweet, a special concealed-gun handbag present, so guns could be a big part of her life — and her death. How certainly not irresponsible to have a loaded gun for the toddler to play with. I sure hope she “was not the least bit irresponsible” about her work as a nuclear scientist.

  4. joanelle says:

    Indeed, I all my fellow Skydancers a joyful, healthful and abundant new year. And a big thank you to our front pagers for keeping us on top of what’s really important. Great job!!!

    • Beata says:

      Ditto! The front pagers do a fantastic job throughout the year. Bravo!

    • ANonOMouse says:

      The best front pagers in the blogosphere. Thanks to each of them. And a Happy New Year to all SkyDancers.

  5. Fannie says:

    Here’s the trash talking to the Klandom when he was making his presidential bid: “I think the time has come in America to limit and stop the illegal immigration in our society. We got to protect our values and begin to realize that we’re a Christian Society. We’re part of the Western Christian civilization.” He got a shitload of voters for saying that. Next in the Game of Klandom, “We are good white Christian people hard working people for a White America. When one of your wives gets raped by a n……., maybe you’ll get smart and join the klan.” That was back in 1970’s.

    “David Duke is extraordinarily clever in manipulating the media, he being given a platform all over this country.” That was said 2003 Christianity, and 9/11 has certainly helped him gather up huge numbers of people, who can pay membership fees, and white statin sheet fees. They have enough money now to exist for the next 150 years.

  6. Sweet Sue says:

    Mario Coumo has died. I loved him; he gave the greatest Convention speech I’ve ever heard.

  7. Fannie says:

    What a freakin’ mess………here in the klandom of the potatoe heads. The judge had to throw it out.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Idaho is also having a “wolf derby” today.

      BOISE — A hunting derby with $1,000 each for whoever kills the most wolves and coyotes is scheduled to start at sunrise Friday in east-central Idaho.

      Idaho for Wildlife’s three-day Predator Hunting Contest and Fur Rendezvous is planned on private ranch land and U.S. Forest Service land around Salmon.

      The U.S. Bureau of Land Management in November withdrew a permit it had issued to the group following lawsuits by environmental groups.

      Derby organizer Steve Alder says hunters will likely use BLM land anyway but animals killed there won’t be eligible for contest prizes.

      • Fannie says:

        I’ve been following this, and they aren’t suppose to be on BLM land, but looks like the game is on, because they are the powerful “law breakers”……………..pretty much like those in the Klandom.