Thursday Reads: Corporate Media Enables Victim Blaming in Death of Freddie Gray

View of East Baltimore from Amtrak train (credit Dave Troy http://davetroy.com/posts/from-the-train-baltimore-looks-like-hell

View of East Baltimore from Amtrak train (credit Dave Troy http://davetroy.com/posts/from-the-train-baltimore-looks-like-hell)

Good Morning!!

The victim-blaming flew thick and fast last night after The Washington Post published a self-serving leak from an anonymous Baltimore murderer policeman. According to the Post report, Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord, crushed his own voice box and gave himself severe brain injuries in order to get back at the cops who beat him, dragged him to a police van as he screamed in agony and left him unbelted during a long “rough ride” to the police station.

From the WaPo story:

A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.

The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.

The document, written by a Baltimore police investigator, offers the first glimpse of what might have happened inside the van. It is not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner’s version, which is just one piece of a much larger probe.

Gray was found unconscious in the wagon when it arrived at a police station on April 12. The 25-year-old had suffered a spinal injury and died a week later, touching off waves of protests across Baltimore, capped by a riot Monday in which hundreds of angry residents torched buildings, looted stores and pelted police officers with rocks.

Abandoned row houses, Perlman Place, Baltimore

Abandoned row houses, Perlman Place, Baltimore

That solves that mystery then, right?

Um . . . . no. That tall tale is just likely to inflame more anger and protests.

Watch this CNN video of the Freddie Gray arrest posted at Slate if you can handle it. It shows police lifting and pushing Gray into the van because he can’t move at least one of his legs. Several times Gray screams in agony as police lift him into the van and leave him unbelted despite his injuries.

A second bystander-filmed video of Freddie Gray’s April 12 arrest in Baltimore—after which he was hospitalized and died—appears to show Gray in substantial pain before being put into a police vehicle.

Initial video of Gray’s arrest also appeared to depict him in pain as an onlooker shouted that Gray’s leg was broken….both videos—and witness reports that Gray was struck and “bent up” by the officers who arrested him—seem to suggest the possibility that he was injured before being put into the van.

Have I told you lately how much I despise the Washington Post? At least they did publish this piece by Michael E. Miller this morning:

Those stories that Freddie Gray had a pre-existing spinal injury are totally bogus.

One thing is certain…Freddie Gray did not have a pre-existing spinal injury.

Yet, that was the story circulating on a handful of conservative Web sites Tuesday. In an “exclusive” quoting anonymous sources, the Web site The Fourth Estate reported that “Freddie Gray’s life-ending injuries to his spine may have possibly been the result of spinal and neck surgery that he allegedly received a week before he was arrested, not from rough [sic] excessively rough treatment or abuse from police.” The site claimed his injury was from a car accident….

“If this is true, then it is possible that Gray’s spinal injury resulting from his encounter with the Baltimore Police was not the result of rough-handling or abuse, but rather a freak accident that occurred when Gray should have been at home resting, not selling drugs,” the site reported right above images of documents pertaining to a civil lawsuit involving Gray by his vehicle accident lawyer.

“The police didn’t mistreat him at all; he mistreated himself,” the report concluded.

Abandoned row houses in Baltimore

Abandoned row houses in Baltimore

A$$holes.

But the images on the Fourth Estate actually relate to Gray’s lead paint lawsuit, the Baltimore Sun revealed. An attorney representing the Gray family confirmed that the case concerned lead paint, not a spinal cord injury a week before Freddie Gray’s arrest.

“We have no information or evidence at this point to indicate that there is a prior pre-existing spinal injury,” said Jason Downs, an attorney representing one of Gray’s relatives, told the Sun. “It’s a rumor.”

And yet that rumor might have caused real damage in a country already polarized on the subject of race and the police. The story quickly spread to several other Web sites, such as Free Republic and the Conservative Tree House, which called Gray’s supposedly pre-existing injury “a potential game changing discovery. A site called New York City Guns ran the headline “Dead Baltimore Drug Dealer Had Spinal Surgery DAYS Before He Collapsed in Police Van (Rioters Say ‘OOPS’).”

F**king a$$holes! I’m so sick of this garbage from so-called “conservatives.”

From this morning’s Baltimore Sun: The truth about Freddie Gray’s ‘pre-existing injury from car accident.’

Paperwork was filed in December allowing Gray and his sister, Fredericka to each collect an $18,000 payment from Peachtree Settlement Funding, records show. In exchange, Peachtree would have received a $108,439 annuity that was scheduled to be paid in $602 monthly installments between 2024 and 2039.

In her documents, Fredericka Gray checked “other” when asked to describe the type of accident. She also said that the date of the accident was “94/99” and that she was a minor when the case was settled.

In his documents, Freddie Gray checked “work injury, medical malpractice and auto accident” as the type of accident. When asked to explain, he also wrote something that is unreadable. He also wrote something unreadable when asked if he was a minor when the case was settled.

Baltimore, Md -- 12/2/11 -- The rear of a vacant house, marked with

Baltimore, Md — 12/2/11 — The rear of a vacant house, marked with “X” on the left, where a 13-year-old girl was raped in October. The house at 825 N. Caroline was owned by the city for years and last year the city transferred it through a swap with a developer. Kim Hairston [The Baltimore Sun ]

Experts such as Baizer Kolar P.C. as well as Gray’s attorney says there is no evidence he had any kind of preexisting injury and there was no car accident.

As children, Gray and his two sisters were found to have damaging lead levels in their blood, which led to educational, behavioral and medical problems, according to a lawsuit they filed in 2008 against the owner of a Sandtown-Winchester home the family rented for four years.

While the property owner countered in the suit that other factors could have contributed to the children’s deficits — including poverty and their mother’s drug use — the case was settled before going to trial in 2010. The terms of the settlement are not public.

Even the Free Republic has now withdrawn their story on the rumors, according to the Sun article. But that won’t stop Fox News and other right wing sources from spreading the lies.

Now two important articles about the real roots of the riots that broke out in Baltimore on Monday.

TPM Cafe:

The Role The Police Played In Sparking The Baltimore Violence, by Lawrence Brown.

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Wednesday Reads: How many generations will it take?

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Good Morning

Just a side note, most of the links today are items I had saved for Sunday. But with the earthquake in Nepal, and then the quick Goodfellas post, I just decided to share them with you today.

Now, on Monday….we had to go to our local Banjoville courthouse to visit the tax office and take care of the car tags. Well, what do you think happened? The damn place was closed.

Why?

Why was it closed?

Because we live in the fucking South were they don’t forget and they hold grudges forever. The kind of grudges that get laws passed so that they make it illegal NOT to celebrate Confederate Memorial Day.

Yup, it is against the law to work on Confederate Memorial Day.

Fiddle-dee-fuck-a-doodle-doo!

Check this out:

6aca4a9a974332a933740383566c75f7Did Confederate Memorial Day close government offices in your state today?

In Cullman County, Alabama, a local government vote stirred up 150 years of angst when Revenue Commissioner Barry Willingham wanted to keep the local courthouse open on Confederate Memorial Day.

For years, on the fourth Monday in April people showed up to the courthouse to buy car tags and fishing licenses, unaware that it was closed for the state holiday, which is officially observed in Alabama, Willingham explained. Businesses, schools and even offices in neighboring counties stay open, Willingham said, so people complained about the local government not doing the same. He understood their frustration.6dbc49700360cad13e24516eff49e985

“It’s not a prominent holiday,” said Willingham, who was born and raised in Cullman County, about 50 miles north of Birmingham. “I don’t think Microsoft adds Confederate Memorial Day to my Outlook.”

Usually, the holiday passes largely unnoticed, even by the local press.

But that didn’t happenthis year. County officials voted to stay open on Confederate Memorial Day and instead close Cullman County’s government doors on Good Friday, a day when there’s less demand for county services. After that vote, people told Willingham and his colleagues that they “ought to be ashamed of dishonoring our Confederate veterans,” he explained.

19b6769e1ada53fbc3880822c9c3e984“It’s still going to be a holiday, ain’t no way we can change that fact,” he said. “We’re just not closing the courthouse.”

Alabama closes its government offices today in observance of Confederate Memorial Day, along with Mississippi and Georgia. On May 10, South Carolina government offices will close in observance of the state holiday.

Of the 11 Southern states that made up the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, few agreed on what date was best for remembrance once the war officially ended in 1865. Shortly after the war was declared over, a group of women in Columbus, Georgia, gathered for the first Confederate Memorial Day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers and rededicate themselves to the memory of those men and the war they fought.4f05602a51012912dd93fc9df4afddc6

I mean, how many generations have to pass before the regular memorial day will do? You know the one that covers all the wars?

Today, dates of state observance are scattered from April to June and are loosely associated with the Confederacy’s surrender to Sherman on April 26, the death of Stonewall Jackson on May 10 or the birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis on June 3. This year, Texas celebrated Confederate Heroes Day on Jan. 19. That also happened to be Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

In Mississippi, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann issued a proclamation to tell state employees and officers they had the day off, in accordance with a 1972 state statute.

cfad9d6ee0e1e3fc1440ced9f325e7d8“I believe observance of Confederate Memorial Day is set by statute,” said Nicole Webb, spokeswoman for Gov. Phil Bryant, referring to the 1972 measure. “Elected lawmakers at that time would have voted on the issue. I know other states also observe it.”

This year, Georgia’s government officials have prioritized Confederate Memorial Day as a state holiday, along with Christmas Day and Thanksgiving. However, there seems to be more reluctance to talk about why the Capitol and state agencies close in observance of the holiday 150 years after the end of the Civil War.

0894d4a52f2eb56654ec455d63ff375dWhen the NewsHour asked Brian Robinson, the communications director for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, via e-mail for comment about why it was important for Georgians to remember Confederate Memorial Day, Robinson simply wrote “no thanks.”

Can you believe this shit? Confederate Memorial day has the same fucking priority as Christmas and Thanksgiving?

I have no words, other than the flowery ones that have been spewed above.

In connection to this:1de77f229700dd8a578fb8f45ef5706c

John Wilkes Booth Loomis Has a Nice Ring to It – Lawyers, Guns & Money

Naming your kids after John Wilkes Booth. Now that takes some hate.

Dozens of Lincoln’s enemies honoured his assassin in the same manner as the Devrees family. A quick search via the Federal census records on the Ancestry website reveals roughly a hundred American families who appear to have named children after Booth in the post-war years. Unsurprisingly, about 90% heralded from the southern states, but a small handful, like the Illinoisans, were northerners – probably ‘Copperhead’ opponents of the 54061f4ea5b194a80da6af8d1e8462dfUnion cause seeking solace in small acts of defiance. Most of the northern Booths came from counties close to slaveholding areas – places where sympathies for the Confederate cause ran deep – and I haven’t found a single instance of a postwar New Englander (citizens of the old antislavery heartland) sharing a name with Lincoln’s killer. Notably, in borderlands like Missouri – where neighbour clashed with neighbour and the Federal government fought to contain dissent – the practice was particularly common. Some of the records leave little to the imagination when it comes to the parents’ political loyalties (John Wilkes Booth Sharp, born in Georgia, circa 1871), but others (Washington Booth Stamton, born in Baltimore, circa 1871) hint at an attempt to induct Booth into a pantheon of American heroes. The true heir to the father of the republic, the latter implied, was the actor-assassin, and not the martyred president.

0b8421a95c2ab20442844cf151ccb3a2These families, in preserving the memory of Lincoln’s killer, were writing a history of the Civil War in which liberty was the victim rather than the victor. As late as the 1890s the odd new-born in the South was given Booth’s name, though the practice seems to have become less common after the restoration of white supremacy in the 1870s. This may be a result of changing enumeration practices, but it might owe something also to the late nineteenth-century “reconciliationist” remembering of the Civil War as a noble struggle between two valiant adversaries, and not as an ideological conflict over slavery, race, and citizenship. The first professional historians writing around the turn of the century cast Lincoln as a magnanimous commander-in-chief whose slaying served as an excuse for the imposition of a supposedly Carthaginian peace on the Confederacy. 718d6f849970fa35e8349bfa3bdf90bbBooth here was no longer the defender of liberty but a man whose rash crime ushered in the phantom horrors of Reconstruction. It might have been unwise to use his name.

Addicting Info – He Shot Two Citizens In 10 Days, And Police Gave This Killer Cop His Own Billboard (IMAGE/VIDEO)

On Baltimore:

Baltimore police commissioner: ‘The city is stable’

But the baseball games are being played in an empty stadium…A Brief History of Pro Sports Played in Empty Stadiums | Mental Floss

On Monday and Tuesday, the Orioles canceled their scheduled games at Camden Yards against the White Sox due to safety concerns related to the protests in Baltimore. But making up games over the course of the long and crowded MLB season schedule is difficult, and so, yesterday, the team announced an unusual solution—one that has never been used in the history of the game. Wednesday’s game at Camden Yards will still be played, but no fans will be permitted to attend. That’s right, the teams will play today in front of an empty stadium—intentionally.

 

 

According to a tweet from MLB’s Official Historian John Thorn, this is the first time such a solution has been used to accommodate extenuating circumstances. But thanks to the wacky promotional tactics employed in the Minor Leagues, it’s not the first zero attendance game.

Overwhelmed by protesters in Baltimore, Maryland governor says it will not happen again – video | US news | The Guardian

edca685e5c2a237538dee580c9d148aeBaltimore vs. Ferguson: This Is What Happens When Police Show Restraint – The Daily Banter

Jon Stewart slams Wolf Blitzer’s ‘shock’ over Baltimore: ‘Ferguson was just a few months ago’

Hours after being called out by a Ferguson activist, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer was the butt of the joke on the Daily Show on Tuesday night, as Jon Stewart hammered him for acting shocked about the unrest in Baltimore.

“Elvis leading a herd of orthodox Jewish unicorns through a city street — that would be hard to believe,” Stewart said. “This sh*t happens all the time. Ferguson was just a few months ago, and you were talking about it.”

212475ef8cb32c7e36728811baab84a6To prove his point, Stewart showed footage of Blitzer acting just as apoplectic over the protests in Ferguson last November.

“I am worried about you,” Stewart said. “Do I need to get [Adam] Sandler to go over to your house and just run sh*t by you every morning?”

Overall, Stewart said, reporters have failed to pick up on the recurring nature of urban protests in the US, with Baltimore and Ferguson taking their place among manifestations of turmoil like Watts, Los Angeles, and Miami, among others.

“These cyclical eruptions appear like tragedy cicadas,” he said. “Depressing in their similarity, predictability, and intractability.”

Which brings me to this image someone posted on Facebook:

11144086_660333364095642_7169293682761099664_n

Tacky yes, but it sure as hell makes a point.

a710050a29d2b36e8de09d162fa4a510Updates on the earthquake:

Kathmandu daily exodus may reach 300,000 as residents flee chaos | World news | The Guardian

Nepal earthquake: Relief starts reaching remote villages – BBC News

The post-earthquake tragedy in Nepal keeps getting worse – Business Insider

Death Toll From Nepal Earthquake Crosses 5,000 as Rescue Teams Begin to Arrive at Remote Villages | TIME

Nepal earthquake: death toll could reach 10,000, says PM | World news | The Guardian

 

All the talk of earthquakes, this article from a couple of weeks ago seemed to be foretelling, even if it was discussing our country. Half the US Faces Earthquake Risk

This hazard map by the U.S. Geological Survey reveals earthquake ground motions for various probability levels across the United States.
This hazard map by the U.S. Geological Survey reveals earthquake ground motions for various probability levels across the United States.
Credit: USGS

PASADENA, Calif. — Earthquakes threaten roughly half the U.S. population, a new study finds.

103dfd95571fc56531829c96d8e68875More than 143 million Americans live in earthquake-prone regions in the Lower 48 states, according to research presented here Wednesday (April 22) at the annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America. If you include Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, that number rises to about 150 million U.S. citizens, said lead researcher Kishor Jaiswal, a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) contractor.

In a previous estimate prepared in 1991, officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said 75 million people in 35 states were at risk of earthquakes.

Now, more people are living in quake-prone areas than a quarter-century ago, Jaiswal said. The USGS has also learned more about earthquake hazards. The nation’s most recent national seismic hazard maps are much more detailed than the 1996 version, Jaiswal said. [Image Gallery: This Millennium’s Destructive Earthquakes]

a0a021930ff1ee47ee5ce47d049fde99You can read more about the risk and see a larger map at the link.

Some information on the horrible situation in the Mediterranean:

No military solution to boat migrant crisis: U.N. chief to paper | Reuters

Captain used gun, stick to keep African migrants in line, authorities say – LA Times

A look at same sex marriage vs. women’s reproductive rights: Why the U.S. Is Going Forward on SSM and Backwards On Reproductive Rights – Lawyers, Guns & Money

Many great points from Pollitt here. Two points are particularly worthy of emphasis. First, the extent to which SSM meshes better with traditionalist conceptions of the family:

8c647155383cafb9c48e1bbc9be82958Marriage equality is about love, romance, commitment, settling down, starting a family. People love love! But marriage equality is also about tying love to family values, expanding a conservative institution that has already lost most of its coercive social power and become optional for millions. (Marriage equality thus follows Pollitt’s law: Outsiders get access when something becomes less valued, which is why women can be art historians and African-Americans win poetry prizes.) Far from posing a threat to marriage, as religious opponents claim, permitting gays to marry gives the institution a much-needed update, even as it presents LGBT people as no threat to the status quo: Instead of promiscuous child molesters and lonely gym teachers, gays and lesbians are your neighbors who buy Pottery Barn furniture and like to barbecue.

c9c5293a2fe2a0024c1a75d9ecdbf0d7Reproductive rights, by contrast, is about sex—sexual freedom, the opposite of marriage—in all its messy, feckless glory. It replaces the image of women as chaste, self-sacrificing mothers dependent on men with that of women as independent, sexual, and maybe not so self-sacrificing. It doesn’t matter that contraception is indispensable to modern life, that abortion antedates the sexual revolution by thousands of years, that plenty of women who have abortions are married, or that most (60 percent) who have abortions are already mothers. Birth control and abortion allow women—and, to a lesser extent, men—to have sex without punishment, a.k.a. responsibility. And our puritanical culture replies: You should pay for that pleasure, you slut.

29bbd4a08f8c3684e1fd28dfef30caaaLemieux quotes other points at the link, so go and take a look.

More on Women’s abortion rights: I am pro-abortion, not just pro-choice: 10 reasons why we must support the procedure and the choice – Salon.com

On the 2016 Election front:

Carlson: Leave The Modern Tribalism Of The Left And You’re Stoned To Death | Crooks and Liars

When a black female decides to “support the candidate who supports the Constitution,” it’s pretty obvious where she’s getting her ideas, especially when that candidate supports the right to discriminate against her. The camaradarie of other young Rand Paul supporters who like the idea of the Libertarian “hero,” must be pretty awesome.

ce28708ce834738babcc270906580e8aI don’t understand it….

Somehow, 19 year old Zuri Davis, has been brainwashed to believe that her constitutional rights are being “taken away.” Fox and Friends has to show their diversity, and Zuri, as an African-American Rand Paul supporter, fills that niche. This girl, who doesn’t want to be put in a box, said,

“It’s sad that we’re still getting caught up on subjectivity.”

The subjective nature of a candidate with a well-known history of White Supremacy is of no concern to Davis. She wants to defend the Constitution, while ignoring those trivial matters of equality for both women and minorities.

Encouraging her to agree with his insane rhetoric, Carlson throws out this zinger:

6fde3e51c3a4e4c13a51d226594110ba“Well, the modern tribalism of the Left demands that each person choose a group and then agree with everything that group agrees with. Then, anyone who leaves that group, is STONED to death. (Do) You reject that?”

Gee, Tucker, does she reject the notion of punishing someone to death by biblical savagery? Since when has the Democratic Party employed such tactics? Zuri says that she just wants diversity of thought. You know, that G.O.P. diversity? It’s the collective idea of denying that there’s ever been an issue of White Supremacy. Apparently, she also wants someone who’s not afraid to deny science and who has no problem shushing a woman who is getting out of line. Should a woman be raped, probably because she was asking for it, she should be have no rights if she wants an abortion. Mr. Small Government wants to control all the uteri, Zuri Davis’ body included.

18a5d66df542b3e41a27ddd962f4b13aMore at the link.

 

Did you see Hillary’s speech this past week? Addicting Info – Hillary’s Fiery Speech: Religious Beliefs Must Change For Social Justice (VIDEO)

And I guess there was some squawk about The most troubling thing about Russian hackers reading Obama’s unclassified emails – Business Insider

And while at BI: What it’s like to live on food stamps – Business Insider  I will give you a hint, Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t know how to do it….big surprise there.

This next link is interesting, an essay on putting an innocent man in jail. Alabama man convicted of wife kill with bogus evidence – NY Daily News

8c3cfbaa0b995d6a3b58af1e1c01e5d7The film Goodfellas is not the only thing celebrating its 25th anniversary this year: NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope celebrates 25th anniversary | Uncover California

Someone asked me what my thoughts were on the Atlanta teaching scandal. I have to say I think it was a shitty thing, and wrong on so many levels, but I also feel that Jon Stewart hit it just right. You can see his segment here:

Jon Stewart takes on Atlanta’s teaching scandal | Political Insider blog

Video clip direct link here: http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/x4vg3f/fraud-city

Let’s end this with pictures of rainbows, but no Elvis or Jewish unicorns: Manhattan rainbow | Today’s Image | EarthSky

…and how about a video of a Monkey dropkicks young man after the guy flashes the finger – NY Daily News

8ccfe33ba4a96df641fac979f8ac7065Looks like he picked the wrong monkey to mess with.

Newly posted security camera footage, purportedly from the monkey-laden city of Shimla in Northern India, shows a primate teaching a young man a lesson: Animals don’t like being flicked off, either.

A couple of guys walk past the monkey in a market area of the capital city of the Himachal Pradesh state and the former British Raj summer capital in the video.

1bb68f3bd19c63041804ca1eac92d0d1But, rather than passing by the animal like other pedestrians in the video, one of them motions at the monkey, causing it to jump up on a crate for a better view.

The simian bears its teeth at the young man, who, undeterred, appears to raise his middle finger at the animal. That’s when the monkey leaps toward the human and lays him out with a swift push and two-legged primate kick to the torso — an attack the video shows once in real time and again in slow motion for good measure.

Now that is one smart ass monkey!

What are you all reading about today?

 

Here are more images of relief posters…

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Tuesday Reads: Baltimore Burning

Baltimore police confront violent protesters

Baltimore police confront violent protesters

Good Morning.

One of the advantages of being old is that you can remember quite a bit of history. I remember the riots that tore apart American cities in April, 1968, following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. The assassination was only the trigger that set off the anger that had been building for years in people who felt disrespected and desperate. One of those riots took place in Baltimore. Spiro Agnew was governor of Maryland when it happened. Soon he would be Richard Nixon’s Vice President. Nixon ran on a “law and order” platform, and as president he initiated the “war on drugs.”

Here’s a description of Baltimore in April, 1968, from someone who was there.

Armored troop carriers rolled down the streets over deep tread marks in the soft blacktop. Tanks had preceded them. There were troops already bivouaced in Druid Hill Park. It wasn’t a town in Czechoslovakia, or Poland, or Afghanistan. It was Crabtown, grave-site of Edgar Allen Poe, birthplace of the United States’ national anthem, and headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. In the United States.

It was Bal’more, Mar’lan’. It was the time we call 1968. King had just been assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, and city officials had persuaded Governor Spiro Theodore Agnew to call in the National Guard.

Houses and businesses had burned before, and firemen had been shot before in the inner city, but troops occupying the city, this was new.

Sound familiar?

Baltimore in April, 1968

Baltimore in April, 1968

 

Baltimore in April 1968

Baltimore in April 1968

 

Forty-seven years later, Baltimore is burning again. This time the trigger was the death of Freddie Gray after a beating by police that was caught on video by a bystander. Why is anyone surprised by the violence? It was bound to happen again in one of many cities where militarized police forces target poor neighborhoods and police officers kill black citizens with impunity because they know they will go unpunished. We’ve seen black men die at the hands of police again and again in the past year–in Ferguson, Long Island, Cleveland, Dayton, Los Angeles, New York City, and many more cities.

This time, Baltimore Maryland’s governor is Larry Hogan. Forty-seven years later, his solution is the same as Agnew’s–call in the National Guard to shut down violent protests. Will it work? Maybe it will suppress the anger for a time, but it will remain simmering under the surface until Americans deal with the real problems behind it.

The good news in 2015 is that, thanks to cell phone cameras, Americans are finally seeing in real time the inevitable results of bad policing, racial profiling, and economic inequality. Will anything change this time?

This morning I’ve collected some of the best news reports and opinions I could find on the latest outbreak of violence over a police killing–this time in Baltimore.

Baltimore April 2015

Baltimore April 2015

From The Baltimore Sun: Riots erupt across West Baltimore, downtown.

Violence and looting overtook much of West Baltimore on Monday, injuring more than a dozen police officers and leaving buildings and vehicles in flames.

As night fell, looters took to Mondawmin Mall and a Save-A-Lot and Rite Aid in Bolton Hill, loading up cars with stolen goods. About 10 fire crews battled a three-alarm fire at a large senior center under construction at Chester and Gay streets, as police officers stood guard with long guns.

About 10 p.m., police confirmed shots were fired at an officer in the area of Virginia Avenue and Reisterstown Road in Northwest Baltimore. The officer was not hit and the suspect fled.

Fifteen police officers were injured in a clash with school-age children that began around 3 p.m., and two remain hospitalized, police Col. Darryl DeSousa said in a press conference Monday night. Earlier, police spokesman Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said one officer was unresponsive and others suffered broken bones.

Police arrested 27 people, DeSousa said.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declared a curfew across the city starting Tuesday and for the next week, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for adults and 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. for children aged 14 and younger. She drew a distinction between peaceful protesters and “thugs” she said engaged in rioting Monday intend on “destroying our city.”

“It’s idiotic to think that by destroying your city, you’re going to make life better for anybody,” Rawlings-Blake said.

At Rawlings-Blake’s request, Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency and activating the Maryland National Guard. The order does not affect citizens’ rights, but is required to activate the Guard and authorize federal assistance, Hogan spokeswoman Erin Montgomery said. It is not “martial law,” Maryland National Guard Adjutant General Linda Singh said.

Read much more at the Sun link.

Baltimore, April 2015

Baltimore, April 2015

The riots began shortly after the funeral of Freddie Gray, who was killed while in police custody  on April 12. From the Atlantic: The Mysterious Death of Freddie Gray.

Freddie Gray’s death on April 19 leaves many unanswered questions. But it is clear that when Gray was arrested in West Baltimore on the morning of April 12, he was struggling to walk. By the time he arrived at the police station a half hour later, he was unable to breathe or talk, suffering from wounds that would kill him.

Gray died Sunday from spinal injuries. Baltimore authorities say they’re investigating how the 25-year-old was hurt—a somewhat perverse notion, given that it was while he was in police custody, and hidden from public view, that he apparently suffered injury. How it happened remains unknown. It’s even difficult to understand why officers arrested Gray in the first place. But with protestors taking to the streets of Baltimore since Gray’s death on Sunday, the incident falls into a line of highly publicized, fatal encounters between black men and the police….
Black men dying at the hands of the police is of course nothing new, but the nation is now paying attention and getting outraged.Authorities can’t say if there was a particularly good reason why police arrested Gray. According to the city, an officer made eye contact with Gray, and he took off running, so they pursued him. Though he’d had scrapes with the law before, there’s no indication he was wanted at the time. And though he was found with a switchblade, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said, “We know that having a knife is not necessarily a crime.”
Police wouldn’t have found the knife if they hadn’t chased after Gray and searched him with no probable cause. They claim he ran when he saw police, but is that a crime? I don’t think so.
Friends and family gather for Freddie Gray's funeral

Friends and family gather for Freddie Gray’s funeral

Police brutality in Baltimore is nothing new. In September 2014, The Baltimore Sun published an investigative report on police violence against citizens: Undue Force. A brief excerpt:

Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations. Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson.

Those cases detail a frightful human toll. Officers have battered dozens of residents who suffered broken bones — jaws, noses, arms, legs, ankles — head trauma, organ failure, and even death, coming during questionable arrests. Some residents were beaten while handcuffed; others were thrown to the pavement.

And in almost every case, prosecutors or judges dismissed the charges against the victims — if charges were filed at all. In an incident that drew headlines recently, charges against a South Baltimore man were dropped after a video showed an officer repeatedly punching him — a beating that led the police commissioner to say he was “shocked.”

Such beatings, in which the victims are most often African-Americans, carry a hefty cost. They can poison relationships between police and the community, limiting cooperation in the fight against crime, the mayor and police officials say. They also divert money in the city budget — the $5.7 million in taxpayer funds paid out since January 2011 would cover the price of a state-of-the-art rec center or renovations at more than 30 playgrounds. And that doesn’t count the $5.8 million spent by the city on legal fees to defend these claims brought against police.

Read the rest at the link.

Baltimore in April 2015

Baltimore in April 2015

Gray may have been injured during the beating on the street, but his injuries may have been exacerbated by being taken on a “rough ride” in a police wagon without a seat belt.

From the Baltimore Sun: Freddie Gray not the first to come out of Baltimore police van with serious injuries.

When a handcuffed Freddie Gray was placed in a Baltimore police van on April 12, he was talking and breathing. When the 25-year-old emerged, “he could not talk and he could not breathe,” according to one police official, and he died a week later of a spinal injury.

But Gray is not the first person to come out of a Baltimore police wagon with serious injuries.

Relatives of Dondi Johnson Sr., who was left a paraplegic after a 2005 police van ride, won a $7.4 million verdict against police officers. A year earlier, Jeffrey Alston was awarded $39 million by a jury after he became paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a van ride. Others have also received payouts after filing lawsuits.

For some, such injuries have been inflicted by what is known as a “rough ride” — an “unsanctioned technique” in which police vans are driven to cause “injury or pain” to unbuckled, handcuffed detainees, former city police officer Charles J. Key testified as an expert five years ago in a lawsuit over Johnson’s subsequent death.

As daily protests continue in the streets of Baltimore, authorities are trying to determine how Gray was injured, and their focus is on the 30-minute van ride that followed his arrest. “It’s clear what happened, happened inside the van,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Monday at a news conference.

Here’s a first-person description of one of those “rough rides” from a victim:

Christine Abbott, a 27-year-old assistant librarian at the Johns Hopkins University, is suing city officers in federal court, alleging that she got such a ride in 2012. According to the suit, officers cuffed Abbott’s hands behind her back, threw her into a police van, left her unbuckled and “maniacally drove” her to the Northern District police station, “tossing [her] around the interior of the police van.”

“They were braking really short so that I would slam against the wall, and they were taking really wide, fast turns,” Abbott said in an interview that mirrored allegations in her lawsuit. “I couldn’t brace myself. I was terrified.”

The lawsuit states she suffered unspecified injuries from the arrest and the ride.

“You feel like a piece of cargo,” she added. “You don’t feel human.”

The van’s driver stated in a deposition that Abbott was not buckled into her seat belt, but the officers have denied driving recklessly.

Anyone believe the denials? I sure don’t.

More helpful stories on the Baltimore riots, links only:

USA Today Sports: Orioles COO John Angelos offers eye-opening perspective on Baltimore protests.

Joseph Cannon at Cannonfire: The Reasons Why, Fighting Back, and Insanity and Reality.

Think Progress: Maryland Police Union President Says He’s Never Heard Of ‘Rough Rides.’

The Root: Baltimore Police Union’s Boss Inflames Tension With ‘Lynch Mob’ Remark; ‘Rough Ride’ Alleged

Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic: Nonviolence as Compliance.

Politico: White House awakes to ‘national crisis‘ and Mayors to Washington: Do Something!

Vox: Protests in Baltimore escalate over death of Freddie Gray after arrest.

Newsday: Philadelphia mayor defends Baltimore leader’s riot response

What else is happening? As always, this is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread.

 

 

 


Monday Reads: Mergers and Trade and Wonks! Oh My!

Good Morning!

political-cartoon-of-jp-morgan-&-co-published-in-the-literary-digest-on-june-10-1933Well, it’s still morning where I’m at although it hardly looks that way since we’ve been inundated by rain for several hours.  I do believe folks have traded in their cars for pirogues as the streets have now filled up pretty quickly with water and leaves.

I have a few odds and ends to pass on to you this morning.First, the Comcast/Time-Warner merger is off which is a very good deal for consumers around the country.  The merger would’ve been a BFD and I can’t imagine the Justice Department letting it go through with the amount of concentration it would’ve caused in several markets.  It would’ve been like Coke, Pepsi and Walmart merging together.

Here’s Senator Al Franken with some thoughts on the failed deal. 

The collapse of Comcast’s plan to buy Time Warner Cable is a big victory for anyone who watches TV or uses the Internet. But it won’t be the last time the interests of consumers clash with the desires of big corporations in the media and technology space. Here are five lessons from this fight I think we should keep in mind going forward.

2. We should empower regulators to do their jobs.

This decision illustrates an important reason why we have the FCC (and federal regulatory agencies in general): to protect the American people from being taken advantage of by big corporations.

That said, far too often, those big corporations are able to wield overwhelming influence over the government agencies (and lawmakers) that are supposed to be keeping them in check. Comcast is represented in Washington by more than 100 lobbyists, more than a few of whom have passed through the “revolving door” between the company and its regulators (for example, less than four months after the FCC approved Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011, one of the FCC commissioners went to work for Comcast). Last year, it and Time Warner Cable combined to spend $32 million trying to influence the federal government.

So while it’s critical that we empower regulators to do their jobs, we also have to demand that they do them well; our activism has to outweigh the big money on the other side.

3. We should still be worried about lack of competition.

Even without this deal, there is far too little competition in the cable and broadband markets. As it stands now, 55% of U.S. households only have one choice for broadband Internet—and for a majority of those homes, it’s Comcast. Not exactly an incentive for the company to provide first-class service, as many Comcast customers can attest.

And if you want another illustration of how powerful Comcast is, consider that, during the debate over this deal, other companies who did business with Comcast told me they were afraid go public with their opposition because they feared retribution.

The Senator makes five points so you can continue to read this article at–of all places–Time Magazine.51c8d35f0a127.image

Another BFD in the area of the economy is the Trans-Pacific Partnership which I’ve hesitated to write about for several reasons.  First, much of the deal is still classified and not available to the public. Second, I look at the deal through the eyes of some one whose dissertation was about trade in ASEAN+3 so I am supremely disadvantaged by knowing WAY too many details about the region and the existing trade agreements.  My current research area is Foreign Direct Investment through out the entire region so I almost know too much to be able to explain any of it succinctly if that makes any sense.

However, I will point you to a few things.  First, there’s a document from the Congressional Research Service that outlines issues that should concern Congress.  I consider this a good place to start. This quote comes from a portion of the Executive Summary.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. U.S. negotiators and others describe and envision the TPP as a “comprehensive and high-standard” FTA that aims to liberalize trade in nearly all goods and services and include rules-based commitments beyond those currently established in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The broad outline of an agreement was announced on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial in November 2011, in Honolulu, HI. If concluded as envisioned, the TPP potentially could eliminate tariff and nontariff barriers to trade and investment among the parties and could serve as a template for a future trade pact among APEC members and potentially other countries. Congress has a direct interest in the negotiations, both through influencing U.S. negotiating positions with the executive branch, and by considering legislation to implement any resulting agreement.

The TPP negotiations have been ongoing for nearly five years and may be concluded in the near term, although several challenging issues remain unresolved. These issues are likely the most sensitive for negotiating parties and may require political-level decisions to reach final agreement. The negotiating dynamic itself is complex. For example, decisions on key market access issues on auto, dairy, sugar, and textiles and apparel may depend on the outcome of rules negotiations involving intellectual property rights or state-owned enterprises, among other issues.

Nearly 30 chapters are under discussion in the negotiations, and reports indicate that 9 have been finished. The United States is negotiating market access for goods, services, and agriculture with countries with which it does not currently have FTAs: Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Vietnam. Negotiations are also being conducted regarding disciplines on intellectual property rights, trade in services, government procurement, investment, rules of origin, competition, labor, and environment, among other issues. In many cases, the rules being negotiated are intended to be more rigorous than comparable rules found in the WTO. Some topics, such as state-owned enterprises, regulatory coherence, and supply chain competitiveness, may break new ground in FTA negotiations. As the countries that make up the TPP negotiating partners include advanced industrialized, middle income, and developing economies, the TPP, if implemented, may involve restructuring and reform of the economies of some participants. It also has the potential to spur economic growth in the region.

17679_600It also has the potential to tank some industries in this country as well as provide all consumers with a huge number of extremely cheap things for them to buy.  Trade is always win-win for countries.  However, within each country, there are huge losers.  This is something that always has to be considered.  Some jobs will move to other countries while creating jobs in totally different industries in the domestic economy.  The deal is that most of the folks in the lost jobs usually aren’t just easily transferable to the newly created jobs.  That’s especially true in this country where our advantage is in areas that are extremely technical in nature and require advanced degrees or training.  The NAFTA agreement contained “adjustment assistance” to help such workers.  An example of what it did was train a lot of Ladies Garment Workers in the South in the Health Care Field.  In many cases, the jobs weren’t all that equal but at least there was some consideration.  We’ve heard nothing about this kind of assistance but again, many of the details are still hush hush.  The discussion is heating up so I thought I’d give you some of the basics, however, so we can have a base for further discussion as this seems certain to move forward.

Here’s a good example of concerns and cross-purposes.  This is an example of two Lawyers from Harvard Law school that are distinctly split into opposing camps.

As Congress considers giving another Harvard Law colleague from that era, President Obama, special “fast track” authority to negotiate a 12-nation Pacific trade accord, the two lawyers find themselves on opposing armies in one of the biggest legislative fights of the Obama presidency. Among those nations are Japan, Australia and Chile, and smaller ones like Brunei, Peru and Vietnam.

Loyalties to the two opposing forces are stark.

“I’ve questioned Froman on Brunei. I’ve questioned him on food safety. I’ve questioned him on not doing anything when Peru walked back from environmental regulations. Nothing,” fumed Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, a fierce foe of the trade promotion authority legislation nearing House consideration and of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership that such authority would ease to completion.

By contrast, “Lori Wallach? She’s got such granular knowledge,” she said. “She’s my source of information and knowledge.”

Republicans have lauded Mr. Froman for his full-throttle effort to secure the trade accord and his constant availability to them. Likewise, Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, a Democrat more open to the trade bills, shrugged off the hostility expressed by many in his party.

“When I’m asking burning questions about human rights and labor rights and the environment and communist Vietnam, I know I’m dealing with a professional,” he said of Mr. Froman.

Clearly, though, many lawmakers have lost patience with Mr. Froman. As a result, a hard-fought compromise on the trade promotion bill approved by the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees last week practically legislates better relations.

One unusual provision says that if members of Congress request a meeting or ask the trade representative a question, his office has to respond. The bill would also allow congressional aides with the proper security clearance to go into rooms with the Trans-Pacific Partnership texts and read them without lawmakers or officials from the trade representative’s office present.

“This is not personal,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont and another opponent of the trade effort. “It’s clearly the rules that have been established in terms of transparency. It’s been a disgrace, frankly.”

Fomenting much of that umbrage is Ms. Wallach, whose tactics, detailed treatises and Capitol Hill briefings have torn apart the chapters of the Pacific accord that have leaked out. She has castigated Mr. Froman’s tight control over the contents of the agreement and dismissed efforts by Republicans and Democrats to find common ground as smoke screens for a big-business agenda.

22198_600You can see from the list of countries mentioned above that we have a variety of things to be concerned about with this agreement.  We’ve got developed countries, emerging economies, and countries that are barely off the ground in this agreement.  There are democracies, monarchies and communist countries included in the mix.  It’s a very complex situation to say the least.

Many see this as the ultimate nod to huge MNCs (Multinational Corporations).  Here’s an example from Doctors without Borders and their concerns about the costs of pharmaceuticals.

No matter who you are or where you live, it’s time to pay attention to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. If signed in its current form, the TPP will lock in high, unsustainable drug prices, delay the availability of less expensive generic medicines, and price millions of people out of the medical care that they need.

Today, AARP and Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) express our deep concerns about the TPP’s impact on drug prices. Intellectual property provisions being proposed by the U.S. put too much emphasis on drug industry priorities at the expense of consumer and patient needs.

Various provisions in the TPP would delay the introduction of lower-priced drugs and worsen an already failing system of research and development that awards patents and other monopolies to companies for producing ‘me-too‘ medicines that provide little to no therapeutic benefits over existing treatments.

More troubling are demands by the U.S. to mandate 12 years of data exclusivity for biologic medicines, which include vaccines and drugs used to treat conditions like cancer and multiple sclerosis. Data exclusivity blocks competing firms from using previously generated clinical trial data to gain approval for generic versions of these drugs and vaccines.

With annual prices that can reach $400,000, the high cost of biologic drugs not only has negative effects on consumers and patients, but also on health care payers, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, as well as children in developing countries who are most vulnerable to dying from vaccine-preventable diseases.

It is noteworthy that the proposed 12 years of data exclusivity, or when clinical trial data are protected, goes well beyond the monopoly protections already provided in the U.S. Today, biologic drug manufacturers receive four years of data exclusivity that runs concurrently with 12 years ofmarket exclusivity, or when the FDA is blocked from approving generic versions of a brand name product.

Here’s more from a legal standpoint.

The most controversial provision of the TPP is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) section, which strengthens existing ISDS  procedures. ISDS first appeared in a bilateral trade agreement in 1959. According to The Economist, ISDS gives foreign firms a special right to apply to a secretive tribunal of highly paid corporate lawyers for compensation whenever the government passes a law to do things that hurt corporate profits — such things as discouraging smoking, protecting the environment or preventing a nuclear catastrophe.

Arbitrators are paid $600-700 an hour, giving them little incentive to dismiss cases; and the secretive nature of the arbitration process and the lack of any requirement to consider precedent gives wide scope for creative judgments.

To date, the highest ISDS award has been for $2.3 billion to Occidental Oil Company against the government of Ecuador over its termination of an oil-concession contract, this although the termination was apparently legal. Still in arbitration is a demand by Vattenfall, a Swedish utility that operates two nuclear plants in Germany, for compensation of €3.7 billion ($4.7 billion) under the ISDS clause of a treaty on energy investments, after the German government decided to shut down its nuclear power industry following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.

Under the TPP, however, even larger judgments can be anticipated, since the sort of “investment” it protects includes not just “the commitment of capital or other resources” but “the expectation of gain or profit.” That means the rights of corporations in other countries extend not just to their factories and other “capital” but to the profits they expect to receive there.

It really behooves all of us to look into the items leaking out of this agreement.  I do mean “leaking” too.   Here’s a great, easy-to-read article on concerns on the agreement from Vox. They argue that it’s good for14780_600 “elites” and not so good for every one else.

In the past, debates about trade deals have mostly been about trade. Ross Perot, for example, famously warned in 1992 about a “giant sucking sound” of jobs moving to Mexico if the US signed the North American Free Trade Agreement. In contrast, debates over the TPP mostly haven’t focused on its trade provisions.

That’s partly because even advocates of the treaty acknowledge that the economic effects of TPP’s trade provisions would be modest. It’s difficult to estimate the economic impact of the TPP’s trade provisions, because we don’t know exactly what’s in the deal. But one of the mostwidely cited estimates finds that TPP would add about $77 billion to US incomes in 2025. That’s less than half of 1 percent of current US incomes.

“This is not going to dramatically going to change our lives overnight,” Petri says. “We’re a very big economy, so anything compared to the size of the economy is going to be small in percentage term.”

Petri hopes the TPP will serve as a blueprint for future trade deals that include other big economies, such as the European Union and China. In that case, he says, the economic effects could be several times as large, with annual incomes increasing by as much as 2 percent of GDP.

A big reason for the deal’s modest impact is that trade barriers are already low. There are a few politically sensitive markets, such as agriculture, where significant trade restrictions remain. But previous trade deals have removed so many restrictions that there just isn’t much room for further progress.

As the opportunities for trade liberalization have dwindled, the nature of trade agreements has shifted. They’re no longer just about removing barriers to trade. They’ve become a mechanism for setting global economic rules more generally.

This trend is alarming to Simon Lester, a free trader at the Cato Institute. “We’ve added in these new issues that I’m skeptical of,” he says. “It’s not clear what the benefits are, and they cause a lot of controversy.”

And this system for setting global rules has some serious defects. We expect the laws that govern our economic lives will be made in a transparent, representative, and accountable fashion. The TPP negotiation process is none of these — it’s secretive, it’s dominated by powerful insiders, and it provides little opportunity for public input.

The Obama administration argues that it’s important for TPP to succeed so that the United States — not China — gets to shape the rules that govern trade across the Pacific. But this argument only makes sense if you believe US negotiators are taking positions that are in the broad interests of the American public. If, as critics contend, USTR’s agenda is heavily tilted toward the interests of a few well-connected interest groups, then the deal may not be good for America at all.

So, with that I start the conversation.  Get ready, because it will be wonky as hell!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Goodfellas, The F*cking Best Movie Ever Made. Open Thread.

Goodfellas celebrates 25th anniversary.

Good Evening

It’s been 25 years since “Goodfellas” was released in 1990 and yet the film still remains a favorite. Well, it is my favorite anyway….

You can see what the cast looks like now after 25 years at that link.

The film was celebrated at the Tribeca film festival today.  So enjoy these next few links that discuss the one and only Goodfellas.

‘Goodfellas’ actors spill secrets for 25th anniversary – NY Daily News

Just like the character he played in “Goodfellas,” Ray Liotta sang like a canary Saturday at the 25th anniversary reunion for the mob classic.

Capping the 12-day Tribeca Film Festival, actors Robert De Niro, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino and screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi more than amused a Beacon Theatre audience with behind-the-scenes tales from the beloved flick, which opened in 1990.

But it was Liotta, who played mob informant Henry Hill, who truly spilled the beans, telling a rapt crowd that Joe Pesci’s famous “Do I Amuse You” sequence was almost entirely improvised.

“Joe was just telling a story in rehearsal about something that happened to him in Queens,” Liotta recalled. “Some guy, who happened to be a connected guy, said, ‘You think that’s funny?’”

Actually, that is not anything new as far as news…we all have heard about that tale from Joe Pesci before.

But more here:

Tribeca 2015: ‘Goodfellas’ Reunion, Martin Scorsese Said He “Denigrated a Certain Ethnic Group” – Hollywood Reporter

Of the many delicious scenes in Goodfellas, the one that lingers longest is that of Paulie Cicero slicing garlic with a razor blade.

“The character in real life actually did that! And people have asked me if those were stunt hands — no, they’re mine,” Paul Sorvino recalled to The Hollywood Reporter of the move, which he recently re-created on Rachael Ray. “But do not mix garlic and onions together — if I hear you did, I’m going to hunt you down.”

Ray Liotta also joked of the scene, “I like it a little thicker — not as thin as they do!” and Debi Mazar, who actually hadn’t ever seen the movie on the big screen before, warned fans, “Don’t slice your garlic with a razor blade — there’s no reason to do that!”

The three shared hugs at New York City’s Beacon Theatre on Saturday night, along with Robert De Niro and Lorraine Bracco, for the 25th anniversary of the Martin Scorsese gangster classic — a reunion that closed the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival and included about a dozen members of the 1990 film’s other cast and crew in the audience.

Joe Pesci couldn’t be here, but he sent this email: ‘F—, f—, f—, f—ity f—, f—'” read De Niro, introducing the film with fest co-founder Jane Rosenthal. “I’ll translate: ‘Dear Bob, sorry I can’t be there. Love to all. Best, Joe.'”

Scorsese and producer Irwin Winkler sent video messages to the audience, as they’re currently filming Silence in Taiwan. “I remember the previews were one of the worst experiences of my life — we had three of them and they were all in California. … It seemed that the audience had to be prepared for what it was, but there was a lot of controversy,” Scorsese said of debuting the crime drama, in which his parents also appear. He then addressed screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi: “Remember that nice Italian restaurant in Tribeca that we used to go to? And then when the film came out, the owner of the restaurant said we’re not allowed in anymore because we apparently denigrated a certain ethnic group for the picture?”

That I have to say no…I can’t agree with that. Because what I saw, is what I grew up with. Sorry.

The scene with the Mother and Tommy and eating spaghetti and talking about settling down…no, that is as real as it gets.

As far as the mobsters and the violence, ugh….no comment. (Cough…cough.)

11 Things We Learned About Goodfellas — Vulture

Author and co-screenwriter Pileggi didn’t believe it was Scorsese calling him.

After Wiseguy, Pileggi’s book about the life of Henry Hill, came out, Martin Scorsese called the writer numerous times to talk about adapting it. Pileggi, a writer for New York (hey!) at the time, said he would get “these pink slips saying, ‘Call Marty Scorsese.’” But he refused to believe it was Scorsese calling; he thought they were messages from David Denby, then the magazine’s film critic. Scorsese, unable to figure out why Pileggi wasn’t calling him back, got someone in his office to call Pileggi’s wife, the late Nora Ephron, and told her to tell the writer to call him back. Pileggi came home that night to an irate Ephron: “Are you crazy? Marty Scorsese’s been trying to reach you! Call him back!”

That is the first of the eleven, go and see the other ten…

Jon Stewart geeks out over “Goodfellas” at Tribeca: “One of my most favorite movies of all time” – Salon.com

Jon Stewart geeks out over "Goodfellas" at Tribeca: "One of my most favorite movies of all time"

In addition to celebrating the power of film, this year’s Tribeca Film Festival also provided an opportunity for all our esteemed fake news hosts to geek out over their favorite films. Colbert talked to his hero George Lucas about “Star Wars,” John Oliver moderated a lively Monty Python reunion, and last night, diehard “Goodfellas” fanboy Jon Stewart closed out the festival with a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Martin Scorsese’s iconic gangster film.

Following a screening of a remastered print of the film at New York’s Beacon Theater, Stewart moderated a Q&A with stars Robert DeNiro, Ray Liotta, Paul Sorvino, Lorraine Bracco and screenwriter and “Wiseguy” author Nicholas Pileggi.

“What a thrill for me tonight, this is one of my most favorite movies of all time,” said Stewart upon introducing the panel, adding that the film was “one that, when I saw back in 1990, nearly ruined my life, because at that point, I could only talk in ‘Goodfellas.’ I was a comedian, so you can only imagine our conversations ended with ‘funny, how?’”

Scorsese, who couldn’t be there because he was shooting in Taipei, sent a taped video message, in which he chatted candidly about the film and gave a shoutout to the panel’s moderator, saying: “Jon, if you were around at the time, we would’ve put you in the picture. I’m not exactly sure where, but…”

[…]

Super-fan Stewart, meanwhile, appeared to still be holding out hope for a sequel. “When you do a classic like this and then you think about ‘Godfather 1,’ ‘Godfather 2,’ ‘Godfather 3,’ do you think ‘Goodfellas,’ ‘Greatfellas?’” he quipped to the group. “You could have ruined this very easily.”

And now a bit of the real thing:

The Real Goodfellas: The Mysterious Fate of Tommy DeSimone

Goodfellas buried Tommy DeVito in a closed coffin. The real Tommy D came to a more crushing end.

SPOILER ALERT:This article is all about endings, but it is still has no finish.

In Martin Scorsese’s classic gangster film Goodfellas, Tommy DeVito, played by Joe Pesci, gets whacked by John Gotti’s family in retribution for killing made man Billy Batts, played by Frank Vincent. Robert De Niro’s character “Jimmy the Gent” Conway gets the news in a phone booth which he pummels in a fit of rage. Scorsese got his dope from Henry Hill, who ratted out his friends to the feds and told all in a best-selling book called Wise Guy. In the movie, Tommy has to be buried in a closed coffin because he was shot in the face.

Tommy DeVito is based on Tommy DeSimone, aka “Two-Gun Tommy” or “Tommy D.” Most news reports, including one of mine, are based on Wise Guy and the press reports surrounding the $6 million dollar Lufthansa heist at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The problem is, the Gotti crew had nothing to do with the death of DeSimone. Tommy wasn’t buried in a closed coffin. He was never buried at all. His body was never found.

Pretty much everyone is familiar with Joe Pesci, either from his role in popular Christmas-themed children’s film Home Alone or his role in Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning gangster classic Goodfellas. He largely retired from acting in 1999, but starting today, you can see him on the big screen in Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys. Just one hitch: you’ll be seeing an actor (Joseph Russo) playing the character “Joe Pesci” rather than the actor Joe Pesci playing a character in the film.

Jersey Boys the film is based on Jersey Boys the play, which tells the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons from the group’s inception all the way through to (spoiler alert) the group’s reunion at the 1990 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Turns out, Joe Pesci actually played a not-inconsequential role in the formation of the popular doo-wop band. Growing up near Newark, N.J., young Pesci was friendly with Tommy Devito and the rest of the band and, according to the canon that the film presents, Pesci connected DeVito (the band’s behind-the-scenes leader at the time) with “Short-Shorts” writer Bob Gaudio, who would later write nearly all of the Four Seasons’ most popular songs. Now, according to the movie, DeVito works for Pesci. Yeah, that Joe Pesci. Small world, right?

The connection doesn’t end there, though. Later, Pesci—the actor, not the Jersey Boys character, who was a real person but not played by Joe Pesci because real-life Pesci was already in his 60s by the time Jersey Boys the play arrived on Broadway in 2005—starred in Scorsese’s Goodfellas. His name in the film? Tommy DeVito. And in case that weren’t enough of an in-joke, at one point during Goodfellas, Karen (Lorraine Bracco) confronts Henry (Ray Liotta), and says to him, “”Who the hell do you think you are, Frankie Valli or some kinda big shot?” Valli, in addition to being the lead singer in the Four Seasons, also allegedly had ties to the Italian mob (as did DeVito), so there’s more than enough self-referentiality going on here.

Anyhow, here’s the point: without Joe Pesci, we likely wouldn’t have The Four Seasons, Jersey Boys (the play or the film), Goodfellas or My Cousin Vinny. There are likely plenty more links to be made, but probably best to stop here before the universe collapses on itself.

So….what do you know…ain’t that funny….funny how?

But quick:

Power of Nepal earthquake was equivalent to 20 atomic bombs – Asia – World – The Independent

Clinton Foundation on Donor Disclosure: ‘We Made Mistakes’ | Mediaite

Stephanopoulos Challenges Clinton Cash Author: ‘Is There a Smoking Gun?’ | Mediaite

Smoke But No Gun Yet | The Mahablog

John Boehner Accuses Hillary Clinton of Breaking the Law

And this next story is crazy…

‘F*ck this court — I AM Justice’: Woman uncorks berserk legal rant after civil rights suit tossed

Full court filing can be found here: Very Angry Lady Successfully Files “Fuck This Court” Legal Brief

and if you read down at that Gawker link for the Pepperment comment you will find the full story behind the story:

http://gawker.com/this-is-amazing-by-the-way-the-background-is-that-our-1699883511

This is an open thread.


Sunday Reads: Nepal Earthquake Relief and more…Death Toll Over 2400

Residents cry as they walk past damaged houses to safer areas, after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, in Gyirong county of Xigaze Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, China, April 25, 2015. Rescuers dug with their bare hands and bodies piled up in Nepal on Sunday after an earthquake devastated the heavily crowded Kathmandu valley, killing at least 1,900, and triggered a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest. In Tibet, the death toll climbed to 17, according to a tweet from China's state news agency, Xinhua. Picture taken April 25, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Residents cry as they walk past damaged houses to safer areas, after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, in Gyirong county of Xigaze Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, China, April 25, 2015. Rescuers dug with their bare hands and bodies piled up in Nepal on Sunday after an earthquake devastated the heavily crowded Kathmandu valley, killing at least 1,900*, and triggered a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest. In Tibet, the death toll climbed to 17, according to a tweet from China’s state news agency, Xinhua. Picture taken April 25, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Good Afternoon

*As of the posting of this thread the death toll is at over 2400.

Toll Mounts as Nepal Searches for Quake Survivors | Al Jazeera America

More than 2,400 people confirmed dead in 7.8-magnitude earthquake that has devastated the Himalayan nation

 

I am going to give you links on this post updating you on the Nepal Earthquake, I will do a later post with other stories because I think the efforts in Nepal deserve our singular attention.

Starting with relief programs:

How to Help the Relief Effort in Nepal – NYTimes.com

In the aftermath of the earthquake, aid workers were already on the ground on Saturday providing much-needed relief to the survivors.

Here is a list of some of the groups soliciting donations to support their efforts in Nepal:

Oxfam
Oxfam is an international coalition of charities dedicated to fighting poverty. Aid workers from the group are on the ground, preparing to hand out food and water. @Oxfam on Twitter.

World Vision
“We are initiating a response to meet basic, urgent needs with temporary shelter, food, water, emergency health interventions, and other vital aid.”
@WorldVision on Twitter.

Red Cross
Volunteers from the Nepal arm of the Red Cross are helping in the search for survivors. @ICRC on Twitter.

United Nations World Food Programme
The United Nations agency is providing food and other aid to survivors.
@WFP on Twitter.

Samaritan’s Purse
Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian organization providing food, water, shelter, medicine, and other assistance to earthquake survivors. @SamaritansPurse on Twitter.

CARE
CARE is asking for donations for critical relief. The group said its humanitarian workers were currently on the ground assessing the situation in Nepal and determining the most immediate needs. @CARE on Twitter.

Save the Children
Donations to Save the Children, an organization with extensive reach in Nepal, will go toward efforts to provide protection for children and relief to their families.
@SC_Nepal on Twitter.

HuffPo has an article here: Aid Agencies Rally To Help Victims Of Nepal’s Earthquake

From The Independent: Nepal earthquake: How you can help victims of the Kathmandu disaster – World – News – The Independent

And a suggestion from a reader reelcarina: Sad Coincidence: Tragedy in Nepal on Richter Scale Day | stepabout

Accordingly, Nepal’s government has declared a state of emergency, asking the international community for help. We ARE the international community! So how can we help? Of course, I can’t just sit here on my sunny balcony in the ‘happiest country in the world’ (Switzerland was recently found to be that by UNO) and simply do nothing. However, I can’t drive out to the airport, catch the next plane to Kathmandu and help the population there myself. So, the possibility that remains is donating. I’m a student, so I don’t really have many financial means, but to those affected people in Nepal, even 40 or 50 Swiss Francs will be of great help! If you, dear readers, donate as well, it’s gonna be even better! As for today, my blog’s got 43 followers (Thank you so much for that, by the way!). If every one of you donates 25 Francs/Euros or whatever other currency, we’ll have contributed over 1000 Euros already! Now imagine, if other bloggers join in, our lovely internet community will unravel its full strength and  actually make a difference in Nepal 🙂

Pooling money together does add up…

Now here are some links to catch you up:

*This link gives some numbers: Foreign Governments Tally Citizens in Nepal

April 26, 2015 10:16 AM

The 7.9 magnitude quake struck at midday at a busy time of year for the tourism-reliant country’s trekking and climbing season, with an estimated 300,000 foreign tourists in the country, several hundred of those on Mount Everest.

Countries are listed in alphabetical order.

Austria: Foreign ministry says around 250 Austrians in Nepal, no reports so far on any casualties.

Bangladesh: Foreign ministry says no nationals in Nepal have been reported injured or killed. But four reported killed inside Bangladesh.

Britain: No details released yet.

Belgium: Foreign ministry says not aware of any victims.

China: Xinhua news agency, quoting the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, reports four people confirmed dead and 10 seriously injured.

France: Foreign ministry says around 500 French nationals have been located and are safe, and has no information on any victims.

Germany: No details released yet.

India: Nearly 800 Indians have been evacuated from Nepal with more on the way home, according to the Ministry of External Affairs. No Indian casualties yet reported in Nepal, but 49 reported killed in India.

Indonesia: Foreign ministry says has 34 nationals in Nepal. Eighteen are living in Nepal and 16 are visiting. Says still trying to contact 18 of those nationals.

Israel: Foreign ministry says it estimates around 600 Israelis are in Nepal, and has secured contact with 400, most of them sheltering at the embassy in Kathmandu. These include 25 couples in Nepal to bring home babies born to surrogates.

Italy: No details released yet.

Japan: Foreign ministry says has no reports of Japanese killed or injured in the quake, but is still checking whereabouts of citizens. Some 1,100 Japanese living in Nepal are registered with the embassy, but no information on number of nationals travelling through.

Latvia: Local news agencies report around 41 people from Latvia in Nepal at the moment. Four are missing.

Lithuania: Foreign ministry says 25 Lithuanian nationals registered in Nepal are safe, but does not know yet of any unregistered travellers.

Malaysia: Foreign ministry says all citizens in Nepal are accounted for and safe. A team of Malaysian Everest climbers are safe at base camp.

Philippines: Two Filipino climbers are reported safe.

Poland: No news on any Poles affected.

Romania: Nineteen Romanians in Nepal, including mountaineer Alex Gavan and three others, all reported to be safe.

Russia: Tass news agency, citing emergencies ministry, says no casualties among Russians.

Sweden: Foreign ministry is aware of around 40 Swedes in Nepal but has no information about dead, hurt or missing nationals.

South Korea: Foreign ministry says three nationals injured in the earthquake. It estimates 650 residents and as many as 1,000 travelers were in Nepal at the time.

Nepal hospitals overflowing, rural towns cut off, aid groups say – The Times of India

HONG KONG: Aid groups and governments worldwide intensified efforts Sunday to help earthquake-hit Nepal, but blocked roads, downed power lines and overcrowded hospitals posed formidable challenges in an already poor country.

As the death toll in the Himalayan nation surpassed 2,300, the US together with European and Asian nations sent emergency crews to reinforce those scrambling to find survivors in the devastated capital Kathmandu and in cut-off rural areas.

“Tragically, more bodies are being pulled from collapsed buildings every hour,” the Australian Red Cross said in a statement.

“Communication is down in many areas. Widespread destruction, rubble and landslides are preventing access to provide aid in many villages.”

6.6 million people affected in Nepal quake: UN – bdnews24.com

Magnitude 6.7 quake aftershock hits Nepal and India | eNCA

Extent of the Damage From the Nepal Earthquake – NYTimes.com

The earthquake’s epicenter was not far from the capital, Katmandu. The United States Geological Survey had counted 12 aftershocks by midafternoon, one of which measured at a magnitude of 6.6. Deaths were reported as far away as northern India and on Mount Everest. | Related Article »

The Guardian has excellent live updates and coverage:

Nepal earthquake: rescue continues as death toll exceeds 2,000 – live updates | World news | The Guardian

Nepal earthquake: more than 200 Australians confirmed safe | World news | The Guardian

Nepal earthquake: Rescue effort intensifies – BBC News

US, Canada, Russia to assist in rescue | Top Stories

KATHMANDU, APR 26 –

United States Secretary John Kerry has issued a press statement on Saturday on behalf of the US government to express condolences to all of those affected by the earthquake in Nepal, including the families of those who died in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.

Kerry, in his statement, said that they are working closely with the government of Nepal to provide assistance and support at this time of crisis.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Bodde has issued a disaster declaration in order to immediately release an initial $1 million for humanitarian assistance.

USAID is preparing to deploy a Disaster Assistance Response Team and is activating an Urban Search and Rescue Team to accompany disaster experts and assist with assessments of the situation.

Likewise, Russia and China are also sending teams to assist in the rescue operation. Chinese team is arriving with six specially-trained dogs and head to Gorkha district with medicines and food to carry out the rescue operation.

Nepal Earthquake – The Numbers – WSJ

The massive earthquake that shook Nepal on Saturday has so far claimed the lives of at least 1,900 people.

The quake, which struck shortly before noon, local time, spread devastation across a broad swath of territory, severely damaging parts of the capital’s historic center, flattening remote villages and triggering a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest.

Here’s a look at the earthquake by the numbers.

Nepal’s Landmarks, Before and After the Earthquake – NYTimes.com

Dharahara Tower

This nine-story structure was built in 1832 on orders from the queen. It was made of bricks about a foot and a half thick, and had recently been reopened to the public. Sightseers could ascend a narrow spiral staircase to a viewing platform around 200 feet above the city.

July 15, 2013

Before: Dharahara Tower

Bal Krishna Thapa Chhetri
April 25, 2015

Before: Dharahara Tower

Narendra Shrestha/European Pressphoto Agency

More pictures at that link.

Nepal Earthquake: Incredible Pictures From Everest Base Camp – India Real Time – WSJ

Nepal earthquake in pictures: Images show devastating effects of quake that tore a country apart – Asia – World – The Independent

nepal earthquake – Google Search you can see more pictures at that link as well….

Some reports out of Everest:

Mount Everest: New avalanches from aftershocks in Nepal – CNN.com

Nepal earthquake: Everest survivors describe ordeal – BBC News

Climbers above Everest base camp all safe | Reuters

217 missing in Everest | National- ekantipur.com

Video of the Everest avalanche are hitting Youtube but the ones I found are the same as some posted from 2009:

▶ Massive Mount Everest Avalanche Caught on Camera – YouTube

Posted Apr 25th….

Published on Apr 25, 2015

Nepal Earthquake Triggers Everest Avalanche, 18 Killed at Base Camp

At least 13 people were killed on Everest on Saturday as a massive avalanche – triggered by an earthquake near the Nepalese capital Kathmandu – swept through base camp.

The avalanche trapped other climbers higher on the mountain as those in base camp ran for their lives to escape falling ice and rock.

Videos from Everest south-side base camp showed flattened tents and blocks of rock scattered around a site dusted deep in snow. The avalanche appeared to have swept through the mid section of the strung-out base camp.

This is the same video as this: ▶ 5/3/09 – Mt. Everest Avalanche caught on tape – YouTube

Uploaded on May 6, 2009

In a series of Skype video chats, Miles O’Brien has been talking with Astronaut Scott Parazynski, who is at Mt. Everest prepping for a summit bid. While at Everest Base Camp, Scott and his partner Keith Cowing captured an avalanche on tape.

This next link is interesting, about how poverty will affect the aid relief.

Devastating Earthquake in Nepal: Humanitarian Relief and Tackling Poverty | Winnie Byanyima

Yesterday a terrible earthquake shook Nepal near the capital, Katmandu. Oxfam teams are on ground in Nepal with more staff and relief supplies flying in. I’d like to share this post which was shared with us in response, by Shaheen Chughtai, Oxfam’s Deputy Head of Humanitarian Policy and Campaigns.

Kathmandu was ever a disaster-in-waiting. The densely populated capital of one of the world’s poorest countries clings to the slopes of the seismically unstable Himalayas. The city was near-leveled and 8,500 killed in its last great earthquake 81 years before. It had history. On Saturday, the long-feared calamity struck.

And these articles explains why the earthquake happened:

Ancient Collision Made Nepal Earthquake Inevitable – NYTimes.com

More than 25 million years ago, India, once a separate island on a quickly sliding piece of the Earth’s crust, crashed into Asia. The two land masses are still colliding, pushed together at a speed of 1.5 to 2 inches a year. The forces have pushed up the highest mountains in the world, in the Himalayas, and have set off devastating earthquakes.

Experts had warned of the danger to the people of Katmandu for decades. The death toll in Nepal on Saturday was practically inevitable given the tectonics, the local geology that made the shaking worse and the lax construction of buildings that could not withstand the shaking.

Nepal earthquake: The history and why quakes happen in the Himalayas – Asia – World – The Independent

Nepal quake ‘followed historic pattern’ – BBC News

What caused the Nepal earthquake? – Al Jazeera English

Video at the link.

(Well, that sucks. The video will not work in the US, but it may work in other countries. )

I will update this post with links in the comments below.

The other Sunday thread will be up later this evening.


Lazy Saturday Reads: Time to Put Our Problems into Perspective

Volcano Cambuco, Chile

Volcano Cambuco, Chile

Good Morning!!

Today is a good day to put things in perspective and meditate on how fortunate we are here in the United States, despite our serious social and political problems. Elsewhere, dramatic, uncontrollable earth changes are happening with disastrous results.

A disastrous earthquake hit Nepal this morning, with hundreds reported dead so far.

From the NY Daily News: 7.9-magnitude earthquake hits Nepal, kills 792 people, triggers Mt. Everest avalanche.

A 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Nepal killed at least 792 people, destroyed homes and landmarks and triggered an avalanche on Mt. Everest Saturday, officials said….

The devastation first struck Nepal’s densely populated Kathmandu Valley, sweeping through the capital Kathmandu before rippling outward.

“Almost the entire country has been hit,” Krishna Prasad Dhakal, deputy chief of mission at Nepal’s Embassy in New Delhi, told Reuters.

Nepal’s tourism jewel, Mt. Everest, was shaken by the country’s worst earthquake in 80 years, setting off an avalanche that killed eight and injured at least 30, officials said.

Here’s some shocking video from YouTube:

 

This was truly a giant earthquake. [Update: As I write this, USA Today is reporting 876 confirmed dead.]

The earthquake sent aftershocks in all directions, killing 20 in India, six in Tibet, two in Bangladesh, and two Chinese citizens at the Nepal-China border. The rumbling was also felt by some in Lahore, Pakistan and Lhasa.

A 6.6.-magnitude aftershock hit Nepal about an hour after the initial earthquake, and smaller aftershocks continued every few minutes as emergency responders rushed to save citizens and treat them in overcrowded hospitals….

The cosmic quake also injured dozens more and destroyed several centuries-old temples and towers, including the Dharahara Tower, one of the Nepal’s most famous landmarks, which dates back to the 1800s. People were trapped underneath it after it crumbled.

Nepal is going to need a lot of help and soon if lives are to be saved.

USA Today: Nepal quake occurred at major plate boundary.

Saturday’s catastrophic earthquake in Nepal occurred because of two converging tectonic plates: the India plate and the overriding Eurasia plate to the north, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Tectonic plates are the large, thin, relatively rigid plates that move relative to one another on the outer surface of the Earth.

Plates are always slowly moving, but they get stuck at their edges due to friction. When the stress on the edge overcomes the friction, there is an earthquake that releases energy in waves that travel through the earth’s crust and cause the shaking that we feel.

At the location of Saturday’s earthquake, about 50 miles to the northeast of the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, the India plate is converging with Eurasia at a rate of about two inches per year towards the north-northeast, driving the uplift of theHimalayan mountain range.

Although a major plate boundary with a history of large-to-great sized earthquakes, large quakes in this area are rare in the documented historical era, the U.S. Geological Survey reports. Over the past century, just four events of magnitude 6.0 or larger have occurred within about 150 miles of Saturday’s earthquake.

One, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake in August 1988 about 150 miles to the southeast of Saturay’s quake, caused nearly 1,500 fatalities, USGS said.

The largest event, a magnitude 8.0 known as the 1934 Nepal-Bihar earthquake, occurred in a similar location to the 1988 quake. It severely damaged Kathmandu, and is thought to have caused around 10,600 deaths.

 

This photo from CNN shows emergency rescue workers in Kathmandu rushing an injured person to a hospital.

150425130218-nepal-earthquake-stretcher-super-169

 

The Guardian is posting live updates on the situation in Nepal.

 

I may be living in dignified poverty in a country filled with out-of-control religious fanatics and right wing haters, but at least I’m alive and well, with a roof over my head, heat, running water, electricity, and food to eat. I even have a Heaterator in my house for those cold days!

On Wednesday, Chile experienced a massive volcanic eruption that also set off earthquakes.

Gizmodo reported it live, with photos and gifs from news sites and Twitter.

Calbuco, a stratovolcano in southern Chile, began erupting yesterday [Wednesday] at 7pm local time. First spewing massive ash clouds then, at 10pm, erupting explosively as its fragile structure collapsed inwards….The Calbuco volcano in southern Chile is erupting for the first time in 42 years…

See more photos at Cruel Buzz:

15 Breathtaking pics of volcano eruption in Chile that forced 4000 to evacuate.

I’m including some of these amazing photos in this post.

From ABC yesterday: Chile Volcano Eruption: Inside a Ghost Town as Volcanic Ash Rains Down.

A volcano that was dormant for 42 years in Chile has erupted twice this week in a magnificent display. But the stunning twin blasts captured on photo and video has forced about 4,000 residents in towns nearby to evacuate as ash blanketed their neighborhoods.

The city of Ensenada, at the foot of the Calbuco volcano, was one of the most thickly covered in ash – which caused roofs to collapse and raised concerns about possible water contamination, respiratory illnesses and more grounded flights.

Chile’s national geology and mining service also warned people to prepare for a possible third and “even more aggressive eruption.”

volcano-eruption-calbuco-chile-1__8801

The LA Times: Calbuco volcano: Two earthquakes caused by fracturing rock, officials say.

A missing hiker was found alive late Thursday as ash from Chile’s Calbuco volcano continued to fill the air, piling on roadways and closing borders in the region.

The volcano first erupted Wednesday, marking the first such activity in more than 42 years, billowing a huge ash cloud over the sparsely populated, mountainous area in southern Chile.

A second, more powerful eruption hit around 1 a.m. Thursday, creating swarms of lightning storms. Stunning photos captured the phenomenon, known as “dirty thunderstorms,” which illuminated the night sky.

The eruption rained down as much as 15 to 20 inches of ash in the nearby town of Ensenada, officials said, closing schools and canceling flights. Several surrounding towns, including Alerce, Colonia Rio Sur and Correntos, were also evacuated.

About 7 p.m. local time, two earthquakes associated with fracturing of rock occurred. The largest happened less than 3 miles east of the main crater, with a magnitude of 3, officials said in a 9 p.m. update. An additional “minor” eruption is possible, officials said.

volcano-eruption-calbuco-chile-4__880

According to the article, no deaths have been reported so far, and officials say they don’t have food or water shortages; but this eruption was huge.

Volcanic ash was falling in the Argentine resort city of Bariloche, about 68 miles east of Calbuco, the Associated Press reported. Officials there were analyzing the ash to see if it posed a threat to drinking water.

Officials closed several border crossings between Argentina and Chile, after “poor environmental conditions” made the roads impassable.

From Reuters early this morning: Chile volcano prompts new evacuations, flights to Argentina canceled.

Chilean volcano Calbuco, which erupted without warning on Wednesday, is still puffing out ash and smoke on Friday, prompting new evacuations and leading airlines to cancel flights to Argentine capital Buenos Aires, some 1,400 kilometers east.

Calbuco, considered one of the most dangerous along Chile’s chain of around 2,000 volcanoes, erupted twice in 24 hours on Wednesday and Thursday, sending up a spectacular 17 kilometer-high (11 miles) cloud and coating nearby towns in a thick layer of gray ash.

Authorities have set up a 20 kilometer (12 mile) cordon around Calbuco, which is located in the scenic Los Lagos region, around 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) south of capital Santiago.

An increase in volcanic activity caused potentially deadly lahars, a mix of water and rock fragments that flow down a volcano’s slopes and river valleys, prompting authorities to evacuate an additional 2,000 people.

“This is a complex (volcanic) process that could last for weeks,” said Rodrigo Alvarez, head of Chile’s mining and geological service.

volcano-eruption-calbuco-chile-15__880

Of course we do face catastrophic risks here too. Remember that all that volcanic activity under Yellowstone National Park?

The Christian Science Monitor reports: Scientists find huge magma reservoir in Yellowstone ‘supervolcano’ (+video).

Scientists and tourists have always known that Yellowstone National Park featured lively geologic wonders – regular small earthquakes and two-thirds of the world’s geysers, including Old Faithful – all constituting what’s known as a “supervolcano.”

Now, seismologists at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City have made a new discovery about Yellowstone’s subsurface plumbing, specifically a reservoir of hot, partly molten rock more than four times larger than the shallower magma chamber that scientists already knew about. To give that some perspective, the newly discovered reservoir would fill the Grand Canyon 11 times, compared with 2.5 times for the shallower chamber.

“For the first time, we have imaged the continuous volcanic plumbing system under Yellowstone,” says Hsin-Hua Huang, a postdoctoral researcher in geology and geophysics at the university and the study’s lead author, in a statement. “That includes the upper crustal magma chamber we have seen previously plus a lower crustal magma reservoir that has never been imaged before and that connects the upper chamber to the Yellowstone hotspot plume below.”

The researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Science this week, emphasize that Yellowstone’s plumbing system is no larger – nor closer to erupting – than before. Now, however, they have used advanced techniques to make a complete image of the system that carries hot and partly molten rock upward from the top of the Yellowstone hot-spot plume – about 40 miles beneath the surface – to the magma reservoir and the magma chamber above it.

But the deeper chamber does mean that the shallow chamber can be replenished again and again.

If that thing blows, we can all kiss our asses goodbye. But we can’t just cower in our houses in fear, can we? We have to face today’s current events, and they can be pretty awful.

Of course, as I wrote at the outset, we do have some serious political and social problems in the good old USA.

I for one am very glad I don’t live in Missouri. Remember the black woman who was elected mayor of the small town of Kinloch? The racism seemingly runs deep in that place, which isn’t far from Ferguson. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:

Alleging voter fraud, Kinloch refuses to swear in new mayor and alderman.

KINLOCH • Betty McCray, Kinloch’s newly elected Mayor, arrived at City Hall on Thursday morning with an entourage and the intention to fire multiple city employees.

But before she could enter the building, McCray was told she was the one who was out of job.

In the parking lot, McCray was met by a half-dozen police officers and City Attorney James Robinson, who held a manila envelope under his arm containing articles of impeachment.

“You can’t come in as mayor,” Robinson said. “You have been suspended.”

McCray refused to take the envelope, saying, “You may be the attorney now, but I promise you, you won’t be later.”

Robinson also told Alderman Eric Petty, an ally of McCray’s, that the board had drafted articles of impeachment against him. Petty, too, refused to accept them.

“We won,” he said. “It’s time for them to move on.”

Can you believe that? I guess it’s time for the Justice Department to investigate another Missouri police force.

Kinloch, the first city in Missouri to be incorporated by African-Americans, is situated between Ferguson and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. It once thrived with more than 10,000 residents. Then in the 1980s, the airport began buying homes for a noise-abatement program, purchasing roughly 1,360 properties. The city’s population plummeted, and poverty and blight took hold.

Today, Kinloch, which has fewer than 300 residents, is marked by pilfered coffers, shady land deals and increasingly bitter fights over the last remnants of political power.

During the past five years, the city has seen the imprisonment of a former mayor on federal fraud and theft charges, the hiring of a convicted felon as city manager, the selling of a previous city hall building to an alleged drug dealer and the unseating of at least two aldermen.

WTF do they need so many police officers for 300 residents?!

We’ll have to keep an eye on that story.

A few more reads for you, links only:

Washington Post: So far, NBC News finds Brian Williams embellished at least 11 times.

Paul Krugman on Clinton Rules.

Charles Pierce on his long-time nemesis, the goggle-eyed homonculus: Watching Scotty Blow, con’td, Road Trip. In which Scott Walker learns the difference between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Vice: Thousands Gather in Istanbul to Demand Turkey Recognize Armenian Mass Killings as Genocide.

NewJersey.com: Stephen A. Smith rips Patriots’ Tom Brady: You had time for George Bush, but not Barack Obama? For once, I have to agree with this perennial Patriots-hater.

Boston Globe: Tom Brady’s White House Absence: The 10 Most Interesting Theories.

Right now I’m wondering if I can even root for Brady next season–especially after I heard he was spotted at an Apple store in NYC last night.

Raw Story: Tennessee Gov. Haslam signs bill allowing handguns in parks.

Talking Points Memo: 2009 Memo Describes Concerns About Oklahoma Deputy’s Training.

ABC News: Each Death in Baltimore Makes Mistrust Harder to Overcome.

New York Times First Draft: Christie’s Wife Leaves Wall Street Job. So the scandal-plagued NJ governor must be planning to run for the GOP nomination.

USA Today: How the Comcast, Time-Warner Deal Unraveled. YAY!!!! One for the good guys.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a nice weekend.