Posted: February 28, 2017 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics
Everyone talks about how great California is, but US News found that Massachusetts is the best state in the country for a number of reasons.
Bay State’s Public Schools, Health Care, Economy Stand Out.
A sunset cruise along Boston’s Charles River unravels the story and strengths of this state which opened the first public park, the first colonial college and the first American subway. The spire of Harvard Memorial Church rises majestically near the columns of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the Cambridge side of the river. On the other side, Boston’s skyline encompasses the old and the new, the state Capitol’s golden dome and the high-rise Prudential and John Hancock towers. The cruise runs past some of the world’s best universities – the first, founded as New College and later Harvard in 1636 — some of the nation’s best hospitals, a museum of science, innovation district and world-class research facilities.
Its vibrant academic environment, innovative and supportive health care policies and modernizing economy, measure for measure, make this small New England powerhouse with a population of 6.8 million the strongest state of all.
“Our economy is among the strongest in the nation,” Gov. Charlie Baker said at his second State of the Commonwealth address in January. “Over the past two years we’ve added 120,000 jobs. Today more people are working than at any time in the past 20 years. And our welfare caseload has dropped 25 percent. The companies of the future are moving to Massachusetts, bringing millions in private investment. While new companies are born here every day.”
These business births, low unemployment, several measures of educational achievement and successful health care have combined to drive the Bay State to the overall No. 1 place in U.S. News and World Report’s Best States rankings.
Several other listings have pushed Massachusetts to the top of livability lists, its unpredictable New England weather never really a deterrent. Many surveys have shown it as the best state for education, best for health care, and best in socio-economic living conditions. But this is a unique, comprehensive accolade.
There’s much more detail at the link if you’re interested.
I guess that should give me hope, because I’m having a terrible problem at the moment. My new living situation is becoming a nightmare.
There is a man down the hall from me who smokes constantly and the smoke fills my apartment all day long until late at night. My lungs are on fire, my eyes are bright red, and my chest is tight. I didn’t notice it at first–I don’t know if he was away for awhile or what. But lately it has become unbearable.
I’ve been complaining since last week with little success. This morning I learned that I’m not the only one complaining. The man has even received a warning letter. But he still smokes constantly and won’t go outside. This is a non-smoking building–I actually had to sign a long detailed addendum to the lease explaining why no one is allowed to smoke in the building or even on the sidewalk outside. The woman who is in charge of these housing issues told me this morning that “There’s nothing to get so upset about,” and “it is a process.” She said he will probably have to be evicted, but who knows how long that could take?
If anyone has any suggestions about how I can protect myself from the smoke, I’d greatly appreciate it. I have ordered a face mask that is supposed to come today, and I’ve been looking into air purifiers. Obviously, I can’t afford anything very expensive. To let you know how bad it is, I’m sitting in front of an open doorway to the outside with a fan blowing out. All of my windows are open. Yet I can still feel the smoke in my throat and lungs and taste it in my mouth. And I’m freezing cold.
Now some news.
As we discussed yesterday, tRump is going to give a speech to Congress tonight at 9PM Eastern. The speech will be all over TV. MSNBC is going to have a special report about it at midnight–I’ll be you can hardly wait. I will probably watch, because I just can’t stop myself, but I’ll keep checking in here in case people post something to cheer us all up. I’ll try to do that too.
Here’s some background on how other presidents handled their first addresses to Congress, from Susan Page at USA Today:
In their first speech to a joint session of Congress, newly elected presidents traditionally identify their legislative priorities and outline policy details beyond the soaring rhetoric of their inaugural address delivered a few weeks earlier.
So that’s already a big difference from tRump, since his inaugural speech was definitely not “soaring rhetoric.” Page lists each of the last five presidents and how they handled the speech.
President Barack Obama addresses joint session of Congress, Feb. 24, 2009.
Context: The United States was in the midst of a financial meltdown.
Message to Congress: “We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before. The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation.”
Domestic policy: Stimulus bill had just been enacted. Proposed rescue plans for big banks and the auto industry, and tax hikes for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. “Health care reform cannot wait; it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.”
Foreign policy: “In words and deeds, we are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun. For we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America.”
Read Obama’s full speech
Read the other four summaries at the link.
The attacks on Jewish facilities has reached shocking levels since tRump became president. Yesterday there were bomb threats in 11 states. NPR:
Bomb threats forced evacuations at Jewish schools and community centers in 11 states Monday, with the Jewish Community Center Association confirming threats in states ranging from Florida to Michigan. In Ann Arbor, Mich., police gave the all-clear after a Hebrew day school was threatened, forcing students to leave.
“Today, bomb threats were called into schools and/or JCCs in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia,” the JCC Association of North America says. “Many affected institutions have already been declared clear and have returned to regular operations. All previous bomb threats to JCCs this year were determined to be hoaxes.”
In Ann Arbor, police are working with the FBI after receiving an “unusually specific” threat about a bomb in a backpack, Michigan Radio’s Kate Wells reports. After detection dogs were brought in, police allowed students to return to school — but Wells calls the scene “surreal,” with news crews and police still hovering around the school.
More at the link.
Stroum Jewish Community Center, Mercer Island, WA
Here’s a specific report from KOMO News in Washington state: Mercer Island Jewish community center evacuated due to bomb threat.
The Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island was evacuated after a bomb threat was called in Monday evening, according to Mercer Island Police.
Police were called to the community center around 4:45 p.m. after a staff member received the threat over the phone.
“I just came to pick up my daughter and it was very scary, and this is uncalled for,” said Cecilia Yeung, who still appeared shaken as she walked her child to their car.
Staff members immediately began evacuating the building. Officers said about 250 people were inside at the time, many of them children.
“We were just told, hey, it’s time to evacuate, we got to get all the kids out,” said Kristin Mannari, a teacher at the community center.
Of course, tRump has had nothing to say about these threats or the vandalism at Jewish cemeteries. He doesn’t seem to care about the attacks on muslims and on immigrants generally either. In Kansas, people are beginning to ask questions about this creepy attitude.
The Kansas City Star editorializes: Trump’s silence on deadly Olathe shooting is disquieting.
At some point, embarrassingly late begins to verge on something more disquieting.
President Donald Trump has silently planted himself in that space.
Nearly a week has passed since two India-born engineers were singled out and shot at an Olathe bar, presumably because they were immigrants, darker in skin tone and possibly viewed by the shooter as unwanted foreigners….
Trump has offered no words of condolence for the grieving widow of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who died from his gunshot wounds.
The president has expressed no sympathy for Kuchibhotla’s best friend, Alok Madasani, who continues to recover from bullet wounds and the trauma.
Trump usually loves to celebrate all-American heroes. But he’s passed on commending Ian Grillot, a bystander who leapt to take the gunman down before anyone else was harmed. Grillot was shot, too.
Surely the White House team could have cobbled together a statement of some sort, a response to at least address growing fears that the U.S. is unwelcoming of immigrants, or worse, that the foreign-born need to fear for their lives here. The deadly incident in Olathe has resonated across the country and even around the globe.
Srinivas Kuchibhotla with wife Sunayana Dumala. Source: Sunayana Dumala/Facebook
The widow of Srinivas Kuchibhotla wants answers (also from The Kansas City Star):
Two days after her husband was shot to death in an Olathe bar, the widow of Srinivas Kuchibhotla on Friday publicly sought answers to what she perceived was a spread in American hate crimes.
“I have a question in my mind: Do we belong?” said Sunayana Dumala, who like her husband traveled from India to attend a U.S. college.
“We’ve read many times in newspapers of some kind of shooting happening,” she said at a news conference at the headquarters of Garmin, where Kuchibhotla worked as an aviation systems engineer. “And we always wondered, how safe?”
Of the two of them, she said, she was most concerned, asking her reassuring husband: “Are we doing the right thing of staying in the United States of America?”
Dumala is returning to India for Kuchibhotla’s funeral. She said she wanted to come back to their home in south Olathe, fulfilling her husband’s wishes for an American life and “me being successful in any field I choose.
But before making that decision, “I need an answer,” she said. “I need an answer from the government. …What are they going to do to stop this hate crime?”
Sadly, she’s not likely to get any answers from tRump. He is incapable of such empathy.
And of course many other immigrants are living in fear now. Here’s an article at The Washington Post about the family of the woman who was deported from Arizona after she showed up for a routine immigration meeting. Her husband is also undocumented and fears being deported too.
Her kids returned to their Phoenix home, but it suddenly felt different, empty. People like their mother apparently weren’t welcome here. As a country reevaluated its position on undocumented immigrants, they would have to reevaluate a life without the one who mattered most to them.
Their father — who allowed himself to be photographed but asked not to be identified by name because he, too, fears being deported — looked to his right at the dinner table, where his wife, “Lupita,” would usually sit, sharing a glass of Coca-Cola with him.
Her lunchbox sat on the kitchen counter where she left it after returning from her custodial job two days before she was detained. The Christmas tree stood in the corner, adorned with a snowflake ornament Angel made in the second grade, “Mom” scribbled on one side. Hanging next to it was a three-foot painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
It’s heartbreaking, but please read the story anyway.
Take care of yourselves today, Sky Dancers!
Posted: February 27, 2017 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, Crime, Donald Trump, Federal Budget | Tags: Chads, Krewe of Chad, mardi gras, New Orleans, white male entitlement
It’s a beautiful day for Carnival Season today!
It’s warm and sunny! We’re so overrun by tourists that it’s not the weather keeping me inside. It’s work and the Krewe of Chad who all seem to be obnoxiously planted in the nasty Air BNBs around me. This season totally lacks the intimacy and family feeling of the Katrina one and the ones from years ago, that’s for sure! The pictures on this post are ones I took at Endymion 2006 which was the first Carnival season after Hurricane Katrina.
Here’s a friend of mine telling you all about our Chad problem. They’re a pesky tribe of entitled 20-30 something white men that are related to “bros” but not quite in the same category. You can also find the definition of “Chad” in the urban dictionary. Our Chads have turned parade going into a tail gating experience where they literally shove small children and families out of the way to plant their tents and keggers.
A stereotypical douchebag asshole/jock/frat boy/ with an ego the size of the planet, who needs a swift roundhouse kick to the jaw, ala Chuck Norris style (though if actually issued by Norris, this punishment may be too extreme, even s of for a chad). Basically, they think they’re the best at everything, love to talk shit, and are a general nuisance in every way possible.
A chad is somewhat easy to sight, as they’re everywhere, but the only way to know for sure is to talk to/observe one. They typically dress in a similar manner to a “bro”, though are not in fact bros. They either wear the latest fashionable clothing from big brands, or highly expensive graphic tees, most likely of the MMA (Mixed martial arts) variety. They most likely sport a tribal tattoo, or something of the like. They most commonly drive V6 Mustangs, S10 pickup trucks, or crotch rockets.
Chads can be found in large numbers at Frat houses, local hipster bars, and nu metal concerts (which are obviously real metal shows…). They often travel in groups of a few, but can be found in swarms at these establishments. Other than being cocky and talking shit, other popular pastimes of chads include, but are not limited to: beer pong, racing hondas, UFC, and blasting nu metal on their stereo because they think it makes them look like a badass.
The Endymion parade on the Saturday night before Mardi Gras is usually ground zero for the Chads. This weekend it took a deadly twist when a highly intoxicated Chad drove his pick up truck into a group of parade goers injuring small children and adults. Thankfully, no one was killed. Of course, all the right wingers initially screamed it was a terrorist.But no, it was just a Fucked up Chad in a Pick up Fuck as white as can be. His grandma and his Daddy think some evil man gave him a drink that kicked his blood alcohol up to over 3x the legal limit because, obviously, he’s a “good” kid. That means he’s a white boy and they just get led astray every now and then rather than do these constantly stupid things that make them feel good and ruin every one else’s life.
The man accused of being behind the wheel, 25-year-old Neilson Rizzuto of Paradis, had his first court appearance Sunday. His bond was set at $125,000. Rizzuto has so far been booked on two counts of first-degree negligent vehicular injuring, one count of hit-and-run driving causing serious injury and one count of reckless operation of a vehicle. Orleans Parish Magistrate Commissioner Robert Blackburn said he based the bond amount on anticipation of more charges.
The latest figures from officials say that Rizzuto’s truck struck up to 32 pedestrians, sending at least 21 to area hospitals for treatment. While an NOPD statement said there were “at least 28 victims, 21 of whom were treated at local hospitals, Rizzuto’s arrest documents said 32 people were struck. NOPD spokesman Beau Tidwell said the casualty list was “fluid.”
Fortunately–as I said–no one has died but it appears that five still have very serious injuries I’m really hoping that the city will rethink its strategy of pimping us out like it’s all good. I’ve never seen so many tourists all over the neighborhoods. I have no idea how the police are coping with it. Usually, they’re concentrated in a few places. I feel invaded here.
Tomorrow is Mardi Gras and the State of the Union Address. I cannot bring myself to blog or watch it. Here are some reads to indicate why the so-called President will only be an illegitimate Russian Usurper to me. We have a problem with more than Chads. We have a problem with White Male Terrorism and Kremlin Caligulia is a conduit and catalyst. How many times have we written about this and discussed it only to find it ignored and enabled by Republicans?
Adam W. Purinton was charged with first-degree murder Thursday in the shooting death of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old systems engineer from India. Purinton, a 51-year-old white man, allegedly shot Kuchibhotla and two other men at Austin’s Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas, Wednesday night.
According to one witness, Purinton’s attack was motivated by bias. The Navy veteran reportedly shouted, “Get out of my country,” before opening fire on Kuchibhotla and another Indian engineer, Alok Madasani, who is 32. Purinton also shot a third victim, a 24-year-old white man named Ian Grillot, who stepped in to intervene.
“[It] wasn’t right,” Grillot — who is in stable condition, along with Madasani — said in a video obtained by the Kansas City Star. “I didn’t want [Purinton] to potentially go after somebody else.”
If Purinton’s attack was indeed spurred by xenophobia, then Wednesday’s shooting was an act of terrorism. At a time when anti-Muslim hate crimes are rising across the United States and President Donald Trump is ordering roundups of undocumented immigrants and banning Muslims from entering the country under the pretense of national security, there are few more potent forms of political violence than the kind committed by white Americans against non-whites, Muslims and immigrants.
This is not a new phenomenon. White terrorism has shaped the U.S. in countless ways, seen and unseen, for years. But in their rush to paint Muslims and immigrants as the most pressing threat to Americans’ safety, many whites and conservatives refuse to admit that homegrown white terrorism has been a threat for much longer — and with a much higher .
The White House has been silent and still plans on instructing law enforcement to focus on a small piece of our violence problem.
Earlier this month, for example, at the Louvre Museum in Paris, a young man attacked a group of soldiers: Wielding a machete, he ran at them shouting in Arabic, “Allahu akbar.” Police shot and subdued the suspect, who was taken into custody with serious injuries. The attempted attack placed terrorism back in the headlines of French politics, renewing fears and concerns around security and immigration. Here in the United States, President Donald Trump used the incident to justify his exclusionary policies toward Muslim immigrants and refugees. “A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down,” said Trump on Twitter. “France on edge again. GET SMART U.S.” This was of a piece with statements Trump made in the wake of incidents in Nice, France, Berlin, and other attacks overseas claimed by militant Islamist groups.
There was no such statement about the two men in Kansas. No condemnation of the racial violence that grievously wounded an American and claimed the life of a law-abiding legal resident. But then, Trump is rarely interested in those incidents. Just two days after the attempted attack in France, 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette shot and killed six worshippers at a mosque in Quebec City. Described by activists as a “white nationalist,” Bissonnette was known locally as a right-wing, anti-immigrant troll inspired by extreme right-wing figures like Donald Trump and France’s Marine Le Pen. Where Trump was vocal in the face of the incident in Paris, he was silent following the murders in Quebec. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the attack “a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant and why the president is taking steps to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to our nation’s safety and security,” which reads as a defense of the administration’s travel ban. This was an odd choice of words, as Bissonnette was a native-born white Canadian, not a refugee or Muslim immigrant.
We continue to experience the suppression of dissent and of truth. We get nothing on the ongoing attacks on Jewish Cemeteries and bomb threats made to JCCs. Philadelphia is the latest place to have cemetery desecration. As usual, American communities of Muslims has been more responsive and helpful than the Republicans.
Here’s more examples of things to file under removing democracy from the country. The White House removed Democratic Governors from a joint Press Conference.
Monday morning, Trump put an end to the bipartisan post National Governors Association and President press availability by shuttling the Democratic governors off site.
The plan is for us to become a military state as far as I can tell.
President Trump will propose a federal budget that dramatically increases defense-related spending by $54 billion while cutting other federal agencies by the same amount, according to an administration official.
The proposal represents a massive increase in federal spending related to national security, while other priorities, especially foreign aid, will see significant reductions.
According to the White House, the defense budget will increase by 10 percent. But without providing any specifics, the administration said that most other discretionary spending programs will be slashed to pay for it. Officials singled out foreign aid, one of the smallest parts of the federal budget, saying it would see “large reductions” in spending.
The military budget is by far the largest chunk of change in our budget historically. The rest are pittance by comparison. I imagine it all will be announced tomorrow night.
We typically have a SOTU live blog here at Sky Dancing. I’m really sure I’m not up to it and I’m not sure any one else is interested so we can discuss below and see what comes of it. Let us know your thoughts. Maybe BB or JJ are stronger willed than me.
So, have a good few days! I’ll take pix if I decide to hit the streets in search of beads and fun! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: February 26, 2017 Filed under: morning reads, open thread
Exact definition of the phrase, “You have a face that looks like a cat’s ass!”
Mona had this image above shared on her Facebook yesterday, I don’t know where she found it but isn’t it a beauty!
Ass. I’ve been looking at a lot of ass lately.
I think I’ve spent more time the last few days looking deeply into a giraffe’s ass than I have looked into any animal’s backside in my entire lifetime.
That is the live feed for the Animal Adventures Park in upstate New York, where their pregnant giraffe April has been in labor for the past 4 or 5 days…from the zoo’s facebook page:
So many people world wide have been tuning in to see April stand around and eat…especially those of us here in the US…I think it reflects the state of the tRump situation we are in; people are willing, no…preferring to flip to a live feed via YouTube and stay glued to their little phone screens for hours watching a giraffe’s ass to escape the disaster, chaos driven, hatefulness that is parading around as our current Administration. For April’s ass, yeah…I am using a cooch of an expecting giraffe here, has become the symbol of hope for America. The one pussy tRump wouldn’t be caught dead grabbing! Folks are embracing this emblem of Giraffa camelopardalis motherhood as a figurehead of a new Columbia for America. I’m not kidding…think about it.
April, a giraffe…a creature not native to America…but here she is…in labor, on live TV. Everyone is focused on her crotch. Giving birth completely controlled, however at the same time, giving hope as well. Is it the Handmaid’s Tale, honest animal conservation or Alex Haley’s Queen.
Yet, let us take it one step further….the giraffe’s name. April. She has to have one of the most generic of American girl names, something as close to “Fern” as one can get in terms of type-casting someone who would work at a dairy queen. (Movie quote from the film Baby Boom, when JC articulates the reason she could not give up the baby girl she inherited up for adoption.)
I just couldn’t hand her to a woman that calls her husband sir, it gave me the chills, her life flashed before my eyes and then suddenly I saw her with frosty pink lipstick wearing a dairy queen uniform.
This giraffe represents everyone!
Okay…now for some links. Because it is Sunday, and I am avoiding tRumpelforeskin as much as possible, the articles are obviously sans tRump. They will also be in dump format because I must make the rest of this post quick. On a side note, images are from women in Navy recruitment posters. My daughter…if everything goes as planned, will be swearing in on Tuesday. She is enlisting in the US Navy. I am very proud of her. I can’t believe I will be a Navy Mama. This is a huge step for her and I support her decision and think she is tough as hell to be joining the Navy.
The first few links are on the latest literary find:
Walt Whitman’s lost novel The Life and Adventures of Jack Engle found | Books | The Guardian
Lost Walt Whitman Novel Discovered By Grad Student : The Two-Way : NPR
Whitman’s Secret Novel
…some hotshot grad student has tracked down Life and Adventures of Jack Engle, a swashbuckling mystery novel by one Walt Whitman, who published it without credit in New York’s Sunday Dispatch circa 1852. The novel, as Jennifer Schuessler writes, boasts “antic twists, goofy names, and suddenly revealed conspiracies,” but it’s at its best when its hero loses the plot and pauses for some Leaves of Grass–style musing: “Jack enters the cemetery at Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan, and the madcap plot grinds to a halt in favor of reveries about nature, immortality and the oneness of being that strikingly echo the imagery of Whitman’s great work. ‘Long, rank grass covered my face,’ says Jack, the first-person narrator. ‘Over me was the verdure, touched with brown, of trees nourished from the decay of the bodies of men.’ Jack wanders among those bodies of men, copying out the inscriptions of the tombstones of Alexander Hamilton, the War of 1812 hero Capt. James Lawrence (of ‘Don’t give up the ship!’ fame) and other lost lives. Then, he exits onto the streets, where ‘onward rolled the broad, bright current’—and quickly and rather indifferently wraps up his own story.”
In a Walt Whitman Novel, Lost for 165 Years, Clues to ‘Leaves of Grass’ – The New York Times
Readers who picked up The New York Times on March 13, 1852, might have seen a small advertisement on Page 3 for a serial tale set to begin the next day in a rival newspaper.
“A RICH REVELATION,” the ad began, teasing a rollicking story touching on “the Manners and Morals of Boarding Houses, some Scenes from Church History, Operations in Wall-st.,” and “graphic Sketches of Men and Women” (presented, fear not, with “explanations necessary to properly understand what it is all about”).
It was a less than tantalizing brew, perhaps. The story, which was never reviewed or reprinted, appears to have sunk like a stone.
But now comes another rich revelation: The anonymously published tale was nothing less than a complete novel by Walt Whitman.
The 36,000-word “Life and Adventures of Jack Engle,” which was discovered last summer by a graduate student, is being republished online on Monday by The Walt Whitman Quarterly Review and in book form by the University of Iowa Press. A quasi-Dickensian tale of an orphan’s adventures, it features a villainous lawyer, virtuous Quakers, glad-handing politicians, a sultry Spanish dancer and more than a few unlikely plot twists and jarring narrative shifts.
“This is Whitman’s take on the city mystery novel, a popular genre of the day that pitted the ‘upper 10 thousand’ — what we would call the 1 percent — against the lower million,” said David S. Reynolds, a Whitman expert at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Here is the book online: Walt Whitman Quarterly Review | Vol 34 | No. 3
And here is the book for sale: Life and Adventures of Jack Engle | University of Iowa Press
Sticking with books…here is an interesting one, check out this review: A Railroad Runs Through a Tale of Two Kenyas – NYTimes.com
More stories for you this Sunday afternoon.
Where were all the women in the Stone Age?
Were there any women around in the Palaeolithic Era? If popular culture is any guide you’d think not. And even archaeology itself has a long way to go to address a deeply ingrained bias towards men.
It’s obvious that without women Homo sapiens could hardly be here today. But our cultural imaginings of the Palaeolithic evoke images of ‘man the hunter’ or ‘man the tool maker’ because that’s how our evolution has largely been portrayed by scientists and artists (with a few notable exceptions).
Crouched Medieval Burials Found in Siberia – Archaeology Magazine
Countries the U.S. Lags Behind Regarding Transgender Rights | The Mary Sue
Depression Leading Cause Of Disability, More Likely To Affect Women, WHO Reports : HEALTH : Tech Times
How We Read Emotions Is Linked To How Our Eyes See: Study : HEALTH : Tech Times
Chaco dynasty in Pueblo Bonito: DNA evidence proves a maternal dynasty existed in North America 1,200 years ago — Quartz
An ancient North American dynasty ruling parts of the what is now the southwestern US 1,200 years ago used to only pass its power to elites born from powerful women, according to new DNA evidence.
In a paper published in the journal Nature Communications on Feb. 21., scientists reported work done on DNA material from buried skeletons discovered at Pueblo Bonito, an archaeological ruin in Chaco Canyon, in northern New Mexico. The building was one of the “great houses” of the Chaco society; its 650 rooms housed hundreds of Chacoans over a 330-year dynasty starting in 800 CE.
The complexity of the colossal architecture reflects how advanced the Chaco society—part of the larger Ancestral Puebloan civilization—was.
I hope you enjoy those reads…now just because I chose to avoid tRump does not mean you don’t have to avoid him in the comments. Post links to whatever you want, it is an open thread.
Posted: February 25, 2017 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, U.S. Politics
The weather is usually weird here in New England, but this is ridiculous. Yesterday it was 74 degrees here in the late afternoon–in February! Today it’s already 66 outside and inside my apartment it’s 77 degrees! I’m sitting in front of a fan at the moment with all the windows and the door to the balcony open. What the hell is happening? From CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller:
This month continues to defy the calendar, with over 4,400 record highs stretching from the northern US border to the south since February 1. In that same timeframe, only 29 record lows have been recorded.
The trees are responding accordingly — to the weather, that is, not the calendar — and are producing leaves as far north as The District of Columbia. According to the USA National Phenology Network, spring is arriving a full three weeks early. Call it Februmarch….
The heat of “Februmarch” will peak across the eastern half of the country on Friday, as southerly winds ahead of the storm system moving across the Great Lakes pull up warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.
Supposedly it will get cooler here tomorrow. I sure hope so or I’m going to need more fans.
Today’s news is full of Trump-Russia connections. Here’s some breaking news from DC Report about tRump’s choice for Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross.
A study prepared exclusively for DCReport.org by James S. Henry reveals deep financial ties between Donald Trump’s nominee for Commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, and three Russian oligarchs, whose lives and fortunes depend on staying in the good graces of Vladimir Putin.
These connections raise many new questions about Trump’s reliance on the Putin regime, which all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies say interfered in the presidential election on Trump’s behalf, but which Trump disputes.
These relationships between nominee Ross and the oligarchs involve ownership and management of a European bank with a reputation for laundering Russian money and making bad loans.
The study also compared flight records of Trump’s campaign plane and a plane used by one of the oligarchs. During the campaign, the two planes often were at the same airports at the same time.
You’ll want to check that piece out if you’re interested in this developing scandal.
Here’s some more surprising news from The San Diego Union Tribune: Issa calls for special prosecutor on Russian interference in election.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, said on Friday that a special prosecutor needs to lead an investigation into the alleged ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Issa made the comments to talk show host Bill Maher on HBO. Maher asked about allegations of Russian hacking and interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Issa initially said House and Senate committees would investigate, and then Maher asked about the idea of an independent counsel handling the matter instead of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“You cannot have somebody — a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and who is an appointee,” Issa said. “You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute and office — not just to recuse, you can’t just give it to your deputy, that’s another political appointee — you do have to do that.”
Issa then went on to explain why he believes such an investigation is needed, criticizing Putin.
“There may or may not be fault,” Issa said. “But the American people are beginning to understand that Putin murders his enemies, sometimes right in front of the Kremlin, and then suddenly the cameras don’t work there. He’s murdered people and taken down using cyber warfare in Georgia and Ukraine. This is a bad guy who murders people who runs a gas station with an economy the size of Italy but is screwing up things all over the world that we’ve been doing ‘working with.’ Now we have to work with them. We don’t have to trust them, and we need to investigate their activities, and we need to do it because they are bad people.”
That sure seems significant. Darrell Issa? Wow!
Donald Trump is already making the same mistakes that led to Richard Nixon’s downfall over the Watergate scandal. In addition to his direct attacks on the media, he and his pals are trying to interfere with the FBI’s investigation of ties between Trump and Russia. From The Washington Post last night: Trump administration sought to enlist intelligence officials, key lawmakers to counter Russia stories.
The Trump administration has enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress in efforts to counter news stories about Trump associates’ ties to Russia, a politically charged issue that has been under investigation by the FBI as well as lawmakers now defending the White House.
Acting at the behest of the White House, the officials made calls to news organizations last week in attempts to challenge stories about alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, U.S. officials said.
The calls were orchestrated by the White House after unsuccessful attempts by the administration to get senior FBI officials to speak with news organizations and dispute the accuracy of stories on the alleged contacts with Russia.
The White House on Friday acknowledged those interactions with the FBI but did not disclose that it then turned to other officials who agreed to do what the FBI would not — participate in White House-arranged calls with news organizations, including The Washington Post.\The decision to involve those officials could be perceived as threatening the independence of U.S. spy agencies that are supposed to remain insulated from partisan issues, as well as undercutting the credibility of ongoing congressional probes. Those officials saw their involvement as an attempt to correct coverage they believed to be erroneous.
The effort also involved senior lawmakers with access to classified intelligence about Russia, including Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees. A spokesman for Nunes said that he had already begun speaking to reporters to challenge the story and that, “at the request of a White House communications aide, Chairman Nunes then spoke to an additional reporter and delivered the same message.”….
In an interview, Burr acknowledged that he “had conversations about” Russia-related news reports with the White House and engaged with news organizations to dispute articles by the New York Times and CNN that alleged “repeated” or “constant” contact between Trump campaign members and Russian intelligence operatives.
Nunes and Burr are the chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence committees that are supposedly investigating Trump’s Russia ties!
More from The Guardian:
“The White House appears to have violated accepted protocols and procedures,” said former FBI special agent Ali Soufan.
“As an FBI agent, we always know there shouldn’t be any appearance of political interference over a pending investigation. Any kind of appearance of political influence will be considered against existing protocols and procedures.”
Another retired FBI special agent, Michael German, said the FBI leadership had potentially jeopardized an investigation.
“It is illegal for an FBI employee to take information from an ongoing criminal investigation and share it with a potential witness or subject of that investigation. Obviously, if the justice department ultimately initiates a prosecution in this matter, this purported conversation would be exculpating evidence. Again, if it is true that high bureau officials believe the current FBI investigation is [bullshit], they should close the investigation and be prepared to justify this decision, not leak their opinion to anyone outside of the investigation”, German said.
Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee – which is also investigating Trump’s ties to Russia – called on Comey to explain the communications.
“Politicized assertions by White House chief of staff Priebus about what may or may not be the findings of an FBI investigation are exactly the wrong way for the public to hear about an issue that is of grave consequence to our democracy. The American people deserve real transparency, which means Director Comey needs to come forward, in an open hearing, and answer questions,” Wyden told the Guardian.
Comey really needs to go or else recuse himself from this investigation.
Trump is also following the example of the Bush/Cheney admistration, in that he is attempted to force DHS intelligence experts to tailor their reports to justify his muslim ban. The Wall Street Journal reports: Donald Trump Rejects Intelligence Report on Travel Ban.
An intelligence report by the Department of Homeland Security contradicts the White House’s assertion that immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries pose a particular risk of being terrorists and should be blocked from entering the U.S.
The report is the latest volley in a struggle between intelligence officials and the Trump administration that has rippled across several agencies. Some officials have critiqued administration policies, while the president and senior members of his staff have accused officials of leaking information to undermine his administration and the legitimacy of his election.
The report, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, came from Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. It said that its staff “assesses that country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity.” The White House on Friday dismissed it as politically motivated and poorly researched.
The compilation and disclosure of an intelligence report so directly at odds with top White House priorities marks an unusually sharp rupture between the administration and career public servants. It also underscores the difficulty President Donald Trump has had in converting his confrontational and bombastic campaign rhetoric into public policy….
The DHS report was prepared in response to the White House request for intelligence assessments of terrorist threats posed by migration. Current and former officials with direct knowledge of the Homeland Security report said it was compiled on short notice, but that it relied on information that analysts routinely collect and examine in order to guide counterterrorism policies. The report was shared with agencies outside DHS.
Read more at the link.
I’m going to end here, because it’s getting late, and I’m hot. I think I’m going to make some iced tea. I’ll add more links in the comment thread and I hope you’ll do the same. Have a great weekend!
Posted: February 24, 2017 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: CPAC
Well, I’m awake. I’m still grading and want it over.
I want everything about Donald Trump over too. I can only wish the worst on every Trump voter and supporter on the planet. There cannot be ONE thing about them at this point that’s redeeming for having done that deed. Just that act removes them from humanity permanently.
I only have a few stories today because they sort’ve say it all.
This story from the Los Angeles Times shows that we now have no moral authority anywhere any more. Texas is once again the epicenter of man’s inhumanity to man.
A critically ill woman from El Salvador who was awaiting emergency surgery for a brain tumor was forcibly moved from a Texas hospital to a detention center by federal agents, raising concerns about President Trump’s directive to more aggressively pursue people living in the country illegally …
Sara Beltran-Hernandez, 26, a mother of two young children, was bound by her hands and feet and removed by a wheelchair belonging to wheelchair rental services in San Diego from Huguley Hospital in Fort Worth by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who brought her to a detention facility in Alvarado, Texas.
Appearing at a gathering of conservative activists alongside Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Bannon dismissed the idea that Trump might moderate his positions or seek consensus with political opponents. Rather, he said, the White House is digging in for a long period of conflict to transform Washington and upend the world order.
“If you think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken,” Bannon said in reference to the media and opposition forces. “Every day, it is going to be a fight.”
He continued, “And that is what I’m proudest about Donald Trump. All the opportunities he had to waver off this, all the people who have come to him and said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to moderate’ — every day in the Oval Office, he tells Reince and I, ‘I committed this to the American people, I promised this when I ran, and I’m going to deliver on this.’ ”
He’s really going to start an arms race at the rate he’s going. Oh, and CPAC has gotten worse if that’s possible but you can discuss that downthread. I’ve had all I can take for today already.
I am staying away from the TV definitely today unless it involves a huge disaster that kills every one at that meeting.
Stay close to the people and things that have meaning for you. For me, that includes our merry band of sky dancers who hang here with us during the worst of times and the best.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?