Happy Martin Luther King Day!!! Celebrate Civil Rights!

king-nobel-peace-prize-p

Today is the day to think about the sacrifices that were made by Civil Rights leaders and activists under the leadership of Nobel Peace Prize winner Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Today is the day we celebrate his birthday and the struggle that committed our country to fully addressing the promise of equality for all of us including those Black Americans who built this great nation under the yoke of slavery and the oppression of Jim Crow. #BLACKLIVESMATTER

I want to share this op ed written in WAPO by Michael Gerson today on why the attack on Congressman Lewis on the eve of our celebration of King’s birthday and legacy is “the essence of narcissism”.  Gerson correctly characterizes Trump’s problem as

“Trump seems to have no feel for, no interest in, the American story he is about to enter. He will lead a nation that accommodated a cruel exception to its founding creed; that bled and nearly died to recover its ideals; and that was only fully redeemed by the courage and moral clarity of the very people it had oppressed. People like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. People like John Lewis.”

Shepard-GreaterThanFearTrump has no appreciation for our roots as a nation and the sacrifice made by many men and women to bring it to where it is today.  Many of us had ancestors who did not make these sacrifices on their own terms or with consent or with recognition of their humanity which is an extremely important history to embrace.  This includes the endless humiliation and suffering of slaves and the atrocities committed against indigenous peoples.  It includes not extending the vote to woman until quite recently.  It includes not recognizing the dignity of all forms of love and being. We’ve struggled to get here and we struggle still.  Understanding the roads of our shared history is something we ask of our leaders. This shallow man who doesn’t read or appear to learn much of anything at all is preoccupied with himself alone.

A broader conception of the American story — a respect for the heroes and ghosts of our history — is absent in Trump’s public voice. He seems to be in the thrall of an eternal now. To some, the whole idea of a historical imagination will sound nebulous. Abraham Lincoln called it the “mystic chords of memory.” He hung his hopes for unity on the existence of a shared national experience that transcended regional differences. Today our divisions are more along lines of class and culture, but we also need to hear our story as one people.

Not every citizen shares this sense of history. It is a minority of Americans who visit Antietam and feel oppressed by the immense weight of collective death; or go to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis and feel sickened by the scale of such a loss; or walk across that bridge in Selma and hear the echoes of snarling dogs and nightsticks against bone.

But we need a president who respects and evokes this story — or at least does not peevishly attack its heroes.

Shepard Fairey has painted the faces of the Resistance that starts in earnest this weekend with the Woman’s March on Washington .  The faces of resistance grace today’s post along with the man who must be our role model for change.

Shepard has created three portraits for the campaign; two other artists, Colombian American muralist Jessica Sabogal and and Chicano graphic artist Ernesto Yerena, have each made one more. Together, they hope the faces of “We the People” — standing in for traditionally marginalized groups or those specifically targeted during Trump’s presidential campaign — will flood Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day.

Fairey is collaborating with the Amplifier Foundation, a nonprofit that works to amplify grassroots movements and which commissioned the project. After learning that large-sized signs were prohibited at Inauguration, Amplifier came up with a hack to distribute the posters. Their plan: to buy full-page ads in the Washington Post on Jan. 20 that feature the “We the People” images, which can be torn out and carried as placards, or hung and posted around town. The posters will also be distributed at metro stops, from moving vans and other drop spots on Inauguration Day, as well as posted online for free download. A Kickstarter campaign for “We the People” has raised more than $148,000 since it was launched Tuesday night.

Today, his future press secretary has done the same thing that White House Mommy WE THE RESILIENT FINAL WITH TYPE !!!has said.  Do not be mean to Kremlin Caligula with the implication that some Russian Goon will visit us with brass knuckles if we continue not to accept his mocking of the disabled, his horrible treatment of Gold Star Parents who are Muslim and immigrants, his history of serial sexual assault and degradation of women and his fixation with SNL. The talk is that the White House Press will be sent to some far off administration building and out of their newly built offices in the White House.   Spicer wants Acosta and CNN to apologize for not treating the Toddler headed to the White House like an adult capable of answering questions germane to his job.

We’re about to become the anathema of the free world. Interviews with Hair Furor have set off shivers from our allies. Here’s some analysis from Martin Longman writing for Washington Monthly.

If Donald Trump has the goal of destroying American power, breaking up the European Union, dismantling NATO, lifting Russian sanctions, and helping to elect a bunch of Russian-aligned far right fascist parties in Western Europe, at least he’s willing to tell us exactly that. There’s very little subtlety about it at this point, and the only fig leaf he’s going to offer is the prospect that Putin will agree to some kind of reduction in our respective nuclear arsenals.

Is that a fair trade?

I don’t think so.

Donald Trump called NATO obsolete, predicted that other European Union members would follow the U.K. in leaving the bloc…

…Trump predicted that Britain’s exit from the EU will be a success and portrayed the EU as an instrument of German domination designed with the purpose of beating the U.S. in international trade. For that reason, Trump said, he’s fairly indifferent to whether the EU stays together, according to Bild…

…The Times quoted Trump as saying he was interested in making “good deals with Russia,” floating the idea of lifting sanctions…

“…[NATO is] obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago,” Trump said in the Bild version of the interview. “Secondly, countries aren’t paying what they should” and NATO “didn’t deal with terrorism.” The Times quoted Trump saying that only five NATO members are paying their fair share…

…With Merkel facing an unprecedented challenge from the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany as she seeks a fourth term this fall, Trump was asked whether he’d like to see her re-elected. He said he couldn’t say, adding that while he respects Merkel, who’s been in office for 11 years, he doesn’t know her and she has hurt Germany by letting “all these illegals” into the country.

Since when are Syrian refugees allowed into a country for the purpose of asylum “illegals”?   NATO obsolete?  Where the hell is this mad man taking us?  Hey you … you’ve under an asterisk next to your name as president* the same way pumped up druggie athletes get one.

 

How long can our institutions endure these assaults?  Trumps appointments are as compromised as he is and they’re all freaking crooks.

Here’s the latest in the ethics issues that we’re told aren’t happening/don’t exist.final after mask newest

A multi-million dollar expansion of President-elect Donald Trump’s golf resort in Scotland is reportedly underway just days after his attorneys said no new foreign deals would be made.

Expansion plans for the Trump International Golf Course Scotland in Aberdeenshire include a second 18-hole golf course and a new 450-room five-star hotel, timeshare complex and private housing estate, The Guardian reported Saturday.

Trump officials claim the venture does not conflict with the president-elect’s promise not to pursue new or “pending deals” during his presidency to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Shepard-ProtectEachOtherSo, here’s something interesting.  Anonymous is going after Trump.  

The exchange began with Anonymous repeating accusations from sources that Trump has deep “financial and personal ties with Russian mobsters, child traffickers, and money launderers.”

The group’s twitter feed read worthy if you want to see every piece of dirt any one has ever dug up on the guy to date.  I’m sure the hacktivists are working on more.

Shepard-DefendDignitySo, I’m still laying low and trying to figure things out. I’m looking into something that could me to an acreage on an island in the Puget Sound and it has lots of little cabins on it among other interesting things.  I’m wondering how much brave I have left in these old bones.

I’m going to the NOLA protest activities on Friday. Maybe that will inspire me.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Wednesday Reads: Homecoming Queens and Coming Home

7c2bef957966b2a31b003f2353542837Good Morning

This was going to be a kick ass post, honestly…that is what I planned it to be at least.

I’ve had some beautiful artsy links stashed away for weeks that I know you will all enjoy, but once again real life is kicking me in the ass, and I find myself writing this post in an exhausted state of mind.

The first part of September is usually busy, since both kids birthdays hit in the middle of the month…bam, bam, right after one another. Then comes the Homecoming Football game, and while the kids are not involved in that fiasco, Bebe is going to the Homecoming dance.

So as I write about a few news stories, take a look at homecoming queens from the past. Some of them are “celebrities” and I bet you will be able to spot them off the bat.

(On a side note, it was a disturbing bit of news to find out that the girl who won for one of the Homecoming court for Banjoville’s High School, got it because she sent nude pictures of herself i.e. sexting, to all the boys in her graduating class. When you see the pictures think about that nugget of insight into life as a teenager in today’s world. My daughter was disgusted about it, but as she was saying, so many of the students just take it as normal behavior. And that is what makes it disturbing as hell.)

Homecoming, October 15, 1967

Homecoming, October 15, 1967

Alrighty then….on with the day’s reads:

History of storm surge in Florida strongly underestimated | Earth | EarthSky

Northwestern Florida was thought to get hit by a hurricane with a five-meter (16-foot) storm surge every 400 years. In fact, the frequency may be every 40 years.

Wow, talk about a great way to grab you in?

Today (September 23, 2014), the American Geophysical Union released a study suggesting that the history of storm surge in the U.S. state of Florida has been strongly underestimated. They say the observational hurricane record for northwestern Florida is just 160 years long, yet hurricane activity is known to vary strongly over thousands of years. Digging back into the prehistorical hurricane record, Lin et al. find that scientists’ reliance on such a narrow slice of observations has led them to underestimate the frequency with which large hurricanes have slammed into Florida’s Gulf Coast.

c38fb51d8751154d99e4f300bf73f686Based on historical records, northwestern Florida gets hit by a hurricane packing a five-meter (16-foot) storm surge every 400 years. Incorporating long-term paleohurricane records, the authors find that the frequency of such a storm is actually closer to every 40 years.

When strong storms batter the shore, waves can carry sediment far inland. Digging down into the sediment record, researchers can reproduce the occurrence of past storm surge. Using a hurricane model and storm surge sediment observations, the authors calculated the intensity and frequency of past hurricanes in Florida’s Apalachee Bay. They find that while the frequency of hurricanes hitting the Gulf Coast has remained relatively the same over the past few thousand years, the storms’ average intensities have been, at times, much higher than during the past 160 years.

51a3f25b38f619caa24f2a3d637ffbb0Based on their paleohurricane storm surge observations, the authors suggest that, historically, northwestern Florida would see a storm surge of 6.3 meters (20.7 feet) every 100 years, 8.3 meters (27.2 feet) every 500 years, and 11.3 meters (37.1 feet) in a worst case scenario event. A storm surge of eight meters (26 feet), they say, would push tens of kilometers (miles) inland.

I don’t know how all that relates..but in other climate news:

This Poet From a Tiny Island Nation Just Shamed The World’s Leaders | Mother Jones

Presidents and diplomats aren’t the only ones calling for climate action at the United Nations. During the opening ceremony of today’s climate summit, ​Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner—a 26-year-old poet from the Marshall Islands—spoke eloquently about the threat that rising seas pose to her country.

Jetnil-Kijiner warned delegates of the high price of inaction and described the current challenge as a “race to save humanity.”

“Those of us from Oceania are already experiencing it first hand,” she said. “We’ve seen waves crashing into our homes…We look at our children and wonder how they will know themselves or their culture should we lose our islands.”

1961 Homecoming Queen of Cando High School in Cando, North Dakota

1961 Homecoming Queen of Cando High School in Cando, North Dakota

Video at link.

Now, an article on privilege. You know, the Black and Muslim kind. White Evangelicals Think They’re Discriminated Against More Than Blacks, Jews, and Muslims | The Daily Banter

The Pew Forum has released a doozy of a poll about religion in public life in the United States showing that white evangelical Christians possess grossly overdeveloped feelings of victimhood. Given that the voting bloc evangelicals comprise is one of the most heavily pandered to in American politics, and given the fact that evangelicals themselves are the cause of some very real discrimination, there is thus a mountainous irony at play here.

In a survey of 2,002 Americans, Pew found that 72% believe that religious influence is waning in the country, and sadly, 56% regard this as a “negative development.” A disturbing 59% of Americans say they want members of Congress to “have strong religious beliefs.” When it comes to discrimination, believe it or not, more Americans think that evangelicals are discriminated against than atheists. Here’s the breakdown of the religious/irreligious groups Pew asked about:

Perceptions of Discrimination in U.S.

% saying there is a lot of discrimination against…

Muslims                               59%

Jews                                      32%

Evangelical Christians      31%

Atheists                                27%

Catholics                              19%

The 1974 Homecoming Queen and her court Tucson, Arizona.

The 1974 Homecoming Queen and her court Tucson, Arizona.

Like the members of the four other groups listed here, evangelicals are probably more likely to perceive discrimination against them than they are when it comes to outside groups. However, this next breakdown shows the staggering degree to which evangelical Christians — and let’s emphasize that since that is after all the majority religious group in the country — think they are victims of discrimination:

Go to the link to see the graphs from Pew…

Notice that of white evangelicals, white mainline Protestants, black Protestants, white Catholics, Hispanic Catholics, and those who are unaffiliated with any religion, it’s white evangelicals who are much more likely to think “there is a lot of discrimination” against them, with 50% believing their demographic is discriminated against “a lot.”

1960 Homecoming Queen at the Minnesota-Ohio State game.

1960 Homecoming Queen at the Minnesota-Ohio State game.

Amazingly, white evangelicals believe there is more discrimination against them than there is against Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, Jews, and atheists. 

Tone. Deaf.

However, this will not come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to the grumblings from evangelical circles about their phantasmagoric plight in an increasingly secular society. This narrative, which has been spoon-fed to them for decades by self-serving preachers, politicians, and pundits, enables white evangelicals to interpret measures designed to stop discrimination against others as actually being discriminatory against the evangelical way of life. For example, it was just last week when televangelist Pat Robertson went on a nonsensical rant explaining why the U.S. Air Force’s decision to let an atheist reenlistee omit the words “So help me god” from his oath, was yet another instance of the armed forces being “terrorized” by secularists.

Meryl Streep 1966

Meryl Streep 1966

You know this reminds me of something I saw on Monday while taking Jake to the Endocrine doctor in Atlanta. It was a big van…maybe a church van? I don’t know, but it had two bumper stickers on it. One read, “We praise the Lord Jesus Christ at blah blah Baptist Church” and the other sticker read, “No Amnesty” Protect our southern border.”  I have to tell you, it was a van with a Georgia license plate. So, very “Christian” of them innit?

Anyway, read the rest of that Daily Banter post at the link.

Up next, a few links on Obama and Hillary. Not stories about them together however…

Obama’s top 5 “war” euphemisms: Words he’s used to avoid calling latest war a “war” – Salon.com

Listen to Obama’s remarks, however, and it’s clear that the president favors a few “special” words to describe the totally-not-a-war war the U.S. is waging in Iraq and Syria.


  1. “Effort” Perhaps Obama’s favorite euphemism for what the U.S. is up to. In his September 10 address, Obama distinguished the “wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan from the “effort” against ISIS. “This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground,” Obama explained. In his weekly address on Saturday, the president said that “[t]his is an effort that America has the unique ability to lead.”
  2. “Process” Asked in August 28 press conference whether he planned to seek congressional authorization for military action against ISIS, Obama sounded like the caricature of the professorial, technocratic president his critics purport him to be. “You know, I have consulted with Congress throughout this process,” Obama replied. “I am confident that as commander in chief I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently.”
  3. “Fight” As close as Obama’s willing to get to saying the W-word. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday before departing for the United Nations, Obama said that U.S. air strikes in Iraq and Syria were “not America’s fight alone,” echoing his September 20 address in which he said that it was “a fight in which all countries have a stake.”
  4. “Campaign” Not unlike a swing through Iowa and New Hampshire! Explaining his expansion of the war into Syria on Tuesday, the president noted, “I made clear that as part of this campaign the United States would take action against targets in both Iraq and Syria so that these terrorists can’t find safe haven anywhere.”
  5. “A Moment of American Leadership.” Concluding his radio address on Saturday, Obama called this “a moment of American leadership … a moment we will meet.” Leadership. Exceptionalism. America.

In other words, this war is totally, definitely not a war.

This is Jessica Giddens. She was announced Homecoming Queen at her school in Georgia.

This is Jessica Giddens. She was announced Homecoming Queen at her school in Georgia.

The next story is something you just need to go and read in full…it is way too convoluted to quote from. Tommy Christopher: The Reason Why President Obama Nominated a Pro-Confederate, Anti-Choice Judge | The Daily Banter

As for Hillary, more shit is being flung her way: WND: Hillary Clinton Tolerates Rape Of Women | Right Wing Watch

WorldNetDaily columnist Gina Loudon is promoting her book “What Women Really Want” by arguing​ today that Republicans should be “giddy” about the prospect of running against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race.

She calls on GOP politicians to attack Clinton for supposedly tolerating rape and other forms of violence against women: “If she stood passive while Islamic women were raped and stoned to death, what will she passively let happen to women were she president of the United States?”

Loudon goes on to claim that immigration reform and gun policy reform are part of the real “war on women.”

The first war is one where women are being serially gang-raped and stoned to death by Islamists across the world who believe women are only one-fifth of a person. If a woman is raped, under Shariah law, five men must testify that they witnessed the woman being raped. Otherwise, she is stoned to death in front of her friends and family. Christian and Jewish women are being led like lambs to slaughter by Islamists. There is definitely a war on women, but not the one the statist elites in D.C. like to pretend is happening. That is but a ruse designed to distract the simple minded.

Where are the old-school feminists who cussed conservative icons like Phyllis Schlafly and burned their bras in protest of equal pay, in the face of this bloody war on women? Do equal rights not to be stoned matter less than equal pay or birth control?

1977 Homecoming Queen of Gardendale High School in Gardendale, Alabama

1977 Homecoming Queen of Gardendale High School in Gardendale, Alabama

Where is Hillary on this? If I were GOP leadership, I would be giddy about the thought of a Hillary run. Aside from Benghazi, think about a campaign based on what she never did to stop the real war on women. If she stood passive while Islamic women were raped and stoned to death, what will she passively let happen to women were she president of the United States?

What the hell? I know, it is all shit talk. And there is more at that link.

Then you have this crap over at Politico about Chelsea and the “royal baby” What Should Chelsea Clinton Name Her Baby? – Adam B. Lerner – POLITICO Magazine

merica’s royal baby is on its way. I’m talking, of course, about the next member of the Clinton dynasty, whose arrival is by all accounts imminent. During a Sunday interview with CNN, Bill Clinton expressed his hope that “by the first of October, I’ll be a grandfather.” He also insisted that neither he nor his daughter knows whether or not the baby will be a boy or a girl.

The 1950 Homecoming Queen Candidates at Iowa State University

The 1950 Homecoming Queen Candidates at Iowa State University

Hillary Clinton weighed in too, admitting Friday that she’s “on grandbaby watch.” So, apparently, is the entire U.S. press corps. Because let’s face it: We love our own political dynasties as much as any British tabloid editor. As Mark Twain once put it, “Unquestionably the person that can get lowest down in cringing before royalty and nobility, and can get most satisfaction out of crawling on his belly before them, is an American. Not all Americans, but when an American does it he makes competition impossible.”

We admit it—much of the speculation about Chelsea Clinton’s newborn child is a bit premature and, frankly, more than a little ridiculous. It’s crazy to think that the 2016 presidential election could hinge on whether Hillary can take advantage of her new grandmotherly image, rather than, say, the state of the economy or the candidates’ positioning on other key issues.

Still, political insiders who analyze the Clintons’ every last move can rest assured: This is a family very in tune with their public image. Is it altogether nuts to think that they’d at least muse about the political opportunity presented by Chelsea’s baby?

The thing gets better, with name suggestions that are popular in Iowa and New Hampshire. One thing however, there is a picture of Chelsea with a big belly at the link.

Y’all have heard or read about the speech Emma Watson gave at the UN right? Emma Watson calls on men to help fight gender inequality: ‘It’s your issue too’

The website for  – He For She

 

The 1971 Homecoming Queen and her court in the Orange and Black yearbook of Wheaton Warrenville South High school, Wheaton, Illinois.

The 1971 Homecoming Queen and her court in the Orange and Black yearbook of Wheaton Warrenville South High school, Wheaton, Illinois.

Well, check this out: What is 4Chan? And why does it threaten women like Emma Watson? – The Independent

What or who is 4chan? And why are they such utter douchebags? That is the train of thought that presents itself at news that 4chan, implicated in the leaking of nude photos of celebrities, is now apparently targeting  Emma Watson, after the 24-year-old actress gave a rousing speech to the UN on Monday, not only addressing that favourite topic of the internet’s masses of misogynists, feminism, but daring to call for more men to take up the banner of gender equality.

Sissy Spacek, Homecoming Queen at Quitman High School, 1968

Sissy Spacek, Homecoming Queen at Quitman High School, 1968

The first question has an easy answer and a more complicated one. Simply, 4chan is an image-board website set up in 2003, by a 15-year-old insomniac. Posters start a thread with a picture; others can then comment. Loopiness runs right across the site. Users can lay some claim to setting the tastes of ‘the internet’: cats are, and have always been, big; trace the genesis of defining memes – Chocolate Rain, RickRolling – and you’ll end up somewhere in 4chan. Except, you may not. Old content on the site gets wiped to make space for the newer stuff – it’s up to other sites to archive what’s considered ‘valuable’; the jokes, the memes, the stolen nudes.

Then there’s /b/, the Random forum. It’s here that things can get a little ugly, and where the group (‘cultural movement’ is too flattering) known as Anonymous first took shape (users post as ‘Anon’ if they don’t specify a username). I spent a little time there about 5 years ago for a piece of coursework. It’s dirty and defiant about it: lots of porn, lots of racism, lots of sexism. If you object to such things, volubly, you a) won’t speak the same language of other users and b) will invite some fairly stiff abuse. Unsurprisingly, users are thought to belong predominantly in the young, white and male demographic. Humour ranges from the dark and funny to dark and hideously depressing.

 

Football Homecoming Court in the 1972

Football Homecoming Court in the 1972

It looks like many of those Anonymous hackers are part of this site:

It gets complicated when you try and define who or what Anonymous is. They are of course anonymous. Plus, there’s a loose hierarchy; when the group takes up a mass action – say, trying to shut down the Visa and Mastercard websites, in support of Julian Assange – the leaders work in tight-knit cells, then open their plans to the floor, so all the millions of other /b/ users can pile in. Gabriella Coleman, the foremost academic working on 4chan, reckons that something like a fifth of 4chan users are the ‘hackers’ that take precedence in media reporting, the rest, plain old geeks and freaks.

The thing is, since her speech, a threat against Watson has been made on the site…

All of which is to say, it’s pretty hard to tell the exact parties responsible for “Emma You Are Next” message and the countdown clock expiring in a few days’ time. There’s no such thing as a 4chan project organised from on-high but it’s perfectly that the website was set up by one or two regulars on the board. Equally possibly, they’re bluffing: /b/ has a history of hoaxing, and BusinessInsider reckons that’s what’s going on here. What isn’t in doubt, however, is that a few users have posted some vile stuff about Emma Watson: “It is real and going to happen this weekend”,  said one “That feminist b*** Emma is going to show the world she is as much of a whore as any woman.”

Homecoming Queen, 1956  The Duke University

Homecoming Queen, 1956 The Duke University

Oh, that is just a taste of the shit comments and backlash Emma is getting. It really pisses me off. Anyway, be sure to go back to the Independent article on the 4Chan site and finish reading about that sub-culture. It goes hand in hand with the attitude we see the male video gaming developers have towards women…the politicians on the Hill have towards women. And it all sucks ass.

In a related story, from earlier in September: High Schoolers Protest Sexist Dress Code That’s Landed More Than 100 Girls In Detention | ThinkProgress

Students at a Staten Island high school are frustrated with a strict new dress code that’s landing girls in detention for wearing shorts, despite the fact that many of their classrooms don’t have air conditioning. After the school reportedly gave detention to 200 kids — 90 percent of whom were female students — teens are gearing up for a protest again the rules.

84a0f6742b519415daba1831e0a00b10The interim principal at Tottenville High School recently changed the dress code to prohibit tank tops, low-cut shirts, and shorts that don’t reach fingertip length. But it’s been hot during the first few weeks of school, and students say it doesn’t make sense to crack down on them for dressing comfortably for their “sweltering” classrooms.

“That’s what girls wear when it’s hot out. It’s unfair to them,” a senior at the school told the Staten Island Advance.

[…]

Both male and female students have complained that the dress code is “sexist” and “biased” toward young women. “Tottenville should just be an all boys school considering this dress code is only affecting the girls,” one teen pointed out. Another said it was “humiliating to be pulled aside like an object” to be told that her outfit was inappropriate.

Robin Wright 1981

Robin Wright 1981

Amid the growing controversy, school district officials released a statement noting they reserve the right to enforce a dress code in cases when students’s clothing “creates a distraction, is dangerous, or interferes with the learning and teaching process.”

Schools typically justify their dress codes by maintaining that it’s important to keep the classroom free from distractions; however, that language actually reinforces the idea that women’s bodies are inherently tempting to men and it’s their responsibility to cover themselves up. Students and parents across the country are increasingly pushing back against the double standard, saying that it sends harmful messages about gender stereotypes to kids. After all, if students are taught that girls need to dress a certain way so they don’t “distract” boys, that ultimately furthers the idea that boys can’t control themselves — and that unwanted sexual attention is sometimes justified because girls are “asking for it” with their short skirts and low-cut tops.

Uh, on the “asking for it” stance, you know if they say no…there is always a way to turn that into a yes: Limbaugh on Sexual Assault: “No Means Yes If You Know How to Spot It”

Homecoming Queen and her Court, in the 1974

Homecoming Queen and her Court, in the 1974

The sweaty armpit of talk radio now fancies himself to be a “seduction” expert. On his show today, Rush Limbaugh decried Ohio State’s new policy instructing students to get explicit, verbal consent before having sex, because “no means yes if you know how to spot it.”

The context for that statement doesn’t help. Limbaugh apparently misses the good ol’ days when rape was just a “misunderstanding.” Here’s his argument, as recorded by Media Matters:

Seduction used to be an art, now of course it’s “brutish” and it’s “predatory” … [According to Ohio State policy,] consent must be freely given, can be withdrawn anytime, and the absence of “no” does not mean “yes.” How many guys, in your own experience with women, have learned that no means yes if you know how to spot it? … Are these [policies] not lawsuits waiting to happen?

Perhaps, sadly, this isn’t the case, but guys like Rush Limbaugh should expect to be arrested and prosecuted if they rape someone.

Homecoming Queen in the 1979

Homecoming Queen in the 1979

Meanwhile…you don’t want to be raped by a cop? Cop’s Tip For Not Getting Raped By A Cop: ‘Don’t Get Pulled Over’

In response to the arrests of three law enforcement officials in Oklahoma for sexually assaulting women while on the job, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper told women they can avoid getting raped by a cop if they simply follow traffic laws.

Raw Story first pointed out on Tuesday that Capt. George Brown, a state trooper, shared a few tips for women in an interview with local NBC News affiliate KJRH. Brown told the KJRH anchor that women can keep their car doors locked and speak through a cracked window if a trooper approaches them. If the trooper asks a woman to get out of the car, Brown said, she can ask “in a polite way” why he wants her to do that.

But the “best tip that he can give,” the anchor said on air of his interview with Brown, “is to follow the law in the first place so you don’t get pulled over.”

In the past month, a Tulsa County Deputy, an OHP trooper and an Oklahoma City police officer have all been charged with repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting women while on the job.

Diana Santifer - Homecoming Queen in the 1988

Diana Santifer – Homecoming Queen in the 1988

Brown said Oklahoma law enforcement officials are working to retain the public’s trust. “There are entirely more good officers than there are the few bad apples that exist out there, and we want people to know that,” Brown told KJRH. “We have a lot of good troopers, a lot of good officers out there doing a lot of good things daily, and we want to continue that and have the public continue their trust in us.”

Holy Shit! Emma Watson has a hell of a way to go in her fight to get men to treat women in a equally respectful manner.

And then there is the abortion issue: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Thinks This Justice Is Responsible For Halting Access To Abortions

Guess who Ginsburg calls out?

I will end this section of the thread with some good old fashioned pick-up lines…. The Greatest Movie Pick-Up Lines – Esquire

All 50 of them, from George Clooney to Will Ferrell and everything in between

My favorite…

“Will you marry me? Did he leave you any money? Answer the second question first.”
Groucho Marx, Duck Soup (1933)

In 1970, Doby Flowers became the first African-American women elected Homecoming Queen at FSU.

In 1970, Doby Flowers became the first African-American women elected Homecoming Queen at FSU.

Video at the link.

This post is getting real long…so on the quick:

Man confesses to ’97 crime, fearing Walmart was messaging him about woman he killed

Michael Brown memorial mysteriously burns overnight – Salon.com

Watch science-minded Breaking Bad fans send a Walter White bobblehead into the stratosphere · The A.V. Club

Scientists Capture The Sound Of A Single Atom, And Apparently It’s A ‘D-Note’

John Malkovich Morphs Into the Most Iconic Photo Subjects Ever – Esquire

Sandro Miller

Sandro Miller

That is not the famous Dorothea Lange photo. Nor are any of these photos the iconic pictures you know. Instead, they are recreations starring the one-and-only John Malkovich. In a new exhibit (opening November 7th at the Catherine Edelman Gallery) entitled, “Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich: Homage to photographic masters”, photographer Sandro Miller recreates some of photography’s most well-known pictures using the chameleon-like actor as his subject. The results are nothing short of perfect.

And I will end with this little story about being homesick for your hometown subway system. I guess we all have a homecoming we long for in our minds…(I prefer NYC subways to say, those in DC. Actually, NYC subways are exciting to me. Go figure.)…some are just darker or better mapped out than others.

New York’s subway is so hellish, I’m homesick for London’s underground | Bim Adewunmi | Comment is free | The Guardian



I am a city girl, accustomed to negotiating public transport, but faced with MTA’s needlessly complex map and messy signage, I become an overawed simpleton

New York City subway
‘You descend into the bowels of the city with no idea when your next train will be.’ Photograph: /Image Broker/REX

The best, most chilling dystopian novels are built around a simple idea: a world very much like the one we live in, except with little things slightly askew. You know: where the images appear sharp and crisp – until you get to the edges and find them blurry, smeared with Vaseline. Think of a book with an opening scene set in a village in rural England. There’s a winding country lane, and in the distance can be heard the relentlessly tuneful whistle of a milkman, and the gentle moo of a cow. Yes, there are still milkmen and there are still cows, but look closer: the cows are wearing smart white coats and jaunty little hats, delivering milk extracted from humans. Terrifying image, isn’t it?

For the past couple of weeks, I have been trapped in a dystopia of sorts. I am in New York, ostensibly on a sabbatical, during which I intended to rattle off a 400-page thriller and maybe have a romcom-style meet-cute in Central Park. Instead, I have found myself spiralling into hysteria, driven slowly mad by the New York subway. On first appearance, it is like the London underground – trains, tickets, announcements, the crush of bodies. But then, slowly, the entire system reveals itself to you. It is the work of a sadist, cooked up in a fever dream and delivered with a flourish and an unhinged grin. I cannot believe I am about to type these words, but here we are: New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has made me homesick for Transport for London. And I will never forgive New York for this.

No don’t say that! Anyway, enjoy that…And have a great day!


Wednesday Reads: Overpriced GOP-Head Pumps and When No Means Yes

052c36fbc9a1863be6e9eb834c46544eGood Morning

What a crappy few days it has been… such terrible stories in the news lately. Yeah…text messages, popcorn, penis pumps, poor dead children, (that should be dead poor children), rich GOP dead-beat dads, murdering cops, and judge’s decisions. Oh boy, and let me tell you, things are Fukushima’d up!

Let’s start with Fukushima:  The Nuclear Disaster That Won’t Go Away

On New Year’s Day (nearly three years after the initial incident) operators of the Fukushima plant reported that “plumes of most probably radioactive steam” had been seen rising from the reactor 3 building. According to RT.com, “the Reactor 3 fuel storage pond still houses an estimated 89 tons of the plutonium-based MOX nuclear fuel composed of 514 fuel rods.” Unfortunately, high levels of radiation inside the building make it nearly impossible to determine the source of the mystery steam. Although TEPCO, the plant’s operator, claims there’s no increased danger (small comfort from the people who admitted to the world that they have no control over the situation), most agree that the plant is just seconds away from another disaster.

4d45ce57c4dea24d3eef37127cf2d5e3Meanwhile, here in the US, another meltdown has been brewing. A fire arm meltdown.

The latest on the Shooting down in Tampa: Profiles Of Man Allegedly Shot For Texting And His Suspected Killer

They say the gun jammed when the killer tried to shoot a second time. Who the fuck was he going to shoot the wife of the man he just killed?

After officers read him his rights, Reeves told the detective that Oulson struck him in the face with an unknown object, and that’s when he removed a .380 caliber gun from his pants pocket. The report said Reeves fired the gun and struck Oulson once in the chest and that he “was in fear of being attacked.”

The sheriff said at a news conference that Reeves’ son — who was off duty from his job as a Tampa officer — was walking into the theater when the shooting happened. Nocco said Reeves briefly struggled with an off-duty deputy but released the weapon. The gun was jammed and unable to fire again.

I want to know where Reeves went and who he talked to and what was said…what was the son doing there just as the shooting occurred? The management probably to Reeves to move to another seat, I mean how ridiculous was his complaint. It was the damn previews.

Devon Detrapani and her husband Joseph were friends with the Oulsons and that the men worked together at Sky Powersports, a motorcycle and off road vehicle dealer.

Chad Oulson was the company’s finance manager and a hard worker, Detrapani said. He rode dirt bikes on the weekend and “liked” several motocross stars on Facebook, but his true love was his baby daughter, Lexi.

“They are awesome parents,” said Devon Detrapani. “They love that little girl so much.”

Detrapani said that Oulson was texting with his daughter’s daycare on the afternoon he was shot. She said that Oulson was a kind man with no anger issues.

“He is a very nice guy,” she said. “He would give the shirt off his back to help someone.”

Oulson had Monday off and his wife, Nicole, worked at USAA Insurance and took the day off so they could go to the movies together.

Detrapani said she and her husband, who attended kids’ birthday parties with the Oulsons, are in shock.

“This does not make sense. I don’t understand,” she said. “It should have never happened. Now poor Lexi has to grow up without a daddy and Nicole doesn’t have a husband.”

And…on that shooting in New Mexico:

Officials: Boy opens fire in New Mexico middle school gym, wounding 2 – CNN.com

A 12-year-old boy entered his middle school gym, pulled a shotgun out of a bag and opened fire on students waiting for school to start Tuesday, wounding two, authorities in Roswell, New Mexico, said.

A girl, 13, was in stable condition Tuesday night following surgery, authorities said. A boy, 11, was in critical condition after surgery.

The bloodshed rattled students and other citizens of Roswell, a city of just under 50,000 people 200 miles southeast of Albuquerque. Monique Salcido, a Berrendo Middle School student who saw two of her friends get shot, admitted she is “in shock.”

“I don’t want to go to Berrendo again because of what happened,” she told CNN’s Piers Morgan. “Because I’m afraid it’s going to happen again.”

The horror might have been much worse if not for one staff member. “(He) walked right up to him and asked him to put down the firearm,” said New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

For some thoughts on this, Charlie Pierce: Gun Shootings January 14, 2014 – Two Days In Gun America

As it happens, I’m sitting in a hotel room a few exits east up I84 from the town of Newtown in Connecticut, where a crazy man named Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and murdered 26 people including 21 children. In the immediate aftermath, it was decided by elite opinion leaders that the country had reached a Teachable Moment in its insane attachment to its firearms. And this is what we’ve learned — people are coming to get our guns and we must buy more and better and bigger guns and carry them everywhere so that we can fight off the gun-grabbers and the insane people who we still must allow to have guns because the Second Amendment has no exception for insane people and therefore freedom.

That’s what we’ve learned.

And, in the past couple of days, we’ve had a school shooting in New Mexico, the killing of a man in a movie theater for the crime of texting his daughter, and a Republican group in Oregon which thought the best way to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln was to raffle off a rifle. I mean, why not? Only one of those two guys was murdered with one.

It doesn’t end there. News of the acquittal of cops who beat Kelly Thomas to death is another nugget of shit from the past two days that has pissed me off and Digby has some good coverage of the story here: Hullabaloo

So they found the police not guilty of a crime in the torture and beating death of Kelly Thomas. I haven’t heard what the jury thought they were doing but the defense was based upon the idea that the officers were fighting for their lives.

Take a look at the victim after the beating he endured…

Go…go and look at it and read the rest. I could not bear to put the picture up on the post it is that graphic and disturbing.

204957f815870cda4a0013d51e8d4051I’ve got a few more stories on court rulings for you:

Federal court throws out net neutrality rules | Al Jazeera America

A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out rules from the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, that required Internet service providers to treat all Internet traffic equally, a principle known as “net neutrality.”

The decision in the case, which pitted telecommunications giant Verizon against the FCC’s Open Internet rules, might open the door for ISPs to charge major companies like Google or Facebook for speedier access to content, edging out smaller content providers.

This next one really takes the fucking cake: Judge Rules That ‘No’ Means ‘Yes’

57ca7c68eb6ae6e0777e9a5aa906aabeLast week, a Swedish judge ruled that a man who proceeded to have sexual intercourse with a woman who was screaming “NO” so loudly that she went hoarse was not guilty of rape. People were understandably upset. And so, today, the judge wrote an op-ed clarifying that what he MEANT was that rape really depends on whether or not the rapist feels like they’re raping someone. Much better!

The case that’s causing forehead slaps across Sweden involves a 27-year-old woman who met a man at a restaurant and invited him back to her home accompanied him back to his home. After some consensual kissing, the man attempted to push for other sex acts, which the woman declined. The man proceeded to have sex with her, anyway, as she screamed “NO” loudly enough for the neighbors to hear. Which, you know, is rape. Pretty obviously rape.

Hmmm…..of course, you know…no means not no.

Lund district court judge Ralf G. Larsson, who listened sympathetically to the rapist’s claim that he didn’t think the woman actually meant that “NO” (which she was yelling); rather, she meant YES, which is a common synonym for NO. The woman countered that she most certainly did not mean YES, as she was screaming NO, but the judge ruled that because the rapist doesn’t know what NO means and thought that his victim was kind of into it, that thing he was doing to her as she was yelling NO, no rape was committed.

Today, he explained his big strong man judge logic with an op ed column that was both condescending and idiotic. Larsson wrote,

If the thought had not occurred to him, that she did not want to have sex with him, then he didn’t have any intention to do what he did.

He should have been acquitted. That’s how the rule of law works and that’s how the rule of law should work if I’m going to be a part of the justice system. […]

The woman had made very clear to the man at least six times that she did not want to do what he wanted to do. For example, oral and anal sex came up, and at each such incident the man did not proceed with what he wanted to do.

In other words, because he didn’t every kind of rape, he therefore could not have committed one form of rape. Rock solid logic.

939b54b3428aa558e12c4e80730acbfeYeah, he didn’t fuck her up the ass so he could not have “raped” her. Then this dickhead of a judge goes on to say:

If what is happening right now in mass and social media has the potential to scare less experienced judges, we’re on a dangerous path.

Raise your hand if you think Rolf Larsson has NO business being a judge. And by NO, I mean NO.

I will second that and add a NO and I mean FUCK NO!

In other ridiculous rape news: Anonymous Hacker Who Exposed the Steubenville Rapists May Get More Prison Time Than Rapists : Political Blind Spot

Deric Lostutter, the 26-year-old “hacktivist” who leaked the evidence that led to the conviction of two of the Steubenville, Ohio rapists is now facing more time behind bars than the rapists he exposed. The Steubenville Rape Case made national headlines when a video made by the rapists themselves, and their friends, proved that their victim was unconscious and unable to consent.

Instead of giving Lostutter thanks for exposing these criminals, however, the FBI raided his house last April. At first, Lostutter had denied that he was the man in the video, but he decided to come forward after the appalling reaction of the rapists after they were exposed.

Lostutter is now facing ten years behind bars if indicted for obtaining tweets and social media posts which revealed the details of the rape as well as for threatening action against the Steubenville rapists and school officials who helped to cover up the crime. Lostutter posted the video to the Steubenville High School football team website, bringing national attention to the case and the cover-up.

Word of Lostutter’s 10-years comes just as one of the rapists themselves, Ma’Lik Richomond, 16, was just released from prison for “good behavior.”

8ebc91cb27492af220d6e075ce8c4ed9More at the link…outrageous. The rapist gets less time than the dude who got the news of the rape and cover-up out to the public.

I think we need a new Superhero…make it a SuperShero. She is defender of rape victims everywhere, and she pulls a Bruce Wayne ala Peter Parker con Clark Kent on your ass if you rape or attempt to rape a person. Fuck yeah…this is gonna be good. Someone has to help me come up with a good name for her. And a good cover story and job and superpower.

She could be the Sky Dancer mascot…no that won’t do, it doesn’t go with the Buddhism thing.  The idea of kicking someone’s ass to a pulp is not very peaceful is it. (I guess that is why the 5th season of Dexter resonated so much for me…not to mention the film Thelma and Louise.)

And while we are on the topic of Women’s Issues and how bad the situation is in the United States: America Gets An Embarrassing C- In Women’s Reproductive Health

The Population Institute has released its annual State of Reproductive Health And Rights report card, and it seems that in the opinion of the massive educational nonprofit, America isn’t doing so hot. If America were a high schooler, America would be grounded until America gets its grades up, otherwise America won’t be getting into any colleges.

The report consolidates information most people who have been paying attention to the news probably suspected: as the federal government attempts to expand access to reproductive health care, right wing ideologues at the state level are working busily to ensure that women can’t physically access the care the federal government is trying to expand. It’s like the federal government built a dream house halfway up a mountain and handed women the keys, but states were like, let’s make it illegal to build a driveway and then put a fence around the house and remove all the doors. And the women of states run by conservatives are like, hey, why can’t I get into my house? And the state legislators are like, use your bootstraps to get in. Monday morning analogy!

Because of this, the United States still lags embarrassingly behind other developed countries in women’s reproductive health (half of pregnancies in the US are “unintended,” which is absurdly high) and, if social conservatives at the state level get their way, could slip even further.

055bd132a3f262985577fda60aa6a09aWell, nothing else would be more depressing then the attitude of those right-wing assholes once those pregnancies come to fruition. They just don’t give a damn. Like this next story out of Indiana, which is so upsetting, I can’t even tell you how it disturbed me to read about it. Three Children Died During The Polar Vortex After Their Heat Was Cut Off | ThinkProgress

Like the rest of the mid-west, the town of Hammond, Indiana, spent the first part of last week plunged below zero degrees. But while some families tried to shut out the cold by turning up their heat and staying under blankets, the bitter temperatures turned deadly for the family of a man named Andre Young.

The house that Young was renting for himself, his wife, and five children had its electricity cut off since March, gas since April, and water since October, according to records obtained by the Chicago Tribune. On that fateful night last week, the family was getting by on propane space heaters. Authorities suspect that’s what sparked a flame that engulfed the house around 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 8th.

According to witness accounts, Young ran in to the house to try to rescue his five children inside. He successfully saved two — a two-year-old and a six-year-old — before the flames caused serious injury and he collapsed into the snow. Another man tried to kick in the door and save the three children who remained inside, ages four, three, and seven months. But the attempts were unsuccessful; when first responders arrived, they found the three and the four-year-old holding on to one another, just feet from the door. The seven-month-old was nearby. All three children died.

Young, who remains hospitalized in critical condition, works in lawn care, according to the Tribune. His wife worked at Walmart, but most recently was a stay-at-home mom. As is the case with so many low-income families across the U.S., neighbors say the money was not enough to make the utility payments. 1f7bdb424636fcc5aaa8c0abda64a005On two occasions, he had tried to take electricity from meters hooked up to other houses.

Turns out the house had not been inspected and the landlord was ignoring officials and refusing to pay fines, in fact the landlord was supposed to be in court this past Thursday, but did not show. The mother worked at Walmart, the father was in lawn care.

“We inspect every rental property and this one was not inspected,” City Attorney Kristina Kantar told ThinkProgress. “No water, no power, no electricity, that’s bad. But we can’t tell that from the outside of the property.”

Kantar said that she sees cases like this “every day.” Sometimes people are squatters, or sometimes, like Young, they’re just behind on utilities, and no city officials realize there is a family inside. “It’s only because there’s a fire that you even know about this,” Kantar said.

There are some programs meant to assist families like Young’s. In Hammond, Indiana, the North Township Trustee administers the federal money provided by the federal low-income energy assistance program (LIHEAP). The office can give amounts between $100 and $500 starting in October to individuals and families within 125 percent of the poverty line. Indiana’s utility, NIPSCO, also offers a hardship program and a discount program. NIPSCO spokesperson Kathleen Szot confirmed to ThinkProgress that Young was on some form of assistance, though she did not specify which kind.

Read the rest of this story. It is heartbreaking. These fucking Republicans have so much blood on their hands. Real human being blood, and not a zygote clump of cells. PLUB assholes.

73fd00d5b52a80c0759d6b04b83efa83 Robert SchulzCheck this out, Rich GOP Donor Gets Lawmaker to Draft a Bill to Lower His Child Support Payments | Mother Jones

After Michael Eisenga, a wealthy GOP donor and Wisconsin business owner, failed to convince several courts to lower his child support payments, he came up with an inventive plan B—he recruited a Republican state legislator to rewrite Wisconsin law in his favor.

A set of documents unearthed Saturday by the Wisconsin State Journal shows Eisenga and his lawyer, William Smiley, supplying detailed instructions to Republican state Rep. Joel Kleefisch on how to word legislation capping child support payments from the wealthy. Kleefisch began work on the legislation last fall, weeks after an appeals court rejected Eisenga’s attempts to lower his child support payments.

For example, in a September 13 letter, a drafting lawyer with Wisconsin’s legislative services bureau complained to a Kleefisch aide, “It’s hard to fashion a general principle that will apply to only one situation.”

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Eisenga’s current child support payments for the three children he has with his ex-wife are set at $216,000 a year. (Per the couple’s prenuptial agreement, the divorce settlement left his $30 million in assets untouched.)

The balls on these guys!

In 2010, Eisenga donated $10,000 to Kleefisch and his wife, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, according to the Journal Sentinel. Eisenga also donated $15,000 to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The drafting documents, available on the Wisconsin legislature’s website, leave little not doubt that the bill was written to Eisenga’s specifications. According to the documents, on September 5, Eisenga’s lawyer briefed him on changes he was suggesting to a draft of Kleefisch’s bill. “We focused only on the portion that would require the court to modify your child support order based solely on the passage of the bill,” Smiley wrote. Eisenga then forwarded that letter to Kleefisch and one of his aides, saying, “Please have the drafter make these SPECIFIC changes to the bill.” The next day, Kleefisch’s aide forwarded the letter to the legislative lawyer drafting the bill.

A hearing for the bill is scheduled Wednesday before the Assembly Family Law Committee.

Eisenga and Smiley declined to speak to local news outlets about their emails with Kleefisch. On Saturday, Kleefisch told the Journal, “I do a gamut of legislation with the help and assistance of many, many constituents, and whether they gave a contribution or not has not made a difference.”

Oh…I think Kleefisch is full of Bullshit!

1340a3e360de713968f28bbd404135aeWhile on the subject of inflated dickheads: Medicare Is Grievously Overpaying for Penis Pumps – Jordan Weissmann – The Atlantic

Perhaps you had assumed that penis pumps were merely novelty items, sold mostly by email spammers and in a few musty sex shops. If so, you might be interested to learn that they’re actually considered a medical fallbackoption for men whose erectile dysfunction cannot be cured by drugs like Viagra—and that Medicare has been vastly overpaying for them for years.

So says a new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, descriptively titled: “Medicare Payments for Vacuum Erection Systems Are More Than Twice As Much As the Amounts Paid For the Same or Similar Devices By Non-Medicare Payers.”

A “vacuum erection system,” in case anybody’s unclear, is just a penis pump. Between 2006 and 2011, Medicare spent a total of $172 million to purchase 473,620 such devices, at an average cost to the government of $360 each. The Veterans Administration, by comparison, pays just $185 per pump. With a little Google searching, the OIG found options available for an average of $164.

Had Medicare paid those sorts of prices, it could have saved $14 million during each of the five years the report examined.

Ugh…go and read the rest of that shit too.

This next link is full of information, and it is just neat. 40 more maps that explain the world

Maps seemed to be everywhere in 2013, a trend I like to think we encouraged along with August’s 40 maps that explain the world. Maps can be a remarkably powerful tool for understanding the world and how it works, but they show only what you ask them to. You might consider this, then, a collection of maps meant to inspire your inner map nerd. I’ve searched far and wide for maps that can reveal and surprise and inform in ways that the daily headlines might not, with a careful eye for sourcing and detail. I’ve included a link for more information on just about every one. Enjoy.

And I will end with this wonderful tweet from NYC:

Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander Seen Outside Tom’s Restaurant In NYC (PHOTO) (UPDATE)

Innit it great to see the two of them outside that familiar diner once again?

Have a great day and stop by for a comment or two.


Sunday Reads: Carteles Covers

c0ec7e94e1ba8c7ea79e518f9239e992Good Morning

It’s a link dump, so here you go.  Images are from vintage issues of the Cuban magazine Carteles.

From McClatchy News Service, WASHINGTON: New breed of Senate Democrats drove filibuster change

After pushing through one of the most significant rule changes in Senate history, Majority Leader Harry Reid struck a solemn tone: “This is not a time for celebration.”

But behind closed doors in a room off the Senate floor, some of the newer Democratic senators couldn’t help themselves, gathering for a quick party to congratulate one another. They were the ones largely responsible for pushing the veteran Nevada lawmaker to pull the trigger on ending filibusters against most presidential nominations.

The partisan revelers were part of a new breed of Democrats emerging in the Senate. Mostly elected after 2006, these relative newcomers have only known a Democratic-controlled Senate and have little experience with successful bipartisan cooperation, due largely to the tea party’s grip on the Republican Party.

006385ddea0b7ea8bfd43444588d7a23Media Matters is looking into more background on the 60 Minutes Bengahzi story: Newsweek: Was Lara Logan’s Husband Involved In 60 Minutes’ Botched Benghazi Story?

Newsweek contributing editor Jeff Stein is raising questions about whether 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan’s husband — a former employee of a firm that planted “pro-U.S. stories in the Iraqi media in 2005” — was involved in the show’s now-retracted Benghazi report.

CBS has been the target of a firestorm of criticism since the October 27 airing of a 60 Minutes segment on the 2012 terror attacks on diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. The network eventually retracted their story after it became clear that the supposed Benghazi “eyewitness” featured in the segment had lied about his actions the night of the attacks. (A subsequent review of the segment by McClatchy News identified several other glaring weaknesses in the CBS report.)

Under intense pressure from numerous media observers — includingMedia Matters founder and chairman David Brock — CBS eventually announced that it is conducting a “journalistic review” of the story.

Citing the fact that “nobody at 60 Minutes has been fired or even publicly disciplined for its odd, inflammatory and dead-wrong” Benghazi report, Newsweek’s Jeff Stein points to Logan’s husband, Joseph Burkett, as “the most interesting figure in this mystery.”

Stein explains that Burkett is “a former Army sergeant and onetime employee of a private intelligence outfit hired by the Pentagon to plant pro-U.S. stories in the Iraqi media in 2005.” The Lincoln Group, Burkett’s former employer, apparently specialized in producing videos and phony news clips that they would then feed to media outlets, “making them appear as originating from legitimate news organizations.

Funny how Dan Rather’s ass was so abruptly met with the bottom of CBS News’ boot when he had that whole “fraudulent document” thing….

Like I said, this is a link dump, here are a few on women’s issues:

1c508835935e62efadd13ffa20a9ef28Moroccan teen, forced to marry her rapist, commits suicide | Al Jazeera America

A Moroccan teen committed suicide last month after her family forced her to marry her rapist, rights activists told Al Jazeera after reports of her death surfaced in the North African kingdom’s media on Friday.

The suicide happened amid protracted efforts to repeal a law, Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code, exonerating rapists who marry their victims, after the high-profile suicide last year of another teen, Amina Filali.

In March 2012, 16-year-old Filali killed herself in the northern town of Larache by taking rat poison after she was forced to marry her rapist. Her death provoked several demonstrations and the Twitter hashtag #RIPAmina to demand the repeal of Article 475.

The 16-year-old girl who died last month was from the northern port city of Tetouan and was raped by another minor, according to Abdel Ali El-Allawi, director of the local chapter of the international NGO the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH).

21c79438db4616e801594e417a98cf93One Woman’s Dangerous War Against the Most Hated Man on the Internet

Revenge porn (RP) is the online distribution of nude and topless photos without consent in an effort to humiliate and hurt their targets, mostly females. A picture is uploaded to a revenge porn website by an angry ex-boyfriend or a malicious hacker usually with identifying information about a woman, such as her full name, city, workplace, social media page, boss’ email address and parent’s phone number. Followers of the RP websites then may harass the victim, often forwarding the embarrassing photo to her family members, friends and business contacts. This can lead to a loss of economic and employment opportunities, and it can strain or end a woman’s personal relationships. At least two women have killed themselves over revenge porn, and Cyber Civil Rights Initiative studies show that 47 percent of victims contemplate suicide.

Great picture at this link: Serviceman, Service Woman: 1943 | Shorpy Historical Photo Archive

June 1943. “Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Miss Frances Heisler (last seen here), attendant at one of the Atlantic Refining Company garages. She was formerly a clerk in the payroll department of the Curtis Publishing Company.” Photo by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.

5d8ef5ef27d95729a71bdcde54b1cf6cEleanor, Queen of France and England and Duchess of Aquitaine

By Susan Abernethy

In keeping with our theme of medieval British queens, let’s look into the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. And what a life she had! She was the wife of two kings and mother of two kings and she went on Crusade to the Holy Land.

This next picture link is here simply because it is a mama bear and her baby…and though she is not a “woman” she is a female: Bear Cub Photobombs His Mother In Most Adorable Way Possible

ea98293504ca940968b8271ca06562ecOn the racism front, H/T Suzie Madrak: In Miami Gardens, store video catches cops in the act – Miami Gardens / Opa-locka – MiamiHerald.com

Earl Sampson has been stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years.

He’s been searched more than 100 times. And arrested and jailed 56 times.

Despite his long rap sheet, Sampson, 28, has never been convicted of anything more serious than possession of marijuana.

Miami Gardens police have arrested Sampson 62 times for one offense: trespassing.

Almost every citation was issued at the same place: the 207 Quickstop, a convenience store on 207th Street in Miami Gardens.

But Sampson isn’t loitering. He works as a clerk at the Quickstop.

So how can he be trespassing when he works there?

It’s a question the store’s owner, Alex Saleh, 36, has been asking for more than a year as he watched Sampson, his other employees and his customers, day after day, being stopped and frisked by Miami Gardens police. Most of them, like Sampson, are poor and black.

And, like Sampson, many of them have been cited for minor infractions, sometimes as often as three times in the same day.

01bcab0eb66b9bc679d088e4c65adad7Another history link: Recently Declassified: 1945 airplane gun camera footage from Japan. [VIDEO]

A literature link: ‘You Begin to Breathe Again’: Samuel Beckett’s Humor as a Coping Mechanism – Joe Fassler – The Atlantic

By Heart is a series in which authors share and discuss their all-time favorite passages in literature. See entries from Jonathan Franzen, Sherman Alexie, Andre Dubus and more.

d76153c4381ab747255a397fbaa8babcA music link: Purple Snow: What Came Before Purple Rain – Elias Leight – The Atlantic

Origin stories are in high demand. Even the early years of the extensively covered Beatles have been attracting renewed attention lately. There’s a new compilation of unreleased recordings they made for the BBC, starting with material from 1962. Which actually is relatively late: The recently released first volume of Mark Lewinsohn’s Beatles history ends in 1962, after 944 pages.

If 944 pages feels overlong, or you’ve heard enough about the Fab Four for the time being, the Numero label has quietly put together a different kind of musical origin story: the compilation Purple Snow, which explores the music that bloomed in Minneapolis in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, right before Prince exploded into national consciousness.

553a78d28ee7543acbf56205469c9372A classic movie link: moviemorlocks.com – Let Us Now Praise Shamus Men

In 1972, the legendary film historian and archivist William K. Everson released his seminal book, The Detective in Film, of which I proudly have a first edition copy with its slip cover still in good condition.  When The Maltese Falcon aired on TCM last night, I thought of it again.  Everson is the kind of film historian that simply cannot exist anymore.  His type of film historian cannot exist because with the modern day availability of movies, stills and back story, the kind of hunting, exploring, collecting and curating that Everson did is no longer as in demand as it once was, though still clearly needed.  For instance, I have a book on the silent period, Classics of the Silent Screen, written in 1959 by Joe Franklin.  In the acknowledgements, it lists Everson as the person who acquired the stills for the book and the prints for Joe to watch.  Back in his day, Everson was a walking, talking movie database, a man who could find a lost film and lend it to you to view or copy, even if it meant flying halfway around the world to get it to you.  It was all about the details, saving and preserving all the pieces of film history that might otherwise get lost.   And when he wrote about movies, he preferred a specific approach over a general one.  He wrote about W.C. Fields, bad guys, and the history of the western, so it should come as no surprise that in the early seventies he felt it necessary to explore the themes surrounding the private detective, at a time when neo-noir was finding its way to cinema screens and the anti-hero was making a comeback.

ef0b00bbe7b39e32b246dc454282dad4A Monty Python link: BBC News – Monty Python to reunite for stage show

All of the surviving members of comedy group Monty Python are to reform for a stage show, one of the Pythons, Terry Jones, has confirmed.

“We’re getting together and putting on a show – it’s real,” Jones told the BBC.

“I’m quite excited about it. I hope it makes us a lot of money. I hope to be able to pay off my mortgage!”

cfd4b96110a5d9a4dcdc3e8f3b6731c7And finally, a link that is out of this world, but yet it effects this world deeply:  Meteorite impacts capture time capsules of the ecosystems they destroy | Ars Technica

Meteorite impacts can be very destructive. A meteorite that fell in Mexico around 66 million years ago created a 180 km crater and caused the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs while spewing debris and molten rock into the air. Now, in what is a fascinating tale of serendipity, researchers have found that these events don’t entirely destroy all traces of life at the site of impact. Molten rocks can capture and preserve organic matter as they cool down to form glass beads.

When a meteor enters Earth’s atmosphere, the air around the meteor gets very quickly compressed causing it to heat up, scorching everything in its path. Most of the time that’s where the story ends, as the meteor burns up in the sky as a “shooting star.” But sometimes it’s big enough to reach all the way to the surface and transfer its remaining energy to the ground.

This energy is dissipated as mild earthquakes and sound shockwaves—but mostly as heat. The heat energy can be so great that it melts rocks on the surface and hurls them up in the atmosphere. Anything that comes in contact with this molten rock would presumably get burnt, leaving nothing but rocky material that cools down in the atmosphere, forming glass beads and tektites (gravel-sized natural glass). This is what City University of New York researcher Kieren Howard assumed, but he was able to show that his assumptions were wrong.

All these are interesting reads, I am sure you will want to go and read the rest of the links. Have a good day.


Saturday Reads: World-Wide Rape Culture and Other News

Newspaper, coffee and bagel at table

Good Morning!!

For the past two days I’ve been reading about the gang rape that took place in Steubenville, Ohio last August. This horrendous story got almost no national publicity until The New York Times published a long investigative piece on it on December 16. I’m sure you’ve probably heard about it by now too.

Sadly, it’s a familiar story. High school athletes sexually assault young girl, town closes ranks to protect boys and blame the victim. We’ve seen similar events again and again over the past few years and probably the only difference in these recent attacks on women from those in previous times–going by centuries–is that they get more publicity now and some people are outraged about them. But it doesn’t stop.

There was the Richmond High gang rape in California, the Pitt Meadows gang rape in British Columbia, the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Texas, and most recently the death of a woman who was viciously gang raped in India.

Go here to watch a very good video of Amanda Marcotte and a Canadian blogger discussing our world-wide rape culture, focusing on the cases in India, Steubenville, and Pitt Meadows.

Another difference in these incidents from those in earlier times is that participants often take photos and videos of these horrendous events and either send them to each other or post them on-line. In the Steubenville case, participants even tweeted about what was happening as they watched! This creates more nightmarish problems for victims and for law enforcement, but may also lead to perpetrators getting caught even when there is a local cover-up. In Steubenville, an “Anonymous” group has been involved–hacking into computers to retrieve data that has been erased.

Shockingly, this week, as the Steubenville story broke nationally, we witnessed the shameful spectacle of House Republicans finally refusing–after months of stalling–refusing to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if I should write about the Steubenville story today. It’s so disgusting that I haven’t even been able to bring myself to watch the video of students joking about the gang rape that the Anonymous group released. I didn’t want to subject all of you to something that I can barely stand to read about.

What I decided to do is give you a brief summary of what I’ve learned so far and post some links so you can read more if you are interested. I’m not going to name names, but you’ll see them if you go to the links.

Steubenville is a small town of about 17,000 people in southeastern Ohio just a short distance from the West Virginia border. Steubenville is crazy about their high school football team (nicknamed “Big Red”) and the team brings in a great deal of money to the community–through increased legal and illegal (gambling) business. There has apparently been a culture of protecting the football players and allowing them to run wild, and the perpetrators in this case are football players.

What I’ve gathered, based on the most recent stories and rumors, is that the victim (age 16) lived in West Virginia but had recently broken up with her boyfriend who was from Steubenville. The boyfriend was enraged about the breakup, and tweeted about the victim, saying she should be punished. He apparently encouraged at least one member of the football team to call the girl, befriend her, and urge her to attend a massive end of the summer party that took place in multiple locations. One of the locations was the home of the local prosecuting attorney whose son is on the football team.

The Anonymous hackers claim the girl was drugged immediately after she was picked up in a car by three football players. That can’t be confirmed because the girl didn’t get to the hospital in time for a date rape drug to be detected. It makes sense though, because the girl was unconscious throughout the night and doesn’t remember anything after she got in the car with the two perpetrators who have been arrested so far.

These two boys (both 16) carried the girl around like an object from house to house (there are photos), and she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by multiple attackers. This apparently happened during parties as the girl lay on the floor or in a chair, unresponsive. One onlooker even “joked” that she was dead. The NYT reports that at one point she vomited in the street and “she remained there alone for several minutes with her top off.” At one point a former football player who was a student at Ohio State University this year called for her to be urinated on. It’s not clear if that happened, but several people reported it.

The girl reportedly slept on a couch in one of the houses and was taken home early in the morning and left on her parents’ doorstep. She had no knowledge of what had happened to her until she started seeing the comments and photos on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The fact that she has no memory of the night at all certainly suggests that she could have been given a date rape drug. You’ll find a lot more information on Atlantic Wire if you go to that link.

When the girl’s mother realized what had happened, she took her daughter to the hospital and to the police, but it was too late to recover any evidence. The local prosecutor reportedly discouraged the victim and her family from pressing charges, warning that the community would turn against them and the media would never leave them alone.

Eventually two boys were arrested and charged as adults with rape and kidnapping, but many character witnesses testified for them, including the football coach (who is close friends with the Sheriff and who didn’t bench any of the other team members involved) and the kidnapping charge was dropped and the boys are now charged as juveniles. Their trial is scheduled for February. No one else as been charged, but after the story went national this week authorities said there could be more arrests. The case is now being investigated by special prosecutors and the local prosecutor and judge have recused themselves (BTW, the state attorney general is former Republican Senator Mike DeWine–remember him? In addition, the Atlantic reported yesterday that the football coach may be forced to resign. Today Anonymous plans to hold a public protest in Steubenville.

A few more links:

Prinniefied.com, the home of a crime blogger who kept the Steubenville story alive for months when there was little media coverage.

An early (September 2) story from the Cleveland Plain Dealer: Rape charges against high school players divide football town of Steubenville, Ohio

WTOV News 9 in Jefferson County Ohio: New developments revealed in Steubenville teen rape investigation

DailyKos: The Steubenville Rape – A Timeline

American Prospect: Purity Culture Is Rape Culture

The Atlantic: As a Girl in India, I Learned to Be Afraid of Men

The Atlantic: India’s Gender-Equity Problem

In Other News

Some interesting reads on other topics

A fascinating article at The Atlantic about the phenomenon of waking up under anesthesia: Awakening

Linda Campbell was not quite 4 years old when her appendix burst, spilling its bacteria-rich contents throughout her abdomen. She was in severe pain, had a high fever, and wouldn’t stop crying. Her parents, in a state of panic, brought her to the emergency room in Atlanta, where they lived. Knowing that Campbell’s organs were beginning to fail and her heart was on the brink of shutting down, doctors rushed her into surgery.

Today, removing an appendix leaves only a few droplet-size scars. But back then, in the 1960s, the procedure was much more involved. As Campbell recalls, an anesthesiologist told her to count backward from 10 while he flooded her lungs with anesthetic ether gas, allowing a surgeon to slice into her torso, cut out her earthworm-size appendix, and drain her abdomen of infectious slop, leaving behind a lengthy, longitudinal scar.

The operation was successful, but not long after Campbell returned home, her mother sensed that something was wrong. The calm, precocious girl who went into the surgery was not the same one who emerged. Campbell began flinging food from her high chair. She suffered random episodes of uncontrollable vomiting. She threw violent temper tantrums during the day and had disturbing dreams at night. “They were about people being cut open, lots of blood, lots of violence,” Campbell remembers. She refused to be alone, but avoided anyone outside her immediate circle. Her parents took her to physicians and therapists. None could determine the cause of her distress. When she was in eighth grade, her parents pulled her from school for rehabilitation.

Over time, Campbell’s most severe symptoms subsided, and she learned how to cope with those that remained. She managed to move on, become an accountant, and start a family of her own, but she wasn’t cured. Her nightmares continued, and nearly anything could trigger a panic attack: car horns, sudden bright lights, wearing tight-fitting pants or snug collars, even lying flat in a bed. She explored the possibility of post-traumatic stress disorder with her therapists, but could not identify a triggering event. One clue that did eventually surface, though, hinted at a possibly traumatic experience. During a session with a hypnotherapist, Campbell remembered an image, accompanied by an acute feeling of fear, of a man looming over her.

An article at The Atlantic on How Obama Decides Your Fate if He Thinks You’re a Terrorist

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has begun to formalize a so-called “disposition matrix” for suspected terrorists abroad: a continuously evolving database that spells out the intelligence on targets and various strategies, including contingencies, for handling them. Although the government has not spelled out the steps involved in deciding how to treat various terrorists, a look at U.S. actions in the past makes evident a rough decision tree.

Understanding these procedures is particularly important for one of the most vexing, and potentially most dangerous, categories of terrorists: U.S. citizens. Over the years, U.S. authorities have responded with astonishing variety to American nationals suspected of terrorism, from ignoring their activities to conducting lethal drone strikes. All U.S. terrorists are not created equal. And the U.S. response depends heavily on the role of allies, the degree of threat the suspect poses, and the imminence of that threat — along with other factors.

See the flow chart and read detailed explanations {shudder} at the link.

NYT: F.D.A. Offers Broad New Rules to Fight Food Contamination

The proposed rules represent a sea change in the way the agency polices food, a process that currently involves taking action after contamination has been identified. It is a long-awaited step toward codifying the food safety law that Congress passed two years ago.

Changes include requirements for better record keeping, contingency plans for handling outbreaks and measures that would prevent the spread of contaminants in the first place. While food producers would have latitude in determining how to execute the rules, farmers would have to ensure that water used in irrigation met certain standards and food processors would need to find ways to keep fresh food that may contain bacteria from coming into contact with food that has been cooked.

New safety measures might include requiring that farm workers wash their hands, installing portable toilets in fields and ensuring that foods are cooked at temperatures high enough to kill bacteria.

Whether consumers will ultimately bear some of the expense of the new rules was unclear, but the agency estimated that the proposals would cost food producers tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Mother Jones: Powerful Tea Party Group’s Internal Docs Leak—Read Them Here

FreedomWorks, the national conservative group that helped launch the tea party movement, sells itself as a genuine grassroots operation, and for years it has battled accusations of “astroturfing”—posing as a populist organization while doing the bidding of big-money donors. Yet internal documents obtained by Mother Jones show that FreedomWorks has indeed become dependent on wealthy individual donors to finance its growing operation.

Last month, the Washington Post reported that Richard Stephenson, a reclusive millionaire banker and FreedomWorks board member, and members of his family funneled $12 million in October through two newly created Tennessee corporations to FreedomWorks’ super-PAC, which used these funds to support tea party candidates in November’s elections. The revelation that a corporate bigwig like Stephenson, who founded the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and chairs its board, was responsible for more than half of the FreedomWorks super-PAC’s haul in 2012 undercuts the group’s grassroots image and hands ammunition to critics who say FreedomWorks does the bidding of rich conservative donors.

Big donations like Stephenson’s are business as usual for FreedomWorks. According to a 52-page report prepared by FreedomWorks’ top brass for a board of directors meeting held in mid-December at the Virginia office of Sands Capital Management, an investment firm run by FreedomWorks board member Frank Sands, the entire FreedomWorks organization—its 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) nonprofit arms and its super-PAC—raised nearly $41 million through mid-December. Of that total, $33 million—or 81 percent of its 2012 fundraising—came in the form of “major gifts,” the type of big donations coveted by nonprofits and super-PACs. (FreedomWorks’ nonprofit components do not have to disclose their funders.)

Well-heeled individual contributors ponied up $31 million—or 94 percent—of those major gifts, according to the FreedomWorks board book. Eight donors gave a half-million dollars or more; 22 donated between $100,000 and $499,999; 17 cut checks between $50,000 and $99,999; and 95 gave between $10,000 and $49,999. Foundations contributed $1.6 million in major gifts, and corporations donated $330,000.

Now what are you reading and blogging about today? I look forward to clicking on your links.


Wednesday Reads: 2011-2012 Sandwich

Good Morning!

There are just a few days left in 2011, and for all we know 2012 is going to be the last year we gotta deal with. Right?

I never knew what the source was for the traditional New Year’s Eve Kiss, but,

According to English and German folklore, the first person you encounter in a new year — and the nature of this encounter — sets the tone for the rest of the year. A kiss is about strengthening ties you wish to maintain in the future. If a couple celebrating together doesn’t take the time to lock lips, it doesn’t bode well for the relationship.

Hmmmm…My grandmother also used to throw a pot of water out the back door, something about washing away the bad luck from the previous year. It never worked for her, Granny had to have the worst luck of anyone I know. The idea that a New Year’s kiss strengthens ties is a positive way to begin 2012…perhaps some of the GOP Clowns will start puckering up?

Oh wait, they’ve been kissing the base’s ass all along. Perry switched his stance on abortion yesterday, and since I’ve brought this up…let’s stick with the right’s war on women for one more link.

The GOP’s 10 Most Extreme Attacks On A Woman’s Right To Choose An Abortion

2011 marked a banner year in the Republican war on woman’s health. Close to 1,000 anti-abortion bills sped through state legislatures as the GOP-led House led a “comprehensive and radical assault” on a federal level. But in surveying their arsenal this year, 10 bills stood out as particularly perturbing and far-reaching efforts to stymie women’s access to abortion services, birth control, and vital health services like breast cancer screenings. Here are ThinkProgress’s nominations for the most extreme attacks on a woman’s right to choose.

From redefining rape to defunding Planned Parenthood, see what 10 bills made the list…

In other Women’s Issues news, Egypt has banned the military’s forced practice of “virginity test.”

An Egyptian court on Tuesday ordered the country’s military rulers to stop the use of “virginity tests” on female detainees, a practice that has caused an uproar among activists and rights groups.

The virginity test allegations first surfaced after a March 9 rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square that turned violent when men in plainclothes attacked protesters, and the army cleared the square by force. The rights group Human Rights Watch said seven women were subjected to the tests.

The ban came a week after public outrage over scenes of soldiers dragging women protesters by the hair, stomping on them and stripping one half-naked in the street during a fierce crackdown on activists.

The people of Haiti lost an important human rights advocate this past week, Death of Dominican activist leaves void in movement for rights of people of Haitian descent

Sonia Perez was the undisputed champion of people of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic, fighting deep discrimination and helping them get birth certificates, housing and education.

Her passing earlier this month of a heart attack at age 48 has left many activists wondering who will carry on her work at a crucial time.

“I don’t see who can replace her,” said Edwin Paraison, who worked with Pierre and was Haiti’s former minister of Haitians living abroad. “Sonia is the kind of woman who is born once a century.”

People of Haitian descent, or even just darker skin, have long been condemned to menial jobs, subject to deportation and denied access to school and jobs in the Dominican Republic.

In 30 years of activism, Pierre helped countless people obtain birth certificates over the resistance of government officials. She led marches and organized rallies, fighting for better conditions for people in the sugar cane camps, or bateys, where she grew up.

You may remember Sonia Perez standing next to Michele Obama and Hillary Clinton when she received the Robert Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2010. The passing of Perez at such a young age is so sad…she has left many wondering who will step up to take on the battle she can no longer wage.

Yesterday, NorthWestRain posted a link to an article in Esquire…I just wanted to bring it up to the front page because it really is a powerful read: American Class System – We Are Not All Created Equal, by Stephen Marche – Esquire

There are some truths so hard to face, so ugly and so at odds with how we imagine the world should be, that nobody can accept them. Here’s one: It is obvious that a class system has arrived in America — a recent study of the thirty-four countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that only Italy and Great Britain have less social mobility. But nobody wants to admit: If your daddy was rich, you’re gonna stay rich, and if your daddy was poor, you’re gonna stay poor. Every instinct in the American gut, every institution, every national symbol, runs on the idea that anybody can make it; the only limits are your own limits. Which is an amazing idea, a gift to the world — just no longer true. Culturally, and in their daily lives, Americans continue to glide through a ghostly land of opportunity they can’t bear to tell themselves isn’t real. It’s the most dangerous lie the country tells itself.

Go read it…America is the land of the haves and have nots…I wonder if these two Fed governors Obama has nominated will help matters or just make them worse: Obama taps economist, banker as Fed governors

President Barack Obama will nominate Harvard economist Jeremy Stein and Jerome Powell, an investment banker and former Treasury official, to the two empty seats on the Federal Reserve’s policy-setting board of governors.

The White House’s pick of candidates, who have Democratic and Republican credentials respectively, may help speed their nomination through Congress amid a sluggish economic recovery that has failed to put a major dent in the unemployment rate, now at 8.6 percent.

While neither has laid out detailed views on monetary policy, Stein wrote a paper earlier this year suggesting he would back the Fed’s unconventional efforts to keep down long-term borrowing costs, which have been controversial in Washington. The Fed for over three years has adopted an array of radical measures to keep interest rates low and spur recovery.

Stein, who previously worked for the Obama administration as an adviser to the Treasury secretary and a National Economic Council staff member, specializes in stock price behavior, corporate investment and financing decisions, risk management and capital allocation inside firms. He declined to comment on his nomination.

The choice of Powell, who served at the Treasury during President George H. W. Bush’s term in the late 1980s and early 1990s, could be aimed at mollifying Senate Republicans. They blocked Peter Diamond, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist, saying the Nobel prize winner was not qualified for the job and was too sympathetic to government intervention in the economy.

Powell is a lawyer by training and worked at Dillon, Read and Bankers Trust Co. after leaving the senior Bush administration and before joining Carlyle Group. His knowledge of financial markets could help him fill the gap left by Kevin Warsh, a former Morgan Stanley executive who acted as Chairman Ben Bernanke’s point-man for crisis negotiations.

I am sure Dakinikat will have something to say about these nominations…right Dak…hint…hint. 😉

In the hacking world, an Anonymous group is planing to publish emails stolen from Stratfor, aka Strategic Forecasting Inc.

Hackers affiliated with the Anonymous group said they are getting ready to publish emails stolen from private intelligence analysis firm Strategic Forecasting Inc, whose clients include the U.S. military, Wall Street banks and other corporations.

[…]

Antisec has already published what it claims are the names of thousands of corporate and government customers, as well as email addresses, passwords and credit card numbers of individual subscribers to its services. Customers on the list published by Antisec include Bank of America, Exxon Mobil Corp, Goldman Sachs & Co, Interpol, Thomson Reuters, the U.S. military and the United Nations.

[…]

“Stratfor is not the ‘harmless company’ it tries to paint itself as. You’ll see in those emails,” Anonymous said via Twitter.

The group said it would release those emails once it had finished formatting them for distribution and prepared more than 9,000 “mirrored” copies. Creating that many copies of the file would allow the hackers to distribute it more quickly and also make it more difficult for authorities to shut down servers holding the data.

I guess time will tell. I doubt Wikileaks will be involved in the distribution, but this hack makes me think of Biden’s remark about terrorist acts. Especially with the Manning Hearing going on, it will be interesting to see what happens.

This Christmas, my husband got a Kindle Fire…it replaces his 1st Generation Kindle that we got back when Amazon first released the Kindle in 2007. He has always been happy with his Kindle, in fact it was his satisfaction that prompted me to get a Kindle of my own. I thought at 79 bucks…yes, it will pay for itself.  I had not paid any attention to the prices of the Kindle books, I thought they were still at the reasonable price of $9.99. What a shock it was to find out that many Kindle ebooks are more expensive than a paperback. So this next link actually addresses this change.  The great ebook price swindle

Publishers have two major distribution methods. One is traditional wholesaling: sell the book to a middleman, who typically adds a mark-up to customers, but sometimes discounts a book below cost as a “loss leader” to attract more business for items that aren’t discounted in this way.

The other model is called the “agency” system. In this case, publishers set the price and the bookstore merely handles the sale to the ultimate customer, for a set fee or percentage of the transaction.

The “big six” US publishers all sell their physical books via the wholesale model. After years of wholesaling digital editions as well, they moved to the agency model for ebooks, with Random House becoming the final publisher to switch early last year. The publishers had been increasingly angry about Amazon’s selling of new bestsellers at the loss-leading price of $10 (actually, $9.99), worrying that the giant online company was setting customer expectations at a too-low price point and undermining the sales of physical books.

Apple played a role in this switch, by essentially telling the publishers it wanted the agency model for its own online bookstore, which services the iPad and iPhone. And Apple co-operated in what was the inevitable result for e-books everywhere: higher prices to consumers.

Not just higher prices, but vastly higher; many ebook bestsellers on Amazon (and in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store) jumped 30% to 50%, from about $10 to $13 or $15 or even higher, as publishers imposed higher list prices for the digital versions. And in case after case, the ebook price for a new book was close to, and sometimes even higher than, the Amazon price for a hardcover. Remember, Amazon still has the right to discount from list price for physical books, as it has always done. Meanwhile, publishers have dictated that ebook prices will be the same as they charge for paperbacks (around $10 these days).

The article points out that these new e-book prices are a rotten deal for consumers…no kidding. And to think that Apple played a roll in this price increase really pisses me off. So greed is ruining the one luxuries I had in life, reading books with the ease of accessibility on a Kindle…sounds like an Occupy Random House is needed…what do you all think.

Now, I’ve got two creature feature articles for your enjoyment…

Invasive black tiger shrimp prove a genuine threat to Gulf shrimp populations.  I’ve seen these things being sold at the grocery store or our local Banjoville Walmart…I had no idea they were so invasive and such a threat to native shrimp.

Fisheries managers say there’s an invasive species lurking in the Gulf of Mexico that could have a negative impact in the Coastal Bend.

The black tiger shrimp, marketed by seafood markets as tiger prawns, eats other shrimp and recently reappeared as a concern among state biologists and seafood industry officials.

The highly aggressive giant shrimp, which can be a foot long and weigh nearly a pound, can carry diseases that native brown, white and pink shrimp may not have the immune system to fight, said Art Morris, a fisheries biologist with Texas Parks & Wildlife.

The numbers of Tiger Shrimp caught in the Gulf has increased since Katrina, the theory being that a Tiger Shrimp farm was affected in the storm causing a large population to be released into the Gulf. Tiger shrimp are the most common shrimp raised in farms worldwide.

Here is another creature story that I had not heard of before:  The hunt for Mokele-mbembe: Congo’s Loch Ness Monster

The search for Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster is world famous. Far less well-known is the hunt for a similar creature, Mokele-mbembe, which is reputed to live in the remote north of Congo-Brazzaville. But how strong is the evidence?

“I checked maps, and the data on the maps was white. It said, ‘insufficient data to delineate terrain’. Well that got me!” says Dr Roy Mackal, a retired biologist from the University of Chicago.

“It’s the end of the world. It gives you a feeling of a surviving prehistoric time.”

Sort of makes me think of the Lost World…

The Mokele-mbembe is reputed to be a large reptile-like creature, with a long neck, and long tail.

Map showing Likouala in Congo

Despite being a herbivore, it is said to roar aggressively if approached by humans. Some say it has a single horn, which it uses to kill elephants.

Many a Western explorer over the years has been gripped by the tantalising possibility that they could discover a creature – a formidable one at that – that has remained, as yet, unknown to science.

To date, there have been more than 50 expeditions to the region, but no scientific evidence, unless you include the large claw-shaped footprint recorded by a French missionary in 1776.

The only photographic images have been so fuzzy, they prove nothing.

But there is no shortage of eyewitness reports.

[…]

“Certainly mythology surrounds it,” says Adam Davies, a British man who spends his spare time and money travelling the world in search of undocumented species, and has twice gone to Africa on the trail of the Mokele-mbembe.

“But when you put it to people, ‘Is this a real creature?’ they become quite affronted… and they consistently came out with physical descriptions.”

There have been other instances where creatures that seemed to be more fantasy than reality have turned out to exist.

The most often cited example is the okapi – a cloven-hoofed mammal with zebra-like stripes on its legs, which lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, just to the east of Congo-Brazzaville.

In the 19th Century, there was talk among Westerners in Africa of the existence of an “African unicorn” and the explorer Henry Morton Stanley – who had earlier tracked down the missing missionary, Dr David Livingstone – reported seeing a mysterious donkey-like animal on a journey through the Congo in the late 1880s.

It was only in 1901 that the okapi was properly documented and identified as a relative of the giraffe.

“I’d put Mokele-mbembe in the same category as the Loch Ness Monster,” says Bill Laurance, professor at James Cook University in Australia, a conservation biologist and an expert in tropical rainforests.

“My gut sense is that the likelihood of the creature actually existing today is small.

“However, one thing you learn early on in science is never say never. We are still discovering new species all the time.”

Well, these biologist only have one more year to break the mystery of the Mokele-mbembe. Yup, that brings us are back to the year 2012…

So I will end with this Mike Luckovich cartoon that gives us a peek at what the end of the world may bring…

 mike122811

A Gingrich election would definitely bring about the end of the world. Forget the brooms kid…and start stocking up on supplies.

It’s the end of the world as we know it…it’s the end of the world as we know it…it’s the end of the world as we know it…and I feel fine!


SDB Evening Reads for 110111: Cain, Hacks and Money

Good evening, why does today seem more like a Monday to me…a Monday from hell?

Herman Cain is really going for broke, I think his favorite answer to any question, whether it be on the economy, foreign policy or sexual harassment, should be his new campaign slogan.

I don’t know anything about anything…I ain’t walking that back.

The best commentary on Cain’s sexual harassment settlements is from a show that is not a “real” news program.  Jon Stewart | Herman Cain Sexual Harassment | Daily Show Video | Mediaite

Herman Cain didn’t have what one would call a particularly strong start to his week, what with Politico uncovering allegations of sexual misconduct from the 1990s and all. On tonight’s Daily Show, host Jon Stewart made the most of the developments with pizza-themed innuendo, a list of Cain statements most outrageous than the claims as they appear currently, and a realization that, from now on, everything Cain says will “sound dirty.”

“Hey, you want sausage on your pie?” Stewart suggested as a probably Cain pick-up line. “Let me stuff your crust,” he continued, with a few other comical suggestions for what Cain could be saying (if it doesn’t exist already, expect #hermancainpickuplines to become a fairly popular Twitter hashtag game soon). But Stewart went on to find that “trying to defend our border with a giant Mexican zapper” was probably more problematic than what we currently know about the charges, and only Cain himself could make the situation worse.

Heh, wait it gets better…

Then Stewart turned to Cain’s responses, which were, repeatedly, that he did not sexually harass anyone, and that “other than the restaurant charges,” he had never been accused. Stewart, of course, noted the humor in this, as these were the only accusations anyone cased about. “Have you ever kidnapped a baby?” Stewart Joked. “Well, other than the Lindbergh baby, no.” Stewart also skewered a number of things Cain has said in the past, like his constant claims one week that he was “Black Walnut” flavored, and that extended smile at the end of his ads. “Stop looking at my black walnuts!” Stewart joked.

All jokes aside, the heart of the matter is not something to make fun off…but the way Cain has handled the situation in the last 24 hours, that’s the stuff that comedians dreams are made of…

Video at the link up top…you have to watch it, good stuff.

All this scandal talk seems to have benefited Cain…financially. Here comes the money portion of today’s post.

Cain Made $250,000 Off Yesterday’s ‘Witch Hunt’ – Politics – The Atlantic Wire

Mark Block, chief of staff to Herman Cain, says yesterday’s media frenzy over sexual harassment claims helped the campaign post one of its best fundraising days ever with $250,000 coming into the coffers. Block made the comment while on a panel at National Journal‘s 2012 Election Preview today. We won’t know until the disclosure forms are fully filed, but those are big numbers to cap an October where the Republican hopeful raised $3 million, according to CNN. As for the other big story of Cain’s week: “Done. Move on,” said Block in a recap from The Hill . “Let’s talk about what the American people want to hear about, and that jobs, jobs, jobs.”

“Done, move on,” could also refer to Block’s candor in regards to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel‘s report that the Cain campaign (perhaps illegally) owes some $40,000 to Prosperity USA, a now-defunct private corporation that Block and aide Linda Hansen ran. Slate’s Dave Weigel notes:

He answered them today. Well, sort of. At National Journal‘s 2012 preview panel, in the caged environment of a hotel ballroom and live video, ABC News’s Amy Walter asked Block if he could explain the Bice story.

“We’ve retained independent counsel to look at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story and report back to us,” said Block.

Walter followed up with a different version of the question.

“We’ve retained independent counsel to look at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story,” said Block.

Okay…Let’s move on to the “hack” portion of the thread, check this out:

China ‘targeted 48 chemical and military companies in hacking attack’ | Technology | guardian.co.uk

Cyber-attacks traced to China targeted at least 48 chemical and military-related companies over the summer in an effort to steal technical secrets, an American computer security company has said, raising the temperature of complaints about pervasive internet crime emanating from the new superpower..

The targets included 29 chemical companies and 19 others which make advanced materials used by the military, said security firm Symantec in a report. It said the group included multiple Fortune 100 companies but did not identify them or say where they were located.

“The purpose of the attacks appears to be industrial espionage, collecting intellectual property for competitive advantage,” said the report.

Well, where is Biden, denouncing this hack as a terrorist act.

The claim comes as a conference meets in London to discuss cybercrime and internet attacks, led by the defence secretary William Hague, and after the chief of the GCHQ listening agency warned that threats against government infrastructure from foreign hackers were at “disturbing” levels.

Security experts say China is a centre for internet crime, whether government-sanctioned or not. Multiple attacks against governments, companies and human rights groups have been traced to this country, though finding the precise source is nearly impossible. China’s military is a leader in cyberwarfare research but the government has rejected allegations of cyber-spying, and says it also is a target.

And in Mexico, the drug cartels have pissed of Anonymous…I wonder if this group can hit the cartels more than the Mexican Army and border agents have.

Online hackers threaten to expose cartel’s secrets – Houston Chronicle

An international group of online hackers is warning a Mexican drug cartel to release one of its members, kidnapped from a street protest, or it will publish the identities and addresses of the syndicate’s associates, from corrupt police to taxi drivers, as well as reveal the syndicates’ businesses.

The vow is a bizarre cyber twist to Mexico’s ongoing drug war, as a group that has no guns is squaring off against the Zetas, a cartel blamed for thousands of deaths as well as introducing beheadings and other frightening brutality.

“You made a huge mistake by taking one of us. Release him,” says a masked man in a video posted online on behalf of the group, Anonymous.

“We cannot defend ourselves with a weapon … but we can do this with their cars, homes, bars, brothels and everything else in their possession,” says the man, who is wearing a suit and tie.

“It won’t be difficult; we all know who they are and where they are located,” says the man, who underlines the group’s international ties by speaking Spanish with the accent of a Spaniard while using Mexican slang.

The group also threatens to release names of journalist that are on the cartels payrolls.

“We demand his release,” says the Anonymous spokesman, who is wearing a mask like the one worn by the shadowy revolutionary character in the movie V for Vendetta, which came out in 2006. “If anything happens to him, you sons of (expletive) will always remember this upcoming November 5.”

The person reportedly kidnapped is not named, and the video does not share information about the kidnapping other than that it occurred in the Mexican state of Veracruz during a street protest.

Well, that is all for me today…we just got the doomsday date for my parents foreclosure…December 6th. So my mind is a bit occupied at the moment…What are you all doing tonight? Anyone up to egging a Bank of America branch out of spite?