Wednesday Reads: It’s Black…Its White…It’s Whiter White

Good Afternoon

As you will notice today’s post is being accompanied by black and white stripes. (Or are they white and black stripes?)

Black and white printed stripes, black shadows against white skin, or white lights streaming upwards against a black night.

Whatever the case may be, I think the last few days have brought home my deepest fears…perhaps it is because I live in Banjoville, a town that is so predominately Trump territory. So I have the intimate knowledge of the “phenomena” that is Trump-ism… you know that shit that so many dumb-asses in the media write about…let me tell you plain and simple what is Trump’s Juju with the crowd who is voting for him come November.

It is white supremacy.

Shall I repeat it? Yes, I think I should.

White Supremacy.

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And it brings with it all the other horrible baggage you would expect…the usual racism, hate, intolerance, misogyny, assholism, and all the rest peppered with a shit load of “christian values” as they define the code of religious virtue…as it applies to who they feel deserves it. Which you all know is limited to those they consider “right” enough (white enough) to meet the approved standard.

imageAs this quote from Juan Cole, when speaking about the shit-stain Rep. Stephen King…and his disgusting comment at the RNC on Monday: Rep. Stephen King, White People and ‘Civilization’

Rep. Steve King objected to a comment during a cable news discussion at MSNBC that this will be the last election dominated by old white people.


Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) offered an unusual defense of the racial homogeneity of his party during a panel on MSNBC Monday evening.

The group, led by Chris Hayes, was discussing the first day of the Republican national convention and Donald Trump’s history of racially-loaded comments and behavior. King told Hayes that he thought Trump had “modified” his behavior in that regard, but Esquire’s Charlie Pierce said he didn’t see much diversity reflected in the gathering itself.

image“If you’re really optimistic, you can say that this is the last time that old white people will command the Republican Party’s attention, its platform, its public face,” Pierce said. “That hall is wired,” he continued. “That hall is wired by loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people.”

King objected.

“This ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie,” King said. “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

image“Than white people?” Hayes asked, clearly amazed.

“Than, than Western civilization itself,” King replied. “It’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That’s all of Western civilization.”

There are lots of basic things wrong with King’s statement, even just starting with his category of ‘whiteness’. Whiteness is not ‘natural’– it is an invented category. Were Irish white? A lot of English didn’t think so. “Whites” rioted against Greek immigrants to the US. White supremacists still argue over whether to let in Italian-Americans. Me, I don’t want to be called white and I decline that categorization whenever the government or other people with questionnaires will let me. The Appalachian side of my family probably has some Melungeon to it and some of us aren’t all that ‘white.’

imageCole goes on to correct King’s ridiculous statement about “civilization” here:

If by civilization is meant urban society with high rates of literacy, scientific and technological innovation, role specialization and division of labor, and high levels of collective government, then northern European Christians did not invent it.

Iraq, Iran, India, China and Egypt did. The Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Elamites, Persians, Indians, Chinese and the Pharaohs of Egypt had civilization for thousands of years while Celts in Britain were painting themselves blue and doing hunting and gathering in the wastes.

There is way more at the link, please go and read the full article.

imageYou can see video of the statements here: America And White Cultural Superiority: Representative Steve King

Of course it is no use to show or tell these Trumptarians the facts. Because they will go on, completely make up false stuff, put it in school books and teach it to the young children. And hey, they don’t even have to stick to charter schools anymore, in Texas…where most of the US public schools purchase their textbooks to use in the public education system, fact is a thing of the past.

A Textbook That Paints Mexican-Americans As Lazy Could Be Coming To A School Near You

It’s “deeply flawed,” but that hasn’t stopped the Texas State Board of Education before.

imageA proposed Mexican-American studies textbook has drawn harsh criticism for what Latino educators and scholars in Texas are calling a lack of scholarly expertise, major factual inaccuracies and demeaning characterizations of Mexican-Americans.

“What we have now is a deeply flawed and a deeply offensive textbook,” Celina Moreno, of the Texas Latino Education Coalition, said at a Monday press conference.

Groups like Moreno’s came together with professors who specialize in Mexican-American heritage, and who had been independently scrutinizing the textbook, to share some of their disturbing findings.

imageEmilio Zamora, a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, reviewed material that covered the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846-48 to the present. He said he found “five to seven serious, serious errors per page,” which render the entire publication “useless and even counterproductive.”

The Texas State Board of Education is currently reviewing the book for potential approval. Although the book’s fate is far from clear, the board has previously approved textbooks and curricula that deny climate change, promote creationism, whitewash historical events and maintain that the roots of Western democracy are found in the Bible.

And last year, the board rejected a proposal that state-approved elementary and high school textbooks be fact-checked by academics. 

imageOh, that emphasis is mine…

Because of the state’s tremendous clout in the educational publishing world, Dan Quinn of the nonpartisan educational watchdog group Texas Freedom Network told HuffPost that content that makes the grade in the Lone Star State is likely to be adopted ― in some form or another ― well beyond its borders.

I really feel that this has been coming for some time. I remember writing about this textbook shit years ago…it is one of the topics we have discussed frequently on the blog.

The lone proposal for a Mexican-American heritage textbook came from Momentum Instructions, a company linked to Cynthia Dunbar, a former education board member known for her extreme conservative views. Quinn described her four-year term on the board as “one culture war after another.”

imageIn a 2008 book titled One Nation Under God ― released while Dunbar was still serving on the state board ― she called public education “tyrannical” and a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion,” according to the Texas Observer.

As for the proposed textbook, Quinn suggested that Dunbar and its authors were seeking to “promote their own political and personal ideas.” He said the authors lack credible expertise in the field of Mexican-American studies.

Emails and calls to Momentum Instructions were not immediately returned.

For a few more remarks on this “textbook” see this article: Scholars Have Scathing Reviews for Mexican-American History Textbook

imageIt sounds like something you would expect in a nation that has Trump as the official GOP Candidate for President…

As the State Board of Education (SBOE) is accepting comments on the book before voting on it in November, a group of academics and advocacy groups decided to take a closer look at Mexican American Heritage. Organized as the Responsible Ethnic Studies Textbook Coalition, they announced their reviews Monday morning at the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) offices in Austin.

As it went on, the press conference began to sound more like the least successful book blurb pitch session ever:

“A deeply flawed and deeply offensive textbook that has no place in Texas classrooms.” — Celina Moreno, Texas Latino Education Coalition

image“Useless and even counter-productive.” — Emilio Zamora, professor of history at UT-Austin

“Replete with … offensive racial stereotypes.” — Lilliana Saldaña, associate professor of Mexican-American studies at UT-San Antonio

“So riddled with factual errors that a traditional publisher would not have recognized or tried to publish this book.” — Christopher Carmona, National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies-Tejas Foco

“Willfully irresponsible, culturally chauvinist and discriminatory.” — Zamora

“The person who wrote the section on Texas history would have failed a fourth-grade exam. … There are no women cited or quoted in the entire chapter.” — José María Herrera, assistant professor of education at UT-El Paso

image“Simply unworthy. … Obviously a fraud.” — Zamora, again

The coalition is calling for the SBOE to completely reject the book — not just require a few tweaks to the text — for a combination of factual errors, academic laziness and cultural insensitivity.

Saldaña noted that the book not only refers to indigenous people as “Indians,” but provides a lengthy explanation of why “Indians” is the best term to use. Elsewhere, Saldaña pointed out, the authors describe one group of people as driven by “bloodlust” — language she said was better suited to a Hollywood script than a serious academic text.

imageUh…chapters with no women writers or quotes? What the fuck? (Misogyny strikes again!) I don’t know, the few comments from members of the Republican board members will give you an example of how frustrating the attitude can be…Proposed Texas textbook describes Mexican-Americans as ‘lazy,’ new coalition works to block it – The Washington Post

The Texas State Board of Education is reviewing the proposed book and will consider public comments and feedback in September.

In an article in the Austin American-Statesman last month, one board member said the textbook was okay with him:

Board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont, who opposed asking for a Mexican-American studies course and textbook, said the proposed book seems fine.

image“It’s really kind of amusing. The left-leaning, radical Hispanic activists, having pounded the table for special treatment, get approval for a special course that nobody else wanted,” Bradley said. “Now they don’t like their special textbook? I bet they want everyone to also get an A for just attending? The one thing we can’t fix in this world is unhappy people.”

It really pisses me off…fuck him. (That male superior tone in the statement. How I hate it.) And this is how the majority of the population in my home town think. It is exactly how a Trumptonain thinks. And it is the kind of person who will vote him into office.

imageJust one more link for you today…this: What’s on Display in Cleveland? The Republican Id – BillMoyers.com

The triumph of Trump has demonstrated the cost of the devil’s bargain that party elites — and the media — have accepted over the years.

What is on display at the RNC in Cleveland is the Republican id. We always suspected it would look something like this. But even though it reared its ugly head on occasion on Fox News or in Congress — on the lips of some right-wing preacher or billionaire hedge-fund manager. They would compare gays to Satan, progressive taxation to Naziism and people of color to criminals at best, animals at worst — but the more polite, polished folks who spoke for the party would always regretfully shake their well-coiffed heads and explain that wasn’t what the party was really about.

And to their eternal shame, most in the media ran interference for this confidence game, only to be blindsided when Trump demonstrated that it had always been a charade.

imageWell thanks to Donald Trump and his followers, the jig is up. Melania Trump’s plagiarism of Michelle Obama was just about the least offensive thing one heard from the podium on Monday night. The rest was a near orgy of hatred, racism, sexism and ethnocentrism. Rudy Giuliani has always presented himself as an avatar of “law and order.” This has been a conservative mantra for half a century. We always suspected it was code for the suppression of African-Americans and now we know. Ditto all this talk of “Judeo-Christian” values. It’s a code for Islamophobia and oppression. And the attacks on Hillary Clinton sound an awful lot as if they are being spoken by people who simply cannot accept the fact that women have the same rights and capabilities as men. And to their eternal shame, most in the media ran interference for this confidence game, only to be blindsided when Trump demonstrated that it had always been a charade.

Listen to the speeches by the Republican heavyweights who have agreed to take the stage in Cleveland; not one of them has put forth an actual idea that makes sense in terms of how to govern the United States. That’s because governance has long ceased being relevant to the Republican coalition. What holds it together is nothing more than nostalgia for a more oppressive America and resentment toward those who refuse, any longer, to sit on the back of bus.

imageMy only response to this is to say that it is what I’ve been seeing all along, for years…from my window into the world that is my “quiet redneck mountain town” of Banjoville, GA. It is frightening as hell. I cannot lean back and think this election is a done deal. That folks will vote for Hillary and that she is a foregone conclusion to win in November. I am truly scared Trump could pull it out, and the stupidity will put him in office…and we will once again see the white lights of supremacy that shone in Nuremberg those years ago…brightening the dark black skies over America…to make America Great Again…to make America Safe Again. (As the RNC message was on Monday.)

Fucking hell.

 

 

 

 


Wednesday Reads: Transphobia 6-5000

Good afternoon.

Yesterday was the IDAHO | DAHOT International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. With that in mind let’s take a look at the scene surrounding LGTB issues this week, especially the last few days. As y’all know, it is a “fluid ” situation, one of constant assault from the same forces I discussed in my last post Wednesday Reads: Buckets of what? | Sky Dancing. They are same hypocritical basturds who want to control every aspect of a woman’s autonomy, spirit, and cognitive functions. Shit…we are just going to have to get to it, right?

Statement by the President on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia | whitehouse.gov

On May 17, Americans and people around the world mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia by reaffirming the dignity and inherent worth of all people, regardless of who they love or their gender identity.

Our nation is committed to the principle that all people should be treated fairly and with respect. Advancing this goal has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and I am proud that my Administration has made advancing the human rights of LGBT individuals a specific focus of our engagement around the world. I am also proud of the great strides that our nation has made at home in recent years, including that we now have marriage equality as a result of last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision.

At the same time, there is much work to be done to combat homophobia and transphobia, both at home and abroad.‎ In too many places, LGBT individuals grow up forced to conceal or deny who they truly are for fear of persecution, discrimination, and violence. All nations and all communities can, and must, do better. Fortunately, human rights champions and good citizens around the world continue to strive towards this goal every day by lifting up the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights. The United States honors their work and will continue to support them in their struggle for human dignity.

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Obama was not the only world leader who made an official statement yesterday…Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia | Prime Minister of Canada

“Today, I join Canadians – and people around the world – to recognize the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.

“Everyone deserves to live free of stigma, persecution, and discrimination – no matter who they are or whom they love. Today is about ensuring that all people – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – feel safe and secure, and empowered to freely express themselves.

“On this important day, I encourage all Canadians to raise awareness, and mobilize to end the violence, prejudice, and judgement faced by LGBTQ2 persons.

“As a society, we have taken many important steps toward recognizing and protecting the legal rights for the LGBTQ2 community – from enshrining equality rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the passage of the Civil Marriage Act. There remains much to be done, though. Far too many people still face harassment, discrimination, and violence for being who they are. This is unacceptable.

“To do its part, the Government of Canada today will introduce legislation that will help ensure transgender and other gender-diverse people can live according to their gender identity, free from discrimination, and protected from hate propaganda and hate crimes.

“Today, let us unite in a global celebration of diversity, and reaffirm our commitment to unequivocally defend LGBTQ2 rights as human rights. We will never stop fighting for a safer, more equal, and more just world for all of our children.”

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Meanwhile, reports in Mexico indicate some positive changes may be coming…Mexican President: Legalize Gay Marriage – The Daily Beast

According to multiple reports, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed legalizing same-sex marriage across the entire country. Should Mexico recognize same-sex marriages at the national level, it would join the United States and Canada as the only North American nations to do so. Nieto’s proposal comes as part of a string of socially liberal policy ideas from the 49-year-old president, including the legalization of medical marijuana and an overhaul of the country’s war on drugs.

Obama Marks International Day Against Homophobia And Transphobia: LGBT Rights Are Human Rights – Joe.My.God.

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Countries Celebrate International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

Aussie cops raise rainbow flags against homophobia and transphobia

Still a long battle ahead for India’s transgender community | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis

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Rainbows abound: How the world is celebrating International Day against Homophobia – Firstpost

Meanwhile, here in the USA, things are continuing as expected:

Trans Panicked Lady Yells At Short-Haired Gal In Walmart Restroom, Saves America | Wonkette

In what’s sure to be part of a growing trend, a young woman in a Walmart restroom Friday was treated to a stern anti-transgender scolding from a self-appointed member of the Moral Police in Danbury, Connecticut. Aimée Toms, a 22-year-old college student from Naugatuck, was washing her hands when a complete stranger hissed “You’re disgusting!” and “You don’t belong here!” Toms, you see, has really short hair and was wearing a baseball cap, which was enough to convince the sharp-eyed Walmart shopper that Toms had to be one of those filthy transgender people using the ladies’ biffy, endangering The Children and ruining America. Toms posted a fine video rant about the experience to Facebook Friday evening, and the video quickly went viral, with nearly 40,000 views since it went up. We have to say we like the cut of her jib. Toms introduces the video with this brief caption:

If it really takes me pulling up my shirt and showing someone I grew these boobs myself for them to leave me alone in a restroom, I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

This really lit a fire under my ass today.

Young Woman Harassed In WalMart For Appearing Transgendered | Crooks and Liars

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My state is getting in on the fun:

Transphobia abounds in North Georgia

Students in North Georgia are the targets of the latest transphobic outcry.

Parents in Fannin County, organized by school resource officer Anthony Walden, rallied last week against a policy supporting transgender students using bathrooms that align with their gender identity, instead of their sex assigned at birth.

Parents packed the Thursday school board meeting to decry the policy, which stems from federal government guidance, with media reports of anywhere from one to three hundred people in attendance.

“We could stand to lose 3.5 million dollars, that’s federal money,” school attorney Lynn Doss toldFox 5 News.

Following the egregious N.C. “bathroom bill,” the federal government issued a letter to schools urging them to allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities that correspond with their gender identity and not their sex assigned at birth.

N.C. and Gov. Pat McCrory are facing a lawsuit from the federal government over HB 2, with the Dept. of Justice making clear that transphobic bathroom policies are discriminatory and a violation of student’s civil rights.

So much love to Loretta Lynch for this: “Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself…no matter how isolated, no matter how afraid, and no matter how alone you may feel today…we see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.”

I think you can tell the direction this article is taking….

School resource officer Walden called transgender people “perverts” and compared them to pedophiles, during public comment that received applause multiple times.

Transphobic statements abounded during the three hours of public comment. Parents and local leaders encouraged the school board to forego the federal dollars, threatening to remove their kids from school.

“We’re going to do everything we can to stop this, and if not, then us moms are going to come home and teach our kids like it used to be,” Parent Angel Chancey said.

“Ask the question what would Jesus have me do in this situation,” said Matthew McDaniel, a pastor at First Baptist Church. “We need to stand on God’s truth in this perverse situation.”

Speaker David Ralston, who represents the area, even waded in, sending a letter to Ga. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Purdue asking them to get involved.

Calling it “a vast overreach of federal authority,” Ralston asks them to “take appropriate action to protect our students and our local educators from the heavy hand of the federal government.”

Well, he certainly doesn’t seem interested in protecting transgender students, and that does not bode well for continued “religious freedom” rabble-rousing during next year’s legislative session.

Have I mentioned how much I hate the people up here in Banjoville. Fannin is the county next door…so they are our Banjoneighbors.

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Gooch asks state leaders to take a stand against Obama… | AccessWDUN.com

State Sen. Steve Gooch (R-51), Senate Majority Whip, is calling on Georgia’s top officials to take a firm stand against President Barack Obama’s letter sent to school systems Friday with guidelines allowing transgender students to use bathrooms matching the gender they identify with.

“We’re asking the governor and lieutenant governor to look at the president’s policy initiative that he announced this week that basically threatens local governments with withholding their funds for their local schools,” Gooch said Tuesday. “We think that’s a wrong direction for our country. We shouldn’t be controlling local school boards and dictating them and holding this over their head.”

Gooch, of Lumpkin County, briefly answered questions during Tuesday afternoon’s Helen City Commission meeting.

Georgia leaders blast transgender bathroom rule, stop short of lawsuit | Political Insider blog

Georgia GOP leaders prepare to open front in bathroom war | www.myajc.com

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More news on the LGBT front:

Obama Defends Transgender Directive for School Bathrooms – The New York Times

Alabama lawmaker files bathroom bill – TimesDaily: State Capital

Mother marches through Target decrying retailer’s bathroom policy | www.ajc.com

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Canada Moves to Ban Discrimination Against Transgender People – The New York Times

Sir Ian McKellen: Homophobia in the Commonwealth is a shameful legacy – The i newspaper online iNews

North Carolina’s anti-trans governor is cozy with major polluter | Grist

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Turning back to idiots in politics, hey…this one is not even a part of this country’s political elite!

Peter Dutton says ‘illiterate’ refugees would be ‘taking Australian jobs’ | Australia news | The Guardian  I guess Trump isn’t the only asshole making a name for himself out there, huh?

But hey, that kind of talk is just mainstream nowadays, you want idiot? I got your idiot right here:

Conservative congressional candidate shares screenshot, forgets to close porn windows

Screenshot Mike Webb shared with numerous tabs, including two tabs with porn sites

Mike Webb is a conservative candidate for the United States Congress (VA-8) and he’s hoping to bring “responsiveness and accountability” to Washington, D.C. From hiscampaign announcement:

“If we succeed in winning this race as a conservative Republican in the most liberal district in the nation and the most Democratic in the South, that will be a real revolution that will have national implications,” he said in a press release.

He is campaigning with a hands-on approach, insisting he does all of his own social media:

Webb claims that many residents are looking for responsiveness and accountability from their elected and appointed leaders. “One way to do that is to personally respond on social media.  Talk and engage with people.  Joke and chide.  Engage in dialogue.  That is what it is all about.”

Unfortunately for Mike Webb, he’s probably now wishing he had someone running his social media. He shared a screenshot of his computer screen while trying to make a point (that was partial conspiracy theory) about trying to find employment and he forgot to close out a couple of tabs:

Mike Webb

Oh, my…..

Oh, my! Fans of Mike Webb’s Facebook page were quick to point out that the two tabs above led to two porn sites. Needless to say, fans were amused:

Lucas McDanielRyan BelkJosh Peake…. Now you know what politicians do in their spare time!! #pumpthebrakesWEBB

Stephen Carroll I like your taste in porn.

Stephen Carroll Hey, that’s probably why you had so many viruses and couldn’t make your FEC filing.

Christopher Allard Oh my good lord! That’s AWESOME!!! Way to go Mike! You posted a screen shot of your computer and left the PORN SITES up??? Wow, ranger that bud! This is definitely going viral!

At least 5 hours after the original post, it remains on this Facebook page. So much for his pledge for responsiveness! The post will no doubt be deleted in time, but it can currently be seen here.

I had to quote the entire post there, it was too unbelievable and fucking prefect not to.

Eschaton: Assholes

Two Boston brothers who beat and urinated on a homeless Mexican man, then told police “Donald Trump was right: All these illegals need to be deported,” were sentenced to prison on Monday.

Trump Bros Who Beat Up Homeless Hispanic Guy Going To Prison, How Is That Even Fair? | Wonkette

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BREAKING: ABC Just Caught Trump In Massive Tax Evasion & Campaign Finance Violation

Next up, a series of links on the Nevada/Bernie Bros/From the top directive shit that happened over the last few days:

Shakesville: What Is Even Happening?

I think the key point to all this is:

Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucus.

Anyway, the links are below just if anyone missed yesterday’s threads….

Shakesville: Bernie Sanders, What Are You Doing?!

Bernie Sanders Refuses To Admit There’s a Problem With His Fanatical Supporters – The Daily Banter

 

Sanders issues defiant statement under pressure over ruckus (w/video) | Tampa Bay Times

I hate the title of this one: DNC chairwoman chides Sanders | TheHill

Tensions explode in Dem primary | TheHill

To Win in November, Clinton Will Need Sanders’ Voters | RealClearPolitics

This is another title that irks me: Nevada Democrats accused Bernie Sanders’s campaign of inciting violence. And Sanders is hitting back. – The Washington Post

A few other disturbing news stories, not on Bernie but still like I said, disturbing:

Judge orders Mississippi school district to desegregate, 62 years after Brown v. Board of Education – The Washington Post

62 years after ‘Brown vs. Board of Education’ ruling, U.S. schools becoming more segregated | Tampa Bay Times

Tourist Bros Stomp On Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Prismatic Spring

Another State Just Banned Abortion After 19 Weeks

South Carolina bans abortion after 19 weeks | Reuters

Teacher fired from Christian school after reporting shocking rape of her daughter

Shoulders and Arms Are Now Illegal in the State of California

The deadly selfie game – the thrill to end all thrills

Oh and what about the Koch Brothers? Hullabaloo– GOP suffering from Koch withdrawal by digby

And I want to end it on something fun…This one is for Boston Boomer, and her keen interest in words and the brain: Words, more words … and statistics: To segment words, the brain could be using statistical methods — ScienceDaily

Picking out single words in a flow of speech is no easy task and, according to linguists, to succeed in doing it the brain might use statistical methods. A group of scientists has applied a statistics-based method for word segmentation and measured its efficacy on natural language, in nine different languages, to discover that linguistic rhythm plays an important role.

Have you ever racked your brains trying to make out even a single word of an uninterrupted flow of speech in a language you hardly know at all? It is naïve to think that in speech there is even the smallest of pauses between one word and the next (like the space we conventionally insert between words in writing): in actual fact, speech is almost always a continuous stream of sound. However, when we listen to our native language, word “segmentation” is an effortless process. What are, linguists wonder, the automatic cognitive mechanisms underlying this skill? Clearly, knowledge of the vocabulary helps: memory of the sound of the single words helps us to pick them out. However, many linguists argue, there are also automatic, subconscious “low-level” mechanisms that help us even when we do not recognise the words or when, as in the case of very young children, our knowledge of the language is still only rudimentary. These mechanisms, they think, rely on the statistical analysis of the frequency (estimated based on past experience) of the syllables in each language.

I hope you enjoy that one BB…

Have a good day y’all, treat this as an open thread of course.

 

 


Wednesday Reads: Composite and Composure 

Good Afternoon

Who know a few album covers could look so dramatic?

The images you will see today are from one of my favorite photo blogs: vintage everyday: Mix and Match – Strange and Amazing Collage Arts from Famous Album Covers of the 1980s and 1990s

Christian Marclay is a Swiss, New York-based modern artist and composer. He came up with an idea to create funny collages from famous album covers.

So enjoy these collages as we look into some non-election news.

A couple of days ago, LG&M had a post that caught my attention…see if you get the same vibe as I did: Clearly, Paying Teachers Peanuts is the Way to Produce Good Teaching – Lawyers, Guns & Money

635633926025679244-TeacherPayMap

I can think of no better way to provide quality education for our students than paying teachers so poorly that they are forced to get 2nd and 3rd jobs to make ends meet, thus giving them no time to prep for class or rest.

Second and even third jobs are the norm for many school teachers in South Dakota, where teacher pay ranks lowest in the nation, according to a state education task force. Gov. Dennis Daugaard has proposed a half-cent sales tax increase to help raise teacher pay, but his plan needs two-thirds approval in both the House and the Senate — a tough proposition in a legislature with an anti-tax lean.

Mary McCorkle, president of the South Dakota Education Association, said teachers often give up their evenings by grading papers and preparing lessons, and second jobs lead to burnout.

“Something has to give, whether it’s your health, your sanity,” McCorkle said. “You just can’t do everything, and you want to be there for your students.”

The SDEA, which represents more than 5,000 teachers in the state, said Daugaard’s proposal is an acknowledgement that South Dakota schools are having trouble hiring and keeping teachers.

The Brookings School District used to get dozens of applications for each open teaching position but now receives resumes from just a handful of qualified candidates, said school board President Steve Bayer. The pool depth is likely dwindling as applicants look across South Dakota’s eastern border to better-paying jobs.

“When you can make another thousand dollars a month as an experienced teacher, it’s probably worth looking at a place in Minnesota,” he said.

South Dakota’s average teacher salary of $40,023 in 2013-14 lagged an average of six states that border it by $11,888 a year and was $8,643 behind the next lowest neighbor, North Dakota, the group found. In some of South Dakota’s more remote areas, that average salary drops quickly.

Now, this next link will take you to the average starting teacher salary per state: NEA – 2012-2013 Average Starting Teacher Salaries by State

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And here is a site that give you both starting and general average salaries, which is a bit convoluted to discern.  Teacher Salaries By State | Average Salaries For Teachers | Beginning Salaries For Teachers | Teacher Raises | TeacherPortal.com

Finding accurate beginning and average salaries for teachers by state is a tricky business. In our effort to build the most accurate list of teacher salaries by state, we have averaged the salary from multiple sources, including the National Education Association, job surveys, and private data analyses to create the Salary Comfort Index.

So if you are curious…take a peek at those numbers.

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While on the subject of schools…in South Dakota:

South Dakota Is The First State To Pass A Transphobic Student Bathroom Bill

I will leave that story up to you. Take a gander at the new bill and the logic behind this mess.

The bill was approved by the state Senate on Tuesday and now awaits the signature of Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), who has said it seems like a good idea. The measure would mandate that students use facilities corresponding with their “physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person’s chromosomes and anatomy as identified at birth,” not the gender with which they identify.

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Next up: The Pope….

He was in Mexico this week.

The Latest: Cleric stresses moral message of Pope at border – The Washington Post

Religious leaders and migrants rights advocates in the United States say Pope Francis’ acknowledgment during his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border of the struggles of immigrants will send a humanitarian message.

Just before his Mass Wednesday afternoon in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Francis is to walk to the border fence along the Rio Grande, which separates the two countries. There, he’ll offer a prayer for migrants on the other side and for those who died trying to get to the U.S. A group of about 500 people, including migrants and refugees, will be on the U.S. side.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville said at a news conference in El Paso Wednesday that “because something has political dimensions it doesn’t mean that it does not also have moral dimensions.

That is sweet…because with the statement the Catholic Church put out on the Zika virus…we don’t want to get into a discussion on Moral Dimensions…or Dilemmas!

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Catholic Leaders Say Zika Doesn’t Change Ban on Contraception – The New York Times

As the Zika virus spreads in Latin America, Catholic leaders are warning women against using contraceptives or having abortions, even as health officials in some countries are advising women not to get pregnant because of the risk ofbirth defects.

The challenge posed by Zika for the Roman Catholic Churchcomes as Pope Francis is making his first trip to Mexico, where the virus appears to be spreading.

After a period of saying little, bishops in Latin America are beginning to speak up and reassert the church’s opposition to birth control and abortion — positions that in Latin America are unpopular and often disregarded, even among Catholics.

“Contraceptives are not a solution,” said Bishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, the secretary general of the National Council of Bishops of Brazil, and an auxiliary bishop of Brasília, in an interview. “There is not a single change in the church’s position.”

He urged couples to practice chastity or use “natural family planning,” a method in which women monitor their menstrual cycles and abstain from sex when they are fertile.

Of course these babies are gifts from Gawd.

This is not a stance likely to win many new followers. South America happens to be the continent with the highest proportion of Catholics who already disagree with the church on abortion and birth control, according to a large international poll commissioned by Univision in 2014. Seventy-three percent of Catholics in Latin America said that abortion should be allowed in some or all cases, and 91 percent supported the use of contraceptives — a higher percentage even than in Europe or the United States.

[…]

“The Vatican is very well aware of the seriousness of this issue, and the Holy Father is very aware of it,” Father Rosica said. “We’re waiting to see how the local churches in those countries respond.”

But Father Rosica said church teaching on abortion and contraception remains the same. The Zika epidemic, he said, presents “an opportunity for the church to recommit itself to the dignity and sacredness of life, even in very precarious moments like this.”

The five countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that have advised women to delaypregnancy are Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Colombia and Jamaica. But access to contraception is limited throughout the region, especially for poor and rural women. Abortion is restricted in many countries, and it is illegal without exceptions in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Nicaragua, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

[…]

There is no vaccine for the Zika virus, and no cure for microcephaly. The World Health Organization this monthdeclared the Zika epidemic an international public health emergency. The organization advised that women should have full access to a range of contraceptive options, as well as “safe abortion services to the full extent of the law.”

Many church officials are wary that the Zika epidemic will lead to the loosening of laws on abortion and contraception. Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, who serves on Pope Francis’ nine-member advisory council, denounced the notion of “therapeutic abortions” for women carrying babies with microcephaly. He spoke at a Mass attended by the Honduran president and first lady.

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Another link on the Zika epidemic….WHO: $56 Million Needed To Combat Zika Virus Through June

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that $56 million were needed to combat the Zikavirus until June, including for the fast-tracking of vaccines, diagnostics and research studies into how it spreads.

The funds, including $25 million for the WHO and its regional office, would also be used to control the mosquito-borne virus that has spread to 39 countries, including 34 in the Americas, and has been linked to birth defects in Brazil.

“Possible links with neurological complications and birth malformations have rapidly changed the risk profile for Zika from a mild threat to one of very serious proportions,” WHO director-general Margaret Chan said in the WHO Strategic Response Framework and Joint Operations Plan issued in Geneva.

The WHO expects the funds to come from member states and other donors and said that in the meantime it has tapped a new emergency contingency fund for $2 million to finance its initial operations.

Chan will travel to Brazil from Feb 22-24 to review Zika-related measures supported by WHO and will meet the health minister, a WHO spokeswoman said.

The United Nations health agency declared the Zika outbreak a global public health emergency on Feb 1, noting its association with two neurological disorders, microcephaly in babies and Guillain-Barre syndrome that can cause paralysis.

Brazil is investigating the potential link between Zika infections and more than 4,300 suspected cases of microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormally small head size that can result in developmental problems.

More at the link.

Just a question…and it is a offensive one at that…since my life is defined by classic film and movies, the flick “Freaks!” (Yeah, I’m going there.) Didn’t the pinheads suffer from microcephaly? Innit that the same thing as this Zika virus? NWLuna? School me right!

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Shit, I said I wasn’t going to mention the idiots of the election: Trump Surrogate Blows Up Panel Discussion By Referring To ‘Big Boobs’ | Crooks and Liars

There is a reason for this…I promise.

Nothing says 2016 political discourse like a Trump surrogate and supporter calling out another panelist’s “big boobs” on Fox Business. I’m pretty sure all those stock market geeks tuning into Fox Biz were delighted by it.

Transcript viaMediaite:

Manigault: Yes, so let’s talk about Iraq and let’s talk about Donald Trump’s position. When Ta-mah-ra says that Donald Trump’s–

Holder: Tah-mara. It’s Tah-mara.

Manigault: It’s the same difference. You want to come on with big boobs, then you deal with the pronunciation of your name. Look. Donald Trump stands firm on what his position is about us going into Iraq —

Baritromo: Wait a second! Why are you bringing up Tamara’s boobs? I don’t understand why you brought up Tamara’s boobs.

The C&L post makes a point about why the mention of boobs is made:

Poor Maria just cannot understand. It’s because it gets attention, Maria! Mention boobs and every man watching looks up from his otherwise boring work to see what the catfight is all about.

Of course, it’s also crass and sexist but that’s what Trump’s campaign embodies. And who better than Omarosa to speak for Trump about some other woman’s breasts?

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I think it is just a carry over of the Sexist and Misogynistic culture (as related to rape culture) that is allowed to flourish as Sexual Harassment in our high school’s and college’s locker rooms…as discussed in this article from Deadspin: How Tennessee’s Sexual Harassment Allegations Caught Up With Peyton Manning 20 Years Later

This is a very long read, I know that BB has written post on Manning before, but please take some time and look it over.

In 1996, the summer before Peyton Manning’s junior season at the University of Tennessee, with his Vols a national championship contender, associate trainer Jamie Whited—later Jamie Naughright, after her divorce—filed an employment discrimination complaint. In that complaint, filed with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, she listed 27 specific examples of sexual harassment and discrimination she claimed to have experienced while working for Tennessee’s athletics department.

Athletes, she said, called her breasts “midgets.” One athlete called the women at the sexual assault crisis center center “white ‘male hating’ females.” And her concerns about violence by athletes toward women were “played down by my supervisors, and an effort was made to shield the student athletes.”

It was accusation No. 27 that lives on, though. An unnamed athlete, later identified as Peyton Manning, “pulled his pants down and exposed himself to me, as I was bent over examining his foot after asking me several questions.”

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“Despite the above referenced complaints,” her filing said, “no effective remedial action has been taken by coaches, or other supervisor personnel. Instead complaints of sexual harassment are treated as jokes and efforts are made to protect the student athletes, and cover-up the complaint.”

Naughright settled with Tennessee. The investigative report on her allegations, compiled by Tennessee’s Office of Diversity Resources and Educational Resources (DRES) repeatedly finds that she was “not subjected to unwelcome sexual conduct,” and that “many of the individual allegations involved conduct that was not sexual in nature.” Her accusation against Manning seemed destined to become another incident written off as a young man’s foolishness.

Her claims and the investigative findings read differently, though, in the context of a wide-reaching Title IX lawsuit recently filed against the University of Tennessee, which describes Tennessee as having cultivated a “deliberate indifference to known sexual assaults so as to create a hostile sexual environment.” So, too, does her long legal history with Manning, recently brought back to public attention by the Daily Beast’s Robert Silverman and bythe New York Daily News’s Shaun King publishing a 74-page “facts of the case”from Naughright’s 2002 defamation suit against Manning. That document outlines, from the perspective of her lawyers, a claim that the Manning family and Tennessee essentially covered up a case of sexual assault to protect the star quarterback.

It will get you going…be prepared for the usual excuses and typical outcomes.

Let us see if the new combat roles for women change the way the military works…Exclusive: Report shows Marines’ shifting approach to women in combat – CSMonitor.com

The Marines have long been resistant to including women in combat units. But a Pentagon document obtained by the Monitor offers a more optimistic view.

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 Check it out…details emerge on the new airline plans for Cuba:

U.S., Cuba sign civil aviation accord in Havana as Cuba’s foreign trade minister visits Washington | Miami Herald

I always loved the way this man’s name sounded when I was a kid…now comes news of his death: United Nations News Centre – UN mourns death of former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Another death, this time an actor. You may remember him in Tootsie and Mel Brooks To Be or Not To Be: George Gaynes Dead: ‘Police Academy’ Star Dies at 98 – Hollywood Reporter

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The rest in link dump format, because it is really getting late:

Apple CEO Tim Cook opposes court order to help FBI unlock San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone

Global food production needs ‘significant’ fertiliser boost – BBC News– This talks about the phosphate shortage. In Florida, you could spot a phosphate mine miles away. (Well, I don’t know about technically miles…but damn if you could not see them from across the bay.) Our science class would have field trips inside those mountain valley holes to look for fossils. Anyway, give that link a moment of your time.

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Scalia’s Death Might Have Saved Abortion Rights | Mother Jones

Survival Mode: Growing Up With Violence – Al Jazeera English

CDC investigates why so many students in wealthy Palo Alto, Calif., commit suicide – The Washington Post

U.S. Health Officials Are Finally Paying Attention To Palo Alto School Suicides

Teen suicide clusters in Palo Alto: Is media attention at fault? – CSMonitor.com

Let’s end it with two videos….

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Voting (HBO) – YouTube

Syrian Refugees Part 1 | Full Frontal with Samantha Bee | TBS – YouTube

This is an open thread..post what you want…

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Thursday Reads: A Mixed Bag of News

Girl reading on a stone porch, by Winslow Homer

Girl reading on a stone porch, by Winslow Homer

Good Morning!!

The images in this post are from the blog, Reading and Art. I don’t have any central theme this morning, just a mixed bag of news stories. beginning with damaging explosions in Tianjin, China.

CNN reports, Tianjin blasts: Dozens dead; areas of Chinese port city devastated.

You can see the devastation everywhere: in the hollowed out shells of barely-standing buildings, in the anguished faces of relatives waiting for news of loved ones, in the parade of scorched cars.

But what was it that set off the terrifying blasts that ripped through warehouses housing hazardous chemical materials, sending fireballs shooting across the sky and shaking tall buildings more than 2 miles away?

Hours later, amid the destruction in this northern Chinese port city of more than 13 million, the exact cause remained unclear.

A thick chemical odor hung in the air. Fires still burned in the waterfront industrial district where the explosions went off. And the grim toll kept mounting.

At least 44 people are confirmed dead, 12 firefighters among them, officials said Thursday. More than 500 are hospitalized, 52 with severe injuries. Dozens of firefighters are missing.

Local authorities suspended firefighting efforts Thursday because of a lack of information about the “dangerous goods” stored at the warehouse at the heart of the blasts, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

CNN has dramatic photos at the link. A few more stories on the disaster:

Vice News: Video Emerges of Horrific Tianjin Explosion as Death Toll Rises.

USA Today, 12 firefighters among 50 dead in Chinese port city explosions.

This is a developing story, and it sounds like the death toll is likely to rise.

Girl reading under an oak tree, by Winslow Homer

Girl reading under an oak tree, by Winslow Homer

You’ve probably heard by now that Jimmy Carter has cancer that has spread from his liver to other organs.

Washington Post, Former president Jimmy Carter, 90, announces that he has cancer.

Former president Jimmy Carter announced Wednesday that he has cancer and will be undergoing treatment at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta.

Carter, 90, said the disease was discovered during recent liver surgery to remove “a small mass” and that the cancer “is now in other parts of my body.”

“I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare,” Carter said in a statement on the Carter Center Web site. “A more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.”

In a statement, President Obama said he and first lady Michelle Obama wished Carter “a full and fast recovery.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with [wife] Rosalynn and the entire Carter family as they face this challenge with the same grace and determination that they have shown so many times before,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House. “Jimmy, you’re as resilient as they come, and along with the rest of America, we are rooting for you.”

The president also spoke with Carter on Wednesday evening to wish him “full and speedy recovery” and extended best wishes on behalf of himself and first lady Michelle Obama, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

According to NBC News, Carter said “a more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.”

Sunlight and shadow, by Winslow Homer

Sunlight and shadow, by Winslow Homer

Sweden has dropped some of its charges against Julian Assange.

Wall Street Journal, Sweden Runs Out of Time on Parts of Assange Probe.

STOCKHOLM—Swedish prosecutors on Thursday ran out of time to pursue two of four investigations into allegations of sexual assault against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning.

Prosecutors said that probes into suspected unlawful coercion and sexual molestation would be dropped as the five-year limit that Swedish law allows for such charges to be brought has come to an end.

The five-year deadline for a second count of sexual molestation will be reached Aug. 18, prosecutors said. If the statute of limitation on that allegation also comes into effect, Mr. Assange would be left facing a single, more serious accusation of rape, over which prosecutors have until 2020 to question him….

Mr. Assange was accused of the crimes by two women during a visit to Sweden in August 2010. Prosecutors requested Mr. Assange return to Sweden from the U.K to face questioning.

The WikiLeaks founder, who denies the crimes, refused to return to Sweden, saying he feared he would extradited from Sweden to the U.S. where he could face trial over the publication by WikiLeaks of classified U.S. documents.

Assange says he is disappointed, according to BBC News.

The Wikileaks founder said he was “extremely disappointed” and said the Swedish prosecutor had avoided hearing his side of the story….

He sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, fearing he would then be sent to the US for questioning about the activities of Wikileaks.

Under Swedish law, charges cannot be laid without interviewing the suspect.

Mr Assange said he was innocent and claimed prosecutors had refused to visit him at the embassy.

They also refused to promise not to send him to the US if he were to go to Sweden, he said.

Mr Assange said: “I am strong but the cost to my family is unacceptable.”

The new novel, by Winslow Homer

The new novel, by Winslow Homer

In clown car news, Mike Huckabee said some more insane things about Planned Parenthood and abortion.

Talking Points Memo, Huckabee: DOJ Should ‘Criminally Prosecute Planned Parenthood.’

“I would also invoke the 15th and Fourteenth Amendments,” he said on Wednesday. “This is the power that we have to stop this incredible, barbaric scourge of abortion. Not just stop funding Planned Parenthood, but we need to invoke the Fifth and 14th Amendment. The Fifth Amendment guarantees due process for every person. The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law for every person.”

Huckabee said that he believes that unborn children are people, guaranteeing them Fifth and 14th Amendment rights.

“I would take that position. I would act on behalf of those unborn children, and I would let those who want to slaughter babies, those who want to sell their body parts, let them sue me,” he said.

In response, Melissa McEwan writes:

Again, this is less like chipping away at Roe and more like taking a bulldozer to it.

I have said many times (for instance) that fetuses are valued more highly than the people who carry them, that the potential life of every fetus is more important than the actual life of a pregnant person. Never has this been more clear.

If Mike Huckabee, or any of his fellow Republican candidates, had their way, fetuses would have not equivalent rights, but more rights than any pregnant person.

Protip, Huckabee: “Slaughtering babies” is already against the law.

The country school, by Winslow Homer

The country school, by Winslow Homer

CNN reports on a study showing that kids in elementary school are getting crushing amounts of homework.

Kids have three times too much homework, study finds; what’s the cost?

The study, published Wednesday in The American Journal of Family Therapy, found students in the early elementary school years are getting significantly more homework than is recommended by education leaders, in some cases nearly three times as much homework as is recommended.

The standard, endorsed by the National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association, is the so-called “10-minute rule” — 10 minutes per grade level per night. That translates into 10 minutes of homework in the first grade, 20 minutes in the second grade, all the way up to 120 minutes for senior year of high school. The NEA and the National PTA do not endorse homework for kindergarten….

Parents reported first-graders were spending 28 minutes on homework each night versus the recommended 10 minutes. For second-graders, the homework time was nearly 29 minutes, as opposed to the 20 minutes recommended.

And kindergartners, their parents said, spent 25 minutes a night on after-school assignments, according to the study carried out by researchers from Brown University, Brandeis University, Rhode Island College, Dean College, the Children’s National Medial Center and the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.

Homer, Winslow 6

That is ridiculous and harmful. Children at younger ages learn far more from play and interacting with other kids than from regimented school assignments.

“It is absolutely shocking to me to find out that particularly kindergarten students (who) are not supposed to have any homework at all … are getting as much homework as a third-grader is supposed to get,” said Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, the contributing editor of the study and clinical director of the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.

“Anybody who’s tried to keep a 5-year-old at a table doing homework for 25 minutes after school knows what that’s like. I mean children don’t want to be doing, they want to be out playing, they want to be interacting and that’s what they should be doing. That’s what’s really important.”

The Pope is coming to the U.S., and one of his stops will be at a jail in Philadelphia.

Reuters: At drab Philadelphia jail, anxious times precede papal visit.

One of 17 stops on the pope’s first U.S. tour, the visit to the inner-city jail is a reminder of the emphasis the Argentine pontiff has placed on social justice issues since being named head of the Roman Catholic Church in March 2013.

The pope’s stop at the Philadelphia facility will be the latest in a series of prison visits by Francis, an outspoken opponent of the death penalty and lengthy prison terms. He has counseled teenagers in juvenile detention in Brazil. In Bolivia, he kissed inmates in the country’s most violent prison.

His visit also comes at a time when a growing number of Democrats and Republicans are questioning tough criminal sentencing policies that have left the United States with the highest incarceration rate in the developed world. Barack Obama, who last month became the first sitting U.S. president to tour a federal penitentiary, has called for legislation overhauling sentencing rules.

Advocates for prisoner rights say they are pleased the pope has decided to put the issue on his agenda during the U.S. tour, which will include attending a conference on family life in Philadelphia, plus stops in Washington and New York.

Morning glories, by Winslow Homer

Morning glories, by Winslow Homer

I was going to write about Hillary and the media’s obsession with her emails, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, here’s an inspirational piece from Peter Daou and Tom Watson at #HillaryMen.

Hillary’s Path to History Will Get Much Rougher and She’s Ready.

There is a manic urge among the media, the GOP and the elite commentariat to Stop Hillary – to block a woman from reaching the pinnacle of American political leadership.

Each poll, news story or issue that appears to harm her is seized upon with a strange combination of desperation and glee. It’s an unsavory process but Hillary knew what she was in for when she decided to seek the presidency a second time.

As #HillaryMen, we’re undaunted by the negative stories, unwavering in our support for Hillary and unyielding in our commitment to help smash the ultimate gender barrier.

Ending a 44-0 shutout that has lasted nearly a quarter millennium was never going to be easy. There is no cakewalk to the White House. And certainly not for a woman.

We’ve worked in politics and media for nearly two decades. Peter is a veteran of two presidential campaigns, including Hillary’s 2008 run. We’ve seen every permutation of every attack, every rise and fall in the polls, every gaffe and every zinger, every debate moment and debate aftermath, every nervous election night and every election surprise.

We know what lies ahead for Hillary’s campaign and we realize there will be times when the obstacles seem insurmountable. They are not.

For all practical purposes, the 2016 race is just getting underway. As the first summer of the campaign winds down, the rhetoric heats up and political prognostications start climbing in pitch. The fall frenzy begins in a matter of weeks.

I plan to head over to #HillaryMen every time I get angry and/or anxious about something written or said about her in the media. In case you haven’t read it yet, here’s a link to “The Facts about Hillary Clinton’s Emails” at her campaign website.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread, and enjoy your Thursday.


Sunday Reads: Bigots, Backends, BB and Bernie

2b1076fb7276f1b10c52a29515cc445bGood Afternoon

Don’t know about y’all, but my insomnia is working overtime lately. I’ve tried to get some sleep last night but no such luck so, here is this morning’s post. If it seems a little pffft….you know why, it is because I am writing it with no sleep.

First up, some sad news for VP Biden, I just feel so much sorrow for the man.

Beau Biden Dies at 46 – The Atlantic

Shortly after Joe Biden was elected to the Senate in 1972, tragedy struck. A car crash killed his wife and infant daughter and left both of his young sons severely injured. Only 29 years old at the time, Biden considered resigning from the Senate to care for his remaining family. A cadre of long-time senators, including Ted Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey, convinced Biden he could do both. So he did, leaving instructions that his sons’ phone calls were always to be put through during the day, and commuting back from Washington by train to be with them every night.Although Beau Biden was not a carbon copy of his father, he shared his unrelenting commitment to public service. Beau, the former attorney general of Delaware and son of Vice President Joe Biden, died Saturday from a recurrence of brain cancer at age 46. “The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words,” his father said in a statement. “We know that Beau’s spirit will live on in all of us—especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children, Natalie and Hunter.”Beau’s first experience in government came when he worked as a lawyer for the Justice Department before entering private practice. He held the rank of major in the Delaware Army National Guard, and served a yearlong tour in Iraq from October 2008 to September 2009. There, he worked as a judge advocate general in the waning days of the U.S. occupation. His deployment coincided with his father’s run for the vice presidency in 2008. “He’ll go, [although] I don’t want him going,” Joe told a crowd on the campaign trail. “But I don’t want my grandsons or granddaughters going back in 15 years, so how we leave makes a big difference.”

There is a lot more at that Atlantic article. It mentions how Beau did things his own way…and it also discusses the criticism he received after the duPont sentence, that some felt was a little on the easy side.For some pictures: Moving Photos Show A Young Joe Biden Swearing Into Senate By Son Beau’s Bedside After Crash

When Vice President Joe Biden was first sworn in to the U.S. Senate in 1973, he took his oath by the bedside of his son Beau, who’d been injured in a car accident in December 1972 that claimed the lives of Joe Biden’s first wife and daughter.

Images of Biden’s swearing-in circulated on Twitter Saturday night after the vice president announced Beau had died from brain cancer. Beau Biden was 46.

joe biden beau biden

In this Jan. 5, 1973 black-and-white file photo, four-year-old Beau Biden, foreground, watches his dad, Joe Biden, center, being sworn in as the U.S. senator from Delaware, by Senate Secretary Frank Valeo, left, in ceremonies in a Wilmington hospital. Beau was injured in an accident that killed his mother and sister in December. Mrs. Biden’s father, Robert Hunter, holds the Bible. (AP Photo/File)
joe biden beau biden

Joseph H. Biden Jr., left, offers words of encouragement to his bedridden son, Beau, before Bidden was sworn in as the United States Senator from Delaware in ceremonies in Wilmington hospital on Jan. 5, 1973. Biden’s other son, Hunter, talks with Robert Hunter, Biden’s father-in-law. Beau is still in traction from an auto accident on Dec. 18, in which the Senator’s wife and daughter were killed. (AP Photo/Brian Horton)

Also this weekend, BB King’s funeral draws hundreds as Obama says country ‘has lost a legend’ | US news | The Guardian

2713e7da2899d54cf107ac4964b60e3dHundreds of people filled a church in the Mississippi Delta for the funeral on Saturday of BB King, who rose from sharecropper in the area’s flat cotton fields to worldwide fame as a blues singer and guitarist who influenced generations of entertainers.

King was 89 when he died on 14 May in Las Vegas. At his request, his body was returned to his native Mississippi for a final homecoming.

Amid rain, about 500 people filled the sanctuary of Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church, a red brick structure that sits in a field off of BB King Road in Indianola. More than 200 people who couldn’t get into the sanctuary watched a live broadcast of the funeral in the church’s fellowship hall, many waving hand-held fans with a black-and-white photo of a smiling King hugging his black electric guitar, Lucille.

At the beginning of the service, family members filed past King’s open casket, which had an image of Lucille embroidered on the padded white cloth inside the lid. Later, the casket was closed and covered with a large arrangement of red roses.

The Reverend Herron Wilson, who delivered the eulogy, said King proved people can triumph over difficult circumstances.

5d47a8ede4486e27334c362547d9eff8“Hands that once picked cotton would someday pick guitar strings on a national and international stage. Amazing,” Wilson said.

[…]

More than 4,000 people viewed his open casket Friday at the BB King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola.

One of his sons, Willie King of Chicago, said his father taught him to respond with love when others are angry.

“For a man coming out of the cotton field unlearned and you take his music and draw four corners of the world together – that is amazing,” Willie King said on Friday at the museum, where his father will be buried.

King’s public viewing Friday was almost like a state funeral, with Mississippi Highway Patrol officers in dress uniform standing at each end of the casket. Two of his black electric guitars stood among sprays of flowers.

b829586fd1df341cc0dd4de534c05408Before we get to some other links on police shootings…I want to put this link here, it is something that is making news this morning: Photo Raises Doubts About Police Shooting of Jermaine McBean – NBC News

After Florida police shot Jermaine McBean to death as he walked home with an unloaded air rifle, they said there was no reason to believe he did not hear their orders to drop the weapon and that he pointed it at them.

But a newly emerged photo that shows headphones in McBean’s ears immediately after the 2013 shooting raises questions about the police version of events, including why the white earbuds were later found stuffed in the dead computer expert’s pocket.

And another aspect of the police account is also being contradicted — by a man who called 911 in alarm when he saw McBean walking around with the air rifle but who also says McBean never pointed it at police or anyone else.

Michael Russell McCarthy, 58, told NBC News that McBean had the Winchester Model 1000 Air Rifle balanced on his shoulders behind his neck, with his hand over both ends, and was turning around to face police when one officer began shooting.

“He [McBean] couldn’t have fired that gun from the position he was in. There was no possible way of firing it and at the same time hitting something,” McCarthy said. “I kind of blame myself, because if I hadn’t called it might not have happened.”


Jermaine McBean shortly after he was fatally shot by police in Oakland Park, Fla., on July 31, 2013, while carrying an unloaded air rifle. Police say he ignored their orders to drop the weapon and was not wearing headphones; his family’s lawyer says this picture, taken by a witness, shows that was false.Courtesy David Schoen

If you look at the full image, at the link above, you can see where the gun ended up as well…

a8907210cdaf20d9e77562ade5a83a88I think this is relevant since a new report has come out: U.S. police have shot dead 385 people in five months: Washington Post | Reuters

U.S. police have shot and killed 385 people during the first five months of this year, a rate of more than two a day, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

The death rate is more than twice that tallied by the federal government over the past decade, a count that officials concede is incomplete, the newspaper said.

The analysis is based on data the Post is compiling on every fatal shooting by police in 2015, as well as of every officer killed by gunfire in the line of duty.

“We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information,” said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving law enforcement.

The Post analysis comes as a national debate is raging over the police use of deadly force, especially against minorities.

Federal Bureau of Investigation records over the past decade show about 400 fatal police shootings a year, or an average of 1.1 deaths a day. Reporting of shootings by police agencies is voluntary.

But the Post’s analysis indicates the daily death toll for 2015 is close to 2.6 as of Friday. At that pace, police will have shot and killed nearly 1,000 people by the end of the year, the paper said.

09276b1d3e4d22c6bdeb894a63b275a6Geez. Here are a few of the highlights…

Among unarmed victims, two-thirds were black or Hispanic.

Based on census numbers for the areas where the killings took place, blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities.

[…]

Three of the 385 fatal shootings have resulted in an officer being charged with a crime.

What can be said in response to that article? I mean, we know what needs to be done, but when you see the statistics represented as such, and then see proof that police are covering up their killings…I do feel like throwing up.

Uh, some more stats for ya: Black Women in San Francisco Are Nearly 50% of City’s Female Arrests, and Only 6% of the Female Population | Alternet

According to a new report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice African-American women in San Francisco account for 50% of the female arrests, but only make up 6% of the female population.

ab3619032cd28c5d027d6274d37ce119 (1)The difference between Black female and non-black female arrests are four times higher than the rest of California. This rate has gone up sharply in San Francisco: in 1980, the arrest disparity between black women and non-black women was 4.1 percent, which is less than one-third of 2013’s racial disparity.

Get the link to the full report at the alternet link above.

Moving on to Bernie Sanders. It seems he wrote some shitty article about, well: Shakesville: On Bernie Sanders’ 1972 Essay

So, a Mother Jones profile of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders dug up, among other things, an essay Sanders penned in 1972 for an alternative newspaper called the Vermont Freeman. Titled “Man—and Woman,” the piece is an exploration of gender roles written in a ’70s pop-psych milieu, and it describes a man in a couple fantasizing about abusing women while having sex with a female partner who is fantasizing about being raped; invokes a hypothetical newspaper article about a preteen girl being gang-raped; and references the woman having a “sex friend when you were 13 years old.”

db8c136e2fc874f2aea861e98ba5ee99I find this disturbing in so many ways. But then, y’all know my reasons.

This is a longish quote from the essay and some thoughts from the Shakesville blog…warning, it is fucked up shit. (the quote)

A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy. A woman on her knees, a woman tied up, a woman abused.

A woman enjoys intercourse with her man—as she fantasizes being raped by 3 men simultaneously.

The man and woman get dressed up on Sunday—and go to Church, or maybe to their “revolutionary” political meeting.

Have you ever looked at the Stag, Man, Hero, Tough magazines on the shelf of your local bookstore? Do you know why the newspapers with the articles like “Girl 12 raped by 14 men” sell so well? To what in us are they appealing?

Women, for their own preservation, are trying to pull themselves together. And it’s necessary for all of humanity that they do so. Slavishness on one hand breeds pigness on the other hand. Pigness on one hand breeds slavishness on the other. Men and women—both are losers. Women adapt themselves to fill the needs of men, and men adapt themselves to fill the needs of women. In the beginning there were strong men who killed the animals and brought home the food—and the dependent women who cooked it. No More! Only the roles remain—waiting to be shaken off. There are no “human” oppressors. Oppressors have lost their humanity. On one hand “slavishness,” on the other hand “pigness.” Six of one, half dozen of the other. Who wins?

Many women seem to be walking a tightrope now. Their qualities of love, openness, and gentleness were too deeply enmeshed with qualities of dependency, subservience, and masochism. How do you love—without being dependent? How do you be gentle—without being subservient? How do you maintain a relationship without giving up your identity and without getting strung out? How do you reach out and give your heart to your lover, but maintain the soul which is you?

278f086295c76115ae76f91d5ba276ccAnd Men. Men are in pain too. They are thinking, wondering. What is it they want from a woman? Are they at fault? Are they perpetrating this man-woman situation? Are they oppressors?

The man is bitter.

“You lied to me,” he said. (She did).

“You said that you loved me, that you wanted me, that you needed me. Those are your words.” (They are).

“But in reality,” he said, “if you ever loved me, or wanted me, or needed me (all of which I’m not certain was ever true), you also hated me. You hated me—just as you have hated every man in your entire life, but you didn’t have the guts to tell me that. You hated me before you ever saw me, even though I was not your father, or your teacher, or your sex friend when you were 13 years old, or your husband. You hated me not because of who I am, or what I was to you, but because I am a man. You did not deal with me as a person—as me. You lived a lie with me, used me and played games with me—and that’s a piggy thing to do.”

Marilyn

Marilyn

And she said, “You wanted me not as a woman, or a lover, or a friend, but as a submissive woman, or submissive friend, or submissive lover; and right now where my head is I balk at even the slightest suspicion of that kind of demand.”

And he said, “You’re full of __________.”

And they never again made love together (which they had each liked to do more than anything) or never ever saw each other one more time.

After I read this last night, my thoughts were: One, 1972 is a long-ass time ago, but Sanders was also 31 years old in 1972. Not exactly a kid. Two, I had no desire to see Sanders “crucified” over it, as became the charge against anyone who raised concerns about it. Basically I just wanted him to say, “That was super fucked up and indefensible and I regret it.” Three, asking a man to repudiate troubling attitudes about women/sexual assault isn’t an attack. It’s a request to (maybe) reestablish trust. And four, that shouldn’t be a big deal, since people who genuinely believe they fucked up generally don’t mind saying so.

Melissa is being generous if you ask me….I’ve got some serious issues with this shit. But let’s continue:

But Sanders took a different route. Through a campaign spokesperson, the essay was described as a “dumb attempt at dark satire in an alternative publication.”

Step One: Call it satire. Step Two: Call us humorless.

The spokesman further explained: “When Bernie got into this race, he understood that there would be efforts to distracts voters and the press from the real issues confronting the nation today.”

8d0e2570600b7344929065b3043ec77aWell, not for nothing, pal, but male politicians seeking higher office who have loathsome ideas about women, gender roles, and sexual violence is one of “the real issues confronting the nation today.” Which is why I was hoping that Sanders would take seriously the concerns raised about some of the language used in that piece.

The truth is, I’m way more angry about that response than I was about the fucking essay.

Oh yeah, I agree with Melissa here…she is fucking right about this. For the “spokesman” asshole to dismiss the real issue here, only goes to show that what ever disgusting misogynist perverted sexist pedo shit Sanders was selling back in 1972, it still on the sale rack in 2015.

Now for some other disgusting crap being slung about…this time it is in the name of Christians, via Digby:

fce07c4517963a31fd284292aadb8c5a“Abuse is the new racism”

That comes from a conservative Christian writer who isn’t suggesting that abuse is a problem or even that it’s real. He’s saying that the people who are accused of abuse, like those who are accused of racism, are the real victims:

A conservative Quiverfull writer with ties to the Duggars has come out swinging in defense of the “19 Kids & Counting” stars, posting a series of outraged Facebook posts praising the family in spite of an ongoing sexual abuse scandal.

In the posts, which were first cited by watchdog group Homeschoolers Anonymous, homeschooling activist Rick Boyer — also the author of the Jim Bob Duggar-endorsed book “Take Back the Land” — asserted that the reality-show family appropriately handled allegations of incest and assault by eldest son Josh Duggar, and that they do not deserve to be criticized.

6be337bc688d7d63d00b22e11c0291c3“‘Abuse’ is the new ‘racism,’” Boyer, who also sits on the board of the Home Educators Association of Virginia, wrote. “As soon as you’re accused of it, you’re considered guilty. Just what would you like the Duggars to have done? Turn all their kids over to a godless psychologist? Maybe one supplied by the local public school system where ‘abuse’ is so unheard of? Should they have skinned Josh alive, rolled him in salt and hung him on a meathook?”

These people.

Another look at the same topic: When “Religion” Is Just Bigotry | The Mahablog

Conservative Christians live to feel persecuted. It’s what inspires them to get up in the morning.

 

d90703782a5f895a015c3ac9bd715940You know, Fox News has been on top of the Duggar story since the beginning. Not. Guess how much time Fox News has spent covering the Duggar scandal – Salon.com -If you answered “Less than 2 minutes,” you are correct!

This post is getting long and I am getting tired. The rest in dump-o-links.
Lawsuit Accuses Texas of Denying Birth Certificates to U.S.-Born Children | The Bob and Chez Show | News and Politics Podcast and Blog

WATCH: Mississippi racists call woman a n****r in Walmart parking lot — because it’s a day that ends in ‘day’

New book explores link between emotions and contemporary racial violence

Abortion: Pro-choice outpolls pro-life for first time in 7 years – POLITICO

Lighthearted Reality Show Sends Czech Family To Nazi Summer Camp | Wonkette

Eschaton: I Do Not Think This Is A Good Idea

These next two links go together:

8484936f7d00f8f7f7094aae354cec24With lots of love and money, Tampa’s historic gems keep shining | Tampa Bay Times

Raul Lavin entered the world nearly a century ago as a member of the Cuban Club.

Lavin, 98, the club’s oldest member, said his parents signed him up the month before he was born. That entitled him to 60 days of free membership, a great gift in those times, he said.

“The first thing cigar makers ever did was pay the dues to the club.”

That’s because the club provided many of the joys and necessities of life: fellowship, theater, dancing, the neighborhood bar, doctor visits, pharmacy, hospitalization and burial.

The Cuban Club, Italian Club and Centro Asturiano, where Spanish immigrants gathered, stand as Tampa gems, looking like grand mansions built by railroad barons of the era. These elaborate edifices, all built between 1914 and 1918 to replace original buildings, housed America’s first mutual aid societies, forerunners to health maintenance organizations. Celebrated architect M. Leo Elliott designed or helped design each building, all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A rescue effort led by descendants of the early members saved the buildings. The Cuban and Italian clubs were in such decay by the 1980s that pigeons, entering through broken windows, roosted in once-glittering ballrooms. Fund raisers and grants enabled the members to put millions into renovating them.

85bf0b9c93e420498a68a90b0202e3e8These clubs were such an important part of my family. My mother was born in the old Centro Asturiano Hospital.

Centro Asturiano never deteriorated to the degree of the other two buildings because members raised the money to make improvements as needed over the years, said president Frank Menendez.

Another early club, organized by black Cuban immigrants who felt the full sting of the Jim Crow American South, did not fare so well. The Marti-Maceo Society’s red brick club house on Seventh Avenue, built in 1907 with arched doors and windows and a high wraparound balcony outside, fell to the wrecking ball of urban renewal in 1965.

Sharon Gomez, president of the club — named for Jose Marti and celebrated black Cuban Gen. Antonio Maceo Grajales — said a lawyer member led a failed effort to save the old building. Members moved to a modest replacement on Seventh Avenue near the western gate of Ybor City. Like the other clubs, Marti-Maceo rents out the facility for private gatherings.

Not many of those involved in the rescue of the old buildings remember the time when cigar factories were smoking and the clubs were the center of life. Cuban Club president Patrick Manteiga, 51, for example, is too young. Manteiga, editor of La Gaceta, remembers the building only as a rental venue; as a teenager, he helped the organizers of the popular Artists & Writers Balls in the early 1980s.

All the clubs have lost members over the years, he said, just as service clubs like Optimist or Elks have.

“They just aren’t a necessary part of life.”

They were vital in the beginning, when “Latins in non-Latin parts of town were not very welcome,” he said. Depending on the club, within its confines members could bowl, play handball, work out, take a dip in an indoor pool and meet friends in the cantina for card games and dominoes.

157adbfedc928bcf0a495216a6ff61beNow, only Centro Asturiano’s cantina is open to a few older members who gather daily for dominoes and cards. It’s a small space on the second floor. When the club had 6,000 members, the cantina was a cavernous room on the ground floor. There, the magnificent, 42-foot marble and onyx bar — the longest of its kind in the world, Menendez says — is open only when the room is rented.

Immigrants took great pride in these buildings, which served as their country clubs. Joe Caltagirone, 89, historian for the Italian Club, said his grandfather would come home from work on a farm, bathe, eat dinner, put on a coat and tie and go to the club.

“My grandfather would not be caught dead in there without a tie and coat.”

[…]

For Lavin, the best time at the Cuban Club was right after World War II. The cigar factories were still bustling and so was the club, bringing in star band leaders such as Cab Calloway and Count Basie.

The club put on elaborate productions of light operettas like The Merry Widow, with lavish gowns for the women, elegant uniforms and cutaways on the men.

“Every Sunday, the Cuban Club theater would get full,” Lavin said.

“It was a beautiful period.”

A few pictures…

The Cuban Club:

images

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Centro Asturiano:

Photo 34_Centro Asturiano Tampa

 

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A5aPLSdCMAALP-u.jpg large

 

The Italian Club:

 

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Centro Espanol of West Tampa:

Photo173434

 

 

Centro Espanol started mutual aid society movement | Tampa Bay Times

The club that started the mutual aid society movement is now a group of about 60 whose two clubhouses were sold to other entities.

4967442725_43e8769b7a_b

Centro Espanol Ybor City

 

Spanish immigrants led by Ignacio Haya — whose factory beat Vicente Martinez Ybor’s in turning out Tampa’s first hand-rolled cigar — formed Centro Espanol in 1891. It grew to nearly 3,000 people in its heyday. In 1912, the club built the large brick structure that still bears its name at 1536 E Seventh Ave. in Ybor City. Designed by Francis J. Kennard in a mix of Spanish, Moorish and French Renaissance styles, the building has been designated a U.S. national historic landmark. It’s now occupied by the Carne ChopHouse restaurant.

By the way, here is a picture of Jose Marti at Ybor’s cigar factory 1893:

martientampa

This next story is ridiculous, and I think it is fucking laughable that the father was not arrested. Georgia woman shackled over son’s school absences: Reports | www.ajc.com

a8a69479937aad70af98a71241ffcf0bA Georgia woman likely faces probation after she was arrested and put in ankle shackles earlier this month because of her son’s school absences, according to People.

Julie Giles, of Screven County, said she was arrested after her son had six more unexcused absences than the school system allows, in part because he is frequently ill and Giles does not have the money to take him to the doctor.

“As all of you know, my boys being sick often is nothing new. … The truth is, l cannot afford a copay every single time they are sick, but I never want to send them to school when they feel bad or could possibly get others sick,” she wrote on Facebook on May 12. “I have NEVER been in trouble before in my life and the boys are beside themselves.”

Giles was booked on May 14 and released within minutes, according to the Screven County Jail. She was charged with one count of failure to comply with mandatory attendance.

65b9880cee477d16e6c529ebfd8be86bShe posted that day to say she had been shackled by the ankles when she turned herself in. Screven County Sheriff Mike Kile confirmed this to People, but said the shackling is standard procedure during any arrest.

A GoFundMe has been set up for Giles. As of this writing, $710 has been raised out of a $2,500 goal.

Giles will likely receive probation, Kile told People.

She is one of  12 people this school year referred to the court for student truancy, Screven County Schools Superintendent William Bland said in an email.

Giles’ husband, Keith, was not arrested, according to the New York Daily News. The school system report that was first filed with the sheriff’s office names only the person who enrolled the truant student, Bland said.

 

M28949-1b 001

M28949-1b 001

Read more about this shit at the link.

It even made the Foreign press: Sylvania teacher arrested following ‘THREE unexcused absences by son’ | Daily Mail Online

Finally some good news: Calif. high school has 100 percent college acceptance rate – NY Daily News

A California high school has beat the odds, sending all its graduating seniors off to college for the seventh straight year, despite being located in a neighborhood riddled with crime and plagued with gangs.

0bb0ff6f2bf8242a341e98ba53541568“It’s not Beverly Hills by any stretch,” said Paul Hosch, vice president of mission advancement at Verbum Dei High School, which boasts a 100 percent college acceptance rate.

“The neighborhoods that surround the students are underserved. There are very few grocery stores. There are lots of gangs. It’s not a place most people would want to raise their kids,” he added.

This is an open thread, and have a good Sunday.


Thursday Reads: An Important Story about Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Francoise in a round-backed chair reading, Mary Cassatt

Francoise in a round-backed chair reading, Mary Cassatt

 

Good Morning!!

I stayed up late last night reading the stunning Rolling Stone article on the culture of sexual assault and official cover-up at the University of Virginia. After I finished it, I had quite a bit of difficulty getting to sleep. The story was reported and written by investigative journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely. The headline is A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA. Before I begin, I want to warn everyone that the article includes explicit descriptions of sexual assault and a shocking culture of indifference to victims. I’m not going to excerpt explicit descriptions of rapes, but I do want to quote some of the reactions to them by students and administrators.

The article opens with a graphic description of a violent gang rape of 18-year-old incoming freshman “Jackie” that took place at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house during a party. Hours later, beaten and bloody, Jackie called “friends” for help, but instead of taking her to a hospital they talked her out of reporting the assault because it would ruin her “reputation,” and they as her friends would be ostracized and would no longer be invited to frat parties.

So Jackie hid in her room and sank into a deep depression. She received no support from her “friends” and acquaintances. The man who had taken her to the party and set up her rape by 7 men behaved as if nothing abnormal had happened, and asked her why she was ignoring him. Erdely on the friends’ reactions:

She was having an especially difficult time figuring out how to process that awful night, because her small social circle seemed so underwhelmed. For the first month of school, Jackie had latched onto a crew of lighthearted social strivers, and her pals were now impatient for Jackie to rejoin the merriment. “You’re still upset about that?” Andy asked one Friday night when Jackie was crying. Cindy, a self-declared hookup queen, said she didn’t see why Jackie was so bent out of shape. “Why didn’t you have fun with it?” Cindy asked. “A bunch of hot Phi Psi guys?” One of Jackie’s friends told her, unconcerned, “Andy said you had a bad experience at a frat, and you’ve been a baby ever since.”

That type of response to sexual assaults is apparently common at UVA.

That reaction of dismissal, downgrading and doubt is a common theme UVA rape survivors hear, including from women. “Some of my hallmates were skeptical,” recalls recent grad Emily Renda, who says that weeks into her first year she was raped after a party. “They were silent and avoided me afterwards. It made me doubt myself.” Other students encounter more overt hostility, as when a first-year student confided her assault to a friend. “She said she thought I was just looking for attention,” says the undergrad. Shrugging off a rape or pointing fingers at the victim can be a self-protective maneuver for women, a form of wishful thinking to reassure themselves they could never be so vulnerable to violence. For men, skepticism is a form of self-protection too. For much of their lives, they’ve looked forward to the hedonistic fun of college, bearing every expectation of booze and no-strings sex. A rape heralds the uncomfortable idea that all that harmless mayhem may not be so harmless after all. Easier, then, to assume the girl is lying, even though studies indicate that false rape reports account for, at most, eight percent of reports.

And so at UVA, where social status is paramount, outing oneself as a rape victim can be a form of social suicide. “I don’t know many people who are engrossed in the party scene and have spoken out about their sexual assaults,” says third-year student Sara Surface. After all, no one climbs the social ladder only to cast themselves back down. Emily Renda, for one, quickly figured out that few classmates were sympathetic to her plight, and instead channeled her despair into hard partying. “My drinking didn’t stand out,” says Renda, who often ended her nights passed out on a bathroom floor. “It does make you wonder how many others are doing what I did: drinking to self-medicate.”

Investigative journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely of Rolling Stone

Investigative journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely of Rolling Stone

Erdely talked to a number of survivors, and she found a history of gang rapes at Phi Kappa Psi fraternity stretching back at least 30 years. She describes a culture in which male upperclassmen target freshmen girls and deliberately take advantage of their lack of sophistication about the danger of sexual violence on college campuses.

A year later, Jackie did report the rape to a UVA administrator. She was sent to Dean Nicole Eramo, who heads the “Sexual Misconduct Board.” Eramo subtly discouraged Jackie from reporting the rape.

When Jackie finished talking, Eramo comforted her, then calmly laid out her options. If Jackie wished, she could file a criminal complaint with police. Or, if Jackie preferred to keep the matter within the university, she had two choices. She could file a complaint with the school’s Sexual Misconduct Board, to be decided in a “formal resolution” with a jury of students and faculty, and a dean as judge. Or Jackie could choose an “informal resolution,” in which Jackie could simply face her attackers in Eramo’s presence and tell them how she felt; Eramo could then issue a directive to the men, such as suggesting counseling. Eramo presented each option to Jackie neutrally, giving each equal weight. She assured Jackie there was no pressure – whatever happened next was entirely her choice.

Like many schools, UVA has taken to emphasizing that in matters of sexual assault, it caters to victim choice. “If students feel that we are forcing them into a criminal or disciplinary process that they don’t want to be part of, frankly, we’d be concerned that we would get fewer reports,” says associate VP for student affairs Susan Davis. Which in theory makes sense: Being forced into an unwanted choice is a sensitive point for the victims. But in practice, that utter lack of guidance can be counterproductive to a 19-year-old so traumatized as Jackie was that she was contemplating suicide. Setting aside for a moment the absurdity of a school offering to handle the investigation and adjudication of a felony sex crime – something Title IX requires, but which no university on Earth is equipped to do – the sheer menu of choices, paired with the reassurance that any choice is the right one, often has the end result of coddling the victim into doing nothing.

“This is an alarming trend that I’m seeing on campuses,” says Laura Dunn of the advocacy group SurvJustice. “Schools are assigning people to victims who are pretending, or even thinking, they’re on the victim’s side, when they’re actually discouraging and silencing them.

The culture of cover-up at UVA is shocking to me, but it is probably typical of many colleges and universities, according to Erdely. However UVA is among a select group of 86 schools that is under investigation by the federal Office of Civil Rights because of their failure to deal with the problem. In September UVA held a two-hour trustees meeting to discuss sexual assault on campus.

Those two hours, however, were devoted entirely to upbeat explanations of UVA’s new prevention and response strategies, and to self-congratulations to UVA for being a “model” among schools in this arena. Only once did the room darken with concern, when a trustee in UVA colors – blue sport coat, orange bow tie – interrupted to ask, “Are we under any federal investigation with regard to sexual assault?”

Dean of students Allen Groves, in a blue suit and orange necktie of his own, swooped in with a smooth answer. He affirmed that while like many of its peers UVA was under investigation, it was merely a “standard compliance review.” He mentioned that a student’s complaint from the 2010-11 academic year had been folded into that “routine compliance review.” Having downplayed the significance of a Title IX compliance review – which is neither routine nor standard – he then elaborated upon the lengths to which UVA has cooperated with the Office of Civil Rights’ investigation, his tone and manner so reassuring that the room relaxed.

Told of the meeting, Office of Civil Rights’ Catherine Lhamon calls Groves’ mischaracterization “deliberate and irresponsible.” “Nothing annoys me more than a school not taking seriously their review from the federal government about their civil rights obligations,” she says.

Jackie eventually became involved with a UVA rape survivors group, but even among these women who were trying to deal with their traumatic experiences and reaching out to recent victims, the culture was one of not reporting their rapes to police.

UVA Dean of Students Nicole Eramo

UVA Dean of Students Nicole Eramo

You’ll recall that it was at UVA that 18-year-old Hannah Graham was abducted and murdered, allegedly by 32-year-old Jesse Matthew, who had been previously accused of rape at two different Virginia colleges in 2002 and 2003. He was not charged in either case, and he apparently went on to become a smoothly professional sexual predator. The news reports say that the victims did not want to press charges, but the truth is that colleges and universities regularly discourage young women from reporting rapes in order to protect their institutional reputations. Erdely addresses this issue at length in her article on UVA.

Matthew’s DNA was found under the fingernails of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who disappeared after she was locked out of a Metallica concert on the UVA campus in 2009. Harrington’s body was later found a few miles from where Hannah Graham’s body was recovered. Matthew’s DNA has also been connected to a violent rape and attempted murder that took place in Fairfax in 2005.

In her article, Erdely discusses the research done by psychologist David Lisak on campus rapists. He discovered that a small percentage of college men commit rapes, and they tend to be repeat offenders (PDF). That last link is to a peer-reviewed journal article by Lisak, “Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending by Undetected Rapists.” Erdely writes:

Lisak’s 2002 groundbreaking study of more than 1,800 college men found that roughly nine out of 10 rapes are committed by serial offenders, who are responsible for an astonishing average of six rapes each. None of the offenders in Lisak’s study had ever been reported. Lisak’s findings upended general presumptions about campus sexual assault: It implied that most incidents are not bumbling, he-said-she-said miscommunications, but rather deliberate crimes by serial sex offenders.

In his study, Lisak’s subjects described the ways in which they used the camouflage of college as fruitful rape-hunting grounds. They told Lisak they target freshmen for being the most naïve and the least-experienced drinkers. One offender described how his party-hearty friends would help incapacitate his victims: “We always had some kind of punch. . . . We’d make it with a real sweet juice. It was really powerful stuff. The girls wouldn’t know what hit them.” Presumably, the friends mixing the drinks did so without realizing the offender’s plot, just as when they probably high-fived him the next morning, they didn’t realize the behavior they’d just endorsed. That’s because the serial rapist’s behavior can look ordinary at college. “They’re not acting in a vacuum,” observes Lisak of predators. “They’re echoing that message and that culture that’s around them: the objectification and degradation of women.”

I won’t quote any more from the article, but I do recommend reading it if  you can handle it.

After the Rolling Stone article came out, UVA’s president suddenly decided maybe she should something about Jackie’s rape. From The Daily Progress, UVa calls for investigation into rape allegation in Rolling Stone article.

UVa President Teresa A. Sullivan released a statement Wednesday night, stating the university’s commitment to preventing sexual assault.

“The University takes seriously the issue of sexual misconduct, a significant problem that colleges and universities are grappling with across the nation,” Sullivan said in the statement. “Our goal is to provide an environment that is as safe as possible for our students and the entire University community.”

Erdely said UVa reinforced one of her major arguments in her article — that UVa administration focuses on prestige and appearance over student safety — with Sullivan’s statement….

“I am writing in response to a Rolling Stone magazine article that negatively depicts the University of Virginia and its handling of sexual misconduct cases,” Sullivan said at the beginning of the statement.

“It goes to show what their priorities are here — the fact that she would go out of her way to say I negatively depicted the university — this is the first thing on their minds,” Erdely said. “They need to be putting student safety first.”

UVA President Teresa Sullivan

UVA President Teresa Sullivan

Here’s the full statement:

Date: Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 6:17 PM
Subject: An Important Message from President Sullivan

To the University community:

I am writing in response to a Rolling Stone magazine article that negatively depicts the University of Virginia and its handling of sexual misconduct cases. Because of federal and state privacy laws, and out of respect for sexual assault survivors, we are very limited in what we can say about any of the cases mentioned in this article.

The article describes an alleged sexual assault of a female student at a fraternity house in September 2012, including many details that were previously not disclosed to University officials. I have asked the Charlottesville Police Department to formally investigate this incident, and the University will cooperate fully with the investigation.

The University takes seriously the issue of sexual misconduct, a significant problem that colleges and universities are grappling with across the nation. Our goal is to provide an environment that is as safe as possible for our students and the entire University community.

We have recently adopted several new initiatives and policies aimed at fostering a culture of reporting and raising awareness of the issues.

We want our students to feel comfortable coming forward with information when there are problems in the community and cooperating with local law enforcement and the student disciplinary process. We also want them to feel empowered to take action and to lead efforts to make our Grounds and our community a better place to live and learn.

We have been taking a leadership role on issues regarding sexual misconduct and violence. U.Va. hosted a national conference on this topic in February 2014. “Dialogue at U.Va.: Sexual Misconduct Among College Students” brought together national experts and professionals from approximately 60 colleges and universities to discuss best practices and strategies for prevention and response.

The HoosGotYourBack initiative, part of the Not On Our Grounds awareness campaign, was developed and launched in collaboration with students and with local Corner Merchants to increase active bystander behavior.

A number of other initiatives are also planned for the spring. Among them are the implementation of a new student sexual misconduct policy and a related training program, a campus climate survey, and an in-depth bystander intervention program that will include students, faculty, and staff.

More information about sexual violence education and resources is available on the University’s website at http://www.virginia.edu/sexualviolence/

Finally, I want to underscore our commitment to marshaling all available resources to assist our students who confront issues related to sexual misconduct. Our dedicated Student Affairs staff devote countless hours to educating and counseling our students on issues regarding their health and safety, and they stand ready to assist whenever students need help.

Teresa A. Sullivan
President

President Sullivan approved distribution of this message.

I’ll let you judge the sincerity of Sullivan’s statement.

I know there is plenty of other news going on, but this was all I could think about this morning. Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread, and feel free to discuss this post or not. I realize this is a very difficult subject, but it is also a vitally important one.


Lazy Saturday Reads: A Little Bit of This and That

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Good Morning!!

I have a mixed bag of reads for you this morning–a little bit of politics, education, historical mystery, and science. The paintings and drawings included in this post are by Vincent van Gogh.

Last night President Obama announced that he’s sending 1,500 more troops into Iraq, supposedly  to serve as “advisers” who will train troops to fight the Islamic State. The Independent reports:

Barack Obama has authorised the US military to send up to 1,500 more troops to Iraq on top of the current total of around 1,400 to bolster efforts to combat Isis.

American soldiers would not take a frontline role, the White House said, but conduct “training missions” with Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers around Baghdad and Erbil.

The move comes less than a fortnight after the last British and American troops left Afghanistan and despite international condemnation of Isis’ atrocities, the public are still wary of another interventionist war.

The announcement had nothing to do with Tuesday’s election, according to “White House officials.” From the New York Daily News:

“It was really not driven at all the political calendar,” a senior White House official told reporters.

The official said that the decision to escalate the U.S. mission followed requests “over the last several weeks” by Pentagon officials, and political developments in Iraq.

Administration officials said the new deployment will expand the U.S. mission by placing American military advisors and trainers in western and northern of Iraq, where Iraqi and Kurdish forces are directly fighting ISIS extremists.

Until now, U.S. troops have been mostly confined to Baghdad and the Kurdish city of Erbil.

The White House emphasized that American soldiers will not directly engage ISIS fighters.

And so, the endless war continues.

Old-Man-Reading

Today President Obama will officially announce his nomination of US Attorney Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General. From NPR:

Lynch, whom the White House describes as “a strong, independent prosecutor who has twice led one of the most important U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the country,” will be introduced at the White House Saturday, alongside current Attorney General Eric Holder.

The plan comes after NPR’s Carrie Johnson reported Thursday that Lynch, a lead federal prosecutor in New York City, could be nominated within days.

“Lynch, a graduate of Harvard Law School, worked her way up the ladder in Brooklyn,” Carrie said, “a huge office that handles everything from old-school Mafia busts to new forms of cybercrime.”

And from the LA Times, Attorney general pick Loretta Lynch would be first black woman in post.

President Obama will nominate Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, to replace Eric H. Holder Jr. as attorney general, the White House said Friday, a historic choice that would make her the first black woman to hold the post….

Obama will make the official announcement Saturday with Lynch and Holder at the White House before he leaves Sunday on a weeklong trip to Asia. The White House had originally planned to wait until Obama returned to Washington, but apparently changed its plans after numerous news organizations reported she was the likely pick.

The choice of Lynch reflects a typical middle-of-the-road path for Obama; she is a nominee who might be confirmed without great controversy if no fault is found in her resume. Liberals had pushed for Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, but he is unpopular with Republicans. Many in the legal community had hoped for scholarly Solicitor Gen. Donald Verrilli Jr.

Let’s hope she gets confirmed quickly, while Democrats still hold the majority in the Senate. A little more about her:

Lynch is the rare U.S. attorney who has not sought the limelight in what is normally a high-profile job with political potential. She rarely gives news conferences or interviews and recently ducked a gathering with Justice Department reporters in Washington. Her reputation in liberal legal circles is as someone who is not politically sophisticated.

A relative unknown outside her district, she came to prominence in New York in the late 1990s as the supervisor of the team that successfully prosecuted two police officers for the sexual assault with a broomstick of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. Three other officers were acquitted.

More recently, she has spent time in Washington as chairwoman of the attorney general’s advisory committee of U.S. attorneys, an The Novel Reader Van Goghinfluential job that brought her in close contact with Holder.

Diane Ravitch has an interesting piece at The New York Review of Books, The Myth of Chinese Super Schools. It’s a review of a new book, Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World, by Yong Zhao.

On December 3, 2013, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced yet again that American students were doing terribly when tested, in comparison to students in sixty-one other countries and a few cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong. Duncan presided over the release of the latest international assessment of student performance in reading, science, and mathematics (called the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA), and Shanghai led the nations of the world in all three categories.

Duncan and other policymakers professed shock and anguish at the results, according to which American students were average at best, nowhere near the top. Duncan said that Americans had to face the brutal fact that the performance of our students was “mediocre” and that our schools were trapped in “educational stagnation.”

He had used virtually the same rhetoric in 2010, when the previous PISA results were released. Despite the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, which mandated that every child in every school in grades 3–8 would be proficient in math and reading by 2014, and despite the Obama administration’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top program, the scores of American fifteen-year-old students on these international tests were nearly unchanged since 2000. Both NCLB and Race to the Top assumed that a steady diet of testing and accountability, of carrots for high scores and sticks for low scores, would provide an incentive for students and teachers to try harder and get higher test scores. But clearly, this strategy was not working. In his public remarks, however, Duncan could not admit that carrots and sticks don’t produce better education or even higher test scores. Instead, he blamed teachers and parents for failing to have high expectations.

Duncan, President Obama, and legislators looked longingly at Shanghai’s stellar results and wondered why American students could not surpass them. Why can’t we be like the Chinese?, they wondered. Why should we be number twenty-nine in the world in mathematics when Shanghai is number one? Why are our scores below those of Estonia, Poland, Ireland, and so many other nations? Duncan was sure that the scores on international tests were proof that we were falling behind the rest of the world and that they predicted economic disaster for the United States. What Duncan could not admit was that, after a dozen years, the Bush–Obama strategy of testing and punishing teachers and schools had failed.

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Like many other failed policies, the obsession with testing began under Ronald Reagan.

P0licymakers and legislators are convinced that the best way to raise test scores is to administer more standardized tests and to make them harder to pass. This love affair with testing had its origins in 1983, when a national commission on education released a report called “A Nation at Risk.”

President Ronald Reagan had hoped his commission would recommend vouchers and school prayers, but that did not happen. Instead, the report recommended a stronger curriculum, higher graduation requirements, more teacher pay, and longer school hours, as well as standards and testing at transitional points, like high school graduation. The main effect of the report was caused by its alarmist rhetoric, which launched a three-decade-plus obsession with the idea that American public schools are failing and that the way to fix them is to raise test scores.

And succeeding presidents have continued the “testing mania.” Ravich writes:

At this juncture comes the book that Barack Obama, Arne Duncan, members of Congress, and the nation’s governors and legislators need to read: Yong Zhao’s Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World. Zhao, born and educated in China, now holds a presidential chair and a professorship at the University of Oregon. He tells us that China has the best education system because it can produce the highest test scores. But, he says, it has the worst education system in the world because those test scores are purchased by sacrificing creativity, divergent thinking, originality, and individualism. The imposition of standardized tests by central authorities, he argues, is a victory for authoritarianism. His book is a timely warning that we should not seek to emulate Shanghai, whose scores reflect a Confucian tradition of rote learning that is thousands of years old. Indeed, the highest-scoring nations on the PISA examinations of fifteen-year-olds are all Asian nations or cities: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Singapore, Korea, Macao (China), and Japan.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Will the book make a difference to U.S. political leaders? Probably not, but Ravich’s long review is well worth reading.

Vanity Fair has a fascinating article by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, authors of a 2011 Pulitzer-Prize-winning biography of Vincent van Gogh. In an appendix to the book, Naifeh and Smith included a summary of their research on the death of the famous painter. After years of study in the van Gogh archives, the authors suspected that the artist did not commit suicide, as is commonly believed, but was very likely killed accidentally by a teenage bully named René Secrétan.

Man reading van gogh

In 1890, René Secrétan was the 16-year-old son of a Paris pharmacist whose family summered in Auvers. In Paris, René’s lycée education admitted him to bourgeois society. In Auvers, it gave him license to bully. He said he modeled his behavior on his hero, Wild Bill Cody, whose Wild West Show René had seen in Paris the year before. He bought a souvenir costume (fringed buckskin, cowboy hat, chaps) and accessorized it with an old, small-caliber pistol that looked menacing but often misfired.

He found an easy target in the strange Dutchman named Vincent. By the time René arrived for the summer, Van Gogh was already the object of rumor and ridicule. He trudged through town with his mangled ear and awkward load, setting himself up to paint anywhere he pleased. He drank. He argued fiercely in an unintelligible tumble of Dutch and French.

Unlike René, whose father was a powerful figure in the summer community, Vincent had no friends. Using his brother Gaston, an aesthete, as his front man, René artfully slipped into the vacuum. He cozied up to the lonely painter at his café conversations with Gaston about art. He paid for another round of drinks. Afterward, René would mock the strange Dutchman to amuse his merry band of mischief-minded summer boys.

René let Vincent eavesdrop on him and his friends when they imported “dancing girls” from Paris. He shared his pornography collection. He even posed for some paintings and a drawing. Meanwhile, he conspired with his followers to play elaborate pranks on the friendless tramp they called Toto. They put hot pepper on his brushes (which he often sucked when deep in thought), salted his tea, and sneaked a snake into his paint box.

There it was, all in the files: the details mostly in a late-life narrative from the cowboy himself, René. But every detail checked out with the other eyewitness accounts from Auvers. And it didn’t say anything new, really. Vincent had faced similar bullying and ridicule in every place he ever painted.

And there was this: a long-neglected account by a woman from a distinguished Auvers family who had broken with the community omertà to say that Van Gogh was far from the wheat field at the time the fatal shot was fired. He was, according to her, on the road that led to the Secrétan family villa.

Of course the “experts” (Naifeh and Smith call them the “Flame Keepers”) came out of the woodwork to denounce the new theory. In response Naifeh and Smith asked a well known forensic expert, Dr. Vincent Di Maio, who testified at the trial of George Zimmerman, to analyze the evidence. Read the article to find out what conclusions he drew.

Finally a couple of science stories:

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From Discovery News, 9,300-Year-Old Bison Mummy Found in Siberia.

The still-furry beast is one of the most complete frozen mummies ever found. It literally freezes in time the appearance and anatomy of a steppe bison (Bison priscus), whose species went extinct shortly after the end of the Ice Age.

It’s been named the “Yukagir bison mummy,” after the region where it was found.

“The exceptionally good preservation of the Yukagir bison mummy allows direct anatomical comparisons with modern species of bison and cattle, as well as with extinct species of bison that were gone at the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary,” co-author Evgeny Maschenko from the Paleontological Institute in Moscow was quoted as saying in a press release.

The remarkable specimen still has its complete brain, heart, blood vessels and digestive system. Some of its organs have significantly shrunk over time, but that’s to be expected given its advanced age.

The researchers, led by Natalia Serduk of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, conducted a necropsy on the remains. The investigation determined that the bison showed a relatively normal anatomy. A clue to its demise, however, is a lack of fat around its abdomen. This suggests that the bison died from starvation, but the scientists aren’t sure of that yet.

Compared to today’s bison in America, the Ice Age bison sported much larger horns and a second back hump. Steppe bison like this now-frozen one were commonly featured in Stone Age cave art, often shown being hunted by humans.

The Daily Mail article has a number of photos of the specimen and the researchers.

And from The Atlantic, a brief article on The Resurrection of the Dodo.

Alas, the poor dodo. All that remains of this extinct flightless bird’s legacy are a single complete skeleton and a synonym for “dimwit.”

But from those bones, researchers may now be able to recreate the 3-feet tall bird. Using a 3-D laser, paleontologists from the College of Holy Cross in Massachusetts made the first ever full 3-D dodo scans. The team presented the scans for the first time Thursday at theSociety for Vertebrate Archaeology’s annual conference in Berlin.

The scans showed that dodos had kneecaps, which were previously unknown structures within the dodo, Live Science reported. Leon Claessens, lead author on the scanning mission, told Live Science that information gleaned from the scans will help provide insight into how the bird moved. The team will also look at the bird’s large jaw in order to better understand how it worked and what type of prey it caught.

So . . . what else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great Veteran’s Day weekend!