Wednesday Reads: Photographs and more Cold

slide_282064_2129355_freeGood Morning

 

Well, what do ya know? Obama administration puts immigration protections on hold after order – LA Times

President Obama’s plans to protect millions of immigrants from deportation were frozen on Tuesday while his administration scrambled to appeal an order by a federal judge in Texas temporarily halting the program.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that the Obama administration has put off for now the first step in implementing the program, expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative that has granted a temporary reprieve from deportation for nearly 600,000 young people. The administration had been scheduled to begin accepting applications for the expansion Wednesday.

Johnson said the administration was also putting on hold plans for a much larger program, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, which could apply to around 4 million adult immigrants.

“The Department of Justice will appeal that temporary injunction,” Johnson said in a statement, referring to the judge’s order. “In the meantime, we recognize we must comply with it. We fully expect to ultimately prevail in the courts, and we will be prepared to implement DAPA and expanded DACA once we do.”

 

slide_282064_2129311_freeI don’t know…I thought that the Federal Court could not overrule an Executive Order. I mean, seriously…isn’t it a Presidential Order?…Above Congress and stuff? (But you know, I am talking out my ass here. It just felt good to say what I first thought about when I’d heard about this “temporary injunction”….to be honest with y’all.  )

Really, my mind is not working very well the past few days. It sounds crazy, but the only thought I can seem to work on is trying to write out a metaphor for the Koch Brothers, and the lingering effect they will have on our country, as to their crappy Angel Soft toilet paper…and the fibery dingleberries the stuff leaves behind.

Oh sure, they make it out like the product (shit paper) their selling you is the best quality and hell…they say it is so fucking cheap to boot. But the truth of the matter is, you are being fucked in more ways than you realize.  Because they are charging you the same prices for way less than what you used to get, they’ve got a monopoly on the shit paper isle as it is anyway so what choices do you really have…and, as if they do it purposely, those bits of linty irritant only continue to remind you just what an annoying pain in the ass the Koch Brothers really are.  (Oh, and they are going to bring down the whole of civilization as we know it…you’ll see.) But that somehow connects to a reference to a backed up septic tank… due to the said nappy ass toilet paper in the first place, but then you see I am back where I started.

slide_282064_2129374_freeUgh, what the hell am I saying, here are your links for today:

Why Oklahoma Lawmakers Want to Ban AP US History — NYMag

This week in things we wish were just a Colbert Report sketch, an Oklahoma legislative committee overwhelmingly approved a bill that would cut funding for the teaching of Advanced Placement U.S. History. The 11 Republicans who approved the measure over the objections of four Democrats weren’t trying to win over Oklahoma’s lazy high school juniors. Tulsa Worldreports that Representative Dan Fisher, who introduced the bill, lamented during Monday’s hearing that the new AP U.S. History framework emphasizes “what is bad about America,” and doesn’t teach “American exceptionalism.” It’s a complaint that’s been spreading among mostly conservative state legislatures in recent months, and has some calling for a ban on all AP courses.

Earlier this month, the Georgia state Senate introduced a resolution that rejects a new version of the AP U.S. History course for presenting a “radically revisionist view of American history” and minimizing “discussion of America’s Founding Fathers, the principles of the Declaration of Independence, [and] the religious influences on our nation’s history.” It says that if the College Board does not revise the test, Georgia will cut funding for the course. The exam has also sparked controversy in Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Colorado, where students in Jefferson County protested last fall when a school board member said the course should be modified to promote “patriotism,” and discourage “civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law.”

ugh…

I can’t bear to link to any more stories like that. Let’s all look at some cool pictures.

Photographer Captures 100 Female Artists In Their Homes And Studios

A great portrait is more than just a frozen reflection of the subject’s appearance. It’s a chance moment, blanketed in natural light, in which the subject’s authentic self is visible in her expression, her stance, her aura. A great portrait blurs the line between a subject and her surroundings, all contributing equally to the overall impression of a singular human being.

Photographer Barbara Yoshida captured not one great portrait, but 100. And to make it all the more glorious, her subjects are all female artists, groundbreaking in their own right.

Vivian Maier, The Mysterious Nanny Behind A Trove Of Brilliant Street Photography, Is Going To The Oscars

slide_282064_2129302_freeThe story of Vivian Maier is probably one of the art world’s most compelling mysteries. A nanny by profession, she was an alarmingly talented and vastly prolific photographer whose keen eye for the mundane produced some of the 20th century’s most intriguing works of street photography. At times she was a Mary Poppins, trekking across a city like Chicago with a gaggle of children passing like ducklings behind her. At other times, she was Weegee, tuned into the pulse of urban centers, her lens drawn to crowds of celebrity, crime and everything squished in between.

slide_282064_2129373_free

The juxtaposition of being a lifelong caretaker in one moment, chasing kids and bickering with parents, and a relentless documentarian on the other, churning out rolls of film a day, is enigmatic in itself. But the real kick is that Vivian Maier is a name no one truly knew until about 2007. It was then that a former real estate agent named John Maloof unknowingly purchased a box of her photographic negatives for $400. Fast forward through a heavy dose of research and detective work, and you have “Finding Vivian Maier,” the Oscar-nominated film that recounts the life of a woman the art world reveres, but no one actually seems to know.

slide_282064_2129387_freeHow One Artist Is Challenging The Harsh Reality Of Street Harassment In Mexico City

In 2012, Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh embarked upon a project titled “Stop Telling Women to Smile.” The series, comprised of portraits pasted on the sides of buildings, aimed to combat street harassment targeted at women by commanding offenders in public spaces to think before they speak.

“Street harassment is a serious issue that affects women worldwide,” the artist proclaims on her site. “This project takes women’s voices, and faces, and puts them in the street — creating a bold presence for women in an environment where they are so often made to feel uncomfortable and unsafe.”

The Veiled Feminism Of Moroccan-Born Photographer Lalla Essaydi

In his landmark book, Orientalism, the late scholar Edward Said wrote of “exteriority,” a disconnect between the traveler’s fantasies and reality. Reading the travelogues of French writers, Said once explained that he found “representations of the Orient had very little to do with what I knew about my own background in life.”

50 Unexplainable Black & White Photos

That is the least strange of the bunch.

Artists Liven Up A Children’s Hospital With Vibrant Murals, Thus Making Our Day

As you’re probably well aware, hospitals tend not to be the most visually enticing of spaces, especially for kids. Between the fluorescent lights, the sterile aesthetic and the deluge of achromatic hues somewhere between oatmeal and taupe, the spaces where so many humans experience their most physically and emotionally trying moments really aren’t helping much as far as ambiance goes.

That’s where the power of art comes in.

These Are The Ballerinas And Ballerinos Of Instagram

slide_282064_2129365_freeAmerican Ballet Theater icon Misty Copeland has over 402,000 followers on Instagram. To compare, athletes like Venus and Serena Williams have 89,500 and 992,000 followers, respectively. Michael Phelps has 462,000. Danica Patrick has 26,900.

Of course, ballet is easily the most photogenic of the sports. An art form that toes the line between performance and feats of athleticism, it’s filled with pirouettes and arabesques that when frozen in a frame appear like paintings or perfectly sculpted statues. Misty’s Instagram account is filled with shots both on and off a stage, flexing her muscles and practicing her craft. And she’s hardly the only ballerina — or ballerino — to grace the platform. One glimpse at the popular Ballerina Project account, followed by an impressive 641,000, and it’s easy to see why dance fans are quick to double click on the endless stream of posed portraits.

View this post on Instagram

Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place. @wolfordfashion @ballerinaproject_ #wolfordfashion #ballerinaproject #ballerina #rumi #quote #soul #nyc #brooklyn #promenade #water #sky #clouds #wolford

A post shared by Stephanie Williams (@wheresmytutu) on

This Is Forensic Sculpture, A Combination Of Art And Science That Aims To Solve Cold Cases

slide_282064_2129370_freeEach student at the Forensic Sculpture Workshop at the New York Academy of Art (NYAA) begins with a skull. More specifically, each begins with a plaster replica of a real human skull made by a medical examiner, a facsimile of an unidentified crime victim in New York City.

From this foundation, the students sculpt a face, using a block of clay and whatever information they can glean from the ongoing investigations — such as age, height, gender and race. They also included grimmer details, such as the locations of bullet holes or crushed bones.

The resulting sculptures, lifelike in their realistic portrayals, capture the likenesses of unknown citizens who faced cruel and untimely deaths from a variety of gruesome circumstances, in the hopes that someone walking by the university windows will see a face and recognize it.

From The Womb To The World, These Babies Were Photographed Just Seconds After Birth

In his series “Cesar,” the French artist captures babies in their first moments of life — specifically, between three and 18 seconds of existing outside the womb. As you may have ascertained from the project’s title, all of Berthelot’s subjects underwent (and survived) a Caesarean section — a procedure in which the baby is removed via an incision in the mother’s abdomen. Berthelot’s first child was born after a C-section, serving as the inspiration for this powerful project.

ch

Rare Photos Of What The Circus Looked Like Nearly A Century Ago

The circus has always been a space rife with visual splendor. Long before a certain FX anthology series brought “freak shows” into the pop culture conversation, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey made clowns and acrobats essential elements of entertainment when they merged in 1919. In fact, together, they amounted to “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

 

Witness the Death of the ’60s in Ken Light’s Era-Defining Photos | Mother Jones

Ken Light’s photos from 1969 to 1974 document the social landscape of America as it frayed at the seams, rife with turmoil. As a young photographer, Light captured the country at this pivotal moment, and his frontline protest photos in Ohio and political images from the 1972 Republican Convention in Miami show the opposite ends of the spectrum.

But the photos that make his new book, American Stories in the Age of Protest, so great are less-familiar ones: the everyday person out waving flags in support of Nixon, the garage band taking to a makeshift stage in support of McGovern, the kids hanging out in West Oakland. It’s photos like these, so common at the time, that gain importance with age. They give contour and meaning to historical projects such as this.

Thirteen Most by Luc Sante | The Gallery | The New York Review of Books

And more:

slide_282064_2129349_freeLight reveals new details of Paul Gauguin’s creative process — ScienceDaily

History News Network | The real inventor of Monopoly finally getting some credit

Exploring the teenage brain, and its drive for immediate reward — ScienceDaily

Raw Eggs and No Husband Since ’38 Keep Her Young at 115 – NYTimes.com

Meet the lamb that thinks it’s a sheep dog – CBBC Newsround

Sheep Forgets How To Sheep, Frolics With Dogs Instead

BBC News – The Seattle pig who thinks she is a dog

Think of this as an open thread, there is just one more thing…try and stay warm cause it is fucking cold out there.


Lazy Saturday Reads

Guernica, by Pablo Picasso

Guernica, by Pablo Picasso

 

“My whole life as an artist has been nothing more than a continuous struggle against reaction and the death of art. In the picture I am painting — which I shall call Guernica — I am expressing my horror of the military caste which is now plundering Spain into an ocean of misery and death.”  — Pablo Picasso

 

Good Afternoon!!

I’m experiencing some kind of paralysis today, so I don’t know what this post is going to consist of. I’m just going to take it moment to moment. First thing this morning, I read List of X’s long comment on Dakinikat’s Friday reads.  I hope everyone will go read it. I think that could lead to our having a serious, productive discussion on Israel/Palestine. For now, I’m just going to put up the latest stories I can find on the conflict.

NPR: Gaza Update: Fate Of Israeli Soldier Unknown; Death Toll Surpasses 2009 Level, by Bill Chappell.

A day after they were to begin a cease-fire, Israel and Hamas are still firing at one another, in a conflict that has killed at least 1,650 Gazans, 63 Israeli soldiers and 3 Israeli civilians, according to tallies from the respective sides.

Those numbers surpass the estimated fatalities from the last major Gaza conflict, which raged for around three weeks from 2008-2009.

Hamas, which has been condemned for breaking a temporary peace and capturing an Israeli soldier, said Saturday that it has lost contact with the group that conducted the ambush that killed two soldiers and resulted in Lt. Hadar Goldin’s capture.

The military wing of Hamas released a statement today, NPR’s Emily Harris reports, in which it said that after an Israeli bombardment, “the Hamas fighters are believed to be dead and if there was a soldier with them, he probably is too.”

At the link, read a brief synopsis of events in the conflict as of this morning. Other headlines:

Haaretz: Israel seeks to end Gaza operation unilaterally,  by Barak Ravid.

Israel’s security cabinet decided after a five-hour meeting Friday night that Israel will no longer seek a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip via negotiations with Hamas, senior Israeli officials said. Therefore, Israel does not intend to send a delegation to the Cairo truce talks as previously agreed in the course of the last cease-fire, before it was violated by Hamas.

The senior officials said that ministers were unanimous in the cabinet meeting in their position that there is no point in pursuing cease-fire negotiations after Hamas violated the previous one by capturing an IDF soldier on Friday. According to the officials, the ministers also agreed that the captured soldier will not change Israel’s overall strategy. In other words, the IDF will continue its operations to destroy the tunnels and the ground operation will not be significantly expanded at this stage.

The cabinet also decided that instead of efforts to reach a cease-fire through negotiations, Israel will focus on restoring Israel’s deterrence against Hamas. The senior officials said that in light of the failed cease-fire efforts, Israel will consider ending the operation and unilaterally leaving Gaza, relying on deterrence.

“We think there is still enough international legitimacy for an operation in Gaza,” said a senior Israeli official. “In the coming days the destruction of the tunnels will be complete, and then a decision will be made as to how to continue from there.” The official added that “if we feel that deterrence has been restored, we will leave the [Gaza] Strip on the basis of the ‘quiet for quiet’ principle. If we feel deterrence has not yet been achieved, we will continue the operation inside the Gaza Strip or exit and continue with the aerial bombardment.”

The Washington Post: A view of Gaza from the sea: How Israel’s navy patrols the coast, by Ruth Eglash.

For the war-weary group of international journalists struggling to find their sea legs, the patrol offered a rare insight into Israel’s navy, which over the past four weeks has acted as a strategic support to Israel’s ongoing military operation against Hamas in Gaza and served as a deterrent against militants attempting to infiltrate Israel via the sea.

“We were not surprised by Hamas’s attempt to infiltrate into Israel from the sea. They have used many different measures to attack us,” said Cmdr. Z, one of the Keshet’s two commanders who spoke on the condition of anonymity in accord with standard Israeli military protocol.

He was referring to an incident on July 8 when members of Hamas’s armed wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, attempted to attack an Israeli military base that sits on the coast just north of the Gaza Strip.Israeli surveillance cameras picked up on the infiltration early, and five Hamas militants were subsequently killed in the attack. Hamas later revealed that it had been training a naval commando unit for sea-related combat.

The Christian Science Monitor: What could be done to break the Israeli-Palestinian revenge cycle?, by Kristen Chick, correspondent, and Christa Case Bryant, staff writer.

In the battered Gazaneighborhood of Shejaiya, Ataf Ettish surveys what was once her home. An Israeli bomb ripped off the outside of the three-story building, exposing the blue and pink inner walls of her daughter’s bedroom.

The building next door is gone, replaced by a crater, the 80-year-old owner buried beneath the rubble. Ms. Ettish now lives in a United Nations shelter, sharing a single toilet with 1,000 people. 

“This is not a war – this is destruction of humanity,” she says. “I’ve lived through two previous wars here, but this is the worst.”

In the Israeli kibbutz of Kfar Aza, just across the border but a world away, Mark Joffe agrees it’s getting worse.

“Each time it happens … the rockets are bigger, the threats are bigger,” says Mr. Joffe, who says residents fear Hamas will infiltrate the border community (“Aza” is the Hebrew word for “Gaza”). “If we’d done the right thing five to six years ago, it would have been a lot less costly.”

Now many Israelis’ belief that an extended, harsh crackdown on Hamas will bring lasting peace is being put to the test. On Friday, a conflict that has cost 1,600 Palestinian lives and seen a quarter of Gaza’s population displaced from their homes looked set to enter a dangerous new phase after an apparent Hamas capture of an Israeli soldier.

Read the rest at the link.

Would this work?

 

Solution1

As if.

U.S. News

Back in Washington DC, another intractable conflict continues in Congress between crazy ultra-right-wing Republicans and semi-sane right wing Republicans. Here are the latest stories about that.

Reuters: U.S. House passes border-security funding bill to speed deportations, by David Lawder and Richard Cowan.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Friday to crack down on Central American migrants, including unaccompanied children, who are flooding to the U.S. border with Mexico, as lawmakers passed a $694 million border security bill.

 

The 223-189 vote came one day after conservative Republicans balked at an earlier version of the measure, exposing a deep rift between Tea Party activists and more mainstream Republicans.

In passing the retooled bill, the Republican-led House ignored a veto threat from the White House. But with the Senate already on a five-week summer recess, this measure will advance no further at least until September.

Isn’t that just ducky? And this will lead to suffering for real people, not that most people in DC really give a sh*t.

House Democrats complained that the legislation would too speedily return children to dangerous conditions in their home countries. President Barack Obama called the Republican bill “extreme” and “unworkable.”

Later on Friday, the House also passed a separate bill reversing Obama’s 2012 policy suspending deportations of some undocumented residents who were brought to the United States as children years ago by their parents.

The measure also would bar Obama from expanding this policy, possibly to parents of children who already qualify.

The tougher language in the twin bills would make it easier to deport migrant children and add money to deploy National Guard troops at the border with Mexico.

Dana Milbank opines: An upending of reason in the House.

After conservatives on Thursday brought down House Speaker John Boehner’s bill to address the border crisis, the new House Republican leadership team issued a joint statement declaring that President Obama should fix the problem himself.

“There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action,” the leadership quartet proclaimed, “to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.” ….

Just the day before, House Republicans had voted to sue Obama for using his executive authority. They called him lawless, a usurper, a monarch, a tyrant — all for postponing deadlines in the implementation of Obamacare. Now they were begging him to take executive action to compensate for their own inability to act — even though, in this case, accelerating the deportation of thousands of unaccompanied children coming from Central America would likely require Obama to ignore a 2008 law.

This was not a momentary lapse but a wholesale upending of reason.

Read the rest at the Washington Post.

ABC News: Pelosi Chases Republican Tom Marino Across House Chamber

(Ed. note: after he rudely insults her.)

In an unusual breach of decorum, even for the divided Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi chased Rep. Tom Marino across the House floor, taking offense at comments by the Pennsylvania Republican during debate on the border funding bill Friday night.

“We don’t have law and order,” Marino began as he wrapped up his comments on the border supplemental. “My colleagues on the other side don’t want to do anything about it.”

“You know something that I find quite interesting about the other side? Under the leadership of the former Speaker [Pelosi], and under the leadership of their former leader [Rep. Steny Hoyer], when in 2009 and 2010, they had the House, the Senate and the White House, and they knew this problem existed,” he continued. “They didn’t have the strength to go after it back then. But now are trying to make a political issue out of it now.”

Off-mic, Pelosi then approached Marino, crossing the aisle in view of cameras, and apparently challenged Marino’s assertion that Democrats did not do anything about the issue when they had majority control.

“Yes it is true,” Marino replied directly to Pelosi, who was House speaker in those years. “I did the research on it. You might want to try it. You might want to try it, Madam Leader. Do the research on it. Do the research. I did it. That’s one thing that you don’t do.”

John Parkinson of ABC apparently had no issues with what Marino said, just shock that Pelosi responded.

After Marino concluded his remarks and as many Republicans applauded their colleague, Pelosi crossed the chamber again in view of cameras, enraged, pointing and sticking her finger at Marino.

She then followed Marino up a Republican aisle, gesturing and arguing with him. Lawmakers on the GOP side gathered in dismay as one spoke out to tell the chair that the House was not in order, in an effort to halt the bickering.

H/T to Fannie for this video:

What sane person could blame her? But sanity is at a premium in U.S. politics and journalism today.

 

Other News Stories of Possible Interest

No one else her probably cares except Pat, but the last-place Red Sox completely blew up the team and then they beat the Yankees last night.

Boston Globe: New-look Red Sox drop Yankees.

U.S. News: Last-place Red Sox trade 5 veterans 9 months after winning World Series.

SF Gate: In shocking trade, A’s deal Cespedes for Red Sox’s Lester.

More Headlines:

HuffPo: Eric Garner’s Death By Police Chokehold Ruled A Homicide.

NYT: Explosion Kills Dozens at Eastern China Plant.

Christian Science Monitor: Why 400,000 people in Ohio can’t drink the water.

Reuters: New Libyan parliament meets far from city battlegrounds.

Reuters: American aid worker stricken with Ebola en route to U.S.

NPR: Big Data Firm Says It Can Link Snowden Data To Changed Terrorist Behavior.

LA Times: Russia keeps fugitive whistle-blower Edward Snowden in legal limbo.

Raw Story: Conservative KY judge says black defendant in Obama t-shirt ‘lucky to get out of here alive.’

LA Times: 911 calls about Facebook outage angers L.A. County sheriff’s officials.

Technicolor Guernca, by Loui Jouver

Technicolor Guernca, by Loui Jouver

I hope you’ll share your thoughts and links in the comment thread.


Sunday Reads: Potpourri

194Good Morning

Today’s post is bringing you a mixture of different links, a potpourri if you will…

But before we get to the bowl of fragrant, colorful, natural, synthetic, faded, smelly, moldy, dried, limp, withered reads, let us touch on something that I find hilariously ironic.

Look at this headline:

5 People Shot At 3 Different Gun Shows On Gun Appreciation Day

I don’t think there is anything else to say about that. Except maybe add this nugget of news from TPM:

Yep, Big Liars

It seems that the Obama kids are not protected by armed guards at the Sidwell Friends School.

I would not go so far as to say that the NRA are big liars, cough, but you decide.

Another headline for you:

Obama’s Plan May Put More Guns in Schools

Personally, I think that there should be mandatory full-time armed police person inside schools…and that they should be paid from a tax on ammunition. But I feel strongly, and passionately, that these armed individuals should not be volunteers, teachers, janitors and/or any vigilante obsessed gun-toting “concerned” citizens.

Okay then, moving right along, the links today are going to be in link dump fashion, since my head is killing me and this computer screen is burning my eyes.

The first couple of links I have for you are chilling and extremely disturbing. Be sure to read them in full.

Is PTSD Contagious? It’s rampant among returning vets—and now their spouses and kids are starting to show the same symptoms. Mac McClelland | Mother Jones

After reading Mac’s article, I think it is fair to say…yes, PTSD is contagious.

Coupled with these infographics that tell a sad story: Charts: Suicide, PTSD and the Psychological Toll on America’s Vets | Mother Jones

Another post that is related to traumatic experiences: Can Eye Movements Treat Trauma?: Scientific American

Studies are showing that moving your eyes back and forth like a ping-pong ball can help deal with PTSD. The technique is called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

This next article discusses Afghanistan: The 13-Year War- As we draw closer to the withdrawal in Afghanistan promised at the close of 2014, a look back at America’s longest war.

Emptywheel takes a look at the connection between Adam Swartz and the government’s investigation into Wikileaks. The Fishing Expedition into WikiLeaks

Here is an update on the ongoing hunt for pythons in Florida’s Everglades: Florida’s python update: 21 caught so far in Everglades hunt

And another update on the story we’ve followed about those possible Spitfires in Burma: No ‘lost Spitfires’ buried in Burma-Dig near Rangoon International Airport proves fruitless but Lincolnshire farmer insists search will continue elsewhere in the country

Want to see a list of Representatives who did not vote for Sandy aid? MAP: In These 22 States, Every House Republican Voted Against Sandy Aid

Take a look at this photo, it is still a messy situation.

Almost three months after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, the GOP-controlled House approved a bill that provides $50.7 billion in disaster relief for the storm’s victims. While passage of the bill is being hailed as a bipartisan success by some (the vote was 241-180), a closer look at how the parties voted by state lines indicates otherwise. GOPers overwhelmingly voted against funding—unless, of course, their state was hard hit.

In 22 states, every last Republican representative voted against HR 152 or abstained on the bill, which includes $17 billion for immediate repair and an amendment introduced by a Republican, New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, that tacks on another $33.7 billion for long-term recovery and prevention. These included Maryland and the Carolinas (remember Hugo and Floyd?), states that are vulnerable to seasonal hurricanes but were largely spared by Sandy.

And…in the plastic yuk department: Plastics Suck Up Other Toxins: Double Whammy for Marine Life, Gross for Seafood

Combine that with the yuk from Coke’s sugary drinks: Coke: Wait, People Thought Vitaminwater Was Good for You?

Makes you think, what the hell are we doing to ourselves?

If it doesn’t make you question our self-destructive actions, this next link will…Labiaplasty: An investigation of the most popular trend in the field of ‘vaginal rejuvenation’ surgery.

Kirsten O’Regan: Labiaplasty, Part I – Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics

Kirsten O’Regan: Labiaplasty, Part II – Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics

You may need some eye bleach and a break from reading after that article. Ooof!

Why would any woman do that to herself? I mean, that is just fucked-up.

Couldn’t they just “think” about it and get the same benefit, if you could call it that. Check this out: AsapSCIENCE Demonstrates The Power Of Imagination- Thinking About Doing Something Is Pretty Much The Same As Doing It [Video] | Geekosystem

Ready for a strange and uncomfortable fact to start your Friday morning? Sure you are, and here it is, courtesy of the fine cartoonists and deep thinkers over at AsapSCIENCE: when you think deeply about a thing — seeing the letter ‘B,’ for example, or fixing a sandwich — the same parts of your brain involved in performing that action light up. Some studies even suggest that you can improve your piano skills just by thinking diligently about playing while not actually touching a piano. Check out AsapSCIENCE’s latest video below and learn more about how your brain is just weird sometimes.

Well, I guess all of us procrastinators will appreciate that video. (I won’t even begin to try and fix the f’d up grammar in that sentence.)

I’ve got another video for you:   The deer that thinks it’s a sheep | Earth | EarthSky

Photo courtesy the National Trust, UK

You will love this video. The deer attached himself to the sheep in early December 2012. He shows no sign of leaving.

Have you all seen this bit of twisted news in the world of ballet?

Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin ‘blinded’ by acid attack that left him with chemical burns- The former ballet star had acid thrown in his face by a man – it is thought the attack is linked to his position

Bolshoi ballet director Sergei Filin severely injured in acid attack -Doctors fighting to save eyesight of former dancer after assailant threw acid in his face outside central Moscow home

Wow, this post is getting long, and I am very late in getting it posted. Quickly…here are the rest of the links I have saved to share with you today.

Today it is the 100th birthday of Danny Kaye. From MovieMorlocks.com – Happy 100th, Danny!

Also from Movie Morlocks, some wonderful photography:  William Edward Cronenweth: A Legacy in Photos

More science links:

Scientists shed light on the ‘dark matter’ of DNA

Innovative approach results in improved writing skills at primary school

And finally, a travel piece: Swept away by a Sicilian symphony

Have a great day…and enjoy those links!


Saturday Morning Reads

Good Morning!!

Yesterday was a pretty busy news day for a Friday. So if you’ve had your sugar bombs and coffee, let me fill you in on the latest before you head outside to enjoy a beautiful June day. The weather folks are saying this will be a nice weekend around the country.

Yesterday the President announced an executive order telling the Department of Homeland Security not to deport children who were brought to the U.S. illegally and have grown up here and gone to school here. These are the young people who would be eligible to stay here and have a path to citizenship under the “Dream Act” if Republicans in Congress would stop blocking the legislation.

In a move that seemed to be aimed at Hispanics whose enthusiasm for voting in the November 6 election could be crucial to Obama’s re-election chances, the president acted to potentially protect 800,000 people from deportation proceedings for at least two years.

Obama, who previously was reluctant to impose such an order even as Republicans in Congress blocked immigration reform bills he supported, called his action “the right thing to do.”

His announcement was on the 30th anniversary of a Supreme Court decision that said children of illegal-immigrant parents were entitled to public education in the United States.

Right wingers–including Mitt Romney–are of course calling the move “political,” but so what? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Politicians make political decisions. Duh! But if they’re doing the right thing, I don’t care what their motivation is. The LA Times published some basic information for people who want to know what this change means to them.

During the President’s announcement of the policy change at a press availability in the Rose Garden, a wingnut blogger from The Daily Caller, rudely broke into Obama’s speech with an offensive question. David Graham at the Atlantic:

An extremely unusual occurrence happened today as President Obama spoke at the White House. The president was offering a statement on his executive order suspending deportations for certain illegal immigrants brought here as children….when a reporter started heckling him and shouting questions.

The reporter has been identified as Neil Munro of the Daily Caller, a conservative online news outlet run by Tucker Carlson….

Interrupting the president mid-speech is considered a serious breach of etiquette, and Obama’s reaction shows how peeved (and probably taken aback) he was. Munro, and the Daily Caller, have immediately come in for harsh criticism by a wide range of journalists, including conservative ones. The problem isn’t that Munro was asking tough questions; it’s that he interrupted the commander-in-chief to ask them and in doing so guaranteed that none of the assembled press would be able to ask any serious questions — since it’s fairly clear that Munro’s query was intended as provocation.

I have video of the confrontation, but youtube seems to be down at the moment. I’ll put it up again later if I can. Munro yelled “Why do you favor foreigners over Americans?” Then when Obama responded, he proceed to argue and then yell while Obama was speaking. Pretty unprofessional for a so-called “journalist.”

Even Bill O’Reilly condemned the wingnut hack’s behavior, along with Fox News talkers Shep Smith and Chris Wallace.

At CNN, Dean Obeidallah says this type of behavior by wingnuts is part of an overall effort to “delegitimize” Obama’s presidency.

A reporter from a right-wing media outlet heckled President Obama — not once, but twice — on Friday as he was unveiling a new immigration policy. If this shocks you, you haven’t been paying attention. This is simply the latest page from the right’s playbook to delegitimize Barack Obama’s presidency.

Some may dismiss it as an isolated incident, but it’s not. It goes much deeper. Believe me, I know hecklers — I’m a stand-up comedian. If someone heckles me once, it can be a mistake: too many drinks, overcome by emotion, etc. But when you heckle twice, you have an agenda.

BTW, Munro is an Irish immigrant. So what is his problem?

A quick perusal of Munro’s Twitter feed reveals he does not hide his contempt for President Obama. His tweets range from claims that Obama is using NASCAR and country music to attract “white non-college voters,” to slams of Michelle Obama, to allegations that Obama is racially discriminating against blacks in his White House hiring practices.

But this is all not about Munro — he is just a small cog in the right’s campaign to diminish the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency. I’m not talking about people disagreeing with policies. I mean specifically the campaign to paint Barack Obama as less than American — as an “other”–as someone whose presidency is not entitled to the same respect as that of the presidents who came before him.

OK, maybe I’m spending too much time on this, but I guess I’m a bit old fashioned. I believe in respecting the office of the President. I think it’s very important for the White House press corps to behave respectfully, while at the same time asking tough questions. In this case, Munro’s behavior led to the press conference being cut off before more responsible reporters could ask questions.

I have some other news for you, and I’ll give it to you quickly so you can get out an enjoy your day.

The send-off for Mitt Romney’s bus tour of “small-town America” was overshadowed by Obama’s announcement.

After weeks of gaining momentum amid a spate of bad economic news that has shaken Obama’s reelection campaign, Romney was faced with a classic demonstration of how the White House can use its power to reset the agenda.

For hours, Romney tried to ignore the news. Finally, after a rally here with a ragtime band playing “Yankee Doodle Dandy” in a town-square gazebo, Romney made a statement that struck a radically different tone from the hard-line approach he took on illegal immigration during the Republican primaries.

“I believe the status of young people who come here through no fault of their own is an important matter to be considered and should be solved on a long-term basis so they know what their future would be in this country,” he told reporters outside of his campaign bus.

“I think the action that the president took today makes it more difficult to reach that long-term solution, because an executive order is of course just a short-term matter. It could be reversed by subsequent presidents. I’d like to see legislation that deals with this issue.”

But he made no commitment to supporting any particular option.

Of course not. Just more meaningless huffing and puffing from an old stuffed suit.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg expects “sharp disagreement” in the Supreme Court over the Affordable Care Act.

The LA Times reports: Egypt revolution losing steam as military asserts power

Germany could be in trouble if Greece opts out of the Euro.

Why can’t the Euro nations agree on a plan? In Germany, the situation is being compared to Titanic, one of the greatest disasters in history.

Since Euro Zone is like the Titanic heading for an iceberg called Greece, there’s plenty of concern on the first-class deck called Germany. If Greece goes down, it can take even Europe’s biggest economy with it.

“I believe Europe is right in a crossroads right now,” Gerhard Hofmann, director of the German Cooperative Bank Group, told CBS News.

How the shock waves will hit the U.S. if it happens.

The NYT says Obama is “looking to Merkel” for aid and comfort.

A collapse of the euro could derail America’s fragile recovery and doom Mr. Obama’s re-election hopes. So the president finds himself in the strange position of having forged a relationship with Ms. Merkel that is perhaps the best he has with any foreign leader, but that has not yet resulted in the chancellor’s agreeing to what Mr. Obama thinks must be done in Europe: an American-style bailout and fiscal stimulus.

Mr. Obama and Ms. Merkel will meet again Monday at a Group of 20 summit meeting in Mexico, with the stakes for Europe even higher than they were last month. With Greece holding elections on Sunday that could precipitate its exit from the European currency union — the nightmare feared by the financial markets — Mr. Obama may be running out of time to make his case.

And there is no indication Ms. Merkel is any more inclined to heed his advice. In a speech to the German Parliament on Thursday, she said the world should not expect Berlin to be Europe’s savior, rejecting calls to create euro bonds to share the debt burden of the Mediterranean countries.

Boy is she ever stubborn. And she seems determined to bring the entire world economy crashing down. Mitt Romney must love her.

A new study suggests that Gay Men Have Evolutionary Benefit For Their Families.

Henry Hill with Goodfellas star Ray Liotta

Finally, Henry Hill has died. He was the “wise guy” who was the inspiration for Martin Scorcese’s “Goodfellas.” Hill was only 69, and died from health problems related to smoking.

Henry Hill, the infamous mob informant whose life of crime was chronicled in the film classic “GoodFellas,” was the first to admit that he did “a lot of bad things back then.”

“I shot at people. I busted a lot of heads, and I buried a lot of bodies,” he told the London-based Daily Telegraph in 2010. “You can try to justify it by saying they deserved it, that they had it coming, but some just got whacked for absolutely no reason at all.”

….

Henry Hill, the infamous mob informant whose life of crime was chronicled in the film classic “GoodFellas,” was the first to admit that he did “a lot of bad things back then.”

“I shot at people. I busted a lot of heads, and I buried a lot of bodies,” he told the London-based Daily Telegraph in 2010. “You can try to justify it by saying they deserved it, that they had it coming, but some just got whacked for absolutely no reason at all.”

RIP, Henry.

Have a fabulous Saturday, and if you’re reading anything interesting today, please share!


Doublespeak, the Devil’s Advocate and Diogenes’ Endless Quest

Just when you think current events and various public utterances cannot get any more ridiculous, they do.  Often, much of what we hear and are expected to take seriously is wrapped in doublespeak, deliberately vague, obscure language to hide the speaker/writer’s true intent.

We’ve had examples galore as the 2012 election looms over DC, political candidates twisting themselves into pretzels to find the right combination of words to seduce voters.  Newt Gingrich, for instance, referred to his lobbying involvement with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac [for which he was paid handsomely] as providing advice as an ‘historian.’  John Boehner has taken a page out of Frank Luntz’s cannon, repeating the phrase ‘job creators’ as if it were a magical incantation.  Democrats are certainly not immune to this form of prevarication.  Every time I recall Nancy Pelosi’s infamous statement about the Healthcare Reform Bill, I wince: We have to pass the bill before we know what’s in it.

That being said, there’s a special spot in Doublespeak Heaven or Hell for John Yoo, who often writes for the American Enterprise Institute.

John Yoo.  Name sound familiar?  Mr. Yoo, the infamous legal advisor to the Bush Administration’s inner circle, recently jumped up, expressing considerable distaste for and worry over President Obama’s overreaching his authority, abusing and doing considerable damage to the US Constitution.  A reasonable person might conclude this is in reference to the recent indefinite detention clause in the National Defense Authorization Act, the one POTUS claimed he would not sign.  But then did.

But we’re not talking reasonable.  We’re talking John Yoo, deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel [OLC], Department of Justice from 2001-2003.

John Yoo helped strangle the English language, managing to transform the word torture into ‘enhanced interrogation,’ a smoke screen phrase that former Vice President Cheney is still defending, so he and his buddies can sleep at night.

Let’s recall the past.

John Yoo spun out legal arguments for wiretapping, warrantless surveillance on all communication coming in or out of the country as well as warrentless surveillance against American citizens; defended the use of torture [excuse me, enhanced interrogation], authoring the infamous ‘torture memo,’ in which he cited permissible techniques, including assault, maiming and drugging on orders of the President as long as they do not result in death, organ failure or impairment of bodily functions.  He also advised the suspension of the Geneva Convention, War Crimes Act, indicating that the US is no longer restrained by International Law in our endless War on Terror; declared that the President is empowered to make war without Congressional permission and, in fact, has the power to order military strikes inside the US.  He defended the President’s right to order rendition without Congressional approval, etc., etc., etc.

That John Yoo.  He was a very busy man while he held tenure as the Devil’s Advocate.

Mr. Yoo now says President Obama has exceeded his powers by his recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  As you may recall this is the nefarious agency, the wicked brainchild of Elizabeth Warren, to protect American consumers from the labyrinth of confusing language offered in loan and credit agreements.  For example, credit card agreements and home loans.

According to Mr. Yoo, who wrote a piece for the National Review Online, President Obama is making a sweeping claim in the very definition of ‘recess.’

But President Obama is making a far more sweeping claim. Here, as I understand it, the Senate is not officially in adjournment (they have held “pro forma” meetings, where little to no business occurs, to prevent Obama from making exactly such appointments). So there is no question whether the adjournment has become a constitutional “recess.”

And,

This, in my view, is not up to the president, but the Senate. It is up to the Senate to decide when it is in session or not, and whether it feels like conducting any real business or just having senators sitting around on the floor reading the papers. The president cannot decide the legitimacy of the activities of the Senate any more than he could for the other branches, and vice versa.

I find this argument particularly startling coming from Yoo, considering his defense of all things related to the expansion of presidential authority.

But there’s more,

Even with my broad view of executive power, I’ve always thought that each branch has control over its own functions and has the right — if not the duty — to exclude the others as best it can from its own decisions.

Broad view is an understatement because John Yoo is on record, as early as March 1996, declaring that the President has the right to declare war, not Congress.  During his tenure with OLC, he asserted that a President can suspend First Amendment Freedoms in wartime and that the power of the Executive is virtually unlimited in times of war.

You can’t have it both ways.  We’re still engaged in Afghanistan, involved in a seemingly perpetual state of war.

Yoo further states that in view of President Obama’s gross overreach:

Most importantly, private parties outside government can refuse to obey any regulation issued by the new agency. They will be able to defend themselves in court by claiming that the head of the agency is an unconstitutional officer . . .

Now to be clear, I am not a lawyer. I cannot comment on the legalistic merits of the argument.  Others have done that.  But I do think I have a fairly good eye for hypocrisy.  And then there’s this, in reviewing Mr. Yoo’s past declarations, summaries of his memos and advice on matters of war, torture and the suspension of civil rights, this recent charge against President Obama seems out of proportion.

And duplicitous.

It’s okay when neo-cons play with the boundaries and definitions of the Constitution but not when our presumably Democratic President does the same thing.  That’s not to say I agree with either political class redefining, remaking and declaring right and true what is and what is not permissible under the Constitution for very distinct political purposes, merely extending a particular agenda.  But once this questionable threshold is crossed?  The results are what they are.

What neither side refuses to speak to is the considerable danger there is in not accounting for what the next elected Executive is likely to do with ‘expanded’ powers, the establishment of a unitary president. This falls under the heading: Short-Term Goals. It should be noted that redefining the scope of the Executive Office was all the rage during the Bush years, something that Obama vowed to change.

But he did not.

Recalling Mr. Yoo’s penchant for reinterpreting the US Constitution during 2001-2003 [not a pleasant journey], I felt as if I’d literally entered a parallel Universe, one in which language is weaponized.  In this strange, ever-evolving cosmos, white is black, up is down, evil is good and ultimate power [with no accountability] is the Law.

George Orwell is screaming from the Heavens to be named a true prophet.

As for the US Constitution?  It can mean anything you want it to mean. It depends on which side of the political divide you’re standing on.

John Yoo is not a person I would ever turn to for legal advice.  Not for the world I wish to inhabit or wish available to my children and future grandbabies.  In fact, I would think after all the damage Mr. Yoo  [admittedly, he was not alone] did during the early years of the Bush Administration, he’d be reluctant to level charges against anyone ever again.

And yet, a quick check through the archives found that Yoo had weighed in on President Obama’s proposed Executive Order on Federal contractor disclosure.  This proposal would require contractors to provide their political-giving history, any gift over $5000.   The proposal, it is argued, will make the Federal contract system more transparent and accountable to the public.

How radical!

Yet Mr. Yoo suggests the proposal makes some of Richard Nixon’s ‘dirty tricks’ look quaint by comparison.  As an example, he conjures up the humiliating fate of anyone tempted by Presidential overreach, undoing the time-honored, Constitutional right of anonymous political speech [conveniently avoiding the issue of money-giving, as in, swamping our elections in massive amounts of payola].  Namely, the consequence of these sins leads to impeachment.

I’m falling down a rabbit hole.  A really dark rabbit hole.

A case in point, Mr. Yoo ties his concern for poor, vulnerable corporations to MoveOn’s boycott of the retail operation, Target, in Minnesota.  The boycott and subsequent bad press disclosed that Target had made a contribution to a conservative group supporting a gubernatorial candidate opposed to gay marriage.  Yet Target had repeatedly proclaimed itself a gay-friendly corporation.

Ian Millhiser at Think Progress summarizes Yoo’s analysis this way:

In other words, Target misled the public by calling itself a gay-friendly corporation, when it actually was secretly funding an anti-gay effort. Yet, because of disclosure, it was no longer able to maintain this charade and forced to end its two-faced practices. In Yoo’s twisted understanding of the world, this is a great tragedy and not a compelling argument for why disclosure laws are necessary.

I would like to think there’s a place in the Universe where bad actors are rehabilitated, where they reconsider bad decisions, damaging policies that serve only to injure the weak and/or take advantage of human vulnerabilities. Yet reviewing the twisted logic of John Yoo has given me real pause.  If fact, all these political players give me great pause.

This is particularly true with a primary season trudging along, Republican candidates making whacko statements and mean-spirited declarations. We’ve witnessed:

Michelle Bachmann’s delusions, the Eye of the Newt’s vindictive nature, Romney’s spinning positions, Santorum’s woman and gay problem, Perry’s aphasia, Jon Huntsman’s [sadly] invisible campaign and the cuddly libertarian Ron Paul, who yearns to return to the good ole days of 1900. We have not had the benefit of listening to the likes of Buddy Roemer, a voice that should be heard. But now add John Yoo to the brigade of howling voices, then mix a large measure of contradiction, deception and slick language games.

President Obama [who certainly has employed doublespeak with flair, spun numerous fantastic tales of his own] begins to look grounded, normal.

Which means, of course, I’ve definitely entered an alternate Universe.  Maybe this one:

The crazy season just goes on and on and on.  Which makes me think of Diogenes, wandering ancient Greece with lantern in hand, searching for that one honest man.

That was nearly 2500 years ago.  We haven’t learned much.


Saturday… Immigrants and Immigration

Good Morning, the sun should have come up on another weekend day, which for most of the politicians and corporate big wigs is just another day to enjoy what ever it is most politicians and corporate big wigs do.

And while they are off playing golf or raising money for the flavor of the week, I am certain there is some Latino pushing a lawn mower, or perhaps a Latina, washing their clothes and linens and taking care of the kids…If these fat cats live in Alabama, they still can have their “day labor” help without worrying about being charged with aiding and abetting the immigrants they hire.

Well, whatever the 1% do on the weekends, it is what they do during the week that has me writing about the subject for today’s post.  Getting anti-immigrant “reform” laws being proposed or passed in state houses around the south are becoming a favorite pastime of the conservative politician and big money corporate class.

I guess being two generations removed from immigrants, who came to America searching for a better life, makes me a bit sensitive to these draconian laws that are turning immigrant brown into the new south black. Some may think this is taking it a bit far, but as we have seen with the anti-woman PLUB agenda, the hate towards immigrants will only get worse.

This past week we saw one of the most severe immigrant laws in the nation go into effect. After an Alabama judge decided to block only a small part of the law, the Obama administration appealed the decision. Friday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals gave a temporary order, that only blocks two items from the law.  The court blocked a section of the law that allowed Alabama schools to check on the immigration status of new students enrolling in school. It also blocked the portion of the law in which police can charge an immigrant who did not provide proof of their citizenship.  A final decision is expected in a few months, but now according to the Washington Post:

The judges let stand parts of the law standing, including allowing police to check a person’s immigration status during a traffic stop. Courts can’t enforce contracts involving illegal immigrants, such as leases, and it’s a felony for an illegal immigrant to do business with the state for basic things like getting a driver’s license, the judges ruled.

The three-judge panel blocked a portion of the law that made it a crime for the “willful failure to complete or carry” proper immigration documents. The law does not require students show proof of citizenship to enroll, and students who do not have the right documents would not be prevented from attending school.

Liz Betancourt, 19, with her daughter, Idelfy, is scared to leave her house in Florence, Alabama. An illegal immigrant whose family came from Mexico to the U.S. when she was an infant, Betancourt lives in a state that recently instituted a tough new immigration law. (CBS News)Under the state’s new law, if she’s picked up by police, she could be deported. And during that process, which can take months, there’s no legal guarantee her daughter Idelfy — born in Alabama and a U.S. citizen — would stay with her.

Betancourt is one of many immigrants who has made arrangements for her daughter if she is deported, fortunately she has her aunt,

If Betancourt’s deported, her aunt, a U.S. citizen, would care for Idelfy so the baby could stay here.

Fear of deportation is spreading through families living here illegally. In Albertville, Alabama’s public schools, 81 of 1,100 Hispanic students have dropped out in the last two weeks.

For those people who do get deported, they have the option of taking their US born children with them…And what about Betancourt who was surprisingly vocal about her illegal status…

The Friday decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals here in Atlanta is only temporary. Its final decision could be months away. And Liz Betancourt — the woman interviewed in our story — was fired by her cleaning company right after she spoke with CBS News.

Not all of Alabama’s employers are happy about the new law.  Alabama immigration: crops rot as workers vanish to avoid crackdown | World news | guardian.co.uk

Brian Cash can put a figure to the cost of Alabama‘s new immigration law: at least $100,000. That’s the value of the tomatoes he has personally ripening out in his fields and that are going unpicked because his Hispanic workforce vanished literally overnight.

For generations, Cash’s family have farmed 125 acres atop the Chandler mountain, a plateau in the north of the state about nine miles long and two miles wide. It’s perfect tomato-growing country – the soil is sandy and rich, and the elevation provides a breeze that keeps frost at bay and allows early planting.

For four months every year he employs almost exclusively Hispanic male workers to pick the harvest. This year he had 64 men out in the fields.
Then HB56 came into effect, the new law that makes it a crime not to carry valid immigration documents and forces the police to check on anyone they suspect may be in the country illegally.

After the law went into effect…

…there is no-one left. The fields around his colonial-style farmhouse on top of a mountain are empty of pickers and the tomato plants are withering on the vine as far as the eye can see. The sweet, slightly acrid smell of rotting tomato flesh hangs in the air.

We had the same thing happen here in Georgia. When the Immigration law was passed in the “Peach” state, the Vidalia onion season was just getting underway. Many Georgia farmers had their crops rotting in the fields. However, Georgia’s answer to the problem? Prison labor…

But what about all those unemployed Alabama resident’s jobs that this law is supposed to miraculously save from the evil Latino?

Cash gets angry when people tell him that his Hispanic workforce was taking jobs away from Americans. Since the new law began two weeks ago only two American citizens have come by his farm asking for work.

The couple had driven two hours from a city to offer their services, but they barely lasted that long in the fields. Cash discovered that they were trying to fiddle him by notching up two baskets of tomatoes for every one they picked – as they were paid by the basket that would have fraudulently doubled their earnings.

“That’s just the kind of stuff you come across. Somebody who really wants a good job and is prepared to work hard and honest for it isn’t going to come up here for four months in the year.
“But Hispanics will do that, and move on to Florida when the picking’s finished.”

To me this law is not about saving jobs for American Citizens, it is about discrimination, and getting the brown out of the state.

There are more personal stories here at this link:  The grim reality of life under Alabama’s brutal immigration law | World news | The Guardian

Please give that article a full read, it does put a human face on all the hate this anti-immigration law brings about.

In this next article, Paul Kleyman discusses Alabama’s Immigration law: From Jim Crow to Juan Crow — a Boomer Reflects on Alabama’s Civil Rights Legacy

Last week the Water Works — in the ironically named community of Allgood, Ala. — informed local residents that they must now present a valid driver’s license or ID. Otherwise, the notice threatened, “You may lose water service.”

The warning stems from part of Alabama’s drastic new immigration law stipulating that no one can qualify for a driver’s license or any other government service in the state unless they can prove citizenship or are otherwise authorized to be in the United States — especially those who are brown or have a Spanish accent.

Just a sidenote, the temporary ruling on Friday did not block the part of the Alabama law that dealt with contracts…

The article goes on to say that Allgood’s no water for you notice is not the first time water was part of a racial divide in the southern state:

Similar images flowed through my mind during a long bus ride 46 years ago. I was on my way to join the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery. That was a time of shocking black-and-white TV pictures of police blasting demonstrators off their feet with water canons, a time of separate toilets and water fountains — legislated by other laws — for blacks and whites.

Today, Jim Crow has become Juan Crow.

Kleyman continues to describe his experience in Jim Crow South:

But the Alabama decision — coming the same week that witnessed the death of Fred Shuttelsworth, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr., and Derrick Bell, the Harvard law civil rights advocate — sent my mind rolling back through Birmingham on a chartered bus full of college students almost a half-century ago.

I was 19 and one of about 20,000 people wheeling in from around the country following Bloody Sunday. That was the police riot that left protesters like John Lewis — now a member of Congress — bloodied as they tried peacefully to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the first leg of a march to the state capital in Montgomery.

He took a bus from University of Minnesota that went south to heed Bobby Kennedy’s call.

In the ensuing days after the attack on the marchers, U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy called out the National Guard to protect marchers from the likes of the Klan and police thugs, such as Selma Sheriff Jim Clark and Birmingham’s Commissioner of Public Safety, one Eugene “Bull” Connor.

[…]

In the early morning light, I felt the bus pull into a gas station. Drowsy at first, I took in the station’s homespun blue-and-white paint job. Then I found myself wide awake at a sight I’d only read about until that moment.

Two water fountains were marked “For Whites” and “Colored.”

The signs had a deep effect on Kleyman.

I was not prepared for the jarring emotional impact that sight had on me. As I glanced over at my ebony friend and idol, Teddy (whom we on the Minnesota Daily staff all called the coolest, most worldly guy), I felt tears moisten my eyes and anger tighten my chest.

There it was, right in front of us, in all of its banal, institutionalized expression of fear and hatred. The prosaic sight now before me was somehow even more unsettling than the televised images of police dogs, Billy clubs and flailing limbs in water.

By Alabama law, Teddy and I simply could not share the same spout for a drink of water because — because why?

There is a cultural bias in the south towards anyone who is not white. Even in my little part of redneck North Georgia, my family has experienced the unfriendly attitude towards immigrants…Having the last name of Lopez, and the olive complexion that comes from our Mediterranean Spanish and Italian roots, people here automatically assume we are Mexican. My father is an electrician and plumber and when he first moved here would call himself Loper to avoid the discrimination when someone would call him for work.

In the twenty years since he has been here, the local population has become more integrated. But there is still a lot of discrimination. One of the local cops would always hang out by the Catholic church during the Spanish Mass, then he would pull over many of the Mexicans as they left church.

We would see lots of Latin sounding names on the arrest sheet printed in the weekly paper. No insurance, no licence etc…but there always was a charge for no signal or a busted tail light. Which actually meant…brown driver of unknown Hispanic origin.

I think this attitude is what fuels the underlying hate these immigration bills glorify.  Since the Georgia anti-immigrant law hit, we don’t see those arrest in the paper. Most of the Mexicans have moved out of our community. Kids who were born here in the states were pulled out of school, because their parents feared being deported. I have mentioned one of my son’s friends, whose older brother is living with another student so that he can finish his last year of high school. His younger brother, mother and father are in North Carolina…just hoping to return someday.

Anyway, the Kleyman article ends with this realization:

The decades have rolled by like so many state “Welcome To …” signs, and the years have sped along fueled by many causes, loves and regrets, among the latter a falling out with Teddy — all my fault — that remains unrepaired.

But in the miles toward Selma that morning — and again now — I couldn’t help but think of the folk-music inquiry of those days, “When will they ever learn?” Sad to say, even after this “long time passing,” the answer remains, not yet…

No it would seem the legislators of these states have not learned anything. The latest anti-immigration law out this week in South Carolina is going to court…Groups sue to halt South Carolina’s new immigration law | Reuters

The suit contends the law is unconstitutional, invites racial profiling and interferes with federal law, according to a statement by the coalition, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center.

South Carolina’s law, set to take effect on January 1, requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest for another reason and suspect may be in the country illegally.

Under the new law, employers in South Carolina will be required to use the federal E-Verify system to check the citizenship status of employees and job applicants. Penalties for knowingly employing illegal immigrants will include suspension and revocation of a business license by the state.

“By requiring local law enforcement officials to act as immigration agents, this law invites discrimination against anyone who looks or sounds ‘foreign,’ including American citizens and legal residents,” said Victoria Middleton, executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina.

I guess it would also allow for police arrest sheets to admit the real reason for pulling someone over…as I said above…brown driver of unknown Hispanic origin.

There is a good article that explains the effect this anti-immigration law has on Alabama families. Judith Browne Dianis: Missing: Alabama’s Latinos, Obama Must Act!

After Republicans won a super majority in the Alabama legislature in 2010, they orchestrated a home-grown extremist attack on immigrants. Upping the ante on Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law, the legislature passed a law that makes it a felony to enter into contracts with undocumented persons, permits police to ask immigration status (racial profiling), prohibits government transactions with undocumented immigrants and requires that schools check the citizenship status of all children (allegedly, for data collection purposes only). So, what’s the practical effect? Undocumented immigrants cannot rent a home, or get water or electric service, or a job, or obtain any government service for that matter. Immigrants will be too scared to be helpful to the police. For the past several months, families have left the state because the law also required that when undocumented parents enroll their children in school (to obtain their constitutionally protected access to free, public education), they must reveal to the school that they are in the U.S. without legal status. This part of the provision was put on hold (but not yet struck down) by a federal court on October 14th. But news of this temporary block to the law is too late for many families and it doesn’t correct the other wrongs in the law.

The impact has been devastating for families. Recent news reports document that Latino families are fleeing the state. Feeling unwelcome and scared, they are leaving in search of a place to call home, where they can go after the American Dream and get out of the shadows of society. Workers are quitting their jobs and packing up. Many families are withdrawing their children from school, and are being forced into a life on the run. Other families are preparing for the worst — deportation — and asking teachers and friends to serve as legal guardians of their U.S.-born children. Where is our humanity?

She ends with a plea to Obama to help the situation and fight for the immigrant…yeah, like that is going to happen…but I want to touch on this question she poses…Yeah, where is our humanity…it is becoming more apparent every day that we are becoming a society of cruelty.  The far right religious and economic austerity is a guise for persecuting those who do not met their ideal definition of a person or personhood. Whether it is immigrants, women, children, or former fetuses, when a government that supposedly represents the people, puts more effort into celebrating corporations as people…or passes laws that make a fertilized egg a person…it should be no surprise these draconian immigration laws are moving the discrimination agenda forward, by making cruelty an acceptable and “legal” behavior.

I wanted to end on a positive note…so this last link may give some hope for a future.  An alternative to Alabama’s direction on immigration | Care2 Causes

Despite the fact that the Obama administration deports one person every 79 seconds, the past twelve months has seen an even stronger push across US states against immigration.

This has led to Alabama’s immigration law, which surpasses all other state laws in its harshness and stringency. The law means that residents now have to prove their citizenship to secure their water supply. Others are drawing up documents to make sure that their children are looked after should they be deported.

The Care2Care article goes on to state that in 2010, one in four children was part of an immigrant family. It looks like a few states are taking this into consideration.

Rhode Island’s Board of Governors for Higher Education, encouraged by Gov. Lincoln Chafee, has approved a state version of the DREAM Act which allows undocumented students to pay in-state college tuition. Students without papers must sign an affidavit promising that they will pursue U.S. citizenship as soon as possible.

Last weekend, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the second half of his state’s DREAM Act. The first half, enacted in July, sanctioned private scholarships and loans for undocumented college students. These students, with the passage of the second bill, can now pay in-state tuition rates and apply for state aid.

Other states have versions of the DREAM Act, but because it can’t be passed at the federal level, the state acts don’t include a ‘path to citizenship.’ What they do allow is for kids who have already received a public education to obtain a college degree, earn better wages, pay taxes, contribute to the economy and give back to society.

And just last week, NY Governor Cuomo sign an executive order which makes state agency forms and instructions available in six different languages.  Even in the mid-west, some communities are bucking the anti-immigrant trend.

…last week the ‘rust belt’ city of Dayton, Ohio voted to turn their city into an “immigrant friendly” destination with the explicit goal of replenishing the city’s population. A “Welcome Dayton” program is about encouraging new businesses and spurring investment in immigrant neighborhoods. It involves ESL and literacy courses, actively involving local youth in community building and encouraging cross-cultural events.

Advocates argue that rather than marginalizing immigrants and treating them as scapegoats these governments are finding ways to integrate them because they see immigrants as vital and economically integral — crucial to the nation’s future.

Well, it is a step in the right direction, but states like California have a way to go…California Babysitter Bill: Understanding A.B. 889

Officially, Louisa Araneta* is a live-in caretaker for an elderly woman who needs help eating, bathing and getting dressed. Unofficially, she’s also a servant to the woman’s daughter and son-in-law, as well as their autistic son.

Araneta, 68, gets paid $35 a day to clean the house, cook for the whole family and attend to her primary charge. And since one shift usually spans at least 10 hours of work, her per-hour take ends up well below California’s $8.00 minimum wage standard.

[…]

An assembly bill introduced in February of this year sought to protect Louisa — along with thousands of other personal attendants like her — with provisions like overtime pay, rest breaks and the right to sue her employer if those conditions were violated. A.B. 889 became known and derided as the “Babysitter Bill.”

While it was passed in both the assembly and the Senate, A.B. 889 never made it to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown (D) because the Senate Appropriates Committee put it in the “suspense file.” A.B. 889 isn’t dead, but its suspension means that personal attendants like Araneta still have almost nowhere to turn when employers take advantage of their time. The bill’s authors have another year to amend it for review at a later date.

This August, when the bill had passed the assembly and was poised to do the same in the Senate, Sen. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) conjectured that the bill would be a job killer for domestic workers, shifting care work to institutions. As explained in his op-ed, “Unfortunately, the unreasonable costs and risks contained in this bill will discourage folks from hiring housekeepers, nannies and babysitters and increase the use of institutionalized care rather than allowing children, the sick or elderly to be cared for in their homes. I can’t help but wonder if that is the goal of A.B. 889 — a terrible bill that needs to be stopped.”

According to Marci Seville, a professor at the Golden Gate University School of Law and the director of the school’s Women’s Employment Rights Clinic.

“Domestic workers do the work that makes all other work possible,” she said. “Without domestic workers to clean homes and care for children and elders, the doctors, lawyers, business people, legislators and others would not be able to do their work.”

[…]

Isolation and vulnerability are hallmarks of the industry, especially for immigrant women who speak English as a second language. Since most work alone, scattered across residences all over California, domestic workers aren’t easy to educate or mobilize en masse.

“We can’t unionize these people because there is no big employer to organize against,” said Victor Narro, project director for the UCLA Labor Center.

There may not be a “big employer” to organize against, but…

Ironically, one factor impeding A.B. 889’s implementation is the fact that too many workers would benefit from the bill. According to the Senate Appropriation Committee’s analysis, the personal attendant industry’s labor violations are already so rampant that the state would be flooded with a “major increase in claims” that would necessitate the hiring of at least five new investigators to manage the caseload. The committee also estimated it would cost $385,000 to hire new staffers, and that’s just too much to pay in the midst of California’s budget crisis.

In an attempt to escape the domestic worker world, Araneta took a free computer course at the senior center, learning how to create an email account and write resumes to send to prospective employers. But, like millions of unemployed Americans have already discovered, “unfortunately, when you send a resume, they usually don’t reply,” she said.

“If I can find a better-paying job and a good employer, I’ll leave,” Araneta continued. “But right now, since I am a realistic person, I will suffer in silence.”

I think there will be countless numbers of people suffering in silence…and living in fear of being deported, worried about what will happen to their US born children.

So that is what I’ve found on the topic of immigration reform in America. What else are you reading and blogging about today? See you later in the comments, and have a wonderful day.


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!! Here are the stories that caught my eye this morning.

Reuters: Exclusive: Obama authorizes secret help for Libya rebels

President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, government officials told Reuters on Wednesday.

Obama signed the order, known as a presidential “finding”, within the last two or three weeks, according to government sources familiar with the matter.

Such findings are a principal form of presidential directive used to authorize secret operations by the Central Intelligence Agency. This is a necessary legal step before such action can take place but does not mean that it will.

Washington Post: In Libya, CIA is gathering intelligence on rebels

The Obama administration has sent teams of CIA operatives into Libya in a rush to gather intelligence on the identities and capabilities of rebel forces opposed to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, according to U.S. officials.

The information has become more crucial as the administration and its coalition partners move closer to providing direct military aid or guidance to the disorganized and beleaguered rebel army.

Although the administration has pledged that no U.S. ground troops will be deployed to Libya, officials said Wednesday that President Obama has issued a secret finding that would authorize the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and other support to Libyan opposition groups.

I can’t imagine why anyone would be surprised that the CIA is involved in Libya (they are everywhere). But the progs are looking down their noses in strong disapproval.

Emptywheel: Where Will Obama Try Himself for Material Support for Terrorism?

After all, according to Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project any help to a terrorist group–even counseling on how to make peace–is material support. And no matter how we try to spin arming rebels as an act of peace, it’s a good deal more help than legal counsel.

And, as the DC Circuit’s decision yesterday in Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman’s habeas suit makes clear, it’s not enough for a person to stop associating with al Qaeda in the 1990s, nor does the government need any real evidence of a tie between someone in al Qaeda’s vicinity to claim that person is a member of al Qaeda.

Glenn Greenwald: The wisdom and legality of arming Libyan rebels

Then there’s the question of the legality of arming Libyan troops. Salon’s Justin Elliott reported on Monday that the administration was actively considering arming the rebels despite an absolute arms embargo imposed by U.N. Resolution 1970 (“imposing an arms embargo on the country”). Today, The Guardian elaborates by citing numerous legal experts insisting that it would be a violation of the U.N. Resolution for the U.S. to arm the rebels. For its part, the U.S. insists that it is legally entitled to do so, with Hillary Clinton announcing that the arms embargo has been “overriden” by the broad mandate of U.N. Resolution 1973, allowing “all necessary measures” to be used to protect Libyan civilians.

On the strictly legal issue, this seems to be a close question. Can the specific arms embargo really be “overriden” by a general clause allowing the protection of civilians? That seems redolent of the Bush arguments that specific prohibitions in the law (such as the ban on warrantless eavesdropping) were “overriden” by the broad war powers assigned by the AUMF. More to the point, can it really be said that arming Libyan rebels is necessary for the protection of civilians? That sounds much more like what one does to help one side win a civil war.

I don’t know, and I admit I don’t like the idea of this action in Libya expanding too far. I remember when Reagan armed the “Contras.” Of course back in those days we were arming right-wing groups and the US was involved in countless human rights violations. In Libya, the opposition forces are trying to depose a genuinely evil dictator who has been involved in terrorist attacks.

But here’s my question: why don’t the progs convince the guy they supported to get us the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan? They wanted this guy, they forced him on us, and now they’re whining. and what are they doing to find a decent alternative? A big nothing.

I’m not going to be happy if we get involved in a ground war in Libya or anywhere else, but it hasn’t happened yet. We’ve been in Afghanistan for almost ten years!

Raw Story: Most Americans think Obama does not deserve re-election, according to new poll

Obama’s approval rating is also at its lowest point ever, at 42 percent, while his disapproval rating rose from earlier in the month to a new high of 48 percent.

A similar Quinnipiac poll published March 3 found President Obama with 46 percent approval and 46 percent disapproval.

In that earlier poll, voters also split on whether Obama deserves reelection, with 47 percent saying yes and 45 percent saying no.

The latest poll reflects the president’s sliding fortunes in other studies, with a full 50 percent now saying that he does not deserve to stay in office beyond 2012.

The big problem with this is that the Republicans are bound to nominate someone who is to the right of Atilla the Hun and about as crazy and unempathetic as Muammar Gaddafi. I refuse to vote for Obama, but what if we end up with Michelle Bachmann or Mike Huckabee as President?

Anyway, the Tea Party’s polls are in the crapper along with Obama’s.

Just 32 percent of respondents viewed the tea party favorably, while a record-high 47 percent had a negative view of the movement that propelled Republicans to dramatic Congressional victories last November. Fourteen percent had no opinion, and 7 percent said they’ve never heard of the tea party.

I sure hope the Congresspeople find out about that.

Russ Feingold doesn’t think Jeffrey Immelt is a very good jobs czar. No kidding, lol.

Feingold’s new group, Progressives United, is set to launch a new campaign to pressure General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to step down as the head of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competiveness. Feingold’s campaign — which I’m told will be joined by Move On later today — is based on two pieces of news that, Feingold says, render Immelt unfit for the gig of Obama jobs chief: GE paid no American taxes in 2010; and Immelt’s compensation doubled .

In an email to members of his new group, Feingold will argue that if Immelt doesn’t step down, Obama should fire him, arguing that Dems need to stop coddling corporations whose behavior undermines our economy:

I’ve got a couple of semi-humorous stories to get your mind off all the bad news. Get out your tiny violin. Did you know that the super-rich are unhappy and dissatisfied with their lives?

The Atlantic: Secret Fears of the Super-Rich

Does great wealth bring fulfillment? An ambitious study by Boston College suggests not. For the first time, researchers prompted the very rich—people with fortunes in excess of $25 million—to speak candidly about their lives. The result is a surprising litany of anxieties: their sense of isolation, their worries about work and love, and most of all, their fears for their children.

Awwwww. Too bad, so sad. Then give your money away to people who actually need it, why don’t you. And then get a real job.

Raw Story: Death anxiety linked to acceptance of intelligent design: study

Research conducted at the University of British Columbia and Union College found that people’s death anxiety was associated with support of intelligent design and rejection of evolutionary theory.

Death anxiety also influenced those in the study to report an increased liking for Michael Behe, a prominent proponent of intelligent design, and an increased disliking for Richard Dawkins, a well-known evolutionary biologist.

The findings suggest that people are motivated to believe in intelligent design and doubt evolutionary theory because of unconscious psychological motives.

Okay, time out. Because? No. This is a correlational study, and as we all should have learned long ago, Correlation does not equal causation.

The study was lead by UBC Psychology Assistant Professor Jessica Tracy and and UBC psychology PhD student Jason Martens. It was published in the March 30 issue of the open access journal PLoS ONE.

“Our results suggest that when confronted with existential concerns, people respond by searching for a sense of meaning and purpose in life,” Tracy said. “For many, it appears that evolutionary theory doesn’t offer enough of a compelling answer to deal with these big questions.”

There are a lot of variables unaccounted for in this description of the study. Maybe death anxiety is just associated with fundamentalist Christianity. I guess I could look up the study and see what the findings really were… But I probably won’t.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?