Well, after having a good evening, watching a couple of Italian films last night, Life is Beautiful and Miracle on Madonna Street, I have a few links for you this morning.
The New York Post has an article about the battles being fought in Africa: A Trail of Bullet Casings Leads From Africa’s Wars to Iran
The first clues appeared in Kenya, Uganda and what is now South Sudan. A British arms researcher surveying ammunition used by government forces and civilian militias in 2006 found Kalashnikov rifle cartridges he had not seen before. The ammunition bore no factory code, suggesting that its manufacturer hoped to avoid detection.
Within two years other researchers were finding identical cartridges circulating through the ethnic violence in Darfur. Similar ammunition then turned up in 2009 in a stadium in Conakry, Guinea, where soldiers had fired on antigovernment protesters, killing more than 150.
For six years, a group of independent arms-trafficking researchers worked to pin down the source of the mystery cartridges. Exchanging information from four continents, they concluded that someone had been quietly funneling rifle and machine-gun ammunition into regions of protracted conflict, and had managed to elude exposure for years. Their only goal was to solve the mystery, not implicate any specific nation.
When the investigators’ breakthrough came, it carried a surprise. The manufacturer was not one of Africa’s usual suspects. It was Iran.
Read the rest at the link, it is a long article.
In other news, this time out of Brazil: Fast New Test Could Find Leprosy Before Damage Is Lasting
A simple, fast and inexpensive new test for leprosy offers hope that, even in the poorest countries, victims can be found and cured before they become permanently disabled or disfigured like the shunned lepers of yore.
American researchers developed the test, and Brazil’s drug-regulatory agency registered it last month. A Brazilian diagnostics company, OrangeLife, will manufacture it on the understanding that the price will be $1 or less.
“This will bring leprosy management out of the Dark Ages,” said Dr. William Levis, who has treated leprosy patients at a Bellevue Hospital outpatient clinic for 30 years.
Even more important, he said, it is expected to detect infections as much as a year before symptoms appear. And the earlier treatment begins, the better the outcome. Leprosy is caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium leprae, related to the one that causes tuberculosis, but reproducing so slowly that symptoms often take seven years to appear.
This new test requires just a drop of blood and the results are given after only ten minutes.
The disease has historically been hard to diagnose, despite the popular, but inaccurate, image of fingers and toes dropping off victims. As the bacteria kill nerves, muscles atrophy and those digits curl into claws. After disuse and repeated injuries, the body reacts protectively by absorbing the bone calcium in the bones, shrinking the digits.
For centuries, some observant doctors have noticed early signs: the numb skin patches, missing eyebrows, drooping earlobes, bulging neck nerves, the flat “lion face” caused by nasal cartilage dissolving.
Since nothing could be done for them before the age of antibiotics, victims lost the use of their hands and had to beg. Some also went blind as the blinking muscles degenerated and their eyes dried out. In the Middle Ages, some towns banned lepers, while others required them to ring bells to warn of their approach. Religious charities created “leper colonies.”
And they still exist, even in the United States. A few elderly residents have chosen to stay on in Carville, La., and Kalaupapa, Hawaii, despite having been cured. Several thousand live at one in northeast Brazil, said John S. Spencer, a leprosy researcher at Colorado State University who has worked there. “People say things like ‘People outside won’t understand what’s wrong with my face,’ ” he said.
Nowadays, he said, most patients are cured before their faces are severely disfigured. Still, he said, he had read a survey in which health experts asked Brazilians whether they would rather have the human immunodeficiency virus or leprosy. Most chose H.I.V. — even though leprosy does not kill, can be cured, and does not make a victim risky to have sex with. “The stigma is that strong,” he said.
Wow. Dr Lewis says he hopes the Brazilian test becomes available in the US so he can test the families of his patients. It takes many antibiotics given over 6 months to a year to cure the disease…these new test provide doctors with more time to could help diagnosis leprosy before permanent nerve damage is done.
I guess my PAD is getting the best of me, I just don’t have the energy to give you more than these…and instead of posting links to more of the same news, give a look at some of the artsy reads below.
With the Academy Awards later tonight, I have two links about film and films.
Hollywood is getting ready to hand out the industry’s most prestigious film awards: the Oscars.
Among the contenders for best documentary is a film directed by an Israeli, and another by a Palestinian.
Both the Israeli The Gatekeepers and Palestinian 5 Broken Cameras tell the same story, but from two quite different perspectives.
Video at the link, and…
Digital is taking over Hollywood, but celluloid’s fans intend to fight on
They are some of the most powerful people in one of the most powerful entertainment industries in the world. And when Hollywood’s grandest gather at tonight’s Oscars there will be no end of smiles and handshakes. But they are also fans, and like all fans, they are given to apparently arcane squabbles. The latest is whether films should be shot on, well, film.
Some of the most successful directors, such as James Cameron and George Lucas, are so obsessed with having the best special effects that they have spent millions embracing computer-generated imagery and abandoned 35mm film. Others, such as Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan, are wedded to traditional celluloid, which is becoming the film equivalent of the vinyl record.
Epics such as Les Misérables and Lincoln – both shot on 35mm – and digital creations such as Life of Pi have all made millions at the box office. While film buffs may talk about the “feel” of film, with all its subtleties, the reality is that pixilated perfection is winning – the whirring of 35mm film projectors silenced by the hum of digital machines.
Just take a look at the films nominated for best picture:
Although many love a sharp, digital picture with high definition, others prefer something a bit less “real”. The split among directors is highlighted in the nominations for Best Picture. Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln were shot on film. While Argo, Amour, Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty were shot on digital. As was The Hobbit nominated in three technical Oscar categories.
David O Russell, director of Silver Linings Playbook, said: “Maybe I’m old-fashioned, maybe I’m superstitious, maybe I’m romantic – I love film and it has a magic quality, it has a warmth. I may use digital cameras in a pinch because they are small and fast but I like film for its humaneness.” He is one of a number of directors determined to continue shooting on 35mm. Another is Nolan, who made the Dark Knight trilogy: “I am now constantly asked to justify why I want to shoot a film on film,” he said. Nolan likens digital to an “amazing” cookie until you realise “this is some horrible chemical crap that’s giving you this bad illusion that fools you at first.”
You can read more about what actors, cinematographers and directors think about digital vs film at the link up top. I tend to agree with the folks who love film…and think that digital sucks.
Another archaic form of technology that gets lost in this day in age is the typewriter. Take this woman’s use of the typewriter:
As romantic as the idea of working on a typewriter now seems, in reality they’re rather clunky and temperamental things. Writing with one would probably take us an age – and if we made a mistake? Well, forget it.
So imagine trying to draw with one.
London based artist Keira Rathbone, originally from Dorset, does exactly that; clustering together marks made by letters, numbers and symbols, to make brilliant, one-off images.
The English artist clusters letters, numbers and symbols from a typewriter keyboard to composite images; from portraits of friends and celebrities to landscapes and still life. A closer look at what looks like a sketch of Wimborne Minster, a church in East Dorset, England, reveals swirls of ampersands and the ticks of quotations marks.
Watch the video below to see the artist at work, and click through the slideshow to see examples of her typewriter art. Visit keirarathbone.com for more examples of her work.
Be sure to take a look at the pictures, Rathone’s art is impressive…
Another obsolete form of technology is shown below…Keypunch Orchestra: 1937 | Shorpy Historical Photo Archive
June 1937. “Baltimore, Maryland. For every Social Security account number issued an ’employee master card’ is made in the Social Security board records office. Testifying data, given on the application blank form SS-5, is transferred to this master card in the form of upended quadrangular holes, punched by key punch machines, which have a keyboard like a typewriter. Each key struck by an operator causes a hole to be punched in the card. The position of a hole determines the letter or number other machines will reproduce from the master card. From this master card is made an actuarial card, to be used later for statistical purposes. The master card also is used in other machines which sort them numerically, according to account numbers, alphabetically according to the name code, translate the holes into numbers and letters, and print the data on individual ledger sheets, indexes, registry of accounts and other uses. The photograph above shows records office workers punching master cards on key punch machines.” Whew. Longest caption ever? Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.
That is all I have for you this morning. Hope you all enjoy your Sunday, see ya later on tonight…should be quite a show.
So what are you all reading and blogging about today?
Did you catch the debate last night? If you didn’t Wonk did an excellent job of hosting a live blog.
Presidential debates sometimes have their moments…a thousand points of light, Hillary is likable enough, I know there are more but I am just too exhausted to think of other fine debater examples. There wasn’t any gotcha moment last night, with the exception of Huntsman who was absent in the last few Iowa debates, the performance was pretty much the same as the last 12 or 50 GOP debates this past month.
Last night just emphasized the quality, or lack thereof, of the GOP offering. They are having another “forum” on Meet the Press today, so it will be yet another reason to sleep in this morning.
Here are a few links to get you caught up on what the media has to say about the freak show, I’ll save the best pundit remarks for last:
For a quick summary: Five Takeaways From Saturday Night’s GOP Debate
When asked about those racist newsletters, Paul tried to pass off his hero-worship of MLK and his opinion on the unfairness of the justice system as proof he is not a racist. Ron Paul says he is not racist, slams drug laws as unfair to blacks
Paul said that Martin Luther King is one his heroes for practicing “the libertarian principle of peaceful resistance and peaceful civil disobedience,” and highlighted his understanding that the drug laws in the United States unfairly penalize African Americans.
Well, it still doesn’t answer the question about holding Ron Paul accountable for his racist newsletters. Ron Paul Calls MLK a “Hero”—After Newsletter Trashed Him as a “World-Class Adulterer”
If you need a refresher on what else these newsletters contained: 10 Extreme Claims in Ron Paul’s Controversial Newsletters
As far as Mittens is concerned. Meh…
Here is what Charlie Pierce had to say, see you could have just skipped over all the other links…I am betting most of you did. 😉
At this moment, I am still digesting the incredible farrago of gibbering nonsense, vengeful religious rage, political chickenshit, and Mandarin Chinese that combined to make the 45,670th of 62,390 scheduled Republican presidential debates the Level 4 biohazard that it was.
Oh yeah…you know Pierce take on the debate is going to be good.
In brief, Saturday night may have been the most naked piece of point-shaving and game-throwing since the 1919 World Series. I’ve seen fixed prizefights where the issue was more in doubt. The other candidates went so far into the tank for Willard that they may not dry off until next August. In the 1950’s, Frankie Carbo would have had them all killed because they made it look so damned obvious. Where was the promised Gingrich assault on the frontrunner? Where was the blood, the guts, the glory? Where was the damn slasher film we all anticipated? This was a waltz, and a clumsy one. If the people in that audience had any pride at all, they’d have attacked the ABC platform and demanded satisfaction for this massive piece of consumer fraud.
The coalescing has begun. The non-Romneys seem to be coming to grips with the fact that there’s virtually no chance that Willard isn’t the nominee. So, by and large, the rest of them started paying court staying away from him.
Pierce then breaks down the two things all this VP ass kissing accomplished.
1) Willard was able to get away with being even more banal than he usually is, except for that one moment when George Stephanopoulos tried to get him to give a straight answer on the right to privacy as derived from the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision in reference to contraception. “I don’t know any state that wants to ban contraception, George,” said Willard, running through all four of the expressions of which his face is capable, beginning with “Lordly Disdain” and ending with “Flog The Butler.” Stephanopoulos pressed on. (At one point, I thought he might throw a packet of Trojans at Willard and say, “These, motherfucker!”) Romney ducked, weaved, made his face work harder than he was, until he finally cried, “Hey, contraception works!”
Not exactly Webster’s Reply To Hayne, true. But not banal.
2) Because they declined to be dicks to Willard, because they’re all going to spend most of next autumn getting sockless, drunk, and standing behind him on a stage, pretending they don’t want to hit him with their shoes, the rest of the cast decided to be dicks toward each other, toward the president, and toward large numbers of their fellow countrymen and countrywomen. Ron Paul called Newt Gingrich a chickenhawk, and Newt responded by saying that he’d never asked for his deferment, which he received because he was married at the time to the first of his future ex-wives. Paul came back at him. “When I was called, I was married and had two kids. I went.” Dr. Paul has a dickish side to him that has been heretofore covert. Not anymore.
However, not to be outdone…
Newt rallied his well-wrought dickness, though, right after a lengthy wrangle over gay marriage that might have been the most pointless discussion of that particular controversial issue ever conducted, by attacking the “liberal news media” for paying so much attention to discrimination under the law aimed at gay people, and none at all to the fact that Catholic organizations have been forbidden from arranging adoptions and performing other social services because they choose to practice discrimination based on religion. “There’s anti-Christian bigotry and none of it gets covered,” thundered Gingrich, who earlier in the discussion said that being nice to gay couples (Hey, you can visit your partner when he’s dying. Is this a great country or what?) didn’t mean adjusting the sacrament of marriage. It apparently has eluded his Holiness, Pope N. Leroy I, that not only is secular marriage not a sacrament, but also that a lot of Protestant denominations don’t believe it is, either.
Just go over to the link and read the whole thing…
The thing that stood out to me was the misleading remarks when it came to Obama and his weak liberal stance on Iraq, and his European socialist policies. Misleading is putting it mildly. Obama follows in Rumsfeld’s footprints
Defense analysts almost immediately drew the comparison between Rumsfeld’s vision and the one spelled out in Obama’s plan.
“It is easy to emphasize Asia, technology, and quality over quantity,” Pentagon adviser and Center for Strategic and International Studies analyst Anthony Cordesman said Thursday. “In fact, this is what Secretary Rumsfeld did.”
Center for Defense Information analyst Winslow Wheeler, a former congressional defense aide, said the Obama plan is “very much like Rumsfeld’s ‘Transformation’ agenda.”
What’s more, Wheeler said, the Obama plan’s shifting of the nation’s defense strategy toward the Asia-Pacific region “re-emphasizes the focus on the Air Force and Navy as the ‘transformative’ military services — Rumsfeld’s word, not theirs — but they seem to mean very much the same thing.”
As far as the European Socialist remark made by Newt, let’s go back to Pierce for a moment:
The trademark Gingrichian sneer was mostly leveled at President Obama, who, Gingrich said, “in his desperate attempt to create a radical socialist European model is undoubtedly sincere.” Ooooh, snap! Look upon my adjectives, ye mighty, and despair!
I won’t spend any time on the frothy dick, aka Santorum, you can read Pierce for that…
Musharraf is a “proclaimed offender” and there’s no need for a warrant for this arrest, PTI reported today, citing Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, prosecutor at the Federal Investigation Agency. Musharraf lives in Dubai and London and plans to return to Pakistan on Jan. 25 or Jan. 27, according to the report.
A Texas man has enlisted the ACLU to help him sue CVS for gender discrimination after a pharmacist refused to sell him emergency contraception.
Jason Melbourne had already visited four pharmacies in search of Plan B for his wife when he was referred to a CVS in Mesquite, Texas, some 15 miles away from his home. They had one box left:
But when he finally got there, the overnight pharmacist, Minni Matthew, told Melbourne she wasn’t going to sell it to him.
In order for him to buy the meds, the pharmacist said, she’d need to talk to and see the ID of his wife, who was at home with their two young children. He asked why, and she pointed to the fine print on the medication’s box, which says it can only be sold to someone age 17 or older. Melbourne pointed out that he was well over 17.
“I’ve bought this plenty of times in my life, and it’s never been a problem,” he said. “Are you telling me every other place I’ve bought it from has been wrong?”
Didn’t matter, Matthew said, since the medicine obviously wasn’t for him.
“Why don’t you show me the law that says you can’t sell this to a man?” Melbourne replied.
The situation got worse from there. Melbourne put his wife on the phone and even Googled the medication to show the pharmacist there was no law against selling it to a man. But “she didn’t want to see it,” he said.
That’s when a male pharmacy technician informed Melbourne that they didn’t want to sell emergency contraception to men because they might be giving it to “rape victims.”
Jezebel notes that Melbourne’s ordeal happened around the same time that a Houston CVS store refused to sell another man Plan B. CVS apologized for that last month, calling it an “isolated incident.” It wasn’t.
CVS isn’t the only pharmacy that has issues with selling Plan B to a man…
In fact, in 2010 ACLU received reports that Walgreens stores in Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma were refusing to sell emergency contraception to men. Walgreens relented when the ACLU confronted them publicly.
Moving on, yes I am too tired to keep this up much longer.
Ten young whooping cranes and the bird-like plane they think is their mother had flown more than halfway to their winter home in Florida when federal regulators stepped in.
Now the birds and the plane are grounded in Alabama while the Federal Aviation Administration investigates whether the journey violates regulations because the pilot was being paid by a conservation group to lead the cranes on their first migration instead of working for free.
FAA regulations say only pilots with commercial pilot licenses can fly for hire. The pilots of Operation Migration’s plane are instead licensed to fly sport aircraft because that’s the category of aircraft that the group’s small, open plane with its rear propeller and bird-like wings falls under. FAA regulations also prohibit sport aircraft — which are sometimes of exotic design — from being flown to benefit a business or charity.
From Minx’s Missing Link File: An interesting health link for you today…
A team led by Alan Hemming, MD, transplant surgeon at UC San Diego Health System, has successfully performed the west coast’s first ex-vivo liver resection, a radical procedure to completely remove and reconstruct a diseased liver and re-implant it without any tumors. The procedure saved the life of a 27-year old mother whose liver had been invaded by a painful tumor that crushed the organ and entangled its blood supply.
“During a 9-hour surgery the team was able to remove the basketball-sized tumor,” said Hemming, professor and surgical director of the Center for Hepatobiliary Disease and Abdominal Transplantation (CHAT) at UC San Diego Health System. “This is a surgery that carries a 15 to 20 percent risk of mortality. In this case, the patient would not have survived if she did not have surgery. This was the only way we could save her liver and her life.”
During the procedure, the diseased liver was detached from the body, flushed with preservation solution and cooled to a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius. This allowed Hemming to carefully remove the tumor from the liver in a bloodless field while preserving vital structures. Hemming then removed the tumor which weighed as much as the liver itself. Once the tumor was removed, the vessels were meticulously reconstructed. The liver was then successfully reimplanted.
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: A few weeks ago I wrote about the Congo’s version of the Loch Ness Monster. Well, there is a guy heading into the jungle to find the Congo mokele mbembe. Dom Joly: If I’m munched by a mokele mbembe, farewell, dear readers – Dom Joly – Columnists – The Independent
I’m off to the Congo for two weeks. I’m still travelling the world looking for reputed monsters to put in my new book, Scary Monsters and Super Creeps. This time I’m going after the mokele mbembe, a dinosaur-type creature that is supposed to inhabit Lake Tele in the far north of “good” Congo.
In case you didn’t know, there are two Congos: the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) is the “bad” Congo. The giveaway being the use of “democratic” in the name – this is always a sign that it is not democratic and not much fun (see the German Democratic Republic and the Democratic People’ s Republic of North Korea). I’m off to the Republic of Congo to try to find the elusive beast that has apparently forced tribes of pygmies to build huge stockades around their villages.
Lets hope he doesn’t become lunch.
That is it for me, it is 3am and I just want to go to sleep. So if you come accross any typos…you know why.
What are you all reading and blogging about today?
The New York Times has a review of this mornings debate: <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/09/us/politics/romney-is-the-main-target-in-a-caustic-gop-debate.html”>Romney Is the Main Target in a Caustic G.O.P. Debate – NYTimes.com</a>
There are just a few days left in 2011, and for all we know 2012 is going to be the last year we gotta deal with. Right?
I never knew what the source was for the traditional New Year’s Eve Kiss, but,
According to English and German folklore, the first person you encounter in a new year — and the nature of this encounter — sets the tone for the rest of the year. A kiss is about strengthening ties you wish to maintain in the future. If a couple celebrating together doesn’t take the time to lock lips, it doesn’t bode well for the relationship.
Hmmmm…My grandmother also used to throw a pot of water out the back door, something about washing away the bad luck from the previous year. It never worked for her, Granny had to have the worst luck of anyone I know. The idea that a New Year’s kiss strengthens ties is a positive way to begin 2012…perhaps some of the GOP Clowns will start puckering up?
Oh wait, they’ve been kissing the base’s ass all along. Perry switched his stance on abortion yesterday, and since I’ve brought this up…let’s stick with the right’s war on women for one more link.
2011 marked a banner year in the Republican war on woman’s health. Close to 1,000 anti-abortion bills sped through state legislatures as the GOP-led House led a “comprehensive and radical assault” on a federal level. But in surveying their arsenal this year, 10 bills stood out as particularly perturbing and far-reaching efforts to stymie women’s access to abortion services, birth control, and vital health services like breast cancer screenings. Here are ThinkProgress’s nominations for the most extreme attacks on a woman’s right to choose.
From redefining rape to defunding Planned Parenthood, see what 10 bills made the list…
In other Women’s Issues news, Egypt has banned the military’s forced practice of “virginity test.”
An Egyptian court on Tuesday ordered the country’s military rulers to stop the use of “virginity tests” on female detainees, a practice that has caused an uproar among activists and rights groups.
The virginity test allegations first surfaced after a March 9 rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square that turned violent when men in plainclothes attacked protesters, and the army cleared the square by force. The rights group Human Rights Watch said seven women were subjected to the tests.
The ban came a week after public outrage over scenes of soldiers dragging women protesters by the hair, stomping on them and stripping one half-naked in the street during a fierce crackdown on activists.
The people of Haiti lost an important human rights advocate this past week, Death of Dominican activist leaves void in movement for rights of people of Haitian descent
Sonia Perez was the undisputed champion of people of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic, fighting deep discrimination and helping them get birth certificates, housing and education.
Her passing earlier this month of a heart attack at age 48 has left many activists wondering who will carry on her work at a crucial time.
“I don’t see who can replace her,” said Edwin Paraison, who worked with Pierre and was Haiti’s former minister of Haitians living abroad. “Sonia is the kind of woman who is born once a century.”
People of Haitian descent, or even just darker skin, have long been condemned to menial jobs, subject to deportation and denied access to school and jobs in the Dominican Republic.
In 30 years of activism, Pierre helped countless people obtain birth certificates over the resistance of government officials. She led marches and organized rallies, fighting for better conditions for people in the sugar cane camps, or bateys, where she grew up.
You may remember Sonia Perez standing next to Michele Obama and Hillary Clinton when she received the Robert Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2010. The passing of Perez at such a young age is so sad…she has left many wondering who will step up to take on the battle she can no longer wage.
Yesterday, NorthWestRain posted a link to an article in Esquire…I just wanted to bring it up to the front page because it really is a powerful read: American Class System – We Are Not All Created Equal, by Stephen Marche – Esquire
There are some truths so hard to face, so ugly and so at odds with how we imagine the world should be, that nobody can accept them. Here’s one: It is obvious that a class system has arrived in America — a recent study of the thirty-four countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that only Italy and Great Britain have less social mobility. But nobody wants to admit: If your daddy was rich, you’re gonna stay rich, and if your daddy was poor, you’re gonna stay poor. Every instinct in the American gut, every institution, every national symbol, runs on the idea that anybody can make it; the only limits are your own limits. Which is an amazing idea, a gift to the world — just no longer true. Culturally, and in their daily lives, Americans continue to glide through a ghostly land of opportunity they can’t bear to tell themselves isn’t real. It’s the most dangerous lie the country tells itself.
Go read it…America is the land of the haves and have nots…I wonder if these two Fed governors Obama has nominated will help matters or just make them worse: Obama taps economist, banker as Fed governors
President Barack Obama will nominate Harvard economist Jeremy Stein and Jerome Powell, an investment banker and former Treasury official, to the two empty seats on the Federal Reserve’s policy-setting board of governors.
The White House’s pick of candidates, who have Democratic and Republican credentials respectively, may help speed their nomination through Congress amid a sluggish economic recovery that has failed to put a major dent in the unemployment rate, now at 8.6 percent.
While neither has laid out detailed views on monetary policy, Stein wrote a paper earlier this year suggesting he would back the Fed’s unconventional efforts to keep down long-term borrowing costs, which have been controversial in Washington. The Fed for over three years has adopted an array of radical measures to keep interest rates low and spur recovery.
Stein, who previously worked for the Obama administration as an adviser to the Treasury secretary and a National Economic Council staff member, specializes in stock price behavior, corporate investment and financing decisions, risk management and capital allocation inside firms. He declined to comment on his nomination.
The choice of Powell, who served at the Treasury during President George H. W. Bush’s term in the late 1980s and early 1990s, could be aimed at mollifying Senate Republicans. They blocked Peter Diamond, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist, saying the Nobel prize winner was not qualified for the job and was too sympathetic to government intervention in the economy.
Powell is a lawyer by training and worked at Dillon, Read and Bankers Trust Co. after leaving the senior Bush administration and before joining Carlyle Group. His knowledge of financial markets could help him fill the gap left by Kevin Warsh, a former Morgan Stanley executive who acted as Chairman Ben Bernanke’s point-man for crisis negotiations.
I am sure Dakinikat will have something to say about these nominations…right Dak…hint…hint. 😉
In the hacking world, an Anonymous group is planing to publish emails stolen from Stratfor, aka Strategic Forecasting Inc.
Hackers affiliated with the Anonymous group said they are getting ready to publish emails stolen from private intelligence analysis firm Strategic Forecasting Inc, whose clients include the U.S. military, Wall Street banks and other corporations.
Antisec has already published what it claims are the names of thousands of corporate and government customers, as well as email addresses, passwords and credit card numbers of individual subscribers to its services. Customers on the list published by Antisec include Bank of America, Exxon Mobil Corp, Goldman Sachs & Co, Interpol, Thomson Reuters, the U.S. military and the United Nations.
“Stratfor is not the ‘harmless company’ it tries to paint itself as. You’ll see in those emails,” Anonymous said via Twitter.
The group said it would release those emails once it had finished formatting them for distribution and prepared more than 9,000 “mirrored” copies. Creating that many copies of the file would allow the hackers to distribute it more quickly and also make it more difficult for authorities to shut down servers holding the data.
I guess time will tell. I doubt Wikileaks will be involved in the distribution, but this hack makes me think of Biden’s remark about terrorist acts. Especially with the Manning Hearing going on, it will be interesting to see what happens.
This Christmas, my husband got a Kindle Fire…it replaces his 1st Generation Kindle that we got back when Amazon first released the Kindle in 2007. He has always been happy with his Kindle, in fact it was his satisfaction that prompted me to get a Kindle of my own. I thought at 79 bucks…yes, it will pay for itself. I had not paid any attention to the prices of the Kindle books, I thought they were still at the reasonable price of $9.99. What a shock it was to find out that many Kindle ebooks are more expensive than a paperback. So this next link actually addresses this change. The great ebook price swindle
Publishers have two major distribution methods. One is traditional wholesaling: sell the book to a middleman, who typically adds a mark-up to customers, but sometimes discounts a book below cost as a “loss leader” to attract more business for items that aren’t discounted in this way.
The other model is called the “agency” system. In this case, publishers set the price and the bookstore merely handles the sale to the ultimate customer, for a set fee or percentage of the transaction.
The “big six” US publishers all sell their physical books via the wholesale model. After years of wholesaling digital editions as well, they moved to the agency model for ebooks, with Random House becoming the final publisher to switch early last year. The publishers had been increasingly angry about Amazon’s selling of new bestsellers at the loss-leading price of $10 (actually, $9.99), worrying that the giant online company was setting customer expectations at a too-low price point and undermining the sales of physical books.
Apple played a role in this switch, by essentially telling the publishers it wanted the agency model for its own online bookstore, which services the iPad and iPhone. And Apple co-operated in what was the inevitable result for e-books everywhere: higher prices to consumers.
Not just higher prices, but vastly higher; many ebook bestsellers on Amazon (and in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store) jumped 30% to 50%, from about $10 to $13 or $15 or even higher, as publishers imposed higher list prices for the digital versions. And in case after case, the ebook price for a new book was close to, and sometimes even higher than, the Amazon price for a hardcover. Remember, Amazon still has the right to discount from list price for physical books, as it has always done. Meanwhile, publishers have dictated that ebook prices will be the same as they charge for paperbacks (around $10 these days).
The article points out that these new e-book prices are a rotten deal for consumers…no kidding. And to think that Apple played a roll in this price increase really pisses me off. So greed is ruining the one luxuries I had in life, reading books with the ease of accessibility on a Kindle…sounds like an Occupy Random House is needed…what do you all think.
Now, I’ve got two creature feature articles for your enjoyment…
Invasive black tiger shrimp prove a genuine threat to Gulf shrimp populations. I’ve seen these things being sold at the grocery store or our local Banjoville Walmart…I had no idea they were so invasive and such a threat to native shrimp.
Fisheries managers say there’s an invasive species lurking in the Gulf of Mexico that could have a negative impact in the Coastal Bend.
The black tiger shrimp, marketed by seafood markets as tiger prawns, eats other shrimp and recently reappeared as a concern among state biologists and seafood industry officials.
The highly aggressive giant shrimp, which can be a foot long and weigh nearly a pound, can carry diseases that native brown, white and pink shrimp may not have the immune system to fight, said Art Morris, a fisheries biologist with Texas Parks & Wildlife.
The numbers of Tiger Shrimp caught in the Gulf has increased since Katrina, the theory being that a Tiger Shrimp farm was affected in the storm causing a large population to be released into the Gulf. Tiger shrimp are the most common shrimp raised in farms worldwide.
Here is another creature story that I had not heard of before: The hunt for Mokele-mbembe: Congo’s Loch Ness Monster
The search for Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster is world famous. Far less well-known is the hunt for a similar creature, Mokele-mbembe, which is reputed to live in the remote north of Congo-Brazzaville. But how strong is the evidence?
“I checked maps, and the data on the maps was white. It said, ‘insufficient data to delineate terrain’. Well that got me!” says Dr Roy Mackal, a retired biologist from the University of Chicago.
“It’s the end of the world. It gives you a feeling of a surviving prehistoric time.”
Sort of makes me think of the Lost World…
The Mokele-mbembe is reputed to be a large reptile-like creature, with a long neck, and long tail.
Despite being a herbivore, it is said to roar aggressively if approached by humans. Some say it has a single horn, which it uses to kill elephants.
Many a Western explorer over the years has been gripped by the tantalising possibility that they could discover a creature – a formidable one at that – that has remained, as yet, unknown to science.
To date, there have been more than 50 expeditions to the region, but no scientific evidence, unless you include the large claw-shaped footprint recorded by a French missionary in 1776.
The only photographic images have been so fuzzy, they prove nothing.
But there is no shortage of eyewitness reports.
“Certainly mythology surrounds it,” says Adam Davies, a British man who spends his spare time and money travelling the world in search of undocumented species, and has twice gone to Africa on the trail of the Mokele-mbembe.
“But when you put it to people, ‘Is this a real creature?’ they become quite affronted… and they consistently came out with physical descriptions.”
There have been other instances where creatures that seemed to be more fantasy than reality have turned out to exist.
The most often cited example is the okapi – a cloven-hoofed mammal with zebra-like stripes on its legs, which lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, just to the east of Congo-Brazzaville.
In the 19th Century, there was talk among Westerners in Africa of the existence of an “African unicorn” and the explorer Henry Morton Stanley – who had earlier tracked down the missing missionary, Dr David Livingstone – reported seeing a mysterious donkey-like animal on a journey through the Congo in the late 1880s.
It was only in 1901 that the okapi was properly documented and identified as a relative of the giraffe.
“I’d put Mokele-mbembe in the same category as the Loch Ness Monster,” says Bill Laurance, professor at James Cook University in Australia, a conservation biologist and an expert in tropical rainforests.
“My gut sense is that the likelihood of the creature actually existing today is small.
“However, one thing you learn early on in science is never say never. We are still discovering new species all the time.”
Well, these biologist only have one more year to break the mystery of the Mokele-mbembe. Yup, that brings us are back to the year 2012…
So I will end with this Mike Luckovich cartoon that gives us a peek at what the end of the world may bring…
A Gingrich election would definitely bring about the end of the world. Forget the brooms kid…and start stocking up on supplies.
It’s the end of the world as we know it…it’s the end of the world as we know it…it’s the end of the world as we know it…and I feel fine!
Minx here, and since the last few days have been a living hell, this Sunday Reads are going to have lots of links…but not too much commentary. After suffering through a migraine, the brain takes a bit to re-boot. It is frustrating to try to get your thoughts straight…so if the post is off, you know why!
For most of you it is a cold white morning, in fact this October Snow is the earliest to hit NYC since the Civil War. Snow storm hits many parts of north-eastern United States | Weather | guardian.co.uk
Huge swathes of the north-eastern United States have been hit by a rare October snow storm that struck across the region from Virginia all the way to Maine.
Dubbed “Snowtober” by news organisations covering the unusually early winter storm, the massive weather formation dumped up to 30cm (one foot) of snow in parts of the country that rarely see it this early in the year. Some estimates put the number of people affected by the unseasonal weather at around 60 million.
Moving from cold October snow to an update on Kenya’s fight in Somalia. Kenya to Stay in Somalia Until Safe From Al-Shabab Menace | Africa | English
Kenya’s Defense Ministry says it has not set a time frame for its operation against al-Shabab militants in Somalia, saying troops will leave the country when Kenyans feel secure. Kenyan officials emphasized that they are not at war with Somalia, but with al-Shabab.
Kenya’s military chief, General Julius Karangi, told reporters Saturday that Kenya’s military will continue its assault in Somalia until Kenyans feel safe from what he called “the al-Shabab menace.”
“This campaign is not time bound, we shall leave it to the people of this country to decide that yes, we feel safe enough on the common border and then we shall come back. So key factors or indicators would be in the form of a highly degraded al-Shabab capacity,” he said.
The military says it has killed hundreds of al-Shabab militants in 15 days of fighting, while only one Kenyan soldier has been killed in battle.
Meanwhile, as the US sends troops to Uganda…this little bit of news from Oklahoma was reported by Al Jazeera.
A federal court in the state of Oklahoma has dismissed a lawsuit against Rwandan President Paul Kagame, brought by the widows of two assassinated African presidents, ruling that he had immunity in the US.
District Judge Lee West ruled on Friday that as a head of state recognised by the US government, Kagame was immune from the wrongful death civil suit. The Obama administration had urged the court to recognise Kagame’s immunity.
Juvenal Habyarimana, then president of Rwanda, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, president of neighbouring Burundi, were killed in a rocket attack on their plane at Kigali airport in 1994.
The attack triggered the Rwandan genocide, in which Hutu armed groups and soldiers killed 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
The widows had sought $350m in damages, arguing that Kagame, leader of the Tutsi rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, had ordered the assassination of their Hutu husbands.
There is also some distressing news out of DR Congo: Congo’s militias mobilising again, leading peace activist warns | World news | The Observer
One of Congo’s leading peacemakers, Henri Ladyi – who has been called “Africa‘s Schindler” for his work rehabilitating child soldiers in the republic’s eastern region – said he feared years of hard work in demobilising militia members, especially child soldiers, was being undone. They were being pulled back into the bush to get ready for a fresh conflict, eight years after the formal end of Africa’s largest war, which killed 5 million people
He said chiefs of the Mai Mai – the name given to the vicious gangs who roamed eastern Congo, some politically motivated, others defending territory and stealing cattle – were preparing for clashes as they believed Congo’s president, Joseph Kabila, was cooperating with the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, to organise wide-scale election fraud. Government efforts to disarm the militias, whose numbers have dwindled in recent years, were undermined by the fact that no proper peace and reconciliation process was followed, said Ladyi.
“We should have learned from every other African country – Liberia, South Africa, Rwanda – who put in place a reconciliation process after conflict. We did not succeed in DRC, and these leaders who are in power also don’t admit what their role was, so people do not trust them.
“There is no forgiveness in communities: people live alongside each other, shop in the same market, but with hatred still. We will not have peace in DRC until we have reconciliation. I fear instead we will have more war.”
In Tunisia, Democracy is being to take hold, this next op/ed from Monica Marks, a doctoral student in Middle Eastern Studies at Oxford University, discusses the idea Can Islamism and Feminism Mix? – NYTimes.com
A small but increasingly vocal minority of secular Tunisians are predicting that an Islamist-dominated national assembly will reverse key pieces of civil rights legislation, including those recognizing the right to abortion and prohibiting polygamy.
Tunisia’s secular feminists, many of whom are urban admirers of French-style secularism, see Ennahda women as unwitting agents of their own domination. Although Ennahda openly supports Tunisia’s 1956 Code of Personal Status — arguably the most progressive piece of women’s rights legislation in the Arab world — its critics accuse the party as a whole of purveying a “double discourse,” adopting a soft, tolerant line when speaking to francophone secularists but preaching a rabidly conservative message when addressing its rural base.
Rather than developing strong platforms of their own, secular opposition parties like Ettajdid have focused their campaign efforts almost exclusively on fear mongering, raising the specter of an Iranian-style Islamist takeover and the imposition of Shariah, the legal code of Islam. Daniel Pipes and other Western commentators have joined the fray, urging Washington to stand against the “blight” of Ennahda and labeling Islamism “the civilized world’s greatest enemy.”
But as the article continues, there is a sense of hope for women in Tunisia.
In May, Tunisia passed an extremely progressive parity law, resembling France’s, which required all political parties to make women at least half of their candidates. As a long-repressed party, Ennahda enjoyed more credibility than other groups. It also had a greater number of female candidates to run than any other party, and strongly supported the parity law as a result.
According to Mounia Brahim and Farida Labidi, 2 of the 13 members of Ennahda’s Executive Council, the party welcomes strong, critical women in its ranks. “Look at us,” Ms. Brahim said. “We’re doctors, teachers, wives, mothers — sometimes our husbands agree with our politics, sometimes they don’t. But we’re here and we’re active.”
These women are not likely to oppose women’s rights legislation. Ennahda women are, first and foremost, Tunisians. They are well educated, and their brand of Islamism, like Tunisian society as a whole, is relaxed and comparatively progressive. Since the 1950s, Tunisian women have enjoyed greater legal protections than their counterparts in other Arab states.
In Russia, a huge renovation is complete…Joy and Nostalgia in Moscow as Bolshoi Theater Reopens – NYTimes.com
…if you wanted to understand the significance of the event, it was more useful to stand outside, where a few hundred people not lucky enough to get tickets were watching the gala on two large screens. It was a cold, miserable night, and the whole thing was covered live on television, but they stood there anyway, and when columns of ballerinas appeared to the adagio from “Swan Lake,” there were audible sighs of delight.
The reopening of the Bolshoi is freighted with political significance; the six-year restoration has turned the clock back to the late 19th century, replacing thousands of Soviet hammer-and-sickle signs with imperial double-headed eagles. More simply, though, it fills a vacuum in a country besotted by art.
Take a look at some of the images from behind the scenes in the magnificent Bolshoi. The Bolshoi Theater Reopens – Audio & Photos – NYTimes.com
Sticking with culture…and art, a new production on BBCRadio4 has inspired a new book…‘History of the World in 100 Objects,’ From British Museum – NYTimes.com
Trustees of the British Museum
Also from the Guardian, A Halloween reading list | Books | guardian.co.uk
However, being the très cool, alternative trendies that we are, let’s not settle for any old horror novel. Sure, American Psycho or The Shining will scare the bejeesus out of you, guaranteed. But that’s a bit too easy.
Instead, I’ve put together an alternative Halloween reading list in preparation for next Monday: novels that are eerie, horrifying or disturbing in unusual and different ways. (And please, no jokes about Jeffrey Archer or Cecelia Ahern being truly gruesome … mainly because I’ve just made one.)
From Minx’s Missing Link File: In the world of snakes and science…Python Digestion Study Holds Promise for Human Heart Health – NYTimes.com
Paul Zenk/PBS Nature “Invasion of the Giant Pythons”
A giant python swallows an alligator in Everglades National Park, Fla.
Pythons are known for their enormous appetites. In a single meal they can devour animals at least as big as they are — deer, alligators pigs and house pets, for example.
Equally remarkable is what happens inside the python as it digests its prey. Within a day, its heart and other organs can double in size. The metabolic rate and production of insulin and lipids soar.
Then, like an accordion, the python’s organs return to normal size in just a few days. Metabolism slows. Then the snake can fast for months, even a year, without losing muscle mass or showing any ill effects, ready to ambush new prey.
How this process happens so rapidly is a biological mystery with important implications for human health, particularly when it comes to heart failure. Now scientists at the University of Colorado here are reporting that they have partly solved it.
Give that link a read, it is fascinating.
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: Last night on TCM there was a movie called The Body Snatcher, about the days when doctors would buy bodies for dissection…and the special people who would provide these bodies…sometimes getting them from the graveyard was more difficult than killing them in an alley. So continuing the Halloween theme. Whodunnit? Grave-robbery in early medieval northern and western Europe – Medievalists.net
This thesis brings together all that is currently known of early medieval grave reopening in northern and western Europe. It investigates in detail an intensive outbreak of grave-robbery in 6th-7th century Kent. This is closely related to the same phenomenon in Merovingia: an example of the import of not only material goods but also a distinctive cultural practice. Limited numbers of similar robbing episodes, affecting a much smaller proportion of graves in each cemetery, are also identified elsewhere in Anglo-Saxon England. Although the phenomenon of grave-robbery is well-attested in Merovingia, this research is the first study at a regional level.
The aim is to advance the debate about early medieval robbery from general discussion of interpretative possibilities to evaluation of specific models and their compatibility with the archaeological evidence. The conclusions have significant implications for the interpretation of grave-robbery across early medieval Europe. In Kent robbing is at a level that must be considered in any discussion of cemetery evidence. The poor publication record has inhibited recognition and analysis of robbing in the county. However, by using extensive archive material, this thesis has shown that the practice of ransacking graves was on a similar scale in East Kent as in Merovingia.
This research identifies over 200 reopened graves across Kent, with at least 15 sites affected. At the most intensely robbed sites, an average of over 20% of burials were disturbed. Robbing is likely to have had a significant impact on artefact finds, especially from the late 6th century onwards. Grave-robbery opens a window onto the wider meanings and values of grave-good types within the early medieval period. The analysis in this thesis demonstrates that the main motive for reopening was the removal of grave goods. However, straightforward personal enrichment was not the goal. A deliberate, consistent selection of certain grave-good types were taken from burials, while other apparently covetable possessions were left behind. The desired grave-goods were removed even when in an unusable condition. It is argued that the selection of goods for removal was related to their symbolic roles in the initial burial rite. Their taking was intended to harm living descendants by damaging the prestige and strength of the dead. In addition to the robbed graves, there is a small number of graves spread across the sites which were reopened for bodily mutilation or rearrangement of skeletal parts. These closely resemble the better known deviant burial rites which were applied to certain corpses at the time of initial burial and are interpreted as a reaction to fear of revenants.
I want to end with this report of sexual assault on the MTV reality show, Real World…it is disturbing. You may remember some months ago, the Village Voice published an article about the contracts participants must sign to be on Real World. (link below) It absolved MTV of any responsibility if participants were sexually assaulted. Check this out…Was a “Real World” star raped by her castmates? – Reality TV – Salon.com
Tonya Cooley is a former “Real World Chicago” and “Real World/Road Rules Challenge” cast member. She’s been a Playboy “Cybergirl of the Week,” has worked with the Girls Gone Wild team, and done a little Cinemax softcore. And absolutely none of that means that she wasn’t raped.
I won’t go into the details, but it involves a toothbrush, a couple of guys, and a TV crew. Cooley was unaware of the event, she had drunk a lot of alcohol and passed out, no one alerted her to the video taped assault, however they did replace the toothbrush with a brand new one…
Of course, reality TV has a long and tawdry track record with the ladies. In 2003, a guest at the “Real World San Diego” house claimed she was drugged and raped during a party. Two years ago, the gruesome suicide of “Megan Wants a Millionaire’s” Ryan Alexander Jenkins, while facing charges for killing his ex-wife, served as a temporary reminder of the desperate laxity involved in screening potential reality show stars. We got another reminder in June, when “Cake Boss” co-star Remy Gonzalez pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 13 year-old girl. Then in August,”Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Taylor Armstrong’s estranged husband Russell committed suicide in the wake of a domestic violence scandal. Long before “Housewives,” Armstrong earned himself retraining orders from two separate prior relationships and pleaded guilty to battery.
This list of disgusting connections between reality shows and violence against women and girls is shocking, I had no idea there was so much disgusting things going on…I never watch these shows, they make me want to grab a bucket. Avoiding all the “stuff” in the entertainment industry is a good thing, it isn’t until researching Botox treatment for migraines that I came upon the latest from the Michael Jackson trial…this is unbelievable, the man got Botox injected in his armpits and groin so that he would not sweat…
Back to the Salon piece:
But without all the facts of the case, we know that Cooley is a loose cannon — and that reality TV depends upon bad behavior, and often encourages it. We know that MTV’s contracts have stipulated that if you get “non-consensual physical contact,” is a risk that comes with the territory — and the network is not responsible. We know that we still live in a world where the Huffington Post can blithely chalk up an alleged sexual assault as a “freak incident.” You know, like hail in the desert. And that on TVology.com, Terron Moore has decided the accused “did some things Tonya didn’t like… and well, she’s just now complaining about it.” You know, like anyone would if someone put an empty carton of milk back in the fridge. Of Cooley’s allegation that men were coached to feel up the females, he adds, “Who needs encouraging to touch privates, exactly? That’s the fun part!”
Clearly it’s time for a refresher course here. If you grope a person without consent, that is assault. If violate a human being, even one who is passed out drunk, you are raping that person. That is not a “freak incident” — and it sure as hell isn’t the fun part. Nobody should get a free pass to commit crime because he’s on a reality show, and nobody should sign away her right to safety from abuse to be on TV. Those who still don’t get it are the ones who need to get real.
What the hell…the PLUB religious right is not the only jackasses on an anti-woman campaign, they are getting the best kind of assistance by the media and entertainment industry…not to mention dumb assholes that feel it is “fun” to commit a violent act towards a woman. Where are we heading to…somebody tell me!
Good Evening Y’all!
Hey, I have some links for you tonight, to make up for the lame evening reads post earlier today.
The first link is something from last week, and I completely missed it. H/T to Taylor Marsh: President Obama learns perils of roiling Maxine Waters – Joseph Williams – POLITICO.com
Obama responded in a high-profile speech urging black lawmakers to “stop grumbling”and fight alongside him. Waters responded with five TV hits in one day, delivering a blunt message: “I don’t know who he was talking to.”
Administration officials called Waters’s office to complain, discounted her as a perennial malcontent, and reminded reporters that Obama’s speech, which laid out accomplishments like tax credits for working families and protections from predatory lenders, drew a standing ovation from the majority-black audience. At the same time, White House surrogate Rev. Al Sharpton, an MSNBC host, publicly took Waters to task for being too hard on Obama.
Yeah the Obama admin called Waters…but Obama has never personally talked to Waters. (Can you believe it?)
Her aides say Obama, however, has not personally reached out to the congresswoman since taking office. The president’s distaste for the flesh-pressing aspect of politics that Waters is used to, is well known.
“I don’t have a relationship with the White House,” Water said, quickly adding that the president is cordial to her when they meet at a ceremony or reception. Still, “I’ve never had a conversation with the president.”
WTF? That is ridiculous. It’s been almost a day since I saw this article and it still bothers me!
The article ends with an assumption that Waters will suck it up and do whatever she can to ensure Obama gets re-elected. I’m not so sure she will break her neck getting out there like some barker for a Obama 2nd term carousel. What do you all think?
Let’s get to some global news…In Libya, the new government is promising strict adherence to Islamic law. One of the current laws they are overturning from Gaddafi’s rule regards the ban on polygamy.
Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the chairman of the NTC…attempted to reassure the NTC’s Western backers that the country would be a “moderate” Muslim nation, amid concern over its plans to introduce Islamic law. He appeared to soften his position less than 24 hours after using the liberation ceremony to declare that Sharia law would be the basis of all legislation.
His attempt at conciliation hinted at the difficulty the NTC is having in balancing the demands of secularists and influential Islamist factions who played a strong role in the uprising.
France and the EU warned the NTC to respect human rights after Mr Jalil’s speech on Sunday in which he singled out a ban on polygamy as legislation which would have to be swept aside.
Yup, get rid of the ban on polygamy…way to move forward there. I guess the Arab Spring is not for all Arabs…particularly the female kind.
So far the Obama Administration is staying silent on the direction the NTC in Libya is heading…Let’s see if Hillary Clinton will make any statements about the future of Libyan women’s rights.
Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, has been rocked by two explosions in crowded downtown areas that have killed one person and wounded more than 20 others.
Officials say someone hurled a grenade Monday evening at a Nairobi bus stop. One person died and eight others were rushed to the hospital after the attack.
Earlier Monday, an unidentified assailant threw a grenade into a downtown Nairobi bar, wounding at least 13 people.
Police are investigating both attacks, which followed warnings from the Somali militant group al-Shabab that it would launch attacks inside Kenya.
You can read more at the All Africa website: allAfrica.com: Sustainable Africa: Women and Gender
The Occupy protest is causing Faux news to take it to another level…as if they could go any lower. Fox & Friends: Protesting Mom ‘More Disgusting Than Any of the Filth Down on Wall Street’ | Video Cafe
The Fox & Friends kids’ reaction to the Stacey Hessler story was the same sort of predictable nonsense you’d expect from people paid primarily to get outraged over the latest liberal/marxist attack on America. The weekend edition though just might be outdoing their weekday counterparts in hysteria.
According to them, Hessler is (a) an unfit mother of four young kids for leaving them behind in Florida as she lives on the street in Manhattan; (b) who probably wasn’t ‘putting out’ for her banker husband anyway (hmm…oh, nevermind); and is now (c) shacked up with some young waiter from Brooklyn.
Get a load of the load of B.S., just check out the link for the video, there is also a transcript of the banter between the weekend version of Fox & Friends.
Rachel Maddow has the picture below featured in one of her blog’s post…
This sign — and commentary — is hanging outside a food pantry in Manhattan’s East Village. Maybe it’s time we did something about the economy.
This week marks 10 years since the PATRIOT Act was signed into law…and now there is a new proposed change in the Freedom of Information Act. Rule Change Would Allow Government to Lie About Whether Records Exist
A proposed rule to the Freedom of Information Act would allow federal agencies to tell people requesting certain law-enforcement or national security documents that records don’t exist—even when they do.
Under current FOIA practice, the government may withhold information and issue what’s known as a Glomar denial that says it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of records.
No kidding…when we are in an age that is actually considering immunity for banks…what else do you expect.
On to immigration reform…Obama style.
Democratic sources tell CNN that it’s likely that Democrats on Capitol Hill –with the approval of the White House– will re-introduce some form of immigration reform, possibly as early as December. At this point, the details of any plan are unclear. But what is clear is that Democrats are interested in using their version of reform as a “contrast issue” to Republicans, who largely emphasize border security.
Sources say there are ongoing discussions among Democrats ranging from re-introducing comprehensive reform to bringing up the Dream Act again, which would allow the children of illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military to become citizens. The Dream Act was defeated last year.
Another possibility being considered is to combine a tough border security plan introduced by Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl with a form of the Dream Act. “Nothing has been decided,” says one Senate Democratic leadership aide. But, he adds, “there’s a lot of interest.”
Well, let’s see what comes of this new immigration reform, considering Obama’s administration has had a record number of deportations…three years in a row…I am sure it will be something to appease and insure Obama gets the Latino vote.
Obama has a way to go to get approval from Latino voters, check out the civil right statements being made in Alabama…Civil rights groups charge Obama with hypocrisy over Alabama immigration law
The Obama administration is facing charges of hypocrisy for fighting a controversial Alabama immigration law while using the measure to arrest and deport illegal immigrants in the state.
Civil rights and Latino advocacy groups laud the Justice Department’s (DOJ) lawsuit challenging Alabama over its newly enacted immigration law, which allows state law enforcement officials to require suspected criminals to show proof of their immigration status.
But the groups blasted the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) continued use in Alabama of the Secure Communities program, which transmits the immigration status records of people arrested in the state to federal authorities. The new state law subjects the Latino community to racial profiling and the Secure Communities program places illegal immigrants who are arrested in line to be deported by DHS, the groups said.
“You have two agencies that are pursuing courses that are inconsistent with each other,” said Joanne Lin, a legislative council for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in an interview.
When you read this post about the hypocrisy…of do as I say, not as I do…this next article about a speech Attorney General Holder gave at a memorial for civil rights advocate Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who passed away earlier this month, is kind of ironic…in a pathetic way. Holder: Alabama ignoring its past
Attorney General Eric Holder says too many in Alabama “are willing to turn their backs on our immigrant past.”
Referring to Alabama’s recently enacted immigration law, Holder told the audience gathered at Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church on Sunday that he “was not going to let that happen.”
And then you have the bat-shit crazy electrified fence idea from the GOP idiot de jour, Herman Cain…but what about the GOP stance on immigration as a whole:
If you’re a restrictionist (personally, I’d like to see more folks allowed to come here legally), the test to gauge whether Republicans are actually intent on substantially decreasing illegal immigration, or just pandering, should be their position on workplace enforcement. It’s common to hear them decry birthright citizenship and in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants as “magnets” that exacerbate unlawful border crossings. But jobs are the draw that ultimately matters. GOP candidates benefit from obscuring that reality, because they are determined to win the support of the business community, which is understandably averse to increased workplace enforcement. It would disrupt many industries, impose extra human resources costs on companies wary of breaking the law, and result in fines and other penalties for lawbreaking companies.
Thus the awful status quo wherein someone can rise to temporary front-runner status in a GOP primary joking about the death by electrocution of Mexicans, but wouldn’t dare to joke about arresting CEOs who deliberately hire illegal immigrants or prosecuting upper-middle-class homeowners who do the same. At GOP fundraisers, bad ideas like that are no laughing matter. Unlike restrictionists, I don’t think illegal immigrants who are employed and law-abiding are hurting America so much as contributing to it, so until they’re made citizens, which I’d like to see happen, I’d rather focus enforcement efforts on human smugglers, gang members, and other criminals. Another option would be to grant amnesty to any illegal immigrant who came forward to show that he’d been hired sans documents, fine his employer, and give him a green card. That would end the hiring of undocumented labor quickly, but is totally politically unrealistic.
I think Conor Friedersdorf makes some valid points. I agree with making legal immigration more accessible, and the unrealistic option about granting amnesty to immigrants that have been hired by American employers seems like a good idea to me.
Alright, I have a few cool links to end this post. The world’s population is supposed to hit 7 billion soon…
The Guardian has this cool thing at the link above, you type in the date you were born and poof, it gives you a bit of statistical info…check it out.
Over a MoJo there is an article about Bluegrass Music and Chinese Folk songs, which I thought went kind of well with Boston Boomers post last night. Abigail Washburn Brings Bluegrass to the Silk Road
And lastly to connect you with the real Silk Road…I found this cool group of pictures from a carnival round up on the blog She-Wolf: Welcome to the Medieval Carnival!
It’s my pleasure to host this month’s edition of Carnivalesque, showcasing the best in recent blogging on ancient and medieval history.
There are lots of cool links at She-Wolf’s carnival, but this last one is fantastic.
I thought this Flickr collection was worth a mention. Juliana Lees has been collecting images of pre-1200 Eastern textiles found in Western churches and cathedrals, with a particular interest in Silk Road influences.
Ancient textiles from the East have often been conserved in Western churches and cathedrals. They were sometimes used as shrouds and subsequently venerated as holy relics, the source of lucrative pilgrimages. They were also brought back from the East by crusaders and pilgrims, or given to established abbeys and cathedrals by great lords and princes. Some of these Sassanian, Byzantine, Egyptian and Moorish textiles are still in religious edifices, in their treasuries or episcopal museums. Others can be found in museums all over the world. There is no doubt that they have been of the greatest importance in disseminating the styles and cultural influences of the Silk Routes into Western Europe and many motifs familiar to us on Romanesque capitals and artefacts have their origin in the imported silks and especially the Sassanian images.
Well, that should be more than enough for you all to ponder.
I’ll leave you all with a song that has been in my head all day…have a great evening!
The 11th circuit court of appeals has come down with a decision on the Alabama immigration law. Federal appeals court blocks 2 more sections of immigration law, leaves rest intact | al.com
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed the parts of Alabama’s immigration law that require proof of lawful residency in the U.S. and track immigration information about newly enrolled students.
The court did not block provisions dealing with immigration status checks during traffic stops, contracts with illegal immigrants or government business transactions.
The court said the ruling does not bind the 11th Circuit panel that will hear the main arguments concerning the merits of the appeal.
The court did not discuss the sections it did not block.
Well, the entire thing should be struck down, but at least the public schools requirements for enrolling new students is gone.
Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, said he was pleased by the ruling, but remains puzzled by opposition to the law by the Department of Justice.
“Once again, we’re pleased that the majority and most effectual parts of this law will remain in place. We’ve said from the beginning that Alabama will have a strict immigration law and we will enforce it. Alabama will not be a sanctuary state for illegal aliens, and this ruling reinforces that.
“We also remain perplexed and disappointed at the Obama administration’s hypocrisy on this issue. It would be amusing if not so harmful to our country. While the federal government sues to prolong and exacerbate the illegal immigration problem, Alabama is taking action to ensure the laws of our land are upheld.”
Two days ago President Obama authorized the deployment to Uganda of approximately 100 combat-equipped U.S. forces to help regional forces “remove from the battlefield” – meaning capture or kill – Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and senior leaders of the LRA.
The forces will deploy beginning with a small group and grow over the next month to 100. They will ultimately go to Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with the permission of those countries.
The president made this announcement in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Friday afternoon, saying that “deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa.”
He said that “although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.”
Ugh, I think I will stay quiet on this until I hear from Clinton…
There is a rather long piece over at Politico by Julie Mason that discusses the speech Obama is planning to give this Sunday at the MLK monument. Barack Obama holds MLK Jr.’s dream in view, activists at distance
President Barack Obama has called Martin Luther King Jr. his North Star — a standard of “bold leadership and prophetic eloquence.” During the 2008 campaign, he said he would never have gotten as far were it not for the civil rights movement. “I stand on the shoulders of giants,” he said in a speech in Selma, Ala.
But when it comes to many of the aging leaders who marched with King, the relationship is more complicated. Obama, for the most part, has kept the civil rights movement’s old guard at arm’s length. They, in turn, are wary, their sense that the election of the first black president represented the ultimate success of the movement now tinged with disappointment that Obama has not more aggressively confronted issues of economic inequality.
Give it a read if you have the time. It pretty much gives excuses Obama from all the neglect and non-treatment of surging unemployment. People interviewed go easy on Obama…and do not hold him accountable. They also discuss supporting him for re-election. I look forward to BAR’s assessment of the article.
In poll news there is some results that seem to sound familiar to me over at Gallup: “Generic” Republican Continues to Lead Obama in 2012 Vote
Hmmm, even with the weak group of choices the GOP has put up for consideration…a generic GOP has higher poll numbers than Obama. With the exception of August, that makes a Joe or Jane Blow GOP president more attractive to your average registered voters. Personally I feel Obama is a generic GOP president…
We have had many discussions lately on the anti-women attitude that is running rampant in the state of Kansas. There appears to be some form of reprisals with one of Kansas’ most offensive PLUBs to hit the legal system. Justice Served: Kansas Panel Recommends DA Phil Kline’s License to Practice Be Suspended Indefinitely | RH Reality Check
Phill Kline’s license to practice law within the state of Kansas has been recommended for indefinite suspension by a Kansas disciplinary panel. They found Kline’s behavior to be “dishonest and selfish”. I call it downright despicable.
Speaking on behalf of Kansas pro-choice women, I say THANK YOU SWEET BABY JESUS! I have high hopes for the Kansas Supreme Court.
Phill Kline has been the large, annoying, festering thorn in the side of Kansas women since 2003, when he was elected as Kansas Attorney General. He made his political career cheered on and funded by, his anti-abortion cronies. Even today, he remains their hero. I’m not just referring to the far right wingy-wing nut fringes. I’m referring to politicians that are still in the statehouse today and jump at any opportunity to defend and in fact, exalt the praises of their “pro-life” poster boy.
More on this from Reuters: Kansas panel faults ex-AG Kline on abortion probes
A disciplinary panel on Thursday found “ethical misconduct” in the way a former attorney general of Kansas prosecuted abortion providers and it recommended his law license be suspended indefinitely.
Phill Kline, now a law professor at Liberty University in Virginia, was faulted in a 185-page report for his actions both as state attorney general from 2003 to 2007 and later as district attorney in Johnson County, Kansas.
The recommendation of the Kansas Board of Discipline for Attorneys that Kline be suspended now goes to the Kansas Supreme Court for a final decision.
Back to the RH Reality Check article for a moment:
While Kline laments the ruling, the women of Kansas rejoice! This chapter of the seemingly never-ending saga of Phil Kline will shortly be put to rest. Mr. Kline can stay put at his job teaching all of the far right wingy-wing nuts that inhabit the Liberty University School of Law, founded by Jerry Falwell where he teaches some version of higher learning hatred for women and hopefully, never grace the state of Kansas again. We have enough to deal with these days as it is without his black cloud adding to our anti-woman storm that already exists under Governor Brownback’s regime. Don’t let the door hit you in the kiester on the way out Mr. Kline, cause you won’t be able to seek damages in a Kansas court anytime soon.
I still think it is not enough, but it is encouraging to see some action to punish Kline…lets see if the Kansas Supreme Court gives the move a thumbs up.
Minx here today and I have some interesting stuff for you to look over. So let’s get down to it…
As I have mentioned before, I have no idea why Obama is so impressed and pushing for a national jobs training program based on the Georgia Works program. It is an awful answer to the unemployment situation we are in. I am sure that any “this jobs program sucks ass” warnings Obama is getting from his “advisers” is going to get the proper attention anyway. Georgia Jobs Program Draws Federal Attention – NYTimes.com
Desperate to find a way to get the nation’s long-term unemployed back to work, President Obama and Republican leaders are supporting the expansion of a novel jobs program in Georgia to any other state that wants it.
Whether the program can be replicated on a scale big enough to make a dent in the unemployment rate, though, is far from clear.
Since the recession began, the Georgia program has been held up as a national example, and a close look shows that it has pleased employers and produced steady paychecks for workers. But economists say there is little evidence that participants find work faster. And a lack of promotion, limited oversight and budget constraints have limited the program, Georgia Works, to a tiny portion of the state’s nearly half a million unemployed workers. Only about 120 people have been hired because of it this year.
That such a blip of success has been hailed as a central plank of the president’s jobs plan, and one of the few with consistent bipartisan support, shows just how few viable solutions have emerged for perhaps the nation’s most intractable problem — how to get 14 million unemployed people working again.
Believe me when I tell you, that Georgia not only has a f’d up justice system…this slave labor jobs program doesn’t work either.
Supporters of the effort say that hirings are not the only measure of success. The program keeps the unemployed tethered to a workplace environment. It can provide training — in fact, under federal labor laws that forbid unpaid labor, it is required to, although the state labor department’s own literature refers to it as a “free trial” for employers.
You got that? A free trial…
Unions and labor advocates like the National Employment Law Project have criticized the program as free labor for employers rather than training. The White House has tried to neutralize that complaint by ensuring that under its proposal, called Bridge to Work, the worker would receive the equivalent of minimum wage. States may apply for money to bolster unemployment benefits and to provide stipends for travel and child care, which would come out of a $4 billion federal fund meant to cover that and other re-employment programs in the jobs bill.
But Ross Eisenbrey, the vice president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute, faulted the program for not requiring any investment from employers. “It doesn’t take much to create a situation where employers’ expectations about what they have to pay really diminish and employee expectations about what their employers should give them just go into the toilet,” Mr. Eisenbrey said.
Obama says he will make sure that companies who repeatedly use the program and do not hire people will be barred from the show…personally, I think even with this slight change…the works program still sucks!
Timothy J. Bartik, the senior economist at the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, said that he saw no problem with trying out programs like Georgia Works, but that wage subsidies would have a greater impact, even if they were more expensive. “As far as I can see, there’s nothing in this that creates jobs,” he said. “It’s mainly reshuffling jobs among the folks that are unemployed.”
Yup, in other words this jobs program appears to be full action and really getting something done…but Georgia Works is nothing but a pile of broccoli on your plate, that you keep playing and moving around the dish with your fork…to make it look like you ate a lot more than you actually did. (But you can’t fool mama…can you?)
And if this is a single mama, I am sure she wouldn’t be able to afford that broccoli anyway….
Feel like it’s getting harder and harder to make ends meet these days, especially if you are raising a family? It’s not your imagination. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child have increased dramatically — 40 percent in just the last 10 years. Everything that is associated with trying to care for a family, be it child care, gas, food costs, medical insurance or even clothing has shown a large increase that by far has outpaced inflation, even as the recession has continued and wages have remained nearly stagnant.
The cost of raising a child for just one year is now nearly $14,000, compared to the just under $10,000 it cost back in the year 2000. And as that $4000 a year builds up over time, you are looking at a nearly $60,000 increase in spending just to get your child to age 18.
And we aren’t even talking about college.
It’s difficult enough to meet these expenses with two incomes, but for the 25 percent of children who live in single parent households, most of them women, it grows even harder. Single parent and especially women headed households have a much higher rate of poverty, primarily due to child care costs and lack of other resources that could financially support these families — resources that are being cut daily in the name of state and federal fiscal management. In fact, 40 percent of households headed by women are currently in poverty.
At least there is this news out of Idaho: Woman wins court order against 1972 Idaho abortion law – baltimoresun.com
An Idaho woman prosecuted for terminating her own pregnancy with abortion pills she ordered online won a temporary court order on Friday barring enforcement of the decades-old law under which she was charged.
It is only the beginning of this case, and there is a bit of a hiccup:
But the federal judge in the case also rebuffed her separate bid to block a newly enacted state law that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless there is proof the woman’s life is in danger.
On that issue U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled that Jennie Linn McCormack, 33, lacked legal standing to seek a temporary restraining order against Idaho’s new “fetal pain” abortion law because she was no longer pregnant and could not demonstrate imminent harm from the statute.
Her lawsuit is believed to be the first federal court case challenging any of several late-term abortion bans enacted in Idaho and five other states the past two years, based on controversial medical research suggesting a fetus feels pain starting at 20 weeks of gestation.
(Y’all remember that study that shows the fetal pain claim is bogus…)
Moving on, have you all seen this? Pope ‘deeply shaken’ in meeting with sex abuse victims in Germany – CNN.com
Pope Benedict XVI met Friday with a group of people who had been sexually abused by clergy in his native Germany, where disenchantment with the Roman Catholic Church has grown in the wake of the scandal.
The meeting, which occurred at a seminary in Erfurt, came on the second day of the pontiff’s four-day visit to his homeland. Besides talking with victims of sexual abuse committed by priests and church personnel, he also met with people “who care for those injured by these crimes,” according to a statement from the Vatican press office.
“Moved and deeply shaken by the sufferings of the victims, the Holy Father expressed his deep compassion and regret over all that was done to them and their families,” the statement added. “He assured the people present that those in positions of responsibility in the church are seriously concerned to deal with all crimes of abuse and are committed to effective measures for the protection of children.”
Words….words….words…. I find it difficult to believe that the Vatican is committed to protecting these children, I think they are more that committed to just transferring abusive priest that prosecuting them.
Here is a recent article from Mac McClelland that came out this past week: Putting the Pope on Trial | Mother Jones
Like most people who went to Catholic school, I have a long list of offenses I feel the church inflicted on me, which is probably partly why I sort of love the idea of an international police force arresting the pope. That’s what a group of victims’-rights advocates is hoping for; last week, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court against Pope Benedict XVI and three senior Vatican officials.
It sounds like a publicity stunt to charge the pope with crimes against humanity. But the lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights who are handling the case sure sound like they mean business: “The Vatican officials charged in this case are responsible for rape and other sexual violence and for the physical and psychological torture of victims around the world both through command responsibility and through direct cover-up of crimes. They should be brought to trial like any other officials guilty of crimes against humanity.”
There are two issues at hand in this matter, jurisdiction and responsibility.
First, jurisdiction. The court can only prosecute abuses that occur in a country that’s a signatory to the ICC—or abuses that are perpetrated by a national of one of those signatories. Afghanistan, for example, is a signatory to the ICC; the United States is not. But the ICC would have jurisdiction over a crime against humanity committed by, say, an American soldier on Afghan soil. Which is precisely why the United States tried to block the creation of the ICC in the first place. The Vatican is not an ICC signatory, but theoretically, that’s not a deal-breaker. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is an ICC signatory, and one of the cases cited in the Vatican filing took place there. Another case involves a priest from Belgium, which is also a signatory.
As for the responsibility, there is a bit more gray area here. There is no evidence that the Vatican ordered their priest to sexually abuse children. The ICC may not have the ability to go after those who neglect the abuse and do not try to stop it from happening, or those who cover the abuse up. Mac continues her article by writing:
My hunch is that it’s extremely unlikely this complaint, one of many thousands the ICC has received, is going anywhere. But it is an important step in raising the issue of accountability. Though the ICC is a long, long, long shot for these victims of sex abuse, it is probably more likely than the Vatican to hold the responsible parties accountable. Even priests who abused hundreds of disabled children weren’t punished by the church. And though headlines have been screaming about the priest-rape scandal since I was in grade school, it took the church years to clearly order its bishops to prioritize fighting sexual abuse in their dioceses. As in, it finally issued the directive this May.
She adds this update:
*Thanks to Wronging Rights‘ briliant and actually-trained-and-qualified-to-pontificate-on-legal-issues Kate Cronin-Furman for hollering with the correction. The charges in the case against Jean-Pierre Bemba—some of whose trial I caught in April—she wrote me, “are not that Bemba ordered his guys to commit atrocities in [the Central African Republic], but that he could have prevented them from doing so, and failed to. This is known as command or superior responsibility doctrine. It’s how you convict military commanders for actions taken by their subordinates that they should have prevented.” Not that that, and the fact that the pope is at the top of the church’s hierarchy, should necessarily give these rape victims hope that the ICC will act. It is a “neat idea,” Cronin-Furman says, but concurs that it’s “a stretch.”
Some of you may have noticed the Google sketch today celebrating the 75 birthday of Jim Henson. I grew up with Sesame Street and the muppets when they first hit the PBS airwaves. Some of the segments are ones that I remember so vividly, that even now when I see them, I can remember being a little girl sitting on the shag carpeted floor…watching Kermit interact with another little girl on the TV screen. My sentimental connection to that green frog warms my heart…
I will end with this…the ending of the Muppet Movie, enjoy and I will catch y’all later in the comments.