Well, it’s Monday again!
I thought I’d highlight two women’s attempts to get “justice” today. One woman didn’t really get her day in court. The other one has overstayed her time in court. For that matter, she’s overstayed her 15 seconds of infamy.
The reason that I would never vote for Joe Biden for President can be summed up by one woman’s name: Anita Hill. I will never ever forget his role that led to the seating of Uncle Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. Here’s a reminder for all of us.
It’s hard to know, but the reason Thomas is sitting silently on the Supreme Court – for 22 years and counting – can be traced back to Biden. If you’ve seen the new documentary, “Anita,” it jogs your memory clearly and cleanly regarding what went down. Of all the Senate Democrats, Biden failed most miserably. The close 52 to 48 vote might have broken differently if he had displayed grit under fire.
Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer, authors of “Strange Justice,” note Biden was pleased with his “highly unusual exposure rate” after it was all over. Sorry, but Biden is a bit too easily flattered and fooled.
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was a searing experience building to a crescendo over several days. As chairman, Biden virtually handed the gavel to Thomas at a critical point. He allowed three senators – Orrin Hatch, Alan Simpson and the late Arlen Spector – to viciously besmirch Anita Hill, a painstakingly proper law professor who came forward to testify that Thomas had sexually harassed her with lewd language and social invitations as her boss at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In the documentary, Hill emerges content with a new lease of life, with no regrets about telling her truth. As the documentary points out, it became a question of her character on trial, when Thomas was the subject of the hearing and often out of the room. When he came back, he furiously declared the hearing a “high tech lynching,” a statement that rocked the row of senators into silence. Of course, even if it was wrong, this hostility packed quite a punch.
The coup de grace was accompanied by Biden’s nervous assurances: “You have the benefit of the doubt, Judge.” There was no legal precedent for such a claim on truth or guilt in a Supreme Court hearing. But Biden kept saying that fateful phrase on national television. The late Sen. Robert C. Byrd challenged Biden publicly by saying the country should have the benefit of the doubt. Byrd was a lone voice in the wind, which was blowing Thomas’s way.
We owe some of the worst Supreme Court Decisions ever to the seating of this rubber stamp of right wing religious pomposity and anti-intellectualism. This brings me to another woman who is a wholesale tool of the same faction of right wing whackadoos.
It seems we will never be rid of Kim Davis whose exit from jail last week was one of the most appalling displays of a woman on some kind of high or with some serious emotional issue being enabled by men that should be held to account. People were fat shaming and slut slamming her, but has any one really looked at that drugged out look on her face recently? She looks like a woman possessed by many demons.
Her lawyers are filing yet another frivilous suit and she’s started work this morning announcing that no one has the right to do any thing with marriage licenses in her office because of her “conscience” which seems to pick and choose which sentences in her version of the new testament are worthy. It may be time for officials in Kentucky to ask for Rule 11 sanctions against her attorneys as well as throw Miss “I’m above the law” back in jail. She doesn’t seem to understand that it’s not her but her position that’s issuing the license. She’s an interchangeable cog that needs to be changed.
Her lawyers are actually challenging Scalia’s written opinion that it’s not her free speech here but the speech of her position and the government she serves. But then, she’s got lawyers that are on some kind of jihad and it’s evident that she’s along for the ride. It’s getting difficult to hear her ramblings and pronouncements. Rule 11 holds attornies responsible for frivolous lawsuits and it’s time to give it some serious thought.
Kentucky clerk Kim Davis returned to work this morning for the first time since being jailed for disobeying a judge’s order for denying marriage licenses to gay couples, saying she wants her name and title removed from the licenses currently being issued by her office.
Choking back tears at a news conference before her return to work, a defiant Davis said she is faced with a “seemingly impossible choice … my conscience or my freedom,” referring to her opposition to same-sex marriages.
“I’m no hero,” she added.
That last statement is the most truthful thing she’s said the entire time. Watching her these days is definitely like watching some one under the influence of a powerful drug or mental illness. If she really thinks that she’s doing any justice to her religion then she’s sorely mistaken. She’s also saying that her deputies have no authorization to issue “authorized” licenses and that they’re not really being authentically issued based on this latest friviolous lawsuits despite what Kentucky laws says. Again, it’s time to hold her lawyers accountable and get her off center stage.
Despite her assertion that her deputies don’t have her authority to issue marriage licenses, Rowan County Deputy Clerk Brian Mason issued a license this morning to the first same-sex couple to apply after Davis’ return to the office. Davis never left her office during the process.
Davis also told reporters this morning that she wants the licenses to indicate that they are being issued under federal authority.
She returned to work today nearly one week after being released from jail for failing to issue marriage licenses over her religious objection to same-sex marriage.
Davis filed an appeal Friday that asks for another delay in issuing the licenses. If the court does not respond before Davis returns to work, she will have to choose whether to allow her office to continue issuing licenses or again disobey the judge who already sent her to jail.
This is getting ridiculous. This is exacty what Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote about in her dissenting opinion in the Hobby Lobby Case. We’re beginning to see our courts stack up with the our country suffering fools gladly.
The exchange between the two Justices gets to the heart of the issue in Hobby Lobby. When do religious convictions allow individuals (or corporations) to excuse themselves from obligations that are binding on everyone else?
A sampling of court actions since Hobby Lobby suggests that Ginsburg has the better of the argument. She was right: the decision is opening the door for the religiously observant to claim privileges that are not available to anyone else.
What we have here is that the same people that once said that granting any civil rights to the GLBT community was basically setting up special privileges that are now clogging up the courts asking for special privileges. It’s also funny that one of the big causes Republicans is their jihad against trial lawyers and frivolous law suits, yet this is exactly the fruit of the frivioulous lawsuit poison tree.
It’s important to realize exactly what a state religion does to its minorities. I’m going to use a real case of Christians being treated radically different. This example is how Israel treats its Christian minority. The answer is very unfairly. The Pope has issued a complaint. Hopefully, some one else will notice this cause and do something about a real instance of injustice and realize that our rule of law is about extending existing rights to people.
Thousands of Arab schools in Israel went on strike on Monday, their 450,000 pupils remaining at home, as the Israeli government geared up for a major showdown with its large Palestinian minority.
The trigger for the strike is the Israeli government’s decision to starve 47 independent schools, set up originally by the international churches, of the state funding they have received for decades.
The schools, among the best in the country, have effectively been forced to shut indefinitely, their 33,000 pupils unsure when or even whether they will return to their classrooms.
On Sunday, thousands of families came from across Israel, from cities like Nazareth, Haifa, Jaffa, Ramle and occupied East Jerusalem, where the schools are located, to protest noisily outside the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The schools have run up huge debts since educational officials began cutting their budgets seven years ago, from 75 percent of the funding received by state schools to just 29 percent today. To open this academic year, they need about $50mn; the government is offering $5mn.
Talks over the past 18 months with the education ministry have gone nowhere. As Monday’s solidarity strike shows, Netanyahu’s government is taking on not only the church schools and the small Christian population of about 150,000, but all of the country’s 1.5 million Palestinian citizens, who make up a fifth of the population.
Israel is also risking a diplomatic confrontation with the Vatican and other international churches.
Last week Pope Francis raised the matter during a visit by Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, to the Holy See. Rivlin promised to find a solution, though the government itself shows no signs of budging.
Christian leaders in Israel have hinted that they may try to shut important holy sites, such as the Basilica of the Annunciation Church in Nazareth and the Mount of Beatitudes next to the Sea of Galilee, in retaliation. This, they hope, will bring the issue to the attention of pilgrims and tourists, adding to the pressure on Israel.
Education officials, however, are hoping they can limit support for the schools by advancing a seemingly reasonable argument: if the church schools want government money, they should join the state education system.
In truth, however, the move is not being advanced on economic grounds. There are far more sinister motives for the crackdown on the church schools, observers note.
Nadeem Nashif, director of Baladna, an organisation in Haifa promoting the rights of Palestinian youth, warns that the Netanyahu government’s main goal is to end the educational autonomy of these schools.
Organized, state-sponsored religions are dangerous. You can recognize the theocrats among us. Republicans in Congress are threatening to shut down Planned Parenthood once again. It’s been shown they’ve done nothing wrong but their outrage blindly continues as they fight to control women’s lives and health decisions and poor women’s access to health services.
Congressional Republicans say they are determined to shut Planned Parenthood down, regardless of whether it broke any laws.
In more than two months of investigations, members have yet to turn up evidence that Planned Parenthood acted illegally, the same conclusion reached by a half-dozen state investigations. The Department of Justice has so far declined to launch a formal probe.
Several Republicans acknowledged this week that they may never find proof of wrongdoing at Planned Parenthood — but said it doesn’t matter.
“I don’t know whether we’re ever going to be able to answer that question, whether it was illegal for them to do what they were doing,” Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) said during the House’s first hearing on the topic Wednesday. “I don’t know if it was illegal … but it was immoral, what was seen on that video.”
Republicans have long been fierce critics of Planned Parenthood, which is the nation’s largest provider of abortion services. Under the law, the organization is banned from using federal funding for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity.
Stirred by outrage over secretly recorded videos at Planned Parenthood, Republicans opposed to abortion rights say it’s time to end federal funding for the group once and for all.
“The issue is not whether there’s been a crime committed or not,” Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas.) told the same group at the hearing. “This issue is whether or not taxpayers should fund Planned Parenthood. That’s the issue before this committee.”
Three House committees and six states have investigated Planned Parenthood since it was first targeted by the undercover videos in July. The Energy and Commerce Committee has interviewed two Planned Parenthood officials as well as officials from three tissue procurement companies that have partnered with the organization: Stem Express, Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. and Novogenix Laboratories.
As our country become progressively less religious and less Christian, why do we continue to we have to continually pay to keep the hysterics of this minority on the front burner? It’s because they’ve totally co-opted one of the two major (sic) political parties who also has access to a lot of money that could care less about any thing other than getting more money. We’re seeing a political season of incredible meanness with less emphasis on actual policy and more on singling out people to blame and hate.
Jeb Bush just announced VooDoo Economics version 4.1 last week and it hid the media with a dull thud. The same sick, tired formula that has wrecked havoc all of the three times it was tried is back on the front burner with the establishment republican candidate and all we see is one woman with lawyers who file one frivolous lawsuit after another. Where’s the sense of priority here? We’re seeing some things on this from print media but where’s the TV time from all the midle class folks ousted into poverty for these kinds of wreckless policy prescriptions? Jared Bernsteins highlights the arguments we find in the print media.
John Cassidy of the New Yorker points out that neither of the Bush boys listened closely enough to their dad: “[Won’t Jeb’s] plan inflate the deficit…? Not in the make-believe world of “voodoo economics” — the term that Jeb’s father, George H. W. Bush, used in criticizing Ronald Reagan’s tax-cutting plans during their G.O.P. primary tussle, in 1980.” By sprinkling supply-side fairy dust, along with, to be fair, some of the minor offsets I noted in my earlier piece, “these policies will unleash increased investment, higher wages and sustained four per cent economic growth, while reducing the deficit,” according to the candidate. But as Cassidy reminds us: “Anyone whose memory extends back to the seventies and eighties will find this language depressingly familiar. The original iteration of voodoo economics didn’t merely involve cutting taxes and directing the bulk of the gains to the ultra-wealthy…The ‘voodoo’ accusation arose from the claim that, because the policies would encourage people to work harder and businesses to invest more, a lot more taxable income would be produced, and the reductions in tax rates wouldn’t lead to a commensurate reduction in the amount of tax revenues that the government collected.”For the record…didn’t happen.
Here comes the sneaky sound of the same old same old. Every one is trapped in culture wars trying to figure out why a few shrill religious extremists can’t just go mind their own damned business while the plutocrats sneak in with a plan to rob us all blind. Wake the fuck up people!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
I’m not seeing any particular theme in today’s news, but there is quite a bit of good stuff to read; so I’ll just toss out a few items that interested me.
Poor Benjamin Netanyahu. It seems all his efforts to use the Republican Congress to squash President Obama’s negotiations is one big giant fail. He managed to get reelected with the help of John Boehner et al., but that’s about it. First Obama said that Iran recognizing Israel wouldn’t be part of any deal, and then yesterday the White House mocked Bibi on Twitter.
The Washington Post: Why Obama says Iran does not have to recognize Israel as part of a nuclear deal.
President Obama, who doesn’t get along with Netanyahu, seemed to dismiss the Israeli premier’s latest demand in an interview this week. When asked by NPR’s Steve Inskeep whether Iranian recognition of the state of Israel would be included in any final deal, Obama deemed such a move a “fundamental misjudgment.” Here’s an excerpt of his remarks:
Well, let me say this — it’s not that the idea of Iran recognizing Israel is unreasonable. It’s completely reasonable and that’s U.S. policy….
There’s still going to be a whole host of differences between us and Iran, and one of the most profound ones is the vile, anti-Semitic statements that have often come out of the highest levels of the Iranian regime. But the notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons, in a verifiable deal, on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms. And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.
The point here is one that diplomats would take for granted. When attempting to make a deal with your interlocutor, particularly one where there’s a considerable history of grievance and animosity, you can’t expect to win a total capitulation.
Duh. Poor Bibi, like today’s Republicans doesn’t comprehend the notion of compromise.
David Knowles at Bloomberg Politics on the Twitter gag: White House Trolls Netanyahu on Iran with Bomb Graphic.
The White House has employed a graphic first used by Benjamin Netanyahu to push its case for a nuclear deal with Iran that the Israeli Prime Minister opposes. On Wednesday, the president’s office posted a tweet that borrowed the graphic representation of a bomb that Netanyahu had held up during a speech to the United Nation’s General Assembly in which he warned of Iran’s growing nuclear capability.
The fuse on the original image was intact, and there was no sign of the metaphorical scissors or accompanying text that the White House saw fit to add.
And how about this op-ed from the Jerusalem Post: How Netanyahu is single-handedly hurting the US-Israel relationship.
Benjamin Netanyahu is singlehandedly hurting a relationship that has resulted in over $100 billion in military aid to Israel since 1962. The Prime Minister is hurting a relationship with a country that constantly defends Israel at the UN; resulting in over 30 U.S. vetoes of resolutions critical to Israel. Because of Netanyahu, some are wondering if the U.S. should continually give $3.1 billion in annual aid and professors like Harvard’s Steven Strauss have written about ending this perpetual assistance. Sadly, the Prime Minister’s supporters in Israel and abroad don’t seem moved by the magnitude of what could be lost if Netanyahu’s feud with Obama “gets even worse.” [….]
even those whose job it was to protect Israel from the threats trumpeted by Netanyahu feel that the Prime Minister has overstepped the boundaries of rationality.
According to The Jerusalem Post recently, “Former Mossad chief slams Netanyahu for insistence that Iran recognize Israel’s right to exist.” Efraim Halevy also predicted a“dramatic” improvement in Israeli relations with the U.S. if Netanyahu were to be defeated in the latest elections. Another former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, called Netanyahu’s speech to Congress “bull—t” and views the Prime Minister’s policies as dangerous to Israel’s future. A third former Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo, stated that a nuclear Iran did notpost an existential threat to Israel; a viewpoint directly at odds with the hysteria (fueled by Netanyahu’s political ideology) surrounding Obama’s nuclear deal.
When three former Mossad chiefs are forced to speak out, an Israeli Prime Minister should tone down his paranoid rhetoric, not increase the tempo of his political exploits. Say what you will about Bibi’s critics, but former Mossad chiefs aren’t “leftist” and they know quite a bit about Israeli security threats. Their sober assessment of Netanyahu’s P. T. Barnum inspired diplomacy (regarding Israel’s U.S. relationship) is just cause to reassess the Prime Minister’s behavior; not champion his constant criticism of Obama’s nuclear deal.
The Economist writes that “RARELY have relations between an American president and an Israeli prime minister sunk so low.” The New Yorker published an article titled A Bad Day In American-Israeli Relations. Senator Dianne Feinstein recently stated she wished that Netanyahu “would contain himself” and I echoed the California Senator’s sentiment in a recent Congress Blog piece. Tzipi Livni has warned that Netanyahu is leading Israel into “crisis and diplomatic isolation.” Like Livni, Yair Lapid has lamented over the state of relations between the White House and Israel, stating, “This damage will take a long time to mend.” Everyone from former Mossad chiefs, U.S. Senators, Israeli politicians, and journalist have expressed dismay about the decline in a relationship that is essential to Israel’s future.
From The Washington Post, here’s more interesting news from the White House: White House condemns therapy to ‘cure’ gay youth.
The statement was issued in response to a White House petition signed by more than 120,000 people after the suicide of 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen from Ohio whose suicide note condemning the society’s treatment of transgender people went viral after her death. In the note, she indicated she had been subjected to such therapies.
“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights,” Alcorn wrote in her note.
The White House statement, issued by President Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, condemned “conversion” therapy, also known as “reparative” therapy, which she defined as any treatment aimed at changing a person’s sexual identity.
“The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm,” she wrote. “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”
Shortly before releasing the White House response to the petition on conversion therapy, according to a White House official, Jarrett spoke with organizers of the petition. “She listened to their personal stories about why this was important to them and thanked them for their efforts,” said the official, who asked for anonymity in order to describe a private conversation.
And from The Advocate: The White House’s Executive Office Now Has Gender-Neutral Bathroom.
An all-gender restroom is for the first time available in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, confirms a White House spokesman. Alternatively, guests are invited to use whichever bathroom fits with their gender identity.
“The White House allows staff and guests to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity,” said White House spokesman Jeff Tiller, “which is in keeping with the administration’s existing legal guidance on this issue and consistent with what is required by the executive order that took effect today for federal contractors.”
Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, had mentioned the policy change in an op-ed today for The Advocate, saying the adminstration had “closely examined” its policies on “restroom access” to help “ensure that everyone who enters this building feels safe and fully respected.”
Gender neutral bathrooms, if single-stall, also often offer a safe space to differently abled users, parents with their children, and anyone else seeking privacy.
The push for gender-neutral restrooms in public buildings and workplaces has been one cause taken up by transgender rights activists — and one that’s found the most visible sucecss on university campuses — making Jarrett’s anouncement feel to many like a win for trans Americans.
“It is heartening to see that, even if legislators in some states are attacking the dignity and humanity of transgender and gender-nonconforming people, at least the White House is still moving in the direction of dignity and common sense,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told The Advocate.
Within the past several years, the Obama administration has been increasingly affirming of trans citizens, with Vice President Joe Biden referring in 2012 to transgender discrimination as the “civil rights issue of our time” and President Obama using the word “transgender” (in addition to “lesbian” and “bisexual”) in this year’s State of the Union Address for the first time ever for any president. Federal employees have had the right to use the bathroom that accords with their gender identiy since 2011.
Around the country, heads of Republican homophobes must be exploding. Read the whole article for more on LGBT-positive actions the Obama administration has taken.
Some not so good news: the Secret Service’s credibility continues to slide downhill rapidly.
The D.C. police’s sex-crimes unit and a government inspector general are investigating the female agent’s allegation that Xavier Morales, a manager in the security clearance division, made unwanted sexual advances and grabbed her on the night of March 31 after they returned to the office from a party at a downtown restaurant, according to two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the probe.
The woman told police and agency investigators that Morales, her boss, told her during the party at Capitol City Brewing Company that he was in love with her and would like to have sex with her, according to two people briefed on her statements. In the office later, she alleged, Morales tried to kiss her and grabbed her arms when she resisted, according to the two people briefed on her complaint. The woman alleged that the two scuffled until Morales relented.
Through an agency spokesman, Morales declined to comment, and he did not respond to requests for comment left on his personal phone.
Late last week, the Secret Service took the unusual step of placing Morales on indefinite administrative leave and adding his name to an internal “do not admit” list prohibiting entry to the office, a Secret Service official said. The Secret Service also took away his gun and badge after agency investigators launched a preliminary review of the complaint and conducted “subsequent corroborative interviews” Thursday afternoon, said agency spokesman Brian Leary.
More details at Heavy.com: Xavier Morales: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.
Ugh. Maybe we need more female Secret Service agents to quell the “boys will be boys” atmosphere in the agency.
More trouble may be coming for NJ governor and possible GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie.
NJ.com reports: Indictments may come very soon in Bridgegate, report says.
Indictments may be coming very soon in Bridgegate, the investigation into improper lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in late 2013 that has also led to questions about bribery and conflicts of interest possibly involving Gov. Christie and the Port Authority, sources told The New York Times.
New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman launched the probe a few months after three lanes were closed to the bridge in September 2013, causing gridlock in Fort Lee. The closures were initially attributed to a traffic study by a Port Authority executive, Bill Baroni, but emails unearthed during an investigation revealed that the lanes were shut down on the orders of a Christie aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, to a Port Authority official appointed by Christie, David Wildstein. Some believe the lane closures were retribution for the failure of Fort Lee’s mayor, Mark Sokolich, to endorse Christie’s bid for re-election at a time when the governor and likely Republican presidential candidate was trying to build bipartisan support.
The Times previously reported that Fishman’s office may bring indictments to the operators of the bridge under a little-used statute that makes it a crime to use the bridge for something other than its intended purpose. Fishman’s office declined to say what course the investigation is taking.
This could be very interesting.
I have more news links, but I’m running out of space and time. I’ll add them to the comments.
What stories are you following? I’d love to read your comments on this post and click on your links to your recommended reads for today.
And…the news of the world…Loch Ness Monster shows herself to tourist…is “captured on film.”
(Hey, after days of Hillary Hate, I will take a story about the shy lost creature of the deep any day.)
A mother and daughter visiting Scotland for the first time believe they may have caught a glimpse of the elusive Loch Ness monster.
Consuela Ross and her daughter Reyshell Avellanoza were visiting from the Philippines when they visited the scenic body of water.
They were enjoying the view when something appeared to raise itself out of the water in front of them.
The object sank out of sight…
… leaving a “whirlpool” behind itRoss told the Scottish Daily Record they were taking pictures when someone pointed out a disturbance on the lake.
She said: “She said it looked like a big black belly. We looked and could see this big disturbance quite a way out and this big black object in the middle of it.
I was a little disappointed when I saw the pictures. I thought for sure that with a head line like: “captured on film” the beastie would have showed a lot more skin, scale, or whatever it is covered in.
Reyshell Avellanoza and her daughter were visiting Scotland last week from the Philippines, touring Loch Ness while they were in the country, according to the Aberdeen Press and Journal. While on the shores of the loch, they claim to have observed a large object rising from the waves, which they are convinced was the Loch Ness Monster. Unfortunately, they were so transfixed by what they were observing that they neglected to photograph it in time, instead capturing the monster’s wake after it dove once again.
Video at that link, you can see just how big the whirlpool gets after the thing goes under.
However, Nessie was not the only thing at Lock Ness making a big show…check this out: Stunning image shows meteor streaking across sky above Loch Ness | Fox News
It’s an incredible image – the bright tail of a meteor streaking across the clear night sky above Scotland’s Loch Ness. The image, which has been trending online, was an “absolute fluke,” according to John Alasdair Macdonald, a tour guide based in the Scottish Highlands, who captured the rare shot.
Macdonald told the Independent that he headed outside Monday night with his Sony RX100 compact camera to take shots of what he described as a beautiful evening. While walking, he noticed the meteor shooting across the sky.
“As my wife said, it was just sheer dumb luck,” he said. “It was a complete fluke, an absolute fluke.”
Could it be a sign that the alien apocalypse is shortly upon us?
I mean, the being’s from another world certainly would not be coming to earth looking for intelligent life, right?
More than four decades after an accident at a sawmill sent a piece of wood into Cecil Clayton’s skull, costing him a portion of his brain, the state of Missouri executed him Tuesday night for shooting and killing a police officer.
Clayton, 74, had petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to delay his lethal injection. His attorneys argued that because of the sawmill accident, he had an intellectual disability and therefore cannot be put to death. However, the Supreme Court denied his stay requests on Tuesday evening, rejecting all of his petitions for the justices to intervene and prevent his execution.
Clayton was sentenced to death for shooting and killing Christopher Castetter, a sheriff’s deputy in Purdy, Mo., in 1996. Attorneys for Clayton are not arguing that he is innocent, but instead point to his brain injury in asking the justices to act.
Clayton’s attorneys outlined the crime that resulted in his death sentence. They wrote that the police were called about Clayton trespassing around the home of his girlfriend’s mother. When Castetter was dispatched, they say, Clayton shot him and later said that Castetter “probably should have just stayed home” and “shouldn’t have smarted off to me.” But they note that Clayton also said he “wasn’t out there,” before going on to outline issues involving his intelligence and memory.
This argument has its origins in an accident that occurred in 1972. Clayton, who was a logger and sawmill operator, was working at his sawmill when a piece of wood broke off and stabbed into his skull. He was taken to a hospital, where he stayed for nine days, and he ultimately lost 7.7 percent of his brain and 20 percent of his frontal lobe, according to his attorneys.
As his attorneys describe it, Clayton “changed drastically and immediately” after the injury. Before the injury, they write that he was a married father who stopped drinking, became a preacher and traveled the country with his family, singing gospel and playing his guitar; afterward, he began drinking again, became depressed and violent, suffered memory loss and experienced hallucinations.
Penn State is in the news and it is because of some possible sex abuse, but it does not involve little boys this time. It does involve a fraternity and some secret Facebook pictures: Penn State Fraternity’s Secret Facebook Photos May Lead to Criminal Charges – NYTimes.com
Within the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity at Pennsylvania State University, the Facebook page and its photographs — of drugs, hazing and nude, unconscious women — were supposed to be among its brotherhood’s secrets.
But the clandestine website, known as 2.0 after a previous manifestation was discovered and shut down, has, since mid-January, been the subject of a police inquiry that this month led to the suspension of the fraternity’s Penn State chapter and could result in criminal charges.
“The evidence offered by the Facebook postings is appalling, offensive and inconsistent with the university community’s values and expectations,” Damon Sims, Penn State’s vice president for student affairs, said Tuesday in a statement. “We are confident that the various investigative and review processes, both internal and external to the university, will determine responsibility in this case. The university will hold accountable any groups and individuals found responsible.”
This is disgusting.
The Police Department here learned about the website in January when a former member of the fraternity walked into a police station and asked to meet with the authorities about what he thought might be criminal conduct. The man, who has since been declared a “cooperating informant,” eventually showed investigators printed copies of some of the photographs that appeared online.
“Some of the postings were of nude females that appeared to be passed out and nude or in other sexual or embarrassing positions,” a detective wrote in an affidavit included with a January search warrant application. “It appears from the photos provided that the individuals in the photos are not aware that the photos had been taken.”
Last night Boston Boomer linked to a news alert: White House is mailed package with cyanide – CNN.com
The White House received an envelope this week containing a substance that testing revealed to be cyanide, the Secret Service confirmed Tuesday.
“On Monday 3/16/15, an envelope was received at the White House Mail Screening Facility. Initial Biological testing was negative; however, on 03/17/15, the chemical testing returned a presumptive positive for cyanide,” said Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary in a statement. “The sample was transported to another facility to confirm the results.”
The envelope was initially reported by the Intercept, which received an internal law enforcement document that alerted staff to the incident.
“An envelope containing an unknown milky substance, in a container wrapped in a plastic bag, received at the White House Mail Screening Facility, tested positive for cyanide,” the alert read.
According to the Intercept, the alert identified the man listed as the return address on the envelope as having a long history with the Secret Service, dating back to 1995. That history includes an incident in which the man sent a package covered in urine and feces.
Nice. So does this mean the possible suspect doesn’t like the Clintons either?
How many of you think the address led to this guy’s house:
Surely, you think I say that in jest?
I mean, they are traitors in my opinion…at least those 47.
Hey, the GOP is willing to get further along in the covert area of special ops:
In other gut wrenching news: Racist dad doesn’t allow daughter at black girl’s birthday – NY Daily News
You just can’t make this shit up:
A 10-year-old girl was trying to have a birthday party and a race relations discussion broke out.
African-American child Harmony Jones invited a friend to her party on Friday night in Memphis, Tenn., but the young girl got a stunning magic marker note in return: her friend’s dad wouldn’t let her attend due to the birthday girl’s race, WREG-TV reported.
The unidentified child wrote in blue, green and pink, “Maby [SIC] I will not be able to come to your birthday sleepover, because my dad will not let me go because you are black.”
The girl added, “Not trying to be races [SIC], but my mom let me go. Happy birthday!”
Despite the shocking illustration of one parent’s prejudice, the episode shouldn’t be viewed as either a reflection on the children’s school, Highland Oaks Elementary School, or the community that’s changed around it in the Hickory Hill area, Highland Oaks PTA president Barbara Davis told the Daily News.
“We have a lot wider variety of populations at the school, but, in saying that, we’ve been a very close group,” said Davis, who has three children attending the school and denounced the letter as a regrettable isolated incident. “I’m calling them ignorant, but it’s their choice to feel that way, right or wrong.”
Davis declined to state the racial breakdown of the elementary school, noting that the birthday party was not a school-sanctioned event. But she acknowledged that the area had changed in recent years, a story told vividly by census data for the zip code occupied by the school.
How the hell do these assholes sleep with themselves.
I don’t know, it makes me think that we are all chasing windmills…
Cervantes, who died in 1616, is known as the father of the modern novel. He wrote Don Quixote, a tale of an errant knight and his loyal sidekick, Sancho Panza. Originally written in Spanish, this two volume epic has been translated into more than 60 languages.
Now it seems that his remains, along with those of his wife and several others, were found by a team of researchers in the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid. Cervantes had asked to be buried in the convent after the order of nuns helped free him when he was captured by pirates in 1575, but the exact location was forgotten when the convent was rebuilt in the 17th century.
“He’s there,” historian Fernando de Prado told the Guardian, referencing fragmented bones found in the floor of the crypt. “We know that some of these bones belong to Cervantes.”
Take a look at the link to learn more about the legend of Cervantes grave…they are hoping to have the crypt open to the public in time for the 400 year anniversary of Cervantes death which comes around next year.
I will end with this clip from the film The Milagro Beanfield War.
The Coyote Angel says, “Don Amarante de Cordoba, I see windmills…on your horizon.”
See what I mean…Windmills indeed.
More links to come in the comments below.
Morning, Afternoon, Evening…ugh.
(That this post is getting published, finally, is something in itself. I don’t know why, lack of motivation or enthusiasm…)
The images for today are hands used in political posters. I’ve gotten them from board on Pinterest: Affiche/Main – Poster/Hand on Pinterest | 1352 Pins
For a discussion on the use and symbolism of the fist in propaganda, take a look at this article from Lincoln Cushing:
A persistent symbol of resistance and unity, the clenched fist (or raised fist) is part of the broader genre of “hand” symbols that include the peace “V,” the forward-thrust-fist, and the clasped hands. The clenched fist usually appears in full frontal display showing all fingers and is occasionally integrated with other images such as a peace symbol or tool.
The human hand has been used in art from the very beginnings, starting with stunning examples in Neolithic cave paintings. Early examples of the fist in graphic art can be found at least as far back as 1917 , with another example from Mexico in 1948 . Fist images, in some form, were used in numerous political graphic genres, including the French and Soviet revolutions, the United States Communist Party, and the Black Panther Party for Self-defense. However, these all followed an iconographic convention. The fist was always part of something – holding a tool or other symbol, part of an arm or human figure, or shown in action (smashing, etc.).
Then there are a few other articles to look at here:
The fist of protest has its roots in the deep traditions of revolutionary imagery of 1848 and French Romantic painting. It became a staple of banners and logos of unions and political parties. Raised out of the crowd, the fist clenched in strength, anger and determination could serve groups of almost any ideological stripe.
If some of you have access to JSTOR: JSTOR: Journal of Design History, Vol. 13, No. 4 (2000), pp. 319-339
This article focuses on the use of graphic signs in the political struggle between the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and the German Communist Party during the 1920s. It first examines the Nazi swastika’s relationships to a new ‘abstract and primitive’ style of trademark design that emerged in Germany during the First World War and to a discussion during 1919-20 about the Weimar Republic’s new emblem.
As the NSDAP’s sign grew more prominent in public discourse, John Heartfield, who was trained as a graphic designer, sought to counter it through satire and emblems that he designed for the KPD. The most powerful of the latter were a series of images in 1928 based on photographs of workers’ hands, which drew both on past emblems of worker solidarity and recent Surrealist photography. The clenched fist soon stood opposite the swastika as signs of the violent political struggle between left and right that marked the last years of the Weimar Republic. The article explores how practices of commercial graphic design became instruments of mass politics during the 1920s.
To see more posters:
I’ll connect the hand gestures to a situation that is getting heated in Egypt today.
Astute observers of recent pro-Morsi protests in Egypt will note a new symbol cropping up in photos of the protesting crowds: Demonstrators are now holding four fingers in the air. Many carry yellow posters emblazoned with the same gesture.
This new hand sign refers to the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, the site of a violent confrontation between Morsi’s followers and the Egyptian army. Reported deaths from the clash range from hundreds to thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters. In Arabic, “Rabba” means “four” or “the fourth;” hence the new Rabaa symbol.
The new hand sign is important because it signals both a conscious shift in the Muslim Brotherhood’s focus from a global audience to an Arabic one and a rejection of the ideals of the Arab Spring.
The Rabaa replaced a more recognizable sign in the Arab world: the two-fingered “V for Victory” salute, a gesture that transcends language and nationality. Many Americans know of the V as the peace sign after its widespread use by the anti-war and counterculture movements of the late 1960s and 1970s. Invented by the BBC in World War II as a pan-Allied propaganda campaign — think a cigar-smoking, pinstripe-wearing Winston Churchill flashing the V and a grin — the sign came to the Arab world when Yasser Arafat popularized it in 1969. To this day, Palestinians have exhibited a two-fingered V upon their release from Israeli jails, and the sign is well represented at rallies in Gaza.
Now to the links for this Sunday:
A mess in Egypt as the anniversary of the revolution comes around:
On the eve of the 4th anniversary of the Egypt’s 2011 uprising, which was part of the Arab Spring, and which ultimately forced the overthrow of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak, a female protester and reported journalist was shot by police near Tahir Square in Cairo.
Shaima Sabbagh was shot with birdshot as she was marching in remembrance of the Arab Spring and of the people killed during the revolution. She was shot at close range. Several people caught images of al-Sabbagh both before and after the shooting. Beware, they’re heartbreaking. After Shaima was shot – her husband was arrested and their four-year-old son is without parents.
The AP is reporting 15 killed:
However that number has risen according to Al-Jam:
Thousands of Egyptian protesters chanted “down with the military and the regime” and “Interior Ministry are thugs” at a funeral on Sunday for a young mother and activist who was shot dead by security forces during a peaceful protest marking the fourth anniversary of Egypt’s Arab Spring revolution, according to local media reports.
Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, 32, was one of at least 20 people killed during protests over the weekend across Egypt, mainly in Cairo and Alexandria, commemorating the Jan. 25, 2011 ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak from office, according to the Ministry of Health.
The funeral took place in Alexandria, Sabbagh’s hometown, where activists remembered the slain protester as an advocate for labor rights and children, independent daily Al-Shorouk reported.
Sabbagh was among dozens of protesters marching on Saturday to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the revolution, to place wreaths of flowers there to commemorate more than 800 people killed during the 18 days of turmoil that sought to usher in a new era of democracy in Egypt.
Some disturbing images at those links.
This next link about the reaction to Boehner’s outright “fuck you” to the President and protocol: Addicting Info – Fox News Actually Expresses Shock And Outrage Over Boehner And Netanyahu Undermining President Obama (VIDEO)
On Friday, the world watched in disbelief as Fox News actually defended the honor and office of President Obama in the wake of Speaker Boehner violating US protocol by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak to Congress. In other news, pigs are flying.
During a segment on Fox, host Shepard Smith discussed the scandal with fellow host Chris Wallace, and both men were absolutely shocked and outraged by the actions of the top Republican in the House of Representatives.
On Wednesday, Boehner announced that he invited Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress. The problem is that Boehner did this without clearing the invitation with the White House, which is protocol.
“The protocol would suggest that the leader of one country would contact the leader of another country when he’s traveling there. This particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol,” said press secretary Josh Earnest.
Furthermore, Netanyahu is specifically going to speak to Congress in an effort to trash Obama’s foreign policy in a deliberate attempt to wreck US nuclear negotiations with Iran, negotiations which a majority of Americans support.
You see, President Obama wants to use diplomacy to ease tensions between Iran, Israel, and the United States. That means securing an agreement that prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapon while allowing them to use nuclear power as another source of energy in the Middle Eastern nation. But Republicans are literally trying to sabotage these efforts by seeking more harsh sanctions against Iran, which would be seen an act of American aggression at a time when the State Department and White House are seeking mutual peace.
Well, I would not go so far as to call this completely shocking, as it was Shep who called Boehner out. Y’all know he is the Black Sheep of the network.
For more on Israel, not just the Boehner invite.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended on Sunday a planned speech to the U.S. Congress about Iran, saying he had a moral obligation to speak out on an issue that poses a mortal threat to Israel.
His visit to Washington in March has opened up a rift with the White House and has drawn accusations in Israel that Netanyahu is undermining the country’s core foreign alliance in an effort to win an election due two weeks after the trip.
Briefing his cabinet on the March 3 speech to a joint meeting of Congress, Netanyahu said his priority was to urge the United States and other powers not to negotiate an Iranian nuclear deal that might endanger Israel.
Suzie Madrak makes a huge point here:
Gee, when people offered to send slaves back to Africa, we called that racist.
And flowing into this news:
Leaders of Jewish communities and Holocaust memorial groups in Britain and the Netherlands have reacted with rage and despair at the arrival in Rotterdam of the world’s biggest ship, the Pieter Schelte, named after a Dutch officer in the Waffen-SS.
The vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, said: “Naming such a ship after an SS officer who was convicted of war crimes is an insult to the millions who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis. We urge the ship’s owners to reconsider and rename the ship after someone more appropriate.”
Esther Voet, director of the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (Cidi), based in The Hague, said that the timing of the ship’s arrival, shortly before Jews were targeted and killed in Paris and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, was “a coincidence, I’m sure, but a sign of the times. We lost our battle to have the ship’s name changed, and we are left eating dust.”
Survivors of the Holocaust in Britain also spoke out. Ruth Barnett, a tireless campaigner who arrived from Nazi Germany as part of the Kindertransport, said: “I am outraged by the intensity and extent of denial and indifference that fails to challenge things like this ship, and allows the impunity for perpetrators to think they can get away with it.”
The London-based Lloyd’s Register dug in to defend its role in the ship’s building and development, while the shipbuilder said it had been named in honour of the owner’s father for his “great achievements in the offshore oil and gas industry”.
Read the rest of that story at the link, especially the bullet points… it is obvious that the ship’s name is something that could be seen as a slight. (To say the least.)
There is an op/ed over at the New York Times that should give you all pause…When Calculus of Loss Doesn’t Add Up – NYTimes.com
Joseph Kahn, The Times’s top-ranking editor for international news, told me that the Paris and Nigeria stories aren’t comparable. “These were totally different challenges,” he said, with the former happening in a major Western capital where The Times has a substantial staff.
He, and others, spoke of the difficulty of covering the Boko Haram story because of its remote location, the problems of verification, and the questions hanging over early reports. While Amnesty International was reporting as many as 2,000 dead, he told me, some trusted experts were cautioning against using the number. The Times needed to verify what had happened, something best done on the ground. But getting there is both difficult and time-consuming.
In retrospect, Mr. Kahn said, a story about the controversy over the numbers would have been one way to provide early and meaningful coverage — informing readers without falling prey to overstating what had happened. Such a story, especially if it had been prominently displayed and published quickly, would have been a valuable way to be transparent with readers about what The Times knew and what it didn’t know.
Mr. Kahn also said that while the Paris attack had an intense and short news arc, the Boko Haram story would continue and that The Times would keep covering it with commitment. The editor on the International Desk who handles Africa coverage, Greg Winter, told me last week that Mr. Nossiter (who has also been a leading reporter on the Ebola story) was in Nigeria again working on a major Boko Haram piece.
“I understand readers’ concerns about covering Nigeria, and I share them, which is why our correspondent has risked his life for years to cover the country and the turmoil in the north,” Mr. Winter said.
I asked Mr. Kahn how, in general, the numbers of violent deaths figure into editorial decisions. “We don’t cover everything equally,” he said. “It goes to gut news judgment, as we ask: ‘Is this a big deal? Are we going to deploy someone?’ ” Among the factors: “The circumstances, how unusual it is, the location, the relevance to American interests.”
And, he said, The Times has to be careful not to overreport violent death.
“Not every incident of carnage is a major story for The New York Times. You have to put it in context, and not fill the news report with unlimited doses of terrible violent news from around the world.”
I agree. I have no objection to the extent of the Paris coverage. But whatever the calculus of news judgments, these lost Nigerian lives surely were worthy of The Times’s immediate, as well as its continuing, attention.
Overreport violent death?
And on that note:
Notice, not from the NYT…
And now back to the US:
The following links are dealing with the GOP…and the usual shit.
And while on the subject of coochies:
Police in Florida and officials at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach have agreed not to charge a teenager they caught posing as a doctor.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports police were called Tuesday after a patient alerted staff at the medical center’s OB/GYN office that a juvenile dressed in a lab coat was inside an exam room. The patient said the lab coat had St. Mary’s logo and “anesthesiology” stitched on the front.
A security guard told police he’d seen the teen around the hospital for a month. Another said the teen entered secured areas of the hospital this week.
The teen’s mother told police he’s under the care of a doctor and is not taking his medicine.
On to the Arts…Movies…etc.
And something that will probably make a film one of these days, have you seen this story out of Argentina:
Gosh, what a lot of links for you today, and I’ve got a couple more:
And end with two stories on women, journalism and internet threats.
That’s all folks….
BTW, here is a gallery of images, some of which were not put up in the post here.
I really don’t have anything to add to the picture on the left. That is pretty much how things seem to be going lately. Each day another bomb drops, and many of us sit here wondering will it stop? Will there be a moment when some decent shred of humanity will shine through the toxic stew of torture, police brutality, racism, sexism and all the rest of it…
Here are your links for this morning, many reactions to the CIA torture reports will come as no surprise.
I guess John McCain is the one GOP dude who we would expect had some words to say on the matter: McCain on Torture: A Stain on our National Honor, Produces Misleading Info | Informed Comment
“As the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report roiled Capitol Hill Tuesday, Sen. John McCain framed the argument as one of moral clarity, all the while bumping up against his party leaders.
“I rise in support of the release, the long-delayed release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s summarized, unclassified review of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that were employed by the previous administration to extract information from captured terrorists,” the Arizona Republican said on the Senate floor. “I believe the American people have a right, indeed responsibility, to know what was done in their name, how these practices did or did not serve our interests, and how they comported with our most important values.”
McCain, who spent five-and-a-half years in a North Vietnamese prison during the Vietnam War and endured unspeakable torture, is virtually unassailable on the issue. His comments put him back in the maverick role, at least in relation to the chamber’s internal politics, that has long defined his congressional career.”
In another link from Juan Cole’s blog: Psychologists, who Took mn. to Advise, Practice Torture, betrayed the Profession | Informed Comment
During the War on Terror, the CIA’s operations subjected hundreds of suspected terrorists to harsh interrogation techniques, which were often criticised as constituting torture. Now, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the operation has made it clearer than ever that the CIA used many forms of “enhanced interrogation” to elicit information – very harsh methods indeed that simply did not yield the intended results.
As a leaked State Department memo put it, the report “tells a story of which no American is proud”.
This is a matter of outrage for everyone, but as psychologists, we have a particular obligation to speak out. Many of the approaches the CIA used were developed by our discipline, and by individuals who will have known about the codes of conduct by which US psychologists are bound – which include beneficence and non-maleficence, and respect for rights, dignity and integrity.
It is profoundly disturbing to see that the CIA’s techniques included deprivation of basic needs (warmth, food, water), humiliation, threats and the repeated use of waterboarding.
Ironically, many of the methods adopted were based on psychologists’ previous work directed at training members of the military, intended to assist them in avoiding talking to interrogators should they be captured and tortured. This work was apparently reverse-engineered for use on terrorist suspects.
Fox News…well, you know:
After reading reports about how the CIA inadvertently killed someone during an interrogation and subjected others to repeated waterboardings, “rectal feedings,” and threats to rape and kill their family members, did you get the feeling that sometimes the United States is less than awesome? That’s exactly what the Obama administration wanted! This afternoon in the alternate reality that is Fox News, the hosts of Outnumbered explained that the report was only released to distract Americans from real problems, like the IRS scandal and Benghazi.
“The Bush administration did what the American public wanted, and that was do whatever it takes to keep us safe,” declared the particularly incensed Andrea Tantaros. “The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome,” she continued. “We’ve closed the book on [torture], and we’ve stopped doing it. And the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we’re not awesome” — mainly because they “don’t like this country” and “want us to look bad.”
Fox then returned to its regularly scheduled programming.
If you thought you heard it all from Bill O’Reilly, think again. Tonight he said that torture was a “morally acceptable” thing to do.
Meanwhile, across the pond: New Statesman | “Torture is always wrong”: David Cameron responds to the CIA report
David Cameron has responded to the alarming US report by Democrat senators on CIA interrogation activities in the wake of 9/11. Commenting on the shocking revelations about “brutal” techniques employed by the CIA on terrorism suspects, the Prime Minister said:
Let us be clear – torture is wrong, torture is always wrong.
For those of us who want to see a safer more secure world who want to see this extremism defeated, we won’t succeed if we lose our moral authority.
Now obviously after 9/11 there were things that happened that were wrong and we should be clear about the fact that they were wrong.
Clearly anticipating any questions emerging from this story that could drag Britain into the controversy, Cameron was keen to emphasise that he believes Britain has “dealt with” its position in relation torture policy. The United Kingdom appears on the list of countries that “facilitated CIA torture”.
Cameron referred to the Intelligence and Security Committee looking into questions raised by the Gibson Inquiry into the treatment of detainees post-9/11, and added that he has, “issued guidance to all of our agents and others working around the world about how they have to handle themselves”.
The report itself has stunned the world following its release yesterday. It suggests America’s spies repeatedly lied to Congress and its foreign allies in an effort to cover up the scale and brutal nature of a secret global programme of torture.
Of course the UN has it’s own response: CIA torture: Calls to prosecute US officials involved in ‘brutal’ interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects – The Independent
The UN has called for the prosecution of those behind a ‘criminal conspiracy’ at the CIA that led to the ‘brutal’ torture of detainees.
Ben Emmerson, United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said those responsible for planning, sanctioning or carrying out crimes including waterboarding should not escape justice – even senior officials from George W Bush’s administration.
“It is now time to take action,” he said in a statement from Geneva. “The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy … must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.
“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.”
Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth also said that the CIA’s actions were criminal “and can never be justified”.
“The report shows the repeated claims that harsh measures were needed to protect Americans are utter fiction.
“Unless this important truth-telling process leads to prosecution of officials, torture will remain a ‘policy option’ for future presidents.”
Now, over at Al Jazeera, they have an article that interviews surviviors:
Survivors of alleged CIA torture and rendition programs praised the release of a damning, if heavily redacted Senate account of the agency’s “brutal” and “ineffective” practices but noted it was only a first step toward accountability — and it certainly wasn’t an apology.
“Publishing this shows the other side, that human rights apply to everyone,” said Abdelhakim Balhadj, a Libyan political dissident who the U.S. rendered back to Libya in 2004, where he was allegedly tortured over a six-year period without being charged with a crime. “The U.S. denied us our human rights. We wanted the American people to recognize this.”
After years of delay, the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released a 499-page executive summary of a more than 6,000-word report, which remains classified. It detailed a litany of apparently illegal methods employed by CIA officers to extract information from detainees — death threats, beatings, sleep deprivation, forced rectal feeding and other psychological torment — much of which had long since been leaked.
Significantly, the summary noted that so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques were “brutal and far worse than the CIA represented” and they were not nearly as useful in obtaining information vital to national security as the agency had previously said.
Though ex-detainees like Belhadj welcomed those findings, he was disappointed that his name had not been mentioned specifically. In a phone call from his home in Libya, Belhadj, now a prominent politician and military leader in Libya, told of how he and his pregnant wife Fatima were picked up by U.S. authorities as they were trying to leave China, where they had been living until 2004, to seek political asylum in the U.K.
As well as the ex-CIA dudes…who have there side of the story: Ex-CIA officials say torture report is one-sided, flawed | Reuters
A group of former top-ranking CIA officials disputed a U.S. Senate committee’s finding that the agency’s interrogation techniques produced no valuable intelligence, saying such work had saved thousands of lives.
Former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden, along with three ex-deputy directors, wrote in an op-ed article published on Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal that the Senate Intelligence Committee report also was wrong in saying the agency had been deceptive about its work following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
The rest of the links for today’s post are in dump format, and they are not pleasant. In fact they are much of the same kind of news we have been seeing the past few weeks.
The usual story with the usual players. The men in this case were in a stolen car…that said…read the rest at the link.
As the American people continue to debate about — and organize over — the lack of consequences for the police who killed Eric Garner and Michael Brown, some commentators (like yours truly) have urged national Democrats to be more directly and unapologetically supportive of their African-American supporters and the #blacklivesmatter movement in general. But while it’s much too soon to tell whether Hillary Clinton or other similarly well-known Democrats will heed the call, it’s clear that one Democratic congressman, Minnesota’s Keith Ellison, is listening. “The fact is, people have to demand [a] sense of justice: people in the streets are going to make the system more responsive,” he said recently on MSNBC.
In a scathing editorial in the Hollywood Reporter, Chris Rock has confronted some issues that though obvious, are being blatantly ignored. He quite rightly points out that Hollywood is an exclusive, white industry that is terrible at giving opportunities to black and Latino people other than as the janitor. You only have to open your eyes to see this, but nobody, whether it be studio executives, producers, directors, other actors or critics, has been proactive in changing things. It’s OK to say it – Hollywood doesn’t care about black people.
Residents of Harrison try to fight off their reputation as the small town with the most hate groups in America
Thomas Robb lives 15 miles from downtown Harrison, Arkansas, past churches with signs speaking of God’s righteousness, a goat farm and a slew of rusted trailer homes. His home is a collection of nondescript white cottages that includes an office and a meeting place for the Christian Revival Center, where he serves as pastor. The buildings stretch across several acres — but don’t call the property a compound.
“It’s my home, not a compound,” Robb says, correcting a reporter with a smile. “The word ‘compound’ has such a negative connotation.”
Robb and his wife moved to the area 43 years ago from Tucson, Arizona: “You could see the handwriting on the wall of Arizona being a dumping ground for illegal aliens.” The stronger morals of people in Arkansas, he says, made the state a more attractive home for his Thomas Robb Ministries and the Christian Revival Center, which espouse a white-supremacist, “Christian-identity” theology. For the last 25 years, he’s also been the national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the group founded by prominent Klan leader and former Louisiana politician David Duke. In that role, Robb has attempted to advance the white-nationalist movement by portraying the Klan, in the words of one journalist, as more “gentle, upbeat and friendly” — an approach that’s sometimes frowned upon by other Klan members for being too mainstream.
In Georgia, there was an execution last night: Injustice in Robert Wayne Holsey’s Case – NYTimes.com
Even by the abysmal standards of lawyering that defendants in capital trials regularly endure, Robert Wayne Holsey’s case stands out.
In 1997, Mr. Holsey was convicted and sentenced to death for killing a Georgia sheriff’s deputy named Will Robinson, who had pulled him over for robbing a convenience store. Despite evidence that Mr. Holsey was intellectually disabled — which should have barred him from execution under the United States Supreme Court’s earlier rulings — his lawyer neglected to make that argument at trial. Mr. Holsey was executed on Tuesday evening after the Supreme Court declined to stay his execution.
The evidence of Mr. Holsey’s mental deficits included an I.Q. test score of 70 when he was 15. In school, his intellectual functioning did not move past a fourth-grade level. But under Georgia law, a defendant is required to prove his intellectual disability beyond a reasonable doubt — the strictest standard in the country and one unmoored from scientific reality.
A Palestinian minister has died after clashes with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank. The circumstances of Ziad Abu Ein’s death have yet to be officially confirmed, but sources told Al Jazeera that it occurred after he inhaled large amounts of tear gas and was struck by security forces.
Abu Ein, who was head of the Anti-Wall and Settlement Commission, died in Ramallah Hospital on Wednesday following a protest against the separation barrier near the village of Turmusayya, northeast of Ramallah.
The 55-year-old is thought to have been hit in the chest by Israeli soldiers at the demonstration, according to an Israeli journalist and a Reuters photographer who were at the scene. Other witnesses said he was headbutted and then collapsed.
Activists said they were planting olive trees by the illegal settlement of Adei Ad when the soldiers attacked them and fired large amounts of tear gas at the group.
Pictures of Abu Ein, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, knocked out and on the ground quickly circulated on social media sites.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas quickly condemned the death of Abu Ein, calling it a “barbaric act that cannot be tolerated.” He also said “all necessary steps” will be taken after an investigation into Abu Ein’s death is carried out.
More on the olive trees, and the significance here:
Obama had a tough interview: Jorge Ramos Challenges President Obama On Immigration In Testy Interview – BuzzFeed News
Hey, this is a surprise: Police officer buys eggs for woman caught shoplifting to feed her family in Tarrant | AL.com
A woman caught shoplifting eggs in Tarrant Saturday didn’t leave with handcuffs and a court date. Thanks to a Tarrant police officer, she left with food for her family.
Officer William Stacy was called to the Dollar General on Pinson Valley Parkway when employees caught the woman trying to steal a dozen eggs, Tarrant Police Chief Dennis Reno said.
The woman had her young children in the car. She told Officer Stacy that she was only stealing because she was trying to feed her children.
Stacy talked with Dollar General, and they said they wouldn’t prosecute. So Stacy made an offer.
“He said, ‘If I give you these eggs, will you promise that you won’t shoplift anymore?'” Reno said. “He knew that she was telling the truth and that’s the reason he went in and bought the eggs.”
Stacy bought the eggs and gave them to her, Reno said. The woman then asked if she could give him a hug.
Sorry if I am cynical…but…
“Police officers do this all the time. Of course, these are the kind of stories that never get told,” Reno said. “Every police officer in Jefferson County has done this at one point in time.”
Reno said this is one way police deal with issues — not every incident ends with someone being hauled off to jail.
No, they don’t get hauled off to jail, they get hauled off to the morgue.
Video of hug at link. It just is…I don’t know. Maybe y’all have a better way of putting it into words than I do?
Sounds a little like staged bullshit to me.
But again, I am a cynical bitch.
I mean, when you have a Sgt with the Tarrant Police Department police stealing evidence and selling it to other cops:
According to Tarrant Police Chief Dennis Reno, former Tarrant Police Officer, Sgt. Charles Higgins, has turned himself in to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
The Tarrant Police Department is asking a suspected criminal to turn himself in. But this criminal isn’t like the others.
“He was an extraordinary officer,” Police Chief Dennis Reno said.
That’s because Charles Kevin Higgins used to be a Sgt. with the department.
“Myself and every officer here feels betrayed,” Reno said.
Reno says a while back his department noticed items missing out of the evidence room, which is what Sgt. Higgins was in charge of. Higgins was confronted and was told an investigation would be happening.
“Rather than face an investigation, Sgt. Higgins rendered his resignation at that time,” Reno said.
Further investigation would show much more missing from the evidence room than anticipated.
Nine handguns were missing. Reno says Higgins told people he needed money. He sold six of them to citizens. But four of them were sold to closer friends.
“He sold them to some of his fellow police officers here at the station,” Reno said.
The serial numbers on the guns sold to the officers matched the numbers of those missing from the evidence room. Reno believes Higgins made nearly $3,500 on the guns. Reno says the officers who bought the firearms thought they were part of Higgins’s personal collection, as Reno says Higgins is a gun collector.
Reno says he could not comment whether more items were taken from the evidence room.
Or the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office being investigated for racial discrimination: JeffCo Sheriff’s hiring, firing practices under scrutiny for racial discrimiation
A federal judge wants to know what Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale is doing to deal with racial discrimination.
During a status hearing over the county’s consent degree involving hiring and firing practices, U.S District Judge Lynwood Smith said he will now be focusing on the sheriff’s office.
The county’s hiring and firing is currently under the supervision of court appointed receiver Ronald Sims.
During Thursday’s court hearing, plaintiffs in the case said it came to their attention that Sheriff Hale does not have an affirmative action officer to oversee any racial complaints or violations of discrimination law.
Jefferson County has affirmative action officers in place but the question now is whether Sheriff Hale, who is already facing a tight budget, hire another person for the job or use the county’s personnel.
Jefferson County commissioner David Carrington says it’s a matter that has to be studied.
“It would be a little cumbersome for the county’s AA officer to get involved with the sheriff’s office. We have a lot of issues we need to deal with. If the judge says it’s our responsibility we will accept it and go forward,” Carrington said.
Judge Smith told Sheriff Hale’s attorney in court to get more engaged and to research what the sheriff has done to deal with racial discrimination going back to 1982, when the original consent decree was signed by Hale’s predecessor Mel Bailey.
A federal judge, who last year installed a manager to oversee all Jefferson County personnel decisions to prevent discrimination against blacks and women, has now turned his focus onto the county sheriff’s office.
At a hearing this morning U.S. District Court Judge Lynwood Smith asked an attorney for Sheriff Mike Hale to determine what that office has done – or hasn’t – to ensure that it doesn’t discriminate against blacks or women in hiring, firing and promotions since a consent decree was signed by county officials 32 years ago.
Smith said he believes “it is past time to focus on the sheriff… He (the sheriff) is under the same duties and obligations as the county commission.”
The 1982 consent decree was issued as part of lawsuits that contended the county and the City of Birmingham had discriminated against blacks and women. County officials, including former Sheriff Mel Bailey, signed the decree. Birmingham and the Jefferson County Personnel Board were ultimately released from their decrees.
About seven years ago plaintiffs in the lawsuits asked the judge to find the county in contempt for not abiding by the terms of its consent decree. After a lengthy process the judge last year found the county was in contempt and put in place a receiver, Ron Sims, over the county’s human resources department.
At today’s status conference Smith holds once a month to check on the county’s compliance, an attorney for the plaintiff’s, Rowan Wilson, told the judge about an issue that came up.
Wilson said that Sims two months ago had appointed an affirmative action officer to review personnel complaints. Recently sheriff’s employees had come to the new officer with issues, which brought up the question as to whether the sheriff had an affirmative action officer, he said.
As part of the consent decree the county was to have an affirmative action officer, but didn’t, Wilson said. The issue came up during testimony in the contempt hearings.
Take a look at the comments….interesting to say the least.
This sounds a lot like Banjoville.
But seriously…to go back to the quote from Reno, the chief at Tarrant PD:
“Police officers do this all the time. Of course, these are the kind of stories that never get told,” Reno said. “Every police officer in Jefferson County has done this at one point in time.”
Oh yeah, I bet they do that act of kindness all the time….
That is it for me, y’all have a good day. So? What are you reading about?
Just a quick thought this morning before we get to the links. Yesterday Boston Boomer linked to an article about Janet Yellen, and there were a few sentences that made me stop and think. Which is really something because usually when it comes to articles containing anything associated with numbers, my brain tends to retreat like a coward who is being bombarded by incoming aerial livestock.
CNN Money’s report on Yellen’s speech, Janet Yellen: Job market not recovered.
That was Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s main message Friday in a much anticipated speech.
“It speaks to the depth of the damage that, five years after the end of the recession, the labor market has yet to fully recover,” she said.
The debate now is whether the job situation in America is healthy enough for the Federal Reserve to start raising interest rates, which have been at historic lows in recent years in an effort to jump start the economy. Yellen, however, said little new on Friday, and U.S. stock markets stayed flat.
Yellen is chair of the committee that sets interest rates, but she only gets one vote. Other members have differing views. The Fed board and other top economists are spending the weekend in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, debating these key issues.
Though the unemployment rate “has fallen considerably and at a surprisingly rapid pace,” Yellen said problems remain.
Okay, maybe I am a bit hypersensitive, but why the specific mention about her getting only one vote. Is this something new? I was under the impression that whenever Greenspan or Bernake or Geithner spoke…it was as if the all powerful Oz had spoken. Especially with Greenspan, I mean that guy was the equivalent of verbal Dow Jones Industrial Average “pusher” in that whenever he opened his mouth…he spewed economic commentary uppers or downers.
Anyway, if this is not a big deal…then just forget about all that shit and continue with the post. As it is, the thread is late this morning. I got distracted finding images of sheep on Pinterest. Oh well, you know what that means…another dump. Link dump that is….
The latest news:
The bodies of two men who had been bound were found today dumped a Philadelphia river, while a third man who had been repeatedly stabbed narrowly escaped the abductors believed to be responsible for the double homicide, authorities said.
The survivor, a 20-year-old man, was taken off the street by four or five men early this morning and thrown into the back of a van, police said.
He was then stabbed about nine times, in the torso and legs, Philadelphia police said, and his hands were tied behind his back with duct tape and his ankles were bound as well. Duct tape was also placed over his mouth, and once in the van, he realized there were two other people in the van who had also been bound, police said.
All three were taken to the Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park, where they were thrown into the water, police said, noting that the two other people were tethered to some kind of weight and drowned in five to ten feet of water.
This is a new story obviously so no real info as of yet…cops say they may have surveillance video of abduction.
And you may be one of the millions without internet service: Time Warner Cable Suffers Massive Outage
Time Warner Cable suffered a nationwide outage on Wednesday morning, leaving many users unable to access the Internet.
The company issued a statement to Mashable, acknowledging the outage and reporting that much of its service had been restored. TWC said the service outage was due to an issue with its “Internet backbone” that occurred during routine maintenance.
At 430am ET this morning during our routine network maintenance, an issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet and On Demand services. As of 6am ET services were largely restored as updates continue to bring all customers back online.
On Tuesday, Time Warner Cable agreed to pay the Federal Communications Commission $1.1 million for failing to disclose a “substantial number” of outages affecting its customers. Now today, the company announced that it is suffering from multiple outages affecting 12 million people.
Making matters worse is that many of those consumers probably didn’t have much choice when they signed up for the service, given Time Warner Cable’s effective monopoly in a number of its markets. As I wrote when I compared its service against the only other option for Internet service in my area,
The problem is, there are no options for someone living in the boonies. If they want to connect to the Internet they have to use something like [Finger Lakes Technologies Group, a regional Internet provider]; there are no other options. […] So far as choices go, it’s clear that people who live in small towns like this one are totally screwed.
This is a problem all across the country. Many people have access to just a handful of ISPs, many of which are regional offerings that pale in comparison to their national counterparts, which enjoy a monopoly on the high-end service market in many of the places they operate.
That problem will only be made worse if Time Warner Cable is allowed to merge with Comcast and become what Netflix called the “nation’s largest onramp to the Internet.” The combined company is unlikely to care much about leveling the playing field and allowing other ISPs to give consumers more options for Internet service. It’ll just amass as much power as it can.
Does that seem like a company that’s going to solve problems that lead to outages affecting 12 million people around the United States? Hell, even with the scant competition they have now, both Time Warner Cable and Comcast have done little to make their services better. As I wrote in May, the companies are the least-liked in every industry in which they operate. (Surprise!)
We have this problem with Windstream being the shitty internet service monopoly here in Banjoville.
The cease-fire announced Tuesday between Israel and Palestinian factions — if it holds — will end seven weeks of fighting that killed more than 2,200 Gazans and some 69 Israelis. But as the rival camps seek to put their spin on the outcome, one assessment of Israel’s Gaza operation that won’t be publicized is that of the U.S. military. Still, even though the Pentagon shies away from publicly expressing judgments that might fall afoul of a decidedly pro-Israel Congress, senior U.S. military sources speaking on condition of anonymity offered a scathing assessment of Israeli tactics, particularly in the battle for Shujaiya.
One of the more curious moments in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge came on July 20, when a live microphone at FOX News caught Secretary of State John Kerry commenting sarcastically on Israel’s military action: “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry said. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.”
Rain of high-explosive shells
The secretary of state’s comment followed the heaviest bombardment of the war to that point, as Israeli artillery rained thousands of high-explosive shells into the neighborhood of Shujaiya, a residential area on the eastern edge of Gaza City. A high-ranking U.S. military officer told this reporter that the source of Kerry’s apparent consternation was almost certainly a Pentagon summary report assessing the Israeli barrage, on which the Secretary had been briefed by an aide moments earlier.
According to this senior U.S. officer, who had access to the July 21 Pentagon summary of the previous 24 hours of Israeli operations, the internal report showed that 11 Israeli artillery battalions —a minimum of 258 artillery pieces in all, according to this officer’s estimate — had pumped at least 7,000 high explosive shells into the Gaza neighborhood, which included a barrage of some 4,800 shells during the seven-hour period marking the height of the operation. Senior U.S. officers were stunned by the report.
Twice daily throughout the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) operation, a select group of senior U.S. military and intelligence officers at the Pentagon received a lengthy written summary of Israeli military action in Gaza. The reports — compiled from information gleaned from open sources, Israeli military officers with whom U.S. officials speak and satellite images — offered a detailed assessment of Israel’s battlefield tactics and the performance of its weaponry, a considerable portion of it supplied by the United States.
Although these reports shy away from offering political judgments on the operation, a number of senior U.S. military officers who spoke about the contents of those daily reports with this reporter were highly critical of some of the IDF’s tactics, particularly in the Israeli ground invasion of Shujaiya. An official spokesman at the Pentagon declined to comment on the contents of this article.
Even as SNAP policies and procedures change with the times, the program’s core mission remains the same. When the Food Stamp Act was passed in 1964, it aimed to provide better nutrition to low-income households while benefiting our agricultural economy. Fifty years later, research shows SNAP is still doing just that.
For example, SNAP benefits boost the economy by creating markets, and spurring economic growth and jobs in urban and rural communities at grocers, superstores, farmers’ markets, military commissaries, manufacturers and farms. And because SNAP benefits are so urgently needed, they are spent quickly – 97 percent of benefits are redeemed within the month of issuance – and therefore have great positive economic effects. Moody’s Analytics and USDA estimate that the economic growth impact of SNAP ranges from $1.73 to $1.79 per $1 of SNAP benefits.
One component of SNAP that needs to change and hasn’t is the amount of the monthly benefit allotment. While we know the program is capable of reducing food insecurity, improving the health and well-being of recipients, and ultimately saving taxpayer dollars on avoided healthcare costs, it could work much better. Current benefits are based on assumptions developed in the 1930s for emergency diets. That plan is now woefully outmoded on every front from nutrition to practicality. Multiple studies, including the USDA’s own analysis of a recent (temporary) boost in benefits, show the value of a healthier allotment.
Over the course of any 50-year period, change is inevitable. Since August 1964, SNAP’s strength has been recognizing and responding to those changes. Today, the program’s mission is as necessary as it was 50 years ago: providing relevant, vital help to boost nutrition, economic security and health among seniors, children, people with disabilities, and unemployed or low-income working families. This is an anniversary worth celebrating.
Black Agenda Report is out, and here is their coverage of the “events” at Ferguson | Black Agenda Report
Did y’all see the latest in ironic pro-gun nut death by gun shot? DEATH BY MISADVENTURE | Gin and Tacos
On Tuesday a 39 year old firearms instructor was fatally shot near Kingman, AZ when the nine year-old girl he was instructing on the use of an Uzi submachine gun lost control of it…while it was on full automatic. This resolves once and for all the question of whether it is a good idea to give a nine year old girl who appears in the linked video to weigh about 20 pounds (note: the video shows only the events leading up to the fatal incident, but does not include the incident itself) a submachine gun set on full auto. The facility, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, caters to the vacationing yahoo crowd:
KINGMAN, Ariz. — An instructor who was shot by a 9-year-old girl who fired an Uzi at a northwestern Arizona shooting range died Monday night at University Medical Center in Las Vegas.
The girl fired the weapon at the outdoor range that caters to heavy tourism traffic along U.S. Highway 93 between Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon Skywalk.
Highway signage and Internet advertising beckons visitors to stop in, fire a machine gun and enjoy a meal at the Bullets and Burgers enterprise at the Last Stop, about 25 miles south of Las Vegas.
The instructor had, among others, the following hilarious pro-gun images posted on his Facebook wall (h/t Balloon Juice)
What about a look at what makes Houston…colorful? Immigrants reshape Houston, America’s most diverse metropolis | Al Jazeera America
In the past 20 years, Houston — that most Texan of Texan cities — has come to look more and more like the taxi drivers. Between 1990 and 2010, Greater Houston added more than 2.2 million people (PDF) and now boasts a population of more than 6 million (the city proper has 2.2 million residents). The metropolitan area has eclipsed New York and Los Angeles to become the most racially and ethnically diverse in the United States.
A joint report published last year by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research and the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas (PDF) found that Greater Houston scores highest on the Entropy Index, which measures diversity according to the presence and relative proportions of the four major racial groups (white, black, Hispanic and Asian). All five Houston counties have become more diverse over the past two decades, with increased numbers of Hispanics (from 21 to 35 percent) and Asians (from 3.4 to 6.5 percent), a stable population of blacks (about 17 percent) and a decrease in whites or “Anglos” (from over 50 to under 40 percent), though rates of residential segregation remain high.
Oh boy, it is really getting late…here are the rest in real quick dump format:
It’s being hailed as a “provocative new study” worthy of Christian Grey himself — a group of researchers have just published an article in Journal of Women’s Health claiming that women who read “50 Shades of Grey” are at a higher risk for domestic abuse, disordered eating, a high number of sexual partners and even binge drinking. But don’t throw your romance novel to the curb just yet: The study is another example of the good old “correlation does not equal causation” trope.
During the study, a group of scientists surveyed 655 18-to-24-year-old women online, a third of whom had read some or all of the ’50 Shades’ series. They asked them questions about their personal sexual practices, their experiences of partner victimization such as sexual and psychological abuse, and binge drinking. When they adjusted their findings for age and race, researchers learned that women who had read at least the first book in the series were more likely to report partner victimization, cyberstalking, fasting and using diet aids. Women who had read all three books in the series were also more likely to report having five or more sexual partners in their lifetime. Their conclusion? There is an association between reading the series and negative health outcomes for women.
At the Guardian: The 100 best novels: an introduction | Books | The Observer
You can see the past weeks here: The 100 best novels | Books | The Guardian
Now for the article that explains the title of this post: BBC News – ‘Two simple rules’ explain sheepdog behaviour
The relationship between a shepherd and his sheepdog has always seemed almost magical, but scientists now say it can be explained by two simple rules.
Researchers have used GPS data to reveal the mathematical secrets of how sheepdogs do their job.
The new model helps to explain why one shepherd and a single dog can herd an unruly flock of more than 100 sheep.
The first rule: The sheepdog learns how to make the sheep come together in a flock. The second rule: Whenever the sheep are in a tightly knit group, the dog pushes them forwards.
NERC fellow Dr Andrew King of Swansea University helped to design backpacks fitted with highly accurate GPS technology. These trackers were attached to a flock of sheep and a sheepdog.
“What’s so interesting about this is how simple the rules are,” Dr King told the BBC.
“At the beginning we had lots of different ideas. We started out looking from a birds eye view, but then we realised we needed to see what the dog sees. It sees white, fluffy things. If there are gaps between them or the gaps get bigger, the dogs needs to bring them together.”
“One of the things that sheep are really good at is responding to a threat by working with their neighbours. It’s the selfish herd theory: put something between the threat and you. Individuals try to minimise the chance of anything happening to them, so they move towards the centre of a group.”
A colleague, Dr Daniel Strombom from Uppsala University in Sweden, used the GPS data from the collars to develop computer simulations. This enabled them to develop a mathematical shepherding model.
The algorithm displays the same weaving pattern exhibited by sheepdogs. It helps to solve what has been called the ‘the shepherding problem’: how one agent can control a large number of unwilling agents.
The research was published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
Read the rest at the link…and how they are working to use this information in other ways.
This made me look for a couple of more sheepy links:
29 Apr 2004
Shrek, the New Zealand merino sheep which spent the last six years on the run from his owners, finally had his long-postponed encounter with a pair of shears last night.
The woolly creature was shorn of his 15-inch long, 59lb fleece during a live television broadcast.
Viewers around the country watched eagerly to see the wool carefully snipped away by a former world champion shearer, Peter Casserly.
Despite his years as a hermit, Shrek was as meek as a lamb and co-operated fully.
“He is probably looking forward to getting this lot off,” Mr Casserly said confidently as he got to work.
They used to be an important part of the global economy but with the increase of estates the need for shepherds has declined. However, the tradition does still exist in many parts of the world
That one is just a gallery…so go and enjoy it.
Sorry this is so damn late!
That about says it all.
Plenty of links for you today, and with the way I am feeling…all the horrible things these racist bastards are saying and doing, it is just a link dump today. As usual, the post centers around a theme…this Sunday the theme is, forgotten women.
The women have different stories to tell, some are forgotten by time. Others are overlooked or ignored by the government or their husbands, and then you have those who are having an important aspect of being a woman blatantly disregarded…her rights. (Not that she really had all of them anyway.)
So, let’s just get down to it. The link dump starts now:
I have other links on this Hobby Lobby shit below, but read this one from Imani Gandy. She will give it to y’all, finished and done. The Obama Administration Should Stop Bending to the Religious Right’s Will
Seeking to quell a politically charged controversy, the Obama administration announced new measures Friday to allow religious nonprofits and some companies to opt out of paying for birth control for female employees while still ensuring those employees have access to contraception.
Even so, the accommodations may not fully satisfy religious groups who oppose any system that makes them complicit in providing coverage they believe is immoral. The administration’s hope is that the new accommodation will be more palatable because it creates more distance between religious nonprofits and the health services they believe are immoral, by inserting the government as a middleman between nonprofits and their insurers.
But the Family Research Council, a socially conservative group, dismissed the new accommodation as an “insulting accounting gimmick” that still leaves businesses and nonprofits complicit in something they view as immoral.
They never will be satisfied. I knew this before the compromise was first offered way back…
Effective immediately, the U.S. will start allowing faith-affiliated charities, colleges and hospitals to notify the government — rather than their insurers — that they object to birth control on religious grounds. A previous accommodation offered by the Obama administration allowed those nonprofits to opt out of paying for birth control by submitting a document called Form 700 to their insurers, but Roman Catholic bishops and other religious plaintiffs argued just submitting that form was like signing a permission slip to engage in evil.
To opt-out of paying for contraceptives without using Form 700, religious nonprofits can send a letter to the Health and Human Services Department that includes the organization’s name, the type of health plan they offer and the name and contact information for their insurance issuers or third-party administrators, officials said. Groups must also explain which types of birth control they object to and state the objection is based on sincerely held beliefs.
The administration’s proposal to let companies like Hobby Lobby use Form 700 will apply only to “closely held” corporations that are owned by families or a small number of investors. The government is asking for the public’s input about how narrowly to define a “closely held” corporation, meaning the rule-making process will drag out for many months before the fix is finalized.
In a related move, the administration announced plans to allow for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby Inc. to start using Form 700. The Supreme Court ruled in June that the government can’t force companies like Hobby Lobby Inc. to pay for birth control, sending the administration scrambling for a way to ensure their employees can still get birth control one way or another at no added cost.
More on birth control, if only these PLUB assholes would admit to the fact that when you Give Teens Access to Birth Control and, Amazingly, the Teen Pregnancy Rate Drops | Smart News | Smithsonian
he teen birth rate in the U.S. has been declining for decades—it’s decreased 57 percent since 1991. But recently, it’s begun dropping dramatically. More than half of that 57 percent change took place just the past six years, says a new report from the CDC.
Alongside the rapidly dropping birth rate, there’s been an equally precipitous dip in teen abortions, which are also down 56 percent over the past two decades. With the birth rate and the abortion rate both down, it seems that teens have decided en masse to just stop getting pregnant. But why?
In the Washington Post, Tina Griego covers that possibility. In Colorado, she writes, the teen birth rate has dropped 40 percent from 2009 to 2013, the largest drop in the country. That decline, state health officials say, can be traced to a program designed to improve teens’ access to high quality, long-lasting birth control. WaPo:
The Colorado Family Planning Initiative, supported by a $23 million anonymous donation, provided more than 30,000 IUDs or implants to women served by the state’s 68 family-planning clinics. The state’s analysis suggests the initiative was responsible for three-quarters of the decline in the state’s teen birth rates.
What about the longer term downward trend? In 1957, the birth rate among teens age 15 to 19 was 96.3 per 1,000 teens. In 1991, it had dropped to 61.8 per 1,000, and in 2013, it was all the way down to 26.6 births per 1,000 teens.
Then you have the laws, like the one in Texas that is written about here under the title of: Quackery and Abortion Rights – NYTimes.com
The deception behind the wave of state-level abortion restrictions now threatening women’s access to safe and legal abortions was strikingly revealed during a trial that ended last week in Texas.
The trial, held before Judge Lee Yeakel of Federal District Court in Austin, offered an opportunity to examine evidence and hear arguments in a challenge to crucial portions of Texas’ sweeping 2013 package of abortion restrictions. The challenge, brought by reproductive rights advocates, focuses on two rules, one requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and another mandating that clinics meet state standards for ambulatory surgical centers, an unnecessary and prohibitively costly requirement.
The admitting-privileges rule, which is already in place, has severely limited access to safe and legal care in Texas. Absent court intervention, the situation will get much worse. There are now only 19 abortion clinics in Texas, compared with 41 before the new law. This number could shrink to as few as seven after Sept. 1, when the surgical-center rule takes effect.
And this is where the quack comes in:
A team of lawyers led by the Center for Reproductive Rights and their expert witnesses presented compelling evidence of the destructive consequences of the two rules and the emptiness of the claim that they are necessary to protect women’s health and safety.
By contrast, the state’s defense of the rules was a bizarre and unconvincing show. Four of its five witnesses denied, and then conceded (when confronted with incriminating emails) that their written testimony was crafted by Vincent Rue, an opponent of women’s reproductive freedom best known for promoting kooky claims, like the existence of an abortion-related mental illness he calls “post-abortive syndrome.”
Mr. Rue does brisk business these days orchestrating testimony from pliable witnesses willing to supply “expert” support for state abortion restrictions, a task for which he has been paid $42,000, so far, by Texas. That his guidance is relied upon is incredible given that his own past court testimony and theories have been discredited by judges and others.
If there was anything about forgotten women, it is the ones discussed about in this next piece: A Deadly Epidemic of Violence Against Women – The Atlantic
There is one state where women are getting killed in record numbers. Can you guess what region it is located?
The map is of South Carolina and its counties. “All 46 counties have at least one animal shelter to care for stray dogs,” The Charleston Post Courier reports, “but the state has only 18 domestic violence shelters to help women trying to escape abuse.” One of the red dots represents a 31-year-old, Amerise Barbre, whose boyfriend strangled her. Each red dot represents a woman killed by a husband or boyfriend. In the eight-year period shown, that sort of murder happened 292 times.
“Most state legislators profess deep concern over domestic violence,” the newspaper notes in the introduction to a seven-part feature. “Yet they maintain a legal system in which a man can earn five years in prison for abusing his dog but a maximum of just 30 days in jail for beating his wife or girlfriend on a first offense.”
Domestic abuse reportedly occurs there about 36,000 times per year.
The feature posits that public-policy failures largely explain why South Carolina’s homicide rate for women is presently the highest in the nation. It urges sweeping reforms.
They are summarized here.
As with all these links, you need to finish up the article to get the full picture.
What’s more, as we all know by now: Black women are killed by police, too – Salon.com
As law enforcement continues to use military weapons to terrorize protesters seeking justice for slain teen Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, the ache in my soul is primitive and all-encompassing.
Reporters are being arrested, children are being hit with tear gas, and political pundits are being threatened. The stench of fear, fear of the power of collective Black rage and action, is rancid. And that fear breeds desperation. The need to suppress that rage, which screams that we are worth more than this country has shown us, claws at the gate-keepers of White supremacy—elected officials, police officers, and mainstream media—until it eats at them from the inside out.
You cannot control what you can’t contain. Wilson’s cold-blooded execution of Michael Brown, who was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, while in a position of surrender, lit the fuse on years of racial profiling and inequality in the town of Ferguson.
And there can be no peace where there is no justice.
They want us believe that it’s about looting; but it’s not. This entire horrific show of violence being committed in the name of the “law” proves once and for all that the system is not broken. When a Black boy is gunned down and left to bleed out in the street, that’s American justice. When his killer is allowed to leave town under the cloak of anonymity, that’s American justice.
To paraphrase Malcolm X, we are not Americans, we are victims of America. But as conversations about Michael Brown and Ferguson segue into broader discussions about the scourge of police brutality at large, it becomes clear that, despite being on the frontlines, the we in question often does not include Black women.
Be clear: The need to have a very specific, targeted discussion about the fear of Black, male bodies is critical.
And Kirsten West Savali, of Dame explains more at the link.
Following this article, it may be good to place this little bit of art next: » Blog Archive » Panhandle Slim… Art for Folk…
Speaking of which. They Have the Authority to Kill a Minority » Balloon Juice
All these people know for sure is that a white cop gunned down a black man and couldn’t even be bothered to fill out a police report. Chief Justice John Roberts can go fuck himself with a burning cross.
That goes double for me!
Remember that reporter who was asking for information on police killings? We’re Compiling Every Police-Involved Shooting In America. Help Us. Well, check this out: What I’ve Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings
A few days ago, Deadspin’s Kyle Wagner began to compile a list of all police-involved shootings in the U.S. He’s not the only one to undertake such a project: D. Brian Burghart, editor of the Reno News & Review, has been attempting a crowdsourced national database of deadly police violence. We asked Brian to write about what he’s learned from his project.
Oops, I’ve gotten off track. Back to those forgotten women: U.S. Airports Won’t Show You These Women’s Rights Ads, So We Will – Mic
U.S. airports are littered with advertisements, but that hasn’t stopped them from refusing to run displays featuring basic information about women’s rights.
UltraViolet, an advocacy group aimed at fighting sexism and expanding women’s rights, recently attempted to launch such an ad campaign in several airports. They focused on states with both booming tourist industries and histories of economic inequality between the sexes, like Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina.
When the targeted airports got wind of the ads, however, they flat-out refused to run them.
Go to the link to see the ads.
It is not like if Men Had to Put Up With the Same Crap as Women | Cracked.com
Here…on to Israel: BBC News – Holocaust survivors condemn Israel’s Gaza ‘genocide’
More than 300 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and descendants of survivors have issued a public statement condemning Israel’s “genocide” of the Palestinian people in Gaza.
The statement was released by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and was placed as an advertisement in the New York Times.
It calls for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted and Israel to be boycotted.
The signatories expressed alarm at the “colonization of historic Palestine”.
It condemns the “racist dehumanisation of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached fever pitch”.
Go to the link to read the statement in full.
Up next, an Animated US Oil And Gas Rig Map
Business Insider had a,
Now Thuot has put together a new incredible GIF showing how oil and gas drilling rigs are moving across states, and the country, in 2014 to the most productive formations.
“We care about rig activity because it is a leading indicator of future production in an area,” he writes. “Rig activity in an area today signals new production from that area in the near-term.”
Back to the women.
In his introduction to the volume, John C. Raines summarized the group’s main findings about gender oppression. One, that world religions mirror social constructions of gender and vice versa; two, that the analysis of religious power is always a choice of political allegiance; three, that culturally specific and culturally competent academic work is needed in order to be persuasive; and four, that gender justice activism in religious domains demands multiple culturally appropriate tools and tactics. The contributors posited that all world religions carry their own seeds of positive change within. In John C. Raines’ words, “each of these religious traditions has a strong theory of social justice, and these resources can be harnessed to contemporary issues of gender. We ask, how can our Scriptures, how can our founding Prophets, how can our ancestors be used today to further justice in relations between genders?”
This essay offers resources from within medieval European Christianity in a feminist reading of the Christian dogma of hypostatic union, medieval political theory on royal twinning, and two medieval legends on the numinous double. Pulling these strands together as a feminist hermeneutics of double lives, I argue that the popular medieval story of a ninth century female Pope and the myth of a Fairy Lover have served to unhinge egemonic claims of male Christian superiority in the Middle Ages and in contemporary film today. As acts of subversive story telling or truth to be believed, the stories reconnoiter the possibility of a woman’s benevolent reign in the highest ecclesiastical office, and think up ingenious ways beyond institutional networks through which women might gain access to male dominated higher learning and a liberating sexuality. Safely positioned in part or in whole in the dreamlike realm of the numinous and supernatural, the narratives invite their audience to undo false consciousness. They insist that women deserve better and deserve more than what a misogynist status quo has to offer.
Next a series of links that vary in subject.
Hullabaloo– Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley – Dog days and ragnaroks, meaningless nouns
Orson Welles in F for Fake, 1973, three years after the Frozen Peas recording.
Hmmm, frozen peas, the woman in the next series of stories would know something about that.
We all joke about running away from the shit and starting our own little commune. The lost family in Siberia did just that…For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II | History | Smithsonian
The Siberian taiga in the Abakan district. Six members of the Lykov family lived in this remote wilderness for more than 40 years—utterly isolated and more than 150 miles from the nearest human settlement. (Wikicommons)
In 1978, Soviet geologists prospecting in the wilds of Siberia discovered a family of six, lost in the taiga
Karp Lykov and his daughter Agafia, wearing clothes donated by Soviet geologists not long after their family was rediscovered.
That article is from 2013, I was so fascinated, I looked for more information on the last living family member. A woman named, Agafia Lykova.
From the Siberian Times:
The kittens are survivors of a line of cats taken by the Lukov family into the remote forest when they fled from Stalin’s civilisation in the 1930s.
Agafya Lykova, pictured in the middle of eighties with father Karl, left, and Krasnoyarsk professor Nazarov
Agafya Lykova, 68, is the last surviving member of the family of Old Believers who were discovered by a Soviet geologist in 1978. They had cut themselves off from the outside world.
When they were discovered, the family comprised Karp Iosifovich (the head of the family), his sons Savvin, 45, and Dmitry, 36, and his daughters Natalya, 42, and Agafya, then 34. The children’s mother Akulina had died in 1961.
The three other children died in 1981 and Karp in 1988 since when Agafya has lived alone at the family’s smallholding in what is now Khakassky nature reserve.
Rangers from the reserve visited her in February and she asked them to take two kittens back to civilisation – in exchange for a goat and a rooster which they brought her. She had earlier asked for the new animals instead of a medal ‘For Belief and Kindness’ which Governor Aman Tuleyev of neighbouring Kemerovo region wanted to present her.
‘My old cock stopped crowing, please can I have a new one? Also my old goat died and I need another one. And another thing please can I have new boots. I am feeling well thank you, do say hello to governor Aman Tuleyev.’
The reserve press office said that ‘just before their departure, Agafya Lykova gave the reserve employees two kittens, a male and a female, and asked to give them into ‘good hands’.
Driven into the Siberian taiga by Stalin, she is the sole survivor of the Lykov family who cut themselves off from civilisation in 1936.
Photo of her hut:
Photo of Agafya:
The last article I could find was from January of this year: Emergency services arrive to save life of hermit Agafiya Lykova, Russia’s loneliest woman
Last week the recluse warned in a letter to a newspaper that her health was failing and she did not have enough logs for the winter.
‘I don’t know how God will help me survive the winter. There aren’t any logs. I need to get them into the house’, she warned.
After her plea, a helicopter with a doctor on board was sent to check the deeply religious hermit – and to bring her vital supplies. Meanwhile, a well-known Russian millionaire has offered to pay the salary of a helper to live with Agafya in her lonely vigil. German Sterligov, one of the first dollar millionaires as the Soviet Union collapsed, has promised a 40,000 rouble a month salary to a companion who will live with Agafya in the remotest house in Russia.
The helicopter brought fresh food, medicine and household items, and a doctor examined her but the woman – a devout Old Believer – refused his offer to be flown to hospital for treatment. The mercy mission was ordered by governor Viktor Zimin.
‘Nature reserve staff gathered food and other goods for Agafya,’ said a statement from the Emergencies Ministry in Khakassia, the Siberian republic where she lives. ‘They brought cereals and flour for her and cabbage and food for her goats. They also brought vegetables for planting, and in a month Agafya will start growing them at home.’
The team ‘carried logs from the forest closer to Agafya’s house. The logs were cut but it was hard for her to carry them every day.’
‘The doctor examined Agafiya and offered to take her to hospital for treatment. The 68 year old woman complained of headaches and other problems and needs detailed examination. But she absolutely refused to go. The doctor gave her some advice and left medicine.
There are photos and more curious tidbits of information about Agafya and her life at those links, so be sure to take a look.
I will end this post with a Book review from New York Times, a connection…from one forgotten Russian woman to another. ‘Kreutzer Sonata Variations’ Has a Scorned Wife’s Rebuttal
In her long and often turbulent marriage to Leo Tolstoy, Sophia Andreevna Tolstoy put up with a lot, but “The Kreutzer Sonata” qualified as special punishment. Published in 1889, the story presented Tolstoy’s increasingly radical views on sexual relations and marriage through a frenzied monologue delivered by a narrator who, in a fit of jealousy and disgust, murdered his wife.
In her diary, Sophia wrote: “I do not know how or why everyone connected ‘The Kreutzer Sonata’ with our own married life, but this is what has happened.” Members of the Tolstoy family circle and the czar himself had expressed pity for her, she complained. “And it isn’t just other people,” she added. “I, too, know in my heart that this story is directed against me, and that it has done me a great wrong, humiliated me in the eyes of the world and destroyed the last vestiges of love between us.”
Convinced that the story was “untrue in everything relating to a young woman’s experiences,” Sophia wrote two novellas setting forth her own views, “Whose Fault?” and “Song Without Words,” which both languished in the archives of the Tolstoy Museum until their recent rediscovery and publication in Russia. Michael R. Katz, a retired professor of Russian and Eastern European studies at Middlebury College, has translated both stories into English and included them in “The Kreutzer Sonata Variations,” coming from Yale University Press on Tuesday, adding to a flurry of recent work appraising Tolstoy’s wife as a figure in her own right.
Looks like something good…especially with those cooler days coming our way. (Hopefully.)
What is on your mind today? Let’s have it.