Sunday Reads: Typing an Artform?


Good Morning!

Well, after having a good evening, watching a couple of Italian films last night, Life is Beautiful and Miracle on Madonna Street, I have a few links for you this morning.

The New York Post has an article about the battles being fought in Africa: A Trail of Bullet Casings Leads From Africa’s Wars to Iran

The first clues appeared in Kenya, Uganda and what is now South Sudan. A British arms researcher surveying ammunition used by government forces and civilian militias in 2006 found Kalashnikov rifle cartridges he had not seen before. The ammunition bore no factory code, suggesting that its manufacturer hoped to avoid detection.

Within two years other researchers were finding identical cartridges circulating through the ethnic violence in Darfur. Similar ammunition then turned up in 2009 in a stadium in Conakry, Guinea, where soldiers had fired on antigovernment protesters, killing more than 150.

For six years, a group of independent arms-trafficking researchers worked to pin down the source of the mystery cartridges. Exchanging information from four continents, they concluded that someone had been quietly funneling rifle and machine-gun ammunition into regions of protracted conflict, and had managed to elude exposure for years. Their only goal was to solve the mystery, not implicate any specific nation.

When the investigators’ breakthrough came, it carried a surprise. The manufacturer was not one of Africa’s usual suspects. It was Iran.

Read the rest at the link, it is a long article.

In other news, this time out of Brazil: Fast New Test Could Find Leprosy Before Damage Is Lasting

A simple, fast and inexpensive new test for leprosy offers hope that, even in the poorest countries, victims can be found and cured before they become permanently disabled or disfigured like the shunned lepers of yore.

American researchers developed the test, and Brazil’s drug-regulatory agency registered it last month. A Brazilian diagnostics company, OrangeLife, will manufacture it on the understanding that the price will be $1 or less.

“This will bring leprosy management out of the Dark Ages,” said Dr. William Levis, who has treated leprosy patients at a Bellevue Hospital outpatient clinic for 30 years.


Even more important, he said, it is expected to detect infections as much as a year before symptoms appear. And the earlier treatment begins, the better the outcome. Leprosy is caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium leprae, related to the one that causes tuberculosis, but reproducing so slowly that symptoms often take seven years to appear.

This new test requires just a drop of blood and the results are given after only ten minutes.

The disease has historically been hard to diagnose, despite the popular, but inaccurate, image of fingers and toes dropping off victims. As the bacteria kill nerves, muscles atrophy and those digits curl into claws. After disuse and repeated injuries, the body reacts protectively by absorbing the bone calcium in the bones, shrinking the digits.

For centuries, some observant doctors have noticed early signs: the numb skin patches, missing eyebrows, drooping earlobes, bulging neck nerves, the flat “lion face” caused by nasal cartilage dissolving.

Since nothing could be done for them before the age of antibiotics, victims lost the use of their hands and had to beg. Some also went blind as the blinking muscles degenerated and their eyes dried out. In the Middle Ages, some towns banned lepers, while others required them to ring bells to warn of their approach. Religious charities created “leper colonies.”

And they still exist, even in the United States. A few elderly residents have chosen to stay on in Carville, La., and Kalaupapa, Hawaii, despite having been cured. Several thousand live at one in northeast Brazil, said John S. Spencer, a leprosy researcher at Colorado State University who has worked there. “People say things like ‘People outside won’t understand what’s wrong with my face,’ ” he said.

Nowadays, he said, most patients are cured before their faces are severely disfigured. Still, he said, he had read a survey in which health experts asked Brazilians whether they would rather have the human immunodeficiency virus or leprosy. Most chose H.I.V. — even though leprosy does not kill, can be cured, and does not make a victim risky to have sex with. “The stigma is that strong,” he said.

Wow.  Dr Lewis says he hopes the Brazilian test becomes available in the US so he can test the families of his patients. It takes many antibiotics given over 6 months to a year to cure the disease…these new test provide doctors with more time to could help diagnosis leprosy before permanent nerve damage is done.

I guess my PAD is getting the best of me, I just don’t have the energy to give you more than these…and instead of posting links to more of the same news, give a look at some of the artsy reads below.

With the Academy Awards later tonight, I have two links about film and films.

Two films on Israeli occupation in Oscar race

Hollywood is getting ready to hand out the industry’s most prestigious film awards: the Oscars.

Among the contenders for best documentary is a film directed by an Israeli, and another by a Palestinian.

Both the Israeli The Gatekeepers and Palestinian 5 Broken Cameras tell the same story, but from two quite different perspectives.

Video at the link, and…

For more of Al Jazeera’s extended interviews with Dror Moreh, the director of The Gatekeepers, and Emad Burnat, director of 5 Broken Cameras, click here. Q&A: Dror Moreh and Emad Burnat

Film is finished – this could be its last Oscars

Digital is taking over Hollywood, but celluloid’s fans intend to fight on

They are some of the most powerful people in one of the most powerful entertainment industries in the world. And when Hollywood’s grandest gather at tonight’s Oscars there will be no end of smiles and handshakes. But they are also fans, and like all fans, they are given to apparently arcane squabbles. The latest is whether films should be shot on, well, film.

Some of the most successful directors, such as James Cameron and George Lucas, are so obsessed with having the best special effects that they have spent millions embracing computer-generated imagery and abandoned 35mm film. Others, such as Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan, are wedded to traditional celluloid, which is becoming the film equivalent of the vinyl record.

Epics such as Les Misérables and Lincoln – both shot on 35mm – and digital creations such as Life of Pi have all made millions at the box office. While film buffs may talk about the “feel” of film, with all its subtleties, the reality is that pixilated perfection is winning – the whirring of 35mm film projectors silenced by the hum of digital machines.

Just take a look at the films nominated for best picture:

Although many love a sharp, digital picture with high definition, others prefer something a bit less “real”. The split among directors is highlighted in the nominations for Best Picture. Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln were shot on film. While Argo, Amour, Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty were shot on digital. As was The Hobbit nominated in three technical Oscar categories.

David O Russell, director of Silver Linings Playbook, said: “Maybe I’m old-fashioned, maybe I’m superstitious, maybe I’m romantic – I love film and it has a magic quality, it has a warmth. I may use digital cameras in a pinch because they are small and fast but I like film for its humaneness.” He is one of a number of directors determined to continue shooting on 35mm. Another is Nolan, who made the Dark Knight trilogy: “I am now constantly asked to justify why I want to shoot a film on film,” he said. Nolan likens digital to an “amazing” cookie until you realise “this is some horrible chemical crap that’s giving you this bad illusion that fools you at first.”

You can read more about what actors, cinematographers and directors think about digital vs film at the link up top.  I tend to agree with the folks who love film…and think that digital sucks.

Another archaic form of technology that gets lost in this day in age is the typewriter. Take this woman’s use of the typewriter:

Keira Rathbone’s Incredible Typewriter Art

As romantic as the idea of working on a typewriter now seems, in reality they’re rather clunky and temperamental things. Writing with one would probably take us an age – and if we made a mistake? Well, forget it.

So imagine trying to draw with one.

London based artist Keira Rathbone, originally from Dorset, does exactly that; clustering together marks made by letters, numbers and symbols, to make brilliant, one-off images.

Keira Rathbone Makes Art At The Stroke Of A Key (PHOTOS)

The English artist clusters letters, numbers and symbols from a typewriter keyboard to composite images; from portraits of friends and celebrities to landscapes and still life. A closer look at what looks like a sketch of Wimborne Minster, a church in East Dorset, England, reveals swirls of ampersands and the ticks of quotations marks.


Watch the video below to see the artist at work, and click through the slideshow to see examples of her typewriter art. Visit for more examples of her work.


Be sure to take a look at the pictures, Rathone’s art is impressive…

Another obsolete form of technology is shown below…Keypunch Orchestra: 1937 | Shorpy Historical Photo Archive


June 1937. “Baltimore, Maryland. For every Social Security account number issued an ’employee master card’ is made in the Social Security board records office. Testifying data, given on the application blank form SS-5, is transferred to this master card in the form of upended quadrangular holes, punched by key punch machines, which have a keyboard like a typewriter. Each key struck by an operator causes a hole to be punched in the card. The position of a hole determines the letter or number other machines will reproduce from the master card. From this master card is made an actuarial card, to be used later for statistical purposes. The master card also is used in other machines which sort them numerically, according to account numbers, alphabetically according to the name code, translate the holes into numbers and letters, and print the data on individual ledger sheets, indexes, registry of accounts and other uses. The photograph above shows records office workers punching master cards on key punch machines.” Whew. Longest caption ever? Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.

That is all I have for you this morning. Hope you all enjoy your Sunday, see ya later on tonight…should be quite a show.

So what are you all reading and blogging about today?

SDB Evening News Reads for 062311: Silicone Domes, Women’s Rights and Dinosaur Thermometers

Yuk, today is just one of those days that can make one want to stay in bed.  Overcast and damp.  I was originally going to post lighthearted news today, but then a few press releases from Amnesty International came through my reader. Let’s just say that I had to revise my links.

First the press release about Ivory Coast:  Côte d’Ivoire: ICC investigation must not exclude serious crimes | Amnesty International

A proposed International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into Côte d’Ivoire must be expanded to cover serious human rights violations committed since 2002, Amnesty International said today.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested an investigation today into crimes against humanity and war crimes committed after a disputed presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire in November 2010. The ICC judges have yet to open the investigation.

“It’s a positive step for the ICC to focus on serious human rights abuses in Côte d’Ivoire, but limiting it to the recent post-election violence would deny justice to hundreds of women who suffered rape and other sexual violence since 2002,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director.

So, over a decade of documented violations against human rights from both sides, primarily abuses of rape and other sexual offences against women and girls, will not be address by the ICC.

“If the Court proceeds with an investigation into only the most recent crimes, the vast majority of victims will find neither justice, nor truth nor reparations. Their rights must not be denied by arbitrary limits,” said Erwin van der Borght.

All those victims…again becoming victims of the ICC’s decision not to investigate the horrible assaults to their human rights. It is very upsetting.

The second press release from Amnesty International is about another large amount of rapes systematically used as a weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  You may remember the mass rapes that occurred back in January of this year. New mass rapes in DRC are result of horrific failure of justice | Amnesty International

New mass rapes by members of the Congolese army in the Democratic Republic of Congo are the result of the government’s failure to bring human rights abusers to justice, Amnesty International said today.

New reports have emerged that fighters of a former armed group integrated into the Congolese army deserted from an army training camp and raped possibly up to 100 women, in an attack on the village of Nyakiele near Fizi town in the east of the country, on the night of 11 June.

Members of this armed group were previously implicated in mass rape in the same area in January 2011.

“The inability of the Democratic Republic of Congo to bring to justice members of its own army and armed groups for crimes under international law, has fostered a culture of impunity, leading to attack after attack against civilians,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Director for Africa.

Guardian has an article about these new charges:  Congo rebels accused of mass rape | World news | The Guardian

The attacks have been blamed on a group of up to 200 former rebels who had been integrated in the Congolese army before deserting earlier this month, the UN-backed Radio Okapi said.

In February, nine soldiers from the same army unit were convicted of raping more than 60 women in Fizi on New Year’s Day.

A provincial parliamentarian, Jean Marie Ngoma, told Radio Okapi that at least 60 women had been raped in the latest attack, a figure Hunter said “was not an exaggeration” based on her team’s observations.

Ngoma alleged that the raid was committed by former fighters from the Pareco rebel group, under the command of Colonel Kifaru Niragiye, all of whom deserted the Congolese army earlier this month in protest against changes in the local military command.


Kifaru was the commander of the local military sector when the New Year’s Day rapes occurred in Fizi.

His deputy, Lieutenant-Colonel Kibibi Mutware, was found guilty of crimes against humanity related to the attack and sentenced to 20 years in jail.

Has the use of rape as a weapon of war become part of the culture in the armies of countries in West Central Africa?  In so much that rape is as common as other forms of weapons, like AK 47s. It just seems to me that the authorities do not recognize this horrible form of torture as a war crime. It is very distressing.

Meanwhile, women are still trying to get basic rights here in the US.  Here is a link and quote from Tennessee Guerilla Women: If the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Was About Race (Men)

“Here’s the text of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment, Section 1: ‘Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.’ Replace the word “sex” with “race,” and there would not be a single dissenting vote in the entire Congress. It’s as simple as that. Let’s pass the ERA once and for all.”

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), 6/22/11

Democrats Reintroduce Equal Rights Amendment Following Walmart Ruling

Moving on to another issue that is important to women:  FDA Insists Silicone Breast Implants Are Safe-ish

In 1992, the FDA banned silicone breast implants over claims that they caused various illnesses, including lupus, cancer, and arthritis. Five years ago, the agency decided to let them back on the market and now they’ve declared they were right to do so — even though critics say there isn’t enough research to prove they’re safe.

The L.A. Times reports that the FDA announced silicone implants have a “reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness,” based on research by Allergan and Mentor, which manufacture the implants. Supposedly the data shows that silicone implants are not linked to breast cancer, connective tissue disease or infertility.

The studies don’t exactly inspire confidence.


The FDA said in its analysis that, “despite frequent local complications and adverse outcomes, the benefits and risks of breast implants are sufficiently well understood for women to make well informed decisions about their use.” It’s obvious that jamming foreign objects into your chest may lead to some complications, but it’s frustrating that the FDA can’t present solid, independent research on precisely what the risks are.

My guess is that if the FDA was studying claims of serious side effects in Penile Implants, they would be able to tell for certain what those risk are.

Anyone ever have problems with a diet that starts with a fast or extreme cut back in calories?  Obese dieters’ brain chemistry works against their weight-loss efforts.

If you’ve been trying to lose weight and suspect your body’s working against you, you may be right, according to a University of Illinois study published in Obesity.

“When obese persons reduce their food intake too drastically, their bodies appear to resist their weight loss efforts. They may have to work harder and go slower in order to outsmart their brain chemistry,” said Gregory G. Freund, a professor in the U of I College of Medicine and a member of U of I’s Division of Nutritional Sciences.

He particularly cautions against beginning a diet with a fast or cleansing day, which appears to trigger significant alterations in the immune system that work against weight loss. “Take smaller steps to start your weight loss and keep it going,” he said.

In other scientific news today, Body temperatures of dinosaurs measured for first time: Some dinosaurs were as warm as most modern mammals.

Were dinosaurs slow and lumbering, or quick and agile? It depends largely on whether they were cold or warm blooded. When dinosaurs were first discovered in the mid-19th century, paleontologists thought they were plodding beasts that had to rely on their environments to keep warm, like modern-day reptiles. But research during the last few decades suggests that they were faster creatures, nimble like the velociraptors or T. rex depicted in the movie Jurassic Park, requiring warmer, regulated body temperatures like in mammals.


By analyzing isotopic concentrations in teeth of sauropods, the long-tailed, long-necked dinosaurs that were the biggest land animals to have ever lived — think Apatosaurus (also known as Brontosaurus) — the team found that the dinosaurs were about as warm as most modern mammals.

“This is like being able to stick a thermometer in an animal that has been extinct for 150 million years,” says Robert Eagle, a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech and lead author on the paper to be published online in the June 23 issue of Science Express.

I don’t know, like I said earlier, my mind is a bit off today. Just imagine the size of a rectal thermometer needed to take a T. rex temperature…;)

Wednesday Reads: OBL, Twisters and Homeless Kids


Good morning! I am very happy …I am writing this post on my new laptop. Thanks again for this gift, buying a new laptop is something that was completely and utterly impossible for me to do on my own.

Starting Monday next week I will begin posting Evening Reads, every weekday (Monday-Friday) at 6 PM EST. They will be something like our Morning Reads, sort of a quick round-up of news links and commentary that have happened during the day while many readers were at work. You can come to Sky Dancing and get your newsy fix every morning with our Morning Reads.  Then get caught up on the day’s news every evening Monday through Friday with our Evening Reads.

So, let’s get to this morning’s round-up.

With OBL taking up most of the headlines, I thought I would post this link from MoJo.  It has done the work for us…Bin Laden Reading Guide: How to Cut Through the Coverage | Mother Jones

Elsewhere in Mother Jones, David Corn analyzes the political gamble Obama took in authorizing the attack, Dave Gilson breaks down the numbers behind the most expensive manhunt in history, and Josh Harkinson rounds up ten ways the right is spinning bin Laden’s death. Adam Weinstein reports on the reactions of bin Laden’s supporters as well as active-duty soldiers, Stephanie Mencimer checks in on the tea party, and Mike Mechanic pulls together a slideshow of major daily front pages.

The death of Osama bin Laden has sent news organizations scrambling for details on how it happened, where it happened, and what it all means. We’ve rounded up some of the best coverage, being careful to note what’s been said, what’s already being disputed, and what still remains to be seen.

So if you want a pretty good summary of what the media has been reporting about OBL, then click that link above for the rest of the MoJo article.

Pannetta is making the rounds, and here are some of his comments and statements.

From Taylor Marsh – – News, Opinion and Weblog on Progressive Politics

The White House has done an edit on their original story due to “fresh” information, saying Osama bin Laden’s wife wasn’t killed, but also that he wasn’t armed, even though he “resisted.” As Jay Carney said today, “resistance does not require a firearm.”

CIA Director Panetta’s first interview was with PBS News Hour, with Jim Lehrer.

Panetta: President Obama Couldn’t See Bin Laden’s Death, but Received ‘Geronimo’ Signal | The Rundown News Blog | PBS NewsHour | PBS

In a newsmaker interview with Jim Lehrer on Tuesday, CIA Director Leon Panetta describes the final tense seconds of the commando raid on the compound housing Osama bin Laden in Pakistan — and the culmination of a nearly 10-year manhunt.

Panetta told Lehrer neither he nor President Obama watched the actual shooting of bin Laden as it happened. Panetta spoke from CIA headquarters about the military intelligence operation that led to the al Qaeda leader’s death.

“Once those teams went into the compound, I can tell you that there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes that we really didn’t know just exactly what was going on. There were some very tense moments as we were waiting for information. But finally Adm. [William] McRaven came back and said he had picked up the word ‘Geronimo,’ which was the code word that represented they got bin Laden,” he said.

When Lehrer asked if bin Laden said anything to the commandos, Panetta said: “To be frank, I don’t think he had a lot of time to say anything.”

Lehrer also asked about the uncertainty surrounding whether bin Laden was actually in the compound and whether he fired back at the Navy SEALS.

What do you think of this statement: Panetta said: “To be frank, I don’t think he had a lot of time to say anything.”

So he did not have any weapons….and he did not have time to say anything…hum? But he resisted? Don’t get me wrong, I am glad he is gone. (Really glad.) However, the latest revisions of the raid are a bit concerning to me.

There are a lot of questions about if this raid was “legal”  and this article from Der Spiegel ask some important questions.

Justice, American Style: Was Bin Laden’s Killing Legal? – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

Americans are celebrating, but there are serious doubts about whether the targeted killing was legal under international law and the laws of war.

US President Barack Obama gets precious few opportunities to announce a victory. So it’s no wonder he chose grand words on Sunday night as the TV crews’ spotlights shone upon him and he informed the nation about the deadly strike against Osama bin Laden. “Justice has been done,” he said.

It may be that this sentence comes back to haunt him in the years to come. What is just about killing a feared terrorist in his home in the middle of Pakistan? For the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks, and for patriotic Americans who saw their grand nation challenged by a band of criminals, the answer might be simple. But international law experts, who have been grappling with the question of the legal status of the US-led war on terror for years, find Obama’s pithy words on Sunday night more problematic.

Please read the entire article and let me know what you think about it in the comments…

Here is some reaction to OBL’s death from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Sticks With Bin Laden – Eric Trager – International – The Atlantic

Most of yesterday’s headlines proclaiming the death of Osama bin Laden used epithets like “terror mastermind” or “bastard” to refer to the internationally feared mass murderer. (That latter headline is from the New York Post.) But in its first public statement on the killing of bin Laden, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood used the honorific term “sheikh” to refer to the al-Qaeda leader. It also accused Western governments of linking Islam and terrorism, and defended “resistance” against the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan as “legitimate.”

Osama Bin Laden

The Muslim Brotherhood’s response to bin Laden’s death may finally end the mythology — espoused frequently in the U.S. — that the organization is moderate or, at the very least, could moderate once in power. This is, after all, precisely how Muslim Brothers describe their creed — “moderate,” as opposed to al-Qaeda, which is radical. “Moderate Islam means not using violence, denouncing terrorism, and not working with jihadists,” said Muslim Brotherhood youth activist Khaled Hamza, for whom the organization’s embrace of “moderate Islam” was the primary reason he joined.


Now in their most recent statement on the death of bin Laden, the Muslim Brotherhood has gone a step further. “The whole world, and especially the Muslims, have lived with a fierce media campaign to brand Islam as terrorism and describe the Muslims as violent by blaming the September 11th incident on al-Qaeda.” It then notes that “Sheikh Osama bin Laden” was assassinated alongside “a woman and one of his sons and with a number of his companions,” going on to issue a rejection of violence and assassinations. It goes on to ominously declare that the Muslim Brotherhood supports “legitimate resistance against foreign occupation for any country, which is the legitimate right guaranteed by divine laws and international agreements,” and demands that the U.S., the European Union, and NATO quickly “end the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.” It closes by demanding that the U.S. “stop its intelligence operations against those who differ with it, and cease its interference in the internal affairs of any Arab or Muslim country.”

I already question the Muslim Brotherhood’s representation of women…or should I say lack of representation of women. What do you think about this public statement? Here is Juan Cole’s comment about it:

The Muslim World Sounds off on Bin Laden’s Demise | Informed Comment

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said that Bin Laden was not representative of Islam and they condemned his methods. On the other hand, they objected to his having been killed rather than captured for trial.

Both the Brotherhood and Iran said that with Bin Laden’s death, the US had no reason to remain in Iraq and Afghanistan and should withdraw. The Iranian Shiite regime despises al-Qaeda, and the feeling is mutual, but is wary of the US military presence on either side of it.

Bin Laden’s passing is, then, an anti-climax. A nothing. Terrorism is just garbage, and produces nothing but garbage. It has mostly been taken out, with nothing but the stench hanging in the air. Most Muslims have moved on. So should Americans.

In fact, Americans should mark these days as an opportunity to recover our lost civil liberties.

Okay…I am moving on to other world news.  Syria, which has again violated it’s citizens human rights…Syria charges hundreds with degrading the state | Reuters

Hundreds of ordinary Syrians have been charged with “degrading the prestige of the state,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, in President Bashar al-Assad’s drive to crush protests against his autocratic rule.

The charge, which carries a 3-year prison sentence, was lodged on Tuesday against hundreds of people detained in the last few days, particularly in the run-up to Friday prayers, which have seen increasingly large pro-democracy demonstrations.

“Mass arrests are continuing across Syria in another violation of human rights and international conventions,” said Observatory director Rami Abdelrahman.

Other rights organizations said many male detainees had been beaten severely in a campaign of arrests that included women, teenagers and the elderly but has failed to deter protesters’ appetite for reforms. Syria already has thousands of political prisoners.

 More killing in the Ivory Coast:   ‘Dozens killed’ in Ivory Coast clashes – Africa – Al Jazeera English

Dozens of people have reportedly been killed in the main city of Abidjan in fighting between Ivory Coast troops and the remnants of a militia loyal to deposed leader Laurent Gbagbo.

“We have seen many dead. We recovered 40 bodies over two hours, but we were forced to stop because he had no room left in our van,” said Franck Kodjo, an official at the International Committee of the Red Cross, adding at least five corpses were from Tuesday’s fighting.

A commander for the Ivorian army, known as the FRCI, said the remaining pro-Gbagbo fighters in the Abidjan neighbourhood of Yopougon were mostly Liberian mercenaries hired in the aftermath of the November election dispute.

“We are in the process of securing the town but there are heavy weapons,” the commander said. “We’re not the ones firing them, it is those we oppose, the Liberians,” he said.

According to the UN: Libyan refugee crisis worsening – Africa – Al Jazeera English

The UN has said that almost 40,000 people have fled fighting in Libya’s Western Mountains region in the past month.

Thousands of ethnic Berbers from Libya fled into Tunisia after a brief hiatus in their exodus last week because of fighting between Libyan government troops and opposition forces for control of a border crossing point.

“This past weekend, more than 8,000 people, most of them ethnic Berbers, arrived in Dehiba in southern Tunisia. Most are women and children,” a UNHCR spokesperson said on Tuesday.

UNHCR staff in Dehiba said the situation of the refugees was being made worse by a violent sandstorm that has battered the area, destroying hundreds of tents and two huge portable warehouses.

Here is some US news that may have gotten lost these past couple days.

Dakinikat sent me this link last night, the only thing I can say about it is this…those damn freakin’ PLUBs! Texas Legislature: If Planned Parenthood Sues We’ll Take Everyone’s Family Planning Money | RH Reality Check

The Texas legislature is quite literally holding poor women hostage in order to defund Planned Parenthood. The have now introduced a bill that will shut down the entirety of the state’s low income women’s health care and family planning program if Planned Parenthood or any other group that provides abortions sues and wins a ruling saying they should be a part of it.

The Houston Chronicle reports:

Texas lawmakers inserted a poison bill into a women’s health program Tuesday in a move designed to ensure that groups like Planned Parenthood do not receive state funding.

Legislation that would renew a program to help poor women now has a provision that would shut it down immediately if a group that provides abortions files and wins a lawsuit to participate in the program. The Senate Health and Human Services approved the measure 5-1.

Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, said the move was necessary to make sure that no organization that provides abortions will receive any state money to provide any kind of health service.

“The legislature has clearly tried to cut off funding for these entities, only to have it restored by lawsuit,” Deuell said. “We do not want this to happen again … if abortion providers are able to sue and win — they have to win the suit — the program will cease to operate.”

Even better, almost all of the funding for the program that would be eliminated comes from the federal government, not the state. But they would rather toss it all out, and leave poor women without any health care, and especially birth control, if not doing so means Planned Parenthood might get a dollar of it.

The recent outbreak of tornadoes is officially in the record books. Deadly Tornado Outbreak Biggest in U.S. History – Truthdig

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service have reported that the spate of tornadoes that tore across the American South last week, killing hundreds of people and wrecking much of the region, was the largest in U.S. history. —ARK


The three-day period from 25-28 April saw 362 tornadoes strike, including some 312 in a single 24-hour period.

The previous record was 148 in two days in April 1974.

The tornadoes and the storm system that spawned them killed at least 350 people in Alabama and six other states. It was the deadliest outbreak since 1936.

Can you believe that…312 tornadoes in a single 24 hour period. Wow.  My dad found some ripped up tar paper around our house this week, and no one is getting a new roof around here.  He is convinced it is debris from the tornadoes that hit Northwest and Northeast Georgia.

This next link reminded me of all the funerals after September 11th…I cannot even imagine what these communities are going through. After deadly twisters, towns cope with multiple funerals | Reuters

As state officials continue to count the dead, the recovery effort for friends and relatives must include the painful task of burying them. Nearly 350 people died in seven states last week, the second-highest recorded death toll from tornadoes in U.S. history.

Some people have insurance to cover funeral costs, while others have turned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help, said Paul Rollins, Jr., a funeral director at Rollins Mortuary in Tuscaloosa.

This last link is something from a couple days ago. With all the hype over the bin Laden raid and death, and the fact that we still have a major problem with our economy, I thought it illustrated a point very well. Yglesias » Orlando Fact Of The Day

Michael Winerip in the NYT: “There are 2,953 homeless students attending Orange County Public Schools, up from 1,463 in 2008.”

A reminder that you don’t win the future by allowing sky-high unemployment to persist for years.

So what are you reading today?

Wednesday Reads: Equal Pay Day

Morning everyone, today is Equal Pay Day. Yes, it is something we feel strongly about here at Sky Dancing. I mean, getting paid equally will only help us down the line when we need to stock up on that catfood. Anyone else find it ironic that Obama is going to give a speech today which will probably be the final nail in the poor/middle class coffin. There are lots going on so here are some links for you to get to it.

First off, for more information on just how far we have not come, just let your index finger go to work:

Equal Pay Day –  This website is the official site of the NCPE, National Committee on Pay Equality.

Women Deserve Equal Pay –  This is the days page on the NOW website. According to Now:

Facts About Pay Equity

  • In 2007, women’s median annual paychecks reflected only 78 cents for every $1.00 earned by men. Specifically for women of color, the gap is even wider: In comparison to men’s dollar, African American women earn only 69 cents and Latinas just 59 cents. 1
  • In 1963, when the Equal Pay Act was passed, full-time working women were paid 59 cents on average for every dollar paid to men. This means it took 44 years for the wage gap to close just 19 cents — a rate of less than half a penny a year. This narrowing of the gap has slowed down over the last six years, with women gaining a mere two cents since 2001. 2
  • Women’s median pay was less than men’s in each and every one of the 20 industries and 25 occupation groups surveyed by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2007.3 Even men working in female-dominated occupations tend to earn more than women working in those same occupations.4
  • According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), if equal pay for women were instituted immediately, across the board, it would result in an annual $319 billion gain nationally for women and their families (in 2008 dollars). Over her working life, a typical woman could expect to gain a total of $210,000 in additional income if equal pay were the norm (these numbers include part-time workers).5
  • When The WAGE Project looked exclusively at full-time workers, they estimated that women with a high school diploma lose as much as $700,000 over a lifetime of work, women with a college degree lose $1.2 million and professional school graduates may lose up to $2 million.6 Not only are these inequities enormously detrimental to women and their families, wage inequities follow women into their retirement years, reducing their Social Security benefits, pensions, savings and other financial resources.
  • A study by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) examined how the wage gap affects college graduates. Wage disparities kick in shortly after college graduation, when women and men should, absent discrimination, be on a level playing field. One year after graduating college, women are paid on average only 80 percent of their male counterparts’ wages, and during the next 10 years, women’s wages fall even further behind, dropping to only 69 percent of men’s earnings ten years after college. According to the AAUW report, even after “[c]ontrolling for hours, occupation, parenthood, and other factors normally associated with pay, college-educated women still earn less than their male peers earn. . . . A large portion of the gender pay gap is not explained by women’s choices or characteristics.7
  • Women still are segregated into “pink-collar” jobs that affect their wages, according to an AAUW report. Their analysis of Department of Education data found women “overwhelmingly clustered in low-wage, low-skill fields.” For example, the report showed women comprising 87 percent of workers in the child care industry and 86 percent of the health aide industry.8
  • A far greater proportion of women cut back or interrupt time in the paid workforce to deal with family responsibilities. Over a 15-year period, “the more likely a woman is to have dependent children and be married, the more likely she is to be a low earner and have fewer hours in the labor market. The opposite holds true for men: marriage and dependent children make it much more likely that a man has higher earnings and works longer hours,” according to IWPR.9
  • Time out of the workforce can directly impact women’s earning potential. AAUW reports that “Women who are not working . . . can be expected to have lower wages when they return to the labor market . . . Research shows that mothers who maintain employment after childbirth have higher earnings than do mothers who leave the work force.”10
  • It is important to note that women’s choices regarding work are not made in a vacuum. Factors that impact women’s decisions include: workplace discrimination, either experienced or anticipated; a lack of women-friendly policies and resources in the workplace; persistent stereotypes that steer women and men toward different education, training and career paths; different societal expectations for wives compared to husbands and mothers compared to fathers; and myriad forms of sexism, both subtle and blatant.

Presidential Proclamation–National Equal Pay Day | The White House –  This is a self-explanatory link…

Marlo Thomas: Another Equal Pay Day? Really? –  That Girl wrote this article for Huffington Post. Ms. Thomas writes:

If one more person points to Meg Whitman or Arianna Huffington as proof of women’s earning power, I’m going to scream. That’s like saying Tiger Woods and Will Smith are slam-dunk proof that black Americans have broken into the ranks of the über-rich.

2011-04-09-59Cent.jpgWhich brings us to National Equal Pay Day. I can’t believe we’re having another one. I still have my little green button from 1970 — with “59¢” emblazoned on it — tacked to my bulletin board. I remember how we all wore that button on our t-shirts as we marched to protest the gender pay disparity of that time. Now we’re at 77 cents.

Forty years and 18 cents. A dozen eggs has gone up 10 times that amount.

There are people who undermine the pay gap by citing the women who make 98 cents on every dollar a man makes. But this is an elite group. According to the National Women’s Law Center, the vast majority of American women — working “full-time, year-round” — are still stuck in that shameful 77-cent zone. The gap, says the National Women’s Law Center, translates into “$10,622 less per year in female median earnings.” Those are real dollars that could cover real expenses — like food and school and clothes and health care and childcare.

I don’t understand why there is still a disparity between pay for a man and a woman of equal experience. Then I stop a moment and think about the current attitude toward women in general, and I realize that there will probably never be equality. As long as men, and other women for that matter, continue to impose their own beliefs on women because they feel women are too stupid to make up their own mind. I posted this link yesterday but I feel it deserves some more attention.

Ron Paul, the conservative congressman from Texas known for his small-government beliefs rooted in Libertarianism, told an audience Monday in Iowa that government should dictate what happens in the womb of pregnant women.

Speaking at the Iowa Family Leader’s presidential lecture series in Sioux City, Paul, an obstetrician and a Christian, explained that he disagreed with the popular belief that to be a Libertarian means having a laissez faire attitude of “it’s the woman’s body; she can do whatever she wants.”

“Life comes from our creator, not our government,” Politico reported Paul as saying. “Liberty comes from our creator, not from government. Therefore, the purpose, if there is to be a purpose, for government is to protect life and liberty.”

If a “libertarian” freak says something like this, women’s rights are really down the toilet. I mean, doesn’t this stance, “government should dictate” completely go against the Libertarian core principles? Geez…Paul goes on to say:

“As much as I talk about economic liberties, and civil liberties and trying to avoid the killing overseas, I think the issue of life is paramount.”

I guess economic liberties and civil liberties are not something the female sex is worthy of.

Okay, on with the rest of the day’s reads….First there is this image:

A woman holding a baby walks past soldiers in the Ivory Coast as they stare her down.

This image is very creepy to me, the expression on the woman’s face…and the attitude of the soldiers as she passes by.  Click on this link here to get some more information on conditions in Côte d’Ivoire from Amnesty International.

I have some other links for you today on women’s issues.

I don’t know why Pence keeps on spreading this crap that federal dollars go toward funding abortions… Mike Pence: Planned Parenthood doesn’t need federal dollars – Sarah Kliff –

Pence introduced the budget amendment to defund Planned Parenthood and is also pursuing standalone legislation that would strip abortion providers of Title X funding.

Pence has stood firm against a budget that funds Planned Parenthood, pushing back against reports last week that he would consider supporting a bill that allowed the group to receive federal funds.

“Why would I fight for it?” Pence told ABC’s “Topline” last week. “Let me explain. I’m pro-life. I don’t apologize for it. I also think it’s morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use [them] to fund abortion providers.”

Here is another article from Sarah Kliff: Fight stokes Planned Parenthood – Sarah Kliff –

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, speaks at a

Republicans’ budget ‘really connected the personal with the political,’ Cecile Richards says. | Reuters

Online gifts to Planned Parenthood have surged by 500 percent since Republicans passed a budget amendment stripping the group of its federal funding.

NARAL Pro-Choice America’s email activist list grew by 1,000 subscribers per day at the height of the budget debate.


With the budget battle putting women’s health issues front and center, reproductive health groups tell POLITICO they’ve seen an unprecedented surge in activism at a time when many supporters had grown complacent, less fazed by legislative threats now that a president who supports abortion rights is at the helm.

Really, a president that supports abortion rights? Did he not cave on the issue of abortion in D.C.? If a Mayor and other city reps will get arrested to protest the kind of support Obama gave the women of Washington DC, then I can safely say this president does not totally support women’s rights.

More from the link:

To be sure, abortion rights advocates did not score a complete win as Obama reinstated a provision that prevents the District of Columbia from spending local tax dollars on abortion services. The president had lifted the ban shortly after taking office.

But in interviews with POLITICO, leaders of top reproductive health groups said this battle was a near 180-degree turn from their lobbying experience during health reform, with a surge in activism and financial support.

Hey, you can’t be almost pregnant….and you can’t claim a success when you don’t score a complete win…I call BS on this article from Politico and the author Sarah Kliff. I do however agree with one thing Kliff said in the article, and I have emphasized it below in bold.

“If the federal budget proposal had simply said, ‘We’re going to eliminate family planning funding,’ I don’t think people would have been as concerned,” said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. “But they literally went after Planned Parenthood. For the first time, I think, the next generation of pro-choice women and men saw that the attack was real. It would affect their lives. It wasn’t hypothetical like last year’s debate; it really connected the personal with the political.”


Planned Parenthood’s Facebook fans surged 992 percent after the House approved the budget amendment to defund the group in mid-February. More than 810,000 supporters signed its petition denouncing the amendment — more than half of them new users who had never been active with Planned Parenthood prior to the budget debate. The social media activity also drove Planned Parenthood’s surge in online donations.

When Planned Parenthood hit Capitol Hill in the final days of the budget debate, it handed out copies of “Stories From Home,” a newly compiled book of supporters’ stories selected from more than 7,000 personal narratives submitted online. Stories came from all 50 states.

“I have pages and pages of women saying Planned Parenthood found early-stage cervical cancer, and they got me to a doctor,” Richards said. “This is not an imaginary issue. It’s real. It’s 7,000 stories, and that is very poignant.”

The challenge now will be to keep a wave of new supporters engaged as the budget threat recedes into the background. Abortion rights groups have often had difficulty engaging younger voters, who have grown up after the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade and have never known a country in which abortion is illegal.

That really is the important thing to take away from this recent “fight” over funding for Planned Parenthood.  People must continue to be engaged in the religious rights war against women…the younger generation has to find their voice in defending the rights women do have. Take a cue from the mama’s of my generation, Dakinikat’s generation and Boston Boomer’s generation…it takes work to fight the PLUBs organized and systematic war on women…but it needs to be done. No doubt about it.

It looks like Jon Stewart is at it yet again: Jon Stewart Rips Sen. Jon Kyl For Lying About Planned Parenthood (VIDEO)

On Monday night’s “Daily Show,” Jon Stewart picked up where he left off last Thursday: the (narrowly avoided) government shutdown over budget cuts.

One of the biggest points of contention, federal funding for Planned Parenthood, was the item that got Stewart the most frustrated. Despite the fact that federal money already cannot be used for abortion services at the women’s health clinics, Republicans used abortion as the primary reason they wanted funding taken away. On top of that, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl made false statements that abortions make up “well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does.”

“I’d love to see that statistic checked by, uhh… Anyone,” Stewart said.

The reality is that abortions make up closer to 3% of what Planned Parenthood does. So why did Kyl say 90 perent? CNN got a hold of him and relayed his response: apparently it was “not intended to be a factual statement” and was supposed to merely illustrate that Planned Parenthood subsidizes abortions.

“So if I was to say that Jon Kyl spends 90 percent of his time in the Senate drooling and farting…” Stewart began.

Watch the full segment below, and click over to the “Daily Show” website to watch Wyatt Cynac’s follow-up analysis.

This next link has an error on the date of Equal Pay Day, just ignore it… ACTION ALERT! Tell the Wall Street Journal you Demand Balanced Coverage of the Wage Gap! – blog

As many of you know, today is Equal Pay Day. April 12 symbolizes how far into 2011 women must work to earn what men did in 2010 in the US. Today, the Paycheck Fairness Act is also being reintroduced by Senator Barbara Mikulski and Representative Rosa L. DeLauro in the U.S Senate, and media outlets across the nation are covering the wage gap.

The wage gap was recently recalculated by the United States Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showing that women still earn 77 cents for every dollar that men earn. Then why did the Wall Street Journal choose to run this anti-fair pay Op Ed by Carrie Lukas against fair pay for equal work on their Editorial Page, without at least running a balanced opinion piece along side by anyone on the National Committee on Pay Equity  – ON EQUAL PAY DAY!?

From Happy Equal Pay Day! Today You Have Now Earned As Much As a Man Did Last Year

Spring is here, the snow has melted, flowers are blooming and women just today have finally earned as much as their male counterparts did by December 31, 2010.

Yes, it’s Equal Pay Day, the day it takes for women to finally earn as much as men earned in one calendar year.  And after all, it only took an extra 15 weeks to get there.

Ms. Magazine celebrates the day with the top four myths about women and pay and why they are completely wrong.  From declaring women make less because they choose more flexible careers so they can be with their families to stating that the gender wage gap is over and done with, Ms. breaks down each myth, including the most recent new tale — the recession actually hurt men more than women.

The recent economic recession was dubbed a “mancession” because the male-dominated construction industry took the first major blow. But now it’s women’s jobs that are disproportionately on the line as cuts to professions such as education and nursing are becoming more frequent. Even as the unemployment rate has dropped again, to 8.8 percent for the general public, it’s still 12.3 percent for women who maintain families.

Women are also less likely to have jobs that come with important fringe benefits such as paid sick days and employer-sponsored retirement benefits. Without such benefits, women’s ability to save money for a rainy day is hindered, leaving them more economically vulnerable when they lose their jobs.

This next one pissed me off: Pre-Owned Vehicle = Non-Virgin Woman? | Mother Jones

Oh dear. Another day, another questionable advertising decision. Via Sociological Images, this Canadian ad for used cars compares them to women who aren’t virgins. “You know you’re not the first” the ad reads. “But do you really care?” The message seems to be it’s okay for cars to be used (and for women to have more than one lover) if they’re very aesthetically pleasing.

Oy. Firstly, it’s a bit sexist to assume every man wants to be a woman’s first. Virginal sex can = awkward sex. Secondly, naturally women are being judged on their “number” and not men. Thirdly, just because it looks good on the outside doesn’t mean there’s nothing wrong under the hood, so to speak. (Side note: during a routine HIV test, I once had a nurse tell me I was the “perfect” vehicle to transmit the virus because I was so “clean” and “wholesome”.) And finally, why? Just… why? I don’t understand how these things actually make it to print without someone saying along the way, “Hey, maybe we should rethink this because it could turn off half of our customer base.”

I love what Jen Phillips says at the end of her article:

Hot Deals, Cool Wheels!” Okay, okay, I get the idea of describing cars like women, but the ad seems to take it a tad too far. “She’s a beaut!” is quite a bit different from “She’s not a virgin, but she still looks great! How much do you want to pay for her?”

This next link is from New Deal 2.0: Created Equal? Founding Era Tensions on Economic Fairness » New Deal 2.0 Here is a bit:

In 1776, rowdy Democrats fought for equality. But their notions didn’t suit early elites.
“All men are created equal,” the Continental Congress famously announced in the document that came to be known as the Declaration of Independence. These are powerful words — and reflecting on America’s founding struggles over money and finance can give the familiar phrase new resonance. For even as Thomas Jefferson was drafting the Declaration in a small, hot room in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776, the democratic popular finance movement was blooming in America. Throughout the country, ordinary people placed all hopes on America declaring independence from England. Equality was indeed their goal. And by this, they meant economic fairness: A newly level playing field where they could compete for prosperity.

I know that today’s post did not touch on any new updates regarding the major news stories we have been following lately. Look in the comments for current news of the world…I am sure that we will have a live blog going during the Catfood Commission speech later today…hope to see you there!

So what are you reading about today? Let’s get the party started…comment section is below, get to it.

I will end this post with a few images that should make you smile. Here is a perfect example of just how tough a Mama cow can be, who says these girls don’t have the balls to make it in a bull’s world. Enjoy!

From: Links 4/11/11 « naked capitalism

Antidote du jour:

Via email: “interesting photos from a ranch in the Kettle Valley, BC area where every year they have to deal with some pretty weird stuff. This year a bear had been bothering the herd and I guess enough was enough. Read on!”

A couple of evenings ago, Wayne went out to check the cows and saw a very strange sight and was able to photograph the event. A black bear approached our cow herd which turned out to be a very big mistake on his part.

Sore Bear 1

The blonde and white Simmental cow we know as I-12 went right for him.

Sore Bear 2

She is a very good cow, a very attentive mother and about 12 years old. She’s in her prime and knows that bears are bad news. She tried her best to mash him into the ground.

Sore Bear 3

Sore Bear 4

There are a couple of photos where the bear is biting I-12’s leg and clawing her face but she is not giving up. Her stiff tail shows how agitated she is.

Sore Bear 5

Wayne said all the cows were bawling, the bear was squealing, the calves were running around with their tails in the air.

A younger cow, R-55, an Angus-Cross cow, age 7, is helping her out as best she can.

Sore Bear 6

It is an incredible photo to see two cows at once trying to crush the bear.

Sore Bear 7

I looked up the calving records of both cows who are so aggressive in these photos and they are both good, calm cows around us and have given us no troubles whatsoever. I’ll have to add in my notes that they have a very distinct dislike of bears. We’ll be watching I-12 over the next few days to see if she needs treatment for infection. I don’t know how willingly she’ll come to the corrals for treatment, but she might not have a choice.

Finally, the bear decided to vacate the area.

Sore Bear 12

We thought he’d be dead for sure, but there was no sign of him the next day. We’ll have to keep an eye out for eagles in the trees or flocks of ravens flying up. We’re sure he’s got some broken ribs out of the deal at the very least.

Wayne couldn’t believe his eyes when he witnessed this ruckus.

This is another once-in-a-lifetime photography event to add to all the others he managed to document this summer. It is amazing.

Sunday Reads: The Almighty Hand and Being Mad as Hell!

Painting by Mark Webster via Daily Painters Blog

Good morning all! It is Sunday and I have lots of things to share with you. We all might be able to identify with this first link. It seems that the GOP are the way they are because of the way their brains are functioning. – Could Politics Be Hard-Wired? – Thursday, April 7, 2011

Republicans and Democrats remained implacably opposed over the budget right up to the shutdown deadline this week. They can’t agree on how to improve health care, on defense spending, or even on what the American people want most. Could the differences be biological?

Researchers in the United Kingdom think so. They published a study in Current Biology this week showing they could see political differences in the brain.

MRI scans might also be able to reveal a person's political leanings.

They did magnetic resonance imaging or MRI scans on dozens of young London university students who were willing to define their political leanings as liberal or conservative. The differences could be seen in their brains.

Self-described conservatives had noticeably more brain cells in the amygdala—the so-called fear center. This little area of the brain is linked with detecting emotions in others, as well.

Liberals, in contrast, had well-developed regions in the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region linked with coping with change and uncertainty.

So the fear center has more brain cells in the conservative? That explains some of their ridiculous ideas…but does not tell me why they have become such Fetus Fanatics. As Dakinikat has pointed out, the Republicans have not always been PLUBs.

There was a “grand compromise” this past Friday night…and according to Richard (RJ) Eskow: Why Progressives Keep On Losing and the Right Keeps On Winning

Congratulations! The “grand compromise” will cut nearly thirty nine billion dollars in needed government spending, which proves how “serious” everyone is about reducing the deficit. The grand compromisers could have cancelled the next ten years of tax subsidies for oil companies and cut the deficit by forty billion, but apparently that’s not how serious people do things.

If the Republican Party were singing to its base today, the song would be the theme from Friends, “I’ll Be There For You.” And the Democrats would be singing “You Always Hurt the One You Love.” We’re being told we should celebrate a “compromise” in which Democrats gave up $38.5 billion in spending cuts, when the original Republican demand was for $32 billion. That means the Democrats only gave the Republicans 20% more (20.2135%, to be precise) than they originally demanded.

Now, I don’t agree with Eskow on the following:

And progressives can’t be blamed for helping to elect a president who either misrepresented his positions on a number of issues or reversed himself once he was elected. (A sample: the health excise tax, which he opposed and later actively worked to enact; the individual mandate for health care coverage, which he opposed and then supported; some matters of civil liberties; and science policy).


Despite the naysayers, the nation elected a President who presented himself as an unambiguous progressive and gave him both houses of Congress too. So it can be done. So what keeps going wrong, over and over?

Nope, excuse me, but there are many progressives out there who had Obama pegged from the beginning. So don’t try to give excuses for the Left’s utter hook line and sinker reaction to the One,  or as Pelosi said, the gift from God…

Dakinikat has written some great post on this lately, but I thought I would link to some other articles.  I will leave the commentary on this to the expert.
Budget deal leaves liberals disheartened – Abby Phillip –

The $38.5 billion deal brokered between Republicans and President Barack Obama on Friday night may have resolved the immediate threat of a government shutdown. But it didn’t take long for many liberal Democrats to begin to realize that there might be not much cause for celebration in the substance of that deal.

In the final hours before the federal government was to run out of money April 8, Democrats homed in on attempts by Republicans to pass anti-abortion policy riders that would defund women’s health programs and Planned Parenthood. But soon after the deal was struck, Democrats turned back to a debate not about where to cut, but whether there should be cuts at all – and who should bear the brunt of the burden.

Princeton University professor Paul Krugman noted that by agreeing to this level of budget cuts, Obama had accepted the premise that the economy has recovered enough to withstand the withdrawal of federal spending. Despite the fragile economic recovery, the economy is still not strong enough, Krugman argued.

“It’s worth noting that this follows just a few months after another big concession, in which he gave in to Republican demands for tax cuts,” Krugman said in his New York Times column on Saturday. “The net effect of these two sets of concessions is, of course, a substantial increase in the deficit.”

But it seemed that the Obama administration had long ago abandoned that line of argument.

Pulling the Plug on Working Families to Give Tax Cuts to Millionaires | Crooks and Liars

The Ryan budget is a remarkable document: all of its budget cuts hammer working class families, seniors, and students — while all of its tax cuts go straight to millionaires. It does almost nothing to deal with the deficit, yet still manages to deal a death blow to virtually every member of the working middle class and everyone trying to work their way into it. It is especially hard on seniors and the most vulnerable in society in the midst of the toughest economic times since the Great Depression, doing serious economic damage to anyone who isn’t a millionaire, oil company, or Wall Street bank. The good news, for those who are millionaires? They get so many economic benefits it will be hard to keep track of them all.

Why Defunding Planned Parenthood is Bad Economics » New Deal 2.0

The Guttmacher Institute has found that for every dollar invested in family planning about four are saved. Why is that? Pregnancy is very expensive, as is raising a child, for women who can’t afford it. “There is no better preventative investment than family planning,” Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Ellen Chesler says. After all, the cost burden shifts to the public sector for children who are born into poverty.

But there’s another cost that all of us feel when women are denied access to family planning: “Women can’t do their jobs, create new jobs, or add to the country’s economic well-being if they can’t control their fertility,” she points out. Women make up nearly half of the workforce and help drive the U.S. economy. If we’re constantly at risk of becoming pregnant all the time, it is very difficult to do our jobs, particularly with the lack of social programs that benefit us or help with balancing work and family. “It’s as important a tool to us as education and health care,” she says.

What Planned Parenthood actually does – Ezra Klein – The Washington Post

(Planned Parenthood)

With Planned Parenthood being either the major obstacle to a budget deal or one of the major obstacles to a budget deal, it’s worth taking a minute explaining what they do — and what they don’t do.

As you can see in the chart atop this post, abortion services account for about 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s activities. That’s less than cancer screening and prevention (16 percent), STD testing for both men and women (35 percent), and contraception (also 35 percent). About 80 percent of Planned Parenthood’s users are over age 20, and 75 percent have incomes below 150 percent of the poverty line. Planned Parenthood itself estimates it prevents more than 620,000 unintended pregnancies each year, and 220,000 abortions. It’s also worth noting that federal law already forbids Planned Parenthood from using the funds it receives from the government for abortions.

Charles the Bald

I think that Boston Boomer mentioned this earlier in the week:  ThinkProgress » Idaho Rejects Rape Exception In Abortion Bill Because ‘The Hand Of The Almighty’ Was At Work

But this year during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, state Republican lawmakers found plenty of reasons to advocate for it. State Rep. Shannon McMillan (R) argued that women who were impregnated under “violent circumstances” should have no choice because it’s not the fetus’s fault. State Rep. Brent Crane, the bill’s sponsor, took it a step further. Believing that “tragic, horrific” acts of rape or incest are the “hand of the Almighty,” Crane said women should trust God to turn the consequences of their sexual assault into “wonderful examples”:

“Is not the child of that rape or incest also a victim?” asked Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton. “It didn’t ask to be here. It was here under violent circumstances perhaps, but that was through no fault of its own.”[…]

The Idaho bill’s House sponsor, state Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, told legislators that the “hand of the Almighty” was at work. “His ways are higher than our ways,” Crane said. “He has the ability to take difficult, tragic, horrific circumstances and then turn them into wonderful examples.”

Charles the Bald, with the Pope and "The Church" below him at his feet. The Hand of God giving him the power to rule directly...

The recent invocation of the hand of the almighty in Idaho made me think of the artwork from the Middle Ages. Specifically around the time of the Holy Roman Empire.  During the Carolingian Empire, when Medieval thought of the Divine Right of Kings was being “discussed” or should I say “fought” between rulers like Charlemagne and Charles the Bald, and the Pope…power was seen as coming directly from God to the King, and not from God through the Papacy…the actual Hand of God would be used in art to depict the idea… in the two images above, see the Hand coming down from the Heavens as if to say…”That’s my boy!”

This next picture below comes from the Secretary of State website, and the blog Dipnote:

This week's photo of the week comes to us from USAID and shows women and children at a health clinic at an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Haiti. USAID implements America's foreign economic and humanitarian assistance program in Haiti. To achieve their goal to reduce poverty and build democracy in Haiti, USAID/Haiti has six areas of focus: health, democracy, environment, economic growth, education and food security. Read more by clicking the photo above.

Okay, this next link is from No Quarter, and in noooooo way implies that the ideas and thoughts presented on the NQ blog are in any way the same as my own…I link to it because it does raise a big question…Is The MSM Hiding Attacks On Women Journalists? : NO QUARTER

Again? So it would seem. This time, it is in Palestine by Hamas Security officers. But I bet you haven’t heard a word about it, have you? Had it not been for Phyllis Chesler, I wouldn’t have known, either.

In Chesler’s excellent post, “Arab Spring: Male-on-Female Atrocities In Gaza Disappeared By The Western Media,” she details what eight, that is 8, women journalists endured while trying to cover – get this – a Unity rally (more on that below).

Ironic, ain’t it?

Anyway, one would have thought after what happened to Lara Logan, and a number of other women journalists in Egypt recently, that maybe, just maybe, the MSM would be better about covering these sorts of attacks. And one would be wrong:

Last month, at least eight Muslim Palestinian female journalists were physically beaten with clubs, iron chairs, and fists, stabbed, and tortured with electric shocks by male Hamas security forces in the Gaza strip. Their cell phones, laptops, documents, and cameras were confiscated. They were also arrested. Some were forced to sign a document “pledging to refrain from covering such events again.”

The “events” were a series of pro-unity rallies organized by Palestinian youth on Facebook (!) which demanded an end to the dispute between Islamist Hamas and a presumably more moderate Fatah.

So much for the Arab “spring,” and the purposefully misguided Western (and these heroically naïve youthful demonstrators’) belief that the increasingly well organized Islamist Middle East will really rise up on behalf of human rights and women’s rights—without which there can be no democracy.[snip]


Oh, I should add, not only were these women beaten, and had stun guns used on them, but one was literally stabbed in the back. By a member of the Hamas Security force, that is, as this article highlights, Gaza Cops Use ‘Beatings, Stun Guns’ On Women Reporters.

It is remarkable, isn’t it? That these attacks on women journalists are not being covered by the MSM still? Is it because it doesn’t fit the narrative? So it would seem. What a shame that the small window that opened when Lara Logan was brutally assaulted closed so quickly. That is telling in and of itself about our media, about journalism, and about news in general.

These women in Palestine deserve better. They deserve more. They deserve to not have their stories swept under the proverbial rug by their fellow journalists. Their voices deserve to be heard. Hear them now.


Journalists have been missing in Libya as well: Journalists under attack in Libya: The tally – Blog – Committee to Protect Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the fate of American freelance journalist Matthew VanDyke, who has been missing in Libya since mid-March, according to his family and news reports. He is among 15 reporters either missing or in government custody in Libya.

To see more about recent attacks on journalists, go to the home page of Press Freedom Online – Committee to Protect Journalists

Thanks to Dak for this next link: Waking the Lion | Politics | Vanity Fair

Turning his camera on Egypt’s 18-day miracle, Jonas Fredwall Karlsson captures face-to-face the thrilling, tech-savvy tide that drew all eyes to Tahrir Square, swept away Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule, and set off similar protests across the Middle East. Ron Beinner reports, while Henry Porter dissects the protesters’ world-altering triumph: an anger that defied death, the ingenuity that stymied a brutal police state, and a sense of freedom that will never be lost.

Be sure to look at the pictures in the gallery at the link above.

More is going on in MENA, and with all the news about the budget, it has not gotten the attention it deserves. So take a look at the items below.

Gbagbo forces attack Ouattara base in Abidjan – Africa – Al Jazeera English

Forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, Cote d’Ivoire’s incumbent president, have fired mortars at the hotel where the Ivorian leader’s internationally recognised rival is based.

<pMigrants forced to fight for Gaddafi – Features – Al Jazeera English>

‘They said we must stay to fight when the Americans come,’ a Ghanaian worker tells Al Jazeera from a refugee camp.

Among the reports of atrocities occurring in Libya are claims from African migrants that they were abducted and forced to fight with Gaddafi’s forces.

Nearly all migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, who arrive at the desert refugee camp in Tunisia, have fled in fear of violent reprisals by Libyans who accuse them of being mercenaries. The extent to which Gaddafi’s military has used foreign mercenaries, or press-ganged migrants into fighting, remains unclear.

A former Nigerian police officer, who had worked in Libya for eight years as a technician, alleges he was abducted in mid-March at a military checkpoint in Tripoli, along with other men from Ghana, Mali and Niger, before being taken to a military centre.

“There was up to 100 people in the courtyard and military trucks were arriving and leaving with more people. They started beating people, I saw them shoot one Ghanaian in front of me. The atmosphere was very intimidating,” he explained. “They put us into a vehicle and we were driven into the desert. I saw an oil refinery, there was evidence of bomb strikes, burnt out vehicles and a strong smell. I think it was Ras Lanouf.”

A Ghanaian worker claimed to have been abducted by Libyan military when they stormed his house in Sirte.

“They asked us why we were trying to leave the country and that we must stay to fight for when the Americans come,” he explained. “We were taken to a police station and then to an underground hospital which they ordered us to clean.”

BBC News – Yemen unrest: Hundreds injured in Sanaa protests

Hundreds of anti-government protesters are reported to have been hurt in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, a day after similar clashes in the city of Taiz.

The BBC correspondent in Sanaa says the area has been blocked off by army trucks, and single gunshots echo through the city.

Doctors say at least a dozen people have gunshot wounds, and others were treated for the effects of tear gas.

The country has seen weeks of protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

President Saleh earlier recalled his ambassador to Qatar after dismissing a proposal by the Gulf states for him to step down.

Two dead as Egyptian army forces protesters out of Tahrir Square | Amnesty International

Amnesty International today condemned the excessive use of force used by the Egyptian army when at least two protesters were reportedly killed when soldiers attempted to disperse those gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

Protesters told Amnesty International the army used sticks, electric batons, shot in the air and drove armored vehicles into the protest causing a number of injuries.

Some 15 people were also reportedly detained, as well as six army officers who joined the protest.

“The Egyptian authorities have once again failed to respect the right to peaceful protest by using the same tactics of repression as those of the former government,” said Amnesty International.

“All those arrested for merely exercising their right to protest peacefully must be released immediately and an independent investigation begun into these disturbing events.”

Thousands of protesters had gathered in Tahrir Square following Friday prayers to demand the trial of former president Hosni Mubarak and other officials suspected of corruption and human rights violations.


“The image the Egyptian army is trying to project greatly contradicts with reports of it torturing and otherwise ill-treating those it detains, including carrying out ‘virginity tests’ on women detainees,” said Amnesty International.

“They must ensure that no such treatment is no longer meted out to anyone detained by them.”

Okay, this next link is something I thought you all would find real interesting. I have added this book to my AMAZON cart. This is just a quick quote below, however I would really hope you just click the link and read the entire book review…Karen Lee Wald: Cuba From the Other Side – Book Review – Truthdig

I thought it would be helpful if people who are always hearing and reading about the “repression of dissidents” in Cuba and jump to their defense could also hear the other side: what happened to the thousands of people whose lives were affected by the actions of terrorists from inside and outside the country. I thought it would put a human face on the statistics regarding the material and human damage caused by counterrevolutionaries and mercenaries who are euphemistically called “dissidents” or “anti-Castro militants.”

“Voices From the Other Side” does this. But it also does a great deal more.

I did not realize that the debris from the Japanese Tsunami would reach our Pacific Coast as described below, but just imagine the image of all those houses floating in the vast ocean. It must be so surreal, like Dorothy’s house flying through the sky…out of place and very alone.

Japan Earthquake – Debris West Coast – Fukushima | Mediaite

The devastation in Japan after the massive earthquake and tsunami last month appears to have no end, and within a year’s time much of what was destroyed may end up on U.S. shores. Scientists are now predicting that it will take a year for the wreckage from towns essentially erased off the map to end up in Washington, Oregon and California, wreckage including whole houses, cars, and human remains.

Yesterday we lost one of the best directors ever to come out of Hollywood. Sidney Lumet dies aged 86 | Film | For a complete rundown of his movies, this next link from IMDB is the best. Sidney Lumet: 1924-2011

Director Sidney Lumet, whose gritty portraits of New York City earned him four Oscar nominations for Best Director for films such as Dog Day Afternoon and Network, died Saturday of lymphoma at his home in Manhattan; he was 86.

From Minx’s Missing Link File: One of Fox News lunatics is out! So I thought that these two articles from C and L are the best at reviewing the events that led up to the mad chalkboards. A look back on Beck’s nutty Fox News career: Turning discourse into a series of stunts | Crooks and Liars

Now, there are plenty of things to object to about Glenn’s trainwreck of a career at Fox, particularly the noxious and yet little-noticed way he almost effortlessly mainstreamed extremist ideas and rhetoric, most recently with his full-bore descent into promoting John Birch Society conspiracism. Undoubtedly, Beck’s relentless fearmongering and the vicious eliminationism of his rhetoric were important components of what made Beck so toxic. Media Matters has compiled an impressive list of the “50 Worst Things Glenn Beck Said On Fox News” that gives a pretty good rundown — but is really only a start.

And for your viewing pleasure: Jon Stewart’s Epic Parody Of Glenn Beck | Video Cafe

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the week: Some Medieval History for you…Queening: Chess and Women in Medieval and Renaissance France –

Queening: Chess and Women in Medieval and Renaissance France

By Regina L. O‘Shea

Master’s Thesis, Brigham Young University, 2010

Abstract: This work explores the correlation between the game of chess and social conditions for women in both medieval and Renaissance France. Beginning with an introduction to the importance and symbolism of the game in European society and the teaching of the game to European nobility, this study theorizes how chess relates to gender politics in early modern France and how the game‘s evolution reflects the changing role of women. I propose that modifications to increase the directional and quantitative abilities of the Queen piece made at the close of the fifteenth century reflect changing attitudes towards women of the period, especially women in power. In correlation with this, I also assert that the action of queening, or promotion of a Pawn to a Queen, demonstrates evolving conceptions of women as well. This work seeks to add to the growing body of work devoted to the exploration of connections between chess and political and social circumstances during the periods under consideration. As the question of the interconnectedness between the game and gender relations is in its beginning stages of exploration, this thesis is offered as a further analysis of the gender anxieties and conceptions present in the game‘s theory and history.

So what are you reading about today? Give it to me baby…..