Sunday Reads: Who will toss my salad?

Good Morning

84126145As Boston Boomer mentioned in yesterday’s post, the news is just too depressing to even mention. So aside from the stupid immature humorous pictures of both real and made up book titles that I’ve got featured in this morning’s thread, we are going to have a quick look at the “shitty” news…and then get to some interesting fun stuff.

Geez ——> Looks like she is about to toss her own salad….doesn’t it?

(BTW- the pictures come from this website: ebaumsworld.com and most are from this one post:  The 19 Worst Children’s Book Titles Ever! – Gallery)

There was some horror in the latest Ebola outbreak in Africa. This is some frightening news, because from what I understand, one person who was infected with the disease managed to escape medical custody in a major city.

84126147First Ebola victim in Sierra Leone capital on the run | Reuters

Sierra Leone officials appealed for help on Friday to trace the first known resident in the capital with Ebola whose family forcibly removed her from a Freetown hospital after testing positive for the deadly disease.

Radio stations in Freetown, a city of around 1 million inhabitants, broadcast the appeal on Friday to locate a woman who tested positive for the disease that has killed 660 people across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since an outbreak was first identified in February.

“Saudatu Koroma of 25 Old Railway Line, Brima Lane, Wellington,” the announcement said. “She is a positive case and her being out there is a risk to all. We need the public to help us locate her.”

84126162Koroma, 32, a resident of the densely populated Wellington neighborhood, had been admitted to an isolation ward while blood samples were tested for the virus, Health ministry spokesman Sidi Yahya Tunis. The results came back on Thursday.

“The family of the patient stormed the hospital and forcefully removed her and took her away,” Tunis said. “We are searching for her.”

And then there is this distressing story:

Nigeria on high alert after man dies of Ebola at Lagos airport | Al Jazeera America

Nigerian officials said Saturday that they are screening passengers arriving from foreign countries for symptoms of Ebola, following the death of an infected traveler from Liberia who died after collapsing at the airport in Lagos, Africa’s largest city with a population of 21 million.

Unni Krishnan, the head of disaster response for the international advocacy group Plan International, warned that an Ebola outbreak in Lagos could be disastrous. There is no cure or vaccine for the highly contagious virus.

Across the West African countries of GuineaLiberia and Sierra Leone, at least 660 people have died from the illness since February, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), placing great strain on the health systems of some of Africa’s poorest countries. Sierra Leone now has the highest number of cases, at 454, surpassing neighboring Guinea, where the outbreak originated.

84126157More here: First case of ebola reported in Africa’s most populous city Lagos | World news | The Guardian

The pathogen is passed through contact with bodily fluids of infected patients, and has no known cure, although chances of survival improve dramatically with early detection and treatment.

But weak health systems and frequent cross-border travel have hampered efforts to contain the virus in a region which has never before experienced an outbreak.

Lagos state authorities said they had requested the flight’s manifest to contact the other passengers, and began distributing protective clothing to health workers, state health advisor Yewande Adeshina said. Sawyer flew from Liberia’s capital of Monrovia, with a brief flight stopover in nearby Togo. His sister is believed to have died of ebola in the last month, a Liberian official told the Guardian.

Rumours about the virus – which causes a painful fever that degenerates into internal and external bleeding – were met with scepticism from residents in the crowded business district where Sawyer was treated. “I cannot believe it is true,” said trader Segun Kosoko, who said he had seen two traders donning face masks.

Experts have also been alarmed by the disease’s wide geographical spread, from Guinea’s remote interior forest region, where it originated, to densely populated coastal regions.

Ghana has had several unconfirmed scares, while Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown recorded its first confirmed case this week. Authorities there were forced to launch a public appeal after the victim slipped out of hospital. Her family forcibly removed her – as many have done, either fearing they would catch the disease while in quarantine, or doubting its existence.

Radio stations in Freetown, a city of about 1 million people, broadcast the appeal to locate the woman, named as Saudatu Koroma. “She is a positive case and her being out there is a risk to all. We need the public to help us locate her,” the appeal stated.

83922528Also in Liberia, news that an American doctor has become sick: Fort Worth doctor in Africa tests positive for Ebola virus | wfaa.com Dallas – Fort Worth

A Fort Worth doctor working with Ebola patients in Liberia has tested positve for the virus, according to Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief agency.

Dr. Kent Brantly is medical director at the Samaritan’s Purse Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia.

The relief group says the 33-year-old physician with a private practice in Fort Worth is undergoing treatement in an isolation center at ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city.

Samaritan’s Purse says Brantly is married and has two children, and that the agency is committed to doing everything possible to assist him.

He has worked with the agency in Liberia since last October. Before that, he was a family practice doctor in Fort Worth, where he finished his residency at John Peter Smith Hospital.

I can’t imagine what his family must be going through.

That is scary as hell…but here is something on par with Gozilla scary: Japanese monkeys’ abnormal blood linked to Fukushima disaster – study | Environment | theguardian.com

82796140Wild monkeys in the Fukushima region of Japan have blood abnormalities linked to the radioactive fall-out from the 2011 nuclear power plant disaster, according to a new scientific study that may help increase the understanding of radiation on human health.

The Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) were found to have low white and red blood cell levels and low haemoglobin, which the researchers say could make them more prone to infectious diseases.

Okay, I know I was exaggerating but still…

The scientists compared 61 monkeys living 70km (44 miles) from the the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant with 31 monkeys from the Shimokita Penisula, over 400km (249 miles) from Fukushima. The Fukushima monkeys had low blood counts and radioactive caesium in their bodies, related to caesium levels in the soils where they lived. No caesium was detected in the Shimokita troop.

Professor Shin-ichi Hayama, at the Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University in Tokyo, told the Guardian that during Japan’s snowy winters the monkeys feed on tree buds and bark, where caesium has been shown to accumulate at high concentrations.84126153

“This first data from non-human primates — the closest taxonomic relatives of humans — should make a notable contribution to future research on the health effects of radiation exposure in humans,” he said. The work, which ruled out disease or malnutrition as a cause of the low blood counts, is published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports.

White blood cell counts were lowest for immature monkeys with the highest caesium concentrations, suggesting younger monkeys may be more vulnerable to radioactive contamination. Hayama noted: “Abnormalities such as a decreased blood cell count in people living in contaminated areas have been reported from Chernobyl as a long-term effect of low-dose radiation exposure.” But other blood measures did not correlate with caesium levels, which vary with the seasons.

Meanwhile:

Rockets hit Israel as Hamas rejects longer cease-fire – CNN.com

And…

U.S. Embassy in Libya closes, staff evacuates amid militia fighting – LA Times

Ugh…enough already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now for the easy reads, after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday Reads: Charges Pending in After Prom Rape Case

carteles-mag-6Good Morning

I’ve been so wrapped up in the rape case dealing with nearby Calhoun, Georgia…that I have not paid much attention to anything else.

One newspaper from Dalton has the most up to date and thorough report of the assault since it was first reported. From the Dalton Daily Citizen: Charges pending against students in post-prom rape

The alleged rape of a 18-year-old female high school student the Saturday night of May 10 or 11 is being investigated by Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office detectives and the district attorney’s office, Sheriff Stacy Nicholson said Monday. The incident at 20 Edgewater Drive in Coosawattee River Resort primarily involved older teenagers from Calhoun High School who traveled here after their high school prom — and brought plenty of alcohol with them.

A student from Southeast Whitfield High School was also involved, Nicholson confirmed. The parents of one of the Calhoun students own the cabin, according to a sheriff’s office release.

The article continues,

The GBI crime lab is examining evidence from a sexual assault exam kit that includes DNA sampling, Nicholson said. An incident report defines what is alleged to have happened as “strongarm rape.” Three Calhoun High males and the Southeast male student are listed as suspects in the report.

“There was enough alcohol there to float a canoe down the Coosawattee River,” Nicholson said.

“Right at 27 kids came over here (to Ellijay),” he continued. “It doesn’t look like it was planned to be that big a party, (and) there is some evidence her parents didn’t know it was going to be that big — it was supposed to be 6 to 8 girls — there was maybe one or two that were not drinking. The next day the victim, who had some injuries, was taken by her family to the Calhoun hospital, but they were not set up to do the sexual assault exam and she was brought to North Georgia Medical Center.”

The first week after the incident was spent by investigators interviewing the kids involved, he said, with more follow-up interviews this week.

“At this point we have taken some evidence that is being examined by the GBI and their crime lab, and we’re waiting for results,” Nicholson explained. “My detectives and I have had multiple discussions about this case, and with the district attorney. We’ve got help from the DA’s investigators and limited assistance of the GBI in interviewing folks. We want to wait until our forensics come back before we do anything more. No arrests have been made but several are pending.”

He said charges could range from the sexual assault itself to “numerous people” lying to investigators and underage alcohol consumption.

Nicholson was asked if he knew where the alcohol was obtained.

“No, and that’s not the main focus, but it certainly is a focus,” he replied. “It appears that that can’t be linked to one person or the owners of the cabin solely. It looks like there were just a whole host of people that attended the party and brought alcohol.”

The cabin looks as though it belongs to a female student, at least that is what this next paragraph alludes to regarding how the students got into the gated community:

“You can pretty much get through those gates if you have the address and lot number, and I’m sure the girl (whose parents own the cabin) said these cars are going to be with me,” he said.

Property owners “must arrange for any person(s) entry to the (Coosawattee River Resort Association) in advance and must be responsible for that person(s),” the resort’s rules and regulations state.

The Sheriff discussed the investigation as “difficult” but it is encouraging to know that there is charging pending. After so long a period of silence…this was all the investigators needed to say.

“Number one, you’ve got a bunch of teenagers, and secondly, they were drinking moderately to heavily — and a lot of their memories are not clear,” he explained. “So we’ve had to wade through the muddy, vague waters to piece together the story. It’s been like a jigsaw puzzle. What I see here is a group of decent kids who were celebrating a milestone in their lives, and they threw alcohol in the mix. They were completely unattended by any adult supervision whatsoever, and a really bad thing has happened.”

Nicholson said after listening to a three-hour interview of the alleged victim and seeing the evidence, he was “disturbed.”

Does he think the evidence will be returned before Calhoun High’s graduation Friday night?

“A rush request has been made by the district attorney’s office, but I’d be afraid to say,” he replied. “The (Calhoun) superintendent has asked me if I can officially give her the suspects’ names. She’s extremely concerned about graduation, about what kind of riot or circus that may turn into. But that’s for her and Gordon (County) and Calhoun to deal with … I don’t think we’ll be making an arrest by Friday.”

Nicholson said an “insinuation” has been made against his department during the investigation.

“It came completely out of the blue, that we are not looking at this hard because the victim may or may not have ingested alcohol,” he shared. “I can tell you that that’s absolutely not the truth. There are legal hurdles we have to be able to jump (to provide evidence to prosecutors), and we’re making every effort we can make to jump those hurdles. It is my intention, as it stands right now, to arrest the three individuals that are responsible for this assault.”

At any rate, it is good to know that things are moving along. I hope the graduation goes well, rumors have it that the victim will be attending.

The only other new information I have found is that according to one news report:

The police report lists the victim and five witnesses, willing to initially step forward and talk about what happened.

Still no information about the Southeast Whitfield High student that is supposedly a suspect. Will he be allowed to walk at his graduation ceremony? Guess we shall see. I will keep you in the loop.

The rest of the links just here in dump fashion (Key word being “dump”):

The turtle won his primary:

Tuesday night primaries: McConnell, Nunn win big | Al Jazeera America

Hey Ralph, check it out:

Hillary Clinton’s Book Tour Watch: Early Stops in Austin and San Francisco | Still4Hill

From the Black Agenda Report:

Questioning the #BringBackOurGirls Campaign | Black Agenda Report

Eritrea: The Cuba of Africa | Black Agenda Report

Some serious concerns for nuke power plants:

How Rising Seas Could Sink Nuclear Plants On The East Coast

And this headline alone is something I could not resist, here is where the “dump” part comes in:

Evil-Slaying Elf Arrested After Defeating Portland Woman’s Car | Mediaite

Ah, Portland. Stumptown police responded over the weekend to a call that a “pirate” was attacking a woman’s car; they arrived to find not a pirate but a man claiming to be an evil-slaying elf, who was promptly arrested.

A woman who had stopped her car at an early morning traffic light in Northeast Portland (figures) said a man ran out from the side of the street, dressed in chain mail and brandishing a sword and shield, and began assaulting her car.

Konrad Bass told authorities he was “high-elf engaged in battle with the evil Morgoth.” After being shuttled to a nearby hospital, he admitted to taking LSD, which explains a good deal of this post. Bass was charged with “criminal mischief,” but not before striking a blow for whatever his cause: the woman’s car now has several sword slashes on its side.

Consider this an open thread.

 

 


Sunday Reads: Link Dumps and a Feel Good Video, News Story

f98fe9cf69662527aadea94df8e35a0eMorning

all…

I have an enormous migraine, so this is going to be a massive link dump.

Like we are talking, shit load of links = go read it yourself kind of dump style, here…

So please do read these articles, especially the first ones I put up because I have a feeling it is going to be another Steubenville Rape Culture shitstorm, only this time it is in my redneck part of the woods. North Georgia.

By the way, Calhoun High is one of the top football teams in the country…just so you know, as you read these articles.

b166ada939bed00d0b03d56d51201e16Calhoun ponders one dark night: Police stress care needed in investigation into post-prom party

This time of year, with any high school during the month of May, the clock ticks off the flurry of events that pile up before summer vacation: The school musical. The spring scrimmage. The glittering, Great Gatsby-themed prom.

The clock ticks on.

But for many at Calhoun High, that momentum pushing students toward that rite of passage has paused.

And it lingers on the night of May 10 — a few hours after prom’s twinkling lights were dimmed.

Whatever happened that night in the cabin in the gated-off Coosawattee River Resort near Ellijay, Ga., has cast a shadow that stretches over the last days of Calhoun High’s school year.

From an official standpoint, the events of that night remain unclear. All that detectives have said is that they are investigating a rape case.

But in the small town of Calhoun, stories of what occurred at the alcohol-fueled party reverberate, filled with appalling details that have not been confirmed or denied by investigators.

The versions of the story compound on social media, branching into arguments, calls for arrests and cries for prayer. Some take sides. Others plead for the gossip to stop.

One thing is clear: A girl ended up in the hospital after that night, in need of serious medical treatment.

Since then, detectives have questioned at least 25 students about what happened at the cabin, including a group of young men suspected of being involved in an assault.

8ee2928784d27e07d027904298d59c03Some in the community have complained about the pace of the investigation — claiming that it’s being slow-walked because of the high-profile status of some of the students allegedly involved and their parents.

But officials in Gilmer County, Ga., which is one county over and home to the cabin in question, brush off such criticism.

Uh…I may state that I am bias, but I think the situation is one that deserves criticism…

Detectives want to cover their bases before pressing any charges, explained Capt. Frank Copeland, spokesman for the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office.

And in a case like this, there are many bases.

Imagine, Copeland said, trying to nail down a time line of what happened at a fratlike party, cobbled together from the hazy recollections of teenagers who were intoxicated.

Add to that the fact that all of these witnesses or potential suspects go to school together and see each other nearly every day. They all have the alliances and enemies and social pressures of high school.

“There are so many people we have to talk to, witnesses and accused. It takes a long time to get it done,” Copeland said. “You want to make sure you do a good investigation, you want to make sure that you’re not letting anything fall through the cracks. If we did a really fast investigation, we might miss something, or do something wrong.”

On top of that, the tremendous volume of social media posts about the allegations has added another layer of questions to wade through.

“Everybody in the three-state area is interested in hearing about it,” Copeland said. “All the local people there are joining in, siding up, throwing stuff out.”

Still, Copeland says the department expects to have a resolution in the investigation next week.

If charges are pressed, they will be filed in Criminal Court instead of Juvenile Court, officials say. All of those potentially involved were 18 or over, he said. Nearly all of those who attended the party were from Calhoun, except for one person from Dalton, Ga.

1781910c4e1a219557f8898484c9fa03The other thing that is so damn disturbing is the attitudes of the investigators and the Superintendent of Calhoun High School:

Back at Calhoun High, teachers and administrators are trying to urge students toward the finish line, continuing with regularly scheduled events and encouraging students not to dwell on or spread rumors, Calhoun City Schools Superintendent Michelle Taylor said.

Students will graduate Friday night.

Taylor has stressed that while the school is cooperating with the investigation, the party had nothing to do with the school.

While some parents have called for students who are accused of being involved in the alleged attack to be suspended or kept from graduating, Taylor said it’s too soon to say whether such measures are necessary — especially since no one has been charged.

While Copeland wouldn’t comment on the demeanor of the many students that the department has interviewed, he mentioned that plenty of them reminded him of himself at that age: Excited about graduating, enjoying friends, ready for the future.

“We all just wanted to have a good time and celebrate the fact that we’ve graduated,” he recalled. “But I will just say: What people are thinking is OK or acceptable seems to have changed in the 30 years since I was in school.”

WTF is that last quote all about? Rape was rape back then too? Right? That comment already shows to me that the man has had his decisions about the case “persuaded” shall we say, into what is considered “acceptable” by whose standards? The money and clout behind the football players/suspects’ families? (You get what I am saying right?)

Check this other link out that has more detailed information, the victim was in need of medical attention…and there is suggestion of ruffies being involved: UPDATE: Rape investigation follows Calhoun High prom party – WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

The article seems to have been updated, and questions about what part the ruffies played in this rape have been deleted. However you can still see discussion of the drugs and such in the comments. I highly suggest you read those.

For one more link about this story: Calhoun resident, students protest as rape investigation continues

Protesters hold signs in support of an alleged rape victimA group of protesters stood along a sidewalk near Calhoun High School on Saturday to raise awareness of an ongoing rape investigation in Gilmer County that allegedly involves some CHS students.

Authorities said late last week that a prom after-party in Gilmer County May 10 led to the alleged rape of a Calhoun woman. As many as 25 males ages 18-20, some from Calhoun and one from Whitfield County, are considered suspects in the investigation.

“We don’t want this to be swept under the rug,” said Tiffany Barringer, a parent of a CHS student, and one of about seven protesters Saturday. “We want justice to be done. We’re here in support of the victim to let her know she is not alone. There are people in the community behind her. We’re here to show our support.”

Barringer said she is concerned about the safety of her own daughter and she believes the suspects should not be allowed in the school.

Law enforcement officials have not released the names of any suspects.

a9e1797865660a49def4efdb41fc1d58As Barringer spoke, cars drove past on Ga. 53 honking their horns in response to signs that said, “No means no” and “honk if you agree.” But not everyone was eager to see the protest, according to Barringer.

“There’s a lot of people being negative towards us, saying that what we’re doing is wrong,” she said. “But we’ve had enough. We need to protect everybody and stand up and say we need morals, like respect. That’s totally lost in our society.”

Read the comments on this post as well.  I will keep y’all up to date on this story, I really hope it gets some traction in the media and blogs…seriously…as many 25 male suspects? Fuck if this does not become yet another horrible example of rape culture to put down in that ever growing list of other school rape scandals and cover-ups.

I have a few more links about my home state of Georgia:

In Georgia, Lawmakers Taking Pride in Policies That Hurt the Poor | Next New Deal

Georgia has taken the lead in the mad dash to thwart the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and prevent poor people from accessing health care. Last week, Governor Nathan Deal signed into law two bills that ensure the state won’t be expanding Medicaid any time soon, and that make it decidedly more difficult for people to gain coverage under the ACA. These laws – a notch in the belt of conservatives preparing for the fall election – compound the social and economic injustices already experienced by many low-income Georgians.

House Bill 990 moves the authority to expand Medicaid out of the Governor’s office and over to lawmakers. In a state where conservative politics run deep, HB 990 is Governor Deal’s clever way of way of ensuring Medicaid expansion will never get passed, and abdicating all responsibility for the health and economic consequences that will surely result. The second bill, HB 943, restricts state and local agencies and their employees from advocating for Medicaid expansion, bans the creation of a state health insurance exchange, and prohibits the University of Georgia from continuing its navigator program once its original federal grant expires in August. The University’s navigators have been working throughout the state – especially in underserved rural areas – to help demystify the ACA, assist individuals in gaining coverage on the national exchange, and help those who already qualify for Medicaid to enroll.

“Someone else will now have to re-invent the wheel and figure out how to get resources to people in rural areas,” said Beth Stephens of Georgia Watch, a non-partisan consumer advocacy organization.

Like many other states that refuse to participate in Medicaid expansion, Georgia isn’t faring so well by most socio-economic indicators. The poverty rate, which now hovers around 20 percent, is 50 percent higher than it was in 2000. Nearly two million Georgians do not have health coverage, ranking the state fifth nationally in numbers of uninsured. Close to half of those individuals between the ages 18 and 64 have incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, many of whom would be covered under Medicaid expansion. Georgia has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates (seven percent) and today the average family makes $6,000 less than it did 10 years ago, when inflation is factored in. Individuals living outside of major cities have few health care options. In recent years eight rural hospitals have closed, leaving residents with scarce health resources and hospital workers without jobs.

6e0dbf1b057e77fcc91b301f68e34d0aTo make matters worse, lawmakers in Georgia have been systematically dismantling the state’s social safety net. Of the 300,000 Georgian families living below the poverty line, only 19,000 receive TANF and more than three quarters of those cases involve children only. That means that fewer than seven percent of low-income Georgians are able to get the welfare assistance they badly need. On the same day that Governor Deal signed the aforementioned bills, he also signed HB 772, requiring certain individuals to pass – and foot the bill for – a drug test before receiving welfare and food stamps. That bill is thought to be the nation’s most stringent when it comes to public assistance.

And if that isn’t shitty enough…

The environment is especially hostile for Georgia’s women, 21 percent of whom live in poverty (33 and 36 percent of Black and Hispanic Georgian women, respectively). More women in Georgia die of pregnancy-related causes than women in all but two other states. The U.S. maternal mortality rate (MMR) is 18.5; that is the number of women who die for every 100,000 births. Georgia’s MMR has more than doubled since 2004 and is now 35.5 (a shocking 63.8 for black women and 24.6 for white women). Expanding Medicaid would extend health coverage to more than 500,000 uninsured Georgians, 342,000 of them women. That coverage would surely save women’s lives.

Case in point, via Atlanta local Channel 2 News: Woman with massive tumor says hospitals turned her away over lack of insurance

A Newton County woman told Channel 2 Action News that four hospitals turned her away before one agreed to remove a painful, massive non-cancerous tumor.

Doris Lewis, 59, said she had been trying to get insurance since her husband died a few years ago.

There was no sense of urgency, but then a huge tumor started growing inside her and she realized not having insurance presented a huge problem.

“It’s getting bigger every day,” Lewis said. “I can feel it on my body. My heart hurts a little bit.”

The tumor has been inside Lewis for two months and has reached the size of a beach ball.

d4d60dc0228d64640548d36ba833dce0The news even got Raw Story’s attention: Woman with beach ball-sized tumor turned away from four hospitals for lack of insurance

But then, what else would you expect with a state who is doing this shit: Breaking: Pasadena Health Dir. Who Says Support Of Gays Is ‘From The Pits Of Hell’ Gets New Job | The New Civil Rights Movement

The Pasadena Health Director who had amassed a great résumé, a great $250,000 annual compensation package, and a great deal of controversy over his large collection of YouTube videos attacking LGBT people, has a new job. Dr. Eric Walsh, who was place on paid administrative leave just two weeks ago, reportedly is in the process of being hired by the Georgia Public Health Department to oversee the health needs of six counties.

Walsh, who is a pastor for a Pasadena Seventh-day Adventist congregation, came under fire when his comments about gay people, Catholics, Muslims, evolution, the Walt Disney Company, Harry Potter, Oprah Winfrey, Muhammad, Jay Z, single mothers, condoms, and the Pope were discovered.

In one sermon, Dr. Walsh reportedly has told his congregation, “In our public school system they began to teach moral relativism…They began to teach that there really is no absolute right or wrong. It’s more a matter of what you think or what you accept. And (according to that doctrine) if two adults agree to do something, it’s not wrong because they are both consenting adults. That is doctrine from the pits of hell. What makes something right is not based on man, it is based on God.” [Bolding added]

He had also, according to WeHoVille.com, “attacked the American Psychiatric Association’s decision in 1973 to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness, saying those who supported it were ‘raised up by the (devil).’”

02f4836e2ce5e862673874d361845cdeGo and read more about this at the link. I looked up information and news on Walsh here in Georgia and it seems that now Georgia has smartened up:  Former Pasadena official Eric Walsh does not get job in Georgia

(Uh, that is from LA not Georgia btw, so go figure. Oh, and Walsh was slated to work in the North Georgia district. Ha…what a fucking joke.)

I wanted to write about another shitty thing here in Banjoville, and our local elections. But I am in such pain, I will just have to do that later.

The rest of this post is in the massive dump I described up top:

Yet another ridiculous example of justice, North Georgia style: Ex-judge indicted on sex, corruption charges | www.ajc.com

And in North Carolina: Parents, 6 Sons, Accused Of Sexually Abusing Girl For Nearly A Decade

"The Fencer" by James Montgomery Flagg 1877-1960 nicknamed "Puss in Boots"

“The Fencer” by James Montgomery Flagg 1877-1960 nicknamed “Puss in Boots”

Meanwhile in South Carolina: Student’s art rejected from school show for being ‘inappropriate’ | Local News – WYFF Home

This next article is something else, it discusses the aspect of birth and women in the Nigerian culture: Nigeria schoolgirls kidnap: If they are freed by Boko Haram, their struggle will not be over – Comment – Voices – The Independent

In more Spitting, Stalking, Rape Threats: How Gun Extremists Target Women | Mother Jones

And then the smack down, read it, it is priceless: The Greatest Advice Column Response Ever (Photo)

Many of you have seen this I am sure: Town Official Defends Police Commissioner Who Called Obama The N-Word | ThinkProgress

In a related story: Mel Brooks: I Would Never Get Away with Using ‘N-Word’ on Screen Today | Mediaite

Fuck these rightwing fuckwads: The Idaho GOP Gubernatorial Debate Was Total Chaos | Mother Jones

Speaking of the rightwing fuckwads, here is X’s list for the failed revolution: 10 Reasons Why “Operation American Spring” Was A Failure | List of X

Oh, and check this out: Peggy McIntosh Sets Record Straight on White Privilege – COLORLINES

Something I found on facebook: WTF Is Wrong With Americans? This Guy Nails It.

Another thing I found on facebook: Timeline Photos – Bread and Roses 1912-2012 | Facebook

Please remember the Turkish coal miners. The high cost of mining displayed for all to see.

 

Another cliff:  Standoff on US roadway repairs becoming ‘highway cliff’ | MCT National News | McClatchy DC

I said from the very beginning, that Religious Conscientiousness was a bad thing:  Why We Need to Ban ‘Conscientious Objection’ in Reproductive Health Care

b24c608739ce7854352eaf2852f77753In California: Arson suspect charged in San Diego wildfires, most blazes dying down | Al Jazeera America

You may be in a flood zone: This Is Your Country With 10 Feet Of Sea Level Rise

A gallery here: First look at 9/11 Memorial Museum – First look inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum – NY Daily News

Science related links:

Rocketing solar winds may spark lightning as they buzz Earth | MCT National News | McClatchy DC

A Surprising Reason We Might Procrastinate | Alternet

Some scary ass pictures: Your Favorite Children’s Characters Would Kill You In A Heartbeat

Updates on other things: Football’s Risks Sink In, Even in Heart of Texas – NYTimes.com

f53d7155974dde3497e7459d9fff38dcA story that you may find a little repetitive, since Dak did a long post on the Koch brothers some time back…however, she says this one is more definitive: Quixotic ’80 Campaign Gave Birth to Kochs’ Powerful Network – NYTimes.com

More Koch: Jon Stewart Trashes ‘Hypocrite’ Harry Reid over Attacks Against Koch Brothers | Mediaite

Another literary fraud: Misha Defonseca Pays $22 Million: History of the Fake Holocaust Memoir | New Republic

I loved Sister Wendy: Saturday Night Social: The Night Belongs to Sister Wendy

Some fun with: Watch Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen Giggle and Talk About Hashtags

Unfortunate news about: No Cannes Do – The Status of Women Directors at Cannes Over the Last Decade|Women and Hollywood

An article about one hunk of a man: Sting Photographed by Annie Leibovitz | Vanity Fair

Now some fashion links, first this one to a dress that reminds me of something from pre-wwII Hollywood: Fan Bingbing in Georges Chakra Couture at the “X-Men: Days Of Future Past” New York Premiere | Tom & Lorenzo Fabulous & Opinionated

Fan-Bingbing-Georges-Chakra-Couture-X-Man-Days-Future-Past-NY-Premiere-Tom-Loenzo-Site-TLO (1)

Next up, Cinema Connection–Kate Hepburn’s Ongoing Style Story from THE PHILADELPHIA STORY | GlamAmor

50887d134be5c7bb69a4f3d40c66702fAnd…then: Photos: A look at Gregory Peck’s Wife Veronique | Vanity Fair

Passani became a fixture in Los Angeles society, thanks to her philanthropy—she was a major supporter of the American Cancer Society—and distinctive fashion sense. “She developed her style more when she was in Los Angeles; she didn’t spend her life in tailored suits, but bold Yves Saint Laurent tunics and orange and lime-green Courrèges dresses,” says her daughter. Although her mother passed away in 2012, Peck plans on paying tribute to her through an exhibition that represents her stylish Parisian influence on Los Angeles.

The pictures below, shot by Firooz Zahedi, who currently is showing his work at the Kopeikin Gallery, display Passani’s outrageous wardrobe…Click through for a glimpse into Passani’s closet.

Before I get to the last link, Hillary Clinton rises above the dirty tricks – Comment – Voices – The Independent

And finally this one…it is wonderful. A lovely way to end the post. Watch the news video…so awesome. The story is told by Maria Shriver which is logical considering the connections to the Kennedys and Special Olympics:

Sweethearts with Down syndrome to wed 30 years after meeting

Sweethearts with Down syndrome to wed 30 years after meeting   - News - TODAY.com 2014-05-18 00-58-32Video: A Texas couple who both have Down syndrome and have been best friends since childhood are getting married. Their families say it’s a celebration of what’s possible when you empower kids to dream big. NBC news special anchor Maria Shriver reports.

Austin Underwood says he has loved his fiancée, Jessica Smith, since they were 4 years old, when their mothers met at a support group for children with Down syndrome.

Thirty years later, the Dallas couple will finally tie the knot.

“I want to marry her because I love her. She’s my very own best friend,” Austin told NBC’s Maria Shriver.

The couple have grown from being playmates to prom dates and, next month, husband and wife.

I love how the mothers are holding hands during the interview. Jessica is beautiful…do watch the video, it will make you feel good.

Images for today’s post by James Montgomery Flagg as seen on Pinterest.

Enjoy your Sunday…leave any thoughts and links in the comments below.

 


Wednesday Reads: Of Saints and Bastards

ddd66aca71973596df57574f0881d534Good Morning

Can you feel it? A Minkoff rant coming to ya? Yeah, it is…so just roll with it, you may find this post all over the place.  But then y’all know how I get when this happens so, I will just get on with it.

First off, this shit with the Supreme Court and public prayer at town meetings. You know…what the fuck happened to a moment of silence? Do they still do that? I mean if you are going to take time out to pray a little, do it to yourself on the quiet…if you want to…because this shit SCOTUS just ruled on gives the Christian right to fuck over anyone who isn’t born again. By that I mean you too Catholics! Which is something I think those who do vote “Republican” and are Catholic seem to fail to grasp.

8ac55ef11b2cc7c8c1b9540fea3aee5dYou see them, especially here in small towns like Banjoville. They are high and mighty evil bastards who feel above you and actually discriminate against those who are not “born again.” That means those of the Catholic, Anglican/Episcopal faith…Jews, Buddhist, Muslims, oh you all know what I am talking about.

They will say the most horrible things to kids too…shit that is beyond fucked up! And…they teach their children to behave just like them. It is an endless cycle of disgusting behavior in the name of Jesus. (Excuse me…Geeezus.)

eb11a16fe7a5384b4e86a0bf7fc7b397All this shit about prayer in schools, is not for any other prayer but theirs.

It is only their religious freedom they are concerned with.

It is only their “God” or “Gawd” they consider real and therefore legitimate.

So many conservatives who are not in line with the “christian” way of believing do not get this…they don’t realize that these assholes are not really speaking for them. They vote for these bastards because they only see them as the politician who spouts on about praying in school, and other conservative value shit…but they don’t see the big picture behind it.

a32871be6d96eeced3ed0e75ed850df9And why am I picking on these Jesus freaks? Because these are also the people who are the hypocritical bastards, and act the least charitable. They are hateful motherfuckers and prejudice and judgmental too. They say horrible things with an air of snotty intolerant Baptist superiority. (This is from my experience here in the Southern bible belt.) Both men and women are misogynistic as hell, the women are not supportive of other women within their circle and the girls are awful to other girls who are, “not one of them.”  They take any reason and twist it, manipulate it into a reason for Geezus. It is unbelievable the way they can justify their behavior…I don’t know how they can do it and consider themselves “good Christians.”

This is the backbone of the GOP, the conservatives who are changing the laws in this nation bit by bit. The assholes that are cutting out all social programs and any hope for a future in areas of science and discovery. I can honestly say these people are ruining this country. Maybe that is taking it too far, I don’t know. But what the fuck is wrong with these people?

e2d8e675cee866b319ff8ab454586944I am afraid, really I am.

I see what a small town mentality is like and I see it is taking over our Supreme Court. It has taken over our House of Representatives and it damn well can take over the Senate.

Gawd help us…what the hell are we going to do?

Here then are the links for today, there are a lot of them so some are in link dump fashion.

First a group of stories illustrating some of the talking points above.

Rep. Paul Ryan targest Poor as his “Signature Issue”, and I do Mean Targets (Cartoon) | Informed Comment

jamiol_ryan

House Bill Cuts Transit, Housing Assistence | BobCesca.com | News and Politics Blog and Podcast | We Cover the World

12e7e1c43296ee7d6181fd1d740d8415House Republicans have unveiled their version of the transportation, housing and urban development (THUD) appropriations bill and, not surprisingly, it cuts funding by nearly $2 billion.

The bill cuts TIGER grants, a favorite of many lawmakers, by $500 million to a total of $100 million. It does not allow funds for bike and pedestrian paths.

The FAA is funded at $7.3 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and the Federal Railroad Administration is funded at $1.4 billion, a reduction of $193 million. There is no funding for high speed rail, an Obama priority.

To cut costs, Amtrak would be required to put overtime limits on employees and not use federal funding for routes where Amtrak offers a discount of 50 percent or more peak fares.

All together, the House bill would set spending at a level nearly $8 billion less than what President Obama requested for the next fiscal year.

Opposition to the president’s request isn’t earth shattering news, but House Republicans going out their way to eliminating funding for bike paths and railway while instituting overtime limits for Amtrak employees is certainly illuminating.

Republicans have a big problem with pedestrian-friendly urban and mass transportation. You know, hallmarks of socialism; liberal stuff.

3f20c6490c97520e66e8717d740763e0The Next Frontier In The War Over Science

The Obama administration and the scientific community at large are expressing serious alarm at a House Republican bill that they argue would dramatically undermine way research is conducted in America.

Titled the “Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014,” the bill would put a variety of new restrictions on how funds are doled out by the National Science Foundation. The goal, per its Republican supporters on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, would be to weed out projects whose cost can’t be justified or whose sociological purpose is not apparent.

For Democrats and advocates, however, the FIRST Act represents a dangerous injection of politics into science and a direct assault on the much-cherished peer-review process by which grants are awarded.

“We have a system of peer-review science that has served as a model for not only research in this country but in others,” said Bill Andresen, the associate vice president of Federal Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania. “The question is, does Congress really think it has the better ability to determine the scientific merit of grant applications or should it be left up to the scientists and their peers?”

f2aa4c688c823841910abdcc9598cb8dIn recent weeks, the Obama administration and science agencies have — in less-than-subtle terms — offered up similar criticisms of the FIRST Act. At an American Association for the Advancement of Science forum on Thursday, presidential science adviser John Holdren said he was “concerned with a number of aspects” of the bill.

“It appears aimed at narrowing the focus of NSF-funded research to domains that are applied to various national interests other than simply advancing the progress of science,” Holdren said.

Meanwhile, in a show of protest that several officials in the science advocacy community could not recall having witnessed before, the National Science Board released a statement in late April criticizing the bill. As the oversight body to the National Science Foundation, the NSB traditionally stays out of legislative fights. So when it warned that the FIRST Act could “significantly impede NSF’s flexibility to deploy its funds to support the best ideas,” advocates said they were surprised and pleased.

020a840156d10a50de9992d936837a44“The fact that the NSB commented on legislation, I don’t know if it is unprecedented but it is at least extremely unusual,” said Barry Toiv, a top official at the Association of American Universities. “And we think that speaks to the really serious problems posed by the legislation.”

Susie Madrak » Blog Archive » See how that works?

Despite all the pissing and money about the district wasting money on outrageous teacher salaries and pensions, seems the real problem is the Santa Claus provision our Republican-dominated legislature ticked away into state law. This is, of course, contrary to the right-wing wisdom shared on our local newspaper site, but oh well! Nobody cares about schools, anyway:

4f3c895075c53c60acaad56051b652d4Unless the Philadelphia School District raises more than $200 million extra in a hurry, Moody’s Investors Service warned it will cut the district’s bond rating — which is already down at Ba2, junk status, forcing the district to pay extra when it borrows money — because the district’s proposed $2.5 billion budget for the next fiscal year will “materially imperil its ability to provide students with an adequate education.”

Without $216 million in additional funding, Moody’s analyst Dan Seymour wrote in a report to clients, the district threatens to increase the average class size to 41 students and lay off more than 1,000 staff. ” This is credit negative because a further deterioration in education services will likely result in additional student flight to charter schools and other alternatives,” further reducing district revenues, Seymour added. 3 in 10 Philadelphia students already go to charter schools.

a6f650feced450bed9e37fa50896f502“Rising charter school enrollments have been a drag on the district’s finances, as state law mandates that public school districts pay the costs of sending students to charter schools. Driven largely by charter school tuition costs, the district’s costs per pupil have increased 70% since 2004. Further enrollment declines would exacerbate the district’s financial pressure as charter schools capture a larger share of the district’s expenditures,” Moody’s adds.

Conservatives Have Free Reign In Kansas. It’s Failing. | The Daily Banter

In Kansas, Republicans dominate the state government. They have the Governorship (Former Senator Sam Brownback), the State House (92-33 for the GOP), and the State Senate (32-8 for the GOP). Democrats don’t have a say in this blood red state that went 60%-37% for Mitt Romney in 2012.

Brownback and his buddies have enacted all manner of conservative economic policy in the state. Cutting taxes, etcetera. What is the result? Guess.

Citing a sluggish recovery from the recession, risk inherent in the governor’s tax plan and uncertainty over the Legislature’s ability to keep cutting spending, one of the nation’s two major debt rating agencies downgraded Kansas’ credit rating Thursday.

Moody’s Investors Service dropped Kansas from its second-highest bond rating, Aa1, to its third highest, Aa2. The Kansas Department of Transportation also took the same downgrade.

f6964ca89bbb0e9540a1331bb4cc1a61As Businesweekexplained, “the immediate effect has been to blow a hole in the state’s finances without noticeable economic growth.”

Even with the cut in taxes, big companies like Applebee’s and Boeing have moved out of Kansas.

As a result, the most recent polling there shows Brownback’s approval rating down to 33%, while he’s slightly behind the Democratic challenger.

In Kansas, they can’t (honestly) blame liberals for this. They’ve been given a free hand. They were able to enact whatever they wanted, and it has been a miserable failure at a time when other states – including very blue Democratic states like here in Maryland – have been recovering from the Bush recession.

Why?

Because conservative economics doesn’t actually work. It is a faith based program untethered from reality. The numbers don’t add up and it is destructive to societies.

90d80323549f4203fba1e32825e491c9Charlie Crist Says He Became A Democrat Because Of GOP Racism

It was partly for that reason that Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida who’s now trying to reclaim his old job as a Democrat, broke with his former party.

“I couldn’t be consistent with myself and my core beliefs, and stay with a party that was so unfriendly toward the African-American president, I’ll just go there,” Crist told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos. “I was a Republican and I saw the activists and what they were doing, it was intolerable to me.”

[…]

Crist was savaged on the right when, as governor in 2009, he hugged Obama. He said earlier this year that racism motivated the outrage over the embrace.

1a2968938471c1f5fb9ce8980f223146“I think another part of it was that he was a Democrat, but not just a Democrat, an African-American,” Crist, who’s challenging Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), said during an appearance on “The Colbert Report.”

Just 7 percent of journalists are Republicans. That’s far fewer than even a decade ago.

A majority of American journalists identify themselves as political independents although among those who choose a side Democrats outnumber Republicans four to one, according to a new study of the media conducted by two Indiana University professors.

Write Lars Wilnat and David Weaver, professors of journalism at Indiana, of their findings:

Compared with 2002, the percentage of full-time U.S. journalists who claim to be Democrats has dropped 8 percentage points in 2013 to about 28 percent, moving this figure closer to the overall population percentage of 30 percent, according to a December 12-15, 2013, ABC News/Washington Post national poll of 1,005 adults. This is the lowest percentage of journalists saying they are Democrats since 1971. An even larger drop was observed among journalists who said they were Republicans in 2013 (7.1 percent) than in 2002 (18 percent), but the 2013 figure is still notably lower than the percentage of U.S. adults who identified with the Republican Party (24 percent according to the poll mentioned above).

Image courtesy of The American Journalist in the Digital Age

That link about the journalist is more for information purposes. Read what else Cillizza thinks too at that link.

 

8c2a3f14e9851505e3f1992043567145Los Angeles now spending more on Wall Street fees than on maintaining roads | PandoDaily

Los Angeles councilman Paul Koretz has called for banks NY Mellon and Dexia to return $65 million in “unfair profits and termination payments” they received between 2008 and 2014. This follows a report (embedded below) revealing that the city spent more than $200 million in fees to Wall Street in 2013 alone.  Koretz says he may push the city to take punitive action against the financial institutions involved if they do not renegotiate the deal.

a63f17097d9b76b0c8b35d6fe18f5a72The report, published by the union-backed Fix LA Coalition, notes that “the City of Los Angeles last year spent more on Wall Street fees than it did on our streets.” Indeed, the report notes the city “paid Wall Street $204 million in fees, spending only $163 million on the Bureau of Street Services.”

The fees are connected to the controversial interest-rate-swap deal cemented by Los Angeles in 2006. It is a deal similar to those engineered by Wall Street in cities across the country. Those deals have made headlines in recent years in some of the country’s most high-profile municipal budget crises.

For instance, a recent study by former Goldman Sachs investment banker Wallace Turbeville found that an interest-rate swap deal was a primary driver of Detroit’s fiscal crisis. Noting that the banks used the city’s bankruptcy to demand “upwards of $250-350 million in swap termination payments,” Turbeville concluded that “a strong case can be made that the banks that sold these swaps may have breached their ethical, and possibly legal, obligations to the city in executing these deals.” (A court recently reduced the amount the city has to pay Wall Street to unwind the deals).

 

28e2e3ff15881c293a7bd3a3c9b36dcdBorder Patrol rarely punishes agents accused of abuse, study shows | Courts & Crime | McClatchy DC

A new report by an immigration watchdog finds that the United States’ largest federal law enforcement agency rarely punishes its agents for their mistreatment of immigrants and American citizens.

The report by the American Immigration Council found that 97 percent of abuse complaints lodged against Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers resulted in no disciplinary action once an investigation had been completed. Those included a complaint from a pregnant woman in El Paso, Texas, that she had miscarried after a Border Patrol agent kicked her in the stomach, and several complaints from women that they had been forced to bare their breasts while in custody.

The survey also found that many complaints against U.S. border agents take years to resolve. The council reviewed 809 complaints filed in the three years from January 2009 to January 2012. But of those, only 485 had been investigated and resolved. The remainder are still under investigation, including a nearly 5-year-old allegation of forced sexual intercourse lodged July 30, 2009, against a Border Patrol agent in El Centro, Calif.

a53e10fafb6c21876f0987f47a562693Among the cases that were still “pending investigation, the average number of days between the date the complaint was filed and the last record date provided in the data set was 389 days,” the report said.

“This absolutely confirms the experiences of our border families and communities,” said Vicki Gaubeca, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Regional Center for Border Rights in New Mexico. “U.S. Customs and Border Protection is now the largest law enforcement agency in the nation, and yet this massive buildup of border enforcement resources has not been matched with adequate accountability and oversight.”

And about that SCOTUS decision:

64379ac1050440ca30257e0e75359f39With the Supreme Court’s Help, Religion Creeps Toward the State – Garrett Epps – The Atlantic

The 5-4 decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway shows how far the ground has shifted under the Establishment Clause in the last 30 years.

Supreme Court: Tear Down This Wall!

Yesterday’s ruling in Greece v. Galloway is an affront to religious equality, but it also reflects the poisoned fruit of a bad precedent.

Symposium: Town of Greece v. Galloway going forward : SCOTUSblog

Symposium: Dismantling the wall that should separate church and state : SCOTUSblog

Symposium: Thoughts on Town of Greece – if the kilt fits : SCOTUSblog

In fact for SCOTUSblog coverage look here: Town of Greece v. Galloway : SCOTUSblog

1393a34602c9fa0037e721e27659418bWith all this shit that happened yesterday, and the recent other shit like the repeal of some key parts of the Civil Rights Act, this next article should come as a surprise: Supreme Court popularity rebounds, survey says | Suits & Sentences | McClatchy DC

 

The Supreme Court’s popularity has rebounded, with more than half of U.S. residents surveyed now voicing a favorable view of the justices, a new survey finds.

The Pew Research Center survey, conducted last month among 1,501 adults, found that 56 percent have a favorable view of the court, while 35 percent had an unfavorable view. Last July, only 48 percent held a favorable view of the court. That rating was among the lowest ever recorded by the court, though still well above the abysmal poll numbers earned by Congress.

Intriguingly, 63 percent of Democrats have a favorable view of the court led by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., compared to 54 percent of Republicans.

 

Take a deep breath…I know I have to. More after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tuesday Reads

Henri Matisse, Woman Reading with Tea

Henri Matisse, Woman Reading with Tea

 Good Morning!!

 I need to begin with some local Massachusetts stories that may have national repercussions.

First there is an update to the story of Ibragim Todashev, who was allegedly a friend of accused Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Both men are deceased. As you may recall, Todashev was shot and killed in his home in Orlando by an agent from the Boston FBI office on May 22, 2013.

The agent, along with an agent from the Orlando FBI office and two Massachusetts state troopers, had been questioning Todashev about his possible involvement with Tamerlan in the murders of three men in Waltham, MA on September 11, 2011.

According to the agent and the trooper who was there with him, Todashev attacked the agent with a table and the agent had shot him in self defense. Todashev had supposedly been writing a confession to his involvement in the murders when he suddenly attacked. The agent who shot Todashev was later absolved of any wrongdoing by reports by the Florida State Attorney’s office, the DOJ, and the FBI. The FBI report has not been released; and in the other two reports, much information, include the names of the agents and troopers, some portions of photos of the crime scene were redacted.

Now to the latest news (which so far has gone unnoticed by the corporate media). A couple of days ago, a blogger named B. Blake revealed that he/she had succeeded in downloading a version of the Florida Attorney’s report that was not properly redacted. The unredacted photos and the names of the agent who shot Todashev along with the two Mass. state troopers have been published on B. Blake’s blog “The Boston Marathon Bombings:What Happened?” The post includes an explanation of how the unredacted materials were obtained and authenticated. I’m not going to post the photos or names of law enforcement personnel; but you can see them at the above link. In another blog post, B. Blake reports some background information on the FBI agent involved.

So far I’ve seen nothing reported about this in the mainstream press, but it is all over Twitter. I don’t know if this will get out into the mainstream, but the FBI must have noticed it by now. I don’t know what will happen next, but when Twitter gets hold of a story, it generally gets noticed by the media eventually. I hope no harm will come to the three men whose names have been kept quiet until now. Stay tuned . . .

The other Massachusetts story will probably be blown up way out of proportion by the GOP Obamacare haters. From The Boston Globe, Mass. scrapping flawed health insurance website: Next steps have uncertainties for users, insurers.

Massachusetts plans to scrap the state’s dysfunctional online health insurance website, after deciding it would be too expensive and time-consuming to fix, and replace it with a system used by several other states to enroll residents in plans.

Simultaneously, the state is preparing to temporarily join the federal HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace in case the replacement system is not ready by the fall.

As late as March, the state had considered rebuilding the balky Health Connector site, which has left thousands of consumers frustrated and many without coverage for months. But Sarah Iselin, the insurance executive whom Governor Deval Patrick tapped to oversee repairs to the site, said that approach turned out to be far too risky.

The state’s online insurance system must be ready by Nov. 15 for consumers to enroll in new health plans for 2015, and Massachusetts is one of several states under pressure from the Obama administration to make sure it meets the deadline.

The change mostly involves adopting a new software program and getting it up to speed by the deadline, which is set by law and has no flexibility.

Another unknown is whether the transition will create disruption for consumers. Eric Linzer, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, said some insurers may not be able to afford to remain in the program, meaning consumers could end up having to switch coverage.

“I can’t overstate the complexity and technical issues that come with not having to develop just one but two separate systems,’’ he said. “Given the time frame in which all this has to be implemented, this is going to be a significant undertaking for plans.’’

Massachusetts also provides more generous subsidies than the federal health insurance program for residents with incomes below 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Iselin said whether the state can retain those unique aspects of its program if it connects to the federal site is still under discussion with the Obama administration. According to the state’s plan, use of the federal website, if necessary, would be for no more than a year…

On the other hand, there is positive news long-term for Obamacare from a study of the effects of Massachusetts’ adopting universal health care in 2006. From the NYT: Mortality Drop Seen to Follow ’06 Health Law.

BOSTON — The death rate in Massachusetts dropped significantly after it adopted mandatory health care coverage in 2006, a study released Monday found, offering evidence that the country’s first experiment with universal coverage — and the model for crucial parts of President Obama’s health care law — has saved lives, health economists say.

The study tallied deaths in Massachusetts from 2001 to 2010 and found that the mortality rate — the number of deaths per 100,000 people — fell by about 3 percent in the four years after the law went into effect. The decline was steepest in counties with the highest proportions of poor and previously uninsured people. In contrast, the mortality rate in a control group of counties similar to Massachusetts in other states was largely unchanged.

A national 3 percent decline in mortality among adults under 65 would mean about 17,000 fewer deaths a year.

“It’s big,” said Samuel Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania and an authority on life expectancy. Professor Preston, who was not involved in the study, called the study “careful and thoughtful,” and said it added to a growing body of evidence that people with health insurance could reap the ultimate benefit — longer life.

Experts said the study, which was published online Monday in theAnnals of Internal Medicine, will not settle the long-debated question of whether being insured prolongs life, but it provides the most credible evidence yet that it might. Still, health improvements can take years to surface in mortality data, and some researchers were skeptical of the magnitude and suddenness of the decline.

Read more at the link.

In national news . . .

SCOTUS

NYT writer Adam Liptak has an interesting analysis of Supreme Court “in-group bias” in decisions involving “free speech.”

Justice Antonin Scalia is known as a consistent and principled defender of free speech rights.

It pained him, he has said, when he voted to strike down a law making flag burning a crime. “If it was up to me, if I were king,” he said, “I would take scruffy, bearded, sandal-wearing idiots who burn the flag, and I would put them in jail.” But the First Amendment stopped him.

That is a powerful example of constitutional principles overcoming personal preferences. But it turns out to be an outlier. In cases raising First Amendment claims, a new study found, Justice Scalia voted to uphold the free speech rights of conservative speakers at more than triple the rate of liberal ones. In 161 cases from 1986, when he joined the court, to 2011, he voted in favor of conservative speakers 65 percent of the time and liberal ones 21 percent.

He is not alone. “While liberal justices are over all more supportive of free speech claims than conservative justices,” the study found, “the votes of both liberal and conservative justices tend to reflect their preferences toward the ideological groupings of the speaker.”

Social science calls this kind of thing “in-group bias.” The impact of such bias on judicial behavior has not been explored in much detail, though earlierstudies have found that female appeals court judges are more likely to vote for plaintiffs in sexual harassment and sex discrimination suits.

Lee Epstein, a political scientist and law professor who conducted the new study with two colleagues, said it showed the justices to be “opportunistic free speech advocates.”

Much more–with chart–at the link.

There’s quite a bit of discussion today of Lara Logan and whether or not she will ever return to CBS’ 60 Minutes. The uproar is in reaction to a lengthy article at New York Magazine by Joe Hagen, Benghazi and the Bombshell: Is Lara Logan too Toxic to Return to 60 Minutes? I haven’t had time to read the article yet, but Talking Points Memo summarizes the main points: Lara Logan’s Return To CBS Up In The Air.

Lara-Logan

A lengthy New York magazine report published Sunday suggests that Logan’s return is far from certain. In the piece contributing editor Joe Hagan explores the tensions that simmered within CBS News, where his sources in the network described the current atmosphere as “toxic,” since Logan was forced to apologize last November for a flawed report on the Benghazi attacks.

The report that led to Logan’s suspension centered around a British security contractor, Dylan Davies, who gave a heroic first-person account of the attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi. The contractor’s credibility was called into question after the segment aired, when it was reported that Davies may not have been present on the night of the attacks at the compound.

TPM quotes some of Logan’s CBS co-workers:

“It’s not an accident that Lara Logan fucked up,” one of Logan’s colleagues told the magazine. “It was inevitable. Everybody saw this coming.”

During the fallout from the report, a founding member of “60 Minutes,” Morley Safer, reportedly marched into executive producer Jeff Fager’s office and demanded that Logan be fired, but to no avail. Another unnamed source suggested to the magazine that CBS President Les Moonves has since “soured” on Logan, whom he previously treated as a favorite.

Think Progress reports that CBS was so embarrassed by Logan’s reporting that they “asked Nexis-Lexis to delete [the] transcript.”

In international news . . .

There’s an extremely disturbing story from Nigeria. BBC News: Boko Haram ‘to sell’ Nigeria girls abducted from Chibok

Abubakar Shekau, leader  of Boko Haram

Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram

Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram has threatened to “sell” the hundreds of schoolgirls it abducted three weeks ago.

Militant leader Abubakar Shekau sent a video obtained by the AFP news agency, in which he said for the first time that his group had taken the girls.

About 230 girls are still believed to be missing, prompting widespread criticism of the Nigerian government.

The Boko Haram insurgency has left thousands dead since 2009.

The girls were taken from their boarding school in Chibok, in the northern state of Borno, on the night of 14 April.

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden”, has attacked numerous educational institutions in northern Nigeria.

In the video, Abubakar Shekau said the girls should not have been in school in the first place, but rather should get married.

“God instructed me to sell them, they are his properties and I will carry out his instructions,” he said.

I wonder why it is that “God” give so many widely varying “instructions” to people of different “religions.”

More from CNN: ‘I will sell them,’ Boko Haram leader says of kidnapped Nigerian girls.

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video first obtained by Agence France-Presse.

“There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women,” he continued, according to a CNN translation from the local Hausa language….”Girls, you should go and get married,” he said.

Not surprisingly, there has been much criticism of the government’s response to the kidnappings.

Weeks after the girls’ April 14 kidnapping, Africa’s most populous country seems to be no closer to finding them, triggering complaints of ineptitude — some of which are expressed on Twitter with the globally trending hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

Nigeria’s finance minister said Monday that her country’s government remains committed to finding the girls, but should have done a better job explaining the situation to the public.

“Have we communicated what is being done properly? The answer is no, that people did not have enough information,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told CNN’s Richard Quest.

Revealing details about the investigation is tricky, she said, “because you are dealing with people that you don’t know, and you don’t know…what they might do to these girls.”

There is much more information about the Boko Haram group at the CNN link.

Those are my offerings for today. What stories are you following? Please share your links in the comment thread and have a lovely spring Tuesday!


Sunday Morning Reads………An Eclectic Mix

Good Morning, All. I am pinch hitting for JJ while she and her family are visiting our nation’s capital. I haven’t traveled much, but I have been to D.C. twice. What an amazing place. This will be an eclectic mix of links and stories, covering many different categories. I hope you will find at least some of them of interest to you.

This first group is about gardening. bb had mentioned to me that she likes to work in her garden, so I figured she would enjoy these. The first is a list of ideas on how to attract butterflies to your garden.

Planting your garden with plants that attract butterflies is only one step in making your garden butterfly-friendly. Once butterflies discover your garden the females will lay eggs on plants that become food for the hatching caterpillars.

The host plant selected, and the time of year the eggs are laid, depends on the species of butterfly. Different butterflies prefer different host plants.

Bees are pollinaters, picking up pollen as they go from flower to flower to gather nectar. Obviously they are an important component for a successful garden. Besides nectar, bees also need water and this has ideas about how to make a watering hole for bees.

As the temperature rise in the garden it is important to remember the bees you’re attracting to your garden will also be searching for water. For bees, a supply of water is as important as pollen and nectar forage in the summer.

Besides the lovely green foliage of a garden, it is important to do what we can to use “green” products. Treehugger contributor Ramon Gonzalez provides a list of 10 sustainable garden products.

A garden that is kinder to the earth can be achieved through the selection of products and tools that are sustainably manufactured or given new life through recycling. It’s never been so easy to build a garden that’s green from the moment you plunge that spade into the soil.

Many commercial fertilizers used in both gardening and farming contain phosphates. Aasif Mandvi of The Daily Show covered a story about Simplot, a phosphate mining company in Idaho. Naturally, it is a satirical look at the dangers of phosphate mining and the damage being done by the by-product, selenium. Greater Yellowstone Coalition is an environmental organization working to get J.R. Simplot Co. to Clean Up Its Smoky Canyon Mine Superfund Site.

The New York Times featured a story and video today about the industrial damage done to Newtown Creek since the mid-1800s, and Mitch Waxman who has chronicled its history. The waterway was declared a Super Fund site in 2010.

If Mitch Waxman is your guide, he will identify it as the derelict smokestack of Peter Van Iderstine’s fat-rendering business, which first set up shop in 1855. But he won’t stop there.
He will expound on the archaic waste-disposal operations that once flourished on the creek, conjuring scenes of putrescent horse carcasses floating in on barges from Manhattan and docks piled with manure three stories high. The narrative will extend to Cord Meyer’s bone blackers and Conrad Wissel’s night soil wharf — the gothic names of these forgotten businesses rattled off in a distinct Brooklyn accent.
At some point, he will start in on the horrors of the M. Kalbfleisch Chemical Works, eventually making his way to the sins of Standard Oil.

Moving on to some stories about activism that caught my eye. The first story comes from Truth-Out about The Heritage Foundation’s conference to re-brand the Occupy Movement. Matt Dineen interviews Jason del Grandio, the author of Rhetoric for Radicals. Here’s a snippet of what Jason has to say about his perceived purpose of the conference.

The speakers make frequent reference to capitalism, free markets and free enterprise, and often mention traditional buzzwords like individual liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Heritage Foundation is trying to understand the populist appeal of Occupy, and by doing so, trying to use that appeal to “win back” some of the Occupiers. Or, at the very least, to impede Occupy’s progress and win the hearts and minds of those who are still on the fence.

Brian Merchant interviews Tzeporah Berman, an environmental activist since was was 19, for Treehugger. This quote really hit home for me – you can’t un-know or un-see an injustice once your eyes, mind and heart have been opened to them.

Sometimes I wish I could open up a paper and not be immediately drawn to the story about mercury in fish or the dramatic increase in flooding in Sudan. But I can’t now.

Have you heard of Emem Okon, the Nigerian ecofeminist? I had not. She is a courageous woman, organizing other women of the Niger River Delta and taking on Chevron. The interview from Antonia Juhasz is reprinted from Ms magazine on Truth-Out.

One of the most prominent voices was Emem Okon, founder and executive director of Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre of Nigeria. A community organizer and women’s rights activist from the Niger Delta, Okon is leading a thriving Nigerian ecofeminist movement. She has coordinated several local women’s networks and coalitions, including Women Against Climate Change (WACC), International Network on Women and Environment, Niger Delta Women for Justice and Niger Delta Women’s Movement.

Speaking of women, the New York Times featured a story on the the Human Rights Film Festival at Lincoln Center. The review starts off with a profile of The Invisible War, which won the 2012 Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

It hardly needs to be said that any armed force has the potential for internal as well as external violence. But “The Invisible War,” Kirby Dick’s incendiary documentary about the epidemic of rape within the United States military, is a shocking and infuriating indictment of widespread sexual attacks on women. Such behavior, the film argues, is tacitly condoned and routinely covered up; the victims are often blamed and their reputations destroyed.

I found other links to discussions of the film, at the military publication, Stars and Stripes along with stories about Congress denying healthcare coverage for abortions for military women who have been raped. from Mother Jones.

The Rio+20 Summit begins on Monday, June 18th. President Obama and England’s David Cameron WON’T be attending, however Hillary Clinton will be representing the U.S. BBC News has more about Rio+20 and the awful state of the world’s oceans.

The researchers assessed the various pledges made at the landmark 1992 Earth Summit and 10 years later at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Governments vowed to establish an ecologically sound network of marine reserves by 2012, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal fishing, protect critical habitat, look after the needs of local fishermen and restore depleted stocks to healthy levels by 2015.

Subsidies have not been eliminated, and illegal fishing is still a major issue in some parts of the world.

Tom Ashbrook, host of NPR’s On Point, interviewed Bill McKibben of 350.org on Friday’s show. McKibben’s name is probably best known for the protests against the Keystone XL Pipeline, held outside of the White House, along with his subsequent arrest for protesting. You can listen to the audio at the link above. Here’s a short introduction:

Environmental champion Bill McKibben wrote nearly a quarter century ago about what he called “the end of nature.” The untouched wild. He didn’t think he was writing about the end of the world. But the climate change path since then has been a scary one. Bad to worse.

And McKibben has gone from writerly philosopher to full-on environmentalist to activist in handcuffs. Political street fighter. He was at the heart of the campaign to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. Arrested at the gates of the White House.

The current campaign of McKibben and 350.org is ending fossil fuel subsidies. These companies are paid by governments in the neighborhood of 1 TRILLION DOLLARS a year to pollute our planet. 350.org is organizing a Twitterstorm for June 18th. Although I don’t have a cell phone (and refuse to get one), I plan to set up a Twitter account so that I can participate. I hope that you will go to the link and sign up to participate as well. This quote comes from Treehugger about the Twitterstorm:

If you’re itching to do some petition signing right now: End Fossil Fuel Subsidies, and check out how your representative (in the US) stands on ending subsidies: End Fossil Fuel Subsidies Scorecard

There’s also more info on the Facebook event page: Twitter Storm: #EndFossilFuelSubsidies

Since it’s Father’s Day, I thought I would end this with a trbute video to a very special Dad
from Discovery News.


Sunday Reads: Occupy Superbowl, Alveda King throws women under bus, and the big homeless

Vintage ad for a Sunday Drive...

It is Sunday Morning…

All day yesterday, I kept thinking it was a Friday. It is strange how days have a certain “feel” about them… If you missed any of yesterday’s posts, Wonk the Vote, PeggySue, Dakinikat and BostonBoomer had some excellent ones, take a look.

I have a lot of links for you this morning, so we’ll just dive in.

First off, the Occupy movement got hit hard yesterday evening. More than 100 Occupy activists arrested in Oakland after clashing with police

Occupy activists tossed pipes, bottles, burning flares and other objects Saturday at Oakland police, who responded by using tear gas and smoke grenades and arresting more than 100 demonstrators, city and police officials said.

Oakland has been a flash point of the Occupy movement since October when police used tear gas to break up demonstrators who refused to leave downtown. One demonstrator, a Marine veteran of the war in Iraq, suffered a skull fracture after being hit with a police projectile, according to a veteran’s group. Police said they acted after the crowd threw paint and other objects at officers.

On Saturday, police made mass arrests following an afternoon clash with protesters near the Kaiser Convention Center and then later outside a downtown YMCA, according to a police statement.

Let’s look at another link covering the same event: Dozens arrested at Occupy Oakland; protesters break into City Hall

Dozens of people were arrested in downtown Oakland skirmishes on Saturday, as an estimated 2,000 Occupy protesters tried to take over the grounds a vacant convention center, then broke into City Hall.

Police used tear gas and “flash” grenades in the afternoon against protesters who tried to tear down fences around the vacant Henry Kaiser Convention Center, where they hoped to establish a new camp. Police said some demonstrators started throwing objects at officers. There were at least 19 arrests in the afternoon.

After 6 p.m. (9 p.m. ET), police in riot gear declared a group of protesters gathered near the YMCA under mass arrest for failing to disperse, according to local media reports and livestreams. Police said about 100 demonstrators were arrested.

Several protesters at  the YMCA appeared to be put hard to the ground as police moved in and at least one protester had blood on his face.

Hmmmm…Here are some of the tweets during the arrests:

Matthew K
Report: Oakland police turn away KPIX, KGO television news vans attempting to reach City Hall where protesters are inside.
Andrew Katz
My screenshot from ‘s feed shows just how many protestors are still awaiting arrest.
RT
protesters took over City Hall, set US flags on fire

Watchdog Progressive

Arrests at like nearly all the others prior to, have largely under the cover of night when the brutality is the worst.

Jen Angel

RT : Tag press suppression & journalist arrests with (please RT and send tips)

Andy Carvin

Woman being gurneyed into an ambulance is yelling “Officer 119!” in reference to the officer who allegedly hit beat her.

Cathastrophe

So…when do we get concerned that every Press Pass at an Occupy Protest becomes ‘suspect’ at the officers discretion.. which is always.
What Cathastrophe and JCStearns are talking about is the appearance of organized arrests with police targeting journalists.  As this series of tweets from a reporter at  810AM in San Francisco below illustrates:

KristinHanesKristin Hanes

Whenever journalists are arrested/detained for reporting the news, everyone’s freedom is at risk. That is what frightens me the most. #oo
Kristin Hanes
When we walked past mobile processing center, officer said, “I’ve never put a reporter in there and didn’t want to.”

Kristin Hanes

I was arrested. Then let go. My officer flagged his boss down and said, “do we really want to do this?”

Kristin Hanes

When I was taken to be ziptied sergeant looked at press pass, “Thats not an Oakland pass, you’re getting arrested.”

I think there will be more news on the arrests later today, as of 12:25 am:

OWS Livestream

And updating with this tweet @2:34am est

daudigDave Gilson

#freegavin RT @markfollman: NBC news reporting “at least 300” arrested tonight in Oakland. MoJo’s @garonsen is among them.
49 seconds ago Favorite Retweet Reply

Sticking with the Occupy subject a little more: Protesters march through Super Bowl Village

A mix of union members and Occupy protesters from across Indiana marched through Super Bowl Village on Saturday in opposition to the state’s proposed right-to-work legislation.

About 75 marchers weaved through packed crowds at the pre-game street fair in downtown Indianapolis in the first of what could be several such protests before the big game Feb. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The protesters chanted “Occupy the Super Bowl” and carried signs that read “Fight the Lie” and “Workers United Will Prevail.”

Saturday was the second straight day of right-to-work protests in the Super Bowl Village. About 40 people picketed the opening of a zip line in the Village. The 800-foot zip line allows participants to clip onto a wire about 100 feet off the ground and glide almost two blocks.

Most onlookers stared in silence as the protesters walked past them, but some like Jason Leibowitz of Jamestown were upset about their outing being interrupted. “There’s a place and a time for this,” Leibowitz said. “This isn’t it.”

Of course, the one guy these protesters are focused on is Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Most emphasized that while the right-to-work legislation appears likely to pass following Wednesday’s House vote approving the bill, that doesn’t mean an end to protests.

“If the governor signs, I want to shame him out of this state,” said Heath Hensley of Occupy Anderson. “He doesn’t want us screwing up this Super Bowl.”

State Senator Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, called the bill evidence that Republican legislators are not in touch with the needs of working-class voters. “If you voted Republican in the past, stop,” Breaux said.

Talking about protests and labor unions, last night the movie Made in Dagenham was on Showtime. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

I have a few other US items to share with you, after the jump.

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