Is it a Sunday Morning? Open Thread

70098bab7b5e88f59a91d87e908095faGood Morning

I think its Sunday, the first Sunday of Fall in fact.

The days have melted into a blur for me, they all seem to run together in a Lortab haze of Betadine orange stained gauze and purple cast bandages, the smell of jasmine tea and rubber arm pads of the crutches…the clanking sounds those same crutches make across the oak floor…or the calling “Mama” from my daughter’s room late at night early, early in the morning. (The Lortab haze being my daughter’s not mine! My haze is due to lack of sleep, LOL.)

Honestly, I don’t know what the hell is going on outside the confines of my house, so the links for this morning are a some I found about Facebook when I had a few minutes to get online.

I don’t know but this first bit of news is crazy: Virginia State Law Prohibited Navy Yard Shooter Aaron Alexis From Buying Ninja Stars How the hell is that even possible?

That link is from Mediate, Tommy Christopher wrote the article and it goes on about whether or not Alexis tried to purchase an AR-15 or not before the mass shooting…but the point I want to highlight is this:

In any case, Mr. Alexis did pass a federal background check, and given the proper ID and lead-time, could have purchased all of the AR-15s and handguns and extended magazines he wanted. However you feel about that, whether it’s a frightening fact of American life, or a shining example of liberty, how does it make sense that Virginia doesn’t ban those weapons, but it does ban the sale and possession of Ninja throwing stars?

If any person sells or barters, or exhibits for sale or for barter, or gives or furnishes, or causes to be sold, bartered, given or furnished, or has in his possession, or under his control, with the intent of selling, bartering, giving or furnishing, any blackjack, brass or metal knucks, any disc of whatever configuration having at least two points or pointed blades which is designed to be thrown or propelled and which may be known as a throwing star or oriental dart, switchblade knife, ballistic knife as defined in § 18.2-307.1, or like weapons, such person is guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. The having in one’s possession of any such weapon shall be prima facie evidence, except in the case of a conservator of the peace, of his intent to sell, barter, give or furnish the same.

As far as I can tell, no one has ever been killed by a Ninja star, a task for which they are apparently ill-suited. They did take a brief toll on late Apple CEO Steve Jobsrelationship with Japan’s tourism industry, but that’s about it. How is it that we are able to ban a weapon that kills no one, but we are completely unable to regulate weapons that kill tens of thousands each year?

According to the FBI, knives and stabbing weapons are used to kill about five times fewer people each year than guns, none of which appear to be Ninja stars. Why does the Second Amendment not cover Ninja stars? Why are Second Amendment advocates not up in arms about this?

On the bright side, the ban appears to be working. There have been a total of zero mass Ninja-starrings this year.

That is fucked up.

Okay, another link from Mediate. (I’m telling you, these are links I found real quick like!)  Matthews Gets in Shoutfest with GOP Rep. Over Birtherism Now, the only reason I am putting this link here is for the picture of the GOP Rep in the “shoutfest,” this is a dude who looks like he should be the punchline to one of those redneck jokes. Seriously. Check this out:

Chris Matthews tried to engage Texas Republican congressman Blake Farenthold in a debate over defunding Obamacare, but as soon as Farenthold noted Ted Cruz‘s presidential aspirations, Matthews dragged the interview off-course to ask if Cruz is qualified, which led to Matthews yelling at Farenthold to just say for the record that President Obama is the legitimately elected leader of the United States.

Matthews said as far as he’s concerned, having an American mother qualifies a person for the presidency, but when Farenthold didn’t reply with a yes or no answer, he asked, “Is this too complicated?” Farenthold answered, “He’s as eligible as Obama is.”

[…]

…when Matthews asked about whether Obama’s eligibility, Farenthold refused to give a direct answer. Matthews shouted, “Can’t you project an inch mentally? Just an inch?!” Farenthold refused to say the words “Obama is the legitimately elected president,” saying he wasn’t in Congress to make that determination and that Matthews is just “nit-picking.”

Okay, it is 2013 dude…you must have some money right? I mean ya got free health care, I am sure that includes dental. WTF, get a damn cap for that missing tooth. Or do you find that if you look like your constituents, as well as exude the dumb as dirt mentality, it helps with the polls? If you want to see the video, go ahead.

Sticking with the color Red: University of Alabama confronts racial divide: ‘It’s time to evolve past this’

At the University of Alabama, a turbulent week of allegations of racial discrimination, campus protests and promises of change culminated with at least six minority women accepting bids into traditionally white sororities. Campus groups, however, expressed doubts that changing the sororities would result in progress tackling long-standing racial biases on the southern campus.

School president Judy L Bonner announced the sorority bids in a video posted online on Friday.

“I am confident that we will achieve our objective of a greek system that is inclusive, accessible and welcoming to students of all races and ethnicities,” Bonner said. “We will not tolerate anything less.”

Bonner’s announcement came nearly two weeks after the Crimson White, UA’s student newspaper, reported that at least two black women were barred from sorority recruitment because of their race. With 28% of students involved in greek life – and deep alumni roots infiltrating the exclusive social clubs – sororities and fraternities have a powerful role in day-to-day campus life.

After national news organizations picked up the story, students, faculty and administrators began moving to enact change. Hundreds of students marched on campus this week to protest the segregated sororities.

The Crimson White? The name alone is enough to make you wonder.

Got another article from the Guardian: George Clooney’s satellite spies reveal secrets of Sudan’s bloody army

George Clooney in Darfur
George Clooney on a visit to the Zamzam refugee camp in north Darfur in 2008. Photograph: Sherren Zorba/AP

Nathaniel Raymond is the first to admit that he has an unusual job description. “I count tanks from space for George Clooney,” said the tall, easygoing Massachusetts native as he sat in a conference room in front of a map of the Sudanese region of South Kordofan.

Close by, pins and ink scrawlings on the map detail the positions of Sudanese army forces and refugee populations in the troubled oil-producing province, where the Sudanese army is carrying out a brutal crackdown.

The wall next to Raymond has a series of satellite images projected on it. At the flick of a mouse, tiny images of tanks and military vehicles hove into view, caught by a satellite hundreds of miles above.

Raymond is director of the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), which aims to use advanced satellite imagery to monitor potential human rights abuses in Sudan. And it was all Clooney’s idea, turning him from just another Hollywood liberal with a pet cause to a genuine expert and campaigner on Sudan. Together with John Prendergast, another campaigner, Clooney has sneaked repeatedly into the country to document the random bombing of civilians and other atrocities.

After a trip last month to the Nuba mountains, Clooney dodged rockets to return with grisly footage of corpses, children with missing hands and entire villages forced to live in caves. He showed the film to the Senate foreign relations committee in Washington DC – to great praise from the assembled politicians – then got arrested at a protest outside the Sudanese embassy.

Images of Clooney being taken away in handcuffs appeared in newspapers and on blogs around the world. But it is in the day-to-day work of the Satellite Sentinel Project that Clooney’s impact is really being felt. He came up with the idea, and spoke to Google and the satellite company DigitalGlobe to help set it up, and he donates hefty speaking fees to keep it funded. It has been up and running now for 15 months.

Read the rest of that article, please….

The next two links are from the New York Daily News:

Florida ‘Hiccup Girl’ found guilty of first-degree murder, will serve life in prison Remember this girl? Well, she did not even pull the trigger….and this from the same state that gave acquittals to Zimmerman and Anthony.

The verdict and five-day trial was a sad end to a chapter in Mee’s short and sad life. Her attorneys said she suffered from schizophrenia and Tourette’s Syndrome, and a court psychiatrist said Mee’s intelligence was “low normal.”
[…]
Mee’s co-defendant, LaRon Raiford, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in August. Lamont Newton, the other co-defendant who was also Mee’s boyfriend at the time of the crime, has not yet gone to trial.

Trevena said his client did not orchestrate the robbery and that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict her. But prosecutors said Mee did set everything up, and used police interviews and a taped jailhouse phone call between Mee and her mother as evidence.

During the call, she told her mother that she did not pull the trigger of the gun that killed Griffin, but that she was charged with murder.

“Because I set everything up,” Mee explained during the call that was played for the jury. “It all went wrong, Mom. It just went downhill.”

I don’t know. It all seems sad, like twisted and manipulated and unjust.

Here is the real reason I went to the Daily News, this story on the moon: NASA’s rotating Moon video reveals never-seen views of celestial body

The dark side of the moon never shined so bright!

NASA pieced together the first-ever video of the moon rotating with mapping data compiled over four years.

“It shows every surface of the moon being full,” NASA lunar geologist Noah Petro told the Daily News. “It’s a physically impossible view of the moon but it’s wonderful.”

It is very cool…and beautiful.

Now just two quick links:

The 7 Types Of Republicans And How To Debate Them – by Matthew Desmond at Addicting Info

If you’ve ever spent time trying to discuss politics with a Republican you’ve probably noticed that there are several different types of Republicans, all with their own unique debating style. In this article I’m going to attempt to break down the seven types of Republicans, what’s wrong with their views, and how you should debate them. I’ll start with the most intelligent, and work my way down.

Uh….after Intelligent Republicans, Desmond tackles: Fox News and Conservative Talk Radio Republicans, Christian Republicans, Tea Party Republicans, Birther Republicans, Racist Republicans, Extremely Uneducated Republicans.

This last link is something fun. MAPS: What Your State Is Good At, And What It’s Lame At Click the image to see the maps larger!

https://upworthy-production.s3.amazonaws.com/nugget/4f75604b5678e4000300000c/attachments/Enviro_Good_Map.jpg

I think the funniest state on this list is Tennessee…Most Caves….in the excel category and Most Sewer Overflows in the not excel category…yup…they got politicians with some of the biggest mouths and they are full of shit!

Well, that’s it…think of this as an open thread.

One last thing, for Ralph…hope you are doing fine and recovering from your surgery…here is a funny movie you will enjoy while you try to relax.

Noises Off!

I love the line…I don’t know what you’re waiting for, her 18th birthday?


Sunday Reads: Typing an Artform?

167125836141752866_skehgg6V_c

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 keirarathbone.com for more examples of her work.

 

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

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

SHORPY_29043a.preview

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?


Sunday Reads: Don’t like spiders or snakes, you fool…

Good Morning…

Yesterday was a crazy day for me, our car broke down, and it cost more to fix it than it was worth…so we ended spending most of Saturday in a dealer showroom. It was excruciating.

Then last night we had a candlelight vigil for my friend Derrick, who was killed last year. That was both upsetting and emotional…

So I’m writing this post blind, and hope that these links are not repeats for ya.

The latest news out of Chicago: Thousands Gather in Support of Chicago Teachers

the first teacher strike this city has seen in 25 years, a rally — not quite victory party, not quite vitriolic protest — was roaring just miles away.

Thousands of people, the largest celebration of union force since the strike began nearly a week ago, shook homemade protest signs in the air and wore the signature red T-shirts of the Chicago Teachers Union as they descended on Union Park, just west of downtown. The city skyline rose behind a stage from which a lineup of politicians, teachers, students and activists spoke about union strength and the need for better school conditions in the city.

They may be close to an agreement, or at least getting down to the nitty gritty, according to the Chicago Tribune:  Teacher rally as lawyers labor over details

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis becomes emotional Saturday as she greets supporters at a rally at Union Park. (Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune / September 15, 2012)

Thousands of teachers from Chicago and beyond rallied at a Near West Side park Saturday as lawyers labored into the night at a Loop office to turn a framework for a new contract into finer points that can become a deal.

Parents can expect to wait until Sunday afternoon or later to find out whether their children will return to class Monday morning after missing a week of school because of the Chicago Teachers Union strike. Hundreds of union leaders are supposed to meet Sunday for a potential vote that could end the walkout.

While attorneys talked terms in private, the Saturday afternoon rally was filled with very public symbolism. Out-of-state teachers traveled to Union Park in solidarity with a city teachers union that has attracted national attention as organized labor looks for lessons in a fight with cash-strapped government.

After last night’s vigil, we went to eat at one of the local chicken joints…and Fox news was blazing away on the big screens. By the looks of all those “Fox News alerts” something big was going on.  Via HuffPo US orders some diplomats out of Sudan, Tunisia

The State Department on Saturday ordered the departure of all family members and non-essential U.S. government personnel from its embassies in Sudan and Tunisia and warned U.S. citizens against any travel to the two countries due to security concerns over rising anti-American violence.

“Given the security situation in Tunis and Khartoum, the State Department has ordered the departure of all family members and non-emergency personnel from both posts, and issued parallel travel warnings to American citizens,” said department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

In Tunisia, the warning advised Americans that the international airport in Tunis is open and encouraged all U.S. citizens to depart on commercial flights. It said Americans who chose to remain in Tunisia should use extreme caution and avoid demonstrations. On Friday, protesters climbed the walls into the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, torching cars in the parking lot, trashing the entrance building and setting fire to a gym and a neighboring American school that is now unusable.

In Sudan, the warning said that while the Sudanese government has taken steps to limit the activities of terrorist groups, some remain and have threatened to attack Western interests. The terrorist threat level remains “critical” throughout Sudan, the department said. It noted that U.S. officials are already required to travel in armored vehicles and to get permission to travel outside Khartoum, where crowds torched part of the German Embassy and tried to storm the U.S. Embassy on Friday.

They are reporting some holdup in deploying the Marines because of the Sudan Government.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton worked the phones on Saturday, calling top officials from seven countries to discuss the situation following a wave of protest and violence over an anti-Muslim film that has swept across the Middle East and elsewhere in recent days. An obscure, amateurish movie called “Innocence of Muslims” that depicts Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a pedophile sparked the outrage.

I will post some updates in the comments below, it seems things are not cooling off any time soon.

The rest of today’s links will be on the human interest side.  Mars has been in the news a lot this week, check it out, from Geekosystem:

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Shows It Snows Dry Ice on Mars

While Curiosity has been getting a lot of well-deserved attention lately, it’s worth remembering that everyone’s favorite rover isn’t the only one doing cool stuff with Mars. When it’s not getting some glamour shots of its ground-based cousin, the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter (MRO) is still finding out all sorts of neat things about our nearest sibling in the solar system, like confirming the suspicion that Mars has instances in which it snows dry ice — carbon dioxide that has frozen at temperatures below -193 degrees Fahrenheit.

The super-cold snowfall takes place at the Martian poles, where solid dry ice has been known to exist for some time. It has never been observed as falling snow, though, so its origins, though suspected, remained uncertain. Not anymore, though. Analysis of clouds of CO2 imaged by the MRO in the Martian winter of 2006-2007 demonstrates that in addition to familiar, hydrogen dioxide snow, which was seen on the planet in 2008 by the Phoenix lander, the red planet gets snowstorms of frozen carbon dioxide.

Cool innit?

Also, from Mars, this time from the Opportunity Rover:

The above picture may not look like much, but it could be a huge deal. The photograph, taken by the Opportunity Rover at Mars’ Cape York site, shows iron spherules that researchers commonly refer to as “blueberries.” Similar formations are found here on Earth. The catch is that, here, they are formed with help from microbial organisms, suggesting that these unassuming iron marbles could be a telltale sign of ancient life on the red planet.

Typically just a couple millimeters across, iron blueberries are a pretty standard part of the Martian landscape, found on the ground of the Cape York site where Opportunity is doing its research or embedded in rock. They bear a distinct resemblance to the “Moqui marbles” found around the American southwest. Ranging in size rom BB pellets to cannonballs, Moqui marbles are not unlike geological M&Ms, consisting of a thin iron shell filled will sand.

A study published earlier this month in the journal Geology found strong evidence that the marbles are not a purely geological oddity, but were formed with an assist from microbes. That finding is a strong suggestion that the Moqui marbles’ Martian cousins may be a good candidate for indicators that Mars once sustained microbial life.

It looks like coral to me. 😉

This next history, archeology, science link is really interesting…King Tut Death: Epilepsy Killed Boy King Tutankhamun, New Theory Suggests Wow, as someone who suffers from epilepsy, it is strange to see how they have developed this new theory.

A British surgeon is touting a new theory regarding what killed King Tut, the Egyptian pharaoh who died at 19 and whose life and death have fascinated the public since his tomb was discovered in 1922.

[…]

People have attributed the cause of death to murder, a fall from a chariot that led to a fractured leg and even a hippopotamus attack. But according to Hutan Ashrafian, a surgeon at Imperial College London, Tut suffered from a hereditary form of epilepsy, the Washington Post reports.

Ashrafian said Tut’s supposed feminine features — the king has been depicted in statues and renderings as having had breasts and wide hips — are signs that he had a form of epilepsy that affects the temporal lobe, which is known to be involved with hormone release. The disease might be to blame for Tut’s death in addition to the deaths of several of his predecessors who died at young ages, Ashrafian claims.

Ashrafian also points to King Tut’s broken thigh bone, which he argues may have come from a fall during a seizure. The religious hallucinations Tut and his predecessors reportedly experienced were further evidence of the disease, Ashrafian told the Post, citing that seizures starting in the temporal lobe can result in such visions after sunlight exposure. The doctor reportedly came to these conclusions after reviewing family history of the king.

DNA studies have show that Tut suffered from malaria and a bone disorder that comes from inbreeding. (I could make a comment out Banjoville, but I won’t.)

Since the chests of both Tut and his father were missing, the researchers couldn’t definitively say whether or not Tut and his father had feminine features, which could suggest the presence of a genetic disorder.

However, the scientists noted that the mummies didn’t have signs of gynecomastia or Marfan syndrome, conditions that would result in the development of breasts in males. Some researchers theorized that representations of Tut and his father with breasts could reflect the belief that gods were androgynous.

According to Discovery News, however, German researchers later disputed the conclusions, instead suggesting that abnormalities in Tut’s foot were indicative of sickle-cell disease.

In 2005, researchers ruled out the murder theory after conducting CAT scans. They concluded that a bone fragment found Tut’s skull was from the mummification process rather than a blow to the head.

With the conclusion of that article I have to post this:

King Tut

Yes, it is a link to Steve Martin’s performance on SNL back in the seventies….

On to another cool dude, this time he is not wearing “jammies” he is sporting a bow tie, I am talking of course about Dr. Who…this American Prospect article by Amanda Marcotte discusses women on the new Dr. Who series: Bowties Are Cool, but So Are Kickass Female Characters

(AP Photo/ Donald Traill)

Actors Matt Smith and Karen Gillian are seen on location filming “Doctor Who” in New York on Wednesday, April 11, 2012.

For fans of the BBC’s reboot of the long-running sci-fi series Doctor Who, the beginning of season seven this September has a lot on offer so far: The Doctor in full badass hero form, a new potential sexy genius Companion, dinosaurs on spaceships, and Daleks, the villains that have been fan favorites since nearly the beginning of the series.

I wasn’t so crazy about the last remake, that doctor was too good looking and not “geeky” enough. I guess that is why I like the BBC’s latest version.  But as Marcotte points out, the role of women on the show is stereotypical female. The show is getting pushed into a new direction from Steven Moffat who took over the show this season.

has doubled down on tinkering with the show to make it more appealing to mainstream audiences. To do so, he decided to turn down the volume on sci-fi cheese and inject more story lines about love, family, and romance. While this idea appeals in the abstract to many feminists who want the world of sci-fi and fantasy to stop being so decidedly dudely, many feminists have strong objections to how Moffat went about it. His strategy was to take the Doctor’s new companion, a character role on the show that is traditionally all about wide-eyed curiosity and boundless courage, and turn her story line into one about getting married and having babies.

Ever since Amy Pond first set foot onscreen, feminist fans have complained that Moffat created a fun character, gave the role to off-the-charts charming actress Karen Gillan, and then turned her into a passive object whose main job is to be married off to her simpering boyfriend Rory Williams. To make it worse, the relationship fits neatly into what feminists have deemed the “nice guy” narrative: That if a man hangs in long enough and shows enough devotion, a woman is pretty much obliged to be with him, even if her heart isn’t in it. Last year, Sady Doyle wrote the definitive piece detailing feminist objections to any and all stories about the Pond marriage:

The moment the Doctor found out about Rory, the importance of time-traveling adventures decreased radically. Instead, the Doctor became a matchmaker and alien fairy godmother, single-mindedly devoted to making sure that Amy overcame her ambivalence about Rory and married him straight away. He referred to this process as “getting [Amy] sorted out.” From henceforth, both the Doctor and the show have been cramming every bony, whiny inch of Rory down our throats, in a doomed attempt to convince us that he is awesome.

Read the rest if you are a Dr. fan…or not. There needs to be some more kickass roles out there for women, obviously…no question about that, but I think you may find Marcotte’s take on the new female character interesting.

Finally, I hate spiders and snakes: Alien Snakes Help Spiders Overrun Guam

Yuk, this island is full of both!

he jungles of Guam have up to 40 times more spiders than do the forested areas of nearby Pacific islands thanks in part to the brown tree snake, according to a study published this week in the journal PLoS One.

The bird-devouring snake from northern Australia and nearby islands was introduced to Guam in the 1940s. The ravenous reptile became the dominant predator; bird numbers plummeted. By the 1980s, 10 of 12 native bird species had been wiped out, and the last two survive only in small areas, protected by intense snake-trapping.

Small-scale experiments show that areas without birds have more spiders – which makes sense, because birds eat spiders and the insects upon which spiders feed. But the sheer numbers of spiders found in Guam’s jungles were much greater than predicted by these small studies, suggesting the removal of birds from an entire forest can have unforeseen — and creepy — effects.

You can guess what those are, yes?

Study author Haldre Rogers, a researcher at Rice University in Houston, counted spiders throughout Guam’s jungles by counting spider webs (which correlate with spider population and are commonly used as a stand-in measurement).

The difference between the number of spiders Rogers and her colleagues counted on Guam and three nearby islands that still have birds “was far more dramatic than what any small-scale experiments had previously found,” she said in a statement from Rice.

“Anytime you have a reduction in insectivorous birds, the system will probably respond with an increase in spiders,” Rogers said. And she thinks this may be true elsewhere. “With insectivorous birds in decline in many places in the world, I suspect there has been a concurrent increase in spiders.”

That creeps me out, but it does lead me to the title of today’s post.

So y’all have a wonderful day, and please share what you are reading and thinking about this morning.


SDB Evening News Reads for 071411: Manatees from Hell and EPA Blues

Good evening y’all, I got some good stuff for you today…with all the debt ceiling talk going on…I am going to highlight some news you may have missed.

Okay, first things first…check out this narrative of a college student and the problems she is having now that Planned Parenthood in her state has been defunded.  The State War On Planned Parenthood Heats Up

Planned Parenthood
When 21-year old Christina Martel would renew her birth control prescription at Planned Parenthood, it was usually a relatively simple affair. But this summer, getting her prescription became significantly more difficult.

Martel, who is uninsured and makes less than $1000 a month at her part-time job, said she can’t afford to go to a regular gynecologist to get her prescription adjusted, so she asked her new Indianapolis Planned Parenthood clinic about their sliding-pay scale for low-income patients this past June.

The clinic told Martel she would have to pay full price to meet with a physician because they had just been defunded by the state government, so she decided to wait until she returned to her home-state New Hampshire last week to have a doctor’s appointment. Not only had Planned Parenthood been defunded there as well, she found out, but their license to dispense birth control and antibiotics had also been taken away.

“I was shocked to learn that they were no longer able to dispense medication on-site, and enraged when I realized this meant that I would have to pay triple the cost to get it filled at a pharmacy,” she told HuffPost in an email.

Martel had paid $12 for a month’s worth of birth control pills at Planned Parenthood. She now has to pay $33 a month at the regular pharmacy, which she said really starts to add up.

Hey, going from 12 bucks to 33 bucks a month can be a difficult thing to deal with, especially if you are living on Raman noodles and peanut butter.

We all know who is making this war on women…but here is a good quote from a Connecticut Democrat Representative Rosa DeLauro.

GOP lawmakers in four states so far — Indiana, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Kansas — have defunded Planned Parenthood in their 2011 legislative sessions because some of the organization’s clinics provide abortions. A council of five men in New Hampshire voted to stop the flow of Title X family planning funds to Planned Parenthood and cancel a state contract that allowed it to dispense low-cost birth control and antibiotics on site. Texas passed a bill that puts Planned Parenthood at the bottom of the priority list for state funds, and an Ohio lawmaker floated a “Dear Colleague” letter on Wednesday announcing his intention to defund the health provider.

“The real purpose here, as I’ve come to view it, is to impose a traditional view of a women’s role,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told HuffPost. “Republicans don’t really care what the benefits of Title X funding are in terms of women’s health, so women’s health is held hostage. Planned Parenthood can prevent 4,000 women a year from dying of cervical cancer with screenings and vaccines, but that is not of interest to them because of a personal and philosophical agenda.”

Damn straight!  Now on to crimes against humanity.  Attacks in Sudan Could Amount to War Crimes, U.N. Report Says – NYTimes.com

An unpublished report from the United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Sudan gives details of violence that has erupted in an important border state, including widespread aerial bombardments that kill civilians, executions, possible mass graves and attacks on churches.

The report emerged as the newly minted Republic of South Sudan, which officially seceded from the northern part of the country on July 9, was admitted to the United Nations on Thursday. Its designated ambassador, Ezekiel Gatkuoth, broke out a few jubilant dance moves as the new country’s striped flag, with its distinctive yellow star, rose alongside those of the other 192 member states.

What is upsetting here is that it appears certain ethnic/religious groups of people are being targeted.

Yet the United Nations report suggests that in its effort to stamp out any lingering rebellion in the state, South Kordofan, which borders South Sudan but will remain entirely in the territory of Sudan, the northern government based in Khartoum has carried out widespread human rights violations that could amount to war crimes.

Much of the violence is focused on the Nuba people, a mostly Christian minority that fought alongside the south during many of the decades of its 50-year independence struggle.

I am still working my way through the book Dancing in the Glory of Monsters, by Jason K. Stearns, and I have to say that targeting a group of people because of their ethnic or religious background seems to be a common practice in Africa.  (Actually all over the world, but you all know that already.)  The thing about this kind of violent discrimination is that it is supported and enforced by the military…who train young children soldiers (ages 11 or 12 and up) to kill and rape these people as if it was second nature.  The book continues to show in interviews how natural and matter of fact many of these former soldiers from Rwanda and Congo discuss the violence they committed.

The latest on the News Corp hacking…FBI Launches Investigation Into News Corp. 9/11 Hacking Allegations | Reuters

The Federal Bureau of Investigation opened a preliminary investigation Thursday regarding allegations that News Corp. journalists attempted to hack the phones of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal are reporting.

The decision comes a day after Rep. Peter T. King, a Republican from New York, sent a letter to FBI director Robert Mueller insisting the bureau open such an investigation. The FBI told TheWrap its policy is to neither confirm nor deny reports of investigations.

I think the shit is really hitting the fan for Murdock over in Great Britain…

Just two more links for you this evening.

First the EPA got kicked in the ass today…Steve Fleischli: House Votes to Roll Back Clean Water Act

In a 239 to 184 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives voted today to roll back key provisions of the federal Clean Water Act by passing H.R. 2018, formally known as the “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011.” We call it the “Dirty Water Act.”

As my colleagues and I have pointed out (here, here and here), this bill creates disastrous consequences for water quality across the country. “Shortsighted” and “reckless” are words that immediately come to mind. As EPA has warned, H.R. 2018 “overturn[s] almost 40 years of federal legislation by preventing EPA from protecting public health and water quality.”

The bill stems from its sponsors’ distaste for EPA’s recent important efforts to protect water quality in West Virginia and Florida.

In essence, the bill takes the “federal” out of the federal Clean Water Act by allowing states to veto EPA water quality decisions even when a waterway is severely polluted. The bill also limits EPA’s ability to effectively make improvements to state water quality standards to deal with modern pollution challenges (like toxic pollutants). By hamstringing EPA in these ways, H.R. 2018 removes a national safety net that guarantees everyone in this country a minimum level of water quality protection no matter where you live.

So, all you folks that live in places where the EPA has found high concentrations of toxic crap in your water, take notice.  Honestly, these GOP politicians want to do the population in.  Can you guess who is usually more affected by polluted toxic chemicals in water?  Children are always more susceptible because as they grow they covert these toxins in a different and more dangerous way then grown adults.  But kids are worthless to these people.

And, on to another worthless creature.  I love this picture, he looks like my English Bulldog…and what a sceptical expression in those little eyes. The Maddow Blog – Manatee mayhem: This aggression will not stand!

Just look at him. Roaming OUR waters like he owns the place. Twelve hundred  pounds of soft, smug entitlement. Manatees. Face it, it’s us …or them.

Luckily, some tea partiers in Florida are making a stand against these freeloading punks. Reports the St. Petersburg Times:

“A Citrus County tea party group has announced that it’s fighting new restrictions on boating and other human activities in Kings Bay that have been proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

Fumed Edna Mattos, 63, leader of the Citrus County Tea Party Patriots, “We cannot elevate nature above people, That’s against the Bible and the Bill of Rights.”

Hell yeah, these manatees are coming right for us, we got to protect ourselves against these ferocious monsters.

And before any bleeding hearts start whining, oh, but manatees are endangered, here are five solid reasons to shut down this sea cow scurge, stat!

  1. Technically manatees are illegals living off the grid. Just wait, they’ll want to vote soon.
  2. They’re totally nude. Get a caftan, dude, that’s half a ton of wrinkly wrong right there.
  3. As for their swimming, you say slow, I say passive aggressive. They can swim 50 miles an hour…if they WANTED to. Tick tock, tick tock!!
  4. Thomas Jefferson had a speedboat, and trust me, manatees back then got the hell out of HIS way.
  5. Manatees have no natural enemies. News flash, genius, you’ve got some now!

That’s it for me, y’all have a good evening.


Sunday Reads: Popes, Baseballs and New Nations…

Good Sunday Morning! I just watched The Social Network for the first time…and feel like I have just sat through 2 hours of the kind of fast talking you hear at the end of car commercials. (Do they even have those fast talking legalese any more?) It was excruciating…and then what made it worse was the horrible sexist attitudes that these egotistical nerds seem to exuded with such nonchalant indifference. Ugh…guess you can tell I did not like it.  So as I write today’s post (late on Saturday Night) I keep on hearing that annoying voice of Jessie Eisenberg.  Let’s see if I can somehow ignore it droning on in the back of my brain.

There has been another earthquake in Japan, same area…and tsunami warnings were issued.

Major earthquake strikes off the northern coast of Japan – CNN.com

t1larg.japan.quake.map.jpg
A major earthquake struck off northeastern Japan Sunday, prompting tsunami advisories for several coastal regions, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, according to the Japanese news agency Kyodo.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake struck at 10:57 a.m. at the epicenter, about 130 miles east of Sendai.

The earthquake was more than 20 miles deep and had a magnitude of 7.0, the USGS said.

The JMA measured the magnitude of the quake at 7.1.

Tsunami advisories were issued for the coastal regions of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the JMA said.

I hope the damage is limited…and from what the reports say, the tsunami is estimated at 20 cm.

There is a new country in the world today, South Sudan: A Hidden Tour of Juba, the Newest World Capital – TIME

A rope suspended across the street in Gumbo Market marks the entrance to Juba. A long line of trucks, blurred by the heat and dust, waits at the makeshift border — guarded only by a handful of policemen.

Brazilian chicken, Chinese refrigerators, Kenyan cigarettes, vegetables from Uganda and medicine from India…the cargo heats in the sun. David Grassly, the head of the UN representation in Juba says that in 2005 “beer used to be brought here from Yei by bike, 90 miles south of here, near the Democratic Republic of Congo and former Republic of Zaire.” The reason: only bikes could zigzag between the mines left during the second civil war in Sudan (1983-2005). (See pictures of South Sudan celebrating its independence.)

Six years later, as it declares its independence, South Sudan still imports most basic foodstuffs. Trucks have to drive many miles to provide water to homes that do not have electricity either.

Give that article a read, it is actually from Le Monde and is a very good read.

Here is what Hillary Clinton had to say, she wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post: Independence day for South Sudan – The Washington Post

This weekend, in Juba, South Sudan, Africa’s 54th nation was born. Millions of people are celebrating a new national identity and new national promise. Like on our own July Independence Day 235 years ago, there is reason to hope for a better future — if the people and leaders of both Sudan and South Sudan commit themselves to the hard work ahead.This day was far from inevitable. For more than two decades, Sudan has been riven by intense fighting over land and resources. Just a year ago, talks between the Sudanese government in the north and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in the south had stalled. Preparations for a referendum on southern independence had fallen behind. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005 appeared close to collapse. A return to open conflict seemed likely.

Thankfully, people on both sides and across the world worked together to chart a different path.

She goes on to say:

But just as independence was not inevitable, neither is a lasting peace between Sudan and South Sudan. Decades of war have left deep distrust on both sides and significant social, political and economic challenges. Both nations will have to take decisive steps to consolidate progress.

Clinton mentions three steps that must be done to achieve that progress and states that the US will be there to support South Sudan as they “lay the foundation” for a new nation.

Boehner has rejected Obama’s Grand Scheme, as Boston Boomer wrote about last night:  Boehner rejects Obama’s “Grand Plan” to exchange safety net cuts for cosmetic “revenue increases” « Sky Dancing

Is it possible that Boehner decided he didn’t want to risk tampering with Social Security and Medicare? After all, we know the Tea Party crowd doesn’t want to lose their safety net any more than the rest of us. Remember those signs at Tea Party rallies that read “Don’t mess with my Medicare?” One of the big issues for Republicans in 2010 was the claim that Obama’s health reform bill included Medicare cuts.

Just a thought. On the other hand, maybe it’s all just a kabuki dance to fool the progs into supporting Obama’s Hooveresque policies.

This next link is one I am looking forward to watching from my back yard, H/T to Susie Madrak:

EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2011 | Astronomy Essentials | EarthSky

Coming next – in late July and early August – the best time of year to watch meteors. The Delta Aquarid meteor shower and the Perseid meteor shower converge to put on a show. In 2011, the moon will be in a waxing phase during the first part of August. Full moon will come on August 13, a peak morning for the Perseids. You’ll want to watch in late July and the first week of August to have moonless skies from midnight to dawn, the best time of night for watching meteors.

Visit EarthSky Tonight – updated daily!

Very cool, isn’t it.  Think of these planets and stars, these celestial bodies that have been around since the beginning of time, and then wrap your mind around this: Barbara Hannah Grufferman: Will America Kill the Equal Rights Amendment?

I wrote an article last week — “From Hope to History: It’s Time to Pass the Equal Rights Amendment” — that generated hundreds of comments and thousands of shares. Why? Many readers were dismayed and confused to learn that this simply worded sentence is still not in the U.S. Constitution, even after 88 years:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Readers who believed the Equal Rights Amendment had already passed through Congress to become the 28th Amendment to the Constitution years ago were shocked. The amendment, first written in 1923 by Alice Paul, was, in fact, approved by Congress and sent to the states in 1972 with a ten-year deadline for ratification, but by 1982, supporters had managed to sign on only 35 of the 38 states needed to add the amendment to the Constitution.

Some who are not in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment claim it is redundant and unnecessary, often citing the 14th Amendment, which they say already protects the rights of women. It does not. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia publicly stated that the 14th Amendment was never intended to protect women. It was only intended to protect race. Federal and state law cannot protect citizens who are not protected under the Constitution. He made this remark in January 2011:

Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.

Sensing that people are as confused about the issue as I am, but just as eager to turn the promise of the Equal Rights Amendment into a reality, I interviewed key thought leaders who are directly involved in efforts to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed.

Why do we need the Equal Rights Amendment?

Read the rest of Barbara’s article and see…

From Minx’s Missing Link File:  Jeter, Relentlessly Consistent, Reaches 3,000 Hits With a Home Run – NYTimes.com This is exciting for me, I am a Yankee Fan…one of my childhood friends, Tino Martinez played for the Yankees during the 90’s and since I used to go see Tino play over at West Tampa Little League when we were kids, I had to continue watching him throughout his career.  Since then, the Yankees have been a favorite of mine.  This 3,000 hit comes at a game played against my Hometown, Tampa Bay Devil Rays…so it makes me smile.

Suzy Allman for The New York Times

With his teammates cheering, Derek Jeter runs the bases after hitting his 3,000th hit — a solo home run — in the third inning. More Photos »

The pursuit of a sports milestone can seem like a march to the inevitable. Fans have known for years that barring a catastrophic injury, Derek Jeter would reach 3,000 career hits. The only question was how.

 Jeter, the Yankees’ captain, answered it Saturday with a performance that ranks among the greatest of his decorated career. He slammed a home run in the third inning for his 3,000th hit, and capped a five-hit day with the go-ahead single in the eighth inning of a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium.

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  When I was in college getting my Medieval History degree (cough) I took a course about the Papacy, and it was fascinating.  This latest book from John Julius Norwich looks like something I will have to add to my collection.  Book Review – Absolute Monarchs – A History of the Papacy – By John Julius Norwich – NYTimes.com

“Absolute Monarchs” sprawls across Europe and the Levant, over two millenniums, and with an impossibly immense cast: 265 popes (plus various usurpers and anti­popes), feral hordes of Vandals, Huns and Visigoths, expansionist emperors, Byzantine intriguers, Borgias and Medicis, heretic zealots, conspiring clerics, bestial inquisitors and more. Norwich man­ages to organize this crowded stage and produce a rollicking narrative. He keeps things moving at nearly beach-read pace by being selective about where he lingers and by adopting the tone of an enthusiastic tour guide, expert but less than reverent.

A scholar or devout Roman Catholic would probably not have had so much fun, for example, with the tale of Pope Joan, the mid-ninth-century Englishwoman who, according to lore, disguised herself as a man, became pope and was caught out only when she gave birth. Although Norwich regards this as “one of the hoariest canards in papal history,” he cannot resist giving her a chapter of her own. It is a guilty pleasure, especially his deadpan pursuit of the story that the church, determined not to be fooled again, required subsequent papal candidates to sit on a chaise percée (pierced chair) and be groped from below by a junior cleric, who would shout to the multitude, “He has testicles!” Norwich tracks down just such a piece of furniture in the Vatican Museum, dutifully reports that it may have been an obstetric chair intended to symbolize Mother Church, but adds, “It cannot be gainsaid, on the other hand, that it is admirably designed for a diaconal grope; and it is only with considerable reluctance that one turns the idea aside.”

Oh yes, get me to the bookstore…or at least Amazon.  Sounds intriguing doesn’t it?

So what are you reading about today, post some links please! It has been so wonderful to read your comments lately. I will link to this post from yesterday, great comments:  We’ve not come Far Enough when it comes to asserting Sexual Assault Claims « Sky Dancing

Many of you seem to be on a roll…turning to humor to get through the day. We appreciate that, and we appreciate you too!

Oh, and if you missed Wonk’s post, take a look…it will make you feel good.  Have a pleasant Sunday,  catch y’all in the comments.


Sunday Reads: Isn’t it pretty to think so?

Happy Father’s Day to all you baby daddies everywhere! Just a few links for you today, let’s get to it…

New figures of radiation are being released in Japan, there is a real good post about this at naked capitalism, called Global Nuclear Update.

Science Magazine reports that Japanese scientists have become so concerned about the health of their children that they have initiated their own radiation monitoring program and made their own maps. The results are shocking.

***

It shows one wide belt of radiation reaching 225 kilometers south from the stricken reactors to Tokyo and another extending to the southwest. Within those belts are localized hot spots, including an oval that encloses northeast Tokyo and Kashiwa and neighboring cities in Chiba Prefecture.

***

A map of citizen measured radiation levels shows radioactivity is distributed in a complex pattern reflecting the mountainous terrain and the shifting winds across a broad area of Japan north of Tokyo which is in the center of the of bottom of the map.

That article has info on many other Nuclear sites throughout the world.  Take some time to read it.

Why is it when any distressing news comes out of Africa, it always seems to involves such large numbers?  Half a million displaced as Khartoum moves to crush Sudan’s Nuba people | World news | The Observer

A Sudanese man waves the regional flag

New fighting has increased the chances that a north-south war will reignite, ending hopes of peaceful partition Photograph: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Fierce new fighting along Sudan‘s volatile north-south divide is raising deep concern for the safety of the Nuba people, the forgotten victims of the country’s long-running civil war who are once again under attack by government forces and militias.

The fighting has significantly increased the chances that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the civil war six years ago will collapse, reigniting a north-south war and ending all hopes of peaceful partition when oil-rich South Sudan formally declares itself independent on 9 July.

[…]

On 5 June, as the Sudanese government army prepared to “control” – disarm – Nuba fighters, fighting erupted in South Kordofan’s capital, Kadugli, and spread quickly across most of the region. The battle for Kadugli became a street-by-street war of attrition: Khartoum piled in brigades of regulars and irregulars, and the SPLA relentlessly mortared the army’s divisional headquarters.

The UN has issued a report stating that human right offenses are becoming more frequent, and a humanitarian crises is being to build.

On Thursday the Nuba leader, Abdelaziz Adam al-Hilu, told African Union (AU) mediators frantically crafting a ceasefire agreement that more than 3,000 people have disappeared – either killed or their whereabouts unknown – “because they are Nuba or belong to the SPLA”. He said 400,000-500,000 have been displaced, in a population of approximately 2.5 million, and more than 50 towns had been bombed.

Food, he said, was being used as a weapon, with no flow of goods to rural areas since May. Kadugli airport has been closed to humanitarian flights. Relief coming by road has been turned away.

The deadline for the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) staff to leave Khartoum has been set for July 9th,  but the situation has become so violent they are afraid to leave the compound.

Justice Clarence Thomas is again in the news, and this time,  the “friends” he keeps are bringing about serious questions regarding ethics and the Supreme Court.  Friendship of Justice and Magnate Puts Focus on Ethics – NYTimes.com

The seafood cannery that Justice Thomas mother once worked is now becoming a large museum in Pin Point, GA, just outside of Savannah, GA is a new pet project of Thomas.  According to the NYT, Thomas became interested in the property when he met the owner Algernon Varn, while visiting his birthplace in coastal GA.

Varn told Mike McIntire of the NYT:

“And Clarence said, ‘Well, I’ve got a friend I’m going to put you in touch with,’ ” Mr. Varn recalled, adding that he was later told by others not to identify the friend.

The publicity-shy friend turned out to be Harlan Crow, a Dallas real estate magnate and a major contributor to conservative causes. Mr. Crow stepped in to finance the multimillion-dollar purchase and restoration of the cannery, featuring a museum about the culture and history of Pin Point…

The project throws a spotlight on an unusual, and ethically sensitive, friendship that appears to be markedly different from those of other justices on the nation’s highest court.

Many remember the last time Thomas was in the news because of his questionable ethics practices.

In January, the liberal advocacy organization Common Cause asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Justices Thomas and Antonin Scalia should have recused themselves from last year’s Citizens United campaign finance case because they had attended a political retreat organized by the billionaire Koch brothers, who support groups that stood to benefit from the court’s decision.

A month later, more than 100 law professors asked Congress to extend to Supreme Court justices the ethics code that applies to other federal judges, and a bill addressing the issue was introduced.

It is not unusual for justices to accept gifts or take part in outside activities, some with political overtones.

The article mentions a few examples of Judges who participate in events that are connected to outside interest.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg participated in a symposium sponsored by the National Organization for Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, and a philanthropic foundation once tried to give her a $100,000 achievement award. She instructed that the money be given to charity.

Unlike Federal Judges that have a code they must follow, the Supreme court is not bound by a code of conduct. However, they claim to “adhere” to it.

Beyond the admonition against fund-raising, the code generally discourages judges from partaking in any off-the-bench behavior that could create even the perception of partiality. It acknowledges the value in judges’ being engaged with their communities, lecturing on the law and doing charitable work, but draws a line where those activities might cause a reasonable person to worry that a judge is indebted to or influenced by someone.

“The code of conduct is quite clear that judges are not supposed to be soliciting money for their pet projects or charities, period,” said Arn Pearson, a lawyer with Common Cause. “If any other federal judge was doing it, he could face disciplinary action.”

Which brings us to the questions this new Museum raises or more importantly, the relationship between Thomas and Crow.  Clarence Thomas is no stranger to ethical investigations.

Justice Thomas’s gift acceptances drew attention in 2004, when The Los Angeles Times reported that he had accumulated gifts totaling $42,200 in the previous six years — far more than any of the other justices.

Since 2004, Justice Thomas has never reported another gift.

The article is really interesting to read.  I just picked out some good points, but go ahead and read the entire thing.

Since I am a history major, certain stories seem to attract my attention more than others. This next link is to a Wall Street Journal interview with David McCullough.  (Who I think has one of the best voices for narrating documentaries or reading audio books.)

The Weekend Interview With David McCullough: Don’t Know Much About History – WSJ.com

‘We’re raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate,” David McCullough tells me on a recent afternoon in a quiet meeting room at the Boston Public Library. Having lectured at more than 100 colleges and universities over the past 25 years, he says, “I know how much these young people—even at the most esteemed institutions of higher learning—don’t know.” Slowly, he shakes his head in dismay. “It’s shocking.”


He’s right. This week, the Department of Education released the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress, which found that only 12% of high-school seniors have a firm grasp of our nation’s history. And consider: Just 2% of those students understand the significance of Brown v. Board of Education.


Mr. McCullough began worrying about the history gap some 20 years ago, when a college sophomore approached him after an appearance at “a very good university in the Midwest.” She thanked him for coming and admitted, “Until I heard your talk this morning, I never realized the original 13 colonies were all on the East Coast.” Remembering the incident, Mr. McCullough’s snow-white eyebrows curl in pain. “I thought, ‘What have we been doing so wrong that this obviously bright young woman could get this far and not know that?'”


Answer: We’ve been teaching history poorly. And Mr. McCullough wants us to amend our ways.

No kidding, if I am not mistaken, History is one of the subjects that is receiving cuts in funding at many public schools and universities, like in Michigan and Colorado.  So what do you expect?

Also, the attention span and interest levels of the average American these days is pretty pathetic.  I guess if Snookie was giving a lecture on American History, more people would be interested in it.

New anti-abortion billboards have popped up recently, only the group being targeted this time is the Latinas.  Billboards Targeting Latinas Exposes Cynical Motives of Conservative Funders | RH Reality Check

In February, billboards in New York City warned that “The most dangerous place for African Americans is in the womb.” Now Latinos in Los Angeles learn that “El lugar más peligroso para un Latino es el vientre de su madre.” (“The most dangerous place for a Latino in in his mother’s womb.”) So what’s going on in the wombs of minority women in the United States? According to Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, which launched the Latina version last week in Los Angeles, Latina women are under attack from Planned Parenthood. Aguilar claims Planned Parenthood is systematically entering Latino neighborhoods to promote what amount to eugenic abortions.

What minority group is next on the list?

From Minx’s Missing Link File: Being a “full figured” gal myself, I found this article from last week refreshing.    Full Figured Fashion Week Hits New York City

full figured fashion week hits new york city

Today kicks off the start to New York City’s third annual Full Figured Fashion Week (FFFWeek). Over the next three days, buyers, models, sponsors, and bloggers will enjoy an array of events that celebrate plus-size fashion.

[…]

It’s no surprise that plus-size models and fashion are largely absent in runway shows, magazine advertisements, and clothing stores. FFFWeek is a great opportunity to begin bridging this gap and give full figured women access to beautiful and fashionable clothing like anyone else.

Wow, FFFWeek lasted three days…facinating huh?

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  My son and daughter are named Jake and Brett after the book The Sun Also Rises.  So this travel piece about Madrid caught my eye.  A Tour of Hemingway’s Madrid – NYTimes.com

El Sobrino de Botín, open since 1725 on a tiny street behind Plaza Mayor, claims to be the oldest restaurant in the world. Jake and Brett turned up here — like Hemingway himself often did — to dine on the house specialty, roasted suckling pig, and drink several bottles of Rioja Alta. Botín isn’t above playing up the association: the front window displays an image of the writer and a quote from “The Sun Also Rises” that mentions the restaurant. (Until recently, the owners of a nearby restaurant, presumably trying to differentiate themselves from Botín, hung a large sign above its door reading: “HEMINGWAY NEVER ATE HERE.”)

…I asked for a table upstairs, the place where Hemingway put Jake and Brett and where he preferred sitting as well. And like our fictional counterparts, we dined on juicy roast suckling pig, though we stopped at just one bottle of Rioja. Afterward, I introduced myself to Antonio and Carlos Gonzáles, the third generation of their family (along with José) to run Botín. The brothers hadn’t been born when Hemingway was a regular guest at their restaurant, but they’ve heard plenty of stories.

“Don Ernesto once wanted to make paella,” Carlos said. “And so our grandfather allowed him to go into the kitchen to make it.”

Was it any good?

“Apparently not,” he said, laughing. “It was the last time they let him cook anything.”

So, I will leave you with the last few sentences in one of Hemingway’s masterpieces.  Be sure to leave some comments below, and let us know what you have read today.  Happy Father’s Day…

Ernest Hemingway (with the mustache) with Lady Duff Twysden (wearing a hat), Hadley, and three men at a café in Pamplona, Spain, July 1925.

Quote from The Sun Also Rises:

“Oh, Jake,” Brett said, “we could have had such a damned good time together.”
Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.
“Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”