Yule and Solstice Greetings Sky Dancers!
Today we have the longest night, the Ursid Meteor Showers. and a Full Moon for Saturday. Yes, Saturday is the full moon. It wasn’t yesterday but don’t tell that to the lunatic in the Oval Office. Tomorrow is the new light. I think that’s an important symbol for those of us that are overwhelmed with the Chaos Demon dwelling in the White House.
So what’s going on with this full moon?
Our last full moon of the year will come less than a day after the solstice. Again, for those of you who love precision, it will occur on Saturday, December 22, at 17:49 Universal Time (that’s 12:49 p.m. ET), EarthSky says.
However, when you’re looking out into a clear sky on Friday night, the moon will appear full to you — and could be so bright that people with pretty good eyesight could read by it.
Over many centuries, this moon has been called several names: Cold Moon, Cold Full Moon, Long Night Moon (by some Native American tribes) or the Moon Before Yule (from the Anglo-Saxon lunar calendar).
If you’re wondering how special this Cold Moon is so close to the solstice, it will be 2029 before it happens again. So it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime event, but still, you don’t see this too often.
Now what about that meteor shower?
The annual Ursids meteor shower is expected to peak a day or two after the solstice. You might be able to see up to 10 “shooting stars” per hour depending on your location.
The website In the Sky has a great feature that helps you figure out where to watch and how many meteors you might see. For instance, people in South Florida might expect just three per hour while people in Juneau, Alaska, might expect seven per hour.
One caveat: That Cold Moon will be so bright that it could outshine some of the meteors as they streak in, making them harder to spot.
And then there’s the lunatic in the Oval Office who is ensuring the end of the year is utter chaos. From Sarah Grillo at Axios: “Pre-Christmas Trump: Rebuked, rampaging”.
The last member of an informal alliance of top Trump officials with enough swat or stature to stand up to President Trump — the Committee to Save America, as we called these officials 16 months ago — resigned in epic fashion.
The bottom line: Unlike most others, who pretended to leave on fine terms, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis bailed with a sharp, specific, stinging rebuke of Trump and his America-first worldview.
It’s really difficult to document all the shit hitting the fan today. The withdrawals from both Syria and Afghanistan are getting press play. The equity markets are nosediving again. Then, there’s the entire debacle about keeping the government open and paying people that do things like stand watch on battle fields, process social security checks, and take eager tourists through national parks and historic sites.
Aren’t we all getting tired of budget brinkmanship? Last night, the House sent forward the budget with KKKremlin Caligula’s $5 million wall craziness. Many voted for it just to spite Pelosi. Paul Ryan cannot get out of town quick enough for me. He’s a blob with no spine, no guts, and no brains. The Senate has the blob ball today.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows picked up the phone early Thursday morning and dialed up a frustrated Donald Trump for yet another pep talk.
The president was agitated over suggestions in the conservative media that he was caving on his border wall campaign promise. He had just taken to Twitter to downplay the importance of securing new wall funding before Christmas and suggested he’d fight for the wall next Congress — GOP leadership’s preferred strategy to avoid a shutdown.
But Meadows, who is close with the president and was recently in the running to be his next chief of staff, urged Trump to make a stand now before Democrats took the House in January — just as he had the night before and multiple times earlier in the week. Stick to your guns, the North Carolina Republican told the president, according to a source familiar with the conversation. We conservatives will have your back. And now is the last best chance to fight.
Never mind that half the Senate had left town for the holidays having voice-voted passage of a temporary funding bill without wall money, all while Democrats sang Christmas carols on the floor. And never mind that House GOP leaders were already twisting arms in their caucus to support a proposal they thought the White House wanted.
Not four hours later, the president hauled Speaker Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other GOP leaders to the West Wing and instructed them to change course. And they did.
“I’m OK with a shutdown,” Trump told the group, according to two sources in the room.
The hard-liners had defeated leadership once again, and Washington was barreling into another crisis of its own making with no endgame in sight.
All of this has the markets dropping like it’s 1929 and the US government is disrupted. This is likely Bannon’s wetdream come true. From the big guns and WAPO:
President Trump began Thursday under siege, listening to howls of indignation from conservatives over his border wall and thrusting the government toward a shutdown. He ended it by announcing the exit of the man U.S. allies see as the last guardrail against the president’s erratic behavior: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, whose resignation letter was a scathing rebuke of Trump’s worldview.
At perhaps the most fragile moment of his presidency — and vulnerable to convulsions on the political right — Trump single-handedly propelled the U.S. government into crisis and sent markets tumbling with his gambits this week to salvage signature campaign promises.
The president’s decisions and conduct have led to a fracturing of Trump’s coalition. Hawks condemned his sudden decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Conservatives called him a “gutless president” and questioned whether he would ever build a wall. Political friends began privately questioning whether Trump needed to be reined in.
fter campaigning on shrinking America’s footprint in overseas wars, Trump abruptly declared Wednesday that he was withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, a move Mattis and other advisers counseled against. And officials said Thursday that Trump is preparing to send thousands of troops home from Afghanistan, as well.
The president also issued an ultimatum to Congress to fund construction of his promised U.S.-Mexico border wall, a move poised to result in a government shutdown just before Christmas. Trump and his aides had signaled tacit support for a short-term spending compromise that would avert the shutdown, but the president abruptly changed course after absorbing a deluge of criticism from some of his most high-profile loyalists.
Leon Panetta, who served as defense secretary, CIA director and White House chief of staff for Democratic presidents, said, “We’re in a constant state of chaos right now in this country.” He added, “While it may satisfy [Trump’s] need for attention, it’s raising hell with the country.”
Putin must love these Trumpertantrums. He already got a big gift with the Syria surrender. All the ” adults in the room” have left the building. The guardrails are gone. What’s left? None of the folks left are likely to do the 25th Amendment. This is getting stomach wrenching and this AP article describes the vestiges of those media memes.
Mattis will be the last to go, and his abrupt resignation Thursday marks the end of the “contain and control” phase of Trump’s administration — one where generals, business leaders and establishment Republicans struggled to guide the president and curb his most disruptive impulses. They were branded in Washington as the “troika of sanity,” the “axis of adults” and the “committee to save America.”
But as Trump careens toward his third year in office, their efforts are in tatters and most are out of a job.
The early consequences of the new era were already apparent at year’s end, with Trump on the verge of a government shutdown over the advice of GOP leaders and ordering the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria over Mattis’ objections. A similar pull-back in Afghanistan appeared to be in the works. The financial markets, spooked by uncertainty from a nearly yearlong trade war, tanked.
“We are headed toward a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances & empower our adversaries,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted after Mattis’ resignation.
The shrinking circle around Trump is now increasingly dominated by a small cadre of longtime Trump loyalists and family members, ex-Fox News talent and former GOP lawmakers who were backbenchers on Capitol Hill before being elevated by the president. Attracting top flight talent will only get more difficult as more investigations envelop the White House once Democrats take over the House in January.
To some of Trump’s most ardent supporters, the exodus leaves the president with a team that is more in line with his hardline campaign promises. They viewed some of his early advisers as obstacles to enacting the unabashed nationalist agenda they believe Trump had been elected to implement.
These are really trying days but the new light is coming. Maybe that will be in an Omen. I mean this has always been the ancient symbolism of winter. It’s long, dark, and cold wait but with some good food, friends, and fun then we can wait it out. That’s always my question these days thought. How long can we wait this out because things are getting super crazy out there.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today? Have a warm and snug longest night!!!
But calling Trump’s potential strike against Syria a legitimate humanitarian intervention is absurd. The most comprehensive effort to define that notion came from the Canadian government, which in 2001—in response to pleas from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan—empaneled a commission on the concept known as the “Responsibility to Protect.” That commissionoutlined several criteria that any humanitarian war must meet. No past U.S. intervention has met them fully. A new Syria strike, however, wouldn’t even come close.
One criterion was what the commission called “reasonable prospects.” A military intervention, it argued, must stand “a reasonable chance of success in halting or averting the suffering which has justified the intervention.” When Trump struck Syria for the first time last year, it may have been “reasonable” to hope an American strike would prevent Assad from using chemical weapons again. But it is utterly unreasonable today. That’s because, in the year since Trump’s strike, Assad has used chemical weapons again and again. He didn’t just apparently use them last weekend. According to armscontrol.org, he also allegedly used them on March 11, on March 7 and at least five times in January and February.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that President Trump has broad authority to attack Syria, precluding the need for Congress to act beforehand.“The existing AUMF gives him the authority he needs to do what he may or may not do,” Ryan said during a press briefing in the Capitol.
We’re striking with the UK and France. The force is on the war.
Today’s images come from the blog, We Had Faces Then. This is a fantastic photo blog, where the tagline proclaims:
A gay man of a certain age and a certain sensibility searching for meaning in the flickering images of classic Hollywood.
I have decided to feature photos of Merle Oberon, I hope you enjoy them.
Paul Lukas and Merle Oberon in Berlin Express (Jacques Tourneur, 1948)
So, late last night…I am saving images for this morning’s post, and the two above are the last things I see before I go to sleep. I don’t know if that had something to do with influencing my dreams? It could also be the fact that we have a disaster leading the country, and no one serving as National Security Adviser…technically…the Bolton Beast starts his reign on Monday.
Many of you might have already seen that clip on Friday’s Maddow, if you haven’t take a look.
But, my dream from last night was this…
The end of the world, I am sitting with my family in Florida, my aunt Celeste and the rest of the circus. We are all drinking and laughing outside while we await the apocalyptic explosion that is to commence shortly, when… “Mother Earth collides with Mars.”
The joke being, “HaHa…Wait, there was no collusion!”
“Hey, the end of the world is not brought on by tRump?”
Yeah, our last words to each other were not I love you, but we were astounded by the reason the Earth was being annihilated…and that tRump was not the actual direct cause of the destruction of the planet.
Now that is some fucked up dream. Is it because in the back of my mind…Mueller is taking so damn long…the earth would be colliding with some other celestial body before tRump gets charged or impeached?
tRump has been on the Twit box a lot this morning and last night. I was only going to share today’s tweets but might as well give you a few from last night, so you can have a perspective on the links throughout the rest of the thread.
I want to throw up every time I see or hear any direct communications or commands from this asshole.
Here are a few responses to the Hair Loser’s tweets. (Dak, I love that nickname.)
I wonder how long before Hair Loser walks back the Syria tweet?
Onward, with a few other responses to the fire at tRump Tower from last night:
Then there was this tweet:
Not sure on the veracity of that statement…Just putting that out there.
*Edited to add this link:
Thethat left 67-year-old Todd Brassner dead and six firefighters injured was the second fire in the building in 2018. President Trump’s centerpiece Manhattan skyscraper opened in 1984, but does not have sprinklers on its residential floors, a measure required in new buildings since 1999. President Trump, then a private citizen and property developer, lobbied to try and prevent the mandate at the time.
New York City in 1999 became last big city in the nation to require sprinklers, according to the New York Daily News. Under the 1999 legislation, buildings constructed before then were only required to have sprinklers if they underwent gut renovations.
According to The New York Times, Mr. Trump was one of the developers in the late 1990s who lobbied against sprinklers in buildings. He then recanted once the legislation passed with grandfathering provisions that meant existing buildings did not need to install them, saying that he understood they made residents “feel safer.” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said on Saturday that there is extra fire protection at Trump Tower when Mr. Trump is there.
Then-New York city mayor and now staunch Trump ally Rudy Giuliani signed the bill requiring sprinklers into force on March 24, 1999, having opposed it when it was first proposed in 1997. The legislation was spurred on by a major fire in a so-called “fireproof” apartment block with no sprinklers on New York’s Upper West Side the previous December, and another in a Brooklyn housing project the same month in which hallway sprinklers failed. Survivors wanted all buildings to have sprinklers, but the legislation that was passed was not retroactive, much to the delight of existing property owners who cited cost as a major reason not to be compelled to retrofit their buildings. At the time the legislation was being discussed, Mr. Trump had just started construction on a 72-story tower near the United Nations, and he subsequently said he would install sprinklers there at a cost of $3 million.
Saturday’s fire is the second fire in Mr. Trump’s Fifth Avenue building this year: Two civilians suffered minor injuries and a firefighter was hurt by debris in a fire on Jan. 8 on the top of the building. That blaze was sparked by an electrical issue, Mr. Trump’s son, Eric, said at the time. Eric Trump said the fire had been in a cooling tower.
Well, there is that.
In other news this weekend:
And hey, let’s not forget this little nugget:
That is huge…and I don’t think enough people are talking about it.
Meanwhile, in Gaza:
Here, add Tony Robbins to the list of assholes. (Granted, I personally had him on the list to start with, but this truly confirms my suspicions.)
Robbins actually pushes back on this woman, forcing her to step backwards. It is a physical intimidation…and it is disgusting.
So much of this post is disturbing, as the reality of our world today. This last tweet can put everything into focus. This was a mock headline that The Boston Globe published in April 2016:
Donald J. Trump’s vision for the future of our nation is as deeply disturbing as it is profoundly un-American.
It is easy to find historical antecedents. The rise of demagogic strongmen is an all too common phenomenon on our small planet. And what marks each of those dark episodes is a failure to fathom where a leader’s vision leads, to carry rhetoric to its logical conclusion. The satirical front page of this section attempts to do just that, to envision what America looks like with Trump in the White House.
I’d say they were spot on…
This is an open thread. Have at it.
Boston Boomer is under the weather today, so I’m bringing you the round up for the day.
First up I have to start this thread with a little tongue in cheek;
Okay, now let’s get serious.
Why do I get the feeling the passengers that were “randomly” chosen for United to “reaccommodate” perhaps had a little more than a random pick behind it?
People are rallying around the passenger who was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight on Sunday, in response to what many see as attempts to vilify a victim.
On Tuesday, the Louisville Courier-Journal published an article reporting that the passenger, David Dao, “has a troubled history in Kentucky.” The article cites past drug-related felonies in the early 2000s, noting that the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure allowed Dao to resume practicing medicine in 2015.
Soon after the article published, many people took to social media to criticize the Courier-Journal for seemingly attempting to justify an incident in which Dao was dragged from United Express Flight 3411 by law enforcement officers. Dao suffered injuries to his face, and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
None of this man’s past has anything to do with the atrocious treatment he received…but I would not put it past the company to have orchestrated the chosen 4 for just this possible situation. I bet that is part of the protocol. Pick people that can be exploited negatively in the press if you need to…
More tweets of anger at CJ and support of David Dao at that link.
Onward to the shooting and murder of two people at a California primary school.
I mentioned in a comment last week that my dad is part of this survival group, and that there was a rumor going on about the strike force heading to the Korean Peninsula…well, last night he told me the new rumor is that China is dealing with a huge number of refugees from North Korea flooding into the country because of the fear that tRump is going to blow Kim Jong Un off the planet.
I don’t know, the shit is hitting the fan.
I had to do it…
But here are some news links about all that shit.
As for the Syria and Putin and Assad shit. (The word shit has become my go to expression for everything lately, you can take a look at some of these updates.
It is all so disturbing.
Thursday evening, Trump attacked Syria, a sovereign country, with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. This act of war was done without Congressional authorization, even after Trump’s August, 2013, tweet that “Obama needs Congressional approval” before attacking Syria in nearly-identical circumstances.
The following morning, headlines like this one appeared in the business press: Raytheon, maker of Tomahawk missiles, leads premarket rally in defense stocks:
Defense and energy stocks dominated the list of premarket gainers on the S&P 500 Friday, led by Tomahawk missile-maker Raytheon Corp., after U.S. missile strikes against a Syrian air base overnight.
Donald Trump apparently owns Raytheon stock. In May, 2016, Trump reported to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) that he owned Raytheon stock. Interestingly, this FEC report does not appear to include the extensive web of offshore anonymous shell corporations Trump uses to mask assets.
Since that filing Trump’s assets have not been sold with the proceeds placed into a “blind trust,” and there is no public record of his having otherwise sold the stock. Not only that, but Trump is able to draw cash from his “trust” at any time. He could literally have pocketed cash from his gains from attacking Syria.
Read the rest at the link.
But tRump is not only profiting on the attack in Syria. He is making money on his time off, away from, the White House:
Again, I can’t believe that nothing has been done to move forward with impeachment.
The Sessions’ Justice Department had tried to stop the ruling.
Margaret Atwood—author of The Handmaid’s Tale and dozens of other novels, short-story collections, children’s books, works of poetry and criticism, and the new comic-book series Angel Catbird—is the subject of a lengthy and insightful profile in The New Yorker. She speaks briefly on Donald Trump’s presidency, telling New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead, “If the election of Donald Trump were fiction… it would be too implausible to satisfy readers.” It’s an insightful viewpoint from the writer of speculative fiction (her preferred term over “science fiction”), who’s penned arguably the most influential speculation through the lens of patriarchy. Atwood goes on to say:
Fiction has to be something that people would actually believe. If you had published it last June, everybody would have said, “That is never going to happen.”
This study looks like an interesting read….
Why did the Arab spring fail? Despite a number of revolutions in the Arab world, in the end only Tunisia emerged as a functioning democracy. Results from an interdisciplinary research project at the University of Gothenburg indicate that the problem might be traced partially to the lack of women’s civil rights in the region.
A new study published in the European Journal of Political Research discusses the importance of women’s rights for countries to become democratic. The researchers used a dataset developed by V-Dem, a research institution cohosted by the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) and the University of Notre Dame (USA). The dataset includes the state of democracy in 177 countries over the years 1900 to 2012.
The study demonstrates that countries do not become fully democratic without political and social rights for women. This is particularly true for the Arab Spring countries, where the failure to foster women’s rights compromised any attempt at democratic governance in the area.
According to Professor Staffan Lindberg, director of the V-Dem Institute, the result is important because it shows that democratic development is not gender blind: societies transitioning from authoritarian regimes strongly need women in order to develop functioning democratic governments.
This next link is for Dak, another grave for you.
The desert bloom from space….is something to see.
And I will end it on that note.
This is an open thread. I hope BB starts to feel better, and that y’all have a good afternoon.
Who know a few album covers could look so dramatic?
The images you will see today are from one of my favorite photo blogs: vintage everyday: Mix and Match – Strange and Amazing Collage Arts from Famous Album Covers of the 1980s and 1990s
Christian Marclay is a Swiss, New York-based modern artist and composer. He came up with an idea to create funny collages from famous album covers.
So enjoy these collages as we look into some non-election news.
A couple of days ago, LG&M had a post that caught my attention…see if you get the same vibe as I did: Clearly, Paying Teachers Peanuts is the Way to Produce Good Teaching – Lawyers, Guns & Money
I can think of no better way to provide quality education for our students than paying teachers so poorly that they are forced to get 2nd and 3rd jobs to make ends meet, thus giving them no time to prep for class or rest.
Second and even third jobs are the norm for many school teachers in South Dakota, where teacher pay ranks lowest in the nation, according to a state education task force. Gov. Dennis Daugaard has proposed a half-cent sales tax increase to help raise teacher pay, but his plan needs two-thirds approval in both the House and the Senate — a tough proposition in a legislature with an anti-tax lean.
Mary McCorkle, president of the South Dakota Education Association, said teachers often give up their evenings by grading papers and preparing lessons, and second jobs lead to burnout.
“Something has to give, whether it’s your health, your sanity,” McCorkle said. “You just can’t do everything, and you want to be there for your students.”
The SDEA, which represents more than 5,000 teachers in the state, said Daugaard’s proposal is an acknowledgement that South Dakota schools are having trouble hiring and keeping teachers.
The Brookings School District used to get dozens of applications for each open teaching position but now receives resumes from just a handful of qualified candidates, said school board President Steve Bayer. The pool depth is likely dwindling as applicants look across South Dakota’s eastern border to better-paying jobs.
“When you can make another thousand dollars a month as an experienced teacher, it’s probably worth looking at a place in Minnesota,” he said.
South Dakota’s average teacher salary of $40,023 in 2013-14 lagged an average of six states that border it by $11,888 a year and was $8,643 behind the next lowest neighbor, North Dakota, the group found. In some of South Dakota’s more remote areas, that average salary drops quickly.
Now, this next link will take you to the average starting teacher salary per state: NEA – 2012-2013 Average Starting Teacher Salaries by State
And here is a site that give you both starting and general average salaries, which is a bit convoluted to discern. Teacher Salaries By State | Average Salaries For Teachers | Beginning Salaries For Teachers | Teacher Raises | TeacherPortal.com
Finding accurate beginning and average salaries for teachers by state is a tricky business. In our effort to build the most accurate list of teacher salaries by state, we have averaged the salary from multiple sources, including the National Education Association, job surveys, and private data analyses to create the Salary Comfort Index.
So if you are curious…take a peek at those numbers.
While on the subject of schools…in South Dakota:
I will leave that story up to you. Take a gander at the new bill and the logic behind this mess.
The bill was approved by the state Senate on Tuesday and now awaits the signature of Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), who has said it seems like a good idea. The measure would mandate that students use facilities corresponding with their “physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person’s chromosomes and anatomy as identified at birth,” not the gender with which they identify.
Next up: The Pope….
He was in Mexico this week.
Religious leaders and migrants rights advocates in the United States say Pope Francis’ acknowledgment during his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border of the struggles of immigrants will send a humanitarian message.
Just before his Mass Wednesday afternoon in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Francis is to walk to the border fence along the Rio Grande, which separates the two countries. There, he’ll offer a prayer for migrants on the other side and for those who died trying to get to the U.S. A group of about 500 people, including migrants and refugees, will be on the U.S. side.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville said at a news conference in El Paso Wednesday that “because something has political dimensions it doesn’t mean that it does not also have moral dimensions.
That is sweet…because with the statement the Catholic Church put out on the Zika virus…we don’t want to get into a discussion on Moral Dimensions…or Dilemmas!
As the Zika virus spreads in Latin America, Catholic leaders are warning women against using contraceptives or having abortions, even as health officials in some countries are advising women not to get pregnant because of the risk ofbirth defects.
After a period of saying little, bishops in Latin America are beginning to speak up and reassert the church’s opposition to birth control and abortion — positions that in Latin America are unpopular and often disregarded, even among Catholics.
“Contraceptives are not a solution,” said Bishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, the secretary general of the National Council of Bishops of Brazil, and an auxiliary bishop of Brasília, in an interview. “There is not a single change in the church’s position.”
He urged couples to practice chastity or use “natural family planning,” a method in which women monitor their menstrual cycles and abstain from sex when they are fertile.
Of course these babies are gifts from Gawd.
This is not a stance likely to win many new followers. South America happens to be the continent with the highest proportion of Catholics who already disagree with the church on abortion and birth control, according to a large international poll commissioned by Univision in 2014. Seventy-three percent of Catholics in Latin America said that abortion should be allowed in some or all cases, and 91 percent supported the use of contraceptives — a higher percentage even than in Europe or the United States.
“The Vatican is very well aware of the seriousness of this issue, and the Holy Father is very aware of it,” Father Rosica said. “We’re waiting to see how the local churches in those countries respond.”
But Father Rosica said church teaching on abortion and contraception remains the same. The Zika epidemic, he said, presents “an opportunity for the church to recommit itself to the dignity and sacredness of life, even in very precarious moments like this.”
The five countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that have advised women to delaypregnancy are Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Colombia and Jamaica. But access to contraception is limited throughout the region, especially for poor and rural women. Abortion is restricted in many countries, and it is illegal without exceptions in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Nicaragua, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
There is no vaccine for the Zika virus, and no cure for microcephaly. The World Health Organization this monthdeclared the Zika epidemic an international public health emergency. The organization advised that women should have full access to a range of contraceptive options, as well as “safe abortion services to the full extent of the law.”
Many church officials are wary that the Zika epidemic will lead to the loosening of laws on abortion and contraception. Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, who serves on Pope Francis’ nine-member advisory council, denounced the notion of “therapeutic abortions” for women carrying babies with microcephaly. He spoke at a Mass attended by the Honduran president and first lady.
Another link on the Zika epidemic….WHO: $56 Million Needed To Combat Zika Virus Through June
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that $56 million were needed to combat the Zikavirus until June, including for the fast-tracking of vaccines, diagnostics and research studies into how it spreads.
The funds, including $25 million for the WHO and its regional office, would also be used to control the mosquito-borne virus that has spread to 39 countries, including 34 in the Americas, and has been linked to birth defects in Brazil.
“Possible links with neurological complications and birth malformations have rapidly changed the risk profile for Zika from a mild threat to one of very serious proportions,” WHO director-general Margaret Chan said in the WHO Strategic Response Framework and Joint Operations Plan issued in Geneva.
The WHO expects the funds to come from member states and other donors and said that in the meantime it has tapped a new emergency contingency fund for $2 million to finance its initial operations.
Chan will travel to Brazil from Feb 22-24 to review Zika-related measures supported by WHO and will meet the health minister, a WHO spokeswoman said.
The United Nations health agency declared the Zika outbreak a global public health emergency on Feb 1, noting its association with two neurological disorders, microcephaly in babies and Guillain-Barre syndrome that can cause paralysis.
Brazil is investigating the potential link between Zika infections and more than 4,300 suspected cases of microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormally small head size that can result in developmental problems.
More at the link.
Just a question…and it is a offensive one at that…since my life is defined by classic film and movies, the flick “Freaks!” (Yeah, I’m going there.) Didn’t the pinheads suffer from microcephaly? Innit that the same thing as this Zika virus? NWLuna? School me right!
Shit, I said I wasn’t going to mention the idiots of the election: Trump Surrogate Blows Up Panel Discussion By Referring To ‘Big Boobs’ | Crooks and Liars
There is a reason for this…I promise.
Nothing says 2016 political discourse like a Trump surrogate and supporter calling out another panelist’s “big boobs” on Fox Business. I’m pretty sure all those stock market geeks tuning into Fox Biz were delighted by it.
Manigault: Yes, so let’s talk about Iraq and let’s talk about Donald Trump’s position. When Ta-mah-ra says that Donald Trump’s–
Holder: Tah-mara. It’s Tah-mara.
Manigault: It’s the same difference. You want to come on with big boobs, then you deal with the pronunciation of your name. Look. Donald Trump stands firm on what his position is about us going into Iraq —
Baritromo: Wait a second! Why are you bringing up Tamara’s boobs? I don’t understand why you brought up Tamara’s boobs.
The C&L post makes a point about why the mention of boobs is made:
Poor Maria just cannot understand. It’s because it gets attention, Maria! Mention boobs and every man watching looks up from his otherwise boring work to see what the catfight is all about.
Of course, it’s also crass and sexist but that’s what Trump’s campaign embodies. And who better than Omarosa to speak for Trump about some other woman’s breasts?
I think it is just a carry over of the Sexist and Misogynistic culture (as related to rape culture) that is allowed to flourish as Sexual Harassment in our high school’s and college’s locker rooms…as discussed in this article from Deadspin: How Tennessee’s Sexual Harassment Allegations Caught Up With Peyton Manning 20 Years Later
This is a very long read, I know that BB has written post on Manning before, but please take some time and look it over.
In 1996, the summer before Peyton Manning’s junior season at the University of Tennessee, with his Vols a national championship contender, associate trainer Jamie Whited—later Jamie Naughright, after her divorce—filed an employment discrimination complaint. In that complaint, filed with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, she listed 27 specific examples of sexual harassment and discrimination she claimed to have experienced while working for Tennessee’s athletics department.
Athletes, she said, called her breasts “midgets.” One athlete called the women at the sexual assault crisis center center “white ‘male hating’ females.” And her concerns about violence by athletes toward women were “played down by my supervisors, and an effort was made to shield the student athletes.”
It was accusation No. 27 that lives on, though. An unnamed athlete, later identified as Peyton Manning, “pulled his pants down and exposed himself to me, as I was bent over examining his foot after asking me several questions.”
“Despite the above referenced complaints,” her filing said, “no effective remedial action has been taken by coaches, or other supervisor personnel. Instead complaints of sexual harassment are treated as jokes and efforts are made to protect the student athletes, and cover-up the complaint.”
Naughright settled with Tennessee. The investigative report on her allegations, compiled by Tennessee’s Office of Diversity Resources and Educational Resources (DRES) repeatedly finds that she was “not subjected to unwelcome sexual conduct,” and that “many of the individual allegations involved conduct that was not sexual in nature.” Her accusation against Manning seemed destined to become another incident written off as a young man’s foolishness.
Her claims and the investigative findings read differently, though, in the context of a wide-reaching Title IX lawsuit recently filed against the University of Tennessee, which describes Tennessee as having cultivated a “deliberate indifference to known sexual assaults so as to create a hostile sexual environment.” So, too, does her long legal history with Manning, recently brought back to public attention by the Daily Beast’s Robert Silverman and bythe New York Daily News’s Shaun King publishing a 74-page “facts of the case”from Naughright’s 2002 defamation suit against Manning. That document outlines, from the perspective of her lawyers, a claim that the Manning family and Tennessee essentially covered up a case of sexual assault to protect the star quarterback.
It will get you going…be prepared for the usual excuses and typical outcomes.
Let us see if the new combat roles for women change the way the military works…Exclusive: Report shows Marines’ shifting approach to women in combat – CSMonitor.com
The Marines have long been resistant to including women in combat units. But a Pentagon document obtained by the Monitor offers a more optimistic view.
Check it out…details emerge on the new airline plans for Cuba:
I always loved the way this man’s name sounded when I was a kid…now comes news of his death: United Nations News Centre – UN mourns death of former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Another death, this time an actor. You may remember him in Tootsie and Mel Brooks To Be or Not To Be: George Gaynes Dead: ‘Police Academy’ Star Dies at 98 – Hollywood Reporter
The rest in link dump format, because it is really getting late:
Global food production needs ‘significant’ fertiliser boost – BBC News– This talks about the phosphate shortage. In Florida, you could spot a phosphate mine miles away. (Well, I don’t know about technically miles…but damn if you could not see them from across the bay.) Our science class would have field trips inside those mountain valley holes to look for fossils. Anyway, give that link a moment of your time.
Let’s end it with two videos….
This is an open thread..post what you want…
And I did cry…
I found out about David Bowie’s death around 4;00 am Monday Morning, it was so sad. Bowie was born in 1947…the same year as my dad, maybe that was why it touched a nerve? I don’t know. But as the days have past since the news of his death, I’ve been able to look back on his music and massive product of work. I see now just exactly amount of thread this artist has woven through my memories. For all my life.
Simon Pegg sent out this tribute tweet:
I was born in April 1970. Space Oddity was 1st released in July of 1969. For me that tweet is especially true.
The post today will feature artwork by David Bowie and include a few links to photo galleries…as well as a few other articles about Bowie the man, flaws included.
Just a couple of thoughts before we start.
My mom took me to see Cat People and The Hunger back when I was a kid…
I can still feel that powerful voice of Bowie’s pounding in the theater as the credits rolled when he sang Putting Out The Fire.
And I always thought, for some strange reason…that he would live forever somewhere…never imagining that he would die a few days after turning 69.
Now for the links.
And if you didn’t catch the speech…check this out:
“What if the State of the Union was like a Wes Anderson movie?”, asked no one ever. Well, CNN is here to answer your question, nobody!
And, well, it’s not so much a movie as it is a primer on the history of the State of the Union address and all the things that go into making it happen.
(P.S. If CNN is taking requests, next year do it Tarantino-style. God knows these speeches could use some tense moments and balls-to-the-wall profanity.)
Now, moving on.
Interesting video here: Arctic seed vault ‘key to future global crops’ – BBC News
And then you have this newsy bit here: Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall Are Engaged | Vanity Fair
Ugh, more gag.
Meanwhile on the Ted Cruz “birther” irony front:
There’s more than meets the eye in the ongoing dustup over whether Ted Cruz is eligible to serve as president, which under the Constitution comes down to whether he’s a “natural born citizen” despite his 1970 Canadian birth. Senator Cruz contends his eligibility is “settled” by naturalization laws Congress enacted long ago. But those laws didn’t address, much less resolve, the matter of presidential eligibility, and no Supreme Court decision in the past two centuries has ever done so. In truth, the constitutional definition of a “natural born citizen” is completely unsettled, as the most careful scholarship on the question has concluded. Needless to say, Cruz would never take Donald Trump’s advice to ask a court whether the Cruz definition is correct, because that would in effect confess doubt where Cruz claims there is certainty.
People are entitled to their own opinions about what the definition ought to be. But the kind of judge Cruz says he admires and would appoint to the Supreme Court is an “originalist,” one who claims to be bound by the narrowly historical meaning of the Constitution’s terms at the time of their adoption. To his kind of judge, Cruz ironically wouldn’t be eligible, because the legal principles that prevailed in the 1780s and ’90s required that someone actually be born on US soil to be a “natural born” citizen. Even having two US parents wouldn’t suffice. And having just an American mother, as Cruz did, would have been insufficient at a time that made patrilineal descent decisive.
This narrow definition reflected 18th-century fears of a tyrannical takeover of our nation by someone loyal to a foreign power — fears that no longer make sense. But the same could be said of fears that a tyrannical federal army might overrun our state militias. Yet that doesn’t lead Cruz — or, more importantly, the conservative jurists he admires — to discard the Second Amendment’s “right to bear arms” as a historical relic, or to limit that right to arms-bearing by members of today’s “state militias,” the national guard.
On the other hand, the kind of judge I admire and Cruz abhors is a “living constitutionalist,” one who believes that the Constitution’s meaning evolves with the perceived needs of the time and longstanding practice. To that kind of judge, Cruz would be eligible to serve because it no longer makes sense to be bound by the narrow historical definition that would disqualify him.
When Cruz was my constitutional law student at Harvard, he aced the course after making a big point of opposing my views in class — arguing stridently for sticking with the “original meaning” against the idea of a more elastic “living Constitution” whenever such ideas came up. I enjoyed jousting with him, but Ted never convinced me — nor did I convince him.
At least he was consistent in those days. Now, he seems to be a fair weather originalist, abandoning that method’s narrow constraints when it suits his ambition.
Donald Trump is actually right about something: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is not a natural-born citizen and therefore is not eligible to be president or vice president of the United States.
The Constitution provides that “No person except a natural born Citizen . . . shall be eligible to the Office of President.” The concept of “natural born” comes from common law, and it is that law the Supreme Court has said we must turn to for the concept’s definition. On this subject, common law is clear and unambiguous. The 18th-century English jurist William Blackstone, the preeminent authority on it, declared natural-born citizens are “such as are born within the dominions of the crown of England,” while aliens are “such as are born out of it.” The key to this division is the assumption of allegiance to one’s country of birth. The Americans who drafted the Constitution adopted this principle for the United States. James Madison, known as the “father of the Constitution,” stated, “It is an established maxim that birth is a criterion of allegiance. . . . [And] place is the most certain criterion; it is what applies in the United States.”
Cruz is, of course, a U.S. citizen. As he was born in Canada, he is not natural-born. His mother, however, is an American, and Congress has provided by statute for the naturalization of children born abroad to citizens. Because of the senator’s parentage, he did not have to follow the lengthy naturalization process that aliens without American parents must undergo. Instead, Cruz was naturalized at birth. This provision has not always been available. For example, there were several decades in the 19th century when children of Americans born abroad were not given automatic naturalization.
Article I of the Constitution grants Congress the power to naturalize an alien — that is, Congress may remove an alien’s legal disabilities, such as not being allowed to vote. But Article II of the Constitution expressly adopts the legal status of the natural-born citizen and requires that a president possess that status. However we feel about allowing naturalized immigrants to reach for the stars, the Constitution must be amended before one of them can attain the office of president. Congress simply does not have the power to convert someone born outside the United States into a natural-born citizen.
Let me be clear: I am not a so-called birther. I am a legal historian. President Obama is without question eligible for the office he serves. The distinction between the president and Cruz is simple: The president was born within the United States, and the senator was born outside of it. That is a distinction with a difference.
Thanks to Boston Boomer for the H/T on both of those links.
Back to some bad journalism… now that it has been a few days since that riveting piece of “journalism” from Sean Penn in the latest Rolling Stone? (Flash Frame: That was a piece of shit.)
If you’re an editor about to send a famous and sympathetic writer to interview one of the world’s most notorious villains, here’s how you might prep him:
First, drill him on his assumptions and make sure there is an intellectual argument elsewhere to back him up.
Then, you’d likely remind him that his loyalty should be with his readers, not his subject. And you’d reinforce that by helping him anticipate the natural questions those readers might bring to such a controversial interview.
You’d want to see his interview questions ahead of time to ensure they are asked in neutral language that will hold your notorious source accountable.
Of course you’d advise him that it’s unacceptable to cut a deal that provides the source with prior review.
And finally, you’d remind him that the story must be well-reported and intellectually honest, so that it could stand on its own without a byline. That’s how you know it’s worth the paper it’s printed on.
It’s common for a writer’s ambitions to outpace his talents. (Sean Penn, you are no Hunter S. Thompson). That’s what editors are for. The best editors lift writers above the level they might reach on their own. They bring discipline to wandering pieces. They force writers to nail down assumptions and abandon unnecessary prose.
The editor’s role on the front end is the easy work. All he had to do was prepare Penn to set aside his own ego and go into the interview with his loyalties firmly on the side of Rolling Stone’s audience. But that front end work often makes the heavy lifting on the back side a bit lighter. During the actual writing, an editor should have been working with Penn to identify a structure, build a coherent argument and then challenge readers to see a complicated character operating in a complicated system.
How do you do that? You have to bring in other voices. Here’s what’s missing from Penn’s El Chapo piece…
Take a look at that link to see what is missing. I would guess that Penn did not do this work with Rolling Stone backing his moves. I suggest it is a Penn deal alone…and possibly a movie in the works all along. The “article” was probably shopped to the highest bidder and under no circumstance could it be “edited” because it is Penn’s pitch in glorified shit filled black and white print. *Note: I may be wrong here, in which case I really don’t give a damn…but that is my own opinion on the matter.
But what does give me a problem about this commentary on what Penn’s article is missing…is that there is a big stink about the single Penn’s crappy piece, but what about the fucking trash put out by journalist on a daily basis? Ana Kasparian is asking that question in this article:
No one expected Sean Penn to interview the world’s most wanted drug kingpin after he escaped prison for the second time. But three months before El Chapo was recaptured by Mexican Marines, he was hanging out with the actor in a jungle for a lengthy Rolling Stone interview. In an interesting turn of events, Penn’s discussion with El Chapo has been criticized as “unethical” by politicians and journalists who couldn’t score or stomach the interview.
At the heart of the issue is how Penn allowed the violent head of the Sinaloa drug cartel to sign off on the final Rolling Stone piece, which certainly does breach journalistic ethics. One rule of journalism is to ensure that the subject being reported on doesn’t have any sway or influence on the final product, and letting El Chapo decide what can and can’t be published defeats the true purpose of doing the interview in the first place.
“Allowing any source control over a story’s content is inexcusable,” Andrew Seaman, chair of the Society of Professional Journalist’s ethics committee wrote in a blog post. “The practice of pre-approval discredits the entire story. The writer, who in this case is an actor and activist, may write the story in a more favorable light and omit unflattering facts in an attempt to not be rejected.”
Seaman does make a good point. But with the daily ethics violations committed by people who were actually trained to be journalists, it does seem strange that all of a sudden members of the media want to hash out what’s acceptable in reporting the news or conducting interviews.
You’re goddamn right!
It is a shame that her article is only a couple of more paragraphs long, using an example regarding a situation with PBS and funding to illustrate her point (go and read the rest at the link) but it should open the can of worms, don’t ya think?
Mona had a question up on her Facebook feed…about this topic…I think this article is a good way to open it up for discussion:
More Bowie, this time pictures:
On with a few more news links.
In human rights news:
Let’s not end on that note.
In Wordplay: Matthias Buchinger’s Drawings from the Collection of Ricky Jay, opening today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there’s a 1724 engraved self-portrait that the “Little Man of Nuremberg” would have used to promote his act. As the portrait shows, the German-born artist, who stood 29 inches tall, was born without hands or feet.
Using an implement he wielded with his stumps, Buchinger excelled in calligraphy, ornamentation, and micrography, the practice of making patterns with tiny letters. In this self-portrait, in the curls of his wig, he has written seven full psalms and the Lord’s Prayer.
Art was just one of Buchinger’s talents. He was a master magician, superb marksman, and a virtuoso musical-instrument player, to name a few of the skills he was paid to perform in fairgrounds and noble houses across Europe. He could also throw dice, and could put wooden objects in tiny bottles.
To contemporary sensibilities, the idea of an 18th-century dwarf magician getting a Met show of his text art might come off as an arch conceptual hoax. But Buchinger was real, and very much a part of his time.
Oh, how I wish I could see this exhibit.
January 8–April 11, 2016
Exhibition Location: The Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery, 2nd floor,Gallery 690
Approximately 15 drawings by the 18th-century German artist Matthias Buchinger (1674–1739), who was born without hands or feet, will be presented in Wordplay: Matthias Buchinger’s Drawings from the Collection of Ricky Jay, opening at the Metropolitan Museum on January 8, 2016. Despite his physical limitations, Buchinger was celebrated in his own time as a draftsman and calligrapher as well as a magician and musician, and poetic broadsides were written in Europe and Britain about his many talents and achievements. Known as “the Little Man of Nuremberg” because he was only 29 inches tall, Buchinger lived a nomadic existence and boasted a clientele that included noblemen, kings, and emperors, along with members of the public who visited him at inns and fairs, from Leipzig to Paris and London to Belfast.
And in another Met website link:
It is a long read but fascinating.
Did You Know The Temple Wasn’t Always Beige?
Temples in Egypt, and in much of the ancient world, were not only carved with detailed reliefs, but also painted with vivid colors, like the example from the Karnak Temple Complex shown above. The small square shows a cleaned surface in an otherwise soot- and grime-covered relief scene. This small section at Karnak allows visitors to see the temple in new ways, and we set out to do this digitally with The Temple of Dendur.
The Temple of Dendur was originally located on an ancient site south of Aswan in the West Bank of the Nile, near the border between Egypt and the Sudan. Because the Nile flooded every year, the Egyptian government attempted to control the water through a series of dams. However, by the late 1920s, Dendur and the surrounding area was flooded for nine months out of the year. In the 1960s, the Egyptian government planned to construct a new dam that would have made this flooding permanent year-round.
Well, that is all for today…
Have a safe Wednesday. This is an open thread.