Okay, it is going to be another post brought to you by a heavy dose of vintage advertisements.
While searching for sexist and just flat out, crazy ass ads for Wednesdays post…I came across some old clinical advertisements that were aimed at doctors, specifically psychologist/psychiatric doctors.
I guess these were the prescription medications that drug companies would have advertised in medical journals? Whatever, some go back to the early 50’s. A few are earlier than that…most are from the late sixties, and seventies. I added a couple that are just “over the counter” (that is tongue in cheek because it is more like snake oil stuff if you ask me) you will get which ones I am talking about. These are the adverts that were just too good to pass up, I had to share them with you.
I will say this, Thorazine…wtf? They have ads for that shit…from psoriasis to bursitis, nausea to old fart’s anger issues, to anxiety and pain, the ads tell doctors to prescribe it before…during and after surgery, hell…it even cures hiccups!
This drug does everything!
Wow…That is some magical medication there….
I know that I took a shitload of space, but can you blame me?
It looks like they still prescribe this drug, for all I know I am on the thing now…I just don’t realize it. These drug names can get so confusing.
Anyway, on with the actual post…let us see what is going on in the world this Sunday morning/afternoon…
It has been a violent weekend, just read these headlines:
A Burundian army official said 87 people were killed in violence after three military installations were attacked by armed men, while the discovery Saturday of dozens of bodies which appeared to have been victims of possible retaliatory, close-range executions added further to the severity of the crisis facing the war-torn African country.
Army spokesman Col. Gaspard Baratuza said Saturday eight security officers were among those killed and 21 others wounded in the fighting. Baratuza said government forces arrested 45 members of the unidentified group that attacked the military installations.
On Saturday, Burundi’s political violence escalated further with dozens of people found shot dead in the capital, Bujumbura. Residents said that security forces searched houses, dragged out some people and shot them, some with their hands tied behind their backs.
“The bodies of dozens of civilians were on the street — most of them young men — many appear to have been shot at close range,” reported Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, who spoke to eyewitnesses in Bujumbura. “Residents believe these killings were a response to Friday’s attacks on the military.”
Police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said there were “no collateral victims” during Friday’s clashes. “All the deaths were attackers killed in the joint sweep operation of the army and police,” Nkurikiye said. “The enemy was neutralized.”
The US is urging its citizens to leave the country…Bodies on the streets as violence rocks Burundi – Al Jazeera English
The US government has asked its citizens to leave Burundi as soon as possible after 87 people were found dead in the capital Bujumbura on Saturday, in an escalation of violence linked to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s disputed third term.
The State Department said on Sunday that it has ordered the departure of non-emergency U. government personnel and dependents of US government employees from Burundi due to continuing violence.
The State Department’s travel warning also said that the US Embassy can only offer limited emergency services to US citizens in Burundi.
And while I was grabbing the quote for this link above…at the Al Jazzera English website, I saw this news alert flash by:
Russian warship fires warning shots at a Turkish vessel…
Unresponsive ship came within 600 metres of Russian destroyer before it opened fire with small arms: defence ministry.
Russia’s defence ministry says one of its warships fired warning shots at a Turkish vessel in Aegean Sea on Sunday to avoid a collision.
A ministry statement says the destroyer Smetlivy was unable to establish radio contact with the approaching Turkish ship, which also failed to respond to visual signals and flares.
When the vessel was 600 metres away, the destroyer fired with small arms and the Turkish vessel quickly changed course.
Tensions between Moscow and Ankara have been heightened since a Turkish jet downed a Russian bomber along the Syrian border last month, killing the pilot.
I will have more on this news as it happens….
Continuing with the morning post:
Francis cited no specific violent event in his homily in a Rome basilica, St. John in Lateran. But he said: “We can’t let ourselves be overcome by weariness. No form of sadness is allowed, even if we would have reason to, because of the many worries and multiple forms of violence which wound our humanity.”
Some promising news, if only just a start….First women elected to Saudi local councils | Reuters
Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that at least two women were elected to public office in the conservative Islamic kingdom after winning seats on municipal councils in Mecca and al-Jawf in Saturday’s election.
The election was the first in which women could vote and run as candidates, a landmark step in a country where women are barred from driving and are legally dependent on a male relative to approve almost all their major life decisions.
However, the election was for only two thirds of seats in municipal councils that have no lawmaking or national powers, and follows men-only polls in 2005 and 2011.
Police officials have confirmed the incident took place shortly before midday on Saturday in the Lynwood suburb of the Californian city.
A brief statement from Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the man, who has been named in local media reports as 28-year-old father-of-three Nicholas Robertson, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police spokesman Lieutenant Eddie Hernandez told KTLA-5deputies responded to a number of calls reporting a person, described as a black man wearing a checkered shirt, carrying a gun.
Take it from there…
In Tennessee, a woman who was so desperate…Woman Charged With Attempted Murder in Failed Abortion – ABC News
A Tennessee woman is charged with attempted first-degree murder for what investigators say was a failed abortion attempt.
According to a Murfreesboro Police Department report, in September Yocca, 31, filled a bathtub with water and attempted to self-abort with a coat hanger. She began bleeding and became worried about her safety.
Her boyfriend took her to the hospital where doctors delivered a 24-week-old baby weighing just 1.5 pounds. Doctors told investigators the child will need medical support for the rest of his life because of the injuries he sustained.
Yocca is due in court Dec. 21. Jail officials did not know whether she has an attorney.
I don’t know, and I am sure we will hear more about this as the case proceeds. Can you imagine the mental state of this woman? Self abort with a coat hanger in a bathtub?
More Hate, yes with a capital H:
A 23-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of a hate crime and arson related to a fire Friday afternoon at a Coachella Valley mosque.
Carl Dial was arrested about 9 p.m. Friday and booked on five felony charges, including commission of a hate crime, arson, maliciously setting a fire and second-degree burglary, according to law enforcement sources and Riverside County Sheriff’s Department booking records.
The fire at the Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley mosque is one of several incidents over the past week that officials are investigating as possible backlashes from the San Bernardino terrorist shootings. Authorities believe the shooters were self-radicalized Islamic extremists.
And just where does this man come from?
Check out the dudes parents:
They look like a poster promo for a Fox News special report, “War on Christmas” as a featured special guest…”Next up, we interviewed Mr and Mrs Dial, both loyal Fox News Viewers, for their opinion on the left’s abomination…taking Christ out of Christmas.”
I am giving you a link to Joe Cannon: Cannonfire– Why did Uncle spy on Johnetta instead of Tashfeen?
He is asking some legitimate questions, even if he puts it in a patronizing way…(regarding the “lady terrorist” comments.) But I may be a bit oversensitive…I don’t know. All other points are well made.
Sticking with the ISIL or terrorism issues for a little longer:
Hullabaloo-Emptywheel on cancer and malaise
Marcy Wheeler, usually known for her dissection of dense bureaucratic documents and finding the real meaning behind them wrote a polemic today. And it’s really good
Here is the post Digby is talking about:
The right wingers who insist on calling any attack by a Muslim “terrorism” — who insist on tying the San Bernardino attack to ISIS, even in the absence of evidence — do it to prioritize the fight against Islamic terrorists over all the other ills facing America: over other gun violence, over climate change, over the persistent economic struggles of most Americans. Theirs is a profoundly unpatriotic effort to put war over every other policy priority, even far more pressing ones. That stance has led to a disinvestment in America, with real consequences for everyone not getting rich off of arms sales.
Last week, President Obama capitulated to these forces, giving a speechdesigned to give the attack in San Bernardino precedence over all the other mass killings of late, to give its 14 dead victims more importance over all the other dead victims. Most strikingly, Obama called attacks that aren’t, legally, terrorism, something his critics have long been demanding.
Take those two links for what it is worth. I thought it was a good speech. I thought what Obama said about some things,
Here’s what else we cannot do. We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want. ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death, and they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world — including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology. Moreover, the vast majority of terrorist victims around the world are Muslim. If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate.
That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.
But just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. That kind of divisiveness, that betrayal of our values plays into the hands of groups like ISIL. Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes — and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that.
(Quoted from President Obama’s speech after the San Bernadino Mass Shooting.)
Another terrorist link for you…in more ways than you think: Gun Linked to Paris Attacks Traced Back to Florida Arms Dealer Implicated in Iran-Contra Scandal | Alternet
Century Arms buys and sells military-grade surplus guns and is one of the largest arms dealers in the U.S.
A gun linked to last month’s Paris mass shootings has been traced back to a Florida arms dealer.
The serial number for a M92 semi-automatic pistol linked to the deadly Nov. 13 terrorist attacks matched one for a weapon delivered by the Zastava arms factory in May 2013 to Century International Arms in Delray Beach, reported the Palm Beach Post.
Michael Sucher, the owner of Century Arms, did not answer calls seeking comment Thursday and the doors to his shop were closed as TV news crews gathered outside.
Employees leaving the arms dealer’s building did not comment on the case, and a woman who works next door said she had no idea the business dealt guns.
The company also holds a federal firearms license in Georgia, Vermont, to import and build guns and to import destructive devices such as large-caliber guns and armor-piercing ammunition.
Documents shared by WikiLeaks in 2011 showed Century Arms had illegally traded firearms with the help of “unauthorized brokers.”
The Center for Public Integrity reported that same year that WASR-10 rifles manufactured for Century Arms in Romania had become a favorite of Mexican drug cartels.
John Rugg, a former police officer and longtime Century Arms employee, testified before a U.S. Senate committee in 1987 that the company had supplied rockets, grenades and other weapons to Nicaraguan rebels as part of the Iran-Contra scandal.
The export of firearms is heavily regulated, and weapons experts suggested the weapon may have been illegally transferred.
Century Arms sells to individuals or other businesses with a federal firearms license, and its website directs most retail traffic to a network of dealers.
But there are no restrictions on who can obtain those licenses.
Read the rest at the link and remember, every Republican in the Senate, save for one…voted against regulating guns from people on the No-Fly list…Republicans Reject Proposals To Bar People On No-Fly List From Buying Guns : NPR
Enough, now on to other news, election news.
Barbara Schierenbeck, a 59-year-old nurse in Brooklyn, is swept up in the excitement of potentially electing Hillary Clinton the first female president. She cannot understand why her 19-year-old daughter, Anna, does not feel the same way.
“Fifteen or 20 years ago, no one would even think about a woman being president,” Mrs. Schierenbeck said. “Certainly, when I was 20 years old in the 1970s, I don’t think I would even have thought about it.”
But for her daughter, electing a woman, while a nice idea, is not a motivating factor. “I want to see someone who, like, has the fervor to fight for me,” Anna Schierenbeck said. A woman will be elected president “pretty soon” anyway, she said, regardless of what happens in 2016. Why does that woman have to be Mrs. Clinton?
The mother-daughter debate unfolding in the Schierenbeck household reflects a debate taking place across the country, as women of varying ages and backgrounds confront the potential milestone implicit in Mrs. Clinton’s bid very differently. As her chances of becoming the first woman to be nominated by a major political party improve, many women are considering how much gender should play into their decisions to embrace Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy — or not.
Fucking New York Times.
Gawd, that is horrifying enough…fucking hell!
Balkinization: Ted Cruz’s Supreme Court Memos
I told y’all about the connection with Trump, Facebook Friends, and my suspected Banjoville KKK enthusiast? Take a look at this: Georgia poll finds wide GOP support for Donald Trump and his Muslim ban | Political Insider blog
Meanwhile, as I write this, the breaking news on CNN:
Trump Defends Muslim Ban Proposal State of the Union with Jake Tapper
What a difference between that news coverage and the Al Jazeera English? Innit?
We will end the Cruz and Trump shit with a tweet from Cher:
Looks like the asshole Cruz people aka Cruz supporters have done there job to threaten Cher, yup…death threats. Fuck them all…damn I hate these dickwads.
America’s 20 wealthiest people — a group that could fit comfortably in one single Gulfstream G650 luxury jet – now own more wealth than the bottom half of the American population combined, a total of 152 million people in 57 million households.
The Forbes 400 now own about as much wealth as the nation’s entire African-American population – plus more than a third of the Latino population – combined.
The wealthiest 100 households now own about as much wealth as the entire African American population in the United States. Among the Forbes 400, just 2 individuals are African American – Oprah Winfrey and Robert Smith.
The wealthiest 186 members of the Forbes 400 own as much wealth as the entire Latino population. Just five members of the Forbes 400 are Latino including Jorge Perez, Arturo Moreno, and three members of the Santo Domingo family.
With a combined worth of $2.34 trillion, the Forbes 400 own more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the country combined, a staggering 194 million people.
The median American family has a net worth of $81,000. The Forbes 400 own more wealth than 36 million of these typical American families. That’s as many households in the United States that own cats.
In other Environmental news:
Oklahoma State University prof. says regulatory choices made decades ago set state up to experience daily earthquakes
U.S. sales of medically important antibiotics approved for use in livestock rose by 23 percent between 2009 and 2014, federal regulators said on Thursday, fueling concerns about risks to humans from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Public health advocates, along with some lawmakers and scientists, have criticized the long-standing practice of using antibiotics in livestock, arguing that it is fueling the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Agribusinesses defend the practice as necessary to help keep cattle, pigs and chickens healthy and to increase production of meat for U.S. consumers.
“Dangerous overuse of antibiotics by the agricultural industry has been on the rise at an alarming rate in recent years, putting the effectiveness of our life-saving drugs in jeopardy for people when they get sick,” said Avinash Kar, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
And before we get to the last few links, a bit of crazy…the crazy ass bat shit kind of crazy…
Remember Topeka Councilman Jonathan Schumm, and his sad wife, Allison, and how they were IN JAIL for felony child abuse of at least one of their 16 children? Thanks to excellent reporting by Buzzfeed, we have two new gross pieces of information: what exactly they did to one of their kids (ALLEGEDLY), and how they stole a baby from a lesbian couple, because Kansas.
the annals of freeloading deadbeats.
In June, ranchers in Battle Mountain, Nevada, drove their cattle onto public lands in defiance of orders by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to stay off areas affected by the ongoing drought. The ranchers claimed there was no drought and so their animals should be allowed to graze on the land. But at least two ranching families involved in the protest received $2.2 million from a federal drought disaster relief program, according to Reveal. The leader of the protest, Dan Filippini, got $338,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program (pdf) last year. His family received another $750,000 via a trust and corporation. Filippini took the payments despite his lawyer claiming in 2014 that “no drought exists” on the Battle Mountain range.
There are some good words there from Charlie about the whole Scalia thing from earlier in the week too…check it out.<
Go watch that video, it is rather cute!
And lastly…another video, a big Happy Birthday to Blue Eyes:
Before Frank Sinatra became a global household name, he was a local boy from a small town across the river from Manhattan. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth, his native Hoboken, New Jersey, has him on proud display. VOA’s Ramon Taylor reports.
May you all live to be 100 years old and may the last voice you hear be mine!
Enjoy…That’s life. BTW, think of this as an open thread.
So, I’m going to write briefly about something that’s been fascinating me lately. That’s the incredible decrease in oil prices and the impact that it’s having on Russia and other oil producing nations outside of the Emirates and Saudi Arabia . I’m a sucker for a good currency crisis since it’s basically right up my research alley.
Also, oil has been one of those commodities that’s pretty much dominated my adult life. I remember having to buy gas on even days because the Dealer’s tags on our cars ended in 8 during the oil crisis. I know what it did to my dad’s business as a car dealer. Basically, oil’s been the most fungible commodity in modern times. No modern economy can live without it. We’ve definitely fought wars to control it. Oil’s being weaponized like never before.
There are several key factors driving down your gas at the pump. First, the global economy has slowed down so that the demand for oil has tapered off. That’s one thing that’s been at play. But the more interesting factor has been the increase in supply which is related to the interesting way that Saudis have been ignoring OPEC quotas and inching up the supply. There’s been some rumors going around–actual conspiracy theories– that they are doing so for three reasons. First, they want to make sure that the nascent tar sands oil industry in North America isn’t profitable. Second, they want to hurt Iran, Syria, and Iraq and any other Shia nation involved with oil production. The third reason is to get at Russia. I want to share what I’ve found on these fronts with you. It has the feel of a new kind of cold war and the opposite of the gas wars of the 1970s.
Russia just experienced a “Black Monday” in that the Russian Stock market has collapsed as has the ruble. The Russia economy is heavily dependent on oil exports so any decrease in oil prices has an impact. These continued price decreases have their economy on the verge of failure. The entire situation has been exacerbated by UN Sanction against the country for its invasion and intervention in the Ukraine. It’s not pretty.
In recent weeks, the fall in the Russian ruble and Russian stock markets closely tracked the declines in global oil prices. But everything changed on December 15. The oil price remained stable, but the ruble and the stock-price indices lost 30% in the subsequent 24 hours. An unprecedented effort by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) in the wee hours of December 16 to stabilize the ruble, by hiking the interest rate from 10.5% to 17%, proved useless.
The cause of Russia’s “Black Monday” was readily apparent: the government bailout of state-owned Rosneft, the country’s largest oil company. Usually, bailouts calm markets; but this one recalled early post-Soviet experiments, when the CBR issued direct loans to enterprises – invariably fueling higher inflation. The CBR’s governor at the time, Viktor Gerashchenko, was once dubbed the world’s worst central banker.
In 2014, the CBR is more constrained than it was in Gerashchenko’s era: it cannot lend directly to firms. Yet it has also become more sophisticated at achieving the same ends that Gerashchenko sought.
In October, Rosneft issued $11 billion worth of ruble-denominated bonds (an unparalleled amount for the Russian market, equivalent to 70% of the total value of corporate bonds issued in Russia this year). The coupon on these bonds was actually 1.5 percentage points below sovereign bonds of similar maturity, which is also unusual, especially given that Rosneft currently is subject to Western sanctions.
Then, unnamed investors (allegedly the largest Russian state banks) benefited from the CBR’s decision on December 12 to allow these bonds to be used as collateral for three-year CBR ruble loans at the policy rate. Moreover, the CBR scheduled a special auction for such loans on December 15 – with the total amount of the loans similar to that of Rosneft’s bond issue. Thus, the CBR would be able to provide a massive pile of rubles to Rosneft at below-market rates. So why did the deal trigger a panic?
At first glance, this deal was intended to meet contemporary Russia’s most important economic challenge. Sanctions have cut off Russian banks and companies from Western financial markets. Russian companies have to repay or refinance about $300 billion of debt over the coming two years. Some of this debt is owed to Russian companies’ offshore owners, who will certainly be happy to roll it over. But in most cases, firms’ liabilities comprise real debt owed to major international banks.
Global investors are anxiously awaiting some kind of strategy for recovery. Actions by the Central Bank of Russia have been very curious. All of the countries that depend on oil exports for huge amounts of their funding are in trouble. Russia is probably just the most obvious of them. This goes for Iran also. That’s because both of them are heavily weighed down by UN sanctions.
The non-OPEC producing countries (Russia, Brazil and Norway, as examples) are starting to become backed into an economic corner. In all of these countries, oil represents a major export and helps finance other economic activities. For example, as Russia sells oil in the open market (priced in dollars) at $60 per barrel, the revenue in dollars is 50 percent less than was the case in June of this year. Since June, the Russian Ruble has declined by 59 percent (to the U.S. dollar). A “crash” in the value of any currency leads to very high inflation (imports are now more expensive than would have otherwise been the case), which leads to potential civil unrest. On a global scale, the “wealth” of Russia as a nation, priced in Rubles, has declined by 59 percent in the last six months.
This is the stuff that leads to revolutions. Oil, other commodities and vodka are about the only exports Russia creates and helps fund their country’s spending. They are net importers of most all consumption goods (health supplies, food, etc.). In their own currency, those imports are now 59 percent more expensive than they were this past summer.
To some, the problem Russia currently faces sounds like something Vladimir Putin created by his dalliances in the Crimea and Ukraine. There is some truth to this as those actions led to economic sanctions unleashed by the West on Russia. The oil pricing issue is indirectly due to his destructive behavior. What really matters to the rest of the world at this stage is the potential for economic weakness to spread to the rest of the world from Russia… monetary contagion, anyone?
How would this happen? Why would the rest of the world be negatively affected by weakness in the Russian Ruble? Russia’s economy is the world’s eighth largest (as measured by the IMF ), a little larger than Italy and a little smaller than Brazil. At about $2.1 trillion in GDP, Russia is dwarfed by the United States at $17.5 trillion. If Russia’s economy contracts by 4 percent (which potentially is in the cards for 2015), it will impact the world’s GDP by about $84 billion, or .1 percent. No big deal. However, let’s think not about the world’s income statement (GDP) but rather about the world’s balance sheet – the world’s banking system.
Most Russian national debt is priced in Rubles and the value of that debt has collapsed from six months ago when the Ruble was higher and Russian interest rates were dramatically lower. Russia’s public debt is $216 billion. The Russian benchmark interest rate was at 7.5 percent in June of this year – that interest rate is now 17 percent.
How much this impacts any other country has a lot to do on how many banks hold Ruble-denominated assets or liabilities. The interesting thing is that Saudi Arabia seems no where done with its dalliance in increasing oil supply. This particular bit of news is what motivated me to finally bring this up here. The emirates and Saudi Arabia seem willing to dig into their own sovereign wealth and their countries’ spending to see this through. They must be extremely serious about something. Is it the threat from Shia Muslims? From US Fracking Oil? Do they just plain hate the Russians?
Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet on Thursday endorsed a 2015 budget that projects a slight increase in spending and a significant drop in revenues due to sliding oil prices, resulting in a nearly $39 billion deficit
In a sign of mounting financial pressure, the Finance Ministry said the government would try to cut back on salaries, wages and allowances, which “contribute to about 50 percent of total budgeted expenditures.” That could stir resentment among the kingdom’s youth, who make up a majority of the population and are increasingly struggling to find affordable housing and salaries that cover their cost of living.
The price of oil— the backbone of Saudi Arabia’s economy — has fallen by about a half since the summer. Saudi Arabia is extremely wealthy, but there are deep wealth disparities and youth unemployment is expected to mushroom absent a dramatic rise in private sector job creation. The International Monetary Fund says almost two-thirds of employed Saudis work for the government.
A the height of Arab Spring protests sweeping the region in 2011, King Abdullah pledged $120 billion to fund a number of projects, including job creation and hikes in public sector wages. The move was largely seen as an effort to appease the public and blunt any challenges to monarchical rule.
Associate Fellow and energy researcher at Chatham House, Valerie Marcel, said massive government spending across the Gulf on public sector salaries is “really the thing that keeps the lid on the bottle.” She said that for now the Arab monarchies of the Gulf can afford to run deficits due to surpluses accumulated over the years from high oil prices.
Now that’s commitment. There’s actually some discussion around that the US and the Saudis basically colluded to drop oil prices. This all is happening while OPEC has called for widespread production cuts. Anyone with a little game theory background along with economics know that this is a deadly game. The ones that cut their production will lose income.
Turning to the current price drop, the Saudis and OPEC have a vested interest in taking out higher-cost competitors, such as US shale oil producers, who will certainly be hurt by the lower price. Even before the price drop, the Saudis were selling their oil to China at a discount. OPEC’s refusal on Nov. 27 to cut production seemed like the baldest evidence yet that the oil price drop was really an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and the US.
However, analysis shows the reasoning is complex, and may go beyond simply taking down the price to gain back lost marketshare.
“What is the reason for the United States and some U.S. allies wanting to drive down the price of oil?” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro asked rhetorically in October. “To harm Russia.”
Many believe the oil price plunge is the result of deliberate and well-planned collusion on the part of the United States and Saudi Arabia to punish Russia and Iran for supporting the murderous Assad regime in Syria.
Punishing Assad and friends
Proponents of this theory point to a Sept. 11 meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi King Abdullah at his palace on the Red Sea. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, it was during that meeting that a deal was hammered out between Kerry and Abdullah. In it, the Saudis would support Syrian airstrikes against Islamic State (ISIS), in exchange for Washington backing the Saudis in toppling Assad.
If in fact a deal was struck, it would make sense, considering the long-simmering rivalry between Saudi Arabia and its chief rival in the region: Iran. By opposing Syria, Abdullah grabs the opportunity to strike a blow against Iran, which he sees as a powerful regional rival due to its nuclear ambitions, its support for militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and its alliance with Syria, which it provides with weapons and funding. The two nations are also divided by religion, with the majority of Saudis following the Sunni version of Islam, and most Iranians considering themselves Shi’ites.
“The conflict is now a full-blown proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which is playing out across the region,” Reuters reported on Dec. 15. “Both sides increasingly see their rivalry as a winner-take-all conflict: if the Shi’ite Hezbollah gains an upper hand in Lebanon, then the Sunnis of Lebanon—and by extension, their Saudi patrons—lose a round to Iran. If a Shi’ite-led government solidifies its control of Iraq, then Iran will have won another round.”
The Saudis know the Iranians are vulnerable on the oil price. Experts say the country needs $140 a barrel oil to balance its budget; at sub-$60 prices, the Saudis succeed in pressuring Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, possibly containing its nuclear ambitions and making the country more pliable to the West, which has the power to reduce or lift sanctions if Iran cooperates.
Adding credence to this theory, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a Cabinet meeting earlier this month that the fall in oil prices was “politically motivated” and a “conspiracy against the interests of the region, the Muslim people and the Muslim world.”
So, you can see, there’s a little bit of economy theory blended with conspiracy theory here. Frankly, I”m all for Saudi Arabia crippling American Fracking even though I’m sitting in a state where things will only go from bad to worse in this situation. (Although I will mention I’m actively looking at real estate in Washington State right now.)
Despite repetition in countless media accounts and analysts’ notes over the past few weeks, though, the idea of a “sheikhs vs. shale” battle to control global oil supplies has precious little evidence behind it. The Saudi-led decision to keep OPEC’s wells pumping is a direct strike by Riyadh on two already hobbled geopolitical rivals, Iran and Russia, whose support for the Syrian government and other geostrategic machinations are viewed as far more serious threats to the kingdom than the inconvenience of competing for market share with American frackers.
Among the world’s oil producing nations, few suffer more from the Saudi move than Tehran and Moscow. At a time when both are already saddled with economic sanctions — Russia for its actions in Ukraine and Iran for its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons technology — the collapse of oil prices has put unprecedented pressure on these regimes. For Russia, the crisis has hit very hard, with the ruble losing 40 percent of its value to the dollar since October. This is particularly problematic since Russian state-owned oil firms have gone on a dollar-borrowing spree in recent years; now, servicing that debt looks very ominous.
True, Saudi OPEC minister Ali al-Naimi insisted last month that the move was intended to target shale. But he would say that, wouldn’t he? After all, his OPEC counterparts were standing beside him — including the OPEC minister from Iran.
The fact is, Saudi Arabia has little to fear from shale. Saudi Arabia’s huge reserves of conventional oil can and probably will be produced for decades after the shale boom has run its course — which the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects to happen by 2050 or so — and at much lower costs.
So, that one could be just a conspiracy theory. Anyway, it is very interesting situation that seems to converge economics with geopolitics. It won’t be the first time that oil and other commodities have been used as weapons. The Spanish Empire was taken down by its gold lust and hoarding by Good Queen Bess as one example. It’s really interesting no matter what the rationale.
For all our worries over Russia, however, we in Britain should not lose sight of the humiliation of another swaggering and once-mighty force in world politics, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). When it burst on the world scene 40 years ago, OPEC terrified the wasteful West.
Over the previous decades, we had grown used to abundant oil, bought mostly from Middle Eastern producers — with little global muscle — at rock- bottom prices.
However, OPEC changed that. By restricting supply, the cartel quadrupled the oil price, from $3 to $12.
Saudis remain in a strong position because oil is cheap to produce there. Above, the country’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Ibrahim Naimi
That is only a fraction of today’s price — but the oil crisis sparked by the rocketing cost in 1974 was enough to lead to queues at filling stations and national panics in the pitifully unprepared industrialised world.
Four decades later, Saudi Arabia has become one of the richest countries in the world, with reserves totalling nearly $900 billion.
But the rest of the world is less at its mercy than it once was. Here in Britain, our energy consumption is dropping remorselessly — the result of increased energy efficiency.
Moreover, many other nations now produce oil. And oil can be replaced by other fuels, such as natural gas, which OPEC does not control.
Also, OPEC no longer has the discipline or the clout to dominate the market, and we in Britain are among the big winners from all this, reaping the benefits of lower costs to fill up our cars and power our industries.
At its meeting in Vienna last month, the OPEC oil cartel — which controls nearly 40 per cent of global production — faced a fateful choice.
Would it curb production and thus, by reducing supplies, try to ratchet the oil price back to something near $100 a barrel — the level most of its members need to balance their books? Or would it let the glut continue?
The organisation’s 12 member countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Venezuela and Nigeria, chose to do nothing, proving that its once-mighty power has withered. Oil prices subsequently fell even further.
One central problem is that several of OPEC’s members detest each other for a variety of reasons.
Above all, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies see Iran — a bitter religious and political opponent — as their main regional adversary.
They know that Iran, dominated by the Shia Muslim sect, supports a resentful underclass of more than a million under-privileged and angry Shia people living in the gulf peninsula — a potential uprising waiting to happen against the Saudi regime.
The Saudis, who are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslims, also loathe the way Iran supports President Assad’s regime in Syria — with which the Iranians have a religious affiliation. They also know that Iran, its economy plagued by corruption and crippled by Western sanctions, desperately needs the oil price to rise. And they have no intention of helping out.
The fact is that the Saudis remain in a strong position because oil is cheap to produce there, and the country has such vast reserves. It can withstand a year — or three — of low oil prices.
The fact is that the Saudis remain in a strong position because oil is cheap to produce there, and the country has such vast reserves. It can withstand a year — or three — of low oil prices.
In Moscow, Vladimir Putin does not have that luxury — and the Saudis know it.
They revile Russia, too, for its military support of President Assad, and for its sale of advanced weapons to Iran.
So there’s the piece on why Russian and Iran are targeted. Anyway, unless you’re a CIA analyst specializing that area with access to all the back and forth, it’s hardly possible to untangle all these wicked webs. It is evident, however, that the Saudis have some bones to pick with a lot of folks and picking away they are.
It will be interesting to watch this unfold. I have no doubt this will have bigger implications and I also know that most folks aren’t following this. I’m also pretty sure the usual news outlets are giving this short shrift. You can tell if you if follow any of my links because only one goes to the NY Times. The rest are mags that are read by very few folks.
So …. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Wolf Blitzer must be celebrating this morning, because the mystery plane is back in the headlines.
SYDNEY, Australia — Investigators looking into the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines plane are confident it was on autopilot when it crashed in a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean, Australian officials said Thursday as they announced the latest shift in the search for the jet.
After analyzing data exchanged between the plane and a satellite, officials believe Flight 370 was on autopilot the entire time it was flying across a vast expanse of the southern Indian Ocean, based on the straight path it took, Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Martin Dolan said.
“Certainly for its path across the Indian Ocean, we are confident that the aircraft was operating on autopilot until it ran out of fuel,” Dolan told reporters in Canberra, the nation’s capital.
Asked whether the autopilot would have to be manually switched on, or whether it could have been activated automatically under a default setting, Dolan replied, “The basic assumption would be that if the autopilot is operational it’s because it’s been switched on.”
But exactly why the autopilot would have been set on a flight path so far off course from the jet’s destination of Beijing, and exactly when it was switched on remains unknown.
A report issued by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, outlining how the new search zone had been chosen, said that the most likely scenario as the aircraft headed south across the Indian Ocean on March 8 was that the crew was suffering from hypoxia or was otherwise unresponsive.
Hypoxia occurs when a plane loses air pressure and the pilots, lacking adequate oxygen, become confused and incapable of performing even basic manual tasks.
Pilots are trained to put on oxygen masks immediately if an aircraft suffers depressurization; their masks have an hour’s air supply, compared with only a few minutes for the passengers. The plane, which left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, bound for Beijing, with 239 people aboard, made its turn south toward the Indian Ocean about an hour after it stopped responding to air-traffic controllers….
Evidence for an unresponsive crew as the plane flew south includes the loss of radio communications, a long period with no maneuvering of the aircraft, a steadily maintained cruise altitude and eventual fuel exhaustion and descent, the report said.
“Given these observations, the final stages of the unresponsive crew/hypoxia event type appeared to best fit the available evidence for the final period of MH370’s flight when it was heading in a generally southerly direction,” the document said.
Based on the report, a new search zone has been designated, according to the LA Times:
Experts from Boeing and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board were among the specialists who helped define the zone, based on satellite data and analysis of previous similar incidents.
The new zone, about 1,100 miles west of Perth, Australia, is farther south than where previous intensive search efforts were carried out this spring after the plane vanished March 8 with 239 people aboard. The flight was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it went missing….
Australia Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the search was continuing with a mapping of the ocean floor in the newly defined area, to be followed by a comprehensive seafloor search.
The seafloor search, he said, should start around August and be completed within one year. The area is 58 miles wide and 400 miles long, covering an area as big as Lake Huron, the second-largest of the U.S. Great Lakes. By comparison, the area searched with a robotic, sonar-equipped submarine in May was about 330 square miles.
There was exciting news yesterday in the struggle to legalize same-sex marriage state by state.
In Utah, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld a lower court ruling striking down the state’s gay-marriage ban. And in Indiana,U.S. District Judge Richard Young made a similar ruling.
“It is wholly illogical to believe that state recognition of love and commitment of same-sex couples will alter the most intimate and personal decisions of opposite-sex couples,” the three-judge panel in the Utah case said. The panel immediately put the ruling on hold pending its appeal, either to the entire 10th Circuit or directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to The Associated Press.
In Indiana, Young wrote: “Same-sex couples, who would otherwise qualify to marry in Indiana, have the right to marry in Indiana. … These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”
Both decisions are significant in that they may influence decisions in other states.
Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, writes NPR in an email that the Utah decision “is very significant, as [it is] the first appellate court to address the marriage equality issue.
“The 4th Circuit [in Virginia] may well apply the reasoning of the 10th Circuit opinion, as will numerous district courts that have yet to rule,” he says.
“The Indiana ruling invalidating its ban today also used similar reasoning,” Tobias says. “All courts are finding that the bans violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th amendment.”
In another breakthrough, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine has announced that she supports same-sex marriage. From The Washington Post:
“A number of states, including my home state of Maine, have now legalized same-sex marriage, and I agree with that decision,” Collins said in a statement, adding later: “I have long opposed efforts to impose a federal ban on same-sex marriage. In both 2004 and 2006, I voted against amendments to the United States Constitution that would have banned same-sex marriages by preempting state laws.”
Collins joins three other Republican senators who publicly support gay marriage: Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Mark Kirk (Ill.).
Today at noon Eastern, the U.S. plays Germany in the World Cup.
CBS News reports, Team USA: “Everything’s on the line” for Germany match.
It’s been a roller coaster ride for the American team so far in the World Cup. The team that, on paper, many pundits didn’t expect to advance, now has a real shot at moving on to the second round. And as CBS News’ Elaine Quijano reports, that fate is hinged on beating or at least coming up even against one of the cup favorites, Germany.
Team USA was greeted with cheers from American fans Wednesday as they arrived in the Brazilian city of Recife.
“This is the biggest game of a lot of our lives, so any fatigue in our legs will be erased,” said American midfielder Kyle Beckerman. “We’ve got to give everything we’ve got and more.”
Team USA began their World Cup run in the so-called “group of death,” but their aggression, attacks and overall stamina on the pitch have defied pundits who originally dismissed their chances of advancing.
“I think some people might be a little bit surprised at our results so far,” coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Wednesday. “We are by no means any underdog here in this tournament, but we know it’s the biggest hurdle we have to take now with Germany.”
Klinsman suggested that U.S. fans should take a day off work to watch the game, and wrote a letter to bosses asking them to excuse their employee’s absences, reports Reuters.
In the style of a ‘doctor’s note’, Klinsmann addresses employers and asks them to forgive their staff for their absence.
The letter was distributed on social networks by the U.S. Soccer.
“I understand that this absence may reduce the productivity of your workplace, but I can assure you that it is for an important cause,” wrote Klinsmann.
“The #USMNT (U.S. Men’s National Team) has a critical World Cup game vs Germany and we will need the full support of the nation if we are to advance to the next round.
“By the way, you should act like a good leader and take the day off as well. Go USA! Signed Jurgen Klinsmann, Head Coach, U.S. National team”.
And from Jake Simpson at the Atlantic: The Surprisingly High Stakes of the U.S.-Germany World Cup Game.
In the wake of the U.S. team’s heartbreaking come-from-ahead draw against Portugal in the World Cup on Sunday, soccer analysts and Twitter users scrambled to figure out the many ways the U.S. can still get to the next round. With a three-point lead over Portugal and Ghana in Group G, the Americans can advance even if they lose their match against Germany at noon Eastern today, depending on the outcome of the Portugal-Ghana game played at the same time. Deadspin has one of the better graphical breakdowns of every potential scenario for the U.S., including the dreaded drawing of lots.
All the focus on permutations and goal-differential scenarios has undercut the importance of today’s game for American soccer. There’s not as much at stake, goes the implication, because we can move ahead even if we lose to Germany. But this is about more than getting to the next round. This is an opportunity for the U.S. to face one of soccer’s elite teams on the biggest stage and prove it can hang with—even beat—any country in this World Cup.
Before the tournament, most people thought it would be an unlikely success for the U.S. just to get out of the so-called Group of Death and to the Round of 16. Now, after beating Ghana and dominating much of the game against Portugal, the U.S. can dream bigger. Beat Germany, and America wins its group for the second straight World Cup, a result nearly unthinkable when the draw was announced in December. Beat Germany, and the U.S. secures a favorable Round of 16 match most likely against Algeria or Russia, rather than a trickier faceoff with sneaky-good Belgium.
Just as important, a win would mean that the Americans have defeated one of soccer’s oligarchs at a World Cup, with both sides trying their best for a victory. That by itself would be a precedent-setting result.
People in Oklahoma are beginning to ask questions
about why their state has been having so many earthquakes all of a sudden, according to the Globe-Gazzette.com.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma residents whose homes and nerves have been shaken by an upsurge in earthquakes want to know what’s causing the temblors — and what can be done to stop them.
Hundreds of people are expected to turn out in Edmond, Oklahoma, on Thursday night for a town hall meeting on the issue.
Earthquakes used to be almost unheard of on the vast stretches of prairie that unfold across Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, but they’ve become common in recent years.
Oklahoma recorded nearly 150 between January and the start of May. Though most have been too weak to cause serious damage or endanger lives, they’ve raised suspicions that the shaking might be connected to the oil and gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, especially the wells in which the industry disposes of its wastewater.
Now after years of being harangued by anxious residents, governments in all three states are confronting the issue, reviewing scientific data, holding public discussions and considering new regulations. Thursday’s meeting in Oklahoma will include the state agency that regulates oil and gas drilling and the Oklahoma Geological Survey.
Gee, do you suppose it could have anything to do with fracking? And what about all that wastewater that has to be disposed of in the fracking process? From Techsonia: Fracking Fluid Spills release Colloids that Pollute Groundwater.
According to a new research, wastewater contains substances that bind to pollutants and their release in soil leads to the ground water contamination as they get along with the water when it is soaked by earth.
In this study, flowback fluid from hydraulic fracturing was analyzed. Colloids are the charged particles and larger than molecules and have the potency to bind to sand grains. With the wastewater, colloids get released in to the ground water.
This study was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and was conducted by the researchers at the Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
This study was done to determine the remaining colloids amounts in groundwater when the above soil got exposed to flowback fliud in a hydrofracking spills.
One last story . . .
Scientists have unearthed interesting facts about Oldest human faeces show Neanderthals ate vegetables.
Found at a dig in Spain, the ancient excrement showed chemical traces of both meat and plant digestion.
An earlier view of these early humans as purely meat-eating has already been partially discredited by plant remains found in their caves and teeth.
The new paper, in the journal PLOS One, claims to offer the best support to date for an omnivorous diet.
Poo is “the perfect evidence,” said Ms Ainara Sistiaga, a PhD student at the University of La Laguna on the Canary Islands, and the study’s first author, “because you’re sure it was consumed”.
Ms Sistiaga and her colleagues collected a number of samples from the remnants of a 50,000-year-old campfire in the El Salt dig site, a known Neanderthal habitation near Alicante on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.
So if you bought into the “cave man diet” AKA “Paleolithic diet” recommendations, you were scammed. These early Neanderthals even cooked vegetables and may have used plants for medicinal purposes. Read the whole article at the link. It’s fascinating.
Now . . . what stories are you following today? Are you going to watch the U.S.-Germany game? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread.
This should be interesting, I am sitting here trying to write today’s post with a pounding sinus headache, while North by Northwest is on the telly.
If my brain is not fully functional because of the sinus…my fingers and my thoughts
may be will be forced to wander off into the film as Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint travel by train across the country towards the monument carve out on the mountain, you know the one…with those big ugly men’s faces on it.
The thread will feature plenty of ex libris artwork from various time periods and artist and countries as found on Pinterest…so enjoy them.
I will start with this first link, a story that I found from a couple of weeks ago, perhaps you have seen it already: Barbara Bowman Speaks About Bill Cosby Sexual Abuse Allegations
Last week, Newsweek interviewed Tamara Green, one of 13 women who accused Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them in a civil lawsuit brought by Andrea Constand in 2004, and settled under undisclosed terms in 2006. Now, a second woman is speaking out: Barbara Bowman, a 46-year-old artist who says Cosby took her under his wing in the late ‘80s, when she was a teenager — and repeatedly emotionally and physically abused her.
Read the interview at the link, it is something else…then take a few minutes to peek at the comments. Oh they are all the usual shits you would expect, but I thought it was a very believable story.
Next up, some fun…I must tell you, a lot of today’s links are not “trending” news items. Y’all remember that article about how you say the word youse, you, you all, you guys and what was the other one? What We Mean When We Say Hello – Deborah Fallows – The Atlantic
The curious geography of American greetings
Last week I wrote about conversation starters that follow “Hello” and “How do you do.” Many dozens of you have written in and generously included your comments and interpretations of what you think people actually mean when they say something like “Where do you live?” or “Where are you from?”
Here is what you’ve said so far:
Check it out, I would love to see what this article’s author would think of places like Tampa, that has an influx of different people…from all over.
With all the cold weather, it can suck ass…but look at what beautiful things it can bring: Ice caves in northern Wisconsin are dazzling winter phenomena
Mother Nature has become a Chihuly-like sculptress in sea caves along Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. Icicles hang by the thousands in caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. In warmer weather, the caves would be accessible only by water, but during this consistently cold winter, they are accessible by frozen lakeshore.
Lots more pictures at the link.
More “neat” stuff to see: Geologists Glimpse a Heaven Below – NYTimes.com
Imagine the frustration faced for so many years by Eric W. Jordan and his colleagues. They could take a pretty good guess at what lay hundreds of feet beneath the macadam-sealed surface of New York City’s streets. They just had no way of knowing for sure.
But the last 10 years or so have been a boon to Mr. Jordan and his fellow geologists; mammoth subterranean excavations for the city’s Third Water Tunnel, the Second Avenue Subway and the Long Island Rail Road’s East Side Access Project have enabled them to see for themselves the rock formations and faults that they had only been able to imagine, undergirding Manhattan.
There is this amazing picture at that link, a massive space within one of the underground tunnels…shitfire! It does not look real but it is…
I’ve got another thing for you that is real, but seems surreal. Like a film that should have been directed by David Lynch, Inside the mind of a mass murderer, in drag – Amanpour – CNN.com Blogs
How do we know what is in the mind of a mass murderer? How about getting them to re-enact those crimes?
That is exactly what documentary filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer did with several men who participated in mass killings in Indonesia decades ago.
“It’s tempting to look at them through the lens of sort of fiction storytelling, where you have good guys and bad guys, good guys and then cackling villains,” Oppenheimer told CNN’s Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, on Monday.
“When you’re a non-fiction filmmaker, you have to look at the real people you meet.”
Just look at this image from the movie:
To his surprise and horror, they were enthusiastic. They agreed to make a movie about how they killed and allowed him to film the process.
The result is a mind-bending movie within a documentary, by turns emotionally revolting, beautiful, and bizarre – one of the mass killers appears, as often as not, in drag. It is rarely entirely clear what is ‘acting’ and what is genuine.
Alright. Moving on.
While on the subject of film, here is a reminder. Watch Pygmalion (1939) – staring Leslie Howard on Sunday, February 23rd at 12:15 am EST. It is fantastic!
Decades before the 1964 musical My Fair Lady swept the Academy Awards®, the author of Pygmalion, the play on which it was based, became a most unlikely Oscar® winner for the original’s 1938 screen adaptation. Possibly the most intelligent person to win the award (he might have claimed to be the only intelligent man to do so), Shaw holds the distinction of being the only individual to win both an Academy Award® and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Given his disdain for the movies, particularly those adapted from his own plays, it’s a minor miracle the film even got made and turned out to be a brilliant adaptation.
The story of a phonetics professor (modeled on real-life phonetician Henry Sweet) who turns a Cockney flower girl into a lady by teaching her to speak properly touched a chord with audiences, who viewed it as one of the writer’s most romantic plays. It had already been filmed twice, in Germany in 1935 and in the Netherlands in 1937. Shaw had disliked those versions so much that when producer Gabriel Pascal first approached him about filming an English version, the writer turned him down. Only when Pascal promised not to change a word and agreed to cast Wendy Hiller, whom Shaw had admired in stage productions of Pygmalion and St. Joan, did the great writer accede. Although she had already made one film, the low-budget 1937 comedy Lancashire Luck, Pascal gave her introductory billing in Pygmalion at Shaw’s request.
The author did not get his way in casting the male lead, however. His first choice for Henry Higgins was Charles Laughton, but Pascal convinced him that Leslie Howard would make the film more marketable in the U.S. That choice may not have been based solely on the stars’ box-office appeal. In the mid-’30s, Laughton was riding high on a series of popular films, including Ruggles of Red Gap and Mutiny on the Bounty (both 1935). Rather, Pascal may have been appealing to the popular notion that the leading characters eventually married. Shaw had resisted the notion and even wrote a 1916 essay describing Eliza’s life after parting ways with Higgins and decrying the more sentimental interpretations as “lazy dependence on the ready-mades and reach-me-downs of the ragshop in which Romance keeps its stock of ‘happy endings’ to misfit all stories.” With the more romantic Howard cast as Higgins, however, Pascal may have hoped to weight the story towards a more romantic interpretation that would have sold more tickets.
One way Pascal got around Shaw’s insistence on a word-for-word filming of the play was by hiring him to write the screenplay. That gave the author a chance to incorporate scenes cut from most stage productions because they would have added too many sets (Shaw even had said such scenes were best suited to a film version). The writer also got to expand the scene at the Embassy Ball, where Higgins wins his bet to pass Eliza off as a lady. As a result, Shaw agreed to cut some of the play’s more philosophical speeches, including several of the longer speeches delivered by Eliza’s father. He also grudgingly agreed to include a final scene in which Eliza returns to Higgins, who, unable to express his love for her, demands “Where the devil are my slippers, Eliza?” Shaw would later disavow this ending, insisting that Eliza instead married her high society admirer, Freddie Eynsford-Hill.
Bottom line is Shaw loved this film version.
At year’s end, it was nominated for four Academy Awards® — including Best Picture, Best Actor (Howard) and Best Actress (Hiller) — years before foreign films were regularly honored at the Oscars®. It won for Shaw’s screenplay, but the author was hardly grateful. Instead, he announced, “It’s an insult for them to offer me any honor, as if they had never heard of me — and it’s very likely they never have. They might as well send an honor to George for being King of England.” His private views may have been more appreciative. Mary Pickford would later report that when she visited Shaw the award was prominently displayed on his mantelpiece.
When novelist Lloyd C. Douglas announced Pygmalion had won Best Screenplay, he quipped, “Mr. Shaw’s story now is as original as it was three thousand years ago.” But though Shaw had, indeed, been inspired by the Greek myth about a sculptor who falls in love with his female statue, his version of the story became as much a part of popular culture as the original legend.
Please stay up and watch it, you will not be disappointed.
Okay, now a quick link to some eye-candy: Anna Sui Fall 2014 Collection | Tom & Lorenzo Fabulous & Opinionated
A sad farewell to actor Christopher Malcolm, Rocky Horror’s Brad, dies aged 67
Tributes are being paid to actor and theatre producer Christopher Malcolm, whose roles included the original Brad Majors in the Rocky Horror Show and Saffy’s gay dad in Absolutely Fabulous.Christopher Malcolm starred in 1979 drama The Great Riviera Bank Robbery alongside Ian McShane
His death, aged 67, was confirmed by his daughter Morgan Lloyd Malcolm on Twitter, who wrote: “Today the world lost a beautiful, brilliant man.”
His starred in films such as The Empire Strikes Back, Labyrinth and Highlander.
Having played Brad Majors in the original production of The Rocky Horror Show in 1974 and co-produced the 1990 West End revival, he then took charge of producing all productions of Richard O’Brien’s much-loved musical around the world.
Since I have been sick, and totally out of the loop, I missed this nugget of news: President Obama Apologizes for Dissing Art History Degrees | Mediaite
If you got a degree in art history, your eye might have twitched a bit when President Obama said a few weeks ago that Americans would be more well off in the manufacturing industry as opposed to, say, having an art history degree. Well, there is literally nothing these days that doesn’t warrant an apology, and now Obama has apologized for that remark.
Well at least he has made an apology. I guess.
Then you have the other extreme, a president of a country who is completely off base. I am speaking of Putin of course, and his position on gays. Did y’all see this? Members of Pussy Riot released in Sochi – CNN.com (I thought that Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were no longer “band members.”)
Two members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot were detained briefly Tuesday in central Sochi, after apparently being considered suspects in a theft at their hotel, and then released.
Earlier in the day, band members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were meeting with journalists when police detained them, according to Tolokonnikova’s husband, Petr Verzilov. Russian media corroborated the report.
“They were put to the floor and beaten and physical force was used to them when they refused to be questioned without the presence of their lawyer, who was on his way to the police department,” Verzilov told reporters.
The stories I have read about arrest out of Sochi are scary, what a disgusting display to the world.
Olympic police today re-arrested former Italian member of parliament Vladimir Luxuria for wearing an outfit that was deemed a bit too “gay” for the Sochi Olympics.
Luxuria was wearing rainbow-colored clothing, and a rainbow wig. She was arrested while walking to her seat at an Olympic hockey game.
The rainbow is now legally suspect in Russia since the passage last year of a draconian anti-gay law that bans what the Russians call “gay propaganda.” In reality, the law bans anything – speech, clothing or actions – that might give the impression that being gay is okay.
For example, the flag of Russia’s autonomous Jewish region came under scrutiny from Moscow because it contains a rainbow. And a newspaper editor was recently fined three-month’s pay for quoting a gay person in a news story in which the gay person defended themselves for having been fired based on their sexual orientation. And under similar legislation in St. Petersburg, a man was arrested for wearing rainbow suspenders.
This post is getting long so real quick like:
AP sources: DOE to OK $6.5B for Georgia nuke plant | AccessNorthGa -That is for a new nuke plant south of Augusta, it was approved in 2010 under Obama’s watch. Doesn’t make me too happy considering there was an 4.1 earthquake not far from there just a few days ago.
A trunk to cry on? Elephants console distressed pals, study says – For such a smart and sympathetic animal to have as a “symbol” of the GOP party? Oh the irony.
One observation, isn’t the Gov a public servant and does he not work for the people aka the food clerk whom he got fired?
Here’s a photo of the letter and coupon obtained by No Fracking Way. Unlike the long-term health and environment effects of fracking, this special offer expires soon:
All that shit makes this real estate look good, remember that Sky Dancing commune?
This medieval hamlet for sale in Umbria, Italy, dates back to the 12th century, as witnessed by the Todi’s Liber Focolarium, that is the book of the local families. It was then inhabited by 32 families, more or less 150 people.
Somebody get me the phone!
Placed on a hilltop overlooking the Tiber River valley, Izzalini is surrounded by a large proprietary 16,000 sqm forest. You can find there ancient trees, witnessing the history of the place, olive groves, whose fruits’ nectar is the renowned exquisite Umbrian Extra Virgin Oil, pasture for herds, whose milk is used to make the delicious Umbrian cheeses on site and woodland, suitable for different purposes: activities, garden, cultivation (e.g.: vineyard, olives, truffles), etc.
Oh you got to go and check the place out. More at the link and since it is a history blog link, it will have plenty of historical background to go with it. Yeah, history majors kick ass!
Finally, this is real cool: SEE IT: California scuba divers interact with octopus who tries to take camera – NY Daily News
Innit nature wonderful!
That is all I’ve got today, share your thoughts and links below.
Tonight is Homecoming night for the Panther’s so this is going to be a short cartoon post. First a couple of news links…
I thought this was interesting, since this is the show I sort of got the Friday Nite Lite title from: Friday Night Lights Creator Accuses Romney Of Plagiarism, Blasts His Politics
This next link is something I had been saving for a while. Italian bicycle sales ‘surpass those of cars’
Italians bought more bicycles than cars in 2011 for the first time in decades, according to local media reports.
Last year some 1.75 million bicycles were sold, about 2,000 more than the number of new cars registered, La Repubblica newspaper reported.
It attributed the change to a slump in car sales during the economic crisis and the rising price of petrol, as well as bikes coming back into fashion.
Car sales have slumped to the level at which they stood in 1964, it said
Which made me think of the amazing film, The Bicycle Thief…where a man’s bicycle is connected to his making a living.
Bicycle Thieves (Italian: Ladri di biciclette), also known as The Bicycle Thief, is director Vittorio De Sica’s 1948 film about a poor father searching post-World War II Rome for his stolen bicycle, without which he will lose the job which was to be the salvation of his young family.
Adapted for the screen by Cesare Zavattini from a novel by Luigi Bartolini, and starring Lamberto Maggiorani as the desperate father and Enzo Staiola as his plucky young son, Bicycle Thieves is one of the masterpieces of Italian neorealism. It received an Academy Honorary Award in 1950 and, just four years after its release, was deemed the greatest film of all time by Sight & Sound magazine’s poll of filmmakers and critics; fifty years later the same poll ranked it sixth among greatest-ever films. It is also one of the top 10 among the British Film Institute’s list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14.
That is what Wikipedia has to say, here is Rodger Ebert on the film: The Bicycle Thief / Bicycle Thieves :: rogerebert.com :: Great Movies
The Bicycle Thief / Bicycle Thieves (1949)
“The Bicycle Thief” is so well-entrenched as an official masterpiece that it is a little startling to visit it again after many years and realize that it is still alive and has strength and freshness.
You need to see this film, if you haven’t look online, they have the movie in full for free.
Okay, on with the cartoons.
Bagley is right about that, and did you see this?
Last year, when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett suggested offsetting college tuition fees by leasing parts of state-owned college campuses to natural gas drillers, more than a few Pennsylvanians were left blinking and rubbing their eyes. But it was no idle threat: After quietly moving through the state Senate and House, this week the governor signed into law a bill that opens up 14 of the state’s public universities to fracking, oil drilling, and coal mining on campus.
For a system starved by budget cuts, it’s an appetizing deal: The Indigenous Mineral Resources Development Act mandates that 50 percent of all fees and royalties from the mineral leases will be retained by the university where those minerals are mined, 35 percent will be distributed across the state system, and another 15 percent will go towards subsidizing student tuition.
Of course, those benefits don’t take into account externalized costs.“This has been a big giveaway by the state of Pennsylvania to drilling interests, and it’s at the expense of students and the public.”
Environmentalists and educators are concerned that fracking and other resource exploitation on campus could leave students directly exposed to harms like explosions, water contamination, and air pollution. They’re also worried oil and gas development would leave campuses ruined for future generations. It doesn’t help that Pennsylvania has a lousy regulation record, with a tally of violations that have increased more than fourfold since 2005. According to the PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center, Pennsylvania drilling companies racked up a total of 3,355 violations of environmental law between 2008 and 2011, 2,392 of which posed a direct threat to the environment and safety of communities. Meanwhile, in 2010, the state left 82,602 active wells go uninspected, more than all the active wells in New York and Ohio put together.
Considering that cartoonist is from Spain, and that today the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize, those mice are kind of funny! (I think it is safe to say we know who the cat is.)
I love that one…
Alright, this is an open thread, but y’all know that already…
But Romney was underplaying the reality of American life in 2012.
Corporations are not mere people. They have morphed into a Super Race, ready to conquer what’s left of our disintegrating democracy. If you think this is liberal hysteria or rank hyperbole, I give you Pennsylvania’s newly passed Act 13. Bad number. But the scope of this foolish and utterly destructive state giveaway is far worse.
Act 13 is a massive gift to the oil and gas companies, which overturn property rights, strips municipal communities of zoning law protection and turn environmental and health compromises into considerations we can no longer afford. It reduces the citizens of Pennsylvania to 3rd world colony status, ripe for exploitation and extraction. Welcome to the New World of Corporate Rule where natural gas extraction is the profitable prize and quality of life is a thing of the past.
And the reaction?
“Now I know what it feels like to live in Nigeria,” said recently retired Pittsburgh City Council President Doug Shields. “You’re basically a resource colony for multi-national corporations to take your natural resources, take them back to wherever they are at, add value to them, and then sell them back to you.”
Yup. This is the neoliberal dream. Steal, add value and then sell back at an exorbitant price tag. The whole world is nothing more than a resource colony so the corporate Super Race can turn a mind-boggling profit. On the backs of the natives. Water safety and/or depletion, health, wildlife? All expendable in this great push for growth and ever-increasing profit. Moral considerations? Please, haven’t you gotten the email? Corporations don’t do morality. They’re too big for that.
Why did this happen in Pennsylvania? Because of the enormous layer of shale deposits known as the Marcellus formation, resting like a slumbering giant beneath the state’s surface. But there’s more! That would be the gargantuan amount of natural gas to be had at a stunning profit—as much as 70-99% some managers of earlier drill wells have boasted.
How could investors resist?
But then, there are the rising concerns of the fracking process itself, the public’s growing awareness of water and air pollution, the niggling problem of toxic wastewater disposal and those bothersome legal suits from citizens with lame health issues.
What to do, what to do?
Act 13 is the perfect response to investor skittishness. It removes all complaint and whining by simply supplanting existing law—the kind that protects the citizen—with corporate friendly law that recognizes the global reality—everyone is for sale and everything can be exploited.
To keep tempers in check, the best PR in the world is dished out, promises of jobs and prosperity, spinning dialogues about energy independence [at any cost] and patriotic flag-waving—how tearing up the earth, polluting our waterways and compromising the public’s health is good for America. After all, in times of crisis, sacrifices need to be made, even when it means overriding the civil rights of people and communities.
That is exactly what Act 13 addresses.
Courts in the Great State of New York upholding community rights to block fracking dreams is simply unacceptable. Act 13 revokes those rights. The Lakota people in South Dakota blocking TransCanada truck transports across Native territory? We can’t have that. Act 13 clearly empowers a corporation to seize property that impacts any stage of the drilling process. And those possible health considerations? Got it covered, boys and girls. Act 13 prohibits physicians from discussing medical impacts from chemical contaminations. The Halliburton Loophole in all its malicious splendor comes back to haunt us.
This is what happens when corporations are declared ‘people.’ This is what happens when legislators sell their souls for 30 pieces of silver. I do not care if Republican Governor Corbett and his Republican dwarves truly believe this is good for Pennsylvania. This is a betrayal of American law and her people on a massive scale. The good citizens of Pennsylvania might look at the situation in Ohio, where Governor Kasich opened the state’s doors for business, any business, and Ohio became the dumping ground for fracking wastewater disposal and deep ground injection wells. We now know those earthquakes were not coincidental events. No wonder Republicans hate science!
Hattip to Alternet on this rant. I’d recommend reading the article ‘Fracking Democracy: Why Pennsylvania’s Act 13 May Be the Nation’s Worst Corporate Giveaway’ by Steven Rosenfeld in its entirety with the first link I provided. It’s a chilling, mind-blowing report.
Act 13 is expected to take effect on April 14th. We better pray [regardless of what state we live in] that the groups now amassing in Pennsylvania are able to halt or at least slow down this corporate monstrosity.
Because if not, we can say ‘adios’ to the shredded remnants of our Republic.
As for Pennsylvania? My heart goes out because I lived and worked in the state for over a dozen years and still have family in the area. The economy has been raked over the coals, so the promise of jobs and money injected into struggling municipalities and rural communities is a huge seduction. But we’ve seen this movie before. It does not end well. Here’s hoping that flesh and blood citizens get a chance to write a far better script for themselves and their future. Here’s hoping the rest of the country wakes up to what can only be called a corporate takeover.