Racism, Bigotry, Sexism…yeah we got that…open thread

50a459f492357e0eb38044c1bd5041d6Good Evening!

So much going on in the spy game that I thought I would just bring you up to date on some of the shit going on in the “hate” side of life, well… at least the ones that are getting a little play in the news lately.

There is a new report from Human Rights Watch about Greece and the increasing racism seen there. Greece: Abusive Crackdown on Migrants | Human Rights Watch

Police Sweeps, Invasive Searches, Arbitrary Detention

Athens police are conducting abusive stops and searches and have detained tens of thousands of people in a crackdown on irregular migration, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 52-page report, “Unwelcome Guests: Greek Police Abuses of Migrants in Athens,” documents frequent stops of people who appear to be foreigners, unjustified searches of their belongings, insults, and, in some cases, physical abuse. Many are detained for hours in police stations pending verification of their legal status.

“It’s cruelly ironic that the authorities named the sweeps Xenios Zeus, after the ancient Greek god of hospitality,” said Eva Cossé, a Greece specialist at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “In fact, Operation Xenios Zeus is anything but hospitable to migrants and asylum seekers, who are regularly stopped, searched, and detained just because of the way they look.”

Between August 2012, when Operation Xenios Zeus began, and February 2013, the police forcibly took almost 85,000 foreigners to police stations to verify their immigration status. No more than 6 percent were found to be in Greece unlawfully, suggesting the police are casting an extraordinarily wide net.

The report draws on dozens of interviews with people who have been subjected to at least one stop since Operation Xenios Zeus began. Many of those interviewed had a legal right to be in Greece at the time of the stops because they are asylum seekers, legal foreign residents, or Greeks of foreign origin.

Many said they felt they were stopped because of their physical characteristics and gave disturbing accounts of clear targeting on the basis of race or ethnicity.

For a review of the report and some other talking points you can take a look at two articles, one from RT.com and one from Voice of America:

‘All blacks out!’: Human Rights Watch condemns ‘racist’ Greek police — RT News

Rights Group Accuses Greece of ‘Abusive’ Crackdown on Migrants – Voice of America

Care2.com has a round-up of sorts: Bigotry Roundup: The 5 Worst Things Said or Done Yesterday | Care2 Causes

Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Reads: Light one up and make sure you inhale that full bodied “respiratory presence.”

Smoking Santa...who would want to light up after a long night delivering gifts, right?

Smoking Santa…who would want to light up after a long night delivering gifts, right?

Good Morning

Journalism, is this what it has come to?

Right-Wing Publication’s Outrageous Cigarette Review Sounds Just Like Tobacco Industry Talking Points

The right-leaning  Daily Caller recently launched an outrageous editorial series by author Patrick Howley. “Cigarette Reviews for the Uninitiated: 18 Brands in 18 Weeks” reads like a parody of tobacco industry talking points, or some pundit idea of an end-of-year joke column. But on close inspection, it appears to be quite real. The expressed purpose of the series is stated clearly: “It is our hope that the research conducted herein by official TheDC cigarette critic Patrick Howley will inform and educate the public, as well as aid tobacco companies in their forthcoming product designs.”

Can you believe it?

Thanks to the Daily Caller, this advertising doesn’t always need to be paid for. Here is Howley’s surprisingly similar description of Marlboro Red.

“We were all American men, with one shared set of values and one clear international enemy” … “the full thickness of the product” … “its macho reputation” … “this moment is most satisfactory, providing a warmth and respiratory presence so lacking from other cigarettes” …. “a thick and thorough brand, to be sure, but very pedestrian in its goals.”

Please, someone tell me it is a joke.

There is something nostalgic with the phrases Howley uses, makes me think of those smoking scenes in the movie All the President’s Men.

[after seeing Carl Bernstein light up a cigarette in an elevator]
Bob Woodward: Is there any place you *don’t* smoke?

There is something about smoking a cigarette while typing away on the typewriter keys…a bit old-fashioned these days. With text messages and twitter statuses in under 140 characters, some things are becoming obsolete.  Think about it, something as simple as paper documents…which brings me to this next link I have to share with you today also touches on those newspaper men working at the Washington Post:  Noting the History of the Paper Trail

Bob Peterson/Time Life Pictures, via Getty Images

Before the digital revolution, high stacks of office documents were common. They still are.

…Lisa Gitelman, a professor of English and media studies at New York University, there’s at least one aspect of Daniel Ellsberg’s leaking of top-secret Defense Department documents that scholars have failed to consider adequately: the Xerox technology that allowed him to copy them in the first place.

Actually, make that “copy and recopy.” In a chapter of her book in progress about the history of documents Ms. Gitelman describes the way Mr. Ellsberg obsessively made copies of his copies, even enlisting the help of his children in what she describes as an act of radical self-publishing.

“Even though we think of copying now as perfunctorily ripping something off, he was expressing himself by Xeroxing,” she said.

Gitelman is one of the historians of late that are practicing “paperwork studies.”

Ms. Gitelman’s argument may seem like an odd lens on familiar history. But it’s representative of an emerging body of work that might be called “paperwork studies.” True, there are not yet any dedicated journals or conferences. But in history, anthropology, literature and media studies departments and beyond, a group of loosely connected scholars are taking a fresh look at office memos, government documents and corporate records, not just for what they say but also for how they circulate and the sometimes unpredictable things they do.

There is a new book out called “The Demon of Writing” written by Ben Kafka, who has become an expert on “paperwork studies.” Be sure to read the rest of the story at that New York Times Book Review link above.

I love researching the old-fashioned way, it is an art form…at least I think so. Hours spent in libraries, sitting down on well-worn carpets, surrounded by stacks of musty books…how wonderful!

But I guess there are some advantages to technology in the classroom. High-tech classrooms in Australia reviving Aboriginal languages

In a high-school classroom in western Sydney, teacher Noeleen Lumby is asking her pupils to recall the Aboriginal name for animals that indigenous Wiradjuri people have used for hundreds of years.

As she holds up stuffed toys representing some of Australia’s native wildlife, including a kangaroo, an emu and a cockatoo, the class of about 25 — many from Vietnamese and Cambodian backgrounds — come to grips with the ancient tongue.

“I like this because you get to learn new skills and you can speak some indigenous language,” said 12-year-old Tien Nguyen.

Lumby, who oversees the students as they use their new knowledge to create projects on computers and iPads, is passionate about filling a gaping hole in Australian education — the study of Aboriginal languages.

Lumby feels it is best for students to learn Aboriginal culture as well as the language, I think it is marvelous. Lessons we should be taking note of here in this country. But then, obsolete languages along with musty books are things students today don’t appreciate. (I speak from first hand experience…both my kids are allergic to books and reading. Sad isn’t it?)

On to another article, this one is about movie making…and one of my favorite pictures that was released in 1980. From Vanity Fair: Making Blues Brothers With John Belushi and Dan Akroyd—“We Had a Budget for Cocaine” Written by Ned Zeman and Photos by Annie Leibovitz.

The pitch was simple: “John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Blues Brothers, how about it?” But the film The Blues Brothers became a nightmare for Universal Pictures, wildly off schedule and over budget, its fate hanging on the amount of cocaine Belushi consumed. From the 1973 meeting of two young comic geniuses in a Toronto bar through the careening, madcap production of John Landis’s 1980 movie, Ned Zeman chronicles the triumph of an obsession.

Enjoy that article, it is a long one.

Sigh, now I will give you some links to news stories that are trending this weekend.

BB sent me this link last night, so…another Hindu is mistaken for a muslim: Woman Is Held in Death of Man Pushed Onto Subway Tracks in Queens

Police are charging her with second-degree murder as a hate crime.

A woman has been arrested in connection to the ambush killing of two firefighters in Webster, NY. New York woman arrested in connection with murder of 2 firefighters

Frank Luntz is now a consultant for CBS News, GOP Pollster Frank Luntz: ‘I Don’t Think The NRA Is Listening’ To Americans’ Gun Violence Concerns

Latest on the cliff of doom: Congress leaders huddle in quest for ‘fiscal cliff’ compromise

India’s gang rape victim goes home:

Body of India rape victim arrives home in New Delhi

India’s ‘Two-Finger’ Test for Rape Needs to End, Experts Say

Indian women have made it to the tops of their professions in India. There’s been a female Indian president, women run multi-billion-dollar enterprises and Sonia Gandhi, president of the Congress party, is the most powerful politician in the country.

But on the peripheries of big cities and rural areas of the nation, women continue to fight for equal rights – and this is reflected in how authorities treat rape victims, human-rights groups say.

Human Rights Watch, in a report released Sunday in India, points to the so-called “two-finger test” as evidence of how India had failed to take rape seriously, often blaming women’s behavior for the offense.

In the test, which appears in Indian jurisprudence textbooks and is admissible in court, a doctor inserts two fingers into a women’s vagina to determine its laxity and whether the hymen is broken, signaling previous sexual activity.

The test perpetuates stereotypes of rape survivors as loose women and often is used by defense counsels to achieve acquittals, human-rights groups say.

Awful! I have avoided writing about this horrid case of gang rape and murder.

And here is the latest news out of Newtown: Claim seeks $100 million for child survivor of Connecticut school shooting

Now, just a few video clips of people lighting one up, or in the case of this first clip…lighting two up.

While watching Now Voyager with Bette Davis last night, I thought it is fabulous, those clothes…and those eyebrows on Davis when she is the dowdy spinster aunt.

No other cigarette smoking scene in history is as fabulous as this, except for maybe this one from To Have or Have Not:

Hey, speaking of Blues Brothers, fix the cigarette lighter:

No lighter? How about striking a match like Walter Neff in Double Indemnity:

…or the way De Niro takes a long drag in the film Goodfellas…

A few other scenes are mentioned in this 2005 article from The Guardian: I smoke, therefore I am

Can you think of any good movies without smoking in them? …If you discount historical films such as Barry Lyndon or Ben-Hur, a diet of non-smoking films would be almost unwatchable. But what would be most tragically lost are the great black-and-white smoking films of the 1940s – Casablanca, Now, Voyager, The Big Sleep – where wreaths of smoke are an essential and beautiful part of the cinematography, and where smoking quite clearly stands for sex. The Big Sleep (1946) opens with a title shot of two cigarettes smouldering in an ashtray that suggests more strongly than flesh scenes ever could that Bogart and Bacall are having an affair. And we learn a lot about the intimacy between Paul Henreid and Bette Davis in Now, Voyager from his habit of lighting two cigarettes at once and handing one to her. Cigarettes in movies are about far more than just whether the characters happen to have a nicotine addiction.

A-ha, starting and finishing this post with two articles on cigarettes…Journalism, there you are!

It is the last Sunday of the year, enjoy it and let us know what you are thinking about today…


The Art of Political Speak

If GOP strategist Frank Luntz is correct—The Republicans’ dilemma is all about language—then Republican candidates need a fast tutorial in word use.

Capitalism, for instance: a no-no word is number 1 on Luntz’s list of ‘Shall Nots.’

And so, The Eye of Newt’s attacks on Mitt Romney, specifically citing the immoral form of capitalism practiced by Bain Capital, how it destroys jobs, often leaving community wreckage in its wake, takes a “F” in the Frank Luntz speed course–Poisoned Words for Politicians, 101.

Free Enterprise is an acceptable phrase.  Better yet is Economic Freedom.

In an almost comical exchange between Luntz and Sean Hannity, the word-meister explained that:

The word capitalism was created by Karl Marx to demonize those people who make a profit. We’ve always talked about the free enterprise system or economic freedom.

Suddenly, they’re trying to defend something that has only 18 percent support.

OMG!  Not only are Republican candidates eating their own, but they’re using a word created by Karl Marx!  Call in the Commie Cops.  Call Phyllis Schlafly to resurrect Joe McCarthy and his goon squad.  If you want a true chuckle watch the following:

Need we mention that President Obama [of whom I’m no fan] is repeatedly referred to as a ‘socialist?’  Yet now we have Republican candidates using Marxist terms and doing what they insist Barack Obama has done: wage war against capitalism.

This is what happens when your political philosophy is sloppy and baseless, when the only attack you can muster is one both supporting and attacking your centerpiece idea: unfettered capitalism, free market fundamentalism, which leads to vulture, crony capitalism.

The kind we have right now.

Rick Perry jumped on the Gingrich bandwagon and defended his own Romney attacks as doing the frontrunner a favor by distinguishing venture capitalism from vulture capitalism.  Better to defend it now than later, the Texas word wrangler said.

Did you think Rick Perry read Greg Palast’s book Vultures’ Picnic?   I think not.

Not to be outdone by Rick Perry’s explanation, Uncle Newt offered a more startling explanation.

It’s an impossible theme [Mitt Romney’s business practices] to talk about with Obama in the background. Obama just makes it impossible to talk rationally in that area because he is so deeply into class warfare that automatically you get an echo effect.

Got that?  The Devil made Newtie backtrack, rethink his strategy.  Regrettably, it’s impossible to slam Mitt Romney with a clean conscience while Barack Obama is in the White House.

Oh, the unfairness of it all!

Just as a reminder: Uncle Newt is considered an intellectual in Republican circles!

Despite what the Newster says, his sudden reevaluation of Romney attacks could—just possibly—have something to do with the massive flack he’s received from conservative quarters.  Rush Limbaugh suggested Romney aim this barb at Gingrich over Mitt’s unfortunate ‘I like to fire people’ comment:

“Yeah, I like firing people, but I never fired a wife on her deathbed.”

Ooooo.  That hurts!

Even though I have no horse in this race, this is just too, too delicious.

If I were Frank Luntz, who made a specific point of listing the Ten Commandments of Political Speech in late November, I’d seriously consider demanding my wayward pupils stay after school to write 1000 times:

I will never use the word capitalism.  I will never say the word bonus.  And on my mother’s grave, I will never-ever utter the words: Wall Street.

The election of 2012 is stacking up to be a thing of true wonder.

Btw, did you know that Hillary Clinton received 10% of the New Hampshire vote, a write-in effort.  And yet, not a peep from the MSM.

I’m shocked, I tell you.  Positively shocked.