Holy Hell, Wednesday Afternoon

Today is Wednesday, and it is a day of most importance to all “Gawd Furrin'” good xtians in Banjoville….it is a day that you will find most businesses closed. Yup…can’t even get you a new confederate flag or a can of lighter fluid down at the Local Red KKK Convenient Store because Wednesday is a day of rest and reflection and prayer for bigoted racist in this quiet red-neck backwoods mountain town.

I wonder if the talk at church this evening will be about the historic moment from yesterday’s DNC in Philadelphia. Hillary Clinton: The First Lady to Become the Nominee – The Atlantic

In a historic moment, the Democratic Party formally nominated Hillary Clinton for president Tuesday, making her the first female nominee for the nation’s highest office in 240 years.

 

I am so grateful for Boston Boomer, for putting up a thread this morning…as you all may know, we are in the process of moving to a new house…and today we are moving the big items. So again this is an open thread. Here are a few links to get you started:

Here is the transcript of the speech last night by Bill Clinton. I didn’t even get a chance to see it. We cannot even get satellite service here…the new house is that far into the mountains that the trees block all line of sight to the satellites above! From what I understand, it was a knockout:

Transcript: Bill Clinton’s DNC speech – CNNPolitics.com

And next, a few links on Trump:

Trump Says Russia Will Be ‘Rewarded’ For Hack, But Pence Promises ‘Serious Consequences’ | Mediaite

In a bit of mixed messaging,Donald Trump promised mighty rewards to Russia in exchange for interfering in the election, while his VP pick promised “serious consequences.”

At a press conference Wednesday morning Trump encouraged Russia to release State Department emails in order to injure Hillary Clinton‘s campaign. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” he said.

Shortly afterward, his Vice Presidential nominee, Indian Gov. Mike Pence issued a statement saying that, rather than rewards, there would be “serious consequences” to Russia if it was behind the hack of the DNC emails released to the public last Friday. (Expertsbelieve that Russia is responsible.)

Pence’s statement reads in full:

The FBI will get to the bottom of who is behind the hacking. If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences. That said, the Democrats singularly focusing on who might be behind it and not addressing the basic fact that they’ve been exposed as a party who not only rigs the government, but rigs elections while literally accepting cash for federal appointments is outrageous. The American people now have absolute and further proof of the corruption that exists around Hillary Clinton. It should disqualify her from office, if the media did their job. [emphasis added]

Not backing down, Trump tweeted, “If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!”

Shakesville: What Donald Trump Just Did Is Tantamount to Treason

At a press conference earlier today, Donald Trump said: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the thirty thousand emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens.”

Holy fuck!

To put that in perspective…take a look at this headline:

Donald Trump To Begin Getting Intelligence Briefings : NPR

Now, let all that sink in a bit, and tell me if you don’t feel ill right about now.

More links to ponder:

From Wonkette: Donald Trump Wishes Democrats Would Maybe Use Some Patriotic Imagery, The Commies

Cheering crowds greet Pope as he arrives in Krakow – BBC News

Pope Francis calls for solidarity with refugees during speech in Kraków | World news | The Guardian

Column: What we need to do to prevent food shortages on a global scale | PBS NewsHour

Hey, It Was Hard Not to Cry at This Historic DNC — Vulture

The glass ceiling: a metaphor that needs to be smashed | US news | The Guardian

I hope everyone has a smashing afternoon!


Sunday Reads: B-52 Bomber, Sean Penn and El Chapo

Hello and good afternoon.

 

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 01/09/2016 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

 

This post will be a combination of cartoons and links. On Friday night my mom and I had a bout of food poisoning…and I was in no condition for putting up a cartoon thread that evening.

So sit back and take it in, here are your Sunday Links:

It sounds like a Hollywood movie:

Sean Penn reveals interview with fugitive drug baron El Chapo | World news | The Guardian

Actor and activist Sean Penn turned gonzo journalist and got an interview with the world’s most wanted man, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, just after the Mexican drug baron escaped from a maximum-security prison, it has emerged.

At his hideouts in the impenetrable hills of western Mexico, Guzmán told the Hollywood star about his drugs business, rags-to-riches life story and how he hired European engineers to help him to slip out of the prison.

Mexican authorities claim they monitored Penn’s movements after they found out about his meeting with Guzmán in October and that helped lead them to a ranch where El Chapo was staying.

Guzmán, fresh from his escape through anexpertly engineered tunnel, told Penn in a seven-hour visit and follow-up video for an article published in Rolling Stone: “I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world … I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.”

There is plenty of articles on this story…

01/08/2016 Cartoon by David Horsey

Cartoon by David Horsey -

The main thrust of the juicy tidbits comes from Rolling Stone, which broke the video interviews of Penn and El Chapo:

El Chapo Speaks | Rolling Stone

(By line is Sean Penn btw…)

Disclosure: Some names have had
 to be changed, locations not named, and an understanding was brokered with the subject that this piece would be submitted for the subject’s approval before publication. The subject did not ask for any changes.

“The laws of conscience, which we pretend to be derived from nature, proceed from custom.” —Montaigne

It’s September 28th, 2015. My head is swimming, labeling TracPhones (burners), one per contact, one per day, destroy, burn, buy, balancing levels of encryption, mirroring through Blackphones, anonymous e-mail addresses, unsent messages accessed in draft form. It’s a clandestine horror show for the single most technologically illiterate man left standing. At 55 years old, I’ve never learned to use a laptop. Do they still make laptops? No fucking idea! It’s 4:00 in the afternoon. Another gorgeous fall day in New York City. The streets are abuzz with the lights and sirens of diplomatic movement, heads of state, U.N. officials, Secret Service details, the NYPD. It’s the week of the U.N. General Assembly. Pope Francis blazed a trail and left town two days before. I’m sitting in my room at the St. Regis Hotel with my colleague and brother in arms, Espinoza.

 

It already reads like a pitch for a film…but please continue…

Espinoza and I have traveled many roads together, but none as unpredictable as the one we are now approaching. Espinoza is the owl who flies among falcons. Whether he’s standing in the midst of a slum, a jungle or a battlefield, his idiosyncratic elegance, mischievous smile and self-effacing charm have a way of defusing threat. His bald head demands your attention to his twinkling eyes. He’s a man fascinated and engaged. We whisper to each other in code. Finally a respite from the cyber technology that’s been sizzling my brain and soul. We sit within quietude of fortified walls that are old New York hotel construction, when walls were walls, and telephones were usable without a Ph.D. We quietly make our plans, sensitive to the paradox that also in our hotel is President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico. Espinoza and I leave the room to get outside the hotel, breathe in the fall air and walk the five blocks to a Japanese restaurant, where we’ll meet up with our colleague El Alto Garcia. As we exit onto 55th Street, the sidewalk is lined with the armored SUVs that will transport the president of Mexico to the General Assembly. Paradoxical indeed, as one among his detail asks if I will take a selfie with him. Flash frame: myself and a six-foot, ear-pieced Mexican security operator.

Flash frame: Why is this a paradox? It’s paradoxical because today’s

 

Oh yeah…voice over commanding language like, “the owl who flies with falcons” and don’t forget the flash frame shot directions…definitely screenplay material.

Video tease here:

Watch Two Minutes of El Chapo’s Exclusive Interview | Rolling Stone

Sean Penn, who tracked down the fugitive kingpin, sent questions; Chapo videotaped his responses in his first-ever interview.

Okay, seriously though…the other links are interesting, I just can’t help laughing like hell at the Penn article.

(A note here, these articles are older, from 2011 and mid 2015)

A Timeline of El Chapo’s Close Calls and Narrow Escapes | Rolling Stone

Mexican drug kingpin once came so close to being caught that his coffee was reportedly still warm when authorities arrived

How the Cartels Work | Rolling Stone

Mexican drug lords have transformed the narcotics trade in America — and the DEA appears powerless to stop them

 

Obamacare Repeal Vote: 01/08/2016 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - Obamacare Repeal Vote

‘El Chapo’: Sean Penn interview provokes scorn in US – BBC News

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told CNN: “One thing I will tell you is that this braggadocious action about how much heroin he sends around the world, including the United States, is maddening.

“We see a heroin epidemic, an opioid addiction epidemic, in this country… But El Chapo’s behind bars – that’s where he should stay.”

The Mexican authorities are reported to be considering whether to investigate Penn and a Mexican actress, Kate del Castillo, who apparently arranged the interview.

Mr McDonough declined to answer a question about whether the US would hand Penn over to Mexico for questioning.

“Well, it poses a lot of very interesting questions both for him and for others involved in this-so-called interview, so we’ll see what happens on that – I’m not going to get ahead of it,” he said.

Mr Rubio told ABC: “If one of these American actors who have benefited from the greatness of this country, who have made money from our free enterprise system, want to go fawn all over a criminal and a drug trafficker in their interviews, they have a constitutional right to do it. I find it grotesque.”

 

01/08/2016 Cartoon by Chan Lowe

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

 

This may be the best way to review the Sean Penn article:

5 craziest moments in Sean Penn’s El Chapo Rolling Stone story – Salon.com

“A secret visit with the most wanted man in the world” reads like an Elmore Leonard novel come to life

Saturday night, Rolling Stone published a story written by actor Sean Penn about his efforts to interview notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera — known as El Chapo — that apparently contributed to El Chapo’s arrest last week, following his tunneling-out escape from Altiplano prison last summer. It’s a wild tale of Hollywood connections, jungle hide-outs, military shoot-outs and BlackBerry messaging.

“Sean Penn interview led authorities to El Chapo” might already be the strangest headline of 2016 — but the story gets even stranger from there. This entire caper reads like a chapter from a lost Elmore Leonard novel.

 

Go check that out…

 

 

01/07/2016 Cartoon by Chan Lowe

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

 

Trump urged to apologise to Muslim protester ejected from rally – BBC News

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has urged Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump to apologise to a Muslim protester ejected from one of his rallies.

CAIR said Rose Hamid’s eviction from the rally in South Carolina sent a “chilling message to American Muslims”.

Ms Hamid was removed after making a silent protest on Friday.

Mr Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the US has been widely condemned.

During the rally in the town of Rock Hill, Ms Hamid stood up wearing a T-shirt bearing the words: “Salam, I come in peace” – “Salam” is the Arabic word for peace.

When she stood up, the crowd around her began chanting “Trump! Trump!” as they had reportedly been instructed to do in the event of any interruption, reports the BBC’s Anthony Zurcher from Rock Hill.

Ms Hamid, a 56-year-old flight attendant, was then told by a security officer that she had to leave. She was booed as she was escorted out.

CAIR said that as well as apologising to Ms Hamid, Mr Trump should “make a clear statement that American Muslims are welcome as fellow citizens and as participants in the nation’s political process”.

No response from Trump.

 

LIFE IS SACRED: 01/07/2016 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - LIFE IS SACRED

The latest shit out of the mouth of a fuckwad: via cnsnews . com… Rep. Chris Smith: ‘Planned Parenthood Dismembers or Chemically Poisons a Baby to Death Every 2 Minutes’

Rep. Chris Smith, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Global Human Rights, said on the House floor on Wednesday that Planned Parenthood is “Child Abuse, Incorporated,” and that the group “dismembers or chemically poisons a baby to death every 2 minutes.”

What an embarrassment, he chairs the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Global Human Rights?

The crap spewed. That is a right-wing link so you can look up the title at the site if you must.

This is the actual quote:

Here is the transcript of Rep. Smith’s floor speech:

“Subsidized by over $500 million taxpayer dollars each year, Planned Parenthood dismembers or chemically poisons a baby to death every 2 minutes, killing over 7 million innocent children since 1973.

“Planned Parenthood is Child Abuse, Incorporated. Now undercover videos have exposed in numbing candor several high-level Planned Parenthood leaders gleefully talking about procuring children’s internal organs for a price, all while altering gruesome dismemberment procedures to preserve intact livers, hearts, and lungs from freshly killed babies.

“Far too many politicians, Mr. Speaker, including our Nobel Peace Prizewinning president and much of the media, continue to ignore, trivialize, and even defend these gross human rights abuses.

“So know this: We will not be deterred in exposing this Planned Parenthood scandal no matter how aggressive and misleading the cover-up.

“End taxpayer funding to those who commit these cruel and inhumane acts in this subsidy for Planned Parenthood.

Fucking hell!

What about the real human rights violations that have gone on in this country, specifically in a town called Flint:

Flint’s Water Crisis Is a Human Rights Violation | Al Jazeera America

On Jan. 5, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint and Genesee County, where lead in the area’s drinking water has been showing up at toxic levels in the bloodstreams of children. The water became toxic because of a decision by the government Snyder runs.

In 2014 the city of Flint’s emergency manager, appointed by the state, ordered that the city stop drawing water from Lake Huron and start taking it from the Flint River. However, the river’s corrosive waters stripped lead from the water system’s pipes, contaminating the drinking water. Though the city has switched back to drawing water from Lake Huron, the local water still contains dangerous levels of lead, and local officials are handing out water filters as they try to come up with a solution.

This emergency goes beyond simply a public health problem. (Lead is a potent neurotoxin, which can cause irreversible brain damage in children.) It is something much worse: a human rights abuse in an American city. In 2010, the United Nations declared that “ … clean drinking water … [is] essential to the realization of all human rights.” Flint’s contaminated water will prevent children from realizing their human right to health, enumerated in Article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Had these basic human rights factored into the decision to switch Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River, Flint’s children might never have been exposed to tainted water. What’s worse, new reports say Snyder’s office found out about the contaminated water and did nothing. For as little as $100 per day the state of Michigan could have treated the water and prevented the life-long suffering that the children of Flint are now going to experience, but instead it prioritized fiscal savings over the health and human rights of children.

Once again, Rep Smith illustrates the perfect example of PLUB….Pro-Life-Until-Birth mentally. GOP pro-life basturds only care for the precious “life” before it pops out of the mother. After that point when it is an actual living person, they don’t give a flying fuck.

 

01/07/2016 Cartoon by Randy Bish

Cartoon by Randy Bish -

Case in point: LA-area residents implore officials to approve plan to mitigate gas leak | Reuters

 

At least it is starting to get more press…

 

01/06/2016 Cartoon by Randy Bish

Cartoon by Randy Bish -

Did y’all see this?

Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof running for Nevada senate – NY Daily News

It really is becoming a world like Idiocracy.

 

 

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Kim Jong-un’s ally: 01/07/2016 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: Kim Jong-un's ally

On the other side of the globe, a show of old cold war tactics has been making headlines overnight.

US deploys B-52 bomber after North Korea’s nuclear test – Al Jazeera English

US bomber flies over South Korea amid standoff over North Korea nuclear tests | World news | The Guardian

U.S. flies B-52 over South Korea after North’s nuclear test | Reuters

 

A U.S. Air Force B-52 (C) flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A U.S. Air Force B-52 (C) flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A U.S. Air Force B-52 (R) flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A U.S. Air Force B-52 (R) flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

 

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Oregon Yeehawdists: 01/06/2016 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: Oregon Yeehawdists

 

In Middle Eastern news:

US releases video of Iran firing unguided rockets close to aircraft carrier | US news | The Guardian

and finally:

Deal struck for aid to reach besieged Syrian towns – Al Jazeera English

And in Spain:

Catalan separatists to form regional government after president steps aside | World news | The Guardian

 

01/08/2016 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

 

This is a big story, Over 200 Members of German Choir Were Abused, Investigator Says – The New York Times

At least 231 children who sang in a boys’ choir led for 30 years by the brother of former Pope Benedict XVIwere abused over a period of almost four decades, a lawyer investigating reports of wrongdoing said Friday.

The lawyer, Ulrich Weber, who was commissioned by the choir to look into accusations of beatings, torture or sexual abuse, said he thought that the actual abuse was even more widespread.

At a news conference in Regensburg, Bavaria, where the choir traces its roots to the year 975, Mr. Weber estimated that from 1953 to 1992, every third member of the choir and an attached school suffered some kind of physical abuse.

He attributed the beatings and other mistreatment mostly to Johann Meier, director of a lower school attached to the choir from 1953 until his retirement in 1992. Mr. Meier died suddenly later that year, Mr. Weber said. A 1987 investigation of reported abuse did not prompt the choir’s leaders to remove Mr. Meier or take other action, the lawyer said.

Asked whether Benedict’s brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, who conducted the Regensburg choir from 1964 to 1994, had known of the abuse, Mr. Weber said, “After my research, I must assume so.”

Those Fuckers!

 

MILITIA SNACKS: 01/08/2016 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - MILITIA SNACKS

 

For a few updates on the militia nuts:

Ranchers’ Cause, Not Tactics, Gains Support in GOP Circles – ABC News

Republicans have widely condemned the efforts by a group of armed ranchers to reclaim federal land in eastern Oregon, but the ranchers’ goal of taking back some of Washington’s vast holdings in the West has gained traction in the GOP.

The decades-old idea could garner even more momentum should the party recapture theWhite House this year.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has proposed preventing the federal government from owning more than 50 percent of the land in any state, which would require changes, for example, in Alaska, Nevada and other western states.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has backed legislation to give states the ability to develop energy resources on federal land and told the Des Moines Register editorial board that “the federal government owns far too much land” in the West.

Both senators backed an amendment offered by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski last year that would make it easier for federal land to be returned to state control.

Experts: ‘Militiamen’ Live Hand To Mouth On Gov’t Disability And Their Wives’ Hard Work «

Jon Ritzheimer, infamous right-wing terrorist and incredible douchebag, barely squeaks by on his government disability check and has said that he is “thankful to have a wife who works.” As it turns out, experts tell us that this guy who spends his days fighting imaginary battles and sucking up a good man’s oxygen isn’t the exception to the demographics that make up a right-wing terrorist militia, he’s the definition.

“These guys are broke,” said Mark Pitcavage, who has been researching far-right movements for 22 years and has studied the Harney County occupiers. “Right-wing extremists, generally speaking, have very little money.”

How a right-wing extremist occupation like the one in Oregon would pay for itself isn’t exactly an issue there’s been a lot of data on. By referencing the research of people like Pitcavage, we can deduce that right-wing extremists are for the most part freeloaders, likened to teenagers who think they can take care of themselves but overwhelmed the first time they have to pay a bill or do a load of laundry.

“It’s quite possible that a lot of them will get tired and feel the pressure to go back and care for their families,” Pitcavage explained. Those families, left behind to care for themselves, are probably better off without their “patriarch,” the almighty man who controls everything and can make the decision to just pack up and leave on a whim to occupy a forest a thousand miles away that they’ve never heard of before last week.

Daryl Johnson, a former DHS domestic terrorism analyst, says militia members have a warped sense of priority where their “duty” is concerned. A video released by Ritzheimer showed him crying that he would probably be killed and how much he would miss his family just before he held up a copy of the Constitution and declared “But…I took an oath.”

“They’ll think nothing about taking half their paycheck and using half of it to buy ammunition and guns,” Johnson told The Oregonian.

The gist here is that these idiots aren’t just the worst the American gene pool has to offer, they’re also incredible assholes who are neglecting their families to go play soldier in the Oregon wilderness. They’re holed up in a facility they didn’t pay to be at, squeezing the taxpayer for their utilities and costing tens if not hundreds of thousands more in wages paid to employees who can’t go to work.

01/10/2016 Cartoon by Randy Bish

Cartoon by Randy Bish -

 

Zandar Versus The Stupid: Last Call For Here We Go Again, Day 7

The Bundy seditionists’ call for backup has been heeded by one of the more nasty armed insurrection/white supremacist groups out there, Idaho’s “Three Percent” movement.

Members of a group from outside Oregon arrived on Friday at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to “secure a perimeter” around the compound and prevent “a Waco-style situation.”

The arrival of the “3% of Idaho” was the latest development in the situation outside Burns, where an armed occupation of the refuge by an Ammon Bundy-led militant group entered its seventh day.

“They just keep an eye on everything that is going on” to make sure “nothing stupid happens,” Bundy said Friday afternoon outside refuge headquarters.

“If they weren’t here,” Bundy said, referring to the Idaho group, “I’d worry” about a Waco-style siege by federal officials.

The group’s website says it stands for “freedom, liberty and the Constitution. We will combat all those who are corrupt.” The website displays the motto, “When Tyranny Becomes Law, Rebellion Becomes Duty!”

As Dave Neiwert reminds us, these assholes are pretty deep into Islamophobia and armed insurrection.  They marched against settling Syrian refugees in Twin Falls, Idaho in October and again in Boise in November and the real danger is of course these jagoffs are national.

The Idaho group is only the local affiliate of a broader (though hardly numerous) national movement that takes its name from the notion that only 3 percent of the people living in the colonies took part in the American Revolution – thus, the name is intended to invoke the would-be combatants in a “second American Revolution,” as its proponents like to proclaim.

The movement is largely the brainchild of Michael Vanderboegh, the onetime militiaman who in recent years has been specializing in incendiary rhetoric supporting the notion that any attempts at federal gun control will spark a new civil war, or better yet, a new revolution.

As Boston Boomer noted yesterday, these dudes are using the internet and gaining access to federal employee records…when the hell is this going to end. Like the cartoon above, if the men were any color but white, you know it would have been over long ago.

0108mike luckovich: tears | Mike Luckovich

lk010816_color

 

From the freak department:

Idaho mountain lion deformity puzzles biologists – CBS News

This Dec. 30, 2015, photo released by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), shows a deformed mountain lion with teeth growing out of its forehead. Biologists are trying to determine what caused the strange growth on the animal, which was legally killed by a hunter in southeast Idaho near the Utah border.

IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME VIA AP

 

State wildlife biologists have been left puzzled over a mountain lion found with teeth growing out the side of its forehead in southeast Idaho near the Utah border.

CBS affiliate KBOI reports an unidentified hunter caught the yearling cougar last week near Weston. Idaho Fish and Game biologists say they’ve never seen such a “bizarre” abnormality before.

[…]

Biologist Zach Lockyer says the teeth were protruding from hard tissue on the left side of the mountain lion’s forehead.

Biologists speculate the animal’s deformity may possibly be the result of either a conjoined twin that died in the womb or a rare tumor. Another possibility is ateratoma tumor, which are tumors that allow teeth, hair, fingers and toes to grow, and are incredibly rare in humans and animals.

Could it be a sign…since those Idaho assholes have joined the Oregon dumbfarts in the “standoff”?

I don’t know. But if there ever was a symbol of a giant fucked up threat against peace…to me it sure would be some freakish deformed mountain lion from Idaho with nasty teeth protruding from the animals forehead.

Bad omen if you ask me.

 

 

 

 

Since the Thin Man was mentioned last week, I thought might as well give you all a Tired Old Queen video link….enjoy:

STEVE HAYES: Tired Old Queen at the Movies – THE THIN MAN & AFTER THE THIN MAN – YouTube

 

And a bonus too:

STEVE HAYES: Tired Old Queen at the Movies – THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL – YouTube

 

This is an open thread…


Sunday Reads: “Passing prejudice off as faith” and other thoughts from the “internets” and shi…stuff.

fb_thumb_56543df80f712__700

 

Good Morning

Hey….
Since When Did Scapegoating and Taking Revenge Become American and Christian Principles?

I know I am beating a dead horse here, albeit a corn-fed…free-range horse at that…but this piece from David Mochel at HuffPo is coming from the direction I have been speaking of the past few weeks.

2b18613ea30f9abdce2951f8a69a7680I do not consider myself religious in any traditional sense, nor would I say that I am deeply patriotic, but I am tired of “American” and “Christian” being used as descriptors of what is happening in the popular discourse.

I am tired of letting the loudest among us be those who call for un-American behavior in the name of patriotism. I am tired of letting the dialogue be monopolized by those who pass off prejudice as faith. Compassion matters. Dignity matters. Exercising self-discipline when we are scared and angry matters.

Human beings are biological creatures with lots of biological impulses. But we also have the capacity to see beyond our temporary urges for violence and oppression. We have the ability to anchor ourselves in, and act out of, enduring and inspiring principles. If we do not use the wisdom we have access to, then what exactly makes us human?

75df5a8d5388d6bd7bae07c2e3bb48ecThis feels like a moment in time when we are collectively trying to decide how to move forward. In the face of terrorist attacks, racial tension and conflicting world views, where shall we go for guidance? Shall we just go with what we feel and call it what we want? Shall we lash out and call it Christian? Shall we segregate and call it American? Or shall we consult some principles that were written down precisely so that we would remember them in times such as these?

The second paragraph of the Declaration of the Independence begins with these words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

3096f48b0de03236fc30f4b81af29d8fThe Constitution of the United States begins with these words:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

A plaque mounted on the base of the Statue of Liberty carries these lines from a poem by Emma Lazarus:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

3df58d98847161880eae5fa7149a5ffcEvery morning my son stands up in his public high school classroom and recites The Pledge of Allegiance, which ends with the words: “with liberty and justice for all.”

He also goes on to quote from the prayer of St. Francis and New Testament, only to ask…

 

What am I missing? Where is written that we should block access, imprison, blame and malign those who we do not understand, who look different, or who live outside our borders? Does being American or Christian represent any fundamental principles or are these nothing more than titles that we get simply by living in this country and going to a fancy building on Sunday?

9e9ca4589d8015fc89e2db0e4aaa7196I propose that these words which are thrown around quite a lot lately actually do stand for something. I propose that the privileges of living in this country come with the responsibilities of being inclusive, of speaking for those without a voice and representing the rights of those who are denied access. I propose that the privileges of being Christian come with the responsibilities of showing compassion and generosity for those in need and mercy toward those who have offended.

Uncertainty can trigger anxiety and self-defensiveness. We can respond by being reactionary, rigid, and exclusive. But this is not our only choice. We also have the choice of compassion, inclusivity, and peaceful resistance.

Of course, it is challenging to make this choice in the face of senseless violence and vehement disagreement. Standing for something worthwhile is rarely easy.

No it isn’t easy, and to quote someone who seems a bit strange to quote in this discussion…as “Dubya” said so often, “It’s hard work!”

I will get to the Planned Parenthood Shooting in a few moments, but in response to the link above, remember, these people are fleeing…the murder and terror. They are refugees.  Six children drown as refugee boats sink off Turkey – Al Jazeera English

More than 4,700 people arrived on the Greek islands on average each day in November [AP Photo/Santi Palacios]

More than 4,700 people arrived on the Greek islands on average each day in November [AP Photo/Santi Palacios]

At least six children have drowned in two separate incidents when boats carrying refugees to Greece sank off Turkey’s coast, Turkish state media has said.

6d5154d04575aed9d535859e56a409f3A vessel carrying 55 Syrians and Afghans capsized due to bad weather off the town of Ayvacik, a main crossing point for refugees trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos, the Anatolia news agency reported on Friday.

Turkish coastguards have so far recovered the bodies of four Afghan children, it added.

Two more children, two sisters aged four and one, drowned early on Friday when their wooden boat carrying some 20 people to the island of Kos sank because of heavy rains and stormy weather, the agency said.

577f306ac5690aaaf6476588ce2c0978Turkey, which is hosting 2.2 million refugees from the conflict in neighbouring Syria, has become the main transit point for people fleeing war.

The European Union and Turkey have agreed in principle to a refugee action plan, which is expected to be finalised at a summit on Sunday.

 

I will put up some links in the comments on the details of this summit, but take a look at that link for a little info on it, there is also more discussion here:

EU, Turkey driving hard bargain before migration summit | Reuters

2693ddb551921f78845472c5bc6902f1Turkey and the EU: Old Routine and New Tensions – Carnegie Europe – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Our View: Cyprus will not be able to call the shots in Brussels – Cyprus Mail Cyprus Mail

And two links from Irish Times:

EU-Turkey summit aims to tackle refugee crisis

Give Me a Crash Course In . . . Turkish-Russian-Syrian relations

For a video look into the refugee experience via Al Jazeera English: Why on earth would anyone do this?

Follow the journeys of three refugees who are risking everything in hopes of reaching Europe.

 

Why on earth would anyone do this 2

Why on earth would anyone do this

 

That title alone is sufficient enough to give you a picture of what the video is about.

Meanwhile back in the United States:

The question of Life is back in the news…

I think it must be said again:

 

Life begins at arousal!!!!

And to hell with fluoridation in water systems!

Who needs the “guvment” anyway?

d3367e609123f3ae4ccaaae429496f64As of Saturday evening: 2016 Republican Contenders Silent On Planned Parenthood Shooting

Republican presidential hopefuls were noticeably silent about a fatal shooting that took place at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.

All three of their Democratic counterparts tweeted in support of the organization during and after Friday’s attack, which left three people dead and nine others injured.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was the only one of the major GOP candidates to comment:

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul instead tweeted about his own Black Friday sales:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush published an opinion piece about Obama’s foreign policy:

Donald Trump spent the evening (and Saturday morning) touting upcoming campaign eventsand complaining about a New York Times reporter.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted about his campaign’s new cold-weather gear:

Ben Carson was off Twitter and in Jordan visiting a refugee camp.

b9a6174d5a66c20ed7efd16f0dec9f36All of the major 2016 Republican hopefuls describe themselves as anti-abortion. Some, like Paul, Rubio and Cruz, have attempted to strip federal funding for Planned Parenthood, citing heavily edited videos that emerged earlier this year claiming to show the nonprofit’s employees selling fetal tissue for profit. A congressional inquiry into the videos did not find any evidence of wrongdoing.

Earlier this year, Rubio wondered why more Americans don’t get “fired up” about Planned Parenthood’s “dead babies.”

Ted Cruz breaks silence on ‘horrific’ Planned Parenthood attack | US news | The Guardian

3019096934_1123b97702_mSpeaking in Lamoni, Iowa, Cruz said that while the motives behind Friday’s attack were not clear “it was unacceptable, horrific and wrong”.

“We know that police officers and civilians have been targeted and lost their lives and our prayers are right now are with the families,” Cruz said.

Many of the party’s candidates have come out strongly against Planned Parenthood on the campaign trail as they seek to secure conservative votes.

 

2a0a3941b8ebf09d849bbed81b380f90No More Mister Nice Blog: REPUBLICANS HATE WHAT THEY HATE MUCH MORE THAN THEY LOVE WHAT THEY LOVE

Republican presidential candidates still haven’t said anything about the Colorado Planned Parenthood shootings, with the exception of Ted Cruz (in a tweet, as I noted in my last post) and now John Kasich:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is the other GOP contender to discuss the attacks, offering his prayers for the affected families and saying “senseless violence has brought tragedy to Colorado Springs.”

This seems odd:

Republicans hate abortion and hate Planned Parenthood. They hate gun control, and 1e961bd32d777bfe32c762742f555dddthe shooting has already led to another call for new gun laws by President Obama. These hatreds are much more important to the right than love of the police, even when the dead police officer was also a Christian minister. In this case, blue lives don’t matter, and this wasn’t part of the war on Christianity. The killer wasn’t a member of any group conservatives hate, and his main target was a group conservatives absolutely hate.

So hate wins. Therefore, the right is never going to denounce this incident with any enthusiasm.

The Democrats did tweet there thoughts: 2016 Democrats React To Planned Parenthood Shooting

As usual, Hillary is on top of it…check out the time of her post.

121ae2a4c88a6961f479940c0ec9312bI wonder…what was tweeted after the news of this: Man Kills Waffle House Worker Over Smoking Ban, Cops Say

Johnny Max Mount, 45, was allegedly smoking in a Biloxi Waffle House when the 52-year-old employee  asked him to put it out, according to the Sun Herald. Mount is accused of refusing and instead removing a 9mm handgun hidden under his shirt, WMC reports. Police allege he shot the woman, who has not yet been identified, once in the head early Friday morning. She was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

8f5d58501d1f843f6451038c11deb647Mount was arrested for first degree murder, and is in jail on 2 million bond.

Back to the Planned Parenthood Shooting:

Siege highlights security used in abortion clinics | Tampa Bay Times

‘No More Baby Parts’: Shooter’s Words Prove Right-Wing Rhetoric Incited PP Attack « Addicting Info

Investigators: Shooter ‘politically motivated’ – Business Insider

c03f6957ed6c26c4c8318078b48cf218Colorado shooting suspect said ‘no more baby parts’: reports | Reuters

TBogg at Raw Story: Domestic terrorism and the evil that men do

at happened at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood on the Friday after Thanksgiving was inevitable. After the deceptively-named Center for Medical Progress released the equally deceptively-edited videos accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale of fetal parts, someone had to die in the end.

75fc5c8507449411816e44cc7869b9c0Of all the phony attacks and accusations made against Planned Parenthood by a new generation of anti-choice activists like James O’ Keefe and Lila Grace Rose, the videos created by former O’Keefe confederate David Daleiden raised the bar — or lowered it depending on how you view them — on over the top accusations intended to fire up Christian conservatives and embolden lawmakers to do all they can to destroy Planned Parenthood.

Images of fetal tissue being sorted by technicians became a bloody flag to be waved by people who seem to believe that medical procedures are magically free of the kind of things most people are unfamiliar with because they’re not medical professionals who are undeterred by the sight of body fluids, viscera and bones. Those who view abortions as a repellent medical procedure became even more appalled by seeing people who deal with such matters on a daily basis act like … people who deal with such matters on a daily basis.

17af87ffde3b553d168bad4876b9875cWhere Daleiden really hit one out of the park for the anti-choice crowd was when he accused Planned Parenthood of selling  fetal tissue — used by researchers looking for cures for Alzheimer’s, among other things — and making a profit off of it.

Which turned out to be a lie.

[…]

On a certain level — with the aid of the media which uncritically ran with his narrative — Daleiden was more than modestly successful. Republican lawmakers in conservative states were able to cut some funding for Planned Parenthood, while GOP presidential candidates had yet something else to grandstand about in order to woo the evangelical base.

772e93db60bfcf3f0c3812cd8e804d9eWith so much heat thrown off by Daleiden’s anti-abortion project, it is no surprise — and it absolutely cannot be to him — that someone somewhere would take his lies to the extreme and try and do something about it. With extreme prejudice.

According to NBC, Robert Lewis Dear — who killed three people including a cop,making him a hero to these “pro-life” folks while shooting up a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood — reportedly told investigators “no more baby parts” after he was arrested.

As they say: Who could have predicted that?

f46f1001c2cec742b81a2cefa9e1ff92There is nothing anyone here can say, we all saw this shit coming.

To all appearances, Dear appears to be either mentally unstable or an anti-social kook who, despite a history of run-ins with the law including domestic violence, was able to easily obtain a gun or guns. For that you can thank the NRA later.

There is no indication that Dear was or is religious, but a predisposition to being either anti-choice or anti-woman certainly was a factor.

Unlike Scott Roeder, who murdered Dr. George Tiller in a Wichita church,  one needn’t act as the hand of God taking holy vengeance to “save the children.” You just need a motive –imagined or not — to pull the trigger.

5c0659ab4b11f48c781ac85dcc5cf4bfSo it appears that Robert Lewis Dear shot up a Planned Parenthood because he was familiar with David Daleiden’s videotape lies. This is not to say that this is something that Daleiden was hoping for. But when Daleiden published his videos with great fanfare, he primed more than a few future domestic terrorists to take the law — God’s or their own — into their own hands.

David Dalieden didn’t pull the trigger — he just showed Robert Lewis Dear where he needed to aim the gun.

Robert Dear, Suspect in Colorado Killings, ‘Preferred to Be Left Alone’ – The New York Times

Robert L. Dear Jr. was a man who lived off the grid.

On this lonely, snow-covered patch of land in a hamlet ringed by the Rocky Mountains, his home was a white trailer, with a forest-green four-wheeler by the front door and a modest black cross painted on one end.

cfe66a0bf34a92bc0c0905f6a7bb5070As police officers surrounded it on Saturday, looking for clues to what they said had sent its owner on a rampage at a Planned Parenthood center that left three dead and nine wounded, neighbors said they barely knew him, beyond one man’s memory of his handing out anti-Obama political pamphlets.

Van Wands, 58, whose wife owns a local saloon, said there were two types of people in the area: the old-timers who put in time getting to know their neighbors, and newcomers who wished to be left alone. Mr. Dear, he said, fell solidly into the second category.

That article has lots of background on Dear…

In Black Mountain, N.C., Mr. Dear had lived in a small yellow house reachable only after miles of driving on mountain roads and, ultimately, along an unpaved and winding street. Two sticks, forming a cross, were attached to a padlocked shed that was filled with bedding, gas canisters and worn boxes of beer. He bought it without running water.

More at the link.

f563b1171ef0965bc107324d96f0721dAs Dak said yesterday in the comment section of Boston Boomer’s post:

Colorado Springs, Site Of Planned Parenthood Attack, Is A Hub For Conservative Christians

Cannonfire-A brief discourse on faulty logic — or: Meet the Fukers!

The right-wing media has spent years demonizing Planned Parenthood, one of the most useful and virtuous institutions in this country. A white maniac from a Deep Red state shoots up a Planned Parenthood clinic, and what happens? The right-wing press instantly politicizes the situation, while simultaneously accusing the left of politicizing.

During Shooting, GOP Congressman Says He Expects Apology From Planned Parenthood | Mediaite

It was while that siege was still going on, though, that Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger decided to take to CNN’s air and demand an apology from Vicki Cowart, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, if the perpetrator turned out not to be an anti-abortion terrorist:

“When I heard that statement, I thought that was very premature. We may find out this person was targeting Planned Parenthood. If we find out he was not targeting Planned Parenthood, I would fully expect an apology from the Planned Parenthood director for saying that.”

dfbae64991e62cffaaad0639ece12f6aThat was at about 6 pm, while there was still gunfire being reported at the scene. There is a long history of terrorism against Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health providers in this country, but the statement Kinzinger is referencing actually points out that the motive is as yet unknown, and yet is still true no matter what this shooter’s mysterious motive turns out to be. Here’sthat statement in full:

Statement from Vicki Cowart, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains:

“Our top priority is the safety of our patients and staff. Our hearts go out to everyone involved in this tragic situation. Planned Parenthood has strong security measures in place, works closely with law enforcement agencies, and has a very strong safety record. We don’t yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don’t yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack. We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country. We will never back away from providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust.”

27a35e9d55c06abb17ce8c40fc281a6cAs with every tragedy, there will be lots of virtual ink devoted to chronicling the many stupid, crass, offensive things that people did and said as this tragedy was unfolding, but this one deserves a special mention, and here’s why.

Kinzinger, a “pro-life” Republican, has demanded an apology from Planned Parenthood if it turns outthat the women’s health organization was not the target of this apparent terrorist murderer. Therefore, if by some magical confluence of events it turns out that Planned Parenthood was the target, then Planned Parenthood does not owe Kinzinger an apology. Kinzinger has conditionally accepted the blame for this violence on behalf of the unhinged anti-abortion right. If he’s allowed back on CNN after that, it should be to ask him if he’s ready to apologize to Planned Parenthood.

The response: GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger Gets Shredded On Facebook After Planned Parenthood Shooting Comments (IMAGES) «

This past week, my cousin David visited us…he meets with the head Bishop of the Florida Archdiocese tomorrow…and finds out in January if he has been accepted into the seminary to become a priest. He mentioned the Pope calling this mess of a world…World War III in “piecemeal”.

10e935dadb4f9173b2552dde7d8c1dcfTake a look at these:

Pope Francis warns on ‘piecemeal World War III’ – BBC News – 13 September 2014

Pope Francis warns ‘piecemeal’ World War III has begun-NBC.news- Saturday, 13 Sep 2014 | 7:06 AM ET

Because according to CNN: How is this not World War III? – CNN.com-Updated 3:16 PM ET, Wed November 25, 2015

…it’s getting hard to avoid analogies to World War I — strange bedfellows, conflicting agendas, alliances of convenience

Remember this…because in a related op/ed on CNN: No, it’s not ‘World War 3’ – CNN.com-Updated 9:03 AM ET, Tue November 17, 2015

Note the dates on those links.

f7361e12c660e21636bf2a0f312bdce8Okay, this is getting long, even for a Sunday Reads. So the rest of the links are in Dump Fashion.

Donald Trump Rally Features Circus Elephant Owned by Man Who Was Repeatedly Arrested for Animal Cruelty

Ben Carson, visiting Syrian refugees in Jordan, says he ‘saw pain on faces’ – LA Times

‘Brave? Really?’: Demonstrators blast armed bigots who surrounded peaceful Muslims at mosque last week

Mom Refuses To Let A Gay Man Teach Her Kids – His Response Is LEGENDARY (IMAGE) «

Burger King manager says police erased video of Chicago shooting | Tampa Bay Times

Russian lawmaker killed by husband detonating hand grenade – NY Daily News

The jealous husband of a young Russian lawmaker killed himself and his wife after detonating a hand grenade as he forced her to have sex in the backseat of their car Thursday, according to local reports.

Dammit, that is, ugh…no words, but there are some assholes out there think there is no way to force sex when you are married to the woman. I wonder what that person feels about hand grenade murder/suicide? (Although I am sure because the woman was very modern and working as a law maker…he would find some way to justify it…to far? Possibly.)

But let’s move on to the poor, another one of said asshole’s champions: It’s simply harder to eat well when you are poor | Barbara Ellen | Comment is free | The Guardian

You can read about the austerity factor at the link.

211418a075d1476b943bd0bf8f0b9698

 

 

And we will end it with history:

82cf6368771c62cb7aa5be2cac89bbe3From Raiders to Traders: The Viking-Arab Trade Exchange

The Viking raids across Europe brought them into contact with other cultures, including Muslim Arabs. Although there are no known Viking settlements in the Arab lands, both cultures interacted with each other through their respective exploration of Europe. Contact between Vikings and Arabs occurred mainly in the area of what would become Russia. While there is scarce evidence that Arabs visited the homelands of the Vikings, or as they called them, the “people of the North,” artifacts found across Scandinavia, and especially in Sweden, point to an extensive long-distance trade exchange between the two very different cultures. It was the promise of access to much needed and coveted silver that set off the Viking exploration into Europe, and brought Viking raiders into contact with the Arabs. In their quest for silver, the Vikings discovered and accessed valuable trade routes to Constantinople that led to an extensive trade exchange with the Arab world. Seizing upon the opportunity to enrich themselves, the Vikings came into contact with Arabic wealth and treasures through their raids, and soon realized the potential of a peaceful trade exchange.

19a4e7cf3b864df543233ebe6a67d2adThe Vikings came into contact with Muslim Arabs during their exploration of the Iberian Peninsula. One of the first contacts occurred with Muslim Spain in 844 when a Viking fleet of fifty-four ships sailed from their base in Brittany to Spain in order to raid the Caliphate’s treasures. The raiding campaign was successful, as the Vikings conquered Lisbon and Seville, destroyed numerous other towns, and even threatened the capital of al-Andalus, Córdoba. However, the Muslims were able to drive back the Viking invaders and built “an effective coastal defence against new attacks.” Having seen the riches of the Caliphate, the Vikings were determined to return, and embarked on a second raiding campaign in 859, this time with a much bigger fleet of sixty-two ships. Again, the raiding campaign itself was a success, as their ships were “so fully laden with plunder that they sat low in the water.”

652593b4fe316bcc785a984e4640fcc8However, on the Vikings’ journey back to their home base in Brittany, the Muslim naval fleet attacked and destroyed the majority of the Vikings’ ships. With that, Viking exploration of and interaction with Muslim Spain ended. The two raids gave both cultures a first glimpse at each other’s military capabilities and characteristics. Prior to the Vikings’ invasion of the Caliphate, the Arabs had no interaction with the “people of the North.” To the Muslim Arabs, the Vikings appeared “as a sudden, mysterious, military threat.” The Vikings for the first time were confronted with an enemy that was well organized on land as well as on the sea, where Vikings were used to supremacy.

Click here to read this article from Saber and Scroll

Well, what are you all up to today? I will post those updates on the EU/Turkey Refugee Agreement below as they become available.

Refugee images from Pinterest: J.J. Lopez Minkoff on Pinterest

Otherwise, please post some of your thoughts today.


Wednesday Reads: Cold as…

4cb40d515e7b5135dfae67748180183eGood Morning

Already starting the second week of 2015 and things just aren’t looking like it is going to be a good year. (I am talking about the crap in Congress and so forth. Which it appears payback is a bitch: Payback? Two GOP Boehner foes kicked off House committee | Washington Watch | McClatchy DC)

So today the links are going to focus on main news items and a few history links.

The images you see are vintage magazine covers from the month of January…some may spark a memory or two…

Let’s start with the news that will be blasted all over the MSM this morning:

Tail Section of AirAsia Flight 8501 Found – NBC News.com

3fe65b2b2708627095905fc62aaaa50cThe tail of AirAsia Flight 8501 has been found in the Java Sea, the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said Wednesday.

“The tail has been found,” Bambang Soelistyo, chief of the rescue agency, known as BASARNAS, told reporters at a news conference, adding that tail numbers were visible on wreckage. Finding the tail is significant because it may contain the plane’s voice and data recorders, or black boxes. Soelistyo said no black boxes have yet been found.

Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia, said on Twitter Wednesday that “if right part of tail section then the black box should be there.”

“We need to find all parts soon so we can find all out (sic) guests to ease the pain of our families,” Fernandes said. “That still is our priority.”

They even have pictures of the tail from underwater:

IMAGE: AirAsia Flight 8501 wreckageBASARNAS
Wreckage from AirAsia 8501
BASARNAS
Wreckage from AirAsia 8501

From what the pictures show, it looks like the plane is upside-down.

a914e56ff66039042f3de8f72b69b01aAccording to the news in Australia, via the Sydney Morning Herald:

The discovery came within what’s now known as the “second additional area” — a search zone to the west of the original focus area, because strong underwater currents have been sweeping wreckage westwards.

Mr Soelistyo said divers would now be deployed to try to recover the bodies that his agency, Basarnas, is sure are trapped in the wreckage.

A number of bodies were found overnight, bringing the total of those recovered to 40 out of a flight with 162 passengers and crew.

18db33b7930caa45e0435775c3410b47As bodies floating free in the ocean are decaying fast, authorities hope most of the rest of the victims will be capable of being recovered from the four or more large pieces of wreckage believed to be on the ocean floor.

Basarnas and the Indonesian National Transport Safety Committee were now trying to find the black box using the pinger locator.

It also looks like there is some strange suspensions and such taking place. Air Asia is a airline that advertises flights for the average person…with a slogan of “now everyone can fly”…meaning they are not your high dollar air travel carrier. You can read more about their launch into Indonesia/Malaysia with budget flights here Air Asia X to launch UK-Malaysia flights – Telegraph, it is a link to an article from 2008.

f7c0daeb42a92dffc5dd566c277b86e4Anyway, keep this in mind as you read the rest of the article quoted below.

The breakthrough came as the government’s crackdown on what it sees as unauthorised flights continues, carrying grave risk for AirAsia’s reputation in Indonesia.

More airport and flight approval officials were suspended for allowing the doomed flight to leave Surabaya on a day (Sunday) that it was not authorised to fly the Singapore route.

The feared Corruption Eradication Commission, KPK, has been deployed to see if there was any corruption involved in that process.

But the government appears to have pulled back on its heavy-handed treatment of domestic AirAsia flight routes.

18eae36a15a3ac26e8f857af0da5e5a8On Tuesday, airport officials announced that they had banned AirAsia from flying five of its key Indonesian domestic services out of Surabaya airport, including three from Surabaya to the capital, Jakarta, one to Bali and one to regional centre Bandung.

But the general manager of the airport authority, Trikor Hardjo, said that, after the flights were cancelled, some more negotiations led to the suspension being revoked.

“The airline has already been asked for changes, and the permit was just issued for all of those flights,” Mr Trikor said.

The crackdown, followed by the backdown, seems to the be result of over-zealous regulation in an environment that is increasingly unfriendly and difficult for commercial operators in the wake of the crash.

f1ac0a20a234ff53e41cd64d614115cdA spokesman for the Transport Ministry, JA Barata, tried to clear up the confusion: “Those whose flying schedule is not in accordance with their permit must be suspended, but if the changes are only about flying time or hour, they should not be suspended,” he told Fairfax Media.

“The respective airlines can simply apply for new flying time to the respective division at Transportation Ministry. This is a regular practice and it is very simply done.”

More on the banned flights here: AirAsia banned from key routes amid government crackdown

AirAsia has been banned from flying five of its key Indonesian domestic services out of Surabaya airport as part of a government crackdown on previously unenforced regulations in the wake of the crash of flight QZ8501.

c6c679e9fab82573485b725c3546469dThe bans on the flights – three from Surabaya to the capital, Jakarta, one to Bali and one to regional centre Bandung – will deal another blow to the Malaysia-based low-cost carrier, which had already been suspended from the Surabaya-Singapore route entirely.

It’s part of a broader government crackdown on lax administration of flight permits from Surabaya Airport. The fast-growing Indonesian-owned low cost carrier Lion Air has been stopped from flying nine of its weekly services, and smaller aircraft Trigana and KalStar have also been affected.

aba4861f399e79ddee13b1af733b23d7And late on Tuesday, another airport, Medan, made a similar decision, banning AirAsia from flying its Tuesday Medan to Palembang service.

The general manager of Indonesia’s airport authority, Trikor Hardjo, said he had made the decision because the airlines had changed aspects of their scheduling and so lacked permits to fly some services. He told news portal Detik.com he had, “tightened the rules of the game”.

But the sudden move will cast Indonesia’s teeming aviation industry into disarray, and is likely to mean long delays for passengers as they are transferred to other flights.

The Indonesian government’s regulation of its burgeoning airline industry has been 76ecc7571a20813e7f859ad401d3af0fjudged one of the worst in the world. The International Civil Aviation Organisation ranks its ability to administer aviation as worse than that in Albania, Kyrgyzstan, Cameroon and Burkina Faso.

Moving on.

There was another shooting last night, this time at a VA hospital in Texas: Gunman kills doctor, then himself, at VA hospital in El Paso, Texas – CNN.com

One person died Tuesday when a gunman opened fire at the El Paso VA Health Care System in Texas, Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty told reporters.

“The alleged shooter is dead, and we have one casualty. That casualty is deceased. All other VA patients and staff are safe. This is an active crime scene, and the shooting incident is under investigation,” he said.

23c6318e6499e388ca6c7ee46a7f836aThe FBI is taking the lead on the investigation.

The Department of Veterans Affairs released a statement saying it was saddened by what happened.

“We will continue to cooperate fully with military and civilian authorities at Beaumont Army Medical Center. The safety and continued care of our Veterans and the staff will be our focus throughout this situation,” the statement read.

A Pentagon official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that a doctor was shot by a gunman, who later died from a self-inflicted wound.

The motive for the shooting was not immediately clear. The VA facility will be closed Wednesday.

3beeb5785d8233d3a7fb17ce4bdebf68Of course this violence is in addition to the bomb at the NAACP office in Colorado, Suspect sought after blast near Colorado Springs NAACP office | Al Jazeera America

Authorities are looking for a man who may have information about an explosion set off near the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP.

The Tuesday blast outside a barbershop next door to the group’s building caused no injuries, police said. There was only minor damage to the site which is which is about an hour south of Denver.

FBI spokeswoman Amy Sanders says an explosive was detonated against the building, but it’s too soon to know whether it was aimed at the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.

6d39fb3d340900572596efde6577c1ceSanders says a gasoline canister had been placed next to the improvised explosive device but it did not ignite.

She says investigators are looking for a balding white man in his 40s who may be driving a dirty pickup truck.

In other depressing news: Food stamp benefit cut may force a million people into ‘serious hardship’ | Al Jazeera America

I won’t quote that one, you can go and read the thing for yourself…

Now for a few history links, these are from the History News Network website:

History News Network | Ten Questions for Conservatives

036b3abd67977d3687ca9bb2d28d3fd2Now that the Republican Party―the conservative voice in mainstream U.S. electoral politics―has attained the most thoroughgoing control of Congress that it has enjoyed since 1928, it’s an appropriate time to take a good look at modern conservatism.

Conservatives have performed some useful services for Americans over the course of U.S. history. Alexander Hamilton placed the nation’s financial credit on a much firmer basis during the late eighteenth century. Determined to make knowledge available to all Americans, Andrew Carnegie funded the development of the free U.S. public library system in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During the early twentieth century, Elihu Root and other conservatives played key roles in the establishment of international law. Also, in the mid-twentieth century, Robert Taft staunchly denounced the peacetime military draft, arguing that it smacked of a totalitarian state.

5ca53648bae56ab3b2bf4022f9e8fd20But, increasingly, modern American conservatism resembles a giant wrecking ball, powered by hate-spewing demagogues to undermine or destroy long-cherished institutions, from the U.S. Post Office (established by Benjamin Franklin in 1775 and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution) to minimum wage laws (which began to appear on the state level in the early twentieth century). Sadly, the rhetoric of modern conservatism―focused on small government, free enterprise, and individual liberty―seems ever more divorced from its behavior. Indeed, conservatism’s rhetoric and its behavior are often quite contradictory.

Is this allegation fair? There certainly seem to be plenty of discrepancies between words and deeds, and conservatives should be asked to explain them. For example:

Go to link and read the 10 questions…

b1b3b97dac591f892f8569563c9573f3Another HNN: History News Network | Why Historians Need to Refocus on the Importance of Emotion in History, Starting with Shame

Peter Stearns is a Professor of History and Provost Emeritus at George Mason University. He served as Provost from 2000-2014. This article was the basis for a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in New York in January.

I offer here some brief comments on shame, its history, and opportunities in the history of emotion. I’ve been concerned, despite the impressive flurry of work on emotion by historians at major centers that have sprung up in several countries, that we’ve not maintained adequate connections with the other fields that dominate research on emotion, notably psychology and sociology.

3c4f074691233bfc73cd3eb3c6b51d2dAn update on shame serves as a case in point, where connections would stimulate new history research and provide needed data and perspectives for the social scientists.

We know one key thing about shame and history, thanks particularly to work by John Demos some decades ago. Widely displayed in colonial America, complete with public stocks, it declined in popularity by the mid-nineteenth century. Recent Googlebooks data confirm this, by the way. But after this core discovery, historians have been silent on the emotion.

Not so social scientists, who have been pouring out impressive amounts of work on current patterns of shame, and particularly the emotion’s harmful effects. Whether we’re talking about prisoners, children, or fat people, shame targeting simply makes things worse, causing resentment and sometimes counterproductive reactions.

41996a1f0a8739af8ccea611b9f24d9bSo how can history, which dropped the topic, now contribute?

 

You know what to do, right?

And one more…History News Network | The Nuclear Disaster You Never Heard of

This month, with little fanfare, Palomares begins its 50th year as “the most radioactive town in Europe.” If you’ve heard of Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island but are unfamiliar with Palomares, you might wonder why. All appear in Time’s top-ten list of the world’s “worst nuclear disasters.” Palomares moreover has been called the worst nuclear weapons accident in history. So why do so few people outside Spain know about it?

e2cbc5d764538cf951aeee715042dd21The cover-up and whitewash were figurative, also literal. Though four nuclear bombs were rained on Spain, many vaguely recall a lone “lost” bomb, fished out of the Mediterranean intact.

So what exactly happened? On 17 January 1966, a US Air Force B-52 collided with its refueling plane, killing seven airmen and dropping four hydrogen bombs. Conventional explosives in two detonated on impact with the earth, blowing them to bits and scattering radioactive plutonium—a mutagen and carcinogen—over the farming town of Palomares, population 2000.

3b58adbfbea88ef680e287694d39dccfEnglish-language journalists, though late on the scene, rushed their books into print, replicating oversights of the rushed cleanup operation and circulating the myth of a single lost bomb. Pioneering female foreign correspondent Flora Lewis screamed One of Our H-Bombs is Missing, borrowing a title from 50s Red Scare pulp fiction. Likewise demonstrating their national allegiances, British reporter Christopher Morris lamented The Day They Lost the H-Bomb and American science writer Barbara Moran, four decades later, decried The Day We Lost the H-Bomb.

Only New York Times correspondent Tad Szulc pluralized the threat with The Bombs of Palomares. He further measured the relative importance of events. “Although the long spectacular search” for the harmless fourth 8f0cabad322bda5e0210f42ba7ef1e5fbomb—at the bottom of the Med for eighty days—“was to overshadow the village’s radioactivity problem in [U.S.] public opinion, the contamination was in reality the most significant” calamity.

[…]

So what was of greatest significance in early 1966? In addition to the seven airmen, plus eight more killed in a Palomares supply plane crash, people in Palomares suffered—and still suffer—potentially fatal radioactive exposures. At the time, no was evacuated; no one was officially informed for six weeks. Even then, U.S. Ambassador Angier Duke told the international press corps an unconscionable lie: “This area has gone through no public health hazard of any kind, and no trace whatsoever of radioactivity has ever been found.” Why then were nearly 5000 barrels of dec16d08e92c2cc56ff2f34b77b63420hot soil and crops shipped away for burial in South Carolina? Why today is plutonium found throughout the food chain in Palomares? Why is radioactivity evident downwind, in neighboring Villaricos?

See, you need to go and read the rest of those article to find the answers to the questions.

I thought this was another interesting history link for you this morning: Nazi super cows: British farmer forced to destroy half his murderous herd of bio-engineered Heck cows after they try to kill staff – Environment – The Independent

Nazi super cows  British farmer forced to destroy half his murderous herd of bio engineered Heck cows after they try to kill staff   Environment   The Independent

Hitler’s drive to produce the perfect Aryan race was not confined to people – it also extended to a specially bred herd of Nazi-engineered cows, which have turned out to be so aggressive that a UK farmer has been forced to turn half of them into sausages.

ea33bef6157070158706d26e2c5fc2e1Derek Gow imported more than a dozen Heck super cows to his West Devon farm in 2009, nearly a century after they were first created in the 1920s.

But, Farmer Gow, who is the only British farmer to own the breed, has been forced to kill seven of his herd because the cows were so aggressive they repeatedly tried to kill his staff.

“We have had to cut our herd down to six because some of them were incredibly aggressive and we just couldn’t handle them,” said Farmer Gow, who said the meat made “very tasty” sausages that tasted a bit like venison.

“The ones we had to get rid of would just attack you any chance they could. They would try to kill anyone. Dealing with that was not fun at all. They are by far and away the most aggressive animals I have ever worked with,” he said.

87d5c03a956e279ab67f0f604421b76bThe aggressive breed was produced by German zoologists and brothers Heinz and Lutz Heck, whom the Nazi party commissioned to produce a breed of cattle based on aurochs, a species of extinct ancient wild bull.

Video at the link.

Hey, remember that time capsule that was found in Boston a couple of weeks ago? Time capsule that was in Massachusetts State House is opened – Metro – The Boston Globe

Using a porcupine’s quill, several small pieces of paper, a strip of polyester film, and a small metal pick that resembled a dental tool, Museum of Fine Arts conservator Pam Hatchfield carefully plucked history from a box Tuesday night.

b0823ee0eaef5aa88fa63e2e9bc0dce7The box was a time capsule, many of its items first placed beneath the cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House 220 years ago to mark the start of the building’s construction. The history came in many forms.

There were five neatly folded newspapers, a collection of 23 coins dating as far back as 1652, a medal depicting George Washington, a replica of Colonial records, and a silver plate commemorating the erection of the new State House.

History of time capsules: Boston statehouse time capsule opening.

ef49f1caebdfeb044306b2471551726eOne of the coins in the box, a Pine Tree Shilling, was printed in 1652 for the use of Massachusetts’ colonists, without the knowledge of the British monarchy.  Writing about the shilling, historian Mark Peterson tells the story of the colonists’ monetary defiance, which initially went unpunished during the king-less time of Oliver Cromwell. With the Restoration in 1660, Peterson writes, Charles II “demanded a reckoning of the colony’s conduct.” In a “dexterous act of verbal tribute,” the colony’s representative convinced the king that the pine was, instead, a royal oak, “the emblem of the oak which preserved his majesty’s life.” For the moment, Peterson adds, “the bluff succeeded.” Revere and Adams may have chosen to include the shilling as a token of the colony’s early independence.

b3a9a7f857425b953dce5f4f21a04cfdYou can find pictures and the full text of the plate at the links above.

From history to science:

Children’s vulnerability reflected in genes: Some children more sensitive to their environments, for better and worse — ScienceDaily

Some children are more sensitive to their environments, for better and for worse. Now researchers have identified a gene variant that may serve as a marker for these children, who are among society’s most vulnerable. The study found that children from high-risk backgrounds who carried a common gene variant were very likely to develop serious problems as adults, but were also more responsive to treatment.

4386fd551f87234730594976e89f415aBBC News – ‘Alien Earth’ is among eight new far-off planets

One of eight new planets spied in distant solar systems has usurped the title of “most Earth-like alien world”, astronomers have said.

All eight were picked out by Nasa’s Kepler space telescope, taking its tally of such “exoplanets” past 1,000.

But only three sit safely within the “habitable zone” of their host star – and one in particular is rocky, like Earth, as well as only slightly warmer.

e7a34aa1ab622434bc31a58cffd2b970The find was revealed at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

So Many Earth-Like Planets, So Few Telescopes – NYTimes.com

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, now in its fifth year of seeking out the shadows of planets circling other stars, has spotted hundreds, and more and more of these other worlds look a lot like Earth — rocky balls only slightly larger than our own home, that with the right doses of starlight and water could turn out to be veritable gardens of microbial Eden.

As the ranks of these planets grow, astronomers are planning the next step in the quest to end cosmic loneliness: gauging which hold the greatest promise for life and what 37b75a4fc0f2cddf59e883bb8de338fftools will be needed to learn about them.

And finally…On the Open Road, Signs of a Changing Cuba – NYTimes.com

HAVANA — The signs of the times speak loudly in Cuba, sometimes through their silence.

A 17-hour drive across the heart of the island in a battered burgundy and gray 1956 Ford Fairlane included long stretches in which there was surprisingly little ideology on display, few of the billboards that once trumpeted revolutionary slogans.

55e81deb4c1c4840880d9726fa29d8acThose that remained had less of the nostalgic lilt of “socialism or death” and more of the eager pitch of self-help books or business management bibles.

“Florida advances through its own effort,” said a sign in the town of that name.

“Quality is respect for the people,” said another.

Another said simply, “Work hard!” — a notion stripped of the ideological imperative that used to complete the thought with phrases like “to defeat imperialism” or “to build socialism.”

Dispatched to Cuba in December after the surprise announcement by President Obama 736e62115c203f93b98b107d6f4aff1fe2bc7d89that he would renew full diplomatic relations, I set off on a road trip from Havana, near the west end of the island, to Guantánamo, at the east end.

The mileage chart on my map said the distance was 565 miles. It felt a lot longer sitting on the cream-colored, quilted vinyl seat of the Ford, which had lost a lot of its spring in the years since Fidel Castro swept into power.

The vintage Ford was not part of the original plan.

I think you will enjoy that long read. Pictures too at the link…

Hope everyone stays warm, we are very cold today in Banjoville. The low tonight is 7… So, what are you all reading about today?


Sunday Reads: Let them drink tap water…

Good Morning

76c7d10c3f207359ba1ad1a52277554f

I used to think of Twitter as a stream of consciousness thing, where

you type out a thought that comes to you…abstract, free-form and unassuming.

It just floated out there in the mass twit universe.

Facebook was more like a personal thought because it was “friends” or “family” that would see the shit you typed out into your little space on the wall.

More like a statement made out-loud…right?

I make statements out-loud at home all the time. Hell, don’t we all. I mean, sometimes I do it when no one is listening. (And lots of those times they include the words asshole and shithead preceded of course by the key adverb “fucking”) But when someone is listening in my home…they usually know what my thought process is and can complete the fragment of a statement I make even if I don’t state my case in a full and intelligent manner.

I realized the other day that I do the same exact thing here…in the comments. And it is funny because the same people who pick up on my cues here…are the ones who pick up on the shit I type out on my Facebook wall.

The was a little item in the news over the weekend, Rep. Steve King was talking out of his ass again…and of course it pissed me off. I mentioned it here and on my Facebook page. I think I called King a fucking asshole and posted a link to his comment:

Susan Wood, a George Washington University professor and former FDA official, told the all-male judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution that HR7 – which would make the Hyde Amendment permanentban federal subsidies for private insurance plans that cover abortion and would permanently block the District of Columbia from spending local tax money on abortion services – could “virtually eliminate abortion coverage from the private insurance market” and would especially hurt low-income women, threatening to push them “deeper into poverty.”

“While it may not seem like a big expense to a Member of Congress, in these tough financial times, for many people, abortion care costs more than their monthly rent, putting it out of reach for their family’s pocketbook,” Wood said.

When it came time to ask questions, Rep. King mocked Wood’s comparison of the cost of abortion to a month’s rent, wondering, “I wonder how many abortions a month does she need to keep up with the monthly rent check.”

Antikamnia calendar 1897 ebayMy mind was working on his comical statement, considering his PLUBic stance on providing that woman and her fetus with funding for food stamps and other “welfare” assistance once that fetus pops out of the incubation hole and becomes a living breathing tax burden.

That is what I was thinking..but I didn’t write it all down. Do you all do that? I don’t know. Is it cause I am lazy. Or cause I just tend to write stuff here like you are my family and this is my way of talking to you all? It is a ridiculous observation…but there it is.

BTW, images are from The Antikamnia Chemical Company via BibliOdyssey:

After beginning his working life as a printer’s apprentice, Louis Crucius (or Crusius) completed the necessary requirements to graduate as a pharmacist in 1882 and a doctor in 1890 in St Louis, Missouri. While he was studying he worked in a pharmacy and made humorous sketches that were placed in the window of the store. A collection of these drawings was published in 1893 (‘Funny Bones’). He lectured in histology and anatomy and eventually came to be a Professor of Anatomy but died in 1898 from kidney tumours.

3f74509875adde36355821a9b9bf19a5Although he gave most of his drawings away, Crucius sold a number of them to the Antikamnia (‘opposed to pain’) Chemical Company which had been established in St Louis in 1890. They produced antikamnia medicines containing the coal tar derivative, acetanilid, an anti-fever drug with pain relieving properties somewhat related to paracetamol, but which would be later shown to be a toxic compound not to mention addictive. Antikamnia was mixed with substances like codeine and quinine to enhance the pain relieving effects.

30 of the Crucius ‘dance of death’-inspired drawings were used to make 5 years worth of Antikamnia Chemical Company calendars – between 1897 and 1901. They had a fairly aggressive marketing campaign in which the calendars (aimed at the medical fraternity) as well as postcards and sample packs were distributed to doctors in the United States and overseas.

Now for the morning’s reads, starting with a series of links on the chemical spill in West Virginia.

Antikamnia calendar 1900 jan.feb francaisThe Wait Continues for Safe Tap Water in West Virginia – NYTimes.com

As hundreds of thousands of residents faced a third day without water because of a chemical spill in a local river, a water company executive said on Saturday that it could be days before it was safe for them to drink tap water again.

Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water, said that officials had set up four labs to test the amount of chemical in the water, but that it might take days to provide enough samples to determine whether the water was safe.

A state official also said that thousands of gallons more of the chemical had leaked into the river than was initially believed.

b3207cde6c4bbfd534d17a42ef2990d6Not only that…but it turns out the company was not the one who notified authorities of the leak. It was the EPA. The amount of chemicals spilled was under-reported at first, and it sounds like the company Freedom Industries…fucking ironic isn’t it, is starting to cooperate a little more.

About 7,500 gallons of chemical was spilled into the river, about 2,500 more than previously estimated, said Mr. Dorsey, the state environmental official.

After local officials complained of problems communicating with Freedom Industries, Mr. Dorsey said on Saturday that the company had been more cooperative. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to communicate well,” he said.

State officials said the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, used in coal processing, seeped from the ruptured storage tank on Thursday into the Elk River, just upstream from the intake pipes for the regional water company. Exposure to the chemical, which smells like licorice, can cause headaches, eye and skin irritation and difficulty breathing, according to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.

This story is only going to get more disturbing as the investigation starts to delve deeper into the spill and the companies involved. For that I turn to the local newspaper, The Charleston Gazzette. Check these articles out, they are excellent and you need to read them in full:

b90be3d5b21e135e560f746f18366d72This one details the discovery of the leak…Freedom Industries cited for Elk chemical spill  by Ken Ward-  The Charleston Gazette

When West Virginia inspectors arrived at Freedom Industries late Thursday morning, they discovered that the company had taken “no spill containment measures” to combat the chemical spill that has put drinking water supplies off-limits for hundreds of thousands of residents.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said Freedom Industries violated the West Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Act and the Water Pollution Control Act by allowing the chemical “Crude MCHM,” consisting mostly of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, to escape from its facility, just upstream from West Virginia American Water’s regional intake in the Elk River.

[…]

“It’s a bad situation,” said Mike Dorsey, chief of the DEP’s homeland security and emergency response division.

Dorsey said the tank contained about 30,000 gallons of material at the time of the leak, and that the company had pumped the rest of the material out and shipped it to another of its operations.

Dorsey has said DEP officials began an investigation after receiving odor complaints from nearby residents starting at about 8:15 a.m. The DEP and Kanawha County emergency officials traced the odors to Freedom Industries, which had not self-reported any sort of leak or accident, officials said.

48f2b6c2785da61fb771d518cfd47cd4So the company did not notify EPA…it was residents in the area that started to smell this shit who called the local DEP…and they were the ones who contacted Freedom Industries and told them they had a spill on company property. WTF? This is where you want to pay attention to the matter:

In an air-quality enforcement order, the DEP said air-quality officials who arrived at the site at 11:10 a.m. “discovered that no spill containment measures had been initiated and that an accumulating MCHM leak pool was seeping thru a dike wall adjacent to the Elk River and a downstream oil sheen was observed.”

DEP Secretary Randy Huffman said more information needs to be gathered, but that it seems possible the spill into the river might not have been as bad if Freedom Industries had acted more quickly.

“Depending on when they knew [about the leak], had they put containment measures in place the instant they knew, it’s logical to deduce that there wouldn’t have been as much product in the stream,” Huffman said.

e40bafcc09badbd0d8276c631335e864Oh yeah and you want more ridiculous ways Freedom Industries handled the situation?

Smells from the spill were reported early Thursday morning, but Freedom mostly stonewalled media inquiries — releasing only a bland news release through a public relations firm — until a 10-minute news conference Friday evening.

At the news conference, Freedom Industries President Gary Southern gave few details about the company, made several statements seemingly in conflict with what government officials have said, and was whisked away by a public relations handler with reporters still shouting questions.

Prior to the news conference, the most extensive public statement from anyone connected with the company came Friday afternoon from Kathy Stover-Kennedy, the girlfriend of Freedom Industries executive Dennis P. Farrell.

Stover-Kennedy stressed that the spill was an accident and said that Farrell has received threatening and frightening messages from people around the world.

“I’m not asking for anyone’s sympathy but a little empathy wouldn’t hurt. And just so you know, the boys at the plant made and drank coffee this morning! I showered and brushed my teeth this morning and I am just fine!” Stover-Kennedy wrote on her personal Facebook page.

5dacfaf261a33961e3624575c89a56cdYeah…Let them drink tap water!!!!!

“There has been criticism from many about how Freedom Industries is handling this,” she continued. “Denny is not a spokesperson and has no desire to be. His expertise was much needed elsewhere. If he had taken the time to talk to the numerous media networks, giving statements, he would not have been able to react to the situation and perform his job accordingly. It wasn’t his decision to hire a spokesperson and it isn’t his job to be one.”

Well, if you look at these links I am giving you here, it seems Denny did not do much…in the way of working his expertise. The Charleston Gazette is examining this leak, and the company, Freedom Industries, rather well…I wish there were reporters like these out there doing the same in other towns where industrial environmental disasters have devastated more than the water supply. (But then perhaps there is a reason for the silence too…)  (And really, I could go further and add political governmental disasters as well but that would get me off on another tangent.)

Anyway, take a look at this…regarding the leak and what actions took place after it was discovered…and prior to? Why wasn’t there a plan?  Key players knew of potential for Elk River spill By Ken Ward Jr. – The Charleston Gazette

7fab6c1c0717cc9b7b640f1ec3c9abeaA few specific points:

Freedom Industries filed its “Tier 2” form under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. State emergency response officials got a copy. So did emergency planners and responders from Kanawha County.

Under the law, government officials are supposed to use chemical inventory information on Tier 2 forms, like Freedom Industries’, to prepare for potential accidents.

Armed with the forms, they know what facilities could explode, where large quantities of dangerous substances are stockpiled, and what industries could pose threats to things such as drinking water supplies. They can plan how to evacuate residents, fight fires or contain toxic leaks.

Sounds like that diagram from the movie Office Space, “Planning to Plan”

Those same agencies and public officials, though, have said they know little about the chemical involved. They’re all acting a bit surprised that this mystery substance was being stockpiled so close to a crucial water intake, and shocked that something like this could have happened.Water company officials are equally puzzled. For example, West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre told reporters on Friday that his company didn’t know much about the chemical’s possible dangers, wasn’t aware of an effective treatment process, and wasn’t even sure exactly how much 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol is too much.

“We’re still trying to work through the [material safety data sheet] to try to understand the risk assessment of this product,” McIntyre said during a Friday-morning news conference. “We don’t know that the water is not safe. But I can’t say that it is safe.”

8f42e52c3854bfd3029ca566071b45a3It only gets better. /snark

McIntyre said his company hadn’t at that point had any contact directly with Freedom Industries, and he wasn’t able to identify any previous efforts by the two firms to work together on emergency response planning.

“I can’t answer that question,” McIntyre said when asked about such planning. “I don’t have that information.”

Fred Millar, a longtime chemical industry watchdog in Washington, D.C., said the lack of better planning was an example of how the landmark emergency response law hasn’t been properly enforced around the country.

“Obviously, the whole idea of the chemical inventory reports is to properly inform local emergency officials about the sorts of materials they might have to deal with,” Millar said Friday. “It’s just head-in-the-sand to be ignoring this type of threat.”

No shit.

7611aeb45bd1056859790bac0e8ec809But this next article is one that starts to peel at the toxic layer of protections “corporations” can muster when it comes to being people…Freedom Industries execs are longtime colleagues- by Dave Gutman   The Charleston Gazette

Freedom Industries, the company whose chemical spill is responsible for the contamination of much of the Kanawha Valley’s water, has existed in its current form for less than two weeks.

On the last day of 2013, Freedom Industries, which distributes chemicals used in coal mining, merged with three other companies: Etowah River Terminal, Poca Blending and Crete Technologies, a Delaware company.

Poca Blending, in Nitro, and Etowah River Terminal, in Charleston, now comprise the two branches of Freedom Industries.

The company’s website says the Charleston branch, which spilled the chemical, “can process large volumes of chemical rapidly, and cost effectively.”

They can leak the shit rapidly too.040b20741beeaa72604faa1e72bb5f52

And what exactly is ‘Crude MCHM’? Few know  – by Ken Ward Jr – The Charleston Gazette

That should really get you all up to speed on the spill in West Virginia. The rest of the links will be quick, in dump format after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


It’s a Wonderful Life: Walmart Employees, Homeless People and Texas Women

$(KGrHqEOKiEE6UPng66wBOq1oPst7w~~60_35Good Afternoon

Huh?

Yeah…would you look at that.

3:00 pm has come and gone.

<————- And take a look at this. I found this picture on Pinterest, is it me…or does the left side of her jacket look like Texas? I don’t know, but when I look at that picture, I think of Wendy Davis running for Governor of Texas!  Wendy had some choice words for Republicans regarding the SCOTUS decision to give all of Texas Women the ol’ “fuck you!” More on this later…but, first…let’s get this “morning” post started.

Latest news on State Senator Creigh Deeds: Three hospitals with psychiatric units had room for Deeds’s son on Monday – The Washington Post

At least three hospitals near Bath County had available beds the day before the son of Virginia state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds apparently stabbed his father and then shot himself to death, officials confirmed Wednesday.

Deeds’s condition was upgraded to good at a Charlottesville hospital as investigators and mental-health officials continued to search for an explanation of what happened. Austin Deeds, who was 24, had undergone a psychiatric evaluation on Monday, but officials initially said he was not admitted to a hospital because no bed was available.

It remained unclear Wednesday which hospitals were called and why Austin Deeds was not taken to one of the available facilities.

Uh oh…

And over in Albuquerque, Voters Defeat Anti-Abortion Measure – NYTimes.com

Voters here on Tuesday defeated a ballot question that sought to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, delivering a critical setback to an anti-abortion movement that had sought to use this progressive city to recalibrate the national debate around women’s reproductive rights.

The referendum, the first of its kind in the country for a municipality, was marked by record turnout and aggressive tactics by volunteers on both sides, who sought to capitalize on the controversy and passion surrounding the issue to drive voters to the polls. For political strategists, it also offered a chance to test the way their message on abortion resonated among Hispanics, a key constituency that accounts for nearly half of the residents in Albuquerque and New Mexico, and is one of the fastest-growing populations in the country.

“This was a clear counterpunch to the Republicans and right-wingers who came from out of state to push their agenda on us,” Sam Bregman, chairman of the New Mexico Democratic Party, which campaigned hard against the ban, said in an interview.

Give that piece a read, some interesting quotes from the local people in Albuquerque. The vote was 55 % to 45% btw…

You may remember the outcry from David Horsey, cartoonist at the LA Times, when there was a possibility the Koch Brothers would be buying the paper out? Think back and then read this: Tribune Co. Cutting 700 Newspaper Jobs Amid Dropping Advertising Revenues – Forbes

Tribune Co., the parent of several legendary newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, announced restructuring plans that include cutting 700 jobs, mainly from its newspaper unit.  Facing falling advertising revenues, Tribune has been engaged in aggressive cost-cutting which has helped the company remain profitable, its latest earnings show.

Staff reductions amount to about 6% of Tribune’s workforce, and will be focused on operations personnel at their publishing unit, rather than on editorial staff, chief executive Peter Liguori said, according to the LA Times.  At the same time, the company is looking consolidate advertising and circulation functions which were previously managed by each of the eight newspapers in their portfolio individually.

I wonder what Horsey will do with this nugget of news now. (He is really such a talented and ballsy cartoonist…)

Alright. Now that the newsy part of the post is over, here comes the meaty part.

Did you hear the news? Hollywood is making a sequel, but this in no ordinary sequel. It’s not Rocky 15 or Hobbitt III…this time Hollywood is going back to it’s roots…back to it’s heyday…it is going back to Bedford Falls.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Sequel in the Works: Jimmy Stewart Christmas Classic Gets a Follow-Up | Variety

Star Partners and Hummingbird Prods. are collaborating on production of a sequel to Frank Capra’s iconic 1946 movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which starred Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.

The sequel, titled “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story,” is being financed by Allen J. Schwalb of Star Partners who will also produce along with Bob Farnsworth of Hummingbird. The duo are aiming to get the movie into theaters for the 2015 holiday season.

Karolyn Grimes, who played George Bailey’s daughter “Zuzu” in the original, will return for the “Wonderful Life” sequel as an angel who shows Bailey’s unlikeable grandson (also named George Bailey) how the world would be if he had he never been born.

I am negative by birth, being a Sicilian and all, but there are some things (whether they be books or film) that do not and should not be treated to “the sequel.”  It’s a Wonderful Life is not one of them.

I guess I am not the only one who feels this way, Mike Fleming Jr at Deadline had this to say: Beyond ‘Wonderful Life’, What Other Sacred Cows Should Be On The Sequel Menu?

Our sister publication Variety just bannered an exclusive that It's A Wonderful Life Sequelthere is a sequel in the works to the charming Frank Capra-directed Jimmy Stewart film It’s A Wonderful Life. Here, the actress who played Bailey daughter Zuzu (Karolyn Grimes) returns as an angel to advise George Bailey’s grandson (cleverly named George Bailey) because he has turned into a douchebag. While my first impulse is to label this a sign of the apocalypse, particularly after I see stories about Robert De Niro talking about a Taxi Driver sequel, maybe the Wonderful Life‘s backers at Star Partners are on to something. Even if something is considered a sacred cow, if that cow was run through the slaughterhouse, wouldn’t there be some tasty steaks for all? I need to stop judging.

No, please Mike..judge…judge!

You could take the progeny of a number of classic films and continue those beloved story lines. Why, maybe Rosebud didn’t completely burn up in the fire at the end of Citizen Kane. It got saved by Charles Foster Kane’s son or nephew, and their grandson finds it in the barn, pimps it out and uses Rosebud to conquer the downhill wooden sledding circuit, which for sequel purposes has been approved as an event in the next Winter Olympics. Any other classics that could be sequelized with the combination of ingenuity and public domain rights expiration?

After watching weeks of The Story of Film on TCM, I see just how crappy cinema has become here in the US. I knew it was shit for a long time now, but there is nothing like seeing some of those wonderful classic films through a film historian’s eyes to get a true feel for what we have lost. And I think what is more important, what we are losing in not moving forward towards innovation in film.

In the meantime, here in America…Walmart employees are really living the “wonderful life.” If they aren’t in fear of being shot by the stupid idiots that shop at their stores: Gun in pants pocket fires in Walmart; owner keeps shopping

Police said a man whose gun accidentally fired in his pants pocket while at Walmart on Sunday kept on shopping, paying for his items and leaving as though nothing had happened.

Christopher William Strube, 50, was arrested Monday and charged with discharging a weapon within city limits.

Strube was shopping Sunday afternoon with his .45-caliber gun in his pocket, when a bottle he was carrying bumped into the gun and caused it to fire one round, police said. Strube told police that after the gun went off, he paid for his items and left the store.

Employees and customers said they heard a gunshot and smelled gun powder. Police later found a .45-caliber bullet inside a can of beans.

These Walmart employees are collecting cans for other Walmart employees who are too poor to feed themselves at Thanksgiving.

Is Walmart’s request of associates to help provide Thanksgiving dinner for co-workers proof of low wages? | cleveland.com

Walmart Holding Canned Food Drive For Its Own Underpaid Employees | ThinkProgress

Wal-Mart Asks its Low-Wage Workers to Donate Food to its Low-Wage Workers | The Poverty Line, What Matters Today | BillMoyers.com

Of those three articles, I say read the last one by Bill Moyers.

This is very disturbing and upsetting for me on a very personal level. You all know why…Walmart puts food on our table, and I was always told not to “shit where you eat.” Walmart should increase their employee pay…geez, WTF is wrong with them. The Simple Path to a Living Wage at Walmart

In the past week, both a senior editor at Fortune magazine and the liberal think tank Demos have made similar proposals for how Walmart could greatly increase worker wages without harming its business prospects. What is this mysterious financial magic?

The two proposals differ a bit in the details, but they use roughly the same mechanism to reach the same goal, so we’ll go with Demos’s proposal (described in full here) for ease of explanation. Basically, the argument is this: Walmart throws off enough cash in profits each year that it could easily raise the wages of its workers by about 50%, so that they all made about $25K per year, which is what activists are seeking. Currently, the company just uses that cash for other purposes. Like what? Well, Demos points out that Walmart spent $7.6 billion last year buying back its own stock shares, a maneuver designed to buoy the stock price and dividend payments.

[…]

Demos estimates that if Walmart had dedicated last year’s share repurchasing money to worker wages, it could have ensured that all employees working 32 hours or more per week made at least $25K per year. (Something that is not unknown in the retail world.)

The key to this plan is simply a realistic look at which stakeholders benefit from which economic decision. Buying back shares can be popular on Wall Street, but it doesn’t change Walmart’s actual business operations one whit. The money, then could either provide a living wage to close to a million workers who currently do not make enough to provide for their families, or it could be used to vastly increase he personal wealth of the richest and greediest family in America.

Greed. Happy Thanksgiving.

In another sad story about living a “wonderful life” this time in Hawaii, at the hands of a “democrat.” Oh, this is disgusting. Worst Person in the World: Vigilante State Rep. Smashes Shopping Carts Used by Homeless People | The Daily Banter

brower_homeless_smash

Contrary to popular myths and stereotypes, Hawaii, and especially Honolulu, has a serious problem with poverty and homelessness. It’s not hard to spot tent cities in parks and near industrial areas, where hula dancers, surf boards and mai tais are nowhere in sight. In fact, Hawaii has the highest rate of homelessness in the nation, with a population of around 17,000.

So along comes State Rep. Tom Brower — and his sledgehammer. Brower, wearing an Armani hat, has taken it upon himself to destroy and confiscate shopping carts used by homeless people.

Video at the link if you can stand it.

Brower, a Democrat, was quoted by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser as saying, “If I see shopping carts that I can’t identify, I will destroy them so they can’t be pushed on the streets.” Later, on a local news station, Brower told a reporter, “I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets.”

Yeah. He’s quite a hero, isn’t he? Destroying one of the only means by which homeless people can carry their few possessions — or, in some cases, earn some extra money by collecting recyclable cans and bottles. Specifically, Brower smashes the wheels off the carts, making them impossible to use. So instead of homeless people pushing shopping carts, Hawaii will have a homeless population dragging bashed up, wobble-wheeled carts now. Nice guy.

But it gets worse.

Yeah, is sure does. Go and read what this guy does the homeless people who sleep during the day in the streets of Honolulu. He must really want to keep Honolulu off of France’s “Watch Your Ass” US City Hot List: France to its citizens: Beware of downtown Atlanta after dark | www.ajc.com

The French don’t think Downtown Atlanta is such a safe tourist destination after hours.

Because of that, the city “too busy to hate” has found itself on a list of U.S. cities foreign countries warn their traveling citizens about.

The Washington Post recently named 16 American cities that governments from overseas suggest that people visiting the U.S. take precautions when touring.

Among those was Atlanta, whose downtown area the French Consulate suggested might not be the safest place to be after hours.

“Be vigilant in isolated areas of the city center (downtown) after the closure of the offices and to focus on the travel by taxi at night,” a translation from French of the warning about Atlanta.

Hmmm, maybe those homeless people know something about dangerous places after hours? Like it would be better and probably safer to stay awake at night? (Yeah, it is a stretch, I know…)

Moving on…to a “wonderful life” as a woman: ‘Economics Of Birth Control’ Infographic Is The Most Important Thing You’ll See Today

Birth control affects the global economy — on a much larger scale than you might think.

This infographic, created by Population Action International, shows just how much a lack of access to contraception impacts not just women and their children, but the amount countries spend on basic services for entire populations. Yet, sadly, only 22 percent of family-planning needs are being met worldwide.

According to Population Action, “For every $1 we invest in family planning, we save $4 in other areas like education, public health, and water and sanitation.” Check out the numbers below. They paint a pretty depressing picture — and one that needs to change ASAP.

Infographic at the link. But does it really matter, because according to Stuart Varney, Fox Business host: Maybe ‘something about the female brain’ makes women bad tech CEOs | The Raw Story

Fox Business host Stuart Varney on Monday addressed the lack of women executives in the technology industry by suggesting that there was “something about the female brain” that deterred companies from hiring them.

Early last month, filings for Twitter’s plan to publicly offer shares showed that the company was dominated by male executives.

“Should tech companies feel obligated to put women on the board or to make women top executives just to be politically correct,” Varney asked the Tea Party News Network’s Scottie Hughes on Monday.

“No business should ever be obligated to bring on a woman,” Hughes insisted. “They should want to, but you’re not seeing this in Silicon Valley for some reason.”

“But why is that?” Varney wondered. “It’s a very difficult question to ask because it’s politically incorrect. Is there something about the female brain that is a deterrent for getting on board with tech? Is there?”

Asshole.

At least we have Wendy Davis as a voice for women out there: Wendy Davis Slams Texas Republicans After Supreme Court Upholds State Abortion Restrictions

State Sen. Wendy Davis (D), Democrats’ popular candidate for governor of Texas, slammed Texas Republicans following the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the state to continue enforcing its strict anti-abortion law.

“This law is an abuse of power by politicians in Austin. Clinics will close and women’s health will be hurt,” Davis said in a statement to TPM on Tuesday. “I trust women to make their own decisions and will continue to work to make sure that women and mothers are safe and have access to adequate health care.”

Earlier in the year Davis gained national attention for waging a 13-hour filibuster of the law.

In a separate statement Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) praised the high court’s decision.

“This is good news both for the unborn and for the women of Texas, who are now better protected from shoddy abortion providers operating in dangerous conditions,” Perry said. “As always, Texas will continue doing everything we can to protect the culture of life in our state.”

Love her.

The next few links are not within the “wonderful life” theme, but I wanted to include them anyway:

Greg Abbott links Wendy Davis to ‘Satan’ after ‘illegal immigrant’ game is cancelled | The Raw Story

How Many of Your Memories Are Fake? – Erika Hayasaki – The Atlantic

“Great Surprise”—Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins

Mummified Meals Studied – Archaeology Magazine

Mummy Animal FoodRichard Evershed of the University of Bristol and a team of researchers are investigating how meat products were preserved for provisioning ancient Egyptian tombs. “We’ve done quite a bit on human Egyptian mummies and even a fair bit on animal mummies. But the meat mummies…they’d been sort of left on their own,” he explained. For example, a calf and a goat leg he and his team examined with mass spectroscopy had been wrapped in bandages and smeared with animal fat. A few hundred years earlier, beef ribs prepared for Pharaoh Amenhotep III were treated with an expensive resin imported from the Mediterranean.

Look..it is a rack of Chili’s Baby Back Ribs!

And finally, with all the fuss over the new dictionary word “Selfie” I thought a couple of links regarding words would be neat…English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet – Megan Garber – The Atlantic

Skreened.com

Let’s start with the dull stuff, because pragmatism.

The word “because,” in standard English usage, is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects two parts of a sentence in which one (the subordinate) explains the other. In that capacity, “because” has two distinct forms. It can be followed either by a finite clause (I’m reading this because [I saw it on the web]) or by a prepositional phrase (I’m reading this because [of the web]). These two forms are, traditionally, the only ones to which “because” lends itself.

I mention all that … because language. Because evolution. Because there is another way to use “because.” Linguists are calling it the “prepositional-because.” Or the “because-noun.

You probably know it better, however, as explanation by way of Internet—explanation that maximizes efficiency and irony in equal measure. I’m late because YouTube. You’re reading this because procrastination. As the language writer Stan Carey delightfully sums it up: “‘Because’ has become a preposition, because grammar.”

Go and read the rest of that article, it is real interesting.

I guess you could say that Varney and his comment about women tech CEOs would be because misogyny.

What is the one word that’s the same in every language?

Huh?

Yup…

As anyone who has tried to blag a vocab test will know, words really don’t have any logic to them. You can’t just “work out” what the German word for “fridge” is. That’s because, of course, words are arbitrary. Cat (or katze or chat) only means “cat” because at some stage people came to agree that it did. Words may share roots and flit across language barriers, but because there’s such a vast number of sounds a human can make, it’s very unlikely that we’d all spontaneously come up with the same word for the same thing.

Except that, apparently, we have. That word is “huh”. According to a recent study it seems to be pretty universal. The scientists (in what sounds like an excellent idea for a research trip), recorded bits of informal language from 5 continents, and of the 31 dialects they compiled, all had this same word in common.

My first thought in reading their findings was “hmmm”. Is “huh” even a word? It seems more like an instinctive utterance – the kind of sound we make when confused. Noises of surprise or anger might be the same everywhere, but that’s because they are not really part of a language. They’re just noises.

But the researchers do a fairly good job of arguing that “huh” is, in fact, a word. It’s not involuntary, and it follows the rules of a given language: if questions are posed with rising intonation, “huh” rises too, and vice versa (it fell in two of the dialects). It is also possible for children and language learners to get “huh” wrong by using it out of context. You can’t get noises of astonishment wrong.

So why is “huh” everywhere? Here’s where the research gets interesting. “Huh”, the scientists suggest, is the only word that can do that particular job. This means you could, technically, work the word out in a vocab test. And if children were really thorough inventors of made up languages, they’d have to include “huh”.

Go figure?

There is more of course at the link. Check it out.

That is it.

Shit, almost 4:30…time does fly when it is a Wonderful Life.


Thursday Reads: Halloween History and A Little News

black-cat

Happy Halloween Everyone!!

Last year at this time, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, and this year a lesser but still “Monstrous Halloween storm” will “pelt the central US” from Texas up to the Midwest. My mom said authorities in Indiana have moved the official day for trick-or-treating to the weekend. Towns in Kentucky and Ohio are doing the same thing, according to USA Today.

Torrential rain, heavy thunderstorms and howling winds are forecast on Halloween all the way from Texas to the Midwest and interior sections of the Northeast, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Andy Mussoline.

Almost 42 million people could contend with severe thunderstorms Thursday, the Storm Prediction Center warns, with cities such as Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville and Houston all at risk.

“Damaging winds and some tornadoes will be possible with what should be a complex and potentially messy storm,” according to an online forecast from the prediction center.

“The best costume in Houston for Halloween probably involves a garbage bag to keep dry,” reports WeatherBell meteorologist Ryan Maue, who adds that it could be the wettest Halloween ever in some spots.

Read more at the link.

I have a few articles on the Halloween history and traditions for you. From National Geographic: Halloween 2013: Top Costumes, History, Myths, More.

Halloween’s origins date back more than 2,000 years. On what we consider November 1, Europe’s Celtic peoples celebrated their New Year’s Day, called Samhain (SAH-win).

On Samhain eve—what we know as Halloween—spirits were thought to walk the Earth as they traveled to the afterlife. Fairies, demons, and other creatures were also said to be abroad.

In addition to sacrificing animals to the gods and gathering around bonfires, Celts often wore costumes—probably animal skins—to confuse spirits, perhaps to avoid being possessed, according to the American Folklife Center at the U.S. Library of Congress.

By wearing masks or blackening their faces, Celts are also thought to have impersonated dead ancestors.

Young men may have dressed as women and vice versa, marking a temporary breakdown of normal social divisions.

In an early form of trick-or-treating, Celts costumed as spirits are believed to have gone from house to house engaging in silly acts in exchange for food and drink—a practice inspired perhaps by an earlier custom of leaving food and drink outdoors as offerings to supernatural beings.

Samhain was later co-opted by the Catholic Church when the Church moved “All Saints Day” from May to November 1. Scots-Irish immigrants brought Halloween customs with them to America in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Award-winning_jack_o'_lantern

The History Channel has a more detailed article on the history of Halloween:

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

On Halloween traditions in the US:

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats.

jack o lanterns1

In Europe jack-o-lanterns were made of turnips and other vegetables, since pumpkins were found only in the Americas. On the custom of “trick or treating” in the US:

The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

A few more interesting links to explore:

National Geographic: First Halloween Costumes: Skins, Skulls, and Skirts

The Boston Globe: Seven Books About the History of Halloween

Deseret News: Halloween trivia: From top costumes to carving turnips instead of pumpkins

Washington Post: It’s time to take the sexy out of Halloween and return the holiday to kids

Amanda Hess at Slate: It’s Irony, not sexy, that’s ruining Halloween

Amanda Marcotte at Raw Story: Obligatory Halloween Post On Skimpy Costumes

in other news2

In other news . . . 

In the wake of the Travon Martin killing, Sanford FL has banned neighborhood watch volunteers from carrying guns.

SANFORD — More than a year and a half after Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, the city of Sanford is making major changes to its neighborhood watch program, including banning volunteers from carrying guns while on patrol, and forbidding them from pursuing anyone in their neighborhoods.

Sanford’s new police chief, Cecil Smith, said the neighborhood watch program as it was operated while Zimmerman was part of it was dysfunctional and had no accountability.

“In this program, it is clearly stated that you will not pursue an individual,” Smith explained. “In this new program, it clearly indicates that you will not carry a firearm when performing your duties as a neighborhood watch captain or participant.”

Smith said when he took over as Sanford’s chief of police in April, the neighborhood watch program Zimmerman was part of was still operating the same way it was when he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin more than a year earlier.

Sounds like an excellent idea.

The NSA is “firing back” after an article in the Washington Post claimed that the spy agency “infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide.” From Politico:

The program, exposed through Edward Snowden’s leaks, relied on a broad, decades-old executive orderand allowed the NSA access to data-center connections in secret outside the United States, according to The Washington Post, which broke the story. Asked about the leak, Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA’s leader, said earlier Wednesday he was unaware of the Post’s report — adding the NSA is “not authorized” to access companies data centers and instead must “go through a court process” to obtain such content.

The NSA, meanwhile, emphasized it hadn’t tried to circumvent U.S. law under the executive order, known by its numerical designation, 12333. “The assertion that we collect vast quantities of U.S. persons’ data from this type of collection is also not true,” a spokeswoman said. But the NSA aide declined to discuss further whether the agency — perhaps under other authorities — had infiltrated data center connections at all.

Google and Yahoo both told the Post it hadn’t granted the NSA access to its data centers. Both companies did not immediately comment for this story.

Based on past history of Glenn Greenwald and other reporters neglecting to report that NSA surveillance requires individual warrants, I’m going to assume that this is another instance of this kind of melodramatic “reporting.” I guess it will all come out eventually, since Congress is now investigating and the drip drip drip of leaks continues.

Meanwhile, “progressives” who are panicking over NSA spying continue to ignore vitally important issues that affect millions of Americans–poverty and hunger for examples. From MSNBC: America’s new hunger crisis.

In the 22 years that Swami Durga Das has managed New York’s River Fund Food Pantry, he has never seen hunger like this. Each Saturday, hundreds of hungry people descend on the pantry’s headquarters, an unassuming house on a residential block. The first people arrive around 2 am, forming a line that will wrap around the block before Das even opens his doors.

“Each week there’s new people,” Das told MSNBC.com. “The numbers have just skyrocketed.”

The new clients are diverse—working people, seniors, single mothers—but many of them share something in common: they represent the millions of Americans who fell victim to food insecurity when the Great Recession hit in 2009, but didn’t benefit from the economic recovery.

And the worst may be yet to come.

Food activists expect a “Hunger Cliff” on November 1, when automatic cuts to food stamp benefits will send a deluge of new hungry people to places like the River Fund Food Pantry, which are already strained.

“I thought we were busy now; I don’t know what it will be like then, because all of those people getting cut will definitely be accessing a pantry,” said Das. “It definitely will be a catastrophe.”

Please go read the whole thing.

Finally, here’s an interesting article about Ted Cruz by David Denby of The New Yorker: THE MASK OF SINCERITY.

When Ted Cruz lies, he appears to be praying. His lips narrow, almost disappearing into his face, and his eyebrows shift abruptly, rising like a drawbridge on his forehead into matching acute angles. He attains an appearance of supplication, an earnest desire that men and women need to listen, as God surely listens. Cruz has large ears; a straight nose with a fleshy tip, which shines in camera lights when he talks to reporters; straight black hair slicked back from his forehead like flattened licorice; thin lips; a long jaw with another knob of flesh at the base, also shiny in the lights. If, as Orwell said, everyone has the face he deserves at fifty, Cruz, who is only forty-two, has got a serious head start. For months, I sensed vaguely that he reminded me of someone but I couldn’t place who it was. Revelation has arrived: Ted Cruz resembles the Bill Murray of a quarter-century ago, when he played fishy, mock-sincere fakers. No one looked more untrustworthy than Bill Murray. The difference between the two men is that the actor was a satirist.

Cruz is not as iconographically satisfying as other American demagogues—Oliver North, say, whose square-jawed, unblinking evocation of James Stewart, John Wayne, and other Hollywood actors conveyed resolution. Or Ronald Reagan—Cruz’s reedy, unresonant voice lacks the husky timbre of Reagan’s emotion-clouded instrument, with its mixture of truculence and maudlin appeal.

Yet Cruz is amazingly sure-footed verbally. When confronted with a hostile question, he has his answer prepared well before the questioner stops talking. There are no unguarded moments, no slips or inadvertent admissions. He speaks swiftly, in the tones of sweet, sincere reason. How could anyone possibly disagree with him? His father is a Baptist, and Cruz himself has an evangelical cast to his language, but he’s an evangelical without consciousness of his own sins or vulnerability. He is conscious only of other people’s sins, which are boundless, and a threat to the republic; and of other people’s vulnerabilities and wounds, which he salts. If they have a shortage of vulnerabilities, he might make some up.

Read the rest at the link.

Now it’s your turn. What stories are you focusing on today? And what are you doing to celebrate Halloween? Please let us know in the comment thread.