Wednesday Reads: Chairs…Chairs would be nice.


Oh, I know it is late. I spent last night…or should I say the early morning hours spying images to use for this afternoon’s post. Geez, imagine all that time being sucked into a black hole of Pinterest Far Side pins…and then realizing it is 5am and you have written nothing.

On the plus side, I do have some great cartoons for you, so enjoy those at least. (Most of them are from Gary Lawson, but there are other artist included as well…)

Now a few links,  I’m introducing this article with a clip from Absolutely Fabulous…it is a quick little bit about chairs:


Starting at the 14:31 mark, the character Catriona is giving her suggestion for a editorial in the Magazine…and she mentions “chairs”:

And chairs I thought might be interesting.
I’ve got a friend with some lovely chairs in her shop.
– Jocasta? – Yes.
She believes chairs are as important to civilisation as a masterpiece or something.
I wrote it down somewhere.
We could print that up and do some lovely photos.

And now the link:

Sitting Up: A Brief History of Chairs

A brief history of chairs.

Still from Lawrence of Arabia.

Still from Lawrence of Arabia.

There is a pivotal early scene in David Lean’s film Lawrence of Arabia in which T. E. Lawrence and his superior, Colonel Brighton, visit the desert encampment of Prince Faisal, a leader of the Arab Revolt. The royal tent is spartan yet luxurious, patterned woven cloths hang from the low ceiling, a large brass samovar gleams in the candlelight, the ground is covered with a rich carpet. There is no furniture; the men sit on the carpet. Brighton, in his tailored uniform, polished Sam Browne belt, and riding boots, looks distinctly ill at ease with his legs awkwardly stretched out in front of him. Lawrence, a lieutenant and less formally dressed, appears slightly more comfortable, with his legs folded to one side. The prince, attired in a dark robe and a white ghutrah, reclines on a pile of sheepskins, while his colleague Sherif Ali leans casually against a tent pole. The various postures cinematically underline a central point: the relaxed Bedouins are at home in this place—the desert—while the stiff English colonel is an interloper. Lawrence is somewhere in between.

The world is divided into people who sit on the floor and those who sit on chairs. In a classic study of human posture around the world, the anthropologist Gordon W. Hewes identified no fewer than a hundred common sitting positions. “At least a fourth of mankind habitually takes the load off its feet by crouching in a deep squat, both at rest and at work,” he observed. Deep squatting is favored by people in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America, but sitting cross-legged on the floor is almost as common. Many South Asians cook, dine, work, and relax in that position. Certain Native American tribes in the Southwest, as well as Melanesians, customarily sit on the floor with legs stretched straight out or crossed at the ankles. Sitting with the legs folded to one side—Lawrence’s position above—is described by Hewes as a predominantly female posture in many tribal societies.

The diversity of different postures around the world could be caused by differences in climate, dress, or lifestyle. Cold or damp floors would discourage kneeling and squatting and might lead people to seek raised alternatives; tight clothing would tend to inhibit deep squatting and cross-legged sitting; nomadic peoples would be less likely to use furniture than urban societies; and so on. But cause and effect does not explain why folding stools originated in ancient Egypt, a region with a warm, dry climate. Or why the Japanese and Koreans, who have cold winters, both traditionally sat on floor mats. Or why the nomadic Mongols traveled with collapsible furniture, while the equally nomadic Bedouins did not.

imageTake a look at the rest of that, it is interesting.

Sticking with non-Trump articles for now…BBC – Culture – The 21st Century’s 100 greatest films

The best that cinema has had to offer since 2000 as picked by 177 film critics from around the world.

That is the main link, but if you are like me you would rather read a criticism of the thing…

Here is one from TCM’s blog – The Greatest Films of the 21st Century

I suffer from chronic list fatigue, initially eager to scroll through the latest re-ordering of greatest hits, but inevitably collapse into a heap before I ingest the whole thing. Enter the BBC to test my illness. Yesterday they unveiled the results of their mammoth “Greatest Films of the 21st Century” poll, in which 177 critics submitted their top movies of the current century. It confirms that David Lynch’s  fractured, terrifying Hollywood fairy tale Mulholland Drive (2001) is the consensus film of the age. It has been topping lists of this ilk for years now, and I welcome a film so mysterious as our millennium-overlord. My narcolepsy is triggered not by the quality of the works cited, but the recycled nature of the discourse it elicits, which tends to ignore the films entirely for a “this-over-that” essentialism that reduces complicated aesthetic experiences to numbers on a list. Which reminds me, now it is time for me to reduce complicated aesthetic experiences to numbers on a list! Below you’ll find my top ten films of the 21st Century that were not included in the BBC’s top twenty five, in a modest effort to expand the conversation.

Go and check out that list, you may be surprised by what is included.

imageFrom Jezebel: 177 Critics Picked the Best Films of the Century. Guess How Many Were Directed By Women!

The BBC published its long-awaited list of the 21st century’s best films, as selected by 177 film critics from around the world. Lists like these are meant to drum up conversations and controversies, and when appearing online they’re usually the creations of a single author—a single critical mind. But the BBC has provided a decent chunk of data to supplement its numbered list, so we have a pretty good understanding of who those film critics are.

The 177 are from 36 countries, but nearly half (81) are from the US. Going down the list:

“19 from the UK, five each from Canada, Cuba, France, and Germany, and four each from Australia, Colombia, India, Israel and Italy. Lebanon, the UAE, China, Bangladesh, Chile, Namibia, Kazakhstan and many others are represented too.”

OK! Great. So they did a little work attempting to create a truly international pool of people. But what about gender? Of the 177 critics, there were 55 women and 122 are men. That’s roughly 31%, which is depressing until you look at data released earlier this summer that says women make up only 27% of film critics, at which point it becomes ever so slightly less depressing.

Similar feelings may arise when looking at the breakdown of the directors on the list. Of the 102 films (there was a three-way tie for #100), 12 (or roughly 12%) had women as directors, which is just three percentage points higher than the industry as a whole.


More at that link.

On another issue, yes I must mention the Trump campaign: Yes, CNN and ABC Really Did Live-Stream Mike Pence’s Haircut | Mediaite

It seems like only yesterday the big news in candidate’s hair was that high dollar haircut Edwards treated himself to years ago. Remember? Now, the media is fucking covering the haircuts live!

I think this politician should be running on the GOP presidential ticket…sound like he is pretty successful to me: America’s Only Dog Mayor Gets Elected to Third Term | Mental Floss

Just a few links now that may bring up your blood pressure:

WikiLeaks posted medical files of rape victims and children, investigation finds | Media | The Guardian

Why is WikiLeaks publishing private individuals’ personal information? | PBS NewsHour

imageFrench police make woman remove clothing on Nice beach following burkini ban | World news | The Guardian

‘It’s about freedom’: Ban boosts burkini sales ‘by 200%’ – BBC News

Mylan CEO saw 600% pay increase during EpiPen price raise – NY Daily News

Revealed: Zika’s damage to babies’ brains more extensive than microcephaly

At least one woman finally gets what is owed her: Homeless woman proves Social Security owed her $100,000 | Tampa Bay Times

Last for those who have the cash:

Get ready to strap Aunt Edna to the roof: the Vacation car is apparently on sale · Newswire · The A.V. Club

Everybody knows you can’t take the whole tribe cross-country without the proper chariot. And as fans of the 1980s comedy classic National Lampoon’s Vacation will tell you, there’s no holiday roadster better suited for a jaunt to road trip-purgatory than the Wagon Queen Family Truckster. Now you, too, can know the luxury of gliding across the U.S. in a dinged-up metallic pea tank—“honky lips” graffiti not included—with a Houston-based auto dealership claiming to have theVacation car on sale for a measly 40 grand.

Listed as a “1979 Ford LTD,” the car features a Walley World bumper sticker, a dog leash, and a luggage rack, perfect for transporting any late relatives you might happen to pick up (and then drop off) along the way.

(Image: Carlyle Motors)

Of course, the seller makes no guarantees that this particular extremely ugly vehicle is one of the five Trucksters used in the film, so you’ll just have to take it on faith that this isn’t one of the many replicas people have made in tribute to the movie. (To quote the listing on the collectible car marketplace Hemmings, “Although this particular car is believed to be used in the filming of the movie, there is no documentation that comes with the car.“) We’re sorry if that’s a big disappointment for you, folks. Moose out front should have told ya.

Enjoy the cartoons!


This is an open thread.

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Wednesday: Banjoville, Georgia. A microcosm of Trump Nation.

Good Afternoon

This little section of delight in the North Georgia Mountains…I’ve spoken before of the cross-section of folks who live and breed in the town of Banjoville. Simple kinds of folk, why the sign welcoming people to our county states as much:





I’ll give them the “Scenic Beauty” but as far as the “Friendly People” …that is open for debate.

I’ve noticed the Trump situation has made the bold hateful comments more mainstream. it is acceptable and standard and now common place to find this shit among the facebook pages of the typical Banjoville resident.

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(One of those comments is written by a superintendent of schools…more on that later in the post.)

But there is something more to it than all this hate, which is deep seated in the back mountain town mentality that populates so much of the nation. The Trump Nation. It is a nation that would never support a Cruz or Rubio, because when it comes down to it…they have Latino blood.

There was a tweet I saw yesterday that sums the whole thing up perfectly.


Yes, when it all comes down to it, White always wins.

And this is what I see everywhere I go in Banjoville.

A White Right Wing Christian Hate that is prejudice against any and all who is not “one of them.” Living in a town like that is hell. My family has experienced the discrimination first hand many times. To this point I bring you the reason for this post. The Trump Nation embodied in Banjoville, what does this mean for society.

We live in a town where the Sheriff’s Office is so blatant about their total embrace of the practice of Separation of Church and State. This is the painted image that greats you as you walk into the Sheriff’s Office:


It is a picture by an artist, Beth Sweigard, known for painting fetuses and a sad Jesus…


….or Jesus at the Jewish Peoples’ Wall…


When I first saw that Patriotic Jesus poster in the sheriff’s department, I immediately thought about that other spectacular artist…Jon McNaughton.


Yeah, he is the artist who immortalized Clive Bundy above as some kind of western hero for the nation….


You want a real laugh, take a look at the gallery of patriotic work here jonmcnaughton. com /patriotic/

I’ve seemed to have gotten carried away there, I need to get back to the Banjoville Sheriff Dept.

Everywhere you look there is proof that the Sheriff is a holy man, even a plaque that states he has been to church more times than any other man alive on the planet. ( I kid you not.)

Tell me that a person who is not a “real” Christian will have a equal chance at justice in that building. (The color of their skin goes without saying…back before the State of Georgia forcibly frightened all the immigrants out of town, the officers made most of their arrest by stalking the Spanish Sunday Mass up at the Catholic Church…and pulling over any car leaving the church.)

How about the fine Doctors in the area? Who proudly display their affiliation in The Oathkeepers…Oh yeah, we even have one who is a leading authority member of the affiliation. How does this affect his service to the public…the entire public. (Well, I guess since he is in private practice that is not a legitimate question, but if he is the only doctor your insurance plan accepts what then?)

Then you have the teachers and administrators at the schools, counselors who are partial to the local Banjoville White Christian. Coaches who are prejudice against players… teachers who will penalize a student if they are the wrong” color or even the wrong Christian faith. (Y’all remember Catholics are a no go as well.) This is not something made up…this really happens and it effects the future lives of students.

This is the view of a Trump Nation from my little Banjoville. The hate and bitterness is nothing new, it is just becoming bolder in its execution.

Now he’s hooked the Christian conservatives: Accept it, Donald Trump’s not fading — even more on the right are buying his snake oil –

Donald Trump might actually be able to pull it off. A new, nationwide poll from CNN/ORC shows that Trump’s lead in the Republican polls has grown even stronger going into the Iowa caucus, which kicks off the primary season. He’s reached 41 percent support amongst Republican voters, which is more than double what his closest contender, the even more ridiculous Ted Cruz, has. Even more startlingly, Trump’s supporters seem more assured of their votes than the supporters of any other candidate. It seems Trump might do what seemed to be impossible: Overcome the resistance of party leaders to grab the nomination.

…things are looking a lot better for Trump than anyone could have predicted. Part of the issue is that his closest contender, Ted Cruz, hasn’t made the progress he clearly thought he would at this late stage.

Mea culpa time. I’ve long thought that Ted Cruzhad a strong chance of knockingTrump out of the race, and that Cruz would either win the nomination or at least winnow it down so that Rubio could sneak up and grab it. In my own defense, the theory was pretty sound. I argued that Christian right voters would move away from go-nowhere candidates like Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson and coalesce behind a single candidate. It seemed that Cruz, who is an even nastier bully than Trump but speaks fluent evangelical-ese in a way that Trump can’t master, was well-positioned to suction up those Christian right voters.

The evangelicals did abandon the smaller candidates but, in a somewhat surprising twist, they flocked to Trump. Cruz’s once robust support amongst evangelicals is plummeting. He now has only 20 percent of the evangelical vote, whereas Trump has 37 percent of their support.

And now Jerry Falwell Jr. is endorsing Trump. This is doubly huge because Cruz used Liberty University, which Falwell is the president of, as the stage to announce his run for presidency. But such is the Trump-momentum that Cruz is getting left behind even by those whose support he thought he could count on.

Trump’s ability to win over evangelical voters is the surest sign yet that his campaign will not collapse as quickly as every predictive model imaginable suggested it should. Prying Christians off Trump should have been easy! He’s been married three times and literally cheated on his first wife in a church. His attempts to pretend he cares about religion have been limp and unconvincing, and yet, his base of support with evangelicals is only getting stronger.

The best explanation for why comes from Adam Lee of Daylight Atheism, who points out that “evangelicalism isn’t especially concerned with beliefs, nor has it ever has been.”

“Whether it’s Prohibition and communism, dancing and divorce, or abortion and gay marriage, evangelicals’ pet causes have changed radically over the decades,” he adds. “The issues themselves have only ever been important as a boundary marker, a way to delineate Us from Them.”

Trump fails comically to convince anyone he’s ever even cracked a Bible, he is the master at the “us vs. them” narrative. It turns out this is actually all the majority of Christian conservatives needed. All that stuff about Jesus and family values was merely window dressing. All that really matters is being told that people like them are better and more worthy than other people, and whoever can do that the most effectively — turns out that’s Donald Trump – will beat out the competition.

The us vs them….no that is not the right way…it is more like I said above, Trump pulls this “he is one of US” or “they are not one of us”… is more like the wording to me. One of Us being the key phrase. Us being only White Caucasians, accepting Jesus as your Savior kind of Christian, Us.


Anyway, that is my observations of Trump supporters, for another look, take a gander at this: The Return of the Middle American Radical An intellectual history of Trump supporters.

Trump not only got Jerry Falwell yesterday… Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. endorses Trump – The Washington Post . He also got: Sheriff Joe Arpaio to Endorse Donald Trump in Iowa – First Draft. Political News, Now. – The New York Times and today: Donald Trump wins John Rocker’s endorsement |

A long read here: How Trump Happened –

However, I think the reason Trump happened is because of the media’s lack of calling Trump out for his racism, sexism, and every other thing the bigoted asshole has done.  Of course the Media isn’t only to blame. I think the corporate powers are a YUUUUGGGEE part of the problem too.

Watch this interview from The Young Turks that touches on the media and corporate sponsors.

Oh, the other points of the interview are very well taken, but y’all get the message here.

Just take a look at the headline from The Washington Examiner: Why can’t Donald Trump handle Megyn Kelly? | Washington Examiner

WTF is that?

Maybe I am being sensitive?

Although the article is not as bad as the headline makes it…

This feud has gotten ridiculous. Republican front-runner and businessman Donald Trump is now threatening to boycott the upcoming GOP debate if host Fox News doesn’t remove Megyn Kelly as a moderator.

I don’t usually like the argument that takes the form of, “if candidate can’t stand up to X, how can they stand up to the Islamic State?” But I do wonder how Trump will be able to handle anyone as president if he can’t take the sort of pointed questions about his weaknesses that originally soured him on Kelly.

It all started last August at the first GOP debate, when Kelly asked Trump about the New York businessman’s comments toward women in the past. The question was one of the most memorable of the debate, and prompted Trump to later claim: “you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes … Blood coming out of her wherever.”

Kelly has recently poked fun at former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Trump, and hosted National Review editor Rich Lowry, whose magazine has come out against the Republican front-runner.

And here we are. This insignificant back and forth has caused Trump, for the fourth time this cycle, to threaten to boycott a debate. Trump said he would boycott two CNN debates if CNN President Jeff Zucker didn’t donate money to charity. He also threatened to pull out of the CNBC debate if the format wasn’t changed (rival Ben Carson made a similar threat as well).

This makes Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti’s statement all the more relevant: “Donald Trump is just trying to build up the audience for Thursday’s debate, for which we thank him.”

Trump is unlikely to actually boycott the debate and host his own town hall for rival networks, as he has claimed he would do. But if he has no plans to actually do this, his ongoing comments and actions toward Kelly are troubling.

How will Trump handle a hostile press if he is president? We know the press will be more harsh toward a Republican president, and that the press is especially hostile toward Trump, so will he just shut them out? And does Megyn Kelly, on a right-leaning network, really need to be public enemy number one to the Trump campaign?

I realize that this, like everything Trump does, is for attention, but it ultimately brings into question his ability to handle adversity and criticism.

That and imagine his fat sweaty fingers on the button of our nuclear arsenal.

Trump: ‘Obviously’ I Was Joking About Shooting People And Not Losing Votes

“It Was Like a Fascist Rally”: Sikh Protester Ejected From Trump Event Speaks Out

On Cruz and Rubio, Jesus thumping there way to Iowa:

Ted Cruz’s Evangelical Gamble – The New York Times

Rubio presses ‘Judeo-Christian values’ in Iowa | TheHill

Cruz’s Constant References to Jesus Drive Millions to Atheism – The New Yorker

Other links…

Trump Said He Bought Windows From China Because America’s Were Too Expensive – The Daily Beast

The Progressive Policy Donald Trump Just Embraced | ThinkProgress

Donald Trump endorses an idea liberals love: letting Medicare negotiate drug prices – Vox

Noam Chomsky Says GOP Is ‘Literally A Serious Danger To Human Survival’

As Donald Trump and Ted Cruz Soar, G.O.P. Leaders’ Exasperation Grows – The New York Times

Well what do you expect when you have GOP politicians like these:

Maine Gov. LePage: Bring back the guillotine

Racist, bigoted Facebook posts from top schools official can’t be tolerated

Leaked Documents Undermine Official Story Of Flint Water Crisis | ThinkProgress


In other news:

Denmark approves controversial refugee bill allowing police to seize asylum seekers’ cash and valuables | Europe | News | The Independent

Is the Oregon Standoff Over Yet?

Ammon And Ryan Bundy Arrested In Oregon; One Militant Dies In Shootout With Law Enforcement | ThinkProgress

After Bundy Arrest, Remaining Militia Says They Will Continue Occupation And Are Prepared To Die | ThinkProgress

Eyewitnesses Give Conflicting Accounts Of How Rancher Was Killed In Standoff

Christie ‘Glad’ That ‘Thin-Skinned’ Trump Skipping Fox News Debate


That is all, more updates and links in the comment section below.

This is an open thread y’all….

Tuesday Reads: Depression, Anxiety, and Suicide Should Be Discussed Openly

Despair, Edvard Munch

Despair, Edvard Munch

Good Afternoon!!

Sorry to be so late again. But I think I have some interesting reads for you today, so I hope some of you will be able to check them out afternoon and evening.

I’m going to begin with a sad story that happened in the Greater Boston town where I live.

On Friday, August 31, a 15-year-old high school sophomore named Jeremy Kremer-McNeil committed suicide in the basement of his home using cyanide. So far there’s been no explanation of how he obtained the chemical, but according to The Boston Globe, police suspect he may have gotten it on the internet.

A hazmat crew had to be called in to decontaminate the house before the scene could be processed by police. At first the boy’s name was not released, but his family asked that it be made public. Here is the obituary Jeremy’s family submitted to the Arlington Patch:

Jeremy A. Kremer-McNeil, 15, Had a Strong Wish to Put an End to Human Trafficking.

Kremer-McNeil, Jeremy Alexander, 15, of Arlington, died on September 4, 2015.

Jeremy is the beloved son of Amy Kremer and Taylor McNeil, and brother of Emily. He is also survived by his grandmother, Esther Kremer; aunts Betsy (Kremer) Lane and Jenny (McNeil) Foerster; uncle Randall Kremer; and many cousins.

He was and is loved deeply by all his family and so very many friends.

Jeremy had a strong wish to put an end to human trafficking. To honor his passion, and to provide lasting comfort not only to his family and friends but to others in distress, we ask that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made in his honor to The Polaris Project ( In this way, he will live on in the good that is done in the world.

Ashes, Edvard Munch

Ashes, Edvard Munch

From The Boston Globe: Arlington teen apparently consumes cyanide, spurs hazmat response.

ARLINGTON — Hazmat crews rushed to a quiet street on Friday afternoon after a 15-year-old died by apparently consuming cyanide, officials said.

Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan said near the scene on Rockmont Road that police were called to the home at about 4 p.m., after a relative voiced “concerns” about the male victim, who lived in the home.

Ryan did not elaborate on the concerns but said that officers found the victim’s body in the basement of the home, and that observations led them “to believe that the deceased may have consumed cyanide.”

As a result, Ryan said, neighbors were evacuated from their homes and a hazardous-materials crew descended on the residence to begin decontaminating the area, as well as the victim’s body.

The office of Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan said in a statement that because that because the victim’s death does not appear to be suspicious, authorities will not release his name.

I was stunned to learn that there is such a policy in place. So many young people struggle with depression and anxiety; and suicide by teenagers and even younger children is not uncommon. So why the secrecy? People who are depressed and despairing need to know they are not alone.

The Scream, Edvard Munch

The Scream, Edvard Munch

The Boston Herald reports:

The apparent suicide of an Arlington teenager who school officials identified yesterday left the town shaken as the odd way he died drew attention to a death that police said would otherwise have passed by unnoticed.

“The manner in which this young man took his life was out of the ordinary — suicide itself is a quite common occurrence for us — and typically suicide incidents or suicide are not publicized,” Arlington police Chief Frederick Ryan told the Herald. “So the general public does not realize how frequent it does occur.”

How awful. No death by suicide should “pass by unnoticed.” This is a public health problem and the public needs to be aware of how many young people commit suicide. The family did the right thing by asking that his name be released.

More from Wicked Local Arlington: Editorial: Why we haven’t eulogized AHS teen.

In a little over one month, the town of Arlington has lost three young people to untimely deaths, tearing three holes in the fabric of three families and of this community. Two, Catherine Malatesta and Katherine Wall, were felled by aggressive cancers. The third, Jeremy Kremer-McNeil, killed himself in his parent’s basement using cyanide.

The deaths of Malatesta and Wall received significant coverage in these pages, yet the passing of Kremer-McNeil is only lightly covered. Does the manner of his death cheapen the life of a 15-year old cruelly taken from us? Is he suddenly undeserving of the same public mourning this paper has afforded his peers?

Suicide is undeniably a public health issue in the Commonwealth.

In MA, suicide was listed as the cause of death in 624 cases in 2012, the most recent year for which data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is available. On top of those 624 suicides, 4,258 people were hospitalized with self-inflicted injuries in Massachusetts in 2012, and the counseling hotline Samarateens responded to 187,849 crisis calls in that same year. As shocking as those numbers may seem, our overriding responsibility as a media outlet is to cover the broader issue of suicide, and not its individual instances.

Weeping Nude, Edvard Munch

Weeping Nude, Edvard Munch

By the way, there was a time when cancer deaths were hushed up as if somehow shameful or distasteful. I clearly recall when the mother of one of my high school classmates died very young of cancer. Her cause of death was whispered among the other students, but didn’t appear in her obituary.

Wicked Local’s explanation for the lack of press coverage:

Most responsible media outlets are mindful of the possibility that the greater the coverage and the more explicit the information published about a suicide attempt, the greater the risk is that the a suicide will be imitated. Research by psychiatric epidemiologist Madelyn Gould at New York City’s Columbia University shows that media attention around a peer’s suicide can make teens more vulnerable to killing themselves. Her research, as reported by NPR in 2009, showed that the increase in suicides following a suicide story is proportional to the amount, and the duration, and the prominence of the coverage of the initial event….

Despite the very public nature of Friday’s suicide, many aspects of this case are acutely private. In covering all tragedy, journalists must balance a family’s need for respect and privacy with the importance of the event. Those are pressures we feel even more acutely at The Advocate. The people we cover are not anonymous. They are our neighbors. In this case, we believed and continue to believe that the former definitively outweighs the latter.

Is this really a good policy? Are these media and law enforcement policies common around the country? Wouldn’t the suicide of a young person in a community be an appropriate time to educate residents, reach out to other local depressed young people, find ways to help them, rather than hush the suicide up and let depressed youngsters think they are alone in their struggles?


I only wish someone had been able to reach out to Jeremy and help him get past whatever he was going through. Sometimes just a hug or an empathetic listener can be a step toward deciding to stay alive.

I know something about this, because I was very depressed when I was Jeremy’s age, and I frequently considered suicide. Somehow, I always talked myself out of it and was able to go onward. I have struggled with depression for most of my adulthood also. I became an alcoholic through my attempts at self-medication. Now as a senior with more than 30 years of sobriety, I expect to take an antidepressants for the rest of my life. Over the years, I have learned may tools for dealing with my depression, but I know that I must be “ever vigilant”–as they say in A.A.–because I have a chronic illness that is both physical (highly genetic) and emotional.

I’d be very interested in learning what our readers think about the issue of media and law enforcement silence when people kill themselves.

Of course it isn’t just high school students who suffer from depression and anxiety. For most of each year, the Boston area has a massive population of college students, and the local papers usually run lots of back-to-school stories in September. This year the Globe is focusing on mental health issues among college students.

From yesterday’s Globe: College kids are sad, stressed, and scared. Can their counseling centers help them?

When Ramya Babu thinks about her freshman year at Boston University, she remembers the day she stood alone in her dorm room and screamed in anguish.

Babu had been thrilled to start college. But just a few weeks into the school year, she began to feel like the world around her was simultaneously spinning too fast and leaving her dizzy, but also moving too slow in a way that made her feel like her loneliness and anxiety would never end. All of the overwhelmed emotions she had tried to suppress caught up to her, making her cry out in pain.

Frantic, Babu called a friend from home, who suggested she see someone at BU’s counseling center.

A counselor at BU’s behavioral medicine center diagnosed her with both depression and an anxiety disorder. Each week, at her appointments, Babu would talk through her feelings and concerns with her counselor and leave feeling like she had strategies that would help her survive.

But at the end of the semester, after only eight sessions, her counselor handed her a referral sheet and told her this would be their final meeting. She would have to find a new therapist.

“I had no idea what to do,” she said. “I felt like the support in the referral process was next to non-existent. I know they have a limited number of therapists, but this is a college campus with a mental health center and there I was trying to negotiate with outside practitioners I knew nothing about.”

Melancholy, Edvard Munch

Melancholy, Edvard Munch

When I was teaching at Boston University, I often talked to students who had terrible problems; many were obviously depressed and anxious. I always tried to listen to and empathize with the problems they shared, but there was little more I could do. I knew about the short-term counseling available at BU and most other universities, and always thought it was terribly inadequate. More from the Globe article:

From today’s Globe: ‘I didn’t need to pretend anymore:’ the fading stigma of mental illness at college.

Wendy Chang’s friends could recognize her laugh from a distance. Even if they didn’t see her right away, they knew from the boisterous sound that echoed down Harvard’s hallways that Chang would soon appear, her head thrown back and nose scrunched up with mirth.

Lanier Walker thought Chang’s constant laughter was a sign that she was happy. But Walker later learned that Chang hid what pained her most. The 22-year-old Harvard senior hung herself in her dorm room in 2012.

Walker was shocked and horrified that the life her friend lived didn’t match the image that she portrayed. Then she realized that her friends and peers didn’t know much about her own personal struggles, either.

Walker decided to take action.

After another Harvard student died by suicide in the spring of 2014, Walker felt overwhelmed by the need to do something. She wrote an op-ed for The Harvard Crimsoncalled “We Need to Talk” about her own struggles with depression and anxiety. By her sophomore year, Walker was having four to five anxiety attacks a week.

“Harvard doesn’t always make it easy to talk about ourselves,” she wrote. “It’s a place that demands perfection, and as a result, we feel compelled to present perfect versions of ourselves. We don’t talk about what’s really going on.”

Walker’s letter ended with a call to her peers to start talking, and to let others know they were around to listen. After the letter was published, she needed to take her own advice.

Read the rest at the Globe link.

Self Portrait in Bergen, Edvard Munch

Self Portrait in Bergen, Edvard Munch

I’ll end with this Globe article from May of this year: Parents of teen track star who took her own life: ‘It’s okay not to be okay.’

Madison Holleran was a track star at the University of Pennsylvania. She was smart. She was beautiful. She was loved. Her posts on Instagram depicted the kind of life that you looked at and wondered why yours wasn’t nearly as perfect.

But it wasn’t perfect. On January 17, 2014, Madison Holleran lept off the ninth floor of a parking garage and died. She was 19 years old.

“There are moments when the Hollerans are chasing the ‘why,’ still,” said Kate Fagan, who wrotethe in-depth article about Holleran’s life and death forESPN magazine’s May issue.

“Every time I talked to them, it came back to, ‘The reason we’re talking about it is because we wanted to let people know it’s okay to not be okay.’”

Those are such wise words! Yes, it is “okay to not be okay.” We need much more public discussion of depression and anxiety in this country. These illnesses–and they are illnesses–should be discussed openly. Of course the U.S. doesn’t have anything approaching a good system to address mental health problems either, and that has to change. If suicides are hushed up, that is not going to happen. The public needs to know the extent of the problem and the public needs to be the catalyst to bring out change.

The Wave, Edvard Munch

The Wave, Edvard Munch

I have a few more interesting stories to share–I’ll just give you the headlines and links and I hope you’ll check them out.

First, here’s an important story from the Winnipeg Free Press that Dakinikat linked to in a comment yesterday. I thought it deserved more prominent placement. It’s an edited interview with Jane Goodall in which she discusses climate change denial, research myths, and animal rights: Jane Goodall remains a road warrior for the planet.

A long article at The Atlantic that I haven’t read yet: The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration, by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

From The National Memo: Endorse This: Look, It’s Super-Jeb! by Eric Kleefeld.

Vanity Fair: NetJets Pilots Ask for Better Pay for Flying Millionaires.

Mitch Albom at The National Memo: Tape Tells Story In James Blake Arrest Case.

A terrifying case of race profiling that hasn’t gotten much attention: Kamilah Brock: Woman held in mental health facility because police didn’t believe BMW was hers.

What stories are you following today?

Thursday Reads: “Stop The World; I Want To Get Off”

 cat-readingGood Morning!!

It’s just one thing after another these days. I’m all stressed out again, because my mother broke her clavicle and I need to get out to Indiana ASAP. Unfortunately, I also have to go to the dentist this afternoon and then I have to figure out what to do about the jury duty I committed to in October, get the car checked out, and pack. On top of that my car is due for an inspection sticker at the end of October. I’ll have to try to figure out if I’ll be back here by then or whether I should get the inspection done early.

Anyway, I’m hanging in there, realizing that my problems are nothing compared to so many other people in this crazy world. So what’s happening out there this morning?

Donald Trump continues to dominate the media. The good news is if they’re focusing on him, they can’t beat up on Hillary Clinton at the same time–or can they?

Trump’s misogyny knows no end–yesterday he turned his attention to fellow GOP candidate Carly Fiorina. From Ken Walsh’s Washington at U.S. News:

Another day, another insult from Donald Trump – and still another feud in the making.

This time, the Republican presidential front-runner belittled former business executive and presidential competitor Carly Fiorina, who has been making gradual progress in the polls but still lags behind Trump in the GOP race.

Rolling Stone magazine reports that Trump was watching Fiorina recently on a television newscast, in the presence of Rolling Stone reporter Paul Solotaroff, when the billionaire real-estate developer said, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”

Trump added: “I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”

Watching Trump run for president is like watching a 5-year-old boy act out with no restraints.


The Guardian reports on Fiorina’s response: 

Fiorina, speaking on Fox News to Megyn Kelly – who has also been targeted by Trump – said she considered his remarks to be “very serious”.

She added: “Maybe, just maybe, I’m getting under his skin a little bit because I am climbing in the polls.”

Trump has forged a consistent lead in polling for the Republican candidacy, with former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Fiorina considerably further behind, polling in single figures.

Maybe. Or maybe Trump is just a gigantic asshole. He also attacked Ben Carson and tried without success to defend his comments about Fiorina. From The Washington Post: 

Carson attacked Trump in unusually sharp terms yesterday, seeming to question his faith. On Thursday, Trump went after Carson’s energy level — and played down his medical accomplishments, saying he was only an “okay doctor” (Carson was the first neurosurgeon to separate conjoined twins attached at the head.)

“He makes [Jeb] Bush look like the Energizer bunny,” Trump said on CNN Thursday morning. “Who is he to question my faith? … When he questions my faith, and I’m a believer big-league in God, the Bible…I will hit back for that.”

“He was a doctor… perhaps an OK doctor,” he also said, adding that “Ben Carson will not be the next president of the United States.”

Trump’s comments, which are the most aggressive he has made about Carson, come less than a day after the retired surgeon pointed to his faith when asked what he believes to be the biggest difference between himself and Trump.

“The biggest thing is that I realize where my success has come from, and I don’t any way deny my faith in God,” Carson Wednesday night. “And I think that probably is a big difference between us.”


Can you imagine having a president who says things like “I’m a believer big-league in God?” Is this really happening? On Fiorina:

Trump defended his comments on Fox News Thursday morning, dismissing the notion that he was talking about Fiorina’s physical appearance.

“Probably I did say something lik that about Carly,” Trump said. “I’m talking about persona. I’m not talking about look.”

So criticizing a woman’s face is not about her appearance? Yeah, right. Not much of defense. But the media won’t hold Trump accountable no matter what he says.

Meanwhile traditional conservative pundits profess to be utterly mystified by Trump’s success in his “campaign” so far. Brian Beutler at The New Republic: Donald Trump’s Biggest Conservative Enemies Helped Create Him.

Donald Trump’s durable lead in Republican primary polls, and improving approval ratings, continue to befuddle people who ought to have better insight into the state of the conservative mind. Writing for National Review, Jonah Goldberg and Charles C.W. Cooke have each diagnosed Trumpism as a failing of the conservative voters who comprise Trump’s base.

Cooke believes that Trump “has succeeded in convincing conservatives to discard their principles,” begging the question of whether Trump’s supporters ever really shared the principles that animate conservative organizations and National Review writers. Goldberg insisted that “no movement that embraces Trump can call itself conservative,” which helped give rise to #NRORevolt, an online backlash, thick with white nationalists and other conservatives who are fed up with elites who try to write non-conformists—from moderates to protectionists to isolationists to outright racists—out of the movement.

The anti-tax group Club for Growth is a big part of that purification apparatus. It is currently organizing and raising money for an effort to excise Trump before his view that hedge fund managers should pay their fair share in taxes metastasizes through the Republican primary field.

Republican consultant Steve Schmidt, who presumably sympathizes withNational Review and Club for Growth, described their frustrations as the described their frustrations as the result of a fatal disjunction between mass conservatism and the ideology that’s supposed to underlie it. “We’re at this moment in time,” Schmidttold NPR recently, “when there’s a severability between conservatism and issues. Conservatism is now expressed as an emotional sentiment. That sentiment is contempt and anger.”

This explains Trump’s rise and persistence, but fails to account for how“contempt and anger” became such valuable currency in Republican politics today. That omission is predictable, because such an accounting would implicate nearly everyone who now claims to be astonished and dismayed by the Trump phenomenon.

Read the rest at TNR.


A couple of weeks ago, I made a resolution that I would read Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog and Peter Daou and Tom Watson’s #HillaryMen blog every day. I’ve been doing it, and the effort has been paying off in terms of maintaining my equilibrium in an insane media atmosphere.

Silver had a nice, level-headed post on Trump and Bernie Sanders yesterday: Stop Comparing Donald Trump And Bernie Sanders.

A lot of people are linking the candidacies of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump under headings like “populist” and “anti-establishment.” Most of these comparisons are too cute for their own good — not only because it’s too earlyto come to many conclusions about the campaign, but also because Trump and Sanders are fundamentally different breeds of candidates who are situated very differently in their respective nomination races.

You can call both “outsiders.” But if you’re a Democrat, Sanders is your eccentric uncle: He has his own quirks, but he’s part of the family. If you’re a Republican, Trump is as familial as the vacuum salesman knocking on your door.

Silver lists 7 differences between the two candidates–check them out at the link.


And from #HillaryMen, another sensible post: The Sad, Sisyphean Struggle of Hillary Haters.

Writing for Politico, Jack Shafer explains why he thinks “Being a Clinton apologist is a hard life.”

Which got us thinking: what must it be like to be a die-hard Hillary hater? Obsessing over one of the most accomplished and resilient public figures on the planet? How depressing and demoralizing is it to latch onto fabricated scandal after fabricated scandal, only to have every one fade away?

How frustrating is it to expend so much time and mental energy bashing, bashing, bashing, only to have Hillary come back stronger than ever?

And how awful is it to be on the wrong side of women’s history, to help reinforce the gender barrier that prevents women and girls from realizing their full potential?

We’re not talking about fair-minded critics and principled political opponents. They have every right to disagree with Hillary and to dislike her if they’re so inclined. We’re talking about haters, people who have a pathological need to savage Hillary. People who make an industry of their hate.

Think of the self-righteous rants on Morning Joe, the seething vitriol of Maureen Dowd, the feverish swamps of rightwing trolls. Think of the reporters and pundits who mindlessly repeat Rove-funded frames and narratives, hoping to taint Hillary’s public image, to sully her character. Think of the Republican and conservative operatives who have tried in vain for more than two decades to silence her.

Go over to #HillaryMen to read the rest.


As a bonus, here’s a nice column by Brent Budowsky at The Hill: Big truths about Hillary.

In olden days, great columnists such as Walter Lippmann and James “Scotty” Reston would periodically step back and put great events into perspective.

As America’s summer of political discontent and distemper ends, and as Americans shift from the fun of enjoying our favorite political performer to the mission of selecting our next president and as a pope of epochal significance prepares to address a joint session of a vastly unpopular Congress, let’s look at matters from a larger perspective.

It is revealing that while GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump gets a pass from many in the media for repeated comments that were verbally abusive toward women, the candidate who would be the first female president, Hillary Clinton, is treated like a pinata by pundits on television news — which, according to Gallup, is one of the least trusted institutions in America.

When Clinton stands with virtually all of America’s democratic allies by forcefully supporting a plan to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and stands with Pope Francis in support of treating refugees and immigrants humanely, she is acting like a stateswoman, commander in chief and humanitarian.

Meanwhile, the policies of GOP presidential candidates would leave Lady Liberty crying in New York Harbor as the pope arrives in America.

It is a big truth that Clinton would be the first female president, an achievement equal in historic magnitude to President Obama becoming our first black president.

If she is elected, moms and dads from Topeka to Tangiers will be telling their daughters that they too can achieve anything if they work hard and dream big.

By contrast, the Republican front-runner describes moms and daughters as fat pigs, dogs, slobs, disgusting animals and bimbos.

More big truths at the link. The piece is well worth reading.


A bit more news, links only:

Japan Today: More than 100,000 flee floods in eastern Japan; 7 missing.

New York Daily News Exclusive: James Blake, former tennis star, slammed to ground and handcuffed outside midtown hotel by white NYPD cops who mistook him for ID theft suspect. Baltimore police arrest pastor a week after Gray protests.

The Daily Beast Exclusive: 50 Spies Say ISIS Intelligence Was Cooked.

Politico: David Brock: The New York Times has ‘a special place in hell.’

Gawker: Reporter Claims He Was Fired for Asking Louisiana Senator David Vitter About His History With Prostitutes.

CNN: Homo naledi: New species of human ancestor discovered in South Africa.

National Geographic: This Face Changes the Human Story. But How?

What else is happening? Please Share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a nice Thursday.

Lazy Saturday Reads: Why Won’t The Witch Just Quit?


Good Afternoon!!

Hillary Clinton and her emails are turning into Whitewater 2. Is it possible she could really be brought down by this non-scandal? The scare headlines in the right wing media (which in this case apparently includes The New York Times, and Al Jazeera) are so over-the-top as to be laughable; but it appears that lots of low-information voters are buying into the lies.

To show what we’re going to be dealing with, I’ve illustrated this post with examples of ugly, misogynist images of Hillary from the right wing media.

Examples culled from the many scare stories:

Observer, The Countless Crimes of Hillary Clinton: Special Prosecutor Needed Now, by Sidney Powell.

After years of holding herself above the law, telling lie after lie, and months of flat-out obstruction, HIllary Clinton has finally produced to the FBI her server and three thumb drives. Apparently, the server has been professionally wiped clean of any useable information, and the thumb drives contain only what she selectively culled. Myriad criminal offenses apply to this conduct.

Anyone with knowledge of government workings has known from inception that Hillary’s communications necessarily would contain classified and national security related information. Thanks to the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community, it is now beyond dispute that she had ultra-Top Secret information and more that should never have left the State Department.

Equal to Ms. Clinton’s outrageous misconduct is that of the entire federal law enforcement community. It has long chosen to be deliberately blind to these flagrant infractions of laws designed to protect national security—laws for which other people, even reporters, have endured atrocious investigations, prosecutions, and some served years in prison for comparatively minor infractions.

It’s high time for a special prosecutor to be named to conduct a full investigation into Ms. Clinton’s likely commission of multiple felonies, including a a conspiracy with Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, and possibly others, to violate multiple laws.

Can you believe that? Meanwhile, the media largely ignores the actual indictments of Scott Walker and Rick Perry for corruption in office.


Here’s good old Michael Schmidt at The New York Times, FBI Tracking Path of Classified Email from State Department to Hillary Clinton (I’ve highlighted significant facts scattered through the propaganda).

WASHINGTON — F.B.I. agents investigating Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private email server are seeking to determine who at the State Department passed highly classified information from secure networks to Mrs. Clinton’s personal account, according to law enforcement and diplomatic officials and others briefed on the investigation.

To track how the information flowed, agents will try to gain access to the email accounts of many State Department officials who worked there while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, the officials said. State Department employees apparently circulated the emails on unclassified systems in 2009 and 2011, and some were ultimately forwarded to Mrs. Clinton.

They were not marked as classified, the State Department has said, and it is unclear whether its employees knew the origin of the information.

The F.B.I. is also trying to determine whether foreign powers, especially China or Russia, gained access to Mrs. Clinton’s private server, although at this point, any security breaches are speculation.

As usual in the NYT, Clinton is disrespectfully referred to as “Mrs. Clinton” rather than “former Secretary of State Clinton” or “former Senator Clinton.”

Hillary the movie

Patty Culhane at Al Jazeera, Hillary Clinton and the tale of two phones.

It was supposed to be so much easier for Hillary Clinton.

She had years to prepare for her moment. She had the team in place, the money raised and the vast network of supporters that is the back bone of team Clinton. They’ve run for president a combined three times, so they know what they are doing.

But her falling poll numbers are now inviting serious competitors to think about jumping into the race for the Democratic nomination. So what happened? Simply, it’s the tale of two phones.

When she was secretary of state, Clinton says she simply didn’t want to carry two phones. She chose to use a private server stored in her New York home instead of the official government email.

That is highly unusual. The reason it usually isn’t done is pretty simple: the general practice is that all government records are kept by the government.

That way, if a Congressional Committee or a journalist wants to look into what their officials are doing, they can request and sometimes get the records. In later years, they will be used by historians.

Except it’s not unusual, and Clinton’s records will be available in the future, unlike Colin Powell’s, which he ordered destroyed when he left the State Department.

Oh, and Patty? No one with a brain ever expected anything to be easy for any woman running for president, let alone Hillary.


Meanwhile, back in the reality-based universe, Hillary Clinton is not a target of the FBI investigation and she did nothing illegal, even though the media is trying to pretend that she did.

Bradley Klapper and Ken Dilanian, AP EXCLUSIVE: Top secret Clinton emails include drone talk.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Neither of the two emails sent to Hillary Rodham Clinton now labeled by intelligence agencies as “top secret” contained information that would jump out to experts as particularly sensitive, according to several government officials.

One included a discussion of a U.S. drone strike, part of a covert program that is widely known and discussed. A second conversation could have improperly referred to highly classified material, but it also could have reflected information collected independently, U.S. officials who have reviewed the correspondence told The Associated Press.

Still, it’s looking increasingly likely the issue of whether Clinton mishandled classified information on her home-brew email server will have significant political implications in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Clinton, who has been seen from the outset as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, agreed this week to turn over to the FBI the private server she used as secretary of state. And Republicans in Congress have seized on the involvement of federal law enforcement in the matter as a sign she was negligent in handling the nation’s secrets.


Again, these emails were not marked classified, and Clinton didn’t send them.

While neither of the emails was marked classified at the time they were sent, they have since been slapped with a “TK” marking, for “Talent Keyhole,” suggesting material obtained by spy satellites. And they also were marked “NOFORN,” meaning information that can only be shared with Americans with security clearances.

The two emails got those markings after consultations with the CIA and other agencies where the material originated, officials said. Some officials said they believed the designations were a stretch — a knee-jerk move in a bureaucracy rife with over-classification.

The officials who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity work in intelligence and other agencies. They wouldn’t detail the full contents of the emails because of ongoing questions about classification level.

Clinton didn’t transmit the sensitive information herself, they said, and nothing in the emails she received makes direct reference to communications intercepts, confidential intelligence methods or any other form of sensitive sourcing.

Even more laughable, the “drone discussion” was about a published news story.

The drone exchange, the officials said, begins with a copy of a news article about the CIA drone program that targets terrorists in Pakistan and elsewhere. While that program is technically top secret, it is well-known and often reported on. Former CIA director Leon Panetta and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, have openly discussed it.

The copy makes reference to classified information, and a Clinton adviser follows up by dancing around a top secret in a way that could possibly be inferred as confirmation, the officials said. Several people, however, described this claim as tenuous.

Based on this garbage, Republicans in Congress, with the help of the corporate media are trying to get Hillary out of the race for the Democratic nomination.


And get this, Donald Trump says he thinks Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee and he (Trump) will be running against him in 2016.

Talking Points Memo, Trump: I Expect To Face Joe Biden In The General Election.

Trump told the conservative news site that Clinton’s private email server use was worse than Gen. David Paetreus sharing classified information with the woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair.

“It just looks like Hillary is going to not be able to run. It looks to me like that’s what’s going to happen,” Trump told Breitbart. “I think it’s unlikely if you look at what she’s done. What she’s done is ten times worse than what General Petraeus did—far more sensitive documents, top-of-line sensitive documents, far more of them.”

Um . . . no. But apparently Joe Biden is the candidate Trump and Breitbart hope the Democrats will nominate. Gee, I wonder why?

HillaryWitch (1)

Last night Hillary joked about the non-scandal in a speech in Iowa. She also addressed the Benghazi “investigation.”

ABC News, Hillary Clinton Pokes Fun at Email Scandal During Wing Ding Dinner in Iowa.

Democratic presidential candidateHillary Clinton poked fun at her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state while at a dinner in Iowa Friday.

“You may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account,” she said at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Wing Ding Dinner. “I love it. I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves.”

Clinton made the remarks to a packed room of 2,100 at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, as she and four of her rivals for the Democratic nomination appeared. Her remarks came amid a federal investigation into the use of the private server and whether classified information was emailed from her private account….

Clinton also offered a fiery defense against Republican attacks that she compromised national security by using a private server. She said Republican criticism over her email use and her handling of the Benghazi attack in 2012 was rooted in political posturing, not concern over national security.

“It’s not about Benghazi. You know what? It’s not about emails or servers either,” she said. “It’s about politics.”

I don’t know how all this will end. I just know that the 2016 presidential campaign is going to be hatefest that will eclipse anything we saw in 2008 and 2012. The nerve of that woman thinking she could be President of the United States!

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread, and have a nice weekend.

Thursday Reads: A Mixed Bag of News

Girl reading on a stone porch, by Winslow Homer

Girl reading on a stone porch, by Winslow Homer

Good Morning!!

The images in this post are from the blog, Reading and Art. I don’t have any central theme this morning, just a mixed bag of news stories. beginning with damaging explosions in Tianjin, China.

CNN reports, Tianjin blasts: Dozens dead; areas of Chinese port city devastated.

You can see the devastation everywhere: in the hollowed out shells of barely-standing buildings, in the anguished faces of relatives waiting for news of loved ones, in the parade of scorched cars.

But what was it that set off the terrifying blasts that ripped through warehouses housing hazardous chemical materials, sending fireballs shooting across the sky and shaking tall buildings more than 2 miles away?

Hours later, amid the destruction in this northern Chinese port city of more than 13 million, the exact cause remained unclear.

A thick chemical odor hung in the air. Fires still burned in the waterfront industrial district where the explosions went off. And the grim toll kept mounting.

At least 44 people are confirmed dead, 12 firefighters among them, officials said Thursday. More than 500 are hospitalized, 52 with severe injuries. Dozens of firefighters are missing.

Local authorities suspended firefighting efforts Thursday because of a lack of information about the “dangerous goods” stored at the warehouse at the heart of the blasts, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

CNN has dramatic photos at the link. A few more stories on the disaster:

Vice News: Video Emerges of Horrific Tianjin Explosion as Death Toll Rises.

USA Today, 12 firefighters among 50 dead in Chinese port city explosions.

This is a developing story, and it sounds like the death toll is likely to rise.

Girl reading under an oak tree, by Winslow Homer

Girl reading under an oak tree, by Winslow Homer

You’ve probably heard by now that Jimmy Carter has cancer that has spread from his liver to other organs.

Washington Post, Former president Jimmy Carter, 90, announces that he has cancer.

Former president Jimmy Carter announced Wednesday that he has cancer and will be undergoing treatment at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta.

Carter, 90, said the disease was discovered during recent liver surgery to remove “a small mass” and that the cancer “is now in other parts of my body.”

“I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare,” Carter said in a statement on the Carter Center Web site. “A more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.”

In a statement, President Obama said he and first lady Michelle Obama wished Carter “a full and fast recovery.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with [wife] Rosalynn and the entire Carter family as they face this challenge with the same grace and determination that they have shown so many times before,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House. “Jimmy, you’re as resilient as they come, and along with the rest of America, we are rooting for you.”

The president also spoke with Carter on Wednesday evening to wish him “full and speedy recovery” and extended best wishes on behalf of himself and first lady Michelle Obama, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

According to NBC News, Carter said “a more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.”

Sunlight and shadow, by Winslow Homer

Sunlight and shadow, by Winslow Homer

Sweden has dropped some of its charges against Julian Assange.

Wall Street Journal, Sweden Runs Out of Time on Parts of Assange Probe.

STOCKHOLM—Swedish prosecutors on Thursday ran out of time to pursue two of four investigations into allegations of sexual assault against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning.

Prosecutors said that probes into suspected unlawful coercion and sexual molestation would be dropped as the five-year limit that Swedish law allows for such charges to be brought has come to an end.

The five-year deadline for a second count of sexual molestation will be reached Aug. 18, prosecutors said. If the statute of limitation on that allegation also comes into effect, Mr. Assange would be left facing a single, more serious accusation of rape, over which prosecutors have until 2020 to question him….

Mr. Assange was accused of the crimes by two women during a visit to Sweden in August 2010. Prosecutors requested Mr. Assange return to Sweden from the U.K to face questioning.

The WikiLeaks founder, who denies the crimes, refused to return to Sweden, saying he feared he would extradited from Sweden to the U.S. where he could face trial over the publication by WikiLeaks of classified U.S. documents.

Assange says he is disappointed, according to BBC News.

The Wikileaks founder said he was “extremely disappointed” and said the Swedish prosecutor had avoided hearing his side of the story….

He sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, fearing he would then be sent to the US for questioning about the activities of Wikileaks.

Under Swedish law, charges cannot be laid without interviewing the suspect.

Mr Assange said he was innocent and claimed prosecutors had refused to visit him at the embassy.

They also refused to promise not to send him to the US if he were to go to Sweden, he said.

Mr Assange said: “I am strong but the cost to my family is unacceptable.”

The new novel, by Winslow Homer

The new novel, by Winslow Homer

In clown car news, Mike Huckabee said some more insane things about Planned Parenthood and abortion.

Talking Points Memo, Huckabee: DOJ Should ‘Criminally Prosecute Planned Parenthood.’

“I would also invoke the 15th and Fourteenth Amendments,” he said on Wednesday. “This is the power that we have to stop this incredible, barbaric scourge of abortion. Not just stop funding Planned Parenthood, but we need to invoke the Fifth and 14th Amendment. The Fifth Amendment guarantees due process for every person. The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law for every person.”

Huckabee said that he believes that unborn children are people, guaranteeing them Fifth and 14th Amendment rights.

“I would take that position. I would act on behalf of those unborn children, and I would let those who want to slaughter babies, those who want to sell their body parts, let them sue me,” he said.

In response, Melissa McEwan writes:

Again, this is less like chipping away at Roe and more like taking a bulldozer to it.

I have said many times (for instance) that fetuses are valued more highly than the people who carry them, that the potential life of every fetus is more important than the actual life of a pregnant person. Never has this been more clear.

If Mike Huckabee, or any of his fellow Republican candidates, had their way, fetuses would have not equivalent rights, but more rights than any pregnant person.

Protip, Huckabee: “Slaughtering babies” is already against the law.

The country school, by Winslow Homer

The country school, by Winslow Homer

CNN reports on a study showing that kids in elementary school are getting crushing amounts of homework.

Kids have three times too much homework, study finds; what’s the cost?

The study, published Wednesday in The American Journal of Family Therapy, found students in the early elementary school years are getting significantly more homework than is recommended by education leaders, in some cases nearly three times as much homework as is recommended.

The standard, endorsed by the National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association, is the so-called “10-minute rule” — 10 minutes per grade level per night. That translates into 10 minutes of homework in the first grade, 20 minutes in the second grade, all the way up to 120 minutes for senior year of high school. The NEA and the National PTA do not endorse homework for kindergarten….

Parents reported first-graders were spending 28 minutes on homework each night versus the recommended 10 minutes. For second-graders, the homework time was nearly 29 minutes, as opposed to the 20 minutes recommended.

And kindergartners, their parents said, spent 25 minutes a night on after-school assignments, according to the study carried out by researchers from Brown University, Brandeis University, Rhode Island College, Dean College, the Children’s National Medial Center and the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.

Homer, Winslow 6

That is ridiculous and harmful. Children at younger ages learn far more from play and interacting with other kids than from regimented school assignments.

“It is absolutely shocking to me to find out that particularly kindergarten students (who) are not supposed to have any homework at all … are getting as much homework as a third-grader is supposed to get,” said Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, the contributing editor of the study and clinical director of the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.

“Anybody who’s tried to keep a 5-year-old at a table doing homework for 25 minutes after school knows what that’s like. I mean children don’t want to be doing, they want to be out playing, they want to be interacting and that’s what they should be doing. That’s what’s really important.”

The Pope is coming to the U.S., and one of his stops will be at a jail in Philadelphia.

Reuters: At drab Philadelphia jail, anxious times precede papal visit.

One of 17 stops on the pope’s first U.S. tour, the visit to the inner-city jail is a reminder of the emphasis the Argentine pontiff has placed on social justice issues since being named head of the Roman Catholic Church in March 2013.

The pope’s stop at the Philadelphia facility will be the latest in a series of prison visits by Francis, an outspoken opponent of the death penalty and lengthy prison terms. He has counseled teenagers in juvenile detention in Brazil. In Bolivia, he kissed inmates in the country’s most violent prison.

His visit also comes at a time when a growing number of Democrats and Republicans are questioning tough criminal sentencing policies that have left the United States with the highest incarceration rate in the developed world. Barack Obama, who last month became the first sitting U.S. president to tour a federal penitentiary, has called for legislation overhauling sentencing rules.

Advocates for prisoner rights say they are pleased the pope has decided to put the issue on his agenda during the U.S. tour, which will include attending a conference on family life in Philadelphia, plus stops in Washington and New York.

Morning glories, by Winslow Homer

Morning glories, by Winslow Homer

I was going to write about Hillary and the media’s obsession with her emails, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, here’s an inspirational piece from Peter Daou and Tom Watson at #HillaryMen.

Hillary’s Path to History Will Get Much Rougher and She’s Ready.

There is a manic urge among the media, the GOP and the elite commentariat to Stop Hillary – to block a woman from reaching the pinnacle of American political leadership.

Each poll, news story or issue that appears to harm her is seized upon with a strange combination of desperation and glee. It’s an unsavory process but Hillary knew what she was in for when she decided to seek the presidency a second time.

As #HillaryMen, we’re undaunted by the negative stories, unwavering in our support for Hillary and unyielding in our commitment to help smash the ultimate gender barrier.

Ending a 44-0 shutout that has lasted nearly a quarter millennium was never going to be easy. There is no cakewalk to the White House. And certainly not for a woman.

We’ve worked in politics and media for nearly two decades. Peter is a veteran of two presidential campaigns, including Hillary’s 2008 run. We’ve seen every permutation of every attack, every rise and fall in the polls, every gaffe and every zinger, every debate moment and debate aftermath, every nervous election night and every election surprise.

We know what lies ahead for Hillary’s campaign and we realize there will be times when the obstacles seem insurmountable. They are not.

For all practical purposes, the 2016 race is just getting underway. As the first summer of the campaign winds down, the rhetoric heats up and political prognostications start climbing in pitch. The fall frenzy begins in a matter of weeks.

I plan to head over to #HillaryMen every time I get angry and/or anxious about something written or said about her in the media. In case you haven’t read it yet, here’s a link to “The Facts about Hillary Clinton’s Emails” at her campaign website.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread, and enjoy your Thursday.

Monday Reads: Cosby and Crimes Against Women and Children


Good Morning!!

New York Magazine’s latest cover features 35 women who say they were drugged and sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby. At the moment the link to the “13-page photo essay” is unavailable–apparently the site has crashed.

From The Guardian: Bill Cosby accusers detail trauma and betrayal in magazine.

Thirty-five women who have accused Bill Cosby of raping them have spoken out in an explosive photo essay for New York magazine. More than 40 women have so far accused the comedian of sexual assault, but the cover story represents a sea change in how the comedian’s alleged victims have been publicly perceived.

On Sunday, the magazine published excerpts of interviews with each woman for a 13-page photo essay, covering accusations they have made against the comedian and the backlash they have faced.

“Listen, he was America’s favorite dad,” saidBarbara Bowman, who says she was raped as a 17-year-old actress. She made her case public in 2004, when testifying on behalf of Andrea Constand, who said she was also one of Cosby’s victims.

“I went into this thinking he was going to be my dad,” Bowman told the magazine. “To wake up half-dressed and raped by the man that said he was going to love me like a father? That’s pretty sick.

“It was hard for America to digest when this came out. And a lot of backlash and a lot denial and a lot of anger.”

Inside Higher Ed reports: Spelman Discontinues Cosby Professorship.

Spelman College announced Friday that it is discontinuing an endowed professorship named for Bill Cosby and his wife. “The William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship at Spelman College has been discontinued and related funds have been returned to the Clara Elizabeth Jackson Carter Foundation,” said a statement from the college. A spokeswoman declined to comment further. Bill and Camille Cosby are major donors to Spelman and an academic building is named for Camille Cosby. The Clara Elizabeth Jackson Carter Foundation was created by Bill Cosby to provide grants to historically black colleges.

The hardest thing for many people to understand about this is the way Camille Cosby has stood by her husband through the many years it has taken for this entire ugly business to play out. Was she simply in denial? Was she reluctant to give up the money and fame that came with being the wife of a powerful man? We may never know, but she was apparently an active force in her husband’s defense.

Bill and Camille Cosby

Bill and Camille Cosby

From the July 12 New York Post: Bill Cosby’s wife says accusers ‘consented’ to drugs and sex.

Bill Cosby’s wife knows her husband is a serial philanderer, but believes his scores of accusers consented to drugs and sex, two confidants of the couple say.

Last week’s revelation that Cosby admitted during a deposition that he intended to ply women with Quaaludes before bedding them barely fazed Camille Cosby, the ­insiders told The Post.

“Camille still doesn’t believe that Bill provided drugs and had sex with women without their consent,” said a source employed by the Cosby family. “She’s well aware of his cheating, but she doesn’t believe that her husband is a rapist.”

Mrs. Cosby is “a proud, dignified but stubborn woman. You can say that she’s standing by her husband, but really, the more people stand against him, the more she perceives it as an affront to her and all that she’s done to make him a star,” said another source who’s done business with the ­Cosbys and remains close to them.

Camille Cosby, 71, who is also her 78-year-old husband’s business manager, demanded last week at a crisis meeting with advisers that their lawyers and p.r. specialists “get back out in front of this,” the business source said.

“I created him, I knew what I was getting and we’ll fix this,” she told the gathering at a meeting at the couple’s Shelburne Falls, Mass., home Tuesday night.

There’s more disgusting stuff at the link. According to the Post’s sources, Camille was also angered that longtime Cosby defenders have been changing their positions in light of recent revelations.

At Refinery 29, Kelsey Miller argues that women like Dottie Sandusky (wife of convicted child rapist Jerry Sandusky) and Camille Cosby can be simultaneoursly enablers and victims.

The Complicated Case Of Camille Cosby.

It is easy and tempting to make assumptions about Camille Cosby. “That poor woman,” some say. “That idiot,” say others. And, to some, she is “that monster.” Pity or vilification are the textbook responses to spouses in these cases. Watching and waiting for Camille’s next move, I’m reminded of last year’s TODAYinterview with Dottie Sandusky (wife of Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who in 2012 was found guilty of sexually abusing 10 boys)….

Last week, The New York Post shared a widely reported story that Camille (also her husband’s business manager) had held a crisis meeting with Bill’s team to discuss damage control. “I created him. I knew what I was getting, and we’ll fix this,” she was quoted by a source as having said. It was also alleged that she referred to the “infidelities” as an embarrassment she’d long since reconciled herself with, and emphasized them as just that — affairs, and not assaults.

Of course, reports like this should be taken with a hefty handful of salt, but it’s worth noting that Camille’s supposed remarks are certainly in keeping with Cosby’s own in the deposition. Both reveal the kind of psychological gymnastics that allow someone to leap over the evidence at hand — to find acceptable, ordinary dalliances where many would see something much more sinister….

To believe that Camille Cosby is an evil, calculating accomplice to the crimes her husband’s been accused of would be to ignore the possibility that she’s just another victim of those same alleged crimes.

Conversely, to believe that Dottie Sandusky is merely a naive grandma would be to ignore the magnificent power of deliberate denial. We know nothing of the internal lives of these women, nor can we speak to the dynamic of their marriages. Is it likely they knew of their husbands’ actions? Certainly. It is just as likely that they were subject to manipulation and abuse themselves.

The point being: One does not cancel out the other. It’s a cognitive dissonance that neither mainstream media nor its consumers can seem to resolve. We want clear answers and archetypes, and instead we’re stuck with real people, none of whom are entirely good or entirely monstrous.

I suppose Miller has a point, but it’s difficult for me to have much sympathy with either of these enabling wives. Each of these women appear to have actively covered up their husbands’ criminal behavior and allowed these men to damage the lives of so many young men and women.

Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland

Also in the news . . .

CBS Local 11: History Of Racial Tension Where Bland Died.

Waller County was named for Edwin Waller, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico in 1836, who four years later became the first elected mayor of Austin. Whites make up 44 percent of the 47,000 residents, Hispanics 29 percent and blacks 25 percent.

First settled in the early 1820s, the area became home to slave-labor cotton plantations. Hempstead was incorporated in 1858 thanks to a railroad terminus.

The plantations were dismantled with the end of the Civil War in 1865. Three years later, historical records report a race riot, followed by unrest in the 1880s, when a White Man’s Party was established to blunt active black political participation in the county where blacks outnumbered whites.

That’s when violence blamed on the Ku Klux Klan and other extremist groups gave it the “Six Shooter” sobriquet.

More recently, voter intimidation and voting-rights complaints have arisen from students at Prairie View A&M University, a college established in 1876 specifically to train black teachers.

The complaints led to a federal lawsuit. The district attorney at the time, in 2004, reached a settlement and apologized. But the issue resurfaced only two years later and again in 2008, when additional early voting sites in the county were established only after federal pressure.

“There’s a lot of prejudice going on,” said Eugene Hood, citing a history of police harassment as he cut hair at Chad’s Barber Shop on University Drive, just south of where Bland was arrested outside the main entrance to the university.

Marie Armstrong of Dallas, a Prairie View senior, remembers being pulled over and ticketed for a broken brake light and being forced to go court. She wished police would exercise some judgment.

More at the link.

A courageous woman who killed a man who was beating and trying to strangle her may have rid the world of a dangerous serial killer. David Lohr at Huffington Post:  Neal Falls, Man Killed By Escort, Had Cache Of Weapons And List Of Prostitutes, Police Say.

Neal Falls, the man shot to death by a prostitute after he attacked her on Saturday, had a cache of weapons and a list of online escorts inside his vehicle, police said Wednesday.

The items, as well as statements the woman said Falls made to her, led police to suspect he may have been involved in other unsolved crimes.

“He had a machete, shovel, two axes, a bunch of knives, a double-headed ax, a bulletproof vest, numerous sets of handcuffs, as well as the firearm used to kill him,” Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston, West Virginia, police department, told The Huffington Post.

Police also found a list containing the names of an unspecified number of women inside the man’s vehicle.

Photo of Neil Falls surrounded by photos of the "murder kit" police found in his car. (Source: Huffington Post)

Photo of Neil Falls surrounded by photos of the “murder kit” police found in his car. (Source: Huffington Post)

More details from a previous report by Lohr:

The man…was shot and killed in Charleston, West Virginia, on Saturday, according to WCHS-TV. The incident reportedly occurred after he met a female escort through, an online classified ad portal that is often used by men seeking prostitutes.

“The details that we’re able to release right now are that there was a struggle … that the man had beaten and strangled the woman and gotten her onto the ground, laid the gun down as he was dragging her back through the house, and she was able to pick the gun up and fire over her shoulder blindly, and the bullet did strike the man, killing him,” Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper told the Charleston Gazette on Saturday.

Police in nearby Chillicothe, OH, are looking into the possibility that Falls could be responsible for the disappearances of 6 Ohio women.

“We are in communication with Charleston regarding that situation,” Bud Lytle, a spokesman and crime prevention officer for the Chillicothe Police Department, told The Huffington Post. “Obviously, it’s not a great distance from us and it involved a prostitute and an individual known to pick up prostitutes.”

Falls, who was originally from Oregon, is also be investigated by authorities in Nevada, according to Lohr: Neal Falls Investigation Expands To Las Vegas-Area Dismemberments: EXCLUSIVE

“We received information that caused a conversation to take place between us and law enforcement in Henderson, Nevada,” Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston, West Virginia, police department, told The Huffington Post on Thursday.

Cooper said he couldn’t discuss specific cases Nevada authorities are now looking into because the investigation “is ongoing and we don’t want to risk comprising [sic] it.”

The FBI also is investigating, a law enforcement source told The Huffington Post on Friday. A spokesman didn’t immediately answer a request for comment.

CBS News: Woman who killed alleged serial killer recounts final fight.

Falls was answering an online ad for an escort, police said, when he showed up to a Charleston, West Virginia, home.

The woman, who wants only to be known as “Heather,” answered the door.

She said Falls, armed with a gun, asked her: “live or die?” Then he started choking her.

“When he strangled me, I grabbed my rake, and when he laid the gun down to get the rake out of my hands, I shot him,” Heather said. “I grabbed the gun and shot behind me.”

Heather ran out of the house and flagged down a neighbor, who called 911. The neighbor said she “had to defend herself,” and she had “cuts and stuff all over her.” ….

Police are not charging Heather for the shooting, which they say was in self-defense. “I knew he was there to kill me,” Heather said.

See a video of Heather describing her ordeal at WCHS ABC Local 8.

This turned into a post about crime, but–as I have written previously–for me rape and sexual assault are political issues. Crimes against women and children are often ignored and covered up in our society, with the media as enabler.

Movie shooter John Russell Houser

Movie shooter John Russell Houser

Just take a look at Dakinikat’s post from yesterday. She points out that the media are largely ignoring the fact that Louisiana mass shooter John Russell Houser specifically targeted women who were watching a movie created by a feminist.

So, let me address the mainstream media and police confusion about Houser’s “choices” of victim.  These are the same groups of people that rarely address the daily violence against and murder of women by the men in their lives. This is from a blog that tracks and monitors male misogyny called “We Hunted the Mammoth”. The author is David Futrelle.

Police in Lafayette, Louisiana are evidently struggling to understand why the outspokenly misogynistic, racist and anti-Semitic John Russell “Rusty” Houser murdered two women and wounded 9 other moviegoers at a showing of “Trainwreck,” a film written by and starring Amy Schumer, a feminist comedian with a Jewish father, known for joking frankly about sex.

Please check out Dak’s post if you haven’t read it yet.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a nice Monday.