Posted: January 17, 2017 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, Media, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Civil Rights Movement, Donald Trump, John Lewis, psychopathy, Russia, Vladimir Putin
John Lewis (right) marching from Selma to Montgomery with Dr. Martin Luther King and other Civil Rights leaders.
As we approach the dark day when tRump will take the oath of office, my feeling of living in an apocalyptic scifi novel grows ever stronger. How can this be happening?
This morning marks day 4 of tRump’s attacks on civil rights hero and member of Congress John Lewis; and over in Russia, Vladimir Putin went on state TV to defend his puppet from American criticism
Bloomberg: Putin Says Doesn’t Believe Trump Met Prostitutes in Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he doesn’t believe that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump met with prostitutes in Russia, calling the accusations part of a campaign to undermine the election result.
Unsubstantiated allegations made against Trump are “obvious fabrications,” Putin told reporters in the Kremlin on Tuesday. “People who order fakes of the type now circulating against the U.S. president-elect, who concoct them and use them in a political battle, are worse than prostitutes because they don’t have any moral boundaries at all,” he said.
Putin said that Trump wasn’t a politician when he visited Moscow in the past and Russian officials weren’t aware that he held any political ambitions. It’s “complete nonsense” to believe that Russian security services “chase after every American billionaire,” he said.
The Kremlin has denied that it holds any compromising material on Trump after U.S. intelligence officials informed the president-elect about unsubstantiated reports that Russia had compiled potentially damaging personal information on him….
Trump is “a grown man, and secondly he’s someone who has been involved with beauty contests for many years and has met the most beautiful women in the world,” Putin said. “I find it hard to believe that he rushed to some hotel to meet girls of loose morals, although ours are undoubtedly the best in the world.”c
Well I guess that settle that then . . . not. Does Putin actually think he’s helping tRump or is he trying to undermine his chosen POTUS? Who knows? Can anyone recall a foreign dictator defending an U.S. president-elect before?
20 May 1961, Montgomery, AL, two battered Freedom Riders, John Lewis (left) and James Zwerg (right) stand together after being attacked and beaten by pro-segregationists in Montgomery, Alabama. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
Putin may be defending tRump, but he has already rejected the president-elect’s offer to remove sanctions on Russia in return for reductions in their nuclear arsenal. Radio Free Europe reports:
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters at the United Nations in New York on January 16 that Moscow was willing to talk to the United States about nuclear disarmament, but it was not going to discuss arms control as part of a deal to lift sanctions.
“Sanctions are not a subject for dialogue,” Ryabkov said. “We have never discussed any criteria for the listing of sanctions and are not doing it now. All these sanctions were introduced under contrived and illegitimate pretexts.”
Ryabkov said Russia was open to discussion on the subject of curbing nuclear arms, but stressed that Moscow would not make concessions on arms in exchange for the United States lifting sanctions.
“Without dialogue nothing will happen at all, but it would be too naive to think Moscow would change its [defense posture] for that or other reasons,” Ryabkov said.
Meanwhile back in the USA, tRump appears to be the least popular president-elect in history, according to two new polls.
CNN: CNN/ORC Poll: Confidence drops in Trump transition.
Donald Trump will become president Friday with an approval rating of just 40%, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll, the lowest of any recent president and 44 points below that of President Barack Obama, the 44th president.
Following a tumultuous transition period, approval ratings for Trump’s handling of the transition are more than 20 points below those for any of his three most recent predecessors. Obama took the oath in 2009 with an 84% approval rating, 67% approved of Clinton’s transition as of late December 1992 and 61% approved of George W. Bush’s transition just before he took office in January 2001.
Trump’s wobbly handling of the presidential transition has left most Americans with growing doubts that the President-elect will be able to handle the job. About 53% say Trump’s statements and actions since Election Day have made them less confident in his ability to handle the presidency, and the public is split evenly on whether Trump will be a good or poor president (48% on each side).
The President-elect dismissed the poll findings on Twitter: “The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls. They are rigged just like before.”
John Lewis, beaten during Selma to Montgomery march.
The Washington Post: Here’s just how brutal Donald Trump’s pre-inauguration poll numbers are, in context.
Donald Trump will take the oath of office as the most unpopular president in at least four decades, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Just 40 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Trump right now. A majority — 54 percent — have an unfavorable one.
And that probably undersells just how historically unpopular our new president is right now. The only reason we can’t go back further than four decades is because we simply don’t have the data; polls weren’t as plentiful back then.
The data we do have suggest most every non-Trump president experienced an outpouring of goodwill in the two months between their election and their swearing in. Trump just hasn’t gotten it.
The pre-inauguration favorable numbers for the six presidents to come before him, in fact, were all significantly higher than their share of the popular vote. For Obama, it was 26 points higher (79 percent favorable versus 53 percent of the vote). Every other recent president except Ronald Reagan was at least double-digits higher — as much as 28 points for Jimmy Carter. (Reagan’s was 7 points higher.)
The favorable rating for Trump, meanwhile, is actually six points below his vote share (46 percent).
More results from the poll at the WaPo link above.
Another shot of John Lewis during the Selma to Montgomery march.
The New York Daily News reports that scalpers are losing money on Inauguration tickets.
Donald Trump will take office as one of the most unpopular President-elects in recent history — and even scalpers may feel the pain.
Some flippers, who acquired tickets to Trump’s inauguration with the intent of reselling them on the secondary market, are striking out in their efforts to peddle them and are now looking at some relatively “yuge” losses.
Yossi Rosenberg, 36, of upper Manhattan, told the Daily News he bought a pair of tickets to Friday’s Washington, D.C. event from a woman in Westchester County for $700, thinking he could flip them for at least twice as much.
“Nobody wants to buy them,” Rosenberg told The News. “It looks like I’m stuck with them, I might even have to go.”
As tRump would say, “Sad.”
It’s difficult to see how tRump’s attacks on John Lewis could be helping him. Petula Dvorak at The Washington Post: Where was Donald Trump when John Lewis was fighting for civil rights? Let’s compare.
We can start in 1960, when Trump was 14 and Lewis was 20. They both clearly showed their leadership potential early.
At New York Military Academy in Cornwall, N.Y., Donald Trump won a “neatness and order medal.”
That same year, John Lewis became one of the original 13 Freedom Riders, defying laws that prohibited blacks and whites from sitting next to each other on public transportation.
Three years later in 1963, man-of-action Trump led his private school’s white-gloved drill team in the Columbus Day parade in New York. But he was also removed from that drill team command, classmates said, because he hazed younger students.
That same year, Lewis helped organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and spoke alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
In 1965, Trump got his second Vietnam draft deferment as a Fordham University student.
In 1965, on a day that became known as Bloody Sunday, Lewis helped lead 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. When the marchers stopped to pray, they were tear-gassed and beaten by troopers. Lewis’s skull was fractured.
In 1973, Trump’s actions got him sued by the Department of Justice. He was managing his dad’s properties and wouldn’t rent apartments to African Americans. The Trumps eventually settled the lawsuit without any admission of wrongdoing.
That same year, John Lewis was running the Voter Education Project, which pushed to register minority voters across the country.
John Lewis, with bandaged head sits next to MLK during press briefing.
Trump owned the ’80s, right? His actions that decade?
In 1981, Trump bought a 14-story building facing New York City’s Central Park and began a campaign to drive out the rent-stabilized tenants so he could begin gutting and renovating the building. According to lawsuits, Trump cut heat and water to the remaining tenants.
In 1981, John Lewis was elected to the Atlanta City Council.
In 1987, Trump’s book, “The Art of the Deal,” became a bestseller. Action? He didn’t even write it; talk about talk talk talk. And his ghostwriter, Tony Schwartz, now regrets the picture he painted of Trump in that book.
In 1987, Lewis was elected to Congress.
The truth is that tRump likely had no idea who John Lewis was; and after someone told him he still didn’t feel any shame. Psychopaths don’t feel shame like normal people do.
At The National Memo, Froma Harrop has some good advice for the media: treat him like a toddler. Too bad they probably won’t listen.
Dog trainers have long advised owners against reacting to their pets’ attention-seeking antics — the barking, jumping and pushiness.
“Dog owners often inadvertently reinforce (reward) these behaviors by interacting with the dog,” writes veterinary behaviorist Lisa Radosta. “Any attention can be regarded as a reward, even yelling.”
Similar advice is doled to parents of whining, tantrum-throwing toddlers. Many in the media could use it, as well. All that sputtering over Donald Trump’s personal taunts and stupid tweets is exactly what the president-elect seeks. Turn away. Turn away.
If Trump won’t take questions from serious journalists at a news conference, it’s not a news conference. Reporters are merely playing “straight man” on a reality TV show — complete with paid hecklers and promotions for Trump properties. They don’t have to be there.
Their job is to cover what Trump does, which includes his appointments and ties to foreign adversaries. If Trump publicly insults U.S. or foreign leaders, that’s still news. If he insults newspeople, so what?
Unfortunately, most in the “thin skinned” media will probably be more upset by his attacks on them than by his policies.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great Tuesday!
Posted: August 24, 2016 Filed under: 2016 elections, Journalism, Media, Mid Day Reads, open thread, Political and Editorial Cartoons, the GOP, The Media SUCKS, U.S. Politics, Women's Rights
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.
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.
Take 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 moviemorlocks.com – 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.
From 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
French 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.
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.
Posted: September 15, 2015 Filed under: health, Health care reform, health hazard, Media, Mental Health, morning reads | Tags: Boston University, college students, cyanide, Harvard University, high school students, Suicide, US health care system
Despair, Edvard Munch
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 (www.polarisproject.org). In this way, he will live on in the good that is done in the world.
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. Work injury lawyers in phoenix AZ were immediately consulted and hired for their cause.
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 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
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
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
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
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?
Posted: September 10, 2015 Filed under: Media, misogyny, morning reads, Surreality, The Media SUCKS, U.S. Politics | Tags: Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton
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.
Chron.com: 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.
Posted: August 15, 2015 Filed under: 2016 elections, Democratic Politics, Discrimination against women, Media, misogyny, morning reads, Republican politics, The Media SUCKS, The Right Wing, U.S. Politics | Tags: Hillary Clinton
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.”
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.
Former reality television star and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump toldBreibart News on Thursday that he doesn’t expect Hillary Clinton to make it to the general election.
Instead, the GOP frontrunner answered Breitbart’s question about whether he expects to face Vice President Joe Biden, who has not announced a run for the Democratic nomination, despite reports he is considering it.
“I think so,” Trump responded, according to Breitbart.
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?
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.
Posted: August 13, 2015 Filed under: Crime, Criminal Justice System, education, Media, misogyny, morning reads, Republican politics, The Media SUCKS, U.S. Politics | Tags: abortion, China, elementary school, GOP Clown Car, Hillary Clinton, homework study, Jimmy Carter, Julian Assange, Mike Huckabee, Planned Parenthood, play, Tianjin explosions, Wikileaks
Girl reading on a stone porch, by Winslow Homer
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.
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
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
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
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.’
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Wednesday laid out how he would tackle Planned Parenthood without the support of Congress if he were elected president.
When asked on about Iowa radio host Simon Conway about Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood after an anti-abortion group released numerous edited videos about the women’s health organization, Huckabee said he would use the Justice Department.
“I would have a Justice Department that would begin to criminally prosecute Planned Parenthood for violating federal law and selling body parts,” Huckabee told Conway….
“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
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.
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
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.