Open Thread: End-of-the-Year Lists, 2011

First Night ice scupture, Boston, Jan 1, 2012

The new year always brings with it lists of the most, the best, the worst of the previous year. And of course the lists of people who are no longer with us. Here’s a sampling of lists from around the internet.

There’s the NYT list of the top ten best books of 2011 based on their 100 notable books list.  First is The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, and second is Stephen King’s book on the Kennedy assassination, 11/22/63.

The New Yorker has a list of the best films of last year. They liked Scorsese’s children’s movie Hugo best. Here’s a list (very different) from Rotten Tomatoes. They also liked a children’s movie, The Muppets.

Here’s a list of some of the famous people who died in 2011 (compiled from various lists around the ‘net)

Anne Francis
Dana Wynter
Jack LaLanne
Jane Russell
Elizabeth Taylor
Sidney Lumet
Peter Yates
Jackie Cooper
Harmon Killebrew
Phoebe Snow
David Nelson

James Arness
Jeff Conaway
Arthur Laurents
Jack Kevorkian
Clarence Clemons
Gil Scott Heron
Randy Savage
Peter Falk
Amy Winehouse
Bubba Smith

Cliff Robertson
Andy Rooney
Anne McCaffrey
Ken Russell
Joe Frazier
Dorothy Rodham (Hillary’s mom)
Betty Ford
Harry Morgan
Vaclav Havel
Al Davis
Steve Jobs
Tim Hetherington (photographer, died in Libya)
Christopher Hitchens
Kim Jong-Il
Osama bin Laden


Who did I leave out?

What about the worst political gaffes of 2011? The Week has a list. Not surprisingly, Republican presidential candidates hold several places on the list. Number one was from Michele Bachmann:

1. Michele Bachmann: The Founding Fathers “worked tirelessly” to end slavery
In January, the Minnesota congresswoman said “we know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.” Then in June, Bachmann doubled down on her claim that the slave-owning authors of the Constitution worked to end slavery, citing the efforts of John Quincy Adams — who was 9 when the Declaration of Independence was signed. “I hate to be a stickler for reality,” said Steve Benen at Washington Monthly, but “to use the possible beliefs of a 9-year-old boy as evidence that the Founding Fathers ‘worked tirelessly to end slavery’ is simply absurd on its face.”

Which political gaffe was your favorite? I’d have to go with Herman Cain not knowing anything about Libya or Rick Perry not knowing the names of the cabinet posts he wants to eliminate.

Neutrinos

At Wired, there’s a list of the top scientific discoveries of 2011. Number one, was faster-than-light neutrinos, a discovery that most scientists dismissed. Another biggie was learning that we all have Neanderthal DNA. And of course there was the possibly earth-like planet that could support life. Check them out!

I’ll end with this one. At the Daily Beast I learned that Boston was America’s drunkest city in 2011. They list the top 25. The number two drunkest city is also in Massachusetts–Guess which one, Pat? Springfield! Interestingly, most of the drunkest cities seem to be in cold-weather areas.

What interesting end-of-year lists have you seen over the past few days? Please share. Or talk about any old thing you want.

                          
HAPPY NEW YEAR, SKY DANCERS!!!!


Happy New Year…2012!

Happy New Year!

New Year 2012, Sydney, Australia. Click this image for more pictures from Sydney Harbour.

Aren’t those fireworks fantastic?

Here is a video of New Year’s Eve 2012: Celebrations around the world!

Personally I can’t believe that Dick Clark is still alive…technically…and actually hosted the Rocking New Years Eve 2012 in New York’s Time Square.

And since some feel that 2012 will bring about the end of the world…here is a brilliant cartoon from Angel Boligan, El Universal, Mexico City.

Of course, my guess is Dick Clark will still exist in some form or another…along with Dick Cheney, who relies on Darth Vader technology to keep his heart pumping.

Mayan Calendar End of the World

Mr. Fish's Cartoon

Well, my response to this Mayan Prediction…

“I will survive!”

Performed by Gloria Gaynor and the ladies from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

I’m sending out a big New Year’s Kiss and Hug to all of you!

X & O

May everyone have a wonderful and safe night…


Thursday Reads: the Winter Solstice, the Mayan Calendar, “the Kamikazes,” and More

Newsstand in Copley Square, Boston

Good Morning!!

I have a mix of news links for you this morning, but nothing too terribly depressing. As I told you Tuesday, I’ve got a bit of Christmas overload, plus I’ve had a flu bug for a few days. So lets’ start out on a positive note.

Today at 12:30AM ET was the Winter Solstice, and therefore today is the shortest day of the year. That means in a few weeks, it will get dark in the Boston area around 4:30PM instead of 4:00. Right now, twilight begins about 3:30PM. I am so looking forward to longer days. From the WaPo:

If you pay attention to these things, you’ll notice a lag of a few weeks between the time the sun begins to set later in the day and the time it rises earlier. But the 22nd is, nonetheless, in the northern hemisphere, our shortest day, and the one in which the sun hoists itself the most miserly distance above the horizon. To top it off, the daily rate at which the sun sinks lower in the sky has been slowing, until it stops. Hence the word solstice, which means that the sun “stands still.”

It’s only for a theoretical instant, of course, but it can often seem, during these days of dark and cold, as if life itself has ground to a halt. Gardening can take place in the jewel boxes of our cold frames and greenhouses, but with growth so slow that there is little for you to do. The hibernation practiced by some creatures starts to seem like a great idea, and the southern migration of others a possible plan.

Not surprisingly, the human celebrations held in this season are full of light, whether it’s from Hanukkah candles, bonfires or sparkly tinsel draped over trees. You can almost understand why people light up their lawns with electrified reindeer. The longer the nights and the greater the inactivity they foster, the more we need our spirits lifted.

The LA Times has a story about Wiccan celebrations of the Soltice.

“People are celebrating the solstice more than ever in recent memory,” said Selena Fox, who isn’t just any Wiccan priestess. She’s a psychotherapist and the founder of Wisconsin’s Circle Sanctuary, a nonprofit Wiccan church and, according to its website, a 200-acre nature preserve….

Solstice is “widely celebrated today by Wiccans, druids, heathens and other pagans; by indigenous peoples practicing traditional ways in Africa, Asia, Polynesia, Australia, Europe and the Americas; by environmentalists and astronomers; by secular humanists and Freethinkers; by eco-Christians and those of other religions and philosophies,” Fox told The Times in an interview Wednesday….

Humankind has been “observing solstices for thousands of years,” Fox said, but the celestial events have become even more of the moment. Why? Because this is an “age of climate change and a need to have sustainability on the planet,” she said, so it makes sense that a holiday that has “connecting with the cycles of nature” at its core would become popular.

And of course that is why the mythic birth of Jesus was set on December 25, to symbolize rebirth and light coming back to the world. In pagan terms, the birth of the new sun. Here’s a video of the Solstice celebration at Stonehenge in 2009.

One year from now, the 2012 Winter Solstice will mark the end of the Mayan calendar, and we’ll probably have to deal with all kinds of apocalyptic prediction about what is going to happen next. NASA has a page debunking the idea that the end of the world is coming on December 22, 2012. Of course the maniacs in Washington DC might do something that would cause the end of the world as we know it. Let’s hope not.

Yesterday, Dakinikat had a post on John Boehner’s payroll tax fiasco. First Boehner said the House would agree to a 2-month extension of the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits, as passed by the Senate. Then suddenly Boehner announced that Republicans wouldn’t vote for the compromise bill–now they wanted a year’s extension or nothing. WTF?!

At the Daily Beast, Patricia Murphy claims to provide the inside story on what happened.

What happened between Boehner’s agreement to follow the Senate’s lead and his tacit admission that his own caucus had overruled him? Aides and House members describe a now-infamous caucus conference call Saturday morning, when rank-and-file members blasted the Boehner-blessed deal, which they felt gave in on too many of their demands and delivered too little in return.

A closed door meeting Monday night revealed more doubts from conservatives over whether Boehner had pushed for the best deal they could have gotten and fueled Democratic frustration that Boehner, who they believe negotiated in good faith, simply cannot speak for his caucus anymore. The debacle capped a tumultuous year for the speaker, reigniting questions about how much longer he can lead the unwieldy GOP coalition, many of whose members clearly have no interest in following him where he wants to go.

Publicly, Boehner and House Republicans presented a united front this week, blaming President Obama for shortening a tax cut they say they have wanted to pass all along. But Democrats blamed a group of Republicans they’ve dubbed “the kamikazes,” the GOP freshmen who arrived in January on a wave of Tea Party anger and have shown time and again that they are willing to blow up their careers and everything around them in service to their cause.

The kamikazes’ casualty list this year is long. They blew up the debt-ceiling vote this summer, sparking a downgrade in the nation’s credit rating. They blew up the appropriations process so thoroughly that routine spending votes morphed into philosophical standoffs that nearly locked down the federal government three times and required seven temporary funding patches just to keep the lights on. And this week, they managed to blow up not just a tax cut that nearly everyone in Washington agrees is a good idea, but also their party’s hard-earned reputation for cutting taxes and, quite possibly, their chances at a long-term majority in the House and future control of the Senate.

Talk about self-immolation! In the meantime, questions are being asked about Boehner’s leadership.

At ABC’s The Note, Jonathan Karl is predicting the Republicans will fold. We’ll see. President Obama is really good at finding ways to give in to the Congressional terrorists. Maybe someone can distract him long enough to let this play out without his intervention.

Also at the the Daily Beast, there’s a creepy, yet semi-humorous story about local cops being militarized by the Department of Homeland Security, this time in my birthplace, the quiet little city of Fargo, North Dakota.

Nestled amid plains so flat the locals joke you can watch your dog run away for miles, Fargo treasures its placid lifestyle, seldom pierced by the mayhem and violence common in other urban communities. North Dakota’s largest city has averaged fewer than two homicides a year since 2005, and there’s not been a single international terrorism prosecution in the last decade.

But that hasn’t stopped authorities in Fargo and its surrounding county from going on an $8 million buying spree to arm police officers with the sort of gear once reserved only for soldiers fighting foreign wars.

Every city squad car is equipped today with a military-style assault rifle, and officers can don Kevlar helmets able to withstand incoming fire from battlefield-grade ammunition. And for that epic confrontation—if it ever occurs—officers can now summon a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. For now, though, the menacing truck is used mostly for training and appearances at the annual city picnic, where it’s been parked near the children’s bounce house.

“Most people are so fascinated by it, because nothing happens here,” says Carol Archbold, a Fargo resident and criminal justice professor at North Dakota State University. “There’s no terrorism here.”

Read it and weep. If Fargo has that much military hardware, imagine what they’ve got in NYC, Chicago, and LA! Police State Amerika is here.

At the NYT, Charlie Savage reports on the Justice Department settlement with Bank of America over discrimination in mortgage lending by Countrywide.

The Justice Department on Wednesday announced the largest residential fair-lending settlement in history, saying that Bank of America had agreed to pay $335 million to settle allegations that its Countrywide Financial unit discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during the housing boom.

A department investigation concluded that Countrywide loan officers and brokers charged higher fees and rates to more than 200,000 minority borrowers across the country than to white borrowers who posed the same credit risk. Countrywide also steered more than 10,000 minority borrowers into costly subprime mortgages when white borrowers with similar credit profiles received regular loans, it found.

Now how about putting some banksters in jail for bringing down the economy? Not holding my breath, but at least BOA has to cough up some bucks.

Newt Gingrich has been accused of illegally profiting from his presidential campaign.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich became the target on Monday of a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint filed by the non-profit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which accused the Georgia Republican of illegally profiting off his campaign.

The complaint is based on a revelation by The Washington Post‘s Dan Eggen, who discovered that Gingrich had personally sold a mailing list to his campaign and profited to the tune of $47,005, then failed to report the transaction on a key FEC document. That’s count one, according to CREW.

That mailing list did not belong to Gingrich personally, CREW said. It instead belonged to Gingrich Productions, Inc., a private business that sells Gingrich’s books. Since he paid himself instead of Gingrich Productions, CREW alleged that a second count of using campaign money for personal expenses is called for as well. The treasurer who signed off on the deal is also accused of violating campaign finance laws.

CREW explained in their complaint (PDF) that Gingrich Productions often stages events at the same time as Newt 2012, Inc., his non-profit group and principal campaign committee, which could constitute improper corporate contributions to a political campaign in that the campaign directly benefits from Gingrich Productions’ events.

It goes on to note that the mailing list Gingrich moved from his book company to his campaign was actually a list of people who were waiting at Gingrich events to have their books signed, showing even further how Gingrich Productions and Newt 2012 work in tandem to help each other.

Whoopsie! Everybody’s out to get Newt these days. I’d love to see him end up in jail along with some banksters, but again–not holding my breath.

As you’ve all heard, Ron Paul stalked off the set of an interview at CNN yesterday after he was asked about some racist passages in newsletters he published years ago. But USA today has caught Paul in a serious contradiction about those writings.

Rep. Ron Paul has tried since 2001 to disavow racist and incendiary language published in Texas newsletters that bore his name, denying he wrote them and even walking out of an interview on CNN Wednesday. But he vouched for the accuracy of the writings and admitted writing at least some of the passages when first asked about them in an interview in 1996.

Some issues of the newsletters included racist, anti-Israel or anti-gay comments, including a 1992 newsletter in which he said 95% of black men in Washington “are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”

Paul told TheDallas Morning News in 1996 that the contents of his newsletters were accurate but needed to be taken in context. Wednesday, he told CNN he didn’t write the newsletters and didn’t know what was in them.

Hmmmm…. I guess Mitt Romney isn’t the only flip-flopper in the Republican presidential race.

Speaking of Romney, that guy has really gone off the deep end in his efforts to court Iowa Tea Party voters. Steve Benen suggests that Romney has “lost his mind.”

Mitt Romney unveiled a brand-new stump speech in New Hampshire last night, reading a carefully-crafted, poll-tested text from two teleprompters. Confident that his Republican primarily rivals simply won’t (or can’t) catch him, the former one-term governor ignored the other GOP candidates in his speech, and focused exclusively on attacking President Obama.

Wow! Two telepromters? Now why does that sound familiar? Anyway, the point is that Romney has been reduced to following the Tea Party meme that Obama is a commie socialist. From the speech:

“Just a couple of weeks ago in Kansas, President Obama lectured us about Teddy Roosevelt’s philosophy of government. But he failed to mention the important difference between Teddy Roosevelt and Barack Obama. Roosevelt believed that government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities. President Obama believes that government should create equal outcomes.

“In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort, and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing — the government.

“The truth is that everyone may get the same rewards, but virtually everyone will be worse off.”

ROFLOL! Benen writes:

It stands to reason that Romney, who’s completed the transition from “progressive” views to far-right hysterics, would present a worldview different from the center-left president’s. But this speech was written in a twisted fantasy land, and it ascribes views to Obama that are simply made up. It’s just madness.

And get this: Romney wants Obama’s uncle deported!

ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a Boston talk radio host on Wednesday that he supports the deportation of President Obama’s Kenyan-born uncle who was arrested this fall on drunken driving charges in Massachusetts.

When asked by Boston radio personality Howie Carr whether the president’s relative, Onyango Obama, should be deported, Romney said, “the answer is ‘yes.’”

“Well, if the laws of the United States say he should be deported, and I presume they do, then of course we should follow those laws,” Romney said. “And the answer is ‘yes.’”

And last week, Romney told Sean Hannity that Obama is deliberately and knowingly hurting America for political reasons.

Hannity: The president has been using class warfare as we know. He says Republicans want dirty air, dirty water. Says Republicans want old people, kids with autism and Down’s syndrome to fend for themselves. Pretty outrageous charges.

Romney: Shameful. It’s really shameful.

Hannity: Explain, and how do you counter that if you get this nomination?

Romney: You know, I think the president has gone from being a failed presidency, a guy over his head, to someone who is now so desperate to get re-election that he’s doing things that are very much counter to the interest of the country and he knows it. In the past I think he was just misguided. Now I think he really knows that his decision in Afghanistan to pull the troops out a couple of months earlier than commanders suggested. That was not a wise, not a wise thing for the country. The Keystone pipeline, he knows we need that oil, he knows the consequences.

If Romney is this nuts now, imagine what he’ll be like in the thick of the primaries. Folks, Romney is not the “reasonable” candidate. There is no reasonable candidate on the Republican side. It’s going to be a completely insane candidate vs. a fascist pretending to be a Democrat. Followed by the end of the Mayan calendar. If we’re lucky, the world will end before the next president is inaugurated. Just kidding, I think.

I’ll end with this embarrassing for him, amusing for us, bit of gossip about Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), known for his cantankerous ways and for not speaking to media unless it’s his idea, was overheard at the Delta Crown lounge at Reagan National Airport today talking on his cellphone about an incident he said occurred three weeks ago while at an Episcopal church auction. Please note, a church auction.

Our source, a Democratic operative who heard the whole thing, said he was “very loud”. Sensenbrenner was overheard saying that after buying all their “crap” (his word) a woman approached him and praised first lady Michelle Obama. He told the woman that Michelle should practice what she preaches — “she lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself.”

The operative said it sounded like he was on the phone with a staffer who was telling him that someone in the media would likely write about his comments (concerning something) to which he said it was heresy and just liberal media bias to print gossip. But “he stands by his remarks.”

Sensenbrenner is on the pudgy side. Someone should tell him that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. What are you reading and blogging about?


Saturday: Sailboats at Sunset

Escaping Dystopia 2011...

Morning, news junkies.

Chris Hedges ushered in 2011 by calling it a brave new dystopia. For a brief moment in time, the Egyptian and Wisconsin protests provided a glimmer of “there’s something happening here,” but then we were returned to our regularly scheduled dystopic nightmare. I don’t know about you, but lately I’m finding that the actual headlines these days sound more satirical than the ones in the Onion. They leave me either wanting to lolsob…or just sob. So, on that note…

Above, to the right… from National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel:

This photo of sailboats at sunset has us yearning for the sea, which makes it an Editors’ Pick for week one of our 2011 Traveler Photo Contest in the category of Outdoor Scenes. The photographer Ken Michael Jon Taarup writes, “Boracay has never ceased to amaze many people from all over the world. With its white crystal sand, pristine blue waters, and beautiful sunsets, this place still tops the list of the most visited and beautiful resorts in the Philippines.”

That’s so you have something calming to visualize while you read my Saturday picks.

Alright, grab your morning cuppa if you haven’t already, and read on.

Let’s just get the biggest distraction out of the way first…

Tornado aftermath: Pictures say a 1000 words

“Depressing women’s history news of the week”

Being pro-choice means understanding that self-determination for women regarding sex, sexuality, reproduction and motherhood is a fundamental precursor to womens’ ability to achieve their own educational, economic and familial aspirations, a fundamental precursor to the health and well-being of individuals and families, and a core condition of the long-term stability and health of society. It therefore also means understanding the profound connections for women–supported by more than ample evidence–between economic and educational status and unfettered access to comprehensive sexual health education, contraception, family planning services, and abortion care.

The War on Unions… now brought to you by Dems in MA?

The bill will take a month before coming to the state Senate, but the overwhelming vote in the House, and [Gov.] Patrick’s kinder, gentler rights-stripping plan, make it look like something’s going to happen in Massachusetts. Time to get out in the streets in another blue state.

“I’ve played at hundreds of protests and demonstrations, and this was really unique,” he said. “It was every segment of society. It was radical students and cops on the same side, and I’d never seen that before.”

Hillaryland

  • The otherwise serious and reliable Laura Rozen overreacted a bit to Hillary taking a few days of Easter R&R time off with her family. There’s a reason Hill was dubbed the “Energizer Secretary.” The woman works non-stop. She has a personal life that she’s entitled to attend to and/or just recharge every few years or so.

Click to view HQ. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

When Bushies fight… Get out your popcorn

First of all, I didn’t have modest experience in management. Managing Stanford University is not so easy. But I don’t know what Don was trying to say, and it really doesn’t matter. Don can be a grumpy guy. We all know that.

As always, Black Agenda Report tells it like it is…

  • This is an instant classic! Please read and disseminate. Bruce A. Dixon’s Top Ten Answers To Excuses For Obama’s Betrayals and Failures. Note Number 9 — it’s for all the Obamaphiles who won’t accept that Obama is the third Bush-Cheney term. And, to quote a snippet from Numero Uno (Re: “It’s our fault the Obama presidency hasn’t kept its commitments. We need to ‘make him do it.’”):

You cannot make a US president do what he fundamentally doesn’t want to. Michelle Obama is nice to look at, but she is no Eleanor Roosevelt. Franklin Roosevelt used to publicly bask in the hatred of wealthy banksters. Barack Obama’s dream is mostly not to piss off rich people.

  • For more on the atrocities of Bush-Cheney III, give BAR’s April 25th podcast a listen. In the first segment BAR’s Glen Ford interviews Labor Notes editor Mark Brenner, who sees no growth and no jobs on the horizon and says:

“Absolute disaster for working folks. If we follow the Ryan plan or if we follow the Obama plan, none of it spells good news for the rest of us.”

  • In another segment, Clarence Thomas, former Local 10 union secretary-treasury, says what one needs to understand is that this is not simply an attack on public sector workers, it is also an attack on public services.” Thomas says the goal is to put labor back where it was before the New Deal, noting that it is a corporate and rightwing agenda in which “the Democratic party is complicit.”

The ongoing crackdown on dissidents: Syria, China

In response to the brutality of the crackdown, President Barack Obama signed an executive order today instituting sanctions against the Syrian intelligence agency and two of Assad’s brothers, a White House official confirmed. Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council voted in Geneva today to condemn the Syrian crackdown.

“The [Executive Order] is a watershed,” Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Envoy. “This is the first time an Assad has been designated by the [U.S. government], and the first time the USG has issued an EO on human rights in Syria. Until a few months ago Human Rights was a distant fifth on our list of issues with Syria. Now it’s emerged as the center of our policy.”

Ms. Cheng was arrested on what was supposed to have been her wedding day last fall for sending a single sarcastic Twitter message that included the words “charge, angry youth.” The government, lacking a sense of humor, sentenced her to a year in labor camp.

Timeout: Art break

We’re about halfway through, so click to read the rest… Read the rest of this entry »


Saturday: Hillary, Jeannette, and Perditta

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives for the funeral mass for former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, Thursday, March 31, 2011 in New York.

Morning, news junkies. Note: You’ll have to read all the way to the bottom of this one for the tie-in to “Jeannette” and “Perditta.” There’s also some comic relief from the Onion waiting there at the end as a reward for making it through. My Saturday reads are often on the ‘heavy’ side I know, and this weekend is no exception.

I’d like to start with a story I touched on in a roundup about a month ago. You may recall that I linked to Glen Ford/BAR’s commentary on the pogrom-like massacre against sub-Saharan black migrant workers in Libya, at the hands of so-called anti-Gaddafi rebels. The Western media has virtually blacked this story out–or if they are covering it in any substantive or sustained way other than in passing, I must have missed it over the past month. Leave it to the WSWS (World Socialist Web Site) to have one of the few informative pieces I’ve seen covering the story at all (h/t paperdoll for pointing me to it.) The WSWS piece references a March 22nd article, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung by Gunnar Heinsohn (which cites as its source a report by Zimbabwean journalist and documentary filmmaker Farai Sevenzo).

From the WSWS link:

The article states:“Because mercenaries from Chad and Mali are presumed to be fighting for him [Gaddafi], the lives of a million African refugees and thousands of African migrants are at risk. A Turkish construction worker told the British radio station BBC: ‘We had seventy to eighty people from Chad working for our company. They were massacred with pruning shears and axes, accused by the attackers of being Gaddafi’s troops. The Sudanese people were massacred. We saw it for ourselves.’

The zombie in place of the fourth estate, our corporate US media, has either glossed over or omitted the massacre altogether. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera, unsurprisingly, has had more to say on the killings than I’ve seen from CNN or Fox over the last few months combined. Again, from the WSWS link:

On February 28, the Arab TV station Al Jazeera reported the racist massacre of black African workers by so-called “freedom fighters” as follows: “Dozens of workers from sub-Saharan Africa, it is feared, have been killed and hundreds are hiding because angry opponents of the government are hunting down black African mercenaries, witnesses reported…. According to official reports, about 90 Kenyans and 64 people from southern Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Burundi landed in Nairobi today.

One of them, Julius Kiluu, a 60-year-old construction manager, told Reuters: ‘We were attacked by people from the village. They accused us of being murderous mercenaries. But in reality they simply refuse to tolerate us. Our camp was burnt down. Our company and our embassy helped us get to the airport.’“Hundreds of black immigrants from the poorest African countries, who work mainly as low-wage day labourers in Libya, have been wounded by the rebels. From fear of being killed, some of them have refrained from going to a doctor.”

I went digging for the Al Jazeera report:

“But why is nobody concerned about the plight of sub-Saharan African migrants in Libya? As victims of racism and ruthless exploitation, they are Libya’s most vulnerable immigrant population, and their home country governments do not give them any support,” Hein de Haas, a senior fellow with the International Migration Institute, writes in his blog.

In clicking on the link to de Haas’ blog and perusing the comments, I stumbled upon a link to this February blog post at the Independent by Michael Mumisa: Is Al-Jazeera TV complicit in the latest vilification of Libya’s Blacks?

Mumisa wrote:

Even Al-Jazeera TV has based most of its news coverage of bands of marauding savage Africans on information posted via tweeter, facebook, and other social networks. That there may be African mercenaries operating in Libya is very possible but there are also credible reports from Serbian military sources as well as other Western agencies that Serbian mercenaries are fighting to protect Muammar Gaddafi. Yet nothing has been said about Gaddafi’s Serbian and Russian mercenaries.

Black Africans have always been a ‘visible’ and persecuted minority in Libya. By giving credence to potentially dangerous and unverified reports and rumours posted on social networks without taking into consideration the racial context of Libyan society Al-Jazeera and other foreign media outlets are complicit in the latest vilification and scapegoating of Libya’s Black minorities and its African migrant workers.

I don’t claim to be an expert on what’s happening on the ground in Libya, but I would like some answers on the deaths of these migrant workers. I would really love to hear someone put this humanitarian issue to Madame President Hillary Clinton for comment.

Switching gears now… because yep, you heard me correctly…

I just called her Madame President Hillary Clinton.

If the aliens visiting for the upcoming royal wedding were to observe what was going on right now, what else would they conclude? Hillary’s leading, Obama’s not, and everyone knows it.

Nothing new there, of course, except for the part about everyone knowing it. If Obama is the Where’s Waldo president, our media was the Where’s Waldo fourth estate in 2008, as well as during the entire past decade. That Where’s Waldo media, by the way, very much included left blogistan, guilty of its own version of the “Village” insularity and hegemony in the traditional media that the prog blogs cut their teeth railing against.

In 2008, access was more important than our country’s future to journalists and bloggers, and I have no reason to believe in 2012, the story will be any different.

Which brings me to my next set of links…

Hillary, Obama, Polls, and 2012/The Donald Goes Birther week-in-review

The latest results are from a March 25-27 Gallup poll conducted while the United States was actively involved in enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, a policy Clinton reportedly advocated. The same poll finds Clinton rated more positively than other top administration officials. Obama receives a 54% favorable rating, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, 52%, and Vice President Joe Biden, 46%.

  • A CNN/Opinion research poll from March 11 to 13 yielded pretty much the same results: 2 in 3 Americans have a favorable opinion of Hillary Clinton, with 92% of Democrats, 64% of Independents, and 35% of Republicans (or 83% of liberals, 80% of moderates, and 42% of conservatives) giving her a thumbs up. (That’s nearly identical to the Gallup findings from the end of March: 92% of Dems, 62% of Indies, and 40% of Repubs.) How’s that for “likeable enough” and “polarizing”? Agree or disagree with her, what people have for Hillary–which Obama can’t win with his empty speeches and voting “present”–is respect for her substance, diligence, and commitment. You not only know where she stands on Libya, you know she won’t half-ass it, she won’t vote present like Obama and she won’t cut Bush-like corners either–it’s clear that she’s giving it her all and she’s all in, even if you disagree with her.

It doesn’t look like Florida will be losing its status as one of the most competitive states in the country at the Presidential level next year- voters in the state are almost evenly divided on Barack Obama’s job performance and although he leads all six of the Republicans we tested him against, some of the margins are quite close. […] Mitt Romney does the best, trailing Obama 46-44. […] former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who trails Obama 48-45 in the state. Obama would start out in a slightly healthier position against four other Republicans we tested. He leads Rudy Giuliani by 6 points at 48-42, Mike Huckabee by 7 at 50-43, Newt Gingrich by 8 at 50-42, and Sarah Palin by 13 at 52-39.

Obama’s not likely to win Michigan by his blowout margin of 16 points in 2008 again but if the state voted today he would have an easier time taking it than either John Kerry in 2004 or Al Gore in 2000 did. Mitt Romney does the best of the Republicans against Obama, but still trails 48-41. […] Obama could be vulnerable in Michigan for sure. But consider this- despite that weak 78% approval with Democrats, he gets 85-90% of the Democratic vote against each of these five Republicans. There are enough Democrats who don’t like Obama that a Republican could get the support necessary across party lines to win the state- it’s just far from clear that any of these Republicans could get the support necessary across party lines to win the state.

  • And, in more “coming home to Obama” news… according to a Harvard survey, the “Waiting on the World to Change” generation has fallen back into their Obama-Hope coma (via TPM). If you read the fine print, though, the survey was taken from February 11 to March 2, i.e. before Obama’s (non-)war in Libya. Regardless, it’s not like younger voters are going to vote for whatever horrific candidate the GOP nominates anyway. But, will they show up with the enthusiasm of “being part of something historic and cool” that they did in 2008? I officially left the under 30 demographic last week, and one of the saddest things to watch about US politics over the last three years is how Obama crushed some pretty earnest, if misplaced, idealism on the part of many of my and my kid sister’s peers. I’m sure they’ll still vote for him, but it will be out of fear of the Republican being worse, not out of hope. Obama 2012 is all about cynicism. So was Obama 2008. Again, people just didn’t know it yet.
  • Also buried in the Harvard survey under the headline is this finding: 42% of young voters approve of Obama on the economy, while 55% disapprove. So, it’s not like “kids today” are completely oblivious to their own destruction under this president. There’s just no meaningful alternative.

There’s a good chance that Trump’s flirtation with the GOP will be over as soon as this season of Celebrity Apprentice ends, and that his real motivation is jealousy that Obama is starring in what he sees as the world’s highest-rated reality-TV show: President of the United States. But if you think there’s any chance he’ll actually throw his hat in the ring, consider this: The only consistent position Trump has taken so far is that in 2011, he’s against whatever Obama is for.

Hillaryland

  • This one is a bit of a ‘where foreign policy meets domestic policy’ read…[USAID’s Rajiv] Shah: GOP budget would kill 70,000 children. Josh Rogin at FP’s The Cable has the details at the link. Once again, I must point out that we have a Madame President Hillary Clinton on the global stage at a time when her strength, stature, and ‘smart’ power on the domestic stage could have been very well-utilized. (As, Jon Corzine let slip at a party in the summer of 2010… “She would have been able to handle this Congress.”) Still, Hillary and her people at the State Department are doing everything they can from within their foreign policy context to push back on the GOP’s fiscal irresponsibility.

Japan

Japanese authorities on Friday were struggling with a new problem at the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant: where to put tons of radioactive water.

Afghanistan

This Day in History (April 2nd)

Stressors the general public typically don’t have to deal with such as deployments, temporary duty assignments, permanent change of station assignments every few years or less, exercises and so many other requirements can take a toll on these families, since autistic kids have such a hard time adapting to change.

Following her election as a representative, Rankin’s entrance into Congress was delayed for a month as congressmen discussed whether a woman should be admitted into the House of Representatives.

Finally, on April 2, 1917, she was introduced in Congress as its first female member. The same day, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress and urged a declaration of war against Germany. On April 4, the Senate voted for war by a wide majority, and on April 6 the vote went to the House. Citing public opinion in Montana and her own pacifist beliefs, Jeannette Rankin was one of only 50 representatives who voted against the American declaration of war. For the remainder of her first term in Congress, she sponsored legislation to aid women and children, and advocated the passage of a federal suffrage amendment.

  • “You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.” –Jeannette Rankin
  • Back in January, I wrote about the Jeannette Rankin Brigade, so instead of reinventing the wheel, I’ll just quote myself:

Today is January 15, 2011… Eighty-two years ago, in 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born. Thirty-nine years later, in 1968, the Jeannette Rankin Brigade gathered in DC to protest the Vietnam War (links go to two great photos). At the end of the march, the 88-year old Rankin–on behalf of a delegation of women that included Coretta Scott King–presented to then-House Speaker John McCormack a petition calling for an end to the war (link takes you to another amazing photo).

Updates and Closing Thoughts on Libya

FP’s latest brief at the time of my writing this post (Friday mid-morning/noon):

A senior aide to Saif al-Qaddafi is reportedly in London for secret talks with British authorities. Following yesterday’s defection of Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa, rumors have swirled of other high-profile defections from the Qaddafi regime. Ali Abdussalam el-Treki, a former U.N. envoy who had also reportedly defected on Thursday, denied the rumors, but said that he is trying to negotiate a ceasefire. Libyan officials have now posted guards to prevent other defectors from leaving.Members of NATO are warning Libya’s rebels not to attack civilians, or they will face the same airstrikes that have been directed at Qaddafi’s troops. The BBC is reporting that seven civilians were allegedly killed in a coalition airstrike near Brega.

More from the BBC link just above:

All the dead were between the ages of 12 and 20, Dr Refardi said. Nato says it is investigating the claim.

The news comes as opposition leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil said the rebels would agree to a ceasefire if Col Muammar Gaddafi’s troops withdrew from cities.

“We agree on a ceasefire on the condition that our brothers in the western cities have freedom of expression and also that the forces that are besieging the cities withdraw,” he told a news conference in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

But he said the rebels would not back down on their demand that Col Gaddafi must go.

So it sounds like Gaddafi’s hold is sliding, but who knows how things will be by the time you see this post on Saturday morning.

At any rate, I wonder what Jeannette Rankin and her anti-war brigade would say to this woman (via FP/Blake Hounshell, A Bright Voice from Libya’s Darkness):

What does grief and courage sound like? It sounds a lot like the voice of Perditta Nabbous, the wife of Libyan citizen journalist Mohammed Nabbous, 27, who was shot and killed last Saturday by forces loyal to Muammar al-Qaddafi. Mohammed was the charismatic voice and face of Libya al-Hurra, the online TV station he set up in the early days of the uprising. Mo, as his many fans and supporters around the world called him, was attacked while trying to record footage from Benghazi.

[…]

She is 8 months pregnant. “I want Mohamed’s child to live,” she told me.

Her voice growing stronger, she called for the U.S.-led strikes on Qaddafi’s air defenses and troops to continue. Here it is in her own words. I can’t put it any more powerfully than this:

“We started this in a pure way, but he turned it bloody. Thousands of our men, women, and children have died.

We just wanted our freedom, that’s all we wanted, we didn’t want power. Before, we could not do a single thing if it was not the way he wanted it.

All we wanted was freedom. All we wanted was to be free. We have paid with our blood, with our families, with our men, and we’re not going to give up.

We are still going to do that no matter what it takes, but we need help. We want to do this ourselves, but we don’t have the weapons, the technology, the things we need. I don’t want anyone to say that Libya got liberated by anybody else.

If NATO didn’t start moving when they did, I assure you, I assure you, half of Benghazi if not more would have been killed. If they stop helping us, we are going to be all killed because he has no mercy anymore.

Remember Rankin’s warning that “you can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.”

I’m torn between Jeannette’s voice and Perditta’s.

I find myself increasingly hoping against hope that things turn out for the best in Libya and the rest of the MENA region and for us all.

That’s pretty much it for me. What’s on your blogging list this Saturday?

If you made it to the end, here you go… as promised… The Onion: American Dream Declared Dead As Final Believer Gives Up

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Taylor Marsh and Liberal Rapture]


Saturday: Solidarity, Sisterhood

Good morning, gleaners!

Grab your morning brew, and let’s go!

Wisconsin

  • It’s farmer-labor day today at the WI Capitol building, starting at noon, complete with a “tractorcade.”

Hillaryland

(second link will take you to an AFP report on Hillary’s remarks at Friday’s Women in the World conference in NY. See also her remarks at the 2011 Women of Courage event for more.)

  • This week–on International Women’s day no less–our advocate-in-chief helped to launch a Global Partnership on Maternal and Child Health, bringing a long-neglected development goal further out of the shadows. Brava, Madam Secretary!

(see also Hillary’s 100 Women Initiative. If you don’t know what it is, click and find out.)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, introducing the president of Kyrgyzstan at a State Department event.

Women’s Rights

  • See here for RH Reality Check’s exhaustive coverage of the latest developments from yesterday. Also, Minkoff Minx wrote to her Georgia state representative, Stephen Allison (R-8) and received a letter from Rep. Allison that you might find of interest. Scroll to the end of the post to see it.
  • My $0.02 on Allison’s response: The excuse that the most draconian of these bills will never pass is baloney. The rise of mini-Stupaks in states across the country has built up a momentum in the war against women, and that momentum is helping to get other horrible versions of these bills passed. Furthermore, the preponderance of such nonsense legislation clearly indicates a concerted effort to use women and their civil rights as a tool of division and distraction from the economy, degrading those rights in the process and blocking unfettered access to reproductive healthcare for women–all women. The rich will get their safe abortions on demand one way or another, and we all know it.

Tired of hearing about Charlie Sheen?

Economy

  • Bernie Sanders introduces The Emergency Deficit Reduction Act. Sanders’ press release says the bill would a) create a 5.4% surtax on millionaires, yielding up to $50 billion annually for the US Treasury, and b) end tax breaks for Big Oil, yielding about $3.5 billion a year in new revenue. Thank you, Bernie Sanders!

CLICK TO GO TO ECONOMIX

US Politics: 2012

  • US News & World Report says wedge issues are back just in time for the 2012 electoral cycle. In other news… Water? Yep, wet as ever. (When did wedge issues ever leave?)
  • Here’s a derivative piece if ever there was one… Cameron Lynch says Barack Obama is the “Surprisingly Silent President.” This echoes Ruth Marcus last week suddenly discovering that Obama is the “Where’s Waldo” president. Obama told America who he was from 2004 to 2008. The creative clueless class was too busy chattering away and creating “a different kind of politician” narrative to take note that Obama was telegraphing very clearly that he would make an indifferent kind of president.

Civil Liberties

King hearings

  • Adam Serwer (via the American Prospect) has an important read up that puts it all in perspective… Good Cop, Bad Cop: “On counterterrorism, the only difference between Republicans and Obama is rhetorical.”

Disaster in Japan and Elsewhere

(Also, Crowley confirmed his comments about Manning to The Cable:”What I said was my personal opinion. It does not reflect an official USG policy position. I defer to the Department of Defense regarding the treatment of Bradley Manning.”)

  • See the NYT’s photojournalism blog — Lens — for dramatic shots of the devastation from the 8.9 quake and tsunami in Japan, as well as other harrowing pictures from around the world yesterday, that tell the story of tragedy and strife.

Environment

  • “The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century. Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to seven billion people.”

–Achim Steiner, the executive director of UN Environment Programme

This Day in History (March 12)

  • First fireside chat: “It is your problem no less than it is mine. Together we cannot fail.” –FDR, 1933 (even FDR sounds like he’s saying Solidarity forever!)

What Kind of Liberal are You?

  • Take the quiz. I’m a “Working Class Warrior.” How about you?
  • I mostly linked to this silly quiz so I could share this priceless bumper sticker quote from the first question: “May the fetus you save be gay.”

Song of Protest for Saturday

Extra verse added to the PPM version: “Show me the famine, show me the frail, eyes with no future that show how we failed, and I’ll show you the children with so many reasons why there but for fortune, go you or I.”

I’m turning the Saturday reads over to you in the comments… Take the quiz and let us know how you score, share a song, link us to what’s on your blogging list this weekend…and have a great day!

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Taylor Marsh and Liberal Rapture]


Saturday: Walk Like a Bahraini Youth Activist

Click Image to go to the NYT Lens.

Good morning, news junkies!

I’ve gotten quite hooked on the NYT’s new Lens blog, particularly the regular interview/photo essays compiled by Lens editor James Estrin. A couple months ago, Estrin zoomed the focus in on Eirini Vourloumis and her photographs of Spanish-speaking converts to Islam–you may remember my linking to the interview at the time. This week’s spotlight is on Hazel Thompson and her work documenting the roles of women in Bahrain. There’s also a video of Thompson discussing her experiences at the link. Fascinating stuff.

To the right… from Hazel Thompson’s “Measure of a Woman”… The Youth Activist: Enas Ahmed Al-Farden is the vice president of the Bahrain Youth Forum Society. She is also a radio announcer and a product marketing manager. She lives with her parents and is engaged to be married.

If you have some free time after you’re finished reading this roundup, both the spot on Bahraini women and the earlier one on Latino Muslims are well worth the investment. (I’ll link to them again at the end.) In the meantime, here are the rest of my Saturday picks… grab a cup of whatever gets you up and running in the morning and enjoy.

Economy

  1. As of November, men’s unemployment is down .04 percent over the previous 12 months, and women’s unemployment over the same period is up .04 percent. Between July 2009 and January 2011, women lost 366,000 jobs while men gained 438,000.
  2. The public sector has shed 426,000 jobs since August of 2008. 154,000 of those jobs were in education. Women comprise only a little over half of the public workforce but have lost 83.8% of the jobs during the recovery-in-name-only.
  3. And, just look at who is exempt from Walker’s proposal to strip collective bargaining: public officers, firefighters, and state troopers. It’s the public employee unions made up mostly of women that are facing threat of annihilation.

  • Wonk’s two cents: The Taxed Enough Already (TEA) crowd never shuts up about the “debt we’re creating for our children,” but they sure don’t seem to be looking in the right place if that’s what they’re really concerned about.

although borrowers who develop severe and lasting disabilities are legally entitled to get federal student loans forgiven, the process for deciding who is eligible is dysfunctional, opaque and duplicates similar reviews conducted by other federal agencies. Many borrowers have been denied for unclear reasons, and many others have simply given up.

  • On Thursday, Zaid Jilani from Think Progress posted the graph I’ve been looking for. This is what the workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana are protesting:

CLICK GRAPH TO GO TO THINK PROGRESS.

Women’s Rights

  • The Center for Reproductive Rights’ Melissa Upreti, via RH Reality Check, reports that Nepal Advances As U.S. Backslides on Women’s Rights.” What takes the cake is that Nepal’s Supreme Court cites Roe in its groundbreaking affirmation of a woman’s autonomy, access to abortion, and well-being over that of a fetus. I almost want to laugh and tell Nepal’s Supremes that their ruling sounds better than Roe. Our dear Roe has, among other things, successfully kept women’s rights in perpetual limbo for almost 4 decades. As much as I believe in the privacy argument, I’m a much bigger believer in the autonomy and equity arguments.

  • Here’s a good companion essay to read after Clark’s piece. Margot Badran, via the SSRC’s Immanent Frame, writes of Egypt’s Revolution and the New Feminism.” From Badran’s pen to the goddess’s ear:

Will the youth now be willing to accept patriarchal authoritarianism sustained by the old family law, a law so out of sync with contemporary social realities—with their own realities? It is very hard to see by what logic they could do so. Freedom, equality, and justice cannot be reserved for some only. For the youth, female and male, who raised this revolution, freedom, equality, and justice are surely non-negotiable, and dignity, the order of the day. This is the essence of the new feminism, call it what you will.

  • I missed this one last week. William John Cox’s “Political Upheaval and Women’s Rights,” via Truthout. Excellent long view essay. Cox really lays it all out there. Fundamentalism is a threat to women everywhere, be it in the Mideast or in the US.

[There’s more, so if you need a coffee refill or anything, now would be a good time for an intermission before you click to continue. ]

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