Well, we have two more years of the tears of a clown to look forward to as Boehner held on to his position as Speaker of the House. The vote was not without its comic moments.
The tension around Mr. Boehner, who was elected unanimously by House Republicans two years ago, showed in the long, pomp-filled roll call vote, in which each member was called on to publicly announce a choice. A dozen Republicans either voted for someone other than Mr. Boehner, voted “present” or remained silent even though they were in the chamber. It was not until the very last votes that Mr. Boehner cleared the majority he needed.
President Obama called Mr. Boehner to congratulate him.
Some mavericks were members who have been thorns in the speaker’s side for two years, like three representatives who were thrown off committees late last year: Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who voted for Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio; Justin Amash of Michigan, who voted for a fellow sophomore conservative, Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho; and Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, who voted for David Walker, the former United States comptroller.
“I think it was a vote of no confidence,” Mr. Huelskamp said. “In this town the intimidation was intense. There were a lot of members who wanted to vote no.”
House Republican leadership aides denied any such tactics and said rumors of strong-arming were unfounded.
A few who opposed Mr. Boehner were newcomers, signaling a new generation of dissent. Representative Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma voted for Mr. Cantor, and Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who prevailed in the Republican primary last year with the help of young Ron Paul acolytes, voted for Mr. Amash. Representative Ted Yoho, Republican of Florida, started his career in the House by voting for Mr. Cantor, to “send a statement,” he said.
There’s a lot of interest around the Al Jazeera buy out of Al Gore’s Current TV channel. It’s completely unhinged the right wing. (Not that they’re not usually unhinged about things on a daily basis any way.) Frankly, I hope it starts to break down the corporate news oligopoly in the country.
Now, in the most American of solutions, the pan-Arab news leader has gone ahead and simply bought its seat at the media table. As Brian Stelter reported in the New York Times, “Al Jazeera… announced a deal to take over Current TV, the low-rated cable channel that was founded by Al Gore, a former vice president, and his business partners seven years ago.” For the relatively small sum of $500 million dollars (at least as measured by its oil-rich owner in Qatar) Al Jaz has just purchased entree into more than 40 million cable-ready living rooms across the U.S.
Political concerns aside, some media observers have questioned whether Al Jazeera has, as Stelter phrased it, “The journalistic muscle and the money to compete head-to-head with CNN and other news channels in the United States.” What a joke! The last time I checked, Sheikj Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the ruler of Qatar, had more money than Allah. And really, how much “journalistic muscle” does one need to compete with CNN these days — not to mention the braying heads of such opinionated and politicized putative “news channels” as Fox or MSNBC? Judging from their most recent efforts — such as completely misreporting the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare, for example — what little journalism is being practiced at outlets such as CNN and Fox these days is, shall we say, far from muscular!
Joel Hyatt, who co-founded Current TV with former Vice President Al Gore, told staff in a Wednesday night memo that Time Warner Cable “did not consent to the sale to Al Jazeera.”
“Consequently, Current will no longer be carried on TWC,” Hyatt wrote. “This is unfortunate, but I am confident that Al Jazeera America will earn significant additional carriage in the months and years ahead.”
A Time Warner Cable spokesman said in a statement that “our agreement with Current will be terminated and we will no longer be carrying the channel.”
Some media observers interpreted the move as motivated by politics.
“Time-Warner cable shows abject political and journalistic cowardice by dropping Current because of Al Jazeera deal,” tweeted Dan Gilmor, a technology writer and founding director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University.
The Time Warner Cable spokesman would not comment on politics when reached by The Huffington Post, but said via email that “we do have an agreement with [Al Jazeera English], though we have no plans to launch it at this time.”
Al Jazeera America will be separate from Al Jazeera English, although roughly 40 percent of the new network’s programming is expected to come from the English-language channel, which is based in Doha, Qatar.
New York Times reporter Brian Stelter reported that Time Warner Cable had warned it might drop Current due to low ratings. On Twitter, Stelter noted that Al Jazeera will acquire Current’s carriage deals with other cable providers, including DirecTV, Comcast, Dish, Verizon and AT&T.
It’s rumored that Treasury Secretary Geithner will leave his position prior to the next fiscal debacle. He will not be part of the debt ceiling negotiations.
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner finds himself in a familiar position: eager to resume life outside government and facing contentious negotiations with Congress over raising the federal debt ceiling.
The last time he was in this predicament, in June 2011, President Barack Obama persuaded him to stay. This time, Geithner has indicated to White House officials he wants to carry through with his plan to leave the administration by the end of this month, even if a deal on the debt limit isn’t in place, according to two people familiar with the matter
Geithner’s departure would increase pressure on the president to name his successor at Treasury. White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew remains the leading contender for the Treasury job, according to the people, who requested anonymity to discuss the private talks.
Geithner, 51, is the only remaining member of Obama’s original economic team and was a key figure in the taxpayer- funded bailouts during the 2008 financial crisis. He’s also had a principal role in negotiations with Congress on the budget deal and in past deliberations over the debt ceiling.
Because Lew’s experience in financial markets is thin, Obama may seek to name a Wall Street executive as deputy Treasury secretary, the people said.
I admit to being a Trekker. I loved all the series and I actually follow William Shatner on Twitter and George Takei on Facebook. Yesterday, Shatner sent a tweet to one of the commanders on the International Space Station and got a perfectTrekker reply back.
So this just happened:
William Shatner, he of Priceline and also of spoken-word poetry but mostly of Star Trek, is also William Shatner of Twitter. And this afternoon, the actor took to the service to ask a question of the Canadian Space Agency’s Chris Hadfield, who is currently serving as the International Space Station’s Flight Engineer for Expedition 34 — and who has indeed been tweeting from space …
Here’s a great list of idiots that we no longer have to see in Congress. Bless their little hearts! Say good bye to Mean Jean and crazy ol’ Uncle Ron Paul. Also, bye bye Todd Akin and Joe Walsh. We wish we never knew ye!
Newly former Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) is another birther departing the House today. On Schmidt’s highlight reel? She once called a Congressman and decorated marine a “coward,” insisted that China is drilling off the coast of Florida, and wept with joy over the (incorrect) news that Obamacare had been repealed.
There’s a list of ten over there and I’m happy to see every one of them go off to oblivion.
If you read what is popularly known as the feminist press, you’ll notice a focus on the “glass ceiling” that excludes much else. Feminist writers are found celebrating the achievements of Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandburg, cheering Christine Lagarde’s position at the International Monetary Fund, wringing their hands over Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s refusal to call herself a feminist, or asking, as Anne-Marie Slaughter did in the pages of the Atlantic, whether (white, well-off, educated) women can “have it all.”
While we debate the travails of some of the world’s most privileged women, most women are up against the wall. According to the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, women make up just under half of the national workforce, but about 60 percent of the minimum-wage workforce and 73 percent of tipped workers. In the New York area, a full 95 percent of domestic workers are female. Female-dominated sectors such as retail sales, food service, and home health care are some of the fastest-growing fields in the new economy, and even in those fields, women earn less; women in the restaurant industry earn 83 cents to a man’s dollar.
This is where most women spend their time, not atop the Googleplex. This is where feminists should be spending their time, too.
The stakes are clear. Domestic workers, home care workers, nurses, and other largely female contingents must organize their workplaces or the work that most women do will continue to be undervalued, virtually unregulated, and precarious. The deunionization that has left about 88 percent of American workers without unions will drag the rest of us down as well.
Those are my offerings today. What’s on your reading and blogging list?
We heard the horrors of Lara Logan’s assault while reporting the Egyptian uprising in Cairo on 60 minutes last Sunday. Reporter Dorothy Parvaz is missing in Syria. Dorothy is a reporter for Al Jazeera who was covering the unrest there.
Daraa, a drought-plagued city, has been under siege for a week since the regime sent in troops backed by tanks and snipers to crush protests. Electricity, power and fuel have been cut and the military has largely sealed off the area.
“I have never been so scared in all my life,” said one Daraa resident who fled late Sunday to an area some 10 miles (16 kilometers) away.
“Security men have divided Daraa into four parts … there was indiscriminate shelling yesterday, people are terrified,” he told The Associated Press Monday. “It’s like a military barracks there.”
Also Monday, Arab satellite TV station Al-Jazeera said one of its journalists, DorothyParvaz, 39, has not been heard from since arriving Friday in Damascus. Parvaz, who had U.S., Iranian and Canadian citizenship, was a former reporter and columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
“We are deeply concerned for Dorothy’s safety, security, and well-being. We are requesting full cooperation from the Syrian authorities to determine what happened at the airport, what her current location is, and the status of her health,” Al-Jazeera said in a statement.
The Oregonian reports that Parvaz’s husband, a West Linn High School and Lewis and Clark College graduate hasn’t heard from since Friday.
In Damascus, a witness said security forces dispersed a group of about 100 women in the capital who were carrying banners of support for the women and children of Daraa.
Ten minutes into the protest, police broke it up by force, beating a few of the women, said the witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
The witness accounts could not be independently confirmed. Syria keeps tight restrictions on the media and has expelled foreign journalists and restricted access to trouble spots.
Al Jazeera has demanded immediate information from Syria about one of its journalists who has been missing in the country since Friday afternoon.
Dorothy Parvaz left Doha, Qatar, for Syria on Friday to help cover events currently taking place in the country. However, there has been no contact with the 39-year-old since she disembarked from a Qatar Airways flight in Damascus.
Parvaz is an American, Canadian and Iranian citizen. She joined Al Jazeera in 2010 and recently reported on the Japanese earthquake and tsunami for the network.
She graduated from the University of British Columbia, obtained a masters from Arizona University, and held journalism fellowships at both Harvard and Cambridge. She previously worked as a columnist and feature writer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in the US.
An Al Jazeera spokesman said: “We are concerned for Dorothy’s safety and wellbeing. We are requesting full cooperation from the Syrian authorities to determine how she was processed at the airport and what her current location is. We want her returned to us immediately.”
When asked about Parvaz’s case, Ali Akbar Salehi, the Iranian foreign minister, said: “We demand the government of Syria look into this case.”
Dorothy was born in Iran of a Iranian father and an American mother. She lived in Canada during her youth. We hope she has the support of these countries and their consulates. Syria is run by a brutal regime that is known for the usual horrible conditions in prison. It is important that her story gets out.
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.
- Bryce Covert, via The Nation warns “With State Budgets Withering, Get Ready for the ‘Womancession.‘” A few key (and troubling) points I took away from Covert’s piece, which I’ve paraphrased slightly for the sake of brevity:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Covert has another good piece up at New Deal 2.0 you might want to check out: “Student Debt Can be Deadly.” I’ll try to boil it down for you this morning. The average undergrad student graduates with $4,100 in credit card debt and $19,300 in student loans. Couple that with the phenomena of a) college educated 20-24 year olds having the highest percentage increase in unemployment and b) suicide being the second leading cause of death among college students, and you’ll see what Covert means by deadly.
- 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.
- At least there was a bit of justice on the student loan front for one individual this week–after six years, the Department of Education has finally forgiven the student debt of Tina Brooks, a disabled former cop. Appalling that it took so long. Propublica’s joint investigation with the Center for Public Integrity and the Chronicle of Higher Education found that…
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.
- Really bad theatre or comedy gold? You judge: SEC to curb bonus pay for only about 30 institutions.
- 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:
- 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.
- Anna Clark, via AlterNet, looks at “What’s Next for Women’s Health (And Rights) in Tunisia and Egypt?” According to Clark, family planning was actually decent under both dictatorships. Will the road to self-governance bring more progress for Arab women or are we looking at another backward slide?
- 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. ]
Minx here with your Wednesday morning reads. Can you believe it is March already? I guess time flies when you are having fun…uh, you know I say that with a huge dose of snark. I know that my family is not the only one out there with only 3 bucks in their bank account to get them to the next payday…which is at the end of the week. Individuals and families seem to have to “shut down” when it gets like this. Y’all know what I mean, you can’t buy any food or gas and just hope that no one gets sick or hurt during the next few days til payday. Well, that is enough of that, let’s get on with it shall we?
Looks like the possibility of a government shutdown has been put off for at least 2 weeks. NationalJournal.com – Shutdown Fears Fade as CR Deal Advances – Tuesday, March 1, 2011
The slim possibility of a government shutdown grew even more remote today when Republicans sent a two-week spending package to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., anticipated passage after a vote scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Okay, so now that we got that bit out-of-the-way, lets dig into something more interesting. (At least for me anyway….)
Yesterday, I was discussing a possible post with some of the gang here on Sky Dancing. It was going to be an overview of the Mid East and Northern African region with information on the countries and links to any updates on the situation there. What do you know, they have done an excellent job of this over a AJE. Damn, I really am fond of this news agency.
The world’s attention has been focused on a handful of countries – Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Libya – since the first popular protests broke out in Tunisia in December. But nearly a dozen countries in the region have seen political unrest, and the protest movement shows no signs of stopping.
Below is a summary of the demonstrations so far, and links to our coverage. You can also click a country on the map above for more information.
I highly suggest you bookmark this AJE page. There are links to articles for each country discussed.
There is some fast-moving news over in Libya, so for the latest be sure to check the Al Jazeera English Website.
Armed conflict is robbing 28 million children of an education, by keeping them out of school where they are often targets of sexual abuse and violence, according to a report released by UNESCO.
Released on Tuesday, the Education for All Global Monitoring Report warned that of the world’s primary school aged children not attending schools, 42 per cent of these live in poor countries that are wracked by conflict.
“Armed conflict remains a major roadblock to human development in many parts of the world, yet its impact on education is widely neglected,” Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General, said in a statement released at the report’s launch in Dakar.
This often leads to a vicious cycle where poverty and lack of development are reinforced by a lack of education, and the risk of further conflict is heightened as millions of youths fail to find employment.
Thirty-five countries were affected by armed conflict from 1999 to 2008, of which 15 are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Children are also being used as soldiers in 24 countries including the Congo, Chad, the Central African Republic, Myanmar and Sudan, the report said.
UNESCO cited evidence in reports from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that rape and sexual violence are widely used as a weapon of war in many countries.
“Many victims are young girls,” the report said, citing Congo, where one-third of rapes involve children and 13 per cent are carried out against children under the age of 10.
According to the report, insecurity and fear associated with sexual violence keeps young girls in particular out of school.
I realize that many in these war-torn countries are just trying to survive, and education is not on the top of the list when it comes to dealing with the horrors of war and conflict. However, I wanted to highlight this issue here because it is yet another reason to support humanitarian aid to these countries. Children have rights as well, they have the right to attend a safe school and receive an education, but I think this tends to get lost in the shuffle in these areas of high conflict.
For another article on Libya, and other oil producing countries in the Mid East, Juan Cole has a new post up: Libya Standoff as Saudi Quivers and Iran, Iraq under Pressure | Informed Comment
It increasingly appears that outside intervention via the UN or NATO is off the table, and so the end game will likely play out inside Libya and based on Libyan dynamics.
Brent crude oscillated between $112 and $114 a barrel on Tuesday, and West Texas crude hit $100 on Middle East uncertainty, but analysts say that the price would have to stay high for weeks or months to have a serious impact on Western countries’ economic recovery. Prices may in fact stay high for a while, since Saudi Arabia is said to be willing to have Brent crude go as high as $120 before intervening with another increase in its own production.
Cole also points out that the Saudi’s have arrested a Shiite Clergyman that was speaking out for a constitutional monarchy:
Saudi authorities on Tuesday detained a Shiite clergyman in the Eastern Province who preached a sermon calling for a constitutional monarchy. Shiites are probably about 12 percent of Saudis and are culturally and politically repressed by the Wahhabi establishment, which typically views them as idolaters. Had the call for constitutional monarchy come from other quarters, it would be more significant, since it is hard to imagine Wahhabi-Shiite political unity. Unrest among Saudi Shiites might affect the oil-rich Eastern Province where they mostly reside, but the Saudi state has significant repressive capacities in that area.
It is a very interesting read, so check it out.
Oh, and did you see this: Obama Administration Approves First Gulf Deepwater Well – And BP Is the Majority Owner | FDL News Desk As Dayen points out, BP is the major stakeholder in the Noble Energy company that just got the permit.
So to recap, BP owns twice as much a stake in this well as Noble Energy, and yet the announcement of the permit says that Noble Energy received it. Noble operates the well, but BP is the biggest stakeholder, and as such could be the biggest voice in making key decisions about cost and safety. Reuters managed to mention this, unlike the AP.
I won’t say anything about this now, I will leave it for the comment section. (Search engines don’t like it when you curse on a blog post…)
On Sunday the Academy Award for Best Documentary– Feature Film was given to Inside Job and during the acceptance speech, the director mentioned that not one of the people responsible for the fraud that led us to the economic meltdown have been held accountable for their crimes.
For more information on this, take a look at this article: What Juror Wouldn’t Convict A Bankster On Known Facts? | Firedoglake
Okay, I am putting up this next link cause I just love it when Faux News gets caught in its own web of lies.
Fox News has been making a lot of hay about one of their reporters allegedly being “punched” by a protester in Madison, Wisconsin.
Turns out, that didn’t happen.
Mike Tobin, reporting from amid the massive demonstration on Friday, claimed that one of the protesters “punched” him in the arm. In another broadcast, he claimed a man threatened to break his neck.
In both cases, supporting evidence for these claims was not broadcast — yet still, Tobin’s reports have been widely cited across conservative blogs that seem eager to depict union workers as hateful and violent.
What’s worse, Tobin’s allegation that he was assaulted might have slipped past without rebuttal were it not for a camera-equipped bystander, who captured the scene.
Turns out, someone merely touched his shoulder, as evidenced in the video below. The incident he claimed was a “punch” could instead be described as a pat, at most.
Excuse me while I laugh out loud! Ha…Ha…
Okay, on to one last link before I turn you over to the comment section. Funny this link is about comments people leave on news or blog post. Mostly this post deals with the horrible comments during the reporting of the Lara Logan assault. We touched on this here on Sky Dancing. It also discusses the culture of online comments, and how different websites deal with the hate that many people will post, because they see their comments as being hidden behind an anonymous or made up name.
Rainey goes through several ways different outlets have dealt with the in-fighting, trolling, and barrage of racist / sexist / homophobic / ableist / you-name-it-ist comments frequently dotting their comments sections. The LATimes.com, for instance, “kicks off” comments that have been reported as abuse by two different visitors, and The Huffington Post employs a team of 30 people who monitor threads for abusive posts with the help of a special computer system – a system which is both necessary, given the millions of visitors HuffPost receives, and enviable to certain bloggers (working at, let’s say… oh, Mediaite) who have to manually comb through comments to clean away the muck. It’s no secret that dealing with abusive commenters is a job in itself, and not something a lot of online writers have the time or patience to deal with in addition to churning out content.
So what are you reading today? We don’t have a team of 30 people here on Sky Dancing, but we love reading your comments. So get to it and let us know how you feel.