Saturday Reads: In Memory of MLK and Jeannette Rankin

"Martin Luther King, Jr." by Danny Daurko (click image to visit for a larger view)

Good morning, news junkies!

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).

I dedicate my Saturday offerings this weekend to Dr. King, his family, congresswoman Rankin, and everyone who stood with them in the fight for nonviolence, a movement largely spurred on in the twentieth century by Gandhi and his strategy of nonviolent resistance — satyagraha.

And, with that, I’ll dive right into my current event picks, the first of which takes us to Gandhi’s homeland. From earlier in the week, at the NYT Opinionator: A Light in India,” in which David Bornstein discusses the exciting new ‘frugal innovation’ of turning rice husks into electricity that is “reliable, eco-friendly and affordable for families that can spend only $2 a month for power.”

Husk Power is bringing electricity AND jobs to poor villagers — what a story! Check it out.

The top story on memeorandum right now is the developments coming out of Tunisia with President Ben Ali fleeing amid protests. Mother Jones‘ Nick Bauman has a helpful primer up which brings the Wikileaks connection into focus: “What’s Happening in Tunisia Explained.” Joe Coscarelli at the VV‘s Runnin’ Scared blog also has a post up called Tunisia in Turmoil: Where to Learn the Most Quickly with some good links to CNN, Salon, and an AOL News piece by Theunis Bates.

Is a video game really grist for a reality show to "bring Pac Man to life"? Click on image to read the rest of the story.

Also, saw this story on Runnin’ Scared while I was there — it’s a bizarre headline that I heard yesterday as well:Pac Man to Get Reality Series… I’m a child of the ’80s. I grew up on Pac Man. I really don’t get it. The blogger at VV says suggests that this is the moment “‘reality tv’ jumped the shark.” Funny, I would have said that television jumped the shark with infotainment and reality tv!

And, while we’re on the subject of games–in national political news, looks like the RNC played musical chairs on Friday.CNN: RNC bounces Steele, taps Wisconsin GOP leader as new chairman.” The NYT has more info on the new head of the RNC, Reince Priebus.

Over at US News & World Report‘s Washington Whispers blog, Paul Bedard has the scoop on Ron Reagan’s upcoming book: “Reagan Son Claims Dad Had Alzheimer’s as President.”

I have a lot of ground to cover from this week, so stay tuned for more after the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Mass Killings and Child Murderers: not a new thing

At 3 o’clock early one summer morning, Ms. Heartwell and Ms. Gillbard woke Mr. and Mrs. Ballard with the horrible news. Their neighbor, Captain Purington had brutally murdered his entire family, except for the eldest son who suffered injuries he sustained in the attack. After killing his wife and 6 children with an ax, Purington then killed himself with a razor. The horror of these murder suicides created a scene, and huge numbers of towns people, reporters and curious travelers came to the funeral of the family. The news of the killings spread rather quickly throughout the nation, and the world. Headlines screamed of the “Horrible Massacre.” Friends were at a loss for why the Captain committed such a heinous act. Reports showed that his behavior up to a month prior to the murders was normal without any hints of the dreadful scene to come. The town was a pleasant little place in Maine, the Captain and his family were well known and liked in the community. What could have brought all this on? Any suggestions? Well, surely the Captain was involved in some sort of online role-playing mass murder video game, where the object of the game is killing lots of people. Perhaps, he participated in some religious cult? Maybe he felt that he had to take out his entire family including himself after reading media reports about bad economic times ahead? Well, it was none of these…there were no video games or media doomsday reports, this “Horrible Massacre” took place on July 10, 1806, in Augusta, Maine. The Captain went off the deep end, and decided to take his family with him.

How about Lizzie Borden…the murder of her parents was so gruesome, and caused such a morbid curiosity that a child’s poem was written, who can forget this:

Lizzie Borden took an axe,

And gave her mother forty whacks,

When she saw what she had done,

She gave her father forty-one.

Actually, the Bordens received only 29 whacks, not the 81 suggested by the famous ditty, but the popularity of the above poem is a testament to the public’s fascination with the 1893 murder trial of Lizzie Borden. The source of that fascination might lie in the almost unimaginably brutal nature of the crime–given the sex, background, and age of the defendant–or in the jury’s acquittal of Lizzie in the face of prosecution evidence that most historians today find compelling.


On a hot August 4, 1892 at 92 Second Street in Fall River, Massachusetts, Bridget (“Maggie”) Sullivan, the maid in the Borden family residence rested in her bed after having washed the outside windows. She heard the bell at City Hall ring and looked at her clock: it was eleven o’clock. A cry from Lizzie Borden, the younger of two Borden daughters broke the silence: “Maggie, come down! Come down quick; Father’s dead; somebody came in and killed him.” A half hour or so later, after the body–“hacked almost beyond recognition”–of Andrew Borden had been covered and the downstairs searched by police for evidence of an intruder, a neighbor who had come to comfort Lizzie, Adelaide Churchill, made a grisly discovery on the second floor of the Borden home: the body of Abby Borden, Lizzie’s step-mother. Investigators found Abby’s body cold, while Andrew’s had been discovered warm, indicating that Abby was killed earlier–probably at least ninety minutes earlier–than her husband.

I will tell you another story, this one occurred within the last 87 years, and created a media circus the likes of which we find to this day. It involved the murder of a teenager, by two other teens…and these were not troubled teens. They came from good solid families, were very intelligent and highly educated. One of the boys was the youngest graduate in the history of University of Michigan, and was accepted as a student at Harvard Law School. Of course, I am talking about the famous Chicago murderers “Leopold and Loeb,” two wealthy teenagers that murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks, and were famously defended by Clarence Darrow.

The past few weeks we seem to be bombarded with horrible images of mass murder, hostage situations, school shootings, and a 10-year-old boy accused of killing his mother.

What are the reasons for a person to commit such violent crimes? There have been a lot of speculation and blame from all sides. My opinion is not made from a professional standpoint, it is not bias toward political rhetoric on either side, it is formed out of common sense. These people have serious mental issues. They have chosen to act out, get attention and give the public and media something to talk about.

Children and Violence

I want to focus this post on children and violence, so let’s get down to discussion of various types of juvenile murderers.

What makes these children choose to take a gun, or guns, to school and proceed to shoot numerous rounds into school faculty and fellow students. I think the following information may also be relevant to the recent shooting in Arizona. Peter Langman, Ph.D., a psychologist that has focused his research on juvenile shooters, has a website with information: His article published in the professional journal Aggression and Violent Behavior, Rampage School Shooters:

A number of researchers have sought to identify the features that school shooters have in common in terms of family life, personalities, histories, and behaviors. This article examines the cases of ten rampage school shooters in an effort to find out not only how they are alike, but also how they differ. Based on available information, these youths are categorized into three types: traumatized, psychotic, and psychopathic. Out of the ten shooters discussed, three were traumatized, five were psychotic, and two were psychopathic. The three traumatized shooters all came from broken homes with parental substance abuse and parental criminal behavior. They all were physically abused and two were sexually abused outside of the home. The five psychotic shooters had schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, including schizophrenia and schizotypal personality disorder. They all came from intact families with no history of abuse. The two psychopathic shooters were neither abused nor psychotic. They demonstrated narcissism, a lack of empathy, a lack of conscience, and sadistic behavior. Most people who are traumatized, psychotic, and psychopathic do not commit murder. Beyond identifying the three types of rampage shooters, additional factors are explored that may have contributed to the attacks. These include family structure, role models, and peer influence.


In a study conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), O’Toole (2000) reviewed 14 cases of actual shootings and four cases of planned shootings that were stopped before they could be carried out. The study identified 47 descriptors that many shooters had in common, including 28 personality traits and behaviors, seven family dynamics, seven school dynamics, and five social dynamics. Not all the shooters had each of these features, but the identified dynamics were seen as constituting significant trends. A few of the common individual features included narcissism, bigotry, alienation, poor anger management, fascination with violence, low self-esteem, and a lack of empathy.


The rampage school shooters investigated in this study include the following:

• Evan Ramsey, who killed two people and wounded two in Bethel, Alaska in 1997

• Michael Carneal, who killed three and wounded five in West Paducah, Kentucky in 1997

• Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden, who killed five and wounded ten in Jonesboro, Arkansas in 1998

• Andrew Wurst, who killed one and wounded three in Edinboro, Pennsylvania in 1998

• Kip Kinkel, who killed four and wounded 25 in Springfield, Oregon in 1998

• Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who killed 13 and wounded 23 in Jefferson County, Colorado in 1999

• Jeffrey Weise, who killed nine and wounded seven in Red Lake, Minnesota in 2005

• Seung Hui Cho, who killed 32 and wounded 17 in Blacksburg, Virginia in 2007

Peter Langman breaks these killers into three types or categories: traumatized, psychotic, and psychopathic. Traumatized shooters are the ones who have suffered physical and/or sexual abuse, come from broken homes, whose parents have previous substance abuse problems and at least one parent who has a criminal past. Psychotic shooters are very different. These kids came from intact homes with no history of abuse, and no parental criminal activities. These psychotic shooters however show signs or symptoms of Schizophrenia, schizotypal personality disorder, including paranoid delusions, delusions of grandeur and auditory hallucinations. The Psychopathic shooters also come from whole families with no history of abuse or dysfunctional families. These shooters exhibit narcissism, a lack of empathy, a lack of conscience, and sadistic behaviors.

According to Langman, Jeffrey Weise (Ojibwa reservation Red Lake) is the traumatized shooter. Dylan Klebold (Columbine) and Seung Hui Cho (Virginia Tech) are in the Psychotic category. Eric Harris (Columbine) has been placed in the Psychopathic category. I picked these particular examples from the article because they are more than likely the shootings that you may remember off the top of your heads.

However, what I find interesting is that not all of these shooters end in suicide. In Psychology Today, I found an article written by Peter Langman, where he discusses the non-suicide cases of school shootings that he studied while researching his book, Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters.

Though many school shooters are suicidal at the time of their attacks, there are exceptions. Some were suicidal earlier in their lives, but did not seem to be suicidal at the time of their attacks. Others planned to kill themselves during the attacks, but when the time came, they chose not to. Of the fifteen shooters I have studied…a significant percentage of them made no effort to kill themselves or to set themselves up to be killed by police (i.e., “suicide by cop”).

This was most noticeable among the five psychopathic shooters, only two of whom committed suicide (Robert Poulin and Eric Harris)…of the six psychotic shooters, only two committed suicide (Klebold and Cho). Kip Kinkel intended to but was tackled before he could. Andrew Wurst planned to, but instead he surrendered. Michael Carneal made no effort to kill himself though he yelled for someone to kill him after throwing down his gun. Luke Woodham attempted to drive away from the scene.

Of the four traumatized shooters, three were suicidal. Evan Ramsey planned his attack initially as a suicide at school. His friends talked him into committing homicide. Though Evan put his gun under his chin at the end of his attack, he did not pull the trigger. He had left a suicide note, however, and clearly expected he would die during the attack. Jeffrey Weise had a suicide attempt prior to his attack, and killed himself during the attack. Asa Coon also killed himself.


Though the sample sizes are small, it is interesting that the highest percentage of non-suicidal shooters seems to be found among the psychopaths. Given their narcissism, it is not surprising that they would be less likely to take their own lives. Also, the psychotic and traumatized shooters tended to experience far more depression and anguish than the psychopathic shooters, which made them more suicidal.

Langman has another article which discusses Adult School Shooters, age 25 and older. Be sure to take a look at it.

I find the results of this small study very interesting, especially with the mass murder in Arizona. The shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, exhibits some of the above mentioned psychopathic tendencies. But again, I am not coming at this from a professional standpoint. It is a logical conclusion that juveniles and adults who commit violent crimes, have some mental disorders which make them act out. As history shows us, there have always been cases of killings, single, multiple and mass murders, that have occurred without the influence of political rhetoric, media, video games or loud music. These things seem to be just added nuances that give us all something to talk about. Do they help the situation? No. It exacerbates the situation. I think that these violent oriented speak, games and music just make people feel worse about the outcome of these shootings. It gives them something to place the blame on, some way to find an explanation to why these people do these terrible things.

Wednesday Reads AM

Morning Sky Dancers! Minx here with this mornings interesting reads.

I wanted to post a link to this article written by Larry McMurtry. The man who brought us Hud (Horseman, Pass By), Lonesome Dove and many other novels, stories, and scripts. He has written this post called American Tragedy for the New York Review of Books.

Murderous rampages of the sort that occurred Saturday outside a grocery store here in Tucson may retain some power to shock–twenty people shot down right up the road from where I write–but for me, at least, they have lost all power to surprise. Arizona is after all a state where it’s possible to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, and many do.


Ours is a culture in which shooting sprees have become almost commonplace. Hearing that the site and surrounding area was entirely sealed off I elected to try to learn about it by watching television. The people who were trapped at site stood around in small clumps, subdued; no doubt they were feeling lucky not to be on stretchers or in ambulances. Probably they were oppressed by the randomness of it all: a deranged kid walks up and blasts twenty people. Hello. The novelist Theodore Dreiser would have known how to handle such a scene.

Learning about a nearby massacre from television requires much channel surfing. Many talking heads brooded about the part our violence-tinged language might be playing in the behavior of our youth. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, elected eight times, spoke with considerable dignity, mentioning that in his view, there had been excessive language used in Arizona, both on radio and television. It may be free speech, he said, but it has consequences. Sheriff Dupnik went on to say that he feared Arizona had become “… a Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.” For this, he was roundly criticized, although I don’t see that he was off the mark. Ask the Indians.

McMurtry comes to the same conclusion that many of us have come to in recent days here on Sky Dancing.

Meanwhile, the dead are dead, the wounded are wounded, and except for twenty families, some of them now broken, the violent stream of American life goes on absolutely unchanged. Arizona and indeed America continue to be packed with guns. I own several myself (none of them semi-automatic) and I have no intention of disposing of them, although I don’t feel I should conceal them and walk down urban streets.

And I don’t believe that language drawn from the hunt is likely to vanish from our political speech. Words such as “target” or “bulls eye” are deeply ingrained. We will be polite for a while but once the slugfest resumes–and politics is a slugfest–the old invective will slip back in.

Guns are part of the culture of America, they will not be going away any time soon. Living out in the county these days, and growing up in a very urban part of West Tampa, FL, I have been around guns all my life. I do not think they should be completely wiped out, but I do feel the background checks, and wait periods are all good things. As for the political rhetoric, I think it will all be back in our faces real soon. Hey, the 2012 elections are just around the corner, do you think anyone is going to tone down their language?

On Tuesday the EPA issued this statement about Chromium 6, Hexavalent Chromium:

EPA Issues Guidance for Enhanced Monitoring of Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water

Release date: 01/11/2011

Contact Information: CONTACT: Jalil Isa (News Media Only),, 202-564-3226, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – Several weeks ago, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson committed to address hexavalent chromium (also known as chromium-6) in drinking water by issuing guidance to all water systems on how to assess the prevalence of the contaminant. Today, the agency is delivering on that promise and has issued guidance recommending how public water systems might enhance monitoring and sampling programs specifically for hexavalent chromium. The recommendations are in response to emerging scientific evidence that chromium-6 could pose health concerns if consumed over long periods of time.

“Protecting public health is EPA’s top priority. As we continue to learn more about the potential risks of exposure to chromium-6, we will work closely with states and local officials to ensure the safety of America’s drinking water supply,” said Administrator Jackson. “This action is another step forward in understanding the problem and working towards a solution that is based on the best available science and the law.”


EPA’s latest data show that no public water systems are in violation of the standard. However, the science behind chromium-6 is evolving. The agency regularly re-evaluates drinking water standards and, based on new science on chromium-6, has already begun a rigorous and comprehensive review of its health effects. In September 2010, the agency released a draft of the scientific review for public comment. When the human health assessment is finalized in 2011, EPA will carefully review the conclusions and consider all relevant information to determine if a new standard needs to be set. While EPA conducts this important evaluation, the agency believes more information is needed on the presence of chromium-6 in drinking water. For that reason, EPA is providing guidance to all public water systems and encouraging them to consider how they may enhance their monitoring for chromium-6.

More information on the new guidance to drinking water systems:

Well, as I have said in my post on the Chrome 6 issue, I think the EPA will come down on the side of protecting not the public, but the one organization that has contributed the most toxic waste throughout the world…the US Department of Defense.

Wow, over in Australia they are having a hell of a time with flooding: Brisbane braces for more flooding as 90 people reported missing

Brisbane awoke Wednesday to sunny, clear skies amid renewed warnings that a wave of water was sweeping through the city’s main river system, threatening to exceed the damage done by the record 1974 floods.


Ten people have died this week in Queensland and more than 90 were missing, Neil Roberts, Queensland Emergency Services Minister, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation TV.

Seven Australian Defense Force helicopters were dispatched Wednesday to join the eight military choppers already in the state as rescuers searched for survivors and the bodies of people swept away by the floodwater, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Wednesday.

I had no idea so many people were missing in these floods. There is more about this here: Australia floods: 14 killed, dozens missing in Queensland floods – This is terrible and is being described as an “inland tsunami.”

And for some more human suffering: Haiti earthquake anniversary highlights faltering aid effort –

For more than six weeks last fall, a brand new obstetrics hospital remained empty and closed, its Ikea furniture still wrapped in plastic, a reminder of how far Port-au-Prince had to go to recover from the Haiti earthquake.

Meanwhile across the street, a camp with 1,500 families had no access to medical care beyond occasional visits by the Haitian Red Cross. The hospital, commissioned by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), has since partially opened.

But questions remain about why the project in the neighborhood of Delmas 33 was delayed by the government, a symbol of the bureaucracy that has stood in the way of many of the projects run by the more than 900 NGOs that descended on Haiti after last January’s earthquake, which killed 230,000 people and left 2 million homeless.


Oxfam, in a report released last week, blamed the lack of progress “on a crippling combination of Haitian government indecision and rich donor countries’ too frequent pursuit of their own aid priorities. In Haiti, power and decision making are concentrated in the hands of very few,” the report said, calling on the government to reduce corruption, especially in view of the ongoing – and contested – presidential election.

Echoing the sentiment of many Haitian citizens, Oxfam was fiercely critical of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (known by its French acronym, CIRH) co-led by Bill Clinton, established in the aftermath of the earthquake to coordinate reconstruction. “The Commission has failed to live up to its mandate,” Oxfam said in a press release.

The L.A. Times has this: Haiti quake anniversary: Haiti still reeling from earthquake –

Today, life of a sort has returned to Haiti. The bodies are mostly gone (though on occasion one is unearthed), and the chaos is part of the routine of survival, of scraping out a living. Traffic snarls up and down hillsides. Most children who go to school are back in classrooms, though jittery and traumatized; commerce is haphazardly brisk.

Yet virtually no major reconstruction is evident. Landmarks such as the grand Roman Catholic cathedral and the majestic presidential palace remain misshapen carcasses. Only 5% of the rubble has been cleared, according to one estimate.

The majority of the population remain jobless. And the nearly 1,200 tent encampments scattered across the city, where more than 1 million displaced people sought shelter, have taken on a deliberate permanence, much as aid workers a year ago said they feared would happen.


A year later, the slow pace of overall recovery and reconstruction is being widely criticized by outside experts and watchdog groups as Haiti’s tragedies merely multiply: A cholera epidemic has infected more than 170,000 people and claimed nearly 4,000 lives, and a political crisis has left the country unable to choose its next president.

“I feel uneasy and sort of uncomfortable about what is still a disaster situation for most of the population,” said Stefano Zannini, head of mission in Haiti for Doctors Without Borders, one of the largest and longest-serving aid groups in the country. “During the last year, I’ve heard a lot of … talking about promises, plans, strategies, money. These three, four words, you know, over and over. Promises.”

In a scathing report last week, the international charity Oxfam cited a “quagmire of indecision and delay” that has paralyzed efforts to provide housing to the more than 1 million homeless and may have contributed to the cholera epidemic.


Oxfam and other critics blame a historically weak and dysfunctional state beset by coups, military dictatorships and a self-protecting elite; a lack of leadership from a government that also suffered heavily in the earthquake (all major government headquarters were destroyed or damaged, 30% of civil servants were killed, and President Rene Preval essentially went AWOL in the first desperate days after the disaster); and poor coordination among the myriad humanitarian agencies. Some organizations and foreign governments have also been reluctant to release money into the corrupt morass of the Haitian state and business elite.

The highly heralded reconstruction committee chaired by former President Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive has also come under criticism. Formed in April to head disaster management, the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission has met only four times, Zannini said.

“Look, nobody’s been more frustrated than I am that we haven’t done more,” Clinton said Tuesday in Port-au-Prince. “But I’m encouraged if you look at how much faster it’s been going in the last four months.”

It is sad to read the aid is slow going in Haiti, and the committee chaired by Bill Clinton is being criticized for its delays. It is disheartening to see the suffering Haitians must deal with, suffering that seems to be never-ending. Here is a post from the State Departments Blog: Haiti: One Year Later | U.S. Department of State Blog And this from the Guardian: Haiti: rocked to its foundations | Art and design | The Guardian

And on another island nation in the Caribbean : Marco Rubio: Obama administration putting out feelers on changes to U.S.-Cuba policy | Naked Politics

Rubio said the Obama administration was already putting out “trial balloons” to feel out new members of Congress on their feelings toward loosening U.S. economic and travel restrictions on Cuba.

But the feelers won’t go anywhere, Rubio said, because he and other like-minded senators and House members will educate their colleagues on the political reality in Cuba, including telling them about political prisoners like American Alan Gross, who has been imprisoned for more than a year.

A lot of elected officials don’t know about the political reality in Cuba, Rubio said, not because they’re Communists but because they come from states where the issue isn’t discussed — or where agricultural interests persuade them to let them sell their goods on the island.

Politico has the interview here: Rubio: Obama quietly seeking Cuba changes

Cuba was always a big topic in my hometown. So many of the first wave of Cubans that fled that country do not want to see American/Cuban relations to soften. I don’t know if it is a spiteful kind of reaction, because the loss of their property and livelihood. There is some interesting commentary on this from the Institute of Latino Studies at Notre Dame.

My own family on my father’s side came to Florida from Cuba in 1904. They owned a cigar factory in Marti City, near Ocala, FL and another factory in Port Tampa. If you ever have the time, please look into the History of the Cigar Factories in Tampa, FL…very interesting stuff!

So what is on your reading list today? I know there is a lot going on, let’s jump in and discuss it.

Secretary & the City: Hillary in Abu Dhabi

A brief Hillary update… H/T stacyx at for the photos of Hillary at the ladies’ talk show Kalam Nawaem.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton poses with the presenters of the Arabic ladies' talk show "Kalam Nawaem"

From the Gray Lady’s reporting on Hillary’s arrival in Abu Dhabi on Sunday for a several-day visit to the Persian Gulf region with multiple stops:

Mrs. Clinton acknowledged that this trip, which includes stops in Dubai, Oman and Qatar, will be devoted at least in part to making amends for these embarrassing disclosures. She spent much of her last trip to Central Asia apologizing for the leaks to aggrieved world leaders.

“I think I will be answering concerns about WikiLeaks until the end of my life, not just the end of my tenure as secretary of state,” she said, joking that she has asked her staff to make jackets like those worn by touring rock bands, with a picture of the globe and the title “The Apology Tour.”

Saudi talk show host Hiba Jamal (L) takes a picture of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) with Lebanese presenter Rania Barghut after recording a special episode. (KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)

From Greta Van Susteran:

Per ABC VIP pool, clinton speaking at a town hall meeting in Abu Dhabi.

“Look we have extremists in my country. A wonderful, incredibly brave young woman congress member, congresswoman giffords was just shot in our country. We have the same kinds of problems. So rather than standing off from each other, we should work to try to prevent the extremists anywhere from being able to commit violence.

Hillary takes the high road. It’s how she rolls. She understands we’re all in this together.

Reuters has also picked up on Hillary’s remarks on the AZ shooter and has more details:

Clinton, speaking on Monday in the United Arab Emirates, made the comment in response to a question about the September 11, 2001 attacks, carried out by al Qaeda.

A student at a town hall-style meeting asked why U.S. opinion often blames the entire Arab world for 9/11. Clinton said this was due to misperceptions and the media impact of political violence.

More from further down in the Reuters report:

Clinton, who said she hopes her current trip to the Gulf will help to strengthen U.S. and Arab mutual understanding, said both societies should work to offset the sometimes overly loud voices on the political fringes.

“The extremists and their voices, the crazy voices that sometimes get on the TV, that’s not who we are, that’s not who you are, and what we have to do is get through that and make it clear that that doesn’t represent either American or Arab ideas or opinions,” she said.

This echoes Hillary’s condemnation of the Qu’ran-burning BS back in September, in which she said the religious bigotry driving that behavior:

“doesn’t, in any way, represent America or Americans or American Government or American religious or political leadership. And we are, as you’ve seen in the last few days, speaking out.” –HRC, today at the CFR

There is something so wonderfully assertive and definitive about the way Hillary says it.

Here’s another Hillary headline that grabbed my attention straight away. Read the rest of this entry »

Monday Reads

Good Morning! It’s been a tough weekend. As usual when dreadful events happen, the cable channels are covering the shooting in Arizona 24/7. Things are still happening in the DC despite the horror of that story. I just don’t know how much more I can read about it. Thinking about senseless hatred and violence is starting to make me feel physically ill.

If you do want to read more about the Arizona tragedy, the Washington Post has special section on it: Special Report: The Tucson shooting rampage. The New York Times also has lots of stories and photos on the front page.

Now I’ll see if I can find any other important stories for you to check out this morning.

On Saturday, I wrote a long piece on Darrell Issa, the man who is going have subpoena power as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee. The man is a thug, and we’d better be paying attention to what he’s doing. I hope when the news about the shooting calms down that people will take a look at that piece. I don’t usually “pimp” my posts, but I feel that this one is important.

Now I see that the Republicans plan to make changes in another important House committee: Republicans banish ‘civil rights’ and ‘civil liberties’ from House subcommittee

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) blasted Republicans for planning to change the name of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties to the “Constitution Subcommittee.”

“Once again, the new Republican majority has shown that it isn’t quite as committed to the Constitution as its recent lofty rhetoric would indicate,” Rep. Nadler, who has served as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties since 2007, said.

“It has yet again shown its contempt for key portions of the document – the areas of civil rights and civil liberties – by banishing those words from the title of the Constitution Subcommittee.”

The Subcommittee on the Constitution is one of five subcommittees of the US House Committee on the Judiciary. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over constitutional amendments, constitutional rights, federal civil rights, ethics in government, and related matters.

Nice, huh?

I’ve seen people talking about this in the comments, but can I just say that I’m sick and tired of people tampering with Huckleberry Finn? It’s one of my favorite books. I have read it multiple times, and I happen to think it’s a candidate for the Great American Novel.

Mark Twain wrote the book the way he did to deliver some serious messages, one of which was an argument against racism. He did that by demonstrating in his novel why racism is wrong. There is also a strong message in the book about child neglect and abuse and about alcoholism. It’s a brilliant book, and there is no need to censor it. If it is taught in school, then the context of the language Twain used can be discussed and debated. Huckleberry Finn is not a children’s book. High school students are perfectly capable of understanding the book and its importance.

Here’s a piece at Truthdig that offers 10 Reasons Why the Slurs Should Stay in ‘Huck Finn.’ It’s pretty good.

When I was a senior in high school I read Shakespeare’s plays in my English class. There were two teachers who taught the Shakespeare course. My teacher had us read the plays aloud as written. The other teacher, an elderly woman, had students read the “dirty” parts silently. I’m glad I wasn’t in her class. But at least she didn’t make the students skip over those parts entirely or try to censor the plays.

I say let’s read the greatest works of literature as written.

Here’s a interesting and ironic story at the LA Times: 1800s-era skeletons discovered as crews build L.A. heritage center

Under a half-acre lot of dirt and mud being transformed into a garden and public space for a cultural center celebrating the Mexican American heritage of Los Angeles, construction workers and scientists have found bodies buried in the first cemetery of Los Angeles — bodies believed to have been removed and reinterred elsewhere in the 1800s.

Since late October, the fragile bones of dozens of Los Angeles settlers have been discovered under what will be the outdoor space of La Plaza de Cultura y Artes downtown near Olvera Street. According to archaeologists and the chief executive of La Plaza, they appear to be remains from the Campo Santo, or cemetery, connected to the historic Catholic church Our Lady Queen of Angels, commonly called La Placita. The remains are just south of the church.

Pieces of decaying wood coffins as well as religious artifacts such as rosary beads and medals have also been unearthed.

The cemetery, which officially closed in 1844, was the final resting place of a melting pot of early Los Angeles — Native Americans; Spanish, Mexican, European settlers; and their intermarried offspring. But the repercussions of the discovery outside La Placita have been anything but peaceful.

So digging up the bones of early settlers in order to build a monument to early settlers. Ironic.

Dakinikat sent me this Bloomberg article about Goldman Sachs and their investment in Facebook.

News has leaked out that Goldman, supposedly the smartest Wall Street firm, will buy $450 million of stock in closely held Facebook, with Digital Sky Technologies, which invests in start- ups and is partly owned by Goldman, purchasing another $50 million.

The anonymous folks who put out these numbers said the deal sets a value for Facebook equal to that of Boeing Co. and approaching that of Home Depot Inc.

Goldman clearly is capitalizing on Wall Street’s latest diversion: a semi-public stock market for private companies.

Several firms now offer shares of closely held companies or offer estimates of their value, or both.

It seems that Goldman is hyping Facebook in order to increase the value of its own investment in advance of Facebook going public. Shouldn’t that be illegal?

Dak also sent me this link to the Economist about the war on government unions: It’s a long article and I haven’t been able to read the whole thing yet, but it looks worthwhile. Perhaps Dak will do a longer post on this issue.

[MABlue’s picks]
Bethany McLean from Vanity Fair has a great reportage about Goldman Sachs. These poor guys, they’re so misunderstood.
The Bank Job

One of the biggest disconnects on Wall Street today is between the way Goldman Sachs sees itself (they’re the smartest) and the way everyone else sees Goldman (they’re the smartest, greediest, and most dangerous). Questioning C.E.O. Lloyd Blankfein, C.O.O. Gary Cohn, and C.F.O. David Viniar, among others, the author explores how their firm navigated the collapse of September 2008, why it has already set aside $16.7 billion for compensation this year, and which lines it’s accused of crossing.

There’s more on the heinous crimes of the week-end, violent rhetoric from Right (spare me the “Both-Sides-Do-It”), and intimidation of political figures.
How the Tucson Massacre Rattled U.S. Judges

For a moment, U.S. District Judge John M. Roll seemed as likely the main target of the Tucson massacre as Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In 2009, Roll had come under threats severe enough that he and his family were placed under 24-hour protection by the U.S. Marshals Service. After he ruled that a high-profile suit brought by a group of Mexican immigrants could proceed, his phone lines were deluged with angry callers — including at least four that threatened violence.

At the time, the U.S. Marshal for Arizona told the Arizona Republic that the threats had been egged on by radio talk-show hosts critical of Roll’s decision. Critics began sharing his personal information on Web sites as the rhetoric became more heated. The round-the-clock protection lasted a month, though Roll ultimately decided not to press charges against the callers.
For some members of the judiciary, the news that Roll was among the six who died during the shooting spree in Tucson was unsettling in ways that went beyond personal grief from those who knew and served with Roll, who had been placed on the bench by President George H. W. Bush in 1991 at the urging of Senator John McCain. Just minutes after learning of the slayings, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman of Chicago told TIME in an email that the news of the murder was “very disturbing… Just when we were beginning to feel more secure.”

Or I see. There’s a big difference between men’s tears and women’s tears. As “luck” would have it (or as always in these matters), men’s tears are a turn on for women, but women’s tears are a turnoff for men. Or is it? There’s an interesting study out but not all agree on the interpretation of the results.
Crying, Sex, and John Boehner: Not So Fast

The study is, predictably, getting a lot of media attention (WOMEN’S TEARS SAY, ‘NOT TONIGHT, DEAR’), but experts on tears and crying aren’t so sure the findings mean what the Weizmann scientists say they do. “I like their study very much, and I think their results are fascinating, but I have my doubts about their interpretation,” says Vingerhoets. “I suspect the sexual effect is just a side effect: testosterone, which was reduced when men sniffed the women’s tears, isn’t only about sex: it’s also about aggression. And that fits better with our current thinking about tears.”

Sooooo…. What are you reading this morning?