Thursday Reads

Paula Modersohn-Becker with Elspeth c1903

Good Afternoon!!

Today’s Google doodle honors pioneering impressionist artist Paula Modersohn-Becker. I had never heard of her, so I decided to look at her work. I’m using some of her paintings to illustrate this post. Time Magazine has some background on her life and art.

The first woman to paint a naked self-portrait didn’t care much for the traditional expectations or institutions that constrained most European women at the turn of the 20th century. Paula Modersohn-Becker’s parents wanted her to become a teacher, and told her to abandon her “egotism” in order to carry out her wifely duties; instead, she became one of the era’s most prolific artists, and helped give rise to the modernist movement alongside Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse….

At the age of 18, she defied her parents to join an artist colony in Worpswede, in northern Germany. There, she met her future husband, the older, respected artist Otto Modersohn.

Eager to learn more about modern art, Modersohn-Becker soon after moved to Paris, and encouraged Modersohn to join her. The two got engaged, at which point Modersohn-Becker ‘s family intervened and sent her to a cooking school in preparation for her coming marriage.

Self Portrait

But she refused to put aside her ambitions and paint brushes, and boldly declared she “was going to become somebody“. Her works often featured regular women, frequently painted nude, as they slept, breastfed and gardened.

In 1906 alone, the prolific artist painted 80 pictures. She died later the following year of an embolism, 18 days after giving birth to her daughter at the age of 31.

She “declared she ‘was going to become somebody.” I just love that! Reading about this courageous woman took me out of the insanity of America’s present moment for a little while, and I’m grateful for that brief respite.

Today’s news is as crazy as ever. I wrote in a comment on JJ’s post that maybe Trump’s “success” in business was partially a result of the chaos he constantly creates. He frequently had to be bailed out of his massive mistakes–first by his father and then by various banks and investors. He refused to pay contractors and employees until they simply gave up in disgust.

Many of the people who have tried to deal with Trump have ended up simply throwing up their hands. We see that happening in the White House and even in the media. The man is a walking, talking disaster area. Everything he touches turns to shit and everywhere he goes he leaves terrible damage in his wake. I wonder if American democracy will survive.

Trump also seems to attract other people with dark and ugly personalities. Take White House chief of staff John Kelly, for example. When he was first appointed to his current position, the media celebrated Kelly as the “adult in the room” who would tame Trump’s wild and dangerous authoritarian tendencies. Now we know Kelly and Trump are two peas in a pod. The only difference is that Kelly had a slightly more dignified facade. But that’s gone now; Kelly has shown us who he is: a bigoted, foul-mouthed, unapologetic authoritarian, just like Trump.

Gail Collins at The New York Times: Trump’s Worst Watcher.

Do you remember back when everybody thought John Kelly was going to calm down the Trump White House?

Stop laughing. Although it has been another wow of a week, hasn’t it? We had one top administration official, Rob Porter, resigning over claims of domestic abuse regarding two ex-wives. Kelly defended Porter as “a friend, a confidant and a trusted professional” shortly before a picture popped up of one former Mrs. Porter sporting a black eye.

This was a little bit after Kelly himself made headlines for suggesting that some young immigrants couldn’t qualify for federal help because they were just “too lazy to get off their asses” and file some paperwork. Meanwhile the president, apparently unsupervised, was calling for a government shutdown and lobbying enthusiastically for an expensive new military parade. Because he saw one in Paris and thought it was cool.

A good chief of staff advises the president against doing things that will make the administration look stupid or crazy. So, are we all in agreement that Kelly, retired general turned Trump chief of staff, appears to be … a failure? And sort of a jerk in the bargain?

For example:

The world began to notice that Kelly was perhaps not as cool, calm and collected as we’d bargained for when he was coordinating a condolence call by the president to Myeshia Johnson, whose husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, was killed while serving on a strange mission in Niger.

It did not go well. Ms. Johnson said the president seemed to forget her husband’s name. His idea of comfort, she said, was to tell her La David knew “what he was signing up for.” Trump naturally denied everything. Representative Frederica Wilson, a family friend, made the whole disaster public. Kelly then waded in with an emotional speech in which he assailed Wilson for taking credit for getting funding for a Florida building named after two slain F.B.I. agents. Its overall weirdness was matched only by its total inaccuracy.

The next step, in theory, would be an apologetic call from Kelly to the congresswoman. Or assigning someone to reach out to La David Johnson’s widow and try to smooth the whole awful situation over. Never happened.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair: Beyond Disbelief: John Kelly’s Defense of Rob Porter Roils The West Wing.

For weeks, Donald Trump has been souring on his Chief of Staff John Kelly because of his controlling ways and rising public profile. And now Kelly is in the midst of a bonafide crisis, one that exacerbates the president’s own #MeToo problems. On Tuesday, Kelly strongly defended White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter against disturbing allegations, first published in the Daily Mail, that he abused his ex-wives. Kelly’s decision to back Porter has left many people inside the White House angry, two sources with knowledge of the matter said. On Wednesday afternoon, Porter resigned. Axios reported Kelly wanted Porter to “stay and fight.”

Girl in a red dress with a sunflower

Yesterday, Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, told the Mail that Porter called her a “fucking bitch” on their honeymoon, and once pulled her naked out of the shower. In response, Kelly put out a statement calling Porter “a man of true integrity and honor” and a “trusted professional.” But shortly after Kelly rallied behind his colleague, Porter’s first wife came forward with additional harrowing allegations. Colbie Holderness, who married Porter in 2009, told the Daily Mail that Porter punched her in the face and choked her, among other alleged abuses. The article included a photo of her with a black eye. “It was not hard enough for me to pass out, but it was scary, humiliating, and dehumanizing,” she said. Porter told the Daily Mail that the allegations were “slanderous and simply false.”

Kelly’s decision to go to bat for Porter deeply frustrated White House staffers, sources told me. He was supposed to be the West Wing’s resident grown-up, but staffers are increasingly questioning Kelly’s judgment, four Republicans close to the White House told me. “It’s beyond disbelief. Everyone is trying to figure out why Kelly is leading the charge to save him,” one former West Wing official said. Another Republican said: “How many times has Kelly put out a statement defending Trump?”

Sources said Kelly was so quick to defend Porter because the two have grown very close since Trump appointed Kelly chief of staff last summer. Porter, a Rhodes scholar, has helped Kelly instill discipline in the West Wing. Kelly has told people that Porter has a “calming effect” on White House operations. For instance, it’s Porter who screens all the information that gets to Trump’s desk. Porter also helped Kelly conduct a West Wing organizational study that provided Kelly with a cudgel to sideline Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, two former West Wing officials told me. The officials also said Kelly supported Porter even after the F.B.I. delayed granting Porter’s security clearance because they uncovered his alleged history of spousal abuse.

Kelly needs to go. Now. Late last night, he finally claimed (probably after urging from WH staff members who still have consciences) that he was “shocked” by the allegations of abuse that he previously didn’t give a shit about.

There’s plenty of news on the Russia investigation.

Last night NBC News published new details on Russia’s hacking of state voting systems: Russians penetrated U.S. voter systems, top U.S. official says.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, said she couldn’t talk about classified information publicly, but in 2016, “We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.”

A boy in front of apple trees, 1901

Jeh Johnson, who was DHS secretary during the Russian intrusions, said, “2016 was a wake-up call and now it’s incumbent upon states and the Feds to do something about it before our democracy is attacked again.”

“We were able to determine that the scanning and probing of voter registration databases was coming from the Russian government.”

NBC News reported in Sept. 2016 that more than 20 states had been targeted by the Russians.

There is no evidence that any of the registration rolls were altered in any fashion, according to U.S. officials.

Read more details at the link above.

Meduza (“The Real Russia, Today”): An escort girl may be the latest ‘Russia Gate’ link.

Alexey Navalny has published new corruption allegations against Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko and oligarch Oleg Deripaska, alleging that the two met aboard Deripaska’s yacht in August 2016 off the coast of Norway, possibly to discuss the oligarch’s relationship with Paul Manafort and his role in Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Navalny says he learned about the meeting thanks to an escort who posted photos from the excursion on Instagram. Navalny says the trip amounts to a bribe, insofar as Deripaska apparently flew Prikhodko in on his private jet and then provided him with the services of an “escort girl.”

Navalny also alleges that Prikhodko owns a home valued at 300 million rubles ($5.2 million) in a luxurious area outside Moscow, as well as two apartments in the city worth almost 500 million rubles ($8.7 million) — real estate that the oppositionist says Prikhodko could only afford because of bribes.

We’ll have wait and see if this story gets filled out in U.S. or British media.

USA Today: George W. Bush: ‘Clear evidence Russians meddled’ in election.

Former president George W. Bush appeared to take aim at President Trump on Thursday when he said at an economic summit that there was “pretty clear evidence that the Russians meddled” in the 2016 U.S. election.

Bush did not directly name Trump during his talk in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. He appeared there as part of a conference by the Milken Institute, a think tank based in Santa Monica, Calif.

“Whether (Russia) affected the outcome is another question,” Bush said. “It’s problematic that a foreign nation is involved in our election system. Our democracy is only as good as people trust the results.”

The Washington Post: Justice Dept. official who helped oversee Clinton, Russia probes steps down.

David Laufman, an experienced federal prosecutor who in 2014 became chief of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, said farewell to colleagues Wednesday. He cited personal reasons.

His departure from the high-pressure job comes as President Trump and his Republican allies have stepped up attacks on the Justice Department, the FBI and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III for their handling of the Russia probe.

“It’s tough to leave a mission this compelling and an institution as exceptional as the Department of Justice,” said Laufman, 59. “But I know that prosecutors and agents will continue to bring to their work precisely what the American people should expect: a fierce and relentless commitment to protect the national security of the United States.”

 “David’s departure is a great loss for the department,’’ said Mary McCord, a former acting head of the National Security Division who resigned in May. “He has the integrity and attention to detail that is critical to investigating and prosecuting the types of sensitive matters handled by the department’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.”

I hadn’t heard of Laufman before, but the story says he was a target of right wing attacks.

Laufman became a target of the far-right blogosphere, with conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich accusing him last year of being the source of “national security leaks.” Cernovich’s claim, which Laufman’s colleagues have called baseless, surfaced after media reports detailed then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s discussion of U.S. sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

The online attacks persisted for months. After Comey’s firing in May, Cernovich posted a piece titled “Will DOJ leaker David Laufman be next to leave after #Comey?”

Critics noted that Laufman had donated to Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, referring to him as a “holdover.” But he is a career attorney who has served as a political appointee in Republican administrations as well, notably as chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003.

One more interesting read is this long piece at Politico Magazine by Luke Harding: Why Carter Page Was Worth Watching. There’s plenty of evidence that the former Trump campaign adviser, for all his quirks, was on suspiciously good terms with Russia.

The article is an excerpt from Harding’s book Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win.

What stories are you following today?

 

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Tuesday Reads: Ferguson Updates

ferguson photos

Good Morning!!

I can’t stop thinking about the events in Ferguson, Missouri, and flashing back to similar iconic events in the 1960s. How far have we really come since the days of the Civil Rights Movement? Clearly, racism is alive and well in 2014, particularly in police departments around the country–and not just in the South. Will the disease of racism ever be wiped out in this country, or can we only hope to control it through great effort–with laws, education, organizing, and public demonstrations?

Ferguson citizens were forced to live through another night of chaos last night, and I’m convinced at this point that deliberate police actions are making things much worse. The man in charge, Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Police is clearly being used as a pawn. He was set up to fail, and at this point he is simply putting a friendly face on an ugly show of force intended to intimidate protesters and media alike. And he’s lying to make excuses for what has basically become a nightly police riot. I’ve been watching the live feed from Ferguson night after night, and I have yet to see any evidence of protesters throwing Molotov cocktails or attacking police (UPDATE: Dakinikat says there is one in the NYT video at this link.

Perhaps we’d know more about what is happening on the ground if new helicopters could fly over Ferguson, but police have ordered them not to, saying that only police helicopter can do so. Reporters and news photographers have been arrested and threatened with being maced or shot. Yesterday, as everyone here knows, police in St. Louis arrested 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein. From The Independent UK:

Hedy Epstein, a 90-year-old survivor of the Holocaust, was reportedly among those arrested during protests in downtown St Louis as tensions flared over the death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Eight protesters were arrested for “failure to disperse” on Monday after marching from the Kiener Plaza to the Wainwright building where Governor Jay Nixon has an office, St Louis police confirmed on Twitter.

Ms Epstein was pictured being led away in handcuffs during demonstrations against the National Guard’s presence on the streets where clashes between protesters and authorities have been the most severe.

Ms Epstein, a resident of St Louis, is a political activist and speaker widely known for her vocal support of the Free Gaza Movement.

“I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was ninety,” Ms Epstein told The Nation as she was led away by police. “We need to stand up today so that people won’t have to do this when they’re 90.”

Yes, the protests have spread to St. Louis proper now, and people are gathering in many other cities to show solidarity with Ferguson. Also arrested yesterday was Getty Images photojournalist Scott Olson, who is responsible for many of the most dramatic photos from Ferguson since the protests began.

King and Ghandi, Robert Templeton

King and Ghandi, Robert Templeton

But I want to return to the subject of racism and dishonesty in the Ferguson Police Department. I think most people who have been paying attention to this story will agree that the Ferguson cops cannot be trusted at this point. Some history, from Michael Daly at The Daily Beast: Missouri Cops’ License to Kill.

The death of 18-year-old Michael Brown is not the first time an officer supervised by Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson has killed an unarmed man….

Back in 2000, two unarmed young men were shot and killed in a Jack in the Box parking lot in the suburban town of Berkeley adjacent to Ferguson by a pair of officers assigned to a county-wide drug task force where Jackson was deputy commander.

Early reports suggested that a vehicle occupied by Earl Murray and Ronald Beasley moved toward Officers Robert Piekutowski and Keith Kierzkowski, causing them to fear being pinned against another car.

Jackson, then a lieutenant with the St. Louis County Police, told reporters, “I am convinced that the officers were in fear of their lives, that they were in immediate danger.” ….

Subsequently, investigators decided that the car occupied by the two men had not in fact begun to move in their direction when the fatal shots were fired. The officers insisted they were in fear for their lives nonetheless, essentially arguing that the car was itself a deadly weapon pointed their way. That was enough for the shooting to be ruled justified under Missouri state law. The cops were not indicted.

Read more about it at the link. It’s high time Jackson was removed as Ferguson Police Chief.

Civil Rights Movement, Camille Shumann

Civil Rights Movement, Camille Shumann

And then there was the “other Michael Brown.” From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Michael Brown, 23, of Troy, Mo., who was shot and killed along with a friend in October 2005.

Authorities said that Lincoln County sheriff’s Deputy Nic Forler fired through the back window of a pickup, killing Brown and the driver, Tyler Teasley, 22. No one in the truck was armed.

Police said Forler tried to stop Teasley’s truck for speeding but was led on a short chase. When the truck finally stopped, Forler pulled behind it, got out of his patrol car and stood between the vehicles.

Witnesses said Teasley was “freaking out” because he had been drinking, there was alcohol in the car and several passengers were under 21. In his panic, they said, Teasley left the truck in neutral. As the truck rolled backward, Forler fired the fatal shots that struck both victims in the head.

Family and friends demonstrated regularly outside the sheriff’s office. Forler was dismissed from the force and charged with involuntary manslaughter.

In a trial in 2007, moved to Boone County because of the controversy caused in Lincoln County, Forler testified that he believed Teasley was trying to run him over, and he feared for his life. The jury took only three hours to find Forler not guilty.

Read the Post-Dispatch article to learn about two more such incidents in Missouri.

Now let’s take a look at the case that Ferguson Chief Jackson has been building in order to blame Michael Brown for his own death. According to Jackson, Brown committed a “strong-arm robbery” at a gas station convenience store shortly before he was accosted by Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed the unarmed teenager. But did that really happen? I don’t think so.

A couple of days ago people from Ferguson began posting on Twitter that the owners of the store denied reporting any robbery. Then KSDK learned from the owners’ attorney that they never reported any robbery involving Michael Brown and that perhaps a customer had called 911. But did that even happen?

I can’t prove it, but I think what may have happened is that police took surveillance videos from a number of locations and just happened to find the video of Brown in buying cigars. A Ferguson resident on Twitter told me yesterday that the store owners are saying the Ferguson police didn’t pick up the store video until last Friday, not too long before Jackson gave his press conference. And the St. Louis News confirms the tweeter was right.

The owner[s] of the store dispute the claim that they or an employee called 911, saying a customer inside the store made the call.  They also say St. Louis County issues the warrants for the hard drive of surveillance video Friday.

When asked how Ferguson police ended up with the video that the Ferguson police chief issued Friday morning.  The attorney said during the course of Ferguson’s investigation they came to the store and asked to review the tape. But it wasn’t until Friday that St. Louis County investigators issued a warrant for the video many of you have already seen.

Therefore, there is no way that Darren Wilson could have known anything about the “robbery” or that Michael Brown was a suspect.

Civil Rights Line, Janie McGee

Civil Rights Line, Janie McGee

A couple of days ago, Joy Reid of The Grio and MSNBC posted on Twitter that the store video appeared to show that Brown had actually paid for the cigars he took from the store.

Then last night Crooks and Liars put up a detailed post about it, Ferguson Cops Busted? New Video Seems To Show Brown Paying For Cigarillos (Video), by John Prager. Crooks and Liars doesn’t allow copy and paste anymore, so you’ll need to go to the link to read the article, but Prager it looks like Brown buys some cigarillos, then tries to by more, but doesn’t have enough money and so replaces them. Brown did reach across the counter, and that may be why the clerk tried to confront him.

Here’s the video.

Will the Ferguson police get away with murder once again? I think it’s likely unless the DOJ finds that the shooting of Michael Brown is a Civil Rights case. U.S. News today posted an article quoting attorneys who have defended police shooters, Police Attorneys: Brown Head Wounds Not Fatal to Officer’s Defense.

Pathologists said they found a bullet wound at the apex of the 6-foot-4 Brown’s head and what appeared to be a bullet entry above his right eye that continued downward into his jaw and then shoulder. The wounds appear to show Brown was not standing upright at the time he was shot.

“Just because he was shot somewhere near the top of his head, I don’t think that’s indicative of anything at this point,” says New Orleans attorney Eric Hessler, who defended officers involved in the 2005 post-Hurricane Katrina shooting deaths of two people on the Danziger Bridge and another person outside a convention center.

“There are scenarios that I can envision where a police officer would be justified in using deadly force in that situation,” Hessler says of the Brown case. “It depends on what the individual was doing while he was shot.”

Several officers were convicted of crimes in the post-Katrina cases, but the bridge shooting verdicts were vacated and the case is not resolved.

Attorney James Culleton, who defended New York City police officers who shot and killed unarmed black men Amadou Diallo in 1999 and Sean Bell in 2006, agrees with Hessler that the bullet trajectory isn’t necessarily game-changing.

“If the person is facing you, he’s charging at you, he could have put down his head,” Culleton says. “His head could have just slumped like he was falling forward. It doesn’t mean it’s devastating [evidence].”

We’ll have to wait and see. For now, it’s high time for Chief Jackson to be fired and for Darren Wilson to be arrested. This murderer is still receiving his salary!

civil-rights-museum-m

I’ll end with some recent headlines about Ferguson.

LA Times: Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson becomes an international incident.

Reuters: U.S. police come under gunfire, arrest 31 in Missouri racial unrest.

The Guardian: Ferguson: 31 arrested as huge show of force fails to quell unrest.

WaPo: Ferguson protesters: The peaceful, the elders, the looters, and the ‘militants’

NYT: Not Just Ferguson: National Guard Has a Long History With Civil Unrest.

Business Insider Australia: Police Captain Blames ‘A Lot’ Of The Press For ‘Glamorizing’ Ferguson Protests.

The Daily Mail: ‘He’s quiet and respectful’: Second friend of cop who shot dead Michael Brown comes to his defense as ‘more than a dozen people have backed up Ferguson officer’s story’.

WaPo: Holder headed to Ferguson on Wednesday, will oversee federal response to shooting.

Jonathan Capehart: Probe into Michael Brown shooting goes to pot.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday.


Friday Reads

Good Morning!

bathing_beauty_striped_swim

Sorry this will be a little short. I have a friend from Ft. Worth visiting me, so my on-line time is a bit limited at the moment.  However, it’s been really hot and steamy so I have to say that it is a relief to stay inside and just watch the sun go down. I have no idea why anyone wants to extend the summer days in this kind of heat.

The biggest story of the week is that debt-ridden Detroit has filed for bankruptcy.

Detroit, the cradle of America’s automobile industry and once the nation’s fourth-most-populous city, filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, the largest American city ever to take such a course.

The decision, confirmed by officials after it trickled out in late afternoon news reports, also amounts to the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in American history in terms of debt.

“This is a difficult step, but the only viable option to address a problem that has been six decades in the making,” said Gov. Rick Snyder, who authorized the move after a recommendation from the emergency financial manager he had appointed to resolve Detroit’s dire financial situation.

Not everyone agrees how much Detroit owes, but Kevyn D. Orr, the emergency manager, has said the debt is likely to be $18 billion and perhaps as much as $20 billion.

For Detroit, the filing came as a painful reminder of a city’s rise and fall.

“It’s sad, but you could see the writing on the wall,” said Terence Tyson, a city worker who learned of the bankruptcy as he left his job at Detroit’s municipal building on Thursday evening. Like many there, he seemed to react with muted resignation and uncertainty about what lies ahead, but not surprise. “This has been coming for ages.”

Detroit expanded at a stunning rate in the first half of the 20th century with the arrival of the automobile industry, and then shrank away in recent decades at a similarly remarkable pace. A city of 1.8 million in 1950, it is now home to 700,000 people, as well as to tens of thousands of abandoned buildings, vacant lots and unlit streets.

From here, there is no road map for Detroit’s recovery, not least of all because municipal bankruptcies are rare. State officials said ordinary city business would carry on as before, even as city leaders take their case to a judge, first to prove that the city is so financially troubled as to be eligible for bankruptcy, and later to argue that Detroit’s creditors and representatives of city workers and municipal retirees ought to settle for less than they once expected.

Some bankruptcy experts and city leaders bemoaned the likely fallout from the filing, including the stigma. They anticipate further benefit cuts for city workers and retirees, more reductions in services for residents, and a detrimental effect on borrowing.

endless-summer-full-flatThe strict Texas law put into place to stop women from exercising their constitutional right to abortion has begun to take its toll.

Planned Parenthood on Wednesday informed staff at three of its facilities in Texas that they would be closing, according to people familiar with the decision.

The three clinics are located in Bryan, Huntsville and Lufkin, Texas. They are closing in response to a new package of abortion restrictions signed into law on Thursday and funding cuts to Texas’ Women’s Health Program that were passed by the Texas state legislature in 2011. Out of the three Planned Parenthood clinics that are closing, only the Bryan clinic performs abortions.

“In recent years, Texas politicians have created an increasingly hostile environment for providers of reproductive health care in underserved communities. Texans with little or no access to health care services have been deeply affected by state budget cuts to programs provided by Planned Parenthood health centers and dozens of others that provided lifesaving cancer screenings, well-woman exams and birth control,” said Melaney A. Linton, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.”

“The combined impact of years of budget cuts to women’s health care services and the dismantling of the successful Women’s Health Program will take affordable, preventive health care options away from women in Bryan, Lufkin and Huntsville — just as these policies have taken health care away from an estimated 130,000 others — when Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is forced to close these family planning health centers at the end of August,” she said.

Some anti-choice legislators are trying to make the recently passed Texas bill even worse.

On Thursday, three Texas Republicans filed a measure that would criminalize abortion services after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they’re pregnant.

The Texas legislature is currently in the midst of a special session that was convened specifically to give lawmakers more time to consider abortion restrictions. The session will end on July 31. Until then, GOP lawmakers have been busy proposing a slew of anti-abortion bills in the hopes of being able to rush them through.

One of those bills, a measure to ban abortion after 20 weeks and shut down the majority of the states’ abortion clinics, has captured national attention over the past several weeks as thousands of Texans have rallied at the capitol in protest. The legislature gave final approval to that bill on Saturday, and Gov. Rick Perry (R) just signed it into law on Thursday morning. But that’s not enough to satisfy Reps. Phil King (R), Dan Flynn (R), and Geanie Morrison (R) — whofiled HB 59 on the same day that Perry signed the controversial abortion restrictions.

So-called “heartbeat” bills are so radical that they divide the anti-choice community. In addition to criminalizing the vast majority of abortions, they also mandate invasive ultrasound procedures for women seeking abortions. In order to detect a fetal heartbeat so early in a pregnancy, doctors typically have to use a transvaginal probe.

`Meanwhile, back in Virginia, the GOP candidate for Governor wants to reinstate the laws against oral sex!

In an unusual move, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), his party’s nominee for governor, launched a  new campaign website Wednesday highlighting his  efforts to reinstate Virginia’s unconstitutional Crimes Against Nature law. The rule, which makes felons out of even consenting married couples who engage in oral or anal sex in the privacy of their own homes, was  struck down by federal courts after Cuccinelli blocked efforts to bring it in line with the Supreme Court’s 2003  Lawrence v. Texas ruling.

The new site, vachildpredators.com, highlights 90 people identified “sexual predators” in Virginia who have been charged under the  law since the 2003 ruling, which held that states could not ban private, non-commercial sexual relations between consenting adults. Cuccinelli warns that these offenders “could come off Virginia’s sex offender registry if a Virginia law used to protect children is not upheld,” and identifies the sodomy law as only the “Anti-Child Predators Law.” While it is true that many sex offenders are charged under the Crimes Against Nature law, it is far from the only tool prosecutors have to  punish child predators.

 
dog-ladyIt is possible that some very wonderful paintings that were stolen in an art heist were destroyed by the thief’s mother in her home’s oven.

Did a cache of priceless stolen art go up in smoke in a Romanian village?

That’s what the art world is afraid of, amid reports that museum forensic specialists from Romania‘s National History Museum are analyzing ashes found in an oven in the village of the mother of the suspected heist ringleader.

The Associated Press reports that according to Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu, the museum’s director, investigators found “small fragments of painting primer, the remains of canvas, the remains of paint” and copper and steel nails, some of which pre-dated the 20th century, in an oven in the village of Caracliu where Olga Dogaru lives. Mrs. Dogaru’s son was arrested in January in connection with the theft of seven paintings – including works by Matisse, Monet, and Picasso – from Rotterdam‘s Kunsthal museum last October.

So, that’s it’ from me today.  I’m going to spend some more time with my friend!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today!


Friday Nite Lites: Binders, Cave Walls and the Importance of Editorial Cartoons

Via Kathy on my Facebook page…Scrolls full of women….love it!

Time again for those wonderful political editorial cartoons. First I want to bring you this essay by Mr. Fish. I’ve no doubt that many of you know my fondness for editorial cartoons. I think they are one of the most essential forms of expression and feel sure that you will agree they are vital in times like these.  So please read this essay in full. It is a long read but worth it.

Mr. Fish: Drawing Conclusions: The Editorial Cartoon – Truthdig

Mr. Fish is the curator of “Drawing Conclusions,” an exhibit exploring the history of editorial cartooning on display at USC Annenberg’s Second Floor Gallery and Room 207 from Oct. 24 to May 13, 2013. It is co-sponsored by The Future of Journalism Foundation, a project of Community Partners.

I have no idea what readership is of written editorials, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to the readership of editorial cartoons.
–Paul Conrad, editorial cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times

Stop them damned pictures! I don’t care so much what the papers say about me. My constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures!
–William “Boss” Tweed, discredited New York politician responding to editorial cartoons by Thomas Nast

Art is a finger up the bourgeoisie ass.
–Pablo Picasso

For reasons that may have to do only with the perfunctory indifference that comes with incuriosity, there has never been a precise understanding by the dominant culture of what an editorial cartoonist is. Having been inexorably linked to journalism because their work has traditionally been published in daily newspapers, the value and professional integrity of editorial cartoonists have been unfairly forced to rise and fall with the health of the Fourth Estate.

Thus, with the steady disintegration of the print media and the pandemic elimination of staff cartoonist positions from periodicals everywhere, the question has become: Without an industry to sustain the definition of what an editorial cartoonist has come to mean to the public mind, what will happen to those men and women who draw pictures containing a political or social message? When circumstances in a society shift dramatically enough to make extinct a profession so narrowly defined by myopic and mainstream ideas, does this mean the end of the activity previously exercised within that profession, or does it merely demand a reconfiguration of consciousness allowing for the emergence of a more enlightened understanding of what the editorial cartoonist’s job is and where it might best find support, institutional or otherwise? In other words, is cartooning a vocation or a calling?

It’s arguable that editorial cartooning, in one form or another, has been with us ever since, in the words of Mark Twain, God made the mistake of preserving sin by not forbidding Eve to devour the snake, an act of bureaucratic mismanagement so fundamentally destructive that our sense of moral self-determinism has never been the same. Nor has our belief in the absolute wisdom of our authority figures.

But editorial cartooning has been around even longer than that.  In fact, it is not beyond comprehension that we have never been without it, particularly if we are to define the word “editorial” as the exposition of a personal opinion and “cartooning” merely as the rendering of that opinion in pictorial form. Given such a description, we come to find that the earliest practitioners of the art form were editorializing on the walls of limestone caves in the south of France some 33,000 years ago, eons before the Bible places the events that took place in the Garden of Eden. Of even greater significance is how these cave drawings predate the invention of the written word by the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia by 30,000 years, proof that when it comes to the mode of communication upon which human beings have historically most relied, it is the visual depiction of our life’s experiences, rather than phonetic symbols arranged on a straight line, that have proven themselves most deeply meaningful.

That is just the first few paragraphs. Read the rest at the link above.

Now on with the show.

Let’s start with some cartoons on Malala Yousafzia, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban early last week.

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Afghan Women

Afghan Women © Bill Day,Cagle Cartoons,Taliban,women,children,malala yousafzai

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai © Pat Bagley,Salt Lake Tribune,Malala,Yousafzai,Taliban,Pakistan,education,knowledge,Women,malala yousafzai

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Malalas Courage

Malalas Courage © Jeff Koterba,Omaha World Herald, NE,malala,courage,taliban,shooting,education,women,teenager,school

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » And a Child Shall Lead Them

And a Child Shall Lead Them © Mark Streeter,The Savannah Morning News,malala yousafzai,activist,school,terror,child,taliban,shooting

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » CANADA Bullies

CANADA Bullies © Cardow,The Ottawa Citizen,CANADA,bullying,online,facebook,social,media,teenagers,Amanda,Todd,suicide,Pakistan,Malala,Yousafzai,Taliban,malala yousafzai

Now for some cartoons on Romney, including his binders full of women:

Talk about monsters in your closet, or at your front door: AAEC – Political Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez, El Nuevo Herald – 10/17/2012

Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez -

From my favorite cartoonist: 10/21 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Halloween candy | Mike Luckovich

mike102112

A woman’s place is in the binder – Political Cartoon by J.D. Crowe, Mobile Register – 10/19/2012

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - A woman's place is in the binder

AAEC – Political Cartoon by John Cole, Scranton Times/Tribune – 10/19/2012

Cartoon by John Cole -

Now a few on the debates:

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » VP Debate: Smile over substance

VP Debate: Smile over substance © Rob Tornoe,Media Matters,Paul Ryan,Joe Biden,Fox News,media,Vice President,VP Debate,water,debate,biden ryan debate

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Joe Heller, Green Bay Press-Gazette – 10/19/2012

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

BB sent me this next one, from Pat Bagley at the Salt Lake Tribune:

A few on Paul Ryan, and the Right Wing:

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Matt Bors, Universal Press Syndicate – 10/17/2012

Cartoon by Matt Bors -

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » 850 Calorie School Lunch

850 Calorie School Lunch © Bob Englehart,The Hartford Courant,school,food,calories,lunch,bread,water,students

(I do have to say, this cut in school lunch should bring healthier food, but they should not cut the portions.)

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 10/19/2012

Cartoon by David Horsey -

And with that Trolling Ratfucker…I end this post!


Lesbian Couple Told Not to Hold Hands in Museum

Photo of Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein, by Man Ray

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Jane Levikow went to the Contemporary Jewish Museum Sunday afternoon to look at art. She ended up with a refresher course in San Francisco civil rights.

Levikow was in the gallery with her partner when she noticed a young lesbian couple in heated conversation with a security guard.

“They were holding hands,” Levikow said, “and he told them they couldn’t hold hands in the museum.”

The couple argued with the guard and people began to gather around to see what was happening. The guard then tried to escort the couple out, but they refused to leave and demanded to talk to museum officials.

Daryl Carr, museum spokesman, says museum officials are active in supporting the LBGT community and that they have asked that the guard, who works for a private security company, be reprimanded.

Ironically, when the guard accosted them, the couple were viewing an exhibit about the life of Gertrude Stein, who was also a lesbian.