Posted: August 22, 2013 Filed under: Barack Obama, Crime, Criminal Justice System, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Antontin Scalia, Arizona Kansas lawsuit, australia, Bobby Jindal, Bradley Manning, Chelsea Manning, Chris Lane, David Sirota, FBI files, hormone therapy, Mark Ambinder, Michael Hastings, murder, SCOTUS, sex-reassignment surgery, The Guardian UK, transgender, voting rights, William Vollmann
I’m getting slow start this morning after rereading some of yesterday’s morning thread and seeing Fannie’s and Beata’s comments. Life is such a mystery . . . it often seems sad and even meaningless. And yet life is wonderful and beautiful too.
I don’t even know how to express what I’m feeling right now. I just want to thank all of you for being here. When I get discouraged and disgusted with our politics and the behavior of some of my fellow humans, it helps me to share my feelings with you and to get your reactions.
Now let’s see what’s in the news this morning.
Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison yesterday. But with good behavior he could be released in as little as 7 years. Charlie Savage and Emmarie Huetteman at The New York Times:
In a two-minute hearing on Wednesday morning, the judge, Col. Denise R. Lind of the Army, also said that Private Manning would be dishonorably discharged and reduced in rank from private first class to private, the lowest rank in the military. She said he would forfeit his pay, but she did not impose a fine.
Before the sentencing, Private Manning sat leaning forward with his hands folded, whispering to his lawyer, David Coombs. His aunt and two cousins sat quietly behind him. As Colonel Lind read the sentence, Private Manning stood, showing no expression. He did not make a statement.
The materials that Private Manning gave to WikiLeaks included a video taken during an American helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 in which civilians were killed, including two journalists. He also gave WikiLeaks some 250,000 diplomatic cables, dossiers of detainees being imprisoned without trial at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and hundreds of thousands of incident reports from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan….
Mr. Coombs later told reporters that he would apply for a presidential pardon next week and read a statement from Private Manning that he said would be included in his request.
“I only wanted to help people,” Private Manning’s statement said, adding, “If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society.”
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Army shows Pfc. Bradley Manning posing in a wig and lipstick.
Manning has expressed the desire to live as a woman, and although he may not be able to get hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery while he is in military prison, he has announced that he is now Chelsea Manning. From Joe Coscarelli at New York Magazine: Bradley Manning’s Long, Painful Road to Coming Out As Transgender.
Less than a day after being sentenced to 35 years in prison for passing classified U.S. documents to WikiLeaks, Army private Bradley Manning has a huge, if not exactly surprisingly, announcement: “I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” the 25-year-old wrote in a statement to Today. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun.”
But the transition has colored much of Manning’s life for many years and factors heavily into how she became one of the most notable leakers in American history. Even if much of the world is only now paying attention to Manning’s gender-questioning, it’s always been a part of her story.
Manning’s full letter is titled “The Next Stage of My Life” and has notes of relief, her trial and sentencing finally complete after three years. “As I transition into this next phase of my life,” Manning wrote, “I want everyone to know the real me.”
Manning was wrestling with her sexual orientation while serving in Iraq and when she got involved with WikiLeaks. As reported by Steve Fishman in a July 2011 issue of New York, “Among fellow soldiers, Manning had to conceal the basic facts of his sexual orientation. On the web, he was proudly out and joined a ‘Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ group. He’d even begun to explore switching his gender, chatting with a counselor about the steps a person takes to transition from male to female.”
Manning will probably be in her early 30s when she is released from prison; so she’ll still have a long and probably interesting life ahead of her when that time comes.
Australians are calling for a boycott of U.S. travel after the senseless shooting of young Australian college student Chris Lane in Oklahoma. CNN:
The indiscriminate shooting of Christopher Lane, a 23-year-old Australian who was living his dream of studying in the United States on a baseball scholarship, has repulsed many in his home country and led to calls for Australian tourists to boycott the United States.
“It is another example of murder mayhem on Main Street,” former Australian deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer told CNN’s Piers Morgan.
“People thinking of going to the USA for business or tourist trips should think carefully about it given the statistical fact you are 15 times more likely to be shot dead in the USA than in Australia per capita per million people.”
Police said Lane was on one of his regular runs through what has been described as the affluent town of Duncan on Friday about 3 p.m. when a car carrying three teenagers drove up behind him.
“They pulled up behind him and shot him in the back, then sped away,” said Capt. Jay Evans of the Duncan Police Department. “It could have been anybody — it was such a random act.”
Here’s a long article about the shooting from new.com.au: Chilling 911 call details final moments of Melbourne baseballer Chris Lane’s life.
What a heartbreaking story.
The states of Arizona and Kansas have followed a suggestion from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, according to TPM: Accepting Scalia’s Offer, Arizona Sues Obama Administration On Voting Rights.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, was announced by Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett, and joined by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a high-profile architect of restrictionist laws, including Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070.
The issue involves the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, also known as the “motor voter” law, which requires states to let people register to vote simply by attesting they are citizens, when renewing their driver’s license or applying for social services. A 2004 law adopted by the voters in Arizona added the requirement that people registering to vote also provide proof of citizenship. The Supreme Court struck down that law earlier this year, concluding that it is trumped by the motor voter law. Arizona, the court ruled, could not add new requirements to the form prescribed by the federal law.
But during oral arguments in March, Scalia expressed his bafflement that Arizona did not launch a broader assault on the constitutionality of the NVRA form, written by the Election Assistance Commission. The state simply contended in that case that its proof of citizenship law did not violate the federal law. Even Scalia disagreed with that, voting against Arizona in the ruling, but also giving them a valuable tip in his 7-2 majority opinion.
“We hold that [the NVRA] precludes Arizona from requiring a Federal Form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself,” Scalia wrote in the June decision. “Arizona may, however, request anew that the EAC include such a requirement among the Federal Form’s state-specific instructions, and may seek judicial review of the EAC’s decision under the Administrative Procedure Act.”
Sigh . . . read more at the link.
According to a new PPP poll, only 28 percent of Louisiana voters still think Governor Bobby Jindal is doing a good job.
Three years ago in August PPP declared Bobby Jindal to be the most popular Governor in the country. 58% of voters approved of him to only 34% who disapproved. Jindal’s fortunes have seen an amazing shift since that time though, and our newest poll finds him to be the most unpopular Republican Governor of any state- and the second most unpopular Governor in the country overall.
Just 28% of voters now approve of Jindal to 59% who disapprove. That’s an 11 point decline in his net approval just since February when he was already at a poor 37/57 standing. Even Republicans are pretty divided on Jindal (43/42) while independents (35/45) and Democrats (14/78) generally give him poor marks.
Jindal’s White House prospects are dismal if his home state voters have anything to say about it. Just 17% of Louisianans think he should run for President in 2016 to 72% who believe he should sit it out. He ties for 4th among Republican primary voters as their top choice for their 2016 candidate- Rand Paul leads with 18% to 17% for Jeb Bush, 11% for Paul Ryan, 10% for Jindal and Chris Christie, 8% for Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, 5% for Rick Santorum, and less than 1% for Susana Martinez. (That’s also an embarrassingly poor showing for Santorum given that he easily won the state’s primary last year.)
Jindal wouldn’t be likely to get to a general election but the news for him there is bad too- he trails Hillary Clinton 47/40 in a hypothetical match up. Every other Republican we looked at is more competitive with Clinton in the state- Ryan leads her 46/44, Paul does 45/44, Bush ties her at 44 each, and she leads Christie just 42/41. It looks like Clinton would have a chance to make Louisiana unusually competitive in any instance, but particularly so against Jindal.
It’s difficult to believe that Jindal is polling that well against Hillary.
A few more short takes:
A new article in LA Weekly offers some startling revelations about Michael Hastings’ state of mind before he was killed in a one-car crash: Michael Hastings’ Dangerous Mind: Journalistic Star Was Loved, Feared and Haunted. Based on a friend’s descriptions of Hastings’ behavior, it sounds like he was so severely depressed that he was delusional.
From The A Register, speculations based on The Guardian’s bizarre claims that British intelligence agents forced them to destroy computers that contained U.S. secrets stolen by Edward Snowden: MYSTERY of Guardian mobos and graphics cards which ‘held Snowden files’
A funny Buzzfeed list (with gifs) contributed by Marc Ambinder: 12 Ways To Easily Identify An East Coast Transplant In LA.
A very weird story that demonstrates the institutional stupidity of the Federal Bureau of Investigation: FBI suspected William Vollmann was the Unabomber.
A fascinating story at Defense One: Area 51 Has Been Hiding U-2 Spy Planes, Not UFOs
Finally, our old friend David Sirota really outdid himself yesterday with this story at Salon: This cowardly silence is an act of war, in which he claims that President Obama’s failure to object to the UK detaining Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda at Heathrow Airport is a crime against humanity . . . or something.
Now it’s your turn. What stories are you focusing on today? Please share your links in the comment thread.
Posted: October 12, 2012 Filed under: misogyny, morning reads | Tags: australia, Child Bride, day of the girl, Half the Sky, Jane Goodall, Jane's Journey, Julia Gillard, Maria Hinojosa, Roots and Shoots, Somaly Mam, Stolen LIves, The Elders
Well, after an intense VEEP debate last night, I’d like to focus on topics related to something I care about. So, I’ll let Kirk over there phone in the political news,
I deeply care about the future of the world’s girls.This week, we celebrated the first day specifically for girls. Here are some updates on some of the challenges that girls around the globe face. There are many.
One of the most horrifying futures for girls in many countries is becoming a child bride. I’ve written about this before since seeing a Maria Hinojosa special on PBS called “Child Brides, Stolen Lives”. This was in 2007. I’m proud that our SOS Hillary Clinton has made ending this a priority for the US.
Part of Clinton’s initiative includes tackling these core causes through education, underscoring a study that reveals that girls with a secondary level education are six times less likely to marry as children.
Some of the steps to empower girls through education include a $15 million initiative through nonprofit USAID and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) tackling cost and safety issues that prevent girls reaching post-primary schooling.
Clinton’s plan also includes tracking every country’s legal minimum age of marriage, providing more training for consular staff to respond to child marriage cases and specifically tackling child marriage in Bangladesh. Here, a pilot program will promote sensitivity through the government, media and other outlets.
Within the private portion of Clinton’s plan, the Ford Foundation also launched a five-year $25 million commitment to end child marriage by pushing local governments to fight child marriage, fund new research on interventions and work to expand girls’ rights.
Here’s some updated information from CARE.
“Child marriage is a violation of human rights whether it happens to a girl or a boy, but it represents perhaps the most prevalent form of sexual abuse and exploitation of girls,” says UNICEF – Child Protection Information Sheet. “The harmful consequences include separation from family and friends, lack of freedom to interact with peers and participate in community activities, and decreased opportunities for education. Child marriage can also result in bonded labour or enslavement, commercial sexual exploitation and violence against the victims,” continues UNICEF.
Advocates say early marriage can be devastating to young girls who do not have the ability to stop inequalities in marriage. Lack of safety and personal power to stop forced sexual activity in marriage can also place young girls in dangers to exposures with HIV/AIDS. Girls who marry early are also more likely to skip school or discontinue their education all together.
“By forcing a child into premature adulthood, early marriage thwarts her chances at education, endangers her health and cuts short her personal growth and development,” says CARE’s “From Aid to Impact” action report. “Maternal health risks are particularly troubling as risk of death in pregnancy and delivery for girls under the age of 15 is five times higher than for women in their 20s,” added CARE.
But can we change conditions for girls who face early marriage? Advocates say YES.
“That’s what we need to commit to: to end child marriage by 2030,” said Mary Robinson, former United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights and one of the global human rights leaders known as The Elders, in a recent October 4, 2012 Google+ Hangout (sponsored by The Elders).
I learned about The Elders from a wonderful TV program on Jane Goodall called “Jane’s Journey” on Animal Planet. Jane has started working with children in a program all over the world called “Shoots and Roots” that is absolutely amazing. It works closely with The Elders.
Goodall’s life and her efforts to save the communities of chimps she first encountered decades ago are front and center in the TV premiere of “Jane’s Journey” at 8 p.m. Tuesday on Animal Planet
She’s behind some of the latest discoveries, like the raising of twin chimps to adulthood and the ability to determine a wild paternity.
Goodall said about 20 years ago that she had figured out the best way to save the chimps would be to help people who live on the land.
“When we talked to the village elders, they told us they wanted better health facilities and education for their children.”
In return, villagers — now living better lives — have turned their attention to preserving at least some of the jungles where the apes live.
But the effort has taken years for Goodall and an army of like-minded individuals to build infrastructure and promote sustainable livelihoods — like growing and exporting coffee.
Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots program is one of those programs that simply amazes me. Again, I learned about it last week when the program aired.
Roots creep underground everywhere and make a firm foundation. Shoots seem very weak, but to reach the light, they can break open brick walls. Imagine that the brick walls are all the problems we have inflicted on our planet. Hundreds of thousands of roots & shoots, hundreds of thousands of young people around the world, can break through these walls. We CAN change the world.
– Dr. Jane
You should watch the Goodall program, the Hinojosa program, and the PBS program “Half the Sky”--promoted by Mona last weekend on Saturday–if you care about girls and boys all over the world. We’ve promoted the Somaly Mam program for some time on this blog. Her story and the other women’s stories are so inspiring as is the work they do.
Somaly Mam was born in an ethnic minority community in Cambodia’s Mondulkiri province, and grew up as an orphan living in extreme poverty. A man posing as her grandfather sold Somaly as a young girl into sexual slavery.
Forced to work in a brothel, Somaly was repeatedly tortured and raped. One night, she was made to watch as her best friend was murdered. Fearing she would also be killed, Somaly escaped her captors and set about building a new life for herself. She vowed never to forget those left behind and has since dedicated her life to saving victims and empowering survivors.
In 1996, Somaly established a Cambodian non-governmental organization called AFESIP (Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Précaire), and in 2007 launched theSomaly Mam Foundation.
She quickly gained international attention for her anti-trafficking efforts, and is the recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation and Glamour Magazine’s 2006 Woman of the Year Award. She was featured as a CNN Hero and named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009.
Somaly was also featured in the film Not My Life, an unflinching documentary depicting the horrors of modern slavery on a global scale, which released in 2011.
So, instead of watching something that is meaningless this weekend, please, take time to learn about the life of girls around the world. There are some really inspiring programs that you can learn about in the links that I’ve provided for you this morning.
I wanted to update you on Malala–a young girl who just wants to go to school in Pakistan–who JJ covered in her news post earlier this week. She has been shifted to AFIC Rawalpindi in serious condition.
The doctors had conducted surgery on Malala’s head and neck to remove a bullet on Wednesday. They advised complete rest for her in the hospital. Col Dr Junaid, who handled the 14-year-old Malala from the first day after she was shifted to the CMH from Swat, told this correspondent outside the ICU where she was fighting for life, that it was now the unanimous decision of the doctors to transfer her to AFIC Rawalpindi for better care.
“A joint team of doctors from the Pakistan Army and civilians held a meeting and found that the surgery done on Malala in Peshawar was outstanding but felt that she now needed better care. The team said the AFIC was a better place for post-operative care for patients suffering from trauma and head injuries,” Col Dr Junaid said.
He said the two British doctors also expressed satisfaction on Malala’s surgery and congratulated the Pakistani neurosurgeons for doing such an excellent job with limited resources.He said Malala would remain at the paediatric unit of AFIC where foreign doctors would assist Pakistani doctors in her treatment.
Before Malala’s shifting, extraordinary security measures were made in and outside the CMH and the Pakistan Army commandos were seen escorting a brief motorcade of two ambulances and military vehicles.
Malalal’s father Ziauddin Yousafzai, her mother and close relatives and Dr Junaid accompanied her in the military helicopter.Though worried for his patient, Col Dr Junaid said he was optimistic she would recover soon. “It’s a critical injury. We are keeping her on a ventilator,” he said. Asked as to when she would regain consciousness, he said it would require at least 15 days.
The military sources, however, said the decision to shift her to AFIC was taken on the advice of two British doctors called for Malala’s treatment. One of them was identified as Dr Fiona and the other her Pakistan-born husband. The couple visited Malala at the CMH and advised her shifting to the AFIC.
“Fiona has experience in post-operative care in neuro-surgery and head injuries. She and her husband offered their services to Malala and agreed to attend to her if she is taken to the AFIC,” the officials said.
Yesterday in Peshwar, the ruling Awami National Party (ANP) staged a protest rally to condemn the recent attack on Malala Yousafzai and the two other school students in Swat. People in Pakistan have been outraged at the attack on the young teen.
Speaking on the occasion, Bashir Bilour termed Malala Yousafzai an icon of peace, education and prosperity. He said the bold and courageous girl had even spoken against the militants when they wielded power in Swat. “The militants have shown their cowardice by targeting an innocent teenaged girl,” he said and added that neither the Muslims nor the Pakhtuns could even think of attacking women and children. “The militants cannot stop us from our struggle to establish peace on this soil,” he vowed.
The participants prayed for the early recovery of Malala Yousafzai and her injured friends. The ANP central deputy general secretary Tajuddin Khan, Peshawar district president Arbab Najeeb and other leaders attended the rally.
Meanwhile, students of the Bacha Khan Model High School in Nauthia staged a protest rally at the Fawwara Chowk in Peshawar Cantonment to express solidarity with Malala Yousafzai.Prof Khadim Hussain, who heads the schools project of the Bacha Khan Education Foundation, was leading the rally which began from Nauthia and ended at the Fawwara Chowk.The students in their collective prayers prayed for early recovery of Malala Yousafzai.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Australia lauded Malala in Islamabad even as she fights her own fight against sexism and misogyny in Australia. She was backed today by the New Speaker Anna Burke. There was quite a verbal exchange between the PM and the minority party at parliament. Gillard accused the opposition leader of misogyny and sexism directly.
But the new Speaker, Anna Burke, said Ms Gillard’s prime ministership had triggered a wave of public and political sexism.
Days after she was confirmed as Peter Slipper’s replacement in the chair, the Labor MP condemned the tone and subject matter of much of the debate in the current parliament.
“I think there is obviously some sexism and misogyny that goes on in the parliament, as it does in a lot of workplaces, tragically,” Ms Burke told ABC radio.
“And I think that one of the disappointing parts about having the first female prime minister is that unfortunately that has brought out the worst in some people in the parliament and some people in the public.
Here’s PM Julia Gillard’s Speech.
Let us also not forget about the assault on the rights of women in this country either. So, that’s a little change of subject for me this morning. What’s on your blogging and reading list today?
Posted: July 17, 2012 Filed under: Climate Change, Environment, Environmental Protection, Environmentalists, Great Britain, nature, open thread, Psychopaths in charge, religious extremists, science, SDB Evening News Reads, We are so F'd | Tags: australia, Bill Gates, Creationism, education, geoengineering, Great White Sharks, religious nuts, schools
I have just a few links for you tonight, starting with the latest shark attack in Australia. This Great White sounds like something out of the movie Jaws. Western Australia Shark Attack: Great White Bites Surfer Benjamin Charles Linden In Half
According to the Examiner, locals have nicknamed the large shark Brutus. Witnesses have described Brutus as being between 16 and 24-feet long.
The Western Australia Department of Fisheries set up baited traps near the attack site in an attempt to catch the shark, according to the Australian. A helicopter and boat search was also launched in an effort to recover the body, but it has not been found.
Although the gruesome incident was the fifth deadly shark attack reported off the coast of Western Australia in the past 10 months, some local surfers aren’t likely to be deterred.
“Once you are a surfer — and only a surfer knows the feeling — we cannot stop surfing. We are addicted,” surfing competition organizer Peter Dunn told Fox News, calling the attack a “tragic loss.”
According to the International Shark Attack File, there were 12 deaths from unprovoked shark attacks around the world in 2011. But although shark attacks often make news, some activists point out that humans are a greater threat to sharks than sharks are to humans.
I still think it is crazy to go surfing when there is such a threat out there. The reason I put this link up anyway is because at the bottom of the page there are pictures of various kinds of sharks. Some of them look extra-terrestrial.
On to another link that may make some of you cringe as well: US geoengineers to spray sun-reflecting chemicals from balloon
Two Harvard engineers are to spray sun-reflecting chemical particles into the atmosphere to artificially cool the planet, using a balloon flying 80,000 feet over Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
The field experiment in solar geoengineering aims to ultimately create a technology to replicate the observed effects of volcanoes that spew sulphates into the stratosphere, using sulphate aerosols to bounce sunlight back to space and decrease the temperature of the Earth.
David Keith, one of the investigators, has argued that solar geoengineering could be an inexpensive method to slow down global warming, but other scientists warn that it could have unpredictable, disastrous consequences for the Earth’s weather systems and food supplies. Environmental groups fear that the push to make geoengineering a “plan B” for climate change will undermine efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
Keith, who manages a multimillion dollar geoengineering research fund provided by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, previously commissioned a study by a US aerospace company that made the case for the feasibility of large-scale deployment of solar geoengineering technologies.
Please go to the link to read the rest. It makes me think of those science fiction films from the fifties and sixties.
Speaking of going backwards, to a different time. Check it out…we aren’t the only ones with the christian fundamentalist wrecking out schools: Creationist groups win Michael Gove’s approval to open free schools
Michael Gove has backed creationists’ proposals for free schools in Sunderland, Sevenoaks and Nottinghamshire. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
The education secretary, Michael Gove, has approved three free schools run by groups with creationist views, including one with a document on its website declaring that it teaches “creation as a scientific theory”.
Grindon Hall Christian school in Sunderland, a private school due to reopen in September with state funding, says on its website that it will present creationism as science and affirm the position that Christians believe God’s creation of the world is “not just a theory but a fact”.
Ministers have also approved a free school in Sevenoaks, Kent, that says on its website it will teach in RE classes that “God made the world”, while a third free school, in Nottinghamshire, is a fresh proposal from a group initially turned down over creationism.
In the US, where the campaign for creationism has been stronger, the states of Louisiana and Tennessee have recently passed laws allowing the science underpinning evolution to be critiqued in the classroom. But the creationist lobby has been less successful in gaining a foothold in Britain.
Secular groups have been concerned that the free schools policy – which allows parents, charities or faith groups to set up new schools – would allow the state-funded teaching of creationism.
Ugh, I feel sick. What the hell is happening to us? One of the free schools has this on its website:
Grindon Hall says it teaches evolution as “an established scientific principle, as far as it goes”. However, the school’s policy document adds: “We believe no scientific theory provides – or ever will provide – a satisfactory explanation of origins, ie why the world appeared, and how nothing became something in the first place.”
The principal says that document is “obsolete” and that they would not teach creationism in science….personally the whole idea of creationism is obsolete. These extremist are taking over everywhere!
So, this is an open thread, have at it!
Posted: November 17, 2011 Filed under: #Occupy and We are the 99 percent!, China, Foreign Affairs, Global Financial Crisis, morning reads, Psychopaths in charge, The Media SUCKS, U.S. Economy, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics, voodoo economics | Tags: assassination jokes, australia, China, crime, European Central Bank, European debt crisis, Karl Rove, Lauren Pierce, Maxine Waters, Nobel Peace Prize, occupy Wall Street, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, University of Texas Austin
You know the Occupy Movement is having an effect when the propaganda patrol starts trying to pin the “TERRORIST” label on them. From Politico:
If confirmed, this will likely be a much, much bigger image problem than the reports of crime in Occupy encampments:
Authorities suspect [Oscar Ramiro] Ortega-Hernandez] had been in the area for weeks, coming back and forth to the Washington Mall. Before the shooting, he was detained by local police at an abandoned house. U.S. Park Police say Ortega-Hernandez may have spent time with Occupy D.C. protesters.
Ooops! In an update, Politico has to take it back–it turns out authorities couldn’t find a connection. But you just know they’re going to keep trying. And ABC News reported it. Lots of people will take that as gospel and never hear that it wasn’t true.
However a GOP campus leader at the University of Texas Austin responded on Twitter to the news of shots fired at the White House.
Hours after Pennsylvania State Police arrested a 21-year-old Idaho man for allegedly firing a semi-automatic rifle at the White House, the top student official for the College Republicans at the University of Texas tweeted that the idea of assassinating President Obama was “tempting.”
At 2:29 p.m. ET, UT’s Lauren E. Pierce wrote: “Y’all as tempting as it may be, don’t shoot Obama. We need him to go down in history as the WORST president we’ve EVER had! #2012.”
Pierce, the president of the College Republicans at UT Austin, told ABC News the comment was a “joke” and that the “whole [shooting incident] was stupid.” Giggling, she said that an attempted assassination would “only make the situation worse.”
Tee hee hee… this is the future of the GOP?
Maxine Waters is still number one voice of reason in Washington DC. When the propaganda merchants tried to get her to say something disparaging about OWS, here’s how she handled it.
When asked to comment Wednesday about the deaths and crimes that have occurred around Occupy protests being held across the country, Rep. Maxine Waters said “that’s life and it happens.”
“That’s a distraction from the goals of the protesters,” Waters, who says she supports the Occupy movement, told CNSNews.com after an event at the Capitol sponsored by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
I love that woman!
“Let me just say this: Anytime you have a gathering, homeless people are going to show up,” said Waters. “They will find some comfort in having some other people out on the streets with them. They’re looking for food. Often times, the criminal element will invade. That’s life and it happens, whether it’s with protesters or other efforts that go on in this country.
“So I’m not deterred in my support for them because of these negative kinds of things,” said Waters. “I just want them to work at doing the best job that they can do to bring attention to this economic crisis and the unfairness of the system at this time.”
Way to go, Maxine!
In contrast, Republican ratf^^ker Karl Rove isn’t quite so mature. He really lost his cool on Tuesday night when he was targeted by Occupy protesters and ended up acting pretty childish.
Former Bush political adviser Karl Rove seemed a bit flustered Tuesday night after his speech to Johns Hopkins University was interrupted by a group of about 15 protesters connected to “Occupy Baltimore,” who got under his skin enough to get him cursing.
As he spoke about public debt and attempted to pin America’s economic pain on the Obama administration, a woman shouted out, “Mic check?”
A chorus of voices replied, “Mic check!”
“Karl Rove! Is the architect!” they shouted. “The architect of Occupy Iraq! The architect of Occupy Afghanistan!”
“Here’s the deal,” he replied. “If you believe in free speech then you had a chance to show it.”
“If you believe in right of the First Amendment to free speech then you demonstrate it by shutting up and waiting until the Q & A session right after,” Rove trailed off as supporters applauded.
“You can go ahead and stand in line and have the courage to ask any damn question you want, or you can continue to show that you are a buffoon…” he said, as the group of protesters descended into random shouting. One woman called him a “murderer, ” while others chanted, “We are the 99 percent!”
“No you’re not!” Rove replied, chanting it back at them. “No you’re not! No you’re not! No you’re not!”
Gee, that was fun to watch.
Not that any of the European elites will listen, but Brad Plummer at Wonkbook talked to a number of experts and came to the conclusion that the whole story about it not being legal for the ECB to rescue the European financial system is a bunch of hooey.
European officials keep insisting that the ECB isn’t legally allowed to play savior. On Tuesday, the head of Germany’s Bundesbank called it a violation of European law. The Wall Street Journal argued Wednesday that the European Union’s founding treaty would need to be revamped before the ECB could act as a lender of last resort to countries like Italy. So is this true? Could Europe really melt down because of a few legal niceties?
Not really, say experts. It’s true that the Treaty of Lisbon expressly forbids the European Central Bank from buying up debt instruments directly from countries like Italy and Spain. But, says Richard Portes of the London Business School, there’s nothing to prevent the central bank from buying up Italian and Spanish bonds on the secondary market from other investors.
“If that’s illegal, then officials should already be in jail,” says Portes. “Because they’ve been doing it sporadically since May of 2010.” The problem is that the bank’s current erratic purchases only seem to be creating more uncertainty in the market. “Right now,” says Portes, “nobody’s buying in that market except the ECB.”
Instead, what many experts want the European Central Bank to do is to pledge, loudly and clearly, that it will buy up bonds on the secondary market until, say, Italy’s borrowing costs come down to manageable levels. In theory, says Portes, the central bank wouldn’t even have to make many purchases after that, because expectations would shift and become self-fulfilling. In the near term, investors would stop worrying about whether they’d be repaid for loaning money to countries like Italy, and Italy’s borrowing costs would drop — giving it room to figure out its debt woes. (Granted, that latter step is a daunting task.)
But as Dakinikat wrote a couple of days ago, we’ll probably just have to wait and see what happens when the psychopaths in charge do exactly the opposite of what they should do.
The New York Times has a story this morning about Obama’s commitment of troops to Australia: U.S. Expands Military Ties to Australia, Irritating China.
CANBERRA, Australia — President Obama announced Wednesday that the United States planned to deploy 2,500 Marines in Australia to shore up alliances in Asia, but the move prompted a sharp response from Beijing, which accused Mr. Obama of escalating military tensions in the region.
The agreement with Australia amounts to the first long-term expansion of the American military’s presence in the Pacific since the end of the Vietnam War. It comes despite budget cuts facing the Pentagon and an increasingly worried reaction from Chinese leaders, who have argued that the United States is seeking to encircle China militarily and economically.
“It may not be quite appropriate to intensify and expand military alliances and may not be in the interest of countries within this region,” Liu Weimin, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in response to the announcement by Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia.
Attention Nobel committee: Isn’t it about time to rescind that Peace Prize?
OK, that’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?
Posted: October 23, 2011 Filed under: #Occupy and We are the 99 percent!, 2012 presidential campaign, Africa, anonymous, Environment, Foreign Affairs, Health care reform, health hazard, immigration, income inequality, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, MENA, morning reads, racism, Republican politics, Republican presidential politics, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, toxic waste, U.S. Politics | Tags: #OWS, Alabama, Algae, australia, food stamps, Great White Sharks, hate crimes, Jeff Sessions, Lake Erie, Michele Bachmann, Mississippi, SNAP
We write these morning posts the night before, and I am writing this one watching the Wisconsin v Michigan State…its a good game…at least no blow out! (Wow, the last few seconds of the game were something to see. Michigan pulled a Hail Mary and Wisconsin deflected the pass in the end zone right into the hands of a Michigan player who fought his way to a touchdown.)
There is a green menace attacking Lake Erie…it’s toxic but not radioactive…and there is a gray monster on the prowl in Australia. More on this at the end, think of it as your morning terror tease.
I’m going to stick with the US for a bit, and then hit the world news.
Occupy is taking up residence in a new location. This time in a swank Connecticut neighborhood, specifically on the front lawn of GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s house. Which I think is fabulous!
It seems that Occupy is getting threats from all sides. Susie Madrak had a post on her blog about Anonymous taking down a servers of a company that hosts an underground child pornography site. Looks like there is some trash talk going on, threats are being made and references to NYPD beating some Occupy ass…Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » No good deed goes unpunished Give that link a click if you want to read the instant messages between Anonymous and the Lolita kiddie porn site.
When a foreign press outlet is praising a politician from the US, it makes you wonder why our own US media hasn’t picked up on it. On Friday, the Guardian ran a story about Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders: America’s No1 socialist makes his move into the mainstream
Bernie Sanders sits in his Senate office and reflects on another unexpected twist in his already unusual political life. As the only self-proclaimed socialist to sit in the US Congress, Sanders is long used to surviving in the political wilderness. But Sanders is now having to get used to a different environment altogether: the mainstream.
His constant slamming of Wall Street, his critiques of big business and the excesses of money in politics, as well as his call for a defence of American jobs, have become hot issues in US politics. The senator from Vermont is now a regular on American TV screens and rapidly becoming a fixture of US politics and a hero to many on the left.
The white-haired and irascible Sanders, 70, who is famed for his blunt outspokenness, almost became bashful at the thought that his exile from the mainstream appears to be ending.
It’s about damn time too!
“It’s, you know, nice to know that positions you have been advocating for years are now getting out to Main Street, and that millions of people are beginning to say: enough is enough,” he told the Guardian.
Is this, at last, his political moment? “Yeah, it is,” he said, and then he details why, in a typically long, passionate, Sanders-style explosion of stream-of-consciousness explanation.
“If you were to speak to any audience in America and you say: there’s something wrong with our system when the crooks on Wall Street, through their recklessness and criminal behaviour, are able to cause a recession, which has resulted in so much suffering to people, and then they get bailed out by the American people and then three years later end up making more money than they ever have before: people go nuts!”
He pauses for breath to think about the situation. “The short answer to
your question is: ‘Yes’,” he says.
Give the rest of the article a read, Sanders has been doing interviews quite a lot lately, and he is making sense. Maybe people are starting to take notice.
Help my memory a bit, cause this next link seems like deja vu. Bachmann on the Spot In Iowa Michele Bachmann was talking to a group of people at a town hall and took a question from a woman who had no health insurance…and the answer sounds like something Ron Paul and Santorum and one of the other GOP bozo candidates has said recently.
“My son is 22 and he’s on an expanded Medicaid program that’s under Obamacare,” the woman said to Bachmann. “You often talk about stopping Obamacare. I want to know what you’re going to do . . . I can’t afford $1,000 a month.”
The woman shook her head and looked annoyed as the 55-year-old Minnesota congresswoman recalled her parents paying $5 when she visited the doctor as a child in Iowa. She blamed federal government intervention for raising prices, and contended that increasing competition among insurance companies and reining in medical malpractice costs will help make health insurance more affordable. She also suggested private charity as an option.
“We will always have people in this country through hardship, through no fault of their own, who won’t be able to afford health care,” Bachmann said. “That’s just the way it is. But usually what we have are charitable organizations or hospitals, who have enough left over so that they can pick up the cost for the indigent who can’t afford it. But what we have to do is be a profitable nation that’s growing, so that we can pay for those people who can’t afford it through no fault of their own. Once Obamacare is gone, this is what we have to do.”
Oh yeah, private charity…these GOP asshats are so quick to suggest begging for help…just as fast as they are in denouncing poor people in need who are on government assistance.
Another example of this crap can be seen in the latest from Senator Jeff Sessions…Sen. Jeff Sessions Tries To Cut Food Stamp Funding
Senator Jeff Sessions is very, very, very worried about fraud, waste and abuse within the Federal food stamp program (SNAP). So worried he has introduced an amendment to cut funds to the program because he’s certain there are just a bunch of poor deadbeats out there taking advantage of the Feds’ largesse.
The press release from his office on Friday says it all:
Consider the food stamp program, now known as “SNAP”—the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP is the largest item in Agriculture Department’s budget. Spending on food stamps has surged over the last decade. It’s nearly doubled since President Obama took office. And in the appropriations bill before us this week, Senate Democrats propose another increase that would quadruple food stamp spending from what it was in 2001.
Eleven million more Americans are on food stamps now than when President Obama first took office. The size of the benefit has increased 31 percent since 2008. When the food stamp program was expanded nationally in the 1970s, food stamps were used by 2 percent of the population. At the beginning of the last decade, they were used by 6 percent of the population. Today that figure has risen to 13 percent—one in eight Americans. This seven-fold increase in food stamp usage demands honest examination.
It’s time to look under the hood.
You can take a look at the rest of the press release at that link above…what an ass, I can’t stand these people. They have absolutely no good will towards their fellow man…hmmm, I can hear Sessions now…jabbering about workhouses and decreases in the surplus population.
Alright, I’m doing it again…by that I mean writing about Alabama and the anti-immigration law. This time let’s look at what ripple reaction this law is creating when it comes to white kids bullying Hispanic children. After Alabama law, Hispanic kids being bullied
Spanish-speaking parents say their children are facing more bullying and taunts at school since Alabama’s tough crackdown on illegal immigration took effect last month. Many blame the name-calling on fallout from the law, which has been widely covered in the news, discussed in some classrooms and debated around dinner tables.
Justice Department officials are monitoring for bullying incidents linked to the law.
“We’re hearing a number of reports about increases in bullying that we’re studying,” the head of the agency’s civil rights division, Thomas Perez, said during a stop in Birmingham.
The article talks about a group of kids playing basketball.
It was just another schoolyard basketball game until a group of Hispanic seventh-graders defeated a group of boys from Alabama.
The reaction was immediate, according to the Mexican mother of one of the winners, and rooted in the state’s new law on illegal immigration.
“They told them, `You shouldn’t be winning. You should go back to Mexico,”‘ said the woman, who spoke through a translator last week and didn’t want her name used. She and her son are in the country illegally.
As if these kids don’t have enough to worry about. Now they have to deal with the additional hate this law is bringing towards the Hispanics in the state.
But hate is not a new problem in the deep south, as this next disturbing article from CNN shows us. Teen murder suspect carried ‘backpack of hatred’
Editor’s note: This story contains language that some readers may consider offensive. For more on this story, watch “Mississippi Still Burning?” on CNN Presents, Sunday, October 23, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET.
To get to Brandon, you have to drive across the Pearl River, a boundary that seems to separate black Mississippi from white.
In the town’s center, a monument stands honoring the confederate soldiers who fought in the Civil War.
This mostly white town in mostly white Rankin County is about a 30-minute drive from Jackson, Mississippi. It’s here in Brandon that some residents say a gang of teenagers expressed their strong racial prejudice — sometimes through violence.
These residents say the teens were friends with and often led by Deryl Dedmon, now 19 and facing capital murder and hate crime charges for the killing of James Anderson, a black man, who died after he was beaten and run over by a truck in Jackson, according to police. Dedmon has pleaded not guilty and his attorney has refused to answer CNN’s repeated requests for comment.
Another teen, John Aaron Rice, was charged with simple assault. He has not entered a plea. The other five teens who were there have not been arrested or charged, though officials say they may still be indicted .
I urge you to read the entire article, because it touches on the extreme hate these young men have towards blacks, and their lack of conscience when it comes to their killing of James Anderson. A killing that was caught on surveillance cameras.
“They were looking for black people. They were looking for a black person to assault,” said Mississippi’s Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith.
Shortly after he allegedly drove the truck over Anderson, Dedmon boasted and laughed about the killing, according to testimony given by some of the teens to detectives.
“I ran that nigger over,” Dedmon allegedly said in a phone conversation to the teens in the other car. He repeated the racial language in subsequent conversations, according to the law enforcement officials.
“He was not remorseful, he was laughing, laughing about the killing,” said Smith.
The local police do not seem too concerned, as one of the teenage witnesses says,
“I’ve even heard it out of some of the police officers’ mouths,” he said. “This is their statement: ‘Well, Deryl was a good kid. He just made one bad mistake.”
Yeah, he got caught.
Alright, that is it for the US, let’s go global…
The fighting in Kenya is getting more complicated. We’ve seen the abduction of tourist and aid workers, now the possibility of more targeted violence on foreigners is giving the US Embassy reason to issue a warning. U.S. Embassy in Kenya warns citizens of ‘imminent threat’
The U.S. Embassy in Kenya warned American citizens Saturday of an “imminent threat of terrorist attacks” after Kenya sent troops across the border into Somalia to pursue suspected Islamic militants from Al-Shabaab.
Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua told CNN about the advance this week, which marks a dramatic shift in security tactics for the east African powerhouse.
“This is to inform U.S. citizens residing in or visiting Kenya that the U.S. Embassy in Kenya has received credible information of an imminent threat of terrorist attacks directed at prominent Kenyan facilities and areas where foreigners are known to congregate, such as malls and night clubs,” the U.S. Embassy said in an emergency message.
It looks like other Eastern African nations are backing Kenya’s offensive in Somolia.
African Union peacekeepers are seen in the Deynile district of the capital Mogadishu, Somalia, October 20, 2011.
The six-nation east African regional group the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has pledged full support for Kenya’s military offensive against al-Qaeda linked militants in southern Somalia. Other countries in the region are considering joining the effort as the militants appear to be losing their grip on the famine-stricken Somali countryside.
Reports are coming in that suggest Kenyan soldiers are making their way toward the rebel held port of Kismayo.
IGAD held an extraordinary ministerial level meeting Friday, five days after Kenya launched an offensive against al-Shabab. More than two battalions of Kenyan troops backed by air power streamed into southern Somalia after Shabab rebels were blamed for a series of kidnappings of foreign tourists and aid workers.
A communiqué issued after the brief meeting in the Ethiopian capital welcomes Kenya’s move to scale up security operations.
In other Africa news, Liberian Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been declared the most powerful women in Africa by Forbes Magazine.
As if winning the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize wasn’t enough, Forbes Magazine, one of the most influential business publications in the United States, has, in its maiden Africa issue, honored President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia by naming her the most powerful woman on the African continent, among 20 women listed.
According to the first issue of Forbes Africa Magazine, which went on sale October 1, President Sirleaf tops the list of most powerful African women, with Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Malawi’s Vice President Joyce Banda in second and third place, respectively. The list includes 11 women from South Africa alone.
The run off election will be held in November, I hope Sirleaf keeps her position as president. We’ll keep you posted as Liberia moves towards that run off vote.
Boston Boomer mentioned Cannonfire’s take on the “convenient” death of Gaddafi in her Saturday morning post. I want to bring your attention to this post over at Emptywheel. The OTHER Saudi Assassination Plotter Got a Reduced Sentence in July
This post from Cannonfire reminded me how convenient for our country it is that Moammar Qaddafi was executed rather than captured alive and tried: he will not be able to tell anyone, now that he’s dead, how Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, who under torture provided one of the casus belli for the Iraq war, came to be suicided in a Libyan prison just as Americans started focusing on torture in 2009.
That, plus the death of the Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud, made me think of another plot Qaddafi brings to his grave: that he had purportedly arranged to assassinate then Crown Prince now King Abdullah. The evidence to support that plot mostly came from Abdulrahman Alamoudi, a prominent American Muslim who was arrested in 2003 on charges he violated trade sanctions against Libya.
Anyway, thinking about the similarities between that case and the Scary Iran Plot led me to consult Alamoudi’s docket (most of which is not available online). What happens to a guy convicted in connection with plotting with a nasty African dictator as we launch the war to finally kill that dictator?
Well, it turns out that at about the time it was clear we’d stick around to ensure Qaddafi died in this kinetic action, a sealed document got filed in Alamoudi’s case. And, on July 20, 2011, Alamoudi got about 30% knocked off his sentence, from 276 months to 197.
Hmmmm, interesting indeed…I’m sure Gaddafi took some big ass secrets with him to hell…and it wouldn’t surprise me if a bunch of “cleaners” from the CIA are working to make sure those secrets don’t come out.
There is an interesting article cited over at History News Network, some of you may want to click over there and check it out: Yoani Sanchez: The Deaths of Dictators: Neither History Nor Their People Will Ever Absolve Them
Ceausescu was in his helicopter, Saddam Hussein was hiding in a hole, Tunisia’s Ben Ali fled into exile, Gaddafi fled in a convoy and ended up hiding in a drainpipe. The autocrats escape, they leave, they don’t sacrifice themselves in the palaces from which they dictated their arbitrary laws; they do not die seated in the presidential chairs with a red sash across their chests. They always have a hidden door, a secret passage through which they can scurry away when they sense danger. Over decades they build their secret bunkers, their protected “ground zeros” or their underground refuges, because they fear that the same people who applaud them in the plazas can come for them when they lose their fear. In the nightmares of the dictators, the demons are their own subjects, the abyss takes the form of mobs who want to bring down their statues, spit on their photos. These despotic gentlemen sleep lightly, alert to the cries, the hammering on the door… they live with premonitions, often of their deaths.
I would have liked to see Muammar Gaddafi before a court, indicted for the crimes he committed against his country. I think the violent deaths of the satraps only gives them an aura of martyrdom they do not deserve. They must be left alive to hear the public testimony of their victims, to see their countries move forward without the hindrance they represented, and to observe the fickleness of the opportunists who once supported them. They must survive to witness the dismantling of the false history they rewrote, to see how the new generations begin to forget them, and to hear the diatribes, the scorn, the fiercest criticism. To lynch a despot is to save him, to offer him an almost glorious way out that spares him the lasting punishment of being judged before the law.
It’s a good piece, check it out.
Yay, it is now time for the links to your morning terror tease.
From Minx’s Missing Link File: View from space: Toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie | Water | EarthSky Yuk…check out the green sludge that can be seen from space.
The green plumes shown in these images is the worst algae bloom North America’s Lake Erie has experienced in decades. The bloom is primarily microcystis aeruginosa, an algae that is toxic to mammals, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. These images were acquired by the The Landsat-5 satellite in early October, 2011. The reasons for this year’s giant bloom are complex, say scientists, but might be related to a rainy spring and invasive mussels.
The Landsat-5 satellite acquired the top image on October 5, 2011. Vibrant green filaments extend out from the northern shore. Several days of calm winds and warm temperatures allowed the algae to gather on the surface. The bloom intensified after October 5, and by October 9—when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite acquired the lower image—the bloom covered much of the western basin.
Algae blooms were common in the lake’s shallow western basin in the 1950s and 60s. Phosphorus from farms, sewage, and industry fertilized the waters so that huge algae blooms developed year after year. The blooms subsided a bit starting in the 1970s, when regulations and improvements in agriculture and sewage treatment limited the amount of phosphorus that reached the lake.
Microcystis aeruginosa produces a liver toxin, microcystin, that commonly kills dogs swimming in infected water and causes skin irritation for people. Richard Stumpf, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, measured 50 times more microcystin in Lake Erie in the summer of 2011 than the World Health Organization recommends for safe recreation.
Ewww…taking a dip in that lake…makes me sick just thinking about it. One thing though…who would go swimming in Lake Erie in the first place? Isn’t it one of the most polluted bodies of water within the US? Didn’t catch on fire back in the day because of all the chemicals dumped in the water?
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: Just a note, it ain’t that easy…check out this image…
Great white sharks are a protected species in Australia. Photograph: Brandon Cole
I was planning on using the Guardian article that picture is from but there has been a third fatality since that article was published Saturday morning. Diver killed by great white in third fatal attack in weeks
A great white shark killed an American diver yesterday in the third fatal shark attack in recent weeks off the coast of Western Australia.
The state government has promised to hunt the killer and is considering more aircraft surveillance off west-coast beaches. Australia averages fewer than two fatal shark attacks a year.
Truly frightening stuff…talk about needing a bigger boat!
Well that is it for your Sunday Morning Reads, catch y’all later in the comments!
Posted: August 28, 2011 Filed under: China, Environment, Environmental Protection, Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Libya, morning reads, racism, worker rights | Tags: australia, Climate change, Disney, dugong, Hurricane Irene, Mattel, MLK Memorial, Walmart
Well, Irene must be pounding New York City…I hope that all our readers in its path are safe…as I was writing this post last night, it was reassuring to see some of you checking in.
Irene has put many events and sports games on hold, but as Boston Boomer mentioned yesterday, one of the postponed disappointments is the inauguration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in D.C. Rupert Cornwell: He had a dream – and now it’s set in stone – Rupert Cornwell, Commentators – The Independent
The new Martin Luther King memorial will be dedicated by President Barack Obama
In terms of physical damage and devastation, Hurricane Irene may have a great deal to answer for. But here in America’s capital, to injury has been added insult. The storm has forced the postponement of today’s planned formal inauguration of the new memorial to Martin Luther King on the National Mall in Washington DC. The dedication was to have been performed by the black president whose own miraculous ascent and inauguration would never have happened but for Dr King and the movement he led, and the speech he made close to that spot exactly 48 years ago.
But the mere dedication of a monument does of itself not turn wrongs into rights, or wipe a country’s conscience clean. Yes, the new King memorial is remarkable: the Mall is a place that honours wars and those who died in them, and the country’s greatest government leaders. Yet King was a pacifist (and widely reviled for it). He was an outsider, who made his reputation by defying the laws of the land.
He preached reconciliation, but as Cornel West, a Princeton professor and leading African-American intellectual, argued in The New York Times on Friday, King was also a revolutionary, who never ceased to decry the “racism, poverty, militarism and materialism” of American society.
Obama was supposed to speak at the event, which has been postponed indefinitely, and although I am disgusted with Obama, his lack of leadership and his pro-GOP policies… that a black president would be officiating at the MLK memorial’s opening is sure to bring emotional feelings for anyone, no matter what you think of Obama.
Yes, we have come a long way since that speech King gave 48 years ago, but it is sad that under this first black US president, African-Americans are experiencing a trend that is not moving blacks forward toward the dream that Mr. King spoke so eloquently about.
Since the 2008 crash, blacks have gone backwards economically. Since George W Bush left office, black unemployment has risen from 11 per cent to nearly 16 per cent, compared with an overall national rate of just over 9 per cent. According to one recent study, the median wealth of black households is one-twentieth of that of white households.
In 1963, King declared that the March on Washington was not an end but a beginning, and so it proved. The same goes for the new memorial, a reminder not of what has been achieved, but of what remains to be achieved.
Over in China, workers face unbearable conditions and forced overtime…in a toy factory that also employs children. Disney factory faces probe into sweatshop suicide claims | World news | The Observer
A Sturdy Products’ employee works to fulfil orders, for ranges that include Disney merchandise. But a monitoring group claims that workers’ rights are often abused
Disney’s best-selling Cars toys are being made in a factory in China that uses child labour and forces staff to do three times the amount of overtime allowed by law, according to an investigation.
One worker reportedly killed herself after being repeatedly shouted at by bosses. Others cited worries over poisonous chemicals. Disney has now launched its own investigation.
It is claimed some of the 6,000 employees have to work an extra 120 hours every month to meet demand from western shops for the latest toys.
The factory, called Sturdy Products, makes toys for the giant Mattel company, which last month announced quarterly profits of £48m on the back of strong sales of Barbie dolls and Cars 2 toys. Sturdy Products, in the city of Shenzhen, also makes toys for US superstore chain Walmart. Among the brands produced are the Thomas the Tank Engine range, Matchbox cars, Cars, Toy Story, Barbie and Fisher Price products, Scrabble and the Hot Wheels sets.
So, this factory makes toys for Disney, Mattel and Walmart…
Sacom’s accusations against the factory include:
■ The employment of a 14-year-old. Staff also reported the presence of other child workers, according to the investigator.
■ Routine excessive overtime. Employees produced a “voluntary” document they said they had to sign agreeing to work beyond the maximum overtime legal limit of 36 hours a month, along with wage slips that suggested they were averaging 120 hours of overtime a month.
■ A harsh working environment in which workers complained of mistreatment by management. One worker injured on the production line was shouted at and ordered back to work despite needing medical treatment.
■ Concerns about the chemicals in use and poor ventilation. Employees claimed three workers had fallen ill. They said they had to hide pots of adhesive and thinners during audits of the factory by its client companies.
■ They also claimed that they were paid by the factory to give misleading answers during audits and that they were fined for failing to hit targets. The calculation of wages for different workers was described by Sacom as arbitrary.
The International Council of Toy Industries’ Care Foundation, oof what a long name…is supposed to be overseeing the production of toy’s made overseas.
Sacom’s findings brought a rebuke from the International Council of Toy Industries’ Care Foundation. “We are the first to concede that much more work lies ahead of us, but we refuse to accept the sensationalist, media-oriented declarations of any group, especially when they are carping and filled with incorrect information. It is simply counter-productive,” the foundation said.
“The plain truth is that workers in many toy factories in China are better off now than they were before and that this is due in considerable part to the ICTI Care Process.”
Hmmm, that is some attitude to take isn’t it? Can you imagine how bad the factories were before the ICTI Care Process was enacted.
Now that Gaddafi has been pushed out of Tripoli, large mass graves are being found. Charred remains of massacre victims found in Tripoli – Africa, World – The Independent
The terrible price many Libyan people have paid to be free of Colonel Gaddafi is becoming plain. Yesterday, only a day after more than 120 decomposing bodies were found in a Tripoli hospital, a British television team filmed the charred remains of an estimated 53 people in a burnt-out warehouse in the south of the city.
Stuart Ramsay of Sky News was led to the building by residents who had made the discovery. Inside was a scene of mass cremation: more than four dozen corpses of what were once human beings, their ages and genders impossible to tell. Ribcages, skulls and other bones lay in a blackened mess. Local people told of how the bodies of perhaps as many as 100 others lay nearby, including those of two soldiers with their hands behind their backs who had been executed for refusing to fire on the victims of the massacre, be they regime critics, civilians, or other refusenik soldiers.
The residents said they had been alerted by shooting some days ago, but when they tried to approach they were told by regime snipers that they would be shot if they did not retreat. After the Gaddafi men left, they went inside the warehouse, which is next to a military base. They said that in the past few weeks, they had seen people digging at night and the sound of gunfire. In the morning, the holes would be filled in.
But this is, like all civil wars, an exceptionally brutal conflict, with blame on both sides, and victims everywhere. The bodies keep piling up – civilians caught in crossfire, fighters lying where they fell, and the executed of both sides, including men from sub-Saharan Africa who may have been Gaddafi mercenaries, or just some poor wretch gone north to find work.
The article points out that Gaddafi loyalist are not the only ones who have been involved in brutal violence, it also questions the background of the leader of the Rebel forces.
Yesterday, The Independent on Sunday learned that the rebel military commander behind the successful assault on Tripoli had fought in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban and was an Islamist terror suspect interrogated by the CIA. Abdelhakim Belhadj, the newly appointed commander of the Tripoli Military Council is a former emir of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) – banned by Britain and the US as a terrorist organisation after the 9/11 attacks.
If this is the case, it gives me the willies. But it would not be the first time the US has put its support behind a questionable leader of a rebel force. That is one tricky mess the State Department will be dealing with. I am just glad that Clinton, someone I trust completely, is there to put her expertise to work.
Going back to Irene, and the impact it is having on New York City. For some perspective, here is an article that discusses New York’s History of Being Buffeted, Starting in 1821 – NYTimes.com
The New York TimesRemains of houses littered Westhampton, N.Y., after a hurricane in 1938.
Stephen Fybish, a 74-year-old weather historian from Manhattan’s Upper West Side, celebrated his second birthday in Jackson Heights, Queens, on Sept. 20, 1938, the day before the great hurricane struck New York City. Nonetheless, his mother often proudly reminded him, everybody who was invited made it to his party.
The 1938 storm, which claimed 600 lives in the Northeast, devastated eastern Long Island, but spared much of the city, which, Mr. Fybish recalled, was soaked by about five inches of rain over two days and whipped by 60 m.p.h. winds.
Like other hurricanes, even that storm paled in comparison to the fiercest gale ever recorded, the one that that slammed the city head-on near what is now Kennedy International Airport on Sept. 3, 1821 — before Mr. Fybish’s time, he acknowledges. The tide rose 13 feet and the Hudson and East Rivers converged in lower Manhattan.
Take a look at the rest of that article. It summarizes the various hurricanes that have hit the city, Irene isn’t the first, and it surely will not be the last.
In another NYT article…The question of global warming and the effect on weather is debated. As Climate Changes, Scientists See Irene as a Harbinger – NYTimes.com
While the number of the most intense storms has clearly been rising since the 1970s, researchers have come to differing conclusions about whether that increase can be attributed to human activities.
“On a longer time scale, I think — but not all of my colleagues agree — that the evidence for a connection between Atlantic hurricanes and global climate change is fairly compelling,” said Kerry Emanuel, an expert on the issue at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Storms are one of nature’s ways of moving heat around, and high temperatures at the ocean surface tend to feed hurricanes and make them stronger. That appears to be a prime factor in explaining the power of Hurricane Irene, since temperatures in the Atlantic are well above their long-term average for this time of year.
The ocean has been getting warmer for decades, and most climate scientists say it is because greenhouse gases are trapping extra heat. Rising sea-surface temperatures are factored into both Mr. Knutson’s and Dr. Emanuel’s analyses, but they disagree on the effect that warming in remote areas of the tropics will have on Atlantic hurricanes.
Air temperatures are also rising because of greenhouse gases, scientists say. That causes land ice to melt, one of several factors leading to a rise in sea level. That increase, in turn, is making coastlines more vulnerable to damage from the storm surges that can accompany powerful hurricanes.
Powerful cyclone storms have also affected the environment in Australia. Famine threatens Australia’s gentle sea cows – Nature, Environment – The Independent
The dugong is under pressure from pollution, encroaching industrial development, and hunting
An underwater famine is posing the latest threat to one of Australia’s most endangered marine species, the dugong, which lives entirely on sea grass. At least 100 have starved to death in recent months and many more are likely to follow in the absence of their only food source.
Torrential rain and storms, including Cyclone Yasi earlier this year, have destroyed vast swathes of sea grass from northern Queensland to the New South Wales border. More than 1,000 miles of coastline which once provided the perfect habitat for these oddly shaped and gentle creatures are now denuded of the dugong’s natural foodstuff.
“This is a national environmental disaster,” says Professor Ellen Ariel, a marine biologist at James Cook University in Townsville. “What’s happening now is they have nothing to eat and it’s not going to change in any way soon. Sea grass takes between two to three years to recover, if there are no other extreme weather events in the meantime.”
Those dugong look a lot like manatees don’t they? They are in fact in the same order of species. Dugongs, Dugong Pictures, Dugong Facts – National Geographic
Possibly the inspiration for mariners’ tales of mermaids, dugongs are closely related to elephants.
For those of you who are not getting hit by Irene, Look overhead to see the summer Milky Way | Tonight | EarthSky
The moon will be new tomorrow and then in a waxing crescent phase in the west after sunset in the next few days. That means that, over the coming week, the moon will set soon after sunset and be mostly absent from the evening sky.
And a moonless sky means this is a good time to get out into the country for a look at the summer Milky Way: the edgewise view into our own galaxy.
Here is the view if you are standing facing east – but craning your neck to look overhead. The galaxy stretches across the sky during the evening hours now. When you look at it with the eye alone, you might think it looks hazy. But you’ll see the truth if you’ll peer at the Milky Way with an ordinary pair of binoculars. Binoculars cause the so-called haze to explode into view as myriad, distant stars.
We are going to try to get a look at the Milky Way from our back porch…I will let you know if we do get to see it with the naked eye.
From the Minx Missing Link File: Ah, this missing link is from yesterday, and is from one of my favorite sites, Medieval News: 500 years ago, yeast’s epic journey gave rise to lager beer
In the 15th century, when Europeans first began moving people and goods across the Atlantic, a microscopic stowaway somehow made its way to the caves and monasteries of Bavaria.
The stowaway, a yeast that may have been transported from a distant shore on a piece of wood or in the stomach of a fruit fly, was destined for great things. In the dank caves and monastery cellars where 15th century brewmeisters stored their product, the newly arrived yeast fused with a distant relative, the domesticated yeast used for millennia to make leavened bread and ferment wine and ale. The resulting hybrid – representing a marriage of species as evolutionarily separated as humans and chickens – would give us lager, the clear, cold-fermented beer first brewed by 15th century Bavarians and that today is among the most popular – if not the most popular – alcoholic beverage in the world.
Click the link above to read the full paper this little “tease” of an abstract is giving.
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: The Makerie Shows off Beautiful Paper Birds | Geekosystem Take a look at these paper birds…cool stuff indeed.
Artists Joyanne Horscroft and Julie Wilkinson comprise The Makerie, makers of incredible works of paper art. While their work has encompassed many different subjects, they’ve recently produced some truly amazing birds made from paper. While birds are a favorite subject for origami artists, The Makerie shirks the ancient approach for a more sculptural and dynamic look. The feathers cascade, the colors pop, and there’s an eerie sense of life in some of these works. Be sure to read on below for some more examples of their work.
There is your Sunday reads for today. If you are in the path of Irene, please take care and let us know that you are okay.
Are you finding anything interesting this morning? Post some links, and I will catch y’all later in the comments!