The day after Thanksgiving might very well be the slowest news day of the year unless you want to read about people fighting tooth and nail over “bargains” bargains at Walmart and other huge chain stores. Nevertheless, I’ve managed to dig up a few stories of possible interest.
Professor Jaeha Lee of at North Dakota State University and her colleagues actually published a study on the phenomenon of bad behavior by “Black Friday” shoppers. From The Conversation, Retail rage: why Black Friday leads shoppers to behave badly.
The manic nature of Black Friday has often led shoppers to engage in fistfights and other misbehavior in their desperation to snatch up the last ultra-discounted television, computer or pair of pants. What is it about the day after Thanksgiving, historically one of the busiest shopping days of the year and traditionally the start of the holiday season, that inspires consumers to misbehave?
The unique characteristics of Black Friday sales promotions and the frantic retail environment they create, coupled with the shoppers’ own physical and emotional states combine to loosen the emotional constraints. Retailers heavily promote their most desirable items at deeply discounted prices in order to encourage more foot traffic. Demand for those precious few items naturally exceeds supply, and that imbalance can lead to aggressive consumer behavior.
But another key ingredient results from the very timing of the sales, which may begin at midnight or early in the morning and require eager customers to camp outside a store all night: sleep deprivation. That means many Black Friday shoppers’ cognitive levels are not functioning at top form, resulting in impaired decision-making and heightened negative mood states, thus facilitating misbehavior.
Researchers found that most Black Friday customers are well behaved, and a “proactive” strategy would be to make store rules clear to shoppers and “monitor” their behavior even before get into the store; and remove rude and aggressive shoppers before they can start trouble. Read more at the link if you’re interested. My personal solution to “retail rage” is to stay out of stores as much as possible until after the new year, and do most of my shopping on line.
Of course Ferguson is still very much in the headlines.
From Reuters, via Huffington Post, Ferguson Protesters Target Black Friday Sales.
(Reuters) – Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri began targeting Black Friday sales at major retailers overnight in a new tactic to vent their anger at a grand jury decision not to indict a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teen.
Kicking off their latest strategy inside a Walmart in another nearby suburb of St. Louis, about 75 demonstrators protested peacefully, chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot!”, bemusing bargain-hunters pushing their brimming shopping carts.
They dispersed peacefully when ordered by a small group of police, moving on to a Target store where they staged a similar demonstration. More protests were planned for Friday.
Before heading in convoy to Walmart late on Thursday, a group of some 100 demonstrators ate Thanksgiving dinner, sang, prayed and discussed their new strategy in the basement of a St. Louis church.
“We are bruised but not broken,” said Cathy Daniels, a woman known to the activists as “Momma Cat” who prepared the food. “We are regrouping. We are not going to take this lying down.”
It’s really impressive to me how organized the long-time Ferguson protesters have become.
PBS Newshour has compiled a useful chart that breaks down the differences and similarities among grand jury witnesses to the shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. The results of the analysis:
– More than 50 percent of the witness statements said that Michael Brown held his hands up when Darren Wilson shot him. (16 out of 29 such statements)
– Only five witness statements said that Brown reached toward his waist during the confrontation leading up to Wilson shooting him to death.
– More than half of the witness statements said that Brown was running away from Wilson when the police officer opened fire on the 18-year-old, while fewer than one-fifth of such statements indicated that was not the case.
– There was an even split among witness statements that said whether or not Wilson fired upon Brown when the 18-year-old had already collapsed onto the ground.
– Only six witness statements said that Brown was kneeling when Wilson opened fire on him. More than half of the witness statements did not mention whether or not Brown was kneeling.
Check out the full chart at the link.
From the Guardian US, How Michael Brown’s family could still file a lawsuit against Darren Wilson.
If they do decide to go that route, the family’s first option would be to file suit against Wilson or the Ferguson police department or both for wrongful death in a state court. If they did that, the case would most likely be heard in nearby Clayton, Missouri, in the same courthouse where the grand jury that declined to indict Wilson sat.
The other option is to sue in federal court, for what is known as a “1983” violation (named for its place in federal law, Title 42 Section 1983 of the US code, not the year), which means a deprivation of civil rights. This would be filed in the US district court for the eastern district of Missouri, in St Louis.
While in federal court for the 1983 violation, they could at the same time assert the state law case of wrongful death. Importantly, a 1983 suit also contains a variety of provisions for shifting the burden of legal fees; if the plaintiff wins a 1983 case, the defendant has to pay all the lawyers’ fees and expenses, on top of any damages awarded.
“My guess is the family will go to federal court, both because of the fee-shifting rule and also because of a potentially better jury pool,” said Ben Trachtenberg, a professor of law at the University of Missouri. The state court jury pool would draw from St Louis County, which might be seen as more predisposed to support Wilson, while the federal jury would come from a wider geographical area.
At The New Republic, Brian Beutler tries to make the best of the outcome of the midterm elections, Six Reasons I’m Thankful for a Republican Congress. I can say that I agree with him, but I could be wrong. Here’s the introduction to the piece:+
I generally don’t go in for sentimental holiday rituals like announcing New Year’s resolutions or giving children candy on Halloween. But in the interest of promoting counterintuitive thinking about American politics and juicing this website’s holiday traffic, I’m making an exception this Thanksgiving. So here goes:
Today, I am thankful that Republicans won the midterm elections and will soon control the U.S. Senate.
I’m not arguing that a fully Republican Congress will produce better policy than a divided Congress, or that Democrats should feel relieved to have lost the midterms so badly. All I’m suggesting is that a Republican Senate is the best outcome for me, personally, and for the growth interests of my employer. And also, maybe—in the longer term—for the country’s fragile, wheezing political system.
Read his reasons at the link.
According to the AP (via the WaPo), some Southern Democrats want their party to get back to “basics.”
ATLANTA — Southern Democrats are joining others in the party who say that a return to advocating to lift people out of economic hardship and emphasizing spending on education and public works will re-energize black voters and attract whites as well.
“It’s time to draw a line in the sand and not surrender our brand,” Rickey Cole, the party chairman in Mississippi, said. He believes candidates have distanced themselves from the past half-century of Democratic principles.
“We don’t need a New Coke formula,” Cole said. “The problem is we’ve been out there trying to peddle Tab and RC Cola.”
Cole and other Southern Democrats acknowledge divisions with prominent populists such as Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is expected to run for president in 2016, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Yet they see merit in pushing stronger voting rights laws, tighter bank regulation, labor-friendly policies such as a higher minimum wage and other familiar party themes.
Finally, a great British mystery novelist, PD James, died yesterday at age 93. I’ve read a number of her books. From BBC News:
Her agent said she died “peacefully at her home in Oxford” on Thursday morning.
The author’s books, many featuring sleuth Adam Dalgliesh, sold millions of books around the world, with various adaptations for television and film.
Her best known novels include The Children of Men, The Murder Room and Pride and Prejudice spin-off Death Comes to Pemberley.
The author told the BBC last year she was working on another detective story and it was “important to write one more”.
“With old age, it becomes very difficult. It takes longer for the inspiration to come, but the thing about being a writer is that you need to write,” she said.
There’s much more about James at the link. I absolutely loved her first novel, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman.–so much so that I’ve read it at least three times. It’s about Cordelia Gray, a woman who successfully runs a detective agency.
Here’s tribute to PD James by her close friend and fellow mystery novelist Ruth Rendell from the Guardian, PD James: ‘Any of the events in Phyllis’s books might have happened’.
She did not write sensation novels, she wrote books about real things, things that could have happened. She didn’t write at all like Agatha Christie. Christie had the most magnificent plots and great stories, but I don’t think anyone would say that she wrote believable stuff, people didn’t want that from her.
But any of the events in Phyllis’s books might have happened – and I think people liked that because they’d never had it in crime fiction before. Dorothy Sayers was a marvellous crime writer, whom both Phyllis and I admired very much, but she hadn’t got the same reality, and she also had that peculiar snobbishness that made her have her detective the son of a duke. Phyllis would have nothing of that.
Both of us thought more about the characters than the crime. Her plots were good, of course, but she took particular care in the creation of character. Place also mattered a lot to her: if you knew the Essex coast you’d want to read some of her books because of her wonderful descriptions.
She always took enormous pains to be accurate and research her work with the greatest attention. She made few mistakes, but on one memorable occasion she did have a male character get on a motorbike and reverse it (I think you can do that now, but this was 30 or 40 years ago), and of course she got a lot of letters about it. But she had a great sense of humour and thought it was very funny.
If one of her books had police work in it, the police work would be true, it would be very real. Her detective Dalgliesh – named him after a female teacher at her school, she just liked the name – is the most intelligent police officer in fiction that I’ve ever come across. He’s sensitive, intelligent, rather awe-inspiring and slightly frightening, but he is a real person, you can get really involved in him.
Both of these women were involved in British politics.
We never talked about crime – because it was what we both wrote about – and we never talked about politics. Phyllis joined the House of Lords several years before me. We were both utterly opposed to each other politically: she was a Tory and very much a committed Conservative, whereas I’m a socialist, I’m Labour and always have been. Once we were in for a vote and crossed paths going to the two division lobbies, she to the “content” lobby and I to the “not content” – and we kissed in the chamber, which caused some concern and amazement.
James lived a long and productive life and her writing gave pleasure and intellectual stimulation to millions of readers around the world. RIP Phyllis.
That’s all the news I’ve got this morning. What stories are you following, if any? I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday. I hope to see some of you in the comment thread, although I know it’s a busy day for lots of people.
Take care, Sky Dancers! I’m thankful for all of you.
I hope everyone had a great day yesterday, regardless of how you spent your time. My day was very quiet, because I had an upset stomach from some brussels sprouts I ate on Wednesday night. My mom and I are going to have “thanksgiving” dinner at my sister’s place on Saturday, so we just hung out and relaxed.
It’s going to be a slow news day, obviously, but I’ll do my best to provide some interesting reading material.
The New York Times had a nice story about some help for Sandy victims that came from a surprising place–Rikers Island.
On the night that the storm roared into the city, Dora B. Schriro, the correction commissioner, slept on a couch in her office at the Rikers Island jail, bracing for flooding and reassuring inmates and employees that the island would weather the storm.
The next morning, the vast jailhouse complex was mostly unscathed, but Ms. Schriro was stunned by the devastation the storm had wrought elsewhere.
So she decided to put her jail, and those who call it home, to work. Inmates did 6,600 pounds of laundry for people in emergency shelters. The jail supplied generators and gas to fuel them to neighborhoods in the dark, and donated long underwear usually given to inmates. And officers with medical training provided emergency care to victims.
“There was a lot of loss,” said Ms. Schriro, who personally pitched in at food lines on the Rockaway Peninsula, in Queens. “It was our responsibility and opportunity to jump in and help.”
I was disappointed that the story doesn’t say anything about how the inmates felt about all this.
Jail officials did not make inmates available for interviews about the role they played in helping storm victims, but Ms. Schriro said, “I’m confident they knew what they were doing.”
I’m not sure what to think about that.
Somewhat lost in the shuffle of yesterday’s holiday was the fact that it was also the 49th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Journalist and assassination researcher Jefferson Morley wrote a piece about it at Huffington Post: JFK at 49: What We Know For Sure. Morley reports on new developments in the JFK story since the article he wrote in 2010 called The Kennedy Assassination: 47 Years Later, What Do We Really Know?
One nondevelopment is that “cultural elites” continue to deny any possibility that the official story of JFK’s murder could be flawed, despite new evidence that has been revealed in recent years. Morley writes that there is no real evidence of a CIA conspiracy to assassinate JFK, there is a great deal of evidence of “CIA negligence.” From the HuffPo link:
The truth is this: Lee Harvey Oswald was well known to a handful of top CIA officials shortly before JFK was killed.
Read this internal CIA cable (not declassified until 1993) and you will see that that accused assassin’s biography–his travels, politics, intentions, and state of mind–were known to top CIA officials as of October 10, 1963 six weeks before JFK went to Dallas for a political trip….
In the fall of 1963, Oswald, a 23-year old ex-Marine traveled from New Orleans to Mexico City. When he contacted the Soviet embassy to apply for a visa to travel to Cuba, a CIA surveillance team picked up his telephone calls. A tape recording indicated Oswald had been referred to a consular officer suspected of being a KGB assassination specialist.
Winston Scott, the respected chief of the CIA station in Mexico City, was concerned. He sent a query to CIA headquarters, asking who is this guy Oswald?
Oswald had been on the agency’s radar since 1959 when he defected to Russia, and they had a “fat file” on him; nevertheless, the CIA told Scott that Oswald had “matured” and there was nothing to worry about.
This optimistic assessment was personally read and endorsed by no less than five senior CIA officers. They are identified by name on the last page of the cable. Their names–Roman, Tom Karamessines, Bill Hood, John Whitten (identified by his pseudonym “Scelso”), and Betty Egeter–were kept from the American public for thirty years. Why? Because all five reported to deputy director Richard Helms or to Counterintelligence Chief James Angleton in late 1963. Because of “national security.”
Read much more at the HuffPo link. Not too many American still remember November 22, 1963 clearly, and as Morley says that dark day in Dallas “seems to be fading in America’s collective consciousness.”
It’s looking like once the final tallies from the presidential election are complete, Mitt Romney will have won about 47 percent of the vote.
The legacy of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign will be marked with by the number 47. Not only the 47 percent of voters that he notoriously dismissed during a fundraising event, but also by the 47 percent of voters who chose to support him. Analysts predict that Romney will have won under 47.5 percent of the popular vote when the final tallies come in, compared to President Barack Obama’s 51 percent.
Romney characterized 47 percent of American voters as dependent on big government and therefore sympathetic to the Democratic platform. Instead, the election proved that the conservative Republican platform could not make a strong enough appeal to the demographics outside of its own traditional backing.
What could be more appropriate?
This one is for Dakinikat: Why Black Friday Is a Behavioral Economist’s Nightmare. At New York Magazine, Kevin Roose writes:
The big problem with Black Friday, from a behavioral economist’s perspective, is that every incentive a consumer could possibly have to participate — the promise of “doorbuster” deals on big-ticket items like TVs and computers, the opportunity to get all your holiday shopping done at once — is either largely illusory or outweighed by a disincentive on the other side. It’s a nationwide experiment in consumer irrationality, dressed up as a cheerful holiday add-on.
As Dan Ariely explains in his book, Predictably Irrational, “We all make the same types of mistakes over and over, because of the basic wiring of our brains.”
This applies to shopping on the other 364 days of the year, too. But on Black Friday, our rational decision-making faculties are at their weakest, just as stores are trying their hardest to maximize your mistakes.
Read about all the potential shopping booby traps at the link.
Here’s a horrifying update in the global war on women: Saudi Arabia implements electronic tracking system for women
RIYADH — Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.
Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.
Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.
The husband, who was travelling with his wife, received a text message from the immigration authorities informing him that his wife had left the international airport in Riyadh.
“The authorities are using technology to monitor women,” said columnist Badriya al-Bishr, who criticised the “state of slavery under which women are held” in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
Women still have a very very long way to go, as we have learned here in the supposedly “advanced” U.S. over the past few years.
But never mind the serious problems that face humanity, the wingnuts at Fox News are focused on the supposed “war on xmas.” From TPM:
In the days before Thanksgiving, Fox filled its shows with dire, sometimes terrifying segments about all the threats surrounding the merriest season of the year. There’s the eradication of free speech by atheist “loons,” the possibility of choking on our food, the diseases spread on airplanes, and the endless depression that comes from Christmas commercials.
If we even make it to Christmas, that is. Fox’s morning man Bill Hemmer charted the possibility that the “apocalypse” would arrive on Dec. 22, and just how sad it will be when we all get wiped out, leaving all those unopened presents under the tree.
Here’s a mash-up of Fox coverage of the “war,” courtesy of TPM.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope you found something to your liking. Now what’s on your reading list for today.
I can not believe that Thanksgiving is this week, it has been one of those crazy fast years. You would think that with all the campaign crap we have been through, it would have seen like it was an eternity since those first horrible GOP debates. Can you believe a year has passed us by?
First take a look at these two articles, I want to get these out-of-the-way…Christian attorney indicted on federal child pornography charges
I actually did not want to include it in today’s post, but I could not help and think of the irony that once again a monster hides behind their religion. You should see the comments at the local newspaper that broke the story, it is disgusting.
This other article is from some right-wing Rabbi, and I warn you, it is f’d up. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Jewish Values Are the Salvation of the Republican Party
A ‘malignant weapon.’ That was the phrase used by a friend of mine — a national TV host who inclines toward Republicans but this year voted Democrat — to describe how Republicans use religion. “Why has religion made Republicans harsh. Shouldn’t it give them a soft heart?”
The congressional campaign I ran was based on the idea that the economic malaise in America was due to a values erosion. So long as we obsess over abortion, gay marriage, and contraception to the exclusion of any other values, we cannot fix our problems. I ran to start the process of replacing the austerity of some of the Christian social values, which have defined the GOP for decades, with the positive and life-affirming values of Judaism.
So Rabbi goes on about the problem with the GOP obsession with sex. Fair enough, but then when he gets down to his advice it is the same sexist shit, only warmed over with a bit of kugel and a schmear of cream cheese.
Also, I have two articles on Walmart, one which argues for higher paying salaries and hourly wages for Walmart and retail employees. Bob Herbert: Why Walmart and Big Retailers Should Pay Their Workers More
The other is from Cannonfire, who feels that we should have a Thanksgiving Day boycott of Walmart and other retail stores who are opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day. I agree, keep Black Friday on Black Friday.
Now for the fun stuff. Check this out….Great whites ‘not evolved from megashark’
A new fossil discovery has helped quell 150 years of debate over the origin of great white sharks.
Carcharodon hubbelli, which has been described by US scientists, shows intermediate features between the present-day predators and smaller, prehistoric mako sharks.
The find supports the theory that great white sharks did not evolve from huge megatooth sharks.
The research is published this week in the journal Palaeontology.
Look at these teeth:
The new specimen (examined here by Dana Ehret) links Great Whites to the much smaller mako shark.
Modern day white sharks show similarities in the structure of their teeth with the extinct megatooth sharks.
As they both sport serrations on the cutting edges, early scientists working on the animals used this as evidence for the sharks being closely related.
“But we actually see the evolution of serrations occurring many times in different lineages of sharks and if you look at the shape and size of the serrations in the two groups you see that they are actually very different from each other,” Professor Ehret told BBC News.
Are you all thinking what I am thinking? We need a bigger boat?
Megalodon had one of the most formidable bites known from the fossil record[…]
“White sharks have very large, coarse serrations whereas megalodon had very fine serrations.”
Now, additional evidence from the newly described species shows both white shark-like teeth shape as well other features characteristic of broad-toothed mako sharks that feed on smaller fish rather than primarily seals and other large mammals.
“It looks like a gradation or a transition from broad-toothed makos to the modern white shark. It’s a transitional species, and you don’t see that a whole lot in the fossil record,” Professor Ehret said.
From fins to wings…well metaphorically speaking…Gene distinguishes early birds from night owls and helps predict time of death
Many of the body’s processes follow a natural daily rhythm or so-called circadian clock. There are certain times of the day when a person is most alert, when blood pressure is highest, and when the heart is most efficient. Several rare gene mutations have been found that can adjust this clock in humans, responsible for entire families in which people wake up at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. and cannot stay up much after 8 at night. Now new research has, for the first time, identified a common gene variant that affects virtually the entire population, and which is responsible for up to an hour a day of your tendency to be an early riser or night owl.
Back in my first year of college I did a thing for my biology class, where I took my temp and blood pressure/pulse rate every hour for 48 hours and what do you think, I had higher temps and heart rates later at night, between 9:30pm and 4am. (But I didn’t need to do that to know that I am a night owl.) I function way better in the evening hours.
Furthermore, this new discovery not only demonstrates this common polymorphism influences the rhythms of people’s day-to-day lives — it also finds this genetic variant helps determine the time of day a person is most likely to die.
The surprising findings, which appear in the November 2012 issue of the Annals of Neurology, could help with scheduling shift work and planning medical treatments, as well as in monitoring the conditions of vulnerable patients.
“The internal ‘biological clock’ regulates many aspects of human biology and behavior, such as preferred sleep times, times of peak cognitive performance, and the timing of many physiological processes. It also influences the timing of acute medical events like stroke and heart attack,” says first author Andrew Lim, MD, who conducted the work as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).
Give the rest of that article a read, and have a thought filled night. Me? Well, I am just getting started…this is an open thread.
It is a Sunday after a long…long…weekend. Some of you have traveled to visit family, or some may have stayed home and had a quiet Thanksgiving. The one thing is certain, and that is for the next six weeks, the rush to celebrate the holidays will drive many of us crazy.
As the Italian government struggled to borrow and Spain considered seeking an international bail-out, British ministers privately warned that the break-up of the euro, once almost unthinkable, is now increasingly plausible.
Diplomats are preparing to help Britons abroad through a banking collapse and even riots arising from the debt crisis.
The Treasury confirmed earlier this month that contingency planning for a collapse is now under way.
A senior minister has now revealed the extent of the Government’s concern, saying that Britain is now planning on the basis that a euro collapse is now just a matter of time.
Recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office instructions to embassies and consulates request contingency planning for extreme scenarios including rioting and social unrest.
Of course they are expecting more outbreaks of demonstrations than Greece has seen in the past recent weeks.
Diplomats have also been told to prepare to help tens of thousands of British citizens in eurozone countries with the consequences of a financial collapse that would leave them unable to access bank accounts or even withdraw cash.
I can’t help but wonder what all this will mean for our economy…
The Obama administration on Saturday pledged a full investigation into a NATO attack that allegedly killed 24 Pakistani troops.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in a joint statement offered their “deepest condolences” for the loss of life in the cross-border incident in Pakistan. Clinton and Panetta also said they “support fully NATO’s intention to investigate immediately.”
Secretary Clinton, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. John Allen, commander of the NATO-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, each called their Pakistani counterparts as well, the statement said.
That is some big responses to this latest incident that has made relations even more tenuous.
“In their contacts, these US diplomatic and military leaders each stressed — in addition to their sympathies and a commitment to review the circumstances of the incident — the importance of the US-Pakistani partnership, which serves the mutual interests of our people,” the statement said.
“All these leaders pledged to remain in close contact with their Pakistani counterparts going forward as we work through this challenging time,” the statement concluded.
This is going to be a big problem…it seems like with the speed of US apologies, they know this attack is going to have huge consequences. Juan Cole shared some interesting numbers yesterday. Empire by the Numbers
Number of Pakistani troops killed at checkpoint Saturday by a US helicopter raid from Afghanistan: 25
Number of NATO supply trucks allowed to cross from Pakistan to Afghanistan Saturday: 0
Number of Afghan children killed near Qandahar Wednesday by a US air strike: 6
Take a look at the rest of his post, for more numbers that will surely give you something to think about. The report about the children being killed is disturbing.
I’m going to move on to Israel, and the latest attempt to remove Bedouin people from land they have lived on since Biblical times. Israeli desert plan would uproot 30,000 Bedouin
Bulldozed by Israel more than two dozen times, a village known by Bedouin Arabs as Al-Arakib is one of many ramshackle desert communities whose names have never appeared on any official map.
If Israel’s parliament adopts proposed new legislation, it never will.
The plan to demolish more Bedouin homes in the southern Negev region and move 30,000 people to government-authorized villages connected to power and water lines has been hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “historic opportunity” to improve Bedouin lives.
But Israeli Arab leaders, who have long complained about discrimination against their community in the Jewish state, call it “ethnic cleansing,” and aim to thwart the project with protests, a general strike and appeals to the United Nations to intervene.
“I will never leave here, I intend to stay until I die,” said Abu-Madyam, 46, a farmer from al-Arakib.
He and his family of nine live in a makeshift plastic-sided shack in a cemetery near the ruins of their wooden home, razed by Israeli authorities last year.
This latest try at removing the Bedouin is being touted by Israelis as a move for their own good, but it looks more like it is in the Israelis best interest to kick the Bedu out of the Negev area in southern Israel. That area is prime real estate for military bases since it lies between Gaza and the occupied West Bank. This is why some Israelis feel the dominate population of Bedouin people in the area is a security risk.
For decades, Israeli governments have tried to attract Jewish Israelis to move to the Negev, offering mortgage and tax breaks, but the region has fewer opportunities for employment than in the heavily populated center of the country.
Only 20 percent of Israel’s Jewish population lives in the Negev, which covers more than 60 percent of the nation’s land area. Bedouin villages take up two percent of Negev land.
This month, Netanyahu sat down with Bedouin mayors at his office to urge them to accept the plan, which could take at least five years to implement at a cost of more than 1 billion shekels ($300 million) once legislation due to be introduced shortly becomes law.
“Our state is leaping toward the future and you need to be part of this future. We want to help you reach economic independence. This plan is designed to bring about development and prosperity,” Netanyahu told the Bedouin officials.
Now that condescending statement about forcing these people off their land for their own good is just ridiculous. The Bedouin know what is going on, and so do global human rights organizations. Amnesty International has this area of land as one of the highlights in their 2011 Annual Report on Human Rights. Amnesty International | Working to Protect Human Rights
Right to adequate housing – forced eviction
Inside Israel there was a marked increase in the demolition of Bedouin homes in the Negev (or Naqab) area in the south. Dozens of villages, home to tens of thousands of Bedouin who are Israeli citizens, are not formally recognized by the Israeli authorities. These villages lack basic services, and residents are under constant threat of destruction of their homes and eviction from the land.
- The “unrecognized” Negev village of al-’Araqib, home to around 250 Bedouin, was destroyed eight times between 27 July and 23 December by the Israel Land Administration and police forces. After each demolition, villagers rebuilt makeshift shelters.
Back to the Reuters article:
Bedouin leaders in the Negev say Israel has long discriminated against their communities, denying them public funds and services, in a bid to make their inhabitants leave.
Many of them were built, the officials said, because Israel had failed in the past to offer other housing options.
In a 2008 report on Israel’s policy toward Bedouin in the Negev, Human Rights Watch said the government “appears intent on maximizing its control over Negev land and increasing the Jewish population in the area for strategic, economic and demographic reasons.”
“The state implements forced evictions, home demolitions and other punitive measures disproportionately against Bedouin as compared with actions taken regarding structures owned by Jewish Israelis that do not conform to planning law,” the New York-based group said.
One villager, Khalil Alamour, a 42-year-old schoolteacher, interviewed in the article is planning to attend a meeting with the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, that is being held later this month in Geneva. He says:
“We’ve been around for so many years, yet they treat us as little more than numbers on a map. It’s shameful,” he said.
Like most unauthorized Bedouin villages, Al-Sira is not hooked up to Israel’s electricity grid. Alamour and his neighbors have installed their own solar panels to generate electricity, supplementing the supply with power generators.
They have run their own pipes to hook up with a regional grid to provide running water for their homes.
In the ruins of al-Arakib, Abu-Madyam vowed to hang on to land which he said was once covered by lush grapevines and bought by his grandparents more than a century ago.
“I will seek justice until my last day. I don’t have any objections to Jews living here, too, but why must I give up my own rights?” he said.
Good question…what do you think?
In the Philippines, the situation is different. There is a group of people who are planning to build their own community, separate from those who are different from they are. Philippines’ little people thinking big
People of small stature in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, have ambitions to build a new community – of small houses – on a greenfield site. It’s an unusual idea, but they are completely serious and determined to succeed.
Inspired by the books of JRR Tolkien, the Hobbit House is one of Manila’s best-known bars. There are illustrations from the Lord of the Rings on the wall, and you enter through a round wooden door, just as if you were arriving at Bilbo Baggins’ house.
But the illusion doesn’t stop there – the waiters are all under 4ft (1.2m) tall.
“Hobbit House is very unique – we only recruit little people,” says the proud manager, Pidoy Fetalino, 3ft 6in tall, who has been working at the bar for more than 30 years.
While some might question how politically correct it is, the reality is that a job at the Hobbit House is undoubtedly one of the best the staff can get.
The state does not provide much support for those who cannot find work. And with high unemployment and height restrictions…working at the Hobbit House is a good thing.
They have formed a group called the Little People’s Association of the Philippines, which meets most Saturday mornings in a ramshackle workshop at the back of a flat owned by the president, Perry Berry.
The most important item on their agenda is a radical proposal – for the entire group to move out of Manila and set up their own community.
A wealthy benefactor has donated a 6,000-square-metre (1.5-acre) piece of uncultivated land near the town of Montalban, and there they want to create a place called “Dwarf City”.
Mr Berry has a clear vision of what he wants this community to look like.
“Wow, if you can imagine it,” he says. “We’re creating a housing project designed for small people and we have to create something unique. We’re going to build houses like big mushrooms and big shoes.”
Their idea is to construct buildings tailored to their size, to represent certain themes, and they hope they will be able to earn at least part of their income through tourism.
It is interesting to compare the Bedouin and the Little People of the Philippines. The Bedu do not want to leave their home lands, they see the forced evictions as a form of ethnic cleansing. The Little People see their plan for a Drawf City as a way to build a normal life.
The little people of Manila don’t want to confine this new “Dwarf City” just to the 47 families who are current members of the association – they envisage a much bigger settlement.“I believe that a lot of small people in other provinces have an inferiority complex, and don’t want to come out,” says Mr Berry.“But if the existence of this community is well-known, I’m pretty sure they will come and join us. So this community will become bigger and bigger.”
Now for some US news…after the jump.
I have some juicy links for you this morning…so go get your cup of coffee, cause it’s gonna be a long post.
There is a lot going on in Egypt…Egypt new PM claims more powers than predecessor – Yahoo! News
Egypt‘s military rulers picked a prime minister from ousted leader Hosni Mubarak‘s era to head the next government in a move quickly rejected by tens of thousands of protesters, while the United States ratcheted up pressure on the generals to quickly transfer power to a civilian leadership.
Kamal el-Ganzouri, 78, served as prime minister between 1996 and 1999 and was deputy prime minister and planning minister before that. He also was a provincial governor under the late President Anwar Sadat.
In a televised statement, he said the military has given him greater powers than his predecessor and he wouldn’t have accepted the job if he believed military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi had any intention of staying in power.
“The powers given to me exceed any similar mandates,” he said, looking uncomfortable, grasping for words and repeatedly pausing as he spoke. “I will take full authority so I’m able to serve my country.”
He also spoke about not being able to form a government in time for elections that were scheduled for Monday. The US issued a statement:
“We believe that Egypt’s transition to democracy must continue, with elections proceeding expeditiously, and all necessary measures taken to ensure security and prevent intimidation,” The White House said in a statement. “Most importantly, we believe that the full transfer of power to a civilian government must take place in a just and inclusive manner that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, as soon as possible.”
The stance is significant because the Egyptian military has over the past 30 years forged close relations with successive U.S. administrations, receiving $1.3 billion annually in aid.
El-Ganzouri’s appointment was announced by state TV following a meeting late Thursday between him and Tantawi. Tantawi was Mubarak’s defense minister of 20 years and served in el-Ganzouri’s earlier government.
Almost forty people have been killed in the last five days as protest turned violent against the military’s actions regarding a formation of a government. The generals apologized for the deaths, but their choice of prime minister angered the Egyptian people whose uprising earlier in the year brought about the ouster of dictator Hosni Muburak. Many believe that Egypt’s military has hijacked the revolution…by placing a member of Mubarak’s regime in control. Protestors have vowed not to leave Tahrir Square until the military resigns and is replaced by a civilian presidential council.
But not all of Egypt is angry at the military, it seems a bit like perfect timing. Egypt’s military leaders are bringing their own show of support. Egypt Military Tries to Woo Wider Public Beyond Protesters – NYTimes.com
Some call it the silent majority. In Egypt these days, the preferred term is the Party of the Couch. And in that ill-defined constituency, sometimes more myth than reality, Egypt’s ruling military has staked its credibility as it seeks to fend off the greatest challenge yet from protesters seeking to force it from power.
Drawing on sentiments pronounced Friday in the grittier parts of Cairo, even just a few blocks from the protests in Tahrir Square, and in a defiantly nationalist rally near the Defense Ministry, the military is offering either a canny read of Egypt’s mood or yet another delusional estimation of its popularity, a mistake that has bedeviled so many autocrats. With a mix of bravado and disdain, it has hewed to a narrative first pronounced after it seized power from President Hosni Mubarak in February: It bears the mantle of Egypt’s revolution.
“Egypt is not Tahrir Square,” Maj. Gen. Mukhtar el-Mallah, a member of the 20-member military council ruling since February, said in a news conference this week. “If you take a walk on other streets in Egypt, you will find that everything is very normal.”
In much of Cairo, and elsewhere in Egypt, the military has found a receptive audience for that message in a country buckling under a stagnating economy and a lurking insecurity. Even as it promises to surrender power by June, it has deployed all the platitudes of authoritarian Arab governments: fear of foreign intervention, fear of chaos, and fear of the rabble. One doctor quipped Friday that the sole change since the revolution was an extra digit added this year to cellphone numbers.
The concern seems to fall on who will lead Egypt’s government, if not the military…then who will it be.
“They think they can fill up a square?” asked Marwan Helmy, a 65-year-old high school teacher at a boisterous pro-military rally that convened Friday in Abassiya, a few miles from the far bigger antimilitary demonstration in Tahrir Square. “We will fill all the streets of Egypt and support the military. We can’t be silent any longer, the country is unraveling. Who gave them the right to represent us? Tahrir is not Egypt!”
Thousands turned out for the Abassiya rally, waving flags, chanting slogans more visceral than meditated and crowding overpasses and the square below. In its ardor, it seemed to manifest a militant nationalism that added a new wrinkle to all the divides in Egypt pitting Islamist against secular, rich against poor, and city against countryside.
It is going to get more contentious in the coming weeks. When Mona Eltahawy writes up her experiences being arrested and assaulted by the police and Ministry of the Interior…I am sure the truth will eventually come out.
Next up are some articles about present day slavery. First is a link to an Al Jazeera video report: The Al Jazeera slavery debate – Slavery: A 21st Century Evil – Al Jazeera English
Why, hundreds of years after it was legally abolished, does slavery persist? The last episode of Slavery: A 21st Century Evil is a televised debate in which this question, among others, was posed to a panel of those who direct or seek to influence government policies on slavery across the world.
The debate was held at Decatur House on Washington’s Lafayette Square – the site of the only remaining physical evidence that African Americans were once held in bondage within sight of the White House – as an iconic venue for the debate on a trade that refuses to die.
Moderator Rageh Omaar was joined by: Luis C d’Baca from the US State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; Kevin Bales, the president of Free the Slaves; David Batstone, the president of Not for Sale; and Joy Ezeilo, the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons.
This next link is to the State Department Blog, as it connects us to modern day slavery in a very personal way. One Million Footprints on the Path to Freedom | U.S. Department of State Blog
Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca directs the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Two months ago, the Fairtrade Fund launched Slavery Footprint, a web- and mobile-based application that allows users to understand how their lives intersect with modern slavery. Through a grant from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, the Fairtrade Fund developed this tool to help more people understand the way their lifestyles and consumption habits fuel the demand for forced labor and sex trafficking.
The app works by asking users to complete a quick survey about where they live and what they buy and eat. That information is processed in an algorithm that analyzes the 400 most common consumer items and determines the likelihood that those items were tainted by modern slavery somewhere along the supply chain.
The goal announced at the time of the launch was to register 150,000 people having taken the survey by September 22, 2012, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Twelve months to get 150,000 people engaged. What’s been revealed instead in the last two months is that people care about this issue, and aren’t going to wait on our timetable to join the modern abolitionist movement. On November 11 , only six weeks after the site launched, the millionth Slavery Footprint survey was completed. And it’s not just Americans — people from a hundred different countries have taken the quiz.
By taking the survey, they have learned that human trafficking doesn’t just affect people in faraway parts of the world. We touch this crime in the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the technology upon which we rely — and we can do something about it. Slavery Footprint and its partners like MTV have made it possible to take action by letting companies and universities know that you care about modern slavery and that you hope they do as well.
The road to freedom is long and hard, but there are now millions of footprints on that path. I encourage you to visit www.slaveryfootprint.org, take the survey yourself, and join us as we seek to deliver on the promise of Emancipation.
I took the survey and here was my results:
That figure is shocking, my numbers were higher than an average single person because I included my two kids in the survey. This really puts the issue of slavery directly on me, and how my family is connected to the modern slave trade. I urge you to take the survey, it will make you think about things from a different perspective.
Moving on from slavery to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Here is Hillary Clinton on the importance of eliminating violence against women.
Press StatementHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateWashington, DC
November 25, 2011
Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we are reminded of the horrific acts of violence against women that take place every day around the world and pledge to recommit ourselves to changing attitudes and ending all forms of violence against women and girls.
Gender-based violence is a global pandemic that cuts across all borders and impacts all peoples and societies – regardless of ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, or religion. One in three women around the world will experience some form of gender-based violence in her lifetime. The medical, security, and legal costs to countries are incalculable. It dampens economic development and tears at the fabric of societies. The health costs to women includes not only the detrimental impact on their physical well-being, such as increased susceptibility to HIV infection, but also mental health costs for both women and their children.
We need to improve our efforts to prevent and respond to this crisis. When women are afforded their rights and given the chance to pursue education, employment, and political participation, they drive social and economic progress. They lift up themselves, their families, communities, and their nations. But to build this future girls must be able to learn without fear and women must be able to make decisions about their own lives and the future of their families.
Prevention, protection and prosecution are essential to combating this violence. But we must add a fourth “P” as well – Priority. Empowering women and girls is already a priority of the United States, but we need more countries to step up and take on this challenge. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the 16 days Campaign Against Gender-Based Violence is an opportunity to renew the commitment to free women and girls from the nightmare of violence, because the future safety and security of our world depends on it.
Geez, I can’t help but think just how much better off we would all be if she was in the White House.
You probably have to go get another cup of coffee, so go ahead…there is more after the jump.