There’s a lot of news breaking around the world this morning, much of it only tangentially to politics; so I have a mixed bag of reads for you to peruse.
Let’s start with some humor. Did you hear about actress Helen Mirren’s public rant yesterday? The NY Daily News spells it out: Helen Mirren, dressed as Queen Elizabeth II, tells drummers who interrupted her performance to ‘shut the f- -k up’
All hail the drama queen!
Dame Helen Mirren was spotted cursing up a storm in London after a gay pride parade chanced to pass outside the theater where she was performing.
The Oscar-winning actress, dressed in character as the Queen of England, rushed out onto the street and screamed at the noisy crowd to “shut the f–k up.”
The 67-year-old star was headlining the play “The Audience” at London’s Gielgud Theatre. Drummers from the gay music festival stopped outside the theater and kept up the racket for the first half of her performance.
During the intermission, Mirren burst through Gielgud’s front doors and tried to grab the conductor’s arm.
Later, she told reporters she’d “yell at [the] drummers again.”
Helen Mirren has said that she’d repeat her expletive-filled outburst at a group of drummers who disrupted her performance at the Gielgud Theatre in London at the weekend.
“If they make the same noise I would say the same again,” she said. “I was very upset, I was very cross.”
The Batala samba band had begun an impromptu performance on Sunday outside the theatre at which Mirren is starring as the Queen in the play ‘The Audience’.
But on hearing the noise, Mirren, still dressed in her costume, stormed off the stage and out into the street to give the band a piece of her mind.
A Volcano erupted in the Philippines, killing five members of a group of mountain climbers. BBC News:
Mount Mayon, 330km (206 miles) south-east of the capital Manila, sent a cloud of ash and rocks into the sky early on Tuesday.
The ash blast caught a group climbing the mountain, which is famous for its near-perfect cone.
At least seven other climbers were hurt in the eruption, which lasted for just over a minute.
“Five killed and seven are injured, that is the latest report,” National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chief Eduardo del Rosario said.
Four of those killed were German nationals and the fifth was their Filipino guide, the NDRRMC said later in a statement.
You probably heard about the horrific limo fire in San Francisco yesterday. SF Chronicle:
They were heading out on what was supposed to be one of the happiest nights of Neriza Fojas’ life, a party to cap off the bridal shower she’d been celebrating with eight of her nurse friends. Then the women’s stretch limousine headed west over the San Mateo Bridge – and horror erupted.
Just after 10 p.m. Saturday, flames burst out in the back of the 1999 Lincoln Town Car. The driver pulled over, and he and four of the women managed to escape. But the other five passengers, including Fojas, remained trapped.
They couldn’t get out the rear doors, so they tried to squeeze through a small window into the driver’s compartment. Within seconds, the back end was engulfed and it was too late.
Emergency workers later found Fojas and four of her friends clustered under the 3-by-1 1/2-foot window. The women, all in their 30s and 40s, died in the flames.
The driver claimed he did everything he could to help, but one of the survivors is “disputing” his story. Detroit Free Press:
One of the survivors of a limousine fire that killed five women on a San Francisco Bay bridge is disputing the driver’s version of what happened when the limo burst into flames.
Nelia Arellano told San Francisco’s KGO-TV that she yelled at the driver to stop the car, but he “didn’t want to listen.”
When the driver, Orville Brown, did finally stop, Arellano says he did nothing to help the women get out of the burning car after he exited.
Brown has said that, at first, he misunderstood what one of the passengers in the back was saying when she knocked on the partition between the passenger area and the driver and complained about smelling smoke.
With the music up, he initially thought the woman was asking if she could smoke. Seconds later, he said, the women knocked again, this time screaming, “Smoke, smoke!” and “Pull over,” Brown told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) — The death toll from the disastrous building collapse in Bangladesh last month has risen above 700, authorities said Tuesday, as recovery workers continued to pull bodies from the rubble.
The building, which housed five factories full of garment workers, caved in nearly two weeks ago, burying hundreds of people in a heap of mangled concrete in Savar, a suburb of the capital, Dhaka. It is the South Asian nation’s deadliest industrial disaster.
Rescue workers managed to save more than 2,400 people in the aftermath of the collapse, but their work for the past week has focused on using heavy machinery to uncover the remaining bodies buried inside the ruins.
The number of people confirmed dead from the disaster reached 705 on Tuesday, according to Jitendra Kumar Nath, a senior official with the district administration of Dhaka.
A large number of people have continued to wait near the site of the collapse for news of missing relatives. Their gathering point is a school playing field where bodies retrieved from the ruins are taken for initial identification attempts.
The officer in charge of a program to curb sexual assault in the U.S. Air Force was arrested over the weekend for allegedly grabbing a woman by the breasts and buttocks in a parking lot not far from the Pentagon, officials said on Monday.
Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, was arrested on Sunday and charged with sexual battery after the alleged incident in the Crystal City area of suburban Arlington, Virginia, officials said.
Krusinski, the head of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, was removed from his job pending an investigation on Monday….
An Arlington County Police spokesman said Krusinski, who was under the influence of alcohol, grabbed the woman by the breasts and buttocks in a parking lot. She fended him off, and when he tried to grab her again, she called the police, who arrived shortly thereafter and detained him, the spokesman said.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed “outrage” over the incident:
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called Air Force Secretary Michael Donley Monday to express his “outrage and disgust” after the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response branch chief was arrested and charged early Sunday morning with sexual battery.
“Secretary Hagel expressed outrage and disgust over the troubling allegation and emphasized that this matter will be dealt with swiftly and decisively,” said George Little, the Pentagon’s top spokesman, in a statement.
Arlington County police officers arrested Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, in the early morning hours of Sunday morning in a Northern Virginia parking lot near Crystal City Gentleman’s Club and Restaurant — a strip club one mile from the Pentagon. He was accused of fondling a woman near the strip club before the female victim fought him off, according to the police report.
Here’s an interesting science story: Male Black Widows Flip Sexual Cannibalism
Black widow spiders get their names from the belief that the female devours her partner after sex. But this gruesome ritual doesn’t always happen after mating and sometimes, the roles are even reversed, researchers say.
For choosy female black widows, sexual cannibalism is an extreme way to assert their partner preference, with less desirable males more likely to be chased down and eaten after they insert their sperm-coated palps into a female.
But in the species Micaria sociabilis, males are more likely to eat the females than be eaten, a new study found.
A team at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic studied how different pairings of the spiders interacted in a lab, making sure the creatures were well-fed to rule out hunger-driven cannibalism.
Males ate the females typically after the spiders’ first contact and before any mating, with the culprits most often males from the summer generation, the researchers found. These males tend to be larger than their counterparts born into the spring generation, suggesting size matters in aggression.
Meanwhile, age might be a dooming factor for the female Micaria sociabilis. There was a peak in reverse sexual cannibalism when males from the summer generation encountered older females from the spring generation, the researchers found. What’s more, not even virginity or big body size, often considered signs of mating quality for spiders, could save the older females from male cannibalization.
Authorities in Cleveland are currently holding a press conference on the dramatic story of three missing women being discovered in a home in Cleveland. You can watch it hear or on CNN.
If there are new developments today, I’ll update in a later post.
What’s on your mind today? What are you hearing and reading? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread.
I’m back with more reads!!
Before I get started with the political news, here a very strange story from Chicago: Urooj Khan Homicide: Chicago Lottery Winner’s Death Re-Classified After Cyanide Poison Discovery
With no signs of trauma and nothing to raise suspicions, the sudden death of a Chicago man just as he was about to collect nearly $425,000 in lottery winnings was initially ruled a result of natural causes.
Nearly six months later, authorities have a mystery on their hands after medical examiners, responding to a relative’s pleas, did an expanded screening and determined that Urooj Khan, 46, died shortly after ingesting a lethal dose of cyanide. The finding has triggered a homicide investigation, the Chicago Police Department said Monday….
In June, Khan, who owned a number of dry cleaners, stopped in at a 7-Eleven near his home in the West Rogers Park neighborhood on the city’s North Side and bought a ticket for an instant lottery game.
Ashur Oshana, the convenience store clerk, told The Associated Press on Monday that Khan said he had sworn off gambling after returning from the hajj, a Muslim pilgrimage, in Saudi Arabia. Khan said he wanted to lead a better life, Oshana said, but Khan bought the tickets that day and scratched off the winner in the store.
“Right away he grabbed my hand,” Oshana said. “He kissed my hand and kissed my head and gave me $100. He was really happy.”
Not long afterwards, Kahn was dead. Now police will likely exhume his body and try to find out who killed him.
Cheers, a standing ovation and a gag gift of protective headgear greeted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she returned to work on Monday after a month-long absence caused first by a stomach virus, then a fall and a concussion and finally a brief hospitalization for a blood clot.
A crowd of about 75 State Department officials greeted Clinton with a standing ovation as she walked in to the first senior staff meeting she has convened since early December, according to those present. Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides, noting that life in Washington is often a “contact sport, sometimes even in your own home” then presented Clinton with a gift — a regulation white Riddell football helmet emblazoned with the State Department seal, officials said.
She was also given a blue football jersey with “Clinton” and the number 112 — the record-breaking number of countries she has visited since becoming secretary of state — printed on the back. Aides said Clinton was delighted with the gifts but did not try either of them on and the meeting turned to matters of national security and diplomacy.
“She loved it. She thought it was cool. But then being Hillary Clinton, she wanted to get right to business,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
Did you hear about GOP Connecticut State Rep. DebraLee Hovey, who attacked Gabby Giffords for visiting Newtown? From the Hartford Courant:
In content and syntax, state Rep. DebraLee Hovey embarrassed herself, the General Assembly and the state.
Ms. Hovey, a Republican who represents Newtown and Monroe, blasted the visit to Newtown on Friday by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, a Democrat, who met privately with local officials and families of victims of the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“Gabby Gifford stay out of my towns!!” Ms. Hovey posted on Facebook over the weekend (misspelling the former Arizona congresswoman’s last name). In the comments thread, Rep. Hovey seemed to complain that she wasn’t invited (she was at a meeting in Florida at the time) and claimed the visit was political: “There was pure political motives [sic].”
How do these loony-tunes get elected? Hovey later offered a pathetic non-apologetic “apology.”
The remarks I made regarding Congresswoman Gifford’s visit were insensitive and if I offended anyone I truly apologize … My comments were meant to be protective of the privacy of the families and our community as we work to move on, and were in no way intended as an insult to Congresswoman Giffords personally. Our community has struggled greatly through this tragedy, and we are all very sensitive to the potential for this event to be exploited for political purposes. This is what I wish to avoid.
What a moronic asshole.
Read the rest of this entry »
Now that Congressional Republicans have successfully shot down President Obama’s rumored first choice for Secretary of State–Susan Rice–they are working on nixing the president’s possible pick for Secretary of Defense, Republican Chuck Hagel. Aaron Blake at The Fix:
Former senator Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) potential/likely nomination as Secretary of Defense looms this week amid a growing chorus of criticism over his past comments about Israel and his policy positions on issues including the defense budget.
It seems some are bent on defeating Hagel’s nomination before it can even become official — much as Republican senators did with potential Secretary of State pick Susan Rice just last week. In fact, the same GOP senators who scuttled the Rice pick are now expressing doubts about Hagel.
A battle over Hagel would be highly unusual — both because we just had one over Rice and because both senators nominated to Cabinet posts and Secretary of Defense nominees generally sail to confirmation.
Obama should have stuck with Rice and fought it out. Senate Republicans smell blood now. The only reason John Kerry may be approved for State is that Republicans fantasize that Massachusetts voters will repeat their past mistake of electing Scott Brown to fill an open Senate seat. This president is the worst negotiator ever. He really needs to get someone else to make deals for him. He just can’t accept the reality that Republicans hate his guts and will never give him a break, ever.
Meanwhile Rep. Darrell Issa must be drooling over the “scathing report” on the Benghazi attacks
Four State Department officials were removed from their posts on Wednesday after an independent panel criticized the “grossly inadequate” security at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi that was attacked on Sept. 11, leading to the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, resigned. Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security, and another official in the diplomatic security office whom officials would not identify were relieved of their duties. So was Raymond Maxwell, a deputy assistant secretary who had responsibility for the North Africa region. The four officials, a State Department spokeswoman said, “have been placed on administrative leave pending further action.”
The report by the independent panel has criticized officials in State’s bureau for Diplomatic Security displaying a “lack of proactive leadership.” It also said that some in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs “showed a lack of ownership of Benghazi’s security issues.”
The report did not criticize more senior officials, including Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary for management, who has vigorously defended the State Department’s decision-making on Benghazi to the Congress and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
At a news conference at the State Department on Wednesday, Thomas R. Pickering, a former ambassador who led the independent review, said that most of the blame should fall on officials in the two bureaus.
But that isn’t going to stop Republicans from trying to hang the blame around Hillary Clinton’s neck.
Sen. Bob Corker, R- Tenn., slated to be the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee in 2013, told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell Wednesday that Clinton “has to come before us. I think it’s imperative.” ‘
Corker and other members of Congress were given a classified briefing on the report and afterwards he insisted that Clinton must testify before she leaves her post and the Senate votes on confirmation of her successor.
The secretary was slated to attend briefings on the Hill this week but has been recovering from the flu and a concussion she suffered in a recent fainting episode.
Of course the right wing conspiracy nuts are accusing Clinton of faking her illness. And in the House:
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the unclassified version of the report “omits important information the public has a right to know. This includes details about the perpetrators of the attack in Libya as well as the less-than-noble reasons contributing to State Department decisions to deny security resources.”
He also said, “In light of the report, I am concerned that the carefully vetted testimony of senior State Department officials at the October hearing was part of an intentional effort to mislead the American people.”
Hey Darrell, have you hot-wired any cars or burned down any businesses lately?
While Pentagon officials struggle to figure out how to protect foreign outposts without using Blackwater-type hired guns, they are dealing with a worldwide Military day care abuse scandal.
The Defense Department has launched a worldwide investigation into hiring practices at military child-care centers after a criminal probe of employees at an Army base near the Pentagon sparked a review that found more than 30 staffers who officials say should have been barred from contact with children.
Two civilian employees at the Child Development Center at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall appeared in federal court Wednesday in Alexandria to face charges of assaulting 2-year-olds in their care.
The president immediately urged a thorough investigation and a “zero tolerance policy when it comes to protecting the children of service members from abuse.”
Two workers at the day-care center at the base known as Fort Myer were recorded by surveillance cameras dragging, pinching, kneeing and taunting toddlers, according to federal court records. The center is the military’s largest day-care center, with more than 400 children ranging from 6 weeks to 12 years old. It is used by Pentagon employees and other service members in the Washington area.
A personnel review at Fort Myer began in the fall after a parent complained about an allegedly abusive caregiver.
The inquiry turned up evidence that at least 31 staffers had potentially disqualifying factors in their records, including history of drug use and past allegations of assault, a U.S. official familiar with the investigation said. The staffers have been suspended.
“This is not just one or two or three people,” the official said Wednesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of an ongoing inquiry. “This is a severe lapse in the background checks system.”
In police state news, two women in Texas are suing the Texas State Police for subjecting them to an “illegal roadside cavity search.”
A federal lawsuit filed by two Irving women claims that Texas State Troopers humiliated them by performing illegal cavity searches on the side of the road after a cigarette butt was thrown out of their car window.
State Trooper David Farrell called in a female trooper to perform cavity searches of Angel Dobbs, 38, and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley Dobbs, because he said that he smelled marijuana and the women were “acting weird,” attorney Scott Palmer told KTVT on Tuesday.
Angel Dobbs recalled that the female trooper, Kelley Helleson, asked for her permission to perform the search and then told her to “shut up and just listen.”
Dashcam video shows Helleson searching the anuses and vaginas of both women with the same latex gloves in full view of other passing cars.
“At this point, I’m in clear shock. I can’t even believe this is happening,” Angel Dobbs explained. Turns me around goes down into the front of my pants into my inner thigh and at which point she goes up with two fingers. I just look at her and say ‘oh my God, I’ve just been violated.’”
And then the trooper performed the same procedure on Ashley Dobbs without changing her gloves.
“She went down, then turned me around, and went down my front and then she actually dug,” Ashley Dobbs said. “I didn’t know what I could say, what I could do. I felt hopeless.”
Is it time for Texas to secede from the union and become part of Mexico (except for Austin, Ralph)? Nah, Mexico probably wouldn’t want to get involved.
The TSA is “Finally Investigating Cancer Risk of X-Ray Body Scanners” now that millions of Americans have been used as guinea pigs in the nation’s airports.
Following months of congressional pressure, the Transportation Security Administration has agreed to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to study the health effects of the agency’s X-ray body scanners. But it is unclear if the academy will conduct its own tests of the scanners or merely review previous studies.
The machines, known as backscatters, were installed in airports nationwide after the failed underwear bombing on Christmas Day 2009 to screen passengers for explosives and other nonmetallic weapons. But they have been criticized by some prominent scientists because they expose the public to a small amount of ionizing radiation, a form of energy that can cause cancer.
The scanners were the subject of a 2011 ProPublica series, which found that the TSA had glossed over the small cancer risk posed by even low doses of radiation. The stories also showed that the United States was almost alone in the world in X-raying passengers and that the Food and Drug Administration had gone against its own advisory panel, which recommended the agency set a federal safety standard for security X-rays.
The TSA maintains that the backscatters are safe and that they emit a low dose of X-rays equivalent to the radiation a passenger would receive in two minutes of flying at typical cruising altitude.
Winter has arrived in the Midwest: Outages in Iowa as season’s first blizzard starts journey in the Plains.
(CNN) — Tens of thousands of people lost power in Iowa on Thursday as the first major storm of the season swept in, bringing blizzards, high winds and severe thunderstorms to the central United States.
The storm prompted the National Weather Service to issue a blizzard warning for a huge swath of the Midwest stretching from eastern Colorado to Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shoreline, including virtually all of Iowa.
The declaration warned of snow accumulations of up to 12 inches, complemented by 25- to 35-mph winds that will occasionally gust to 45 to 50 mph.
The storm will race into western Illinois, the weather service said. Rain will quickly change to snow as the storm advances northeast, with the heaviest snow occurring overnight.
“Snow drifts several feet deep will be possible given the strong winds,” the blizzard warning states.
Wrapping around the blizzard warning on the north, south and east is a winter storm warning, which will be no picnic either. The winds won’t be quite as strong, but residents should expect a strong dose of rain, sleet and snow, with a few hail-packing thunderstorms thrown in for good measure.
Hmmm…what about my neck of the woods?
The “intense cyclone” will crawl across the Great Lakes region Thursday and slog into northern New England by Friday evening, the National Weather Service predicted.
Ugh…just what I needed.
I have three longer reads for you on the possible motivations behind mass shootings. I haven’t read any of these carefully yet, so I’m not sure if I’ll agree with the conclusions.
Scientific American is highlighting an article from 2007: Deadly Dreams: What Motivates School Shootings? The article focuses on the revenge fantasies of young shooters.
A Time article from July (written after the Aurora theater shootings) asks about “The Overwhelming Maleness of Mass Homicide.”
I’ll be reading these articles after I publish this post. Let me know what you think.
Finally, Senators Diane Feinstein and John McCain are “condemning” the new movie about the killing of Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty for falsely suggesting that torture led investigators to bin Laden’s hideout.
Now what are you reading and blogging about today?
I thought I’d put up some longer suggested reads today since the news seems to be focused on several items we’ve been covering a lot recently. This first link is from Alternet and features Noam Chomsky and Eric Bailey of Torture Magazine. The discussion talks about our continuing abuse of civil rights and liberties stemming from the War on Terrorism during the Obama administration. Here’s some discussion of US “black sites” which are still in operation today.
Bailey: It has been just over 10 years since the publication of the Bush administration’s “torture memos.” These memos provided a legal justification for the torture of detainees held by the CIA in connection with the “war on terror.” The contents of the memos are chilling and have created new debate on torture internationally. Despite all of the promises given by President Obama to close those illegal detention centers, it seems that “black site” activities still occur. What are your views on these detention centers and CIA torture? Also, what do you think about Obama’s promise of CIA reforms in 2008 and how has the reality of his presidency stacked up to those promises?
Chomsky: There have been some presidential orders expressing disapproval of the most extreme forms of torture, but Bagram remains open and uninspected. That’s probably the worst in Afghanistan. Guantanamo is still open, but it’s unlikely that serious torture is going on at Guantanamo. There is just too much inspection. There are military lawyers present and evidence regularly coming out so I suspect that that’s not a torture chamber any more, but it still is an illegal detention chamber, and Bagram and who knows how many others are still functioning. Rendition doesn’t seem to be continuing at the level that it did, but it has been until very recently.
Rendition is just sending people abroad to be tortured. Actually, that’s barred as well by the Magna Carta – the foundation of Anglo-American law. It’s explicitly barred to send somebody across the seas to be punished and tortured. It’s not just done by the United States, either. It’s done all over Western Europe. Britain has participated in it. Sweden has participated. It’s one of the reasons for a lot of the concerns about extraditing Julian Assange to Sweden. Canada has been implicated as was Ireland, but to Ireland’s credit it was one of the few places where there were mass popular protests against allowing the Shannon Airport to be used for CIA rendition. In most countries there has been very little protest or not a word. I don’t know of any recent cases so maybe that policy is no longer being implemented, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was still in effect.
The Atlantic has a feature on the ‘likely’ new Secretary of Defense. That would be Republican and former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel.
In 2005, he began criticizing the George W. Bush administration, comparing the worsening Iraq war to Vietnam. When then-Vice President Dick Cheney said the Iraqi insurgency was in its “last throes,” Hagel told CNN, “Maybe the vice president can explain the increase in casualties we’re taking… If that’s winning, then he’s got a different definition of winning than I do.”
Over the next few years, Hagel’s criticism of Bush intensified, and in 2007, he told Esquire:
“The president says, ‘I don’t care.’ He’s not accountable anymore… He’s not accountable anymore, which isn’t totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don’t know. It depends how this goes.”
Hagel decided not to seek reelection to the Senate in the fall of 2007. In 2008, his name was floated as a potential running mate for Obama. Hagel didn’t endorse a presidential candidate in that election, but he criticized his colleague Sen. John McCain for his hawkish statements on Iran.
There are all kinds of people being caught in the crossfire of GOP intolerance, stupidity, and rejection. Why is the Republican party fighting the Violence Against Women Act? Greg Kaufmann writes on this in The Nation focusing on its impact on Native American women who are unprotected from various kinds of acts of violence. The hope and the bad guy in this story is Congressman Eric Cantor.
On April 25, Parker told of being “one of many girls” violated and attacked as a toddler on the reservation in the 1970s, and how the man responsible was never convicted. She spoke of an occasion in the 1980s, when she hid her younger cousins while listening to the screams of her aunt who was being raped by four or five men—the perpetrators were never prosecuted. She described her realization that “the life of a Native woman was short,” and consequently “fighting hard” to attend the University of Washington, where she studied criminal justice in the 1990s “so that I could be one to protect our women. However, I am only one.” She asked Congress to support the new provisions in VAWA to help protect Native women: “Send a strong message across the country that violence against Native women is unlawful and it is not acceptable in any of our lands.”
It was a turning point in the Senate’s work on the bill. It passed that month with sixty-eight votes, including fifteen Republicans—the kind of bipartisanship that is almost unheard of these days—with the new protections for Native women, and also for undocumented immigrant women and the LGBT community.
But in May the House passed a stripped-down version of the bill that contained none of these key provisions. Only six Democrats voted for it and twenty-three Republicans opposed it. Speaker John Boehner then used a procedural maneuver to avoid reconciling with the Senate on a final VAWA bill. Five House Republicans—led by Illinois Congresswoman Judy Biggert—wrote a letter to Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor urging them to adopt the stronger Senate provisions and move to a final bill.
Yet the legislation languished—until now.
Perhaps sensing from the 2012 election results that the GOP has a serious problem when it comes to relating to women who live on this planet and in this century, Cantor is now negotiating with the Senate and Vice President Biden—who sponsored the original VAWA in 1994. Word is Cantor has relented on the provisions for the LGBT community and undocumented immigrant women. He refuses, however, to consider any provision that gives tribes any kind of criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians.
Native peoples will have to start over from scratch after over three years of work if the bill does not pass within the next few weeks. It is critical that we contact Cantor and appeal to the small dot of a humanity that might reside within him.
Scientists have found glowing, green galaxies that have been dubbed ‘green bean’ galaxies. I have to say that this is really kewl and the video is worth the watch. Do little green critters come from green bean galaxies?
The galaxy represents a new type, and falls within the range of active galaxies known as Seyfert galaxies. It glows green because of X-rays spewing from a gigantic black hole at its center that weighs several million to billion times more than the sun.
Dubbed a “green bean” galaxy, it appears to be quite rare. Scientists found only about 20 green beans in the vast swath of sky surveyed for this research.
“These things are light echoes,” said Mischa Schirmer, the lead researcher of a paper reporting the findings released today (Dec. 5) and accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. “What we see is a quasar that is shutting down,” Schirmer said. “It hasn’t shut down entirely yet.”
A southern California judge has admonished a raped woman for permitting the rape by not struggling enough. Judge Derek Johnson told the victim that “If Sex Isn’t Wanted, Body ‘Will Not Permit That To Happen”. Where the hell do these men come from and how do they get to these positions of power? It just appalls me that over 40 years of activism has not gotten rid of the blame the victim attitude of so many morons.
A Southern California judge is being publicly admonished for saying a rape victim didn’t put up a fight during her assault and that if someone doesn’t want sexual intercourse, the body “will not permit that to happen.”
The California Commission on Judicial Performance issued a report Thursday saying Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson’s comments were inappropriate and a breach of judicial ethics.
Johnson is a former prosecutor in the Orange County district attorney’s sex crimes unit. He issued an apology saying he was frustrated with a prosecutor during an argument in 2008 over the sentencing in the case before him compared to other more aggravated cases.
The case involved a man who threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of his ex-girlfriend with a heated screwdriver before committing rape, forced oral copulation, and other crimes.
I guess Governor Bobby Jindal isn’t getting the attention he wants these days . He’s called for making birth control available over the counter in a WSJ interview. Will the governor be getting a tweet from the Pope on that?
Jindal cites a December committee opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists which comes out in favor of over-the-counter birth control “to improve contraceptive access and use and possibly decrease unintended pregnancy rates.”
Although the op-ed might seen like a shift to the left for the Catholic governor, Jindal also reiterated his conservative reasoning behind his support for the issue.
First, he made clear if birth control was more readily available, employers currently mandated to provide it under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act would not need to do so.
This argument most clearly is geared toward religiously-affiliated employers who have come out against providing birth control against Church doctrine.
Second, he touts the impact it could have on the individual buyers, saying “it’s time to put purchasing power back in the hands of consumers.”
Finally, he said if birth control is available over-the-counter, this would put an end to the politicization of the issue.
“Contraception is a personal matter — the government shouldn’t be in the business of banning it or requiring a woman’s employer to keep tabs on her use of it.”
Guess we’ll have to see how that goes over with the Right to Forced Servitude Crowd. Meanwhile, I’m getting ready for the mass insanity that will come shortly as we host the Super Bowl. I’m just really glad I don’t work down town any more. However, I think I’m going to go back to gigging during the time because those folks do like to eat out and tip big. I’m just hoping we get a few teams from the rich part of the country. Who do I root for? The Pats?
So, that’s my suggested reads today. What’s on your reading and blogging list?
I have a potpourri of great reads for you this morning, so let’s get started.
First up, people in the states impacted by Hurricane Sandy have barely begun to recover. CBS News/AP report that: The scale of post-Sandy challenge in NY, NJ is unprecedented.
Two major airports reopened and the New York Stock Exchange got back to business Wednesday, while across the river in New Jersey, National Guardsmen rushed to feed and rescue flood victims two days aftersuperstorm Sandy struck.
For the first time since the storm slammed the Northeast, killing at least 63 people and inflicting billions of dollars in damage, brilliant sunshine washed over the nation’s largest city — a striking sight after days of gray skies, rain and wind. The light gave officials and residents a true glimpse of destruction on a scale that the region has never seen before.
At the stock exchange, running on generator power, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a thumbs-up and rang the opening bell to whoops from traders on the floor. Trading resumed after the first two-day weather shutdown since the Blizzard of 1888.
New York’s subway system was still down, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said parts of it will begin running again on Thursday. And he said some commuter rail service between the city and its suburbs would resume on Wednesday afternoon.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie and his new BFF Barack Obama toured the devastation. From The New York Times: An Unlikely Political Pair, United by a Disaster.
President Obama toured the storm-tossed boardwalks of New Jersey’s ravaged coastline on Wednesday, in a vivid display of big-government muscle and bipartisan harmony that confronted Mitt Romney with a vexing challenge just as he returned to the campaign trail in Florida.
The scene of Mr. Obama greeting his onetime political antagonist Gov. Chris Christie in Atlantic City was a striking departure from what has become an increasingly bitter campaign, marked by sharp divisions between Mr. Romney’s more limited view of the federal role and Mr. Obama’s more expansive vision. The president placed a hand on Mr. Christie’s back and guided him to Marine One, where the two men shared a grim flight over shattered sea walls, burning houses and a submerged roller coaster.
Speaking to storm victims at a community center in the hard-hit town of Brigantine, Mr. Obama said, “We are going to be here for the long haul.” Mr. Christie thanked the president for his visit, saying, “It’s really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that’s going on here in New Jersey.”
The tableau of bipartisan cooperation, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s highly visible role in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, has put Mr. Romney in an awkward position…
As for Mitt Romney, he was getting hammered by the media in Ohio for two ads in which he falsely implied that Chrysler and GM were planning to ship American jobs to China. It looks to me as if Romney has given up the ghost in Ohio, because he headed to Florida yesterday, where a new Quinnipiac poll shows Obama leading by one point.
And last night the NYT editorial board slammed Romney for “cross[ing] a red line.”
When General Motors tells a presidential campaign that it is engaging in “cynical campaign politics at its worst,” that’s a pretty good signal that the campaign has crossed a red line and ought to pull back. Not Mitt Romney’s campaign. Having broadcast an outrageously deceitful ad attacking the auto bailout, the campaign ignored the howls from carmakers and came back with more.
Mr. Romney apparently plans to end his race as he began it: playing lowest-common-denominator politics, saying anything necessary to achieve power and blithely deceiving voters desperate for clarity and truth.
I think Romney may have finally sunk his campaign with those lying ads about the auto bailout. I wonder if that has contributed to polls that show Obama widening his leads in Michigan and Wisconsin?
In the Nebraska Senate Race, Bob Kerrey has been moving up in the polls, and last night Omaha.com broke some exciting news that could put him over the top: Chuck Hagel to endorse Bob Kerrey.
A spokesman with Kerrey’s campaign says Hagel – a former Nebraska U.S. Senator and a Republican – will back Kerrey in his race against Republican Deb Fischer.
Hagel’s endorsement comes as polls have shown the race between Kerrey and Fischer tightening down the home stretch.
Hagel’s backing could go a long way with independents. And, it clearly underscores Kerrey’s contention that he is the person in the race who can win Republican and Democratic support.
If Kerry, Claire McCaskill, Tammy Baldwin, and Elizabeth Warren, and perhaps Joe Donnelly can win their races, the Democrats should at least hold their majority in the Senate.
In Massachusetts, Liz Warren began making her final arguments.
As both Massachusetts Senate candidates deliver their final messages to voters, Warren is drawing on one major advantage she has in the state: demographics. According to the Secretary of State, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in Massachusetts by a more than a three to one margin. As the race remains close, Warren and her supporters are using a partisan argument to rally the Democratic base, and encourage activists to turn out the vote on Warren’s behalf. Elect Brown, Warren and her supporters argue, and Republicans will control the U.S. Senate.
Introducing Warren to a crowd of volunteers and activists at Warren’s Haverhill field office on Wednesday, Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said he came from a Halloween party. “Everyone was dressed up in really scary costumes, so I was going to dress up as (Republican Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell,” he said, to laughter. “Because can you think of anything scarier than (Republican House Speaker) John Boehner in the House of Representatives or Mitch McConnell in the Senate?”
“There’s only one vote that counts and that’s the vote about which party is going to control the United States Senate,” Fiorentini continued. “We know which way Scott Brown is going to vote.”
Warren also released a great new ad that may serve as a closing argument: For All Our Families.
Right now in Indiana Joe Donnelly is leading Richard Mourdock by 7 percentage points.
I’ll end with a couple of powerful long reads.
From Truthout: What Does Romney’s Campaign of Lies Say About Our Country? Here’s the first paragraph:
Last week Mitt Romney delivered possibly the most dishonest presidential campaign speech in American history. It contains lie after lie, distortion after distortion, and trick after trick. The fact that a person capable of giving such a speech has reached this level suggests that it may be too late to salvage the country. Our institutions may be corrupted beyond repair.
Please check it out.
At Alternet, Matthew Fleisher writes: Why I Infiltrated One of the Most Secretive and Powerful Republican Organizations in the Country. This one is really long, but well worth reading. Here’s the teaser:
The Lincoln Club is the real deal. And if they have their way, Citizens United is just the beginning of their political ambitions for the country.
That’s it for me. I hope you found something to your liking. Now what are you reading and blogging about today?