Wednesday Reads: Anything but real news…

01c1d471a1cb07ba84ebd92c8bd9893b56d71af011Hey, I just can’t bring myself to post anything serious and depressing so here are a few links to other interesting news.

Images in the post are from the Dolce&Gabbana magazine Swide: Saint of the day

Swide’s Saint of the Day Calendar. Swide has commissioned illustrator Lucio Palmieri and Daniel Fields to illustrate and tell the story of each saint of the calendar for 2014.

Alright, big news out of Egypt, as far as archaeology is concerned. Queen Nefertiti: Has the tomb of Tutankhamun’s mother been found hiding in plain sight? via The Independent

Queen Nefertiti has fascinated and perplexed ancient Egyptian scholars in equal measure.

The legendary beauty ruled alongside Pharaoh Akhenaten in 14BC. During her reign she accrued status as an icon of power and elegance.

Despite her prominence in ancient Egyptian history, her resting place has remained a mystery – but now a new theory by a leading historian claims to have finally found the Queen’s burial place.A diagram of Nefertiti's possible resting place. Two secret doorways may exist coming from the walls of the main chamber.

A diagram of Nefertiti’s possible resting place. Two secret doorways may exist coming from the walls of the main chamber.

Nicholas Reeves, an archaeologist at the University of Arizona, has made bold new claims that he believes she has been laid to rest in Tutankhamun’s burial chamber. The pharaoh’s tomb was found fully intact and untouched by explorer Howard Carter in 1922.

01283b9f4a9630b19cc1b3f192d17446608112a3adMore at that link, including an image of a young lady mummy who may be Nefertiti.

And if you take a look here you can read more on the ghost doors: Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb may contain hidden passages leading to Queen Nefertiti’s burial place: Claim

Ghosts in the walls

Dr Reeves has been scouring ultra high-resolution scans of the famous tomb, discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, for clues to its origins and constructions.

In particular, he’s been looking at the overlooked details in the painted walls of Tutankhamun’s inner sanctum, the burial chamber which contains his sarcophagus.

He’s found depressions and edges in the plasterwork which indicates the wall structure behind.

Among this is what he describes as two lintelled, walled-off passages which have long since been painted over with the scenes depicting Tutankhamun’s life and last rites.

0182bc032747f56b00dd137eda085161760d125a94“The implications are extraordinary: for, if digital appearance translates into physical reality, it seems we are now faced not merely with the prospect of a new, Tutankhamun-era storeroom to the west; to the north appears to be signalled a continuation of tomb … and within these uncharted depths an earlier royal interment – that of Nefertiti herself, celebrated consort, co-regent, and eventual successor of pharaoh Akhenaten,” Reeves writes.

Go and see the images at that link. It is very cool.

The original paper can be found here: The Burial of Nefertiti?

Hey, what do you know…there’s some tomb/burial news in our own country that is making headlines as well: The Roanoke Island Colony: Lost, and Found? – The New York Times

Under a blistering sun, Nicholas M. Luccketti swatted at mosquitoes as he watched his archaeology team at work in a shallow pit on a hillside above the shimmering waters of Albemarle Sound. On a table in the shade, a pile of plastic bags filled with artifacts was growing. Fragments of earthenware and pottery. A mashed metal rivet. A piece of a hand-wrought nail.

A secluded cove off Salmon Creek near the dig site in North Carolina where archaeologists have discovered several pieces of Border ware and other materials that may suggest an early English settlement in the area. CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times

0159c2fb95398c02cdaf8a99445e3cdca476f6c47dThey call the spot Site X. Down a dusty road winding through soybean fields, the clearing lies between two cypress swamps teeming with venomous snakes. It is a suitably mysterious name for a location that may shed light on an enigma at the heart of America’s founding: the fate of the “lost colonists” who vanished from a sandy outpost on Roanoke Island, about 60 miles east, in the late 16th century.

 Next up, a bit of history…yet still dealing with death, well…near death:

The last kamikaze: two Japanese pilots tell how they cheated death | World news | The Guardian

Hisao Horiyama first learned how he was due to die from a simple slip of white paper. On it were written three options: to volunteer willingly, to simply volunteer, or to say no.

017e25753d60d1f03f7bdec1a503e601961ee8d2abWith that one act of destruction, he would end his life and the lives of many others, in the name of his emperor as a member of an elite, and supposedly invincible, group of young men whose sacrifice would deliver victory to Japan: the kamikaze.

VE Day: The last British Dambuster – BBC News

…the last British survivor of the famous Dambusters raid explains what it was like to take part.

“I feel privileged and honoured to have taken part,” says George “Johnny” Johnson. “It’s what we were there for. We were determined to do our bit.”

Johnson, now aged 93, is the last British survivor of the original Dambusters, the Royal Air Force’s 617 Squadron, who conducted a night of raids on German dams in 1943 in an effort to disable Hitler’s industrial heartland.

010a3b8cd60d1306c14a4dcad0f9bf27f3309a81a6Their exploits were legendary even before being made into a film, The Dam Busters, released in 1955. A scene showing back-spinning cylindrical bombs, designed by engineer Barnes Wallis, bouncing along the water to avoid protective nets before sinking and breaching the dams with their explosive power, is one of the most famous in British film history. The Dam Busters March is still played at military events.

But Johnson isn’t entirely happy with the film’s depiction of the operation,codenamed “Chastise”, on that night of 16-17 May. “The thing that was disappointing from our point of view was that the raid carried out by my crew, on the Sorpe dam, wasn’t mentioned,” he says.

If you ever get to see Dam Busters on TCM, it is a riot….The Dam Busters (1955) – Overview – TCM.com

Video clips to the film can be seen here: Videos for The Dam Busters

Moving on to movies…women in film:  15 Women of Cinema History You Should Know | Mental Floss

You know Spielberg, Scorsese, Lucas, and Hitchcock. But did you know that the success of each of these iconic directors depended on a lesser-known woman behind the scenes? Dig into the hidden history of film and discover the women who shaped cinema into what it is today.

1. MARGARET BOOTH // THE FIRST FILM EDITOR

Because of the hands-on nature of film editing, early Hollywood considered it women’s work, like sewing. “Cutters” were often working-class women willing to take low pay to be a part of filmmaking. But despite the sexism surrounding them, this position allowed these female film lovers a unique place to make critical choices about a film’s final cut. Booth was not only one of the earliest pioneers of the craft, but also the one for whom the term “film editor” was coined.

012a26155dd04cfd7f8568d74f9e207cb4b69e0776Right out of high school in 1915, the Los Angeles native got a $10 a week job working underBirth of a Nation director D.W. Griffith as a patcher, eventually making her way up to negative cutter. By the time the controversial filmmaker moved to the East Coast, Booth was in complete charge of print production, managing everything from inspection to cutting to shipping the prints out. Booth would then get a job at the newly formed MGM, where her expertise was quickly recognized by the studio’s head of production, Irving Thalberg. Together the pair would watch and discuss dailies, and Booth’s insightful contributions inspired Thalberg to call her a “film editor,” a move that would forever leave the common term “cutter” behind.

She went on to cut a long list of films, including 1935’s Mutiny on the Bounty, which earned her only Oscar nomination. In 1978, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences awarded Booth an honorary Oscar for “her exceptional contribution to the art of film editing in the motion picture industry.”

See the other 14 women editors at the link.

Now, following the next connection…comes to our article on young women: Study finds unexpected biases against teen girls’ leadership: Not only many teen boys but many teen girls, some parents appear to have biases against teen girls as leaders, research finds — ScienceDaily

01f19941f1cb4e50bd958cf3c0c247af2a3a9a3d02Making Caring Common (MCC), a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, today released new research that suggests that many teen boys and teen girls–and some of their parents–have biases against teen girls as leaders. These biases could be powerful barriers to leadership for a generation of teen girls with historically high levels of education who are key to closing our nation’s gender gap in leadership. The report also suggests that much can be done to prevent and reduce gender biases in children.

Titled “Leaning Out: Teen Girls and Gender Biases,” the research report assesses the explicit (conscious) and implicit (unconscious) biases of teen girls, teen boys, and parents with regard to gender and leadership. Findings suggest that many teen boys and teen girls have biases against female leaders in powerful professions such as politics, that many teen girls have biases against other teen girls as leaders, and that many teens perceive their peers as biased against female leaders. Further, the research suggests that some mothers have implicit biases against teen girls as leaders.

“Our study points to insidious bias against girls as leaders that comes from many sources” said Richard Weissbourd, a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-director of Making Caring Common. “Bias can be a powerful–and invisible–barrier to teen girls’ leadership. Yet parents and teachers can do a great deal to stem these biases and help children manage them.”

01f371d53ba1d0285e4bec09ec2e563a4dfbf0047fHilary is in the news, and it seems like bias against teen girls as leaders stay with the girls when they grow up.

Hillary Clinton To Give Justice Department Entire Private Email Server

New poll puts Bernie Sanders ahead of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire | US news | The Guardian

I will go ahead and put some newsy links here:

UN Peacekeepers Accused of Rape, Killing | Al Jazeera America

Why is the GOP listening to Netanyahu on Iran? They just hate Obama & anything he does | Informed Comment

Texas Cop Fired in Killing of Christian Taylor — NYMag

Woman found dead in jail fears for her life in video – NY Daily News

01df59ac3283a2acdeff093ff514e393faa2e51cceLet’s update you on the toxic spill: Toxic spill from Colorado mine creeps through US southwest (Update)

Environmental scientists tested a key US river Tuesday for signs of a toxic waste spill from a botched Colorado mine clean-up that prompted a state of emergency in the desert Southwest.

What started as a three-million-gallon (11.4 million liter) orange-hued plume last Wednesday in the swift-moving Animas River dissolved from view as it made its way down the slower San Juan River in New Mexico.

No longer easily visible, it was nevertheless flowing on into Utah and the Lake Powell reservoir in the direction of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon, leaving behind questions as to its long-term impact.

“It’s so diluted, you can’t really see it,” Donna Spangler, a spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, told AFP by telephone.

Intensive water testing is nevertheless underway for signs of such cancer-causing toxins as lead and arsenic, with results expected in a matter of days.

018c7bca856d496239c9ea821a6372d5344fc1052dContinue with environmental issues: This video about the aging pipeline below the Great Lakes should be this summer’s top horror flick | Grist

You know that feeling you get when you’re watching a scary movie, and something bad is about to happen? The music gets weird, the action starts to slow down, someone says something meaningful like “I’ll always be there for you.” That’s the feeling you might get watching this video from Motherboardabout an aging oil pipeline lying at the bottom of the Great Lakes.

Here’s the gist: A company called Enbridge (appropriately evil-sounding) owns a 62-year-old pipeline running between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan along the Straits of Mackinac. The pipeline was originally built to last 50 years and is in questionable shape, but don’t worry — Enbridge says they have everything under control. Sure, the company had 800 spills between 1999 and 2010, according to Motherboard, and yes, one of those spills was the worst inland spill in U.S. 0185cb0070e65cce7dc2d4771bab5c66d67b6875fchistory, causing more than 800,000 gallons of oil to spew into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. But no matter — there’s a very nice Enbridge employee in the video who says that the company doesn’t want to have any more spills.

More than 5,000 earthquakes hit northwest Nevada

Seismologists studying a year-long swarm of thousands of mostly minor earthquakes in northwest Nevada say they could be the precursor for a “big one,” although speculation that they’re related to a series of extinct volcanoes can’t be ruled out.

The University of Nevada’s Reno Nevada Seismological Laboratory announced Tuesday that there have been 5,610 earthquakes in a swarm that started in July 2014 in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge near the Oregon border.

019d3e48512ff990b6e6d7eefc968e1ca72b9fe3b9More than 200 have registered at a magnitude of 3 or greater, which is enough to be felt by ranchers and residents nearby. The largest one hit on Nov. 6 with a magnitude of 4.7, although there’s also been a recent flare-up since mid-July.

“It’s kind of unusual that it has lasted so long,” said Ken Smith, a seismologist.

It’s been a topic of discussion whether or not those quakes stem from the extinct volcanos in the Sheldon refuge collectively known as the High Rock Caldera, which is at least 15 million years old.

That hasn’t been conclusively ruled out yet, but Smith said there’s no direct evidence of volcanic activity driving the earthquakes. To rule it out would require more seismic and geodetic measurements.

Such a repetition of small earthquakes is often associated with , but the latest ones point to a fairly typical tectonic sequence that is characteristic of the western Great Basin region.

Extinct volcanoes, 15 million years old, the next couple of links are about history, but not that far back in time.

01f6707e0836ffc5d06de7ca8d61908125df5204f9History News Network | Ancient Vikings Settled Greenland for the Ivory

After Erik the Red killed his enemies in Iceland, he found himself banished and sailing westward. According to a Real Estate Laguna Hills agency, “Around 985 CE, Erik settled his family on an unexplored island, and, in what is widely regarded as the first act of real estate branding, named the place ‘Greenland,’ hoping to attract other Vikings with the implicit promise of rich farmland.” But as archaeologists are now learning, Erik may have been better off naming the place “Walrusland.”

Scholars have long thought that Erik’s branding deception worked, and that Vikings flocked to Greenland to set up farms—even though the growing season is short and raising livestock difficult. Archaeologist Thomas McGovern and colleagues, however, are testing a new idea: that Vikings settled Greenland to provide European markets with luxury trade goods such as furs, eiderdown, hides, and walrus tusk ivory.

‘God helped thee; The eagle got food afresh’: Norse Crusaders and the Pleasure of Killing – Medievalists.net

The 12th century minstrel Bertran de Born told in a war hymn of  what gave him great pleasure: ‘I tell you, that neither eating, drinking, nor sleep has as much savour for me as when I hear the cry “Forwards!” from both sides, and horses without riders shying and whinnying, and the cry “Help! Help!”, and to see the small and the great fall to the grass at the ditches and the dead pierced by  the wood of the lances decked with banners.’ To Norbert Elias this was a clear example of the relationship between pleasure and killing in medieval society. Knights often took great pleasure in killing and torturing people, something that according to Elias was a socially permitted pleasure caused by a lack of social control.015a689f9bf0850c3d5f42da029d19ea8ec25560fb It was, however, these warriors that pope Urban II wanted to recruit to his new undertaking; the new kind of armed pilgrimage that was later to be known as the First Crusade.

This paper, however, will not focus on the relationship between the emotion of pleasure and killing on crusade from the perspective of the European knightly class, but rather from the perspective of crusaders from the northernmost periphery of Christendom, the kingdom of Norway. The men of the north are often depicted in the Norse sagas as taking great pleasure in killing, even doing it for no good reason; as famously illustrated in the comment of Þórgeirr Hávarsson, who struck the head of a shepherd for no other reason than that “he was well placed to receive a blow.” How then did these men behave on crusade?

Alright, the last few links have no connections whatsoever to the other links above.

Link between intestinal bacteria, depression found — ScienceDaily

Reverse Graffiti Creates Murals By Cleaning | Mental Floss

This is some cool artwork, check it out:

 

And your last story of the day: New Study Finds Earth’s Core Will Be Most Habitable Part Of Planet By 2060 – The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

015a5dc616112d8dd1aa770884b07e25faeb0b1a20According to a study published Wednesday by geologists at Georgetown University, the earth’s solid inner core will be the most livable part of the planet by the year 2060. “Provided that current trends continue as anticipated, within half a century the most favorable conditions for supporting human life will be located roughly 3,200 miles below the earth’s surface, atop its superheated central 011a72a5e7bc11d7184ed442350aaf745d95e78460sphere of iron and nickel,” said study co-author Lance Zelowski, who predicted that by mid-century, the inner core’s year-round temperature of 9,700 degrees Fahrenheit and its pressure of 3.5 million atmospheres would make it the most attractive location on the planet in which to live, work, and raise a family. “In order to ensure future generations grow up and reside in the best environment available, people will need to make preparations in the coming years to move their families to this highly compressed metallic ball surrounded by swirling liquid metal.” Zelowski acknowledged that, due to its limited surface area, only the wealthiest would likely be able to purchase property on the inner core, leaving most of the world’s population to make do in magma chambers directly beneath earth’s crust.

This is a long ass post for a Wednesday.  Have a good day…share what your thinking and reading about today.


Monday Night Open Thread: Egypt, Iron and a Dog

Libros y estrellas para soñar (ilustración de lonejane)

Libros y estrellas para soñar (ilustración de lonejane)

Good Evening

Eh…just a few links tonight. I think really need to take a break, I cant even bring myself to write these little evening open thread post. Blah.

In Egypt…the shit is really hitting the fan:

Obama administration quietly suspends military aid to Egypt, mulls ‘coup’ – report — RT News

Top US lawmakers have quietly agreed to temporarily suspend most military aid to Egypt, indicating that behind the scenes Washington is starting to treat the military’s ouster of President Morsi as a coup, according to a new report.

The Obama administration has temporarily halted the delivery of weapons to the Egyptian military as well as some forms of economic aid to the government, despite deciding not to officially describe the military takeover as a coup. The office of Senator Patrick Leahy, the head of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, told The Daily Beast on Monday that the administration has implemented these changes over the past month as it formulates an official determination on the coup.

If a coup is determined to have taken place, current law requires the government to cut off aid funding. While the Obama administration has maintained that its $585 million aid package is not technically on hold, it is not due until September 30 and “no final decisions have been made.” 

“It would be inaccurate to say that a policy decision has been made with respect to the remaining assistance funding,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday.

Multiple sources said that US leaders are acting as if a coup had taken place, even as lawmakers work to formulate their official position.

“The decision was we’re going to avoid saying it was a coup, but to stay on the safe side of the law, we are going to act as if the designation has been made for now,” one official told The Daily Beast. “By not announcing the decision, it gives the administration the flexibility to reverse it.”

This comes after news earlier today that Mubarak may be a free man soon: U.S. questions Egypt prisoner deaths, Mubarak may be freed | Reuters

An Egyptian court ruling has raised the prospect of freedom for deposed military strongman Hosni Mubarak, while the United States questioned Egypt’s account of the deaths of dozens of Islamist detainees and called the incident “suspicious.”

Six weeks after the armed forces toppled President Mohamed Mursi and about a week after hundreds died when security forces broke up protests by his Muslim Brotherhood, the United States said on Monday it was still reviewing whether to freeze any of the $1.55 billion it gives Egypt in mainly military annual aid.

The United States has been a close ally of Egypt, the biggest nation in the Arab world, since it made peace with Israel in 1979.

The 85-year-old Mubarak, arrested after his overthrow in 2011, can no longer be held on a corruption charge, a court ruled on Monday in a decision his lawyer said removed one of the last obstacles to his release on bail. The ruling coincided with another decision from the public prosecutor to press new charges against Mursi of inciting violence.

Fareed el-Deeb, Mubarak’s lawyer, told Reuters: “All we have left is a simple administrative procedure that should take no more than 48 hours. He should be freed by the end of the week.”

That is just all the country needs…another extremely dry piece of kindling on an already hot ass fire.

But news about Egypt isn’t all death and war and coup and former dictators…what about a story about iron from outer space?

Earliest known iron artifacts come from outer space

Researchers have shown that ancient Egyptian iron beads held at the UCL Petrie Museum were hammered from pieces of meteorites, rather than iron ore. The objects, which trace their origins to outer space, also predate the emergence of iron smelting by two millennia.

Carefully hammered into thin sheets before being rolled into tubes, the nine beads — which are over 5000 years-old — were originally strung into a necklace together with other exotic minerals such as gold and gemstones, revealing the high value of this exotic material in ancient times. The study is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Professor Thilo Rehren (UCL Archaeology, Qatar), lead author of the paper, said: “The shape of the beads was obtained by smithing and rolling, most likely involving multiple cycles of hammering, and not by the traditional stone-working techniques such as carving or drilling which were used for the other beads found in the same tomb.”

The team’s results show that in the fourth millennium BC metalworkers had already mastered the smithing of meteoritic iron, an iron-nickel alloy much harder and more brittle than the more commonly worked copper, developing techniques that went on to define the iron age.

More at the link…

Finally, Bo, the White House dog has a new buddy…her name is Sunny:

This is an open thread.


Saturday Reads: We’re Having A Heat Wave Edition

iceblock

Good Morning!!

The long weekend continues, and so does the heat wave here in Greater Boston. This is our second heat wave of this summer. I know these are just normal temps for you hardy souls in the South, but for us Northerners, it’s quite a shock to the system.

From The Boston Globe: As heat wave hits, region falls under a sultry spell.

The torpor-inducing temperatures, expected to last through Sunday, will feel hotter than the last, said Bill Simpson, a National Weather Service meteorologist. Friday’s high was 95 degrees with 55 percent humidity, he said, but the heat index, which combines temperature and relative humidity to measure how hot it feels, hit nearly 100. There will be no relief until Monday, he said, when temperatures should cool to the mid- to low-80s.

In Boston, Mayor Thomas M. Menino issued a heat advisory through the weekend, urging residents to stay hydrated and in the shade or air conditioning….

To stave off the heat, many turned to ice. The number of convenience stores and restaurants needing extra ice rose “exponentially” since the beginning of the heat wave, said Charlotte Ploss, sales manager at Brookline Ice & Coal, which specializes in ice delivery. The phones there rang nonstop Friday morning and afternoon, sometimes with customers requesting ice for the second or third time of the day.

One supermarket ordered 4 tons of ice, Ploss said. A restaurant called for so many ice refills that Brookline Ice & Coal offered use of a company trailer, which holds 3,000 pounds of ice. Because the restaurant does not have enough space for the trailer, its owner is parking it in his driveway, she said.

So what else is going on? The President of Venezuela has offered asylum to Edward Snowden. From Reuters via the NYT:

CARACAS — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offered asylum to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden on Friday in defiance of Washington, which is demanding his arrest for divulging details of secret U.S. spy programs.

“In the name of America’s dignity … I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden,” Maduro told a military parade marking Venezuela’s independence day.

“He is a young man who has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the United States spying on the whole world.”

iced.coffee3

How Snowden would get to Venezuela from Moscow if he accepts the offer no one knows as yet.

There are no direct commercial flights between Moscow and Caracas, and the usual route involves changing planes in Havana. It is not clear if the Cuban authorities would let him transit….

One alternative flight plan would involve an aircraft taking off from Moscow, refueling in Vladivostok, and then continuing east over the Pacific to South America.

Nicaragua has also said it would consider offering Snowden asylum. Both Venezuela and Nicaragua have questionable human rights records; but no doubt, Snowden supporters will find ways to explain all that away.

The Washington Post has a feature on Sarah Harrison, “the woman from Wikileaks” who accompanied Snowden to Moscow and is reportedly still there.

Harrison began working with WikiLeaks in August 2010 on the internal vetting of confidential U.S. documents supplied by Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, which the site later released. At some point that year, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Harrison and Assange became intimately involved. They cautioned that the relationship was not Harrison’s prime motivation in championing the WikiLeaks cause.

“She is firmly committed to what WikiLeaks is trying to do; she believes 100 percent in the mission,” one of the people said. “Any suggestion that her relationship with Julian is what has compelled her to do the things she has would be a totally wrong assumption.”

Although those who know her as an Assange confidante describe her as more comfortable behind the scenes, Harrison now finds herself in the spotlight. She has raced across continents to aid Snowden, assisting in his flight from Hong Kong and his search for asylum from Moscow. On Friday, Venezuela and Nicaragua offered Snowden asylum. All the while, she has has maintained a low profile and refrained from public statements.

Read the rest at the link.

iced tea

In Chile, another human rights issue has arisen once again–the right of girls and women to control their own bodies. USA Today reports: Child’s pregnancy sets off Chile abortion debate.

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — The case of a pregnant 11-year old girl who was raped in Chile by her mother’s partner has set off a national debate about abortion in one of the most socially-conservative countries in Latin America.

Chileans were outraged on Friday after state TV reported that the girl is 14 weeks pregnant and was raped repeatedly over two years. Police in the remote southern city of Puerto Montt arrested her mother’s partner, who confessed to abusing the fifth grader. The case was brought to their attention by the pregnant child’s maternal grandmother.

Doctors say the girl’s life and that of the fetus are at high risk. But in Chile, ending the pregnancy is not an option.

Chile allowed abortions for medical reasons until they were outlawed in 1973 by Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. The current government of conservative President Sebastian Pinera has opposed any loosening of the prohibition.

One has to assume that Republicans here in the U.S. are applauding this horror, since they keep trying to limit women’s autonomy with nightmare legislation in numerous states. The latest is Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker just signed a draconian new anti-abortion bill. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:

Madison — Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Friday requiring doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges, and abortion clinics responded by immediately suing state officials over the measure.

The law — signed Friday by Walker in a private ceremony — would cut the number of clinics offering abortions in Wisconsin from four to two, and one of the remaining clinics would have to dramatically cut the number of abortions it provides, according to the operators of the clinics.

“When women don’t have access to safe, legal abortions, there are health consequences and women die,” said Teri Huyck, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin….

Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services filed the lawsuit in federal court in Madison. They brought it against Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dave Ross and the members of the state Medical Examining Board — all of whom have authority to enforce the law or issue sanctions.

It will be heard by U.S. District Judge William Conley. It was unclear whether he would take action before the law takes effect Monday.

The National Journal is bullish on the latest jobs report. The Really Great News From the June Jobs Report: the April and May Numbers

Happy jobs day! First, the immediate good news: The June report showed the U.S. economy added 195,000 in June, strongly beating expectations in the 150,000-165,000 range. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, was unchanged at 7.6 percent.

But now for the really good news: We were quite wrong about job gains in April and May. Initial reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a jobs gain of 149,000 in April and 175,000 in May. In the latest reports, those numbers were revised upward to 199,000 in April and 195,000 in May. That’s a combined gain of 70,000 jobs from earlier reports. So, since April, it turns out that the economy has actually gained nearly 200,000 new jobs a month.

They admit the unemployment situation is still pretty horrible overall. Read about it at the link.

iced coffee

Here’s a wacky story out of Texas: Gun owners march on Houston police station with shotguns and assault rifles.

A group of gun owners and gun rights advocates celebrated Independence Day on Thursday by marching on the headquarters of the Houston Police Department while carrying an array of shotguns and assault rifles. According to the Washington Examiner, the group was organized via Facebook and numbered about 25 attendees.

“It’s Independence Day — where it all started,” said shotgun toting protester Jenn Kroll, to the Houston Chronicle. “What better day to show our rights?”

“If you don’t use your rights, they can take them away,” Ed Aldredge of Sugar Land said. Aldridge brought along his 11-year-old son, Austin, who carried a .22-caliber rifle.

No mention in the story about how Houston police reacted to the march.

Violence continues in Egypt where the army and Morsi supporters are battling each other. From BBC News:

More than 30 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in Friday’s violence following the ousting of Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi, it has emerged.

At least 12 died in Alexandria, and eight in two separate clashes in Cairo, the Health Ministry said….

Mr Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, is in detention.

Some senior figures of his Muslim Brotherhood movement have also been held.

Early on Saturday, state media reported the Brotherhood’s deputy leader Khairat el-Shater had been arrested at his Cairo home on suspicion of incitement to violence.

The Tamarod [Rebel] movement – which organised recent anti-Morsi protests – accused the ousted president of pursuing an Islamist agenda against the wishes of most Egyptians, and of failing to tackle economic problems.

So…quite a bit of news for a long holiday weekend. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Saturday Morning Reads

Good Morning!!

The political news this past week has been so strange and disturbing that I’ve begun to feel as if I’ve gone through the looking glass into some alternate reality. For years we’ve dealt with a press corps that refuses to deal in facts and will only report what one group of politicians say on the one hand, and contrast it with what another group of politicians say on the other hand, refusing to evaluate the truth value of what they are reporting.

But suddenly in 2012, we are dealing with a presidential candidate who seemingly has no scruples whatsoever. Mitt Romney lies blatantly and constantly, believing that he can get away with it in this media culture of false equivalency. And his running mate, Paul Ryan, also has a troubled relationship with the truth, although he isn’t quite as practiced a liar as Romney is.

James Fallows has been chronicling the way the media deals with what he calls the “post truth” era in politics. A few mainstream reporters have also begun trying to confront the blatant lying head on. Surprisingly, Norah O’Donnell, whom lefties have often mocked in the past, has been a standout. She successfully confronted Paul Ryan on blaming President Obama for spending cuts that Ryan voted for. And yesterday, she did it again with Romney surrogate Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.

Tommy Christopher of Mediaite: Norah O’Donnell Teaches TV Journos Another Lesson With Rob Portman Stuffage

Former Chief White House Correspondent and newly-minted CBS This Morning co-host Norah O’Donnell has been on fire lately, holding a veritable clinic on how to interview dishonest politicians that her mainstream media colleagues would do well to study. In the latest example of this, O’Donnell abandoned the current media fashion of ignoring lies (or presenting the truth as just another counter-argument), and pursued Sen. Rob Portman‘s (R-OH) disinformation on the recent violence in Libya like a Terminator with OCD.

What O’Donnell has been doing recently shouldn’t seem as remarkable as it is, but good old-fashioned feet to the fire followup is a sadly dying art, especially in television news. Interviewers either let lies and misinformation slip by because they need to hit all their prepared questions before time’s up, or because they’re numb to post-truth politics, or they present the facts in asterisk fashion before moving on to allow more lies to spew forth.

Portman completely twisted the timeline of events surrounding attacks on the embassy in Cairo and on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. He actually claimed that Romney had made his statement the U.S. embassy in Cairo had issued a statement after the attacks saying “We apologize,” and that Romney’s Tuesday night statement had been made before the violent attacks in Libya. O’Donnell point out the falsehoods, and Portman attempted to continue lying. O’Donnell kept at it, and Portman came out looking the fool. You can watch the video at the link.

After describing O’Donnell’s performance, Christopher concludes:

O’Donnell’s performance here should be in network news training videos, because the only way to get these people to stop lying is to put up a lie stop sign. For awhile, of course, every interview would look like this one, with the subject being stuck on the one lie for the whole interview, but eventually, they’d have to either start fessing up when they’re busted, or (heaven forbid) just start telling the truth.

Clearly, Republicans have learned they can blatantly lie to the media a get away with it; now Romney and Ryan have raised the lying to a new level. Will other reporters begin to point it out, as O’Donnell has? For the sake of our democracy, I hope so.

In contrast, I urge you to read the full transcript of George Stephanopoulos’ interview with Mitt Romney yesterday. Stephanopoulos half-heartedly pushed back on some of Romney’s lies, Romney just ran right over Stephanopoulos’ weak protests. There are points in this interview where Romney makes long rambling statements that make absolutely no sense, and gets away with it!

Romney actually claims that the White House agreed with his his initial statement on Tuesday night, that the U.S. Embassy in Cairo had apologized to terrorists for a muslim-bashing internet video!

Here is the Embassy’s statement, posted on its website hours before any protests began.

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

Now Romney’s Tuesday night statement, released after it was known that there was an ongoing violent attack on the Consulate in Benghazi with one American death already reported.

“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi,” Romney said in the statement. “It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

And of course Romney doubled down the next day at his infamous smirk-filled Wednesday morning press conference, by attacking and lying about President Obama even after it was known that four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stephens, had been murdered. Now let’s look at how Romney tried to wriggle out of responsibility for his ugly remarks in his ABC interview:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, there has been quite a controversy in the last couple of days, since those killings in Libya, the chaos in the Middle East. And we heard some of that at your event today. President Obama has stepped in as well. He said your comments on Tuesday night displayed a tendency of yours to “shoot first and aim later.” What’s your response?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, early on, with the developments in Egypt, the embassy there put out a statement which stayed up on their website for, I think, 14-15 hours.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But before the protestors had breached the wall.

MITT ROMNEY: Well, it first went up before they breached the wall. But it stayed up. And they reiterated the statement after they breached the wall, even after some of the tragedy in Libya, the statement stayed up. And I thought the statement was inappropriate and pointed that out. And of course, the White House also thought it was inappropriate. But of course, now our attention is focused on the loss of life and the tragedy of having a remarkable ambassador and diplomatic members, have their lives taken. This is a great sadness and tragedy for America.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You said the statement showed a tendency to sympathize with those who waged the attacks. And what the statement seems to be is condemning the continuing efforts of individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims. Where do they show sympathy for those who waged the attacks? It was done before the attacks happened.

MITT ROMNEY: Well, the statement as I indicated stayed on the website for some 14-15 hours. The statement was reiterated after they had breached the sovereignty of the embassy.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Coupled with a condemnation–

MITT ROMNEY: Even– and even–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: –of the attacks, though.
MITT ROMNEY: And even after the killing in Libya. And by the way what I said was exactly the same conclusion the White House reached, which was that the statement was inappropriate. That’s why they backed away from it as well.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: They didn’t say that it was showing sympathy for the attackers.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I think the statement was an inappropriate statement. I think it was not directly applicable and appropriate for the setting. I think it should have been taken down. And apparently the White House felt the same way.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So no regrets?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, I indicated, at the time, and continue to that what was said at that time was not appropriate, that they continued to have that. They reiterated the statement after the then breaching of the grounds. And I think that was wrong. And by the way my statement was the same point, which was that the White House said they distanced themself from the statement. I also thought it was an inappropriate statement. I made the statement– my point at the same time, I think, the White House did. So I think we said about the same thing there. I just thought the statement was wrong.

Is it just me, or does Mitt Romney sound like a gibbering idiot? Yet the Stephanopoulos allows him to spew his nonsense at will after a few weak efforts to point out fallacies. Seriously, does Romney expect people to believe this garbage?  Stephanopoulos should have said something like that–slightly more tactfully, of course, but emphatically.  Please read the entire disgusting thing, if you can stand it. And then cleanse your palate with this hilarious post by Sarah Proud and Tall at Balloon Juice.

Here are a few more links to get you started on your weekend reading:

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Judge throws out Walker’s union bargaining law.

LA Times: Christian charity, ex-con linked to film on Islam

BBC News: Seven dead as anti-Islam film protests widen

Danger Room: ‘Muslims’ Movie Producer Was Arrested for PCP, Snitched for Feds

Smoking Gun: Producer Of Anti-Islam Film Was Fed Snitch

Houston Chronicle: US scrambles to rush spies, drones to Libya

Don’t miss this one! Wayne Barrett at The Nation: Mitt Romney, Monsanto Man

Politico: Pennsylvania poll: Obama up by 11

ABC News: The Early Voting Factor: Mitt Better Hurry

ABC News: Jennifer Granholm, DNC Firebrand, ‘Cute’ on ’78 ‘Dating Game’

Now what are you reading and blogging about this fine Saturday morning?


Saturday Morning Reads

Good Morning!!

Yesterday was a pretty busy news day for a Friday. So if you’ve had your sugar bombs and coffee, let me fill you in on the latest before you head outside to enjoy a beautiful June day. The weather folks are saying this will be a nice weekend around the country.

Yesterday the President announced an executive order telling the Department of Homeland Security not to deport children who were brought to the U.S. illegally and have grown up here and gone to school here. These are the young people who would be eligible to stay here and have a path to citizenship under the “Dream Act” if Republicans in Congress would stop blocking the legislation.

In a move that seemed to be aimed at Hispanics whose enthusiasm for voting in the November 6 election could be crucial to Obama’s re-election chances, the president acted to potentially protect 800,000 people from deportation proceedings for at least two years.

Obama, who previously was reluctant to impose such an order even as Republicans in Congress blocked immigration reform bills he supported, called his action “the right thing to do.”

His announcement was on the 30th anniversary of a Supreme Court decision that said children of illegal-immigrant parents were entitled to public education in the United States.

Right wingers–including Mitt Romney–are of course calling the move “political,” but so what? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Politicians make political decisions. Duh! But if they’re doing the right thing, I don’t care what their motivation is. The LA Times published some basic information for people who want to know what this change means to them.

During the President’s announcement of the policy change at a press availability in the Rose Garden, a wingnut blogger from The Daily Caller, rudely broke into Obama’s speech with an offensive question. David Graham at the Atlantic:

An extremely unusual occurrence happened today as President Obama spoke at the White House. The president was offering a statement on his executive order suspending deportations for certain illegal immigrants brought here as children….when a reporter started heckling him and shouting questions.

The reporter has been identified as Neil Munro of the Daily Caller, a conservative online news outlet run by Tucker Carlson….

Interrupting the president mid-speech is considered a serious breach of etiquette, and Obama’s reaction shows how peeved (and probably taken aback) he was. Munro, and the Daily Caller, have immediately come in for harsh criticism by a wide range of journalists, including conservative ones. The problem isn’t that Munro was asking tough questions; it’s that he interrupted the commander-in-chief to ask them and in doing so guaranteed that none of the assembled press would be able to ask any serious questions — since it’s fairly clear that Munro’s query was intended as provocation.

I have video of the confrontation, but youtube seems to be down at the moment. I’ll put it up again later if I can. Munro yelled “Why do you favor foreigners over Americans?” Then when Obama responded, he proceed to argue and then yell while Obama was speaking. Pretty unprofessional for a so-called “journalist.”

Even Bill O’Reilly condemned the wingnut hack’s behavior, along with Fox News talkers Shep Smith and Chris Wallace.

At CNN, Dean Obeidallah says this type of behavior by wingnuts is part of an overall effort to “delegitimize” Obama’s presidency.

A reporter from a right-wing media outlet heckled President Obama — not once, but twice — on Friday as he was unveiling a new immigration policy. If this shocks you, you haven’t been paying attention. This is simply the latest page from the right’s playbook to delegitimize Barack Obama’s presidency.

Some may dismiss it as an isolated incident, but it’s not. It goes much deeper. Believe me, I know hecklers — I’m a stand-up comedian. If someone heckles me once, it can be a mistake: too many drinks, overcome by emotion, etc. But when you heckle twice, you have an agenda.

BTW, Munro is an Irish immigrant. So what is his problem?

A quick perusal of Munro’s Twitter feed reveals he does not hide his contempt for President Obama. His tweets range from claims that Obama is using NASCAR and country music to attract “white non-college voters,” to slams of Michelle Obama, to allegations that Obama is racially discriminating against blacks in his White House hiring practices.

But this is all not about Munro — he is just a small cog in the right’s campaign to diminish the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency. I’m not talking about people disagreeing with policies. I mean specifically the campaign to paint Barack Obama as less than American — as an “other”–as someone whose presidency is not entitled to the same respect as that of the presidents who came before him.

OK, maybe I’m spending too much time on this, but I guess I’m a bit old fashioned. I believe in respecting the office of the President. I think it’s very important for the White House press corps to behave respectfully, while at the same time asking tough questions. In this case, Munro’s behavior led to the press conference being cut off before more responsible reporters could ask questions.

I have some other news for you, and I’ll give it to you quickly so you can get out an enjoy your day.

The send-off for Mitt Romney’s bus tour of “small-town America” was overshadowed by Obama’s announcement.

After weeks of gaining momentum amid a spate of bad economic news that has shaken Obama’s reelection campaign, Romney was faced with a classic demonstration of how the White House can use its power to reset the agenda.

For hours, Romney tried to ignore the news. Finally, after a rally here with a ragtime band playing “Yankee Doodle Dandy” in a town-square gazebo, Romney made a statement that struck a radically different tone from the hard-line approach he took on illegal immigration during the Republican primaries.

“I believe the status of young people who come here through no fault of their own is an important matter to be considered and should be solved on a long-term basis so they know what their future would be in this country,” he told reporters outside of his campaign bus.

“I think the action that the president took today makes it more difficult to reach that long-term solution, because an executive order is of course just a short-term matter. It could be reversed by subsequent presidents. I’d like to see legislation that deals with this issue.”

But he made no commitment to supporting any particular option.

Of course not. Just more meaningless huffing and puffing from an old stuffed suit.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg expects “sharp disagreement” in the Supreme Court over the Affordable Care Act.

The LA Times reports: Egypt revolution losing steam as military asserts power

Germany could be in trouble if Greece opts out of the Euro.

Why can’t the Euro nations agree on a plan? In Germany, the situation is being compared to Titanic, one of the greatest disasters in history.

Since Euro Zone is like the Titanic heading for an iceberg called Greece, there’s plenty of concern on the first-class deck called Germany. If Greece goes down, it can take even Europe’s biggest economy with it.

“I believe Europe is right in a crossroads right now,” Gerhard Hofmann, director of the German Cooperative Bank Group, told CBS News.

How the shock waves will hit the U.S. if it happens.

The NYT says Obama is “looking to Merkel” for aid and comfort.

A collapse of the euro could derail America’s fragile recovery and doom Mr. Obama’s re-election hopes. So the president finds himself in the strange position of having forged a relationship with Ms. Merkel that is perhaps the best he has with any foreign leader, but that has not yet resulted in the chancellor’s agreeing to what Mr. Obama thinks must be done in Europe: an American-style bailout and fiscal stimulus.

Mr. Obama and Ms. Merkel will meet again Monday at a Group of 20 summit meeting in Mexico, with the stakes for Europe even higher than they were last month. With Greece holding elections on Sunday that could precipitate its exit from the European currency union — the nightmare feared by the financial markets — Mr. Obama may be running out of time to make his case.

And there is no indication Ms. Merkel is any more inclined to heed his advice. In a speech to the German Parliament on Thursday, she said the world should not expect Berlin to be Europe’s savior, rejecting calls to create euro bonds to share the debt burden of the Mediterranean countries.

Boy is she ever stubborn. And she seems determined to bring the entire world economy crashing down. Mitt Romney must love her.

A new study suggests that Gay Men Have Evolutionary Benefit For Their Families.

Henry Hill with Goodfellas star Ray Liotta

Finally, Henry Hill has died. He was the “wise guy” who was the inspiration for Martin Scorcese’s “Goodfellas.” Hill was only 69, and died from health problems related to smoking.

Henry Hill, the infamous mob informant whose life of crime was chronicled in the film classic “GoodFellas,” was the first to admit that he did “a lot of bad things back then.”

“I shot at people. I busted a lot of heads, and I buried a lot of bodies,” he told the London-based Daily Telegraph in 2010. “You can try to justify it by saying they deserved it, that they had it coming, but some just got whacked for absolutely no reason at all.”

….

Henry Hill, the infamous mob informant whose life of crime was chronicled in the film classic “GoodFellas,” was the first to admit that he did “a lot of bad things back then.”

“I shot at people. I busted a lot of heads, and I buried a lot of bodies,” he told the London-based Daily Telegraph in 2010. “You can try to justify it by saying they deserved it, that they had it coming, but some just got whacked for absolutely no reason at all.”

RIP, Henry.

Have a fabulous Saturday, and if you’re reading anything interesting today, please share!


Wednesday Reads: Welsh Language and Women’s Rights? What do they have in common?

Where's Alice going? Down to the back alley to score some birth control!

Good Morning

Still feeling the effects of the “lady parts” weekend from hell…so this post is going to be short and not so sweet.

I’ll just tell you now, the commentary is on the thin side.

Here are some world news items to get you caught up:

Iran Expected to Announce Advances in Nuclear Program – NYTimes.com

Iran signaled on Tuesday that it had made further advances in the country’s disputed nuclear energy program, announcing that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would reveal “key nuclear achievements” on Wednesday. An Iranian news agency said he was likely to proclaim that a new uranium enrichment plant built inside a mountain near the holy city of Qum was “fully operational.”

The announcement appeared timed to convey the defiant message that the increasingly harsh Western economic sanctions imposed on Iran were having no effect on the government’s determination to proceed with its nuclear program. The United States, Europe and Israel have all called the program a cover for Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons capability, an accusation that Iran denies.

The new plant is called Frodo…oops, sorry that is Fordo. Yes I know it is nothing to joke about but when I first read this article, in my Lortab induced haze, after reading the third paragraph, I just kept thinking about an army of Hobbits up against the dark lord Ahmadinejad. (Wait, I am so out of it tonight. Dark lord was in Harry Potter. The Eye commands the Middle Earth axis of evil.)

Moving on to Egypt.

After Egypt revolution, women’s taste of equality fades – latimes.com

Bothaina Kamel, a candidate for Egyptian president, campaigns in Cairo.

Bothaina Kamel, a candidate for Egyptian president, campaigns in Cairo last summer. “Some people have come up to me and asked, ‘Is it even legal for a woman to run?’ I hope to set a trend, to open a door,” she says. (Filippo Baciocchi / Rex Features / July 31, 2011)

Bothaina Kamel is a novelty and a provocation in a single breath. The only woman running for Egypt’s presidency, she travels without an entourage, wears a bracelet that says “Make poverty history,” can outlast the most exasperating heckler in the crowd, and has no chance of winning.

“I want to create culture shock. Yes, a woman is running for president,” says Kamel, a television presenter and ex-wife of a former cultural minister. “Some people have come up to me and asked, ‘Is it even legal for a woman to run?’ I hope to set a trend, to open a door. A girl sent me a Twitter: ‘You have given us a chance to dream.'”

Kamel campaigns often in Tahrir Square. It represents, she says, the spirit of what Egypt could be. But the farther one travels from Tahrir Square, the more the revolutionary fervor that overthrew Hosni Mubarak fades. Much of the country is tired. People want to fold away the epic of last year and get on with the business of life, no matter how imperfect, with soldiers in the streets and women far from the chambers of power.

The article then goes on to mention the virginity test given to women who were arrested in the protest last year. Which reminds me of the war we have on women here in the US. But I will talk about that crap later in the post.

Over in Wales:

Welsh language ‘is dying out’ – This Britain – UK – The Independent

 The number of fluent Welsh speakers is dropping by around 3,000 people every year.

A report by the Welsh Language Board found that the number of people learning the language was not keeping pace with the 6,500 speakers who die each year and the 5,200 who move away from Wales.
About 300,000 people say they speak Welsh fluently.

So in answer to the question I posed in the title of today’s post…

Welsh Language and Women’s Rights, what do they have in common?

They are both on the verge of dying out. One from people not keeping up with learning the language, and the other…well, one could argue we really never had fully experienced Women’s Rights here in the US…and the way the GOP war on women is going we never will.

Reid to Allow Vote on Rescinding Contraception Rule – Maggie Fox – NationalJournal.com

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., relented on Tuesday and now says he’ll allow a Senate vote on an amendment that would reverse the White House’s controversial requirement that all insurers provide birth control free of charge to women. The proposal put forward last week by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., would exempt employers from providing any care they find immoral.

It’s unlikely to pass the Senate, and Reid blocked the vote last week. But he gave in on Tuesday, providing a potential opportunity for his fellow Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska (a cosponsor of Blunt’s amendment), Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia to go on the record with their opposition to the contraception mandate.

Blunt says his proposal is about the constitutional right to freedom of religion. Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said it would give businesses and corporations veto power over their employee’s health care decisions. “It’s clear that this is not about religious freedom, since the Blunt proposal would allow any business or corporation to deny any essential health care service they object to,” Richards said in a statement.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said Blunt’s proposal could lead to effects far beyond contraception. “If I believe that prayer should cure all disease, that’s my belief, and I’m an employer, I can deny coverage for any life-saving intervention,” Boxer said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The article mentions the newly Formed Coalition to Protect Women’s Health Care, which Planned Parenthood is one of the members. More about this group here:

Women’s health advocates form coalition to protect birth control – The Hill’s Healthwatch

Twenty-eight health advocacy organizations banded together Friday to launch a coalition dedicated to preserving women’s access to birth control in the wake of strong pushback against the Obama administration’s coverage mandate.

The Coalition to Protect Women’s Health Care launched a website and Facebook and Twitter accounts where advocates can pledge their support.

The group aims to turn critics’ religious freedom argument on its head by arguing that employers should not be allowed to impose their religious beliefs on their employees by restricting their healthcare coverage.

Here is the link to their website: Coalition to Protect Women’s Health Care

And here are a few more updates on the latest news in the War on Women…

Battle of the Vaginal Blockade

Obama Shift on Contraception Splits Catholics – NYTimes.com

The near-unified front led by the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops to oppose a mandate for employers to cover birth control has now crumbled amid the compromise plan that the Obama administration offered last week to accommodate religious institutions.

Nothing really new in that NYT article, but there’s the link anyway.

Now, this next article is one I urge you to read in full:

Cagle Post » 10 Facts About Contraception Everyone Should Know

A few years ago at a book signing with fellow Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shared an anecdote about the sometimes strange experience of being a woman in the still predominantly man’s world known as Congress. She recalled how early in her career she and another female elected official found themselves as the only women regularly dining at a table full of male elected officials. The men rarely acknowledged their female counterparts, or asked their opinion on any political or policy issue. But one day the subject turned to childbirth. Being that she and the other female official were the only two real authorities on the subject (since they were the only two at the table who had actually given birth), Pelosi presumed this would present an opportunity for their voices to be heard and valued by their male colleagues. Imagine her surprise when two of the men began speaking over one another to share their stories of “being there” for the birth of their children, before moving on to another topic before the women ever had a chance to speak.

I remember chuckling — along with the other women in the room — at how silly men in power used to behave and being relieved that things have changed so much.

Apparently we laughed too soon.

Be sure to check it out.

Now, this next link does not involve the Battle of the Vaginal Blockade…Hmmm, lets call this particular battle being fought in Virginia…

The Battle of Virginia is for Lovers*

*…as long as you are only “loving” for procreation purposes.

Anti-abortion personhood bill advances in Virginia | Reuters


Virginia lawmakers took a step toward outlawing abortion on Tuesday by approving “personhood” legislation that grants individual rights to an embryo from the moment of conception.

The Republican-controlled House of Delegates voted 66-32 in favor of defining the word person under state law to include unborn children “from the moment of conception until birth at every stage of biological development.”

The measure now heads to the Senate, which is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats but with Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling wielding the tie-breaking vote.

Republican Delegate Bob Marshall, an abortion opponent who introduced the legislation, said the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the United States would not have been rendered if Texas state law had regarded the unborn as a person “in the full sense.”

“So this is a first step, a necessary step, but it’s not sufficient to directly challenge Roe,” Marshall said in a phone interview.

Reuters goes on to point out that this Personhood bill differs from the one in Mississippi. Sigh…

Personally I think they are both bad news…because no matter how bad the player is, eventually if he keeps slugging away he is going to hit the ball at least once.

And lastly…when I told my dad about the Creation Museum in Kentucky, you know the one with the English Saddles on the Dinosaurs? He thought I was full of it. Well:  5 Right-Wing Governors Gutting Schools to Fund Prisons, Tax Breaks for the Rich…And a Bible Theme Park | | AlterNet

When state after state slashes education dollars, we see what matters to them–and where they spend while cutting schools tells us even more.

It’s budget time again, and with the economy still in rough shape, that means it’s time for governors to show where their priorities are.

It’s probably not surprising that right-wing governors claim they can’t fund education properly when revenues are low—we’ve been seeing this happen for years, even before an actual economic crisis knocked states sideways. But cutting funds to schools isn’t the only option for states even if they do have to balance their budgets. There are many other places to cut—and of course, they have the option of raising taxes, something the conservative crowd simply refuses to do.

Like any other choice made by a politician, budgeting is a decision laced with ideology. When state after state slashes education dollars (and often at the same time funnels more of the money they do spend to private companies running charter schools, or gives it away as vouchers) we see what matters to them. And when you take a look at the programs that get funded, or the people who get fat tax cuts as money is drained out of the schools, well, you see what matters to state governments.

Here’s a look at five of the governors taking money away from their states’ kids, and a look at some of the things they are still funding.

Go and read what is being cut…I just will quote my favorite <snark> one:

5. Kentucky

Just to note that it’s not just Republicans who cut education dollars and spend on ridiculous things instead—Kentucky governor Steve Beshear is a Democrat, albeit one who brags on his official Web site about “trimming the state workforce” and “reforming” child welfare. Yet his budget offered up a 6.4 percent cut to higher ed and a decrease in funds to K-12 students as well.

But that’s not the best part. Travis Waldron at ThinkProgress explained that the governor did preserve a $43 million tax break for a “Bible-themed amusement park — which will include a 500-foot by 75-foot reproduction of Noah’s Ark,” as well as $11 million in spending on the highway interchange that will be near the park.

Waldron pointed out, “…lawmakers could jeopardize Kentucky’s substantial gains in K-12 education and ensure ballooning tuition rates at its colleges and universities, all while they preserve tax breaks for what critics have dubbed the “Ark Park.”

Assholes…

That is all for me this morning, catch you all later in the comments…Ciao!

I have to add this! Jon Stewart…hell yeah!

Jon Stewart Destroys Fox’s Liz Trotta Over Comments On Military Women Who Are ‘Raped Too Much’ | Mediaite

Santorum, as regular readers are likely aware, has qualms about women participating in front-line combat because he fears that men will feel emotionally compelled to “protect” their female colleagues, even at the risk of the mission at hand.

And then, well. And then there’s Liz Trotta.

RELATED: Fox Pundit On Sexual Assault On Women In The Military: “What Did They Expect?”

Her reaction to news that instances of violent sexual assault in the military have increased by 64 percent since 2006? “What did they expect?”

“You know the old saying,” Stewart said. “You can’t make a coed omelet without raping a few eggs.”

Trotta also took issue with “feminists’” insistence that, say, victims’ advocates be made available for those women who are “raped too much.”

“Are you not horrortained?” Stewart asked. Are you not?

So which is it — men are going to protect ladies, or rape them “too much”?

And another link at last minute, this one h/t Pat Johnson:
The GOP Farm Team Brings the Wingnut Once More – Esquire

Enjoy…


Saturday Reads: Obama’s War on Old People, Solyndra-gate, and Violent Protest in Cairo

Good Morning!!

Things are getting so bad for President Obama that I almost feel sorry for him. The reactions to his speech last night are still coming in, and they aren’t all that great. Sure Krugman tried to sound a little enthusiastic, but he ended up damning Obama’s jobs plan with faint praise.

O.K., about the Obama plan: It calls for about $200 billion in new spending — much of it on things we need in any case, like school repair, transportation networks, and avoiding teacher layoffs — and $240 billion in tax cuts. That may sound like a lot, but it actually isn’t. The lingering effects of the housing bust and the overhang of household debt from the bubble years are creating a roughly $1 trillion per year hole in the U.S. economy, and this plan — which wouldn’t deliver all its benefits in the first year — would fill only part of that hole. And it’s unclear, in particular, how effective the tax cuts would be at boosting spending.

Still, the plan would be a lot better than nothing, and some of its measures, which are specifically aimed at providing incentives for hiring, might produce relatively a large employment bang for the buck. As I said, it’s much bolder and better than I expected. President Obama’s hair may not be on fire, but it’s definitely smoking; clearly and gratifyingly, he does grasp how desperate the jobs situation is.

But his plan isn’t likely to become law, thanks to Republican opposition.

Robert Reich applauded the President’s “passion,” but not the plan itself. Reich’s reaction to the Jobs plan:

$450 billion sounds like a lot – and is more than I expected — but some of this merely extends current spending (unemployment benefits) and tax cuts (in Social Security taxes), so it doesn’t add to aggregate demand.

The net new boost to the economy is closer to $300 billion. That doesn’t approach even half the gap between what the economy is now producing and what it could produce at or near full employment.

And much that $300 billion is in the form of temporary tax cuts to individuals and companies. Some of these make sense — enlarging the Social Security tax cut, extending it to employers, and giving small businesses a tax holiday for new hires.

But temporary tax cuts haven’t proven to be particularly effective in stimulating new spending in times of economic stress. People tend to use them to pay off debts or increase savings. Companies use them to reduce costs, but they won’t make additional hires unless they expect additional sales – which won’t occur unless consumers increase their spending.

That leaves some $140 billion for infrastructure – improving outworn school buildings, roads, bridges, ports, and so on. And $35 billion to help cash-starved states avoid more layoffs teachers. Both good and important but still small relative to the overall need.

Just exactly what Dakinikat has been telling us forever. And when The New York Times talked to employers about the plan, most said the tax cuts and credits would be welcome but would not stimulate new hiring until there is consumer demand for their goods and services. Again, exactly what we’ve been hearing from Dakinikat all along.

The saddest article I have seen about Obama’s jobs speech is Dana Millbank’s column from yesterday: The irrelevancy of the Obama presidency. According to Millbank, Congressional Republicans treated the speech as “a big, fat joke.”

“You should pass this jobs plan right away!” Obama exhorted. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) chuckled.

“Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — an outrage he has asked us to fix,” Obama went on. Widespread laughter broke out on the GOP side of the aisle.

“This isn’t political grandstanding,” Obama said. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) guffawed.

“This isn’t class warfare,” Obama said. More hysterics on the right.

“We’ve identified over 500 [regulatory] reforms, which will save billions of dollars,” the president claimed. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) giggled.

And according to Millbank, Democrats weren’t all that thrilled either.

In fact, the empty seats were on the Democratic side. Democrats lumbered to their feet to give the president several standing ovations, but they struggled at times to demonstrate enthusiasm. When Obama proposed payroll tax cuts for small businesses, three Democrats stood to applaud. Summer jobs for disadvantaged youth brought six Democrats to their feet, and a tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed produced 11 standees….Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Ill.) stared at the ceiling. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) scanned the gallery. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) was seen reading a newspaper.

Before the speech, Joe Biden actually discussed golf with John Boehner! I really think this President is done. I suppose a miracle could happen and something could stop the train wreck, but I can’t imagine what it would be.

Maybe Obama should read Joe Conason’s article about how Rick Perry tried to privatize Medicaid in Texas and ended up “wasting millions and enriching lobbyists and hedge funds. Oh wait — maybe not. I think that’s probably what Obama wants to do with Social Security and Medicare.

Another problem facing Obama is the Solyndra Energy bankruptcy and investigation. As I wrote a few days ago, Solyndra is a solar energy company which received $535 million in federal loans from Obama’s stimulus plan. Many observers, including the CBO, questioned whether the loan was too risky, but the White House may have intervened to make sure it happened. One of Obama’s biggest donors, George Kaiser owns more than 30% of Solyndra. For some time, Republicans in the House have been asking for an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the loan, especially since the company went bankrupt last week. Now, in a new development the FBI raided Solyndra’s headquarters and today visited the homes of its corporate officers.

From Bloomberg:

An FBI raid on Solyndra Inc., a solar-panel maker that failed after receiving a $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department, may signal the escalation of a probe into the Obama administration’s clean- energy program.

Agents for Energy Department Inspector General Gregory Friedman, who has called the department’s clean-energy loan program lacking in “transparency and accountability,” joined in the search yesterday at the Fremont, California, headquarters of Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 6.

Republicans critical of the program stepped up their attacks following the raid, and two House Democrats questioned the integrity of the company, indicating a potential political crisis for the president. A foundation headed by an Obama campaign contributor was a principal investor in Solyndra….

Friedman, a watchdog within the Energy Department, said in a March report that a lack of adequate documentation for loans “leaves the department open to criticism that it may have exposed the taxpayers to unacceptable risks associated with these borrowers.”

From the Wall Street Journal

The Federal Bureau of Investigation continued its probe into solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC on Friday by visiting the homes of President and Chief Executive Brian Harrison, as well as former executives and co-founders Chris Gronet and J. Kelly Truman, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this week, is the target of an investigation into whether executives knowingly misled the Department of Energy to secure a $527 million loan guarantee, The Wall Street Journal reported. On Thursday, the FBI seized documents and computers from Solyndra’s headquarters in Fremont, Calif.

Harrison’s home wasn’t searched on Friday, but he was questioned, according to one person with knowledge of the matter. Harrison, who joined the company in 2010, after the loan was awarded, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Gronet, Solyndra’s former CEO, didn’t respond to requests for comment. Truman, a former senior vice president at Solyndra, is currently president and chief executive of energy storage developer Deeya Energy. A person answering the phone at Deeya said, “He is not taking phone calls.”

I guess it’s a good thing for Obama that we suddenly heard about a terror threat yesterday, huh?

In other, completely unrelated news, a protest by thousands of people in Cairo “turned violent” yesterday.

A demonstration that brought tens of thousands to this city’s central Tahrir Square turned violent on Friday, when thousands of people — led by a heavy contingent of soccer fans — tore down a protective wall around the Israeli Embassy, while others defaced the headquarters of the Egyptian Interior Ministry.

About 200 people were injured in clashes with the police at the Israeli Embassy and 31 were injured near the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Health said late Friday night. Protesters apparently had scaled the walls of the Israeli Embassy to tear down its flag.

Mustafa el Sayed, 28, said he had been among about 20 protesters who broke into the embassy. He showed a reporter video from a cellphone, of protesters rummaging through papers and ransacking an office, and he said they had briefly beaten up an Israeli employee they found inside, before Egyptian soldiers stopped them. He said the soldiers removed the protesters from the building, but let them go free.

By 11:30 p.m., about 50 trucks had arrived with Egyptian riot police officers, who filled the surrounding streets with tear gas. Witnesses said that protesters had set a kiosk on fire in front of a security building near the embassy, and that the police had fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd from both buildings. In addition, a fire broke out in the basement of the Interior Ministry, but it appeared to have been started from the inside and not by the protesters surrounding the building. The fire was in a room believed to store criminal records.