Sunday Reads: Lost cities…ancient and contemporary

A child is rescued from a building in Kesennuma, north-eastern Japan. Photograph: AP/Kyodo News

It’s Sunday morning, Minx here, and let me just say this….What a week!  The Japanese earthquake and tsunami are dominating the news cycle, with stories of rescues and loss. It is very upsetting to see some of these images.  It brings back memories of the tsunami of 2004. There is a lot to cover, so let’s get to it shall we?

Japan mourns amid fears quake toll could run into many thousands | World news |

The full horror of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan is starting to emerge amid fears that the death toll could run into many thousands. A day of high tension saw workers battle to save a nuclear plant from meltdown and 50,000 rescuers fight their way to victims in the midst of mud, flood waters, collapsed buildings and continuing blazes.

It looks like a nuclear disaster may just add to the destruction and misery. Japanese nuclear plants’ operator scrambles to avert meltdowns

Japanese authorities said Sunday that efforts to restart the cooling system at one of the nuclear reactors damaged by Friday’s earthquake had failed, even as officials struggled to bring several other damaged reactors under control.

More technical information here at the World Nuclear News website:  Battle to stabilise earthquake reactors

Attention remains focused on the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants as Japan struggles to cope in the aftermath of its worst earthquake in recorded history. A dramatic explosion did not damage containment and sea water injection continues through the night.

Three of Fukushima Daiichi’s six reactors were in operation when yesterday’s quake hit, at which point they shut down automatically and commenced removal of residual heat with the help of emergency diesel generators. These suddenly stopped about an hour later, and this has been put down to tsunami flooding by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

There is an easier explanation of exactly how these nuclear reactors work, and helpful images showing what a “meltdown” really is. I mean, we all aren’t nuclear scientist, right? Japan Nuclear Watch: Struggling to Prevent and Limit Meltdowns | MyFDL and here: Japanese Nuclear Watch Update – One Meltdown, Another Probable, Large Evacuations Ordered | MyFDL

Earlier this week I mentioned the city of Juarez, Mexico and the femicide that has been ongoing. Some sad news to relate once again. American Professor Kidnapped in Mexican Border City – There is a good picture on the Fox Site, but for more information look to the Daily Mail: American professor kidnapped at gunpoint as visits her mother in Mexican border city | Mail Online

An American university professor has been kidnapped in a violent Mexican border city by a group of armed men.

Veronica Perez Rodriguez was snatched by the gunmen in Ciudad Juarez after visiting her mother, who lives there, on Friday afternoon.

The archaeologist has been an associate professor of anthropology at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona since 2003.

A source at the Chihuahua state prosecutor’s office said: ‘The moment she left her family’s house she was intercepted by armed men and deprived of her liberty.’

Horrible, I can only hope that she gets away from these “armed men” but the sad reality is she probably won’t.  The Silencing of Women’ Voices – Salem-News.Com

On the second Tuesday in March; International Women’s Day 2011, the voices of many prominent human rights defenders will be absent from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Within the past 14 months, human rights campaigner Josefina Reyes, poet Susana Chavez and activist mother Marisela Escobedo all have been murdered, while Cipriana Jurado of the Worker Solidarity and Research Center and Paula Flores have been forced to flee the city.

Eva Arce, another well-known women’s activist, has been the target of previous attacks and threats, and Malu Garcia, a founder of the anti-femicide organization May Our Daughters Return Home, had her house set on fire last month.

Paula Flores, whose young daughter Sagrario Gonzalez was abducted and murdered in 1998, not only was a strong advocate for relatives of femicide victims, but a community organizer who worked to keep young people out of the cycle of crime and violence in the low-income Lomas de Poleo section of the border city.

“The murders of human rights activists show that public space can’t be used,” asserted Dr. Julia Monarrez Fragoso, researcher and director of El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF) in Ciudad Juarez. “You can’t raise your voice and those that do are ‘deserving’ of their deaths.”


For nearly a decade, Amigos de las Mujeres has worked in support of relatives of femicide victims in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua. And like many advocates on both sides the border, group members have observed violence against women and their advocates in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua spiral upward with no let-up in sight.

According to a new report from COLEF, at least 1,192 women have been murdered in Ciudad Juarez since 1993, with 442 of the homicides occurring in the 12-year period from 1993 to 2005 when the city become known internationally for the crimes committed against women.

At what point will these women’s murderers be held accountable? Let’s see what is done about Veronica. I hope that Hillary Clinton will mention her plight and shed some attention on this disturbing and upsetting hot spot of violence against women.

For an update on the Wisconsin 14: Missing Wisconsin Lawmakers Return –

They are the unlikeliest of folk heroes. But this group of once-obscure lawmakers — a dairy farmer, a lawyer and a woman who is seven months pregnant, among others — that fled this capital nearly a month ago, returned Saturday to the cheers of tens of thousands who once again packed the streets in protest.

Many in the crowd wore buttons or held signs bearing admiring nicknames for the group: the “Fighting 14,” the “Fab 14” or, simply, “the Wisconsin 14.” They chanted, “Thank you” and “Welcome home.”

There are some real great pictures on this link, be sure to check it out.

Earlier this week Obama dodged a question by Jake Tapper, we discussed his pathetic response here on Sky Dancing. I just wanted to share this link here: This shameful abuse of Bradley Manning | Daniel Ellsberg | Comment is free |

President Obama tells us that he’s asked the Pentagon whether the conditions of confinement of Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with leaking state secrets, “are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are.”

If Obama believes that, he’ll believe anything. I would hope he would know better than to ask the perpetrators whether they’ve been behaving appropriately. I can just hear President Nixon saying to a press conference the same thing: “I was assured by the the White House Plumbers that their burglary of the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s doctor in Los Angeles was appropriate and met basic standards.”
When that criminal behaviour ordered from the Oval Office came out, Nixon faced impeachment and had to resign. Well, times have changed. But if President Obama really doesn’t yet know the actual conditions of Manning’s detention – if he really believes, as he’s said, that “some of this [nudity, isolation, harassment, sleep-deprivation] has to do with Private Manning’s wellbeing”, despite the contrary judgments of the prison psychologist – then he’s being lied to, and he needs to get a grip on his administration.
If he does know, and agrees that it’s appropriate or even legal, that doesn’t speak well for his memory of the courses he taught on constitutional law.

I think that Ellsberg comments are spot on, Obama knows exactly what he is doing with Manning. Just carrying on the Bush tradition, don’t ya think?

Minx’s Missing Link of the Week: With all the news about entire towns being wiped out by the tsunami in Japan this week, I thought this new discovery was real timely. Have scientists found Atlantis? | The Raw Story

A U.S.-led research team may have finally located the lost city of Atlantis, the legendary metropolis believed swamped by a tsunami thousands of years ago in mud flats in southern Spain.
“This is the power of tsunamis,” head researcher Richard Freund told Reuters.
To solve the age-old mystery, the team used a satellite photo of a suspected submerged city to find the site just north of Cadiz, Spain. There, buried in the vast marshlands of the Dona Ana Park, they believe that they pinpointed the ancient, multi-ringed dominion known as Atlantis.

There will be a new National Geographic show on tonight, Sunday, March 13, at 9 p.m. ET, that will explain more about it. Finding Atlantis | National Geographic Channel

Forget the health police for once and tuck into Hugh's yummy churros. Hot chocolate essential... Photograph: Colin Campbell for the Guardian

Easy Like Sunday Morning: There is nothing better than food that is deep fried, am I right? So for your easy like Sunday morning link, here is some of that deep fried goodness. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s deep-fried delights recipes | Life and style | The Guardian

Fried food has had a bad rap. To hear some, you’d think the frying pan was the source of all earthly evils – or at least dietary problems. And if you can get past that, there are those who fear they can’t rustle up a plate of chips without setting fire to the house. Today, I’m flying in the face of fears and fashion – and giving you my favourite deep-fried treats. I don’t advocate you eat them every day, but once in a while the lure of a crisp, golden coating is too strong to resist.

We have a regular fry fest on a weekly basis at my house, got to love those Fry Daddies. Check out the link above, there are some recipes that certainly got my mouth watering. Which I must admit…eventually leads to my ass widening.

What are you reading today? Any recipes for deep-fried goodies you would like to share? Comments are below, look forward to reading about what you are thinking…

Wednesday Reads, Wisdom indeed…

Morning everyone, Minx here and I have some morning reads to get y’all thinking. Many are dealing with women’s issues, so I hope that you spend some time reading the links.  March has been quite a wet month for us in Banjoland, I love the sound of fat rain drops hitting the tin roof.  I think spring is on the way…With all the revolts in MENA, I wonder if it will get worse when the temperatures really start to rise? If you missed the last few post from Dakinikat and Wonk the Vote, be sure you check them out. Dak brings up the subject of Welfare State in Jesusland and Wonk discusses the violence seen in Egypt’s Million Woman March. Such sad state of affairs…

Anyway, let’s get on with it shall we?

Below is a video taken on the Lybian Tunisian border where people fleeing Gaddafi and his violence are gathering.

As the world marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, euronews went to the Libyan-Tunisian border to meet some of the female migrants who are fleeing the violence in Libya.

If you missed the news about the refugees check out this link from March 4th: Refugees airlifted from Tunisia – Africa – Al Jazeera English

In other Libyan news, it looks like “crazy-ass” Gaddafi  has some worried he will completely loose it, and blow the oil and gas complexes to smithereens. I could see him doing this, couldn’t you? I wonder if the bookies are taking any bets as to whether Muammar will go out in “Gaddafi” style.

Libya oil tanks seen as ‘time bomb’ – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

For now, opposition forces control this and virtually every other natural energy facility in the country.

But as this conflict wears on, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi will need oil. He will have to try and take it by force or, as many fear, he could bomb oil and gas complexes to prevent anyone else from using them

“ We expect that he will destroy everything because he is crazy,” Fahad Kheri, superintendent in Libya’s oil and gas Industry, told Al Jazeera.

The installation is only a few hundred kilometres away from Gadaffi’s hometown and stronghold of Sirte.

Al Jazeera has found that the frontlines are fluid and that the rebel fighters lack organisation. As a result, the natural gas plant here is a potential time bomb waiting to go off.

In Yemen, it looks like President Ali Abdullah Saleh is channeling Gaddafi, by attacking his own people as they protest his rule.

Yemeni army fires at student protesters, wounding 98 –

The Yemeni government escalated its efforts to stop mass protests calling for the president’s ouster on Tuesday, with soldiers firing rubber bullets and tear gas at students camped at a university in the capital in a raid that left at least 98 people wounded, officials said.

The army stormed the Sanaa University campus hours after thousands of inmates rioted at the central prison in the capital, taking a dozen guards hostage and calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. At least one prisoner was killed and 80 people were wounded as the guards fought to control the situation, police said.

Update: Yemen protester dies after police attack – hospital | World | Reuters

In Egypt Tuesday, celebrations for International Women’s Day turned into a disappointing display of the anti-woman sentiment that is inherit in male dominate societies. I’ve already linked to Wonk’s post on this from last night. Be sure and take the time to read the comments too, Wonk added some links and quotes to update her post.

Barry Lando has some thoughts on the first Bush to be a resident in the White House. I am talking about George H.W. Bush, and the legacy he left after we got Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in the Persian Gulf War.

Barry Lando: When America Left Arab Rebels to the Slaughter – Truthdig

As the standoff in Libya takes on the potential of a bloody civil war, President Barack Obama is forced to consider possible U.S. intervention—at the very least, the enforcement of a no-fly zone. He has ordered his staff to examine how his predecessors handled such situations. One of the most frequently mentioned: how George H.W. Bush dealt with the Shiite and Kurd uprisings in Iraq in 1991, after U.S. forces drove Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait.

But, rather than being an exemplary use of American power, that whole affair was a disgraceful episode that reverberates to this day. What actually happened was that an American president called for an uprising against a brutal Arab dictator, then turned his back, leaving tens, possibly hundreds of thousands to be slaughtered. I recounted that sorry affair in a documentary, “The Trial of Saddam Hussein,” excerpted on YouTube. (See Part 5 and Part 6.)


When it looked as if the insurgents might actually succeed, the American president turned his back. The White House and its allies wanted Saddam replaced not by a popular revolt which they couldn’t control but by a military leader more amenable to U.S. interests. They were also fearful that Iranian influence might spread in the wake of a Shiite takeover. In fact, American officials refused to meet with rebel leaders who were not under Iran’s control and were desperate to explain their cause.

Closer to home, we have heard about the violence and murders that seem to flourish in the border towns of Mexico. In Juarez, there is another side to these drug wars, which do not get much play in our MSM. (I wonder why that is…) Women are just another casualty and it seems that many vanish…leaving grieving mothers to wonder how they can stop the Femicides from happening.

In Juarez, women just disappear – Features – Al Jazeera English

The story of young women who simply disappear is all too common in this border city, but in the last two years, gendered violence has been drawn into the broader blood pool in Mexico’s murder capital. A grisly drug war has claimed at least 7,800 lives in the city since 2008.

But femicides, or targeted attacks on women represent something different from the killings affecting all residents, activists say.

‘International shame’

The Mexican government does not keep official statistics on these femicides, says Flor Cuevas, a member of the Chihuahua State Human Rights Commission.

“There is a negative attitude from government towards the problem,” Cuevas said during an interview in her Juarez office. “Femicides must be covered up, as they are an international shame.”


When celebrity appearances and official institutions fail, mothers take a bleak view of justice in a city devouring its young women. “You can just beg,” said Malu Garcia Andrade, “that within this drug war, these killers and rapists get shot.”

All hope is lost, and the only prayer these mothers have is in fate, that these murderers and rapist will get killed by the bullets of the drug wars that are ongoing in Juarez. Sad…Sad…Sad.

We have been keeping up with the assault on women here in the US. For more on this I link to a recent post on Huffpo: Deborah Burger: The War on Women’s Health

Nationally, the U.S. Senate is likely to act this week on a decision by the House last month to bar Planned Parenthood health centers from receiving any federal funding. That would deeply cut into the broad array of health services provided by Planned Parenthood including not just abortion, but also birth control, cancer screenings, HIV and STD testing, and more.

All this week, Planned Parenthood is holding events in multiple cities to encourage people to lobby their Senators to stop this unwarranted and dangerous assault.

It looks like Deborah has giving my own state top PLUBs honors for the proposed miscarriage is murder bill that our crazy GOP state senator has drafted.

But the award for the most extreme may have to go to Georgia where state Rep. Bobby Franklin who wants to criminalize not just abortions but even miscarriages, potentially punishable by death. As Jen Phillips wrote in Mother Jones, “basically, it’s everything a ‘pro-life’ activist could want aside from making all women who’ve had abortions wear big red ‘A’s’ on their chests.”

This is the same Franklin who last year pushed legislation that would redefine rape victims as “accusers,” in an apparent attempt to generate sympathy for rapists.

I will leave you all with the final line from the Huffpo link…

…the current rightwing crusade a war not just on women’s health, but also on women’s futures.

I wonder if those GOP idiots would consider this “forcible rape?” In this case of Gang Rape of an 11 year old girl, it looks like they have at least made some arrest…Gang Rape of Schoolgirl, and Arrests, Shake Texas Town –

The police investigation began shortly after Thanksgiving, when an elementary school student alerted a teacher to a lurid cellphone video that included one of her classmates.

The video led the police to an abandoned trailer, more evidence and, eventually, to a roundup over the last month of 18 young men and teenage boys on charges of participating in the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in the abandoned trailer home, the authorities said.

Five suspects are students at Cleveland High School, including two members of the basketball team. Another is the 21-year-old son of a school board member. A few of the others have criminal records, from selling drugs to robbery and, in one case, manslaughter. The suspects range in age from middle schoolers to a 27-year-old.

18 arrested! Can you believe it? And one of them a 21 year old son of a school board member.  Check out the quote from the nurse who attended the victim.

“It’s just destroyed our community,” said Sheila Harrison, 48, a hospital worker who says she knows several of the defendants. “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”


Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.

“Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?” said Ms. Harrison, one of a handful of neighbors who would speak on the record. “How can you have an 11-year-old child missing down in the Quarters?”

The boys have to live with it the rest of their lives, what about the girl? See the attitudes of the people interviewed and the tone of the reporter/journalist who wrote it? WTF? What is wrong with these people? You can read the rest of the article to see what an ordeal this child had to go through. For more sexism and hate just look at this link: Cleveland residents still reeling after gang rape of girl, 11 | Houston & Texas News | – Houston Chronicle It is disgusting…

So what are you all reading this morning? And what do you think about the situation in Mexico? Comment section is below, hop to it.

Photo: United States Geological Survey

Okay…I couldn’t leave it on a down note, so here is one mama who has seen a lot during her 60 years…Oldest known U.S. free-flying bird hatches new chick on Midway | Reuters

The oldest known free-flying bird in the United States, a roughly 60-year-old albatross named Wisdom, hatched her latest chick weeks ago to become a mother again on Sand Island at Midway, wildlife officials reported on Tuesday.


Wisdom holds the record as the oldest wild specimen documented during the 90-year history of the U.S. and Canadian bird-banding research program.

A U.S. Geological Survey scientists first tagged the bird with an aluminum identification band when she was about 5 years old in 1956 as she was incubating an egg.

Since then, the albatross has logged about 3 million flying miles, the equivalent of six round trips to the Moon.

Wow, six round trips to the moon…just think about that. So Wisdom is a new mama, it kind of gives the rest of us a bit of hope doesn’t it? I mean if she can survive in this crazy world, then maybe things can’t be all that bad…right?

Saturday Reads: the Mona Lisa and War on Poverty edition

Photograph: Gianni Dagli Orti/Corbis

Good morning, news junkies! My Saturday offerings, hot off the presses…

On this day, January 8th, in 1962, the Mona Lisa was exhibited in Washington, marking the first time it was shown in America. From the link, which goes to the History Channel website: “Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and Andre Malraux, the French minister of culture, arranged the loan of the painting from the Louvre Museum in Paris to the United States.”

You may have caught the following story on the Mona Lisa from December, but in case you didn’t… From Tom Kington in the Guardian: Mona Lisa’s eyes may reveal model’s identity, expert claims… Silvano Vinceti claims initials – possibly the model’s – are discernible in the left eye of the iconic Da Vinci painting.” Stephen Bayley wrote a piece in the UK Telegraph on this story as well called, Mona Lisa: Leonardo was a genius, let’s leave it at that.

Another piece of historical trivia for January 8th… In 1964, LBJ declared a “War on Poverty” in the US. (Link takes you to an essay hosted on

Who has taken up the call to fight the war on poverty today? Hillary spoke of and to “invisible” Americans when she ran in 2008, but the powers-that-be railroaded her and kept her powerful voice off the domestic stage. John Edwards tainted his “Two Americas” rhetoric on poverty with his “narcissism,” as he himself characterized it. Elizabeth Edwards, who was the genuine advocate for the least of these in that power couple, is no longer with us, though she left behind a body of thoughtful writings and interviews to guide us, much in the way she wrote a journal to her children. The other Liz–Elizabeth Warren–is fighting for us, but her hands appear to be tied.

Every day of this Administration that President Obama fails to govern for the people who elected him, he instead tries to win the approval of the corporations who will never openly adore him enough for all his efforts… because nothing he does for them will ever be enough. More and more, his former supporters are coming to realize that they endorsed an empty suit in 2008, which brings me to my first newsy item. From today’s NY Times: Obama the Centrist Irks a Liberal Lion… ‘By freezing federal salaries, by talking about deficits, by extending the Bush tax cuts, he’s legitimizing a Republican narrative,’ Mr. Reich says. ‘Why won’t he tell the alternative story? For three decades we’ve cut taxes on the wealthy while real wages stood still.'”

I’ll answer Reich’s question with a question. When will the left understand that Obama fears and thus respects the Republican narrative and does not do the same when it comes to the liberal narrative? The so-called “caving” to Republicans is by design.

Bob Herbert has some good stuff covering the same ground today; I had a hunch he would:Misery With Plenty of Company…Consider the extremes. President Obama is redesigning his administration to make it even friendlier toward big business and the megabanks, which is to say the rich, who flourish no matter what is going on with the economy in this country. (They flourish even when they’re hard at work destroying the economy.) Meanwhile, we hear not a word — not so much as a peep — about the poor, whose ranks are spreading like a wildfire in a drought.”

Indeed, but I’ll get off my rantbox for now. Here are some other headlines that struck a chord with me throughout the week…

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