Posted: February 25, 2020 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Bernie Sanders, cuba, Donald Trump, Fidel Castro, South Carolina primary
I had a flu shot in January, and since then I’ve had a week-long bout a stomach flu and now I have a full-blown case of the flu. I came down with it on Saturday morning and since then I’ve had a low grade fever that comes and goes along with a hacking cough, headaches, ear pain, and muscle aches. I felt better yesterday, and my temperature was normal until late last night. Now it’s already over 100 again.
I’m really not looking forward to catching the corona virus, but according to James Hamblin at The Atlantic, we are all likely to get it eventually: You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus. Most cases are not life-threatening, which is also what makes the virus a historic challenge to contain.
Coronaviruses are similar to influenza viruses in that they are both single strands of RNA. Four coronaviruses commonly infect humans, causing colds. These are believed to have evolved in humans to maximize their own spread—which means sickening, but not killing, people. By contrast, the two prior novel coronavirus outbreaks—SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome, named for where the first outbreak occurred)—were picked up from animals, as was H5N1. These diseases were highly fatal to humans. If there were mild or asymptomatic cases, they were extremely few. Had there been more of them, the disease would have spread widely. Ultimately, SARS and MERS each killed fewer than 1,000 people.
COVID-19 is already reported to have killed more than twice that number. With its potent mix of characteristics, this virus is unlike most that capture popular attention: It is deadly, but not too deadly. It makes people sick, but not in predictable, uniquely identifiable ways. Last week, 14 Americans tested positive on a cruise ship in Japan despite feeling fine—the new virus may be most dangerous because, it seems, it may sometimes cause no symptoms at all.
Hamblin explains that this COVID-19 is likely to spread and then keep coming back every year, because it is contagious even when people have no symptoms and it doesn’t kill off most of the people who get it.
The Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch is exacting in his diction, even for an epidemiologist. Twice in our conversation he started to say something, then paused and said, “Actually, let me start again.” So it’s striking when one of the points he wanted to get exactly right was this: “I think the likely outcome is that it will ultimately not be containable.”
Containment is the first step in responding to any outbreak. In the case of COVID-19, the possibility (however implausible) of preventing a pandemic seemed to play out in a matter of days. Starting in January, China began cordoning off progressively larger areas, radiating outward from Wuhan City and eventually encapsulating some 100 million people. People were barred from leaving home, and lectured by drones if they were caught outside. Nonetheless, the virus has now been found in 24 countries….
Lipsitch predicts that, within the coming year, some 40 to 70 percent of people around the world will be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. But, he clarifies emphatically, this does not mean that all will have severe illnesses. “It’s likely that many will have mild disease, or may be asymptomatic,” he said. As with influenza, which is often life-threatening to people with chronic health conditions and of older age, most cases pass without medical care. (Overall, around 14 percent of people with influenza have no symptoms.)
Lipsitch is far from alone in his belief that this virus will continue to spread widely. The emerging consensus among epidemiologists is that the most likely outcome of this outbreak is a new seasonal disease—a fifth “endemic” coronavirus. With the other four, people are not known to develop long-lasting immunity. If this one follows suit, and if the disease continues to be as severe as it is now, “cold and flu season” could become “cold and flu and COVID-19 season.”
The New York Times: ‘Recipe for a Massive Viral Outbreak’: Iran Emerges as a Worldwide Threat.
Religious pilgrims, migrant workers, businessmen, soldiers and clerics all flow constantly across Iran’s frontiers, often crossing into countries with few border controls, weak and ineffective governments and fragile health systems.
Now, as it struggles to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Iran is also emerging as the second focal point after China for the spread of the disease. Cases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates — even one in Canada — have all been traced to Iran, sending tremors of fear rippling out from Kabul to Beirut.
The Middle East is in many ways the perfect place to spawn a pandemic, experts say, with the constant circulation of both Muslim pilgrims and itinerant workers who might carry the virus. Iran’s economy has been strangled by sanctions, its people have lost trust in their government and its leaders are isolated from much of the world, providing little clarity about the extent of the epidemic.
Civil wars or years of unrest have shattered the health systems of several neighboring countries, like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. And most of the region is governed largely by authoritarians with poor track records at providing public transparency, accountability and health services.
“It is a recipe for a massive viral outbreak,” said Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the former founding executive director of the Joint United Nations Program on H.I.V./AIDS.
An even more immediate threat is the rise of Bernie Sanders. Over the weekend Sanders used his 60 Minutes interview to defend his past support of Fidel Castro’s Cuba.
The reaction in Florida-home was swift and angry.
Marc Caputo at Politico: Florida Dems in uproar after Sanders’ Cuba comments.
Florida Democrats insist he‘s the worst-equipped [to defeat Donald Trump] after Sanders’ refusal Sunday night to thoroughly condemn the Cuban revolution. His comments on 60 Minutes sent shock waves through the nation’s biggest battleground state, where Democratic members of Congress, state legislators and party leaders warned that his nomination — and Sanders’ self-described “Democratic socialism” — will cost them the biggest battleground state of them all.
“Donald Trump wins Florida if Bernie is our nominee,” said state Rep. Javier Fernandez, a Democratic candidate in a majority-Hispanic state Senate district….
As a state with an influential cross-section of Latinos whose families fled leftist Latin American regimes and violence, Sanders embrace of far-left leaders and his past refusals to wholeheartedly condemn Latin American strongmen and the Soviet Union have long been seen as fatal flaws.
Sanders on Sunday did nothing to allay those concerns in a 60 Minutes interview in which he was asked about his 1985 comments stating that the Cuban people didn’t “rise up in rebellion against Fidel Castro” because “he educated their kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed society.”
There was no mention of the firing squads, political purges and mass arrests that accompanied the 1959 revolution.
There’s much more at the link.
At least Sanders is finally getting vetted by the media. For example, Griffe Witte at The Washington Post: In Cold War travels, Bernie Sanders found much to admire behind enemy lines. Now that’s a problem for his campaign.
The mayor of tiny Burlington, Vt., was back from Nicaragua and eager to share the good news.
The country’s Soviet-backed government — forged via armed rebellion — was cutting infant mortality, reducing illiteracy and redistributing land to peasant farmers. Its Sandinista leaders, branded terrorists by the U.S. government, impressed him with “their intelligence and their sincerity.”
Three years later, Bernie Sanders was fresh off the plane from Moscow, reveling in the beauty of the land and the contentedness of the people.
And a year after that, he returned from Cuba having tapped into a revolutionary spirit “far deeper and more profound than I understood it to be.”
With Sanders now surging to the top of the Democratic presidential field, those three-decade-old impressions introduced a volatile new element in the race Monday as rivals reacted to Sanders’s decision to defend his remarks, not disclaim them….
The fact that Sanders’s long-ago travels in the communist world have become an issue in the 2020 campaign reflects how unorthodox a choice he would be to lead the Democratic Party….
Returning home from visits to some of the United States’ most avowed enemies, Sanders offered some criticism but also plenty of praise in Vermont community television recordings. Many of the videos were kept in storage for decades — including during his 2016 campaign — and, even after being posted online, have remained relatively unknown.
Now, Sanders’s comments are coming back to life as opponents say his warm feelings toward his hosts decades ago make him vulnerable to attack and reveal a soft spot for left-wing despots.
Read the rest at the WaPo. More Bernie critiques:
Jonathan Chait: If Democrats Aren’t Terrified of Bernie, They’re Not Paying Attention.
William Saletan at Slate: The Great Socialism Gap. Socialism doesn’t freak out Democratic voters the way it freaks out other Americans. That’s a problem.
Never Trumper Michael Gerson at The Washington Post: A Trump-Sanders election would destroy our politics.
The South Carolina primary is coming up on Saturday, followed three days later by Super Tuesday. There’s another debate tonight, and I hope Elizabeth Warren will finally get up the nerve to address Sanders’ many weaknesses instead continuing to focus on Mike Bloomberg. I’m pretty sure the other candidates won’t hesitate to attack Bernie.
Natasha Korecki at Politico: Sanders under fire in South Carolina from all directions.
Joe Biden’s campaign is airing a new digital ad in South Carolina accusing Bernie Sanders of trying to undermine Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection by threatening to primary him. Pete Buttigieg was on TV in South Carolina hitting Sanders over health care and Mike Bloomberg targeted Sanders’ past gun votes.
“When it comes to building on Barack Obama’s legacy, Bernie Sanders just can’t be trusted,” the Biden ad, first obtained by POLITICO, warns.
The fusillade targeting Sanders on the eve of a Democratic debate in the fourth early state of South Carolina marked the latest turn in a Democratic primary that now has a decisive frontrunner. Each of the candidates, competing for a fraction of the moderate vote, are attempting to blunt the Vermont senator’s momentum coming off a landslide win in Nevada.
“When we rallied together to defend our president and all the progress he made they had his back,” the narrator says. Panning to then-Vice President Biden, the voice-over continues, “He had his back,” and moving to images of African American supporters at an Obama rally, says: “And you had his back.”
“But back in Washington, there was one guy with another plan,” the narrator says before an audio clip is heard of Sanders saying, “I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition.”
More at the WaPo.
Are you going to watch the debate? I might give it a try. The last one was pretty entertaining, and it would be fun to see Bernie get his ass kicked. As always, this is an open thread.
Posted: November 26, 2016 Filed under: Barack Obama, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Cuban revolution, Donald Trump, Fidel Castro, Hillary Clinton, Michigan, notable deaths, Russian interference in US election, Russian oligarchs, vote recounts, Wisconsin
Cuban-Americans celebrate upon hearing about the death of longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Fla., on Saturday.
The big news this morning is the death of Fidel Castro. From the AP via the NYT: Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Who Defied US for 50 Years, Dies at 90.
Former President Fidel Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory in Cuba, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 U.S. presidents during his half century rule, has died at age 90.
With a shaking voice, President Raul Castro said on state television that his older brother died at 10:29 p.m. Friday. He ended the announcement by shouting the revolutionary slogan: “Toward victory, always!”
Castro’s reign over the island-nation 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Florida was marked by the U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. The bearded revolutionary, who survived a crippling U.S. trade embargo as well as dozens, possibly hundreds, of assassination plots, died 10 years after ill health forced him to hand power over to Raul.
Castro overcame imprisonment at the hands of dictator Fulgencio Batista, exile in Mexico and a disastrous start to his rebellion before triumphantly riding into Havana in January 1959 to become, at age 32, the youngest leader in Latin America. For decades, he served as an inspiration and source of support to revolutionaries from Latin America to Africa.
His commitment to socialism was unwavering, though his power finally began to fade in mid-2006 when a gastrointestinal ailment forced him to hand over the presidency to Raul in 2008, provisionally at first and then permanently. His defiant image lingered long after he gave up his trademark Cohiba cigars for health reasons and his tall frame grew stooped.
“Socialism or death” remained Castro’s rallying cry even as Western-style democracy swept the globe and other communist regimes in China and Vietnam embraced capitalism, leaving this island of 11 million people an economically crippled Marxist curiosity.
The Times also has a lengthy obituary: Fidel Castro, Cuban Revolutionary Who Defied U.S., Dies at 90.
Fidel Castro, the fiery apostle of revolution who brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere in 1959 and then defied the United States for nearly half a century as Cuba’s maximum leader, bedeviling 11 American presidents and briefly pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war, died Friday. He was 90….
In declining health for several years, Mr. Castro had orchestrated what he hoped would be the continuation of his Communist revolution, stepping aside in 2006 when he was felled by a serious illness. He provisionally ceded much of his power to his younger brother Raúl, now 85, and two years later formally resigned as president. Raúl Castro, who had fought alongside Fidel Castro from the earliest days of the insurrection and remained minister of defense and his brother’s closest confidant, has ruled Cuba since then, although he has told the Cuban people he intends to resign in 2018.
Fidel Castro had held on to power longer than any other living national leader except Queen Elizabeth II. He became a towering international figure whose importance in the 20th century far exceeded what might have been expected from the head of state of a Caribbean island nation of 11 million people.
He dominated his country with strength and symbolism from the day he triumphantly entered Havana on Jan. 8, 1959, and completed his overthrow of Fulgencio Batista by delivering his first major speech in the capital before tens of thousands of admirers at the vanquished dictator’s military headquarters.
A spotlight shone on him as he swaggered and spoke with passion until dawn. Finally, white doves were released to signal Cuba’s new peace. When one landed on Mr. Castro, perching on a shoulder, the crowd erupted, chanting “Fidel! Fidel!” To the war-weary Cubans gathered there and those watching on television, it was an electrifying sign that their young, bearded guerrilla leader was destined to be their savior.
Much more at the link.
Meanwhile, we’re in the midst of a shocking revolution here at home. Our government has been essentially taken over by a hostile foreign state, and it appears that no one in power is doing anything about it. It looks like we are going to be ruled by billionaires–are we really going to allow our country to become a Russian oligarchy?
The Washington Post: Americans keep looking away from the election’s most alarming story, by Eric Chenowith.
In assessing Donald Trump’s presidential victory, Americans continue to look away from this election’s most alarming story: the successful effort by a hostile foreign power to manipulate public opinion before the vote.
U.S. intelligence agencies determined that the Russian government actively interfered in our elections. Russian state propaganda gave little doubt that this was done to support President-elect Trump, who repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin and excused the Russian president’s foreign aggression and domestic repression. Most significantly, U.S. intelligence agencies have affirmed that the Russian government directedthe illegal hacking of private email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and prominent individuals. The emails were then released by WikiLeaks, which has benefited financially from a Russian state propaganda arm, used Russian operatives for security and made clear an intent to harm the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.
From the Russian perspective, the success of this operation can hardly be overstated. News stories on the DNC emails released in July served to disrupt the Democratic National Convention, instigate political infighting and suggest for some supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — without any real proof — that the Democratic primary had been “rigged
” against their candidate. On Oct. 7, WikiLeaks began near dailydumps
from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email account, generating a month of largely negative reporting on Clinton, her campaign staff, her husband and their foundation. With some exceptions, there was little news in the email beyond political gossip and things the media had covered before, now revisited from a seemingly “hidden” viewpoint.
Russian (and former communist) propaganda has traditionally worked exactly this way: The more you “report” something negatively, the more the negative is true. Trump and supportive media outlets adopted the technique and reveled in information gained from the illegal Russian hacking (as well as many “fake news” stories that evidencesuggests
were generated by Russian intelligence operations) to make exaggerated claims (“Hillary wants to open borders to 600 million people!”) or to accuse Clinton of illegality, corruption and, ironically, treasonous behavior.
Does anyone in the Obama administration have serious concerns about this? And what about possible connections between Russia and factions in FBI? I can only hope that efforts to deal with the situation are going on behind the scenes, but it sure doesn’t seem that way. Instead, it looks like the Obama administration is focused on making things easier for Trump and his Russian oligarch pals.
NYT: U.S. Officials Defend Integrity of Vote, Despite Hacking Fears.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said on Friday that despite Russian attempts to undermine the presidential election, it has concluded that the results “accurately reflect the will of the American people.”
The statement came as liberal opponents of Donald J. Trump, some citing fears of vote hacking, are seeking recounts in three states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — where his margin of victory was extremely thin.
A drive by Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, for recounts in those states had brought in more than $5 million by midday on Friday, her campaign said, and had increased its goal to $7 million. She filed for a recount in Wisconsin on Friday, about an hour before the deadline.
In its statement, the administration said, “The Kremlin probably expected that publicity surrounding the disclosures that followed the Russian government-directed compromises of emails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations, would raise questions about the integrity of the election process that could have undermined the legitimacy of the president-elect.”
That was a reference to the breach of the Democratic National Committee’s email system, and the leak of emails from figures like John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.
“Nevertheless, we stand behind our election results, which accurately reflect the will of the American people,” it added.
I don’t get it. So President Obama really isn’t that interested in fighting for his legacy anymore? And there’s this from The Hill: Obama urged Clinton to concede on election night.
President Barack Obama called Hillary Clinton to persuade her to concede the White House on election night, according to a forthcoming book on Clinton’s defeat.
Authors Amie Parnes, The Hill’s senior White House correspondent, and Jonathan Allen cite three Clintonworld sources familiar with the election-night request in the unreleased book from Crown Publishing.
“You need to concede,” Obama told his former secretary of State as she, her family, and her top aides continued to watch results trickle in from the key Rust Belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The latter state, called after 1:30 a.m. by The Associated Press, was the clear tipping point for the White House race, ensuring Trump would crest over the 270 electoral-vote threshold needed to win.
Clinton ultimately heeded Obama’s advice and called Trump to acknowledge her defeat in the early morning hours Wednesday….
Obama’s call left a sour taste in the mouths of some Clinton allies who believe she should have waited longer, and there’s now a fight playing out between the Obama and Clinton camps over whether to support an effort to force the Rust Belt states to recount their votes.
Meanwhile, efforts to get recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are moving forward. The Wisconsin Election Commission: Wisconsin Elections Commission Receives Two Presidential Election Recount Petitions.
MADISON, WI – The Wisconsin Elections Commission today received two recount petitions from the Jill Stein for President Campaign and from Rocky Roque De La Fuente, Administrator Michael Haas announced.
“The Commission is preparing to move forward with a statewide recount of votes for President of the United States, as requested by these candidates,” Haas said.
“We have assembled an internal team to direct the recount, we have been in close consultation with our county clerk partners, and have arranged for legal representation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice,” Haas said. “We plan to hold a teleconference meeting for county clerks next week and anticipate the recount will begin late in the week after the Stein campaign has paid the recount fee, which we are still calculating.”
The last statewide recount was of the Supreme Court election in 2011. At that time, the Associated Press surveyed county clerks and reported that costs to the counties exceeded $520,000, though several counties did not respond to the AP’s survey. That election had 1.5 million votes, and Haas said the Commission expects the costs to be higher for an election with 2.975 million votes. “The Commission is in the process of obtaining cost estimates from county clerks so that we can calculate the fee which the campaigns will need to pay before the recount can start,” Haas said. The Commission will need to determine how the recount costs will be assessed to the campaigns.
The state is working under a federal deadline of December 13 to complete the recount. As a result, county boards of canvassers may need to work evenings and weekends to meet the deadlines. “The recount process is very detail-oriented, and this deadline will certainly challenge some counties to finish on time,” Haas said.
A recount is different than an audit and is more rigorous, Haas explained. More than 100 reporting units across the state were randomly selected for a separate audit of their voting equipment as required by state law, and that process has already begun. Electronic voting equipment audits determine whether all properly-marked ballots are accurately tabulated by the equipment. In a recount, all ballots (including those that were originally hand counted) are examined to determine voter intent before being retabulated. In addition, the county boards of canvassers will examine other documents, including poll lists, written absentee applications, rejected absentee ballots, and provisional ballots before counting the votes.
Haas noted that the Commission’s role is to order the recount, to provide legal guidance to the counties during the recount, and to certify the results. If the candidates disagree with the results of the recount, the law gives them the right to appeal in circuit court within five business days after the recount is completed. The circuit court is where issues are resolved that may be discovered during the recount but are not resolved to the satisfaction of the candidates.
The Detroit News: Mich. readies for presidential recount as cutoff looms.
Lansing — Elections officials are preparing for a possible presidential election recount in Michigan that could begin as soon as next week, state Director of Elections Chris Thomas said Friday.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has indicated she plans to jumpstart a recount in the Great Lakes state over fears that Michigan’s election results could have been manipulated by hackers. Republican President-elect Donald won the state by 10,704 votes over Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to unofficial updated resultsposted Wednesday.
By Friday afternoon, Stein had raised more than $5 million of her $7 million goal to cover the cost of a recount in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan “to ensure the integrity of our elections” because “there is a significant need to verify machine-counted vote totals,” according to her campaign website. Stein finished nearly 2.3 million votes behind Trump in Michigan and received 1.1 percent of the vote.
Michigan’s deadline for initiating a recount is Wednesday. “We have not heard from anybody,” Thomas said about a Stein recount request. “We’re just trying to be proactive, make sure we have plans.”
Thomas said officials “could probably begin by the end of the week,” although it will be “a huge undertaking in a very short period of time” if it happens.
That’s all I have for you today. I admit that I’ve been sinking into depression and despair over the past few days. I don’t know how to deal with this nightmare. I’m not giving up; I’m just in a state of extreme confusion and not sure how to come out of it yet.
Take care Sky Dancers! I love you all.
Posted: November 9, 2013 Filed under: Central Intelligence Agency, Crime, FBI, morning reads, Psychopaths in charge, Surreality, The Media SUCKS, the villagers, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics, We are so F'd | Tags: 1963, Adam Gopnik, Bay of Pigs, Bobby Kennedy, Cuban Missile Crisis, Fidel Castro, Iran-Contra, J. Edgar Hoover, JFK assassination, John F. Kennedy, John Kerry, Josh Ozersky, Lee Harvey Oswald, Lyndon B. Johnson, Nikita Krushchev, November 22, organized crime, Richard Nixon, the Mafia, Vincent Bugliosi, Warren Commission, Watergate
In less than two weeks, our nation will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently reading books and articles about the assassination and it’s aftermath. I have wanted to write a post about it, but I just haven’t been able to do it. For me, the JFK assassination is still a very painful issue–in fact, it has become more and more painful for me over the years as I’ve grown older and wiser and more knowledgeable about politics and history. Anyway, I thought I’d take a shot at writing about it this morning. I may have more to say, as we approach the anniversary. I’m going to focus on the role of the media in defending the conclusions of the Warren Commission.
I think most people who have read my posts in the past probably know that I think the JFK assassination was a coup, and that we haven’t really had more than a very limited form of democracy in this country since that day. We probably will never know who the men were who shot at Kennedy in Dallas in 1963, but anyone who has watched the Zapruder film with anything resembling an open mind, has to know that there was more than one shooter; because Kennedy was shot from both the front and back.
The reasons Kennedy died are varied and complex. He had angered a number of powerful groups inside as well as outside the government.
– Powerful members of the mafia had relationships with JFK’s father Joseph Kennedy, and at his behest had helped carry Illinois–and perhaps West Virginia–for his son. These mafia chiefs expected payback, but instead, they got Bobby Kennedy as Attorney General on a crusade to destroy organized crime. In the 1960s both the CIA and FBI had used the mafia to carry out operations.
– FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover hated Bobby Kennedy for “interfering” with the FBI by ordering Hoover to hire more minorities and generally undercutting Hoover’s absolute control of the organization.
– Elements within the CIA hated Kennedy for his refusal to provide air support for the Bay of Pigs invasion (which had been planned by Vice President Nixon well before the 1960 election), and for firing CIA head Allen Dulles.
– Texas oil men like H.L. Hunt and Clint Murchison hated Kennedy for pushing for repeal of the oil depletion allowance.
– The military hated Kennedy because of the Bay of Pigs, his decision to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis by pulling U.S. missiles out of Turkey in return for removal of the missiles from Cuba instead of responding with a nuclear attack, his efforts to reach out to both the Nikita Krushchev of the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro of Cuba, his firing of General Edward Walker, and his decision to pull the military “advisers” out of Vietnam.
– Vice President Lyndon Johnson hated both Kennedys, and he knew he was on the verge of being dropped from the presidential ticket in 1964. In addition, scandals involving his corrupt financial dealings were coming to a head, and the Kennedys were pushing the stories about Johnson cronies Bobby Baker and Billy Sol Estes in the media.
What I know for sure is that after what happened to Kennedy (and to Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy), there is no way any president would dare to really challenge the military and intelligence infrastructure within the government. Richard Nixon found that out when a number of the same people who were involved in the Kennedy assassination helped to bring him down.
To long-term government bureaucracies, the POTUS is just passing through the government that they essentially control. Any POTUS who crosses them too often is asking for trouble. People who think President Obama should simply force the CIA, NSA, FBI and the military to respect the rights of American citizens should think about that for a minute. Can we as a nation survive the assassination of another president?
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 7, 2013 Filed under: abortion rights, Barack Obama, Congress, crops, Cuba, Discrimination against women, Environment, Environmental Protection, Farming, Federal Budget, Foreign Affairs, History, legislation, Monsanto, morning reads, Paycheck Fairness Act, PLUB Pro-Life-Until-Birth, racism, Reproductive Rights, Republican politics, right wing hate grouups, the GOP, Women's Healthcare, Women's Rights | Tags: Afro-Cubans, Assholes, CNN, cuba, ERA, Fidel Castro, George A Strock, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Roberto Zurbano, Soladad O'Brien
We have come to the end of spring break, it is amazing to me how fast time flies by…I have some interesting links for you, some of them I have saved for a little while, you may just want to come back to them during the day.
By the way, later tonight is the season premiere of Mad Men, I don’t know about you…but I sure am looking forward to it. 😉
Y’all know that CNN made the huge mistake of sacking Soledad O’Brien last month. The Guardian had an article about her last appearance on the network:
CNN’s Soledad O’Brien signs off with call for ‘tough conversations’
CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien at belated 60th birthday celebrations for Chaka Khan. Photograph: Startraks Photo / Rex Features
CNN host Soledad O’Brien signed off on Friday with a call for the network not to back away from “tough and honest conversations”.
O’Brien, who has built a reputation for hard-hitting interviews, said on the last edition of her morning show, Starting Point, that “facts matter”.
The new CNN boss, Jeff Zucker, cancelled O’Brien’s show, which has performed poorly in the ratings, and announced on Thursday that it will be replaced by a new show hosted by Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan.
In a short closing monologue on Friday, O’Brien said CNN had given her the chance to cover some of the biggest stories of our time and said she would continue to focus on “good journalism”.
She said: “My tenure at the helm of this show ends today, and I’m not going to be covering daily news at CNN after today. Over the last decade at CNN I’ve had a really great chance to cover some of the biggest stories, I think it’s fair to say, of our time.”
O’Brien recalled when she and a CNN team received a standing ovation at the airport in New Orleans after covering hurricane Katrina.
“So I think if I’ve learned anything over the past year it’s that facts matter,” she continued. “And we shouldn’t be afraid to have tough and honest conversations and maybe even argue a little bit when there’s a lot at stake, and yes, Governor Sununu, I am talking to you.”
You remember that interview don’t you? Soladad kicked Sununu’s ass! O’Brien told the Guardian that CNN did not provide a lot of support for her show Starting Point. They did not get a lot of promotion and were not fully staffed. No wonder, with CNN going down the shit bucket of news. In fact, you need to see this bit Jon Stewart did this past week:
Jon Stewart Tears Apart CNN: Neither Left Nor Right, But On A ‘Steady Spiral Downward’
Stewart then turned to CNN, a network that is neither leaning left nor right, but is instead on a “steady spiral downward.” He took on the new approach of CNN executive Jeff Zucker to the news, mockingly saying things like “I love brunch! Who doesn’t love brunch? That’s news!”
Stewart brought up some graphic faux pas of CNN, including (for some reason) a CNN personality standing in the middle of a virtual field of goats. And most egregiously of all, CNN showed off a live recreation of the Jodi Arias crime scene, complete with dead boyfriend in a pool of blood on the floor.
Of course, new changes don’t come without new show experiments, and following the success of The Five and The Cycle, CNN is testing out a new primetime show called (Get To) The Point. Stewart figured CNN must have “mistook what people are constantly yelling” at the screen for a show pitch. He showed clips of the show’s hosts talking about important subjects like lizard people and vegetarians who eat bacon.
What Stewart loved the most about the show was that when promos for this new program appear on the screen during other CNN shows, it looks like a subtle jab at whoever’s talking to get to the damn point already.
Go watch the video clips…my gawd, what shit CNN is pulling out their ass now a days!
Now, this next article is something I also saved from a while back, funny how it has caused quite a controversy of late….anyway, you know that my father’s family came from Cuba back in the late 1800’s. Here is a photograph of the town Marti City, in Ocala, Florida where my great-great grandfather had one of his cigar factories. In 1890s, cigar industry flourished, died in Ocala
A horse-drawn trolley, shown in Marti City, ran south from Ocala’s railroad station along North Magnolia to Broadway, turned west and followed Broadway to haul passengers and freight to the cigar factories at Marti City.
Well, I usually share links about Cuba with you all, and this article was one I was looking forward to sharing. For Blacks in Cuba, the Revolution Hasn’t Begun by Roberto Zurbano
Alex Webb/Magnum Photos
“Havana, 2013” More Photos »
CHANGE is the latest news to come out of Cuba, though for Afro-Cubans like myself, this is more dream than reality. Over the last decade, scores of ridiculous prohibitions for Cubans living on the island have been eliminated, among them sleeping at a hotel, buying a cellphone, selling a house or car and traveling abroad. These gestures have been celebrated as signs of openness and reform, though they are really nothing more than efforts to make life more normal. And the reality is that in Cuba, your experience of these changes depends on your skin color.
Please, before you do anything else go and read that editorial…because it was written by a man who was fired for saying what he felt was true. Check it out: Writer of Times Op-Ed on Racism in Cuba Loses Job
The editor of a publishing house in Cuba who wrote a critical article in The New York Times opinion section about persistent racial inequality on the island, something revolutionaries proudly say has lessened, has been removed from his post, associates said on Friday.
The author, Roberto Zurbano, in an article published March 23, described a long history of racial discrimination against blacks on the island and said “racial exclusion continued after Cuba became independent in 1902, and a half century of revolution since 1959 has been unable to overcome it.”
On Friday, The Havana Times blog reported that Mr. Zurbano had told a gathering of Afro-Cuban advocates that he had been dismissed from his post at the publishing house of the Casa de las Americas cultural center, leaving the implication that the dismissal was connected to the article. Other associates said Mr. Zurbano told them he had been removed but would continue working there.
There is a lot more to it than there appears to be…
Reached by telephone in Havana, Mr. Zurbano would not comment on his employment. “What is The New York Times going to do about it?” he asked. He angrily condemned the editors of the opinion section for a change in the headline that he felt had distorted his theme.
The article’s headline, which was translated from Spanish, was “For Blacks in Cuba, the Revolution Hasn’t Begun,” but Mr. Zurbano said that in his version it had been “Not Yet Finished.”
“They changed the headline without consulting me,” he said. “It was a huge failure of ethics and of professionalism.”
Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for The Times, said the editor stood by the article’s preparation.
“We worked very hard to ensure that the wording in the piece was translated properly and accurately reflected the writer’s point of view,” she said in a statement. “There were numerous versions of the piece sent back and forth, and in the end, Mr. Zurbano and our contact for him (who speaks fluent English) signed off on the final version.”
“We knew,” she added, “that Mr. Zurbano was in a sensitive situation, and we are saddened if he has indeed been fired or otherwise faced persecution, but we stand by our translation and editing, which was entirely along normal channels.”
Believe me, there is an underlying racism within the Cuban community and to say there isn’t is bullshit. Yes, it is taboo to speak of it too. However, there is a history in a little town in Florida of Cuban whites and blacks coming together to fight for labor rights.
Restaurant in Havana, note the Albinos allowed sign.
My great-great grandfather Nicholas Santana owned a cigar factory and was partners with a black-Cuban named Sorondo who had connections with Jose Marti.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of 1895, Ocala FL, Marti City. My great-great grandfather’s cigar factory, Santana, Sorondo & CO., is located on the bottom left corner.
In Ybor City, Florida…you could find a small pocket of intelligence within the Southern land of Jim Crow, for racism was not prevalent in that little area of Italian, Spanish, Black, White immigrants who mostly worked for the many cigar factories. There were many Afro-Cubans, both women and men, involved in the cigar factory labor strikes in Tampa, Florida, many years ago…they were fighting with their white brothers and sisters for workers rights.
Revolution is part of the Cuban culture, and I do believe that it is fair to say that for the Black-Cuban, the revolution is not finished. It just barely started and has been put on hold, it needs to get back in gear. Racism is alive in Cuba, there is no doubt about that. And the fact that Zurbano was fired says a lot about how things are handled in Cuba.
Speaking of Cuba, there was this bit of celebrity down there: Useful Idiots: Beyoncé And Jay-Z Ignore Cuba’s Racism With Havana Trip
This week, superstars Beyoncé and Jay-Z celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary with a trip to Cuba or, as the informed refer to it, “the island prison.”
While dining, partying, and enjoying the best Havana has to offer, Beyoncé and Jay-Z not only legitimize and support the repressive regime, with both their presence and their cash, but turn a blind eye, cruelly, to the perils and languishing of the Cuban people.
Both stars are proud African-Americans — yet, curiously, chose to vacation in a country notorious for relegating its black population to second-class status, or worse.
It is no surprise that many of Cuba’s top dissidents are Afro-Cubans. Did Sasha Fierce and Jigga Man find time to meet with these brave souls, or with their families? Did they mention them? Did they even think of them?
Of course not! This was not a trip to discover truth…or to learn about history or even music. Take a look at the link for a list of Afro-Cubans advocates who have either been imprisoned or killed for speaking out against the racism.
But why stop Cuba’s racism, and its atrocious human rights record, from getting in the way of a good time? After all, Jay-Z is the ‘artist’ who famously raps: “Welcome to Havana, smoking cubanos with Castro in cabanas!”
All Jay and “B,” useful idiots extraordinaire, seem to hear when visiting Cuba is: “Extra sugar on that mojito, señor?” Never mind the life-long plight of the Afro-Cuban waiter serving that drink, who casts a longing, hopeful look in their direction, only to be met with an aloof, distant smile from the two callous multi-millionaires who, while sharing his skin color, could not care less about his plight.
The photo-journalism report that went with the Zurbano op/ed can be seen here: The Ambiguous Island – Slide Show – NYTimes.com Again, I urge you to go take a look at those images.
Now, one more link out of that little Island nation down south…this made me laugh a little, Fidel Castro to North Korea: Chill
Cuba’s seemingly immortal former leader Fidel Castro, who knows a thing or two about threats of nuclear destruction, is asking both Kim Jong-un and Barack Obama to think before they do anything stupid. “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba always has been and will continue to be with her,” Castro wrote in his first state media op-ed in almost nine months, but “this is one of the gravest risks of nuclear war since the October Crisis in 1962 involving Cuba, 50 years ago.”
“Now that it has demonstrated its technical and scientific advances, we remind it of its duties to other countries who have been great friends and that it would not be just to forget that such a war would affect in a special way more than 70 percent of the world’s population,” wrote Castro, who’s apparently gone soft in his old age.
While the situation in the Koreas is “incredible and absurd,” he added, he warned Obama that if bombing breaks out, he “would be buried by a flood of images that would present him as the most sinister figure in U.S. history. The duty to avoid [war)]also belongs to him and the people of the United States.”
It seems like some sort of SNL skit, doesn’t it? Castro calling North Korea “incredible and absurd.”
Okay, you want real absurd? In Tennessee some asshole is putting forward a law that makes welfare payments dependent upon the student’s grades. Tennessee Gets Closer to Passing Bill That Ties Welfare to School Grades
A Tennessee bill that would cut welfare benefits of parents with children performing poorly in school cleared committees of both the House and Senate last week.
The measure takes “a carrot and stick approach,” one of the sponsors of the bill, Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, told the Knoxville News and Sentinel.
Seth Freed Wessler summarized the bill last month on Colorlines.com:
A Tennessee lawmaker introduced legislation last week to stop welfare payments to parents if their kids get bad grades in school. The sponsor, State Senator Stacy Campfield said, “One of the top tickets to break the chain of poverty is education.” But he added, “We have done little to hold [parents] accountable for their child’s performance.”
The bill would chop nearly a third of family’s Temporary Aid for Needy Families benefits, already a pittance, if their child fails to pass state competency tests or get’s held back. How exactly the threat to make poor people poorer will improve educational outcomes isn’t at all clear.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah. It calls for a 30 percent reduction in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits to parents whose children are not making satisfactory progress in school, the Knoxville News and Sentinel reported.
You know what? My kids are not from a “broken” home, and both their parents and grandparents are college graduates…and they struggle in school. They do not get A’s and B’s…so this would be a disaster in terms of assistance if we were a “needy” family. I mention my kids performance at school because even with positive backgrounds and no worries about food and a place to sleep, a kid can be a disappointment when it comes to their grades. This is a horrible law…damn these GOP assholes.
In another education link: Can Computers Teach Students to Write Better?
Bet you can guess the answer to that.
Alright, moving on…Juan Cole had an excellent post this past week: Congress Obsessed with American Muslims, Neglects real threat of White Supremacists | Informed Comment
The shooting of Kaufman, Texas district attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia remains a mystery. But investigators are increasingly looking into a cell of extremist white terrorists as the suspects. Two months ago, a county assistant district attorney, Mark Hasse, was murdered not far from his office at the court. (I used the term extremist white terrorists because that is what they are, but usually the American press only describes foreigners and Muslims as terrorists, while calling whites “extremists.”)
Likewise, a gang of white terrorists is suspected in the recent slaying of the head of Colorado’s prison system.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and other Islamophobes in Congress, seeking to look good to campaign donors who hate Muslims, has conducted several hearings on the alleged increased radicalization of American Muslims. Sociologists don’t find evidence of such a thing; American Muslims on the whole are relatively well-integrated into US society and are disproportionately well off and pillars of the society. The hearings are a form of McCarthyism.
No one was killed or injured in the US in 2012 by terrorists of Muslim heritage, and only 14 Americans of Muslim heritage were even indicted for violent plots. Only one act of violence was traced to such a group, which produced no casualties.
Rep. Peter King is a big supporter of the old 1980s Irish Republican Army, which killed two Americans in a bombing at Harrod’s department store in London. The man’s feet won’t touch the ground when he walks because of the rivers of hypocrisy exuding from between his toes.
Read the rest at the link.
Like I said at the beginning of this morning’s reads, lots of links for you today. More after the jump.
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Posted: October 14, 2012 Filed under: Cuba, Diplomacy Nightmares, Foreign Affairs, History, Iran, morning reads, Pakistan, Russia, science, Syria, Tea Party activists | Tags: Bill Nye, Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Endeavour, Fidel Castro, Little House on the Prairie, Malala Yousafzai, mona eltahawy, Native American Indians, Nike Hercules missiles, President Kennedy and Soviet leader Khrushchev, Robert F. Kennedy, Soviet Union
That picture is for BB.
Don’t feel up for writing much this morning, so I apologize in advance.
This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. My parents, living in Tampa at the time, tell tales of bomb drills…when you had to duck under your desk. As if that was really going to save you if the shit hit the fan.
Duck and Cover…
(Video at that link from South Park…third episode Volcano.)
- Barbrady: Okay people, listen up. As we near the top of the mountain, the chances of our encountering some lava becomes great. Therefore, I have special ordered this training film to assist us in volcano safety. Mr Garrison, if you would, please?
[Garrison turns on the movie projector to watch a 1952 training video called Lava and You.]
- Instructor: Hard bringers of sorrow, natural disasters can be the cause of troubling and undesirable stress – and a volcano is no exception. But what should you do if a volcano erupts near you or your family? Here, we see the Stevens family enjoying on their picnic. But suddenly, daughter hears a noise: it’s a volcano. Junior seems worried – but have no fear, Junior. Jane learned in school what to do when you hear a volcano erupt. [Jane uses a picnic blanket, covering her family] That’s right, Jane – duck and cover. [lava passes through blanket, leaving family unharmed] So what will you do when you hear a volcano erupting? That’s right, duck and cover. Looks like you got the idea. Duck and cover. Thank you and goodbye. [end of film]
- Barbrady: Okay, any questions?
- Chef: That has got to be the most ridiculous load of pig crap I have ever seen!
- Barbrady: That’s enough outta you!
That is a spoof South Park did on this video:
And now….I’ve got some articles about the Cuban Missile Crisis from all over the world, even Cuba! So check these out:
From Cuba…October Missile Crisis Still an Issue Today – This link is pro Castro…just fyi.
From Scotland, Gerald Warner: Castro and Marxism won most from the Cuban missile crisis
Fidel Castro delivering a speech in October 1962 – the point ‘Soviet ambitions were checked’ARMAGEDDON, with the courtesy of four minutes’ warning: that was the prospect facing the world 50 years ago, as the Cuban missile crisis threatened thermonuclear war on a scale that experts today believe would have cost more than 200 million lives.With the passing of half a century and the declassification of many documents on both sides, certain perspectives have changed; but no new insight has discredited the notion that it was one of the most perilous moments in the Cold War.
From England: How Cuba won the missile crisis
President John F Kennedy ‘never allowed the affair to escape from his capable hands’. Photograph: Art Rickerby/LIFE
Half a century ago, in October 1962, the world woke up to the Cuban missile crisis. The Russians were unloading nuclear missiles on Cuba, and the Americans were demanding they be withdrawn. For some people, perhaps for many, it seemed the moment to drag out the old evangelical poster: The End of the World is Nigh. One prominent anti-nuclear campaigner fled noisily to the west coast of Ireland, imagining mistakenly that there she might be safe. It was a frightening time. Even today I can remember the chill in the air, something not just the result of autumnal bad weather.
Video news story here: BBC News – Cuban missile crisis: The other, secret one
The Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 is generally accepted as the twentieth century’s moment of maximum peril.
On the 50th anniversary of the crisis, the BBC has had exclusive access to new information that paints an even more dangerous picture of how the crisis unfolded.
Papers to be published next week reveal that far from the crisis ending neatly with the deal struck by President Kennedy and Soviet leader Khrushchev at the end of October, there was a second secret stage to the crisis with staggering implications for the world.
Joe Matthews spoke to Dr Svetlana Savranskay, Director of Russia Programmes, National Security Archive in Washington DC, about her research and has this report.
Australia…down under: Fifty years since Soviets blinked over the Cuban missile crisis
John F. Kennedy chairs a US executive committee meeting during the Cuban missile crisis. Source: Supplied
There is a nifty graphic at this Associated Press link: AFP: Cuban missile crisis: when the world held its breath
Just a few more, looking at these photographs is something…many of you probably have vivid memories of this.
Missile gets makeover on 50th anniversary of Cuban crisis
Those are students at a Miami high school restoring one of the Nike Hercules missiles…the photo above it is the base in the Florida Everglades where the Nike missiles were based at.
You can always learn something new about old events, even heavily covered ones like the Cuban Missile Crisis.To that end, the National Archives on Thursday will release more than 2,700 pages of papers from its Robert F. Kennedy collection, many of them dealing with the Cuba crisis that became the most dangerous moment of the Cold War.”The National Archives is pleased to open these materials as the nation and the world mark the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis,” said David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. “Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy played a crucial role in the peaceful resolution of the crisis, and researchers and the public are keenly interested in the information and insights contained in these documents.”
You can go online and view the documents…they are being posted at 8:30 am today. www.jfklibrary.org
News reports from Pakistan on Sunday said that Malala Yousafzai has about a 50-50 chance of survival, maybe a little better, according to her doctors. She remains stable but unconscious
in an army hospital in Rawalpindi.Military doctors have reportedly consulted with two civilian Pakistani neurosurgeons who have recommended that Ms. Yousafzai be sent abroad for treatment. President Obama also has offered U.S. medical assistance
to the Pakistani government, including a military air ambulance.Dr. Khalid Butt, a former army physician, in a letter
to the Dawn newspaper, said “we may lose Malala Yousafzai if we do not send her to Dubai or the UK immediately,” adding that “armed forces doctors are not very proficient in complicated injury cases in peacetime.”He asked military leaders to stop “dilly-dallying” and not make it “a matter of ego and send Malala somewhere where she can be treated better.”
That is not very promising.
They are chopping trees down, and using iron steel plates to keep the road from buckling under the weight.
After a daylong series of delays stemming from trees bordering the street and a particularly narrow stretch of road, the space shuttle Endeavour is not expected to arrive at its final destination until after 5 a.m. Sunday.
The shuttle, now at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Leimert Park, will turn right onto Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard sometime before midnight. It will then creep along in the predawn darkness, never exceeding 1 mph, for the last leg of its final journey,
“It’s not the turning–the turning is easy. We can turn this thing 360 degrees in place if we have to,” said Ken Carryion, project manager for Sarens, the company controlling the transporters on which Endeavour rests. “it’s limited visibility. Even though we have light, it’s not the same as daylight.”
The rest of today’s links will be in a link dump. It is 2:30 and my pillow is calling me.
Have a wonderful Sunday…and please share your memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis with us…