Sunday Reads: Joan Leslie, Workers’ Comp and Dubya 

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Good Afternoon

A few days ago we lost an actress from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Joan Leslie, who starred in films with James Cagney…Fred Astaire. Gary Cooper, Ida Lupino, and others….(my favorites being Sargent York and The Hard WayThe Hard Way.) She was 90 years old.

Joan Leslie, a Hollywood Girl Next Door, Dies at 90 – The New York Times

Joan Leslie, an actress remembered for fresh-faced ingénue roles in movies of the 1940s, including “High Sierra,” “Sergeant York” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” died on Monday in Los Angeles. She was 90.

Her family confirmed the death.

Ms. Leslie, who was known in private life as Joan Leslie Caldwell, began her career in a vaudeville act with her two older sisters. Before she was out of her teens she had become known for film roles including Velma, the young disabled woman with whom Humphrey Bogart falls in love in “High Sierra” (1941); Gracie, the love interest of Gary Cooper in “Sergeant York” (1941), a role she landed on her 16th birthday; and Mary, the bride of George M. Cohan (played by James Cagney) in “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” released in 1942.18928fd7f1c4f870d8ea0f30d0e70876

[…]

The young, red-haired Ms. Leslie was admired by moviegoers for the girl-next-door innocence she brought to the screen.

“In my case, I really was a nice girl; my family sheltered me,” she told The Toronto Star in 1990. “Once, at a reception for exhibitors, Errol Flynn approached me” — he was a notorious roué — “and the photographers clicked away. Studio head Jack Warner was furious. He ordered the pictures destroyed, because it might damage my good-girl reputation!”

Joan Leslie Dead at 90: Starred in Sergeant York, Yankee Doodle Dandy | Variety

Joan Leslie Dead

Born in Detroit, Michigan on January 26, 1925, Leslie’s career began when her family relocated to Burbank, after Leslie’s older sister Mary was signed to a contract at MGM. Her first role was an uncredited part in George Cukor’s “Camille” at age 11.

2ab586bddf24e31fd69c41911652a848After marrying physician William G. Caldwell in 1950, Leslie shifted her focus to family, with occasional appearances on television shows and in commercials.

[…]

Leslie died on Oct. 12 in Los Angeles, her family announced. Funeral mass will be celebrated at 10:00 am on October 19 at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church.

On a personal note:

In March 1950, she married William Caldwell, an obstetrician.[6][45] Their identical twin daughters, Patrice and Ellen, were born on January 7, 1951.[46] Both daughters eventually became doctors.[47]

3c222461f50f4b1cad654dc67495995fLeslie was in the business of designing clothes, with her own eponymous brand. William died in 2000. A year later, she founded the Dr. William G. and Joan L. Caldwell Chair in Gynecologic Oncology for the University of Louisville. Leslie was an adopted alumna of the university for over 32 years.[48] She was involved with charity work for the St. Anne’s Maternity Home for more than 50 years.[49]

Joan Leslie dies at 90; actress of Hollywood’s Golden Age – LA Times

In the 1941 film noir classic “High Sierra,” Humphrey Bogart plays a tough guy who falls in love with a seemingly sweet, naive teenager played by Joan Leslie.

fb237896c0e710bc87ee6a7a72264e4aThe Bogie character later finds out, to his dismay, that the girl is not as naive as he thought.

The film industry made the same mistake about Leslie.

Though demure in most of her teen roles, as a young woman Leslie filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. to get her out of a contract she described as “slavery.” And she persevered for years until studio executives finally gave in.

“They know I put up a fight for what I believed as right,” she said in a 1949 Times interview. “They know I didn’t weaken, and they don’t consider me now a perpetual ingenue.”

4799571081cd520e6a3ab8bd81c13720

c86b594dbbcbcf532ba141ec5ae628f589097419df1a8b5557d492537f5f15a3

[…]

413113cc2f4e929e18ddfc7730dd969dLeslie was a show business veteran by the time she got the role in “High Sierra.” When she was child, she and her two older sisters had a vaudeville singing and dancing act that toured widely in the U.S. and Canada. And she had several small, mostly uncredited parts in movies.

But getting that plum role in the film that also starred Ida Lupino (then a bigger star than Bogart, and thus top billed), directed by Raoul Walsh and co-written by John Huston, was a life-changer.

“I was only 15, you know,” she said in a 1994 interview with a fan, Barry Iddon, while in London to support a children’s hospital. “I wish I had gotten it a little bit later in my career. I think I could have done better by it.”

1ca300427adfa3e6b721626673a3dff6But she was entirely believable as Velma, a partly disabled small-town girl traveling west with her family in a beat-up car when they have an encounter with Roy “Mad Dog” Earle, played by Bogart.

In a memorable, tender scene early in the film, the two gaze at the stars and he talks about how the earth feels “like a little ball that’s turning through the night, with us hanging on to it.”

“Why that sounds like poetry, Roy,” she tells him. “It’s pretty.”

When Leslie was 16, Warner Bros., which had her under contract, gave her a new Buick and more importantly, the female lead part opposite Gary Cooper in the biopic “Sergeant York,” about an unlikely World War I hero.

0b2c2e6d76ecf28f1968cfffa4b5d6d4Despite the car, she was still treated by some, including Cooper, as a child. “Gary gave me a doll on the set,” Leslie said in a 1990 Toronto Star interview. “That’s how he saw me.”

Her screen persona was even immortalized in song. In the wartime “Hollywood Canteen” (1944), the Andrews Sisters sang “Corns for My Country” about the condition of their feet after dancing long hours with soldiers on leave. One line of the song:

We’re not petite as sweet Joan Leslie.

But by the mid-1940s, Leslie had had it with the roles Warner Bros. gave her, and when the studio refused to offer her meatier parts, she sued, claiming the contract she signed as a teenager was invalid. She won her case in lower courts, but the studio won in the state Supreme Court.

4b822593edaa38e089133b9f1f29f79bLeslie pushed on, saying she would file a $2-million civil suit against Warner Bros. The studio gave in, canceling her contract. “I hope this will present me as an entirely new personality,” she said in the Times interview.

But the damage was done to her career, in part because she had been out of the public eye while the court battle dragged on. “I couldn’t work those two years, not even on radio,” she told the Toronto Star. “It was a huge setback for me.”

 

Remembering Joan Leslie | Leonard Maltin

I was saddened to hear of Joan Leslie’s death earlier this week at the age of 90. She was one of my favorite interviews in recent years. She was incredibly nice, yet at the same time she belied her screen image as a sweet young thing, as you’ll see in this excerpt from our conversation. 67d8cc8c4ed28139a2000e2c1cc3e2c3She had savvy and ambition, and it was no accident that she succeeded in Hollywood. (You can read the complete interview in the book Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy, compiled from back issues of my newsletter of the same name.) She even endured a studio blackballing in the 1950s after leaving her longtime home at Warner Bros. and was forced to work at Republic Pictures—which she did, without complaint.

In 1940 the pretty, adolescent Joan Brodel won the leading role in a Warner Bros. short-subject called Alice in Movieland about a girl’s dreamlike experience in Hollywood: spotted on the set, given the lead in a major movie, becoming a star and winning an Academy Award. Never was casting more ironic—or prophetic—because Brodel’s real-life story wasn’t so different from that piece of fluffy fiction. 59863f161658c95ded9793b1e06e16dfAfter several years of appearing in tiny roles she was signed by Warner Bros. and, as Joan Leslie, costarred with Gary Cooper in Sergeant York, Humphrey Bogart in High Sierra, James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy, and Fred Astaire in The Sky’s The Limit—all before she turned eighteen!  (Not so incidentally, Warner Bros. reissued Alice in Movieland and re-filmed the main titles to feature Leslie’s “new” name as well as her star billing. You can see the short on Turner Classic Movies, or on the Warner Home Video DVD of The Sea Hawk)

Joan Leslie gave many interviews about her career and her notable costars—she adds a great deal to the hour-long DVD documentary on the making of Yankee Doodle Dandyf7be4ed9ae1fba83a8b152ffd7d0c056but I was curious about her earliest experiences in Hollywood, and I wanted to learn more about day-to-day life as a contract player under the studio system. She was happy to oblige, in 2006, although when I made the mistake of referring to her as a onetime extra she politely but firmly corrected me.

Be sure to look at that link and read the interview. it is great….

Okay, remember during the debate I mentioned how Bernie Sanders reminded me of Larry David’s George Steinbrenner?

Well, check this out…

Larry David Just Played Bernie Sanders on SNL—And the Internet Is Going Nuts Over It | Mother Jones

 

e494d0b1a8e46001cdc4782e3bb9e7d0“We’re doomed!” Larry David plays the best Bernie Sanders yet on “Saturday Night Live” – Salon.com

When Larry David was on “Saturday Night Live” he only got one sketch on the air and the audience didn’t laugh. Thirty years later, the Seinfeld creator returned as Bernie Sanders and the Internet lost its mind with David trending on Twitter well into this morning. […]

The sketch mocked the first democratic debate with a smiley Lincoln Chafee talking about how fun it was to be a senator, Alec Baldwin as Jim Webb who was angry, of course, because he didn’t get to talk before he was introduced, the Hillary Clinton her staff put together for the debate, and Bernie “We’re Doomed” Sanders.

43e691af5b293b23769d4ec904e34144With a perfect Sanders accent and broad hand gestures and finger points, David shouted about revolution asking why the hell the big banks chain all their pens to the desk. His solution for Wall Street reform was to break up the big banks into little pieces and then flush them down the toilet. “Then ya make the bankers pay for college for everyone, and America is fixed! Hey!” he said shrugging and gesticulating wildly. Hillary puts a damper on the idealism saying Bernie is promising a “golden goose” but Bernie assured the debate audience he’s found geese before and he can find them again. “They congregate near ponds. It’s not rocket science!”

 After Bernie repeated the famous email line Hillary shook his hand and thanked him, commenting that it must be nice to scream and cuss in public. “I have to do it into tiny little jars.”

 

 

 

67b59fd4a5534460fcf75dc094d07912Bernie Sanders to Larry David: Come join on me campaign trail! – Salon.com

Bernie Sanders has a pretty good sense of humor. He responded to Larry David’s “Saturday Night Live” impression of him by telling George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” that he’d like to take him out campaigning with him.

 “I think we’ll use Larry at our next rally. He does better than I do,” Sanders said.

Now that is all for laughs, because the next link is disturbing as hell.

Opting out: Inside corporate America’s push to ditch workers’ comp – ProPublica

This is an important article, read it in full. I think a this quote will be a good example:

Minick and other proponents say while plans can make exceptions, such rules ensure workers get medical care as soon as possible, speeding their recovery.

996f90cfa5c46ad37643d8d6d488f205But public health experts say workers might not report minor injuries right away for valid reasons: They fear looking like troublemakers or worry about child care if they need to see a doctor or stay late filling out forms.

Or, like Rebecca Amador, they simply might not realize an injury’s severity.

Amador, a nursing assistant, was helping a patient transfer to a wheelchair at a Stephenville, Texas, nursing home in November 2013, when the chair’s brake unlocked, causing her to support the patient’s weight.

“I felt like a pinch in my back and I thought well, it’s been a long day, I’m tired,” said Amador, then 51. “So I paid no mind to it. I figured it would go away. Usually it goes away.”

21a3587f3f28ef72f55c6238dab5fdb8She took a hot shower and went to bed. By the next morning, she remembers being in so much pain she could hardly breathe.

As soon as she got to work, Amador told her supervisor, who sent her to the hospital. Only 19 hours had passed. But her employer, Fundamental Long Term Care, rejected her claim, saying she had failed to report it by the end of her shift.

The company’s decision left Amador in a Catch-22. Even though her injury happened at work, the company’s Texas plan wouldn’t cover it. But because it was work-related, neither would her health insurance or short-term disability plan. Had she worked for Fundamental in one of the other states where it operates, her personal injury would have been covered under workers comp.

7a928ee09b17bfd72821fbef48e04038Amador sought help at a publicly funded health clinic, where her doctor recommended a specialist. But she couldn’t afford one. She tried light-duty work until her doctor warned she could do further damage.

Since then, Amador said, she’s been living off her son’s Social Security benefits and borrowing from a lawsuit settlement fund set up for him after his father died of mesothelioma. Her daughters help pay for medications, and she’s applying for Social Security disability.

Sitting in her trailer nearly two years after the incident, she said her back burns like she’s in a fire, and she can’t even carry a two-liter soda bottle.

“I would probably still be working there” if Fundamental had workers’ comp, Amador said. “Maybe I could have gotten better, maybe I could have gotten my therapy done, and I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in.”

5342d5d5bcbc3cfd257c858d8e6db7d8That story is mild compared to some of the others….

More stories of horror here, from March of this year:

The Fallout of Workers’ Comp ‘Reforms’: 5 Tales of Harm – ProPublica

Injured workers share their stories, revealing the real-life impact of rollbacks that have been spreading across the country.

Price Check: How Companies Value Body Parts

Injured workers are entitled to compensation for permanent disabilities under state workers’ comp laws. But Texas has long allowed companies to opt out and write their own benefit plans. Benefits for the same body part can differ dramatically depending on which company you work for.

a35eeb405b88474fab2c6d135d459b94And a couple other articles from the series, these from earlier in the year.

The Demolition of Workers’ Compensation – ProPublica

Over the past decade, states have slashed workers’ compensation benefits, denying injured workers help when they need it most and shifting the costs of workplace accidents to taxpayers.

How Much Is Your Arm Worth? For Workers’ Compensation, That Depends on Where You Work – ProPublica

Each state determines its own workers’ compensation benefits, which means workers in neighboring states can end up with dramatically different compensation for identical injuries.

For the entire series of articles, photos and updates:

Insult to Injury – ProPublica

 

There are 17 articles at that link. You can spend a shitload of time at that page….

The rest of the links below in dump fashion, because the day is getting late.

2d426f81026c3f5873a85299b1f4cc39Was George W. Bush President On 9/11? An Investigation Into The Controversy Tearing The GOP Apart | ThinkProgress

On Friday, Donald Trump generated substantial controversy when he asserted that George W. Bush was president at the time of the 9/11 attacks.

“When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time,” Trump said. “He was president, O.K.?

Jeb Bush immediately pushed back, calling Trump’s comments “pathetic” and insisting “my brother kept us safe.”

The media jumped on to the burgeoning controversy. According to The New York Times the idea that Bush was president on 9/11 and failed to stop the attack is a “break from the GOP.”

f135e48ef422eb57a5837ae1785035a8CNN host destroys Jeb Bush: You blame Hillary for Benghazi but insist brother blameless for 9/11

epublican presidential candidate Jeb Bush struggled on Sunday to explain how he could blame Hillary Clinton for the attacks in Benghazi while insisting that George W. Bush was blameless for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

While speaking to Bloomberg last week, Trump reminded the interviewer that George Bush was president when the World Trade Center was attacked in New York.

“He was president, OK?” Trump said. “Blame him, or don’t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.”

The comments sparked Bush to respond by calling Trump “pathetic” in a Twitter post. And on Sunday, he continued to defend the 43rd president during an interview with CNN.

dfc8829c5617f143c2d53be1515fd394“My brother responded to a crisis and united the country, he organized our country and he kept us safe,” the GOP hopeful told Tapper. “And there’s no denying that. And the great majority of Americans believe that. And I don’t know why he keeps bringing this up.”

Tapper wondered if Bush’s loyalty to his brother “might be in some ways a political or policy liability blinding you to mistakes he made.”

“It’s what you do after that matters,” Bush insisted. “Does anybody actually blame my brother for the attacks on 9/11? If they do, they’re totally marginalized in our society. It’s what he did afterwards that mattered, and I’m proud of him. And so are a bunch of other people.”

bd6c62e0d9349d2b939a771fac9e0246“Obviously al Qaeda was responsible for the terrorist attacks of 9/11,” the CNN host pressed. “But how do you respond to critics who ask if your brother and his administration bear no responsibility at all, how do you then make the jump that President Obama and Secretary Clinton are responsible for what happened at Benghazi?”

Bush stammered in response: “Well, I — the question on Benghazi, which we will now finally get the truth to, is was the place secure? They had a responsibility at the Department of State to have proper security.”

“And how was the response in the aftermath of the attack?” he continued. “Was there a chance that these four American lives could have been saved? That’s what the investigation is about, it’s not a political issue… Were we doing the job of protecting our embassies and our consulates, and during the period, those hours after the attacks started, could they have been saved?”

6bc6d342d77e563d7e16dcb99038721a“That’s kind of proving the point of the critics,” Tapper noted. “You don’t want you brother to bear responsibility for 9/11 — and I understand that argument and al Qaeda is responsible — but why are the terrorists not the ones that are responsible for these attacks in Libya?”

“They are!” Bush replied. “But if the ambassador was asking for additional security and they didn’t get it, that’s a proper point. And if it’s proven that the security was adequate compared to other embassies, then fine, we’ll move on.”

 

b83b725d1dadb29ad5675bd9d2a9f5a1CNN’s Jake Tapper Exposes Republicans’ Double Standard In Assigning Blame For 9/11 And Benghazi | Video | Media Matters for America

Jeb Bush, Donald Trump continue 9/11 fight – Business Insider

4398fe1fb694d6ba9f54debafc4305e2Jeb Bush: Trump’s 9/11 comments prove he’s an ‘actor’ in candidate’s clothes | US news | The Guardian

Would-be Speaker could lose his House seat next year | TheHill

Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) is running full-steam ahead in his long-shot bid for Speaker, while looming redistricting plans in his state threaten his congressional seat.

Webster’s reelection chances in his current district suffered a severe blow Oct. 9 when a circuit court judge give tentative approval to a redistricting proposal favoring Democrats in his area.

While the map plans have yet to be finalized, it raises the prospect that if successful in his leadership bid, Webster could assume the Speaker’s gavel without having solid reelection prospects.

 

a32fc13e54763e9ddd335f1e26e79ae8Dumbghazi » Balloon Juice

Well, it turns out that Hillary’s emails do contain some scandalous info.   The Daily Mail:

A bombshell White House memo has revealed for the first time details of the ‘deal in blood’ forged by Tony Blair and George Bush over the Iraq War.

The sensational leak shows that Blair had given an unqualified pledge to sign up to the conflict a year before the invasion started.

It flies in the face of the Prime Minister’s public claims at the time that he was seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis.1be5f67feba2766c2910fadc65fa5a6b

He told voters: ‘We’re not proposing military action’ – in direct contrast to what the secret email now reveals.

[…]

The documents, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, are part of a batch of secret emails held on the private server of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton which U.S. courts have forced her to reveal.

Breathless tabloid prose aside, it’s still pretty funny that perhaps the most important discovery from a committee that has held almost as many hearings as the 9/11 committee concerns one of W’s fuckups.

a5543dd9bf92ea59e57f6c2eceae7e8cMiss. judge: People charged w crimes are criminals | Al Jazeera America

 

Hillary bashes closures of AL driver’s license offices in black communities as ‘blast from Jim Crow past’

 

Former mistress of GOPer David Vitter claims he got her pregnant and asked her to abort

 

Mitt Romney: I’m Glad I’m Not In The 2016 GOP Race

 

edf0dcbe4d1cfb1e4a3b1145e7141614California mudslides and chaos offer a preview of what El Niño could bring – LA Times

 

Reputed NY mobster faces trial for 1978 ‘Goodfellas’ heist

For nearly four decades, it remained one of America’s most infamous unsolved crimes: on Dec. 11, 1978, a crew of masked men stole $6 million in cash and jewelry from a Lufthansa Airlines cargo building at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

The brazen heist, which helped inspire the gangster movie “Goodfellas,” left authorities largely frustrated until last year, when federal prosecutors in Brooklyn charged Vincent Asaro, a member of the Bonanno organized crime family, with participating in the theft.

df1c75e086c34019a3f22461d716f07cHis criminal trial is set to begin on Monday in Brooklyn federal court before an anonymous jury.

Most of the other suspected participants in the robbery disappeared, were killed or died, making it difficult for authorities to piece the case together.

“Once you kill one guy, you gotta kill them all, because otherwise they’ll get scared,” said Howard Abadinsky, an organized crime expert and a professor at St John’s University in New York. “He’s one of the few guys that’s still alive.”

 

1b685b803243687f2ea7bfccbdf4311bIn Honor of Angela Lansbury’s 90th Birthday, Here Are 90 Photos of Angela Lansbury

Pictures of Joan Leslie: (5) JOAN LESLIE 1925-2015 on Pinterest | Dandy, Actresses and Photo Galleries

 

So what are you all reading about today?

 


Wednesday Reads : Open any door, and what do you see….

5d0108befc79fdb58170b961a1efef48Some eff’d up shit, and let me tell you….it will make you want to slam that door shut and head for hills in search of some sort of fairytale land where things are actually….decent and fair and reasonable.

Because as it is now, we are living in a unbelievably horrible fantasy world, where the wicked witch will cook and eat children…..uh, as long as those kids aren’t fetuses, then in that case it is the pregnant woman who finds herself on the menu.

Today’s stories are here in a link dump. So let’s open some doors and see what shit storms we find.

First up, this….Ex-Subway pitchman Jared Fogle to plead guilty to sex acts with minors, child porn – Chicago Tribune

ngtime Subway pitchman Jared Fogle agreed Wednesday to plead guilty to allegations that he paid for sex acts with minors and received child pornography in a case that destroyed his career at the sandwich-shop chain and could send him to prison for more than a decade.

Prosecutors allege that Fogle knew the pornography had been secretly produced by the former director of his charitable foundation, which sought to raise awareness about childhood obesity and arranged for Fogle to visit schools and urge children to adopt healthy eating and exercise habits.

28bfb78867de8c0cc0023d28aefb99c4Fogle sat in court with his hands clasped and quietly answered “no” when the judge asked whether he had any questions about his rights. He is expected to enter the formal plea at a later date to one count each of travelling to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor and distribution and receipt of child pornography.

The agreement released by prosecutors said Fogle agrees to pay $1.4 million in restitution to 14 minor victims, who will each receive $100,000. He will also be required to register as a sex offender and undergo treatment for sexual disorders.

The government agreed not to seek a sentence of more than 12 ½ years in prison, and Fogle agreed not to ask for less than five years, according to court documents.

More here: Subway pitchman Jared Fogle pleads guilty to child porn charges & paying for sex with minors – Salon.com

9fbc8114046b01ca924909afda5e6dcbFor something utterly disgusting: Addicting Info – SICK: Jim Bob And Michelle Duggar Want To Personally Counsel Sex Abuse Victims In New Reality Show

They’ve begged for money from fans and whined about their parental responsibilities. Now the Duggar parents want to put sex abuse victims on reality television and give them counseling that they are unqualified to give.

In a sickening new twist on the Duggar child molestation scandal, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are pitching a new reality show to TLC in which the irresponsible parents would counsel victims of sexual abuse. The report comes as TLC prepares to air a commercial-free documentary called Breaking The Silence that will feature Jill and Jessa Duggar along with other victims of sexual abuse in an effort to bring the issue into the public eye more than it already is.

But rather than just participate in the documentary and go away, the Duggars apparently want to profit off the suffering of others by spinning the documentary off into a brand new series featuring Jim Bob and Michelle as sex abuse counselors.

625a78b41263d6734374c941b7799138Yes, you read that right. According to a Duggar family friend interviewed by Star Magazine, the Duggars are so desperate for money to care for their ridiculously large family that they want to stay on television in any way they can.

“The family can’t afford to not have the show — it is their main source of income, and with a family of that size, without it they’re in enormous trouble,” the source said.

In other TV news: Even ‘Sesame Street’ Is Gentrified Now: TV Show Drops Its Radical Notion That the Urban Working Class Are People Too | Alternet

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but it’s time to admit that like every other trendy NYC neighborhood that gets spotlighted on a TV show, “Sesame Street” has succumbed to gentrification.601f717d9f50ab8ee411910ac6dafa71

I admit I haven’t been a regular viewer of the program since I hit puberty, having long ago familiarized myself adequately with the alphabet and basic shapes and colors for the sake of my career goals.

But I don’t know what else you can call it when the show will be delivering its new season as an exclusive for HBO, a premium cable channel that makes it notoriously difficult to view its exclusive “prestige” content without a pricey subscription.

c7a763e34de3df54bff8472f69691d4fApparently some annoying right-wing prudes at the Parents Television Council provided an easy strawman for HBO apologists by saying the problem with this move is that there’s lots of “offensive” content on HBO–“Game of Thrones,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Girls” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” They say that “Sesame Street” has damaged its wholesome brand by associating itself with these programs.

Well, I have no problem with graphic violence and sex and profane bons mots from John Oliver’s filthy, clever little mouth.

I do have a problem with the fact that the fans of “Game of Thrones” and Lena Dunham and John Oliver–affluent hipsters and yuppies like me–are the people whose children are in the least need of “Sesame Street.”

Tom Scocca at Gawker has already pointed out that this move is a betrayal of “Sesame Street”’s mission to provide open access educational materials for all kids, one that takes the viral support of PBS and “Sesame Street” as a democraticizing cultural force from the 2012 election and throwing it back in those supporters’ faces.

de368069a23bfacd3275cd1a1b00395dBut he doesn’t go into detail about just how big of a shift in priorities for “Sesame Street” this is, and how long it’s been coming.

A few more from Alternet:

Witness Saw Cops Stand Over Zachary Hammond’s Dead Body And ‘High Five’ His Limp Hand: Attorney | Alternet

In a letter sent to the U.S. Attorney General and the FBI Director asking for a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting death of Zachary Hammond, the attorney for the slain teen’s family claims he has a witness who saw Seneca Police Department officers celebrate the shooting by “high-fiving” the teen’s lifeless body.

920d114a3d2279c0f712330feea7f9daAccording to Fox Carolina, the letter details other accusations against officers involved in the shooting including a witness saying an officer pulled the teen’s body from his car and then placed something beneath it.

[…]

According to the letter sent by Taylor family attorney Eric Bland, a witness states “… the officer who opened Zachary’s door and pulled his dead body from the vehicle then went ‘to the trunk of his police car and pulled (SIC) something out. The officer walked back over to the man on the ground rolled him over to his side, put something underneath his body, and then rolled him back.’”

The letter goes on to state, “…a police officer with a neighboring police force has confirmed to SLED that the Seneca Police Department celebrated the killing of Zachary by desecrating his corpse. After Zachary had been shot and killed, member(s) of the Seneca Police Department lifted his dead hand and ‘high fived’ Zachary Hammond.”

8f5090807cbf60445477844cd5f18a2eThe case is currently under consideration for a federal civil rights probe, with the State Law Enforcement Division agents denying a formal request to turn over body cam footage of the incident to the media prior to finishing their investigation.

School Officials Used Young Girl as ‘Bait’ in Rape Sting, She Was Raped and They Covered It Up | Alternet

In 2010, a 14-year-old Huntsville girl was approached by school officials who wanted to use her as bait in a “sting operation.” The plan was to use the young girl to catch a boy in the act who’d been accused of sexually harassing students. However, their asinine plan backfired, and this innocent young girl was anally raped by the older student.

0a9c8c1cb51da23bc37f825a40fafa6fThe plan was for the girl not to do anything and teachers would burst in and catch the boy with a girl in the bathroom, but the boy changed bathroom locations. The girl, known in court records as BHJ, was not found by the incompetent school officials until after the student raped her.

After their plan had failed, school officials attempted to sweep the incident under the rug. The boy never went to jail. Instead, he was placed in an alternative school, and his records shredded.

Despite medical records indicating that BHJ had anal tearing, indicating that she was, in fact, raped, the incident was entered into school records as “inappropriate touching.”

Florida Principal Tries to Quietly Ban Book to Appease Christians, Sets off Sh*tstorm Instead | Alternet

7a412f378fdb407e8f4e4f05fb735f70“This case is very startling. A handful of parents are making choices for every other parent in that school,” said Sarah Hoffman of the NCAC to the Democrat. “There is a reason policies are in place — to protect educators and the decisions they make.”

“This seems like a knee-jerk decision,” she continued.

But Sue Gee, one of the parents who complained about the book, feels that Curious Case is an affront to her faith and that its casual use of swear words would be harmful to students.

“I am not interested in having books banned,” said Gee, a former primary school teacher. “But to have that language and to take the name of Christ in vain — I don’t go for that. As a Christian, and as a female, I was offended. Kids don’t have to be reading that type of thing and that’s why I was asking for an alternative assignment.”

e6035652e42ca53769035869ec13ca0f“I know it’s not realistic to pretend bad words don’t exist, but it is my responsibility as a parent to make sure that my daughter knows what is right or wrong,” she said.

But parents like Valerie Mindlin said they don’t want religious parents or any other kinds of ideologues dictating to teachers what they can and can’t teach.

“I was stunned,” said Mindlin. “I feel like it is second-guessing teachers. I never thought that the school would participate in an act of censorship. “At what point do you let parents decide the curriculum for an entire school?”

Addicting Info – School Sends Girl Home Because ‘Revealing’ Outfit ‘Distracted’ Boys With Collarbones (VIDEO/SCREENSHOTS)

a00871922c12d456d64f6d9f61390aeeYet another school has decided to make the assumption that males are completely unable to control their libidos even long enough to pay attention in class for about an hour at a time without their ravenous masculine urges taking over. While Christians screaming about Sharia Law invading the United States seem to be ignoring this instance of something reminiscent of  ACTUAL “creeping Sharia,” The Internet is up in arms over a photograph of a Kentucky high school girl wearing a slutty, revealing outfit that will surely guarantee her the hottest coals in Satan’s pit of nightmares.

According to Woodford County High in Versailles, there’s something very wrong with this outfit. Do you see it?

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This next link is just absurd: This Bible Museum Features Rejected Celebrity Wax Figures | Mental Floss

Keen-eyed tourists paying a visit to the BibleWalk Museum in Mansfield, Ohio may spot some familiar faces. That’s because tucked into scenes of Old Testament miracles and the life of Christ are surprise appearances from celebrities like Steve McQueen and Ringo Starr.

The founder of BibleWalk, Pastor Richard Diamond, began pursuing his dream of opening a biblical wax museum in the early 1980s. In order to keep costs low, he searched for used figures from different sources, one of which was the Madame Tussaud’s Museum in Arkansas, so many of BibleWalk’s 300 figures are celebrity wax figure museum rejects.

ecaf82a1a0727be1b48830edc5182e42Little girl asks Hillary Clinton: When you’re president, will you get paid as much as a man?

a campaign stop in Nevada on Tuesday, a little girl asked former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a question about equal pay and the race to the White House.

As the candidate extended the microphone to her, the girl asked, “Do you think that when you’re president you’ll get paid as much as if you were a man?”

The crowd laughed and applauded before Clinton replied, “This is one of the jobs where they have to pay you the same. But there are so many examples where that doesn’t happen.”

She went on to pledge that “As president, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that not just the president gets paid the same — whether it’s a woman or a man — but every woman in every job gets paid the same as the men who are doing that job.”

8fe14b693440cbb2b411e32dfe9cb126Children as property: The common root of religious child abuse and the pro-life movement

Why do the same people who fight against abortion argue that parents should have the right to hit their children and deny them medical care or education, as some conservative Republicans have done recently? How can someone oppose family planning because a pill or IUD might have the rare and unintended consequence of interfering with implantation, and then endorse beating a child, which might have the rare and unintended consequence of battering her to death?

These two positions fit together seamlessly only when we understand the Iron Age view of the child woven through the Bible and how that view has shaped the priorities and behavior of those who treat the Bible like the literally perfect Word of God.

e5de444420e0095f62ea490dfd27b98dOpening the door on Ashley Madison:

Ashley Madison hack: Sex cheat data dumped online as ‘dark web’ exposes millions of husbands’ and wives’ details – News – Gadgets and Tech – The Independent

Hackers Finally Post Stolen Ashley Madison Data | WIRED

This is sad news: Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief and hangs him from ruins he spent a lifetime restoring – Middle East – World – The Independent

And Watch how easy it is for a rat to climb through drain pipes and up into any toilet bowl – News – The Independent

Rats are incredibly flexible animals that are also excellent swimmers, thus making them the perfect creatures to sneak into residential sewers and climb their way up into your toilet bowl. Even if you flush, they will survive.

This video from National Geographic shows the disturbing dexterity of this most loathed of rodents.

2996aaa099b42e90e351707d2fe1bddfRats find it easy to make their way into sewers, crawling through grates and manholes from the street to begin their path to your bathroom. Their sharp claws mean they can scale any vertical surface. But what about the maze of bending pipes that make their way to the toilet bowl?

Video at the link.

No surprise here: Americans Back Federal Funds To Planned Parenthood For Health Services, Poll Shows

So, check this out: ‘Everybody’ Arrested In Ferguson Last August Is Being Charged, Lawyers Say

St. Louis County authorities have decided they’re not done with protesters quite yet. Lawyers representing the interests of those arrested in Ferguson last August say St. Louis County authorities have sent out “hundreds” of summonses to individuals swept up by police a year ago. Because the state prosecuting attorney refused to take many of the cases and the city of Ferguson has not pursued charges in others, the ordinance violation charges have come from the St. Louis County Counselor — the very same entity that defends the St. Louis County Police Department’s actions in civil rights lawsuits.

amazing-old-vintage-doors-photography-5“What we’re hearing is that they’re just charging everybody who didn’t get charged,” Brendan Roediger, a law professor at St. Louis University. “We definitely have cases where the supplemental police report indicates that the state already refused the case. What’s the message there? If the case is too weak for the state, it should be too weak for anybody.”

Meanwhile in Georgia: WALB : Mother critical after shot in the head by child

What about That Time Karl Rove Deleted 22 MILLION White House E-Mails And The Media Said Nothing |

That is an old link, from a post back in March, but I put it here to illustrate a point.

And finally, this clip from John Oliver,

So shut the door and post some links that you are reading about today.


Lazy Saturday Afternoon Reads: Deja Vu All Over Again

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Good Morning!!

Rudy Giuliani is old. He was born in 1944–too soon to be a baby boomer. He’s a throwback to the Vietnam era, and like quite a few old Republicans, he seems never to have grown emotionally or intellectually since that long-ago time.

This man is clearly a racist, a hater who holds ugly, judgmental attitudes toward anyone who doesn’t agree with him on every issue. He’s an unreconstructed George Wallace caricature. But even George Wallace developed some self-awareness late in life.

As everyone is aware by now, on Wednesday Giuliani gave a repulsive speech in which he attacked President of Obama’s patriotism and slimed Obama’s mother and grandparents. Politico reported: Rudy Giuliani: President Obama doesn’t love America.

Rudy Giuliani went straight for the jugular Wednesday night during a private group dinner here featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by openly questioning whether President Barack Obama “loves America.”

The former New York mayor, speaking in front of the 2016 Republican presidential contender and about 60 right-leaning business executives and conservative media types, directly challenged Obama’s patriotism, discussing what he called weak foreign policy decisions and questionable public remarks when confronting terrorists.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

After the Scott Walker event, Giuliani elaborated on his remarks about the President.

“What country has left so many young men and women dead abroad to save other countries without taking land? This is not the colonial empire that somehow he has in his hand. I’ve never felt that from him. I felt that from [George] W. [Bush]. I felt that from [Bill] Clinton. I felt that from every American president, including ones I disagreed with, including [Jimmy] Carter. I don’t feel that from President Obama.”

Giuliani then recalled his own comments condemning several major episodes from the early 1990s when Jews were targeted in Argentina and the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. That hard-line approach, Giuliani said, stands in contrast to the way Obama touched off a storm earlier this month during the National Prayer Breakfast by citing the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition as Christian examples of the way many religions have perpetrated horrible acts throughout history.

The older and meaner Rudy gets, the more his "smile" looks like a rictus.

The older and meaner Rudy gets, the more his “smile” looks like a rictus.

After pushback from Democrats and some writers, Guiliani only doubled down on his nasty characterizations of Obama’s thought and feelings. He’s a mind-reader, you see. Politico’s Nick Gass: Rudy Giuliani floods the zone with Obama attacks.

The former New York mayor and sometime presidential hopeful appeared on Fox News’ “The Kelly File” on Thursday night, and when asked by host Megyn Kelly whether he wanted to apologize for his comments, he declined.

 “Not at all. I want to repeat them,” he said. “The reality is, all I can see from this president, all I have heard from is he apologizes for America, he criticizes America. He talks about the Crusades and how the Christians were barbarians, leaves out the second half of the sentence that the Muslims were barbarians also.” [….]

“He sees Christians slaughtered and doesn’t stand up and hold a press conference, although he holds a press conference for the situation in Ferguson,” he said. “He sees Jews being killed for anti-Semitic reasons, doesn’t stand up and hold a press conference. This is an American president I’ve never seen before.”

Well, that’s true anyway. None of us had ever seen a black POTUS until 2008. Yes, even Fox News host Megyn Kelly apparently was shocked by Giuliani’s attacks on Obama’s patriotism. Mediaite reported:

Rudy Giuliani continued to defend his comments about President Barack Obama not “loving” America during a combative appearance on Fox News with Megyn Kelly Thursday night….

“To say that he doesn’t love america, I mean, that he could view foreign policy as a Democrat might view it and through a different lens than you or a Republican might see it, you can understand the differences between you,” Kelly said to Giuliani. “But to condemn his patriotism? To question his love of America?”

Giuliani insisted that he was not condemning Obama’s patriotism, but instead said he wanted to hear more from the president about how “exceptional” this country is.

“A lot of liberals don’t believe in American Exceptionalism,” Kelly shot back, “but that doesn’t mean they don’t love America.”

Giuliani went on to bring up Obama’s maternal grandfather, who fought in World War II, as someone  [who] introduced the president to “communist” ideas and then shifted gears to revive the 2008 uproar over Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

The Communist Party

The Communist Party

Mediaite left out the supposed source of those “communist ideas” Rudy was referring to. Unbelievably, the former NYC mayor actually brought up Frank Marshall Davis, a man Obama met when he was a child in Hawaii. Davis became an obsession among the RWNJ’s during the 2008 campaign Guiliani apparently believes all the garbage about Obama’s youth floating around right wing sites on the internet. Celeste Katz at the NY Daily News:

Trying to explain his controversial comments that President Obama doesn’t love America, Rudy Giuliani said Friday that he believes the President has been influenced by communism and socialism.

“Look, this man was brought up basically in a white family, so whatever he learned or didn’t learn, I attribute this more to the influence of communism and socialism” than to his race, Giuliani told the Daily News.

“I don’t (see) this President as being particularly a product of African-American society or something like that. He isn’t,” the former mayor added. “Logically, think about his background. . . The ideas that are troubling me and are leading to this come from communists with whom he associated when he was 9 years old” through family connections.

When Obama was 9, he was living in Indonesia with his mother and his stepfather. Giuliani said he was referencing Obama’s grandfather having introduced him to Frank Marshall Davis, a member of the Communist Party.

The former mayor also brought up Obama’s relationship with “quasi-communist” community organizer Saul Alinsky and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

If you do a google search for Frank Marshall Davis, you’ll find that many right wing sites even claimed Davis was Obama’s real father!

chickenhawk

Back in the Vietnam War era, during which Giuliani’s stunted brain apparently stopped developing, “America: love it or leave it” was a comment refrain used by right wingers to attack people who wanted to bring American troops home rather than let them continue to die year after year in a pointless war in distant jungles. Many of those “love it or leave it” shouters were chicken hawks like Giuliani, former President George W. Bush, his brother Jeb Bush, and former Vice President Dick Cheney. In contrast, men like George McGovern and John Kerry who had served in foreign wars were viciously vilified for telling the truth about Vietnam.

Oh yes, Rudy could have fought in Vietnam, but instead, he obtained multiple deferments. From New York Magazine in 2007, Rudy and ’Nam:

Rudy Giuliani, speaking about terrorism and the Iraq war, said last week, “It is something I understand better than anyone else running for president.”

That was when Rudy was running for president against actual war veteran John McCain!

To recap: After receiving several deferments as a student, Giuliani applied for an occupational deferment as a law clerk, but his application was rejected. Giuliani appealed their decision, and asked the federal judge he was clerking for to petition the draft board for him. Which the judge did. When his deferment expired in 1970, Giuliani became susceptible to the draft. He received a high number and was never called. Giuliani “has made it clear that if he had been called up, he would have served,” says Katie Levinson, Giuliani’s spokesperson. He was opposed to the war in Vietnam on “strategic and tactical” grounds, she says. Asked to clarify what tactics Giuliani opposed, Levinson declined to offer specifics. “Voters will choose the next commander-in-chief based on their whole record, and we believe the mayor’s record speaks for itself.”

Yes, it certainly does.

Git out

Those of us who grew up in the 1950s and ’60s went to schools where we studied American history and were required to take “Civics,” so we could understand the basics of how our government worked. That’s no longer happening in much of the country. We have billionaires like the Koch brothers working to limit kids’ educational opportunities and fill their textbooks with lies. Many younger people don’t have the educational foundation to understand and give context to Giuliani’s hate-filled words. I fear that in my lifetime I’ll never see the end of the social and ideological divisions that began when I was just a kid and the Vietnam war was raging.

Yesterday, Dakinikat posted a link to this NY Daily News op-ed by Giuliani biographer Wayne Barrett. Everyone should read this amazing takedown: What Rudy Giuliani knows about love — a response to his ‘doesn’t love America’ critique of Obama.

Ask Regina Peruggi, the second cousin he grew up with and married, who was “offended” when Rudy later engineered an annulment from the priest who was his best man on the grounds, strangely enough, that she was his cousin. Or ask Donna Hanover, the mother of his two children, who found out he wanted a separation when he left Gracie Mansion one morning and announced it at a televised press conference.

Or ask Judi Nathan, his third wife, whom he started dating while still married to Hanover and New York mayor. In two SUVs, he and an entourage of six or seven cops traveled 11 times to Judi’s Hamptons getaway at a taxpayer cost of $3,000 a trip. That’s love.

In response to Giuliani’s claims about Obama’s upbringing, Barrett wrote:

Giuliani went so far as to rebuke the President for not being “brought up the way you were and the way I was brought up through love of this country,” a bow no doubt to the parenting prowess of Harold Giuliani, who did time in Sing Sing for holding up a Harlem milkman and was the bat-wielding enforcer for the loan-sharking operation run out of a Brooklyn bar owned by Rudy’s uncle.

Though Rudy cited Harold throughout his public life as his model (without revealing any of his history), he and five Rudy uncles found ways to avoid service in World War II. Harold, whose robbery conviction was in the name of an alias, made sure the draft board knew he was a felon. On the other hand, Obama’s grandfather and uncle served. His uncle helped liberate Buchenwald, which apparently affected him so deeply he stayed in the family attic for six months when he returned home.

Please go read the rest at the Daily News link.

yogi-berra-quotes-12

Here are some more responses to Giuliani’s hateful attacks for your Saturday reading pleasure.

Two from Jonathan Capehart: Rudy Giuliani dives into Dinesh D’Souza’s anti-Obama dumpster and Giuliani continues his ugly race to the bottom against Obama.

Jamie Bouie: The Past Perfect. It’s absurd to question Obama’s patriotism. But Rudy Giuliani is right that Obama isn’t like his predecessors.

David A. Graham at The Atlantic: What Does It Mean for Obama to Love or Hate America?

Amy Davidson at The New Yorker: Rudy Giuliani and the Meaning of Love.

Jeffrey Toobin at The New Yorker: The Paranoid Style of Rudy Giuliani.

Philip Bump at The Fix: Rudy Giuliani and the ‘love it or leave it’ view of America.

So that’s my take on the Rudy ruckus. What stories are you following today?

 


Thursday Reads

Mt. Rainier avalanche

Mt. Rainier avalanche

Good Morning!!

Tales from the frozen Northeast

Yesterday evening in Cambridge, MA, five people were hit by an “avalanche” of snow that slid off the roof of the local skating rink.

The Boston Globe reports: Five trapped by snow falling from roof of Cambridge ice rink.

One man was completely buried and four other adults were briefly trapped Wednesday evening after snow fell from the roof of a Cambridge skating rink, a police spokesman said.

Four men and one woman were walking on a path between Gold Star Mothers Park and the Simoni Memorial Rink, just south of the McGrath Highway, when a “very compact” section of snow about 30 feet wide and up to 5 feet deep fell from the roof just past 6 p.m., said Jeremy Warnick, a Cambridge police spokesman.

A witness called police, who used snow shovels provided by people at the scene to begin the search for a 34-year-old Cambridge man, the twin brother of another man in the group, who was covered in snow, Warnick said.

His twin and other two men, ages 31 and 30, were briefly buried to the chest but were able to extricate themselves, Warnick said. A 20-year-old woman in the group was not completely buried but suffered injuries to her neck and shoulders, he said.

Cambridge firefighters came to assist the rescue effort, and the Somerville Department of Public Works provided two front-end loaders to remove remaining snow. All five who were hit by the snow had been accounted for by 6:23 p.m., Warnick said. He did not release their identities.

From WBZ (CBS Local Boston), Two People Buried By Falling Snow In Cambridge.

Two people were buried when a massive amount of snow fell off a Cambridge ice rink Wednesday night.

Cambridge Police say five adults were walking down the sidewalk next to the rink when the snow fell.

Dan Delongchamp was the first person on scene and started digging. “I want to say it was five minutes of terror,” Delongchamp said. “Digging in the snow trying to find somebody, it was terrible.”

Delongchamp, of Somerville, was riding his bike near the rink when the snow fell. He wants to be a professional bike driver. If you want to become a pro biker, you better read this review about bmx bikes first.

“We kept shoveling, kept shoveling, and finally I reached down and I felt something soft, and said this isn’t snow, and it was him,” Delongchamp said.

A 33-year-old man and 20-year-old woman, both of Cambridge – were stuck under the weight of five feet of snow.

Angelo Ciardiello and his crew were around the corner removing snow for the City of Somerville when they learned of the emergency at the nearby Simoni Ice Rink in Cambridge.

“I’d never seen anything like that,” Ciardiello said. “They were buried up to their chest. They were panicked, they were scared.”

Unbelievable.

Snow jumperThe latest craze for younger adults in Boston is jumping or diving out windows and off balconies into deep snow. It has gotten so crazy that the Mayor felt he had to say something about this dangerous pastime.

USA Today reports: Boston mayor to snow daredevils: Chill out.

Think before you jump. Or, don’t jump at all.

That’s the message Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told snow-bound Bostonians at a press conference Tuesday.

Apparently, some of the city’s stir-crazy, thrill-seeking residents are taking to social media with videos of them jumping out of windows into massive snowdrifts.

“I’m asking people to stop their nonsense right now. These are adults jumping out windows. It’s a foolish thing to do, and you could kill yourself,” Walsh said, according to a video of his remarks from the Boston Herald….

“This isn’t Loon Mountain, this is the city of Boston, where we’re trying to remove snow off of the street and it becomes very dangerous. And the last thing we want to do is respond to an emergency call where somebody jumped out of the window because they thought it was a funny thing to do,” Walsh said.

FYI: Loon Mountain is a ski resort in New Hampshire. See more snow diving and jumping photos at The Daily Mail.

Check out this dramatic video of a snow dive:

At MIT, maintenance workers have piled up the snow removed from streets and sidewalks on campus into a huge five-story high  “mountain” on Albany Street near classroom buildings and student dorms. There’s a fence around the area, but people are still getting in to climb the “MIT Alps” and slide down again. Here’s a photo posted on Twitter by Susie Blackmon (via Bustle)

MIT mountain1 daily mail

 

 “Superbug Nightmare” in Los Angeles

If you thought the measles outbreak in California was scary, “you ain’t heard nothing yet,” as Al Jolson used to say.

From the AP, via ABC News: 7 Infected, 2 Dead After ‘Superbug’ Outbreak at Hospital.

Contaminated medical instruments are to blame for infecting seven patients — including two who died — with an antibiotic-resistant and potentially deadly “superbug” at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, hospital officials said. A total of 179 patients may be infected.

They were exposed to Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, during endoscopic procedures between October and January when it was discovered during tests on a patient, said Dale Tate, a University of California, Los Angeles spokeswoman.

The potentially infected patients are being sent free home-testing kits that UCLA will analyze, the university said.

The bacteria may have been a “contributing factor” in the deaths of two patients, a university statement said.

From Mother Jones: A Superbug Nightmare Is Playing Out at an LA Hospital.

In today’s terrifying health news, the LA Timesreports that two medical scopes used at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center may have been contaminated with the potentially deadly, antibiotic-resistant bacteria Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). Two patients have died from complications that may be connected to the bacteria, and authorities believe that 179 more patients have been exposed.

Most healthy people aren’t at risk of catching a CRE infection, but in hospitals this bacteria can be quite dangerous: CRE kills as many as half of all people in whom the infection has spread to the bloodstream. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working with the CA Department of Public Health to investigate the situation, which is expected to result in more infections.

The problem isn’t just in Los Angeles, though. Last month USA Today reported that hospitals around the country struggle with transmissions of bacteria on these scopes—medical devices commonly used to treat digestive-system problems—and there have been several other under-the-radar outbreaks of CRE.

This is pretty scary stuff, considering that in the antibiotics arms race against bacteria, we are starting to fall behind. Due in large part to unnecessary medical prescriptions and overuse of antibiotics in our food supply, these superbugs are on the rise. In a study published last year that focused specifically on hospitals in the Southeastern United States, researchers reported that CRE cases had increased fivefold between 2008 and 2012.

CRE “superbug” backteria

This just reinforces my determination to stay away from antibiotics, doctors, and hospitals unless I’m really sick–like with a 103 degree temperature or something. A little more from the AP article quoted above:

The two medical devices carried the bacteria even though they were sterilized according to the manufacturer’s specifications, UCLA said. “We removed the infected instruments, and we have heightened the sterilization process,” Tate said.

The CDC said that national figures on the bacteria are not kept, but 47 states have seen cases.

Since 2012, there have been about a half-dozen outbreaks reaching as many as 150 patients, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the UCLA outbreak.

One outbreak occurred in Illinois in 2013. Dozens of patients were exposed to CRE, with some cases apparently linked to a tainted endoscope used at a hospital.

A Seattle hospital, Virginia Mason Medical Center, reported in January that CRE linked to an endoscope sickened at least 35 patients, and 11 died, although it was unclear whether the infection played a role in their deaths.

According to the LA Times, as many as 179 patients may have been exposed to CRE in the past several months.

UCLA said it discovered the outbreak late last month while running tests on a patient. This week, it began to notify 179 other patients who were treated from October to January and offer them medical tests. By some estimates, if the infection spreads to a person’s bloodstream, the bacteria can kill 40% to 50% of patients.

At issue is a specialized endoscope inserted down the throats of about 500,000 patients annually to treat cancers, gallstones and other ailments of the digestive system.

These duodenoscopes are considered minimally invasive, and doctors credit them for saving lives through early detection and treatment. But medical experts say some scopes can be difficult to disinfect through conventional cleaning because of their design, so bacteria are transmitted from patient to patient.

These instruments are not the same type used in more routine endoscopies and colonoscopies.

The procedure in question is known as ERCP, or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. The superbug is carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae.

Read much more at the link.

Jeb Bush meets the media

Bush brothers

“I’m my own man,” Jeb Bush announced in a speech yesterday. From Reuters:

Republican Jeb Bush staked out a robust vision for U.S. foreign policy in line with party doctrine on Wednesday and sought to ease concerns that he might be influenced by his powerful political family by insisting, “I’m my own man.”

A frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, Bush said he would back a global strategy against Islamic State that “takes them out.”

But he offered no specifics on how to do this and avoided military threats that could reawaken memories of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq launched by his older brother, former President George W. Bush, over weapons of mass destruction that were never found.

Speaking at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the former Florida governor struck a balance between respecting the service of his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and brother, while suggesting he would make decisions based on circumstances neither of them had to face.

“I’m my own man, and my views are shaped by my own thinking and my own experiences,” Bush said.

Bush’s claim was undermined by his list of foreign policy advisers. The Washington Post reports: Jeb Bush vows to set his own course while tapping longtime family advisers.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush on Wednesday promised to chart his own course on foreign policy — even as he announced a campaign brain trust associated, in part, with the most contentious policies of his brother’s and father’s presidencies….

In his prepared remarks, Bush mentioned Iraq, where his father and brother waged wars, only in passing — including once by mistake, when he meant to say Iran.

But in a question-and-answer session afterward, Bush addressed the troubled conflict in Iraq during his brother’s administration. “There were mistakes made in Iraq for sure,” he said….

The threat of Iran as a nuclear power is “the defining foreign policy issue of our time,” Bush contended, arguing that the Obama administration has shown itself “unequal to the task.” ….

Meanwhile, the 21 names announced by his campaign-in-waiting as supporters and advisers on foreign policy did not provide much indication of what direction Bush would take.

The list represents the full spectrum of views within the Republican foreign policy establishment — from relative moderates, including former secretaries of state George P. Shultz and James A. Baker III, to staunch neoconservatives such as Iraq war architect Paul D. Wolfowitz.

Yikes!

bush-2000

A few more Jeb links:

The Atlantic: If Jeb Bush Isn’t George W. Bush, Who Is He?

The Fix: Jeb Bush’s foreign policy team is eerily familiar, in one Venn diagram.

Think Progress: Jeb Bush’s Attack On Obama Over Iran Goes Horribly Wrong.

Buzzfeed: Jeb Bush Makes Vague First Foray Into Foreign Policy.

Washington Monthly: Politico Makes Case For Just Declaring Jeb Bush President Right Now.

More News Links

New York Magazine: Justice Department May Sue Ferguson Police Over Racial Bias.

Talking Points Memo: South Dakota Lawmaker says ‘Planned Parenthood Worse Than ISIS’

Undercover Michigan: Michigan Woman dies after accidently shooting herself while Adjusting Bra Holster.

The Missing Leak Sports Blog: Time for Goodell to Step Down?

Tom Curran at Comcast Sportsnet New England: Another black eye for NFL in Deflategate quest.

Politico: Rudy Giuliani says President Obama doesn’t love America (Giuliani supports Scott Walker.)

The Guardian: Chapel Hill ‘hate crime’ response criticised by Muslim lawmaker Keith Ellison.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a tremendous Thursday!

 

 


Tuesday Reads: Can The News Get Any Worse? Probably.

 8.15matisse-inattentive-reader-1919

Good Morning!!

It’s difficult to imagine how the news can get any worse . . . and then it does.

Bloomberg: CIA Torture Report Set for Senate Release Over Bush Objections.

Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) — The Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee are preparing to issue their report on the harsh interrogation tactics the CIA used on terrorism suspects, defying the objections of current and former U.S. officials including former President George W. Bush.

The panel plans to release today a summary of a 6,200-page report concluding that the Central Intelligence Agency used extreme interrogation methods at secret prisons more often than legally authorized and failed to disclose all the activities to lawmakers and other officials.

Despite warnings from opponents of the report’s release, including some Republicans on the panel, that Americans would face retaliation overseas, President Barack Obama supports making the conclusions public, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said yesterday.

“The president believes that, on principle, it’s important to release that report, so that people around the world and people here at home understand exactly what transpired,” he said. Earnest said the administration has taken steps to improve security at U.S. facilities around the world.

Read the arguments for and against releasing the report at the link.  A brief summary of the conflict at USA Today: Obama, Bush teams battle over torture report. Of course Dick Cheney felt the need to butt in.

While Obama and aides support release of the report as to way to prevent future abuses, some Bush administration officials call it partisan second-guessing of techniques that proved necessary during the war on terrorism.

“What I keep hearing out there is they portray this as a rogue operation and the agency was way out of bounds and then they lied about it,” former vice president Dick Cheney told The New York Times. “I think that’s all a bunch of hooey. The program was authorized. The agency did not want to proceed without authorization, and it was also reviewed legally by the Justice Department before they undertook the program.” [….]

The dispute between Obama and Bush officials revolves around the legality of the interrogation programs and whether they yielded valuable intelligence as the U.S. raced to block terrorism in the years following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Cheney and other Bush administration officials say the programs yielded actionable intelligence that helped uncover possible terrorist plots.

Congressional Democrats say the report shows that tactics like waterboarding yielded nothing that could not have been obtained by other means.

The two sides agree on one thing: Release of the Senate report, detailing some of the less savory methods used to extract testimony from terrorism suspects, could lead to violent, anti-American protests in some countries.

Matisse woman reading2

Reuters has a minor preview on the contents of the report: Sexual threats, other CIA methods detailed in Senate report.

The report, which Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said would be released on Tuesday, describes how al Qaeda operative Abdel Rahman al Nashiri, suspected mastermind of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, was threatened with a buzzing power drill, the sources said. The drill was never actually used on him.

It documents how at least one detainee was sexually threatened with a broomstick, the sources said.

Preparing for a worldwide outcry from the publication of such graphic details, the White House and U.S. intelligence officials said on Monday they had shored up security of U.S. facilities worldwide.

The report, which took years to produce, charts the history of the CIA’s “Rendition, Detention and Interrogation” program, which President George W. Bush authorized after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Bush ended many aspects of the program before leaving office, and President Barack Obama swiftly banned “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which critics say are torture, after his 2009 inauguration.

The Christian Science Monitor asks what I think is an irrelevant question: Did torture yield results? I really don’t care; some things are just wrong period.

The 480-page document reveals the results of Senate investigation into the CIA’s use of torture and other techniques that violate international law against prisoners held on terrorism-related charges. Though many details of the Senate’s findings will remain classified – the document is a summary of a 6,000-page report that is not being released – the report is expected to conclude that the methods used by the CIA to interrogate prisoners during the post-9/11 years were more extreme than previously admitted and produced no intelligence that could not have been acquired through legal means….

The Los Angeles Times writes that the report is expected to say that the CIA used methods of “waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress positions and other so-called enhanced interrogation techniques more frequently than was legally authorized at then-secret prisons known as ‘black sites.’ ”

The report will also likely state that the intelligence acquired from the use of such techniques was not useful to finding Osama bin Laden or preventing attacks on US interests, and “nearly all the intelligence gleaned through harsh techniques could have been obtained from more traditional intelligence-gathering systems,” the Times adds.

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We probably should brace for attacks on President Obama for daring to go on BET and talk about racism and then follow that up by joking around with Stephen Colbert.

BET Exclusive: Obama Talks Race, Racism and How Far America Has to Go. Watch the interview at the link. Joyce Jones highlights the main points:

Barack Obama – not the president, but the man – has a dream: his children will be viewed as individuals and judged not by the color of their skin but based on the content of their character, their behavior and their talents and gifts. Sadly, he observed in an exclusive interview with BET Networks, “misguided attitudes” mean that people of color still have less margin for error, particularly if they are male….

Hours before the interview aired, his critics on the right began lashing out at him for, according to Breitbart News, “playing the race card more overtly than ever before.” Others will say it’s about time he spoke up about the series of police-involved deaths of a disproportionate number of African-American men, which he acknowledged. But he also said that “institutionally” he is required to remain silent during the investigations of those incidents, which would be compromised “if it appeared that I was trying to steer to a particular outcome.”

That doesn’t mean he does not empathize with those who’ve expressed their anger and frustration more publically. The president recalled a meeting he had last week that included several young African-American leaders whose experiences of being stopped or treated suspiciously for no reason reminded him of his own. He also said that as long as the protests remain peaceful, they are necessary.

More details from CNN:

“I’m going to stay on this,” the President said Monday in an interview with BET, a network that reaches a predominately young African-American audience. “Not only am I going to stay on it … but hopefully the entire society says, ‘Let’s finally try to make some real progress on this.'”

Once criticized for shying away from the topic of race early on in his presidency, Obama has recently taken a more active role in sharing how his personal experiences help him to empathize with all kinds of people affected by the recent protests on racial tensions — from protesters, to victims, to law enforcement officers, to families, and most importantly, to black youth.

In his interview with BET’s “106 & Park,” the President cited a meeting he had with nonviolent protesters Monday — between ages 18-25. For him, he says, listening to young African-Americans describe their own experiences of being stopped for no reason, or being unjustly labeled as suspicious, strikes a personal chord.

“My mind went back to what it was like for me when I was 17, 18, 20,” the President said. “As I told them, not only do I hear the pain and frustration of being subjected to that kind of constant suspicion, part of the reason I got into politics was to figure out how can I bridge some of those gaps and understandings so that the larger country understands this is not just a black problem or a brown problem, this is an American problem.”

The President also made a point to invoke Attorney General Eric Holder’s race and civil rights record, saying, “He’s got a similar set of stories and experiences he can share.”

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The Boston Globe on Obama’s Colbert Report appearance:

Obama kicked off the show sitting in for Colbert to perform a regular feature of the program called ‘‘The Word’’ wherein Colbert’s rants are accompanied by snarky messages to the audience.

So when Obama, as Colbert, declared that there are aspects of ‘‘Obamacare’’ that people from both parties actually like, the text aside to the audience read, ‘‘Everything but the Obama.’’

Later, Colbert observed that the economy had been creating more jobs of late.

‘‘You have employed a lot of people — mostly as secretary of defense,’’ Colbert cracked in a reference to Obama recently nominating his fourth top civilian at the Pentagon.

‘‘That’s boosted our numbers a little bit,’’ Obama replied.

Colbert, whose on-screen persona is that of an insufferable conservative scold, accused Obama of exceeding his authority on immigration. ‘‘When did you decide to burn the Constitution and become emperor?’’ he asked. The question was heard as a joke by many in the audience at George Washington University. But to Obama’s critics, the question had a ring of truth.

Obama dropped the comedy and replied, ‘‘Actually, Steve, everything that we have done is scrupulously within the law and has been done by previous Democratic and Republican presidents.’’

Watch part of the episode at the link.

Matisse the red table

You know how Republicans are constantly claiming that their anti-abortion laws are designed to keep women safe? From Think Progress: Large Study Confirms That Abortion Is Extremely Safe.

After analyzing data from nearly 55,000 women who received abortion care under California’s Medicaid program, researchers at UC San Francisco concluded that hardly any of them had serious complications within six weeks of their procedure. Just 126 cases necessitated follow-up care for surgery, a blood transfusion, or other conditions that require hospital admission.

Other studies, including data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have also confirmed abortion’s safety. We already had some evidence, for instance, that giving birth is about 14 times riskierthan having an abortion. But the new UCSF study goes a bit further than previous research by tracking the complete data on all of the health care used by women who have received abortions. Since many women have to travel long distances to end a pregnancy, the UCSF researchers also examined women’s follow-up care at facilities closer to where they live….

Despite the mounting evidence in this area, the notion that abortion may be dangerous for women is a pervasive assumption that hasbolstered the passage of dozens of state laws tightening restrictions on clinics and doctors. In a press release announcing their findings, the study authors indicated that they hope the new study “will contribute to the national debate over abortion safety.”

“Abortion is very safe as currently performed, which calls into question the need for additional regulations that purportedly aim to improve safety,” said Ushma Upadhyay, an assistant professor at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a leading research program based at UCSF.

Of course scientific studies won’t move right wing extremists, who do not believe in science in the first place.

The moorish floor

Yesterday I was relieved to see many women writers pushing back against the UVA rape story backlash and asking readers to remember that “Jackie” is a real person with real emotions, and the kinds of memory failures she may have evidenced are comment in human beings. I’m running out of space, so I’ll just provide some links to some of the articles I found.

From Buzzfeed, Annie Clark writes: There Are Too Many Jackies.

Clark and her friend Andrea Pino were students at UC Chapel Hill when they were sexually assaulted. Together they filed a complaint with the Department of Education under Title IX. Their work is what triggered the Obama administration to take a stronger position on sexual assaults on college campuses.

Read about it in Vogue, Campus Sexual Assault: Annie E. Clark and Andrea Pino Are Fighting Back—And Shaping the National Debate. Clark and Pino started an organization called End Rape on Campus (EROC).

More important articles:

Roxanne Gay, Our Stories.

TPM, UVA Rape Victim’s Roommate Says Her Story Is Not A ‘Hoax’.

Buzzfeed, How Police And Hospitals Shut Down Rape Victims.

Jessica Valenti, Who is Jackie? Rolling Stone’s rape story is about a person – and I believe her.

Amanda Marcotte, UVA controversy allows woman-haters to get really, really ugly.

Maya Dusenbery, On Rolling Stone, lessons from fact-checking, and the limits of journalism.

Caroline Fairchild, Why the media obsession with Rolling Stone’s UVA rape story is all wrong.

Matisse.Woman-with-a-Veil-cr

Finally, some NBA players have begun wearing “I Can’t Breathe T-Shirts.”

From ESPN, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving address reasons for ‘I can’t breathe’ shirts.

NEW YORK — As he stood amid 70 or so media members inside a cramped Cavaliers locker room Monday night, LeBron James explained the significance of the powerful words that stretched across his torso during pregame warmups.

“If it feels important to me then I respond,” said James, who wore a black t-shirt with the words “I CAN’T BREATHE” prior to the start of his team’s game against the Nets at the Barclays Center. “If it doesn’t, I don’t. There are a lot of issues I have not talked about. For me, it is about knowledge and about a gut feeling that hits home for you. You feel it, and go about it.” [….]

…the story of the night was the activism of a number of NBA players. Before the game, the Cavaliers’ James, Kyrie Irving and the Nets’ Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett among others all wore the same black t-shirts. They are the latest professional athletes to make a personal statement on the death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Staten Island man who was killed on July 17 after he was wrestled to the ground and choked to death by police officers arresting him for selling untaxed cigarettes. Last week a Staten Island grand jury decided not to bring charges in the police-involved death. That decision has prompted protests around the country, as protesters have mobilized around Garner’s last words: “I can’t breathe.” A video recording of the arrest has been viewed by millions.

Unbeknownst to the players, protesters swarmed Atlantic Avenue outside the Barclays Center during the game, holding a “die-in” to protest the Garner ruling. The hashtag #RoyalShutdown was used by activists on Twitter as a rallying point.

That’s all I have. What stories are you following today? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and enjoy your Tuesday.

 

 

 


Monday Reads

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Good Morning!!

 

Things are not going well in Iraq, to put it mildly. John Kerry arrived in Iraq this morning and is currently meeting with Iraqi leaders, according to CNN: John Kerry holds talks in Iraq as more cities fall to ISIS militants.

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) — As radical Sunni militants snatch city after city in their march toward Baghdad, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Iraq on Monday during the country’s tensest time since the U.S. withdrawal of troops in 2011.

Kerry is meeting with Iraqi leaders. He met Monday with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the man who some observers say needs to step down.

With al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government losing more ground to militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, Kerry has implored the leader to rise above “sectarian motivations” to become more inclusive and make the government more representative of Iraq’s population.

“I’m here to convey to you President Obama’s and the American people’s commitment to help Iraq,” Kerry said when greeting Iraq’s speaker of parliament, Osama al-Nujayfi. “The principal concern is the integrity of the country, its borders, its sovereignty,” he said. ISIS “is a threat to all of us.”

Kerry will also meet with Iraq’s foreign minister as well as Shiite and Sunni leaders.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and US Secretary of State John Kerry meet at the Prime Minister's Office in Baghdad. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and US Secretary of State John Kerry meet at the Prime Minister’s Office in Baghdad. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The discussions with the Maliki government are not likely to be particularly congenial. According to NPR:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Baghdad on Monday to personally urge the Shiite-led government to give more power to political opponents before a Sunni insurgency seizes more control across the country and sweeps away hopes for lasting peace.

The meeting scheduled between Kerry and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was not expected to be friendly, given that officials in Washington have floated suggestions that the Iraqi premier should resign as a necessary first step toward quelling the vicious uprising. Nor will it likely bring any immediate, tangible results, as al-Maliki has shown no sign of leaving and Iraqi officials have long listened to — but ultimately ignored — U.S. advice to avoid appearing controlled by the decade-old specter of an American occupation in Baghdad.

Still, having suffered together through more than eight years of war — which killed nearly 4,500 American troops and more than 100,000 Iraqis — the two wary allies are unwilling to turn away from the very real prospect of the Mideast nation falling into a fresh bout of sectarian strife.

“This is a critical moment where, together, we must urge Iraq’s leaders to rise above sectarian motivations and form a government that is united in its determination to meet the needs and speak to the demands of all of their people,” Kerry said a day earlier in Cairo. He was there in part to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to and discuss a regional solution to end the bloodshed by the insurgent Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

Good luck with that. I wish Hillary were still in charge at State.

From Jay Solomon at The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Faces Opposing Regional Interests in Bid to Blunt Insurgency in Iraq.

AMMAN, Jordan—As the Obama administration’s top diplomat arrived in the Middle East to gather support to blunt a Sunni insurgency in Iraq, the U.S. was colliding with the region’s ethnic, tribal and sectarian divisions.

Deep gaps between U.S. and Arab views over the crisis have grown more obvious in recent days, say American and regional officials, hampering Washington’s response to the onslaught by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, which this month seized control of territories straddling Iraq and Syria.

The task gained new urgency on Sunday when ISIS swept through new Iraq towns and overran two border crossings with Jordan and Syria, blocking the Iraqi government’s access to its western frontier, security officials said.

President Barack Obama raised the stakes on Sunday, telling CBS News that ISIS threatens American interests if it turns to global terrorism, two days after he announced plans to send U.S. military advisers and supplies to Iraq and called for a new, more inclusive government in Baghdad.

The crisis in Iraq has exposed contradictions in traditional Mideast alliances, in some ways placing the U.S. alongside its sworn enemy, Shiite-ruled Iran, in a joint effort to halt ISIS, while in other ways putting Washington at odds with longtime Sunni allies in the Persian Gulf, who want to weaken Iran’s sway over Iraq.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei in 2009

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei in 2009

Meanwhile, yesterday, according to Reuters:

Iran’s supreme leader accused the United States on Sunday of trying to retake control of Iraq by exploiting sectarian rivalries, as Sunni insurgents drove towards Baghdad from new strongholds along the Syrian border.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s condemnation of U.S. action came three days after President Barack Obama offered to send 300 military advisers to help the Iraqi government. Khamenei may want to block any U.S. choice of a new prime minister after grumbling in Washington about Shi’ite premier Nuri al-Maliki.

The supreme leader did not mention the Iranian president’s recent suggestion of cooperation with Shi’ite Tehran’s old U.S. adversary in defense of their mutual ally in Baghdad.

On Sunday, militants overran a second frontier post on the Syrian border, extending two weeks of swift territorial gains as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) pursues the goal of its own power base, a “caliphate” straddling both countries that has raised alarm across the Middle East and in the West.

“We are strongly opposed to U.S. and other intervention in Iraq,” IRNA news agency quoted Khamenei as saying. “We don’t approve of it as we believe the Iraqi government, nation and religious authorities are capable of ending the sedition.”

Will we ever be rid of these insane wars started by Dick Cheney and his puppet George W. Bush? At least Bush has the decency to keep quiet, but Cheney just won’t shut up even though he has no answers for the current crisis. From Raw Story: Dick Cheney doesn’t ‘intend any disrespect’ by suggesting Obama ‘guilty of treason’

Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday insisted that he did not “intend any disrespect” when he suggested that President Barack Obama was guilty of treason by trying to undermine the United States before leaving office.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week, Cheney — and his daughter Liz — said that the president was “determined to leave office ensuring he has taken America down a notch.”

He went on to suggest that Obama was a “fool” if he intended to work with Iran to prevent violence in Iraq.

“In this op-ed, you suggest the president is a fool,” ABC’s Jonathan Karl pointed out during a Sunday interview with Cheney. “That is the word you used, ‘only a fool would take the approach he’s taking in Iraq right now.’”

“It almost seems like you’re accusing the president of treason, that he’s intentionally bringing America ‘down a notch,’” Karl noted.

Cheney did not deny that he had accused the commander-in-chief of the United States of treason, but he insisted that he had not just called Obama a “fool” over the violence in Iraq.

“It referred to the fact that we’ve left a big vacuum in the Middle East by our withdrawal from Iraq with a no stay-behind agreement,” the former vice president said. “By the commitment that he made just a few weeks ago, that we are going to completely withdraw from Afghanistan with a no stay-behind agreement.”

See also, Dick Cheney’s amazing chutzpah on Iraq, by Paul Waldman (CNN)

Cheney needs to STFU and go on a hunting trip or something. Maybe he could take Tony Scalia with him.

 

In other news . . .

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Right wing nut and birther Ed Klein has a new Hillary hate book out, and the New York Post has been publishing laughable excerpts. The trouble is, the wingnuts will believe the lies and the media won’t counter them. Be sure to read what Joseph Cannon has to say about the De-KLEIN of journalism.

Why does anyone still print or read right-wing pseudojournalist Edward Klein?

A while back, this fictioneer published a book alleging a lesbian relationship between Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin — a work which one critic called “the sleaziest, most derivative, most despicable political biography ever.” Klein’s revelations always come from anonymous “informants” — one of whom, I’ve heard, is Slender Man.

Klein has a new book out and the NY Post is pushing it, even though the folks running the NY Post must know that they’re peddling garbage….

Anyone who takes this nonsense seriously must also believe that wrestling is real. Nevertheless, the right-wing propagandists are pretending to accept Klein’s work at face value. (See also here, especially the telling piece of “Hildebeest” research.)

This is a horrible story from the AP via Fox News: Researchers discover mass graves with bodies of immigrants in South Texas cemetery.

Volunteer researchers have uncovered mass graves in a South Texas cemetery that they believe contain the bodies of immigrants who died crossing into the U.S. illegally, according to published reports Saturday.

The discovery at Sacred Heart Burial Park in Falfurrias came in the last two weeks, as Baylor University anthropologist Lori Baker and Krista Latham, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Indianapolis, and their students worked as part of a multi-year effort to identify immigrants who’ve died in the area near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Teams unearthed remains in trash bags, shopping bags, body bags or without a container at all, according to the Corpus Christi Caller Times (http://bit.ly/1qqH7CZ ). In one burial, bones of three bodies were inside one body bag. In another, at least five people in body bags and smaller plastic bags were piled on top of each other. Skulls also were found in biohazard bags placed between coffins.

They exhumed 110 unidentified people from the cemetery in 2013. This summer, researchers have performed 52 exhumations, but because some remains were stored together, further study will be needed to determine exactly how many bodies have been recovered, Baker said.

These people just suddenly dropped dead as they crossed the border? Apparently this is the work of a local funeral home, Funeraria del Angel Howard-Williams, which the state has been paying $450 each to deal with bodies of immigrants that have been discovered all over Texas. The funeral home has been paid for this service for at least 16 and as long as 22 years! Were there any autopsies? Did anyone determine whether any of these deaths were homicides?

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We haven’t heard much about Bowe Bergdhal lately. Via The Boston Globe, the AP reports this morning that he has been “Shifted to Outpatient Care.”

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been a prisoner of war in Afghanistan for five years, has been shifted to outpatient care at a Texas military base, the U.S. Army said in a statement Sunday.

Bergdahl, 28, had been receiving inpatient treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston. He is now receiving outpatient care on the base in San Antonio, according to the statement. The Army said his ‘‘reintegration process’’ is proceeding with exposure to more people and a gradual increase in social interaction.

He arrived at the Texas medical center on June 13 after nearly two weeks recuperating at a U.S. military hospital in Germany. Army officials said then that Bergdahl was in stable condition and was working daily with health care providers to regain a sense of normalcy and move forward with his life.

The Army statement Sunday said Bergdahl is receiving counseling from ‘‘Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape’’ psychologists’’ to ‘‘continue to ensure he progresses to the point where he can return to duty.’’

The Army said specifics of Bergdahl’s location would not be made public.

That’s it for me for today, except that I’ve become a World cup fan and I might even watch some of the games the US team isn’t participating in. Ralph’s enthusiasm has sucked me in!

What stories are you following today? Please let us know in the comment thread.

 

 


Caturday Reads

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Good Morning!!

It’s another three day weekend, and it’s really quiet around here. I never thought about MLK Day being a big vacation weekend, but I was out in the car yesterday and the streets were dead. Where do these people go–the ones with enough money to get out of town? Florida? New Hampshire? I don’t know, but it’s nice when they aren’t clogging up the streets with their cars.

I expect it will be a slow news weekend too, except for the football games tomorrow. Let’s see what I can find out there in cyberspace.

Of course there’s the speech President Obama gave yesterday on NSA reforms. To be honest, I didn’t watch it. I’d rather just wait and see what happens. Here are a few reactions to Obama’s proposals.

Of course Glenn Greenwald hated it, as he wrote in an op-ed for the Guardian: Obama’s NSA ‘reforms’ are little more than a PR attempt to mollify the public. I tried to slog my way through it, but I couldn’t. He’s such a terrible writer–always nearly hysterical with rage and with absolutely no sense of humor to take the edge of his sarcasm and bile. He did end with a not-so-subtle threat to keep releasing U.S. intelligence secrets until America finally gives up spying altogether and accedes to Greenwald’s demands.

Today’s speech should be seen as the first step, not the last, on the road to restoring privacy. The causes that drove Obama to give this speech need to be, and will be, stoked and nurtured further until it becomes clear to official Washington that, this time around, cosmetic gestures are plainly inadequate.

After all, according to Glenn, there’s really no danger from terrorists or hostile countries like China and Russia. The entire goal of the national security apparatus and of signals intelligence is the instill fear in the populace.

A few more reasoned reactions:

Adam Martin at New York Magazine collects reactions from a number of people: So What Did People Think of Obama’s NSA Speech?

NPR’s Carrie Johnson offers: 5 Takeaways From The President’s NSA Speech.

Doyle McManus at the LA Times, who has been critical of both Snowden and NSA: A new day at the NSA — President Obama takes a step back from unfettered surveillance.

Individually, the concrete steps President Obama announced Friday toward reforming the National Security Agency‘s surveillance programs were modest. Taken together, though, they signal the end of an era of unfettered escalation in U.S. intelligence-gathering.

Since its establishment in 1952, the NSA’s history has been one of almost nonstop expansion. But for most of that time, the agency still faced limits on what kind of information it could gather and in the legal strictures that governed its programs.

That changed after the terrorist attacks of 2001, which prompted then-President George W. Bush to demand an all-out effort to collect every scrap of information available.

His order came at a time when the Internet, email, instant messaging and low-cost voice communications were pouring an unprecedented amount of private information into a global electronic network, available for sophisticated eavesdroppers to tap.

Bush brushed aside legal constraints and ordered the NSA to collect domestic telephone and email communications without court warrants. Later, Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court legalized much of that program retroactively, including the NSA’s collection of domestic telephone call records, known as metadata. The principle driving intelligence-gathering had become collect first, ask questions later.

Obama’s proposals are step back from that rule.

Read the rest at the link. I have no idea what will happen, but at least Obama is open to talking about it, unlike Bush/Cheney.

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I thought this article at Mediaite was pretty funny: Robert Gates Wanted to Recruit Bob Woodward for the CIA.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates shared an interesting detail during a conversation with POLITICO’s Mike Allen about his new book: he wanted to recruit iconic Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward for the Central Intelligence Agency. Yes, that’s right, Gates wanted one of the men who broke Watergate wide open to move to the government side because of his “extraordinary ability” to pry details out of people.

Gates admitted he wasn’t exactly happy with Woodward’s assessment of his book, but beyond that he said he has great respect for Woodward, and admitted he would have liked to bring Woodward into the CIA because he has a gift that not everyone has.

“He has an extraordinary ability to get otherwise responsible adults to spill his guts to him, on background, nothing there for the historians, but his ability to get people to talk about stuff they shouldn’t be talked about is just extraordinary and maybe unique.”

Seriously, does Gates not know that Woodward began his career in naval intelligence “where he was a part of a group which briefed top intelligence officials; at one time he was close to Admiral Robert O. Welander, being communications officer on the USS Fox under Welander’s command.” Woodward even briefed Al Haig during the Nixon administration.

Woodward knew nothing about journalism until the Washington Post installed him at a small newspaper in the DC suburbs for a year so he could get some on-the-job experience before moving up to the big time? Before that, Woodward was involved in briefing Bernstein was the writer on the Watergate story and Woodward had the CIA/government connections.

Gates should know that once you’re in the “intelligence community,” you never really leave. Please forgive me for this, but I’m going to link to a post by Larry Johnson from 2005: Blowing the Whistle on Bob Woodward.

Woodward has been the consumate insider while cultivating the image of the hard charging investigative reporter. He is anything but, and it is time to blow the whistle on his incestuous relationship with certain government officials. The fact that the Washington Post is still covering for this joker says volumes about the decline of the Post.

When he appears on Larry King Live Tonight maybe he will answer a longstanding question, “When did he resign from Naval Intelligence?”

Johnson then reproduces a letter to the editor of the Tampa Tribune by Len Colodny. Colodny is coauthor of a book about Watergate called Silent Coup: The Removal of a President. Check it out.

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This is interesting. Greg Sargent thinks President Obama might decide to encourage an increase in  the minimum wage with an executive order.

Here’s some welcome news. At his meeting with Democratic Senators last night, President Obama indicated that he is giving serious consideration to executive action designed to raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors, according to one Senator who was present.

Proponents want to see this executive action happen on the merits — theybelieve it could impact as many as two million employees of federal contractors, and would help the economy. But they also believe such action could give a boost of momentum to the push for a minimum wage hike for all American workers, which obviously would require Congressional approval, but is currently facing Republican opposition.

Senator Bernie Sanders told me in an interview that the president took the idea very seriously when asked about it last night.

Surely some Democrats could applaud Obama if he did that. Of course the Greenwald cult followers will ignore it, because it would only improve the lives of working class people and do nothing for the “privacy” of upper middle class white males.

NRA cat

These days it seems we’re getting shootings in public places on an almost daily basis. I posted about a grocery store shooting in Elkhart, Indiana a couple of days ago. The victims and the shooter have now been identified.

What happened, police say, is 22-year-old Shawn Bair walked into the store Wednesday at about 9:30 p.m. Surveillance video shows him making phone calls and texting people….

Police say Bair pulled out a .44 caliber semi-automatic handgun, and shot and killed 20-year-old Krystal Dikes. Police say she had just started working at the store stocking the shelves. Friends say she was a caring, compassionate person.

“I don’t know what his goal was, I don’t know what his aim was, mad at the world. There’s definitely a family grieving for her. Definitely. And lots of friends,” said Dikes’ boyfriend Kyle Barnett.

Also murdered was 44-year-old Rachelle Godfread who was shopping. Bair then held the manager of the store at gunpoint until police arrived.

Police still aren’t sure why Bair, who police have been in contact with before, decided to go on this rampage but his Facebook page is filled with violent images and posts. In one post he says he knows he’s going hell. One from 2010 says he realized everybody should die, no matter what race or religion.

According to the Chicago Tribune,

Rachelle Godfread, 44, had recently moved from southern Indiana to Elkhart, where she was closer to her son who played basketball at the South Bend campus of Indiana University. Now that college student has lost his mom.

Yesterday there was a shooting in a school gymnasium in Philadelphia. CNN reports:

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a juvenile suspect in a shooting that wounded two students at a Philadelphia school Friday, police said Saturday.

The shooting occurred at Delaware Valley Charter High School.

The suspect is not in custody, but police expect him, accompanied by an attorney, to turn himself in Saturday morning.

The shooter was in the school gym with seven other students, city police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.

Some were playing basketball and others standing in a corner when he pulled a gun and fired.

The victims, a boy and a girl, both age 15, were hit in the arm. They were taken to a local hospital, police said, and their wounds are not life-threatening.

The Friday afternoon incident was at least the second shooting at or near a school this week in the Olney neighborhood.

And then there are the plain old street shootings. Again from the Chicago Tribune: Shootings leave 2 dead, 7 injured since Friday afternoon.

Two men have been killed and seven people injured in shootings on the South and West sides since Friday afternoon, according to police.

The violent start to the weekend, which came as downtown temperatures hovered in the teens, included a shooting that injured three people on a Dan Ryan Expressway ramp and another that left a 15-year-old girl hospitalized.

Police were called to the first of Friday’s homicides about 5:20 p.m., after gunfire rang out in 4900 block of West Huron Street in the Austin neighborhood.

Officers found 21-year-old Timothy Travis on the ground, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head, authorities said.

Travis, who lived in the 4900 block of West Quincy Street, was pronounced dead on the scene at 5:34 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Of course the “experts” are “weighing in”: Experts: N. Mexico suspect, other young shooters show preteens’ impulse actions.

(CNN) — The New Mexico middle school shooting allegedly by a 12-year-old boy highlights how such gunfire is now occurring in America’s earlier grades, raising disturbing issues on whether such youngsters know the devastating consequences of such violence and on how they should then be adjudicated, experts say.

“It’s becoming more and more common, especially in the middle-school age, for these kids to be committing these violent acts,” said Sheela Raja, clinical psychologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago….

That tally includes last October’s shooting in Sparks, Nevada, by a 12-year-old boy who killed himself after fatally shooting a teacher; a 2010 shooting in a Madison, Alabama, by a ninth-grader who fatally shot a boy, 14, in the head; a 2000 shooting in Mount Morris Township, Michigan, in which a 6-year-old boy killed another 6-year-old; and the 1999 shooting in Deming, New Mexico, in which a 12-year-old boy killed a classmate, 13.

Raja explains that children at these ages do not have the cognitive development to restrain strong impulses or to understand the full implications of their actions.

“People should remember that a 12-year-old is barely past the age of believing in Santa Claus,” said Wendy Walsh, a behavior expert and psychologist.

“While there is great variance in cognitive development, plenty of kids this age are unable to fully comprehend that death is permanent,” Walsh said. “Add to that the impact of violent video games where ‘downed’ characters get up again, and there is good reason to assume this child does not think like an adult.”

Wouldn’t it make sense to keep guns out the hands of young kids then? I know, stupid question.

From the NYT: In Age of School Shootings, Lockdown Is the New Fire Drill.

For students across the country, lockdowns have become a fixture of the school day, the duck-and-cover drills for a generation growing up in the shadow of Columbine High School in Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Kindergartners learn to hide quietly behind bookshelves. Teachers warn high school students that the glow of their cellphones could make them targets. And parents get regular text messages from school officials alerting them to lockdowns.

School administrators across the country have worked with police departments in recent years to create detailed plans to secure their schools, an effort that was redoubled after the December 2012 shootings in Newtown, Conn. At the whiff of a threat, teachers are now instructed to snap off the lights, lock their doors and usher their students into corners and closets. School officials call the police. Students huddle in their classrooms for minutes or hours, texting one another, playing cards and board games, or just waiting until they get the all clear.

Why should kids have to go through this at school–a place where they are supposed to be safe and protected? I guess because the NRA wants more and more guns everywhere and Congress doesn’t have the guts to do anything about it.

Another “expert” told Jake Tapper that mass shootings are on the rise. Isn’t it great that we have “experts” to explain that to us? /snark

kitten computer

OK, enough depressing news about death and destruction. What’s the latest on Chris Christie? Steve Kornaki has dug up some good stuff: Christie camp held Sandy relief money hostage, mayor alleges.

Two senior members of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration warned a New Jersey mayor earlier this year that her town would be starved of hurricane relief money unless she approved a lucrative redevelopment plan favored by the governor, according to the mayor and emails and personal notes she shared with msnbc.

The mayor, Dawn Zimmer, hasn’t approved the project, but she did request $127 million in hurricane relief for her city of Hoboken – 80% of which was underwater after Sandy hit in October 2012. What she got was $142,000 to defray the cost of a single back-up generator plus an additional $200,000 in recovery grants.

In an exclusive interview, Zimmer broke her silence and named Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Richard Constable, Christie’s community affairs commissioner, as the two officials who delivered messages on behalf of a governor she had long supported.

Something tells me we have a lot more Christie corruption news to look forward to.

Now what stories are you following today? Please post your links in the comments and have a great long weekend!