Wednesday Reads: Serenity When?

il_fullxfull.565541671_9lyh-001Good Morning

Things are heating up all over, in a literal, political and actual sense.

Meanwhile I feel as if I am stuck inside a glass tube of Vaseline…where I cannot move or see and I feel trapped in a situation were everything is close around me. Yesterday, my mom found out she needs to take insulin shots…she is now diabetic. But the Medicare does not cover her prescription for the shots. It is 300 bucks a month. WTF? I don’t understand this crap at all.

There’s ther stuff going on that I can’t get into now, so just letting you know that things are real shitty here, and I may need to take a break for a few days to get my bearings.

9d334a8fa3274a3df6a3e9e9bf2ec996Now for today’s links…

I don’t know what to make of this headline from the New York Times:

Obama Is Said to Consider Selective Airstrikes on Sunni Militants

President Obama is considering a targeted, highly selective campaign of airstrikes against Sunni militants in Iraq similar to counterterrorism operations in Yemen rather than an aerial bombardment, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.

e91350319bb40c2aab792d8a540788abSuch a campaign, using either drones or fighter jets, could last for a prolonged period, the official said. But it is not likely to begin for days, until the United States gathers adequate intelligence about the location of the militants, who are intermingled with the civilian population in Mosul, Tikrit and other cities north of Baghdad.

Even the most ambitious aerial campaign envisioned by administration officials would be far more limited in scope than the one conducted during the Iraq war, this official said, because of the relatively small number of militants involved, the degree to which they are dispersed throughout militant-controlled parts of Iraq and fears that using bigger bombs would kill Sunni civilians.

It all makes my head hurt.

e96d30047c9c5f4947085064d49e6198But what deserves a laugh is the latest from Glenn Beckistan: Glenn Beck: ‘Liberals, You Were Right,’ We Should Never Have Gone into Iraq | Mediaite

Glenn Beck led off his radio show on Tuesday morning with a stirring monologue about all the ways he believes the left and right can come together to “heal” America. As part of that, Beck suggested that perhaps all Americans can come together to recognize the blunder that was invading and occupying Iraq in 2003 — an act that he now regrets having supported.

After listing the Veterans Affairs Department scandal and the fight against Common Core standards as two ways in which the left and right can unite, Beck asserted that “maybe we could come together now on this nightmare in Iraq.”

He then took a contrite tone and admitted [emphasis ours]:

a090d350dd917b6e633dfe19e03091cfFrom the beginning, most people on the left were against going into Iraq. I wasn’t. At the time I believed that the United States was under threat from Saddam Hussein. I really truly believed that Saddam Hussein was funding terrorists. We knew that. He was funding the terrorists in Hamas. We knew that he was giving money. We could track that. We knew he hated us. We knew that without a shadow of a doubt. It wasn’t much or a stretch to believe that he would fund a terror strike against us, especially since he would say that. So I took him at his word.

[…] Now, in spite of the things I felt at the time when we went into war, liberals said: We shouldn’t get involved. We shouldn’t nation-build. And there was no indication the people of Iraq had the will to be free. I thought that was insulting at the time. Everybody wants to be free. They said we couldn’t force freedom on people. Let me lead with my mistakes. You are right. Liberals, you were right. We shouldn’t have.

Well, blow me down!

7186393d1bfd14d036ee5764c304f357Here’s another shocking bit of right-wing reactions to scratch your head about…first the news bit: U.S. captures suspected ringleader of 2012 attack in Benghazi | Reuters

The United States said on Tuesday it had captured a suspected ringleader of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador and ignited a political firestorm in Washington.

President Barack Obama said in a statement he had authorized the operation in Libya on Sunday, in which U.S. special operations forces captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah. He told an audience later in Pittsburgh that Khatallah was being transported to the United States.

“Since the deadly attacks on our facilities in Benghazi, I have made it a priority to find and bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of four brave Americans,” he said in a statement. He said Khatallah would “face the full weight of the American justice system.”

Khatallah’s capture was a victory for Obama, who has been accused by Republicans of playing down the role of al Qaeda in the 2012 attacks for political reasons and being slow to deliver on promises of justice.b927fc4895c9c064bdf334851355cd57

 

Which is all well and good, but as Maddow made clear on her show last night:  U.S. Got the Suspect and ‘Benghazi Central’ Fox News Doesn’t Care? | Mediaite

For the past 21 months in a row, conservative media outlets have kept hammering away at Benghazi, saying the Obama White House covered something up, accusing the president of dredging up other issues to distract from Benghazi, and crying foul that no one has been brought to justice for the attack. Well, today one of the alleged perpetrators of the attack was captured by U.S. special forces, and so Rachel Maddow was absolutely bewildered to see the reaction on conservative media from Drudge Report to “Benghazi Central” Fox News, ranging from either ignoring the big news or furiously spinning it as a negative for the administration.

Maddow reminded viewers that the “all-Benghazi, all-the-time Fox News Channel” is the network that basically started ignoring President Obama‘s speeches and press conferences unless he starts talking about Benghazi. And the reaction on Fox News today to the news was to question the suspicious timing of the capture.

Maddow was amused that “the take on Fox News is that’s not actually news” after all the time and space they’ve devoted to hammering away at Benghazi, and now “they have to make it bad news, they have to make into maybe a scandal itself.”

Damn Fox News.

One more Foxy link for you, only this time it deals with Hillary Clinton: Hillary Clinton on FOX News with Greta Van Susteren and Brett Baier | Still4Hill

Hillary walked right into the mouth of the dragon and shot her fire extinguisher all over the flames.

In fact I did not expect Greta to be hard on her,  and she was not except that once the record got a little stuck on a Fourth Amendment question.  Later, Greta admitted that despite all prior interviews with Hillary she did feel stressed and later wished she had had more time.  For my money they could have given Greta Brett’s time.

In response to something from Brett, she suggested that people read the unclassified ARB Report.

2844923605445baeeb949f9ef3b62ed5Still4Hill has a link to the report at her blog, go and check it out. There are also video clips of the Greta and Bret interviews there as well…

Another Hillary link: Hillary Clinton notes distance from Obama on Syria rebels | Reuters

Potential Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pointed out her differences with President Barack Obama on Tuesday over his decision not to arm moderate Syrian rebels, as neighboring Iraq struggles to cope with extremist spillover from Syria.

“We pushed very hard. But as I say in my book, I believe that Harry Truman was right, the buck stops with the president,”

Clinton said in a CNN interview.

The former secretary of state said she, along with the then heads of the Pentagon and CIA tried but failed to persuade Obama to arm the rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but that the White House resisted.

Clinton said it was not clear whether arming moderates in Syria would have prevented the rise of the al Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has swept toward Baghdad aiming to build a Muslim caliphate across the Iraqi-Syrian border.1f774b3e4531d99d0b6b08fe7b6a4105

“It’s very difficult, in retrospect, to say that would have prevented this,” she said. She said it is too soon to tell whether American policy in Syria was a failure.

 

The countdown is began and ended here in Georgia as the BBC is picking up on the story:  Georgia in first US execution since botched attempt

The US state of Georgia is set to execute the first person in the US since a botched lethal injection in Texas in April.

Marcus Wellons, who raped and killed a 15-year-old in 1989, is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday evening.

A last-minute appeal over the source of the drugs is with the US Supreme Court.

Wellons is one of three set to die in the next 24 hours, after nine executions were stayed since one in Oklahoma went wrong seven weeks ago.

de679001e55f03779d2fd45f39445118Officials in Oklahoma halted the execution of Clayton Lockett after he began making noises, and he died of a heart attack less than an hour later.

Like Oklahoma, Georgia refuses to say where they are obtaining drugs for lethal injections, or if they are tested.

Lawyers for Wellons, as well as others on death row, have challenged such secrecy in court.

 

Well, the execution went on as expected: UPDATE: Marcus Wellons has been executed | www.ajc.com

Since I am writing this post only a few minutes after his death has been confirmed I will update this story in the comments below.

One thing all these stories have threaded together is a subject of hard news…Why Audiences Hate Hard News—And Love Pretending Otherwise – Derek Thompson – The Atlantic

You may not realize this, but we can see you. Yes, you. The human reading this article. We have analytics that tells us roughly where you are, what site you’ve just arrived from, how long you stay, how far you read, where you hop to next. We’ve got eyeballs on your eyeballs.3df8e0446c3c42d7ee36e40dcaba96a0

Why is it so important that digital news organizations track which articles you’re reading on our websites? The obvious answer is that it teaches us what you’re interested in. The less-obvious, but equally true, answer is that it teaches you what you’re interested in.

If we merely asked what you wanted, without measuring what you wanted, you’d just keep lying to us—and to yourself.

Here’s what I mean by lying. This year, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism asked thousands of people around the world what sort of news was most important to them. The graph below shows the responses from Americans. International news crushed celebrity and “fun” news by a margin of two-to-one. Economic and political news finished even higher.

It is an interesting thing…as far as what is most important compared to what the people actually read.

Ask audiences what they want, and they’ll tell you vegetables. Watch them quietly, and they’ll mostly eat candy.

31907593da272ba27746cd5b018e949aAudiences are liars, and the media organizations who listen to them without measuring them are dupes. At the Aspen Ideas Festival last year, Ehab Al Shihabi, executive director of international operations for Al Jazeera America, shared survey data suggesting that 40 to 50 million people were desperate for in-depth and original TV journalism. Nine months later, it averaged 10,000 viewers per hour—1.08 percent of Fox News’ audience and 3.7 percent of CNN. AJAM, built for an audience of vegetarians, is stuck with a broccoli stand in a candy shop.

The culprit isn’t Millennials, or Facebook, or analytics software like Chartbeat. The problem is our brains. The more attention-starved we feel, the more we thirst for stimuli that are familiar. We like ice cream when we’re sad, old songs when we’re tired, and easy listicles when we’re busy and ego-depleted. The Internet shorthand for this fact is “cat pictures.” Psychologists prefer the term fluency. Fluency isn’t how we think: It’s how we feel while we’re thinking. We prefer thoughts that come easily: Faces that are symmetrical, colors that are clear, and sentences with parallelisms. In this light, there are two problems with hard news: It’s hard and it’s new. (Parallelism!)

 

63de3f122b93c22f070d5c889ce23d52Okay that is taking some choice paragraphs here and there…just go and “read” the whole thing at the link. It has graphs and list too.

Since we are talking about people who lie about reading news stories, what about something dealing with handwriting. What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades – NYTimes.com

Does handwriting matter?

Not very much, according to many educators. The Common Core standards, which have been adopted in most states, call for teaching legible writing, but only in kindergarten and first grade. After that, the emphasis quickly shifts to proficiency on the keyboard.

But psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep.

Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.

“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Collège de France in Paris. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain.

b9438217088e3382bb42b00ef2dfc63d“And it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize,” he continued. “Learning is made easier.”

Could there be a connection be handwriting, news reading habits and education development?

A 2012 study led by Karin James, a psychologist at Indiana University, lent support to that view. Children who had not yet learned to read and write were presented with a letter or a shape on an index card and asked to reproduce it in one of three ways: trace the image on a page with a dotted outline, draw it on a blank white sheet, or type it on a computer. They were then placed in a brain scanner and shown the image again.

The researchers found that the initial duplication process mattered a great deal. When children had drawn a letter freehand, they exhibited increased activity in three areas of the brain that are activated in adults when they read and write: the left fusiform gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior parietal cortex.

By contrast, children who typed or traced the letter or shape showed no such effect. The activation was significantly weaker.

Dr. James attributes the differences to the messiness inherent in free-form handwriting: Not only must we first plan and execute the action in a way that is not required when we have a traceable outline, but we are also likely to produce a result that is highly variable.

That variability may itself be a learning tool. “When a kid produces a messy letter,” Dr. James said, “that might help him learn it.”

Finally, the last “news read” I have for you today could fall in the “fun” category. Stamp sells for record $9.5 million in New York

David Redden, Sotheby's Vice Chairman, holds the British Guyana One-Cent Magenta after it sold for USD$ 9,480,000 (with buyers' premium) at Sotheby's June 17, 2014 in New York

Stan Honda/AFP

David Redden, Sotheby’s Vice Chairman, holds the British Guyana One-Cent Magenta after it sold for USD$ 9,480,000 (with buyers’ premium) at Sotheby’s June 17, 2014 in New York

An incredibly rare 19th century postage stamp, a tiny one-cent magenta from British colonial Guyana, sold for $9.5 million in New York on Tuesday, setting a new world record.

Bidding began at $4.5 million and it took just two minutes to sell the stamp to an anonymous bidder on the phone, although the auction house Sotheby’s had valued the tiny specimen of British colonial memorabilia at $10-20 million.

09664cc10b3bb4c3414e849cae7d1d1f“With the premium the stamp has just sold for approximately $9.5 million, which means it has set a new world record price for a stamp,” David Redden, Sotheby’s director of special projects, told a packed room in New York.

Can you believe it? 9.5 million dollars? Wow…

So what “candy” are you reading about today?

Although I know most of you here read “vegetables” all day long.


Moments of Lucidity, Working the SEO and a Weekend Filled with “Fear and Darkness” …Oh Yeah, this is an open thread too.

c1407bb0d326d9cc7b36793cbec25dabGood Evening!

Hey, how is everyone doing?

Hope you will bear with me a few paragraphs while I ramble on a little, with a quick observation and story before I get to the few links I have for you tonight.

Y’all know that I was recently put on Topamax for my epilepsy…and as a bonus, it would help my debilitating migraines. I’ve mentioned the dopamax effect it has had on me, and you have probably noticed the other side effect, shall we say dopamax induced blogging Tourette syndrome.

My mom was the one who pointed it out to me last week. While reading one of my posts she said out loud, “JJ, what a foul mouth you have.” Of course, her bit of criticism surprised me, considering that the woman knows every other word out of my mouth is damn, shit, asshole….well, you get the picture. But, what my mom was commenting on was that my posts of late have become more “colorful,” in that I was dropping shit bombs left and right. (Not only shit bombs, but several ass holes and even a few fuck wads.)

I think this is a side effect of the topamax. What I usually could control in my writing is now finding it’s way in uncontrollable outbursts…dopamax induced blog…shit…swear word…damn…Tourette syndrome….ass…ass…asshole fuck fest.

Wow, don’t know where that came from. (My apologies to anyone who may be offended by my comments…this is meant as a joke, to be taken in a humorous way and not intended to degrade or demean anyone who suffers from dopamax induced uncontrollable curse word blogging or Tourette Syndrome.)

Which leads me to this little story…here in the land of Banjoville, we have a bit of an ongoing scandal, what I call Cheergate.  It seems that a lot of the parents are pissed off that their girls did not make the competition cheerleading team. So, it was decided that a new open tryout will be held.  Obviously, this is not fair, and reeks of sour grapes and bullshit…so being the woman I am, I took it upon myself to call the powers that be and voice my opinion.

Now, since the dopamax makes me completely loopy, imagine my surprise when I had a few moments of lucidity and spoke in a coherent manner….even talking in words more than three syllables long. According to my mom, who was listening to most of my side of the conversation, I was impressive…sounding like a real professional, mentioning Georgia High School Sports Associations, Rules and Regulations and I have to say, whatever was said, it sure did shut the principal up…they had no response.  Of course, moments after I hung up the phone I couldn’t even remember what the hell I said. It was so bad that when I tried to explain to my daughter what happened, all I could get out was…”It had to do with lying and making something up, it begins with an f or an s and it has more than 2 syllables.”  Who the hell knows what word I was trying to tell her.

Well, now and then we all have our moments of clarity…even if they are just fleeting at that.

One more thing, a mention about the blog. Wow, we have had so many hits the past couple of weeks. It is quite something to see the numbers of people visiting our little blog that come from all over the world…Google is a strange and wondrous thing.  Kind of like the catch 22 you have with the SAG card in acting. You can’t get an acting gig without a SAG card and you can’t get a SAG card without the acting gig. We got big notice with the Google gods a couple of weeks ago with Boston Boomer’s Too Good Looking post, and with that surge in hits and outside links…it makes getting those higher ranking search results a lot more frequent.

So, the reason I mention this is just to say hello to any new readers out there who do come back and give Sky Dancing another look, we are glad you are here! (And to our regular readers, y’all know that obviously goes without saying…)

Now…for the links.

Y’all may have missed this, it is magnificent!

Jon Stewart Tears Apart NRA’s False Choice Between Freedom And ‘Obama-Sponsored Government Mom Rape’ | Mediaite

Jon Stewart opened Monday night’s edition of The Daily Show by looking back at the weekend’s NRA convention and its not-so-singular focus on guns. With Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and others in attendance, Stewart realized, “this is the same lineup, with the same laundry list of conservative grievances, that we saw at CPAC a month and a half ago.”

Eventually the speakers did get to the primary issue of guns, with Glenn Beck going after President Obama for his “tactics of fear and darkness.” Stewart congratulated Beck for acknowledging that “fear mongering is wrong” before playing another clip of him saying, “the only difference between your mom and sister getting raped and then walking home unmolested is a gun.”

“At the heart of the NRA’s message,” Stewart said, is “don’t let liberals say it’s a dangerous world and scare you into gun control. Let us say it’s a dangerous world and scare you into gun-a-pa-looza!” But, of course, the NRA’s real mantra comes from executive Wayne LaPierre: “Only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.”

Based on Beck’s warnings against tyranny, the “government is the bad guy.” But based on LaPierre’s praise of the Boston police, “government is the good guy.” By the end of the segment, Stewart said he believes we all want the same thing: for “bad guys not to have guns.” While he and other Democrats want background checks, it appears some on the right want to “wait for a bad guy to draw and then draw faster.”

But if that’s the case, he said, “stop pretending that background checks are the last barrier standing between a free America and Obama-sponsored government mom rape.”

You have to go and see the clip…I know that I quoted most of the Mediate post, but seriously, Stewart just nails it…and that summary is just right.

There was also this from Ian Reifowitz: Gun Owners of America Is ‘Primarying’ the NRA From the Right

The NRA is even more extreme than it was just a few years ago. And that’s saying something. We’ve seen the shift in their rhetoric and in their policy positions. They just elected a new president, James Porter, who called the Civil War “The War of Northern Aggression,” who referred to Barack Obama as a “fake president,” and who believes that one of our highest priorities should be to train and arm all our citizens so that, when the time comes, they can “fight tyranny.”

Wow. Take a deep breath. Yes, the new NRA president is a far right-wing extremist whose rhetoric makes his predecessor, David Keene, look like a Rockefeller Republican.

That is no news to us of course,

There’s no one simple reason why the NRA has moved even further to the right in recent years. Certainly, the right wing overall has become more extreme and paranoid since the election (and reelection) of President Obama. The Southern Poverty Law Center has plenty of material on the most extreme among them.

But within the gun movement, we are seeing something very specific, something that has a parallel within Republican electoral politics as a whole. In the last few years, conservative — not moderate but conservative — Republican senators like Richard Lugar of Indiana and Robert Bennett of Utah were defeated in reelection bids by insurgents who have come at them from the right. This is exactly what is happening to the NRA.

I didn’t see much room to the right of the NRA. At least I figured that any group to their right would have to be so extreme as to be unable to achieve any kind of influence. Wow, was I wrong. Gun Owners of America, led by its executive director, Larry Pratt, has done exactly that. The New York Times gave them a large degree of “credit” for mobilizing conservative opposition to the recent gun control package on Capitol Hill.

And I don’t think the word “extremist” truly captures where Pratt stands. Pratt’s been fomenting hatred and paranoia about President Obama’s desire to create a private army, and claimed that the president was “definitely capable” of using that army to start a race war.

The things Pratt has said should have made him 100 percent persona non grata to any senator or congressman. That he and his organization were able to spearhead a lobbying campaign in the halls of Congress tells you everything you need to know about the Republican Party’s tolerance of hateful, bigoted extremism.

Again nothing new there….

But this kind of extremism represents a real challenge to the NRA. If they don’t step up, they could lose credibility and eventually even leadership of the gun movement to a group like Gun Owners of America. GOA’s website prominently features a statement from former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), the gold standard for extremism among national politicians, praising it as “the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington.”

Notice who that praise is aimed at. The implication is that the NRA is a bunch of weak-kneed compromisers, squishy moderates. You want a real gun rights organization, then come over to the GOA.

There’s no formal primary, no election day where the NRA and the GOA are on competing ballot lines. But make no mistake that there is a competition. The NRA has a huge head start, and should have no trouble winning. But they aren’t taking any chances. The NRA won’t be out-crazied by anyone.

Uh…Okay then.

Hmmmm.

Personally, I think they are all batshit crazy fuck-faced asshole bastards with tiny dicks and even smaller brains! (Same goes for the women gun-nuts too…sans penises.)

Anyway, I will end this post with this cartoon…

NRA Takes a Turn to the Right – Political Cartoon by Monte Wolverton, Cagle Cartoons, Inc. – 05/07/2013

Cartoon by Monte Wolverton - NRA Takes a Turn to the Right

Y’all have a great evening, my daughter has a chorus concert tonight so I won’t be around until late.

This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: A Mixed Bag

Good Morning!!

I have a mixed bag of interesting reads for you this morning, if I do say so myself. So let’s get right to it.

I’ll start out with that infamous Republican conspiracy theory based on an old UN initiative, “Agenda 21,” which has been in the news again recently. I wrote a post about it about a year ago that I called Dark Ages America.

Unfortunately, we’ll probably be hearing more about this nutty conspiracy, because there’s a new book coming out today–a dystopian novel supposedly authored by Glenn Beck–and it’s titled Agenda 21. Here’s a quote from the book, published on Amazon’s item page:

“I was just a baby when we were relocated and I don’t remember much. Everybody has that black hole at the beginning of their life. That time you can’t remember. Your first step. Your first taste of table food. My real memories begin in our assigned living area in Compound 14.”
Just a generation ago, this place was called America. Now, after the worldwide implementation of a UN-led program called Agenda 21, it’s simply known as “the Republic.” There is no president. No Congress. No Supreme Court. No freedom.

There are only the Authorities.

Citizens have two primary goals in the new Republic: to create clean energy and to create new human life. Those who cannot do either are of no use to society. This bleak and barren existence is all that eighteen-year-old Emmeline has ever known. She dutifully walks her energy board daily and accepts all male pairings assigned to her by the Authorities. Like most citizens, she keeps her head down and her eyes closed.

Until the day they come for her mother.

“You save what you think you’re going to lose.”

Woken up to the harsh reality of her life and her family’s future inside the Republic, Emmeline begins to search for the truth. Why are all citizens confined to ubiquitous concrete living spaces? Why are Compounds guarded by Gatekeepers who track all movements? Why are food, water and energy rationed so strictly? And, most important, why are babies taken from their mothers at birth? As Emmeline begins to understand the true objectives of Agenda 21 she realizes that she is up against far more than she ever thought. With the Authorities closing in, and nowhere to run, Emmeline embarks on an audacious plan to save her family and expose the Republic—but is she already too late?

Except, I found out today that Beck didn’t really write the book; he just purchased the concept from his co-author Harriet Parke, the real author. I never knew you could do that–did you? From “I got duped by Glenn Beck!” by “Sarah Cypher”:

Two weeks ago I discovered, to my surprise, that I had line-edited an early draft of Glenn Beck’s new novel, “Agenda 21.” Glenn Beck! At the time I was working on it, the manuscript belonged to its actual author, a woman named Harriet Parke, who lives a few minutes from my aunt. But a year and a few lawyers later, Glenn Beck purchased the right to call himself its creator, and Ms. Parke agreed to be presented as a ghostwriter.

Cypher doesn’t agree with Glenn Beck’s politics (or Harriet Parke’s), but she thought she was editing a novel for nice lady who lives near her aunt, not Glenn Beck, Inc. In fact, Cypher agrees with the goals of Agenda 21, which is, after all, simply a set of non-binding recommendations for city planning. The book is still the same one written originally written by Harriet Parke, but Cypher worries that having Glenn Beck’s name on it will transform it from a fun futuristic read to a right wing political manifesto.

Glenn Beck is more than just the nice guy whose publishing house is bringing Ms. Parke’s work to a national audience. He’s also a professional ideologue whose establishment confers the full force of its intellectually and morally irresponsible franchise on a novel that distorts the truth about Agenda 21, which is doing good work in the world. Glenn Beck is not writing as an artist, bound by the conventions of his art, plying his craft on the willing human imagination. Hell, he’s not writing at all. He is a brand, with a budget, and with an agenda of his own. Ultimately, by assigning his brand to the novel “Agenda 21,” Beck turns a form of entertainment into a political lie, a tool for politicizing people.

It’s an interesting piece. Do check it out.

Everyone has heard by now that Hostess Brands is going out of business after being taken over by a vulture capitalist firm. Yesterday, a judge talked the company into negotiating a little more with one of its unions.

Hostess Brands Inc. and its second largest union agreed on Monday to try to resolve their differences after a bankruptcy court judge noted that the parties hadn’t gone through the critical step of private mediation. That means the maker of the spongy cake with the mysterious cream filling won’t go out of business yet.

The news comes after the maker of Ho Ho’s, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread last week moved to liquidate and sell off its assets in bankruptcy court. Hostess cited a crippling strike started on Nov. 9 by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which represents about 30 percent of Hostess workers.

‘‘Many people, myself included, have serious questions as to the logic behind this strike,’’ said Judge Robert Drain, who heard the case in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York in White Plains, N.Y. ‘‘Not to have gone through that step leaves a huge question mark in this case.’’

The mediation talks are set to take place Tuesday, with the liquidation hearing set to resume on Wednesday if an agreement isn’t reached. Jeff Freund, an attorney for the bakers union, said any guess as to how the talks will go would be ‘‘purely speculative.’’

Frankly, I think the world could live without Twinkies and Ding Dongs–I was never a fan. But the jobs are needed, that’s for sure. But as long as we’re talking about Twinkies, we can revisit “the Twinkie defense.” At Counterpunch, the great Paul Krassner recounts the story behind the story:

A dozen police cars had been set on fire, which in turn set off their alarms, underscoring the angry shouts from five thousand understandably angry gays. This was in 1979. I had been covering the trial of Dan White for the San Francisco Bay Guardian. The ex-cop had confessed to killing Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

Dale Metcalf, a former Merry Prankster who had become a lawyer, told me how he happened to be playing chess with a friend, Steven Scherr, one of White’s attorneys. Metcalf had just read Orthomolecular Nutrition by Abram Hoffer. He questioned Scherr about White’s diet and learned that, while under stress, White would consume candy bars and soft drinks. Metcalf recommended the book to Scherr, suggesting the author as an expert witness. After all, in his book, Hoffer revealed a personal vendetta against doughnuts, and White had once eaten five doughnuts in a row.

Hoffer didn’t testify, but his influence permeated the courtroom. White’s defense team presented that bio-chemical explanation of his behavior, blaming it on compulsive gobbling down of sugar-filled junk-food snacks. Psychiatrist Martin Blinder testified that, on the night before the murders, White “just sat there in front of the TV set, binging on Twinkies.” Another psychiatrist stated, “If not for the aggravating fact of junk food, the homicides might not have taken place.”

In my notebook, I scribbled “Twinkie defense,” and wrote about it in my next report. On the 25th anniversary of that double execution, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that, “During the trial, no one but well-known satirist Paul Krassner — who may have coined the phrase ‘Twinkie defense’ — played up that angle.” And so it came to pass that a pair of political assassinations was transmuted into voluntary manslaughter.

It gets much better. Please go read this entertaining piece at the link.

There’s a great post by Karoli at Crooks and Liars: GOP Governors Unwittingly Move U.S. Toward Single Payer Health Care

Republican governors are holding a boycott. As the deadline looms large for them to establish state-based exchanges, they are refusing to do so, one after the other.

I applaud them. No, really. I do….

When these Republican governors opt out of the state-based exchanges, they are not opting their states out of Obamacare. I’m sure they’re trying to set up future litigation as yet another roadblock, but fortunately there were safeguards written into the law in order to thwart effective “secession” from the coverage rules.

Each of those Republican governors has just abrogated their authority over the insurance exchanges to the federal government, who is now free to step in and offer people in their state health insurance based on a national risk pool, rather than state based. The bigger the pool, the cheaper it is.

Insurers are already whining about how they’ll be out of the health insurance business altogether in a matter of a few years. Good. This should hasten the process and bring about single payer that much faster.

Read the details at the link.

I love this piece by Scott Terry at HuffPo: Gay Cowboys, Utah and Mitt Romney. You really need to read the whole thing–it’s not long. I’ll just tell you that Terry has written a memoir of growing up gay and a fundamentalist Christian and he has a few choice words about Mitt Romney and his shock at losing the election.

So today I am reading headlines of how the Republican Party leaders are lamenting their election loss and speculating on why their candidate couldn’t carry the Republican Party to victory. In the weeks since his defeat, I’ve read headlines that declare Mitt Romney to be “stunned” at his loss. Stunned? Really?

Here’s a newsflash for Romney: In 1885, when your Mormon great-grandfather had four wives, it would have been acceptable for elected officials to think their obligation was to solely represent their white male constituents. Women didn’t have the right to vote at that time. Neither did most people of color. The world has changed. Perhaps you and Utah and the Mormon Church have a ways to go before you catch up with the rest of society, but it is no longer acceptable to believe that you only need to appeal to white male Christians. If you dare to ask for the privilege to govern the people of this country, you must govern for everyone, even for the two gay guys who would have preferred a king-sized bed in Utah.

While you’re at HuffPo, check out this one: Political Forecaster Nate Silver Talks About Being Gay. It’s another short but pithy read.

That’s about all I have room for today. I realize I didn’t give you a lot of breaking news, but I hope you found something you enjoyed.

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Saturday Reads

It’s Saturday morning and our country is once again saddened by a horrible, violent crime. The shootings in Colorado yesterday were tragic. Even more tragic is the fact that mass shootings have become almost commonplace in our country, but none of our so-called leaders respond by actually taking action to prevent more such massacres in the future.

I feel heartsick not only for all of the victims and their families but also for the family of the perpetrator. I can’t begin to imagine how horrible it would be to lose a family member so senselessly or to have a family member commit such a horrific crime. If only this time politicians would stand up to the bloodthirsty NRA, but I know it’s not going to happen.

I’m not going to link to any more articles about yesterday’s murders. I just can’t stand to read about it right now. So let’s see what else is happening.

Chris Cilizza asks “Who had the worst week in Washington? Rep. Michele Bachmann.”

Anytime you are compared to former senator Joseph McCarthy — he of “red scare” infamy — it’s probably not very good for your political career.

That’s the situation Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) found herself in this past week after it came to light that she and four other House Republicans had sent letters to the inspectors general of the departments of Homeland Security, State and Justice, asking them to look into whether the Muslim Brotherhood has tentacles within the U.S. government.

Bachmann focused her attack on Human Abedin, long-time friend and aide to Hillary Clinton and wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner. She also slimed fellow Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison.

In an interview with radio host Glenn Beck on Thursday, Bachmann asserted that Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, has a long record of being associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis, said in a subsequent interview Thursday night with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he has no ties to the Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Islamic movement that recently came to power in Egypt and that some say maintains ties to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

Bachmann offered no evidence of ties between Ellison and the Muslim Brotherhood during the Beck interview. Bachmann’s spokesman, Dan Kotman, cited a 2009 Fox News report that Ellison had a trip paid for by the Muslim American Society, a group described by an expert quoted in that report as “the de facto arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S.”

It’s simply beyond me why anyone would support this woman or vote for her, yet she is one of the top fund-raisers in the House of Representatives.

I watched some of the British Open today. Please don’t get mad at me. I can’t help rooting for Tiger Woods. I find it so hard to resist a comeback story, and Woods has slowly been recovering his pre-scandal form.

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — From the time he arrived in northwest England on Sunday, it was clear Tiger Woods had a game plan for Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

He had fond memories of the place, having been low amateur here in 1996 and calling it one of his favorite courses on the Open Championship rota. He enjoyed the challenge of avoiding the numerous pitfalls of the old links. Without saying so, he appeared determined to put an end to his four-year major championship victory drought.

Part of the plan was to stay out of the numerous bunkers that give Royal Lytham its teeth. The wind was down and the course was soft, but getting into those hazards is, well, hazardous.

It obviously wasn’t part of the plan when Woods’ approach to the par-4 18th found a greenside bunker. His caddie, Joe LaCava, said the shot was one of his best of the day. But the wind played a factor, the ball drifted into the sand and … uh-oh.

Then Woods holed the shot for a birdie.

A thunderous roar echoed around the 18th green as Woods gave a fist pump. He had made his statement at the Open Championship.

The tournament continues through the weekend, and I’ll probably watch a little more of it. The scenery relaxes me if nothing else.

I’ll just give you two Mitt Romney links this morning. First, this column by conservative political handicapper Charlie Cook from early in the week: Red Alert.

The strategic decision by the Romney campaign not to define him personally—not to inoculate him from inevitable attacks—seems a perverse one. Given his campaign’s ample financial resources, the decision not to run biographical or testimonial ads, in effect to do nothing to establish him as a three-dimensional person, has left him open to the inevitable attacks for his work at Bain Capital, on outsourcing, and on his investments. It’s all rather inexplicable. Aside from a single spot aired in the spring by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, not one personal positive ad has been aired on Romney’s behalf. The view that any day or dollar spent on talking about anything other than the economy is a waste has been taken to such an extreme that Romney has no positive definition other than that of being a rich, successful, and presumably smart businessman. People see and feel the reasons for firing Obama every day in the economic statistics and the struggle that so many Americans face daily. The Romney campaign seems focused on reinforcing a message that hardly needs reinforcing, while ignoring a clear and immediate danger to its own candidate’s electability.

The attacks on Bain, outsourcing, and his investments are sticking to Romney like Velcro, and it’s hard to see how that will change until he picks his running mate. Romney has lost control of the debate and the dialogue. Instead of voters focusing on the economy, they are now hearing about investments and accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, as well as about outsourcing and layoffs….if I were a Republican, I would be very concerned about the events of the past two weeks, questioning both strategy and tactics as well as the underlying assumptions that have led to the campaign decisions made so far.

Second, check out this slideshow of photos of “Sad Mitt Romney” at Mother Jones. In number 8, he looks like he’s about to cry–maybe because of mean bully Obama’s attacks on his “success.”

Sorry–I threw in another link there, but you don’t have to click on it.

Here’s a knee-slapper from Raw Story: Top tea partier demands Obama prove he doesn’t smoke crack and have gay sex

The president of Tea Party Nation declared on Thursday that if Mitt Romney is to release his tax returns, President Barack Obama should release medical records to prove he’s not a drug addict who smoked crack and had gay sex with a lifelong con-man.

Judson Phillips, whose for-profit group is better known to Tennessee as the “Tea Party Nation Corporation,” explained in an essay that also went out in a mass email to his followers that the American people must know whether the president had secret financial support in college due to his status as a “foreign student” — and dredged up a long-disproved story of Obama’s alleged encounter smoking crack and having sex with a gay prostitute.

At The Nation, Ari Melber reports:

A new campaign calling for “a woman moderator” for the presidential debates has drawn over 115,000 supporters online, through the social action website Change.org, and the Commission on Presidential Debates is taking notice. Janet Brown, the commission’s executive director, told The Nation she knew of the petition’s popularity and her colleagues “welcome” the input “regarding moderator selection.”

The petition, which was started by three high school students in New Jersey, Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegeland and Elena Tsemberis, casts the paucity of female moderators as an issue of equality. “We were shocked to find out that it has been twenty years since a woman last moderated a presidential debate,” the petition notes, in reference to the 1992 debate led by ABC News’s Carole Simpson. The students started the effort in conjunction with their civics class, and it is now “the largest elections-related petition” on Change.org, according to Michael Jones, the site’s deputy campaign director. A related effort on UltraViolet.org, a new organizing platform for women’s rights, has drawn another 50,000 supporters.

Now that is something I’d like to see–as long as the moderator isn’t Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer.

I’m sure you’ve heard that George Zimmerman has “gone rogue” again. He has again set up his on website talking to the media and generally appears to be ignoring his attorney’s advice. You’ll recall that he did that with his previous attorneys and they resigned from his case in a nationally televised news conference. On JJ’s Thursday night post, Northwestrain linked to an interesting wordpress blog called the Frederick Leatherman Law Blog. It’s run by an attorney who has been commenting on the Trayvon Martin case. I found his latest post fascinating. He thinks Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s attorney, should resign.

GZ is the quintessential difficult client. He is paranoid, secretive, fearful, angry, stubborn, doesn’t trust anyone, controlling, believes he’s smarter than anyone else, manipulative, and probably delusional. It’s absolutely clear that he does not feel any emotional distress or regret for having killed TM.

His claim that TM died as part of “God’s Plan” exhibits a frightening dissociation from reality and a willingness to kill without any sense of responsibility or regret, if he deems it necessary to do so. In other words, if he should find himself in another situation where he believes he is cornered and needs to kill someone to save face or save his ass, I believe he’s likely to do so and excuse what he did as just carrying out God’s will.

I think he is a danger to himself or others and he belongs in a secure mental health facility or a jail. He needs a thorough mental health evaluation.

I fear that Mark O’Mara is a potential victim and I am concerned about his safety. He’s clearly lost control of GZ despite his protestations to the contrary. GZ clearly sees O’Mara in the way and O’Mara has to be very careful how he handles the “uncharted waters” (his words) in which he finds himself.

If he pushes too hard in an effort to regain control, assuming he ever had control, things could get ugly.

I couldn’t agree more. I think O’Mara is destroying his reputation because he craves the media attention that goes along with this case. But Zimmerman is obviously a very sick man with almost no ability to control his impulses. O’Mara should cut and run.

Finally, have you heard that Elizabeth Warren may be asked to give the keynote speech at the Democratic Convention? Steve Kornacki writes:

Early in the week, NBC News and the New York Post reported that Chris Christie would be the Republicans’ featured speaker at their Tampa convention. Mitt Romney’s campaign has refused to confirm the report, though, and Christie himself was mum on the subject when questioned on Thursday. Also on Thursday, the Boston Globe reported that an Obama campaign official had confirmed that Elizabeth Warren was a candidate to deliver the Democratic keynote speech in Charlotte.

There’s no guarantee they’ll be chosen, but Christie and Warren are unusually obvious and logical candidates for the slots. Both have exploded onto the national scene during the Obama presidency by articulating their parties’ basic message and values with more charisma and precision than anyone else – including, arguably, their parties’ nominees.

That would be quite a contrast!

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Wednesday Reads: Pelosi, SOTU, and a Bucket of KFF

Good Morning!

I completely forgot that today was my day to write the morning reads. So this post is being written on the fly…

We had a live blog on Obama’s SOTU last night. Twitter was very busy. It was the first speech I have seen discussed on the Twitterverse and I had a good time reading these quick jabs throughout the night. It reminded me of being in my college history class…and some of us would make funny comments about Janet Leigh’s pointy viking brassiere as we watched The Viking or quoting from Monty Python’s Holy Grail while Charlton Heston defended his castle in The Warlord.

Charles Krauthammer had this to say about Obama’s speech:

Following the State Of The Union address, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer commended President Obama for delivering a speech “that struck the right tone.” “It was less partisan than I would have expected,” Krauthammer observed.

“There were a couple of illusions to Republican obstruction, but I think he struck the right tone for the State of the Union address and didn’t open up to attacks,” Krauthammer — who is often thought of as President Obama’s chief critic — continued.

“The one area where he spoke forcibly and I think dramatically was on raising the taxes on the rich,” Krauthammer added. “That was sort of the only strong aspect of the speech but in other respects, but that’s just a repeat of the decade of debate over the Bush tax cuts. Other than that, it’s hard to say what exactly does he want for the country in the next year and in the next term and that I think he hasn’t answered. He’ll do that when he starts his swing around the swing states tomorrow.”

I thought Obama spoke a bit different last night…like he has had some help with his delivery. I liked it a lot better than when he channels MLK, the King cadence and way of speaking just does not seem to fit him.

I also thought starting with Osama and ending with Osama was smart…reminding all those GOP folks that he did what Bush couldn’t. He may have pulled the troops out of Iraq on Bush’s terms, but he sure as hell iced Osama on his own watch.

For other articles on the speech:

A re-election speech in State of the Union clothing – Political Hotsheet – CBS New

Focus group suggests State of the Union speech was well-received – latimes.com

Obama State of the Union Address Makes Pitch for Economic Fairness – NYTimes.com

I will post more reactions to the speech in the comments below….

Last night Nancy Pelosi once again threw out another threat…Newt will never be president. You may remember her comment about this late last year. Well, she said it again…Pelosi On A Gingrich Presidency: “That Will Never Happen”

John King, CNN: “You make your case there passionately for President Obama. But also understand that this is a tough reelection climate for any president, Democrat or Republican in this economy. Because of your history with Speaker Gingrich, what goes through your mind when you think of the possibility, which is more real today than it was a week or a month ago, that he would be the Republican nominee and that you could come back here next January or next February with a President Gingrich?”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi: “Let me just say this. That will never happen.”

King: “Why?”

Pelosi: “He’s not going to be President of the United States. That’s not going to happen. Let me just make my prediction and stand by it, it isn’t going to happen.”

King: “Why are you so sure?”

Pelosi: “There is something I know. The Republicans, if they choose to nominate him that’s their prerogative. I don’t even think that’s going to happen.”

Hmmm, you would think that Pelosi would want Gingrich as the GOP candidate, since he would be an easier defeat than Romney. I wonder, what could she possibly know that would hurt Gingrich with his mad batshit crazy supporters? If open marriage and lies about lobbying and ethics charges didn’t do it…what will?

It can’t have anything to do with men’s rooms in major US airports…that’s been done before. Could it be some sort of diaper fetish with hookers? Oh…nope, ditto on that one too.  Was Newt formally Newtina? That would be a new one on the GOP hypocrites…But seriously, it must be some pretty bad shit if all the other crap Gingrich has done hasn’t frazzled the Christian Right wingnuts.

(Sorry for the language. I think these GOP candidates bring out the “juicy” words in me.) PAD Political Affected Disorder, has that affect…

Continuing with Newt for a moment longer. Got Medieval, one of my favorite blogs, wrote a post on Gingrich. Newt Gingrich: History’s Greatest Team — Got Medieval

You’ve got to admire the Romney folks for putting out that memo listing the various historical figures that Newt Gingrich has compared himself to over the years. It’s a pretty nifty dig at an opponent, even if it didn’t net Mitt a win in South Carolina.

Now, I know Newt and I have had words before about his historical comparisons, but I’m prepared to let bygones be bygones. Both he and I are Georgians, after all, and when I was but a wee lad I even lived in his district, so you could say we go way back. I’m prepared to take him at his word that these really are the people he sees himself in.

Well, to say I’m “prepared” is sort of revisionist history on my part.* I have to admit, I originally planned this post as a point-by-point analysis of Newt’s self-declared historical analogues, but where would that get us?  Who knows what Newt thinks these people are famous for, much less what he thinks he shares with them? I surely don’t. Here’s a guy who thinks Braveheart planted a flag in the ground and yelled “Charge!”, rather than “Steady. Hold. Hold! HOLD! NOOOOW!!”–what Mel Gibson says when I play my DVD.** If Newt buys his history books at the same place that sells these special Reverse Director’s Cuts,*** his Henry Clay may turn out to be the inventor of calculus and his Pericles the first discoverer of America.

Check out those footnotes, they are awesome, but they sure as hell don’t beat the photo of Newt in full regalia.

So I’m not quite prepared to take him at his word, more just resigned to it. In lieu of my fisking out historical ripostes, please accept this, my artist’s rendering of Newt’s professed self-image:****

All hail our next president, the Viking Duke Dr. President Prime Minister Rabbi Speaker Ronald Woodrow Abraham Margaret William Wilbur Henry Moses Pericles Orville Wallace Thatcher Clay Wellington Wilson Wright Reagan Lincoln de Gaulle, PhD. Long may they reign.

Gotta love the Bonzo reference.  Hey Newt, what ya got under that kilt? Ugh…did I just say that?

And as far as Mittens goes, Mitt Romney’s tax information sits uneasily with Florida voters

‘Get a real job,’ suggests one voter after learning of the candidate’s high income. Others are bothered that he equivocated before releasing the information.

Do you all remember that comment about being unemployed while he was in the Tampa Bay area last year?

I think some of those Florida long-term unemployed take exception to Romney’s wealth.

Even before Tuesday, Mitt Romney was struggling to connect to average voters, suffering from impromptu remarks — proffering a $10,000 wager in a debate, suggesting $375,000 in speaking fees was small change — that gave off a whiff of privilege.

Then came Romney’s release of tax returns showing that in 2010 he claimed $21.6 million in income, with an effective tax rate of less than 14%, far less than many middle-class families pay. He also estimated $20.9 million in income for 2011, with a rate of just over 15%.

Jeanne Johnson, a political independent and owner of the Lake Alfred Barber Shop, said that when she heard the news of Romney’s taxes on TV, “I thought I was going to throw up.”

And this isn’t going to help things either: Romney, sinking in polls, says ‘banks aren’t bad people’

Before a crowd of several hundred curious onlookers, drawn to the event by local TV news coverage on an unseasonably hot January afternoon, the former Massachusetts governor tried to draw attention to the housing sector’s continuing drag on the country’s struggle to bounce back from the worst recession since the 1930s.

Romney did not offer any specific prescriptions of his own. Instead, he fingered Obama for blame, along with new regulations designed to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial collapse.

He said the Dodd-Frank legislation package had smothered banks with regulations that made it harder for them to help struggling homeowners dig out from mortgages that in many case are larger than the value of their homes.

“Now, the banks aren’t bad people. They’re just overwhelmed right now,” Romney said. “They’re overwhelmed with a lot of things. One is a lot of homes coming in, that are in foreclosure or in trouble, and the other is with a massive new pile of regulations.”

What was it that barber said up top? I think I’m going to throw up…

Which brings me to this link from Wall Street Journal: Stephens: The GOP Deserves to Lose

Let’s just say right now what voters will be saying in November, once Barack Obama has been re-elected: Republicans deserve to lose.

It doesn’t matter that Mr. Obama can’t get the economy out of second gear. It doesn’t matter that he cynically betrayed his core promise as a candidate to be a unifying president. It doesn’t matter that he keeps blaming Bush. It doesn’t matter that he thinks ATMs are weapons of employment destruction. It doesn’t matter that Tim Geithner remains secretary of Treasury. It doesn’t matter that the result of his “reset” with Russia is Moscow selling fighter jets to Damascus. It doesn’t matter that the Obama name is synonymous with the most unpopular law in memory. It doesn’t matter that his wife thinks America doesn’t deserve him. It doesn’t matter that the Evel Knievel theory of fiscal stimulus isn’t going to make it over the Snake River Canyon of debt.

Above all, it doesn’t matter that Americans are generally eager to send Mr. Obama packing. All they need is to be reasonably sure that the alternative won’t be another fiasco. But they can’t be reasonably sure, so it’s going to be four more years of the disappointment you already know.

As for the current GOP field, it’s like confronting a terminal diagnosis. There may be an apparent range of treatments: conventional (Romney), experimental (Gingrich), homeopathic (Paul) or prayerful (Santorum). But none will avail you in the end. Just try to exit laughing.

Read the rest of Bret Stephens post at the link…and remember this dude is writing from a Republican point of view.

What should readers who despair of a second Obama term make of all this? Hope ObamaCare is repealed by the High Court, the Iranian bomb is repealed by the Israeli Air Force, and the Senate switches hands, giving America a healthy spell of Hippocratic government.

All perfectly plausible. And the U.S. will surely survive four more years. Who knows? By then maybe Republicans will have figured out that if they don’t want to lose, they shouldn’t run with losers.

Alright, that is enough of the GOP primary crap.

For those of you who are depressed, and the first part of this post did not help matters…rejoice! Magic mushroom trips point to new depression drugs

The brains of people tripping on magic mushrooms have given the best picture yet of how psychedelic drugs work and British scientists say the findings suggest such drugs could be used to treat depression.

Two separate studies into the effects of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, showed that contrary to scientists’ expectations, it does not increase but rather suppresses activity in areas of the brain that are also dampened with other anti-depressant treatments.

Sign me up for the test trials…I want a magic mushroom.

There are a group of people in the US that may need large doses of depressants, and I am sure they are stocking up. Subculture of Americans prepares for civilization’s collapse

When Patty Tegeler looks out the window of her home overlooking the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Virginia, she sees trouble on the horizon.

“In an instant, anything can happen,” she told Reuters. “And I firmly believe that you have to be prepared.”

Tegeler is among a growing subculture of Americans who refer to themselves informally as “preppers.” Some are driven by a fear of imminent societal collapse, others are worried about terrorism, and many have a vague concern that an escalating series of natural disasters is leading to some type of environmental cataclysm.

They are following in the footsteps of hippies in the 1960s who set up communes to separate themselves from what they saw as a materialistic society, and the survivalists in the 1990s who were hoping to escape the dictates of what they perceived as an increasingly secular and oppressive government.

Preppers, though are, worried about no government.

Tegeler, 57, has turned her home in rural Virginia into a “survival center,” complete with a large generator, portable heaters, water tanks, and a two-year supply of freeze-dried food that her sister recently gave her as a birthday present. She says that in case of emergency, she could survive indefinitely in her home. And she thinks that emergency could come soon.

My best friend in the world is one of these Preppers. She lives out in Iowa, among the corn fields and republicans…I worry about her a lot. She is a huge Glenn Beck fan, and at times I think the nature of being a Beck follower causes people to forget what and who they are.

Conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck seems to preach preppers’ message when he tells listeners: “It’s never too late to prepare for the end of the world as we know it.”

“Unfortunately, given the increasing complexity and fragility of our modern technological society, the chances of a societal collapse are increasing year after year,” said author James Wesley Rawles, whose Survival Blog is considered the guiding light of the prepper movement.

A former Army intelligence officer, Rawles has written fiction and non-fiction books on end-of-civilization topics, including “How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It,” which is also known as the preppers’ Bible.

“We could see a cascade of higher interest rates, margin calls, stock market collapses, bank runs, currency revaluations, mass street protests, and riots,” he told Reuters. “The worst-case end result would be a Third World War, mass inflation, currency collapses, and long term power grid failures.”

Those of you who are reading or have read Charles P Pierce’s book Idiot America will find this next bit intriguing.

Many of today’s preppers receive inspiration from the Internet, devouring information posted on websites like that run by attorney Michael T. Snider, who writes The Economic Collapse blog out of his home in northern Idaho.

“Modern preppers are much different from the survivalists of the old days,” he said. “You could be living next door to a prepper and never even know it. Many suburbanites are turning spare rooms into food pantries and are going for survival training on the weekends.”

Like other preppers, Snider is worried about the end of a functioning U.S. economy. He points out that tens of millions of Americans are on food stamps and that many U.S. children are living in poverty.

“Most people have a gut feeling that something has gone terribly wrong, but that doesn’t mean that they understand what is happening,” he said. “A lot of Americans sense that a massive economic storm is coming and they want to be prepared for it.”

Yeah, the Gut…as Pierce writes:

In the place of expertise, we have elevated the Gut, and the Gut is a moron, as anyone who has ever tossed a golf club, punched a wall, or kicked an errant lawn mower knows. We occasionally dress up the Gut by calling it “common sense.” The president’s former advisor on medical ethics regularly refers to the “yuck factor.” The Gut is common. It is democratic. It is the roiling repository of dark and ancient fears. Worst of all, the Gut is faith-based.

It’s a dishonest phrase for a dishonest time, “faith-based,” a cheap huckster’s phony term of art. It sounds like an additive, an artificial flavoring to make crude biases taste of bread and wine. It’s a word for people without the courage to say they are religious, and it is beloved not only by politicians too cowardly to debate something as substantial as faith but also by Idiot America, which is too lazy to do it.

After all, faith is about the heart and soul and about transcendence. Anything calling itself faith-based is admitting that it is secular and profane. In the way that it relies on the Gut to determine its science, its politics, and even the way it sends its people to war, Idiot America is not a country of faith; it’s a faith-based country, fashioning itself in the world, which is not the place where faith is best fashioned.

Hofstadter saw this one coming. “Intellect is pitted against feeling,” he wrote, “on the ground that it is somehow inconsistent with warm emotion. It is pitted against character, because it is widely believed that intellect stands for mere cleverness, which transmutes easily into the sly or the diabolical.”

The Gut is the basis for the Great Premises of Idiot America. We hold these truths to be self-evident:
1) Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units.
2) Anything can be true if somebody says it on television.
3) Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.

Throwing up and the Gut…Where the hell are we going to? Lean forward, push back…it all just makes me confused and unhappy.

Hey, let’s end with something a little funny?

The Most Badass Excerpt From Barney Frank’s Interview With The NY Times

Interviewer: You’ve long argued for the decriminalization of marijuana. Do you smoke weed?

Barney Frank: No.

Interviewer: Why not?

Barney Frank: Why do you ask a question, then act surprised when I give an answer? Do you think I lie to people?

Interviewer: I thought you might explain why you support decriminalizing it but don’t smoke it.

Barney Frank: Do you think I’ve ever had an abortion?

Hey…that must be it! That is the big secret Pelosi is referring to…Newt has had an abortion!

Oh, heaven preserve us! He has had an abortion and satisfied his gluttony for food as well. Perhaps it would be the only thing the PLUB GOP could find offensive enough?

A Republican state senator from Oklahoma City introduced a bill Tuesday that would ban the use of aborted human fetuses in food, despite conceding that he’s unaware of any company using such a practice.

Freshman Sen. Ralph Shortey said his own Internet research led him to believe such a ban is necessary and prompted him to offer the bill aimed at raising “public awareness” and giving an “ultimatum to companies” that might consider such a policy.

Somebody get that Shortey dude some magic mushrooms! Oh wait, it looks like he has been on them for an extended period of time.

What are you all reading and writing about…I’ll be seeing you in the comments after I get finished with this KFF (Kentucky Fried Fetus) bucket of fetuses made with seven herbs and spices. Mmmmm, I just love that Original Recipe!


The Pack turns on the Grinch

I wrote a bit this morning about Willard using Attack Barbie Anne Coulter against the Newster in Iowa. Well, there’s a sh#t storm of right wing media celebs ganging up to stop his big Mo going into January. You gotta love it when the pit bulls of the right turn on each other. Mind my links because most of them are going straight into the dog pounds of right blogosphere.

First up, Glenn Beck says that he’ll support Ron Paul in a third party run for president if Gingrich takes the Republican nomination.

Glenn Beck said this morning on his radio show that if Newt Gingrich is the nominee and Ron Paul runs third party, he’d consider voting for Ron Paul over Newt Gingrich, and he hates Ron Paul’s policies on the Middle East:

Michale Savage has offered the Grinch a million dollars to quit the race. Mind the caps, they come straight from both ends of the horse.

THE REASONS WHY GINGRICH CANNOT SUCCEED IN AN ELECTION AGAINST OBAMA:

WHEN HE WAS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, GINGRICH FAILED TO DELIVER ON HIS SO-CALLED CONTRACT WITH AMERICA.
HE MADE ADS WITH NANCY PELOSI PROMOTING THE FALSE THEORY OF GLOBAL WARMING.
HE’S IN FAVOR OF AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS.
HE’S TAKEN HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FROM FANNIE MAE AND FREDDIE MAC, TWO OF THE MOST CORRUPT FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS IN HISTORY.
HE’S CHEATED ON TWO WIVES AND LEFT BOTH OF THEM WHILE THEY WERE BOTH SERIOUSLY ILL, WHICH WILL DESTROY HIS CHANCES AMONG FEMALE VOTERS.
HE CALLED THE REPUBLICAN PLAN TO REFORM MEDICARE “RIGHT WING SOCIAL ENGINEERING.”
IN A PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE AGAINST OBAMA, REGARDLESS OF HOW WELL HE DOES, ON TELEVISION, HE WILL COME OFF BADLY COMPARED TO OBAMA AND LOOK LIKE NOTHING MORE THAN WHAT HE IS: A FAT, OLD, WHITE MAN.

George Will reminded every one of his Newtness in the 90s. This quote is from his Sunday appearance on This Week

“Newt Gingrich was a shooting star in this town, this prominent Republican from 1994 to 1998. He was, at that point, the most disliked politician in America, probably, and he was deposed by his own party. He says, ‘I’m the most electable.’”

Will called Gingrich a “rental politician” in the previous week’s This Week.

Gingrich’s is an amazingly efficient candidacy, in that it embodies almost everything disagreeable about modern Washington. He’s the classic rental politician. People think his problem is his colorful personal life. He’s gonna hope people concentrate on that, rather than on, for example, ethanol. Al Gore has recanted ethanol. Not Newt Gingrich, who has served the ethanol lobby. Industrial policy of the sort that got us Solyndra – he’s all for it. Freddie Mac, he says, hired him as a “historian.” He’s not a historian. Hire Sean Wilentz, hire Gordon Wood if you want a historian.

Huffpo has a gallery of who’s who of the Republican Political Punditry that’s out against Newt.

Prominent conservatives like Ann Coulter, George Will and David Brooks have started to voice concerns about the former Speaker of the House, comparing Gingrich to everything from a hand grenade to a 1960s-style reveler.

Peggy Noonan, writing in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, posited that most observations about Newt are accurate.

“Ethically dubious? True. Intelligent and accomplished? True. Has he known breathtaking success and contributed to real reforms in government? Yes. Presided over disasters? Absolutely. Can he lead? Yes. Is he erratic and unreliable as a leader? Yes. Egomaniacal? True. Original and focused, harebrained and impulsive — all true,” she wrote.

I bet this delightful turn of events is enough to make David Pflouffe believe in Santa Claus.  I’m just getting a huge belly laugh out of the whole thing.


Sunday Reads: The Almighty Hand and Being Mad as Hell!

Painting by Mark Webster via Daily Painters Blog

Good morning all! It is Sunday and I have lots of things to share with you. We all might be able to identify with this first link. It seems that the GOP are the way they are because of the way their brains are functioning.

NationalJournal.com – Could Politics Be Hard-Wired? – Thursday, April 7, 2011

Republicans and Democrats remained implacably opposed over the budget right up to the shutdown deadline this week. They can’t agree on how to improve health care, on defense spending, or even on what the American people want most. Could the differences be biological?

Researchers in the United Kingdom think so. They published a study in Current Biology this week showing they could see political differences in the brain.

MRI scans might also be able to reveal a person's political leanings.

They did magnetic resonance imaging or MRI scans on dozens of young London university students who were willing to define their political leanings as liberal or conservative. The differences could be seen in their brains.

Self-described conservatives had noticeably more brain cells in the amygdala—the so-called fear center. This little area of the brain is linked with detecting emotions in others, as well.

Liberals, in contrast, had well-developed regions in the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region linked with coping with change and uncertainty.

So the fear center has more brain cells in the conservative? That explains some of their ridiculous ideas…but does not tell me why they have become such Fetus Fanatics. As Dakinikat has pointed out, the Republicans have not always been PLUBs.

There was a “grand compromise” this past Friday night…and according to Richard (RJ) Eskow: Why Progressives Keep On Losing and the Right Keeps On Winning

Congratulations! The “grand compromise” will cut nearly thirty nine billion dollars in needed government spending, which proves how “serious” everyone is about reducing the deficit. The grand compromisers could have cancelled the next ten years of tax subsidies for oil companies and cut the deficit by forty billion, but apparently that’s not how serious people do things.

If the Republican Party were singing to its base today, the song would be the theme from Friends, “I’ll Be There For You.” And the Democrats would be singing “You Always Hurt the One You Love.” We’re being told we should celebrate a “compromise” in which Democrats gave up $38.5 billion in spending cuts, when the original Republican demand was for $32 billion. That means the Democrats only gave the Republicans 20% more (20.2135%, to be precise) than they originally demanded.

Now, I don’t agree with Eskow on the following:

And progressives can’t be blamed for helping to elect a president who either misrepresented his positions on a number of issues or reversed himself once he was elected. (A sample: the health excise tax, which he opposed and later actively worked to enact; the individual mandate for health care coverage, which he opposed and then supported; some matters of civil liberties; and science policy).

[…]

Despite the naysayers, the nation elected a President who presented himself as an unambiguous progressive and gave him both houses of Congress too. So it can be done. So what keeps going wrong, over and over?

Nope, excuse me, but there are many progressives out there who had Obama pegged from the beginning. So don’t try to give excuses for the Left’s utter hook line and sinker reaction to the One,  or as Pelosi said, the gift from God…

Dakinikat has written some great post on this lately, but I thought I would link to some other articles.  I will leave the commentary on this to the expert.
Budget deal leaves liberals disheartened – Abby Phillip – POLITICO.com

The $38.5 billion deal brokered between Republicans and President Barack Obama on Friday night may have resolved the immediate threat of a government shutdown. But it didn’t take long for many liberal Democrats to begin to realize that there might be not much cause for celebration in the substance of that deal.

In the final hours before the federal government was to run out of money April 8, Democrats homed in on attempts by Republicans to pass anti-abortion policy riders that would defund women’s health programs and Planned Parenthood. But soon after the deal was struck, Democrats turned back to a debate not about where to cut, but whether there should be cuts at all – and who should bear the brunt of the burden.

Princeton University professor Paul Krugman noted that by agreeing to this level of budget cuts, Obama had accepted the premise that the economy has recovered enough to withstand the withdrawal of federal spending. Despite the fragile economic recovery, the economy is still not strong enough, Krugman argued.

“It’s worth noting that this follows just a few months after another big concession, in which he gave in to Republican demands for tax cuts,” Krugman said in his New York Times column on Saturday. “The net effect of these two sets of concessions is, of course, a substantial increase in the deficit.”

But it seemed that the Obama administration had long ago abandoned that line of argument.

Pulling the Plug on Working Families to Give Tax Cuts to Millionaires | Crooks and Liars

The Ryan budget is a remarkable document: all of its budget cuts hammer working class families, seniors, and students — while all of its tax cuts go straight to millionaires. It does almost nothing to deal with the deficit, yet still manages to deal a death blow to virtually every member of the working middle class and everyone trying to work their way into it. It is especially hard on seniors and the most vulnerable in society in the midst of the toughest economic times since the Great Depression, doing serious economic damage to anyone who isn’t a millionaire, oil company, or Wall Street bank. The good news, for those who are millionaires? They get so many economic benefits it will be hard to keep track of them all.

Why Defunding Planned Parenthood is Bad Economics » New Deal 2.0

The Guttmacher Institute has found that for every dollar invested in family planning about four are saved. Why is that? Pregnancy is very expensive, as is raising a child, for women who can’t afford it. “There is no better preventative investment than family planning,” Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Ellen Chesler says. After all, the cost burden shifts to the public sector for children who are born into poverty.

But there’s another cost that all of us feel when women are denied access to family planning: “Women can’t do their jobs, create new jobs, or add to the country’s economic well-being if they can’t control their fertility,” she points out. Women make up nearly half of the workforce and help drive the U.S. economy. If we’re constantly at risk of becoming pregnant all the time, it is very difficult to do our jobs, particularly with the lack of social programs that benefit us or help with balancing work and family. “It’s as important a tool to us as education and health care,” she says.

What Planned Parenthood actually does – Ezra Klein – The Washington Post


(Planned Parenthood)

With Planned Parenthood being either the major obstacle to a budget deal or one of the major obstacles to a budget deal, it’s worth taking a minute explaining what they do — and what they don’t do.

As you can see in the chart atop this post, abortion services account for about 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s activities. That’s less than cancer screening and prevention (16 percent), STD testing for both men and women (35 percent), and contraception (also 35 percent). About 80 percent of Planned Parenthood’s users are over age 20, and 75 percent have incomes below 150 percent of the poverty line. Planned Parenthood itself estimates it prevents more than 620,000 unintended pregnancies each year, and 220,000 abortions. It’s also worth noting that federal law already forbids Planned Parenthood from using the funds it receives from the government for abortions.

Charles the Bald

I think that Boston Boomer mentioned this earlier in the week:  ThinkProgress » Idaho Rejects Rape Exception In Abortion Bill Because ‘The Hand Of The Almighty’ Was At Work

But this year during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, state Republican lawmakers found plenty of reasons to advocate for it. State Rep. Shannon McMillan (R) argued that women who were impregnated under “violent circumstances” should have no choice because it’s not the fetus’s fault. State Rep. Brent Crane, the bill’s sponsor, took it a step further. Believing that “tragic, horrific” acts of rape or incest are the “hand of the Almighty,” Crane said women should trust God to turn the consequences of their sexual assault into “wonderful examples”:

“Is not the child of that rape or incest also a victim?” asked Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton. “It didn’t ask to be here. It was here under violent circumstances perhaps, but that was through no fault of its own.”[…]

The Idaho bill’s House sponsor, state Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, told legislators that the “hand of the Almighty” was at work. “His ways are higher than our ways,” Crane said. “He has the ability to take difficult, tragic, horrific circumstances and then turn them into wonderful examples.”

Charles the Bald, with the Pope and "The Church" below him at his feet. The Hand of God giving him the power to rule directly...

The recent invocation of the hand of the almighty in Idaho made me think of the artwork from the Middle Ages. Specifically around the time of the Holy Roman Empire.  During the Carolingian Empire, when Medieval thought of the Divine Right of Kings was being “discussed” or should I say “fought” between rulers like Charlemagne and Charles the Bald, and the Pope…power was seen as coming directly from God to the King, and not from God through the Papacy…the actual Hand of God would be used in art to depict the idea… in the two images above, see the Hand coming down from the Heavens as if to say…”That’s my boy!”

This next picture below comes from the Secretary of State website, and the blog Dipnote:

This week's photo of the week comes to us from USAID and shows women and children at a health clinic at an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Haiti. USAID implements America's foreign economic and humanitarian assistance program in Haiti. To achieve their goal to reduce poverty and build democracy in Haiti, USAID/Haiti has six areas of focus: health, democracy, environment, economic growth, education and food security. Read more by clicking the photo above.

Okay, this next link is from No Quarter, and in noooooo way implies that the ideas and thoughts presented on the NQ blog are in any way the same as my own…I link to it because it does raise a big question…Is The MSM Hiding Attacks On Women Journalists? : NO QUARTER

Again? So it would seem. This time, it is in Palestine by Hamas Security officers. But I bet you haven’t heard a word about it, have you? Had it not been for Phyllis Chesler, I wouldn’t have known, either.

In Chesler’s excellent post, “Arab Spring: Male-on-Female Atrocities In Gaza Disappeared By The Western Media,” she details what eight, that is 8, women journalists endured while trying to cover – get this – a Unity rally (more on that below).

Ironic, ain’t it?

Anyway, one would have thought after what happened to Lara Logan, and a number of other women journalists in Egypt recently, that maybe, just maybe, the MSM would be better about covering these sorts of attacks. And one would be wrong:

Last month, at least eight Muslim Palestinian female journalists were physically beaten with clubs, iron chairs, and fists, stabbed, and tortured with electric shocks by male Hamas security forces in the Gaza strip. Their cell phones, laptops, documents, and cameras were confiscated. They were also arrested. Some were forced to sign a document “pledging to refrain from covering such events again.”

The “events” were a series of pro-unity rallies organized by Palestinian youth on Facebook (!) which demanded an end to the dispute between Islamist Hamas and a presumably more moderate Fatah.

So much for the Arab “spring,” and the purposefully misguided Western (and these heroically naïve youthful demonstrators’) belief that the increasingly well organized Islamist Middle East will really rise up on behalf of human rights and women’s rights—without which there can be no democracy.[snip]

[…]

Oh, I should add, not only were these women beaten, and had stun guns used on them, but one was literally stabbed in the back. By a member of the Hamas Security force, that is, as this article highlights, Gaza Cops Use ‘Beatings, Stun Guns’ On Women Reporters.

It is remarkable, isn’t it? That these attacks on women journalists are not being covered by the MSM still? Is it because it doesn’t fit the narrative? So it would seem. What a shame that the small window that opened when Lara Logan was brutally assaulted closed so quickly. That is telling in and of itself about our media, about journalism, and about news in general.

These women in Palestine deserve better. They deserve more. They deserve to not have their stories swept under the proverbial rug by their fellow journalists. Their voices deserve to be heard. Hear them now.

 

Journalists have been missing in Libya as well: Journalists under attack in Libya: The tally – Blog – Committee to Protect Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the fate of American freelance journalist Matthew VanDyke, who has been missing in Libya since mid-March, according to his family and news reports. He is among 15 reporters either missing or in government custody in Libya.

To see more about recent attacks on journalists, go to the home page of Press Freedom Online – Committee to Protect Journalists

Thanks to Dak for this next link: Waking the Lion | Politics | Vanity Fair

Turning his camera on Egypt’s 18-day miracle, Jonas Fredwall Karlsson captures face-to-face the thrilling, tech-savvy tide that drew all eyes to Tahrir Square, swept away Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule, and set off similar protests across the Middle East. Ron Beinner reports, while Henry Porter dissects the protesters’ world-altering triumph: an anger that defied death, the ingenuity that stymied a brutal police state, and a sense of freedom that will never be lost.

Be sure to look at the pictures in the gallery at the link above.

More is going on in MENA, and with all the news about the budget, it has not gotten the attention it deserves. So take a look at the items below.

Gbagbo forces attack Ouattara base in Abidjan – Africa – Al Jazeera English

Forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, Cote d’Ivoire’s incumbent president, have fired mortars at the hotel where the Ivorian leader’s internationally recognised rival is based.

<pMigrants forced to fight for Gaddafi – Features – Al Jazeera English>

‘They said we must stay to fight when the Americans come,’ a Ghanaian worker tells Al Jazeera from a refugee camp.

Among the reports of atrocities occurring in Libya are claims from African migrants that they were abducted and forced to fight with Gaddafi’s forces.

Nearly all migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, who arrive at the desert refugee camp in Tunisia, have fled in fear of violent reprisals by Libyans who accuse them of being mercenaries. The extent to which Gaddafi’s military has used foreign mercenaries, or press-ganged migrants into fighting, remains unclear.

A former Nigerian police officer, who had worked in Libya for eight years as a technician, alleges he was abducted in mid-March at a military checkpoint in Tripoli, along with other men from Ghana, Mali and Niger, before being taken to a military centre.

“There was up to 100 people in the courtyard and military trucks were arriving and leaving with more people. They started beating people, I saw them shoot one Ghanaian in front of me. The atmosphere was very intimidating,” he explained. “They put us into a vehicle and we were driven into the desert. I saw an oil refinery, there was evidence of bomb strikes, burnt out vehicles and a strong smell. I think it was Ras Lanouf.”

A Ghanaian worker claimed to have been abducted by Libyan military when they stormed his house in Sirte.

“They asked us why we were trying to leave the country and that we must stay to fight for when the Americans come,” he explained. “We were taken to a police station and then to an underground hospital which they ordered us to clean.”

BBC News – Yemen unrest: Hundreds injured in Sanaa protests

Hundreds of anti-government protesters are reported to have been hurt in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, a day after similar clashes in the city of Taiz.

The BBC correspondent in Sanaa says the area has been blocked off by army trucks, and single gunshots echo through the city.

Doctors say at least a dozen people have gunshot wounds, and others were treated for the effects of tear gas.

The country has seen weeks of protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

President Saleh earlier recalled his ambassador to Qatar after dismissing a proposal by the Gulf states for him to step down.

Two dead as Egyptian army forces protesters out of Tahrir Square | Amnesty International

Amnesty International today condemned the excessive use of force used by the Egyptian army when at least two protesters were reportedly killed when soldiers attempted to disperse those gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

Protesters told Amnesty International the army used sticks, electric batons, shot in the air and drove armored vehicles into the protest causing a number of injuries.

Some 15 people were also reportedly detained, as well as six army officers who joined the protest.

“The Egyptian authorities have once again failed to respect the right to peaceful protest by using the same tactics of repression as those of the former government,” said Amnesty International.

“All those arrested for merely exercising their right to protest peacefully must be released immediately and an independent investigation begun into these disturbing events.”

Thousands of protesters had gathered in Tahrir Square following Friday prayers to demand the trial of former president Hosni Mubarak and other officials suspected of corruption and human rights violations.

[…]

“The image the Egyptian army is trying to project greatly contradicts with reports of it torturing and otherwise ill-treating those it detains, including carrying out ‘virginity tests’ on women detainees,” said Amnesty International.

“They must ensure that no such treatment is no longer meted out to anyone detained by them.”

Okay, this next link is something I thought you all would find real interesting. I have added this book to my AMAZON cart. This is just a quick quote below, however I would really hope you just click the link and read the entire book review…Karen Lee Wald: Cuba From the Other Side – Book Review – Truthdig

I thought it would be helpful if people who are always hearing and reading about the “repression of dissidents” in Cuba and jump to their defense could also hear the other side: what happened to the thousands of people whose lives were affected by the actions of terrorists from inside and outside the country. I thought it would put a human face on the statistics regarding the material and human damage caused by counterrevolutionaries and mercenaries who are euphemistically called “dissidents” or “anti-Castro militants.”

“Voices From the Other Side” does this. But it also does a great deal more.

I did not realize that the debris from the Japanese Tsunami would reach our Pacific Coast as described below, but just imagine the image of all those houses floating in the vast ocean. It must be so surreal, like Dorothy’s house flying through the sky…out of place and very alone.

Japan Earthquake – Debris West Coast – Fukushima | Mediaite

The devastation in Japan after the massive earthquake and tsunami last month appears to have no end, and within a year’s time much of what was destroyed may end up on U.S. shores. Scientists are now predicting that it will take a year for the wreckage from towns essentially erased off the map to end up in Washington, Oregon and California, wreckage including whole houses, cars, and human remains.

Yesterday we lost one of the best directors ever to come out of Hollywood. Sidney Lumet dies aged 86 | Film | guardian.co.uk For a complete rundown of his movies, this next link from IMDB is the best. Sidney Lumet: 1924-2011

Director Sidney Lumet, whose gritty portraits of New York City earned him four Oscar nominations for Best Director for films such as Dog Day Afternoon and Network, died Saturday of lymphoma at his home in Manhattan; he was 86.

From Minx’s Missing Link File: One of Fox News lunatics is out! So I thought that these two articles from C and L are the best at reviewing the events that led up to the mad chalkboards. A look back on Beck’s nutty Fox News career: Turning discourse into a series of stunts | Crooks and Liars

Now, there are plenty of things to object to about Glenn’s trainwreck of a career at Fox, particularly the noxious and yet little-noticed way he almost effortlessly mainstreamed extremist ideas and rhetoric, most recently with his full-bore descent into promoting John Birch Society conspiracism. Undoubtedly, Beck’s relentless fearmongering and the vicious eliminationism of his rhetoric were important components of what made Beck so toxic. Media Matters has compiled an impressive list of the “50 Worst Things Glenn Beck Said On Fox News” that gives a pretty good rundown — but is really only a start.

And for your viewing pleasure: Jon Stewart’s Epic Parody Of Glenn Beck | Video Cafe

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the week: Some Medieval History for you…Queening: Chess and Women in Medieval and Renaissance France – Medievalists.net

Queening: Chess and Women in Medieval and Renaissance France

By Regina L. O‘Shea

Master’s Thesis, Brigham Young University, 2010

Abstract: This work explores the correlation between the game of chess and social conditions for women in both medieval and Renaissance France. Beginning with an introduction to the importance and symbolism of the game in European society and the teaching of the game to European nobility, this study theorizes how chess relates to gender politics in early modern France and how the game‘s evolution reflects the changing role of women. I propose that modifications to increase the directional and quantitative abilities of the Queen piece made at the close of the fifteenth century reflect changing attitudes towards women of the period, especially women in power. In correlation with this, I also assert that the action of queening, or promotion of a Pawn to a Queen, demonstrates evolving conceptions of women as well. This work seeks to add to the growing body of work devoted to the exploration of connections between chess and political and social circumstances during the periods under consideration. As the question of the interconnectedness between the game and gender relations is in its beginning stages of exploration, this thesis is offered as a further analysis of the gender anxieties and conceptions present in the game‘s theory and history.

So what are you reading about today? Give it to me baby…..