Sunday Reads: Don’t expect humanity from a #ShitholePresident

 

 

When talking about the racist president in the White House… (and I still can’t believe a year later that turd of a man is the president.) Whether, it be Asshole or Shithole, both words describe both his personality and outlook on and to humanity. Well, I should place a caveat there and state *humanity that does not look or have the same qualities as he does…mainly white and wealthy. Aryan white and like, yugely wealthy.

It has been a few days since he called the Continent of Africa…a shithole nation. And don’t tell me he did not also mean that extended to Haiti and El Salvador and other Black or Brown populous countries.

Whatever any of his people may say or lie to protect their “Dear Leader” or (for what I tend to believe more myself…) to protect their own ass from whatever Kompromat the said “Dear Leader” may have on them. Uh…I am talking about the performance from Tom Collins and Perdue et al.

G.O.P. Senator Says Trump Didn’t Use Vulgarity for Haiti and African Nations – The New York Times

Transcript: Sen. Tom Cotton on “Face the Nation,” Jan. 14, 2018 – CBS News

I guess Cotton and Perdue got the message? Check out the time on this…JAN 12, 2018, 2:58 PM…that is the time that post was published over at Think Progress.

Read those links if you want to…it should come as no surprise. Especially after the other attempts to wag the dog have gone amiss. (Now that is my own opinion, and what is that saying? About assholes?) But after becoming so jaded over the past few years, you cannot tell me that certain news items were not leaked to get the news cycle off the Shithole comment. Especially after it was apparent that the victory lap which was previously taken the night before, was premature to say the least.

 

But you see:

 

I think the orange shithole let the porn star leak…and if you really want to know…I think there is something strangely tRumpian about this “Mistake” over in Hawaii.

Hey, maybe he knew it was coming?

 

It did take the Shithole news off the TVs for a little bit, however before long we were back to the obvious.

It seems like a point that I keep driving home on my threads. Hey, let us look at what this GOP has come to:

That comment above notwithstanding…who are the ones with most of the college loan debt?

Meanwhile, in Kentucky:

I think we are at the point where, it really doesn’t matter. The people will be screwed anyway:

This is a serious issue, and from the comments on that twitter thread, it looks like it could be something that will explode in our faces!

Hospitals face critical shortage of IV bags due to Puerto Rico hurricane | US news | The Guardian

Hurricane Maria crippled a key maker of fluid bags, and as ‘wellness’ clinics pay a 600% markup, hospitals unable to afford them scramble to make do without

And who, just who can pay for those markups?

Guess?

Here are just a few links to make a point, from Toledo to Shreveport and Anchorage to Fisherville, Virginia:

IV saline shortage: Triangle hospitals scramble to keep patients medicated | News & Observer

Nationwide IV bag shortage affecting local hospitals

Alaska hospitals are dealing with the nationwide IV bag scarcity linked to Puerto Rico hurricane injury | Kaplan Herald

IV shortage affects some Louisiana hospitals during flu season

Northeast Ohio Hospitals Are Keeping an Eye on Dwindling Supply of IV Fluid and Equipment | WKSU

Augusta Health finds solutions to IV bag shortage

Nationwide IV bag shortage caused by Hurricane Maria

A crisis is at hand. Only I do not think this Administration, or much of this nation for that matter, will really give a shit when people start to die.

Video shows patient left at cold bus stop at night, wearing only a hospital gown – CNN

I know we have mentioned this woman already on the blog…but I wanted to post it again for emphasis. You know, to bring home the point. Who the fuck could do this?  Where is the humanity?

I guess there is none when you have to put food on the table? Or was there something darker involved? That word is used on purpose mind you.

But, then how do you explain this shit:

That protest was over this:

This is what “humanity” has come to…here:

 

While these white supremacists and hate groups gather momentum…and tRump makes racist statements about black and brown continents and countries…here in our own country…predominantly areas populated by people of color are still subjected to environmental racism and outright negligence. It just makes me physically ill. Which brings me to my final point to all this…noise over the Shithole racist remarks, I wanted to save this little tidbit for last:

 

Trump denies Haiti slur amid fallout from ‘shithole’ comment – NBC News

Sen. Durbin on Pres. Trump’s use of the term “chain migration”:

“I said to the president, ‘Do you realize how painful that term is to so many people? African-Americans believe that they migrated to America in chains. When you speak about [it], it hurts them personally. And he said, ‘Oh, that’s a good line.'”

I am glad Durbin mentioned this…glad that he made this point…even if it went totally over the head of the racist in chief. So much of what is devastating about the direction this nation is going is the lack of humanity in a racist view of the world. tRump has made this the “ideal” to strive for…don’t tell me differently. The GOP is his accomplice.  (I truly believe that Russia (whatever way possible) got him in that White House to begin with…but that is another post all together. ) Sure Shithole is a bigger slap in the face…but the nuance of the phrase chain migration, has just as much importance. They both are significant of the same disease that is being brought forward into our everyday lives.

Racism…Corruption and Racism. It is bringing down our democracy.  Soon the only humanity left will be those who are marginalized and left with feelings of disgust and despair. You can’t expect humanity from a #shitholepresident.


Lazy Saturday Reads: This Is Our Reality Now

What might have been.

Good Morning!!

The news is ugly today. The “president” calls other countries “shitholes” as he works to turn the United States into a “shithole” full of ignorant white people who live in fear of anyone who doesn’t look and think exactly as they do. On top of the “president’s” classless vulgarity and racism, it looks like next we’re going to be subjected to examinations of the “president’s” degrading sexual history.

This nightmare reality we are living in might have been prevented if only the media weren’t populated by numerous misogynist men who prey on naive young women and at the same time enjoy mocking strong, competent women like Hillary Clinton when they dare to pursue their ambitious dreams.

In the wake of the *shitstorm* over the “president’s” vile and ignorant comments in a meeting about immigration, it looks as if one of the worst media misogynist could finally get his comeuppance.

The Cut: Exclusive: Watch Chris Matthews Joke About His ‘Bill Cosby Pill’ Before Interviewing Hillary Clinton.

On January 5, 2016, MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews interviewed Hillary Clinton in an Iowa fire station during the Democratic primary season. Network footage obtained by the Cut shows Matthews, during the interview setup, making a couple of “jokes” about Clinton. He asks, “Can I have some of the queen’s waters? Precious waters?” And then, as he waits for the water, he adds, “Where’s that Bill Cosby pill I brought with me?” Matthews then laughs, delighted with the line, for an extended moment, as the staffers around him react with disbelief, clearly uncomfortable. (Cosby has been accused of sexual impropriety by dozens of women, some of whom allege that they were drugged and raped by the comedian, some of them got addicted to drugs so they went to a rehab center from firststepbh.com.) They consulted xarelto lawsuit after the incident.

“This was a terrible comment I made in poor taste during the height of the Bill Cosby headlines,” Matthews said to the Cut. “I realize that’s no excuse. I deeply regret it and I’m sorry.”

Really? Fuck you Tweety. It’s time for you to retire.

Back to The Cut:

Matthews has a long history of talking disparagingly about Hillary Clinton, whom he once called “witchy,”and often seems to channel what a hypothetical sexist Republican might say about a woman candidate: “she-devil,” “Madame Defarge.” In 2005, he wondered whether the troops would “take the orders” from a (female) President Clinton. “Is she hemmed in by the fact that she’s a woman and can’t admit a mistake,” he asked in 2006, “or else the Republicans will say, ‘Oh, that’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind,’ or ‘another fickle woman’? Is her gender a problem in her ability to change her mind?” He once pinched her cheekfollowing an interview, and, though he later apologized, on another occasion suggested that she only got as far as she did on the political stage because her husband had “messed around.”

We’re all familiar with Tweety’s garbage talk. To paraphrase Trump: “Take him out!”

Also worth reading, tweets by Matthew Gertz of Media Matters. A couple of examples:

That’s part of a long thread about Matthews ugly sexist remarks about Clinton you can read on Twitter.

And now let’s check out some of the latest stories about the “president” Chris Matthews and his kind helped put in the White House.

Trump’s racism

The New York Times Editorial Board on the “president’s” “shithole” shitstorm: Donald Trump Flushes Away America’s Reputation.

Where to begin? How about with a simple observation: The president of the United States is a racist. And another: The United States has a long and ugly history of excluding immigrants based on race or national origin. Mr. Trump seems determined to undo efforts taken by presidents of both parties in recent decades to overcome that history.

Mr. Trump denied making the remarks on Friday, but Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who attended the meeting, said the president did in fact say these “hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly.”

Of course he did. Remember, Mr. Trump is not just racist, ignorant, incompetent and undignified. He’s also a liar.

Even the president’s most sycophantic defenders didn’t bother denying the reports. Instead they justified them. Places like Haiti really are terrible, they reminded us. Never mind that many native-born Americans are descended from immigrants who fled countries (including Norway in the second half of the 19th century) that were considered hellholes at the time.

Read the rest at the NYT link. How appropriate that the headline contains the word “flushes.”

Adam Serwer at The Atlantic: Trump Puts the Purpose of His Presidency Into Words.

Francis Amasa Walker had fought to preserve the Union in the Grand Army of the Republic, but by 1896 he saw its doom in the huddled masses coming from Eastern Europe. The “immigrants from southern Italy, Hungary, Austria, and Russia,” Walker lamented in The Atlantic, were “beaten men from beaten races; representing the worst failures in the struggle for existence,” people who had “none of the ideas and aptitudes which fit men to take up readily and easily the problem of self-care and self-government, such as belong to those who are descended from the tribes that met under the oak-trees of old Germany to make laws and choose chieftains.”

More than a century later President Donald Trump would put it differently, as he considered immigration from Africa, wondering, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” instead suggesting that America take in more immigrants from places like Norway.

These remarks reflect scorn not only for those who wish to come here, but those who already have. It is a president of the United States expressing his contempt for the tens of millions of descendants of Africans, most of whose forefathers had no choice in crossing the Atlantic, American citizens whom any president is bound to serve. And it is a public admission of sorts that he is incapable of being a president for all Americans, the logic of his argument elevating not just white immigrants over brown ones, but white citizens over the people of color they share this country with.

Please go read the whole thing.

Philip Kennicott at The Washington Post: What did the men with Donald Trump do when he spoke of ‘shithole countries’?

Over the past year, as our political culture has grown more coarse and corrupt, I’ve felt different things: sometimes, anger; often, bitter resignation; and occasionally, a bemused sense of pure absurdity. But the past two nights I have actually wept. Why now? Why in response to these particular prompts? A confused and ailing woman in a thin medical gown was tossed to the roadside in freezing weather by security guards from the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus in Baltimore. Who orders such a thing, and why would anyone carry out that order? Then, the president of the United States calls Haiti, El Salvador and African nations “shithole” countries. Who says that kind of thing? Who thinks it? Who listens to it without reflexive outrage?

Back to the Post article:

According to a few of the president’s defenders, this is what we all really think. “This is how the forgotten men and women of America talk at the bar,” said a Fox News host, imputing to ordinary Americans sentiments they wouldn’t suffer to be said at their own dinner tables. There was the usual talk about “tough” language instead of talking about this course which helps improve language, as if using racist language was merely candor or an admirable impatience with euphemism.

His defenders seemed to say that if the president says things that we would be ashamed even to think, he is somehow speaking a kind of truth. But while there may be countries that are poor and suffer from civil discord, there are no “shithole” countries, not one, anywhere on Earth. The very idea of “shithole” countries is designed to short-circuit our capacity for empathy on a global scale.

These two incidents, in Baltimore and in the Oval Office, seem related — inhumane indifference from a hospital and blatant bigotry from the president — which is even more troubling. They are about who is on what side of the door, or the wall, or any other barrier that defines the primal “us and them” that governs so much of the worst of our human-made world. When Trump called disfavored countries “shitholes,” he was indulging the most lethal and persistent tribalism of all: pure, unabashed racism. After a candidacy and now a presidency marked by implications of racism, the president has grown more comfortable with speaking in overtly racist terms, condemning whole countries and their people for not being more like “Norway,” one of the whitest countries on Earth….

Remarks like these from the president are still shocking but hardly surprising, given the frequency with which they occur. What I want to know is how the men in the room with him reacted. This is the dinner table test: When you are sitting and socializing with a bigot, what do you do when he reveals his bigotry? I’ve seen it happen, once, when I was a young man, and I learned an invaluable lesson. An older guest at a formal dinner said something blatantly anti-Semitic. I was shocked and laughed nervously. Another friend stared at his plate silently. Another excused himself and fled to the bathroom. And then there was the professor, an accomplished and erudite man, who paused for a moment, then slammed his fist on the table and said, “I will never listen to that kind of language, so either you will leave, or I will leave.” The offender looked around the table, found no allies and left the gathering. I don’t know if he felt any shame upon expulsion.

Again, please go read the rest.

On the Trump scandal front:

Raw Story: Haitian government claims ousted dictator ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier laundered stolen money through Trump Tower.

Trump and Baby Doc

More than a fifth of Trump’s condominiums in the U.S. have been purchased since the 1980s in secretive cash transactions that fit a Treasury Department definition of suspicious transactions, reported Buzzfeed News.

Records show more than 1,300 Trump condos were purchased through shell companies, which allow buyers to shield their finances and identities, and without a mortgage, which protects buyers from lender inquiries.

Those two characteristics raise alarms about possible money laundering, according to statements issued in recent months by the Department of Treasury, which has investigated transactions just like those all over the country….

According to the Buzzfeed News report, the Haitian government complained in the 1980s that former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier laundered money stolen from the Caribbean nation’s treasury by purchasing an apartment in Trump Tower.

Duvalier, nicknamed “Baby Doc,” was overthrown in 1986, but three years earlier used a Panamanian shell company called Lasa Trade and Finance to buy apartment 54-K in Trump’s Manhattan tower for $446,875 cash.

Trump, the future U.S. president, signed the deed of sale.

I tried to read the Buzzfeed story yesterday, but it got to be too much to deal with. Now I plan to go read it carefully.

CNN: James O’Keefe says Trump asked him to go on birther-linked mission.

James O’Keefe

Donald Trump in 2013 asked James O’Keefe, the controversial conservative filmmaker, if he could “get inside” Columbia University and obtain President Obama’s sealed college records, according to a passage in O’Keefe’s forthcoming book, a copy of which was reviewed by CNN.

O’Keefe, a guerrilla filmmaker whom critics have decried for his tactics and who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for entering federal property in 2010 under false pretenses, writes in “American Pravda: My Fight for Truth in the Era of Fake News” that during a meeting in New York City Trump complimented his ACORN sting videos (“That pimp and hooker thing you did, wow!”). But, O’Keefe writes, Trump “was a man with a plan” and “did not agree to this meeting to sing my praises.” [….]

According to O’Keefe, Trump “suspected Obama had presented himself as a foreign student on application materials to ease his way into New York’s Columbia University, maybe even Harvard too, and perhaps picked up a few scholarships along the way.”

O’Keefe wrote that during the 2013 meeting Trump suggested O’Keefe infiltrate Columbia and obtain the sealed records: “‘Nobody else can get this information,'” O’Keefe quoted Trump as saying. “‘Do you think you could get inside Columbia?'”

Read more at CNN.

The Washington Post: After drubbing by media, Trump’s ambassador to the Netherlands apologizes for anti-Muslim remarks.

Pete Hoekstra and Trump

The embattled U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Hoekstra apologized Friday for making unsubstantiated anti-Muslim claims at a conference in 2015, after his first week in the post was clouded by questions about the incendiary statements.

Hoekstra, a former Republican congressman from Michigan and recent political appointee, made the apology during an interview Friday with De Telegraaf, one of the largest Dutch newspapers, at the end of a particularly rough introduction for the new ambassador.

“Looking back, I am shocked I said that,” he told the newspaper. “It was a wrong statement. It was wrong.”

Hoekstra made the remarks in question during a conference on terrorism hosted by the right-wing David Horowitz Freedom Center. He talked about the supposed “chaos” brought to Europe by immigrants from Islamic countries and repeated a baseless theory about so-called “no-go zones” that is popular in right-wing media.

“Chaos in the Netherlands. There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned,” Hoekstra said at the time. “With the influx of the Islamic community — and yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands. All right? There are no-go zones in France.”

Considering the quality of people Trump is appointing to diplomatic posts, I’m sure we can expect more embarrassing episodes like this.

So . . . I could go on and on. I deliberately left out the story of Trump and the two porn stars. It’s still difficult for me to believe this horrible man is POTUS. He has to go before he completely wrecks this country and destroys any hope of our regaining respect around the world.

What stories are you following?


Mother Jones Writer Mac McClelland Says Violent Sex Cured her PTSD

Mac McClelland

This will just be a quick post without a lot of psychological analysis, because I haven’t had time to read all the articles about this carefully. I have to admit I’m somewhat flummoxed at the moment. From ABC News:

Mac McClelland, a civil rights reporter who has seen the impact of sexual violence around the globe, couldn’t shake the image of Sybille, a woman who said she had been raped at gunpoint and mutilated in the aftermath of Haiti’s catastrophic 2010 earthquake.

While on assignment for Mother Jones last September, McClelland said she accompanied Sybille to the hospital when the woman saw her attackers and went into “a full paroxysm — wailing, flailing” in terror.

Something snapped in McClelland, too. She became progressively enveloped in the classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress — avoidance of feelings, flashbacks and recurrent thoughts that triggered crying spells. There were smells that made her gag.

McClelland, 31, sought professional help but said she ultimately cured herself by staging her own rape, which she writes about in a haunting piece for the online magazine Good. The title: “How Violent Sex Helped Ease My PTSD.”

Here’s the article: I’m Gonna Need You to Fight Me On This: How Violent Sex Helped Ease My PTSD

She writes that a guy in her hotel in Haiti kept trying to get her to have sex with him, and finally he said “We can do this at gunpoint if that sells it for you.” And McClelland says it did appeal to her.

On that reporting trip, I’d been fantasizing about precisely what the local guy proposed, my back against a wall or a mattress with a friendly gun to my throat. But the plan was vetoed about as soon as it was hatched, when I asked him if his firearm had a safety and he said no. Like I say: I am not completely nuts.

I don’t want to judge, because clearly McClelland witnessed horrendous violence. Her reaction sounds more like survivor’s guilt than PTSD, but I have no way of knowing. Maybe it was both. McClelland’s description of her stress reaction to all the violence she had experienced and witnessed is harrowing, and I can understand why she broke down. She felt completely numb and unable to feel her emotions. From her description, it sounds like she was dissociating and experiencing depersonalization and derealization. Finally she told her therapist the only thing she wanted was to experience violent sex.

“All I want is to have incredibly violent sex,” I told Meredith. Since I’d left Port-au-Prince, I could not process the thought of sex without violence. And it was easier to picture violence I controlled than the abominable nonconsensual things that had happened to Sybille.

Meredith was wholly unmoved by this.

“One tried but true impact of trauma is people just really shutting themselves down,” she says when I interview her about it later for this piece. “Also, stuff comes up for people like the way it came up for you: Folks can have a counterphobic approach, moving toward fear instead of away from it. And sometimes people have fantasies like that after trauma, putting themselves in dangerous situations, almost to try to confirm with themselves that they were not impacted. ‘Look, I did it again. It’s fine. I’m fine.'”

Finally she asked a former lover to rape and beat her. Of course this was a role-playing situation and she was in control to some extent. I’m not going to post the description here, because it’s extremely graphic. I’ll leave it to you to decide if you want to read the article. But McClelland claimed she made a major breakthrough. Her PTSD was cured and she was able to return to work.

According to Conor Friedersdorf, writing in The Atlantic, a group of women who have worked in Haiti were so offended by McClelland’s descriptions of life in Haiti, that they wrote her a letter in protest, essentially accusing her of racism.

Marjorie Valbun reacted to McClelland’s piece with a critical article in Slate titled What’s happening in Haiti is not about you, in which she calls McClelland’s confessional article “Offensive.” “Shockingly-narcissistic.” “Intellectually dishonest.”

At Feministe, Jill counters with “But sometimes it is about you.”

McClelland didn’t have a “need to feel victimized.” She spent years reporting from war-torn and devastated countries, and she become psychologically overwhelmed. It’s not narcissistic or intellectually dishonest to discuss the very real impacts that can result from seeing suffering day in and day out.

[….]

Criticism that McClelland focused too much on herself at the expense of actually covering the situation in Haiti would be more warranted if the piece about PTSD was one of McClelland’s only journalistic contributions. But she has covered human rights issues tirelessly. She wrote a book about Burma. She has written dozens of articles about Haiti, including articles about sexual assault. She is not the central character in the vast majority of the pieces she’s written. The GOOD piece has gotten more attention that most of the other articles McClelland has penned, and that’s a worthy criticism, but it’s not McClelland’s responsibility or fault. To suggest that she used her time in Haiti just to write a narcissistic sex piece is wildly inaccurate. To further suggest that there’s something selfish about leaving after recognizing that you’re traumatized? That’s cruel and irresponsible. The argument that “Haiti is not about you!” is one that I’d usually be sympathetic to; but here, the article wasn’t about Haiti, it was about Mac and her experiences and her mental state and the strange position she found herself in. Haiti was a backdrop for that, but I don’t see how she was under any obligation to fully represent the complexities of the situation there in a personal piece about her own mental health.

What do you think?


Wednesday Reads: A Dictator, A Priest and Joe Lieberman walk into a funeral home…

Morning everyone! I hope that you have a big cup of coffee, and a nice donut, cause lets dig into Wednesday’s reads:

You have probably seen this news already, R. Sargent Shriver, Kennedy In-Law and Peace Corps Founding Director, Dies at 95 – NYTimes.com

R. Sargent Shriver, the Kennedy in-law who became the founding director of the Peace Corps, the architect of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, the United States ambassador to France and the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1972, died on Tuesday. He was 95.

Comic relief...picture of fat bulldog with cap.

My brother was very involved in Special Olympics, so to my family, the work that Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy did for Special Olympians was very important to us. It seems that as these last few connections to such a dynamic era are passing away, so is our appreciation of times that were full of conflicts. Think about what was achieved during those years, when Democratic Presidents acted like Democrats.

The baby boomers grew up listening to their parents, talking about living during the Depression and experiencing a World at War. Those who fought for Civil Rights and Women’s Rights, dealt with Vietnam and a revolution of sex, drugs and rock and roll, they know how important the fight was. My generation had the benefit of Grandparents and Parents that appreciated the struggle of surviving on onions and mustard, who understood what was gained in terms of human rights, and enjoyed what Presidents like FDR and LBJ did for “the People.” I can’t help but wonder about what my kids generation will appreciate when they get older. Wii games , iPods and Facebook? Ugh…

Well, Joe Lieberman is retiring, and I must say that I wish he had done it sooner. I always have been fond of Lieberman. I even voted for him when I lived in CT. If you want to read about Lieberman’s decision to call it quits, check out Ezra Klein – Joe Lieberman: Democratic hero? If you don’t care about why he called it quits, and how the Dem’s feel about it, then check out who is thinking of running for that seat. 2 in House could seek Lieberman’s seat – Jake Sherman – POLITICO.com

Joseph Lieberman’s looming retirement from the Senate has focused Connecticutians’ on the House of Representatives, where both Democratic Reps. Joseph Courtney and Chris Murphy say they’re considering a run for his seat. While both are vowing publicly that they’re undecided, a source close to the third-term Murphy said he is leaning strongly toward running for Lieberman’s seat in 2012, when President Barack Obama will be on the ticket in a state he easily carried in 2008.

At least the “Baby Doc” is in custody, and facing charges for the terrible things he did to the Haitian people. No mercy for a tyrant who showed none – The Globe and Mail

The quick decision to charge Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier for corruption and embezzlement, crimes allegedly committed during his 1971-1986 regime, is a welcome sign of life from a government that has been astonishingly listless since the earthquake.

Haiti’s leadership already faces many challenges: reconstruction, a cholera outbreak, a debilitating political impasse, and an outbreak of sexual violence against women living in the camps. About the last thing it needs is the unexpected arrival of an ex-dictator on its rubble-strewn doorstep.

More than 250 rapes in camps were reported in the 150 days following the earthquake. (Photo Amnesty International)

I am using this article to bring to the discussion here at Sky Dancing something that Boston Boomer mentioned to me last week. In a report by Amnesty International, the sexual abuse of women and girls in Haitian tent cities and camps is yet another crisis that has hit these poor people in a still devastated  country. Post-quake chaos fuels rape in Haiti – survey – AlertNet

Haitian women are more at risk of sexual violence because of the breakdown of law and order and the spread of flimsy camps after last January’s earthquake, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

Local women’s groups have documented hundreds of rapes of women and girls since the disaster, but many believe reported cases represent only a fraction of the real number, Amnesty said in a report on survey findings.

Read the rest of this entry »


Late Night Drift

Something to think on …

from The Economist:

Opportunists who seek to gain political advantage by blaming the shootings on words would do America better service if they focused on bullets. In no other decent country could any civilian, let alone a deranged one, legally get his hands on a Glock semi-automatic. Even in America, the extended 31-shot magazine that Mr Loughner used was banned until 2004. As the Brady Centre, established after the Reagan shooting to commemorate one of its victims, has noted, more Americans were killed by guns in the 18 years between 1979 and 1997 than died in all of America’s foreign wars since its independence. Around 30,000 people a year are killed by one of the almost 300m guns in America—almost one for every citizen. Those deaths are not just murders and suicides: some are accidents, often involving children.

The tragedy is that gun control is moving in the wrong direction. The Clinton-era ban on assault weapons expired in 2004 and, to his discredit, Mr Obama has done nothing to try to revive it. In 2008 the Supreme Court struck down Washington, DC’s ban on handguns, and in 2010 Chicago’s went the same way; others are bound to follow. In state after state the direction of legislation is to remove restrictions on gun use (those footling bans on bringing weapons into classrooms or churches or bars), rather than to enhance them.

It is fanciful to imagine that guns will ever disappear from America; they are too deeply embedded in its founding myths and its culture. But that does not mean that more effective checks on the mentally unstable are impossible, or that restrictions on the killing power of what can be sold are doomed to failure. Neither of these will happen, though, unless the blame is directed to where it belongs.

(Via Phoenix Woman tweet ) from Haitian Blogger Ezili Dantò in a post called: Obama’s change in Haiti: the Return of Dictator, Jean Claude Duvalier:

Air France flew Jean Claude Duvalier back into Haiti today. A coup for France who saw its influence diminishing as the US took over with the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission and the UN occupation. (Ousted president Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier returns to Haiti unexpectedly ; Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier, ex-Haiti dictator, makes surprise return to country Sunday ).

Why would the world’s most powerful nation, the United States, allow this?

Well, their pillage of poor Haiti is butt-naked right now. At the one-year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, even the conservative media is talking about the failure of US aid, the UN and the NGO poverty pimping business in Haiti. Thus, the UN, as US proxy, needs to justify its job in Haiti. These folks think of us-Haitians as simplistic animals, so why not set up what’s worked for them in other parts of the world? The bringing back of Jean Claude Duvalier, Haiti’s bloody dictator, is, in their plantation minds, sort of like setting up a Hutu/Tusti thing (Duvalier/Lavalas), a civil war in Haiti, an insecurity to bring “order” to.

Bill Clinton, the poverty-pimp-NGOs, the repugnant UN and the foreign-imposed-IHRC need to distract the world from the donation dollars that’s being pocketed or not collected, so hey, let’s rack up the colonial narrative – remind everyone of those “anti-democratic Haitians not ready for the same standards” as the rest of the “civilized” world. Those infighting, violent, illogical Haitians in love with dictatorship! Why not set up the chess board, right before Feb. 7th – the 25th anniversary of the ouster of Jean Claude Duvalier, bring him back to push the two OAS/Duvalierist candidates – Manigat and Martelly (Sweet Mickey), so everyone can forget about the masses wishes, their total disenfranchisement, the 300,000 dead in 33 seconds and those 1.5million still homeless without sanitation, shelter, clean water; the return of President Aristide; the international fraud since 2004; these imposed UN/US elections. and the UN-imported cholera…We’re just puppets the International community , led by the U.S., are moving around their own battlefield. Haiti is not in control. Haitians are not in control. Air France and American Airlines can land anyone in Haiti.

If Air-France wanted to bring in Osama bin Laden into Haiti, how could Haitians stop it? Still, we-Haitians will be blamed, as usual, for all the outrageous acts the wealthy powers-that-be do in Haiti. The “Friends of Haiti” continue with their macabre plan to further destabilize and exacerbate Haiti’s already agonizing sufferings.

and a tweet from Mac McClelland from Mojo:

MacMcClelland Mac McClelland
Baby Doc is back in Haiti! Our pics, chats w/ people cheering for a rapey murdery ex-dictator

You know, I’m kinda thinking the one thing that we still do export onto the global market in a significant way is our thing for violence.

Discuss amongst yourselves …


Wednesday Reads AM

Morning Sky Dancers! Minx here with this mornings interesting reads.

I wanted to post a link to this article written by Larry McMurtry. The man who brought us Hud (Horseman, Pass By), Lonesome Dove and many other novels, stories, and scripts. He has written this post called American Tragedy for the New York Review of Books.

Murderous rampages of the sort that occurred Saturday outside a grocery store here in Tucson may retain some power to shock–twenty people shot down right up the road from where I write–but for me, at least, they have lost all power to surprise. Arizona is after all a state where it’s possible to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, and many do.

[…]

Ours is a culture in which shooting sprees have become almost commonplace. Hearing that the site and surrounding area was entirely sealed off I elected to try to learn about it by watching television. The people who were trapped at site stood around in small clumps, subdued; no doubt they were feeling lucky not to be on stretchers or in ambulances. Probably they were oppressed by the randomness of it all: a deranged kid walks up and blasts twenty people. Hello. The novelist Theodore Dreiser would have known how to handle such a scene.

Learning about a nearby massacre from television requires much channel surfing. Many talking heads brooded about the part our violence-tinged language might be playing in the behavior of our youth. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, elected eight times, spoke with considerable dignity, mentioning that in his view, there had been excessive language used in Arizona, both on radio and television. It may be free speech, he said, but it has consequences. Sheriff Dupnik went on to say that he feared Arizona had become “… a Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.” For this, he was roundly criticized, although I don’t see that he was off the mark. Ask the Indians.

McMurtry comes to the same conclusion that many of us have come to in recent days here on Sky Dancing.

Meanwhile, the dead are dead, the wounded are wounded, and except for twenty families, some of them now broken, the violent stream of American life goes on absolutely unchanged. Arizona and indeed America continue to be packed with guns. I own several myself (none of them semi-automatic) and I have no intention of disposing of them, although I don’t feel I should conceal them and walk down urban streets.

And I don’t believe that language drawn from the hunt is likely to vanish from our political speech. Words such as “target” or “bulls eye” are deeply ingrained. We will be polite for a while but once the slugfest resumes–and politics is a slugfest–the old invective will slip back in.

Guns are part of the culture of America, they will not be going away any time soon. Living out in the county these days, and growing up in a very urban part of West Tampa, FL, I have been around guns all my life. I do not think they should be completely wiped out, but I do feel the background checks, and wait periods are all good things. As for the political rhetoric, I think it will all be back in our faces real soon. Hey, the 2012 elections are just around the corner, do you think anyone is going to tone down their language?

On Tuesday the EPA issued this statement about Chromium 6, Hexavalent Chromium:

EPA Issues Guidance for Enhanced Monitoring of Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water

Release date: 01/11/2011

Contact Information: CONTACT: Jalil Isa (News Media Only), isa.jalil@epa.gov, 202-564-3226, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – Several weeks ago, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson committed to address hexavalent chromium (also known as chromium-6) in drinking water by issuing guidance to all water systems on how to assess the prevalence of the contaminant. Today, the agency is delivering on that promise and has issued guidance recommending how public water systems might enhance monitoring and sampling programs specifically for hexavalent chromium. The recommendations are in response to emerging scientific evidence that chromium-6 could pose health concerns if consumed over long periods of time.

“Protecting public health is EPA’s top priority. As we continue to learn more about the potential risks of exposure to chromium-6, we will work closely with states and local officials to ensure the safety of America’s drinking water supply,” said Administrator Jackson. “This action is another step forward in understanding the problem and working towards a solution that is based on the best available science and the law.”

[…]

EPA’s latest data show that no public water systems are in violation of the standard. However, the science behind chromium-6 is evolving. The agency regularly re-evaluates drinking water standards and, based on new science on chromium-6, has already begun a rigorous and comprehensive review of its health effects. In September 2010, the agency released a draft of the scientific review for public comment. When the human health assessment is finalized in 2011, EPA will carefully review the conclusions and consider all relevant information to determine if a new standard needs to be set. While EPA conducts this important evaluation, the agency believes more information is needed on the presence of chromium-6 in drinking water. For that reason, EPA is providing guidance to all public water systems and encouraging them to consider how they may enhance their monitoring for chromium-6.

More information on the new guidance to drinking water systems: http://water.epa.gov/drink/info/chromium/guidance.cfm

Well, as I have said in my post on the Chrome 6 issue, I think the EPA will come down on the side of protecting not the public, but the one organization that has contributed the most toxic waste throughout the world…the US Department of Defense.

Wow, over in Australia they are having a hell of a time with flooding: Brisbane braces for more flooding as 90 people reported missing

Brisbane awoke Wednesday to sunny, clear skies amid renewed warnings that a wave of water was sweeping through the city’s main river system, threatening to exceed the damage done by the record 1974 floods.

[…]

Ten people have died this week in Queensland and more than 90 were missing, Neil Roberts, Queensland Emergency Services Minister, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation TV.

Seven Australian Defense Force helicopters were dispatched Wednesday to join the eight military choppers already in the state as rescuers searched for survivors and the bodies of people swept away by the floodwater, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Wednesday.

I had no idea so many people were missing in these floods. There is more about this here: Australia floods: 14 killed, dozens missing in Queensland floods – latimes.com This is terrible and is being described as an “inland tsunami.”

And for some more human suffering: Haiti earthquake anniversary highlights faltering aid effort – CSMonitor.com

For more than six weeks last fall, a brand new obstetrics hospital remained empty and closed, its Ikea furniture still wrapped in plastic, a reminder of how far Port-au-Prince had to go to recover from the Haiti earthquake.

Meanwhile across the street, a camp with 1,500 families had no access to medical care beyond occasional visits by the Haitian Red Cross. The hospital, commissioned by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), has since partially opened.

But questions remain about why the project in the neighborhood of Delmas 33 was delayed by the government, a symbol of the bureaucracy that has stood in the way of many of the projects run by the more than 900 NGOs that descended on Haiti after last January’s earthquake, which killed 230,000 people and left 2 million homeless.

[…]

Oxfam, in a report released last week, blamed the lack of progress “on a crippling combination of Haitian government indecision and rich donor countries’ too frequent pursuit of their own aid priorities. In Haiti, power and decision making are concentrated in the hands of very few,” the report said, calling on the government to reduce corruption, especially in view of the ongoing – and contested – presidential election.

Echoing the sentiment of many Haitian citizens, Oxfam was fiercely critical of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (known by its French acronym, CIRH) co-led by Bill Clinton, established in the aftermath of the earthquake to coordinate reconstruction. “The Commission has failed to live up to its mandate,” Oxfam said in a press release.

The L.A. Times has this: Haiti quake anniversary: Haiti still reeling from earthquake – latimes.com

Today, life of a sort has returned to Haiti. The bodies are mostly gone (though on occasion one is unearthed), and the chaos is part of the routine of survival, of scraping out a living. Traffic snarls up and down hillsides. Most children who go to school are back in classrooms, though jittery and traumatized; commerce is haphazardly brisk.

Yet virtually no major reconstruction is evident. Landmarks such as the grand Roman Catholic cathedral and the majestic presidential palace remain misshapen carcasses. Only 5% of the rubble has been cleared, according to one estimate.

The majority of the population remain jobless. And the nearly 1,200 tent encampments scattered across the city, where more than 1 million displaced people sought shelter, have taken on a deliberate permanence, much as aid workers a year ago said they feared would happen.

[…]

A year later, the slow pace of overall recovery and reconstruction is being widely criticized by outside experts and watchdog groups as Haiti’s tragedies merely multiply: A cholera epidemic has infected more than 170,000 people and claimed nearly 4,000 lives, and a political crisis has left the country unable to choose its next president.

“I feel uneasy and sort of uncomfortable about what is still a disaster situation for most of the population,” said Stefano Zannini, head of mission in Haiti for Doctors Without Borders, one of the largest and longest-serving aid groups in the country. “During the last year, I’ve heard a lot of … talking about promises, plans, strategies, money. These three, four words, you know, over and over. Promises.”

In a scathing report last week, the international charity Oxfam cited a “quagmire of indecision and delay” that has paralyzed efforts to provide housing to the more than 1 million homeless and may have contributed to the cholera epidemic.

[…]

Oxfam and other critics blame a historically weak and dysfunctional state beset by coups, military dictatorships and a self-protecting elite; a lack of leadership from a government that also suffered heavily in the earthquake (all major government headquarters were destroyed or damaged, 30% of civil servants were killed, and President Rene Preval essentially went AWOL in the first desperate days after the disaster); and poor coordination among the myriad humanitarian agencies. Some organizations and foreign governments have also been reluctant to release money into the corrupt morass of the Haitian state and business elite.

The highly heralded reconstruction committee chaired by former President Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive has also come under criticism. Formed in April to head disaster management, the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission has met only four times, Zannini said.

“Look, nobody’s been more frustrated than I am that we haven’t done more,” Clinton said Tuesday in Port-au-Prince. “But I’m encouraged if you look at how much faster it’s been going in the last four months.”

It is sad to read the aid is slow going in Haiti, and the committee chaired by Bill Clinton is being criticized for its delays. It is disheartening to see the suffering Haitians must deal with, suffering that seems to be never-ending. Here is a post from the State Departments Blog: Haiti: One Year Later | U.S. Department of State Blog And this from the Guardian: Haiti: rocked to its foundations | Art and design | The Guardian

And on another island nation in the Caribbean : Marco Rubio: Obama administration putting out feelers on changes to U.S.-Cuba policy | Naked Politics

Rubio said the Obama administration was already putting out “trial balloons” to feel out new members of Congress on their feelings toward loosening U.S. economic and travel restrictions on Cuba.

But the feelers won’t go anywhere, Rubio said, because he and other like-minded senators and House members will educate their colleagues on the political reality in Cuba, including telling them about political prisoners like American Alan Gross, who has been imprisoned for more than a year.

A lot of elected officials don’t know about the political reality in Cuba, Rubio said, not because they’re Communists but because they come from states where the issue isn’t discussed — or where agricultural interests persuade them to let them sell their goods on the island.

Politico has the interview here: Rubio: Obama quietly seeking Cuba changes POLITICO.com

Cuba was always a big topic in my hometown. So many of the first wave of Cubans that fled that country do not want to see American/Cuban relations to soften. I don’t know if it is a spiteful kind of reaction, because the loss of their property and livelihood. There is some interesting commentary on this from the Institute of Latino Studies at Notre Dame.

My own family on my father’s side came to Florida from Cuba in 1904. They owned a cigar factory in Marti City, near Ocala, FL and another factory in Port Tampa. If you ever have the time, please look into the History of the Cigar Factories in Tampa, FL…very interesting stuff!

So what is on your reading list today? I know there is a lot going on, let’s jump in and discuss it.