Already starting the second week of 2015 and things just aren’t looking like it is going to be a good year. (I am talking about the crap in Congress and so forth. Which it appears payback is a bitch: Payback? Two GOP Boehner foes kicked off House committee | Washington Watch | McClatchy DC)
So today the links are going to focus on main news items and a few history links.
The images you see are vintage magazine covers from the month of January…some may spark a memory or two…
Let’s start with the news that will be blasted all over the MSM this morning:
“The tail has been found,” Bambang Soelistyo, chief of the rescue agency, known as BASARNAS, told reporters at a news conference, adding that tail numbers were visible on wreckage. Finding the tail is significant because it may contain the plane’s voice and data recorders, or black boxes. Soelistyo said no black boxes have yet been found.
Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia, said on Twitter Wednesday that “if right part of tail section then the black box should be there.”
“We need to find all parts soon so we can find all out (sic) guests to ease the pain of our families,” Fernandes said. “That still is our priority.”
They even have pictures of the tail from underwater:
From what the pictures show, it looks like the plane is upside-down.
According to the news in Australia, via the Sydney Morning Herald:
The discovery came within what’s now known as the “second additional area” — a search zone to the west of the original focus area, because strong underwater currents have been sweeping wreckage westwards.
Mr Soelistyo said divers would now be deployed to try to recover the bodies that his agency, Basarnas, is sure are trapped in the wreckage.
A number of bodies were found overnight, bringing the total of those recovered to 40 out of a flight with 162 passengers and crew.
As bodies floating free in the ocean are decaying fast, authorities hope most of the rest of the victims will be capable of being recovered from the four or more large pieces of wreckage believed to be on the ocean floor.
Basarnas and the Indonesian National Transport Safety Committee were now trying to find the black box using the pinger locator.
It also looks like there is some strange suspensions and such taking place. Air Asia is a airline that advertises flights for the average person…with a slogan of “now everyone can fly”…meaning they are not your high dollar air travel carrier. You can read more about their launch into Indonesia/Malaysia with budget flights here Air Asia X to launch UK-Malaysia flights – Telegraph, it is a link to an article from 2008.
The breakthrough came as the government’s crackdown on what it sees as unauthorised flights continues, carrying grave risk for AirAsia’s reputation in Indonesia.
More airport and flight approval officials were suspended for allowing the doomed flight to leave Surabaya on a day (Sunday) that it was not authorised to fly the Singapore route.
The feared Corruption Eradication Commission, KPK, has been deployed to see if there was any corruption involved in that process.
But the government appears to have pulled back on its heavy-handed treatment of domestic AirAsia flight routes.
On Tuesday, airport officials announced that they had banned AirAsia from flying five of its key Indonesian domestic services out of Surabaya airport, including three from Surabaya to the capital, Jakarta, one to Bali and one to regional centre Bandung.
But the general manager of the airport authority, Trikor Hardjo, said that, after the flights were cancelled, some more negotiations led to the suspension being revoked.
“The airline has already been asked for changes, and the permit was just issued for all of those flights,” Mr Trikor said.
The crackdown, followed by the backdown, seems to the be result of over-zealous regulation in an environment that is increasingly unfriendly and difficult for commercial operators in the wake of the crash.
A spokesman for the Transport Ministry, JA Barata, tried to clear up the confusion: “Those whose flying schedule is not in accordance with their permit must be suspended, but if the changes are only about flying time or hour, they should not be suspended,” he told Fairfax Media.
“The respective airlines can simply apply for new flying time to the respective division at Transportation Ministry. This is a regular practice and it is very simply done.”
More on the banned flights here: AirAsia banned from key routes amid government crackdown
AirAsia has been banned from flying five of its key Indonesian domestic services out of Surabaya airport as part of a government crackdown on previously unenforced regulations in the wake of the crash of flight QZ8501.
The bans on the flights – three from Surabaya to the capital, Jakarta, one to Bali and one to regional centre Bandung – will deal another blow to the Malaysia-based low-cost carrier, which had already been suspended from the Surabaya-Singapore route entirely.It’s part of a broader government crackdown on lax administration of flight permits from Surabaya Airport. The fast-growing Indonesian-owned low cost carrier Lion Air has been stopped from flying nine of its weekly services, and smaller aircraft Trigana and KalStar have also been affected.
The general manager of Indonesia’s airport authority, Trikor Hardjo, said he had made the decision because the airlines had changed aspects of their scheduling and so lacked permits to fly some services. He told news portal Detik.com he had, “tightened the rules of the game”.
But the sudden move will cast Indonesia’s teeming aviation industry into disarray, and is likely to mean long delays for passengers as they are transferred to other flights.
The Indonesian government’s regulation of its burgeoning airline industry has been judged one of the worst in the world. The International Civil Aviation Organisation ranks its ability to administer aviation as worse than that in Albania, Kyrgyzstan, Cameroon and Burkina Faso.
There was another shooting last night, this time at a VA hospital in Texas: Gunman kills doctor, then himself, at VA hospital in El Paso, Texas – CNN.com
One person died Tuesday when a gunman opened fire at the El Paso VA Health Care System in Texas, Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty told reporters.
“The alleged shooter is dead, and we have one casualty. That casualty is deceased. All other VA patients and staff are safe. This is an active crime scene, and the shooting incident is under investigation,” he said.
The Department of Veterans Affairs released a statement saying it was saddened by what happened.
“We will continue to cooperate fully with military and civilian authorities at Beaumont Army Medical Center. The safety and continued care of our Veterans and the staff will be our focus throughout this situation,” the statement read.
A Pentagon official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that a doctor was shot by a gunman, who later died from a self-inflicted wound.
The motive for the shooting was not immediately clear. The VA facility will be closed Wednesday.
Of course this violence is in addition to the bomb at the NAACP office in Colorado, Suspect sought after blast near Colorado Springs NAACP office | Al Jazeera America
Authorities are looking for a man who may have information about an explosion set off near the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP.
The Tuesday blast outside a barbershop next door to the group’s building caused no injuries, police said. There was only minor damage to the site which is which is about an hour south of Denver.
FBI spokeswoman Amy Sanders says an explosive was detonated against the building, but it’s too soon to know whether it was aimed at the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
She says investigators are looking for a balding white man in his 40s who may be driving a dirty pickup truck.
In other depressing news: Food stamp benefit cut may force a million people into ‘serious hardship’ | Al Jazeera America
I won’t quote that one, you can go and read the thing for yourself…
Now for a few history links, these are from the History News Network website:
Now that the Republican Party―the conservative voice in mainstream U.S. electoral politics―has attained the most thoroughgoing control of Congress that it has enjoyed since 1928, it’s an appropriate time to take a good look at modern conservatism.
Conservatives have performed some useful services for Americans over the course of U.S. history. Alexander Hamilton placed the nation’s financial credit on a much firmer basis during the late eighteenth century. Determined to make knowledge available to all Americans, Andrew Carnegie funded the development of the free U.S. public library system in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During the early twentieth century, Elihu Root and other conservatives played key roles in the establishment of international law. Also, in the mid-twentieth century, Robert Taft staunchly denounced the peacetime military draft, arguing that it smacked of a totalitarian state.
But, increasingly, modern American conservatism resembles a giant wrecking ball, powered by hate-spewing demagogues to undermine or destroy long-cherished institutions, from the U.S. Post Office (established by Benjamin Franklin in 1775 and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution) to minimum wage laws (which began to appear on the state level in the early twentieth century). Sadly, the rhetoric of modern conservatism―focused on small government, free enterprise, and individual liberty―seems ever more divorced from its behavior. Indeed, conservatism’s rhetoric and its behavior are often quite contradictory.
Is this allegation fair? There certainly seem to be plenty of discrepancies between words and deeds, and conservatives should be asked to explain them. For example:
Go to link and read the 10 questions…
Peter Stearns is a Professor of History and Provost Emeritus at George Mason University. He served as Provost from 2000-2014. This article was the basis for a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in New York in January.
I offer here some brief comments on shame, its history, and opportunities in the history of emotion. I’ve been concerned, despite the impressive flurry of work on emotion by historians at major centers that have sprung up in several countries, that we’ve not maintained adequate connections with the other fields that dominate research on emotion, notably psychology and sociology.
We know one key thing about shame and history, thanks particularly to work by John Demos some decades ago. Widely displayed in colonial America, complete with public stocks, it declined in popularity by the mid-nineteenth century. Recent Googlebooks data confirm this, by the way. But after this core discovery, historians have been silent on the emotion.
Not so social scientists, who have been pouring out impressive amounts of work on current patterns of shame, and particularly the emotion’s harmful effects. Whether we’re talking about prisoners, children, or fat people, shame targeting simply makes things worse, causing resentment and sometimes counterproductive reactions.
You know what to do, right?
This month, with little fanfare, Palomares begins its 50th year as “the most radioactive town in Europe.” If you’ve heard of Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island but are unfamiliar with Palomares, you might wonder why. All appear in Time’s top-ten list of the world’s “worst nuclear disasters.” Palomares moreover has been called the worst nuclear weapons accident in history. So why do so few people outside Spain know about it?
So what exactly happened? On 17 January 1966, a US Air Force B-52 collided with its refueling plane, killing seven airmen and dropping four hydrogen bombs. Conventional explosives in two detonated on impact with the earth, blowing them to bits and scattering radioactive plutonium—a mutagen and carcinogen—over the farming town of Palomares, population 2000.
English-language journalists, though late on the scene, rushed their books into print, replicating oversights of the rushed cleanup operation and circulating the myth of a single lost bomb. Pioneering female foreign correspondent Flora Lewis screamed One of Our H-Bombs is Missing, borrowing a title from 50s Red Scare pulp fiction. Likewise demonstrating their national allegiances, British reporter Christopher Morris lamented The Day They Lost the H-Bomb and American science writer Barbara Moran, four decades later, decried The Day We Lost the H-Bomb.
Only New York Times correspondent Tad Szulc pluralized the threat with The Bombs of Palomares. He further measured the relative importance of events. “Although the long spectacular search” for the harmless fourth bomb—at the bottom of the Med for eighty days—“was to overshadow the village’s radioactivity problem in [U.S.] public opinion, the contamination was in reality the most significant” calamity.
So what was of greatest significance in early 1966? In addition to the seven airmen, plus eight more killed in a Palomares supply plane crash, people in Palomares suffered—and still suffer—potentially fatal radioactive exposures. At the time, no was evacuated; no one was officially informed for six weeks. Even then, U.S. Ambassador Angier Duke told the international press corps an unconscionable lie: “This area has gone through no public health hazard of any kind, and no trace whatsoever of radioactivity has ever been found.” Why then were nearly 5000 barrels of hot soil and crops shipped away for burial in South Carolina? Why today is plutonium found throughout the food chain in Palomares? Why is radioactivity evident downwind, in neighboring Villaricos?
See, you need to go and read the rest of those article to find the answers to the questions.
I thought this was another interesting history link for you this morning: Nazi super cows: British farmer forced to destroy half his murderous herd of bio-engineered Heck cows after they try to kill staff – Environment – The Independent
Hey, remember that time capsule that was found in Boston a couple of weeks ago? Time capsule that was in Massachusetts State House is opened – Metro – The Boston Globe
Using a porcupine’s quill, several small pieces of paper, a strip of polyester film, and a small metal pick that resembled a dental tool, Museum of Fine Arts conservator Pam Hatchfield carefully plucked history from a box Tuesday night.
The box was a time capsule, many of its items first placed beneath the cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House 220 years ago to mark the start of the building’s construction. The history came in many forms.
There were five neatly folded newspapers, a collection of 23 coins dating as far back as 1652, a medal depicting George Washington, a replica of Colonial records, and a silver plate commemorating the erection of the new State House.
One of the coins in the box, a Pine Tree Shilling, was printed in 1652 for the use of Massachusetts’ colonists, without the knowledge of the British monarchy. Writing about the shilling, historian Mark Peterson tells the story of the colonists’ monetary defiance, which initially went unpunished during the king-less time of Oliver Cromwell. With the Restoration in 1660, Peterson writes, Charles II “demanded a reckoning of the colony’s conduct.” In a “dexterous act of verbal tribute,” the colony’s representative convinced the king that the pine was, instead, a royal oak, “the emblem of the oak which preserved his majesty’s life.” For the moment, Peterson adds, “the bluff succeeded.” Revere and Adams may have chosen to include the shilling as a token of the colony’s early independence.
From history to science:
Some children are more sensitive to their environments, for better and for worse. Now researchers have identified a gene variant that may serve as a marker for these children, who are among society’s most vulnerable. The study found that children from high-risk backgrounds who carried a common gene variant were very likely to develop serious problems as adults, but were also more responsive to treatment.
One of eight new planets spied in distant solar systems has usurped the title of “most Earth-like alien world”, astronomers have said.
All eight were picked out by Nasa’s Kepler space telescope, taking its tally of such “exoplanets” past 1,000.
But only three sit safely within the “habitable zone” of their host star – and one in particular is rocky, like Earth, as well as only slightly warmer.
The find was revealed at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, now in its fifth year of seeking out the shadows of planets circling other stars, has spotted hundreds, and more and more of these other worlds look a lot like Earth — rocky balls only slightly larger than our own home, that with the right doses of starlight and water could turn out to be veritable gardens of microbial Eden.
As the ranks of these planets grow, astronomers are planning the next step in the quest to end cosmic loneliness: gauging which hold the greatest promise for life and what tools will be needed to learn about them.
HAVANA — The signs of the times speak loudly in Cuba, sometimes through their silence.
A 17-hour drive across the heart of the island in a battered burgundy and gray 1956 Ford Fairlane included long stretches in which there was surprisingly little ideology on display, few of the billboards that once trumpeted revolutionary slogans.
“Florida advances through its own effort,” said a sign in the town of that name.
“Quality is respect for the people,” said another.
Another said simply, “Work hard!” — a notion stripped of the ideological imperative that used to complete the thought with phrases like “to defeat imperialism” or “to build socialism.”
Dispatched to Cuba in December after the surprise announcement by President Obama that he would renew full diplomatic relations, I set off on a road trip from Havana, near the west end of the island, to Guantánamo, at the east end.
The mileage chart on my map said the distance was 565 miles. It felt a lot longer sitting on the cream-colored, quilted vinyl seat of the Ford, which had lost a lot of its spring in the years since Fidel Castro swept into power.
The vintage Ford was not part of the original plan.
I think you will enjoy that long read. Pictures too at the link…
Hope everyone stays warm, we are very cold today in Banjoville. The low tonight is 7… So, what are you all reading about today?
Good Morning!! I’m going to be leaving for a two-day drive to Indiana either today or tomorrow, so I’m a bit meshugge this morning. Please be patient with me. Let’s see what’s in the news.
From what I can see, it’s mostly Rick Perry. And I must say, I find “Governor Goodhair” endlessly fascinating. He’s more of a gaffe-machine than Joe Biden–and that’s really saying something. Molly Ivins gave Perry that nickname. I miss her so much. So I was thrilled when I cam across this article in the Sacramento Bee:
Molly can’t say that about Rick Perry, can she? It’s a collection of quotes on Perry from Ivins. Here’s one:
June 24, 2001
First, we Texans would like to salute the only governor we’ve got, Rick “Goodhair” Perry, the Ken Doll, for vetoing the bill to outlaw executing the mentally retarded.
We are Texas Proud.
Such a brilliant decision – not only is Texas now globally recognized for barbaric cruelty, but a strong majority of Texans themselves (73 percent) would prefer not to off the retarded.
Gov. Goodhair’s decision – in the face of popular opinion, the Supreme Court and George W. Bush’s recent conversion on this subject – is a testament to his strength of character.
His Perryness announced, anent the veto, that Texas does not execute the retarded. I beg your pardon, Governor. Johnny Paul Penry, now on Death Row for a heart-breaking murder and the subject of two Supreme Court decisions, has an IQ between 51 and 60, believes in Santa Claus and likes coloring books.
We will never have another political writer like Molly.
Yesterday Perry “challenged” Obama on border security.
Perry, who was on his second trip to New Hampshire as a presidential candidate, criticized President Obama for his assertion during a speech in El Paso, Tex. in May that his administration had “strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible.”
“Six weeks ago the President went to El Paso and said the border is safer than it’s ever been,” Perry said. “I have no idea, maybe he was talking about the Canadian border.”
Perry thinks we should use Predator Drones to deal with illegal immigration.
“I mean, we know that there are Predator drones being flown for practice every day because we’re seeing them, we’re preparing these young people to fly missions in these war zones that we have. But some of those, they have all the equipment, they’re obviously unarmed, they’ve got the downward-looking radar, they’ve got the ability to do night work and through clouds. Why not be flying those missions and using (that) real-time information to help our law-enforcement? Becuase if we will commit to that, I will suggest to you that we will be able to drive the drug cartels away from our border.”
Apparently the Governor of Texas did not know that the Department of Homeland Security has already been using Drones to patrol the Mexican border for years.
I’m not that up on Texas politics, but I’m beginning to get the idea that the Bush crowd doesn’t care much for Rick Perry. According to Elspeth Reeve at The Atlantic, Bush’s Crew Is Gunning for Rick Perry
Is Rick Perry “another George W. Bush”? In reality, Bush was more of a fake Perry, the Texas version of a studio gangster, clearing brush in his cowboy boots despite his prep school background. It helps explain why Bush’s allies and Perry’s allies don’t like each other very much: the Bush-loving Republican establishment sees Perry as “the low-rent country cousin,” the Los Angeles Times reports. And it explains why Karl Rove (who once worked for Perry, before helping Bush become president) went on Fox News to criticize Perry for calling the Federal Reserve treasonous — and to wish for more candidates to enter the 2012 race.
You’ll need to go to the link to read all about the Bush-Perry feud. In addition, Howard Dean told The Hill that the “Bush camp will take Perry out.”
Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean predicted that prominent political supporters of former President George W. Bush will deal a critical blow to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) presidential campaign.
“The Bush people don’t fool around, as you know,” Dean said Tuesday night on MSNBC. “You can say a lot of things about Bush’s presidency and his failures as president, but one thing nobody should say [anything] bad about [is] his political team. They know what they’re doing, and they are ruthless, and they are going to take Perry out.”
Here’s Bill Clinton’s opinion on Rick Perry’s presidential ambitions:
Do you have a Citi credit card? Better watch out
TANGERANG, Indonesia — Irzen Octa, a down-on-his-luck Indonesian businessman, suffered a torment familiar to millions of Americans struggling with debts racked up in better times: He feared losing his home.
In the end, he managed to keep the ramshackle two-story house where he and his wife raised their two now-teenage daughters. Instead, Octa, pursued by Citibank over a $5,700 debt on his platinum credit card, lost his life.
The 50-year-old businessman, invited to a Citibank office in Jakarta in late March, collapsed in a tiny room set aside by the U.S. bank for questioning of deadbeat debtors. He died shortly afterward — a casualty of a “harsh interrogation,” said Jakarta police spokesman Baharudin Djafar.
Noting that Indonesian debt collectors have a reputation for sometimes aggressive persistence, Johansyah, the central bank official, said: “The best thing to do is just pay.”
Octa’s widow said she first discovered that her husband had money problems when five men showed up uninvited at their Tangerang home one night in October and said they had come to get money. Unable to collect, they slept on a terrace outside the front door.
In the following months, debt collectors kept calling — and Octa’s debts kept rising because of hefty interest.
Sounds like a Mafia movie! Will that start happening here after the Republicans remove all regulations?
Matt Taibbi has a new article at Rolling Stone: Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?
Imagine a world in which a man who is repeatedly investigated for a string of serious crimes, but never prosecuted, has his slate wiped clean every time the cops fail to make a case. No more Lifetime channel specials where the murderer is unveiled after police stumble upon past intrigues in some old file – “Hey, chief, didja know this guy had two wives die falling down the stairs?” No more burglary sprees cracked when some sharp cop sees the same name pop up in one too many witness statements. This is a different world, one far friendlier to lawbreakers, where even the suspicion of wrongdoing gets wiped from the record.
That, it now appears, is exactly how the Securities and Exchange Commission has been treating the Wall Street criminals who cratered the global economy a few years back. For the past two decades, according to a whistle-blower at the SEC who recently came forward to Congress, the agency has been systematically destroying records of its preliminary investigations once they are closed. By whitewashing the files of some of the nation’s worst financial criminals, the SEC has kept an entire generation of federal investigators in the dark about past inquiries into insider trading, fraud and market manipulation against companies like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and AIG. With a few strokes of the keyboard, the evidence gathered during thousands of investigations – “18,000 … including Madoff,” as one high-ranking SEC official put it during a panicked meeting about the destruction – has apparently disappeared forever into the wormhole of history.
Under a deal the SEC worked out with the National Archives and Records Administration, all of the agency’s records – “including case files relating to preliminary investigations” – are supposed to be maintained for at least 25 years. But the SEC, using history-altering practices that for once actually deserve the overused and usually hysterical term “Orwellian,” devised an elaborate and possibly illegal system under which staffers were directed to dispose of the documents from any preliminary inquiry that did not receive approval from senior staff to become a full-blown, formal investigation. Amazingly, the wholesale destruction of the cases – known as MUIs, or “Matters Under Inquiry” – was not something done on the sly, in secret. The enforcement division of the SEC even spelled out the procedure in writing, on the commission’s internal website. “After you have closed a MUI that has not become an investigation,” the site advised staffers, “you should dispose of any documents obtained in connection with the MUI.”
I haven’t finished the article yet, but it sounds like an important story.
I’m going to end with a couple of feel-good stories.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The timing was just right for saving the life of a 6-year-old girl and for turning a 24-year-old mechanic and father of two young daughters into a hero.
It was coincidence that Antonio Diaz Chacon had come home from work early to spend time with his family Monday afternoon. It was also a coincidence that the family’s washing machine had just gone out, forcing them to do laundry a block down the road at a relative’s home.
Had it not been for that, Diaz Chacon wouldn’t have been there to see the girl thrown into a van as another neighbor yelled for the would-be kidnapper to let the child go.
Diaz Chacon is credited with saving the girl after chasing the van through a maze of neighborhoods to the edge of where Albuquerque’s sprawling housing developments meet the desert. It was there where the van crashed into a pole, the suspect fled and Diaz Chacon was able to rescue the girl and take her home.
Go read the whole thing. It’s good to know there are still brave and generous people out there who act selflessly just because someone needs help. And here’s another story about a heroic rescue–by an 8-year-old boy.
Just 8 years old and a novice swimmer, Jesus [Lara] reacted quickly last weekend to save a drowning infant from the bottom of a pool. On Thursday morning, the Plano Fire Department recognized his life-saving actions and explained how grateful they were for his quick reaction.
Jesus has only been swimming for two months. His father Henry began teaching him to swim in the pool at the Estancia Apartments where they live. Henry said after a long day of work Friday, Aug. 5, he kept his promise to take his son to the pool that night.
While Jesus was swimming, he noticed some bubbles coming from an object under the water.
The bubbles were coming from a 21-month-old toddler who had stumbled into the water.
“I grabbed a quick breath, and I dove under,” he said.
Jesus resurfaced holding a 21-month-old boy and arms outstretched, he yelled for his father to help.
“It was what he said that spoke volumes to me,” Henry said, remembering the boy’s words, “I found him at the bottom of the pool.”
Jesus’ father knew CPR and was able to resuscitate the child, who is now “doing fine.”
Those are my recommended reads for today. What are you reading and blogging about?
Photo: A wounded antigovernment protester joined fellow demonstraters for Friday prayer at Tahrir square in Cairo. Tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered for sweeping “Day of Departure” demonstrations to try to force President Hosni Mubarak to quit. (Mohammed Abed/AFP-Getty)
Good morning, news junkies!
So the story this week is still Egypt, and I thought I’d start off with a first-person account that Bloomberg ran yesterday from reporter Maram Mazen:
A policeman looked me in the eye and said: “You will be lynched today,” running his finger across his neck.
But, that wasn’t Mazen’s most frightening moment on Thursday in Cairo. Click over to find out what it was.
Next up, a youtube of the protesters in Tahrir square breaking into song yesterday, led by a guitarist off-camera, amidst cries for Mubarak’s immediate exit during Friday’s ‘Day of Departure’ demonstrations. It’s almost at a 100,000 views already. Please go give it another. It’s just plain enjoyable music too. Rough translation of what they’re singing, from the comments:
Let’s make Mubarak hear our voices. We all, one hand, requested one thing, leave leave leave … Down Down Hosni Mubarak, Down Down Hosni Mubarak … The people want to dismantle the regime …. He is to go, we are not going … He is to go, we won’t leave … We all, one hand, ask one thing, leave leave.
Photo: Iranian women participated in Friday prayer outside Tehran University (Behrouz Mehri/AFP-Getty)
Here’s the latest word from Secretary Clinton on Egypt, speaking at a Munich security conference this Saturday — Hillary characterizes the unrest that the Mideast is facing as a “perfect storm of powerful trends” and says:
This is what has driven demonstrators into the streets of Tunis, Cairo, and cities throughout the region. The status quo is simply not sustainable.
Al Jazeera English also reports that she said there must be clear progress toward “open, transparent, fair and accountable systems” across the region not to risk even greater instability.
While we’re on the Middle East, did you hear? Rand Paul wants to end “welfare to Israel.” Hey, don’t shoot, I’m just relaying the news here. And, before anyone on the other side of that issue goes goo goo over Paul following in his father’s isolationist footsteps, remember the libertarian catch that it comes with–Paul is also calling for dramatic education cuts.
There’s an interesting blog piece on Egypt, Obama, and Indonesia at the New Statesman that I’m still thinking on, but I thought I’d put it out there for Saturday reading. I have to say, I have yet to see any indication that Obama has much of a plan when it comes to Egypt. The deer-in-the-headlights look coming from this White House has been hard to miss.
This next item didn’t seem to generate much buzz, but I thought I’d put it in here and get your reactions… a Mississippi federal judge threw out a challenge to HCR on Thursday.
Here’s a story I’d been meaning to cover last week but didn’t get to, and there’s an update on it this weekend too. You may or may not know but Indian human rights activist Dr. Binayak Sen is facing life imprisonment. Here is the report Democracy Now’s Anjali Kamat filed from Chhattisgarh in advance of the global day of protest calling for Binayak’s release last Sunday. And, here is the update on Binayak’s wife, Ilina Sen, who has been under a witchhunt by the Maharasthra Police. An FIR against her has been reportedly thrown out:
Illina was named as an accused for her alleged failure to inform the police of the participation of foreign delegates at a conference of the Indian Association for Woman Studies ( IAWS) in Wardha.
Illina, who had termed the FIR an vindictive act of the state, told Mail Today on Thursday that she was unaware of the development. ” But if it is happening, it is a welcome step,” she said.
” The home ministry has intervened in the matterâ€¦ Illina’s name will be dropped from the FIR,” a government source said.
Looks like a bit of good news we can hang our hats on as the rest of the world spins out of control. Speaking of women’s studies…
This Saturday in Women’s and Children’s Health headlines
BYU School of Family Life researchers Sarah Coyne and Laura Padilla-Walker find that teen girls who play video games with their parents are less depressed (Truthdig), as part of the Flourishing Families project that began in 2007. Here’s the pdf to the actual study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health this month for anyone who is interested. According to Coyne, et al. (2011), for girls there is a link between playing age-appropriate games with parents and lowered internalizing (anxiety/depression) and aggression. There is no correlation for boys, and further studies are still needed to determine causality and long term effects for girls. Two years ago, the larger study that this research is a part of found a link between frequent gaming and relationship difficulties. This summer the project led to research that found having a sister may counter depression. Let’s hear it for sisterhood! Which brings me to…
Cinematherapy…in Feminist Perspective
A great op-ed last week on Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s documentary Missrepresentation, by Ashley Chappo in The Cavalier Daily — “Showgirls.” Here’s a teaser of Chappo’s piece:
As the American activist Marian Wright Edelman once said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Our national misconceptions about the value of women have contributed to the fact that the United States currently ranks 90th world-wide when it comes to women’s representation in politics. This year, Newsom’s documentary is a must-see because it challenges all Americans to reconsider their values and confront institutions that perpetuated inferior images of female capability.
Another film featured last month at the Sundance festival that you might want to take a look at is Lynn Hershmann’s !Women Art Revolution. Also, if you have a chance, check out: “Global Girls Go Sundance.”
This last one is really a review of a review of a book, but I’m sticking it here because it goes with feminist reads. Historiann: “Rebecca Traister on Stephanie Coontz’s A Strange Stirring.”
This day in history (February 5)
1871: Mary Sewall Garnder, pioneer of public health nursing, was born.
(If you click on Mary’s name, the link will take you to more women’s history trivia for February 5th.)
With all the upheaval going on in the world these days, I thought I’d share the Gayatri mantra before I go… I grew up on it, and though I’m agnostic and don’t believe in a “creator god,” this one stuck for me, perhaps because Gayatri is a girl goddess and the prayer is about asking her to dispel the darkness of ignorance. I like this translation:
Om Bhur Bhuva Swaha
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat
Mother who subsists as all three Kalas, in all three Lokas, and all three Gunas, I pray to you to illuminate my intellect and dispel my ignorance, just as the splendorous sunlight dispels all darkness. I pray to you to make my intellect serene and bright.
And, to make this roundup even more cross-cultural…
La fin and merci beaucoup if you made it to the end. Let’s hear what you’re reading this Saturday in the comments.
I wanted to highlight some good stuff today because it seems like the headlines have been pretty depressing recently. As you know, I love to read about women’s organizations around the world and learn about other cultures. I’ve mentioned that my research has a lot to do with developing nations and why some develop rapidly and others languish. Indonesia is one of the countries I follow closely.
It used to be thought that every economic development problem could be solved by just putting more technology in place in a country or adding more physical capital or infrastructure. That is important at some level, but given the same amount of technology and infrastructure, some nations will develop a healthy economy and society while others will still have serious issues.
The major factor that’s highlighted in development policies today is a country’s institutions; specifically their soundness and openness. The most important are institutions that support the judicial and political system. These institutions must protect private property, not allow the rich and powerful to abuse the poor, and they must be fair and translucent. (Problems we have now here.) Given that, other solid related institutions will spring up. These would include educational institutions. If these are in place, financial and economic institutions that bring a country into the modern world will germinate and deepen. Indonesia is a good place to demonstrate that it’s many things in a country’s culture than can cause it to oppress its women, its minorities, and its poor and a good government can make a difference in many people’s lives. It’s also on our radar today because of the pending Presidential visit.
One of the bright spots in the ASEAN region is Indonesia. It is a beacon for many reasons but high among them is that it’s a model of Democratic Islam. This is from Project Syndicate.
The visit by “Barry Obama,” the Indonesian nickname for the former resident and current United States president, to Jakarta is intended, as much as anything, to celebrate the achievements of the largest Muslim-majority country in the world. In the 12 years since its transition to democracy, Indonesia has regularly held local and national elections, developed a functioning free market, and strengthened its culture of tolerance towards the country’s Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and Chinese minorities.
Of the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, only Indonesia has a “free” rating from Freedom House. The largely Catholic Philippines, Buddhist Thailand, and Confucian Singapore lag behind Indonesia in providing basic democratic rights to their people. American policymakers have therefore looked to Indonesia as a model for the rest of the Muslim world. But what lessons are to be learned from Indonesian democracy?
The most important lesson is that Islamic organizations can provide the backbone of a tolerant civil society. Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), mass Islamic institutions with more than 30 million and 40 million members, respectively, operate more than 10,000 schools and hundreds of hospitals, as well as run youth organizations and support women’s movements. Both have connections to political parties, most of which have consistently spoken out for democracy and against an Islamic state.
Women in Indonesia are the majority workers for the garment industry and work very long hours for very low pay. There is also a problem with human trafficking. The government has been responsive to calls to stop the exploitation of women and children. Here’s one unique program via the BBC. It seems women-only train cars were introduced on government run public transportation to stop women from being sexually harassed and grabbed during their commutes to work. This reminds me of the pink taxis initiatives that I’ve blogged on before. However, the pink taxis are a private effort and not public.
Women-only train carriages have been launched in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, in an attempt to prevent sexual harassment on public transport.
The state-run train operator is running two new carriages for its female passengers on one busy commuter route.
The service has been introduced after a series of complaints of sexual harassment from women who travel on Jakarta’s trains and buses.
There are ongoing programs to stop the sexual exploitation of women, but the garment worker’s are still experiencing problems with enforcement of labor laws. Developing countries are frequently trapped between the need for cash from new industry and the need to protect their people. Another bright spot about Indonesia is that there is no significant gender gap in early or secondary education. Girls and boys attend school in the same proportions.
As with other parts of the world–including our own–some policy makers in the rural areas still view girls in a poor light. Last month, one lawmaker tried propose a law to subject girls to a “Virginity Test’. Indonesia’s Women’s Affairs Ministry rejected the proposal outright as a violation of human rights. Other members of the legislature were also outraged and dismissed the proposal. It looks like there are attempts to instill Jane Crow Laws every where.
Women’s reproductive rights still suffer in Indonesia. It is some what like the situation here because if you are poor, there is no place to go. As you’ll read, a lot of this is OUR fault. This is from Amnesty International.
Many Indonesian women and girls, especially those from poor and marginalised communities, struggle to achieve reproductive health in the face of discriminatory laws, policies and practices, a new report by Amnesty International says.
Left Without a Choice describes how government restrictions and discriminatory traditions threaten the lives of many Indonesian woman and girls by putting reproductive health services beyond their reach.
“The Indonesian government has pledged to enhance gender equality, but many Indonesian women still struggle for fair and equal treatment”, said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General. “A combination of unchallenged social attitudes, unfair laws and stereotyped gender roles often relegate women to second-class status.”
Amnesty International research shows how discriminatory practices and problematic laws are restricting access to contraception for unmarried women and girls, and allowing early marriage for girls younger than 16. The law also requires a woman to get her husband’s consent to access certain contraception methods, or an abortion in the event that her life is at risk. Amnesty International also found that health workers frequently deny the full range of legally available contraceptive services to unmarried or childless married women.
Even though the government has taken steps for better protection for women victim of violence, it is failing to ensure that survivors of rape can access health information and services. Although abortion is legally available to women and girls who become pregnant as a result of rape, this fact is not well known, even amongst health workers, and victims of rape can face significant obstacles to accessing safe abortion services.
Indonesia also demonstrates how Islam can provide support for women’s rights. Among the activist community in Jakarta, the most successful organizations are those that draw support from the women’s wings of Muhammadiyah and NU: Muslimat, Fatayat, and Aisyiyah. The former head of Fatayat, Maria Ulfah Anshor, has made sophisticated arguments grounded in fiqh for women’s access to reproductive rights. And, thanks to a partnership between the state and Islamic scholars stretching back 40 years, Indonesia has one of the most successful family-planning programs in the developing world.
Ironically, the US has done as much to block the efforts of Indonesia’s women’s-rights activists as it has to support them. Former President George W. Bush’s restrictions on funding for health programs that used condoms or other forms of contraception meant that Islamic organizations receiving any funding from the US Agency for International Development were unable to publish material promoting safe-sex and family planning.
This could be, and often was, highly counter-productive. In one particularly absurd case, a group of Muslim feminists who wrote a book promoting women’s rights based on Koranic exegesis had to publish their work in secret, because it included arguments for women’s reproductive rights and a small percentage of the group’s funding came from a foundation that had received money from USAID.
The fact that Islamic organizations have benefited women may also help explain Indonesian women’s political success. The parliament is 18% female (a slightly higher percentage than in the US Congress), and a woman, Megawati Sukarnoputri, was the country’s fourth president. Leading organizations like Umar, Fatayat, and Muslimat provide a corrective to the widespread view that Sharia necessarily impedes women.
Indeed, Indonesian women have shown how Sharia can provide a tool for combating misogynist policies. For example, the head of Islamic affairs in the Ministry of Religion, Nasaruddin Umar, is a self-described Islamic feminist who has published sophisticated critiques of gender bias in Koranic exegesis
Just a short time ago, ABC announced that the Presidential trip may be canceled because of eruptions by Mount Merapi that has been causing ash clouds and dangerous flying conditions near Jakarta. This would be a shame if this happens because bringing attention to developing nations is important and a U.S. Presidential visit can accomplish that. Usually, TV programs and newspapers will provide interest pieces about the country and its needs as well as the NGOs that service its people. There has been a history of military juntas in the country and there are still rebel forces that would like to put a damper on the country’s nascent democracy. Other nations’ need to help stop any potential violent attacks on Indonesia’s democratic government. There is also need for further international support as the country responds to the Mount Merapi Disaster.
Focus on Indonesia is important also because of its successes and its needs. Other countries in ASEAN–like Vietnam–have similar issues and can benefit from increased focus on the area. When the US does positive things for the region, the region responds positively. SOS Hillary Clinton visited Indonesia in 2009. Details about her trip are documented here.
I hope you’ll take the time to read about Indonesia and watch any public interest stories that come up on the country. It’s one of the developing nations that gives development economists a lot of hope. It’s also important to support our the rights of women and children through out the world.