The TV networks are giving Trump free time tonight to spout lies about a non-existent “crisis” at the Southern border. Fortunately, they are also giving equal time to Democrats to respond. But they should have just said no. After all, they refused to carry an Oval Office speech by Obama in 2014. Matthew Yglesias at Vox:
In 2014, Obama was ready to announce a series of executive actions on immigration in the wake of the collapse in negotiations over a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill. The plan had a lot of moving parts, but the centerpiece was to give work permits and formal protection from deportation to millions of unauthorized immigrants while focusing the nation’s immigration enforcement resources on immigrants who’d committed violent crimes.
This was, naturally, very controversial. And Obama, naturally, wanted to try to make it less controversial by convincing people that it was a good idea.
Conservative pundits were, at the time, pushing the notion that Obama was essentially seizing power like a Latin American dictator, so essentially anything that refocused the conversation on banal policy details would have played to his advantage. TV networks, however, didn’t give him what he wanted, in part because it was November sweeps time, but officially because he was playing partisan politics rather than addressing a true national emergency.
So why are they running Trump’s obviously political speech? Because they’re scared. This is what what one anonymous network executive told CNN’s Brian Stelter.
This “exec” didn’t even have the guts to let Stelter use his name!
Here’s what the U.S. Secretary of State thinks of what Trump plans to say tonight.
These people are pathetic. Meanwhile, in Turkey, more pathetic incompetence from National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, frustrated by evolving U.S. conditions for quitting Syria, refused to meet with visiting National Security Adviser John Bolton and ripped into U.S. proposals to give Kurds a key role in Syria after the withdrawal.
Turkey is angered that Bolton, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and top American military officials are slowing what President Donald Trump suggested only weeks ago would be a quick exit. The delay would restrict Turkey’s ability to launch an offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters it considers enemies but who allied with a U.S. coalition to oust the Islamic State terrorist group from Syria.
“Although we made a clear agreement with U.S. President Trump, different voices are emerging from different parts of the administration,” Erdogan said as Bolton prepared to leave Ankara, where he met with other Turkish officials. “Trump’s remarks continue to be the main point of reference for us.”
It looks like attempts to walk back Trump’s insane policy decisions are no longer working.
Will Trump try to declare a national emergency tonight? I have no idea, but if he does it’s going to cause more problems than any of us can predict. Here are some opinions about what could happen, beginning with the worst case scenarios
Elizabeth Goitein at The Atlantic: What the President Could Do If He Declares a State of Emergency. A brief excerpt:
It would be nice to think that America is protected from the worst excesses of Trump’s impulses by its democratic laws and institutions. After all, Trump can do only so much without bumping up against the limits set by the Constitution and Congress and enforced by the courts. Those who see Trump as a threat to democracy comfort themselves with the belief that these limits will hold him in check.
But will they? Unknown to most Americans, a parallel legal regime allows the president to sidestep many of the constraints that normally apply. The moment the president declares a “national emergency”—a decision that is entirely within his discretion—more than 100 special provisions become available to him. While many of these tee up reasonable responses to genuine emergencies, some appear dangerously suited to a leader bent on amassing or retaining power. For instance, the president can, with the flick of his pen, activate laws allowing him to shut down many kinds of electronic communications inside the United States or freeze Americans’ bank accounts. Other powers are available even without a declaration of emergency, including laws that allow the president to deploy troops inside the country to subdue domestic unrest.
This edifice of extraordinary powers has historically rested on the assumption that the president will act in the country’s best interest when using them. With a handful of noteworthy exceptions, this assumption has held up. But what if a president, backed into a corner and facing electoral defeat or impeachment, were to declare an emergency for the sake of holding on to power? In that scenario, our laws and institutions might not save us from a presidential power grab. They might be what takes us down.
Read the whole thing at The Atlantic.
At Bloomberg, Noah Feldman disagrees, because only Congress can authorize spending: No ‘Emergency’ Will Allow Trump to Build His Wall.
President Donald Trump has said that he can declare a national emergency and order his border wall to be built. He’s wrong. The U.S. Constitution doesn’t contain any national emergency provision that would allow the president to spend money for purposes not allocated by Congress. And it’s clearer than clear that Congress not only hasn’t authorized money for a wall along the border with Mexico but also doesn’t intend to do so.
The upshot is that any attempt by Trump to get around Congress by using invented emergency powers would violate the Constitution. It almost certainly would be blocked by the courts. And it would constitute a high crime and misdemeanor qualifying him for impeachment.
Of course, Trump may not care. He’s established a pattern of taking clearly unconstitutional action, waiting for the courts to block it, and winning (at least in his estimation) political points with his Republican base regardless. It would be perfectly within that pattern for Trump to announce that he can do whatever he wants in a national emergency. He is expected to lay the groundwork for such a declaration in a prime-time address Tuesday. But we should recognize any such action for what it is: a usurpation of clear constitutional commands for the purposes of political grandstanding.
A bit more detail:
The Constitution does contain an emergency powers clause. Article I, Section 9 allows for the suspension of habeas corpus in cases of rebellion or invasion.
Those emergency powers are unsurprisingly varied and broad. But none of them can displace the Constitution itself. And it is the Constitution that says the Congress appropriates money and the executive spends it.
If there were some statutory provision saying that in an emergency the president could do things Congress otherwise has told him he can’t do, that would pose an intriguing constitutional question: Which law would prevail in a conflict between one saying the president could do something and another saying he couldn’t?
But I know of no law that says the president can spend money on purposes that Congress doesn’t want him to spend it on.
From the fact that the suspension clause exists, you can deduce something very basic to the U.S. constitutional system: There are no other inherent constitutional emergency powers. Yes, the president is commander in chief, with the power to defend the United States — but he can only do that with an army authorized and paid for by Congress.
That means any emergency power the president might have must come directly from Congress. The National Emergencies Act of 1976 is Congress’s last word on what emergency powers it gives the president. That law was enacted after Senate staffers’ research revealed some 470 emergency provisions across the whole of the U.S. Code.
As Trump often says, “we’ll see what happens.”
Trump thinks he knows better than anyone about anything, and yet we can all see that he knows almost nothing about what his job entails. This video has been floating around lately.
How to explain Trump’s illusion of competency? Seemingly in answer to this question, The Washington Post has posted an article on the Dunning-Kruger effect: What’s behind the confidence of the incompetent? This suddenly popular psychological phenomenon.
You may have witnessed this scene at work, while socializing with friends or over a holiday dinner with extended family: Someone who has very little knowledge in a subject claims to know a lot. That person might even boast about being an expert.
This phenomenon has a name: the Dunning-Kruger effect. It’s not a disease, syndrome or mental illness; it is present in everybody to some extent, and it’s been around as long as human cognition, though only recently has it been studied and documented in social psychology.
In their 1999 paper, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, David Dunning and Justin Kruger put data to what has been known by philosophers since Socrates, who supposedly said something along the lines of “the only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing.” Charles Darwin followed that up in 1871 with “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Put simply, incompetent people think they know more than they really do, and they tend to be more boastful about it.
To test Darwin’s theory, the researchers quizzed people on several topics, such as grammar, logical reasoning and humor. After each test, they asked the participants how they thought they did. Specifically, participants were asked how many of the other quiz-takers they beat.
Dunning was shocked by the results, even though it confirmed his hypothesis. Time after time, no matter the subject, the people who did poorly on the tests ranked their competence much higher. On average, test takers who scored as low as the 10th percentile ranked themselves near the 70th percentile. Those least likely to know what they were talking about believed they knew as much as the experts.
That’s it for me today. I’m trying to decide whether to leave the TV off tonight or just mute it until the Democratic response begins. What are you going to do?
We’re close to two years away from the 2016 presidential primaries, but already the media is putting everything Hillary Clinton said or does under a microscope. I don’t know how I’m going to get through this. For some reason, I just can’t help being protective of Hillary even if I don’t agree with everything she says. The latest flap is over remarks she made about Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine at a private fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Long Beach, CA .
It began on Tuesday night when Buzzfeed’s Ruby Cramer reported what she learned from two people who attended the event: Hillary Clinton Compares Russia Moves To Nazi Aggression.
“Mrs. Clinton talked at length on the situation in the Ukraine,” said one attendee, Harry Saltzgaver, the executive editor of a group of newspapers in Long Beach.
Both Saltzgaver and a second fundraiser attendee, who requested to speak without attribution, described Clinton’s parallel between the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Adolf Hitler, who resettled tens of thousands of ethnic Germans in Eastern and Central Europe to Nazi Germany before the war.
“She compared issuing Russian passports to Ukrainians with ties to Russia with early actions by Nazi Germany before Hitler began invading neighboring countries,” Saltzgaver said. “She said, however, that while that makes people nervous, there is no indication that Putin is as irrational as the instigator of World War II.”
A reporter also provided Cramer with direct quotes:
According to the Long Beach Press Telegram, whose reporter attended the event, Clinton told attendees, “Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the 30s,” she said. “All the Germans that were … the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they’re not being treated right. I must go and protect my people and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.”
Oh no! Clinton breaks Godwin’s law! Suddenly there was a stampede to be the first to criticize her for invoking Hitler. I mean, how dare she? She’s only the former Secretary of State and a possible candidate for president in 2016.
Philip Rucker at the WaPo: Hillary Clinton’s Putin-Hitler comments draw rebukes as she wades into Ukraine conflict.
Hillary Rodham Clinton has sparked a political uproar this week by wading into the middle of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, likening the moves of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the actions of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler leading up to World War II.
The former secretary of state’s provocative comparison drew swift rebukes Wednesday from U.S.-Russia policy experts — including some who served under her husband, former president Bill Clinton — while attracting rare notes of support from hawkish Republicans in Congress.
The comments put Clinton, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, at odds with President Obama and her former administration colleagues, who have been measured in their statements on Ukraine in hopes of avoiding an escalation of Putin’s incursion into Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Rucker quoted one “expert” who claimed Hillary was trying to take a “hard line” on Putin now because she had been “the face of the Obama administration’s “effort to “reset” its policy with Russia.”
Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, a nonpartisan global risk consulting firm, said Clinton’s Hitler comment signaled she was trying to “stage manage” the Russia issue.
“Hillary’s too smart to actually believe that Putin’s actions are remotely close to anything that Hitler did,” Bremmer said. “The only reason she would say that is that she believes she was vulnerable in having been the architect of the failed ‘reset’ and wants to show that she’s harder-line than anybody else.”
But former Russian Ambassador Michael McFaul disagreed.
He said Clinton was “much more skeptical” of Putin than other administration colleagues, that she was the first U.S. official to condemn Putin’s disputed 2011 election, and that she made a point of meeting with civil-society critics during official visits to Russia.
Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczinski followed up on his colleague’s reporting with a clarification from Hillary in a report on her appearance at at UCLA yesterday.
“The claims by President Putin and other Russians that they had to go into Crimea and maybe further into Eastern Ukraine because they had protect the Russia minorities,” Clinton said Wednesday, “that is reminiscent of claims that were made back in the 1930s when Germany under the Nazis kept talking about how they had to protect German minorities in Poland, in Czechoslovakia, and elsewhere throughout Europe. So I just want everybody to have a little historic perspective. I’m not making a comparison certainly, but I am recommending that we perhaps can learn from this tactic that has been used before.”
Clinton also assessed Putin’s personality, based on her personal experience:
“As for President Putin, I know we are dealing with a tough guy with a thin skin,” Clinton said. “I’ve had a lot of experience — well, not only with him but with people like that — but in particular with President Putin. I know that his political vision is of a greater Russia.”
“I support the administration’s call for Russia to respect its obligation and to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Clinton added.
Still, at CNN last night Timothy Stanley chided Hillary for “raising the specter of another world war.” Sorry, but isn’t Putin the one doing that? A couple more reactions:
Hillary Rodham Clinton defended her record as secretary of State against Republican criticism that she had been too accommodating to Russia, arguing Wednesday that she had taken a tough but pragmatic approach so the U.S. could attain its goals.
In remarks at UCLA’s Royce Hall, Clinton assertively brushed aside opponents’ suggestions that she and the Obama administration effectively invited Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s recent incursion into Ukraine by failing to blunt his aggression.
Clinton said that when she became secretary of State in 2009, “we had some business we wanted to get done with Russia.” Among the U.S. goals at the time: an arms control agreement, the creation of a pathway through Russia to provide support for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and an effort to get Russia into the World Trade Organization.
“There is a debate in foreign policy, and you hear these voices on TV right now: ‘These are bad folks; they’re doing bad things; do nothing with them,'” Clinton said, adding that her approach was to “be smart about it; pick and choose; stand your ground on disagreements, but look for ways to get things done.”
Pointing to the administration’s accomplishments, Clinton said that the U.S. “even got [Russia] to support sanctions against Iran in the [U.N.] Security Council — something people predicted we couldn’t get done.”
NYT The Caucus Blog: Clinton Ratchets Up Criticism of Putin and Backs Obama.
Hillary Rodham Clinton continued her sharp condemnation of Russian President Vladamir V. Putin here on Wednesday, calling him “a tough guy with a thin skin” and saying she supports the Obama administration’s call for Russia to resist further intervention in neighboring Ukraine.
“His political vision is of a greater Russia. I said when I was still secretary that his goal is to re-Sovietize Russia’s periphery,” Mrs. Clinton said at the top of remarks she delivered at the University of California. In the process, she said, Mr. Putin is “squandering the potential of such a great nation. The nation of Russia.”
I think Hillary handled herself pretty well, and I agree with her tough approach to Putin. Let’s not forget that Putin has Edward Snowden and all his stolen secrets. As former NASA analyst John Schindler tweeted yesterday,
“As crisis mounts and war looms, I hope US and NATO have excellent intelligence on Russia. Too bad #Snowden compromised all that SIGINT…”
Just one last article on the crisis in Ukraine, this time from the Russian standpoint and it shows the need for Western leaders to take clear stands. From the Moscow Times: Why There Will Be War in Ukraine. Author Sergei Markov of The Institute of Political Studies argues that the current leadership in Ukraine is anti-Russian and will intimidate Russian speakers living in the country. He predicts this could eventually lead to efforts to overthrow Putin in Russia.
After that, Kiev may evict Russia’s Black Sea Fleet from Sevastopol and purge Crimea of any Russian influence. Ukraine could easily become a radicalized, anti-Russian state, at which point Kiev will fabricate a pretext to justify taking subversive action against Moscow. This looks especially likely considering that ruling coalition members from the neo-fascist Svoboda and Right Sector parties have already made territorial claims against Russia. They could easily send their army of activists to Russia to join local separatists and foment rebellion in the North Caucasus and other unstable regions in Russia. In addition, Russia’s opposition movement will surely want to use the successful experience and technology of the Euromaidan protests and, with the help and financial support of the West, try to carry out their own revolution in Moscow. The goal: to remove President Vladimir Putin from power and install a puppet leadership that will sell Russia’s strategic interests out to the West in the same way former President Boris Yeltsin did in the 1990s….
Markov too breaks Godwin’s law:
Putin made the right decision: He did not to wait for that attack and took preventative measures. Many in the West say the Kremlin’s reactions were paranoiac, but Germany’s Jews also thought the same of leaving the country in 1934. Most of them chose to believe they were safe and remained in Germany even after Hitler came to power. The infamous Kristallnacht took place five years later, one of the first early chapters in the “Final Solution.” Similarly, just four years remain until Russia’s presidential election in 2018, and there is a strong risk that subversive forces within and outside Russia will try to overthrow Putin, in part using their new foothold in Ukraine.
Will there be war in Ukraine? I am afraid so. After all, the extremists who seized power in Kiev want to see a bloodbath. Only fear for their own lives might stop them from inciting such a conflict. Russia is prepared to move its forces into southern and eastern Ukraine if repressive measures are used against the Russian-speaking population or if a military intervention occurs. Russia will not annex Crimea. It has enough territory already. At the same time, however, it will also not stand by passively while Russophobic and neo-Nazi gangs hold the people of Crimea, Kharkiv and Donetsk at their mercy.
So . . . what do you think? And what other stories are you following today? Please share your links in the comments. I have few I’ll post there too.
My internet has been acting strange lately, so I am writing this post on the fly and comments will be at a minimum.
First up, sad story from India, according to BBC News: School meal kills 22 in India’s Bihar state
At least 22 children have died and dozens more have fallen ill after eating lunch at a school in the eastern Indian state of Bihar.
The poisoning occurred in the village of Dharmasati Gandaman, 80km (50 miles) north of the state capital, Patna.
The free Mid-Day Meal Scheme aims to tackle hunger and boost attendance in schools, but suffers from poor hygiene.
Angry parents joined protests against the deaths, setting at least four police vehicles on fire.
An inquiry has begun and 200,000 rupees ($3,370) in compensation offered to the families of each of the dead.
Twenty-eight sick children were taken to hospitals in the nearby town of Chhapra after the incident and later were moved to Patna.
A total of 47 students of the primary school fell sick on Tuesday after eating the free lunch.
More deaths are possible as many of the kids are under the age of 12 and still in critical condition.
The state education minister, PK Shahi, told the BBC a preliminary investigation indicated that the food was contaminated with traces of phosphorous.
“The doctors who have attended are of the tentative opinion that the smell coming out of the bodies of the children suggests that the food contained organo-phosphorus, which is a poisonous substance,” he said.
“Now the investigators have to find out whether organo-phosphorus was accidental or there was some deliberate mischief.”
Earlier, doctors treating the patients had said “food poisoning” was the cause of the deaths.
“We suspect it to be poisoning caused by insecticides in vegetable or rice,” Amarjeet Sinha, a senior education official, told the BBC.
A doctor treating the children at a hospital in Patna said contaminated vegetable oil could have led to the poisoning.
Patna-based journalist Amarnath Tewary says villagers told local reporters that similar cases of food poisoning after having Mid-Day Meals had taken place in the area previously.
The horror of this story will only be more disturbing if it does turn out to be deliberate. I will keep you all up to date on the details as the day goes on.
Meanwhile, the Zimmerman Jury’s shitstorm has begun B37’s fellow jurors in Trayvon Martin trial bash her for leading country to believe spoke for them – NY Daily News
Four jurors in Trayvon Martin trial have issued a statement Tuesday night bashing B37 for going on TV and leading the country to believe she spoke for all of them.
Just moments after CNN aired part two of its interview with the juror known as B37, four of her fellow members on the six-woman jury issued a joint statement.
“We also wish to point out that the opinions of Juror B37, expressed on the Anderson Cooper show were her own, and not in any way representative of the jurors listed below.”
The jurors added, “We ask you to remember that we are not public officials and we did not invite this type of attention into our lives.”
More from LA Times: Zimmerman trial: 4 jurors say Juror B37 does not speak for them
The other four jurors also cited Florida law. “Serving on this jury has been a highly emotional and physically draining experience for each of us,” the statement signed by Jurors B51, B76, E6 and E40 said. “The death of a teenager weighed heavily on our hearts, but in the end we did what the law required us to do.”
It still makes me cringe to think Zimmerman got away with killing Martin, and not one charge was brought against him…aside from manslaughter…assault…battery…geez, stalking? I guess I am rambling but it still seems inconceivable to me that there are no criminal consequences for Zimmerman’s actions, which did result in the death of an unarmed young man.
Alright, here are some links from yesterday that you should check out.
There really isn’t any other word. Congressional Republicans are simply appalling. They have absolute control of the House. They set the agenda. They decide what comes to the floor. They decide what passes on to the Senate.
They know that extreme legislation isn’t going to be enacted into law. The Democratic majority in the Senate and the Democratic president stand in the way. So the legislation they choose to pass is a statement of their own values. It is simply designed to proclaim, “This is where we stand.” And for the vast majority of Americans, what they proudly proclaim is simply beyond the pale.
New blog post by Kurt Eichenwald: My Family, Our Cancer, and the Murderous Cruelty of Conservatives | Vanity Fair
My wife has breast cancer.
I write this, with her permission, while sitting in the hospital waiting room as she undergoes surgery. Afterward, there will be another surgery, radiation, and probably chemo, but what else might be in the offing is guesswork at this point. I’ll know more this afternoon, when the operation is over.
A comparison over at Juan Cole’s blog: Israel’s District 9: Its Biggest Ethnic Cleansing since 1948 | Informed Comment
30,000 Palestinian-Israelis of Bedouin heritage are are being forcibly transferred by the Israeli government, and thousands of acres of their land is being stolen from them.
The 972 article compares it to Apartheid South Africa’s District 6, the inspiration for the film, “District 9″
Tales from the Walmart inner circle: Four Angry Wal-Mart Workers, and Four Happy Ones
Last week, we brought you some true stories from Wal-Mart workers— stories that alarmed Wal-Mart so much that they (unsuccessfully) begged their employees to send us positive stories to balance them out. Since then, we’ve received many more, both good and bad. Here are some.
Note: Wal-Mart specifically solicited its employees to send us positive stories (and furthermore, one employee tells us, “Walmart does have an official policy on employees posting on social media and yes we *can* be fired for posting content the company doesn’t like”). Despite this, we’ve received a far greater number of negative than positive stories. Today, however, we’re posting an equal number of positive and negative stories. Take them as you will. They’re all revealing in their own way.
An interesting look at Latin America, considering the recent events surrounding Snowden and the “courtship” of his “affections“:
Opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stage a protest over a drawing of a gagged face during a march to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of the return of democracy after the 1958 coup in Caracas January 23, 2011. (Jorge Silvas/Reuters)
Around the turn of the millennium, prominent Latin America specialist Scott Mainwaring highlighted the surprising endurance of democracy in that region after the transition wave of the late 1970s and 1980s.During that interval, no democracy had permanently succumbed to a military coup or slid back into authoritarian rule. After decades marked by instability in numerous countries, especially Argentina, Bolivia, and Ecuador, this newfound democratic resilience came as a welcome surprise.
The recent suffocation of political pluralism in a whole group of countries is without precedent. For the first time in decades, democracy in Latin America is facing a sustained, coordinated threat. The regional trend toward democracy, which had prevailed since the late 1970s, has suffered a partial reversal. Unexpectedly, democracy is now on the defensive in parts of the region.
That is just a couple of paragraphs, go read the whole article…
There was a freaky story that you may have missed a couple of weeks ago, Mystery of Nazi Swastikas in the Forests – SPIEGEL ONLINE
Over 20 years ago, a landscaper in eastern Germany discovered a formation of trees in a forest in the shape of a swastika. Since then, a number of other forest swastikas have been found in Germany and beyond, but the mystery of their origins persist.
Blame it on the larches. Brandenburg native Günter Reschke was the first one to notice their unique formation, according to a 2002 article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. To be more precise, however, it was the new intern at Reschke’s landscaping company, Ökoland Dederow, who discovered the trees in 1992 as he was completing a typically thankless intern task: searching aerial photographs for irrigation lines.
Instead, he found a small group of 140 larches standing in the middle of dense forest, surrounded by hundreds of other trees. But there was a crucial difference: all the others were pine trees. The larches, unlike the pines, changed color in the fall, first to yellow, then brown. And when they were seen from a certain height, it wasn’t difficult to recognize the pattern they formed. It was quite striking, in fact.
As he was dutifully accomplishing the task he had been given, the intern suddenly stopped and stared, dumbfounded, at the picture in his hand. It was an aerial view of Kutzerower Heath at Zernikow — photo number 106/88. He showed it to Reschke: “Do you see what this is?” But the 60-by-60 meter (200-by-200 foot) design that stood out sharply from the forest was obvious to all: a swastika.
Reschke is actually a fan of his native Uckermark region of northeastern Germany, extolling its gently rolling hills, lakes and woods, as the “Tuscany of the north.” But what the two men discovered in 1992 in that aerial photograph thrust this natural idyll into the center of a scandal.
This is one hell of a story, and at that Spiegel link there is a gallery of images that you need to see: Photo Gallery: Swastikas in the Woods – SPIEGEL ONLINE – International
The planting of swastika formations, like this one near the town of Asterode in the western state of Hesse, was popular among foresters throughout various regions of Nazi Germany. There were many swastikas in the forests surrounding Berlin until they were removed under Soviet occupation.
In this same wooded area of Asterode in Hesse, the numbers “1933,” the year Hitler came to power, were spelled out in larch trees across a backdrop of pine forest, bursting into color in autumn. The eyesores remained for a long time, until the early 1960s, when American occupying forces discovered the trees during an aerial reconnaissance flight and complained to the local government.
But it was not just trees in the forest that took the shape of Nazi symbolism, towns..buildings and other land formations that remained hidden until discovered by views from above…seriously, go and check that article out.
One more link in connection with this story above, Misreading ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’ – NYTimes.com
The movie “Hannah Arendt,” which opened in New York in May, has unleashed emotional commentary that mirrors the fierce debate Arendt herself ignited over half a century ago, when she covered the trial of the notorious war criminal Adolf Eichmann. One of the pre-eminent political thinkers of the 20th century, Arendt, who died in 1975 at the age of 69, was a Jew arrested by the German police in 1933, forced into exile and later imprisoned in an internment camp. She escaped and fled to the United States in 1941, where she wrote the seminal books “The Origins of Totalitarianism” and “The Human Condition.”
It is easy to cite the ‘banality of evil.’ It is much more difficult to make sense of what Arendt actually meant.
When Arendt heard that Eichmann was to be put on trial, she knew she had to attend. It would be, she wrote, her last opportunity to see a major Nazi “in the flesh.” Writing in The New Yorker, she expressed shock that Eichmann was not a monster, but “terribly and terrifyingly normal.” Her reports for the magazine were compiled into a book, “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil,” published in 1963.
The poet Robert Lowell proclaimed Arendt’s portrayal of Eichmann a “masterpiece,” a “terrifying expressionist invention applied with a force no imitator could rival.” Others excoriated Arendt as a self-hating Jew. Lionel Abel charged that Eichmann “comes off so much better in her book than do his victims.” Nearly every major literary and philosophical figure in New York chose sides in what the writer Irving Howe called a “civil war” among New York intellectuals — a war, he later predicted, that might “die down, simmer,” but will perennially “erupt again.” So it has.
The op/ed continues to explore reviews of the film, and how Arendt’s work is still causing controversy so many years since it was first published.
Lastly, big news in Atlanta this week, LUN LUN THE GIANT PANDA GIVES BIRTH TO TWINS!
Lun Lun, a 15-year-old giant panda, gave birth to twins on July 15, 2013. The first of the tiny duo arrived at 6:21 p.m., and its twin followed at 6:23 p.m. The cubs are the first giant pandas to be born in the U.S. in 2013 and the first twins to be born in the U.S. since 1987.
The babies are doing great and according to a news release today…are healthy and fine. Zoo Atlanta has a Panda Cam up and running, so I wanted to give you that link:
Tuesday, July 16
The panda team is tired and a little stressed, but happy! So far, both cubs are doing well. We are fortunate that both were born a healthy weight and strong. Sometimes one twin is very small. As you all know, Lun Lun is a fantastic mom, and she’s even more impressive this time. The cubs are being alternated with her, which is a technique first developed by our colleagues in Chengdu and used successfully for many cubs. Lun Lun is such a good mom, though, that she is reluctant to give up whichever cub she has. So, we have not been able to swap the cubs as frequently as we would like. Because of that, both have been supplemented with some formula. Both are doing well with this. Their condition and Lun Lun’s behavior will continue to guide our actions. The next few days are especially critical. So, please continue to keep us in your thoughts. We can use the good vibes!
Rebecca Snyder, PhD,
Curator of Mammals
There is so much information at that link to the Zoo Atlanta website, but I just want to add one more graphic which illustrates how amazing this little baby’s growth timeline really is:
Panda Developmental Timeline
Isn’t it wonderful?
Hope you have a fabulous day today, and try to stay cool out there. See you down in the comments, what are you reading and thinking about today?
Archaeologists from Italy recently announced the discovery of a “gate to hell” in Turkey. From Discovery News:
Known as Pluto’s Gate — Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin — the cave was celebrated as the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology and tradition.
Historic sources located the site in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now called Pamukkale, and described the opening as filled with lethal mephitic vapors.
“This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death,” the Greek geographer Strabo (64/63 BC — about 24 AD) wrote.
“I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell,” he added.
Announced this month at a conference on Italian archaeology in Istanbul, Turkey, the finding was made by a team led by Francesco D’Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento.
Among the ruins at the site D’Andria and his colleagues found
Ionic semi columns and, on top of them, an inscription with a dedication to the deities of the underworld — Pluto and Kore.
D’Andria also found the remains of a temple, a pool and a series of steps placed above the cave — all matching the descriptions of the site in ancient sources.
D’Andria himself saw birds killed by carbon dioxide fumes because they got too close to the opening to the “underworld.”
According to an article at iTech Post, “‘Gate To Hell’ In Turkey Is One Of Many Hellish Portals.”
The idea of an Earthly entranceway to hell goes all the way back to Greek and Roman mythology. The portal in Turkey was referenced by Cicero and the Greek geographer Strabo as emitting deadly vapors that caused any animal that entered it to die. But it is far from the only hellish cave portrayed by the Greeks and Romans.
In the “Rape of Persephone,” Hades abducts the spring-goddess Persephone into the underworld through a cleft in a Sicilian field. Aeneas also makes a trip to the underworld through a cave near Lake Avernus on the Bay of Naples and Odysseus makes a visit through Lake Acheron, located in northwest Greece. Orpheus travels to the underworld to retrieve Eurydice through a cave entrance at Taenarum or Cape Tenaron, located in the southern Peloponnese.
Portals to hell were also believed to exist during the medieval period. Mount Etna was thought to be an entrance to hell during this time, as was Iceland’s Mount Hekla, called the “Gateway to Hell,” which has recently shown signs of an impending eruption. Lacus Curtius was an entranceway in the Roman Forum where, according to legend, a soldier rode into the entrance to close it, never returning again. St. Patrick’s Purgatory in Ireland, considered an entrance to hell, was a famous pilgrimage site.
Supposed gates to hell abound in other portions of the globe as well, from Nicaragua to Fengdu in China.
I think there is another entrance to hell in on Capital Hill in Washington DC called the U.S. Congress.
There’s another big historical discovery in the news–this one is about more recent history. An old 1945 article from Life Magazine was recently rediscovered that reports on a plan by the Nazis to develop a satellite that would act as a giant “space mirror.” Supposedly it would use solar power to destroy whole cities.
There’s a piece about it at The Daily Mail that includes plenty of visual aids:
It sounds like something only a Bond villain would propose, but the Nazis planned a mile-wide ‘space gun’ powered by the sun.
The giant mirror could be used to focus the sun on a target – like the magnifying glasses used by children to create fire.
A long-forgotten article from Life magazine in 1945 revealed how ‘US Army technical experts came up with the astonishing fact that German scientists had seriously planned to build a “sun gun”’.
The giant orbital mirror would ‘focus the sun’s rays to a scorching point on the Earth’s surface’. The German army, readers were told, ‘hoped to use such a mirror to burn an enemy city or to boil part of an ocean’.
The idea came to renowned rocket scientist Hermann Oberth in 1923.
Of course the weapon was never built. The Nazis had lots of crazy ideas that would probably appeal to some wacko world leaders of today like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, who is reportedly fantasizing about blowing up the world in present day 2013.
I know everyone thinks this is hilarious, and it is, but there are scenarios in which this sabre rattling could lead to more serious consequences. Last night the Christian Science Monitor asked: Can US trust North Korea leader to act rationally?
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s saber-rattling rhetoric and threats to restart his nuclear program could be a rational move to garner more in the way of concessions in the world community and much-needed political street-credentials among the populace and troops he commands.
But just how confident can Pentagon officials be about whether Mr. Kim is a rational actor?
Could he, in fact, be young, reckless, without great political savvy and in grave danger of making a move that could set off a chain of events – including an inadvertent war – with dire consequences?
The CSM reports that there are indications that Kim may be losing control of his military forces–there have been reports of units defecting to China. Although they were sent back, Kim may feel the need to assert his power by making these threats against other countries.
At NBC News, M. Alex Johnson lists some possible ways that things could “get out of hand” in North Korea. Read about it at the link if you’re interested.
David Blair, chief foreign correspondent at the Daily Telegraph asks: Could North Korea start a war by mistake?
When a country seems on the point of going to war, its adversaries try to identify the key signals that would show it was serious. Forget rhetorical bluster, what would country X be doing if war really was imminent? Today, North Korea is the focus of that burning question.
No one can outdo North Korea when it comes to blood-curdling threats, missile tests and, indeed, the controlled detonation of nuclear weapons. But experience shows that none of these make war inevitable.
Instead, experts have settled on the view that the Kaesong industrial park, a facility found inside North Korea but served by a workforce from the South, could be the real indicator. Through every recent crisis, Kaesong has continued operating as normal, largely because North Korea’s bankrupt regime earns desperately needed hard currency from this facility.
Now, however, things are changing. North Korea has stopped workers from the South from crossing its border to reach Kaesong. It has not gone the whole way and shut down the site altogether – and South Korean workers who stay overnight at Kaesong are being allowed to leave. In the event of war, they would probably be taken hostage. If Kaesong represents a canary in the mineshaft, then the bird is not dead yet, but it appears to be coughing and spluttering.
All these pundits are focusing on whether or not Kim is a “rational actor,” but I think we also have to consider that we have some politicians over here who are always looking for ways to get involved in another war.
In other news,
Yesterday I was reading about a young couple in their late teens who disappeared in a California forest over the weekend. They had called police to say they were lost but thought they were near their car. Authorities had been searching for them since. This morning it’s being reported that the young man has been found, but his female companion is still missing. ABC News reports:
Family and friends are sharing mixed emotions today in Trabuco Canyon, Calif., after one of two missing teen hikers was found alive Wednesday night.
Nicholas Cendoya, 19, was located by another hiker, who was not a part of the search efforts, in a thick brush shortly before sundown, officials said.
Authorities have shifted their attention to the whereabouts of Kyndall Jack, 18. She was with Cendoya hiking in Southern California’s Cleveland National Forest when the pair went missing Sunday night….
Cendoya was located about a half-mile south of where much of the search had focused.
“He is weak, severely dehydrated and slightly confused,” Division Chief Kris Concepcion of the Orange County Fire Authority said.
We don’t yet know how they got separated. I hope Kyndall can be found. People can get very confused out in the wilderness. You wouldn’t believe how many people disappear or are killed in accidents in National Parks and Forests. It’s something I’ve read a bit about.
Yesterday another law enforcement officer was murdered, this time in West Virginia.
Investigators arrested a suspect but were still searching for a motive Wednesday after a West Virginia sheriff known for his tough stance on drug dealers was shot dead in his patrol vehicle.
Mingo County Sheriff Walter E. “Eugene” Crum was eating lunch just blocks away from a courthouse when he was gunned down, officials said.
Tennis Melvin Maynard, 37, is accused in the killing, West Virginia State Police First Sgt. Michael Baylous said.
The suspect parked his car close to the sheriff’s SUV and shot through the window twice, hitting the sheriff twice in the head, according to a state official who was briefed on the investigation.
Maynard was shot by a sheriff’s deputy after a chase and is now in the hospital. So far his motive is unknown, but authorities seem concern that this case could somehow related to the murders of a prisons chief in Colorado and a district attorney, his wife, and an assistant district attorney in Texas. The deaths in Colorado and Texas are linked to white supremacist groups.
I wrote about this and about the Aryan Brotherhood prison gangs in my Tuesday morning post, so you can find more details there. If you didn’t read it, I highly recommend the Daily Beast article I quoted, “Why I fear the Aryan Brotherhood and you should too.”
The Texas DA’s had been involved in a major prosecution of the “Aryan Brotherhood of Texas,” one of the federal prosecutors in the case, Jay Hileman, withdrew for “security reasons.”
Assistant U.S. Atty. Jay Hileman announced his withdrawal from a racketeering case involving the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas on Tuesday in an email to defense lawyers, Houston attorney Richard O. Ely II told The Times.
Investigators have scrutinized the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas in recent days after two Kaufman County prosecutors were killed in attacks that followed their office’s assistance in a major federal indictment against 34 alleged leaders and members of the gang in November.
The gang had allegedly threatened to attack law enforcement officials connected to the racketeering case, though officials still have not named a suspect in the attacks against Kaufman County Assistant Dist. Atty. Mark Hasse and Dist. Atty. Mike McLelland, who was killed with his wife….
On Wednesday, Tim S. Braley, an assistant U.S. attorney and deputy chief on a Justice Department drug and gangs task force, filed a notification that he would be joining the case as lead counsel with David Karpel, who had been previously working the case with Hileman.
The Daily Beast has another scary article today–this time specifically on the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, which is an independent group built on the model of the prison gangs which began in California’s San Quentin prison in the 1960s.