Tuesday Reads

Matisse1

Good Morning!!

I hope everyone is keeping warm this morning, as the deep freeze continues across most of the U.S. We’re expecting a little more snow this afternoon and evening, as winter storm Dion moves up the east coast. We’re fortunately that New England has suffered very little from this storm. Not too far south of us, it’s a wintry mess.

Weather Underground has the details

Winter Storm Dion is not done with the East Coast yet. It’s delivering a parting shot of quick, heavy snow that will blanket the entire I-95 corridor Tuesday morning, snarling traffic and flights as snow falls at the rate of 1-2 inches an hour.

“Dion is barreling in like a freight train,” said The Weather Channel’s winter weather expert Tom Niziol. “The snow is going to come down so heavily. We’re looking at very quick accumulations of 3-5 inches of snow. It’s going to overwhelm the streets and make a rough commute.”

The federal government is closed for a second day for non-emergency workers. Other employees are expected to telecommute Tuesday. All Washington D.C. area schools are closed as well.

“It’s been 1,048 days since Reagan National Airport had a 2 inch snowfall, but that could change Tuesday morning,” said The Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Seidel, reporting from Leesburg, Va.

1,650 flights were canceled nationwide Monday. Hundreds more flights are already canceled Tuesday morning.

“The good news is it’s a very quick storm,” said Niziol. “Conditions are already deteriorating Tuesday morning in Washington D.C. Philadelphia is after that.  By about 10 a.m. Tuesday morning the entire I-95 corridor is covered by falling snow. By mid-afternoon the Northeast will improve and by the evening commute, Dion will be past Boston.”

Read the rest for the “state-by-state impacts.”

kandinsky winter2

In Nevada, a couple and four children are missing after they went to “play in the snow” in the mountains. From the NY Daily News: 

Rescue teams are scouring the Seven Troughs mountain range for James Glanton, Christina MacIntee, their two children, a niece and a nephew after the six went to go “play in the snow” in the remo[t]e northwest region, authorities told NBC News.

The family was reported missing late Sunday night and police are racing against time as temperatures dip far below the freezing level, according to reports.

“The temperatures out here are very cold. We would like to bring a successful end to this,” Pershing County Sheriff Richard Machado told KTVN. “We would like to find them as soon as we can.”

The six were last seen in a silver Jeep cruising at a mining area roughly 20 miles from their home.

Driving into the mountains in the middle of a snowstorm is definitely not a good idea. I just hope these people can be found alive.

Fox News:

Rescue teams racing against the clock and the bitter cold worked into the night and were hoping to resume an aerial search Tuesday for a couple and four children who have been missing since Sunday when they went to play in the snow in the remote mountains of northwest Nevada.

“It’s got to be brutal out there,” said Mark Turney, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. “Let’s hope they are found quick.”

The temperature was expected to drop below zero again Tuesday after plunging to minus-16 degrees the day before in Lovelock, the rugged area where the group was believed to be, about 100 miles northeast of Reno….

The family has not had any communication with others since they went missing, according to Sheila Reitz of the sheriff’s office.

They went to the Seven Troughs area on isolated federal land about noon on Sunday in a silver Jeep with a black top, authorities said. It was unclear what supplies they might have been carrying.

“I’m hoping they all huddled together and stayed in the Jeep,” said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen, who added that the area has spotty cellular coverage. “That would be a best-case scenario.”

I have a bad feeling about this–but there’s always hope. I really really hope there will be a happy ending to this story.

vasily_kandinsky-winterlandscape

When I woke up early this morning, NPR was broadcasting live from the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. Here’s a link to the NPR live blog of the events. The BBC reports on President Obama’s speech:

Mr Obama delivered his address to huge cheers. He said: “It is hard to eulogise any man… how much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation towards justice.”

He spoke of how the example of Nelson Mandela had “set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today”.

Mr Obama said: “We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. While I will always fall short of Madiba (Mr Mandela’s clan name), he makes me want to be a better man.”

NPR reported there were also enthusiastic cheers for Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton.

Washington Post: South Africans, world leaders gather to mourn former president Nelson Mandela.

SOWETO, South Africa —Nelson Mandela was memorialized in a boisterous stadium ceremony here Tuesday as a teacher and a racial healer, a transcendent figure who changed history and touched hearts in his native country and around the world.

Scores of thousands of South Africans braved a pouring rain to join dozens of world leaders, including President Obama and many other heads of state, for a four-hour service filled with emotional tributes and joyous song.

“It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailor as well; to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you,” Obama said, using the Xhosa tribal name that Mandela preferred. “He changed laws, but also hearts.”

South Africans from all walks of life, businesspeople to nurses to the unemployed, danced and clapped and sang in the hours leading up to the memorial service, their voices echoing across the stadium as if they were cheering at a soccer match. The rich crowded together with the poor, children with the elderly, all there to remember Mandela, the former South African president and African National Congress leader who died Thursday at the age of 95.

winterlandscape kids

The anniversary of the Newtown, CT massacre is this Saturday, Dec. 14, but the town has decided against holding a public memorial.

Residents of Newtown, Conn., have decided against a public commemoration to mark the first anniversary this coming Saturday of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, which left 20 first graders and six educators dead.

Instead, the town is endorsing a “year of service” and is asking residents to put a candle in their window on Dec. 14, the day of the shooting, to show their commitment to the idea of service to each other.

Newtown families have also announced the creation of the website “My Sandy Hook Family,” where people can post their remembrances.

Newtown resident and psychiatrist John Woodall is an expert on resilience and a member of the committee that decided not to hold a town-wide event for the anniversary. He speaks with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson about the decision.

You can listen to the interview at the “Here and Now” link.

Mother Jones: At Least 194 Children Have Been Shot to Death Since Newtown.

A year after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Mother Jones has analyzed the subsequent deaths of 194 children ages 12 and under who were reported in news accounts to have died in gun accidents, homicides, and suicides. They are spread across 43 states, from inner cities to tiny rural towns.

Following Sandy Hook, the National Rifle Association and its allies argued that arming more adults is the solution to protecting children, be it from deranged mass shooters or from home invaders. But the data we collected stands as a stark rejoinder to that view:

  • 127 of the children died from gunshots in their own homes, while dozens more died in the homes of friends, neighbors, and relatives.
  • 72 of the young victims either pulled the trigger themselves or were shot dead by another kid.
  • In those 72 cases, only 4 adults have been held criminally liable.
  • At least 52 deaths involved a child handling a gun left unsecured.

Additional findings include:

  • 60 children died at the hands of their own parents, 50 of them in homicides.
  • The average age of the victims was 6 years old.
  • More than two-thirds of the victims were boys, as were more than three-quarters of the kids who pulled the trigger.
  • The problem was worst over the past year in the South, which saw at least 92 child gun deaths, followed by the Midwest (44), the West (38), and the East (20).

Our investigation drew on hundreds of local and national news reports. In some cases specific details remain unclear—often these tragedies are just a blip on the media’s radar.

winterlandscape picasso

This has turned out to be a sad post, although I didn’t plan it that way. I’ll end with something interesting and not sad. A group of British scientists has analyzed the environments described in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as “an exercise in how climate models work” and to demonstrate their validity. From the University Herald:  ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Landscapes Analyzed And Compared To Real Places In British Study.

Scientists at Britain’s Bristol University compared the climates of famous “Lord of the Rings” sites such as Mordor and The Shire to regions of the world, the San Jose Mercury News reported. They also generated computer simulations of various middle earth landscapes based on information given in the book (notorious for their vast amount of details not always directly related to the plot).

For example, Los Angeles, western Texas, and Alice Springs in Australia have climates closest to Mordor, the site of Sauron’s fortress.

As a whole, however, “the climate of Middle Earth has a similar distribution to that of Western Europe and North Africa,” according to the researchers, one of whom identified himself as Radagast the Brown after the wizard who lives among J.R.R. Tokien’s fictional nature.

The above finding isn’t too surprising, given that Tolkein was from England. His landscapes either resembled the places he knew best or the place he likely found most exotic (Africa). The Shire, home to hobbits Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, could have easily stood for Lincolnshire or Liecestershire, as researchers found environmental similarities between all three, according to the press release.

I’ll end there and turn the floor over to you. What stories are you focusing on today? Please post your links in the comment thread–and have a great day!


Saturday Reads

Dec. 7, 1941: The destroyer Shaw's forward magazine explodes after being struck during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (LA Times).

Dec. 7, 1941: The destroyer Shaw’s forward magazine explodes after being struck during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (LA Times).

Good Morning!!

Today is Pearl Harbor Day, “a date which will live in infamy,” December 7, 1941. From the LA Times:

An Associated Press story on the Dec. 8, 1941, front page of the Los Angeles Times reported:

Japan assaulted every main United States and British possession in the Central and Western Pacific and invaded Thailand today (Monday) in a hasty but evidently shrewdly-planned prosecution of a war began Sunday without warning.

Her formal declaration of war against both the United States and Britain came 2 hours and 55 minutes after Japanese planes spread death and terrific destruction in Honolulu and Pearl Harbor at 7:35 a.m. Hawaiian time (10:05 a.m., P.S.T.) Sunday.

The claimed successes for the fell swoop included sinking of the United States battleship West Virginia and setting afire of the battleship Oklahoma.

On Dec. 8, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt started his famous speech:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives: Yesterday, Dec. 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

Within an hour, Congress passed a declaration of war against Japan, bringing the United States into World War II. On Dec. 11, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

There are more dramatic photos at the link. There aren’t many survivors of that day left, but at least two of them talked to news outlets yesterday. From the Denver Post:

COLORADO SPRINGS — No one asked Navy Lt. James Downing to hurriedly memorize the names on the dog tags of the dead and injured during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

But Downing, then 28, did it because he could not bear the thought of families not knowing the fate of their loved ones. He wrote to as many families as he could.

The Colorado Springs resident, who celebrated his 100th birthday in August, is the oldest known survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese sneak attack that killed more than 2,400 Americans .

Downing fought to save lives that day, all the while wondering whether it was the day his own life would end.
Downing was a gunner’s mate 1st class and postmaster, assigned to the USS West Virginia. The battleship had just returned to base after more than a week on patrol.

His wife of five months, Morena, was cooking Sunday morning breakfast for a few servicemen in the couple’s home near the harbor when they heard explosions in the distance, Downing said.

“Then an anti-aircraft shell landed right outside and blew a crater about 25 feet across,” Downing said, illustrating with outstretched arms.

In those days, there was no way for survivors to let their families know they were okay–it took until Christmas for some to be able to to contact loved ones. Another Pearl Harbor survivor, Richard Pena, spoke to Huffington Post.

It was life and business as usual for Navy veteran Richard Pena until the bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor just before 8 a.m. on December 7, 1941.

Pena was eating breakfast and was about to head out for his morning duty as quartermaster to raise the flag when the attack started, he told HuffPost Live. As far as he recalls, the flags never went up that day, Pena said.

Before the attack, Pena said he and his fellow officers were living “the good life” stationed in Hawaii. Coming from San Antonio, Texas, it was his first time away from home.

“In the blinking of an eye, a split second, your life is turned topsy-turvy,” Pena reminisced. “It’s hard to describe what you’re feeling. People tell you you’ve trained for this all the time, but you didn’t know that it was going to happen the way it did.”

 

Back in December 2013, much of the country is dealing with stormy weather. CNN reports: Power outages, travel nightmare — and snow in Vegas?

More sleet and subfreezing temperatures are predicted to hit areas from Dallas to Memphis until Sunday, and Little Rock, Arkansas, until Monday.

The nation’s capital will not be spared from the cold either. Snow or sleet is forecast for Washington on Sunday.

In the central Appalachians through central New England, snow is expected into early Saturday morning, the National Weather Service said.

In addition to the plummeting temperatures, the drastic swings were startling. Hot Springs, Arkansas, experienced a record high of 75 on Wednesday. By Friday, it was in the middle of an ice storm.

The Dallas/Fort Worth area is among the hardest hit. It will have a high of 27 degrees Saturday, a day after the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport canceled almost 700 flights, about 80% of those scheduled.

And, yes, Las Vegas will be in the 20’s over the weekend.

The bad weather across the South and Midwest came from winter storm Cleon. Out in the Northwest, winter storm Dion is gearing up to rush across the country, impacting the south and moving up into the Northeast. You can get live updates on Dion here. For once, eastern New England could be one of the least affected areas. We got some freezing rain last night and the streets are slippery this morning, but it’s no big deal. The only other impact on us will probably be some sleet and freezing rain on Monday morning. I’m really feeling for those of you who are suffering from these storms. Trust me, I know what you’re going through! Here are some of the records that have been set around the the country:

  • Denver: Record low of -13 degrees on Wednesday beat the old record of -5 degrees set in 2008. Thursday’s low of -15 tied the daily record. Denver dropped to -13 degrees on Saturday morning, tying another record low.
  • Ely, Nev.: Record low of -17 degrees on Wednesday crushed the old record of -5 degrees.
  • Great Falls, Mont.: Record low of on Wednesday topped the old record of 22 degrees below zero.
  • Casper, Wyo.: Record low of -22 degrees on Wednesday beat the old record of -11 degrees set in 1972.
  • Medford, Ore: Record low of 18 degrees on Wednesday and a record low of 14 on Thursday. According to the National Weather Service, this is the coldest air mass in the city since 1998.
  • Portland, Ore. and Astoria, Ore.: Three straight days with daily record lows through Tuesday through Thursday.
  • Spokane, Wash.: Saw its first high in the teens since Feb. 26, 2011 on Thursday.
  • Glasgow, Mont.: Recorded its first subzero high temperature since Jan. 18, 2012 on Thursday.
  • Great Falls, Mont.: Low of -33 degrees on Saturday was the coldest temperature recorded so early in the season. Previous record was Dec. 8, 1972 (-36 degrees).

Some good news: North Korea has released (they say “deported”) 85-year old Korean war veteran Merrill Newman after holding him prisoner for more than a month and forcing him to “apologize.” The Independent reports:

North Korea has deported an elderly US tourist and Korean War veteran detained since October for alleged hostile acts against the country.

The country’s official state news agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Merrill Newman has been expelled on “humanitarian grounds” because of his age and health after he “confessed” to crimes during the 1950-53 war and apologised.

The 85-year-old flew to China this morning where he boarded a flight to San Francisco. Speaking to Japanese reporters at Beijing airport, he said: “I’m very glad to be on my way home. And I appreciate the tolerance the DPRK government has given to me to be on my way. I feel good, I feel good. I want to go home to see my wife.”

[Newman] has been in detention since being taken off a plane on October 26 by North Korean authorities following a 10-day tour of the country. KCNA claimed that Merrill had ordered the deaths of North Korean civilians and soldiers during the war. His family say he was a victim of mistaken identity.

I have some more new and some longer reads for you, which I’ll list link dump style.

MassLive: President Obama’s uncle, Onyango Obama, to face deportation hearing in Boston.

According to a court docket, the case will be heard by Immigration Judge Leonard Shapiro on Tuesday afternoon in Boston Immigration Court at the John F. Kennedy Federal Building.

Onyango Obama is the president’s father’s half brother.

A judge issued a deportation order against Onyango Obama, who is from Kenya, in 1992. But Obama never left the country. The Boston Globe reported that Obama was working as a liquor store manager when the Framingham Police arrested him for drunk driving in August 2011. He was sentenced to probation in that case, and the charges brought renewed attention to his immigration status.

The Globe reported that Obama has been living in the United States since 1963, when he came to enroll in school here as a 17-year-old. He was first ordered deported in 1986, although appeals continued in that case for six years.

For Pete’s sake, why can’t they just let the poor guy stay in the US? He’s been here for 50 years! Meanwhile, President Obama acknowledged that he lived with his uncle briefly in the 1980s. It had been thought that the two had never met, but no one bothered to ask the President directly about it until now.

New research on Toxoplasmosis  gondii, the parasite associated with cat litter boxes, undercooked meat, and other sources, shows that it can have some positive effects on the brain.

New neuroscience research says that Toxo—the cysts in our brains from cats—can improve our self-control. For the 30 percent of people who have this infection, it’s about more than promiscuity, schizophrenia, and car crashes.

I’ll let you read the details at the link if you so desire. I decided not to read about it, since there’s nothing I can do if I have it…

This article in the Atlantic is from September, and it’s long; but I highly recommend it if you like human interest stories and/or true crime tales. Murder by Craigslist: A serial killer finds a newly vulnerable class of victims: white, working-class men. Fascinating and surprising reading–I highly recommend it.

From Technology Review: Identifying Signs of Chronic Brain Injury in Living Football Players

Eight former pro football players learned this year that they have signs of a degenerative brain disorder called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition linked to depression, dementia, and memory loss. These somber findings were uncovered using a new method of brain imaging that, for the first time, enables researchers to spot signs of the condition in the living brain. Previously CTE could only be identified after a victim died.

The new method could help quantify the risks of repetitive blows to the head (see “Images of a Hard-Hitting Disease” and “Military Brains Donated for Trauma Research”). It could also help future players avoid the degenerative and sometimes lethal condition by limiting their exposure, and it may help scientists develop better protective gear and treatments.

Two interesting reads from Alternet:

20 Things the Poor Do Everyday That the Rich Never Have to Worry About

This one partially explains why I’m so down on Glenn Greenwald: Why Atheist Libertarians Are Part of America’s 1 Percent Problem

This morning’s stupid right winger stories:

Rick Santorum: Nelson Mandela Fought ‘Great Injustice,’ Just Like Republicans Are Battling Obamacare

Eric Cantor Calls the Police on Children Who Were Singing In His Office

House Majority Leader Brushes Off Young Girl As She Asks Him To Help Her Undocumented Father

The Right Wing’s Campaign To Discredit And Undermine Mandela, In One Timeline

Those are my offerings for today. What stories are you following? Please let us know in the comment thread, and if you are in the path of Cleon and/or Dion, please stay safe and warm and update us on your situations if you can.


Friday Nite Lite: Big Stormy Nite

Good Evening

Wow, this is one monster storm front.

You should take a look at the wind map:

http://hint.fm/wind/

The weather will be kicking into gear here in Banjoville later on tonight…so I’ve got to get this posted before we lose power or the internets.

With the passing of Nelson Mandela, there have been tons of cartoons saying goodbye. Too many to post here on the blog…so I will give you a link to look at them all here:

Nelson Mandela Cartoons

And then give you one that I thought was most moving to me.

mandela by Political Cartoonist David Fitzsimmons

141330 600 mandela cartoons

Okay, now in no particular order…just getting this post out as fast as I can…

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

Deer Hunter – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 12/02/2013

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Deer Hunter

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Randy Bish, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – 12/03/2013

Cartoon by Randy Bish -

That one made me laugh like crazy.

Amazon drones vs UPS delivery dudes – Political Cartoon by J.D. Crowe, Alabama Media Group – 12/05/2013

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - Amazon drones vs UPS delivery dudes

Drone Strike by Political Cartoonist Nate Beeler

141012 600 Drone Strike cartoons

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune – 12/05/2013

Cartoon by Pat Bagley -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Charlie Daniel, Knoxville News Sentinel – 12/05/2013

Cartoon by Charlie Daniel -

Day Workers – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 12/06/2013

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Day Workers

How Rich People Create Jobs – Political Cartoon by Monte Wolverton, Cagle Cartoons, Inc. – 12/06/2013

Cartoon by Monte Wolverton - How Rich People Create Jobs

The Modern Scrooge – Political Cartoon by Bruce Plante, Tulsa World – 12/06/2013

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - The Modern Scrooge

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer – 12/06/2013

Cartoon by Kevin Siers -

Math Problem – Political Cartoon by Mike Keefe, InToon.com – 12/06/2013

Cartoon by Mike Keefe - Math Problem

US Test Scores by Political Cartoonist Adam Zyglis

141284 600 US Test Scores cartoons

Mike Keefe / Cagle Cartoons

https://i1.wp.com/media.cagle.com/56/2013/08/15/136033_600.jpg

NSA eavesdropping by Political Cartoonist Jimmy Margulies

141327 600 NSA eavesdropping cartoons

And…big h/t to Cannonfire: Who needs Dubya’s ugly ass “paint my number” dog paintings when we got Big Dawg’s doodles?

President Clinton Doodled Male Genitalia (We Think) and It Was Glorious – The Wire

Here’s Some New Hacked Presidential Art From The Clinton White House

In other “cartoon” news: Using a cartoon and humor to fight violence against women | Al Jazeera America

Breakthrough, NASCAR, public health, violence against women

A public service announcement produced by human rights group Breakthrough uses humor to urge men to stop other men from abusing or hurting women.Breakthrough

Earlier this week, Boston firefighter Billy Vraibel watched a zippy 30-second animation while buying skates for his three sons at Pure Hockey, a sports store in the center of the working-class city of Medford, Mass. The eye-catching animated spot showed fans at a NASCAR race. As a female beer vendor walks by, a man raises his hand to slap her bottom. After his buddy grabs his hand and shakes his head, bystanders and race car drivers applaud.

The final screen clarifies the message: “#BeThatGuy. Stop violence against women in its tracks.”

The message? Don’t just stand by—step in.

I would say something about the mentality of the NASCAR audience…but anything that gets the message across is a good thing to me.

And finally, you gotta see this: Watch This Incredible LEGO Re-Enactment Of The Famous Mall-Chase Scene From ‘Blues Brothers’

All the Lego stuff with Star Wars and The Ring Trilogy is great, but it does not get me like this one does. I guess it is because I love the Blues Brothers and grew up listening to this soundtrack on my parents 8-track cassette player.

Go ahead and watch the side by side comparison afterwards. Awesome!

This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: Most Classless SCOTUS Justice, Ongoing Snowden Saga, and Other News

Matisse-Woman-Reading-with-Tea1

Good Morning!!

I’m enjoying some nice fresh air this morning after thunderstorms during the night. It looks as if the mini-heat wave we’ve been having here in the Boston area isn’t going to be as quite bad as originally predicted. It it supposed to be several degrees cooler than expected today and tomorrow and then we’re back to high 70’s temps. I hope that turns out to be right.

Unfortunately, because of this refreshing change in the air here, I slept longer than I should have and this post will go up a little bit late.

If there were a competition for “most classless supreme court justice,” there would be some serious competition among Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito; but I think in the end the first prize would have to go to Samuel Alito. Clarence Thomas at least has the grace to remain silent and Scalia supposedly can be funny at times. But Alito is just an immature, obnoxious disgrace, as he demonstrated at the State of the Union Address in 2010 when President Obama denounced the Citizens United decision.

Yesterday Alito used childish, offensive body language to publicly mock his senior colleague Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she read a dissenting opinion to a SCOTUS decision that will make it more difficult for employees to sue for sexual or racial discrimination. From Dana Millbank at The Washington Post:

The most remarkable thing about the Supreme Court’s opinions announced Monday was not what the justices wrote or said. It was what Samuel Alito did.

The associate justice, a George W. Bush appointee, read two opinions, both 5-4 decisions that split the court along its usual right-left divide. But Alito didn’t stop there. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, Alito visibly mocked his colleague.

Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the high court, was making her argument about how the majority opinion made it easier for sexual harassment to occur in the workplace when Alito, seated immediately to Ginsburg’s left, shook his head from side to side in disagreement, rolled his eyes and looked at the ceiling.

His treatment of the 80-year-old Ginsburg, 17 years his elder and with 13 years more seniority, was a curious display of judicial temperament or, more accurately, judicial intemperance. Typically, justices state their differences in words — and Alito, as it happens, had just spoken several hundred of his own from the bench. But he frequently supplements words with middle-school gestures.

Millbank goes on the describe Alito’s similar treatment of female Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor a few days earlier. Read about it at the link.

Garrett Epps provides more detail at The Atlantic: Justice Alito’s Inexcusable Rudeness.

I am glad the nation did not see first-hand Justice Samuel Alito’s display of rudeness to his senior colleague, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Because Alito’s mini-tantrum was silent, it will not be recorded in transcript or audio; but it was clear to all with eyes, and brought gasps from more than one person in the audience.

The episode occurred when Ginsburg read from the bench her dissent in two employment discrimination cases decided Monday, Vance v. Ball State University and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. NassarIn both cases, the Court majority made it harder for plaintiffs to prevail on claims of racial and sexual discrimination.  The Nassar opinion raises the level of proof required to establish that employers have “retaliated” against employees by firing or demoting them after they complain about discrimination; Vance limits the definition of “supervisor” on the job, making it harder for employees harassed by those with limited but real authority over them to sue the employers.

The Vance opinion is by Alito, and as he summarized the opinion from the bench he seemed to be at great pains to show that the dissent (which of course no one in the courtroom had yet seen) was wrong in its critique. That’s not unusual in a written opinion; more commonly, however, bench summaries simply lay out the majority’s rationale and mention only that there was a dissent. (Kennedy’s Nassar summary followed the latter model.)

After both opinions had been read, Ginsburg read aloud a summary of her joint dissent in the two cases.  She critiqued the Vance opinion by laying out a “hypothetical” (clearly drawn from a real case) in which a female worker on a road crew is subjected to humiliations by the “lead worker,” who directs the crew’s daily operation but cannot fire or demote those working with him. TheVance opinion, she suggested, would leave the female worker without a remedy.

At this point, Alito pursed his lips, rolled his eyes to the ceiling, and shook his head “no.” He looked for all the world like Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, signaling to the homies his contempt for Ray Walston as the bothersome history teacher, Mr. Hand.

I guess I should be grateful that I’m old enough to recall the Warren Court. We won’t see a SCOTUS like that again in my lifetime, I’m afraid.

Of course the news is still being dominated by Edward Snowden, who once claimed he didn’t want the story of his leaks of classified information from NSA to be about him. “Really?” writes Dan Murphy of The Christian Science Monitor. “But if that were true, we probably wouldn’t even know his name.”

Two weeks ago, Edward Snowden gave The Guardian permission to disclose that he was the leaker of documents from the US National Security Agency.

“I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me,” the former NSA contractor said then. “I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”

If that was really his desire, he’s certainly gone about it in a funny way. From that day, every step he’s taken couldn’t have been better calculated to draw attention to himself. Over the weekend he even turned the media dial up when he fled from Hong Kong to the loving bosom of Mother Russia.

And with the assistance of Julian Assange, Mr. Snowden’s “where’s Waldo” saga is turning into aWikiLeaks production.

Mr. Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, has staked out a consistently anti-American and techno-libertarian position in the past few years. The US government is motivated by malice and power lust in his worldview, its rivals like Russia (where state-owned broadcaster RT ran a show of Assange’s) get a free pass, and secrecyis an evil in and of itself. Though he presents himself as a champion of free-speech, Assange has sought refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador in London, never mind that the country has a poor and deteriorating record on freedom of speech. The Committee to Protect Journalists listed Ecuador and Russia as two of the 10 worst places to be a journalist in the world past year.

Read the rest at CSM.

Meanwhile, Russia and China are pushing back against U.S. criticism of their refusal to help the U.S. extradite Snowden. From The Washington Post:

MOSCOW— Russia and China on Tuesday rejected U.S. criticism of their roles in the legal drama surrounding Edward Snowden, saying their governments complied with the law and did not illegally assist the former government contractor charged with revealing classified information about secret U.S. surveillance programs.

Snowden, 30, has not been seen in public since he reportedly arrived in Moscow on Sunday, after slipping out of Hong KongSecretary of State John F. Kerry on Monday strongly urged Russian officials to transfer Snowden to U.S. custody. “We think it’s very important in terms of our relationship,” Kerry said. “We think it’s very important in terms of rule of law.”

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Snowden had not actually crossed into Russian territory, apparently remaining in a secure transit zone inside the airport or in an area controlled by foreign diplomats. Moscow therefore has had no jurisdiction over his movements, Lavrov said, and has no legal right to turn him over to U.S. authorities.

It sounds like Snowden could still be in some VIP lounge at the Moscow Airport, but no one knows for sure. One witness told Reuters that Snowden did in fact arrive there yesterday. If he is in the airport, Russia can claim that Snowden technically never stepped on Russian soil.

In other news, Nelson Mandela is in critical condition for the second day, according to President Jacob Zuma.

Mr. Zuma said that he and Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president of the governing African National Congress, visited Mr. Mandela late Sunday.

“Given the hour, he was already asleep. We were there, looked at him, saw him and then we had a bit of a discussion with the doctors and his wife,” Mr. Zuma said. “I don’t think I’m in a position to give further details. I’m not a doctor.”

Doctors told Mr. Zuma on Sunday evening that Mr. Mandela’s health “had become critical over the past 24 hours,” according to an earlier statement from the presidency.

In the statement on Sunday, Mr. Zuma said that doctors were doing “everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba is well looked after and is comfortable.” Madiba is Mr. Mandela’s clan name.

The Telegraph reports that Mandela’s close relatives “have gathered at his rural homestead to discuss the failing health of the South African anti-apartheid icon who was fighting for his life in hospital.”

From NPR, President Obama today plans To Lay Out Broad Plan To Address Climate Change.

President Obama is expected to announce a sweeping plan to address climate change this afternoon.

The president has framed this issue as a moral responsibility, to leave the Earth in good shape for generations to come. But the nitty-gritty of any serious plan to address this problem is also a challenge, because it means gradually moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy supplies — and that means there will be economic winners and losers.

Winners include companies that produce clean energy — wind, solar and geothermal energy. That energy will be more in demand, and the administration intends to expand access to public lands, where companies can build windmills and solar facilities.

Public health is also a winner, because the plan would pressure coal-fired power plants to reduce their emissions. Those plants not only produce carbon dioxide, but they are major sources of mercury, radioactive particles and chemicals that contribute to asthma.

The losers will be coal companies and the miners they employ as well as millions of Americans who can’t afford to pay higher electric bills. You can read the entire plan at the NPR link. More detail in this story at CNN. And at Business Insider, Josh Barro lists 3 Reasons Obama’s Carbon Plan Is The Best Solution Right Now

Today should be another busy news day with the ongoing Snowden saga, the President’s climate initiatives, the continuing Whitey Bulger and George Zimmerman trials, and more important SCOTUS decisions. If it gets hot here again this afternoon, I’ll have something to distract me at least. I’ll try to post an afternoon update.

Now it’s your turn. What stories are you focusing on today? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday!!


SDB Evening News Reads for 071811: Phone Hacking, Neanderthals and Happy Birthday Mandela!

Good afternoon everyone.  My mother is making a Boliche Roast and the smells coming from the kitchen are absolutely delicious.  Tonight at  8pm,EST, Anthony Bourdain show is highlighting Cuba.  It is a great episode, so if you can watch it, please do…all I can say is that I wish I could go to Cuba and see it first hand.

So, things are getting more interesting in the Murdoch hack job. After the body of Sean Hoare, the scandal’s whistleblower, was found and the police declare the death, “not suspicious” (cough…cough) the press is gearing up for the expected blood bath as Murdoch’s face Parliament tomorrow afternoon.  Rupert and James Murdoch prepare for perilous performance before MPs | Media | The Guardian

James and Rupert Murdoch at Cheltenham

James and Rupert Murdoch at Cheltenham in 2010. Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA

It seems fair to say that the stakes could not be higher for Rupert and James Murdoch when they appear in front of 11 members of parliament at 2.30pm on Tuesday.

Their appearance, scheduled to last an hour, will not only be scrutinised by the world’s media but will also be pored over by criminal investigators and investors looking for signs of culpability from one of the world’s most powerful media owners and his heir apparent.

Next up in front of the MPs will be Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of News International, the newspaper business that owned the News of the World, who is to give evidence after her resignation on Friday and arrest two days later.

The scale of the crisis saw the two men locked in meetings with their advisers over the weekend and all day on Monday, preparing for a performance that could have devastating consequences for News Corp, which owns three national newspapers in the UK as well as the Fox film and television network and a 39% stake in the satellite business BSkyB.

Today is Nelson Mandela’s birthday, he is 93 years old.  (Same age like Betty Ford and my Nana…) So the UN has a special day planned for him.  Nelson Mandela honored with global call to serve – World Watch – CBS News

South African schoolchildren mark Nelson Mandela's 93rd birthday

A group of schoolchildren participate in a symbolic handover on July 17, 2011 at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg to set the tone before the Mandela’s 93rd birthday and Mandela Day on July 18, 2011.

(Credit: Getty)

For 2011, the U.N. is marking Mandela Day, and Mandela’s 93rd birthday, with a request: 67 minutes of community service, from everyone, in honor of the man who has given so much himself.

The “Take Action! Inspire Change” campaign for Nelson Mandela International Day asks communities to take just over an hour for community service to honor Mandela’s 67 years of service, which culminated in his election as the first democratically-elected president of a post-apartheid South Africa.

“Everybody remembers — and, indeed, needs — an inspirational figure who has played a signal role in their lives,” said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. “Nelson Mandela has been that role model for countless people around the world.”

Take Action Inspire Change web page can be found here:  Nelson Mandela International Day, July 18, For Freedom, Justice and Democracy

Give it a look see and get inspired.

Alrighty then, now I find this next link interesting…you may remember the study that was done a few years ago about tracing DNA throughout the world to study the migration of peoples.  The Genographic Project – Human Migration, Population Genetics, Maps, DNA – National Geographic

So finding out that non-African people contain Neanderthal DNA is yet another peice of the puzzle in our early history.  All Non-Africans Part Neanderthal, Genetics Confirm : Discovery News

If your heritage is non-African, you are part Neanderthal, according to a new study in the July issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution. Discovery News has been reporting on human/Neanderthal interbreeding for some time now, so this latest research confirms earlier findings.

Damian Labuda of the University of Montreal’s Department of Pediatrics and the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center conducted the study with his colleagues. They determined some of the human X chromosome originates from Neanderthals, but only in people of non-African heritage.

“This confirms recent findings suggesting that the two populations interbred,” Labuda was quoted as saying in a press release. His team believes most, if not all, of the interbreeding took place in the Middle East, while modern humans were migrating out of Africa and spreading to other regions.

The ancestors of Neanderthals left Africa about 400,000 to 800,000 years ago. They evolved over the millennia mostly in what are now France, Spain, Germany and Russia. They went extinct, or were simply absorbed into the modern human population, about 30,000 years ago.

From using science to understand human evolution and development to using science to create an internet that has touched every aspect of our present human lives. Check out this “inforgraphic” developed by CISCO and see just how far humans have come since they mated with Neanderthals…The Internet of Things Infographic | Geekosystem

Beyond all that prognostication, this handsome infographic also has some staggering numbers about the how much information is being pushed around the Internet. Read on, and be amazed.

Well? What doyou think of that? Cool huh?