Wednesday Reads: Have a pizza and a smile…or Ex Libris and the Sea.

08d39c20af4c7b7c1da9eb22e1c5047eGood Morning

This should be interesting, I am sitting here trying to write today’s post with a pounding sinus headache, while North by Northwest is on the telly.

68cb62a8eb3ed84d979a189400a62961If my brain is not fully functional because of the sinus…my fingers and my thoughts may be will be forced to wander off into the film as Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint travel by train across the country towards the monument carve out on the mountain, you know the one…with those big ugly men’s faces on it.

The thread will feature plenty of ex libris artwork from various time periods and artist and countries as found on Pinterest…so enjoy them.

eb2ea87b8f543e0636a920e0e41fe361I will start with this first link, a story that I found from a couple of weeks ago, perhaps you have seen it already: Barbara Bowman Speaks About Bill Cosby Sexual Abuse Allegations

Last week, Newsweek interviewed Tamara Green, one of 13 women who accused Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them in a civil lawsuit brought by Andrea Constand in 2004, and settled under undisclosed terms in 2006. Now, a second woman is speaking out: Barbara Bowman, a 46-year-old artist who says Cosby took her under his wing in the late ‘80s, when she was a teenager — and repeatedly emotionally and physically abused her.

6ae1625fa92c719cd6f424aaeb95e6e9Both Bowman and Green joined the 2004 lawsuit as witnesses after hearing about it on television; neither had anything to gain financially, as the statute of limitations had expired for both of them.

Read the interview at the link, it is something else…then take a few minutes to peek at the comments. Oh they are all the usual shits you would expect, but I thought it was a very believable story.

Next up, some fun…I must tell you, a lot of today’s links are not “trending” news items.  Y’all remember that article about how you say the word youse, you, you all, you guys and what was the other one?  What We Mean When We Say Hello – Deborah Fallows – The Atlantic

The curious geography of American greetings

Last week I wrote about conversation starters that follow “Hello” and “How do you do.” Many dozens of you have 52daba947cfd5c658de9b432ae155f73written in and generously included your comments and interpretations of what you think people actually mean when they say something like “Where do you live?” or “Where are you from?”

Here is what you’ve said so far:

Check it out, I would love to see what this article’s author would think of places like Tampa, that has an influx of different people…from all over.

With all the cold weather, it can suck ass…but look at what beautiful things it can bring: Ice caves in northern Wisconsin are dazzling winter phenomena

Mother Nature has become a  Chihuly-like sculptress in sea caves along Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. Icicles hang by the thousands in caves at  Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. In warmer weather, the caves would be accessible only by water, but during this consistently cold winter, they are accessible by frozen lakeshore.
Explorers drawn to ice show
( Brian Peterson / Associated Press / February 2, 2014 )

Mother Nature has become a Chihuly-like sculptress in sea caves along Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. Icicles hang by the thousands in caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. In warmer weather, the caves would be accessible only by water, but during this consistently cold winter, they are accessible by frozen lakeshore.

Lots more pictures at the link.

398dbc133effee7eb5c06975bd0dfc43More “neat” stuff to see: Geologists Glimpse a Heaven Below – NYTimes.com

Imagine the frustration faced for so many years by Eric W. Jordan and his colleagues. They could take a pretty good guess at what lay hundreds of feet beneath the macadam-sealed surface of New York City’s streets. They just had no way of knowing for sure.

But the last 10 years or so have been a boon to Mr. Jordan and his fellow geologists; mammoth subterranean excavations for the city’s Third Water Tunnel, the Second Avenue Subway and the Long Island Rail Road’s East Side Access Project have enabled them to see for themselves the rock formations and faults that they had only been able to imagine, undergirding Manhattan.

There is this amazing picture at that link, a massive space within one of the underground tunnels…shitfire! It does not look real but it is…

984408fec6f0fe9deece5270899f2f3aI’ve got another thing for you that is real, but seems surreal. Like a film that should have been directed by David Lynch, Inside the mind of a mass murderer, in drag – Amanpour – CNN.com Blogs

How do we know what is in the mind of a mass murderer? How about getting them to re-enact those crimes?

That is exactly what documentary filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer did with several men who participated in mass killings in Indonesia decades ago.

d79ed463194db68bb51a2ff235427b76“It’s tempting to look at them through the lens of sort of fiction storytelling, where you have good guys and bad guys, good guys and then cackling villains,” Oppenheimer told CNN’s Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, on Monday.

“When you’re a non-fiction filmmaker, you have to look at the real people you meet.”

Just look at this image from the movie:

To his surprise and horror, they were enthusiastic. They agreed to make a movie about how they killed and allowed him to film the process.

The result is a mind-bending movie within a documentary, by turns emotionally revolting, beautiful, and bizarre – one of the mass killers appears, as often as not, in drag. It is rarely entirely clear what is ‘acting’ and what is genuine.

Alright. Moving on.

19866f965bbdf137de654d938edb63e0While on the subject of film, here is a reminder. Watch Pygmalion (1939) – staring Leslie Howard on Sunday, February 23rd at 12:15 am EST. It is fantastic!

Decades before the 1964 musical My Fair Lady swept the Academy Awards®, the author of Pygmalion, the play on which it was based, became a most unlikely Oscar® winner for the original’s 1938 screen adaptation. Possibly the most intelligent person to win the award (he might have claimed to be the only intelligent man to do so), Shaw holds the distinction of being the only individual to win both an Academy Award® and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Given his disdain for the movies, particularly those adapted from his own plays, it’s a minor miracle the film even got made and turned out to be a brilliant adaptation.

[…]

e7e6ea1caa0095cc4bb164461a1e5e9d by Jan Battermann for Eugene StrensThe story of a phonetics professor (modeled on real-life phonetician Henry Sweet) who turns a Cockney flower girl into a lady by teaching her to speak properly touched a chord with audiences, who viewed it as one of the writer’s most romantic plays. It had already been filmed twice, in Germany in 1935 and in the Netherlands in 1937. Shaw had disliked those versions so much that when producer Gabriel Pascal first approached him about filming an English version, the writer turned him down. Only when Pascal promised not to change a word and agreed to cast Wendy Hiller, whom Shaw had admired in stage productions of Pygmalion and St. Joan, did the great writer accede. Although she had already made one film, the low-budget 1937 comedy Lancashire Luck, Pascal gave her introductory billing in Pygmalion at Shaw’s request.

b78f9c96d1c0710899e2152527f8cb4d leboroniThe author did not get his way in casting the male lead, however. His first choice for Henry Higgins was Charles Laughton, but Pascal convinced him that Leslie Howard would make the film more marketable in the U.S. That choice may not have been based solely on the stars’ box-office appeal. In the mid-’30s, Laughton was riding high on a series of popular films, including Ruggles of Red Gap and Mutiny on the Bounty (both 1935). Rather, Pascal may have been appealing to the popular notion that the leading characters eventually married. Shaw had resisted the notion and even wrote a 1916 essay describing Eliza’s life after parting ways with Higgins and decrying the more sentimental interpretations as “lazy dependence on the ready-mades and reach-me-downs of the ragshop in which Romance keeps its stock of ‘happy endings’ to misfit all stories.” With the more romantic Howard cast as Higgins, however, Pascal may have hoped to weight the story towards a more romantic interpretation that would have sold more tickets.

fb24533f0fb9e9c151887ddd327e787fOne way Pascal got around Shaw’s insistence on a word-for-word filming of the play was by hiring him to write the screenplay. That gave the author a chance to incorporate scenes cut from most stage productions because they would have added too many sets (Shaw even had said such scenes were best suited to a film version). The writer also got to expand the scene at the Embassy Ball, where Higgins wins his bet to pass Eliza off as a lady. As a result, Shaw agreed to cut some of the play’s more philosophical speeches, including several of the longer speeches delivered by Eliza’s father. He also grudgingly agreed to include a final scene in which Eliza returns to Higgins, who, unable to express his love for her, demands “Where the devil are my slippers, Eliza?” Shaw would later disavow this ending, insisting that Eliza instead married her high society admirer, Freddie Eynsford-Hill.

Bottom line is Shaw loved this film version.

7fa59304b52c6ef4b87a2992aa906494 Rudolf Koch (1902-1985) Ex Libris Ursula Laut (1940)At year’s end, it was nominated for four Academy Awards® — including Best Picture, Best Actor (Howard) and Best Actress (Hiller) — years before foreign films were regularly honored at the Oscars®. It won for Shaw’s screenplay, but the author was hardly grateful. Instead, he announced, “It’s an insult for them to offer me any honor, as if they had never heard of me — and it’s very likely they never have. They might as well send an honor to George for being King of England.” His private views may have been more appreciative. Mary Pickford would later report that when she visited Shaw the award was prominently displayed on his mantelpiece.

When novelist Lloyd C. Douglas announced Pygmalion had won Best Screenplay, he quipped, “Mr. Shaw’s story now is as original as it was three 40def3de76e3f32652389ba1e75c3e83 Pavel Šimon Ex-libris Kniha Elisky Pihrtovéthousand years ago.” But though Shaw had, indeed, been inspired by the Greek myth about a sculptor who falls in love with his female statue, his version of the story became as much a part of popular culture as the original legend.

Please stay up and watch it, you will not be disappointed.

Okay, now a quick link to some eye-candy: Anna Sui Fall 2014 Collection | Tom & Lorenzo Fabulous & Opinionated

A sad farewell to actor Christopher Malcolm, Rocky Horror’s Brad, dies aged 67

Tributes are being paid to actor and theatre producer Christopher Malcolm, whose roles included the original Brad Majors in the Rocky Horror Show and Saffy’s gay dad in Absolutely Fabulous.

Christopher Malcolm
Christopher Malcolm starred in 1979 drama The Great Riviera Bank Robbery alongside Ian McShane

His death, aged 67, was confirmed by his daughter Morgan Lloyd Malcolm on Twitter, who wrote: “Today the world lost a beautiful, brilliant man.”

868ee92a6c3e45818072c2bbe5817c37She added he “left peacefully and with dignity. He will always be my hero.”

His starred in films such as The Empire Strikes Back, Labyrinth and Highlander.

Having played Brad Majors in the original production of The Rocky Horror Show in 1974 and co-produced the 1990 West End revival, he then took charge of producing all productions of Richard O’Brien’s much-loved musical around the world.

Since I have been sick, and totally out of the loop, I missed this nugget of news: President Obama Apologizes for Dissing Art History Degrees | Mediaite

1cc23b1ad1f95fb03bcd4632b7b7fb5aIf you got a degree in art history, your eye might have twitched a bit when President Obama said a few weeks ago that Americans would be more well off in the manufacturing industry as opposed to, say, having an art history degree. Well, there is literally nothing these days that doesn’t warrant an apology, and now Obama has apologized for that remark.

Well at least he has made an apology. I guess.

e821cd587ddb9da9bbe88ae9c293f546Then you have the other extreme, a president of a country who is completely off base. I am speaking of Putin of course, and his position on gays. Did y’all see this? Members of Pussy Riot released in Sochi – CNN.com (I thought that Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were no longer “band members.”)

Two members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot were detained briefly Tuesday in central Sochi, after apparently being considered suspects in a theft at their hotel, and then released.

3036fb590140298455a7ab5b6debbf6e“A survey in connection with the theft at the Hotel Adler is completed, there is no claim against those questioned,” police said in a prepared statement.

Earlier in the day, band members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were meeting with journalists when police detained them, according to Tolokonnikova’s husband, Petr Verzilov. Russian media corroborated the report.

“They were put to the floor and beaten and physical force was used to them when they refused to be questioned without the presence of their lawyer, who was on his way to the police department,” Verzilov told reporters.

44c53b4794e42536b91768eff9a5fda7The stories I have read about arrest out of Sochi are scary, what a disgusting display to the world.

Olympic police today re-arrested former Italian member of parliament Vladimir Luxuria for wearing an outfit that was deemed a bit too “gay” for the Sochi Olympics.

Luxuria was wearing rainbow-colored clothing, and a rainbow wig.  She was arrested while walking to her seat at an Olympic hockey game.

The rainbow is now legally suspect in Russia since the passage last year of a draconian anti-gay law that bans what the Russians call “gay propaganda.” In reality, the law bans anything – speech, clothing or actions – that might give the impression that being gay is okay.616078707e29af21c89b13e6bef47d49

For example, the flag of Russia’s autonomous Jewish region came under scrutiny from Moscow because it contains a rainbow. And a newspaper editor was recently fined three-month’s pay for quoting a gay person in a news story in which the gay person defended themselves for having been fired based on their sexual orientation. And under similar legislation in St. Petersburg, a man was arrested for wearing rainbow suspenders.

af88f7c8f87bd263e7800cfcd9597f1bDamn…better not be caught eating Skittles or Lucky Charms in Sochi eh?

This post is getting long so real quick like:

U.S. regulator on India visit calls for greater drug safety collaboration | Reuters

3 peace activists sentenced for breaking into nuclear site – The Washington Post

Official who raised safety concerns at Hanford nuclear site is fired – latimes.com

d2b7119e87dfa6dfc568111803737bbdAP sources: DOE to OK $6.5B for Georgia nuke plant | AccessNorthGa -That is for a new nuke plant south of Augusta, it was approved in 2010 under Obama’s watch. Doesn’t make me too happy considering there was an 4.1 earthquake not far from there just a few days ago.

A trunk to cry on? Elephants console distressed pals, study says – For such a smart and sympathetic animal to have as a “symbol” of the GOP party? Oh the irony.

The 5 most egregious antiabortion proposals of 2014 (so far) – Salon.com

ad9879804284d3406c8cb5c61c113102CHARLOTTE: After comment to Gov. McCrory, food store cook fired in Charlotte | State Politics | NewsObserver.com

One observation, isn’t the Gov a public servant and does he not work for the people aka the food clerk whom he got fired?

Unbelievable: Chevron apologizes for fracking well explosion with coupons for free pizza – Salon.com

Here’s a photo of the letter and coupon obtained by No Fracking Way. Unlike the long-term health and environment effects of fracking, this special offer expires soon:

All that shit makes this real estate look good, remember that Sky Dancing commune?

Medieval Castle and Hamlet for Sale in Italy: Castello Izzalini

Medieval Castle and Hamlet for Sale in Italy

This medieval hamlet for sale in Umbria, Italy, dates back to the 12th century, as witnessed by the Todi’s Liber Focolarium, da4752fd2eedb621c9525e353c3bf0a1that is the book of the local families. It was then inhabited by 32 families, more or less 150 people.

Somebody get me the phone!

Placed on a hilltop overlooking the Tiber River valley, Izzalini is surrounded by a large proprietary 16,000 sqm forest. You can find there ancient trees, witnessing the history of the place, olive groves, whose fruits’ nectar is the renowned exquisite Umbrian Extra Virgin Oil, pasture for herds, whose milk is used to make the delicious Umbrian cheeses on site and woodland, suitable for different purposes: activities, garden, cultivation (e.g.: vineyard, olives, truffles), etc.

Castle for Sale

Oh you got to go and check the place out. More at the link and since it is a history blog link, it will have plenty of historical background to go with it.  Yeah, history majors kick ass!

Finally, this is real cool: SEE IT: California scuba divers interact with octopus who tries to take camera  – NY Daily News

Innit nature wonderful!

f5dcf14f060722d82b14bb4c2f38e19f Alexandra Von Hellberg

That is all I’ve got today, share your thoughts and links below.


Saturday Reads: Obama Talks to Rouhani, Pakistan and Kenyan Disasters, Republican Terrorism, and More

Harvard-Square-Out-of-Town-News

Good Morning!!

It’s a beautiful Fall day in New England, the Red Sox have taken the American League East with the best record in baseball after winning 97 games with one game left to play. On top of that, the Yankees are pitiful. The playoffs start next Friday. It just doesn’t get better than this.

There is quite a bit of news for a Saturday. First up, President Obama spoke on the telephone to Iranian President President Hassan Rouhani yesterday–the first time leaders of the U.S. and Iran have spoken directly since 1979. The AP reports:

The United States and Iran took a historic step toward ending more than three decades of estrangement on Friday when President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by phone and agreed to work on resolving global suspicions that Tehran is trying to build a nuclear weapon.

The 15-minute call capped a week of seismic shifts in the relationship that revolved around Rouhani’s participation in the annual U.N. meeting of world leaders. The night before the two leaders spoke, U.S. and European diplomats hailed a “very significant shift” in Iran’s attitude and tone in the first talks on the nuclear standoff since April.

The diplomatic warming began shortly after Rouhani’s election in June. But it is rooted in both presidents’ stated campaign desires — Obama in 2008 and Rouhani this year — to break through 34-year-old barriers and move toward diplomacy.

Iran is also seeking quick relief from blistering economic sanctions that the U.S. and its Western allies have imposed on Tehran to punish it for refusing to scale back its nuclear activities. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, but years of stonewalling inspections and secrecy about its activities have fueled fears it is seeking to build warheads.

Rouhani and Obama spoke while the Iranian president was in his car and headed to the airport to fly back to Tehran, with Obama at his desk in the Oval Office. Rouhani’s aides initially reached out to arrange the conversation, and the White House placed the call.

I’m not sure what it means to “work on resolving global suspicions that Tehran is trying to build a nuclear weapon,”–do they want to calm suspicions or tamp down the nuclear efforts? But at least it’s a step in the right direction. The New York Times has more:

“Resolving this issue, obviously, could also serve as a major step forward in a new relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect,” Mr. Obama, referring to Tehran’s nuclear program, told reporters at the White House after the 15-minute phone call. “It would also help facilitate a better relationship between Iran and the international community, as well as others in the region.”

A Twitter account in Mr. Rouhani’s name later stated, “In regards to nuclear issue, with political will, there is a way to rapidly solve the matter.” The account added that Mr. Rouhani had told Mr. Obama, “We’re hopeful about what we will see from” the United States and other major powers “in coming weeks and months.”

More detail about the call itself:

Mr. Obama placed the call from the Oval Office around 2:30 p.m., joined by aides and a translator.

He opened by congratulating Mr. Rouhani on his election in June and noted the history of mistrust between the two nations, but also what he called the constructive statements Mr. Rouhani had made during his stay in New York, according to the official. The bulk of the call focused on the nuclear dispute, and Mr. Obama repeated that he respected Iran’s right to develop civilian nuclear energy, but insisted on concessions to prevent development of weapons.

Mr. Obama also raised the cases of three Americans in Iran, one missing and two others detained. In a lighter moment, he apologized for New York traffic.

The call ended on a polite note, according to the official and Mr. Rouhani’s Twitter account.

“Have a nice day,” Mr. Rouhani said in English.

“Thank you,” Mr. Obama replied, and then tried a Persian farewell. “Khodahafez.”

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that: U.S. Says Iran Hacked Navy Computers.

U.S. officials said Iran hacked unclassified Navy computers in recent weeks in an escalation of Iranian cyberintrusions targeting the U.S. military.

The allegations, coming as the Obama administration ramps up talks with Iran over its nuclear program, show the depth and complexity of long-standing tensions between Washington and Tehran.

The U.S. officials said the attacks were carried out by hackers working for Iran’s government or by a group acting with the approval of Iranian leaders.

The most recent incident came in the week starting Sept. 15, before a security upgrade, the officials said. Iranian officials didn’t respond to requests to comment.

The allegations would mark one of the most serious infiltrations of U.S. government computer systems by Iran. Previously, Iranian-backed infiltration and surveillance efforts have targeted U.S. banks and computer networks running energy companies, current and former U.S. officials have said.

I’m sure Glenn Greenwald will have a highly disapproving story about this in the Guardian today. Oh wait, he’s probably more outraged that the NSA was able to discover the Iranian spying . . . Never mind.

When Rouhani got home, he was “met by hardline protesters chanting ‘Death to America,'” according to BBC News.

Hundreds of people gathered at Tehran airport, with supporters hailing the trip and opponents throwing shoes.

An Agence France-Presse journalist said some 200-300 supporters gathered outside the airport to thank Mr Rouhani for his efforts.

But opposite them were about 60 people shouting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.

Mr Rouhani raised his hand to the crowds as he was driven off.

A New York Times reporter described the scene as chaotic, with dozens of hardliners hurling eggs and shoes at the president’s convoy.

There was another powerful earthquake today in Pakistan, according to CNN.

The 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck in Balochistan province Saturday about 96 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Awaran, the United States Geological Survey said.

Rasheed Baloch, the Deputy Commissioner Awaran told CNN seven people died when a house collapsed in Mashkay Tehsil as result of new earthquake on Saturday.

Just Tuesday, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck the same area of Pakistan. The death toll in that quake has risen to 366 people and another 765 are injured….

Baloch said a rescue operation was under way in Awaran district to retrieve the dead bodies and shift the injured to hospitals.

The remoteness of the affected area and damaged communications networks are hindering the rescue operation, officials said.

The Atlantic has a good article following up on “Tragic and Heroic Stories from Survivors of the Kenyan Mall Attack.”

Witness accounts and survivor stories from the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi continue to emerge, telling a freighting [sic] story of violence and terror. Yet, as the investigation continues, there are still some disturbing questions about the attack that have yet to be fully explained.

Now that more access has been granted to the ruined mall, images confirm that three floors of the building collapsed, presumably because of a large explosion. The Associated Press reported today that the collapse was actually caused by the Kenyan military, supporting a claim made by the terrorists themselves. It’s still not clear how or why they managed to set off the explosion, but it may have killed some (perhaps most?) of the hostages still inside the building.

The official death toll is still listed at 67, but it’s likely that unrecovered bodies will be found in the rubble. As many as 60 people are still missing.

CNN is also reporting today that the terrorists did not just plant weapons inside the mall in the days before the attack, as had been previously reported, but that members of al-Shabab had rented out a storeand were actually running it as functional business for nearly a year.

While investigators, including the FBI, continue their work, we’re learning more about what happened inside the mall during the attack, and what those who lived through it endured.

Check out some of the survivor stories at The Atlantic link.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a shocking report yesterday, according to BBC News. IPCC climate report: humans ‘dominant cause’ of warming.

A landmark report says scientists are 95% certain that humans are the “dominant cause” of global warming since the 1950s.

The report by the UN’s climate panel details the physical evidence behind climate change.

On the ground, in the air, in the oceans, global warming is “unequivocal”, it explained.

It adds that a pause in warming over the past 15 years is too short to reflect long-term trends.

The panel warns that continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all aspects of the climate system.

To contain these changes will require “substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions”.

Too bad no humans in powerful positions are likely to do anything about it.

Back in the USA . . . 

Congress is still battling over whether or not to crash the global economy because Republicans don’t want ordinary Americans to have health care, Ted Cruz is still getting headlines for making an ass of himself, and the media is still trying to blame Democrats and Republicans equally for the mess we’re in.

From the Washington Post: Obama chides Republicans as shutdown looms.

With Washington barreling toward a government shutdown, a deadlocked Congress entered the final weekend of the fiscal year with no clear ideas of how to avoid furloughs for more than 800,000 federal workers. Millions more could be left without paychecks.

The Senate on Friday approved a stopgap government funding bill and promptly departed, leaving all of the pressure to find a solution on House Republican leaders.

President Obama weighed in, sternly lecturing GOP leaders that the easiest path forward would be to approve the Senate’s bill, which includes money for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the president’s prized legislation achievement, which he signed into law in 2010. But a far-right bloc of House and Senate Republicans banded together to leave House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) virtually powerless to act.

“My message to Congress is this: Do not shut down the government. Do not shut down the economy. Pass a budget on time,” Obama said in the White House press briefing room.

Boehner’s leadership team offered no public comment and remained out of sight most of Friday, hunkering down for another weekend on the brink. For Boehner, this is the latest in a series of unstable moments that have become the hallmark of his three-year run as speaker.

Al Gore uncharacteristically joined the fray, according to The Hill. Gore to GOP: ‘How dare you?’

Former Vice President Al Gore accused Republicans Friday of engaging in “political terrorism” by using a government shutdown as leverage to defund ObamaCare.

“The only phrase that describes it is political terrorism,” Gore said at the Brookings Institution, according to ABC News. “Why does partisanship have anything to do with such a despicable and dishonorable threat to the integrity of the United States of America?”

The former vice president also criticized Republicans for threats to link defunding ObamaCare to the debt ceiling, which is set to expire Oct. 17.

“Now you want to threaten to not only shut down our government but to blow up the world economy unless we go back and undo what we did according to the processes of this democracy?” Gore said. “How dare you?”

But the media is still pushing their “both sides do it” narrative. At The Atlantic, James Fallows offers Your False-Equivalence Guide to the Days Ahead. Here’s just a taste:

As a matter of journalism, any story that presents the disagreements as a “standoff,” a “showdown,” a “failure of leadership,” a sign of “partisan gridlock,” or any of the other usual terms for political disagreement,represents a failure of journalism*** and an inability to see or describe what is going on. For instance: the “dig in their heels” headline you see below, which is from a proprietary newsletter I read this morning, and about which I am leaving off the identifying details.

This isn’t “gridlock.” It is a ferocious struggle within one party, between its traditionalists and its radical factions, with results that unfortunately can harm all the rest of us — and, should there be a debt default, could harm the rest of the world too.

Now please click the link and go over to The Atlantic–it’s a must read.

I’m running out of space, so I’ll go with a link dump on Ted Cruz–if you have the stomach for the details you can go to the sources.

Huffington Post: Student Cited By Ted Cruz As Proof Of Obama’s Failure Is Actually Grateful For Obamacare

John Dickerson at Slate: Why Senate Republicans Hate Ted Cruz

Jonathan Chait: Ted Cruz Now Ruining John Boehner’s Life, Too

Politico: Ted Cruz again refuses to back John Cornyn

Those are my recommendations for today. What are you reading and blogging about? See you in the comment thread!


Wednesday Reads: Tired and In the Dark

cllasGood Morning

This is going to be a pathetic morning round-up. Honestly, I am just too tired for anything other than a link dump, which is what I am giving you.

First this article about the HPV vaccine, you remember…the one that Michelle Bachmann declared makes little girls become crazed sex fiends. It is crazy not to get this series of shots…Why don’t teens get shots for HPV and other diseases?

My daughter and my son have gotten this vaccine, on recommendation of their pediatrician. At least they are both safe, from getting HPV and giving HPV which causes cancer.

More health news, well…if being unable to sleep straight through the night is a sign of Alzheimers, than this next link is also bad news. Lost Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain

Hmm, that must be the reason my ass is sooooo huge. Lack of sleep and addiction to carbs. Go figure.

This next story is heartbreaking, and disgusting, and maddening all at the same time: Facing Protective Orders and Allowed to Keep Guns

You can probably tell from the article’s title that it involves violence against women.

Meanwhile:

In tech news: More addresses please—US hits a half-billion Internet devices

In nuke news: US orders nuclear sites to upgrade vents

Take a look at this, evolution going on right before our windshields.  Study: Birds evolve shorter wings to survive highway traffic

And to end this link dump…a couple of space articles. One story that deals with the heavens during the light of day, and  the other during the dark of night…

10 surprising space objects to see in the daytime sky:  A rundown of space objects visible under the right conditions to the unaided human eye during the day.

Moon and Jupiter on March 17, 2013

A beautiful image of last night’s moon and planet Jupiter from EarthSky Facebook friend VegaStar Carpentier in Paris.

Via VegaStar Carpentier Photogrpahy.  VegaStar is in Paris.  Thank you!   View larger.

Via VegaStar Carpentier Photogrpahy. Thank you, VegaStar! View larger.

Treat this as an open thread, and have a wonderful day.


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!

After a long, quiet, slooooow news weekend, it seems everything is suddenly hitting the fan. A mysterious explosion in Iran–was it nukes? Are the reports propaganda designed to start another war? Time will tell, I guess. Then there is Herman Cain’s campaign blowing up in his face.

There is lots more news than I can cover in one post.

Speaking of the dangers of nuclear power, Think Progress reports this ghastly news from Japan:

Japan’s science ministry says 8 per cent of the country’s surface area has been contaminated by radiation from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

It says more than 30,000 square kilometres of the country has been blanketed by radioactive cesium.

There’s a map of the contaminated areas at the link.

President Obama has promised to help out in the Eurozone mess.

As the European debt crisis continues to escalate, President Obama urged European Union leaders today to act quickly to resolve the eurozone crisis, saying that “the United States stands ready to do our part to help them resolve this issue.

“This is of huge importance to our own economy. If Europe is contracting or if Europe is having difficulties, then it’s much more difficult for us to create good jobs here at home because we send so many of our products and services to Europe; it is such an important trading partner for us,” the president said following an annual meeting between U.S. and EU officials. “We’ve got a stake in their success, and we will continue to work in a constructive way to try to resolve this issue in the near future.”

While Obama did not say what kind of assistance the U.S. would be willing to provide, earlier today the White House ruled out any financial contributions from U.S. taxpayers. “We do not in any way believe that additional resources are required from the United States or from American taxpayers,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

“This is a European issue, that Europe has the resources and capacity to deal with it and that they need to act decisively and conclusively to resolve this problem,” Carney said.

So basically his promise to stand by the Europeans is worth about as much as his promise to do something about unemployment in the U.S.

Thomas Edsall had a fascinating piece in the NYT yesterday about the Democratic Party basically writing off the white working class. I highly recommend reading it. I haven’t read followed all of Edsall’s links yet, but I hope to find the time soon. Here’s an excerpt:

For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class.

All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.

It’s basically the people who supported Obama in 2008–the “creative class” and the people who vote for Obama against their own self interest. So where does that leave the unions and us older folks? Up sh*t creek, I guess. We need a third party then, because the Republicans don’t want us either. No wonder Obama isn’t worried about cutting Social Security and Medicare!

As a practical matter, the Obama campaign and, for the present, the Democratic Party, have laid to rest all consideration of reviving the coalition nurtured and cultivated by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The New Deal Coalition — which included unions, city machines, blue-collar workers, farmers, blacks, people on relief, and generally non-affluent progressive intellectuals — had the advantage of economic coherence. It received support across the board from voters of all races and religions in the bottom half of the income distribution, the very coherence the current Democratic coalition lacks.

A top priority of the less affluent wing of today’s left alliance is the strengthening of the safety net, including health care, food stamps, infant nutrition and unemployment compensation. These voters generally take the brunt of recessions and are most in need of government assistance to survive. According to recent data from the Department of Agriculture, 45.8 million people, nearly 15 percent of the population, depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to meet their needs for food. Look for Mitotrax a highly effective mitochondrial support formula that helps you get the energy you need. Visit this website ww.amazon.com for more details.

The better-off wing, in contrast, puts at the top of its political agenda a cluster of rights related to self-expression, the environment, demilitarization, and, importantly, freedom from repressive norms — governing both sexual behavior and women’s role in society — that are promoted by the conservative movement.

If you ask me, the Democrats aren’t doing much for either of those groups. We need another party!!

Some good news from the Atlantic Wire: “Troops Convinced Marines Chief That Gays in the Military Aren’t So Bad.”

Gen. James F. Amos, the head of the U.S. Marines who wasn’t too thrilled with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell being repealed in September, is thrilled today with how the lift on the ban of gays in the military has gone so far, reports the AP. Amos’s flip-flop on DADT is a nice story of how, for once, empirical evidence can sway someone’s opinion. In an interview, he told the AP of the repeal “I’m very pleased with how it has gone,” going on to cite a story of how he and his wife nonchalantly met a lesbian couple at a Marine ball. Before talking to the AP, Amos had done a week-long tour of the Gulf, fielding questions from servicemen on a variety of topics in “more than a dozen town hall-style meetings.” So how many times did gays in the military come up? Once:

On his final stop, in Bahrain on Sunday, one Marine broached the topic gently. He asked Amos whether he planned to change the Marines’ current policy of leaving it to the discretion of local commanders to determine how to handle complaints about derogatory “homosexual remarks or actions.” Amos said no.

An extremely minor procedural question. Not chest-thumping rancor Amos might have expected last December. According to the AP, he told Congress then:

Successfully implementing repeal and assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level as it will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus on preparing units for combat.

Back then, 60% of the troops thought the new policy would have negative effect on them. But after the fact that perception seems to have changed.

Finally, Stalin’s daughter died yesterday in Wisconsin at age 85.

At her birth, on Feb. 28, 1926, she was named Svetlana Stalina, the only daughter and last surviving child of the brutal Soviet tyrant Josef Stalin. After he died in 1953, she took her mother’s last name, Alliluyeva. In 1970, after her defection and an American marriage, she became and remained Lana Peters.

Ms. Peters died of colon cancer on Nov. 22 in Richland County, Wis., the county’s corporation counsel, Benjamin Southwick, said on Monday. She was 85.

Her death, like the last years of her life, occurred away from public view. There were hints of it online and in Richland Center, the Wisconsin town in which she lived, though a local funeral home said to be handling the burial would not confirm the death. A county official in Wisconsin thought she might have died several months ago. Phone calls seeking information from a surviving daughter, Olga Peters, who now goes by the name Chrese Evans, were rebuffed, as were efforts to speak to her in person in Portland, Ore., where she lives and works.

Ms. Peters’s initial prominence came only from being Stalin’s daughter, a distinction that fed public curiosity about her life across three continents and many decades. She said she hated her past and felt like a slave to extraordinary circumstances. Yet she drew on that past, and the infamous Stalin name, in writing two best-selling autobiographies.

I’ll stop here, but there’s lots more happening. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Friday Reads: What Fresh Hells?

Good Morning!

Well, the extremist Christianists are still at it.  While our military is off fighting against religioust extremism in the middle east, we need to start fighting it at home.  Once again, religious hysteria overtakes reason, reality, and women’s and medicine’s ability to make decisions.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) announced today that he will not veto an anti-abortion bill that restricts doctors and hospitals from performing an abortion on a “viable fetus.” The new law eliminates Missouri’s “general health exception” that allowed abortions to preserve the life or health of the woman. Come Aug. 28 when the law goes into effect, abortions will only be allowed “to save the woman’s life or when the pregnancy poses a serious risk of permanent physical harm to a major bodily function.” This narrow exception effectively eliminates a woman’s mental health as a justifiable reason and runs headlong into the Supreme Court’s decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey which only permits such bans “provided the life or health of the mother is not at stake,” a much more comprehensive definition of a woman’s health. Doctors who violate this new law “could face prison sentences of up to seven years, fines up to $50,000 and the loss of their medical licenses.

This week the NRC has released a report outlining the problems with the nation’s aging nuclear plants that could give us a Fukushima-style meltdown.

Last month, we reported on the widespread deficiencies found in the procedures and equipment the country’s 104 commercial nuclear reactors are supposed to rely on in the event of a catastrophe like the one that hit the Fukushima-Daiichi power plant in Japan.

This week, a special task force of Nuclear Regulatory Commission experts proposed to do something about those problems and other safety issues raised by the Fukushima disaster, where the fuel in three reactors melted down and an unknown amount of radioactive materials escaped into the surroundings.

The NRC’s Japan Task Force said that U.S. nuclear plants are safe but called for potentially sweeping and costly changes to protect against catastrophic events like earthquakes and long-term blackouts.

The panel’s 83-page report calls for upgrades at many plants and broad revisions to what it called a “patchwork” of NRC regulations governing catastrophic events that need to be streamlined.

Groups ranging from nuclear industry representatives to nuclear power critics and regulators cautioned that the NRC report is only the first step in what will almost certainly be a long process of adopting lessons from the Fukushima disaster, where three reactors partially melted down.

That’s not very high on the list of priorities for GOP rep Sandy Adams from the backwoods of Florida.  She’s shocked and upset that the DOE teaches children about energy efficiency and those damned light bulbs.  Out! OUT! Damned light bulbs!

Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Fla.) has introduced an amendment to the Energy and Water spending bill that would limit funds for any DOE website “which disseminates information regarding energy efficiency and educational programs to children or adolescents.”

The “Energy Kids!” site has a potpourri of energy-related information for kids, parents and teachers, ranging from science fair project suggestions to puzzles, an activity book and scavenger hunt. Kids can even earn a certificate for completing an expedition with “Energy Ant.”

In introducing her amendment Thursday night, Adams flipped through blown-up charts of cartoons and jokes from various DOE websites, including the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s “Kids Saving Energy.”

“How did Benjamin Franklin feel when he discovered electricity? He was shocked,” she said, reading from a poster.

It’s unclear how much money taxpayers would save from removing the sites, and Adams said she was frustrated with Energy Secretary Steven Chu for not providing her with those details.

The House is set to vote on the amendment Friday.

The House is adding this important issue to it’s agenda that includes passing a Dirty Water Act and evidently those damned lightbulbs that Republicans like Adams and Bachmann have become obsessed with have to go too!!  I guess caring about the environment is an act of Satan.

On Wednesday, the House approved the cynically named “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act,” a bill that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to oversee state water quality standards and to take action when the states fail to measure up. This bill is not about protecting states’ powers. It is about allowing industries, farmers and municipalities to pollute.

Among its chief sponsors are John Mica, Republican of Florida, who is angry at the E.P.A.’s recent crackdown on the agricultural pollutants that are destroying the Everglades, and Nick Rahall, Democrat of West Virginia, who is furious at the agency’s effort to stop mountaintop mining from poisoning his state’s rivers and streams.

President Obama has rightly threatened to veto the bill if it survives the Senate. Absent federal oversight, states are likely to engage in a race to the bottom, weakening environmental rules to attract business.

This assault on the Clean Water Act reminded us, briefly, of 1995, when a Republican-controlled House under Newt Gingrich tried to undermine the same law. That effort enraged independent voters and energized moderate Republicans.

One of the most interesting stories is the seemingly inevitable fall of the media empire built by Murdoch.  The FBI has opened an inquiry on wiretapping if 9-11 families similar to ones that plague Murdoch’s holdings in the UK. Murdoch is using the Wall Street Journal as his mouthpiece at the moment.

While it is unclear if the review will expand into a full investigation, the FBI’s involvement heightens the scrutiny faced by the media giant, which is under intense fire in Britain over allegations that its journalists hacked into the phones of thousands of people.

The FBI probe also raises the politically delicate possibility that the Obama administration— which has questioned the objectivity of News Corp.’s Fox News — could bring criminal charges against employees of the network’s parent company. Murdoch is a political conservative, and last year he directed a $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors Association on behalf of News Corp.

U.S. officials cautioned that it is too soon to tell if charges will be filed, and they indicated that the probe could face a range of complexities, including jurisdictional issues and statutes of limitation that may have expired. Federal investigators also are expected to consult with their counterparts in Britain, which could slow their pace.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry is unfolding.

Here’s hoping we lose enough Murdoch franchises in the world to bring back some truth and honesty in media.  If Roger Ailes goes down in all of this, that will just be frosting on the triple chocolate brownies. Speaking of Fox and egos from the fascist right, Bill O’Reilly has offered to broker the debt talks.  What’s next?  Rush Limbaugh painting smoke messages across the skies of Tripoli stating surrender Ghadafi?

“So now I am offering to broker the debt compromise. I’ll go down there. I’m ready to answer the call. Because I’m looking out for you. Not some crazed ideology or political party,” O’Reilly said.

Earlier in the segment, O’Reilly bashed the president and congressional Democrats’ “spending madness” as well as Michele Bachmann and other tea party-affiliated Republicans, whose current stance is against raising the U.S. debt limit no matter the deal.

O’Reilly’s debt plan would eliminate tax loopholes — with no increase in income taxes — as well as at least $2 trillion in immediate spending cuts. He believes discussion on entitlement spending must wait until after the 2012 election.

On Wednesday, Carney name-dropped the influential commentator as a constructive voice during the discussions.

“There is a growing chorus out there, of Republicans and Conservatives who acknowledge that we need to do this in a balanced way,” Carney said. “Bill O’Reilly on Fox News expressed that sentiment last night.”

Okay, with that, I’ll ask what’s on your blogging and reading list today?


How Safe are our Nuclear Reactors?

A June 14th picture of the Fort Calhoun plant surrounded by flood waters.

You may recall reading about my concerns about my two daughters who are in Omaha, Nebraska at the moment situated between two nuclear power plants.  One of the plants-the Fort Calhoun plant in Blair Nebraska run by OPPD–is already completely surrounded by water and has been shut down. The second plant at Brownville Nebraska–the Cooper plant run by NPPD–is about 1 1/2 feet of water away from being shut down.  Both face flooding and are part of a more serious problem. The biggest problem is they are both very old and none of the nuclear plants in this country would get renewed licenses to operate if it wasn’t for loosening of regulatory standards by our NRC.

I initially began my search for more on the possible danger to my daughters when I read about the two Nebraska reactors having ‘incidents’.  The mainstream media isn’t really reporting the story.  After reading so much about the flooding that devastated the Fukushima plant in Japan that started a spiral to meltdowns, I became concerned about the possibility of  a similar situation in the Nebraska plants.

Tensions are also rising over two U.S. nuclear reactors in Nebraska located on the banks of the Missouri River, which is now at flood stage. On June 20, the Omaha, Nebraska World Herald reported that flood waters from the Missouri River came within 18 inches of forcing the Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville, Nebraska, to shut down. Officials are poised to shut down the Cooper plant when river reaches a level of 902 feet above sea level. The plant is 903 feet above sea level. The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant, 20 miles north of Omaha, issued a “Notification of Unusual Event” to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on June 6 due to local flooding. That plant is currently shut down for refueling, but will not restart because of the flooding. Compounding worries over these two plants is a shortage of sand needed to fill massive numbers of sandbags to hold off Missouri River floodwaters. One ton of sand makes just 60 sandbags, and hundreds of thousands of sandbags are needed to help save towns along the river from flooding. Sand is obtained from dredging the riverbed — and the companies that sell sand can’t dredge the river while it is flooding. These plants are already in a risky situation, and the flooding in Nebraska could easily be worsened just by a summer afternoon cloudburst.

A few days later and a big up to my mom anxiety, Minx found a wild internet story at some Pakistani website about there being some kind of massive meltdown in one of the plants that was being ‘covered up.’  Operators of both plants and the NRC have both denied the rumors and have insisted the plants are in no danger.  The story is way over the top, but I found other things that are very worrisome that are not. Read the rest of this entry »