Lots of cartoons for you tonight, let’s get to it shall we?
This is an open thread…
I have to take my daughter to her dentist appointment in Atlanta this afternoon, so I am writing this post early…way early! If any of these links I have to share with you are repeats, sorry about that.
By now everyone has heard the shocking news out of Vatican City: Pope Benedict surprises world, steps down citing frailty
Pope Benedict surprised the world on Monday by saying he no longer had the mental and physical strength to cope with the demands of his ministry, becoming the first pontiff to step down since the Middle Ages and leaving his aides “incredulous”.
The 85-year-old German-born Pope, hailed as a hero by conservative Catholics and viewed with suspicion by liberals, said he had noticed that his strength had deteriorated over recent months.
A Vatican spokesman said the Pope had not resigned because of “difficulties in the papacy” and the decision had been a surprise, indicating that even his closest aides were unaware that he was about to quit. The Pope does not fear schism in the Church after his resignation, the spokesman said.
After examining his conscience “before God,” he said in a statement that reverberated around the world on the Internet and social media sites, “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of his position as head of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.
A profoundly conservative figure whose papacy was overshadowed by clerical abuse scandals, Benedict, 85, was elected by fellow cardinals in 2005 after the death of John Paul II.
Fox News had this picture up with its article reporting Benedict’s resignation: Pope Benedict to become first pontiff in 600 years to resign
Innit cute? Almost like he is taking his hat off in a goodbye salute…its a much better image for this story than the picture that Fox News had up earlier this week on a story about traditional gender roles.
This afternoon, author Jessica Valenti hilariously pointed out that a Fox News column about traditional gender roles in marriage is accidentally accompanied by a photograph of two lesbian newly-weds exchanging a kiss.
The FoxNews.com column in question was written by Suzanne Venker, the niece of social conservative hero Phyllis Schlafly, and previous author of the roundly-panned column on how it’s all women’s fault that there is a “battle of the sexes.”
Venker’s latest column, titled “To be happy, we must admit women and men aren’t ‘equal’” laments that in modern marriage, “men and women have no idea who’s supposed to do what,” all because of “feminists” who preach a “new way” of thinking about gender. Men and women now believe they can do the same things “without ramifications,” she wrote:
“Being equal in worth, or value, is not the same as being identical, interchangeable beings. Men and women may be capable of doing many of the same things, but that doesn’t mean they want to. That we don’t have more female CEOs or stay-at-home dads proves this in spades.”
Knowing the author and subject of the column, it’s pretty much a given that the featured image is an unintentional (but, indeed, hilarious) inclusion:
Turns out, that’s a stock image of Alaskan same-sex couple Stephanie Figarelle and Lela McArthur, who were wed atop the Empire State Building early last year…
Fox eventually took the picture down and replaced it with the generic stick figure image you usually see on restroom doors:
Oh well, it was funny while it lasted.
Now a couple of weather stories…
You need to click the links to these next articles because they are a bit too involved to quote from.
It happened again.
A major storm hit the northeast U.S. and the U.S. global model lagged badly behind the predictions of the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) . Just as with Sandy.
For a century, schoolchildren have been taught that the massive ocean current known as the Gulf Stream carries warm water from the tropical Atlantic Ocean to northwestern Europe. As it arrives, the water heats the air above it. That air moves inland, making winter days in Europe milder than they are in the northeastern U.S.
It might be time to retire that tidy story.
This next article makes me think of the scene from Monty Python’s Holy Grail…the one where the old lady is beating the cat against the wall…Do Not Try to Recreate This 16th-Century German Cat Bomb at Home
Illustration, cat and bird with rocket packs (University of Pennsylvania).Think you’re the first person to consider the offensive capabilities of cats and birds in a hypothetical war against zombies space invaders enemies of the Holy Roman Empire? Think again!
The Germans beat you to it by about 425 years, as proven by this painting, which BibliOdyssey found and The Appendix Journal posted to its Tumblr. The manuscript from which it was drawn was called “Feuer Buech,” which I’m guessing translates from the old German to English as “Fire Book.” It’s a “treatise on munitions and explosive devices, with many illustrations of the various devices and their uses.”
Well, I am not sure how they could get the cat to walk into the fortification on its own…it probably would need to get a little help from its friends:
Since we had a cat story, how about a dog story? According to the BBC: Dogs understand human perspective, say researchers
Dogs are more capable of understanding situations from a human’s point of view than has previously been recognised, according to researchers.
They found dogs were four times more likely to steal food they had been forbidden, when lights were turned off so humans in the room could not see.
This suggested the dogs were able to alter their behaviour when they knew their owners’ perspective had changed.
I wonder if a dog would alter their behavior because a human put a rocket backpack on it?*
The experiments had been trying to find whether dogs could adapt their behaviour in response to the changed circumstances of their human owners.
It wanted to see if dogs had a “flexible understanding” that could show they understood the viewpoint of a human.
*Note, my comment was snarky and not in the best of taste, but I needed to put some perspective on these stories. Animals have been used during wartime throughout history.
Check this out: 6 Insane Uses of Animals in Wartime (That Actually Worked) **
(**Uh, just a post script to my note….that link goes to a 2011 Cracked Magazine post, but they cite real articles and state true facts, go figure!)
Last story for you this afternoon, and it deals with a monster from the reptile world…no it is not another story about the Church, World’s largest crocodile dies in Philippines
February 11, 2013 Lolong, world’s largest saltwater crocodile in captivity, pictured in Bunawan, the Philippines, on September 21, 2011 Enlarge Lolong, a one-tonne, 6.17 metres crocodile believed to be the biggest to have ever been caught, is seen in a caged pen in the southern Philippine town of Bunawan, on September 21, 2011. Lolong has died, 17 months after the suspected man-eater was hunted down and put on display for tourists, according to his caretakers.
You may remember this beast from a story I shared with you a couple of years ago: Monster crocodile gets own park in Philippines
Philippine villagers examine the giant crocodile after its capture on September 4. A monster crocodile which is reputedly the world’s largest is the star attraction at its own nature park which opened in the Philippines this weekend, weeks after the beast’s capture.
That is one picture I haven’t forgotten, I am pretty sure you probably haven’t forgotten it either. Oooof!
This is an open thread…
Most of the commentators seem to think it doesn’t look good for the health care bill. At SCOTUS Blog, there’s an index of yesterday’s coverage.
The New York Times editorial addresses the “test” the Supreme Court faces in their decision on this case.
In ruling on the constitutionality of requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance, the Supreme Court faces a central test: whether it will recognize limits on its own authority to overturn well-founded acts of Congress.
The skepticism in the questions from the conservative justices suggests that they have adopted the language and approach of the insurance mandate’s challengers. But the arguments against the mandate, the core of the health care reform law, willfully reject both the reality of the national health care market and established constitutional principles that have been upheld for generations.
The Obama administration persuasively argues that the mandate is central to solving the crisis in America’s health care system, which leaves 50 million people uninsured and accounts for 17.6 percent of the national economy. The challengers contend that the law is an unlimited — and, therefore, unconstitutional — use of federal authority to force individuals to buy insurance, or pay a penalty.
That view wrongly frames the mechanism created by this law. The insurance mandate is nothing like requiring people to buy broccoli — a comparison Justice Antonin Scalia suggested in his exasperated questioning of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. Congress has no interest in requiring broccoli purchases because the failure to buy broccoli does not push that cost onto others in the system.
It’s really frightening to think of the possible implications of the justices overturning this law. Will the right wingers challenge Medicare and Social Security next? Dahlia Lithwick says the right wingers on the Court seem to want to return the country to “freedom” circa 1804.
The fight over Obamacare is about freedom. That’s what we’ve been told since these lawsuits were filed two years ago and that’s what we heard both inside and outside the Supreme Court this morning. That’s what Michele Bachmann* and Rick Santorum have been saying for months. Even people who support President Obama’s signature legislative achievement would agree that this debate is all about freedom—the freedom to never be one medical emergency away from economic ruin. What we have been waiting to hear is how members of the Supreme Court—especially the conservative majority—define that freedom. This morning as the justices pondered whether the individual mandate—that part of the Affordable Care Act that requires most Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty—is constitutional, we got a window into the freedom some of the justices long for. And it is a dark, dark place.
But the “conservative” justices, who are covered by government subsidized health insurance appear to think freedom means the right to let people die if they can’t pay for health care.
[Sonia] Sotomayor…pondering whether hospitals could simply turn away the uninsured, finally asks: “What percentage of the American people who took their son or daughter to an emergency room and that child was turned away because the parent didn’t have insurance—do you think there’s a large percentage of the American population who would stand for the death of that child if they had an allergic reaction and a simple shot would have saved the child?”
But we seem to want to be free from that obligation as well. This morning in America’s highest court, freedom seems to be less about the absence of constraint than about the absence of shared responsibility, community, or real concern for those who don’t want anything so much as healthy children, or to be cared for when they are old. Until today, I couldn’t really understand why this case was framed as a discussion of “liberty.” This case isn’t so much about freedom from government-mandated broccoli or gyms. It’s about freedom from our obligations to one another, freedom from the modern world in which we live. It’s about the freedom to ignore the injured, walk away from those in peril, to never pick up the phone or eat food that’s been inspected. It’s about the freedom to be left alone. And now we know the court is worried about freedom: the freedom to live like it’s 1804.
The quotes from Scalia and Kennedy in Lithwick’s piece are unbelievable. Please go read the rest at the link.
There were some bombshells in the Trayvon Martin case last night. ABC news obtained video of George Zimmerman arriving at the police station after he shot Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman had no visual signs of injury, no bandages, no sign of grass stains on the back of his jacket, no sign of a broken nose, no blood on his nose or the back of his head.
Last night on MSNBC’s The Last Word, Lawrence O’Donnell spoke to the funeral director who prepared Martin’s body for burial. The funeral director saw no sign of damage to Martin’s knuckles or any other part of his body that would indicate he had been in a fight. The only damage this man observed was a gunshot wound to Martin’s chest.
O’Donnell also had as a guest Cheryl Brown, the mother of a 13-year-old boy who witnessed the shooting. He couldn’t see much, because it was getting dark, but the boy told the 911 dispatcher that he saw a man lying on the ground and another man standing over him. One of the men was crying out for help, and then there was a gunshot and the crying stopped.
Another issue that arose last night on both MSNBC’s The Ed Show was that the police report on the incident listed Trayvon Martin’s full name and address; yet police listed him as a John Doe for three days. When Sanford police finally informed Trayvon’s father that his son was dead, the man who came to the house was Chris Serino, the investigator whom we recently learned wanted to charge George Zimmerman with manslaughter on February 26, the night of the shooting. Serino told Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, that he (Serino) didn’t believe Zimmerman’s story.
I don’t have any links, as I write this late on Wednesday night. I will try to add them in the morning when news articles become available.
The autopsy on Trayvon Martin’s body will obviously be key in determining what happened that night, but the autopsy is currently under seal.
The autopsy on Trayvon Martin was performed by a medical examiner who works for the Volusia County government, and therefore Byron has been in the loop regarding the autopsy, which has not yet been released as the investigation into the killing is ongoing.
“In Florida when a death is being actively investigated by any agency … the autopsy information is shielded under the Florida public records law until the investigation becomes un-active, or inactive,” Byron told the IBTimes via phone Wednesday morning. “So in this case I think we can all agree this is an active death investigation, so what I need to do is refer all calls to the State Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville.”
The LA Times reported yesterday that: Black residents in Sanford, FL say they’re often harassed by police. Here’s one example from the article:
To many black residents of Sanford, the escalating national anger over how local police have handled the [Trayvon Martin] case reflects years of tension and frustration over their treatment by authorities.
Murray Jess, for one, can’t shake the memory of an evening two years ago, as he drove through Sanford at dusk, heading home after attending an art show with his fiance and his 14-year-old nephew.
A police cruiser began following Jess’ silver-gray 1996 Mercedes. Two unmarked police cars blocked the road in front of him, forcing Jess into a Pizza Hut parking lot. An officer got out of a van and pointed a video camera at the bewildered Jess as another officer, his hand on his gun, approached the car.
Jess asked the officer why he had been stopped. “He said, ‘We’ve had a lot of reports of these kinds of cars being stolen lately,’ ” said Jess, a black Sanford resident and business owner whose voice still shakes with rage.
I have several other news links for you on a variety of subjects that I’ll give you in what Minkoff Minx and Wonk the Vote call a “link dump.”
On Tuesday, Minx reported that a group led by Magic Johnson has purchased the LA Dodgers. The team has been in limbo for the past couple of years after the former owner, Frank McCourt went through an expensive divorce that drained his funds. Actually, McCourt really never had enough money to be the owner of an MLB team. The LA Times reports on Dodger fans’ reactions.
Pope Benedict called for an end to the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and met with revolutionary icon Fidel Castro on Wednesday as he ended a trip in which he urged the communist island to change.
He also spoke at a public Mass in Havana’s sprawling Revolution Square where the Vatican said 300,000 people gathered to hear the 84-year-old pontiff.
In a trip laced with calls for change in Cuba, his last message was aimed at the United States, its longtime ideological foe, which for 50 years has imposed a trade embargo trying to topple the Caribbean island’s communist government.
Speaking in a departure ceremony at a rainy Havana airport, Benedict said Cuba could build “a society of broad vision, renewed and reconciled,” but it was more difficult “when restrictive economic measures, imposed from outside the country, unfairly burden its people.”
A terrible wildfire has been burning in Colorado. Authorities believe the fire was started by a “controlled burn.”
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper suspended prescribed burns used to mitigate fire danger on Wednesday after a controlled blaze apparently ignited a wildfire west of Denver that killed an elderly couple and destroyed some two dozen homes.
“Through this suspension, we intend to make sure that we have the procedures and protocols in place so that prescribed fire conditions and management requirements are understood and strictly followed,” Hickenlooper said in a statement.
Although the origins of the so-called Lower North Fork Fire are officially under investigation, the Colorado State Forest Service has said that a controlled burn it conducted was the likely source of the fire.
A Jet Blue pilot who apparently had a psychotic break during a flight has been charged with a crime.
U.S. authorities filed criminal charges on Wednesday against a JetBlue Airways pilot who yelled incoherently about religion and the 2001 hijack attacks and pounded on a locked cockpit door before passengers subdued him in a midair uproar.
Flight 191 was diverted to Amarillo, Texas, on Tuesday, following what authorities described as erratic behavior by Capt. Clayton Frederick Osbon, who allegedly ran through the cabin before passengers tackled him in the galley….
The Justice Department filed a complaint charging Osbon with interfering with the crew. It is unusual for a commercial airline pilot to be charged in this way, and a U.S. official said he could not recall a similar case in recent years.
Osbon, 49, remains in a guarded facility at a hospital in Amarillo, and U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldana said he faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The man sounds mentally ill to me. I’ll be interested to learn more about what happened.
If you’re interested in some juicy gossip from Arlen Specter’s new book, you can find it at The Washington Post and Huffpo. There appears to be quite a bit in the book about naked Senators–including Ted Kennedy. I think I’m going to pass on reading this book.
Sooooo… what are you reading and blogging about today?