Tuesday Reads: Rachel and Trayvon, Reid Going Nuclear, Spy Stories, and Much More

Dog_getting_the_newspaper

Good Morning!!

I’m not sure if it’s the heat or the depressing news, but I’m having a hard time getting going this morning.

We’re into our third heat wave of the summer, and I’m actually getting acclimated to 90 degree weather; but I suppose it still has an effect on my body and mind.

I’m also somewhat depressed about the Zimmerman verdict and by the often ignorant reactions I see on-line and on TV.

Rachel and Trayvon

One bright spot in the coverage for me was Rachel Jeantel’s interview with Piers Morgan last night. She was real and authentic, and Morgan pretty much stayed out of the way and let her talk. I think she made a real impression on him and the reaction from the live audience was very positive too. It was refreshing. IMO, it says a lot about Travon Martin’s character that he had a friend like Rachel. I’m going to post the whole interview here in case you missed it or you want to watch it again.

From Mediaite:

Asked about what Trayvon Martin was like as a friend, Jeantel described him as a “calm, chill, loving person” and said she never saw him get “aggressive” or “lose his temper.” She said that the defense’s attempts to portray Martin as a “thug” were unfounded and defended his relatively mild drug use. “Weed don’t make him go crazy,” she said, “it just makes him go hungry.”

Jeantel also responded to the massive mockery she received in social media for the way she speaks, explaining that she was born with an under-bite that has made it difficult for her to speak clearly. When Morgan asked if she’d been bullied for her condition, she simply responded, “Look at me,” to laughter from the studio audience.

Morgan attempted to get Jeantel to offer her opinion of defense attorney Don West, who many claimed was condescending towards her when she was on the stand. Jeantel shook her head, declining to say anything bad about the man given her “Christian” upbringing.

In the second part of his interview with Jeantel, Morgan turned to the “creepy-ass cracker” comment she made and the major impact it had on the tenor of the case. She explained that the term is actually spelled “cracka” and defined it as “people who are acting like they’re police.” She said that if Zimmerman had calmly approached Martin and introduced himself, her friend would have politely said what he was doing there and nothing more would have happened.

Unlike the juror, Jeantel did think Zimmerman was racially motivated. “It was racial,” she said. “Let’s be honest, racial. If Trayvon was white and he had a hoodie on, would that happen?”

I’d also like to recommend this piece by Robin D.G. Kelley at Counterpunch:  The US v. Trayvon Martin.

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Senator Rand Paul, Florida State Representative Dennis Baxley (also sponsor of his state’s Stand Your Ground law), along with a host of other Republicans, argued that had the teachers and administrators been armed, those twenty little kids whose lives Adam Lanza stole would be alive today.   Of course, they were parroting the National Rifle Association’s talking points.  The NRA and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the conservative lobbying group responsible for drafting and pushing “Stand Your Ground” laws across the country, insist that an armed citizenry is the only effective defense against imminent threats, assailants, and predators.

But when George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed, teenage pedestrian returning home one rainy February evening from a neighborhood convenience store, the NRA went mute.  Neither NRA officials nor the pro-gun wing of the Republican Party argued that had Trayvon Martin been armed, he would be alive today.  The basic facts are indisputable: Martin was on his way home when Zimmerman began to follow him—first in his SUV, and then on foot.  Zimmerman told the police he had been following this “suspicious-looking” young man.  Martin knew he was being followed and told his friend, Rachel Jeantel, that the man might be some kind of sexual predator.  At some point, Martin and Zimmerman confronted each other, a fight ensued, and in the struggle Zimmerman shot and killed Martin.

Zimmerman pursued Martin.  This is a fact.  Martin could have run, I suppose, but every black man knows that unless you’re on a field, a track, or a basketball court, running is suspicious and could get you a bullet in the back.  The other option was to ask this stranger what he was doing, but confrontations can also be dangerous—especially without witnesses and without a weapon besides a cell phone and his fists.  Florida law did not require Martin to retreat, though it is not clear if he had tried to retreat.  He did know he was in imminent danger.

Why didn’t Trayvon have a right to stand his ground? Why didn’t his fear for his safety matter? We need to answer these questions as a society.  Please read the whole article if you can.
Read the rest of this entry »


A Sunday Evening: A Continuation of Reads

03cc38cfd69715eb0c493deba39c1484Good Evening

Alright, I’ll just dive in, since this thread is getting posted a lot later than I had hoped. The links will touch on the testimony of Rachel Jeantel…particularly her use of the English language, the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, and culture Geechee-Gullah people, the descendants of West African slaves on Georgia’s Sapelo Island.

This first article is very good, it is written by Christina Coleman from Global Grind.  I want you to read the entire thing…but the one sentence that I think makes the point is this: “For Rachel, these little cultural differences get lost in translation.”

Why Black People Understand Rachel Jeantel by Christina Coleman

So let’s cut to the chase. Any attorney, jury member, judge or white person in that courtroom is not going to understand Rachel Jeantel. And I don’t expect them to.

In fact, I certainly, like my fellow writer Rachel Samara, understand why white people wouldn’t like Rachel.

She’s hard. She’s black. And your assumptions about her background and lack of education make you feel like you are better, somehow. That her testimony, no matter how powerful and impactful it may be to this trial, is implausible. Weak, maybe? Let’s impeach her.

But maybe the reason white people don’t understand Rachel Jeantel has something more to do with white privilege then, what they would call, Rachel’s capricious nature.

Let’s for one second try to understand why Rachel is “angry” (read emotional), “hood” (read blunt), and “unintelligent” (read multilingual).

The thing is, what white people see in Rachel has little to do about her own issues, and more to say about the America that white people are blind to.

I won’t quote the entire piece, like I said you need to read it…

It’s not that Rachel can’t be trusted. In fact, her testimony has remained solid and consistent throughout her nearly seven hours of questioning.

But, the initial fear of not knowing what would happen is something that black people can understand. And overlook. Which is something that someone with white privilege wouldn’t exactly grasp.

But what’s more are the cultural differences between white and black people.

When asked why she omitted the words “creepy ass cracker” and “nigga” when speaking in front of Sybrina Fulton about her son’s last moments, she simply told the court that she didn’t want to disrespect her.

As West looked at her in utter disbelief, Rachel looked back, unwavering. How could he not understand that she couldn’t bring herself to upset someone who had just lost a child? Better yet, curse in front of adults.

Note: Disrespect to elders in the black and especially Caribbean communities is almost as bad as cursing the Lord.

And speaking of that word “nigga,” the court might not understand Trayvon and Rachel’s casual use of the word because of how often, no matter how controversial, it is used in our communities.

So aside from the argument that we took the power out of a degrading word and made it into a term of endearment, it’s used so much that it’s become a substitute for identifiers such as “that guy,” or “him,” etc.

And for Don West to argue that the use of the word “nigga” was racial for Trayvon is incomprehensible, especially because he used it on a person who was not of African descent.

For Rachel, these little cultural differences get lost in translation. And instead of trying to understand her, people are reducing the miscommunication to semantics, what they call her broken “Kings English,” and her anger. Without even realizing that she comes from a home where Creole is her first language, or that her friend was killed just seconds after he last spoke to her. Wouldn’t you be frustrated in front of a court that refuses to understand you?

But most importantly, if there is anything that black people can understand that those judging her are not, it’s the loss of life without justice.

And as Rachel Jeantel sits on the stand, nervous, mumbling and annoyed, it’s not that she’s just a “hoodrat with no media training from a hostile environment.”

It’s just that your world and our world are…excuse the cliche…worlds apart.

And that, my friends, was never Rachel Jeantel’s fault.

And with that article goes this one by Rachel Samara also from Global Grind. What White People Don’t Understand About Rachel Jeantel By Rachel Samara

The 19-year-old Miami native is an easy target for obvious, yet shallow reasons. But let’s not forget why she’s actually on the stand in George Zimmerman’s second degree murder trial. Rachel was the last person to speak to a living, breathing Trayvon Martin. The guilt, shame and sorrow she must feel is something most of us will never be able to comprehend. You could hear it in her voice, see it in her jittery body language. She is feeling the wrath of this highly publicized case.

Rachel was thrown head first into this murder story, unwillingly. And although she had repeatedly said she did not want to be a witness, did not even want to believe she was the last person Trayvon spoke to, Rachel took the stand for all the right reasons. She was asked to by the family of her deceased friend and feeling part of the burden for his death, she wanted to help.

Rachel was raw, emotional, aggressive and hostile, and she was unapologetically herself.

Again, this is another article to read in full.

I can imagine George Zimmerman’s defense is just hoping some of those 5 white jurors have some prejudices (as most people do), or hell, are even racist, because if they are, their tactic to make Rachel out to be less intelligent, rather than less credible than she actually is, might actually work.

Less intelligent and more confused.

Less intelligent because of the “language barrier” and more confused because of the lawyers’ failure to understand who Rachel is, where she comes from, what kind of life she lives.

It seems the middle-aged white men on both sides of this case are totally unaware of what Rachel’s life is like – a 19-year-old high school student of Haitian descent who knows nothing more than the few block radius she has grown up in. The cultural differences here are exponential.

But if the lawyers, and especially the jurors, were really listening, they would see that although she comes off aggressive, Rachel was consistent. Yes, the defense proved she had lied in the past, but she didn’t deny it. On the contrary. She was very honest about it, and even led us to sympathize with her reasoning for it – she did not want to see Trayvon’s body, she did not want to face Trayvon’s mother and she wanted to wipe her hands of the situation because of the emotion and trauma. She was the last person Trayvon spoke to and she wanted everyone to understand what that means. This is in no way easy for her.

Rachel is the prosecution’s key witness, but I am going to call her the misunderstood witness. She holds vital information that both the defense and prosecution need, but these middle-aged white men questioning her do not get it. Sadly both the prosecution and the defense [but more so the defense] have an extreme disconnect from her reality, like I said. The constant text messaging between her and Trayvon is normal for two high school kids who may like each other, the nonchalant use of racial slurs like “cracka” and “n*gga” are slang (as Rachel put it) and that doesn’t mean it comes from a racist place.

Trayvon was just 17, his life consisted of text messaging, high school, PS3, girls and not much else. He had a lot of growing up to do, a lot of experiences to take in, so much more to learn, but sadly, he will never get a chance to do any of those things.

Okay, and after you read that article…here is another Will You White Crackers Please Stop Whining for the Love of God

The tragic shooting death of Trayvon Martin continues to be one of America’s richest sources of tangentially-related arguments. The latest: Is “cracker” a “racial” term? The correct answer: Shut up, cracker.

In the trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida man accused of murdering Trayvon Martin, witness Rachel Jeantel testified that Martin told her that a “creepy-ass cracker” (Zimmerman) was following him shortly before he was killed. Under grilling from Zimmerman’s attorney, Jeantel said that she did not think that “cracker” was a “racial” remark, or an offensive one, or, really, a big deal. Now, the question of whether or not “cracker” is “racial” is being reported on as an issue of great importance. As a born-and-raised Southerner— and a cracker— I feel qualified to offer some insight to those who may be confused by this thorny sociological quandary.

Is “cracker” a “racial” term? Yes, it means “white person.” Therefore it is “racial.”

Is “cracker” an offensive term? Well, let’s put it this way: if you are the type of white person who is greatly offended by being called a “cracker,” you can always take heart in the knowledge that the Confederacy went down fighting bravely. They’ll never take that away from you, by god.

Is “cracker” a real live racial slur, just as despicable as all the other racial slurs? A racial slur? Sure, technically speaking. A real racial slur? Sadly, no. There are no good racial slurs for white people. Despite the fact that white Americans have committed far more atrocities against the other races of the world than all of those races combined have committed against white people, there is no one single slur in popular usage that can really cut a white person to their soft, marshmallowy core. It’s tragic, really. A corollary of this fact is the fact that white people who complain loudly about “racial slurs” like “cracker” are “pussies.”

Go on…

Does the philosophical question of whether or not “cracker” is a “racial” term have any real bearing whatsoever on whether or not Trayvon Martin deserved to be shot and killed? No.

Hey, how come nobody makes a big deal when a black person says “cracker,” but I lose all my endorsement deals just for calling black people…. Hold it right there, whitey. It boggles the mind to know that this question is still so fervently discussed in internet comment sections and in the stands of Ole Miss football games, and yet is one of the single most god damn ignorant questions that could ever be formulated by a white resident of the United States of America. The reason you’re looking for, cracker, is “the history of the United States of America.” Look it up. You can figure it out if you really, really try. I mean, lord almighty, you’d think that this whole discussion would have been laid to rest years ago just by Chris Rock routines alone, but no. Fucking whiny crackers will not stop whining like little babies no matter how fucking good they have it.

Once back in Orlando, when we were moving into our new condo and the place was still not yet completed…I was there with my newborn son unpacking the little things and taking care of him while the rest of the big stuff was being loaded up at the apartment. The condo did not have cable, just a TV and a VCR. The only tapes I had at the time was Blazing Saddles and Silence of the Lambs. Well…Jake was awake and I had just putting on Blazing Saddles in the VCR, the tile guy came to do the back splash in the kitchen. He was a black man.

Part of me wanted to shut the movie off, but part of me was curious too. He had come in after the beginning credits but before the “I get a kick out of you” scene .

The first n-word got the response I expected…he quickly said, “Hey now, that ain’t cool…you gotta turn that off.”  But…when he came around the corner and saw what was on he immediately said, “Na, is that Blazing Saddles? Na, that’s okay, Mel Brooks is the only white man who ‘s allowed say n-word…” (Ugh…he said the full word by  the way.)

So…after that I talked to him about that, I asked him if this was because Richard Pryor co-wrote the script…nope, it wasn’t because of that.

Well, why then? Why could Mel Brooks, a white man, get away with it? His reply was simple…”I don’t know, he just can.”

Think about his answer.

I have to say there was some moments when we both shared some laughs during that movie, and it was probably with different cultural understandings, but we laughed together.

On to the big anniversary in Gettysburg this week…in link dump fashion.

Battle of Gettysburg 150th anniversary has town in high gear

Battle of Gettysburg

Reenactors demonstrate a battle during ongoing activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg on Friday at Bushey Farm in Gettysburg, Pa. (Matt Rourke / Associated Press)

The town of Gettysburg is in high gear after years of preparation to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the historic Civil War battle–events expected to generate about $100 million for a local economy wrapped tightly around historic tourism.

The battle of Gettysburg, which took place July 1-3, 1863, was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Plans to commemorate the pivotal clash between Union and Confederate forces have been years in the making.

Organizers have taken to calling it Gettysburg’s “Olympic moment” for scale and grandeur.

“We’ve never done anything like this, at least our generation hasn’t,” said Carl Whitehall, spokesman for the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. His group estimated $100 million in tourism revenue.

Park employees already refer to this time of year as the “high holy days.” The 150th anniversary has injected just a bit more pomp into the circumstances.

“This is just the ‘high holy days’ on steroids,” said parks spokeswoman Katie  Lawhon, who has worked at Gettysburg for more than 20 years.

New map may explain Lee’s decisions at Gettysburg

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee listened to scouting reports, scanned the battlefield and ordered his second-in-command, James Longstreet, to attack the Union Army’s left flank.

It was a fateful decision, one that led to one of the most desperate clashes of the entire Civil War – the fight for a piece of ground called Little Round Top. The Union’s defense of the boulder-strewn promontory helped send Lee to defeat at Gettysburg, and he never again ventured into Northern territory.

Why did the shrewd and canny Lee choose to attack, especially in the face of the Union’s superior numbers?

While historians have long wrestled with that question, geographers and cartographers have come up with an explanation, by way of sophisticated mapping software that shows the rolling terrain exactly as it would have appeared to Lee: From his vantage point, he simply couldn’t see throngs of Union soldiers amid the hills and valleys.

“Our analysis shows that he had a very poor understanding of how many forces he was up against, which made him bolder,” said Middlebury College professor Anne Knowles, whose team produced the most faithful re-creation of the Gettysburg battlefield to date, using software called GIS, or geographic information systems.

The Battle of Gettysburg as covered by The Saturday Evening Post – CBS News

Being the America’s oldest magazine still in publication, The Saturday Evening Post has for almost 300 years covered just about every topic, including the Battle of Gettysburg. The magazine has been around since the days of the original 13 colonies.

Confederate POWs: Produced handwritten newspaper at Fort Delaware.

Confederate prisoners of war confined at Fort Delaware produced this newspaper by hand in 1865. The New-York Historical Society holds one of four surviving copies, each of which was likely passed around and read by multiple prisoners. The paper numbers four pages in total.

Like camps holding Union prisoners in the South, Fort Delaware, located on the Delaware River, was not a pleasant place. More than 40,000 Confederate POWs cycled through the brick-walled prison between 1862 and 1865. Overcrowding, poor handling of sanitation, and short rations resulted in the deaths of many prisoners. (Astonishingly, 56,000 men fighting on both sides died while imprisoned during the conflict.)

Despite these conditions, the men at Fort Delaware evolved an informal economy, staged entertainments, and formed clubs. This newspaper was mostly concerned with covering these aspects of the prison experience. In their introductory column, the editors of the paper warn the reader that “nothing political will be indulged in” and promise instead to promote “public improvements, the Fine Arts, and Advancement of Literature.”

Iconic Civil War photograph sparks controversy

Photographer Alexander Gardner and his two colleagues, Timothy O’Sullivan and James Gibson, came upon a frightful landscape late on July 5, 1863.

Soldiers of the Blue and Gray lay dead virtually everywhere, still littering a battlefield nearly two days after the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg.

The trio set about recording the aftermath of the battle, photographing the dead at locations that have long since become synonymous with the Gettysburg lore – the Slaughter Pen, the Wheatfield, the Valley of Death and Little Round Top.

One picture they captured, of a lone Confederate soldier lying dead in Devil’s Den within the Slaughter Pen area, has become an indelible symbol of intimate combat and death – and possibly even the war itself.

The dead Confederate in the photograph, “Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter, Gettysburg,” shows a young soldier lying face-up behind a stone wall, situated at the confluence of two large stone outcroppings in Devil’s Den.

The scene has a compelling quality, almost as if the viewer has happened upon a sacred roofless tomb.

But despite the sense of deadly immediacy the image possesses, all is not as it seems in the photograph.

Now for some articles and photo galleries on the Georgia Sapelo Island, Ga.

Recently there was some news about a small area along the coast of Georgia: Feds Approve Gullah-Geechee Plan

A plan to preserve the culture of slave descendants of the sea islands on the Southeast coast has been approved by the Department of the Interior.

The 272-page management plan for the Gullah-Geechee Heritage Corridor has been more than a dozen years in the making.

Last week’s approval means the corridor commission can move ahead with the plan that envisions preserving significant sites and putting up signs to direct visitors.

For more on the Gullah Geechee Corridor Commission:

The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor (the Corridor or Corridor) was designated by an act of Congress on October 12, 2006 (Public Law 109-338).It was authorized as part of the National Heritage Areas Act of 2006. As a national heritage area, the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is not part of the national park system; however, the act authorizes the secretary of the interior to provide technical and financial assistance for the development and implementation of the management plan.

The Corridor was created to:

  • Recognize the important contributions made to American culture and history African Americans known as Gullah Geechee who settled in the coastal counties of South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida;
  • Assist state and local governments and public and pri­vate entities in South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida in interpreting the story of the Gullah Geechee and preserving Gullah Geechee folklore, arts, crafts, and music.
  • Assist in identifying and preserving sites, historical data, artifacts, and objects associated with GullahGeechee for the benefit and education of the public.

The passing of this act hopefully will be beneficial to the people of the islands…as you can see in the next couple of links, the community in Georgia is “dwindling.”

Georgia’s dwindling Geechee community Pictures :

Roughly 47 residents, most of them descendants of West African slaves known as Geechee, remain on Sapelo Island, the coastal Georgia island where their ancestors were brought to work a plantation in the early 1800s.

Isolated over time to the Southeast’s barrier islands, the Geechee of Georgia and Florida, otherwise known as Gullah in the Carolinas, have retained their African traditions more than other African-American communities in the U.S. Once freed, the slaves were able to acquire land and created settlements on the island, of which only the tiny 464-acre Hog Hammock community still exists.

Residents say a sudden tax hike, lack of jobs, and development is endangering one of the last remaining Geechee communities from Florida to North Carolina.

There are some real interesting pictures at that link. I really like some of the portraits of the old people…especially this one:

Georgia's dwindling Geechee community Eddie Wilson, 65, puts on his glasses while riding the ferry from the mainland to attend a church service for the 129th anniversary of St. Luke Baptist Church on Sapelo Island, June 9, 2013.

Georgia’s dwindling Geechee community
Eddie Wilson, 65, puts on his glasses while riding the ferry from the mainland to attend a church service for the 129th anniversary of St. Luke Baptist Church on Sapelo Island, June 9, 2013.

There is another article here, with some of the same images, only the captions are a bit different. They give a bit more info… Descendants of West African slaves work to keep island community

The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor—Places Reflecting America’s Diverse Cultures Explore their Stories in the National Park System: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary

“The Old Plantation” was painted c. 1790 by slave-holder, John Rose.It depicts South Carolina slaves dancing near their quarters with traditional West African headwear and instruments

“The Old Plantation” was painted c. 1790 by slave-holder, John Rose. It depicts South Carolina slaves dancing near their quarters with traditional West African headwear and instruments
Public Domain

The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor extends from Wilmington, North Carolina in the north to Jacksonville, Florida, in the south. The National Heritage Area includes roughly 80 barrier islands and continues inland to adjacent coastal counties, defining a region 30 miles inland throughout the United States Low Country. The Gullah/Geechee Heritage Corridor is home to the Gullah people in the Carolinas, and the Geechee in Georgia and Florida – cultural groups descended from enslaved peoples from West and Central Africa. The Gullah and Geechee share similar linguistic, artistic and societal traits that have remained relatively intact for several centuries due to the geographic isolation of the region. The cultures represent the many ways that Africans in the Americas maintained their homeland roots while simultaneously assimilating aspects of new cultures they encountered during and after enslavement.

The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is managed by a federal commission made up of local representatives who collaborate with the National Park Service, Community Partners, grass root organizations and the State historic preservation offices of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Through research, education and interpretation, the corridor aims to preserve and raise awareness regarding the Gullah/Geechee, among America’s least-known and most unique cultures. Visitors to the southeastern coast of the country have the chance to experience Gullah/Geechee heritage through historic sites, local tours, traditional foods, cultural events, and art galleries.

More information at that site too.

That is what I would have put in the post this morning, yeah…this is an open thread.


Evening News: Rachel, Leticia, Wendy and Raccoon Dogs from Super Mario Bros.

6a00d83451ccbc69e2011168ccb7a4970c-400wiGood Evening…

Let’s start tonight’s round-up with a look at today’s courtroom appearance of Rachel Jeantel. She is the friend of Trayvon Martin, the one who was on the phone with him the night he was murdered by George Zimmerman. The smearing of Rachel Jeantel – Salon.com

Rachel Jeantel is a 19-year-old Florida woman. On Facebook and Twitter, she’s been known to post photos of her nails and talk about drinking. She is also the last person to have spoken with Trayvon Martin before George Zimmerman shot him to death last year, the woman who was on the phone with him when his fateful encounter unfolded. She is known in the justice system as Witness #8 in Zimmerman’s trial. She is, in fact, the prosecution’s key witness. But you’d be forgiven if you’d gotten the impression recently that she was sitting up there to defend herself.The smearing of Rachel Jeantel
Rachel Jeantel, the witness that was on the phone with Trayvon Martin just before he died, gives her testimony to the prosecution during George Zimmerman’s trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla. Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.(AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Jacob Langston, Pool) (Credit: AP)

Jeantel does not fit the comfortable image of the grieving girl. As Rachel Samara wrote Wednesday in Global Grind, “A predominantly white jury is not going to like Rachel Jeantel,” a girl “who has no media training and who is fully entrenched in a hostile environment.” There is confusion over whether or not she was Martin’s girlfriend, which eradicates her chances of being depicted as a devastated young quasi-widow. On the stand, she has been blunt, hostile and at times seemingly confused. Online, she has a documented history that includes partying. She is not thin or blond or demure. So there goes her credibility.

You can read more of this good review of the way things have been going with the testimony and questioning of Rachel. If you want to see some of the video from the past two days you can catch some of the highlights here:  Rachel Jeantel | Mediaite

Now on to Leticia: Shakesville: ♥ Senator Leticia Van de Putte ♥

At the end of Texas Senator Wendy Davis’ epic filibuster Tuesday night, after it had been ended by her mendacious Republican colleagues, right before midnight, Senator Leticia Van de Putte took the mic. And then this happened:

Cygnus…there is the video you were looking for! Here is what Leticia had to say:

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, a middle-aged Latina woman, holds a mic and says: “Mr. President, a parliamentary inquiry.” Offscreen, the president of the state senate, a white man, says, “State your inquiry.” Van de Putte asks, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?” Cheers and applause. The video ends after a few moments, but the cheering and applause continued for ages.

Okay, back to the Shakesville post:

Yesterday, she penned a piece for the Houston Chronicle titled “Why I stood with Wendy: Texas women must be heard.” [NB: Not only women need access to a full spectrum of reproductive choice.] You should definitely read the whole thing, because it is very good! I especially loved this:

Unfortunately, some of my Senate colleagues do not believe in trusting women with their reproductive organs. It’s amazing to me that they do not trust women with a choice, but they trust them with a child.

BOOM.

If you would like to send her a thank-you for also standing up for women and other people with uteri in Texas and throughout the country, you can send a note to her here.

Alright, lastly…Wendy Davis kicked some ass a couple of days ago…today Rick Perry said a few things that makes me want to go kick his ass. Here is what Digby said about it: “The louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done.”

What a piece of garbage:

TEXAS GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: “In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of as single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate. It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.”

It really takes some brass for this privileged jackass to not only tell women what they can do with their own bodies but also lecture them on the lessons they should take from their own life experience. We’re not even allowed to have that, I guess.

But that’s not even the worst of it:

During his remarks, the Texas governor also described Davis’ filibuster as “hijacking of the Democratic process” and said of the pro-choice movement, “the louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done.”

She then goes on to mention the shit going on in Ohio…and she says:

The right to abortion has been acknowledged for 40 years now. That they are still pulling this crap a full generation later proves that no matter how much you think your rights are secured, these people will be trying to roll them back. After all, just this week the US Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act at a time of systematic vote suppression.

It’s good to celebrate our progress. But nobody should be complacent.

That is something we have been saying here for a long, long time.

I want to end with this link about a primitive dog, that looks like a Raccoon…Raccoon Dogs Invading Europe

Tanuki

They can’t fly or turn into statues, but the creatures that inspired the magic suit that turned Mario into a killer raccoon from Japanese mythology are real, and they don’t need magic powers to invade Europe. Raccoon dogs — which despite their raccoon-like aesthetic are primitive canines and not related to the raccoon — are becoming more widespread throughout  Europe. Then again, it’s kind of hard to have a problem with an invasion by a creature this charming.

Native to Korea and Japan, raccoon dogs may be most familiar to many readers as the inspiration for the mythological tanuki, the magical raccoon made famous in Super Marios Bros.3 where the accepted spelling is apparently Tanooki? Okay, sure. Of course, raccoon dogs don’t have the powers ascribed to them by the game, nor do they boast the grotesquely over-sized testicles they were famed for in Japanese mythology, a facet of tanuki lore that was inexplicably scrubbed from the video game version.

What the furry, face-masked creatures do have is a great deal of adaptability. Their ability to live in a wide variety of environments — from forests to meadows to urban areas — has helped the raccoon dog population boom since they were introduced to Europe in the early 20th century. Initially brought to Europe by Russians who enjoyed hunting the creatures, raccoon dogs weren’t content to loaf there, and over the course of decades, they’ve expanded their range to include large swaths of Central Europe and even Scandinavian countries like Finland.

Isn’t that something? They look like raccoons, or even like that red panda that escaped from the National Zoo last week.

A new paper released this month in the Journal of Zoology traces the evolution of the raccoon dog from its roots in Asia, though, and suggests that we may have seen nothing yet as far as the tanukis spread. The paper suggests that populations of the animals dwindled sharply, only to explode when the ice sheets retreated at the end of the last ice age. Considering we’re not due for any more ice ages in the near future, and things are actively heating up in many parts of the world, we may have only seen the beginning of the raccoon dogs intercontinental adventure. There are worse fates, though — as far as invasive species go, we’ll always take ones you can cuddle with over ones you can’t. Looking at you, Asian carp. You know what you did.

Y’all have a great night.

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