Wednesday Evening Round-up: What a difference a bandana makes…

Good Evening!

Still in limbo about my husband’s promotion…at least the migraine is gone…but today I got a little something in the mail, and it made me feel very bright and colorful.  I used to wear these bandanas all the time when my hair was falling out because of all the health problems I had experience. (For a couple of years it was shaved like a crew cut…and the bandanas became a sort of signature for me.)

Anyway, it just is nice to be able to slap a piece of cloth on your head and make a change…of changing my mood…I guess that is about all I can do at this point…adjust my mood and my attitude. I don’t know, maybe it had more to do with the loving kindness my brother Denny showed me today.  He saw me bringing down another basket of dirty clothes from upstairs and said to me “I can take those down to the basement.” Denny is overweight too and more prone to falling than I am, I told him no thanks I can do it, and he said…”I don’t want you break your neck.” Of course, with his Downs, it is sometimes hard to understand what he says…but it was clear to me that he would have rather his own neck get broke…yes, like my mother observed, he does love me, like I love him…even though we fight and argue with each other. Just wanted to share that bit of tenderness and caring…we need more of that in this world.

Well, here is what’s going on in the world today.

I want to start with Syria, and this link from Amnesty International.  Particularly pay attention to the item the tank is about to run over…in the picture below:

Syria: Death toll rises as bombardment of civilian areas escalates in Homs | Amnesty International

The Syrian security forces’ assault on Homs has grown increasingly deadly.

© AFP/Getty Images

At least 377 civilians have been killed in Homs in recent days as Syrian security forces escalated their shelling of civilian neighbourhoods in the besieged city, according to information received by Amnesty International.

On Wednesday, reports also emerged of a military build-up in the city of Hama, 50 km to the north.

The latest surge in casualties chimes with remarks by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that the international community’s failure to act had “emboldened” the Syrian military assault.

“The international community must not stand idly by while Homs and other Syrian cities come under fire and civilians are dying in droves,” said Ann Harrison, interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

“As the debate over how the UN should react to Syria’s brutal crackdown has moved from the Security Council – where Russia and China continue to shield the Syrian government – to the General Assembly, the security forces have only stepped up their attacks.”

Yes, that is a child’s soccer ball…and just a bit further to the right you can see another child’s basketball. The power and ruthlessness of Assad’s regime is literally squashing the young people’s hopes for Syria’s future.

I have some more links for you on Syria below:

Assad offer of Syrian multi-party elections branded laughable by US | World news | The Guardian

Syria troops hit Hama; Homs oil line attacked – CBS News

The UN is having another vote tomorrow…UN General Assembly schedules on Syria – CBS News

The U.N. General Assembly scheduled a Thursday vote on an Arab-sponsored resolution strongly condemning human rights violations by the Syrian regime and backing an Arab League plan aimed at ending the 11-month conflict.

Assembly spokeswoman Nihal Saad said Wednesday that the vote will take place Thursday afternoon. There are no vetoes in the 193-member world body and U.N. diplomats said the resolution, which already has 60 co-sponsors, is virtually certain to be approved.

While General Assembly resolutions are nonbinding, they do reflect world opinion on major issues and supporters are hoping for a high “yes” vote to deliver a strong message to President Bashar Assad’s regime.

The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions have been private, said Arab countries on Tuesday rejected amendments to the nonbinding resolution proposed by Russia, which has been one of Syria’s strongest backers.

The amendments, obtained by The Associated Press, are similar to the last-minute amendments Moscow proposed to a Security Council resolution aimed at stopping the brutal crackdown in Syria. When the resolution’s sponsors rejected those amendments, Russia and China vetoed the resolution on Feb. 4.

The amendments Russia has stipulated are as follows:

One called on “all sections of the Syrian opposition to dissociate themselves from armed groups engaged in acts of violence” and urged countries with influence to prevent continued violence by such groups. The other demanded that the withdrawal of all Syrian armed forces from cities and towns — which is called for in the Arab League plan — take place “in conjunction with the end of attacks by armed groups against state institutions and quarters of cities and towns.”

Sticking with world news a bit more, I finished reading the book Banality of Evil, by Hannah Arendt. So naturally this article from the Guardian popped out at me. Adolf Eichmann’s capture, as told by the Mossad, in Israel exhibition | World news | The Guardian

Exhibition in Tel Aviv on capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann

A German-made Leica camera, a briefcase with a small hole in it and a strip of film at an exhibition on the capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann in the Beit Hafutsot Museum in Tel Aviv. Photograph: Jim Hollander/EPA

There is the comb, the cigarette holder and the house keys he had on him when he was captured; the needle used to sedate him during his abduction from Argentina to Israel; and the booth in which he sat during his trial.

Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, has lifted a veil of secrecy to display publicly for the first time documents, equipment, artefacts and personal testimonies relating to the capture, abduction and trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi war criminal who was hanged in Israel almost 50 years ago.

Operation Finale, an exhibition at the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, is curated by a serving Mossad officer, who can only be named as Avner A. Ninety per cent of the material on display comes from the Mossad archives, the first time in the agency’s history that it has opened its vaults.

A little background…

Eichmann was in charge of implementing Hitler’s Final Solution for the Jewish people, in which six million people died. After the war he was captured by Allied forces but escaped and fled to Argentina. There, a Holocaust survivor whose daughter was dating Eichmann’s son became suspicious about the identity of the boy’s father, and Israeli intelligence was alerted.

A complicated operation, involving about a dozen agents, most now dead, was prepared and executed in May 1960. Eichmann, who was living in Buenos Aires under the alias Ricardo Klement, was surreptitiously photographed and the images compared to those from his SS file. From the shape of his ears it was concluded that Eichmann and Klement were the same person.

The curator says he is still getting bits and pieces of the story from those who come to see the exhibit:

The exhibition has had an unbelievable response since opening last week, Armoni said. After it ends in April, the organisers hope to take it abroad.

Avner A, the curator with 25 years service as a Mossad agent, says the story is still incomplete. “Every day I find something new, often from small stories of people coming to see the exhibition,” he said. “My role is to find all these small pieces and put them together. I am still investigating. We still don’t have the whole story. But this is as close as we can get.”

This is one exhibit I would love to see.

Now for a story out of North Carolina: Deported Dad Begs North Carolina To Give Him Back His Children – COLORLINES

Every morning since the first of his three boys was born in 2007, Felipe Montes would wake early and prepare breakfast for his wife and children, get his boys ready for their day, change them, feed them and when he could not arrange a ride with another family member, drive them to daycare. Then he’d go to work at a landscaping company for the next 9 hours and return home in time to cook his children dinner. “I love my kids to death,” Montes said recently. “When they were born, it’s something so wonderful you can’t explain.” Now, Montes may never see them again.

In late 2010, Montes was deported to Mexico after nine years in the United States—cuffed and loaded into a van by federal immigration officials who drove him from his hometown of Sparta in the rural North Carolina mountains to an immigration detention center.

Read the rest of the story at the link, it tells of Montes wife…

…fell on hard times. She was pregnant with their third child and was surviving on disability payments that she received each month due to illness. Without Felipe’s income and support she could not keep her family afloat. Less than two months after their baby was born, just two weeks after Felipe was loaded onto a plane and deported to Mexico, the Allegheny County child welfare department took the children from Marie and put them in foster care.

It is so sad to read stories like this. Maybe Atrios has a point here: Eschaton: Other People Need To Suffer

Repeating myself for the millionth time here, but I really wasn’t being hyperbolic when I wrote that the people who run the world are sadists. They apparently truly believe that only through the mass suffering of people other than themselves can paradise be achieved. Then the question becomes, of course, whose paradise?

I have a few more articles about the GOP’s hand in dealing out the “suffering” to share with you. (I won’t quote some of the articles,  but you can read them if you have the time.)

Does the GOP care about Latino voters? – Dana Milbank -The Washington Post

Santorum: Birth control ‘harmful to women’ – Right Turn – The Washington Post

Why birth control is a good wedge issue against the GOP – The Plum Line – The Washington Post

Glenn Beck Launches ‘We Are All Catholics Now’ Movement | Mediaite

Little Green Footballs – The Republican Party’s Deranged War on Women’s Rights

Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins on Birth Control – Ladies Of Maine, We Adore You – Esquire

Well, here’s something of a shock. Those noted pillars of Jell-O, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, the two women who always hold the key to the golden stables wherein are kept the snow-white unicorns of bipartisanship, are getting all Serious And Thoughtful again about the accommodation that the president has proposed between the legitimate funding of women’s health-care and the obsessive fantasies about ladies and their ladyparts that plague various clerical busybodies and their public enablers. I am paraphrasing there a bit…

[…]

Both Snowe and Collins are co-sponsors of the bill proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Phenom) that would allow any employer to deny contraceptive coverage if he were too cheap to provide it… er… had religious objections to it.

[…]

Who will be the first mainstream pundit to use their wavering to demonstrate that the president’s accommodation is “losing bipartisan support” because of the “ongoing controversy” ginned up by a group of people whose moral outrage should be roundly ignored until a few more of them are in the hoosegow? (My money’s on E. J. Dionne.) Said it before, will say it again: This doesn’t become a winning issue for the president unless he goes out and sells it, hard.

Here is some more on the Health Care Reform Act, from Maddow. We all know the GOP is against the Health Care Reform Act, and yes…it isn’t what we wanted, with the no single payor thing…and had Obama not followed the big Insurance companies wishes to the T when the bill was drafted, things sure as hell would have been better…however, there is some good that will come out of it.  The Maddow Blog – Who benefits from health care reform?

Kaiser Family Foundation

Just about every American stands to get new benefits from the Affordable Care Act, if and when it’s fully implemented. Even those who like their current coverage will get some additional piece of mind from consumer safeguards.

[…]

As Sarah Kliff explained, the above image breaks down the nation by zip code, looking for households earning less than 400% of the federal poverty rate. “That’s an important number: Anyone earning below it will either qualify for subsidized health insurance, and anyone earning less than 133 percent of the poverty line becomes eligible for Medicaid.”

And yet another article on the latest GOP question for the masses: What Is Sex For?

What is the purpose of sex? Who should be able to have it, and at what cost?

Apparently, that was on many minds on Valentine’s Day. That’s when the Prospect‘s indefatigable Abby Rapoport told us that the Virginia House just voted to go full steam ahead on a personhood bill, which will define life as beginning from the very second that a sperm bashes its head into an ovum.

And don’t forget the latest from Christie…refusing to sign the marriage equality bill. And the opposition from the conservatives in the State of Washington…

What unites all these actions? The idea that we all should be punished someone for having sex for any purpose other than making babies. (See also: Catholic Bishops’ opposition to offering insurance—even to non-religious employees of its secular operations like hospitals and universities—that might cover contraception.)

Yesterday, too, Rick Santorum helpfully clarified that intellectual connection. (I know, you didn’t expect ever to see “Santorum” and “intellectual” in the same sentence.) Mr. Rick helpfully picked Valentine’s Day to tell us that, as president, he will use the bully pulpit to say that sex should be “special.”

Just a couple more links tonight. Female Passengers Say They Were Targeted for TSA Body Scanners | Threat Level | Wired.com

TSA agents in Dallas singled out female passengers to undergo screening in a body scanner, according to complaints filed by several women who said they felt the screeners intentionally targeted them to view their bodies.

One woman who flew out of Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport several months ago said a female agent sent her through a body scanner three times after the agent commented on her “cute” body.

“She says to me, ‘Do you play tennis?’ And I said, ‘Why?’‘You just have such a cute figure,’” Ellen Terrell recalled to CBS News in Dallas.

Terrell said the female agent appeared to be acting on a request from male agents who were in a separate room viewing the scans and who apparently asked the agent to send Terrell back through the scanner twice because the scan was blurry.

After the third scan, Terrell said the agent seemed frustrated with her co-workers in the screening room. “She’s talking into her microphone and she says, ‘Guys, it is not blurry, I’m letting her go,’” Terrell said.

Terrell, who was traveling with her husband at the time, told the TV station, “I feel like I was totally exposed. They wanted a nice good look.”

Ugh…from this kind of exposure to being subjected to a trans-vaginal sonograms, these people are interfering and taking way to much liberty from a woman’s personal space… It is sickening.

Lastly, an update on all the debris from Japan’s tsunami…it is heading to California, and what a mess it will be. 25 million tons of tsunami debris floating toward US shores | Fox News

Wrecked cars, portions of homes, boats, furniture and more — all swept up by the destructive, magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan 11 months ago — are on a slow-motion collision course with California.

But no one’s tracking the debris, Jim Churnside, a physicist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, told FoxNews.com.

“It would be really nice, but it’s really difficult,” Churnside expained.

The wreckage from the March 11, 2011, disaster could include virtually anything that floats, according to oceanographer and beachcomber Curtis Ebbesmeyer — and that includes portions of houses, boats, ships, furniture, cars and even human remains.

Independent models constructed by the NOAA and the University of Hawaii show a vast, loose debris field drifting inexorably toward Hawaii, California and Washington — the first fishing buoys reached the West Coast in mid December, Ebbesmeyer wrote in his “Beachcombers Alert” newsletter. The flotsam is expected to increase, with the bulk of the debris hitting some time in 2014.

“I would not be surprised to see some fishing vessels by April, and the main mass of debris start arriving a year from this March,” Ebbesmeyer told FoxNews.com.

There is a graphic that depicts the area of debris as it moves across the Pacific. It is huge…take a look.

That is all for now. We have a nice afternoon today in Banjoland, so I am going out to enjoy it. Catch y’all later tonight.


Who Could Have Predicted…. “Dr. Sex” Issues Non-Apology Apology

The sex toy in question ("the f@cksaw")

I knew this was coming. I posted a link to this story in a comment on the Thursday morning thread: “Northwestern University defends after-class live sex demonstration.”

More than 100 Northwestern University students watched as a naked 25-year-old woman was penetrated by a sex toy wielded by her fiancee during an after-class session of the school’s popular “Human Sexuality” class.

The woman said she showed up at the Feb. 21 lecture in the Ryan Family Auditorium in Evanston expecting just to answer questions, but was game to demonstrate. The course’s professor on Wednesday acknowledged some initial hesitation, but said student feedback was “uniformly positive.”

At first Northwestern stood behind their controversial professor, J. Michael Bailey AKA “Dr. Sex.”

“Northwestern University faculty members engage in teaching and research on a wide variety of topics, some of them controversial and at the leading edge of their respective disciplines,” said Alan K. Cubbage, vice president for University Relations. “The University supports the efforts of its faculty to further the advancement of knowledge.”

Faith Kroll

Uh huh. I wonder what knowledge was advanced by a woman (Faith Kroll, see photo) having an orgasm on a stage in front of 100 students? I’m no prude, but come on! Please someone explain how this “furthers the advancement of knowledge?” Was it the part where the woman who was stimulated on stage announced that she gets off on being watched while having sex?

Next, a woman took her clothes off, and—with an audience of around 100—lay down on her back, legs spread. As students moved forward from the theater’s back seats, for a closer view, “The girl grabbed the mic,” says Sean Lavery, a Northwestern freshman. “She explained that she had a fetish for being watched by large crowds while having an orgasm.”

Again, I’m no prude. This was an optional session, with a warning about a graphic demonstration. The students were presumably chronological adults. Frankly, I wouldn’t have stuck around to watch, but I probably wouldn’t have taken the class to begin with.

But if I had been there, it would have been very easy for me to foresee that this after class “demonstration” would lead to Trouble with a capital T. The trouble is those “adult” college students have parents who don’t see them as full adults yet, and universities are surrounded by communities of people who tend to get a bit worked up about the idea of professors organizing live sex shows for their students.

Guess what? After some reflection, the president of Northwestern is “troubled,” and has launched an “investigation.”

….after the incident received national attention, officials now say they are investigating. In a statement, the university president said the demonstration “represented extremely poor judgment on the part of our faculty member” and was not “appropriate, necessary, or in keeping with Northwestern University’s academic mission,” the Daily Northwestern reports.

Professor Bailey

No kidding. And today Dr. Sex has issued an apology.

“I apologize,” he writes. “As I have noted elsewhere, the demonstration was unplanned and occurred because I made a quick decision to allow it. I should not have done so.”

He said he was surprised by the public outcry over the after-class incident in the Ryan Family Auditorium, where a man used a high-powered sex toy on his girlfriend in front of 100 students.

“During a time of financial crisis, war, and global warming, this story has been a top news story for more than two days,” Bailey wrote in his statement. “That this is so reveals a stark difference of opinion between people like me, who see absolutely no harm in what happened, and those who believe that it was profoundly wrong.”

Obviously, this man has been in his ivory tower studying human sexual behavior for so long that he missed the fact that we live in a country where people search for titillating and even sordid distractions from the nightmare of our current political and fiscal situations. He must not be aware that Americans love “reality TV” almost as much as they love the “unreal” world of Fox News. The controversy Bailey set off fit right into that picture.

As part of his non-apology “apology,” Bailey said:

Bailey said that while he regretted allowing the Feb. 21 sex toy demonstration he also does not believe those who were offended made a good case for why the act should not have been allowed.

“Those who believe that there was, in fact, a serious problem have had considerable opportunity to explain why: in the numerous media stories on the controversy, or in their various correspondences with me,” the statement reads. “But they have failed to do so. Saying that the demonstration ‘crossed the line,’ went too far,’ ‘was inappropriate,’ or ‘was troubling’ convey disapproval but do not illuminate reasoning.”

He adds that if he was grading the arguments against allowing a man to use a custom high-powered sex toy to bring his naked girlfriend to orgasm before 100 students, “most would earn an ‘F.’”

Others can make the “right or wrong” argument. For me, the reason no professor should do some thing like this is because it’s just plain stupid and if the uproar gets too great, it could lead to the loss of tenure and dismissal.

Even if he keeps his job, Bailey has drawn a great deal of negative attention on the academic institution he works for and his human bosses, including the university president, the dean, and the department chairman. His actions could cost his university in terms of alumni support and contributions from large and small donors. It could even lead some parents to discourage their children from attending Northwestern.

And for what? What are the arguments in favor of doing the demonstration? How was the cause of science or knowledge advanced by what what Professor Bailey did? In my opinion, Professor Bailey’s decision was just plain stupid, childish, and egotistical.