Sunday Reads: Spring Ahead already?

b55b3da77169bac66e68b8fa992cc7e3Good Morning

Did you set your clocks ahead?

Oh, this time change always gets me. In fact, my head is killing me…so this is going to be a strictly link dump post.

Set clocks ahead for daylight saving time

Spring must be around the corner. It’s time to set the clocks forward for daylight saving time.

At 2 a.m. local time Sunday, daylight saving time arrives with the promise of many months ahead with an extra hour of evening light.

You lose an hour of sleep, but make sure to turn the clock ahead — spring forward — before heading to bed Saturday night to avoid the panic of a late rise.

It’s also a good time to put new batteries in warning devices such as smoke detectors and hazard warning radios.

Isn’t this whole clock thing happening earlier than usual?

Moving on, Harriet Tubman park to be on Maryland land she worked as a slave | Reuters

Abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s struggle to help roughly 70 slaves escape to freedom using the Underground Railroad was remembered on Saturday at the groundbreaking of a Maryland state park in her honor.

An escaped slave herself, Tubman toiled in bondage on the land that will soon be the 17-acre Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park on the eastern shore of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.

Construction of the park on open marshland and forests in Dorchester County marks the 100-year anniversary of the abolitionist leader’s death.

It also coincides with the opening of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a 125-mile drive with more than 30 historical stops related to Tubman’s early life and the Underground Railroad. Highlights include the Mason-Dixon Line, a one-room school, a historic village store with artifacts from the 1800s and, eventually, the new Harriet Tubman park itself.

“I think the byway is awesome, because we’re connecting the dots again. We’re telling the complete story,” said Patricia Ross-Hawkins, 51, a distant relative of Tubman who spoke to the crowd of more than 200 people at Saturday’s celebration. The morning’s events included singing by a local Baptist church choir, a theatrical speech by a Harriet Tubman re-enactor and remarks from Govenor Martin O’Malley.

“It’s been a long time coming but it’s here,” she said.

This next link is something I found earlier in the week.  Did the Man who Tried to buy our Presidential Election Get rich by Bribing Communist China? (Engelberg) | Informed Comment

Stephen Engelberg writes at ProPublica

Last week’s admission by Sheldon Adelson’s casino company that it had “likely” violated provisions of the federal law barring U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials raises some intriguing questions. Chief among them: Which transactions by Las Vegas Sands and its far-flung subsidiaries are at issue?

Adelson, one of the world’s richest men, came to public prominence during the 2012 campaign, when he and his wife Miriam donated at least $98 million to various candidates and groups. Included was $30 million for the Restore Our Future super PAC that supported Mitt Romney and $20 million to Winning Our Future, a super PAC that backed Newt Gingrich. Late in the campaign, Adelson asserted that federal investigators had targeted his company because of his political activity.

I don’t know about you all, but I sure miss seeing Hillary’s name in the news.

Hillary Clinton Ate Hot Chili Peppers To Keep Her Going

Exactly how did the most traveled Secretary of State in history, Hillary Rodham Clinton, keep up with her strenuous schedule? According to biographer Kim Ghattas, it was hot chili peppers.

In an interview posted on Thursday, Ghattas discussed her upcoming book, “The Secretary,” with Politico, citing how Clinton “eats those hot chilis that make you sweat.”

“It wakes you up,” Ghattas said. “It flushes your system, maybe from whatever viruses are there.”

Clinton has been a hot pepper popper for years, starting back in 1992. She often talked up her heat habit in her 2008 presidential campaign.

Comets and asteroids have been in the news a lot lately…

Comet Pan-STARRS: Bright comet will be visible starting around March 8.

Comet Pan-STARRS, photographed by Phil Hart

Comet Pan-STARRS on Mar. 3, 2013, from Victoria, Australia. This shot, by Phil Hart, is one of the best pictures I’ve seen of it.
Image credit: Phil Hart

Northern Hemisphereans, alert! The kinda-sorta-maybe bright comet Pan-STARRS will soon be visible low in the west after sunset. The best dates to look will be Mar. 12 and 13, when the very thin crescent Moon will guide you. You’ll need binoculars to pick it out of the twilight sky, but comets this bright are rare, and you should give it a shot.

Icy Ball

Comet C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) was discovered in June 2011 by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (hence the odd name). At discovery it was incredibly faint, just 19th magnitude—the faintest star you can see with your eye is still 150,000 times brighter than the comet was at the time!

Animation showing the discovery images of the comet.

Animation showing the discovery
images of the comet taken by the
Pan-STARRS observatory.
Click to encomanate.
Image credit: Henry Hsieh, PS1SC

The comet is non-periodic, a fancy way of saying this is the first time it’s dropped into the inner solar system. There is a reservoir of trillions of such iceballs far, far past Neptune, called the Oort cloud (named after Jan Oort, the Dutch astronomer who was one of the first to predict its existence). Pan-STARRS has been falling from this distant region for a long, long time, perhaps millions of years, and is now approaching the Sun on its incredibly outstretched orbit.

It reaches perihelion (the closest point in its orbit to the Sun) on Mar. 10, and then begins the long climb back out again. It has brightened considerably over the past couple of years as it’s neared both the Sun and Earth, and by Mar. 12 should be at least as bright as 2nd magnitude, about as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper. It could get even brighter.

In other space news:  Slight Chance Comet Could Hit Mars in 2014, NASA Says |

Comet 2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will come within about 31,000 miles (50,000 kilometers) of Mars in October 2014, according to the latest estimate from the Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif.

The trajectory of 2013 A1 (Siding Spring) is still not known well enough to rule out a dramatic comet collision with Mars, though that could change.

“At present, Mars lies within the range of possible paths for the comet and the possibility of an impact cannot be excluded,” JPL officials wrote in an update today (March 5). “However, since the impact probability is currently less than one in 600, future observations are expected to provide data that will completely rule out a Mars impact.”

And I will end this post with a little history lesson…

From Islam to Christianity: the Case of Sicily

Introduction: The history of high medieval Sicily bears all the hallmarks of a regional crossroads which, between the 9th and 11th centuries, exchanged hands between three major civilizations. The island’s political upheavals, military confrontations, social change and cultural transformations read like an index page to central Mediterranean history. The fall of Muslim Palermo to the Norman conquerors in 1072 was a landmark in the high medieval wave of Latin Christian expansion across the Mediterranean world. The defeat of the island’s Muslim rulers was completed within twenty years of the fall of the capital city, but the last Muslims of Sicily left the island one hundred and eighty years later, towards the end of Frederick II’s reign. Beyond the formal political chronology, three, more or less equal, yet distinct epochs, mark the transition from Muslim to Latin Christian Sicily: 1072 to 1130, during which period the Norman conquest of the island, launched in 1060, became first a feasible reality, then a political fact consolidated with the establishment of the Regno; 1130 to 1190, when the relationship between the island’s Christian rulers and inhabitants and the subject Muslim populations was gradually entrenched in terms of feudal bondage; and 1190 to 1250, which was marked by Muslim armed resistance, the setting up of a rebel polity under the last Muslim leader of Sicily, and Frederick II’s ‘extermination’ of Islam.

You can click here to read this article from Cliohres.

SDB Evening News Reads for 070111: Make an offer he can’t refuse…ahh, go to hell.

It’s Friday! Yeah! (Trying to be enthusiastic here…) Many have a long weekend to look forward to, so enjoy all your July 4th  activities.  Here are some links to get your weekend started.

In Sicily, it looks like the police have made the big boss an offer he can’t refuse.  Italian police arrest Corleone mafia boss – FRANCE 24

Policemen stand guard outside a house in Sicily. Italian police on Friday announced the arrest of the 79-year-old mafia boss of Corleone — the Sicilian hilltop town made famous by “The Godfather” trilogy — following a three-year investigation.

Italian police on Friday announced the arrest of the 79-year-old mafia boss of Corleone — the Sicilian hilltop town made famous by “The Godfather” trilogy — following a three-year investigation.

Gaetano Riina is the brother of former Cosa Nostra kingpin Toto Riina, who is serving multiple life sentences for sanctioning scores of killings.

If anyone is interested in a good book about Sicily and la Cosa Nostra that really is a fun read, check out this book by Peter Robb: Midnight in Sicily: On Art, Food, History, Travel and la Cosa Nostra (9780312426842): Peter Robb: Books

In fact, it would make a great summer book because it is not long and drawn out and is written very well.

This next link just made me laugh like hell…because God’s Answer to Rick Perry’s Prayers for Rain: Go to Hell | Firedoglake

On April 21, The Secessionist, who last year sued the EPA so Texas could dump even more carbon into the atmosphere (which totally doesn’t cause global warming), used his elected office to ask the Ancient Mayans people of his state to pray that God might end our worst drought in over 100 years.

Want to get a better visualization of this F you to Rick Perry?  Check out the images below. The first one is the drought conditions in Texas the week Perry asked his state to pray for rain.  The second image is drought conditions in Texas this past week.  Yup that red you see is the flames of hell licking the heels of Rick Perry’s loafers.

Ugh, nuff said.

Just an update on the Special Election To Replace Weiner Set For Sept. 13 – Hotline On Call

The special election to replace former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., will be held on September 13, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., announced Friday.


Under state law, there won’t be a primary to pick the Democratic and Republican nominees. Instead, local party leaders will each vote on their choice to be on the ballot. The special congressional election will also occur the same day another in Nevada’s 2nd District.

Several Democratic names have been mentioned as possible successors, although neighboring Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., who also serves as the Queens party chair, is widely seen as the kingmaker in the process. Potential candidates include former City Councilmembers Eric Gioia and Melinda Katz, City CouncimembersElizabeth Crowley and Mark Weprin, Assemblymen Rory Lancman and David Weprin, state Sen. Jose Peralta and former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman.

On the GOP side, New York City Councilman Eric Ulrich and 2010 nominee Bob Turner have both met with the National Republican Congressional Committee to discuss campaigns.

This next link is is to an article written by Jeff Kaye over at FDL.  I will quote the first paragraph of this indept post, and highly recommend that you go directly to the link and read the whole thing.  There are even list of accepted torture techniques, so just go and take time to check it out.

Could Durham’s CIA “Investigation” Lead to Understanding Migration of Torture Techniques? | MyFDL

With the news that John Durham has decided to finally open criminal, and not just “preliminary,” investigations into the deaths of two prisoners held by the CIA (apparently Manadel al-Jamadi and Gul Rahman) the CIA can now “exhale,” as Spencer Ackerman describes it. The CIA’s sigh of release is related to the fact that of at least 101 cases of CIA abuse only two might be prosecuted.

Only a couple more articles to bring you, and fortunately these are reporting some good news on the front lines of the war against women being waged in this country.

Medical News: Medicare to Keep Paying for Avastin – in Oncology/Hematology, Breast Cancer from MedPage Today

Medicare will continue to pay for bevacizumab (Avastin) when it’s used to treat metastatic breast cancer, even if the FDA decides to remove that indication from the drug, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said.

After an FDA panel voted unanimously on Wednesday that bevacizumab’s breast cancer indication should be removed, patients who seem to be responding well to the drug were fearful that their insurance would no longer cover the $8,000-a month medication.

“If FDA removes the breast cancer indication for this drug, my insurance likely wouldn’t cover it and I can’t afford to pay,” said Crystal Hanna, a woman with breast cancer who has been taking bevacizumab in combination with standard chemotherapy and has had no sign of cancer for one year.

But Don McLeod, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said Medicare, at least, won’t stop paying for the drug.

“We will NOT stop covering it just because of an FDA label change,” he told MedPage Today.

You hear that? It is a sigh of relief from my little home in Banjoland…for now at least, there is some hope that Medicaid patients suffering from Breast Cancer will still be able to attain the medicine they need to add some months to their lives.

In South Dakota we have some more good news:  Judge Blocks South Dakota Abortion Law, Says It “Degrades” Women

Here’s a rare spot of good news in the state-by-state abortion battle: A U.S. district court judge has temporarily blocked South Dakota’s new abortion law, which would have gone into effect today with a 72-hour waiting period and a forced visit to a crisis pregnancy center.

Finally, a Judge with balls to stand up to the extreme anti-women legislation that was passed in South Dakota.  By the way, this “Judge with balls” is a woman!

Chief Judge Karen Schreier (a Clinton appointee) agreed with Planned Parenthood and the ACLU that the law put an undue burden on women seeking abortions, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and found that the law violated women’s free speech rights by forcing them to discuss their decision with a non-medical third party — and a religious one at that.

The law would have also required physicians to discuss “complications associated with abortion,” which the judge said was based on discredited information, and to ensure that the woman had not been coerced, which the judge said was unconstitutionally vague.

Whereas South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard had said paternalistically of the law he signed, “I hope that women who are considering an abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices,” Schreier’s decision was marked by feminist language:

“Forcing a woman to divulge to a stranger at a pregnancy help center the fact that she has chosen to undergo an abortion humiliates and degrades her as a human being. The woman will feel degraded by the compulsive nature of the Pregnancy Help Center requirements, which suggest that she has made the ‘wrong’ decision, has not really ‘thought’ about her decision to undergo an abortion, or is ‘not intelligent enough’ to make the decision with the advice of a physician. Furthermore, these women are forced into a hostile environment.”

Judge Schreier even referenced “reproductive coercion” as another reason the law is placing undue burden on women, because the woman seeking an abortion would have to conceal two doctor/office visits from an abusive partner.

I could bring more articles to your attention regarding reproductive rights and the Orwellian tactics the extremist religious right Christian Taliban are using against women…but I wanted to end this post in an upbeat nature.

Hope everyone has a safe and fun Fourth of July! Catch ya later in the comments.