Thursday Reads: Halloween History and A Little News

black-cat

Happy Halloween Everyone!!

Last year at this time, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, and this year a lesser but still “Monstrous Halloween storm” will “pelt the central US” from Texas up to the Midwest. My mom said authorities in Indiana have moved the official day for trick-or-treating to the weekend. Towns in Kentucky and Ohio are doing the same thing, according to USA Today.

Torrential rain, heavy thunderstorms and howling winds are forecast on Halloween all the way from Texas to the Midwest and interior sections of the Northeast, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Andy Mussoline.

Almost 42 million people could contend with severe thunderstorms Thursday, the Storm Prediction Center warns, with cities such as Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville and Houston all at risk.

“Damaging winds and some tornadoes will be possible with what should be a complex and potentially messy storm,” according to an online forecast from the prediction center.

“The best costume in Houston for Halloween probably involves a garbage bag to keep dry,” reports WeatherBell meteorologist Ryan Maue, who adds that it could be the wettest Halloween ever in some spots.

Read more at the link.

I have a few articles on the Halloween history and traditions for you. From National Geographic: Halloween 2013: Top Costumes, History, Myths, More.

Halloween’s origins date back more than 2,000 years. On what we consider November 1, Europe’s Celtic peoples celebrated their New Year’s Day, called Samhain (SAH-win).

On Samhain eve—what we know as Halloween—spirits were thought to walk the Earth as they traveled to the afterlife. Fairies, demons, and other creatures were also said to be abroad.

In addition to sacrificing animals to the gods and gathering around bonfires, Celts often wore costumes—probably animal skins—to confuse spirits, perhaps to avoid being possessed, according to the American Folklife Center at the U.S. Library of Congress.

By wearing masks or blackening their faces, Celts are also thought to have impersonated dead ancestors.

Young men may have dressed as women and vice versa, marking a temporary breakdown of normal social divisions.

In an early form of trick-or-treating, Celts costumed as spirits are believed to have gone from house to house engaging in silly acts in exchange for food and drink—a practice inspired perhaps by an earlier custom of leaving food and drink outdoors as offerings to supernatural beings.

Samhain was later co-opted by the Catholic Church when the Church moved “All Saints Day” from May to November 1. Scots-Irish immigrants brought Halloween customs with them to America in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Award-winning_jack_o'_lantern

The History Channel has a more detailed article on the history of Halloween:

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

On Halloween traditions in the US:

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats.

jack o lanterns1

In Europe jack-o-lanterns were made of turnips and other vegetables, since pumpkins were found only in the Americas. On the custom of “trick or treating” in the US:

The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

A few more interesting links to explore:

National Geographic: First Halloween Costumes: Skins, Skulls, and Skirts

The Boston Globe: Seven Books About the History of Halloween

Deseret News: Halloween trivia: From top costumes to carving turnips instead of pumpkins

Washington Post: It’s time to take the sexy out of Halloween and return the holiday to kids

Amanda Hess at Slate: It’s Irony, not sexy, that’s ruining Halloween

Amanda Marcotte at Raw Story: Obligatory Halloween Post On Skimpy Costumes

in other news2

In other news . . . 

In the wake of the Travon Martin killing, Sanford FL has banned neighborhood watch volunteers from carrying guns.

SANFORD — More than a year and a half after Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, the city of Sanford is making major changes to its neighborhood watch program, including banning volunteers from carrying guns while on patrol, and forbidding them from pursuing anyone in their neighborhoods.

Sanford’s new police chief, Cecil Smith, said the neighborhood watch program as it was operated while Zimmerman was part of it was dysfunctional and had no accountability.

“In this program, it is clearly stated that you will not pursue an individual,” Smith explained. “In this new program, it clearly indicates that you will not carry a firearm when performing your duties as a neighborhood watch captain or participant.”

Smith said when he took over as Sanford’s chief of police in April, the neighborhood watch program Zimmerman was part of was still operating the same way it was when he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin more than a year earlier.

Sounds like an excellent idea.

The NSA is “firing back” after an article in the Washington Post claimed that the spy agency “infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide.” From Politico:

The program, exposed through Edward Snowden’s leaks, relied on a broad, decades-old executive orderand allowed the NSA access to data-center connections in secret outside the United States, according to The Washington Post, which broke the story. Asked about the leak, Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA’s leader, said earlier Wednesday he was unaware of the Post’s report — adding the NSA is “not authorized” to access companies data centers and instead must “go through a court process” to obtain such content.

The NSA, meanwhile, emphasized it hadn’t tried to circumvent U.S. law under the executive order, known by its numerical designation, 12333. “The assertion that we collect vast quantities of U.S. persons’ data from this type of collection is also not true,” a spokeswoman said. But the NSA aide declined to discuss further whether the agency — perhaps under other authorities — had infiltrated data center connections at all.

Google and Yahoo both told the Post it hadn’t granted the NSA access to its data centers. Both companies did not immediately comment for this story.

Based on past history of Glenn Greenwald and other reporters neglecting to report that NSA surveillance requires individual warrants, I’m going to assume that this is another instance of this kind of melodramatic “reporting.” I guess it will all come out eventually, since Congress is now investigating and the drip drip drip of leaks continues.

Meanwhile, “progressives” who are panicking over NSA spying continue to ignore vitally important issues that affect millions of Americans–poverty and hunger for examples. From MSNBC: America’s new hunger crisis.

In the 22 years that Swami Durga Das has managed New York’s River Fund Food Pantry, he has never seen hunger like this. Each Saturday, hundreds of hungry people descend on the pantry’s headquarters, an unassuming house on a residential block. The first people arrive around 2 am, forming a line that will wrap around the block before Das even opens his doors.

“Each week there’s new people,” Das told MSNBC.com. “The numbers have just skyrocketed.”

The new clients are diverse—working people, seniors, single mothers—but many of them share something in common: they represent the millions of Americans who fell victim to food insecurity when the Great Recession hit in 2009, but didn’t benefit from the economic recovery.

And the worst may be yet to come.

Food activists expect a “Hunger Cliff” on November 1, when automatic cuts to food stamp benefits will send a deluge of new hungry people to places like the River Fund Food Pantry, which are already strained.

“I thought we were busy now; I don’t know what it will be like then, because all of those people getting cut will definitely be accessing a pantry,” said Das. “It definitely will be a catastrophe.”

Please go read the whole thing.

Finally, here’s an interesting article about Ted Cruz by David Denby of The New Yorker: THE MASK OF SINCERITY.

When Ted Cruz lies, he appears to be praying. His lips narrow, almost disappearing into his face, and his eyebrows shift abruptly, rising like a drawbridge on his forehead into matching acute angles. He attains an appearance of supplication, an earnest desire that men and women need to listen, as God surely listens. Cruz has large ears; a straight nose with a fleshy tip, which shines in camera lights when he talks to reporters; straight black hair slicked back from his forehead like flattened licorice; thin lips; a long jaw with another knob of flesh at the base, also shiny in the lights. If, as Orwell said, everyone has the face he deserves at fifty, Cruz, who is only forty-two, has got a serious head start. For months, I sensed vaguely that he reminded me of someone but I couldn’t place who it was. Revelation has arrived: Ted Cruz resembles the Bill Murray of a quarter-century ago, when he played fishy, mock-sincere fakers. No one looked more untrustworthy than Bill Murray. The difference between the two men is that the actor was a satirist.

Cruz is not as iconographically satisfying as other American demagogues—Oliver North, say, whose square-jawed, unblinking evocation of James Stewart, John Wayne, and other Hollywood actors conveyed resolution. Or Ronald Reagan—Cruz’s reedy, unresonant voice lacks the husky timbre of Reagan’s emotion-clouded instrument, with its mixture of truculence and maudlin appeal.

Yet Cruz is amazingly sure-footed verbally. When confronted with a hostile question, he has his answer prepared well before the questioner stops talking. There are no unguarded moments, no slips or inadvertent admissions. He speaks swiftly, in the tones of sweet, sincere reason. How could anyone possibly disagree with him? His father is a Baptist, and Cruz himself has an evangelical cast to his language, but he’s an evangelical without consciousness of his own sins or vulnerability. He is conscious only of other people’s sins, which are boundless, and a threat to the republic; and of other people’s vulnerabilities and wounds, which he salts. If they have a shortage of vulnerabilities, he might make some up.

Read the rest at the link.

Now it’s your turn. What stories are you focusing on today? And what are you doing to celebrate Halloween? Please let us know in the comment thread.


Sunday Reads: Getting ready for the next round…

8a4d3b7509d0276b145d15413c53a599Good Morning

Two more days until my daughter goes under the knife for the first time in her life and she is a nervous wreck. (Me too.) She has never even had stitches, so this little trip to the hospital on Tuesday will be one hell of an emotional ride for her. And to top it all off, her 15th birthday is on Wednesday…hopefully she will be in too heavy a drug induced haze to feel the pain. So please, all you Sky Dancers will send positive thoughts her way, she needs it!

Since there is so much going on right now, I will give you this mornings links in quick fashion and if any are repeats…oops! (Just have been so busy since we found out about her surgery, don’t know what has been said or linked on the blog.) 😉

I had no idea that John Kerry met with, Henry Kissinger. Geez…it is hard for me to even type the man’s name without thinking of his deep, deep voice and that accent, or as Betsy and Arlene called him in the 1999 movie Dick…”That German guy.” Here is what Amy Goodman had to say about it: John Kerry meets coup plotter Henry Kissinger on the 40th anniversary of Chile’s Sept. 11

While this was going on, Congress is still making with the War on Science continues: plan to create science laureate falters in Congress. They can’t even agree on naming a person as an honorary non-paid US Science Laureate, which is a position kind of like the US Poet Laureate…only this person will be involved in sciences. Of course this means “science” as only the way Gawwwd intended.

The Senate version of the bill was sponsored by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), and by Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) in the House. It had been sailing through Congress with bipartisan support. Wired Magazine speculated about potential nominees in the vein of Richard Feynman or Carl Sagan, such as Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Brian Greene, Jill Tarter, Mike Brown, or Sylvia Earle.

And then, the American Conservative Union discovered the plan when it hit the schedule for a floor vote, the magazine Science reported Thursday.

After Larry Hart, Director of the ACU, sent a letter to Congress saying in part that the president would be able to appoint scientists “who will share his view that science should serve political ends, on such issues as climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases,” House leadership pulled the bill from the schedule, returning it to Committee on Science, Space, and Technology where it will likely be killed in the Republican-controlled House.

You know…Mountain Dew is the best soda ever made.

Ah…rednecks. Speaking of which, this next article is pretty interesting: Ironically-Named City of Sistersville Still Bans Women from Voting

West Virginia (unfairly most of the time) seems to be the go-to backwoods state in America. Incest, murderous hillbillies, haunted coal-mining towns straddling the cave mouth to Hell, illiteracy, and prescription drug abuse are often mentioned in connection with West Virginia, as if the Appalachian squiggle-blob state (seriously, it’s like the cartographer coughed while drawing the borders) functioned as a repository for all of America’s nastiest secrets. You want to make a movie about a crew of British spelunkers who find themselves deep underground at the mercy of highly-evolved, carnivorous bat-people? Set it in West Virginia! You’re lost and hoping to stop at a gas station to ask for directions? Don’t stop in West Virginia! Every state has its stretches of desolate terror highway, so where does West Virginia’s bad rep come from?

It might have something to do with outdated town charters like the one belonging to a tiny city on the banks of the Ohio River called Sistersville, a place that sounds unfairly creepy, as if the twins from The Shining stood sentry-like next to the sign at the city limits, beckoning for creeped-out motorists to play with them. In fact, Sistersville, with a population just shy of 1,500, has a more unfortunate problem than ghosts wandering the city limits — its charter still bars women from voting. Yup, the ironic twist in Sistersville is that, according to the town charter, only the dudes can vote.

I know, right? WTF. The town could change the charter, allowing women the right to vote, but this cost money….Money the town just does not have.

The Nineteenth Amendment ensures that women can freely vote in Sistersville. In a way, ignoring the outdated charter — which must have all kinds of other anachronistic nonsense about not leaving your gaslamp on when the Wendigo comes around, or making sure to chase away French fur trappers if they wander too close to your property line — is itself a sign of progress; it’s so thoroughly taken for granted that women can vote that Sistersville charter issue has been reduced to a cost/benefits issue. Besides, according to Schleier, West Virginia is full of outdated town charters, like the charter in nearby Paden City that requires men have to do manual labor for the city two days out of every year for the discount rate of $1.05. Why focus on one outdated town charter, misogynistic as it may be, when there are plenty riddled with long-ignored pen strokes from a long time ago?

Then again, not changing the charter to show that women can vote would leave Sistersville’s female population particularly susceptible to the whims of a post-apocalyptic town despot who takes over when the United States federal government falls into ruin (one must always plan ahead). Plus, it must really suck to live, work, and pay property taxes in a city that doesn’t officially consider you a full-fledged citizen.

Honestly, I don’t think it will take an apocalyptic event for some dickhead to take over the city where women work, live and pay property taxes in and then declare its women are not full-fledged citizens. Fairfax, Virginia comes to mind…Remember this asshole and the mess regarding the abortion clinics facilities within the city limits? Virginia City Attempts to ‘Ordinance’ Out Safe Abortion

The Fairfax, Virginia, city council voted 4-2 Tuesday night to change the city zoning code in such a way that “medical care clinics” will be considered separate from doctors’ and dentists’ offices, a move that abortion rights advocates are concerned could make it more difficult for the city’s only abortion clinic to operate.

Under the new zoning rules, medical care clinics will require additional, expensive permits as well as approval from the zoning board to operate. The changes could make it much more difficult for Nova Women’s Healthcare in Fairfax to relocate, after the clinic’s previous landlord ended its lease early because of complaints that included the clinic “attract[ing] numerous protesters … whose presence and actions constitute an unreasonable annoyance.”

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, Fairfax Mayor Scott Silverthorne accused “outside groups” of trying to create a controversy over the zoning change. “I don’t appreciate some of the outside groups here tonight, such as NARAL [National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League of Virginia], parachuting into my community and spreading misinformation,” he said, according to Fairfax Patch. “This vote is not about abortion.”

Oh…Bullshit! (I think that is the same remark I made when I first wrote about the dickhead Silverthorne.)

What to read more ridiculous crap from the right?  Scott Lemieux over at LG&M has this post up and you must check out the links he is writing about…Innovations In Rape Apologia

Thers finds a classic of the genre from R. Stacy “Emmett Till had it coming” McCain:

Date rape is an apparently common campus crime that usually involves two drunk young people, one of whom has an erect penis, and the other of whom is unable to avert what the erect penis typically does.

Whether you’re trying to blame the rape victim or apologize for the rapist, positing a dick with a mind of its own is a useful device.

Here are the links:

Whiskey Fire: Strictly Comedy, Writes in regard to the R. Stacy McCain quote up top:

To the morally and intellectually sane, if a woman is “unable to avert an erect penis,” in plain English, she is being raped. That is rape. It is as blunt a definition of rape as one could imagine. Unwanted genital penetration occuring without consent? Rape!

The twerp downstairs solemnly informs us that R. Stacy McRape in this quote is a “MAN… SPEAKING HYPOTHETICALLY OR WITH A CERTAIN LEVEL OF IRONY.”

Which is crap.

And, Eschaton: Eschaton, Fair and Balanced, it is a long, long post so go read it in full, but here are a few bits:

Talk Left reminds us that PBS is broadcasting the Murder of Emmett Tilll.

There is some controversy about this case, however. Not everyone agrees with the standard view of this murder case. Here at Eschaton we always strive to present both sides of an issue. So, after visiting Talk Left to read about it, you can read the alternative interpretation by Moonie Times reporter/Assistant National Editor Robert Stacy McCain as posted to the Free Republic under his pseudonym BurkeCalhounDabney…

[…]

Was Till’s killing racially motivated? Certainly, at least in part — just as Till’s initial action toward Carolyn Bryant was racially motivated. Till thought he could impress his relatives and friends by defying the customs of rural Mississippi. He succeeded too well. Roy Bryant returned home to find that Till’s insulting behavior toward his wife was the talk of the community. Not merely was this a challenge to Bryant’s personal honor, but to the peculiar community standards of that place and time. Roy Bryant either had to do something about Till, or become a pariah and/or a laughingstock in his community.

Now, it is likely that no would wish to return to the community standards and customs that apertained in rural Mississippi in 1955, when the Bryant brothers could kill Emmett Till and be judged not guilty by a jury of their peers. But Emmett Till’s insult to Carolyn Bryant was a personal wrong, and the murder of Emmett Till was a very personal murder. He was not a martyr for “civil rights,” unless you consider it a civil right to insult women.

If you’re bored you can write Andrew Sullivan and noted civil rights expert Jonah Goldberg and ask them what they think of their co-worker.

UPDATE: Just wanted to add that all of Mr. McCain’s posts on the Free Republic were pulled hours after Mike Signorile’s article was published. So, you’ll have to take my word for it.

You go and read the full post.

Hey, check this out too: Medical Examiner In Martin Case Says It Was Lost Deliberately By Prosecution (VIDEO) –

The Martin prosecution was an example of what my lawyer friend calls “a piss-poor job” of presenting evidence to convict. It bothered him and the idea was floated that maybe the case was being thrown, lost on purpose.

Now it looks as though that may have been what happened. The Volusia County medical examiner on the case, Dr. Shiping Bao, is now saying that the prosecutors did lose the case on purpose. Bao claims that the prosecution team, the Sanford police and his superior at the medical examiner’s office were all biased against Trayvon Martin, with the general attitude that “he deserved it.”

Dr. Bao is the M.E. who, as assistant coroner of Volusia County, handled the teen’s body on the night he was shot. According to him, there was no way that Martin could have been on top of Zimmerman when the gun was fired. His autopsy report details why this scenario was impossible. When he was on the witness stand, during the trial on July 5, he testified that Martin took up to 10 minutes to die from exsanguination – he bled to death – and that the boy was in pain and suffering the entire time. He was prepared that day, as a witness for the prosecution, to prove that Martin could not have been the aggressor in the incident. He was ready to present scientific evidence of why this was so. But the prosecutor never asked and Dr. Bao was not able to give his evidence. His testimony could have decisively put the case away for the state.

Dr. Bao was, soon after the case ended, fired from the medical examiner’s office. He felt that he was terminated wrongfully because he knew the truth of the matter: that the prosecution intentionally lost the case. He has now filed a $100 million lawsuit against the state of Florida for wrongful termination. His attorney, Willie Gary, told reporters:

“He was in essence told to zip his lips. ‘Shut up. Don’t say those things.’ “

Of course, it is possible that Dr. Bao is lying. But that seems like a stupid thing to do if he is suing the state. With the recent revelations concerning Zimmerman’s attorneys not being paid and Zimmerman apparently unable to stop himself from falling back on his substitute penis gun when he’s feeling petulant, these allegations raise serious questions. Was a murderer intentionally set free to kill again? The Chief of Police in the town where Zimmerman currently dwells seems to think so. If this is true and Zimmerman does murder again, the state of Florida is in deep doo-doo, along with the county, police and attorney general’s office. If this is true – if the prosecution in the Martin case purposely lost the case – it opens up the possibility that this is not the first time. All other cases tried by the current attorney general of Florida and her team would be called into question. And the state could be held liable. All because a group of racist officials decided that a 17-year-old kid deserved to die. It’s mind-boggling.

Watch the video of the local Orlando news report at the link.

Update on the Vanderbilt football player accused of rape: Vanderbilt Player Involved in Rape Cover-Up Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanor

They are calling the flood in Colorado, a 1000 Year Flood, take a look at some pictures and video here: Photos and videos from dramatic flash floods in Colorado | Grist

Colorado floods: More than 500 still unaccounted for – CNN.com

At least four deaths have been blamed on the flooding, and a fifth person is presumed dead. More than 500 were “unaccounted for,” although authorities cautioned that designation included people who simply have not yet contacted concerned relatives elsewhere.

Hundreds unaccounted for in deadly Colo. floods

About 350 people are unaccounted for in Larimer County, according to the county’s sheriff’s office. In adjacent Boulder County, more than 170 people were unaccounted for but were not considered missing yet, though they had not contacted family members.

Areas from Denver to the Wyoming border remained under the threat of additional rain Sunday, with flash flood watches and warnings posted. Airlifts were set to continue with helicopter crews expanding their searches east to include Longmont, Fort Collins and Weld County.

I hope that anyone with family in the area of these floods has heard from their relatives…let us know that everyone is safe and sound.

I am going to switch gears now…how about a few book and movie links and reviews?

Review: Prepared to flee Cuba ‘Una Noche’ – latimes.com: Movie review: Twins, a sexy bad boy and a planned escape from Cuba. A feature debut captures the country in almost-documentary detail, but the plot thins.

‘Happiness, Like Water,’ by Chinelo Okparanta -New York Times Book Review:  NYTimes.com

‘My Brother My Sister,’ by Molly Haskell – New York Times Book Review: NYTimes.com (Molly Haskell is frequently on TCM discussing film from a feminist point of view.)

MovieMorlocks.com – The unexpected comedy stylings of Alfred Hitchcock Oh, btw…This month is Alfred Hitchcock month…every Sunday TCM is showing Hitchcock films.

And for the last story today, it is official…Voyager 1 is out of the solar system!

Scientists confirm Voyager 1 probe is in interstellar space | Reuters

Scientists have been debating for more than a year whether NASA’s 36-year-old Voyager 1 spacecraft has left the solar system and become the first human-made object to reach interstellar space.

By a fluke measurement, they now know definitively it has.

“We made it,” lead Voyager scientist Edward Stone, from the California Institute of Technology, told reporters on Thursday.

The key piece of evidence came by chance when a pair of solar flares blasted charged particles in Voyager’s direction in 2011 and 2012. It took a year for the particles to reach the spacecraft, providing information that could be used to determine how dense the plasma was in Voyager’s location.

Plasma consists of charged particles and is more prevalent in the extreme cold of interstellar space than in the hot bubble of solar wind that permeates the solar system.

Voyager 1, now 13 billion miles (21 billion km) from Earth, could not make the measurement directly because its plasma detector stopped working more than 30 years ago.

“This was basically a lucky gift from the sun,” Stone said.

Read the technical stuff on how they measured up the miles at the link above.

Now that Voyager I Is An Interstellar Ship, Let’s All Listen to the Golden Record | Geekosystem

No, we’re never going to stop talking about this. It’s the coolest thing ever.

golden record

Back when Voyager I was first launched into space, a committee lead by Carl Sagan put together a series of messages for any intelligent life outside our solar system who might come across the ship. Etched on gold-colored copper plates, this series of images and audio greetings is meant to reflect the whole of humanity — and now it’s totally in interstellar space.

There are a lot of ways you can listen to the music that’s contained within the golden discs. First, there’s a simple archive of .wav and .mp3 files on the NASA Voyager archive page. You can stream from there, or you can even download the files and take them around with you on your MP3 player and constantly pretend you’re an alien trying to navigate our way of life. We imagine that would make getting stuck on public transportation so much more fascinating.

If you’ve got a pretty decent internet connection and you also want to stream the record in the coolest way possible, there’s this interactive Golden Record website. While there’s no instructions (the aliens don’t get any, either), you can figure out your way around by clicking on the different parts of the flash menu. If you can’t, here’s a quick tip: top left is the music; top right is the images that were also included; bottom right is the space map that shows Earth’s location in the galaxy.

Want to know more about what is on the Golden Record, click the Geekosystem link and find out.

Hey, look at that? I started out with something connected to Carl Sagan, and I finished up with something different, but still referencing Carl Sagan.

Let’s end with one last picture: How our galaxy might look from outside | Today’s Image | EarthSky

This artist’s impression shows how the Milky Way galaxy might look seen from the outside, from an almost edge-on perspective.

Artist's impression of the central bulge of the Milky Way

Credit: ESO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/M. Kornmesser/R. Hurt

New research suggests that, as seen from the outside, the central bulge of our Milky Way galaxy shows up as a peanut-shaped glowing ball of stars, while the spiral arms and their associated dust clouds form a narrow band.

One of the most important and massive parts of the galaxy is the galactic bulge. This huge central cloud of about 10,000 million stars spans thousands of light-years, but its structure and origin are not well understood. Why not, when it’s our home galaxy? Because, from our vantage point from within the galactic disk, our view of this central region — at about 27,000 light-years’ distance — is heavily obscured by dense clouds of gas and dust.

There is a link to a 3D version of what our galaxy may look like, just go to the EarthSky link from the image up top to find it.

Well, this should keep you busy for a while. I will be very  damn busy myself this week, so if I’m AWOL y’all know why…its because I am taking care of “the Girl,” my little munchkin…

Have a great day and enjoy your third Sunday in September.


Saturday Reads

matisse_woman_reading

Good Morning!!

The heatwave continues here, but I hope this will be the last day of extreme weather for the time being. It’s already 83 degrees outside my house at 7:30AM. I’m hoping and praying for a thunderstorm later on. Despite the heat, I’m doing fine–just not getting that much accomplished.

Several people are tweeting about a bomb being detonated by a passenger getting off a plane at Beijing International Airport, but I haven’t seen any news stories about it yet. Apparently the passenger was in a wheelchair and detonated a bomb after yelling something. There don’t appear to be a lot of casualties. Photo of alleged bomber holding up something and screaming. Picture of the smoky aftermath.

According to Jim Sciutto, an American living in China, the bomber is still alive and on the way to the hospital. A letter from him says that a beating by police in 2005 left him paralyzed.

The Aurora Colorado theater shooting was one year ago today, and survivors are still dealing with the aftermath. CBS News reports:

Caleb Medley was shot in the head and spent two months in a coma. Teenager Kaylan Bailey struggled in vain to save a six-year-old girl with CPR. Marcus Weaver was hit in the shoulder with shotgun pellets while his friend died in the seat next to him.

One year after the Aurora, Colo. theater massacre, survivors are struggling to cope with the physical and emotional wounds left by James Holmes, an enigmatic figure who opened fire at the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

The rampage killed 12 people, injured 70 and altered the lives of the more than 400 men, women and children who were in the auditorium on July 20, 2012. Survivors still carry the trauma of that night but have found strength in everything from religion to cheerleading to taking up the issue of gun control.

Read examples at the link. NBC News has photos and remembrances of the Aurora victims.

Yesterday, President Obama spoke publicly about the Travon Martin case. CNN:

In unscheduled and unusually personal remarks, President Barack Obama tried Friday to explain why African-Americans were upset about last week’s acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin while lowering expectations for federal charges in the case.

“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” Obama told White House reporters in a surprise appearance at the daily briefing….

Speaking without a teleprompter, Obama noted a history of racial disparity in law as well as more nuanced social prejudice that contribute to “a lot of pain” in the African-American community over the verdict.

“There are very few African-American men in this country who have not had the experience of being followed when they are shopping at a department store. That includes me,” the president said.

“There are probably very few African-American men who have not had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me – at least before I was a senator,” he continued.

“There are very few African-Americans who have not had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had the chance to get off. That happens often,” he said.

Saying he didn’t intend to exaggerate those experiences, Obama added that they “inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.”

CNN also collected reactions to Obama’s remarks from Twitter. At Salon, Alex Seitz-Wald writes about “the time Obama was mistaken for a waiter.” Seitz-Wald surveys the negative reactions to Obama’s remarks from right wingers:

The immediate reaction from the right was scorn, and a belittling of the notion that Barack Obama, with his elite education at Punahou and Columbia and Harvard, his meteoric success, and his half whiteness, could possibly have been profiled. Or that Obama was overreacting – everyone locks their doors and it has nothing to do with race. Martin, after all, has been vilified as a thug in some circles on the right.

“I’m not saying profiling never happens, but where is the evidence?” one Fox News guest protested. “So Obama ‘could have been’ Trayvon 35 yrs ago? I had no idea Obama sucker-punched a watch volunteer & then bashed his head in. Who knew?” talk radio host Tammy Bruce tweeted. “There’s no reason to believe that Martin could have been Obama 35 years ago,” the conservative Powerline blog commented. On Twitter, some guessed Obama had “never set foot in a department store, unless you count Barney’s.”

As usual, the sneering right wingers were wrong.

…a stunning little blog post by the Wall Street Journal’s Katherine Rosman from 2008 that resurfaced this afternoon tells a remarkable story about Obama the year before his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention that would make him a household name. Rosman was at a book party at the Manhattan home of a Daily Beast editor with a guest list “that can fairly be described as representative of the media elite,” when she encountered an unknown Illinois state senator “looking as awkward and out-of-place as I felt.” It was Barack Obama, of course, and they chatted at length.

When she left the party, an unnamed “established author” admitted to Rosman that he had mistaken Obama, one of the only black people at the party, for a waiter and asked him to fetch a drink.

That was when he was a state senator and Harvard Law grad, and just a few years from national fame, followed by his election to the Senate, and then the White House. And it was in New York City at a gathering of presumably liberal intellectuals.

African American leaders praised Obama’s speech, according to CBS News.

“I think the president did exactly what was needed, and he did it in only a way he can,” Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, told CBS News. “I believe he started a conversation today that must continue.”

Politically, using the shooting of 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin and the subsequent trial of George Zimmerman to talk about race was a risky move, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told CBSNews.com. Yet as a statesman, it was important for Mr. Obama “to lay out a vision of how best to move forward,” he said. “It should be an important starting point for a conversation on race in America and how we can become a better society.”

However, another Salon writer, African American author Rich Benjamin denounced Obama’s speech as “safe, overrated, and airy.” Benjamin compared Obama’s words unfavorably to recent remarks by Attorney General Eric Holder and asked whether Holder is acting as Obama “inner n****r.”

Finally the president has spoken about George Zimmerman’s acquittal. Even as the country waited for his singular response – the nation’s leader and a law professor who once looked like Trayvon Martin – the president danced around the issues. And what a dramatic anti-climax, listening to the president refuse to say anything insightful or profound about the acquittal. In signature professorial style, the president gave us the “context” to the episode and to black people’s “pain.” But he didn’t offer a meaningful opinion on the episode’s hot molten core: racial profiling, vigilantism, and “Stand Your Ground” laws.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder delivered trenchant thoughts on the acquittal, demanding action. Before an audience of supporters, Holder recently called for a full investigation of Martin’s death after Zimmerman’s acquittal. Holder vowed that the Justice Department will act “in a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law. We will not be afraid.”

“We must stand our ground,” he told supporters.

Some of us have an Inner Child. Others have an Inner Nigger. Is Holder the president’s conscience? Or his Inner Nigger?

Is Holder the president’s aggressive internal mind and voice — willing to speak truth to power, but unbothered with appearing like an angry black man?

Read it and see what you think. I must admit, I was a little shocked.

Meanwhile, in a House hearing on the IRS non-scandal, good ol’ Darrell Issa referred to African American Congressman Elijah Cummings as “a little boy.”

The testy exchange came after Cummings, a 62-year-old African-American congressman from Baltimore, challenged past insinuations by Republicans that the White House was behind the IRS targeting. Cummings was picking up on testimony from two IRS witnesses who both said they knew of no evidence of political motivations in the enhanced scrutiny, which also included some progressive groups.

But Issa took issue with Cummings, denying that he had implied the orders came from the highest office in the land and insisting that he only said the targeting came from Washington.

Issa interrupted at the start of another member’s remarks to express his “shock” at Cummings.

“I’m always shocked when the ranking member seems to want to say, like a little boy whose hand has been caught in a cookie jar, ‘What hand? What cookie?’ I’ve never said it leads to the White House,” Issa said.

In fact, he has pointed to the Obama administration and went so far as to call President Barack Obama’s top spokesman, Jay Carney, a “paid liar.”

Nice.

Ex-CIA head Michael Hayden, who supported and defended warrantless wiretapping under the Bush administration has published an op-ed at CNN in which he says that  Edward Snowden “will likely prove to be the most costly leaker of American secrets in the history of the Republic,” and that writer and inveterate Snowden defender Glenn Greenwald is “far more deserving of the Justice Department’s characterization of a co-conspirator than Fox’s James Rosen ever was.” He says Snowden has hurt U.S. intelligence and foreign policy in three ways:

First, there is the undeniable operational effect of informing adversaries of American intelligence’s tactics, techniques and procedures. Snowden’s disclosures go beyond the “what” of a particular secret or source. He is busily revealing the “how” of American collection….

As former director of CIA, I would claim that the top 20% of American intelligence — that exquisite insight into an enemy’s intentions — is generally provided by human sources. But as a former director of NSA, I would also suggest that the base 50% to 60% of American intelligence day in and day out is provided by signals intelligence, the kinds of intercepted communications that Snowden has so blithely put at risk.

But there is other damage, such as the undeniable economic punishment that will be inflicted on American businesses for simply complying with American law….

The third great harm of Snowden’s efforts to date is the erosion of confidence in the ability of the United States to do anything discreetly or keep anything secret.

Manning’s torrent of disclosures certainly caused great harm, but there was at least the plausible defense that this was a one-off phenomenon, a regrettable error we’re aggressively correcting.

Snowden shows that we have fallen short and that the issue may be more systemic rather than isolated. At least that’s what I would fear if I were a foreign intelligence chief approached by the Americans to do anything of import.

Well, that third point is really the government’s fault, not Snowden’s.

Greenwald reacted by tweeting that Hayden “belongs in prison for implementing illegal warrantless eavesdropping at Americans.” FAIR defended Greenwald, calling Hayden’s characterization of Greenwald as “co-conspirator” a “smear.”

There’s nothing new on the Snowden front, except that Russia’s treatment of its own whistleblowers is beginning to get some coverage. From CNN: “Putin, a hypocrite on Snowden, Navalny.”

On Thursday in Moscow, where former NSA contractor Edward Snowden awaits his asylum papers, a Russian court removed a major critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin from the Kremlin’s list of worries, sentencing the charismatic opposition leader Alexei Navalny to five years in jail on theft charges. Amid intense anger at the verdict and fears that it would raise Navalny’s profile, the court agreed on Friday to release him pending appeal.

The trial and the predictable verdict, as the European Union foreign affairs chief said, “raises serious questions as to the state of the rule of law in Russia.” That’s putting it mildly. Navatny is the most prominent, but just one in a long series of politically-motivated prosecutions in a country where the courts seldom make a move that displeases Putin.

Navalny was particularly worrisome to the Russian president. He had gained an enormous following by speaking out against corruption and cronyism, labeling Putin’s United Russia “a party of swindlers and thieves” and using social media to help mobilize the president’s critics. He had just announced he would run for mayor of Moscow. But, like other Putin opponents with any possible chance to loosen the president’s complete hold on power, he will likely go to prison instead. Now that he’s released, Navalny is considering whether to stay or withdraw from the race for mayor.

According to Voice of America, Navalny still plans to run for Mayor of Moscow.

Then there’s the case of Sergei Magnitsky. The government auditor was sent to investigate the investment firm Heritage Capital, which was charged with tax evasion. When Magnitsky concluded the tax fraud was actually coming from the government side and became a whistleblower, naming a network of corrupt officials, he was accused of working for Heritage and thrown in jail, where he became ill, was denied medical treatment and died in 2009, when he was just 37. The United States responded with the Magnitsky Law, imposing sanctions on those involved in his death.

Death didn’t save Magnitsky from Russia’s courts, which found him guilty of tax fraud just last week.

Many others, including the performance group Pussy Riot, have seen even small scale political activism land them in jail.

I’ll end there and open the floor to you. What stories are you following today? Please post your links in the comments, and have a stupendous Saturday!!


Hillary on the Verdict: “George Zimmerman verdict brought ‘deep heartache’”

hillary-clinton-3Hillary Clinton has been regaining her mojo on the speaking tour after a few months rest from retiring as a rock star SOS.  Last night, she spoke out on the miscarriage of justice that saw the release of a man who should’ve–at the very least–be charged with reckless manslaughter.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about the “heartache” of the Trayvon Martin case in D.C. Tuesday evening while speaking to an African-American sorority group.

“My prayers are with the Martin family and with every family who loves someone who is lost to violence,” she said in an almost 30-minute speech. “No mother, no father, should ever have to fear for their child walking down a street in the United States of America.”

She said she knew this week has “brought heartache, deep painful heartache” to families in the wake of the not guilty verdict in George Zimmerman’s trial last Saturday.

Exactly.  We all fear hearing that some stalker has followed our child as he or she walks home from school, from their job, from their activities or friends’ house.  We teach stranger danger.   Yet, in this instance, the stranger that ended a teen’s life was acquitted. What message does this send?  And please, who gets to stand their ground or claim self defense when you’ve basically been stalking a kid fully knowing you have a loaded gun on you?  And, of course he was racially profiling.

Clinton also referenced U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement Monday that the Justice Department will review the case.

“Yesterday I know you heard from the Attorney General about the next steps from the Justice Department and the need for a national dialogue,” she said. “As we move forward as we must I hope this sisterhood will continue to be a force for justice and understanding.”

Clinton’s comments came in a speech to the 51st annual convention of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the largest African-American women’s organization in the country. Organizers said that more than 14,000 people were in the room to hear her speak.

There have been some many stabs deep into the laws that protect rights it’s hard to know where to start.  However, Clinton spent time on what it means to have the VRA crippled.  She also spoke to the abhorrent attacks on the rights of wome.

“The Supreme Court struck at the heart of the Voting Rights Act,” Clinton said. “For more than four decades this law has helped overcome constitutional barriers to voting. Again and again it has demonstrated its essential role in protecting our freedoms.”

She urged attendees at the convention to push Congress to take action on restoring and rewriting Section 4 of the law.

“Unless Congress acts, you know and I know more obstacles are on their way,” she said. “They’re going to make it difficult for poor people, elderly people, minority people, and working people to do what we should be able to take for granted.”

She spoke, as she’s done recently at other women-centric events, about the need for more women to take up positions of power — and about Delta members like former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman and Rep. Martha Fudge who have advanced the cause of women in leadership.

“As you know, women still comprise a majority of the world’s unhealthy, unschooled, unfed and unpaid,” she said, adding that there’s been “a lot of progress” on women’s rights but that more needs to be done.

As has been the case in many of her speeches this year, Clinton’s potential 2016 bid wasn’t far from people’s minds. As she exited the stage, audience members cheered, “Run, Hillary, Run!”

Yup, RUN HILLARY RUN!!!


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

On Sunday during his “get to know the regular people” bus tour, Mitt Romney expressed “amazement” at a gas station in Pennsylvania where you could order “hoagies” using a touch-screen.

At a campaign stop in Pennsylvania on Sunday, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee told a crowd that he had been astonished by a touch screen computer used to order food at the Wawa gas station chain….

“I was at Wawas,” Romney explained. “I went in to order a sandwich. You press a little touchtone keypad, alright? You just touch that and, you know, the sandwich comes up. You touch this, touch this, touch this, go pay the cashier. There’s your sandwich. It’s amazing!”

The ordering system has been there for 10 years. Of course this reminded everyone of the apocryphal story about out-of-touch patrician George H.W. Bush being amazed by a supermarket scanner.

Poor Mitt. In another article on Romney’s bus tour, James Fallows makes fun of the candidate’s habit of expressing surprise by saying “oh my goodness!”

Romney’s trademark small-talk exclamation, “Oh my goodness!” seems completely genuine. But I am trying to think of the last time I heard a 21st-century person use that phrase — as opposed to all the other possibilities, which when you think about it range from coarse to profane. (Jeez louise, WTF, Holy shit, and on through a long list you can fill in yourself.) When combined with his Don-Draper-in-the-’50s very dapper personal style, it adds to a retro atmosphere that some people will find reassuring and appealing and others will find odd.

Well I have to admit that I often say “oh my goodness!” too. Maybe I’m out of touch then–or maybe it’s a Midwestern thing. I got in the habit of saying that when taking care of my nephews. John McWhorter at The New Republic also thinks Romney’s “verbal stylings” are strange. Romney is also guilty of using “g” words like gosh, golly, and gee, which McWhorter says are substitutes for taking the name of “god” in vain.

Gee, gosh, and golly are all tokens of dissimulation. They are used in moments of excitement or dismay as burgherly substitutions, either for God and Jesus—words many religious people believe should not be “taken in vain”—or for words considered even less appropriate. Fittingly, they even emerged as disguised versions of God (gosh and golly) and Jesus (gee; cf. also jeez). This was in line with how cursing worked in earlier English. The medieval and even colonial Anglophones’ versions of profanity were to express dismay or vent pain by swearing—“making an oath”—to God or related figures considered ill-addressed in such a disrespectful way. The proper person at least muted the impact with a coy distortion, à la today’s shoot and fudge. Hence zounds (first attestation: 1600), as in by his (Christ’s) wounds; egad for Ye God (1673); and by Jove (1598). To increasing numbers of modern Americans, the G-words are unusable outside of quotation marks, be these actual or implied, rather like the word perky.

Well, gee, I use that one sometimes too, though not “gosh” or “golly.” So maybe I’m as much of an anachronism as Romney. Of course I’ve been known to swear also. I really think saying the “g” words might be a Midwestern mannerism.

Robert Shrum says Mitt Romney reminds him of Thomas E. Dewey, who was expected to beat Harry Truman in 1948, but didn’t. Check it out. I found it interesting.

It appears that police are suspicious about the drowning death of Rodney King. An autopsy has been done, but the results haven’t been released yet. There was no obvious evidence of foul play, but apparently King was a very avid swimmer. There are also conflicting reports of sounds from King’s backyard right before his body was found. Reuters:

King’s fiancée, Cynthia Kelly, a juror in the civil suit he brought against the city of Los Angeles, “didn’t give any indication he was unhappy or that there was an issue.” He said King was known to swim frequently and at all hours.

Shepherd said Kelly told investigators that, shortly before the drowning, she had been inside the house talking with King off and on through a sliding glass door that leads to a patio beside the pool.

At some point, she told them, she heard a splash, prompting her to run outside to find him at the bottom of the deep end. Unable to swim well herself, she called emergency 911 for help.

The Los Angeles Times, in an online account on Monday, cited a next-door neighbor, Sandra Gardea, 31, as saying she heard the sound of a man sobbing from King’s back yard in the two hours before police say he was found in the pool.

The Times also reported that Gardea heard King’s fiancée trying to coax him back into the house.

“It wasn’t like an argument,” she told the newspaper. “She was just saying, ‘Get in the house. Get in the house.'” Gardea said she heard a splash a few minutes later.

Very mysterious.

The prosecution in the Trayvon Martin case has released calls between George Zimmerman and his wife when he was in jail the first time.

The recordings show that from his jail cell, Zimmerman gave his wife step-by-step instructions on how to change a password and clear security questions so she could move money, gave her orders to withdraw specific amounts and directed her to pay the bills.

Prosecutors allege the couple was moving money out of an Internet PayPal account that was awash with donations for Zimmerman, who’s charged with second-degree murder in one of the most racially-charged criminal cases in the country. He shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, in Sanford Feb. 26.

The couple spoke in code, according to prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda. In the calls Zimmerman makes repeated reference to “Peter Pan,” an apparent reference to PayPal.

And neither Zimmerman or his wife ever refer to more than $100,000, talking instead about amounts generally totaling “10 dollars” and “20 dollars.” Prosecutors say those were references to $10,000 and $20,000.

Shellie was careful to move less than $10,000 at a time, to avoid triggering attention from the feds.

The tapes of six conversations were released Monday, as were bank statements from the Zimmermans’ accounts at a credit union. The statements show repeated transfers to and from the account in amounts just under $10,000. On April 24, for example, there were 8 transfers of $9,999.00 into Shellie Zimmerman’s account. Banks and financial institutions are required to file “suspicious activity reports” in such cases, according to Jack Blum, a Washington lawyer who specializes in money laundering.

Structuring the money in such a way is not itself illegal, he says, if the money isn’t from an illicit source. But, he says, it shows “a guilty mind.”

“What they’ve done,’ Blum said, “is they’ve given the prosecutors, on a silver platter, evidence of guilty intent.”

This one should probably be at the top of this post, but gee golly gosh and my goodness! I thought the other stories were more fun to read–so gosh darn it, what the heck!

Obama, Putin meet on Syria at G-20 summit.

Meeting for nearly two hours on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Mexico, the two presidents tried to focus mostly on areas of agreement — even when it came to areas of disagreement, such as Syria.

The U.S. wants Syrian President Bashar Assad out of power. Russia, which sells arms to Syria, has blocked United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for tough sanctions and leaving the door open to military intervention.

“We agreed that we need to see a cessation of the violence, that a political process has to be created to prevent civil war and the kind of horrific deaths that we’ve seen over the last several weeks,” Obama said after his first meeting with Putin following his return to the presidency this year. “We pledged to work with other international actors, including the United Nations, Kofi Annan and all interested parties, in trying to find a resolution to this problem.”

Putin was upbeat following the meeting, which went on much longer than planned and covered the full range of issues between the two nations. “From my perspective, we’ve been able to find many commonalities pertaining to all of those issues,” he said.

I’m glad it was Obama negotiating and not Romney. Otherwise, we might be at war with Russia by now.

The New York Times has a piece on what Europe will do now that the Greeks have voted for austerity.

BERLIN — After Greek elections eased fears that the country’s exit from the euro zone was imminent, attention turned Monday to an even bigger challenge: restoring the economic body to health with Greece still in it.

A respite from market pressure early Monday proved to be short-lived, as investors shifted their attention from political infighting in Athens to the larger question of whether European leaders could find a more lasting solution to a debacle now well into its third year.

But even though Brussels had been hoping for the victory by Antonis Samaras and his center-right New Democracy Party, the yearned-for result, paradoxically, may weaken Europe’s determination to take more radical steps to avert a meltdown.

German hard-liners were emboldened by the victory, viewing it as an endorsement of the drive for structural adjustment in Greece and elsewhere in Southern Europe through further austerity. As a result, the vote may delay concerted pro-growth steps by central banks and governments around the world, as well as the hard choices within Europe over deeper integration that are likely to prove necessary in the long run.

Much more at the link.

There’s lots of talk around the ‘net about the upcoming SCOTUS decision on the health care law. Scalia appears to be signaling that it may go down. You can read about what might happen if parts of the bill found unconstitutional here, here, and here.

Ronan Farrow with mother Mia

Woody Allen’s son Ronan (who looks exactly like Mia Farrow) celebrated father’s day by tweeting “Happy father’s day — or as they call it in my family, happy brother-in-law’s day.” And Mother Mia retweeted it. Ouch!

Woody and Ronan have been estranged for years since his parents split and because Woody was dating (and later married) Soon-Yi Previn, Mia’s adopted daughter, Ronan’s step-sister. He has been quoted in the past as saying, “He’s my father married to my sister. That makes me his son and his brother-in-law. That is such a moral transgression.” [….]

Ronan, named Satchel Ronan O’Sullivan Farrow when he was born in 1987, is the sole biological child of Woody and actress Mia Farrow. He is currently serving as special adviser to the Secretary of State for Global Youth Issues and director of the State Department’s Global Youth Issues office.

Finally, Roger Clemens was found not guilty yesterday, and honestly I’m glad. He probably did use steroids late in his career, but the prosecution couldn’t prove it. Thousands of players did it, and I think it was terrible; but the Justice Department has much more important things to do than making examples out of baseball players (and former presidential candidates for that matter). Clemens will go down in history as one of the greatest pitchers ever. He certainly is one of the best ever to play for the Red Sox.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Breaking: Judge Revokes George Zimmerman’s Bond

Judge Kenneth Lester

A short time ago, Florida Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester revoked accused murderer George Zimmerman’s bond and ordered him to surrender himself to authorities within 48 hours, because he lied about his financial resources. The prosecution also revealed that Zimmerman had failed to turn over a second passport that was in his possession, but the judge didn’t include that in his reasons for revocation of bail. The defense says it’s all “just an innocent misunderstanding.” New York Newsday:

Prosecutors said in a motion that 28-year-old George Zimmerman and his family misled them about his finances when testifying during a bail hearing that allowed him to be released from jail on a $150,000 bond. Prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda asked for the revocation during a hearing to help determine if prosecutors and the defense can stop the public release of certain documents in the case.

During the bond hearing in April, Zimmerman’s relatives testified they had limited funds. Zimmerman’s attorney said several days later that he had discovered his client had raised more than $200,000 from a website. At the time of the hearing, about $135,000 had been raised, and that money wasn’t disclosed at the bond hearing.

“This court was led to believe they didn’t have a single penny,” said Prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda. “It was misleading and I don’t know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie.” ….

Prosecutors also said in the motion that Zimmerman didn’t disclose he had a second passport. Zimmerman turned his passport over to the court at the bond hearing as a measure that would prevent him from fleeing the country.

I’ll update if I get any more information.

UPDATE 1: According to the Miami Herald,

Prosecutors said they have recordings of phone conversations between Zimmerman and his wife while Zimmerman was in jail in which they discussed moving money from a PayPal account set up to collect money for Zimmerman’s defense. But Zimmerman’s wife testified at her husband’s bond hearing that she was unaware of any additional money available for her husband’s defense — what prosecutors now call a lie.

Um… yep, that’s a lie alright.

UPDATE 2: According to ABC News, Zimmerman and his wife also talked on the phone about the second passport he had in a safe deposit box.

In recordings of conversations released today during a court hearing, Zimmerman and his wife, Shelly Zimmerman, cryptically talk about his second passport in a safety deposit box they shared.

Although one of his passports was due to expire in May, prosecutors said today, Zimmerman applied for a second passport, informing the State Department that the original had been lost lost or stolen.

In some of the phone calls between the two, she is at a credit union that was linked to his PayPal account and speaking to a teller. The prosecution said that despite being in jail, Zimmerman was “intimately involved in the deposit and transfer of money into various accounts.”

In certain cases, Bail Bonds in Mesa, AZ will be expected to be exchanged for the Bonds dispersed by that institution; this is in addition to the required initial payment.

In the conversations Zimmerman and his wife speak in code — reducing the amounts in their financial accounts by a factor of 1,000. Prosecutors said the couple knew that their jailhouse conversations were likely being recorded.

Zimmerman had $135,000 in his bank account on the day of his bond hearing, when his entire family claimed he was broke. Wow! Are they ever stupid.


Open Thread: New Police Video of George Zimmerman

This video of George Zimmerman climbing a staircase at the Sanford Police Department is dated February 29, 2012–three days after Zimmerman shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. Can anyone see two black eyes and a swollen bandaged nose?

From the Miami Herald: George Zimmerman had a broken nose, two cuts and two black eyes: ABC News report

The day after he killed Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman showed up at a doctor’s office with a broken nose, two black eyes and two small cuts on the back of his head, ABC News reported Tuesday.

According to medical records obtained by the network, he also had a minor back injury. Zimmerman takes Temazepam, an insomnia medication, and Adderall — which is prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or narcolepsy — “medications that can cause side effects such as agitation and mood swings, but in fewer than 10 percent of patients,” ABC reported.

The three-page medical report prepared by a physician near Sanford showed that Zimmerman declined to go to the hospital and did not get follow up care, ABC said. He also complained of stress and nausea.

The above video was recorded two days after Zimmerman saw his doctor. I’ve never had a black eye or a broken nose, but two days seems like a very short time for black eyes to have healed.

So far the news reports I’ve seen about this video have called attention to the fact that Zimmerman is walking around the police station unattended and that he has a bandage on the back of his head, but none have noted the lack of injuries on his face. Are my eyes deceiving me?