Sunday Reads: Penny Marshall, et al …2018

Penny Marshall

Penny Marshall Dead at 75.

 

It is that time of year, and in memory of those who are no longer with us…here is a review of who we lost this 2018.

 

 

 

Penny Marshall from Celebrity Deaths: 2018’s Fallen Stars | E! News

That link takes you to a gallery of pictures representing celebrity deaths from 2018….including:

SONDRA LOCKE

The Oscar-nominated actress passed away on Nov. 3. The Any Which Way You Can star was 74 years old.

RICKY JAY

The magician and actor, best known for his roles in Tomorrow Never Dies, Deadwood and Boogie Nightsdied on November 24 from natural causes. He was 72.

ROY CLARK

The country star was known for hosting Yee Haw died at the age of 85 on November 15. He died of complications from pneumonia while surrounded by family and friends at his Tulsa, Okla. home.

KATHERINE MACGREGOR

The star, who played Harriet Oleson in the ’70s hit series Little House on the Prarie, died on November 13 at the age of 93. She was living at the Motion Picture Fund Long Term Nursing Care facility in Woodland Hills, California at the time of her death.

NEIL SIMON

The famous Broadway playwright and screenwriter, known for plays such as The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park, died at age 91 on August 26 after battling complications from pneumonia

ED KING

The Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist died on August 22 at age 68 after battling lung cancer.

ARETHA FRANKLIN

The iconic songstress died at home in Detroit on August 16 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76 years old.

TAB HUNTER

The ’50s movie idol (born Arthur Andrew Kelm) died July 8, three days shy of his 87th birthday. Known for starring in movies like The Burning Hills and Damn Yankees, Hunter came out of the closet in 2005 in his autobiography, confirming rumors that had been swirling since his heyday. Hunter’s cause of death was not immediately known.

KATE SPADE

The famous fashion designer died of apparent suicide in June 2018. She was 55 years old.

Designer, Kate Spade

 

The surprise for many was the recent death of Penny Marshall:

Penny Marshall in 1980.

 

Penny Marshall’s Legacy, From Laverne & Shirley to Directing

As both a performer and a filmmaker, Marshall, who died Monday at the age of 75, stood counter to the prevailing wisdom of what women like her were supposed to be, and do. From her breakthrough as a sitcom star to her subsequent success as a blockbuster filmmaker, Marshall never seemed to get hung up on what other people thought she was supposed to be doing — or if she did, you could never tell. And as both an actress and a director, she was simultaneously big and subtle, aiming at the widest possible audience while smuggling in little grace notes that caught even fans by surprise.

When viewers of a certain age first noticed Marshall on sitcoms in the 1970s — first as Oscar Madison’s secretary on The Odd Couple, and then as Laverne DeFazio on Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley — they saw a throwback to character actresses from ’50s television and prewar movies. She was a scene-stealer with big city, white ethnic bluntness, the kind of woman who might’ve dispensed tough but loving advice to Grace Kelly or bashed a mugger over the head with an umbrella.

Give that obit a read through…it details Marshall’s work in Hollywood through the years.

Penny Marshall, Star of Laverne & Shirley, Dead at Age 75 | E! News

Actress and director Penny Marshall died “peacefully” last night at age 75 at her Hollywood Hills home, E! News has confirmed. Her cause of death was complications from diabetes, and a celebration of life ceremony will be held at a later date. “Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall,” a spokesperson for the star’s family told E! News in a statement. Born Oct. 15, 1943, Penny is predeceased by her brother, actor/director Garry Marshall. She is survived by her sister Ronny Marshall; her daughter Tracy Reiner; and her three grandchildren.

A no-nonsense New Yorker, Penny’s Hollywood breakthrough came from starring in the hit sitcom Laverne & Shirley, which ran for eight seasons on ABC from Jan. 27, 1976, until May 10, 1983. But Penny found even more success behind the camera, directing hit films like Big (1988), Awakenings (1990), A League of Their Own (1992), The Preacher’s Wife (1996) and Riding in Cars With Boys (2001), among others. With Big, Penny made history as the first woman to direct a movie that grossed $100 million—something she did again with A League of Their Own.

“With directing, I didn’t have to wear makeup or get my hair done. But I do not like getting up that early,” she said in a Women and Hollywood interview in 2012. “In TV we did our show in front of an audience, so we got up early only one morning. We did camera blocking in the morning and we shot at night which was a much more humane existence. No one is funny at 7 a.m. It’s faster to act, but a lot of times you are sitting in a Winnebago waiting. Directing is more fun—if you can create stuff, if you can create business for people to do and not just pull lines out of people’s mouths. So if people come prepared then you can add business. I like behavior.”

A multitalented workhorse, Penny also produced a number of movies and TV series. “Penny was a girl from the Bronx, who came out West, put a cursive ‘L’ on her sweater and transformed herself into a Hollywood success story,” the Marshall family said. “We hope her life continues to inspire others to spend time with family, work hard and make all of their dreams come true.”

This next one deals with:

Carrie Fisher and Penny Marshall’s Friendship: A Timeline

When actress, director, and general multi-hyphenate trailblazer Penny Marshall died earlier this week, one of the trending topics that followed the news was her BFF status with Carrie Fisher — fun quotes they said about each other, some cute photos, you name it. We love it! But despite the very public celebration of their friendship on social media, the women enjoyed spending time together away from life’s flashbulbs and recorders, really only regaling us with their life’s anecdotes through memoirs and rare interviews. “We’ve lasted longer than all of our marriages combined. Our crazy lives have meshed perfectly,” Marshall perhaps put it best in her 2012 memoir. “We’ve always said it’s because we never liked the same drugs or men, but I know there’s more to it.” Here, let’s take an abridged look at the early stages of their pairing, which we promise we won’t refer to as “friendship goals.”

Great pictures there at that link…and read the few stories as well. A cheerful look on both women’s lives.

In another death of 2018:

Last Warsaw Ghetto uprising fighter dies in Israel

The last surviving fighter from the doomed 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising by Jewish partisans against the Nazis died Saturday in Israel aged 94, the country’s president said.

Simcha Rotem, who went by the nom-de-guerre Kazik, served in the Jewish Fighting Organisation that staged the uprising as the Nazis conducted mass deportations of residents to the death camps.

“This evening, we part from… Simcha Rotem, the last of the Warsaw Ghetto fighters,” Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement.

“He joined the uprising and helped save dozens of fighters”.

Hundreds of Jewish fighters began their fight on April 19, 1943, after the Nazis began deporting the surviving residents of the Jewish ghetto they had set up after invading Poland.

The insurgents preferred to die fighting instead of in a gas chamber at the Treblinka death camp where the Nazis had already sent more than 300,000 Warsaw Jews.

Speaking at a 2013 ceremony in Poland to mark the 70th anniversary of the uprising, Rotem recalled that by April 1943 most of the ghetto’s Jews had died and the 50,000 who remained expected the same fate.

Rotem said he and his comrades launched the uprising to “choose the kind of death” they wanted.

“But to this very day I keep thinking whether we had the right to make the decision to start the uprising and by the same token to shorten the lives of many people by a week, a day or two,” Rotem said.

Thousands of Jews died in Europe’s first urban anti-Nazi revolt, most of them burned alive, and nearly all the rest were then sent to Treblinka.

Rotem survived by masterminding an escape through the drain system with dozens of comrades. Polish sewer workers guided them to the surface.

He went on to participate in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising led by Polish resistance fighters against the Nazis.

And let us not forget the death of Jakelin Caal… and the deaths of other children and immigrants who seemed to lurk in the background of news story recaps:

Where seven-year-old Jakelin Caal crossed, migrants risk death to enter US | US news | The Guardian

Antelope Wells, an isolated point of entry in New Mexico, is where hundreds cross over, seeking refuge from violence

The deceptively beautiful landscape around Antelope Wells in the remote south-western corner of New Mexico.
 The deceptively beautiful landscape around Antelope Wells in the remote south-western corner of New Mexico. Photograph: Don Usner/Searchlight New Mexico

The black shadows of yucca shrubs huddled under a three-quarter moon. A stiff desert wind hushed all but the deafening crunch of footsteps where a chest-high barrier divides the US and Mexico.

Behind María and her son were the thousands of miles they covered overland from Guatemala, with Mexico streaming by the bus window, day and night. On the way, she broke her ankle but pressed on with few stops.

Then came the last leg: the night crossing into the New Mexico Bootheel. The state’s rugged, remote south-western corner was where seven-year-old Guatemalan girl Jakelin Caal crossed with her father one December night and became gravely ill.

Her death earlier this month became the symbol of a dangerous new pattern of human smuggling through New Mexico, where 20 groups of more than 100 migrants each have arrived since October, a massive increase from just eight large groups in all of fiscal 2018, according to US Customs and Border Protection. A record number are asking for asylum in the US.

I was going to end it there…but here are a few news worthy links:

A volcano…Child of Krakatoa has made some noise, this time causing a tsunami that has killed and injured many in Indonesia.

As of 7 am this morning:

Tsunami from erupting Krakatau kills at least 222 in Indonesia | Reuters

PANDEGLANG, Indonesia (Reuters) – A tsunami killed at least 222 people and injured hundreds on the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra following an underwater landslide believed caused by the erupting Anak Krakatau volcano, officials and media said on Sunday.

Angry ‘Child of Krakatoa’ rumbles on

The volcano that apparently triggered a deadly tsunami in Indonesia late Saturday emerged from the sea around the legendary Krakatoa 90 years ago and has been on a high-level eruption watchlist for the past decade.

Anak Krakatoa (the “Child of Krakatoa”) has been particularly active since June, occasionally sending massive plumes of ash high into the sky and in October a tour boat was nearly hit by lava bombs from the erupting volcano.

Anak Krakatoa tsunami – in pictures | World news | The Guardian

A resident searches for items among the ruins of a villa after the area was hit by a tsunami, at Carita beach in Padeglang, Banten province, Indonesia,

 

Indonesia tsunami hits Sunda Strait after Krakatau eruption – BBC News

More than 220 people have been killed and 843 injured after a tsunami hit coastal towns on Indonesia’s Sunda Strait, government officials say.

The tsunami waves struck at night without any warning, destroying hundreds of buildings.

Officials say the tsunami could have been caused by undersea landslides after Anak Krakatau volcano erupted.

The Sunda Strait, between the islands of Java and Sumatra, connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean.

More images and updates at the links above.

 

Here are a couple of articles on media. One deals with social media, the other with news media:

Social media is an existential threat to our idea of democracy | Opinion | The Guardian

At last, we’re getting somewhere. Two years after Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, we’re finally beginning to understand the nature and extent of Russian interference in the democratic processes of two western democracies. The headlines are: the interference was much greater than what was belatedly discovered and/or admitted by the social media companies; it was more imaginative, ingenious and effective than we had previously supposed; and it’s still going on.

 

This next one I find important for this key component: Der Spiegel takes the blame for scandal of reporter who faked stories | World news | The Guardian

US ambassador says revelations prove magazine guilty of institutional bias, as far-right groups seek to exploit the case

The US government has waded into the scandal of the German journalist forDer Spiegel magazine who faked stories on a grand scale over years, calling it proof of “institutional bias” in the media against America.

In a scathing letter to the magazine’s editors, Richard Grenell, US ambassador to Germany, claims the journalism of Claas Relotius, who resigned from the German news magazine last week, was symptomatic of anti-American bias across the mainstream media. “It is clear that we were the victims of a campaign of institutional bias,” Grenell wrote to Der Spiegel, in a letter also seen by the daily newspaper Bild. He said he was aghast at the way “anti-American coverage” had been facilitated by the magazine.

You can read the details at the link, main focus being:

The scandal has sparked fears that the far right will exploit the scandal to sow further distrust of the media. The German far right has a long history of attacking the press.

In recent years, the anti-immigration group Pegida and elements of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) have resurrected the Nazi-era slur of Lügenpresse (“lying press”) to describe mainstream journalism they claim does not represent the world as they see it. These voices have been further emboldened by US President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media and his use of the term “fake news.”

“Relotius is in the end only a product of an absurdly leftist writers’ fraternity that is increasingly seldom prepared to leave its own convenient moral comfort zone in favour of the facts,” wrote Alice Weidl, a leader of the AfD, in a Facebook post.

The leading German journalist Hendrik Wieduwilt wrote: “It’s started! The fraud of ‘reporter’ Relotius has now been made into ‘fake news’, or strategically fraudulent lies. The AfD will exploit this for all it is worth. That’s probably the biggest damage of the whole scandal.” The independent media journalist Stefan Niggemeier took to Twitter to express fears the case represented a “deep blow – not just for Der Spiegel, but for German journalism.” In a series of soul-searching written apologies, the magazine acknowledged the wider undermining affect Relotius’s actions will have on those striving to deliver objective, informative and well-sourced reporting.

“We are aware that the Relotius case makes the fight against fake news that much more difficult,” wrote the incoming Spiegel editor-in-chief Steffen Klusmann and deputy editor-in-chief Dirk Kurbjuweit in a joint open letter to readers. “For everyone. For other media outlets that are on our side and for citizens and politicians who are interested in an accurate portrayal of reality.”

One more link because, this is really a heavy post for a Sunday before Christmas…

The 2018 Medieval Book of the Year: The Golden Rhinoceros

Hundreds of books about the Middle Ages are published each year. They cover a vast number of topics, sometimes offering new research, sometimes retelling stories for new audiences. What makes one book stand out above the rest?

I’ve made it a habit the last few years of keeping track of as many new books about the Middle Ages as I can – a process that leads me to visit many libraries and book stories. I can’t possibly get familiar with all the works that have come out, so my choices are subjective, but I think the books mentioned below will prove to be important contributions to medieval studies. I look for those that I think will enlighten and expand our understanding of the Middle Ages, that are well written and well researched, and will have lasting significance in their field.

So, what is the book of the year?

The Golden Rhinoceros: Histories of the Africa, by François-Xavier Fauvelle, is my choice for the medieval book of the year. It’s not a particularly large book at just 264 pages, but it offers readers a great trove of topics related to the medieval history of Africa (with the exception of Egypt and the Mediterranean coast). It consists of 34 separate stories, each about six to eight pages long. They cover events between the eighth and fifteenth centuries, and zig-zag across the African continent, so you will be at first reading about Mauritania, then going to Zimbabwe, and then off to Ethiopia. Fauvelle is highly effective in giving us snapshots of life in these places, all the while acknowledging that his sources are often fragmentary and sparse.

Fauvelle’s aim in this book is to show that Africa was not mired in the ‘dark centuries’ as many historians have assumed, but was going through something more akin to a ‘golden age’ during the Middle Ages. Many of his sections reinforce the idea that merchants were flourishing in medieval Africa, with gold and slaves being sent across the continent into the Arab world, India, and even to China. Perhaps medievalists have been too focused on the connections between medieval Europe and Africa, which are very limited, and haven’t yet researched the much deeper relations between the Islamic and African worlds. Here Fauvelle offers a guide to historians on how they can learn more about Mali, Somalia or the Sahara, and the role they played in the medieval world.

Click here to read an interview with François-Xavier Fauvelle

There are a few other interesting reads that are recommended at that link, so please click over to check them out…one that even discusses emotions and sensibility in the middle ages…fascinating.

Well….I wish everyone a happy holiday, this is an open thread.

 

 


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.


Wednesday Reads: Red, Red, Moon…Nope, it isn’t a Monkey’s Butt!

Good Morning!

Ah…that was quite a title, yes?

Well, I originally had this post called Red, Red, Moon…not Gingrich’s ass, but thought it would be a bit over the top. Of course I am referring to the latest Axelrod comment:

“The higher a monkey climbs on the pole the more you can see his butt.”.

I have personally used a monkey’s ass as an insult…in third grade, I told JoNell Costello that she had a face like a baboon’s ass. (Yes, I changed the name to protect the innocent.) It did not go over well, but it is a great memory for me because I was standing up for myself.

I’m mentioning it now because it ties in with some items I have for your morning news round up…so lets get to it.

Obama has already wimped out on the women’s front this past week…yes, that war reference is on purpose! Well, there are some Democrats in Congress who are really acting like Democrats.

It isn’t every day that 14 Senators aggressively call out their own party’s Health and Human Services Secretary, imply that a major decision made their own party’s adminstration was not based on science, and demand proof to the contrary. But that’s exactly what’s happening right now in the dust up over the Obama administration’s decision not to relax restrictions on access to Plan B.

Fourteen Democratic Senators have just sent this letter to HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelieus, repeatedly insisting that she produce a convincing scientific rationale for the decision:

Dear Secretary Sebelius,

We are writing to express our disappointment with your December 7, 2011 decision to block the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommendation to make Plan B One-Step available over-the-counter. We feel strongly that FDA regulations should be based on science. We write to you today to ask that you provide us with the rationale for this decision.

As numerous medical societies and patient advocates have argued, improved access to birth control, including emergency contraception, has been proven to reduce unintended pregnancies. Nearly half of all pregnancies that occur in the United States each year are unintended. Keeping Plan B behind the counter makes it harder for all women to obtain a safe and effective product they may need to prevent an unintended pregnancy.

We ask that you share with us your specific rationale and the scientific data you relied on for the decision to overrule the FDA recommendation. On behalf of the millions of women we represent, we want to be assured that this and future decisions affecting women’s health will be based on medical and scientific evidence.

And who are the senators that put there John Hancock on this letter?

Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Carl Levin (Mich.), John Kerry (Mass.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Al Franken (Minn.), Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.). Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Good for them!

This leads us to the next Obama, “will he or won’t he” moment. I am talking of the House passing the Payroll Tax Cut extension with all that Keystone crap stuffed in the bill.

Defying a veto threat from President Obama, the House on Tuesday passed a bill extending a cut in Social Security payroll taxes for 160 million Americans for another year. But the Democratic majority in the Senate vowed to reject the measure because of objections to other provisions, including one to speed construction of an oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

Threats of veto? From Obama? (I wonder if he really means it…)

In general, the vote followed party lines. Ten Democrats voted for the bill, and 14 Republicans voted against it.

Less than an hour after the vote, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, went to the Senate floor and declared: “The bill passed by House Republicans tonight is a pointless partisan exercise. The bill is dead on arrival in the Senate. It was dead before it got to the Senate.”

Portrayed by House Republican leaders as an engine of job creation, the payroll tax bill became entangled Tuesday with a separate omnibus spending bill to finance much of the government for the remainder of the current fiscal year.

Democrats threatened to delay action on the spending bill to ensure that Republicans would address their concerns about the Keystone XL pipeline and other provisions of the tax measure.

So, what do you think will come of this monkey’s ass? (No derogatory sentiment against monkey asses, or monkeys for that matter, is meant by that statement.)  I wonder what the odds are in Vegas on what action Obama will take…

Speaking of asses, do you think the recent Christine O’Donnell endorsement for Mittens is considered a “welcomed” endorsement or a “thanks but you shouldn’t have” endorsement?

Christine O’Donnell, the former Republican Senate candidate and a tea party favorite during the 2010 election, has officially endorsed Mitt Romney for president.

O’Donnell made her endorsement during an appearance this evening on Fox News’ “Hannity.”

“It was not an easy decision because I too think any of our candidates would make a great president and a great candidate going against Barack Obama,” O’Donnell said. “But I think there are certain tie breakers and I know that in making my decision I might be hurting some people but I think infrastructure and executive experience are important, and for that reason I’m endorsing Mitt Romney.”

“I’m very happy,” she added. “This is not anti-[Newt] Gingrich or anyone else, it’s a pro Gov. Romney endorsement.

Oh, I can hear the commentary from those extremely devout right-wing Christians on the 700 Club now…A former witch endorsing a Mormon? I bet Newt is busting with appreciation of O’Donnell…

Newt is also busting with approval numbers from a recent NBC/WSJ poll…ready for it?

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has taken a commanding lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, hitting the 40 percent mark for the first time in the campaign, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Tuesday.

Gingrich is the first choice of 40 percent of Republican primary voters compared with 23 percent support for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the poll found.

Granted, Newt does not have such a high polling percent when paired with Obama, he is 10 points behind Obama, while Romney is just 2 points behind the “O” man.

Here are a few global news links, did you read about the vicious grenade attack in Belgium?

Eyewitness Greg Ienco: “We saw the explosions and the panic, it was quite incredible”

Police in Belgium are trying to determine what motivated a local man to open fire on a busy marketplace in Liege, killing at least four people.

Nearly 125 people were wounded, some critically, when 33-year-old Nordine Amrani fired bullets and hurled grenades before killing himself.

Police have said he was known to them for previous drugs and firearms offences and acted alone in the attack.

Authorities are looking for a motive in this attack:

Amrani, a resident of Liege, had been jailed for 58 months in September 2008 for possessing firearms and drugs, media reports said.

Officials did not confirm this, but said they were aware he had spent some time in prison.

“At no moment in any of the judicial proceedings against him was there a sign of unbalance,” Daniele Reynders, the public prosecutor for Liege, told reporters.

Amrani is reported to have been on parole and on Tuesday, had been asked to attend a police station for an interview in connection with charges against him.Instead, he took an assault rifle, revolver and hand grenades into the busy town centre square, close to the courthouse.

It is horrible…I feel terrible for those families, one of the victims who was killed was a 17–month old little girl.

In Syria, the numbers of people who have been killed in connection with the uprising and protest of the Syrian government has grown…

At least 32 people were killed across Syria on Tuesday, including seven members of the security forces, amid rising sectarian tensions in some places, opposition groups said.

The deaths added to a toll that was estimated by a United Nations official on Monday at more than 5,000 people since the uprising began in March.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 19 people died in the northern province of Idlib, near the Turkish border, when security forces loyal to the government of President Bashar al-Assad fired at them. Five were killed in the province of Homs, in central Syria, and one in the nearby province of Hama.

In addition, seven members of the security forces were killed in an attack on their military vehicle in the Bab al-Hawa area in Idlib Province, according to the observatory, an opposition group based in London. The attack, it said, was in retaliation for the shooting of antigovernment protesters earlier in the day in the province.

It seems like the spilling of Syrian blood is showing no signs of stopping.

The violence came amid the backdrop of worsening sectarian tensions in Homs, which is populated by a Sunni Muslim majority and a minority of Alawites, a heterodox Muslim sect from which Mr. Assad draws much of his leadership. Mohammed Saleh, an activist from Homs, said that two Alawites were kidnapped in Homs on Tuesday, and that one of them was the brother of Yasser Jawhar, an opposition activist who was jailed for 12 years.

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, said on Monday that the death toll was now 1,000 higher than the estimate she had released at the beginning of the month. Ms. Pillay said that this number included civilians, army defectors and soldiers who refused to shoot at protesters. It did not, however, include security forces killed by the opposition.

(Sigh)

That is the only response I can muster…

Google Street View explores post-tsunami Japan, the Google camera cars have documented the before and after street views of areas hit by the Japanese tsunami in March. That link will take you to a gallery of photos. (And you thought the images from space of before and after the tsunami were devastating.) This brings the devastation up close and personal.

I know that the recent “American Muslim” ad boycott decision from home improvement, and terrorist super store, Lowe’s has been discussed here on Sky Dancing, but I had to include a link to this video from Jon Stewart.

Lowe’s Boycott Of TLC Muslim Reality Show Leaves Jon Stewart Flabbergasted

Aasif Mandvi, the Daily Show’s senior Muslim correspondent’s report in front of the Denver Lowe’s is fabulous! Take a look at Mediaite link above.

And now I will end with an amazing image of this weekend’s Red Moon, a total lunar eclipse, what a beautiful picture:

This spectacular image by photographer Joseph Brimacombe shows the moon in a startling bl0od-red color this weekend during a total eclipse. The Universe Today explains the coloration this way:

The red tint of the Moon during an eclipse is caused by sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere, in effect projecting the colors of all the world’s sunsets onto the Moon’s near face.

Brilliant isn’t it?

We had an overcast night in Banjoville, so the view was obscured…but this picture is magnificent and I am so happy to share it with you!

That is all for me today, catch y’all later in the comments!

What are you reading and blogging about? Get to it!

(Wow, like Elaine, I went a little overboard with my exclamation points! Perhaps I should not use them so haphazardly…)


Wednesday Reads: Pole Reversal, Merging Tsunamis and Malicious Joy of Epic Proportions

Good Morning, there is new information about the Tsunami that struck Japan nine months ago. ‘Merging tsunami’ amplified Japan carnage

The massive tsunami generated by the March 2011 earthquake off the coast of northeastern Japan was a “merging tsunami” — a type of tsunami long thought to exist, but seen now for the first time, scientists report.

The magnitude-9.0 Tohoku-Oki temblor, the fifth-most powerful quake ever recorded, triggered a tsunami that doubled in intensity over rugged ocean ridges, amplifying its destructive power at landfall, as seen in data from NASA and European radar satellites that captured at least two wave fronts that day.

The fronts merged to form a single, double-high wave far out at sea. This wave was capable of traveling long distances without losing power. Ocean ridges and undersea mountain chains pushed the waves together along certain directions from the tsunami’s origin.

The data from the merging tsunami is helping scientist discover why a massive wave can cause so much destruction in one area, yet leave other areas relatively unscathed.

“It was a one-in-10-million chance that we were able to observe this double wave with satellites,” said study team member Y. Tony Song, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., who presented with team member C.K. Shum of The Ohio State University.

[…]

The researchers think ridges and undersea mountain chains on the ocean floor deflected parts of the initial tsunami wave away from each other to form independent jets shooting off in different directions, each with its own wave front.

USGS

Wave heights from the Japanese earthquake are displayed here.

The sea floor topography nudges tsunami waves in varying directions and can make its destruction appear random. For that reason, hazard maps that try to predict where tsunamis will strike rely on sub-sea topography. Previously, these maps considered only topography near a particular shoreline. This study suggests scientists may be able to create maps that take into account all undersea topography, even sub-sea ridges and mountains far from shore.

Let’s stick with Japan’s Tsunami a bit more…there has been some new articles about Fukushima lately. Dakinikat posted some updates the other day, at Mother Jones they have gathered a round-up of new information. There may be some items you have missed. Fukushima Fallout | Mother Jones

  • The Tokyo Electric Power Company estimates that of 45 tons of radioactive wastewater that leaked from the plant, some 40 gallons (150 liters)  leaked into the Pacific Ocean in recent days, reports the New Zealand Herald.
  • The Japanese milk-powder company Meiji, whose factory lies within 200 miles (320 kilometers) of the Fukushima plant, recalled 400,000 cans of baby formula after discovering 30.8 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilo in the product, reports the BBC. This level is considered within the safety range, though infants and children are more susceptible than adults to lower levels of exposure, and eating radiation is worse than external exposure. Until now, Meiji had been checking waterborne but not airborne radioactivity levels near their factory, reports the New York Times—hence the “new” findings.

Give that MoJo link a go and see a few more disturbing news items on the status of Fukushima nine months after the earthquake and tsunami.

Oh, and since the word fallout is fresh in your mind, did you hear the latest about Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona? Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Failed To Investigate Over 400 Sex Crimes, Including Molestations Of Undocumented Children | ThinkProgress

The AP reports that, over a three-year period ending in 2007, Arpaio “inadequately investigated” or in some instances didn’t even work more than 400 sex-crimes reported to his office. The cases “include dozens of alleged child molestations.”

In El Mirage, Arizona, where Arpaio provided contract services, he failed to follow through on at least 32 reported child molestations — with some victims as young as 2. Many of the children were undocumented immigrants. According to an El Mirage detective, Arpaio’s people essentially “put their feet on the desk, and that was that”

El Mirage Detective Jerry Laird, who reviewed some the investigations, learned from a summary of 50 to 75 cases files he picked up from Arpaio’s office that an overwhelming majority of them hadn’t been worked. That meant there were no follow-up reports, no collection of additional forensic evidence and zero effort made after the initial report of the crime was taken.

Of course, the fallout from this latest outrage is making a few headlines in the left leaning blogosphere. Arizona Outrage at Latest Sheriff Arpaio Fiasco, Calls for Resignation « SpeakEasy

In truth, reports on Arpaio’s extraordinary incompetence and oversight on sexual abuse cases have been well-documented for months — an ABC15 investigation earlier in the spring noted that “children who had the courage to come forward and say they were molested, raped or abused were simply ignored by Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office detectives.”

As part of a groundswell of outrage, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) called for Arpaio’s immediate resignation in a released statement today:

“This nothing-to-see-here attitude is the worst kind of unaccountable arrogance, and Mr. Arpaio needs to step down before any more damage is done to public confidence in our law enforcement and justice system,” Grijalva said. “The picture emerging — no follow-up, no investigation, no prosecution, no justice and a shield of silence after the fact — is not how we conduct law enforcement in this country. Enforcing laws against violent crime, whatever a victim’s legal status, is mandatory and not something we leave to individual communities as an open question. Selective enforcement undermines respect for our brave legal officers and is rightly not tolerated by the public.

“Mr. Arpaio might love headline-grabbing crackdowns and theatrical media appearances, but when it comes to the everyday work of keeping people safe, he seems to have lost interest some time ago. He should give the affected families a sense that justice is finally being done by taking the honorable route and resigning now.”

Arpaio is facing a federal court hearing on racial profiling and civil rights abuses…

Fox News is silent, a quick search on their website shows zero news reports about this extreme example of Arpaio’s continued racially motivated abuses. I know the lack of media coverage on this should not be such a shock, but we are talking over 400 sexual assault and abuse cases that were ignored specifically due to racism.

Moving on, because I am so inflamed about the Arpaio stuff, that I fear my fingers will melt the keys on the laptop as I type my disgust.

This year marks the last reunion for Pearl Harbor veterans in Hawaii…70 years since the attack, and many people who experienced it first hand are gone… Fewer Veterans to Remember Pearl Harbor Day – NYTimes.com

Hugh Gentry/Reuters

Emerie Aresenaul, front, with other Pearl Harbor survivors.

For more than half a century, members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association gathered here every Dec. 7 to commemorate the attack by the Japanese that drew the United States into World War II. Others stayed closer to home for more intimate regional chapter ceremonies, sharing memories of a day they still remember in searing detail.

But no more. The 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack will be the last one marked by the survivors’ association. With a concession to the reality of time — of age, of deteriorating health and death — the association will disband on Dec. 31.

“We had no choice,” said William H. Eckel, 89, who was once the director of the Fourth Division of the survivors’ association, interviewed by telephone from Texas. “Wives and family members have been trying to keep it operating, but they just can’t do it. People are winding up in nursing homes and intensive care places.”

Harry R. Kerr, the director of the Southeast chapter, said there weren’t enough survivors left to keep the organization running. “We just ran out of gas, that’s what it amounted to,” he said from his home in Atlanta, after deciding not to come this year. “We felt we ran a good course for 70 years. Fought a good fight. We have no place to recruit people anymore: Dec. 7 only happened on one day in 1941.”

The fact that this moment was inevitable has made this no less a difficult year for the survivors, some of whom are concerned that the event that defined their lives will soon be just another chapter in a history book, with no one left to go to schools and Rotary Club luncheons to offer a firsthand testimony of that day. As it is, speaking engagements by survivors like Mr. Kerr — who said he would miss church services on Sunday to commemorate the attack — can be discouraging affairs.

This reminded me of the The Civil War, and the moving images that were filmed of the reunions at Gettysburg. Here is the New York times article commemorating the last reunion of the Blue and Gray… at the 75th Anniversary of the Battle at Gettysburg. At the end of this post I’ve embedded a few videos that show film of the 75th  Anniversary Reunion of Gettysburg. The last one has the only recorded rebel yell…it is fascinating stuff. (Nope, does not sound like the Duke Boys at all, yeeeehaw.)

Two links left for y’all, some have heard about 2012 and the idea of the magnetic poles reversing in a rapid manner, causing chaos and destruction. The end of the world, unless you are lucky enough to get a seat on one of the “arks.” But scientist are saying that  Magnetic pole reversal not a sign of doomsday | Space | EarthSky

Scientists understand that Earth’s magnetic field has flipped its polarity many times over the millennia. In other words, if you were alive about 800,000 years ago, and facing what we call north with a magnetic compass in your hand, the needle would point to ‘south.’

A schematic diagram of Earth’s interior and the movement of magnetic north from 1900 to 1996. The outer core is the source of the geomagnetic field. Graphic Credit: Dixon Rohr / NASA

This is because a magnetic compass is calibrated based on Earth’s poles. The N-S markings of a compass would be 180 degrees wrong if the polarity of today’s magnetic field were reversed. Many doomsday theorists have tried to take this natural geological occurrence and suggest it could lead to Earth’s destruction. But would there be any dramatic effects? The answer, from the geologic and fossil records we have from hundreds of past magnetic polarity reversals, seems to be ‘no.’

This is a very meaty post, so the best thing to do is just click the link and read the rest of the article.

Alrighty then…we have come to the part about the malicious joy of epic proportions.

The Germans have a word for it, Schadenfreude.

Here is my take on it, you all have seen Antiques Roadshow…yes? Well it all started in England, and as an example of the kind of twisted humor the British are known for, the fans of the show in England don’t watch it for the high value finds some people have lying around their attics. They watch it for the gotcha moment, when someone has a priceless armoire, that would have been worth millions, if only they didn’t refinish it and take all that “ugly” patina off.  I put the ugly in quotation marks, because the malicious joy only gets better when it is revealed that the person knew they were going on Antiques Roadshow and refinished the item specifically to make it look nicer and worth more money.

So, in Japan this week, there was a chain reaction car pile up that makes my sadistic laugh bellow at the crash’s magnificence…

Video: Huge Ferrari pileup is world’s most expensive crash – Autoblog UK

No less than eight Ferraris were involved in a supercar pileup that could very well be the most expensive in history, in car damage terms.

A Lamborghini Diablo, a Nissan GT-R and three Mercs were involved in the bizarre smash on the Chugoku Expressway, south-west Japan, this weekend.

Only cuts and bruises are reported, but the damage is estimated at 3.9 million US dollars.

The accident was completely avoidable, it seems one driver got cocky and tried to overtake another vehicle…he lost control on the wet road (Yes, it was not the best of conditions anyway…) and slammed into the barrier, causing the car to bounce back into the traffic of luxury cars.

Picture gallery is at the link.

Well that is it, be sure to check out the videos below and have a wonderful Wednesday!


Saturday Night: A Little Bit of Good News

Japan Times:

SENDAI (Kyodo) The Japan Coast Guard managed to save a small brown dog Friday from a floating rooftop 1.8 km off Miyagi Prefecture, three weeks after a massive tsunami ravaged the northeast coast.

The team’s initial rescue attempt failed after the dog, perhaps scared by the hovering helicopter, jumped from the roof over to nearby driftwood.

A rescue boat with three guardsmen was then dispatched and succeeded in catching the pooch an hour later by using rescue stretchers.

The dog, which was wearing a black collar that had no indication of who its owner might be, was fed biscuits and sausages aboard the coast guard vessel and is behaving itself, the coast guard said.

How did he survive for three weeks surrounded by salt water? One suggestion: Perhaps with all the rain, perhaps the dog was able to drink rainwater that collected in spots on the house roof.

The dog was wearing a collar, so his rescuers will try to find his family.


This is an open thread, but I encourage you to share any heartwarming animal stories that you know about.


Japan, Libya Crises Contribute to Crushing Election Defeat for Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel

From NPR: Merkel Suffers Historic Defeat In German State

German chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have suffered a historic defeat in a state ballot after almost six decades in power there, partial results showed Sunday, in an election that amounted to a referendum on the party’s stance on nuclear power.

The opposition anti-nuclear Greens doubled their voter share in Baden-Wuerttemberg state and seemed poised to win their first-ever state governorship, according to calculations based on partial results published by public broadcaster ARD….

The Greens secured 24 percent of the vote, with the center-left Social Democrats down 2 percentage points at 23.2 percent, giving them enough form a coalition government in the state, the results showed.

Representatives of all parties said the elections were overshadowed by Japan’s nuclear crisis, turning them into a popular vote on the country’s future use of nuclear power, which a majority of Germans oppose as they view it as inherently dangerous.

The UK Telegraph explains:

Although overseeing a surging economy and falling unemployment, Mrs Merkel attracted withering criticism after she decided to reverse an unpopular decision taken last autumn to extend the lifespans of Germany’s 17 nuclear reactors.

Critics condemned the abrupt u-turn, and the decision to shut down seven of the oldest reactors pending a safety review, as blatant electioneering, claiming that Mrs Merkel hoped to capitalise from rising opposition to nuclear energy in Germany following the disaster engulfing the Fukushima reactors in Japan.

Libya was also an issue for voters:

the government’s refusal to support military intervention in Libya added to Mrs Merkel’s woes.

In comments echoing conservative disquiet with the decision Joschka Fischer, a former foreign minister, said Germany had lost “credibility” on the world stage and had blown its chances of getting a seat at the UN Security Council.

It’s interesting that many Germans apparently wanted to help the Libyan rebels, while so many “progressives” in the U.S. opposed the UN/NATO intervention because Libya is not of much strategic importance to the U.S. and because of the cost.

Germans saw Merkel’s unwillingness to support the intervention in Libya as an embarrassment that could prevent Germany from getting a seat on the UN Security Council.

Here in the U.S., progressives (IMO) missed the importance of the U.S. President making a decision that concurred with the wishes of most of the Arab world–might that not be a better use of our military resources than endlessly pouring them into Afghanistan and Iraq. Just my 2 cents…

Just a couple of quick updates–

Libyan rebels are marching toward Tripoli

The last time the rebels made it as far west as Bin Jawad, it ended in disaster: their fighters ran into a murderous ambush, lost 70 men, and were forced into a terrifying retreat that nearly ended their campaign.

But yesterday, after a stunning sweep across the territory for which they have fought so hard and for so long, they were back.

This time, with Western air power destroying almost all that is left of the regime’s armour and artillery, the mood was very different. The rebels’ eyes were cast towards Sirte, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s birthplace and the centre of loyalist resistance.

[….]

The shift in momentum is palpable. Rebels are now back in possession of the two key oil complexes of Ras Lanuf and Brega which handle a sizeable proportion of the 1.5 million barrels a day the country used to export before the uprising. The opposition’s provisional administration in Benghazi stated that Qatar, which had joined the Western coalition in sending warplanes to Libya, would be marketing the oil. However, restarting production will be extremely difficult until the return of the foreigners who ran the plants, but left after the uprising.

In Japan, a 6.5 magnitude aftershock triggered a new tsunami warning, and workers have again left the Fukushima nuclear plant because of dangerously high radiation levels. From the Independent:

It [earthquake and tsunami alert] came after emergency workers fled from one of Fukushima’s stricken nuclear reactors yesterday, after contaminated water in the cooling system was apparently found to be 10 million times more radioactive than normal, only for officials to later say that the reading might have been inaccurate.

The latest confusion in the battle to bring Japan’s nuclear crisis under control came as villagers near the plant complained that they were being kept in the dark over radiation risks.

The technician who took the reading at reactor No 2 yesterday was so alarmed by the numbers that the team fled the building before taking a second measurement. And later, a spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of the Fukushima plant, said: “There is a suspicion that the reading … is too high, so we are redoing our tests… We are very sorry for the inconvenience.”

Highly radioactive pools of water have formed inside all four of the damaged reactors, officials said. After previously downplaying fears of a serious breach in any of the reactors, Yukio Edano, the cabinet secretary and the face of the government throughout the crisis, said it “almost certainly” had happened.

The world is changing very rapidly, despite our government’s attempts to maintain the status quo. I wonder what dramatic news awaits us tomorrow?