Lazy Saturday Reads: Trump’s Epic Meltdown Continues

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Good Afternoon!!

Yesterday, Trump fan Chris Matthews devoted much of his 7PM Hardball program to praising Donald Trump’s supposed “modulation” of his “tone.” By the time the rerun of the program aired at 10PM, it was already obsolete. Trump had given a speech in Michigan in which he blatantly lied about the state’s economy and delivered more stunning insults to black voters while speaking to a nearly all-white audience. The Detroit News reports:

DIMONDALE — On his second visit to Michigan in two weeks, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Friday blasted Democratic policies he said have destroyed Detroit and other urban centers and called for African Americans to support him, saying blacks cannot expect change otherwise….

Trump’s remarks, however, seemed somewhat out of place, given that he was delivering it in a hall outside Lansing, halfway across the state from the Detroit. He also hammered away on a message than Michigan manufacturing is in the dumps, just days after Gov. Rick Snyder — also a Republican — noted that unemployment in the state has dropped to its lowest levels since the early 2000s.

“Your business and plants have been ripped out,” said Trump, who repeated earlier promises to stop manufacturing from leaving Michigan — even though auto jobs are up sharply since the depths of the 2007-9 recession….

Trump said “the Michigan manufacturing sector is a disaster,” and no sector has been hurt more by “Hillary Clinton’s policies than the auto sector,” statements which seemed to ignore that since the rescue of General Motors and Chrysler in 2008-9, auto manufacturing jobs in Michigan have grown from 22,800 to 38,200 and auto parts jobs also have grown, from 73,400 to 162,800.

Artist unknown

Artist unknown

Trump’s message to black voters:

“What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump?” he asked of blacks.

Trump noted that Detroit is the most violent city in America — a statistic he didn’t back up but Detroit does show up at or near the top of lists of major cities in terms of violent crime and murders — and said he could work changes on the city if elected. A recent EPIC-MRA poll reported by the Free Press last week showed Trump behind Clinton in Michigan by a margin on 85%-2%, with 10% undecided.

“It’s time to hold Democratic politicians accountable for what they have done to these communities,” Trump said. “At what point do we say enough?”

“I will produce for the African Americans,” he said. “All the Democrats have done is taken advantage of your vote. … You have nothing to lose.”

But that’s not all. Trump went off-script with these lovely remarks (h/t Slate):

“What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump?” he said. “What do you have to lose? You’re living in poverty; your schools are no good; you have no jobs; 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”

Never mind that Trump—who recently polled at 1 percent among black voters in a nationwide survey—was treating black people as a monolithic group of poor, unemployed people. His ad-libbed “what the hell do you have to lose” line sounded very much like Trump thinks he knows what’s better for black voters than they know for themselves….

There were other moments where Trump veered wildly off-script in a way that seemed absurd. Specifically, Trump said that he would not just win this election, but win re-election in 2020 with 95 percent of black voters supporting him—again, earlier this month Trump’s polling among black voters was somewhere between 1 and 4 percent.

“At the end of four years, I guarantee you that I will get 95 percent of the African-American vote,” he said. “I promise you, because I will produce for the inner cities and I will produce for the African-Americans.”

Darren Thompson

Darren Thompson

Cable news commentators are speculating that these disgusting remarks about black people are probably aimed at college-educated Republican women who have abandoned Trump in droves. I can’t imagine it will work.

Philip Bump responded to some of the charges made by Trump: It’s hard to imagine a much worse pitch Donald Trump could have made for the black vote.

Consider: Black Americans are not “living in poverty” as a general rule. A quarter of the black population is, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, about the same as the percentage of Hispanics. In Michigan, the figure is slightly higher. Most black Americans don’t live in poverty, just as most white Americans don’t.

Consider: The unemployment rate in the black community is higher than that in the white community, as it has been since the Department of Labor started keeping track. Among young blacks, though, the figure is not 59 percent — unless (as Politifact noted) you consider not the labor force butevery young black American, including high school students. Many young black high school students are unemployed. This isn’t a metric that Labor typically uses, for obvious reasons, but calculating the rates for young whites gives you about 50 percent, too.

Consider: Black voters are perfectly able to evaluate candidates on qualities other than their political parties. Black voters began supporting the Democratic Party heavily thanks to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Since then, they have consistently voted for the party — a party that is one-fifth black and which since 1964 has elected the vast majority of the black members of Congress. (This line of argument from Al Sharpton in 2004 is worth a read.) Democrats win the support of black voters consistently because those voters like the work that they do and like the fights that they fight.

When Barack Obama won reelection in 2012, 93 percent of black Americans thought he was doing a good job as president. That’s also the percentage of the vote he received, according to exit polls, beating Mitt Romney by 87 points.

And yet, somehow, Trump is doing worse.

Les Muses, Maurice Denis

Les Muses, Maurice Denis

There’s much more at the Washington Post link above. The gist is that Donald Trump is pathetically ignorant about the lives of African Americans.

Yesterday Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort resigned after being pushed aside in the latest campaign shakeup and after multiple revelations about his involvement with foreign leaders close to Russia. Politico has all the gory details: Inside the fall of Paul Manafort.

According to Politico, Manafort told Trump in early August that the stories coming out about his foreign consulting and lobbying would become a “distraction” and he wanted to come up with a new leadership plan just in case.

Although Manafort told associates that he thought he would be able to weather the controversy, his meeting with Trump nonetheless sparked internal discussions about changes to the campaign’s senior management structure. They included elevating pollster Kellyanne Conway, who had been brought onto the campaign last month, into a more senior role, and also officially bringing on Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon, who had been informally advising people around the campaign for months.

Still, Manafort associates said, he hoped he could ride out the storm and remain with the campaign until the end. That’s despite what the associates characterize as Manafort’s growing frustration with Trump’s unwillingness to embrace advice for a more scripted, measured tone and a greater reliance on more traditional campaign tactics.

But it quickly became clear that Manafort would have to go. More details about the crumbling mess of a campaign at the link.

Cocotte, reading, by Camille Pissarro

Cocotte, reading, by Camille Pissarro

There’s a federal investigation now, and it involves the Podesta Group, which is currently being run by Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s brother. Rosie Gray at Buzzfeed: Top Firms Lawyer Up In Ukraine–Manafort Lobbying Controversy

Two powerful Washington lobbying firms are engaging outside counsel after becoming embroiled in a controversy over undisclosed foreign lobbying by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy.

The situation concerns a period between 2012 and 2014, when the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs worked on behalf the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. The Brussels-based nonprofit is closely linked to the Party of Regions, the political party of Ukraine’s pro-Russian ex-president Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort and his associate Rick Gates connected the European Centre with the two firms, according to the AP, which also reported that Gates personally gave instructions to Mercury and Podesta Group employees in a lobbying effort on behalf of Ukrainian officials. At the time, Manafort and Gates were consulting for Yanukovych in Ukraine. The AP’s story showed that Manafort and Gates had acted as unregistered foreign agents, never disclosing their work for the Ukrainians to the Department of Justice, as is required under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Now, the Podesta Group is acknowledging that the European Centre may have been directed by the Party of Regions and has hired outside lawyers to advise on the situation.

“The firm has retained Caplin & Drysdale as independent, outside legal counsel to determine if we were misled by the Centre for a Modern Ukraine or any other individuals with regard to the Centre’s potential ties to foreign governments or political parties,” Podesta Group CEO Kimberly Fritts said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “When the Centre became a client, it certified in writing that ‘none of the activities of the Centre are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed or subsidized in whole or in part by a government of a foreign country or a foreign political party.’ We relied on that certification and advice from counsel in registering and reporting under the Lobbying Disclosure Act rather than the Foreign Agents Registration Act. We will take whatever measures are necessary to address this situation based on Caplin & Drysdale’s review, including possible legal action against the Centre.”

Much more at the link.

John L. Wellington

John L. Wellington

As Trump melts down, the media has tried to get voters outraged about “scandals” involving Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Clinton Global Foundation; but so far it’s not working very well. Trump’s high profile flame-out is getting most of the attention. There’s so much happening that I can’t possibly cover all of it, but here are a few more interesting links to check out.

NYT: In Maze of Trump’s Empire, Unknown Ties and $650 Million in Debt.

Sarah Kenzior at Quartz: Donald Trump’s bromance with Vladimir Putin underscores an unsettling truth about the two leaders.

Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul at the WaPo: Why Putin wants a Trump victory (so much he might even be trying to help him).

Ruth Marcus at the WaPo: Trump’s Sickening attacks on Clinton’s health.

Daily News Bin: Donald Trump goes to Louisiana flooding site, spends a minute handing out Play-Doh, leaves.

Buzzfeed: Trump Campaign Manager On Manafort: “He Was Asked” To Resign.

Politico: Republicans prep ‘break glass’ emergency plan as Trump tumbles.

Christian Science Monitor: Trump hands his campaign to the ‘alt-right’ movement.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great weekend!


Monday Reads: They are different from you and me …

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.”

from “All the Sad Young Men” published in 1926 by F Scott Fitzgerald

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Good Morning!

Half of the global wealth is held by the richest 1% in the world according to a recent Oxfam report.  A good deal of it is salted away in the world’s “treasure isles” or banking havens.  This is especially true for those wealthy despots that raid the treasuries of their countries.  The global elite tend to run in international circles and have a lot more in common with each other than the rest of the countrymen they grift.  I’m reminded of all of this as we continue to unravel the reality of the Trump Campaign which just seems to be yet another grab at more wealth and power using propaganda and lies.

The latest Trump scandal is a good lesson in this and it explains why Russian despots appear to be squarely in the middle of the US campaign for President.   We’re living through another shocking Gilded Age but where are the Trotskyites that bring down the Czars?  Where are the FDRs that moderate American excess with a New Deal?

It is certainly not within the camps of Trump and Paul Manafort. Yesterday, we learned exactly how twisted the tentacles get with this headline from The New York Times: “Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief”.  Is Manafort an unregistered Foreign Agent?  Is Donald Trump complicit or a dupe?

And Mr. Manafort’s presence remains elsewhere here in the capital, where government investigators examining secret records have found his name, as well as companies he sought business with, as they try to untangle a corrupt network they say was used to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections during the administration of Mr. Manafort’s main client, former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.

Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.

In addition, criminal prosecutors are investigating a group of offshore shell companies that helped members of Mr. Yanukovych’s inner circle finance their lavish lifestyles, including a palatial presidential residence with a private zoo, golf course and tennis court. Among the hundreds of murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.

9964ecd42dc22234e0cf0beafdc281ebAlso,this arrived to the Twitter feed yesterday along with a picture of Ivanka on vacation with Putin’s latest squeeze, the ex wife of Rupert Murdoch Wendy Deng.  Exactly how are Trump’s racists and working white groupies to take all this information?  You think a few banking execs on Wall Street want money and power?  That’s kindergarten rent-seeking compared to the company that Trump and Manafort keep.

The funny thing about all this is Deng is rumored to be dating frequently shirtless despot Vladimir Putin, who may or may not have authorized the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, and whom Donald Trump swears he has no financial tethers to, despite a new trove of evidence to the contrary. Here would be a good place for the thinking-face emoji, but I’d argue the Trumps know exactly what they’re doing. Tight stuff.

So, both are disturbing pictures of the kind of things that lead to conspiracy theories about shadowy global networks of bankers.  Only, this is a black ledger and unlikely to wind up in anything but an account in a Treasure Isle.  All $12.7 million of it.  We’ll be fortunate to find it among the Swiss Banks accounts.

The ledgers, discovered in the Party of Regions headquarters following the 2014 revolution that forced Yanukovych to flee to Russia, were given to investigators by Viktor Trepak, a former Ukrainian domestic intelligence official, Manzhura said. He received the documents from an undisclosed source.

The “black ledger” includes more than 20,000 line items, and investigators are sifting through the names, primarily seeking proof that government officials were receiving bribes. The agency cannot make indictments but must pass on any evidence to prosecutors, who can decide whether to file charges. Manzhura said that processing the list will take a long time, as will matching signatures to individuals and proving that money actually changed hands.

For investigators, she said, Manafort is not the priority.

“He’s not a Ukrainian government official, so taking into account the role and tasks of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, Paul Manafort is not the number-one priority to investigate on this list,” Manzhura said.

It did not appear that Manafort had signed the ledger himself, she added.

“The signatures against his surname probably don’t belong to him; they belong to other people,” she said, adding they may have been intermediaries. “So this information needs to be checked separately.”

The Times reported that Ukrainian officials are also investigating numerous offshore companies that allegedly funded the high-rolling lifestyles of Yanukovych and those close to him. The deals made by these companies include a multimillion-dollar plan to sell Ukrainian cable television assets that involved Manafort and a Russian oligarch who is close to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, though the Times reported that Manafort is not a target in the Ukrainian investigation of offshore companies.

Manafort is no stranger to controversy, controversial figures or global dealmaking. His friends have labeled him “the Count of Monte Cristo,” the hero of a 19th century novel.

So, will the Donald dump him or maintain that infamous Trump loyalty to the folks that are known to do the black deeds for him?  Manafort is vanderbilt_ag6denying the payments.

“Once again, the New York Times has chosen to purposefully ignore facts and professional journalism to fit their political agenda, choosing to attack my character and reputation rather than present an honest report,” Manafort said in a statement obtained by NBC News. “The suggestion that I accepted cash payments is unfounded, silly and nonsensical.”

The story comes a little more than a day after the Times published a story examining the internal struggles facing Trump’s campaign, a story that also elicited strong responses from the Republican nominee and his campaign.

It’s unclear if Manafort actually received payments, but prosecutors told the Times that Manafort “must have realized the implications of his financial dealings.”

But Manafort strongly denied that he ever received off-the-books payments or has done work with the governments of Ukraine or Russia.

“My work in Ukraine ceased following the country’s parliamentary elections in October 2014,” Manafort says. “In addition, as the article points out hesitantly, every government official interviewed states I have done nothing wrong.”

The Times story was retweeted by Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager and Manafort rival who was fired in June.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, Robby Mook, called the alleged connections between Manafort and members of pro-Russian factions troubling.

“Donald Trump has a responsibility to disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort’s and all other campaign employees’ and advisers’ ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities, including whether any of Trump’s employees or advisers are currently representing and or being paid by them,” Mook said in a statement.

Troubling indeed.  Meanwhile, the most likely Trump supporters who raise the likes of Trump up as some kind of hero, demonize the very poorest.  We really haven’t come very far from the Reagan Years when women with hard scrabble lives were made the center of all evil in the world.  Check out the comparisons of these surveys.818cf26c6d30ccf7df28a8cb060306b2

Sharp differences along lines of race and politics shape American attitudes toward the poor and poverty, according to a new survey of public opinion, which finds empathy toward the poor and deep skepticism about government antipoverty efforts.

The differences illuminate some of the passions that have driven this year’s contentious presidential campaign.

But the poll, which updates a survey The Times conducted three decades ago, also illustrates how attitudes about poverty have remained largely consistent over time despite dramatic economic and social change.

Criticism of the poor – a belief that there are “plenty of jobs available for poor people,” that government programs breed dependency and that most poor people would “prefer to stay on welfare” – is especially common among the blue-collar, white Americans who have given the strongest support to Donald Trump.

The opposite view — that jobs for the poor are hard to find, that government programs help people get back on their feet and that most of the poor would rather earn their own way — is most widely held among blacks and other minorities, who have provided the strongest backing to Hillary Clinton.

Roughly a third of self-described conservatives say that the poor do not work very hard, a view at odds with big majorities of moderates and liberals.

But while Americans disagree in how they view the poor, they’re more united in their skepticism of government programs.

0836eea97c4a66175d91643315240455This is perhaps why the Southern Strategy has worked almost too well.  It’s blasting through loud and clear in the work of Trump and his cronies.  Trump surrounds himself with Republican Ratfuckers.

It’s this mercenary value system that explains why Manafort has made a career out of advising monstrous dictators and conscienceless oligarchs. Manipulating people’s anger and insecurities into fear and rage has been his trademark for his entire career, which is why he could not care less about Trump’s negative influence on the body politic or his incitements to violence.

He doesn’t care about anything but winning, and if his ties to Putin can help Trump, he doesn’t care about the implications of that either.

Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.

In addition, criminal prosecutors are investigating a group of offshore shell companies that helped members of Mr. Yanukovych’s inner circle finance their lavish lifestyles, including a palatial presidential residence with a private zoo, golf course and tennis court. Among the hundreds of murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.

I don’t know how anyone can not be suspicious that Manafort might have something to do with the way pilferedDemocratic Party emails and text messages are being selectively released to do damage to Hillary Clinton for the benefit of Manafort’s newest client. The consensus among analysts and the intelligence agencies that Putin’s Russia is behind the hacking is very high, and obviously Trump believes it himself since he asked Russia to do more of it.

In any case, Manafort has been partnered up with folks like Charlie Black, Lee Atwater, and Roger Stone (the most notorious political ratf*ker of all time) for more than thirty years.

So, I give you one of the tangled webs woven by some of the most despicable people on the planet.  This explains why David Duke and Stormfront love the dude, but how do explain every one’s crazy uncle and cousin? And, how shiny are your bootstraps today?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Thursday Reads

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Good Morning!!

The top story in the news today is the supposed peace deal on Ukraine reached overnight. From The LA Times, Ukraine cease-fire deal reached after marathon talks.

After two days of hard negotiations, four European leaders have agreed on a cease-fire deal in eastern Ukraine, Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced Thursday.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Putin worked nonstop for seven hours Wednesday and for a few more hours Thursday before they arrived at a compromise to stop the violence.

“We agreed on a cease-fire that takes effect Sunday,” Putin said in a televised statement after the talks in Belarus’ capital of Minsk.  “The second position which I think is of extreme importance is the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the current front line for Ukrainian troops and the demarcation line agreed upon in the Sept. 19 Minsk agreements for the Donbass armed forces.”

Two regions of Donbass engulfed by the armed conflict will get wider special powers in the course of a constitutional reform yet to be conducted in Ukraine.

The Russian leader complained that the night of the talks was “not the best night of my life.”

But is the agreement real? Most commentators are skeptical. Forbes:

In the talking point of the hour, the newly agreed ceasefire offers a“glimmer of hope” for averting a full-scale interstate war and for cautiously deescalating Europe’s worst security crisis in a generation.

The Russia-Ukraine ceasefire, to be sure, is clearly a lot better than nothing. Given the failure of previous attempts on the part of Germany and France to mediate between Kiev and Moscow it’s clear that there very easily could have been no deal at all. One can quite easily imagine a scenario in which Putin and Poroshenko left that conference without signing anything and in which we’d all be one step closer to world war 3. It’s a small victory, but it is at least movement in the right direction. It even got the Russians to free Nadiya Savchenko, a fighter pilot captured by pro-Russian separatists and then sent to Russia where she is currently on trial for a litany of (largely fictitious) offenses

The problem with the ceasefire, however, is in the details. Probably the single most glaring deficiency is that it doesn’t actually start until Sunday the 15th. Until then, as far as I can tell from reading the relevant press reports, the two sides are free to blast away at each other until their heart’s content. For another few days, then, the status quo ante reigns much as it has for the past several months.

Another huge problem is that it is only after Sunday that both sides are supposed to remove their heavy weapons from the front line. And even after they start to remove these weapons, the agreement allows them a full two weeks to finish the process. Given the nastiness of the conflict to date, and its tendency to flare-up immediately after a lull, quite a lot of mayhem and destruction can happen between now and when the heavy weapons are finally removed to a safe distance.

Economist cover

At Business Insider, Michael B. Kelley writes: The new Economist cover says it all.

As Vladimir Putin engaged in marathon peace negotiations with Germany, France, and Ukraine in the capital of Belarus, Russian tanks were allegedly rolling into Ukraine.

So as a inherently flawed peace deal is in place, the circumstances surrounding the agreement say a lot more than the “glimmer of hope” provided by the latest compromise.

“The EU and NATO are Mr Putin’s ultimate targets,” The Economist writes. “To him, Western institutions and values are more threatening than armies. He wants to halt their spread, corrode them from within and, at least on the West’s fragile periphery, supplant them with his own model of governance.”

From Reuters via Business Insider, Ukraine: 50 Russian tanks and 40 missile systems rolled into the country while Putin talked peace.

About 50 tanks, 40 missile systems, and 40 armored vehicles crossed overnight into eastern Ukraine from Russia via the Izvaryne border crossing into the separatist Luhansk region, a Kiev military spokesman said on Thursday.

“The enemy continues to strengthen its forces in the most dangerous areas, especially in northeast Luhansk region and in the direction of Debaltseve,” spokesman Andriy Lysenko said in a daily briefing, referring to a strategic transport hub that has been the focus of heavy fighting in recent weeks.

He said the tanks and other military hardware had crossed the border “despite statements by Russian officials about the absence of Russian military equipment and forces on Ukrainian territory.”

Read the whole article at The Economist, Putin’s war on the West, and read more commentary at Bloomberg View, A Time Bomb Wrapped in a Ukrainian Peace Deal, by Leonid Bershidsky. Also at Bloomberg, a backgrounder: Standoff in Ukraine.

Follow me below the fold for more breaking news.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tuesday Reads

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Good Morning!!

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is topping the headlines today. The Obama administration announced this morning that it will send military troops to deal with the situation. Reuters Reports:

The United States announced on Tuesday that it would send 3,000 troops to help tackle the Ebola outbreak as part of a ramped-up response including a major deployment in Liberia, the country where the epidemic is spiraling fastest out of control.

The U.S. response to the crisis, to be formally unveiled later by President Barack Obama, includes plans to build 17 treatment centers, train thousands of healthcare workers and establish a military control center for coordination, U.S. officials told reporters.

The World Health Organization has said it needs foreign medical teams with 500-600 experts as well as at least 10,000 local health workers, numbers that may rise if the number of cases increases, as it is widely expected to.

Liberia is where the disease appears to be running amok. The WHO has not issued any estimate of cases or deaths in the country since Sept 5 and its Director-General Margaret Chan has said there is not a single bed available for Ebola patients there.

Liberia, a nation founded by descendants of freed American slaves, appealed for U.S. help last week.

A U.N. official in the country said on Friday that her colleagues had resorted to telling locals to use plastic bags to fend off the killer virus, for want of any other protective equipment.

Medecins Sans Frontieres, the charity that has been leading the fight against Ebola, said it was overwhelmed and repeated its call for an immediate and massive deployment.

More details from The Washington Post, U.S. military will lead $750 million fight against Ebola in West Africa.

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The president’s decision to enlist the U.S. military, whose resources are already under strain as it responds to conflicts in the Middle East, reflects the growing concern of U.S. officials that, unless greater force is brought to bear, the epidemic could wreak havoc on the continent….

Global health experts and international aid groups who have been urging the White House to dramatically scale up its response praised the plan as described. They have said charities and West African governments alone do not have the capacity to stem the epidemic.

The U.S. military, with its enormous logistical capability, extensive air operations, and highly skilled medical corps, could address gaps in the response quickly.

“This is a really significant response on the military side,” said Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of a book about the first Ebola outbreak in 1976 and another on the global public-health system. “This is really beginning to seem like a game-changer.”

But much depends on how quickly personnel and supplies can get there.

“The problem is, for every single thing we’re doing, we’re racing against the virus, and the virus has the high ground right now,” she said. “I would hope this would reduce transmission, but it’s all about how fast people can get there and get the job done. If it takes weeks to mobilize, the strategy won’t even be within reach.”

Unfortunately, according to Reuters India, <a href=”http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/09/16/health-ebola-spread-liberia-idINKBN0HB1CD20140916&#8243; target=”_blank”>it make take weeks or months for the operation to get up to speed</a>. For more background on the Ebola virus, you can read a <a href=”http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/qa.html&#8221; target=”_blank”>”questions and answers” page</a> at the CDC and a <a href=”http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/&#8221; target=”_blank”>fact sheet</a> at WHO.

For the past week or so, we’ve been talking quite a bit about the NFL’s domestic violence problem, and in recent days, we’ve focused on Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson’s indictment for beating and injuring his four-year old son. Yesterday we learned  that Peterson was also investigated in 2013 for causing head injuries and scars to another four-year-old son from a different mother but was not charged. According to ABC News, Peterson has five children, only one of who lives with him.

man and woman newspaper

As is usually the case with abusers, Adrian Peterson was also a victim in his childhood. Sadly, based on his public statements, Peterson has not yet accepted that what his parents did to him was wrong, and he has continued the cycle of violence with his own children. In fact, he has even praised his parents for the whippings they administered. From ABC News:

Adrian Peterson’s apology for the “hurt” he inflicted on his young son when he punished the boy with a switch was the result of the respect Peterson had for similar discipline his parents had applied to him.

The football star even praised his parents’ tough discipline in his statement today, saying that it prevented him from being “one of those kids that was lost in the streets.”

“I have always believed that the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man,” he said in a statement.

How bad was it? From USA Today, Whippings part of Adrian Peterson’s childhood.

PALESTINE, Texas — David Cummings and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson still talk about the frequent whippings Peterson’s father administered — and one whipping in particular.

Cummings says he and Peterson were leaving football practice while in middle school when Peterson’s father, Nelson, was waiting near the parking lot.

School officials had called Nelson Peterson to report that Adrian had been disruptive in class, recalled Cummings, who played football and basketball with Adrian Peterson during their youth and through high school.

“His dad asked what happened, and Adrian told him,” Cummings said.

With that, Nelson Peterson unstrapped his belt and whipped Adrian Peterson in front of more than 20 students, Cummings said.

Imagine how humiliating that must have been! But Peterson had to suppress his anger at this mistreatment in order to survive in his violent family. Peterson also experience severe childhood trauma, according to ABC News.

When Peterson was 7, he witnessed a drunk driver fatally hit his 9-year-old brother while he was riding his bike. More recently, Peterson’s half brother was fatally shot in Houston in 2007 shortly before the NFL draft.

He told USA Today that when he was 13, his father was sentenced to 10 years in jail after selling crack cocaine for a drug ring and getting caught on drug laundering charges. Visits to the Texarkana Federal Correctional Institution and regular letters kept the pair close, but family friends remembered his father Nelson as “a firm disciplinarian.”

troops reading news

USA Today interviewed Peterson’s childhood friend David Cummings about the corporal punishment their parents used when they were growing up.

PALESTINE, Texas — When Adrian Peterson got whippings as a child, it often involved an assignment: Go find a “switch,” a tree branch that would be used to inflict the punishment.

David Cummings, one of Peterson’s longtime friends in their hometown of Palestine, Texas, tookUSA TODAY Sports on a tour of the wooded area near their homes. Switch heaven. Or, depending on your perspective, switch hell.

“It wouldn’t be a shock to be seen anywhere to get a switch,’’ he said.

But the prime spot were the two trees in the frontyard of Cummings’ family home, across the street from the split-level red brick home where Adrian spent many weekends with his father and grandmother. During the tour, Cummings tugged a branch off the one of the trees and sized it up.

“You’re going to get a bruise from it more than likely,’’ he said.

Oh, and Cummings said they gladly found their switches in light of the alternative: get whipped with a stinging, leather belt.

Unfortunately, Peterson has carried the cycle of violence into the next generation, inflicting abuse on his own children. He needs serious therapy, but first he needs to break the denial and admit that what he experience is child abuse and it is wrong.

Child abuse obviously is not just an African American thing, but I found this interesting op-ed at NOLA.com by Jarvis DeBerry on corporal punishment in black culture, Where did black folks learn of whippings, and why are they still a thing?

When I saw the news that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had been arrested for whipping his young son with a switch, I immediately thought of a 1998 feature story by Washington Post writer Deneen L. Brown.  It’s called “A good whuppin?” Editors at The Washington Post thought of it, too. When I did a search for Brown’s story after the Peterson arrest, I happily discovered that her feature story is now on the newspaper’s website.

Better than anybody else I’ve seen, Brown gives a history of corporal punishment in African-American communities. She also does a good job explaining how stories of a “good whuppin'” become the best-told stories of our adulthood.

But there’s another reason the story has always lodged in my head: In doing her research about this kind of punishment, Brown talks to a chair of the department of Afro-American Studies at Howard University who says that black people did not bring this kind of punishment over from Africa. He asserts that black people learned it here.

“There is not a record in African culture of the kind of body attack that whipping represents,” that scholar told Brown for her 1998 report. “The maintenance of order by physical coercion is rare in Africa.”

The belief is that black people began whipping their children out of fear that the overseers and masters would whip them worse. If so, it’s easy to empathize with parents who made that choice.  But if those parents inflicted the same punishment that the slave master would have inflicted, how is that punishment a good thing? Is there a difference between a hateful beating and a loving one? Does the latter feel less painful than the former? Does the skin heal differently?

There’s much more. Read it all at NOLA.com.

crowds-of-people-clustered-in-the-streets-reading-news-about-the-markets-11-dive

Here are a few more links to check out, if you’re interested. I need to wrap this up before it gets too late or WordPress decides to wipe out this post again.

I haven’t read all of this yet, but I thought it looked really interesting. From Collectors Weekly, Women Who Conquered the Comics World, by Lisa Hix.

Scotland will vote on independence from Great Britain on Thursday, and England is pulling out all the stops to get them to vote “no.”

The New York Times, London Repeats Offer of New Powers if Scotland Votes No on Independence.

The Independent UK, David Cameron delivers emotional plea for Scotland to stay.

An update on the child sexual abuse scandal in Britain from the New York Times, Police Chief Quit Over Child Abuse Scandal in English Town.

On the Ukraine crisis, The BBC reports, Rebels granted self-rule and amnesty.

USA Today, U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State in Iraq

NBC News, Ray Rice Isn’t Alone: 1 in 5 Men Admits Hitting Wives, Girlfriends.

Advertising Age, Radisson Suspends Vikings Sponsorship Over Peterson Charges.

Io9, Schizophrenia is Actually Eight Distinct Genetic Disorders.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday!


Lazy Saturday Reads

Dans la Prairie, Claude Monet

Dans la Prairie, Claude Monet

Good Morning!!

I’m going to begin with some light-hearted stories from the NATO Summit. I really liked this one from BBC News, When the Nato summit came to south Wales. After all the ugly attacks on President Obama from both Republicans and Democrats here in the U.S., I was pleasantly surprised to see the warm welcome he received in South Wales. Check it out. There are some nice photos and tweets. I especially liked the expression on Obama’s face while he interacted with some schoolchildren (see below).

From the article:

It takes something pretty unique for the word “Newport” to be trending in Cardiff on Twitter.

But the city had arrived when its larger neighbour was talking about it. The world of social media woke up early for the Nato summit.

The summit certainly kept Twitter busy and it might explain – apart from the 9,500 police officers, road blocks and security fencing – why the streets of the capital were generally quiet and people were staying at home, online.

Obama wales

In Newport itself, the sight of armoured vehicles being displayed on the Celtic Manor golf course was a popular shared photo. Just think of the score if Europe had these in the Ryder Cup?

It was a demonstration of the high skills of the south Wales workforce who manufacture them, but the skills of those with Photoshop was also in evidence.

The summit also brought some unusual sights on the streets – and in the air – with Cardiff in particular not used to such a security operation. And there were also some special moments, not least for pupils at a primary school in Newport.

From the Boston Globe, some video of President Obama strolling through Stonehenge, looking awestruck.

After wrestling with threats ranging from Russia to Islamist insurgency in the Middle East, U.S. President Barack Obama took a break from a NATO summit to visit Britain’s prehistoric Stonehenge monument on Friday. “How cool is this?” Obama said as he wandered starry-eyed in his shirt sleeves among the towering stone megaliths.

Silly me, I like having a President who says things like “How cool is this?” Here’s a great shot of him among the standing stones, from NBC News.

Obama stonehenge2

 

And from The Daily Mail, ‘We should have invited him back for coffee’: Family-of-five tell of shock meeting with President Obama during trip to Stonehenge following NATO summit.

A mother has told of her shock after her family-of-five had a chat with President Obama during a trip to Stonehenge – but that she now wishes she had invited him back for coffee.

Inspired by rumours that the President’s helicopter had landed at the ancient site, Janice Raffle and her husband James marched across fields with their three sons in the hope they would catch a glimpse of the US President.

At first the family, who live a mile from the monument, were stuck at a fence. But a good-natured Obama wandered over to where they were standing – and even agreed to pose for a family photo.

Mrs Raffle, 35, who was with her three sons, aged two, six and seven, told Sky News: ‘He waved at us first after my husband marched us all the way there on the chance we might get to see him.

‘We kind of edged closer and closer until he noticed us and waved. We waved back and then one of the high security men edged us forward and he was moving forward at the same time, which was very exciting.

‘The first person to say something was actually James. He said “Welcome to England”.

Lots of photos at the Daily Mail link.

Adolphe Monet Reading in the Garden, Claude Monet

Adolphe Monet Reading in the Garden, Claude Monet

Getting back to potential WWIII news, The Washington Post reported last night: Ukraine cease-fire begins, amid doubts that it will last.

Ukraine’s increasingly bloody conflict went on hold Friday, after the government and pro-Russian rebels signed a cease-fire deal that at least temporarily solidified the insurgents’ territorial gains.

The agreement, made with the Kremlin’s endorsement, appeared to be a first step toward the type of dormant conflict that Russia has exploited to exert control over former satellites in the decades since the Soviet Union’s collapse, including thwarting their chances of joining the NATO defense alliance.

With rebels making swift gains across eastern Ukraine this week, and preparing to seize the key industrial port city of Mariupol, it seemed that Ukrainian authorities felt they had little choice but to push for a halt to hostilities. The rebels turned the tide of battle early last week after receiving heavy backing from Russian ­forces, Kiev and its Western allies say. The Kremlin denies aiding the rebels.

The cease-fire deal was made as leaders of NATO countries gathered in Wales this week for discussions focused on the conflict. The terms of the deal underscored Russia’s apparent willingness to commit far more resources than the West to achieve its aims in Ukraine. Kiev has asked for Western military aid, but relatively little has been forthcoming, in part because of Western caution about getting pulled into a proxy military conflict with Russia inside a non-NATO-member nation.

A Woman Reading, Claude Monet

A Woman Reading, Claude Monet

This one is disturbing from The Daily Beast, Russia Steps Up Pressure on the Baltics.

An officer from the Estonian Internal Security Service (ISS), “was abducted at gunpoint at Luhamaa border checkpoint this morning” and “taken to Russia,” according to an Estonian government statement.

The incident comes at an extremely delicate moment, just as the United States and NATO try to convince the front-line members of the Alliance that have solid protection from Russian territorial ambitions. The sleight-of-hand invasion of non-NATO Ukraine over the last several months has raised fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin will claim in the Baltic States, just as he claimed in Crimea and the Donbass region, that the large Russian-speaking population needs to be protected, separated and inevitably annexed to a reconstituted Russian Empire.

The Estonian statement implied the alleged abduction is an intentional slap in the face to the Americans. “The incident comes two days after a visit to Estonia by U.S. President Barack Obama and in the middle of NATO’s summit in Wales,” it said. Apparently there have been “airspace violations” reported as well, including over Finland, which is not a member of the Alliance.

The whereabouts of the officer remain unknown, the Estonians did not name him and what he was doing at the border, precisely, has not been specified except to say he was performing his official functions. The ISS is Estonia’s national agency for counterintelligence and high-profile corruption investigations.

What is Putin playing at? It takes some gall to abuct a government official from a NATO country on the heels of the NATO Summit.

Monet Reading, August Renoir

Monet Reading, August Renoir

The New York Times’ Jason Horowitz on Governor Vaginal Probe, For Bob McDonnell, a Miscalculation at the Scene of a Blunder.

On Aug. 15, 2013, Bob McDonnell visited the site of one of Virginia’s great tactical blunders.

As part of his final official tour of the state as its governor, Mr. McDonnell went to Ball’s Bluff State Park in Leesburg, where more than 150 years ago a Union army scout crossed the Potomac River and mistook a row of trees for an unguarded Confederate camp. The next morning, Union soldiers approached the trunks and branches and soon found themselves surrounded by well-armed Mississippi infantrymen. By the end of the skirmish, Confederate soldiers had killed nearly half of the Union troops, many of them pushed off the bluff and into the Potomac.

Even by the time of his visit, Mr. McDonnell seemed likely to enter the state’s history books for his own bad judgment — accepting extravagant gifts and generous loans from a Richmond businessman seeking favor from the governor’s office. On Thursday, the ink dried when a federal jury found him guilty on 11 counts of conspiracy, bribery and extortion.

At Ball’s Bluff last year, Mr. McDonnell announced $2.2 million in grants for battlefield preservation. As he sat in sunglasses on a white folding chair, James Lighthizer, the president of the Civil War Trust, said that ultimately Mr. McDonnell would be most remembered for conserving Civil War battlefields. “He has done more for battlefield preservation than any other governor in the United States of America,” Mr. Lighthizer said.

It looks like Lighthizer was wrong. McDonnell will most likely be remembered–if at all–as the first VA governor to be a convicted felon and for throwing his wife under the bus to try to save himself.

And from Chris Cillizza, a nomination for “the best front page on the Bob McDonnell verdict.” See it at the link. I wasn’t able to copy the photo.

A couple more good articles on McDonnell:

From The Daily Beast, The Religious Right’s ‘Nice Guy’ Who Threw His Wife Under the Bus.

When Bob McDonnell burst onto the national scene in 2009, he was everything the Republican Party needed—a good-looking family man who stopped the Obama juggernaut in its tracks in the swing state of Virginia just 12 months after the party’s McCain humiliation of 2008.

A family-values social conservative (he got his JD from Regent University), McDonnell cleverly wooed Commonwealth voters with his corn-dog “Bob’s for Jobs” campaign slogan and a heavy dose of what appeared to be the TV-perfect brood: five gorgeous kids, including a daughter who served in the military in Iraq, and a devoted, smiling wife who had once been a Washington Redskins cheerleader.

McDonnell’s family was emblazoned on his campaign bus and commercials. At the inaugural ball after he won the governor’s race, the McDonnells slow-danced to “Looks Like We Made It.” McDonnell had even written his master’s thesis on the breakdown of the American family and ways the Republican Party could build it back up. “As the family goes, so goes the nation,” he wrote.

Underlying the entire McDonnell package in 2009 was a known truth about the governor among political operatives who knew him and believed in him—that unlike the divas and the bullies and the egomaniacs who litter both political parties today, Bob McDonnell was just a good guy. Staff called him “Mr. Honest.” Republicans in Washington called him “the Boy Scout.”

Hilarious! I wonder if any of these religious right nuts believe the crap they try to sell to voters?  love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning.

Schadenfreude

And from Rob Boston at Talk to Action, Fall From Grace: What The Religious Right Should Learn From The McDonnell Scandal.

Leaders of Religious Right groups are fond of telling us that if we elect more fundamentalist Christians to office, we’ll have less corruption. Biblical literalists must be more ethical, right?

That claim is looking a little thin in light of recent events in Virginia. Yesterday, Robert F. McDonnell, the state’s former governor, was found guilty on 11 counts related to public corruption, conspiracy and bribery. His wife, Maureen, whom this “family values” politican tried willingly to throw under the bus, was found guilty on nine charges….

Here’s how McDonnell tried to institute “godly rule” in Virginia:

When state officials decided that police chaplains should use non-sectarian prayers at public events, McDonnell rescinded the order. McDonnell’s obsession with blocking access to legal abortion earned him the nickname “Gov. Ultrasound.”  He drew up new rules allowing tax-funded “faith-based” adoption agencies to deny services to anyone who failed to meet a strict theological litmus test. He signed a law mandating that public colleges in Virginia give funding to student groups even if they discriminate on religious grounds. McDonnell appointed a private school voucher advocate as education secretary and shifted funding for sex education from comprehensive programs to “abstinence-only” approaches that critics say are often anchored in religion.

McDonnell also pushed for a state constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage (which was later approved by the voters) and even appeared on Robertson’s “700 Club” to lobby for it. McDonnell told a beaming Robertson, “From the Garden of Eden to 2006, we’ve believed that marriage is between a man and a woman. But because of some social trends out there and some court decisions, Pat, as you know, marriage is under attack.”

Based on the religious right’s record of choosing “sinful” candidates like Newt Gingrich, David Vitter and their worship of “divisive extremists like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Bryan Fischer, Tony Perkins, Ben Carson, Sean Hannity” and their embrace of grifters like Ralph Reed and Dinesh D’Souza, Boston writes:

I’d recommend they start by consulting their own holy book – you know, the one they’re always happy to bash us with. Specifically, they should examine the 7th chapter of the Book of Matthew and the words of Jesus: “Why do you look at the speck of dust that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?…You hypocrite! First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

But the religious right really doesn’t pay much attention to the New Testament. They seem to prefer the angry fire and brimstone god of pre-Jesus days.

Extremely rare white lobsters

Extremely rare white lobsters

A few more links you might find interesting:

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Court rules against Wisconsin’s, Indiana’s gay marriage bans.

The New York Daily News, Exclusive: Ex-Prez’ daughter Jenna Bush Hager mistakenly registered with NY’s Independence Party  (Breaking: neither of Dubya’s daughters is a Republican.)

The Guardian, Monet landscape found in late German collector’s suitcase. (Stolen by the Nazis?)

Oregon Live.com, Oregon wolf OR-7: Lab tests show mate wandered far to find him (a touching love story, with photos).

Two tales of albino animals, both from Boston.com:

Captured albino cobra taken to Los Angeles Zoo.

Extremely Rare White Lobsters Found Off Maine Coast.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great weekend!


Thursday Reads: They Shall Be Released

Bob Dylan reading3

Good Morning!!

President Obama is meeting with other NATO leaders in Newport, Wales today, and the focus of meetings will be Russia’s encroachment into Ukraine and how to deal with it. The Christian Science Monitor reports: NATO members gather in Wales with Russia at the top of the agenda.

Russia faced harsh criticism at the start of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Wales today with the 28 member state alliance reevaluating its security role in Europe amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance continues to witness “Russian involvement in destabilizing the situation in eastern Ukraine” even after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a seven-point peace plan. Russia maintains it has not armed rebels in eastern Ukraine or contributed to the conflict there.

Early reports from the summit suggest NATO leaders are set to agree to create “rapid reaction” forces that could be deployed in less than two days to regional crisis spots. Countries close to Russia, especially Poland, have called for NATO to permanently station troops on their territory, but Reuters reports this is unlikely to happen because it would break a 1997 agreement the alliance made with Russia.

As the Monitor reported, the creation of rapid response forces wouldthrust the United States into the center of any future conflict.

Terrific. Supposedly, Russian president Vladimir Putin in proposing a cease-fire, but he’s offering few specifics. From The New York Times: Putin Lays Out Proposal to End Ukraine Conflict.

Mr. Putin’s peace plan, jotted out during a plane ride over Siberia, muddied the diplomatic waters, leaving the West an excuse for delaying punitive sanctions that would also hurt European economies on the verge of a new recession. And it was expected to have some appeal to war-weary Ukrainians.

The ultimate effect, coming after Russian troops intervened in Ukraine last week to beat back a successful government offensive, may be to leave the country as a loose coalition that Moscow could still dominate, which critics of the Russian president say is his real aim.

It is being called a “seven-point plan,” but according to the Times,

Mr. Putin’s plan seemed to raise more questions than it answered. First, there was no mechanism for implementation. Second, just hours earlier, his own spokesman had repeated the Russian position, widely criticized as implausible, that Moscow could not negotiate a cease-fire because it was not a direct party to the conflict.

Analysts suggested that Mr. Putin’s strategy is to convince Kiev that it must negotiate, not fight, and to reinforce the idea that the overall outcome depended on Moscow.

“Russia wants to show that it is in command of what is happening,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of a prominent Russian foreign policy journal. “For Russia, it is important first to prevent the Ukrainians from thinking that they could win militarily, and to accept the separatist leaders as partners in negotiations.”

A few more headlines and opinions:

Al Jazeera: NATO summit to highlight unity against Russia.

Wall Street Journal: As Leaders Meet for NATO Summit, Alliance Says Russian Troops Still Active in Ukraine.

Foreign Policy: NATO’s Make or Break Moment (opinion).

Bloomberg: NATO Shifts Aim From Waterloo to East as Russia Menaces (opinion).

newspaperwoutwater

European Central Bank News

The European Central Bank’s Mario Draghi finally decided to try to do something about Europe’s horrible economic situation. From the NYT: European Central Bank to Start Asset Purchases After Further Rate Cut.

FRANKFURT — Bolstering a surprise interest rate cut on Thursday, the European Central Bank will soon begin buying packages of bank loans in an effort to stimulate lending in the faltering eurozone economy.

The move is unprecedented, but appears to fall short of the broad, large-scale asset purchases advocated by many economists to prevent stagnation in the eurozone.

The central bank said that in October it would begin buying asset-backed securities, bundles of loans issued by banks to businesses and households. The central bank will also buy covered bonds, Mario Draghi, the E.C.B. president said. Covered bonds are similar to asset-backed securities, in that they also are made up of bank loans.

Perhaps more significantly, Mr. Draghi said that the central bank’s governing council was ready to take further measures if needed — a clear reference to quantitative easing, or broad-based purchases of government bonds or other assets.

Mr. Draghi did not say how much the central bank would spend buying asset-backed securities and covered bonds, adding that there was not yet enough information on the size of the market. He said the central bank would buy existing and new assets including residential and corporate loans. He said the purchases would be “significant,” if still short of a level considered quantitative easing.

More headlines:

CTV News: European Central Bank trims key interest rate to record low.

Marketwatch: U.S. stocks open up after ECB rate cut.

Bob Dylan reads5

Ferguson Civil Rights Investigation

As we heard yesterday, the Justice Department will likely announce today that it is launching a civil rights investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department.

From The Washington Post: Justice Dept. to probe Ferguson police force.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. this week will launch a broad civil rights investigation into the Ferguson, Mo., Police Department, according to two federal law enforcement officials.

The investigation, which could be announced as early as Thursday afternoon, will be conducted by the Justice Department’s civil rights division and follow a process similar to that used to investigate complaints of profiling and the use of excessive force in other police departments across the country, the officials said.

The federal officials said the probe will look not only at Ferguson but also at other police departments in St. Louis County. Some, like Ferguson, are predominantly white departments serving majority-African-American communities, and at least one department invited the Justice Department to look at its practices. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the pending inquiry.

The investigation is in addition to a Justice Department probe into whether Officer Darren Wilson, who fired the fatal shots, violated Brown’s civil rights. The new probe will look more broadly at whether the department employed policies and practices that resulted in a pattern of civil rights violations.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that five current and one former member of the Ferguson police force face pending federal lawsuits claiming they used excessive force. The lawsuits, as well as more than a half-dozen internal investigations, include claims that individual officers separately hog-tied a 12-year-old boy who was checking his family mailbox, pistol-whipped children and used a stun gun on a mentally ill man who died as a result.

More from The New York Times: Justice Dept. Inquiry to Focus on Practices of Police in Ferguson.

Ferguson’s police chief, Thomas Jackson, said in an interview on Wednesday night that he would welcome the investigation.

“We’ve been doing everything we can to become a professional police department and a professional city,” he said. “We have no intentional policies or procedures which discriminated or violated civil rights. But if we have anything there which may unintentionally do that, we need to know about it.”

Chief Jackson said he met with Justice Department officials on Wednesday afternoon and discussed the broader investigation. “Obviously, we have gaps. And any help we can get to help fill those gaps and to make ourselves stronger, we welcome,” he said.

What a crock of sh&t that is! I’ll just bet Jackson is thrilled about the Justice Department probe into his joke of a police force. Wouldn’t you love to hear what he’s saying privately?

In the Ferguson case, the Justice Department will conduct what it calls a “pattern or practice” investigation, with officials looking for evidence that the police have repeatedly violated residents’ civil rights. Such inquiries have been one of the Justice Department’s preferred tactics in addressing accusations of police misconduct.

dylan reads2

Rabid Bobcat Attacks 

Here’s a strange story I came across yesterday in The Boston Globe: Rabid Bobcat Spent Labor Day Weekend in Conn. Attacking People.

What’s worse than stumbling upon an angry bobcat on your nightly walk with your newborn daughter? Stumbling upon an angry, rabid bobcat on your nightly walk with your newborn daughter.

That’s what happened to Summer and Tom Berube last Sunday. The Lebanon, CT, couple were taking their evening walk with their infant daughter, Neeve, when a bobcat approached them.

According to NECN, the bobcat hissed and ran towards Tom, who was carrying his baby. Tom yanked a mailbox out of the ground and used it to defend his family, knocking the animal down when it leapt at him. Summer, meanwhile, said she “was just screaming at the top of my lungs for help.”

That help soon came from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which had already been alerted to the presence of an aggressive bobcat in the area. On Saturday, a woman in the neighboring Connecticut town of Bozrah was attacked by a bobcat while feeding her chickens. She was scratched and bitten, but quickly taken to a local hospital for treatment. If caught early enough, a postexposure vaccination prevents the disease from spreading.

I had no idea there were bobcats running around in New England, but according The Hartford Courant,  although sightings are rare, “Bobcats are common in Connecticut and are found in every town. They can weigh as much as 40 pounds, but rarely interact with people and rarely have rabies, DEEP said.”

Bob+Dylan+and+The+Band

They Shall Be Released

Maybe you’re wondering why I’ve illustrated this post with photos of Bob Dylan. In 1968, I bought a two-record album in a plain white cover that was being sold by a street hawker in Harvard Square. I learned this morning from Wikipedia that it was known as “The Great White Wonder,” but either I didn’t know that then or I’ve forgotten. The recording was a bootleg of Bob Dylan’s so-called “basement tapes,” recorded in Woodstock, NY, with backup from The Band. Later, in 1975, a selection of the songs they had recorded was released as a studio album.

Anyway, the basement tapes are back in the news, because they are all going to be released as a 6-CD set.

The Guardian reports: Bob Dylan to share full Basement Tapes.

Bob Dylan is sharing the rest of his Basement Tapes. Four decades after the singer released 24 songs under that title – cuts he recorded with the Band in upstate New York – his label have agreed to unveil 114 more tracks from the same 1967 sessions.

“Some of this stuff is mind-boggling,” Sid Griffin, author of the set’s liner notes,told Rolling Stone. Packaged under the title The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, the six-CD set incorporates alternate versions of Blowin’ In The Wind and It Ain’t Me Babe, covers of tunes by Johnny Cash and Curtis Mayfield, and at least 30 tracks that Rolling Stone claims “even fanatical Dylan fans never knew existed”. A shorter, two-disc compilation, The Basement Tapes Raw, will present 12 of the unreleased tracks alongside the original LP.

Almost all of this material was harvested from reel-to-reel tape: 20 tapes in all, which the Band’s Garth Hudson kept stored in his Woodstock home. Jan Haust, a Toronto-based collector, acquired the archive about 10 years ago; he worked with Dylan’s reps to find a way to put them out. Although a few tapes were allegedly missing, and a handful of recordings “just [sounded] like a distortion”, everything else is making its way to the public. “We usually curate these packages more, but we knew the fans would be disappointed if we didn’t put out absolutely everything,” an unnamed Dylan source told Rolling Stone.

Fans of The Basement Tapes have always known that there was unreleased material. There have been several expanded, bootleg editions over the years, and musicians have even turned their attention to Dylan’s unreleased Basement Tapes-era lyrics. Earlier this year, T Bone Burnett collaborated with Marcus Mumford, Elvis Costello and others to record their own versions of his incomplete songs. “The stuff that people haven’t heard justifies, in every way, shape and form, all the hype, hubris and myth that surrounds these tapes,” Griffin promised.

USA Today has published a list of all the songs on the album to be released in November.

So . . . what else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a tremendous Thursday!


Lazy Saturday Reads

Tree Brooklyn

Good Morning!!

 

Yesterday, Slate published a piece by Ruth Graham that started a minor controversy on Twitter and various blogs. Graham argued that adults should be ashamed to be caught reading books written for the Young Adult (YA) audience. Graham writes:

The once-unseemly notion that it’s acceptable for not-young adults to read young-adult fiction is now conventional wisdom. Today, grown-ups brandish their copies of teen novels with pride. There are endless lists of YA novels that adults should read, an “I read YA” campaign for grown-up YA fans, and confessional posts by adult YA addicts. But reading YA doesn’t make for much of a confession these days: A 2012 survey by a market research firm found that 55 percent of these books are bought by people older than 18. (The definition of YA is increasingly fuzzy, but it generally refers to books written for 12- to 17-year-olds. Meanwhile, the cultural definition of “young adult” now stretches practically to age 30, which may have something to do with this whole phenomenon.)

The largest group of buyers in that survey—accounting for a whopping 28 percent of all YA sales—are between ages 30 and 44. That’s my demographic, which might be why I wasn’t surprised to hear this news. I’m surrounded by YA-loving adults, both in real life and online. Today’s YA, we are constantly reminded, is worldly and adult-worthy. That has kept me bashful about expressing my own fuddy-duddy opinion: Adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature written for children.

Graham has no problem with adolescents reading these books, but she thinks adults should focus on reading “literary fiction,” because “Life is so short, and the list of truly great books for adults is so long.”

I’m not one of the demographic that reads the new YA books, but I do love to escape into detective stories and I know many adults who enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy. In essence, what Graham’s is arguing against is so-called “genre fiction.” Her article made me want to rush out and buy a couple of Harry Potter books. The idea that anyone should be shamed for reading something that gives them pleasure really rubbed me the wrong way; and the notion that adults should avoid reading for pleasure–what Graham characterizes as “escapism, instant gratification, and nostalgia.” Her real problem with YA lit is that it is specifically designed to be give pleasure.

Reading tree

Of course I was not alone in my reaction to Graham’s essay. There were a number of excellent responses. Here’s Hillary Kelly from The New Republic: In Praise of Reading Whatever the Hell You Want: Don’t let Slate make you feel ashamed for reading books that you love.

One evening when I was 11 years old, lifelong friends of my parents came to our house for dinner. As the youngest child, I was the only one left at home to sulk on our living room floor and listen to adult chatter that I neither understood nor cared about. But the couple, Bob and Nancy, were thoughtful enough (and had witnessed my boredom enough) to bring me something to keep me occupied: a book, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

I won’t gush too long and too hard about how that novel affected me, how I felt Francie Nolan’s injustices, how romantic I found her fire escape reading perch, how I reveled in the fact that Francie was a reader like me. It’s enough to say that I lovedin fact, lovethat novel. I reread it about once a year.

In the intervening years, I’ve only found about a half dozen “young adult” books that I’ve enjoyed and found fulfilling. I will reread the Harry Potter books over and over until the day I die. I haven’t come close to picking up The Fault in Our Stars. I found The Hunger Games books clumsy and absurd. Don’t get me going on The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I rarely, if ever, seek out YA lit. It just (usually) isn’t my thing. But that doesn’t mean that the Ruth Graham piece Slate published Thursday, titled “Against YA: Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children,” has any merit whatsoever. In fact, Graham fundamentally misunderstands and mislabels the entire genre, and sends a ridiculous message that any reader should rebel against: “Adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature written for children” (itals hers).

You should never be embarrassed by any book you enjoy. And you certainly shouldn’t let some woman you’ve never met make you feel inferior for reading beneath your grade level.

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As a young girl, I also read and loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I’ve never been tempted to go back and reread it, but I have reread other children’s books over the years–even books written for younger children. I’ve reread and cried over The Wind in the Willows, and I’ve often thought about rereading A Girl of the Limberlost and Laura Igalls Wilder’s “Little House” books, which I adored. I’ve reread Huckleberry Finn numerous times, each time getting more adult insights from it. Another book that I’ve reread several times with pleasure is The Hobbit.

There’s actually an even more practical argument against Graham’s premise that *real* reading should be a *very serious* endeavor. It’s very important for young children to develop a joy in reading–to learn to read for pleasure (pdf). Apparently this is something that is more recognized in the UK at the moment then here, where the focus is on testing and “Common Core standards.”

From the Guardian: How to encourage students to read for pleasure: teachers share their top tips.

The big challenge for teachers is not simply getting students to read – it’s getting them to enjoy it too. It’s one thing for students to trudge through set texts in a lesson, but will they open another book when they get home at the end of the day?

The National Literacy Trust has noted that becoming a lifetime reader is based on developing a deep love of reading.

“Research has repeatedly shown that motivation to read decreases with age, especially if pupils’ attitudes towards reading become less positive,” it said. “If children do not enjoy reading when they are young, then they are unlikely to do so when they get older.”

For younger readers in particular, their home environment is critically important.

“Home is a massive influence,” says Eleanor Webster, a primary school teacher in Nottinghamshire. “Supportive and understanding parents are key to developing their child’s reading.”

Here are a few more responses to the Graham piece if you’re interested:

Rachel Carter at The New Republic: I Write Young Adult Novels, and I Refuse to Apologize for It.

Alyssa Rosenberg at The Washington Post: No, you do not have to be ashamed of reading young adult fiction.

Kat Kinsman at CNN: Grownups: Don’t be ashamed of your YA habit.

Mark Shrayber at Jezebel: Hey, Everyone! Read Whatever the Fuck You Want.

 

Now a few newsy reads:

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Have you heard about the edible pot controversy in Colorado? A few days ago Maureen Dowd wrote about the bad trip she took on a pot-infused candy bar, and the discussion went viral. Poor MoDo didn’t heed the warnings about not eating the whole thing at one sitting. From The Boston Globe: Maureen Dowd Eats Pot Candy in Denver, Breaks Internet.

As Dowd tells it, she legally purchased a caramel-chocolate flavored edible, ate it in her Denver hotel room, washed it down with some chardonnay, and then waited. About an hour later, the effects of THC set in, and the result was not good:

I strained to remember where I was or even what I was wearing, touching my green corduroy jeans and staring at the exposed-brick wall. As my paranoia deepened, I became convinced that I had died and no one was telling me.

The high lasted eight hours. EIGHT.

Dowd’s conclusion is that pot candy needs to be better labelled. Newbies to the drug should only eat about 1/16 of the kind of bar she ate, according to a medical consultant at an edibles plant she interviewed. Her candy wrapper had no mention of recommended servings, she wrote.

The tour guide who escorted Dowd around said she was warned. It’s not clear if she was told the recommended serving size.

According to The Cannabis, Matt Brown, co-founder of tourism company My 420 Tours, accompanied Dowd as she purchased the edibles at a Denver dispensary. He said she “got the warning” about how edibles affect everyone differently.

I have to admit, I’m a little concerned about pot-infused candy. What if kids get ahold of it? — and inevitably they will. There’s also the man who killed his wife after eating some of the candy and smoking a joint. The Hershey Candy Company is also perturbed and they’re suing: From Boston.com:

DENVER (AP) — The Hershey Co. has sued a Colorado marijuana edibles maker, claiming it makes four pot-infused candies that too closely resemble iconic products of the chocolate maker.

The trademark infringement lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver this week against TinctureBelle LLC and TinctureBelle Marijuanka LLC.

It alleges TinctureBelle’s Ganja Joy, Hasheath, Hashees and Dabby Patty mimic Hershey’s Almond Joy, Heath, Reese’s peanut butter cups and York peppermint patty candies, respectively.

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At Pando Daily, Mark Ames is continuing to follow the international adventures of Glenn Greenwald’s boss Pierre Omidyar. Two weeks ago, he revealed Omidyar’s role in supporting and profiting from the election of India’s new fascist government: REVEALED: The head of Omidyar Network in India had a secret second job… Helping elect Narendra Modi. He followed up last week with this: eBay Shrugged: Pierre Omidyar believes there should be no philanthropy without profit.

The role of Omidyar Network in so many major events of the past week — helping elect India’s ultranationalist leader Narendra Modi; co-funding Ukraine regime-change NGOswith USAID, resulting in a deadly civil war and Monday’s election of Ukrainian billionaireoligarch Petro Poroshenko; and now, this week’s first-ever sit-down TV interview with Edward Snowden, through an arrangement between NBC News and Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media — shows how these contradictions are coming to the fore, and shaping our world.

Omidyar’s central role in the US national security state’s global agenda may still come as a shock to outsiders and fans of First Look media’s roster of once-independent journalists. But to White House foreign policy hawks, Pierre Omidyar represents the new face of an old imperial tradition.

And this week, Ames wrote: Just as we predicted, India’s new leader is about to make Pierre Omidyar a lot richer.

Well that was fast. Two weeks ago, we reported that eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s top man in India had secretly helped elect controversial ultranationalist Narendra Modi, implicated by Human Rights Watch and others in the gruesome mass killings and cleansing of minority Muslims. As we also revealed, shortly after Omidyar’s man publicly joined the Modi campaign in February, Modi suddenly began warming up to the idea of letting global e-commerce companies into the world’s third largest economy. Omidyar’s eBay, which draws the majority of its revenues from overseas operations, has been champing at the bit to get into India.

Now, just weeks after Modi’s election, it seems their prayers have been answered.

Today, Reuters is reporting that Modi is planning to open India up to global e-commerce firms like eBay next month, and that Modi’s industry minister has been drawing up the new guidelines with input from top eBay officials, along with their e-commerce counterparts from Google, Amazon, Wal-Mart and others.

I wonder how all this ties in to Omidyar’s purchase of the Snowden data through Greenwald and Laura Poitras?

In a recent post, I mentioned that there has been a new arrest in the Boston bombing case. A friend of the Tsarnaev brothers, Khairullozhon Matanov, was arrested in Quincy, MA, last week and charged with obstruction of the bombing investigation. AP reported recently that Matanov had wired large amounts of money to people overseas. AP via The Daily Mail: Revealed: Boston bombing suspect’s friend wired $71,000 to people in six countries, as judge rules he should remain in jail.

A friend of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev wired more than $71,000 to people in six countries and used fake names several times for the transactions – including while Tsarnaev was on a pilgrimage in Russia, according to prosecutors.

Khairullozhon Matanov, 23, is accused of deleting computer files and lying to agents investigating the 2013 bombings, which killed three and injured more than 260.

Prosecutors accuse the immigrant from Kyrgyzstan of a ‘pattern of deceit’ in dealing with authorities as they investigated the bomb attacks.

At a detention hearing, Matanov waived his right to seek release on bail. His lawyer said Matanov has no family here, lost his job as a cab driver after his indictment last week and has nowhere to go if he were released.

Curiouser and curiouser.

I’ll end with three links to interesting and helpful reads on the Bowe Bergdahl controversy.

Think Progress: Did Sergeant Bergdahl Desert The Army Or Did The Army Desert Him?

Reuters: Bergdahl reveals the impossible choices faced by hostages’ families.

NYT Editorial Board: The Rush to Demonize Sgt. Bergdahlgen

I hope you’ll find something worth reading in my suggestions. What are you reading and blogging about these days? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread.