Morning, news junkies.
Chris Hedges ushered in 2011 by calling it a brave new dystopia. For a brief moment in time, the Egyptian and Wisconsin protests provided a glimmer of “there’s something happening here,” but then we were returned to our regularly scheduled dystopic nightmare. I don’t know about you, but lately I’m finding that the actual headlines these days sound more satirical than the ones in the Onion. They leave me either wanting to lolsob…or just sob. So, on that note…
Above, to the right… from National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel:
This photo of sailboats at sunset has us yearning for the sea, which makes it an Editors’ Pick for week one of our 2011 Traveler Photo Contest in the category of Outdoor Scenes. The photographer Ken Michael Jon Taarup writes, “Boracay has never ceased to amaze many people from all over the world. With its white crystal sand, pristine blue waters, and beautiful sunsets, this place still tops the list of the most visited and beautiful resorts in the Philippines.”
That’s so you have something calming to visualize while you read my Saturday picks.
Alright, grab your morning cuppa if you haven’t already, and read on.
Let’s just get the biggest distraction out of the way first…
- William and Kate are married. You can now call them Duke and Duchess. That’s all I’m going to cover on that.
Tornado aftermath: Pictures say a 1000 words
- via the Columbia Missourian, PHOTO GALLERY: Tornado damage in Alabama. The photo of the woman carrying her clothes away while looking down at what used to be her home says so much, so simply. Also, via the Mobile Press-Register, Alabama tornadoes: Epic scenes of disaster across state (photos, video)
- In case you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a facebook page called “Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes” trying to help victims find their belongings. Here’s a CNN report on it.
“Depressing women’s history news of the week”
- via Historiann, Roe v. Wade lawyer Sarah Weddington to be fired from adjunct position at U. Texas. Way to not Hook ’em, Horns.
- Pro-choice, defined. This one is a real barn-burner, though it’s sad that in the year 2011, the pro-choice position has to be spelled out to both Republicans AND Democrats:
Being pro-choice means understanding that self-determination for women regarding sex, sexuality, reproduction and motherhood is a fundamental precursor to womens’ ability to achieve their own educational, economic and familial aspirations, a fundamental precursor to the health and well-being of individuals and families, and a core condition of the long-term stability and health of society. It therefore also means understanding the profound connections for women–supported by more than ample evidence–between economic and educational status and unfettered access to comprehensive sexual health education, contraception, family planning services, and abortion care.
The War on Unions… now brought to you by Dems in MA?
The bill will take a month before coming to the state Senate, but the overwhelming vote in the House, and [Gov.] Patrick’s kinder, gentler rights-stripping plan, make it look like something’s going to happen in Massachusetts. Time to get out in the streets in another blue state.
- Solidarity forever. WI State Journal/Capital Times… Fight Songs: Musicians take a stand to support Wisconsin protests, quoting RATM guitarist Tom Morello:
“I’ve played at hundreds of protests and demonstrations, and this was really unique,” he said. “It was every segment of society. It was radical students and cops on the same side, and I’d never seen that before.”
- The otherwise serious and reliable Laura Rozen overreacted a bit to Hillary taking a few days of Easter R&R time off with her family. There’s a reason Hill was dubbed the “Energizer Secretary.” The woman works non-stop. She has a personal life that she’s entitled to attend to and/or just recharge every few years or so.
- Sean Penn spotted at Foggy Bottom on Thursday. Rozen says one reason for his visit to the State Department might be his recent humanitarian work in Haiti.
- Hill pic of the week — Women in power pow-wow: Hillary and Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa met on Friday:
When Bushies fight… Get out your popcorn
- Via yahoo’s The Ticket, Condoleezza Rice fires back at ‘grumpy’ Donald Rumsfeld:
First of all, I didn’t have modest experience in management. Managing Stanford University is not so easy. But I don’t know what Don was trying to say, and it really doesn’t matter. Don can be a grumpy guy. We all know that.
As always, Black Agenda Report tells it like it is…
- This is an instant classic! Please read and disseminate. Bruce A. Dixon’s Top Ten Answers To Excuses For Obama’s Betrayals and Failures. Note Number 9 — it’s for all the Obamaphiles who won’t accept that Obama is the third Bush-Cheney term. And, to quote a snippet from Numero Uno (Re: “It’s our fault the Obama presidency hasn’t kept its commitments. We need to ‘make him do it.’”):
You cannot make a US president do what he fundamentally doesn’t want to. Michelle Obama is nice to look at, but she is no Eleanor Roosevelt. Franklin Roosevelt used to publicly bask in the hatred of wealthy banksters. Barack Obama’s dream is mostly not to piss off rich people.
- For more on the atrocities of Bush-Cheney III, give BAR’s April 25th podcast a listen. In the first segment BAR’s Glen Ford interviews Labor Notes editor Mark Brenner, who sees no growth and no jobs on the horizon and says:
“Absolute disaster for working folks. If we follow the Ryan plan or if we follow the Obama plan, none of it spells good news for the rest of us.”
- In another segment, Clarence Thomas, former Local 10 union secretary-treasury, says “what one needs to understand is that this is not simply an attack on public sector workers, it is also an attack on public services.” Thomas says the goal is to put labor back where it was before the New Deal, noting that it is a corporate and rightwing agenda in which “the Democratic party is complicit.”
The ongoing crackdown on dissidents: Syria, China
- Friday was Another bloody day of rage in Syria (via Rozen/Envoy):
In response to the brutality of the crackdown, President Barack Obama signed an executive order today instituting sanctions against the Syrian intelligence agency and two of Assad’s brothers, a White House official confirmed. Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council voted in Geneva today to condemn the Syrian crackdown.
“The [Executive Order] is a watershed,” Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Envoy. “This is the first time an Assad has been designated by the [U.S. government], and the first time the USG has issued an EO on human rights in Syria. Until a few months ago Human Rights was a distant fifth on our list of issues with Syria. Now it’s emerged as the center of our policy.”
- Melissa Chiu, director of the Asia Society Museum in NY, in a special to CNN about detained Chinese artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei: A dangerous mix of art and politics. See also FP’s slideshow on the detention of Weiwei and others.
- China’s DDoS attack on Change.org after petition backing Weiwei went viral; Stacy at SecyClintonBlog: “The silence from the administration is deafening.”
- Nick Kristof, Great Leap Backward. Teaser:
Ms. Cheng was arrested on what was supposed to have been her wedding day last fall for sending a single sarcastic Twitter message that included the words “charge, angry youth.” The government, lacking a sense of humor, sentenced her to a year in labor camp.
Timeout: Art break
- Did you know this much intricacy could be created by the art of creasing? Check out this slideshow of Simon Schubert’s folded paper artwork. There are some gorgeous interior pieces in there!
We’re about halfway through, so click to read the rest… Read the rest of this entry »
Good morning, political junkies!! Let’s get right to the news.
President Obama gave a speech last night in which he made a pretty good case (IMO) for U.S. limited intervention in Libya. He stated that there were not going to be American boots on the ground and that the U.S. is essentially finished with its part of the operation–it will be up to the UK, France, and Italy to police the no-fly zone and to the Libyan people to depose Gaddafi and decide what comes next.
Surprisingly, Obama was a bit more animated than usual–actually emphasizing points with his voice and at times appearing almost passionate. At least the speech didn’t start to put me to sleep until the last several minutes.
Obama indicated that the U.S. will continue to support efforts to set up a functioning government in Libya, but that will be a non-military effort. If he stands strong with that, I think he’s finally done something I agree with and can support.
Obama also argued that just because we can’t intervene in every conflict doesn’t mean that we should never intervene at all. We have to choose our battles, and in the case of Libya we had a dictator who was using his military–and his air power to kill his own citizens indiscriminately. If he had managed to attack Benghazi he might have murdered hundreds of thousands of people.
Furthermore, Libyans had asked for our help, and our action was supported by other Arab countries and by the Arab League. For once the U.S. was doing something that most Arabs wanted us to do. If we had not acted, we would have seen an atrocity take place, and that would have encouraged dictators in other Arab countries to crack down violently on protesters.
Here is the full text of the speech, if you are interested. I do think Obama went on too long after making the case for Libya. The speech would have been much better if he had done that and then wrapped it up.
I must say, I do not understand the criticisms of this Libya policy that I’m seeing in the progosphere, and from some people here at Sky Dancing. Maybe I’m nuts, but I think the U.S. finally had a chance to do something good with its massive military power and at the same time we get some good PR in a part of the world that has long hated us–with justification because we have enabled most of the tyrants in the region. I’m glad Hillary was able to convince her boss to do the right thing.
I want to call attention to some very knowledgeable people who agree with my assessment–and we do appear to be in the minority.
Thomas Ricks was on Monday’s edition of NPR’s Talk of the Nation. He said that he was struck by how many people either aren’t listening to what Obama, Clinton, and Gates are saying or they are discounting it out of hand.
Ricks said that these three are saying that the U.S. goals in Libya have already been achieved. The rebel forces are knocking on the door of Tripoli, thanks to the no-fly zone and some strategic bombing by the coalition countries. As Obama said last night, it is now up to Libyans to decide what to do with Gaddafi. We aren’t going to try to take him out.
Here’s what Ricks wrote on his blog after his appearance on Meet the Press with Gates and Clinton:
I was on Meet the Press yesterday, following Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates. I was struck at how frequently they emphasized the short-term, limited nature of the U.S. action in Libya, and how they used the past tense to discuss it:
Gates: “I think that the no fly zone aspect of the mission has been accomplished.”
Clinton: “I think we’ve prevented a great humanitarian disaster.”
Gates: “we see our commitment of resources actually beginning to — to decline.”
Gates: “in terms of the military commitment, the president has put some very strict limitations in terms of what we are prepared to do.”
Gates: “I don’t think it’s [Libya] a vital interest for the United States. But we clearly have interests there. And it’s a part of the region, which is a vital interest for the United States.”
I also was struck at how much more assertive Clinton seemed than Gates. A friend of mine calls this “State’s War.”
Ricks also blogged about his take on Obama’s speech: Obama on Libya: Watch out, Saudi Arabia
What we saw in the NDU speech was a logical defense of what the president has ordered the military to do and an exposition of what the limits of the action will be. The cost of inaction threatened to be greater than the cost of action, but now we have done our part. Next role for the U.S. military is best supporting actor, providing electronic jammers, combat search and rescue, logistics and intelligence. That was all necessary, and pretty much as expected.
But I was most struck by the last few minutes of the speech, when Obama sought to put the Libyan intervention in the context of the regional Arab uprising. He firmly embraced the forces of change, saying that history is on their side, not on the side of the oppressors. In doing so he deftly evoked two moments in our own history-first, explicitly, the American Revolution, and second, more slyly, abolitionism, with a reference to “the North Star,” which happened to be the name of Frederick Douglass’s newspaper. If you think that was unintentional, read this.
Hmmm…I totally missed that. Follow me below the fold…
Today is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. The AFL-CIO blog has an excellent post up to commemorate this tragic anniversary. Here is a bit of it, but I suggest you read the whole thing if you can find the time.
When word got out two weeks ago that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had ordered the windows of the state Capitol building bolted shut during the ongoing protests against his attacks on public employees, it was a chilling reminder of a similar action by the employers of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory.
Nearly 100 years ago to the day of Walker’s order—which he rescinded after public outrage—146 workers, mostly young immigrant girls, jumped to their deaths from the 10-story building, unable to escape a fire because factory foremen had locked all the doors. The owners, Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, worried the workers would steal from the company.
Hyman Meshel worked on the eighth floor. When the rescue crew found Meshel, who was still alive,
the flesh of the palms of his hands had been torn from the bones by his sliding down the steel cable in the elevator, and his knuckles and forearms were full of glass splinters from beating his way through the glass door of the elevator shaft.
Thirty dead bodies clogged the elevator shaft. All were young girls. Among the many victims, the New York Times reported the day after the disaster, were two girls:
charred beyond all hope of recognition, and found in the smoking ruins with their arms clasped around each other’s necks….
In Greenwich Village, relatives of victims marched in a procession to honor those who died so tragically–as well as those who managed to survive
Rosie Weiner, one of 146 victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, was only 19 when she died.
“She jumped from the ninth floor window. According to reports, she was holding her friend Tessie Wisner’s hand,” said Suzanne Pred-Bass, Weiner’s great-niece.
Pred-Bass was one of hundreds marching in a procession from Union Square to the scene of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Another of her great-aunts, Rosie’s 17-year-old sister Katie, somehow survived that day 100 years ago.
“She grabbed the cable, really so courageously, of the last elevator to leave the ninth floor and saved herself. It was really remarkable,” said Pred-Bass.
Annie Springsock, then 17 years old, also survived. Her granddaughter, Eileen Nevitt, came from California to pay tribute to her and the historical impact of the fire.
Today, as we watch Republicans do everything in their power to destroy unions, remove safety regulations, and cut off funding for regulators, we need to remember what happened on that awful day 100 years ago. We can’t give up the fight. We must stand together against these politicians and their war on workers.
This is an open thread.
Yes, folks, it’s going viral! Indiana House Democrats have emulated Wisconsin Democratic Senators and leave the state rather than vote on a draconian anti-union bill.
Seats on one side of the Indiana House were nearly empty today as House Democrats departed the the state rather than vote on anti-union legislation.
A source tells The Indianapolis Star that Democrats are headed to Illinois, though it was possible some also might go to Kentucky. They need to go to a state with a Democratic governor to avoid being taken into police custody and returned to Indiana.
The House came into session twice this morning, with only three of the 40 Democrats present. Those were needed to make a motion, and a seconding motion, for any procedural steps Democrats would want to take to ensure Republicans don’t do anything official without quorum.
With only 58 legislators present, there was no quorum present to do business. The House needs 67 of its members to be present.
Indiana Government Mitch Daniels, who has completely unrealistic presidential aspirations tried to laugh off the Democrats’ strategy.
downplayed the boycott and the labor protests and laughed off suggestions that he might send the state police to pick up Democrats, some of whom left the state to escape their jurisdiction.
The right-to-work bill would prohibit Hoosier companies from entering into contracts requiring employees either to join a union or pay union dues or fees.
The bill would have a dramatic impact on teachers.