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 »
The Libyan government claims she has been released and is staying with her sister in Tripoli. But al-Obeidi’s parents say she is still being held in Gaddafi’s private residence. Her mother also says that al-Obeidi has been offered a bribe to change her story.
The mother of Eman al-Obaidi said she received a call from an unidentified person purportedly representing the regime, the parents told Al Jazeera news.
The caller asked the family to tell Ms al-Obaidi to change the rape claim in return for her freedom and benefits, including a house or money, according to the victim’s mother.
Aisha Ahmad, who lives in the rebel-held eastern town of Tobruk, told The Washington Post she had passed on the request to her daughter, who had rejected it.
“I am very happy, very proud,” said Mrs Ahmed.
Iman al-Obaidi, a 26-year-old law student in Tobruk, was held last week after she burst into a Tripoli hotel where foreign journalists are staying and told them of the attack.
“Film me, film me, show the whole world what they did to me,” Miss Obaidi had screamed, as she was dragged off by security guards.
Musa Ibrahim, the Libyan government’s spokesman, said Miss Obaidi has been freed, “but the prosecution is still questioning her to determine the circumstances (of her claim).”
So if government agents are questioning her, are they doing it at Gaddafi’s palace or in her sister’s home? Is the sister al-Obeidi is supposedly staying with the same sister her was used by the Libyan government to smear her? <a href="“>From the Guardian story:
…a man claiming to be her cousin told Reuters that Obeidi was targeted by authorities after taking part in a protest in the west of the country during the initial days of the uprising against Gaddafi.
Wadad Omar said his cousin worked for a tourism company in Tripoli and was detained along with three other women who took part in the protest as they returned to the Libyan capital.
The government also used Obeidi’s sister to denounce her publicly, Omar said: “(Obeidi’s) sister went on television to say her sister is crazy. Muammar wants to prove to the world that she is insane. She (the sister) is certainly under pressure from the government.”
If it is the same sister, how can we be sure that al-Obeidi wants to be with her or that she is safe from further attacks or even torture?
There are reports that either four or five men have been arrested in the case, one of them the “son of a high-ranking official.”
Today protesters in Benghazi organized a rally in support of Iman al-Obeidi.
Following disturbing pictures of Ayman Al Abidi that hit the TV airwaves in Benghazi almost 24 hours after the alleged incident, there was outrage in this rebel capital. Men and women held a rally in support of her and marched towards the courthouse in Benghazi. “We are very sad for this and no will accept what happened,” said a Libyan protestor.Many people in Libya are concerned about her situation and they say that is just a glimpse of what they’ve been facing for decades.
Several doctors say they have found Viagra tablets and condoms in the pockets of dead pro-Gaddafi fighters, alleging that they were using rape as a weapon of war.
They say they have been treating female rape survivors who were allied with pro-democracy forces.
At the Financial Times, Charles Clover, one of the journalists who tried to help Iman al-Obeidi and was knocked down and kicked by Libyan security men for his trouble, writes about his experience:
Ms Obeidi said she had been arrested at a checkpoint on Salahidin Street in Tripoli “because I am from Benghazi”, and then held and repeatedly raped by 15 soldiers over two days.
Hearing the disturbance, a group of waiters and waitresses came over and tried at first to soothe her, then, when that did not work, to shut her up.
Suddenly a melee broke out between journalists and hotel staff. A group of athletic leather-jacketed men barrelled in and began throwing us around the room, chasing Ms Obeidi around the restaurant and finally putting a coat over her head. Many of the journalists at the Rixos jumped into the fray, trying to protect her, but it was a battle we were certain to lose.
Cameras were smashed and one journalist was punched in the face. I ended up wrestling for my Dictaphone, getting thrown down and kicked.
Clover has been told that he is “no longer welcome in Libya,” but he believes that the incident in which he was a bit player is a real tipping point.
All the careful efforts of the Libyan government to nurture their parallel reality were demolished that day. The hired mobs, the theatrical set pieces designed for foreign press consumption, and the alleged civilian casualties of the allied air campaign for which we have been shown little evidence – they all came crashing down, because of one woman’s bravery and desperation.
The questions remains: where is Iman al-Obeidi now? According to Anderson Cooper,
A group of lawyers and human rights activists tried to approach her sister’s house Monday, but were blocked by security forces. Al-Obeidy’s sister’s mobile phone has apparently been turned off, a source with the Lebanese opposition in Tripoli told CNN. And no one has seen the sister since the incident at the hotel.
Journalists and human rights activists much continue their demands to talk to al-Obeidi. She must not be disappeared by Gaddafi’s storm troopers. She is a living symbol of what Libyan rebels are fighting for–freedom of movement and association, freedom to speak truth to power, freedom to control one’s own body.
Yes, I know women are not treated equally in Arab cultures. Guess what? We aren’t treated equally here either. We need to stand up and fight for our rights just as this “lone, brave woman,” — as Charles Clover referred to her — fought for hers. And we must stand with her now and demand that she be freed and returned to her family.
I’ve been trying to post this most of the day. It seems WordPress had a dashboard outage. That outage made it impossible for us to get to any thing beyond what was already on the front page. Earlier this evening, ability to comment completely disappeared. I’ll try to get this out in short order. Hopefully, we’ll be back to normal now.
South Dakota continues its assault on women. Fetus fetishists continue to believe that setting up any and all road blocks will discourage women from exercising their right to abortion. Women in South Dakota must now wait 3 days prior to the procedure. The only thing this really does it make it extremely difficult for women in rural areas to get to clinics. Some need to travel miles and don’t have resources to pay for places to stay for that number of days. They also have to leave jobs and families to sit around and wait.
Women who want an abortion in South Dakota will face the longest waiting period in the nation — three days — and have to undergo counseling at pregnancy help centers that discourage abortions under a measure signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
Within minutes of Daugaard’s announcement that he had signed the measure, abortion rights groups said they plan to file a lawsuit challenging the measure, which one said could create particular hardships for women who live in rural areas hundreds of miles from the state’s only abortion clinic in Sioux Falls.
Daugaard, who gave no interviews after signing the bill, said in a written statement that he had conferred with state attorneys who will defend the law in court and a sponsor who has pledged to raise private money to finance the state’s court fight. Officials have said estimated the cost of defending the law at $1.7 million to $4.5 million.
This is nothing more than harassment. It’s hard to imagine any sane person wanting to live in a state that doesn’t believe you’re capable of making an adult decision without the state lecturing you, creating hurdles for exercising your constitutional rights, and inserting itself into your doctor’s ability to do the job. This is outrageous.
Meanwhile, religious fanatics in Washington not only want to stop access or slow down access to abortion, they want to defund Title X family planning funds. These funds have been in place since the Nixon years (1970) and are used to provide access to family plan, basic care, and birth control for poor women, men, and children. These funds allow state programs under Medicaid and private providers to get services to poor people. The funding has been shown to help women off welfare. Even some Republican Senators have been appalled by this attempt to force childbearing on any one without the means to fund pregnancy prevention. It also creates a public health issue because of the role these funds play in treating and prevent STDs.
House Republicans have sought to eliminate all federal grants and contracts with Planned Parenthood, some $300 million, because the agency provides abortion services. By law, none of the federal money can be used to pay for abortions, but abortion-rights opponents have argued that any financial support for Planned Parenthood frees up other money that could be used for abortions.
The argument comes as part of an ongoing budget fight: Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have been unable to agree on a budget to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year; Congress has recently passed two short-term stopgaps to allow more time to reach a long-term deal.
Racist, anti-choice propaganda has outraged many students at Princeton. The Christian right stops at nothing to further its radical agenda to instill its narrow view on all peoples.
It has become the talk among African American students at the prestigious Princeton Theological Seminary — racially charged fliers and postings. All of it is apparently anti-abortion literature.
Among the fliers was one that displayed a noose and another with the words “in the new klan lynching is for amateurs.”
“I was shocked and appalled that someone would place something like that up at this particular institution,” seminary student Maurice Stinnett told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.
“There was a lot of devastation for me, psychological damage, injury, because I saw this as social bullying,” student Shirley Thomas said.
Student leaders at the seminary, which neighbors Princeton University but is not directly affiliated, said the fliers first appeared on campus last November then reappeared in February for Black History Month.
The fliers originate from various sources, pointing out the number of African American deaths by abortion.
Student Katherine Timpte called the fliers “appalling and tragic and upsetting at all levels.”
There is some good news. Religion may become extinct in 9 countries. These 9 go straight to the top of my get me out of this crazy place list. It really amazes me that some many people in legislative positions have no problem forcing their superstitions on other people. Interestingly enough, most of the countries come out on nearly all the top lists for highest standard of living and best living conditions. They also rate well in education, low crime, and health and nutrition. The U.S. continues to score high on the superstition and nasty living standards lists. We certainly under assault by Christian Taliban in this country. I really wish more moderate Christians would speak out against the actions of these radicals.
A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.
The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.
The team’s mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.
The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.
The team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.
Okay, well, that will give you a few things to chomp on while we catch up with all the stuff that went awry today.
Arizona Passes Anti-Abortion Bill To Send Doctors, Clinicians To Jail For Abortions Based On Race Or Gender
In the race to secure the most destructive state anti-abortion law, Arizona may leap ahead of South Dakota by seeking to tackle a problem that doesn’t exist. In a 41-18 vote last month, the House passed a bill to prohibit abortions sought because of the race or sex of the fetus or the race of the parent. Seeking to prevent “race- or sex-based discrimination against the unborn,” the bill would allow lawsuits and civil fines against “abortion providers who knowingly provide such abortions.”
Hey everyone, Wonk here… this will be a little lighter than usual because I’m putting this together on the fly this morning.
Let’s start off with the status of the cheddar revolution in the American Midwest. According to the national media, it sounds like the Wisconsin 14 could be heading home from their undisclosed hideout(s) in Illinois:
Here’s the latest from the NYT — “Talks to Resolve Wisconsin Battle Falter“:
Senator Fred Risser, one of 14 Democrats who left Wisconsin last month to prevent the Republican-dominated Senate from approving the collective bargaining measure, said it now seemed conceivable that he and his fellow Democrats would return to Wisconsin, at some point in the future, without a negotiated compromise.
“We have always said we would go back eventually,” Mr. Risser said, adding that the Democrats had yet to make any decision about when to go back to Madison, a move that would open the way for a vote on the proposal by Mr. Walker, a Republican elected in November. “We will have accomplished some of our purpose – to slow things up and let people know what was in this bill.”
And, from the WSJ — “Democrats to End Union Standoff“:
Playing a game of political chicken, Democratic senators who fled Wisconsin to stymie restrictions on public-employee unions said Sunday they planned to come back from exile soon, betting that even though their return will allow the bill to pass, the curbs are so unpopular they’ll taint the state’s Republican governor and legislators.
Sen. Mark Miller said he and his fellow Democrats intend to let the full Senate vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s “budget-repair” bill, which includes the proposed limits on public unions’ collective-bargaining rights. The bill, which had been blocked because the missing Democrats were needed for the Senate to have enough members present to vote on it, is expected to pass the Republican-controlled chamber.
Sen. Miller’s comments are taken out of context in the Wall Street Journal article just released. Dems will return when collective bargaining is off the table. That could be soon based on the growing public opposition to the bill and the recall efforts against Republicans. Unfortunately, the WSJ fished for the quote they wanted, skipping this key step in logic: we won’t come back until worker’s rights are preserved.
Switching to the Mideast, Robert Fisk has an important read in the Independent this morning that I’ve only had time to skim — “America’s secret plan to arm Libya’s rebels“:
Desperate to avoid US military involvement in Libya in the event of a prolonged struggle between the Gaddafi regime and its opponents, the Americans have asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons to the rebels in Benghazi. The Saudi Kingdom, already facing a “day of rage” from its 10 per cent Shia Muslim community on Friday, with a ban on all demonstrations, has so far failed to respond to Washington’s highly classified request, although King Abdullah personally loathes the Libyan leader, who tried to assassinate him just over a year ago.
Washington’s request is in line with other US military co-operation with the Saudis. The royal family in Jeddah, which was deeply involved in the Contra scandal during the Reagan administration, gave immediate support to American efforts to arm guerrillas fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan in 1980 and later – to America’s chagrin – also funded and armed the Taliban.
But the Saudis remain the only US Arab ally strategically placed and capable of furnishing weapons to the guerrillas of Libya. Their assistance would allow Washington to disclaim any military involvement in the supply chain – even though the arms would be American and paid for by the Saudis.
If the Saudi government accedes to America’s request to send guns and missiles to Libyan rebels, however, it would be almost impossible for President Barack Obama to condemn the kingdom for any violence against the Shias of the north-east provinces.
Thus has the Arab awakening, the demand for democracy in North Africa, the Shia revolt and the rising against Gaddafi become entangled in the space of just a few hours with US military priorities in the region.
Hillary talked about a perfect storm brewing last month. Deja vu.
More coverage on Libya:
- Houston Chronicle/AP: Libyan warplanes strike rebels at oil port
- BBCWorld: Libya casualties spark UN moves
- BBC — Pro-Gaddafi forces block rebels
- Reuters —Libya plane hits town, over one million need aid
- NYT — A Libyan Leader at War With Rebels, and Reality
Check out the title at the top of your browser on that NYT link at the end — I don’t know if the editors will change it by the time you check, but when I saw it it said, “Qaddafi’s Cult of Personality Faces Greatest Challenge.”
Here’s another item echoing the Bryce Colvert piece on the “Womancession” that I posted about on Saturday. From economics professor Nancy Folbre –– “His Recession, Becoming Hers“:
Men are more concentrated in industries that are both more sensitive to the business cycle and trending down as a share of total employment.
However, women are more concentrated in state and local jobs that are now on the chopping block as a result of efforts to cut taxes and reduce public spending. About 52 percent of state employees and 61 percent of the much larger category of local employees are women – many of them working as teachers, secretaries, or social workers.
The economist Randy Albelda asserts that the conservative attack on public-sector unions resembles the welfare reform discussions of the 1990s, in which recipients of public assistance were labeled greedy, lazy welfare queens.
In more economic doom and gloom headlines…
From the Nation. Christopher Hayes — “Why Washington Doesn’t Care About Jobs“ (h/t Bostonboomer):
This disconnect between the jobs crisis in the country and the blithe dismissal thereof in Washington is the most incomprehensible aspect of the political moment. But I think there are two numbers that go a long way toward explaining it.
The first is 4.2. That’s the percentage of Americans with a four-year college degree who are unemployed. It’s less than half the official unemployment rate of 9 percent for the labor force as a whole and one-fourth the underemployment rate (which counts those who have given up looking for work or are working part time but want full-time work) of 16.1 percent. So while the overall economy continues to suffer through the worst labor market since the Great Depression, the elite centers of power have recovered. For those of us fortunate enough to have graduated from college—and to have escaped foreclosure or an underwater mortgage—normalcy has returned.
The other number is 5.7 percent. That’s the unemployment rate for the Washington/Arlington/Alexandria metro area and just so happens to be lowest among large metropolitan areas in the entire country. In 2010 the DC metro area added 57,000 jobs, more than any in the nation, and now boasts the hottest market for commercial office space. In other words: DC is booming. You can see it in the restaurants opening all over North West, the high prices that condos fetch in the real estate market and the general placid sense of bourgeois comfort that suffuses the affluent upper- and upper-middle-class pockets of the region.
What these two numbers add up to is a governing elite that is profoundly alienated from the lived experiences of the millions of Americans who are barely surviving the ravages of the Great Recession.
I think Hayes is on the money highlighting the 5.7 percent figure, but I’ve heard a lot of people with college degrees getting laid off or having trouble finding a job. Of course that’s anecdotal, but I’m still wondering about that 4.2 percent figure.
- Austin American Statesman — “Perry to appear with Grover Norquist on Tuesday“
- On the women’s rights front… Amanda Marcotte, via RH Reality Check — “Texas Legislators Fight Back With Pointed Amendments“
Washington Post with a headline that shouldn’t surprise anyone who is paying attention — “In Afghanistan, U.S. shifts strategy on women’s rights as it eyes wider priorities.“
Some really nasty and revealing quotes in there about what Obama Admin insiders think of women’s rights in Afghanistan:
A senior U.S. official involved in Afghanistan policy said changes to the land program also stem from a desire at the top levels of the Obama administration to triage the war and focus on the overriding goal of ending the conflict.
“Gender issues are going to have to take a back seat to other priorities,” said the senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal policy deliberations. “There’s no way we can be successful if we maintain every special interest and pet project. All those pet rocks in our rucksack were taking us down.”
But, again, anybody who’s been paying attention is not surprised to see that Hillary’s agenda for women and girls does not translate into Obama’s agenda for women and girls.
Alright, I want to get you this thread up as soon as possible, so I’m going to cut it short there and maybe update later if I find more.
What’s on your blogging list today? I’m sure I missed a lot of important stuff, so help us all out this morning by sharing what you’re reading.
Good morning, news junkies!
I’ve gotten quite hooked on the NYT’s new Lens blog, particularly the regular interview/photo essays compiled by Lens editor James Estrin. A couple months ago, Estrin zoomed the focus in on Eirini Vourloumis and her photographs of Spanish-speaking converts to Islam–you may remember my linking to the interview at the time. This week’s spotlight is on Hazel Thompson and her work documenting the roles of women in Bahrain. There’s also a video of Thompson discussing her experiences at the link. Fascinating stuff.
To the right… from Hazel Thompson’s “Measure of a Woman”… The Youth Activist: Enas Ahmed Al-Farden is the vice president of the Bahrain Youth Forum Society. She is also a radio announcer and a product marketing manager. She lives with her parents and is engaged to be married.
If you have some free time after you’re finished reading this roundup, both the spot on Bahraini women and the earlier one on Latino Muslims are well worth the investment. (I’ll link to them again at the end.) In the meantime, here are the rest of my Saturday picks… grab a cup of whatever gets you up and running in the morning and enjoy.
- Bryce Covert, via The Nation warns “With State Budgets Withering, Get Ready for the ‘Womancession.‘” A few key (and troubling) points I took away from Covert’s piece, which I’ve paraphrased slightly for the sake of brevity:
- As of November, men’s unemployment is down .04 percent over the previous 12 months, and women’s unemployment over the same period is up .04 percent. Between July 2009 and January 2011, women lost 366,000 jobs while men gained 438,000.
- The public sector has shed 426,000 jobs since August of 2008. 154,000 of those jobs were in education. Women comprise only a little over half of the public workforce but have lost 83.8% of the jobs during the recovery-in-name-only.
- And, just look at who is exempt from Walker’s proposal to strip collective bargaining: public officers, firefighters, and state troopers. It’s the public employee unions made up mostly of women that are facing threat of annihilation.
- Covert has another good piece up at New Deal 2.0 you might want to check out: “Student Debt Can be Deadly.” I’ll try to boil it down for you this morning. The average undergrad student graduates with $4,100 in credit card debt and $19,300 in student loans. Couple that with the phenomena of a) college educated 20-24 year olds having the highest percentage increase in unemployment and b) suicide being the second leading cause of death among college students, and you’ll see what Covert means by deadly.
- Wonk’s two cents: The Taxed Enough Already (TEA) crowd never shuts up about the “debt we’re creating for our children,” but they sure don’t seem to be looking in the right place if that’s what they’re really concerned about.
- At least there was a bit of justice on the student loan front for one individual this week–after six years, the Department of Education has finally forgiven the student debt of Tina Brooks, a disabled former cop. Appalling that it took so long. Propublica’s joint investigation with the Center for Public Integrity and the Chronicle of Higher Education found that…
although borrowers who develop severe and lasting disabilities are legally entitled to get federal student loans forgiven, the process for deciding who is eligible is dysfunctional, opaque and duplicates similar reviews conducted by other federal agencies. Many borrowers have been denied for unclear reasons, and many others have simply given up.
- Really bad theatre or comedy gold? You judge: SEC to curb bonus pay for only about 30 institutions.
- On Thursday, Zaid Jilani from Think Progress posted the graph I’ve been looking for. This is what the workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana are protesting:
- The Center for Reproductive Rights’ Melissa Upreti, via RH Reality Check, reports that “Nepal Advances As U.S. Backslides on Women’s Rights.” What takes the cake is that Nepal’s Supreme Court cites Roe in its groundbreaking affirmation of a woman’s autonomy, access to abortion, and well-being over that of a fetus. I almost want to laugh and tell Nepal’s Supremes that their ruling sounds better than Roe. Our dear Roe has, among other things, successfully kept women’s rights in perpetual limbo for almost 4 decades. As much as I believe in the privacy argument, I’m a much bigger believer in the autonomy and equity arguments.
- Anna Clark, via AlterNet, looks at “What’s Next for Women’s Health (And Rights) in Tunisia and Egypt?” According to Clark, family planning was actually decent under both dictatorships. Will the road to self-governance bring more progress for Arab women or are we looking at another backward slide?
- Here’s a good companion essay to read after Clark’s piece. Margot Badran, via the SSRC’s Immanent Frame, writes of “Egypt’s Revolution and the New Feminism.” From Badran’s pen to the goddess’s ear:
Will the youth now be willing to accept patriarchal authoritarianism sustained by the old family law, a law so out of sync with contemporary social realities—with their own realities? It is very hard to see by what logic they could do so. Freedom, equality, and justice cannot be reserved for some only. For the youth, female and male, who raised this revolution, freedom, equality, and justice are surely non-negotiable, and dignity, the order of the day. This is the essence of the new feminism, call it what you will.
- I missed this one last week. William John Cox’s “Political Upheaval and Women’s Rights,” via Truthout. Excellent long view essay. Cox really lays it all out there. Fundamentalism is a threat to women everywhere, be it in the Mideast or in the US.
[There’s more, so if you need a coffee refill or anything, now would be a good time for an intermission before you click to continue. ]
The new year seems to have instilled a new level of craziness in our homegrown Christian Extremists. Think that all that stuff you see over in under-developed nations couldn’t be brought over here? Think it’s only radical Islam that wants to stick women in an Iron Age world? Well, think again. Watch the video and be appalled.
Anti-Choice Fanatic Lila Rose says that ‘Abortions Should Be Done in the Public Square’.
We’ll get back to Lila in La La Land in a bit.
First,some people have nothing better to do than to biblecheck the President’s knowledge on the “The Bible.” If it wasn’t embarrassing enough to have to watch the President of the world’s oldest pluralistic society make a speech so he can prove he’s not a “Muslim”, Fox Nation has to choose which version of the Bible he’s supposed to use to pledge allegiance. Evidently, the only true Bible for Fox Nation is the King James version which has been shown to have severe translation and other problems.
This would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.
Most likely, they won’t bother to correct their story, and their goal will be accomplished: the readers that trust them will remember the time Obama “misquoted” the Bible, some more people will question the authenticity of Obama’s faith, and the smear machine will move on.
Exactly what is the point of having the President of our entire nation disenfranchise many of us through a “national prayer breakfast” any way?
While the president thankfully steers clear of “Christian nation” rhetoric there was simply too much of Obama the Christian yesterday.
Come to think of it, the National Prayer Breakfast often has this effect on politicians. Senator Joseph Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, sprinkled so many references to the gospels at the 48th National Prayer Breakfast in 2000 that he made George W. Bush look like a desk officer for Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Obama may earnestly believe that Republican Senator Tom Coburn is his “brother in Christ.” But such a sentiment sounds odd coming from a president who once reminded his Turkish hosts that ours is not “a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation,” but “a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”
Such a nation, one would hope, would be led by a person who understands that this type of rhetoric can be deeply troubling to those who don’t believe in Christ. Just as it may offend those Christians who believe that Christ’s teachings tend to become distorted when they are mouthed by the worldly powers that be.
This comes after learning the politically significant and influential “Family” has caused Uganda to create laws that murder its GLBT citizens. David Kato was forced to return to a country that is leading a reign of terror on its GLBT minorities in a manner directly traceable to the narrow beliefs and traditions of extremist Christians in the US. The Family makes the Muslim Brotherhood look tame by comparison.
In early 2010, as policy adviser to the UK’s all-party group on HIV and AIDS, I organised Mugisha’s visit to the Westminster parliament to meet the then foreign office minister and openly gay legislator, Chris Bryant. It was, for Mugisha, a vision of what politics could be like.
“At this moment [in Uganda] it would be political suicide for a [member of parliament] to come out and support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” he marvelled.
Six months later, back in Uganda, the national newspaper, Rolling Stone (unrelated to the US magazine of the same name), splashed a story across its front page, outing Uganda’s “top one hundred homos”. The piece gave names and addresses of gay men – amongst them Mugisha and Kato, whose faces were pictured in the paper. On the front page a banner read, “Hang them!”
The lives of both men were in danger but instead of hiding, they fought back. Kato successfully took the newspaper to court winning the paltry sum of 1.5 million Ugandan shillings (650 US dollars) for invasion of privacy and a permanent injunction preventing Rolling Stone from running a similar story again.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for Uganda to swiftly investigate the murder of Kato. This call was reiterated just recently by President Obama. The Senate should investigate the role of US religious extremists in the murder.
“The Family”–also known as “the Fellowship”– is a powerful and covert sect of American Christian evangelical politicians and ministers who seek a decidedly anti-gay extreme Christian agenda both at home and abroad, and through its words put this hammer in the hands of all potentially intolerant Ugandans.
Enabled by President Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Musevani and his wife Janet Kataha, Ugandan parlimentarian David Bahati, (who in 2009 said, “Homosexuality it is not a human right,”) last year introduced a “kill the gays” bill which remains under active consideration. All are believed to be members of Ugandas’ Christian right wing “Family,” according to Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, a tour de force exposé of “The Fellowship,” published in 2008.
Sharlet has appeared on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, as well as on National Public Radio to discuss the shadowy “Family” sect that has included well-known evangelical minister Rick Warren, who delivered the invocational prayer at President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, much to the chagrin of LGBT activists.
Sharlet has authored a second book on the Family, entitled C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy, considered a deeper exploration of related sex scandals of Family-backed Republican politicians in Washington, D.C. It provides additional revelations about The Family’s role in the Ugandan government’s anti-gay reactions, which have brought rebukes from the Ugandan Supreme Court, but have also elicited a refusal by Rick Warren to condemn the Ugandan ”kill the gays” proposed legislation, along with a dubious claim that Warren had “nothing to do” with the anti-gay bill.
New York Times best-selling author Frank Schaeffer writes in “Evangelicals Implicated When Ugandan Gay Rights Activist Was Beaten to Death,” that the ”story of the Ugandan legislation to kill gays for being gay was intertwined with the Family and also with representatives of the wider “respectable” American Evangelical community. According to many pressreports, the genesis of the antihomosexual Ugandan bill may be traced to a three-day seminar in Kampala in March 2009 called “Exposing the Truth Behind Homosexuality and the Homosexual Agenda.” This seminar was led by Evangelical leader and hero to the Religious Right Scott Lively. He is best known for his Holocaust revisionist book The Pink Swastika, which claims homosexuals founded the Nazi party and were responsible for death camp atrocities.”
“According to sources who attended the conference (and who were later widely quoted in the press), Lively told his Kampala audience, “I know more about this [homosexuality] than almost anyone in the world. The gay movement is an evil institution. The goal of the gay movement is to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.” The results of the seminar were dramatic. “The community has become very hostile now,” Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, said in an interview. “We have to watch our backs very much more than before because the community thinks if the Ugandan government is not passing the law, they will deal with [gay] people on their own.”
They’re busy here too. Some Iowans are on a crusade against GLBT families. Just when you think it’s safe to be a human in a developed nation, religious extremists bring out their burning crosses and witch hunts all over again.
Fox News via Bill Reilly has also been pushing Lila Rose’s heavily edited and misleading film showing that Planned Parenthood “provides advice to sex traffickers of minority youth”. This is the latest right wing attempt to ensnare nonprofits serving the poor with lies and heavily edited video tape. This tape is unbelievably being shown on FOX News as a credible source. New Jersey Governor Christie has promised to veto funding for Planned Parenthood now based on this highly edited and misleading document.
When the anti-abortion rights propagandists at Live Action began releasing their Planned Parenthood smear videos earlier this week, we explained that their claim that Planned Parenthood was covering-up “child sex trafficking” was clearly a lie.
That’s because way back on January 18, Planned Parenthood’s president wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder about the incidents and requested an FBI investigation into the possibility that “an individual or individuals are engaged in activities that violate several federal criminal statutes relating to sex trafficking involving minors.”
So Planned Parenthood obviously wasn’t covering up anything; they were fulfilling their obligation to keep children safe.
We also warned that media should be skeptical about the heavily edited video footage released by Live Action.
As it turns out, we were right to raise concerns.
Yesterday, Live Action released a video that it claimed showed a Richmond, Virginia, Planned Parenthood’s supposed “willingness to aid and abet sexual exploitation of minors.”
This comes on top of the attempt by Speaker of the House John Boehner and U.S. House of Representatives to redefine rape to further remove access to abortions by poor and disabled women. Here’s that and some more news on Men with Minds stuck in the Middle Ages from young women’s website The Frisky.
- Leave it to Kristen Schaal at “The Daily Show” to give the best assessment of Republicans’ attempts to redefine rape in the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act. “Rape with benefits” and “rape-ish” are sooo becoming part of my vocabulary. Thankfully, the phrase “forcible rape” has been cut from the bill. [The Daily What via The Daily Show, Washington Post]
- Former Oklahoma State Senator Herb Rozell suggested a pregnant woman who was nominated to the State Board of Education would be “worthless” because she would give birth during the legislative session and be totally obsessed with diapers or something. Rozell has been condemned by OK’s Governor Mary Fallin and other lawmakers, including two who said, “In this day and age, to have that type of attitude about a woman’s ability to serve is offensive, discriminatory and just wrong.” [Tulsa Beacon]
Here’s some interesting analysis on HR#3 and how the language got dropped by the CSM. Thankfully, the GOP backed down. Here’s some of the remaining horrors of the bill that our Democratic President shouldn’t sign if passed.
“I would caution against saying this is a victory, because the other provisions in H.R. 3 are so bad,” says Ted Miller, communications director for NARAL Pro-Choice America.
In addition to banning federal funding for abortion, the bill would eliminate tax breaks for health insurance premiums on policies that cover abortion-related expenses. It would also prevent women from paying for an abortion out of a health savings account.
A separate piece of legislation, H.R. 358 – the Protect Life Act, sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R) of Pennsylvania – also seeks to bar use of federal funds for abortion under the new health-care law but is less far-reaching than Congressman Smith’s bill. Still, abortion-rights advocates are equally concerned about its provisions. On Wednesday, NARAL Pro-Choice America highlighted a new version of Congressman Pitts’ bill that they said would allow hospitals to refuse to provide an abortion to a pregnant woman even if her life was in danger.
In the last Congress, Pitts and former Rep. Bart Stupak (D) of Michigan succeeded in inserting a ban on federal funding for abortion in the House version of health reform legislation, but it was not included in the final version signed by President Obama. The day after the bill-signing, Mr. Obama signed an executive order aimed at ensuring the new law would maintain a ban on federal funding of abortions.
However, there are Democratic co-sponsors of that bill. Micheal Whitney at FDL has a good run down of which Dems we should work actively against. The DCCC invested $3.3 million dollars getting these jerks re-elected.
A look at the DCCC’s contributions to and on behalf of the 10 Democratic co-sponsors of HR3 show the committee spent a whopping $3,379,322.85 to keep these members in office – in 2010 alone. The list includes: Dan Boren [OK-2], Jerry Costello [IL-12], Mark Critz [PA-12], Joe Donnelly [IN-2], Daniel Lipinski [IL-3], Collin Peterson [MN-7], Nick Rahall [WV-3], Mike Ross [AR-4], and Heath Shuler [NC-11]. And God knows how many Blue Dogs that lost in 2010 and who were supported by the DCCC would have co-sponsored this bill.
Madamab has a Feminist Friday post up called ‘Feminist Friday: “Jekyll” and Hyde’ that thoroughly covers the depths of horror displayed in this bill. Then, try this one on for size from an article from our neighbors to the north. The “culture of life” clearly does not extend to living breathing children in many extremist sects.
Water torture of babies is one way some members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day instil fear of authority, a former member testified Wednesday.
“It’s quite common,” Carolyn Blackmore Jessop told the constitutional reference case to determine whether Canada’s polygamy law is valid.
“They spank the baby and when it cries, they hold the baby face up under the tap with running water. When they stop crying, they spank it again and the cycle is repeated until they are exhausted.”
It’s typically done by fathers and it’s called “breaking in.”
Jessop, who is from Arizona, testified about the practice during her testimony in B.C. Supreme Court.
Outside the courthouse, Jessop said water torture is common enough that there doesn’t seem any shame attached to the practice.
In her cousin’s baby book, there’s a handwritten note by her mother noting that when her daughter was 18 months old, she was becoming quite a handful and, as a result, was being held under the tap on a regular basis.
In court, Jessop said water torture was one of the reasons that she gave for gaining sole custody of her children after she left the group in 2003. She said her ex-husband, Merril Jessop, used it on “a lot” of his 54 children including her own.
“Merril was very abusive,” she said.
Think Europe is safer? Well, try this cute one from LGF: Catholic Church Issues Guide on How to Convert Witches from the UK.
According to a new booklet from the Catholic Truth Society — the U.K. publishers for the Holy See — the faithful can convert Wiccans by following a few simple steps. The pamphlet, titled “Wicca and Witchcraft: Understanding the Dangers,” suggests that Catholics spark up conversations with these unbelievers about shared concerns such as the environment, The Telegraph reports.
And if you bump into a witch in a bar or coffee shop, the book adds, it’s important to recognize that “Wiccans are on a genuine spiritual quest,” providing “the starting point for dialog that may lead to their conversion.”
Why we continue to worry about religious extremists abroad when there are serious threats to our freedoms from religious extremists here in our own country continues to amaze me. One bomb can only kill so many people. Removal of religious freedoms and promotion of severe propaganda as fact by the media is a for more clear and present danger. Why are we worried about Egyptian politics when we clearly have people in our own country who want to defy the U.S. Constitution and place us in an extremist Christian theocracy?
When I hear those words above, I think of those big monster truck rallies held in the big sombrero…or what was the old Tampa Stadium. We lived near the stadium and I remember feeling the ground move on those Sunday night extravaganzas. Growing up near the stadium was super cool. When the Rolling Stones performed at the stadium, you could hear the concert by just sitting outside on the porch. Don’t know why I thought of this just now, maybe it is because the big game is coming up…or maybe I was just thinking about fond memories and cheap thrills…who knows. Anyway, on with this Sunday’s Reads.
Where to start? Hmm, how about here: President Obama previews State of the Union job pitch – Glenn Thrush – POLITICO.com So it looks like an email was sent out to O-fans ahead of the SOTU, it included a video of “Golden Boy,” like some sort of crappy movie trailer, the kind when you see it you immediately say to yourself…”Oh yeah, that is one to miss.” So, this little tidbit below should give y’all the feel of the production, I mean speech:
“Today, we’re in a different place. An economy that was shrinking is now growing again. But across the country, millions are struggling every day — to find work, to pay their bills, to provide for their families. It is clear that the moment we now face demands a vision for how we as a people will win the future,” reads the introduction to the video, sent to members of Organizing for America, the vestigial campaign apparatus from his 2008 campaign.
“And that vision — that agenda — will be the topic of my State of the Union address.”
Oh great, this reminds me of the same old Hope and Change. Let me refer to a time when big hair was a fashion statement and there was another fine actor in the White House…barf me with a spoon! You want more? State of the Union: Address is a ‘fundamental moment’ for President Obama – latimes.com On second thought, I will just paraphrase it for you. Obama is moving more and more to the center. He is going to use the SOTU to highlight his move from the left, as a way to appeal to Independent voters. (And these people get paid to write this stuff?)
So I will move on to this link: The Barack Obama 2011 State of the Union Drinking Game. I am pretty sure that here on Sky Dancing we will be having a live blogging session during the State of the Union Address. So, my thought is to make it interesting. We can play this drinking game, and see just how crazy and convoluted the comment section gets.
RULES OF THE GAME:
Every time Barack H Obama mentions bipartisanship, everybody has to drink 2 shots of beer. If he talks about the lessons of Tucson, the last person to throw their arms in the air, fall to their knees and shout “Hallelujah!” has to drink 1 entire beer.
Everybody has to drink 2 shots of beer whenever John Boehner appears to cry. 1 shot of bourbon if he breaks down sobbing and disappears entirely from view.
Every time Barack H Obama says “Democratic leadership,” the first person to stop laughing is exempt from drinking 2 shots of beer.
If the Chief Executive winks at or points at Michelle, all 4 players swordfight with hot dogs. Whoever is left with an intact weenie does not have to eat an entire shot glass full of that weird green relish.
If the president mentions the Chinese President by name, the last person to ask “Hu Dat?” has to drink 2 shots of beer.
Optional: Have all players drink with left hand. Unless left- handed. If they are caught drinking with dominant hand, they must watch the entire Republican response and no drinking allowed.
Okay, you know I am joking, right? However, I think that any sort of mind numbing/altering substance would be extremely useful for anyone watching. I will have my bag of popcorn and a package of Nabisco’s Mallomars to get through the evening. Oh, who are we kidding, two packages of Mallomars…ya know they have fewer of these delicious morsels in their boxes of cookies now. Oops, I have wandered a bit, must be those damn fond childhood memories again.
I thought I would post this link, being that my family’s livelihood depends on Walmart…which in itself is something I thought I would never hear myself say. Is it time to rethink my opinion of Wal-Mart? – Eco-nomics – Stories from the Mother Nature Network – Forbes Yes, it is true that Walmart has teamed with FLOTUS to change some of its products and focus more on healthy eating. Also, each area Walmart store donates tons of money and food to local food banks. I wonder if Walmart will also be placing warning labels on their healthier can goods. Along the lines of, Caution: “Let’s Move” exercise like the ones that Michelle Obama suggest, may be hazardous to your health. Warning: Walking across the street and eating a can of peaches can cause serious injury, including death. That could be the next big push for the likes of Limbaugh and Malkin, after they tackle that “abortion problem.” However, I do have another story to share about Walmart. We live in a very rural country banjo bible belt area, the new Walmart has saved a lot of families in my town. Just yesterday, we needed to get new tires for the car and wanted to spend our money locally. But the few local business that sell tires were closed, we had no choice but to go to the TLE (tire lube express) at Wallyworld. Perhaps they were closed to mourn the passing of Roe v. Wade 38 years ago?
If you missed Wonk’s most excellent post yesterday, be sure you check it out: Saturday: Roe turns 38! « Sky Dancing She has some wonderful links and real information that every woman should read, so if you have any woman you care about…send her the link. While I am at it, I will post links to two other post from yesterday on Sky Dancing: Gaslighting America « Sky Dancing and Seymour Hersh Comments Evoke Media Overreactions « Sky Dancing It was just a great day for blog post yesterday, and that is all I will say about that!
It looks like talks with Iran have broken down. Iran Nuclear Talks Break Down | FDL News Desk and Iran nuclear talks end at impasse – Laura Rozen – POLITICO.com What I find interesting is when you read the Iran’s side of the nuclear talks. Check out Google News from Tehran. Everyone has their own way of reporting news…right? It is up to you and me to digest and dig into what is reported today. That is just being responsible readers and listeners. I think that most of us do this already, that is what makes reading and watching the news fun…to use constructive and cognitive brain processes to get at what really is being said.
*Update below* Duvalier is not being allowed to leave Haiti, according to BBC:
Mr Duvalier is barred from leaving the country pending the outcome of an investigation into his alleged crimes…
One theory offered by analysts and lawyers to explain Mr Duvalier’s return is that he was trying to stave off attempts by Switzerland to donate to Haiti nearly $6m (£3.7) frozen in Swiss bank accounts.
Under a new Swiss law that comes into force on 1 February, the funds can be released even if Haiti has not made a legal move to get them.
Mr Duvalier wrongly predicted that he might be able to avoid prosecution, observers say.
“If Duvalier goes back to Haiti and is not prosecuted, then he could say ‘I was available for prosecution, and you didn’t prosecute me: Give me my money back,'” said Reed Brody, a lawyer at Human Rights Watch. [BBC]
I thought this was interesting and tried to find more information about the new law, Baby Doc assets may soon be returned from Switzerland to Haiti under new law. – swissinfo Seems that this law was made specifically for this situation and has something to do with statute of limitations.
In February 2010 the Swiss government issued an emergency decree to keep the money blocked until a new dictator-assets law could be published. The government decree was a reaction to the country’s top court ruling in January 2010 that the money must be returned to Duvalier’s family because the statute of limitations had expired.
The new law on returning illicit dictator funds, backed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, is due to enter into force on February 1, 2011.
Under the law, the cabinet can block contentious assets and will have up to ten years to launch action to confiscate the assets once they have been blocked. The confiscation of assets must be declared by the Federal Administrative Court.
“It would be unfortunate if there is a problem with the return of the Duvalier funds as this law was tailor-made for such a case,” Olivier Longchamp, a legal expert at the Swiss non-governmental organisation, Berne Declaration, told swissinfo.ch.
Just think, all that money going back to the Duvalier family…makes you shiver doesn’t it? The “Duvalier Law” is supposed to stop this from happening:
…analysts say that the former dictator returned to Haiti to make a claim on the money he does have left—some $6 million frozen in a Swiss bank account. Last year, a Swiss court ruled that $4.6 million of the money could be released to the Duvaliers (the ruling was handed down only hours before the earthquake hit) but public anger prompted officials to do a 180, passing the so-called “Duvalier law” to keep dictators from using Switzerland as a safe haven for ill-begotten cash. With that law set to go into effect on Feb. 1, analysts tell the NYT that Baby Doc’s homecoming was probably an attempt to sneak in and out of the country—thus proving that Haiti had no interest in prosecuting him—in order to make a case for the money. (Duvalier laywer Gervais Charles maintains that his client only wanted to donate the money to the Red Cross.)
Friday, when he finally found a place to hold a press conference, at a rented guest house, the ex-dictator said he returned to “participate … in this collaboration for the national reconstruction.” Which make sense, since that’s why everyone’s in Haiti. Though Duvalier’s team doesn’t have T-shirts yet. Or a slogan.
Friday, we also discovered that Duvalier is now represented by an American legal team — “we’re not his lawyers” — from Snellville, Ga.: Mike Puglise, Ed Marger, and former U.S. congressman Bob Barr.
And they “helped” us better understand Duvalier, too.Marger, on the dictator’s human rights record: “Regardless of what many people say or do or think about what happened during the Duvalier regimes, at least there was stability in the country, and the people, in great measure, were progressing.”
At least? Yes. Except for the tens of thousands dead, tortured or “disappeared.”
He has a team of US lawyers? Which includes a former US Congressman, Bob Barr…WTH?
Duvalier ”is very interested in trying to get those funds freed up, not for himself, but so they can be used to help the situation in Haiti,” said Mr Barr, who went with Duvalier to Port-au-Prince.
On Saturday Duvalier, 59, also known as ”Baby Doc”, apologised to victims of abuses during his government, vowed to help the quake-ravaged nation rebuild and said he expected to face ”persecution” upon his return.
He declared himself ”impressed by the welcome I have received, especially from the crowd of young people who don’t know me”.
But their attendance at the villa in the upmarket Montagne Noire neighbourhood was engineered. ”We were paid 10 gourdes ($A25¢) to show up,” said one.
So the people were paid to show their “support” for Duvalier? Some things never change.
From Minx’s Missing Link File: I thought many would find this entertaining: Speak the speech … Shakespeare’s plays to be performed in 38 languages | Culture | The Guardian
Anyone who struggles with Shakespeare in English will next year be able to see if it is any easier in Lithuanian. Or Portuguese, Italian or Spanish, perhaps. And if all that fails – Troilus and Cressida in Maori?
In fact, there will be 38 different ways to experience it, as Shakespeare’s Globe presents all of the Bard’s plays, each in a different language, as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
It is, perhaps, the most ambitious multilingual Shakespeare project ever attempted and the Globe’s artistic director, Dominic Dromgoole, said today it was “a terrifically clear and simple and slightly bananas idea”, but one, he hoped, that would show how Shakespeare has become an international language.
This is something so cool! The process of staging these plays must be extremely time consuming and requires some patience to get it all put together correctly. “Slightly bananas?” Yes, but wonderfully creative!
Easy like Sunday Morning Link: Another story about one of those writers that influenced a generation: Saving Hemingway’s home in Cuba – CNN.com
Ernest Hemingway hasn’t lived here in over 50 years but Finca Vigia is still his home.
In the garden there’s his boat “the Pilar” used to hunt marlin and then Nazi subs off Cuba during World War II. Scrawled on a bathroom wall next to a scale are the daily records of what the writer weighed.
Lizards and frogs he caught rest in jars filled with formaldehyde. Antelopes and buffalo heads taken as trophies from African safaris decorate the walls. Yellowing Time and The Field magazines are still on the shelves.
Now a museum, a visitor to Finca Vigia or “lookout farm,” could be mistaken for thinking Hemingway might walk in the door at any second.
“Our philosophy was to recover the environment and surroundings,” said Ada Rosa Alfonso Rosales, the museum’s curator. “This was not just a mere house, this was his home.”
Hemingway lived in the home on a hilltop on the outskirts of Havana from 1939 to 1960. The years were pivotal ones for the famed American writer and for his adopted home of Cuba.
There is a video at this link, watch it when you have a chance. My kids are named for a Hemingway book, The Sun Also Rises, so it is a special article to read.
What are you all reading today? Give it up!