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Monday Morning News

Summer Tanager (male)

Good Morning Conflucians!!

I’m “back home again in Indiana,” visiting my mom. This afternoon we saw a beautiful bird–a Summer Tanager. It was bright red all over and gorgeous. I never even knew they existed. The females are beautiful too. They look something like a goldfinch, only they are olive green.

Summer Tanager (female)

It’s little moments like these that remind me that life is worth living even while the world economy is crumbling, the Gulf Coast may become a permanent dead zone, and we still have an incurious, uncaring, narcissistic President, even though George W. Bush has left the public stage for now.

As for the news, you’ve probably heard that BP finally managed to get their 100-mile-long siphon into the Deepwater Horizon gusher, but government officials say this is “not a solution.”

“This technique is not a solution to the problem, and it is not yet clear how successful it may be,” Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a joint statement.

“I don’t think we should get our hopes up until we know for sure that all of the oil is staying down,” said Edward Markey, a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts.

“With reports of miles-long undersea clouds of oil floating around the Gulf of Mexico, and the very real possibility that more oil has been spilled than previously estimated, this crisis is far from over,” he said.

According to BBC News, the chemicals that BP has been using to break up the oil may be causing the huge oil slicks that are building up down below the surface of the water.

Researchers from the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology said they had detected the slicks lurking just beneath the surface of the sea and at depths of 4,000ft (1,200m).

Samantha Joye, a marine science professor at the University of Georgia, said: “It could take years, possibly decades, for the system to recover from an infusion of this quantity of oil and gas.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s impossible to fathom the impact.”

MSNBC reports that BP rig inspections were fewer than advertised

The federal agency responsible for ensuring that the Deepwater Horizon was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that the rig be inspected at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows.

In fact, the agency’s inspection frequency on the Deepwater Horizon fell dramatically over the past five years, according to federal Minerals Management Service records….Since January 2005, inspectors issued just one minor infraction for the rig. That strong track record led the agency last year to herald the Deepwater Horizon as an industry model for safety.

And did you hear that Brit Hume thinks the BP oil spill is no big deal? Here, from Think Progress, is an exchange that took place on Fox News this morning between Hume and Juan Williams:

WILLIAMS: First of all, don’t you think, this spill now is going to be in excess of what happened with Exxon Valdez.

HUME: Let’s see if that happens. There’s a good question today if you are standing on the Gulf, and that is: Where is the oil?

WILLIAMS: “Where is the oil?”

HUME: It’s not on — except for little of chunks of it, you’re not even seeing it on the shore yet.

WILLIAMS: But I think it will damage the environment in the gulf and damage tourism and damage fishing. I don’t think there’s any question this is in excess of anything we’ve previously asked the ocean to absorb.

HUME: We’ll see if it is. We’ll see if it is. The ocean absorbs a lot, Juan, an awful lot. The ocean absorbs a lot.

Here’s the video:

The Washington Post says that Obama is about to have another legislative victory–a financial “reform” bill.

Administration officials, along with Dodd and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), have walked a fine line: fending off most conservative efforts to scale back core elements of the legislation while resisting most liberal attempts at harsher regulations, including strict caps on the size of big banks. Senate Democrats also have courted key Republicans, including Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, by accepting some of their recommendations, including adding rules tying capital requirements to risk and clarifying which businesses would be covered by the new consumer agency.

Something tells me this bill is going to hand over a lot more money to banks and their lobbyists. I hope I’m wrong.

In other news, Glenn Beck gave the commencement address yesterday at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and received an honorary degree. Beck told the graduates that he

…never graduated from college but spent one semester at Yale University when he was 30…leaving because he could not afford the tuition.

Beck, who is Mormon, delivered a speech that emphasized the power of faith in righting a country that he said has gone off track.“I look at the things that are facing you today: the worst economy in generations, the euro on the road to collapse, we’re spending ourselves into oblivion…” he said. “We live in a time where you must have great courage; you must have great faith. We live in a time where it seems truth is on the run.”

His message to the graduates was peppered with tears, humor and even some offbeat wisdom, such as “cabs smell worse in the summer” and “labels are meaningless, but Louis Vuitton shoes are really the best.”

The article didn’t say if Beck had been drinking heavily before his speech.

At Boston University a very special graduation ceremony was held today for the class of 1970.

The accouterment and spirit of their era still radiate from the class of 1970, despite the harsh and abrupt ending to their years at Boston University.

That spring was supposed to bring a flowery conclusion to their four years of academe. But President Richard M. Nixon had invaded Cambodia. National Guardsmen had gunned down students at Kent State, killing four and wounding nine. Young men still faced the draft. And this campus, like many across the country, was in turmoil, with strikes, sit-ins, building takeovers and fire-bombings.

The situation became so incendiary that, for safety’s sake, university officials called off final exams, canceled graduation and sent students packing.

This weekend, on what would have been the 40th anniversary of that ceremony, the university sought to make amends with a proper graduation.

What the heck is going at Ohio colleges these days? It’s a lot worse than anything in Animal House from the reports I’ve been reading.

Sorority at Miami University of Ohio accused of drunken debauchery at Underground Railroad museum

Members of the Alpha Xi Delta at Miami University and their dates are accused of a laundry list of bad behavior at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati during a spring formal, the Associated Press reported.

Accusations include smoking inside the museum, excessive trashing of the dance floor and bathrooms, vomiting in different places, leaving puddles of urine in the men’s bathroom, stealing bottles of booze from the bar and smuggling their own alcohol inside the museum in flasks and plastic bottles.

But that’s not even the worst of it. In a letter to Miami U. officials, event coordinator Rhonda Miller wrote that

…she followed a male partygoer who ducked under the stanchions around the Slave Pen exhibit, which was built in the early 1800s and was used by Kentucky slave trader, Capt. John W. Anderson.

“In catching up with him, I found him about to relieve himself on the corner of this priceless and sanctified artifact,” Miller wrote.

“I told him to get out of the closed off area and use the restroom on the main floor. A Bensons Catering employee later found the same boy attempting to relieve himself on the freight elevator where Bensons had stored their food.”

After a sorority member vomited at the dinner table about a half hour into the 7 p.m. event, Miller said “we realized that seemingly every single sorority sister had illegally brought alcohol into the building in plastic juice or soda bottles and flasks.”

Previously, the Pi Beta Phi sorority at Miami of Ohio had been suspended by the university for similar behavior at another event venue. The suspension came after

a lodge owner complained about damage and unruly behavior at a spring formal including guests urinating in sinks, men scrambling over the bar for drinks, and couples caught having sex.

And at the University of Dayton,

A third Ohio sorority is in trouble after a wild party that authorities said involved vandalism.

The University of Dayton’s Alpha Phi sorority faces a May 27 disciplinary hearing for a March gathering at the Top of the Market banquet hall in Dayton.

Authorities said students were accused of urinating and vomiting on carpet and alcohol theft. A men’s bathroom sink was ripped off the wall and mustard and ketchup was sprayed around the facility.

And Obama thinks this younger generation is going to clean up the mess we baby boomers supposedly made back in ’60s and ’70s?

Here’s a WTF story for you: Congress may override Gates’ plans to cut defense spending

Lawmakers from both parties are poised to override Gates and fund the C-17 cargo plane and an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — two weapons systems the defense secretary has been trying to cut from next year’s budget. They have also made clear they will ignore Gates’s pleas to hold the line on military pay raises and health-care costs, arguing that now is no time to skimp on pay and benefits for troops who have been fighting two drawn-out wars.

The competing agendas could lead to a major clash between Congress and the Obama administration this summer. Gates has repeatedly said he will urge President Obama to veto any defense spending bills that include money for the F-35′s extra engine or the C-17, both of which he tried unsuccessfully to eliminate last year.

Let’s all keep this in mind when Congress and the President try to take away our Social Security and Medicare. There’s always plenty of money for weapons and banks and nothing for the ordinary people who pay the bills with our taxes.

I’ll end with this old song about Indiana, sung a cappella by “Straight, No Chaser,” a choral group from Indiana University.

So what are you reading this morning? Got any good news? Any bird sightings or other nature stories to share? Post whatever stories you like in the comments, and have a marvelous Monday. Where there’s life there’s hope!

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68 Responses

  1. What a beautiful bird that is. I hope I see him again.

    • Congratulations on spotting that bird, bb. We have the Scarlet Tanager in my area. I’ve seen it only once and that was years ago.

      From your college report it seems like these students really don’t want anything to do with addressing the enormous problems of our world. And I thought the world was in grave trouble with environmental trashing and nuclear weapons 40 years ago.

      • I saw a scarlet tanager one time too–years ago. It was in the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain. That’s a wonderful place for birdwatching.

        • In a brief look at Wiki’s description of Jamaica Plain, it sounds like a gem of a place all right!

          • I’ve seen all kinds of birds at the Arboretum. I saw an Indigo Bunting, Baltimore Orioles… I love birds. There’s a wetlands place near where I live. It’s in Concord. In the Spring, I’ve seen flocks of Cedar Waxwings and Goldfinches. It’s incredible to see them in a flock. Flocks of Redwing Blackbirds come through there in the Spring too. And of course lots of water birds.

    • In the South, Summer Tanagers are called “bee birds” because they can safely eat bees and wasps. Gorgeous, gorgeous birds.

      Sounds as if some of those Greek chapters need to be reorganized as AA groups.

  2. This is a horrific story – Cops in Detroit accidentally shoot 7 year old during house search.

    http://detroitnews.com/article/20100516/METRO/5160325/Police-accidentally-shoot-7-year-old-girl-in-house-search

    • This stood out for me in the article:

      “stun grenade” “flash grenade” “explosive device” evidently all acceptable terms for this device:

      The M84 is the currently issued stun grenade of the United States Army. Upon detonation, it emits an intensely loud “bang” and blinding flash of more than one million candela and 170–180 dB within five feet of initiation, sufficient to cause immediate (but temporary) flash blindness, deafness, tinnitus, and inner ear disturbance.[1] Exposed personnel experience disorientation, confusion and loss of coordination and balance. The M84 is classified as a nonlethal weapon.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M84_stun_grenade

      And this stood out:

      Godbee would not comment on reports that neighbors told officers that there were children in the house, and pointed out toys in the front yard.

    • I saw it, but I couldn’t bring myself to read it.

    • I saw that last night on CNN. It was horrific! The Police in big cities just see every one as the enemy any more, I think.

      • I don’t know if it had an impact on this particular atrocity, but Detroit is like one of the worst hit cities — it’s in full-scale depression over there. I have a feeling that civil liberties fly out the window the worse the economy gets.

  3. Those bird photos are stunning!
    Today’s tabloids are spinning furiously BP’s cynical dip in the spill as a “success”

    http://edgeoforever.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/tabloids-using-some-oil-from-the-spill/

  4. Did Obama really say this younger generation is going to clean up the mess made by the boomers. Wow, how crass.

    • The irony is staggering – just look at the Gulf. When did he say that?

    • Not really, but he trashed baby boomers repeatedly during the primaries. He was trying to put down the Clintons, I guess; but I think he also buys into the Republican ideas about the ’60′s. He said the ’60s was a time of excess.

      • Hell, Obummer is simply an old-fashioned, not-crazy, moderate Republican. The only reason he, and many others, are not formal Republicans is that the well-funded crazies took over the GOP.

  5. The guys in Straight No Chaser are back together and on tour. We caught a concert a few weeks ago. They were wonderful.

  6. I was wondering how B0bots feel about being asked to campaign against a Democrat, and for Specter

    http://edgeoforever.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/b0bots-campaigning-against-a-progressive-qulms-nope/

  7. The siphon is not a solution, even with understated 5,000 flow rate:

    May 17 (Bloomberg) — BP Plc said it is capturing 1,000 barrels of oil a day from a mile-long pipeline connected to its leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico, about a fifth of the estimated flow rate.

    • Except the real amount is at least 10 times that, according to scientists.

  8. “The specter of catastrophe returns”

    “I]t is clear that since September 2008 we have been facing the most difficult situation since the Second World War—perhaps even since the First World War. We have experienced—and are experiencing—truly dramatic times—Jean-Claude Trichet, president of European Central Bank, interview with Der Spiegel, May 15, 2010″
    (snip)

    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/may2010/pers-m17.shtml

    • Lots of people believe we are at the equivalent of 1931 economically. They could well be correct.

  9. Is it just me or does this post keep disappearing from the site?

  10. We really should cut those poor students at Miami of Ohio a little slack. I know for a fact there isn’t a lot to do in Oxford, Ohio. LOL.

  11. For you, BB, from Bloomington, Indiana’s native son Hoagy Carmichael:

  12. Those are pretty birds; I don’t think we get anything like them in SoCal but for the last five houses I’ve lived in we’ve had a Crane visit.

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/05/17/scotus.sex.offenders/index.html?hpt=T1

    That article is about a ruling the Supreme Court put through today. It allows sex offenders to continue to be imprisoned even after their prison term.

    I actually agree with the decision. I mean… repeat offenders get out by playing the system and acting accordingly, then as they’re released, they do it all over again. They should not be out on the streets at all.

  13. Hey, I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer here, but this is the latest down here on the Oil spill.

    http://www.wdsu.com/news/23575855/detail.html

    BP said Monday it was siphoning some of the oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, but worries escalated about the ooze reaching a major ocean current that could carry it through the Florida Keys and up the East Coast.

    BP PLC chief operating officer Doug Suttles said Monday on NBC’s “Today” that a mile-long tube was funneling a little more than 42,000 gallons of crude a day from a blown-out well into a tanker ship.

    That would be about a fifth of the 210,000 gallons the company and the U.S. Coast Guard have estimated are gushing out each day, though scientists who have studied video of the leak say it could be much bigger and even BP acknowledges there’s no way to know for sure how much oil there is.

    • NBC was so upbeat about reporting on the tube this morning. I shoulda known it was spin.

  14. I don’t understand why the WH & congress would insist on spending for military toys that the the Defense Secretary says the military doesn’t need? Unless it is simply that the companies that make them are bribing them.

    • I do agree with this part:

      they will ignore Gates’s pleas to hold the line on military pay raises and health-care costs, arguing that now is no time to skimp on pay and benefits for troops who have been fighting two drawn-out wars.

      Since military pay is very bad, especially considering the hazards. Then again, Congress could act and bring the troops home. Hey! Didn’t some candidate in ’08 campaign on that? What happened? /s

  15. I’m sure a number of our congress critters benefit, both in their stocks and campaign contributions. Again the message is blatant; it’s not about what is in the best interest of the tax payer but what is most beneficial to corporations.

  16. The primary military contractor spreads the sub-contracts for a project over as many Congressional districts as possible. If that contract is threatened with elimination, they call a lot of congressmen and say Gates wants to eliminate X number of jobs in your district..blah..blah and we will make sure that the voters know that it will be you fault if the jobs are lost.
    Simple..

    • So why not just have the government provide jobs instead. You know, jobs to that don’t involve making things that kill people.

      • I recall something like that done, once upon a time. Workers built trails, bridges, community centers, and things that average Americans could see and use and enjoy. Most of which are still in existence.

        Roosevelt and the Works Progress Administration. Now there was a Democrat! {{sigh}}

        • My home town high school’s football stadium was built by the WPA, and with the expected upkeep and renovations, is still used today.

      • Because that would be socialism ;-)

  17. We have a very elusive blue bird that I have seen twice in a year. Al says there are blue buntings also, But I have yet to see one.

    Twice a day I take bird seed and put it on the railing of the deck outside of the kitchen doors which are french doors. So while we eat we watch the birds eat too. Sometimes I forget and they sit in the tree next to the deck and yell at me until I come out and feed them.
    Normally we have nuthatch, several different kinds of wrens, both house finches and gold finches, blue jays, cowbirds, chickadees, doves and titmice.
    We occasionally have a couple of Cardinals.

    Every time I see a blue bird I feel like it is a sort of treasure or miracle. I would love to see that tanager.

    • maybe you’re seeing an Indigo Bunting? I have lots of nesting pairs of Indigo Buntings and Eastern Bluebirds on my land. They are my favorites and the Indigo Bunting is such a beautiful and stunning shade of blue. Their mates are chocolate brown.

    • There’s no record of Blue Buntings north of South Texas, and all those are “incidental” or “break-out” occurences. When we had three here in River City a few years ago–a male and two females–2000-3000 birders came from all over the US to see them.

      We do have color, though: Green Jays; Great Kiskadees; Cardinals; Ringed and Green Kingfishers year round and Belted in winter; Vermilion Flycatchers, Altamira, Audubon’s, Bullock’s and Orchard Orioles; Painted and Varied Buntings; Blue Grosbeaks; and a bit of just about everything else in migration.

    • Indigo Buntings are bright blue–very beautiful. They are tiny–the size of a warbler.

      • We see a lot of these birds in the spring because they are migrating. There is also a huge cemetery in Cambridge where you can see a lot of migrating birds–the Mt. Auburn Cemetery. There are a lot of famous people buried there too.

  18. well I get to go vote for Sestack tomorrow. I am not very excited about it. But there are two reasons I am voting for him. His record is to the left of Spector’s and they keep playing this commercial of Obama saying he loves Spector.

    • yikes Sestak and Specter.

      It must be bad spelling week here at my house.

      • Who will you vote for in governor spot?
        I’m thinking of voting for Hoeffel even if he doesn’t have a chance.

  19. What beautiful birds! The lovely female tanager is just the right shade to blend into the chartreuse green of spring leaves.

  20. I looked over comments on my comment on the Sunday Afternoon News Break Post 5/16 to my description of finding out, while doing a well-child check in a clinic, that FGM had been done to the young girl. It appears some commentators may have misinterpreted what I said — or I that didn’t explain enough about the situation. I added some more comments to that earlier post which may help. Basically, the damage had unfortunately already occurred years earlier; the daughter was well-cared for since. The question was if the mother would be willing to take her daughter to see a specialist about reconstructive or any other mitigating treatment. If that was even possible; I couldn’t tell, but had to recommend this. I’m sure they saw me as trying to undo one of their traditional customs. Probably they would not come back.

    The following idea will be classified as Bad “down the slippery slope” or Tolerable “risk reduction,” depending on your viewpoint:

    There is a big Somali immigrant population near Harborview Medical Center, a public hospital, which in 1996 tried to offer a ritual procedure which would not remove tissue. This was after Somali mothers asked for circumcision for both sons and daughters.

    In the course of its review, the committee asked if performing a symbolic blood-letting on Somali girls would discourage their parents from sending their daughters back to Africa for a damaging and far more dangerous procedure. ….. Hospital spokeswoman Tina Mankowski described the proposal in medical terms, as “a small cut to the prepuce, the hood above the clitoris, with no tissue excised, and this would be conducted under local anesthetic for children old enough to understand the procedure and give consent in combination with informed consent of the parents.” ….

    [After controversy,] Harborview abandoned its effort, issuing a final news release stating that its “role in considering the need for a culturally sensitive, safe alternative to the practices of female circumcision or female genital mutilation has now been concluded.” In the end, the hospital is said to have found the effort “too controversial.”

    Dr. Leslie Miller, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Harborview, continues to treat the same Somali women who initiated this discussion. …They have told Dr. Miller that if they can afford it, they will send their daughters back to Somalia. If they cannot, they will send their daughters to one of the local midwives.

    At the same time, Dr. Miller’s patients have told her that they are confused that Americans encourage the circumcision of their sons, but refuse a less invasive symbolic sunna for their daughters. “We will cut the whole foreskin off a penis,” said Dr. Miller, relaying their frustration, “but we won’t even consider a cut, a sunna, cutting the prepuce, a little bloodletting (on a girl).” To this day, Dr. Miller claims, the immigrants have not been given a satisfactory explanation for the distinction, or for the hospital’s and the larger American community’s rejection of the symbolic circumcision that would have saved their daughters from what they (and, normally, we) understand to be an inevitable and significantly worse fate. Ironically, Dr. Miller foresees the day when the hospital and the community will have to confront the medical and emotional repercussions of the [Somali lay] midwives’ work [of extreme cuts which result in loss of tissue and scarring].

    The symbolic cut or “mere bloodletting” contemplated by the hospital was not a circumcision, and did not involve the excision or infibulation of any tissue,….unlike the traditional forms of FGM, it would have been less injurious to the health, welfare and safety of girls than male circumcision is to the health, welfare and safety of boys.

    http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?47+Duke+L.+J.+717

    ….And meanwhile there is cosmetic surgery done to “prettify” the labia, for those women rich enough and neurotic or pressured enough to have it done. This is such a WTF culture.

    • Argh, why should I post on another depressing topic. We’ve got culturally diverse misogynist customs, non-evidence-based surgery on body parts, the oil gusher caused by arrogant bonus-class management, financial “reform” with lots o’ loopholes,….

      I’m going to go put up a bird feeder. That will make me feel better.

      • Birdwatching is great for reducing stress and feeling good in general. I think we are all starved for contact with nature. I can’t wait to get out of this city and into a greener and more wide open place.

        • Don’t forget to watch Phoebe (hummingbird) on Ustream. She has two babies. Hope was born on mother’s day and Haku the next day.

          phoebeallens.com

    • And there is the routine “reducing” of clitorises deemed “too large” by medical professionals.

    • Thanks for the explanation. Personally, I think circumcision of males is barbaric too. It’s not that hard for a man to clean an uncircumcised penis. I’d never to do that to a kid–male or female.

    • ..it would have been less injurious to the health, welfare and safety of girls than male circumcision is to the health, welfare and safety of boys.

      Thanks for the info. The last line from the Duke excerpt above sounds off. Unlike male circumcision, female circumcision (no matter how gestured) is done to remove sexuality and sexual sensitivity. It is psychologically and physically oppressive. That is not the intent or outcome of male circumcision.

      • In addition to that, male circumcision is done in male supremacist societies and often has male supremacist meanings (such as in Judaism). This is quite different from mutilation of female genitals, which is done in male supremacist societies and has male supremacist meanings.

        • Off topic: Congrats to Branjor on choosing such a cool name. It sounds like the name a scriptwriter would give to a barbarian warlord character. :)

          • Barbarian warlord character? That’s a new one to me, LOL! Actually, it comes from the names of my two dogs, Brandy and Jordi.

            Thanks, IBW! (I think) :)

        • That said, I wouldn’t circumcise either sex either. Nature puts body parts there for a reason, so who are we to take them off, unless there is a medical necessity?

        • Based on that male circumcision theory, Europe, China, Latin America would be less sexist than the US. Can’t concur there. ;-)

  21. The intent of male circumcision is to prove God’s covenant with a man. Go figure that one out.
    The problem isn’t necessarily hygiene when the man is younger, it is when he is old that it becomes problematic.

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