December 30th, 2010

Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Slavery Paintings Coming Down From Atlanta Office

Slavery Paintings Coming Down From Atlanta Office

Murals of slaves harvesting sugar cane on a Georgia plantation and picking and ginning cotton are coming off the walls of a state building on the order of a new agriculture commissioner.

The murals are part of a collection of eight works painted by George Beattie in 1956 depicting an idealized version of Georgia farming, from the corn grown by prehistoric American Indians to a 20th-century veterinary lab. In the Deep South, the history in between includes the forced use of slave labor.

"I don't like those pictures," said Republican Gary Black, the newly elected agriculture commissioner. "There are a lot of other people who don't like them."

Slavery was indisputably part of 19th-century farming in Georgia. By 1840, more than 280,000 slaves were living in the state, many as field hands. Just before the Civil War, slaves made up about 40 percent of the state's population.

Beattie's murals tell part of the story. In one painting, two well-dressed white gentlemen in top hats and dress coats leisurely inspect processed cotton. They're framed on either side by black slaves doing the backbreaking work of cotton farming.

On the left, a slave hunches over to pick cotton bolls by hand. Two other slaves are using the infamous Whitney gin — invented near Savannah — to separate cotton fiber from seeds as a white overseer weighs cotton bags behind them.

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Slavery: It's just one of life's roughnesses, doncha know. asdfghjkl

You can see four of the murals here.
yzma is not amused

(no subject)

Man Reenacts "Frogger," Gets Hit by Car

CLEMSON, South Carolina - A man has been hospitalized after police in South Carolina say he was hit by a sport utility vehicle while playing a real-life version of the video game "Frogger."

Authorities said the 23-year-old man was taken to a hospital in Anderson after he was struck at around 9 p.m. Monday.

In the "Frogger" arcade game, players move frogs through traffic on a busy road and through a hazard-filled river. Before he was hit, police say the man had been discussing the game with his friends.

Chief Jimmy Dixon says the man yelled "go" and darted into oncoming traffic in the four-lane highway.

No charges are expected against the driver. The name of the man who was struck has not been released. He was in stable condition Monday night.



How the disabled were dehumanised

It's official: disabled people aren't allowed to be independent. This week, amid rows about how this country treats people with disabilities, it was announced that the government will be phasing out the Independent Living Fund (ILF), a vital stipend that allows more than 21,000 "severely disabled people to pay for help so they can live independently". Such provisions, unlike bank bailouts and subsidies to arms dealers and millionaire tax-dodgers, are no longer a priority for this administration.

When I heard the news, I couldn't help but think of Jody McIntyre, a 20-year-old activist and journalist with cerebral palsy, who I saw batoned and dragged from his wheelchair at the demonstrations last Thursday, and who later delivered a series of epic discursive smackdowns to a senior BBC correspondent on prime-time television.

The press has been trying to imply that, because Jody is a revolutionary activist and ideologue who has travelled to Palestine and South America, he cannot be a "real" disabled person – he must, as Ben Brown suggested on the BBC, have somehow been "provoked". Collapse )


A Chávez article sin hyperbole?

 Why Chávez Happened: Carlos Andrés Pérez's Legacy

Former Venezuelan President Carlos Andrés Pérez celebrates his release from house arrest in November 1998
It's fitting that Venezuela's disgraced former President Carlos Andrés Pérez died on Dec. 25. Like Marley's ghost in the Dickens Christmas classic, Pérez — or CAP, as he was known, who was 88 and will be buried, according to his family, in Venezuela — was a cautionary specter. His own ponderous chain should haunt Latin America's elite, which has never understood that its kleptocratic abuses, embodied by leaders like Pérez, almost always give rise, via ballots or bullets, to radical populists like Venezuela's current President, Hugo Chávez (who tried bullets first, then ballots). But given the events of this December, the Ghost of CAP should be spooking Chávez.

The last time I interviewed Pérez was in 1993, just days before he was impeached and later convicted on embezzlement charges. Chávez, then an army paratrooper officer, was sitting in prison for having led a bloody coup attempt against Pérez the year before — a retro-rebellion that was nonetheless greeted with loud cheers by most Venezuelans, who were fed up with watching venal cogollos (chieftains) like CAP plunder the fruits of the western hemisphere's largest oil reserves, leaving the country with an inexcusable poverty rate of more than 50%. One of the best-selling books in Caracas at the time was the three-volume Dictionary of Corruption in Venezuela, and the joke on the streets was that Chávez deserved 30 years behind bars: one for attempting the coup and 29 for failing.Collapse )

Finally a Chávez article that doesn't paint him as either the devil incarnate or God's gift to humanity. I thought those didn't exist in the States.

BBC: Gay execution supporter interview was required to ‘balance’ Elton John baby coverage

A followup to this post

The BBC has mounted a defence of its decision to include an interview with a supporter of state sponsored execution of gay men in its coverage of the birth of Sir Elton John and David Furnish’s first child. A spokesman for the corporation told that the interview with a right-wing Christian fundamentalist allowed the BBC News at Six to reflect a genuine debate over the issue of surrogacy for gay couples.

On the 28th December he BBC’s flagship News at Six bulletin watched by almost seven million people ended with a report on the birth of Sir Elton and Mr Furnish’s first child. The report contained just one interview, with Stephen Green, of right-wing group Christian Voice, without any warning that he is someone who has in the past supported the death penalty for gay men.

BBC entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba introduced Mr Green by saying: “not everyone is pleased to see such a high profile same sex couple start to raise a surrogate child.” The report then contained an interview that was visibly edited together in which Mr Green told the BBC: “This isn’t just a designer baby for Sir Elton John, this is a designer accessory… [cut] Now it seems like money can buy him anything, and so he has entered into this peculiar arrangement…[cut] The baby is a product of it. A baby needs a mother and it seems an act of pure selfishness to deprive a baby of a mother.”

Yesterday, reported that aside from supporting a proposed death penalty for gay men in Uganda, Mr Green claimed that gay Welsh Rugby star Gareth Thomas was a “wicked” role model for children, compared pop star Ian Watkins (H- from the band Steps) to a mass murderer when he came out as gay and attempted to bring a private prosecution for blasphemy against the director general of the BBC over a gay related issue. The coverage by provoked outrage on Facebook and Twitter and scores of complaints by readers.

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Source: Pink News

Bonus article that just popped up on my FB feed: Comment: If the BBC can’t stop offending gays, we should get a license fee rebate, or quit paying
I love Lucy

Minimum Wage Earners in 7 States Get a Few Extra Pennies

DENVER – It will be a happier New Year for nearly 650,000 workers earning minimum wage. They're getting small raises in seven states that tie their salaries to the cost of living.
The minimum wages in those states will go up between 9 cents and 12 cents an hour Saturday because their consumer price indexes rose in 2010.

The extra pennies can't come soon enough for Joe Martinez of Denver, who works odd jobs such as lawn maintenance for minimum wage. In Colorado, the wage is rising 11 cents, from the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour to $7.36 an hour.
"The prices of everything are going up — food, rent, electricity," Martinez, 55, said on his lunch break Wednesday. "I know it's not a lot of money, but any extra money will help, you know?"
Poverty advocates say the rising minimum wages shouldn't be seen as raises, just adjustments to keep the working poor at the same level as prices of goods rise.
The National Employment Law Project, a New York-based advocate for workers, estimates that about 647,000 people will see their paychecks go up in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

"It just ensures minimum wage keeps pace with the rising costs of necessities like milk and bread and gas," said Paul Sonn, legal co-director for NELP.
The NELP and other workers' advocates helped block a legal challenge to a minimum wage hike in Washington. That state will have 2011's highest statewide minimum wage at $8.67 an hour.
"These people are not putting this money into IRAs and savings accounts. It goes right back into the economy," said Rick S. Bender, president of the Washington State Labor Council, a union group that represents about 400,000 workers.
Ten states schedule their minimum wages to rise automatically when the cost of living rises, but the cost of living didn't rise enough in Florida, Nevada and Missouri to trigger a wage hike.
In Colorado, the minimum wage hike next year is especially welcome. Unlike most states, Colorado's adjustable wage can drop because of deflation. A year ago, it fell 3 cents an hour to the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.
It was the first time a state's minimum wage has dropped since the federal minimum wage law was adopted in 1938, although many employers left wages unchanged rather than cut workers' pay.
"The last couple years have been brutal for everybody, for all workers, not just minimum-wage workers," said Rich Jones, director of policy and research at the Denver-based Bell Policy Center, a progressive research group. However, Jones said that even small upticks in the minimum wage can help keep poor people working.
"For the lowest-paid workers, at least they're still able to buy the same level of goods and services in the marketplace, so it is a help," Jones said.
Retail clerk Kimberly Bobian of Denver agreed. Bobian stopped by a corner grocery to pick up a can of tomato sauce and said it's hard to keep her pantry stocked on the federal minimum wage.
"It's going up 11 cents? That's a big deal, definitely," she said. "Food prices are going up, everything goes up, so any little bit helps."

$.12 more an hour is $4.80 extra a week for a person working a 40-hour week.

This is the point that we've reached in this country - some of our hardest working people are so bad off that they feel grateful to be getting another 5 bucks a week. And this money doesn't even reflect an increase in wages. Meanwhile, the income gap continues to grow; the richest one percent take home 24% of all income in the United States, and they just got their tax cut extended.

Things are never going to get better unless we figure out a way to get together and make them get better.
• hi... this is corey.
  • schmiss

2010 in a nutshell

Mosque foes launch Bieber boycott

The unlikely story of how the teen pop sensation became ensnared in the "ground zero mosque" fight

Andy Sullivan, a construction worker and Brooklyn native, has been one of the loudest opponents of Park51, the planned mosque and community center near ground zero. Founder of the 9/11 Hard Hat Pledge -- under which construction workers vow not to work at the mosque site -- Sullivan has been a regular presence on television, known for wearing his signature American flag hard hat and talking tough about radical Muslims.

So it was quite a surprise this month to read that Sullivan has set his sights on a new target: Canadian teen pop superstar Justin Bieber.

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franklin sherman

What to expect in 2011 - Trends Research Journal Predictions

The mid-January issue of the Trends Journal will feature our “Top Trends 2011” — The Trends Research Institute’s compendium of the dominant trends for the year ahead. The following synopses of these trends provide insights into some of what to expect.

After the tumultuous years of the Great Recession, a battered people may wish that 2011 will bring a return to kinder, gentler times. But that is not what we are predicting. Instead, the fruits of government and institutional action – and inaction – on many fronts will ripen in unplanned-for fashions. Trends we have previously identified, and that have been brewing for some time, will reach maturity in 2011, impacting just about everyone in the world

And the top 10 are...
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  • zoram

Prison sentence for stealing Auschwitz sign

A Polish court has sentenced a Swedish man to nearly three years in prison for organising the theft of the "Arbeit macht frei" sign from the entry gate of the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz. The sign was stolen last December but was soon recovered.

The court in Krakow jailed Anders Högström, 34, for two years and eight months.

When the court announced its decision, Högström said calmly: "Yes, I accept the verdict."

Högström, caught in Sweden in February, will shortly be extradited back home to serve out the remainder of his sentence.

Two Poles who stole the metal sign and cut it into three pieces to fit into their car were jailed for two and a half years.

The sign has been repaired and is on display in the Auschwitz museum, while a replica hangs over the entrance to the camp.Some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished at Auschwitz, located near the village of Oswiecim, close to Krakow. Prisoners arriving at the camp used to enter through the iron gate topped by the sign.

More than 200 hectares (500 acres) of the former camp became a museum after the war ended in 1945.

donk... donk... donk...

Female Inmate Sues Prison for Housing Her in a Male Facility

Deena Kaye Myers was born with male genitalia, but due to severe birth defects was surgically altered to be female. Hers is not the most straightforward gender history, but her birth certificate reads (very clearly) that she is a woman.

Which is why Myers filed a $25 million lawsuit against the Virginia prison system for not allowing her to be transferred to a female facility—despite ample evidence that she identifies both physically and mentally as a female.

As she wrote in one formal complaint to the prison:

“I want to make it clear to you, I am not a [hermaphrodite or transsexual], I AM A FEMALE. My birth certificate states my gender as female. … I [do not] belong in an all-male prison.”

Myers hasn’t always identified as a woman, however. When she was arrested in 2003 for armed robbery, she went by the name “Scott Myers” and identified as male. (During the court proceedings, she was listed under both “Kaye” and “Scott.”)

But soon after her arrest she began to question her identity, ultimately concluding that her true gender was female. Before her jail sentence had even began, she explained her situation to prison authorities, however, she was denied her request to transfer to a woman’s prison.

Since then, Myers claims to have been subject to “invasion of privacy” and “various degrees of sexual harassment.” Amanda Hess from TBD reported the infractions:

At times, Myers—who requires use of a wheelchair—says she was forced to crawl on the ground to access her bed and shower. Once, the suit claims, a male official with “notebook and camera” visited Myers to “look at any tattoos Myers had … ordered Myers to disrobe completely … then proceeded to take photographs, both close up and full body shots, of her body including her chest and pelvic regions.” In 2008, she says she contemplated suicide.

Myers says she was subjected to repeated strip searches and body cavity searches by male corrections officials. In 2009, she had her birth certificate sent to a prison counselor to prove her sex at birth. Myers says the counselor was “shocked” that the document listed her as female. This year, Myers says she underwent several more genital exams in the prison. According to the suit, one Department of Corrections doctor “seemed to still be in ‘shock’ from the first exam to not find a penis but rather a vagina.” In August, Myers underwent a blood test; her suit claims that her “hormone levels clearly reflect that of a biological female.”

Despite this physiological evidence and the assignment on her birth certificate, Myers’ requests were all denied.

The gender politics behind this one are, in short, a doozy. On the one hand, it’s strangely heartening that the prison system assigned Myers based on her male gender identity (and not her physiology) at the time of sentencing. But then why the inflexibility afterward?

It’s an issue that’s been faced before and will be faced again. And there’s no simple solution. Gender identity is a vital question when it comes to categorizing people in the gray-area world of the prison system. It speaks to the human civil right to self-identify (even after trying to jack a car).

And when it comes to the complex human mind (and heart), is it too much to ask that a system be able to accommodate someone’s gender?

Good Men Project

Can we get a jail/prison tag?