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Sunday Reads: Tyrants and Tsunamis

Good Morning or for you later birds…Good Afternoon! Lately the news has been so bad that we usually end with something “light” but today I want to start with something funny to sort of get you all in a laughing mood, at least for a moment until the reality hits… so here is a video from The Tonight Show, featuring Hillary Clinton and Nicolas Sarkozy:

Hillary Clinton knows how to work the French. Watch her in Paris with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Okay…on with the show. The world seems to be going to hell lately. Don’t you agree? How can you argue with that assessment when you hear something like this on the news:

Physicist Michio Kaku joined Studio B to talk about the efforts underway to cool the nuclear reactors in Japan.

The part to listen for is around 1:33, where Dr. Kaku says, “Look, we’re gonna lose a good chunk of Northern Japan…” Imagine, an entire half of a country like Japan….completely inhabitable. What are these poor people going to do? What are they thinking about? The emotional despair is truly incomprehensible. Maybe he is on to something…perhaps dumping sand and cement over the entire plant is the right thing to do. (I know that some of you may have seen this link already, but I just thought it illustrated the whole “going to hell” pretty accurately.) There have been other news reports which reveals TEPCO wanted to pull all their operators out of the Fukushima Nuclear Plant three days after the Earthquake struck. TEPCO was willing to let the Japanese Self-Defense Force and US Military sort things out. This was met with an obvious “hell no” from Japan’s Prime Minster Kan. TEPCO wanted to withdraw all nuclear plant workers 3 days after quake – The Mainichi Daily News

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) told the government on March 14 that it wanted to withdraw all of its workers from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, it has been learned. TEPCO’s suggestion came two days after a cooling system failure caused by the March 11 quake and tsunami triggered a hydrogen blast at the plant’s No. 1 reactor. Though Prime Minister Naoto Kan rejected the proposal, the finding suggests that the power company was aware from an early stage that damage at the plant could develop into a nuclear disaster exposing workers to high levels of radiation. It is believed that TEPCO was prepared to let Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military handle the situation.

Out of Fukushima, into new uncertainty – CNN.com

Tears suddenly welled up in his eyes as the middle-aged Japanese man recalled the longest drive home in his life a little over a week ago. “Daiichi … my house … six hours,” he said in broken English. Through an interpreter, he explained that, when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck northeastern Japan on March 11, he lost all contact with his family and it took him six hours on damaged roads to reach home, located 50 kilometers (30 miles) away from his workplace inside Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Extending his arms as if to hug someone, he relived the moment of relief and excitement when he finally saw his wife and children after fearing the worst. […] The Japanese government has evacuated more than 200,000 residents within a 20-kilometer (12-mile) radius of the Daiichi plant and advised people living between the 20- and 30-kilometer zones to stay indoors. He decided not to take chances and brought his family to Kashiwazaki, where local authorities have turned community centers into temporary shelters for several hundred Fukushima residents — including employees of the power plant. “They all say on TV that they give us all the facts, but I have my doubts,” he said of officials from Tokyo Electric Power Company, operator of the stricken Daiichi plant. “I want things to get better but I don’t think it’s going to be easy.”

It does look like there is some stabilization over at the Fukushima plant as electricity is partially restored:  Workers see some success at nuclear plant as cooling efforts continue – CNN.com

Workers began to see some success in their battle to cool down reactors at the quake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant Sunday, but Japanese officials said they may need to release additional radioactive gas into the air. The plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said electricity was being supplied to reactor No. 2 , Kyodo News reported. But officials said they were monitoring reactor No. 3 to determine whether to release gas to reduce mounting pressure in the containment vessel — the steel and concrete shell that insulates radioactive material inside.

Pressure Stabilizes at Japanese Nuclear Reactor, Operator Says – NYTimes.com

At an afternoon news conference, officials from the Tokyo Electric Power Company said venting from Reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station would not be needed.

For the latest info on Japan remember these websites: Kyodo News Reuters NHK World News NHK Live News Stream On to Libya. Operation “Odyssey Dawn” is in full swing, and as Boston Boomer observed yesterday…why do they always come up with such cheesy names for any military action? Personally this one sounds like a stripper name…in line with “Misty Delta Dream” and “Sugar Velvet.”  (Sorry, my defense mechanisms have been switched on…and I have to joke about all these horrible events to be able to comprehend the real violence and tragedy we are witnessing this week.)U.S. actions may speak louder than words – The Washington Post

As international forces launched attacks against Libya on Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton struck a tone highly unusual in the annals of American military interventions: humility. “We did not lead this,” she told reporters. But her modest words belied the far larger role the United States played as international forces began an open-ended assault on Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s military capabilities. U.S. warships fired more than 110 Tomahawk missiles into Libyan territory to disable air-defense systems. And the French and British warplanes that began to enforce the emerging no-fly zone operate under U.S. command. Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, director of the Joint Staff, described the U.S. role to reporters at the Pentagon: “We are on the leading edge of a coalition military operation.” The administration’s mixed message reflects the challenge President Obama faces at home and abroad as he opens a third military front in a Muslim nation.

The Associated Press: US pounds Libyan air defenses, assesses damage

Hours after U.S. and British ships pounded Libya with precision missiles, American officials are eager to confirm that the damage was extensive enough to allow air patrols to protect civilians being targeted by embattled strongman Moammar Gadhafi. Military officials said that as Sunday dawned in Libya, satellites would give commanders a better view of the expected destruction along the country’s coastline. U.S. and British ships launched the first phase of the missile assault Saturday, raining 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles onto more than 20 radar systems, communications centers and surface-to-air missile sites.

For the latest info on Libya and Bahrain and Yeman: AJE – Al Jazeera English Libya no-fly zone – live updates | World news | guardian.co.uk Egypt had a pretty good turn out: High turnout in Egyptian constitutional poll – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

Millions of Egyptians have turned out for today’s constitutional referendum, the first vote following the overthrow last month of Hosni Mubarak, the country’s long-serving president. Voters are deciding on a package of nine amendments, about half of which deal with the conduct of elections. One would make it easier for independent candidates to run for president; another would re-establish judicial oversight of elections. The amendments were drafted by an eight-man constitutional committee, which was appointed by the ruling military junta. They must be approved or rejected as a bloc.

Deep divisions over Egypt’s referendum – Anger in Egypt – Al Jazeera English

The changes would make it easier for independent candidates to run for office. They would bar the president from transferring “terrorism suspects” to emergency courts, a common practice in Mubarak-era Egypt, and re-establish judicial oversight over Egypt’s fraud-riddled elections. Yet most of Egypt’s formal opposition is urging people to reject the amendments.

I am sure you do not need to be reminded of the lack of women’s involvement in drafting the amendments. I hope that changes, to reflect full representation of  Egypt’s population, half of which is women.  I just don’t see it happening…do you? Look for updates on the latest news in the comments. From Minx’s Missing Link File: As usual it has to do with women’s issues, particularly getting men in the delivery room so they become aware of the risk of giving birth. Get men in the delivery room, say Bangladesh’s first midwives | Misha Hussain | Global development | guardian.co.uk

One-in-500 women die in childbirth in Bangladesh – with cultural factors as much to blame as a lack of medical care

MDG : Bangladesh Midwife Training Bangladesh is training its first batch of midwives, helping it meet its millennium goals targets. Photograph: Amy Helene Johansson 

There’s hardly a man to be seen in the maternity ward of the Maternal and Child Health Training Institute in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Despite the lack of any law forbidding men to enter the delivery room, fathers are normally not present during the birth of their own child – an attitude that needs to change, say the country’s first midwives, who are due to graduate next month. “Men need to be involved in the labour process if we are to reduce maternal mortality,” says Mala Reberio, one of the 20 midwives being trained to international standards in Bangladesh, which is still heavily reliant on community skilled birth attendants, who lack the skill and the authority to perform more complicated deliveries. Currently, one in 500 women in Bangladesh dies during childbirth. “If [men] could see firsthand the complications of childbirth, they would be more likely to send their pregnant wives to proper medical facilities and less likely to insist on early childbirth after marriage,” says Reberio. More than 75% of deliveries take place at home, and the average age of women having their first child is just 16 years, according to the UN.

Your Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: This post from Historiann got my attention this week. Be sure to click the link and read the whole thing. Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

Telling Histories:  Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower, edited by Deborah Gray White, features autobiographical essays from prominent African American women historians that reflect on their careers, their tenure battles, and their struggles to invent the field of African American women’s history at the same time as they were forced to fight to make and preserve spaces for themselves within the historical profession.  I blogged about this book briefly two years ago, but just this week finally sat down to read it.  (Consider this my slight contribution to Women’s History Month blogging.) It is good to be reminded of how new the field of African American women’s history is–the contributors to this volume were born in the 1940s-1960s.  They are people we know and work with, and they are truly a pioneer generation.  White’s introductory essay does a brilliant job of highlighting the awesome challenges of professing black women’s history from inside a black woman’s body…

Okay, so that is today’s round-up. Are we coming to the point where eventually things will become like the post apocalyptic fiction similar to The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. When people are forced to live in caves…and where other humans are always on the menu? This reminds me when that movie “Alive” came out. At the time, my Nana, who never missed a meal in her life, found the movie very interesting. However, unlike a normal person’s first reaction to cannibalism…which to me is one of disgust, my grandmother’s first response was, “Oh, I wonder what would be the leanest part…” She then proceeded to discuss in detail which parts of the human would be the tastiest…to melt in your mouth. It was like she was describing the butchering of a cow, mentioning Rump Roast and Ribs. If she was one of the survivors of an airline crash in the frozen mountains of South America, her main issue with actually eating another person to stay alive, would not be the internal struggle of turning to cannibalism. Her main concern would be making sure you don’t over cook “Tim.” Keep basting “Judy” to insure the meat is juicy and moist…and remember, salt and pepper to taste. So what are you reading today? Look for updates on any breaking news in Libya or Japan below in the comments.

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