Category: Culture

A couple of new architectural delights


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Dutch law now dictates that meat and fish markets must be covered for hygiene purposes. Rotterdam’s Markthal (literally, Market Hall) has undergone a redesign to accommodate the requirements. The new market is housed under a huge arch from which apartments look down upon it.


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Waking up with the rising sun is one thing, but waking up inside the rising sun is quite another. Visitors to the recently completed Yanqi Lake Kempinski Hotel in China can do just that, though. The hotel has been designed to look like the sun rising over the Yanqi Lake.

Surely a couple of spots worth visiting, staying in, shopping – and just taking the time to marvel at what architectural design cen do with modern materials.

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Georgia grand jury files NO CHARGES against cops who disfigured toddler

Bounkham Phonesavanh
What Bounkham Phonesavanh used to look like

A Georgia grand jury decided not to file criminal charges against the officers of the Habersham SWAT team who disfigured a toddler during a botched drug raid in May.

The SWAT team, executing a no-knock warrant on the home, told by an informant to expect armed guards and cache of weapons, tossed a flash-bang stun grenade into the home.

The grenade landed inside a playpen where a baby was sleeping.

Nineteen-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh, affectionately known to his family as “Baby Bou Bou,” lost his nose and left nipple, sustained burns to his face and body, and suffered a collapsed lung and brain injuries…

Habersham police were searching for a relative who did not live in the house, who was not there at the time, and who was taken into custody without incident later in the day and charged only with possession of methamphetamines. They found no drugs or weapons inside the home and later admitted to being unaware there were children inside the residence…

Initially, the city of Habersham publicly vowed to cover the child’s medical expenses, but last month recanted on the promise…

The 23-person Habersham County grand jury heard evidence for six days before announcing Monday the officers involved in the incident would be cleared of any wrongdoing.

“This is happening every day to people [who are] being relentlessly and unnecessarily militarized by police who think just because they’re supposed to be upholding the law, they are above the law themselves,” Mrs. Phonesavanh said.

“It’s time to remind the cops that they should be serving and protecting our neighborhoods, not waging war on the people in them,” she said.

So-called good cops are becoming scarce everywhere in this land of guns and glory. The blue silence of cops who won’t take responsibility for the damage they bring to a community – by mistake or intent – is expected. What isn’t expected is a grand jury, a public body made of citizens representing the community as a whole, that refuses to live up to their own responsibility. Or maybe that’s just a companion piece to what American cops are becoming, have become.

Dumb Crook(s) of the Day

Family Values
Butt dial leads police to meth lab

Three Floridians were busted after one of them butt-dialed 911 while discussing their alleged drug operation.

The dispatcher heard Donna Knope, 55, Jason Knope, 32, and Thomas Stallings, 41, talk about “making and selling methamphetamine” for nearly half an hour on Saturday, authorities said.

Police traced the call to the backyard of the Knopes’ home on Roland Drive in Deltona, 30 miles north of Orlando…

Donna Knope is Jason Knope’s mother.

Volusia County Sheriff’s Office deputies looked inside an open window to a shed to find what appeared to be a meth lab…

They saw a “bottle that appeared to be smoking” and white smoke came streaming from the shed, according to police.

The trio was arrested at the scene where deputies say they found all the elements needs to operate a meth lab, including hypodermic needles, a butane torch, plastic tubing, coffee filters, lighter fluid and more.

All three suspects were charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and possessing methamphetamine with the intent to sell or deliver…

Har!

Civil Rights continue to grow – Republicans continue to fail


Marriage freedom selfies, a new day in Idaho, NevadaJIM URQUHART/REUTERS

Legal momentum for extending U.S. marriage rights to same-sex couples accelerated on Tuesday as a federal appeals court struck down bans on gay matrimony in Idaho and Nevada a day after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand similar rulings for five other states.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled the bans in Idaho and Nevada violated the constitution and cannot be enforced, adding to a growing list of states where same-sex unions are now legal.

The 9th Circuit move puts the United States on track for legal gay marriage in 35 states, as rulings by the court are binding on all states in its region including three others that do not permit gay marriage, Arizona, Montana and Alaska…

Nevada’s Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, whose state withdrew its opposition to gay marriage earlier this year, said he respected the ruling, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada welcomed it warmly…

By contrast, Idaho Republican Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said blah, blah, blah…

County clerks’ offices in big cities in Idaho and Nevada said they were reviewing the ruling and waiting for formal direction before issuing licenses.

Diana Alba, clerk of Nevada’s Clark County, said her office had been preparing for weeks, including changing the forms for marriage licenses so they use gender-neutral pronouns, employing “party one” and “party two” instead of “bride” and “groom.”

When we get the green light, we’re ready,” Alba said…

Click the link above to read the complete article. It finishes with a state-by-state update on further challenges to the last few states dragging their feet. Still afraid to enter the 21st Century.

Republican commitment to Christian sharia law illustrates what a dead end that party has become. They haven’t a conservative viewpoint to offer. They only whine “NO”, beat their holier-than-thou bosoms and hope there are enough old white folks left to keep them in office – picking plums off the tree of corporate lobbyists.

In this occasional land of the free, there are plenty of old white folks like me who were willing to stand up for our Black brothers and sisters in the 1950’s. We’re still here and perfectly able to smack Democrats on the butt to get them to join up with progressive women, minorities, young people. Speak out, march to the polls and shove foot-dragging bigots out of the way.

It may not be quick enough to satisfy this short time each of us has to tread on this Earth – but, the need for freedom shall prevail.

UPDATE: Idaho governor apparently whined loud and hard enough to nudge Justice Kennedy into ordering a temporary stay of the order allowing same-sex marriages. Shouldn’t be long before the appellate court can review the plea. Sanity will return.

Sometimes, you’re in real trouble if you take advice on sex from your mom!

Shocked medical staff in a clinic in central Colombia discovered a potato growing inside a patient’s vagina. The bizarre phenomenon was discovered when doctors attended a 22-year-old woman complaining of abdominal pains this week.

The embarrassed young woman explained that she had been advised by her mother to insert a potato into her vagina as a means of avoiding unwanted pregnancy. “My mom told me that if I didn’t want to get pregnant, I should put a potato up there, and I believed her…”

After leaving the tuber in place for around two weeks the good news is that the young woman was not pregnant. The bad news was that she began to experience intense pain in her lower abdomen. The potato had germinated, and grown roots inside the lady’s most private parts.

When the nurse went to examine the patient, she originally thought she had been the target of a practical joke, as she found roots emerging from the young woman´s vagina.

The offending root vegetable was removed without need for surgery, and there should be no lasting physical effects on the young woman…

Sex education is often incomplete in rural Colombia.

Eeoough!

Thanks [I think] Ursarodinia

Rich get richer – and meaner

Even as the income gap widens, the wealthiest Americans are giving a smaller share of their income to charity, while low- and middle-income people are donating a larger share, according to an extensive analysis of Internal Revenue Service data conducted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The Chronicle…said in a report released on Monday that Americans who earned $200,000 or more reduced the share of their income they gave to charity by 4.6 percent from 2006 to 2012. Those earning less than $100,000 donated 4.5 percent more of their income, the report said…

The Chronicle’s editor, Stacy Palmer, said that wealthy donors were more likely to support the arts and higher education and less likely to give to social-service charities

They’ve learned to think like Republicans. They contribute to services which add to their own quality of life. That doesn’t include the overwhelming portion of the population struggling to make a living.

Changes in giving patterns were most pronounced in major cities, where the percentage of income that residents donated dropped markedly between 2006 and 2012, according to the report.

In Philadelphia and Buffalo, New York, the share of income given to charity fell by more than 10 percent, and there was a 9 percent drop in Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Washington, D.C.

The cities where residents gave the smallest share of their income to charity were Hartford, Connecticut; Providence, Rhode Island and San Jose, California.

My characterization of Republican ideology, ethos, rejection of concern for those in need isn’t a snap judgement. It includes all the foolish folks who look upon class distinctions as irrelevant. Stack up those who identify thoroughly with the wealthy without differentiation between the head start of inherited wealth – and patent leather-libertarians who only care that they succeeded regardless of the greater scheme of economics and the distribution of wealth.

In other words, I’m not surprised by this report. The response from our wealthy class and their Republican flunkies is also predictable: this must be a flawed report and in any case it will be ignored.

SCOTUS hides from civil rights — refuses to rule on gay marriage

The Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for an immediate expansion of same-sex marriage by unexpectedly and tersely turning away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian unions. The court’s order effectively makes gay marriage legal now in 30 states.

Without comment, the justices brought to an end delays in same-sex marriages in five states- Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin…

Couples in six other states – Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming – should be able to get married in short order. Those states would be bound by the same appellate rulings that were put on hold pending the Supreme Court’s review.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, called on the high court to “finish the job.” Wolfson said the court’s “delay in affirming the freedom to marry nationwide prolongs the patchwork of state-to-state discrimination and the harms and indignity that the denial of marriage still inflicts on too many couples in too many places.”

Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, an opponent of same-sex marriage, said blah, blah, blah!

James Esseks of the American Civil Liberties Union said he believes the court will quickly take up a case if an appeals court upholds state bans.

It takes just four of the nine justices to vote to hear a case, but it takes a majority of at least five for an eventual ruling. Monday’s opaque order did not indicate how the justices voted on whether to hear the appeals.

Most important, the SCOTUS non-ruling lets all the Circuit rulings overturning homophobic state law stand – and extends it automatically to the other states within each circuit. Otherwise, the Supreme Court is as adept as Congress or the White House at avoiding the demonstration of leadership on any critical question.

We are an obedient nation led by cowards.

Worried about electromagnetic pollution? Should you be reading this on your iPad?

Hundreds of EMF-blocking garments and devices are marketed to reduce a person’s exposure to radiation, but the science says not to fret.

When Ameer Rosic went to jail for the last time six years ago, the stars aligned…He spent his time behind bars searching for answers about the type of person he wanted to be and what he wanted to do with his life.

When he got out, Rosic was obsessed with health, and he began working with businesspeople and entrepreneurs on a holistic approach…But for some of his clients, optimal health still seemed just out of reach, and Rosic concluded that the reason was because of their ongoing exposure to electromagnetic radiation from their cell phones, laptops, nearby cell towers, and so forth. So…he decided to launch a clothing company to reduce a person’s exposure.

Riparo, which in November will launch an Indiegogo campaign for its EMF-blocking briefs to “protect your balls” from what some like to call EMF “pollution,” joins an already established market of apparel aimed at minimizing how much radiation penetrates our bodies. This includes every type of garment imaginable, from shirts and underwear to hats and pregnancy bellybands.

The vast majority of scientists across many fields around the world say we don’t need to worry about what amounts to very small radiation exposure from our electronics. The World Health Organization, which launched an initiative to look into the topic in 1997 and has reviewed more than 25,000 studies, has concluded that “current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields.”

But considering long-term exposure is still being studied, is it better to invest in radiation-blocking clothing to “play it safe,” as Rosic says, or is this just a bunch of hocus pocus marketed to the most gullible among us…?

The answer depends, of course, on whom you ask…and I would ask – or read studies from – someone with qualified experience and study.

In fact, the most common explanation for the symptoms some describe, such as headaches, anxiety, and insomnia, is that it is the stress people feel about EMF exposure that causes the ill effects. In one instance, a number of people claimed that a new cell tower in their neighborhood was adversely affecting their health — before it had even been turned on.

Lots more fact and study in the article. A worthwhile read. Like anything with a realistic scientific bent, cautions are automatically included. The fact remains that regardless of how confident you can be about answers to a question there are advances in measurement and experimentation every day and it’s always worth revisiting a question. Up to the point of absurdity.

I live next to one of those communities where neighbors sue each other over wifi networks they are certain are giving them bad dreams. A community where in fact the city was sued for a cell tower that caused inestimable harm – even though it hadn’t yet been turned on.

To my mind, an outsized portion of the “problem” rests with a culture that rarely reads beyond headlines or listens to more than talking heads. Folks don’t even get to the place where they should be asking for qualifications.