Bye, bye Rick .....
SEPARATED at BIRTH - former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum ... ... and TV star Bob Saget ("Full House" and "America's Funniest Home Videos").
Why not stop in for a look at news items outside the headlines, in the arts and sciences; foreign news that generates little notice in the US media and ....well, just plain whimsy.....
ART NOTES - the German avant-garde electronic music group Kraftwerk has begun performing for eight consecutive evenings (each devoted to one of the group's albums) ... ...to accompany their extensive visual material - now at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City through Tuesday of next week.
SEVERAL CABLE TV NETWORKS are slated to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to them by Tax Masters - the company claiming it would help you resolve your tax issues ..... ... until it filed for bankruptcy following a massive $200M fraud settlement.
THE SEARCH IS ON for a missing hero ... as Chloe the Cat awoke a sleeping man from a building fire in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan ... and who hopefully is just missing, rather than consumed by the flames.
WEDNESDAY's CHILD is Misty Mouse the Cat - a California kitteh who wound up locked in the house next door for 18 days without food - fortunately, discovered by workers and is now back home.
AFTER TWENTY YEARS plans for a 35-mile rail link under the Alps - four miles longer than the Channel tunnel and linking Turin, Italy to Lyons, France - may be ready to begin.
DIRECT DESCENDANTS? - the role of the late Steve Jobs - at least in one of two competing biopics forthcoming about the late founder of Apple Computer - is to be portrayed by ... TV star Ashton Kutcher.
LAST YEAR IT WAS the German defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg who had to resign from office - and now the president of Hungary, Pál Schmitt has also resigned .... after being stripped of his PhD when his thesis was determined to have been largely plagiarized.
ART NOTES - an exhibition of small-scale portraits (or miniatures) from history are at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri through July 29th.
IN A PROFILE of the European film star Chiara Mastroianni - the daughter of Catherine Deneuve and the late Marcello Mastroianni - she is happy to talk about her mother and father but admits, "I only saw my parents together ... on screen."
ART NOTES #2 - a painting newly authenticated as a work by Rembrandt - known as 'The Old Rabbi', last exhibited in 1950 and which had hung ever since in a private room - has gone on public display in Britain.
THURSDAY's CHILD is Clementine the Cat - part of the Cuddly Catz program for inmates at the Larch Corrections Center in Washington state.
IT WAS A RELIEF to the citizens of Senegal that its two-term president - barred by the constitution (which he himself wrote) from seeking another term - was thwarted by voters from becoming a president-for-life .... and thus preserving Senegal's title as Africa's oldest democracy.
CHEERS to figures released this week showing that Sweden gives more development aid in relation to gross national income than any other country.
FRIDAY's CHILD is Sessa the Cat - who rules-the-roost at the Philadelphia Rare Books and Manuscripts Company.
......and finally, for a song of the week ............... if you asked a hip-hop fan, a jazz buff, a rocker and a classical music devotee to come up with a musician they all could respect: one performer they could agree on is Herbie Hancock because he could fit so comfortably in those genres (and others). Still at heart a modern jazz pianist, and now after fifty years in the music business probably has another trick or two awaiting for us all.
The Chicago native was a child prodigy, performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1951 at the age of eleven. And he actually began his studies at Iowa's prestigious Grinnell College as a major in
music ... actually as an electrical engineering major, before switching to music. He joined Donald Byrd's band in 1961 and was offered a solo contract by Blue Note Records. His first album in 1962 yielded the song Watermelon Man - that Mongo Santamaria covered and made into a classic. The next year, Miles Davis asked him to join his band, and remained with him for five years (One of Davis's "classic quintets").
All the while, Hancock continued recording solo albums; with his 1965 album Maiden Voyage seen as his classic. Listening to the title track at this link is my favorite song for a rainy day - and it features the late Freddie Hubbard on trumpet.
Miles Davis encouraged him to try the Fender Rhodes electric piano, which spawned his subsequent interest in electronic keyboards (along with his engineering background). After venturing out on his own in 1968, Hancock furthered explored the emerging versions of electronics, along with composing for Bill Cosby's "Fat Albert" TV show (with the tune "Tell Me a Bedtime Story" becoming a hit for Quincy Jones).
It was his 1973 breakthrough album Head Hunters that made him well-known to the general public. Mixing the emerging funk/soul sound with jazz, it included the song Chameleon that had an additional rock-like riff as its melody.
Miles Davis had issued his own album "On the Corner" album with the same musical blend, but wrote later that 'Head Hunters' was "the album I should have released". Indeed, I saw the two men's bands on a double-bill in 1975 ... with Miles Davis opening for Hancock, which (temporarily) strained their relationship.
But to show that he hadn't forgotten his roots: Hancock formed an off-and-on band called VSOP which reunited Hancock with his old Miles Davis Quintet bandmates (Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams) with Freddie Hubbard in the trumpet spot. Its classic modern jazz sound helped pave the way for traditionalists such as Wynton Marsalis who were working their way into the limelight.
In 1983, Hancock scored a crossover hit on MTV with the funk song Rockit that introduced him to a younger generation. Since then, Hancock has been all around the field of music. His film scores include Norman Jewison's "A Soldier's Story", Richard Pryor's "JoJo Dancer", Eddie Murphy's "Harlem Nights" and "Round Midnight" - in which he also acted, and won an Oscar for the score.
In 1998 he released the album Gershwin's World - on the 100th anniversary of his birth - in which he backed soprano Kathleen Battle on "Prelude in C# Minor".
He has also recorded with popular musicians too numerous to mention: in 2005, Herbie Hancock recorded an album entitled Possibilities with musicians including Sting, Annie Lennox, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, Christina Aguilera and Paul Simon. In 2008, his tribute album to Joni Mitchell River: the Joni Letters became only the second jazz album to win the Grammy Album of the Year award. His most recent album was 2010's Imagine Project - featuring not only that John Lennon classic, but also the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows", Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a Changin'" and Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come".
I had a chance to see him perform in 2010 (35 years after the last time) and he had a wide range of musical stylists featured on-stage (such as the African guitarist Lionel Loueke) that played all of Hancock's classics (albeit more funky) plus songs from this album - and the man seemed as energetic as ever, coming out with a keyboard around his neck to play "Chameleon" for an encore.
Herbie Hancock has won a total of fourteen Grammys, was elected to the Downbeat Magazine Hall of Fame in 2005, is quite active in Democratic politics and since being named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador last July has established International Jazz Day to be held on April 30 of every year. All of which he will undoubtedly mention in his upcoming memoirs to be published in 2014.
One song appearing on the "Imagine Project" album (and performed on tour) was Space Captain - written by the singer Matthew Moore who was in the choir backing-up Joe Cocker who sang this tune on his break-out 1970 Mad Dogs and Englishmen album. Here, the husband-and-wife team of Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi are among the featured performers with Herbie - and below you can hear it.
Once I was traveling across the sky
This lovely planet caught my eye
And being curious: I flew close by
Now I'm caught here until I die
I lost my memory of where I've been
We all forgot that we could fly
Someday we'll all change into peaceful men
And we'll return into the sky
Until we die
Learning to live together
Learning to live together
Learning to live together
'Till we die
video details and more
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A couple of months ago, Washington Free Beacon (and yes, that's "beacon," not "bacon") launched with some reasonably experienced conservative journalists and a mandate to hold their political opponents accountable with rock-solid journalism. The site describes itself this way: "Dedicated to uncovering the stories that the professional left hopes will never see the light of day, the Free Beacon produces in-depth and investigative reporting on a wide range of issues, including public policy, government affairs, international security, and media criticism." That sounds fair enough. I'm all for rigorous journalism that nevertheless has an ideological perspective?after all, that's what we do here at the Prospect. But let's just say conservatives have a particular perspective on how to go about this. These were the top three stories on the Beacon's site when I read it on Wednesday:
1. "The Myth of Daphne," in which they reveal that among a group of millionaires who came out in support of the Obama administration's proposed "Buffett Rule" was Abigail Disney, head of the Daphne Foundation, which holds investments in some companies that have been criticized by liberals, including Goldman Sachs and Halliburton. So obviously, the Buffett Rule is a bad idea.
2. "Follow the Beater," which uncorks the blockbuster revelation that an Obama campaign staffer who has criticized conservative misogyny follows Mike Tyson, Chris Brown, and Charlie Sheen on Twitter. The staffer, Lis Smith, also follows 1,261 other people, but whatever. So obviously, Democratic accusations that Republicans are waging a "war on women" are wrong.
3. "Hostile Workplace," which reveals that despite the fact that President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, in his White House, the average man's salary is higher than the average woman's salary. That this actually indicates that men, on average, are occupying higher-paying jobs in the White House (a legitimate grounds for criticism, but not something they pointed out), not that women are being paid less for doing the same job?the kind of discrimination the Ledbetter act was designed to combat?doesn't seem to have occurred to the Beacon.
This is the Breitbartization of journalism, in which the only goal is to embarrass liberals, because, you know, screw you, hippie. Conservatives cry a lot about bias in the media, and every once in a while, they say, "We'll show you! We'll start our own news organizations, and they'll show everyone the real news the liberal media won't tell you! Not only that, this won't be just a bunch of conservatives calling people names. It'll be real journalism!" And then this is the best they can come up with.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's first ad of the gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin begins by asking the question, "isn't it time to end the civil war in Wisconsin?" He was referring to Scott Walker and the war on public employees, but he could be[...]
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I'm not sure what Democratic Rep. Lynn Woolsey thought she would be in for before agreeing to appear on Fox News this Tuesday afternoon, but I'm not surprised, sadly to see the way she ended up being treated by host Neil Cavuto. He was downright hostile to her and talked over her repeatedly as she attempted to explain why she agreed with President Obama and his renewed push for Congress to pass the so-called "Buffett rule," so that we don't have millionaires paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries.
Cavuto was of course parroting the right's meme that raising taxes on the rich was going to somehow destroy the economy and harm those "job creators" and that Democrats just want more spending and "bigger government." Woolsey pushed back and tried to explain that there is a budget out there which is fair and doesn't balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the poor and the working class, or destroy our social safety nets so the rich can get more tax cuts, and that's the Congressional Progressive Caucus' The People's Budget.
Cavuto was having none of that though, and after the constant interruptions he wound up the segment by lowering her mic when she was still trying to talk.
For more on what Cavuto did not want to give the Congresswoman a chance to explain, because heaven forbid their viewers ever hear something other than right wing talking points, here's the overview of their budget -- Budget of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Fiscal Year 2012:
The People?s Budget eliminates the deficit in 10 years, puts Americans back to work and restores our economic competitiveness. The People?s Budget recognizes that in order to compete, our nation needs every American to be productive, and in order to be productive we need to raise our skills to meet modern needs.
Our Budget Eliminates the Deficit and Raises a $31 Billion Surplus In Ten Years
Our budget protects Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and responsibly eliminates the deficit by targeting its main drivers: the Bush Tax Cuts, the wars overseas, and the causes and effects of the recent recession.
Our Budget Puts America Back to Work & Restores America?s Competitiveness
? Trains teachers and restores schools; rebuilds roads and bridges and ensures that users help pay for them
? Invests in job creation, clean energy and broadband infrastructure, housing and R&D programs
Our Budget Creates a Fairer Tax System
? Ends the recently passed upper-income tax cuts and lets Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of 2012
? Extends tax credits for the middle class, families, and students
? Creates new tax brackets that range from 45% starting at $1 million to 49% for $1 billion or more
? Implements a progressive estate tax
? Eliminates corporate welfare for oil, gas, and coal companies; closes loopholes for multinational corporations
? Enacts a financial crisis responsibility fee and a financial speculation tax on derivatives and foreign exchange
Our Budget Protects Health
? Enacts a health care public option and negotiates prescription payments with pharmaceutical companies
? Prevents any cuts to Medicare physician payments for a decade
Our Budget Safeguards Social Security for the Next 75 Years
? Eliminates the individual Social Security payroll cap to make sure upper income earners pay their fair share
? Increases benefits based on higher contributions on the employee side
Our Budget Brings Our Troops Home
? Responsibly ends our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to leave America more secure both home and abroad
? Cuts defense spending by reducing conventional forces, procurement, and costly R&D programs
Our Budget?s Bottom Line
? Deficit reduction of $5.6 trillion
? Spending cuts of $1.7 trillion
? Revenue increase of $3.9 trillion
? Public investment $1.7 trillion
You can read more details and analysis at the link above.
Ryan Reilly reports on the first day of pre-trial hearings at Guantanamo for one of the accused bombers of the USS Cole. At issue: Will the defendant be allowed to testify publicly about being tortured while in U.S. custody?[...]
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During last year's redistricting battle, Governor Bryant and other Republicans admonished legislators that the "gentleman's agreement," that one chamber would not interfere with another chamber's redistricting maps, was a violation of a member's oath of office because it was improper to vote for one bill in exchange for a vote on another. Count that among the many "principled" stands that have become suddenly inconvenient with Republicans in charge.
Cottonmouth has received word from several House members that members are being told that they will jeopardize their chances of having a "good" district if they don't vote to pass the charter school bill.
A vote on House Bill 1152, a measure that was amended to include the "Mississippi Public Charter Schools Act of 2012" by Senator Gray Tollison (R-Oxford) earlier today, is likely to come up for a vote in the House on Thursday.
Karyn Kay (from Facebook)
I debated all day whether I wanted to blog about this story, and finally decided that, horrible as it is, it's hardly worse than writing about, say, Rick Santorum ending his quest for the presidency (this year, anyway).
I hope you can believe me when I say that I don't intend this story to illustrate any grand point or prove any theories, except that it's an exceedingly slender thread by which we all hang in this mortal coil. Before we get to the story proper, there's an update: "Karyn Kay's Son Told Cops Beating Mom to Death Was a 'Mistake'":
MANHATTAN ? Karyn Kay's brutal murder in her Midtown apartment was a "mistake," her son allegedly told cops according to stunning court papers, as his lawyer blamed the horrific beating death of the high school teacher and filmmaker on the "heavy" epilepsy medication the teen was taking at his emotional arraignment Wednesday. [The DNAinfo photo shows Henry Wachtel in the back of a police car after being led from the Midtown North Precinct yesterday.]
Lloyd Epstein called the bloody incident Tuesday morning at the West 55th Street home that Kay, a LaGuardia High School English teacher and Pratt Institute instructor, shared with her 19-year-old son, Henry Wachtel, "tragic."
"Everyone knows that Henry is an epileptic that takes medication, there are and sometimes frightening consequences that occur from taking the medication or not taking the medication," he said outside court.
LaGuardia HS Teacher Karyn Kay Beaten to Death by Son, Cops Say#
April 10, 2012 7:11pm
Updated April 11, 2012 8:55am
By Murray Weiss, Jill Colvin, Leslie Albrecht, Ben Fractenberg and Tom Liddy
MANHATTAN ? A public school teacher was beaten to death by her son in her Midtown high-rise building Tuesday morning after the teen had a seizure, cops and sources said.
Karyn Kay, 63, an English teacher at LaGuardia High School who was also a filmmaker and an instructor at Pratt Institute, was found with severe head trauma at 9:30 a.m. by cops who responded to a 911 call at West 55th Street and Eighth Avenue. The high school where she worked counts among its students Madonna's daughter, Lourdes, and among its alumni, writer Jonathan Lethem.
Kay was rushed to New York Hospital where she was pronounced dead, police said.
Sources said that Kay's 19-year-old son, Henry Wachtel, had a seizure and beat her when the episode ended.
According to other sources, the victim had called 911 to ask for help with her son's seizure when the teen allegedly attacked her.
Wachtel was charged with murder late Tuesday night.
The victim's Zumba instructor, Irena Meletiou, said Kay told her that her son was having anger issues.
The teen "was having some kind of anger issues and she was trying to figure out why," said Meletiou, of Astoria, Queens.
?She said, 'I?m worried about my son.'?
A teary Meletiou, who had known Kay for about a year, said that she was shocked at the news.
"I couldn't believe it," she said. "She was a wonderful mom."
Neighbor Leigh Miller, 54, who lives on the same floor as the Kays, said that Kay and her son had a "volatile" relationship.
"The furniture would be flying," she said. "It was a very unhealthy, dysfunctional mother and child relationship."
At times, the situation got so bad that "I would go down and tell the doorman that they're really at it again," she said.
"It doesn't surprise me that things spiraled out of control."
Still, she said Kay's son was "very quiet" and "very protective of his mother."
According to her bio on Pratt's website, Kay, a visiting instructor, has written three books on film including "Women and the Cinema: A Critical Anthology," "Myrna Loy" and "Besides Berman."
She was working on a feature film, tentatively titled "Service," and had written and produced the feature film "Call Me" (1988), starring Steve Buscemi and David Straithairn, as well as several shorts, the bio said.
She also conducted the first interview with Dorothy Arzner, the first woman director in Hollywood.
Kay frequently wrote letters to the New York Times on a variety of subjects, including bullying in school and teacher pay.
Her death left neighbors shocked.
"I spoke to her last night," said Jonathan Cohen, 49, who lives on the same floor as Kay. "I'm shocked. She was a very nice person."
"Two lives destroyed," he said.
Another neighbor, Mary McKenzie, said that Kay looked worn out recently.
?I can?t wrap my head around it," McKenzie said. "She seemed really worn out and tired."
Some of Kay's students at LaGuardia lauded her teaching on the site, ratemyteachers.com.
"She's honestly a great teacher and willing to help her students. She got me a little interested in black and white films," wrote one reviewer on Dec. 27, 2011. "Knows her stuff in film."
Another wrote: "ms. kay = embodiment of amazingness. she makes sure that everyone's opinions are heard and considered.
A 19-year-old former student at LaGuardia, who took Kay's creative writing class in her senior year said she "never felt so much love" for a teacher.
"She cared so much about her students, even students who were cruel to her and resistant to work. She really believed that no matter who we were, we were smart and had something to say. She really believed in all of us."
The student, a songwriter, said Kay took her craft seriously and her discipline inspired students.
"My life is all about creativity and she definitely affected the way I think about creativity," the student said. "If there was something she had to write about it, she saw it as the most important thing, and that's how I feel about songwriting."
"She had a really warm spirit," the student said. "I can't believe this."
The odds of getting into a fatal crash increase by 6% on tax filing day, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"Tax days are associated with an increase in fatal crash risk, which is similar in magnitude to the increase in crashes on Super Bowl Sunday," wrote study authors Dr. Donald Redelmeier and Christopher Yarnell of the University of Toronto.
The timing of National Organization for Marriage's endorsement of Mitt Romney couldn't have come at a worse time. Mittens has to face questions about accepting the support of a race-baiting anti-LGBT organization -- as well as signing its hateful pledge[...]
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GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA -- Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was tortured by the United States of America. His lawyers say so. The U.S. government has said so. But whether or not members of the press and the public could hear him testify about his torture -- from an adjacent room through three panes of glass -- and listen -- on a 45-second delay -- was a matter of debate at Guantanamo Bay's Camp Justice facility on Wednesday.
Al-Nashiri -- the man the government alleges planned the attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors and injured dozens in October 2000 -- walked into a white-walled courtroom surrounded by several layers of barbed wire fences for the first day of pre-trial hearings on the legitimacy and logistics of his military commission trial. The administration announced they would restart military commissions last March, and al-Nashiri's case could be the first to head to trial later this year.
The biggest open question ahead of Wednesday's session was whether al-Nashiri -- clean shaven and wearing all white -- would get to testify about his torture in court, and whether that testimony could be made public. The answer? Not today.
Judge Col. James L. Pohl avoiding ruling on the question of whether al-Nashiri would testify, instead making his testimony moot by ruling on behalf of his lawyer's request to leave him unshackled when they meet with their client.
The question of shackling is key because the 47-year-old Saudi's defense attorneys say it reminds him of how he was constrained when being held in a CIA "black site."
As recounted in a 2004 CIA Inspector General report, a debriefer "entered the cell where Al-Nashiri sat shackled and racked the handgun once or twice close to Al-Nashiri's head" and "entered the detainee's cell and revved the drill while the detainee stood naked and hooded" shortly after al-Nashiri was first taken into custody in 2002. Al-Nashiri was transferred from an overseas CIA "black site" to the Guantanamo Bay facility in 2006.
Lawyers for al-Nashiri wrote in a motion last month that they anticipated that it might be "necessary and appropriate for the accused to show counsel how events occurred." They said they might take a "psychodramatic approach" to the testimony that would allow lawyers to "access the experiences of others -- to see things as they saw them and to feel it as they felt it -- in other words, to truly empathize."
The prospect of testimony from al-Nashiri -- and the likelihood that such a hearing would be conducted in a closed session -- is what led 10 media companies to send First Amendment lawyer David Schultz down to Guantanamo to argue for the court to be open during the testimony.
This was Schultz's first trip to Guantanamo and his testimony marked the first known time that a military commission has heard an argument from a non-party.
"We did establish an important precedent -- that the pubic and the press have the right to be heard," Schultz told TPM after the hearing.
Schultz mentioned publicly available information about the government's treatment of al-Nashiri in court -- the use of waterboarding, a drill and a gun -- and said it would be "impossible" to reach a conclusion that national security concerns should prevent the public from hearing "information that the whole world knows or can find in two seconds on the Internet."
"You're always going to have some people who think this thing is a sham," Schultz told TPM. "But the general public can only have confidence in the judgments if the system itself is open."
The legitimacy of the forum itself was the subject of a separate series of arguments by al-Nashiri lawyer Michel Paradis.
"The intent and purpose of the Military Commissions Act was to deny equal justice," Paradis argued. He argued that the system of justice an individual is placed into -- military or civilian -- should not be decided "simply by accident of where they were born" and that Congress set up the military tribunal system for "political self interest and political self interest alone."
"Separate is not equal. We do not segregate in the United States anymore, we fought long and hard for that," Paradis said. At one point, he argued that decisions about trying defendants in either military or civilian court would "at a certain point" become "outright forum shopping."
The prosecution argued that Congress had a "very rational and legitimate reason" for setting up two judicial systems.
Judge Pohl seemed inclined to defer to previous decisions about the legitimacy of military tribunals made by higher courts. But Pohl argued that the fact that the death penalty was in play in this case made it different from previous decisions.
Preliminary hearings in the al-Nashiri case continue on Thursday, though it's not clear if al-Nashiri will be in attendance.
Defense lawyers asked the judge to order that Guantanamo officials don't forcibly extract al-Nashiri from his cell if he indicates he doesn't wish to attend.