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ND-Dem's Journal
ND-Dem's Journal
March 19, 2015

Irish Build Memorial to Choctaws Who Helped in Famine 160 years ago (Today's good news)

A sculpture is being erected in Ireland to thank a Native American tribe for sending what little money they could to the Irish people suffering from starvation at the height of the Great Famine more than 160 years ago.

On March 23, 1847 the Choctaw Native American tribe, who had known great hardship during their forced march to Oklahoma, collected whatever spare money they could and sent $170 to Ireland through a charity relief group.

To remember their generosity and friendship, a huge stainless steel sculpture of nine eagle feathers will be installed in Midleton, County Cork, on a grassy expanse in the town’s Bailic Park.

The Choctaw people donated the money 16 years after they, and other tribes, were forced from their homelands in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida and made to walk 500 miles along what is now known as The Trail of Tears... during one of the coldest winters on record.

In today’s money, the $170 sacrificed by the Choctaw would be close to $4200.

Choctaw leaders have been invited to the grand unveiling, which will be in a few months.


"In 1831, the Choctaw became the first Nation to be removed, and their removal served as the model for all future relocations."


March 19, 2015

Why was a 9th century Viking woman buried with a ring that says ‘for Allah’?

In the modern-era, Scandinavian countries have become known for their sometimes awkward embrace of migrants from the Arab and Muslim world. But the history behind that relationship goes back far further than you might expect.

Consider the case of a ring discovered in a Viking grave in Birka, a historic trading center in what is now Sweden. The woman in the grave died in the 9th century and was discovered around a thousand years later by the famous Swedish archaeologist Hjalmar Stolpe, who spent years excavating the grave sites around Birka.

The ring is unique. Made of silver alloy, it contained a stone with an inscription written in the Kufic Arabic script widely used between the 8th and 10th centuries. "For/to Allah," the inscription read. It was the only known Viking Age ring with an Arabic inscription to be found in the entire of Scandinavia. Exactly how the woman got the ring wasn't clear — she was found wearing typical Scandinavian dress, so presumably the ring arrived through trade...

Wärmländer and his colleagues suggest it appears to show direct contact between Viking society and the Abbasid Caliphate that dominated much of the Middle East and North Africa. The authors write, "it is not impossible that the woman herself, or someone close to her, might have visited -- or even originate from -- the Caliphate or its surrounding regions."

While physical evidence of it is unusual, there have been plenty of accounts of Scandinavians from this period crossing paths with the early Muslim world. By the 11th century Vikings had become known for their lengthy sea voyages, journeying as far west as the Americas and likely reaching Constantinople and even Baghdad when they traveled the other way. And while contemporary accounts of Vikings from Western Europe suggests terrifying invaders, most accounts suggest the Vikings, likely fearful of the more sophisticated warriors in the region, instead looked for trade when they went east...

In an otherwise complimentary description of people now believed to be Vikings, Ahmad ibn Fadlan, an emissary of the Abbasid Caliph, wasn't so sure about their hygiene. "They are the filthiest of all Allah’s creatures," the Arab writer wrote in the 10th century. "They do not purify themselves after excreting or urinating or wash themselves when in a state of ritual impurity after coitus and do not even wash their hands after food."


March 19, 2015

Mystery of Darwin's strange South American mammals solved

To 19th century British naturalist Charles Darwin, they were the strangest animals yet discovered, one looking like a hybrid of a hippo, rhino and rodent and another resembling a humpless camel with an elephant's trunk.

Ever since Darwin first collected their fossils about 180 years ago, scientists had been baffled about where these odd South American beasts that went extinct just 10,000 years ago fit on the mammal family tree. The mystery has now been solved. Researchers said...they were related to the group that includes horses, tapirs and rhinos.

Some scientists previously thought the two herbivorous mammals, the last of a successful group called South American ungulates, were related to mammals of African origin like elephants and aardvarks or other South American mammals like armadillos and sloths.

"We have resolved one of the last unresolved major problems in mammalian evolution: the origins of the South American native ungulates," said molecular evolutionary biologist Ian Barnes of London's Natural History Museum, whose research appears in the journal Nature.

Toxodon, about 9 feet long (2.75 meters), possessed a body like a rhinoceros, head like a hippopotamus and ever-growing molars like a rodent. Macrauchenia...had long legs, an extended neck and apparently a small trunk....MacPhee said this group most likely entered South America from North America at about the time the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago in a calamity that enabled mammals to become Earth's dominant land animals.

An eclectic array of mammals including elephant-sized ground sloths and saber-toothed marsupials arose in South America.


March 19, 2015

Heartbreak Can Literally Kill You

The proverbial broken heart threatens anyone brave enough to put his love and trust into someone else’s hands. It’s that emotional phenomenon your mother warned you about during infamous teen angst years. But what happens when a broken heart is more than just a floor of feelings and actually enters into a physical, sometimes life-threatening state?

You’ve just been broken up with, or worse, a loved one has died and you feel the physical ache within the left cavity of your chest. You may be experiencing a rite of passage through adulthood’s love and loss, or you could be experiencing a life-threatening condition — broken heart syndrome. The blood pumping in and out of your heart becomes temporarily disrupted by a surge of stress hormones, which are secreted in response to devastating news, according to the Mayo Clinic. The contraction in your heart may be more than just a flicker of elevated blood pulsing through a valve, though; it may actually kill you.

In 1991, Japanese researchers first recognized takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as stress cardiomyopathy or broken heart syndrome. The condition is characterized by sudden chest pain and shortness of breath and is often triggered by a tragic event, such as living through a car accident or receiving emotionally difficult news. Researchers from Minneapolis Heart Institute studied 200 takotsubo cardiomyopathy patients’ medical histories in order to identify symptomatic clues to get a better understanding of the innards of a broken heart.

It’s not as benign a condition as originally thought,” Dr. Scott Sharkey, a research cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, told Yahoo News. “The true mortality rate is only becoming manifest as we have a broader experience with this.”

The more fragile a person's health is, the more likely his broken heart could worsen his medical condition. So be gentle with people's hearts, as you would want them to be gentle with your own.


March 18, 2015

Wall Street cash bonuses highest since 2008 crash: report

The average bonus on Wall Street jumped 15 percent last year to the highest level since the 2008 financial crisis and was the third largest on record, New York State's budget watchdog said on Wednesday.

The cash bonus pool swelled to $26.7 billion in 2013, pushing the average cash bonus to $164,530, a post-2008 high in a industry shrunk by the financial crisis, according to the New York state comptroller's annual estimate.

The increased payouts came as Wall Street posted a fifth consecutive year of profits after record losses during the crisis. Profits for broker-dealer operations of New York Stock Exchange member firms, however, fell 30 percent to $16.7 billion in 2013, the report said.

March 18, 2015

Scott Walker Promised $500K Donor He Would 'Divide and Conquer' Unions (starting with public sector)

The Nation: March 23-30, 2015

Blogs » John Nichols » Scott Walker Promised $500K Donor He Would 'Divide and Conquer' Unions

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has long denied that he has a secret strategy to destroy public-sector unions as part of a long-term plan to make Wisconsin a “right-to-work” state where unions are dramatically weakened.

But, with the recall election that could replace Walker barely three weeks away, a remarkable videotape of the governor describing just such as a strategy has surfaced. In it, Walker is seen promising a billionaire campaign donor that the attack on collective-bargaining rights for public-sector unions—which sparked demonstrations and the movement that has forced the recall election—was only “the first step” in a grand plan.

The billionaire would eventually give Walker more than $500,000—the largest donation in Wisconsin history—to help him advance his agenda. That donation made her the largest single donor to the governor's effort to beat the June 5 recall vote.

The videotape, shot on January 18, 2011, just days after Walker was sworn in as Wisconsin's Republican governor and several weeks before he proposed to use a “budget repair” bill to gut union rights, was released Thursday by the documentary filmmaker who filmed it.

The video is part of a documentary, As Goes Janesville, which will be shown this fall at film festivals and at PBS stations. (Full disclosure: filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein filmed me several times as part of the making of the documentary. I did not, however, know about the Walker footage until he shared it this week with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.)

In the video, Walker is shown meeting with Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks before an economic development session at a the headquarters of a firm Hendricks owns, ABC Supply Inc., in Beloit.

After Walker kisses Henricks, she asks: “Any chance we'll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions?”

“Oh, yeah!” says Walker.

Henricks then asks: “And become a right-to-work (state)?”

Walker replies: “Well, we're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.… That opens the door once we do that...”

In a transcript of raw footage from the conversation, Hendricks asks Walker if he has a role model. Walker replies that he has high regard for Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who early in his term used an executive order to strip collective bargaining rights away from public employees and who, more recently, signed right-to-work legislation. Walker described the use of the executive order to undermine union rights as a "beautiful thing" and bemoaned the fact that he would have to enact legislation to achieve the same end in Wisconsin.

Like Walker, Daniels said during his election campaigns and early in his tenure that he would not support right-to-work legislation. But he changed course and championed the anti-union initiative after first disempowering -- some would say "dividing and conquering" -- the public-employee unions....

And he is doing so with Hendricks, a notoriously anti-union employer, who would donate $10,000 to Walker's campaign just days after the January 18, 2011, conversation. A year later, as the recall loomed, she would up the ante with that $500,000 donation—making her the top donor to the embattled governor.

Though Hendricks did not respond to calls from the Journal Sentinel and other news outlets for comment, it is fair to say that she must have liked what she heard from Walker. And she must have been pleased his “first step” in the “divide and conquer” strategy of attacking Wisconsin unions.


As Goes Janesville


The woman looks like an alien....

March 18, 2015

Social Media Campaign Reunites Man With Childhood Nurse (Positive story for the day)

Gary Bentley had open heart surgery when he was only 10 years old. But it's not the pain, or even the fear he recalls from that hospital stay in 1973.

"There was a nurse when I came out of intensive care," said Bentley of Killen, Alabama. "She was on my floor right after I recovered and she was very sweet to me.

"She brought me little gifts. I don't really remember what they were, but the one thing she brought was a smile and encouraging words everyday. She also played little games with me. I got so attached."

The now 52-year-old told ABC News he was sad to leave the nurse who originally cared for him post-surgery. "I tried to go back down to see her, but being a kid, they wouldn't let me," he said. "We took a photo and I carried that picture through three foster homes. It even made it through a house fire."

Forty-two years after his hospital stay, Bentley's wife suggested he share the photo on Facebook in an effort to locate the nurse...Just two days later, the search for nurse Kathy was over....


I have to say, she looks very good for her age, and it seems not surgically enhanced.

March 17, 2015

CEPR live-blog of this AM's U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Venezuela

The hearing, “Deepening Political and Economic Crisis in Venezuela: Implications for U.S. Interests and the Western Hemisphere,” will be presided over by Senator Marco Rubio, one of the co-sponsors of sanctions legislation against Venezuela passed last year. The hearing will consist of two panels, with officials from the U.S. State Department and the Treasury followed by representatives of civil society.

“This is going to be a real circus,” CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said.


March 17, 2015

"I can't afford to (heart) NY": How Detroit became a makers' hotspot

Makers are slowly but surely helping to regenerate the city of Detroit, which collapsed with the auto industry. Since the Michigan metropolis went under largely because it relied on a single corporate industry, diversification by creativity seems a fitting antidote. “When you take a city down to a low point, it requires such an enormous amount of heart and soul to rebuild,” says Shane Douglas of Douglas & Co., a designer and hand-maker of fine leather goods in Detroit. ..

Creatives from other cities are even moving in now. Brooklyn-born-and-bred Galapagos Art Space is relocating its 20-year-old performance center to Detroit after being priced out of New York. Galapagos bought nine buildings totaling 600,000 square feet and has plans to create a 10,000 square-foot lake near Detroit’s Corktown in an area some refer to as the “Hubbard-Richard” neighborhood.

Galapagos Executive Director Robert Elmes told the New York Times they bought the buildings for the price of a “small apartment in New York City” at the time. Among the buildings is “an old power plant that looks like a little Tate Modern,” Elmes said. Galapagos helped put Williamsburg, Brooklyn on the art map. Now it’ll give Detroit cache...

Detroit...unlike most cities, it does not have a creative district per-se. There’s creative stuff brewing everywhere here–in the Edison District, Corktown, and New Center even Downtown. A recent article by a New York Magazine writer on Vulture.com looked at nine artists who don’t plan on leaving Detroit anytime soon. They prize the honesty and edge of Detroit and the low cost of living...Scores of nifty start ups in Detroit now sell locally made wares.

Grace Lee Boggs, a Detroit-based author and social activist is one of many subjects interviewed and photographed in Detroit Resurgent, a recently published book of photographs, interviews, essays, and poetry that provides a powerful counter-narrative to the city as a Rust Belt wasteland. As she says in the book, “I think the sense that you have in Detroit is that it’s the end of something and the beginning of something new. It’s very rare that someone lives at that time, at that place, where something’s disappearing, vanishing into the past, and something new is emerging. That’s very inspiring, to be at that particular time.”


March 16, 2015

British predicted Arab defeat 60+ years ago

The British government knew from the moment it planned to withdraw its forces from Palestine more than 60 years ago that partition of the territory and the founding of the state of Israel would lead to war and defeat for the Arabs, secret documents released make clear.

The documents, which have a remarkable contemporary resonance, reveal how British officials looked on as Jewish settlers took over more and more Arab land.

In the weeks leading up to the partition of Palestine in 1948, when Britain gave up its UN mandate, Jewish terrorist groups were mounting increasing attacks on UK forces and Arab fighters, the Colonial Office papers show...

The papers, released at the National Archives, show how in regular intelligence reports to London, British officials in Jerusalem described a steady build-up of tension as Britain, the US, the United Nations and Zionists moved towards the partition of Palestine.

As early as October 1946, two years before partition, UK officials warned London that Jewish opinion would oppose partition "unless the Jewish share were so enlarged as to make the scheme wholly unacceptable to Arabs"...

By early 1948 British officials were reporting that "the Arabs have suffered a series of overwhelming defeats." They added: "Jewish victories … have reduced Arab morale to zero and, following the cowardly example of their inept leaders, they are fleeing from the mixed areas in their thousands. It is now obvious that the only hope of regaining their position lies in the regular armies of the Arab states."

London was warned: "Arab-Jewish violence is now diffused over virtually all of Palestine". A few days later, British officials spoke of "internicine [sic] strife" and the "steady influx of Arab volunteers" from neighbouring countries...

The state of Israel was proclaimed on 14 May 1948. The following day, the last remaining British troops withdrew and the first Arab-Israeli war began.


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