Thursday, September 17, 2015

Last Call For Meet The New Boss

A military coup d'etat today in the West African nation of Burkina Faso leaves the question of planned October elections very much up in the air.

Presidential guard officers in Burkina Faso have seized power in a coup, with reports of more than 10 deaths amid protests in the capital, Ouagadougou. 
A close ally of former President Blaise Compaore has been named the country's new leader, state television reports. 
French President Francois Hollande condemned the coup in the former French colony. 
Those killed were shot dead by presidential guard forces in the capital, a civil society group said. 
The claim by the influential Balai Citoyen group could not be independently verified.
Other reports said protesters had been assaulted and detained. 
The coup leaders have imposed a night-time curfew across the West African state, and have ordered the closure of land and air borders, AFP news agency reports. 
The headquarters of Mr Compaore's Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) party were ransacked in Ouagadougou as news of the coup spread, it adds. 
Mr Hollande called for the immediate release of interim President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Isaac Zida, who were detained at a cabinet meeting in the president palace on Wednesday. 
Their transitional authority was due to hand power to a new government after elections on 11 October.

The Presidential Guard was Compaore's brute squad of about 1,300 soldiers, and fearing that a newly elected President would disband the unit, the Guard took over.   It's an ugly mess for sure, and a major blow to democracy, but again, there's not much anyone can really do about it.

Needless to say, after twenty years of Compaore's nasty rule, it looks like the new boss is the same as the old boss.

The Daily Struggle Of Planned Parenthood

Considering all the idiocy surrounding these Planned Parenthood attack videos, it's nice to see the media actually go to a Planned Parenthood clinic and see what they actually do, which is provide basic health services to women who need them, as they do in Akron.

This clinic sees nearly 7,100 patients a year, most of them young and poor. The clinicians administer 3,400 pregnancy tests, write 2,900 prescriptions for birth control and provide 13,200 screenings for sexually transmitted infections to the women and men walking into a boxy building between a restaurant-supply store and a used-car dealership. Inside the clinicians’ office, a ­pamphlet on the wall reads “Bomb Threat Checklist.”

Like nearly half of Planned Parenthood’s facilities nationwide, Akron doesn’t perform abortions. Three of the organization’s 27 centers in Ohio do; the nearest is in Bedford Heights, where protesters regularly picket. When pregnancy tests come back as unwanted positives, those patients are referred to Bedford Heights, 26 miles away. 
That referral had now become enough of a metaphorical tie to the organization’s more controversial mission that one patient had come in and said, angrily, “I saw those videos,” and one employee’s husband found himself defending his wife’s profession to colleagues who had never before shown an interest. Earlier that morning, at the weekly staff meeting, Stephanie Kight, the Ohio state director, told the workers that a large antiabortion demonstration was announced for the coming weekend in front of the clinic. 
“I don’t think we should wear our uniforms that day,” said Har­riet Schaefer, the clinic director. “To be safe.” 
“We’ll get back to you with a security briefing — parking and whatnot,” Kight told the staff, and she moved to the next part of the meeting, a presentation by education manager Constance Dunlap about the stigma of working for an organization that performs abortions. 
Employees should think about the risks of disclosing their workplace, Dunlap said. They also should think about the emotional risks of not telling people. Dunlap said that her own parents did not know where she works. They are in their 80s and devout Baptists. 
“My dad thinks I’m a teacher,” she said, and the meeting ended and it was time to open the clinic.

Here is what they do, day in, day out.  Help women get basic health services because there aren't any other Medicaid providers that will take new patients in Akron, and the local non-profit clinic has a six-week waiting list.

And this is what Republicans are going to shut down the government over, so they can make that a three-month waiting list instead.

But there's no War on Women.

Bureaucratic Clock Watchers

The intersection of the era of zero tolerance lockdown schools and rampant red state Islamophobia is an ugly, ugly place.

Ahmed Mohamed — who makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart — hoped to impress his teachers when he brought a homemade clock to MacArthur High on Monday. 
Instead, the school phoned police about Ahmed’s circuit-stuffed pencil case. 
So the 14-year-old missed the student council meeting and took a trip in handcuffs to juvenile detention. His clock now sits in an evidence room. Police say they may yet charge him with making a hoax bomb — though they acknowledge he told everyone who would listen that it’s a clock
In the meantime, Ahmed’s been suspended, his father is upset and the Council on American-Islamic Relations is once again eyeing claims of Islamophobia in Irving.

America is a great country, it just happens to have some truly awful people living there.  Some of them, unfortunately, are in positions of considerable authority and influence.

Ahmed’s clock was hardly his most elaborate creation. He said he threw it together in about 20 minutes before bedtime on Sunday: a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display, all strapped inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front. 
He showed it to his engineering teacher first thing Monday morning and didn’t get quite the reaction he’d hoped for. 
“He was like, ‘That’s really nice,’” Ahmed said. “‘I would advise you not to show any other teachers.’” 
He kept the clock inside his school bag in English class, but the teacher complained when the alarm beeped in the middle of a lesson. Ahmed brought his invention up to show her afterward. 
“She was like, it looks like a bomb,” he said. 
“I told her, ‘It doesn’t look like a bomb to me.’” 
The teacher kept the clock. When the principal and a police officer pulled Ahmed out of sixth period, he suspected he wouldn’t get it back. 
They led Ahmed into a room where four other police officers waited. He said an officer he’d never seen before leaned back in his chair and remarked: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.” 

Because of course it was.

However, sometimes these stories have a happier ending.

MSNBC host Chris Hayes had a pleasant surprise for Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Muslim teenager who was arrested at his high school in Irving, Texas after officials determined his homemade clock could be a “hoax bomb.” 
Hayes brought in astrophysicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, who works for the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research and the Department of Physics and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which Mohamed has described as his “dream school.” 
“I just want to say, you are my ideal student,” Prescod-Weinstein told the teen. “A creative, independent thinker like you is the kind of person who should be becoming a physicist. As a theoretical physicist, I would love it if you took an interest in the mathematical side, although you’re clearly very adept with your hands and at building things.” 
She then extended an invitation for Mohamed to visit MIT and get a tour of the Kavli Institute and the school’s Center for Theoretical Physics. She added that her former advisors at Harvard also wanted him to take a tour of their astrophysics facility. 
“You are the kind of student we want at places like MIT and Harvard,” she said. 
Hayes then asked his young guest if he would take the school up on the invitation. 
“That’s a fact right there,” Mohamed said.

Indeed, young Ahmed received invitations to check out everything from Facebook and Reddit's HQ to NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab to yes, even the White House.

America, this time you did it right.


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