Coffee or Vodka? Parenting 911 SUMMER SAVVY-SUMMER SMART

Coffee or Vodka? Parenting 911


summer survival kit logo

Dear: Parenting 911

I’m a mother of 2 under the age of 6, my youngest Ari is 3 1/2 years old and Conner-Joel is 5.  Since it is summer — weekend after weekend, I find myself neck-deep in — cook-outs, birthday parties, weddings, family gatherings, and beach/park days. Although most of these should be pure fun  for my little family; I feel as if I’ve headed out on an endless mission. No matter how much I prepare for these events — I still find myself running back home for one thing or another, often more than once — it surely puts a damper on any summer fun that may have ensued. I attempt to plan ahead — but the kids always have me rattled and frenzy-ish before ever leaving the house — causing me to always be unprepared. Since my husband is a Sargent in the military, he is rarely…

View original post 749 more words

Coffee or Vodka? Parenting 911 SUMMER SAVVY-SUMMER SMART

Coffee or Vodka? Parenting 911 SUMMER SAVVY-SUMMER SMART.



^ James Risen : testify or go to jail, says the Appeals Court

We awoke today to find that the Federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a District Court decision that freed New York times reporter James Risen from having to testify in a criminal prosecution by the Justice Department. The Appeals Court has just decided, 2 to 1, that he DOES have to testify.

Risen can, of course, refuse to testify — and go to jail. What a choice.

The case at hand is a trial involving leaked C. I. A. data. shades of Ed Snowden and the “secret’ FISA Court. We know what the Justice department did with that one. But Ed Snowden is not a reporter, and his disclosures are not protected Free Speech. 

The District Court had opined, strongly, that there is, within the First Amendment, a “reporter’s privilege,” by which reporters need not disclose their sources even in the context of a Federal criminal prosecution. The District court argued that to not grant reporters at least some area of “privilege” would crimp free speech itself. For if sources know that the reporter they talk to will have to disclose them, those sources might decide not to talk at all. And thus a story that the reporter has a First Amendment right to publish won’t get published notwithstanding.

The District Court opined that safeguarding the right to publish trumped any governmental interest in having story sources disclosed. We agree with the District Court. We strongly disagree with the Appeals Court’s reversal.

The Risen case is hardly the first one in which the Federal government has forced reporters into jail rather than disclose a source in a criminal prosecution context. The most infamous recent occasion was that of New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who chose jail in 2005 rather than reveal who had disclosed to her that Valerie Plame was a CIA operative. Not until her source voluntarily came forward was Miller released.

All such Federal court deecisions begin with the case of Branzburg v. Hayes, a 5 to 4, 1972 Supreme Court decision (408 U.S. 665) involving a reporter’s refusal to testify before a grand jury. In Branzburg the High Court said :

“The First Amendment does not relieve a newspaper reporter of the obligation that all citizens have to respond to a grand jury subpoena and answer questions relevant to a criminal investigation, and therefore the Amendment does not afford him a constitutional testimonial privilege for an agreement he makes to conceal facts relevant to a grand jury’s investigation of a crime or to conceal the criminal conduct of his source or evidence thereof.”

Ominous it was that the 1972 High Court chose to see the reporter’s refusal to reveal sources as “concealing facts.” The reporter who safeguards a source is not “concealing facts.” Those facts remain factual and can be found by other means. The reporter not revealing his source is, rather, protecting the publishing a story that the public has an interest in — a right to know. If that isn’t a First Amendment interest, what is ?

The Appeals Court now says, “Clearly, Risen’s direct, firsthand account of the criminal conduct indicted by the grand jury cannot be obtained by alternative means, as Risen is without dispute the only witness who can offer this critical testimony.” Is this so ? Is it “clear” ? Is Risen “without dispute the only witness who can offer this critical testimony” ? It is not “clrear’ at all; the source can also testify. And why isn’t anything said to Risen by his source hearsay when testified to by Risen ?

Judge Roger Gregory dissented. His dissent expresses our view too : “Under the majority’s articulation of the reporter’s privilege, or lack thereof, absent a showing of bad faith by the government, a reporter can always be compelled against her will to reveal her confidential sources in a criminal trial,” Gregory wrote. “The majority exalts the interests of the government while unduly trampling those of the press, and in doing so, severely impinges on the press and the free flow of information in our society.”

“The free flow of information.” Indeed. In an era when an Ed Snowden can be pilloried and chased from airport to airport, what is left of “the free flow of information” ? Only that information that the government doesn’t mind us knowing. But the First Amendment was established to protect ALL information, especially and chiefly such information as the powers do not want us to know.

Most often THAT is the information that really MATTERS.

—– The Editors / Here and Sphere



^ Gary Beck : two hands on the wheels

Facing a dance floor so crowded that almost every dance move required shoving, techno hot-shot Gary Beck, making his first RISE appearance, dropped one of the most passionate techno sets this writer has ever attended. Using Traktor with two CDs and one mix-board, Beck imposed his excitations on almost every minute of the music. He mixed with both hands, all the time, often impelled by his body action. Many DJs dance for dancing’s sake at the mix board; Beck made mix moves of his dance moves.

He played mostly his own works; and as he has more than plenty of tracks to his credit, he nowhere near exhausted his crate. His sound is a seductive thing, flaunting ghouls’ smiles and glints of flirt talk. These pop in and out of, or ride alongside, a bottom ramble that has more flesh on its bones than one hears in almost any other techno. At RISE it played out lasciviously : the well-known hit “Diva”; the sentimental glimmer of “Vaag”; the clamor and rapture of “Before the Crash”; and — peak moment — lots of “in your face” girl talk atop the bristling bottoms of “Video Siren.” Plus many more Beck tracks put onto fans since he first came to world-wide attention about five years ago.

Heft and heave are Beck’s action. Set to classic train-ride rhythm narratives — of roll and chug, saunter and strut, his muscle tracks carried the RISE dancers’ bodies along with them. Beck made it feel pleasurable to just move, move, and move; and as he inserted barely a handful of pause breaks into his trip of continuity, the dancers had few opportunities to stop moving. Not that they wanted any.

Beck’s basic DJ move is the quick-cut, a mix  technique first devised back in the disco years, whereby the performer jumps from one track to another without warning — no overlaying, no dissolve, just a leap of faith. Beck’s quick cuts slammed one track’s lift off against the next track’s stride — using the jump mix to ramp up the power of his music. Again and again he quick-cutted beat to voice, voice to beat, and beat to bigger beat. After getting slammed by such an energy burst, the RISE dancers found Beck’s runs of rumble — themselves as heated as most DJs’ mix bursts — almost easy to ride.

Thus it was that Beck’s three hours of slam, flirt, and rumble raised his set from mere music to a peak of body, soul, and spirit; a party so non-stop that few who exercised in it will soon forget. No wonder that the crowd included many local connoisseurs of techno, DJs included. Their being on hand was no mistake.

photo (62)

^ Camilo Serna at the RISE mix-board

Almost as fascinating a performance was Camilo Serna’s set of crunch and rumble. This was Colombian Inependence Day, and many at RISE were there to celebrate with their fellow Colombian as much as to see Beck. Serna wore a studious look, the face and delicate body of a nerd. Twenty years ago, guys who look like Serna would be seen jamming in an indie-rock band. Today they are DJs like Serna, all business at the RISE mixboard, an expression of absolute concentration on his face as he dropped a tangle of ferocious soulful beats.

—- Deedee Freedeberg / Feeling the Music



If you’ve seen Sam Peckinpah’s masterfully macabre “Straw Dogs” (let’s all please agree to forget the far inferior recent remake) then you’re already up to speed on what happens in “The Hunt” : quiet European hamlet; a mindful and reserved intellect with a complex past; slow constant simmer; sexual tension; strong reactions based on false assumptions; and a gentlemanly hunt in the woods serving as a ruse for a deeper more perverse game at hand.

Though the arc, ambiance and elements of the two films bear many acute similarities, the context and articulation could not be further apart. Mads Mikkelsen — whom most US viewers know as Hannibal in the self-titled NBC TV series, or as the European bad-ass who bashed in Bond’s balls in “Casino Royale” — plays Lucas, a quiet man trying to gain some degree of custody of his teen son in the aftermath of a bitter divorce. As a caregiver/instructor at a nursery school, he’s pretty well liked and respected by his peers and his charges — by some, perhaps a little too much. Tow-headed Klara (Annika Wedderkopp) takes his kindness for something more and, after a failed furtive kiss, which Lucas quickly and sternly rebuffs, she becomes angry and tells her parents (who happen to be Lucas’s best friends) and the school head, in vague terms, that Lucas did something to her. Then later, after Klara catches a glimpse of smut on her brother’s iPad and the adults try to further educe from her what exactly transpired, it only takes a few dark slanted inferences for the toxic charge of pedophilia to erupt.

The film directed by Dane Thomas Vinterberg (“The Celebration”), a Dogme 95 compatriot of Lars con Trier, leverages its remote Danish townlet setting where justice is administered by elected elders and enforcement, when needed, comes from somewhere afar, so as the rumor billows and emotions flare. There’s a heated call for immediate action–one that will not wait for outside mitigation– as slices of vigilante retribution begin to rain on the accused. Lucas’s son stands by him, as does his new girlfriend, an immigrant cafeteria worker who’s fearful of losing her job and being deported; but in the end Lucas must stand alone against the amassing throng, and boldly so, not unlike Dustin Hoffman’s nebbish in Peckinpah’s bloody classic.

The niggling to “The Hunt” can’t be put onto Mikkelsen or any of the actors, who are sharp and heartfelt in their roles. Mikkelsen’s rendering of internal turmoil, malaise and depressed entrapment, dutifully echoed by the grim, washed-out primal atmosphere etched by Vinterberg, drives the film with purpose. Still, the logic and the obvious questions not asked by normally rational minds both undermine the overall effort. The premise of a town turned inward by accusation and mob justice is a piquant one, it’s just too bad Vinterberg didn’t bring a more spirited dog to the fight.

—- Tom Meek / Meek at the Movies


Here and Sphere note —- as aftermath to the Zimmerman case and to President Obama’s dramatic speech, a conversation and then some has begun in America’s Black communities and among commentators. High on our list of cutting edge commentators is Ron Wynn, of Nashville, TN, who speaks out on Being Black in America with an insistence that reminds us of Bill Press speaking out on progressive politics. we at here and Sphere highly esteem both men, but especially Ron Wynn, whom we are honored to call personal friend.

Being Black in America — and the raw topic of black on black violence that is part of the general conversation — are talks that every American of good will should at least listen closely to, maybe even join. Thus the following Guest Editorial shall serve to begin that conversation at Here and Sphere.


^ news commentator Ron Wynn of Nashville, TN

Wynn : “The current issue of Ebony magazine has the third in a continuing series on crime and violence in the Black community, this one focusing on Chicago. Time’s array of articles on race and the Martin verdict include a lengthy column by Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter on the need for less talk and more action in regards to killings and crime in Black neighborhoods. These on top of a series of columns, essays, and articles I’ve seen on  Black websites ranging from Black Voices and Black America com. to The Root and Black Agenda Report. I mention this only because I still see people saying that no one’s talking about nor cares about crime in Black neighborhoods, and in particular Blacks who kill other Blacks. If you want to believe that, fine, but there’s ample evidence that shows you are incorrect making that in Black neighborhoods. These on top of a series of columns, essays, and articles I’ve seen

A friend of Wynn’s then commented thus : “This should also serve as a reminder to folks (or a revelation) that Ebony Magazine has dealt with the Black-On-Black crime matter as far back as 1979. I remember and still have this copy of the publication.

WYNN : “There are a few (just a few) truly concerned people in the Black community who honestly haven’t seen these articles or know about the ongoing battles against crime that many have been fighting for years. But much of this rhetoric is standard right-wing deflection stuff, designed to try and quell the anger over the unjust Martin verdict. The people at National Review or on the Wall Street Journal editorial board could care less how many Black people died in Chicago on any weekend.

Wynn also attended a Nashville area protest of the Trayvon Martin / Zimmerman verdict. Here is his report  :

“Incredible experience this afternoon at the Federal courthouse. For almost two hours (actually close to three since I got there 45 minutes early) a diverse crowd that truly represented the spectrum of Nashville got together to hear words of wisdom, inspiration, information and education at the prayer vigil for Trayvon Martin. But it was much more that just a vigil. Speaker after speaker urged all of us to do more than just show up today and go home. Voter registration, community advocacy and citizen participation were repeatedly emphasized, and a host of viewpoints were represented during the event. I was thrilled to see so many of my friends and others I didn’t know by name, but were delighted to see. A truly memorable event.”:

You can (and should) connect to Ron Wynn at Facebook. Meanwhile, Here and Sphere shall be reposting his Facebook reports on Being black in America from time to time as we go forward.




^ New Hampshire State Senate leader Jeb Bradley (R), point man on blocking 58,000 NH residents from Medicaid insurance coverage.

It is one thing for a political party to disagree with the policies of the party opposite. It is another thing entirely for a political party to offer nothing to voters but obstacles.

News comes this morning that in New Hampshire, a state that borders on Here and Sphere’s home state of Massachusetts, the GOP majority in that state’s legislature is blocking New Hampshire from implementing the Affordable Health Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare.” Specifically, the GOP legislature is blocking 58,000 currently uninsured New Hampshire residents from joining the 137,000 already receiving Medicaid insurance coverage.

It stuns us that a political party in a democracy, whose prospects depend on the good opinion of voters, would think it had anything to gain by blocking 58,000 uninsured people from obtaining health insurance and thus improving their health. Never mind that to deny people access to proper health care is unconscionable, immoral; does it not make economic sense for people to live healthier lives and thus miss less days of work on account of illness ? Or perhaps become able to work at all ? What conceivable policy objective is gained by blocking this outcome ?

Unhappily, the New Hampshire GOP legislature’s refusal is no unique event. Since September 2008, when the GOP-controlled House tried to block President Bush’s TARP Program — which prevented the collapse of our entire economy — the national GOP, with few exceptions (Chris Christie, Jeb bush, and John McCain especially) has become merely an obstacle. “Block this, stop that.” Stop America from moving ahead. Every act, almost every speech, that the current GOP has made or said defies us : “We will stop you, people, from doing anything to improve your lives.”

NO to sensible gun control legislation. No to pursuong unibversal hrealth care insurance. No to ther food stamp program by which millions of us love. no to women’s pay equity. No to the Treaty on Disabilities. No to President Obama’s nominations to Federal Courts and Federal Agencies. No to immigration reform. No to reforming “stand your ground” laws. No to Voting Rights updates.

No, no, no.

The Federal government ? No to it, too.

Yes only to putting governement into your vagina and into your sex life.

As we said : this is not a policy agenda. This is an obstacle merely. This is contempt, for you and for us.

It has happened in America before, and every time a political party has retreated to obstacle status, it has meant pain and suffering to millions of Americans.

It happened in the 1840s and 1850s, when slavery was the obstacle. It took a Civil War and 750,000 deaths to unblock that one.

It happened in the 1920s, when business tycoons and their political mouths blocked anti-union legislation; and again in the 1930s when a reluctant Supreme Court blocked FDR’s New deal reforms.

It happened from 1880 to the 1960s, when Southern Democrats blocked all attempts to making lynching a Federal ctime and to accord Black Americans the voting rights and other civil rights that we thought that the grievous Civil War had won.

It took almost 85 years of injustice, torture, killing, and intimidation before finally that block was removed.

How long will it take America to remove the many blocks set up by the current GOP ? How many Americans will suffer and even die because ? Only time will tell. Hopefully it will not take almost a century to remove the block THIS time.

Meanwhile, 58,000 New Hampshire residents wait for health care insurance and the healthier, more fruitful life that we all want.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere