Sweet farewell — of sorts. The Blues & the News will momentarily be moving to weekends while the blog undergoes some life shifts and growing pains. We will see how this goes. Kickoff scheduled for next weekend as opposed to this upcoming one. Failure or success? We will seeeee!
A formal congratulations to the two talented souls who are now the co-champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Sriram Hathwar of NY and Ansun Sujoe from this blog’s home state of TX! Unfortunately, their victory has been accompanied by a disappointing amount of racism and vitriol. Both boys are Indian-American, a trend reflected by the past eight winners. One has to wonder which is more un-American: two citizens winning a difficult competition, or a hoard of individuals on the Internet who enjoy spewing racism at teenagers.
The head of the VA is stepping down. Video and NYT:
Eric Shinseki resigned as secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department Friday after meeting face-to-face with President Obama about mounting evidence of widespread misconduct and mismanagement at the agency’s vast network of medical facilities.
In a statement Friday morning after the meeting, Mr. Obama said that Mr. Shinseki had offered his resignation from the post he has held since the beginning of the presidnet’s administration. “With regret, I accepted,” Mr. Obama said.
“He has worked hard to investigate and identify the problem,” the president said, adding that Mr. Shinseki told him that “the V.A. needs new leadership to address it. He does not want to be a distraction.”
Mr. Shinseki, 71, had said for weeks that he wanted to stay in his job to confront accusations that officials at the department’s hospitals had manipulated waiting lists to cover up long delays in scheduling appointments for thousands of veterans.
In a speech Friday morning to a veterans group, he apologized and described his agency as having “a systemic, totally unacceptable lack of integrity.” He vowed to fix what he called a “breach of integrity” and said he had already initiated the firing of top managers at the V.A. medical center in Phoenix, where allegations of mismanagement first surfaced.
Announcing some upcoming adjustments to the blog: Due to a change in your blogger’s professional life + daily routine, this blog may move to the weekends as opposed to weekdays, with the exception of breaking news updates. Though this is certainly not ideal, it may be necessary. Test-run will come next week and we will see how things shake out!
International criminal justice and transitional justice are rarely funny. There are a few jokes. But outside of the hilarious, periodically knee-slapping pieces by Amanda and Kate at Wronging Rights, jokes about this stuff are few and far between.
Every now and then, though, international justice is made fun of. And it’s doubtful that anyone has done it better than The Onion. Their jokes are wickedly incisive. In their most recent gag, they take aim at the ICC’s record on sentencing:
Militia Leader Sentenced To 6 Months’ Probation For War Misdemeanors
THE HAGUE—Following his 15-minute appearance today before the Civil Ordinance division of the International Criminal Court, Mai Mai Kata Katanga militia leader Emile Kyenge was sentenced to six months’ probation for several war misdemeanors committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sources confirmed. “Mr. Kyenge’s crimes against the community, from trespassing on private land during nighttime raids to torching entire…
Incredibly sad news and a loss for everyone: Maya Angelou, author, poet, and activist, has passed away at 86. Rest in power.
Maya Angelou, the memoirist and poet whose landmark book of 1969, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” — which describes in lyrical, unsparing prose her childhood in the Jim Crow South — was among the first autobiographies by a 20th-century black woman to reach a wide general readership, died on Wednesday in her home. She was 86 and lived in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Her death was confirmed by her longtime literary agent, Helen Brann. No immediate cause of death had been determined, but Ms. Brann said Ms. Angelou had been in frail health for some time and had had heart problems.
As well known as she was for her memoirs, which eventually filled six volumes, Ms. Angelou very likely received her widest exposure on a chilly January day in 1993, when she delivered the inaugural poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” at the swearing-in of Bill Clinton, the nation’s 42nd president, who, like Ms. Angelou, had grown up poor in rural Arkansas.
Ambassador Perceval (right) with US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power (Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schneider)
Some of the best responses to both failed and successful UN Security Council resolutions are seldom read or heard because they come from small or middle-power states and because they get lost in the fray of big-power rhetoric. Just one notable example is Brazil’s insistence, following both the Security Council’s referral of Darfur (2005) and Libya (2011) to the International Criminal Court (ICC), that exempting citizens of non-states parties fundamentally undermines the ICC as an institution and international criminal justice as a project.
Last week, in response to the failed referral of Syria to the ICC, Argentina’s Ambassador to the UN, Ambassador María Cristina Perceval lambasted the Security Council. But she did so not simply for its failure to refer Syria to the Court. Instead, Perceval slammed the Council for its insistence in propagating referrals…
Things that failed to make my breaking news updates from both NYT and WaPo (I blame my phone) — the misogyny-fueled shooting rampage that took place in California this weekend. Tragic and devastating, though unlikely to shift the American mentality that gun control would be an impossible demand and a burden on our nation’s upstanding and rightly-minded gun owners. (Read: Sarcasm.)
Apart from that, I hope everyone (if based in the US/American/etc) enjoyed and reflected on their Memorial Day weekend. Happy Tuesday!
Misogyny kills: A man who felt undesired by women went on a shooting spree in California this weekend. The nice guy syndrome has now been taken to the next level. Disgusting.
A diverse and politically varied group of judges all have something in common: They have upheld the precedent set by the SCOTUS and overturned same-sex marriage bans. Only North Dakota’s ban goes unchallenged. (Get to it, North Dakota.) Edit: North Dakota’s ban will be challenged. Rainbows for all!
The Supreme Court says states must look beyond an intelligence test score in borderline cases of mental disability to determine whether a death row inmate is eligible to be executed.
The justices said in a 5-4 ruling Tuesday that Florida cannot rely solely on an IQ score above 70 to bar an inmate from claiming mental disability. Justice Anthony Kennedy said for the court that IQ tests have a margin of error and that inmates whose scores fall within the margin must be allowed to present other evidence of mental disability.
A score of 70 is widely accepted as a marker of mental disability, but medical professionals say people who score as high as 75 can be considered intellectually disabled because of the test’s margin of error.