Thursday, February 28, 2013

House Passes Violence Against Women Act

Today the US House of Representatives finally passed the Violence Against Women Act. President Obama released a statement saying, "Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear, and I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk."

The House first rejected a watered-down GOP version of the bill by a vote of 166 to 257, with 60 Republicans voting against their own party's proposal. The House then passed the Senate's bipartisan version, with 87 Republicans joining all 199 Democrats in support. The final vote was 286 to 138. All of the opposing votes were cast by House Republicans.

Today's action by the House means that once President Obama signs the bill, the Violence Against Women Act, originally passed in 1994, will be reauthorized for another five years.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Red-tail Pair

It was the day after Valentine's Day that we spotted this Red-tailed Hawk couple sitting high in a tree near the Sayre Drive underpass. As I've said here before, Nature Guide hates when I anthropomorphize, but these Red-tails looked like they were enjoying a romantic moment.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Downton Abbey Season 3 Finale

Robert: Yet, now here we are with two healthy heirs, an estate in good order and I wonder what I've done to deserve it.

Violet: I agree. But then, we don't always get our just desserts.

Mary: And tell Mr. Matthew he must wait his turn, he's seen the baby and they haven't.

If you missed Episode 7 of Downton Abbey, the Season 3 finale, you can watch it here. You can also read an interview with creator and writer Julian Fellowes by Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times.

Actor Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley, explained himself in an earlier piece in The New York Times because, crikey, Sunday night's devastating final scene deserves an explanation.

Photos: Carnival Film & Television for Masterpiece/ITV

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Downton Finale and Maggie Smith on 60 Minutes

We're counting down . . . last Sunday's extended Episode 6 of Downton Abbey (actually 2 episode's worth in the UK) brought lots of machinations and manipulations, setting us up for the grand finale tomorrow. And Downton Abbey fans are in for an extra treat. In addition to the Season 3 finale at 9 pm on PBS this Sunday, Dame Maggie Smith sits down with Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes for a rare interview to be broadcast on CBS at 7 pm.

Here's a short clip from the interview:

Photo: Carnival Film & Television for Masterpiece/ITV

Friday, February 15, 2013

Boehner Vague on Violence Against Women Act

At a press briefing in Washington yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner (Republican–Ohio) offered no hints as to when the House would move to consider the Violence Against Women Act. "We're fully committed to doing everything we can to protect women in our society, and I expect that the House will act in a timely fashion in some way. No decision has been made about . . . . whether we take up the Senate bill or move our own version of the bill."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Valentine

I will be waiting for you, as in
   an empty station
when the trains are parked off
   somewhere else, asleep.

Pablo Neruda
from "Love Sonnet XLV," translated by Stephen Tapscott


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Senate Renews Violence Against Women Act

The Senate voted to reauthorize the  Violence Against Women Act today, sending the issue to the House, where it's unclear how Republican leaders will proceed. The bill passed 78 to 22. It already had 62 cosponsors, ensuring its passage, but it picked up additional votes from some Republicans who weren't already sponsoring it. All "no" votes came from Republicans, while all female senators—Republican and Democrat—backed the legislation.

Senators who voted against the bill included Republicans John Barrasso (Wyoming), Roy Blunt (Missouri), John Boozman (Arkansas), Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), John Cornyn (Texas), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Enzi (Wyoming), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Orrin Hatch (Utah), James Inhofe (Oklahoma), Mike Johanns (Nebraska), Ron Johnson (Wisconsin), Mike Lee (Utah), Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), Rand Paul (Kentucky), Jim Risch (Idaho), Pat Roberts (Kansas), Marco Rubio (Florida), Tim Scott (South Carolina), Jeff Sessions (Alabama) and John Thune (South Dakoka).

Marco Rubio of Florida, one of the senators who voted against the bill, will be giving the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address later this evening. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Snow Day

Nature Guide and I went down to the canal early yesterday morning—so early that we made the first footprints in the snow.

As soon as we arrived we spotted one of the eagles sitting up high in a tree.

This heron looked cold.

The canal was beautiful.

Then on to the old Kingston Flour Mill.

The spell was broken when we got back to Princeton Landing and found the slipshod snow removal.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Question of the Week

This morning Princeton Landing's snow removal contractor Longford Landscapes drove their plow up onto the corner of Parcel 6 and destroyed shrubs at the monument. The plants were ripped up out of the ground and broken. These were beautiful flowering shrubs that our landscape contractor Brickman planted several years ago and that Parcel 6 homeowners and Brickman nurtured through hot summers without a sprinkler system.

Last year Princeton Landing's management company Signature Property Group switched from the community's longtime snow removal contractor Shearer Penn to Longford. Shearer Penn had never damaged these plants since they were planted. Why did our management company switch from Shearer Penn to Longford?

Friday, February 8, 2013

"Grief makes one so terribly tired."

Grief—everyone at Downton Abbey is overcome with it in Episode 5 following the death of Sybil. Cora is virtually wasting away. The Dowager Countess convinces Dr. Clarkson to tweak his research in order to convince Cora and Robert that nothing could have saved Sybil so they can cope with their grief together and save their marriage.

Dr. Clarkson: So you want me to lie to them and say there was no chance at all?

Violet: Lie is so unmusical a word.

Then there's the issue of christening Sybil and Tom's baby girl. Tom insists his daughter will be baptized a Catholic like him and Robert is not amused.

Robert: He wants the child to be a left-footer.

Cora: Not everyone chooses their religion to satisfy Debrett's.

Isobel hosts a luncheon for the Crawley ladies and asks Ethel, of the weak culinary skills, to prepare something simple. Ethel wisely asks Mrs. Patmore for help with the meal. When Mr. Carson spills the beans to Robert about the luncheon, Robert bursts into Isobel's dining room and insists the women, who he says Isobel has "exposed to scandal," leave immediately. They all refuse to go, even the Dowager Countess.

Violet: It seems a pity to miss such a good pudding.

Mr. Carson chastizes Mrs. Patmore for helping Ethel and asks her why she wants to spend her time "frolicking with prostitutes," giving Mrs. Patmore a chance for one of her best lines yet.

Mrs. Patmore: Do I look like a frolicker?

And hooray for Anna—finally Bates will be released from prison. And to Daisy we can only say: Take Mr. Mason's offer! And to Edith: Write the column already!

Photos: Carnival Film & Television for Masterpiece/ITV

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hillary Watch

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has launched a new website:

In addition, supporters of Hillary Clinton for President in 2016 registered a super PAC with the Federal Election Commission last Friday. The super PAC is called "Ready for Hillary."  It is chaired by Allida Black, a George Washington University professor, historian and longtime Clinton backer. A website will launch in a few weeks. The organization's Twitter account already has over 50,000 followers. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Upside Downton Abbey" on Sesame Street

February Recycling Dates

The recycling dates in Princeton Landing for February are the 11th and the 25th. There is also a link to these dates in the right-hand column under Popular Posts.