Sunday Reads: Police Brutality! POLICE BRUTALITYYY!

 Good Morning

Tracy

Hairspray (1988)

Tracy Turnblad: POLICE BRUTALITYYY! POLICE BRUTALITYYYYYY!

 

Penny

Penny Pingleton: POLICE BRUTALITY! POLICE BRUTALITY!

 

 

Or perhaps….this?

 

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

Shut your mouth, sir! You know, if I weren’t in uniform, I’d split your skull with the butt of this revolver faster than you can say, “police brutality!”

 

Let’s just say I wanted to start the post out with a lighter look at a very dark subject because today’s theme is anything but funny…and if you are in a good mood, you may even think about skipping the first section of this thread…it is just a suggestion.

Starting with this article from Huff Post I’ve saved from over a week ago:

2957c31a381540d4c163185e360a1dacPolice Brutality Exposed | Tio Hardiman

Incidents of police brutality and the use of excessive force continue to grab the headline news across the nation. This is totally shocking considering all of the outrage from the Michael Brown and Eric Garner incidents.

Do some police officers really care about the lives of people of color across the United States? The issue of police brutality is real and the people have scars that tell their stories. Recently, two Philadelphia cops allegedly beat a young man and filled out a report that did not represent what actually occurred. Police officers in Pasco, Washington shot and killed an unarmed man.

Will police brutality ever end in America? When incidents of police brutality or excessive force take place, some police officials brace themselves for protest and then suddenly the protests go away.

What will it take to end police brutality or at least reduce incidents of police brutality by fifty percent across the United States? Specific laws should exist in order to help deter acts of blatant police misconduct. This particular post is not about bashing all police. The majority of police officers are law abiding citizens that really care about people no matter the race, creed, or color. However, when you read stories of how the police in Miami were using photos of African American males for target practice then one would wonder why so many police appear to have no discretion in regards to taking the life of an African American male. There are so many problems and threats going on all across the world. Hopefully the fight to end police brutality will not get lost in transition because more attention is being placed on achieving world peace.

You can read the rest at the link…Tio pleads for group discussion, as a start to finding a solution:

There are so many mothers crying and people dying by the hands of police and gang violence. We must take a stand to be part of the solution and not the problem. By organizing group sessions with police officials and young people across the United States, this could serve as a starting point to help establish better relationship with police and community. We could save lives on both fronts. If police officials were to admit that problems exist with the current policing strategies in communities of color, then this would be the best dialogue in the world. Every positive movement for change starts with the admission of a problem. The entire world is watching how the United States will work on solving this age old problem. Let’s come together to the roundtable of peace and set the stage for ending all forms of violence.

Roundtable of peace?

Cough…cough.

Sure, how do you think that will work out?

Before you answer, here are some examples of police brutality that have made some news headlines of late:

Remember Jessica Hernandez?

Denver police shooting death of teenager ruled a homicide | MSNBC

The Medical Examiner’s office in Denver, Colorado, is ruling the death of a 17-year-old female teenager who was shot and killed by police as a homicide.

The report, released on Friday, states that Jessica Hernandez had four gunshot wounds at the time of her death on January 26th. Police say Hernandez was driving a stolen car toward a Denver police officer when that officer and another opened fire on the vehicle. Hernandez was struck twice through the left side of her chest, once in her pelvis, and once on her right thigh, according to the Medical Examiner’s report.

One of the two bullets passing through Hernandez’s chest struck her in both lungs and her heart. In the document, Denver’s Chief Medical Examiner/Coroner, Dr. James L. Caruso, concludes “With the information available to me at this time, the manner of death, in my opinion, is homicide.”

Jessica Hernandez’s death by Denver cops deemed homicide – NY Daily News

Jessica HernandezDenver’s coroner declared Jessica Hernandez’s death a homicide in an autopsy report that contradicts statements made by police in the days after she was shot and killed by two police officers.

The 17-year-old girl had been smoking pot and drinking small amounts of alcohol before Denver police officers confronted Hernandez and her stolen car full of teenagers, her autopsy revealed.

The autopsy measured her blood-alcohol content at slightly more than half the legal limit for an adult, the autopsy performed the week after her death revealed.

Four gunshots fired by Officers Daniel Greene and Gabriel Jordan the morning of Jan. 22 reached the 17-year-old girl from outside the driver’s window as her car lurched forward, striking Hernandez’s heart and lung.

Another bullet hit the girl’s hip and thigh.

Each of the bullets was fired from her left side, despite early comments by Denver Police Chief Robert White that one of his officers shot at her as she drove the stolen car toward him in a Denver alleyway.

“The vehicle started driving toward him, which pretty much had him between a car and a brick wall and a fence,” White told the Denver Post last month.

Her death sparked nights of protests against police brutality after her friends shared a conflicting recollection of what happened.

5459a9f4c9b68f60442039a2efeaa7e3And another example,

South Carolina deputy fired after using Taser on wheelchair-bound man

South Carolina deputy is out of a job after using a Taser on a wheelchair-bound 65-year-old man while attempting to arrest his son, reports Fox Carolina.

Pickens County Deputy Steven Ticknor was fired by Sheriff Rick Clark who said the deputy needlessly used his Taser on Parker Mansell Jr. in his home while serving an arrest warrant.

Police and sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the Mansell home, looking to take 25-year-old Travis Mansell into custody on multiple bench warrants.

Deputies entered the home and attempted to arrest the younger Mansell who reportedly said he wouldn’t return to jail, telling them they would “have to kill him.” During the 15 to 20 minutes the officers spent speaking with Mansell, his father positioned himself in his wheelchair between the deputies and his son.

25c9d76a8f9cf8b8228a81dbf2894ca4After one deputy used a Taser on the younger Mansell, Ticknor used his on the father, later claiming he needed to deploy it to prevent him from further interfering with the arrest of his son.

“I can’t figure out yet why they Tased me, you know,” Parker Mansell said. “They could have killed me, they could have killed me.”

Following an investigation, Clark said it was determined using the stun gun on Travis Mansell was appropriate considering the circumstances, but using it on his father was contrary to Pickens County use of force policy.

Ya think? But hey, this isn’t the only cop using police brutality on a wheelchair bound person.

Addicting Info – Cop Caught On Camera Shoving, Hitting Elderly Man Who Needed To Use A Bathroom (VIDEO)

A video captured at the Broward County Central Bus Terminal in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, shows a police officer approaching an elderly man, who was apparently trying to locate a public restroom.

bb13d5e8fc2df31a8e8cc64df26071c4As the man walks through the bus terminal, Fort Lauderdale police officer, Victor Ramirez, can be seen putting on a pair of blue latex gloves.

Ramirez then walks up from behind and grabs the man, who has since been identified as 58-year-old Bruce Laclair, taking hold of his upper arm.

As you can see from the video, Ramirez gives absolutely no warning and does not identify himself as a police officer, prior to walking up behind this guy and grabbing him by the arm.

When LaClair automatically responds by pulling his arm away, the cop shoves him to the ground. The video shows Laclair’s head striking the brick walkway.

LaClair responds after being shoved to the ground:

“F*ck you!”

Pointing a finger at the elderly man, the cop says:

“Relax. I’m telling you right now what’s gonna happen. I’m telling you right now what’s gonna happen. I’m escorting you out right now,”

LeClair, still sitting on the ground tells the officer:

“I want to go pee,”

Ramirez responds:

“You’re not going to go pee,”

Going on to say:

“You’re not supposed to pee here.”

a2c46a4ebc7479329e0aeae38e68d7f1

 

Ramirez then tells LaClair to get up, and again grabs him by the arm.

LaClair, still seated on the ground, puts both hands up.

Seconds later, Ramirez forcefully slaps him across the face so hard it sends him reeling sideways.

Video at link.

I guess LaClair should have told him about uromysitisis poisoning ?

Meanwhile in Chicago:

The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden ‘black site’ | US news | The Guardian

6d3655d7b56e459021aed43413fb77c6This is actually a in depth report about ongoing abuses within the Chicago Police Department. I urge you to go to the link and read the entire source articles and watch the various videos.

 

The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.

“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

 

f898c73164023e971c066c89c3457173Chicago protesters demand probe of what they call police ‘black site’ | Reuters

About 200 protesters gathered outside a police facility in Chicago on Saturday, demanding an investigation into a media report denied by police that the site functions as an off-the-books interrogation compound.

British newspaper The Guardian said in a report earlier this week the Chicago Police Department holds suspects and witnesses for long periods of time at a former warehouse called Homan Square, without giving them access to attorneys or phone calls to family and without recording their detention.

The piece was the subject of intense debate in recent days in Chicago, with some criminal justice experts saying it was exaggerated and others giving it credence.

The protest represented an effort by organizers to pressure city leaders to look into the matter.

 

 

Chicago lawyers agree on police abuses, but balk at ‘black site’ report | MCT National News | McClatchy DC

Allegations that the Chicago Police Department abuses the rights of people that police detain for questioning have been a central element of the notorious police misconduct issues in this city for decades.

0d937b7ddd5a10cdc512d0fa57913b0aFrom the torture carried out by former Cmdr. Jon Burge in the 1970s and 1980s to the baseless detention of people subsequently robbed by rogue officers of the Special Operations Section less than a decade ago, mistreatment of detainees has been much litigated and extensively covered by Chicago news media outlets in recent years.

So when a British newspaper published a series of articles alleging that the Police Department uses a building on the city’s West Side as a “CIA-style interrogation black site” where detainees disappear for hours on end, many experienced criminal defense and civil rights attorneys were puzzled.

The problems at Homan Square described in the stories published by The Guardian include denying detainees access to their lawyers as well as denying lawyers and family members any information about the whereabouts of their clients and loved ones for hours. But lawyers said such problems have been a widespread issue with the Police Department for decades, not one particular to Homan Square.

Richard Dvorak, a veteran criminal defense attorney, said the problem was widespread, but he was unaware of any issue unique to Homan Square.

“Everything that was described (in the Guardian story) was something that happens every day,” he said. “I think it’s pretty systemic throughout CPD.”

Holy Hell.

But then the Guardian is up on its investigative journalism…when it comes to the US:

Protesters question investigation of fatal police shooting in New Jersey | US news | The Guardian

Protesters gathered in Bridgeton, New Jersey on Saturday, to rally against what some see as a biased investigation into the police shooting death of a 36-year-old man in December.

858eb8f71f327ba5c6b2df07a7f54393On 30 December, a dashboard camera captured Bridgeton officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley firing a several shots into a black Jaguar less than two minutes into a traffic stop. Jerame Reid, a New Jersey man, was killed.

On Thursday, Days was accused in a federal lawsuit of raping a 22-year-old woman, Bridgeton resident Shakera Brown, for months while threatening to send her to jail, and continuing to so after the alleged abuse had been reported to his superiors. The suit said Brown complained in summer 2014.

After Reid’s death in December, Days and Worley were put on administrative leave, with pay. Three weeks later Jennifer Webb-McRae, head of the Cumberland County prosecutor’s office, which is investigating the shooting, recused herself from the case. Webb-McRae cited personal connections to Days, whom she said she knew “from the community”.

The new allegations against Days are the latest blow for the Cumberland County prosecutor’s office, which recently failed in its attempts to meet voluntary standards set by the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.

Groups rallying around Reid’s shooting are calling for the New Jersey attorney general to investigate the case. Attorney general John Jay Hoffman, however, has given no indication the state intends to investigate.

More at that link.

Big crowd gathers to protest fatal police shooting in Bridgeton, N.J. | 6abc.com That is the local coverage of the same news story…you see which one is more thorough.

And I will say, New Jersey is not the only one seeing questions raised against police authorities, and prosecutors offices. Take New York…Westchester County.

Former sheriff’s investigator indicted in police brutality claim via:  The Journal News | lohud.com

Former Putnam County sheriff’s investigator Pat Castaldo was indicted Friday morning on three criminal charges Friday related to a July incident in which a shackled prisoner alleged he was beaten.

The indictment charges Castaldo, who retired last year as senior investigator, with filing a false instrument, an E felony; and official misconduct; and attempted assault, both misdemeanors.

Castaldo’ attorney, Andrew Quinn entered a plea of not guilty. He also asked the court to disqualify Putnam County Adam Levy from prosecuting the case.

Quinn argued that Levy had a conflict because Castaldo is a potential witness in Levy’s defamation lawsuit against Putnam Sheriff Donald Smith.

State Supreme Court Justice Robert Neary ordered Castaldo to turn in two firearms. He was then released without bail.

Putnam County paid the suspect, Kenneth DeFreitas, $35,000 last year after he filed a notice of claim alleging police brutality.

DeFreitas was charged for robberies at a supermarket and a bank…and,

According to DeFreitas’ notice of claim, he was lying face down, his hands and feet shackled, when Castaldo began kicking and hitting him. He claimed Castaldo at one point lifted him to his feet and punched him in the kidney.

Schramek, the third-highest ranking officer in the Sheriff’s Office, was also under investigation in the case but was not indicted. He resigned two weeks ago.

The Sheriff’s Office placed the two on “restricted duty” during an internal investigation and referred DeFreitas’ allegations to the FBI, which declined to pursue charges against the two investigators.

The DA’s investigation and grand jury presentation has played out against a backdrop of continued animosity between Levy and Sheriff Don Smith, who each have $5 million defamation lawsuits pending against the other. The Sheriff’s Office has argued that the ongoing feud makes it a conflict of interest for Levy to investigate any sheriff’s employee.

Which is interesting considering….from the same newspaper, News | The Journal News | lohud.com:

Rye, top police officials back on brutality lawsuit

Rye police Lt. Robert Falk claims he never read a 2004 report criticizing the aggressiveness of police Officer Anthony Rosace, that the report sat in a sealed envelope in his office for a decade.

But he’s not sure how, if the envelope from Sgt. Alvin Ortiz was never opened, he knew to put it in a manila file folder marked “Caspi,” the last name of a city teenager who claimed Rosace and another officer beat him up during an arrest that year.

Falk’s discovery of the report in December in an old file box delayed the trial of Andrew Caspi’s federal lawsuit. And now U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff has restored the city of Rye, former police Commissioner William Connors and Detective Lt. Joseph Verille to the lawsuit, paving the way for Caspi’s lawyers to renew their arguments that city officials were aware of Rosace’s propensity for overagressiveness and did nothing to stop it.

Oh…this is one that will really piss you off.

Early on Dec. 12, 2004, Caspi, then a 17-year-old Rye resident, was walking on Boston Post Road to meet his father in the middle school parking lot. He was confronted by Rosace, who had responded to a report of a teenager waving a branch at passing traffic. Officers Franco Compagnone and Michael Anfuso soon arrived as well.

Police contend Caspi had been drinking and became belligerent, pushing Compagnone and running off. When Compagnone and Rosace caught up with him, they took him to the ground and handcuffed him. Ortiz was the supervisor that morning and showed up as the officers were taking Caspi to the ground.

Caspi claims they kicked and beat him before he briefly passed out. He suffered a broken bone under his eye, an injured collarbone and loosened teeth.

The criminal charges against Caspi — assault, resisting arrest and obstruction of justice — were eventually dismissed. He filed his $10 million police brutality lawsuit in 2007. The civil trial is now scheduled to begin April 6.

Rosace, Compagnone and Anfuso are named in the lawsuit. But Ortiz, who retired in 2007 and lives in Florida, emphasized in his written reports and a deposition last month that Anfuso played no role in the physical confrontation with Caspi.

Four days after the arrest, Ortiz wrote a report to Falk saying he wished he had gotten to the scene sooner to stop Caspi from getting hurt and that it was the latest incident of Rosace sending a teenager to the emergency room. He said Rosace had anger-management issues and that nobody in the department seemed to want to address that.

The following day Ortiz wrote a more traditional incident report, detailing what he saw at the tail end of the confrontation and leaving out his thoughts about Rosace.

Go to the link to read more about this case, but when you have a cop whose nicknames reference brutal characters in movies…

Ortiz backtracked somewhat from his report. He said he knew specifically of only one other incident in which a teenager was injured by Rosace. He suggested Rosace’s nicknames of “Terminator” and “RoboCop” among Rye teenagers were based more on the officer’s monotone and rigid style. But he did say Rosace had acted like a bully and that he questioned the officer’s credibility and work ethic.

d704edaef982c851a5032b9d2b25f6bfSo, in just that short amount of time, one newspaper covering a the area of Westchester County as two police brutality cases they are reporting on.

Georgia has it’s own case making headlines: No Charges for Georgia Officer Who Shot Handcuffed Man – ABC News

Washington State too: PASCO, Wash.: Mexican’s killing by police exposes wounds in a changing town | Immigration | McClatchy DC

Migrant laborer’s death in hail of police bullets roils family, leaves questions – CNN.com

New Jersey again: Teen alleges police brutality against Little Falls police officer, incident caught on camera | 7online.com

St. Louis should know better: Video: St. Louis Police Officer Turns Off Dashcam During Traffic Stop | Crooks and Liars

9478da2a2e5a4ffc31d4b26fa10d6a0aOn the other hand, in Seattle: Seattle Police Post Body Cam Videos on YouTube Channel – NBC News.com

 

Ohio, still at it: Cleveland Police Union Blames 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice For Being Some Kind Of Monster | Wonkette

 

There are a couple of generalized articles for you to look at:

Who Faced Police Brutality In February | ThinkProgress This link will give you some other victims of police brutality over the last month…

According to Killed By Police, an online database of fatal encounters between cops and civilians, more than 75 people died at the hands of police in February. Many of the incidents involved violent actions on the part of the deceased, yet fatalities come at a time when tensions between officers and civilians is at a fever pitch. Without question, officers who put their lives on the line to ensure public safety are thrust into high-intensity scenarios, and often have to make split-second decisions. But research shows that mentally ill people and minorities are disproportionately killed — and that fact lies at the heart of national outrage.

Over the past few decades, there’s been a widely-criticized dearth of national data on the number of people killed by officers, and in light of protests and and calls for police reform, the website has become one of the most comprehensive lists to date. However, Killed By Police does not include violent but non-fatal interactions with officers who used excessive force.

Each month, ThinkProgress will roundup some of the egregious cases that drew national attention.

1. Sureshbhai Patel; Madison, AL: A grandfather visiting from India was taking a stroll around his family’s neighborhood, before he was tackled to the ground by Officer Eric Parker. Videos from two dashcams show Parker and Officer Andrew Slaughter (a trainee) ask Patel where he lives several times, even though it is evident that Patel is unable to speak English. Patel points and tries to walk in the direction of his family’s home, before he is handcuffed. After restraining Patel, Parker slams him to the ground. The 57-year-old was partially paralyzed and unable to walk after the incident.

5f6ccaecdf880083a1575c8274ed16a8The two officers were allegedly following up on a call they received about an unfamiliar-looking “skinny black guy.” Police Chief Larry Muncey later declared that Parker’s actions were not justified, and Governor Robert Bentley issued a formal apology to the Indian government days later. A civil rights lawsuit against Parker and the City of Madison is pending.

I know it is a downer of a post this morning, but it is almost over.

Next up, an op/ed by Joyce Carol Oates: Complicit in racism, police brutality – Opinion – The Boston Globe

Is white racism a kind of toxic cloud that drifts over our country, invisible to many or most white-skinned citizens but terrifyingly visible to the black and brown-skinned? We may believe — with good reason — that we are not racists; but does our passivity or indifference to the racism of others make us their enablers? It is stunning to learn that hundreds of millions of dollars are paid out annually in court settlements to victims of police brutality or misconduct — and these millions are paid by taxpayers. In effect, unwittingly, yet not altogether innocently, we are all supporting police brutality and misconduct.

In the late 1990s, while I was being driven back home to Princeton from a literary event in New York City, a New Jersey state police vehicle stopped the car. It was not evident why; the driver had not been speeding or driving erratically, and there was nothing wrong with the Lincoln Town Car.

Two state troopers demanded that the (black) driver show them his driver’s license and the auto registration. They then ordered him to get out of the car. What I could hear of their interrogation was repeated questions: Where are you going? Where do you live? Whose car is this?

No doubt accustomed to being harassed by white law enforcement, the driver answered the questions in a quiet and courteous voice. Yet the officers kept repeating the questions, as if they had some reason to suspect that the driver was lying. Seeing me in the back seat, they walked the driver away from the car, along the shoulder of the highway, and proceeded to interrogate him for what seemed like a very long time — 40 minutes? By this time I had called my husband on my cell phone and told him about the situation — “I don’t know when I will get home,” I remember telling him.

I do remember opening the door of the limousine, thinking that I would stand outside, but one of the troopers yelled angrily at me: “Get back inside that car, lady!”

Whatever they were saying to the black driver, however they might have been threatening him, they did not want a witness. Especially, they did not want a white woman witness.

 

That is an interesting piece, well written for one thing…whether you agree with the point she is making or not.

 

At least an update with a favorable ending: 911 operator who told girl to ‘stop whining’ as father died no longer working | theGrio

Another update:

State Police Union Says PIO’s Transfer Shows “Disrespect” For Troopers – Hartford Courant

The sudden and unexplained transfer of longtime state police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance shows “a disrespect for state police commanders,” according to a statement Saturday from the union representing state police captains and lieutenants.

“We maintain that Lt. Vance has done his job well,” a union spokesman said, “and we can’t help but believe that [Commissioner Dora Schriro’s] actions in this matter are reflective of her limited understanding of leadership in the public safety field in general and law enforcement specifically.”

State police commander Col. Brian F. Meraviglia has offered no detailed reason behind Vance’s transfer to the department’s traffic unit.

“He is in good health and has not requested this change in assignment at this time and this is not the result of a disciplinary issue,” the union, part of the Connecticut State Employees Association, said. “Additionally, he has been told that he has done an outstanding job in his position, which causes us to wonder why someone would be moved for doing a good job.”

2bc01ffab1e851add05ab4c4891c317f“He had a good run. He’s done a good job. He’s served us well. It’s a change of pace…something fresh,” Meraviglia said in a recent interview.

Meraviglia said he ordered the move after consulting with Schriro, commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, which includes the state police.

Y’all may remember my disgust with Vance during the Newtown Shooting.

We have seen Vance Sr. in action during the past few weeks giving information, or should I say…not giving information, during press conferences about the Newtown shooting.

I’ve stated repeatedly that I have a gut feeling about the peculiar attitude of Lt. Vance Sr. at these press conferences. There is something strange about the lack of information coming forward too. As Dak mentioned in a comment a few weeks ago:

….people are trying to understand what caused this to happen or at least what factors contributed to it. The only thing that I’ve noticed about this particular shooting is that the police haven’t been very forthcoming with anything. In some of the other shootings, we had all kinds of people coming forward and the police offered up a lot of different bits and pieces of information. The Head of the State troopers hasn’t been saying anything which leads to all kinds of rumors and speculation as people try to understand how something this horrible could happen. I think it’s just people looking for answers when no information has been forthcoming from the traditional sources. Think of how we knew immediately from the Aurora Mall shooter’s school and the Tuscon Mall shooter’s school and parents about their issues. They both had to even go through the criminal justice system so it’s rather odd that the Connecticut State Police seem so tight about whatever it is they have. Again, I think it’s just rampant speculation because no has come forward with anything concrete. Probably doing the community a lot of injustice and likely the shooter and his mom who both are the sources of all kinds of media rumors.

I got the impression Lt. Vance was very defensive about giving information on the investigation. You can click this link below to review the press conference I am talking about:

WATCH: CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE UPDATE ON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TRAGEDY

Lt. Vance has a defensive attitude about his position as the singular voice of authority for all the various agencies investigating the shootings.

Maybe that has something to with Lt. Vance’s immediate family connection to the man who must approve any lawsuits the shooting victim’s families bring against the state.

Sounds like a conflict of interest to me…

And there is a difference in the tone and substance of the information they are releasing.  Take the Columbine shooting, and how that was handled in the press:

Officials In Newtown Follow A Well-Worn Media Script

In setting himself up as the sole source of reliable information, the state police spokesman was following a well-worn script for getting control of a big, growing story, says Steve Davis, who experienced similar challenges as the official liaison to the media covering the 1999 mass shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.

‘Brutally Honest’ When Needed

On the day of the Columbine shootings, Davis was on the phone and first realized something was wrong when officers rushed out of the office. Within minutes, he was in a car on his way to the high school, trying to make sense of dozens of early and contradictory reports.

“I know it’s hard to imagine now that it could have been any worse, but there were reports that day that we had as many as eight gunmen in the school. Some were [reportedly] hiding in ductwork,” remembers Davis, who is now the spokesman for the police department in the Denver suburb of Lakewood.

Davis said he told reporters at Columbine, “Look, let’s try to understand that there’s going to be a lot of misinformation here. I will try to confirm it and reconfirm it before I give it to you.”

But Davis said he also was “brutally honest” when needed. “Sometimes I had to tell them, ‘You know what? I do know the answer to your question, but … I can’t release it quite yet.’ “

He set up on-the-hour news conferences to keep reporters informed and control the flow of information.

“A big part of each news conference was just rumor control,” Davis says. But he took all questions and did his best to get timely answers for reporters, he says.

Davis seems to have been genuinely concerned with relaying information to the public, more forthcoming with information and less arrogant with his attitude.

Vance Sr. is an asshole of great proportions.

Union Outraged Over Reassignment of State Police Spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance | NBC Connecticut

“The union sees no reason nor are we aware of anything that would have been a just cause transfer of Lt. Vance,” the union stated. “Lt. Vance has garnered the trust of the citizens of Connecticut and has been a voice of calm when significant public safety issues arise. The relationship that he has with our states citizens, elected officials, judicial system and more importantly, the media has been one of trust, accommodation and professionalism. His concern for the victims of crimes is evident in the press releases and statements that he submits, always keeping public safety at the forefront.”

The union touted Vance’s professionalism and service, also noting that “he has obtained international acclaim” after the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School two years ago in providing “accurate information to the nation as well as the Newtown community during such a sad time.” The union said that Vance “helped keep a calm over the community and provided an air of trust and answers for so many that were seeking it on that fateful day.”

For fucks sake, Vance was a total jerk, and he is a megalomaniac to boot!

All I can think say about this little turn of events:

 

I don’t know but it looks like the Conn. Police Union is having some serious issues: Aftershocks from racist letter rattle Bridgeport – Connecticut Post

The racist letter typed on city letterhead and distributed through the Police Department is another knock for a department rocked by the recent conviction of two of its veteran officers for an incident of police brutality known locally as the Beardsley Park Stomp.

But it also comes at a time when the city is actively trying to recruit minorities to the Police Department.

Veteran police officers were walking around the department shaking their heads Thursday, one day after a press conference by the Bridgeport Guardians, an organization of minority city police officers and representatives of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, demanded action be taken against whoever sent the letter.

And along with that, a request for a state police investigation of the incident by Police Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr.

“I’m sick over this,” said one longtime officer. “It’s tough to be a Bridgeport cop today.”

Charles Paris, police union president, said morale in the department is at the lowest level he has ever seen.

“This is a very difficult time to be a police officer and we need all our officers to support each other,” Paris said. “Obviously the union doesn’t condone any mistreatment of any group. We are cooperating with the investigation and once the findings of that investigation comes out, we will react accordingly. But I don’t see there is any racial divide within the department.”

[…]

“The chief (Gaudett) asked us to look into it and we assigned our major crime investigators to do so,” said State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance. “But at this point it is just a couple of days old and there is nothing new.”

Higgins is currently working a light duty assignment in the Police Department’s property room.

“Disciplinary charges remain pending against Officer Higgins for violations of department rules and regulations stemming from several cases. Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr. has referred the cases to the city Police Commission for a disciplinary hearing,” said Bridgeport police spokesman William Kaempffer.

For many veterans of the department the letter incident bears a striking similarity to an incident in November 2007, also made public at a press conference.

In that case then-police Sgt. Joe Anne Simmons, the wife of Guardians founder Ted Meekins found a noose under her patrol car when she came to work at the Police Department’s Community Services Division on Sylvan Avenue.

Although a $5,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest in the incident, the case remains unsolved.

“This incident is a whole other matter and is related to the incident in Beardsley Park, which has now taken on a life of its own,” said Ted Meekins.

What exactly is the Beardsley Park incident?

Cop acquitted in Beardsley Park stomping – Connecticut Post

Beardsley Park cop pleads not guilty to brutality – Connecticut Post

Video at the link…and while I was looking at those articles, here is one story about reverse police brutality?

Arrest policy key issue in civil suit against Newtown – Connecticut Post

The Newtown Police Department‘s handling of an 85-year-old Brookfield man they considered a threat to himself and others has raised constitutional-rights questions about whether the officers should have frisked him before he pulled a gun from his hospital gown and shot a nurse in 2010.

[…]

No one realized Lupienski was armed until he opened fire in the hallway of Danbury Hospital the following afternoon.

However, after two years of litigation, proceedings have stalled while a judge decides whether Lupienski was “in custody” under the Newtown Police Department’s arrest policy before he was taken to Danbury Hospital, where he shot Hull three times.

Hull, a Bethel resident and former U.S. Marine, and his wife are seeking $15,000 in damages. Doctors said a bullet that is still lodged in Hull’s sternum was too dangerous to remove, according to court documents. He also has gunshot wounds in his neck and left hand.

Lupienski was charged with first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, illegal discharge of a firearm and carrying a pistol without a permit.

However, Lupienski died in October 2010 after suffering a major stroke. He was diagnosed with advanced dementia and died just two weeks after being found incompetent to stand trial for shooting Hull.

Hull was shot when Lupienski, who had been admitted to Danbury Hospital the previous day, pulled out a gun while sitting in the eighth-floor cardiac unit. Hull stepped in front of Lupienski to prevent him from shooting others.

[…]

Newtown’s attorney, John Blazi, has argued that town police officer Steven Borges would have violated Lupienski’s constitutional rights if he was searched without being under arrest.

Prominent civil rights attorney John Williams criticized the police department’s stance on the issue.

“I think that it’s so cynical,” Williams said. “Police frisk people on far less justification. In a routine street encounter, you get to pat them down. The police are the first to argue it is their right.”

Williams said he would advise Newtown to reach a settlement.

“I am sure there isn’t a 24-hour period that the police department doesn’t do a routine stop-and-frisk,” Williams said.

Yeah, I mean…we got folks up there that have been shot dead for just walking while Hindu…or black….

“The statute states that an officer `may’ take a person into custody,” Blazi said, according to court documents. “It does not state that he `shall’ take a person into custody. In this case, the evidence is that Mr. Lupienski went to the hospital voluntarily after requesting to do so.”

Blazi argued that police officers would have unlawfully searched Lupienski, and frisking him would be “throwing the Constitution right out the window.”

However, Williams disagreed.

“There is no question this constitutes as an arrest under their own guidelines and following the standard due care to pat this guy down,” Williams said.

Under Newtown’s policy, an arrest is the same as placing a person into custody, Hull’s attorney, David Rosen, said in court documents.

Officer Borges, who dealt with Lupienski at the police station, completed a “police examination request” form where the officer signed beneath a statement that said, “it is my belief that the above named person is mentally ill and dangerous to himself, herself or others or gravely disabled and in need of immediate care and treatment.”

Rosen said Lupienski should have been searched if police considered him to be dangerous to himself and to others.

I think Newtown should settle and be done with it.

The Fourth Amendment protects people from government searches and seizures that are 91aaed3b1eaa68bd845866d4f6899f8ddeemed unreasonable.

Whether a particular type of search is deemed reasonable in the eyes of the law is determined by considering the person’s Fourth Amendment rights and legitimate government interests, such as public safety.

“If they keep him there more than roughly five minutes, the Fourth Amendment kicks in,” Williams said. “People who suffer from paranoid schizophrenia are by definition a risk to others.”

I wonder…if Lupienski was black…would they have searched him? What do you think?

I will end this post with a look at “The Notorious R.B.G.” : The Notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg Brings Harsh SCOTUS Zingers to SNL | Mediaite

“The Notorious R.B.G.” (a.k.a Ruth Bader Ginsburg) made her way to SNL during the “Weekend Update,” with Kate McKinnon doing a hilariously crass impersonation of the eldest Supreme Court justice.

RBG zinged everyone and everything from the state of Alabama, Madonna, and her fellow justices, birthing a new SNL catchphrase in the process: “Ya Gins-burned!”

Video at the link.

Let’s call this a Sunday open thread…I will see if I can find some fun, good time sort of links to put up in the comment section. Have a great day and let us know what you are thinking about today.


Lazy Saturday Reads: Leonard Nimoy, Son of Boston’s Old West End

Leonard Nimoy receives honorary degree from Boston University, May, 2012.

Leonard Nimoy receives honorary degree from Boston University, May, 2012.

Good Afternoon!!

JJ posted some wonderful cartoon tributes to Leonard Nimoy last night. I decided to follow her lead by posting some articles and clips I enjoyed reading and watching. Naturally, I was interested in learning more about Nimoy’s early years in Boston; so that’s what I’m going to focus on today.

I really liked the obituary in The Boston Globe (originally published in the NYT): ‘Star Trek’ icon Leonard Nimoy dies at 83. It’s a very nice piece, and it includes Nimoy’s Boston history.

Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died Friday at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83….

His artistic pursuits — poetry, photography and music in addition to acting — ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets, but it was as Mr. Spock that Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing, “Live long and prosper” (from the Vulcan “Dif-tor heh smusma”).

Nimoy, who was teaching Method acting at his own studio when he was cast in the original “Star Trek” television series in the mid-1960s, relished playing outsiders, and he developed what he later admitted was a mystical identification with Spock, the lone alien on the starship’s bridge.

Nimoy's high school yearbook photo

Nimoy’s high school yearbook photo

On Nimoy’s Boston background:

Martin Walsh, the mayor of Nimoy’s native Boston, called him “a proud product of Boston’s neighborhoods and English High School.”

“Mr. Nimoy never forgot his Boston roots and the spirit of his work lives on in the future generations of children who continue to be inspired by his iconic portrayal of Mr. Spock,” Walsh said.

Born in Boston on March 26, 1931, Leonard Simon Nimoy was the second son of Max and Dora Nimoy, Ukrainian immigrants and Orthodox Jews. His father worked as a barber.

From the age of 8, Leonard acted in local productions, winning parts at a community college, where he performed through his high school years. In 1949, after taking a summer course at Boston College, he traveled to Hollywood, though it wasn’t until 1951 that he landed small parts in two movies, “Queen for a Day” and “Rhubarb.”

English High School

English High School

On his connection to his Jewish ancestry:

In 2002, having illustrated his books of poetry with his photographs, Nimoy published “Shekhina,” a book devoted to photography with a Jewish theme, that of the feminine aspect of God. His black-and-white photographs of nude and seminude women struck some Orthodox Jewish leaders as heretical, but Nimoy asserted that his work was consistent with the teaching of the kabbalah.

His religious upbringing also influenced the characterization of Spock. The character’s split-fingered salute, he often explained, had been his idea: He based it on the kohanic blessing, a manual approximation of the Hebrew letter shin, which is the first letter in Shaddai, one of the Hebrew names for God.

“To this day, I sense Vulcan speech patterns, Vulcan social attitudes and even Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression in my behavior,” Nimoy wrote years after the original series ended.

But that wasn’t such a bad thing, he discovered.

“Given the choice,” he wrote, “if I had to be someone else, I would be Spock.”

I just loved that quote at the end. There’s much more info at the link if you’re interested.

Nimoy grew up in the old West End of Boston, a multi-ethnic neighborhood filled with tenement houses that are gone now. However, there is a West End museum that preserves the neighborhood’s history.  Nimoy is listed among the important products of the neighborhood along with Charles Bullfinch, media mogul Sumner Redstone, movie producer Joseph E. Levine, and others. Here’s a photo of “Lenny” with some schoolmates. You can see the West End tenements in the background.

leonard_nimoy with schoolmates

 

At NECN, you can watch a video with interviews from West Enders.

Boston Remembers Native Leonard Nimoy, Old West End

Boston’s West End looks nothing like it did when Leonard Nimoy was born there in 1931. Then, there were half a dozen schools, 32 ethnic groups and hundreds of tenement houses.

But that is where the actor’s legacy remains.

“I think he’s just a neighborhood guy made good,” said Duane Lucia, curator of The West End Museum….

“When he came home from Hollywood, from the West Coast, he actually had to sleep in the same bed as his brother,” said Lucia. “They lived in a very crowded tenement house, like everybody else, where you might have three generations in a two-bedroom apartment.” ….

He returned to the West End to shoot a documentary, meeting with Lucia and others in the neighborhood.

“The West End is gone. He was part of the West End, now he’s gone. It’s too bad,” said Steve Zaidman, who grew up in the West End.

More at the link.

Salem St. (a Jewish area) in the Old West End

Salem St. (a Jewish area) in the Old West End

 

I found this amazing trove of photos of “Medieval Boston” before Urban Renewal at Cyburbia.org. The photo below came from that link.

Bowdoin Square, 1929, gateway to the doomed West End beyond.

Bowdoin Square, 1929, gateway to the doomed West End beyond.

Here’s some background on the documentary Nimoy shot with his son and video of the first 10 minutes.

Remembering Leonard Nimoy: A Look Back at His Time in Boston’s West End.

Nimoy visited the museum earlier this year with his son, who shot a short film for WGBH titled Leonard Nimoy’s Boston. The program brought Nimoy around to different locations in Boston, from the corner of Washington Street and Boylston Street where he sold vacuum cleaners, to the old West End, which barely resembled anything close to the neighborhood that once existed.

Nimoy was born to Max Nimoy, a barber who also worked making leather patterns for luggage. By the age of 10, young Leonard was hustling newspapers on the Boston Common. His parents would have liked him to go into a profession that would allow Nimoy to live a comfortable life, but his experiences in the West End pushed him towards theatre.

In Percy Shain’s 1963 Globe article, Nimoy talks about the time he spent at the Peabody Playhouse, where children took acting classes and put on productions for the West End community.

“I went into acting at the Playhouse more because I was an active kid and wanted something to do, than because I was stage struck.”

He told Boston University’s Class of 2012 during a commencement speech that “It was a community settlement house which was created to help immigrants find their way into the culture. They offered classes in language, cooking, shopping, kitchen sanitation, dental care and how to apply for a job. There was a gym and a sports program, and there was a small gem of a theater.” Today, the Elizabeth Peabody House is located in Somerville and continues to encourage children to let their creativity drive them.

According to BDC Wire, in 2012, Nimoy told Boston Phoenix writer S.I. Rosenbaum

how his passion for photography started after a friend gave him instructions on developing film. “There were six of us living in the apartment with one bathroom, and that was my darkroom,” he told her.

His interest in photography never waned, and in 2014 he appeared via Skype (see photo below) at a showing of his work at Boston University’s Sherman Gallery, “Leonard Nimoy: Secret Selves.”

Nimoy BU 2014

He previously had had a showing of his work in 2010 at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Here’s a brief article about that show published at The Daily Beast yesterday.

Leonard Nimoy’s ‘Secret’ Talent: A Look Back at His Intimate Photography Exhibition.

Nimoy also had a hidden talent: photography. Back in 2010, he unveiled an exhibition of photo portraits, Secret Selves, at Mass MoCA in his native Massachusetts.

When asked if he’d be appearing in other Star Trek films after 2009’s Star Trek, he laughed.

“You’re talking to a photographer! That’s all over for me,” he told our reporter at the time.

Nimoy described the photo show as a “social experiment,” urging people to pose as their “secret selves”—or alter-egos—yielding fascinating results, with several subjects going so far as posing in the nude.

“To tell you the truth, I feel like I’ve acted out every possible secret self for the last 60 years,” he said. “I’ve done vicious people, honest people, porks—I’ve done all kinds of self.”

See a gallery of Nimoy’s Selves at another Daily Beast link.

More about Nimoy’s art at Art.net News: Leonard Nimoy, Photographer, Art Collector, and Beloved Star Trek Actor, Dead at 83.

Nimoy was a photographer, poet, art collector, and musician, as well as an actor. He became fascinated with photography when he was 13 and went on to study with the photographer Robert Heinecken at UCLA (Heinecken was the subject of a solo show last year at New York’s Museum of Modern Art). His work is represented in various collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Bakersfield Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and New York’s Jewish Museum. He also published several books of photography, including The Full Body Project (2007) and Shekhina (2005).

He was also a beloved patron of the arts, having donated to Asia Society Museum and the Hammer Museum, as well as other museums on the east and west coasts.

“Leonard Nimoy was everything you would imagine him to be—kind, moral, wise, loyal, and profoundly generous of spirit,” Ann Philbin, director of the Hammer Museum, told artnet News in an email. “He truly loved the arts—all of them—but he followed theater and the visual arts with a particular passion and knowledge. He and [his wife] Susan have been great philanthropists for many causes but we were truly lucky at the Hammer to have their friendship and support over the years. We will all miss him terribly.”

Richard Michelson, his Northampton, Massachusetts, dealer pointed out that he supported exhibitions of young and challenging photographers at various museums with funding from his eponymous foundation….

Associated so closely with Mister Spock, Nimoy was intrigued with the notion of alternate identities, and invited volunteers from nearby Northampton to “reveal their secret selves” on film. The concept was fueled by Plato’s “Symposium,” which imagined the original humans were dual creatures then split into two by the gods. In another series, the “Full Body Project,” Nimoy photographed full-bodied women in the nude.

full body project

 

He was clearly a brilliant, sensitive, talented, and creative person.

Nimoy also had a wonderful speaking voice. From the Globe: Nimoy’s voice will live on at Boston’s Museum of Science.

Nimoy, who died Friday morning at age 83, has been opening each movie at the theater since 1988, theater manager Robin Doty said. The Boston-born actor is best known for his role as the pointy-eared Vulcan Mr. Spock on th “Star Trek” TV series.

Nimoy grew up in the city’s West End, the area where the museum is located.

Before the IMAX movies play on the giant screen, during the sound-check, Nimoy’s familiar voice comes on, and he recites some lines from the song, “Who Put the Bomp?” by Barry Mann.

“I think his voice helps acclimate guests to sound systems,” Doty said. “It’s always kind of fun and out of character for him.”

Doty said audiences enjoy Nimoy’s cameo appearance and that it is all part of the experience at the museum.

“He was very open and kind. He had a warm spot in his heart” for the museum, he said. “It’s hard to believe. … He’s such a timeless person.”

 

West End Museum curator Duane Lucia with Leonard and Adam Nimoy at the museum in 2013.

West End Museum curator Duane Lucia with Leonard and Adam Nimoy at the museum in 2013.

 

One final Boston-related story that Leonard Nimoy told during his speech at BU’s Commencement in 2012, from Business Insider.

Leonard Nimoy said a chance meeting with a young JFK changed his life.

In 2012, he reflected on his life in a commencement speech to Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. He told the story of how a chance meeting with future president John F. Kennedy inspired him when he was at a low point in his career.

In the 1950s, Nimoy was struggling in Los Angeles with a wife and two kids, he said in his speech. He spent his days in auditions and his nights driving a taxi for steady income. One night he picked up Kennedy, who was a Massachusetts senator at the time, at the Bel Air Hotel. He said:

We chatted about careers … politics and show business, and we agreed that both had a lot in common. Maybe too much in common. He said, “Lots of competition in your business, just like in mine.” And then he gave me this: “Just remember there’s always room for one more good one.”

Words to live by, and I did.

So you can see that Boston had a huge impact on Leonard Nimoy’s life, and in return he has had a powerful impact on the city of his birth and its people.

 

You can treat this as an open thread. What’s happening in the news today?


Friday Nite Lite: RIP Leonard Nimoy

160672_600

So sad to hear of the passing of Leonard Nimoy, he was 83. It is unfortunate that most of the cartoon tributes are at Cagle so you will need to click each link to see the image.

Leonard Nimoy dies by Political Cartoonist Dave Granlund

Obama salutes Spock by Political Cartoonist Taylor Jones

LEONARD NIMOY by Political Cartoonist Randy Bish

Leonard Nimoy by Political Cartoonist Bob Englehart

Leonard Nimoy Mr Spock RIP by Political Cartoonist Rob Tornoe

Mr Spock by Political Cartoonist Milt Priggee

Other Cagle cartoons:

GOP Threatens Dept of Homeland Security by Political Cartoonist Daryl Cagle

Old Man Winter by Political Cartoonist Milt Priggee

Veto Ink by Political Cartoonist Adam Zyglis

Tennessee Rep Sheila Butt by Political Cartoonist Daryl Cagle

Net Neutrality by Political Cartoonist John Darkow

Cold Blooded by Political Cartoonist Mark Streeter

Alright, enough of that.

AAEC – Political Cartoon by John Cole, Scranton Times/Tribune – 02/27/2015

Cartoon by John Cole -

Nick Anderson: Netanyahu’s Speech – Nick Anderson – Truthdig

 

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer – 02/27/2015

Cartoon by Kevin Siers -

 

Jeb 2016 – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 02/27/2015

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Jeb 2016

Bill O’Reilly – Political Cartoon by Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News – 02/27/2015

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Bill O'Reilly

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 02/27/2015

Cartoon by David Horsey -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 02/26/2015

Cartoon by David Horsey -

Mike Luckovich: Lucky GOP – Mike Luckovich – Truthdig

 

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

Cold Crime – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 02/23/2015

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Cold Crime

America’s Mayor – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 02/24/2015

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - America's Mayor

 

I love this last one…

 

Mad Whitey and Evolution – Political Cartoon by Eric Semelroth, Free Lance/Self Syndicated – 02/23/2015

Cartoon by Eric Semelroth - Mad Whitey and Evolution

 

This is an open thread.


Friday Reads: The Medium isn’t the Message

martha-gellhornGood Morning!

I’ve been looking at media stories this week.  That includes both traditional and nontraditional forms.  The internet continues to influence the release of news and how news is made and reported. Several topics really caught my eye.  The first is the ease with which we’re seeing documentation of Bill O’Reilly’s exaggerations on places he’s been and news stories he covered.  It seems like one exaggeration/lie after another is popping up from all kinds of places since David Corn of Mother Jones found out that O’Reilly was never near a battlefield during the Falklands War despite the stories O’Reilly tells.  Here’s some of the latest on the life and times of the blustery, on line person who really is a serial liar.

Former colleagues of Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News host whose tales of past reporting exploits are facing renewed scrutiny, have disputed his account of surviving a bombardment of bricks and rocks while covering the 1992 riots in Los Angeles.

Six people who covered the riots with O’Reilly in California for Inside Edition told the Guardian they did not recall an incident in which, as O’Reilly has claimed, “concrete was raining down on us” and “we were attacked by protesters”.

Several members of the team suggested that O’Reilly may instead be overstating a fracas involving one disgruntled Los Angeles resident, who smashed one of their cameras with a piece of rubble.

Two of the team said the man was angered specifically by O’Reilly behaving disrespectfully after arriving at the smoking remains of his neighbourhood in a limousine, whose driver at one point began polishing the vehicle. O’Reilly is said to have shouted at the man and asked him: “Don’t you know who I am?”

O’Reilly, 65, is one of the most influential figures in American broadcasting and publishing. He is paid a reported $20m a year to host his show, the O’Reilly Factor, which consistently ranks among the most-watched current affairs programs in US cable TV. He has also authored several bestselling books and memoirs.

He has for several days been defending himself against accusations that he inflated his recollections of reporting from Argentina at the end of the Falklands war as a young correspondent for CBS News. The Guardian found he had told differing versions of an apparent encounter at gunpoint with Argentinian forces.

He has also been accused of lying in one of his books about being present at the scene when a CIA source, who had allegedly been linked to the assassination of President John F Kennedy, killed himself in 1977.

imagesXS1GNOQHFox News and Holt–publisher of O’Reilly’s book on Kennedy–have stood firmly by their man. O’Reilly’s show has never much been about facts any way as delivering anger to a key republican base.  This would seem hard to ignore.  Additionally, O’Reilly has actually threatened reporters.  Every one expected the name calling but it’s gone way beyond that now. How can Fox stand behind an on air personality that lies and threatens journalists?

As the controversy surrounding Bill O’Reilly and his war reporting experiences continues to heat up, with more allegations coming out each day, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow wonders how much longer Fox News can stand by the host.

On Wednesday evening, Maddow spoke with Mother Jones author David Corn, one of the journalists who wrote the original report revealing the inaccuracies in O’Reilly’s story. O’Reilly subsequently called Corn “a liar” and said that he deserves to be put in “the kill zone.” On Tuesday, the Fox News host threatened a New York Times reporter covering the scandal: “I am coming after you with everything I have,” O’Reilly said.

“Apparently, they [Fox News] think it’s proper for one journalist to call another one names,” Corn told Maddow. “Not that it scares me off the story, but I have family and I have friends who are concerned about me now.”

Corn called the threats “highly inappropriate” and noted that O’Reilly still has not disproven “a single fact” from his piece.

Maddow said that after his threats to Corn and the Times’ reporter, it is “untenable” for Fox News to stand by him.

“They employ a lot of journalists, including those who work in risky situations,” she said. “Fox is a good place to work for journalists.”

Maddow made a similar point on her show one night earlier, questioning what O’Reilly’s behavior will do to Fox News’ “work environment” and to the “real reporters” that work there

Why on earth do news personalities like O’Reilly and Brian Williams lie when their jobs should be all about integrity? photogsDo they all yearn to be seen as Walter Cronkite?  Do their memories and egos just run amok?

News in America has increasingly become infotainmenthalf factual information about the world’s events, half dazzling production and splashy narratives. Simultaneously, fewer and fewer Americans have ever seen battle; most of us only know war from what we see in film and television. So war itself becomes difficult to distinguish from entertainment. American Sniper, with its ambiguous moral commitments, is now the highest grossing American war film of all time, adjusted for inflation. Unlike popular war films about battles long past, American Sniper is set during the Iraq war, the effects of which are only beginning to ripple across our culture. Moreover, its story allegedly reflects the true-life story of its central character, sniper Chris Kyle. It’s somewhat true, like the news, but with a better script and pretty actors.

Which makes it hard for the news to keep up, even when you’re as handsome as Brian Williams. Unlike most cinematic retellings of wars, actual wars are multifaceted, complicated, anti-climactic, and grim. When war is already a successful subject in mainstream cinema, news purveyors whose professions have become increasingly akin to entertainment are shrewd to play up war stories in relaying the narrative of the day. The trouble is that shrewdness, for some news professionals, has morphed into a calculated consideration of the entertainment value of war stories, regardless of their factuality.

Maybe Williams and O’Reilly are merely victims of the fallible human brain. Or maybe that hunger to entertainand, perhaps, for a touch of gloryoverwhelmed their professional duty to the facts. What, after all, is more exciting than a war story in which you’re the star.

imagesH6SL6G62The other story I’ve followed has been yet another installment of “Is blogging dead?”  These are articles that I’ve seen a lot of since around three years ago. I guess the collapse of the Andrew Sullivan experiment has brought on another deluge.  The link explores the musings of bloggers from “The Golden Age” which seems an odd way to describe a period of maybe 5 years.  Any way, there are a few bloggers with opinions both ways.  I’ve followed a few of the links including this one from fellow economist/blogger Noah Smith.

In a nutshell, what is dying is the idea of the blog as a news source. In the old days, as a reader, you would have a favorite blogger, who would write many frequent posts throughout the day. That would be your main news source, your portal to current events. Often the post would have a slight bit of commentary or reaction. Basically, you got to hear the world narrated through the voice of someone you liked. For me, those narrators were University of California, Berkeley, economist Brad DeLong and Matt Yglesias, now at Vox. For many, it was Sullivan.

Twitter has basically killed that. With a Twitter feed you can integrate a bunch of different narrators into a single, flowing newsreel. It turns out that most of the micro-commentary that used to accompany a blog post can be squeezed into one or two tweets.

But the thing about micro-blogging is that, well, it’s micro. If you look at the blogs that Klein lists as the future (and there are many, many more), you will see that they all do posts that are about the length of a news article. That’s something Twitter complements, but can’t replicate.

However, that doesn’t mean that blog posts are now just news articles freed from the tyranny of professional editors. With blogs, you can do something that news can’t easily do — you can carry on a conversation.

imagesN5QQ6TZYI have to admit that I have mixed feelings about those declaring blogging to be the refuge of 40 year olds with kids or that nothing relevant happens on blogs these days. Maybe it’s because many of my friends are bloggers. But, I would like to point out that Lamar White–a blogging law student–broke two huge stories in the last year. The first was the shoddy situation with moonlight Congressman–now Senator–Double Bill Cassiday. The LSU med center just audited  whitewashed its findings and Lamar is still on top of it.  His second piece connecting Congressman Steve Scalise to the local white supremacists and David Duke nearly cost Scalise a leadership position.  Indeed, bloggers can frequently do good local investigations which is something local and national media rarely fund any more.

I would agree that blogging is changing but then so are all forms of written communication as well as broadcast media. Chris Cilliza has another notion.

The idea inherent in all of the death knells for blogging is that blogging is any one thing. It’s not. As I explain to anyone who will listen to me  an ever-shrinking populace  a “blog” is simply a publishing medium. It’s a way to put content on the Internet  usually a fast and, relatively, user-friendly way. But, the conflating a publishing medium with a sort of online writing  opinionated, snarky  that tends to be the preferred approach of many of its users is a mistake.

Well, we’re still standing–or sitting as the case may be–while sharing information with each other. We’ve all come a long way since we were booted from various communities for being loyal to Hillary back in 2008. I think there will always be a place for alternative voices. I say this as a former writer of an underground “newspaper”–The Aardvark–from way back in the day.  The medium evolves. The writer’s voice and need to write carries on.

So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Guerrilla Knitting, Scarf Bombing, and Other News

bull

Good Morning!!

There is quite a bit of interesting news today, so this will basically be a link dump; but first I want to share a feel-good story my mother tipped me off to. It’s about something called “yarn bombing” or more recently “scarf bombing.” I guess this has been going on for a few years, but I had never heard about it before. Here’s an article from last year

Yarn bombing is a form of urban graffiti or street art that uses colorful knitted or crocheted work instead of chalk or paint. To give you an idea of what this form of street art is all about, here’s a piece from a site called “Restore My Faith”: 32 Examples of Guerrilla Knitting. More recently charitable groups and individuals have modified this idea to help needy or homeless people deal with cold weather–by creating “scarf bombs” that they leave tied to trees and other public objects anonymously for anyone who needs them.

Yarn bomb INdy

My mom saw this story on the Indianapolis ABC News channel: Scarf Bomb: Anonymous group leaves warm gear with warm notes around the Circle in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS – Dozens of knitted scarves were ready for the taking Monday on Monument Circle after an anonymous “scarf bombing.”

No one seems to know who left the roughly 40 scarves hanging on poles and parking meters, but there were notes that said they were free to anyone who needed to stay warm….

Knit bombing, or in this case, scarf bombing, has been going on for a couple years now in Indianapolis, and this is one of the first times we’re seeing it as a way to help the homeless and other people in need.

After RTV6 broke this story, a group from LifeJourney Church (located at 56th Street and Keystone Avenue) reached out and let us know earlier this month, it did the same thing.

The group hung scarves and hats it had collected all around Veterans Memorial Plaza. They had notes on them, reading: “These are not lost. If you are cold, and in need of some warmth, please take. God bless you!”

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I found articles about scarf bombing–and sock and glove bombing all over the country and in Canada. I took it as proof that there really is hope for humanity, I hope it will make you feel good too. I’m going to illustrate this post with examples of knitting bombs.

More links about scarf/sock/glove bombing:

Ft. Wayne, IN: Food Not Bombs Organization Holds First “Scarf Bombing” Event.

Lancaster, PA: Wrap Up Lancaster spreads the warmth through scarf-bombing.

Jacksonville, FL: Local woman leaves free winter gear around Jacksonville.

Detroit: Detroit ‘yarn-bombed’ with knit hats and scarves.

Isn’t that a nice story?

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Now for some “real” news.

Net Neutrality Vote

Today is a big day for anyone who wants to keep the internet free instead of allowing cable companies to make maximum profits by letting giant corporations control it. From USA Today: At last, FCC to vote Thursday on net neutrality rules.

After nearly a year-long process, the Federal Communications Commission casts its all-important vote Thursday on the divisive issue of net neutrality.

The five-member board is expected to approve FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s new rules that aim to preserve an open Internet and prevent Internet service providers from discriminating against content makers. But regardless what happens Thursday, the agency’s action won’t be the last word.

“It is a defining moment, but it will be redefined by the courts, Congress and other entities including the marketplace going forward,” said Gary Arlen, a Bethesda, Md., research analyst. “But whatever they decide is going to be a benchmark.”

Net neutrality has become a politicized and polarizing issue in the roughly 10 months since the commission began crafting new rules. The agency’s previous regulations were tossed out by a federal court in January 2014.

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Here’s a good background article from Fusion: The winners and losers of Washington’s vote on net neutrality.

Commissioner Tom Wheeler is proposing that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should be regulated in the same way as other common carrier utility services, meaning they won’t be able to give the privilege of a faster Internet to customers and websites that can pay for it.

Earlier this month, Wheeler proposed the new regulations and wrote an op-ed for Wired that translated the bureaucrat-ese into human-speak. He wants to make a fundamental change to how ISPs and Internet traffic are regulated, governing them under Title II of The Communications Act of 1934, and not under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This change would give the government the ability to penalize ISPs for making “any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services.” The vote comes down to the decision of five people, two Republicans and three Democrats. If this vote passes (which it’s expected to), it would redefine and incorporate broadband service providers in the same grouping as the telecommunication giants. This would cause Internet providers, including wireless ones, to be regulated the same way cable companies are governed.

This digital tug-of-war on Capitol Hill over net neutrality has been going on for a decade. Whether or not consumers and companies should be charged for a “fast lane” (or condemned to a cost-free slow lane) has caused cable/internet providers and major tech companies to stand on opposite sides of the hill.

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Verizon and Comcast, two of the biggest spenders on lobbyists, both hate the idea of a common carrier utility Internet. Which makes perfect sense, given that these communication providers would be missing a golden opportunity to charge for premium Internet service.

On the other side are companies like Tumblr, which has an ongoing campaign to get people to share their stance on the matter at hand. There’s also Twitter, which released a statement Monday in support of free-flowing information without economic hierarchy.

The main proposals for FCC regulation of the internet:

-  No blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.

–  No throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.

–  No paid prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration – in other words, no “fast lanes.” This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates under the “commercial reasonableness” part of Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

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Read more at Fusion to get the details on “some big name tech companies, communication providers and politicians’ stances on the topic.”

A few more links:

WaPo, The Switchboard: With net neutrality, the FCC is about to make Internet history.

ProPublica, Net Neutrality May Face an Uphill Battle If History Tells Us Anything.

HuffPo, How We Won Net Neutrality.

Politicio, Keep the Internet Free (by David Karp, founder of Tumblr, “I couldn’t have created Tumblr without net neutrality.”

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In case you missed it, the Guardian broke a big story yesterday by Spencer Ackerman: The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden ‘black site’.

The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.

“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

Scary stuff. That is a must-read.

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Here’s today’s follow-up story from Spencer Ackerman, Zach Stafford, Mark Guarino, and Oliver Laughland:

‘Gestapo’ tactics at US police ‘black site’ ring alarm from Chicago to Washington.

The US Department of Justice and embattled mayor Rahm Emanuel are under mounting pressure to investigate allegations of what one politician called “CIA or Gestapo tactics” at a secretive Chicago police facility exposed by the Guardian.

Politicians and civil-rights groups across the US expressed shock upon hearing descriptions of off-the-books interrogation at Homan Square, the Chicago warehouse that multiple lawyers and one shackled-up protester likened to a US counter-terrorist black site in a Guardian investigation published this week.

As a second person came forward to the Guardian detailing her own story of being “held hostage” inside Homan Square without access to an attorney or an official public record of her detention by Chicago police, officials and activists said the allegations merited further inquiry and risked aggravating wounds over community policing and race that have reached as high as the White House.

Caught in the swirl of questions around the complex – still active on Wednesday – was Emanuel, the former chief of staff to Barack Obama who is suddenly facing a mayoral runoff election after failing to win a majority in a contest that has seen debate over police tactics take a central role.

Emanuel’s office refused multiple requests for comment from the Guardian on Wednesday, referring a reporter to an unspecific denial from the Chicago police.

More on Emmanuel’s problems from John Nichols at The Nation: Rahm Emanuel Seemed Unstoppable—Until He Ticked Off Chicago’s Teachers.

Scarf bombing in Winnipeg

Scarf bombing in Winnipeg

In other news . . .

Foreign Policy

The man referred to as Jihadi John has been identified. Reuters UK repoerts, ‘Jihadi John’ from Islamic State beheading videos unmasked as Londoner.

USA Today, Islamic State fighters destroy Iraq antiquities.

Bloomberg Business on the Ukraine crisis, Ukraine Says Truce Takes Hold as Army Begins Weapons Pullback.

Republican Politics

Don’t miss this one from Tim Shorrock at The Nation, Giuliani’s Love for His Country Is Equal to the Money He Makes.

MSNBC.com, CPAC tests GOP 2016 field at a two-day conference in Maryland.

Have you noticed how well Scott Walker seems to be doing in the GOP race? Here’s a must read from John Cassidy at the New Yorker, The Dangerous Candidacy of Scott Walker.

The Daily Beast, Chris Christie Needs a Billion and a Half Bucks.

Gawker, Imagine Chris Christie Falling Out of a Chair, Forever.

Blue Nation Review, Barbara Boxer Hands the GOP Their Butts on A Platter.

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Scary stuff on the Supreme Court and the ACA: 

Politico, Supreme Court ruling could upturn Obamacare politics.

Bloomberg, Is Washington Ready for the Death of Obamacare?

Bloomberg View, How the Supreme Court Could Save Obamacare Again.

Odds and ends:

AP, New round of winter weather dumps more snow on the South.

NBC News, Atlanta, Georgia, Weather: City Tries Orderly Approach to Avoid Repeat of Snow Paralysis.

CNN, Groan with the wind: South gets hit with another winter storm

USA Today, I-95 in Maine partially reopened after 75-vehicle pileup.

Just for MA Sky Dancers, from CBS Boston: David Ortiz Says He And Tom Brady Age Like A Fine Wine.

What stories are you following today?

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Wednesday Reads: Leftovers

10626215_914005625301082_5872656109029350996_oGood Morning

This is just going to be a link dump, I am not feeling quite up to the task of writing a post today, maybe it is the frustrating tiresome week…I don’t know. It gets exhausting spending so many hours snowbound with a man who is your total polar political opposite.

Anyway, for now I hope you find the following links interesting.

There has been quite a lot of “talk” about Patty Arquette’s backstage comments regarding various groups and their need to support Woman’s Rights.

See these two articles, or op/eds from Reality Check:

First: Patricia Arquette’s Spectacular Intersectionality Fail by Andrea Grimes

Intersectionality – Geek Feminism Wiki

(I had to look it up…good thing Grimes put up a link.)

And secondly: The Road to Structural Erasure Is Paved With Well-Intentioned White Ladies #ABLC by Imani Gandy

Then this later response by Gandy: The Funny Thing About Privilege #ABLC

il_fullxfull.711228862_qyjdGive all those a read and then take a look at this:

Patricia Arquette responds to Oscars feminism controversy, and Hillary Clinton supports her – People – News – The Independent

I am glad Hillary backed up Arquette…

Hillary Clinton: It’s Time For Wage Equality ‘Once And For All’

Hillary Clinton lamented the number of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math at a Silicon Valley women’s conference on Tuesday, and called for more action to close the wage gap.

il_fullxfull.561770561_764v“Sixty percent of college graduates are now women, yet they earn only 18 percent of computer science degrees. That’s actually less than half of what it was in the 1980s, when women earned 38 percent of those degrees. We’re going backwards in a field that’s supposed to be all about going forward,” Clinton said in a keynote address at Lead On Conference for Women in Santa Clara, California, for which she was reportedly paid a whopping $300,000.

The former secretary of state addressed an overwhelmingly friendly crowd made up of many employees from Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies, including Intel, Oracle and Cisco. Introduced as a “modern day suffragette,” Clinton empathized with the audience by noting the difficulties women still face in male-dominated Silicon Valley.

“You bump your heads on the glass ceilings that persist in the tech industry today,” she told the attendees.

Clinton framed the need to empower women as beneficial to America’s economy as a whole, and in so doing paid deference to one of Apple, Inc.’s biggest slogans.

il_fullxfull.686180167_1uhx“There are lasting consequences for them, their families, and our economy,” she said of women left out of the STEM fields. “We cannot afford to leave all that talent sitting on that sidelines. To borrow a familiar phrase, it’s time to think different.”

In advocating for closing the pay gap, Clinton also endorsed the impassioned plea for wage equality made by Patricia Arquette in her Oscars acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress.

This is what she said:

“Up and down the ladder many women are paid less for the same work, which is why we all cheered at Patricia Arquette’s speech at the Oscars — because she’s right, it’s time to have wage equality once and for all,” Clinton said.

Damn right. I made some comments on the first post written by Imani Gandy, after that I just got tired of the whole thing. So tired of fighting for every little bit of something that is right and is deserved.  Fuck it.

The rest of the links, coming at ya:

il_fullxfull.709423135_2htbAnother look at Clinton’s speech: SANTA CLARA, Calif.: Clinton to women: It can still feel like 1955 out there | Elections | McClatchy DC

Which is the most sexist national anthem? | News | The Guardian

Italy and Turkey are the sexist…US is in the orange range…

Roman Polanski Appears in Court in Extradition Hearing – NYTimes.com

I wonder if he will ever face justice.

SHOCKING New Poll Shows Majority Of GOP Total Idiots | Wonkette

Brace yourselves for some stunning, shocking, jaw-dropping, too-amazing-to-believe-yet-totally-believable news! According to a new poll from PPP, the Republican Party is overflowing with morons. It’s true. In fact, it’s SCIENCE! Or MATH! Or some kind of liberal hoax thing!

Let’s nerdsplore how goddamned dumb Republicans are, shall we?

image: http://img.wonkette.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/evolution.png

evolutionIf you think that’s depressing, well, OK, you’re right, it is depressing. But it gets worse:

image: http://img.wonkette.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/global-warming.png

global warmingDidn’t Republicans used to more or less accept that basic science was real, scientifically speaking? Yes, but that’s before the entire party adopted the official “I’m not a scientist” platform, thanks to Fox News teaching the “controversy.”

il_fullxfull.376007480_9tx5Hey, but you know…they do love them some fetuses! At least until they are born: Republican lawmaker: It’s OK for children to die in the name of God – Salon.com

In a deeply religious section of Idaho, a Republican state representative says that the state has no right to protect children from their parents who refuse them needed medical treatment in favor of faith healing.

“Children do die,” says Rep. Christy Perry. And it’s fine with her if Idaho children die in the name of God. Perry’s district includes many followers of a religious cult, Followers of Christ, that eschews medicine. She says that the sect’s members are more comfortable confronting death when it happens to their children.

“I’m not trying to sound callous, but [people calling for reform] want to act as if death is an anomaly. But it’s not. It’s a way of life,” she says.

Oh boy…

1532077_714422388592741_973356611_oAgain, I am so sick of this shit. And I really don’t feel like arguing about it.

An Italian cemetery may provide clues on cholera’s evolution-Medievalist.net

The site contains victims of the cholera epidemic that swept the world in the 1850s, said Clark Spencer Larsen, professor of anthropology at Ohio State University and one of the leaders of the excavation team.

Archaeologists and their students have spent the past four summers painstakingly excavating remains in a special section of the cemetery used for cholera victims. About 20 to 30 skeletons have been excavated during each of the past four field seasons.

Finding traces of the pathogen that caused cholera among the human remains could reveal details about how people lived – and died – in this region of Europe. “To our knowledge, these are the best preserved remains of cholera victims of this time period ever found,” Larsen said. “We’re very excited about what we may be able to learn.”

il_fullxfull.726272341_bd6nOn the move: The impact of economic migration – Al Jazeera English

Urbanisation is rapidly picking up pace. We hit the tipping point in 2009, when there were more people living in urban areas than in rural ones.

The United Nations believes an additional 2.5bn people will live in urban areas by 2050, which is only 35 years away.

Many of the rural poor come to the cities and end up living in sub-standard housing. It is estimated that 863 million people now live in slums. And China alone, according to the UN, will need to spend $6.8tn over the next two decades just to integrate rural workers.

Counting the Cost examines the challenges of economic migration.

Al Jazeera’s Adrian Brown reports from China; and Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, joins us from New York to discuss migration and the issues behind it.

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Mysterious East Coast flooding caused by ‘unprecented’ surge in sea level – The Washington Post

Here’s a Satirical Take on the 40 Things the News Wants You to Be Afraid Of – Truthdig

5 Lessons Fat Albert Should Have Taught Bill Cosby | Cracked.com

Sicilian mafioso who lived incognito in Britain for 20 years to be extradited | World news | The Guardian

New Research Into Indo-European Languages – Archaeology Magazine

Brilliant Fireball Wows Skywatchers, Rattles Windows In Florida

and this last link:

Where Do Sesame Seeds Come From, Anyway?

Let’s treat this as an open thread…what are you reading about today?


Tuesday Reads: Drink More Coffee–It’s Good for You!* And Other News

winter coffee book

Good Morning!!

There’s a supposedly huge drama being carried on in Washington DC, but I just can’t get excited about it. Republicans are holding funding for the Department of Homeland Security hostage in an effort to block President Obama’s executive order on immigration.

I really haven’t been following this story, not only because I assumed it would end like all the other idiotic Republican efforts to shut down the government–a huge bluff that ends one side caving–but also because I don’t particularly care about the Department of Homeland Security.

I don’t want ordinary workers there to lose their jobs, but “homeland security” gives me the creeps. Isn’t it mostly about investigating Americans and harassing them in airports and other public places? I read the list of DHS activities at their website (see previous link) and I could find anything that I could get worked up about–maybe disaster preparedness.

Boston is going through a horrendous slow-moving disaster right now, and there’s been no help coming from DHS as far as I know. I’m sure elderly people must be going hungry because they can’t get out of their homes and poor people are probably freezing because they can’t afford to pay for heat. I don’t know for sure, because the media doesn’t seem to be asking questions about these marginalized people.

I do know that working people here are losing their jobs and may eventually lose their homes because they can’t get to work. In addition to the problem of getting out of your house and getting around with after more than 100 inches of snow have been dumped on us, Boston’s public transportation system is crippled. This morning when I woke up it was -11 degrees outside, and more snow is expected tonight.

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But getting back to the Homeland Security/Immigration fight, the truth is that it’s really a Republican thing. Semi-normal Republicans think DHS is really important and other, completely insane Republicans are more obsessed with keeping any more brown people from becoming U.S. citizens. At Forbes, Stan Collender writes:

Up to now I’ve been relatively convinced that House and Senate Republicans somehow would find a way to avoid shutting down the Department of Homeland Securitywhen its current appropriation expires in four days.

But it has become increasingly obvious over the past week that the reason for the stalemate between House and Senate Republicans over the DHS appropriation (as I said in this post, this is an almost purely GOP vs. GOP fight) has less to do with the publicly stated reason – stopping the president’s executive orders on immigration – and far more to do with the 2016 congressional election.

That makes coming up with a solution that will satisfy the House and Senate Republican majorities AND can pass each house of Congress far more difficult and makes a DHS shutdown more likely.

The militant wing of the House Republican caucus doesn’t fear a potentially negative impact on the coming election. To the contrary, it sees shutting down the Department of Homeland Security as a boon to their reelection chances. A shutdown will demonstrate a take-no-prisoners attitude to the militantly conservative, very anti-Democrat and overwhelmingly anti-Obama constituents who vote in the primary or whose support will make a primary unnecessary. To these GOP House members, a shutdown is not something to be avoided; it’s one of the first scheduled events in their 2016 reelection campaigns.

By contrast, the 24 Senate Republicans up for reelection in 2016 not only have to pay attention to a larger and (relatively at least) more moderate base, they also have to consider the Democrats in their state who will be voting. And given that 10-12 of the 24 Republican senators who will be up for reelection next year are from blue states, they cannot afford to ignore or even give short shrift to the political impact of a shutdown on their Democratic voters.

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Good. Let the Republican assholes fight it out. Mitch McConnell has a new plan to separate the immigration fight from the DHS funding, but it’s hard to see how that will work because it will take away the wingnuts’ leverage. USA Today reports:

McConnell, R-Ky., announced that he is essentially breaking off controversial immigration amendments from the bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security. Those amendments have been at the center of the impasse over a $40 billion spending bill for the agency.

McConnell is offering a bill that would bar federal funds from being used to carry out President Obama’s executive actions to protect about 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to work legally in the USA.

That move should allow a separate DHS funding bill to move forward without the immigration provisions that have caused a stalemate in Congress and led to the looming shutdown at the agency.

{{yawn…}} I doubt if this will work, but we’ll see . . . . What I don’t get is, since a judge has already stopped Obama’s immigration plan for the moment, what is the GOP fight really about? If anyone can explain it to me, please do.

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Meanwhile, various Republican state legislators continue to demonstrate their ignorance about female bodies. The latest example comes from Idaho state Rep. Vito Barbieri. From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Idaho lawmaker asks if woman can swallow camera for gynecological exam before medical abortion.

BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho lawmaker received a brief lesson on female anatomy after asking if a woman can swallow a small camera for doctors to conduct a remote gynecological exam.

The question Monday from Republican state Rep. Vito Barbieri came as the House State Affairs Committee heard nearly three hours of testimony on a bill that would ban doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine….

Dr. Julie Madsen, a physician who said she has provided various telemedicine services in Idaho, was testifying in opposition to the bill. She said some colonoscopy patients may swallow a small device to give doctors a closer look at parts of their colon.

“Can this same procedure then be done in a pregnancy? Swallowing a camera and helping the doctor determine what the situation is?” Barbieri asked.

Madsen replied that would be impossible because swallowed pills do not end up in the vagina.

“Fascinating. That makes sense,” Barbieri said, amid the crowd’s laughter.

Barbieri later claimed he was just “trying to make a point.” What that point was is unclear. Here’s what he told the press:

I was being rhetorical, because I was trying to make the point that equalizing a colonoscopy to this particular procedure was apples and oranges,” he said. “So I was asking a rhetorical question that was designed to make her say that they weren’t the same thing, and she did so. It was the response I wanted.”

BTW, doctors in Idaho do not prescribe morning after pills through telemedicine, so it’s also unclear why the bill is deemed necessary by Idaho wingnut Republicans.

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Remember James O’Keefe? He’s baaaaaack. On Sunday, a right-wing website that I won’t link to (you can find the link at Memeorandum) reported that O’Keefe had tweeted that he has a new blockbuster video coming out and he “fears for [his] life” after it goes public. This morning, the big scoop was revealed in the New York Post. O’Keefe is targeting Al Sharpton with claims that he doesn’t really care about the families of victims like Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner.

Al Sharpton is all about the Benjamins, a daughter of police chokehold victim Eric Garner claims in a bombshell videotape.

Erica Snipes tees off on the reverend as interested primarily in money during a conversation secretly recorded by controversial conservative activist James O’Keefe’s group, Project Veritas.

One of O’Keefe’s investigators with a hidden camera posed as a Garner supporter during a protest last month at the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island.

“You think Al Sharpton is kind of like a crook in a sense?” the investigator is heard asking Garner’s oldest daughter.

“He’s about this,” Snipes replies, rubbing her fingers together.

“He’s about money with you?” the undercover asks.

“Yeah,” Snipes responds.

You can watch the video at the NY Post link.

Joseph Cannon is all over this story, and I hope he’ll write more about it. For now, he has a post up with plenty of background on James O’Keefe.

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O’Keefe’s story isn’t likely to get much mainstream attention, because the media is already wallowing a scandal in Obama’s cabinet. From Huffington Post yesterday: VA Secretary Robert McDonald Falsely Claimed He Served In Special Forces.

Robert McDonald, the secretary of veterans affairs, wrongly claimed in a videotaped comment earlier this year that he served in special operations forces, the most elite units in the armed forces, when his military service of five years was spent almost entirely with the 82nd Airborne Division during the late 1970s….

McDonald, a retired corporate executive who took over the VA last June as the agency was sinking in scandal, made the claim in late January as he was touring a rundown Los Angeles neighborhood during a nationwide count of homeless veterans. He was accompanied by a CBS-TV news crew, which recorded an exchange between McDonald and a homeless man who told McDonald he had served in special forces.

“Special forces? What years? I was in special forces!” McDonald told the homeless man. That exchange was broadcast in a Jan. 30 CBS News story about the VA’s efforts to find and house homeless veterans.

In fact, McDonald never served in special forces. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1975, completed Army Ranger training and took courses in jungle, arctic and desert warfare. He qualified as a senior parachutist and airborne jumpmaster, and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division until he retired from military service in 1980. While he earned a Ranger tab designating him as a graduate of Ranger School, he never served in a Ranger battalion or any other special operations unit.

“I have no excuse,” McDonald told The Huffington Post, when contacted to explain his claim. “I was not in special forces.”

Today the story is at the top of Google News. There’s no way this guy is going to be able to continue in his job. Should we form a pool and guess how long it will take for him to “resign” in disgrace. Why do people do this? Spending five years in the 82 Airborne Division and graduating from Ranger School should have been enough. the Ranger training is what he must have been referring to in the video, but it doesn’t matter. He’s gone.

original

Here’s a fascinating piece about a fake story that went viral last week. I looked for local reports about this a couple of days ago and couldn’t find anything; so I figured the story couldn’t be true, since it was reported to have happened in Boston.

From Digg: Anatomy Of A Fake, Viral Story: The Priest Who Met A Female God In His Near-Death Experience.

On February 4 World News Daily Report published a story about a Massachusetts priest who made a miraculous medical recovery, and discovery:

A Catholic priest from Massachussetts [sic] was officially dead for more than 48 minutes before medics were able to miraculously re-start his heart. During that time, Father John Micheal O’neal claims he went to heaven and met God, which he describes as a warm and comforting motherly figure.

The story reported that Boston Archbishop Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley explained away O’Neal’s revelation as nothing more than “hallucinations linked to a near-death experience,” and added that “God clearly isn’t a female.”

This remarkable report of a Catholic priest claiming that the Holy Father is in fact a mother went unnoticed by other media until a newspaper in Uganda, the Daily Monitor, picked it up word-for-word. That set off a cascade of articles on other websites around the world, which together have racked up tens of thousands of shares and social interactions, primarily on Facebook.

The Daily Monitor’s motto is “Truth Everyday,” but in this case its plagiarism helped propagate a hoax. World News Daily Report looks and reads like a real news website, but everything it publishes is completely fake. It’s one of several fake news websites that pump out hoax content with the goal of generating shares and links that they can monetize with ads.

Many of these sites have legitimate sounding names, such as The Daily Currant or National Report. They not only monetize peoples’ gullibility, but also their hopes and fears, their political and religious beliefs.

Read much more about these fake news sites and how their stories go viral at the link.

* Finally, here’s a story that sounds fake, but it actually isn’t.  And it’s way more interesting to me than the DHS funding fight.

Coffee_1_The-Good-News

From the Washington Post’s Wonkblog: It’s official: Americans should drink more coffee.

When the nation’s top nutrition panel released its latest dietary recommendations on Thursday, the group did something it had never done before: weigh in on whether people should be drinking coffee. What it had to say is pretty surprising.

Not only can people stop worrying about whether drinking coffee is bad for them, according to the panel, they might even want to consider drinking a bit more.

The panel cited minimal health risks associated with drinking between three and five cups per day. It also said that consuming as many as five cups of coffee each day (400 mg) is tied to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

“We saw that coffee has a lot of health benefits,” said Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University and one of the committee’s members. “Specifically when you’re drinking more than a couple cups per day.”

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And from Bloomberg Business: Coffee’s Great, U.S. Panel Says in Official Diet Recommendations.

“Coffee’s good stuff,” Tom Brenna, a member of the committee and a nutritionist at Cornell University, said in a telephone interview. “I don’t want to get into implying coffee cures cancer — nobody thinks that,” he said. “But there is no evidence for increased risk, if anything, the other way around.”

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a nonpartisan panel of academics and scientists, gives suggestions to U.S. agencies including the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture. Subsequent government guidelines influence federal food programs and local issues such as school lunches. Previous guidelines have not addressed caffeine’s health effects….

Research since the advisory body last met in 2010 was critical to the decision on coffee, Brenna said. “There’s been a heck of a lot of work on coffee.”

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So . . . what stories are you following today? Let us know in the comment thread and have a great Tuesday!