Monday Reads: Blood Sport Edition

gop carElection Season continues to close in on us with a number of national policies under consideration and under fire.

It’s time to focus on issues.

Hillary Clinton has introduced her policy prescriptions for sensible gun regulation. They include repealing laws giving legal protection to gun manufacturers and dealers.  Gun manufacturers and gun retailers are the only industry given protection from every circumstance of negligence in product design, sales, and use.  Dealers can sell to anyone and not be held to account.  On-line dealers and gun show dealers bear no legal responsibility for selling to felons or the mentally ill.  Clinton’s position stands in direct conflict with Senator Bernie Sanders’ voting record. Sanders–an independent–is Clinton’s closet challenger in the Democratic Party presidential race. Martin O’Malley–a former Governor and Democrat–also embraces sensible gun control. Of course, the Republicans support a weapons free-for-all.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Monday detailed new proposalsaimed at closing gun sale loopholes and holding accountable those who sell guns for violence committed with those weapons.

Seizing the moment following last week’s mass shooting in Oregon, Clinton called for the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which gives legal protection to gun manufacturers and dealers whose guns are used for criminal activity.

As a senator from New York, Clinton voted against the law in 2005 and, the official said, would lead an effort to repeal it if elected president. Her closest competitor in the Democratic primary, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who served in the U.S. House at the time, voted in favor of it.

Clinton appeared viscerally frustrated as she spoke after Thursday’s shooting at Umpqua Community College, in which authorities say a student killed nine people before turning one of several guns he had with him on himself. “What is wrong with us, that we cannot stand up to the NRA and the gun lobby, and the gun manufacturers they represent?” Clinton said Friday at Broward College in Davie, Florida. “We don’t just need to pray for these people. We need to act.”

In staking out a hardline position on guns, Clinton is capitalizing on an issue where she stands to the left of Sanders. He has a mixed record on gun control—he voted against the Brady Bill in 1993 and for the liability protection law, but also in favor of restrictions on the size of gun magazines—that he attributes to the gun culture of his rural state. He responded to the shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, and in Oregon with promises to implement “sensible gun-control legislation” and to improve mental health services, but has not yet offered specific proposals.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who is trailing Clinton and Sanders in polls, on Sunday in New Hampshire called on his rivals to “join me in building a new consensus” on gun control by supporting his four-point plan, his campaign said.

Could Clinton staking out a position make Gun Control an actual issue in the 2016 presidential primary?  Greg Sargent of the Plum Line discusses the question.124586_600

Clinton’s new plan, which she will discuss on the campaign trail today, includes a raft of ideas: closing loopholes in the background check system; more aggressive action to revoke the licenses of gun dealers who knowingly supply so-called “straw purchasers”; and repealing a law that protects gun manufacturers from liability for gun violence.

But the most controversial aspect of Clinton’s plan is this: She vowed to take executive action to partly close the loophole that allows private sellers to peddle guns without a background check if Congress doesn’t.

Clinton’s campaign says that this could theoretically be accomplished via a new rule by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that would more clearly define what it means to be “engaged in the business” of selling firearms. Gun control advocates point out that under federal law, those “engaged in the business” of selling firearms must perform background checks, but federal regulations defining that phrase are too vague, allowing too many gun sales to proceed without such a check. Such federal regs, they say, could be changed through executive action that, for example, would set a clearer threshold defining “engaged in the business” of selling firearms in terms of the number of guns sold.

Arkadi Gerney, a gun policy expert at the Center for American Progress, tells me what Clinton’s new policy proposal means:

“The statute says that anyone engaged in the business of selling firearms must apply for a federal license. Like any other statute where it’s vague, there’s the potential to define it further. You could update the regulation and have a more clear threshold. You couldn’t say, we define ‘engaged in the business’ as anyone who sells a gun ever. But you could change the regulation to be more focused, more narrow, and less vague than it currently is, which makes it very hard to prosecute people who abuse the law and are selling tens and hundreds of guns as private sellers.

“One way you could do this would be to have a clear numerical threshold on the number of gun sales.”

But if Clinton could do this as president, couldn’t Obama do this by executive action right now? Gerney thinks the answer is Yes:

“Clinton’s idea of clarifying further what kind of gun sellers are engaging in business and need to get a license to sell guns is a smart one.  She’s right that the President can do more to define the current law on what level of gun-selling activity triggers the requirement to conduct background checks. And, by putting this idea forward it is something of an implicit challenge to the current administration to move forward along these lines.”

More on this later, but this raises new questions: Is Obama, who has been visibly frustrated by government inaction, thinking of undertaking such an executive action? Will Clinton’s public vow to undertake such action raise the pressure on the administration to do the same?

961a7ef0dc8b6e8f29d4573dd6cf953bIt seems another Columbine-style school massacre was in the planning stage in California.  How can we put an end to these things?

An investigation into a planned shooting at a Tuolumne County school led to the arrests of four male students, deputies said Saturday.

“They were going to come on campus and shoot and kill as many people as possible at the campus,” Tuolumne County Sheriff Jim Mele said.

Investigators with the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office said administrators at Summerville High School contacted them Wednesday about three students who were making threats against students and faculty.

The investigation included interviews with the students and several searches, and deputies said they were able to identify a fourth student who was also involved in the plan.

“The suspects’ plans was very detailed in nature, and included names of would-be victims, locations, methods in which the plan was to be carried out,” Mele said.

Mele said the students confessed to planning the mass shooting.

They were removed from campus Wednesday after other students at the school noticed suspicious activity and alerted administrators.

“Their willingness to get involved and report what they saw prevented what well could have been another needless tragedy,” Mele said.

Detectives plan to meet with the families of the children whose names were on the hit list to notify them. Among those listening at Saturday’s press conference were parents sick with worry.

Meanwhile, carly Fiorina appears to be challenging Sarah Palin for most stupid answer to a lack of foreign policy credentials.  Palin is well known for explaining that parts of Russia are close to Alaska which was later turned into the Tina Fey’s “I can see Russia from my front porch” lampoon.  Fiorina argues that her Medival History degree will help her contain ISIS.  I can see the political cartoons referencing The Crusades already.   Maybe her plans include holding Rennaisance Festivals in Syria.

For over three decades, Carly Fiorina’s bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in medieval history and philosophy has had little real-world application.

But as she mounts a presidential bid, the Republican candidate says her degree is finally of use as she considers how she would deal with ISIS as commander-in-chief.

“Finally my degree in medieval history and philosophy has come in handy,” Fiorina said Sunday night, “because what ISIS wants to do is drive us back to the Middle Ages, literally.”

Well, the Republican Party should know about policies that derive from the Dark Ages. That explains a lot of Fiorina’s management style at HP.

There is still speculation about a Biden candidacy.  It seems awfully late to get into the race, but the some members in the media seem to be dying for something resembling an internecine battle between CHsKHw0UwAAaJDYDemocrats.  Ed Kilgore haves some Tiger Beat on the Ptomac for breakfast.

It figures that the penultimate Biden’s Running!story comes from Mike “Win the Morning” Allen of Politico, who begins with the trumpet blare of a scoop:

He’s finally close. Confidants of Vice President Joe Biden expect him to make a decision next weekend, or shortly thereafter, on whether to launch an epic battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Several people who have visited Biden recently said he seems to be leaning “yes.”

“Nothing he has heard in the past couple of months has deterred him,” said one Democrat close to the process.

A former Senate colleague of Biden’s said, after visiting the vice president, “He loves what he does, and he has a great deal of confidence that he could contribute in a meaningful way. He’s willing to face, ultimately, having his final political expedition be a defeat.”

Ah, but then Allen starts hedging, and before you know it, the confident trumpets become the kazoo orchestra of mere rumors and guesswork:

One longtime friend said the long windup — and the fact that no staff has been hired — tells its own story.Huh. Didn’t I just read at CNN last week that campaign managers had been lined up for all the early states? Could it be that was just another assertion by the five or six Draft Biden blind quote machines who have been more or less making stuff up for months? But somebody didn’t get the memo:

“If you’re going to run, you run,” the friend said. “Every time he pushes back a decision, that’s the ultimate tell.”

A third recent Biden visitor said: “I can’t see how he can wake up one morning and think some big tidal wave sweeps him in. The raw politics just aren’t there.”

After describing their hunches, friends and advisers almost universally added that they remain unsure which way he’ll go.

But there will be a big announcement any day now, right?

Meanwhile, the real internecine battle is in the Republican House leadership race where right wing extremists are out winging each other.  Who votes for these people?  Oh, never mind.  Steve Scalise–164799_600representative for David Duke Land (aka Jefferson Parish)–is one of our neoconfederates.  Representative Scalies (KKK) says he has the votes to win majority leader.  

The Louisiana Republican held a conference call with backers Sunday evening during which he indicated he’s locked up support from more than half of the 247-member GOP conference. Closed-door voting for the majority leader post is expected on Thursday, though some Republicans are pushing to delay it until after a new Speaker is sworn in.

“I’ve been making calls all day. I haven’t stopped working, and I know you haven’t stopped working either,” Scalise said, according to a source on the call. “In this race, the winning number has always been 124. A couple of days ago, we actually hit that number and we’re continuing to add to it each day.”

Scalise, the current No. 2 Republican in leadership, is squaring off with Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) in the race for GOP leader, a post occupied by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is running for Speaker. Both Scalise and Price are red-state conservatives who previously have served as chairman of the Republican Study Committee.

Last week, several Republicans tried to draft Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) into the majority leader’s race, but he said he was focused on leading the House panel investigating the deadly 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Did I mention he likes to mention he’s “David Duke without the baggage?”
One of the major Congressional whackados is going for Speaker.  You had to know Jason Chaffetz of Utah was after something given his embarassing performance in the Planned Parenthood witch hunt.  Embarassing, non-reality based witch hunts are a Republican Leadership speciality these days.

The bid by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, comes amid unrest from conservatives driven by doubts that McCarthy (Calif.) will be any more inclined than Boehner to embrace the right flank of the House Republican Conference.

Chaffetz said on “Fox News Sunday” that he was “recruited” by members displeased with McCarthy’s ascent and that he would “bridge the divide” in the House GOP

“You don’t just give an automatic promotion to the existing leadership team,” he said. “That doesn’t signal change. I think [House Republicans] want a fresh face and fresh new person who is actually there at the leadership table in the speaker’s role.”

Chaffetz’s remarks not only reflect tensions between conservatives and establishment Republicans, but also concerns about McCarthy’s ability to communicate with the GOP base and the public at large. Those concerns grew after McCarthy made comments last week suggesting that a House investigation into the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound and a CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, stemmed from political motivations.

“We need somebody who’s out there who is actually going out there and making the case to the American people, talking to the Senate about what we need to do, and going on the national television shows and winning that argument,” Chaffetz said. “We don’t seem to win the argument, and that’s a problem.”

Some one needs to tell Mister Chaffetz that they don’t win the argument because the majority of people in the Senate do not think the Moon is made of Green Cheese because Satan!!!

The frontrunner is no peach either. Remember, this position is third in line to the President.

In spite of the rapid dumbing-down of the GOP (see also Mr. Trump), they continue to churn out more dummies.

Enter Kevin McCarthy. The Bakersfield, California Republican is the most likely conservative white-guy to ascend into John Boehner’s post as Speaker of the House. And he shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near Congress, much less a leadership post.

By now, we’re all aware of McCarthy’s admission that the congressional select committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks is almost exclusively designed to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations.

They say gaffes are merely the truths spoken out loud. This was certainly the case with McCarthy. By the way, we should underscore at this point how McCarthy isn’t just another ambitious member of Congress. He’s the House Majority Leader. So, yes, the House Majority Leader accidentally spilled the beans on one of the longest running scams in congressional history — one of the biggest wastes of taxpayer money since Ken Starr’s probe into President Clinton’s pants-parties.

That’s pretty bad. But McCarthy’s bad week didn’t end there.

Either McCarthy is incapable of reading, or he has the worst speech-writing staff in the history of American politics — and that includes Sarah Palin’s self-authored Patriotic Mad Libs. Three days after Boehner announced his resignation from Congress, McCarthy was propped up for a foreign policy speech before the John Hay Initiative. The ostensible goal was to burnish McCarthy’s political heft, but the exact opposite happened and, frankly, even the dumbest Republicans ought to be embarrassed to caucus with this idiot.

So, that’s my round up of what passes for politics in our country.  To me, the choice couldn’t be clearer.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Friday Reads

1bee80ac1bfdffef45df1a686a62cbecIt’s a great autumn weekend down here in New Orleans!  I hope your day and weather are splendid too!

There’s a lot of news up today but the first thing I want to cover is the clarification made by the Vatican on the Kentucky Bigot Brigrade and the supposed papal visit.  It looks like we have a case of extreme exaggeration or “telling a whopper” as we like to call it in my neck of the woods.

According to the Vatican, Pope Francis did not invite Kim Davis to meet him. There was no secret meeting, and the Pope had no idea who she was when he met her.

In a statement, the Vatican clarified that Pope Francis didn’t even know who Kim Davis was:

The brief meeting between Mrs. Kim Davis and Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC has continued to provoke comments and discussion. In order to contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired I am able to clarify the following points:

Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.

The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.

The Pope briefly met Kim Davis as part of a group, had no idea who she was, said hello to her, and moved on.

The Vatican’s version of events is the opposite of what Davis’s supporters are claiming happened. The anti-gay marriage crowd claimed that the Pope met with Davis in secret and expressed his support for her bigotry. The right has been using the imaginary meeting as an endorsement of their out of step views.

The extremist conservative movement’s attempt to use Pope Francis for propaganda purposes has fallen apart. Davis’s invitation had been extended by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the envoy in Washington. Viganò is well known to have gone further than others in the church in his campaign against gay marriage. The Pope did not invite Davis to meet him. In fact, according to the Vatican, Pope Francis had not been briefed on the situation and knew nothing about Davis.

The fact that the Vatican took such pains to distance themselves from Davis could logically be viewed as a rejection of her beliefs.

So, hopefully the Archbishop will be called to the Vatican woodshed and there will be a great big huge discussion on rending unto Caesargrid-cell-18637-1405708438-24 that which is Caesar’s.  Either way, the Kentucky Bigot Brigade appears to following the usual tradition of lying your way to to what you think gawd wants.

Yet another abortion advocate is the target of death threats from the “pro-life” set.  I’ve had all kinds of run ins with these folks over a period of about 30 years and it always ends in threats of violence.  Lies and violence are their trademarks.

A few weeks ago, writers Amelia Bonow and Lindy West began the hashtag campaign #ShoutYourAbortion to encourage the one in three women who have had an abortion to speak out about their experience instead of being shamed into silence. Then came the death threats.

Bonow told the New York Times that the idea behind the campaign wasn’t to glorify the procedure, but instead to destigmatize it during a time when people are so angry about the topic they’re setting Planned Parenthood clinics on fire.

“A shout is not a celebration or a value judgment, it’s the opposite of a whisper, of silence,” Bonow told the Times. “Even women who support abortion rights have been silent, and told they were supposed to feel bad about having an abortion.”

In a social-media world that’s this upsetting and dangerous, no wonder some celebrities hire Twitter surrogates.

Increased violence against Planned Parenthood Clinics is on the FBI’s radar and has come about as the result of the intense lying of Congressional Republicans and idiots like Republican Presidential Wannabe Fiorina. Nothing ever good comes from whipping up a bunch of religious fanatics.  Check the Middle East region if you need further proof.

As the national conversation on Planned Parenthood has become louder and more heated, politicians have warned that it could ignite acts of violence against clinics and neighborhood facilities.

Late Wednesday, for the second time in weeks, a Planned Parenthood center in Thousand Oaks came under attack, this time by an arsonist or arsonists who authorities believe smashed out a window, splashed gasoline inside the clinic and then ignited it.

Authorities say there’s no evidence the attack was related to the larger debate on Planned Parenthood, but said the West Hillcrest Drive facility was previously attacked by vandals six weeks ago.

No direct theats had been made to the facility or clinic workers before the fire, said Ventura County sheriff’s Capt. John Reilly.

A few plants near the window were blackened, but the small fire had been extinguished quickly because of a sprinkler system, Lohman said.

a57489e8e9b51705244f3519fadb76dbA fire in a Washington State Planned Parenthood that happened in early September was already ruled arson.  As previously mentioned, the FBI is warning local law enforcement of the possibility of increased domestic terrorist activites aimed at Planned Parenthood.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned of an increasing number of attacks on reproductive healthcare facilities. “It is likely criminal or suspicious incidents will continue to be directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff and facilities,” an FBI Intelligence Assessment reads,according to a CBS report Friday.

The finding comes after a July video from the pro-life Center for Medical Progress, which releasedsecretly taped footage of Planned Parenthood officials discussing how they use tissues from aborted fetuses for medical research.

Since then, federal investigators have reported nine criminal or suspicious incidents at reproductive health centers across the country, which included cyberattacks, threats and arson. The FBI believes the incidents were “consistent with the actions of lone offenders using tactics of arsons and threats all of which are typical of the pro-life extremist movement,” sources told CBS.

12277179b4bd15de4070b1c14c3f6d83So, this is in keeping with the latest mass shooting whose perpetrator is a self-confessed NAZI and “conservative Republican” who disliked “organized religion”.   Chris Harper Mercer is yet another example of a lone wolf, young white male shooter with mental illness issues. 

Mr. Mercer appeared to have sought community on the Internet. A picture of him holding a rifle appeared on a MySpace page with a post expressing a deep interest in the Irish Republican Army. It included footage from the conflict in Northern Ireland set to “The Men Behind the Wire,” an Irish republican song, and several pictures of gunmen in black balaclavas. Another picture showed the front page of An Phoblacht, the party newspaper of Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the I.R.A.

A picture of Mr. Mercer also appeared on a long-dormant dating website profile registered in Los Angeles. On it, he described himself as an “introvert” with a dislike for “organized religion.”

In the offline world, Mr. Mercer’s mother sought to protect him from all manner of neighborhood annoyances, former neighbors in Torrance said, from loud children and barking dogs to household pests. Once, neighbors said, she went door-to-door with a petition to get the landlord to exterminate cockroaches in her apartment, saying they bothered her son.

“She said, ‘My son is dealing with some mental issues, and the roaches are really irritating him,’ ” Julia Winstead, 55, said. “She said they were going to go stay in a motel. Until that time, I didn’t know she had a son.”

We’ve said this before, but American’s gun fetish is causing our country to look like some kind of throwback to the Stone Age.  Except, 06b00848ebc42841b77839ed82e51815stone axes can kill one person. Sophisticated guns kill millions of Americans.  Here’s “America’s fucking awful, truly unique gun violence problem,visualized” per Ezra Klein.

Whenever a mass shooting occurs, supporters of gun rights often argue that it’s inappropriate to bring up political debates about gun control in the aftermath of a tragedy. For example, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a strong supporter of gun rights, criticized President Barack Obama for “trying to score cheap political points” when the president mentioned gun control after a mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

But if this argument is followed to its logical end, then it will never be the right time to discuss mass shootings, as Christopher Ingraham pointed out at the Washington Post. Under the Mass Shooting Tracker’s definition of mass shootings, America has nearly one mass shooting a day. So if lawmakers are forced to wait for a time when there isn’t a mass shooting to talk gun control, they could find themselves waiting for a very long time.

We’ll undoubtedly see more stories blaming mental illness.  But is it the real issue in these domestic terrorist situation?  Read this great rant by Arthur Chu on Salon.

I get really really tired of hearing the phrase “mental illness” thrown around as a way to avoid saying other terms like “toxic masculinity,” “white supremacy,” “misogyny” or “racism.”

We barely know anything about the suspect in the Charleston, South Carolina, atrocity. We certainly don’t have testimony from a mental health professional responsible for his care that he suffered from any specific mental illness, or that he suffered from a mental illness at all.
We do have statistics showing that the vast majority of people who commit acts of violence do not have a diagnosis of mental illness and, conversely, people who have mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators.

We know that the stigma of people who suffer from mental illness as scary, dangerous potential murderers hurts people every single day — it costs people relationships and jobs, it scares people away from seeking help who need it, it brings shame and fear down on the heads of people who already have it bad enough.

But the media insists on trotting out “mental illness” and blaring out that phrase nonstop in the wake of any mass killing. I had to grit my teeth every time I personally debated someone defaulting to the mindless mantra of “The real issue is mental illness” over the Isla Vista shootings.

“The real issue is mental illness” is a goddamn cop-out. I almost never hear it from actual mental health professionals, or advocates working in the mental health sphere, or anyone who actually has any kind of informed opinion on mental health or serious policy proposals for how to improve our treatment of the mentally ill in this country.

There are so many ways to see how our country is marching backwards from modernity that it sometimes makes my head 18536e6732f186631f4e82093ab9a17dhurt badly.  This is Hillary on Alabama’s attempt to remove DMVs and access to picture IDS in their counties that are majority black. Alabama is trying to reinstate Jim Crow just as every Republican in Congress wants us back to the days before Birth Control and Abortion was legal and acessible.  

Hillary Clinton slammed the closure of 31 driver’s license offices in Alabama — many in majority-black counties — as “a blast from the Jim Crow past.”

The closures, announced this week, hit majority-black counties especially hard. Under Alabama’s new tougher version of its voter ID law, voters must have a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, to vote. Every Alabama county with at least 75 percent African American registered voters will lose its DMV office, according to local reports.

“This is only going to make it harder for people to vote,” Clinton said in a statement Friday. “It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past.”

Clinton has made voting rights a major platform of her presidential campaign. Alabama has defended the DMV closures, saying that there are other options for residents to obtain an ID that will enable them to vote.

Read Clinton’s full statement below:

“I strongly oppose Alabama’s decision to close driver’s license offices across the state, especially in counties that have a significant majority of African Americans. Just a few years ago, Alabama passed a law requiring citizens to have a photo ID to vote. Now they’re shutting down places where people get those photo IDs. This is only going to make it harder for people to vote. It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past.

“We’re better than this. We should be encouraging more Americans to vote, not making voting harder. As President, I’ll push for automatic voter registration for every American when they turn 18, and a new national standard of at least 20 days of early in-person voting in every state. And I’ll work with Congress to restore key protections of the Voting Rights Act.

“African Americans fought for the right to vote in the face of unthinkable hatred. They stood up and were beaten down, marched and were turned back. Some were even killed. But in the end, the forces of justice overcame. Alabama should do the right thing. It should reverse this decision. And it should start protecting the franchise for every single voter, no matter the color of their skin.”

It may be time to take to the streets again.

The cell phones in the pockets of the dead students were still ringing when we were told that it was wrong to ask why. As the police cleared the bodies from the Virginia Tech engineering building, the cell phones rang, in the eccentric varieties of ring tones, as parents kept trying to see if their children were OK. To imagine the feelings of the police as they carried the bodies and heard the ringing is heartrending; to imagine the feelings of the parents who were calling — dread, desperate hope for a sudden answer and the bliss of reassurance, dawning grief — is unbearable. But the parents, and the rest of us, were told that it was not the right moment to ask how the shooting had happened — specifically, why an obviously disturbed student, with a history of mental illness, was able to buy guns whose essential purpose is to kill people — and why it happens over and over again in America. At a press conference, Virginia’s governor, Tim Kaine, said, “People who want to … make it their political hobby horse to ride, I’ve got nothing but loathing for them. … At this point, what it’s about is comforting family members … and helping this community heal. And so to those who want to try to make this into some little crusade, I say take that elsewhere.”

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Late Sunday Reads

16195811-standardGood Afternoon!

Sorry this is so late.  JJ’s mother-in-law passed so she will be taking the week off.  It’s my turn today to fill those big shoes!  However, my A/C went out yesterday afternoon late. I thought it was only struggling to keep up with the heat when I left for a cocktail hour gig.  When I got home from that gig last night, I opened the door on a very hot home and three very miserable animals. It was obvious that the A/C wasn’t just struggling.  It was pretty dead.  I spent the night trying to get to sleep and only did so at about 4am with the help of Benadryl. Fortunately, I got some relief at 8 am when the owner of the local repair shop got to me and fixed it quickly! I was lucky to meet Julian Marin at my local watering hole awhile back because he ended our suffering here at the KatHouse. I went back to sleep and didn’t get up until around 2 my time.  Fortunately, it’s a bad capacitor that’s still under warranty.  It turned out to be a quick fix.

So, I’m not letting this mass shooting in Lafayette go for awhile.  Several things stand out to me.  First, the killer was a rabid misogynist who went on Talk Radio shows screaming about the Biblical roles of women. It shouldn’t be lost on any one that he chose an Amy Schumer movie which was going to have a larger than normal number of women in attendance and that a solid majority of his victims–including the dead ones—were women.  Second, there are mass shootings in New Orleans all the time.  Gun Violence is a near every day occurrence here and many victims are innocent children playing in the street and elderly people sitting on porches.  Where is the national news media on those instances?  Third, Louisiana’s gun laws are among the loosest in the country and our deaths attributable to guns are the second highest.  Our governor is eager to show the NRA and the state his gun fetish.  His policies of disabling whatever few gun laws the state had are exactly why these kinds of problems happen.  He can pray to his imaginary friend as much as he wants and focus on the victims.  But, he needs to realize that the blood of every gun victim in this state–since he’s started disabling the few reasonable restrictions that we’ve had–is on his hands.  If he and others only say “no one could imagine” then he and those others join the ranks of the deliberately avoiding the obvious club.

A governor issuing a call for prayers in the wake of a fatal mass shooting is almost boilerplate by now, but what good does it truly do? Prayers will not pull the bullets out of those people, nor repair their flesh. The frequency of these terrible events has somehow numbed us, and the lack of political courage on the right (and at times, on the left) to do anything to stem the flow of guns into our country is staggering. But can it help, somehow?

“Prayer in these moments serve two basic functions in my opinion: one as a sincere attempt at showing sorrow and hoped for comfort for the deceased, and second, as a hope the violence will stop,” Butler told me. “However, these prayers, while sincere, tend to be diffuse, non focused, and often are not prayers that are about the root cause of the situations: usually people’s actions, changes in gun laws, or repentance—sorrow for being a part of a culture that promotes the violence. Personally, I think it is more about soothing of those who have lost loved ones, and a way to forget the real issues at hand that need to be addressed.”

Jindal is asking us to comfort ourselves in this moment, which sounds right. There he was in Lafayette on Thursday night, recommending prayer as the first recourse and saying,“We never imagined it would happen in Louisiana,” and expecting to be taken seriously. Having now suspended his presidential campaign, he’s going back to being just the governor of the state with perhaps the nation’s weakest gun laws and definitely its worst gun violence. Jindal uses guns as campaign props, frequently touting his hunting acumen, A+ grade from the NRA, and enthusiasm for firearms in speeches, interviews, and in his Twitter feed. “In Louisiana and all across America,” Jindal told the CPAC audience in 2012, “we love us some guns and religion.”

Both came into play on Thursday night in Lafayette. But comforting people after mass shootings, by definition, makes them comfortable after mass shootings. Praying may make you feel better in the moment, but Jindal is essentially asking that citizens do nothing to solve the actual problem of gun violence. People can talk to God if they want, but someone had better be calling Wayne LaPierre at the National Rifle Association. A few members of Congress, too.

As Slate writer Jamelle Bouie noted Thursday night on Twitter, we live in a country willing to accept dozens of murdered children—in a tony Connecticut suburb, no less. Also, we seem to be able to swallow a child and five others being killed in an assassination attempt on a sitting member of Congress, Gabrielle Giffords. Urgency on this issue seems to be out of style, but I’d think that perhaps even out of sheer boredom, this nation would not simply shrug its collective shoulders in grief and resignation for nearly a hundred times in the last several years, and join those actually trying to make our national gun policies make sense. In the absence of any faith that can be done, it will take work.

The words “well-regulated militia” are always the ignored parts of the second amendment when you’re around the gun nuts.  Their answer to gun violence is always more guns.  Let me ask you something, if you sawguns mental illness a child throwing rocks at other children in a playground would you give those other children rocks and expect the problem to be solved? And, what would you think about arming every one in a dark crowded theater then calling for a virtual shoot out at the OK Corral? Certainly, responsible gun owners know that kind of environment is not likely to produce a positive outcome.  However, white male apologists like Rick Perry always blame mental illness and are blaming “gun free zones”.  It’s never about the issues of right wing extremists and their racist, misogynist, radical christianist screeds. It’s always about mental illness and not enough guns.

Rick Perry said in an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana, earlier this week shows why gun-free zones are “a bad idea” and said he believes people should be able to take their firearms to the movies.

“I think that it makes a lot of sense to send a message across this country,” Perry said when asked by host Jake Tapper if the former governor believed a way to prevent such violence would be to allow moviegoers to take guns inside. “If we believe in the Second Amendment, and we believe in people’s right to protect themselves and defend themselves, and their families.”

John Russell “Rusty” Houser on Thursday shot 11 people, killing two, in a theater using a handgun he legally purchased from a pawn shop, authorities have said. Houser, who authorities say had a history of legal and mental problems, then turned the gun on himself.

“I will suggest to you that these concepts of gun-free zones are a bad idea,” Perry said. “I think that you allow the citizens of this country, who have appropriately trained, appropriately backgrounded, know how to handle and use firearms, to carry them. I believe that, with all my heart, that if you have the citizens who are well trained, and particularly in these places that are considered to be gun-free zones, that we can stop that type of activity, or stop it before there’s as many people that are impacted as what we saw in Lafayette.”.

Perry said shootings in gun-free zones like movie theaters and churches — such as the one in Charleston, South Carolina, the scene of a racially-motivated bloodbath that killed nine last month — happen because of a failure to enforce existing gun laws. He said current laws should have prevented Houser from obtaining his gun.

“I think we have the laws in place. Enforcement of those laws is what seems to be lacking, both in Charleston and here in Lafayette, Louisiana,” he said. “We see individuals who are obviously mentally impacted. These are individuals who I think that somewhere, somebody didn’t do their job in the standpoint of enforcing the laws” that are already on the books.

Governors like Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry aren’t about enforcing laws already on the books. They are about eliminating them and installing some Hollywood version of the Wild West in every state in this country. Blogger Julian Drury discusses the steps Jindal’s taken to appease the NRA and to remove any sensible gun regulation.  Remember, even the constitution uses the worlds “well-regulated”.

Why does New Orleans have so much gun violence? Yes, many nuances and history of gangs and crime are to be taken into account. City crime is always complex to certain degrees. Yet, one of the major contributing factors in Louisiana is the fact that the availability of guns is much higher than in states like New York, Illinois, and California.

Louisiana has one of the most lax gun laws in the country. Gun sales are hardly regulated properly. You can buy a gun at a pawn shop quickly, provided you are 21 years old and have a Louisiana state ID. If that doesn’t work, well there are the gun shows that Louisiana has held.

The gun show loophole is problematic, and allows anyone to buy military grade firearms without proper background checks. As long as the cash is in hand, many retailers at these gun shows will sell guns if the buyer has proper ID or not.

Now who would show up to a gun show with thousands of dollars in cash, and not want a background check? Hmmm? Criminals, perhaps?

Then factor in Bobby “Louisiana Loves Guns” Jindal, governor of the state, who seems to sit deep in the NRA’s pocket. Under his terms in office, Jindal has regularly weakened gun safety regulations, and often appears at gun stores during his campaigning, to have pictures of himself with whatever the shop’s biggest rifle is.

bobby_jindal_gun_ap_imgIn 2013, Bobby Jindal signed six gun laws.   Most of these laws made it easier for criminals and mentally ill people to obtain laws.  He should’ve known he was setting the state up for more mass shootings but as usual, he’s more concerned about things that would contribute to his presidential ambitions.  He did sign bills into laws to increase the ability of state and federal agencies to share information on people who should not have access to guns.  However, the gun show loop hole alone means that nothing will ever be done with that information. The Lafayette shooter is perhaps a textbook example of some one that should not have access to guns, yet he legally acquired one.

The most discussed piece of legislation in the batch signed Wednesday was House Bill 8by state Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Bossier City. The new law will enforce penalties on the intentional publication of the personal information of concealed handgun permit holders.

Citizens face penalties of up to six months in jail and $10,000 for those who “intentionally disseminate for publication” the personal information, such as names and addresses, of permit holders. Law enforcement or public safety employees who share such information will face up to six months in jail and a fine of $500.

Thompson, who helped found the pro-gun group Defend Louisiana this year, said the legislation was introduced largely as a reaction to the publication of New York gun permit holders’ names and addresses by The Journal News last year. He said permit holders’ lives and property were put at risk by the release and he wants to ensure such publication will be penalized in Louisiana.

“It is a great day in Louisiana and across this nation for those of us who refuse to give an inch when it comes to defending our right to protect our families and we will stand strong in the defense of the Second Amendment,” Thompson said Wednesday.

“Responsible, law-abiding citizens should not be villainized simply because they are concealed carry permit holders,” he added.

The bill received significant push-back from journalists, including Baton Rouge Advocate Executive Editor Carl Redman and Louisiana Press Association Executive Director Pamela Mitchell. Penalties will not be imposed if the permit holder had approved the information release or if it was already in the public domain. Publication would be allowable if the permit holder committed a felony involving a gun or if the information is subject to a court order.

jindal gun shopBobby Jindal says “Lousiana Loves us some guns”.  That’s not exactly obvious to any of us that live in a city where gun violence costs many lives every day.

“We love us some guns,” Bobby Jindal once said of his fellow Louisianans. Two of them were killed, and nine others wounded, on Thursday night when a man walked into a movie theater in Lafayette, sat for a while, and then fired more than a dozen rounds from a .40 caliber handgun.
“We never imagined it would happen in Louisiana,” Jindal said afterward, though the state has the second-highest rate of gun deaths in the country, more than twice the national average. Louisiana also has some of the laxest firearm regulations, for which Jindal bears much responsibility. During his eight years as governor he’s signed at least a dozen gun-related bills, most intended to weaken gun-safety regulation or expand access to firearms. One allowed people to take their guns to church; another, into restaurants that serve alcohol. He broadened Louisiana’s Stand Your Ground law, and made it a crime to publish the names of people with concealed carry permits. At the same time Jindal has pushed for cuts to mental health services.

Jindal treats guns not as weapons but political props. On the presidential campaign trail he’s posed repeatedly for photos cradling a firearm in his arms. “My kind of campaign stop,” he tweeted earlier this month from an armory in Iowa. After the Charleston massacre, he called President Obama’s mild comments about gun violence “completely shameful.” The correct response then, according to Jindal, was “hugging these families,” and “praying for these families.”

So, today on MSNBC, imagine my shock and surprise when I heard that Jindal said the Layfette shooter should’ve been denied access to guns.

The gunman who opened fire in a Louisiana movie theater should not have been allowed to legally buy the gun he used to kill two people and injure nine because of his mental history, Gov. Bobby Jindal said Sunday.

Shooter John Houser “should have never been able to buy that gun,” Jindal told NBC News. “That should have never been able to happen.”

Houser had been involuntarily hospitalized for mental conditions in Georgia and denied a concealed weapons permit in Alabama in 2006 because of a domestic violence complaint and a previous arrest connected to an arson plot.

Jim Cavanaugh, a retired Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent and now NBC News security analyst, said those red flags should have kept Houser from buying a gun in any state.

“If he’s adjudicated as a danger to himself or others, or not able to handle his affairs due to his mental capacity, he is also barred from having a firearm,” Cavanaugh said.

Still, Houser was able to legally buy a Hi-Point .40-caliber handgun in Alabama in 2014. And that is the gun he used to fire more than a dozen shots into a Thursday night movie audience of about 25 people before killing himself, officials said.

It is unclear whether officials in Georgia filed records about Houser’s involuntary hospitalization, which would have been funneled to the FBI’s database and therefore surfaced during a background check in any state, according to The Associated Press.

“Obviously somebody with this kind of history should have never been able to buy a gun,” Jindal said, noting that Louisiana laws would have prevented Houser from legally buying a gun.

In order to acquire a concealed handgun license in Louisiana, an applicant must “not suffer from a mental or physical infirmity due to disease,” according to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections. But private owners and gun show sellers aren’t required to perform background checks to determine the mental health and arrest history of prospective gun buyers.

In the immediate wake of the shooting, Jindal, who is running for president and is generally known as pro-gun (the NRA last gave him an “A+” rating), declined to speak on gun policy, saying he wanted to give Lafayette a chance to grieve.

Authorities have yet to determine a motive for why Houser chose to attack people at the showing of “Trainwreck,” why he chose to target Lafayette and why he picked a Thursday evening.

So, let me address the mainstream media and police confusion about Houser’s “choices” of victim.  These are the same groups of people that rarely address the daily violence against and murder of women by the rick perry gunmen in their lives.  This is from a blog that tracks and monitors male misogyny called “We Hunted the Mammoth”.  The author is David Futrelle.

Police in Lafayette, Louisiana are evidently struggling to understand why the outspokenly misogynistic, racist and anti-Semitic John Russell “Rusty” Houser murdered two women and wounded 9 other moviegoers at a showing of “Trainwreck,” a film written by and starring Amy Schumer, a feminist comedian with a Jewish father, known for joking frankly about sex.

[For more, see my latest post on Houser: “Did right-wing attacks on “Trainwreck” inspire John Russell Houser’s shooting rampage?”]

Col. Michael D. Edmonson, superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, wondered aloud about Houser’s motives at a press conference: 

Why did he come here? Why did he do that? … We may not find a motive.

It seems to me that Houser’s likely motive is staring them in the face.

Because it turns out that Houser was pretty well-known, at least to regular viewers of one local TV talk show in Columbus, GA, as an angry right-wing fanatic who hated women. As one former host of the show recalled,

He was anti-abortion. … Rusty had an issue with feminine rights. He was opposed to women having a say in anything.

Houser evidently appeared on the live show dozens of times as a “gadfly” whose appearances “would generate calls.”

When Houser’s career as a loudmouthed crank on local TV apparently came to an end years ago, he moved to another medium, leaving a long trail of hateful comments on assorted websites, many of them openly praising Hitler and talking ominously about the future of what he saw as a deeply “immoral” culture.

Yes. “Men Kill Women in the U.S. So Often that It’s Usually Not Even Newsworthy.”

When news emerged that a middle-aged white man in Lafayette, Louisiana opened fire at a showing of the Amy Schumer vehicle Trainwreck, I immediately had this sinking feeling that the movie choice wasn’t a coincidence—that this was, like theElliot Rodger and George Sodini killings, an act of rage at women. While Trainwreck is a fluffy rom-com, it’s also a popular topic of chatter in the feminist-sphere, and therefore likely to be noticed by the seething misogynists who monitor the online activities of feminists with unsettling obsessiveness.

That fear is now moving from the uneasy-feeling column to the likely-possibility column, with Dave Weigel of the Washington Post reporting that alleged shooter John Russell Houser was a rabid right-winger—he even went to one of those unranked conservative Christian law schools—who had particularly strong anger towards women for their growing independence and rights. Former talk show host Calvin Floyd had Houser on as a frequent guest, knowing that his off-the-wall opinions would generate audience interest: “The best I can recall, Rusty had an issue with feminine rights,” Floyd said. “He was opposed to women having a say in anything.” Houser also had a history of domestic violence.

It would be nice, as Jessica Winter argued in Slate after the Charleston shooting, if this country could have a grown-up conversation about gun control in the wake of crimes like this. Instead, we’re just going to hear a bunch of ridiculous rhetoric about how more guns will fix this problem, as if Lafayette isn’t one of those parts of the country where every and their poodle is packing heat. But since that’s not happening, maybe we can talk about the continuing role that misogyny plays in the relentless drumbeat of gun violence in this country.

My colleague Ben Mathis-Lilley noted today at Slatest, there were 14 other gun-based murder-suicides in the past week in this country, resulting in the loss of 36 lives. If you look down the list of the killings, an unmistakeable pattern pops out: “shot and killed his 37-year-old wife… shot and killed his ex-wife… shot and killed his 62-year-old wife… shot and killed his 23-year-old girlfriend…” and so on. Most of these killings involve men killing women that they were in a relationship with, had lost a relationship with, or likely wanted a relationship with, but were rejected. This last week also featured a bizarre story of a woman who not only survived beingkidnapped and raped by a man but also saw her boyfriend and a random other man killed in the rapist-murderer’s rampage.

So much of this stuff seem clear to us and it escape our policymakers, the police, and the media who are co-conspirators in the gun deaths that impact so many women and racial minorities on a daily basis.  I can only shake my head at the amazing lack of self evaluation by those basking in the glow of  white male christianist privilege.

The Advocate says Jindal has wound up in a “controversial spotlight”.  Well, it’s about time some one write about this.

The day after the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, that killed nine people in a church June 17, Jindal said it was not the time to discuss gun control but rather an occasion for prayer and hugs.

Jindal officially announced his entry in the campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination a week later, but he was regarded as a candidate for months before then — and it was in that light that he was asked to respond to President Barack Obama’s suggestion that the Charleston tragedy fit a distinctly American pattern of firearms violence that should be addressed.

Jindal characterized Obama’s comment as a “completely shameful” attempt to “score cheap political points.”

In the hours after the Lafayette shooting, in which a gunman fatally shot two women and wounded nine others before taking his own life, Jindal again said prayers and hugs made for the appropriate response.

“There’ll be a time; I’m sure folks will want to jump into the politics of this,” he said. “Now is not the time.”

That didn’t prevent gun control advocates from landing on Jindal with both feet. The New Republic accused Jindal of enabling gun violence in Louisiana — a state with one of the highest rates of firearms violence and least-restrictive gun regulations — citing his enthusiastic pro-gun record and support for legislation that permits guns in churches and creates lifetime concealed-carry permits. In the Daily Mail, commentator Piers Morgan was particularly vehement, saying the blood of the victims was on Jindal’s hands.

But such attacks are unlikely to faze Jindal, said Bernie Pinsonat, a veteran Louisiana political pollster.

“That’s like throwing him into the briar patch,” Pinsonat said. “Democrats or anyone else who is anti-gun, they’re not voting for Jindal anyway.”

Like some one on Twitter said, once you allow a mass murderer to come in and gun down innocent children and you can still do nothing as a policymaker but talk about more guns and prayers, you’ve pretty much lost the battle to the gun industry.  You’ve also conceded to the moral high ground to greed and political ambition.

What’s on you reading and blogging list today?

Friday Reads: Here We Go Again …

stop-gun-violenceA movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana became the latest mass shooting site last night.  The shooter was a 58 year old man whose identity is known but has not been released. He plus two of his victims are dead.  There are more folks in surgery and in critical condition that will hopefully survive.  The police were on the scene rather quickly because one of the victims–a teacher–pulled the fire alarm.  The state is in shock and the Governor lost no time making political hay on site.

Three people, including the shooter, are now dead after a shooting at the Grand Theater on Johnston Street.

Brooks David of Louisiana State Police says the shooter was a 58-year-old male white male.

Lafayette Police Chief Robert Craft tells KLFY that the shooter died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The shooting happened during a showing of the movie ‘Trainwreck”

Photo Gallery:  Grand Theater Shooting Scene

Photo Gallery: Grand Theater Shooting Scene

Nine people were injured in the shooting. Three of the victims are being at treated at Lafayette General Hospital, three are being treated at Lourdes Hospital, and two are being treated at Acadiana General Hospital.

Investigators say the shooting appears to be random. The shooting happened around 7:30 p.m. at the Grand Theater on Johnston Street.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is currently visiting victims and families at Lafayette General.

Here are some of the details. 

» Gov. Bobby Jindal visited with a pair of teachers who were in the theater when the shooting started. One teacher was shot as she threw herself upon the other. She then pulled the fire alarm.

The injured teachers have been identified as Jena Meaux and Ali Martin from Iberia Parish, via a Go Fund Me page set up by educators’ groups.

» Col. Mike Edmonson, Louisiana State Police, said late Thursday that investigators would work in the theater throughout the night collecting evidence.

He said some bodies remained inside the theater, as did items of interest that police dogs had “hit on.” They included a backpack.

He said although the suspected shooter was dead, investigators still needed to process the scene to determine what happened.

The investigation would include a review of the shooter’s background and his family history, he said.

» Former Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Brown told The Daily Advertiser The Grand Theatre is part of Southern Theatres. The company is headed by his brother-in-law, George Solomon of New Orleans, who was on his way to the scene Thursday night.
Brown, who was on the scene of the theater, said it would be closed for the indefinite future.
“He’s devastated, obviously,” Brown said.

» At 10:33, KATC reported that police were investigating a bomb threat at Greenbriar Condos on Doucet Road, across the street from the theater. The threat caused media to be pushed back from the area. Haz-Mat crews were responding.

» Unconfirmed reports indicated that Aries Marine CEO Bo Ramsay and his wife Gerri were among the wounded. Bo Ramsay was reportedly shot in the leg, and his wife grazed by a bullet. Neither injury was considered life-threatening.

This comes as the same day President Obama admitted in a BBC interview that American Gun Laws were his biggest frustration.  The President will once more be in the position of calming the families of victims of a mass shooting.

President Barack Obama has admitted that his failure to pass “common sense gun safety laws” in the US is the greatest frustration of his presidency.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Obama said it was “distressing” not to have made progress on the issue “even in the face of repeated mass killings”.

He vowed to keep trying, but the BBC’s North America editor Jon Sopel said the president did not sound very confident.

However, Mr Obama said race relations had improved during his presidency.

Hours after the interview, a gunman opened fire at a cinema in the US state of Louisiana, killing two people and injuring several others before shooting himself.

In a wide-ranging interview, President Obama also said:

  • The UK must stay in the EU to have influence on the world stage
  • He is confident the Iran nuclear deal will be passed by Congress
  • Syria needs a political solution in order to defeat the Islamic State group
  • He would speak “bluntly” against corruption and human rights violations in Kenya
  • He would defend his advocacy of gay rights following protests in Kenya
  • Despite racial tensions, the US is becoming more diverse and more tolerant

Mr Obama lands in Kenya later on Friday for his first visit since becoming president.

But with just 18 months left in power, he said gun control was the area where he has been “most frustrated and most stymied” since coming to power in 2009.

“If you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it’s less than 100. If you look at the number that have been killed by gun violence, it’s in the tens of thousands,” Mr Obama said.

You can read the full transcript of the President’s Interview here.   The President expressed frustration at race relations and guns in our Obama

OBAMA: There will be. Look there was never a promise that race relations in America would be entirely resolved during my presidency or anybody’s presidency. I mean, this has been a running thread – and – and fault line in American life and American politics since its founding.

And so some of the most recent concerns around policing and mass incarcerations are legitimate and deserve intense attention. And I feel that we are moving the ball forward on those issues. What I will say is that – eight years – well, after eight years of my presidency, that children growing up during these eight years will have a different view of race relations in this country and what’s possible.

Black children, white children, Latino children. America is becoming more diverse, it’s becoming more tolerant as a consequence there’s more interactions between groups. There are going be tensions that arise. But if you look at my daughters’ generation, they have an attitude about race that’s entirely different than even my generation.

And that’s all for the good. You mentioned the issue of guns, that is an area where if you ask me where has been the one area where I feel that I’ve been most frustrated and most stymied it is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense, gun-safety laws. Even in the face of repeated mass killings.

And you know, if you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it’s less than 100. If you look at the number that have been killed by gun violence, it’s in the tens of thousands. And for us not to be able to resolve that issue has been something that is distressing. But it is not something that I intend to stop working on in the remaining 18 months.

Anyone reading headlines these days know these are major problems.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

UPDATE:  Here’s a profile of the shooter who pretty much fits the perfect description of a home grown terrorist but of course, we’re getting the mental health issues angle.

Houser is also known as Rusty Houser, and apparently has a presence on social media as an outspoken conservative.

The last thing someone posting as Rusty Houser posted on Facebook was in 2013, when he linked to an article called “A woman’s place in the church and the weak church elder.”

He wrote, “The bible doesn’t ask me to like what it says, only to obey it. Death comes soon to the financially failing filth farm called the US.”

He only had two things liked on Facebook, among them “I hate liberals!”

Police called Houser a drifter and said he had only been in Lafayette since early July.

A man identified as John Russell Houser on Twitter tweeted only twice. He wrote, “If you don’t think the internet is censored, try reading a newspaper from a country that hates liberals the way I do,” in June 2013.

A little earlier, he wrote, “The Westboro Baptist Church may be the last real church in America members not brainwashed.”

A man identified as Rusty Houser also posted on the website  His last post, dated March 27, 2013, refers to the state of the American and world economies and says, “It is true that the US is about to fall. I will be in fear at that time as will everyone else, but not in a fear which resembles that of the leaders of foolishness and the brainwashed that follow.Truth carries with it an understanding of death. Rather than live without it,I will take death.” [sic]

According to his LinkedIn profile, Houser claimed that he was an entrepreneur.  The profile claims he owned and operated two bars and was a real estate developer.  However, his last listed job is in 2006.

In addition, a John Russell Houser from Phenix City, Alabama, is listed as a member of a group called the Tea Party Nation.  However, KATC could not confirm if this John Russell Houser is one in the same with the shooter.

Sunday Reads: Is a change ever gonna come?

8227547625c9ff3ded3e33b7d71095fcA Change Is Gonna Come

I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I’ve been running ev’r since
It’s been a long time, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die
‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there, beyond the sky
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep tellin’ me don’t hang around
It’s been a long, a long time coming37a9cacb762dbab7a2648de7d1518fd1
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knockin’ me
Back down on my knees, oh

There have been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will

Read more: Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come Lyrics | MetroLyrics

c9a24aed88abcbf0cedab38f28438f20When Sam Cooke wrote that song back in late 1963- early 1964,

“A Change Is Gonna Come” was partially inspired by an incident in which Cooke and his band tried to register at a “whites only” motel in Shreveport, Louisiana. On October 8, 1963, Cooke called ahead to the Holiday Inn North to make reservations for his wife, Barbara and himself, but when he and his group arrived, the desk clerk glanced nervously and explained there were no vacancies.[1] While his brother Charles protested, Sam was fuming, yelling to see the manager and refusing to leave until he received an answer. His wife nudged him, attempting to calm him down, telling him, “They’ll kill you,” to which he responded, “They ain’t gonna kill me, because I’m Sam Cooke.”[1] When they eventually persuaded Cooke to leave, the group drove away calling out insults and blaring their horns. When they arrived at the Castle Motel on Sprague Street downtown, the police were waiting for them, arresting them for disturbing the peace.[1]

01ae899dfdf6cfe0081a647323c59805I wonder, if Cooke could have ever imagined that some 51 years later we would have a Governor of color…being the brown skin of a Hindu raised Indian, however he is now (as BB puts it,) the whitewashed Governor of the  “Southern” state of Louisiana.

Yes, the very state where the Holiday Inn incident occurred that inspired this Anthem of the Civil Rights, which Cooke eventually recorded on January 30th, 1964….this Governor would compare in not so veiled words… black neighborhoods to the no-go-zone Muslim IS/ISIS laden, filled, burdened, overrun,  (whatever the paranoid idiot right wing nuts want to call it) neighborhoods that are…according to Jindal, threatening our very existence.

From CNN on January 21 of this year: Bobby Jindal slams ‘no-go zones,’ pushes ‘assimilation.’

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday stood by his criticism of so-called “no-go” zones in Europe, where sovereign nations allegedly cede authority to Muslim immigrants, a controversial idea that many critics say is overblown.

And the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate decried what he called immigrants’ insistence on “non-assimilation, the fact that “you’ve got people who want to come to our country but not adopt our values,” which he called “dangerous.”

939bba26f208b10aa5b8b519698e11d7Interestingly, Jindal’s parents are immigrants from India, and he was raised in the Hindu religion.

But pressed for specific examples of such no-go zones, Jindal demurred, saying he had met with “elected officials and others” to discuss them and noted a report in UK tabloid the Daily Mailthat purported to highlight the challenges facing law enforcement in such areas.

“I knew by speaking the truth we were gonna make people upset,” Jindal told Blitzer.

Jindal was also unable to offer examples during an earlier interview with CNN’s Max Foster, saying that he’s “heard from folks here that there are neighborhoods where women don’t feel comfortable going in without veils … We all know that there are neighborhoods where police are less likely to go into.”

“I think that the radical Left absolutely wants to pretend like this problem is not here. Pretending it’s not here won’t make it go away,” he told Foster.

Pressed for details, Jindal said only, “I think your viewers know absolutely there are places where the police are less likely to go.”

Hmmmm. . . that sounds to me like not-so-subtle race baiting from the whitewashed Louisiana Governor.


0032d5780376c6357875f763f96b3cdaWhen I read about this yesterday from Boston Boomer’s and Dakinikat‘s post on Friday I had to pause a moment…because I was waiting for the ba-dum-dum of the drum punch line to beat out the cue to laugh.

Now I have been sick beyond all I could say, so things are a little cloudy to say the least, but a few things are clear.

I grew up in one of these supposed “places where the police are less likely to go”  that Jindal is referring to. It is an area of my hometown in Tampa called West Tampa. Now…before I get all Brian Williamsed here, I will tell you that I grew up on a street five or six blocks North of Columbus Dr. My Nana’s house was just one block away from Columbus Dr. and my Cousin Cathy…who I spent a hell of a lot of time and nights btw, was right in the heart of the neighborhood…being about 10 blocks on the South side of Columbus Dr.  I think you get the picture…right?

997d8cac806554c49f15d3f035d9c111Cathy and I would go riding on my moped, or riding on our bikes, all through the neighborhood, taking a tour through the “projects” (that is in quotes for a reason) that were built along the river all the time. Yes, two little white girls. Cathy knew how to handle herself, and believe me…there are times when I feel less save up here in KKK Baptist Jesus Christian Bible Banjoville, than I did riding that moped back in the day through the streets around the West Tampa.

I never had to pull a gun out on anyone to protect my family in Tampa back then in the early 90’s, but I had to do it up here in Banjoville around 1992, when some redneck name Robbie was harassing and intimidating my mom as she tried to call my dad from a payphone at one of the local gas stations in town.   I hope you get the point I am trying to make.

So how could Jindal be allowed to get away with this shit? How can all these other assholes be allowed to get away with this shit?

1d4990f0bbc231d7819e026696a4ca4dWar memorial separates dead by race, divides Southern city – U.S. – Stripes

Along Main Street in a small South Carolina city, there is a war memorial honoring fallen World War I and II soldiers, dividing them into two categories: “white” and “colored.”

Welborn Adams, Greenwood’s white Democratic-leaning mayor, believes the bronze plaques are relics of the South’s scarred past and should be changed in the spirit of equality, replaced like the “colored” water fountains or back entrances to the movie theater that blacks were once forced to use.

Yet the mayor’s attempt to put up new plaques was blocked by a state law that brought the Confederate flag down from the Statehouse dome in 2000. The law forbids altering historical monuments in any way without approval from legislators.

Historians, black and white, have reservations about replacing the plaques, saying they should serve as a reminder of the once-segregated U.S. military.

War memorial separates dead by race, divides Southern city - U.S. - Stripes 2015-02-08 01-24-35

“Segregation was the accepted social order of that time,” said Eric Williams, who spent 32 years as a historian with the U.S. Park Service. “If we alter the monument, we alter its historical integrity.”

c414872cfcd50ef3fb6d44a47b6a6dd9The memorial is owned by the American Legion post in Greenwood and is on city property. On two of its sides, it lists soldiers who died in World War I and World War II that were from Greenwood County. A third side lists Korean and Vietnam War dead from the county without any racial distinction because the military was integrated by that time.

Adams said he asked other South Carolina mayors and doesn’t know of any other similar memorials in the state. Several historians also said they haven’t heard of a monument where fallen soldiers are separated by race.

Maybe Sam Cooke would not be that surprised by the situation of the times as they are today…because the song is just as relevant. I mean things gonna change…right? After all, 51 fucking years is a long ass time to wait…no…150 fucking years plus/minus for something as simple as all men to be treated as equal. (Uh…I won’t even go off on the issue of Equal Rights for Women, cause I am just too exhausted…blame it on the Norovirus. )

052e64f1539f34a05a1c265900ab2dc4And just a side note…that monument in South Carolina:

The Confederate flag law says no historical monument, erected by the state or by a local government, may be relocated, removed, disturbed, or altered without a two-thirds vote from state lawmakers. The law lists 10 wars, including the “War Between the States,” — the genteel, Southern name for the Civil War.

The purpose of this part of the law was to appease people who worried 15 years ago that Confederate memorials and street and park names in honor of generals would be torn down in wake of the flag being removed from the Statehouse dome and being put in front of the South Carolina Capitol alongside a Confederate soldier monument. The flag is still a sore point for the NAACP and other black leaders.

A bill has been filed to change the Greenwood memorial and half of the members of the state Senate are listed as sponsors, but some legislators who helped craft the Confederate flag law are leery to bring the divisive issue up again.

e574d274dbc149a7573484f8d50d7b07“I’ll look at the bill,” said Sen. John Courson, a Republican from Columbia who has been in the Senate since 1985. “But I don’t want to reopen the whole debate. That was last century’s battle.”

I would like to tell this asshole Sen.Courson…the law, however, that bars the monument from being changed was passed in this century. Dick.

The rest of links in dump, I just can’t do any more.

PCH Closed In Malibu After Bruce Jenner, 6 Others Injured In Fatal 4-Vehicle Crash « CBS Los Angeles

Is his gender change for real, or is it a thing to keep his reality show going? I mean, I am skeptical when it comes to anything dealing with those Kardashians

Jordan Hits Islamic State With 3rd Day of Airstrikes

16e48a8db8c6b02c4c1fb3b5ebdba98eNeighbors: Man opened fire on ex-wife’s home killing 5,… |

Three wounded in shooting at Pittsburgh area shopping mall | Reuters

Emergency Officials in the Pacific Northwest Report on Strange Milky Ash – Pioneer News

Sochi Winter Olympic stadiums lie empty and abandoned – World – News – The Independent

Mom delivers 14-pound baby after recently learning she was pregnant | theGrio

And that was a vaginal delivery.

Mike Luckovich: Brian Williams Under Fire – Mike Luckovich – Truthdig

Associated Press Confirms Flooding and Floating Bodies Near Brian Williams’ Hotel During Katrina – Little Green Footballs

3fd220e81ee68ecd7f97ff34f42e7e8fWASHINGTON: How does Islamic State justify its atrocities in name of Islam? | Syria | McClatchy DC

The History Channel – The Washington Post

DeKalb police respond to critics of officer who shot 911 caller |

UVa police investigating report of sexual assault at dorm

‘Rape dungeon’ allegations emerge in abuse report on Florida’s notorious Dozier School for Boys

High School Police Ask Judge to Let Them Pepper-Spray and Arrest Unruly Students | Mother Jones

a782007e5a0fb57b5bd70a80ac3db283Secret Teacher: exams have left my students incapable of thinking | Teacher Network | The Guardian

Repro Wrap: Woman Convicted for Both ‘Feticide’ and ‘Neglect’ and Other News | Care2 Causes

Addicting Info – Pope Francis Called Hitting Kids ‘Beautiful’ As Long As ‘Dignity Is Maintained’

Shakesville: Quote of the Day

“Hillary has my endorsement for all of her life and mine. She can have my Lasso of Truth, formed from Aphrodite’s girdle and forced whomever was bound with it to obey the commands of whomever held the other end.”Lynda Carter, who will always be THE unrivaled Wonder Woman to many of us.

db0bf4fc699889def7b47198b564659fUpdate on that little girl who was thrown from the Skyway bridge in Florida: Carlton: From Bradley to Phoebe — how many kids have to die? | Tampa Bay Times

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Legos trailer – Business Insider

Fifty Shades of Bricks….awesome.

Teaching in the Age of Minecraft – The Atlantic

A New Textbook Could Revolutionize the Way Law Students Learn About Reproductive Rights

c7b5d3615d444074016f94e5819e950fWas The Giving Tree A Chump? | Off The Shelf

The Only Baby Book You’ll Ever Need –

That is about an anthropology textbook btw…“The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings,” by David F. Lancy.

Aaaaaannnnnnd, let’s just call this an open thread.


**Updated to add these beautiful photos…most of them Victorian, but you can see a lot more here:


Pinterest– History!

Unique Victorian Images on Pinterest 

And here is a gallery of images that could not fit on this post.




Sunday Reads: Glad-hand, Glad-hands, Glad-handing, Glad-handed

109c537979d7b4f0d8d4aafcea5e3d0fGood Whatever it is…

Morning, Afternoon, Evening…ugh.

(That this post is getting published, finally, is something in itself. I don’t know why, lack of motivation or enthusiasm…)

The images for today are hands used in political posters. I’ve gotten them from  board on Pinterest:  Affiche/Main – Poster/Hand on Pinterest | 1352 Pins

For a discussion on the use and symbolism of the fist in propaganda, take a look at this article from Lincoln Cushing:

A brief history of the “clenched fist” image

91c28e614a91264f169a1af85c22b9b5A persistent symbol of resistance and unity, the clenched fist (or raised fist) is part of the broader genre of “hand” symbols that include the peace “V,” the forward-thrust-fist, and the clasped hands. The clenched fist usually appears in full frontal display showing all fingers and is occasionally integrated with other images such as a peace symbol or tool.

52e84740d35979ea0cc3ba968fd9393eThe human hand has been used in art from the very beginnings, starting with stunning examples in Neolithic cave paintings. Early examples of the fist in graphic art can be found at least as far back as 1917 [1], with another example from Mexico in 1948 [2]. Fist images, in some form, were used in numerous political graphic genres, including the French and Soviet revolutions, the United States Communist Party, and the Black Panther Party for Self-defense. However, these all followed an iconographic convention. The fist was always part of something – holding a tool or other symbol, part of an arm or human figure, or shown in action (smashing, etc.).

Then there are a few other articles to look at here:

AIGA | Not Your Grandparent’s Clenched Fist

fe3cd0687f66bd2eed6cbab59b98f7edThe fist of protest has its roots in the deep traditions of revolutionary imagery of 1848 and French Romantic painting. It became a staple of banners and logos of unions and political parties. Raised out of the crowd, the fist clenched in strength, anger and determination could serve groups of almost any ideological stripe.

If some of you have access to JSTOR: JSTOR: Journal of Design History, Vol. 13, No. 4 (2000), pp. 319-339

This article focuses on the use of graphic signs in the political struggle between the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and the German Communist Party during the 1920s. It first examines the Nazi swastika’s relationships to a new ‘abstract and primitive’ style of trademark design that emerged in Germany during the First World War and to a discussion during 1919-20 about the Weimar Republic’s new emblem.

a86b51eaef29aee46058766ba0e550b3As the NSDAP’s sign grew more prominent in public discourse, John Heartfield, who was trained as a graphic designer, sought to counter it through satire and emblems that he designed for the KPD. The most powerful of the latter were a series of images in 1928 based on photographs of workers’ hands, which drew both on past emblems of worker solidarity and recent Surrealist photography. The clenched fist soon stood opposite the swastika as signs of the violent political struggle between left and right that marked the last years of the Weimar Republic. The article explores how practices of commercial graphic design became instruments of mass politics during the 1920s.

To see more posters:

Propoganda Posters

A History of Graphic Design: Chapter 36 – Art of Posters for Films – the Cuban School

Political Posters | OMCA COLLECTIONS

1c5e5c711aca0415d076f89bbb68964cAnd for some articles on the actual use of hand gestures in political protest and such:

Choreography and Gesture Play an Important Role in Protests –

“Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!”: Gesture, Choreography, and Protest in Ferguson – The Feminist Wire | The Feminist Wire

Thai protesters and The Hunger Games: what’s in a three-fingered salute? – Al Arabiya News

Opinion: Political Gestures « ASHARQ AL-AWSAT


I’ll connect the hand gestures to a situation that is getting heated in Egypt today.

What This Hand Gesture Means for Egypt’s Future – The Atlantic

Astute observers of recent pro-Morsi protests in Egypt will note a new symbol cropping up in photos of the protesting crowds: Demonstrators are now holding four fingers in the air. Many carry yellow posters emblazoned with the same gesture.

73d2c6da44e3092996deaafd43322ef5This new hand sign refers to the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, the site of a violent confrontation between Morsi’s followers and the Egyptian army. Reported deaths from the clash range from hundreds to thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters. In Arabic, “Rabba” means “four” or “the fourth;” hence the new Rabaa symbol.

The new hand sign is important because it signals both a conscious shift in the Muslim Brotherhood’s focus from a global audience to an Arabic one and a rejection of the ideals of the Arab Spring.

The Rabaa replaced a more recognizable sign in the Arab world: the two-fingered “V for Victory” salute, a gesture that transcends language and nationality. Many Americans know of the V as the peace sign after its widespread use by the anti-war and counterculture movements of the late 1960s and 1970s. Invented by the BBC in World War II as a pan-Allied propaganda campaign — think a cigar-smoking, pinstripe-wearing Winston Churchill flashing the V and a grin — the sign came to the Arab world when Yasser Arafat popularized it in 1969. To this day, Palestinians have exhibited a two-fingered V upon their release from Israeli jails, and the sign is well represented at rallies in Gaza.


cb6265adcef53757c1d8e03e4117dd48Alrighty then…

Now to the links for this Sunday:

A mess in Egypt as the anniversary of the revolution comes around:

Addicting Info – Egyptian Police Guns Down Female Journalist Carrying Flowers (IMAGES)

On the eve of the 4th anniversary of the Egypt’s 2011 uprising, which was part of the Arab Spring, and which ultimately forced the overthrow of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak, a female protester and reported journalist was shot by police near Tahir Square in Cairo.

d157e8b3abc8003fb47da8d1928df104Shaima Sabbagh was shot with birdshot as she was marching in remembrance of the Arab Spring and of the people killed during the revolution. She was shot at close range. Several people caught images of al-Sabbagh both before and after the shooting. Beware, they’re heartbreaking.  After Shaima was shot – her husband was arrested and their four-year-old son is without parents.

The AP is reporting 15 killed:

Egypt: 15 killed in clashes between Islamists, police – Houston Chronicle

However that number has risen according to Al-Jam:

Anniversary of Egypt’s revolution turns violent | Al Jazeera America

67c00cf24ef9941b3cba2301662d7bb0Thousands of Egyptian protesters chanted “down with the military and the regime” and “Interior Ministry are thugs” at a funeral on Sunday for a young mother and activist who was shot dead by security forces during a peaceful protest marking the fourth anniversary of Egypt’s Arab Spring revolution, according to local media reports.

Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, 32, was one of at least 20 people killed during protests over the weekend across Egypt, mainly in Cairo and Alexandria, commemorating the Jan. 25, 2011 ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak from office, according to the Ministry of Health.

The funeral took place in Alexandria, Sabbagh’s hometown, where activists remembered the slain protester as an advocate for labor rights and children, independent daily Al-Shorouk reported.

14a37e1b583dc3da96cabbd04de1fff6Sabbagh was among dozens of protesters marching on Saturday to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the revolution, to place wreaths of flowers there to commemorate more than 800 people killed during the 18 days of turmoil that sought to usher in a new era of democracy in Egypt.

Some disturbing images at those links.

This next link about the reaction to Boehner’s outright “fuck you” to the President and protocol: Addicting Info – Fox News Actually Expresses Shock And Outrage Over Boehner And Netanyahu Undermining President Obama (VIDEO)

On Friday, the world watched in disbelief as Fox News actually defended the honor and office of President Obama in the wake of Speaker Boehner violating US protocol by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak to Congress. In other news, pigs are flying.

0af590969a8654b197947327cb7a8b51During a segment on Fox, host Shepard Smith discussed the scandal with fellow host Chris Wallace, and both men were absolutely shocked and outraged by the actions of the top Republican in the House of Representatives.

On Wednesday, Boehner announced that he invited Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress. The problem is that Boehner did this without clearing the invitation with the White House, which is protocol.

“The protocol would suggest that the leader of one country would contact the leader of another country when he’s traveling there. This particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol,” said press secretary Josh Earnest.

760c844314c8385c125a4f9d51851022Furthermore, Netanyahu is specifically going to speak to Congress in an effort to trash Obama’s foreign policy in a deliberate attempt to wreck US nuclear negotiations with Iran, negotiations which a majority of Americans support.

You see, President Obama wants to use diplomacy to ease tensions between Iran, Israel, and the United States. That means securing an agreement that prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapon while allowing them to use nuclear power as another source of energy in the Middle Eastern nation. But Republicans are literally trying to sabotage these efforts by seeking more harsh sanctions against Iran, which would be seen an act of American aggression at a time when the State Department and White House are seeking mutual peace.

97209ff809bcf7377f8fa4c9f1393590Since the announcement, Beohner and Republicans have felt a major backlash. But the last place they thought they’d receive outrage from, if at all, is Fox News. Well, that shipped sailed on Friday.

Well, I would not go so far as to call this completely shocking, as it was Shep who called Boehner out. Y’all know he is the Black Sheep of the network.

For more on Israel, not just the Boehner invite.

Netanyahu defends planned Congress speech as anti-Iran strategy | Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended on Sunday a planned speech to the U.S. Congress about Iran, saying he had a moral obligation to speak out on an issue that poses a mortal threat to Israel.

61d1ba5498797554a1ef60ef050b354cHis visit to Washington in March has opened up a rift with the White House and has drawn accusations in Israel that Netanyahu is undermining the country’s core foreign alliance in an effort to win an election due two weeks after the trip.

Briefing his cabinet on the March 3 speech to a joint meeting of Congress, Netanyahu said his priority was to urge the United States and other powers not to negotiate an Iranian nuclear deal that might endanger Israel.

Suzie Madrak makes a huge point here:

» Blog Archive » ‘We’ll pay non-Jews to leave Israel’

Gee, when people offered to send slaves back to Africa, we called that racist.

98ec75fc6b4a08e7c95b31a67c4a4df9Addicting Info – Israeli Soldier Posed With Palestinian Woman For PR Photo, Then Shot Her In The Head (IMAGES)

And flowing into this news:

Jewish outrage as ship named after SS war criminal arrives in Europe | World news | The Guardian

Leaders of Jewish communities and Holocaust memorial groups in Britain and the Netherlands have reacted with rage and despair at the arrival in Rotterdam of the world’s biggest ship, the Pieter Schelte, named after a Dutch officer in the Waffen-SS.

6032f4f401f6f4568273c0a951ecb88dThe vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, said: “Naming such a ship after an SS officer who was convicted of war crimes is an insult to the millions who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis. We urge the ship’s owners to reconsider and rename the ship after someone more appropriate.”

Esther Voet, director of the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (Cidi), based in The Hague, said that the timing of the ship’s arrival, shortly before Jews were targeted and killed in Paris and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, was “a coincidence, I’m sure, but a sign of the times. We lost our battle to have the ship’s name changed, and we are left eating dust.”

0dc5ee5688693816623e388bddf4daa2Survivors of the Holocaust in Britain also spoke out. Ruth Barnett, a tireless campaigner who arrived from Nazi Germany as part of the Kindertransport, said: “I am outraged by the intensity and extent of denial and indifference that fails to challenge things like this ship, and allows the impunity for perpetrators to think they can get away with it.”

The London-based Lloyd’s Register dug in to defend its role in the ship’s building and development, while the shipbuilder said it had been named in honour of the owner’s father for his “great achievements in the offshore oil and gas industry”.

Read the rest of that story at the link, especially the bullet points… it is obvious that the ship’s name is something that could be seen as a slight. (To say the least.)

d5066f243d4a1f56fe2aa2f0f6e4a859There is an op/ed over at the New York Times that should give you all pause…When Calculus of Loss Doesn’t Add Up –

Joseph Kahn, The Times’s top-ranking editor for international news, told me that the Paris and Nigeria stories aren’t comparable. “These were totally different challenges,” he said, with the former happening in a major Western capital where The Times has a substantial staff.

He, and others, spoke of the difficulty of covering the Boko Haram story because of its remote location, the problems of verification, and the questions hanging over early reports. While Amnesty International was reporting as many as 2,000 dead, he told me, some trusted experts were cautioning against using the number. The Times needed to verify what had happened, something best done on the ground. But getting there is both difficult and time-consuming.

2b7a2cbd8422e20c48d518a6928ca805In retrospect, Mr. Kahn said, a story about the controversy over the numbers would have been one way to provide early and meaningful coverage — informing readers without falling prey to overstating what had happened. Such a story, especially if it had been prominently displayed and published quickly, would have been a valuable way to be transparent with readers about what The Times knew and what it didn’t know.

Mr. Kahn also said that while the Paris attack had an intense and short news arc, the Boko Haram story would continue and that The Times would keep covering it with commitment. The editor on the International Desk who handles Africa coverage, Greg Winter, told me last week that Mr. Nossiter (who has also been a leading reporter on the Ebola story) was in Nigeria again working on a major Boko Haram piece.

da8f847c13be0774621ab3c8167c30f8“I understand readers’ concerns about covering Nigeria, and I share them, which is why our correspondent has risked his life for years to cover the country and the turmoil in the north,” Mr. Winter said.

I asked Mr. Kahn how, in general, the numbers of violent deaths figure into editorial decisions. “We don’t cover everything equally,” he said. “It goes to gut news judgment, as we ask: ‘Is this a big deal? Are we going to deploy someone?’ ” Among the factors: “The circumstances, how unusual it is, the location, the relevance to American interests.”

And, he said, The Times has to be careful not to overreport violent death.

“Not every incident of carnage is a major story for The New York Times. You have to put it in context, and not fill the news report with unlimited doses of terrible violent news from around the world.”

ec4b59a449f88217fcaea31ca8aee875But, speaking of the recent Boko Haram attack, he said: “It could have had more attention and emphasis.”

I agree. I have no objection to the extent of the Paris coverage. But whatever the calculus of news judgments, these lost Nigerian lives surely were worthy of The Times’s immediate, as well as its continuing, attention.

Overreport violent death?


And on that note:

3e779e43d98a2ea62e793821d825ab35Nigerian city under attack from suspected Boko Haram militants | World news | The Guardian

9e34bef467ed52247964129d427e4e51Escaping Boko Haram on the Road From Bama | Al Jazeera America

Notice, not from the NYT…

About Yemen: Yemen Civil War? Masses Rally in Capital & South Secedes | Informed Comment

And now back to the US:

The following links are dealing with the GOP…and the usual shit.

House GOP Aborts Dumb Anti-Choice Bill Because Ladies Vote Too, Huh | Wonkette

The GOP White Guy Club Vs. Gynecology | The Mahablog

580f0bfee276b2bd99ba6151a293defbFree To Be Dumb: The Republican Iowa Freedom Summit Lives Up To Its Billing | News Corpse

“20-Week Bans Are Devastating for Women Like Me” | Mother Jones

Jorge Ramos, Voice of Latino Voters on Univision, Sends Shiver Through G.O.P. –

Weeping Christian men apologize for letting you have an abortion

Funny or Die Apologizes for That Christian Bro Abortion Apology Video

And while on the subject of coochies:

34b722ecabd64f5932b4dcaf67d948d5Teen poses as doctor for month before caught in Florida | WGN-TV

Police in Florida and officials at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach have agreed not to charge a teenager they caught posing as a doctor.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports police were called Tuesday after a patient alerted staff at the medical center’s OB/GYN office that a juvenile dressed in a lab coat was inside an exam room. The patient said the lab coat had St. Mary’s logo and “anesthesiology” stitched on the front.

A security guard told police he’d seen the teen around the hospital for a month. Another said the teen entered secured areas of the hospital this week.

44bd08b08177533170f76e14a910df51The teen told police he’s been a doctor for years.

The teen’s mother told police he’s under the care of a doctor and is not taking his medicine.


On to the Arts…Movies…etc.

Selma: Black History According to Oprah | Black Agenda Report

Julie Walters: lack of working-class actors is sad | Culture | The Guardian

Samuel L Jackson: ‘I create characters – it keeps me from being me all day’ | Film | The Guardian

b2d93a9da3408389ecbdb5792e4b28bfMission To Mars begins with some of the worst expository dialogue ever · Scenic Routes · The A.V. Club

Richard McWhorter, Legendary Assistant Director, Dies at 100 – The Hollywood Reporter

German scientists invent working teleporter, of sorts | Technology | The Guardian

Warner Bros’ bold stance on Wonder Woman opens the door for Hollywood evolution – Comment – Voices – The Independent

And something that will probably make a film one of these days, have you seen this story out of Argentina:

f8b86c3ae813f71b442aa1986c0b3411Spies, lies and death: plot thickens in Argentine scandal | Reuters

Prosecutor in Argentina presidential case was shot point-blank in forehead: authorities

Journalist who broke news of prosecutor’s death flees Argentina | Reuters

Gosh, what a lot of links for you today, and I’ve got a couple more:

Experts examine bones as Spain hunts for Cervantes’ remains (Update)

c4ab5a85544371f40b1db4db4dceccadWho was Chaucer? | Books | The Guardian

And end with two stories on women, journalism and internet threats.

Jezebel staffers express concern after Gawker Media seating chart is published | Capital New York

Wikipedia tacitly endorses GamerGate by blocking its opponents from editing gender-related articles | PandoDaily

That’s all folks….

BTW, here is a gallery of images, some of which were not put up in the post here.

Wednesday Reads: Math, Dogs and Sheep


Good Mid-Morning

Just a quick thought this morning before we get to the links. Yesterday Boston Boomer linked to an article about Janet Yellen, and there were a few sentences that made me stop and think. Which is really something because usually when it comes to articles containing anything associated with numbers, my brain tends to retreat like a coward who is being bombarded by incoming aerial livestock.

la vache in flightBut seriously…the article Boston Boomer linked to was from CNN. Here is the quote:

CNN Money’s report on Yellen’s speech, Janet Yellen: Job market not recovered.

That was Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s main message Friday in a much anticipated speech.

“It speaks to the depth of the damage that, five years after the end of the recession, the labor market has yet to fully recover,” she said.

ae0607c9a034b49a4870b3b008599168The debate now is whether the job situation in America is healthy enough for the Federal Reserve to start raising interest rates, which have been at historic lows in recent years in an effort to jump start the economy. Yellen, however, said little new on Friday, and U.S. stock markets stayed flat.

Yellen is chair of the committee that sets interest rates, but she only gets one vote. Other members have differing views. The Fed board and other top economists are spending the weekend in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, debating these key issues.

Though the unemployment rate “has fallen considerably and at a surprisingly rapid pace,” Yellen said problems remain.

Emphasis mine.

Okay, maybe I am a bit hypersensitive, but why the specific mention about her getting only one vote. Is this something new? I was under the impression that whenever Greenspan or Bernake or Geithner spoke…it was as if the all powerful Oz had spoken. Doris from the Outer Hebrides by Ron Gilmore, via Flickr. Doris took a shortcut through the fern grove!!Especially with Greenspan, I mean that guy was the equivalent of verbal Dow Jones Industrial Average “pusher” in that whenever he opened his mouth…he spewed economic commentary uppers or downers.

Anyway, if this is not a big deal…then just forget about all that shit and continue with the post. As it is, the thread is late this morning. I got distracted finding images of sheep on Pinterest. Oh well, you know what that means…another dump. Link dump that is….

The latest news:

Two Men Abducted, Drowned in Philadelphia River, Third Man Escapes, Police Say – ABC News

The bodies of two men who had been bound were found today dumped a Philadelphia river, while a third man who had been repeatedly stabbed narrowly escaped the abductors believed to be responsible for the double homicide, authorities said.

The survivor, a 20-year-old man, was taken off the street by four or five men early this morning and thrown into the back of a van, police said.

He was then stabbed about nine times, in the torso and legs, Philadelphia police said, and his hands were tied behind his back with duct tape and his ankles were bound as well. Duct tape was also placed over his mouth, and once in the van, he realized there were two other people in the van who had also been bound, police said.

Valais Blacknose SheepAll three were taken to the Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park, where they were thrown into the water, police said, noting that the two other people were tethered to some kind of weight and drowned in five to ten feet of water.

This is a new story obviously so no real info as of yet…cops say they may have surveillance video of abduction.

And you may be one of the millions without internet service: Time Warner Cable Suffers Massive Outage

Time Warner Cable suffered a nationwide outage on Wednesday morning, leaving many users unable to access the Internet.

The company issued a statement to Mashable, acknowledging the outage and reporting that much of its service had been restored. TWC said the service outage was due to an issue with its “Internet backbone” that occurred during routine maintenance.

At 430am ET this morning during our routine network maintenance, an issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet and On Demand services. As of 6am ET services were largely restored as updates continue to bring all customers back online.

sheepish by karena goldfinch on FlickrTWC outage leaves 12M people without Internet access — and it’s only going to get worse

On Tuesday, Time Warner Cable agreed to pay the Federal Communications Commission $1.1 million for failing to disclose a “substantial number” of outages affecting its customers. Now today, the company announced that it is suffering from multiple outages affecting 12 million people.

Making matters worse is that many of those consumers probably didn’t have much choice when they signed up for the service, given Time Warner Cable’s effective monopoly in a number of its markets. As I wrote when I compared its service against the only other option for Internet service in my area,

The problem is, there are no options for someone living in the boonies. If they want to connect to the Internet they have to use something like [Finger Lakes Technologies Group, a regional Internet provider]; there are no other options. […] So far as choices go, it’s clear that people who live in small towns like this one are totally screwed.

This is a problem all across the country. Many people have access to just a handful of ISPs, many of which are regional offerings that pale in comparison to their national counterparts, which enjoy a monopoly on the high-end service market in many of the places they operate.

8fcbafa0f238f79808e0fe22f6071cf6That problem will only be made worse if Time Warner Cable is allowed to merge with Comcast and become what Netflix called the “nation’s largest onramp to the Internet.” The combined company is unlikely to care much about leveling the playing field and allowing other ISPs to give consumers more options for Internet service. It’ll just amass as much power as it can.

Does that seem like a company that’s going to solve problems that lead to outages affecting 12 million people around the United States? Hell, even with the scant competition they have now, both Time Warner Cable and Comcast have done little to make their services better. As I wrote in May, the companies are the least-liked in every industry in which they operate. (Surprise!)

We have this problem with Windstream being the shitty internet service monopoly here in Banjoville.

Next: Why Israel’s bombardment of Gaza neighborhood left US officers ‘stunned’ | Al Jazeera America

The cease-fire announced Tuesday between Israel and Palestinian factions — if it holds — will end seven weeks of fighting that killed more than 2,200 Gazans and some 69 Israelis. But as the rival camps seek to put their spin on the outcome, one assessment of Israel’s Gaza operation that won’t be publicized is that of the U.S. military. Still, even though the Pentagon shies away from publicly expressing judgments that might fall afoul of a decidedly pro-Israel Congress, senior U.S. military sources speaking on condition of anonymity offered a scathing assessment of Israeli tactics, particularly in the battle for Shujaiya.

Eduardo GageiroOne of the more curious moments in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge came on July 20, when a live microphone at FOX News caught Secretary of State John Kerry commenting sarcastically on Israel’s military action: “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry said. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.”

Rain of high-explosive shells

The secretary of state’s comment followed the heaviest bombardment of the war to that point, as Israeli artillery rained thousands of high-explosive shells into the neighborhood of Shujaiya, a residential area on the eastern edge of Gaza City. A high-ranking U.S. military officer told this reporter that the source of Kerry’s apparent consternation was almost certainly a Pentagon summary report assessing the Israeli barrage, on which the Secretary had been briefed by an aide moments earlier.

Irving Penn - A young Berber shepherdess of the Aït Yazza people in the High Atlas, with a newborn lamb.According to this senior U.S. officer, who had access to the July 21 Pentagon summary of the previous 24 hours of Israeli operations, the internal report showed that 11 Israeli artillery battalions —a minimum of 258 artillery pieces in all, according to this officer’s estimate — had pumped at least 7,000 high explosive shells into the Gaza neighborhood, which included a barrage of some 4,800 shells during the seven-hour period marking the height of the operation. Senior U.S. officers were stunned by the report.

Twice daily throughout the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) operation, a select group of senior U.S. military and intelligence officers at the Pentagon received a lengthy written summary of Israeli military action in Gaza. The reports — compiled from information gleaned from open sources, Israeli military officers with whom U.S. officials speak and satellite images — offered a detailed assessment of Israel’s battlefield tactics and the performance of its weaponry, a considerable portion of it supplied by the United States.

Although these reports shy away from offering political judgments on the operation, a number of senior U.S. military officers who spoke about the contents of those daily reports with this reporter were highly critical of some of the IDF’s tactics, particularly in the Israeli ground invasion of Shujaiya. An official spokesman at the Pentagon declined to comment on the contents of this article.

65d7b88498df7aae340ab92e8d434944More at the link.

50 years later, SNAP proves its continuing vitality | Opinion | McClatchy DC

Even as SNAP policies and procedures change with the times, the program’s core mission remains the same. When the Food Stamp Act was passed in 1964, it aimed to provide better nutrition to low-income households while benefiting our agricultural economy. Fifty years later, research shows SNAP is still doing just that.

For example, SNAP benefits boost the economy by creating markets, and spurring economic growth and jobs in urban and rural communities at grocers, superstores, farmers’ markets, military commissaries, manufacturers and farms. And because SNAP benefits are so urgently needed, they are spent quickly – 97 percent of benefits are redeemed within the month of issuance – and therefore have great positive economic effects. Moody’s Analytics and USDA estimate that the economic growth impact of SNAP ranges from $1.73 to $1.79 per $1 of SNAP benefits.

“Leapsheeping Lambs” by Roeselien RaimondOne component of SNAP that needs to change and hasn’t is the amount of the monthly benefit allotment. While we know the program is capable of reducing food insecurity, improving the health and well-being of recipients, and ultimately saving taxpayer dollars on avoided healthcare costs, it could work much better. Current benefits are based on assumptions developed in the 1930s for emergency diets. That plan is now woefully outmoded on every front from nutrition to practicality. Multiple studies, including the USDA’s own analysis of a recent (temporary) boost in benefits, show the value of a healthier allotment.

OSheep at Stanton Drew by elaine's life in images on Flickrver the course of any 50-year period, change is inevitable. Since August 1964, SNAP’s strength has been recognizing and responding to those changes. Today, the program’s mission is as necessary as it was 50 years ago: providing relevant, vital help to boost nutrition, economic security and health among seniors, children, people with disabilities, and unemployed or low-income working families. This is an anniversary worth celebrating.

Black Agenda Report is out, and here is their coverage of the “events” at Ferguson | Black Agenda Report

bc9ea1ec82f69b079338d510cc7d8751Did y’all see the latest in ironic pro-gun nut death by gun shot? DEATH BY MISADVENTURE | Gin and Tacos

On Tuesday a 39 year old firearms instructor was fatally shot near Kingman, AZ when the nine year-old girl he was instructing on the use of an Uzi submachine gun lost control of it…while it was on full automatic. This resolves once and for all the question of whether it is a good idea to give a nine year old girl who appears in the linked video to weigh about 20 pounds (note: the video shows only the events leading up to the fatal incident, but does not include the incident itself) a submachine gun set on full auto. The facility, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, caters to the vacationing yahoo crowd:a8f7be7a6c29bdbc291eb3f61896b6df

KINGMAN, Ariz. — An instructor who was shot by a 9-year-old girl who fired an Uzi at a northwestern Arizona shooting range died Monday night at University Medical Center in Las Vegas.

The girl fired the weapon at the outdoor range that caters to heavy tourism traffic along U.S. Highway 93 between Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

Highway signage and Internet advertising beckons visitors to stop in, fire a machine gun and enjoy a meal at the Bullets and Burgers enterprise at the Last Stop, about 25 miles south of Las Vegas.

The instructor had, among others, the following hilarious pro-gun images posted on his Facebook wall (h/t Balloon Juice)

a5f4ebc59149f626d77d94a1c1c14bb4Go to the link to see the images and commentary that this man had posted on his wall. It is the typical shit…

What about a look at what makes Houston…colorful? Immigrants reshape Houston, America’s most diverse metropolis | Al Jazeera America

In the past 20 years, Houston — that most Texan of Texan cities — has come to look more and more like the taxi drivers. Between 1990 and 2010, Greater Houston added more than 2.2 million people (PDF) and now boasts a population of more than 6 million (the city proper has 2.2 million residents). The metropolitan area has eclipsed New York and Los Angeles to become the most racially and ethnically diverse in the United States.

4240f24bd326893a797d4327d5d943e9A joint report published last year by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research and the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas (PDF) found that Greater Houston scores highest on the Entropy Index, which measures diversity according to the presence and relative proportions of the four major racial groups (white, black, Hispanic and Asian). All five Houston counties have become more diverse over the past two decades, with increased numbers of Hispanics (from 21 to 35 percent) and Asians (from 3.4 to 6.5 percent), a stable population of blacks (about 17 percent) and a decrease in whites or “Anglos” (from over 50 to under 40 percent), though rates of residential segregation remain high.

Oh boy, it is really getting late…here are the rest in real quick dump format:

A lamb jumping over a trough, 1950Video shows police shot Ohio man ‘on sight’ as he leaned on toy gun in Walmart, attorney says

Dueling demands in Walmart shooting case | WDTN

Scarlett Johansson designs shirt for Planned Parenthood | TheHill

Archaeologists Discover 15 Previously Unknown Monuments Buried Around Stonehenge

Jon Stewart Goes After Fox in Powerful Ferguson Monologue | Mediaite

ec7c81f2b4f070513900f2313f8e5f3a– Another Ferguson? Young Black Man Shot In Chest With Hands Cuffed Behind Back. Police Say Suicide.

The Emmys Censored the Punchline of That Last Robin Williams Bit

Ferguson Police Officer Justin Cosma Hog-Tied And Injured A Young Child, Lawsuit Alleges

50 Shades of Grey: Harmful to Your Health? | Care2 Causes

It’s being hailed as a “provocative new study” worthy of Christian Grey himself — a group of researchers have just published an article in Journal of Women’s Health claiming that women who read “50 Shades of Grey” are at a higher risk for domestic abuse, disordered eating, a high number of sexual partners and even binge drinking. But don’t throw your romance novel to the curb just yet: The study is another example of the good old “correlation does not equal causation” trope.


During the study, a group of scientists surveyed 655 18-to-24-year-old women online, a third of whom had read some or all of the ’50 Shades’ series. They asked them questions about their personal sexual practices, their experiences of partner victimization such as sexual and psychological abuse, and binge drinking. When they adjusted their findings for age and race, researchers learned that women who had read at least the first book in the series were more likely to report partner victimization, cyberstalking, fasting and using diet aids. 5b03d93e5435018f1fdedd169a22f7caWomen who had read all three books in the series were also more likely to report having five or more sexual partners in their lifetime. Their conclusion? There is an association between reading the series and negative health outcomes for women.

At the Guardian: The 100 best novels: an introduction | Books | The Observer

They are at week 49: The 100 best novels: No 49 – Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos (1925) | Books | The Observer

You can see the past weeks here: The 100 best novels | Books | The Guardian

A border collie herding sheep at the Rockefeller Center, 1948. Photo for LIFE magazine by George Silk.Now for the article that explains the title of this post: BBC News – ‘Two simple rules’ explain sheepdog behaviour

The relationship between a shepherd and his sheepdog has always seemed almost magical, but scientists now say it can be explained by two simple rules.

Researchers have used GPS data to reveal the mathematical secrets of how sheepdogs do their job.

The new model helps to explain why one shepherd and a single dog can herd an unruly flock of more than 100 sheep.

It could be used to help develop “shepherd robots”, for controlling crowds or cleaning up an oil spill.ce2d03bff1e703b2b3fce681272fc1ea

The first rule: The sheepdog learns how to make the sheep come together in a flock. The second rule: Whenever the sheep are in a tightly knit group, the dog pushes them forwards.

NERC fellow Dr Andrew King of Swansea University helped to design backpacks fitted with highly accurate GPS technology. These trackers were attached to a flock of sheep and a sheepdog.

“What’s so interesting about this is how simple the rules are,” Dr King told the BBC.

“At the beginning we had lots of different ideas. We started out looking from a birds eye view, but then we realised we needed to see what the dog sees. It sees white, fluffy things. If there are gaps between them or the gaps get bigger, the dogs needs to bring them together.”

Sheep Bridge by Mountain Mike on FlickrAccording to Dr King, sheepdogs are making the most of the “selfish herd theory” to bring the animals close together and move them where they want.

“One of the things that sheep are really good at is responding to a threat by working with their neighbours. It’s the selfish herd theory: put something between the threat and you. Individuals try to minimise the chance of anything happening to them, so they move towards the centre of a group.”

A colleague, Dr Daniel Strombom from Uppsala University in Sweden, used the GPS data from the collars to develop computer simulations. This enabled them to develop a mathematical shepherding model.

The algorithm displays the same weaving pattern exhibited by sheepdogs. It helps to solve what has been called the ‘the shepherding problem’: how one agent can control a large number of unwilling agents.

John Hooper. The Shepherd, 1982.The research was published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Read the rest at the link…and how they are working to use this information in other ways.

This made me look for a couple of more sheepy links:

Shrek the runaway sheep is a shear celebrity – Telegraph

29 Apr 2004

Shrek, the New Zealand merino sheep which spent the last six years on the run from his owners, finally had his long-postponed encounter with a pair of shears last night.


Shrek the sheep is shown before, during and after being sheared


The woolly creature was shorn of his 15-inch long, 59lb fleece during a live television broadcast.

Viewers around the country watched eagerly to see the wool carefully snipped away by a former world champion shearer, Peter Casserly.

Despite his years as a hermit, Shrek was as meek as a lamb and co-operated fully.

“He is probably looking forward to getting this lot off,” Mr Casserly said confidently as he got to work.


And from 2012, Shepherds around the world – in pictures | World news |

They used to be an important part of the global economy but with the increase of estates the need for shepherds has declined. However, the tradition does still exist in many parts of the world


That one is just a gallery…so go and enjoy it.


Sorry this is so damn late!