Fourth of July Reads

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Good Morning and Happy 4th of July!!

The media is continuing to breathlessly report that 73-year-old registered Independent Bernie Sanders is threatening Hillary Clinton’s chances for the Democratic nomination in 2016. Can you get the Democratic nomination if you are not registered as a Democrat? Earth to media: it’s not even 2016 yet–not even close. Sigh . . .

CNN: Sanders snags key endorsement in New Hampshire. Wow! Some woman with a strange name that no one has ever heard of before is rooting for Sanders. Bernie-Mentum!!!

Longtime New Hampshire Democratic activist Dudley Dudley told CNN Friday that she has decided to endorse Bernie Sanders for the Democratic 2016 nomination. Her decision comes less than two months after she hosted O’Malley at both her Durham, New Hampshire homes.

Since then, according to a recent CNN/WMUR New Hampshire primary poll, frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s lead over Sanders has shrunk from 38 percentage points to 8, with O’Malley trailing both. Likely Democratic primary voters are now more apt to see Sanders as the candidate who “best represents the values of Democrats like yourself,” the poll found.

Sanders recently finished a two-day swing through the state that saw 500-person crowds and high attendance at more intimate house parties.

Dudley told CNN she was won over by Sanders focus on money in politics, but was particularly impressed by his style of delivering his message.

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How nice for Bernie and Dudley Dudley. Meanwhile Hillary “the fighter” Clinton is defending her liberal record, according to Politico.

Hillary Clinton: ‘I take a backseat to no one’ on liberal record.

Hanover, N.H. — Hillary Clinton arrived in this liberal New England enclave with a message for anyone thinking about voting for Sen. Bernie Sanders of next-door Vermont: “I take a backseat to no one when you look at my record in standing up and fighting for progressive values.” ….

“We have to take on the gun lobby one more time,” said Clinton, speaking without notes or a teleprompter in front of a crowd of about 850 Dartmouth students and native Granite Staters. “The majority of gun owners support universal background checks, and we have to work very hard to muster the public opinion to convince Congress that’s what they should vote for.”

She said it was the “height of irresponsibility not to talk about it.” Sanders, who represents a pro-gun constituency, has voted against the Brady Bill, which required federal background checks for gun purchasers, as well as other major bills supported by gun-control advocates.

She also signaled that she would have no problem defending President Barack Obama’s domestic agenda.

“If the country elects a Republican president, then they will repeal the Affordable Care Act,” she warned. “Let’s elect a Democratic president who is committed to quality affordable health care.”

She praised Obama’s moves to help the country recover from the economic crisis and said Republicans who say the recovery is too slow “just don’t know the theory of original sin,” blaming “the kind of poor management and bad economic policies that put us into the ditch in the first place.”

Go to the link to read some ignorant negative comments about Hillary that CNN was able to dig up.

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If I sound irritable, it’s because I am. I read JJ’s Friday night post before I started this one and got really angry about the woman who was denied life-saving care at a Catholic hospital. That and the constant burning and itching that is still spreading all over my body are making me so agitated that I’d like to find the nearest low-information voter and strangle him or her.

ABC News on Hillary:  Hillary Clinton Not Fazed by Bernie Sanders’ Crowds.

During a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Friday, the Democratic presidential front-runner responded to a question from a reporter about the massive crowds her challenger, Vermont Sen.Bernie Sanders, has seen at his own campaign events this week.

“We each run our own campaigns and I always knew this was going to be competitive,” Clinton said at Dairy Twirl ice cream shop in Lebanon, New Hampshire, when asked about the growing support behind Sanders and how he’s seeing crowds even bigger than she is.

“I want to have a great debate in the primary and caucus around the country and that is what I am looking forward to,” she added.

Not that anyone in the not-so-liberal media will take her words at face value. They will continue to insist that she is in danger of losing to someone who isn’t a Democrat and that she’s worried sick about it.

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George Talei had the temerity to speak the truth about Clarence Thomas a couple of days ago, and now he has been pressured into apologizing.

Huffington Post: George Takei Calls Justice Clarence Thomas A ‘Clown In Blackface’ Over Marriage Equality Dissent.

George Takei has come under fire this week for calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas a “clown in blackface” over the judge’s stance on marriage equality. However, the “Star Trek” actor insists that his comment was not racially motivated.

During an interview with Fox 10 Phoenix, Takei, who is gay, discussed the Supreme Court’s recent landmark ruling to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Takei said he was “angry” at Thomas, who dissented to the decision, for his position on the issue.

“He is a clown in blackface sitting on the Supreme Court,” said Takei. “He gets me that angry. He doesn’t belong there.”

What did Thomas say that made Takei so angry? Some pretty awful stuff.

In his dissent, Thomas, who is black, wrote that “human dignity cannot be taken away by the government,” adding: “Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them.”

Takei, whose family was held inside a Japanese internment camp during World War II, took issue with this logic.

“For him to say slaves have dignity, I mean, doesn’t he know that slaves were in chains? That they were whipped on the back?” Takei said. “My parents lost everything that they worked for in the middle of their lives, in their 30s. His business, my father’s business, our home, our freedom and we’re supposed to call that dignified?… This man does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrassment. He is a disgrace to America.”

I think Takei was absolutely right about Thomas. But the pressure was too much for him, I guess.

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CNN reports: George Takei walks back ‘blackface’ remark about Clarence Thomas.

Takei said on Friday that his words “were not carefully considered.”

“When asked by a reporter about the opinion, I was still seething, and I referred to him as a ‘clown in blackface’ to suggest that he had abdicated and abandoned his heritage,” Takei said in a Facebook post. “This was not intended to be racist, but rather to evoke a history of racism in the theatrical arts. While I continue to disagree with Justice Thomas, the words I chose, said in the heat of anger, were not carefully considered.”

The full apology is on Takei’s Facebook page.

A few follow-ups to previous big stories:

WBAL TV11: Sign inside Baltimore police van under investigation. Sign posted inside van: ‘Enjoy your ride, cuz we sure will!’

The Baltimore City Police Department has launched an internal investigation after a WBAL-TV 11 News viewer shared four photographs of a sign inside a city police wagon.

The photos show the doors of the parked police van left open. On the inside of the back door is a sign, attached or possibly stenciled on, that reads: “Enjoy your ride, cuz we sure will!”

The pictures were taken Tuesday near the Central District Police Station on Baltimore Street.

The sign’s placement makes it clear that this is a message for people who are arrested to see after they’re put in the back of the van and the doors are shut.

Police Department officials told 11 News the photos are real and they triggered an internal investigation.

Nice, after the BPD killed Freddie Gray with a rough ride in a police van.

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Now deceased prison escapee Richard Matt sent a letter to his daughter before he and David Sweat broke out of a “maximum security” prison in Dannamora, NY.

From the Buffalo News: ‘See you on the outside,’ Matt said in letter delivered to daughter in Buffalo suburb.

“I always promised you I would see you on the outside. I’m a man of my word,” a portion of the letter stated, according to information obtained by The Buffalo News from law enforcement officials.

The letter was postmarked prior to the June 6 escape and arrived June 9.

Matt had maintained a correspondence with his daughter while serving a prison sentence of 25 years to life for murder, acquaintances of the daughter confirmed.

But authorities say the daughter had no idea in advance that her father was planning an escape from Clinton Correctional Facility. Once he and David P. Sweat broke out, she fully cooperated with investigators. In fact, she requested round-the-clock protection, fearing that Matt would attempt to see her while he was on the run. That never happened.

The State.com: EXCLUSIVE: Charges possible against church shooter’s associates.

A joint state and federal investigation into the activities of accused Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof has widened to include other persons of interest, according to multiple sources familiar with the ongoing investigation.

The expanded scope of the investigation now includes people with whom Roof associated in the weeks before the June 17 shootings of nine African-Americans at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, the sources said. Roof, 21, of Columbia, is white.

Although it appears Roof traveled alone to and from Charleston on the day of the killings, it is possible others had some knowledge of what he planned to carry out, said the sources, who are not being identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.

Investigators began to explore how much Roof’s associates knew, and when they knew it, after reviewing his cellphone and computer records, the sources said.

Prosecutors are still studying exactly what charges, if any, some of those associates might face, the sources said.

The New York Times Friday, citing sources with knowledge of the investigation, also said federal and state authorities have found Roof had been in contact with white supremacists online, though it does not appear they encouraged him to carry out the massacre.

More details at the link.

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Do you have blue eyes?

If so, you might find this story from Pioneer News interesting and/or alarming: New Study Suggests Potential Link Between Alcoholism and Eye Color.

Alcoholism is a major problem in the United States. Previous studies have identified that genetics may play a factor in dependency but a new study suggests that blue eyes might also encourage the eventual development of alcoholism.

Study co-author Dawei Li is an assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics. He says, “These are complex disorders. There are many genes, and there are many environmental triggers.”

Additionally, lead study co-author Aris Sulovari is a doctoral student in cellular, molecular, and biological sciences at the university. He adds, “This suggests an intriguing possibility – that eye color can be useful in the clinic for alcohol dependence diagnosis.”

The researchers looked at data from 10,000 people—mostly those of African or European America descent—who had been diagnosed with more than one psychiatric disorder which might include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, in addition to alcohol or drug dependence.

So . . . what else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a fabulous holiday weekend.


Thursday Reads: A Sad Day

Split Sadness, Nicki Sands

Split Sadness, Nicki Sands

A Sorrowful Good Morning.

The top story this morning is the shocking mass murder of 9 people in a predominantly black church in Charleston, South Carolina yesterday. Authorities are calling it a hate crime. The shooter has not yet been caught, but surveillance photos of him and his care have been released.

Reuters reports: Manhunt follows attack on historic black South Carolina church.

Police in Charleston, South Carolina, were searching for a white gunman on Thursday who killed nine people in a historic African-American church, in an attack that police and the city’s mayor described as a hate crime.

The shooter, a 21-year-old white man with sandy blond hair, sat with churchgoers inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for about an hour on Wednesday before opening fire, Police Chief Gregory Mullen said.

The victims included Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a Democratic member of the state Senate, his cousin and fellow state senator, Kent Williams, told CNN.

The gunman is extremely dangerous, Mullen said, and police did not have a sense of where he might be.

“This is an unfathomable and unspeakable act by somebody filled with hate and with a deranged mind,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley told reporters.

Six females and three males died in the attack, Mullen said.

AP photo: Police talk to a man outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina.

AP photo: Police talk to a man outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina.

More from The Washington Post: 9 dead in ‘hate crime’ shooting at historic African American church in Charleston.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Police widened the search Thursday for a gunman who opened fire and killed nine people during a prayer service at a historic African American church in downtown Charleston, in one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the United States in recent memory.

At least one other person was injured in the Wednesday night assault, which began about an hour after the assailant entered the church and observed the service, authorities said.

“We believe this is a hate crime; that is how we are investigating it,” Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said at a dawn news conference.

What a horrible crime. I hope they catch this dangerous young man soon.

Officers in fatigues, some with dogs, said they were searching “near and far” for the gunman, described as a clean-shaven white male in his early 20s with sandy blond hair and a slight build. Police said he was wearing a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and Timberland boots. He is believed to be the only shooter.

At a nearby Embassy Suites, which was serving as an informal headquarters for church members, people began sobbing and screaming as they learned details about what had happened.

“We just left speaking to members of the families,” Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley (D) told reporters overnight. “It was a heartbreaking scene I have never witnessed in my life before.” ….

Though authorities did not release the names of the victims, the church’s pastor, Clementa Pinckney, who is also a South Carolina state senator, was missing after the shooting, and some members of the congregation feared the worst. Indeed, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said Pinckney was among the dead, and friends started posting “RIP” condolences on social media.

Suspect police are searching for in connection with the shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina is seen from CCTV footage released by the Charleston Police Department June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Charleston Police Department

Suspect police are searching for in connection with the shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina is seen from CCTV footage released by the Charleston Police Department June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Charleston Police Department

From ABC News: Police Release Photos of Charleston, South Carolina, Church Shooting Suspect.

The suspect was described as approximately 5-foot-9, wearing a sweatshirt with distinctive markings and Timberland boots, police said. Joining the search were the FBI and state law enforcement.

Police also said the car he was driving had a “very distinctive” license plate. Officials would not elaborate on the make and model of the car.

“This is an all-hands-on deck effort with the community and law enforcement,” Mullen said.

Police said they had set up a tip line — 1-800-CALL-FBI — advised the public to be alert and said to call 911 and not approach.

How many more of these mass shootings do we need to have before we do something to control access to guns in this country? This time it’s a hate crime too. If this isn’t terrorism, what is?

Rev. Clementa Pinckney

Rev. Clementa Pinckney

According to The Chicago Tribune, Rev. Clementa Pinckney had sponsored a bill to have police officers wear body cameras.

Pinckney 41, was a married father of two who was elected to the state House at age 23, making him the youngest member of the House at the time.

“He never had anything bad to say about anybody, even when I thought he should,” Rutherford, D-Columbia, said. “He was always out doing work either for his parishioners or his constituents. He touched everybody.”

The attack came two months after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, by a white police officer in neighboring North Charleston that sparked major protests and highlighted racial tensions in the area. The officer has been charged with murder, and the shooting prompted South Carolina lawmakers to push through a bill helping all police agencies in the state get body cameras. Pinckney was a major sponsor of that bill.

I’m feeling incredibly sad. I don’t know what else to say.

And now this from Raw Story: Shooter opens fire on church in Memphis hours after terrorist kills nine in Charleston.

During choir practice in Memphis, a gunman opened fire. A bullet remains lodged in the wall of the church, CBS reports.

As of press time, police are at the St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church on Pendleton Street making inquiries and collecting information. WREG reports officers were called to the scene at 6:45 a.m. on Thursday.

No one was injured during the shooting.

News of the Memphis shooting spread quickly on social media this morning, in a country grappling with this Wednesday’s shooting by a white man in Charleston, South Carolina whoopened fire in a black church and killed nine people.

Read some of the tweets at the link. And please be careful in Memphis, JJ.

More News:

I’m going to give you the rest of the news in a link dump. I have to rush around today, because I’m getting ready to leave for Indiana tomorrow to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday. Her birthday was June 10, but we’re having a big party on the 27th. I have to get out there early to help get things organized.

Hollywood Reporter: Donald Trump Campaign Offered Actors $50 to Cheer for Him at Presidential Announcement.

The New York Daily News: Five-decade study links pesticide DDT to breast cancer.

The Washington Post: The $10 bill will soon feature a woman. But the debate is only beginning.

A racial incident involving police and black teenagers in Cincinnati: What really happened at Fairfield pool?

The New York Times: Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change.

The Guardian: Pope’s climate change encyclical tells rich nations: pay your debt to the poor.

The New Republic: The Last Time Conservatives Dismissed a Major Encyclical, It Ended Terribly for Them.

Salon: Fox News as we know it may be screwed: Roger Ailes’ stunning rebuke could spell the end. With Rupert Murdoch stepping aside, Roger Ailes will now report to Murdoch’s Fox-hating sons.

New York Magazine: Roger Ailes’s Demotion Signals Power Shift Within Murdoch Empire.

CNN: Brian Williams expected to stay at NBC (but he won’t be a news anchor).

WPTZ Channel 5: No evidence escaped prisoners have left area, police say. 600 officers still searching for David Sweat, Richard Matt.

The Washington Post: Why Roger Goodell might be in tough spot on Tom Brady suspension.

CBS News: American Enterprise Institute finds Wells Report ‘deeply flawed.’ They found no evidence that the Patriots’ footballs were even deflated.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.


Thursday Reads: Escape From Dannemora

breakout route

Good Morning!!

Those two murderers who escaped from a maximum security prison in Dannemora, NY six days ago are still on the loose. It’s like something out of a prison break movie, except that the escapees are not sympathetic characters. Some background, in case you haven’t been following the story:

AP, via The Wall Street Journal: Convicted Killers Escape From New York Top-Security Prison.

Two convicted murderers used power tools to cut through steel pipes at a maximum-security prison near the Canadian border and escape through a manhole, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.

“It was an elaborate plot,” Gov. Cuomo said after joining law enforcement authorities to retrace the prisoners’ escape route from the Clinton Correctional Facility in the town of Dannemora in the Adirondacks….

Mr. Sweat is serving a sentence of life without parole after he was convicted of first-degree murder for killing a Broome County sheriff’s deputy in 2002. Mr. Matt is serving a sentence of 25 years to life for the kidnapping and beating death of a man in 1997.

“A search revealed that there was a hole cut out of the back of the cell through which these inmates escaped,” Mr. Annucci said. “They went onto a catwalk which is about six stories high. We estimate they climbed down and had power tools and were able to get out to this facility through tunnels, cutting away at several spots.”

Authorities said there are many questions, including how the men acquired the tools.

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That question has now been tentatively answered. From The Buffalo News: Woman who worked at prison may have helped two killers escape.

ALBANY – A woman who worked at the state prison in Dannemora may have helped two convicted murderers escape over the weekend, state police said, and some media have reported that the woman also planned to pick up the escapees afterward but got cold feet.

“She befriended the inmates and may have had some sort of role in assisting them,” State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said at a Wednesday afternoon briefing outside the Clinton Correctional Facility.

D’Amico did not identify the woman, but confirmed media reports over the past several days have identified her as Joyce Mitchell.

The woman was supposed to pick up Richard W. Matt and David P. Sweat after they escaped, but changed her mind at the last minute, CNN and other media reported.

Mitchell’s son told NBC News Tuesday that his mother would not have helped the prisoners escape and that she has been in the hospital with chest pains since Saturday.

D’Amico declined to provide any details about possible assistance the woman provided, such as access to power tools and information about escape routes. Various media accounts have described Mitchell as helping to supply tools that the inmates used to break through walls and pipes, citing anonymous sources.

Read more details in this CNN article: Prison worker in spotlight after brazen New York escape.

Joyce MItchell

Joyce MItchell

Here’s another breathless backgrounder with lots of photos and a diagram (see the image at the top of this post) of the escape route: HOW THE PRISON BREAK WENT DOWN: EXCLUSIVE details on the escape route from New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility.

The great escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility was hatched in the prison tailor shop while the killers were sewing Metro-North uniforms, sources told the Daily News on Monday.

Using power tools that authorities suspect were either sweet-talked out of a female civilian worker or delivered by a contractor working at the prison, Richard Matt and David Sweat managed to pull off the first successful escape from the forbidding prison near the Canadian border.

Investigators are now grilling civilian employees and private contractors working at the prison to see whether any of them provided Matt and Sweat with tools, sources said.

One of them is Joyce Mitchell, 51, who works as an industrial training supervisor in the tailoring department.

Cops questioned Mitchell and her husband, who also works in the prison, on Saturday, according to neighbors.

“They were going through her trash,” said one neighbor, who would not give her name.

Investigators are checking whether Mitchell had a personal relationship with one of the men, sources said.

Now Reuters is reporting that Mitchell “thought she had a romantic relationship” with one of the escapees: Female prison worker, in love, agreed to drive getaway car: NBC News.

A female prison worker being questioned by police, who are hunting two escapees from an upstate New York prison, thought she had a romantic relationship with one of them and had planned to drive the getaway car, NBC News reported on Thursday.

In the end, Joyce Mitchell, an industrial training supervisor in the tailor shop of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, got cold feet and checked herself into a hospital for nerves on Saturday, the day the inmates were discovered missing, NBC reported, citing unnamed senior government officials.

The older inmate, convicted killer Richard Matt, 48, who has a history of escape attempts, had wooed Mitchell for months and established a relationship in which she agreed to drive the getaway car, the report said.

“She thought it was love,” one of the officials told NBC News.

Richard Matt

Richard Matt

Why do some women fall in love with criminals? Here’s some background on the two escaped killers from NBC News: Richard Matt and David Sweat, Convicted Murderers Who Escaped Prison, Have Grisly Past.

Matt, 48, was sentenced to 25 years to life in 2008 for killing [a] businessman. He had already escaped from prison once, in 1986, and at his trial a generation later he was considered so dangerous that police snipers were posted on the courthouse roof….

The victim was a food broker named William Rickerson who had hired and then fired Matt.

On Dec. 4, 1997, according to the trial testimony of an accomplice, Matt beat Rickerson with a knife sharpener, bound him with duct tape, tossed him in the trunk of a car, and then drove around for 27 hours looking for a place to kill and bury him.

At one stop on the drive, Matt opened the trunk, broke four of Rickerson’s fingers, hit him in the chest with a steering wheel locking device, then shut the trunk and kept driving.

The accomplice testified that Matt had him turn down a cul-de-sac, stop the car and open the trunk again. He said Matt told him: “You know, I’ve had enough of this.”

He said Matt reached in and twisted Rickerson’s head. “I heard a pop,” the accomplice testified, and the businessman “just dropped back in the trunk.” Matt cut off the arms and legs with a hacksaw, authorities said.

David Sweat

David Sweat

There’s more sickening detail at the link. All Sweat did was kill a cop.

Sweat, 34, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life without parole in the shooting death of Kevin Tarsia, a sheriff’s deputy in Broome County, New York, on July 4, 2002.

Investigators said that he and two other men stole a pickup truck in Pennsylvania, broke into a fireworks and gun store and stole a dozen handguns and rifles.

They drove across the state line to New York to move the weapons from a pickup truck to a car. They shot Tarsia when he confronted them there.

Gawker had more on the escape on Sunday: Escaped Prisoners Left Behind a Politely Racist Note for Police.

The two murder convicts who escaped from upstate New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility overnight on Friday left a a very polite and very racist note telling police and everyone, “Have a nice day!”

The escaped inmates—Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34—had tricked guards using dummy bodies built out of sweatshirts while using mysteriously-acquired power tools to drill through walls and pipes, the New York Times reports. Anthony Annuci, the acting state corrections commissioner, told the Associated Press that the men’s absence was discovered during an early morning bed check on Saturday.

“A search revealed that there was a hole cut out of the back of the cell through which these inmates escaped,” Annucci said. “They went on to a catwalk which is about six stories high. We estimate they climbed down and had power tools and were able to get out to this facility through tunnels, cutting away at several spots.” ….

At one point along their subterranean escape route, the prisoners left a racist note for anyone following them to find.

Racist note left on wall

Racist note left on wall

Animal New York published the note along with list of the various euphemisms media outlets have used to describe it.

This morning The New York Daily News reported that a “Philly cabbie says he may have driven escaped N.Y killers.”

A Philadelphia taxi driver says he might have picked up the convicted murders who made a brazen prison break from a maximum-security New York facility.

Police are questioning the cabbie, who claimed he shuttled two men who matched the escapees’ descriptions to the train station.

The unidentified driver picked up the men — who looked like 48-year-old Richard Matt and 34-year-old David Sweat — in the city’s center and drove them to 30th Street Station, NBC Philadelphia reported. The cabbie worked two more fares and then called police, he told investigators.

The latest news on the search for Sweat and Matt is that authorities suspect they may be headed for Vermont. I just hope they don’t pass by my house on their way!

From The Washington Post:

Authorities searching for two escaped killers who have been on the loose for the better part of a week acknowledged being in the dark about their whereabouts or doings, even as the hunt for the men expanded past state borders into Vermont.

At a news conference outside the maximum-security prison on Wednesday, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said, “I have no information on where they are or what they’re doing, to be honest with you.”

But authorities expanded the search after investigators learned that the inmates had talked before last weekend’s breakout about going to neighboring Vermont.

“We have information that suggests they thought New York was going to be hot. Vermont would be cooler, in terms of law enforcement,” Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said at the news conference with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Gee, no kidding.

The Christian Science Monitor reports: 

Vermont authorities are patrolling Lake Champlain and areas alongside it, Shumlin said. Cuomo urged the people of Vermont to be on the alert and report anything suspicious, warning: “Trust me, these men are nothing to be trifled with.”

As part of the search, state troopers and correction officers in helmets and body armor retraced their steps around the prison, checking garage doors, sheds, windows and other structures for signs of a break-in or other clues.

More than 450 federal and state law enforcement officers were taking part in the search, including customs agents, federal marshals and park rangers.

I wonder who else is helping these guys?

Law enforcement officials again asked the public to report anything out of the ordinary.

“We don’t want them out searching the woods,” Sheriff David Favro said. “But if you’re sitting on your porch, get your binoculars out and see if you see something unusual.”

Lots more human interest stuff at the link. People in Dannemora don’t seem all that concerned.

As of this morning, authorities have shut down a major highway near the prison. From WPTZ.com: Police converge on Cadyville in search for two fugitives. Route 374 closed from Dannemora to West Plattsburgh.

CADYVILLE, N.Y. —A massive search effort for two inmates who escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora intensified late Wednesday night and continued into Thursday.

Hundreds of police officers converged on the community of Cadyville, approximately one mile east of the village of Dannemora.

New York State Police closed State Route 374 east of the village of Dannemora to West Plattsburgh as they investigate what they called a “lead involving the escapees from the Clinton Correctional Facility.”

Cops are going over the whole area with a fine-toothed comb.

Hundreds of officers have scoured neighboring woods, looking “behind every tree, under every rock and inside every structure” for Matt and Sweat, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said.

They’ve searched farms, fields and woods in Willsboro after a driver saw two “suspicious” men run off during a late-night driving rainstorm. Then there was a turn toward Vermont because of “information that would suggest (that state) was discussed as a possible location,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday. Vermont state police vessels and troopers looked for the fugitives on Lake Champlain, which straddles the two states, as well as in nearby campsites.

That said, authorities don’t have any hard information that Matt and Sweat have left New York. Nor can they discount the possibility they have left the area, perhaps heading to Canada — which is just 20 miles north of the prison — or most anywhere in the United States or beyond. To this point, 50 digital billboards with the fugitives’ photos have gone up in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Let’s hope they catch these killers before anyone gets hurt. If they are headed to Vermont, maybe they will try to sneak into Canada, although that’s a lot more difficult now than it used to be.

To be honest, I haven’t been following this story closely until now because I assumed the Sweat and Matt would be caught fairly quickly; but after six days the story has become a lot more interesting. So I wrote a post about it to give me an excuse to get all the details.

This is an open thread. Feel free to discuss and post links on politics or anything else you want in the comment thread and have a great day. 

 


Lazy Saturday Reads: D-Day Edition

Allied ships, boats and barrage balloons off Omaha Beach after the successful D-Day invasion, near Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France on June 9, 1944.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Allied ships, boats and barrage balloons off Omaha Beach after the successful D-Day invasion, near Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France on June 9, 1944. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

 

Good Morning!!

Today is the 71st anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. I found some stunning original color photos at The Denver Post, and I thought I’d share a few of them here. Go to the link to see the entire collection. I’ve also gathered some interesting articles on the “longest day” along with remembrances from survivors.

From The Charlotte Observer: D-Day: Only the beginning – with the end nowhere in sight, by David Perlmutt.

With Saturday comes another anniversary of D-Day as the light continues to dim on the generation that fought it.

Seventy-one years have passed since Carolinians such as Andy Andrews of Black Mountain and Walter Dickens of Monroe got their first taste of combat when they rushed ashore at Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944, the pivotal day historians tag as the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.

It was more of a beginning than an end. Long after D-Day’s first anniversary, the bullets would continue to fly in the Pacific theater and other parts of the world.

A year ago, I wrote a series of stories to honor the 70th anniversary of D-Day through the eyes – and distant memories – of Andrews, Dickens and others like paratroopers Harold Eatmon of Mint Hill and E.B. Wallace of Waxhaw. The fighting took another 11 months and horrific losses during battles in countries such as France, Holland, Belgium and ultimately Germany before the Germans surrendered.

Planes from the 344th Bomb Group, which led the IX Bomber Command formations on D-Day on June 6, 2014. Operations started in March 1944 with attacks on targets in German-occupied France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. After the beginning of the Normandy invasion, the Group was active at Cotentin Peninsula, Caen, Saint-Lo and the Falaise Gap.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Planes from the 344th Bomb Group, which led the IX Bomber Command formations on D-Day on June 6, 2014. Operations started in March 1944 with attacks on targets in German-occupied France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. After the beginning of the Normandy invasion, the Group was active at Cotentin Peninsula, Caen, Saint-Lo and the Falaise Gap. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

Fighting continued in the Pacific, where my Dad was stationed, for a long time after June 6, 1944. He was on a ship traveling to Japan when the U.S. dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He said they celebrated–not knowing the horror the bombs would unleash–they were saved. My Dad might not have come home if those bombs hadn’t been dropped.

A year after D-Day, thousands of U.S. Marine and Army troops were still two weeks away from capturing Okinawa, the last in a hopscotch of islands that Allied forces needed for a plan to force Japan’s unconditional surrender. Offshore, U.S. Navy ships absorbed daily attacks by Japanese kamikaze (suicide) planes as their guns pounded hills above the landing beaches. Army Air Forces planes bombed targets inland to soften the Japanese defense.

As they fought to take control of Okinawa, hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers, Marines and sailors prepared to take part in what would have been history’s greatest battle – Operation Olympic, code-named Downfall, the invasion of the Japanese homeland.

They knew the fighting would be fierce.

Much more at the link. It’s a very good piece.

British Navy Landing Crafts (LCA-1377) carry United States Army Rangers to a ship near Weymouth in Southern England on June 1, 1944. British soldiers can be seen in the conning station. For safety measures, U.S. Rangers remained consigned on board English ships for five days prior to the invasion of Normandy, France.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

British Navy Landing Crafts (LCA-1377) carry United States Army Rangers to a ship near Weymouth in Southern England on June 1, 1944. British soldiers can be seen in the conning station. For safety measures, U.S. Rangers remained consigned on board English ships for five days prior to the invasion of Normandy, France. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

 

CNN: He got to witness ‘The Longest Day,’ by Val Lauder.

Cornelius Ryan was a 24-year-old war correspondent when he had a chance to see a defining moment in the defining event of the 20th century — the Allied landings on the coast of France to retake France and bring down Hitler.

Ryan at first witnessed the invasion from a bomber that flew over the beaches. Then, back in England, he scrambled to find the only thing he could that was going to Normandy. A torpedo boat that, he learned too late, had no radio. “And if there’s one thing that an editor is not interested in,” he said, “it’s having a reporter somewhere he can’t write a story.”

Recalling those five hours off the coast, watching the struggle on the beaches, he remembered “the magnitude of the thing, the vastness. I felt so inadequate to describe it.”

But today, as the 71st anniversary of D-Day approaches on June 6, Ryan is most likely to be remembered for being the one who did describe it, who told so many millions the real story of what happened that day, in his book which became the famous movie, “The Longest Day.”

Lauder was a young woman headed to journalism school at Northwestern when the invasion took place.

In September 1962, I interviewed Cornelius Ryan before the New York premiere of the film. Ryan had become the authority on the events of June 6, 1944, following publication of his book. And as he himself noted, in the 10 years it took him to research and write the book, he became “a veritable depository of D-Day memorabilia.”

He shared some of what he’d learned as we talked in the study of his home in Ridgefield, Connecticut, that Sunday afternoon.

Read her remembrances at the CNN link.

The 1st Infantry Division of the United States Army (The 'Big Red One') in Dorset, United Kingdom on June 5, 1944 before departing for Omaha Beach.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

The 1st Infantry Division of the United States Army (The ‘Big Red One’) in Dorset, United Kingdom on June 5, 1944 before departing for Omaha Beach. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

The Christian Science Monitor: D-Day June 6, 1944: How did Hitler react?

Considering the pivotal nature of June 6, 1944, how did Hitler react to the attack? Did he rant, did he rail? Did he move with focused calm to try and repel the invaders? [….]

In the early days of June Germany’s Fuhrer was at The Berghof, his residence in the Bavarian Alps. Everyone there knew an invasion was likely in the near future, but the atmosphere was not nervous, according to contemporary accounts. To the contrary it was relaxed, and in the evening, almost festive. A group of guests and military aides would gather at the complex’s Tea House and Hitler would hold forth on favorite topics, such as the great men of history, or Europe’s future.

On the evening of June 5, Hitler and his entourage watched the latest newsreels, and then talked about films and theater. They stayed up until 2 a.m., trading reminiscences. It was almost like the “good old times,” remembered key Hitler associate Joseph Goebbels.

When Goebbels left for his own quarters, a thunderstorm broke, writes British historian Ian Kershaw. German military intelligence was already picking up indications of an oncoming Allied force, and perhaps landing troops, in the Normandy region. But Hitler wasn’t told. The Fuhrer retired around 3 a.m.

German headquarters confirmed that some sort of widespread attack was in progress shortly thereafter. At sunrise, around 6 a.m., the defenders knew: Allied ships and planes were massed off the French beaches in astounding strength, and men were beginning to come ashore. It was a sight many would never forget.

But the German reaction was slow and befuddled. Was this the real thing, the main invasion? Or was it a feint, with the real force to land elsewhere, probably Calais?

Read more at the link.

A U.S. Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) filled with invasion troops approaches the French coast from the sea in June of 1944. The GIs wear life vests in preparation for the landing.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

A U.S. Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) filled with invasion troops approaches the French coast from the sea in June of 1944. The GIs wear life vests in preparation for the landing. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)

 

More D-Day stories:

The Daily Mail, D-Day heroes’ courage remembered.

AP via The Miami Herald, Vets, visitors return to Normandy to mark D-Day anniversary.

Constitution Daily, Ten fascinating facts on the 71st anniversary of D-Day.

The Daily Beast, The Stacks: A D-Day Vet Shows Normandy to His Son.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Veterans of D-Day mark 71st anniversary: 4 will be honored today at Heinz History Center.

The Nation on what was happening in Congress on D-Day–a bunch of nonsense, just like today. June 6, 1944: D-Day Invasion of France.

Heavy, D-Day Invasion: Top 10 Best Quotes & Sayings.

grim sleeper

A Recommendation

Before I get to the rest of the news, I want to highly recommend an HBO documentary I watched a few days ago called Tales of the Grim Sleeper. It’s the story of how serial killer Lonnie Franklin, Jr. murdered as many as 100 African-American women in South Central LA over more than 20 years while the LAPD ignored what was happening.

 

This isn’t the story of a serial killer–it’s about police attitudes toward the poor and people of color; and it fits right in with recent events in places like Ferguson, Cleveland, Staten Island, and Baltimore and with the Black Lives Matter movement.

This story could have happened in a poor neighborhood in any major American city. In fact, there was a similar case in Cleveland where Anthony Sowell murdered poor black women for years without getting caught because the crimes weren’t taken seriously.

If you have HBO or can get access to it, please watch this outstanding film.

articles_24

Other News, links only

News News

Brian Beutler at The New Republic, Hillary Clinton’s Grand Strategy to Beat the GOP: Take Bold Positions Early and Often.

Politico, 2016 field descends on Iowa for Joni Ernst shindig.

New York Times, Beau Biden Funeral Draws Many Mourners, Including Obama.

LA Times, LAPD finds officers were justified in fatal shooting of mentally ill man, sources say.

Politico, Anti-war activist confronts Sen. Tom Cotton.

Paul Krugman, Lone Star Stumble.

Voice of America, Death Toll Jumps to Nearly 400 in China Ship Sinking.

BBC News, President Vladimir Putin tells West not to fear Russia

Sexual Molestation News

AP, via AOL, Sister: Brother had sexual relationship with Hastert.

NBC News, Dennis Hastert Case: Abuse Group Wants Congressional Portrait Removed.

Huffington Post, Dennis Hastert Hid His Skeletons As He Helped Push GOP’s Anti-Gay Agenda.

Fox News, Jessa: Josh Duggar was ‘in puberty and a little too curious about girls.’

ABC News, Duggars Put Locks on Doors as a Safeguard Following Alleged Molestation.

Is a crime still “alleged” after the perpetrator and his parents acknowledge that he did it? Just asking.

Time, Josh Duggar’s Sister on Molestation: ‘It Wasn’t Like a Horror Story.’

Yibada, Josh Duggar’s Sister Jill Dillard: My Parents Did Such An Amazing Job.

Gawker, The Truth About Josh Duggar’s Sham Cult-Center “Counseling.”

What else is happening? As always, treat this as an open thread. 


Tuesday Reads: Emily Yoffe and the Problem of Sexual Assault on College Campuses

William W. Churchill, Woman Reading on a Settee

William W. Churchill, Woman Reading on a Settee

Good Morning!!

This morning I read a long article by Emily Yoffe at Slate about The Hunting Ground, a documentary about rape on college campuses, How The Hunting Ground Blurs the Truth. I haven’t seen the film, but Yoffe says that CNN plans to show it in the future so maybe we’ll all get to see it eventually. Anyway, I thought I’d present Yoffe’s arguments and some of the responses to her previous posts on the subject and see what you think.

In the article, Yoffe focuses one of the cases presented in the film, listing a number of facts and inconsistencies that she says were ignored by the filmmakers. She also demonstrates a great deal of sympathy for the man who allegedly committed the sexual assaults.

Arthur M. Hazard, Woman Reading in an Interior

Arthur M. Hazard, Woman Reading in an Interior

Some excerpts:

The recent documentary The Hunting Ground asserts that young women are in grave danger of sexual assault as soon as they arrive on college campuses. The film has been screened at the White House for staff and legislators. Senate Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, who makes a cameo appearance in the film, cites it as confirmation of the need for the punitive campus sexual assault legislation she has introduced. Gillibrand’s colleague Barbara Boxer, after the film’s premiere said, “Believe me, there will be fallout.” The film has received nearly universal acclaim from critics—the Washington Post called it “lucid,” “infuriating,” and “galvanizing”—and, months after its initial release, its influence continues to grow, as schools across the country host screenings. “If you have a daughter going to any college in America, you need to see The Hunting Ground,” the MSNBC host Joe Scarborough told his viewers in May. This fall, it will get a further boost when CNN, a co-producer, plans to broadcast the film, broadening its audience. The Hunting Ground is helping define the problem of campus sexual assault for policymakers, college administrators, students, and their parents.

The film has two major themes. One, stated by producer Amy Ziering during an appearance on The Daily Show, is that campus sexual assaults are not “just a date gone bad, or a bad hook-up, or, you know, miscommunication.” Instead, the filmmakers argue, campus rape is “a highly calculated, premeditated crime,” one typically committed by serial predators. (They give significant screen time to David Lisak, the retired psychology professor who originated this theory.) The second theme is that even when school administrators are informed of harm done to female students by these repeat offenders, schools typically do nothing in response. Director Kirby Dick has said that “colleges are primarily concerned about their reputation” and that “if a rape happens, they’ll do everything to distance themselves from it.” In the film, a former assistant dean of students at the University of North Carolina, Melinda Manning, says schools “make it difficult for students to report” sexual assault in order to avoid federal reporting requirements and to “artificially keep [their] numbers low.”

One of the four key stories told in the film illustrates both of these points. It is the harrowing account of Kamilah Willingham, who describes what happened during the early morning hours of Jan. 15, 2011, while she was a student at Harvard Law School. She says a male classmate, a man she thought was her friend, drugged the drinks he bought at a bar for her and a female friend, then took the two women back to Willingham’s apartment and sexually assaulted them. When she reported this to Harvard, she says university officials were indifferent and even hostile to her. “He’s dangerous,” she says in the film of her alleged attacker, as she tries to keep her composure. “This is a rapist. This is a guy who’s a sexual predator, who assaulted two girls in one night.” The events continue to haunt her. “It’s still right up here,” she says tearfully, placing a hand on her chest.

William W. Churchill, Leisure

William W. Churchill, Leisure

You’ll probably have to read the entire article to get a full understanding of this case, but this should give you a sense of where Yoffe is coming from:

I looked into the case of Kamilah Willingham, whose allegations generated a voluminous record. What the evidence (including Willingham’s own testimony) shows is often dramatically at odds with the account presented in the film.

Willingham’s story is not an illustration of a sexual predator allowed to run loose by self-interested administrators. The record shows that what happened that night was precisely the kind of spontaneous, drunken encounter that administrators who deal with campus sexual assault accusations say is typical. (The filmmakers, who favor David Lisak’s poorly substantiated position that our college campuses are rife with serial rapists, reject the suggestion that such encounters are the source of many sexual assault allegations.) Nor is Willingham’s story an example of official indifference. Harvard did not ignore her complaints; the school thoroughly investigated them. And because of her allegations, the law school education of her alleged assailant has been halted for the past four years.

Yoffe has a history of denying the seriousness of the problem of campus rape (even though in this article she twice *says* it’s a serious issue). Her position seems to be that if college women just stopped getting drunk, rape on campus would be a minor or nonexistent problem.

I found it interesting that she refers to David Lisak’s research on campus rapists as a “theory,” and characterizes his work as “poorly substantiated.” The link to her evidence that Lisak’s work is somehow problematic goes to another article written by Yoffe in which she cites Lisak and another researcher explaining that it’s important to be aware that the (pretty large) sample of UMass students that Lisak used may not be typical of all college populations. This is a standard caveat given in most psychology research papers, because studies on human beings can rarely be representative of the population as a whole. The results need to be considered in the light of other studies and studies of varied populations. That doesn’t invalidate the findings.

Lady reading by a window

Here’s the article in which Yoffe finds fault with Lisak’s research: The College Rape Overcorrection. Again, you probably should read the whole thing, because I can’t represent her arguments in a brief excerpt. Still, here’s a bit of it:

In recent years, young activists, many of them women angry about their treatment after reporting an assault, have created new organizations and networks in an effort to reform the way colleges handle sexual violence. They recognized they had a powerful weapon in that fight: Title IX, the federal law that protects against discrimination in education. Schools are legally required by that law to address sexual harassment and violence on campus, and these activists filed complaints with the federal government about what they describe as lax enforcement by schools. The current administration has taken up the cause—the Chronicle of Higher Education describes it as “a marquee issue for the Obama administration”—and praised these young women for spurring political action. “A new generation of student activists is effectively pressing for change,” read a statement this spring announcing new policies to address campus violence. The Department of Education has drafted new rules to address women’s safety, some of which have been enshrined into law by Congress, with more legislation likely on the way.

Unfortunately, under the worthy mandate of protecting victims of sexual assault, procedures are being put in place at colleges that presume the guilt of the accused. Colleges, encouraged by federal officials, are instituting solutions to sexual violence against women that abrogate the civil rights of men. Schools that hold hearings to adjudicate claims of sexual misconduct allow the accuser and the accused to be accompanied by legal counsel. But as Judith Shulevitz noted in the New Republic in October, many schools ban lawyers from speaking to their clients (only notes can be passed). During these proceedings, the two parties are not supposed to question or cross examine each other, a prohibition recommended by the federal government in order to protect the accuser. And by federal requirement, students can be found guilty under the lowest standard of proof: preponderance of the evidence, meaning just a 51 percent certainty is all that’s needed for a finding that can permanently alter the life of the accused.

a-woman-reading Gyla Benczur

More than two dozen Harvard Law School professors recently wrote a statement protesting the university’s new rules for handling sexual assault claims. “Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process,” they wrote. The professors note that the new rules call for a Title IX compliance officer who will be in charge of “investigation, prosecution, fact-finding, and appellate review.” Under the new system, there will be no hearing for the accused, and thus no opportunity to question witnesses and mount a defense. Harvard University, the professors wrote, is “jettisoning balance and fairness in the rush to appease certain federal administrative officials.” But to push back against Department of Education edicts means potentially putting a school’s federal funding in jeopardy, and no college, not even Harvard, the country’s richest, is willing to do that.

Again, Yoffe focuses sympathetically on one case involving a male student at the University of Michigan, Drew Sterrett. She also cites research by Callie Marie Rennison and Lynn Addington, who found that non-college women are in greater danger of rape than college women. She doesn’t address the issue that universities are entrusted by parents with protecting young people who may be away from home for the first time.

woman reading1

In an article from October 2013, Yoffe really gets to the point: College Women: Stop Getting Drunk. It’s closely associated with sexual assault. And yet we’re reluctant to tell women to stop doing it. Again, just a brief excerpt:

Let’s be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.

Experts I spoke to who wanted young women to get this information said they were aware of how loaded it has become to give warnings to women about their behavior. “I’m always feeling defensive that my main advice is: ‘Protect yourself. Don’t make yourself vulnerable to the point of losing your cognitive faculties,’ ” says Anne Coughlin, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, who has written on rape and teaches feminist jurisprudence. She adds that by not telling them the truth—that they are responsible for keeping their wits about them—she worries that we are “infantilizing women.”

So perpetrators are “responsible for committing their crimes,” but women are the ones who should change their behavior. Why not keep criminals off college campuses and try to prevent both male and female students from drinking so much? Yoffe explains her reasoning at the end of the article:

I’ve told my daughter that it’s her responsibility to take steps to protect herself. (“I hear you! Stop!”) The biological reality is that women do not metabolize alcohol the same way as men, and that means drink for drink women will get drunker faster. I tell her I know alcohol will be widely available (even though it’s illegal for most college students) but that she’ll have a good chance of knowing what’s going on around her if she limits herself to no more than two drinks, sipped slowly—no shots!—and stays away from notorious punch bowls. If female college students start moderating their drinking as a way of looking out for their own self-interest—and looking out for your own self-interest should be a primary feminist principle—I hope their restraint trickles down to the men.

If I had a son, I would tell him that it’s in his self-interest not to be the drunken frat boy who finds himself accused of raping a drunken classmate.

reading-lady-matisse-henri-fauvism-oil-on-cardboard-genre-terminartors-1372947212_org

She is correct that women are affected more quickly by alcohol than men, but is that a reason to focus only on college women’s responsibility for preventing sexual assaults? She actually believes that we should just hope that if women drink less, men will emulate them? Good luck with that.

I’ve found several responses to Yoffe’s previous articles. I’ll watch to see the reactions to the latest one which came out yesterday. Here are some links you can check out if you’re interested.

Emma Gray at Huffington Post: What Slate Gets So Wrong About College Women And Sexual Assault.

Alexander Abad-Santos in The Wire: Slate Forgot That the One Common Factor in Rapes Are [sic] Rapists.

Kate McDonough at Salon: Sorry, Emily Yoffe: Blaming assault on women’s drinking is wrong, dangerous and tired.

Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezabel: How To Write About Rape Prevention Without Sounding Like An Asshole.

Jennifer Baker at Psychology Today (also cited in the main post): Campus Rape Skepticism. How Not to ‘Debunk’ Research.

Josh Beitel at Medium: A Rebuttal to Emily Yoffe’s College Rape Overcorrection.

As always, this is an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread.


Sunday Reads: Bigots, Backends, BB and Bernie

2b1076fb7276f1b10c52a29515cc445bGood Afternoon

Don’t know about y’all, but my insomnia is working overtime lately. I’ve tried to get some sleep last night but no such luck so, here is this morning’s post. If it seems a little pffft….you know why, it is because I am writing it with no sleep.

First up, some sad news for VP Biden, I just feel so much sorrow for the man.

Beau Biden Dies at 46 – The Atlantic

Shortly after Joe Biden was elected to the Senate in 1972, tragedy struck. A car crash killed his wife and infant daughter and left both of his young sons severely injured. Only 29 years old at the time, Biden considered resigning from the Senate to care for his remaining family. A cadre of long-time senators, including Ted Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey, convinced Biden he could do both. So he did, leaving instructions that his sons’ phone calls were always to be put through during the day, and commuting back from Washington by train to be with them every night.Although Beau Biden was not a carbon copy of his father, he shared his unrelenting commitment to public service. Beau, the former attorney general of Delaware and son of Vice President Joe Biden, died Saturday from a recurrence of brain cancer at age 46. “The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words,” his father said in a statement. “We know that Beau’s spirit will live on in all of us—especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children, Natalie and Hunter.”Beau’s first experience in government came when he worked as a lawyer for the Justice Department before entering private practice. He held the rank of major in the Delaware Army National Guard, and served a yearlong tour in Iraq from October 2008 to September 2009. There, he worked as a judge advocate general in the waning days of the U.S. occupation. His deployment coincided with his father’s run for the vice presidency in 2008. “He’ll go, [although] I don’t want him going,” Joe told a crowd on the campaign trail. “But I don’t want my grandsons or granddaughters going back in 15 years, so how we leave makes a big difference.”

There is a lot more at that Atlantic article. It mentions how Beau did things his own way…and it also discusses the criticism he received after the duPont sentence, that some felt was a little on the easy side.For some pictures: Moving Photos Show A Young Joe Biden Swearing Into Senate By Son Beau’s Bedside After Crash

When Vice President Joe Biden was first sworn in to the U.S. Senate in 1973, he took his oath by the bedside of his son Beau, who’d been injured in a car accident in December 1972 that claimed the lives of Joe Biden’s first wife and daughter.

Images of Biden’s swearing-in circulated on Twitter Saturday night after the vice president announced Beau had died from brain cancer. Beau Biden was 46.

joe biden beau biden

In this Jan. 5, 1973 black-and-white file photo, four-year-old Beau Biden, foreground, watches his dad, Joe Biden, center, being sworn in as the U.S. senator from Delaware, by Senate Secretary Frank Valeo, left, in ceremonies in a Wilmington hospital. Beau was injured in an accident that killed his mother and sister in December. Mrs. Biden’s father, Robert Hunter, holds the Bible. (AP Photo/File)
joe biden beau biden

Joseph H. Biden Jr., left, offers words of encouragement to his bedridden son, Beau, before Bidden was sworn in as the United States Senator from Delaware in ceremonies in Wilmington hospital on Jan. 5, 1973. Biden’s other son, Hunter, talks with Robert Hunter, Biden’s father-in-law. Beau is still in traction from an auto accident on Dec. 18, in which the Senator’s wife and daughter were killed. (AP Photo/Brian Horton)

Also this weekend, BB King’s funeral draws hundreds as Obama says country ‘has lost a legend’ | US news | The Guardian

2713e7da2899d54cf107ac4964b60e3dHundreds of people filled a church in the Mississippi Delta for the funeral on Saturday of BB King, who rose from sharecropper in the area’s flat cotton fields to worldwide fame as a blues singer and guitarist who influenced generations of entertainers.

King was 89 when he died on 14 May in Las Vegas. At his request, his body was returned to his native Mississippi for a final homecoming.

Amid rain, about 500 people filled the sanctuary of Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church, a red brick structure that sits in a field off of BB King Road in Indianola. More than 200 people who couldn’t get into the sanctuary watched a live broadcast of the funeral in the church’s fellowship hall, many waving hand-held fans with a black-and-white photo of a smiling King hugging his black electric guitar, Lucille.

At the beginning of the service, family members filed past King’s open casket, which had an image of Lucille embroidered on the padded white cloth inside the lid. Later, the casket was closed and covered with a large arrangement of red roses.

The Reverend Herron Wilson, who delivered the eulogy, said King proved people can triumph over difficult circumstances.

5d47a8ede4486e27334c362547d9eff8“Hands that once picked cotton would someday pick guitar strings on a national and international stage. Amazing,” Wilson said.

[…]

More than 4,000 people viewed his open casket Friday at the BB King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola.

One of his sons, Willie King of Chicago, said his father taught him to respond with love when others are angry.

“For a man coming out of the cotton field unlearned and you take his music and draw four corners of the world together – that is amazing,” Willie King said on Friday at the museum, where his father will be buried.

King’s public viewing Friday was almost like a state funeral, with Mississippi Highway Patrol officers in dress uniform standing at each end of the casket. Two of his black electric guitars stood among sprays of flowers.

b829586fd1df341cc0dd4de534c05408Before we get to some other links on police shootings…I want to put this link here, it is something that is making news this morning: Photo Raises Doubts About Police Shooting of Jermaine McBean – NBC News

After Florida police shot Jermaine McBean to death as he walked home with an unloaded air rifle, they said there was no reason to believe he did not hear their orders to drop the weapon and that he pointed it at them.

But a newly emerged photo that shows headphones in McBean’s ears immediately after the 2013 shooting raises questions about the police version of events, including why the white earbuds were later found stuffed in the dead computer expert’s pocket.

And another aspect of the police account is also being contradicted — by a man who called 911 in alarm when he saw McBean walking around with the air rifle but who also says McBean never pointed it at police or anyone else.

Michael Russell McCarthy, 58, told NBC News that McBean had the Winchester Model 1000 Air Rifle balanced on his shoulders behind his neck, with his hand over both ends, and was turning around to face police when one officer began shooting.

“He [McBean] couldn’t have fired that gun from the position he was in. There was no possible way of firing it and at the same time hitting something,” McCarthy said. “I kind of blame myself, because if I hadn’t called it might not have happened.”


Jermaine McBean shortly after he was fatally shot by police in Oakland Park, Fla., on July 31, 2013, while carrying an unloaded air rifle. Police say he ignored their orders to drop the weapon and was not wearing headphones; his family’s lawyer says this picture, taken by a witness, shows that was false.Courtesy David Schoen

If you look at the full image, at the link above, you can see where the gun ended up as well…

a8907210cdaf20d9e77562ade5a83a88I think this is relevant since a new report has come out: U.S. police have shot dead 385 people in five months: Washington Post | Reuters

U.S. police have shot and killed 385 people during the first five months of this year, a rate of more than two a day, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

The death rate is more than twice that tallied by the federal government over the past decade, a count that officials concede is incomplete, the newspaper said.

The analysis is based on data the Post is compiling on every fatal shooting by police in 2015, as well as of every officer killed by gunfire in the line of duty.

“We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information,” said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving law enforcement.

The Post analysis comes as a national debate is raging over the police use of deadly force, especially against minorities.

Federal Bureau of Investigation records over the past decade show about 400 fatal police shootings a year, or an average of 1.1 deaths a day. Reporting of shootings by police agencies is voluntary.

But the Post’s analysis indicates the daily death toll for 2015 is close to 2.6 as of Friday. At that pace, police will have shot and killed nearly 1,000 people by the end of the year, the paper said.

09276b1d3e4d22c6bdeb894a63b275a6Geez. Here are a few of the highlights…

Among unarmed victims, two-thirds were black or Hispanic.

Based on census numbers for the areas where the killings took place, blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities.

[…]

Three of the 385 fatal shootings have resulted in an officer being charged with a crime.

What can be said in response to that article? I mean, we know what needs to be done, but when you see the statistics represented as such, and then see proof that police are covering up their killings…I do feel like throwing up.

Uh, some more stats for ya: Black Women in San Francisco Are Nearly 50% of City’s Female Arrests, and Only 6% of the Female Population | Alternet

According to a new report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice African-American women in San Francisco account for 50% of the female arrests, but only make up 6% of the female population.

ab3619032cd28c5d027d6274d37ce119 (1)The difference between Black female and non-black female arrests are four times higher than the rest of California. This rate has gone up sharply in San Francisco: in 1980, the arrest disparity between black women and non-black women was 4.1 percent, which is less than one-third of 2013’s racial disparity.

Get the link to the full report at the alternet link above.

Moving on to Bernie Sanders. It seems he wrote some shitty article about, well: Shakesville: On Bernie Sanders’ 1972 Essay

So, a Mother Jones profile of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders dug up, among other things, an essay Sanders penned in 1972 for an alternative newspaper called the Vermont Freeman. Titled “Man—and Woman,” the piece is an exploration of gender roles written in a ’70s pop-psych milieu, and it describes a man in a couple fantasizing about abusing women while having sex with a female partner who is fantasizing about being raped; invokes a hypothetical newspaper article about a preteen girl being gang-raped; and references the woman having a “sex friend when you were 13 years old.”

db8c136e2fc874f2aea861e98ba5ee99I find this disturbing in so many ways. But then, y’all know my reasons.

This is a longish quote from the essay and some thoughts from the Shakesville blog…warning, it is fucked up shit. (the quote)

A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy. A woman on her knees, a woman tied up, a woman abused.

A woman enjoys intercourse with her man—as she fantasizes being raped by 3 men simultaneously.

The man and woman get dressed up on Sunday—and go to Church, or maybe to their “revolutionary” political meeting.

Have you ever looked at the Stag, Man, Hero, Tough magazines on the shelf of your local bookstore? Do you know why the newspapers with the articles like “Girl 12 raped by 14 men” sell so well? To what in us are they appealing?

Women, for their own preservation, are trying to pull themselves together. And it’s necessary for all of humanity that they do so. Slavishness on one hand breeds pigness on the other hand. Pigness on one hand breeds slavishness on the other. Men and women—both are losers. Women adapt themselves to fill the needs of men, and men adapt themselves to fill the needs of women. In the beginning there were strong men who killed the animals and brought home the food—and the dependent women who cooked it. No More! Only the roles remain—waiting to be shaken off. There are no “human” oppressors. Oppressors have lost their humanity. On one hand “slavishness,” on the other hand “pigness.” Six of one, half dozen of the other. Who wins?

Many women seem to be walking a tightrope now. Their qualities of love, openness, and gentleness were too deeply enmeshed with qualities of dependency, subservience, and masochism. How do you love—without being dependent? How do you be gentle—without being subservient? How do you maintain a relationship without giving up your identity and without getting strung out? How do you reach out and give your heart to your lover, but maintain the soul which is you?

278f086295c76115ae76f91d5ba276ccAnd Men. Men are in pain too. They are thinking, wondering. What is it they want from a woman? Are they at fault? Are they perpetrating this man-woman situation? Are they oppressors?

The man is bitter.

“You lied to me,” he said. (She did).

“You said that you loved me, that you wanted me, that you needed me. Those are your words.” (They are).

“But in reality,” he said, “if you ever loved me, or wanted me, or needed me (all of which I’m not certain was ever true), you also hated me. You hated me—just as you have hated every man in your entire life, but you didn’t have the guts to tell me that. You hated me before you ever saw me, even though I was not your father, or your teacher, or your sex friend when you were 13 years old, or your husband. You hated me not because of who I am, or what I was to you, but because I am a man. You did not deal with me as a person—as me. You lived a lie with me, used me and played games with me—and that’s a piggy thing to do.”

Marilyn

Marilyn

And she said, “You wanted me not as a woman, or a lover, or a friend, but as a submissive woman, or submissive friend, or submissive lover; and right now where my head is I balk at even the slightest suspicion of that kind of demand.”

And he said, “You’re full of __________.”

And they never again made love together (which they had each liked to do more than anything) or never ever saw each other one more time.

After I read this last night, my thoughts were: One, 1972 is a long-ass time ago, but Sanders was also 31 years old in 1972. Not exactly a kid. Two, I had no desire to see Sanders “crucified” over it, as became the charge against anyone who raised concerns about it. Basically I just wanted him to say, “That was super fucked up and indefensible and I regret it.” Three, asking a man to repudiate troubling attitudes about women/sexual assault isn’t an attack. It’s a request to (maybe) reestablish trust. And four, that shouldn’t be a big deal, since people who genuinely believe they fucked up generally don’t mind saying so.

Melissa is being generous if you ask me….I’ve got some serious issues with this shit. But let’s continue:

But Sanders took a different route. Through a campaign spokesperson, the essay was described as a “dumb attempt at dark satire in an alternative publication.”

Step One: Call it satire. Step Two: Call us humorless.

The spokesman further explained: “When Bernie got into this race, he understood that there would be efforts to distracts voters and the press from the real issues confronting the nation today.”

8d0e2570600b7344929065b3043ec77aWell, not for nothing, pal, but male politicians seeking higher office who have loathsome ideas about women, gender roles, and sexual violence is one of “the real issues confronting the nation today.” Which is why I was hoping that Sanders would take seriously the concerns raised about some of the language used in that piece.

The truth is, I’m way more angry about that response than I was about the fucking essay.

Oh yeah, I agree with Melissa here…she is fucking right about this. For the “spokesman” asshole to dismiss the real issue here, only goes to show that what ever disgusting misogynist perverted sexist pedo shit Sanders was selling back in 1972, it still on the sale rack in 2015.

Now for some other disgusting crap being slung about…this time it is in the name of Christians, via Digby:

fce07c4517963a31fd284292aadb8c5a“Abuse is the new racism”

That comes from a conservative Christian writer who isn’t suggesting that abuse is a problem or even that it’s real. He’s saying that the people who are accused of abuse, like those who are accused of racism, are the real victims:

A conservative Quiverfull writer with ties to the Duggars has come out swinging in defense of the “19 Kids & Counting” stars, posting a series of outraged Facebook posts praising the family in spite of an ongoing sexual abuse scandal.

In the posts, which were first cited by watchdog group Homeschoolers Anonymous, homeschooling activist Rick Boyer — also the author of the Jim Bob Duggar-endorsed book “Take Back the Land” — asserted that the reality-show family appropriately handled allegations of incest and assault by eldest son Josh Duggar, and that they do not deserve to be criticized.

6be337bc688d7d63d00b22e11c0291c3“‘Abuse’ is the new ‘racism,’” Boyer, who also sits on the board of the Home Educators Association of Virginia, wrote. “As soon as you’re accused of it, you’re considered guilty. Just what would you like the Duggars to have done? Turn all their kids over to a godless psychologist? Maybe one supplied by the local public school system where ‘abuse’ is so unheard of? Should they have skinned Josh alive, rolled him in salt and hung him on a meathook?”

These people.

Another look at the same topic: When “Religion” Is Just Bigotry | The Mahablog

Conservative Christians live to feel persecuted. It’s what inspires them to get up in the morning.

 

d90703782a5f895a015c3ac9bd715940You know, Fox News has been on top of the Duggar story since the beginning. Not. Guess how much time Fox News has spent covering the Duggar scandal – Salon.com -If you answered “Less than 2 minutes,” you are correct!

This post is getting long and I am getting tired. The rest in dump-o-links.
Lawsuit Accuses Texas of Denying Birth Certificates to U.S.-Born Children | The Bob and Chez Show | News and Politics Podcast and Blog

WATCH: Mississippi racists call woman a n****r in Walmart parking lot — because it’s a day that ends in ‘day’

New book explores link between emotions and contemporary racial violence

Abortion: Pro-choice outpolls pro-life for first time in 7 years – POLITICO

Lighthearted Reality Show Sends Czech Family To Nazi Summer Camp | Wonkette

Eschaton: I Do Not Think This Is A Good Idea

These next two links go together:

8484936f7d00f8f7f7094aae354cec24With lots of love and money, Tampa’s historic gems keep shining | Tampa Bay Times

Raul Lavin entered the world nearly a century ago as a member of the Cuban Club.

Lavin, 98, the club’s oldest member, said his parents signed him up the month before he was born. That entitled him to 60 days of free membership, a great gift in those times, he said.

“The first thing cigar makers ever did was pay the dues to the club.”

That’s because the club provided many of the joys and necessities of life: fellowship, theater, dancing, the neighborhood bar, doctor visits, pharmacy, hospitalization and burial.

The Cuban Club, Italian Club and Centro Asturiano, where Spanish immigrants gathered, stand as Tampa gems, looking like grand mansions built by railroad barons of the era. These elaborate edifices, all built between 1914 and 1918 to replace original buildings, housed America’s first mutual aid societies, forerunners to health maintenance organizations. Celebrated architect M. Leo Elliott designed or helped design each building, all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A rescue effort led by descendants of the early members saved the buildings. The Cuban and Italian clubs were in such decay by the 1980s that pigeons, entering through broken windows, roosted in once-glittering ballrooms. Fund raisers and grants enabled the members to put millions into renovating them.

85bf0b9c93e420498a68a90b0202e3e8These clubs were such an important part of my family. My mother was born in the old Centro Asturiano Hospital.

Centro Asturiano never deteriorated to the degree of the other two buildings because members raised the money to make improvements as needed over the years, said president Frank Menendez.

Another early club, organized by black Cuban immigrants who felt the full sting of the Jim Crow American South, did not fare so well. The Marti-Maceo Society’s red brick club house on Seventh Avenue, built in 1907 with arched doors and windows and a high wraparound balcony outside, fell to the wrecking ball of urban renewal in 1965.

Sharon Gomez, president of the club — named for Jose Marti and celebrated black Cuban Gen. Antonio Maceo Grajales — said a lawyer member led a failed effort to save the old building. Members moved to a modest replacement on Seventh Avenue near the western gate of Ybor City. Like the other clubs, Marti-Maceo rents out the facility for private gatherings.

Not many of those involved in the rescue of the old buildings remember the time when cigar factories were smoking and the clubs were the center of life. Cuban Club president Patrick Manteiga, 51, for example, is too young. Manteiga, editor of La Gaceta, remembers the building only as a rental venue; as a teenager, he helped the organizers of the popular Artists & Writers Balls in the early 1980s.

All the clubs have lost members over the years, he said, just as service clubs like Optimist or Elks have.

“They just aren’t a necessary part of life.”

They were vital in the beginning, when “Latins in non-Latin parts of town were not very welcome,” he said. Depending on the club, within its confines members could bowl, play handball, work out, take a dip in an indoor pool and meet friends in the cantina for card games and dominoes.

157adbfedc928bcf0a495216a6ff61beNow, only Centro Asturiano’s cantina is open to a few older members who gather daily for dominoes and cards. It’s a small space on the second floor. When the club had 6,000 members, the cantina was a cavernous room on the ground floor. There, the magnificent, 42-foot marble and onyx bar — the longest of its kind in the world, Menendez says — is open only when the room is rented.

Immigrants took great pride in these buildings, which served as their country clubs. Joe Caltagirone, 89, historian for the Italian Club, said his grandfather would come home from work on a farm, bathe, eat dinner, put on a coat and tie and go to the club.

“My grandfather would not be caught dead in there without a tie and coat.”

[…]

For Lavin, the best time at the Cuban Club was right after World War II. The cigar factories were still bustling and so was the club, bringing in star band leaders such as Cab Calloway and Count Basie.

The club put on elaborate productions of light operettas like The Merry Widow, with lavish gowns for the women, elegant uniforms and cutaways on the men.

“Every Sunday, the Cuban Club theater would get full,” Lavin said.

“It was a beautiful period.”

A few pictures…

The Cuban Club:

images

cubanclub_w640

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Centro Asturiano:

Photo 34_Centro Asturiano Tampa

 

B29-00018555

A5aPLSdCMAALP-u.jpg large

 

The Italian Club:

 

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Centro Espanol of West Tampa:

Photo173434

 

 

Centro Espanol started mutual aid society movement | Tampa Bay Times

The club that started the mutual aid society movement is now a group of about 60 whose two clubhouses were sold to other entities.

4967442725_43e8769b7a_b

Centro Espanol Ybor City

 

Spanish immigrants led by Ignacio Haya — whose factory beat Vicente Martinez Ybor’s in turning out Tampa’s first hand-rolled cigar — formed Centro Espanol in 1891. It grew to nearly 3,000 people in its heyday. In 1912, the club built the large brick structure that still bears its name at 1536 E Seventh Ave. in Ybor City. Designed by Francis J. Kennard in a mix of Spanish, Moorish and French Renaissance styles, the building has been designated a U.S. national historic landmark. It’s now occupied by the Carne ChopHouse restaurant.

By the way, here is a picture of Jose Marti at Ybor’s cigar factory 1893:

martientampa

This next story is ridiculous, and I think it is fucking laughable that the father was not arrested. Georgia woman shackled over son’s school absences: Reports | www.ajc.com

a8a69479937aad70af98a71241ffcf0bA Georgia woman likely faces probation after she was arrested and put in ankle shackles earlier this month because of her son’s school absences, according to People.

Julie Giles, of Screven County, said she was arrested after her son had six more unexcused absences than the school system allows, in part because he is frequently ill and Giles does not have the money to take him to the doctor.

“As all of you know, my boys being sick often is nothing new. … The truth is, l cannot afford a copay every single time they are sick, but I never want to send them to school when they feel bad or could possibly get others sick,” she wrote on Facebook on May 12. “I have NEVER been in trouble before in my life and the boys are beside themselves.”

Giles was booked on May 14 and released within minutes, according to the Screven County Jail. She was charged with one count of failure to comply with mandatory attendance.

65b9880cee477d16e6c529ebfd8be86bShe posted that day to say she had been shackled by the ankles when she turned herself in. Screven County Sheriff Mike Kile confirmed this to People, but said the shackling is standard procedure during any arrest.

A GoFundMe has been set up for Giles. As of this writing, $710 has been raised out of a $2,500 goal.

Giles will likely receive probation, Kile told People.

She is one of  12 people this school year referred to the court for student truancy, Screven County Schools Superintendent William Bland said in an email.

Giles’ husband, Keith, was not arrested, according to the New York Daily News. The school system report that was first filed with the sheriff’s office names only the person who enrolled the truant student, Bland said.

 

M28949-1b 001

M28949-1b 001

Read more about this shit at the link.

It even made the Foreign press: Sylvania teacher arrested following ‘THREE unexcused absences by son’ | Daily Mail Online

Finally some good news: Calif. high school has 100 percent college acceptance rate – NY Daily News

A California high school has beat the odds, sending all its graduating seniors off to college for the seventh straight year, despite being located in a neighborhood riddled with crime and plagued with gangs.

0bb0ff6f2bf8242a341e98ba53541568“It’s not Beverly Hills by any stretch,” said Paul Hosch, vice president of mission advancement at Verbum Dei High School, which boasts a 100 percent college acceptance rate.

“The neighborhoods that surround the students are underserved. There are very few grocery stores. There are lots of gangs. It’s not a place most people would want to raise their kids,” he added.

This is an open thread, and have a good Sunday.


Tuesday Reads: A Little Bit of This and That

mishmash

Good Morning!

Texas has been experiencing really bad weather for the past few days. From the Houston Chronicle:

Texas storms leave multiple dead, 12 missing.

Recovery teams were resuming the search early Tuesday for 12 members of two families who are missing after a rain-swollen river in Central Texas carried a vacation home off its foundation, slamming it into a bridge downstream.

The hunt for the missing picked up after a holiday weekend of terrible storms that dumped record rainfall on the Plains and Midwest, caused major flooding and spawned tornadoes and killed at least eight people in Oklahoma and Texas. More than 1,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed in Texas, and thousands of residents are displaced.

Authorities were also searching for victims and assessing damage just across the Texas-Mexico border in Ciudad Acuna, where a tornado Monday killed 13 people and left at least five unaccounted for.

Scene from Houston last night

Scene from Houston last night

More on the flooding in Houston from the Chronicle: Heavy rains flood freeways, close schools, delays bus service.

Houston motorists woke Tuesday morning to swamped freeways and closed roads as heavy thunderstorms raked the region overnight, making the morning commute dangerous and even impossible for most.

The 610 Loop as well as Katy, North and South freeways were underwater in spots throughout the area. Other major roads blocked by high water include Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway near downtown.

No injuries have been reported, but dozens of vehicles were stranded in high water throughout the city. In many cases, the water came up to to the driver’s side windows of the abandoned cars, Other vehicles are almost submerged.

Firefighters with the Houston Fire Department were dispatched to several water rescues throughout the city. Areas along Brays Bayou near the 610 Loop were particularly hard hit with several rescues during the early morning hours Tuesday. Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway are closed.

According to the National Weather Service homes were reportedly flooded in the Larchmont subdivision about six miles southwest of the city early Tuesday morning. Some homes in Rosenberg were threaetened as more than three feet of water rose in the Greenwood subdivision a few hours before dawn Tuesday.

See some amazing photos posted on Twitter at News.Mic: 17 Photos of the Devastating Floods That Hit Houston. More photos at ABC 13. The Weather Channel is providing live updates.

Houston flooding

Houston flooding

NBC News reports that other states could be affected by the storms: Houston, Texas, Hit by Unprecedented Flooding; Seven States At Risk.

Flash-flood watches and warnings were issued across seven states early Tuesday as an unprecedented downpour of torrential rain triggered “extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening” conditions in Houston.

More than 30 million Americans were told to brace for dangerous thunderstorms — including flooding, hail and possible tornadoes — as meteorologists warned the weather that has centered on Texas and Oklahoma since Saturday could expand to other areas.

At least 12 people were still missing, eight people have been killed, and countless more evacuated amid the deluge that has inundated Texas and Oklahoma with record-breaking floods since Saturday.

In Houston, more than 80,000 people were without power and the flood waters closed roads including Interstate 10 and Interstate 45. Houston was among 24 counties where Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster on Monday.

I hope RalphB and his family are safe. Dakinikat could also be in the path of the damaging weather. New Orleans is expecting thunderstorms for the next few days.

In other news, there has been a shooting at a Walmart in Grand Forks, North Dakota–where the University of North Dakota is located. My Dad got his Masters degree there.

Scene outside Grand Forks Walmart early this morning

Scene outside Grand Forks Walmart early this morning

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports: 2 fatally shot inside Grand Forks Wal-Mart; Air Force member involved.

The shooting occurred shortly before 1:05 a.m. in the supercenter store on 32nd Avenue, just east of Interstate 29, according to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) near Grand Forks.

Grand Forks police said officers discovered “multiple victims” inside the store and one of them was taken to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks for injuries that are not considered life-threatening.

The AFOSI said there were three people involved and one was an airman. The base is about 20 miles west of the store.

Neither police nor Air Force personnel released details about whether the airman was the shooter or one of the victims. There is also no immediate information about what prompted the violence, but Deputy Police Chief Mike Ferguson added, “the Police Department does not believe there is any further on-going immediate public safety risk at this time.”

There isn’t a lot of information about the incident as yet. From the Fargo Forum: 

In a press conference at the Grand Forks Police Department, Zimmel said there was no active shooting when officers arrived on scene.

Zimmel said at this time, police believe the shooter is among the dead. Only one person involved in the incident is believed to have had a gun, Zimmel said.

Police are still investigating the motive behind the shooting, whether it was targeted or random….

Andy Legg, who was in the store at the time, told a WDAZ reporter he heard “popping sounds” going off in the store and that he and a group of customers were herded to a section of the store by authorities. Legg said he and the group later exited the building passing a Walmart employee covered in blood. Legg says he’s not sure of the person’s condition but that it “didn’t look good.”

Shortly after 4 a.m., a police SWAT team, using a special robot, began searching a car in the parking lot.

Johnson

Remember Charles C. “Chuck” Johnson, the right wing a-hole and twitter troll? His account has once again been suspended by Twitter after he threatened activist Deray Mckessen. From re/code:

Notorious Twitter troll Chuck Johnson was placed in time-out Sunday — at least temporarily — and it looks as though the company’s new policy on violent threats was the reason.

Twitter suspended Johnson, who has a long history of Internet trolling, for what appears to be a threat against civil rights activist DeRay McKesson. Johnson tweeted this morning asking people to donate money for “taking out” McKesson, who responded, saying that he took Johnson’s comments as a “serious threat.”

The account suspension is nothing new for Johnson. But what’s worth noting is that this appears to be an example of Twitter’s new policy on threats coming into play. The company changed the policy’s wording last month so that it no longer included phrases like “direct” and “specific.” Essentially, those qualifiers were limiting the types of tweets Twitter could act upon.

Not anymore. This looks like the kind of threat that may have slipped through the system a few months back. So this is good for Twitter, a company that has struggled mightily when dealing with bullying and threats.

A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on Johnson’s suspension, so there’s no way of knowing how long he’ll be blocked from the service.

From Raw Story: ‘Hate is organized in America': Black activist fights back after death threats from pro-cop blogger.

In a statement to Re/code, Johnson accused Twitter of “censorship.”

“I was speaking metaphorically about exposing DeRay in much the same way Slate was speaking metaphorically when they talked about ‘taking out’ a Supreme Court justice,” he wrote.

But in an interview with CNN on Monday, Mckesson said that Johnson should have known better.

“For someone who considers themselves a journalist, I firmly believe that he understands the power of his words,” Mckesson explained. “And his words are his words. ‘Take out’ functions in a certain way. And if I got on any media outlet and said something to the effect of ‘take out the police,’ nobody would think that I was talking about an exposé.”

“I was proud that Twitter took the action to move so quickly, and remember that racism doesn’t exist only in the extremes,” he continued. “It’s not just slavery and the n-word. It functions in these subtle ways too. He, again, knew very clearly what he was doing by using this language.”

29-deray-mckesson-wolf-blitzer.w529.h529.2x

And from Pando Daily’s David Holmes: Here’s the remarkable letter Chuck Johnson’s attorney sent to Twitter threatening legal action.

For at least the fourth time in his sad, shameful, misogynist, racist career, Twitter has suspended the rightwing blogger Chuck Johnson….

…Johnson is outraged over the suspension, tweeting under a new account @citizentrolling– which a few minutes prior to my writing this sentence has now also been suspended — that Twitter is guilty of “censorship” and writing that the company’s enforcement of its policies exhibits a clear political bias against rightwingers like himself.

“Twitter doesn’t seem to have a problem with people using their service to coordinate riots,” Johnson wrote. “But they do have a problem with the kind of journalism I do.”

I’m struggling to know where to begin in describing the lunacy of Johnson’s argument. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t engage at all with Johnson who has failed to build a career through producing quality journalism or analysis and instead — in what must be an overwhelmingly sad discovery — has found that the only thing anyone will pay him for anymore is to spew hatred at the most vulnerable members of society, in particular rape victims. But his complaints raise some important misconceptions about Twitter, free speech, and who controls what can or can’t be said in the new digital content paradigm.

Now it appears that Johnson is threatening legal action against Twitter for loss of income that would otherwise be generated by his hateful tweets. Johnson emailed me the letter his attorneys sent to Twitter demanding the reinstatement of his accounts, attached in full below. What makes it so absurd is the notion that Twitter is somehow guilty of “censorship” or that the company owes him a living.

Read the letter at the Pando link.

Sigh . . .  When will “journalists” finally figure out that Hillary Clinton is a separate person from her husband and there is no reason for her to feel bound by decisions Bill Clinton made back in the 1990s?

Melinda Henneberger at Bloomberg Politics: Will Hillary Clinton Run Against Her Husband’s Welfare Legacy? I’m not even going to quote from the article. It’s just a rehash of 20-year-old events. Get a clue, Melinda. Hillary is not Bill, and over the past 20 years there has been a lot of water under the bridge. Hillary is not bound by things she or her husband said and did in the distant past.

Some Duggar updates:

Anna and Josh Duggar

Anna and Josh Duggar

Raw Story: GOP ally suggests criminal charges for police chief who released Duggar sex abuse report.

State Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) told KSFM-TV that Kathy O’Kelley, chief of the Springdale police, had harmed Duggar’s sisters and other girls he admitted to fondling as they slept in 2002, when he was 14 years old.

“The law to protect minors’ identities is not a suggestion,” Hester said. “So sad to see the person charged with protecting the community being so reckless and irresponsible. I believe it is unavoidable that the Springdale police chief should be terminated. She has re-victimized these young ladies.”

I guess Hester hasn’t heard of the Freedom of Information Act.

“From every indication I have, the chief and city attorney reluctantly did what they had to do to comply with the state (freedom of information) law,” said Dough Sprouse, the Springdale Mayor.

Hester, sponsor of an Arkansas bill similar to Indiana’s anti-LGBT “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” wondered whether other sex abuse victims should worry that O’Kelley would publicize their identities.

Like he cares even an iota about abuse victims. Give me a break!

Us Weekly: Anna Duggar Shared Cryptic Quote About Forgiveness Days Before Josh Duggar Molestation Allegations Surfaced.

Days before news broke of Josh Duggar allegedly molesting five girls back when he was a teen, the 19 Kids and Counting star’s pregnant wife Anna Duggar shared a cryptic quote about forgiveness with her Instagram followers.

“The three most beautiful and liberating words in the English language are these,” the mother of three wrote on May 17, quoting pastor Lon Solomon on her page. “‘I forgive you.'” (Solomon, a senior pastor at a Virginia megachurch, is the author of a book titled Brokenness: How God Redeems Pain and Suffering.)

Well, she apparently knew all about Josh’s history and still decided to have children with him.

Finally, from TMZ: Josh Duggar Cracks Molestation Joke. Dating Family Is What We Do!

Back in 2008 — long before Duggar’s molestation past came to light — he made a quip during an episode of what was then called “17 Kids and Counting.”

Josh describes a double date scenario with his then-fiancée Anna … he ended up going with 2 of his siblings.

Josh explains, “We chose Jana and John David. We thought why not, have a double date … We are from Arkansas!”

He then broke out in laughter.

Not so funny now …

Not funny then either, IMHO.

So . . . what else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!