Posted: July 3, 2014 Filed under: Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Crime, Discrimination against women, Domestic terrorism, Feminists, fetus fetishists, GLBT Rights, morning reads, Religious Conscience, religious extremists, Reproductive Health, Republican politics, right wing hate grouups
Today’s beautiful messages and images can be found here.
The reactionary and wildly creative decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are already having ramifications across the country where women, minorities, and the GLBT community are having to fight for their very basic rights. Interestingly enough, we are learning about which corporations want to be citizens and which corporations want to exist for the sole benefits of their owners.
The Hobby Lobby decision is already creating chaos as Notorious RBG and many of us have discussed.
This week, in the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court ruled that a religious employer could not be required to provide employees with certain types of contraception. That decision is beginning to reverberate: A group of faith leaders is urging the Obama administration to include a religious exemption in a forthcoming LGBT anti-discrimination action.
Their call, in a letter sent to the White House Tuesday, attempts to capitalize on the Supreme Court case by arguing that it shows the administration must show more deference to the prerogatives of religion.
“We are asking that an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need,” the letter states.
The Hobby Lobby decision has been welcomed by religious-right groups who accuse Obama of waging a war on religion. But Tuesday’s letter is different: It comes from a group of faith leaders who are generally friendly to the administration, many of whom have closely advised the White House on issues like immigration reform. The letter was organized by Michael Wear, who worked in the Obama White House and directed faith outreach for the president’s 2012 campaign. Signers include two members of Catholics for Obama and three former members of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
“This is not an antagonistic letter by any means,” Wear told me. But in the wake of Hobby Lobby, he said, “the administration does have a decision to make whether they want to recalibrate their approach to some of these issues.”
This decision is controversial and will remain controversial. It changes how the government can approach the court’s favored religion and possibly other religions.
The first source of controversy is the collapse of a national consensus on a key element of religious liberty: accommodation. Throughout American history, there has been widespread agreement that in our religiously diverse and widely devout country, it is good for the government to accommodate religious exercise. We have disagreed about particular accommodations (may a Muslim police officer wear a beard, despite police department policy?), and especially about whether religious accommodations should be ordered by judges or crafted by legislators. But we have generally agreed that our nation benefits when we help rather than burden those with religious obligations. That consensus seems, quite suddenly, to have evaporated.
A second source of controversy is that many people view the Hobby Lobby case as concerning not just reproductive rights but also, indirectly, rights for gays and lesbians. Advocates for same-sex marriage have long insisted that their own marriages need not threaten anyone else’s, but citizens with religious objections to same-sex marriage wonder whether that is entirely true: Will a small-business owner be sued, for instance, for declining to provide services to a same-sex couple? Conversely, and understandably, gay and lesbian couples wonder why they do not deserve the same protections from discrimination granted to racial and other minorities. For both sides, Hobby Lobby was merely a prelude to this dawning conflict.
The third source of controversy is a change in our views of the marketplace itself. The marketplace was once seen as place to put aside our culture wars and engage in the great American tradition of buying and selling. The shopping mall has even been called the “American agora.” But today the market itself has become a site of cultural conflict. Hobby Lobby is one of many companies that seek to express faith commitments at work as well as at home and that don’t see the workplace as a thing apart from religion. Many companies preach and practice values, religious and otherwise, that are unrelated to market considerations. CVS, for example, recently announced that it would stop selling tobacco products, regardless of how that decision might affect its bottom line.
A country that cannot even agree on the idea of religious accommodation, let alone on what terms, is unlikely to agree on what to do next
Here’s another group of “patriotic, gawd-fearing” amuricans shouting down children and mothers fleeing violence in our neighbor countries. I just continue to find this to be the most appalling story I’ve heard in some time. The Border Patrol, ICE, and every one involved–but these horrible xenophobes–were just following our laws as written. Perhaps, they should know our laws just a little bit better themselves.
The national controversy over a surge of Central American immigrants illegally crossing the U.S. border established a new battleground this week in a Southern California small town where angry crowds thwarted detained migrants from entering their community.
In a faceoff Tuesday with three buses carrying the migrants behind screened-off windows, the demonstrators chanted “Go back home!” and “USA” and successfully forced the coaches to leave Murrieta, CNN affiliate KFMB reported.
The buses instead took the 140 or so undocumented immigrants to U.S. processing centers at least 80 miles away, in the San Diego and El Centro areas, federal officials say.
Counter-protesters squared off with the demonstrators, and a shouting match erupted over the nation’s immigration system, which recently has been overwhelmed with a tide of Central American minors illegally entering the United States alone or with other children.
A mix of poverty, violence and smugglers’ false promises is prompting the Central American inflow.
Unlike undocumented Mexican migrants, who are often immediately deported, the U.S. government detains and processes the Central Americans, who are eventually released and given a month to report to immigration offices. Many never show up and join the nation’s 11 million undocumented population, says the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing Border Patrol agents.
The Latin American immigrants rejected by Murrieta protesters were initially held in Texas, where U.S. facilities are so overflowing that detainees are sent to other states for processing.
The government doesn’t have the room to shelter the children with adults: there’s only one family immigration detention center, in Pennsylvania. To assist the unaccompanied children, President Barack Obama’s administration opened shelters last month on three military bases because federal facilities more designed for adults were overrun with minors.
Tuesday’s busloads of detained Central American immigrants didn’t include any unaccompanied minors, said Murrieta Police Chief Sean Hadden, who put the number of protesters at 125. The children on the buses were apparently in the company of relatives or other adults, said an official with the National Border Patrol Council.
Meanwhile, yet another corporation has decided that open carry of assault weapons in their stores may not create the most hospitable environment for employees or shoppers. Target has joined other companies asking customers to leave their guns at home,
The leadership team has been weighing a complex issue, and I want to be sure everyone understands our thoughts and ultimate decision.
As you’ve likely seen in the media, there has been a debate about whether guests in communities that permit “open carry” should be allowed to bring firearms into Target stores. Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so. But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law.
We’ve listened carefully to the nuances of this debate and respect the protected rights of everyone involved. In return, we are asking for help in fulfilling our goal to create an atmosphere that is safe and inviting for our guests and team members.
This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.
Meanwhile, over in Georgia, the new flout your gun every where has lead to just what you’d expect.
A “misunderstanding” between two armed men in a Georgia convenience store led to an arrest on the very day that the state’s new expansive gun rights law went into effect, according to The Valdosta Daily Times.
Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress summed the incident up for the newspaper.
“Essentially, it involved one customer with a gun on his hip when a second customer entered with a gun on his hip,” Childress said.
According to the Daily Times, the first man, Ronald Williams, approached the second man in the store and demanded to see his identification and firearms license. Williams also pulled his gun from his holster, without pointing it at the second man. The second man responded by saying that he was not obligated to show any permits or identification — then he paid for his purchase, left the store, and called the police.
Police responded to the call around 3 p.m. Tuesday, and Williams was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct for pulling his gun in the store.
Tuesday was also the day that Georgia’s so-called “guns everywhere” law went into effect, allowing residents to carry guns into bars, nightclubs, classrooms, and certain government buildings. Among other things, the law also prohibits police from demanding to see the weapons permit of someone seen carrying a gun. Childress mentioned that last point when talking to the Daily Times about Tuesday’s incident.
“This is an example of my concern with the new gun law that people will take the law into their own hands which we will not tolerate,” Childress said.
I wanted to share a mass shooting that happened on Bourbon Street last weekend. A beautiful young woman has lost her life in the senseless violence. Another has a lot of damage to her mouth, gums and teeth. All of this happened because one young man got into an argument and his anger and his gun led to indiscriminate firing into the crowd. A total of 10 innocent bystanders were shot.
One of the 10 victims of the weekend shooting on New Orleans’ famed Bourbon Street died Wednesday.
According to the coroner’s office, Brittany Thomas, 21, of Hammond, La., died from her injuries. She is the only victim of the shooting to die.
Thomas had been in critical condition since the early Sunday morning shooting when two gunmen sprayed the crowd with bullets.
Three others were reported in stable condition after Sunday’s shooting: a 35-year-old man from Mississippi, a 19-year-old Arkansas woman and an 18-year-old New Orleans man.
Interim LSU Hospital spokeswoman Siona LaFrance said Wednesday a 21-year-old Australian woman was released from the hospital.
On Sunday, police said nine people were injured in the shooting. Then Monday, they said a person who came into the police department Sunday afternoon also was injured in the violence.
Other victims, not hospitalized, included two New Orleans-area men; a teenage girl and a woman from Alabama; and a Florida man.
The young Australian woman has a Facebook page where you can help her defray the cost of reconstruction. As of writing this, I understand that the “person” of interest has surrendered to the police. His face has been plastered every where for about a day and half.
The shooting took place about 2:45 a.m. Sunday on Bourbon Street and involved “two young men, both armed with firearms, who chose to settle a dispute between themselves without care for anyone else,” Police Supt. Ronal W. Serpas told reporters. They exchanged gunfire, hitting bystanders, he said. Bourbon Street, a hot spot for tourists, is full of bars, restaurants and shops.
This young man’s callous regard for life should land him in jail for a very long time. We’ll see what happens. The suspect is a young white man and the dead girl is a young black woman.
According to the New Orleans Police Department, two men are sought in the shooting that spawned from an argument between them.
“While everyone else was running away, I was running toward the gunfire,” Minsky said. “And, I don’t know, being a curious guy — that’s what I wanted to do — see what was going on basically.”
Minsky described the ordeal as “surreal,” saying he’d never seen multiple people get shot.
“There was a lot of blood, I can tell you that much, you know. And I actually stepped in a pool of blood and didn’t realize it until I was walking toward the person shot in the face,” Minksey said. “That kind of freaked me out a little bit.”
The victim shot in the face was Amy Matthews from Australia. The bullet struck her in her cheek and knocked out all but 10 teeth she told an Australian newspaper. She was released from the hospital this week.
In one of several photos Minsky took on his cellphone, Matthews is seen sitting on a sidewalk on Bourbon Street as a crowd of people attempted to help her, including two U.S. marines.
He also captured an image of an unresponsive woman lying in the middle of the 700 block of Bourbon Street.
During the chaotic moments after the shooting, Minsky said there weren’t many screams in the Vieux Carré.
“There was just a lot of people running around and trying to help each other,” he said. “The person that was shot in the face was probably the person getting the most attention at that immediate moment. But as far as the screams and commotion, I mean, yeah, there are people running and screaming but that all died down after the gunshots ended.”
I can’t believe that this is what the founders– many of whom I am a direct descendant of–planned for our union. How could they have envision this kind of hateful chaos empowered by the Supreme Court who represents the voice of reason, law, and constitutionality, and the House of Representatives which is supposed to be the voice of the people.. I do not find any of these events to be consistent with their dreams and plans for a more perfect union where no one religion would dictate the lives of others, where all were considered equal before the law, and every one had the ability to pursue life and liberty.
Posted: June 15, 2014 Filed under: 2014 elections, A My Pet Goat Moment, American Gun Fetish, Barack Obama, crops, Domestic terrorism, Farming, GM crops, Hillary Clinton, History, immigration, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Monsanto, morning reads, racism, Rape Culture, Real Life Horror, Republican politics, right wing hate grouups, Tea Party activists, the GOP, The Right Wing, toxic waste, U.S. Politics | Tags: Fukashima, King Lear by Sheep
Happy Father’s Day
(And that goes out to you especially Ralphie boy!)
I don’t know, but from the looks of that
old comic there ————->
…it would be safe to guess that ugly dog face men with cow ears and no bodies lurk on Channel X.
Actually, one of those things looks like Herman Munster.
Okay, seriously. This is going to be a quickie post, my internet is acting up and the service keeps freezing up on me.
Today’s post will have images of comic monsters, furry…slimy things. Monsters that are funny looking.
First up a series of news links:
From Voice of America: US Orders USS George H.W. Bush to Gulf
The United States has ordered an aircraft carrier into the Gulf in response to the crisis in Iraq.
The Pentagon spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby, says Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gave the order that the USS George H.W. Bush move from the North Arabian Sea to the Gulf Saturday.
Kirby says the order provides President Barack Obama “additional flexibility should military options be required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq.”
A guided-missile cruiser and a guided-missile destroyer will accompany the aircraft carrier.
Ugh. I will just let that go for now. Sigh.
In another development Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country is ready to help Iraq if asked, and would consider working with Tehran’s longtime foe, the United States, in fighting Sunni extremists if Washington decides to take strong action against the fighters. Iran has developed close ties in recent years with the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday his national security advisers are preparing “a range of options” for U.S. assistance to Iraq’s government as it faces an assault by al-Qaida inspired Islamist militants.
The president said the militants who have overrun parts of Iraq are a threat to the Baghdad government and people throughout the country, and pose an active threat to American interests as well. He said division among Iraq’s leadership has led to the current crisis.
According to news reports by Reuters, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the Washington’s assistance would only work if Iraqi leaders “overcame deep divisions.” The top U.S. diplomat communicated the information in a Saturday phone call with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
In India: With 4 Hangings in 2 Weeks, India’s Women Are Living in Fear | TIME
Recent cases are only the tip of an ‘endemic’ problem that runs deep in the region’s societies, says senior Amnesty researcher Divya Iyer.
Meanwhile here in the States…we have a year to date total on the number of children deported back to Mexico, via Raw Story: More than 6,000 Mexican ‘unaccompanied minors’ sent back from U.S.
More than 6,000 Mexican children and teens who crossed unaccompanied and illegally into the United States were repatriated in the first four months of this year, Mexican officials said Saturday.
In nearly all cases, the children had already been arrested at least once, and some more than five times, in attempts to cross the US border.
The children make the grueling journey of hundreds of miles (kilometers) through Mexico to escape dire economic conditions and violence in their home countries, and to join relatives in the United States.
“From January 1 to April 30, 2014, the Mexican consular network offered assistance to 6,233 unaccompanied Mexican minors… in the process of their repatriation to Mexico,” a statement from the foreign ministry said.
Of them, nearly 77 percent had been detained more than once in attempts to cross the border, and 21 percent had been previously been held more than five times.
On the domestic terrorist front:
Las Vegas gunman’s Infowars posts included speculation about killing cops – Salon.com
In the wake of Sunday’s deadly attacks in North Las Vegas, at the hands of two antigovernment “Patriot” extremists, Infowars host Alex Jones warned his listeners that the media would soon start claiming that there’s a connection between his conspiracist media operation and the killers.
As a matter of fact, Jerad Miller – the 31-year-old Indiana man who led the attack, assisted by his 22-year-old wife, Amanda – liked to post on the Infowars member forum. And he constantly promoted Infowars on his Facebook page.
In one of his Infowars posts, Miller even speculated about whether or not he should kill police officers.
“The emerging narrative in the Las Vegas shooting now includes Alex Jones,” the Infowars site complained shortly after news of the shootings broke. In short order, Jones began calling the shootings a “false flag operation” secretly staged by nefarious federal government operatives who set it up to look like it was a crime committed by domestic terrorists.
“The incident is custom-made to demonize the patriot movement,” the Infowars site claimed. “The Southern Poverty Law Center has consistently attempted to forge a link between white supremacists and members of the patriot and constitutional movements.”
Jones became downright imaginative, explaining to his listeners, in one rant, how he would go about setting up the murders if he were a government agent, and then warning that the shootings mean that “civil war is coming”. He also began assigning responsibility for the “false flag operation.” In one rant, he accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of being behind the crimes. In another, it was the work of President Obama and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Jones’ wild claims must be intended to distract from the fact that, as Media Matters reported, Miller avidly posted Infowars links on his Facebook page and urged his readers to the website – saying, in one such post, to “get informed or get stupid”.What those claims fail to explain is why, beginning in May 2012, Jerad Miller became an Infowars forum member and began posting long pieces there. In all, he appears to have published five posts, though one of them titled “A Short Story About Protesting” is no longer available.
If this man was a Muslim…and he used infowars forum to post shit regarding his plan to kill cops…then that website would be shut down. Right?
By far the most striking and disturbing of these posts is the May 28, 2012, post he titled: “The Police (to kill or not to kill?).” Most of it is devoted to him explaining at length that he’s mostly a law-abiding citizen who doesn’t steal from people, but police oppression over his marijuana business is driving him to think of violence: “I am like a wild coyote,” he wrote. “You corner me, I will fight to the death.” He continued:
I feel that I have been violated and tread upon. That the so called justice system has done me harm. I do not wish to kill police. I understand that most of them believe they are doing the right thing. Yet, I will not go to jail, because I have not committed a crime! I would rather die than be labeled as a criminal. Let them call me a terrorist. Let them label me as a fanatic, some nut job. I know the truth, and so does God. I’m sure our founding fathers were labeled as such.
It concluded with what appears in hindsight to be a conclusion:
So, do I kill cops and make a stand when they come to get me? I would prefer to die than sit in their jail, when I have done nothing to hurt anyone.
Jones is also in the news for this recent shit story: Alex Jones and gun advocate Larry Pratt: Obama training military to attack the Tea Party
Right Wing Watch reported that Pratt was appearing on Jones’ Infowars radio show when the two began to discuss the furor that surrounded a 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security that warned of a possible rise in far-right extremist violence in the United States.
Jones and Pratt declared that the DHS report was a plot against conservatives and that Pres. Obama is planning on using an obscure law passed in 2010 as justification for the use of military force against members of the Tea Party.
The conservative Washington Timesreported the story as if Obama had invented a provision of federal law that allowed for intervention by the military on domestic soil “in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible.” However, the clause is a longstanding one that has been in effect under many presidents.
Jones, however, interprets the law to be official confirmation that the U.S. military is, at this moment, “training with tanks, armored vehicles, drones” to “take on the American people, mainly the Tea Party.”
“Well, he’s certainly not thinking that Muslims are a threat,” Pratt replied, “so he’s turning to his political opponents, declaring that they’re the enemy and ignoring the fact that Muslims from time to time have a tendency to go ‘boom.’”
Geez, these assholes are the real monsters…I’m telling you!
Regarding another domestic terrorist shooting: Oregon school shooter’s journal reveals he was devout Mormon out to kill ‘sinners’
The diary of the 15-year-old Oregon high schooler who shot and killed a classmate and injured a teacher before turning the gun on himself revealed that the teen was a religious fundamentalist who was out to kill “sinners.”
According to the New York Daily News, freshman Jared Padgett was known at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Gresham, OR as being quiet, but was “highly regarded for his spirituality” by church elders.
Padgett walked into Reynolds High School last Tuesday carrying “an AR-15 type rifle, a semi-automatic handgun, ammunition and a large knife,” and opened fire, killing freshman Emilio Hoffman. Portland’s KGW reported that police found the teenager’s journal while searching through the belongings he left behind.
A police source told the TV station that Padgett did not name specific students or teachers in his plans, but was rather on a mission to cleanse the world of “sinners.”
But hey, let’s not just catch up on the killers. Check out some other classy folks, this one in Florida: Florida Mom Kidnaps Daughter to Avoid Vaccines, Learning Black History
A mother in Sunrise, Florida is now facing a federal criminal charge after disappearing with her two-year-old daughter last month in order to avoid having her vaccinated. (This served the dual purpose of keeping her from being “brainwashed” and keeping her out of school, where she might learn about black history).
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Megan Elizabeth Everett, 22, disappeared on May 6th after Robert Baumann—with whom she shares custody of their daughter, Lilly—dropped Lilly off at her home. Everett was supposed to return Lilly a week later, in compliance with a shared custody agreement, but never showed up. She instead left a note for Baumann, saying:
“You are a great dad. If I let them take her and vaccinate her and brainwash her, I wouldn’t be doing what’s right. I cannot let a judge tell me how my daughter should be raised. We will miss you. But I had to leave.”
A warrant for Everett’s arrest was issued on May 19, on charges of kidnapping, interference with custody, and concealing a minor contrary to a court order. The federal charge accused Everett of crossing state lines to avoid prosecution for the state charges.
This is probably going to end up sad…as you can imagine, Everett lived with her mother until she:
…became involved with a man named Carlos Lesters, at which point she severed ties with her family.
The Sun-Sentinel states that court documents describe Lesters as a “Confederate-flag-waving gun enthusiast with family members in Georgia and Kentucky.”
Robert Baumann, who had planned to vaccinate his daughter and enroll her in preschool the next time he had custody, said:
“One of the issues we had was, she wanted to home-school my daughter. I didn’t want that to happen. She didn’t want Lilly to learn about black history. She just wanted her to learn about the Confederacy.” … “She found this new idea that vaccines are horrible. I think she wanted to keep her from being vaccinated because that would keep her out of day care.”
After Lilly’s disappearance, Sunrise police went to her last known address, where they found Lesters. He told them that Everett and her daughter were gone and “not coming back.” The federal criminal complaint states:
“Lesters informed detectives that Everett … knew she would have to live her life as a fugitive. However, in her mind, the time that she spent with her daughter ‘free’ of Baumann would be ‘worth it,’ regardless of how brief the time was.”
Everette and Lilly are still missing…(Updated to include picture of Everette and Lilly.)
More GOP crazy, only with a touch of reason: GOP Candidate Condemns Her Own Husband’s ‘Inappropriate’ Remarks | Mediaite
When was the last time you heard about a politician disavowing or condemning something their own spouse said? Well, Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst did just that this week when she publicly expressed how “appalled” she was by her husband’s past outlandish comments about former Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano.
According to The Des Moines Register, Ernst’s husband referred to Napolitano as a “traitorous skank” on Facebook last year, and a month before that he made a joke about shooting an ex-wife. And in addition to that, he also once called Hillary Clinton a “hag.”
Reached for public comment about her husband’s posts, Ernst was unequivocally outraged.
“I’m appalled by my husband’s remarks… They are uncalled for and clearly inappropriate. I’ve addressed this issue with my husband and that’s between us.”
Meanwhile, Gail Ernst took down those posts in questions and posted an apology to his Facebook page.
Good for her!
Speaking of Hillary: Hillary Clinton’s Book Tour Watch: CostCo in Arlington – You Never Know Who You Might Bump Into! | Still4Hill
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor bumped into Hillary Clinton at a Costco in Arlington, Virginia on Saturday.
Someone else was shopping there too…go see who at the link.
Rest of the links will be in dump fashion.
50 years ago, ‘Freedom Summer’ changed South, US – SFGate
… hundreds of volunteers — mostly Northern white college students — who descended on Mississippi during what came to be known as “Freedom Summer.” They came to register blacks to vote, and to establish “Freedom Schools” and community centers to help prepare those long disenfranchised for participation in what they hoped would be a new political order.
Opposition was brutal. Churches were bombed, volunteers were arrested, beaten — even murdered.
The Rabbi Cardinal O’Connor Never Knew: His Grandfather – NYTimes.com
In his 16 years as the Catholic Church’s top official in New York, Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor was a staunch friend and defender of the Jewish people.
He spoke often about what he had seen at Dachau as a Navy chaplain. He used his platform as head of the Archdiocese of New York to support Soviet Jewry, and played a role in the Vatican’s recognition of the state of Israel. Mayor Edward I. Koch, a Bronx-born Jew who worked closely with the cardinal, proclaimed that he loved him “like a brother.”
Yet there was something Cardinal O’Connor apparently never knew: His mother was born a Jew, the daughter of a rabbi.
This is from OpEdNews.com…so not sure of the veracity. Article: Fukushima’s Children are Dying | OpEdNews
Some 39 months after the multiple explosions at Fukushima, thyroid cancer rates among nearby children have skyrocketed to more than forty times (40x) normal.
More than 48 percent of some 375,000 young people–nearly 200,000 kids–tested by the Fukushima Medical University near the smoldering reactors now suffer from pre-cancerous thyroid abnormalities, primarily nodules and cysts. The rate is accelerating.
See what I mean. Read it, because it is alarming….even more so if the reports are true.
From Phys.org: Oregon hopes to be first state to map GMO fields
A couple of links on World Cup 2014:
As World Cup Begins, Refereeing Again Becomes an Issue – NYTimes.com
2014 World Cup ball has better aerodynamics: NASA
This next link is from a magazine called the Best of Sicily. After you read it, take a look around the site…it is awesome! Joan of England, Joanna Plantagenet, Queen of Sicily – Best of Sicily Magazine
Since we start with a medieval history link, let’s take a look at a few more…from Medieval.net:
Quiz: Can You Name the Location of These Churches?
A Grave Revisited: On Grave Robbery in Viking Age Iceland
Medieval Images of the Human Body
And sticking with old ass news…but not medieval old ass news:
91-Year-Old Man Returns Library Book after 61 Years
Back in 1953, the world was a different place. We were somewhere between a Truman and an Eisenhower presidency, Dean Martin and Perry Como were leading the charts, and people used these rather crude and uncivilized collections of books called libraries. Egads, how did they live before the internet?
Ron Webster of Derbyshire, England, was working as a research assistant at the social sciences department of the University of Liverpool, and checked out a book from one of these libraries entitled Structure and Function in Primitive Society. But when he left to work in London, he committed the grave crime of forgetting to return his library book.
It wasn’t until very recently, 61 years later, that he discovered the book and realized where it came from. So, he did the honest thing and returned the book. Librarian Phil Sykes was pretty amused at the situation. Via University of Liverpool:
They called me and said you’ve got to come down. There’s a gentleman trying to return a book he took out in 1953. He’s 91-years-old!
I can only think of one thing:
But check out the fees that were owed…
Webster racked up a sizable late fee of £4,510 (20p per day for 22,550 days), but Sykes was kind and sane enough to waive the fee.
“Of course, I cannot condone the late return of books but I remitted the fine of £4,510 on the condition that Mr Webster agreed, henceforth, to live an exemplary life and return all his books on time.”
That is some big money. Dude was lucky they waived the fees.
Well, I will end this post with a tale of a King called Lear: Putting the baa into the Baaard: It’s King Lear with sheep
“A friend of mine has just got back from Harvard,” it reads, “and is putting on a version of King Lear in which the cast is almost exclusively composed of real sheep in Shakespearian costume.”
If you think this is a joke, its not…check out their Facebook page:
DIG presents King Lear with Sheep
A stubborn director is trying to put on a production of King Lear with a cast composed solely of sheep. As expected, his actors are both silent and mutinous. Much chaos ensues. King Lear with Sheep is an experimental re-evaluation of its famous predecessor that overturns theatrical conventions through the startling and revolutionary device of costumed sheep.
Sheep! In tiny costumes!
Capacity is EXTREMELY LIMITED so arrive early if you want a seat! The event is free, but there will be a suggested donation on the door (so I can give my sheep a living wage)
Writer/Director —- Heather Williams
Producer/Assistant Director —- Lucie Elven
Costume Design —- Ava Asaadi, Camille Auclair, Anna Reid
Set Design —- Pippa Scarcliffe
Build Crew —- James Butler
Lighting Design —- Nick Morris
Sound Design —- Cy An
Director —- Alasdair Saksena
King Lear —- Sheep #1
Cordelia —- Sheep #2
Goneril —- Sheep #3
Regan —- Sheep #4
Gloucester —- Sheep #5
Edgar —- Sheep #6
Edmund —- Sheep #7
Kent —- Sheep #8
Some of the sheep will be playing multiple roles. There will be a bar.
I love it!!!!!
Hopefully they post some pictures of the sheep in drag, I mean in costume. If so I will update the thread.
Ah, well…in the words of a famous porker (he’s no sheep mind you.) “That’s all folks!” Y’all have a great day…what are you up to this Father’s Day?
Posted: June 12, 2014 Filed under: 2014 elections, Affordable Care Act (ACA), Black Agenda Report, Domestic terrorism, Elections, fundamentalist Christians, GLBT Rights, Medicaid, morning reads, racism, Rape Culture, Real Life Horror, Republican politics, right wing hate grouups, Tea Party activists, the GOP, U.S. Politics, Violence against women, Women's Rights | Tags: Dan Savage, Dave Brat, George Will, rats have regrets, Sen. Stacey Campfield
I don’t know if we should be so excited about the shocking runoff election results that put Cantor out on his ass. Don’t get me wrong…it is exciting to see the shitstorm this unexpected “fall” from the top is causing within the GOP. But this?
Did Cantor’s Loss Inspire Extra Crazy Time Today?
Who is today’s worst person?
1. Oklahoma state House candidate Scott Esk, for being “OK” with stoning gay people to death.
2. Rep. Louie Gohmert for using a Congressional hearing to speculate about whether non-Christians go to Hell.
3. Pat Robertson for telling kids not to turn their father in to the police when he threatens their mother with a gun.
That was from Eric Loomis at LG&M…he then asked, “What is wrong with this country?”
I say, What is wrong with these fucking people?
By “these” people I mean, people like the tea party ass who beat Cantor in that runoff election. David Brat: Hitler’s Rise ‘Could All Happen Again’ – Little Green Footballs
The Wall Street Journal has some excerpts from a bizarre pseudo-libertarian essay written by Tea Party heartthrob Dave Brat, warning that Hitler’s Rise ‘Could All Happen Again’.
Raise your hand if you’re shocked that a Tea Party religious fundamentalist employs confused Nazi Germany comparisons to market victimhood. But also notice that in this quote, Brat is pretty openly establishing his position as a Christian supremacist.
Go to the link to read the quote…
Makes this image all the more enjoyable. Stanley Kubrick’s letter to James Aubrey « Kinoimages.com
Oh, if only we could shove that femur up the ass of all those tea party idiots.
Anyway. Hear are a few other long reads for you that you will find interesting…I think this may run along the lines of heavy-duty kale eaters?
Students outraged that “tranny” used in discussion about word itself
Some transgender students and allies at the University of Chicago are outraged that a word they consider a slur was used in a guest-speaker discussion about the controversy over the word itself.
At the risk of inspiring another petition, the word is “tranny,” which is longtime slang for transgender. It’s been used both positively and negatively in the past (and present).
The guest speaker was gay writer and activist Dan Savage, who is arguably America’s most effective spokesman on gay (and quite possibly trans) civil rights. Savage was one of the masterminds behind the widely-acclaimed “It Gets Better” campaign, and behind last year’s boycott of Russian vodka that put the issue of Russia’s intolerance towards its gay and trans citizens on the map.
Savage was declared public enemy #1 a few years back by a fringe coterie of vocal activists; mostly for things he allegedly said, but that when you go back to the original sources you find he didn’t actually say at all. The same activists have also attacked Savage for being an advocate of marriage equality.
The word “tranny” has been in the news of late, as some trans activists, but certainly not all, find the word offensive. It was a word that has long been used by pro-trans gays and straights alike. (I never used it, though I have younger friends who have and still do, and not with any animus — it’s the simply the word they use for trans people.)
Back to the University of Chicago. The pro-trans activists say the discussion that Savage had with moderator Ana Marie Cox about the controversy over the word “tranny” put them “in a state of distress,” made them “feel unsafe,” and that the discussion “made [a] trans student so distressed that they had to run out of the room in tears.”
The basic argument here is that the word “tranny” is “hate speech,” and that even in a discussion about the controversy surrounding the word “tranny,” the word cannot be used.
Like I said it is a long read…so be sure to finish it.
This is Savage’s answer to the student petition and controversy: About That Hate Crime I Committed at University of Chicago | Slog
And one more post from AmericaBlog: The end of gay history
But hey, you know what…things are sometimes a source for musical comedy: “Don’t Say Gay” Tennessee Republican to be Lampooned in Musical
You remember state Sen. Stacey Campfield, don’t you? He’s the Tennessee lawmaker who tried to make it illegal in Tennessee for teachers to discuss anything about sexuality with their students, and then, because that wasn’t enough, tried to make it so that if schools found out a student’s orientation, the schools would be required to out the student to parents? Yeah, well, that dude is getting his own parody musical.
A Nashville theatre group, Music City Theatre Company, plans to produce an “original political satirical show” around Campfield, which will be a 45-minute, five-player revue, said co-writer/co-director Michael McFadden. The promotional materials for the show depict Campfield in a tuxedo and a large top hat made of Old Glory.
According to McFadden, there are several great moments in Campfield’s political history which will be depicted, not just the “don’t say gay” legislation. The Tennessee senator has also proposed tying welfare funding to children’s grades, and recently made a comparison between the Obama Administration and the Holocaust. Seems like even going by actual commentary, the production could have a very “Springtime for Hitler” vibe to it. And it would be historically accurate to the state senate record!
What is amazing to me….is that this is the “third musical and fifth production” about Campfield.
Next up, The White Right’s Impunity | Black Agenda Report
If a thousand armed Blacks had gathered in one place, pointing rifles at federal officers, and two of them later cold-bloodedly assassinated policemen, the federal response would touch every Black neighborhood in America. But the armed white Right gets a pass. Racists are resources to those in power. “The national security state’s legitimacy is based on (white) mass fear and loathing of the Other.”
Yes…that is the tease paragraph for a BAR article written by Glen Ford. He makes a big point with that opener. Go and check out the rest.
See here: Shooters in Metro ambush that left five dead spoke of white supremacy and a desire to kill police | Las Vegas Review-Journal
And here: Military court probes ‘Dark Horse’ militia; may be intense, but it’s not ‘extremist’ | Suits & Sentences | McClatchy DC
There are some upsetting items regarding women and the rape culture too:
George Will Says Being A Rape Victim Is A ‘Coveted Status’ In College
Columnist George Will thinks that being a rape victim is now a “coveted status” on college campuses.
The conservative titan wrote about “the supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. ‘sexual assault,'” in a piece on Friday. He put this trend down to increased political correctness on college campuses, which, he said, was proving that when universities “make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.”
Will then used the example of a woman whose experience he recounted would certainly fall under the definition of rape, and continued:
Now the Obama administration is riding to the rescue of “sexual assault” victims. It vows to excavate equities from the ambiguities of the hookup culture, this cocktail of hormones, alcohol and the faux sophistication of today’s prolonged adolescence of especially privileged young adults.
Why? Why is this asshole still allowed on the air?
Another rape culture one: She Accused A TV Anchor Of Rape And Got Dragged Through The Tabloids
For the first time, Maria Di Toro speaks publicly about her 2012 allegations against Greg Kelly, morning show host and son of former police commissioner Ray Kelly.
And this: Shakesville: Quote of the Day
“You have to start asking questions: Well, if evolution is true, and it’s just all about the male propagating their DNA, we had to ask hard questions, like, well, is rape wrong?”—Creationist Darek Isaacs, “author of ‘Dragons or Dinosaurs?’—which argues that ancient myths about dragons were based on human interactions with dinosaurs—and the founder of the Watchman 33 end times blog,” during an episode of the “Creation Today” online broadcast.
He said marriage would be “anathema” in an evolutionary worldview because it would limit sexual relations to one man and one woman for life.
“According to the evolutionary worldview, [if] that male is strong enough and he had wonderful genes, he should propagate his DNA as much as possible so that the species can progress,” Isaacs said. “So it redefines everything about our society.”
Makes me want to get that femur prop again…
Another good read from Shakesville: We Need to Talk About This
a woman who does public advocacy is subjected to this sort of abuse.
And it shouldn’t be. Because every single woman I know who does public advocacy is subjected to it.
That’s not a criticism of the people who don’t know. They don’t know, because we don’t talk about it. I don’t just mean we, the women who are targets, but we, the people. The readers who consume the content produced by those women. The media who refuse to have a loud and ongoing conversation about it. The law enforcement who ignore it. The lawmakers who have refused to create legal avenues of recourse for us. Our ostensible allies, who stay out of it, lest the sights gets trained on them. The harassers who silence us via more harassment.
Every person who tells us, when we, the women who are targets, try to talk about it, that we shouldn’t. That we shouldn’t give time and energy and fuel to harassers. That we shouldn’t give them our attention. That we are empowering them. That we will cause them to escalate.
Every person who tells us that if we talk about it, it makes us look weak. That we are attention-seeking. That we revel in victimhood. That this is just how the internet is. That this is just how the world is. That if we don’t like it, we should be silent.
Every person who tells us some reason that we should just shut up about an incessant stream of unrelenting abuse, because they don’t want to hear about it; because it makes them uncomfortable to know the real cost of our work, to us; because they don’t want to be made to feel obliged to do something about it.
Every person who has some inkling, but chooses not to really know. Every person who pities us, who feels impotent, who finds some reason to justify their indifference, who masks their indifference behind anger at us for talking about it.
All of us. We are all complicit in the silence that allows people to be surprised by what is done to us.
Not every woman who receives this abuse feels safe enough to talk about it. But I do. Or, if I’m going to be perfectly frank, I don’t feel any less safe than I already do. Every day.
And because I can talk about it, I’m going to. We need to talk about this. Those of us who can.
Have y’all seen this? From Ireland…
800 Dead Babies Discovered in Septic Tank Of Home for Unwed Mothers
Police are investigating the discovery of 800 long-dead babies found in the septic tank at a home for unwed mothers in western Ireland. The Home (that is its actual name and, yes, it does sound freakishly ominous) housed thousands of pregnant and unwed — “fallen”— women between 1925 and 1961. The women left after they’d paid for their stay in indentured servitude. Their children, reports The Washington Post, may not have been so lucky.
A housing development and playground now stand on the land where The Home once stood. And while many would like to forget the horrible things that went on there, the discovery of the 800 infants (and possibly more, once excavation starts) is dredging up many memories for the locals.
More Appalling Revelations in the Irish Mother-and-Baby-Home Scandal
The Irish radio station Newstalk has acquired records suggesting that children in this type of home were essentially used as pharmaceutical guinea pigs:
Three trials were conducted at homes at Bessborough in Co. Cork, St. Peter’s in Westmeath, St. Clare’s in Stamullen, and The Good Shepard in Dunboyne – both Co. Meath – as well as six Dublin homes.
The research was carried out between 1960 and 1976.
In one of the trials, 80 children became unwell after they were allegedly given a vaccine intended for cattle as part of an experiment run at five care homes and orphanages in Dublin during the mid 70s.
A nun from one of the participating homes told Newstalk that parents gave consent for their children to participate in the trials. But Susan Lohan, cofounder of the Adoption Rights Alliance, calls B.S.: “The mothers of the children were not consulted on anything regarding their childrens’ welfare,” adding that, “I find it, frankly, not credible, that the managers of those places would have made an exception when it came to the vaccine trials.”
Speaking of drug trials: Orexigen’s diet pill may get FDA approval this week
While here in Georgia, Lifting the lid on the debate over Medicaid expansion | Political Insider blog
Now for something funny. The 5 Most Hilarious Actor Meltdowns Behind Famous Movies | Cracked.com
#5. Marlon Brando Demands a Bucket Hat and a Personal Dwarf
Marlon Brando is responsible for some of the most memorable performances in movie history in films like The Godfather, On the Waterfront, and Apocalypse Now, but he’s also responsible for testing the patience of pretty much every director he worked with. The man had an ego the size of a Brando. He held so much power that he could wear an ice bucket over his head and it would wind up in the finished film.
We know this because it actually happened.
“That had better be Twinkies you’re pouring in there.”
That’s a real still from The Island of Dr. Moreau, possibly the worst movie in Brando’s long career, as well as the careers of people who weren’t even in it. It was probably this realization that made Brando decide that, if his name was going to be associated with such a turd, he was at least going to have some fun doing it. And so, when filming began, Brando wore something not in the script: a random ice bucket he found. And he refused to take it off.
Brando also wore a radio earpiece that would feed him his lines, in part because the script was constantly being rewritten and in part because he was beyond giving a shit at this point in his life. The problem was that, according to his co-star David Thewlis, the earpiece would sometimes get interference from police frequencies, so Brando would end up acting out lines like “There’s a robbery at Woolworth’s!“
That, or Brando was purposely doing that just to fuck with them … which is highly likely.
And that wasn’t even the most bizarre thing to happen on the set. At one point, Brando told the director that he would not perform unless a midget whom he had befriended during production appeared next to him in all his scenes, so then that happened — you know the miniature version of Dr. Moreau who accompanies him everywhere? That’s not in the book or the script. Brando forced them to add all those scenes. And that, friends, is why this happens in the movie:
The dwarf (who had a successful television career in South America) then inspired “Mini-Me” from Austin Powers, although that isn’t an accurate comparison; a mini-me version of Brando would be the size of Edward Norton. Speaking of which, Brando co-starred with Norton and Robert DeNiro in the less crappy film The Score. Did you think Brando looked more in shape in that movie than in Dr. Moreau? Well, that’s just because he refused to wear pants, forcing the director to shoot him only from the waist up.
And finally…get this, those GOP ratfinks like that Campbell, Robertson, Esk…etc. have no feelings of regret about those things they say or what their actions (or non-actions) have on people, human beings. Yet rats, the animals, Rats regret their decisions, study finds | The Rundown | PBS NewsHour
New research published in the journal Nature Neuroscience this week finds that regret may not be just a human emotion. It turns out rats also experience regret.
Researcher David Redish at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis set up a “restaurant row” for his lab rats. The “restaurants” consisted of four stops where the rat could receive one option of his favorite flavor foods — banana, cherry, chocolate and a fourth unflavored food. The rat stops at the entrance and presses a button, which made a sound. The pitch indicated how long the rat needed to wait for food, anywhere from one to 45 seconds. If the rat was impatient, it could walk to the next stop and try again. However, each rat had an hour to get through the course, so it needed to be efficient.
To watch how these decisions manifested in the brain, Redish and his colleagues wired electrodes into the rats’ brains, so they could monitor the neural activity in the orbitofrontal cortex. Specific neural patterns indicated which foods the rats were thinking about at the time.
The experiment replicates a common human dilemma, Redish said. You go to a restaurant, discover it has a long wait and decide to go somewhere else, only to find your second choice restaurant has an even longer wait.
To the researcher’s surprise, when the rat got a “bad deal” it immediately turned around and looked back at its first choice. It’s neural pattern changed, and it thought of the first-choice food.
“That’s the regret,” Redish told National Geographic.
But regret is not just wishfully thinking about the past. Redish found that the regretful rats were more likely to wait longer for a “bad deal” than they would normally. They also ate their less-desirable treat more quickly. A few of the rats learned from their mistake and their neural activity showed them planning their next food stop.
Have a good day. What are you reading today? See ya around the comments…
Posted: May 16, 2014 Filed under: Bobby Jindal, Capital Punishment aka Death Penalty, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Crime, Criminal Justice System, Discrimination against women, Domestic terrorism, morning reads, The Right Wing, Women's Rights, worker rights
I have read the most horrifying stories this week. It makes me wonder if a good portion of humanity has a death wish. I’m going to share a variety of links that I’ve found; and a lot of them aren’t the most uplifting, I’m afraid.
Knowledge is power. Ignorance may be bliss to the holder but not to the folks around them. There is no lack of headlines in the area of bigotry and intolerance. This is truly discouraging to those of us that care passionately about social justice.
Crime rates have been falling recently but our incarceration rates are not. There’s a huge study out on the economic costs of our prison society and its findings are not pretty. We’re spending billionaires of dollars locking up the poor, the uneducated, and the mentally ill in a distinctly racist way.
While crime rates have fallen 45 percent since 1990, the memo said that the incarceration rate is now at a “historically unprecedented level,” jumping 222 percent between 1980 and 2012. An African-American man who never graduated from high school has a 70 percent likelihood of being imprisoned by his mid-30s; for similarly educated white men, the rate is about 15 percent. And the United States imprisons at a rate six times greater than most peer nations, including those of the European Union, Japan, Israel, and Mexico.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced rules last month that would give the Obama administration wider latitude to extend clemency or reduce sentences for drug-related prisoners who don’t present a threat to public safety. In addition, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted unanimously in April to reduce sentencing guidelines for certain nonviolent criminals, a move now before Congress that could go into effect Nov. 1 if lawmakers don’t take any further action.
Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. is a clinical professor of law and director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School. The program focuses on criminal practice, education, and research, and hosts a teaching clinic for third-year law students to represent indigent criminal defendants in local and juvenile courts. Sullivan spoke with the Gazette about racial and national sentencing disparities, the economic and social costs of mass incarceration, and the sentencing reforms now under consideration.
GAZETTE: According to the memo, while the overall crime rate fell 45 percent between 1990 and 2012, the rate of imprisonment has spiked 222 percent between 1980 and 2012. What’s behind this disparity? Is that strictly the result of policy decisions like mandatory minimum sentencing, repeat-offender laws, and the growth in for-profit prisons? Or are other factors at work?
SULLIVAN: That’s certainly a big piece of it. … policy decisions in respect of mandatory minimums drive the huge incarceration rate. But there are other factors as well. What those factors are is the subject of a lot of academic debate nowadays. And to be honest, we’re not exactly sure what it is. We do know that on a per-capita basis the U.S. incarcerates more people than any country in the world, including Rwanda, Russia, Cuba, all of the places one does not associate with a robust tradition of liberty. And that’s in many ways shocking.
The theory would be … with the high rates of incarceration that the crime rate would go down and then that would be followed by less incarceration because there just wouldn’t be as many crimes committed. But those numbers have gone in opposite directions. Mandatory minimums simply don’t explain all of it. Part of it, at least I think, has to do with selective law enforcement — the over-policing of certain neighborhoods, particularly minority neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods. That is to say, if police are there and looking for crimes, and over-police certain neighborhoods, you’re going to produce more defendants in particular areas. And if the populations are drawn from poor populations, they’re unable to afford to be released on bail, they’re unable to afford good lawyers, and studies show that if you’re not released on bail you tend to stay in jail after sentencing. An unfortunate reality of the United States is that far too often the justice you receive is a function of how much money you have.
The prison-industrial complex is also an important factor. It doesn’t take an economist to know that if … you make your money by people going into prison, then there’s going to be higher incarceration rates. So I think that certainly plays a role as well.
GAZETTE: What are the areas of debate among scholars?
SULLIVAN: One explanation has to do with the United States’ articulated goals of punishment. Back in the ’70s and before, rehabilitation was an articulated goal of the criminal justice system. The Supreme Court has said clearly now rehabilitation is no longer a penological goal. We look at incapacitation, we look at deterrence, and we look at retribution as goals that the penal system serves. When you take rehabilitation out of the mix, then that de-incentivizes the system from having shorter sentences because there’s no longer an affirmative goal of reintegrating people meaningfully back into the community. That’s one of the things that scholars argue drive up the incarceration rate.
The other has to do with our system of elected judges in most states. Judges who are elected, the argument runs, respond to democratic pressures. We live in a political economy where people think that more and harsher punishment is better, even though most competent data suggests that longer sentences, after a certain point … make people worse as opposed to making them better. But you have democratically elected judges who respond to the will of the people, and if that will is for longer sentences, no matter how misinformed, then judges oftentimes acquiesce to those pressures.
The other issue has to do with legislators. It, again, has to do with the political economy in which we live. With this mantra of being “tough on crime,” legislators essentially race to see who can draft legislation with the harshest, longest penalties. I think that legislators don’t believe that prosecutors will attempt to enforce the most harsh provisions of particular laws, and in that sense, from the vantage point of the legislator, it’s sort of a win-win situation: They can get the political credit for drafting an incredibly harsh law, but not really have to deal with the effects because the notion is the prosecutor will sort it out and will recommend a fair sentence. That assumption, though, just hasn’t really been borne out in reality.
GAZETTE: The current incarceration gap between white men and African-American men is particularly striking. Does that figure surprise you, and what accounts for this gap? Is access to justice a factor?
SULLIVAN: The figure does not surprise me, and it is unfortunate that the figure does not surprise me. The figure reaffirms that race insinuates itself into almost every aspect of our life still, and it has a particular salience in the criminal justice system. … Here we see the effect of over-policing much more dramatically. In our culture, unfortunately … blackness is seen as a proxy for criminality. So the same or similar conduct engaged in by a person of color is seen through a lens that views that conduct as criminal, where others simply are not taxed in the same way.
The debate over the use of lethal injections and the drugs used for state executions continues. Three newspapers–including the UK Guardian–have sued to make public the source of drugs for these injections. Most states are trying to make that information private. Many of the recent botched executions came from simple druggists compounding the formulations because many of the major drug manufacturers–especially those in Europe–refuse to do so. Should the formulation and the source of death penalty drugs be kept from the public?
The growing secrecy adopted by death penalty states to hide the source of their lethal injection drugs used in executions is being challenged in a new lawsuit in Missouri, which argues that the American people have a right to know how the ultimate punishment is being carried out in their name.
The legal challenge, brought by the Guardian, Associated Press and the three largest Missouri newspapers, calls on state judges to intervene to put a stop to the creeping secrecy that has taken hold in the state in common with many other death penalty jurisdictions. The lawsuit argues that under the first amendment of the US constitution the public has a right of access to know “the type, quality and source of drugs used by a state to execute an individual in the name of the people”.
It is believed to be the first time that the first amendment right of access has been used to challenge secrecy in the application of the death penalty. Deborah Denno, an expert in execution methods at Fordham University law school in New York, said that more and more states were turning to secrecy as a way of hiding basic flaws in their procedures.
“If states were doing things properly they wouldn’t have a problem releasing information – they are imposing a veil of secrecy to hide incompetence.” “This is like the government building bridges, and trying to hide the identity of the company that makes the bolts,” said Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center. “Those involved in public service should expect public scrutiny in order to root out problems, particular when the state is carrying out the most intimate act possible – killing people.”
A Guardian survey has identified at least 13 states that have changed their rules to withhold from the public all information relating to how they get hold of lethal drugs. They include several of the most active death penalty states including Texas, which has executed seven prisoners so far this year, Florida (five), Missouri (four) and Oklahoma (three). Attention has been drawn to the secrecy issue by the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma on 29 April in which the prisoner took 43 minutes to die, apparently in great pain, from an untested cocktail of drugs whose source was not made public.
Lockett’s lawyers had argued in advance that he might be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment as a result of the lack of information surrounding the drugs, but the state supreme court allowed the procedure to go ahead having come under intense pressure from local politicians, some of whom threatened to impeach judges.
In the wake of the events in Oklahoma, in which the prisoner writhed and groaned over a prolonged period, the state has agreed to pause for six months before carrying out any further judicial killings to give time for an internal investigation to be completed. President Obama described the Lockett execution “deeply troubling” and has asked US attorney general Eric Holder to review the way the death penalty is conducted.
Until last year, Missouri which is now executing prisoners at a rate of one a month, was open about where it obtained its lethal injection chemicals. But like many death penalty states, its drug supplies have dwindled as a result of a European-led pharmaceutical boycott, and in a desperate move to try to find new suppliers it has shrouded their identity in secrecy. In October, the state changed its so-called “black hood law” that had historically been used to guard the identity of those directly involved in the death process.
The department of corrections expanded the definition of its execution team to include pharmacies and “individuals who prescribe, compound, prepare, or otherwise supply the chemicals for use in the lethal injection procedure”. Six inmates have been executed by Missouri since the new secrecy rules came in –they went to their deaths entirely ignorant of the source or quality of the drugs used to kill them. All that is known is that the pentobarbital that Missouri deploys in executions probably came from a compounding pharmacy – an outlet that makes up small batches of the drug to order in the absence of stringent regulation.
We continue to see GLBT civil rights characterized by the right as an attack on their religious rights and their homobigoted behavior and language wrapped up as a first amendment issue. How does the right play the victim card in a debate about limiting the rights of others? It is doing the same things with women’s reproductive rights.
While Religious Right leaders are quick to equate criticism as an attack on their freedom of speech and religion, some of them are all too happy to limit the free speech or religious liberty of the people they disagree with. That includes the Benham brothers.
In the flurry of public appearances in the wake of the HGTV cancellation, the Benhams and their right-wing fans have portrayed themselves as committed to the principle that everyone in America should have a chance to express themselves. On the O’Reilly Factor, David Benham denounced the gay agenda for seeking “to silence those that disagree with it, and it begins with Christians.” Jason warned that “when an idea seeks to silence any other idea that may disagree with that, then we have ourselves a problem on hand.”
But as blogger Jeremy Hooper recently pointed out, back in November 2004, David, Jason, and Flip Benham were all part of a group of about 15 people who went to a Charlotte, North Carolina city council meeting to complain about the gay pride celebration that had taken place in a city park six months earlier. They were among a group of people who had gone to the Pride event to, in Jason’s words, “tell them that Jesus loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way.” But the Benhams and their friends were appalled at what they saw. “This is filth, this is vile and should not be allowed in our City,” said David. Jason urged city council members to reject future permits for Pride celebrations – and seemingly for any LGBT-themed event:
They have a right to apply for this permit, but you have a right and responsibility to deny it. I [implore] you not to be governed by the fear in which you feel. If you deny them this permit you will open a can of worms but you in your leadership position have to take that responsibility and you have to not allow the fear of making this homosexual community mad. You have to accept that responsibility and deny them every permit that they ask for.
In the words of Charlotte Pride organizers, “The Benham brothers once tried to silence us. They failed.”
Some Benham fans, like the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, say flat-out that the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections were only meant for Christians and don’t apply to Muslims, Mormons or other minority faiths. Back when many self-proclaimed “religious liberty” advocates were opposing efforts by Muslims in New York to build a community center – which critics gave the inaccurate and inflammatory name of “Ground Zero Mosque” – David Benham and his father Flip were among them. According to the Anti-Defamation League, David participated in protests against the Center, calling it a “den of iniquity” and labeling Muslims “the enemy” that was attacking America.
In these public debates, “Christian” as used by Religious Right leaders often doesn’t really apply to all Christians, but only to a subset of Christians who share their right-wing politics. Other Christians don’t count. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who has bemoaned “cultural elites” who want to “silence” and “bully” people like the Benhams, recently said that pro-gay-equality Christians don’t deserve the same legal protections as he does because “true religious freedom” applies only to those with religious views that align with those of the political Right.
We’ve seen a lot of this coming from Governor Bobby Jindal who is a bully that insists that GLBT rights activists are bullies.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s commencement speech at Liberty University was a masterpiece in this type of dishonest projection. Posing as a champion of free speech and freedom of religion, he actually made a chilling argument in favor of stripping both of those freedoms away from ordinary Americans, businesses and anyone who might disagree with turning this country into a theocratic state. He started by defending Hobby Lobby for trying to strip contraception coverage out of their employees’ own healthcare plans. “Under the Obama regime,” he argued, “you have protection under the First Amendment as an individual, but the instant you start a business, you lose those protections. And that brings us to the second front in this silent war: the attack on our freedom of association as people of faith.”
It’s all nonsense, of course. In fact, Hobby Lobby’s intention here is to reduce religious freedom by forcing their employees to adhere to certain religious rules in order to get the benefits they already earned. ( They have a history of trying to impose their religious dogma on non-believers through other means as well.) The only people in any real danger of losing freedom are women, who are in danger of losing their freedom to use their insurance benefits in a way that fits their personal beliefs.
But Jindal was just warming up, claiming the “Obama administration” was gunning to decide “who can preach the Gospel.” This outrageous conspiracy theory was justified, in his opinion, by supposed other attacks on “free speech,” namely that TV networks are reluctant to house the opinions of open bigots. “The left no longer wants to debate. They simply want to silence us,” he said of Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty, who was never silenced and has, to this date, been allowed to say any fool thing he wants. But he was briefly suspended from A&E, leading conservatives to decide that “free speech” means you have a right to your own TV show.
All of this has gotten me interested in again in White Supremacist movements. I really believe that most of these Southern Republicans fall squarely into the neoconfederate mold and aren’t that far off the KKK tree.
White supremacy is referenced in relation to specific news events as well. For example, the murder rampage by the neo-Nazi Frazier Glenn Miller, the recent weeks-long debate between pundits Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jonathan Chait about “black pathology”; birtherism; stand-your-ground laws; and the open embrace of the symbols and rhetoric of the old slave-holding Confederacy by the Republican Party have been framed and discussed in terms of white supremacy.
Conservatives and progressive often use the phrase “white supremacy” in divergent ways. Conservatives use the phrase in the service of a dishonest “colorblind” agenda, evoking extreme images of KKK members and Nazis as the exclusive and only examples of white racism in American life and politics. Conservatives use extreme caricatures of white supremacy in order to deflect and protect themselves from charges that the contemporary Republican Party is a white identity organization fueled by white racial resentment. Liberals, progressives and anti-racists use the phrase “white supremacy” to describe the overt and subtle racist practices of movement conservatism in the post-Civil Rights era, and how American society is still structured around maintaining and protecting white privilege. This analysis is largely correct: however, it often conflates concepts such as racism, white privilege, and white supremacy with one another. Language does political work. In the age of Obama, the phrase “white supremacy” is often used in political discussions like an imprecise shotgun blast or a blockbuster bomb. If the Common Good and American democracy are to be protected—countering how the right wing has used the politics of white racial resentment, racial manipulation, and hate to mobilize its voters in support of a plutocratic agenda—a more precise weapon is needed. A necessary first step in that direction requires the development of a more detailed and transparent exploration of the concept known as “white supremacy.”
One of the sure signs to me of either a racist or a misogynist or a homophobic bigot is that they all insist they have no problem women, racial minorities, and/or gay people. The believe they are the victims by being forced to deal with any one else in terms other than their own choosing. Therein lies the problem. Here’s a perfect example from Kristen Powers writing at USA Today. You can’t call out bigotry without being called a bully obsessed with political correctness. Then, you’re told that the real victims are white conservative christians.
Each week seems to bring another incident. Last week it was David and Jason Benham, whose pending HGTV show was canceled after the mob unearthed old remarks the brothers made about their Christian beliefs on homosexuality. People can’t have a house-flipping show unless they believe and say the “right” things in their life off the set? In this world, the conservative Tom Selleck never would have been Magnum, P.I.
This week, a trail-blazing woman was felled in the new tradition of commencement shaming. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde withdrew from delivering the commencement speech at Smith College following protests from students and faculty who hate the IMF. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, this trend is growing. In the 21 years leading up to 2009, there were 21 incidents of an invited guest not speaking because of protests. Yet, in the past five-and-a-half years, there have been 39 cancellations.
Don’t bother trying to make sense of what beliefs are permitted and which ones will get you strung up in the town square. Our ideological overlords have created a minefield of inconsistency. While criticizing Islam is intolerant, insulting Christianity is sport. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is persona non grata at Brandeis University for attacking the prophet Mohammed. But Richard Dawkins describes the Old Testament God as “a misogynistic … sadomasochistic … malevolent bully” and the mob yawns. Bill Maher calls the same God a “psychotic mass murderer” and there are no boycott demands of the high-profile liberals who traffic his HBO show.
The self-serving capriciousness is crazy. In March, University of California-Santa Barbara women’s studies professor Mireille Miller-Young attacked a 16-year-old holding an anti-abortion sign in the campus’ “free speech zone” (formerly known as America). Though she was charged with theft, battery and vandalism, Miller-Young remains unrepentant and still has her job. But Mozilla’s Brendan Eich gave a private donation to an anti-gay marriage initiative six years ago and was ordered to recant his beliefs. When he wouldn’t, he was forced to resign from the company he helped found.
Got that? A college educator with the right opinions can attack a high school student and keep her job. A corporate executive with the wrong opinions loses his for making a campaign donation. Something is very wrong here.
The right seems to be really confused about the first amendment, which clearly deals with the relationship between the federal government, religion, the press, and the people’s free speech. The same idiots that scream that Hobby Lobby can deny its employees contraception and say that businesses should be able to refuse to serve GLBTs will shout out a corporation that says they don’t want to be known for bigotry of any kind. They also misunderstand the protection given to University professors when it comes to academic freedom. Companies have to comply with the law. They do not have to keep employees that don’t represent their corporate values. PERIOD.
Anyway, it just amazes me that this intense amount of uncivil bigotry and hatred seemed to have burbled up again after all these years. All it took was an African American President and a few powerful women–namely Hillary Clinton–to bring the crazy out.
I just wanted to mention that most of these silent film images come from “Birth of a Nation” but one comes from “Broken Blossoms” also known as the “Yellow Man and the Girl”. Both of these films were directed by DW Griffith around 1919. Both movies starred Lillian Gish and were received differently by white audiences than by the racial minorities they also depicted.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?