Friday Reads: Dog Days of Summer Edition

The ancient Greeks thought of the constellation Canis Major as a dog chasing Lepus, the hare. The star Sirius is the dog’s nose; the Greeks called it the “dog star.”  (National Geographic)

The ancient Greeks thought of the constellation Canis Major as a dog chasing Lepus, the hare. The star Sirius is the dog’s nose; the Greeks called it the “dog star.” (National Geographic)

Good Morning!!

We are in the midst of the dog days of summer–traditionally the hottest days of the year, which extend from about July 2 to August 11. I has been very hot all over the country for the past few weeks. Here in Boston, we have had a couple of weeks of temperatures around or above 90 degrees.

Why do we call them the “dog days?” It dates back to the Greeks and Romans and their beliefs about Sirius, the “dog star.” At National Geographic, Becky Little explains:

To the Greeks and Romans, the “dog days” occurred around the day when Sirius appeared to rise just before the sun, in late July. They referred to these days as the hottest time of the year, a period that could bring fever, or even catastrophe.

“If you go back even as far as Homer, The Iliad, it’s referring to Sirius as Orion’s dog rising, and it describes the star as being associated with war and disaster,” said Jay B. Holberg, author of Sirius: Brightest Diamond in the Night Sky and senior research scientist at the University of Arizona Lunar & Planetary Laboratory. “All throughout Greek and Roman literature, you found these things.”

The phrase “dog days” was translated from Latin to English about 500 years ago. Since then, it has taken on new meanings.

“Now people come up with other explanations for why they’re called the ‘dog days’ of summer, [like] this is when dogs can go crazy,” said Anne Curzan, an English professor at the University of Michigan.

“This is a very human tendency,” she said. When we don’t know the origin of a phrase, we come up with a plausible explanation.

“The meaning has been lost,” said Holberg, “but the phrase has lived on.”

Read more at the link.

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About the heat wave, from The Weather Channel: West Coast Heat Wave Threatens All-Time Records; Northeast Hot, But Not Historic.

Summer heat is gripping opposite sides of the country into this weekend, including parts of the West and the Northeast.

The heat will help clinch one of the hottest Julys on record for some Northwest cities, and a few locations may challenge their all-time or monthly record highs on Friday. It’s also helped set a record for the most 90-degree days in a year in Seattle and has given Portland its hottest temperatures since 2009.

The Northeast heat will not be as extreme, but it will stick around into next week for some cities….

A strong ridge of high pressure is building over the Northwest as the jet stream bulges northward to the Canadian border. This is allowing temperatures 5 to 20 degrees above average to take hold across parts of northern California, Oregon and Washington into the weekend, while also spreading to portions of Idaho and Montana.

It’s a fitting end to what will be one of the hottest Julys on record in parts of the Northwest. Seattle, Washington, and Astoria, Oregon, were both seeing their hottest July on record as of July 29, according to data from the Southeast Regional Climate Center. For Seattle, July 2015 could beat out August 1967 for the hottest month on record if the final average temperature for July exceeds 71.1 degrees.

July was the third warmest on record through July 29 in Portland, Oregon, and fourth warmest on record for Yakima, Washington.

High temperatures at or above 100 degrees are forecast for the Portland, Oregon, area through Friday, with middle to upper 90s expected this weekend. Portland hit 103 degrees on Thursday, which is the hottest temperature there since July 29, 2009. Even hotter temperatures are expected for the rest of the Willamette River Valley of western Oregon on Friday, which is under an excessive heat warning issued by the National Weather Service.

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Wow! 100 degrees in Seattle? And on the East coast:

Wednesday was the hottest day so far in 2015 in New York City (96 degrees) and Albany, New York (95 degrees). Concord, New Hampshire, set a daily record high of 96 degrees, beating the old record for July 29 of 95 degrees set in 1949.

Highs will stay a handful of degrees above average for mainly eastern sections of the region into early next week.

For the most part, this heat in the Northeast will not be record breaking. However, the longevity of it will likely be greater than we’ve seen so far this summer in some cities. By early next week, some locations could meet the definition for a heat wave in the Northeast, which is generally defined in that region as three or more days in a row with temperatures at or above 90 degrees.

Temperatures in New England are beginning to moderate, and it will be only around 89-90 for the next few days. That will give some relief. I really feel for Luna out in Washington and Fannie in Idaho.

Speaking of Seattle, I came across this wonderful video of the city in 1955, posted on youtube by Jeff Alman, whose grandfather made it when on vacation in the city. The first part, which shows city streets and buildings, is the coolest, IMO. The rest is gorgeous views taken from a small plane.

Altman also posted his grandfather’s video of San Francisco in 1958.

My grandfather made color films many years ago, and they were of such high quality that my brother was able to edit them into a wonderful video that he shared with all of our relatives who appeared in them. Every time I watch it, the old images bring me to tears. What a treasure!

Seeing the scenes of Seattle made me think about how different my life might have been if my Dad had decided to take a job at a different university back in about 1958. He had offers from Seattle, Miami, and a couple of other places, but ultimately he chose the offer from Ball State in Muncie, Indiana. I’m not sure if my folks wanted to live in a smaller college town or if the money was better at Ball State.

Now for some news.

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There’s a big health story this morning: a new vaccine for the Ebola virus could make a huge difference, based on the results of a study that will appear in The Lancet. BBC News reports: Ebola vaccine is ‘potential game-changer.’

A vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus has led to 100% protection and could transform the way Ebola is tackled, preliminary results suggest….

Experts said the results were “remarkable”.

This trial centred on the VSV-EBOV vaccine, which was started by the Public Health Agency of Canada and then developed by the pharmaceutical company Merck.

It combined a fragment of the Ebola virus with another safer virus in order to train the immune system to beat Ebola.

A unique clinical trial took place in Guinea. When a patient was discovered, their friends, neighbours and family were vaccinated to create a “protective ring” of immunity.

This could be the breakthrough the world has been waiting for.

There is caution as the results are still preliminary, with more data coming in.

But officials at the WHO believe the effectiveness of the vaccine will end up being between 75% and 100%.

According to the BBC, other vaccines are also being tested. This could be very good news!

DogDays-wIcedCoffee

I’m sure you’ve heard about the agonizing death of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe at the hands of Walter Palmer, a Minnesota Dentist who likes to kill big game with a bow and arrow.

The AP reports, via USA Today: Minn. dentist accused of poaching legendary lion.

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwean police said Tuesday they are searching for an American who allegedly shot a well-known, protected lion with a crossbow in a killing that has outraged conservationists and others.

The American allegedly paid $50,000 to kill the lion named Cecil, Zimbabwean conservationists said. Authorities on Tuesday said two Zimbabwean men will appear in court for allegedly helping with the hunt. The American faces poaching charges, according to police spokeswoman Charity Charamba.

Walter James Palmer of Minnesota was identified on Tuesday by both the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force and the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe as the American hunter, a name that police then confirmed.

“We arrested two people and now we are looking for Palmer in connection with the same case,” said Charamba.

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Zimbabwe is seeking Palmer’s extradition, and the outrage on social media has been so extreme that Palmer was forced to close his dental practice. He has “apologized,” but that’s apparently not going to be enough to save his skin, and I say “Good!” Still you have to wonder why stories of human deaths don’t get as much attention. More recent headlines on this story:

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones: For a Week, Walter Palmer Is the Worst Human Being Ever in History.

Time: Cecil the Lion, Walter Palmer and the Psychology of Online Shaming.

Mediaite: The Hill Reports Lion Killer Donated to Romney; Twitter Asks Why That’s Relevant.

Boston Herald: Zimbabwean baffled by foreign concern for killed lion.

GossipCop: Betty White On Cecil The Lion Killer: “You Don’t Want To Hear The Things I Want To Do” Walter James Palmer.

Slate: Why Cecil Was Such an Important Lion.

Slate: How America Can Prosecute More Poachers Like the Alleged Lion Killer.

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Obviously, as a New England Patriots fan, I’ve been following the Tom Brady/Deflategate story for a long time, and this morning I came across this in Wired: Even if Tom Brady Did Smash His Phone, It’d Make Zero Sense. It turns out that the NFL and Roger Goodell could easily get Brady’s text messages if they wanted to.

JUST HOW EASY is it to destroy your text messages? In the eyes of the NFL, it’s as simple as destroying your cellphone. But as anyone who has ever had their phone stolen can tell you, that’s not even remotely true.

This week, the NFL upheld the suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for four games in the wake of accusations he was “generally aware” of the team’s deflation of footballs. The decision, authored by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, largely hinged on the revelation that Brady destroyed his cellphone shortly before meeting with league investigators. The league suggests this was to suppress evidence and obstruct the investigation. Brady insists he was just replacing a “broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone 6.”

It was a fun story for a few minutes and there was some mild hoopla surrounding the idea of a frenzied Brady destroying his cellphone. Problem is, even if he had … so what? This isn’t The Wire, and snapping a cellphone in half and tossing it in the gutter wouldn’t be enough to erase Brady’s history anyway. The digital trail our phones leave behind long outlive the physical device itself, and the league could have potentially tracked down the information in a number of ways—which is why the whole story was utterly ridiculous. Regardless, here is exactly why it wouldn’t matter if Tom Brady smashed his cellphone….

Once upon a time, it was hard to recover text messages without actually having the phone they were sent to. However, Google and Apple’s efforts to sync data across multiple devices has made text message retrieval significantly easier.

As Brady was on a Samsung during the “deflategate” scandal, he was most likely using an Android device. Not only do most modern Android devices use Google Hangouts as their primary text messaging app, Google makes the process of deleting those messages inconvenient and difficult. Android’s Hangouts has a setting to delete old text messages, but the feature only does so as disk space fills up. Unlike the iPhone, which can automatically delete messages that are older than a set period of time, Android gives the user no control over how long to preserve messages.

Roger Goodell is such a pathetic liar!

More News, links only

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Newsweek: Exclusive: Inside the Mysterious ‘Death’ of Taliban Leader Mullah Omar.

CNN is still obsessed with the missing plane story: Increasing confidence plane wreckage is from MH370, Australian official says.

Hillary Clinton.com: Letter to the New York Times’ Dean Baquet.

Washington Post: Clinton knocks Bush’s ‘Right to Rise’ pitch in National Urban League speech.

The Hill: Sanders vows no third-party run in 2016.

New York Times: Jewish Arsonists Suspected in Arson Attack that Killed Palestinian Toddler.

Newsweek: Indiana Clears Planned Parenthood in Fetal Tissue Investigation.

KGNS TV: Primordial soup of compounds found on comet.

Treehugger: New wolf species discovered in Africa.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a wonderful weekend! 


Thursday Reads: The Most Vile, Repugnant People In the World …

new-jesusGood Afternoon!

Religion-based bullies are always the worst of the worst when it comes to meanness because they have that extra self-righteousness about them that infers they can never be wrong even when everything they say and do pretty much violates every tenant you’ve ever come to understand about their religion.  This behavior is as old as religions themselves.  I mean, who really are better bullies than any of the gods?  The Greek gods excelled at it.  The Abrahamic god not only has corned the market but has followers that basically travel from land to land and culture to culture just to act out on hapless indigenous people.

My first real experience happened in high school in the choir room when two upper class boys decided I needed a lesson in the humility they believe was shown by Jesus.  Of course this was just old fashioned misogyny which is really one of the oldest tricks in the bullying books written by those following the entire Iron Age myth of the Abrahamic god.  Believe me, I was traumatized by being held down for a period of time and shouted at on the choir risers about basically being an uppity woman who really needs to understand what jeebus wants her to do.  Women aren’t allowed to be too talented, too smart, too pretty, and not passive enough.  I’ve really just started talking about this craziness around 40 odd years after the fact. I had no idea what to make of it or do about it as a teenage girl who had to deal with these guys daily.

When any one asks me what one thing I would eliminate in the world if I could I answer quite quickly.  It would be religion.

My second experience was, of course, my lesson in what neighbors are really about when I ran for office as a pro-choice Republican. Nothing, believe me nothing stands up to what fetus festishists can do. Lying and bullying are rituals for them. The day I started getting messages on the answering machine telling me where my small children had been and what abortion “procedure” they’d perform on them was the day I decided I wanted to leave that state and NEVER go back.  I’d stack the lot of these Fetus Fetishists up against ISIS.  They’re actually worse because most of them have the benefit of an education, a job, and life in a first world country. We are resplendent in religious bullies these days.  From Bibi Netanyahu, to Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and just about every dude in the Government of Saudi Arabia.  I could probably just spend a post of thousands of words listing them all.

So, I’m going to start with a story out of Alabama where a prisoner has been basically bullied into carrying a pregnancy to term.  It starts out with the State seeking to 6ita2vend the parental rights of the pregnant woman. These multiple attempts confusing fried chicken with scrambled eggs always concern me.

The state of Alabama is petitioning a court to strip a pregnant prisoner of parental rights in order to prevent her from obtaining an abortion.

Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly said Wednesday the woman won’t have legal standing to seek an abortion if a court takes away her parental rights.

The woman has already asked a federal judge to order the county to let her have an abortion. A ruling is expected Friday. Her lawyer says any decision by a federal judge would trump any decision by the court in Lauderdale County.

The head of the Alabama State Bar Association’s family law section calls the state’s request “absurd.”

The woman has now dropped her bid to get an abortion.  I have no doubt that she was coerced into serving as an incubator.

An Alabama prisoner who went to federal court seeking an abortion filed a court document Wednesday saying she’d changed her mind and wanted to give birth, after the state had sought to prevent her from undergoing the procedure.

The sworn statement, filed on behalf of a woman identified only as Jane Doe, didn’t say whether the state’s action resulted in the change of heart. In the document, the woman said she made the decision on her own without any “undue influence, duress, or threat of harm.”

“After much consideration and counsel, I … have decided that I no longer desire to pursue an abortion procedure and intend to carry the unborn child to full term and birth,” she said in the statement.

The document was filed by Maurice McCaney, an attorney appointed to represent the woman in juvenile court, where the state had petitioned court authorities to strip the pregnant prisoner of parental rights in order to prevent her from obtaining an abortion.

McCaney didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment. Neither did Randall Marshall, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who represented the woman in the federal lawsuit seeking an abortion.

The Lauderdale County prisoner had originally filed a federal lawsuit last week against a local sheriff, seeking a court order that would clear the way for an abortion. A federal judge had said he would rule by Friday on her request.

In the meantime, the state had sought to terminate her parental rights over the unborn child.

Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly recently said the prisoner in question would be stripped of her legal standing to seek an abortion if the court took away her parental rights. Connolly said via email that he filed the request on the state’s behalf.

The woman, who filed suit July 20 against Sheriff Rick Singleton, said in the earlier court documents that she was unable to obtain an abortion before going to jail, and denying her one violates her constitutional rights. Court papers do not say why the woman is in custody or provide any personal information about her, but Connolly said she is an adult. A court-appointed attorney was named to act as guardian for the fetus.

The woman, who is in her first trimester of pregnancy, had at the time urged a federal judge to order the county to let her leave jail to have an abortion that she planned to pay for privately. Her ACLU attorney, Marshall, had said a federal court ruling in favor of the woman would trump an attempt by the state to stop her from having the procedure.

This amounts to forced servitude. But of course, who argued more briskly for the rights of southerners to own slaves but the same group of religious fanatics.  These are the same yahoos that are threatening to shut down the government–yet again–over funding of Planned Parenthood.  The basis is the highly deceptive video put out showing the process of fetal tissue donation has triggered the outrage in the ignorant again. The worst outcry is, of course, the old dudes who are insisting the gawd told them to run for President of the world’s oldest secular democracy.

Calling next week’s Senate roll call to defund Planned Parenthood a “legislative show vote,” GOP firebrand Ted Cruz said Republicans should do everything they can to eliminate federal money for the group — even if it means a government shutdown fight this fall.

He’s not alone. On Wednesday afternoon, 18 House Republicans told leadership that they “cannot and will not support any funding resolution … that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood.” Meanwhile, GOP social conservatives like Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama said they’d consider supporting an effort to attach a spending rider that would eliminate Planned Parenthood’s $528 million in annual government funding to must-pass spending legislation this fall.

It’s a potentially ominous sign for GOP leaders desperate to avoid another shutdown debacle. While Cruz may be radioactive in the Senate GOP conference after calling his leader a liar, his analysis of next week’s vote has merit: With Democrats vowing to block the measure, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) won’t be able to get the 60 votes he needs to advance the bill next week, a result that likely won’t satisfy a conservative base itching for confrontation over abortion.

In a Wednesday interview, Cruz said the GOP should go as hard as it can to block funding for Planned Parenthood, including the same strategy he tried to use to defund Obamacare in 2013: force the issue by blocking funding in a government spending bill that must pass by Sept. 30.

Asked whether he would support such a maneuver again, Cruz replied: “I would support any and all legislative efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. We do not need a legislative show-vote.”

On the other side of the Capitol, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) said dozens of House Republicans will back his effort to oppose any spending bill — whether a continuing resolution stopgap or longer-term funding package — that includes any money for Planned Parenthood.

“This is one of those line-in-the-sand type of issues,” Mulvaney said Wednesday. “Every time we say we don’t want to spend money on something, the answer is it will provoke a shutdown.”

Mitch McConnell is already in the process of setting the vote date. He’s actually fast tracked the vote.

anti-christian-bigotryCecile Richards took to the Op-Ed pages of WAPO to call these freaks out.

The most recent attacks in this decades-long campaign represent a new low.

These extremists created a fake business, made apparently misleadingcorporate filings and then used false government identifications to gain access to Planned Parenthood’s medical and research staff with the agenda of secretly filming without consent — then heavily edited the footage to make false and absurd assertions about our standards and services. They spent three years doing everything they could — not to uncover wrongdoing, but rather to create it. They failed.

While predictably these videos do not show anything illegal on Planned Parenthood’s part, medical and scientific conversations can be upsetting to hear, and I immediately apologized for the tone that was used, which did not reflect the compassion that people have come to know and expect from Planned Parenthood.

While our opponents have been working to create scandal and panic where none exists, doctors and nurses at Planned Parenthood health centers have continued to provide care to thousands of women, men and young people every day — contraception, cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and safe and legal abortion.

Control of women is central to the dictums of oppressive religions and a way of justifying violence and violations of women’s autonomy and humanity.  Patriarchal religions–throwbacks to the Iron Age–still support some of the worst inhumane practices imaginable all over the world.  The United States is no exception.

Last month, 13-year-old Izabel Laxamana put on a sports bra and some leggings, took a picture, and sent it to a boy at school. Soon, administrators at Tacoma, Washington’s Giaudrone Middle School, where Izzy was poised to finish her seventh-grade year, heard about the picture. Izzy’s parents were called. As Tacoma police would later report to the News Tribune, the Laxamanas expressed concern that their daughter had been sending selfies of any kind. They had warned her against using social media. If she disobeyed, they had told her, they’d cut off her hair.

Back at home, Izzy’s father, Jeff, made good on the threat. On May 27, he cut her hair to her shoulders, leaving just one long strand untouched. Then, he started filming. His camera panned from Izzy’s downcast face to the heap of glossy black strands at her feet. “The consequences of getting messed up. Man, you lost all that beautiful hair,” her father said. “Was it worth it?”

“No,” Izzy replied softly.

The next morning at school, staff members helped weave Izzy’s hair into a French braid in an attempt to hide the damage. But a new humiliating social media artifact—her father’s video—was now being passed from phone to phone. School administrators heard about that, too. This time, they called child protective services. School counselors were dispatched to aid Izzy. The next day, just before school let out, Izzy wrote eight notes on her iPod to family and friends, passed the device to a friend, headed to a bridge over the highway that separated the school from the mall, and jumped. She died in the hospital the next day.

Women and children are still subjected to laws and legal treatment that assign them chattel status.  This happens with the explicit consent of many religions and danishcartoon_0religious. Granted, not all religious people and their practice of beliefs fall under this purview. But, when one of two governing parties falls under the sway of a cult, it’s women and children who pay the price.  Think about this again.  The State of Alabama argued that their right to crawl inside the body of a woman in the first trimester of a pregnancy and run around a constitutional right happened just this month. The Republicans in Congress have been on a jihad against what stands as the sole provider of women’s health services in many states.  They’re not defunding abortions.  They did that with the Hyde amendment.  What they want to defund is access cancer screenings, birth control and basic health care.

I can’t even start in on the impact this nonsense has had on every GLBT American whose lives are riddled with religious bullying continually.

Here’s an example today from Israel that’s pretty vile. Six people were stabbed by an Orthodox Jewish man during a gay pride parade.

A homosexual-hating Orthodox Jew stabbed six marchers Thursday at Jerusalem’s annual gay pride parade before he was wrestled to the ground.

Yishai Schlissel, who had recently been released from prison for stabbing several people at a gay pride parade in 2005, attacked without warning as the marchers were going through the Jewish side of the divided city, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

Dressed in a dark suit, Schlissel stabbed several people in the back as cheers turned to screams and blood spattered on the street.

“I saw an ultra-Orthodox youth stabbing everyone in his way,” witness Shai Aviyor told Israel’s Channel 2 television. “We heard people screaming, everyone ran for cover, and there were bloodied people on the ground.”

While medics rushed in to take care of the wounded, police officers on horseback corralled the bearded suspect before he could do more harm, Samri said.

That’s the problem. Every day I read yet another instance where some one insists their pet superstition should rule the rest of us AND there’s an entire major political party just willing to let them have at the rest of us in this country.  One of the strangest things I always here when people start Muslim bashing is the question of where are the “moderate” Muslims? Why aren’t they condemning these radicals?  Well, the same could be said of the moderates practicing any religion. Standing up to the folks who use religious beliefs to bully and hurt other people is as much the duty of a believer as it is to the victims of those believers.

The State of Alabama probably won its case by letting this woman known that her life was theirs one way or another so she might as well give up her constitutional rights and act like a good little sperm vessel.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: Like the Dormouse said, feed your head …

opalized woodGood Morning!

It’s been a horrible few weeks and I’m in for some things that are interesting and will feed my brain for a change.  For example, That’s a  beautiful piece of opalized wood providing those rainbow colors and it’s selling for around $7000 if you’ve just gotta have it.

I’m not sure you’ve read how the excavations at Jamestown have been going recently but they’ve found some interesting graves.  (Yeah, you know me and my thing for old graves.)   They’ve discovered four bodies and one very odd box.

When his friends buried Capt. Gabriel Archer here about 1609, they dug his grave inside a church, lowered his coffin into the ground and placed a sealed silver box on the lid.

This English outpost was then a desperate place. The “starving time,” they called it. Scores had died of hunger and disease. Survivors were walking skeletons, besieged by Indians, and reduced to eating snakes, dogs and one another.

The tiny, hexagonal box, etched with the letter “M,” contained seven bone fragments and a small lead vial, and it probably was an object of veneration, 20150727_JAMESTOWN_imagecherished as disaster closed in on the colony.

On Tuesday, more than 400 years after the mysterious box was buried, Jamestown Rediscovery and the Smithsonian Institution announced that archaeologists have found it, as well as the graves of Archer and three other VIPs.

“It’s the most remarkable archaeology discovery of recent years,” said James Horn, president of Jamestown Rediscovery, which made the find. “It’s a huge deal.”

Boys in the BoatSo, my brother-in-law is retiring on his next birthday and my sister has a great gift idea.  She’s getting him a Kindle and asking us to tell her what book we’d like to load up there for him.  I’m torn between 1Q84 by Haruki Marukami, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy O’Toole, and Fooled by Randomness by Nassem Nicholas Taleb.  I had to ask what others are offering up too.  Doctor Daughter and Doctor Son-in-Law wanted all the Game of Thrones books.  Youngest Daughter chose Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  The book that was offered up the most times was The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.  So, now I’ve decided I have to read those last two.  What book would you offer up for a newly retired guy with a lot of time on his hands?

I just learned about the group of unlikely working class boys from Washington that beat all kinds of uppity crusty rowers and the NAZIs to win the 1936 Olympic Rowing medal.

On the morning of Aug. 14, many people in Seattle woke up excited to catch the regatta’s final event live on CBS. Those listeners had a vested interest in the race. The United States team, a crew from the University of Washington, came very close to missing the trip to Berlin. Immediately following the Huskies’ victory in the Olympic trials, the team was informed by the U.S. Olympic Committee that it needed to come up with $5,000 to pay its way to Berlin. Seeing an opening, Henry Penn Burke—chairman of the Olympic Rowing Committee and a University of Pennsylvania alum—offered to send his beloved Quakers in place of the Huskies. The sports editors of Seattle’s top two newspapers, outraged on behalf of the local heroes, enlisted newsboys to solicit donations while hawking papers. With American Legion posts and Chambers of Commerce throughout the state chipping in, enough money was collected in three days to send the team to Berlin. As a consequence of the funding drive, remembered Gordon Adam, who rowed in the three-seat, “people in the city felt that they were stockholders in the operation.”

The Washington crew had been rowing together for less than five months prior to the Olympics. Coach Al Ulbrickson had originally named a different group of rowers as the varsity at the start of the college season. The second boat, made up of strong but inexperienced oarsmen, knew they rowed faster than the first string and was angered by the slight. After the varsity shoved off the dock for their first practice, the angry eight carried their boat to the water silently. “We were standing about a little bit after we put the oars in the oarlock,” Moch explained to me the year before he died. “Somebody said, ‘You know this thing is going to fly.’ ”

The teammates soon devised a mantra. Quietly, they would repeat the letters L-G-B. When asked the meaning, they would explain it stood for “Let’s get better.” What it really meant was “Let’s go to Berlin.”

You can read more about the rowing team and the 1936 Olympics which is best known for Jessie Owens’ amazing performance.

Hillary Clinton has taken a stand against Big Oil and the Koch Brothers in Iowa.  Go Hillary!!HIllary

Hillary Clinton vowed to take away big oil’s subsidies and use the money for clean energy while campaigning in Iowa.

During a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, Clinton laid out her vision for combating climate change by encouraging clean energy technology.

In the process, she dropped a bomb on the Koch brothers:

We will make America the world’s clean energy superpower.

We will develop and deploy the clean energy technologies of the future. Transform our grid to give Americans more control over the energy they produce and consume. And yes, I will defend President Obama’s Clean Power Plant—Clean Power Plan against attacks from Republicans and their corporate backers.

We’ll launch a Clean Energy Challenge that supports and partners with states, cities, and rural communities that are ready to lead on clean energy.

We’ll stop the giveaways to big oil companies and extend, instead, tax incentives for clean energy, while making them more cost-effective for both taxpayers and producers.

We’ll support—and improve—the Renewable Fuel Standard that has been such a success for Iowa and much of rural America.

 

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The happiest news I’ve had for awhile is the return of Bloom County. 

Fans of the well-loved comic strip Bloom County are celebrating this morning, after cartoonist Berkeley Breathed issued the first panels of his satirical strip in decades.

Breathed won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on Bloom County back in 1987; two years later, he quit producing it. On Sunday, he posted a photo of himself to Facebook in which he sat in front of a computer screen with an empty cartoon template titledBloom County 2015.

“A return after 25 years. Feels like going home,” he wrote.

And on Monday, one of Breathed’s central characters, Opus, awoke from his long slumber with a question:

“That was some nap!! How long was I out, Milo?”

“25 years.”

Breathed released the new strip via Facebook. The most popular comment on his post seems to sum up many fans’ response: “And suddenly the world is back in alignment. Thank you Sir.”

Yes.  Thank you Sir.  I’ll have another.

So, this is a totally open thread because I’m probably having another challenging day while you’re reading this.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: Cosby and Crimes Against Women and Children

new-york-magazine-bill-cosby

Good Morning!!

New York Magazine’s latest cover features 35 women who say they were drugged and sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby. At the moment the link to the “13-page photo essay” is unavailable–apparently the site has crashed.

From The Guardian: Bill Cosby accusers detail trauma and betrayal in magazine.

Thirty-five women who have accused Bill Cosby of raping them have spoken out in an explosive photo essay for New York magazine. More than 40 women have so far accused the comedian of sexual assault, but the cover story represents a sea change in how the comedian’s alleged victims have been publicly perceived.

On Sunday, the magazine published excerpts of interviews with each woman for a 13-page photo essay, covering accusations they have made against the comedian and the backlash they have faced.

“Listen, he was America’s favorite dad,” saidBarbara Bowman, who says she was raped as a 17-year-old actress. She made her case public in 2004, when testifying on behalf of Andrea Constand, who said she was also one of Cosby’s victims.

“I went into this thinking he was going to be my dad,” Bowman told the magazine. “To wake up half-dressed and raped by the man that said he was going to love me like a father? That’s pretty sick.

“It was hard for America to digest when this came out. And a lot of backlash and a lot denial and a lot of anger.”

Inside Higher Ed reports: Spelman Discontinues Cosby Professorship.

Spelman College announced Friday that it is discontinuing an endowed professorship named for Bill Cosby and his wife. “The William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship at Spelman College has been discontinued and related funds have been returned to the Clara Elizabeth Jackson Carter Foundation,” said a statement from the college. A spokeswoman declined to comment further. Bill and Camille Cosby are major donors to Spelman and an academic building is named for Camille Cosby. The Clara Elizabeth Jackson Carter Foundation was created by Bill Cosby to provide grants to historically black colleges.

The hardest thing for many people to understand about this is the way Camille Cosby has stood by her husband through the many years it has taken for this entire ugly business to play out. Was she simply in denial? Was she reluctant to give up the money and fame that came with being the wife of a powerful man? We may never know, but she was apparently an active force in her husband’s defense.

Bill and Camille Cosby

Bill and Camille Cosby

From the July 12 New York Post: Bill Cosby’s wife says accusers ‘consented’ to drugs and sex.

Bill Cosby’s wife knows her husband is a serial philanderer, but believes his scores of accusers consented to drugs and sex, two confidants of the couple say.

Last week’s revelation that Cosby admitted during a deposition that he intended to ply women with Quaaludes before bedding them barely fazed Camille Cosby, the ­insiders told The Post.

“Camille still doesn’t believe that Bill provided drugs and had sex with women without their consent,” said a source employed by the Cosby family. “She’s well aware of his cheating, but she doesn’t believe that her husband is a rapist.”

Mrs. Cosby is “a proud, dignified but stubborn woman. You can say that she’s standing by her husband, but really, the more people stand against him, the more she perceives it as an affront to her and all that she’s done to make him a star,” said another source who’s done business with the ­Cosbys and remains close to them.

Camille Cosby, 71, who is also her 78-year-old husband’s business manager, demanded last week at a crisis meeting with advisers that their lawyers and p.r. specialists “get back out in front of this,” the business source said.

“I created him, I knew what I was getting and we’ll fix this,” she told the gathering at a meeting at the couple’s Shelburne Falls, Mass., home Tuesday night.

There’s more disgusting stuff at the link. According to the Post’s sources, Camille was also angered that longtime Cosby defenders have been changing their positions in light of recent revelations.

At Refinery 29, Kelsey Miller argues that women like Dottie Sandusky (wife of convicted child rapist Jerry Sandusky) and Camille Cosby can be simultaneoursly enablers and victims.

The Complicated Case Of Camille Cosby.

It is easy and tempting to make assumptions about Camille Cosby. “That poor woman,” some say. “That idiot,” say others. And, to some, she is “that monster.” Pity or vilification are the textbook responses to spouses in these cases. Watching and waiting for Camille’s next move, I’m reminded of last year’s TODAYinterview with Dottie Sandusky (wife of Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who in 2012 was found guilty of sexually abusing 10 boys)….

Last week, The New York Post shared a widely reported story that Camille (also her husband’s business manager) had held a crisis meeting with Bill’s team to discuss damage control. “I created him. I knew what I was getting, and we’ll fix this,” she was quoted by a source as having said. It was also alleged that she referred to the “infidelities” as an embarrassment she’d long since reconciled herself with, and emphasized them as just that — affairs, and not assaults.

Of course, reports like this should be taken with a hefty handful of salt, but it’s worth noting that Camille’s supposed remarks are certainly in keeping with Cosby’s own in the deposition. Both reveal the kind of psychological gymnastics that allow someone to leap over the evidence at hand — to find acceptable, ordinary dalliances where many would see something much more sinister….

To believe that Camille Cosby is an evil, calculating accomplice to the crimes her husband’s been accused of would be to ignore the possibility that she’s just another victim of those same alleged crimes.

Conversely, to believe that Dottie Sandusky is merely a naive grandma would be to ignore the magnificent power of deliberate denial. We know nothing of the internal lives of these women, nor can we speak to the dynamic of their marriages. Is it likely they knew of their husbands’ actions? Certainly. It is just as likely that they were subject to manipulation and abuse themselves.

The point being: One does not cancel out the other. It’s a cognitive dissonance that neither mainstream media nor its consumers can seem to resolve. We want clear answers and archetypes, and instead we’re stuck with real people, none of whom are entirely good or entirely monstrous.

I suppose Miller has a point, but it’s difficult for me to have much sympathy with either of these enabling wives. Each of these women appear to have actively covered up their husbands’ criminal behavior and allowed these men to damage the lives of so many young men and women.

Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland

Also in the news . . .

CBS Local 11: History Of Racial Tension Where Bland Died.

Waller County was named for Edwin Waller, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico in 1836, who four years later became the first elected mayor of Austin. Whites make up 44 percent of the 47,000 residents, Hispanics 29 percent and blacks 25 percent.

First settled in the early 1820s, the area became home to slave-labor cotton plantations. Hempstead was incorporated in 1858 thanks to a railroad terminus.

The plantations were dismantled with the end of the Civil War in 1865. Three years later, historical records report a race riot, followed by unrest in the 1880s, when a White Man’s Party was established to blunt active black political participation in the county where blacks outnumbered whites.

That’s when violence blamed on the Ku Klux Klan and other extremist groups gave it the “Six Shooter” sobriquet.

More recently, voter intimidation and voting-rights complaints have arisen from students at Prairie View A&M University, a college established in 1876 specifically to train black teachers.

The complaints led to a federal lawsuit. The district attorney at the time, in 2004, reached a settlement and apologized. But the issue resurfaced only two years later and again in 2008, when additional early voting sites in the county were established only after federal pressure.

“There’s a lot of prejudice going on,” said Eugene Hood, citing a history of police harassment as he cut hair at Chad’s Barber Shop on University Drive, just south of where Bland was arrested outside the main entrance to the university.

Marie Armstrong of Dallas, a Prairie View senior, remembers being pulled over and ticketed for a broken brake light and being forced to go court. She wished police would exercise some judgment.

More at the link.

A courageous woman who killed a man who was beating and trying to strangle her may have rid the world of a dangerous serial killer. David Lohr at Huffington Post:  Neal Falls, Man Killed By Escort, Had Cache Of Weapons And List Of Prostitutes, Police Say.

Neal Falls, the man shot to death by a prostitute after he attacked her on Saturday, had a cache of weapons and a list of online escorts inside his vehicle, police said Wednesday.

The items, as well as statements the woman said Falls made to her, led police to suspect he may have been involved in other unsolved crimes.

“He had a machete, shovel, two axes, a bunch of knives, a double-headed ax, a bulletproof vest, numerous sets of handcuffs, as well as the firearm used to kill him,” Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston, West Virginia, police department, told The Huffington Post.

Police also found a list containing the names of an unspecified number of women inside the man’s vehicle.

Photo of Neil Falls surrounded by photos of the "murder kit" police found in his car. (Source: Huffington Post)

Photo of Neil Falls surrounded by photos of the “murder kit” police found in his car. (Source: Huffington Post)

More details from a previous report by Lohr:

The man…was shot and killed in Charleston, West Virginia, on Saturday, according to WCHS-TV. The incident reportedly occurred after he met a female escort through Backpage.com, an online classified ad portal that is often used by men seeking prostitutes.

“The details that we’re able to release right now are that there was a struggle … that the man had beaten and strangled the woman and gotten her onto the ground, laid the gun down as he was dragging her back through the house, and she was able to pick the gun up and fire over her shoulder blindly, and the bullet did strike the man, killing him,” Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper told the Charleston Gazette on Saturday.

Police in nearby Chillicothe, OH, are looking into the possibility that Falls could be responsible for the disappearances of 6 Ohio women.

“We are in communication with Charleston regarding that situation,” Bud Lytle, a spokesman and crime prevention officer for the Chillicothe Police Department, told The Huffington Post. “Obviously, it’s not a great distance from us and it involved a prostitute and an individual known to pick up prostitutes.”

Falls, who was originally from Oregon, is also be investigated by authorities in Nevada, according to Lohr: Neal Falls Investigation Expands To Las Vegas-Area Dismemberments: EXCLUSIVE

“We received information that caused a conversation to take place between us and law enforcement in Henderson, Nevada,” Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston, West Virginia, police department, told The Huffington Post on Thursday.

Cooper said he couldn’t discuss specific cases Nevada authorities are now looking into because the investigation “is ongoing and we don’t want to risk comprising [sic] it.”

The FBI also is investigating, a law enforcement source told The Huffington Post on Friday. A spokesman didn’t immediately answer a request for comment.

CBS News: Woman who killed alleged serial killer recounts final fight.

Falls was answering an online ad for an escort, police said, when he showed up to a Charleston, West Virginia, home.

The woman, who wants only to be known as “Heather,” answered the door.

She said Falls, armed with a gun, asked her: “live or die?” Then he started choking her.

“When he strangled me, I grabbed my rake, and when he laid the gun down to get the rake out of my hands, I shot him,” Heather said. “I grabbed the gun and shot behind me.”

Heather ran out of the house and flagged down a neighbor, who called 911. The neighbor said she “had to defend herself,” and she had “cuts and stuff all over her.” ….

Police are not charging Heather for the shooting, which they say was in self-defense. “I knew he was there to kill me,” Heather said.

See a video of Heather describing her ordeal at WCHS ABC Local 8.

This turned into a post about crime, but–as I have written previously–for me rape and sexual assault are political issues. Crimes against women and children are often ignored and covered up in our society, with the media as enabler.

Movie shooter John Russell Houser

Movie shooter John Russell Houser

Just take a look at Dakinikat’s post from yesterday. She points out that the media are largely ignoring the fact that Louisiana mass shooter John Russell Houser specifically targeted women who were watching a movie created by a feminist.

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

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

Please check out Dak’s post if you haven’t read it yet.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a nice Monday.


Lazy Saturday Reads: Is The New York Times Morphing Into A Scandal Sheet?

new-york-times-building-16486177

Good Morning!!

Early Friday morning, The New York Times published a story about Hillary Clinton on the front page below the fold. In it reporters Michael Schmitt and Matt Apuzo stated that–according to unnamed government sources–a criminal investigation into emails from Hillary Clinton’s server was in the offing.

The story’s lead soon had to be altered, and in the course of the yesterday, the story fell apart. Dylan Byers reported the changes at Politico at 4:58AM Friday.

New York Times alters Clinton email story.

The New York Times made small but significant changes to an exclusive reportabout a potential criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s State Department email account late Thursday night, but provided no notification of or explanation for of the changes.

The paper initially reported that two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation “into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state.”

That clause, which cast Clinton as the target of the potential criminal probe, was later changed: the inspectors general now were asking for an inquiry “into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state.”

The Times also changed the headline of the story, from “Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email” to “Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account,” reflecting a similar recasting of Clinton’s possible role. The article’s URL was also changed to reflect the new headline.

As of early Friday morning, the Times article contained no update, notification, clarification or correction regarding the changes made to the article.

Whoever it is at the NYT who is making decisions based on Clinton hatred is making a laughing stock of what was once considered “the newspaper of record.”

bette-frontpage-6-doctormacro

Salon: Another shoddy Clinton smear: Anatomy of the New York Times’ epic email screw-up (emphasis added).

Late last night, The New York Times published an anonymously sourced reported, titled ”Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email,” that claimed two inspectors general asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether the Democratic presidential frontrunner “mishandled” sensitive government information by using a personal email account and server while she was secretary of state. That story quickly fizzled by early Friday morning, with the Justice Department quashing talk of a criminal probe, although a new report claims Clinton sent at least four emails that contained classified intelligence community information from her private server while at the State Department.

 A spokesperson for the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that a review of 40 of the 30,000 emails Clinton has released from her time in office found that four “were classified when they were sent and are classified now.” Clinton had previously claimed she never sent classified emails using her personal server, although the State Department has later acknowledged that some information in the messages should be retroactively classified.

But even that was incorrect, as reported Michael Schmidt had to admit on Hardball With Chris Matthews last night (thanks for Dakinikat for telling me about the MSNBC report. If you watch it, you’ll learn that there never was any criminal investigation and that the emails in question were not even sent by Hillary. They were messages that may have been sent to her that contained information that probably should have been marked classified, but were not so marked.

The best part of the Matthews segment was his interview with Representative Elijah Cummings, who explained why the story is just plain B.S. and not worth the paper it was printed on. Here’s the segment as posted on YouTube.

Back to the Salon story:

The Clinton campaign came out forcefully against the news, much swifter than they had with the initial round of New York Times reporting on the use of Clinton’s email account, with a campaign spokesman railing against “reckless, inaccurate leaks from partisan sources.”  After allegedly receiving complaints on the report’s accuracy from the Clinton campaign, The Times changed the article’s title to ”Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account,”and most crucially, walked back the claim that Clinton herself was the target of the probe. A spokesman for the campaign released a statement on Twitter early this morning blasting the report:

Contrary to the initial story, which has already been significantly revised, she followed appropriate practices in dealing with classified materials. As has been reported on multiple occasions, any released emails deemed classified by the administration have been done so after the fact, and not at the time they were transmitted.”

Citizen Kane

Kurt Eichenwald at Newsweek: How The New York Times Bungled the Hillary Clinton Emails Story.

What the hell is happening at The New York Times?

In March, the newspaper published a highly touted article about Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email account that, as I wrote in an earlier column, was wrong in its major points. The Times’s public editor defended that piece, linking to a lengthy series of regulations that, in fact, proved the allegations contained in the article were false. While there has since been a lot of partisan hullaballoo about “email-bogus-gate”—something to be expected when the story involves a political party’s presidential front-runner—the reality remained that, when it came to this story, there was no there there.

Deadline-USA-3

Then, on Thursday night, the Times dropped a bombshell: Two government inspectors general had made a criminal referral to the Justice Department about Clinton and her handling of the emails. The story was largely impenetrable, because at no point did it offer even a suggestion of what might constitute a crime. By Friday morning, the Times did what is known in the media trade as a “skin back”—the article now said the criminal referral wasn’t about Clinton but about the department’s handling of emails. Still, it conveyed no indication of what possible crime might be involved.

The story seemed to further fall apart on Friday morning when Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) issued a statement saying that he had spoken to the inspector general of the State Department and that there had been no criminal referral regarding Clinton’s email usage. Rather, Cummings said, the inspectors general for State and the intelligence community had simply notified the Justice Department—which issues the regulations on Freedom of Information Act requests—that some emails subject to FOIA review had been identified as classified when they had not previously been designated that way.

Fall2012Paklula7

But Eichenwald says the problems with he story “may” be even worse.

But based on a review of documents from the inspectors general, the problems with the story may be worse than that—much, much worse. The reason my last sentence says may is this: There is a possibility—however unlikely—that theTimes cited documents in its article that have the same dates and the same quotes but are different from the records I have reviewed. I emailed Dean Baquet, the Times’s executive editor, to ask if there are some other records the paper has and a series of other questions, but received no response. (Full disclosure: I’m a former senior writer for the Times and have worked with Baquet in the past.)

So, in an excess of caution, I’m leaving open the possibility that there are other documents with the same quotes on the same dates simply because the other conclusion—that The New York Times is writing about records its reporters haven’t read or almost willfully didn’t understand—is, for a journalist, simply too horrible to contemplate.

Indeed, if the Times article is based on the same documents I read, then the piece is wrong in all of its implications and in almost every particular related to the inspector generals’ conclusions. These are errors that go far beyond whether there was a criminal referral of Clinton’s emails or a criminal referral at all. Sources can mislead; documents do not.

Please go read the whole thing at the link.

His_Girl_Friday_5

Media Matters’ take on the story: The Unanswered Questions From The NY Times‘ Debunked Clinton Emails Report.

The New York Times‘ dramatic changes to their initial, anonymously-sourced claim that federal investigators were seeking a criminal probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email raises significant questions about the paper’s reporting of the story.

Read the whole thing at the link, but here are the questions:

“Who were the Times’ sources?”

It’s still unclear, but whoever they were they apparently burned the Times and they should be outed, according to a Media Matter source.

“Did the Times seek documentary evidence of the referrals for a criminal probe?” 

The answer seems to be no.

Front page scene

“Did The Times Reach Out To Democrats On The Benghazi Committee Before Publication?”

Again the answer seems to be no. The story only quoted Republicans.

“Did The Times Reach Out To The Inspectors General Before Publication?”

Apparently not.

Quoting Kurt Eichenwald, “What the hell is happening at The New York Times?” Are they trying to become The New York Post? The powers that be at the Times need to start providing some answers.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and have a terrific weekend!


Friday Reads: Here We Go Again …

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Gallery:  Grand Theater Shooting Scene

Photo Gallery: Grand Theater Shooting Scene

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

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

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

Here are some of the details. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone reading headlines these days know these are major problems.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday Reads

Lane change

Good Afternoon!!

I’m getting a very slow start today–sorry about that! This is going to be pretty much a link dump.

I just can’t stop thinking about Sandra Bland and Kindra Chapman–who still isn’t getting much attention from the national media. There is a nice article about Kindra in The Independent UK today.

Kindra Darnell Chapman was booked at the Homewood County Jail on a first-degree robbery charge after allegedly stealing another person’s cellphone, AL.com reported.

Family members and activists have compared the teen’s death to the case of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old woman found hanged in a Texas jail cell just a day prior. Kathy Brady, the teen’s mother told AL.com that she believes police officers have killed her daughter….

A family member, who requested to not be identified, told My Fox Alabama that Chapman was a “wonderful person who did not deserve this.”

“She was a great person. She loved her sisters, her brother, she loved everybody. She had her whole life ahead of her.”

Kindra Chapman

Kindra Chapman

Police claim Kindra committed suicide. Two so-called suicides of black women in two days? Their families are demanding answers and Americans need to make sure they get truthful ones.

Police claim they last saw her alive at 6:30pm and at 7:50pm, they found her hanged by a bedsheets in her cell. The teen was rushed to Brookwood Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

A Change.org petition titled “We want immediate full disclosure on the alleged suicide of Kindra Darnell Chapman” demands transparency in the ongoing investigation. Nearly 2,700 signatures supported the petition as of Thursday morning.

A spokesperson from the Jefferson County DA’s office told The Independent that the autopsy may take up to four weeks and toxicology report may take six to eight, a usual time frame for the reports in Alabama.

The Sandra Bland case is getting massive coverage. Yesterday it was revealed that the video of Bland’s arrest had serious anomalies. The first to call attention to this was journalist Ben Norton. From his website: Dashcam Video of Violent Arrest of Sandra Bland Was Edited. If you go to that link, there are a number of updates. From the original piece:

The Texas Department of Public Safety uploaded dashcam police video of the arrest to YouTube on 21 July. Parts of the approximately 52 minutes of footage it uploaded appear to have been doctored.

A man leaves the truck in the center of the frame at 25:05. For the next 15 seconds, he walks toward the right of the frame and leaves. At 25:19, he suddenly appears again, promptly disappears, then returns at 25:22. The same footage of him walking is subsequently repeated….

At 32:37, a white car drives into the left side of the frame, then promptly disappears in the middle of the road. Seconds later, the same car drives back into the frame and subsequently turns left. This footage is later looped several times.

A different white car also drives into the left side of the frame and turns left from 32:49 to 32:59. The previous white car again briefly enters the frame at 33:04, and once more at 33:06, yet it suddenly disappears both times. When these cuts are made in the footage, the lights on top of the truck in the center of the frame also abruptly cut out.

At 33:08, the exact same footage from 32:37 is repeated, followed by the same second white car at 33:17….

It appears that someone cut footage out and looped part of the video in order to correspond with the recorded audio of Texas state trooper Brian Encinia speaking. Who exactly edited the footage is unknown, but the video was recorded by police and released by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland

Please go to the link to read the rest along with multiple updates. Here’s just one:

They told the Texas Tribune that the video has not been edited. This seems unlikely. It is possible parts of the repeated footage are encoding errors, but it is unlikely that the 15-second repeated clip of a man leaving the truck is an encoding error.

Others have also noted that police dashcam videos usually have timecode on the footage. In this video, the timecode do not appear. Why this is is unclear. There is no answer at this point and an investigation needs to be conducted. A possibility some have suggested, however, is that, if the footage was indeed edited, as it likely was, whoever edited it zoomed in on the video or cropped the timecode.

The LA Times has also examined the police videos closely. Today they have a side-by-side comparison of the video with the anomalies vs. the “cleaned-up” video.

As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, Waller County officials are getting plenty of pushback. From KHOU:

Police agencies and city halls throughout Waller County continue to receive angry and sometimes threatening phone calls and emails from across the country after the tragic jail death of Sandra Bland.

And along with the Bland’s death, city leaders and residents say they also mourn the negative national spotlight the incident has brought to this corner of Southeast Texas.

“We are in some way being judged and victimized by people that don’t know us and are making assumptions about us,” said Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis, who has held face-to-face meetings with the Bland family.

Oh, boo hoo. Too f**king bad. Stop victimizing black people who drive cars through your county then.

The corporate media has mostly been focusing on trying to make Bland look like a crazy, depressed drug user. It also turns out she had epilepsy; and when she told the arresting officer that, he said “Good!” as he continued to manhandle her. The simple truth is that she never should have been stopped in the first place; and once she was stopped, the officer escalated the confrontation in unconstitutional ways. Regardless of how she died, Sandra Bland should be alive today and working in her new job.

Selected headlines on the Sandra Bland case:

Huffington Post: 6 Things You Should Know About The County Where Sandra Bland Died. This part of Texas has a long, complicated relationship with race.

Think Progress: What The Supreme Court Has To Say About Sandra Bland’s Arrest.

The New Republic: Sandra Bland Never Should Have Been Arrested.

CNN: Twitter responds to jail deaths with ‘if I die in police custody.’

CBS Chicago: Apparent Voice Mail From Sandra Bland Released; Tests Revealed Marijuana, Cutting Scars.

CTV News: Sandra Bland was incredulous, aggravated in calls from jail: report.

ABC News: Sandra Bland Had ‘Lows and Highs,’ Her Sister Says. (Who the hell doesn’t? I hate to think what they’d write about me from my past history!)

More News Headlines

NY Times: Kenya Trip Takes Obama Back to a Complex Part of Himself.

Dallas Morning News: Kenya eagerly awaits Obama visit.

CNN: Obama’s trip raises security concerns.

LA Times: The Reading Life: Happy birthday to me — and Raymond Chandler. (Today would have been Raymond Chandler’s 127th birthday.)

NY Times:E. L. Doctorow Dies at 84; Literary Time Traveler Stirred Past Into Fiction.

NBC News: Donald Trump’s Border Wall Would Cost Billions, Experts Say.

NY Times: Donald Trump Threatens Third Party Candidacy.

NPR: Texas Fights Suit After Denying Birth Certificates To Children Of Illegal Immigrants.

Raw Story: Lesbian couple breaks silence: We filed complaint against Oregon bakery to ‘stop being bullied.’

Brian Murphy at TPM Cafe: How Walker Turned ‘Job Creation’ Into a Goodie Bag for Campaign Donors.

Dallas Morning News: Ted B. Lyon Jr.: Let’s get real about Rick Perry’s Texas record