Thursday Reads: Ferguson, Missouri is a War Zone

Ferguson2

Good Morning!!

I spent most of the day and night yesterday following the shocking events in Ferguson, Missouri. As I read articles and tweets and studied violent images of police dressed as soldiers and riding in military vehicles, I had repeated flashbacks to the Civil Rights era. Except in those days, police weren’t outfitted with surplus military equipment provided by the Federal government. Back then, the cops had to resort to fire hoses to force people off the streets; but in Ferguson, St. Louis police are equipped with MRAPs (mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles) and LRADs (long-range acoustic devices).

Ferguson isn’t a large city, and reporters on the ground estimated the size of the “crowd” at somewhere between 150 and 250 people, who were largely protesting peacefully by holding their hands in the air and chanting “Hands up. Don’t shoot.” It’s long past time for Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (a Democrat) to step in and tell the cops to calm down and put away their military toys. If he won’t take action, then President Obama should instruct Attorney General Holder to do it.

The protests follow the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a still-unnamed Ferguson policeman last Saturday afternoon. Brown “had no criminal background,” according to KDSK.com. Police claim that Brown struggled with the officer and tried to grab his gun. But that makes no sense. Why did the officer choose to stop Brown as he peacefully walked down the street with a friend? That friend, Dorian Johnson tells a different version of events.

From USA Today: Witness to Michael Brown shooting comes forward.

Dorian Johnson said he was standing inches from Brown when the shooting occurred around 1:40 p.m. Saturday. He gave his account of the shooting to KSDK-TV.

“The officer is approaching us and as he pulled up on the side of us, he didn’t say freeze, halt or anything like we were committing a crime. He said, ‘Get the F on the sidewalk.’

After Johnson said the officer thrust open the door of his patrol car, hitting the pair, Johnson said the officer grabbed Brown around the neck and tried to pull him through the window. He said Brown never tried to reach for the officer’s weapon.

“The second time he says, ‘I’ll shoot,’ a second later the gun went off and he let go,” Johnson said. “That’s how we were able to run at the same time. The first car I see, I ducked behind for because I fear for my life. I’m scared. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t understand why this officer is shooting his weapon at us.”

According to Johnson, the officer pursued Brown and fired another shot. which struck Brown in the back. He said Brown turned and faced the officer with his hands raised.

“My friend started to tell the officer that he was unarmed and that he could stop shooting (him),” Johnson said. “Before he could get his second sentence out, the officer fired several more shots into his head and chest area. He fell dramatically into the fatal position. I did not hear once he yell freeze, stop or halt. it was just horrible to watch.”

Unfortunately for the officer who killed Brown, two more witnesses have now come forward. From CNN:

While Michael Brown appeared to tussle with an officer before he was shot dead, he didn’t enter the police cruiser as authorities claim he did, two witnesses told CNN.

The women’s accounts corroborate that of a previous witness, all three of whom said the officer fatally shot the unarmed teen.

Police have said the black 18-year-old died in a dangerous struggle after trying to grab the officer’s weapon. Not so, say the witnesses.

“It looked as if Michael was pushing off and the cop was trying to pull him in,” Tiffany Mitchell told CNN on Wednesday night.

Mitchell had driven to Ferguson to pick up another woman Piaget Crenshaw. The two women witnessed the shooting from two different angles–Mitchell from her car and Crenshaw from a building nearby.

Neither woman, who gave their statements to St. Louis County police, say they saw Brown enter the vehicle.

Instead, a shot went off, then the teen broke free, and the officer got out of the vehicle in pursuit, the women said.

“I saw the police chase him … down the street and shoot him down,” Crenshaw said. Brown ran about 20 feet.

“Michael jerks his body, as if he’s been hit,” Mitchell said.

Then he faced the officer and put his hands in the air, but the officer kept firing, both women said. He sank to the pavement.

The protests in Ferguson, a town in which the population is 2/3 black but the political leadership and police force are overwhelmingly white, are largely driven by the fact that police will not name the shooter or released the results of Brown’s autopsy, despite Missouri’s sunshine law.

August 13, 2014: A device deployed by police goes off in the street as police and protesters clash in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

August 13, 2014: A device deployed by police goes off in the street as police and protesters clash in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

From The New York Times: Anonymity in Missouri Police Shooting Fuels Frustration.

FERGUSON, Mo. — In the five days since an unarmed young black man was fatally shot by a police officer here, the selective release of information about the shooting, and especially the anonymity granted to the officer, has stoked frustrations in this largely African-American community north of St. Louis, where residents describe increasingly tense relations with the police.

The police chief, Thomas Jackson, has repeatedly declined to identify the officer, who has been put on administrative leave. But on Wednesday, the chief did offer a new detail about the shooting, which has kindled nights of racial unrest and an unyielding police response with tear gas, rubber bullets and arrests.

Jackson claims there have been threats against the police officer and he needs protection. So why not simply arrest him for murder and send his family to a safer location? Instead, Wilson called in law enforcement support from St. Louis and enabled an incredible overreaction to largely peaceful protests. From the Times article:

On Wednesday night, scores of police officers in riot gear and in armored trucks showed up to disperse protesters who had gathered on the streets near the scene of the shooting. Some officers perched atop the vehicles with their guns trained on the crowds while protesters chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” A police spokesman said that some demonstrators had thrown Molotov cocktails at officers and that some had tried to set fires. The police used tear gas on demonstrators, and some protesters said rubber bullets had been fired at them. Police said one officer appeared to have suffered a broken ankle after being hit by a brick.

The police made more than 10 arrests. Among those arrested was Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman, who had been documenting the protests on social media, his wife said on Twitter.

Two reporters covering the protests also said they had been arrested inside a McDonald’s for trespassing and later released without charges or an explanation. The reporters, Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan J. Reilly of The Huffington Post, both said they had been handled roughly by the police.

If you don’t read anything else on the events in Ferguson, read this article and look at the photos.

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More recommended stories:

Mashable: Ferguson or Iraq? Photos Unmask the Militarization of America’s Police.

As America scaled back its presence in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2012, military gear — amphibious tanks, weapons, uniforms and drones — spilled into local police arsenals. In June, an ACLU report warned of the “excessive militarization” of local law enforcement. “This has the effect of terrifying people, destroying communities and actually undermining public safety,” Kara Dansky, ACLU senior counsel, told Mashable in June.

The photos below show the heavily armed Ferguson police officers, dressed in camouflaged uniforms. They are set side-by-side with images of U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of the photo comparisons below. Which was taken in Ferguson and which in Iraq?

Militarization of Police 02

 

NBC News: Michael Brown Killing: Missouri Governor to Visit as Unrest Grows in Ferguson.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said he would visit the St. Louis suburbs Thursday after police fired tear gas to break up crowds in a fourth night of civil unrest over the police killing of an unarmed black teenager.

Sixteen people were arrested, including two reporters, on Wednesday night in the suburb of Ferguson, and police said that two officers were injured, one hit by a brick, NBC affiliate KSDK reported….

Nixon said in a statement that the worsening situation in Ferguson was “deeply troubling.” He canceled a planned visit to the state fair. “While we all respect the solemn responsibility of our law enforcement officers to protect the public, we must also safeguard the rights of Missourians to peaceably assemble and the rights of the press to report on matters of public concern,” he said.

Too little, too late, IMHO.

The Baltimore Sun: Riots in Ferguson and what they mean, by Leonard Pitts.

To believe that this carnage — the windows smashed, the buildings torched, the tear gas wafting — is all about the killing of Michael Brown is to miss the point….

Because, again, this is not just about Brown. It’s about Eric Garner, choked to death in a confrontation with New York City Police. It’s about Jordan Davis, shot to death in Jacksonville, Florida, because he played his music too loud. It’s about Trayvon Martin, shot to death in Sanford, Florida, because a self-appointed neighborhood guardian judged him a thug. It’s about Oscar Grant, shot by a police officer in an Oakland, California, subway station as cellphone cameras watched. It’s about Amadou Diallo, executed in that vestibule and Abner Louima, sodomized with that broomstick. It’s about Rodney King.

And it is about the bitter sense of siege that lives in African-American men, a sense that it is perpetually open season on us.

And that too few people outside of African America really notice, much less care. People who look like you are every day deprived of health, wealth, freedom, opportunity, education, the benefit of the doubt, the presumption of innocence, life itself — and when you try to say this, even when you document it with academic studies and buttress it with witness testimony, people don’t want to hear it, people dismiss you, deny you, lecture you about white victimhood, chastise you for playing a so-called “race card.”

They choke off avenues of protest, prizing silence over justice, mistaking silence for peace. And never mind that sometimes, silence simmers like water in a closed pot on a high flame….the anger we see in Ferguson did not spring from nowhere, nor arrive, fully-formed, when Michael Brown was shot. It is the anger of people who are, as Fannie Lou Hamer famously said, sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Silence imposed on pain cannot indefinitely endure. People who are hurting will always, eventually, make themselves heard.

The only problem with Pitts’ column is that there haven’t been any actual “riots” in Ferguson yet–unless you count what the police are doing as rioting.

Riverfront Times: Watch Police in Ferguson Arrest, Tear Gas Journalists [VIDEO]

Police actions against press seem to be part of the reason Governor Jay Nixon finally decided to cut his Missouri State Fair trip short. The governor says he’ll arrive in St. Louis County Thursday morning to manage what’s increasingly becoming a volatile, violent and devastating time in St. Louis history.

SWAT officers arrested Wesley Lowery, a political reporter at TheWashington Post, and Ryan Reilly, a Huffington Post justice reporter, shortly before 7 p.m. while clearing out a McDonalds near the protests where they were working. The reporters say police asked for their identification and eventually arrested them when they weren’t leaving quickly enough.

The journalists say they were arrested without being read their Miranda writes and eventually released with nothing — no charges, no police report, no names of arresting officers. The Los Angeles Times says police only released them after their reporter alerted the chief of Ferguson Police (His response: “Oh, god,”), who then called St. Louis County Police.

Late last night, police in Ferguson also tried to order the media to shut off their cameras, and they attacked journalists from Al Jazeera and confiscated their equipment. 

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill decided last night that it was time for her to take some action, since Governor Nixon wasn’t doing it. She will meet with Eric Holder today to discuss the Ferguson situation.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) says she has a phone call planned with Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday to discuss the situation in Ferguson, Mo., where an apparently unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by a police officer last weekend.

Amid clashes in the St. Louis suburb Wednesday night, the senator tweeted that she’s been working the phones to try to deescalate the “tense and unacceptable situation.” ….

Holder and White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett briefed President Obama Wednesday and the president will receive another briefing Thursday.

I’ll have to end there, because this post is getting way too long. I’ll post more important links in the comments. I’ll leave it to you Sky Dancers to update me on the rest of the news. I’ve been too focuses on Ferguson to pay attention to anything else. See you in the comment thread.


Wednesday Reads: Another Hollywood Icon Gone…So Long Slim

    Lauren Bacall, the smoky-voiced movie legend who taught Humphrey Bogart how to whistle in "To Have and Have Not," died today in New York at the age of 89.     -- Los Angeles Times 1944. "Lauren Bacall in checkered jacket." Publicity shot from the New York World-Telegram / The Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection.

Lauren Bacall, the smoky-voiced movie legend who taught Humphrey Bogart how to whistle in “To Have and Have Not,” died today in New York at the age of 89.
– Los Angeles Times
1944. “Lauren Bacall in checkered jacket.” Publicity shot from the New York World-Telegram / The Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection.

Baby: 1924-2014 | Shorpy Historical Photo Archive

While many of us are still reeling from the sad loss of Robin Williams by suicide on Monday, news of Lauren Bacall’s death from a stroke on Tuesday evening was another blow that is hard to comprehend….

Watching Bacall and other Hollywood legends so often on TCM you believe that they will live forever. But, as we know earlier this month, this year and late last year, the loss of stars like Jim Garner, Eli Wallach, Ruby Dee, Shirley Temple, Eleanor Parker, Joan Fontaine…isn’t it strange how the death of these iconic talented artists can affect us?

(For a look at more movie people who have passed this year: IMDb: Most Popular People With Date of Death in 2014)

Here’s a group of obits for Lauren Bacall:

Actress Lauren Bacall Dead at 89 | Mediaite

Update- 8:03 pm: And sadly, the news has been officially confirmed by the estate of Humphrey Bogart, the great actor and Bacall’s late husband.

 

Bacall starred alongside Bogart in such classic films as To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Dark Passage and Key Largo. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her supporting role in 1996′s The Mirror Has Two Faces and was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2009 at the age of 84.

Watch a summary of her life and career below, via Bio:

 

Lauren Bacall, Sultry Movie Star, Dies at 89 – NYTimes.com

Ms. Bacall seated on a piano played by Vice President Harry S. Truman in 1945. Credit United Press International

Forever Tied to Bogart

She also expressed impatience, especially in her later years, with the public’s continuing fascination with her romance with Bogart, even though she frequently said that their 12-year marriage was the happiest period of her life.

“I think I’ve damn well earned the right to be judged on my own,” she said in a 1970 interview with The New York Times. “It’s time I was allowed a life of my own, to be judged and thought of as a person, as me.”

Years later, however, she seemed resigned to being forever tied to Bogart and expressed annoyance that her later marriage to another leading actor, Jason Robards Jr., was often overlooked.

“My obit is going to be full of Bogart, I’m sure,” she told Vanity Fair magazine in a profile of her in March 2011, adding: “I’ll never know if that’s true. If that’s the way, that’s the way it is.”

Lauren Bacall, Hollywood’s Icon of Cool, Dies at 89

She admitted that being a “legend” and “special lady of film” unnerved her because “in my slightly paranoiac head, legends and special ladies don’t work, it’s over for them; they just go around being legends and special ladies.”

She was born Betty Jean Perske in the Bronx on Sept. 16, 1924, the only child of Jewish immigrants. Her father left the family when she was 6, and her mother struggled to make ends meet. She attracted attention as a teenage model while studying acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.

Crowned Miss Greenwich Village in 1942, Bacall made her stage debut in George S. Kaufman’s Franklin Street in Washington, then appeared in March 1943 on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar.

That cover photo was noticed by Hawks’ wife, Nancy, who showed it to the celebrated director, and he called Bacall for a screen test. Based on the test, Hawks told her she would star in something with either Bogart or Cary Grant.

“I thought Cary Grant, great. Humphrey Bogart‚ yuck,” she later said. Nonetheless, Hawks had her meet with Bogart and could not help but notice their immediate chemistry, casting her as the femme fatale Marie in To Have and Have Not, an adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway novel. (Bogart’s character, Steve, nicknamed her “Slim,” which Hawks also called his wife.)

In By Myself, she described meeting Bogart for the first time, on the set of Passage to Marseille (1944).

“Howard told me to stay put, he’d be right back — which he was, with Bogart,” she wrote. “He introduced us. There was no clap of thunder, no lightning bolt, just a simple ‘how do you do.’ Bogart was slighter than I imagined‚ 5 foot 10 and a half, wearing his costume of no-shape trousers, cotton shirt and scarf around his neck. Nothing of import was said‚ we didn’t stay long‚ but he seemed a friendly man.”

But soon, Bacall and Bogart — who at the time was married to his third wife, actress Mayo Methot — began an affair during the filming of To Have and Have Not.

 

The New York Times article has a description of that famous scene from To Have and Have Not:

With an insinuating pose and a seductive, throaty voice — her simplest remark sounded like a jungle mating call, one critic said — Ms. Bacall shot to fame in 1944 with her first movie, Howard Hawks’s adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway novel “To Have and Have Not,” playing opposite Humphrey Bogart, who became her lover on the set and later her husband.

It was a smashing debut sealed with a handful of lines now engraved in Hollywood history.

“You know you don’t have to act with me, Steve,” her character says to Bogart’s in the movie’s most memorable scene. “You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”

But that was not her only amazing role, 5 Roles That Made Lauren Bacall the Coolest Woman in Movie History

More clips at the link.

Gallery of pictures here: Remembering Lauren Bacall | Photo 1 | TMZ.com

And here: Lauren Bacall Dies at 89; in a Bygone Hollywood, She Purred Every Word – NYTimes.com

And more here: Lauren Bacall Dies — Photos Of Hollywood Actress Through The Years | Deadline

As for the rest of the world: Celebrities React to the Death of Lauren Bacall — Vulture

Now just a few news stories that are not about death.

Iranian is first woman to win prestigious math prize

Yeah…go figure.

Fields Medal mathematics prize won by woman for first time in its history

A woman has won the world’s most prestigious mathematics prize for the first time since the award was established nearly 80 years ago.

Maryam Mirzakhani, a maths professor at Stanford University in California, was named the first female winner of the Fields Medal – often described as the Nobel prize for mathematics – at a ceremony in Seoul on Wednesday morning.

The prize, worth 15,000 Canadian dollars, is awarded to exceptional talents under the age of 40 once every four years by the International Mathematical Union. Between two and four prizes are announced each time.

Y’all will find this next one interesting from the Guardian: Women’s rights and their money: a timeline from Cleopatra to Lilly Ledbetter

When did women get the right to inherit property and open bank accounts? How long did it take until women won the legal right to be served in UK pubs? Our timeline traces women’s financial rights from ancient societies to the present day

Many modern women in the US and Europe never question their right to open a bank account, own property, or even buy wine or beer in a pub. These rights, however, were hard won: for much of history, and even up to 40 years ago, middle-class women were not allowed to handle money; even having a job was seen as a sign of financial desperation. In the lastest addition to our Money and Feminism series, we trace the modern history of women and money.

Since we are talking about women and their rights, as seen throughout history…what about a look at women and misogyny in Medieval Lit? Medieval Misogyny and Gawain’s Outburst against Women in “‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’

In other science news: Is empathy in humans and apes actually different?

And look here, for all those folks who are on anti-anxiety meds: Anti-Anxiety Meds We’re Flushing Down the Toilet Could Be Increasing the Lifespan of Fish | Alternet

The rest of today’s post will feature cartoon tributes to Robin Willaims.

Rest in Peace | BobCesca.com | News and Politics Blog and Podcast | We Cover the World

RIPWilliams

 

Robin Williams by Political Cartoonist Steve Nease

152191 600 Robin Williams cartoons

Robin Williams – Political Cartoon by J.D. Crowe, Alabama Media Group – 08/12/2014

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - Robin Williams

 

Robin Williams RIP by Political Cartoonist Milt Priggee

152183 600 Robin Williams RIP cartoons

 

Robin Williams by Political Cartoonist Kevin Siers

152230 600 Robin Williams cartoons

 

Robin Williams by Political Cartoonist Pat Bagley

152226 600 Robin Williams cartoons

 

Robin Williams RIP by Political Cartoonist Steve Sack

152225 600 Robin Williams RIP cartoons

Robin Williams RIP by Political Cartoonist Nate Beeler

152223 600 Robin Williams RIP cartoons

Robin Williams by Political Cartoonist Jimmy Margulies

152218 600 Robin Williams cartoons

 

Robin Williams by Political Cartoonist Joe Heller

152212 600 Robin Williams cartoons

 

Robin Williams by Political Cartoonist Bob Englehart

152210 600 Robin Williams cartoons

 

Black Hole by Political Cartoonist Peter Bromhead

152207 600 Black Hole cartoons

 

RIP Robin Williams by Political Cartoonist Manny Francisco

152162 600 RIP Robin Williams cartoons

 

Robin Williams tribute by Political Cartoonist Dave Granlund

152197 600 Robin Williams tribute cartoons


Tuesday Reads: Remembering Robin Williams (and other news)

EXCLUSIVE:Robin Williams prepares for a bicycle ride around Central Park in NYC

 

Good Morning!!

Media reports (based on the Sheriff’s statement) on Robin Williams’ death are still saying the cause of his death is a “suspected suicide.” From the New York Times:

The Marin County sheriff’s office said in a statement that it “suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.” An investigation was underway.

The statement said that the office received a 911 call at 11:55 a.m. Pacific time, saying that a man had been found “unconscious and not breathing inside his residence.” Emergency personnel sent to the scene identified him as Mr. Williams and pronounced him dead at 12:02 p.m.

I can’t help but be curious about this–does that make me a bad person? My mind keeps going over possible scenarios, wondering how he died and why it isn’t clearly a suicide. I hope we’ll eventually find out what happened, so I can stop having disturbing visual thoughts about it. As someone who has strugged with depression and addiction, I can understand the agony that must have driven Williams to take his own life, but I wish he had reached out to someone first.

The NYT article has some interesting background on Williams’ childhood that I had never heard before.

The privileged son of a Detroit auto executive who grew up chubby and lonesome, playing by himself with 2,000 toy soldiers in an empty room of a suburban mansion, Mr. Williams, as a boy, hardly fit the stereotype of someone who would grow to become a brainy comedian, or a goofy one, but he was both.

This morning the Detroit Free Press republished an article from 1996 in which Williams talks about his childhood home. The interview took place “before the release of the film “Jack.”

“It’s gone; it doesn’t exist anymore, ” says Williams, the winsome memory of his childhood sanctuary written all over his face. Of course, everything is written on Williams’ face: He might as well have a sign in his hair that says, “Post bills here.”

Williams plays an overgrown — and I mean way overgrown — 10-year-old child in “Jack, ” which opens Friday. He’s recalling his own childhood in Bloomfield Hills in a home at the corner of Woodward and Long Lake, which, in his memory, was little short of a fairyland.

“It was a giant, beautiful old mansion, with a gatehouse, an empty garage with room for 25 cars, barns, and there was a very wonderful old English man, Mr. Williams, who looked after the gardens, ” Williams says. He is looking out the balcony window of his Los Angeles hotel suite onto a busy street, but Williams clearly is visualizing the past.

“We didn’t own it; we just rented it, ” says Williams, whose father was an auto executive. “Then we moved to Chicago, and when we came back to Detroit a few years later, we just lived in an apartment. And it was very different, you know. But the first house, it was so wonderful, so peaceful. There was no one for miles around. Only this giant golf course with people named Tad whacking the old ball.”

It’s a nice interview; you can read the rest at the link.

Thinking about Robin Williams’ movies reminded me that my Dad and I went to see Robert Altman’s Popeye together in 1980 when I was home in Indiana for a visit. That was Williams’ very first film. We both really enjoyed it. Williams was perfect as Popeye and Shelley Duvall was a marvelous Olive Oyl. The New York Daily News has a nice list of Williams’ finest performances: From ‘Popeye’ to ‘Good Will Hunting,’ the actor’s most iconic roles.

Robin Williams bench

Of course Williams has a Boston connection too. He won an academy award for his role in Good Will Hunting. A great scene from the movie was shot on a bench in Boston Garden.

From The Hollywood Reporter: Robin Williams Memorial Pops up at ‘Good Will Hunting’ Bench.

The bench that helped Robin Williams earn an Oscar is now the site of an impromptu memorial for the late actor, thanks to a few fans in Boston.

Shortly after they heard of the actor’s death Monday, Nicholas Rabchenuk and his girlfriend headed to the Boston Public Garden bench Williams and Matt Damon made famous in Good Will Hunting.

“We went to the [Boston] Common, and I was really surprised there wasn’t anything there,” Rabchenuk tells The Hollywood Reporter.

They brought flowers and chalk, and found two fans already sitting on the bench. The four of them teamed up to write lines from Good Will Hunting on the ground, including “Sorry guys, I went to see about a girl” and “Your move, chief.”

The plan is to honor Williams’ body of work, not just Good Will Hunting.Hook has already gotten some love (Bangarang!).

“I hope it catches on,” says Rabchenuk, who would like to see similar memorials pop up at benches around the world, as well as at other Boston-area sites portrayed in the film.

You can watch the park bench scene at the link. Here’s another well-acted scene from Good Will Hunting. The sound is a little low, unfortunately.

Williams really was a fine dramatic actor. At Huffington Post, you can watch Williams’ Oscar speech. 

Good will hunting

Just one last link, from WBZ TV in Boston: Robin Williams Left Mark On City Of Boston, by Jim Armstrong.

Williams won an Academy Award for his role in the 1997 film “Good Will Hunting.” Much of the film was shot in Boston and Cambridge, and while he was here, he made a big impression.

In a career that spanned decades, the time Williams spent in Boston seemed to have stuck with him as well.

L Street Tavern, the South Boston bar made famous in the film, still credits Williams and the crew for putting them on the map. When he accepted the Academy Award, he singled out Southie, telling the people of South Boston, “you’re a can of corn, you’re the best.”

Years later, while talking to WBZ-TV about the film “What Dreams May Come,” he was still cracking jokes about South Boston.

“You still a wicked pissah smart? How are ya, what are ya doing,” Williams said in a Boston accent during the 1998 interview. “Hello, all the folks at L Street. How ya doing?”

The L Street Tavern posted a statement on their Facebook page after learning of the actor’s death Monday night:

Rest Peacefully Robin Williams. You were a comedic genius and a friend to all here while filming Good Will Hunting. Thanks for recognizing South Boston in your Academy Award acceptance speech and the many fond memories at L Street Tavern and South Boston Bowl. You, too, are a “Can of Corn”.

Reminiscing endlessly about movies is easy for me, but I guess I should include some of the latest news in this post too.

Sigh . . .
Read the rest of this entry »


Monday Reads: Police Brutality Edition

Good Morning!27BOOK-articleLarge

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of all the stories about America’s out of control Police Departments.  The last few weeks have been especially illustrative of police departments that use deadly force first and cover it all up later.  There’s just one story after another of police shooting and killing unarmed citizens and hapless dogs. Almost immediately afterwards, we get some kind of arrest, story, or whatever that says the police acted righteously. Why are so many unarmed people being killed by heavily armed police officers?  WTF is going on?

There are four recent  incidents where the police used deadly force in highly questionable situations.  The first shooting is from Texas, the second from Ohio, the third is a strangling in New York City, and the latest shooting is from Missouri.  This is obviously a national problem.

First up,  an off duty officer killed a teen supposedly shoplifting in a Walmart after seeing a few security guards chase the teen out the door.  Was deadly force really necessary over a smart phone cover? This sounds a lot like the Zimmerman defense if you ask me. This young man was Latino.

A 19-year-old shoplifting suspect in Conroe was shot and killed by an off-duty sergeant who said the teen choked him to the point of nearly passing out, police said.

The Conroe Police Department said officers were dispatched to the Walmart on N. Loop 336 W after store employees tried to stop a young man, Russell Rios, who allegedly stole a pair of iPhone cases early Wednesday evening.

Off-duty police Sgt. Jason Blackwelder was briefed by the workers and chased down the suspect in a wooded area southwest of the store, according to police.

Once in the woods, the suspect and the officer became engaged in a very intense struggle, and at one point the officer was being choked by the suspect, said Sgt. Dorcy Riddle. … to the extent that he thought he was going to lose consciousness.

Blackwelder fired his weapon, striking Rios and killing him. The sergeant was treated for minor injuries at the hospital and later released.

Old Photos of Boston Police (1)This actually was the second shooting involving a Walmart.  This one involved a black teenager examining a Toy Gun.  Now mind you, we had weeks of open carry assholes carrying actual loaded semi-automatic weapons around stores.  Only the shoppers felt threatened by these jerks.  However, those were all white folks toting the real thing so the security guards must’ve have thought it was no big deal.

As it turns out, John Crawford, the man shot dead by police was killed after doing nothing more than picking up a toy gun in the store.

Crawford, 22, was identified, in part by the mother of his child, who he was on the phone with at the time police shot him dead.

That woman, LeeCee Johnson, said Crawford went to the area to visit family members.

“We was just talking. He said he was at the video games playing videos and he went over there by the toy section where the toy guns were. And the next thing I know, he said ‘It’s not real,’ and the police start shooting and they said ‘Get on the ground,’ but he was already on the ground because they had shot him,” she said, adding: “And I could hear him just crying and screaming. I feel like they shot him down like he was not even human.”

Last month, an NYPD office strangled an unarmed black man with an illegal chokehold even while he was telling them he could not breathe.  The IMG_7800edittedincident was videotaped. The police later arrested the videographer and the man’s wife in unrelated charges seemingly to  put their testimony in any court case against the choker into question.

Confronted by police trying to arrest him for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes, Eric Garner raised both hands in the air and, with passive defiance, told the officers not to touch him. Seconds later, a video shows the officer behind him grab the 350-pound man in a chokehold and pull him to the sidewalk, rolling him onto his stomach.

“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Garner said repeatedly, his cries muffled into the pavement.

The video of the Thursday skirmish shows the Staten Island man lying on the ground motionless after the incident. An asthmatic, Garner was later declared dead at a nearby hospital, according to CNN affiliate WCBS. Police said he suffered a heart attack and died en route to the hospital.

“This is a terrible tragedy that occurred yesterday. A terrible tragedy that no family should have to experience,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, calling the video of the incident “very troubling.”

Police told WCBS that 43-year-old Garner, a father of six, had a lengthy criminal history and had been previously arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes in May.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is seen on video choking Garner, was put on modified assignment and stripped of his shield and gun as the New York Police Department continues to investigate the incident, WCBS reported. The chokehold tactic is prohibited by the NYPD.

The most recent shooting involved an unarmed black teen who was being harassed by the police for not getting on the sidewalk.  This young man was leon_meredithtwo days away from his first year in college.

An unarmed black teenager fatally shot Saturday by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., had been struggling for the officer’s gun, law enforcement officials said Sunday as hundredLs of protesters gathered outside the police department.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said the youth, Michael Brown, 18, allegedly struggled for a Ferguson police officer’s weapon in a patrol car before the officer fired several shots about noon Saturday. Witnesses have said the youth had his hands in the air as he fled the patrol car.

Brown’s mother said she didn’t understand why police didn’t subdue him with a club or Taser.

“I would like to see him fired,” Lesley McSpadden told the Associated Press, referring to the officer who shot her son. “I would like to see him go to jail with the death penalty.”

Belmar said there would be a thorough investigation, with possible inclusion of the FBI. Because Brown is African American, the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People has said it would seek a federal investigation.

katrina-swat-teamIs this part and parcel of the militarization of police happening since 9/11 or is it an outcropping of the rampant, outrageous racism that has been noticeable since the country elected its first black president?  I can remember being in Denver about two years ago during an Occupy march.  I also remember watching tons of riot police in military vehicles rushing around the downtown streets to intercept what was obviously a peaceful gathering of Americans in keeping with our constitutional rights.  But, SWAT raids are commonplace these days.

It’s 3:00 a.m. Your children are screaming and your dog is lying dead in a pool of blood. Scorch marks and shattered glass cover the floor. You’re being held at gunpoint by towering figures wearing black and holding AK-47s.

This isn’t a Hollywood movie set. Odds are this is a predawn SWAT raid targeting a family of color. Mission objective: search the home for a small amount of drugs.

There are an estimated 45,000 SWAT raids every year. That means this sort of violent, paramilitary raid is happening in about 124 homes every day – or more likely every night – not in an overseas combat zone, but here in American neighborhoods. The police, who are supposed to serve and protect communities, are instead waging war on the people who live in them.

Our new report, War at Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing, takes a hard look at 800 of these raids – or at least what state and local law enforcement agencies are willing to tell us about them. We found that almost 80% of SWAT raids are to search homes, usually for drugs, and disproportionately, in communities of color. During these drug searches, at least 10 officers often piled into armored personnel carriers. They forced their way into people’s homes using military equipment like battering rams 60 percent of the time. And they were 14 times more likely to deploy flashbang grenades than during SWAT raids for other purposes.

Public support for the failed War on Drugs is at its lowest ever, and yet police are still using hyper-aggressive tactics and heavy artillery to fight it. This paramilitary approach to everyday policing brutalizes bystanders and ravages homes. We reviewed one case in which a young mother was shot and killed with her infant son in her arms. During another raid, a grandfather of 12 was killed while watching baseball in his pajamas. And we talked with a mother whose toddler was covered in burns, shot through with a hole that exposed his ribs, and placed into a medically induced coma after a flashbang grenade exploded in his crib. None of these people was the suspect. In many cases like these, officers did not find the suspect or any contraband in the home.

Even if they had found contraband, the idea of cops-cum-warriors would still be deeply troubling. Police can – and do – conduct searches and take suspects into custody without incident, without breaking into a home in the middle of the night, and without discharging their weapons. The fact is, very few policing situations actually require a full SWAT deployment or a tank. And simply having drugs in one’s home should not be a high-risk factor used to justify a paramilitary raid.

We can no longer accept such brutal tactics as a routine way to fight the War on Drugs. It’s time for an exit strategy.

All too often, the worst police behavior is aimed at minority communities. images

Jason L. Riley is a Wall Street Journal columnist and vocal critic of what hecalls “race hustlers”—“the second and third-tier types” who lead the civil rights groups of the present.
For him, the greatest barriers to black advancement aren’t economic disadvantage and persistent discrimination, they’re “anti-social behavior” and “counterproductive attitudes toward work, school, marriage, and so forth.”

Last Friday, Riley responded to Al Sharpton’s call for criminal justice reform with this Twitter broadside: “Liberals want to discuss black incarceration rates but not black crime rates,” he said. “Stop pretending the two are unrelated.” The implication is that black criminality is to blame.

There’s no question that relative to their population, black Americans hold adisproportionate share of arrests and convictions for crime. But it’s important we don’t confuse that with a propensity for crime. Put another way, black overrepresentation in crime statistics has as much to do with policing and the legal process as it does with the actual crimes committed.

For millions of black and Latino New Yorkers, the city is a literal police state.

It’s worth noting that just a few hours after Riley made his assertion, the New York City medical examiner ruled Eric Garner’s death a homicide by chokehold. If you haven’t followed the coverage, Garner was killed in July during a struggle with Staten Island police officers. Because a witness (who was later arrested on gun charges) videotaped the encounter, we know that the 43-year-old father of six had just stopped a fight, and was agitated by the police presence. “Every time you see me, you try to mess with me,” he said to the officers, protesting prior treatment. “This stops today.” Within minutes, police had placed Garner in a chokehold and wrestled him to the ground, where he struggled, gasped for air, and died.

Bystanders would catch two other instances of police violence over the next week. In the first, an officer is seen stomping on the head of a man arrested for marijuana possession, and in the second, an officer is shown using a chokehold on a pregnant woman after she grilled food on the sidewalk outside of her home (which, apparently, is against the law in New York City).

The reason for these stops is a policing approach called “broken windows,” first articulated by scholars James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in a 1982 Atlantic Monthly essay and later adopted by the NYPD in 1993. Broken windows prioritizes cracking down on minor offenses on the theory that doing so can preempt serious crime. Or, to use the metaphor of the idea, actual broken windows create the appearance of disorder, which creates actual disorder as criminals take advantage of the inviting environment. Rather than wait for the serious crimes to begin, police should “repair the windows”—focus on petty crime like loitering, and you’ll stop the worse crime from taking hold.

It’s an elegant concept, but there’s little evidence it works. “Taken together,” notes a 2006 study from the University of Chicago, “the evidence from New York City and from the five-city social experiment provides no support for a simple first-order disorder-crime relationship as hypothesized by Wilson and Kelling nor for the proposition that broken windows policing is the optimal use of scarce law enforcement resources.” Yes, the massive New York crime decline of the 1990s coincided with broken windows policing, but chances are it had more to do with a reversion to the mean (“what goes up, must come down, and what goes up the most, tends to come down the most”) than any new approach.

If broken windows were just a waste of resources, it wouldn’t be a huge concern. But as a policy, broken windows has also had the effect of terrorizing black and Latino New Yorkers.

Perceptions of urban “disorder” are tied tightly to race and have been for more than a century (as detailed in sociologist Khalil Gibran Muhammad’s The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America). As we’ve seen on a regular basis—from Jonathan Ferrell to Renisha McBride—people of color, and blacks in particular, are feared as criminal in ways their white counterparts aren’t.

This is one of the most enlightening quotes I’ve seen for some time. The police union’ associate basically believes that resisting arrest is a reason to use deadly force. This is in regards to Garner’s death outlined above.

The police officer who killed a Staten Island dad with a prohibited chokehold was just doing what he had been trained to do.

So claimed Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, in strident and eyebrow-raising defense Tuesday of NYPD officers, during which he called the medical examiner’s conclusions about Eric Garner’s death “absolutely wrong.”

“It is not a chokehold,” Lynch insisted. “It was bringing a person to the ground the way we’re trained to do to place him under arrest.”

Lynch, who is not a doctor, also said the ME’s office was “mistaken” when it concluded after an autopsy that the 43-year-old Garner’s death was a homicide.

“I’ve never seen a document that was more political than that press release by the ME,” Lynch said. “Chokehold. That’s not a medical term.”

Lynch also ripped Mayor de Blasio for not backing the officers in this case. “The mayor needs to support New York City police officers unequivocally,” he said.

De Blasio defended the ME, calling the office “the gold standard in this country for the work they do.”

Lynch’s remarks appeared to be aimed at taking the heat off Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was caught on a shocking cellphone video wrapping an arm around Garner’s neck and dragging him to the pavement.

“I can’t breathe!” Garner could be heard yelling. “I can’t breathe!”

That video sparked nationwide outrage and Pantaleo was yanked off the street as the Staten Island prosecutor launched an investigation. Pantaleo has not been charged with a crime.

Lynch said Garner had been stopped a week earlier by police officers for peddling unlicensed cigarettes on the street.

“He was warned to stop the illegal sale and was not placed under arrest but was warned, admonished and sent on his way,” Lynch said.

So Garner knew he was in big trouble when cops caught him selling loosies again, the union president said.

“But the next week he said he wasn’t going to be arrested,” Lynch said.

Flanked by Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins, Lynch decried the “insulting and unjustified manner in which police officers are being portrayed by politicians, race baiters, pundits and even our elected officials.”

I’m not sure what exactly the answer is to all of this, but I will say that you cannot ignore the obvious patterns playing out all over the country. The wattsmessage they are sending is Resist and Die.

BuvBYMsIEAARHWMSo, as I write this, I’ve found out that 49 year after the Watts Riots, Ferguson MO–a primarily  black community close to St Louis–has erupted in riots.  That’s the SWAT group patrolling the area outside a Walgreen’s that I’ve juxtaposed to an old photo of Watts.

What started as a peaceful prayer vigil Saturday evening to remember a young man gunned down by police, has escalated into full scale riots and looting in Ferguson, Missouri.

Angry mobs have smashed windows, set fires and looted businesses as a massive showing of police, some wearing riot gear have moved into the area along West Florissant just south of 270.

Police are also responding to reports of shootings throughout the area. At one point, windows of a News 4 live truck were smashed out by the angry crowd.

Raw Video: Exclusive interview with witness of looting in Ferguson

There are reports that police have dispersed the crowd in Ferguson, but the mobs have moved into some neighboring communities.

News video and amateur video from the scene have captured mobs of crowds racing into stores and businesses and then rushing out with armloads of stolen goods.

Tear gas has reportedly been used by police in some areas.

PHOTOS: Computer | Mobile

Two groups of protesters gathered around 8:00 Sunday night in Ferguson to bring awareness to the death of Michael Brown, 18, who was shot and killed by police Saturday.

At least fifteen area police agencies have been called to Ferguson.  Police set up a staging area at West Florissant and Ferguson Road.  Police are also staging at the Plaza at the Boulevard parking lot, where officers are seen putting on riot gear.  Dozens of police vehicles are on scene, from all over St. Louis County, including Chesterfield, Country Club Hills and the Missouri Highway Patrol.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: No more crazies…no more hateful people

1960: A boy, dressed as a toreador, faces a large prize-winning Jersey cow at a Scottish agricultural show.

1960: A boy, dressed as a toreador, faces a large prize-winning Jersey cow at a Scottish agricultural show.

Good Morning

All this week, there has been a feeling…like I am teetering on the edge of a high precipice. It does not need to be a cliff, it could my front porch down here in Banjoville, a redneck hell hole…where in the past two days my son has been threaten by one crazy ass, gun totting, bad check writing, self-proclaimed FBI-wanted shitkicker who wasn”t happy her check was not accepted by the grocery store Jake is working at now.

And….another self-righteous Christian fucker who asked Jake if he was wearing a medical alert bracelet, to which my son replied….”Yes, I was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.” You know what this dickjerk Jeeesus-loving freak assclown said???? He said that Jake got that disease because, “Gawd was punishing (Jake) for something” he did…Can you believe these people?

That was just the cherry to what has been an exhausting week. I don’t think I can write any more about it. You get the picture, I am sure of that.

So here are a few links, think of this as an open thread, just can’t manage anything else.

Ship Found At Ground Zero Dates To 1773

A ship found four years ago at the World Trade Center site was made from wood cut around 1773, new research shows.

Scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said the white oak in the ship’s frame came from a Philadelphia-area forest and matched the material used to build the city’s Independence Hall.

They announced the findings in the July issue of the journal Tree Ring Research.

The discovery links the ship to key dates in American history: 1773 was two years before the start of the war and three years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Scientists Finally Know Why The Moon Is Shaped Like A Lemon

Scientists say they have finally discovered why the moon is shaped a bit like a lemon — somewhat flattened with a bulge on each side. As detailed in a new paper published online in the journal Nature on July 30, 2014, it’s all about tidal and rotational forces.

“Early tides heated the Moon’s crust in different places, and those differences in heating in different areas gave the Moon most of its shape,” lead researcher Ian Garrick-Bethell, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told the Agence France-Presse.

In other words, during the moon’s infancy some 4.4 billion years ago — when it was still super-hot as the result of an impact between Earth and another object — the Earth’s gravitational (tidal) forces molded its shape ever so slightly.

“Later on, those tides warped the outside of the moon while it was cooling, and it froze in that warped shape,” Garrick-Bethell told the Agence France-Presse.

Of course this does not explain things for the idiots who push the flat earth mantra, you know the one I am speaking of.

Update on those holes in Siberia: Mysterious Holes In Siberia May Actually Be Odd Type Of Sinkhole

(Have I posted these already?)

This One Tree Grows 40 Different Types Of Fruit, Is Probably From The Future

o-TREE-900

A few crazy news stories from around the US:

Prosecutors Won’t Charge Florida Man For Fatal Gunfire Outside Wal-Mart, Citing Stand Your Ground | ThinkProgress

Wall Street Analysts Predict The Slow Demise Of Walmart And Target

Lawyer Banned From Representing Female Clients Ever Again

Actual grievance decision here: Litchfield Judicial District Grievance Panel v. Mayo – No. 08-0767 – 08-0767.pdf

Obama on Iraq: ‘This is going to be a long-term project’ | Washington Watch | McClatchy DC

Watch a Giraffe Give Birth! Live!

Live cam here: EarthCam – Giraffe Cam

On to some funny things…Madonna in Cannes | Tom & Lorenzo Fabulous & Opinionated

Yah, the queens are making fun of Madonna.

JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL, when did Madonna turn 85 years old? When did she turn into Edina Monsoon? EXISTENTIAL CRISIS PENDING.

More at that link to TLo.

Another one because, well…you will see: Jon Hamm for GQ UK Magazine | Tom & Lorenzo Fabulous & Opinionated

Pretty:

Jon-Hamm-GQ-UK-September-2014-Issue-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO-1

Nice.

Which is a good segue into this latest video from Funny or Die: Putting Joan Holloway In A Modern Office Says A Lot About Income Inequality

If you think Christina Hendricks’ character Joan Holloway would be a ridiculous throwback in today’s office environment, try women still making 23 percent less than their male counterparts.

Funny or Die teamed up with the “Mad Men” actress for this hilariously scathing critique of income inequality that’s certain to get people talking. After all, if workplace policies are going to be straight out of the ’60s, then our clothes, technology and smoking habits might as well be, too.

More eye candy and some interesting reading:

Paris Review – The Professor and the Siren, Marina Warner

The Professor and the Siren

August 9, 2014 | by

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s groundbreaking mermaid.

the-mermaid

By the side of the path around the circular, volcanic crater of Lake Pergusa, near the town of Enna in the center of Sicily, a carved stone marks the spot where Proserpina, the goddess of the spring, was seized and carried off by Pluto into the underworld. “Qui, in questo luogo,” proclaims the inscription. “Proserpina fù rapita.” This is the very place:

                                          …that fair field
Of Enna, where Proserpin gath’ring flow’rs
Herself a fairer Flow’r by gloomy Dis
Was gather’d, which cost Ceres all that pain
To seek her through the world.
(Milton, Paradise Lost, IV)

And even more eye candy:  10 Ballet Photos That Prove Dancing Is The Magical Alternative To Walking

Maybe not “candy” but still damn interesting: 10 Rare Color Photographs From World War I | Co.Design | business + design

This is just cool as hell: Is an origami robot uprising unfolding? (+video) – CSMonitor.com

And finally, a last link about a new movie….Home Movies: Robert Altman, Hollywood Renegade | TIME

Have a good day, it’s an open thread.


Saturday Morning Cartoons

Good Morning!!

Welcome to Sky Dancing Blog’s Saturday morning cartoons for political junkies!

First up, World in Chaos, by Gary McCoy

World in chaos

 

How did the world get so crazy so quickly? Today’s top story is Iraq. It seems as if everyday there’s a different trouble spot.

ISIS, by Scott Stantis

download

Isis, by Adam Zyglus

August 9, 2014

If only George W. Bush hadn’t gotten us ensnared in Iraq and Afghanistan! How could Americans forget the lessons of Vietnam? Will we ever escape?

 

Deja Vu, by Marshall Ramsey

Deja vu cartoon

 

Back in Iraq, by John Darkow

Backiniraq

WaPo:

U.S. jets take to skies again over northern Iraq, a day after strikes on Islamic State.

American fighter jets roared over the new front lines in northern Iraq Saturday but did not strike, a day after airstrikes on Islamist militants in the region put the U.S. military back in action in Iraqi skies less than three years after troops withdrew and President Obama declared the war over.

The strikes Friday were limited in scope but helped temper days of building panic across the north of the country as militants with the extremist Islamic State sliced through a string of towns and villages scattered on the outskirts of the Kurdish region and sent tens of thousands of civilians fleeing for their lives.

The airstrikes also presented the first significant challenge yet to months of unchecked expansion by the al-Qaeda offshoot, which has swept through much of Iraq and neighboring Syria over the past year, annihilating its opponents, capturing valuable resources and declaring the creation of an Islamic caliphate in a nation-size chunk of territory.

LA Times:

With rise of Islamic State, Christians feel Iraq is no longer home.

They have gone from comfortable lives in historic towns and villages in Iraq’s parched Nineveh plains to the precarious existence of refugees unsure about their next meal and where they will spend the night — and even whether they belong in this country anymore.

“We have no safety, no security, no guarantees of anything,” said Alhaan Mansour, 33, as her 6-year-old son, Gaid, clung to her and listeners nodded in fervent agreement. “This is no life for anyone. We need a place where we can be safe and live our lives.”

The world has watched as an extremist group that dubs itself the Islamic State emerged from the chaos of the Syrian civil war to carve out a self-proclaimed caliphate that some say is now the size of the state of Indiana. Uncounted multitudes of Syrians and Iraqis, most of them Muslim, have become casualties.

But for the Christian minority of northwest Iraq, the militants’ onslaught has been nothing short of a catastrophe. In the last week, most of the Christian communities of the Nineveh plains have been overrun, forcing perhaps 100,000 people to flee, many to the semiautonomous Kurdish zone that has its capital here.

Even before the latest exodus, Christians had to evacuate the city of Mosul, long home to a vibrant Christian community, or face death at the hands of the extremists.
Horsey Iraq

 

USA Today:

Analysis: Limited U.S. strikes in Iraq may not work.

In authorizing targeted air strikes against Islamic militants in Iraq, President Obama has opted to avoid the all-out “shock and awe” campaigns of previous U.S. conflicts in Iraq.

Air strikes will be limited to defending American forces and supporting a humanitarian effort to provide food and water to thousands of starving Yazidi refugees who have fled Islamic State militants because they practice a different religion.

That response may prove inadequate to force the retreat of a surprisingly ferocious enemy that has evolved into a conventional army equipped with tanks and heavy weapons. Many of those weapons, including Humvees and artillery, are American-made and were seized from Iraqi national troops who fled Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, when the militants attacked in June.

The air strikes will be limited in scope and not part of “a larger air campaign at this point,” a senior defense official said Friday. He asked not to be named because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the decision.

Isn’t that just ducky? But wait —  President Obama just told us that the airstrikes are working.

NBC News:

Obama Proclaims U.S. Airstrikes Working in Iraq

U.S. airstrikes against militant Islamist rebels and humanitarian airdrops in Iraq have weakened the rapidly advancing fighters and successfully delivered “thousands of meals and gallons of water” to tens of thousands of refugees, President Barack Obama said Saturday.

Obama said in a nationally televised news conference from the South Lawn of the White House that “we will not have troops again in Iraq,” but he said he was determined not only to “protect our American citizens in Iraq” but also to prevent “an act of genocide” against the refugees. He said the United Kingdom and France had agreed to join the U.S. in providing humanitarian assistance.

U.S. jets launched airstrikes Friday on isolated targets to stem the advance of fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, who have trapped tens of thousands of Christians and ethno-religious Yazidi on a mountaintop in northern Iraq. The U.S. also said it made a second airdrop of food and waterFriday to the refugees.

I sure hope he’s right.

Richard Nixon’s Downfall

The anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation is also in the news. It happened 40 years ago today.

Christian Science Monitor:

Richard Nixon resignation: his raw, personal farewell (+video), by Peter Grier.

Forty years ago today President Richard M. Nixon told the nation that he had decided to resign from office, effective at noon, Aug. 9, 1974. The long-building scandal of Watergate had finally cost Nixon theWhite House, the political prize he had sought all his adult life.

He had little choice. It was either quit or be forcibly ousted from the Oval Office. The previous evening, Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona and two other top congressional Republicans had told him he would be impeached by the House and convicted in the Senate if he fought on. His support among the public had finally collapsed. Fifty-seven percent of US voters thought he should be removed from the presidency, according to Gallup figures.

His approval rating was an abysmal 24 percent.

Today’s voters, inured by years of partisan strife, a 2000 presidential election decided in the courts, and the impeachment of President Clinton, might find it hard to imagine the turmoil then roiling the US electorate. Vietnam, and then Watergate, had split the nation more deeply than anything since the civil war. Nixon’s televised farewell address to the nation began at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time, and when he uttered the fateful line “I shall resign the presidency at noon tomorrow,” the roar from protesters gathered in Lafayette Square was so loud that reporters watching the feed of the speech in the White House basement could not hear the next line.

Read more at the link.

New Yorker:

The Weird Minutes Before Nixon’s Resignation

Many Americans remember the telecast during which Richard Nixon announced his resignation from the Presidency, forty years ago today, as a dark moment in the nation’s history. Watching the Leader of the Free World crumple in disgrace induced a mordant glee in certain quarters, but it was still a grim spectacle. The comedian Harry Shearer has another word for the events of that night: “goofy.”

In the clip below, you can watch Shearer (who is perhaps best known as the bassist in “This Is Spinal Tap” and as the voice of Mr. Burns and several other characters on “The Simpsons”) play Nixon in a verbatim reënactment of what happened in the Oval Office in the minutes directly before and after the resignation. Shearer strides in, as Nixon did that night, a man seemingly unperturbed by the fact that he is now probably the most widely despised American political villain of the twentieth century. He joshes inanely with the TV crew, who respond with shuffling embarrassment. There are only a few moments—like when Nixon snaps at a photographer for taking too many pictures—that he acts like he’s about to deliver anything more serious than the annual turkey pardon.

When you watch the actual footage from that evening, recorded by one of the TV cameras in the room, Nixon’s swaggering tone-deafness will make you squirm. Shearer’s reënactment magnifies that effect, both because the use of multiple cameras provides detail and depth, and because presenting the episode as a dramatic scene underlines the strangeness of the President’s behavior.

More about Harry Shearer’s show at the link.

The Ghost of Richard Nixon, by Dave Granlund

ghost of richard nixon

 

A few more timely cartoons

Hillary beats Christie in New Jersey poll, by Jimmy Margulies

Hillary Christie

Republicans argue immigration, by Daryl Cagle

Cagle Immigration

Republican Scorecard, by Monte Wolverton

Repub bogey

Republican do-nothings, by RW Matson

Repub do nothings

Have a great weekend, everyone!!

 


Friday Reads: The Good, The Bad, and The Silly

Bart simpson reading

Good Morning!!

There’s plenty of bad news to wallow in today, but I’m determined not to let it get to me. I’m going to begin this post with a story that made me smile and a couple more that made me laugh. After that, I’ll take a look at the dark side of current events.

Last night about 8:00, a “toddler” managed to White House security alert when he “squeezed through the White House gate” and ran onto the lawn, where he was finally intercepted by heavily armed Secret Security agents. At the time, President Obama was about to make a statement on the situation in Iraq. The Washington Post reports:

The brief kerfuffle as agents scrambled to intercept the pint-sized intruder confirms what most people know: toddlers are sneaky, and fast. This one was promptly returned to his parents.

The little guy didn’t get in any trouble — at least, not with the feds. And he was unavailable for comment — to anyone — for at least a few more months.

“We were going to wait until he learned to talk to question him,” Secret Service Agent Edwin Donovan said in a statement, “but in lieu of that he got a timeout and was sent on way with parents.”

I sooooo wish there was a video of the action! I suspect we’ll eventually learn the identity of the boy. If nothing else, he’ll have a great story to tell his friends when he grows up.

simpsons policeman

Here’s another silly story. A small-town New Jersey police officer got into an argument with a resident with a grudge against the local animal shelter who was “seen taking pictures” inside a public building. The cop began ranting about President Obama, and the whole thing was caught on tape. From Helmetta, NJ:

Special Police Officer Richard Recine now is the subject of an internal affairs investigation after the video was posted online and was seen by Police Director Robert Manney, who called the comments an “embarrassment.”

In the video, taken Monday at the borough municipal building, resident Steve Wronko gets into a verbal confrontation with Recine, who was called to the building because Wronko was seen taking pictures inside.

After Wronko insists he has a constitutional right to record in a public place, Recine responds.

“Obama has decimated the friggin’ constitution, so I don’t give a damn,” says Recine, a retired Franklin cop. “Because if he doesn’t follow the Constitution we don’t have to.”

Wronko then turns to the person recording the camera to make sure that was recorded. Recine repeats himself.

“Our president has decimated the constitution, then we don’t have to.”

Wronko and his wife have been getting on local officials’ nerves for awhile now. They say they are

campaigning for reform at the borough animal shelter, which they said gave them an underage and sick puppy that caused them thousands of dollars in veterinarian bills.

“We wanted them to pay for the medical bills. Now it’s way past the money,” Collene Freda-Wronko said. “Now it’s about getting animals out of that shelter and getting people into that shelter who could run that facility better.”

She said police have ordered her husband to stop videorecording at the animal shelter during two previous incidents.

Here’s the viral video of officer Recine expressing his opinions about his right to ignore the Constitution.

chiefwiggum_3943

Recine, a retired Franklin, N.J. police officer who is collecting a pension of around $76,000, and was working in Helmetta for an hourly wage, has now resigned. Oddly, he is registered Democrat.

“I don’t want to give a black eye to law enforcement,” Recine, 59, said Thursday in an exclusive interview with MyCentralJersey.com. “People are saying some really nasty stuff about cops. I don’t want all officers painted with the same brush.”

Borough Administrator Herbert Massa said the resignation was accepted by Police Director Robert Manney, who had called Recine’s comments an “embarrassment.”

The video first was reported Wednesday by MyCentralJersey.com and the story quickly went viral. The story was picked up by the Drudge Report and was the top story Thursday morning on the online community news website Reddit. Many readers were upset that Recine’s comments were dismissive of civil liberties.

Recine claims that when he made the remarks about Obama, he was just being “sarcastic.”

“It was just a stupid statement on my part. He got me riled and I said it,” he explained. “I don’t believe that at all. I’m the most patriotic person in the world. I believe in God, the flag, country, the Constitution.” ….

“I tried to explain to him that since 9/11 you just can’t walk into a place and take videos,” Recine said Thursday. “All he kept on doing was saying he had civil rights, and the Constitution, and he didn’t have to give me information. And I kind of like lost my temper.”

No one asked Recine why terrorists would target a public building in Helmetta, NJ, population 2,200.

The-Simpsons-Tapped-Out-Rev.-Lovejoy

This next story isn’t exactly funny–well, as my dad used to say, “it’s not funny ha ha; it’s funny peculiar.” From Raw Story, CEO of Baptist center fired after arrest for arranging dog sex encounter on Craigslist.

Jerald “Jerry” Hill, 56, of Camden County [Missouri] was arrested on  Aug. 5th after setting up a meeting with an undercover officer for the purpose of  having sex with a dog, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.

According to Boone County sheriff’s Detective Tracy Perkins, her office  received a tip that someone was seeking sex with a dog or other type of animal — which she did not specify — on Craigslist. An undercover officer exchanged emails with Hill offering a dog for sex. Subsequently, Hill was taken into custody in Columbia, MO., when he arrived anticipating a sexual tryst.

Hill’s employer is concerned for his “well-being.” Continuing from Raw Story:

Hill is currently listed as the president and CEO of the Windermere Baptist Conference Center, located in Roach, Missouri, whichissued a statement saying that they were supportive and grateful for his work, but were worried about how the impact of his arrest would reflect on the center.

“We are concerned for the well-being of Jerry…and we are also concerned with the well-being of Windermere,” Chairman Arthur Mallory said. “Windermere will continue to function in a good way…. It is a significant piece of God’s kingdom’s work.”

Some Serious but Positive News

I actually managed to find some positive stories in the serious news today, so I’ll begin with that. From Politico: IRS notches legal win over lost tea party emails.

The IRS won what might be Round One in a series of contests pitting tea party groups against the agency, with a federal judge rejecting a conservative group’s bid for a court-appointed forensics expert to hunt for ex-official Lois Lerner’s lost emails.

Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia said True the Vote’s lawsuit against the IRS failed to show “irreparable harm” in its injunction relief request and that “the public interest weighs strongly against the type of injunctive relief the plaintiff seeks.”

“Despite the general distrust of the defendants expressed by the plaintiff, the Court has no factual basis to concur with that distrust … and therefore concludes that the issuance of an injunction will not further aid in the recovery of the emails, if such recovery is possible, but will rather only duplicate and potentially interfere with ongoing investigative activities,” he wrote in a court memorandum posted Wednesday afternoon.

simpsons reading

Walton found further fault with True the Vote’s legal arguments.

True the Vote says it is one of the conservative groups that were discriminated against by the IRS in the scandal that erupted last year. The controversy again hit a boiling point this summer when the IRS said a 2011 computer crash erased Lerner emails that congressional Republicans say are vital to its investigation of the matter.
But Walton found a number of problems with True the Vote’s legal demands.

He said the group must establish that it would suffer “irreparable harm” in the absence of the injunction, along with a handful of other requirements such as whether it’s in the public interest.

More details at the link.

I’ve written a few times about the Dozier School for Boys in Florida and the University of South Florida’s archaeological dig a the site of the former reform school. From Reuters, via Raw Story: First remains identified among 55 bodies found at notorious FL reform school.

George Owen Smith, a 14-year-old caught with an older boy in a stolen car, was sent in 1940 to a reform school in the Florida Panhandle, never to be seen again by his family.

His remains became the first to be identified among 55 bodies dug up from unmarked graves last year on the campus of the Dozier School for Boys, the University of South Florida announced on Thursday….

“It feels pretty good, really after 73 years. It’s a feeling of relief,” Ovell Krell, 85, Smith’s younger sister, told Reuters on receiving confirmation of his whereabouts.

Erin Kimmerle, the lead researcher and associate professor of anthropology at USF, said in a statement: “We may never know the full circumstances of what happened to Owen or why his case was handled the way it was.

“But we do know that he now will be buried under his own name and beside family members who longed for answers.”

Video from CBS News:

The Rest of the News, Headlines Only

Homer Simpson news

AP via Bloomberg Businessweek, Iraqi and Kurdish officials welcome US airdrops.

New York Daily News, U.S. military launches first airstrikes on Islamic fighters: Pentagon

Global Post, US launches strikes on Islamic State in Iraq (LIVE BLOG).

Via WaPo, AP Analysis: Iraq upheaval threatens Obama legacy.

Slate, What You Need to Know About the Likely New American Intervention in Iraq.

The Guardian, Against the war: the movement that dare not speak its name in Israel.

AP via Daily Mail, WHO: Ebola outbreak is a public health emergency.

BBC News, Russia arrests Ukrainian officers for ‘war crimes’

New York Times, Russia Responds to Western Sanctions With Import Bans of Its Own

Raw Story, Oklahoma GOP fundraising flier so crudely racist, Democrats at first suspected a hoax.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a fabulous Friday!!